‘Mr. Monson, I wonder if we shall fall in with the “Shark”?’
I shook my head.
‘But why not?’ she exclaimed with a pretty pettishness.
‘She might be yonder at this moment,’ said I, pointing to the light-blue horizon that lined, 佛山桑拿干磨水磨服务 like an edging of glass, the sky upon our starboard beam. ‘Who is to tell? Our field is too big for such a chase.’
‘We shall find them at Table Bay, then,’ she said defiantly.
‘Or rather, let us hope that they will find us there. But suppose we pick the “Shark” up; suppose we are lying in Table Bay when she arrives. What is to happen? What end is to be served? On my honour, if Lady Monson were my wife——’ I snapped my fingers.
‘You are cold-hearted.’
‘I am practical.’
‘You would not extend your hand to lift up one who has fallen.’
‘Do not put it so. The girl I marry will, of course, be an angel.’ Her lips twitched to a smile. ‘If she expands her wings and flies away from me, am I to pick up a blunderbuss with the notion of potting her as she makes sail? No, let her go. She is indeed still an angel, but a bad angel. A 佛山桑拿女qq电话 bad angel is of no use to a man. She poisons his heart, she addles his brains, she renders his sleep loathsome with nightmares, she buries a stiletto in the vitalest part of his honour. Follow her, forsooth! I could be eloquent,’ said I with a young man’s confident laugh, ‘but I must remember that I am talking to Laura Jennings.’
We were interrupted by Wilfrid. He came slowly forking up through the hatch in his long-limbed way, and approached us with excitement in his manner.
‘Mad!’ he cried with a look over his shoulder. ‘Mad, as you say, by George! you were both right, and I’m deuced glad to have made the discovery. Why, here was this fellow, d’ye see, Charles, hanging about me at all hours of the day, free to enter my room at any time when I might be in bed and sound asleep. Confoundedly odd, though.’
‘Are you talking of 佛山桑拿实名登记 Muffin?’ said I.
‘Ay, of Muffin, to be sure.’
‘He’s not gone mad, I hope?’
‘I think so, any way,’ he answered with a wise nod that was made affecting to me by the tremble in his lids, and the childish assumption of shrewdness and knowingness you found in his eyes and the look of his face.
‘What has he done?’ asked Miss Jennings, playing with the leaves of the volume on her knee.
‘Why, he just now came to my cabin,’ answered my cousin, sending a glance at the skylight, ‘and told me that he was weary of his duties as a valet, and desired to be at once released. I said to him, “What do you mean? We’re at sea, man. This is not a house that you can walk out from!” He answered he knew that. He desired to go into the forecastle and work as a sailor—as a sailor! Figure Muffin astride of a lee yardarm in a gale of wind.’ He broke 佛山南海桑拿论坛交流 into one of his short roars of laughter, but immediately grew grave, and proceeded: ‘There was a tone of insolence in the fellow that struck me. It might have been because he had made up his mind, expected that I should refuse, and had come resolved to bounce, even to offensively bounce me into consenting. Besides, too, there was an expression in his eye which satisfied me that yours and Laura’s suspicions were sound—were sound. But I did not need to witness any physical symptom of mental derangement. Enough surely that this sleek, obsequious, ghostly, though somewhat gouty rascal, whom I cannot imagine fit for any post in the world but that of valet, should throw up his comfortable berth with us in the cabin to become what he calls “an ’and.” Ha! ha! ha!’ His vast, odd shout of laughter rang through the yacht from end to 佛山桑拿按摩价格 end.
‘Of course,’ said I, ‘you told him to go forward.’
‘Oh, certainly. I should not love to have a lunatic waiting upon me. Why, damme, there are times when I have let that fellow shave me. But—I say, Charles—Muffin as an ’and, eh?’
He turned on his heel, shaking with laughter, and walked up to Finn, to whom I heard him tell the whole story, though repeatedly interrupting himself with a jerky, noisy shout of merriment. He asked the skipper what work he could put Muffin to, and Finn rumbled out a long answer, but they stood at too great a distance to enable me to catch all that was said. Presently Finn put his head into the companion hatchway and called. After a little Muffin emerged. Wilfrid recoiled when he saw the man, turned his back upon him, and stepped hastily right aft past the wheel. I whispered to Miss Jennings, 佛山桑拿按摩网 ‘Did you mark that? Each will go in terror of the other now, I suppose; Wilfrid because he thinks Muffin mad, and Muffin because he thinks that Wilfrid, should he get to hear the truth, will shoot him.’
‘This way, my lad,’ cried Finn in a Cape-Horn voice, and a half smile that twisted the hole in the middle of his long visage till it looked like the mouth of a plaice. They both went forward and disappeared. The sailors who were at work about the deck stared hard at Muffin as he passed them, shrewdly guessing that something unusual had happened, and not a little astonished to observe the captain conducting him between decks to the mariners’ parlour. Soon the skipper came up, and called to a large, burly, heavily-whiskered man, who, as I had gathered, was a sort of acting boatswain, though I believe he had not signed in that 佛山桑拿会所上门 capacity, but had been appointed by Finn to oversee the crew as being the most experienced sailor on board. The skipper talked with him, and the heavily-whiskered man nodded vehemently with a broad smile that compressed his face into a thousand wrinkles, under the rippling of which his little eyes seemed to founder altogether. Then Finn came aft, and Wilfrid and he fell to pacing the deck.
read; I smoked occasionally, giving her an excuse to leave her book by asking a question, or uttering some commonplace remark. I was lying back in my easy, lounging deck-chair, with my eyes sleepily following the languid sweep of the maintopmast-head, where the truck showed like a circle of hoar frost against the airy blue that floated in its soft cool bright tint to the edges of the sails whose brilliant whiteness seemed to overflow the bolt ropes and frame them with a narrow band of pearl-coloured film, when Miss Jennings suddenly exclaimed, ‘Oh, Mr. Monson, do look!’
I started, and, following the direction of her gaze, spied Muffin standing near the galley rigged out as a sailor. There may have been a slop-chest on board—I cannot tell; perhaps Finn had borrowed the clothes for the fellow from one of the seamen; anyway, there stood Muffin, divested of his genteel frock coat, his gentlemanly cravat and black cloth unmentionables, and equipped in a sailor’s jacket of that period, a coarse coloured shirt, rough duck or canvas breeches, whose bell-shaped extremities entirely concealed his gouty ankles. His head was protected by a nautical straw hat, somewhat battered, with one long ribbon floating down his back, under the brim of which his yellow face showed with the primrose tincture of the Chinaman, whilst his dead black eyes, gazing languishingly our way, looked the deader and the blacker for the plaster-like streak of hair that lay along his brow as though one of the Jacks had scored a line there with a brush steeped in liquid pitch.
‘Heavens, what an actor that fellow would make!’ said I, the laugh that seemed to have risen to my throat lying checked there by wonder and even admiration of the astonishing figure the man cut in his new attire. The burly, heavily-whiskered salt rolled up to him. What Muffin said I could not hear, but there was the air of a respectful bow in the posture of his odd form, and my ear easily imagined the oily tone of his replies to the huge sailor. They crossed to the other side of the deck out of sight.
Shortly afterwards I left my seat to join Wilfrid, and then the first object that I beheld on the port side of the vessel was Muffin washing the side of the galley with a bucket of water at his feet and the heavily-whiskered man looking on. Well, thought I, rounding on my heel with a laugh, ’twill make home the sweeter to him when he gets there, and meanwhile Wilfrid will be free from all further phosphoric visitations.
CHAPTER XV. I BOARD A WRECK.
The time slipped by. Life is monotonous at sea, and, though the days seem to have speeded quickly past when one looks back, they appear to be crawling along on all-fours when one looks ahead. We sighted nothing that carried the least resemblance to the vessel we were in chase of. Within a week we spoke two ships, both Englishmen, one a fine tall black clipper craft from Sydney, New South Wales, full of Colonials bound to the old country for a cruise amongst the sights there; the other a little north-country brig laden down to her chain plates in charge of the very tallest man I ever saw in my life, this side I mean of the giants who go on show, with a roaring voice that smote the ear like the blast of a discharged piece; but neither vessel gave us any news of the ‘Shark’; no craft of the kind had been sighted or heard of by either of them.
It was as I expected. For my part the adventure remained a most ridiculous undertaking, and never more so than when I thought of the speck a ship made in the vast blue eye of the wide ocean. We fell in with some handsome breezes for travelling, several of which drove us through it in thunder with a hill of foam on either quarter and an acre of creaming white spreading under the chaste golden beauty the yacht carried on her stem-head. The wind flashed blue into the violet hollows of the canvas, the curves of whose round breasts shone out past the shadowings to the sun, and rang splitting upon the iron taut rigging of the driven craft with joyous hunting-notes in its echoings as though the chase were in view and there were spirits in the air hallooing us into a madder speeding.
Wilfrid and Finn and I hung over the chart, calculating with sober faces, finding our position to be there and then there and then there, till we worked out an average speed from the hour of our departure that caused the skipper to swear if the ‘Shark’ was not already astern of us she could not be very far ahead, unless a great luck of wind had befallen her; a conjecture scarce fair to put down as a basis to build our figures upon, since it was a hundred to one that her fortune in the shape of breezes had been ours. For, be it remembered, we were in a well-scoured ocean; the winds even north of the ‘rains’ and ‘horse-latitudes’ were in a sense to be reckoned on, with the trades beyond as steady in their way as the indication of a jammed dogvane, and the ‘doldrums’ to follow—the equinoctial belt of catspaws and molten calms where one sailor’s chance was another’s the wide world round.
But so reasoned Finn, and I was not there to say him nay; yet it was difficult to hear him without a sort of mental shrug of the shoulders, though it was a talk to smooth down the raven plume of Wilfrid’s melancholy ‘till it smiled.’ My cousin managed very well without his valet, protested indeed that he felt easier in his spirits since the fellow had gone forward, as though, all unconsciously to himself, he had long been depressed by the funeral face of the man.
‘Besides,’ said he, in his simple, knowing way, with a quivering of the lids that put an expression of almost idiot cunning into the short, pathetic peering of his large protruding eyes, ‘he was with me when my wife left my home; he it was who came to tell me that Lady Monson was not to be found; it was he, too, who put Hope-Kennedy’s letter into my hand, though it was picked up by one of the housemaids. These were thoughts that would float like a cloud of hellish smoke in my brain when he was hanging about me, and so I’m glad to have him out of my sight; yes, I’m the better for his absence. And then,’ he added, lowering his voice, ‘his behaviour proves that he is not sound in his mind.’
That Muffin was as well content with the arrangement as his master I cannot say. They kept him at work forward upon small mean jobs, and he seldom came aft unless it was to lend a hand in pulling upon a rope. Yet after a little I would see him in a dog-watch on the forecastle with a huddle of seamen on the broad grin round him. One special evening I remember when the watch had run out into the dusk, and it might have been within half-an-hour of eight-bells, I arrived on deck from the dinner table and heard, as I supposed, a woman singing forward. The voice was a very good clear soprano, with a quality in it that might have made you imagine a middle-aged lady was tuning up. The song was ‘The Vale of Avoca.’ The concertina accompaniment was fairly played. I listened with astonishment for some time, wondering whether Miss Jennings’ maid had got among the men, and then called to Crimp—
‘Who’s that singing?’ said I.
‘Him they’ve nicknamed the mute,’ said he.
‘Ay! sounds as if he’d swallowed his sister and she was calling out to be released.’
There happened inside this particular week with which I am dealing an incident much too curious not to deserve a place here. All day long it had been blowing a fresh breeze from north-east, but as the sun sank the wind went with him, and about an hour before sunset 佛山桑拿按摩一条龙图片 there was a mild air breathing with scarce weight enough in it to blow the scent off a milkmaid, as sailors say, though it was giving the yacht way as you saw by the creep of the wrinkles at her stem working out from the shadow of the yacht’s form in the water into lines that resembled burnished copper wire in the red western light. Miss Laura and Wilfrid were on deck, and I was leaning over the rail with a pipe in my mouth, all sorts of easy, dreamy fancies slipping into me out of the drowsy passage of the water alongside with its wreath of foam bells eddying or some little cloudy seething of white striking from our wet and flashing side into a surface which hung so glass-like with the crimson tinge in the atmosphere sifting down into it that you fancied you could see a hundred fathoms deep. Presently running my eyes ahead 佛山桑拿哪里好玩 I caught sight of some minute object three or four points away on the weather bow, which every now and again would sparkle like the leap of a flame from the barrel of a musket. I stepped to the companion, picked up the telescope and made the thing out to be a bottle, the glass of which gave back the sunlight in fitful winkings to the twists and turns of it upon the ripples.
‘What are you looking at?’ cried Wilfrid.
‘A bottle,’ I answered.
‘Ho!’ he laughed, ‘what you sailors call a dead marine, ha? What sort of liquor will it have contained, I wonder, and how long has it been overboard?’