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captain, bringing-to suddenly. “You must all make this next voyage in my clipper. It'll do you all a world o' good, and me too."
“Nonsense, John,” said Richard, feeling, however, that a faint light dawned through the proposal.
“Don't call it nonsense till you've slept upon it, Dick. The ship's part mine, and I can make it easy for you. You'll have to pay a little passage-money, just to keep me right with the rest of the owners; but that wont be much, and you're no screw, though I did say you were too greedy after the money.
I believe it's not the money so much as the making of it that fills
“Still, you wouldn't have me let the business go to the dogs ?”
“No fear of that, with Stopper at the head of affairs. I'll tell you what you must do.
You must take him in.”
“Into partnership, do you mean ?” said Richard, his tone expressing no surprise, for he had thought of this before.
“Yes, I do. You'll have to do it some day, and the sooner the better. If you don't, you'll lose him, and that you'll find wont be a mere loss.
That man'll make a dangerous enemy. Where he bites he'll hold. And now's a good time to serve yourself and him too."
“ Perhaps you're right, brother,” answered the merchant, emptying his glass of claret and filling it again instantly, an action indicating a certain perturbed hesitation not in the least common to him. “I'll turn it over in my mind. I certainly should not be sorry to have a short holiday. I haven't had one to speak of for nearly twenty years, I do believe.”
John judged it better not to press him. He believed from what he knew of himself and his brother too that good advice was best let alone to work its own effects. He turned the conversation to something indiffe rent.
But after this many talks followed. Mrs. Boxall of course was consulted. Although she shrank from the thought of a sea-voyage, she yet saw in the proposal a way out of many difficulties, especially as giving room for time to work one of his especial works—that of effacement. So between the three the whole was arranged before either of the young people was spoken to on the subject. Jane heard
Jane heard it with a rush of blood to her heart that left her dark face almost livid. Mary received the news gladly, even merrily, though a slight paleness followed and just indicated that she regarded the journey as the symbol and sign of severed bonds. Julia, a plump child of six, upon whose condition no argument for the voyage could be founded, danced with joy at the idea of going in Uncle John's ship. Mr. Stopper threw no difficulty in the way of accepting a partnership in the concern, and thus matters were arranged.
John Boxall had repeatedly visited his mother during the six weeks he spent at his brother's house. He seldom saw Lucy, however, because of her engagement at the Morgensterns', until her grandmother's sickness kept her more at home. Then, whether it was that Lucy expected her uncle to be prejudiced against her, or that he really was so prejudiced, I do not know, but the two did not take much to each other. Lucy considered her uncle a common and rough-looking sailor ; John Boxall called his niece a fine lady. And so they parted.
On the same day on which Thomas and Lucy had their blow on the river, the Ningpo had cleared out of St. Katharine's Dock, and was lying in the Upper Pool, all but ready to drop down with the next tide to Gravesend, where she was to take her passengers on board.
HE next day, Thomas had made up his
mind not to go near Guild Court; but in the afternoon Mr. Stopper himself sent him to bring an old ledger from the floor above Mrs. Boxall's. As he got down from his perch, and proceeded to get his hat
“ There's no use in going round such a way," said Mr. Stopper.
“ Mr. Boxall's not in; you can go through his room. Here's the key of the door. Only mind you lock it when you come back.”
The key used to lie in Mr. Boxall's drawer, but now Mr. Stopper took it from his own. Thomas was not altogether pleased at the change of approach, though why, he would hardly have been able to tell. Probably he felt something