"Something! I'd go down to the little breakwater below yonder, and take a wrench at one of the salt-rusted iron rings there, and either wrench it up by the roots or wrench my teeth out of my head, sooner than I'd do nothing. Nothing!" ejaculated the captain. "Any fool or fainting heart can do that, and nothing can come of nothing,--which was pretended to be found out, I believe, by one of them Latin critters," said the captain with the deepest disdain; "as if Adam hadn't found it out, afore ever he so much as named the beasts!"
Yet the captain saw, in spite of his bold words, that there was some greater reason than he yet understood for the young man's distress. And he eyed him with a sympathising curiosity.
"Come, come!" continued the captain, "Speak out. What is it, boy!"
"You have seen how beautiful she is, sir," said the young man, looking up for the moment, with a flushed face and rumpled hair.
"Did any man ever say she warn't beautiful?" retorted the captain. "If so, go and lick him."
The young man laughed fretfully in spite of himself, and said -
"It's not that, it's not that."
"Wa'al, then, what is it?" said the captain in a more soothing tone.
The young fisherman mournfully composed himself to tell the captain what it was, and began: "We were to have been married next Monday week--"
"Were to have been!" interrupted Captain Jorgan. "And are to be? Hey?"
Young Raybrock shook his head, and traced out with his fore-finger the words, "poor father's five hundred pounds," in the written paper.
"Go along," said the captain. "Five hundred pounds? Yes?"
"That sum of money," pursued the young fisherman, entering with the greatest earnestness on his demonstration, while the captain eyed him with equal earnestness, "was all my late father possessed. When he died, he owed no man more than he left means to pay, but he had been able to lay by only five hundred pounds."
"Five hundred pounds," repeated the captain. "Yes?"
"In his lifetime, years before, he had expressly laid the money aside to leave to my mother,--like to settle upon her, if I make myself understood."
"He had risked it once--my father put down in writing at that time, respecting the money--and was resolved never to risk it again."
"Not a spectator," said the captain. "My country wouldn't have suited him. Yes?"
"My mother has never touched the money till now. And now it was to have been laid out, this very next week, in buying me a handsome share in our neighbouring fishery here, to settle me in life with Kitty."
The captain's face fell, and he passed and repassed his sun-browned right hand over his thin hair, in a discomfited manner.
"Kitty's father has no more than enough to live on, even in the sparing way in which we live about here. He is a kind of bailiff or steward of manor rights here, and they are not much, and it is but a poor little office. He was better off once, and Kitty must never marry to mere drudgery and hard living."
The captain still sat stroking his thin hair, and looking at the young fisherman.
"I am as certain that my father had no knowledge that any one was wronged as to this money, or that any restitution ought to be made, as I am certain that the sun now shines. But, after this solemn warning from my brother's grave in the sea, that the money is Stolen Money," said Young Raybrock, forcing himself to the utterance of the words, "can I doubt it? Can I touch it?"
"About not doubting, I ain't so sure," observed the captain; "but about not touching--no--I don't think you can."
"See then," said Young Raybrock, "why I am so grieved. Think of Kitty. Think what I have got to tell her!"
His heart quite failed him again when he had come round to that, and he once more beat his sea-boot softly on the floor. But not for long; he soon began again, in a quietly resolute tone.
"However! Enough of that! You spoke some brave words to me just now, Captain Jorgan, and they shall not be spoken in vain. I have got to do something.