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In process of time they made acquaintances who proposed correspondence. At Bath, for example, when Silvia was there for a week or two in the winter with an ancient maiden aunt, she got into several difficulties. Aunt Cornelia was an inveterate novel reader, and sent her niece to a library in Milsom Street to get some dreadful story of the day. Silvia asked for it. The polite young gentleman behind the counter pointed it out to her.
“Excuse me," she said. “Be good enough to take it down for me. I cannot read."
Incredulous, he smiled, but did as he was bid. He was however so muddled by her averment that he gave her two volumes, the first and third of one novel, with the second of another sandwiched between them. Aunt Cornelia did not find it out.
On another occasion she met a young gentleman of the Captain Absolute type, who fell over head and heels in love with her. He was a Cornish man with Irish blood, on
the mother's side, and his name was Tigernach Tregarva. He was about seven feet high, and looked as if he had lately come from Brobdignag T. T. was a gentleman, though rather a dull one, and he made hot love to our Silvia one night at the Assembly Rooms, when Aunt Cornelia was playing whist. Next morning she got a letter from him, a mad mixture of prose and verse, expressing his belief that she was an angel, and his determination to die that day if he could not be her husband. Silvia called her maid, Dorothy Chalker, to read it to her ; and having heard it read, and laughed over it, made Dorothy reply. Thus ran the maid's answer, verbatim et literatim.
“Sir,-My Missus says she isnt a hangle, and thinks you uses opprobriocious language. Likewige if you is such a fule as to dye before my letter reaches you, who is it to be delivered to ? My Miss Sylvia never writes nor reads, which is because she thinks those things befit lawyers and parsons and milliners and such, and she hopes you'll marry a lady of your own sect, and be happy for ever more, which comes hopping from your umble servent,
“ DOROTHY CHALKER."
The brother and sister were both fond of the society of Musical Willie, whom the lapse of years rendered gayer and more musical. There are some men whose happy destiny it is to laugh through life; careless fellows, who make fun of their own troubles, realizing the old dramatist's couplet, which I quote, with a difference
What need of music, comic songs, and sherry,
Willie's cheery talk and pleasant songs were peculiarly agreeable to Silvester, himself on the whole more seriously inclined; and they had many an afternoon together on the sands at Mount St. Nicholas, where the beach is on both sides walled in by tall red cliffs, that seem to shut the outlet of the little village from all the rest of the world.
One day they were thus loitering and discoursing, Willie (who was a Scot, after all) proving ore rotundo that Burns was at least equal to Shakespeare, when they saw a little undecked boat, long and sharp in its build, with a lateen sail such as you see on the Mediterranean, rapidly approaching the long narrow pier used by the fishermen.
“ That's a curious craft,” said Willie. “Foreign, I suppose,” said Silvester.
They watched the new arrival with interest. There was only one person on board, a tall black-bearded man, who wore a white shirt and duck trousers, and a broad-brimmed grass hat. He took in the sail, unstepped the mast, tied his boat to the pier, and walked rather slowly to the beech. “ A foreign invader,” said Willie.
Very like a pirate,” quoth Silvester. That boat is an Italian rig, if one may trust the pictures of such things.
“ I dare say the phaselus your favourite poet built was just such another."
Meanwhile the new comer was approaching them, and they could see he was a man about forty, built very much on the model of the Son of Alkmene, θρασυμέμνων, θυμολέων. Ας he came near they could see a pair of pistols in his leathern belt, and a sharp, long stiletto without a sheath. As Silvester had remarked, he did look slightly piratical. But he raised his hat to them in polite fashion, showing a thick crop of black hair, cut very short, and said, in excellent English,
“I beg your pardon, gentlemen, but is this Mount St. Nicholas ? "
Willie said it was, and asked if he could be of
any service to him.
“ You are very kind,” he replied. “I have been away from England almost twenty years, , and am come here to look for the only relation I have in the world, so far as I know. His name is Nairn."
Why, it can't be!” exclaimed Musical Willie, in an excited mood. 66 You're not