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he added, in a lower and softer voice,“ to try and win the girl I love with honour. It will enable me to say to her father, if I win her, "Give her to me. I can offer her as good a home as I ask her to leave."
Harry opened wide his lazy eyes at this expression. “You in love, George ?” he said, half-astonished, half-sneering.
"Why not? You at home think me a dull, plodding, unromantic fellow. Plodding, true. I've plodded for this for the last five years ; but unromantic, no! If you only knew the romances I have imagined, you would laugh at me; and yet not one of them is so good as this reality. Good Lord, Harry! do get up and wish me joy, or hit me, or something. Don't lie there as if you didn't care.”
“Some lady you have met in London, I suppose ?" asked Harry, trying to pump up a little interest.
“No, sir; it is not some lady I have met in London. It is one who But what is the good of talking to you? You don't even listen."
" It is so awfully hot !" "Is it?"
"Is it! And these infernal mosquitos! Look at my hands. They're not fit to be seen. It's enough to drive one mad to think we must stop a month in this beastly place.”
“We need not stop a month,” said George, thoughtfully. “There's & mail from Colon on the 22nd, and if we could charter that schooner in the harbour we might catch it.” "Why the deuce did you not tell me that before ?" said Harry,
“Charter her by all means. Anything to get out of this hole.
"It is very easy to say "charter a schooner,' but in Colombia they don't do things in a hurry.”
It took two days to convince the captain that they really wanted his ship. He had passed most of his days in these countries, and could not understand why any one should be in a hurry. A week or two more or less between his voyages mattered nothing to him; and although he was about three parts laden, and our travellers offered more than he could gain as freight on the vacant space as their passage money, he fought shy of the bargain. It was contrary to all his principles and practice to be in a hurry. At last he yielded.
The day and hour fixed for sailing arrived, and George and Henry went on board with their belongings, and taking possession of two places like rabbit-hutches right aft on each side of the main-deck, which had been allotted to them as their berths, began to unpack what they required for the voyage, and to make themselves as comfortable as they could. The mate, an unwashed mariner, who hailed from Curaçoa, and spoke only the dialect of that island—a mixture of French, Spanish, Dutch, and some other (to me) unknown tongue,
Amheric perhaps-watched them as they proceeded, and when they had quite done asked them what they wanted on board. George replied that they were the passengers going to Colon; and, seeing a boat approaching, inquired if that was the captain coming, whereupon the mate grinned.
Sunset, and no captain. They had discharged the shore-boat in which they came off, and the captain had the only boat belonging to the schooner on shore, so they were obliged to pass the night on board. They got off in a canoe next morning, and George found the captain quietly reclining in a hammock in the office of his consignee. When asked what the deuce he meant by such conduct, he replied that he had no stores for his crew, or money to buy them. The Señor must advance him part of the passage-money.
“Then why on earth did you not say so three days ago ?" The captain shrugged his shoulders and murmured, “ Patience.” “We went on board yesterday,” said George, in a tone of reproach. “ Why?" “Because you promised we should sail at 4 P.M.!"
The idea that a free citizen was to be bound to time appeared too much for the captain. He merely stared stupidly at George, and began to talk about yams and rice, to no one in particular.
"Tell me how much money you want, and get the things directly,” said George.
“$50 will do."
George gave him $30, and bade him get up and buy the stores ; but the captain said, “ Mañana” (to-morrow).
Why not to-day ?” insisted long-suffering George. "It is too late.” “Too late! It is not yet eleven." “ But the market is over.” “Still you can surely get what you want in the shops ?” “No, Señor." “Why not?" “Because I cannot." “But why cannot you ?" “ Because I cannot."
When a Spanish-American gets to "porque no,” in answer to your " porque ?" it is time to give in. No other reply is possible. It is the FINIS of all argument.
George gave it up in despair, and rose betimes next morning to see that the captain went to market. The captain was there before him, and was discovered blind drunk on a heap of yams and plantain he had bought. A bright thought struck George. He would carry
off the skipper and the vegetables to the schooner, and make the former sail as soon as he was sober. But alas ! it was St. Somebody's day, and a fiesta. No one would row or carry for love or money: $2, $5, $10, were offered in vain for a boat. When for 5d. you can get enough raw rum to make and keep self and friend drunk for twelve hours, what is the use of working? When he can sleep anywhere, is sufficiently clad in a pair of old trousers, can steal what he pleases, and is the more koo-tood and petted by the State, the idler, the dirtier and more dissolute he is—why should a free and independent Republican work? Work—oh my philosophic friend !—has no charms of its own. It is only the means for an end. Nous autres work to be famous, to be respected, to have a good house, to give pleasure to our wives, education and a place in the world to our children. We work, nous autres, just for the same reason that we swim when we get into deep waters—we should sink if we did not. But suppose you and I-in suits worth 9d., entitled by public consent to take what we want without the slightest fear of the Middlesex or any other sessionschartered to extort, from a lot of silly foreigners who try to make money, what will keep us for a week, as the price of a few hours' easy toil—if it were quite the thing to have a ragged wife and dirty, neglected children, and after all we were considered as good men and as great persons in the State as Mr. Peabody or the Marquis of Westminster-should we work? I fancy not.
No one in Sta. Martha would work on the fiesta of St. Somebody. The sovereign people gambled and got drunk, the young ladies dressed themselves in their best, and with flowers in their hair came out on the balconies and cleaned their teeth with chew-sticks, (the 'young wood of the lime), whilst the young gentlemen flirted with them from the street below. There are no back drawing-room and conservatory facilities for spooning in Colombia. You must stand in the street and shout your words of endearment up to the balcony.
If it be a high one, a lover with sound lungs has an advantage. It puzzled George for some time to make out why all Colombians had such awfully loud and harsh voices. Having called to mind the Darwinian theory, he discovered the reason. As you cannot mako love without shrieking, those who shriek loudest, marry; and so shrieking is propagated by “natural selection.”
The day after the fiesta some boatmen, who had lost their money and wanted some more to gamble and drink with on Sunday, were prevailed upon to take the captain, his stores, and his two disgusted passengers on board the schooner for the moderate sum of 158. sterlingor 58. apiece for an hour's work in a country where a family can be kept (as such people live) for 1s. 3d. a day.
The schooner, called the Ida, was a good-looking craft, but dirty to a degree. Never mind. The season of the breezes had set in, and they were sure of a spanking wind on their quarter for fourteen hours at least in every twenty-four, Harry had got some French novels from the vice-consul, and was tolerably contented. But George puzzled him. That grave worn look which had settled on his face even as a boy, had left it. There were times now when Harry could almost think his half-brother handsome. “If the prospect of hard work (for the promised partnership was not to be had for nothing) makes such a change in him, how is it that I, with my position and wealth, feel so dull ?” mused the spoiled child. “Who is this girl he wants to marry ? Some commonplace, plodding woman, I'll be bound, as plodding and commonplace as a woman as he is as a man; whom Addy and I will have to endure for a week or two every year.” In a little corner of his heart rose a wish that he might be as successful with Addy now that his travels had made a man of him, as George was pretty sure to be with his commonplace idol; because—hang the fellow !—he always succeeds. And why should not he, Harry the muser, succeed with Addy? It was his mother's darling scheme that they should marry. It was her father's ambition that she should be mistress of Climbury. Addy herself must like him. They had been so much together that she had not found it out. Absence makes the heart grow fonder. These six months of separation would teach her-poor dear little Addy! He had no doubt but that she had
many a time repented of her share in sending him away.
“ TWO MEN SHALL BE SAILING ON THE SEA." They had been five days at sea when George came to Harry's rabbithutch at night, with a grave face, and said -
“You remember that headland we passed the day before yesterday with all the gulls on it, just before we tacked ?”
“No they are not. I noticed that one particularly. Besides, we have no business to be in sight of any land now. I don't half like the captain's goings on, Harry. He's drunk every day.”
“You'd better take command of the ship, as you know so much about it," sneered his brother.
“I don't pretend to know anything about sailing, but this I'd swear, we have passed that same headland twice.”
The crew of the Ida consisted of the captain, who, as George justly said, was drunk every day; the mate, who occasionally kept him company; and three Indians, dressed in strips of canvas ten inches wide, who sat in the forecastle on their hams and gazed at nothing at all in solemn silence. When a rope was pointed out to them they hauled
upon it, until they could haul no more. Then they belayed it and sat down on their hams gazing at nothing as before.
On the night that George mentioned his misgivings, the captain was drunk below, as usual: the mate was steering: the Indians were asleep. The weather was lovely. A sky full of stars—not only the stars you see in Europe on the brightest nights, but thousands of others, unseen save as attendants on the Southern Cross. just a pleasant swell on the sea, and breeze enough to make you feel you were going, without giving the faintest-hearted landsman a qualm of sickness. George leaned over the bulwark thinking—no matter of what; not of the Southern Cross, or the sea, or the breeze; gradually a feeling of oppression stole over him. The air, hitherto so brisk, seemed to have become dull and heavy. Why did his head ache so ? He had not slept the night before, thinking of that drunken brute below, and he would turn in. As he moved to do so the schooner gave an unusual roll. He looked up, and saw the mainsail flapping idly about. The wind had dropped entirely. But what had become of the stars? What was the meaning of that unearthly stillness? What meant that cold shudder which passed through him—that sense, in the midst of perfect calm, of some fearful force hanging overhead ready to burst upon them?
He soon knew. Looking to where had been to leeward whilst the breeze blew, he saw something like a white wall rapidly approaching the ship. The mainsail still flapped idly, but he heard the roar of a tempest. In another moment it reached them, and had he not been thrown against and clutched the companion railing, he would have been washed from the deck. Two reports, as of cannon, followed, and a crash. The maintop-mast was carried away, the jib and foresail had disappeared; but sail having been shortened by the summary process, the schooner righted and plunged on over the now furious sea.
The drunken captain rushed on deck, revolver in hand, shouting Murder ! and seeing what had happened, fell on his knees and began to pray to something-apparently a piece of dirt—which hung around his neck. The mate held on to the wheel and did his best to keep the ship from broaching to. Still, sea after sea broke over her. Harry had hardly staggered from his rabbit-hutch, when it was swept away as cleanly as you would slice an onion. The poor Indians huddled together and groaned. Nothing could be done, even if there were any one capable of giving the command. The schooner went where the tempest pleased, and the tempest pleased to fling her like a cork upon the rocks, not a mile from that headland George had noticed, and which was full a hundred miles out of her proper course. The last thing George remembered was seizing a rope and fastening himself to Harry. Then he was in the water struggling for his life; next, dashed upon the shore with just enough sense left to clutch at what