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fellows. I drive my engine at speed, even where the line is shaky and the rails ill laid. Good-by; my respects to the ladies ; tell Jack, if he's in town within the week to look me up at Limmers." He emptied the sherry into a tumbler as he spoke, drank it off, and left the room.
Some days had gone over since the scene just recorded in our last chapter, and the house at Castello presented a very different aspect from its late show of movement and pleasure.
Lord Culduff, on the pretence of his presence being required at the mines, had left on the same night that Cutbill took his departure for England. On the morning after Jack also went away. He had passed the night writing and burning letters to Julia ; for no sooner had he finished an epistle, than he found it too cruel, too unforgiving, too unfeeling by half; and when he endeavoured to moderate his just anger, he discovered signs of tenderness in his reproaches that savoured of submission. It would not be quite fair to be severe on Jack's failures, trying as he was to do what has puzzled much wiser and craftier heads than his. To convey all the misery he felt at parting from her with a just measure of reproach for her levity towards him, to mete out his love and his anger in due doses, to say enough, but never too much, and finally to let her know that, though he went off in a buff, it was to carry her image in his heart through all his wanderings, never forgetting her for a moment, whether he was carrying despatches to Cadiz or coaling at Malta-to do all these, I say, becomingly and well, was not an easy task, and especially for one who would rather have been sent to cut out a frigate under the guns of a fortress than indite a despatch to “ my Lords of the Admiralty."
From the short sleep which followed all his abortive attempts at a letter he was awakened by his servant telling him it was time to dress and be off. Drearier moments there are not in life than those which herald in a departure of a dark morning in winter vith the rain swooping in vast sheets against the window-panes, and the cold blast whistling through the leafless trees. Never do the candles seem to throw so little light as these do now through the dreary room, all littered and disordered by the preparations for the road. What fears and misgivings beset one at such a moment! What reluctance to go, and what a positive sense of fear one feels, as though the journey were a veritable leap in the dark, and that the whole fortunes of a life were dependent on that instant of resolution.
Poor Jack tried to battle with such thoughts as these by reminding himoun of his duty and the calls of the service; he asked himself again and again, if it were out of such vacillating, wavering materials, a sailor's heart should be fashioned ? was this the stuff that made Nelsons or Collingwoods ? And though there was but little immediate prospect of a career of distinction, his sense of duty taught him to feel that the routine life of peace was a greater trial to a man's patience than all the turmoil and bustle of active service.
" The more I cling to remain here," muttered he, as he descended the stairs, “ the more certain am I that it's pure weakness and folly."
“What's that you are muttering about weakness and folly, Jack ? " said Nelly, who had got up to see him off, and give him the last kiss before he departed.
“How comes it you are here, Nelly ? Get back to your bed, girl, or you'll catch a terrible cold.”
“No, no, Jack; I'm well shawled and mufiled. I wanted to say goodby once more. Tell me what it was you were saying about weakness and folly."
“I was assuring myself that my reluctance to go away was nothing less than folly. I was trying to persuade myself that the best thing I could do was to be off; but I won't say I succeeded.”
“But it is, Jack; rely on it, it is. You are doing the right thing; and if I say so, it is with a heavy heart, for I shall be very lonely after you."
Passing his arm around her waist, he walked with her up and down the great spacious hall, their slow footsteps echoing in the silent house.
“If my last meeting with her had not been such as it was, Nelly," said he, falteringly; “if we had not parted in anger, I think I could go with a lighter heart."
“But don't you know Julia well enough to know that these little storms of temper pass away so rapidly that they never leave a trace behind them ? She was angry, not because you found fault with her, but because she thought you had suffered yourself to be persuaded she was in the wrong.”
" What do I care for these subtleties? She ought to have known that when a man loves a girl as I love her, he has a right to tell her frankly if there's anything in her manner he is dissatisfied with.”
" He has no such right; and if he had, he ought to be very careful how he exercised it.”
“ And why so ? "
“ So that, no matter what he saw that he disliked or disapproved of, he ought to bear it all rather than risk the chance of his remonstrance being ill-taken ?"
"Not that, Jack; but he ought to take time and opportunity to make the same remonstrance. You don't go down to the girl you are in love with, and call her to account as you would summon a dockyard man or a rigger for something that was wrong with your frigate." ;
" Take an illustration from something you know better, Nelly, for I'd do nothing of the kind ; but if I saw what, in the conduct or even in the manner of the girl I was in love with, I wouldn't stand if she were my wife, it will be hard to convince me that I oughtn't to tell her of it." " As I said before, Jack, the telling is a matter of time and opportunity.
Of all the jealousies in the world there is none as inconsiderate as that of lovers towards the outer world. Whatever change either may wish for in the other must never come suggested from without.”
“ And didn't I tell her she was wrong in supposing that it was Marion made me see her coquetry ? ”
“That you thought Marion had no influence over your judgment she might believe readily enough, but girls have a keener insight into each other than you are aware of, and she was annoyed—and she was right to be annoyed—that in your estimate of her there should enter anything, the very smallest, that could bespeak the sort of impression a woman might have conveyed."
“Nelly, all this is too deep for me. If Julia cared for me as I believed she had, she'd have taken what I said in good part. Didn't I give up smoking of a morning, except one solitary cheroot after breakfast, when she asked me? Who ever saw me take a nip of brandy of a forenoon since that day she cried out, “Shame, Jack, don't do that?' And do you think I wasn't as fond of my weed and my glass of schnaps as ever she was of all those little airs and graces she puts on to make fools of men ?"
“ Carriage waiting, sir," said a servant, entering with a mass of cloaks and rugs on his arm.
“ Confound the carriage and the journey too," muttered he below his breath. “Look here, Nelly, if you are right, and I hope with all my heart you are, I'll not go."
" That would be ruin, Jack; you must go.”
• What do I care for the service? A good seaman—a fellow that knows how to handle a ship-need never want for employment. I'd just as soon be a skipper as wear a pair of swabs on my shoulders and be sworn at by some crusty old rear-admiral for a stain on my quarter-deck. I'll not go, Nelly ; tell Ned to take off the trunks ; I'll stay where I am."
“Oh, Jack, I implore you not to wreck your whole fortune in life. It is just because Julia loves you that you are bound to show yourself worthy of her. You know how lucky you were to get this chance. You said only yesterday it was the finest station in the whole world. Don't lose it, like a dear fellow,—don't do what will be the embitterment of your entire life, the loss of your rank, and-the-" She stopped as she was about to add something still stronger.
“I'll go then, Nelly; don't cry about it; if you sob that way I'll make a fool of myself. Pretty sight for the flunkies, to see a sailor crying, wouldn't it ? all because he had to join his ship. I'll go then at once. I suppose you'll see her to-day, or to-morrow at farthest ? ”
“ I'm not sure, Jack. Marion said something about hunting parsons, I believe, which gave George such deep pain that he wouldn't come here on Wednesday. Julia appears to be more annoyed than George, and in fact for the moment we have quarantined each other."
"Isn't this too bad ?" cried he passionately.
“Of course it is too bad ; but it's only a passing cloud ; and by the time I shall write to you it will have passed away.”
Jack clasped her affectionately in his arms, kissed her twice, and sprang into the carriage, and drove away with a full heart indeed; but also with the fast assurance that his dear sister would watch over his interests, and not forget him.
That dark drive went over like a hideous dream. He heard the wind and the rain, the tramp of the horses' feet and the splash of the wheels along the miry road, but he never fully realized where he was or how he came there. The first bell was ringing as he drove into the station, and there was but little time to get down his luggage and secure his ticket, He asked for a coupé, that he might be alone ; and being known as one of the great family at Castello, the obsequious station-master hastened to instal him at once. On opening the door, however, it was discovered that another traveller had already deposited a great coat and a rug in one corner.
“Give yourself no trouble, Captain Bramleigh," said the official in a low voice. “I'll just say the coupé is reserved, and we'll put him into another compartment. Take these traps, Bob," cried he to a porter, “and put them into a first-class.”
Scarcely was the order given when two figures, moving out of the dark, approached, and one, with a slightly foreign accent, but in admirable English, said, “What are you doing there? I have taken that place."
“Yes," cried his friend, “ this gentleman secured the coupé on the moment of his arrival."
“Very sorry, sir-extremely sorry; but the coupé was reserved specially reserved.”
“My friend has paid for that place," said the last speaker; " and I can only say, if I were he, I'd not relinquish it."
“Don't bother yourself about it," whispered Jack. “Let him have his place. I'll take the other corner; and there's an end of it.”
“ If you'll allow me, Captain Bramleigh," said the official, who was now touched to the quick on that sore point, a question of his department; “ if you'll allow me, I think I can soon settle this matter."
“But I will not allow you, sir,” said Jack, his sense of fairness already outraged by the whole procedure. “He has as good a right to his place as I have to mine. Many thanks for your trouble. Good-by." And so saying he stepped in.
The foreigner still lingered in earnest converse with his friend, and only mounted the steps as the train began to move. “A bientôt, cher Philippe,” he cried, as the door was slammed, and the next instant they were gone.
The little incident which had preceded their departure had certainly not conduced to any amicable disposition between them, and each, after a sidelong glance at the other, ensconced himself more completely within his wrappings, and gave himself up to either silence or sleep.
Some thirty miles of the journey had rolled over, and it was now day, - dark and dreary indeed,—when Jack awoke and found the carriage pretty thick with smoke. There is a sort of freemasonry in the men of tobacco, which never fails them, and they have a kind of instinctive guess of a stranger from the mere character of his weed. On the present occasion Jack recognized a most exquisite Havanna odour, and turned furtively to see the smoker.
"I onght to have asked," said the stranger, “if this was disagreeable to you, but you were asleep, and I did not like to disturb you."
"Not in the least, I am a smoker too,” said Jack, as he drew forth his case and proceeded to strike a light.
“ Might I offer you one of mine ?—they are not bad,” said the other, proffering his case.
“ Thanks," said Jack; “my tastes are too vulgar for Cubans. Birdseye, dashed with strong Cavendish, is what I like.”
“I have tried that too, as I have tried everything English, but the same sort of half success follows me through all.”
"If your knowledge of the language be the measure, I'd say you've not much to complain of. I almost doubt whether you are a foreigner.”
“I was born in Italy," said the other cautiously, “and never in England till a few weeks ago."
" I'm afraid," said Jack, with a smile, "I did not impress you very favourably as regards British politeness, when we met this morning; but I was a little out of spirits. I was leaving home, not very likely to see it again for some time, and I wanted to be alone.”
“I am greatly grieved not to have known this. I should never have thought of intruding."
“But there was no question of intruding. It was your right that you asserted, and no more.”
“ Half the harsh things that we sce in life are done merely by asserting a right,” said the other in a deep and serious voice.
Jack had little taste for what took the form of a reflection: to his apprehension, it was own brother of a sermon; and warned by this sample of his companion's humour, he muttered a broken sort of assent and was silent. Little passed between them till they met at the dinner-table, and then they only interchanged a few commonplace remarks. On their reaching their destination, they took leave of each other courteously, but half formally, and drove off their several ways.
Almost the first man, however, that Jack mot, as he stepped on board the mail-packet for Holyhead, was his fellow-traveller of the rail. This time they met cordially, and after a few words of greeting they proceeded to walk the deck together like old acquaintances. | Though the night was fresh and sharp there was a bright moon, and they both felt reluctant to go below, where a vast crowd of passengers was assembled. The brisk exercise, the invigorating air, and a certain congeniality that each discovered in the other, soon established between them