Part 10 (1/2)

”We don't stand on ceremony here,” said he. ”Our visitors are always welcome, and expected to make themselves at home. (Pointing with the carving-knife to opposite sides of the table.) Take seats, take seats, now,” he concluded.

Mrs. Chapman made a motion to seat Mattie on Mr. Gusher's left, an honor she did not seem to appreciate, for she insisted on taking a seat opposite--her proper place.

When dinner was over Mr. Gusher escorted Mattie back into the parlor.

”You shall understand me better, miz, I am sure you shall, as we get better acquainted. And now you shall zing to me, and play me some music,” said he, opening the piano and arranging the stool and music.

”You will zee I shall make myself agreeable,” he repeated two or three times, then extending his hand. But instead of accepting it Mattie returned a cold, formal bow, and proceeded to the piano unaided.

”The truth is, Mr. Gusher,” said Mattie, running her fingers up and down the keys, and looking up archly in Mr. Gusher's face, ”I am only taking lessons, and can't play or sing so as to interest you.”

”Excuse, miz. You want I pay you ze compliment. Well, I shall do zat when I hear ze music.”

The fair girl now tossed her golden curls back over her shoulders, and began singing one of the most solemn and melancholy of pieces, to her own accompaniment. Her voice was indeed full of sweetness, and she could sing with some skill and effect; but she was just at this time more inclined to play on Mr. Gusher's feelings than to do justice to her musical talent.

”There's something sweet and touching in this melancholy music, I like it, Mr. Gusher,” she said, pausing and looking up in his face tantalizingly; ”don't you?”

Mr. Gusher shook his head disapprovingly, and shrugged his shoulders.

”No, no, miz; I nevare like ze funeral music. I go to ze funeral of my friend wiz music like zat.”

”I am very sorry to hear you say so, Mr. Gusher. I play it whenever mother will let me. And I enjoy it so much. Reminds me of a dear young friend now far away.”

”Now, miz, I makes my discovery,” returned Mr. Gusher, turning over a leaf of the music, and looking enquiringly into Mattie's face. ”Zat young friend, so far away, wiz his memory so near ze heart. Well, I shall think no more of zat. You shall zee I shall make my compliments, and shall cut out zat one young friend what is so far away. You shall zing me some grand music, so full of ze love, and ze poetry, so as my heart shall lift up wiz joy.” Here Mr. Gusher flourished his hands and executed several waltzing steps, as an expression of how his feelings were excited by music.

Mattie turned suddenly around to witness this peculiar exhibition, when t.i.te's letter fell from her bosom to the floor.

”Ze revelation! Ze re-ve-la--what shall I say? If I only speak ze Englis so good as you, now!” exclaimed Gusher, affecting a loud laugh. And stooping down quickly, he attempted to seize the missive. Mattie was too quick for him. Regaining possession of it she restored it carefully to her bosom, an expression of joy and triumph lighting up her countenance.

Disappointment now took possession of Mr. Gusher's feelings. His manner indicated what his heart felt. Never before had his expectations and his ambition been so lowered, or his vanity so exposed. He had expected to find a beautiful, simple-minded country girl, ready with hand and heart to become a willing captive to his charms. And yet he had failed to make the slightest impression on her. Nor was that all. Her heart and her thoughts were evidently engaged in another direction. What, he enquired of himself, could her mother have meant by the encouragement she gave him to visit her home and see her daughter? His curiosity to find out who it was that held such possession of this beautiful girl's affections was now excited to the highest pitch.

CHAPTER XVIII.

ROUNDING CAPE HORN.

Mr. Gusher, with his pride wounded, and a heavy heart, took leave of the Chapmans early on the following morning, and crossed the ferry on his way back to New York. The black bucket containing the capital stock of the great Kidd Discovery Company, in which his fancy pictured a dozen or more fortunes, and which he bore with him, afforded no relief for his disappointment. It might be the means of his owning a fine house, riding in his own carriage, and being considered a rich man by society. But, after all, riches only embodied the hard features of dollars and cents.

Who could find romance in the pursuit of dollars and cents? he thought.

You could carry fame into the grave with you. Dollars and cents might buy you a fine coffin, and bring rich friends to your funeral; but they left you at the tomb door.

Had Mr. Gusher gone back to New York in the belief that he had made an impression on the affections of that pretty, simple-hearted country girl, Mattie Chapman, what a happy man he would have been. He resolved, however, not to be vanquished in this way--not to give it up--but to continue his attentions, and if possible gain a victory over her affections.

And now, gentle reader, you must accompany me to a very different part of the globe, and see what is going on there.

The s.h.i.+p Pacific had been refitted and put in sailing order at Bahia, and was now on her course for the Straits of Magellan. On reaching the lat.i.tude of the straits strong adverse winds set in, and gale succeeded gale until the sea became lashed into a tempest. The weather, too, was biting cold, and the crew suffered intensely. Not a gleam of sun had been seen for three weeks, and the s.h.i.+p's progress had to be worked by dead reckoning.

Morning after morning the st.u.r.dy old captain would come on deck, thrust his hands deep into the pockets of his pea-jacket, and look intently over the wild watery scene. Then he would shake his head despondingly.

”Never caught it this way afore,” he would say, addressing the officer of the watch. ”Never caught it this way afore. Somebody's brought bad luck aboard, or we should'nt have such weather as this.” Then he would disappear into the cabin and ponder over his chart, trying to work out the s.h.i.+p's position. But a strong current and the high wind, both setting in one direction, had carried him far beyond his reckoning, and into the vicinity of the Faulkland Islands.

All the light spars had been sent down, and for fifteen days the s.h.i.+p had labored in the sea under close-reefed topsails and jib, trying to make weather, but without gaining a mile.