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dress himself. A servant was passing out of the cuddy-Peregrine looked at him; he was a stranger, indeed there seemed to be nothing but strangers on board. To this cuddy-servant, however, he addressed himself, and asked if Mrs. Poggleton were on board—if Mrs. Poggleton were in her cabin. The man said he believed so, and passed on—whilst Peregrine entered the cuddy.
He looked round, and there were two or three servants standing by the side-boards arranging teacups and the like, but otherwise the place was deserted. Peregrine wished to see the captain, but on inquiry he found that that gentleman was asleep in his cabin-taking an after dinner nap-so he said “ never mind” and passed on.
He knew which was his aunt's cabin—the starboard half of the round-house—and so, without asking any more questions or seeking any further aid, he walked aft towards the cabin door. As he passed along, another door opened, and a little flaxenhaired child (the daughter of the captain, whose wife happened to be on board) put out her little head, stared at Peregrine, and seeing a stranger, drew back again blushing and smiling the while. Peregrine, whose hand was by this time on the handle of his aunt's door, stood still, looked at the child, felt very nervous, very irresolute, withdrew his hand, took off his hat, and then tapped at the door.
“Come in," said a sweet voice-it was the voice
of his cousin Julia—there was no mistaking its tones.
Peregrine opened the door, and a loud shriek of terror and agony greeted him as he passed in. It was not repeated, but, in the next instant, he heard something fall on the deck. The sun was just setting astern of the ship, and its bright rays streamed through the cabin windows full into Peregrine's face-dazzling and blinding him for the moment, so that he heard the shriek and the fall before he could distinguish any thing in the cabin. This was not long though, for almost instantly he raised his hand, shaded his eyes, and saw that which filled him with boundless astonishment and dismay.
His cousin Julia was lying on the deck, her head supported by a young man in deep black, who was kneeling down and bending over her, whilst a little behind them stood Mrs. Poggleton, who had apparently just risen from the stern lockers, transfixed with astonishment, mouth agape and arms extended, utterly motionless as a statue. The gentleman, to whom Peregrine first directed his attention, was seemingly little more than five-and-twenty years of age, tall, well-proportioned, with dark hair and eyes, and intellectual-looking rather than handsome. Deep concern was depicted on his expressive face, as he bent fondly over the young girl on the deck, and so entirely were his thoughts fixed upon her and her condition, that he did not even raise his eyes to look upon the intruder, whose entrance had
thus strangely affected her. Peregrine stood staring at him for a minute or two, and then, clenching his fist menacingly, exclaimed in a choaking voice and with flashing eyes, “ You—who the devil are you, sir?"
He was advancing, with threatening gestures, to lay hold of the man in black by the collar, when Mrs. Poggleton, as though suddenly called into life again by the sound of Peregrine's voice, came forward with a quick step, laid her hand upon the arm of her nephew, and said—“Oh! dear me-don't, Peregrine, don't only think-what will become of us all—I really don't know what to do-pray, don't. Peregrine-pray, don't I expect to die on the spot-only think, to see you in this way-oh deardear me !"
“What does all this mean?" asked Peregrine, hoarsely. “For God's sake tell me what it means."
"I really don't know," faltered the old lady; " you ought to tell us dear me! But pray, stand still, Peregrine; you see that Julia's in a fit-in convulsions—dying or something-only think-and you here—dear me, dear me!"
Having explained the present state of affairs in this very satisfactory manner, Mrs. Poggleton began to exhibit strong symptoms of being about to follow the example of her daughter, but Peregrine put his arm round his aunt's waist, and again said to her, " What is all this—who is that man-what does it mean?"
“Oh, Peregrine! who would have ever thought it !" sighed Mrs. Poggleton, laying her head upon her nephew's shoulder; “ dear me! who would ever have thought it? I don't know what to say, Peregrine; I think I shall die outright; and you do look so very angry, with your clenched fist and all; I really don't know what to think of it—dear me, dear me !"
“But who is that man?" asked Peregrine again; " who is that man I say? Who are you, sir—why are you here?"
But the man in black made no answer; he was sprinkling water over Julia's face, and apparently unconscious of any other presence than that of the inanimate girl at his feet. Peregrine shouted to him again, but he only lifted up his face for a minute, looked meekly at the youth, and withdrew his gaze without speaking a word. This incensed Peregrine more than any other conduct could have done, and again he lifted up his voice: “ Curse you! I say, who are you?"
“Do not curse," said the young man, mildly, without raising his head.
" Stop, Peregrine, stop,” cried Mrs. Poggleton; “ do not strike him; you will be sorry for it. Dear me, only think-to strike a clergyman-dear me!"
“A clergyman," muttered Peregrine, turning away, and suddenly growing more calm, “ I may have been wrong then after all.” * “But, Peregrine, tell me now," began Mrs. Poggleton.
“Hear me first," interrupted Peregrine,—“ hear me first, pray, aunt. I have not very much to say, nor do I wish you to say much; but answer me this, and at once. Is that young man-I mean, has that young man any right to be here, bending over Julia in that way? Is he her lover-her ascepted-has he a better right to be here than I have?" *" Dear me!" returned Mrs. Poggleton, trembling all over, “whatever am I to say? I don't know who has a right to be here--I know nothing at all, but that I am a very, very miserable woman. I never thought it would come to this-never: oh, dear me!"
It was entirely in keeping with such a nature ss Peregrine's that, in spite of all foregoing circumstances, he should have been lashed into a whirlpool of angry excitement, by seeing the equivocal situation in which his betrothed bride was placed with regard to the gentleman in black. It mattered not that his love had been for months on the decrease, and that Julia, though his intended wife, was not the idol of his heart. He had hurried down the river, and gone on board the ship; he had suffered more than words could tell; he had done a violence to his nature, and broken a chain which had carried his very heart-strings with it; and all to be greeted in this way—to find his betrothed wife in the arms of an intruding stranger.
It was natural that he, high-spirited, as he was, should in this emergency have thought, in the first