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proofs in readiness for my next visit on deck. I lingered over this and other little jobs, and when I returned to the cabin the lamps were lighted, and the steward was laying the cloth for dinner. Miss Tuke and her uncle and Mrs. Stretton and Norie were seated in a group near the piano.

My first glance was at the tell-tale compass; the course remained unchanged. Sir Mordaunt, seeing me do this, called out

Every hour of this should be carrying us well to the eastward, Walton.'


With two points leeway,' I exclaimed, with a shrug.

"Is there no means of preventing that leeway?' he asked.

Setting more canvas would do it,' I answered; but the vessel has as much as she wants. The other way is by easing the helm— but you know I don't advise that. Indeed, I have taken the liberty to order Burton to put the yacht on the other tack, should the wind veer to the south'ard by even a quarter of a point.'

All this talk was Hebrew to Norie and the women, who sat looking on and listening.

'No doubt you are right,' said the baronet.

'You know,' said I, 'that I should like to see the yacht on the starboard tack, heading well to the north-and-east.'

'Away from our destination! Let her break off, Walton, before you put Jamaica over her stern,' exclaimed Sir Mordaunt, with a dull smile, and gravely shaking his head.

A short silence fell upon us. I broke it by inquiring after Lady Brookes; and then Miss Tuke asked what her uncle and I had been doing on deck all the afternoon, 'getting wet through, Mr. Walton, and risking all sorts of illnesses, as Mr. Norie will tell you.'

'We've been watching the weather,' I answered.

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'Not much weather to be seen, Walton,' said Norie. This looks to me like November detached from the other months and out for a cruise on its own account in the Atlantic. I shall behold the sun with interest when it shines forth again. It has not been in sight since the—let me see- He counted on his fingers. 'D'ye call this summer cruising?'

'How long shall you stop at Kingston, Sir Mordaunt ?' asked Mrs. Stretton.

'I cannot say, madam; but not long, I believe,' he answered, with a look at me, to let me know that his intention of abandoning the cruise on his arrival there was not yet proclaimed. We left England without meaning to touch at any port, unless our fresh water ran short. But the ocean,' said he, in a very sober voice, 'makes a man's programme an idle thing.'

The poor woman sighed at this; and, God knows, she had reason. Dinner was now served, and we took our seats.

It is a great pity,' said I, 'that Lady Brookes keeps herself imprisoned in her cabin. Company and conversation should do her more good than Carey and solitude.'


She is best where she is,' said Norie; certainly, until we get fine weather. Robust fellows like our friend, Sir Mordaunt, have no sympathy with delicate nervous organisations. A hungry man wonders at another's want of appetite. A man whose heart beats strongly wonders at people feeling cold. You should study medicine, Walton, if you want to sympathise widely.'

'Mr. Norie means that you should make people suffer first, in order to feel for them,' said Miss Tuke.

But talk of this kind was very flat, stale, and unprofitable to me, and I dare say to Sir Mordaunt too, in our present humour. I was repeatedly glancing at the tell-tale, hoping to find the schooner breaking off, that we might have an excuse to get upon the other tack. Although it was only six o'clock, it was as dark as a pocket outside with the fog, and the skylight windows stood like squares of ebony overhead. The heat was no longer an inconvenience, owing to the draughts of chilled air that breezed down through the windsail. Likewise, the swell was greatly moderated, and, though the piping wind raised a bit of a sea, there was nothing discomforting in the movements of the yacht. In truth, we had been well seasoned by the gale. After the mountainous surges of the three days, the tumble that a brisk wind stirred up was not a thing to notice.

Sir Mordaunt was as reserved as I; the others chatted freely. Mrs. Stretton, who had lived a few months in Jamaica, talked about the scenery there and the negroes, and their strange superstitions; and I particularly remember her description of a mountain, seen from the sea at sunrise-how the mountain on top seemed a solid mass of red fire forking out of the snow-white wreaths of clouds and vapour which girdled the lower parts. She spoke with animation, and her rich accents lent a singular charm to her language. She interested the baronet, in spite of himself; and it was the attention he gave to her speech, whilst she was describing the Jamaica scenes she knew, that warmed her up into fluency and spirit; for she was triste enough when we first sat down to dinner, and whenever she was silent and listening to the others, the sad look came into her face. Somehow, I had never felt more sorry for her than I did on this day and at that table.

The comfort and luxury of the rich sparkling interior was made sharply sensible to the appreciation by the dismal, dark, damp, oppressive weather without, and my heightened perception of it from this cause set me contrasting the situation of the poor woman with hearty sympathy. I thought of Lady Brookes; the love and solicitude bestowed on her; her freedom from anxiety; her husband's ample estate, that made her life as delightful as existence can be made for a woman by money in the hands of a husband who lives mainly for her and her pleasure; and then I thought of this poor widow, newly snatched from a horrible peril, her husband drowned in her sight, and herself a beggar, as she had as good as hinted.

But sufficient for the day, thought I, is the evil thereof. Let us

first get out of this weather, and find out in what part of this corner of the Atlantic the yacht is, before we vex our souls with other considerations.


SIR MORDAUNT was the first to quit the table. He apologised for leaving us, and went to his wife's cabin, saying, as he rose―

If you are going on deck, Walton, I'll join you there presently." On this I quitted my seat, too anxious to linger; and, going to my cabin, put on my waterproof coat and returned. Miss Tuke stood at the foot of the companion steps, looking up at the darkness. She said to me, with a glance around at Mrs. Stretton and Norie, who remained at table, though the widow had followed me with her eyes as I passed along- Mr. Walton,' she said, in a low voice, 'what makes you and Uncle Mordaunt so dull?'

If your uncle is dull,' said I, and I don't know that he is, his wife's condition will answer your question about him. As for me, I am as cheerful as a man can be in a fog.'

'No, no; you are dull too, Mr. Walton. Pray what is it? You can trust a sailor's daughter,' said she, coaxingly. Nothing you can say will frighten me.'

'I give you my word of honour there is nothing whatever the matter. There is a dense sea-fog around us; and as Purchase's calculations, and, maybe, the man himself, are not to be depended on, I am merely going to lend a hand on deck for a short while, to keep a look-out."

I saw she did not believe me, though I spoke the truth. She eyed me gravely and earnestly, and I was willing she should look as long as ever she pleased, for I, too, could look at her closely, with good excuse for so doing. Suddenly a little smile kindled in her pretty eyes, as she said softly

'Well, Mr. Walton, join us here again as soon as you can. We are dull without you,' and she went back again to the dinner table. To my sight, fresh from the sparkling cabin, the air seemed pitch dark. I stood at the companion for some moments, waiting for my eyes to get used to this profound blackness. I then saw the rays of the binnacle lamp striking into the thick mist like luminous gold wire. Anon I could faintly distinguish the outline of the bulwarks over against me on the other side, and a fragment of the mainmast where the haze from the skylight fell upon it. But that was all. For the rest, as the French say, I might have had my eyes shut.

This being the second dog-watch, I knew Tripshore would be on deck, so I called his name.

'Here, sir,' he answered, and came to my side.

'Have you kept the lead going?' I asked.

'Yes, sir,' he replied, but we get no bottom.'

'And we want none, Tripshore. Have you seen anything of Purchase?'

'No, sir. His cabin door's to, and I allow he's turned in and asleep.'


'The wind keeps steady,' said I; but so fresh as it is, I wonder it doesn't blow away this mist. The weather is thicker than it was. It's like smoke. I never remember the like of it,' said I, facing to windward a moment, and then gladly turning my back on the blinding, penetrating drizzle.

'The men have grown anxious since Sir Mordaunt talked to 'em,' said Tripshore, after a pause. 'They're not used to weather o' this kind, and they've took it in their heads that Mr. Purchase is all out in his reckonings. His being in drink at a time like this is a bad job, sir.'

'We can manage without him,' said I.

"Why, yes, sir. It 'ud be a poor look-out if we couldn't.'

'If the men,' I continued, were all of them salt-water men like you, they'd find nothing to disturb them in the loss of such a skipper as Purchase. I feel as safe again with that drunken fellow under the deck for good.'

"Oh, it isn't him the men mind,' he exclaimed. 'They reckon nobody aboard knows where we are, and they don't like that.' And small blame to them, thought I, but I said nothing.

However, when the weather clears they'll brighten up with it, I dare say,' he added.

"You will remember, Tripshore,' said I, 'that you had confidence enough in Purchase's reckoning to fancy that I was over uneasy when I told Sir Mordaunt that I should like to see the yacht on the starboard tack.'

"You may be right, sir, though,' said he, quickly.

'In my own mind,' said I, ' I am convinced that we are further to the westward than we know of. I may be wrong. It is because I can't be sure, that I don't insist upon heading away to the norrard.'

'If you'll give the word, I'll put the yacht round at once,' said he. 'Not without Sir Mordaunt's leave. He wants to fetch Kingston as soon as he can, and dislikes the idea of turning tail upon it. When he comes on deck

But before I could finish my sentence he arrived. That is to say, he came up the steps, but stopped before he reached the top of them, and stood there like a man struck blind.


'My God!' he ejaculated, what a night!'

I sung out cheerily, Come along, Sir Mordaunt. It'll not be so black when your sight has lost the glare of the cabin.'

'Oh, are you there, Walton?' he cried, and came on deck, but

remained standing, as I had, in front of the companion.

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'What a night!' he repeated. It is not yet eight o'clock. Who is that near you?'

'Tripshore, sir,' replied the mate.

"What sail is the vessel carrying?'

'Just what you left on her, sir-double-reefed mainsail, and outer and standing jibs. She's snug enough, and wants what she has if she's to ratch with the wind fore and aft her.'

'Ay, and ratch she must,' said I. Tripshore is willing enough now, Sir Mordaunt, to see her on the starboard tack.'

But what's the good of going north, Walton,' he answered, when we are heading well to the east, and when we know from the chart that it is all open sea that way as far as the coast of Africa ? ' 'Unless we have diminished our leeway,' said I.

'There's no change in that, sir,' interrupted Tripshore.

'Our true course now is south-east-by-south. Practically, then, we are steering a course parallel with the trend of the Bahama range. Nay, we are worse off even than that, for the trend of those islands is south-east. If we were certain of our whereabouts then we might find it safe enough to lie as we go. But in this weather, and without an atom of faith in Purchase's calculations, I'm for edging away to the norrard and eastward.'

'Mr. Walton's right, sir,' said Tripshore.

"Why, if you both think the yacht should be put about, let it be done,' said Sir Mordaunt. 'I'll not put my wishes against your judgment.'

The necessary orders were immediately given by Tripshore, whose eagerness was not a little flattering to me after the reception he had given my opinion some hours before. The helm was put up to give the schooner plenty of way, and the brave little vessel, eased of her griping luff, began to snore through the water, whitening it all around until the phosphorus and the foam of it threw out light enough to enable us clearly to see the whole figure of the hull, though within the rails all was as ebony, save where the skylight and the binnacle filled a space of the midnight blackness with a golden haze and shining lines.

The men had to get the yacht round by feeling. They knew where the running gear led, and groped about until they came to the places. When all was ready the helm was put down, and the flying schooner shot into the wind, her mainsail rattling like a roll of thunder, and the great main boom tearing at its hempen bonds like an elephant straining at a lasso. In a few minutes the head-sheets were bowsed taut, and I went to the compass and looked at it with a feeling of relief which I even then thought, and do still think unaccountable, considering that there was nothing but my distrust of Purchase to make me suppose our former course a perilous one.

Sir Mordaunt did not remain long on deck. I told him he could do no good by staying, and that he merely risked his health by exposing himself to the malignant damp of this lukewarm, penetrating mist, and that I should not be long in following him.

And I was as good as my word. For after hanging about the

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