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is even still more marvellous, without the necessity of telling a fib.
“I was putting some things by in one of the boxes,” replied Miss Lucretia Gowanspec, promptly; and we trust that the reader will acknowledge that the reply evinced considerable dexterity, though we cannot assert that its veracity was not altogether accidental, or, in the language of the billiard-tables, " a crow."
“ What things?” asked Miss Adela Gowanspec.
“ What things?" returned Miss Lucretia, 6 one would think that you doubted my word. What things? why if you must know, Adela, some clothes, a body or so, and—and why, really, Adela, I forget.”
" You might have got a candle lit too, I think.” continued Miss Adela Gowanspec. “ I don't know what you could have been doing in the dark. We haven't been able to see one shade of worsted from another for an hour or more in the next cabin, so I can't conceive what you have been doing.”
“ It blew out,” returned Miss Lucretia, doggedly. “ How cross you are this evening, Adela."
" And enough to make me so too,” said the elder sister, " to be kept waiting five minutes at the door, and then to find the cabin as dark as the hold. Bless me, what noise was that?"
" The rudder, to be sure,” replied Miss Lucretia; “ what else could you suppose it to be?”.
Now, it would have been impossible to conceive
any noise more unlike the creaking of a rudder, than that which Miss Adela Gowanspec was making inquiries about at that moment; for, in fact, it was no other than a human sound, midway between a cough and a sneeze; and instead of issuing from the stern of the vessel, it issued from the linen chest in the middle of the room. A young cockroach of an enterprising disposition had been making a voyage of discovery in the interior of one of Doleton's nostrils, and the noise that Miss Adela heard, was the effect of the animal's inquisitiveness. It is not, therefore, very extraordinary, that this young lady, upon receiving the answer we have recorded, should have expressed her incredulity in forcible terms.
“ The rudder, indeed! Stuff and nonsense,-it's as much like the rudder as it is to an Æolian harp. What are you thinking of, Lucretia ?”
The young lady thus addressed, had her own private reasons for not saying what she was thinking about; but, putting on a nonchalant air, as though she were thinking of nothing particular, she observed, that " perhaps it was a rat."
She had no sooner said this, than she had good cause to wish she had made the suggestion before; for Miss Adela observed, that, “ perhaps it was," and began forthwith to abuse the “ horrid creatures,” in terms expressive of the strongest aversion.
What might have followed this tirade against the rats, we know not, if a loud tapping had not been heard at the cabin-door of the young ladies, and the voice of one of the cuddy servants had not been heard announcing “ Tea, if you please, miss," in such a loud and distinct tone of voice, that Cadet Doleton, who had been awakened from his swoon by the adventurous cockroach, heard plainly the words that were uttered..
" Come along, Lucretia, then, come along," said Miss Adela, “ there's no good staying down here in this dark cabin any longer.”
" Very well,” returned Miss Lucretia, “ you may go up. I'll follow you in half a minute ?"
“Why can't you come now?” asked Miss Adela.
“Dear me! Adela,” cried Miss Lucretia, petulantly, “I don't know why you are always questioning me, just as if I could not judge for myself what to do. Just as though I were a perfect child.”
“ I only asked you a question," returned Adela.
" Well then, if you must know," said Miss Lucretia, “ I only want to get a book to read.”
“I can wait for you then," returned her sister. “ I'm in no particular hurry," and the provoking creature insisted on remaining in the cabin, whilst Miss Lucretia had to open a drawer, and take out a volume of Cowper's poems, without the most remote idea of reading a page of it.
Thus, fairly baffled in her first attempt to delude her sister, Miss Lucretia Gowanspec quitted the cabin, internally cursing-if young ladies ever curse,
-the provoking adhesiveness of Miss Adela, who, without the least consciousness of what she was doing, was frustrating and annoying her younger sister at every step that she took. When Miss Lucretia, therefore, entered the cuddy, and took her seat at the table, an observer might have seen, by the pouting of her pretty lips, that she had got an attack of the sullens. This, however, did not last very long, for a bright thought having suddenly flashed across her mind, her face became suddenly irradiated, and she looked quite bland again, as she said to her sister, “ Dear me, I have forgotten my handkerchief."
The young lady rose up, and was about to retire down the after hatchway in search of the forgotten mouchoir, when suddenly a most unexpected apparition arrested the course of her movements; she resumed her seat, turned very pale, trembled a little, and fixed her eyes on the open book before her, with a violent effort to appear collected. This apparition was, in point of fact, nothing more unearthly or supernatural than the material presence of Peregrine Pultuney, who, just at this moment, entered the cuddy, looking as cheerful and composed as he had ever looked in the whole course of his
But to Miss Lucretia Gowanspec, who was fully persuaded, in her own mind, that she had left our hero closely confined in the linen chest, the sight
that greeted her, was as the sight of a spectre, and she was by no means sure that she had not in reality seen one. She was quite certain that she had turned the key, and, moreover, that she had got it in her pocket. She could not have made any mistake about his having entered the box; she had helped to stow him in with her own hands, and had given him a kiss on the cheek, before she shut down the lid. There could be no mistake about that; but here was the gentleman before her, visibly at least, if not corporeally. Perhaps he had been smothered in the linen chest, and this was his wraith come to reproach her.
But this delusion was but short lived, for, whilst the young lady was making up her mind whether to rush out of the cuddy, or do a fit in the chair, she heard the well-known voice of our hero close beside her, saying in a low and insinuating tone, “ Will Miss Lucretia Gowanspec play écarté tonight, or is she determined to pore over her book?"
As ghosts are not in the habit of playing at écarté, this question fully convinced Miss Lucretia that it was a corporeal substance, and not an aerial being that had just glided into the chair beside her. Still, however, she was so overwhelmed with astonishment that she could not articulate a word. She lifted up her heavy eyelids for a minute, and glanced sideways at Peregrine Pultuney. He was there—there was no mistaking that, though the manner of his getting there was involved in obscurity.