Did he, then, think that the Southern States, eight out of thirty-six, were right in separating when they had been voluntarily united? Not so; he detested the Northerners, and that was all; he detested them as brothers separated from the common family — true Englishmen — who had thought it right to do what he, James Playfair, disapproved of with regard to the United States: these were the political opinions of the Captain of the Dolphin. But, more than this, the American war interfered with him personally, and he had a grudge against those who had caused this war; one can understand, then, how he would receive a proposition to deliver an Abolitionist, thus bringing down on him the Confederates, with whom he pretended to do business.
However, Crockston’s insinuation did not fail to disturb him; he cast the thought from him, but it returned unceasingly to his mind, and when Miss Jenny came on deck the next day for a few minutes, he dared not look her in the face.
And really it was a great pity, for this young girl, with the fair hair and sweet, intelligent face, deserved to be looked at by a young man of thirty. But James felt embarrassed in her presence; he felt that this charming creature who had been educated in the school of misfortune possessed a strong and generous soul; he understood that his silence towards her inferred a refusal to acquiesce in her dearest wishes; besides, Miss Jenny never looked out for James Playfair, neither did she avoid him. Thus for the first few days they spoke little or not at all to each other. Miss Halliburtt scarcely ever left her cabin, and it is certain she would never have addressed herself to the Captain of the Dolphin if it had not been for Crockston’s strategy, which brought both parties together.
The worthy American was a faithful servant of the Halliburtt family; he had been brought up in his master’s house, and his devotion knew no bounds. His good sense equalled his courage and energy, and, as has been seen, he had a way of looking things straight in the face. He was very seldom discouraged, and could generally find a way out of the most intricate dangers with a wonderful skill.
This honest fellow had taken it into his head to deliver Mr. Halliburtt, to employ the Captain’s ship, and the Captain himself for this purpose, and to return with him to England. Such was his intention, so long as the young girl had no other object than to rejoin her father and share his captivity. It was this Crockston tried to make the Captain understand, as we have seen, but the enemy had not yet surrendered; on the contrary.
“Now,” said he, “it is absolutely necessary that Miss Jenny and the Captain come to an understanding; if they are going to be sulky like this all the passage we shall get nothing done. They must speak, discuss; let them dispute even, so long as they talk, and I’ll be hanged if during their conversation James Playfair does not propose himself what he refused me to-day.”
But when Crockston saw that the young girl and the young man avoided each other, he began to be perplexed.
“We must look sharp,” said he to himself, and the morning of the fourth day he entered Miss Halliburtt’s cabin, rubbing his hands with an air of perfect satisfaction.
“Good news!” cried he, “good news! You will never guess what the Captain has proposed to me. A very noble young man he is. Now try.”
“Ah!” replied Jenny, whose heart beat violently, “has he proposed to — ”
“To deliver Mr. Halliburtt, to carry him off from the Confederates, and bring him to England.”
“Is it true?” cried Jenny.
“It is as I say, miss. What a good-hearted man this James Playfair is! These English are either all good or all bad. Ah! he may reckon on my gratitude, and I am ready to cut myself in pieces if it would please him.”
Jenny’s joy was profound on hearing Crockston’s words. Deliver her father! She had never dared to think of such a plan, and the Captain of the Dolphin was going to risk his ship and crew!
“That’s what he is,” added Crockston; “and this, Miss Jenny, is well worth an acknowledgment from you.”
“More than an acknowledgment,” cried the young girl; “a lasting friendship!”
And immediately she left the cabin to find James Playfair, and express to him the sentiments which flowed from her heart.