Графични страници
PDF файл

the last. Her cousins are charming people, only the fortune which she would have had entire will be divided among three of them. You will act as you think fit. I must return, and make myself agreeable. I had no wish to quarrel with you—of that you must be assured. I esteem you—I think you a very good fellow !"

Not having now any doubt that the baronet was decidedly drunk, Everheart was very glad to get rid of him, and to see him go back to the three Miss Broadhursts, towards whom, however, his manner seemed perfectly quiet. He could not help believing that the account Sir Timothy. had given him was correct.

“So much the better,” he said to himself. “I have fortune enough for both of us, and love her for herself alone."

It was some time before Ada saw her cousins. They put out their hands, and received her with far more cordiality than usual, as if they would affect to be condescending. After some time, while Everheart was dancing with one of the Ripple girls, he saw Sir Timothy go up to Ada, and begin evidently to press her to dance. She apparently at first declined, but at length stood up with him in a quadrille. He was interesting her, it seemed, till suddenly a blush mantled on her brow and cheek; not another word did she speak, and, directly the dance was over, refusing to take his arm, she walked up to a seat next to Miss Sarah Ripple. She refused, however, to repeat what he had said. An early day had been fixed for one of the proposed pic-nics. Ripple had asked two or three friends with yachts to join, and Everheart and Trounsell had found other friends who wished to join, so that an unusually large party was made up. The ball terminated without any other further incident worthy of notice.


A PIC-NIC, AND WHAT HAPPENED TO THE PRINCIPAL PEOPLE CONCERNED. The proposed pic-nic was at length arranged. Everheart, Ripple, and the owners of four other yachts, had agreed to join it. The weather had been tolerable for some time, and a propitious day was expected. As the Dora was the largest of the vessels, it was arranged, that in case of a fit spot not being reached-a not impossible contingency where winds and tides were concerned—the dinner should take place on board her. Dick could not decline the proposal, made by some thoughtless acquaintance, though he would gladly have avoided the honour. He had spent most of the day on shore with Ada Broadhurst, and had no longer any doubts as to her feelings towards him. Phæbe Ripple had been staying with the Griggses, and Trounsell was equally happy in being certain of her love. Griggs was away, especially engaged on Ada’s affairs. He had acknowledged lately that matters were not going as well as he had hoped. He, however, unwilling to damp her enjoyment, had not told her so. The two friends, not having been asked to remain to dinner, had returned on board at an earlier hour than usual. It was growing dusk; they had finished their dinner, and were walking the deck, with their cigars in their mouths, talking as newly-engaged lovers are apt to talk, when an er

cursion steamer, which had landed some passengers at the pier, was seen standing right down for them. 61 What can the fellow be about?" exclaimed Everheart. 66

“ He does not appear even to see us.”

“ Those on board must be drunk-toasting their passengers, probably," observed Trounsell, when both the gentlemen and the watch on deck shouted out, “Starboard_starboard your helm !" the latter at the same time veering out the cable as rapidly as they could.

It was in vain. On came the steamer directly towards the bows of the Dora. She was a powerful vessel, and, having a good deal of steam on, it seemed possible that she would send the yacht to the bottom. It was an anxious moment for her owner. In another instant the steamer struck her, but fortunately the steamer's way having been stopped, and her helm put to starboard, the force of the blow was received on the stem of the Dora, whose bowsprit was carried away and her bow slightly injured. The steamer then sheered off, in spite of all the adjurations of the Dora's master and crew to her to stop and receive condign punishment. Trounsell swore a little algo, but Everheart, who never swore or gave way to his temper in any unbecoming way, merely said:

“How provoking! The Dora cannot go to the pic-nic to-morrow. Long, you must do your best to get the damages made good as fast as possible.”

Long, who was the master of the Dora, promised to get a new bowsprit put in without an hour's delay. The event was, however, to prove of more consequence than Dick at the moment supposed. There were four other yachts going—the Owl, the Swallow, the Evanthe, and the Leonora—so that the party made up for the Dora could easily be distributed among them. He had, of course, undertaken to receive the Griggs party; the Ripple family, with their friends in the Owl, were to join them off Cowes. Jack Sandhurst, the owner of the Evanthe, seeing the condition of the Dora, came on board at an early hour, and requested Everheart to make use of his vessel as he felt disposed, and a polite message of the same nature came from Tom Snorum, of the Swallow. The next morning was fine, the wind was from the northward, and the yachts made sail to the westward with every prospect of a pleasant day for the company they had on board. Everheart went on board the Evanthe, which had received the Griggses and Miss Broadhurst; Trounsell hoped to get on board the Owl off Cowes. Some of the ladies had brought their work—others sketchbooks, or with books to read aloud, or collections of riddles—two or three had guitars, and some of the gentlemen had various musical instruments; indeed, there was no lack of means of amusement. Just as Everbeart was leaving the Dora, a letter among others was brought to him from an old friend, requesting that he would come and see him immediately where he was staying, at a small village near Milford, little to the west of Lymington, in Hampshire. His first impulse was to start off by steamer and rail, but he recollected that he could more easily reach the place from Hurst Beach, if he went by sea. A fine fresh breeze carried the yachts over the smooth waters of the Solent. The Owl joined them off Cowes, and the Ripples expressed much sym.

pathy with her owner at the accident which had happened to the Dora. Trounsell kept turning sharp eyes in the direction of the Owl.

“ Sandhurst, I must beg leave to send an ambassador on board the Owl, to thank our friends for their expressions of concern. Trounsell, will you undertake the office ?"

Thank you," was the answer. “I am proud of the honour." A boat was lowered, and the envoy conveyed on board the Owl, from which, however, he showed no disposition to return, and so the boat came back without him. The wind increased considerably, and, the tide being fair, the yachts in a very short time got down to Hurst. Everheart when there desired to be put on shore, though the walk he would have to take was far from a pleasant one, begging that the Evanthe, on her return, would send a boat to take him off. Of course Ada and Everheart were very sorry to be parted, and she promised to take care that he was not forgotten. Alum Bay had been fixed on for the pic-nic, but the wind had increased so much by the time that the yachts stood in there, blowing directly into the bay, that it was found that the landing would be very unpleasant-in fact, that all the company would have got thoroughly wet. It was therefore determined, after a consultation held on board the Owl, to take a cruise towards Bournemouth, and then to return and anchor inside Hurst, and either to dine on board the Ianthe, or on some sheltered spot on the beach. The proposal was considered good, and carried out, everybody enjoying the picturesque view at the entrance of the Needles when Scratchel's Bay is still open. On coming back, as the wind was still strong, and most of the party had reasons for wishing to enjoy themselves on terra firma, the yachts brought up, as had been proposed, on the east side of Hurst Beach. As the water was there perfectly smooth, a landing was easily effected, with provisions and plates and dishes, and some thirty or forty ladies and gentlemen dined in the attitudes of shipwrecked mariners, though on an abundance which such unfortunate people do not often enjoy. Seldom had the beach presented a gayer scene. The company laughed and talked, and made music with their voices and on their instruments. They then, as people under such circumstances are apt to do, broke up into small groups ; some sat down to sketch, or meditate, or flirt, and others visited the forts and the lighthouses. Time sped rapidly on.

The weather began to look less agreeable than in the first part of the day. Blue peter was hoisted as a signal for embarking, and a gun was fired from the Evanthe to call in all stragglers.

“ Variety is pleasing !” exclaimed Tom Snorum, who was known for the blunders he occasionally made. “I vote that we shift about, and make fresh combinations of parties on board the vessels.”

He had had a particularly disagreeable old dowager and a son like her, and two ugly daughters, of whom he was anxious to be rid. Jack Sandhurst was much in the same predicament with regard to some of his guests, and, not being aware of his friend's reasons for making the proposal, imprudently jumped at it.

Ripple had no objection to receive a few fresh guests on board, some of those who had come with him preferring, for various reasons,

to return by the other yachts. It happened, also, that Miss Sarah Ripple, just before the party embarked, was taken ill, and had to go on board and lie down in her cabin ; she, therefore, did not superintend the return of her charges, and they, again, were so well engaged with their admirers in esse or posse, that they did not look after each other. The party got on board, the yachts made sail, and, with a strong breeze so far to the eastward of north that it seemed doubtful whether they could weather Cowes, stood up the Solent. They had got half a mile away from the shore, when a lady and gentleman appeared on the shingly beach, and waved, but waved in vain, to attract the notice of some on board.

It had happened that Ada Broadhurst, feeling very little taste for the fun aud jokes, not always very refined, going forward, and having, moreover, matters of importance to meditate about, got up as soon as she could from before the tablecloth, and walked round the beach to the west side. She went on for some time by herself, till, tired with the walk over the rough stones, she sat down gazing across the shingle bank, on which the sea foamed and bubbled as the tide rushed over it towards Christchurch, Bournemouth, and Swanwich, on which the rays of the sun now shone brightly. Several vessels were standing through the north channel, giving life to the view. More on her left were the Needle rocks, projecting out into the sea, the lofty white cliffs and the smooth green downs above them, and the bright-coloured sands of Alum Bay to the east. She took out her sketch-book and colour-box, and began an effective drawing.

She went on interested in her work, and not considering how time sped till she heard a footstep close to her. Looking up, her heart beat quicker—a bright smile lighted her eye. It was Everheart. Returning from Keyhaven, he had come along the west side of the beach for the sake of enjoying the view. He had an idea possibly that she would be found away from the rest of the party, for he knew that not many of them were to her taste. He sat bimself down by her side. She showed him the drawing she had made. It was well worthy of the admiration he bestowed on it. Dick was somewhat impulsive. He went on from praising the drawing to praising the hand which executed it, and the mind which guided the hand; and then he took the hand and pressed it to his lips, and entreated that it might be his, and promised to love and cherish the owner. As she did not take it away, he drew her nearer to him, and pressed a kiss on ber lips, and held her with her head leaning on his shoulder, how long he could not tell.

"You do love me? You will marry me ?” he said, at length.

She made no reply, but burst into tears. He endeavoured to soothe and console.

“ Yes, I do most sincerely, most devotedly love you, but I cannot promise to marry, though I will promise to marry no one else, because you do not know who I am, or what I am. I had no intention-no wish to deceive you. It is but now that I am gradually becoming acquainted with my own history. This very evening I expect to hear more. I should have remained at home, but my kind friend desired me to join all the parties to which I am invited, and to appear as un

[ocr errors]

concerned as possible. I own that, as you were coming, I was the more unwilling to stay behind; but it is very important that I should return to meet Mr. Griggs, who purposed being at Ryde this evening."

Pray understand, dearest, that I love you for yourself, and that, whatever may be your birth, I still desire that you may be mine," said Everheart, imprinting a kiss on her brow.

She thanked him again and again, and then entreating him to listen to what she had to say, narrated to him a tale of sorrow and suffering, of guilt and of despair, and death, for which he certainly had in no way been prepared.

“Sad—very sad,” he observed, gently; "but to me it can matter nothing. You and all those immediately connected with you are guiltless."

“I trust so—I trust so; but I am also almost penniless, and I have little hope of obtaining the fortune which my friends assert is rightly mine. They are sanguine, and you may have heard from them that I am an heiress, or likely to have a large fortune; but look upon me, I beseech you, as having nothing but my love to give you-that you bave—but nothing more.

“ That is all I expected—all I wish for ; a rich-rich treasure, answered Everheart; and he said a great deal more with sincerity and truth, for Dick, with many a fault, was an upright, honest fellow.

He gave her love for love. As to her want of fortune, he had made up his mind that, though he might have to give up his yacht and live quietly, he would gladly do it for her sake. He said this and a great many other things, and no wonder that the time passed very delightfully and quickly away. Suddenly, Everheart remembered that they had not come in the Dora, and that they were depending on another person's yacht to carry them back to Ryde. He then looked at his watch, and thought that their friends would probably be embarking and waiting for them. The sand-bank and the line of forts on the top of it completely hid the yachts from them where they were sitting. They had, however, no great distance to go across the bank to reach the place of embarkation. It is scarcely necessary to say that they were the couple waving in vain to the yachts receding rapidly from the shore. They were neither of them people to sit down in despair, though the position in which they were left was sufficiently unpleasant. Everheart thought of all possible ways of reaching Ryde that evening. The nearest railway station on the mainland was Lymington, and they might have to walk some miles before they could get a conveyance to it. From Lymington they might get to Portsmouth, and cross to Ryde. The simplest plan seemed to be, to get a boat to take them to Yarmouth, and from thence to drive to Ryde; but even in that way they could not hope to arrive till very

late. Seldom have a lady and gentleman been placed in a more disagreeable dilemma. The only alternative was to procure a boat, if one was to be found, to go all the way to Ryde. It was just possible that some steamer coming in at the Needles might take them on board; but that was so very problematical that it was scarcely worthy of consideration. It seemed probable, however, that they would not be able to find a boat of any size to carry them. However, at length, some one thought of

« ПредишнаНапред »