The night had come to an end.
The new-born day waited for its
quickening light in the silence
that is never known on land--the
silence before sunrise, in a
calm at sea.
Not a breath came from the
dead air. Not a ripple stirred
on the motionless water. Nothing
changed but the softly-growing
light; nothing moved but the
lazy mist, curling up to meet
the sun, its master, on the eastward
sea. By fine gradations, the
airy veil of morning thinned
in substance as it rose--thinned,
till there dawned through it
in the first rays of sunlight
the tall white sails of a Schooner
From stem to stern silence
possessed the vessel--as silence
possessed the sea.
But one living creature was
on deck--the man at the helm,
dozing peaceably with his arm
over the useless tiller. Minute
by minute the light grew, and
the heat grew with it; and still
the helmsman slumbered, the heavy
sails hung noiseless, the quiet
water lay sleeping against the
vessel's sides. The whole orb
of the sun was visible above
the water-line, when the first
sound pierced its way through
the morning silence. From far
off over the shining white ocean,
the cry of a sea-bird reached
the yacht on a sudden out of
the last airy circles of the
The sleeper at the helm woke;
looked up at the idle sails,
and yawned in sympathy with them;
looked out at the sea on either
side of him, and shook his head
obstinately at the superior obstinacy
of the calm.
"Blow, my little breeze!" said
the man, whistling the sailor's
invocation to the wind softly
between his teeth. "Blow, my
"How's her head?" cried
a bold and brassy voice, hailing
deck from the cabin staircase.
like, master; all round the
The voice was followed by the
man. The owner of the yacht appeared
Turlington, Esq., of the great
of Pizzituti, Turlington & Branca!
Aged eight-and-thirty; standing
stiffly and sturdily at a height
of not more than five feet six--
Mr. Turlington presented to the
view of his fellow-creatures
a face of the perpendicular order
of human architecture. His forehead
was a straight line, his upper
lip was another, his chin was
the straightest and the longest
line of all. As he turned his
swarthy countenance eastward,
and shaded his light gray eyes
from the sun, his knotty hand
plainly revealed that it had
got him his living by its own
labor at one time or another
in his life. Taken on the whole,
this was a man whom it might
be easy to respect, but whom
it would be hard to love. Better
company at the official desk
than at the social table. Morally
and physically--if the expression
may be permitted--a man without
a bend in him.
"A calm yesterday," grumbled
Richard Turlington, looking with
stubborn deliberation all round
him. "And a calm to-day. Ha!
next season I'll have the vessel
fitted with engines. I hate this!"
"Think of the
filthy coals, and the infernal
leave your beautiful schooner
as she is. We are out for a holiday.
Let the wind and the sea take
a holiday too."
Pronouncing those words of
remonstrance, a slim, nimble,
curly- headed young gentleman
joined Richard Turlington on
deck, with his clothes under
his arm, his towels in his hand,
and nothing on him but the night-gown
in which he had stepped out of
"Launcelot Linzie, you have
been received on board my vessel
in the capacity of medical attendant
on Miss Natalie Graybrooke, at
her father's request. Keep your
place, if you please. When I
want your advice, I'll ask you
for it." Answering in those terms,
the elder man fixed his colorless
gray eyes on the younger with
an expression which added plainly, "There
won't be room enough in this
schooner much longer for me and
Launcelot Linzie had his reasons
(apparently) for declining to
let his host offend him on any
"Thank you!" he rejoined, in
a tone of satirical good humor. "It
isn't easy to keep my place on
board your vessel. I can't help
presuming to enjoy myself as
if I was the owner. The life
is such a new one--to _me!>/I> It's
so delightfully easy, for instance,
to wash yourself here. On shore
it's a complicated question of
jugs and basins and tubs; one
is always in danger of breaking
something, or spoiling something.
Here you have only to jump out
of bed, to run up on deck, and
to do this!"
He turned, and scampered to
the bows of the vessel. In one
instant he was out of his night-gown,
in another he was on the bulwark,
in a third he was gamboling luxuriously
in sixty fathoms of salt-water.
Turlington's eyes followed
him with a reluctant, uneasy
attention as he swam round the
vessel, the only moving object
in view. Turlington's mind, steady
and slow in all its operations,
set him a problem to be solved,
on given conditions, as follows:
Linzie is fifteen years younger
than I am. Add
to that, Launcelot Linzie is
Natalie Graybrooke's cousin.
Given those two advantages--Query:
Has he taken Natalie's fancy?"
question slowly over and over
in his mind, Richard
Turlington seated himself in
a corner at the stern of the
vessel. He was still at work
on the problem, when the young
surgeon returned to his cabin
to put the finishing touches
to his toilet. He had not reached
the solution when the steward
appeared an hour later and said, "Breakfast
is ready, sir!"
They were a party of five round
the cabin table.
First, Sir Joseph Graybrooke.
Inheritor of a handsome fortune
made by his father and his grandfather
in trade. Mayor, twice elected,
of a thriving provincial town.
Officially privileged, while
holding that dignity, to hand
a silver trowel to a royal personage
condescending to lay a first
stone of a charitable edifice.
Knighted, accordingly, in honor
of the occasion. Worthy of the
honor and worthy of the occasion.
A type of his eminently respectable
class. Possessed of an amiable,
rosy face, and soft, silky white
hair. Sound in his principles;
tidy in his dress; blessed with
moderate politics and a good
digestion--a harmless, healthy,
spruce, speckless, weak-minded
Secondly, Miss Lavinia Graybrooke,
Sir Joseph's maiden sister. Personally,
Sir Joseph in petticoats. If
you knew one you knew the other.
Thirdly, Miss Natalie Graybrooke--Sir
Joseph's only child.
She had inherited
the personal appearance and
of her mother--dead many years
since. There had been a mixture
of Negro blood and French blood
in the late Lady Graybrooke's
family, settled originally in
Martinique. Natalie had her mother's
warm dusky color, her mother's
superb black hair, and her mother's
melting, lazy, lovely brown eyes.
At fifteen years of age (dating
from her last birthday) she possessed
the development of the bosom
and limbs which in England is
rarely attained before twenty.
Everything about the girl--except
her little rosy ears--was on
a grand Amazonian scale. Her
shapely hand was long and large;
her supple waist was the waist
of a woman. The indolent grace
of all her movements had its
motive power in an almost masculine
firmness of action and profusion
of physical resource. This remarkable
bodily development was far from
being accompanied by any corresponding
development of character. Natalie's
manner was the gentle, innocent
manner of a young girl. She had
her father's sweet temper ingrafted
on her mother's variable Southern
nature. She moved like a goddess,
and she laughed like a child.
Signs of maturing too rapidly--of
outgrowing her strength, as the
phr ase went--had made their
appearance in Sir Joseph's daughter
during the spring. The family
doctor had suggested a sea-voyage,
as a wise manner of employing
the fine summer months. Richard
Turlington's yacht was placed
at her disposal, with Richard
Turlington himself included as
one of the fixtures of the vessel.
With her father and her aunt
to keep up round her the atmosphere
of home--with Cousin Launcelot
(more commonly known as "Launce")
to carry out, if necessary, the
medical treatment prescribed
by superior authority on shore--the
lovely invalid embarked on her
summer cruise, and sprang up
into a new existence in the life-giving
breezes of the sea. After two
happy months of lazy coasting
round the shores of England,
all that remained of Natalie's
illness was represented by a
delicious languor in her eyes,
and an utter inability to devote
herself to anything which took
the shape of a serious occupation.
As she sat at the cabin breakfast-table
that morning, in her quaintly-made
sailing dress of old-fashioned
nankeen--her inbred childishness
of manner contrasting delightfully
with the blooming maturity of
her form--the man must have been
trebly armed indeed in the modern
philosophy who could have denied
that the first of a woman's rights
is the right of being beautiful;
and the foremost of a woman's
merits, the merit of being young!
The other two persons present
at the table were the two gentlemen
who have already appeared on
the deck of the yacht.
"Not a breath of wind stirring!" said
Richard Turlington. "The weather
has got a grudge against us.
We have drifted about four or
five miles in the last eight-and-forty
hours. You will never take another
cruise with me--you must be longing
to get on shore."
He addressed himself to Natalie;
plainly eager to make himself
agreeable to the young lady--and
plainly unsuccessful in producing
any impression on her. She made
a civil answer; and looked at
her tea-cup, instead of looking
at Richard Turlington.
"You might fancy yourself on
shore at this moment," said Launce. "The
vessel is as steady as a house,
and the swing-table we are eating
our breakfast on is as even as
your dining-room table at home."
He too addressed himself to
Natalie, but without betraying
the anxiety to please her which
had been shown by the other.
For all that, _he_ diverted the
girl's attention from her tea-cup;
and _his_ idea instantly awakened
a responsive idea in Natalie's
"It will be so strange on shore," she
said, "to find myself in a room
that never turns on one side,
and to sit at a table that never
tilts down to my knees at one
time, or rises up to my chin
at another. How I shall miss
the wash of the water at my ear,
and the ring of the bell on deck.
when I am awake at night on land!
No interest there in how the
wind blows, or how the sails
are set. No asking your way of
the sun, when you are lost, with
a little brass instrument and
a morsel of pencil and paper.
No delightful wandering wherever
the wind takes you, without the
worry of planning beforehand
where you are to go. Oh how I
shall miss the dear, changeable,
inconstant sea! And how sorry
I am I'm not a man and a sailor!"
This to the guest admitted
on board on sufferance, and not
one word of it addressed, even
by chance, to the owner of the
Richard Turlington's heavy
eyebrows contracted with an unmistakable
expression of pain.
"If this calm weather holds," he
went on, addressing himself to
Sir Joseph, "I am afraid, Graybrooke,
I shall not be able to bring
you back to the port we sailed
from by the end of the week."
"Whenever you like, Richard," answered
the old gentleman, resignedly. "Any
time will do for me."
"Any time within reasonable
limits, Joseph," said Miss Lavinia,
evidently feeling that her brother
was conceding too much. She spoke
with Sir Joseph's amiable smile
and Sir Joseph's softly- pitched
voice. Two twin babies could
hardly have been more like one
While these few words were
being exchanged among the elders,
a private communication was in
course of progress between the
two young people under the cabin
table. Natalie's smartly-slippered
foot felt its way cautiously
inch by inch over the carpet
till it touched Launce's boot.
Launce, devouring his breakfast,
instantly looked up from his
plate, and then, at a second
touch from Natalie, looked down
again in a violent hurry. After
pausing to make sure that she
was not noticed, Natalie took
up her knife. Under a perfectly-acted
pretense of toying with it absently,
in the character of a young lady
absorbed in thought, she began
dividing a morsel of ham left
on the edge of her plate, into
six tiny pieces. Launce's eye
looked in sidelong expectation
at the divided and subdivided
ham. He was evidently waiting
to see the collection of morsels
put to some telegraphic use,
previously determined on between
his neighbor and himself.
In the meanwhile the talk proceeded
among the other persons at the
breakfast-table. Miss Lavinia
addressed herself to Launce.
"Do you know,
you careless boy, you gave
me a fright this
morning? I was sleeping with
my cabin window open, and I was
awoke by an awful splash in the
water. I called for the stewardess.
I declare I thought somebody
had fallen overboard!"
Sir Joseph looked up briskly;
his sister had accidentally touched
on an old association.
"Talk of falling overboard," he
began, "reminds me of an extraordinary
There Launce broke in, making
"It shan't occur again, Miss
Lavinia," he said. "To-morrow
morning I'll oil myself all over,
and slip into the water as silently
as a seal."
"Of an extraordinary adventure," persisted
Sir Joseph, "which happened to
me many years ago, when I was
a young man. Lavinia?"
He stopped, and looked interrogatively
at his sister. Miss Graybrooke
nodded her head responsively,
and settled herself in her chair,
as if summoning her attention
in anticipation of a coming demand
on it. To persons well acquainted
with the brother and sister these
proceedings were ominous of an
impending narrative, protracted
to a formidable length. The two
always told a story in couples,
and always differed with each
other about the facts, the sister
politely contradicting the brother
when it was Sir Joseph's story,
and the brother politely contradicting
the sister when it was Miss Lavinia's
story. Separated one from the
other, and thus relieved of their
own habitual interchange of contradiction,
neither of them had ever been
known to attempt the relation
of the simplest series of events
without breaking down.
"It was five years before I
knew you, Richard," proceeded
"Six years," said
I have it down in my diary."
"Let us waive the point." (Sir
Joseph invariably used this formula
as a means of at once conciliating
his sister, and getting a fresh
start for his story.) "I was
cruising off the Mersey in a
Liverpool pilot-boat. I had hired
the boat in company with a friend
of mine, formerly notorious in
London society, under the nickname
(derived from the peculiar brown
color of his whiskers) of 'Mahogany
of his liveries, Joseph, not
the color of his
"My dear Lavinia,
you are thinking of 'Sea-green
Shaw,' so called
from the extraordinary liveries
he adopted for his servants in
the year when he was sheriff."
"I think not,
"I beg your
Richard Turlington's knotty
fingers drummed impatiently on
the table. He looked toward Natalie.
She was idly arranging her little
morsels of ham in a pattern on
her plate. Launcelot Linzie,
still more idly, was looking
at the pattern. Seeing what he
saw now, Richard solved the problem
which had puzzled him on deck.
It was simply impossible that
Natalie's fancy could be really
taken by such an empty-headed
fool as that!
Sir Joseph went on with his
"We were some
ten or a dozen miles off the
mouth of the Mersey--"
brother, the late great and
good Doctor Johnson
said accuracy ought always to
be studied even in the most trifling
common miles, Lavinia."
"Th ey were
nautical miles, Joseph."
"Let us waive
the point. Mahogany Dobbs and
I happened to be below
in the cabin, occupied--"
Here Sir Joseph
paused (with his amiable smile)
his memory. Miss Lavinia waited
(with _her_ amiable smile) for
the coming opportunity of setting
her brother right. At the same
moment Natalie laid down her
knife and softly touched Launce
under the table. When she thus
claimed his attention the six
pieces of ham were arranged as
follows in her plate: Two pieces
were placed opposite each other,
and four pieces were ranged perpendicularly
under them. Launce looked, and
twice touched Natalie under the
table. Interpreted by the Code
agreed on between the two, the
signal in the plate meant, "I
must see you in private." And
Launce's double touch answered, "After
Sir Joseph proceeded with his
story. Natalie took up her knife
again. Another signal coming!
"We were both
down in the cabin, occupied
in finishing our dinner--"
down to lunch, Joseph."
"My dear! I
ought to know."
"I only repeat
what I heard, brother. The
last time you told
the story, you and your friend
were sitting down to lunch."
"We won't particularize,
Lavinia. Suppose we say occupied
"If it is of
no more importance than that,
Joseph, it would be
surely better to leave it out
"Let us waive
the point. Well, we were suddenly
alarmed by a
shout on deck, 'Man over-board!'
We both rushed up the cabin stairs,
naturally under the impression
that one of our crew had fallen
into the sea: an impression shared,
I ought to add, by the man at
the helm, who had given the alarm."
paused again. He was approaching
one of the great
dramatic points in his story,
and was naturally anxious to
present it as impressively as
possible. He considered with
himself, with his head a little
on one side. Miss Lavinia considered
with _herself_, with _her_ head
a little on one side. Natalie
laid down her knife again, and
again touched Launce under the
table. This time there were five
pieces of ham ranged longitudinally
on the plate, with one piece
immediately under them at the
center of the line. Interpreted
by the Code, this signal indicated
two ominous words, "Bad news." Launce
looked significantly at the owner
of the yacht (meaning of the
look, "Is he at the bottom of
it?"). Natalie frowned in reply
(meaning of the frown, "Yes,
he is"). Launce looked down again
into the plate. Natalie instantly
pushed all the pieces of ham
together in a little heap (meaning
of the heap, "No more to say").
"Well?" said Richard Turlington,
turning sharply on Sir Joseph. "Get
on with your story. What next?"
Thus far he had not troubled
himself to show even a decent
pretense of interest in his old
narrative. It was only when Sir
Joseph had reached his last sentence--intimating
that the man overboard might
turn out in course of time not
to be a man of the pilot-boat's
crew--it was only then that Turlington
sat up in his chair, and showed
signs of suddenly feeling a strong
interest in the progress of the
Sir Joseph went on:
"As soon as
we got on deck, we saw the
man in the water,
astern. Our vessel was hove up
in the wind, and the boat was
lowered. The master and one of
the men took the oars. All told,
our crew were seven in number.
Two away in the boat, a third
at the helm, and, to my amazement,
when I looked round, the other
four behind me making our number
complete. At the same moment
Mahogany Dobbs, who was looking
through a telescope, called out,
'Who the devil can he be? The
man is floating on a hen-coop,
and we have got nothing of the
sort on board this pilot-boat.'"
The one person present who
happened to notice Richard Turlington's
face when those words were pronounced
was Launcelot Linzie. He--and
he alone--saw the Levant trader's
swarthy complexion fade slowly
to a livid ashen gray; his eyes
the while fixing themselves on
Sir Joseph Graybrooke with a
furtive glare in them like the
glare in the eyes of a wild beast.
Apparently conscious that Launce
was looking at him--though he
never turned his head Launce's
way--he laid his elbow on the
table, lifted his arm, and so
rested his face on his hand,
while the story went on, as to
screen it effectually from the
young surgeon's view.
"The man was brought on board," proceeded
Sir Joseph, "sure enough, with
a hen-coop--on which he had been
found floating. The poor wretch
was blue with terror and exposure
in the water; he fainted when
we lifted him on deck. When he
came to himself he told us a
horrible story. He was a sick
and destitute foreign seaman,
and he had hidden himself in
the hold of an English vessel
(bound to a port in his native
country) which had sailed from
Liverpool that morning. He had
been discovered, and brought
before the captain. The captain,
a monster in human form, if ever
there was one yet--"
Before the next word of the
sentence could pass Sir Joseph's
lips, Turlington startled the
little party in the cabin by
springing suddenly to his feet.
"The breeze!" he cried; "the
breeze at last!"
As he spoke, he wheeled round
to the cabin door so as to turn
his back on his guests, and hailed
is the wind?"
"There is not
a breath of wind, sir."
Not the slightest movement
in the vessel had been perceptible
in the cabin; not a sound had
been audible indicating the rising
of the breeze. The owner of the
yacht--accustomed to the sea,
capable, if necessary, of sailing
his own vessel--had surely committed
a strange mistake! He turned
again to his friends, and made
his apologies with an excess
of polite regret far from characteristic
of him at other times and under
"Go on," he said to Sir Joseph,
when he had got to the end of
his excuses; "I never heard such
an interesting story in my life.
Pray go on!"
The request was not an easy
one to comply with. Sir Joseph's
ideas had been thrown into confusion.
Miss Lavinia's contradictions
(held in reserve) had been scattered
beyond recall. Both brother and
sister were, moreover, additionally
hindered in recovering the control
of their own resources by the
look and manner of their host.
He alarmed, instead of encouraging
the two harmless old people,
by fronting them almost fiercely,
with his elbows squared on the
table, and his face expressive
of a dogged resolution to sit
there and listen, if need be,
for the rest of his life. Launce
was the person who set Sir Joseph
going again. After first looking
attentively at Richard, he took
his uncle straight back to the
story by means of a question,
mean to say that the captain
of the ship threw
the man overboard?"
"That is just
what he did, Launce. The poor
wretch was too
ill to work his passage. The
captain declared he would have
no idle foreign vagabond in his
ship to eat up the provisions
of Englishmen who worked. With
his own hands he cast the hen-coop
into the water, and (assisted
by one of his sailors) he threw
the man after it, and told him
to float back to Liverpool with
the evening tide."
"A lie!" cried
Turlington, addressing himself,
not to Sir
Joseph, but to Launce.
"Are you acquainted with the
circumstances?" asked Launce,
"I know nothing
about the circumstances. I
say, from my own experience,
that foreign sailors are even
greater blackguards than English
sailors. The man had met with
an accident, no doubt. The rest
of his story was a lie, and the
object of it was to open Sir
Sir Joseph mildly shook his
"No lie, Richard.
Witnesses proved that the man
Pooh! More liars, you mean."
"I went to the owners of the
vessel," pursued Sir Joseph." I
got from them the names of the
officers and the crew, and I
waited, leaving the case in the
hands of the Liverpool police.
The ship was wrecked at the mouth
of the Amazon, but the crew and
the cargo were saved. The men
belonging to Liverpool came back.
They were a bad set, I grant
you. But they were examined separately
about the treatment of the foreign
sailor, and they all told the
same story. They could give no
account of their captain, nor
of the sailor who had been his
accomplice in the crime, except
that they had not embarked in
the ship which brought the rest
of the crew to England. Whatever
may have become of the captain
since, he certainly never returned
"Did you find
out his name?"
The question was asked by Turlington.
Even Sir Joseph, the least observant
of men, noticed that it was put
with a perfectly unaccountable
irritability of manner.
"Don't be angry, Richard." said
the old gentleman. "What is there
to be angry about?"
"I don't know
what you mean. I'm not angry--I'm
_Did_ you find out who he was?"
"I did. His
name was Goward. He was well
known at Liverpool
as a very clever and a very dangerous
man. Quite young at the time
I am speaking of, and a first-rate
sailor; famous for taking command
of unseaworthy ships and vagabond
crews. Report described him to
me as having made considerable
sums of money in that way, for
a man in his position; serving
firms, you know, with a bad name,
and running all sorts of desperate
risks. A sad ruffian, Richard!
More than once in trouble, on
both sides of the Atlantic, for
acts of violence and cruelty.
Dead, I dare say, long since."
"Or possibly," said Launce, "alive,
under another name, and thriving
in a new way of life, with more
desperate risks in it, of some
"Are _you_ acquainted with
the circumstances?" asked Turlington,
retorting Launce's question on
him, with a harsh ring of defiance
in his brassy voice.
"What became of the poor foreign
sailor, papa?" said Natalie,
purposely interrupting Launce
before he could meet the question
angrily asked of him, by an angry
"We made a
subscription, and spoke to
his consul, my dear.
He went back to his country,
poor fellow, comfortably enough."
"And there is an end of Sir
Joseph's story," said Turlington,
rising noisily from his chair. "It's
a pity we haven't got a literary
man on board--he would make a
novel of it." He looked up at
the skylight as he got on his
feet. "Here is the breeze, this
time," he exclaimed, "and no
It was true. At last the breeze
had come. The sails flapped,
the main boom swung over with
a thump, and the stagnant water,
stirred at last, bubbled merrily
past the vessel's sides.
"Come on deck, Natalie, and
get some fresh air," said Miss
Lavinia, leading the way to the
Natalie held up the skirt of
her nankeen dress, and exhibited
the purple trimming torn away
over an extent of some yards.
"Give me half an hour first,
aunt, in my cabin," she said, "to
Miss Lavinia elevated her venerable
eyebrows in amazement.
"You have done
nothing but tear your dresses,
my dear, since
you have been in Mr. Turlington's
yacht. Most extraordinary! I
have torn none of mine during
the whole cruise."
color deepened a shade. She
laughed, a little
uneasily. "I am so awkward on
board ship," she replied, and
turned away and shut herself
up in her cabin.
Richard Turlington produced
his case of cigars.
"Now is the time," he said
to Sir Joseph, "for the best
cigar of the day--the cigar after
breakfast. Come on deck."
"You will join us, Launce?" said
"Give me half an hour first
over my books," Launce replied." I
mustn't let my medical knowledge
get musty at sea, and I might
not feel inclined to study later
in the day."
my dear boy, quite right."
Sir Joseph patted his nephew
approvingly on the shoulder.
Launce turned away on _his_ side,
and shut himself up in his cabin.
The other three ascended together
to the deck.