He slept for an hour or two, but awoke feeling strangely unrefreshed. But he joined Hartwell at breakfast and heard the news that the latter had acquired during his usual half-hour's stroll through the village.

After shaking his guest warmly by the hand, Hartwell cried:

“What, Mr. Wesley, was it that you did not believe you had adventure enough for one Summer's day, that you must needs fare forth in search of others before sunrise?”

Wesley laughed.

“I ventured nothing, my good friend,” he said. “I came upon the shipwrecked man by the blessing of God, in good time. I have been wondering since I rose if he had suffered shipwreck. Did you learn so much at the village—and pray hath he fully recovered himself?”

“I dare not say fully, but he has recovered himself enough to be able to tell his story,” replied Hartwell.

“And he was wrecked?”

“Only swamped at sea. He is a ship-master, Snowdon, by name, but 'twas not his own craft that went down, but only a miserable coasting ketch that ventured from Bristol port to Poole with a cargo of pottery—something eminently sinkable. Strange to say, Captain Snowdon set out from Bristol, wanting to go no further than our own port; for why? you ask. Why, sir, for a true lover's reason, which may be reckoned by some folk as no reason at all—namely a hope to get speedily by the side of his mistress, this lady being none other than our friend, the pretty and virtuous young woman known as Nelly Polwhele.”

“Ah! Nelly Polwhele?”

“None other, sir. It seems that Nelly met this good master-mariner a year ago at Bristol, and following the usage of all our swains, he falls in love with her. And she, contrary to her usage of the stay-at-home swains who piped to her, replies with love for love. But a long voyage loomed before him, so after getting her promise, he sails for the China Seas and the coast of the Great Mogul. Returning with a full heart and, I doubt not, a full pocket as well, he is too impatient to wait for the sailing of a middle-sized packet for Falmouth or Plymouth, he must needs take a passage in the first thing shaped like a boat that meant to come round the Lizard, and this was a ketch of some ten ton, that opened every seam before the seas that the hurricane of yesterday raised up in the Channel, and so got swamped when trying to run ashore on some soft ground. Nelly's shipmaster, Mr. Snowdon, must have been struggling in the water for something like four hours, and was washed up, well-nigh at the very door of the young woman's cottage, and so—well, you know more of the remainder of the story than doth any living man—not even excepting the Captain himself.”

“And the young woman—have you heard how she received her lover?” asked Wesley.

“Ah, that is the point at which Rumour becomes, for a marvel, discreetly silent,” replied Hartwell. “I suppose it is taken for granted that the theme has been dealt with too frequently by the poets to have need to be further illustrated by a fisherman's daughter. Take my word for it, sir, the young woman, despite her abundance of womanly traits, is a good and kind and true girl at heart. She hath not been spoiled by the education which she received as companion to the Squire's young ladies.”

“That was my judgment, too,” said Wesley. “I pray that the man will be a good husband to her. His worldly position as the master of an East Indiaman is an excellent one.”

“He will make her a very suitable husband,” said Hartwell. “I must confess that I have had my fears for her. She is possessed of such good looks—a dangerous possession for such a young woman, sir. These, coupled with her intimate association with the Squire's daughters, might have led her into danger. A less sensible girl would certainly be likely to set her cap at someone a good deal above her in station—a dangerous thing—very dangerous!”

“No doubt, sir. And now you are disposed to think that her happiness is, humanly speaking, assured?”

“I think that she is a very fortunate young woman, and that the man is even more fortunate still. Old Polwhele, in his whimsical way, however, protests that he wishes the man whose intent it is to rob him of his daughter, had got drowned. He grumbled about the part you played in the matter—he was very whimsical. 'What, sir,' he grumbled to me just now, 'is Mr. Wesley not content with looking after our souls—is he turning his attention to our bodies as well? Old Polwhele has a nimble wit.”

“It was not I, but John bennet, who was fortunate enough to restore the man: he treated him altogether skilfully, the revenue patrol-man told me.”

Hartwell threw up his hands in surprise. Then he frowned. He was plainly puzzled for some time. At last he said:

“Mr. Wesley, if Bennet saved that man's life he must have stumbled on him while it was yet dark—too dark to let him see the man's face.”

“But how should he know who the man was, even if he had seen his face?”

“He was acquainted with Mr. Snowdon at Bristol, and his grievance was that if Snowdon had not appeared, the girl would have accepted his own suit. Oh, yes; it must have been too dark for him to see the man's face, or it would have gone hardly with the poor fellow.”

There was a considerable pause before Wesley said:

“You are right, it was too dark to allow him to recognise the man's features. Has he been seen at the village during the morning?”

“If he has I heard nothing of it,” replied Hartwell, “it might be as well to say a word of warning to Mr. Snowdon respecting him; he is a madman, and dangerous. You do not forget the mad thing he said about you on Sunday, sir?”

“I have not forgotten it,” said Wesley in a low voice. “I have not forgotten it. I think that I shall set out upon my journey this afternoon.”

The pause that he made between his sentences was so slight as to suggest that they were actually connected—that there was some connection between the thing that Bennet had said and his own speedy departure.

His host, who was in good spirits after his walk in the early sunshine, gave a laugh and asked him in no spirit of gravity if he felt that it was necessary for him to fly lest Captain Snowdon should develop the same spirit of jealousy that had made Bennet fit for Bedlam.

Wesley shook his head and smiled.

“Need I ask your pardon for a pointless jest, sir?” cried Hartwell. “Nay, dear sir and brother, I hope you will find good reason for remaining with us for a few days still. You have had a trying time since you came, Mr. Wesley; and I do not think that you are fit to set out on so rude a journey.”

“I confess that I feel somewhat exhausted,” said Wesley, “but I have hope that an hour or two in the saddle will restore me.”

Hartwell did his best to persuade him to reconcile himself to the idea of staying in the neighbourhood for at least another day, but without success.

“I must go. I feel that I must go, grateful though I be to you for your offer of hospitality,” said Wesley.

“Then I will not say a further word. If it be a matter of feeling with you, I do not feel justified in asking you to change your intention,” said Hartwell. “I shall give orders as to your horse without delay.”

But the horse was not needed that day, nor was it likely to be needed for some time to come, for within the hour after breakfast Mr. Wesley was overcome by a shivering fit and compelled to take to his bed. It became plain that he had caught a chill—the wonder was that it had not manifested itself sooner, considering that he had sat for so long the day before in his saturated garments, and the very trying morning that he had had. Mr. Hartwell, who had some knowledge of medicine, and a considerable experience of the simpler maladies to which his miners were subject, found that he was more than a little feverish, and expressed the opinion that he would not be able to travel for a full week. Wesley, who, himself, knew enough about the treatment of disease to allow of his writing a book on the subject, agreed with him, that it was not necessary to send for a physician, who might possibly differ from both of them in his diagnosis.

For three days he remained in bed, and in spite of the fact that he would have nothing to say to the Peruvian bark which his host so strongly recommended, his feverish tendency gradually abated, and by careful nursing he was able to sit up in his room by the end of a week.

In the meantime he had many visitors, though he refrained from seeing any of them. His host told him that Miller Pendelley, Jake Pullsford, and Hal Holmes had driven more than once from Ruthallion when they heard of his illness; but of course the earliest and most constant of the enquirers after his health were Nelly Polwhele and her lover. Mr. Hartwell told him how greatly distressed they were, and perhaps it was natural, he added, that the girl should be the one who laid the greatest emphasis upon the fact that they were the cause of Mr. Wesley's suffering. She was undoubtedly a sweet and unselfish girl, Hartwell said; and he feared that Captain Snowdon thought that she was making too great a fuss in referring to the risks which he, Wesley, had run to bring her happiness. Snowdon, being a man, had not her imagination; and besides his life had been made up of running risks for the benefit of other people, and he was scarcely to be blamed if he took a less emotional view of, at least, the incident of Wesley's finding him exhausted on the shore in the early dawn.

“I spoke with him to-day,” said Hartwell when his guest was able to hear these things, “and while he certainly showed himself greatly concerned at your sickness, he grumbled, half humorously, when he touched upon the way he was being neglected by the young woman. 'I am being hardly treated, sir,' he said. 'What is a simple master-mariner at best alongsides a parson with a persuasive voice? But when the parson adds on to his other qualities the dash and derring-do of a hero it seems to me that a plain man had best get into his boat, if so be that he have one, and sail away—it boots not whither, so long as he goes. Oh, ay, sir, I allow that your Mr. Wesley hath made short work of me.' Those were his words; and though they were followed by an earnest enquiry after your health, I could see that he would as lief that he owed his life to a more ordinary man.”

“If I had not been overtaken by this sickness he would have had no cause for complaint,” said Wesley. After a pause he touched with caution upon a matter over which he had been thinking for some time.

“Mr. Snowdon heard nothing about a rival other than myself in the young woman's regard?” he said.

“Oh, not he,” replied Hartwell quickly. “Snowdon is not the fellow to listen to all that the gossips may say about Madam Nelly's liking for admiration—he knows well that so pretty a thing will be slandered, even when she shows herself to be wisely provident by seeking to have two strings to her bow. But, indeed, whatever her weakness may have been in the past, she hath been a changed girl since you first came hither. Captain Snowdon has no rival but yourself, sir, and I am certain that the honest fellow would not for the world that the young woman abated aught of her gratitude to you. He has too large a heart to harbour any thought so unworthy of a true man.”

“God forbid that anything should come between them and happiness,” said Wesley.

“'Tis all unlikely,” said his host. “He must see that her love for him must be in proportion to her gratitude to you for having done all that you have done for him. If she did not love him dearly she would have no need to be half so grateful to you.”

Wesley said nothing more on this point. He had not forgotten what Nelly had confided to him and the counsel which he had given her just before the hurricane had cut short their conversation on the cliffs. She had told him her story, confessing that the man to whom she had given her promise was less dear to her now that she was in daily expectation of meeting him after the lapse of a year than he had been when they had parted; and he had defined, in no doubtful language, the direction in which her duty lay.

For the rest of the time that they were together neither he nor she had made any reference to this matter; but he had not ceased to think upon it. After what Mr. Hartwell had said he felt reassured. He had brought himself to feel that he could only be happy if the girl's happiness were assured; and he believed that this could only be accomplished by her keeping the promise which she had given to a man who was worthy of her. However she might have fancied that her love had waned or turned in another direction during the year they had been parted, he was convinced that it would return, as true and as fresh as before, with the return of Captain Snowdon.

All that Hartwell had said bore him out in this view which he was disposed to take of the way of this maid with the man. Hartwell was a man of judgment and observation, and if there had been any division between the two people in whom they were interested, he would undoubtedly have noticed it. He had described the grievance of which Snowdon had complained in a humorous way; and Wesley knew that if the man felt that he had a grievance of the most grievous sort that can fall upon a man, he would not have referred to it in such a spirit.

And then the day came when Wesley was able to talk, without being hushed by his hospitable friend, of mounting his horse and resuming his-journey in the west. He had many engagements, and was getting daily more anxious to fulfil them before the summer should be over.

“If it rested with me, sir,” said Hartwell, “I would keep you here for another month and feel that I was the most favoured of men; but in this-matter I dare not be selfish. I know what, with God's blessing, you seek to accomplish, and I feel that to stay you from your journey would be an offence.”

“You have been more than good to me, my brother,” said Wesley. “And now in parting from, you, I do not feel as did the Apostle Paul when leaving those friends of his who sorrowed knowing that they should see his face no more. I know that your sorrow is sincere, because I know how sincere is my own, but if God is good to us we shall all meet again after a season.”

“That is what we look forward to; you have sown the good seed among us and you must return to see what your harvest will be,” said Hartwell.

They agreed that his horse was to be in readiness the next morning. This was at their noon dinner, and they had scarcely risen from the table when the maidservant entered with the enquiry if Mr. Wesley would allow Captain Snowdon to have a word with him in private.

“I was expecting this visitor,” said Hartwell. “It would be cruel for you to go away without receiving the man, albeit I think that you would rather not hear him at this time. Let me reassure you: he will not be extravagant in his acknowledgment of the debt which he owes to you; he is a sailor, and scant of speech.”

“Why should I not see him?” said Wesley. “I am not afraid to face him! even a demonstration of his gratitude. Pray let him be admitted.”

Very different indeed was the stalwart man who was shown into the room from the poor half-drowned wretch whom Wesley had helped to carry from the shore to the boat. Captain Snowdon stood over six feet—a light-haired, blue-eyed man who suggested a resuscitated Viking of the milder order, brown faced and with a certain indefinable expression of shrewd kindliness which might occasionally take the form of humour and make itself felt by a jovial slap on the back that would make most men stagger.

He was shy, and he had plainly been walking fast.

These were the two things that Wesley noticed when Hartwell was shaking hands with the man, and the latter had wiped his forehead with a handkerchief as splendid as the western cloud of a sunset in the Tropics—a handkerchief that seemed a floating section of the Empire of the Great Mogul—dazzling in red and yellow and green—a wonder of the silk loom.

“You and Mr. Wesley have already met, Mr. Snowdon,” said Hartwell with a smile, and forthwith quitted the room.

Captain Snowdon looked after him rather wistfully. He seemed to be under the impression that Mr. Hartwell had deserted him. Then he glanced with something of surprise in the direction of Wesley, and was apparently surprised to see his hand stretched out in greeting. He took the hand very gingerly and with nothing of a seaman's bluffness or vigour.

“Seeing you at this time, Captain Snowdon, makes me have a pretty conceit of myself,” said Wesley. “Yes, sir, I feel inclined to boast that I was one of the four who bore you from the high beach to the boat—I would boast of the fact only that I know I should never be believed. You do not seem to have suffered by your mishap.”

“Thank you, sir, I am a man that turns the corner very soon in matters of that sort, and then I race ahead,” replied the master-mariner.

“You have become accustomed to such accidents, sir,” said Wesley.

“Ay, sir, the salt sea and me have ever been friends, and more than once we have had a friendly tussle together, but we bear no malice therefor, neither of us—bless your heart, none whatever,” said Snowdon. “Why, the sea is my partner in trade—the sea and the wind, we work together, but you, Mr. Wesley, I grieve to see you thus, sir, knowing that 'twas on my account. What if you'd been finished off this time—wouldn't the blame fall on me? Shouldn't I be looked on as your murderer?”

“I cannot see on what principle you should, sir,” said Wesley. “In the first place the chill from which I have now, by the blessing of Heaven, fully recovered, was not due to my having been one of the four men who carried you down the beach, though I should have no trouble in getting anyone to believe that I suffered from exhaustion. No, Mr. Snowdon, I had contracted the complaint before I was fortunate enough to come upon you in my early morning's walk.”

“Anyway, sir, you earned my gratitude; though indeed, I feel as shy as a school miss to mention such a word in your presence. If I know aught of you, Mr. Wesley, and I think that I can take the measure of a man whether he be a man or a parson, if I know aught of you, sir, I repeat, you would be as uneasy to hear me talk of gratitude as I should be to make an offer to talk of the same.”

“You are right in that respect, Mr. Snowdon. Between us—men that understand each other—there need be no protestation of feeling.”

“Give me your hand, sir; you have just said what I should like to say. I feel that you know what I feel—you know that if there was any way for me to prove my gratitude——=”

“Ah, you have said the word again, and I understood that it was to be kept out of our conversation. But I am glad that you said so much, for it enables me to say that you have the means of showing your gratitude to Heaven for your preservation, and I know that you will not neglect such means. You will be a good husband to Nelly Polwhele—that is the way by which you will show how you appreciate the blessing of life!”

Captain Snowdon's face became serious—almost gloomy—as gloomy as the face of such a man can become. He made no reply for a few moments. He crossed the room and looked out of the window. Once more he pulled out his handkerchief and mopped his brow with that bit of the gorgeous. Orient.

Then he turned to Wesley, saying:

“Mr. Wesley, sir, I have come to you at this; time to talk about Nelly Polwhele, if I may make so bold.”

“I can hear a great deal said about Nelly Polwhele so long as it is all that is good,” said Wesley.

“I am not the man to say aught else,” said Snowdon. “Only—well, sir, the truth is I don't quite know what to make of Nelly.”

“Make her your happy wife, Captain Snowdon,” said Wesley.

“That's what I look forward to, sir; but she is not of the same way of thinking, worse luck!”

“You cannot mean that she—she—what, sir, did not she give you her promise a year ago?”

“That she did, sir; but that's a year ago. Oh, Mr. Wesley, I believe that all of her sex are more or less of a puzzle to a simple man, and in matters of love all men are more or less simple, but Nelly is more of a puzzle than them all put together.”

“How so? I have ever found her straightforward and natural—all that a young woman should be.”.

“Ay, sir; but you have not been in love with her.”

Wesley looked at him for a moment or two without a word. Then he said:

“Pray proceed, sir.”

“The truth is, Mr. Wesley, the girl no longer loves me as she did, and all this time my love for her has been growing,” said Snowdon. “Why, sir, she as good as confessed it to me no later than yesterday, when I taxed her with being changed. 'I must have another year,' she said. 'I cannot marry you now.'Twould be cruel to forsake my father and mother,' says she. 'You no longer love me, or you would not talk like that,' says I, and she hung her head. It was a clear minute before she said, 'That is not the truth, dear. How could I help loving you when I have given you my promise. All I ask is that you should not want me to marry you until I am sure of myself—another year,' says she. Now, Mr. Wesley, you are a parson, but you know enough of the affairs of mankind to know what all of this means—I know what it means, sir; it means that another man has come between us. You can easily understand, Mr. Wesley, that a well-favoured young woman, that has been educated above her station, should have her fancies, and maybe set her affections on someone that has spoken a word or two of flattery in her ear.”

“I can scarce believe that of her, Mr. Snowdon. But she was at the Bath a few months ago, and perhaps—Mr. Snowdon, do you think that any words of mine—any advice to her—would have effect?”

The sailor's eyes gleamed; he struck his left palm with his right fist.

“Why, sir, that's the very thing that I came hither to beg of you,” he cried. “I know in what esteem she holds you, Mr. Wesley; and I said to myself yesterday when I sat on the crags trying to worry out the day's work so that I might arrive at the true position of the craft that I'm a-trying to bring into haven—says I, ''Tis trying to caulk without oakum to hope to prevail against a young woman that has a fancy that she doesn't know her own mind. But in this case if there's anyone living that she will listen to 'tis Mr. Wesley.' Those was my words.”

“I cannot promise that I shall prevail with her; but I have confidence that she will at least hearken to me,” said Wesley.

“No fear about that, sir,” cried the other, almost joyfully. He took a step or two toward the door, having picked up his hat, which he stood twirling for a few moments. Then he slowly turned and faced Wesley once again.

“Mr. Wesley,” he said in a low voice. “Mind this, sir: I would not have you do anything in this matter unless you feel that 'twould be for the good of the girl. 'Tis of the girl we have to think in the first place—the girl and her happiness. We must keep that before us, mustn't we, sir? So I ask of you as a man of judgment and wisdom and piety to abstain from saying a word to her in my favour unless you are convinced that I am the man to make her happy. Look at me, sir. I tell you that I will not have the girl cajoled into marrying a man simply because she has given him her promise. What! should she have a life of wretchedness simply because a year ago she did not know her own mind?”

“Captain Snowdon, give me leave to tell you that you are a very noble fellow,” said Wesley. “The way you have acted makes me more certain than ever that Nelly Polwhele is the most fortunate young woman in Cornwall, no matter what she may think of the matter. Since I have heard you, sir, what before was a strong intention has become a duty. Hasten to Nelly and send her hither.”

The man went to the door quickly, but when there he hesitated.

“To be sure 'twould be better if you was to speak to her without her knowing that I had been with you; but we cannot help that; we are not trying to trick the girl into keeping her promise,” said he.

“The knowledge that you have been with me would make no difference to her,” said Wesley. “She knows that I would not advise her against my judgment, to please even the man who, I know, loves her truly as man could love woman.”

Captain Snowdon's broad back filled up the doorway in an instant.

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