"Don't do that, dear. You are a long way from your father's house, and they may not know his name; so do not talk about flogging, but only about the money they will get if they take you back. They are poor men, they have had a great deal to suffer, and have been made very savage; so it is best for you to speak kindly and softly to them. Now, dear, let us turn down that collar, so that they can see your face, and take your things off your head, and then go out and speak to them. They are close here."
"I have been thinking of that, Aunt. The Boxer was there last night and captured the smuggler, but her crew had nothing to do with the fight on shore; and, therefore, I don't think there is any chance of his being able to interfere in the matter. Still, I will see him as soon as the cutter comes in."
"Yes, they were," Julian said. "I have a guinea and some odd silver. I will keep the odd silver for the present, for it may come in handy later on; but here is the guinea, and if there are any means of getting anything with it, order what you like."
"Go then, lad," the man said. "I have always thought that you have borne up very well; but I know it is even worse for you than it is for us sailors. We are accustomed to be cooped up for six months at a time on board a ship, without any news from outside; with nothing to do save to see that the decks are washed, and the brasses polished, except when there is a shift of wind or a gale. But to anyone like yourself, I can understand that it must be terrible; and if you feel getting into that state, I should say go by all means."
Mrs. Troutbeck was quite satisfied with the explanation, and was at once taken up to bed by the servant, while Frank, seeing that it was as yet but eight o'clock, put on his cap and ran to Mr. Henderson's. The latter was at home, and received with great pleasure the news that Julian was alive. He read the letter through attentively.
Julian's face paled at the sudden news, and he sat for a minute or two in silence.
"There is nothing to do, Aunt, that I can see. As to the disgrace, that is nothing very dreadful. No end of people are mixed up in smuggling; and I have heard that many of the gentry wink at it, and are glad enough to buy a keg of brandy cheap without asking any questions where it comes from. So the mere fact that Julian went to have a look at a cargo being run is not anything very serious. I suppose it was against the law even to be present, but there was nothing disgraceful about it. It is lucky my holidays began last week, and if there is anything to be done I can do it."
Leaving the other two talking together, Frank went on home. Mrs. Troutbeck was greatly shocked at the news.
"May the great Father bless you, my child. I have seen many glad days since I entered the service of your house sixty years ago. I was present at your grandfather's wedding, and your father's, but never was there so bright and happy a day as this, which but half an hour ago was so dark and sad. It was but three days ago that the whole household went into mourning for you, for the news your father brought home seemed to show that all hope was at an end. In five minutes all this has changed. You see the maids have got on their festive dresses, and I will warrant me they never changed their things so rapidly before. Now we have but to get your beloved mother strong again, which, please God, will not be long, and then this will be the happiest house in all Russia."
"He made a step towards me with a threatening gesture."