He did not do so, however, and I was not disposed to seek a further explanation.
At seven o’clock in the evening of the 14th of August, the island being already wrapped in darkness, I was walking on the port after I had dined, walking briskly too, for it was cold, although dry weather. The sky was studded with stars and the air was very keen. I could not stay out long, and was returning to mine inn, when a man crossed my path, paused, came back, and stopped in front of me. It was the captain of the Halbrane.
“Mr. Jeorling,” he began, “the Halbrane sails tomorrow morning, with the ebb tide.”
“What is the good of telling me that,” I replied, “since you refuse—”
“Sir, I have thought over it, and if you have not changed your mind, come on board at seven o’clock.”
“Really, captain,” I replied, “I did not expect this relenting on your part.”
“I repeat that I have thought over it, and I add that the Halbrane shall proceed direct to Tristan d’Acunha. That will suit you, I suppose?”
“To perfection, captain. To-morrow morning, at seven o’clock, I shall be on board.”
“Your cabin is prepared.”
“The cost of the voyage—”
“We can settle that another time,” answered the captain, “and to your satisfaction. Until to-morrow, then—”
I stretched out my arm, to shake hands with him upon our bargain. Perhaps he did not perceive my movement in the darkness, at all events he made no response to it, but walked rapidly away and got into his boat.
I was greatly surprised, and so was Arkins, when I found him in the eating-room of the Green Cormorant and told him what had occurred. His comment upon it was characteristic.
“This queer captain,” he said, “is as full of whims as a spoilt child! It is to be hoped he will not change his mind again at the last moment.”
The next morning at daybreak I bade adieu to the Green Cormorant, and went down to the port, with my kind-hearted host, who insisted on accompanying me to the ship, partly in order to make his mind easy respecting the sincerity of the captain’s repentance, and partly that he might take leave of him, and also of Hurliguerly. A boat was waiting at the quay, and we reached the ship in a few minutes.
The first person whom I met on the deck was Hurliguerly; he gave me a look of triumph, which said as plainly as speech: “Ha! you see now. Our hard-to-manage captain has given in at last. And to whom do you owe this, but to the good boatswain who did his best for you, and did not boast overmuch of his influence?”
Was this the truth? I had strong reasons for doubting it. After all, what did it matter?
Captain Len Guy came on deck immediately after my arrival; this was not surprising, except for the fact that he did not appear to remark my presence.
Atkins then approached the captain and said in a pleasant tone,—
“We shall meet next year!”
“If it please God, Atkins.”
They shook hands. Then the boatswain took a hearty leave of the innkeeper, and was rowed back to the quay.
Before dark the white summits of Table Mount and Havergal, which rise, the former to two, the other to three thousand feet above the level of the sea, had disappeared from our view.
(1) Thomas D’Arcy McGee. (J.V.)
FROM THE KERGUELEN ISLES TO PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND
Never did a voyage begin more prosperously, or a passenger start in better spirits. The interior of the Halbrane corresponded with its exterior. Nothing could exceed the perfect order, the Dutch cleanliness of the vessel. The captain’s cabin, and that of the lieutenant, one on the port, the other on the starboard side, were fitted up with a narrow berth, a cupboard anything but capacious, an arm-chair, a fixed table, a lamp hung from the ceiling, various nautical instruments, a barometer, a thermometer, a chronometer, and a sextant in its oaken box. One of the two other cabins was prepared to receive me. It was eight feet in length, five in breadth. I was accustomed to the exigencies of sea life, and could do with its narrow proportions, also with its furniture—a table, a cupboard, a cane-bottomed arm-chair, a washing-stand on an iron pedestal, and a berth to which a less accommodating passenger would doubtless have objected.