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´╗┐Title: Won from the Waves
Author: Kingston, William Henry Giles, 1814-1880
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Won from the Waves" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



Won from the Waves, by W.H.G. Kingston.

________________________________________________________________________
This is a splendid book, one of Kingston's very best, written and
published at the very end of his life, and it will give you a very good
read.

Of course there are the usual swimming exercises, but there is just so
much more going on, that you will always be wanting to turn the next
page to see what happens.

________________________________________________________________________
WON FROM THE WAVES, BY W.H.G. KINGSTON.



CHAPTER ONE.

ON THE PIER.

It was a gloomy evening.  A small group of fishermen were standing--at
the end of a rough wooden pier projecting out into the water and forming
the southern side of the mouth of a small river.  A thick mist, which
drove in across the German Ocean, obscured the sky, and prevented any
object being seen beyond a few hundred fathoms from the shore, on which
the dark leaden-coloured waves broke lazily in with that sullen-sounding
roar which often betokens the approach of a heavy gale.

On the north side of the river was a wide extent of sandy ground, where
the vegetation consisted of stunted furze-bushes and salt-loving plants
with leaves of a dull pale green, growing among patches of coarse grass,
the roots of which assisted to keep the sand from being blown away by
the fierce wintry gales which blew across it.  On the right hand of the
fishermen as they looked seaward, and beyond an intervening level space,
rose a line of high cliffs of light clay and sand extending far to the
southward, with a narrow beach at their base.  Parallel with the river
was a green bank, on the sides of which were perched several cottages,
the materials composing them showing that they were the abodes of the
hardy men who gained their livelihood on the salt deep.  The palings
which surrounded them, the sheds and outhouses, and even the ornaments
with which they were decorated, were evidently portions of wrecks.  Over
the door of one might be seen the figure-head of some unfortunate
vessel.  An arbour, not rustic but nautical, was composed of the carved
work of a Dutch galliot; indeed, the owners of few had failed to secure
some portion of the numerous hapless vessels which from time to time had
been driven on their treacherous coast.

On the level ground between the cliff and the river stood two or three
other cottages.  One, the largest of them, appeared to be built almost
entirely of wreck wood, from the uneven appearance presented by the
walls and roof, the architect having apparently adapted such pieces of
timber as came to hand without employing the saw to bring them into more
fitting shape; the chimney, however, and the lower portions of the
walls, were constructed of hewn stone, taken probably from some ancient
edifice long demolished.  Though the exterior of the cottage, with its
boat and fish sheds, looked somewhat rough, it had altogether a
substantial and not uncomfortable appearance.

The most conspicuous object in the landscape was a windmill standing a
little way to the southward on the top of the cliff.  Its sails were
moving slowly round, but their tattered condition showed that but a
small amount of grist was ground within.

Such was the aspect of the little village of Hurlston and its
surroundings towards the end of the last century.  It was not especially
attractive--indeed few scenes would have appeared to advantage at that
moment; but when sunshine lighted up the blue dancing waters, varied by
the shadows of passing clouds, the marine painter might have found many
subjects for his pencil among the picturesque cottages, their sturdy
inhabitants, the wild cliffs, and the yellow strand glittering with
shells.

Farther inland the country improved.  On the higher ground to the south
were neat cottages rising among shrubberies, the parish church with its
square tower, and yet farther off the mansion of Sir Reginald Castleton,
in the midst of its park, with its broad lake, its green meadows and
clumps of wide-spreading trees, surrounded by a high paling forbidding
the ingress of strangers, and serving to secure the herd of graceful
deer which bounded amidst its glades.

The fishermen--regardless of the driving mist, which, settling on their
flushing coats and sou'-westers, ran off them in streamlets--kept
turning their eyes seawards, endeavouring to penetrate the increasing
gloom.

"Here comes Adam Halliburt!" exclaimed one of them, turning round; "we
shall hear what he thinks of the weather.  If he has made up his mind to
go to sea to-night, it must come on much worse than it now is to keep
him at home."

As these words were uttered, a tall man a little past middle age,
strongly-built and hardy-looking as the youngest, habited like the rest
in fisherman's costume, was seen approaching from the largest of the
cottages on the level ground.  His face, though weather-beaten, glowed
with health, his forehead was broad, his bright blue eyes beaming with
good-nature and kindly feeling.  He was followed by a stout fisher-boy
carrying a coil of rope over his shoulders, and a basket of provisions
in his hand.  Two other lads, who had been with the men on the pier, ran
to meet him.

"They are doubtful about going to sea to-night.  What do you think of
it, father?" said the eldest.

"There is nothing to stop us that I see, Ben, unless it comes on to blow
harder than it does now," answered Adam, in a cheery voice.  "The
_Nancy_ knows her way to our fishing-grounds as well as we do, and it
must be a bad night indeed to stop her."

"What do you think of it, Adam?" asked two or three of the men, when he
got among them.

Halliburt turned his face seaward, sheltering his eyes with his hand
from the thick drizzle which the mist had now become.

"If the wind holds from the south-east there will be nothing to stop
us," he answered, after waiting a minute.  "It is likely, however, to be
a dirtier night than I had thought for--I will own that.  Jacob," he
said to his youngest boy, "do you go back and stay with your mother, she
wants some help in the house, and you can look after the pigs and
poultry before we are back in the morning."

Jacob, a fine lad of ten or twelve years, though he looked older, seemed
somewhat disappointed, as he had expected to have gone to sea with his
father and brothers.  Without attempting, however, to expostulate, he
immediately turned back towards the cottage, while the rest of the party
proceeded to the _Nancy_, a fine yawl which lay at anchor close to the
pier.

She was quickly hauled alongside, when some of the men jumped into her.
Before following them, Adam Halliburt took another glance seaward.  The
wind drove the rain and spray with greater force than before against his
face.

"We will wait a bit, lads," he said.  "There is no great hurry, and in a
few minutes we shall make out what the weather is going to be."

His own sons and some of the men remained in the boat, knowing that he
was not likely to give up his intention unless the weather speedily
became much worse.  Others followed him back to the pier-head, over
which the spray beat in frequent showers, showing that the sea had got
up considerably, even since they had left it.

They had retreated back a few paces to avoid the salt showers.  Adam
still seemed somewhat unwilling to give up putting to sea, when the dull
sound of a gun from the offing reached their ears.  Another and another
followed.

"There is a ship on Norton Sands," observed one of the men.  "Those guns
are too far off for that," answered Halliburt.  Two others followed, and
then came the thunder-sounding reports of several fired together.

"I was sure those were not guns of distress.  They come from ships in
action, depend on that; and the news is true we heard yesterday, that
the French and English are at it again," exclaimed Adam.  "I thought we
shouldn't long remain friends with the Mounsiers."

"Good luck be with the English ships!" cried one of the fishermen.

"Amen to that! but they must be careful what they are about, for with
the wind dead on shore, if they knock away each other's spars, they are
both more than likely to drift on Norton Sands, and if they do, the Lord
have mercy on them," said Adam, solemnly.  "Whichever gets the victory,
they will be in a bad way, as I fear, after all, it will be a dirty
night.  The wind has shifted three points to the eastward since I left
home, and it's blowing twice as hard as it did ten minutes ago.  We may
as well run the _Nancy_ up to her moorings, lads."

As one of the men was hurrying off to carry this order to the rest, a
heavier blast than before came across the ocean.  It had the effect of
rending the veil of mist in two, and the rain ceasing, the keen eyes of
the fishermen distinguished in the offing two ships running towards the
land, the one a short distance ahead of the other, which was firing at
her from her bow-chasers, the leading and smaller vessel returning the
fire with her after guns, and apparently determined either to gain a
sheltering harbour or to run on shore rather than be taken.  The moment
that revealed her to the spectators showed those on board how near she
was to the shore, though evidently they were not aware of the still
nearer danger of the treacherous sandbank.  An exclamation of dismay and
pity escaped those who were looking at her.

"If she had been half a mile to the nor'ard she might have stood through
Norton Gut and been safe," observed Halliburt; "but if she is a stranger
there is little chance of her hauling off in time to escape the sands."

While he was speaking, the sternmost ship was seen to come to the wind;
her yards were braced up, and now, apparently aware of her danger, she
endeavoured to stand off the land before the rising gale should render
the undertaking impossible.  The hard-pressed chase directly afterwards
attempted to follow her example.  She was already on a wind when again
the mist closed over the ocean, and she was hidden from sight.

"We will keep the _Nancy_ where she is," said Halliburt; "we don't know
what may happen.  If yonder ship drives on the sands--and she has but a
poor chance of keeping off them, I fear--we cannot let her people perish
without trying to save them; and though it may be a hard job to get
alongside the wreck, yet some of the poor fellows may be drifted away
from her on rafts or spars, and we may be able to pick them up.
Whatever happens, we must do our best."

"Ay, ay, Adam," answered several of his hardy crew, who stood around
him; "where you think fit to go we are ready to go too."

The party had not long to wait before their worst apprehensions were
realised.  The dull report of a gun, which their practised ears told
them came from Norton Sands, was heard; in another minute the sound of a
second gun boomed over the waters; a third followed even before the same
interval had elapsed.  That the ship had struck and was in dire distress
there could be no doubt, but when they gazed at the dark, heaving waves
which rolled in crested with foam, and just discernible in the fast
waning twilight, and felt the fierce blast against which even they could
scarcely stand upright on the slippery pier, hardy and bold as they
were, they hesitated about venturing forth to the rescue of the hapless
crew.  Long before they could reach the wreck darkness would be resting
on the troubled ocean; they doubted, indeed, whether they could force
their boat out in the teeth of the fierce gale.

Adam took a turn on the pier.  His heart was greatly troubled.  He had
never failed, if a boat could live, to be among the first to dash out to
the rescue of his fellow-creatures when a ship had been cast on those
treacherous sandbanks.  The hazard was great.  He knew that with the
strength of his crew exhausted the boat might be hurled back amid the
breakers, to be dashed on the shore; or, should they even succeed in
reaching the neighbourhood of the wreck, where the greatest danger was
to be encountered, they might fail in getting near enough to save any of
the people.

Every moment of delay increased the risk which must be run.

"Lads, we will try and do it," he said at length; "maybe she has struck
on the lowest part of the bank, and we shall be able to cross it at the
top of high water.  Come along, we will talk no more about it, but try
and do what we have got to do."

Just at that instant the words, uttered in a shrill, loud tone, were
heard:--

"Foolish men, have you a mind to drown yourselves in the deep salt sea!
Stay, I charge you, or take the consequence."

The voice seemed to come out of the darkness, for no one was seen.  The
men looked round over their shoulders.  Directly afterwards a tall thin
figure, habited in grey from head to foot, emerged from the gloom.
Those who beheld it might have been excused if they supposed it rather a
phantom than a being of the earth, so shadowy did it appear in the thick
mist.

"The spirit of the air forbids your going, and I, his messenger, warn
you that you seek destruction if you disobey him."

The men gathered closer to each other as the figure approached.  It was
now seen to be that of a tall, gaunt woman.  Her loose cloak and the
long grey hair which hung over her shoulders blew out in the wind,
giving her face a wild and weird look, for she wore no covering to
restrain her locks, with the exception of a mass of dry dark seaweed,
formed in the shape of a crown, twisted round the top of her head.

"I have seen the ship you are about to visit.  I knew what her fate
would be even yesternight when she was floating proudly on the ocean;
she was doomed to destruction, and so will be all those who venture on
board her.  If you go out to her, I tell you that none of you will
return.  I warn you, Adam Halliburt, and I warn you all!  Go not out to
her, she is doomed! she is doomed! she is doomed!"

As the woman uttered these words she disappeared in the darkness.  The
men stood irresolute.

"What, lads, are you to be frightened at what `Sal of the Salt Sea'
says, or `Silly Sally,' as some of you call her?" exclaimed Adam.  "Let
us put our trust in God, He will take care of us, if it's His good
pleasure.  It's our duty to try and help our fellow-creatures.  Do you
think an old mad woman knows more than He who rules the waves, or that
anything she can say in her folly will prevent Him from watching over us
and bringing us back in safety?"

Adam's appeal had its due effect.  Even the most superstitious were
ashamed of refusing to accompany him.  When he sprang on board the boat
his crew willingly followed.  He would have sent back his second boy
Sam, but the lad earnestly entreated to be taken.

"If you go, father, why should I stop behind?  Jacob will look after
mother, and I would rather share whatever may happen to you," he said.

Adam and his men were soon on board the boat: the most of them had
shares in her, and thus they risked their property as well as their
lives.  The oars were got out, and the men, fixing themselves firmly in
their seats, prepared for the task before them.

Shoving off from the shore, Adam took the helm.  The men pulled away
right lustily, and emerging from the harbour, in another minute they
were breasting the heaving foam-crested billows in the teeth of the
gale.  Sometimes, when a stronger blast than usual swept over the water,
they appeared, instead of making headway, to be drifting back towards
the dimly-seen shore astern.  Now, again exerting all their strength,
they once more made progress in the direction of the wreck.

All this time the minute guns had been heard, showing that the ship
still held together, and that help, if it came, would not be useless.
The sound encouraged Adam and his crew to persevere.  The reports,
however, now came at longer intervals than at first from each other.
Several minutes at length elapsed, and no report was heard.  Adam
listened--not another came.  The crew of the _Nancy_, however,
persevered, but even Adam, as he observed the slow progress they had
made, became convinced that their efforts would prove of no avail.

The gale continued to increase, the foaming seas leaped and roared
around them more wildly than before.  Even to return would now be an
operation of danger, but Adam with sorrow saw that it must be attempted.
For an hour or more no headway had been made.  He waited for a lull,
then giving the word, the boat was rapidly pulled round, and surrounded
by hissing masses of foam, she rapidly shot back within the shelter of
the harbour.  The sinews of her crew were too well strung to feel much
fatigue under ordinary circumstances, but the strongest had to
acknowledge that they could not have pulled much longer.

"We must not give it up, though, lads," said Adam.  "I am sure no
beachmen will be able to launch their boats to-night along the coast.
If the wind goes down ever so little, we must try it again; you will not
think of deserting the poor people if there is a chance of saving them,
I know that."

His crew responded to his appeal, and agreed to wait for the chance of
being able to get off later in the night.

Looking towards the landing-place, the tall figure of Sal of the Salt
Sea was seen standing on the edge of the pier gazing down upon them.

"Foolish men! you have had your toil for nought, yet it is well for you
that you could not reach the doomed ship.  I warned you, and you
disregarded me.  I commanded the winds and waves to stop your progress;
they listened to my orders and obeyed me.  You will not another time
venture to disregard my warnings.  Now go to your homes, and be thankful
that I did not think fit to punish you for your folly.  Again I warn you
that yonder ship is doomed! is doomed! is doomed!"

While the old woman was uttering these words in the same harsh, loud
tones as before, Adam and his crew were making their way to the
landing-place.  Before they reached it, however, the strange being had
disappeared in the darkness, though her voice could be heard as she took
her way apparently towards the cliffs.

"Again, lads, I say, don't let what you have heard from the poor mad
woman trouble you," exclaimed Adam.  "Come to my cottage, and we will
have a bite of supper, and wait till we have the chance of getting off
again."

Dame Halliburt, expecting them, had prepared supper.  The sanded floors
and rough chairs and stools which formed the furniture of her abode were
not to be injured by their dripping garments.  During the meal Adam, or
one of the men, went out more than once to judge if there was likely to
be a change.  Still the gale blew as fiercely as ever.  Some threw
themselves down on the floor to rest, while Adam, filling his pipe, sat
in his arm-chair by the fire, still resolved as at first to persevere.



CHAPTER TWO.

AT THE WRECK.

Thus the greater part of the night passed by.  Towards dawn Adam started
up.  The howling of the wind in the chimney and the rattling sound of
the windows which looked towards the sea decreased.

"Lads!" he shouted, "the gale is breaking, we may yet be in time to save
life, and maybe to get salvage too from the wreck.  We will be off at
once."

The crew required no second summons.  Telling his dame to keep up her
spirits, and that he should soon be back, he led the way to the pier.

Some of the men, hardy fellows as they were, looked round nervously,
expecting the appearance of Sal of the Salt Sea.  She did not return,
however, and they were soon on board.  The poor creature, probably not
supposing that they would again venture out, had not thought of being on
the watch for them.

Once more the _Nancy_, propelled by the strong arms of her hardy crew,
was making her way towards Norton Sands.  It was still dark as before,
but the wind had gone down considerably, and the task, though such as
none but beachmen would have attempted, seemed less hopeless.  After
rowing for some time amidst the foaming seas, Adam stood firmly up and
endeavoured to make out the ship.  At length he discovered a dark object
rising above the white seething waters: it was the wreck.  Two of her
masts were still standing.  She was so placed near the tail of the bank,
where the water was deepest, that he hoped to be able to approach to
leeward, and thus more easily to board her if necessary.

"We shall be able to save the people if we can get up to her soon,
lads," he exclaimed.  "Cheer up, my brave boys, it will be a proud thing
if we can carry them all off in safety."

The wind continued to decrease.  As they neared the bank, the force of
the sea, broken by it, offered less opposition.

Just then amidst the gloom he caught sight of another object at a little
distance from the wreck: it was a lugger under close-reefed sails
standing away on a wind towards the south.  "Can she have been visiting
the wreck?" thought Adam; "it looks like it.  If so, she must have taken
off the people.  Then why does she not run for Hurlston, where she could
most quickly land them?"

As these thoughts passed through his mind, the lugger, which a keen eye
like his alone could have discerned, disappeared in the darkness.

"I wonder if that can be Miles Gaffin's craft," he thought; "no one,
unless well acquainted with the coast, would venture in among these
sandbanks in this thick weather; she is more likely to be knocking about
here than any other vessel that I know of.  She has been after her usual
tricks, I doubt not."

Adam, however, did not utter his thoughts aloud.  Indeed, unless he had
spoken at the top of his voice he could not have been heard even by the
man nearest him, while all his attention was required in steering the
boat.

The crew had still some distance to pull, and their progress against the
heavy seas was but slow.  At length dawn began to break, and the wreck
rose clearly before them.  She was a large ship.  The foremast had gone
by the board, but the main and mizzen-masts, though the topmasts had
been carried away, were still standing.

With cool daring they pulled under her stern.  To their surprise, no one
hailed them--not a living soul did they see on the deck.

As a sea which swept round her lifted the boat, Adam, followed by his
son Ben and another man, sprang on board.  A sad spectacle met their
sight.  The sea had made a clean sweep over the fore part of the ship,
carrying away the topgallant, forecastle, and bulwarks, and, indeed,
everything which had offered it resistance, but the foremast still hung
by the rigging, in which were entangled the bodies of three or four men
who had either been crushed as it fell or drowned by the waves washing
over them.  The long-boat on the booms had also been washed away--
indeed, not a boat remained.  The guns, too, of which, though evidently
a merchantman, she had apparently carried several, had broken adrift and
been carried overboard, with the exception of the aftermost one, which
lay overturned, and now held fast a human being, and, as her dress
proved her to be a woman.  The complexion of the poor creature was dark,
and the costume she wore showed Adam that she was from the far-off East.
Ben lifted her hand; it fell on the deck as he let it go; it was
evident that no help could be of use to her.  Her distorted countenance
exhibited the agonies she must have suffered.

"She must have been holding on to the gun," observed Adam, "when it
capsized; and if I read the tale aright, she was standing there calling
to those in the boats to come back for her as they were shoving off.  If
the boats had not been lowered, we should have seen some of the wreck of
them hanging to the davits.  See, the falls are gone on both sides."

Having made a rapid survey of the deck, Adam looked seaward.

"We have no time to lose," he said, "for the sky looks dirty to
windward, and we shall have the gale down on us again before long, I
suspect.  We must first, though, make a search below, for maybe some of
the people have taken shelter there.  I fear, however, the greater
number must have been washed away, or attempted to get off in the
boats."

Adam, leading the party, hurried below.

The water was already up to the cabin deck, and the violent rocking of
the ship told them that it would be dangerous to spend much time in the
search.  No one was to be found.

"Let us have the skylight off, Tom, to see our way," said Ben.

Tom sprang on deck and soon forced it off, and the pale morning light
streamed down below.  Everything in the main cabin was in confusion.

"This shows that the people must have got away in the boats, and have
carried off whatever they could lay hands on, unless some one else has
visited the wreck since then," remarked Adam; and he then told Ben of
his having observed the lugger in the neighbourhood of the wreck.

"She looks to me like a foreign-built ship, although her fittings below
are in the English fashion," he observed, examining the cabins as far as
the dim twilight which made its way through the open hatch would allow.

"As we came under her stern I saw no name on it; I cannot make out what
she can be."

The lockers in the captain's state cabin were open, and none of his
instruments were to be seen.  Two or three of the other side cabins had
apparently been searched in a hurry for valuables.  The doors of the
aftermost ones were however still closed.  The violent heaving and the
crashing sounds which reached their ears, showing how much the ship was
suffering from the rude blows of the seas, made Adam unwilling to
prolong the search.  He and his companions secured such articles as
appeared most worth saving.

"Let us look into the cabin before we go," exclaimed Ben, opening the
door of one which seemed the largest.  As he did so a cry was heard, and
a child's voice asked, "Who's there?"  He and Adam sprang in.



CHAPTER THREE.

SAFE TO LAND.

As Adam Halliburt and his son sprang into the cabin, they saw in a small
cot by the side of a larger one, a little girl, her light hair falling
over her fair young neck.  She lifted her head and gazed at them from
her blue eyes with looks of astonishment mingled with terror.

"Is no one with you, my pretty maiden?" exclaimed Adam; "how came you to
be left all alone here?"

"Ayah gone.  I called, she no come back," answered the child.

"This is no place for you, my little dear, we will take care of you,"
said Adam, lifting her up and wrapping the bed clothes round her, for
she was dressed only in her nightgown.

"Oh, let me go; I must stay here till my ayah comes back," cried the
child; yet she did not struggle, comprehending, it seemed, from the kind
expression of Adam's countenance, that he intended her no harm.

"The person you speak of won't come back, I fear; so you must come with
us, little maid, and if God wills we will carry you safely on shore,"
answered Adam, folding the clothes tighter round the child, and grasping
her securely in his left arm as a woman carries an infant, and leaving
his right one at liberty, for this he knew he should require to hold on
by, until having made his way across the heaving, slippery deck, he
could take the necessary leap into the boat.

"It is wet and cold, we must cover you up," he said, adding to himself,
"The child would otherwise see a sight enough to frighten her young
heart."

The little girl did not again speak as Adam carried her through the
cabins.

"You must let go those things, lads, and stand ready for lending me a
hand to prevent any harm happening to this little dear," he said, as he
mounted the companion-ladder.

Before reaching the deck he drew the blanket over the child's face, and
then, with an activity no younger seaman could have surpassed, he sprang
to the side of the ship and grasped a stanchion, to which he held on
while he shouted to the crew of his boat, who had for safety's sake
pulled her off a few fathoms from the wreck, keeping their oars going to
retain their position.

"Pull up now, lads!  We have got all there is time for," he cried out.
"Ben and Tom, do you leap when I do.  I have a little maid here, my
lads, and we must take care no harm comes to her."

While he was speaking the boat was approaching.  Now she sank down,
almost touching the treacherous sands beneath her keel--now, as the sea
rolled in, part of which broke over the wreck, she rose almost to a
level with the deck.  Adam, who had been calculating every movement she
was about to make, sprang on board.  Steadying himself by the shoulders
of the men, he stepped aft with his charge.  Ben and Tom followed him.

The men in the bows, immediately throwing out their starboard oars,
pulled the boat's head round, and the next instant, the mast being
stepped and the sail hoisted, the _Nancy_ was flying away before the
following seas towards the shore.  Adam steered with one hand while he
still supported the child on his arm.

"You are all right now, my little maid," he said, looking down on her
sweet face, the expression of which showed the alarm and bewilderment
she felt, he having thrown off the blanket.

"We will soon have you safe on shore in the care of my good dame.  She
will be a mother to you, and you will soon forget all about the wreck
and the things which have frightened you."

As Adam turned a glance astern, he was thankful that he had not delayed
longer on board the wreck.  The wind blew far more fiercely than before,
and the big seas came hissing and foaming in, each with increased speed
and force.

The _Nancy_ flew on before them.  The windmill, the best landmark in the
neighbourhood, could now be discerned through the mist and driving
spray.  Adam kept well to the nor'ard of it.  The small house near the
pier-head, which served to shelter pilots and beachmen who assembled
there, next came into view, and the _Nancy_ continuing her course,
guided by the experienced hand of her master, now mounting to the top of
a high sea, now descending, glided into the mouth of the harbour, up
which she speedily ran to her moorings.

Adam, anxious to get his little maid, as he called her, out of the cold
and damp, and to place her in charge of his wife, sprang on shore.
Jacob, who had been on the look-out for the return of the _Nancy_ since
dawn, met him on the landing-place.

"Are all safe, father?" he asked, in an anxious tone.

"All safe, boy, praised be His name who took care of us, and no thanks
to that poor creature, Mad Sal, who would have frightened the lads and
me from going off, and allowed this little maid here to perish."

"What! have you brought her from the wreck?" inquired Jacob, eagerly,
looking into the face of the child, who at that moment opened her large
blue eyes and smiled, as she caught sight of the boy's good-natured
countenance.

"Is she the only one you have brought on shore, father?" he added.

"The only living creature we found on board, more shame to those who
deserted her, though it was God's ordering that she might be preserved,"
answered Adam.  "But run on, Jacob, and see that the fire is blazing up
brightly, we shall want it to dry her damp clothes and warm her cold
feet, the little dear."

"The fire is burning well, father, I doubt not, for I put a couple of
logs on before I came out; but I will run on and tell mother to be ready
for you," answered Jacob, hastening away.

Adam followed with rapid strides.

The dame stood at the open door to welcome him as he entered.

"What, is it as Jacob says, a little maid you have got there?" she
exclaimed, opening her arms to receive the child from her husband.

The dame was an elderly, motherly-looking woman, with a kindly smile and
pleasant expression of countenance, which left little doubt that the
child would be well cared for.

"Bless her sweet face, she is a little dear, and so she is!" exclaimed
the dame, as she pressed her to her bosom.  "Bless you, my sweet one,
don't be frightened now you are among friends who love you!" she added,
as she carried her towards the fire which blazed brightly on the hearth,
and observed that the child was startled on finding herself transferred
to the arms of another stranger.

"Bring the new blanket I bought at Christmas for your bed, Jacob, and I
will take off her wet clothes and wrap her in it, and warm her pretty
little feet.  Don't cry, deary, don't cry!" for the child, not knowing
what was going to happen, had now for the first time begun to sob and
wail piteously.

"Maybe she is hungry, for she could have had nothing to eat since last
night, little dear," observed Adam, who was standing by, his damp
clothes steaming before the blazing fire.

"We will soon have something for her, then," answered the dame.

Jacob brought the blanket, which the dame gave Adam to warm before she
wrapped it round the child.

"Run off to Mrs Carey's as fast as your legs can carry you, and bring
threepenny-worth of milk," she said to her son.  "Tell her why I want
it; she must send her boy to bring in the cow; don't stop a moment
longer than you can help."

Jacob, taking down a jug from the dresser, ran off, while the dame
proceeded to disrobe the little stranger, kissing and trying to soothe
her as she did so.  Round her neck she discovered a gold chain and
locket.

"I was sure from her looks that she was not a poor person's child, this
also shows it," she observed to her husband; "and see what fine lace
this is round her nightgown.  It was a blessed thing, Adam, that you
saved her life, the little cherub; though, for that matter, she looks as
fit to be up in heaven as any bright angel there.  But what can have
become of those to whom she belongs?  Of one thing I am very sure,
neither father nor mother could have been aboard, for they would not
have left her."

"I'll tell thee more about that anon," observed Adam, recollecting the
poor coloured woman whose wretched fate he had discovered; "I think thou
art right, mother."

The child had ceased sobbing while the dame was speaking, and now lay
quietly in her arms enjoying the warmth of the fire.

"She will soon be asleep and forget her cares," observed the dame,
watching the child's eyelids, which were gradually closing.  "Now, Adam,
go and get off thy wet clothes, and then cut me out a piece of crumb
from one of the loaves I baked yestere'en, and bring the saucepan all
ready for Jacob when he comes with the milk."

"I'll get the bread and saucepan before I take off my wet things,"
answered Adam, smiling.  "The little maid must be the first looked to
just now."

Jacob quickly returned, and the child seemed to enjoy the sweet
bread-and-milk with which the dame liberally fed her.

A bed was then made up for her near the fire, and smiling her thanks for
the kind treatment she received, her head was scarcely on the pillow
before she was fast asleep.



CHAPTER FOUR.

MAY'S NEW HOME.

"What are you going to do with her?" asked Jacob, who having stolen down
from his roosting-place after a short rest, found his father and mother
sitting by the fire watching over the little girl, who was still asleep.

"Do with her!" exclaimed Dame Halliburt, looking at her husband, "why,
take care of her, of course, what else should we do?"

"No one owns her who can look after her better than we can; we have a
right to her, at all events, and we will do our best for the little
maiden," responded Adam, returning his wife's glance.

"I thought as how you would, father," said Jacob, in a tone which showed
how greatly relieved he felt.  "I knew, mother, you would not like to
part with the little maid when once you had got her, seeing we have no
sister of our own; she will be a blessing to you and to all of us, I am
sure of that."

"I hope she will, Jacob; I sighed, I mind, when I found you were not a
girl, for I did wish to have a little daughter to help me, though you
are a good boy, and you mustn't fancy I love you the less because you
are one."

"I know that, mother," answered Jacob, in a cheerful tone; "but I don't
want her to work instead of me, that I don't."

"Of course not, Jacob," observed Adam; "she is a little lady born, there
is no doubt about it; and we must remember that, bless her sweet face.
I could not bear the thoughts of such as she having to do more work than
is good for her.  Still, as God has sent her to us, if no one claims her
we must bring her up as our own child, and do our best to make her
happy, and she will be a light and joy in the house."

"That I'm sure she will," interrupted Jacob; "and Ben and Sam and I will
all work for her, and keep her from harm, just as much as if mother had
had a little maid, that we will."

"Yes, yes, Jacob, I am sure of it," exclaimed the dame, smiling her
approval as she glanced affectionately at her son.

So the matter was settled, and the little girl was to be henceforth
looked on as the daughter of the house.

"Of course, dame, I must do what I can, though, to find out whether the
little maid has any friends in this country," observed Adam, after
keeping silence for some minutes, as if he had been considering over the
subject; "she may or she may not, but when I come to think of the poor
dark woman who was on board, and who I take to have been her nurse, she
must have come from foreign parts.  Still, as she speaks English, even
if her fair hair and blue eyes did not show that, it is clear that she
has English parents, and if they were not on board, and I am very sure
they were not, she must have been coming to some person in England, who
will doubtless be on the look-out for her.  So you must not set your
heart on keeping the little maiden, for as her friends are sure to be
rich gentlefolks she would be better off with them than with us."

"As to that Adam, I have been thinking as you have; but then you see
it's not wealth that gives happiness, and if we bring her up and she
knows no other sort of life, maybe she will be as happy with us as if
she were to be a fine lady," answered the dame looking affectionately at
the sleeping child.

"But right is right," observed Adam; "we would not let her go to be
worse off than she would be with us, that's certain; but we must do our
duty by her, and leave the rest in God's hands."

Just then the child opened her large blue eyes, and after looking about
with a startled expression, asked, "Where ayah?" and then spoke some
words in a strange-sounding language, which neither the fisherman nor
his wife could understand.

"She you ask for, my sweet one, is not here," said the dame, bending
over her; "but I will do instead of her, and you just think you are at
home now with those who love you, and you shall not want for anything."

While the dame was speaking the two elder lads came downstairs, and as
the appearance of so many strangers seemed to frighten the little girl,
Adam, putting on his thick coat and sou'-wester, and taking up his
spyglass, called to his sons to come out and see what had become of the
ship.

They found it blowing as hard as ever.  The sea came rolling towards the
shore in dark foaming billows.  The atmosphere was, however, clear; and
the wreck could still be distinguished, though much reduced in size.
While Adam had his glass turned towards it he observed the mizzen-mast,
which had hitherto stood, go by the board, and the instant afterwards
the whole of the remaining part of the hull seemed to melt away before
the furious seas which broke against it.

"I warned you that the ship was doomed, and that no human being would
reach the shore alive," shrieked a voice in his ears; "such will be the
fate, sooner or later, of all who go down on the cruel salt sea."

Adam turning saw Mad Sally standing near him, and pointing with eager
gestures towards the spot where the wreck had lately appeared.

"Ah, ah, ah!" she shouted, in wild, hoarse tones, resembling the cries
of the sea-gull as it circles in the air in search of prey.

  "Sad news, sad news, sad news I bring,
  Sad news for our good king,
  For one of his proud and gallant ships
  Has gone down in the deep salt sea, salt sea,
  Has gone down in the deep salt sea."

"Yonder ship has gone to pieces, there is no doubt about that, mother,"
said Adam; "but you were wrong to warn us not to go off to her, for go
off we did, and brought one of her passengers on shore who would have
perished if we had listened to you, so don't fancy you are always right
in what you say."

"If you brought human being from yonder ship woe will come of it.
Foolish man, you fought against the fates who willed it otherwise."

"I know nothing about the fates, mother," answered Adam; "but I know
that God willed us to bring on shore a little girl we found on board,
and protected us while we did so."

"Think you that He would have protected you when He did not watch over
my boy, who was carried away over the salt sea?" she exclaimed, making a
scornful gesture at Adam.  "He protects not such as you, who madly
venture out when in His rage He stirs up the salt sea, salt sea, salt
sea!" and she broke out into a wild song--

  "There were three brothers in Scotland did dwell,
  And they cast lots all three,
  Which of them should go sailing
  On the wide salt sea, salt sea;
  Which of them should go sailing
  On the wide salt sea;"

and, wildly flourishing her arms, she stalked away towards the cliffs,
up which she climbed, still making the same violent gestures, although
her voice could no longer be heard, till she disappeared in the
distance.

A number of people had collected along the beach, eagerly looking out
for any portion of the wreck or cargo which might be washed on shore,
but they looked in vain; the sands swallowed up the heavier articles,
while the rest were swept by the tide out to sea.  Nothing reached the
shore by which the name or character of the vessel which had just gone
to pieces could be discovered.

Adam Halliburt, finding that there was no probability of the weather
mending sufficiently to enable the _Nancy_ to put to sea, returned home.

"Look you, lads," he observed, calling his sons to his side; "you heard
what that poor mad woman said.  You see how she was all in the wrong
when she told us not to put off to the wreck, and warned us that we
should come to harm if we did.  Now, to my mind, she is just a poor mad
creature; but if she does know anything which others don't, it's Satan
who teaches her, and he was a liar from the beginning, and therefore she
is more likely to be wrong than right; and when you hear her ravings,
don't you care for them, but go on and do your duty, and God will take
care of you; leave that to Him."

"Ay, ay, father," answered Jacob; "she would have had us leave the
little maiden to perish, if we had listened to her; I will never forget
that."

While the elder lads went on board the _Nancy_ to do one of the
numberless jobs which a sailor always finds to be done on board his
craft, Jacob and his father entered the cottage.

The little girl was seated on the dame's knee, prattling in broken
language, which her kind nurse in vain endeavoured to understand.  She
welcomed the fisherman and his son with a smile of recognition.

"Glad to see you well and happy, my pretty maiden," said Adam, stooping
down to kiss her fair brow, his big heart yearning towards her as if she
were truly his child.

"Maidy May," she said, with an emphasis on the last word, as if wishing
to tell him her proper name.

"Yes, our `Maiden May' you are," he answered, misunderstanding her, and
from that day forward Adam called her Maiden May, the rest of the family
imitating him, and she without question adopting the name.



CHAPTER FIVE.

DAME HALLIBURT.

Dame Halliburt was a good housewife, and an active woman of business.
Every morning she was up betimes with breakfast ready for her husband
and sons waiting the return of the _Nancy_, and as soon as her
fish-baskets were loaded, away she went, making a long circuit through
the neighbouring country to dispose of their contents at the houses of
the gentry and farmers, among whom she had numerous customers.  She
generally called at Texford, though, as Sir Reginald Castleton lived
much alone, she was not always sure of selling her fish there, and had
often to go a considerable distance out of her way for nothing.  If Mr
Groocock, the steward, happened to meet her on the road he seldom failed
to stop his cob, or when she called at the house to come out and inquire
what was going on at Hurlston, or to gain any bits of information she
might have picked up on her rounds.

Maiden May had been for upwards of a year under her motherly care, when
one morning as she was approaching Texford with her heavily-loaded
basket, she caught sight of the ruddy countenance of Mr Groocock, with
his yellow top-boots, ample green coat, and three-cornered hat on the
top of his well-powdered wig, jogging along the road towards her.

"Good-morrow, dame," he exclaimed, pulling up as he reached her.  "I see
that you have a fine supply of fish, and you will find custom, I doubt
not, at the Hall this morning.  There are three or four tables to be
served, for we have more visitors than Sir Reginald has received for
many a day."

As he spoke he looked into the dame's basket, turning the fish with the
handle of his whip.

"Ah, just put aside that small turbot and a couple of soles for my
table, there's a good woman, will you?  You have plenty besides for the
housekeeper to choose from."

"I will not forget your orders, Mr Groocock," said the dame; "and who
are the guests, may I ask?"

"There is Mrs Ralph Castleton and her two sons, the eldest, Mr
Algernon, who is going to college soon, and Mr Harry, a midshipman, who
has just come home from sea; a more merry, rollicking young gentleman I
never set eyes on; indeed, if the house was not a good big one he would
turn it upside-down in no time.  There is also his sister, Miss Julia,
with her French governess, and Sir Reginald's cousins, the Miss
Pembertons.  One of them, the youngest, Miss Mary they call her, is
blind, poor dear lady; but, indeed, you would not think so to see the
bright smile that lights up her face when she is talking, and few people
know so much of what is going on in the world, not to mention all about
birds, and creeping things, and flowers.  The other day she was going
through the garden, when just by touching the flowers with her fingers
she was able to tell their colour and their names as well as the
gardener himself.

"Then there is a Captain Fancourt, a naval officer, a brother of Mrs
Ralph Castleton, and Mr Ralph Castleton himself is expected, but he is
taken up with politics and public business in London, and it is seldom
he can tear himself away from them."

"I suppose Mr Ralph, then, is Sir Reginald's heir," observed the dame.

"That remains to be seen," answered the steward.  "You know Sir Reginald
has another nephew older than Mr Ralph, who has been abroad since he
was a young man.  Though he has not been heard of for many years, he may
appear any day.  The title and estates must go to him, whatever becomes
of the personalty."

"You know when I was a girl I lived in the family of Mr Herbert
Castleton, their father, near Morbury, so I remember the young gentlemen
as they were then, and feel an interest in them, and so I should in
their children."

"Ah! that just reminds me that you or your husband may do Master Harry a
pleasure.  He has not been on shore many days before he is wanting to be
off again on the salt water, and who should he fall in with but Miles
Gaffin, who came up here to see me about the rent of the mill.  Master
Harry found out somehow or other that Miles had a lugger, and nothing
would content him but that he must go off and take a cruise in her.
Now, between ourselves, Mrs Halliburt, I do not trust that craft or her
owner.  You know, perhaps, as much about them as I do; your husband
knows more, but I think it would content the young gentleman if
Halliburt would take him off in his yawl, and he need not go so far from
the shore as to run any risk of being picked up by an enemy's ship."

"Bless you, Mr Groocock, of course Adam will be main proud to take out
Sir Reginald's nephew, and for his own sake will be careful not to go
far enough off the land to run the risk of being caught by any of the
French cruisers," answered the dame.  "When would the young gentleman
like to come?  He must not expect man-of-war's ways on board the
_Nancy_, and it would not do for Adam and the lads to lose their day's
fishing."

"As to that, he is not likely to be particular, and the sooner he can
get his cruise the better he will be pleased.  It seems strange to me
that any one, when once he is comfortable on shore, should wish to be
tumbling about on the tossing sea.  Though I have lived all my life in
sight of the ocean, I never had a fancy to leave the dry land.  Give me
a good roof over my head, plenty to eat and drink, and a steady cob to
ride, it's all I ask; a man should be moderate in his desires, dame, and
he will get them satisfied, that is my notion of philosophy."

"Ah! and a very good notion too," said Mistress Halliburt, who had great
respect for the loquacious steward of Texford.  "But you will excuse me,
Mr Groocock, I ought to be up at the Hall.  I will tell Adam of Master
Harry's wish, and he will be on the look-out for him."

"Here comes the young gentleman to speak for himself," said the steward.

At that moment a horse's hoofs were heard clattering along the road, and
a fine-looking lad in a midshipman's uniform cantered up on a pony,
holding his reins slack, and sitting with the careless air of a sailor.
He had a noble broad brow, clear blue eyes, and thick, clustering, brown
curls, his countenance being thoroughly bronzed by southern suns and sea
air.  His features were well formed and refined, without any approach to
effeminacy.

"Good-morrow, Mr Groocock," he exclaimed, in a clear voice, pulling up
as he spoke.  "Good-morrow, dame," he added, turning to Mrs Halliburt.

"I was just speaking to the dame here about your wish, Mr Harry, to
take a trip to sea.  Her husband, Adam Halliburt, has as fine a boat as
any on the coast, and he is a trustworthy man, which is more than can be
said, between ourselves, of the tenant of Hurlston Mill.  Adam will give
you a cruise whenever you like to go, wind and weather permitting,
though, as the dame observed, you must not expect much comfort on board
the _Nancy_."

"I care little for comfort--we have not too much of that sort of thing
at sea to make me miss it," answered Harry, laughing.  "If the dame can
answer for her husband, I will engage to go as soon as he likes."

"Adam will be glad to take you, I am main sure of that, Mr Harry," said
the dame.  "But as the _Nancy_ will be ready to put off before I get
back, I would ask you to wait till to-morrow afternoon, when she will go
out for the night's fishing."

Harry, well pleased at the arrangement, having wished the dame good-bye,
accompanied Mr Groocock on his morning's ride.



CHAPTER SIX.

LORD HOWE'S VICTORY.

Harry got back at luncheon time to Texford, where the family were
assembled in the dining-hall.  Sir Reginald--a fine-looking old man, the
whiteness of whose silvery locks, secured behind a well-tied pig-tail,
was increased by the hair-powder which besprinkled them--sat at the foot
of the table in the wheel-chair used by him to move from room to room.
His once tall and strongly-built figure was slightly bent, though,
unwilling to show his weakness, he endeavoured to sit as upright as
possible while he did the honours of his hospitable board.  Still it was
evident that age and sickness were making rapid inroads on his strength.

He had deputed his niece, Mrs Castleton, to take the head of his table.
She had been singularly handsome, and still retained much of the beauty
of her younger days; with a soft and feminine expression of countenance
which truly portrayed her gentle, and perhaps somewhat too yielding,
character--yielding, at least, as far as her husband, Ralph Castleton,
was concerned, to whose stern and imperious temper she had ever been
accustomed to give way.

"My dear Harry, we were afraid that you must have lost your way," she
said, when the young midshipman entered the room.

"I rode over to the post-office at Morbury for letters, and had to wait
while the bag was made up.  I slung it over my back, and I fancy was
taken for a government courier as I rode along.  I have brought
despatches for every one in the house, I believe; a prodigious big one
for you, Uncle Fancourt, from the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty,
I suspect, for I saw the seal when it was put into the bag," he said,
addressing a sunburnt, fine-looking man, with the unmistakable air of a
naval officer, seated by his mother's side.  "Mr Groocock, to whom I
gave the bag, will send them up as soon as he has opened it.  There is
something in the wind, I suspect, for I heard shouting and trumpeting
just as I rode out of the town.  Knowing that I had got whatever news
there is at my back, I came on with it rather than return to learn more
about the matter."

"Probably another enemy's ship taken," observed Captain Fancourt.

"Are the Admiralty going to send you to sea again, Fancourt?" asked Sir
Reginald, who had overheard Harry's remark.

"They are not likely, during these stirring times, Sir Reginald, to
allow any of us to remain idle on shore if they think us worth our salt,
and I hope to deserve that, at least," answered Captain Fancourt.

"You are worth tons of that article, or the admiral's despatches greatly
overpraise you," observed Sir Reginald, laughing at his own joke.  "I
remember reading with great delight the gallant way in which, after your
captain was wounded, you fought the _Hector_ on your voyage home from
the West Indies, when she was attacked by two 40-gun French frigates.
You had not, I fancy, half as many men, or as many guns mounted, as
either one of them, while, in addition to their crews, they were full of
troops, yet you beat them off when they attempted to board; and though
they had pretty well knocked your ship to pieces, you compelled them to
make sail away from you, leaving you to your fate.  If I recollect
rightly, you bore up for Halifax with more than half your crew killed
and wounded."

"You give me more credit than is my due, Sir Reginald," observed Captain
Fancourt, "I was but a young lieutenant, though I did my duty.  Captain
Drury fought the ship, and we should all have lost our lives had not we
fallen in with the _Hawk_ brig, which rescued us just as the old
_Hector_ sank under our feet."

"Well, well, when our enemies find out that it is the fashion of English
sailors to fight till their ship goes down, they will be chary of
attacking them with much hopes of victory."

While the baronet was speaking, Harry had taken his seat next to a
pretty dark-eyed young girl, giving her a kiss on the cheek and at the
same time a pat on the back, a familiarity to which his sister Julia was
well accustomed from her sailor brother, who entertained the greatest
admiration and affection for her.

"You should not treat the demoiselle in that mode at table, Monsieur
Harry," observed a lady who was sitting on his other side.

"I beg your pardon, Madame De La Motte, I ought, I confess, to have paid
my respects to you first."

"Ah, you are mediant, incorrigible," said the lady, in broken English,
laughing as she spoke.

"No, I am only very hungry, so you will excuse me if I swallow a few
mouthfuls before we discuss that subject," said Harry, applying himself
to the plate of chicken and ham which the footman had just placed before
him.  "I'm afraid that you think I have forgotten my manners as well as
the French you taught me before I went to sea.  But I hope to prove to
you that I retain a fair amount of both," and Harry began to address the
lady in French.  When he mispronounced a word and she corrected him he
bowed his thanks, repeating it after her.

"Ah, you are _charmant_, Monsieur Harry, you have not forgotten your
manners any more than the language of La Belle France, which I will
continue to teach you whenever you will come and take a lesson with
Mademoiselle Julia.  When will you come?"

"Every day that I am at home till my country requires my services,"
answered Harry.

"I never learned French, but I should think it must be a very difficult
language to acquire," observed a pale middle-aged lady of slight figure
who sat opposite Harry, turning her eyes towards him, but those orbs
were of a dull leaden hue, the eyelids almost closed.  She was totally
blind.

Her features were beautifully formed, and had a peculiarly sweet and
gentle expression, though the pallor of her cheeks betokened ill-health.

"I will help you to begin, Miss Mary, while you are here, and then you
can go on by yourself," said Madame De La Motte, in her usual sprightly
way.

"I thank you, madame," answered Miss Mary Pemberton, "but I am dependent
on others.  Jane has no fancy for languages, and her time is much
occupied in household matters and others of still higher importance."

"Yes, indeed, Mary speaks truly," observed Miss Pemberton, a lady of a
somewhat taller and not quite so slight a figure as her sister, and who,
though her features had a pleasant expression, could not, even in her
youth, have possessed the same amount of beauty.  She always took her
seat next to Mary, that she might give her that attention which her
deprivation of sight required.  "While we have such boundless stores of
works on all important subjects in our own language, we waste our time
by spending it in acquiring another."

"Very right, my good cousin, very right," exclaimed Sir Reginald; "stick
to our good English books, for at the present day, what with their
republicanism, their infidelity, and their abominable notions, we can
expect nothing but what is bad from French writers."

"Pardonnez moi, Sir Reginald," exclaimed Madame De La Motte, breaking
off the conversation in which she was engaged with Harry, and looking up
briskly.  "Surely la pauvre France has produced some pure and religious
writers, and many works on science worthy of perusal."

"I beg ten thousand pardons, madame, I forgot that a French lady was
present.  I was thinking more of the murderous red republicans who have
cut off the heads of their lawful sovereign and his lovely queen, Marie
Antoinette.  I remember her in her youth and beauty at the court of her
brother, the Emperor Leopold, when I paid a visit to Germany some years
ago.  When I think how she was treated by those ruffians with every
possible indignity, and perished on a scaffold, my heart swells with
indignation, and I am apt to forget that there are noble and honest
Frenchmen still remaining who feel as I do."

"Ah, truly Sir Reginald, we loyal French feel even more bitterly, for we
have shame added to our grief and indignation, that they are our
compatriots who are guilty of such unspeakable atrocities as are now
deluging our belle France with blood," said Madame De La Motte, putting
her handkerchief to her face to hide the tears which the mention of the
fate of the hapless queen seldom failed to draw from the eyes of French
loyalists in those days.

"You will pardon me, madame, for my inadvertent remark," said Sir
Reginald, bowing as he spoke towards the French lady.

"Certainly, Sir Reginald, and I am grateful for your sympathy in the
sufferings of those I adore."

Just at that instant the butler entered the room bearing a salver
covered with letters, which most of the party were soon engaged in
reading.  An exclamation from Captain Fancourt made every one look up.

"There is indeed news," he exclaimed.  "Sir Roger Curtis has arrived
with despatches from Earl Howe announcing a magnificent victory gained
by him with twenty-five ships over the French fleet of twenty-six, on
the 1st June, west of Ushant; seven of the French captured, two sunk,
when the French admiral, after an hour's close action, crowded sail,
followed by most of his ships able to carry their canvas, and made his
escape, leaving the rest either crippled or totally dismasted behind
him.  Most of our ships were either so widely separated or so much
disabled, that several of the enemy left behind succeeded in making
their escape under spritsails.  One went down in action, when all on
board perished; another sank just as she was taken possession of, and
before her crew could be removed, though many happily were saved.  There
had been several partial actions between them."

Exclamations of delight and satisfaction burst from the lips of all the
party on hearing this announcement.

"I only wish that I had been there," exclaimed Harry, and Captain
Fancourt looked as if he wished the same.

"You might have been among those who lost their lives," observed Miss
Pemberton; "we would rather have you safe on shore."

"We must take our chance with others," said Harry.  "I only hope, Uncle
Fancourt, that you will soon be able to get me afloat again, though I am
not tired of home yet."

"I shall be able to fulfil your wishes, for the Admiralty have appointed
me to the command of the _Triton_, 38-gun frigate, ordered to be fitted
out with all despatch at Portsmouth.  Before many weeks are over she
will, I hope, be ready for sea.  I shall have to take my leave of you,
Sir Reginald, sooner than I expected.  I must go down at once to look
after her.  Harry need not join till I send for him."

"I congratulate you, Fancourt," said Sir Reginald, "though I am sorry
that your visit should be cut short."  The great battle was the subject
of conversation for the remainder of the day, every one eagerly looking
forward to the arrival of the newspapers the next morning for fuller
particulars.



CHAPTER SEVEN.

THE CASTELTONS AND GOULS.

In those days, when coaches only ran on the great high roads, and postal
arrangements were imperfect, even important news was conveyed at what
would now be considered a very slow rate.

Adam knew no one in London to whom he could write about the little girl
he had saved from the wreck, and many days passed before he could get to
Morbury, the nearest town to Hurlston.  It was a place of some
importance, boasting of its mayor and corporation, its town-hall and
gaol, its large parish church, and its broad high street.

Adam first sought out the mayor, to whom he narrated his story.  That
important dignitary promised to do all in his power through his
correspondents in London to discover the little girl's friends, but
warned him that, as during war time the difficulties of communication
with foreign countries were so great, he must not entertain much hope of
success.  "However, you can in the meantime relieve yourself of the care
of the child by sending her to the workhouse, or if you choose to take
care of her, her friends, when they are found, will undoubtedly repay
you, though I warn you they are very likely, after all, not to be
discovered," he added.

"Send the little maiden to the workhouse!" he exclaimed, as, quitting
Mr Barber's mansion, he pressed his hat down on his head; "no, no, no;
and as to being repaid by her friends, if it was not for her sake, I
only hope they may never be found."

The lawyer, Mr Shallard, on whom Adam next called, had the character of
being an honest man, and having for many years been Sir Reginald
Castleton's adviser, he was universally looked up to and trusted by all
classes, except by these litigants who were conscious of the badness of
their causes.

He was a tall, thin man, of middle age, with a pleasant expression of
countenance.  He listened with attention to Adam's account of his
rescuing the little girl, but gave him no greater expectation of
discovering her friends than had the mayor.

"You will, I suspect, run a great risk of losing your reward," he
observed; "but if you are unwilling to bear the expense of her
maintenance, bring her here, and I will see what can be done for her.
Of course, legally, you are entitled to send the foundling to the
workhouse."

"You wouldn't advise me to do that, I'm thinking," said Adam.

"No, my friend, but it is my duty to tell you what you have the right to
do," answered the lawyer.

"Well, sir, I'd blush to call myself a man if I did," replied the
fisherman, and without boasting of his intentions, he added that he and
his dame were quite prepared to bring up the little girl like a daughter
of their own.

When Adam offered the usual fee, the lawyer motioned him to put it into
his pocket.

"Friend Halliburt, you are doing your duty to the little foundling, and
I will do mine.  If her friends can be found, I daresay I shall be
repaid, and at all events, when you come to Morbury again you must call
and let me know how she thrives."

Adam, greatly relieved at feeling that, having done what he could
towards finding the child's friends, there was great probability that
she would be left with him and his wife, returned home.

"Any chance of hearing of our little maiden's friends?" asked the dame,
on Adam's return.

"None that I can see, mother," he answered, taking his usual seat in his
arm-chair.  "As it seems clear that they are in foreign lands, those I
have spoken to say, now that war has broken out again, it will be a hard
matter to get news of them."

"Well, well, you have done your duty, Adam, and you can do no more,"
answered his wife, looking much relieved.  "If it is God's will that the
little girl should remain with us, we will do our best to take care of
her, that we will."

"What do you think, though?" he continued, after he had given an account
of his first visit; "Mr Mayor advises us to send her to the workhouse.
It made my heart swell up a bit when he said so, I can tell ye."

"Sure it would, Adam," exclaimed the dame; "little dear, to think on't."

"Mr Shallard said something of the same sort too, but he showed that he
has a kind heart, for he told me to bring the child to him if we didn't
want to have charge of her, and when I offered his fee he wouldn't even
look at it."

"Good, good!" exclaimed the dame; "I've no doubt he'd act kindly by her,
but I wouldn't wish to give her up to him if I could help it.  It's not
every one who would have refused to take his fee, and it's more, at all
events, than old Lawyer Goul would have done, who used to live when I
was a girl where Mr Shallard does now.  There never was a man like him
for scraping money together by fair means or foul.  And yet it all went
somehow or other, and there was not enough left when he died to bury
him, and his poor heart-broken, crazy wife was left without house or
home, and went away wandering through the country no one knew where.
Some said she had cast herself into the sea and was drowned; but others,
I mind, declared they had seen her after that as wild and witless as
ever.  Hers was a hard fate whatever it might have been, for her husband
hadn't a friend in the world, no more had she; and when she went mad
there was no one to look after her."

Then Dame Halliburt told a tale, interrupted by many questions by the
good Adam, of which this is the substance.

Lawyer Goul had a son, and though he and his wife agreed in nothing
else, they did in loving and in spoiling that unhappy lad.  He caused
the ruin of his father, who denied him nothing he wanted.  Old Goul
wouldn't put his hand in his pocket for a sixpence to buy a loaf of
bread for a neighbour's family who might be starving, but he would give
hundreds or thousands to supply young Martin's extravagance.  He wanted
to make a gentleman of his son, and thought money would do it.  His son
thought so too, and took good care to spend his father's ill-gotten
gains.  As he grew up he became as audacious and bold a young ruffian as
could well be met with.  He had always a fancy for the sea, and used
often to be away for weeks and months together over to France or Holland
in company with smugglers and other lawless fellows, so it was said, and
it was suspected that he was mixed up with them, and had spent not a
little of his father's money in smuggling ventures which brought no
profit.  Old Martin Goul had wished to give his son a good education,
and had sent him to the very same school to which the sons of Dame
Halliburt's master, Mr Herbert Castleton, went.  There were two of
them, Mr Ranald and Mr Ralph.  Mr Herbert was Sir Reginald
Castleton's younger brother.  He was a proud man, as all the Castletons
were, and hot-tempered, and not what one may call wise.  He was
sometimes over-indulgent to his children, and sometimes very harsh if
they offended him.  For some cause or other Mr Ranald, the eldest, was
not a favourite of his, though many liked him the best.  He was generous
and open-hearted, but then, to be sure, he was as hot-tempered and
obstinate as his father.  While he was at college it was said he fell in
love with a young girl who had no money, and was in point of family not
a proper match for a Castleton.  Some one informed his father, who
threatened to disown him if he married her.  He could not keep him out
of Texford, for he was Sir Reginald's heir after himself.  This fact
enraged him still more against his son, as he thus had not the full
power he would have liked to exercise over him.  When Mr Herbert
married, his wife brought him a good fortune, which was settled on their
children, and that he could not touch either.  They had, besides their
two sons, a daughter, Miss Ellen Castleton, a pretty dark-eyed young
lady.  She was good-tempered and kind to all about her, but not as
sensible and discreet as she should have been.

When Mr Ranald and Mr Ralph left school young Martin Goul, whose
character was not so well known then as it was afterwards, came to the
house to pay them a visit.  As they had been playmates for some years,
and he dressed well and rode a fine horse, they seemed to forget that he
was old Martin Goul's son, and treated him like one of themselves.  To
my mind, continued the dame, nothing belonging to old Goul was fit to
associate with Mr Castleton's sons.  Once having got a footing in the
house, he used to come pretty often, sometimes even when the young
gentlemen were away from home, and it soon became known to every one
except Mr and Mrs Castleton that Lawyer Goul's son was making love to
Miss Ellen.  She, poor dear, knew nothing of the world, and thought if
he was fit to be a companion of her brothers, it was no harm to give her
heart to him.  She could see none of his faults, and fancied him a
brave, fine young fellow, and he could, besides, be as soft as butter
when he chose, and was as great a hypocrite as his father.  He knew it
would not do to be seen too often at the house, or Mr and Mrs
Castleton would have been suspecting something, and so he persuaded Miss
Ellen to come out and meet him in the park, and she fancied that no one
knew of it.  This went on for some time till Mr Ranald and Mr Ralph
came home from college.  One evening, as Mr Ranald was returning from a
ride on horseback, and had taken a short cut across the park, he found
his sister and Martin Goul walking together in the wood.  Now one might
have supposed that if the account of his own love affair was true he
would have had some fellow-feeling for his sister and old schoolmate,
and not thought she was doing anything very wrong after all, but that
wasn't his idea in the least.  Without more ado he laid his whip on
Martin's shoulders, and ordered him off the grounds, much as he would a
poacher.  Martin, the strongest of the two by far, would have knocked
him down if Miss Ellen had not interfered and begged Martin to go away,
declaring that if fault there was it was entirely hers.  Martin did go,
swearing that he would have the satisfaction one gentleman had a right
to demand from another.  Mr Ranald laughed at him scornfully, and,
taking Miss Ellen's arm, led her back to the house.

Mr Ranald was not on the terms, as I have said, which he should have
been with his father or even with his mother, so he said nothing to
them, but taking the matter into his own hands, told his sister to go to
her room and remain there.  She, as I said, was a gentle-spirited girl,
and did as she was bid, only sitting down and crying and wringing her
hands at the thoughts of what might come of what she had done.  Poor
dear young lady, she told me all about it afterwards, and I thought her
heart would break; and I was not far wrong, as it turned out at last.

Now, though Mr Ranald and Mr Ralph were not on affectionate terms as
brothers should be, and were seldom together, they were quite at one in
this matter.  Mr Ralph was by far the more clever, and had gained all
sorts of honours at college we heard; so that Mr Ranald looked up to
him when there was anything of importance to be done, and took his
opinion when he wouldn't have listened to any one else.

The brothers were closeted a long time together talking the matter over,
as they thought very seriously of it, and considered that the honour of
the family was at stake.  They then got their sister to come to them,
and tried to make her promise never to see young Martin Goul again; but
notwithstanding all they could say, gentle as she was in most things,
she would not say that.  They warned her that the consequences would be
serious to all concerned.

Martin Goul was as good as his word.  He got another young fellow who
passed for a gentleman, something like himself, to carry a challenge to
Mr Ranald.  The young fellow did not like to come into the house, so he
waylaid Mr Ranald near the entrance of the park, and delivered a letter
he had brought from Martin Goul.  Mr Ranald, as soon as he found from
whom it came, tore it up, and throwing it in the messenger's face, so
belaboured him with his whip, that he drove him out of the park faster
than he had come into it.

Mr Ralph had, however, in the manner he was accustomed to manage
things, taken steps to get Martin Goul out of the way.  The last war
between England and France had just begun; the pressgang were busy along
the coast obtaining men for the navy.  Mr Ralph happened to know the
officer in command of a gang who had the night before come to Morbury.
He told him, what was the truth, that young Martin was a seafaring man,
and mixed up with a band of smugglers, and he hinted to the officer that
he would be doing good service to the place, and to honest people
generally, if he could get hold of the young fellow and send him away to
sea.  Martin was seized the same night, and before he could send any
message home to say what had happened, he was carried to a man-of-war's
boat lying in the little harbour of Morbury, ready to receive any
prisoners who might be taken.  He was put on board a cutter with several
others who had been captured in the place, and not giving him time to
send even a letter on shore, she sailed away for the Thames, and he was
at once sent on board a man-of-war on the point of sailing for a foreign
station.  Miss Ellen, when she heard what had happened, was more
downcast and sad than before, and those who knew the secret of her
sorrow saw that she was dying of a broken heart.

Poor Mrs Castleton had been long in delicate health, and soon after
this she caught a chill, and in a short time died.  Miss Ellen was left
more than ever alone.  From the day she last saw her worthless lover she
never went into society, and seldom, indeed, except at church, was seen
outside the park-gates.

Mr Castleton himself had become somewhat of an invalid, which made his
temper even worse than before.  He showed it especially whenever Mr
Ranald was at home, and I am afraid that Mr Ralph often made matters
worse instead of trying to mend them.

At last Mr Ranald left home altogether, for as he had come into a part
of his mother's property, he was independent of his father.  Some time
afterwards a letter was received from him saying that he had sailed for
the Indies.  Whether or not he had married the young lady spoken of at
college was not known to a certainty.

As may be supposed, old Martin Goul and his poor witless wife were in a
sad taking when they found that their son had been carried off by a
pressgang.  Old Goul vowed vengeance against those who had managed to
have his son spirited away.  His own days, however, were coming to a
close.  He found out the ship on board which young Martin had sailed,
and he tried every means to send after him to get him back.  That was no
easy matter, however; indeed, the money which he had scraped together
and cheated out of many a lone widow and friendless orphan had come to
an end.  No one knew how it had gone, except, perhaps, his son.  He
himself even, it was said, could not tell, though he spent his days and
nights poring over books and papers, trying to find out, till he became
almost as crazy as his wife.  No one went to consult him on law
business, except, perhaps, some smuggler or other knave who could get no
decent lawyer to undertake his case, and then old Goul was sure to lose
it, so that even the rogues at last would not trust him.

He and his wife had had for long only one servant in the house.  A poor
friendless creature was old Nan.  One day the tax-gatherer called when
Martin Goul, who was seated in his dusty room which had not been cleaned
out for years, told him that Nan had the money to pay, and that he would
find her in the kitchen.  He went downstairs and there, sure enough, was
poor Nan stretched out on the floor.  She had died of starvation, there
was no doubt about that, for there was not a crust of bread in the
kitchen, nor a bit of coal to light a fire.  How Martin Goul had managed
to live it was hard to say, except that his wife had been seen stealing
out at dusk, and it was supposed that she had managed to pick up food
for herself and her husband.

Meantime it was known that young Martin had been aboard the _Resistance_
frigate, which had gone away out to the East Indies.  At last news came
home that the _Resistance_ had been blown up far away from any help in
the Indian seas, and that every soul on board had perished or been
killed by savages when they got on shore.

Mr Ralph tried to keep what had happened from the ears of his sister,
but she was always making inquiries about the ships on foreign stations.
At last one day she heard what it would have been better she had never
known.  We found her in a dead faint.  She was brought to, but the
colour had left her cheeks and lips, and she never again lifted up her
head.  Mr Ralph came to see her.

"It was all your doing," she said to him in a reproachful tone.  "He
might have been wild, he might have been what you say he was, but he
promised me that he would reform and be all I could wish."

"Of whom do you speak, Ellen," asked Mr Ralph.

"Of him who now lies dead beneath the waters of the Indian Ocean, of
Martin Goul," she said, and uttered a cry which went to our hearts.

"That scoundrel's name is unfit to come out of your lips, Ellen," he
answered with an oath.  "He met a better fate than he deserved, for he
died with honest men.  Now put him away from your thoughts altogether,
and never defile your lips by speaking of him."

Poor Miss Ellen made no reply.  Nothing would induce her to leave her
room.  She grew weaker and weaker, and soon was laid beside her mother
in the family vault.

A few months afterwards Mr Castleton died, and the place was sold.  Mr
Ralph, who had become a barrister, went away to live in London and
married, and has been there ever since.

The death of his son was known to many others before Lawyer Goul heard
of it, for it was no one's business to tell him, and few would have been
willing to do so.  At last, one day in an old newspaper which contained
an account of the loss of the _Resistance_, his eye fell on the
announcement.  He let the paper drop, sank back in his chair, and never
spoke again.  His crazy wife took it up, and she, seeing what had
happened to her son, not even stopping to learn whether her husband was
dead or not, or trying to assist him, rushed away no one knew where.
"Some say," said Dame Halliburt, as she finished her long story, "that
she has long since been dead, and others that she is `Mad Sal,' as the
boys call her; but she does not look to me like old Goul's wife; and I
cannot fancy that one brought up as a sort of lady, as she was, could
live the life that poor mad woman does, all alone in a wretched hovel by
herself among the cliffs, without a neighbour or a soul to help her."

"Well, it's a sad story, wife; I wonder you never told it me before."

"To say the truth, Adam, it's not a matter I ever liked talking about,
and I don't know scarcely what made me tell it you now.  It's not that I
care about Lawyer Goul and his crazy wife and their son; but even now I
cannot bear to think of poor Miss Ellen.  It was a sad thing that a
sweet innocent creature like her should have been cut off in her young
days."



CHAPTER EIGHT.

GAFFIN, THE MILLER.

Adam had just recounted to his wife his interviews with the mayor and
lawyer of Morbury, and had listened to her history of Mr Herbert
Castleton's family, and the unhappy fate of his daughter, when a knock
was heard at the door.  The dame opened it, but drew back on seeing
their visitor.

"Good-day, neighbour," said the person who entered, a strongly-built man
with a bushy black beard and a sunburnt countenance, the sinister
expression of which was ill-calculated to win confidence, and whose
semi-nautical costume made it doubtful whether he was a landsman or
sailor.

"I have come to have a friendly chat with you, if you will give me
leave?"

Without waiting for a reply, still keeping his hat on, he threw himself
into a chair by the fire, glancing round the room as he did so.

"What have you got to talk about, Mr Gaffin?" asked Adam, disdaining to
give the welcome he could not heartily offer, and instead of sitting
down, standing with his hands in his pockets opposite his guest, while
the dame continued the work in which she had been engaged.

"I hear you boarded a wreck the other morning and rescued a child from
it," observed the visitor.

"I did so," answered Adam, curtly.

"What has become of the child, then?" asked Mr Gaffin, looking round
the room as if in search of her.  The visitor was Miles Gaffin, the
miller of Hurlston, as he was generally called.

"She has gone out for a walk," said the dame, coming up near her husband
on hearing the subject of the conversation.

"You will find the maintenance of a child in addition to your own
somewhat burdensome in these hard times," observed the miller.

"We can judge better than our neighbours whether the burden is more than
we can bear," answered the dame; "so you see, Mr Gaffin, that need not
make any one uneasy on our account."

"Very likely, my good woman, and all very well at present; but the day
will come when she will require schooling and clothing, and I suppose
you had not time to bring much property belonging to her on shore, Adam
Halliburt?" said Gaffin, in an inquiring tone.

"No, Miles Gaffin, I had less time to bring anything away than those who
visited the wreck before me," he answered, fixing his eyes on the
visitor, who met his glance unmoved.

"What! did any one else get on board the wreck, do you think?"

"I am sure of it; and whoever they were, they were heartless villains to
leave a little child to perish when they might have saved her."

"Perhaps if people did visit the wreck they were not aware that any
human being remained on board," said Gaffin.  "Did you see any of the
crew?  No one has heard of them, I understand."

"It's my belief that they attempted to escape in the boats, which were
swamped on crossing the sands," answered Adam.  "They deserved their
fate, too, if they recollected the poor child and her nurse who were
left behind.  Though the little dear was saved by their base conduct, as
she would have been lost had they taken her, not the less shame to them.
However, no one can tell how it happened."

"Of course they attempted to escape in their boats, there is no other
way to account for their disappearance," answered Gaffin; "few craft
except such as ours on this coast could live in the sea that was then
running, for it was as bad as could well be, as I hear.  I myself was
away to London on business," he added, carelessly.

Adam kept his eyes on his guest while he was speaking, but the
countenance of the latter maintained the same bold, defiant look which
it generally wore.

As Gaffin made the last remark, Jacob, with his little charge, entered
the cottage.

Maiden May, on seeing a stranger, kept tight hold of Jacob's hand, and
drew away from the fireplace, where he was seated.

"Is that the child we have been speaking of?" asked Gaffin, looking
towards her.  "She is indeed a little beauty.  Well, my friends, I
conclude you don't intend to bring her up as a fisherman's daughter--
pardon me, I don't mean to say anything disrespectful--even supposing
you fail to discover to whom she belongs?"

"As to that, Mr Gaffin, God placed her under our charge, and we intend
to do our duty by her," answered Adam, firmly.

"Your duty would be to obtain for her every opportunity of retaining the
position in which she was born," said Gaffin.  "That's no common
person's child."

"Maybe she is not; but, as I said before, we will do our best.  More
than that we cannot do," answered Adam.

"Now, my friend, I have a proposal to make," said Gaffin, speaking in as
frank a tone as he could assume.  "She will be a heavy burden to you
some time hence, if she is not so at present; my wife and I, as you
know, have no daughter, although, like you, we have three sons.  We are
more independent of the world than you are, as my wife had money; you
will understand, though, I do not eat the bread of idleness; and as she
would very much like to have a little girl to bring up to be her
companion when our boys are away, we are willing to take charge of that
child and adopt her, should her friends not be discovered.  To show you
that I am in earnest, here are five guineas as payment to you for going
off and bringing her on shore in the gallant way I understand you did.
It's a trifling reward, I own, but if I have the power I will increase
it should you accept my offer."

Adam stood with his hands in his pockets as he had been doing while his
visitor was speaking.

"Keep your money, Mr Gaffin, for when it may be required," he answered,
quietly.  "My lads and I only did our duty, and what any one with the
heart of a man would have tried to do.  That little maiden has been
placed in my charge, and until her rightful friends appear, my wife and
I will take care of her without looking for payment or reward.  You have
our answer, I speak for myself and dame; there is no use wasting more
time in talking about the matter."

"Well, well, neighbour, I cannot take your reply as conclusive," said
Gaffin, trying to conceal his annoyance; "just think it over, and you
will be doing a great pleasure to my wife and lay us under an obligation
if you agree to my proposal."

Adam had given his reply, and was determined to say nothing more.  He
was anxious, too, to get rid of his guest.

Gaffin at length, finding that he could gain nothing by staying, rose to
leave the cottage.  The dame took up May and retired with her to the
farther end of the room, while Adam stood as before with his hand firmly
thrust down into his pocket, as if determined not to shake that of his
departing guest, while Jacob opened the door as wide as he could.
Gaffin, unabashed, nodded to the fisherman and his dame, and with a
swagger in his walk to conceal the irritation he felt, left the cottage.
Jacob watched him till he had got to some distance.

"He has gone," he exclaimed.  "He shall not have our Maiden May if I can
prevent him."

"No fear of that, Jacob.  He, with his cursing and swearing, and his
wild, lawless ways, and his poor heart-broken, down-spirited wife, bring
up a little maid in the way she should go!  She would be better off with
us as long as we had a crust to give her; and take her from us he shall
not, whatever reasons he may have for wishing it.  So don't you fear,
Jacob, that I will listen to him even if he comes with 50 in his hand,
or 500 for that matter.  As I said before, if we don't find fairer
friends for her than he and his wife are like to prove, Maiden May shall
be our child, bless her."



CHAPTER NINE.

A SAIL IN THE NANCY.

Captain Fancourt took his departure from Portsmouth to commission the
_Triton_, promising to send for Harry as soon as the frigate was
sufficiently advanced to give a midshipman anything to do on board.

"I will ride by a single anchor, so as to be ready to slip at a moment's
notice," answered Harry.

Harry recollected his engagement to take a cruise in Adam Halliburt's
boat.

"Come, Algernon," he said to his elder brother, a tall, slight youth,
three or four years his senior, with remarkably refined manners, "you
would enjoy a trip to sea for a few hours in the _Nancy_.  It would give
you something to talk about when you go to college, and you have never
been on salt water in your life."

"Thank you," said Algernon.  "I do not wish to gain my first experience
of sea life in a fishing boat."

"I want to see how these fishermen live, and I should have been glad of
your company," answered Harry; "but perhaps you would find it rather too
rough a life for your taste, so I will go alone, and to-morrow when I
return I will ride with you wherever you like."

Harry, after luncheon, set off on his pony to Hurlston, while Algernon
accompanied his mother and the two Miss Pembertons in the carriage to
the same village, where they wished to look at a cottage which Sir
Reginald had told them was to be let, and which they had proposed,
should it suit them, to take.  They were much pleased with its
appearance.  It stood on the higher ground above the village, surrounded
by shrubberies, in an opening through which a view of the sea was
obtained.  On one side was a pretty flower-garden, and as Miss Pemberton
led her sister through the rooms and about the grounds describing the
place, they agreed that had it been built for them they could not have
been more thoroughly satisfied.  Mr Groocock therefore received
directions to secure Downside Cottage, and they determined to occupy it
as soon as it could be got ready for them.

Sir Reginald, on hearing of the decision of the Miss Pembertons, invited
them to remain in the meantime at Texford, where he hoped, even after
they were settled, they would become constant visitors.

"I am getting an old man now, and as I cannot hunt or attend to my
magisterial duties, I am grateful to friends who will come and see me,
and you have only to send over a note and my carriage will be at your
disposal."

Miss Pemberton assured Sir Reginald that one of their chief inducements
in taking the cottage was to be near a kinsman whom they so greatly
esteemed.

Mrs Castleton the next morning had become anxious at the non-appearance
of Harry.  She had not heard of his intention of remaining out during
the night till Algernon told her.  He agreed to ride down to Hurlston to
ascertain if the boat had returned, and as the Miss Pembertons wished to
pay another visit to the cottage, the carriage was ordered and Mrs
Castleton accompanied them.

The weather, as it frequently does in our variable English climate, had
suddenly changed by the morning, and although it had been calm during
the night, by the time the ladies reached Hurlston a strong east wind
sent the surf rolling up on the beach in a way which to the ladies,
unaccustomed to the sea-side, appeared very terrible.  Algernon, who was
on horseback, met them.

"The boat Harry went out in has not come back," he observed; "but as the
fishing-boats generally return about this hour, she will probably soon
be in."

Mrs Castleton, her anxiety increased by the appearance of the weather,
begged her companions to wait.

"Is that the boat?" she asked, pointing to a sail approaching the shore.

"I think not--that seems a large vessel," answered Algernon, and he rode
towards the pier, where a number of people were collected, while others
were coming from various directions.  There seemed some excitement among
them.  They were watching the ship observed by Mrs Castleton, which, in
the distance, had to her appeared so small, though in reality a large
brig.

"She brought up an hour ago in the roads, but only just now made sail
again," was the answer to Algernon's question.  "As she is standing for
the mouth of the river she is probably leaky, and her crew are afraid of
not keeping her afloat in the heavy sea now running."

Algernon watched the brig, which, under a press of canvas, came tearing
along towards the mouth of the harbour; and as she drew nearer the jets
of water issuing from her scuppers showed that his informant was correct
in his opinion.  She laboured heavily, and it seemed doubtful whether
she could be kept afloat long enough to run up the harbour.

The larger fishing-boats were away, but two or three smaller ones were
got ready to go out to her assistance, though with the sea then rolling
in there would be considerable danger in doing so.

At length the brig drew near enough to allow the people on board to be
easily distinguished.  The master stood conning the vessel--the crew
were at their stations.  So narrow was the entrance that the greatest
care and skill were required to hit it.  Algernon heard great doubts
expressed among the spectators as to the stranger being able to get in.

In a few seconds more, a sea bearing her on, she seemed about to rush
into the harbour, when a crash was heard, the water washed over her
deck, both the masts fell, and her hull, swinging round, blocked up the
entrance.  The men on shore rushed to their boats to render assistance
to the unfortunate crew, but as the foaming seas washed them off the
deck, the current which ran out of the river swept them away, and though
so close to land, in sight of their fellow-creatures, not one of the
hapless men was rescued.

Algernon could not repress a cry of horror.

"Oh, what will become of Harry?" exclaimed Mrs Castleton, when she saw
what had occurred.

"I trust he is safe with an experienced fisherman like old Halliburt,"
answered Algernon.  "I wish, mother, you would return home.  I will
bring you word as soon as he comes back."

Mrs Castleton, however, could not be persuaded to leave the shore.

At length several tiny sails were seen in the distance, and were
pronounced by the people on the pier to be the returning fishing-boats.
Some were seen standing away to the north to land apparently in that
direction, while three steered for Hurlston.

In consequence of the mouth of the river being blocked up, Algernon
found that the boats would have to run on the beach, all of them being
built of a form to do this, although those belonging to Hurlston could
usually take shelter in their harbour.

As the boats drew near, signals were made to warn them of what had
occurred.  The people in the leading boat, either not understanding the
signal or fancying that there would be still room to get up the harbour,
kept on, and only when close to it perceived what had occurred.  On this
the boat hauled her wind and attempted to stand off, so as to take the
beach in the proper fashion, but a sea caught her and drove her bodily
on the sands, rolling her over and sending the people struggling in the
surf.

The men on shore rushed forward to help their friends.

Mrs Castleton shrieked out with terror, supposing that Harry was in the
boat.

Algernon, who was not destitute of courage, rode his horse into the surf
and succeeded in dragging out a man who was on the point of being
carried off.  Again he went in and saved another in the same way,
looking anxiously round for Harry.  He was nowhere to be seen, and to
his relief he found that the _Nancy_ was one of the sternmost boats.
Two poor fellows in the boat were carried away, notwithstanding all the
efforts made to secure them.  Much of the boat's gear was lost, and she
herself was greatly damaged.

"Which is the _Nancy_?" inquired Algernon, round whom several people
were collected, eager to thank him for the courage he had just
displayed.

She was pointed out to him.  On she came under a close-reefed sail.

Adam, probably suspecting that something was wrong by having seen the
boat haul up to get off the shore, was on the look-out for signals.

The second boat came on shore, narrowly escaping the fate of the first.
Still the _Nancy_ was to come.  She was seen labouring on amid the
foaming seas.  Now she sank into the trough of a huge wave, which rose
up astern and robed in with foam-covered crest, curling over as if about
to overwhelm her.  Another blast filled her sails, and just escaping the
huge billow which came roaring astern, the next moment, surrounded by a
mass of hissing waters, she was carried high up on the beach.  Most of
her active crew instantly leaped out, and joined by their friends on
shore, began hauling her up the beach, when another sea rolling in
nearly carried them off their legs.  Harry, however, who had remained in
the stern of the boat with Halliburt, leaped on shore at the moment the
waters receded and escaped with a slight wetting.

As they made their way up the beach, a fair-haired, blue-eyed little
girl ran out from among the crowd and threw herself, regardless of
Adam's dripping garments, into his arms.

"Maidy May so glad you safe," she exclaimed, as the fisherman bestowed a
kiss on her brow.  "We afraid the cruel sea take you away."

"There was no great danger of that, my little maiden," answered Adam,
putting her down.  She then ran towards Jacob and bestowed the same
affectionate greeting on him.  Holding his hands, she tried to draw him
away from the surf, as if afraid that, disappointed of its prey, it
might still carry him off.

Harry remarked the reception the fisherman and his son met with from the
interesting-looking child, and he never forgot those bright blue eyes
and the animated expression of that lovely countenance.

Summoned by his brother, he now hastened to assure his mother of his
safety.

"My dear boy, we have been very anxious about you," exclaimed Mrs
Castleton, as he came up; "and I do hope that you will not go off again
in one of those horrible little fishing-boats; you run dangers enough
when on board ship in your professional duty without exposing yourself
to unnecessary risk."

"I assure you I have been in no danger whatever, except, perhaps, when
the boat was running in for the beach," answered Harry, laughing.  "When
we went off we did not expect to have to do that, and I am very sorry
that you should have been anxious about me.  However, I promise to
remain quietly on shore till I am summoned to join my ship, and as I am
somewhat damp, I will get my pony, which I left at the Castleton Arms in
the village, and ride home with Algernon."  The ladies accordingly,
re-entering the carriage, drove towards Texford, and Harry and his
brother followed soon afterwards.



CHAPTER TEN.

MAY'S NEW FRIENDS.

Harry refrained from making another trip in the _Nancy_, though he told
Adam Halliburt that he had hoped to do so.  He seldom, however, caught
sight of the blue sea in his rides without wishing to be upon it.

One day he and Algernon, on a ride over the downs, passed near the old
mill.  Miles Gaffin was standing at the door, while behind him, tugging
at a sack, was his man, whose countenance appeared to Harry, as he
caught sight of it for a moment, one of the most surly and ill-favoured
he had ever set eyes on.  "No wonder the farmers prefer sending their
corn to a distance to having it ground by such a couple," he thought.
The miller took off his hat as he saw the lads.  Algernon scarcely
noticed the salute.

"I am sorry, young gentlemen, not to have had the pleasure of giving you
a trip in my lugger," said the miller, in a frank, off-hand tone.  "If,
however, you and your brother are disposed to come, we will run down the
coast to Harwich, or to any other place you would like to visit, and I
will guarantee not to get you into such a mess as old Halliburt did, I
understand, the other day."

"Thank you," said Harry, "my brother has no fancy for the salt water,
and as I shall be off again to sea shortly, I cannot avail myself of
your offer."

"Did any one advise you not to go on board my craft?" asked Gaffin,
suddenly.

Harry hesitated.

"Adam Halliburt offered to take me a trip, and as Mr Groocock thought I
should prefer the _Nancy_ to any other craft, I arranged to go with
him," he said at length.

"Ah, I guessed how it was.  My neighbours are apt to say unpleasant
things about me.  Mr Groocock told you I was not a man to be trusted,
didn't he?"

"My brother has said that he preferred the fisherman's boat," said
Algernon, coming to Harry's assistance, "and I consider that you have no
right to ask further why he declined your offer.  Good-day to you, sir;
come along, Harry," and Algernon rode on.

"Proud young cock, he crows as loudly as his father was wont to do,"
muttered the miller, casting an angry glance at the young gentlemen; "I
shall have my revenge some day."

"I do not like the look of that fellow," observed Algernon, when they
had got out of earshot of the mill.  "I am glad you did not go on board
his vessel."

"He seems rather free and easy in his manners, and his tone wasn't quite
respectful, but I suppose his pride was hurt because I chose another
man's boat instead of his," answered Harry.

"You did not observe the scowl on his countenance when he spoke," said
Algernon.

Algernon evidently possessed the valuable gift of discernment of
character which some can alone gain by long experience.

The family party were separating one morning after breakfast, when, the
front door standing open on that warm summer day, Harry, as he passed
through the hall, caught sight of Dame Halliburt approaching with her
basket of fish, accompanied by the blue-eyed little girl he had seen
when landing from the _Nancy_.

"Come here, Julia," he exclaimed.  "Does not that sturdy fishwife with
her little daughter trotting along by her side present a pretty picture?
I wish an artist were here to take them as we see them now."

"Yes, Gainsborough would do them justice.  He delights in rustic
figures, though the child should have bare feet, and I see she has shoes
and stockings on," answered Julia.

"The little girl would, at all events, make a sweet picture in her red
cloak and hat," observed Miss Pemberton, who with her sister as they
crossed the hall had heard Harry's exclamation, and had come to the
door; and she described her to Miss Mary.

"I should like to speak to her.  I can always best judge of people when
I hear their voices," observed Miss Mary.

Harry proposed asking Dame Halliburt and the little girl to come up to
the porch, but they had by this time passed on towards the back
entrance.

"The dame is probably in a hurry to sell her fish and to go on her way,"
observed Miss Pemberton.  "We will talk to her another time."

"Come, Harry, madame is ready to give you your French lesson," said
Julia, and they went into the house.

Before luncheon Madame De La Motte proposed taking a walk.

"And we will talk French as we proceed.  You shall learn as much as you
will from your books," she said, inviting Harry to accompany her and her
pupil.  Harry gallantly expressed his pleasure, and they set out to take
a ramble through the fields in the direction of Hurlston.

They had got to some distance, and were about to turn back, when they
saw in the field beyond them the same little girl in the red cloak who
had come with Dame Halliburt to the house.

Two paths branched off at the spot she had just reached.  She stood
uncertain apparently which to take, when, at that instant, a bull
feeding in the field, irritated by the sight of her red cloak, began to
paw the ground and lower his head as if about to make a rush at her.
The child becoming alarmed uttered a cry, and ran in the direction of
the gate near which they were standing.  Harry leaped over the gate and
hurried to her rescue.  Seeing him coming she darted towards him.

"Throw off your cloak," he shouted.

She was too much frightened to follow his advice.  The bull was close
upon them when Harry reached her, and in an instant tearing off her
cloak he threw it at the bull, and lifting her in his arms darted on one
side, while the savage animal rushed over the spot where the moment
before they had stood, and catching the cloak on its horns threw it over
its head, and then stopping in its course looked round in search of the
object at which it was aiming.  Seeing Harry running off with the little
girl, it again rushed at them.  He had just time to lift her over the
gate, and to spring after her, when the creature came full tilt against
it.

The courage of Madame De La Motte and Julia had given way as they saw
the bull coming, and believing that the gate would be broken down, they
had run for safety to a high bank with a hedge above it a little on one
side of the field.

"You are quite safe now, little girl," said Harry, trying to reassure
the child.  "See, though the bull knocked his horns against the gate, he
could not throw it down, and is going off discomforted.  Come, Julia,
and help her," he shouted; "she has been dreadfully frightened, and not
without cause."

Julia and her governess, feeling a little ashamed of themselves,
descended from their safe position.

"I hope you are not hurt; but how came you to be in the field by
yourself?" asked Julia, addressing the little girl.

"Mother told me to take the path across the fields while she went round
by the road to call at some houses," she answered.

"To whom do you belong, and what is your name?" asked madame, looking
admiringly at the child's delicate and pretty features.

"I belong to Adam Halliburt, and he calls me his Maiden May," answered
the child.

"Maiden May! that is a very pretty name," observed Madame.  "But you are
very young to go so far alone."

"We must not let you go alone," said Harry; "I will take care of you
till you meet your mother, but I will first get your cloak.  I see the
bull has left it on the grass, and I hope has not injured it."

"Take care, Harry," exclaimed Julia, "the bull might run at you if he
sees you in the field."

"I do not mind running away from him, and I suspect I can run the
fastest," answered Harry, laughing, as he leapt over the gate.

Julia and Madame De La Motte watched him anxiously, not more so,
however, than did Maiden May.

"Oh, I hope he will not be hurt, I would much rather lose my cloak," she
said, following him with her eyes.

The bull having gone to a distance, Harry was able to reach the little
girl's cloak, and by keeping it in front of him the animal did not catch
sight of it, and he soon returned with his prize.

"If you will come to the hall we will send one of the servants with
you," said Julia.

"No, no," said Harry, "you go back, as you must be in at luncheon, and I
will take care of the little girl."

"Thank you, thank you," repeated Maiden May, "but I am not afraid."

Harry, however, with true chivalry, though the object of his attention
was but a little fisher-girl, insisted on escorting her, and at length
induced his sister and her governess to return, promising to hurry back
as soon as he had placed the child under Dame Halliburt's care.

They soon found the style which led into the path May should have
followed.  She took Harry's hand without hesitation, and as she ran
along by his side, prattled with a freedom which perfect confidence
could alone have given her.  She talked of the time he had been off in
the _Nancy_, and how anxious she had felt lest any harm should befall
the boat.

"And you are very fond of the sea?" she said, looking up in his face.

"Yes; I am a sailor, and it is my duty to go to sea, and I love it for
itself," said Harry; "I hope as you live close to it that you love it
too."

"Oh no, no, no," answered May; "I do not love it, for it's so cruel, it
drowns so many people.  I can't love what is cruel."

"It could not be cruel to you, I am sure," said Harry.  "Does your
father ever take you in his boat?"

"Yes, I have been in the boat, I know, but it was a long, long time ago,
and I have been on the sea far, far away."

She stopped as if she had too indistinct a recollection of the events
that had occurred to describe them.

Harry was puzzled to understand to what she alluded, and naturally
fancied that she spoke of some trip her father had taken her on board
his boat, not doubting, of course, that she was the fisherman's
daughter.

In a short time they caught sight of Dame Halliburt, when Harry,
delivering Maiden May to her care, without waiting to receive her thanks
hurried homewards as he had promised.



CHAPTER ELEVEN.

HARRY OFF TO SEA.

A letter from Captain Fancourt at length arrived, summoning Harry to
join the _Triton_.  He bade an affectionate farewell to his kind old
uncle.  His brother had remarked the failing health of Sir Reginald.

"I shall be very sorry when he goes, but probably when you next come to
see us, you will find us here," observed Algernon, "unless our uncle
should turn up and claim the title and property, and as he has not been
heard of for a long time, I do not think that likely."

"I have no wish to be here except as Sir Reginald's guest," answered
Harry, with more feeling than his brother had displayed.  "I hope that
our old uncle will live for many a year to come."

In those times of fierce and active warfare it was far more trying to
the loving ones who remained at home when the moment of departure
arrived, than to the brave and gallant soldiers and sailors who were
going away to fight their country's battles.  They could not help
reflecting how many were likely to fall in the contest, and that, though
victories should be gained, their aching eyes might some day see in the
list of killed or wounded the names of those from whom they now parted
so full of life and spirits.

"Do not be cast down, mother," exclaimed Harry, as Mrs Castleton
pressed her gallant boy to her heart.  "I shall come back safe and
sound, depend on that; remember the verse of the song in Dibdin's new
play:--

  "`There's a sweet little cherub who sits up aloft
  To take care of the life of poor Jack.'"

"Let us rather trust to Him by whom the hairs of our head are all
numbered--without whose knowledge not a sparrow falls to the ground--
instead of talking in that light way," murmured Miss Mary, who was
sitting knitting near the window.  "Let us pray to Him, my dear Harry,
that you may be brought back in safety."

"I will, Cousin Mary," said Harry, "and I am sure mother will too.  I
spoke thoughtlessly.  It is the way of speaking one is accustomed to
hear."

"Too much, I am afraid," said Miss Mary.  "We are all too apt to speak
lightly on such matters."  The carriage came to the door.

"You will continue to study French diligently, Master Harry," said
Madame De La Motte, as she wished him good-bye.  "Though my countrymen
are your enemies, you will love the language for my sake, will you not?"

Harry promised that he would do as she advised; indeed, he was well
aware that the knowledge he already possessed was likely to prove very
useful to him on many occasions.

His sister Julia was the last of the family he embraced.  "The next time
I come home I must bring my old shipmate, Headland; I am glad to find
that he has joined the _Triton_.  He is one of the noblest and most
gallant fellows alive," he said, as he wished her good-bye.

"Though we shall be happy to see your friend, I only want you to bring
yourself back, Harry, safe and sound, with your proper complement of
arms and legs," she answered, smiling through her tears.

"I would sacrifice one or the other to have my name in the _Gazette_,
and to gain my promotion, so I can make no promises," he replied,
springing into the carriage after Algernon, and waving his hat as it
drove off.

A number of the surrounding tenantry had assembled near the park-gates
to bid farewell to the young sailor who was going off to fight King
George's enemies on the high seas.  Harry stopped the post-boy that he
might put his hand out of the carriage to wish Mr Groocock, who was
among them, good-bye, and to thank them for their good wishes, promising
at all events to do his best to prevent the French from setting foot on
the shores of England, and disturbing them in their quiet homes.  Their
hearty cheers as he drove off restored his spirits.

"It pays one for going away when the people show such kind feeling, and
I hope when I come back to be received with as hearty a welcome," he
remarked to Algernon, who accompanied him as far as the next town,
through which the coach passed.

There seemed a blank at Texford after Harry had gone.

The next day the Miss Pembertons moved into Downside Cottage.  To some
of the more worldly guests their departure was a relief, as they freely
expressed opinions which were looked upon as savouring too strongly of
what was called Methodism to be uttered in polite society.

Although she could not see the expression which her remarks called forth
on the countenances of the company, Miss Mary was often aware by the
tone of their voices that what she said was unpalatable.  This, however,
though it grieved her gentle spirit, did not anger her, and she spoke in
so mild and loving a way that even those who were least disposed to
adopt her principles could not help acknowledging that she was sincere
and faithful in her belief.

The Miss Pembertons had not been long settled in their new abode before
they began to visit their poorer neighbours.  The blind lady and her
sister were soon known in all parts of the village, and might be seen
every day walking arm-in-arm, now stopping at one cottage to admire the
flowers in the little plot of ground before it, or now at another to
inquire after the health of one of the inmates.  The sick and the
afflicted received their first attentions; Miss Mary could quote large
portions of the Scriptures, and explain them with a clearness and
simplicity suited to the comprehension of the most ignorant of those she
addressed.

The sisters had no carriage, for their income was limited; but those in
distress found them liberal in their gifts, and the inhabitants of
Hurlston averred that they might have kept not only a pony-chaise, but a
carriage and pair, with the sums they annually distributed in the place.
Their charities were, however, discerning and judicious, and although
those who had brought themselves into poverty received assistance when
there was a prospect of their amending, if they were known to be
continuing in an evil course they might in vain look for help, and were
pretty sure to meet with a somewhat strong rebuke from Miss Jane, as
Miss Pemberton was generally called.  In their inquiries about the
people they were helped by a good dame, one of the oldest inhabitants,
Granny Wilson, who lived in a nice tidy cottage, with an orphan
grandchild.  Though their charity was generally distributed by Miss
Jane's hand, Miss Mary was the greatest favourite.  The sweet expression
of her sightless countenance, and her gentle voice, won all hearts.
Though Miss Mary never ventured outside their gate without her sister,
she was wont to wander about the grounds by herself.  The flower-garden
was under her especial care.  She was said to know, indeed, every flower
which grew in it, and to point not only to any rose-tree which was
named, but to each particular rose growing on it, with as much certainty
as if she could see it before her.

A year had passed since the two spinster ladies had taken possession of
Downside.

One morning, while Miss Pemberton had gone over to Texford, her sister
was engaged, scissors in hand, in clipping the dead flower-stalks in
front of the cottage.

"Good morning, Miss Mary," said a voice.  "Am I to leave any fish for
you to-day?"

"Pray do, Mistress Halliburt; Susan knows what we require.  And you have
brought your little girl with you; I heard her light footstep as she
tripped by your side.  I should like to talk to her while you go in.
Come here, my dear," she said, as the dame went round to the back
entrance; "I have heard of you, though I forget your name; what is it?"

"My name is Maiden May, please, Miss Mary; and I have heard of you and
how kind you are to the poor; and I love you very much," answered the
little girl, looking up naively at the blind lady's face.

"Your name is a pretty one," said Miss Mary, a smile lighting up her
countenance as she spoke, produced by the child's remark.  "Why are you
called Maiden May?"

"Father called me so when he found me a long time ago," answered May.

"When he found you, my child, what do you mean?" asked Miss Mary, with
surprise.

"When I came in the big ship with my ayah, and was wrecked among the
fierce waves," answered May.

"I do not clearly understand you.  Is not Dame Halliburt your mother?"

"Oh, yes, and I love her and father and Jacob and the rest so much,"
said May.  "I have no other mother."

"Is your mother's name Halliburt?"

"Yes."

"I cannot understand what you mean, my dear; I must ask Mistress
Halliburt to explain to me," said Miss Mary.

"Ah, yes, do; she will tell you.  But I remember that father found me on
board the big ship, and brought me home in the boat, and mother took
care of me, and Jacob used to walk with me every day till I was old
enough to go out with mother."

"But who is Jacob?" asked Miss Mary.

"He is brother Jacob, and he is so kind, and he tries to teach me to
read; but he does not know much about it himself, and I can now read as
fast as he can."

"Does your mother not teach you?" asked Miss Mary.

"Not much, she has no time; but father on Sunday tells me stories from
the Bible.  He can read very well, though he sometimes stops to spell
the words, just as I do.  There is only the Bible and one book we have
got at home."

"Would you like, my little girl, to come up here and learn to read?  My
sister will teach you, and I think I can help, though I cannot see what
is printed in a book."

"Oh, yes, so much, if mother will let me," answered May.  "I am sure I
should remember all you tell me, and then I might teach Jacob to read
better than he does now.  Ah, here comes my mother."

"You can go round the garden and look at the flowers while I talk to
her."

"Thank you, Miss Mary; I so love flowers.  We have none near our
cottage, for they would not grow on the sand," and May ran off, stopping
like a gay butterfly, now before one flower, now before another, to
admire its beauty and enjoy its fragrance.

"If you can spare a few moments, Mistress Halliburt, I should like to
learn from you more than I can understand from the account your little
girl has been giving me of herself," said Miss Mary, as the dame
approached her.  "She has been talking about a wreck and being brought
on shore by your husband.  Is she not really your child?"

"We love her as much as if she was, but she has been telling you the
truth, Miss Mary," answered the dame.  "We have been unable to gain any
tidings of her friends, though we have done all we could to inquire for
them, and though we are loth for her sake to bring her up as a
fisherman's child, we would not part with her unless to those who could
do better for her welfare."

The dame then described how May had been brought from the wreck, and
how, from the dress the little girl had on, and the locket round her
neck, and more especially from her appearance, there could be no doubt
that she was the child of gentlefolks.

"From the tone of her voice and the account my sister gave of her, I
feel sure that you are right, Mistress Halliburt," said Miss May.  "If
you can spare her to-day, I should like to keep her with me, and you can
call or send for her when you have finished your rounds.  I shall esteem
it a favour if you will bring her up to-morrow morning, and let my
sister see her, and if we can in the meantime think of anything to
benefit the child, we will let you know."

The dame expressed her gratitude for the interest Miss Mary took in
Maiden May, but she could not help feeling somewhat jealous lest the
blind lady should rob her and Adam of some of the affection which the
child had bestowed on them.  Still she was too right-minded to allow the
feeling to interfere with May's interest.  She readily agreed to let her
remain, and also to bring her up the next morning, that Miss Pemberton
might see her and form her own opinion about the child.

Calling May, she told her that she was to stay with Miss Mary, "and if
Miss Mary wants you to lead her about, you must be very careful where
you go, and mind to tell her everything you see; but don't talk too much
if it seems to weary her," added the dame in a whisper, as, kissing May,
she wished her good-bye.



CHAPTER TWELVE.

MAY'S SCHOOLING.

Maiden May, on finding herself alone with Miss Mary, at once went up,
with a confidence she might not have felt with a person not deprived of
sight as the kind lady was, and took her hand.

"Mother told me to ask whether you would like me to lead you about the
garden.  May I do so?"

"I should like you to lead me about very much, though I think I know my
way pretty well.  But you must stop whenever you come to a flower you
admire, and I will tell you its name, and you must describe to me
anything else you see--birds or butterflies or other insects.  As my
eyes are blind, you must use yours instead of them for my benefit."

"Oh, yes, Miss Mary; I will try and do what you say," exclaimed May,
delighted to find that she could be of use to the blind lady.  A new
existence seemed suddenly opened out to her.  The gentle and refined
tone of voice of Miss Mary sounded pleasing to her ear, although she did
not understand all that she said, her language was so different to that
she had been accustomed to hear used in the fisherman's cottage.

Then she was delighted with the new and beautiful flowers, and her
wonder was excited when she found that they all had names, and that Miss
Mary, though blind, could tell their colours and describe them so
perfectly.  Miss Mary also told her the names of the birds whose notes
they heard as they walked about the grounds, and May in return described
with a minuteness which surprised her blind friend a number of objects
both animate and inanimate which she thought would interest her, while
she asked a variety of questions which, though exhibiting her ignorance,
showed a large amount of intelligence and desire to obtain information.
The child was evidently natural and thoroughly unaffected, without
either timidity or rustic bashfulness.  She had, indeed, been treated
with uniform kindness, and with even a certain amount of respect, which
the fisherman and his family could not help feeling for her.  Though the
dame had not failed in endeavouring to correct any faults she might have
exhibited, yet she had done so with that gentleness and firmness which
made the little girl sensible that her kind protectress did so for her
benefit alone.  The dame found the task a very easy one, for Maiden May
rarely required a rebuke.

Still, though her voice was gentle, the child had caught the idiom and
pronunciation of the fisherman's family; but even in that respect there
was a natural refinement in the tone of her voice; and as Adam was a
God-fearing man, and had brought up his sons to fear God also, no coarse
language or objectionable expressions were ever heard in his cottage.
Indeed, more true refinement is oftener found among the lower classes
where religious principles exist than is generally supposed.

Miss Mary, after walking till she was tired, invited her young guest
into the house.  Luncheon was placed on the table; Susan attended her
mistress and placed delicacies before May such as she had never before
tasted.  In spite, however, of Susan's pressing invitations to take
more, she ate but sparingly, to the surprise of the kind woman, who
thought that the little fisher-girl would have done more justice to the
good things offered her.

"She has quite a young lady's appetite," she observed afterwards to Miss
Mary.

"That is not surprising, for a young lady she is, depend on that.  It
will be a grievous pity if her relatives are not to be found," was the
answer.

After luncheon, Miss Mary got out a book and placed it before May, and
begged her to read from it.  By the way May endeavoured to spell out the
words Miss Mary discovered that she had made but very little progress in
her education.

"Please, I think I could say my lessons better in the Bible if I could
find the verses father teaches me," said May, with perfect honesty.

Miss Mary rang to obtain Susan's assistance, and May asked her to find
the Sermon on the Mount.  May read out nearly the whole of the first
chapter, with a peculiar tone and pronunciation, which she had learned
from honest Adam, following the words with her finger.

"I rather think, my little maid, that you know the verses by heart,"
observed Miss Mary.

"Oh, yes," answered May, naively, "I could not read them without; but I
will try and learn more before I next come."

Miss Mary was, however, inclined to advise her not to make the attempt,
as she would learn to pronounce the words with the accent which sounded
so harsh to her ears.

"But, however pronounced, they are God's words," she thought to herself.
"I should not prevent her learning even a verse from His book.  She
will soon gain the right pronunciation from educated people."

The time passed as pleasantly with Miss Mary as with May herself.

At length Susan appeared to say that a fisher-lad, one of Dame
Halliburt's sons, had come to fetch the little girl.

"Who is it?" asked Miss Mary.

"Oh, it is sure to be brother Jacob, the rest have gone out with
father," answered May.

Jacob was desired to walk in.  He stood in the hall, hat in hand,
watching the door of the drawing-room, through which Susan had intimated
May would appear.  As soon as she saw him she ran forward and took both
of his hands, pleasure beaming on her countenance.  He stooped down and
kissed her.

"Are you ready to come with me, Maidy May?" he asked; "you don't want to
stop away from us with the ladies here, do you?"

"Oh, no, no, Jacob!" answered May, holding him tightly by the hand; "I
don't want to leave father or mother or you; I will go back with you as
soon as you like."

Miss Mary overheard the latter part of the conversation as she followed
May out of the drawing-room.

"I hear, my good lad, that you have been very kind to the little girl;
and pray understand that we do not wish to rob you of her; and if we ask
her to come up here, it will only be to help you in teaching her to
read, as I understand you have been accustomed to do."

"Please, ma'am, I am a very poor scholar," answered Jacob; "but I do my
best, and I shall be main glad if you will help me."

Hand-in-hand May and Jacob set off to return home.

That evening Jacob might have been seen with the Bible before him, and
May seated by his side, while he tried to help her to read.  As the lamp
fell on their countenances, the contrast between the fair,
delicate-looking child and the big, strongly-built fisher-boy, with his
well-bronzed, broad and honest face, would not have failed to be
remarked by a stranger entering the room.

Jacob spelt out the words one by one, pronouncing them with his broad
accent as he gained their meaning, while May followed him, imitating
exactly the intonation of his voice.  Sometimes she not only caught him
up, but got ahead, reading on several words by herself, greatly to her
delight.

"Ah, May!  I see how it is," said Jacob, with a sigh.  "You will be
quicker with your books than I ever shall be, and if the kind ladies at
Downside wish to teach you, it's not for me to say them nay; but I would
that I had more learning for your sake, and I shall be jealous of them,
that I shall, when I find that you can read off out of any book you have
got as smoothly as you do the verses you have learned by rote.  Oh, you
will be laughing at me then."

"No, no, Jacob!  I will never laugh at you.  You taught me all I know
about reading, and I shall never forget that, even if I learn to read
ever so well."

Next morning, when Adam came home from fishing, the dame told him the
interest Miss Mary Pemberton seemed to take in Maiden May, and of her
expectation that the Miss Pembertons would wish to have the little girl
up to instruct her better than they could at home.  Adam agreed that it
would not be right to prevent their charge enjoying the benefit which
such instruction would undoubtedly be to her.

"But they must not rob us of her altogether, dame.  I could not bear to
part with the little maiden, and what is more I won't, unless her own
kindred come to claim her, and then it would go sore against the grain
to give her up.  But right is right, and we could not stand out against
that."

"If the Miss Pembertons wish to take the little girl into their house
and make a little lady of her it would not be right, I fear, Adam, to
say `No' to them."

"She is a little lady already," answered Adam, sturdily.  "They could
not make her more so than she is already."

"But I am afraid the way we live, and speak too, Adam, is not like that
of gentlefolks; and though our Maiden May is a little lady, and better
than many little ladies I have known in all her ways, she will become in
time too much like one of us to please those to whom she belongs, I am
afraid," observed the dame, who had from her experience as a domestic
servant in Mr Castleton's family, a clearer perception of the
difference between the habits of her own class and those of the upper
orders of society than her husband.  Still Adam was not to be convinced.

"We are bringing her up as a Christian child should be brought up, to be
good and obedient," he observed, in a determined tone, "and that's more
than many among the gentry are.  You know, Betsy, you wouldn't like her
to be like that Miss Castleton you told me off."

"No more I should," answered the dame; "But though the Pembertons are of
her kindred, they are truly Christian ladies, and Maiden May could only
learn good from them."

As is often the case in a matrimonial discussion, the wife had the best
of the argument, but they were still uncertain whether the Miss
Pembertons would even make the offer which the dame had suggested as
possible.  She, at all events, had promised to take Maiden May up to
them, and Adam could not prohibit her doing so.



CHAPTER THIRTEEN.

MAY AN APT SCHOLAR.

On Miss Pemberton's return to Downside, while seated at their tea-table,
Miss Mary gave her a description of her young visitor of the morning,
and told her of the proposal she was anxious to make about her.

"I should just like to see the little girl," said Miss Pemberton.  "If
she is really as the dame supposes, of gentle birth, it would be
undoubtedly right to try and give her some of the advantages of which
she has been deprived.  At the same time we should be cautious--perhaps
the dame may have been mistaken, and it will be unnecessary, if not
imprudent, to try and raise her above the position in which she was
born, unless she possesses qualities calculated to make her happier and
better in a higher station."

"Well, Jane, I could only form an opinion from her sweet voice and from
what she said.  Adam Halliburt and his wife are devotedly fond of her,
and do you not think that we may help them by judicious training."

"Well, Mary, I see that you are determined to think highly of the child,
and unless we find that you are mistaken, I shall be very glad to see
her as often as her worthy protectors will allow her to come," said Miss
Pemberton.

"I trust that it will be found that I am right in my opinion of the
sweet little girl," said Miss Mary, nodding her head and smiling.  "I
can always judge best of people by their voices, and I detected in her's
that true tone which can only proceed from a true heart."

"Well, well, we shall see, and I hope that my opinion will agree with
your's, Mary," observed Miss Pemberton.

Next morning Mistress Halliburt arrived with Maiden May.  The little
girl was scrupulously clean and neatly dressed, though her garments were
befitting a fisherman's daughter of plain and somewhat coarse materials,
except that she wore the unusual addition of shoes and stockings.

"I have brought our little maiden to you, ladies, as you desired, and if
you will please to tell me how long you wish to keep her, I will send my
Jacob up to fetch her away at the proper time," said the dame as she
entered the hall into which the Miss Pemberton's had come out to meet
their young guest.

Miss Pemberton scanned her narrowly with her keen grey eyes before
replying.

"Good morning, my dear," said Miss Mary, "come and shake hands."

May ran forward and placed her hand trustfully in that of the blind
lady.  "May I lead you about the garden as I did yesterday, Miss Mary,"
she asked, "and tell you of the birds, and butterflies, and flowers I
see?  I shall like it so much."  Miss Mary smiled and nodded her consent
to the proposal.  "Thank you, thank you," exclaimed Maiden May.  "You
need not send for the child till the evening, Mrs Halliburt," said Miss
Jane, who had been watching May.  "We shall not grow tired of her I
think, and she, I hope, will be happy here."

The dame went away in the hopes that Maiden May had made a favourable
impression on the ladies.  "The elder is a little stiff and won't win
the child's heart like the blind lady; but she is kind and may be thinks
more than her sister," she said to herself.  "She won't spoil the child
or set her up too much--that's a good thing, or maybe she might not like
coming back to us and putting up with our ways, and that would vex Adam
sorely."

The little girl spent a very happy day with the kind ladies.  She led
Miss Mary as she had proposed about the garden, and was as entertaining
to the blind lady as on the previous day, while she gained a
considerable amount of information tending to expand her young mind.

Miss Jane commenced giving her the course of instruction she had
contemplated, and Maiden May proved herself a willing and apt pupil.
When invited to come to dinner, Miss Jane was pleased to see her stand
up with her hands before her, ready to repeat the grace which she
herself uttered.

"Father always prays before and after meals though he does not say the
same words; but I think God does not care about the words so much as
what comes out of the heart.  Oh, He is very very kind, I always thank
Him for what He gives me.  If He had not taken care of me, I should have
been washed away in the sea with my poor ayah and all the people on
board the ship."

"And you love God my little maiden," asked Miss Pemberton.  "Oh, yes,
how could I not when He has given us His dear Son, and with Him all
things else which we can want to make us happy."

"The child has been well taught by the good fish wife," observed Miss
Mary aside to her sister.  "She has set us an example which we must be
careful to follow."

"Yes, indeed," said Miss Jane, "we can better give her lady-like notions
and habits than the good old woman could have done, but she has acted
faithfully in imparting that knowledge which is above all price."  It is
true May did several things at table not in accordance with the customs
of polite society, but Miss Jane refrained from saying anything for fear
of intimidating the little girl.

"You will observe, May, how I behave at table, and you will try, I am
sure, to do as I do," she said quietly.

May nodded, and after this so narrowly watched all her movements that
Miss Jane began almost to wish that she had not made the remark.  If
Miss Jane helped herself to salt so did Maiden May, when she drank the
little girl lifted her small tumbler to her lips, her knife and fork was
held exactly in the same way she saw Miss Jane doing, or held daintily
in her tiny hand while Susan took her plate for some more chicken.

"Our young friend will prove an apt scholar, I suspect," observed Miss
Jane, to her sister.  "I will tell you why I think so by and bye."

After dinner Miss Jane gave May her first writing lesson.  She had never
before held a pen in her hand, and her attempts to make pot-hooks and
hangers, and even straight lines were not very successful.

"I think I could make some letters like those in a book, if you will let
me, Miss Jane," she said, looking up after surveying her performance.

"I do not want you to make such as those at present; but I will write
some which you can copy."

To her surprise the little girl imitated the letters, as she told Miss
Mary, with a neatness and precision which was truly surprising.

"I like to do them much better than those ugly things," said Maiden May,
and she was spared the task of copying the pot-hooks and hangers, and
was allowed to learn writing more according to her own fancy.

She was so happy that she thought Jacob had arrived sooner than it was
necessary to escort her home.  She went, however, very willingly,
tripping along by his side as she held his big hand, and describing with
glee all she had seen and learned.

"You will soon be thinking little of our home I am afeared, May," said
Jacob with a sigh.

May protested honestly she liked home best.  Jacob felt that in a few
years she would think differently.  He scarcely dared to allow himself
to contemplate the wide gap which would be placed between them.

Day after day May went up to Downside Cottage.

"We ought not to give you the trouble to come for your little girl,
Mistress Halliburt," observed Miss Jane; "Susan can escort her if you do
not think her old enough to go by herself."

"If she were my own daughter, or any other poor person's child, I would
have let her go and come back by herself long ago, but there is one
living not far off, who, for reasons of his own which I cannot fathom,
would, I am afraid, like to spirit her off," said the dame mysteriously.
"I have never lost sight of her except when she has been with you or my
Jacob, besides that time when near Texford Mr Harry saved her from the
wild bull, and I was so frightened then that I made up my mind never to
let her go by herself again.  If she had come to harm I should have
almost died of it, and Adam would never have forgiven me."

"That was an accident not likely to occur again, and surely no one would
injure the child," observed Miss Jane.

"It's no fancy of mine if I think there is," said the dame.  "He came
once and tried to get her from us by fair means, but we would not give
her up for all his promises.  But when he finds out as he is sure to do
before long, that she is with you, and coming backwards and forwards, he
will be on the watch for her.  He is not often here now since the war
began, and Adam thinks he is about no good.  He does come back sometimes
for a day or two, and Satan will be helping him if he thinks of
mischief."

"No doubt about that, Mrs Halliburt," observed Miss Jane.  "But there
is one more powerful than Satan who will protect the innocent."

"True, marm, but He will protect them through the means of their
friends, and it's our business, if we suspect evil to guard against it,"
said the dame.

"You are right.  But who is the person of whom you speak who is likely
to injure our little girl?"

"We must not speak ill of our neighbours, Miss Pemberton," answered the
dame.  "I know that; but if our neighbours do ill we may warn others
against them.  The man I mean is Miles Gaffin, the miller, as he calls
himself.  Now, I cannot say exactly what ill he does, except that I
never heard of his doing any good or saying even a kind word, though he
says many a bad one: but Adam, my husband, has a pretty strong notion of
the sort of business he carries on, and that it's not by his mill he
makes his money.  There are few about here who don't stand in awe of
him, and yet it would be hard for anyone to say exactly why.  Only one
thing is certain, that if he had a mind to do a thing he would do it,
and set the law at defiance.  To say the truth, I cannot tell you more
against him than I have, but I am just afraid of him, and cannot help
feeling as how he would work mischief to our Maiden May if he had the
chance.  But, Miss Pemberton, you will not repeat what I have said?"

"Certainly not, dame, certainly not," said Miss Mary, "but after all I
cannot say that you have brought any serious accusation against the
miller, nor can I understand why you should fancy he is likely to injure
our Maiden May."

"That's just it, Miss Mary, no one about here can say exactly what he
does, or why they don't like him.  Still, no one does like him, and I
feel a sort of tremble whenever I set my eyes on him, just as I should,
begging your pardon, ladies, if I was to meet Satan himself, though I
know well he cannot hurt me, for I trust in one who is able to keep evil
at a distance."

"Though I still remain in the dark as to why we should be cautious of
this man Gaffin, we will always keep a careful watch over Maiden May,
and when you or your son cannot come for her we will send her home with
some prudent person who will take care that neither he nor anyone else
runs off with her," answered Miss Jane.



CHAPTER FOURTEEN.

AT PORTSMOUTH.

Portsmouth was a busy place in those stirring times of warfare, and as
the coach, on the top of which Harry was seated, rattled and rumbled
down the High Street, parties of sailors came rolling along, laughing
and talking, several in their heedlessness almost running against the
horses in spite of the shouts of the coachman, who had more than once to
pull up to avoid driving over them.  Now a pressgang passed along,
dragging a number of unwilling captives to serve on board the fleet,
some resigned to their fate, others with frowning brows resenting the
treatment they had received, and some glancing round, hoping against
hope for an opportunity to escape.  Officers in cocked hats and
glittering epaulets were walking quickly along, while post-chaises came
driving in bringing Admiralty officials or Captains to join their ships.
Groups were collected in front of the different inns, and Jews were
looking out for customers, certain of obtaining a ready sale for their
trumpery wares.  Ballad singers, especially those who could troll forth
one of Dibdin's new songs, were collecting a good harvest from eager
listeners, and the apple-stall women were driving a thriving trade; as
were the shopkeepers of high and low degree, judging by their smiling
countenances, while the sound of revelry which came forth from the
numerous inns showed that the landlords were rejoicing in the abundance
of custom: in short, there was little chance of grass growing in
Portsmouth streets in those days.

As Harry leaped down from his seat he found his hand grasped by another
midshipman, a handsome looking youth, somewhat taller and older than
himself, who had made his way through the crowd gathered round the
coach.

"I have been on the look-out for you, Harry, with a message from the
Captain," said the latter, as they cordially shook hands.  "You are to
come on board at once, for we are all ataunto and the frigate goes out
of harbour this evening."

I have to order a few things at my tailor's, and shall be quite ready,
answered Harry.

"Well, Headland," he added, taking his friend's arm after he had given
his portmanteau into charge of a porter, "I was so glad to find that you
had joined the Triton, and as the captain knows and esteems you, he is
sure to give you a lift whenever he can.  We shall see some more service
together, and I hope that you, at all events, will mount a swab on your
shoulder before the ship is paid off."

"Your uncle will get you promoted first, I should think," answered
Headland, "though I hope some day my turn will come."

"You are my senior, and have done not a few things to merit it, and
Captain Fancourt is the last man to favour a relation by passing over
another with greater merits."

"Come, come, you have learned to flatter while you were studying French
on shore.  We shall both do our duty, I have no doubt about that."

Harry having called at his tailor's, he and Headland went down to the
point now so crowded with men-of-war's boats, and wherries coming in and
shoving off marines and sailors, watermen, and boat-women, and gaily
dressed females and persons of all description, that they had no little
difficulty in gaining one of the wherries.  Reaching her, however, at
last, they off to the frigate lying mid-channel, with her sails loose,
ready to get under way.

Harry, having reported himself, had some old friends to greet, and a
number of new acquaintances to make, and he soon found himself at home
in a midshipman's berth.

As soon as the captain came on board, the frigate, slipping her
moorings, glided out of harbour, and took up a berth near Lord Howe's
fleet, which had a short time before arrived after the glorious victory
of the 1st June.

Captain Fancourt having sent for Harry, gave him a kind welcome, and
said:--

"You shall go on shore with me to-morrow to attend the king and queen,
who are coming on board the fleet.  It is the best opportunity you may
have of seeing their majesties till you go to court on your promotion,
which I hope, however, you will gain before many years are over."

Accordingly, the next morning the captain went on shore in his boat,
taking Harry with him, and pulled to the dockyard.

Never had Portsmouth harbour presented a gayer scene.  Every vessel
afloat was dressed with as many flags as could be mustered, from the
proud line of battle ship to the humble lighter, while banners waved
from numberless flagstaff's on shore.  The shores were everywhere lined
with people on the watch for the flotilla of boats which were collecting
before the Commissioner's house in the dockyard.  The whole garrison was
under arms, and the Lords of the Admiralty, whose flag was hoisted on
board the Queen, and most of the Ministers of State were present.

Shouts rent the air as at length the king issued from the Commissioner's
house, carrying in his own hand a magnificent diamond-hilted sword,
accompanied by the queen, and followed by several of the princes and
princesses.  He thus proceeded down to his barge waiting at the steps,
when, amid the shouts of the multitude, and the firing of guns, he
embarked with his family and attendants.  The barge, then urged by the
strong arms of her crew, proceeded down the harbour, followed by a vast
fleet of boats, and steered for the Queen Charlotte, the most
conspicuous of the ships at Spithead.

As soon as the barge arrived alongside, the royal standard was hoisted,
that of the venerable admiral being shifted to a frigate, and a royal
salute thundered forth from all the ships, while hearty cheers rose from
the throats of the gallant crews as they stood on the outstretched
yards.

On the deck of the Queen Charlotte were collected the gallant admirals
and captains, by whose courage and seamanship the first of that long
series of victories which contributed so greatly to England's naval
glory had been won.

The king would allow no one to take the sword from him, but as soon as
he reached the deck, eagerly advanced towards Lord Howe.  He presented
it to him as a mark of his satisfaction and entire approbation of his
conduct.  Rich gold chains were then presented by the king to Sir
Alexander Hood, to Admiral Gardener, and also to Lord Howe's first
captain, Sir Roger Curtis.

"I am sorry that their wounds prevent Admiral Bower and Admiral Paisley
from attending," said the king.  "I must have the satisfaction of
presenting them with gold chains; and as soon as medals can be cast to
commemorate the victory, I will send them that they may be attached to
the chains."

It was an interesting sight when, on that occasion, the flower of the
English navy, with the gallant men who had fought that glorious action,
were presented by the venerable admiral, for Lord Howe was then seventy
years of age, to the good king on the quarter-deck of the flag ship.
His Majesty exhibited much genuine feeling as the admirals captains and
lieutenants in succession came up to him.  He had a kind word for
everyone, and one of sympathy for those who had so far recovered from
their wounds as to be able to be presented.

"Who would not be ready to shed the last drop of his blood when we have
our dear country to fight for, and so first-rate a king to reign over
us," exclaimed Harry, enthusiastically to his friend Headland, for they
both had accompanied their captain on board, and witnessed the spectacle
from a distant part of the ship.

The levee being concluded, the king dined with the admiral on board, and
then returned in his barge to the harbour, accompanied as before by a
squadron of boats.

His Majesty was so eager to see the prizes captured by his fleet, that,
before going on shore, he insisted on pulling up the harbour to have a
look at them.  There, at their moorings, lay the six huge line of battle
ships which had lately belonged to the republican French, now the prize
of English valour.  The Northumberland, Achille, La Just, Impetueux, and
America, the two latter the finest seventy-fours that had ever been seen
in the British harbour, the Sans-Pareille, almost equalling in size the
Queen Charlotte, and noted for her swift sailing.  The Venguer would
have been among them had she not sunk just after she struck her colours.

In the evening the town was brilliantly illuminated, and the next day
the king attended the launch of a line of battle ship, the Prince of
Wales.  Directly afterwards, the indefatigable monarch, with the queen
and princess, rowed out to Spithead, embarked on board the Aquilon
frigate, royal salutes firing from all the ships while the crews manned
yards and cheered, and the bands played their most lively music.

The Aquilon getting under way stood towards the Needles, when the king
returned to Portsmouth to spend the Sunday.

On the following Monday he sailed in the Niger frigate for Southampton,
whence the royal family proceeded in carriages for Windsor.

Such is a description of one of the many visits the king delighted to
pay to the fleets of England, so that both the officers and men of the
navy were well acquainted with his person, and very many could boast of
having had the honour of conversing with him.

The Triton, however, was soon to be far away from such scenes, and to be
engaged in the stern reality of warfare.  Her destination was the
Mediterranean, and her captain and crew being eager to distinguish
themselves, the grass was not allowed to grow on her keel.  Still,
though a bright look-out was kept, and leagues of water had been
ploughed by her, a couple of privateers, a few merchantmen, and Gunda
costas, only had been captured, she having hitherto encountered no
worthy antagonist.

Unhappily fever broke out on board, and going into Gibraltar she was
compelled to leave thirty men at the hospital.  Even after she sailed
again, a considerable number remained on the sick list; indeed, she had
almost an equal number with those left behind unable to do duty.

Though his crew were thus reduced in strength, Captain Fancourt
continued his cruise in search of the enemy.

The Triton, approaching the neighbourhood of Carthagena, a number of
large ships were seen hull down between her and the land.  They were
known to be the Spanish fleet.  Their movements were watched, and they
were observed standing back to port.  The Triton kept them in sight, and
then standing away, continued cruising on the ground they had before
occupied.  In vain, however, Captain Fancourt watched for their return,
that he might carry information of their whereabouts to the admiral.

Day after day went by and not a sail was seen.

"This is vexatious work," exclaimed Harry, as he and Headland were
walking the quarter-deck during the first watch, when the frigate lay
becalmed about ten or a dozen miles off the coast.

"It's more than vexatious to me who have no friends to help me, and who,
unless I get the opportunity of fighting my way up the ratlines, have
but little hope of promotion," answered Headland.  "You who have a
father in Parliament are sure of yours as soon as you have served your
time."

"That may be the case, but I would rather gain my promotion in hard
service, than as a matter of favour.  I am sure that you will make
opportunities for yourself, and I hope to find them too, though they may
not come as willingly as we may desire," said Harry.  "But how is it,
Headland, that you speak of having no friends?  You know me well enough,
to be sure, that I could not wish to pry into your affairs from idle
curiosity; but the truth is, that being known to be your friend, I have
several times been asked about you, and I have been compelled to confess
that I know nothing of your history.  That has made people fancy that
there is something you would desire to conceal, though, as I know you,
my dear fellow, to be the soul of honour, I am very sure there is
nothing, as far as you are personally concerned, which you would desire
to be kept secret."

"You do me no more than justice, Harry," answered Headland, in a tone
which denoted honest pride--a very different feeling to vanity.  "There
is nothing in my history which I wish to conceal.  On the contrary, I
would rather have it as widely known as possible, though the fear of
being considered egotistical has prevented me talking about myself.  For
this reason alone I have hitherto, even to you, never spoken about my
early days, and now you put the question to me, I can scarcely otherwise
account for my silence on the subject."

"You have spoken at times of a kind-hearted seaman who took care of you
as a child, and of having served as a ship's boy before you were placed
on the quarter-deck, and of other circumstances which have made me
suspect that your early history was not a little romantic.  From
strangers being present, or from other causes, I have, however, always
been prevented from questioning you more particularly on the subject,
and even now, as I honour you for yourself, I would not ask you to tell
me anything, but that I believe it would be for your advantage, and
certainly, as I said before, not to satisfy my own curiosity."

"I am sure of that, my dear Harry," answered Headland, "and I will try
to give you as much of my early history as I possess myself.  To do so I
must exert my memory, and help it out with the information I have
obtained from my early protector and devoted friend, Jack Headland,
whose name I bear, though I know from him that it is not my proper one.
I have no reason, however, to be ashamed of the name, and therefore
gladly retain it, hoping some day to make it known with honour.  I
confess, however, did I possess any means of being recognised, my
earnest wish would have been to discover my parents and family, but as
you will learn, from what I am going to tell you, all possible clue that
would enable me to do so has been lost, and I have therefore made up my
mind to be content with my position, and to gain a name for myself."



CHAPTER FIFTEEN.

A YARN AT SEA.

"If it gives you no painful recollections, my dear Headland, I shall
much like to hear your history," said Harry.  "On this calm night the
thread of your narrative is not likely to be broken."

"I will try to go back, then, as far as my memory will help me," said
Headland.

I have a dim recollection of living in a large Eastern style of house,
with a number of black servants dressed in white, and a black woman who
spoke in a language which has now become strange, though I think I then
understood it.  She attended especially on me.  There was a tall
gentleman of a slight figure, and a very fair lady, who was, I am sure,
my mother.  I have a faint recollection of her blue eyes and sweet smile
as she took me in her arms, or looked down upon me as I played at her
feet.  Still, it is only now and then like the vision in a dream that
her countenance rises to my memory.  After that there comes a blank, and
I found myself on board a ship--brought there by my black nurse,
accompanied by the tall gentleman.  I remember him clearly in the cabin,
talking to a lady who then took charge of me, my nurse, I conclude,
returning on shore, for she disappears from my recollection.  While the
gentleman was on deck, as I was afterwards told by Jack Headland, he
suddenly, looking at the mate, asked him if he was not somebody he had
known in England.  The mate seemed for a moment taken aback, but,
recovering himself, replied quite quietly that the gentleman was
mistaken; that he had never heard of such a person, and that his name
was Michael Golding, which, as Jack said, as far as he knew to the
contrary, was the case, for that was the name he went by on board,
though he was generally spoken of as the mate.  The gentleman at last
seemed satisfied, and returned on shore.

The ship sailed, and I remember seeing the blue water bubbling and
hissing alongside as she clove her way through it, and playing with a
ball on deck, which rolled out through one of the ports.  The lady was
very kind, and used to sing to me, and tell me stories, and, I fancied,
tried to teach me my letters, though I was somewhat young to learn them.
She was, however, very different to my mother, much older I suspect,
and I did not love her half so much.

It came on to blow after a time, the sea got up and the ship tumbled
about, and the poor lady was unable to watch over me.

There were other passengers, but they were all ill, and the stewardess
was too busy to attend to me, but the mate came one day and told the
lady that he would watch over me, or get some one else to do so when he
was engaged.

From the first I did not like him, for he was a dark, black bearded man,
with an unpleasant expression of countenance, so I cried out whenever he
came near me.  The captain must, I think, therefore, have given me in
charge to Jack Headland, a young apprentice, whose looks I liked much
better than the mate's.  At all events, I was frequently with Jack, and
no one could have taken better care of me.

There were not many English seamen, most of the crew being dark-skinned
fellows--Malays, I suppose.

The vessel was, I know, not an Indiaman, but a country trader bound to
Calcutta or Bombay.

I told Jack--so I learned from him--that I did not like the mate.  He
advised me not to say that to any one else, and promised that he would
be my friend.

Most thoroughly he fulfilled his promise.  Strange as it may seem, the
mate intentionally left me near an open port several times, in the hopes
that I might by chance slip through, so Jack thought, though he could
not guess at his motive.  Still it was clear that the mate had a bitter
spite against me.

We had been some time at sea when we were caught in a fearful hurricane.
The ship was dismasted, and I remember hearing a dreadful crash, when
all was confusion on board.  The sea broke over the ship, and a number
of people were washed away.  Even then Jack did not forget me.  He found
me in the cabin, and seizing me in his arms carried me to the fore part
of the ship, which still hung to the rocks, while the after part,
directly we had left it, broke up, and the poor lady who had had charge
of me with many others was lost.  The mate, who had made his way forward
with half-a-dozen men, advised Jack to let me go, as it was impossible I
should survive, and that he would probably lose his own life in
attempting to save mine.

"No, no," answered Jack.  "I promised to take care of the youngster, and
I will as long as I have life in me."

The noble fellow held me the faster with one arm, while he clung to the
wreck with the other.  Scarcely had the mate spoken than he was washed
away; but Jack saw him gain a piece of the wreck to which he was
clinging, when he disappeared in the gloom at night.

When morning broke, the shore was seen.  The hurricane was over, and the
sea was becoming calmer.  Jack securing me to the stump of the bowsprit
with three or four of our surviving shipmates, contrived to form a raft.
When this was launched he came for me, and fed me with some biscuit
which he had in his pocket, I conclude.  We then embarked, and partly by
paddling with pieces of plank, and partly by sailing, we reached the
shore.

We had not long landed when a number of natives came, and made the whole
party prisoners.  While they were consulting what to do with us, some
others were seen along the shore dragging the mate in their midst.
Three Malays had been saved on the raft, who, poor fellows, were quickly
knocked on the head.  The lives of the white men were spared.  Jack kept
me tightly in his arms, and entreated the natives not to take me from
him.  The mate, however, seemed to be able to make them understand him,
and Jack said that he was certain from the way he looked at me, that he
was endeavouring to persuade the natives to separate us.  Though we had
fallen among a tribe of murderous pirates, such as frequent the coasts
of many of the Indian Islands, they had still some of the kinder
feelings of human nature lingering in their breasts.  Notwithstanding
what the mate might have said Jack was allowed to keep possession of me,
and our captors making signs to us to accompany them, we proceeded to
their village, situated on the shores of a creek, on the bank of which
several piratical proas lay moored.

By this time I was suffering dreadfully from thirst.  Jack seeing this
entreated the natives to give me some water.  The houses were raised on
platforms, with steps leading to them some height from the ground.

One of the natives, a headman, calling out a pleasant-looking young
woman, brought down a calabash of water, which she gave me to drink.
She smiled as she watched me.  As soon as I had satisfied my thirst, I
put it to Jack's mouth, and he swallowed the remainder.  The young woman
seemed to have taken a fancy to me, and saying something to the head
man, who was her husband, the latter made signs to Jack that he was to
give me to her.  On this she seemed highly pleased, and Jack, thinking I
should be safe in her keeping, made no resistance.

As soon as she got me, she carried me up into the house.  Jack was going
to follow, when some of the natives seized him and dragged him away.  My
new nurse brought me some dry native clothing, and while doing so
discovered round my neck a gold chain to which an ornament was attached;
but she did not attempt to take it off, and I have ever since carefully
preserved it in the hopes that it might assist to identify me.  She then
gave me food, and placed me on a mat, where I soon fell asleep.

Day after day passed by, and though I frequently asked for Jack, he did
not appear.  The young woman who had no children of her own, treated me
with great kindness, and dressed me up like a native.  I do not remember
having had my own clothes restored.

I remember once, if not twice, seeing the mate while I was playing in
front of the house; but my protectress, fancying that he wanted to take
me from her, ran out and carried me inside.

I was beginning to learn the language of the people with whom I was
thrown, and could make my wants known, so that I must have been some
time with them.  I had not forgotten Jack, however, and continued hoping
that he would come back for me; and whenever I went out I was on the
watch for him.  Once I fancied I saw him in the distance, but as I was
dressed as a native child, he did not recognise me.

Many months went by.  I afterwards found that the white men had been
compelled to labour as slaves, though the mate had managed to gain the
confidence of one of the chiefs, and had risen in his favour.  The proas
frequently went out of harbour, and were absent often for a considerable
time.  When they came back they brought all sorts of things, which were
placed in their store houses, and were certainly not obtained by
peaceable commerce.

One day the young woman who had charge of me seemed very unhappy.  I was
now able to understand all she said, so I asked her the cause of her
grief, and she told me that the chief whose slave the mate had become,
wanted to persuade her husband to give me up to him, and that she could
not bear the thoughts of parting from me.  I entreated her to keep me,
and promised that if I was taken away I would run back to her.  I then
asked her if she knew what had become of my friend Jack.  She said he
was not far off, but that his master would not let him come to see me.
I begged her, at all events, not to let me be given up to the mate.  She
at last told me one day that I need have no fear of the mate, as he had
disappeared, and was supposed to have made his way out to sea in a canoe
to a vessel which had appeared off the coast.

The pirates lived tolerably easy lives on shore, apparently believing
that though they must have made enemies in all directions, their village
was so securely hidden, they were not likely to be molested.

Thus time went on, when one night I was awoke by hearing a fearful
uproar, rapid reports of firearms, shouts and shrieks of men fighting
desperately.  Presently flames burst forth from different parts of the
village.  They were approaching the house where I was.  The one next to
it was on fire.  My kind protectress did not forget me.  At first, not
knowing what to do, she had remained watching the progress of events,
hoping probably that the enemy would be driven back.  When, however, the
fire surrounded her house, she saw that it was time to fly.  Seizing me
in her arms she was about to do so, when the crackling and hissing
flames burst forth around us.  At that moment a man leaped up the steps.
Though so long a time had passed since we had parted, I at once
recognised my friend Jack.  Snatching me from the woman's arms, he
sprang down to the ground, telling her to follow him.  Bullets were
whizzing through the air in all directions.  He made his way as fast as
his legs could carry him out of the range of fire, and then directed his
course towards the river, where he sat down on the ground beneath some
bushes, and I believe I fell asleep.

It was just daylight when I awoke, and Jack creeping with me down to the
water's edge, we saw several boats full of men.  Jack shouted to them,
and one of them put in and took us on board.  They were, he afterwards
told me, the boats of two Dutch men-of-war, which had been sent up the
river to destroy the nest of pirates.  This they had done effectually,
and were now on their way back to their ships.  Jack was the only one of
the shipwrecked crew who had escaped; what had become of the others he
could not tell, but concluded that they had been murdered.

It was a long time, however, before I could speak to him or understand
what he said, for I had been so long without hearing a word of English
that I had almost forgotten it, while he knew but very little of the
native language in which I had in the meantime learned to express my
wants.

We were kindly received on board one of the Dutch frigates.  Jack tried
to tell the captain the little he knew about me, but as the Dutchman
spoke no English, and Jack was ignorant of Dutch, he did not, I suspect,
give him a very lucid account.  Jack having been but a short time at the
port from which we sailed, as he had joined the ship from a vessel which
had arrived only the day before, had entirely forgotten its name, and
being no navigator he had not the slightest notion from what direction
we had come.  He was not much happier in recollecting the name of the
vessel, except that there were two of them both ending, as he said, in
"jee."

Before long a Dutch seaman who spoke English was found on board, and
through his interpretation Jack was able to give a rather more clear
account of me than at first.  The captain was at all events satisfied
that I was the child of English parents of a good position in life, and
taking compassion on my destitute condition, he desired Jack to leave me
in the cabin, giving him permission, however, to come aft and attend to
me.  Jack would rather have kept me forward with himself, but believing
that this arrangement was for my good, he submitted to it.  I was soon
rigged out like a young Dutchman by the ship's tailor, and Jack used to
come into the cabin to look after me in the morning, and to attend to me
at my meals, while he watched during the best part of the day as I ran
about the deck.

The frigates were bound for Batavia.  As soon as we arrived there the
captain took me on shore, and he so interested a wealthy Dutch merchant
and his wife in my favour that they offered to receive me into their
house and adopt me should my parents not be discovered.  I at once
became a great favourite of the lady's, who had no children of her own,
and for my sake they sent for Jack and asked if he would wish to remain
on shore and enter their service.  As he was very unwilling to part with
me he accepted their offer, though, as he afterwards said, kind as they
were, he did not like the thoughts of my being turned into a Dutchman.
He was my constant companion when I was not with Mynheer Vanderveldt or
his excellent Frau, and he did his best to teach me English.  They,
however, did not neglect either my education or my manners, but took
great pains to bring me up as a young gentleman.

Three or four years more passed by, and I had become a biggish boy, and
should, in spite of Jack's efforts, have been soon turned into a
Dutchman, when my kind friends determined to return to Europe.  I
suspect that all this time, from their wish to keep me, they had taken
no great pains to discover to whom I belonged; indeed, the only clue
that Jack could give them was so slight that I feel that they really had
a sufficient excuse for their negligence.  My faithful friend Jack,
still unwilling to part from me, accompanied my friends in the _Prinz
Mauritz_, on board which we embarked.  He and I were doomed, however, to
be unfortunate in our voyages, though more fortunate than our
companions.

We had been some weeks at sea when, during a dark and blowing night, a
terrific crash was heard.  I sprang out of my berth and dressed, and
within a minute my faithful Jack was by my side.

"The ship is on shore and will go to pieces before daylight, but I will
not desert you, my boy," he said.  "As I came aft I made out a rock
close aboard of us, and as the masts are sure to go over we may manage
to gain it if we take the proper time.  I wish I could help Mynheer and
the Frau, but I must look after you first."

Scarcely had he said this when another and another crashing sound
reached our ears.

"There go the masts!" he exclaimed.  "Come along!" and seizing me by the
arm he dragged me on deck.

As he had expected, the head of the mainmast rested on the rock, which
could now be seen as a bright flash of lightning darted from the sky.
We were the first on the spar, and making our way along it gained the
rock.  A few others seeing us followed.  I entreated Jack to look after
my friends, forgetting the danger to which he would be exposed in doing
so.  The people coming along the mast prevented him from going, and just
then a heavy sea rolling in sent a sheet of spray over us, completely
hiding the ship.  When we looked again she was gone.  The sea had lifted
her, and falling off the rock she had sunk, dragging her fallen masts
with those still clinging to them.

Six people, besides Jack and me, had alone escaped, all the other human
beings on board, including my kind friends, had perished.  We remained
till daylight on the rock, and at daybreak managed to get to the island,
partly by wading and partly by swimming.  It was itself only a huge
rock, about three miles long, rising in some places to the height of a
couple of hundred feet above the sea.

We employed the whole day in collecting provisions and part of the cargo
washed ashore.  We went in search of water and found a spring, so that
we had no fear of dying from hunger or thirst for some time to come.
One of our first cares was to erect a flagstaff as a signal to any
passing ship.  I felt deeply grieved for the loss of my friends; but I
did not think so much about the fact that I was reduced from affluence
to perfect poverty.  Jack told me that he knew Mynheer Vanderveldt
intended to leave me all his property.

"He made his will before he left Batavia, and I am pretty sure he had it
with him, so that if any of his chests are washed on shore, as I should
know them, there may still be a chance of finding it.  Though I am no
scholar myself, you might make it out, and some day get what the good
man intended to be yours."

So impressed was Jack with this idea that he employed a considerable
portion of his time in hunting along the shore for my friend's chests.

Though we did not get them, we found several articles which were of more
use to us just then, so that the time was not fruitlessly spent.

We lived in a hut built partly of stones and partly of the wreck, and
thus suffered no great hardship.  After we had spent three months on the
rock we saw a sail in the distance.  She approached--our signal was
discovered.  A boat came and took us off, when we found ourselves on
board an English frigate, the _Nymph_, which had been driven by a gale
out of her course.  Had it not been for this circumstance we might have
remained on the rock many months longer, or till we had all died of
starvation.

Captain Biddell sent for me, and desired to know who I was.

"That's more than I can very well tell you, sir," I answered in the
broken English I then spoke; "but my friend Jack Headland can tell you
more about me than I can."

He accordingly sent for Jack, who told him all he knew.  He seemed, by
his remarks, to have some doubts of the truth of the story.

"Well, all I can do is to enter you both on the ship's books," he
observed.  "I shall see how the boy behaves himself and act
accordingly."

Jack was asked by what name I should be entered.

"I'll give him mine," he answered.  "I don't want him to be a Dutchman,
and I don't know any other to call him by."

And so I was entered as young Jack Headland, and young Jack I was called
ever afterwards, while he was known as old Jack, though he was not very
old either, for he was still a fine active young fellow.

"You heard what the captain said," observed old Jack to me.  "What you
have got to look after is to behave yourself and to do your duty.
Though he is somewhat cross-grained in his manner, he is all right at
bottom, or the ship would not be in the good order she is, or the men so
well contented.  Though I have never served on board a man-of-war before
I can judge of that."

I followed Jack's advice, and having shifted my shore-going clothes,
which were pretty nearly worn out, for a seaman's suit, I was soon able
to do my duty as well as any of the other boys in the ship.

Captain Fancourt was then first lieutenant of the frigate, and having
heard Jack's account he spoke to me and found that at all events I was a
young gentleman in manners and education.

"Do you wish to keep your present knowledge, my lad?" he asked one day,
calling me to him.  "It is a pity you should lose what you know."

I replied that I especially wished to do so, but that I had no books,
and should find it a hard matter to read them for'ard, even if I had.

"Very well," he answered.  "You shall come to my cabin every day, and I
will assist you in your studies."

The other officers following his example, also took me in hand.  The
master gave me lessons in mathematics and navigation, and the purser
taught me writing and arithmetic, so that though I was still berthed
for'ard I had advantages which even the midshipmen did not possess.
They, in a short time, finding I was a gentleman in manners, applied for
leave to the captain, and I was admitted into their berth.  I do not
know that I gained much by the change in some respects, but I was glad
to escape from the rough boys with whom I had at first to associate.  I
still did duty as a ship's boy, and by this means Jack was able to
instruct me in knotting and splicing, and other minutiae of a seaman's
education, which I found especially useful.

We had been in the Indian Seas about three years, chiefly engaged in
protecting British merchantmen from the pirates which swarmed there.
The boats had been sent away in chase of three or four of their craft,
cut off from a piratical fleet which were endeavouring to make their
escape along shore.  My friend Jack belonged to the second cutter.
Night came on, and the frigate stood after the boats, making signals for
their return.  Three of the boats at length got alongside, but the
second cutter did not appear.  The weather changed--a heavy gale sprang
up, and we were compelled to stand out to sea.  As soon as the weather
moderated, we returned and cruised up and down the coast, the boats
being sent on shore at various places; but nothing could be seen of the
second cutter, and we had every reason to fear that the officer in
charge of her and all hands, had either been killed or fallen into the
power of the pirates.  I was very much cut up at the loss of my kind
friend, who had indeed acted like a father towards me.  The captain sent
for me into his cabin, and expressed his regret at the loss of my old
protector.

"I wish to make all the amends I can to you, my lad," he said.  "As your
conduct has been thoroughly to my satisfaction since you came on board,
and as there is now a vacancy by the death of Mr Watson (the midshipman
lost in the boat), I will place you on the quarter-deck and give you the
rating of a midshipman."

I thanked him very much; but I remember saying, "I would rather old Jack
were alive though."

"I appreciate your feeling, my lad," he answered; "but even if he does
return I won't disrate you, and I will see how we can best manage to get
you an outfit."

Thus by the loss of my honest friend, whom I greatly lamented, I got my
first step on the ratlines.

After a further search for the missing boat we left the coast, and soon
afterwards going to Calcutta received our orders to return home.

Your uncle has been my friend ever since.  He obtained his promotion on
our arrival in England, and was at once appointed to the command of the
_Ariel_, corvette, in which I accompanied him to the West Indies, where
we were actively engaged, and I had there the opportunity I had so much
wished for of performing two or three acts which gained me credit.  I
was still more anxious than ever to make a name for myself, as since the
loss of my protector, Jack Headland, I had no possible clue by which to
discover my parents with the exception of the gold chain, which I wore
round my neck, and which I still preserved.  A small bundle containing a
child's clothes and shoes, and the figure of an Indian tumbler, which
were found in Jack's kit, I felt sure had belonged to me.  Whether or
not they are sufficient to identify me I am very doubtful.  Not wishing
to throw a chance away I deposited them for safety with my agents in
London.

Such was Headland's history, and Harry assured him at its close that he
always knew he must be a gentleman by birth, as he was in every other
possible way.

"I heartily wish," he said, "that you may some day find out to whom you
belong.  Whoever they are you may depend on it they will welcome you
joyfully.  Why there goes eight bells.  Our watch has indeed passed
quickly away."

The two midshipmen were relieved and went below.  They had scarcely, as
they supposed, closed their eyes, when the boatswain's rough voice and
shrill pipe roused them up with a cry of "All hands on deck!" followed
by the quick roll of the drum, the well known beat to quarters.



CHAPTER SIXTEEN.

HOME, WITH PROMOTION.

As Harry and his friend reached the deck they caught sight of a strange
frigate standing towards the _Triton_, which was, as has already been
said, off the port of Carthagena, and as they looked towards the land
they observed a small vessel under all sail running in for it.  That the
stranger was an enemy there was no doubt, and as she was evidently as
heavy a frigate as the Triton, there appeared, even should she be
captured, with the Spanish squadron close at hand, little prospect of
her being brought off.  There was indeed a great chance that the
_Triton_ herself would not escape should she be crippled.

"The odds are against us," observed the captain to his first lieutenant.
"We must not, however, show our heels to a single frigate, and will do
our best to take her before the enemy can come out to her rescue."

"Ay, ay, sir; take her we shall, and I hope get off with her too," was
the answer.

The crew were at their quarters, stripped to the waist, waiting eagerly
to begin the action.  The second lieutenant being left on shore and the
third being ill, Headland and Harry were doing duty in their places,
though the third lieutenant came on deck when he heard of the pending
action.

The stranger, which hoisted Spanish colours, and was seen to be of 34
guns, two more than the _Triton_, approaching within hail then hauled to
the wind, on the _Triton's_ weather beam.

"Give her a shot!" cried the captain, "to prove her."

Scarcely had the flash been seen than a whole broadside fired by the
enemy came rattling on board the _Triton_.  It was returned by the
British crew.  Broadside after broadside was given and received.  In
vain Captain Fancourt endeavoured to haul either ahead or astern of the
enemy to rake her.  She kept her advantageous position, and the
Spaniards, whatever may sometimes be said of them, fought their ship
gallantly.  The action continued to be a regular broadside to broadside
one.  The boatswain was seen examining the masts with anxious looks.
They and the bowsprit had been wounded pretty severely, while the
rigging hung in festoons, and her sails were shot through and torn.
Still the British seamen fought their guns as energetically as at first.

"Keep it up, my lads!" cried Headland, as he with Harry and other
officers moved from gun to gun.  "We have given her as much as we have
received, and something more into the bargain."

As far as the canopy of smoke which hung round the ships could enable
the British crew to distinguish the condition of their antagonist, they
saw that every shroud had been cut away, and her boats and upper works
knocked to pieces, while hitherto but very few of their own crew had
been hit and not one killed.  The action lasted an hour and twenty
minutes, when the Spaniards' fire sensibly slackened.

The _Triton_, giving her antagonist another broadside, now forged ahead.
The crew were ordered to leave their guns, and in an instant the
greater number swarming aloft began knotting and splicing the damaged
rigging, while fresh sails were got up and bent with a rapidity which
looked like magic.  Meantime the Spaniard was similarly engaged, and her
helm being put up she endeavoured under such sail as she could set to
make off.  The sight still further stimulated the British crew to
exertion, and in twenty minutes, with rigging refitted, she went about
and with every gun reloaded stood down once more towards the enemy.
Though the latter had hitherto fought with the greatest courage, yet no
sooner did the _Triton_ come within range than the proud flag of Spain
was hauled down.  A cheer, such as British sailors alone can give, burst
from the victorious crew.

Headland and Harry were sent on board with the only boat that could
swim, to take possession.

The brave Spanish captain delivered up his sword with a dignified bow,
and Headland, complimenting him on his gallantry, requested him at once
to go on board the _Triton_.  That he had not yielded till the last
moment was evident, for the booms having fallen down had disabled all
the waist guns of the frigate, and fully thirty men lay on the decks,
while an equal number were found wounded in the cockpit, many of them
mortally.

Not a moment was to be lost, and as soon as two other boats could be
patched up, more of the _Triton's_ crew were sent on board to repair the
damages the prize had received.

She proved to be the _Mahonesa_, and her brave captain, Don Tomas
Ayaldi.

"Well, we have done something now at all events," said Harry to
Headland, as the severed shrouds and running rigging of the prize having
been repaired and sail made she and her captor were steering for
Gibraltar.

The _Triton_ remained sometime at Gibraltar to refit.

After another cruise up the Mediterranean, where she did good service,
and fought an action not inferior to the first, when she captured her
antagonist, she was ordered home.  On her way she looked into Lisbon,
and Headland, who received his commission as lieutenant, was put in
charge of their first prize, with Harry as his second in command, and
another midshipman and thirty men to carry her home.

They reached Plymouth in safety, and when the _Triton_ was paid off,
Captain Fancourt being soon afterwards appointed to a ship in commission
in which there were no vacancies, Harry and his friend were separated.
They were employed for nearly three years on different stations and saw
much service, both obtaining their promotion, while Headland, by several
gallant acts, gained the credit he so eagerly sought for.

During the time, being then lieutenants, Harry belonging to the _Naiad_
frigate, and Headland to the _Alembic_, they had the good fortune to
capture two Spanish frigates, the _Thetis_ and _Santa Brigida_, laden
with specie to the value of upwards of 300,000 pounds sterling.  Though
two other frigates joined in the chase, each of the lieutenants of the
four ships obtained 5000 as their share of prize money, while the four
captains received upwards of 40,000 pounds a-piece.

"If you ever have to establish your claims, you will now have the means
of doing so," observed Harry to his friend when they arrived at
Plymouth.  "And remember my share shall be at your service."

"I am very sure you will help me to the last penny you possess if I
should require money," answered Headland.  "But I have long given up all
hopes of success, and really now think very little about the matter.  I
am not ambitious of wealth, and when the piping times of peace come
round, and I am sent on shore to shift for myself, I shall have saved
enough to live on in comfort and respectability."

"What, with a wife!" asked Harry.  "She may not be satisfied with what
you consider a competency."

"I have not thought about marrying," answered Headland, laughing, "and I
do not suppose any lady I should like would accept an unknown adventurer
such as I should be considered," he added, and a shade came over his
countenance showing that he felt his position more than he was willing
to acknowledge.

"Adventurer! nonsense; no one has a right so to call a naval officer who
has already made a name for himself, and will make a greater some day or
other," answered Harry.  "Don't let such an idea take possession of your
mind.  There are dozens of girls who would accept you gladly for
yourself, and perhaps be better pleased to find that they had not
married a whole tribe of relations, sisters and aunt, who might
interfere with their domestic arrangements.  Depend on it if every
lieutenant and ward-room officer of our four fortunate frigates were to
go on shore at once, we could each of us be married within a fortnight."

"Very likely," answered Headland.  "But the ladies would take us for our
prize money not for ourselves, and I should not wish to have a wife on
those terms."

"Nor should I, indeed; when I was last on shore during the London
season, and went out with my mother and sister, I saw enough of
fashionable society to make me resolve whenever I might take it into my
head to look out for a wife, not to seek for her in such an atmosphere.
I saw numbers of pretty girls, I confess, and, I daresay, some of them
possessed sterling qualities.  If I particularly admired any one fair
lady, on discovering that I was only a midshipman, she was sure to
freeze me up the next time I met her."

"Had she found that you were a lieutenant with a share of the _Santa
Brigida's_ treasure, she might have looked more affectionately on you,"
said Headland, laughing.

"Exactly; but I should not, as you were remarking, have been flattered
had I been aware of the motive which prompted her feelings."

"So it seems that we are perfectly agreed," said Headland, "and the less
we think about the matter till the time comes the better.  At all events
I intend never to entertain any thoughts of marrying unless I find some
one who, rising above ordinary prejudices, is ready to link her fate
with mine, regardless of my unknown birth and name."  See there are the
waggons to carry off our treasure.

As he spoke, he pointed to a large number of artillery waggons which had
driven into the dockyard, close to which the prizes had been hauled.

Two days were employed in landing the rich cargoes, which were escorted
by horse and foot soldiers, and armed seamen and marines, and
accompanied by bands of music and an immense concourse of people, to the
Citadel of Plymouth, in the vaults of which the treasure remained till
it was removed to London, and finally deposited in the Bank of England.

A similar scene occurred at different times when treasure ships were
taken.

On one occasion an English captain sailed into port with huge silver
candlesticks at his mastheads, and ordinary seamen found themselves
possessed of two or three hundred guineas prize money, frequently
squandered before many weeks were over; while the officers obtained a
proportionate share of wealth.  Few, perhaps, thought of the suffering
and injustice endured by the owners when gold was captured which
belonged to private individuals, and though in some instances when such
was the case it was returned, yet in many others non-combatants lost
their lives and their property at the same time.

Harry and Headland were among the fortunate officers who, having many
opportunities of distinguishing themselves, gained wealth and honour
together.

At length the great victory of the Nile, in which Headland took a part
was won, Napoleon's armies had been defeated in Syria and Egypt,
Copenhagen had been bombarded, and the treaty of Amiens, speedily again
to be broken, had been signed.

The ships in which the two lieutenants served came to an anchor at
Spithead, within a few days of each other.

Harry went on board the frigate in which Headland was serving as first
lieutenant.

"You are sure of your promotion, Headland," he said after their greeting
was over.  "I have just got a letter from my uncle telling me your name
is on the list.  You deserve a spell on shore.  We are to go into
harbour to be paid off to-morrow, and as soon as I am free you must
start with me for Texford, where my family are now residing.  Captain
Fancourt has already spoken to them of you, and you will receive a
hearty welcome.  No excuses, old fellow, you will be Captain Headland by
that time, and that alone will be sufficient introduction to any family
in the land."

Headland hesitated.  He thought of making a tour round England, and
perhaps going over to France, to have a look at the country from which
Englishmen had so long been excluded, but Harry overcame all objections,
and Headland agreed should he not be appointed to a command, which was
not very likely, to accompany his friend to Texford.



CHAPTER SEVENTEEN.

SECOND PERIOD OF MAIDEN MAY'S HISTORY.

Time went on, and nothing occurred to interrupt the even tenor of the
Miss Pembertons' well-spent lives.  They never wearied in their efforts
to benefit the bodies and souls of their poorer neighbours, and if some
were ungrateful, many blessed them for the words they spoke, and the
kind acts they performed.  Their young pupil, in winter and summer, rain
and sunshine, continued to come to them every day.  She never wished for
a holiday, and it would have been a trial to her to have had to keep
away from Downside.  Though she was as loving as ever to those at home,
she was able to bestow an equal amount of affection on the ladies who
devoted themselves to her instruction.

She was now no longer the little fisher maiden she had appeared in
former years; but the charms of her mind and person having gradually
been developed, though she herself was scarcely aware of the change, she
had become a truly lovely girl already entering womanhood.

Adam had lost none of the affection he had from the first felt for the
child, whose life he had saved.  He could no longer, however, properly
call her his little Maiden May, for she had become a full-grown damsel,
full of life and spirits; and if, conscious that she was not his
daughter, she did not bestow on him all of a daughter's affection, she
yet treated him with respect, and so lovingly and kindly, that he had no
cause to complain.  Her tastes were refined, and her intellect expanding
as she advanced in knowledge, she could not help seeing the space
gradually widening between herself and her foster-parents and their
sons.  Yet, with tact and right feeling, she had contrived not to let
the young men feel how fully alive she was to the difference between
them.  They, however, gradually became aware of it, and treated her with
that deference which they considered to be her due, as superior to
themselves.  To the elder ones this was easy, but it caused Jacob no
small exercise of self restraint not to behave towards Maiden May as he
had been accustomed to do, when under his charge she was allowed to go
blackberrying, or to wander along the shore picking up shells.

May's dress, though plain and simple in the extreme, was such as was
suited for the companion of the well-born Miss Pemberton's, and she had
entwined herself so completely round their hearts that they regarded her
in the light of a beloved niece.  She had now for sometime resided
entirely with them.  She, however, paid frequent visits to her kind
foster father and mother, as she now called Adam and his wife.

It had been a hard struggle to Dame Halliburt and her husband to part
with her, but they saw clearly that it would be for her benefit, and
that their cottage was not a fit abode for a young girl destined to
occupy a higher rank than their own.  Even they felt that there was
already a broad line between them, and the dame, not having forgotten
her own training in a gentleman's family, could not help treating May
with much more deference than she would have shown to her had she been
really her daughter.

May herself, conscious of the change in the dame's manner, could
scarcely tell why she had become so much more formal than she used to
be, though she had too much confidence in the kind woman's love to
suppose that it arose from any want of affection.  Adam was, however, as
hearty as ever, but then he had for long treated her with a certain
amount of respect, moderating that exhibition of his affection his big
warm heart would have inclined him to bestow.  He still generally called
her his Maiden May, but sometimes addressed her as Mistress May, and
seldom offered to press the hearty kiss on her fair brow with which he
had been accustomed to greet her after a day's absence.

Adam and the dame had undergone severe trials during the last years,
though they bore up under them with christian fortitude and resignation.
Their second son Sam had been crossed in love, and as a consequence
went off to sea on board a man-of-war.  He was a steady well-conducted
young man.  He had become a petty officer, and there was every prospect
of his doing well.

A short time after Sam had gone to sea Ben, who was his father's
main-stay, had on one occasion gone to Morbury, just at the time when
press-gangs were hard at work along the coast, laying hands on every
seafaring person, whether willing or unwilling, to man the fleet.  Ben,
not suspecting danger, was walking along the quay, when a party of
seamen rushed out of a public-house and surrounded him.  Though he
endeavoured to make his escape, he was quickly overpowered, and being
dragged into a boat, was carried on board a cutter outside the harbour.
As many other brave fellows acted when he found his fate inevitable, he
submitted with a good grace, and determined to do his duty.

He did not return, and for several days Adam could gain no tidings of
his son, though he suspected what had occurred.  At length he received a
letter from Ben saying that he had been seized by a pressgang, and that
he was on board a frigate destined for the East India station.  Adam
went to Mr Shallard with a message from the Miss Pemberton's saying
they would be answerable for any sum required to obtain Ben's discharge,
but the lawyer feared that so urgent was the need of men for the navy
that success was improbable.  He did his best, but before any effort
could be made to obtain his discharge, the frigate sailed, carrying Ben
as one of her crew.

Thus Adam was deprived of the services of his two elder sons.  Still he
hoped that they would some day return, and be again able to assist him
on board the _Nancy_.

A still greater blow, however, was in store for him and his wife.  News
came that the ship on board which Sam was serving had been engaged in
action, and as they anxiously read the account of the battle, their eyes
fell on his name in the list of killed.

"God's will be done!  Poor Sam," exclaimed Adam, with a deep groan.

The dame expressed her grief in a louder manner, but honest Adam's was
the deepest.

May did her utmost to comfort her foster-parents, showing all the
sympathy for their sorrow which her gentle heart prompted her to
express.  Day after day she came to see them, sometimes accompanied by
Miss Jane, who, although she urged arguments innumerable to prove that
excessive grief was wrong, failed to convince them of the truth of her
assertions.  Their perfect confidence in God's love and justice,
however, brought resignation to their hearts, and they recovered in time
their usual spirits.  The dame became once more as active and loquacious
as ever, and Adam went through his daily labours with his ordinary
industry and perseverance.

Adam Halliburt, who had been out fishing all night, had just risen from
his noonday rest, when the dame returned from her usual round.

"Sad news from the Hall, Adam," she said, putting aside her basket.

"Old Sir Reginald has gone at last.  Poor dear gentleman, he will be
missed by many around.  I met Mr Groocock, who had been over to Morbury
to arrange about the funeral with Mr Shallard, who was Sir Reginald's
lawyer you know.  He pulled up just to have a talk for a minute, though
he was in a great hurry to get back.  Sir Reginald had sent, when he
found himself getting worse, for his nephew, Mr Ralph, his nearest of
kin in England, whom he seemed to have a great desire to see again.  Mr
Ralph, however, could not set off at once, and when he arrived at
Texford, his uncle was no more.  It seems a question whether he is now
Sir Ralph or not.  Mr Ranald has not been heard of for eight or nine
years or more, though his brother and old Sir Reginald have been making
all the inquiries they could.  Mr Groocock says that Mr Shallard
always speaks to Mr Ralph as Sir Ralph, and says he has no doubt
whatever that his brother is dead, and that he is the heir.  He himself
seems to think so, and as Mr Groocock said to me, for his part he is
ready to serve whoever has possession as faithfully as he did his old
master, and if Mr Ranald is dead, and has left no sons, his younger
brother must be Sir Ralph.  At all events, Sir Ralph considers himself,
and as such has taken possession, and gives orders as if he were,
without doubt, the owner of Texford.  There will be a great change there
shortly, for he has already let Mr Groocock understand that his lady,
and daughter, and eldest son, will be coming down soon, and Mr Harry is
expected home before long.  If he is like what he was when he was here
last, he will keep the house alive.  I remember hearing that Mrs
Castleton, or we must call her Lady Castleton now, was a very nice kind
lady, and so, though many will be sorry that Sir Reginald has gone,
there will be others who will think that the change is for the better.
Mr Groocock, however, has his own opinion.  I would not say anything
against Sir Ralph for the world, but I remember that he was a somewhat
proud and haughty young gentleman, and though he was quiet and grave
enough in his manner, he was hot-tempered too, and could carry things
with a high hand sometimes."

"Well, well," said Adam, "Sir Reginald had nigh reached four score years
and ten, and that's a fair age.  He was a kind, good man, and will be
missed by many; but we will hope that Sir Ralph may be like him, and
it's our duty to think as well of our betters as we can.  I should like
to see Master Harry again, for I mind the brave way he saved our Maiden
May from the bull, and how he spoke to you so kindly and modest-like
afterwards, as if he had just done nothing out of the way.  I blessed
him then, and I bless him now, and every time I hear his name, for what
would have happened to her, young as she was then, without knowing how
to save herself, it's more than I like to think of."

Sir Ralph, no one appearing to dispute his title, took possession of
Texford.



CHAPTER EIGHTEEN.

A VISIT.

A longer time than usual had passed since Maiden May had paid a visit to
the cottage of her foster-parents.

Adam and the dame were seated in their usual places by the fire, the
dame, never idle, busily employed in mending one of her son's garments.

"You or I, mother, must go up this evening and inquire for our May,"
said Adam, knocking the ashes out of his pipe.  "She would never stay
away from us so long of her own free-will; and either one of the ladies
must have been taken ill, and they cannot spare her, or she herself may
be ailing."

"I pray heaven nothing has happened to her," replied the dame.  "I will
just finish off Jacob's coat and then go up myself.  If she is ill I
must ask the ladies' leave to stay with her.  I would sleep on the bare
floor by her side rather than not be with her, sweet dear."

"Yes, do," said Adam in an anxious tone.  "The Miss Pembertons will be
glad to have you, mother, for there is no one--not even they
themselves--can know better how to tend her than you."

Just as Adam had finished speaking the latch was lifted, and a
sweet-looking young girl entered the cottage.  Her complexion was
beautifully fair and glowing with health, her features delicately
chiselled.  A bright smile beamed from her blue eyes, while her figure
was light and graceful, and though her dress was simple, there was that
air of elegance and refinement about her rarely seen in so humble an
abode.

The dame hurried across the room to fold her in her arms, while Adam put
out both his hands to take hers, which she stretched forwards towards
him.  He bestowed a kiss, half reverential, half paternal, on her brow.

Her appearance, for it was Maiden May herself who entered, banished all
their fears about her health.

"It does my heart good to see thee, my own Maiden May," he said, gazing
at her affectionately, and placing a chair for her by the side of his
own.  "We almost thought that thee had forgotten us.  And yet, no, no--
we knew thee would'st not have done that; but what kept thee away, my
dear?"

"Miss Mary has been unwell, and required constant attention," answered
May; "and Miss Jane has been at Texford to see poor Sir Reginald.  You
probably have heard that he is dead."

"Yes, mother has just brought the news," said Adam.  "He will be a great
loss to many."

"Yes, indeed he will," said May, "especially to my kind friends.  I fear
that Sir Ralph will ill supply his place.  Miss Jane, who waited to
receive him, has come back much hurt at the way he behaved to her.  He
looks upon them as gloomy Methodists, and inclined to censure his
worldliness, and he partly hinted that they must no longer come to
Texford as they had been accustomed to do in Sir Reginald's time, unless
with an especial invitation.  I am truly sorry for it, as Miss Jane used
to enjoy her visits there; and though, now Sir Reginald has gone, it
will be very different, yet she thought she should like Lady Castleton
and her daughter Miss Julia, and her sons, especially Mr Harry, who
greatly took her fancy when he was there before.  She tells me he is the
young gentleman who saved me from being tossed by the bull when I was a
little girl, and so kindly brought me back to you, mother.  I remember
the circumstance, though I have but a dim recollection of him, except
that he was very good-natured and laughed, and told me I was a little
heroine, though at the time I confess I did not know what he meant.  I
only remember that I was dreadfully frightened, and very grateful to him
for saving me."

"Ah, yes, good reason too we had to be thankful to him, for it would
have broken our hearts if any harm had come to our Maiden May," observed
Adam, looking affectionately at the young girl.  "But I am main sorry to
hear what you say about Sir Ralph."

"Miss Mary thinks, however, that perhaps Miss Jane, who was in much
grief at Sir Reginald's death, might have spoken more seriously to Sir
Ralph than he liked.  You know she does occasionally say things with
which worldly people are not pleased, and perhaps that put him out of
humour.  She, however, asserts that she ought not to be ashamed of her
principles, and that she merely reminded Sir Ralph that he was but a
life tenant of Texford--that the time would come when he too would lie,
as Sir Reginald does now, on the bed of death, and his body be carried
to the family vault, while his soul has to stand before the Judge of all
things, and give an account of his stewardship while here below.  Miss
Mary observed that, although what Miss Jane had said was very right and
true, she might not possibly have taken the proper time for making her
remarks, and that, perhaps, had they come from a clergyman, he would
have received them in a different spirit.

"Miss Jane replied that she was sure, in the first place, that the
clergyman would not make them, and felt that the time might pass when
they could be made at all, if she did not, while, as she supposed, he
was grieving for the death of his excellent uncle.  Miss Jane, however,
confessed that she had made a mistake in supposing that his heart was in
any way touched with sorrow; but, on the contrary, she feared that he
felt nothing but satisfaction at becoming the possessor of Texford, and
was annoyed at being reminded of the uncertainty of human life.

"But I ought not, perhaps, to repeat, even to you, dear mother and
father, what my kind friends say; only, in this instance, I am sure they
would not object to my doing so."

"It's safer not to repeat what we hear, there is no doubt about that,"
observed the dame.  "But, you know, what you say to us never goes to
other ears.  Now, to my mind, Miss Mary is right.  Miss Jane can say
strong things when she thinks it is her duty to say them, and people do
not always take them in the same spirit they are spoken.  I hope when my
lady and Miss Julia come things will be put to rights, and that the Miss
Pembertons will not be shut out of Texford more than they like."

"For their sakes I hope, at all events, they may be on friendly terms
with their relatives," said May.  "However, Miss Mary has no wish to
leave home even for a day, and I always enjoy being in her company
alone, and attending to her.  I can never feel weary in trying to repay
the kindness she has shown me.  She has taught me much of what I know,
even more than her sister has, and her memory is so retentive that she
can talk over the books we have read together, and remind me often of
portions which I have forgotten."

"Ah, she is a dear lady; it's a wonder she knows so much, and no eyes to
see with," observed the dame.  "She may not be so wonderful a woman as
her sister is, who can talk every bit as cleverly, if not better, than
Mr Simms, the apothecary, and it's my belief she could bleed as well if
she thought fit, though she says she sees no reason to take honest blood
out of people's bodies, but that a little sulphur and milk in the spring
and the fall will answer the purpose as well."

The dame was enlarging still further on Miss Jane's medical knowledge,
when May, turning her head, saw Jacob, who had entered, and was standing
watching her at a distance, and unwilling, it seemed, to be observed.  A
blush rose to his cheeks when he found that he had been discovered.

"I promised not to be long away, and I ought to be on my road back
again," she said.  "So good-bye, mother; good-bye, father."

May put out her hand to Jacob, who pressed it in his own rough palm,
casting a look at her, in which reverence was mingled with affection.
Not noticing his glance she tripped lightly away.

He followed from the cottage, keeping, however, at some distance behind,
till he had seen her enter the gate of Downside Cottage.

"What can have come over our Jacob," said the dame, after he had gone.

"He looks of late as if he was afraid of our Maiden May, instead of
being friendly with her, as he used to be.  I suppose, as she seems a
fine young lady, that it would not become him, a poor fisher-lad, to be
talking to her as he did when she was a little girl," observed Adam.
"To be sure he does sometimes look curious, and often forgets things I
tell him; however, he is as good a lad as ever, so I will say nothing
agen him."

Neither his father or mother knew the true cause of poor Jacob's changed
manner.



CHAPTER NINETEEN.

THE NEW SQUIRE.

Mr Reginald's funeral took place, and was conducted with the pomp usual
in those days when a county magnate was carried to his final
resting-place.  Sir Ralph and his eldest son attended as chief mourners,
and the heads of all the county families, from far and near, either came
in person or sent representatives to pay their last tokens of respect to
one who had been held in honour among them.  The tenantry of the Texford
property followed on horseback or foot.

For many years so large a gathering had not been seen in that part of
the country.  Even the boatmen and fishermen from the neighbouring
coast, among whom were Adam Halliburt and his sons, managed to get on
shore in time to join the cortege, walking two and two, with the flags
of their boats furled round the staff carried at the head of each party.
There were several real mourners in the crowd.  One of the most sincere
probably was Mr Groocock.  He had lost a kind and indulgent master, who
had ever placed confidence in his honesty of purpose, and he had reason
to doubt whether the new lord of Texford would treat him in the same
way.

As the assembly gathered round the family tomb of the Castletons, Mr
Groocock, happening to look up, observed among the crowd, standing
directly opposite where the chief mourners were collected, a dark
bearded man, whose eye was fixed on Sir Ralph, his countenance
exhibiting a peculiarly evil expression.

"That man comes here for no good," thought the steward.  "He had no love
for Sir Reginald, and he is not one who would put himself out of his way
for an object which could be of no advantage to him.  Still he has not
come without an object, of that I am very certain."

The minister had uttered the last solemn words, "earth to earth, dust to
dust, ashes to ashes," and the burial service was concluded.  Those who
felt disposed to do so moved down into the vault to take a last look at
Sir Reginald's coffin ere the tomb was closed till another occupant
might claim admission.  Mr Groocock had been among the first to
descend, and remained unwilling to quit the spot.  As he stood there he
saw the man he had observed among the crowd enter the vault just as the
last of the other visitors had left.  He did not appear to cast a glance
even at Sir Reginald's coffin, but he was seen to stop before three
others on the opposite side, not aware apparently that anyone else
remained in the vault.  The steward could not see his features, but the
working of his shoulders showed that he was agitated by some strong
feeling.  A groan escaped his bosom.

"I will have vengeance on your murderer," he muttered.

Suddenly turning round as if by a powerful effort, he hastened out of
the vault.

"This is strange," thought the steward, "what can have made him say
that."

He was alone.

"Good-bye, dear master," he said in a sobbing voice.  "I shall not meet
your like on earth, but I hope to see you in heaven when my time comes."

Before he left the vault he turned to examine the coffins at which the
stranger had been gazing.  Above one of them was the name of "Ellen
Castleton, aged 18."

"I cannot make it out," muttered the worthy steward; "it's strange,
passing strange," and his thoughts thus set to work, went back to years
and events he had well-nigh forgotten.

The funeral guests were dispersing with the exception of those of higher
position, who had been invited by the young baronet to partake of a
breakfast provided at the hall.

As Adam and his party were making their way back to Hurlston, Miles
Gaffin, mounted on the powerful horse he usually rode, galloped by
apparently not observing the suspicious glances which were cast at him
as he passed.

"The miller looks as if the foul fiend had got possession of him,"
observed one of the men.  "They say he has had dealings with him for
long past."

"Ay, ay, if it hadn't been for that he would have been in limbo before
now for some of the things he has done in his time," observed another.
"To my mind, mates, Satan lets them go on in their own way without ever
showing himself to them; and as to helping them out of danger, depend on
it he would leave them to perish soon enough if he had the power over
them," observed Adam.  "There is another more powerful than him who
looks after human beings; and not one of us, good or bad, can leave this
world without He thinks fit.  Its only when He knows that the cup of
their iniquities is full that He allows even the worst to perish."

Sir Ralph remained some time at Texford after his uncle's death, giving
directions for certain repairs and alterations which he wished to have
executed immediately.

Sir Ralph had summoned Mr Groocock to the library, a fine old
wainscotted room, with bookcases against two of the walls, while over
and on either side of the fireplace were hung family portraits.  Sir
Reginald was there, occupying the centre position, with those of his
younger brother, Mr Herbert Castleton, with his wife and their two
children, the long lost Ranald, and their daughter Ellen, hers executed
when she had just reached her sixteenth summer, and Ranald when he was
about nineteen.  The features of Ellen fully bore out the description
which Dame Halliburt had given of her beauty.

Sir Ralph was seated with his legs crossed and his arm resting on the
table when the steward entered.  Sir Reginald would have desired him to
sit down and welcomed him with a kind smile, and enquired after his
health.  Sir Ralph allowed the old man to stand before him while he
issued his directions.

The house was to be freshly painted, and the furniture for some of the
best rooms sent down from London.

"I purpose making Texford my summer and winter residence when my
political duties do not require my attendance in London," he observed to
Mr Groocock.

Sir Ralph had sat in parliament for a close borough for the last three
years, and he had let it be known that he intended to stand for the
county at the next general election.

"Hurry on with the work, Mr Groocock, for Lady Castleton wishes to come
down as soon as possible."

The steward promised to see that his master's orders were executed to
the best of his ability.

"But you see, Sir Ralph," he observed, "workmen are often dilatory, and
we cannot always depend upon their doing what they promise."

"They will do the work if you keep a watchful eye on them, Mr
Groocock," answered the baronet.  "I am not accustomed to have
difficulties raised when I give orders.  My late uncle has been somewhat
over-indulgent, I suspect.  You will get all the rent paid up and
proceed against defaulters, according to the power the law affords you.
I desire to have no injustice done to anyone, but I suspect that the
rents of several of the tenants ought to be raised.  You will give them
notice that they must expect it."

"I will act as you desire, Sir Ralph, but I venture to observe that it
may be a hardship to some of them if we act according to the strict
letter of the law.  The tenant may, from unforeseen circumstances, have
got into difficulties, or he may have expended a considerable amount on
his farm, and thus increased its value, or he may have a large family,
and find it a hard matter to make the two ends meet, or he himself, or
his wife or children, may have been suffering from sickness.  In such
cases Sir Reginald was wont to give me discretionary power, and was
always more inclined to lower than raise the rent of a farm."

"I do not consider myself bound to be guided by what my uncle, an old
bachelor without ambition or any other aim in life beyond enjoying
existence, might have thought fit to do," answered Sir Ralph in an angry
tone.  "You will see that my directions are carried out."

Mr Groocock bowed, and tried to suppress the sigh which he found rising
from his bosom.

"If Sir Ralph wishes to stand for the county he will find his object
defeated by these proceedings.  My dear old master would have grieved if
he had known the changes likely to be made, but I must obey orders--I
must obey orders," he thought to himself.

Having received his final directions, Mr Groocock bowed and retired
from the room.

Sir Ralph went back to London.  The steward felt relieved at his
absence, though he had many unpleasant duties to perform.

He spoke in consequence of the directions he had received to the
tenants, and naturally tried to exonerate himself from the suspicion
that he had advised the proceedings he was compelled to carry out, yet
he gained more ill-will than he had ever before experienced since he
became steward of Texford.  The miller of Hurlston, whose rent had been,
however, very small, was among the most indignant at receiving notice
that it was to be raised considerably should he wish to renew the lease
as he had the option of doing.  He rode over to Texford to expostulate.

"Very well, Mr Gaffin, you can give up the mill if you wish," observed
the steward, who would have been glad to get rid of a person whose
character he had reason to suspect was none of the best.

"That may not be convenient, and it is very hard to have the rent raised
on me after I have been working for years to bring a trade to the mill,"
answered the miller.  "I'll not give it up, however, and you can tell
your master that I'll pay the rent he demands."

His eye kindled as he spoke, and a dark frown gathered on his brow,
adding, in a low fierce mutter as he left the steward's room, "and with
interest too, such as he does not expect."  Mr Groocock, however, did
not catch the words, and believing the matter settled was glad to get
rid of his surly visitor.

The house was at length got ready.  Lady Castleton and her daughter
Julia, with Madame De La Motte, who had now become rather her companion
than governess, arrived, and were shortly after joined by Algernon.  He
had sometime before left college, where he had taken high honours, and
was looked upon as a young man likely to rise in the world.  He was,
however, very delicate, and hard study had contributed to make him
somewhat of an invalid.  As his mother observed his spare figure and the
hectic flush on his pale cheeks, she could not help at times fearing
that he would be but little able to go through the career for which his
ambitious father destined him.

"He must get into parliament as soon as possible, and in a few years I
hope we shall see him a Minister of State," Sir Ralph had observed to
her as she was setting out from London.

He himself, however, had little wish to commence the career his father
proposed.

"At present, at all events, let me enjoy Texford, and yours and Julia's
society, mother, and when my father vacates his seat for Mumbleton it
will be time enough for me to decide whether or not I wish to occupy
it," he said to Lady Castleton when she spoke to him of his father's
wish.

When Sir Ralph arrived he did not appear to remark how ill his son
looked; he was so occupied with politics and his various projects that
he troubled himself about little else.  When his wife tried to draw his
attention to Algernon his only reply was--

"Yes, he reminds me very much of myself when I was of the same age that
he is.  I was slight and tall, and I suspect that my cheeks were paler
than his, although I was accustomed to more exercise than he indulges
in, and was fonder of riding and field sports.  If he would take to
hunting and shooting he would soon get round, and be well able to go
through a political campaign in London."

The time of mourning for the old baronet was over.  Several guests had
arrived, others had been invited, and whatever some of the tenants might
have thought of the exactions, as they considered them, which the new
baronet had imposed, there appeared every probability that Texford would
become a far more lively and sociable mansion than it had been during
the latter years of Sir Reginald's life.



CHAPTER TWENTY.

YOUNG MILES GAFFIN.

Sir Ralph and his family had been for some time settled at Texford, when
the dame brought the news, gained from her usual source of information,
Mr Groocock, that Mr Harry with another officer were daily expected at
the hall.

"Mr Groocock says that Mr Harry has done all sorts of brave things,
and that he will be captain himself before long," observed the dame to
her husband and May, who had just then come in from Downside to pay her
a visit.  "It seems but the other day that he was a young midshipman,
and now to think that he is old enough to be captain of a big ship,
though he cannot be _very_ old either."

"I have known captains of nineteen," observed Adam; "and though they had
not much experience, when it came to real work they did it as well as
their elders and better than many.  It's not so much what age a man is
as what is in him, and that will show itself even though he has not got
a hair on his lip."

"Mr Groocock says there are to be grand doings at the hall in honour of
Mr Harry's return from sea," continued the dame.  "All the tenantry are
to be invited, and the labourers and tradesmen and workpeople from
Morbury, and the fishermen too from Hurlston; and he made me promise to
come and to bring my daughter, for he always calls you my daughter, May,
and seems to forget what I once told him, for I am sure I did tell him
all about you, though in truth you are my daughter, if a mother's love
can make you one."

"I trust that I always shall enjoy that love," said May, taking the
dame's hand.  "I think I should like to go with you to Texford if the
ladies do not object, for they certainly will not go.  Miss Mary would
not like the crowd, which I suppose there will be, and indeed it is
possible that they may not quite approve of such proceedings; besides
which, Sir Ralph and Lady Castleton have never asked them to the hall
since they took possession, though her ladyship once called at Downside
and left her card, but when Miss Jane returned the visit she was not
admitted, and has not felt disposed to call again."

"But the ladies must remember Mr Harry, as they were staying with Sir
Reginald when he was last there, and Mr Groocock says that he was as
great a favourite with them as he was with everybody, so perhaps for the
sake of seeing him, if they are asked, they may be persuaded to go,"
remarked the dame.

"Not if they consider it wrong to give such a fete," answered May.  "I
am uncertain of the opinion they will form.  I cannot myself think it
wrong to afford amusement to a number of people from whom they cannot
expect to receive the slightest benefit in return."

"Well, if you don't go with the ladies, May, I hope you will come with
me.  I should have little pleasure by myself; if I was to see you liking
it I should be pleased also.  You need not go and dance in the crowd.  I
should not wish to see you do that, even if you were really my daughter;
but as you are a young lady, and there is no doubt about that, it would
not be proper for you to mix with any but young ladies, and that,
perhaps as you would not know any of those present, you would not wish
to do."

"No, indeed," answered May.  "It is strange that I should never in my
life have spoken to a young lady, and I have no notion, except from the
descriptions given in Miss Burney's novels, of the way young ladies in
general behave, or speak, or think.  I should be terribly afraid of them
if they are like some of the heroines whose histories I have met with in
`Evelina and Cecilia,' which I have read to Miss Mary, and in a new
story she has lately had sent to her, called `Camilla,' but I have not
finished it yet."

"I don't know what sort of young ladies are put into books; but you need
not be at all afraid of anyone, May, I am sure of that," observed the
dame.  "I have known several young ladies in my time.  There was poor
Miss Ellen Castleton, and three very nice girls who all married well at
another house where I was in service, and they could not have held a
candle to you, that they couldn't; but I must not say that for fear of
making you vain, my dear.  Just do you feel what is true, that you are
equal to any of them and that will make you comfortable and at home.
However, as Mr Harry has not come home and the day is not yet fixed,
there will be time to talk about it; only if the ladies say anything
just tell them that I should be so much obliged if they would let you
go, and that I will take good care of you, and you shall come to no harm
or do anything they won't like."

May gladly promised, for she felt curious to see Texford, since she had
only a very faint recollection of the place.

As evening was approaching she wished her foster-parents good-bye.  Just
as she left the house Jacob came up from the boat.  She greeted him in
her usual unaffected way, but he seemed even less at his ease than he
had been of late when he met her.

"Brother Jacob," said May, "I am so glad you are come.  I wanted to ask
you to collect me some shells, as many as you can find time to gather;
not all winkles and cockles, remember, but as great a variety as
possible.  The ladies have a fancy for making a grotto in the garden,
and I have undertaken to adorn the inside with shapes of all sorts of
strange creatures to be formed with the shells.  They will, I am sure,
gladly pay you for your trouble, and I shall be much obliged to you if
you can get them as soon as possible."

"If it's to please you, Miss May, I will do it with all my heart, and I
want no payment," answered Jacob, his strong manly voice trembling more
than he was aware of.  Jacob was now a fine specimen of a stout young
sailor.

"What has come over you, Jacob?" exclaimed May, with a look of surprise,
yet laughing as she spoke.  "I never heard you call me Miss May before.
I hope you are not offended at my saying that the ladies would pay you;
they would not think it fair to employ your time without some
recompense."

"But if it's for you, I want no pay, and cannot take it," said Jacob,
his voice softening as he spoke.  "I will get the shells, that I will
gladly, as many basketfuls as you may want; only tell me when I bring
them if there are not enough, and I will get more."

"Thank you, Jacob, I am sure you will," said May, and without further
noticing his peculiar manner she tripped lightly away on her homeward
road.

Jacob stood gazing at her with his hand on the door till she was out of
sight.  He then, instead of entering the cottage as he had previously
intended, made his way in the direction she had gone.

May continued her walk towards Downside.  Having stopped at the cottage
of an old woman (one of the many the Miss Pembertons were in the habit
of visiting) to enquire whether she had got over her last attack of
rheumatics, May, as she turned round, caught sight of Jacob in the
distance.  It was not the first time she had discovered him following
her, but she knew him too well not to believe that he had some good
motive for so doing.

"Mother has not got over her fear of that man Miles Gaffin, and sends
Jacob to watch that he does not run off with me, as she used to fancy he
would do when I was a little girl," she said to herself.

The old dame assured her that she was much better for the stuff Miss
Jane had sent, when May, as she wished her good-bye, looked back once
more, but Jacob had disappeared.  She therefore continued her walk,
taking little further thought of him.  Once, however, as she happened to
turn her head for a moment, she fancied that she saw him, but he again
disappeared round a corner.

She was still some way from Downside when, on a part of the road where
there were no cottages in sight, she observed a young man leaning
against a gate at some little distance in front.  He was dressed in the
fashionable costume of the day--a green riding coat and top-boots, with
a huge frill to his shirt, while his hat was set rakishly on one side.
Though his features were not bad his countenance had a coarse unpleasant
expression, and notwithstanding the dress he wore his appearance was not
that of a gentleman.

On seeing May he started forward and advanced towards her.  Making her a
bow as he approached, he said--

"Highly pleased, Miss, to meet you.  I have been on the look-out for the
last two hours.  I thought you were not coming."

May did not reply, but moved on.

The young buck, however, was not to be daunted.

"Saw you at church last Sunday, and thought you had seen me; but I
suppose you were attending to the parson, or your eyes were on the
prayer-book."

May, wondering who this intruder could be, and beginning to feel
excessively annoyed at his impertinence, walked on as fast as she could.

As he spoke of having seen her at church, she recollected remarking in a
pew at some distance a youth who appeared to be staring at her.

"I fancy you must be under some mistake in addressing me," she said at
last.  "I am residing with the Miss Pembertons, and wish to have no
acquaintances unless introduced to me by them."

"No, Miss, I do assure you that I am under no mistake whatever,"
answered the youth, in a tone of assurance.  "I have not the honour of
being acquainted with the old ladies, but I have great respect for them
on account of the care they take of you.  They are not likely to be
acquainted with a young buck like me, though they cannot object to your
being so, and I would only ask you to give me the favour of seeing you
safe home."

"Thank you, sir, I am very well acquainted with the road and require no
one to accompany me," said Mary, assuming as composed and dignified an
air as she could put on.  She, however, unaccustomed to assume any
manner besides her own natural one, did not succeed much to her
satisfaction.  Her annoyance was greatly increased when, notwithstanding
her remarks, the youth persevered in walking by her side.  She now began
to regret that she had not invited Jacob to accompany her, for she was
very sure that no one would have ventured to have spoken to her thus had
he been her attendant.  She instinctively looked round in the hopes that
he might still be following, but she could not see him.  She therefore
went on, trusting that her silence would induce the impertinent stranger
to allow her to proceed alone.

"Ah, Miss, though you don't seem to know me I have known you for all
your life nearly.  I am young Miles Gaffin, and I remember when you were
a little girl living with old Halliburt and his wife, and I often saw
you when I came home for the holidays, though I have been now long away
from Hurlston studying the law, in which I hope to make a figure some
day.  A fine profession for making money, and the only way to make a
figure in the world is to get that, in my opinion," and he laughed at
his own intended wit.

Still May kept on her way in silence.

"Can this person be a son of that dreadful man Gaffin?" she thought.
"If the stories about the miller are true it is the sort of conduct to
be expected from a son of his."

She felt that her best course was not to speak to the youth whatever he
might say.

He continued walking by her side, beating his boot with his riding whip.
At length he began to grow impatient at her silence.

"You have got a voice I know, for I heard it sound very sweetly just
now.  Can't you use it just to say something?  It's not pleasant when a
person speaks to a young lady not to have a word in return."

Still May was firm in her determination not to speak.  The youth,
probably unaccustomed to such treatment from the young women he usually
associated with, entirely lost patience.

"Come, come, Miss, let's be friends!  Though you do live with the Miss
Pembertons, there's no reason you should look down upon a young man who
is in a respectable position, and would make you an independent lady if
you would let him."

As he spoke he tried to seize her hand, and put his other arm round to
draw her towards him.  She started back to escape his touch, and as she
did so, looking over her shoulder, she saw Jacob following in the
distance.  She turned and flew towards him faster than she had ever run
in her life.  Jacob hastened to meet her.  She took his arm panting and
scarcely able to speak as she told him the insult to which she had been
subjected.

"I saw some one walking alongside you, and thought it wasn't by your
wish, but couldn't tell, you see, though I ought to have known better.
But the impudent fellow shall rue it, that he shall.  I'll serve him as
I would a conger!" exclaimed Jacob.  "Let me be after him now--I'll
catch him before he has got far, and I'll warrant he shall never speak
to you again."

"Oh, no, no! pray do not, Jacob," said May, leaning on his arm to
support herself.  She was more agitated than she could have supposed.
"Let him alone, whoever he is, though I suspect from what he said that
he is a son of Miles Gaffin.  It will be only necessary, I hope, to warn
him not to behave again as he has done; and as I shall tell Miss
Pemberton, she will probably speak to him, and that will be sufficient."

"If the audacious young scoundrel is Miles Gaffin's son, and he is like
his father, he will care neither what Miss Pemberton nor any other lady
says to him," exclaimed Jacob, doubling his fist, while his eye assumed
a fierce expression it seldom wore.  "He will care what this says to him
though, and I'll make it speak in a way he won't like, that I will.  But
don't you be afraid, there is no harm will come of it.  How he should
have dared to speak to you is more than I can tell; but I will find out
if he has a tongue to answer me, and it will be the last time he'll try
it."

Had young Gaffin heard Jacob, and seen his brawny arm and huge fist, he
would have had no inclination to fall in with him; but feeling that it
would be wise not to encounter the sturdy protector to whom May had
appealed, he had, after pursuing her a few steps, leaped over a gate and
run into a wood, which concealed him from sight.  It is possible that,
from his place of concealment, he might have observed May leaning on
Jacob's arm as they proceeded towards Downside.

"Thank you, Jacob, for your kindly succour," she said when they reached
the door.  "You will come in and see the ladies, for they will wish to
thank you as I do."

"Oh, May, you don't fancy that there is any need of thanking me--no, not
even if I had saved your life, for that would have made me happier than
I can tell you," answered Jacob, with a half reproachful look.  "As to
that villain, I will find him out, and then I'll come and tell the
ladies how I have served him."

"I must again entreat you not to use any violence," said May.  "It will
be quite sufficient if you can learn who he is, that I may be protected
from his insults, but for no other reason do I even wish to ascertain
his name."

While they were speaking, Miss Jane, who had heard their voices, came
out, and May hurriedly told her what had occurred.

"May has spoken very properly to you, Jacob," she said.  "Do no more
than she has advised."

Jacob's countenance assumed a more dogged look than May had ever seen it
wear, and, unwilling to receive more of Miss Jane's stem exhortations,
or May's milder entreaties, he wished them good evening, and casting a
look expressive of his devotion at May, hurried away.

As May was able to identify the youth who had spoken to her with the
young man who had appeared at church on the previous Sunday, Miss Jane,
with her usual sagacity, ascertained that he was staying at the Texford
Arms, and that Miles Gaffin, the miller had met him on his arrival.  It
was supposed that he was the eldest son of that person.

"I fear there will be but little use complaining to the father,"
observed Miss Jane; "but it will be more prudent, my dear May, for you
to confine your walks to the grounds till he has left the place, unless
you accompany Mary or me.  Jacob will undoubtedly let his parents know
what has occurred, and we shall, probably have the dame up here to make
enquiries.  I will then tell her not to expect a visit from you till you
are no longer likely to be subjected to the same annoyance."

May agreed to the wisdom of this proposal; indeed she would have been
very unwilling to venture beyond the grounds by herself.



CHAPTER TWENTY ONE.

THE SMUGGLER'S VAULT.

The appearance of young Gaffin at Hurlston must be accounted for.

The old mill on the cliff, which belonged to Sir Reginald Castleton, was
in a somewhat decayed condition, and had long been unoccupied, when a
short time before the period at which our story commences, a stranger,
calling himself Miles Gaffin, a miller by trade, called on Mr Groocock,
and offered to take it.  As he was ready to give a better rent than the
steward expected to receive, he was glad to let it.

Miles Gaffin had occupied the mill for about a year, when, leaving it in
charge of his man, he disappeared for a time and returned with a wife
and three boys, whom he placed in a neat cottage at some little distance
from the mill.  His wife was a foreigner, of dark complexion, who spoke
no English, a care-worn, spirit-broken woman, it was said.

She had little or no intercourse with her neighbours, who were unable to
find out anything about her; indeed, either by her husband's order or
her own wish, she never admitted any of them within her doors.

Some time after Miles Gaffin had been established at the mill, a lugger
appeared off the coast, on board which he was seen to go.  He had
previously declared to Mr Groocock, notwithstanding his sunburnt
countenance and undoubted sailor-like look, that he knew nothing of
nautical affairs.

Mr Groocock began to suspect that he had been deceived in the matter on
finding that Gaffin had sailed away in the lugger, and did not return
for many weeks.

He confessed with a laugh when he next met the steward that he was
really fond of the sea, and that whenever his business would allow him,
he proposed taking a trip to indulge his fancy.  He went so far even to
invite Mr Groocock to accompany him, his offer, however, as may be
supposed, being declined.

On one side of the mill the ground sloped rapidly down for twenty feet
or more, and here a house was erected, the roof of which reached
scarcely higher than the basement of the mill itself, so that the arms
on which the sails were stretched could pass freely over it.  This
building had been in even a more dilapidated condition than the mill
itself.  The lower portion was used as a stable, where the miller kept
his horse, the upper contained two rooms.  Miles Gaffin had partially
repaired the house, and had had the two rooms fitted up as sleeping
apartments, that he might, as he said, put up any guest whom he could
not accommodate in his own house.  From the time he had taken possession
of it he had, however, admitted none of his neighbours, though it was
rumoured that strange men who had landed from the suspicious lugger had
been observed entering the house, and sometimes leaving it, either on
foot or on horseback, and making their way inland; lights also had been
seen at all hours of the night when certainly the mill itself was not at
work.  It was remarked, too, by several of the fishermen in the
neighbourhood, that the stranger had been carrying on some work or other
either inside the house or below the mill, as they had observed a large
quantity of earth which had been thrown down over the cliff, and though
part of it had been washed away by the spring tides, it still went on
increasing.  When one of them made an observation to him on the subject,
he replied promptly that he had heard a noise one night, and had no
doubt that part of the cliff had given way.  However, considering the
risk there was, should such have been the case, of his mill being
carried down bodily to the beach, he took the matter very coolly.

From time to time a still larger quantity of earth was observed, and it
was whispered by one or two of his more sagacious neighbours that Miles
Gaffin must be excavating a vault beneath his mill, possibly for the
purpose of forming a granary in which to store corn purchased by him
when prices were low.  Why, however, he had not employed any of the
labourers in the neighbourhood, or why he should have the work carried
on in secret, no one could determine.  Still the idea prevailed that a
vault of some sort had been formed; but after a time the matter was
forgotten.  No one, indeed, had much fancy for asking the miller
inquisitive questions, as he generally gave such replies as to make
people wish that they had not put them.  He was, indeed, looked upon as
a morose, haughty man, who, considering himself superior to the other
inhabitants of the village, was not inclined to allow any familiarity.
He had never been known to seek for custom.  He had brought a man with
him to work the mill who was even more surly and morose than his master.
Poor Dusty Dick, as he was called, was deaf and dumb, so that he could
only express his feelings by his looks, and they were unprepossessing in
the extreme.  When corn was brought he ground it and returned the proper
quantity of flour on receiving payment, though he would never give it up
without that.

The miller wished it to be understood that he ground his neighbour's
corn as a favour, and that his chief profits arose from turning into
flour the wheat which came by sea on board the lugger.  This statement
was borne out by the large number of sacks which her crew were
frequently seen landing.  Waggons from a distance also frequently
arrived, and being loaded with flour, were sent off again to the places
from whence they came.  The miller's business, however, it was evident,
was not a steady one; sometimes for weeks together the long arms of the
mill were only seen working for a few hours now and then, and at others
the miller and his companions were as busy as bees, while the sails went
spinning round at a great rate, as if trying to make amends for lost
time.

Miles Gaffin continued to make frequent voyages in the lugger, of which
he was generally supposed to be the owner.  Sometimes he was several
months together absent.  When he came back he was so busy at the mill
that he was seldom seen at the cottage where his family resided.

As soon as his boys were old enough he sent them away to school.  When
they came back for their holidays they were noted chiefly for being the
most noisy, wild, and worst mannered lads in the place, especially held
in dread by Miss Pemberton, who had frequently rebuked them when she saw
them playing games on a Sunday in the village, and had received rude
answers in return.  The youngest was, notwithstanding, a fine, manly
looking boy, and the only one ever seen in his father's company.

On one occasion Gaffin had taken him on board the lugger, but the lad
had not returned, and it was said that he had been knocked overboard in
a gale of wind, and drowned.

On Gaffin's return after this event, his wife, as it was supposed, on
his suddenly communicating the boy's death, became ill.  A doctor was
sent for, but the stroke had gone too far home for human cure, and in a
short time the hapless woman breathed her last.

On this Miles sent back his sons to school, and from that time, greatly
to the relief of Miss Pemberton, they did not make their appearance in
the village.  He gave up his cottage, and after that took up his abode,
when at Hurlston, entirely at the mill-house.

A short time before the reappearance of his son at Hurlston, as just
mentioned, he had himself, after a considerable absence, returned.  He
had been of late unsuccessful in his undertakings, whatever they were,
and even Dusty Dick, as he observed his master's countenance, thought it
prudent, as much as possible, to keep out of his way.

Several strangers had come with him on board the lugger, and had taken
possession of one of the rooms in the mill-house, while he occupied the
other.  They were personages unaccustomed apparently to soft beds or
luxuries of any sort, so that they were perfectly at home in the roughly
furnished room; and when they wished to sleep they found, when wrapped
in their cloaks, all the comfort they desired.

Besides a couple of tressel beds, a long deal table, with benches on
either side, were the chief articles of furniture.

The miller and his guests were seated round the table, on which stood
the remnants of their supper.  Their conversation related chiefly to an
adventure in which they had lately been engaged, while political
subjects were also discussed.

"Now, mates," said Gaffin, rising, "I have got business to attend to
before I turn in, but I will leave you to put on your night-caps
whenever you have a fancy."

"This is the only night-cap I ever put on," answered one of the men,
pouring out half a tumbler of brandy.  "It serves for night-cap and
blanket too, and keeps a fellow from dreaming, an occupation I have no
fancy for."

"You are not going to leave us yet, captain, are you?  We have not
reached the small hours of the night," said a second.  "Another stoup of
liquor, man; we are on firm ground, and no king's cruisers are in chase
of us; you need not fear if it sends you to sleep, or makes you see
double for once in a way."

Gaffin still, however, refused to sit down again, even though other
urgent appeals were made to him, couched in much coarser language,
interlarded with not a few strange oaths, which need not be repeated.

"I have told you, mates, that I have business to attend to.  Amuse
yourselves as you list, only don't get to brawling, or burn the house
down in your revels; if you do, remember you will chance to burn with it
before your time comes."

The smuggler captain, for such he appeared to be considered by his
ruffianly companions, without again speaking left the room.

He repaired at once to his own chamber, and sitting down at a table, on
which a lamp burned, he opened a desk, took a huge pocket-book from his
coat, and began to examine several documents which it contained.

"I must raise the wind by fair means or foul to satisfy my fellows, as
well as to make another venture before I cry die.  Unless that is as
unsuccessful as the last, I shall soon redeem my fortunes."

He sat for some time ruminating, now and then turning to his papers, and
casting up accounts.  Suddenly a thought occurred to him.

"How came I so long to forget the chest I got only off the wreck from
which old Halliburt saved the little girl?" he muttered.  "Though I took
out not a few valuables, there were all sorts of things at the bottom of
the chest, which, now I think of it, I never turned over.  I will have a
look at them this very night.  Even a few gold pieces would be welcome,
and it was evidently the treasure chest of some Indian nabob or other,
his ill-gotten gains from the wretched natives he had fleeced and
cheated."

He went to a chest of drawers in which he found a key.

"This must be it," he said, "by its foreign make."

Taking the lamp he left the chamber, and descended the stairs.  The
sound of boisterous revelry proceeded from the room where his guests
were assembled.

"The drunken brutes are not likely to disturb me," he growled out, "and
Dick is fast asleep in his loft."

Going across the stable, on removing a heap of straw he found a low
door, which opened with a key he produced from his pocket.  Going
through it, he closed it carefully behind him.

He now stood in a low vaulted cavern, the earth supported by upright
pieces of stout timber, with flat boards above them, which prevented the
sandy soil in which it was cut from falling in.  This was the excavation
which he, with a few trusty companions, had formed many years ago.

Various sorts of goods were piled up in it--casks of spirits, bales of
tobacco, silk, and several other articles.  In a recess at the further
end was a large chest.

After several attempts, for the lock from disuse was rusted, he opened
it, and placing the lamp, resting on a piece of board, at one corner of
the chest, he sat down on a cask by its side.  On first glancing into it
there appeared to be little or nothing within; but, on examining it
further, he found that there was a large tray at the bottom, which
apparently, on some former hurried examination, had escaped his notice.
On lifting this a number of articles were revealed closely packed; they
were mostly cases of various sizes.  There was a jewelled-handled sword,
a curious dagger, and a brace of richly ornamented pistols, two or three
silver bowls and cups, and other articles which had probably been
presented by native princes or other wealthy men to the owner of the
chest.  Several of the cases contained jewels evidently of great value,
which, as they glittered in the light, the smuggler gazed at with
intense satisfaction.

"And I have had all this wealth at my command and never knew of it," he
muttered.  "I guessed the girl must have had wealthy friends, and as
this chest must have belonged to them, it would have been worth my while
to get hold of her.  As, however, they have never appeared, I have been
saved the trouble and expense she would have been to me, and now this
store comes just in the nick of time when I want it most.  The only
difficulty will be to dispose of all these things without raising
suspicion as to how I came by them.  Still, at the worst, I can but tell
the truth should questions be asked, and prove that I got them from a
wreck.  At all events, there are Jews enough in London who will give me
cash for them, though it may cost me not a little trouble to wring their
proper value out of the close-fisted hypocrites."

Such were the thoughts which occupied the smuggler's mind as he examined
in succession the articles which have been mentioned.

At last he came to another case or writing-desk, which was locked.

"I may as well overhaul the whole at once," he thought.  "I must get
this opened somehow."

A sailor's strong knife was the only implement at hand.  He broke off a
portion of the blade in making the attempt.  At length he succeeded,
though he injured the case in the operation.  Placing the desk on his
knees, he examined the contents, which consisted of a number of papers,
title-deeds, official documents in oriental characters, and other papers
apparently of value, together with several bills of exchange for a large
amount, and rolls of gold coin.

"Ah, ah! these will save me from going to the Jews as yet," he
exclaimed.  "I will keep the jewels and other things till any future
necessity compels me to part with them."

Having examined the coin to assure himself that he was not mistaken, he
was glancing carelessly over the papers, when his eye fell on a name
which attracted his attention.  He eagerly read through the paper, and
then looked for another and another.  A deep frown settled on his brow,
while a look of satisfaction kindled in his eye.

"If Satan himself had been asked to do my command, he could not please
me better than this," he exclaimed.  "I can now more amply than I had
expected accomplish the design I have for years waited for.  And while I
enrich myself, I shall without risk humble those I have good reason to
hate."

He was now lost in thought, now again glancing over the papers.

"They and the other things will be safer here, where they have lain so
long, than in the house which may get burned down through some drunken
spree by the fellows I have to harbour.  But the coin may as well go
into my pockets at once," he said to himself, as he put back the desk
with its contents in the chest.

Having replaced the tray, he brought some straw from another part of the
vault, and threw in a sufficient quantity to conceal it should by any
chance the chest be opened by any one else.

"This will make it be supposed that there is nothing below," he said to
himself, as he closed the lid and locked it.

At length leaving the vault, he returned to his chamber.  His
companions' revels had ceased, and now loud snores only came from the
room where they were sleeping.  He threw himself on his bed, but his
busy brain was too hard at work to allow him to sleep.



CHAPTER TWENTY TWO.

MILES GAFFIN, JUNIOR.

Miles Gaffin lay on his bed turning over in his thoughts the information
he had obtained, and considering how he could gain the most advantage
from it.  Returning to the table, he sat down to write.  He was a man of
decision.  With him to propose was to act.  "My son Myles," he wrote,
for it was not his wont to use terms of endearment, "you are to come
here at once.  Tell Mr Crotch so from me; you need not say more to him.
I want you to make your fortune by a way to which you will not object
marrying a young and pretty wife.  When you come you shall know more
about the matter.  Get a good rig out, so as to appear to advantage.
Wait at the Texford Arms, where I will meet you, but don't come to the
mill.  From your father, Miles Gaffin."

The letter was speedily sealed and directed, and sent off the next
morning to the post by one of his companions, who, by that time, was
sufficiently sober to undertake the errand.

Gaffin's lugger, the _Lively_, lay at anchor off the mill.  She had no
contraband goods on board, so that a visit from the revenue officers
need not be feared.  He had previously intended going away in her, but
he now was anxious to see his son before he sailed.  His difficulty, in
the meantime, was to dispose of his guests.  They, however, as long as
his supply of liquor and provisions lasted, would be content to remain
where they were.  He had no wish to bring his son among them, for bad as
he himself was, he had, since the loss of his youngest boy, kept his
other two children ignorant of his mode of life, though it was possible
that the eldest might have suspected it from circumstances which he must
have remembered in his younger days.

Gaffin waited with more patience than he generally exercised, till he
calculated that a sufficient time had elapsed to allow of his son's
arrival.  He then walked down to the little inn in the village.

Just as he readied it, a post-chaise drove up to the door, out of which
stepped a young man, whom he recognised as Miles, though he had not seen
him for the last three or four years.

"You are my son, Miles, I conclude," said Gaffin.

"You are my father, I suppose," answered the young man in the same tone.

"You are right," said Gaffin.  "Pay the post-boy, and let him bring your
portmanteau into the house.  I will order a room, and we will talk over
the matter in hand."

The landlady having shown Gaffin into a room, young Miles did as he was
directed, and followed him.

"Well, I want to know more about this business you sent for me about,"
said the young man, throwing himself into a chair.  "I have done as you
told me, and I hope you think I have got a good chance."

Gaffin surveyed his son for a moment.

"Yes, you will do, as far as that goes," he answered.  "Now listen to
me; I don't want to be asked questions, but do you trust to me and go
ahead.  There is a young girl whom you remember when you were a boy.
She was found on board a wreck by Adam Halliburt, the fisherman, and
brought up by him and his wife.  Two old ladies here took a fancy to
her, and have given her an education which has made her fit to be the
wife of any gentleman in the land.  She is pretty, too, and everything a
young fellow could wish for.  I happen to know to a certainty that she
is a prize worth winning.  When you have seen her, I am much mistaken if
you would not give your eyes to have her, without asking any questions,
and I am not going to answer them, if you do.  I have your interests at
heart, and wish to serve you in the matter."

"I have no doubt you have, but I should like to have a look at the girl
before I decide," answered young Miles.

"That you can do to-morrow at church where she is sure to be, and when
you have seen her don't let there be any shilly shallying; make up to
her at once, most girls like to be won in an off-hand manner, and just
do you go and tell her how you have seen her and fallen in love with
her, and all that sort of thing.  I daresay you have had some experience
already."

"Pretty well in a sort of way," answered the young man in a conceited
tone.  "If I have got your word that she is worth winning, you will find
I am not backward, and I hope, before long, to give a good report of
progress."

Gaffin, satisfied that his son would do all he desired, charged him to
keep himself quiet and not get into any scrapes while at Hurlston.

"People here will know you are my son, so just get a good name for
yourself, and whatever they may think, they cannot say you are not a fit
match for the old fisherman's foster-daughter," and Gaffin gave way to a
laugh such as he rarely indulged in.  "I will come down here again and
have a talk with you after you have seen the girl.  Now there is one
thing more I have got to say, though I do not know to a cute fellow like
you whether the caution is necessary; don't go and be blabbing to others
of what you are about."

"I have been too long with Mr Crotch not to know how to keep a secret,"
answered the young man; "and I fancy I can manage this affair as I have
done several others for my employer.  I do not mean love affairs though,
but matters of business in which I have given him perfect satisfaction,
he tells me."

The conference over, Gaffin again charged his son to behave himself, and
with no more show of affection than he had exhibited on the young man's
arrival, took his departure and returned to the mill.

He kept within doors endeavouring to maintain order among his lawless
associates.  He wished not to be seen in company with his son, or to let
it be supposed that he was instigating him in his siege on Maiden May's
heart.  From the accounts he had received from Mr Crotch of that young
gentleman's talents, he believed that he could allow the matter to rest
securely in his hands.  If impudence was to carry the day young Miles
would come off victorious, as he was known to possess no inconsiderable
amount of that quality.

Gaffin had an excuse for remaining at the mill, as a larger quantity of
grist than usual had been brought, and, for a wonder, its long arms with
the sails stretched out went merrily round and round, giving Dusty Dick
ample employment.  The smuggler's crew grumbled at not having their
dinner cooked in time.  Dusty Dick had to take charge of the kitchen in
addition to his other duties, and the mill required his attention.
Gaffin had accordingly to serve out an additional supply of liquor to
keep his guests quiet.  He succeeded so effectually that, seasoned as
they were, one and all were soon unable to quit the house, leaving him
at liberty to attend to his own affairs.

"The beasts," he said, as he looked in upon the drunken ruffians, some
sleeping with their heads on the table, others fallen under it, and
others stretched their length on the beds, or at the side of the room.
"They will stay there quiet enough till I want them, and no one is
likely to come prying this way to disturb their slumbers."

Securely bolting the door of the house he passed by a back way into the
mill, where, after giving some directions to Dusty Dick, he descended to
the beach.  A small boat lay there which he was able to launch by
himself, and pulling off in her he went on board the lugger.  He had
left the most trusted part of his crew in her, including his mate, Tom
Fidget, on whom he could always rely, not that Tom objected to get drunk
"at proper times and seasons," as he observed, but duty first and
pleasure afterwards was his maxim.  His notions of duty were, to be
sure, somewhat lax, according to the strict rules of morality, and his
only idea of pleasure was a drunken spree on shore when he could leave
the craft without risk of her suffering damage either from wind and
weather, or the officers of the law.  He was a bullet-headed fellow,
with a figure almost as wide as long, small keen eyes, and a turned up
nose scarcely perceptible beyond his puffed out copper-coloured cheeks.

Pipe in mouth he was taking his usual fisherman's walk, when the captain
stepped on board.

"The craft shall not be kept here longer than can be helped, Tom, and
you must be ready to start at a moment's notice," he observed.  "I have
some business to attend to first, however, so it won't be for a day or
two, though that does not matter, as the weather promises to hold fine.
Only keep the fellows sober, for I have as many drunken men on shore as
I can manage, and it won't do to have all the hands in the same state.
The next time it will be your turn to go on shore, and you may then
drink as much liquor as you can hold, and enjoy yourself to your heart's
content."

Gaffin having given these directions, returned on shore again.  Several
days passed and Gaffin again went in the evening to the Texford Arms to
meet his hopeful son.  The young gentleman was in, the landlady
answered, in the room upstairs.

"Well, what progress have you made?" asked Gaffin, as he entered and
found young Miles lounging lazily alone, a pipe in his mouth and a glass
of brandy and water by his side.

"I thought I knew something about girls," was the answer, "and that I
could come round her much as I have done with others, who wouldn't think
themselves much beneath her, in our town, and I was not going to be
stopped by any nonsense."

"I don't want to hear what you thought, but what you did," said his
father.

"Well, you shall, if that's your wish," answered Miles.  "I went to
church on Sunday and had a good look at her, and thought she saw me with
my eyes fixed on her from one end of the service to the other, but she
hurried home among a lot of people, and I hadn't a chance of getting
alongside to put in a word.  For three whole days she never showed
outside the gates, and I thought at last of going and calling on the old
ladies with a story I had got up, but when I came to learn what sort of
people they are, I found that would not do.  Then I thought of another
plan."

"I tell you I don't want your thought's," growled Gaffin.  "What were
your acts?"

"That's what I was coming to," answered Miles.  "As ill-luck would have
it I was off watch when she slipped out, and I discovered had gone down
to old Halliburt's.  You may be sure I kept a look-out for her on her
return.  I saw her coming along, and thought I had got the game in my
own hands, but by--" and he swore a fearful oath, "the girl was
altogether different to those I have had to do with.  Beautiful, I
believe you, she is, but as haughty as if she was a born princess; and
just as I was going to show her what sort of a fellow I was, she slipped
away and ran off towards a young chap and took his arm, just as if she
had been accustomed to keep company with him.  I watched them as they
went by, and he seemed to be looking for me in no very friendly mood,
for I saw him double his fists, and he was not the sort of fellow I
wished to come to close quarters with, or I would have gone up to him
and asked what he meant by carrying off the girl I was talking to."

"The long and short of it," said Gaffin, as soon as he could master his
anger, "is that you frightened the young lady, and got a rebuff which
you might have expected.  But as for the young fellow, I know who he is,
and he won't interfere with you.  Just do you go on and persevere, and
if you do not succeed we must try other means.  Marry the girl I am
determined you shall, whether she likes it or not, and I can depend upon
you.  Remember I am not one to have my plans thwarted, least of all by
my own son."

"I will not thwart them, you may trust me for that," answered Miles.
"The girl is about as pretty as I ever set eyes on, and I am obliged to
you for putting me up to the matter.  But, I say, I should like to know
more about her.  You led me to suppose that there is some secret you had
got hold of--what is it?"

"That's nothing to you at present.  Your business is to win the girl,
whether she is a fisherman's or a lord's daughter.  She was brought up
as the Halliburt's child, though I suppose she knows that she is not,
yet she has no reason to think much of herself, except on account of her
good looks, and those, from what I have heard of the old ladies she
lives with, they would have taught her not to pride herself on."

Gaffin's last directions to his son were to keep himself quiet for a
time, and to wait his opportunity for again meeting May under more
favourable circumstances.

"I will write to Crotch and tell him that a matter of importance keeps
you from returning just yet, and if good luck attends us you may not see
his face again.  I will not say that though, eh?" and Gaffin indulged in
a chuckle, the nearest approach he ever made to a laugh.



CHAPTER TWENTY THREE.

CAUGHT IN A THUNDERSTORM.

Harry's ship had been paid off, and Headland having received his
promotion, the two friends started in a post-chaise and four for London.
It would have been unbecoming for two naval officers, with their
pockets full of prize money, to travel in a less dignified way.  The
last time Harry had come that road it had been on the top of a coach.

Captain Headland had been very little on shore in England, and
everything was new to him and full of interest.  The country girls at
the cottage doors struck him especially.

"I had no idea English women were so pretty," he observed.

Harry laughed.

"I thought your philosophy would soon be capsized.  If you think them
attractive, I suspect that you will find the girls of higher rank
enchanting."

They remained in town to attend a levee, when Captain Headland was
presented on his promotion, and Harry on his return from foreign
service.  Headland was in no hurry to leave London, for never having
before been in the big city, he found so much to interest him; but Harry
was anxious to be at home.  Julia had written him word that they hoped
to have a number of visitors, and intended to give a fete in honour of
his return.

They posted to Texford, agreeing that a pair of horses would take them
there as fast as four, which their dignity no longer required.

Headland received a warm welcome from Sir Ralph and Lady Castleton as
their son's friend, and Julia extended her hand as if she had known him
all her life.  He thought her a very charming girl, and wondered that
Harry had never spoken to him of her beauty.  Her frankness soon set him
at his ease.  He had mixed but little in ladies' society, and at first
felt awkward.  Algernon was kind and polite, but was somewhat cold and
stiff in his manner, like his father, and Headland suspected that he
should never be very intimate with him.

Next morning Julia volunteered to show several of the guests who had
lately arrived, including Captain Headland, over the grounds.  Algernon
had in the meantime asked Harry to ride with him, and invited their
guest to join them.

"Miss Castleton has engaged me to be one of the walking party, and as I
am no great horseman you will, I hope, excuse me."

Harry begged that he would do as he had promised.  He wished to ride
with Algernon to enjoy some private conversation.  He had been struck by
his brother's changed appearance.  He had a short teasing cough, of
which, however, he made light, observing that it generally disappeared
with the warm weather, though it annoyed him a little longer that year.

The brothers had much to talk about after their long separation.  Harry
enquired if any authentic account of their uncle's death had been
received.  Algernon replied that though their father and Mr Shallard
had made every possible enquiry, the only fact they had learned was that
the ship he had sailed in had never been heard of, and that there was no
doubt she had gone down in a hurricane which had occurred during the
time she must have been at sea.

"It would be a trying state of things if our uncle were after all to
make his appearance and claim the title and property," observed
Algernon.  "I suspect that our father would be very unwilling to give
them up, and possession is nine-tenths of the law."

"Surely he would not hesitate if convinced of our uncle's identity,"
said Harry, "and would be thankful to welcome his brother back to life."

"He is so firmly convinced of his death that it would be difficult to
persuade him to the contrary," replied Algernon.  "For my own part I am
not ambitious of becoming a baronet, and as far as I am individually
concerned I should be ready to welcome with sincerity our long lost
uncle."

"So should I," cried Harry warmly, "and surely our father with his
political interest can, if he chooses, obtain a baronetcy for himself."

"He would prefer exerting that influence in gaining a higher rank,"
observed Algernon with a sigh.  "He wished me to be in parliament, but
he only a few days ago, greatly to my relief, acknowledged that he was
afraid my health for the present would not enable me to stand the wear
and tear I should have to undergo in the `house.'  I am afraid that it
has greatly disappointed him.  He probably will wish you to take the
place he intended for me."

Harry laughed heartily.

"I in parliament," he exclaimed, "I should indeed feel like a fish out
of water.  I wish to stick to the service, and hope to get my flag some
day."

"But there are naval men in parliament, and you may do that
notwithstanding," said Algernon.

"I do not wish to disobey him, but the very thoughts of the life I
should have to lead, talking and debating, or worse, listening to long
debates in the close atmosphere of the House of Commons, would make me
miserable.  So, pray, if he suggests such a thing to you, tell him you
are sure that I should not like it, and beg him to let me off."

Algernon promised to do as his brother wished.

They had taken the way to the downs to the south of Hurlston.

Harry enquired for their cousins, the Miss Pembertons.  On hearing that
they were still living there he proposed paying them a visit.

"To tell you the truth, I have not called since we came to Texford,"
answered Algernon.  "You know that they have peculiar notions.  Our
father, looking upon them as puritanical dissenters, has no wish to have
them at the house.  I have not seen the old ladies for some years.  I
remember that they did not make a very favourable impression on me when
I met them last."

"I suppose I may call on them," said Harry.  "They were kind to me when
I was a boy, and I liked cousin Mary, as we called her."

"Yes, there can be no objection to your going," answered Algernon.
"They will not consider it necessary to return your visit, and will look
upon it as a kindness."

The young men had been riding on further than they had intended, and
being engaged in conversation while passing along lanes with high hedges
on either side, they had not observed a storm gathering in the sky.
Emerging from the lanes Harry invited his brother to take a gallop
across the wide extended downs spread out before them, and thus they did
not observe till they turned the thunder clouds sweeping up rapidly
towards them.

"We shall get wet jackets, I suspect, before we reach home," observed
Harry.

"I hope not," answered his brother, "for I have been especially charged
to avoid the damp and cold, and I feel somewhat heated.  I wish there
was some place where we could get shelter."

"I am very sorry that I led you on, for I see no shed or cottage
anywhere," said Harry, gazing round; "and I am afraid we shall have the
rain down upon us before many minutes.  Our shortest way to the nearest
house at Hurlston will, I suspect, be across the downs.  Come along,
there is no time to spare."

They put their horses into a gallop.  The downs though at a distance
appearing to be level, were intercepted by several deep ravines, and the
young men had not gone far before they were compelled to turn inland by
coming to one of the most rugged and wild of these ravines, the side of
which was too steep to allow them to ride down it.

A little further Harry observed a place which he thought they could
descend without difficulty, and thus save some distance.  As he reached
the bottom, followed by Algernon, he saw nestling under a rock on one
side a hut built party of rough stones, and partly of the planks of some
wreck cast on shore.  At the same moment a bright flash of lightning
darted from the clouds, followed by a crashing peal of thunder, when
immediately down came the rain.

"We may, at all events, find shelter in yonder hut," said Harry, "though
it seems scarcely large enough to admit our horses, but I will hold them
while you go inside."

They made their way down the ravine, when Algernon dismounting pushed
open the door and ran in, while Harry leading the horses followed him.

At the further end of the hut a woman was seated on a stool before the
wood fire blazing on the hearth, over which she bent, apparently engaged
in watching the contents of an iron pot boiling on it.

"Who dares intrude unbidden into my mansion," she shrieked out in a wild
unearthly tone, which made Algernon start back.

Her long grey hair hung down on either side of her colourless face, from
which beamed forth a pair of wild eyes, glowing with the fire of
madness.  Her dress being of the same sombre hue as was everything in
the hut, had as Algernon entered prevented him from observing her till
she turned her face full upon him.

She rose as she spoke, confronting the two young men.  "Who are you?"
she repeated; "speak, or begone, and trouble me not."

"I beg your pardon for entering without leave," said Algernon; "but the
rain is coming down so heavily that we should have been wet through in
another minute, and there is no other shelter at hand."

"That's no answer to my question," she exclaimed.  "What care I for rain
or storm; let the lightning flash and the thunder roar, and do its
worst.  Go your way, I say, and leave me to my solitude."

"My brother would suffer should he get wet," said Harry, stepping in.
"And I must beg you, my good lady, not to be annoyed if we remain till
the storm is over; it will probably pass away in half an hour, and we
beg not to interrupt you in what you are about."

"You are fair spoken, young sir, but you have not answered my question.
Who are you, I ask again?"

"We are the sons of Sir Ralph Castleton, and we discovered your hut by
chance, while looking for a place to obtain shelter from the rain."

"Spawn of the viper, how dare ye come hither to seek for shelter beneath
my roof?" exclaimed the woman in a voice which made the young men start,
so shrill and fierce did it sound, high above the roar of the thunder,
the howling of the wind, and the pattering of the rain.

"A fit time ye have chosen to come and mock at me; but I have powers at
my command to overwhelm you in a moment.  See, the heavens fight on my
side."

As she spoke a bright flash of lightning darted down the glen, which,
with the crashing peal of thunder that followed, made the horses snort
and plunge so violently, that Harry had no little difficulty in holding
them, and was drawn out from the doorway in which he had been standing.

"And you deem yourself the heir of Texford," she continued in the same
tone, gazing with her wild eyes intently fixed on Algernon.  "Though you
rejoice in youth and wealth, I see death stamped on your brow; and
before many months have passed away, instead of dwelling in your proud
and lordly hall, you will have become a tenant of the silent tomb.  I
can command the elements, and can read the future.  It was I who
summoned this storm to drive you hither that you might hear your fate,
that fate which the stars last night revealed to me.  Ah! ah! ah! you
now wish that you had passed by instead of seeking shelter beneath my
roof; but your destiny drove you hither, and against that you fight in
vain."

Algernon feeling that it would be wiser not to reply to the wild ravings
of the strange creature looked anxiously out of the hut, strongly
inclined, in spite of the rain, to make his escape.  Harry, who, having
been engaged with the horses, had not heard what she first said, now
brought them back again, and stood once more beneath the roof of the
hut.

"At all events now we are here, my good woman, I hope you will not
object to our remaining till the storm is over," he said, hoping that by
speaking in a quiet tone he might calm her temper.

"I invited you not to come, I welcomed you not when you did come, and my
curses will follow you when you go," she shrieked out.

"We really had better not stay," said Algernon to Harry.  "I cannot
understand what has irritated the poor woman, and I fear nothing we can
say will have the effect of soothing her."

"I cannot consent to your going out and getting wet through," said
Harry; "so notwithstanding what she says we must stay till the rain has
ceased."

"My good woman, I really think you are mistaken with regard to us," said
Harry, turning to the mad woman.  "When we saw your cottage we were not
aware that it was inhabited, and as we have taken up your time in
interrupting you in what you were about, we shall be glad if you will
accept a present as a recompense;" and Harry, giving the reins to
Algernon to hold, took out half-a-guinea, and offered it to their
hostess.

"You cannot bribe me to reverse the orders of fate," she shrieked out,
snatching the coin from his hand and throwing it into the fire, and
uttering a piercing shriek she frantically waved about her arms, now
high above her head, now pointing at them with threatening gestures,
till Algernon declared that he could stand it no longer.  In vain Harry
entreated him to remain till the rain had altogether ceased.

The old woman shouted and shrieked louder and louder, encouraged
possibly by observing the effect her behaviour had produced on the
eldest of the brothers.  At last the rain moderating, Algernon rushed
out of the hut.

"This is not to be endured," he exclaimed, as he mounted his horse.

Harry followed his example, and they rode up the glen as fast as the
rugged nature of the road would allow them, the wild shrieks and cries
of Mad Sal, as she watched them from the door of her hut, sounding in
their ears till they gained the open downs.

"I am glad we are out of hearing of that dreadful old creature," said
Algernon, as they galloped along.  "I hope she will not prove a true
prophetess."

"I don't believe in wizards or witches," answered Harry, "although
sometimes by chance their predictions may appear to be fulfilled; and we
should be foolish if we allowed the nonsense she talked to weigh on our
spirits.  I am very sure that the thread of our lives will not be cut
shorter from anything she can do, and she certainly will not make me the
less willing to go afloat, and fight as readily as I should have done
had we not fallen in with her.  She has evidently some dislike to the
name of Castleton, and hearing us mention it, vented her feelings by
trying to frighten us."

"Poor woman, she is perfectly mad.  I am curious to learn who she is,"
observed Algernon.  "Perhaps Groocock or some of the Hurlston people may
know."

Although the rain had moderated, the young men were nearly wet through
before they had made their way across the down; and instead of stopping
at Hurlston, as they had intended, they rode on to Texford.

In spite of the exercise he had taken, Algernon complained of the cold,
and Harry observed that he shivered several times.  As he, however,
hurried to his room immediately on his arrival, and changed his wet
things, his brother hoped he would not suffer.



CHAPTER TWENTY FOUR.

JULIA CASTLETON.

The party whom Miss Castleton had offered to escort round the--grounds
consisted of several ladies and gentlemen, most of them young, with the
exception of an old military officer, General Sampson, who, however, was
as active and gallant as the youngest, and a matronly dame, Mrs
Appleton, who went with the idea that a chaperone would be required on
the occasion.

As is not unfrequently the case under similar circumstances, the party
before long separated.  The general and Mrs Appleton had sat down to
rest in a summer-house, while the rest of the party went on.  The
chaperone, on discovering that they had got out of sight, started up,
and was hurrying forward to overtake them, when her bonnet, adorned with
huge bows, caught in a low hanging bough, and, to her horror, before she
could stop her progress, not only was it dragged off, but so was her
cap, and the wig she wore beneath.  The general doing his utmost to
maintain his gravity hastened up to her assistance.  At the same moment
three of the young ladies, with two of the gentlemen who had accompanied
them, having turned back appeared in sight, and hearing her cries
hastened towards her.  The general, who was short of stature, though of
no small width, had, in the meantime, been in vain attempting to unhook
the bows from the branch.

"Let me, general, let me," exclaimed poor Mrs Appleton, who was tall
and thin; and she made an effort to extricate her bonnet.

While she was thus employed, leaving her bare head exposed, her
companions reached the spot, trying in vain to stifle their laughter.

By the exertions of a tall gentleman of the party, her bonnet was at
length set free, and with the assistance of the young ladies was, with
the wig and cap, replaced on her head.

"Well, my dears, the same accident might have happened to any one of
you," she remarked, with a comical expression, which showed that she was
less put out than most people would have been by the occurrence, "though
to be sure, as you have only your natural hair beneath your bonnets,
that, I conclude, would have stuck faster to your head than mine did,
which, as you have discovered, is for convenience sake removable at
pleasure."

Captain Headland, on leaving the house, wishing to be polite to all, had
addressed himself to three or four of the young ladies in succession,
but either finding the conversation uninteresting, or that he could not
keep it up, had walked on by the side of Julia.  He soon found that his
tongue before tied, became perfectly free.  She had so many questions to
ask about Harry, and the various adventures they had gone through
together, that he soon found he had plenty to say.  He was led on to
speak of himself, of the battles in which they both had taken a part.
While he gave her rapid and brilliant accounts of them, he found her
often looking up with her bright eyes fixed on his countenance.  So
interested did she become, that she forgot that she had undertaken to
act as guide to the rest of the party.  Not till they had walked on a
considerable distance, and had reached the opposite side of the lake,
did she and the young officer discover that they were not followed.

"Our friends cannot be far behind us," she said.  "We ought to go back,
and we shall soon meet them.  I promised to guide them through the
labyrinth which leads to Fair Rosamond's Bower, as the summer-house on
the top of the mound overlooking the lake is called, and no one will
otherwise be able to find it."

"I was scarcely observing where we were going.  What a beautiful view of
the lake we have from hence," remarked Headland, as they turned.

"Yes, this is one of the most beautiful; but there are several other
lovely points on the shores, especially at the further end," said Julia.
"I intended to have conducted our friends to them.  This lake was, I
believe, in our great grandfather's time but little more than a
wild-fowl decoy, with almost bare shores.  He had trees planted on the
banks, and the lagoon deepened and considerably enlarged, while, with
the earth and gravel thrown out, mounds were raised which give the
picturesque variety you observe to the banks.  We have two boats on the
lake; but do you not think the model of a man-of-war floating on the
surface would add to the picture?"

Captain Headland naturally thought so, and said he should be happy to
assist Harry in getting one built and rigged.

"Oh, I am sure mamma would like it," said Julia, "and papa, though he
might not take much interest in the matter, would not object.  Till
Harry went to sea, we had no naval men in the family, and neither Sir
Reginald nor his predecessor, our great grandfather, took any interest
in nautical affairs, as they were fox-hunters and sportsmen."

Captain Headland said he would talk to Harry on the subject, and see
what they could do.

They continued walking on, but none of their friends appeared, they
having, as it happened, turned away from the lake in a totally opposite
direction.  Julia thought that they might have gone round to the side
she had proposed visiting.  She therefore led her companion in that
direction.

Their conversation continued as animated as before.  Headland, who had a
real taste for the beauties of nature, admired the views which the lake
exhibited; the wooded islands, the green points, the drooping trees and
weeping willows hanging over the waters, their forms reflected on its
surface; stately swans with arched necks which glided by leading their
troops of cygnets.  The only sounds heard were the splash of the fish as
they leaped out of their watery home, the various notes of birds, and
the subdued hum of insects flitting in the sunshine, where here and
there an opening in the foliage allowed it to penetrate into the
otherwise shady walk.

They at length reached the end of the lake; it was the furthest point
almost in the grounds from the house.

Just then the storm which had overtaken Algernon and Harry burst above
Texford.  It had come on so suddenly that not till a loud peal of
thunder crashed almost above their heads were they aware of its
approach.

"I fear the rain will come down before we can reach the house, Miss
Castleton," observed Captain Headland.  "If there is a boat near at hand
I might row you across the lake, which would both shorten the distance
and save you the fatigue of walking."

"One of the boats is generally kept a little further on, and if you
think we can go faster by water, I shall be much obliged to you."

Before the boat was reached heavy drops of rain began to fall.

"There is a summer-house close at hand overlooking the lake," said
Julia, and led her companion to it.

They had scarcely got under shelter when the rain descended in torrents.

Julia and Captain Headland naturally renewed the interesting
conversation in which they had before been engaged, not aware how time
went by.  Every minute the young officer was in Julia's society,
forgetting his previous resolutions, he admired her more and more.

It was so evident that she had unintentionally separated from their
companions that he did not for one moment think her forward or
designing.  With her delicate and refined beauty he had been struck from
the first, and was now still more pleased with her animated and
intelligent conversation.

"I wonder Harry did not speak more to me about her," he thought, "though
perhaps he might have fancied had he praised her I might have supposed
he wished to offer her as an attraction to me to visit Texford.
However, I am convinced that such a thought never entered his mind."

Although the rain at length ceased, the walks were so wet that Julia
confessed she should prefer crossing the lake to returning home by land.

At the other end of the lake an artificial stream of sufficient depth
for the boat, known as the Serpentine, meandered through the grounds and
reached almost to the house.  There were several rustic bridges which
crossed it here and there, but they were of sufficient height to allow
the boat to pass under them.  Julia having told Headland where he could
find the boat while she remained in the summer-house, he went to fetch
it.  As it was kept under a shed it was perfectly dry.  He handed her
into it, and pushing off from the bank they commenced their voyage.

The sun again shone forth brightly, and the air felt fresh and pure
after the storm.  For some distance he rowed close to the shore where a
number of water-lilies floated on the surface.  He had seldom seen such
beautiful flowers.  He described, however, the marine gardens in the
Eastern seas visible through the clear water for an immense depth below
the surface.

"Have you been much in the East?" asked Julia.

"I believe I was born there," he answered, forgetting his intention of
not speaking of himself.  "Indeed my early days were at all events
passed in that part of the world.  I have been at sea the greater
portion of my life, and have comparatively but little knowledge of the
shore or the dwellers on it.  I had no notion that there were such
beautiful places as this appears to me in England.  I conclude there are
not many such."

"Oh, yes," said Julia.  "There are many far more magnificent and
extensive, though I might not admire them more than this, and certainly
should not love them so much.  Though we have not been here very long, I
spent months when I was a girl with our uncle Sir Reginald, and became
greatly attached to the place.  We did not know at the time that we
should ever come to live here, as papa's elder brother was then alive.
Though he has not since been heard of he is supposed to be dead, and
papa consequently came into possession of the title and estates."

Julia said this not feeling that there was any necessity for keeping the
matter a secret from their guest indeed she would not have been
surprised had he replied that her brother had told him of the
circumstances.

Headland rowed slowly over the calm water.  He was in no hurry to finish
the voyage, and the young lady seemed to enjoy the scenery.  Now and
then he stopped and let the boat float quietly on, that they might
admire some fresh point of view.

"Do you sketch, Captain Headland?" asked Julia.

He replied that he had had no opportunity of taking lessons in his
younger days, except now and then from a mess-mate who had enjoyed the
advantage on shore, though he was accustomed to draw ships and to sketch
the outlines of the coasts that he might recognise them on subsequent
visits, but that now, with the probability of remaining on shore, he
should be glad to study the art.

"I should like to come out on the lake and make some sketches," said
Julia.  "I have hitherto had no one to row the boat, and Algernon can
seldom be tempted on the water; indeed, he is not much of an oarsman."

Captain Headland expressed the pleasure it would give him to be of
service in that capacity, and Julia said she should be glad to take
advantage of his offer.

At length they reached the end of the lake and entered the Serpentine.
There was just room to row the boat along between the grassy banks.
Here and there the trees overhung the channel, and sometimes they had to
bend down to avoid the branches.

They had nearly reached the end where there were some stone steps with a
gravel walk above them, leading directly to the house, and a rustic
bridge spanning the stream.

The old general who had taken post on the bridge, and had been for some
time watching their approach, hailed them.

"Hilloa! gallant son of Neptune, I congratulate you on discovering our
missing Ariadne who was to have been our guide through the labyrinthine
walks of Texford.  Fortunately we missed our way, and found ourselves
close to the house just as the storm came on."

"I must apologise, General Sampson, for leaving you and our other
friends; but we had got to some distance before we discovered that you
were not following," said Julia, somewhat annoyed at the general's
remarks.

"The truth is, my dear young lady, it is we who have to apologise to you
for not keeping pace with your fairy-like movements, and fearing that
Sir Ralph and Lady Castleton might justly blame me as the senior of the
party for deserting you, I hurried out as soon as the rain ceased in the
hopes of finding you before you reached the house, to entreat you to
offer some excuse for my conduct.  But I suspect the captain is chiefly
to blame, and if you will enter into a compact with me we will sacrifice
him."

"I am ready to be the victim should Miss Castleton consider any excuse
necessary," said Captain Headland, as he handed Julia out of the boat,
while the old general stood on the top of the steps.

They walked together to the house, the latter talking in the same style
as before.  Julia ran in, glad to escape him.

"You will be a lucky dog, captain, if you succeed in securing so fair a
prize," whispered the general, giving the young officer a not very
gentle dig in the ribs.  "I have entertained some thoughts in that
direction myself, but I see that a soldier has no chance with a naval
man as his rival."

"Really, general, you allow your imagination to go too fast.  I am a
comparative stranger to Miss Castleton, and have no merit which could
justify me in hoping--"

"Of course, of course, my young friend we must all feel our personal
want of merit when a lady is concerned.  Nevertheless she may possibly
regard you in a more favourable light than you suppose, from the reports
we have heard of your gallant deeds."



CHAPTER TWENTY FIVE.

MAY'S GUARDIANS.

Dame Halliburt made her appearance at Downside early the next morning to
enquire after May.  Miss Pemberton, who had expected the good woman,
begged her to step into her dispensary, as she called the small room in
which she received her poorer visitors, that they might talk over the
matter.

The dame said that she should have come up the previous evening, but
that Jacob had not returned till late at night, when he told her what
had happened.  He had been on the look-out for young Gaffin to bring him
to account for his conduct, but had been unable to find him.

"I am sorry for that," said Miss Jane.  "I charged him to use no
violence towards the young man."

"Lord bless you, marm," answered the dame, "our Jacob is as gentle as a
lamb.  I don't think he could use violence towards any man, though to be
sure if he had fallen in with that impudent young chap he would have
given him a pretty sound drubbing."

"I fear that your son's style of drubbing would be a pretty strong act
of violence," observed Miss Jane.  "Judging from the appearance of his
arm, it possesses sufficient strength to fell an ox, and one blow from
it might injure the youth for life."

"I don't doubt but that our Jacob could hit pretty hard if his spirit
was up," observed the dame with a smile of maternal pride.  "I cannot
say, however, but what I am glad he didn't find young Gaffin."

"One thing is certain, we must not let our May run the chance of being
spoken to again by this young fellow.  If he is stopping at the inn he
probably will not remain long in the place, and she will soon be able to
go to and fro from your house as usual.  Indeed, I hope from the proper
way she treated him that he will not again make the attempt to speak to
her."

"Fellows of his sort are not so easily put down as you may suppose, Miss
Jane, and if he is the miller's son, he may be as audacious as he is
impudent," observed the dame.

"Whatever he is, we will take good care that he has no opportunity of
exhibiting his audacity," said Miss Pemberton; "and I beg that you will
charge your son to take no further notice of the affair.  If your
husband could see the young man and warn him of the consequences of his
conduct, he might induce him to behave properly in future.  Now you will
like to see May."

Miss Jane went out, and sent May into the room.

The dame received her with a warm embrace, but as the subject of young
Gaffin was a disagreeable one, she did not speak much about it.

"Have you told the ladies about the grand doings to take place at
Texford?" asked the dame.

May confessed that she had forgotten all about it.

"Then while I am here I will just put in a word.  A little change will
do you good, and if I tell them I'll keep you by my side all the time, I
don't think they will object."

"We will think about it," was Miss Jane's answer, when the dame told
her.  "I am not an admirer of fetes and fantastic worldly doings such as
I conclude will take place at Texford.  I fear there is more harm done
than pleasure obtained."

"The scene may amuse her, as she has seen nothing of the sort," observed
Miss Mary.  "Far be it from me to countenance even indirectly the
follies of worldly people, but as this fete is intended to afford
amusement to the tenantry and labourers, it must be kindly meant, and if
May herself desires to accompany Dame Halliburt, I think that we ought
not to deny her the amusement."

"Thank you," said May, simply.  "I should like to go, very much."

The dame returned home satisfied that May was not likely to receive any
further annoyance from young Gaffin, and well pleased that there would
be no difficulty about her attending the fete.

Jacob arrived in the evening at Downside with a basket of shells.  May
could not help asking him whether he had seen young Gaffin, and again
entreated him not to interfere.

"I have not seen him, but I know where he is," answered Jacob; "and I
don't think he will show his nose outside the house without having me at
his heels."

Every day before going off for the night's fishing in the _Nancy_, Jacob
managed to find time to get up to Downside.

He would have been a bold man who would have ventured to encounter the
young fisherman with any intention of annoying Maiden May.  Honest love,
when the object loved is to be benefited, wonderfully sharpens the wits.
Jacob, who would never have thought of such a thing under other
circumstances, had set a boy to watch the inn, and bring him word of
Miles's movements.  When he was away, the lad was to inform his mother.

Miles, either in obedience to his father's directions, or because he had
found out that he was watched, kept himself a prisoner, and did not
venture beyond the precincts of the garden at the back of the house,
where he spent most of the day sauntering up and down, smoking his pipe,
and forming plans for winning the young lady in spite of the obstacles
in his way.  Though unable to appreciate any higher qualities, he had
been really struck by her beauty, and was as much in love as it was in
his nature to be.  He was thus perfectly ready to enter into any scheme
which his father might propose for gaining her, either by fair means or
foul.

"I would not hurt her feelings if I could help it," he said to himself;
"but I am pretty sure I have a rival in that young fellow Halliburt.  I
guessed that when she took his arm and ran off from me.  She knows well
enough that he is not her brother, though they have been brought up
together, and girls are generally apt to admire those big,
sturdy-looking chaps who have done them a service, more than
well-dressed, gentlemanly young men like myself," and Miles glanced
approvingly on his new and fashionable costume.  "If she still turns a
cold eye upon me that worthy dad of mine must manage to get the young
fisherman out of the way--it won't do to have him interfering--and with
a clear stage I shall not have insuperable difficulties to overcome, I
flatter myself."

Still Miles had to remain inactive some days longer.  At last he
received a note from his father telling him to go, if he pleased, to the
fete at Texford, and simply state, if asked, that he was the son of a
tenant, saying that he was spending a few days at Hurlston, and had come
instead of his father, who was unable to attend.  "I find that Dame
Halliburt is going, and I have no doubt she will take her daughter, as
she calls her, with her," he added.  "You will thus have an opportunity
of meeting the girl under more favourable circumstances than before, and
if you mind your P's and Q's it will be your own fault if you do not
work yourself into her good graces."

Miles received this communication with intense satisfaction.  Having a
thoroughly good opinion of himself, he had now little doubt that he
should succeed in his enterprise.



CHAPTER TWENTY SIX.

THE FETE AT TEXFORD.

No summer's day could be more bright and lovely than that on which the
fete at Texford took place.  Visitors of high and low degree--for it was
to be a meeting of all classes--were seen at an early hour moving along
the roads from every direction towards the park, some in carriages, some
on horseback, others in light tilted waggons and carts, and no
inconsiderable number on foot.

The distance between Hurlston and Texford was upwards of two miles by
the road, but the inhabitants of the village could enjoy a pleasanter
and much shorter path across the fields.

The dame arrived at Downside in good time to escort May.  She to the
last felt some hesitation, however, about going, as it was evident that
Miss Jane was doubtful as to the propriety of the proceeding, but Miss
Mary, with whom she had discussed the subject over and over again,
always concluded with the remark that though it might be dangerous to
trust a gay and a giddy girl in such a scene, their steady and sensible
May was not likely in consequence to gain a taste for the frivolities of
the world, and that, as she had never seen anything of the sort, she
could not fail to be amused, while, from her unremitting attention to
them, she certainly deserved a holiday.  May, not to appear out of place
while in company with the good fishwife, had dressed herself in a
costume as much as possible like that which a well-to-do fisherman's
daughter would wear; and although she had not intended to produce any
such effect, her neat straw hat and cloak set her beauty off to even
greater advantage.

Adam, who had with the dame's earnest persuasion consented to accompany
her, waited outside.  Jacob, strange to say, had declined accompanying
his mother and May.  He had work to attend to on board the _Nancy_, and
had no fancy for jigging about with the girls of the village, while May
did not intend to join in the revels.  Jacob, indeed, felt that he
should be out of place.  He knew that it would not do to be seen
standing near his mother and May all the time, and he should take no
pleasure in wandering about away from them.

May was perhaps relieved when she heard that Jacob was not coming.
Although she regarded him with esteem for his honesty and bravery, and
his devotion to her, she felt instinctively that the less he was in her
society, the better for him.

"You will come home early," said Miss Jane, as she wished her good-bye;
"and you will keep to your resolution in not mixing with the throng more
than you can help."

"You must tell me all that takes place when you come back," said Miss
Mary.  "If you see Miss Castleton and her brothers, and you will
scarcely fail to do so, I shall like to hear all about them.  Julia must
have grown into a tall young lady, and Harry and Algernon into
full-grown men.  I shall be interested in hearing what Harry is like
especially; he was a great favourite of mine when a boy.  He has now
become a fine gallant officer.  I wish I could let him know how much I
should like to see him; for although Sir Ralph and Lady Castleton have
been so inattentive, we should not, therefore, feel the less regard for
their son, and I am sure he would not hesitate to come, if he remembered
that we are here."

This was said in the presence of the dame.

"If I have a chance of speaking to Mr Harry, I will tell him," she
said.  "I will remind him how he saved our Maiden May from the bull, and
maybe he will remember Adam and me, and come up and speak to us, as he
won't have forgotten his trip in the _Nancy_, though he is not likely to
wish to take another."

"Tell him, then, that we hope to see him," said Miss Mary.

The dame promised to deliver the message.

When the dame and her companions arrived at Texford, she remarked that
the appearance of the place was totally changed.  There stood the house,
certainly, as usual, but the park looked like a huge fair.  There were
numerous booths and tents in all directions, and swings and roundabouts,
targets for archery, courses marked off for running races, arrangements
for the old game of quintain, for Sir Ralph was somewhat of an
antiquarian, and wished to re-introduce it.  There were three bands of
music, the best stationed near the house, and the others at, a
sufficient distance not to interfere with it.  A band of Morris dancers
had been arranged by Sir Ralph's desire, and there were a couple of
jugglers who went about performing feats which greatly astonished the
rustics.  As May and her friends passed along the lake, they saw a
number of boats which had been brought there from Morbury, that races
and other aquatic sports might be indulged in.  Indeed, everything had
been prepared which could possibly be thought of for affording amusement
to the assemblage.

The sports on the lake were to be, as the dame suspected, under the
charge of Mr Harry and his naval friend, Captain Headland, who were,
however, both too energetic not to take a part in everything that was
going forward.

The guests of higher degree were already assembling on the broad steps
or the gravel walk in front of the house, when the dame and May found
themselves among the crowd of tenants and others on the lawn, who felt
that it would be disrespectful until invited to approach the
neighbourhood of their betters.

Mr Groocock was going about attending to the multifarious duties
imposed on him.  Though he was as active as ever, his task appeared to
give him more trouble than pleasure.

"Glad to see you, dame, and Miss May and friend Adam," he said, as he
once passed close to where they were standing.

"Thank you, Mr Groocock.  It's a beautiful sight," observed the dame,
in reply.

"Well enough," answered the steward, "but the work it imposes is more
suited to young limbs, than to mine," and he passed on to give some
directions.

The signal for the sports to begin was now given, and a large portion of
the people collected were soon engaged according to their tastes--some
dancing, some running races, others amusing themselves with the various
games, and others witnessing the feats of the jugglers, or looking on at
the pantomimic performances of the Morris dancers.

It required some exertion, however, of the directors of the fete to set
the guests in motion, or to keep them entertained in the variety of ways
which had been prepared for their amusement.  Among the most active who
were thus engaged were Harry Castleton and his friend Headland, it being
more in accordance with Algernon's taste to devote himself to the guests
of higher degree.

"I must go and get yonder crowd of rustics under weigh again," Harry
observed to Headland, on seeing a number of people standing idle near
one of the spots devoted to dancing.

Dame Halliburt and her companions had taken up a position not far off
it, on a grassy mound under the shade of a tree, where, a little removed
from the crowd, they could observe all that was going forward.  Harry
was passing by when he saw the dame, who had recognised him, following
him with her eyes.  It is possible that at the same time he may have
caught sight of May's sweet countenance; at all events he stopped, and
going up to the dame, said--

"I think I ought to know you."

"Yes, please you, Mr Harry; and maybe you remember the trip you took in
the _Nancy_ with my good man here."

"Ah, how fares it with you, my friend?" he said, shaking Adam by the
hand.  "I remember the trip right well."

"You have pretty nigh grown out of remembrance, but I am right glad to
see you, Mr Harry," answered Adam.

"Maybe you recollect, sir, saving our Maiden May from a wild bull?" said
the dame, looking towards May, who blushed as she spoke, for Harry
glanced up, and her eyes met his fixed on her lovely countenance with an
unmistakable expression of admiration.

"I was very glad, I know, to have been of service, though I suspect I
ran very little personal risk in performing the exploit," said Harry,
still looking at May, and wondering at the delicate beauty and refined
manner of the fisherman's daughter.

"I suspect that I was too young to have thanked you for the service you
rendered me as I ought to have done," she said, "for my mother has since
told me that had it not been for you I might have been killed by the
fierce creature."

"All I did I remember was to throw your red cloak at the animal, and
that required no great exertion of courage or strength," answered Harry,
smiling.  "I then ran off with you, and lifted you over the gate.  I can
only feel thankful, now you bring the circumstance to my recollection,
that I came up at the moment to save you," answered Harry.  "But are you
not going to join the dancers?"

"I promised some kind friends with whom I live to avoid mixing with the
crowd," answered May; "and they would especially object to my dancing.
Indeed, I confess that I have never danced in my life."

"Very strange," said Harry.  "Who are they, may I ask?"

"The Miss Pembertons," answered May.  "You surely, Mr Castleton,
remember them, and they desired mother and me to express their great
wish to see you again."

"Oh, yes, my good cousins, of course I do.  Pray tell them that I will
call upon them to-morrow, or the first day I possibly can.  I am not
surprised that they do not quite approve of dancing; but have they
actually prohibited you?  We shall form some fresh sets shortly nearer
the house, which my sister and other ladies will join, and can you not
be tempted to come too?  You would have no difficulty, as the figures
are not intricate, and you need only move through them as you see others
do."

May smiled, but shook her head.

"No," she said, "the Miss Pembertons made no exception with respect to
those with whom I might dance, and I fear that they would object as much
to my dancing in a quiet set as they would to my joining those who are
rushing up and down so energetically out there;" and May looked towards
the spot where a country dance of rustics was going on, the swains
dragging their partners along at no small risk of pulling off their
arms, though sometimes the case was reversed, and the damsels were
engaged in hauling on their more awkward partners.  "I must say that I
have no reason to regret not being among them," she added, with her eyes
full of laughter as she watched the vehement movements of the dancers to
which she had called Harry's attention.

"Oh, but we shall move much more quietly in the dance I ask you to join,
and I am sure it will suit your taste better," he said.

Still May declined firmly, though gently.  Harry was convinced that she
was not to be persuaded.  Had he consulted his own inclination he would
have stopped and talked to her as long as she remained, but he
remembered that he had numerous duties to perform.

"Are you likely to be walking about the grounds, or do you intend to
remain where you are?" he asked.

May turned to the dame for the answer.

"While this sort of fun goes on I do not think we can be better off than
where we are," answered the dame.

"I will see you again," said Harry, who admired the manner in which she
obeyed her friends' wishes, and hesitated to repeat his request.
"Perhaps my sister would like to send a message to our cousins.  Pray
tell them that she regards them with the same feeling she has always
done."

"I will gladly carry the message to the Miss Pembertons," said May.

"Thank you," said Harry.  "I will try to get my sister to give it you
herself," and he tore himself away.

"What a lovely creature that little girl with the blue eyes has grown
into," Harry thought to himself.  "I remember she was a sweet child, and
now she is as near perfection as I can fancy any human being.  I wonder
if I should think so if I saw her dressed as a young lady in a ball
room.  Yes, I am sure of it--any dress would become her.  I must get
Julia to see her.  And yet I do not know, she might possibly say
something I should not like.  Maiden May, what a pretty name.  She
spoke, too, of living with our cousins.  Can she be their servant?  Yet
she does not speak or look like one.  Her manner and tone of voice is
perfectly that of a young lady.  But I must not think too much about
her, or I shall forget what I have to do."

Harry hurried on, trying to collect his thoughts, which the vision of
Maiden May had scattered.

He had now to set a troop of boys running races, now to arrange another
rustic dance.

It was some time before he made his way back to the house, where his
friend Headland had got before him, and was now engaged with Julia and
other friends in arranging the sets to be formed by ladies and
gentlemen, and in which some of the daughters of the upper class of
tenantry and shopkeepers would take their place.

Harry excused himself from leading out a partner on the plea that he had
so many duties to perform, and before long he again found himself
approaching the spot where Adam and his wife were standing.  As he did
so he saw a man come up to them and make a low bow, beginning to speak
to May, at which she turned away with a look of annoyance, not unmingled
with scorn, while she put her arm into that of the dame.

So Harry interpreted the expression of her countenance.  Had it not been
for this Harry would have hesitated to approach.

"I am sure, Miss, I do not wish to offend you, and I have a thousand
pardons to ask," he heard the stranger say.  "It's all a mistake to
suppose that I intended to be otherwise than polite and respectful."

The dame, as she drew May nearer to her, looked up at her husband, and
was going to speak.  Adam made a step or two towards the young man, and
looking him firmly in the face, said--

"This is not the place where I can treat you as you deserve; but there
is only one thing I have to say, that is to take yourself off, and don't
come near our Maiden May if you wish to keep a whole skin on your back."

Young Miles, for it was he, knowing that he was perfectly safe from
personal violence in Texford Park, putting on a swaggering look, was
about to reply, when he saw Harry coming up, and observed an angry frown
on the young officer's brow.

"I'll make you pay dearly for this, old fellow," he muttered between his
teeth, and turning round, slunk away towards the nearest group of
persons, among whom he soon concealed himself.

"Who was that young man?" asked Harry, glancing in the direction Miles
had gone.  "He seems to have caused you some annoyance," and he looked
at May, who however did not reply.

The dame spoke for her.

"He is an audacious young fellow, who came to Hurlston a few days ago,
and has had the impertinence to speak to our Maiden May when she was
alone out walking; and if it had not been for our Jacob, I don't know
what she would have done.  He is the son of the miller at Hurlston, and
we have reason to think he would speak to her again if he had the
chance, so she has had to keep inside the grounds at Downside ever
since, till she came out with my husband and me, and we little thought
he would have been here; but it only shows what he is capable of."

"What, did that fellow dare to speak to you against your wish?"
exclaimed Harry, indignantly.  "I must take measures to prevent his
doing so again.  If the miller cannot keep him in order, I must beg Mr
Groocock to desire him to send the fellow away again.  You say he only
came here lately," he added, turning to the dame.

"Yes, Mr Harry, he only came to Hurlston lately, though he was born and
bred in the place.  He was sent away after his mother's death some four
years ago, and has not been back that I know of till lately."

"Depend on it he shall not cause you any further annoyance," said Harry,
again addressing May, "and pray do not let the matter trouble you
further.  I scarcely dare ask whether you are still resolved not to
dance?"

"Quite as resolved as at first," answered May.  "Even if I greatly
wished to do so, I could not break my promise to my kind friends."

Harry took notice of her reply.

"Surely she would not speak of them as her kind friends if she was in
their service," he thought, and he longed to ascertain the position she
held in his cousins' family.  Her costume gave him no clue, but her
manner, her tone of voice, and her mode of expressing herself, showed
him that she was a person of education.  He was greatly puzzled.  He
longed to ask her more questions, but was afraid of appearing
inquisitive.

"When the people begin to get tired of their present amusements, we are
going to have some boat racing on the lake, and as soon as it grows dark
there are to be fireworks, which will have a pretty effect on the water.
I hope that you will remain to see them," he said.

"I regret that we cannot do so," answered May.  "Neither of the ladies
are well, and I never like to be absent, especially from Miss Mary, long
at a time, as Miss Jane having a cold there is no one else to read to
her."

"Are you fond of reading?" asked Harry.

"Yes.  Indeed, it is the chief source of amusement I have," answered
May.  "I have read, I believe, every book the Miss Pembertons possess,
and with their usual kindness they have procured a good many fresh ones
for me.  Though Miss Jane is not an admirer of the French, she allowed
me to study their language, so that I can read it with ease, though I
fear that I should find myself greatly at a loss were I to attempt to
speak it."

"When you have the opportunity of hearing it spoken, I am sure you will
soon get over that difficulty," observed Harry.

"I hope to do so if I am ever able to mix with French people, or to
obtain a French master."

"I am considered to speak it well, and perhaps you will allow me when I
call to give you a lesson," said Harry, now thoroughly convinced that,
at all events, the fisherman's daughter was not in a menial capacity in
his cousins' family.

He felt relieved.  There would be nothing derogatory in his attempting
to become better acquainted with the fair young creature with whom he
had been so greatly struck.  Though very unwilling at present to leave
her, he was conscious that he ought not, with so many eyes likely to be
turned in that direction, to remain longer in her society.

"I must attend to my duties," he said, nodding to Adam and his wife.
Unconsciously he lifted his hat to May with the same respect he would
have shown to any high born young lady in the land.

May watched him till he was lost in the crowd.  If he by chance
approached young Miles, that worthy kept out of his way.  Harry had
undertaken to start the rowers on the lake with the assistance of
Headland.  It was remarked that he made two or three mistakes, which
were, however, remedied by his friend.  His eyes continually wandered
among the crowd on the banks as if in search of some one.  Headland
rallied him when they were alone for a few minutes.

"Why, Harry, you look quite bewildered!  Has anything happened?" he
asked.

"Yes, indeed," laughed Harry, who had no secrets with Headland.  "I have
made a discovery.  I have seen such a lovely girl.  I wanted to point
her out to you and Julia, but I could not find you.  I went a second
time myself to be satisfied that I had not gazed at her with
rose-coloured spectacles, but I found that she was even superior, if
possible, to what she at first appeared.  I am romantic, you know, but I
tell you she is perfectly charming."

"Who is she?" asked Headland.

"Only a fisherman's daughter, but she is living with my cousins, and,
from what I understand, has been educated by them, though they certainly
could not have given her the graceful manner and sweet tone of voice so
remarkable in her had she not possessed them naturally."

"My dear Harry, charming as she may be do not lose your heart to her, or
attempt to win hers in return, if she is of the parentage you tell me,
for although I have no right to lay any stress on the point of birth,
yet I am very sure that others will, and you may be entangled in a way
which will produce much suffering, and may be painful to her as well as
to you."

"I have been thinking of that," answered Harry, "and if she were only an
ordinarily pretty girl I would at once put up my helm and run away from
her; but she is so perfectly lovely that I feel capable of overcoming
every possible objection, could I win her."

"Perhaps when you see her again you may discover some slight defects
which were not discernible at your first interview," observed Headland,
smiling.  "Did I not think this very possible I would advise you not to
call at your cousins as you propose.  Otherwise I should certainly say,
keep out of her way.  I know you too well not to feel sure that you
would not wish to win her love without feeling sure that you could make
her your wife."

"I should be a wretch indeed if I wished otherwise," said Harry.  "If
you saw her perhaps you would agree with me that she is the essence of
all that is pure and modest, and I could not approach her with any other
thought in my mind."

"For that very reason, Harry, I would advise you simply to pay your
cousins the visit you propose, and then keep away from Downside till you
are about to join another ship."

"At all events I will go there to-morrow," said Harry.  "If I find that
I am mistaken there can be no harm done; but I am not blind, and I am
too well accustomed to ladies' society not to be able to distinguish
between what is refined, and graceful, and lady-like, and their
opposites," exclaimed Harry.

"Well, be cautious what you say, and how you look and act," answered
Headland, knowing Harry's impetuous character.

The friends again parted.  The aquatic sports were concluded, the
fireworks over, and the fete in the park came to an end.

The more select guests, however, had been invited to remain for a dance
in the house.

Some of the young ladies thought Lieutenant Castleton was much less
entertaining than they had expected to find him, for though he danced
indefatigably, he had very little to say for himself.

Headland made himself as agreeable as usual, though it was remarked that
his eye brightened and a smile lighted up his countenance whenever Julia
Castleton passed near him, or he had an opportunity of speaking to her.



CHAPTER TWENTY SEVEN.

HARRY'S VISIT TO DOWNSIDE.

"And what do you think of my friend Headland?  I have not overpraised
him, have I?" asked Harry, when he happened to find himself alone with
Julia in the garden the morning after the fete.

"You certainly have not overpraised him," answered Julia, examining some
flowers amid which they were walking.  "I do not remember that you ever
said very much in his favour."

"Oh, yes, I did, I am sure, for I admire him more than any other fellow
I know, and I am sure when I was last at home I constantly told you of
the gallant things he had done."

"That was before I saw him, and I suppose I forgot all about it."

"Well, I am glad you like him, indeed, I am sure everybody must.  But,
by-the-bye, Julia, do not fall in love with him, however gallant a
fellow he is, or I shall be sorry that I brought him here, though I
should never suppose you likely to be guilty of such a weakness.
Perhaps I ought to have told you at once that I know, to a certainty, he
is not a marrying man.  He and I have frequently talked the subject
over, and he has assured me that he should never think of taking a wife
unless, in the first place, she was charming and lovely, and refined and
highly educated, and perfect in every way, indeed, next door to an
angel, and would love him entirely for himself.  Perhaps also I ought to
have told you before that he is a man of no family, or rather he does
not know to what family he belongs, as he was separated from them when
an infant, and has lost all means by which he can discover who his
parents were."

Harry did not observe the colour which his remarks brought to his
sister's cheeks while they walked on, for she turned her head as if
looking at the flowers at her side.

"I have not liked to mention this circumstance to any one, not thinking
it fair to my friend, as it would set people talking about him.  But you
well know how very tenacious our father is on the subject of birth, and
so I fancy is our mother, and they would blame me excessively if you
were to captivate Headland and be captivated by him; and Algernon, who,
I confess, put me up to speak to you on the subject, says he is certain
that they would never give their consent to your marrying my friend,
though, to confess the truth, there is nothing I should like so much.
In fact, Julia, whether or not he thinks you come up to his standard of
perfection, I cannot help fancying that he admires you excessively, and
so, as Algernon insisted on it, I felt that I must warn you in time."

"In time!" murmured Julia.  "You should have said this before."

"I never should have thought of saying it at all, my dear sister, if it
had not been for Algernon," answered Harry.  "You know, intimate as I am
with Headland, I could not say anything of the sort to him, or warn him
not to make love to you.  And Algernon agrees with me on that point, as
to a man of his delicate honour and sensitive feeling, it would be
equivalent to telling him he must leave Texford, or it would appear as
if I wanted to put the notion into his head."

"Oh, pray do not on any account say a word to him!" exclaimed Julia.
"You would not be justified in saying anything which might make your
friend suppose he is not welcome at Texford."

"Oh, no, depend on my discretion," said Harry, now for the first time
observing Julia's countenance, which in spite of her efforts betrayed
the agitation of her feelings.  "My dear Julia, I almost wish that I had
not spoken.  I am afraid that what I have said has in some way annoyed
you.  Believe me, that nothing would give me greater pleasure in life
than to see you become Headland's wife; in fact, it used to be one of my
boyish dreams of happiness.  But, as I said, I felt that I must do as
Algernon wished, and warn you, should he pay you any particular
attention, not to encourage him, as also not to allow the admiration you
naturally have for him to ripen into a warmer feeling.  There, I have
done my duty, and I will not say another word on the subject, and I
would not have said it now if I had not been persuaded that I ought to
do so for your happiness," and honest Harry stopped at last, greatly to
his sister's relief.

She pressed her brother's hand, showing that she believed his sincerity,
and then hurried to her room.  She would rather have remained in the
fresh air, but she was afraid of meeting any one, and she felt that she
could not just then enter into conversation; least of all would she wish
to meet Captain Headland.

Her brother's words had suddenly revealed to her the state of her own
heart.  She had heard Captain Headland praised and spoken of as one of
the most gallant among the gallant officers of the day, and he had
himself recounted to her in modest language some of the daring deeds he
had performed; and yet this brave officer when speaking to her was so
gentle and deferential, that he seemed to feel as if he was addressing a
being infinitely his superior.  He evidently preferred her society to
that of any other lady in the house, as he always, when an opportunity
occurred, singled her out from the rest; and several times, when he
fancied she was not watching him, she had observed his eyes fixed on
her, while, whenever he addressed her, his features brightened up in a
way which she had not observed when he was speaking to any one else.
She could not be mistaken with regard to his manner towards her, for she
was confident, noble and honourable as he was, he would not trifle with
her feelings.

"Harry ought, indeed, to have told me this before," she said with a
sigh.  "It is now too late.  If Headland really loves me, and I am sure
he does, I cannot be mistaken.  If he proposes to me I must not leave
him to suppose that I am indifferent to his love."

During the morning Miss Castleton did not appear, and many enquiries
were made.  General Sampson especially was very anxious to know what had
become of her, and having his suspicions, was not satisfied that they
might not possibly be correct till Captain Headland came in alone, and,
when asked, assured him that he had not seen Miss Castleton since the
morning.

"Ah!  I thought, captain, that she might have put your nautical
experience into requisition, and employed you in rowing the boat on the
lake."

"No," said Headland, "I hope to have the pleasure of being employed in
that way in the afternoon, and I shall be glad if any other lady will
trust herself to my pilotage."

Harry, in the meantime, recollecting that he had promised to pay the
Miss Pembertons a visit, ordered his horse, and took the road to
Hurlston.

As he approached the village, having never been at Downside, he thought
he would first call at Adam Halliburt's cottage and enquire the way.
The cottage, from its remarkable structure, he remembered well.

Calling to a boy to take care of his horse, he dismounted and knocked at
the door.  The dame opened it.

"This is an honour, Mr Harry," she said, begging him to enter, with a
look of pleased surprise on her countenance.  "To think that now you are
a grand officer you have come to see poor folks like us," she continued,
dusting a chair, while Adam in his frank, hearty way held out his hand
to welcome his guest.  He would probably have done the same had the king
come to his cottage.

"To tell you the truth, I am on my way to Downside, and thought I would
call here first to enquire the road," said Harry.  "I hope you and your
daughter were not tired by walking about so much yesterday at the fete."

"Thank you, Mr Harry, not a bit; besides, as our May didn't dance she
hadn't so much cause to be tired as most of the young people had."

"She looks somewhat delicate, and ill able to go through what many girls
would think nothing of," observed Harry, for he wished to get the dame
to talk about her daughter.

"Bless you, she is strong and hearty as she ever was, and some time ago
when both the ladies were ill, she sat up night after night watching
them, and was none the worse for it, and fine weather or foul she goes
about the village for that matter all the year round, visiting the poor
and sick when the Miss Pembertons cannot go to them," and the good dame
ran on expatiating on her favourite theme--the praises of May.

Harry was somewhat surprised to hear her speak in such unmeasured terms
of her daughter's good qualities.

"The worthy woman naturally appreciates her daughter, and in her honest
pride feels that she can never speak too highly of her," he thought.

While she was speaking the door opened, and May entered, looking bright
and blooming as usual, and Harry thought her even more lovely than the
day before.  She started, and the colour rose slightly to her cheeks, as
she saw him.  She evidently did not expect to find a visitor.

Harry naturally enquired if she had enjoyed the fete.

"Yes.  She had been amused at all events," she answered with a smile.
"And it was a pleasure to be able afterwards to describe it to the Miss
Pembertons.  I mentioned meeting you, sir," she added, "and they look
forward to seeing you before long."

Harry of course said he was on his way to pay his respects to his
cousins, but being uncertain as to their house, had called at her
father's to enquire which it was.

"Our May will be able to show it to you, Mr Harry," said the dame.
"She seldom likes to be long away from the ladies, and I suppose will
soon be going back there."

May hesitated.  She did not look upon Mr Castleton as a stranger, but
she naturally felt a degree of timidity at the thoughts of walking with
him alone.  When, however, she looked up into his frank open
countenance, after he had sat talking for some time, the feeling
vanished.

He told Adam how well he recollected his trip in the _Nancy_, and
declared that even now he should like to take another.  Then he
remembered the little blue-eyed girl he had seen rush into Adam's arms,
utterly regardless of his wet clothes.

Maiden May smiled.

"I remember that I was dreadfully frightened at seeing the boat coming
in, thinking you would all be lost."

She was about to make another remark, which would possibly have greatly
puzzled Harry, when looking up at the clock, she exclaimed--

"I had no idea it had been so late.  I got leave to run down and see you
for a few minutes, mother, and ought to have been back again by this
time."

Harry instantly rose.

"I hope that I have not detained you; but if you will kindly, as your
mother proposes, show me the Miss Pembertons' house, I shall be grateful
to you."

May replied that she should be happy to do so, and Harry wishing the
fisherman and his wife good-bye, went to look for the boy who had charge
of his horse.  May, stopping to say a few words to the dame, came out by
the time he had returned to the door of the cottage.

Harry, instead of mounting, taking the rein in his hand, walked by her
side.

The subject of their conversation might seem commonplace, though perhaps
it was interesting to themselves.  Harry was at length led to speak of
some of his adventures at sea, from a question May had asked him, and on
mentioning one of the battles in which he was engaged, he was surprised
to find that his companion was thoroughly well acquainted with the
details as well as with all the events which had lately taken place.
During the walk Harry could not accuse himself of having said anything
which could have been construed into making love to the fisherman's fair
daughter.

On reaching Downside May went into the house to send for the gardener to
hold his horse, and to announce his visit.  The two ladies came to the
door to welcome him.

"I should have known you by your voice," said Miss Mary, taking his
hand, "though you have grown from a boy into a man since we met you
last.  But there is something I discern in a voice which never alters:
yours is the tone I like to hear."

"We must not flatter Harry, and I do not do it," observed Miss Jane.  "I
see the same expression in his countenance which won my regard when he
was a midshipman.  You recollect him, May, do you not?"

"I recognised Mr Castleton at once yesterday," said May without
hesitation.  "I should have been ungrateful had I not," and May turned
her blue eyes towards the young officer.

His met them, and, strange to say, May speedily withdrew hers, while a
slight blush rose on her cheeks.

"I am indebted to Miss Halliburt for finding my way here so easily,"
observed Harry, "for I have never been in this part of Hurlston before,
and did not know where your cottage was situated.  What a beautiful spot
it is.  If I ever settle on shore, it is the sort of place I should
like, with just that peep through the trees to remind me of the ocean
which I have been wont to live on.  Perhaps if peace lasts I shall be
compelled to take up my abode on shore."

"Grant that it may," said Miss Jane.  "I should think the nations of
Europe must be sick of the fearful strife which has raged so long, and
will be very unwilling to recommence it."

"Things do not look much like it," answered Harry.  "The First Consul
has shown no great love for peace; and as I wish to obtain my promotion,
I confess that I should like to have a little more fighting before
long."

"I suppose that is but a natural wish for you to entertain," observed
Miss Jane with a sigh.  "Yet I would that you saw the case in a
different light, and might thus be led to reflect how contrary is the
love of fighting to the religion of mercy and peace which we profess.
And even though I acknowledge that fighting may be necessary for the
defence of one's country, we should mourn the stern necessity which
compels men to engage in it."

Harry had no wish to dispute the point with his cousins, although
perhaps he did not quite enter into their views on the subject.

He gladly accepted their invitation to remain to luncheon.  As he
watched May attending to Miss Mary, he could not help remarking how
lady-like and graceful was every movement she made; he could scarcely
believe that she had been born and bred in a fisherman's cottage, for
honest and worthy as Adam and his wife appeared, they were plain and
blunt in their manners, though the dame was in some respects certainly
above her class.

"We must show you the grounds," said Miss Jane, when luncheon was over,
"if you are not in a hurry to return home."

Harry was sure he should not be missed at Texford, and would very much
like to see their garden.

The ladies got their bonnets and shawls and went out, May leading Miss
Mary.

"Our dear May has quite spoilt me," observed the blind lady.  "Instead
of letting me learn to grope my way about, she always insists on my
taking her arm, so that I can step out without fear of falling over
anything in the path."

May looked affectionately at Miss Mary, as if she felt the duty was one
in which she delighted.

They had just left the house when a girl came running up, saying that
her mother was ill, and would be grateful if Miss Jane would come down
and visit her.

"I must go at once, Mary," she said, "and leave you and May to do the
honours to Harry.  I daresay I shall be back before you go," she added,
turning to him, "as the cottage is not far off."

Harry begged her not to hurry.

The grounds, though not extensive, were very pretty, for the Miss
Pembertons had done much to improve them since their arrival.  There was
a lawn on the garden side of the house, with a number of flower beds and
shrubberies and walks, and here and there seats, with a rustic arbour
covered with creepers.  At the further end of the grounds, where a
spring of water bubbling up formed a pool surrounded by rocks, over
which moisture-loving plants had been taught to creep, was a grotto,
artificially constructed of masses of rock.  Miss Mary called Harry's
attention to it, as she and her sister were very proud of the work, it
having been formed under their directions, and she begged him especially
to admire some figures formed with shells, a few only of which were
finished, though they intended that the whole of the interior should be
ornamented in the same style.

"This is just the sort of thing I should like to work at," exclaimed
Harry.  "It should be a thoroughly marine grotto.  I see that there is a
covey of flying fish already finished.  You might have Neptune and his
car and attendant tritons at the further end, dolphins and swordfish and
other inhabitants of the sea on either side.  I must compliment the
artist who executed those flying fish.  They are most natural."

"Here she is, then, to hear your praises," said Miss Mary.  "But we
shall be very glad if you will come and assist, as you take an interest
in the sort of thing, as I am afraid that otherwise it will be a long
time before it is completed."

"I shall be very glad to be of use and to serve under Miss Halliburt,
for she has made so admirable a beginning that she must remain director
of the works.  Will you accept my services?" he asked, looking at May.

"I cannot refuse them when they are so frankly offered," she said,
looking up somewhat timidly as she spoke; "though I must leave the Miss
Pembertons to decide who is to be director."

As some baskets of shells and cement for sticking them on were in the
grotto, Harry, with May's assistance, tried his skill and produced a
very creditable flying fish in addition to the covey she had commenced.

"I am very certain I could not have produced the result had I not had
your model to copy from," said Harry.

Miss Mary seemed as much interested as if she could have seen the
designs, and May and Harry worked on till Miss Jane returned,
apologising to him for her long delay.  He thought she had been absent
only a few minutes, and was quite surprised to find that an hour or more
had passed away.

They had still some portion of the grounds to visit, and on their return
to the house he was surprised to find, on looking at a clock in the
hall, that he had barely time to gallop back to Texford and to dress for
dinner.



CHAPTER TWENTY EIGHT.

MILES GAFFIN'S PROPOSAL.

Jacob had been at work on board the _Nancy_ when he found that it was
time to return home for dinner.  He caught sight, as he approached the
cottage, of May, as she and Harry Castleton were setting off on their
way to Downside.

"Who can that be?" he thought, a strange feeling oppressing his heart.
"It is not that scoundrel young Gaffin.  No, no, she would not walk so
quietly alongside him; but I don't like it, that I don't, though, as far
as she is concerned, it's all right; she would not do what is wrong, I
am sure of that, and mother must know all about it."

Jacob watched May and Harry as long as they were in sight, and then
something like a groan broke from his bosom.  After some time he entered
the cottage.  The information he gained from his mother did not make him
much happier, for he could not believe that a young man such as his
mother described Mr Harry could see May without falling in love with
her; and if so!  Poor Jacob groaned as he thought of what might be the
consequence.  He mechanically hurried over his dinner without appetite,
and then, taking a basket, went off to the beach to collect some more
shells, and to fetch some which he had deputed some fisher-boys living
at a considerable distance along the coast to obtain for him.  He felt
more downcast than he had ever been in his life as he now began to
realise the wide distance which existed between himself and May.

"Of course she is just like an angel of light to a poor rough chap like
me; yet I love the very ground she treads on," he murmured to himself,
as he went on.  "There's not anything I would not do if she was to ask
me, yet if I was to tell her so, I don't know what she would say; it
would not make her angry, it would frighten her though, I am afraid, and
maybe she would be very sorry, and tell me I must not think of such a
thing.  Of course she would.  I wish I had never been born," and Jacob
felt as if he could have thrown himself down on the sand and cried his
big, honest heart out.  Though the struggle was a rough one, he overcame
his feelings for the moment, and trudged on.

"I said I would get some shells for her and the ladies, and I will; and
if I do but have a sight of her but for a moment it is recompense
enough."

Jacob went on collecting shells on the way, till he reached the furthest
point to which he intended to go, where he met the lads who had
collected a good supply.  He was returning pretty heavily laden under
the cliffs when, weary with his walk, he sat down on a bank of sand
thrown up by the tide, placing his basket by his side.  Thoughts such as
seldom troubled him were passing through his mind when he saw a man
approaching him from the direction of Hurlston.  As the stranger drew
near he recognised Miles Gaffin.

The miller coming up to him slapped him on the shoulder and sat down
close to him, and in the frank hearty tone he often assumed, said--

"How fares it with you, Jacob?  Why, lad, you look somewhat out of
sorts."

"Do I, Mr Gaffin?  It's more than I wish to do then," answered Jacob,
who had no desire to enter into conversation with the miller.

"Perhaps I know the reason why you are not as happy as you would wish to
be," said Gaffin, fixing his eyes on the young man's face.  "There is a
pretty girl in the case whom you thought you would like to make your
wife."

"Every man's thoughts are his own, Mr Gaffin," answered Jacob, "and I
do not see how you can know mine more than I can know yours."

Miles Gaffin laughed, not pleasantly.

"The old can read the thoughts of the young better than you may think.
Now, lad, I tell you that you are following a will-o'-the-wisp if you
ever think to make the girl your father saved from the wreck your wife.
She would laugh you to scorn if you breathed such a notion in her ear,
and tell you to go and drown yourself, or be off to foreign lands so
that she might never set eyes on you again.  Don't I say what is true,
lad?"

In spite of his resolution a groan escaped Jacob's breast.

"I thought so," continued his tormentor.  "Now, Jacob, I have known you
from a boy, and I will be frank with you.  You fancy that I want my son
to succeed where you are certain to fail, but I have no such notion in
my head, though there is a difference, you will allow, between him and
you.  I don't, however, guide the young man's proceedings, or pretend to
dictate to him, he is old enough and clever enough to act for himself;
and I want it to be understood that I have nothing to do with his
movements.  You will mention that if you have the opportunity.  And now,
my honest Jacob, if you are disposed for a trip to sea just let me know,
and I will give you a chance which will suit your taste, I have a
notion, and fill your pockets with gold.  I know I can trust you, so I
can say to you what I would not to others.  Are you inclined for a trip
on board the _Lively_?  There is a berth for you if you are.  Whatever
way you may think she is employed, I can tell you that she carries a
commission as good as any of the king's cruisers, though I do not
pretend to say that in peace time she does not engage in a little free
trade occasionally, yet that is not the business which I am employed
on."

Miles had laid his hand on Jacob's arm so as to prevent him rising,
which he showed an intention of doing.

"Do you wish to be convinced, lad?  Look here, I know you can read," and
Gaffin drew from his pocket a paper signed by Mr Pitt desiring any
naval officers or others, who might fall in with Miles Gaffin, the
bearer, not to interfere with him, he being engaged in the secret
service of His Majesty's Government.

Jacob read the paper, and though he did not very clearly comprehend its
meaning, it made him feel a greater fear, if not respect, for the bearer
than he had before entertained.

Gaffin might possibly have shown one from the First Consul of France, of
the same description, had he been disposed, but that was kept for use on
the other side of the Channel.  He was not the only person so employed
at that time by the rival powers, to whom it was of the greatest
importance to obtain information of each others preparations.

"You see, my friend, that I invite you to engage in the service of your
country.  We want a few fresh steady hands, and if you know any lads who
would like to accompany you, your recommendation will be in their
favour."

At no time could Gaffin have made such a proposition with a better
prospect of success.  Still the honest fellow was far from trusting his
tempter.  He knew well enough that whatever Gaffin might say to the
contrary, the _Lively_ was engaged in smuggling, though she certainly
had escaped capture in a wonderful way, which was perhaps now partly
accounted for.  His father had always set his face against contraband
traders, and had warned his sons never to have anything to do with them.
But there was another motive influencing him still more; May was in
danger of being insulted by the son of the very man who was trying to
persuade him to leave home.  She might scorn him, but he would stop near
her to watch over her safety.  He would never leave his father and
mother either without their sanction.

Gaffin, not aware of the thoughts which were passing through his mind,
watched him for some minutes without speaking.

"Well, my lad, what do you say to my offer?" he at length asked.  "That
I am not going to leave my old father and mother whatever you or any
other man may say to me, Mr Gaffin," answered Jacob, putting his arm
through the handle of his basket and rising.  "Good evening to you."  He
walked on.

Gaffin after sitting for a moment, somewhat taken aback, followed him.
"Come, think of my offer, lad, I wish you well.  I have no reason to do
otherwise," he said in his most insinuating tone.

"It's no use your wasting words on me, Mr Gaffin; if you are going to
the south'ard you had better go--I am homeward-bound."

"That was not a civil remark, my lad; but I will overlook it, and
perhaps you will think better of the matter."

"I can't think better of a bad matter, Mr Gaffin," answered Jacob,
firmly, hurrying on.

The smuggler folded his arms and stood watching the young man as he
trudged sturdily over the sands.  "I will win him over yet, though his
father may be too obstinate to move," he muttered to himself as he made
his way up the cliff to the mill.

Jacob carried his basket of shells to Downside and deposited them with
Susan, for the ladies were at tea, and they did not hear of his coming.
She spoke of the visit Mr Harry Castleton had just paid.

"Such a nice gentleman," she observed.  "The ladies kept him here all
the afternoon helping Miss May to work at the grotto.  And I have a
notion that he was very well pleased to be so employed.  I should not be
surprised but what he will be back here again before long," she added.

Jacob did not stop to hear more, but, emptying his basket of shells,
hurried home.  What he had heard did not contribute to raise his
spirits.  He at once told his father of his meeting with Miles Gaffin.

"If you care for me or for your own happiness, don't have anything to
say to him," said Adam, earnestly.  "He bears none of us any love, and
depend on't he means mischief."



CHAPTER TWENTY NINE.

MAKING THE GROTTO.

Harry had paid several visits to Downside.  The old ladies welcomed him
cordially, and were much pleased at the interest he took in their
grotto.

"It got on rapidly," they observed, with the assistance he so kindly
gave May.  She received him as a relative of the ladies without
supposing that had she not been his fellow-labourer he might not have
taken so great an interest in the work.  Frequently Miss Jane and Miss
Mary were present, but sometimes they sent May and Harry by themselves,
and only followed when at leisure.  Those moments were very delightful
to the young people.  They did not perhaps hurry on with the grotto as
fast as they might otherwise have done, and when the ladies arrived they
had not always made much progress.  Yet Harry believed that he said
nothing to May which he would not have been willing for his cousins to
hear, and probably had he been accused of making love to the fisherman's
daughter, he would indignantly have denied that he was doing so.  She
did not stop to enquire why she felt unusually dull when he did not
come, or why her ear was so eagerly on the watch for the sound of his
horse's hoofs at the hour he generally arrived.

Every day Harry fancied that he had discovered new graces in her mind,
and the slight degree of rusticity which he might have first detected
when he compared her with his sister Julia, had entirely worn off.  In
person he thought her faultless.

Harry was anxious that his mother and sister should see May without
knowing who she was--he was sure that the Miss Pembertons would be
pleased at receiving a visit from them, and he was in hopes that he
might be able to induce them to call without showing his anxiety that
they would do so.  He made no secret at home of his visits to Downside,
observing that the Miss Pembertons had employed him to ornament a shell
grotto for them, and as he hated to be idle, he was very glad to find
employment suited to his taste, and at the same time to do anything to
please the kind old ladies.

Sir Ralph had been called to London on political business, and was
likely to remain some time away.  Most of the visitors had left Texford.
Those who remained were able to amuse themselves, and did not require
the attention of their host and hostess.  Captain Headland, being looked
upon as Harry's guest, was quite independent.  Lady Castleton was
therefore more at liberty than she had been for some time.

"By-the-bye, mother, you should drive over some day and call on our
cousins, and see the grotto.  They will be much pleased, I am sure, with
the visit, and will be delighted to show you over the garden, which is a
perfect gem in its way."

"I confess that we have somewhat neglected our cousins, but your father
was annoyed with the way Jane spoke to him, and was afraid that she
might come here oftener than would be agreeable, so that he begged me
not to encourage her," said Lady Castleton.  "However, as she has shown
no inclination to do that, he will not object to my calling again, and
Julia and I will drive over there to-morrow."

"I am sure they will be pleased to see you, and I will go on ahead, and
let them know that you are coming, lest by any chance they may have
thought of going out," said Harry, well pleased that his suggestion had
been taken.

"You appear to be very fond of the old ladies, Harry," observed his
mother.

"They are kind good creatures, and are so pleased to see me that I
cannot help liking them," and Harry turned away, lest further
observations might be made.

Although he was unwilling to mention May to his mother and sister, and
still more so to his brother, he did not hesitate to speak of her to
Headland.

"But, my dear Harry, have you well considered what will be the
consequence of your frequent interviews with this beautiful young
creature?" asked his friend.  "You appear already to have lost your
heart, and what will be the effect of your attentions on her?"

Harry was what he would have called taken aback at the question.

"You are right in supposing that I have lost my heart, but if I know
what love is, I believe that I love her as sincerely and devotedly as a
man can love a girl.  Had she been uneducated and living with her father
and mother, I would not have attempted to see her again.  When I found
her as lady-like and refined as the best born in the land can be, I
could not resist my cousin's invitation, and, I own, yielded to her
attractions without considering the consequences.  Still, whatever may
be my feelings, I have done my utmost not to exhibit them, and she
receives me so calmly and modestly, simply as a visitor to the Miss
Pembertons, while she appears so unconscious of her own beauty, that I
am not vain enough to suppose her feelings are in any way interested in
me."

"I am a person of little experience with regard to women's hearts," said
Headland; "but it strikes me that a country girl wholly unaccustomed to
the society of gentlemen is very likely, in spite of all your caution,
to be more interested in you than you may in your modesty suppose.
Whatever your cousins, who, from your account, must be unusually
simple-minded, unworldly ladies, may think, their young protege may
suspect that you would not come over every day for the sole purpose of
working at their grotto, and may have a suspicion that she herself is
the attraction."

"Indeed, I believe I like them so much, that had they asked me to come
and make a grotto for them, I would have done so even if Miss Halliburt
had not been with them!" exclaimed Harry.  "Though I confess that the
pleasure is enhanced by working with her."

"It may be so, Harry," said Headland.  "But if Miss Halliburt is there,
and you admire her so warmly, can you sufficiently conceal your
admiration as to convince her that she is not the attraction, and if you
did so, might she not be unconsciously piqued by wishing to bring you to
her feet."

"She is too pure and simple-minded to do anything of the sort!"
exclaimed Harry in an indignant tone.  "If I find I have gained her
affections, I will offer her my hand, and stand the consequences.  I
shall feel that I am in honour bound to do so; indeed I should be
utterly miserable if, conscious that I possessed her love, I was
compelled to give her up."

"My dear Harry, it is not for a man of unknown birth like myself to warn
you against the consequences of a misalliance; but you tell me that the
Castletons are a proud race, and that your father and brother are like
the rest of the family.  You cannot for a moment suppose that they would
be otherwise than indignant were you to propose to marry this girl,
charming and beautiful as she may be.  And I am afraid that your mother
and sister, though they might be pleased with her, would strongly oppose
your wishes."

"I should have hopes of winning them over.  Algernon has no right to
interfere, and I do not think he would; and my father, proud as he is,
has so great an admiration for female beauty, that I believe were he to
see May, he would be compelled to acknowledge I had ample excuse for
wishing her to become my wife."

"I trust it may be so, Harry," said Headland.  "I have spoken to you as
I felt bound to do as one of your oldest friends, and as I know you to
be thoroughly honourable and right-minded you would not be the cause of
pain and disappointment to any woman, especially to the young and
innocent creature you admire so much."

"I am grateful to you, Headland, indeed I am," exclaimed Harry, taking
his friend's hand.  "I should have been wiser had I not spoken a second
time to Miss Halliburt, but I am sure that I should have been less than
human had I not done so.  The fact is, my dear fellow, I am in for it.
But I will remember your warning, and, for her sake rather than my own,
not make love to her, and then, at all events, I shall have to suffer
alone, should insuperable difficulties to our marrying arise."

Though Headland had spoken thus frankly and faithfully to Harry, Harry,
from delicacy, could not bring himself to speak in the same way to his
friend.  He felt very sure that Headland admired Julia, and from what
she had said, he fully suspected the secret of her heart.  Would not his
father, however, object as much to Julia marrying Headland as he would
to his marrying the fisher-girl.  The cases were, however, very
different.  Headland, though of unknown birth, had gained a position for
himself, and Captain Fancourt had written in the highest terms of him,
and would, he thought, support his suite if he proposed.  Still he was
too well acquainted with his father's proud unyielding temper not to
fear that in either case there would be difficulties to contend with.

Headland had already made a considerable sum in prize money, so that the
only objection which could possibly be raised against him was his
ignorance of his family.

Harry trusted that as he himself was a younger son, his father might not
object so much as he would have done, had Algernon been in his place.
This gave him some slight hopes that the difficulties which he knew must
arise would finally be overcome.  At all events, as long as the Miss
Pembertons wished him to come to their house, he arrived at the
conclusion that he was perfectly justified in going there.



CHAPTER THIRTY.

MAY'S INTRODUCTION TO THE CASTLETONS.

Miss Mary, led by May, was taking a stroll after breakfast, when Harry
arrived.

"We shall be truly glad to see your mother as she so seldom visits us,"
said Miss Mary, mildly; "and as I hope she and Julia will stop to take
luncheon, I will go in and order preparations, for Jane is out visiting
at some cottages in the neighbourhood and may not be back just yet.  As
I suppose you do not wish to be idle, pray, if you feel disposed, go on
in the meantime with the grotto, and May will, I daresay, be glad to
assist you."

Harry, after his conversation with Headland, had been more observant
than usual of May's behaviour.  A blush suffused her cheeks as Miss Mary
said this, and as her eyes met Harry's he was convinced that she had no
disinclination to do what Miss Mary proposed.

Accordingly, after they had attended Miss Mary to the house, they went
together, Harry carrying a fresh basket of shells brought up by Jacob on
the previous evening.  May was more silent than usual, though she
answered when Harry spoke to her in that soft tone he so much delighted
to hear, which she had learned from Miss Mary rather than from her elder
sister.

Harry at length made a remark which caused her to reply.

"I am thinking of the visit we are to receive from Lady Castleton and
your sister, and I confess that I feel somewhat nervous."

"Why so?" asked Harry.

May looked up in his face but did not answer.

"Do you fancy they can do otherwise than admire you, and think you all
that is sweet, and charming, and excellent, and loveable as I do, May,"
and he took her hand which she did not withdraw, though her eyes were
cast down, and the blush deepened on her cheeks.  "Oh, May, I did not
intend to say so much, but I had resolved to tear myself from you unless
I could hope that you were not indifferent to me."

"Harry," said May, trying to calm her agitation; she had always before
called him Mr Harry, "I was thinking of your mother's proposed visit,
and afraid lest she should believe that I was the cause of your frequent
visits to Downside.  Knowing, as I do, the pride of your family, I
feared that you might be induced to give up your visits here; and oh,
Harry, that we might be parted."

"No, no, May," exclaimed Harry, letting all his sober resolutions fly to
the wind, and pressing more lovingly her hand.  "My parents, even should
they wish to do so, have no right to insist on my giving up one against
whom they cannot allege a single fault.  The circumstance of your birth
ought not to be an impediment, and believe me, May, with all the desire
I possess to be an obedient son, I could not be influenced by such a
reason.  I do not invite you to share poverty with me, for I have
already an ample income to support a wife, and as I need not ask my
father for a single shilling, I do not think he will have any just
reason to oppose my wishes."

"Harry," said May, "I own I love you, but I must not run any risk of
creating dissension between you and your parents.  That and that alone
can prevent me from giving you my hand as you already have my heart.  I
have been told of a sad history of a member of your own family, your
father's brother, who, against his parent's wishes, married a young lady
to whom they objected on account of her birth, and he was banished from
his home ever afterwards, living an exile in foreign lands.  I should
fear that your father and mother would look upon me as an unfit match
for you, and discard you, should you persist in marrying me."

"You speak of my uncle Ronald," exclaimed Harry, "who married, I am
told, a very lovely girl, and simply because she could not trace her
pedigree to the same stock as the Castletons, my grandfather refused to
receive her as his daughter-in-law, and my uncle, rather than subject
her to the annoyance to which she might have been exposed at home, took
her abroad.  Surely my father, after he has seen the consequence of the
harsh treatment his brother received, would not behave in the same way
to me; besides, you know, he is my father's eldest brother, and it is
not at all certain that he is dead, so that he may some day return and
claim the baronetcy and Texford, and if so, I shall be but a younger
brother's youngest son, and no one need trouble their heads who I marry.
But, my dear May, if I wore a ducal coronet, you would be the richest
prize I could wish for to grace it; though do not suppose, though I
would rather, for the sake of avoiding difficulties, be of the humblest
birth, that I consider you unworthy of filling the highest rank in the
realm."

May had never told Harry that she was not Dame Halliburt's daughter.
Why she had not done so she might even have found it difficult to say.
At first, a feeling of modest reserve had prevented her from speaking
about herself.  The Miss Pembertons, in their simplicity, had not
thought it likely that Harry would fall in love with her, merely by
coming a few times to the house, if he supposed her to be Adam
Halliburt's daughter; but they had sufficient worldly wisdom to know
that should they excite his interest by telling him her romantic
history, he, in all probability, would be moved by it.  May herself,
however, now felt she ought not longer to conceal the fact from him.  It
could not fail to be a satisfaction to him, as both the ladies and her
foster-parents were fully convinced that she was of gentle birth.  She
was on the point of telling him when Susan hurried up with the
information that Lady Castleton's carriage had just driven to the door.

The young people had not marked how rapidly the time had gone by.

May suddenly felt even more agitated than before.  Harry's declaration,
though delightful, was not calculated to prepare her for receiving his
mother and sister with the self-possession and calmness she would have
wished to exhibit.

"Do, Harry, go in first, and I will come into the drawing-room as soon
as I can compose myself.  You have made me very happy, but I must be
alone for a few minutes before I can meet any one."

They returned to the house together.  Susan had gone on before.

Lady Castleton and Julia had been for some time seated in the
drawing-room when Harry entered.

"I am glad to find Harry makes himself so useful to you," observed Lady
Castleton to Miss Jane, as he took his seat near Julia, who was talking
to Miss Mary.

"Yes, indeed, we are much obliged to him, and hope to have the pleasure
of showing his handiwork to you after luncheon," answered Miss Jane.
"He and the young friend residing with us have done nearly the whole of
the ornamental part of the work, and have exhibited a great deal of
skill and taste."

Harry overheard the remark, and feared that his mother would inquire who
the young friend was; but she observed instead--

"It is a great thing when naval officers are on shore if they can find
employment.  So few care for field sports, and as my brother, Captain
Fancourt, observes, they too generally fall in love with some fair face
and marry, and then have speedily to go off, and leave their young wives
to pine in solitude, often for long years."

Harry dreaded what next might be said.

"Ah, they are greatly to be pitied," observed Miss Jane.

"My mother will be sure to suspect me the moment she enters," thought
Harry.  "I almost wish that I had not persuaded her to come here; and
yet she cannot but be satisfied with my choice; she and Julia must love
May the moment they see her."

Harry tried to join in the conversation which Miss Mary and Julia were
carrying on.  Julia had always liked their blind cousin, and now exerted
herself to amuse her, mentioning only such subjects as she thought would
do so.  Harry found, however, that his remarks were not very relevant.
Miss Mary was more surprised than Julia.  At last he got up and went to
the window, whence he could watch the door.

At length it opened, and Lady Castleton and Julia turned their heads as
May glided into the room.  Both instinctively rose from their seats as
Miss Jane introduced her as "a friend who is living with us."

They bowed, and, taking their seats, continued their conversation, while
May took a chair a little on one side between where Harry was standing
and his mother and sister.

They both looked at her several times, and Harry observed that their
countenances exhibited surprise, and he believed at the same time no
small amount of admiration.

At last Julia, drawing her chair a little back, addressed May, and asked
if she had been long at Hurlston.

"Yes, ever since I was a child," was the answer.

"May has resided with us several years, and a great blessing and comfort
she has proved to me especially," observed Miss Mary.

Julia looked more puzzled than ever.  More than once she glanced up at
Harry, who now came forward and took a seat near May.

"I was not aware that you had any guest in your house," said Julia; "but
I hope we shall now have the pleasure of frequently meeting each other,"
and she looked towards May with a slight bow.

"It will give me very great pleasure to see you, Miss Castleton," said
May, who, in spite of her efforts, found herself blushing whenever she
spoke, conscious as she was, too, that Lady Castleton was watching her
from the other side of the room.

Though she would have liked to talk to Julia, she wished that Miss Mary
would again engage her in conversation.  Julia, on her part, was
somewhat puzzled what to say without appearing rudely inquisitive, and
yet she was eager to know who the beautiful young creature could be who
had been so long living with her cousins; possibly she was some orphan
whom they had protected.

At this juncture luncheon was announced.  Miss Jane conducted Lady
Castleton into the dining-room, telling Harry to take care of his
sister, while May, as usual led Miss Mary.

"What a beautiful creature; who is she?" whispered Julia, looking up in
her brother's face.

"I knew you would admire her," he answered, evasively, meeting her
glance, without as he hoped betraying himself.  "Our cousins consider
her as excellent in every way as she is lovely."

"But what do you think of her?" asked his sister.

"My eyes are not more penetrating than yours: you shall form your own
opinion before I reply."

They entered the dining-room before Julia could make any further remark.

May attended to Miss Mary with all the calmness she could command,
though she felt that Julia's and Lady Castleton's eyes were fixed on her
all the time.

Harry exerted himself with considerable success to entertain his cousins
and their guests.  He could not help wishing, however, that his mother
and sister would take their departure as soon as they had seen the
garden, for he longed to be again alone with May, and he dreaded lest
they might ask their cousins who the beautiful young stranger was.  He
wished them to admire her first, and he was sure she could not fail to
win their admiration, and that they would then be less unwilling than
might otherwise be the case to receive her as his promised wife.  He
would not, indeed, allow himself to see the difficulties which would
certainly arise directly they learned who she was; nor could he bring
himself to believe that, however great might be their admiration, it
would vanish immediately the truth was known.  Though May spoke but
little, her voice was sweet and musical, and what she said showed her
sense and judgment.

After luncheon, Miss Jane invited Lady Castleton and Julia to walk
through the grounds, and to see their grotto.

"And is this all your doing, Harry?" asked his mother, after they had
admired the grotto and its surrounding rock-work, with the clear pool of
water shaded by lofty wide-spreading trees.

"Only partly; I did not originate the designs, to that young lady is due
all the credit which they deserve," he answered, looking at May.  "I had
merely acted as a workman under her superintendence."

"I must not allow the merit they possess to be given to me; Mr
Castleton suggested and executed many of the designs," said May,
heartily wishing that the ladies had not brought their guests to see the
grotto at all.

Lady Castleton was evidently more than ever puzzled.  Knowing the world
she was now very certain that this fair stranger was her son's chief
attraction to Downside, and determined to cross-question him on the
first opportunity.

They returned to the house where, after sitting a few minutes, Lady
Castleton begged that her carriage might be ordered.  As Harry handed
his mother into it, she said quietly--"I am not surprised that you take
so much interest in grotto building.  You will follow us soon, I hope."

"Oh yes," answered Harry, telling the coachman to drive on.  "We shall
have time for a little more work," he said, entering the hall where Miss
Jane stood watching her departing guests.  May resumed her hat and
accompanied him to the grotto.

"I feel as if I was acting the hypocrite to my kind friends.  I ought to
tell them, Harry, and not allow you to come here under false pretences."

"They cannot object to my coming even though you are the attraction.  We
will tell them at once."

May and Harry, as may be supposed, did very little work; they would
probably have been less successful than usual had they attempted it.

At length his watch told him that it was nearly time to return to
Texford.  They went into the house and found the ladies in the
drawing-room.  May sat down next to Miss Mary and took her hand.

"I ought to lose no time in telling you what has occurred," she said,
trying to maintain her calmness.  "Mr Castleton has asked me to marry
him."

"My dear!" exclaimed the two Miss Pembertons, in different keys, Miss
Jane fixing her eyes on Harry.

"What have you said in reply?" asked Miss Mary.

"Do you suppose that I could refuse him."

"I see, my dear, that you have not," observed Miss Jane, "judging from
his countenance.  We love you both, and I am sure no two young people
could be better suited to each other.  But when we invited Harry here we
did not dream of such a result.  Have you both considered well the
consequences."

Yes, Harry declared that he had thought them over seriously.

"At all events, cousin Jane," he exclaimed, jumping up and taking her
hand, "you and cousin Mary will not object to my continuing to come
here."

"You know we ought to do so should your father and mother not approve of
your intentions."

Harry replied that now his mother and sister had seen May, they could
not fail to love her.

"Of that I have no doubt," whispered Miss Mary, pressing May's hand.

Miss Jane was less sanguine.  Still they would be happy to see Harry
until Sir Ralph prohibited his coming.

Harry continuing to refuse to see any clouds in the horizon, rode home
rejoicing that he had won Maiden May.



CHAPTER THIRTY ONE.

YOUNG MILES GAFFIN AGAIN.

May had been anxiously looking forward to another visit from Harry on
the morning after he had openly declared his love, and she had more than
once gone to the front door to watch for his coming.  She endeavoured,
however, to fix her thoughts as she read, as usual, to Miss Mary from
the book of books, and to listen to Miss Jane's comments, though she
might have been puzzled to give any very clear account of the remarks
she heard.

"Our May does not seem quite herself," observed Miss Mary, when the two
sisters sat together the next morning.  "Poor girl, it must have been
very trying when she felt that Lady Castleton's and Julia's eyes were
fixed on her during their visit, especially if they suspected that Harry
admires her."

"We ought to have foreseen the consequences of encouraging him to come
here," said Miss Jane, "though my conscience acquits me of having
designedly thrown the young people together."

"I love May for her gentleness and sweet manner, and her kindness to
me," observed Miss Mary.  "It never occurred to me that she possessed
the beauty which would attract a young and gallant officer like our
cousin."

"I shall blame myself if the peaceful happiness May has hitherto enjoyed
is interrupted from our want of discretion, dear girl," said Miss Jane.
"Though nothing we can do can effectually restore it, we can make her
all the amends in our power; and I have long been thinking of placing
her in as independent a position as is possible should we be removed
from the world.  I have determined to make my will and to leave her all
my property."

"The very thought which has occurred to me," said Miss Mary, "and I
should wish to do the same."

"I am glad to find that you agree with me, and the sooner we do so the
better," observed Miss Jane.  "I will write to Mr Shallard and beg him
to come over here the first day he is at leisure.  Sir Ralph ought to be
able to well provide for his children, and they cannot miss our small
fortune, nor has he any reason to expect that we might have left it to
them."

Scarcely had the two sisters come to this understanding than May entered
the room.  Her countenance, usually so bright and cheerful, looked sad.

"What is the matter, my dear May?" asked Miss Jane.

"Mrs Brown's daughter, Peggy, has just come up to say that my kind
mother is very ill--the doctor has been sent for, but that she seems
anxious to see me," answered May.  "With your leave I will go to her at
once, and I hope to be back before Harry leaves you, should he come
to-day."

"Had she not unwisely sent for the doctor I would have tried to
accompany you, though I feel scarcely able to leave the house," said
Miss Jane.  "But I must not interfere with him."

"I am sure that you would be welcome, as you are everywhere.  But if you
will allow me I will run down to mother at once and ascertain what is
the matter with her."

"Do so, my dear, and send Peggy back if you find that you must remain
with Mistress Halliburt."

May, though greatly disappointed at thus missing Harry, hurried down to
the cottage with Peggy Brown, often looking in the direction of Texford
in the hopes of seeing him coming along the road.  Still the duty and
affection she owed her kind foster-mother prompted her to hasten on.

She found the dame in bed.  Seldom having been ill, the good woman was
greatly alarmed about herself.  She had caught a chill and was feverish
and weak.  Adam, and Jacob were away in the _Nancy_, and there was no
one except Peggy to attend to her, as Mrs Brown had only waited for
May's coming to go back to her own cottage.  May regretted that Miss
Jane had not accompanied her, as the dame, she thought, would probably
have been benefited by her skill.

At length the doctor arrived.

"Cheer up, Mistress Halliburt, we will soon bring you round; with your
fine constitution you have nothing to be afraid of.  I can leave you
safely under charge of this young lady," said the doctor in a cheerful
tone, bowing to May.  "I will look in by-and-bye, and if I find you
better, as I am sure I shall, she can return home.  Send Peggy up and
she will bring you back the medicine I wish you to take immediately."

May felt greatly relieved at hearing this, though the dame shook her
head, apparently not believing him.  In spite, however, of her fears the
dame got better by the time Adam came back, and the doctor soon
afterwards looking in assured May that she might leave her mother
without the slightest anxiety, for as it was Saturday Adam was not going
to sea in the evening.

May, leaving a message for Jacob who was still on board the _Nancy_,
thanking him for the last shells he had brought, and saying that more
would be acceptable, set off on her walk home.

Jacob had ascertained, so the dame told her, that young Gaffin and his
father had been seen to leave the inn some days before on horseback,
with valises behind them, and that she thus need not fear being again
annoyed by him.  She hurried on, her heart beating quicker than usual at
the thought of meeting Harry.  She was sure he would have remained at
Downside till her return; indeed she had fancied that he might have come
down to the cottage, but perhaps the wish not to attract the attention
of the inhabitants of the village induced him not to do so.  She had
nearly reached the gate of Downside when she saw standing before her not
ten paces off, the very youth who had before given her so much
annoyance.

"He will not surely dare to speak to me now," she thought.  "If he does
I can run home without replying.  If I turn back it would show that I am
afraid of him, and he would overtake me before I could reach any
cottage."

She had but little time, however, for consideration, so she walked
steadily on, simply crossing over to the other side of the road and
keeping her eyes directly before her.

Miles, however, had no intention of letting her escape so easily.
Advancing a few steps he took off his hat with an air which he intended
to be full of respect, saying as he did so in a humble tone--

"I came, Miss Halliburt, to beg your pardon and to express a hope that
you will forgive me for what occurred.  I have been miserable ever
since."

May took no notice of this speech, but only walked somewhat faster than
she had hitherto been doing towards the gate.

"Won't you deign even a reply to my humble address?" said Miles, in a
half whining tone, which scarcely concealed the irritation he felt.

Still May remained silent, hoping that in another minute she should be
safe within her friends' grounds.

Miles went on speaking in the same strain, but the tone of his voice
showed that he was losing patience.  Suddenly he changed his tone.

"Just listen to me," he exclaimed.  "I have the means of making your
fortune, and my own too.  I know who you are, and if you will marry me I
will enable you to gain your rights, and make you as wealthy as any lady
in the land need wish to be."

May, believing that what he said was a falsehood, merely uttered to gain
her attention, hurried on as before.

"I say I am not going to stand this a second time," exclaimed the young
ruffian, seizing her by the wrist.  "If you won't come to terms by fair
means, you must expect me to use a little force when it is for your own
good.  Don't be screaming out; I will tell you what I want you to know,
and what you yourself would give anything to learn, though I can only
tell you if you will promise to marry me, and keep it a secret till
then."

"Let go my hand!" were the first words May uttered, still not attending
to what he said, her alarm prevented her from understanding the meaning
of his words, as it did also from crying out for help; indeed, so few
people passed that way, that unless her voice was heard at Downside, it
was not probable that any help could be obtained.

"Listen," he exclaimed, trying to force her back from Downside.  "I tell
you I have got something particular to say to you, and I won't say it
unless you will listen quietly."

"Let me go," repeated May again.  "I do not wish to listen to you, all I
require is to be allowed to go home.  If you really have anything to say
you can communicate it in a letter to the Miss Pembertons."

"That won't suit me," answered Miles.  "I have told you before, if
gentle means won't succeed I must use force, though I am sorry for it,"
and he again began to drag her forward.

May, though now more alarmed than ever, recovered her voice, and made
use of it by uttering a loud shriek.  It might have been heard at
Downside, and Miles seemed to think that it was, for he turned his head
anxiously in that direction, expecting apparently to see some one issue
from the gate.

May, struggling to get free, looked also the same way.  Again she
uttered a cry for help.  At the same moment a man bounded round the
corner of the road, and before Miles was aware of his approach, he was
laid prostrate on the ground by a blow from Jacob Halliburt's powerful
fist.  "Run, Miss May, run," he exclaimed, "there are other men coming,
but I will settle this one before they are here."

May instinctively ran to the gate.  No sooner had she gained it than she
turned round intending to beckon Jacob to follow her to the house, and
to leave the wretched man without inflicting further punishment on him.
As she did so she saw Jacob lifting Miles on his feet.  Scarcely was he
up than Jacob, telling him to defend himself, again knocked him down.

Jacob, as soon as he had done so, seeing that she had not reached the
house, again entreated her to hurry there.

"If you will go I will follow you in a moment," he shouted, "you won't
be safe till then."

As Jacob spoke she saw four armed men on horseback galloping along the
road.  Believing that Jacob was following close behind her she rushed
into the house.  He sprang toward the gate intending to defend it should
the horsemen, as he thought they would, attempt to enter.  Had he
possessed any weapon he might have held his post, but in another instant
one of the horsemen dealt him a blow with the butt end of a pistol,
which laid him senseless on the ground.

By this time Miles had began to recover his courage, and one of the men
leaping from his horse helped him up.  A gleam of satisfaction lighted
up his eyes as he saw what had occurred to Jacob.

"If it hadn't been for that fellow I should have kept the girl till you
came up," he exclaimed.  "Let us make sure of him at all events, and I
will manage to get hold of her another time when there will be no one to
interfere."

Scarcely a word was spoken, the men seeming ready enough to agree to
what Miles proposed.  A couple of leathern thongs were produced, and
some pieces of rope, and before Jacob recovered his senses he was bound
hand and foot, and lifted up in front of one of the men on horseback.

"We can do no more now, and the sooner we are away from this the
better," said Miles, "or some one will be down upon us, and we shall be
suspected of making off with the fisherman's son.  I must be away over
the fields, and shall be down at the beach almost as soon as you are."



CHAPTER THIRTY TWO.

LADY CASTLETON.

Whatever resolutions Captain Headland might have made when he first went
to Texford, he had not been there long before he felt a strong
inclination to break them.  Once or twice he had almost determined to go
away, but on hinting at the possibility of his having to do so, Julia
had given him a look which made him immediately alter his mind, and
every day he remained he found a greater difficulty in tearing himself
away.

The party were assembled in the evening in the drawing-room after Lady
Castleton's visit to Downside.  Julia had had no opportunity of taking
the sketches on the lake she proposed.

"You promised to act as my boatman, Captain Headland."

He had not forgotten it, and they agreed to go the following morning.

Without being vain, Headland could not help discovering that Julia
seemed happy in his society.  As she sang that evening he looked over
her music, and asked her to sing a ballad, which described the grief of
a maiden whose sailor lover had fallen in the hour of victory.  Julia
hesitated, and tears sprung to her eyes as she turned them towards the
young officer, while he placed the music before her.  She quickly
recovered herself, but he would have been blind had he not observed that
there was a tenderness in her manner towards him, though she apparently
was unaware of it.

After the ladies had retired, Harry invited Headland to take a stroll
through the grounds to enjoy the moonlight.  Harry did not speak till
they had got to some distance from the house.

"You remember, Headland, the advice you gave me yesterday," he said at
length.  "I would have followed it, much as it might have cost me, had I
found May indifferent to my affection, but she has confessed that she
loves me, and nothing shall prevent me from making her my wife.  If you
saw her, you would agree that she is well worthy of the most devoted
love a man can give, and I will do my utmost to make her happy.  There
may be opposition, but that I am resolved to overcome, unless she
herself changes her sentiments, and that, I think, is impossible.  You,
I know, will stand my friend, whatever may occur."

"Of course I will, Harry, though I fear I can give you but little
assistance," said Headland.  "I am very unwilling to run the risk of
hurting your feelings, but, my dear fellow, are you certain that the
mutual affection which you tell me exists is as deep on both sides as
you say?  You were struck by the girl's beauty, and she is flattered by
your attentions.  Perhaps if you were to be separated for a time, and
mixed in society, you would find them more evanescent than you are at
present disposed to believe possible."

"I am very certain that I love her as much as a man can love a woman,
and that I should be miserable if I were to be doomed to lose her,"
answered Harry, firmly.  "I can only judge by what she says and how she
looks, and by my knowledge of her character, which is perfect in every
respect, and, I am sure, one of the most valuable of qualities,
constancy is not wanting in it.  My cousins, who have known her from her
childhood, highly esteem her, and bestow on her the love as to the
nearest relative.  What more can I say?  I must get you to come and be
introduced to her.  Will you ride over with me to-morrow? and if you do
not agree with me, never trust my opinion again."

"I promised to row your sister on the lake to-morrow--she wishes to
sketch," said Headland, "or I should be glad to accept your invitation."

"I won't ask you to break such an engagement," said Harry, smiling
archly; "but if you and Julia will ride over in the afternoon, I will
come back and meet you, for I want my sister to become better acquainted
with May."

"I shall be at Miss Castleton's service, and will gladly accompany her,"
said Headland.

The two friends continued pacing up and down the moonlight walk.  Harry,
knowing Julia's secret, would liked to have ascertained his friend's
feelings towards her.  He was certain that he admired her, but aware how
diffident he was in consequence of his position, he was very doubtful
whether he would venture to tell her so.  Harry's respect for his sister
prevented him from even suggesting the probability that he would not be
refused should he make her an offer.  From everything Headland said,
however, Harry felt convinced that he only required encouragement to do
so.

The following morning Julia appeared with her sketch-book.

"I have not forgotten my promise," said Headland, and his countenance
brightened as he looked at her.  "I shall be happy to accompany you on
the lake."

They set out, and Harry went to order his horse to ride to Downside.

Just as he was starting, the servant brought a message from Lady
Castleton, who wished to speak to him.  Though disliking the delay, he
went immediately, guessing why she had sent for him.

"Sit down, Harry," she said in her gentle tone.  "I was very much struck
yesterday with the beauty of the young lady we met at our cousins.
Knowing how you must naturally admire her, I am very sure that she is
the attraction which draws you daily to Downside."

"Yes, mother, I do not deny it," answered Harry; "and I am delighted
that you and Julia admire her so much."

"We could not fail to do that.  But let me ask you, Harry, do you know
her history? are you acquainted with her family?  She is, I suspect, a
dependant on the Miss Pemberton's bounty.  And have you not reflected
that you may have won her heart as you may possibly have lost your own?"

"Mother," said Harry, rising and taking Lady Castleton's hand, "I love
her for herself and herself alone; she has given me her love in return,
and you would not wish your son to marry for mercenary or any other
motives except such as influence me."

"I wish to see your happiness secured, my dear Harry, but I fear that
your father will not view matters in the light you do.  He will
certainly not approve of your marrying any one beneath you in rank."

Harry argued as most young men would have done under similar
circumstances.

"You might persuade me, my dear boy, but I fear that you will find it
impossible to overcome your father's strong notions on the subject.  I
must write and inform him of the state of affairs; and depend upon it, I
will do my utmost to give him a favourable impression of the young
lady."

"But why trouble my father now about the matter?" urged Harry.  "It will
be time enough when he returns home to let him know my wishes, and he
can then express his opinion.  Pray do not object in the meantime to my
visiting Downside.  Our cousins invited me there in the first instance,
without the slightest idea of the consequences; and I surely have a
right to visit them as long as they give me permission.  Remember I
persuaded you to call there, a proof that I had no desire for
concealment.  However, as only you and Julia even suspect the state of
the case, do let me ask you to keep the matter a secret at present, for
I do not wish even Algernon to know it, as I am doubtful how he might
act; he entertains the same opinion as Sir Ralph on most points, and
might think fit to expostulate in a way I should not approve of."

In spite of her previous resolutions, Lady Castleton was so far gained
over by Harry, that she promised to wait and see how things were likely
to go.

"Thank you, mother," exclaimed Harry, kissing her brow; "all will go
right.  We must get Sir Ralph to see May without knowing who she is, and
depend on it he will be enchanted with her, perhaps insist that I shall
forthwith go and make her an offer of marriage."

Lady Castleton smiled at her son's enthusiasm, but directly afterwards
sighed, for she knew her husband far better than did her son.

Harry was eager to set off for Downside, and hurrying downstairs mounted
his horse, which the groom had been leading up and down waiting for him.

Just as he was starting, a dark, black-whiskered man, on a strong
looking horse, rode up.  Harry fancied that he recollected his features.

"Good morning, Mr Castleton," said the stranger, lifting his hat.  "I
remember you, though a good many years have passed since you were at
Texford."

"You have the advantage of me, knowing my name.  Have you business with
any one here?"

"Yes; I wish to see Mr Groocock, the steward.  I am the miller at
Hurlston, and have to say a word or two about the rent of the mill,"
answered Gaffin.  "I remember you as a young midshipman, when I had the
pleasure of offering to give you a cruise in my lugger, though for some
reason or other you objected to accompany me."

"I probably had good reasons for doing so," answered Harry, recollecting
what he had heard of Gaffin's character, and that he was the father of
the young man who had insulted May.  "If you have business with the
steward, you will find him in his room; good morning, sir," and Harry
was riding on.

"Pardon me, Mr Castleton, if I detain you for a minute," backing his
horse across the road.  "You are perhaps not aware that though I have
held the mill at Hurlston for a number of years, and have expended
considerable sums in repairing it, Mr Groocock has given me notice that
the rent is to be raised, and I wish to appeal to Sir Ralph against the
injustice of the proceedings."

"I cannot interfere in the matter, as Mr Groocock has my father's
perfect confidence, and he probably considers the rent you have hitherto
paid as too low."

"Where there is a will there is a way; if you wished to serve me, Mr
Castleton, you could do so," exclaimed Gaffin in an angry tone, as if
his aim was to pick a quarrel with the young officer.

"I have no wish to interfere, and have no intention of doing so,"
answered Harry.  "I must again say good morning, sir."

"You are willing to see an act of injustice done without any desire to
prevent it," said Gaffin.

"I do not believe that Mr Groocock would commit an act of injustice,
and I consider it impertinent in you to infer that Sir Ralph Castleton
acts unjustly."

"I infer nothing; facts are stubborn things, Mr Castleton.  I see how
it is, your father wishes to drive me from the mill; but he is mistaken
if he expects to succeed.  If I am compelled, I will pay the additional
rent, and remain, though I am not likely to be grateful to those who
have ill-treated me.  A few words from you would probably have favoured
my cause."

"I have already given you my answer, I cannot be longer delayed in
discussing the subject," and Harry, putting spurs to his horse, rode on.

Gaffin gave an angry glance towards the young officer, and then turning
round, made his way towards the wing of the mansion in which Mr
Groocock's office was situated.



CHAPTER THIRTY THREE.

THE BIRD FLOWN.

Great was Harry's disappointment on reaching Downside to find that May
was not there.  His cousins also, he fancied, received him with less
cordiality than usual.  Had he understood their feelings better, he
would have had no cause to complain.

"Sit down, Harry," said Miss Jane, in a somewhat formal tone, Harry
thought.  "May has told us of your offer.  You must be aware that we
have no legal control over her, but we feel it our duty not to encourage
your visits here until we know that you have the permission of Sir Ralph
and Lady Castleton, and that, we have our fears, will not be very
readily given.  As far as we have the power, we purpose making the dear
girl independent, and have sent for Mr Shallard to make our wills
accordingly."

"Bless you for the thought," exclaimed Harry, starting up.  "I wish you
would get Mr Shallard to make mine, and then, if I have to go to sea,
and am killed before I marry, it will be a consolation that she is
provided for."

"Nothing but generosity would have prompted you to say that," observed
Miss Mary.  "We only act, my dear Harry, according to the dictates of
duty; we must not encourage a son to disobey his parents."

"Then you need not object to my coming here," answered Harry,
brightening up.  "I have told my mother, and I believe that I have won
her over.  She and Julia were delighted with May, as, of course, they
must have been."

Harry hoped that he had satisfied the consciences of the two good
ladies.  He begged them to let him know when Mr Shallard was coming
over.

"It is very sad, Harry, to think that such a will as you propose making
should ever come into effect, for it would make May very unhappy to hear
of it."

"Then don't tell her on any account.  And depend upon it, I do not
intend to be killed if I can help it; only when shot are flying about,
one may take me off as well as another man.  Ships, too, sometimes
founder with all hands, or blow up, or cast on shore, or a sea washes
over the deck, and sweeps all before it, or the masts are carried away,
and crush those beneath them."

"Oh, pray do not talk of all the fearful things which happen to
sailors," exclaimed Miss Mary.  "I am sure I wish that you could get Sir
Ralph's leave to marry, and come and settle quietly at Downside, instead
of roaming about over the ocean; it would be a happier life, I think."

Harry, as he pictured May as his wife, thought so too at that moment,
but could he abandon the profession he loved, and the prospects of
promotion and honour?  For May he could abandon all; but would it be
wise?  That was not a subject he could just then think very clearly
about.

He waited and waited, but May did not return.  At last he thought of
going to work at the grotto.  The ladies said they should be much
obliged if he would do so.

At length he recollected that he had promised to escort Headland and
Julia.  He would ride back to Texford, and by the time he had returned
with them he hoped to find May at Downside.



CHAPTER THIRTY FOUR.

MAD SAL.

We must now go back to Jacob.  On recovering his senses and finding his
limbs tightly lashed, he in vain attempted to free himself.  He was
unable to shout out for assistance, for a gag had been thrust into his
mouth, while an handkerchief tightly bound over his eyes prevented him
from seeing.

What his captors were going to do with him he could not tell.  "They
will not dare to murder me," he thought; "if they do, no matter; I have
saved May, and father and mother and the ladies will see that they must
keep a careful watch over her lest these villains do what I suspect they
intended doing, and try to carry her off."

As far as Jacob could tell by the feeling of the wind on his cheeks, the
horsemen were taking their way to the Downs.  That road was little
frequented, and he knew his captors would not venture to carry him thus
openly where they were likely to meet any one who would recognise him.

"I was sure it was the villain Gaffin who has played me this trick,"
thought Jacob, as he found the direction in which he was going.  "He has
missed his aim if it was to get hold of our May, that's one comfort."

At last the men stopped.  Jacob found himself lifted from the horse and
dragged into a house.  He had little doubt that it was the mill-house.
He had often heard of the desperate characters who frequented it, and
they were not likely to have any scruple as to how they might treat him.
He was left for some time on the ground, though he heard people
speaking in low voices some way from him.  Their voices grew louder and
louder.  At last he heard one say--

"We must not keep him here; the sooner he is aboard the better."

Shortly afterwards he was again lifted and placed on his legs.  Several
strong arms dragged him along, and he felt the prick of a cutlass in his
back driving him forward when he attempted to resist.  He was dragged
down a steep path.

"I know all about it now," he thought.  "That was the mill where they
kept me, and now they are going to take me aboard the lugger, and maybe
heave me overboard when they get into deep water.  Poor father and
mother, I care for them more than any one else; May will think little
about me, I fear, and if it was not for my parents I should not care
what becomes of me."

All doubt of the matter was at an end when Jacob felt his feet pressing
the sand.

"If I once get on board I shall have no chance," he thought, and again
he made a desperate effort to free himself.  In doing so the bandage was
torn off his head.  He had sufficient time to see Gaffin, and he at once
recognised the men who had captured him, while young Miles was standing
by, though he kept at a respectful distance from his elbows.

At this juncture he heard a voice exclaiming--

"Are you still at your old work, ye hard-hearted ruffians, dragging off
the young and helpless to be drowned in the salt, salt sea.  Aren't ye
emissaries of Satan; let him go free, or my curses rest on you."  And
Jacob saw the tall figure of Mad Sal descending the cliffs by a pathway
few would have ventured to tread.  Now and then she stopped and waved
the long staff she carried in her hand.

"Who is that old woman?" asked Miles.  "Make her hold her tongue, some
of you, will you?"

"It's more than you or any other man can do," said one of the ruffians.
"Try it yourself, master."

Miles however showed no disposition to confront personally the mad
woman.

"Get this young fellow aboard as you were ordered, and never mind her."

This remark drew the attention of the mad woman, especially on Miles
himself.

"Who are you?" she asked.  "Are you a being of the earth, or a spirit
from the nether world?" she shrieked out.  "Speak, I command you,
speak!"

"Be off, and don't interfere with us, old woman!" answered Miles,
plucking up his courage.

"I thought my senses deceived me," shrieked out the mad woman, and she
turned towards the men with whom Jacob was struggling as they
endeavoured to drag him into the boat.

"Stay, I charge you, men, carry not off that poor lad on to the cruel
salt sea if he is unwilling to go; the salt, salt sea, the cruel salt
sea," and she burst out in her usual refrain.

The men paid no attention to her, and continued their efforts in
dragging Jacob to the boat.

Seeing this she again shrieked out--

"Stay, I charge you, or my curses go with you and all who abet you in
the cruel act.  May a speedy and sudden death overtake you; cursed be
the craft which bears you across the salt sea; cursed be the sails which
drive you onwards; cursed be those who bear you company; may the raging
waves, the howling tempest, the flashing lightning, and roaring thunder
overwhelm you; may you all sink down into the salt sea, salt sea; it's a
hungry, deep, and cruel sea.  The sea, the sea, the salt, salt sea," and
she whirled her staff around her head, and shrieked louder and louder as
she saw that the men had succeeded in hauling Jacob into the boat.

Miles apparently had no intention of going off, but one of the men,
seizing him by the arm, exclaimed--

"Come along, and see your business carried out, young master; as you set
us to the task, we are not going without you.  If you turn fainthearted
we will land the fellow, and let him settle the matter with you as he
lists."

Miles in vain expostulated.  Mad Sal drowned his words with her wild
shrieks, while she continued to wave her staff as if in the performance
of an incantation.  What with his unwillingness to face the mad woman
should he be left on the beach, and the threats of the men, he was
induced to go on board.

No sooner was he in the boat than the smugglers shoving off pulled
towards the lugger, which lay in her usual berth about half-a-mile from
the shore.

Mad Sal watched the proceeding, making her shrieks and wild shouts heard
till the boat had got far off from the beach: she then suddenly stopped,
and a gleam of sense appeared to pass through her mind.

"Instead of beseeching the villains to have mercy on the youth, I might
have sent those to his aid who have the power to help him," she muttered
to herself, and turning round she began to ascend the cliff.



CHAPTER THIRTY FIVE.

IN CHASE OF THE LUGGER.

Harry galloped back to Texford, and found the groom, with Julia's horse
and Captain Headland's, waiting in front of the house.

Julia came downstairs in her habit as he arrived.

"We were afraid you were not coming," she observed.  "I long to see our
cousin's young friend again."

"I am ready to return at once," answered Harry.  "Here comes Headland."

At that moment old General Sampson came out.

"What, my young friends, are you going to ride?  I should have had the
pleasure of accompanying you had I known it."

Harry devoutedly hoped that the general would not ask them to stop till
his horse was got ready.

"We are merely going to call on some relations who live at a village in
the neighbourhood," said Julia, who had as little wish for the general's
company as did Harry.

"Then let me have the honour of mounting you, Miss Julia," said the old
officer, shuffling down the steps.

At the same moment Mrs Appleton, who was passing across the hall, came
to the door with most of the remaining guests.

Headland had been prepared to assist Julia in mounting, but the old
general so perseveringly offered his services that she could not refuse
them.

She placed her foot in his hand as he bent down, and sprang lightly into
her saddle, but at the same moment the horse moving on, the general's
head came in contact with the body of her habit, when his wig catching
in one of the buttons, off it came, leaving him bald-headed.  He bore
the misfortune, however, with much less equanimity, especially as Julia,
in spite of the effort she made, gave expression to her amusement in a
hearty laugh which was echoed by the bystanders, even the grooms being
unable to restrain their merriment.

"I beg your pardon, general," said Julia.  "I had no intention to return
your courtesy in so cruel a manner; here is your wig, do put it on, and
forgive me."

"Of course, young lady, of course; though I do not see that the
occurrence should produce so much merriment among our friends."

"My dear general," cried Mrs Appleton from the steps above, "pray do
not take the matter to heart.  Come into the drawing-room and look at
yourself in the mirror, and you may arrange your peruke in a more
becoming way than it is at present."

In fact, the general had in his hurry put on his wig hind part before, a
mode which did not improve the appearance of his countenance, reddened
with anger and annoyance.

Harry, eager to be off, called to Julia, who, again apologising to the
angry general, followed her brother, and Headland soon overtook them.

Harry explained the cause of his being late, but he felt little inclined
for conversation.  Julia and Captain Headland were, however, perfectly
ready to monopolise it, while Harry road on a little way ahead.

At length Julia called to him, and as he slackened his speed she came up
to his side.

"Harry," she said, "you warned me some days ago not to allow myself to
give my heart to your friend; but as he has assured me that I have his
in spite of what you said, I could do nothing less than give him mine in
return."

"You don't mean to say so," cried Harry.  "What, has he proposed?"

"Yes, and I have accepted him, though he has told me his whole history.
You won't be angry with me, will you?  He has asked me to intercede for
him."

"No, indeed, I will not," exclaimed Harry.  "I am heartily glad for his
sake and yours.  I congratulate both you and him."

"Headland, my dear fellow, she has told me," and Harry grasped his
friend's hand.  "You offered to stand my friend, and I will stand yours,
though really I consider your merits are sufficient to overcome all
opposition.  Still we may possibly have a hard battle to fight with Sir
Ralph."

"Julia and I are prepared for it," said Headland, "though I cannot tempt
her to be disobedient.  I am sure that perseverance will overcome all
difficulties."

"Spoken like yourself, Jack," said Harry.  "In your case, I am sure it
will.  For myself, I am not quite so certain; even my good cousins began
to lecture me," and Harry described how the Miss Pembertons had spoken
to him in the morning.  "I do not think that May will quite agree with
them, however," he added.  "No one will forbid her acting as she thinks
right."

"Then are you actually engaged to that beautiful girl?" asked Julia.

"Yes; and I told our mother, and she acknowledges that it would have
been surprising had I not fallen in love with her; and I am sure you
will think the same."

Harry felt in much better spirits as they rode on.  He had determined,
however, to say nothing of May's parentage till his sister had become
better acquainted with her.

As they were approaching Downside, and had reached a part of the road
between their cousins' and the Halliburts' cottage, the tall figure of
Mad Sal was seen approaching them, waving her staff and talking wildly
to herself.  As she drew near she stopped, and, gazing at them,
exclaimed--

"Who gave the command to bear the poor lad away over the salt sea, salt
sea?  Stay! answer me, I charge you!"

"What do you mean, my good dame?" asked Harry, as he at once recognised
the occupant of the hut in which he and his brother had taken refuge
from the storm.

"Good dame, forsooth; you call me so now, for ye have learned to respect
me.  I ask, was it by your orders yon lad was forced away against his
will over the wide, salt sea?

  "`The lot fell on the youngest,
  The youngest of the three,
  That he should go a-sailing
  All on the salt sea, salt sea -
  That he should go a-sailing
  All on the salt sea.'"

"I know of no lad having been forced to go to sea against his will,"
said Harry, quietly.  "Of whom do you speak?  Tell me his name."

She passed her hand over her brow, as if to collect her thoughts.  She
then answered in a calmer tone than before--

"He is the son of old Halliburt, the fisherman.  Two of his sons have
been borne away already to feed the insatiate maws of the cruel salt
sea; 'tis hard that the old man should lose a third."

"I will do all I can to save the lad, and punish those who have
attempted to treat him as you say," answered Harry, much interested.
"If you can tell me where he has been carried to, I will do my utmost to
get him set at liberty."

"I stay for no one when on my destined course," she answered, moving
forward.  "Your help will avail him nothing, as he will soon be far away
from the shore," and Mad Sal, flourishing her staff, as she generally
did when walking, took the way towards Adam's cottage.

Harry and his companions rode on to Downside.  He intended, should May
not have returned, to leave Julia there, and go in search of the mad
woman.  An undefined fear seized him that something might have happened
to May.  On reaching the house, Harry threw himself from his horse.
Miss Jane, in a state of great agitation, was at the front door
directing Susan to summon the gardener, that he might set off and
ascertain what had become of Jacob.  Harry fancied that she was speaking
of May, and the dread seized him that she had been carried off.

At that moment he caught sight of her as she came out of the
drawing-room, and forgetting everything else, he sprang forward and
pressed her to his heart, as he exclaimed--

"Thank heaven you are safe, May! what has happened?"

"Jacob was attacked while defending me from some men on horseback, and I
fear they have carried him off, as they failed to capture me," she
answered, making no very great effort to release herself, though she saw
that Julia's eyes were fixed on her.

Harry, however, recollecting that others were present released her, and
having learned more particulars, had no doubt, coupling them with what
he heard from Mad Sal, that Jacob had really been carried on board some
vessel off the coast.

"We must do our best to recover him."

"Oh yes, do," exclaimed May.  "Had it not been for him, I should
probably have been carried away."

"Headland, will you accompany me?" asked Harry.  "We will go to Adam
Halliburt, who has a craft, in which we can pursue the vessel his son
has been carried on board.  When we get to the beach we shall probably
ascertain what craft she is, as she cannot have got far."

Headland at once agreed to do as Harry proposed, and leaving Julia with
the Miss Pembertons, they rode down to the fisherman's cottage.

They found Adam at the door, Mad Sal having just before left him; but
the information she had given had been in such incoherent language, that
not till Harry and his friend arrived did he comprehend what had
happened.

"It must be the doing of that scoundrel Miles Gaffin," he exclaimed, "as
his lugger is the only vessel lying off the mill.  Ah, there she stands
under all sail away from the coast," looking through his glass.  "I saw
a boat go off to her just now, but I little thought my Jacob was aboard.
The villains cannot have the heart to hurt him, yet it's hard to say
what they won't do.  Oh Jacob, my boy, my boy," and Adam lifted up his
eyes to heaven, as if for protection for his son.

Directly Harry spoke of the possibility of recovering him by going in
pursuit, he exclaimed--

"Yes, to be sure, sir; the _Nancy_ is as fast a craft as any, and there
will be plenty of lads to go off with us."

Headland, meantime, was looking seaward.

"What is that craft out there?" he asked, "she looks to me like a
cutter."

Adam lifted his glass.

"Yes, sir; she is the _Scout_, revenue cutter.  But they will not
trouble themselves with the lugger, for they know she has no cargo on
board."

"But if we can get on board her," said Headland, "and send her in chase,
she will have a better chance of overtaking the lugger than the fishing
boat would have."

"Thank you, sir," exclaimed Adam.  "I will let my crew know they are
wanted, and when I have spoken a few words of comfort to my poor missus,
who is ill in bed, I'll be with you on board the _Nancy_."

Adam, sending off a lad to summon his men, directed him at the same time
to beg that Mrs Brown would come down and stay with his missus, while
the two officers rode to the Texford Arms to leave their horses.  They
then hurried to the quay, where Adam and most of his crew were
collected.  As soon as the remainder arrived they went on board the
_Nancy_.  She was quickly under weigh, and the wind being off-shore ran
out of the harbour.

"Is your boat a fast one?" asked Captain Headland of Adam.

"Yes, sir; not a faster out of the Tex, but I am afraid she has little
chance of overhauling the lugger."

"But if the wind falls light we may pull after her, and shall then have
the advantage," observed Captain Headland.

"She has got long sweeps too, sir.  But we will try it, and my lads will
give way with a will.  I can trust them for that."

"Ay, ay, no fear," answered the men, looking towards the smuggler as if
they were eager to be alongside her and to rescue Jacob.

"I believe that our best course would be to get on board the cutter, and
for her to go in chase of the lugger," said Harry; "though I do not
think the smugglers would dare to oppose us if we could get up with
them."

"Whether or not, we will try to get back our Jacob, and the lads would
make good play with the boat's stretchers in spite of the cutlasses and
pistols the villains have to fight with."

"They would scarcely venture to use them when they see two king's
officers in the boat," observed Headland.

"I am not so sure of that," said Adam.  "But they have a bad cause and
we have a good one to fight for.  We will get the oars out, lads," he
added, addressing his crew.

_The Nancy_ thus assisted made good way, for the wind being light and
off-shore, as has been said, the water was perfectly smooth, and the
oars helped her along.  Still it became evident to Captain Headland that
she was not likely to overhaul the lugger.  He therefore agreed with
Harry that it would be best to get on board the cutter if they could.

The cutter was, however, sailing away from them, apparently watching the
movements of the lugger.  Their hope was that the _Nancy_ might be seen,
and that she might stand back to speak her.

The day was now drawing on, and Harry began to think of returning to
Downside.  Still they were unwilling to abandon all hopes of rescuing
Jacob.  They had no means of making a signal to draw the attention of
the cutter, and if they could not get on board before dark, there was
little prospect of their doing so at all.

The old fisherman sat in the stern-sheets, calm and apparently unmoved,
though more eager than any one to overtake the craft on board which his
only remaining son had been so barbarously carried off.  Often he said
to himself with the patriarch of old, "If I am bereaved of my children I
am bereaved;" for he could not help seeing the little prospect there was
of recovering his boy.

Already the sun had set behind the land, and the gloom of evening was
stealing over the leaden ocean when the cutter was seen to haul her
wind.  Presently she came about and stood to the northward.

"We may still have a chance of overhauling her, sir," exclaimed Adam,
his hopes reviving.

Headland and Harry thought so too, although both were unwilling to
remain out longer than they could help.

"Julia will probably ride back to Texford by herself when she finds that
we have not returned; or will remain at our cousins and send over to say
that we have been detained," observed Harry, divining his friend's
thoughts.

"I fear that we shall cause the ladies much anxiety, as they will not
know what has become of us," observed Headland.

"I am afraid so," said Harry; "but still I cannot bear that the young
fisherman should be ill-treated without attempting to save him."

"God bless you, Mr Harry, for saying that," exclaimed Adam.  "I pray we
may get back our Jacob, for I know the tricks of those villains; and the
_Lively_ has a fast pair of heels; there are few cutters can come up
with her, and the _Scout_ is not one of those that can.  Still something
may happen to help us, though it will not be man's doing.  I can't
deceive myself, and I don't want to deceive you."

Headland feared that the old man was right.  At the same time, as long
as Harry had any hopes of overtaking the lugger he determined to
accompany him.

The cutter was now about a mile distant to the south-east, but it was a
question whether the _Nancy_ could cut her off before she had run past
to the north and darkness had come on.

The _Nancy's_ flag was run up to the mast-head and hauled down again
several times in the hopes of attracting her attention.

As they approached, even though it was dark, their voices might be heard
on board the cutter, and her commander would probably heave to to
ascertain what they wanted.

Some more anxious minutes went by.  At length Adam thought they had got
near enough to make themselves heard; for though the gloom of night had
come on, the cutter's phantom-like form could now be seen as she glided
onwards over the smooth sea.

"Now, lads, I will give the word and we will shout together," cried
Adam; and he and his crew, with Headland and Harry joining their voices,
sent a loud shout across the ocean.

Directly afterwards the cutter was seen to haul up towards them.

"They have heard us! they have heard us!" he exclaimed.  "Wait a bit,
lads, we will give them another."

After the second shout the cutter was hove to, and the _Nancy_ was soon
alongside.

"What is it you want, my men?" asked the commander, looking down into
the boat.

Harry explained what had happened.

"I shall be glad to lay hands on the lugger, you may depend on that, for
she has given me more trouble than any other craft on this coast," he
answered.  "We have two of our boats away, and are short handed, though
we would tackle the fellow as we are.  It would be better if some of
your men would come on board, and if we can overtake the lugger, they
will be able to identify the lad you are in search of."

"I will willingly accompany you," said Harry, who, knowing how anxious
May was about Jacob, wished to do what he thought she would desire.

"If the captain will take charge of the _Nancy_, I will go also with two
of my lads," said Adam.  "I would take more, but must not leave the
craft with fewer hands on board."

Headland was well pleased with the arrangement, and undertook to escort
Julia back to Texford, if she had not already gone, when he arrived at
Downside.

There was no time to consider the matter further, as not a moment was to
be lost, or there would be no prospect of overtaking the lugger.

"I hope that you will be back to-morrow, Harry, and I will ride over to
Hurlston to meet you," said Headland, as he stepped into the boat.

The cutter immediately kept away in the direction the lugger had last
been seen, while the _Nancy_, hauling her wind, prepared to beat back to
the shore.



CHAPTER THIRTY SIX.

SIR RALPH'S ARRIVAL.

The _Nancy_, close-hauled, stood for the shore.

"Two or three tacks will do it, sir, I hope," said Ned Brown, who, since
Adam had been deprived of Ben's services, had acted as his mate.  "The
_Nancy_ knows her way into the harbour."

"The oars will help her along though, I think," observed Headland.

The men got them out, and the _Nancy_ glided swiftly through the water.

"I am hoping, sir, the cutter will catch Miles Gaffin's craft.  There is
not a bigger villain to be found than he is in these parts."

"What has he done to gain such a character?" asked Headland.

"That's just what no one can say exactly," answered Ned, "still it's
pretty well known that there is nothing he would not dare to do if he
chose to do it.  He says he is one thing, and we know he is another.
When he first came to Hurlston, he used to call himself a miller, and
there is not a bolder seaman to be found anywhere.  He does not now,
however, pretend that he isn't.  Many is the cargo of smuggled goods he
has run on this coast, and yet he always manages to keep out of the
clutches of the revenue officers.  There are not a few decent lads he
has got to go aboard his craft, and they have either lost their lives,
or turned out such ruffians that they have been a sorrow and disgrace to
their families.  He is more than suspected of having been a pirate, or
something of that sort, in foreign parts.  And they say when he first
came to Hurlston, he seemed to know this coast as well as if he had been
born and bred here, though he told people that chance brought him to the
place, and that he had never set eyes on it before."

"At all events, if common report speaks true, Hurlston will be well rid
of him, if he does not venture back.  I hope that the law will, at all
events, be able to lay hands on the villain should it be proved that he
kidnapped your friend Jacob," observed Headland.

"If the cutter catches his craft, Jacob may be saved.  I am more than
afraid that Gaffin will knock him on the head, and heave him overboard
with a shot to his feet, if he finds that he is hard-pressed, and then
he will deny ever having had the poor fellow on board."

"I trust, bad as he is, that he will not be guilty of such an act," said
Headland, though, at the same time, he feared, from what he had heard of
Gaffin, that he would not scruple to commit that or any other dark deed
to serve his purpose.

Headland was thankful when at length the boat glided into the Tex, and
ran alongside the quay.

Several people were standing there.  The news of what had occurred had
spread about the village.  Headland, anxious to lose no time, asked if
any boy would be willing to run on to the Texford Arms to order his
horse.

"Say Captain Headland's horse, the gentleman who accompanied Mr Harry
Castleton," he said.

"Captain Headland!" said a person standing near, stepping up to him.
"May I venture to ask where you come from?"

"I shall be happy to reply when I know to whom I speak," said Headland,
not quite liking the man's tone of voice.

"I am Miles Gaffin, the miller of Hurlston.  My good neighbours here
have been making pretty free with my name, and accusing me of carrying
off one of their number on board a lugger, which I understand you have
been chasing, sir, when I have had nothing to do with the matter, having
been miles away at the time the occurrence is said to have taken place."

"I cannot say that I am unacquainted with your name, for I have just
heard it mentioned, and I shall be glad to hear that you can give me the
assurance that the young man has not been carried away," said Headland.

"I know nothing about the matter," answered Gaffin, "so I cannot tell
whether the story I have heard is true or not.  You, at all events, see,
sir, that I am not on board the lugger, which I hear left the coast some
hours ago.  But I must again beg your pardon, and ask you to answer the
question I put when I first had the honour of addressing you."

"I am a commander in his Majesty's service, and you must rest satisfied
with that answer, sir," said Headland, not feeling disposed to be more
communicative to his suspicious questioner.

"Were you ever in the Indian seas in your younger days, sir?  You will
believe me that it is not idle curiosity that makes me put the
question," said Gaffin, in the blandest tone he could assume.

"You are right in your supposition," said Headland, his own curiosity
somewhat excited by the question.

"And you were known as Jack Headland when a boy."

"I was."

"And you took that name from another to whom it properly belonged."

"I did.  Can you tell me anything of him?" said Headland, eagerly.

"I wish to ask that question of you, sir," replied Gaffin.  "He was an
old shipmate of mine, and being struck by hearing your name, I thought
there might be some connection.  I have long lost sight of him, and
should have been glad to hear that he was alive and well."

"He lost his life, I have too much reason to believe, in the Indian seas
many years ago," said Headland.

"Ah, poor fellow, I am sorry to hear that.  Good evening to you, Captain
Headland," and Miles Gaffin, turning away, was soon lost to sight in the
darkness.

Captain Headland, accompanied by one of the _Nancy's_ crew, hastened on
till he met his horse, and mounting rode back to Downside.  He found the
ladies somewhat anxious at his and his friend's long absence.  Julia had
sent a messenger on foot home to say that they were delayed, and hoped
to return in the evening.  Julia and the ladies made many inquiries for
Harry, while May stood by, showing, by her looks, even still greater
anxiety about him.  Headland assured them that he would run no risk,
though he probably would not be back till the following day.

Headland, for Julia's sake, wished to set off at once for Texford, but
Miss Jane had supper prepared, and insisted on his taking some before
starting.  Whether or not they suspected that he would become their
relation, they treated him as if he were one already, and completely won
his heart.

"What dear, amiable ladies your cousins are!" he observed, as he rode on
with Julia.  "I have never had the happiness of meeting any one like
them."

"Indeed they are," said Julia; "I wish they were more appreciated at
home.  I have till lately been prejudiced against them.  It has been an
advantage for that sweet girl to have been brought up by them.  Though
she would have been equally lovely otherwise, yet she might not have had
the charms of mind which she possesses.  I am not surprised that Harry
should have fallen in love with her, though I fear he will have a severe
trial to go through when our father hears of his engagement.  Though I
do not forget that we are bound to obey our parents, yet I could not
counsel him to give her up."

"If she is all Harry believes her to be, I hope he may surmount that
difficulty," said Headland.  "Though I have no parents to obey, I feel
that he would be wrong to marry against his parents' wishes."

"Then, how ought I to act should Sir Ralph refuse to allow us to marry,"
asked Julia in a voice which showed her agitation.

"I dare not advise you to disobey your father," answered Headland.  "But
believe me, dearest Julia, whatever opposition he may make, and whatever
may be his conduct towards me, I will remain faithful."

"Should he forbid me to marry, to no one else will I give my hand," said
Julia, sorrowfully.

Neither Julia nor Headland uttered a vow or protestation; such they both
felt was not required, so perfect was the confidence they had in each
other's love.

"I spoke this," said Julia, "because Harry warned me to expect
opposition; and yet I trust, when our father knows you as I do, and that
my happiness depends on becoming your wife, he will not withhold his
consent."

"I wish that I could feel as little anxiety about Harry as I do about
myself, and yet if our father can be induced to see May, I think she
will do more to soften his heart than all Harry or I can plead in her
favour.  During the few hours I spent in her company, she completely won
mine."

As they rode up to the house, two servants, who had evidently been on
the watch for them, hastened down the steps to take their horses.
Headland helped Julia to dismount, and led her into the hall.

Lady Castleton hurried out of the drawing-room to meet them.

"Sir Ralph arrived this afternoon.  We have been very anxious about you;
we could not understand your message.  Where is Harry?  What has
happened, Captain Headland?"

Headland explained that a young Hurlston fisherman had been kidnapped by
a band of smugglers, that he and Harry, indignant at the outrage, had
set off in the hopes of recovering him, and that while he had returned
on shore, Harry had continued the chase on board the cutter.

"Harry was scarcely called upon to go through so much risk and
inconvenience for the sake of a stranger," observed Lady Castleton.
"His father was much disappointed at not seeing him on his arrival."

Julia pleaded that Harry had done what he thought to be right, and then
went in to see her father, who was reclining on the sofa, with his
fingers between the pages of a book closed in his hand.  He received her
even more coldly than usual; he never exhibited much warmth of feeling
even to her.  She had again to recount what had happened, and he
expressed the utmost surprise at Harry's acting in so extraordinary a
manner.  He did not allude to her ride home with Captain Headland,
though she every moment thought he would speak of it.  She excused
herself for leaving him as soon as possible on the plea that she must
change her riding-habit.

When Headland at last entered the drawing-room, the baronet received him
with marked coldness, and made no allusion to his having been absent.
The young captain could not help feeling that Sir Ralph did not regard
him with a favourable eye.

Julia came down only for a few minutes before the usual hour for
retiring for the night had arrived, and Headland had no opportunity of
speaking to her.



CHAPTER THIRTY SEVEN.

NO NEWS OF THE CUTTER.

When Sir Ralph entered the breakfast-room next morning, Headland could
not help remarking the formal politeness with which he greeted him.

"Has nothing been seen of my son Harry?" he asked.  "Perhaps, Captain
Headland, you would favour me by riding over to Hurlston to ascertain
whether the cutter in which he embarked has returned."

Headland said that he should be very happy to do as Sir Ralph wished.
He looked towards Julia, doubting whether he might venture to ask her to
ride in the same direction.

Sir Ralph seemed to divine his thoughts, for he immediately said--

"Julia, I wish to have some conversation with you during the morning; we
will afterwards, if you please, take a canter round the park."

The hint was too broad Headland saw to be misunderstood.

Julia looked annoyed, but quickly recovering herself, replied--

"I will come to you, papa, whenever you wish."

Algernon soon after came in, looking pale and ill.  His father seemed
struck by his appearance, and asked with more concern than usual if he
had not slept well.

"Not particularly so; my cough somewhat troubled me, but with the
advantage of a few warm days, I daresay I shall be soon to rights
again."

The baronet's thoughts seemed to be diverted from their former channel
by his anxiety for his son.

General Sampson and Mrs Appleton did their best to make the
conversation more lively than it might otherwise have become, for Lady
Castleton had evidently some anxiety on her mind, and was less able than
usual to act the part of the hostess.

The old gentleman had discovered that Julia and Headland were in love
before they were aware of the fact themselves, and he had a shrewd
suspicion also that Master Harry had some greater attraction at Downside
than his old maiden cousins could personally offer.  He was now certain
that some hitch had occurred.  He had already paid a longer visit than
usual, but a better motive than mere curiosity prompted him to stay to
see the upshot.  He had a sincere regard for Harry and Julia, and was
much pleased with Headland, who took his jokes in most excellent part.
"I may lend the young people a helping hand, and give my friend Sir
Ralph, a stroke the right way," he thought.

Soon after breakfast, Headland's horse was brought to the door.  He saw
Julia only for a moment in the hall.

"Although I have had no opportunity of speaking to my mother, she, I
suspect, guesses the truth, and has thought it best at once to speak to
Sir Ralph, for she dare not conceal anything from him.  I would rather
you had been the first to inform him of our engagement, but he evidently
wished to prevent you doing so, by begging you to go to Hurlston."

"I wish I could have spoken myself, but, pray, assure your father that I
would have done so had he given me the opportunity.  But as we have
nothing for which to blame ourselves, we must trust that his prejudices
will be overcome, and that he will not withhold you from me."

The old general entering the hall at that moment, prevented Headland
from saying more.

Mounting his horse, the captain road on to Hurlston.  He met several of
the _Nancy's_ crew.  The cutter had not returned, and Ned Brown again
expressed his conviction that if the lugger was to be caught, it would
not be till after a long chase.  Knowing that the ladies of Downside
would be anxious to hear any news he could give, he proceeded thither.
The Miss Pembertons welcomed him cordially.  May was on the point of
setting out to visit Dame Halliburt.  She had from early dawn kept a
look-out over the ocean, and was aware that the cutter had not returned.
He was more than ever struck by her beauty and unaffected manners,
though her anxiety on Harry's and Jacob's account made her paler and
graver than usual.  She expressed her regret at being compelled to set
off at once, and Headland therefore did not mention Sir Ralph's arrival
till she had gone.

"I am sorry to hear of it," said Miss Jane, "for I fear that it will
terminate Harry's and May's present happiness, and that the troubles and
trials which I foresee are in store for them will at once begin, though
I trust that they may overcome them in the end."

Captain Headland felt the remark applied equally to his own case, though
he did not say so.  He had omitted on the previous evening mentioning
his meeting with Gaffin.  He now did so, remarking--

"I understood that he was the leader of the party carrying off the young
fisherman, but he assured me that he knew nothing of the matter, and was
several miles distant when it occurred."

"I almost wish that he had been of the party if such is the case, for if
he remains here, I fear that our May will be exposed to danger," said
Miss Jane.

"Surely no one would venture to injure a young lady living with you,"
observed Headland.

Miss Jane then told him of the annoyance to which May had been subjected
from Gaffin's son.

Headland naturally felt indignant.

"Strong measures must be taken to get this man Gaffin and his son out of
the way," he remarked.  "As soon as Harry returns we will see what can
be done.  In the meantime I will ride down to the cottage and ascertain
that your young friend has reached it in safety, and will wait to escort
her back."

He soon caught sight of her at about half-way to Adam's cottage.  At the
same moment a person resembling the man who had spoken to him on the
previous night appeared and seemed about to address May, who quickened
her pace, when catching sight of Headland he apparently thought better
of it and advanced to meet him.

"Good-day, Captain Headland," said the man, looking up at him with cool
assurance.  "Your friend, Mr Harry Castleton, will have a long chase
after the lugger, a wild goose chase I suspect it will prove.  I have
been enquiring into the truth of the story you heard, and I find that it
was spread by a wretched old mad woman whom the people about here take
to be a witch.  The sooner she is ducked in the sea, and proved to be an
ordinary mortal who has lost her senses, the better.  It is disagreeable
for a man in my position to have his character belied in this way."

"We certainly heard a story from a mad woman, but she spoke in a way
which led us to suppose she described an actual occurrence," said
Headland.  "From what you say I conclude you are Mr Gaffin who
addressed me last night."

"The same at your service, Captain Headland.  I have no further
questions to ask, however, since you can give me no account of my old
shipmate; I am sorry to hear of his death; good-day to you, sir," and
Gaffin moved on, taking the direction of the mill.

This last interview left a still more unfavourable impression on
Headland's mind of Mr Miles Gaffin.  He did not like the expression of
the man's countenance or the impudent swagger of his manner; while it
was evident by the way he talked that he was a person of some education.
Headland tried to recollect whether he had before seen him, or whether
his old protector had ever mentioned his name.

As he rode on slowly, keeping May in sight, he suddenly recollected the
description Jack Headland had given him of the mate of the ship on board
which he had been placed by his supposed father, when a child.  "Can
that man in any way be connected with my history?" he thought.  "He
certainly must have known poor Jack Headland; he had some motive,
possibly, in speaking of him."

The more he thought the more puzzled he became.  The only conclusion he
arrived at was that Gaffin and the mate of the vessel in which he had
been wrecked might possibly be one and the same person, and if so, from
Jack's account, he was undoubtedly a villain, capable of any crime.

Having seen May enter Halliburt's cottage, he rode to the Texford Arms
and put up his horse, resolving to wait in the neighbourhood till she
should again come out.  He would then have time to get back and mount
his horse--which he told the hostler to keep saddled--and follow her.

He in the meantime took a few turns on the pier, and got into
conversation with two or three of the old seafaring men who were
standing about; the younger were at sea in their boats, or had gone home
after the night's fishing.  He made enquiries about the man he had just
met.  They all repeated the same story; their opinion was that he had
been a pirate or something of that sort on the Spanish main, or in other
distant seas, and having for a wonder escaped, he had returned home to
follow a more peaceful and less dangerous calling, though still in
reality unreformed and quite ready to break the laws of his country.
From the description they gave of his wife, Headland thought that she
must have been an Oriental, and this strengthened his idea that he was
the man of whom Jack had spoken.  Had he enquired about the Halliburts
he might have learned the particulars of May's early history, but he
still remained under the impression that she was a ward of the Miss
Pembertons, and had merely come down to visit the dame as she would any
other of the villagers suffering from sickness or sorrow.

Notwithstanding Gaffin's assertion that he knew nothing about Jacob
being carried off, the men were certain that though he might not have
been present, it had been done at his instigation, as his crew were
known to be ready to engage in any daring undertaking he might suggest.
They, however, feared that there was very little prospect of the lugger
being captured.

"That mate of his would sooner run her under water or blow her up than
let a king's officer come on board, and it will be better for poor Jacob
if the cutter does not come up with her," observed one of them.

Headland borrowed a glass and swept the horizon several times, but no
craft like the cutter appeared.  At length he went back to the spot
whence he could watch Adam's door for May's appearance.  She came out at
last, and he hurried to the inn to get his horse.  He soon again caught
sight of her and followed her at a distance till she reached Downside.

If Gaffin was, as he supposed it possible, watching her, that person
took good care to keep out of his sight.

After waiting for a few minutes, Headland rode up to the cottage.  He
thought it would be prudent to let Miss Jane know of his having again
seen Gaffin, and he took an opportunity, while May was out of the room,
to tell her.  She thanked him warmly.

"We must keep a careful watch over the safety of our young friend," she
observed, "and while that dreadful man remains at the mill, must not
allow her to go out alone.  I hear that Sir Ralph's steward has given
him warning to quit it at the end of his present lease.  He will be
unable to find another place of similar character suitable to his
purposes."

When May came in Headland had the opportunity of conversing with her,
and no longer felt surprised that she should so completely have won
Harry's affections.  Though he thought her inferior in some respects to
Julia, he acknowledged to himself that she was one of the most charming
girls he had seen, and was as much struck with her modesty and
simplicity as with her sprightliness and beauty.

"It is a pity Sir Ralph could not be induced to see her," he thought;
and he resolved to advise Julia to try and get her father to call at
Downside, if possible, before he was aware of Harry's attachment, so
that he might be perfectly unprejudiced.

Headland naturally wished to be back at Texford, though unwilling to go
without being able to take any news of Harry.

At last as evening was approaching he rode once more to a point in the
village where he could obtain an uninterrupted view of the sea, but the
cutter was still not in sight.  Accordingly, wishing the Miss Pembertons
and May farewell, he set off on his way to the park.

He could conscientiously assure Lady Castleton that she need not be at
all anxious about her son, as there was nothing surprising in the cutter
not having returned.  Sir Ralph seemed vexed at not seeing him, but made
no other remark.

Captain Headland felt conscious that though Julia was anxious to be with
him, her mother took every means in her power to prevent their meeting
alone without showing too clearly that she was doing so.  Julia found an
opportunity, and told him her father was aware of their love, but had
said that he would reserve any expression of his intentions till he had
seen Harry.  With this Headland was compelled to be content.

The baronet was perfectly polite, if not cordial, to him during the
evening, and next morning he asked him if he would again ride over to
Hurlston.

Algernon apologised for not accompanying him on the plea of illness.

Headland could not help suspecting that he was sent to be kept out of
Julia's way; and but for her sake and Harry's, he would at once have
left Texford.

He spent the day by first going to the village, and then calling at
Downside, after which he took a long ride over the Downs to the south,
whence he could see the cutter should she return.

Again, however, he was doomed to disappointment.

On his way back he met Mr Groocock, and begging the steward to
accompany him, mentioned what he had heard about Gaffin.

"The man is a mystery to me, Captain Headland.  I believe him to be all
you have heard.  But he has possession of the mill, and until his lease
is up the law will not allow us to turn him out.  The law, you see,
captain, assists rogues as well as honest men, provided they keep within
it, and there is no evidence we can bring to prove that he is what
people say he is.  If smuggled goods were found in his mill they would
be seized, or if his vessel was taken with contraband aboard she would
be captured, and there would be an end of her, and if it is true that
his people have carried off the fisherman's son, they will be punished,
but the law cannot touch him or his vessel for that, and so, you see, he
will laugh at us, as he has done for these years past.  But the master
he serves will play him a scurvy trick in the end, as he does all his
willing slaves, I have no manner of doubt.  But, in the meantime, if he
keeps his wits awake, as he has hitherto done, he may do all sorts of
things with impunity."

To the truth of these remarks Headland agreed.

As they rode on Mr Groocock kept frequently looking up at him.

"If it's not an impertinent question, Captain Headland, may I ask if you
have been in this part of the country before?"

"No," answered Headland.  "I have been very little in England at all.  I
was born abroad, and have been at sea the greater part of my life."

"Of course--of course; I ought to have thought of that," said Mr
Groocock to himself; then he added, "I beg your pardon, captain, but you
remind me of some one I knew in former years--that made me ask the
question without thinking; you are much younger than he would have been
by this time."

Headland would willingly have enquired of whom the steward spoke, but
the old man at once abruptly changed the conversation, and they shortly
afterwards reached the gates of Texford.

The evening passed by much as the previous one had done, though Lady
Castleton and Julia had become still more anxious at not seeing Harry.

Julia thought of poor May, who would, she knew, feel still more anxious,
and she resolved, if possible, to go over to Downside the next day to
see her, and show her sympathy.



CHAPTER THIRTY EIGHT.

ALARMS.

The family had retired to rest.  Headland, however, was sitting up,
feeling no inclination to sleep, and having numerous subjects to occupy
his mind.  He looked at his watch.  It was one o'clock.

"After all, the only course which honour dictates lies straight before
me.  I would not persuade Julia to marry me without her father's
consent; and if he withholds it I shall remain pledged to her, and go to
sea till he withdraws his opposition."

At that moment the hall door bell rang a loud peal.  Taking his lamp
Headland went downstairs, hoping to find that Harry had returned.  As no
servant had appeared, he commenced withdrawing the bolts.  Not being
accustomed to the operation, he was some time about it.

"Bear a hand, let me in as fast as you can," said a voice.  It was
Harry's.  He spoke in a hurried and excited tone.

Headland succeeded at last, and Harry staggered in, looking very pale.
There was blood on his coat-sleeve and down his side.

"My dear fellow, what has happened?" exclaimed Headland.

"I have been attacked by highwaymen or ruffians of some sort, and though
I beat them off, one of them sent a bullet through my side, and another
gave me an ugly slash with a hanger.  Thanks to my good steed, and a
stout stick I carried instead of my whip, I kept them at bay till I got
clear away."

"Come to your room at once then, and have your hurts looked to; you seem
weak from loss of blood."

"I am somewhat faint, and shall be glad of some refreshment if we can
rouse up the butler; but I do not wish to alarm my mother and Julia by
making any disturbance in the house."

Headland having helped Harry to his room, received his directions where
to find the servants, and went in search of them without waiting to hear
more of his adventures.

"Thieves and robbers in the house!  I'll be after them anon," exclaimed
Boodle, the old butler, from within, giving sundry grunts and groans
while trying to arouse himself.

Directly afterwards he made his appearance with night-cap on head, his
breeches just slipped on supported by a single brace, and his feet in
slippers, while in one hand was a blunderbuss and the other held a
candle.

"You will find no thieves to fight with," said Headland, smiling at his
appearance.  "We only want you to bring a bottle of wine as a cordial,
and afterwards to obtain some bandages from the housekeeper.  Call some
one to take Mr Harry's horse, and come as soon as you can."

Headland hurried back to Harry's room.

"I believe I have only received flesh wounds of no great consequence,
and shall soon be all to rights," said Harry.

"Had we not better send off for a surgeon," asked Headland, "though I
will do my best in the meantime."

"He or the messenger might be shot at on his way," answered Harry.
"Your doctoring will be quite sufficient for the present, and we shall
see how I feel in the morning."

Boodle soon appeared with the wine.  He almost let the bottle drop as he
saw the blood on Harry's dress.

"Dear, dear! what has happened, Mr Harry?" he asked with a look of
horror.

"Nothing of consequence," answered Harry.

"Shall I call up her ladyship and Sir Ralph and Mrs Trimmings?"

"Pray, my good Boodle, do nothing of the sort; just get what Captain
Headland requires, and then turn in and go to sleep again.  We sailors,
you know, are accustomed to this sort of thing."

Boodle having become more composed, hastened away to get the bandages
and some hot water, while Headland, who had at different times assisted
the surgeon on board ship, prepared to dress his friend's hurts.

In due course Harry greatly revived, and was able to tell his story.
"You will be anxious," he said, "to hear about our chase.  We thought at
first that we should overhaul the lugger, as we had the breeze while she
was becalmed.  Still she managed to slip through the water.  We kept her
in sight all night, and the next morning the wind coming ahead I was in
great hopes that we should get up to her--indeed we actually got within
half-a-mile.  Another slant of wind favouring her, she went away with
her sheets eased off to the eastward, and shortly afterwards we lost
sight of her in a thick mist which swept over the German Ocean.  We
stood on for some hours in the hopes of sighting her again, but when the
fog cleared she was nowhere to be seen.  The commander of the cutter
declared that he had done all he could, and that we might as well look
for a needle in a bundle of hay as search longer for the lugger, so we
stood back for Hurlston."

It was some time after nightfall when we landed, and having seen poor
Adam safe in his cottage, I, of course, went up to Downside to let the
ladies know of our return.  I was not aware how quickly the time passed.
At length, finding how late it was, I mounted my horse and rode towards
Texford.

I had just got out of the village when two fellows started up in front
of my horse and tried to seize the bridle, when they treated me as I
told you.  With two blows of my stick I made them let go, when the
animal springing forward I got clear of them, and, as you may suppose,
did not draw rein till I reached this.  They may have been highwaymen,
but I suspect that they belonged to the smugglers' gang, and waylaid me
in revenge for my interference with regard to young Halliburt.

Headland, recollecting the character he had heard of Gaffin, suggested
that he possibly, with one of his companions, had attacked Harry.

"We must see about it to-morrow," he added, "and I must now insist on
your going to bed, Harry, and trying to go to sleep, or your hurts will
probably bring on fever.  You must let me take up my berth in this
arm-chair, that I may watch over you during the night."

Though Harry objected, Headland insisted on remaining, and the night
passed away, Harry having given him very little trouble.

Headland was fortunate enough to meet Julia before the rest of the
family had made their appearance.  He thus was able to give her the
first account of what had occurred, and to assure her that though Harry
might be kept in the house a few days, he was in no danger.

She at once hurried to his room.  He made light of his hurts, and
declared that he should come down to breakfast as usual.  She persuaded
him, however, to remain in bed.  He consented to do so on condition that
she would send over to May, and account for his non-appearance at
Downside that day.

Sir Ralph was very indignant at hearing of the outrage, and determined
at once to take steps to discover the perpetrators.  He had wished to
speak to his son, and was annoyed at being unable to do so, as Lady
Castleton persuaded him that any agitation would be injurious to Harry.

A surgeon had been sent for and gave a favourable report, complimenting
Captain Headland on the way he had treated his patient.

Julia and Headland met constantly in Harry's room, both being anxious to
assist in nursing him.

In a couple of days he was able to dress and come downstairs.  Perhaps
he would have remained up longer had he known the ordeal he was about to
go through.

Harry was sitting in the drawing-room when he received a message from
Sir Ralph, requesting him to come into the study.

"My father is going to question me about May," he thought.  "I had hoped
to escape this for some time to come; but I must be firm and not allow
his prejudices to cause her unhappiness."

He walked slowly in.  Sir Ralph closed the door and placed him in an
arm-chair, and took his usual seat at his writing-table.

"Harry," he said, "I had sufficient confidence in you to suppose that,
when you brought your friend Captain Headland to the house, you knew
that he was a man of family and good connections, so that should he fall
in love with your sister no objections were likely to be raised.  Am I
right in giving you credit for this amount of wisdom?"

Harry felt greatly relieved on finding that he was not to be questioned
about May.

"My friend Headland, sir," he said, "is a first-rate officer and an
excellent fellow, and is sure to gain credit for himself and to rise
high in the service."

"That may be," observed Sir Ralph.  "But I wish to know if he is a man
of family and a fit match for your sister, for I understand that he has
of late paid her great attention."

"I think so highly of him that I am sure any girl would be fortunate in
winning his affections," answered Harry.

"That's not the question I wish to have answered.  I wish to know
whether he is of good family, and has a sufficient fortune to support a
wife, as Julia ought to be supported."

"On the first point I cannot enlighten you," answered Harry; "for I
confess that I do not know of what family he is, but he has been very
fortunate in making prize money, and I am sure he has quite enough to
live in a way to satisfy Julia."

"I was afraid it might be so from never having heard him speak of his
family," said Sir Ralph.  "You have acted very imprudently, Harry, in
bringing a man of his description here.  Though I do not wish to act
with discourtesy, I desire you will give him to understand that he is no
longer welcome at Texford."

"That is impossible, father," exclaimed Harry.  "He is devotedly
attached to Julia, and I am sure she is to him.  If he is told to go, I
must go also.  I have said that, though I do not know his family, for
the simple reason that he does not know it himself.  He is everything
that is noble, and good, and excellent, and I would rather see Julia
marry him than any other person in existence."

"I know the world better than you do, Harry, and such a marriage as you
wish me to sanction for your sister is not calculated to promote her
welfare, and that is the point I, as her father, have to consider."

"If she is not allowed to marry Headland she will be miserable,"
exclaimed Harry.

"I had considered the point maturely before I sent for you," said Sir
Ralph, "and I wish to save your friend the annoyance of being spoken to
by me.  If you refuse to tell him my determination, I shall have to do
so.  And now, Harry, I have another matter to speak to you about."

Harry grew nervous.

"I understand during my absence you have paid frequent visits to
Downside."

"Yes, sir," said Harry, "Our cousins kindly invited me there."

"I know they did, and placed a young lady, I hear, of some personal
attractions in your way, and, like a sailor, you directly tumbled over
head and ears in love with her.  I strip the matter of the romance with
which you may be inclined to surround it.  Do I not speak the truth?"

"I confess, sir," said Harry, determined to speak boldly, "I have met at
the Miss Pembertons a young lady to whom I have declared my love."

"You have declared your fiddlestick," exclaimed the baronet, with less
than his usual dignity.  "You could make no promise without my sanction,
and that I cannot give you.  You can let the girl know this in any way
you like."

"My affections were engaged before I was aware of it, and as I am of
age, and the young lady is in every way calculated to insure my
happiness, and I have the means of supporting her without taxing you, I
felt that I had a right to propose to her."

"In other words, you were entrapped before you saw the meshes spread to
catch you, and discarding every other consideration, are ready to
disobey me, and give up your profession, and all your prospects of
advancement in life, for the sake of a pretty face," observed the
baronet, sarcastically.  "Though _you_ are ready to make a fool of
yourself, I must exert my paternal authority and save you from ruin."

"But I do not contemplate giving up my profession, and the prize money I
have already made, with what I may hope to obtain, will give me ample
means to support a wife," answered Harry.

"Have you calculated, may I ask, to what this princely fortune you speak
of amounts?"

"Three or four hundred a year, sir, not including my pay; and the young
lady herself is not penniless, for our cousins have resolved to leave
her their property."

"Our cousins leave a stranger their property!" exclaimed Sir Ralph.  "It
should be Julia's or yours; it came through the Castletons, and should
return to them."

"So it will, sir," said Harry, having, as he hoped, caught his father in
a trap, "when May marries me."

"I see how it is," observed the baronet, not noticing Harry's last
remark.  "Our sanctimonious cousins wish to get a husband for this girl
they have picked up, and as they are not likely to meet any other young
gentleman in the secluded way they live, they have entrapped you."

"I assure you, sir, you do them great wrong," observed Harry, warmly.
"I went to the house of my own accord, and I am sure it did not enter
their heads that I should fall in love with their friend.  I wish, sir,
that you could see them and the lady you condemn.  Possessing as you do
so exquisite a taste in female beauty and refinement, I am sure you will
admire her."

"I may possibly call at the Miss Pembertons, because I wish to express
my opinion of their conduct in the matter," said the baronet, wishing
not to appear influenced by his son's remarks.  "I may then see this
girl who has caught you.  I tell you that if she were as beautiful as
Venus, nothing would alter my determination.  May I ask, do you know who
she is?  Your mother has only spoken to me of her as the Miss Pembertons
protege."

Harry, feeling perfectly sure that should he answer the question his
father would be still more adverse to his marriage, and would possibly
express himself forcibly on the subject, replied--

"I wish, sir, that you would see her before I answer the last question.
I wish you to judge her on her own merits, independent of all other
considerations."

Harry had maintained the conversation with a good deal of spirit, though
he felt somewhat exhausted, when his father, turning to the table, began
to write without apparently noticing him.  While thus seated, his eye
fell on the picture of his long lost uncle which hung next to Sir
Reginald's.  Though he had been often in the room, he had never
particularly noticed it, for it was in a bad light, and the features
were not distinct.  A gleam of sunlight now coming into the room fell
directly on it, and suddenly, as he gazed, a strange idea came into his
mind.  He thought, and thought.  "Yes, the features and expression
remind me much of what he was at the same age, and yet it must be
fancy."

Sir Ralph suddenly interrupted his reveries.

"Harry," he said, "I do not wish to quarrel with your friend, that is
not my way, but you will take an early opportunity of advising him to
spend the remainder of his time on shore elsewhere."

"But has Headland proposed to you for Julia?" asked Harry.

"No, and I wish to prevent him from doing so," said Sir Ralph.  "We
shall part on much better terms than would be the case had I to refuse
his offer, and I dislike such a scene as is likely to follow.  If he
goes away without being engaged she will soon forget him, and he,
employed in active service, will forget her; the matter will thus be
settled, and much inconvenience saved."



CHAPTER THIRTY NINE.

SIR RALPH AT DOWNSIDE.

Harry had returned to his room when the surgeon, Mr Curtis, arrived.

"Pulse is not as satisfactory as I should have wished," he observed.
"We must keep you quiet, Mr Harry, and I must request you to remain in
your room till I see you again."

"What!" exclaimed Harry.  "I thought of taking a ride to-morrow.  I am
very anxious to go over to Downside."

"Totally out of the question, Mr Harry.  You would very likely bring on
a fever, and I could not answer for the consequences."

"Have you seen the Miss Pembertons lately?" asked Harry.

"Yes.  Miss Jane, though she generally considers her skill superior to
mine, sent for me to attend the young lady who lives with them, and I
suspect, Mr Harry, that you had something to do with her illness,
though I am happy to say there is nothing serious.  She heard somewhat
abruptly of your having been attacked by the robbers, and it was said
that you had only just time to reach the hall and fall down in a dead
faint.  When I assured her that you were in no danger at all, and would
soon recover if you followed my advice, she quickly got better, and I
hope to find her quite well when I next call."

"Though I may not ride, could I not drive there?" asked Harry.  "I must
see her, or she may still be fancying that I am worse than is the case."

"Not with my leave, certainly," said the doctor.  "I will take care to
let her know how you are getting on, and if, as I suspect, you are not
indifferent to the young beauty, I shall be happy to bring you any
message she may send you."

"I will write to her," exclaimed Harry.  "I will not detain you long."

"No, no, my friend, I am happy to convey any verbal message, but must
decline being the carrier of written despatches.  I might possibly hand
them to the wrong persons, and instead of a prescription which I had
intended to leave, some demure middle-aged maiden might find herself in
possession of a love letter.  I know well enough all you have to say,
and trust me for making the young lady understand you."

"By-the-bye, have you seen Dame Halliburt?  I wish to know how she and
her husband bear the loss of their son."

"She is about again, and both keep up their spirits in the hopes that
the lad will manage to make his escape from the smugglers, and return to
them before long.  It is a sore trial for them though, as he was their
only remaining child."

"The doctor forgets May," thought Harry; and very naturally did not
mention her, by which he lost the opportunity of learning a fact which
might have been of considerable consequence to him.

The doctor as he went down saw Lady Castleton and Julia, and charged
them on no account to let Harry go out.

"I cannot be answerable for his life if he does," he observed, more,
perhaps, for the sake of inducing them to be firm on the subject than
because he had any apprehension of Harry's safety.

Sir Ralph kept to his resolution of going over to Downside.  He set out
followed by his groom, both of them carrying pistols in their holsters,
while the baronet in addition wore a sword by his side, in case any of
the gang of ruffians who had attacked his son might set upon him.

The Miss Pembertons had in the meantime kept to their purpose of making
a will in favour of Maiden May.  Mr Shallard arrived unexpectedly one
morning.  They explained their views, and as there was nothing
intricate, he was able to draw it up at once, and Adam Halliburt and
their gardener, who had been sent for, acted as witnesses.  Adam's
satisfaction at seeing his Maiden May thus amply provided for was very
great.

"God bless you, ladies," he exclaimed; "if there is anything that could
make me feel happy it is this."

"I remember your mentioning the little girl to me some years ago,"
observed Mr Shallard to Adam; "and I am afraid we have been remiss in
not making more efforts to ascertain to what family she can belong,
although the difficulties have increased by the length of time which has
elapsed.  The expense, however, will, I fear, be considerable, though
really for the sake of so interesting a young lady I should be happy to
bear it."

"If it would prove to May's interest to discover her parents I would
also assist, and so would my sister Mary," said Miss Jane.

"We will see what can be done," said Mr Shallard, at length preparing
to take his departure.  Just as he reached the hall door, Sir Ralph rode
up.  "Good-day, Mr Shallard.  What, have my good cousins been requiring
your services?"

"Had I called professionally I should have been bound not to reveal the
business even to you, my most respected client," answered the lawyer
evasively.  "I trust you can give me a favourable account of Lieutenant
Castleton.  We must hunt up the scoundrels who attacked him, but as yet
the myrmidons of justice have made no progress I fear."

"They have not, and the country is indeed in an unsatisfactory condition
when such outrages as have lately occurred can be perpetrated with
impunity," observed Sir Ralph.

Mr Shallard, however, not wishing to have any longer conversation with
the baronet, wished him "good morning," and rode off.

May had just been summoned to the drawing-room after the lawyer's
departure.  She was seated by Miss Mary's side, engaged with her needle,
the light which streamed through the bay window falling on her fair
countenance, and showing the golden hue in her hair.  Had she
intentionally placed herself in a position for appearing to the best
advantage, she could not have been more successful.  Miss Jane was
seated nearer the door, when the baronet entered.

"Though your visits are rare we are glad to see you whenever you do
come, Sir Ralph," she said, rising and putting out her hand, which the
baronet lifted to his lips with his usual courtly politeness.  "Here is
Sir Ralph, Mary," added Miss Jane.

Miss Mary rose as did May in a graceful way, standing with one hand on
the chair, as she felt an unusual trepidation seize her.

The baronet advanced, fixing his eyes on her, and then having pressed
Miss Mary's hand, he made her one of his most courtly bows.

"Let me introduce our young friend to you," said Miss Jane, who had
observed Sir Ralph's glance of admiration.

He was of too unbending a nature, however, to allow May's beauty to
alter his determination.  He entered into conversation, however, with
the freedom of a man of the world, making the ladies believe that his
visit was only one of courtesy.  His critical taste could not help being
satisfied with May's manners and the remarks she made, as much as it had
been by her beauty, and she began to feel that regard for him which she
naturally wished to have for the father of her intended husband.

The baronet, rising, said in a more formal tone than he had hitherto
used--

"I must beg of you, Miss Pemberton, a few minutes private conversation
before I bid you farewell."

"If you wish it we will go to the dining-room, or Mary and May will
leave us alone."

"Not on any account would I have them quit the drawing-room," answered
Sir Ralph, and stepping up to Miss Mary he lifted her hand to his lips,
bowing at the same time to May, with that courtesy which he considered
her beauty demanded, though his cold look gave her an unsatisfactory
feeling.

"I am obliged to you for allowing me an interview in private," he said,
as soon as he and Miss Jane were seated in the dining-room.  "I wish to
make enquiries with regard to the young person residing with you, and
with whom, it appears, my son Harry has fallen in love.  With all
respect to you you must be aware that I cannot consider a person in her
situation in any way a suitable wife for a son of mine, and though I do
not wish to throw blame upon you, I cannot help feeling that you have
been guilty of indiscretion, to use no stronger term, in allowing the
young people to meet in the way it appears they have done.  I should
have expected, under the circumstances, that you would not have invited
him to the house, and had he called of his own accord would have kept
the young lady out of his way.  I must therefore hold you responsible
for the consequences."

The tone of this address--so unlike that in which Sir Ralph had been
speaking in the drawing-room--took Miss Jane considerably aback; but she
was not to be easily brow-beaten even by her cousin.

"I am not conscious, Sir Ralph, of having acted in any way in which I
can blame myself," she answered, with as much dignity as she could
command.  "We had no design when we expressed our pleasure at seeing
Harry at Downside, nor did we think of his falling in love with our
young friend."

"May I ask whether she is a relation, or to what family she belongs?"
asked Sir Ralph, abruptly.

"She is no relation, though we love her as one," said Miss Jane.  "Has
not your son told you her history?"

"Not a word; he declined doing so," said the baronet.

"It is a very romantic one," answered Miss Jane, and she described the
way May had been rescued.

"Judging from her appearance, she may be of gentle birth," observed Sir
Ralph, "but the fact that her family have not been discovered tends to
prove the contrary, and nothing you have said alters my determination
not to sanction my son's marriage to a girl depending on charity for her
support."

"That alone interests us, and makes us more than ever ready to care for
her," said Miss Jane.  "We have this very day left her all the property
we possess, or which may ever come to us, and she is therefore no longer
helpless and dependent, as you suppose."

"I should have concluded you would have wished to leave to the Castleton
family what originally came from them," remarked the baronet, with some
heat in his tone.

"That is not a matter I am disposed to discuss," said Miss Jane.  "Your
daughter is, I conclude, well provided for, and we have not acted
contrary to the wishes of your son Harry, who is the only other person
we should have thought of making our heir."

"As you think fit--as you think fit," said the baronet.  "I have only
now to request that you will inform your protege if she marries my son
Harry she will not be received by his mother or me as a daughter, and
will certainly justly compel us to discard him for his disobedience."

"Do you insist on my giving such a message to the poor girl?" asked Miss
Jane, feeling very indignant, but, at the same time, still hoping to
soften her cousin's heart.

"If you do not give it, I must myself.  To tell you the truth, I came
here for that purpose.  It is always better to settle matters of this
sort summarily."

"Oh!" said Miss Jane.

"Concluding that you will do as I request, I must wish you good
morning," said the baronet.  "I have further to beg that you will not
admit my son into your house."

"I can make no promises," said Miss Jane.  "I will, however, give your
harsh message to our young friend, though I cannot undertake to advise
her how to act.  I regret, Sir Ralph, that the only visit with which you
have honoured us while at Texford has not terminated in a more
satisfactory manner to you and to ourselves."

Miss Jane did not even put out her hand, she felt too indignant with her
cousin at what she considered his harsh and cruel conduct.  He turned
towards the door which she stepped forward and opened, accompanying him
through the hall.  He, not forgetting his usual courteous manner, turned
and lifted his hat before descending the steps, at the bottom of which
his groom stood holding his horse.

No further words were exchanged between the cousins, and Sir Ralph rode
back to Texford satisfied at having exhibited his resentment to the only
person on whom he could fix it, and, as he hoped, put an end to any
further intercourse between his son and Maiden May.



CHAPTER FORTY.

SIR RALPH'S DECISION.

Harry had heard from Julia that his father had gone over to Downside,
and was looking forward with no little anxiety to the result of his
interview with May.  He had not yet brought himself to tell Headland all
his father had said, for, knowing his friend, he was sure that he would,
in spite of the grief it would cause him, at once leave Texford, and he
wished to allow him and Julia to enjoy that happiness which he foresaw
must so soon be cruelly terminated.

Headland was not a man to exhibit his feelings in the presence of
others, and the baronet, who watched him narrowly, observed only that
though he appeared to treat Julia with that attention which the young
lady of the house had a right to expect, there was nothing peculiarly
marked in his manner.

Julia ought undoubtedly to have told Sir Ralph of the offer she had
received, and she would have done so had there been that confidence
between the father and daughter which should have existed.  But Sir
Ralph had failed to secure the confidence and affection of his children.

Julia, not wishing that her father should discover her secret, took care
not to invite Headland to walk with her in the grounds when Sir Ralph
was likely to meet them, and as he seldom went far from the house on
foot there was little probability of his doing so.

As Mr Curtis told Sir Ralph that Harry must be kept quiet for a few
days, he did not allude to his visit, and Harry was therefore left in
doubt as to the result.

The next time the surgeon came, Harry asked whether he had been again at
Downside.

"I tell you there is nothing seriously the matter with the young lady,
though she does not recover as rapidly as I had expected; her nervous
system seems slightly affected.  However, there is no fear, and in a few
days she will be round."

If the doctor knew more of the true state of the case, he did not think
fit to communicate it to Harry.

Such was the state of things when the post brought two official letters
from the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty, appointing Commander
Headland to the _Thisbe_ sloop-of-war, and Lieutenant Castleton to the
_Aurora_ frigate, with orders to join their respective ships at once.
It was the first day Harry had come down.

"I congratulate you, gentlemen," said Sir Ralph in a tone Harry did not
like.  "You will both soon see active service, for, depend upon it,
Napoleon will not let us remain long at peace."

Poor Julia, turning pale, nearly betrayed herself.

"I am obliged to their lordships; I scarcely expected to get a ship so
soon," replied Headland, who did not exhibit that enthusiastic pleasure
which might have been expected on being appointed to his first command.

"I should have been more obliged to them if they had appointed me to the
same ship," said Harry.  "You, I daresay, can manage to do it," he
added, turning to his father.  "Possibly the lieutenants may not as yet
have been selected."

"I have not much interest at the Admiralty, and what I have I must keep
for your promotion," said Sir Ralph.  "We shall lose you, Captain
Headland, sooner than was expected, for I presume that you will have to
start to-morrow at latest."

Headland could not help feeling that this was a strong hint to him to
hasten his departure.

"I will lose no time, Sir Ralph, in joining my ship, though I shall
leave Texford with regret."

He glanced for a moment on Julia, but for her sake directly withdrew his
eyes, judging truly from his own feelings what hers were.

"I am glad to see that both ships are fitting at Portsmouth," observed
Harry, "and if we cannot travel together, and I suppose the doctor won't
let me go for a few days, I will join you there."

Harry talked away, trying to keep up his own spirits as well as those of
his friend.  He felt that a crisis was at hand, and that Headland must
openly declare his love for Julia, whether or not Sir Ralph was likely
to give his sanction to their engagement.

Headland saw matters in the same light.  He wished, however, first to
consult Julia as to whether he should tell her father of their
engagement, or leave her to do so.

Fortunately, Sir Ralph was engaged in writing letters and other business
for some time after breakfast, and Headland, finding Julia alone,
invited her to go into the grounds where they could talk without fear of
interruption.

"Your going seems so sudden that I can scarcely realise it," she
exclaimed.  "I fancied that weeks and months would pass before you were
ordered away to sea, and now Sir Ralph says you must set off to-morrow.
Can it be necessary to go so soon?"

"It is so," said Headland, "but I go confiding in you, and hoping that
the time may come when I shall return to claim you.  Your father must be
informed of our engagement, or he may justly accuse me of acting a
dishonourable part.  Either you or I must tell him as soon as possible.
I am perfectly ready to do so, unless you think you can influence him
more than I can expect to do."

"Oh, do you speak to him," exclaimed Julia.  "You can plead the perfect
right you had to win my affections; your position in the navy, and your
prospects of rising; the ample means you already possess; and the
gallant deeds you have performed.  He cannot possibly blame you.  And
tell him that my heart and hand are pledged to you, and that though I
will not disobey him by marrying against his will, I will never marry
any one else."

Headland undertook to act as Julia advised.

They might enjoy an hour now in each other's society before Sir Ralph
was likely to be disengaged, and how rapidly those moments flew by; but
both felt that the time was come for a frank statement of their case.

They returned to the house confident in each other's love, and supported
with the hopes that whatever clouds might now arise they would in time
be dissipated.

Sir Ralph was alone in his study.  Captain Headland knocked at the door,
and was requested to enter.

"I must apologise for intruding on you, Sir Ralph, but before I leave
Texford there is a matter of consequence on which I wish to speak to
you," he said.

The baronet motioned him to take a chair nearly opposite where he
himself sat.

"Pray, Captain Headland, what is it?" he asked, in a calm tone.

"I earnestly wish to make your daughter my wife, and I have her
permission to request that you will give your sanction to our marriage
when I next return on shore."

"A very clear if not a very modest request," exclaimed the baronet, with
a well-feigned look of surprise.  "Do I understand that Miss Castleton
has pledged her hand to you without my sanction?"

"My express object in now speaking to you is to obtain that sanction,"
answered Headland, with all the calmness he could command.

"I am not at all disposed to give it unless to a man her equal in birth
and family, and before I can reply, I must beg that you will inform me
to what family you belong, and what means you possess."

Headland briefly described his position.

"I have, however, every prospect of rising in the service, and of adding
to the credit which, with honest pride, I may venture to say, I have
already gained.  I have your daughter's authority for telling you that
she will marry no one else till I return to ask her hand."

The baronet listened to him calmly without speaking till he had
finished.

"I will make no remark on your conduct, Captain Headland, whatever I may
think of it," he said, at length, after nearly a minute's silence.  "But
you will understand that I do not allow my daughter to pledge herself as
you tell me she has done.  You will understand that though I do not wish
to treat you with discourtesy, I do not expect that you will honour me
with another visit when you return on shore.  I regret having to say
this while you are still my guest, but you have forced me to express
myself clearly on the subject.  And now I think you will agree with me
that to prolong this interview will not lead to any satisfactory result.
You have clearly explained your position, and I have as clearly
expressed my opinion.  I will speak to Miss Castleton, and it may be a
satisfaction to you if, as I expect she will, she states her readiness
at my desire to set you free.  I must beg, however, that what I have
said may not induce you to leave Texford sooner than you had intended.
I may say that I have that confidence in you that you will not in the
meantime try to induce my daughter to take any step of which I should
disapprove."

The baronet rose as he spoke, and Headland, not considering an answer to
the last remark necessary, did so likewise, and with a formal bow, which
Sir Ralph returned, left the room.

His heart swelling with indignation and sorrow, he repaired to his own
chamber.  He felt indignant at the way Sir Ralph had treated him: his
sorrow was for Julia, for he knew too well the sufferings she would be
called on to endure on his account.  He threw himself into a chair to
consider what steps he should take; could he remain longer as the guest
of Sir Ralph? and then he thought, "he is Julia's father, and for her
sake I must bear what I would not from any other man."

Harry, suspecting what had taken place, soon followed Headland to his
room.

"My dear fellow," he exclaimed, "I am sure my father has spoken in a way
you feel hard to bear; let me entreat you not to take notice of it.  I
do not ask you what he said, but I am right, am I not?"

"You are, and I was contemplating leaving the house."

"That is just what you must not do," exclaimed Harry.  "You came as my
guest, and I cannot allow it.  Our father does not know what Julia is
made of; when he comes to speak to her, he will find that she can be as
firm as he is.  I am very certain she will not discard you, and he may
find that after all he has to give in, and allow you to go away awaiting
for a time when you can return and claim her, which he may possibly hope
will never arrive."

Headland was at length persuaded to do as Harry advised; indeed his own
heart prompted him to remain, for even had Sir Ralph spoken to him in a
still more offensive tone, he would not have left.

"You know me, Harry; and assure her that whatever your father may say,
and however she may be compelled to act towards me, I shall remain
pledged to her as long as there is a possibility of her becoming mine."

"In other words," said Harry, "unless she is compelled to marry some one
else."

"I could not bear the thoughts of her doing so," exclaimed Headland.
"Even then I should remain her devoted and faithful friend."

"I am sure you would," answered Harry.  "I will tell her all you say,
though I hope you will be able to tell her yourself.  And, my dear
fellow, I know my little sister well enough to be very sure that no
power on earth will induce her to marry any one else."

Headland felt somewhat relieved by his conversation with his friend.
Harry knew that he had his own trials in store, and could sympathise
with him thoroughly.

He had become very impatient at not being able to ride out.  The doctor
had brought him better accounts from Downside; that was his chief
consolation.  He determined to go directly Headland left Texford; he
would propose a ride with Julia, and she would not refuse to accompany
him thus far.

Directly Headland quitted the study, Sir Ralph summoned Julia.  She well
knew what was coming, and bracing herself up for the interview, appeared
before her father with as calm a countenance as she could assume.

"I understand, young lady, that your brother's friend and shipmate,
Captain Headland, has proposed to you, and that without knowing who he
is, or what are my wishes on the subject, you have ventured to accept
him."

"Yes, papa, I have done so," said Julia.

"You have acted very improperly," remarked Sir Ralph.

"I saw nothing in Captain Headland that would make you object to him, on
the contrary, everything to admire," answered Julia, in a firm tone.

"No girl can take such a step without her parent's permission."

"I had no reason to suppose that permission would not be given," said
Julia.

"As you are mistaken you are absolved from your promise, and I desire
you to tell Captain Headland that you set him free."

"Father," exclaimed Julia, rising, "if you can point out one single
blemish in Captain Headland's character, if you can produce one
sufficient reason, I would obey you so far as to set him free; but, at
the same time, I must tell you I could never marry another.  You,
however, can allege no just reason why I should not marry him, and I
will not utter a falsehood, and lead him to suppose that I do not love
him with the most devoted affection."

The baronet listened to his daughter with a scornful curl on his thin
lips, and a flush on his brow.  Seldom did he exhibit more violent signs
of anger.

"I am to understand, then, that you positively refuse to discard this
unknown adventurer?" said the baronet, speaking very deliberately.  "I
regret that I did not use stronger language when speaking to him, but I
expected to have your assistance, and wished to save a scene which might
be disagreeable.  I must send for him again, and explain myself more
clearly."

"Father, I entreat you not to do so," exclaimed Julia, putting her hand
on Sir Ralph's arm.  "I will speak to Captain Headland, but you cannot,
you must not, insult a gallant officer, your son's friend, a guest in
your house; you would not gain your end, and you would only add
bitterness to my grief at having to part from him."

"If, as I understand, he proposes to take his departure to-morrow, I
will allow matters to remain as they are, you promising me that you will
speak to him in the way I desire."

"I promise that I will tell Captain Headland of your objections, and I
will not act in any way that will bring discredit on the name of
Castleton, of which I am as proud as any member of the family."

Julia, with woman's tact, made the last remark, knowing that it would
influence her father more than any vehement protestation she could
utter.

Headland had been for some time writing in his room after Harry had left
him, when the latter returned, and told him he would find Julia in the
grounds.  Headland eagerly hurried out, and joined her at the spot where
Harry had told him she was waiting.  They walked on till they reached a
summer-house near the lake.

"You have had an interview with my father, and he has since talked to
me, and desired me to speak to you, and I promised to obey him, but I do
so under compulsion.  He said that he would never sanction my becoming
your wife, and that I must tell you so.  I replied, that as you had my
heart, to no one else would I give my hand."

Headland had every reason to be satisfied with all Julia said, though he
felt that long years might pass before she could become his, while she
could not hide from herself the numberless dangers he might have to
encounter before he could return to claim her; and even then would her
father have relented, and might not still difficulties be thrown in the
way of their marriage?  Hope, however, buoyed her up.  Her great wish,
in the meantime, would be to remain at Texford, and endeavour to benefit
the tenantry and surrounding cottagers.  London with its gaieties she
felt would have no attractions for her, though she had reason to fear
that her father would insist on her going there, and mixing in society,
in the hopes of inducing her to form a match such as he would consider
suitable for her.

Headland, more than ever convinced of Julia's attachment, was thankful
that he had not taken offence at the language her father had used, and
at once left the house.

That last meeting, as they sat together looking out on the placid lake,
mirrored with the foliage of the overhanging trees, with swans gliding
calmly across its surface, the only sound the sweet songs of the bird,
or the occasional splash of the fish as they rose to seize the careless
flies fleeting above them, could never be forgotten: it brought a sense
of peace, and consolation, and hope to their hearts.

The time flew by.  Both were unwilling to return to the house.  It was
the last opportunity they would have of meeting alone.

General Sampson's voice addressing Mrs Appleton in loud tones aroused
them.

"I tell you, my dear madam, I shall win my bet notwithstanding," he
exclaimed.  "My friend, the captain, is not a man who is likely to
strike his flag as long as he has a stick standing; he will renew the
fight as soon as he has repaired damages."

"I tell you, general, I have known Sir Ralph longer than you have--a
more determined, or rather obstinate gentleman does not exist, and
unless this captain is a man of family, and that he is not, or I am very
sure we should have heard about it, our friend will never give his
sanction."

"Then, by Jove, the young people will run off and do without it, ah! ah!
ah!" roared the general.

"Fie, fie, General Sampson, you would not approve of such a proceeding,
I hope."

"I am not sure of that, Mrs Appleton," was the answer; and just then
the couple came in sight of Headland and Julia, and must have been aware
that their remarks had been overheard.

The young people were still more annoyed at being discovered.  They both
rose, and at the same moment the gong sounded from the house to summon
the guests to dress for dinner.

"Pleasant sound that, captain, for those who have appetites," observed
the general.  "We must all obey it whether or not, and move homewards."
Though Julia and Headland would willingly have lingered longer, they
were compelled to follow the old general and Mrs Appleton to the house.
How quickly that evening went by.  Sir Ralph was as courteous as usual,
and though formal in the extreme in his manner to Captain Headland, no
one would have suspected what had occurred in the morning.  Julia did
her best to maintain her composure.  Though Sir Ralph begged to have
music, her mother interfered and saved her from the trial.

Next day arrived at length.  Captain Headland was really gone.  Julia
felt bewildered and desolate; it seemed as if she had received some
heavy blow from which it was impossible to recover.  Sir Ralph spoke to
her in a more kind way than usual, and tried to joke with her, while he
amused his guests with the numerous anecdotes which he knew well how to
tell.

The doctor, who came early, allowed Harry to take a ride.  "It must be
short though, and you must not gallop at headlong speed, as you naval
officers are apt to do."

"I will get my sister to accompany me to keep me in order."  Julia
gladly agreed to bear him company.

"Thank you, dear Julia," said Harry, as soon as they were in the saddle.
"We must go to Downside; I cannot exist another day without seeing
May."

Julia nodded her consent.

"I thought she would have written to me, but I have my fears that either
our good cousins have forbidden her to write or that her letters may
have been stopped," he continued.  "Did you write to her?" asked Julia.

"No, but I sent messages, and as the only person I could trust to take a
letter declined doing so, I could not order a groom to take one, as I
had my suspicions that it might be stopped or opened; besides, I have
that confidence in May's love that I felt sure she would be content to
wait till we could again meet, hearing in the meantime that I was
rapidly recovering."

"You acted wisely," said Julia, "for it is impossible to say how our
cousins may think it their duty to behave towards you in future."

She then told Harry of their father's visit to Downside, of the result
of which she herself was ignorant.

"I am sorely tempted to set my father at defiance, and, if he refuses
his consent, to marry without it."

"No, no, Harry--patience!  May would never consent to such a course."

"Why, Julia, what do you intend to do?" asked Harry, wrongly feeling for
the moment that even she had turned against him.

"To obey our father and not to act against his commands; but I will not
obey him in doing a sinful act by marrying any one else whom I do not
love.  I can, therefore, with a clear conscience urge you not to
persuade May to marry you until our father gives his consent, though I
do not for a moment advise you to give her up."

"You are a clever casuist, Julia," exclaimed Harry.



CHAPTER FORTY ONE.

A RIDE WITH GENERAL SAMPSON.

On reaching Downside, Harry and Julia were told that Miss Jane was in
the house, and that Miss Mary and May were in the garden.

"Go in and see cousin Jane," said Harry to his sister, as he assisted
her to dismount.  "I will go into the garden."

Without giving Julia the option of accompanying him, he hurried off in
search of his blind cousin and her companion.  He saw them seated on a
bench under the shade of some overhanging trees.  May was reading with
her eyes bent down on the book.  She was so absorbed in the subject that
she did not hear Harry's approach.

Miss Mary's quick ear, however, soon detected the sound of his
footsteps.

"Who is coming?" she asked abruptly.

May looked up, and uttering Harry's name in a tone of joy, sprang
forward to meet him.

"Why, Harry, I had not expected to see you so soon," she exclaimed,
gazing up into his face.

Holding her hand, he advanced to Miss Mary, who smiled kindly as she
greeted him.  He told them that it was the first day the doctor had
allowed him to ride out.

"Did Sir Ralph know that you were coming here?" asked Miss Mary.

"No; I conclude he did not suppose I was able to ride so far."

"Then you have not acted against his orders."

"Certainly not," answered Harry; "he has not prohibited me from coming
here."

"I am truly glad of that," observed Miss Mary, with marked emphasis.  "I
will leave you young people here, and go in and have a talk with Julia.
I daresay you will have something to say to each other."

Harry and May offered to accompany the kind lady to the house.

"No, no," she answered; "I can find my way perfectly well alone, and
shall not meet with an accident if there are no wheelbarrows or rakes in
the way," and rising, she proceeded at a slow pace towards the house.

May told Harry how anxious she had been on hearing of his being wounded
by highwaymen--how grateful she felt to him for having endeavoured to
recover Jacob.  Then Harry told her how, day by day, he had heard of her
from the doctor, and how the knowledge that she was getting better did
more to restore him than anything else.  He refrained from telling her,
as long as he could, what he knew would give her pain--that he was
appointed to a ship which he must soon join.  At length, however, he had
to communicate the information.

"But May," he added, "if you will consent at once to be mine, we would
marry before I go, and then no human power can separate us."

"Harry," she exclaimed, gazing at him fixedly as they sat on the bench
together, "I had not thought that the time for parting would be so soon.
You know my regard; but I must not tempt you to act contrary to what I
fear are your father's wishes, and by so doing run the risk of injuring
your prospects in life, and your advancement in your profession.  Your
father has been here, and has expressed his opinions strongly to Miss
Jane, and she has told me all he said.  I shall be as truly yours as if
we were married, and you will thus avoid offending him, whose wishes you
are bound to respect.  My thoughts will be ever with you, my prayers
hourly offered up for your safety, and I shall live in hopes that the
obstacles which now exist to our union will be removed when you return.
Your father may relent when he finds that you are constant, and I know
you will be;" and she smiled as she gazed at his countenance, and felt
the impossibility of his changing.

"But I know him so well that even then I am sure he will refuse his
consent on the same grounds that he does now.  Will you still believe
that you ought not to marry me?" exclaimed her lover.

"Oh, Harry, do not press me for an answer," answered May.  "I wish to do
what is right, and your cousins tell me, and my conscience assures me
that they are right, that I must not become yours while your parents
object to your marrying me.  I must not encourage you to do what is
wrong, and expose you to your father's anger.  And, Harry, though I am
not proud, I could not consent to enter a family who would treat me with
contempt, and consider that you had lowered yourself by marrying me."

"Oh, May, I did not expect to have this reply from you," he exclaimed at
last, in a tone of bitter disappointment.

"I have spoken as I believe to be right, and therefore it must be for
the best," said May, trying to calm her agitation.  "How I might have
acted without wise counsellors, I cannot say.  Do not urge me further; I
dare not, I cannot give a different reply."

In vain Harry endeavoured to induce May to alter her determination,
although he reasoned as an ardent lover who was not willing to be
convinced.  May was not surprised that Harry should argue the point,
perhaps she was pleased at his doing so; but, being satisfied that she
was right, the very fact that her feelings prompted her to act
differently assisted her to hold to her resolution.  Harry was inclined
to be angry, not with her, that seemed impossible, but with his cousins
for advising her as they had done.  He considered his father tyrannical
and unjust in the matter, and he was even less disposed than ever to
obey him.  May endeavoured to soothe him.  She succeeded at last.  She
spoke of the future when there might be no impediment to their
happiness.  They were both still very young, and when Harry had become a
commander, or obtained his post rank, they might realise their wish of
living in just such a cottage as Downside, and enjoy all the happiness
their mutual love could afford.

They were interrupted by the appearance of Miss Jane and Julia.  The
latter had taken more note of time than had Harry, and considered that
they ought to be on their return to Texford.

Julia led May to a distance.

"Your sister will tell you our wishes, Harry," said Miss Jane.  "You
know how May is situated, and you know how affectionately we regard you.
Though we do not consider that your father is right in withholding his
consent, we feel bound to obey his commands, and as he has insisted on
our not encouraging you to come to the house, and as we understand you
are to join a ship as soon as possible, we must beg you to bid May
farewell.  I say this with regret, but I am sure it will be the best for
both of you."

"What! do you forbid me from coming here again?" exclaimed Harry.
"Would you deny me the only happiness I prize on earth?"

"You must, I understand, in a few days join your ship, and though we
would rather for your sake in the meantime that you did not come, we
cannot turn you from our doors," answered Miss Jane, somewhat relenting.
"Only you must promise not to try to induce May to waver in her
resolution.  You will then part with the consciousness that you have
acted rightly, and may hope for your reward when you return from sea."

Though Harry would have lingered, Julia wisely considered that they
ought to return homewards without delay.

May did not refuse to allow him to press her to his heart, and his
cousins wished him an affectionate farewell, and he and Julia mounting
their horses commenced their ride back to Texford.

Julia did her best to raise his spirits.  Never could brother and sister
more completely sympathise with each other.

The next morning Harry received a note from his cousin Jane, saying that
she and Mary had resolved to pay a visit to some friends residing about
forty miles away to the north of Hurlston, and that as, of course, May
would accompany them, though they were grieved at his disappointment he
must consider his visit of the previous day a farewell one.  They hoped,
however, that nothing would prevent them seeing him on his return from
sea.  A note was enclosed from May, giving him every assurance of her
unalterable affection which he could desire, and expressing her grief at
not seeing him again, though she endeavoured to persuade herself with
his cousins that it was for the best.

This was indeed an unexpected and bitter disappointment.  Harry,
however, with right manly spirit, felt that it must be endured.

He was as eager now to set off from home as he had before been anxious
to remain.  He had, however, one duty to perform.  As he had missed
meeting the lawyer at Downside, he must ride over to Morbury to him.

The general heard him order his horse.

"In which direction are you going?" he asked.

Harry told him.

"If you will accept me as a companion, I shall be happy to ride with
you," said the general.  "You, I suspect, must not put your horse to
greater speed than I have been accustomed of late years to jog along the
road?"

Harry's politeness compelled him to say that he was happy to have his
company.

General Sampson could make himself agreeable to old and young alike.  He
had seen a great deal of the world, knew all that was going forward, and
seasoned his conversation with numerous anecdotes.  Harry could not help
being amused.

Harry had not ridden over to Downside day after day without the general
suspecting the object of his visits, and he had managed to obtain pretty
accurate information of the state of the case.  He really liked Harry
more than he did any other young man, and his present object was to draw
him out of himself.  He would have been glad to gain Harry's confidence,
and to hear from him how matters stood, though he very well knew he
should fail if he asked the question point-blank.  He therefore beat
about the bush for some time, talking of his own love affairs when he
was a young man, and of those of several of his friends.

"You see, my dear Harry, we must all be prepared for trials in this
rugged world, but then, according to my experience, we are the better
for them in the end.  If the lady is obdurate or coy, or if her friends
throw obstacles in the way, or if want of means exist, we must try to
win her by greater attention, or sometimes by pretended indifference, or
we must set to work to overcome the obstacles, or to gain the means
which are wanting, and we shall enjoy double satisfaction when we
triumph.  I sometimes wish that I were young again to take advantage of
the experience I possess, but as that is an impossibility, I have great
satisfaction in enabling others to benefit by it.  You understand me,
Harry, _nil desperandum_ is the motto I advise you to adopt."

"Thank you, general," said Harry.  "You seem to suppose that I am in a
position to require your advice."

"Of course I do," said the general.  "I know something about your love
affair.  Though my friend Sir Ralph and Lady Castleton may not see with
your eyes, and may have other views for you, I can sympathise with you,
and as far as my respect to them will allow me, I shall be glad to give
you all the assistance in my power."

Harry thanked the general for his kind feelings, and supposing that he
knew from Sir Ralph and his mother exactly how things stood enlightened
him yet further on the subject.

"You should not be surprised at their objecting on the score of the
lady's want of birth, charming as I doubt not she is," observed the
general.  "I regret, as she has gone away, that I shall not have the
pleasure of being introduced to her, and by pouring her praises into Sir
Ralph's ear, perhaps assist in softening his heart.  However, as I said
before, don't despair, but keep up your spirits, and you will soon be
too busy in your professional duties to allow your thoughts time to
dwell on the subject."

Harry again thanked him, and promised to follow his advice.

They reached Morbury.  Harry proposed putting up their horses, and
begged the general to take a few turns on the esplanade, as he had
business which would occupy him some little time.

Harry was absent longer than he expected, and the general, after looking
at his watch two or three times, began to wonder what he could be about.

"Can the fair lady have come to the place," he thought.  "Perhaps the
young fellow has been making a cat's-paw of me all the time, and has
gone to church and got married, ha! ha! ha! that would be a joke; but
by-the-bye it's out of canonical hours; he cannot have done that then."

He took another turn or two, exchanged a few words with the boatmen on
the beach, looked about in the hopes of meeting an acquaintance, and
resumed his seat on a bench facing the sea.

At last Harry made his appearance.

"What have you been about?" exclaimed the general.  "I began to fear
that you had given me the slip altogether, and that I should hear of you
next at Gretna Green, or find that you had had a licence in your pocket
all the time, and had been laughing in your sleeve while I was bestowing
my sage advice on you."

"No, indeed," answered Harry, who did not like the general's joke.  "To
confess the truth, I have been making my will.  I thought it was a
matter which would occupy five or ten minutes at the utmost, but found
that there were all sorts of complications, of which I had not dreamed."

"Make your will, my dear boy!  What could induce you to do that?"
exclaimed the general.

"When a man is going to run the risk of being shot or drowned, or cut
down by fever, or finished in some other way, he naturally wishes to
make such arrangements that his property may benefit those in whom he is
most interested.  I should have asked you to be a witness, but the
lawyer found those who would answer as well, and I therefore did not
think it necessary to trouble you."

"Well, we will talk about it as we ride homewards," observed the
general.  "It is time that we should be in the saddle, or we may be late
for dinner."

The general, as they rode along, pumped Harry, curious to know how he
had disposed of his property.  He suspected from poor Algernon's
condition that the younger brother would himself soon become heir of
Texford, and would thus, should Sir Ralph die, have no inconsiderable
amount of property to leave.

He succeeded in satisfying himself that should Harry Castleton be
killed, Miss Pemberton's protege would succeed to all the property he
could leave.

"I hope, my young friend, you will be able to endow her with it in a
different way," he observed, "and though I do not know what some may say
to your intentions, for my part I think it is a very right thing to do.
Supposing Algernon were to die, and you be killed, and I heartily hope
that won't happen, your sister Julia will inherit Texford, and I shall
be very much mistaken if your friend Headland does not some day become
its master.  Mrs Appleton and I agree that the young people are
admirably matched.  By the way, Harry, I want you and Headland to come
and pay me a visit at a little box I have got near Portsmouth, if you
can manage to get away from your ships before they sail, or when you
come into port.  I had thought of going to take a few weeks' shooting
with my friend, Sir Pierce Berrington, but I have made up my mind to go
home direct, and if you will give me your company we will travel
together.  You will find posting pleasanter than the coach, and we shall
give a good account of any highwaymen who may think fit to cry, `Halt;
your money or your lives.'"

Harry gladly accepted the general's last offer, and promised to deliver
his message to Headland.  He was glad to secure so amusing a companion
for his journey.  He hoped also to pay the general a visit, for unless
May and his cousins returned to Downside, he should have no wish to go
home.



CHAPTER FORTY TWO.

THE LUGGER AGAIN.

A Post-Chaise which had conveyed Harry and the general to Portsmouth
drove up to the "George," just as Captain Headland, who was living
there, returned from a visit to his ship.

The old general, thinking that Harry would benefit by his society, had
insisted on accompanying him, declaring that he had promised Lady
Castleton to see him safe on board his frigate.

Sir Ralph, suspecting perhaps that Harry might take it into his head to
run off with May, had encouraged the general in doing as he had offered,
little aware that there was no risk of such an occurrence happening,
while the general took good care to show that he had not come as a spy
on his actions.  Harry, indeed, was too generous to suspect him of such
a proceeding.

The general having shaken hands with Headland, went into the hotel, as
he said, to order rooms, leaving the two friends alone.  He guessed that
the captain would have enquiries to make about Julia.  They joined him
before long in the sitting-room he had engaged, and Headland thanked him
heartily for the invitation which Harry had just delivered.

The general had ordered dinner, and insisted on the two young officers
being his guests for the day.

"You shall give me a return dinner on board the _Thisbe_," he observed.

The dinner was the best the hotel could supply, and the wines were good,
the general keeping his guests well amused.

"By-the-bye, I daresay you two young men would rather sail together than
cruise in different ships, and as I have a modicum of interest in high
quarters, though I do not boast of much, if you wish, Captain Headland,
to apply for Harry, it is possible that I may induce the Lords
Commissioners to grant your request, unless Harry would prefer remaining
as he is."

Both Headland and Harry begged the general would do as he proposed.

"Well, do you write the official letter, and I will support it," said
the general, "and if necessary I will run up to town and see my official
friends.  Harry will get a longer spell on shore to recover from the
hurts he received from those rascally highwaymen.  I cannot compliment
the police of your county for not catching them though.  I always felt
when riding about, the unpleasant possibility of having a bullet sent
through my head."

Harry said the search for them was not over, however, and that Mr
Groocock especially was taking every means in his power to discover
them, though, for his part, as they had failed in their attempt, unless
to prevent their attacking anyone else, he had no wish to have them
brought to justice, as it might compel him to remain on shore as a
witness.

Little was the general aware when he made this offer that Sir Ralph had
expressly got the young men appointed to different ships, and had taken
care that Headland's should be destined for a foreign station.  How far,
had he known this, he would have ventured to counteract the baronet's
arrangements it is difficult to say.

The next morning Harry joined the _Aurora_.  The same day he paid
Headland a visit on board the _Thisbe_, which had just come out of dock
and been brought alongside the hulk.  She was a remarkably fine corvette
of eighteen guns, just such a craft as a young officer would be proud to
command, and, from her build, both he and Headland thought she would
prove very fast.

Within a week Harry found himself superseded, and appointed first
lieutenant of the _Thisbe_.

Orders came down the next day to hurry on with her equipment, and
Portsmouth was again alive with preparations for war.

Lord Whitworth's final interview with Napoleon had taken place.  The
First Consul had stormed, and threatened, and insulted the English
ambassador.  All doubts as to his intentions vanished.  The whole of
England was aroused, for her shores were threatened with invasion.  The
militia were called out, and volunteers rapidly enrolled.  A few months
later, the great minister of England, his tall, gaunt figure dressed in
regimental scarlet, might have been seen in his character of Lord Warden
of the Cinque Ports, at the head of 3000 volunteers, drilling them as he
best could.  Not only he, however, but every Lord-lieutenant of England
and Scotland was endeavouring to prepare his countrymen to drive the
invaders from their sacred shores back into the Channel should they
audaciously venture to cross it.  In a short time, nearly 400,000 men,
providing their own clothing, receiving no pay, and enjoying no
privileges, sprang up at a word--a noble congregation of citizens,
united as one individual soul, ready to fight to the death as long as a
Frenchman remained in arms on their native soil.

As soon as war was declared, the general bade his naval friends
farewell.  "Though laid on the shelf so far as foreign service was
concerned," he observed, "it would be found, he hoped, that there was
still some life left in him for duty at home."

The _Thisbe_ was rapidly got ready for sea.  Though any men who had
sailed with Captain Headland were willing to join her, there was great
difficulty in procuring hands, and he knew too well the importance of
having an efficient crew, to take any but the best men.

The _Thisbe_ at length sailed with sealed orders, though still short
handed.  Unless she could obtain the remainder of her crew by taking
them out of any homeward-bound vessels or fishing-boats, she was to put
into Plymouth to make up her complement.  She was to avoid, however,
touching anywhere, and to proceed, if possible, with all despatch on her
voyage southward.  She lost sight of the Needles just as the sun sank
into the ocean.  A light breeze to the northward filling her sails, she
made some progress during the night, but as morning approached, a thick
fog came on, and she lay almost becalmed on the glass like sea.  It was
Harry's morning watch.  Look-outs were stationed aloft to catch the
first glimpse of any sail which might be near, though their hulls and
lower rigging would be hidden by the mist.  It was a time when vigilance
was doubly necessary, for it was possible that an enemy's cruiser might
have ventured thus far towards the English coast in the hopes of
capturing any homeward-bound merchantmen in ignorance of the war.

At length dawn broke, and the mist assumed that silvery hue which showed
that the sun was about once more to rise above the horizon.  All hands
were on deck, employed in the morning duties of a man-of-war's crew.

The sails which had hitherto hung down against the masts gave several
loud flaps, then gradually bulged out, and the ship obtaining steerage
way, once more glided slowly onwards.

Harry sent a midshipman forward to see that the look-outs had their eyes
open.

Suddenly the fog lifted.

"A sail on the lee-bow," shouted the midshipman.  "A lugger close-hauled
standing across our course, sir."

At that moment the captain came on deck.

"She shows no colours," again shouted the midshipman.

"We will speak her whatever she is," observed the captain.

The order was given to trim sails, and the corvette was steered so as to
cut off the lugger should she continue on her present course.

Those on board the stranger only just then discovered the ship of war,
and instead of continuing on close-hauled as before, she stood away with
her sheets eased off to the southward.

"That looks suspicious," observed Headland.  "If she were honest, she
would not try to avoid us."

It was soon evident that the lugger was a fast craft.  Every sail the
_Thisbe_ could carry was set, while the lugger, spreading out her broad
canvas, did her best to escape.

"Perhaps the fellows think we may press some of them, and are simply
anxious to escape being overhauled," observed Harry.

Though the lugger made good way, the loftier sails of the _Thisbe_
carried her quickly through the water, and her commander and Harry hoped
that she would deserve the character they first formed of her.

At length they got near enough to the lugger to send a shot from a
bow-chaser as a signal to heave to.  She, however, took no notice of it,
and stood on.  Other shots were fired in the hopes of knocking away some
of her spars, and compelling her to obey.  At length a shot had the
desired effect, and her main-halyards being shot away, her huge mainsail
came down on deck.  To avoid the risk of the broadside which might
follow, the lugger came up into the wind.

A boat, under the second lieutenant De Vere, was lowered to ascertain
the character of the vessel.  Some thought that she would prove to be a
smuggler, with possibly a cargo on board.  She was so completely under
the lee of the corvette that everything going on on deck was seen.

"We may, at all events, get some of those fellows.  Give them the option
of volunteering whatever they are, but if they refuse, pick out
half-a-dozen of the best hands, Mr De Vere," said the captain.

"Ay, ay, sir," was the answer, and the lieutenant proceeded on board.

He was seen to dive down below, and in a short time to return and muster
the men on deck.  They seemed by their movements inclined to refuse
submission to his orders, but he pointed to the guns of the corvette as
his authority, and one after the other having gone below to get their
bags, they descended the side into the boat.

Six men had already been secured, whether they had volunteered or not it
was difficult to say, when a struggle was seen to be taking place
forward between some of the lugger's crew and a man who had made his way
up the fore hatch.  He dashed those who tried to stop him aside, and
sprang aft to the lieutenant.  A short discussion took place between De
Vere and the master of the lugger.  While it was going forward, the man
took the opportunity of leaping over the side into the boat.

The second lieutenant, apparently considering that the lugger still had
more hands than she required, now selected four additional men, who,
evidently in a very sulky humour, obeyed his summons.

With the eleven men thus obtained he returned to the ship.

The breeze freshening, Headland was unwilling to delay longer, and
therefore hailing the lugger, gave her permission to continue on her
course, when the corvette's sails being filled, she once more stood down
channel.

The newly pressed men were summoned aft.

"I cannot say that they were volunteers except this man," said De Vere,
pointing to the one who had been seen to leap into the boat, a fine
strong young fellow, though he looked somewhat pale and ill, while his
jacket had been torn, and his head cut in the struggle.  "He was willing
enough to join, though the others tried to prevent him."

The men gave in their names.  They were hardy-looking, but of a somewhat
ruffianly appearance.  They were not the less likely to prove useful
seamen, only it would be necessary to keep a sharp look-out on them
while the corvette was in Plymouth Sound.

When Harry asked the name of the man of whom De Vere had been speaking,
he replied--

"Jacob Halliburt."

Harry looked at him, wondering whether he could be old Adam's son, and,
as he supposed, May's brother.

He did not wish just then to ask the question in public.  He had no
doubts, however, when the young man stated that he had been carried off
some time before from his home by the lugger's crew, and kept a prisoner
on board ever since, being compelled to do duty when at sea, but being
shut down in the hold whenever she was in port or might have an
opportunity of making his escape.

"This was my only chance, sir, so I made a dash for it, and knocked down
the fellows who tried to stop me, as I had a hundred times rather serve
aboard a man-of-war than remain with such rascally lawless fellows."

"You did very right," said De Vere, "and you will find it to your
advantage."

Before the day was over three large ships had been boarded, one of which
had picked up a ship's crew of twenty men at sea.  It seemed hard for
the poor fellows after the dangers they had gone through not to return
to their friends on shore; but necessity has no law.  The greater number
were sent on board the corvette, which, with several of the ship's crew,
fully made up her complement.

As Headland was eager to get to sea, he was glad thus to avoid the
necessity of having to touch at Plymouth, where it would have required
great vigilance to prevent some of the lately pressed men from escaping.



CHAPTER FORTY THREE.

BETTER THAN A TONIC.

The _Thisbe_ had doubled the Cape.

On opening his sealed orders, Captain Headland found that he was to
proceed to the Eastern Seas, and to give notice of the commencement of
hostilities to any ships-of-war or merchantmen he could fall in with.

The _Thisbe_ had touched at Rio to obtain water and provisions, and had
since made the best of her way eastward.

Little did Sir Ralph suppose when he had got Headland appointed to a
ship destined for this service, that he was going to a part of the world
in which he was so much interested.

Headland, as soon as he had opened the orders, determined, as far as was
compatible with his duty, to visit every English settlement, and to make
inquiries which might tend to elucidate the mystery of his birth.
Although upwards of twenty years had passed since he had been put on
board the merchantman by his supposed father, the circumstance, he
thought, might still be recollected by some of the inhabitants, and if
so, he might be able to trace his parents.  His heart beat high with
hope; Harry was sanguine of success.

"I am sure if you can find your parents you will have no more cause to
be ashamed of them than they will have of you," he said, "and find them
you will, I am very certain.  I cannot help feeling that we were
providentially sent out to these seas for that very object."

"At all events, we may make use of the opportunity to obtain it," said
Headland, smiling.

Harry had taken the first opportunity of speaking to the young fisherman
who had volunteered from the lugger, and, ascertaining that he was no
other than Jacob Halliburt, had treated him with all the kindness which,
in their relative positions, he was able to show.

"Do your duty, Halliburt," he said, "and I can answer for it that
Captain Headland will endeavour to promote your interests, and give you
a higher rating as soon as possible.  I will write by the first chance,
to give your friends notice of your safety, and you can do the same, and
let them know what I have said."

"I am much obliged to you for your kindness," answered Jacob.  "I knew,
sir, when I saw you, that you must be Lieutenant Castleton who was at
Texford, and I was thankful to think that I had to serve under you.  If
it had not been for that, I should have been heart-sick to return home
to help poor father, for he must be sorely missing me."  Harry was able
to assure Jacob that his father's spirits were wonderfully kept up, and
that he hoped Ned Brown would stick by him, and help him during his
absence.

"And mother, sir, does she bear up as well as father?" asked Jacob.
Harry, who had seen the dame just before he left home, was able to give
a good account of her.

Jacob longed to ask after May, but he felt tongue-tied, and could not
bring himself to pronounce her name.  Harry was surprised at his
silence.  Jacob merely remarked that he hoped the family at Downside
were also well.

"The ladies were sorry when they heard of your being carried off."

"Thank you, Mr Castleton, thank you," said Jacob.  "I will try and do
as you tell me, and though I could not have brought myself to leave
father of my own accord, it may be my coming aboard here won't be so bad
for me after all."

Harry was still under the belief that Jacob was May's brother, and Jacob
had said nothing to undeceive him.  Jacob at the same time had not the
slightest suspicion that his lieutenant was engaged to marry the being
on whom his own honest affections were so hopelessly set.

It was observed by his messmates that Jacob Halliburt was a great
favourite with the captain and first lieutenant, but as he was a
well-behaved man, and did his duty thoroughly, this was easily accounted
for, as no particular favour was shown him of which others could be
jealous.

Harry would often gladly have talked with Jacob about Hurlston and his
family, but the etiquette of a man of war prevented him from doing so.
He thus remained in ignorance of a circumstance which would have greatly
raised his hopes of overcoming his father's objection to his marriage
with May, for all the time he had supposed that Sir Ralph believed May
to be, as he did, Dame Halliburt's daughter, and had been surprised that
he had not spoken more strongly on the subject.  His only other
supposition was that Sir Ralph had made no enquiries as to May's
parentage, and took it for granted that she was the orphan child of some
friends of his cousins, whom they had charitably adopted.

The _Thisbe_ continued her course day after day over the world of
waters.  Though a constant look-out had been kept, no prizes had been
made, and no enemy's cruisers encountered.  Both the captain and
officers hoped before long to find some work either to bring them credit
or prize money.

Light and baffling winds had of late detained the _Thisbe_, when, having
got somewhat out of her course, Saint Ann, one of the Seychelle Islands,
was sighted.  Captain Headland stood in for the Mahe Roads, in the hopes
that some of the enemy's privateers or merchantmen might be anchored
there, and might be cut out without detaining him long.

The opportunity must not be lost.  The wind favoured them, for, instead
of blowing off-shore as it generally does, the sea-breeze carried them
swiftly towards the harbour.

Eager eyes were on the look-out.  A large ship was discovered at anchor
without her foremast.  From her appearance she would evidently be a
prize worth taking; but whether or not she was too strongly armed to
allow the _Thisbe_ to make the attempt was the question.  As she could
not move, Captain Headland stood in close enough to ascertain this, and
determined, should her size give him a fair hope of conquest, to attack
her.

The cables were ranged with springs ready for anchoring, and the ship
cleared for action.  All on board eagerly hoped that they might have
work to do, and every telescope was turned towards the stranger.

The _Thisbe_ had hoisted French colours, that her expected antagonist
might not take the alarm, and run on shore to avoid her.

It was at length ascertained that the stranger was a flush deck ship,
and ten guns were counted on the only side visible.  Though she was
apparently larger than the _Thisbe_, and more heavily armed, Captain
Headland no longer hesitated, while the master volunteered to take the
ship in among the numerous shoals which guarded the entrance of the
harbour.  Taking his station on the fore-yardarm, guided by the colour
of the water, he gave directions to the helmsman how to steer.

The stranger remained quietly at anchor, apparently not suspecting the
character of her visitor.

Harry was amused, as he went from gun to gun, to hear the remarks of
some of the men who saw the French flag flying at the peak of the
corvette.

"I thought our craft was an English ship, and we British tars, and now I
see we be turned into mounseers," said one, cocking his eye at the
tricoloured flag.

"If we be, my boy, we will show yonder ship that the mounseers can fight
their guns as well as British tars for once in a way," remarked another
who stood near him.

"Never you fear, mate, that gay-coloured flag will come down fast enough
before we open fire."

The last speaker was right--the moment to which all were looking forward
was approaching.  Every man was at his station.  Not a word was now
spoken except by the master as he issued his orders from the yardarm.

The stranger gave no signs that she was aware of the approach of an
enemy.

"We will run alongside and carry her by boarding; it will save our
anchoring, and we shall not injure her spars--an important object, as I
hope we may have to carry her off to sea," observed the captain to his
first lieutenant.

The _Thisbe_ was now within 200 yards of the stranger's bows, when the
master gave notice that there was a shoal ahead extending on either
hand, while on shore a battery was seen commanding the passage, and
several smaller vessels at anchor under it.

Headland instantly gave the order to anchor.  The crew swarmed aloft to
hand sails, the French colours was hauled down, and the English run up
at the peak.  At the same moment the stranger opened a hot fire from the
whole of her broadside.

"Fire," cried Captain Headland, and the _Thisbe_ returned the warm
salute she had received.

The battery on shore and the small vessels at the same time began
peppering away at her.

Broadsides were exchanged with great rapidity between the combatants.
The firing calming the light wind which had been blowing, the two ships
were soon shrouded in a canopy of smoke.  The English crew redoubled
their efforts.  Several had been struck, yet two only lay dead on her
deck.

The Frenchman's fire, however, at length began to slacken, and in little
more than a quarter of an hour down came the tricoloured flag, loud
cheers bursting from the throats of the _Thisbe's_ crew.  A boat was
instantly sent under the command of the second lieutenant to take
possession of the prize, but as he was pulling alongside the Frenchmen
were seen lowering their boats, in which a considerable number made
their escape to the shore.

The battery continued firing, and Captain Headland directed Harry to
land with a boat's crew and silence it.  Jacob accompanied him.  The
smaller vessels meantime cut their cables, some running on shore, and
others endeavouring to make their escape through the intricate passages,
where the English ship could not follow them.

Harry, ordering his men to give way, pulled rapidly for the beach,
exposed to a hot fire of musketry in addition to that from the heavy
guns in the battery.  Forming his men, he led the way up the steep bank.

The battery had been rapidly thrown up, and offered no insuperable
impediment.  Sword in hand he leaped over the parapet, followed closely
by Jacob and the rest of his men.

At the same moment a bullet struck him on the shoulder, and a tall
French officer, supported by a party of his men, was on the point of
cutting him down as he fell forward, when Jacob, with uplifted cutlass,
saved him from the blow, returning it with such interest that his
assailant fell back wounded among his men.

At this juncture a number of the French who had landed from the ship
entered the fort to assist its defenders, and attacked the small party
of English who had accompanied Harry.  Jacob threw himself across the
body of his lieutenant, and defended him bravely from the attacks of the
French, who attempted to bayonet him as he lay on the ground.  The
remainder of the boat's crew springing over the entrenchments now came
to Jacob's support.  The garrison fought bravely, and disputed every
inch of ground.  Jacob's great object, however, was to protect Harry,
and as soon as the Frenchmen had given way, springing back, he lifted
Harry on his shoulders, and leaping over the entrenchments, carried him
down to the boat.

In the meantime, Headland suspecting that the fort was stronger than he
had at first supposed, despatched another boat to Harry's assistance.
The men sent in her landed just as a party of Frenchmen had come round
the hill, and were on the point of intercepting Jacob, who was hurrying
down with his burden, regardless of the shot whistling by him.

The Frenchmen on seeing this took to flight, while the last party of
English climbing the hill threw themselves into the fort, and quickly
cleared it of its defenders.  The French flag was hauled down by the
young midshipman who had led the second party, and that of England
hoisted in its stead.

No further opposition was made, the French seeking shelter in the
neighbouring woods, where they were not likely to be followed.  A few
had been cut down while defending the fort, while others, unable to make
their escape, were taken prisoners.

The fort was found to contain six guns landed from the ship, as also a
furnace for heating shot.

As soon as the Frenchmen had disappeared, one of the boats was sent back
with the wounded lieutenant, and two of the men who had also been hurt.

Jacob carried Harry up the side, evidently considering that it was his
duty to attend on him till he had placed him in the surgeon's hands.

No time was lost in getting the captured vessel ready for sea, while the
guns belonging to her, which had been in the fort, were brought on
board.  A new mast was found on the beach, ready to be towed off.  It
was soon got on board and stepped, and in a couple of days the
_Concord_, a fine new sloop of 22 guns, was following the _Thisbe_ out
of the roads.

The command had of necessity been given to Lieutenant De Vere, as Harry
was unable to assume it.

The surgeon looked grave when he spoke to the captain about him.

"We must keep a careful watch over him, for he has a good deal of fever,
and in these warm latitudes it is somewhat a serious matter."

Harry had expressed a wish to have Jacob Halliburt to attend on him, and
as it was necessary that some one should be constantly at his side,
Jacob was appointed to that duty.

It would have been impossible to have found a more tender nurse, and no
one could have attended more carefully to the directions given by the
surgeon.

The fever the surgeon dreaded, however, came on, and for several days
Harry was delirious.  Often the name of "May" was on his lips, and
Jacob, as he listened, discovered that his lieutenant loved her.

Several days went by, and Harry appeared to get worse.  On his return to
consciousness he felt how completely his strength had deserted him, and
though the doctor tried to keep up his spirits by telling him that he
would get better in time, so great was his weakness that he felt himself
to be dying.  He was anxious not to alarm his friend Headland; but as
Jacob stood by his bedside, he told him what he believed would be the
case.

"And I hope, my good fellow, that you will be able to return to your
home, and if you do, I wish you to bear a message to your father and
mother, and to your sister.  I know that she no longer lives with them,
and has become fit to occupy a different station in life; but you, I
doubt not, love her notwithstanding as much as ever.  Tell your parents
how much I esteem them, and say to your sister that my love is
unchangeable, that my dying thoughts were of her, my last prayers for
her welfare.  I have done what I could to secure it, and have left her
all the property I possess.  Mr Shallard, the lawyer at Morbury, will
enable her to obtain possession of it."

"Miss May my sister!" exclaimed Jacob in a tone which aroused Harry's
attention.  "I will tell her what you say, sir, if my eyes are ever
blessed by seeing her again, but she is not father and mother's child.
Father found her on board a wreck when she was a little child, and
though she is now a grown young lady, she does not mind still calling
them as she did when she lived with us, and that's made you fancy she is
their daughter."

This answer of Jacob's had a wonderful effect on Harry.  He asked
question after question, entirely forgetting the weakness of which he
had been complaining.  Jacob gave him a full account of the way May had
been preserved, how she had been brought up by his parents, and how the
Miss Pembertons had invited her to come and live with them.

At length the doctor coming into the cabin put an end to the
conversation.

From that moment Harry began to recover.  It seemed to him at once that
the great difficulty which he had dreaded was removed, and, ready as he
had been to marry May although she was a fisherman's daughter, he was
not the less gratified to hear that she was in all probability of gentle
birth although her parents were unknown.  How he had not learned this
before surprised him.  He could only, as was really the case, fancy that
the Miss Pembertons and May herself supposed him to be aware of the
truth, and had therefore not alluded to it.  He thought over all his
conversations with May; he recollected that they had generally spoken of
the future rather than of the past, by which alone he could account for
her silence on the subject.

"How remarkable it is," he thought, "that my beloved May and Headland
should be placed in precisely similar situations, both ignorant of their
parents, and yet enjoying the position in life in which they were
evidently born."

Headland was as much surprised as his friend when he heard the account
Harry gave him.

"It must indeed be satisfactory news to you, Harry, and I am grateful to
young Halliburt for giving it you, as it is the physic you wanted, and
has done more than all the doctor's tonics in bringing you round."

Harry, indeed, after this rapidly got well, and before the ship with her
prize arrived in Calcutta, he was able to return to his duty.



CHAPTER FORTY FOUR.

A CHASE.

The active little _Thisbe_ had been for some time at sea, and had
already performed her duty of giving notice of the recommencement of
hostilities at the different stations, and to the men-of-war and
merchantmen she met with.

Her captain, aided by Harry, had made all the enquiries he could
relating to the circumstance in which he was so deeply interested, but
without any satisfactory result.

Harry had heard in Calcutta of his uncle, Mr Ranald Castleton, who had
gone to Penang soon after its establishment as the seat of government of
the British possessions in the Straits of Malacca.  He had, however,
sailed for England some years before, during the previous war, and the
ship had, it was supposed, either been lost or captured by the enemy, as
she had not afterwards been heard of.  Those who had known him were
either dead or had returned home, and Harry could obtain no certain
information, except the fact that he had had a wife and children, but
that they were supposed to have perished with him.

Still neither Harry nor Headland gave up hopes of gaining the
information they wished for.

Harry had, as he promised, kept his eye on Jacob, who, greatly to his
satisfaction, had been made a petty officer.  As he was becoming a
thorough seaman, and read and wrote better than most of the men in the
ship, the captain promised, should a vacancy occur, to give him an
acting warrant as boatswain or gunner.

The _Thisbe_ had been more than a year on the station.  Harry had
received no letters from home.  How he longed to hear from May and
Julia.  He thought that both would certainly have written.  His mother,
too, ought not to have forgotten him; but in those days, when no regular
post was established, letters were frequently a long time on their way.
He had written several times to Julia, and not less often, as may be
supposed, to May.  He had enclosed his letters to her to the Miss
Pembertons.  He suspected she would wish him to do so, and also that
they would have a better prospect of reaching her.  He told her the
satisfaction he felt at discovering that she was not, as he had
supposed, Adam Halliburt's daughter, but in all probability his equal in
birth, and that thus the great obstacle in obtaining his father's
sanction to his marriage no longer existed.

He sent messages to Adam and the dame, assuring them that he would look
after Jacob's interests, and he enclosed at different times letters from
Jacob himself to his father and mother.  Jacob's letters chiefly
contained praises of Lieutenant Castleton and his captain.  Though for
his father's sake he regretted having been forced from his home, he was
well content with his life, and spoke with enthusiasm of the strange
countries and people he had visited, and of his prospects of advancement
in the service.

The _Thisbe_ had once more got free of the Straits of Malacca.

Having run down the coast of Sumatra, and touched at Bencoolen, was
standing across the Indian Ocean, when towards sunset a large ship was
descried from the mast-head, to the south-west.  At the distance she was
away it was impossible to say whether she was an enemy or friend,
whether ship-of-war or merchantman.  At all events the captain
determined to overhaul her, and made all sail in chase.  The great point
was to get near enough to keep her in sight during the night, so as to
follow her should she alter her course.  When the sun went down she was
still standing as at first seen, and had not apparently discovered that
she was chased.

The night was clear, the sea smooth, and the graceful corvette, with all
sail set below and aloft, made good way through the water, and was fast
coming up with the chase.  The captain's intention, however, was not to
approach too near till daylight, for should she prove an enemy's
man-of-war of much superior force, the _Thisbe_ would have to trust to
her heels to keep out of her way, though should she be of a size which
he might without undue rashness attack, the captain's intention was to
bring her to action, well knowing that he would be ably supported by his
officers and crew.

But few of the watch below turned in, every spyglass on board being
turned towards the chase.  There were various opinions as to her
character, some believing her to be a man-of-war, others a French or
Dutch merchantman, and from the course she was steering it was believed
she had come through the Straits of Sunda.  The dawn of day which might
settle the question was anxiously looked for.

At length a ruddy glow appeared in the eastern horizon, gradually
extending over the sky, and suffusing a wide expanse of the calm ocean
with a bright pink hue, and tinging the loftier sails of the stranger,
while to the west the surface of the water still remained of a dark
purple tint.

"She has hoisted English colours," exclaimed Harry, who had his glass
fixed on the chase.

A general exclamation of disappointment escaped those who heard him.

"That is no proof that she is English," observed the captain.  "The cut
of her sails is English, and though she is a large ship, she is no
man-of-war, of that I am certain.  We will speak her at all events, and
settle the point."

The stranger was seen to be making all sail; royals were set, and
studding sails rigged out, but in a slow way, which confirmed Headland's
opinion of her being a merchantman.  This showed that her commander had
no inclination to await the coming up of the corvette, of whose
nationality, however, he might have had doubts.

Although the chase had now every sail set she could carry, the corvette
still gained on her.

"Those heavy tea-chests require a strong breeze to drive them through
the water," observed the master to Harry.  "I rather think, too, we
shall have one before long.  I don't quite like the look of the sky, and
we are not far off the hurricane season."

The crew were piped for breakfast, and the officers who could be spared
from the deck went below.  De Vere had been attacked by fever at
Bencoolen, and was in his cabin.  The master remained in charge of the
deck.

Breakfast was hurried over.

When Harry and the captain returned on deck a marked change had taken
place in the weather.  Dark clouds were gathering in the northern
horizon, and fitful gusts of wind came sweeping over the ocean, stirring
up its hitherto calm surface, and sending the spoon-drift flying rapidly
over it.  Still the chase kept her canvas set, having altered her course
more to the southward.

"They hope that we shall get the wind first, and be compelled to shorten
sail, and that she will thus have a better chance of again getting ahead
of us," observed the master.

Still the corvette carried on.  The captain had his eye to windward,
however, prepared to give the order to shorten sail.  She had come up
fast with the chase, which she at length got within range of her guns.
A bow-chaser was run out, and a shot fired.  The stranger paid no
attention to it.  A few more minutes were allowed to elapse, when
another shot was fired with the same result as at first.  On this
Headland ordered the English flag to be hauled down, and that of France
substituted.  No sooner was this done than the stranger, hauling down
the red ensign, hoisted the tricoloured flag.

"I thought so," exclaimed Headland, "shorten sail."

The studding sails were rigged in, the royals handed.  Again the British
flag was hoisted instead of that of France, and a shot fired.  On this
the stranger took in her studding sails and loftier canvas, and, as the
_Thisbe_ ranged up alongside, fired a broadside.

The _Thisbe's_ crew returned it with interest, and before the enemy
could again fire they delivered a second broadside, which cut away some
of her standing and running rigging, and caused other damage.  The
stranger again fired, but after receiving a few more broadsides,
evidently finding that she had no hope of escaping from her active
antagonist, she hauled down her colours.

The wind had during the action been increasing, and the sea getting up,
it was necessary to take possession of her without delay, as unless her
canvas was speedily reduced, in all probability her masts would be
carried over the side.

Harry volunteered to go on board, and a boat being lowered, accompanied
by Jacob and seven other men, he pulled alongside.

He had just gained her deck, and was receiving the sword of the officer
in command, when the gale which had long been threatening struck the two
ships.  The _Thisbe's_ crew having secured their guns were swarming
aloft to take in her canvas.

The deck of the prize presented a scene of the greatest confusion.
Several of her men lay dead, some were endeavouring to secure the guns,
a few had gone aloft to take in sail, but the greater number were
running about not knowing what to do.  Harry ordered his men to let go
everything.  The topgallant-sails, which were still set, were in an
instant torn into ribbons, the foretopsail was blown out of the bolt
ropes, and the mizzen-mast, which had been wounded, was carried over the
side, and the prize lay a helpless wreck amid the raging seas which
threatened every instant her destruction.



CHAPTER FORTY FIVE.

A REVERSE.

We must return to Texford.  Julia had kept to her resolution of not
going up to London.

She had soon a reason for remaining in the country, which even her
father could not oppose.  Algernon had joined a volunteer regiment
formed in the country, and the exposure to which he was subjected
rapidly tended to increase the pulmonary complaint from which he had
long suffered.  He was soon confined almost entirely to the house,
except when the weather allowed him to be drawn about the grounds in a
wheel-chair.

Julia watched over him with the most affectionate solicitude, and all
that medical skill could accomplish was done to arrest the fatal malady,
but in vain.

Lady Castleton came back from London to assist in watching over him, and
she was soon, with a breaking heart, compelled to write to Sir Ralph to
tell him that she feared that their eldest son's days were rapidly
drawing to a close.  He thought that she was over anxious, and he,
absorbed as usual in politics, delayed his journey.

Algernon still retained the pride of the family which had always
animated him, and though aware of the fatal character of the complaint
from which he was suffering, he was as anxious as ever to prevent his
sister from contracting a marriage with a man of unknown birth like
Headland.

He had desired to be wheeled out to a sunny spot where he could enjoy a
view of the lake.  Having sent the servant away to the other side to
gather water-lilies, he broached the subject to Julia.  He could not,
however, have chosen a more inappropriate locality, for it was here that
Headland had first declared his love, and she had accepted him.

"My dear sister," he began, "I may or may not recover from this
complaint, but, at all events, it would be a great satisfaction to me to
know that you had given up all ideas of marrying Captain Headland.  It
was a most unfortunate thought of Harry's to invite him here.  Though he
may be a very fine fellow, our brother ought to have known that a man of
his birth could not be welcome at Texford, and I must say it would have
been wiser in you had you inquired who he was before you allowed your
fancy to be captivated by him."

A fit of coughing prevented Algernon from continuing his remarks.

Julia felt deeply grieved.  She was afraid of irritating him by replying
as her feelings prompted.

"My dear brother," she answered, "we will not discuss the subject, but
believe me I will endeavour to seek for guidance, and trust that I shall
be led aright in the matter."

"But what you think right our father and I may consider very wrong,"
exclaimed Algernon, petulantly.  "You ought to promise to discard the
fellow at once when you know how we object to your marrying him."

"I have promised our father not to marry Captain Headland without his
sanction, and let me entreat you to rest satisfied with that," answered
Julia, looking out anxiously for the return of the servant.

"But I want to be satisfied that you never will marry him," exclaimed
Algernon.  "It is still more important, as Harry has taken it into his
head to fall in love with this pretty little protege of our cousins, and
he is such a determined fellow that I should not be surprised if he
marries her notwithstanding all opposition."

"I am not surprised that Harry should have fallen in love with her, for
she is a lovely girl, and every time I have seen her I have admired her
more and more: her love and devotion to our poor cousins is most
admirable; but still even she would not consent to marry Harry without
our father's permission, and would not, I think, act in direct
opposition to our parents."

"Whether he does or does not, that will not alter your position with
regard to Headland," said Algernon, returning to the subject from which
Julia had hoped to escape.  "Harry would raise his wife to his own
station; you will be lowered by marrying a man like Headland."

"That is impossible," exclaimed Julia, indignantly.  "I should be raised
to the station which he has gained by his courage and gallantry; no lady
in the land could be degraded by marrying him.  I did not wish to say
this to you, Algernon," she added, seeing the flush of anger rising on
his pale brow.

"I see how it will be," he said, after he had recovered from another fit
of coughing, "you will prove as obstinate as Harry."

Fortunately the servant returned with the flowers, which the poor
invalid let drop by his side after looking at them for a moment.  Julia
signed to the man to wheel her brother home, for she felt very anxious
at the change she had observed since they left the house.  He with
difficulty reached his room, but never again left it.

Julia, who, since Harry went away, had frequently ridden over to
Downside, wrote to Miss Jane, sending the carriage, and asking her to
come to Texford.  Notwithstanding the neglect with which she and her
sister had been treated, sympathising with Julia and Lady Castleton in
their grief, she immediately complied.  She did her utmost to comfort
her cousins, while she faithfully delivered the Gospel message to poor
Algernon, wondering that he should be so utterly ignorant of its tenor
and object.

Lady Castleton again wrote to Sir Ralph, but when he arrived Algernon
had ceased to breathe.

Miss Jane had returned to Downside in the morning.  Brave as she was,
she did not wish to encounter Sir Ralph.  Sir Ralph exhibited no
overwhelming grief at the loss of his eldest son; his thoughts seemed
immediately to centre on Harry.

"We must write and have him home at once," he said to Lady Castleton.
"I will get him into parliament, and with his nautical experience, he
will be able to make a figure on all naval matters, and if he follows my
advice, he must inevitably become a leading man.  I hope he will have
got over his foolish fancy for that pretty girl at our cousins.  He must
be kept out of her way, and we must take care that he does not come to
Texford.  You and Julia must do your best to amuse him in London as soon
as he arrives.  I have written to Fancourt, and he will arrange about
his coming home at the Admiralty."

Julia was still able to remain at Texford after Algernon's death, as
neither she nor her mother could mix in London society.  Feeling sure
that Harry would prove restive, and not willingly enter into his
father's plans, she did not look forward to his arrival with the
satisfaction she might otherwise have done.  In her heart she could not
wish him to give up May, whom she herself already loved with the
affection of a sister.

She had one day ridden over to Downside soon after Algernon's death,
when, the post arriving, a letter was put into Miss Jane's hands.  As
she read it, the expression of her countenance changed; it first
appeared as if she was about to give way to tears, and then assumed a
firm and determined look.

"I must not conceal the contents of this letter from you, Julia, nor can
I from Mary and May."

May, turning pale, gazed anxiously at Miss Jane; the thought that the
letter had reference to Harry crossed her mind.  She gasped for breath.

"What is it, Jane?" asked Miss Mary, in a calm tone.  "From whom is the
letter?"

"From Mr Shallard; he writes that the M-- bank, in which most of our
property is invested, has failed, and he fears that but a small portion
will be saved."

"Oh, how terrible," exclaimed Julia.

"Not terrible, dear Julia," said Miss Mary, "though trying.  I grieve
for others more than for ourselves," and she turned her sightless orbs
towards May.  "It will be very sad to have to give up Downside; and oh,
dear May, it is sadder still to think that you will be so ill provided
for."

"Oh, do not grieve for me, dear ladies," exclaimed May, going to Miss
Mary's side, and taking her hand.  "Perhaps you will not be compelled to
leave Downside.  I will work for you with heart and hand; if you have to
dismiss your servants, I will serve you instead.  I can attend to the
house, and to the garden too; surely you will then be able to live on
here."

"My dear, dear child," exclaimed Miss Mary, "I am sure you will do all
you can, but you would soon overtax your strength.  We must take time to
consider what may be necessary to do."

"I am sure our dear May will not fail us.  As you say, Mary, we must
take time to consider, and, at all events, we must be resigned to God's
will," said Miss Jane.

"Oh, how I wish that I could help you," exclaimed Julia.  "Surely papa
will be ready to assist you, his nearest relatives, and I am confident
that mamma will gladly do so."

"We feel grateful to you, Julia, for your sympathy, but we must not
expect assistance from others.  Mr Shallard says that our property is
not entirely gone.  As I am thankful to say that we have lived within
our income, we may have enough to support us in our old age, without
relying on charity," answered Miss Jane, with a slight tinge of pride in
the tone of her voice.

Julia was at length compelled to return to Texford.  She was struck with
the appearance of cheerfulness which May maintained, while she did
everything she could think of to cheer the spirits of her friends.

On her return home, Julia told her mother what had occurred.

"I fear that Sir Ralph will not even offer to assist our cousins;
however I will write to him, and suggest the propriety of his doing so."

Her mother's answer did not give Julia any strong hopes that she would
be successful.

Lady Castleton herself drove over to condole with her cousins.  They
received her in their usual manner, and not till she introduced the
subject did they speak of their loss.

"We are much obliged to you for your sympathy," answered Miss Jane, "but
we do not contemplate leaving Downside for the present.  We have
dismissed our servants with the exception of our faithful attendant,
Susan, who insists on remaining, and though we may be occasionally
pinched, it is only what our poorer neighbours constantly are, and we
should be ashamed not to bear it as well as they do."

"My good cousins, you are indeed wonderful women," exclaimed Lady
Castleton.  "I suspect that had such a misfortune happened to us, we
should have broken down completely."

"You see we know in whom we trust, and He supports us," remarked Miss
Mary.  "You would find the same support were you to seek it."

Lady Castleton did not quite comprehend her cousin's remark.  Her heart,
however, was softened by her son's loss, and feeling compassion for her
cousins, she frequently drove over to see them, and sent presents of
fruit and vegetables, believing that she was thus affording them all the
assistance in her power.  It did not occur to her to limit her own
expenses, and thus have the power of offering them more substantial aid.
Julia, however, was anxious to do so, but her own allowance was small,
and she found that she had saved so little that she was ashamed to offer
it, especially as she doubted whether her cousins would accept the gift.

May carried out her intentions as far as she could.  Miss Jane would not
let her work as hard as she wished, and she herself and Susan attended
to the household affairs, while they left May to take charge of Miss
Mary.

May, with the numerous duties which now employed her time, was unable to
get down as frequently as formerly to see Dame Halliburt and Adam,
though the dame never passed Downside on her rounds without leaving a
dish of fish for the ladies' acceptance.

When May, at Miss Jane's desire, expostulated with her, the good woman
replied--

"Tell them it's they do Adam and me a favour, and it's no loss to us,
for Adam generally catches more fish than we can sell, and if we were to
send them a dish every day for the next hundred years, we could never
repay them what we owe; so just beg them, with our respects, never to
say another word about the matter."

As may be supposed, this constant supply was really very welcome, and
contributed to keep down Miss Jane's weekly bills.  Thus, although their
means were greatly straitened, the ladies still hoped to pay the rent of
their pretty cottage.

Their lives were spent in a daily routine of duty.  Miss Jane visited
the poor as she had been accustomed to do, although she had much less to
give them than formerly, and May took her daily walks with Miss Mary,
and read to her as much as usual, finding time notwithstanding for her
other duties.

As soon as Sir Ralph returned to Texford, Lady Castleton and Julia spoke
to him about their cousins' loss of property, and expressed their wish
that some means could be taken to increase their now very limited
income.  Sir Ralph listened to them with more attention than they had
expected.

"You are both very kind and charitable ladies," he remarked, in a tone
they did not like.  "I will ride over and call on our cousins."

"Let me accompany you, papa," said Julia.  "I can take a stroll with May
in the garden, while you are discussing business matters with the elder
ladies."

"I do not wish you to be on intimate terms with that young person,"
answered Sir Ralph; "and as my visit will be on business, I must beg to
be favoured with your company when I ride elsewhere."

Julia felt grieved at her father's reply.

Sir Ralph rode to Downside.  Miss Jane received him with her usual frank
and kind manner.  She hoped that Algernon's death might have softened
his heart.  He sat and talked for some time, addressing Jane and Miss
Mary, but, except the formal bow which he gave on entering, not noticing
May, though he now and then turned an involuntary glance at her--a
tribute to her beauty.

At length he said--

"I must confess, my good cousins, I came over to have a little
conversation on business, and if you will afford me your attention in
private for a few minutes, I will explain my object."

"We have no secrets from our dear May," answered Miss Jane.

"That may be," said the baronet, "but I wish to address myself to you
alone."

May rose as he spoke, and left the room.

"I have no doubt you have ample reasons for the regard you entertain for
that young person," he began in his most bland tone.  "She may be very
estimable, and her beauty is, I own, of a high order."

"It is the least of her excellences, Sir Ralph," observed Miss Jane,
resolved to meet the baronet in his own style.

"That may be," he answered, with a bow; "it is the quality, however,
which has probably attracted my son Harry.  You must be aware, my good
cousins, however much he may fancy himself in love, I naturally object
to his marrying a person of unknown birth and destitute of fortune.  I
objected when he was my second son, and since he has become my heir, I
am doubly opposed to the match, as I wish him to marry a lady of rank
and fortune who will contribute to his advancement in life.  I am thus
candid, that you may understand my motive for the offer I have come to
make."

"We are happy to listen to anything you may have to say, Sir Ralph,"
answered Miss Jane, bowing, "though I cannot promise that we shall be
ready to accept your offer."

"You will at all events hear it before you decide, my good cousin.  Not
to keep you longer in suspense, I will at once place you in possession
of my intentions.  You have, I understand, lost a considerable amount of
your property, which, if I am rightly informed, you had left by will to
the young person of whom we have been speaking.  Now, I am willing to
make up your loss to you so that you may leave her as well provided for
as you intended, on condition that she signs an agreement not to marry
Harry, and to refuse ever again to see him.  He is somewhat of a
headstrong character, and it is the only security I can have that he
will not on his return to England induce her to become his wife."

"Is that the offer you have to make?" asked Miss Jane, in a tone of
mingled surprise and anger.  "I speak for myself and my sister.  We
certainly cannot accept it, and I am very certain that nothing would
induce our dear May to sign such an agreement.  She has already refused
to marry Harry should you and Lady Castleton withhold your consent.  She
did so, confident of Harry's love--in the belief that you would in time
relent.  But you might as well plunge a dagger in her breast as ask her
to abandon the hope which now supports her of some day becoming his
wife.  I beg, therefore, that you will not expect us to make so cruel a
proposal."

"Very well, my good cousins.  I must take other means of preventing
Harry from marrying the girl, and you will lose the advantage I have
offered," answered the baronet.

"We at all events shall have the consciousness of having acted rightly,"
observed Miss Jane.

Sir Ralph, who was courteous under all circumstances, rose as he spoke,
and gracefully putting out his hand, bowed low and quitted the room.

"Abominable," exclaimed Miss Jane, "he must have formed a strange
opinion of us."

"He holds, I fear, a low opinion of his fellow-creatures generally,"
said Miss Mary, "and the sooner we try to forget what he has said, the
better."

The ladies agreed not to let May know of Sir Ralph's insulting offer as
they justly considered it.  Miss Jane's only fear was, that he might,
under the belief that she would be induced to consent, make it to May
herself.  She determined to be on the watch to prevent him, if possible,
from doing so.

He did not, however, again appear at Downside.  The great event which
occurred to break the monotony of their lives was the arrival of a
packet from the East containing Harry's enclosure to May.  With what
eagerness and delight she read it, what pleasure she felt in being able
to give one from Jacob to the dame.  May's heart throbbed as she read
Harry's account of the capture of the French ship.  Her woman's heart
was gratified too, when he told her how completely he had loved her for
herself alone, and that he had only just discovered that she was not, as
he had supposed, a fisherman's daughter, but might some day be found to
be as well-born as himself.

"I cannot help hoping that such will prove to be the case, and then the
only bar to our happiness will be removed, dearest May," he wrote.
Other letters came describing the voyage of the _Thisbe_ through the
Indian Seas, and then month after month passed by and no more were
received.  The roses began to fade from May's cheeks, even the Miss
Pembertons became anxious.  Neither had Julia nor any of his family
heard from him.

Julia told them that Sir Ralph had obtained permission for Harry to
return home, and that possibly being on his voyage he had thought it
unnecessary to write; but this would not account for the long interval
between his last letter and the time when he could have received the
Admiralty's orders.

Whenever Julia went to Downside, she had to give the same answer--"no
news from Harry."

Sir Ralph himself had become anxious, and made frequent visits to the
Admiralty to hear whether his son had been heard of.  The only
information he could gain was that the _Thisbe_ had been sent to the
Indian Archipelago and had not returned to Calcutta.

At length news was received that she had arrived after encountering a
terrific hurricane, and that she had captured a prize, in which one of
her officers and several of her men had been lost.

"But the officer's name," asked Sir Ralph of the clerk who was giving
him the information.

"I shall find it shortly, sir.  Yes, as I feared, it is Lieutenant
Castleton."  Sir Ralph staggered out of the Admiralty.  At the door he
encountered General Sampson.

"I have just come to enquire about my gallant friend, Captain Headland,
and your boy Harry," exclaimed the old soldier, taking the baronet's
hand.  "Why, you look pale, Sir Ralph, what is the matter?"

"He has gone, lost in a hurricane," answered Sir Ralph, with a groan.
"I do not believe it; cannot be the case; he would swim through fifty
hurricanes," exclaimed the petulant old general.  "The clerks here never
have the rights of the story.  Come back with me, we will have a look at
the despatches.  We manage things better at the War Office, I flatter
myself."

"The account was very circumstantial though," said Sir Ralph, with a
sigh.  "I wish I could believe there was a mistake."

"Of course there is a mistake, very sure of it.  Come along, and we will
soon set it to rights."

The general dragged Sir Ralph back into the building.  The clerk looked
somewhat offended at the general's address.

"I understand that you have told Sir Ralph Castleton that his son is
lost.  You should be more exact, sir, in the information you give.  Just
let me see the despatch."

The clerk hesitated, on which the general desired his name to be taken
in to the secretary.  He was admitted, and the despatch placed in his
hand.  His countenance fell.

"Still I do not see that it is certain," he observed.  "The ship was not
seen to go down, and if she had, some of the people may have been saved:
people often are saved from sinking ships, and there is no proof
positive that she did sink.  Though the _Thisbe_ may have been in
danger, and I am sure if Captain Headland says she was, it must have
been of no ordinary character, that is no reason that the prize might
not have weathered the hurricane.  He speaks of her, I see, as a
recapture, and in all probability an Indiaman, and those hulking
tea-chests will float when a man-of-war will go down."

"I trust, general, you are right," observed the secretary: "I will not
fail to inform Sir Ralph directly we receive further information."

Notwithstanding all the general had said, Sir Ralph felt so greatly
dispirited, that, writing to Lady Castleton, he gave her no hopes of
Harry's having escaped.

Unable to speak, she placed the letter in her daughter's hands.  As
Julia's glance fell on the name of the _Thisbe_, and the words "all the
people are lost," a sickening sensation came over, and her eyes refused
to convey to her mind the meaning of the letter.  It was dropping from
her trembling hands when, by a great effort, she recovered herself, and
at length was able to decipher the writing.  She read on.  The _Thisbe_
and Headland were safe.  Poor Harry was lost.  She blamed herself for
selfishly feeling that this was a relief.  Then May, crushed by the
agony of her grief, rose before her.

"This blow, sweet creature, will break her heart," she thought.

"Oh, mother, this is very very sad," she said aloud, "can it be true?"

"Your father speaks as if he had no hopes; he would have expressed
himself differently had he entertained any."

"Mother, I must go and break this sad news to our cousins and that poor
girl; it might kill her were she to hear of it suddenly."

"Grief never kills in that way, though it may by slow degrees," said
Lady Castleton, with a deep sigh.  "It will, however, be kind in you to
do as you propose; will you drive or ride over to Downside?"

Julia determined to ride; the air and exercise would nerve her for the
trying interview.

Why had not Headland written though? probably he had been prevented by
his professional duties.

Attended by the old coachman who generally accompanied her with one of
the carriage horses, she reached Downside.  May hurried out to meet her.
Julia could scarcely restrain her agitation, or keep back her tears, as
May, with an inquiring glance, led her into the drawing-room where Miss
Mary and Miss Jane were seated.

"What has happened?" asked May, in an agitated voice, taking Julia's
hand, who sank into a chair.

"I will speak to cousin Jane first," said Julia, as she rose.  Unable
longer to restrain her feelings, she threw her arms round May's neck,
and burst into tears.

"What has happened?" exclaimed May, her voice trembling as she spoke.
"Oh tell me, has Harry been wounded? is he in danger?"

Julia's sobs prevented her from replying.  Miss Jane believing the
worst, led May to the sofa as if she considered that Julia's information
most concerned her.

"We must all live prepared to say `thy will be done,'" said Miss Jane,
seating herself by May's side, and taking her in her arms.

The colour forsook May's cheek, and she gazed at her with a glance that
showed she was unable to comprehend what was said.

"Where is Harry? is he ill?" she gasped out.

Julia feeling that it would be best at once to speak, told May the
contents of Sir Ralph's letter.

"Let me see it," she said at length.

Julia, who had brought it, put it into her hands.

"I cannot, I will not believe that he is lost," she exclaimed; "your
father himself is not certain.  He will come back, I know he will, and
he must never, never go to sea again.  How cruel in those who have thus
written to say that he is lost when they cannot know it;" and poor May
laughed hysterically.

Julia forgot her own grief in attending to her.  Miss Jane did her
utmost to restore her to herself.  She succeeded at length, and May was
able to speak calmly of the contents of the letter.  She even inspired
Miss Jane with the hope that Harry and his ship had escaped destruction.

Julia rode back to Texford with her own mind greatly relieved.  May had
borne the intelligence much better than she had expected, and she
trusted that her father had too readily believed the report of Harry's
loss.  She resolved, at all events, not to credit it till she had heard
directly from Captain Headland, and she fully believed that she should
ere long receive intelligence from him, which would either contradict
the report altogether, or strengthen their hopes that Harry, though he
might have been in danger, had escaped.

Week after week went by and still no letter arrived from Headland.
Julia frequently went over to Downside, and was surprised to find May so
calm and cheerful, attending regularly to her various duties.  She was
paler, it is true, than usual--no longer was there the beaming smile on
her countenance, nor did she ever give way to that joyous laugh which
seldom failed to inspire those who heard it.  Sometimes Julia was almost
inclined to doubt whether May could be so much attached to her brother
as she had supposed, but then if his name was mentioned there came an
expression on her countenance which at once convinced her that the young
girl loved him with a devotion as true as ever woman felt for man.

The report of Lieutenant Castleton's death soon got abroad in the
neighbourhood of Texford, and Dame Halliburt being among the first to
hear it, feeling naturally anxious about Jacob, hastened up to Texford
to ascertain its truth.  She found Mr Groocock in his office.  He could
only assure her that nothing had been said about Jacob, that he knew
Miss Julia entertained the idea that Mr Harry was still alive.  Since
Sam's death she had become more anxious and nervous than was her wont,
and she made up her mind that Jacob must have accompanied Mr Harry, and
that if he was lost her son was lost also.  She expressed her fears to
others, though she endeavoured to restrain her feelings in the presence
of May to avoid wounding her: for the same reason she appeared to be
more cheerful than she really felt when talking to Adam, who, accustomed
all his life to the dangers of the sea, did not allow himself to be
influenced by the reports he heard, and declared that Jacob was just as
likely to come back again safe and sound as ever.

Still it was generally believed among the Hurlston people that
Lieutenant Castleton and Jacob Halliburt had been lost at sea, and
sometimes it was reported that the _Thisbe_ herself had gone down with
her gallant commander, Captain Headland, and all hands.



CHAPTER FORTY SIX.

A FRENCH PROFESSOR.

Miles Gaffin had long been absent from Hurlston, though he still
retained possession of the mill, which was kept going under charge of
Dusty Dick.  The lugger, however, had not again made her appearance, and
it was supposed by some that she had been lost, but others asserted, and
among them Adam Halliburt, that during the war time she had plenty to do
in procuring information from France, as well as in carrying it to that
country from England, for Jacob had told his father of the papers Gaffin
had shown him, and Adam saw no reason why he should keep the matter
secret.  If such had been Gaffin's occupation, it for some reason or
other came to an end; probably both parties found that he could not be
trusted, and he, to avoid being hung or shot as a spy, thought it wise
to abandon it, and to betake himself once more to smuggling.

He again appeared one morning at his mill.  No one knew whether he had
arrived by land or by water.  It might have been supposed from his
manner, when some grist was brought to be ground, that he had never been
absent.

"He will soon be at his old tricks again," observed Adam, when he heard
of his arrival.  "He has come here for no good."

The observation was repeated by the dame to Mr Groocock.

"I will tell you what it is, he won't be here long at all events.  His
lease is up in a few months, and though the law won't let us turn him
out, it cannot compel us to keep him there longer than we like,"
observed the steward.  "He will cease at Michaelmas to be the tenant of
Hurlston Mill, and if we cannot get a more honest man to take it, it
will certainly be hard to find a greater rogue.  I have never been quite
satisfied in my mind that he had not something to do with the attack on
Mr Harry."

Gaffin soon made himself acquainted with all that had been going on in
the neighbourhood.  Harry's supposed death which he heard as an
undoubted fact, gave him great satisfaction.

"As there is no longer a rival in the case, my son may now have a better
chance than formerly," he said to himself.  "I will write and get the
fellow back; girls don't wear the willow all their lives, and though she
may mope and sigh for a time, she will be ready enough to take a
presentable young fellow when he offers himself."

Miles had been left in France, where he was among those who had been
detained when the war broke out.  His father, however, knew that he
should have no difficulty in getting him back.  Meantime, he found him
useful in obtaining and transmitting information, though the young man
ran no small risk.  He had, in the meantime, in his own opinion, become
a polished gentleman, with all the graces and airs of a Frenchman.

Gaffin accordingly wrote for his son to return, though a considerable
time elapsed before he was able to get on board the lugger which had put
in to receive him.  At last, he one morning made his appearance at the
mill.  The lugger had not come empty, her cargo having been landed
during the night, and stowed away in the vaults.  It was not long before
Gaffin found an opportunity for re-opening his favourite project.  It
was evident that he had private information relating to May, but of what
nature even his son dared not ask, although his curiosity was more
excited than his enterprise.  Gaffin now spoke with the more vehemence,
having been so long frustrated in his purpose, and he hinted that
nothing must now be allowed to stand in his way.  Young Miles was
startled by his violent language, and felt the courage oozing out at his
palms.  He declared that he did not want to run the chance of putting
his head in a noose for any girl alive, whatever her fortune, but his
father's taunts, as well as the glowing pictures which he drew,
stimulated him to make another venture.  The plan arranged by the
smuggler and his son need not be described.

Young Miles appeared so completely changed in appearance and manners
that there was little risk of his being recognised by the inhabitants of
Hurlston.

The day after his interview with his father, a post-chaise which had
come from the neighbouring town, drove up to the Texford Arms.  A
Frenchman descended from it.  He stated that he was a Royalist who had
been some little time in the country, and that he wished to take
lodgings in the village, his object being to give instruction in French
to the families in the neighbourhood.  He was told that there were no
lodgings, but that he could be accommodated at the inn.  Saying that he
wished to be quiet, he persisted in searching for them, and after many
enquiries he found that Mrs Brown, whose son sailed as mate of the
_Nancy_, could take him in.  She had a neat little room looking out on
the sea, with which he was perfectly satisfied, and at once had his
portmanteau removed to it.  His name he told her was Jules Malin.  She
was afraid he would not like her English cooking, but he assured her
that he should be perfectly contented with anything she could provide,
for that in making his escape from France he had been inured to so many
hardships, he found himself in a perfect paradise in her quiet cottage.

He seemed somewhat disappointed on hearing that there were but few
families in the neighbourhood likely to take advantage of his
instruction.  Some of the better class of farmers might wish their
daughters to learn French.  There was also, Mrs Brown said, a young
lady at Downside who might be willing to take lessons, and possibly Miss
Castleton, at Texford, might also become a pupil, although, having had a
French governess she probably understood the language.

Monsieur Malin set out at once with a packet of cards and called on
several of the farmers.  His terms were very moderate, and they were
glad of the opportunity of having their daughters instructed in French.
Miss Castleton, at Texford, after speaking a short time to him, asked
him whether he was not a German, and on his assuring her that he was
not, she informed him that as she did not admire either his
pronunciation or idiom, she could not recommend him as a master.

Not in anyway abashed, he made a low bow, and shortly afterwards
appeared at Downside.  Miss Jane received him very politely, and begging
him to be seated in the dining-room, said she would take counsel with
her sister on the subject.

"As May has never had the opportunity of speaking to French people,
although she, I doubt not, understands French thoroughly, it will be a
pity not to give her the advantage of receiving instruction," she
observed to Miss Mary.

May was grateful to her friends for their kind intentions, and was
perfectly ready to take lessons.  The young Frenchman seemed highly
pleased, and was ready to begin at once.

Miss Jane was present.  He behaved with great respect, though May was
somewhat astonished the way he set about giving instruction, for he
seemed to understand nothing about grammar, and she suspected that his
pronunciation was far from correct.

"He may nevertheless be of assistance to you," said Miss Jane, after he
had gone, "and as I promised to let him come to-morrow, we will see how
he then gets on."

And so it came about that the audacious Miles again found himself in the
presence of innocent May.  He was so elated by the success of his first
lesson that he could with difficulty maintain his assumed character, and
more than once he inadvertently dropped the French accent and addressed
his pupil in English.  May's suspicions were gradually aroused, and as
he grew more familiar in tone she attentively examined his countenance.
Suddenly recognition seemed to flash upon her, and rising quickly she
darted out of the room.

"I have been and made a mess of it again," he muttered to himself,
"still I will try and calm the old lady if she says anything, and set
matters to rights."

Miss Jane was not so easily deceived.  May told her her suspicions.  She
entered with a stern brow, and the sum she had promised to pay for the
lessons in her hand.

"I do not enquire who you are, but I have to inform you that the young
lady does not wish to receive further lessons, nor do we desire again to
see you here," she said, giving the money.

The pretended French master endeavoured to expostulate, but Miss Jane
only pointed significantly to the door.

At last, finding that he was not listened to, he took his hat with an
ill grace which further betrayed him, and hurried out of the house.

The next day he called intending to apologise, but Miss Jane refused to
admit him.

"But will not Miss Halliburt see me just for one minute?" he asked,
offering Susan half-a-guinea.  "They don't pay you very high wages here,
I guess."

"Take yourself off, Master Gaffin, and your money too," exclaimed Susan,
indignantly, putting her hands behind her back.  "Do you fancy we don't
know you with all your pretended French airs and gibberish.  Let me
advise you not to show your face inside those gates again."

Miles sneaked off without attempting to reply.  Recovering his audacity
on his return to his lodgings he for several days made attempts to see
May, who, fearing to meet him out-of-doors, was kept a prisoner within
the grounds.

Miles, foiled in his plan, determined to consult his father, but, not
wishing to be seen near the mill in daylight, he took a stroll on the
Downs, intending to make his way there at dusk.

He had gone some distance, when suddenly the tall figure of Mad Sal,
rising as it seemed out of the earth, stood before him.  He started back
and would have hurried away, recollecting her appearance when he had
assisted in the outrage on Jacob Halliburt.

Though others might not have recognised him, she, it was evident, did
so, from the way she addressed him.

"What have you done with the hapless lad I saw you bear away over the
salt sea, salt sea?" she exclaimed.  "I have waited long, but in vain,
for his return.  Have you sent him wandering far from home and country,
or is he fathoms deep beneath the salt sea, salt sea?"

"I don't know of whom you speak, old dame," answered Miles, mustering up
his courage.  "I am a stranger here, and know none of the people.  You
mistake me for some one else."

"I take you for the son of the miller of Hurlston," she exclaimed,
laughing loudly.  "Go and tell him that I have watched his doings.  I
know his goings out and his comings in, and ere long the ministers of
justice will track him down, and consign him to the fate he so richly
merits."

"What have I to do with the miller of Hurlston?  He would be a bold man
who would speak to him in that way," answered Miles, trembling with
fear.

"It's false, it's false," shouted the old woman.  "You are even now on
your way to him.  I saw you leave his door not many nights ago, when you
thought no one was near.  Go, tell him to beware of the fate which will
ere long overtake him.  Go, I say, go," and she waved her staff wildly
round, compelling Miles to retreat before her.  He, at last, having
nothing with which to defend himself, and not daring to seize the staff
whirled about his head, turned round and fled across the heath followed
by the shouts and shrieks of the unhappy creature who seemed to triumph
in his discomfiture.  He did not stop till he got out of her sight, when
sitting down to rest, he tried to recover himself before venturing to
enter the mill.

Miles Gaffin listened to his son's account with a contemptuous sneer on
his lips.  Another subject was at that moment occupying his thoughts.
He had just received notice from Sir Ralph's steward to quit the mill
the day his lease expired.

"It is old Groocock's doing," he told his son.  "Sir Ralph takes no
charge of such matters, though I should expect no favour from his hands.
We are old foes, and though he does not know me, I know him.  I would
be revenged on him, and I would burn Texford over his head without
compunction, had I not good reason for preserving the place.  Had you
succeeded with Maiden May as she is called, the way would have been
smoother.  Fool as you are, you can keep counsel.  Now listen.  The
_Lively_ will be here again ere long with all her old crew, and a few
other bold fellows we have picked up of late.  We will make sharp work
of it--first embark all the goods stored here, then with a strong hand
push on to Texford, take my revenge on Sir Ralph and his chattering old
steward, then set fire to the mill, and get on board the lugger before
half-a-dozen men can collect to oppose us.  I think I may trust you
meantime with another piece of work.  You shall have half-a-dozen
fellows, and you can surround Downside, and may bring on board either of
the ladies you like.  As the girl is supposed to be hard-hearted, you
may secure one of the old ones; I leave that to you."

"Trust me for the one I'll lay my hands on," answered Miles.  "If you
will give me the men, you may depend that I will not let her slip this
time."

"Well, I think you have got sense enough to do that, and the _Lively_
will not be here many hours before our plan has been carried out, and we
are away from Hurlston."



CHAPTER FORTY SEVEN.

A WARNING VOICE.

Poor Maiden May, as her loving friends still delighted to call her,
waited day after day, anxious at not receiving a contradiction of the
report of Harry's loss.  True it is that "hope deferred maketh the
heart-sick;" her cheeks lost their bloom, her step its elastic tread;
still she performed her wonted duties, her voice was as melodious as
ever when she read to Miss Mary, and she endeavoured, as she led her
about, to speak with cheerfulness, and to describe, as she used to do
when a young girl, the progress of the vegetation in the garden, the
fresh flowers blooming, and the birds and insects as they flitted about
among the trees and bushes.  How eagerly she looked out for the arrival
of the postman at his accustomed hour of passing the house, and her
heart sank with disappointment as day after day he went by with no
letter for Downside.

Julia, too, surrounded by the luxuries of Texford, was not less to be
pitied than May.  She, too, was waiting in expectation of receiving a
letter, and no letter came.  Sir Ralph was angry at her objecting to
come up to London, and he informed her that he intended inviting several
gentlemen of fortune and position to the Hall, adding, "now understand,
Julia, should you receive an offer of which I approve, I must insist on
your accepting it.  I am resolved never to sanction your marriage with
the man who so presumptuously aspired to your hand, and as I shall take
care to convince him of this, he will abandon any hopes he may have
entertained.  As, in consequence of the death of your poor brother, the
baronetcy will cease to exist, I am doubly anxious to see Texford
possessed by a man of family, who will take our name, and be able, from
his wealth, to obtain the title."

Still Julia did not despair.  She felt that no one was more worthy to
become the possessor of Texford than Headland, or was more likely, from
his merits, to win the title her father wished his son-in-law to obtain.

One morning May saw the postman approaching to put a letter into her
hand; it bore only an English postmark, and was addressed to Miss
Pemberton.  It was from Mr Shallard.  He hoped to have the honour of
calling on the ladies the following day on a matter of business
connected with their ward, as he might venture to call her.  They
wondered, naturally, what he could have to communicate; it could
scarcely be that he had made any discovery regarding her birth, he would
have said so had such been the case.

May tried to overcome any curiosity she might have felt, indeed one
subject only could interest her.  Was he likely to bring her tidings of
Harry?

He came at the appointed hour.

"I fear that the matter which has brought me here must prove painful to
that young lady," and he bowed to May, "and, at the same time, to those
who have her interest at heart, it cannot fail, in other respects, to be
gratifying.  Before Lieutenant Castleton went abroad he executed a will,
in which he left the whole of his property in trust to you two ladies
and myself for the benefit of that young lady, whom I have been very
careful to designate in a way which may preclude any mistake, though
from the rough notes he drew up, I found that he was under the idea that
she was the daughter of Adam and Betsy Halliburt.  As Sir Ralph is
convinced of the death of his son, I have proved the will, and as the
money is invested in the Funds, your signatures only are required to
obtain the dividends, when the amount, which I calculate to be about 500
a year, including that arising from the Texford property, will be paid
over."

"Oh, he is not dead, I cannot receive it," cried May, in a tone of grief
which went to her hearers' hearts, as, hiding her face in her hands, she
sank back in her chair, and would have fallen, had not Miss Jane and the
lawyer sprung to her assistance.

"I deeply grieve to have wounded your feelings," said Mr Shallard.

"Oh, do not tell me he is dead, do not," cried May again.

"My dear young lady, had not his father been convinced of the fact, I
should not have ventured to interfere in the matter.  He, I trust, may
have received wrong information, and I hope Lieutenant Castleton may
really be alive, and that he may bestow his fortune on you in a far more
satisfactory manner.  I have only taken a precautionary step in case the
will should be disputed."

The lawyer knew enough of the female heart to be aware that his remarks
were more likely to be beneficial to the interesting young girl than any
expressions of condolence he could have uttered.

May looked up with a smile of hope.

"Yes, he will come back, I am sure he will.  No one saw the ship go
down."

The lawyer, however, induced Miss Jane to accompany him to the
dining-room, and to sign the necessary papers, observing--

"I trust the young gentleman may appear, but it is always right in these
cases to be on the safe side.  If he reappears, I am sure he will be
much obliged to us for acting as he would have wished had he been lost."

Miss Jane took the opportunity of mentioning to Mr Shallard the arrival
of young Miles Gaffin in disguise at Hurlston.  The lawyer listened to
all she said.

"I will have the gentleman looked after," he answered.  "Information has
been laid against the father, and he, in all probability, will be
implicated.  If it can be proved that he assisted in carrying off young
Halliburt, we can lay hands on him at once.  If his father gets an
intimation of our intentions, we shall require a strong force, as he has
a number of desperate fellows at his back, and would certainly protect
his son, and endeavour to rescue him."

"But if so, do you think that we here are safe from his atrocious
designs.  It never occurred to me before," said Miss Jane, in some
trepidation, as the idea entered her mind, "that he may possibly make
some rash attempt upon this house.  It is not easy to fathom his
motives, but there must be something behind which we do not yet
understand."

"I cannot say that I think you are quite safe," observed the lawyer.
"If I have your authority for stating that you dread an attack from the
smugglers, I will apply for a body of revenue officers to be sent to
Hurlston, and as we have a body of sea-fencibles at Morbury, I will get
my friend, Captain Shirley, to send over a few to support them.  A
ruffian, such as this Gaffin undoubtedly is, must no longer be allowed
to continue his career if the law can lay hands on him."

The arrangement Mr Shallard proposed greatly relieved Miss Jane's mind.
She had not mentioned her fears either to her sister or to May, and
probably they weighed more on her mind on that account.

Mr Groocock had, in the meantime, received authority from Sir Ralph to
use force in expelling Miles Gaffin from the mill should he refuse to
give it up, and the steward had taken steps effectually to execute his
orders.  He also had applied for the assistance of the military to carry
them out.

The day was approaching when Gaffin's lease of the mill would terminate.

Mr Groocock thought he had kept his arrangements secret, or he would
scarcely have ventured to ride about the country by himself.

Gaffin was now constantly at the mill, and the steward knowing the man's
desperate character, might justly have feared that he would revenge
himself on his head.  He was one evening returning home later than usual
on his steady cob, when passing through a copse not far from the Texford
gate, his horse pricked up its ears, and moved to the other side of the
road, as if wishing to avoid an object it had discovered.  Never since
he bestrode it had it been guilty of shying.

"What is the matter, old steady?" he said, patting his steed's neck.

Suddenly the question was answered by the appearance of mad Sal's tall
figure emerging from the copse.

"Old man," she said, "I come to warn you that danger threatens your
life.  You are kind and generous to those in distress.  You have cared
for and pitied me while others mocked and scorned me, and refused the
bread I asked.  He who has turned me from his doors with curses and
scorn when I asked a crust at his hands, is plotting the destruction of
you and those you serve.  He thinks that he has been unobserved, but I
have dodged his footsteps when he knew not I was near.  I have been
within the walls of his abode when, had he discovered my presence, he
would have strangled me without compunction.  I tell you this, lest you
think the poor mad creature, as people call her, is talking folly; but I
charge you, as you value your own life, and the honour and the liberty
of those you serve, to let the officers of justice lay hands on him
before he has done the mischief he contemplates.  I leave your master to
his doom.  From me he deserves no favour, but for his hapless wife and
daughter I feel as woman feels for woman, as they, too, have lost him
they love in the cruel salt sea, salt sea.  Be warned, old man, be
warned."

Before even the steward could speak mad Sal had retreated within the
shelter of the copse.  He had, as she acknowledged, compassionated her
forlorn condition, assisted her with food and money; indeed, through his
means, and that of other charitable people in the neighbourhood, she had
been enabled to exist.  He was, therefore, convinced that she had not
warned him without cause, though he wished that she had given him more
exact information on which to proceed.

He hurried home determined to communicate with Mr Shallard the next
morning, and to obtain a sufficient guard at once for Texford, in case
Gaffin should really venture to attack it.

Each morning May rose with the hopes that a letter would come from
Harry, and not till the postman had passed did her fond heart grow sick
again with hope deferred.

The usual hour of his coming had arrived, and as she heard his step on
the gravel walk she hastened out to meet him.  He held a letter in his
hand.  It was directed to Miss Pemberton.  She gazed at the handwriting.

"Yes, yes it is from him, he is alive," she exclaimed, with an
hysterical cry as she sprang up the steps, and flew into the
drawing-room.

Fortunately Miss Jane made her appearance with the required sum to pay
the postman.

"Read, read," cried May, standing trembling in every limb as she gave
the letter to Miss Jane, who, tearing it open, handed one to her,
directed "to my beloved Maiden May."  Her eyes swimming with tears of
joy, she could with difficulty decipher the words.  Yet she saw that
Harry was alive and well, and in England.

"He would be at Downside the next day, or in two days at furthest.  He
had met with many adventures.  He knew that she must have been anxious
at his not writing, but it had been impossible.  He had been wrecked,
and lived long on a desert island, and finally made his escape on board
a slow sailing merchantman, which, after running many risks of capture,
had safely reached England.  What he considered the best news he had to
communicate was the discovery not only of the person who would serve as
the missing link by which his friend, Captain Headland, hoped to trace
his father; but of that father himself, who was thoroughly prepared to
acknowledge his friend as his long lost son.  There is some mystery
about him," he added, "but he is so evidently a man of refinement and
education, that I am sure there is nothing of which my friend will have
cause to be ashamed; I suspect, indeed, that he is a man of title, or
the heir to a title, which he, perhaps, may have reason to think will be
disputed.  I am delighted, too, to find that the _Thisbe_ has been
ordered home, and her arrival is every day looked for, so that I hope
Headland's long cherished wish will be accomplished, and he will find
that he belongs to a family to which even my father cannot object.  And
I trust, too, dearest, that this happy event will soften my father's
heart, and that he will no longer object to our union."

Much more Harry said to the same effect.  May, indeed, had full reason
to believe that he loved her as devotedly as ever.



CHAPTER FORTY EIGHT.

SAVED FROM THE WRECK.

We must return to Harry and Jacob on board the prize.  The young
lieutenant well knew the dangerous position in which the ship, now under
his command, was placed.  All that he could then do was to keep her
before the wind, and to try and take in the remainder of the canvas.
Few of the Frenchmen seemed inclined to exert themselves, appearing
utterly indifferent to their fate.  Harry urged the French officer to
induce his men to work, for their own sakes as well as his; but he
shrugged his shoulders, and declared that he had lost all command over
them.

On the ship flew, the hurricane every instant increasing in fury.  The
topgallant-masts were quickly carried away, and the canvas which had not
been taken in was soon flying in shreds, which lashed themselves round
and round the yards.

To clear away the wreck of the masts was no small danger.  Jacob and two
of his companions going aloft accomplished the task.  A few of the
French crew were shamed into assisting them.

The ship required all his energies and attention, and he had scarcely
time to look round to see what had become of the _Thisbe_.  When he did
so, he could only just see her dimly far away astern.  He knew, however,
that if possible Headland would follow and endeavour to lend him the
assistance he might require.

Harry now found that the prize was the _Culloden_, an English ship
homeward-bound, which had been captured by a French privateer, and was
on her way to the Mauritius.  Her officers, with most of the English
crew, had been removed on board the privateer.

There was no time, however, at present to visit the passengers who had
been left, as all his attention was required on deck.  He had at first
hoped that the threatened gale would prove of an ordinary character, but
it was soon evident that it was to prove a hurricane.  Every moment it
increased in fury, while the sea got up its white-crested billows,
hissing and roaring on either side as the ship clove her way through
them.

He had had no time to disarm the French crew, and he could not help
fearing that they would rise on him, and retake the ship.  As long,
however, as the _Thisbe_ was in sight they would not make the attempt.

Fortunately there were several Lascars who had before belonged to the
ship, and they were more likely to side with him than with the French.
The knowledge of this probably kept the latter in order.

Harry's difficulties were increased by discovering that the _Thisbe_ was
no longer in sight.  To bring the ship to the wind, and wait for her was
impossible.  His only chance of safety consisted in running before it.

The French officer was a young sub-lieutenant, evidently not much of a
seaman.  Harry pointed out the danger in which the ship was placed, and
demanded his word not to attempt to retake her.

"If you give it I will trust you, and you shall be at liberty, but if
not, I must be under the necessity of placing you in confinement," he
added.

The Frenchman shrugged his shoulders and replied, "that he would comply
with the English officer's request, though he could not be answerable
for his men."

"I will look after them," said Harry, and, calling Jacob, told him to
keep an eye on the French crew.

He sent for the Lascar boatswain, and obtained his assurance that he and
his men would remain faithful to the English.  This gave him rather more
confidence.

The cabin-steward, who was among the English prisoners, came to announce
that dinner was ready.  Leaving two of his best men at the helm, and
inviting the French officer to accompany him, Harry hurried into the
cuddy to snatch a few mouthfuls of food.

The passengers, who were all civilians, crowded round him eagerly asking
questions.  They had kept below, afraid of the risk on deck from the
spars or blocks falling from aloft.  They expressed their satisfaction
at the recapture of the ship, not appearing to be aware of the danger
she was in.  Harry, taking them aside, told them that he must depend
upon their assistance should the French crew attempt to retake the ship.

"Very little chance of that," was the answer.

"It is as well to be cautious, however," he observed.

He was told that there was another passenger ill in his cabin, out of
which he had not made his appearance for several days.  Harry, however,
unwilling to remain longer than was absolutely necessary from the deck,
could not then visit him.

The _Culloden_ drove before the hurricane which now blew from one
quarter, now from another.  Harry had no one on whom he could depend for
keeping a correct reckoning.  The binnacle had been knocked away, and
the other compasses on board were out of order.  It was impossible to
ascertain in what direction the ship was driving.  The _Thisbe_ was
nowhere to be seen.  A leak was sprung, the pumps were manned, but the
water gained on them.  The French crew threatened to mutiny, and were
with difficulty prevented from breaking into the spirit-room.  By the
strictest vigilance were they alone kept in order.  The Lascars,
however, who had belonged to the ship, remained faithful, and readily
obeyed Harry's commands.  Day after day went by, the hurricane rather
increased than lessened.  The masts went by the board, and the
_Culloden_ remained a helpless wreck on the stormy ocean.  The sea
through which she was driving was but little known, but numberless
dangers, many of them as uncertain, were marked in the chart.  In spite
of his anxieties, however, Harry kept up his spirits.  He could venture
to take but brief intervals of rest, but he could rely on Jacob who took
his place when he was below.  By great exertions a jury-mast was secured
to the stump of the foremast, and a sail was set which kept the ship
before the wind, and prevented her from being pooped.  Still, should
danger appear ahead, it would be insufficient to enable her to avoid it.
Several days had passed, the gale had decreased, but the ship was still
running on before it.  The night was very dark, Harry was on deck.  He
hoped on the return of daylight to get an after jury-mast rigged, and to
heave the ship too.  All hands were at the pumps.  By keeping them going
alone, they well knew, could the ship be prevented from foundering.
Suddenly there came a cry from forward of "Breakers ahead."  It was
followed by a terrific crashing, rending sound.  The next sea lifted the
ship to strike with greater force.  Several of the passengers who rushed
from the cabin, and many of the terrified crew, were carried away by the
following sea which swept with resistless force over the deck.  Harry
and Jacob, with the rest of the Englishmen, clung to the stauncheons and
bulwarks, and escaped.  The ship still drove on till she became firmly
fixed in the rocks.  Land could dimly be discerned over the starboard
quarter at no great distance, but a foaming mass of water intervened.
Some of the Frenchmen and Lascars on discovering it began to lower a
boat.  Harry in vain ordered them to desist.  Before she had got a dozen
yards from the ship, the boat and all in her were engulphed.  No other
boat remained.  Still Harry hoped from the way the ship remained fixed
that she would hold together should the sea go down, and that in the
morning he might be able to establish a communication with the shore.

Finding that nothing more could be done on deck, he made his way to the
cuddy to offer such consolation as he could to the passengers.

They thanked him for his exertions, aware that it was from no fault of
his the ship had been wrecked.

He went to the cabin of the invalid gentleman.  The occupant was sitting
up dressed.

"What, wrecked again!" he exclaimed, as Harry appeared.  "Is the death I
have so often escaped about to overtake me at last?"

"I hope not," answered Harry, and he expressed his expectation of being
able to reach the shore in the morning.

"I ought to be grateful to you, sir, and will endeavour to feel so,"
said the invalid.  "But bereavements and numberless misfortunes have
made me indifferent to life."

On his return on deck, hoping that the island might be inhabited, Harry
ordered a gun to be fired, and blue lights to be burned.  As the latter
blazed up they cast a lurid glare over the ship and the wild rocky
shore, tinging the sheets of spray which still flew over the deck,
though the wind had gone down and the sea had much subsided.  For a
considerable time no answer was returned to these signals.  At length a
light was seen, and presently a fire blazed up on a spot directly
opposite the ship.  Still it seemed impossible to carry a rope across
the seething cauldron which intervened.  Jacob volunteered to make the
attempt.  Harry, though unwilling to let him risk his life could not
refuse his offer.

The fire threw sufficient light on the rocks to enable him to see his
way.  Fastening a line round his body he lowered himself down and made
for the nearest rock.  Now the sea appeared to be carrying him away, now
he bravely breasted it, till at length the rock was gained.  Next
instant a sea washed over it, but he clung fast, and as soon as it had
passed, he sprang forward and reached the next.  Sometimes he was hidden
altogether from sight, then again the glare of the blue light showed him
still either tightly clinging to a rock, or making his way onwards.

He at length had passed the most dangerous portion.  Three men had at
first only been seen near the fire, a fourth now appeared, it was Jacob.
A loud cheer showed him that his shipmates were aware of his success.

A hawser with another smaller line was then made fast to it, and taxing
to the utmost the strength of the four men, hauled at length on shore.

A cradle was next rapidly constructed and fitted with ropes for hauling
it backwards and forwards along the hawser.  The desired means for
conveying all on shore was obtained.

This task had occupied a considerable time, and the rising wind and
increased violence of the sea made all on board anxious to gain the
shore.

Harry's men wished him to go first.

"No, my lads," he answered firmly.  "I will see all in safety before I
leave the ship."

The passengers and the greater number of the crew had reached the shore
in safety, when Harry recollected that the invalid passenger had not
made his appearance.

Having ordered the two men who remained, to secure a large block, and to
reeve a rope through it, by which means, when on shore, they could still
communicate with the wreck, he hurried into the cabin, where he found
the gentleman seated at the table, with a book in his hand, endeavouring
to read by the light of the cuddy lamp.

"I was waiting till I was summoned," he said calmly.  "Trusting to your
assurance, that there was no danger, I was unwilling to expose myself to
the wetting spray longer than was necessary."

"I was mistaken, there is no time to be lost," exclaimed Harry.  "I must
beg you to come without delay," he exclaimed.  "At any moment this part
of the ship may break up, as the bows have already begun to do."

The gentleman leaning on Harry's arm, proceeded with him on deck.  Even
in those few minutes the danger had increased.  Only one man remained.

As Harry with his charge reached the side, he was surprised to hear
Jacob's voice.

"I came back by the last trip, to lend you a hand, sir," he said.  "If
you will take charge of the gentleman, I will wait on board till you are
safe on shore; he cannot go by himself, that's certain."

There was no time for expostulating, Harry, therefore, securing the
gentleman in the cradle, placed himself by his side, and those on shore
began hauling away on the line.

Scarcely had he left the wreck, than a heavy sea washed over it.  He
still, however, could distinguish Jacob clinging to the bulwarks.

The cradle seemed now to taughten, now to be lowered so much, that he
and his charge were nearly submerged by the foaming water.  He dreaded
every moment that the wreck would part, and his faithful follower be
washed away.

At length the rock was reached, and his companion was lifted out of the
cradle.  The cradle was quickly run back to the wreck.  The darkness
prevented them seeing whether Jacob was still there.  A minute of
intense anxiety elapsed.  At length a tug at the rope was given, the
signal to haul in.  His shipmates gave a loud cheer when Jacob, by the
light of the fire, was seen in the cradle as they dragged it to the
shore.

"All right, Mr Castleton," he exclaimed, "though I did think, as I was
stepping into this basket, that I might have had to take a longer cruise
than I bargained for."

"Castleton," exclaimed the invalid gentleman.  Harry, however, did not
hear him speak, as at that moment the three strangers introduced
themselves.

They had been long living on the island, they said, having been wrecked
some years before, since when no ship had come near the spot.  There was
water and wood in abundance, and fish and birds could be caught.  This
was satisfactory news.

"Well, my friends," said Harry, "the first thing we have to do is to get
up shelter, and in the morning, if the ship holds together, we must try
and obtain provisions.  In the meantime, if you will take the gentleman
I brought on shore, with some of the other passengers, who can least
stand exposure, to your hut, I shall be obliged to you."

"It is some way off, sir," answered the man who had spoken, "but we will
do our best to look after the gentleman."

Though the invalid expressed his readiness to walk, Harry believing that
he was ill able to do so, had a litter constructed with two light spars
and a piece of a sail which had been washed on shore; and Jacob and
three of the other men carried it.  Most of the passengers accompanied
them.

The daylight soon afterwards broke and Harry set the men to work to
collect whatever was washed up by the sea.  He was chiefly anxious to
obtain provisions, the bales of rich silks and other manufactures of the
east were of little value to men in their situation.

The wind had again increased, and sea upon sea dashing with terrific
violence against the wreck, she in a short time broke up, her rich cargo
being scattered far and wide over the waters and cast upon the beach.

A number of casks of provisions, bags of rice and other grain, and a few
cases of wine, some chests of tea and other articles, were however
saved.

The islanders, as the men found on the island may be called, now
returned and advised that the stores should be removed from the bleak
and rocky bay, in which the ship had gone on shore, to the more genial
situation, where they had formed their settlement.

Harry shouldering a heavy load, the men followed his example, and the
stores were soon conveyed to the settlement.

It was a picturesque spot at the head of a valley extending down to the
sea, with a stream of water running through it, descending from a high
hill which rose in the centre of the island.  On one side was a grove of
trees, and on the other where the ground was level, the men had
cultivated a garden of considerable size with a field of Indian corn.

A suitable spot was selected on which the party set to work, to put up
huts formed partly of pieces of the wreck and some sails which had been
washed up; and partly of the branches of trees which were cut down for
the purpose.

Harry had been struck by the superior intelligence and activity of one
of the islanders.  He showed from the first especial skill in erecting
huts and the other men soon learned to follow his directions.  Harry
enquired of Jacob if he had heard anything about the man.

"Not much, sir, except that he is a man of war's man.  His mates call
him Jack and that's all I know, except that he is a right sort of
fellow."

Harry had had as comfortable a hut as could be erected arranged for the
invalid gentleman who had hitherto remained in that of the islanders.
He had also designed a larger hut for the other passengers; he himself
having slept under such temporary covering as the canvas which had been
saved afforded.  He found however on his return from an excursion to the
scene of the wreck that Jacob and Jack had erected another hut.

"You have been only thinking of us sir," said Jacob, "but Jack and I
thought of how you ought to have a house to yourself, so we took the
liberty of putting it up, and we hope you will find it comfortable.  The
Lascars and Frenchmen have been building others for themselves, and as
soon as we have finished this we are going to turn to and get one up for
ourselves, and then we shall all have palaces like kings."

With the aid of some mattresses and the bales of cotton and silk which
had been saved sufficiently comfortable bedding was arranged for the
invalid gentleman as well as for the other passengers.  He seemed
grateful, and appeared mostly to mourn the loss of his books.

At length the first arrangements for their residence on the island were
completed.  A flagstaff was put up on a neighbouring height, and an
English flag was hoisted as a signal to passing vessels.

Harry had now to consider the means for obtaining food for the
settlement and for giving occupation to the inhabitants.



CHAPTER FORTY NINE.

SAILOR JACK.

Harry had gone to his hut after the labours of the day were over,--and
was about to lie down and rest when Jacob appeared at the entrance.

"Beg pardon, sir," he said, "may I speak a few words with you."

"Yes," answered Harry, "what are they about?"

"Why, sir, I have been having a talk with Jack, and he has been asking
me questions which I can't answer, but which I've a notion you can; and
if you'll let him he'd like to see you, sir."

"What is it about, Jacob?" asked Harry.

"Why, sir, he was telling me how he was serving on board a man-of-war,
how the boat he belonged to was cut off by the savages and every soul on
board killed except himself; and how after he had been for several years
made to work like a slave he escaped and got on board a Dutch
merchantman.  He was working his passage home in her when she was cast
away on this island, and only he and two other Englishmen were saved.
But that's not what I was coming to.  When I happened to be talking of
Captain Headland he seemed wonderfully interested.  `Why Jacob,' he
said, `that's my name.'  I then told him that he and you, sir, were old
shipmates, and that you knew much more about him than I did, sir.  Jack
asked me if I would come and speak to you, for he is just like a man out
of his mind, he is so eager to know who the captain is."

"Tell him I shall be glad to speak to him at once," said Harry, much
interested in what he had heard, and Jacob hurried off to call Jack.

Jack soon reached the hut, showing his man-of-war's-man manners by
doffing his hat and pulling one of his long locks.  His countenance,
though burned and bronzed almost to blackness, and somewhat frizzled by
age and exposure, wore the same honest, kind expression which Headland
had described.

"Sit down, my friend," said Harry, giving him one of a couple of stools
he had manufactured.  "Halliburt has been telling me that you wish to
hear about Captain Headland."

"Ay, that I do, sir, and if you knew how my heart is set on him, for I
am sure it must be him, you would not wonder that I make bold to axe
you.  I never had a son, but if I had, I could not love him better than
I did that lad, whom I watched over ever since he was a small child just
able to toddle about the decks by himself.  I took charge of him when
there was no one else to see that he did not come to harm, and I may
say, though there is nothing to boast of in it, I saved his life more
than once when he would have been drowned or burned to death, or carried
away by the savages.  It was a proud day when I saw him placed on the
quarter-deck with a fair chance of becoming an admiral, as I am very
sure he will be, and there was nothing so much went to my heart when I
was made a prisoner by the rascally Malays as the thought that I could
no longer have an eye on him, and maybe help him a bit with my cutlass
in boarding an enemy or in such like work.  And then, when I at last got
away from the Malays and was coming home to hear about him again, as I
hoped, it was just the bitterest thing that could have happened to me to
find myself wrecked on this desolate island without the chance that I
could see of getting off again.  And then, after all, to have some of
his ship's company and his greatest friend, as Jacob tells me you are,
sir, cast ashore here to tell me about him, almost surpasses my belief
and makes my heart jump into my mouth for joy."

"I will not ask if you are Jack Headland of whom my friend has spoken,
and for whose faithful care he has expressed the warmest gratitude, for
I am very sure you must be," exclaimed Harry.  "He has told me all the
circumstances you have described and nothing will give him greater
satisfaction than to find that you are alive and well.  He is more than
ever anxious to discover his parents, and you are the only person alive
that he knows of who is able to help him to do so."

Harry then gave a brief account of Captain Headland's career from the
time since his faithful friend had been parted from him.

"Thank you, sir, for telling me all this," exclaimed Jack.  "I have
often and often puzzled my head to call to mind the name of the craft
aboard which I first saw him, and the place she sailed from; do you see,
sir, I had no learning and was a thoughtless lad at the time, and I
never asked questions about the place we had come to, and all I remember
is that the name of the craft seemed pretty nigh to break the jaws of
all who attempted to speak it.  Still, where there's a will there's a
way, maybe somehow or other it will come back to me."

"At all events I am sure you will do your best if we can manage to get
away from this place; and Captain Headland will certainly not leave
these seas without looking for us," answered Harry.

The conversation was so interesting that it was not till a late hour
that Jack returned to his hut in which Jacob had been invited to take up
his quarters.  The two warm-hearted sailors had so many qualities in
common that they had been especially drawn to each other, though they
probably were not aware of the cause.  Utter freedom from selfishness
was the chief characteristic of them both.  No sooner had Jacob
Halliburt discovered Harry's love for May than he was ready to sacrifice
even his own life if it were necessary for May's sake, to preserve that
of his lieutenant, without a thought about the destruction of his own
vain hopes, while honest Jack's whole soul was wrapped up in the boy he
had preserved from so many dangers.

The invalid gentleman had recognised Jacob as the seaman who had
returned on board the wreck, and had assisted in his escape by placing
him in the cradle.  Jacob had since then been attending to him and
looked in every now and then to enquire if he wanted anything: he had
besides helped to fit up his hut.  He had not from the first associated
with the rest of the passengers who professed not even to know his name.
Some pronounced him proud and haughty, and others expressed their
opinion that he was not right in his mind; although, except that he had
kept himself aloof from them, he had done nothing which would warrant
such an assertion.

Jacob was attending on him the first day he had occupied his hut.

"Is there anything more I can do for you, sir?" asked Jacob, who had
brought him his share of the evening meal cooked at the general fire,
for Harry had established a system by which all shared alike.

"Thank you, my man, there is nothing more I require; but as your
appetite is probably better than mine, if you will wait a few minutes
you can carry off some of my rations," answered the gentleman, looking
at the mess with the eye of an invalid, as if it was not especially to
his taste, "I fear I have no other means of repaying you for the trouble
you are taking on my account."



CHAPTER FIFTY.

MR HASTINGS.

Jacob had from the first constituted himself the attendant of the
invalid gentleman, and daily brought him his food from the common stock.

"By-the-bye, my man," he said, looking up at Jacob, "I heard your
officer spoken of as Lieutenant Castleton, do you know to what
Castletons he belongs?"

"I don't know exactly what you mean, sir, but I know that his father is
Sir Ralph Castleton of Texford, because I come from Hurlston, which is
hard by there; and mother lived in the family of Mr Herbert Castleton
near Morbury, so you see, sir, I know all about the family."

"Ah, that is remarkable," observed the gentleman, as if to himself.
"Has Sir Ralph Castleton been long at Texford?" he asked.

"Let me see, it's about a matter of three or four years since he came
there, when his uncle Sir Reginald Castleton died.  There was an elder
brother, I have heard mother say, Mr Ranald Castleton, who was lost at
sea, so Mr Ralph became to be Sir Ralph and got the estate."

"Has Sir Ralph many children?" enquired the gentleman, who appeared much
interested in Jacob's account.

"Yes, sir; besides Mr Harry there is his eldest son Mr Algernon, and
their sister Miss Julia, a young lady who, I have heard mother say, is
liked by everyone in those parts."

The gentleman asked whether Lady Castleton was alive, and made many
other enquiries about Texford, and its neighbourhood.

"If you will give me your name, sir, I will let Lieutenant Castleton
know what you have been asking, as he can tell you more about the family
than I can."

The gentleman made no reply and for some minutes appeared lost in
thought.

"Yes," he said at length, "you may inform him that my name is Hastings--
that having once known some members of his family, on hearing his name,
I was curious to learn whether he was related to them, and that I shall
be happy to see him at any time he has leisure to look in on me."

Jacob delivered the message, and next day Harry paid Mr Hastings a
visit.  He found him, as his appearance betokened a man of education and
refinement, but his spirits appeared greatly depressed.  He received
Harry in a friendly way, and soon threw off the formal manners he had at
first exhibited.

Harry, though naturally somewhat curious to know more about him, afraid
of appearing inquisitive did not venture to question him in the way he
might otherwise have done.

"I fear, sir, you feel greatly the misfortune that has happened to us,"
observed Harry, "it must have been a bitter disappointment indeed, when
you had every reason to hope that you would, after we had retaken the
ship, been able to proceed on your voyage to England."

"My young friend, I am inured to misfortunes and disappointments,"
answered Mr Hastings.  "For years past I have been accustomed to them.
I have been deprived of all I held dear in life.  I had resolved long
ago to return to Europe, soon after the last war with France broke out.
I was on my way to England, when the ship in which I had taken my
passage, was captured by the French and carried into an island in the
Indian Ocean, with which no English seaman was acquainted.  Here I with
many others was detained a prisoner.  Some were liberated, every means
being taken to prevent them from becoming acquainted with its position.
I unfortunately was known to have ascertained it from some observation I
had been seen taking, and I was therefore detained till the termination
of the war.  My health gave way and I had given up all hopes of
recovery, when I was taken to Batavia.  Here I remained till long after
the commencement of the present war, but was at length, however, allowed
to sail for Bencoolen.  I was again detained till the arrival of the
_Culloden_, on board which I embarked, and she, as you know, was
captured by a French frigate, and it seems to me that my prospect of
reaching England is as far off as ever."

Harry endeavoured to cheer the unfortunate man, assuring him that he
felt certain Captain Headland would, as soon as he possibly could, come
to look for the _Culloden_, and that he would without fail visit their
island.

"I wish that I possessed your hopefulness, my young friend," answered
Mr Hastings, with a look of melancholy.

Harry after this conversation with Mr Hastings often visited him, and
was always received with a warm welcome.  Instead of having suffered
from the exposure to which he had been subject on the night of the
wreck, he, from that day, appeared to gain strength, and was soon able
to walk about, and to visit different parts of the little island.
Whatever he might have appeared to the passengers he showed no
haughtiness when, as was frequently the case, he entered into
conversation with the men.  He never failed, when he met Jacob, to have
a talk with him, and make more enquiries about Texford and Hurlston.  At
last one day Jacob said:--

"I think, sir, you must know the place."

"You forget, my friend, that you have already told me so much about it,
that I might easily describe it as well as if I had been there," was the
answer.

By Harry's judicious arrangement, good discipline was maintained among
the community over whom he was called to govern, while he induced them
to add to their stock of provisions by fishing and snaring birds, and by
collecting eggs among the cliffs, and shell-fish from the rocks.
Fortunately a cask of hooks had been saved from the Dutch ship, as also
a box of seeds.  The islanders had cultivated a considerable plot of
ground which produced vegetables of all sorts, and this was now much
increased by the new comers.

Every evening after their return from fishing and bird catching, the men
collected round the common fire which had by general consent been
lighted in the middle of the village.  Here they employed themselves in
cooking and eating the fish and birds they had caught.  It soon became
the general meeting place of the whole community.  At first the
passengers had kept aloof, but by degrees they were induced to come and
listen to the seamen's yarns, and to join in the conversation.

Harry and Mr Hastings sometimes came near to the fire and joined in the
conversation, though they more frequently sat at a little distance,
listening to what was going forward, and often not a little amused by
the remarks of their companions.

They were thus seated when the evening meal having been served out, the
men as usual amused each other by narrating their adventures.  Jack was
appealed to, to give his, for he was supposed to have gone through more
than the rest.

"Do you mean, mates, how I got away from the Malays, and was wrecked on
this island?" he asked.

"No, no, Jacob has been telling us that you were wrecked long before
that time, and had to live among savages ever so long," answered one of
the men.  "Can't you begin at the beginning; let us hear all about
yourself since you first came to sea."

Jack at first modestly apologised for talking about himself, but in a
short time Harry heard him giving an account of his early days when he
first found himself on board a ship, knowing no more about the sea than
did one of the sheep of the flock he had been wont to attend.  He went
on exciting the interest of his hearers till he arrived at that part of
his history which he had already given to Harry.

"You see, mates, as I wanted to part from the skipper, and the skipper
wanted to part from me, I was not sorry to ship on board another craft,
little thinking what was about to happen to her.  She had a strange
name, had that craft, so strange that neither I nor any one else, I
should think, could manage to speak it."

Jack then went on to describe how the little boy had been brought on
board, how the mate seemed to have especial dislike to the child, and
then how the vessel was wrecked.

Mr Hastings who had before been lying down, sat up, and bending
forward, listened with the greatest attention to what Jack was saying.

Suddenly he exclaimed in a tone of the deepest interest, rising and
coming up to Jack, "Was the name of the craft you sailed in the
_Bomanjee Horrmarjee_?"

"That was the name, sir," exclaimed Jack, "and if you are not the
gentleman who brought the little boy aboard, you are just like him,
though to be sure as a good many years have passed since then, that
would make the difference."

"I am the person you suppose, and the father of the little boy; and tell
me, my friend, was he saved from the wreck?  Is he still alive?  What
has become of him?"

"This is indeed wonderful," exclaimed Harry, who had accompanied Mr
Hastings.  "I can answer your questions.  Your son has long been my most
intimate friend, and is now my captain.  He commands the _Thisbe_, and I
trust before many weeks are over that the earnest desire of his heart
will be fulfilled, that he will have the happiness of meeting the father
he has so long desired to find.  When I discovered Jack Headland, the
faithful guardian of his early days, I congratulated myself that the
only existing clue, as I supposed, on which my friend could depend for
tracing his parents had been found, though I little thought that it
would be so rapidly followed up.  I can assure you, sir, that you will
have every reason to be proud of your son, for a more noble and gallant
fellow does not exist; and that he is your son I have not the shadow of
a doubt."

Mr Hastings, begging Jack to follow, retired to his hut accompanied by
Harry, that he might learn from the honest seaman fuller particulars of
everything relating to the boy he had brought up.

Jack seemed to rejoice as much as he did, and to be fully convinced that
he was right in his conjectures.  Jack at length retired, leaving the
two gentlemen alone.

"It is, indeed, wonderful, Mr Castleton, that you and my son should
thus have been brought together, and I trust that whatever may occur,
your friendship will continue as warm as ever."

"There is little doubt about that, sir;" answered Harry, "especially as
I hope we shall some day become nearly related, as my friend is engaged
to marry my only sister, though my father objects to the match on
grounds which I consider very insufficient--his ignorance of his
parentage; but now I trust that will no longer be an impediment."

"If my son is really attached to your sister, I have very little doubt
when I plead his cause that your father will give his consent," said Mr
Hastings, in a tone which somewhat puzzled Harry.  "It maybe a
satisfaction for you to know that my family is in no way inferior to
yours.  More I need not say, as I have reasons for not entering into
particulars."

As may be supposed, Harry was now doubly anxious for the arrival of
Headland, contemplating the joy and satisfaction the discovery of his
father would give him, and he longed also to be able to write to Julia
to tell her the news which would, he knew, tend so much to banish her
anxieties for the future.

Still day after day went by, and no sail appeared to cheer the sight of
the shipwrecked party.



CHAPTER FIFTY ONE.

FIRST GREETINGS.

Day after day passed by, and Harry and his shipwrecked companions began
to despair of escaping from the island.  If Jack Headland had lived
there so many years without seeing a ship, it was possible that they
might have to continue an equal length of time unless they could build a
vessel in which to make their escape; but no wood was procurable, nor
did they possess tools fit for the purpose.

A gale of almost equal violence to that which wrecked their ship was
blowing, when Jacob, who had been on watch at the hill, rushed into the
camp with the intelligence that a sail was visible in the offing.  Most
of the party hurried up to have a look at her.  The general opinion was
that she had made out the island, and was endeavouring to give it a wide
berth.

"I am afraid that is more than she will do," observed Jack.  "She is
fast driving towards the shore."

"Can she be the _Thisbe_?" exclaimed Jacob.

"I think not," observed Harry, "her canvas has not to my eye the spread
of a man-of-war."

As the stranger drew nearer, most of the party agreed that Lieutenant
Castleton was right, she was certainly not a man-of-war.

Their flag blew out distinctly in the gale.

Their anxiety for the ship's safety were at length set at rest.  She
weathered the outermost point of the reef, but now they began to fear
that she would pass by and leave them to their fate.

Scarcely had she cleared the reef, however, than the sound of a gun
gladdened their ears: their flag was seen, and the ship hauling her wind
stood along the shore till she gained a shelter under the lee side of
the island.

The gale had by this time considerably abated, and it was hoped that a
boat might be sent on shore.  They hurried across the island.

Just as the beach was reached a boat was seen leaving the ship.  She
soon landed with the first officer, who no sooner heard Lieutenant
Castleton's name than he greeted him with a hearty welcome.  It had been
feared, he said, that he and his boat's crew had been lost, for that the
_Thisbe_ had herself been in great danger, and had with difficulty,
after suffering much damage, got back to Calcutta.  He added that his
ship was the _Montrose_, homeward-bound, and that after touching at
Bencoolen, she had been driven by the hurricane out of her course, when
the island had been sighted in time to weather it, though no one on
board was before aware of its existence.

As the wind might change, the captain was anxious to be away as soon as
possible, and the whole party therefore hurried on board.

Fortunately, soon after the _Montrose_ got into her proper course, she
fell in with an outward-bound fleet, and by one of the ships Harry sent
a despatch to Captain Headland, which he hoped might prevent the
_Thisbe_ from sailing in search of him and his companions.  In it he
also communicated the important information of his discovery of his
friend's old protector Jack Headland, and of his wonderful meeting with
Mr Hastings on board the _Culloden_.  Mr Hastings also wrote a private
letter to Captain Headland, the contents of which he did not allow Harry
to see.

"From the high character you give of your friend, I have spoken to him
of matters in a way I should not otherwise have ventured to do, and
which I do not wish to make known to any one but my son," he observed to
Harry.  "That he is my son I have not the slightest doubt, and I feel
confident that I can convince your father of the fact."

The Montrose continued her homeward voyage.  She was fortunately a good
sailer, and a bright look-out being kept she escaped the enemy's
cruisers, and arrived safely in the Downs.  Here Harry and Mr Hastings
with Jack Headland and Jacob, landed and proceeded at once to London.

Harry knowing how anxious Adam and the dame would be to see their son,
sent Jacob off immediately by the coach expecting that he would reach
Hurlston soon after the ladies at Downside had received a letter he had
written from Deal.

The captain and passengers of the _Montrose_ had pressed on Harry and
Mr Hastings the loan of as much money as they would accept, so that
they had no difficulty about their expenses.

It was late in the evening, when after rattling through the ill-lighted
streets they drove up to the Golden Cross, then the principal inn in the
West end of London.

"I will remain here while you go and announce your arrival to your
father, Mr Castleton," said Mr Hastings.  "As many years have passed
since I travelled by land, I am weary with my journey, though I shall be
happy to accompany you to-morrow, to renew the acquaintance which
existed between us long ago, and for my son's sake I am anxious to do
so.  I must beg you however not to mention my name, or if you do you can
tell your father that you have reasons to believe it is an assumed one
and that with my real name he is well acquainted."

Harry had gone into the coffee-room while waiting for a coach which he
had directed the porter to call for him.  He was walking through the
centre when a person started up from one of the stalls and grasping his
hand exclaimed.

"What, Harry my boy, is it you, sound in limb and present in body
instead of being buried fathoms deep beneath the ocean wave?  I said so,
I was sure of it, I knew we should see you again.  I am heartily
delighted, my dear boy."

Harry having recognised in the speaker his old friend General Sampson,
briefly explained what had happened and said that he was on the point of
starting to see his father.

"I will save you the trouble then; he left town this morning for
Texford, where he has invited me to join a party of friends--three or
four marrying men high born and wealthy; but between ourselves I suspect
that their visit will be in vain as far as the object the baronet may
have in view is concerned.

"Well, it is fortunate I fell in with you, as I have saved you a long
drive and a visit to an empty house.  I was just taking a chop before
going to see the great stars of the theatrical world John Kemble and
Mrs Siddons act Macbeth and his wife; but I will give up my intention
for the pleasure of passing the evening with you unless you will
accompany me."

Harry confessed that even those great performers could not attract him,
and begged the general to come to his private room, being assured that
his friend Mr Hastings would be happy to make his acquaintance.

"I left him about to retire to his chamber to rest, but I daresay he
will join us during the evening.  In the meantime I have a matter of
much interest to talk to you about," he added as he led the way
upstairs.

"I never believed that you were lost, though your father and all the
family went into mourning for you," said the general, as they proceeded.
"Your sister never gave up hopes of seeing you again, nor from what she
wrote me, did another young lady who is interested in your welfare.  Mr
Shallard as in duty bound proved your will, but I understand she would
not consent to touch a penny of the fortune you left her.  If however
you have a fancy for making her take it, all you have to do is to go to
sea again and get killed or drowned in reality."

"Thank you for your advice, general," answered Harry laughing.  "I trust
that I may find a more satisfactory mode of settling the question."

"I hope so, my boy, and I promise you I will lay siege to your father,
and it will not be my fault if I do not compel him to surrender at
discretion should he refuse to capitulate on honourable terms."

As soon as they were seated, Harry told his old friend of the various
occurrences with which the reader is acquainted.

The general was delighted.

"For my part I believe that any man would be glad to claim your friend
as his son.  But I am doubly pleased at the thought that your father
will no longer object to Headlands marrying your sister."

The general was still rattling on asking Harry questions and describing
late public events when Mr Hastings entered the room.  Harry introduced
the general as a friend of his and Captain Headlands.

"I am happy on that account to make General Sampson's acquaintance;"
said Mr Hastings, "perhaps indeed we may have met in our younger days."

"Very likely we have," said the general.  "Your features and figure are
familiar to me.  In fact, I could almost swear that I knew you, though
upon my life I cannot tell where it was."

"Perhaps you may have met me in company with Sir Ralph Castleton; indeed
I am sure of it, as I confess that I recollect you.  I say this as you
are his friend, and, that should you have a suspicion who I am you may
be careful not to express it to others."  While Mr Hastings was
speaking, the general was scanning his countenance with a look of the
greatest surprise.  The former continued, "As Lieutenant Castleton has
begged me to come to Texford, perhaps if you are going there you will
favour us with your company on the road.  I should wish to set off
to-morrow, but as I require longer rest and have some matters to settle
in London, I must defer starting till the following day, if that will
suit you."

"It will exactly do, sir," answered the general.  "I promised Sir Ralph
to go down on that day, and will join you here in the morning.  At what
hour do you propose leaving London?"

"We must not start later than six, and shall then scarcely reach Texford
till some time after nightfall," answered Harry.

"No indeed," observed the general, "I always take two days, for I have
no fancy to travel in the dark, and run the risk of being ordered to
`halt and deliver.'"

The general at a late hour wished his friends good-night, and returned
to his lodgings.

Mr Hastings drove out the next morning alone, and was absent for most
of the day.  He also paid a visit accompanied by Harry to Captain
Headland's agent, who, without hesitation shewed the locket and other
articles which had been deposited with him.  Mr Hastings at once
recognised them.  "Had I entertained any doubts, these would have
convinced me that their owner is my boy," he said turning to Harry.
"And I am convinced from what I know of you, that you will assist him in
obtaining his inheritance."

"That I will most gladly," exclaimed Harry, "though I do not see how I
can help him except with my purse."

"More than you may suppose," answered Mr Hastings significantly.

Harry had during the day called at the Admiralty, to report his return
to England.  He heard that the _Thisbe's_ arrival was every day looked
for.  He left a letter for Headland, urging him to ask for leave, and to
come directly to Texford.  "Mr Hastings would wait for you," he wrote,
"but he seems anxious on your account to see my father without delay,
and as you may not arrive for some weeks he does not wish to defer his
visit."

At the appointed hour the general appeared at the inn, and the three
gentlemen set off on their journey, in a coach and four, with Jack
Headland on the coach box, not omitting to provide themselves with
firearms.



CHAPTER FIFTY TWO.

VISITORS.

Sir Ralph Castleton arrived at Texford in the middle of the next day
after he left London.  He was surprised to see his servants in their
usual liveries, and still more so when Lady Castleton and Julia came out
to greet him in coloured costume, instead of the black dresses they had
lately worn.

"What means this?" he exclaimed.  "You show but little respect to the
memory of our boy by so soon discarding your mourning."

"We have no reason to mourn for him," said Lady Castleton, "he is alive
and well, and will be here in a day or two at farthest."

She then briefly gave the account Harry had written from Deal.  Sir
Ralph expressed his satisfaction, though his words sounded cold to the
ears of his wife and daughter.

"Let me see the letter," he said, "I can scarcely even now believe what
you tell me."

Lady Castleton very unwillingly produced Harry's letter.  A frown
gathered on Sir Ralph's brow as he read it.

"I thought a few months would have cured him of his infatuation; but he
still speaks of that girl as if I were of so yielding a character that I
should ever consent to his committing so egregious a folly.  And I see,
Julia, that he alludes to Captain Headland.  Clearly understand me that
if he returns to England I must prohibit his appearance at Texford.  I
have every reason to believe that you may become a duchess if you act
wisely; and I cannot allow a penniless adventurer to stand in the way."

Julia had learned that `a soft answer turneth away wrath,' or, that if
that cannot be uttered, `silence is the best.'  She adopted the last
resource, and left her father and mother alone.

"I am thankful our boy has escaped, and I can only hope that he will be
induced to act with wisdom and discretion.  I am placed in rather an
awkward position with regard to the Duke of Oldfield.  Under the belief
of Harry's death, I have arranged to forward a match between the Marquis
of Underdown and Julia.  The duke assured me that he admired her greatly
when they last met in London, and believing her to be my heiress, he was
ready to sanction his son's offer, because he frankly told me that the
Marquis must marry a girl of fortune, though he should object unless she
was of good family.  Underdown will arrive here to-day, and Sir John and
Lord Frederick, and the other men I asked, were merely to act as foils,
though I should not object to either of them, should the Marquis fail;
but I believe that a ducal coronet will carry the day with any girl not
excluding our daughter Julia."

"I never venture to oppose your wishes, Sir Ralph, and my earnest
endeavour has been to secure Julia's happiness," said Lady Castleton
humbly.  "I fear, however, that her affection for Captain Headland is
too deeply rooted to allow even the Marquis any prospect of success."

"But when the marquis finds that Harry is alive, his prudence will
probably make him beat a rapid retreat, or at all events the duke will
recall him," remarked Sir Ralph, with a sneer.  "You will thus see my
wisdom in asking the other gentlemen, and I must insist that you use
every effort to induce our daughter to give up this naval officer, and
accept either of them who comes forward.  We must at all events manage
her, though we may find Harry more obstinate than his sister."

"I can only do my best," said Lady Castleton, endeavouring to suppress a
sigh.

Sir Ralph enquired about the Misses Pemberton, and hearing that they
were at Downside, remarked--

"I wish they with their ward could be induced to go away again, they
have been thorns in my side since I came to Texford.  It would have been
wiser had we at once ignored their existence, and Harry would have had
no excuse for visiting them."

The expected guests arrived, and were cordially greeted by Sir Ralph,
who watched the countenance of the young marquis as he was informed of
the fact of Harry's existence.  From its expression the keen man of the
world argued that the young nobleman would not long honour him as his
guest.

Julia, who was in very good spirits, received the visitors with her
usual frank and easy manner.  She had greater difficulty next day to
maintain her composure, as she was looking forward to the arrival of
Harry and his mysterious companion, the father of Headland.

Lady Castleton received in the morning another letter from Harry, which
he had written that she might show it to his father.  He stated what he
had already done to Julia, adding that he hoped Sir Ralph would give a
warm greeting to his friend, who assured him that they had formerly been
well acquainted.

"Who he can be I have no conception," exclaimed Sir Ralph.  "I wish
Harry had told me.  We must ascertain who he is first.  It is possible
he may be some impostor who has discovered his anxiety to find a father
for his friend.  I shall be very careful how I trust him."



CHAPTER FIFTY THREE.

ATTACKED.

Mr Groocock, afraid of alarming the ladies, had not informed them of
the warning he had received, but as soon as he had an opportunity of
speaking to Sir Ralph he told him what had occurred; and of the
precautionary measures he had taken.

"I suspect the old mad woman has practiced on your credulity," observed
Sir Ralph.  "However, do as you think fit, it may be as well to be
prepared, in case that fellow Gaffin should venture on so daring a deed.
With so many gentlemen in the house, backed by the servants, he will
not think of attacking the hall."

"I suspect, Sir Ralph, that desperate as he is, there is nothing he
would not dare to do."

The steward, fearing that some mistake might occur had ridden over to
Morbury, to beg that Mr Shallard would see that the men he had applied
for were sent in time.  It was fortunate that he went, for Mr Shallard
had been away from home though expected back every minute.  Mr Groocock
anxiously waited his return.  He arrived at length, when the steward
explained his object, and asked if he had not received a letter he had
sent about it.  Mr Shallard found it on his table with several others.

"Here is also a requisition," he said, glancing at another letter, "from
the Misses Pemberton to obtain protection for Downside.  She has been
warned as you were, by an old mad woman, and she assures me that she
feels confident the warning should not be disregarded.  Though I have no
great fears on the matter, my gallantry compels me to ride over there at
once to afford the ladies such security as the presence of a gentleman
can give; and I will beg that a body of fencibles may be sent to arrive
soon after dusk.  If no more men can be spared, we must obtain a few
cavalry, as fortunately some troops arrived here a few days ago, and are
to remain a short time to obtain recruits in the neighbourhood.  I will
see their commanding officer, and take care that they are sent off in
time to reach Texford by dark.  You may go home, therefore, Mr
Groocock, with your mind at rest on the subject.  They will soon be at
your heels, and you will, I daresay, look after them and see that they
are provided with a supply of good cheer, such as soldiers expect under
the circumstances."

"No fear of that, Mr Shallard," answered the steward.  "I must no
longer delay, for I am already late, and with my own good will I would
rather not be out after dusk, considering the sort of people likely to
be abroad."

"By-the-bye, I have not congratulated you on Lieutenant Castleton's safe
return.  I received the news from Miss Pemberton just as I was leaving
home yesterday, and nothing has given me greater pleasure in life.  A
fine young fellow your future baronet, and I heartily wish that all
difficulties in the way of his happiness may be overcome.  He will prove
a worthy successor to his excellent uncle.  I have no doubt about that,
though neither you nor I, Mr Groocock, can properly wish him to come
into possession for many years."

"I wish that all were like him.  He will make a kind master whoever
serves him, but my head will be laid at rest before then," answered the
steward, with a sigh.  "However, I must be on my journey," and Mr
Groocock, shaking hands with the lawyer, mounted his cob and rode back
towards Texford.

The family at Texford were assembled in the drawing-room.  Dinner had
been put off, as they were every minute expecting the arrival of Harry
and his friends, and Sir Ralph, usually so calm, kept moving about the
room, frequently expressing his surprise that they had not come.

"I hope nothing has happened to them," he said to himself.  "Is it
possible that they can have encountered that fellow Gaffin and his
ruffian crew?"

Julia in vain endeavoured to understand what the Marquis and Lord
Frederick were saying to her, but could only give the vaguest of
replies.

The window of the back drawing-room, which looked towards the park, was
open.  Sir Ralph had looked out several times in the hopes of hearing
the carriage wheels.  He rang the bell, and a servant appearing, he
ordered dinner to be served.

"By-the-bye," he asked, "has Mr Groocock returned from Morbury?"

"No, Sir Ralph," was the answer.

"Let me know when he comes," said the baronet.

At that instant the sound of a shot was heard; it came from the
direction of the park gate.  It was followed by several others.

"What can that mean?" asked most of the gentlemen in a breath.

Sir Ralph, without answering, rang the bell violently, when the butler
hurried into the room with a look of alarm.

"Tell the servants to get their arms, and have the shutters of all the
lower rooms closed.  Gentlemen," he added, turning to his guests, "if
any of you have firearms or swords, pray get them.  I received a warning
that the house was to be attacked by a desperate gang of smugglers, but
took no notice of it, though I fear from these sounds I ought to have
done so."

Most of the gentlemen, who had fowling-pieces or pistols with them,
hurried off to get them ready.  Lady Castleton sank on the sofa, another
lady fainted, and two shrieked out in their terror, believing that the
next instant they should see the ruffians breaking into the house.
Julia endeavoured to calm her mother and their guests, while Sir Ralph
went to the front door to see that it was bolted and barred.  At that
moment he heard carriage wheels rolling at a rapid rate up the avenue.
Again several shots were heard much nearer than the first.  He ordered
the door to be opened.  The horses, panting and foaming, were pulled up
by the postillion, and Harry sprang out of the chaise, followed by
General Sampson.  They both turned round to assist out another person,
while a fourth leaped from the box.

"Drive round to the coachyard, and tell the grooms to close the gates,"
cried Harry, while he led the stranger up the steps.  On seeing his
father he greeted him affectionately.

"We were fired on by a band of ruffians, but as we returned their salute
briskly, they did not venture to come to nearer quarters.  They may,
however, be following, and we should be prepared for them."  Sir Ralph
was on the point of giving some further directions to the servants, when
General Sampson and his companion reached the hall.  Sir Ralph started,
and gazed with a bewildered look.

"Who are you?  Speak.  I well remember those features," he exclaimed.

"And I remember yours, Ralph," said the stranger, stepping forward and
taking his hand.  "However, we will say no more on the subject at
present.  Your son and General Sampson know me as Mr Hastings; let me
retain that name till we can converse in private.  In the meantime,
continue your preparations to receive the ruffians, who are close at
hand.  Thanks to the speed at which we were driving, the volley they
fired did us no harm."

Sir Ralph seemed scarcely to comprehend what Mr Hastings said, but
continued gazing in his face without replying.

General Sampson, at once comprehending the state of affairs, took upon
himself the command of the garrison, and ordered the servants to see
that all the other entrances to the house were closed.  He then
requested those who had firearms to load them with ball, and to be ready
to make use of them if required.  Scarcely had he done so than a
thundering knock was heard at the door, and a man from the outside
announced himself as a sergeant from the -- Dragoons, who had been sent
over from Morbury with a party of fifteen men to guard the Hall.

On this the door was opened, when a fine soldier-like fellow appeared,
who requested to know where he should post his men.

"My orders are to remain here if Sir Ralph Castleton wishes it, but if
not, to proceed to Downside Cottage, at Hurlston.  As the smugglers, or
whatever they are, caught sight of us just as we entered the avenue,
they are not likely to attack this place."

Harry, who had just been receiving his mother's and sister's embraces,
heard what was said.

"Let some of your men accompany me, and I will show them the way to
Downside," he exclaimed; and he directed one of the servants to bring a
horse round without a moment's delay.

"Where are you going, Harry?" exclaimed Sir Ralph, recovering himself,
on seeing Harry hurrying down the steps.  "The troopers will look after
the ruffians."

"To assist those who require protection," answered Harry.  "There is no
time to be lost."

"Just like him," cried General Sampson.  "The ruffians won't stand a
charge if he leads it.  I'll be after you, Harry.  One of you get me a
horse."

"Thank you, general," exclaimed Lady Castleton, "We cannot tell what
these desperate men will venture to do, and you may be of the greatest
assistance."

"I must not wait though for you, general," said Harry, mounting.  "What
is the matter?" he asked of the groom who assisted him on his horse.

"Oh sir," said the groom, "there has been murder, we fear, already.  Mr
Groocock's cob has just galloped in from across the park with blood on
his saddle, and it's too clear that the steward has been killed, or the
animal would not have come home without him."

"This is terrible," said Harry; "poor old man.  Go some of you and
search for him.  I must not delay."  Turning to the sergeant, he added,
galloping on--"Do you and your men accompany me."

The sergeant mounted his horse and followed him.  The troopers were
found drawn up at the entrance of the avenue, while in the distance were
seen a large band of wild-looking fellows armed in a variety of ways,
some on horseback, and others on foot, apparently watching the movements
of the soldiers, by whose timely arrival they had been prevented from
entering the park.

The sergeant ordered his men to follow.

"Those are the fellows who fired at the carriage, and were nearly
overtaking it when we came up, I can swear to that," he said.

"We must seize their leader, and as many as we can get hold of, or they
may still attack the Hall," answered Harry.

"The sooner we are at them the better, though I fear they will not stand
us," cried the sergeant.  "Charge, my lads, and get hold of the fellow
on the black horse.  I saw him fire two shots."

And putting spurs to their horses, they dashed on.

As they were galloping along, and before they had gone many paces,
Harry, to his grief, saw the apparently dead body of the steward lying
close by the road-side, where he had, it seemed, fallen when shot.  He
could not stop to ascertain whether he was dead or alive.

The smugglers still held their ground not two hundred yards off.  Harry
recognised Miles Gaffin, who, by his actions, was evidently endeavouring
to induce his followers to advance to the encounter.  As the well
disciplined little band drew near them, the ruffian's courage gave way.
The men on foot rushed off on either side.  The horsemen stood a moment
longer, and at Gaffin's command fired a volley, but directly afterwards,
though superior in numbers, knowing well how ill able they were to
resist the charge of the troopers, they wheeled round their horses, and
galloped off in the direction of Hurlston.  Gaffin was the last to turn.
He quickly overtook the rest, and pushing through them on his fleet and
powerful horse, soon took the lead.  Though vastly superior in a charge,
the troopers' horses were ill able to come up with the active steeds of
the lightly-armed smugglers.  The latter kept well ahead, though Harry
urged his companions not to spare the spur.  As openings occurred free
of trees, first one of the smugglers rode off, then another, others
following, some going on one side, some on another, till a small band
only held together, led by Gaffin, who had, however, distanced them
considerably.  Believing, probably, that he was going to desert them,
the remainder, swearing loudly at his cowardice, following the example
of the first, began to disperse, several throwing themselves from their
horses, and making their way through the thick brushwood, where the
troopers had little hopes of overtaking them.

"Keep the fellow on the black horse in sight," shouted Harry.  "He is
the man, I doubt not, who murdered the steward.  Let some of your men
accompany me, and follow him with the rest."

The sergeant gave the order as Harry requested, and half the men
continued on with Harry towards Downside, while Gaffin was seen to be
making by the nearest road for the mill.  His object apparently was to
take shelter within it, and to sell his life dearly, or he might hope to
conceal himself till he could make his escape by some secret passage, or
by other means with which he alone was acquainted.

The thickening gloom of evening rendered all objects indistinct.  The
sergeant and his men, however, kept the smuggler in sight till they saw
him reach the downs on which the mill stood, where his figure was
distinctly visible against the sky.  It was but for a moment, for at the
same instant, a party of the sea-fencibles who had been concealed behind
the mill, started up, and several shots were fired at him.  It was not
seen whether any had taken effect; the horse and rider disappeared, at
it seemed, over the edge of the cliff.  The troopers expected as they
reached the spot to see him dashed to pieces on the sands, but he had
reached the bottom in safety by a pathway which a desperate man alone
would have ventured to take.  They caught a glimpse of him as he
galloped along the sands towards the south.

"We must follow him, my lads, or he will escape after all," said the
sergeant, though, as no one dared descend the path Gaffin had taken, the
troopers were compelled to take their way round by a circuitous road
till they could gain the level of the beach.  By that time the daring
smuggler was lost to sight.

In the meantime, the foot soldiers hurried along the top of the downs to
stop him should he desert his horse and attempt to escape by climbing up
the cliffs and make his way across the country.

The sergeant and his men made comparatively slow progress over the
sands.  They discovered too that the tide was rising, and had good
reason to fear that they might be caught under the cliffs, and be
carried off by the sea which was rolling in with a sullen roar.

The sergeant at the same moment fancied he could discern the figure of a
horseman at some distance ahead, close under the cliffs, and already
surrounded by water.  The steed was plunging and rearing, while the
rider in vain endeavoured to urge him forward.  Presently, both together
disappeared, overwhelmed by a sea which rolled in, and broke in masses
of spray against the foot of the cliff.  Not far off a dark object,
which might have been a boat, was seen.

However, the advancing sea warned the sergeant that he and his men must
beat a rapid retreat, or run the risk of losing their horses, if not
their lives.  They had, indeed, to plunge through the sea up to their
horses' girths before they regained the end of the cliff, where they
were once more in safety.



CHAPTER FIFTY FOUR.

SURPRISES.

Since we last met Adam Halliburt the _Nancy_ had shared the fate of
other craft; her stout planks and timbers gradually yielding to age, she
had become too leaky to put to sea, and had been broken up for firewood.
Adam having no sons to help him, had taken to inshore fishing in a
small boat which he and a lad could manage.  The dame's baskets were,
however, still well supplied with fish.

Honest Jacob, to his parents' joy, had arrived at home.  Adam was about
to set out on his daily fishing.

"I will go with you, father," he said; "maybe with my help you will
sooner be able to get back."

The dame, glad that Adam should enjoy his son's company, was willing to
wait till their return, to hear all Jacob had to tell them.

They stood away under sail to the south, where the best fishing ground
lay.

Seldom had Adam been so happy as he was listening to Jacob's account of
his adventures, and not often had he been more successful in making a
good catch of fish.

The evening was drawing on, and it was time to return, when the wind
shifting, headed them, and they were compelled to take to their oars,
Jacob and the boy pulling, while Adam steered.  They kept close in shore
to avoid the tide, which was running to the southward.  The wind
increased too, and they made but slow progress, so that night overtook
them before they had proceeded half the distance.

There was still light sufficient to enable Adam to see a man on
horseback galloping along the beach under the cliff, the water already
reaching up to the animal's knees.

"What can he be about?" exclaimed Adam.  "He must be mad to try and pass
along there; he will be lost to a certainty if he moves a few fathoms
further on."

Adam shouted at the top of his voice, and waved his hat, but the
horseman neither saw nor heard him.

Presently, as Adam had anticipated, the horse began to struggle
violently in a vain effort to escape from a soft quicksand which
prevented it either from swimming or wading.  The next instant a sea
rolling in washed the rider from its back.  He struck out boldly, making
a desperate effort for life.  Jacob and the boy pulled with all their
might towards him, but before they could reach him a sea had dashed him
against the cliff.  By a mighty effort he got clear of it, when a
receding wave carried him towards them.  Before the boat reached him,
however, he had ceased to struggle, and was sinking for the last time
when Adam caught him by the collar, and with Jacob's assistance hauled
him into the boat.  Jacob had at once to resume his oar, for they were
so near the cliff that the boat might, in another instant, have been
dashed against it.  They got clear, however, but the tide had drifted
them to the south.

"He is still alive," said Adam, "but seems much hurt, and I fear will
die if we don't soon get him before a warm fire.  We are just under Mad
Sal's hut, and the best thing we can do will be to carry him up there."

"It will be a hard matter to land though, father, won't it?" said Jacob,
"and we may risk the loss of the boat."

"Worth risking it for the sake of a human life, even if the man was our
greatest enemy.  There is a little creek in there, and if I can hit it,
the boat will be safe enough.  Stand by to jump out when I tell you."

Jacob and the boy pulled on, and in another minute a sea lifted the
boat, and though the surf broke on board she floated on, and dropped
down safely into a pool, where there was no danger of her being carried
away.  Adam and his companions jumping out, hauled the boat up on the
beach.  Leaving the boy in charge of her, he and Jacob then carried the
man they had rescued, and who was still insensible, towards Mad Sal's
hut, which could just be distinguished on the side of the ravine by the
glare of light coming through the chinks in the window and door.

Adam knocked loudly.

"Who comes to disturb me now?" exclaimed the old woman from within.  "Is
my solitude constantly to be broken in upon by strangers?"

"We bring you a well-nigh drowned man, who will die if you refuse him
your aid, good dame," said Adam.  "In mercy do not keep us outside."

The door was opened.

"What! another victim murdered by the cruel salt sea," exclaimed old
Sal, as she saw the burden Adam and Jacob carried.

"We must have off his wet clothes, and warm his hands and feet, or he
soon will be dead," said Adam, as they carried the man into the room.

The sight seemed to calm instead of agitating the old woman, for she set
about attending to the man in a more sensible way than might have been
expected.  While Adam and Jacob took off the man's wet clothes, she
brought a blanket that they might wrap it round his body.  She then,
kneeling down, assisted them in chafing his hands and feet.  A deep
groan showed that their efforts were successful, and the man soon opened
his eyes, and gazed wildly at them.  The old woman threw some sticks on
the fire, which blazing up now for the first time, revealed his features
more clearly than before.

"Why, father, he is Miles Gaffin," exclaimed Jacob.

"I knew that," answered Adam, "when we hauled him into the boat."

"Miles Gaffin," cried Mad Sal, "the bloodthirsty and wretched man shall
not live out half his days; yet, as the sea refused to keep him, we must
not be more cruel."

Gaffin made no answer, but continued to glare wildly at the faces bent
over him.  He occasionally groaned and muttered a few unintelligible
words.

"He seems to have lost his senses," whispered Adam to Jacob.

Such, indeed, was evidently the case.  Several times he tried to sit up,
but he had received some severe injuries, and each movement made him
shriek with pain.

What now to do was the question.  Adam was unwilling to leave him alone
with the poor mad woman, yet he was naturally anxious to return home.
The sound of the wind, which howled and whistled up the glen, warned him
that he could scarcely hope to continue his voyage.

Telling old Sal that they would speedily return, Adam and Jacob went
down to the beach, and made safe their boat and fish.  Then they sent
the boy quickly to Hurlston, with instructions to tell the dame that
they hoped to be home in the morning.  The lad being warned to keep away
from the edge of the cliff, set off without fear.  Adam and Jacob,
carrying up a few fish and some bread, returned to the hut.

As they entered they heard Gaffin's voice raving incoherently.  Mad Sal
stood like a statue, the light of the fire falling on her pale features,
gazing at him with a look of mingled astonishment and dread.  They
stopped to listen to what Gaffin was saying.

"Who are you?" she exclaimed at last, gasping for breath, and advancing
towards the unhappy man.

"Who has a right to ask me that?" he shrieked out.  "Martin Goul I was
once called.  They tell me I broke my father's heart, that my mother
threw herself from the cliffs, and that the only being I ever loved was
laid in the cold grave.  So I went forth to do battle with the hard
world, to live in hopes of revenging myself on those who had scorned and
wronged me.  Each time, though I missed my aim, I thought the day of
vengeance would come at last, but again and again have I been mocked by
the cunning devil who deceived me."

"Martin Goul! who speaks of him," exclaimed the old woman, moving a step
nearer the man.

"Let me be at peace, old hag; why torment me with questions?" shrieked
out Gaffin.

"Young Martin Goul has long been fathoms deep beneath the ocean wave;
and you tell me that you bear that name," said Mad Sal, in a hollow
frightened voice.

"No one else would dare to claim it," cried Gaffin.  "When my son
marries the heiress of Texford, I will shout it out to all the world.
She will be his bride before many hours are over, and then those who
have scorned me will have to ask favours at my hand.  They did not know
that I possessed the secret of her birth, that it still lies locked up
in the chest guarded safely in the vault beneath the mill, and that it
will be beyond their reach before to-morrow.  Ah! ah! ah!" and he broke
out into a cry of maniac laughter.

The old woman passed her hand across her brow, and took another stride
which brought her close to where Gaffin lay.

"Answer me, I adjure you; again I ask you, are you the Martin Goul who
years gone by was pressed and carried off to sea?"

"Yes, I am that Martin Goul, the pirate, smuggler, spy, murderer," he
shrieked, out raising himself.  "There are no deeds I have not dared to
do.  I, by forged letters, kept Ranald Castleton from his home, and
willingly would I have allowed his innocent child to perish.  Now I have
answered you, what more would you learn from me?  Ah! ah! ah!" he
shouted out, as if impelled by an uncontrollable impulse to utter the
very things he would have desired to keep secret.

"It's false, it's false," cried the unhappy woman.  "My son was wild and
extravagant, but he could not have been guilty of the crimes you name.
I was the mother of young Martin Goul; he was the only being on earth I
loved.  Oh the salt, salt sea."

"You my mother, you," shrieked out the wretched man, and he again burst
forth into a fit of hideous laughter, which froze the hearts of Adam and
his son.  "Begone, old hag, begone, begone," he shouted, and endeavoured
to raise himself up, but his strength, from some internal injury, was
fast giving way.  The effort produced a paroxysm of pain.  He shrieked
out, and sinking back on the bed no longer moved.

The old woman gazed at him like one transfixed.  Suddenly the fire sent
up a bright flame, which fell on his face.

"Yes, yes," cried the unhappy creature, "I know you now, you are my son,
my boy Martin."  But the person she addressed no longer heard her.  His
spirit had fled to stand before the Judge of all men.  She waited as if
expecting him to reply, then suddenly she became aware of what had
happened, and lifting up her hands fell forward over his body.

Adam and Jacob sprang to assist her, for they feared from the force with
which she fell that she must have injured herself.  She neither moved
nor groaned.  They endeavoured to lift her up.

"Poor creature, she is dead!" said Adam.  She had survived but a few
moments her unhappy son.

Adam and Jacob placed her body by his side, and closed the eyes of both.
As they could no longer be of assistance they would gladly have set off
for their home at once, but the night had become very dark, the storm
raged furiously, and as they had their fish to carry, they would have
found it difficult to make their way over the downs.  They therefore
agreed to wait till daylight.

Adam had noted what the dying man said with regard to the chest and the
little girl.

"Could he have been speaking of our Maiden May, and how came he to call
her the heiress of Texford?"

"He did call her so, there is no doubt about that," observed Jacob.  "He
cannot tell us now, though, what he meant."

"But the chest may.  I was always sure that Gaffin had visited the
wreck, and carried off something of value, but little did I think all
the time that he knew who our Maiden May was," said Adam.

"If we can get the chest we shall soon know all about that father; and
it will be the thing of all others that Lieutenant Castleton will like
to know, and I shall be glad to help him find it out."

As neither Adam nor Jacob felt disposed to go to sleep after the scene
they had witnessed, they sat up discussing the subject till dawn.  The
wind having shifted, and the sea gone down, they launched their boat and
sailed before the wind for Hurlston.  As they passed close under the
mill they saw a vessel cast on the beach, which they recognised as
Gaffin's lugger.  They afterwards discovered that having been left with
only two or three hands on board she had been driven on shore, and, like
the _Nancy_, having seen her best days, had been quickly knocked to
pieces by the heavy sea which had for a short time broken on the coast.

Young Jack had arrived safely, and delivered the message Adam had sent
the dame, so that she had not been anxious about them.  But she had a
terrible account to give of the events which, according to report, had
taken place at Texford and Downside, and which had caused her the
greatest alarm, and she was only waiting their arrival to set off to
ascertain the truth.

Adam agreed to accompany her, as he wished to give Lieutenant Castleton
the information he had obtained, and thought it probable that he might
be at Downside.  He had besides to give notice of the deaths of Martin
Goul and his mother.



CHAPTER FIFTY FIVE.

ON THE DEFENCE.

Harry and the dragoons after Gaffin's escape galloped rapidly to
Downside.  He would soon have distanced them had he not feared that they
might lose their way.  He kept urging them to spur on with greater
speed.  The gate was opened, and as they approached the house a
thundering sound was heard, and he caught sight of several men
endeavouring to burst in the front door.  The noise they were making
prevented them from hearing the approach of the horses.  One of them
turning, however, caught sight of the dragoons, when, he shouting to his
companions, they let the log fall and rushed down the steps, two or
three of them as they did so firing the pieces they carried.  The
soldiers fired in return, when two or more of the gang were wounded.
Their companions, however, dragged them off, and scrambling over the
hedges, they made their escape before the dragoons could overtake them.

Harry announced his arrival.

"Stay, it may only be a trick," he heard Miss Jane observe.

"Oh, I am sure it is Harry.  I know his voice.  I am not afraid of
opening the door," exclaimed May.

The bars and bolts were quickly withdrawn, and the next instant Harry
pressed May to his heart.  He quickly narrated all that had happened,
and Miss Jane and Miss Mary were very grateful for his coming so
opportunely to their rescue.

"And I, too, am glad to greet you, Mr Castleton," said Mr Shallard,
stepping forward.  "It is far more satisfactory than having had to act
as your executor; indeed, this young lady most obstinately, as I
thought, refused to allow me to do so."

Much more to the same effect was said, when the lawyer remarked that he
must go and look after the dragoons.

"You maybe surprised at our calmness," he observed, "but the truth is, I
expected every moment the arrival of a party of the sea-fencibles, and
fully believed that they would come in time to stop the ruffians in
their attempt to break into the house, and to capture the whole of them
into the bargain.  Till they appear, it may be prudent to retain the
dragoons."

Harry willingly allowed Mr Shallard to do as he proposed.

Shortly afterwards a party of the fencibles arrived, who by some mistake
had been sent to the mill instead of coming first, as was intended, to
Downside.  The dragoons were then sent down to the Texford Arms.

Though Harry felt that he ought to return home, he could not leave the
cottage while there was a possibility of the smugglers rallying.  He was
not sorry at having a good excuse for remaining.

Miss Jane, on hospitable thoughts intent, was much troubled at being
unable to offer beds to her guests, but they both assured her that they
should prefer sitting up, that they might be ready for any emergency.

Susan having recovered from her alarm, set to work to get supper ready,
and, in the meantime, Miss Jane declaring that she and her sister had
business to settle with Mr Shallard, left May and Harry in the
drawing-room.

Those were joyous moments to the young lovers.  The clouds had not
entirely cleared away, but they both saw, they believed, the dawn of a
brighter day.

Harry and Mr Shallard sat up as they had proposed, though the lawyer
very soon fell asleep, with outstretched legs, long before the young
sailor closed his eyes.

Nothing occurred during the night to disturb the household.

The dragoons had started at daybreak to scour the country, but did not
succeed in capturing a single smuggler.  They had discovered, however,
in a cottage, a man dying from a gun-shot wound, and from the
description given of him, Harry had little doubt that he was young
Gaffin.

May appeared at breakfast, looking as bright and fresh as ever.  As soon
as the meal was over, Harry and Mr Shallard, assured that the ladies
were in no further danger, were on the point of setting out for Texford,
when Adam and Dame Halliburt arrived.

After the dame had expressed her joy at seeing May and the ladies safe,
Adam described to Harry and Mr Shallard the events which had occurred
on the previous evening, and gave them the information he had obtained
from the dying man.  May listened with breathless eagerness.  Was indeed
the secret of her birth to be at length disclosed?  The heiress of
Texford!  That seemed impossible.  It must have been a fancy of the
dying smuggler.  She might, indeed, be proved to belong to a noble
family, and Sir Ralph's objections to her might be removed; or, on the
other hand, her birth might be such, that still greater obstacles might
arise, or the proofs, had they existed, might have been removed.  Fears
and hopes alternately gaining the mastery, she in vain endeavoured to
calm her agitation.  Miss Mary stood holding her hand, her sightless
eyes turned towards the speakers, listening to all that was said; while
Miss Jane every now and then threw in a word, gave her advice, or
cross-questioned Adam with an acuteness which won the lawyer's
admiration.

As they were still speaking, a dense wreath of smoke, with flickering
points of flame rising beneath it, was seen in the direction of the
cliff.

"The mill has been set on fire," exclaimed Mr Shallard.  "Men ought to
have been stationed to guard it.  We may yet be in time to save the
chest.  Not a moment, however, must be lost."

The gardener having been despatched with an order to the fencibles to
hasten to the mill, the lawyer, with Harry and Adam, set out in the same
direction.

"Oh, Harry, do not run any risk in searching for the chest; far rather
would I let the secret be lost," exclaimed May, as Harry sprang down the
steps to overtake Mr Shallard and the fisherman.

They met the fencibles on their way to the mill.  As they reached the
neighbourhood, they found a number of fishermen and others collected
round the burning building.  There appeared, however, but little
prospect of saving it.  The flames had got possession of the interior
woodwork, and the long arms of the sails were already on fire.

"Never mind the mill," cried a voice from the crowd.  "It is the house
we must look after," and Jacob appeared with several young men carrying
a heavy piece of timber.

A few blows burst open the door, and, in spite of the clouds of smoke
rushing out, and the masses of burning wood which came crashing down,
breaking through the roof already in flames, Jacob and his party boldly
dashed in, still carrying their battering-ram.  Harry with others
followed.  They were attacking an interior door.  That quickly gave way.

Then suddenly, in the midst of the confusion, several men were seen
emerging with a heavy chest, which they carried between them.

"We have got it, Mr Castleton, we have got it," cried Jacob, as several
of the bystanders sprang forward to his assistance.

In another minute the whole house was in a blaze, and the rafters which
supported the vault catching fire, the tall mill fell with a loud crash,
and a huge fiery mass alone marked the spot where it had stood.

Enquiries were made for Dusty Dick.  No one had seen him issue from the
mill, and it was generally supposed that, following his master's orders,
he had set fire to it, and perished in his attempt to escape.

"If you will restrain your curiosity for a short time, Mr Castleton, we
will have the chest carried up to Downside, and examine it there," said
Mr Shallard.  "It will be a fitter spot than the open Downs."

Plenty of bearers were found, and the old lawyer had some difficulty in
keeping pace with them, as, followed by half the population of Hurlston,
they bore it up to the Miss Pembertons' cottage.



CHAPTER FIFTY SIX.

SIR RANALD CASTLETON.

Harry, as he galloped off from Texford with the dragoons, had left the
party in the house in a state of considerable anxiety.

Several of the other gentlemen had hurried out on foot towards the
park-gates, near which they found General Sampson dismounted, and
bending over the steward.

"He is alive, I am thankful to say," said the general; "and as I shall
have no chance of overtaking Castleton and the dragoons, I shall be of
more service in looking after this worthy man."

Mr Groocock was accordingly carried to the Hall by the general, the two
noblemen, and Sir John, a footman who had followed them leading the
former's horse.

"Oh, is it Harry?" cried Julia.

No sooner had she uttered the words than Lady Castleton started forward,
and would have fallen fainting to the ground had not her husband and Mr
Hastings supported her.

Julia's alarm for her brother's safety was soon set at rest by the
arrival of the party, but it was long before Lady Castleton recovered.

A groom was in the meantime sent off for the surgeon.  The general
having examined the steward's wounds, pronounced them not likely to
prove serious.

The attack of the smugglers, and the pursuit, had aroused Sir Ralph
Castleton's keenest interest, but the presence of Mr Hastings still
more disquieted him.  There was something in his presence which made a
more intimate conversation imperative, and now the baronet, who was
unusually pale and agitated, had invited his guest to meet him in his
study.

What transpired during the conversation was not known.

The surgeon arrived sooner than expected, the groom having fortunately
met him on the road.  He corroborated the general's favourable opinion
of Mr Groocock's wounds.

"The old man seems highly flattered at the way he was brought back to
the house by the general and his friends, and I believe it will
contribute greatly to his recovery," he observed, smiling.

Lady Castleton appeared, however, much to require the surgeon's
attention.  She had remarked the agitation Mr Hastings' appearance had
caused her husband, and dreaded the effect it might produce on him.  She
frequently inquired whether he had yet come out of the study, and Julia
could with difficulty prevent her from attempting to get up, and join
him there.

The general, who had been bustling about the house, giving directions to
the servants, and trying to entertain the other guests, at length
entered the drawing-room to which Lady Castleton had been conveyed.
There she lay, still unable to move, on a sofa.

"Oh, General Sampson, who is that terrible man?" she exclaimed, catching
a glimpse of the general, who, not aware that she was there, was about
to retire.

"They tell me that he is a ruffian called Gaffin, but my friend Harry
and the dragoons will soon give a good account of him, I suspect,"
answered the general, not understanding her question.

"The person who is now with Sir Ralph," cried Lady Castleton; "he called
himself Mr Hastings."

"I beg your ladyship ten thousand pardons," answered the general.  "I
had no idea of whom you were speaking.  There is nothing terrible about
him; he is a most gentlemanly refined person, has evidently mixed in
good society all his life.  He tells me that I knew him in our younger
days, and he is certainly an old acquaintance of Sir Ralph's."

Julia was perfectly ready to believe the general's account, and assisted
him at length in sufficiently calming her mother's fears to induce her
to retire to her chamber.

At last the hungry guests, whose dinner had been so long postponed,
assembled in the dining-room, where they were joined by the master of
the house and Mr Hastings.  Sir Ralph still looked nervous, and instead
of exhibiting his usual self-possession, his manner was subdued, and his
mind evidently distracted, as he appeared frequently not to have heard
the remarks made to him.  He treated Mr Hastings with the most marked
attention, while he seemed almost at times to forget the presence of the
marquis and his other titled guests.  Julia excused herself from coming
downstairs on the plea of having to attend to her mother.

The general tried to make amends for Sir Ralph's want of attention to
his guests, and talked away for the whole party.

"I hope, Mr Hastings," said the general, drawing him aside after
dinner, "you have convinced my friend Sir Ralph that your gallant son is
a fit match for his fair daughter, Miss Julia.  I should like to be able
to give the young lady a hint to calm her anxiety on the subject."

"I think, my dear general, that her father will no longer object to the
match; but I have agreed to retain my incognito till the arrival of my
son, whose ship was announced as having reached Spithead yesterday
evening, and as I obtained leave for him at the Admiralty, he will come
on here at once."

The general, who was as much at home at Texford as at his own house,
found means to communicate with Julia, and to give her the satisfactory
intelligence.

He was too good a soldier to neglect placing sentinels on the watch
during the night, which, however, passed without any appearance of the
enemy in the neighbourhood of the Hall.

Next morning the marquis and Lord Frederick, who had not been
unobservant of what was taking place, though somewhat puzzled, were
prepared for the hint which the general conveyed to them, that the heart
and hand of Miss Julia Castleton were engaged.  Regretting that their
stay should have been so short, they paid their respects to the master
and mistress of the house, and took their departure, much to Sir Ralph's
satisfaction.

Julia, who had become somewhat alarmed at not hearing of Harry, was much
relieved during the course of the morning by receiving a message from
him, saying that he was at Downside, and hoped shortly to return to
Texford.  She hurried to Lady Castleton to inform her, and then went to
Sir Ralph, who was alone in his study, engaged in writing.  He was so
absorbed that he scarcely noticed her entrance.  She had to repeat what
she had said.

"Foolish boy!" he exclaimed, without expressing any satisfaction.  "If
he knew the position in which I am placed, he would see that I have
greater reason than ever for objecting to his making that match.  If a
proper pride, and a sense of what is due to his family no longer
restrains him, let him understand that his father is a mere beggar,
dependent on the will of another, though you have nothing to fear, as I
may tell you that he acknowledges your lover as his son, and insists on
my sanction to your marriage."

"My dear father," exclaimed Julia, "I had hoped, indeed, that all
impediments to my happiness would be removed, but how can that affect
you or Harry?"

"You shall know all in time," answered Sir Ralph, gloomily.  "Till the
arrival of Captain Headland, I am prohibited from saying more.  Leave me
now, only if you have any feelings of affection and duty you will use
your influence with Harry.  I do not wish to make an enemy of my only
son, but tell him while I live I will never be a party to his committing
the rash act he contemplates.  Go, girl, go," and Sir Ralph waved his
daughter from the room.

She returned to her mother, who had sufficiently recovered to come
downstairs.  The guests had gone into the grounds with the exception of
Mr Hastings and General Sampson.  The general came hurrying into the
drawing-room from the hall, exclaiming--

"A post-chaise is driving up the avenue," and taking Mr Hastings by the
arm, he added, "I do not know whether you or Miss Castleton should be
the first to greet the occupant; I must leave you to decide."

"Let my future daughter have that happiness," answered Mr Hastings, by
a violent effort calming his evident agitation.

He imprinted a kiss as he spoke on the young lady's brow.

"Go and bring my son to me when you have exchanged greetings.  Do not
detain him long."

Julia hastened to the ante-room, scarcely daring to hope that the
general was not mistaken.  From the window she saw the carriage
approaching.  She had not long to wait.  Captain Headland sprang from
it, followed by another person whom her eyes, from the mist which stole
over them, failed to recognise.  She heard his step in the hall.  In
another minute he was supporting her and listening to the account she
had to give.  She led him into the drawing-room, where Mr Hastings was
seated alone.

"I require no one to tell me you are my son," he said, embracing them
both.

They spoke for some time.  Julia would have retired to leave the father
and his son alone, but the former detained her.

"For your sakes alone should I desire to resume my name, and take the
title which is lawfully mine," he continued.  "I am your father's elder
brother, my dear Julia, but I know that when you become my son Ranald's
wife, you will endeavour to console him and your brother Harry for the
loss of an empty title of which I may be compelled to deprive him.  But
I am happily able to leave him in possession of a fortune equal to that
which he at present enjoys."

"Believing that you did not desire to hold the baronetcy, I would gladly
have resigned my future right to it in favour of Harry," said Headland.
"As, however, you gave me leave to consult any friend in whom I had
confidence, I at once went to my old captain, Admiral Fancourt, who, of
all people, as my uncle's brother-in-law, was the most capable of giving
me advice.  I placed the whole matter before him, and he assures me that
should my uncle desire a baronetcy, Government will readily grant him
one for his political services, so that he will consequently not be
deprived of the rank he prizes.  Having known me from my early days, and
being convinced of the truth of the account I gave him, he accompanied
me here that he might satisfy my uncle's mind, and assist in arranging
matters."

As Headland, or rather Captain Castleton, ceased speaking, the door
opened, and Admiral Fancourt entered the room.  He at once recognised
Sir Ranald Castleton, as Mr Hastings was henceforth to be called, and
expressed his satisfaction at his return, assuring him that he would
have no difficulty in establishing his claims.

Lady Castleton shortly afterwards joined the party, and having been
introduced to her brother-in-law, warmly welcomed her nephew.

Headland received a still more enthusiastic welcome from the old
general, who quickly made his appearance.

"And here comes Harry and another gentleman galloping along the avenue
as if the fate of the kingdom depended on their speed," he exclaimed.

Julia and the captain went out to meet them, and in another minute
returned accompanied by Harry and the lawyer.  Harry could scarcely
speak.  Julia knew by the way he embraced her and his mother, that his
heart was bounding with joy.

"She can no longer be looked upon as unworthy of marrying a Castleton,
for she is a Castleton herself, though all my May desires is to bear my
name," he exclaimed at length; "but Mr Shallard will explain the
discovery we have made more clearly than I can.  Our good cousins
promise to bring her here as soon as a carriage can be obtained."

Sir Ranald, as may be supposed, listened to this announcement with the
deepest interest, as he did to the account given by the lawyer.

Mr Shallard, after briefly describing the discovery of the chest which
had been so long hid by Martin Goul in the old mill, then went on to
state that, having examined the documents in it, he had no doubt
whatever that the little girl who had been rescued from the wreck on
board which the chest had been found, was the child of the long lost
Ranald Castleton.  This was corroborated by the locket with the initials
of M.C. which she had on, and with the dress which had been carefully
preserved by Dame Halliburt, while several of the articles in the chest
had the Castleton arms and crest.

The eyes of those who knew Sir Ranald were turned towards him.

"Through the mercy of heaven my two children have been restored to me on
the same day," he exclaimed.  "I had embarked for England after her
mother's death, with my little daughter and her native nurse.  While we
were still in ignorance that the war had broken out, we were captured by
a French privateer.  A heavy gale was blowing at the time, and I, with
other passengers, had just been removed, when all further communication
between the ships was prevented by the fury of the wind and sea.  I was
almost driven to despair when I found that the ships had separated
during the night.  It was the opinion of our captors that only a few men
having been put on board, the crew had risen and retaken the vessel.
They searched in vain for her.  It was believed, with savage
satisfaction by the French, that a wreck we fell in with two days
afterwards, which went down before she could be boarded, was her.  I had
no reason to doubt that they were wrong in their suspicions, and mourned
my child as lost to me for ever."

All listened with breathless interest to what Sir Ranald Castleton was
saying.  Harry's satisfaction can better be imagined than described.

"I am very sure that you are Sir Ranald Castleton; those who doubt it
have only to examine your picture in the study.  Though I recognise you,
I doubt not so will the old steward, Mr Groocock, and many others who
knew you in your youth," said Mr Shallard, as Sir Ranald warmly greeted
him as an old friend.

Harry, after a satisfactory interview with his father, could no longer
restrain his eagerness.  He set off again for Downside.  He had not to
go far, however, before he met the carriage.  Returning with it, he had
the happiness of handing out his beloved Maiden May, and introducing her
to her father and brother.

Two weddings shortly afterwards took place by special licence at Texford
Hall, Sir Ranald and Sir Ralph giving their daughters away.

A fete was held in honour of the occasion in the park, to which the Miss
Pembertons came, where Adam and Dame Halliburt, with their two sons, for
Sam had just returned from sea, were among the most honoured guests.

"I knew our Maiden May was a real young lady, though little did I think
she would one day be Lady Castleton," said Adam.

Sir Ranald, who the dame had at once recognised, insisted on settling an
annuity on old Adam and his wife.

Honest Jack Headland, the only one now of the name, not unwilling to
remain on shore, was appointed to a post at Morbury, suited to his
taste, though the comfortable income settled on him by Sir Ranald
Castleton, might have enabled him to enjoy a life of ease and idleness
to the end of his days.

Though the young officers, while the war continued, again went afloat,
they did not object to being employed on home service, and Harry, who
had purchased Downside on the death of his cousins, spent a portion of
every summer at the place which was so endeared to him and his beloved
and still blooming May.

THE END.





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