Both the parted lovers were wretched. Julia never complained, but drooped, and read the Psalms, and Edward detected her in tears over them. He questioned her and obtained a lame account; she being far more bent on screening Alfred than on telling the truth.
Edward called on the other; and found him disconsolate, and reading a Heathen philosopher for comfort, and finding none. Edward questioned him, and he was reserved and even sulky. Sir Imperturbable persisted quietly, and he exploded, and out came his wrongs. Edward replied that he was a pretty fellow: wanted it all his own way. “Suppose my mother, with her present feelings, was to take a leaf out of your book, and use all her power; where would you be then? Come, old fellow, I know what love is, and one of us shall have the girl he loves, unless any harm should come to my poor father owing to your blunder — oh, that would put it out of the question, I feel — but let us hope better. I pulled you out of the fire, and somehow I seem to like you better than ever after that; let me pull you out of this mess too.”
“Pull away,” cried the impetuous youth. “I’ll trust you with my life: ay, with more than my life, with my love; for you are the man for me: reason is always uppermost with you:
Give me the man that is not passion’s slave,
And I will wear him in my heart’s core, ay ——”
“Oh bother that. If you are in earnest, don’t mouth, but put on your hat and come over.”
He assented; but in the middle of putting on his coat, made this little observation: “Now I see how wise the ancients were: yes, friendship is better than love; calmer, more constant, free from the heats and chills of that impetuous passion; its pure bosom is ruffled by none of love’s jealousies and irritabilities. Solem e mundo tollunt qui tollunt amicitiam.”
“Oh bother quoting; come and shake hands with Julia.” They went over; Mrs. Dodd was in the city. Edward ushered in Alfred, saying, “Here is the other Impetuosity;” and sagely retired for a few minutes. When he came back they were sitting hand in hand, he gazing on her, she inspecting the carpet. “That is all right,” said Edward drily: “now the next thing is, you must go back to Oxford directly, and read for your first class.”
The proposal fell like a blight upon the reconciled lovers. But Edward gave potent reasons. The delays of law were endless: Alfred’s defendant had already obtained one postponement of the trial on frivolous grounds. Now the Oxford examination and Doncaster races come on at a fixed date, by a Law of Nature, and admit of no “postponement swindle.” “You mark my words, you will get your class before you will get your trial, and it won’t hurt you to go into court a first-class man: will it? And then you won’t quarrel by letter, you two; I know. Come, will you do what I tell you: or is friendship but a name? eh, Mr. Bombast?” He ended with great though quiet force: “Come, you two, which is better, to part like the scissors, or part like the thread?”
Similes are no arguments; that is why they convince people so: Alfred capitulated to the scissors and thread; and only asked with abnormal humility to be allowed to taste the joys of reconciliation for two days. The third found him at Oxford; he called on the head of his college to explain what had prevented his return to Exeter in the October term twelve months ago, and asked for rooms. Instead of siding with a man of his own college so cruelly injured, the dignitary was alarmed by the bare accusation, and said he must consider: insanity was a terrible thing.
“So is false accusation, and so is false imprisonment,” said Hardie bitterly.
“Unquestionably. But I have at present no means of deciding how far those words apply.” In short, he could give no answer; must consult the other officers, and would convey the result by letter.
Alfred’s pride was deeply mortified, not less by a certain cold repugnant manner than by the words. And there came over his heart a sickening feeling that he was now in the eyes of men an intellectual leper.
He went to another college directly, and applied to the vice-president, the vice-president sent him with a letter to the dean; the dean looked frightened; and told him hesitatingly the college was full; he might put his name down, and perhaps get in next year. Alfred retired, and learned from the porter that the college was not full. He sighed deeply, and the sickening feeling grew on him; an ineradicable stigma seemed upon him, and Mrs. Dodd was no worse than the rest of the world then; every mother in England would approve her resolutions. He wandered about the scenes of his intellectual triumphs: he stood in the great square of the schools, a place ugly to unprejudiced eyes, but withal somewhat grand and inspiring, especially to scholars who have fought their keen and bloodless battles there. He looked at the windows and gilt inscription of the Schola Metaphysices, in which he had met the scholars of his day and defeated them for the Ireland. He wandered into the theatre, and eyed the rostrum, whence he had not mumbled, but recited, his Latin prize poem with more than one thunder of academic applause: thunder compared with which Drury Lane’s us a mere cracker. These places were unchanged; but he, sad scholar, wandered among them as if he was a ghost, and all these were stony phantoms of an intellectual past, never, never to return.
He telegraphed Sampson and Edward to furnish him with certificates that he had never been insane, but the victim of a foul conspiracy; and, when he received them, he went with them to St. Margaret’s Hall; for he had bethought him that the new principal was a first-rate man, and had openly vowed he would raise that “refuge for the oft-times phoughed” to a place of learning.
Hardie called, sent in his card, and was admitted to the principal’s study. He was about to explain who he was, when the doctor interrupted him, and told him politely he knew him by reputation. “Tell me rather,” said he shrewdly, “to what I owe this application from an undergraduate so distinguished as Mr. Hardie?”
Then Alfred began to quake, and, instead of replying, put a hand suddenly before his face, and lost courage for one moment.
“Come, Mr. Hardie,” said the principal, “don’t be disconcerted: a fault regretted is half atoned; and I am not disposed to be hard on the errors of youth; I mean where there is merit to balance them.”
“Sir,” said Alfred sadly, “it is not a fault I have to acknowledge, but a misfortune.”
“Tell me all about it,” said Dr. Alder guardedly.
He told it, omitting nothing essential that could touch the heart or excite the ironical humour of an academician.
Well, ‘truth is more wonderful than fiction,’” said the doctor. And I conclude the readers of this tale are all of the doctor’s opinion; so sweet to the mind is cant.
Alfred offered his certificates.
Now Dr. Alder had been asking himself in what phrases he should decline this young genius, who was sane now, but of course had been mad, only had forgotten the circumstance. But the temptation to get an Ireland scholar into his Hall suddenly overpowered him. The probability that he might get a first-class in a lucid interval was too enticing; nothing venture, nothing have. He determined to venture a good deal.
“Mr. Hardie,” said he, “this house shall always be open to good morals and good scholarship while I preside over it, and it shall be open to them all the more when they come to me dignified, and made sacred, by ‘unmerited calamity.’”
Now this fine speech, like Minerva herself, came from the head. Alfred was overcome by it to tears. At that the doctor’s heart was touched, and even began to fancy it had originated that noble speech.
It was no use doing things by halves; so Dr. Alder gave Alfred a delightful set of rooms; and made the Hall pleasant to him. He was rewarded by a growing conviction that he had made an excellent acquisition. This opinion, however, was anything but universal: and Alfred finding the men of his own college suspected his sanity, and passed jokes behind his back, cut them all dead, and confined himself to his little Hall. There they petted him, and crowed about him, and betted on him for the schools as freely as if he was a colt the Hall was going to enter for the Derby.
He read hard, and judiciously, but without his old confidence: he became anxious and doubtful; he had seen so many first-rate men just miss a first-class. The brilliant creature analysed all his Aristotelian treatises, and wrote the synopses clear with marginal references on great pasteboard cards three feet by two, and so kept the whole subject before his eye, till he obtained a singular mastery. Same system with the historians: nor did he disdain the use of coloured inks. Then the brilliant creature drew lists of all the hard words he encountered in his reading, especially in the common books, and read these lists till mastered. The stake was singularly heavy in his case, so he guarded every crevice.
And at this period he was not so unhappy as he expected. The laborious days went swiftly, and twice a week at least came a letter from Julia. Oh, how his grave academic room with oaken panels did brighten, when her letter lay on the table. It was opened, and seemed written with sunbeams. No quarrels on paper! Absence made the heart grow fonder. And Edward came to see him, and over their wine let out a feminine trait in Julia. “When Hurd calls, she walks out of the room, just as my poor mother does when you come. That is spite: since you are sent away, nobody else is to profit by it. Where is her Christianity, eh? and echo answers — Got a cigar, old fellow?” And, after puffing in silence awhile, he said resignedly, “I am an unnatural monster.”
“Oh, are you?” said the other serenely; for he was also under the benign influence.
“Yes,” said Edward, “I am your ally, and a mere spy in the camp of those two ladies. I watch all their moves for your sake.”
Alfred forgave him. And thus his whole life was changed, and for nearly twelve months (for Dr. Alder let him reside in the Hall through the vacation) he pursued the quiet tenor of a student’s life, interrupted at times by law; but that is another topic.
WIFE AND NO WIFE.
Mrs. Dodd was visibly shaken by that calamity which made her shrink with horror from the sight of Alfred Hardie. In the winter she was so unwell that she gave up her duties with Messrs. Cross and Co. Her connection with them had been creditable to both parties. I believe I forgot to say why they trusted her so; well, I must tell it elsewhere. David off her hands, she was independent, and had lost the motive and the heart for severe work. She told the partners she could no longer do them justice, and left them, to their regret. They then advised her to set up as a milliner, and offered her credit for goods at cash prices up to two thousand pounds. She thanked them like a sorrowful queen, and went her way.
In the spring she recovered some spirit and health; but at midsummer a great and subtle misfortune befell her. Her mind was bent on David night and day, and used to struggle to evade the laws of space that bind its grosser companion, and find her lost husband on the sea. She often dreamt of him, but vaguely. But one fatal night she had a dream as clear as daylight, and sharp as white pebbles in the sun. She was on a large ship with guns; she saw men bring a dead sailor up the side; she saw all their faces, and the dead man’s too. It was David. His face was white. A clear voice said he was to be buried in the deep next morning. She saw the deck at her feet, the breeches of the guns, so clear, so defined, that, when she awoke, and found herself in the dark, she thought reality was the illusion. She told the dream to Julia and Edward. They tried to encourage her, in vain. “I saw him,” she said, “I saw him; it was a vision, not a dream; my David is dead. Well, then, I shall not be long behind him.”
Dr. Sampson ridiculed her dream to her face. But to her children he told another story. “I am anxious about her,” he said, “most anxious. There is no mortal ill the distempered brain may not cause. Is it not devilish we can hear nothing of him? She will fret herself into the grave, as sure as fate, if something does not turn up.”
Her children could not console her; they tried, but something hung round their own hearts, and chilled every effort. In a word, they shared her fears. How came she to see him on board a ship with guns? In her waking hours she always said he was on a merchant ship. Was it not one of those visions, which come to mortals and give them sometimes a peep into Space, and, far more rarely, a glance into Time?
One day in the autumn, Alfred, being in town on law business, met what seemed the ghost of Mrs. Dodd in the streets. She saw him not; her eye was on that ghastly face she had seen in her dreams. It flashed through his mind that she would not live long to part him and Julia. But he discouraged the ungenerous thought; almost forgave her repugnance to himself, and felt it would be worse than useless to ask Julia to leave her mother, who was leaving her visibly.
But her horror of him was anything but softened; and she used to tell Dr. Sampson she thought the sight of that man would kill her now. Edward himself began to hope Alfred would turn his affections elsewhere. The house in Pembroke Street was truly the house of mourning now; all their calamities were light compared with this.
THE DISTRICT VISITOR.
While Julia was writing letters to keep up Alfred’s heart, she was very sad herself Moreover, he had left her for Oxford but a very few days, when she received an anonymous letter; her first. It was written in a female hand, and couched in friendly and sympathetic terms. The writer thought it only fair to warn her that Mr. Alfred Hardie was passionately fond of a lady in the asylum, and had offered her marriage. If Miss Dodd wished to be deceived, let her burn this letter and think no more of it; if not, let her insert this advertisement in the Times: “The whole Truth. — L. D.,” and her correspondent would communicate particulars by word or writing.
What a barbed and poisoned arrow is to the body, was this letter to Julia’s mind. She sat cold as a stone with this poison in her hand. Then came an impetuous impulse to send it down to Alfred, and request him to transfer the other half of his heart to his lady of the asylum. Then she paused; and remembered how much unjust suspicion had been levelled at him already. What right had she to insult him? She would try and keep the letter to herself. As to acting upon it, her good sense speedily suggested it came from the rival in question, real or supposed. “She wants to make use of me,” said Julia; “it is plain Alfred does not care much for her; or why does she come to me?” She put the letter in her desk, and it rankled in her heart. Hoeret lateri lethalis arundo. She trembled at herself; she felt a savage passion had been touched in her. She prayed day and night against jealousy.
But I must now, to justify my heading, skip some months, and relate a remarkable incident that befell her in the said character. On the first of August in this year, a good Christian woman, one of her patients, asked her to call on Mr. Barkington, that lodged above. “He is a decent body, miss, and between you and me, I think his complaint is, he don’t get quite enough to eat.”
“Barkington!” said Julia, and put her hand to her bosom. She went and tapped at his door.
“Come in,” said a shrillish voice.
She entered, and found a weazened old man seated, mending his own coat.
He rose, and she told him she was a district visitor. He said he had heard of her; they called her the beautiful lady in that court. This was news to her, and made her blush. She asked leave to read a chapter to him; he listened as to some gentle memory of childhood. She prescribed him a glass of port wine, and dispensed it on the instant. Thus physicked, her patient became communicative, and chattered on about his native place — but did not name it — and talked about the people there. Now our district visitor was, if the truth must be told, a compounder. She would permit her pupils to talk about earthly affairs, on condition they would listen to heavenly ones before she went. So she let this old man run on, and he told her he had been a banker’s clerk all his life, and saved a thousand pounds, and come up to London to make his fortune on the Stock Exchange; and there he was sometimes a bull, and sometimes a bear, and whichever he was, certain foxes called brokers and jobbers got the profit and he the loss. “It’s all the same as a gambling-table,” said he. “The jobbers and brokers have got the same odds the bank has at Rouge et Noir, and the little capitalist like me is doomed beforehand.” Then he told her that there was a crossing-sweeper near the Exchange who came from his native place, and had started as a speculator, and come down to that. Only he called it rising, and used to speak with a shudder of when he dabbled in the funds, and often told him to look sharp, and get a crossing. And lo! one day when he was cleaned out, and desperate, and hovering with the other ghosts of little capitalists about the tomb of their money, he saw his countryman fall flat, and the broom fly out of his hand. Instantly he made a rush, and so did a wooden-legged sailor; but he got first to the broom, and began to sweep while others picked up his countryman, who proved dead as a herring; and he succeeded to his broom, and it made money by the Exchange, though he never could. Still, one day he picked up a pocket-book in that neighbourhood, with a lump of money, which he straightway advertised in-no newspapers. And now, Julia thought it time to interpose the eighth commandment, the golden rule, and such branches of learning.
He became a favourite of hers: he had so much to say: she even thought she had seen his face before: but she could not tell where. She gave him good books and tracts; and read to him, and ploughed his heart with her sweet voice, and sowed the good seed in the furrows — seed which, like wheat or other grain, often seems to fall flat and die, but comes out green after many days.
One Saturday she invited him to dine with the servants next day. He came during church time, and went away in the afternoon while she was with her mother. But she asked Sarah, who proved eager to talk about him. “He was a rum customer; kept asking questions all dinner time. ‘Well,’ says I, ‘you’re good company you are; be you a lawyer; for you examines us; but you don’t tell us nothing.’ Ye see, Miss, Jane she is that simple, she was telling him everything, and about Mr. Alfred’s lawsuit with his father and all.”
Julia said that was indiscreet; but after all what did it matter?
“Who knows, Miss?” Sarah replied: “least said is soonest mended. If you please, Miss, who is he? Where does he bide? Where does he come from? Does he know Hardies?”
“I should think not. Why?”
“Because I’m much mistaken if he doesn’t.” Then putting on a stolid look, she asked, “Does he know your papa?”
“Oh no, Sarah. How should he?”
“There now,” said Sarah; “Miss, you are all in the dark about this old man: I’ll tell you something; I took him out of the way of Jane’s temper when she began a dishing up, and I had him into the parlour for a minute; and in course there he sees the picture of your poor papa hung up. Miss, if you’ll believe me, the moment he claps eyes on that there picture, he halloes out, and out goes his two hands like this here. ‘It’s him!’ says he; ‘it’s him!’ and stares at the picture like a stuck pig. Forgot I was close behind him, I do believe. ‘She’s his daughter,’ says he, in a whisper, a curious whisper; seemed to come out of his stomack. ‘What’s the matter now?’ says I, just so. He gave a great start, as if my speaking had wakened him from a dream, and says he, ‘nothing,’ as quiet as a lamb. ‘Nothing isn’t much,’ says I, just so. ‘It usedn’t to be anything at all when I was your age,’ says he, sneering. But I paid him a good coin: says I, ‘Old man, where you comes from do the folks use to start and hallo out and cry “It’s him! she’s his daughter!” and fling their two arms abroad like a wiumdmill in March, and all for — nothing?’ So at that he changed as white as my smock, and fell all of a tremble. However, at dinner he perks up, and drew that poor simple Jane out a good one. But he didn’t look towards me much, which I set opposite to watch my lord.”
“Sarah,” said Julia, “this is really curious, mysterious; you are a good, watchful, faithful girl; and, to tell the truth, I sometimes fancy I have seen Mr. Barkington’s face. However, I will solve this little mystery tomorrow; for I will ask him: thank you, Sarah.”
On Monday she called on Mr. Barkington to solve the mystery. But, instead of solving, her visit thickened it: for Mr. Barkington was gone bag and baggage. When Edward was told of this business, he thought it remarkable, and regretted he had not seen the old man.
So do I; for it is my belief Edward would have recognised him.
The history of a man is the history of his mind. And that is why you have heard so little of late about the simplest, noblest, and most unfortunate of all my personages. Insanity is as various as eccentricity. I have spared the kind-hearted reader some of David’s vagaries. However, when we parted with him, he had settled into that strange phase of lunacy, in which the distant past seems nearly obliterated, and memory exists, but revolves in a narrow round of things present: this was accompanied with a positive illusion, to wit, a fixed idea that he was an able seaman: and, as usual, what mental power he retained came out strongest in support of this idea. All this was marked by a bodily agility somewhat more than natural in a man of his age. Owing to the wind astern, he was enabled to run into Portsmouth before the steam-tug came up with him: and he did run into port, not because he feared pursuit, but because he was desperately hungry; and he had no suicidal tendencies whatever.
He made for a public-house, and called for some bread and cheese and beer; they were supplied, and then lo! he had no money to pay for them. “I’ll owe you till I come back from sea, my bo,” said he coolly. On this the landlord collared him, and David shook him off into the road, much as a terrier throws a rat from him; then there was a row, and a naval officer, who was cruising about for hands, came up and heard it. There was nothing at all unseamanlike in David’s conduct, and the gentleman took a favourable view of it, and paid the small demand; but not with unleavened motives. He was the second lieutenant of H. M. frigate Vulture; she had a bad name, thanks to her last captain, and was short of hands: he took David aside and asked him would he like to ship on board the Vulture.
David said yes, and suggested the foretop. “Oh yes,” growled the lieutenant, “you all want to be there.” He then gauged this Jacky Tar’s intellects; asked him inter alia how to send a frigate’s foretop gallant yard down upon deck: and to show how seamanship sticks in the brain when once it gets there, David actually told him. “You are rather old,” said the lieutenant, “but you are a seaman:” and so took him on board the Vulture at Spithead, before Green began to search the town in earnest. Nobody acts his part better than some demented persons do: and David made a very tolerable sailor notwithstanding his forty-five years: and the sea did him good within certain limits. Between him and the past lay some intellectual or cerebral barrier as impenetrable as the great wall of China; but on the hither side of that wall his faculties improved. Of course, the crew soon found out the gap in his poor brain, and called him Soft Billy, and played on him at first. But by degrees he won their affection; he was so wonderfully sweet-tempered: and besides his mind being in an abnormal state, he loathed grog, and gave his allowance to his messmates. One day he showed an unexpected trait; they were lying becalmed in southern latitudes, and, time hanging heavily, each wiled it how he might: one fiddled, another wrote to his Polly, another fished for sharks, another whistled for a wind, scores fell into the form of meditation without the reality, and one got a piece of yarn and amused himself killing flies on the bulwark. Now this shocked poor Billy: he put out his long arm and intercepted a stroke. “What is the row?” said the operator.
“You mustn’t,” said Billy solemnly, looking into his face with great dreamy eyes.
“You be —— ” said the other, and lent him a tap on the cheek with the yarn. Billy did not seem to mind this; his skin had little sensibility, owing to his disorder.
Jack recommenced on his flies, and the bystanders laughed. They always laughed now at everything Billy said, as Society used to laugh when the late Theodore Hook asked for the mustard at dinner; and would have laughed if he had said, “You see me sad, I have just lost my poor father.”
David stood looking on at the slaughter with a helpless puzzled air.
At last he seemed to have an idea, he caught Jack up by the throat and knee, lifted him with gigantic strength above his head, and was just going to hurl him shrieking into the sea, when a dozen strong hands interfered, and saved the man. Then they were going to bind Billy hand and foot; but he was discovered to be perfectly calm; so they remonstrated instead, and presently Billy’s commander-inchief, a ship-boy called Georgie White, shoved in and asked him in a shrill haughty voice how he dared do that. “My dear,” said Billy, with great humility and placidity, “he was killing God’s creatures, no allowance: 25 so, ye see, to save their lives, I was obliged.”
25 Nautical phrase, meaning without stint or limit, or niggardly admeasurement as there is of grog.
At this piece of reasoning, and the simplicity and gentle conviction with which it was delivered, there was a roar. It subsided, and a doubt arose whether Billy was altogether in the wrong.
“Well,” said one, “I daresay life is sweet to them little creatures, if they could speak their minds.”
“I’ve known a ship founder in a fair breeze all along of killing ’em,” said one old salt.
Finally, several sided with Billy, and intimated that “it served the lubber right for not listening to reason.” And, indeed, methinks it was lovely and touching that so divine a ray of goodness and superior reason should have shot from his heart or from Heaven across that poor benighted brain.
But it must be owned his mode of showing his humanity was somewhat excessive and abnormal, and smacked of lunacy. After this, however, the affection of his messmates was not so contemptuous.
Now the captain of the Vulture was Billy’s cousin by marriage. Reginald Bazalgette. Twenty years ago, when the captain was a boy, they were great friends: of late Bazalgette had seen less of him; still it seems strange he did not recognise him in his own ship. But one or two causes cooperated to prevent that. In the first place, the mind when turned in one direction is not so sharp in another; and Captain Bazalgette had been told to look for David in a merchant ship bound for the East Indies. In the next place, insanity alters the expression of the face wonderfully, and the captain of a frigate runs his eye over four hundred sailors at muster, or a hundred at work, not to examine their features, but their dress and bearing at the one, and their handiness at the other. The worst piece of luck was that Mrs. Dodd did not know David called himself William Thompson. So there stood “William Thompson” large as life on the ship’s books, and nobody the wiser. Captain Bazalgette had a warm regard and affection for Mrs. Dodd, and did all he could. Indeed, he took great liberties: he stopped and overhauled several merchant ships for the truant; and, by-the-by, on one occasion William Thompson was one of the boat’s crew that rowed a midshipman from the Vulture alongside a merchant ship to search for David Dodd. He heard the name and circumstance mentioned in the boat, but the very name was new to him. He remembered it, but only from that hour; and told his loving tyrant, Georgie White, they had been overhauling a merchant ship and looking for one David Dodd.
It was about Midsummer the Vulture anchored off one of the South Sea islands, and sent a boat ashore for fruit. Billy and his dearly beloved little tyrant, Georgie White, were among the crew. Off goes Georgie to bathe, and Billy sits down on the beach with a loving eye upon him. The water was calm: but the boy with the heedlessness of youth stayed in it nearly an hour: he was seized with cramp and screamed to his comrades. They ran, but they were half a mile from the boat. Billy dashed into the water and came up with Georgie just as he was sinking for the last time; the boy gripped him; but by his great strength he disentangled himself and got Georgie on his shoulders, and swam for the shore. Meantime the sailors got into the boat, and rowed hastily towards them.
Now Billy was undermost and his head under water at times, and Georgie, some thought, had helped strangle him by gripping his neck with both arms. Anyway, by the boy’s account, just as they were getting into shallow water, Billy gave a great shriek and turned over on his back; and Georgie paddled with his hands, but Billy soon after this sunk like a dead body while the boat was yet fifty yards off. And Georgie screamed and pointed to the place, and the boat came up and took Georgie in; and the water was so clear that the sailors saw Billy lie motionless at the bottom, and hooked him with a boat hook and drew him up; but his face came up alongside a deadly white, with staring eyes, and they shuddered and feared it was too late.
They took him into a house and stripped him, and rubbed him, and wrapped him in blankets, and put him by the hot fire. But all would not do.
Then, having dried his clothes, they dressed the body again and laid him in the boat, and cast the Union Jack over him, and rowed slowly and unwillingly back to the ship, Georgie sobbing and screaming over the body, and not a dry eye in the boat.
The body was carried up the side, and uncovered, just as Mrs. Dodd saw in her dream. The surgeon was sent for and examined the body: and then the grim routine of a man-of-war dealt swiftly with the poor skipper. He was carried below to be prepared for a sailor’s grave. Then the surgeon walked aft and reported formally to the officer of the watch the death by drowning of William Thompson. The officer of the watch went instantly to the captain in his cabin and reported the death. The captain gave the stereotyped order to bury him at noon next day; and the body was stripped that night and sewed up in his hammock, with a portion of his clothes and bedding to conceal the outline of the corpse, and two cannon balls at his feet; and so the poor skipper was laid out for a watery grave, and covered by the Union Jack.
I don’t know whether any of my amorous young readers are much affected by the catastrophe I have just related. If not, I will just remind them that even Edward Dodd was prepared to oppose the marriage of Julia and Alfred, if any serious ill should befall his father at sea, owing to Alfred’s imprudent interference in rescuing him from Drayton House.
Last updated Tuesday, August 25, 2015 at 14:12