steward's help there is nothing to prevent us taking the ship into the nearest port, or lying to until we sight a vessel, and then signalling for help."
I fancy she was about to express her doubts of this result, but exclaimed instead—
"No matter what comes, Mr. Royle, we shall feel safe with you." And then, suddenly rising, she asked me to come and see her father.
I followed her at once into the cabin.
The old man lay in an upper bunk, with a blanket over him. He looked like a dead man, with his white face rendered yet more death-like in appearance by the dishevelled white hair upon his head, and the long white beard. He was lying perfectly still, with his eyes closed, his thin hands folded outside the blanket.
I thought he slept, and motioned to his daughter; but she stooped and whispered, "Papa, here is Mr. Royle;" whereupon he opened his eyes and looked at me. The sense of my presence appeared to be very slowly conveyed to his mind, and then he extended his hand. I took it, and saw with emotion that tears streamed from his eyes.
"Sir," he exclaimed, in a weak faltering voice, "I can only say, God bless you!"
I answered cheerfully, "Pray say no more, Mr. Robertson. I want to see you recover your strength. Thank God, your daughter has survived her horrible trials, and will soon quite recover from the effects of them. What now can I do for you? Have you slept?"
"Yes, yes, I have slept; a little, I thank you. Sir, I have witnessed shocking scenes."
I whispered to Miss Robertson—
"Let me prescribe some medicine that will do you both good. What you both require is support. I will be with you in a minute."
So saying, I quitted the cabin and entered the pantry. There I found the steward sitting on the plate chest, with his hands to his temples.
"Now then, my lad," said I; "rouse up. You are not dead yet. Have you any brandy here?"
He pointed in a mechanical way to a shelf, where were several bottles. I found what I wanted, and gave him a dose to put heart into him, and asked him for some eggs. Four or five, the gathering of yesterday from the kindly hens under the long-boat, lay in the drawer, which he pulled open. I proceeded to mix two tumblers of eggs and brandy, which I carried to the next cabin.
"This is my physic, Miss Robertson," I exclaimed, putting one of the tumblers into her hand; "oblige me by drinking it; and you, sir," I continued, addressing the old gentleman, "will not wait for her example."
They both, to my great satisfaction, swallowed the contents of the glasses, the effect of which, after some moments, upon Mr. Robertson was decidedly beneficial, for he thanked me for my kindness in a much stronger voice, and even made shift to prop himself up on his elbow.
"It is the best tonic in the world," said I, taking Miss Robertson's glass, "and I am very much obliged to you for your obedience."
The look she gave me was more eloquent than any verbal reply; at least, I found it so. Her face was so womanly and beautiful, so full of pathos in its pallor, with something so brave and open in its whole expression, that it was delightful to me to watch it.
"Now," said I to the old gentleman, "allow me to leave you for a little. I want to see what the Grosvenor can furnish in the shape of linen and drapery. Isn't that what they call it ashore? We have found some serge, and needles and thread are easily got; and I'll set what wits the unfortunate steward has left in him to work to discover how Miss Robertson may be made comfortable until we put you both ashore."
"Do not leave us!" cried the old man. "Your society does me good, sir. It puts life into me. I want to tell you who we are, and about our shipwreck, and where we were going. The Cecilia was my own vessel. I am a merchant, doing most of my trade with the Cape—the Cape of Good Hope. I took my daughter—my only child, sir—to Cape Town, last year, for a change of scene and air; and I should have stopped another year, but Mary got tired and wanted to get home, and—and—well, as I was telling you, Mr—Mr.——"
"Royle," said Miss Robertson.
"Mr. Royle, as I was telling you, Mary got tired; and as the Cecilia was loading at Cape Town—she was a snug sound ship—yes, indeed; and we went on board, we and a gentleman named—named——"
"Jameson," his daughter suggested.
"Ay, poor Jameson—poor, poor fellow!"
He hid his face, and was silent, I should say, a whole minute, neither Miss Robertson nor myself speaking. Presently, looking up, he continued—
"It came on to blow very heavily, most suddenly, a dreadful gale. It caught the ship in a calm, and she was unprepared, and it snapped all three masts away. Oh, God, what a night of horror! The men went mad, and cried that the ship was going stern down, and crowded into the boats. One went whirling away into the darkness, and one was capsized; and then the captain said the ship was sinking, and my daughter and I ran out of the cabin on to the deck. Well, sir," continued the old man, swallowing convulsive sobs as he spoke, "the ship's side had been pierced, the captain said, by one of the yards; and she was slowly settling, and the water came over the deck, and we got into the house where you found us, for shelter. I put my head to the window and called the captain to come, and as he was coming the water hurled him overboard; and there were only myself and my poor girl and Mr. Jameson and—and—tell him the rest!" he suddenly cried, hiding his eyes and stretching out his hand.
"Another time, Miss Robertson," I exclaimed, seeing the look of horror that had come into her face during her father's recital of the story. "Tell me where you live in England, and let us fancy ourselves in the dear old country, which, so it please God, we shall all reach safely in a little time."
But they were both too overcome to answer me. The old man kept his face concealed, and the girl drew long sobbing breaths with dry eyes.
However, she plucked up presently, and answered that they lived just out of Liverpool, but that her father had also an estate at Leamington, near Warwick, where her mother died, and where she spent most of her time, as she did not like Liverpool.
"Tell me, sir," cried Mr. Robertson, "did you bring the body of poor Jameson with you? I forget."
"If that was Mr. Jameson whose body lay in the deck-house," I replied, "I left him on the wreck. There was his coffin, Mr. Robertson, and I dared not wait to bring off a dead man when living creatures stood in peril of their lives."
"To be sure, sir!" exclaimed the old gentleman. "You were very right. You acted with great nobleness, and are most kind to us now—most kind, Mary, is he not? Let me see?" knitting his brows. "You are not captain of this ship? I think, my dear, you said that this gentleman was the mate? Who is the captain, sir?"
His daughter put her finger to her mouth, which puzzled me until I considered that she either did not want him to know that the captain was murdered, or, supposing he knew of the murder, that the circumstance should not be revived in his memory, which was just now very feeble.
He did not wait for his question to be answered, but asked me where the ship was bound to?
"New Orleans," I answered, with a glance at his daughter.
"New Orleans!" he exclaimed. "Let me think—that is beyond the West Indies." And with