by George Manville Fenn
Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6     Next Part
Home - Random Browse

"And cats?" sneered Arthur.

"No, there were no cats, Taff. I say, though, I wish you had been there, only not when we got into trouble. I'll get Josh and Will to take you next time we go."

"Next time you go!" echoed Arthur. "Why, you don't suppose that papa will let you go again?"

"Oh, yes, I do," said Dick, yawning and speaking drowsily. "Because a chap falls off a horse once, nobody says he isn't to ride any more. You'll see: father will let me go. I don't suppose—we should—should— what say?"

"I didn't speak," said Arthur haughtily. "There, go to sleep."

"Go to sleep!" said Dick. "No—not bit sleepy. I—I'm—very comfortable, though, and—and—Ah!"

That last was a heavy sigh, and Arthur Temple lay listening to his brother's deep regular breathing for some minutes, feeling bitter and hurt at all that had taken place that day, and as if he had been thrust into a very secondary place. Then he, too, dropped asleep, and he was still sleeping soundly when Dick awoke, to jump out of bed and pull up the blind, so that he could look out on the calm sea, which looked pearly and grey and rosy in the morning sunshine. Great patches of mist were floating here and there, hiding the luggers and shutting out headlands, and everywhere the shores looked so beautiful that the lad dressed hurriedly, donning an old suit of tweed, the flannels he had worn the day before being somewhere in the kitchen, where they were hung up to dry.

"I'd forgotten all about that," said Dick to himself. "I wonder where Will Marion is, and whether he'd go for a bathe."

Dick looked out on the calm sea, and wondered how anything could have been so awful looking as it seemed the night before.

"It must have been out there," he thought, as he looked at the sun-lit bay, then at the engine-houses far up on the hills and near the cliff, and these set him thinking about his father's mission in Cornwall.

"I wonder whether father will begin looking at the mines to-day!" he said to himself. "I should like to know what time it is! I wonder whether Will Marion is up yet, and—Hallo! what's this?"

Dick had caught sight of something lying on the table beside his brother's neat little dressing-case—a small leather affair containing brush, comb, pomatum, and scent-bottles, tooth-brushes, nail-brushes, and the usual paraphernalia used by gentlemen who shave, though Arthur Temple's face was as smooth as that of a little girl of nine.

Dick took up the something, which was of leather, and in the shape of a porte-monnaie with gilt metal edges, and on one side a gilt shield upon which was engraved, in flourishing letters, "AT."

"Old Taffs started a cigar-case," said Dick, bursting into a guffaw. "I wonder whether—yes—five!" he added, as he opened the case and saw five cigars tucked in side by side and kept in their places by a leather band. "What a game! I'll smug it and keep it for ever so long. He ought not to smoke."

Just then the handle of the door rattled faintly, the door was thrust open, and as Dick scuffled the cigar-case into his breast-pocket Mr Temple appeared, coming in very cautiously so as not to disturb his sick son.

Dick did not know it, but his father had been in four times during the night to lay a hand upon his forehead and listen to his breathing, and he started now in astonishment.

"What, up, Dick?" he said in a low voice, after a glance at the bed, where Arthur was sleeping soundly.

"Yes, father; I was going to have a bathe."

"But—do you feel well?"

"Yes, quite well, father. I'm all right."

Mr Temple looked puzzled for a few minutes, and then rubbed his ear, half-amused, half vexed.

"Don't wake Arthur," he said. "Come along down and we'll have a walk before breakfast."

"All right, father!" cried Dick smiling, and he followed his father out of the room and down-stairs, where they met the landlord.

"All right again then, sir?" said the latter cheerily. "Ah! I thought our salt-water wouldn't hurt him. Rather a rough ride for him, though, first time. When would you like breakfast, sir?"

"At eight," said Mr Temple; and after a few more words he and Dick strolled out upon the cliff.

"Now are you sure, Dick, that you are quite well?" said his father. "Have you any feverish sensations?"

"No, father."

"You don't feel anything at all?"

"No, father. Yes, I do," cried Dick sharply.

"Indeed! what?" cried Mr Temple.

"So precious hungry."

"Oh!" said his father, smiling. "Well, here is one who will find us some refreshment."

He pointed to a man with a large can, and they were willingly supplied each with a draught of milk, after which they bent their steps towards the pier.

"I have my glass, Dick," said Mr Temple, "and I can have a good look at the shore from out there."

"Lend it to me, father," cried Dick eagerly; and quickly focussing it, he directed it at a group of fishermen on their way down to the harbour.

"Yes, there they are," cried Dick eagerly. "There's Josh, and there's Will. I say, father, I don't believe they had the doctor to them last night," he added laughingly. "You were too frightened about me, you know."

"The danger is behind you now, and so you laugh at it, my boy," replied Mr Temple quietly; "but you did not feel disposed to laugh last night when you were drifting in the boat. And, Dick, my boy, some day you may understand better the meaning of the word anxiety."

"Were you very anxious about me last night, father?" said Dick eagerly.

"I was in agony, my boy," said Mr Temple quietly.

Dick's lips parted, and he was about to say something, but the words would not come. His lip quivered, and the tears rose to his eyes, but he turned away his head, thrust his hands down into his pockets, and began to whistle, while his father's brow wrinkled, and, not seeing his boy's face, nor reading the emotion the lad was trying to hide, his face grew more and more stern, while a sensation of mingled bitterness and pain made him silent for some little time.

They walked on in silence, till suddenly Mr Temple's eyes lit upon the top of the gilt-edged cigar-case sticking out of Dick's pocket.

"What have you there, Dick?" he said rather sternly.

"Where, father?"

"In your pocket."

"Nothing, father. My knife and things are in the other clothes. Oh, this!" he said, suddenly remembering the case, and turning scarlet.

"Yes," said Mr Temple severely, "that! Open it."

Dick took the case from his pocket slowly and opened it.

"I thought so," said Mr Temple sternly. "Cigars for a boy not sixteen! Are you aware, sir, that what may be perfectly correct in a man is often in a boy nothing better than a vice."

"Yes, father," said Dick humbly.

"So you have taken to smoking?"

"No, father."

"Don't tell me a falsehood, sir!" cried Mr Temple hotly. "How dare you deny it when you have that case in your hand. Now, look here, sir: I want to treat my boys as lads who are growing into men. I am not going to talk to you about punishment—I don't believe in coarse punishments. I want there to be a manly feeling of confidence between me and my boys."

Dick winced at that word confidence, and he wanted to say frankly that the case belonged to Arthur; but it seemed to him so mean to get out of a scrape by laying the blame upon another; and, besides, he knew how particular his father was about Arthur, and how he would be hurt and annoyed if he knew that his brother smoked.

"I am more angry than I could say," continued Mr Temple; "and I suppose I ought to take away that case, in which you have been foolish enough to spend your pocket-money; but I will not treat my boys as if I were a schoolmaster confiscating their playthings. Don't let me see that again."

"No, father," said Dick, with a sigh of relief, though he felt very miserable, and in momentary dread lest his father should ask him some pointed question to which he would be bound to reply.

They walked on in silence for some minutes, and the beautiful morning and grand Cornish scenery were losing half their charms, when Mr Temple finished his remarks about the cigar-case with:

"Did you smoke yesterday, Dick?"

"No, father?"

"Were you going to smoke to-day?"

"No, father."

"Honour, Dick?"

"Honour, father, and I won't smoke till you tell me I may."

Mr Temple looked at him for a moment, and then nodded his satisfaction.

By this time they were close to the harbour, where, being recognised by several of the fishermen, there was a friendly nod or two, and a smile from first one and then another, and a hearty sing-song "Good-morning!" before they reached the middle of the pier, close up to which the lugger was moored. Josh and Will were upon deck discussing what was to be done to the boat, partly stove in by the steamer on the previous evening; whether to try and patch her up themselves or to let her go to the boat hospital just beyond the harbour head, where old Isaac Pentreath, the boat-builder, put in new linings and put out new skins, and supplied schooners and brigs with knees or sheathing or tree-nail or copper bolt. He could furnish a stranger with boat or yacht to purchase or on hire.

"Mornin', sir!" sang out Josh. "Mornin', Master Richard, sir! None the worse for last night's work, eh?"

"No, I'm all right, Josh," said Dick. "Good-morning, Will! I say, you lost all the fish and the tackle last night, didn't you?"

"We lost all the fish, sir; but the tackle was all right; a bit tangled up, that's all."

"Oars is the worst of it," said Josh, "only they was old uns. Will and me's got a good pair, though, from up at Pentreath's. Game out of a French lugger as was wrecked."

"I want to have a look round at some of the old mine-shafts, my man," said Mr Temple. "Who can you tell me of as a good guide?"

"Josh, sir," said Will.

"Will, sir," said Josh.

"Josh knows all of them for three or four miles round."

"Not half so well as Will, sir. He's always 'vestigatin' of 'em," cried Josh.

"You, my lad?" said Mr Temple, turning sharply on Will, whose brown face grew red.

"Yes, sir; I have a look at them sometimes."

"Prospecting, eh?" said Mr Temple, smiling.

"We could both go if you like, sir," said Josh. "We could row you to Blee Vor, and to Oldman's Wheal and Blackbay Consols and Dynan Reor, and take you over the cliff to Revack and Rendullow and Saint Grant's."

"Why, Dick," said Mr Temple, "we have hit upon the right guides. When will you be at liberty, my lad?"

"Any time, sir, you like. We ain't going out with, our boots for the next few days."

"Not going out with your boots?" said Dick.

"Boots, not boots," said Josh, grinning. "I don't mean boots as you put on your foots, but boots that you sail in—luggers, like this."

"Oh! I see," said Dick.

"A mussy me!" muttered Josh. "The ignoramusness of these here London folk, to be sure."

"Could you row me and—say, my two sons—to one of the old mining shafts after breakfast this morning?"

"Think your uncle would mind, Will?" said Josh.

"No," replied Will.

"Of course you will charge me for the hire of the boat," said Mr Temple; "and here, my son ought to pay his share of the damage you met with last night;" and he slipped half a sovereign in Dick's hand—a coin he was about to transfer to Josh, but this worthy waved him off.

"No, no!" he said; "give it to young Will here. It ain't my boot, and they warn't my oars; and very bad ones they were."

"Here, Will, take it," said Dick.

"What for? No, I sha'n't take it," said Will. "The old oars were good for nothing, and we should have cut them up to burn next week. Give Josh a shilling to make himself a new gaff, and buy a shilling's worth of snooding and hooks for yourself. Uncle Abram wouldn't like me to take anything, I'm sure."

Mr Temple did not press the matter, but making a final appointment for the boat to be ready, he returned with Dick to the inn, where they had hardly entered the sitting-room with its table invitingly spread for breakfast, when Arthur came down, red-eyed, ill-used looking, and yawning.

"Oh, you're down first," he said. "Is breakfast ready? I've got such a bad headache."

"Then you had better go and lie down again, my boy," said his father; "nothing like bed for a headache."

"Oh, but it will be better when I have had some breakfast. It often aches like this when I come down first."

"Try getting up a little earlier, Arthur," said Mr Temple. "There, sit down."

The coffee and some hot fried fish were brought in just then, and Arthur forgot his headache, while Dick seemed almost ravenous, his father laughing at the state of his healthy young appetite, which treated slices of bread and butter in a wonderfully mechanical manner.

"Your walk seems to have sharpened you, Dick," he said.

"Oh, yes, I was so hungry."

"Have you been for a walk?" said Arthur, with his mouth full, and one finger on an awkward starchy point of his carefully spread collar.

"Walk? Yes. We've been down to the harbour."

"Making arrangements for a boat to take us to two or three of the old mines."

"You won't go in a boat again—after that accident?" said Arthur, staring.

"Oh, yes! Such accidents are common at the sea-side, and people do not heed them," said Mr Temple. "I'm sorry you will not be well enough to come, Arthur."

Dick looked across the table at him and laughed, emphasising the laugh by giving his brother a kick on the leg; while Arthur frowned and went on with his breakfast, clinging a little to a fancied or very slight headache, feeling that it would be a capital excuse for not going in the boat, and yet disposed to throw over the idea at once, for he was, in spite of a few shrinking sensations, exceedingly anxious to go.

"Oh, by the way, Dick," continued Mr Temple, "I am just going to say a few words more to you before letting the matter drop; and I say them for your brother to hear as well."

Dick felt what was coming, and after a quick glance at Arthur, he hung his head.

"I am taking your word about that cigar-case and its contents, and I sincerely hope that you will always keep your promise in mind. A boy at your age should not even dream of using tobacco. You hear what I am saying, Arthur?"

"Yes, papa," said the latter, who was scarlet.

"Bear it in mind, then, too. I found Dick with a cigar-case in his pocket this morning. I don't ask whether you were aware of it, for I do not want to say more about the matter than to express my entire disapproval of my boys indulging in such a habit."

"Now if Taff's half a fellow he'll speak up and say it was his cigar-case," thought Dick.

But Arthur remained silently intent upon his coffee, while Mr Temple dismissed the subject, and looked smilingly at his boys as the meal progressed.

"Ten minutes, and I shall be ready to start, Dick," said Mr Temple, rising from the table.

"I—I think I'm well enough to go, papa," said Arthur.

"Well enough! But your head?"

"Oh! it's better, much better now."

"But won't you be alarmed as soon as you get on the water? It may be a little rough."

"Oh, I'm not afraid of the water!" said Arthur boldly; and then he winced, for Dick gave him a kick under the table.

"Very well, then," said Mr Temple, "you shall go. But you can't go like that, Arthur. I did not see to your clothes. Haven't you a suit of flannels or tweeds?"

"No, papa."

"How absurd of you to come down dressed like that!"

Arthur coloured.

"You can't go in boats and climbing up and down rocks in an Eton jacket and white collar. Here, Dick, lend him a suit of yours."

"Yes, father," said Dick, who was enjoying what he called the fun.

"Let me see; you have a cap, have you not?"

"No, papa; only my hat."

"What! no straw hat?"

"No, papa."

"My good boy, how can you be so absurd? Now, ask your own common sense—is a tall silk-napped hat a suitable thing to wear boating and inspecting mines?"

"It—it's a very good one, papa," replied Arthur, for want of something better to say.

"Good one! Absurd! Velvet is good, but who would go clambering up cliffs in velvet!"

"Taff would if he might," said Dick to himself, as he recalled his brother's intense longing for a brown silk-velvet jacket, such as he had seen worn by one of his father's friends.

"Dick, go with your brother to the little shop there round the corner. I saw straw hats hanging up. Buy him one. I'm going to write a letter. There, I'll give you a quarter of an hour."

Mr Temple left the room, and as Arthur jumped up, scarlet with indignation, to pace up and down, Dick laid his face upon his arm in a clear place and began to laugh.

"It's absurd," said Arthur in indignant tones. "Your clothes will not fit me properly, and I hate straw hats."

"I wouldn't go," said Dick, lifting his merry face.

"Yes," cried Arthur furiously, "that's just what you want, but I shall go."

"All right! I should like you to come. Go and slip on my flannels; they're sure to be dry by now."

"Slip on your rubbishy old flannels!" cried Arthur contemptuously; "and a pretty guy I shall look. I shall be ashamed to walk along the cliff."

"Nobody will notice you, Taff," said Dick. "Come, I say, look sharp, here's nearly five minutes gone."

"And what's that about the cigars?" said Arthur furiously. "You stole my case."

"I only took it for a bit of fun," said Dick humbly. "I did not think father would have noticed it. You see he thinks it is me who smokes."

"And a good job too! Serve you right for stealing my case."

"But you might have spoken up and said it was yours," said Dick.

"I daresay I should," said Arthur, loftily, "if you had behaved fairly; but now—"

"I say, boys," cried Mr Temple, "I shall not wait."

"Here, you go and slip on my flannels," said Dick. "I'll go and buy you a hat. If it fits me it will fit you."

"Get a black-and-white straw," said Arthur. "I won't wear a white. Such absurd nonsense of papa!"

"Not to let you go boating in a chimney-pot!" said Dick, half to himself, as he hurried off. "What a rum fellow Taff is!"

Unfortunately for the particular young gentleman there were no black-and-white hats, so Dick bought a coarse white straw with black ribbon round it, and then seized the opportunity—as they sold everything at the little shop, from treacle to thread, and from bacon and big boots to hardware and hats—to buy some fishing-hooks and string, finding fault with the hooks as being soft and coarse, but the man assured him that they were the very best for the sea, so he was content.

"See what a disgusting fit these things are!" cried Arthur, as his brother entered.

"Yes; you do look an old guy, Taff," cried Dick maliciously. "Ha! ha! ha! why, they've shrunk with being dried. Here, let's pull the legs down. You've put your legs through too far."

"There! Now what did I tell you?" cried Arthur, angrily. "Look at that now. I distinctly told you to bring a black-and-white straw; I can't wear a thing like that."

"But they had no black and whites," said Dick.

"Stuff and nonsense!" cried Arthur; "they've plenty, and you didn't remember."

"Now, are you ready?" said Mr Temple.

"Yes, papa; but look here," began Arthur in a depressing voice.

"I was looking," said Mr Temple; "I congratulate you upon looking so comfortable and at your ease. Now you can fish, or climb, or do anything. Mind you write home to-night for some things to be sent down. Come away."

Mr Temple went out of the room, and Dick executed a sort of triumphant war-dance round his brother, who frowned pityingly and stalked to the corner of the room, with his nose in the air, to take up his tasselled, silver-mounted cane.

"No, you don't," said Dick, snatching the cane away and putting it back in the corner. "No canes to-day, Dandy Taff, and no gloves. Come along."

He caught his brother's arm, thrust his own through, and half dragged, half thrust him out of the place to where his father was waiting.

"Never mind your gloves, Arthur," said the latter dryly, "or if you particularly wish to keep your hands white, perhaps you had better take care of your face as well, and borrow a parasol."

Arthur reddened and thrust his gloves back into his pockets, as he followed his father down to the little pier; but he was obliged to raise his straw hat from time to time, and smooth his well pomatumed hair, ignorant of the fact that his every act was watched by his brother, who could not refrain from laughing at the little bits of foppishness he displayed.



Josh and Will were in waiting with the boat, not the one that had been used on the previous night, for it had been determined to send that in to hospital, but a rather larger and lighter boat, belonging to Uncle Abram; and this had been carefully mopped out, with the result that there were not quite so many fish-scales visible, though even now they were sticking tenaciously as acorn barnacles to every level spot.

"All ready, sir," said Will, coming forward; "and my uncle says you're welcome to a boat whenever there's one in, and that as to payment, you're to please give our man Josh a trifle, and that's all."

Mr Temple was about to make an objection, but he determined to see Uncle Abram, as he was called, himself, and he at once went down the steps and into the boat.

"Dick," said Arthur, plucking at his brother's sleeve, "what's that fisher-fellow grinning at? Is there anything particular about my clothes?"

"No. He was only smiling because he was glad to see you. There, go along down."

Josh, who had been spoken of as "that fisher-fellow," endorsed Dick's words by singing just as if it was a Gregorian chant:

"Glad to see you, sir. Nice morning for a row. Give's your hand, sir. Mine looks mucky, but it don't come off. It's only tar."

"I can get down, thank you," said Arthur haughtily, and he began to descend the perpendicular steps to where the boat slowly rose and fell, some six feet below.

But though Arthur descended backwards like a bear, it was without that animal's deliberate caution. He wanted experience too, and the knowledge that the steps, that were washed by every tide, were covered with a peculiar green weedy growth that was very slippery. He was in a hurry lest he should be helped—aid being exceedingly offensive to his dignity, and the consequence was, that when he was half-way down there was a slip and a bang, caused by Arthur finishing his descent most rapidly, and going down in a sitting position upon the bottom of the boat.

"I say," said Josh, "if that had been your foots you'd ha' gone through."

Arthur leaped up red as a turkey-cock, and in answer to his father's inquiry whether he was hurt, shook his head violently.

"Don't laugh, Will, don't look at him," said Dick, stifling his own mirth and turning his back, pretending to draw Will's attention to the fishing cord and hooks he had bought.

"All right, Master Dick!" said Will cordially; and he began to examine the hooks; but Arthur could see through the device and, kindly as it was meant, he chafed all the more. In fact, he had hurt himself a good deal, but his dignity was injured more.

"Yes, they're the best," said Will; "but I've got a whiffing-line ready, and some bait, and laid it for you in the stern. I thought you'd like to fish."

"So I should," cried Dick, looking his thanks, and thinking what a frank, manly-looking fellow his new companion was; "but we must let my brother fish to-day. He'll pretend that he don't care for it, but he wants to try horribly, and you must coax him a bit. Then he will."

"What's the use of begging him?" said Will, who was rather taken aback.

"Oh! because I want him to have a turn, and I hope he'll get some luck. If he don't he'll be so disappointed."

"All ready?" cried Mr Temple just then, and Dick proceeded to scuffle down the steps, Arthur watching him eagerly to see him slip on the worst step. But Dick was not going to slip, and he stepped lightly on to one of the thwarts, closely followed by Will with the painter, and the next minute they were on their way to the mouth of the harbour, where there was a gentle swell.

Mr Temple and Dick were smiling as they looked back at the fishing village so picturesquely nestling in the slope of the steep cliff, and they paid no heed to Arthur, who suddenly snatched at his father on one side, at the boat on the other.

"What's the matter, my boy?" cried Mr Temple.

"Is—is anything wrong?" gasped Arthur. "The boat seemed sinking!"

"Hor—hor!" began Josh; but Arthur turned upon him so angrily, that the fisherman changed his hoarse laugh into a grotesque cough, screwing his face up till it resembled the countenance of a wooden South Sea image, such as the Polynesians place in the prow of their canoes.

"Gettin' so wet lars night, I think," he said in a good-tempered, apologetic growl, as he addressed himself to Will. "Sea-water don't hurt you though."

"There we are sinking again, Arthur," said Mr Temple, for the boat mounted the swell, as the wave came lapping the stone wall, raising them up a couple of feet, and letting them glide down four. "Let go!" he whispered. "Don't be a coward."

Arthur snatched his hands away, and from being very white he turned red.

"I suppose the sea comes in pretty rough sometimes," said Mr Temple to Josh.

"Tidyish, sir, but not bad. She gives a pretty good swish at the face o' the harbour when the weather's rough from the south-east, and flies over on to the boats; but Bar Lea Point yonder takes all the rough of it and shelters us like. If the young gent looks down now, he can see Tom Dodder's Rock."

Mr Temple looked over the side.

"Yes, here it is, Arthur," he exclaimed, "about six feet beneath us."

"Five an' half at this time o' the tide," said Josh correctively.

"Oh! five and a half, is it?" said Mr Temple, smiling. "Can you see, Arthur?"

"Yes, papa," said the boy, looking quickly over the side and sitting up again as if he did not approve of it. "Do you mean that great rough thing?"

"That's her," said Josh. "Tom Dodder, as used to live long ago, wouldn't keep a good look-out, and he used to say as his boat would ride over any rock as there was on the coast. He went right over that rock to get into the harbour lots of times out of sheer impudence, and to show his mates as he wouldn't take advice from nobody; but one morning as he was running in, heavy loaded with pilchar's, after being out all night, and getting the biggest haul ever known, such a haul as they never get nowadays, he was coming right in, and a chap on the pier there shouts to him, 'luff, Tom, luff! She won't do it this tide.' 'Then she shall jump it,' says Tom, who wouldn't luff a bit, but rams his tiller so as to drive right at the rock. You see there was lots o' room at the sides, but he wouldn't go one way nor yet the other, out o' cheek like. He was one o' these sort of chaps as wouldn't be helped, you see; and as soon as the lads on the pier heared him say as his boat should jump over the rock—lep it, you know—they began to stare, as if they expected something was coming."

"And was something coming?" said Dick, who was deeply interested, though he could not help thinking about his brother's refusal of help.

"Coming! I should think there was, for just as the boat comes up to the rock, she acts just like a Chrishtun dog, or a horse might when her master wanted her to—what does she do but rises at the rock to lep right over her, but the water seemed to fail just then, and down she come sodge!"

"How?" said Arthur, who had become interested, and had not understood the comparison.

"Sodge, sir, sodge; breaks her back, melts all to pieces like a tub with the hoops shook off; and the sea was covered with pilchar's right and left, and they all went scoopin' 'em off the bay."

"And was any one drowned?" said Arthur.

"Well, sir, you see the story don't say," said Josh, moistening first one hand and then the other as he rowed; "but that's why she were called Tom Dodder's Rock; and there's the rock, as you see, so it must be true."

As soon as they were clear of the bar at the mouth of the harbour the sea had become smoother, and in the interest he had taken in Josh's narrative about Tom Dodder's Rock, Arthur had forgotten a little of his discomfort and dread; but now that the boat was getting farther from land and the story was at an end, he began to show his nervousness in various ways, the more that nobody but Josh seemed to be noticing him, for his father was busy with a small glass, inspecting the various headlands and points, and looking long and earnestly at the old mines, whose position was indicated by the crumbling stone engine-houses.

"Is the sea very deep here?" said Arthur to his brother, who did not answer; he was too intent upon the preparation of a fishing-line with Will.

"Deep? No," said Josh, "not here."

"But it looks deep," said Arthur, gazing over the side.

"Ah! but it ar'n't. 'Bout three fathom, p'r'aps."

"Three fathoms!" cried Arthur. "Why, that's eighteen feet, and over my head!"

"Well, yes, you ar'n't quite so tall as that!" cried Josh, with a bit of a chuckle.

"But suppose the boat was overset?" said Arthur.

"Oh, she won't overset, my lad. You couldn't overset her; and if she did—can you swim?"

"A little—not much. I'm not very fond of the water."

"Ah! that's a pity," said Josh; "everybody ought to be able to swim. You'd better come down to me every morning, and I'll take you out in the boat here and you can jump in and have a good swim round, and then come in again and dress."

Arthur looked at him in horror. The idea seemed frightful. To come out away from land, and plunge into water eighteen feet deep, where he might go to the bottom and perhaps never come up again, was enough to stun him mentally for the moment, and he turned away from Josh with a shudder.

"Here you are, Taff!" said Dick just then. "Now have a try for a fish. Come and sit here; change places."

Dick jumped up and stepped over the thwarts, vacating his seat right in the stern. In fact he looked as if he could have run all round the boat easily enough on the narrow gunwale had there been any need, while, in spite of his call and the sight of the fishing-line, Arthur sat fast.

"Well, why don't you get up?"

"I—I prefer staying here," said Arthur, who looked rather white.

"But you said you would like to fish!" cried Dick in a disappointed tone.

"Did I? Oh yes, I remember. But I don't wish to fish to-day. You can go on."

"Oh, all right!" said Dick lightly. "I daresay I can soon get something;" and he set the line dragging behind.

"Like to be rowed over to yon mine, sir, on the cliff?" said Josh, nodding in the direction of the old shaft, the scene of his adventures with Will.

"Where, my man? I can see no remains. Oh yes, I can," he continued, as he brought his glass to bear on the regular bank-slope formed by the material that had been dug and blasted out. "I see; that's a very old place. Yes; I should like to inspect that first."

"Me and him went down it lass week," said Josh, as he tugged at the oar, Will having now joined him in forcing the boat along.

"It's not a deep one, then," said Mr Temple carelessly.

"Dunno how deep she be," said Josh, "because she's full o' water up to the adit."

"Oh, there is an adit then?"

"Yes, as was most covered over. She begins up on that level nigh the cliff top, where you can see the bit o' brown rock with the blackberry bushes in it, and she comes out down in that creek place there where the bank's green."

"I see!" said Mr Temple eagerly. "Ah! that must be an old place. When was it given up?"

"Oh, long before we was born, or our grandfathers, I expect!" said Josh.

"The more reason why I should examine it," said Mr Temple. "I suppose," he added aloud, "we can land here?"

"Oh yes, while the sea's like this! You couldn't if she was rough. The rocks would come through her bottom before you knowed where you were."

"Is it going to be rough, did you say?" said Arthur eagerly.

"Yes, some day," said Josh. "Not while the wind's off the shore."

"Taff, Taff! Here! I've got him!" cried Dick excitedly; and his words had such an effect upon Arthur that he started up and was nearly pitched overboard; only saving himself by making a snatch at his father, one hand knocking off Mr Temple's hat, the other seizing his collar.

"You had better practise getting your sea-legs, Master Arthur," said his father. "There, give me your hand."

Arthur longed to refuse the proffered help, for he knew that both Josh and Will were smiling; but he felt as if the boat kept running away from beneath him, and then, out of a sheer teasing spirit, rose up again to give the soles of his feet a good push, and when it did this there was a curious giddy feeling in his head.

So he held tightly by his father's hand while he stepped over the seat, and then hurriedly went down upon his knees by where Dick was holding the line, at the end of which some fish was tugging and straining furiously.

"Here you are!" cried Dick, handing the line to his brother. "He's a beauty! A pollack, I know; and when you get him he's all orange, and green, and gold!"

"But it's dragging the line out of my hands!" said Arthur.

"Don't let it! Hold tight!" cried Dick, whose cheeks were flushed with excitement.

"But it cuts my hands," said Arthur pettishly.

"Never mind that! All the better! It's a big one! Let a little more line out."

Arthur obeyed, and the fish darted off so vigorously that it would have carried off all there was had not Dick checked it.

"Now, hold tight!" cried Dick. "Play him. Now begin to haul in."

"But the line's all messy," said Arthur, in tones full of disgust.

"Oh, what a fellow you are! Now, then, never mind the line being messy; haul away!"

"What, pull?" said Arthur feebly.

"To be sure! Pull away hand over hand. I know he's a monster."

Mr Temple and the little crew of two were so intent upon the old mine that they paid no heed to the boys. Hence it was that Dick took the lead and gave his directions to his brother how to catch fish, in a manner that would have been heartily condemned by both Josh and Will, whose ideas of playing a fish consisted in hauling it aboard as soon as they could.

"Oh, you're not half hauling it in!" cried Dick, as he grew out of patience with his brother's fumbling ways. "You'll lose it."

"You be quiet and let me alone," said Arthur quickly. "I daresay I know as much about sea-fishing as you do."

"Then why don't you haul in the line?"

"Because the fish won't come, stupid! There, you see, he will now!" continued Arthur, hauling pretty fast, as the captive began to give way. "Oh, how nasty! I'm getting my knees quite wet."

Quite! For he had remained kneeling in the bottom of the boat, too much excited to notice that he was drawing the dripping line over his legs, and making a little pool about his knees.

"Never mind the wet—haul!" cried Dick; and he hardly keep his fingers off the line.

Urged in this way by his brother, Arthur went on pulling the line in feebly enough, till the fish made a fresh dash for liberty.

"Oh!" cried Arthur; "it's cutting my hands horribly. There—he's gone!"

Not quite, for Dick made a dash at the flying line, which was rushing over the gunwale, caught it in time, and began a steady pull at it till the fish was more exhausted, and he could turn its head, when he pulled the line in rapidly, and the boys could soon after see the bright silvery fish darting here and there.

"Got a gaff, Will?" shouted Dick.

"There's the old one stuck in the side, sir," replied the lad; and, holding on with one hand, Dick reached the gaff-hook with the other; but though he got his fish close up to the stern two or three times, he found that he was not experienced fisherman enough to hold the line with his left hand and gaff it with the other.

"Here!" he cried at last, for Arthur was looking on helplessly. "You catch hold of the line while I gaff him!"

Arthur obeyed with a grimace indicative of disgust as he felt the wet and slippery line; and, in obedience to his brother's orders, he dragged the fish close in; but just as Dick made a lunge at it with the big hook it darted off again, cutting Arthur's hands horribly. The next time it was dragged in Dick was successful, getting his hook in its gills, and hoisting it on board, flapping and bounding about as if filled with so much steel spring.

"Hallo! you've got one then, Dick!" cried his father, turning round; Josh and Will having been quietly observant the while.

"Yes, father!" cried Dick in the most disinterested way; "Arthur held him and I gaffed him. Isn't it a beauty? What is it, Josh—a silver pollack?"

"A-mussy me, no!" cried Josh, who had ceased rowing. "That be no pollack; that be a bass. Dessay there be a shoal out there."

"Mind his back tin, Master Dick!" cried Will excitedly, as he saw Dick take hold of his prize.

"Yes, I'll mind," said Dick. "Here, never mind, it being wet," he went on; "catch hold of him with both hands, Arthur, I'll get out the hook."

"Oh—oh—oh!" shouted Arthur, snatching back his hands. "It pricks!"

"What pricks?" cried Dick, seizing the fish and throwing it down again sharply. "Oh, I say, it's like a knife."

"Shall I take it off, sir?" said Will.

"No, I'm not going to be beaten!" cried Dick, whose hand was bleeding. "I didn't know what you meant. Why, it's a big stickleback!"

He took hold of the prize more cautiously, disengaged the hook, and then laid the fish before his father—a fine salmon bass of eight or nine pounds.

"Bravo, my boy!" said Mr Temple; "but is your hand much cut?"

"Oh, no! it's nothing," said Dick, hastily twisting his handkerchief round his hurt. "I say, isn't it a beauty? But what is the use of that fin?"

"Means of defence, I suppose," said his father, raising the keen perch-like back fin of the fish.—"But there, we are close inshore now. Run her in, my men."

The next minute the boat was grating upon the rocks. Will leaped out and held it steady, for the waves rocked it about a good deal; and the party landed close to the adit, the boat being moored with a grapnel; and then they all walked up to the hole in the foot of the rock, through which Josh and Will had made their escape after their adventure in the mine-shaft a short time before.



Mr Temple took a small flat lantern from his pocket, struck a match inside, and lit the lamp, which burned with a clear, bright flame.

"Is the shaft belonging to this open at the top?" he said to Will.

"Yes, sir—quite."

"Ah! then there's no foul air. Now, Arthur, come along and you shall see what a mine adit is like."

"I—er—I'd rather not come this time, papa," said Arthur in a rather off-hand way; "the knees of my trousers are so wet."

"Oh! are they?" said Mr Temple quietly. "You will come, I suppose, Dick?"

"Yes, father. May I carry the lamp?"

"Yes; and go first. Slowly, now. Rather hard to get through;" and after a little squeezing the whole party, save Arthur, crept into the low gallery, the light showing the roof and sides to be covered with wet moss of a glittering metallic green.

There was not much to reward the seekers,—nothing but this narrow passage leading to a black square pool of water, upon which the light of the lamp played, and seemed to be battling with a patch of reflected daylight, the image of the square opening, a hundred and fifty feet above.

"Hah!" said Mr Temple after a few minutes' inspection of the adit and the shaft, whose walls, as far as he could reach, he chipped with a sharp-pointed little hammer formed almost like a wedge of steel. "A good hundred years since this was worked, if ever it got beyond the search. Copper decidedly."

"And you think it is very rich?" said Will excitedly, for he had been watching Mr Temple with the greatest eagerness.

"Rich! No, my lad. What, have you got the Cornish complaint?"

"Cornish complaint, sir?" said Will wonderingly.

"The longing to search for mineral treasures?"

"Yes, sir," said Will bluntly after a few moments' pause.

"Then you need not waste time here, my lad."

"But there's copper here. I proved it; and now you say there is."

"Yes; tons of it," said Mr Temple.

"There, Josh!" cried Will triumphantly.

"But," continued Mr Temple as they all stood there half-crouching in the narrow adit, "it is in quantities and in a bed that would be hard to work, and every hundredweight you got out and smelted would have cost more in wages than you could obtain when you sold your copper."

"There, lad, what did I gashly say?" cried Josh eagerly. "Didn't I say as the true mining was for silver in the sea—ketching fish with boats and nets."

"No, you did not," cried Will hotly; "and you meant nothing of the kind in what you did say."

"Ah! there's nought like the sea for making a living," said Josh in an ill-used tone. "I wouldn't work in one of these gashly places on no account; not for two pound a week, I wouldn't."

"Well, let's get out in the open air at all events, now," said Mr Temple. "I should like to see the mouth of the shaft."

"I'll show you, sir," said Will eagerly; and Mr Temple watched him closely as they stood once more out in the bright sunshine, and, lithe and strong, he began to climb up the rocks, Dick following him almost as quickly, but without his cleverness in making his way from block to block.

Mr Temple followed, then Josh, lastly Arthur, who got on very badly, but indignantly refused Josh's rough tarry hand when he good-naturedly offered to help him up the rough cliff.

"Here's where Josh and I went down," said Will, as they all stood at the shaft mouth.

"And did you go down there, my lad?"

"Yes, sir."

"Swinging on a rope?"

"Yes, sir."

"Then you've a good nerve, my lad. It wants a cool head to do that."

Will winced and glanced at Josh, who wrinkled up his forehead in a curious way.

"A tremendous nerve," continued Mr Temple. "You wouldn't care to go down, Dick?"

"No, father; but I'd go if you told me, and the rope was safe."

"That's right," said Mr Temple, smiling; "but, as I said before, it would require tremendous nerve—like that of our friend here."

Will looked from one to the other uneasily, and turned his cap first to right, and then to left. Suddenly he drew a long breath.

"I felt when I got out of the shaft, sir, as if I never dared try to do it again," he said hastily.


"Yes, sir; I wasn't at all brave over it."

"Steady, my lad—steady!" said Josh in a reproving tone. "I think you did well. P'raps the gentleman would like to go now to Blee Vor."

"Yes, I should," said Mr Temple, "so let's go at once. There is nothing to be done here."

Josh led the way down the cliff—rather a dangerous road, but one which seemed easy enough to him, while Arthur shuddered and stopped two or three times on the way down, as if the descent made him giddy. He was always well enough, though, to resent any offer of assistance, even into the boat when it was hauled close up to the rock. Josh would have lifted him in; Will was ready to lay a back for him and porter him in like a sack; but the sensitive London boy looked upon these offers of aid as insulting; and the consequence was that he got on board with one of his shoes full of water, and a very small piece of skin taken off his shin.

"Shall we row you on to Blee Vor," said Josh.

Mr Temple nodded in a short business-like way, and taking out his glass, he began to examine the rock as they went along.

All of a sudden, though, he turned to Dick.

"Go and take that oar," he said sharply; and then to Will—"Come here, my lad."

Will coloured a little as he gave up his oar to Dick, who began rowing with a great deal of vigour and a great deal of splash, but with little effect upon the progress of the boat.

"And so you are spending your spare time hunting for metals, are you, my lad?" said Mr Temple, gazing sharply at Will.

"Yes, sir."


Will hesitated for a moment and then said frankly:

"I want to get on, sir, and make myself independent."

"Capital idea!" said Mr Temple; "but what knowledge have you on the subject? Have you studied mineralogy?"

"Not from books, sir. Only what the miners about here could teach me."

"But you know a little about these things?"

"Very little, sir; but I'm trying to learn more."

"Ah! that's what we are all trying to do," said Mr Temple quickly. "That will do. Perhaps we shall see a little more of each other."

He took up his glass once more; and feeling himself to be dismissed, Will went back to his seat, and would have taken the oar, but Dick wanted to learn how to row, and would not give it up.

"Go and help my brother catch another bass," he said; so rather unwillingly the lad went to where Arthur was diligently dragging the whiffing-line through the water.

"Don't you get any bites, sir?" said Will.

"No. I don't think there are many fish hero now," said Arthur haughtily.

"But there are a few," said Will smiling. "Did you put on a good bait?"

"Good bait!" said Arthur, looking at his questioner in a half-offended tone.

"Yes, you must have a good lask on your hook, or the fish will not rise at it."

"Why, I've got the same hook on that my brother used when he caught that fish."

"Let me look," said Will quietly.

Arthur frowned, and would have declined, but Will did not wait for permission, and drew in the line till he came to the lead, lifted it carefully inboard, and then hauled up the hook.

"You might have kept on trying all day," said Will. "There's no bait."

"Oh, indeed! then some fish must have bitten it off," said Arthur in the most nonchalant way. "I thought I felt a tug."

Will had his back turned to the fisherman, so that he could smile unobserved, for he knew that there had been no bait left on the hook, and that Arthur would not have soiled his fingers to put one on.

"There," he said as he hooked on a good bright lask; "now try."

He threw the bait over and then dropped in the lead, when the bait seemed to dart away astern, drawing out the line; but to Arthur's surprise Will checked it instantly, caught the line from the gunwale and handed it to him, Will's quick eyes having detected the dash of a fish at the flying bait.

"Why, there's one on!" cried Arthur excitedly.

"Small pollack," said Will smiling. "Haul him in."

Arthur forgot all about the wetness of the line this time, and soon drew one of the brightly coloured fish inboard and called to his brother.

"Here, look!" he cried, "you never saw anything so beautiful as this."

"Just like mine," cried Dick, "only it was ten times as big."

"Oh!" said Arthur in a disappointed tone. Then, in a whisper to Will, "I say, boy, put on a big bait this time. I want to catch a large one."

Will felt amused at the other's dictatorial importance, but he said nothing: placing a bait on the hook, and the line was once more trailed behind, but this time without success, and at the end of a few minutes the boat was guided into a narrow passage amongst the rocks, below a high forbidding headland where the long slimy sea-weed that clung to the granite was washing to and fro, as the waves rushed foaming in and out among the huge blocks of stone, some of which were every now and then invisible, and then seemed to rise out of the sea like the backs of huge shaggy sea-monsters playing in the nook.

Josh had taken the oar from Dick, and had now assumed the sole guidance of the boat, rowing slowly with his head turned towards the shore, and once or twice there was a scraping, bumping noise and a jerk or two, which made Arthur seize hold of the side.

"Is it safe to go in here?" said Mr Temple.

"Oh! you may trust Josh, sir," exclaimed Will. "It wouldn't be safe at high water, but there's no danger now."

"Not of getting a hole through the boat?"


Arthur turned quite white, while Dick laughed.

"That's only her iron keel, sir," said Will, for Josh was too intent upon his work to turn his head for answer. "The wave dropped us on that rock, and we slid off, you see, on the keel. Now we're in deep water again."

The action of the waves close inshore on that rugged coast, even in that calm weather, was sufficient to raise them up three or four feet and then let them down, while the water was so clear that they could see the weeds waving and streaming here and there over the tinted rock, patches of which, where they were washed bare, were of the most brilliant crimsons, purples, and greens.

Josh was guiding the boat in and out along a most intricate channel, now almost doubling back, but always the next minute getting nearer to a beautiful white patch of strand, beyond which was a dark forbidding clump of rocks piled-up in picturesque confusion, and above which the gaunt cliff ran up perpendicularly in places till it was at least three hundred feet above their heads, and everywhere seeming to be built up in great blocks like rugged ashlar work, the joints fitting closely, but all plainly marked and worn by the weather.

"Sit fast all!" said Josh; "here's a wave coming!"

He gave one oar a sharp tug to set the boat's head a little farther round, and Arthur sprang up and with a sort of bound leaped to his father's side, clinging to him tightly, as a loud rushing, hissing sound rose from behind, and a good-sized wave came foaming in and out among the great blocks of stone, as if bent on leaping into and swamping the boat; but instead of this, as it reached them it lifted the boat, bore it forward, bumping and scraping two or three rocks below the keel, and then letting it glide over the surface of a good-sized rock-pool, swirling and dancing with the newly coming water.

Josh then rowed steadily on for a few strokes, pausing by some glistening rocks that, after lying dry for a few hours, were being covered again by the title.

"Your young gents like to look at the dollygobs, master?" said Josh.

"Look at the what!" exclaimed Mr Temple.

"Them there gashly things," said Josh, pointing to a number of round patches of what seemed to be deep-red jelly, with here and there one of an olive green.

"Sea-anemones, boys," said Mr Temple. Then to Josh, "No, they must hunt them out another time; I want to land. I suppose we can climb up to that shelf?"

He pointed to a flat place about a hundred feet above them.

"Dessay we can, if it arn't too gashly orkard," growled Josh. "If she be, we'll bring the rope another time and let you down. Sit fast again!"

For another wave came rushing in, seeming to gather force as it ran, while Josh so cleverly managed the boat that he made it ride on the surface of the wave right over a low ridge of rocks, and then rowed close in and ran her head upon what looked to be coarse sand. Then in went the oars, Josh and Will leaped out, waited a few moments, and then, another smaller wave helping them, they drew the boat higher, so that she was left half dry, and her passengers were able to step out on the dry patch beneath the rocks.

"Why, it isn't sand, but little broken shells," cried Dick excitedly, as Mr Temple casually picked up a handful to examine.

"Yes, Dick, broken shells, and not siliceous," said Mr Temple.

"What are those red and green rocks, father?" asked Dick.

"Serpentine; and that white vein running through is soapstone. Ah! now we shall get to know a little about what is inside."

"But why have we come here?" asked Arthur.

"Because there has been a working here. Some one must have dug down and thrown out all that mass of broken rock. Part has been washed away; but all this, you see, though worn and rounded by the waves washing it about, has been dug out of the rock."

He had walked to a long slope of wave-worn fragments of rock as he spoke, forming a steep ascent that ran up into a rift in the great cliff; and he drew Dick's attention to the fact that what seemed like a level place a hundred feet above was so situated that anything thrown down would have fallen in the niche or combe of the cliff just beyond them.

"Now, my fine fellow," said Mr Temple, as he picked up a piece of wave-polished stone, "what's that?"

"Serpentine," said Will quietly.

"And this?" said Mr Temple.

"Granite, sir."

"Eight; and this?"

"Gneiss," replied Will.

"Quite correct. Now this," he continued, breaking a piece of stone in two with his hammer.

"Cop—no, only mundic," cried Will, who had nearly been caught tripping.

"Right again. Now this?"

He picked up a reddish piece of stone which, when broken, showed bright clear crystals, and close to the ruddy stone a number of little black grains.

"Tin," cried Will eagerly; "and a rich piece."

"Let me look at the tin," cried Arthur eagerly; and the piece being handed to him, "where?" he cried; "there's no tin here."

"Tin ore, my boy," said Mr Temple quietly. "Those black grains are rich tin."

"Well, I shouldn't have thought that," said Arthur; "and I should have thought that was gold or brass."

"Then you would have thought wrong," said Mr Temple sharply. "All is not gold that glitters, my boy; and you can't find brass in the earth. What can you find, my lad?" he continued, turning sharply to Will.

"Copper, sir, and tin and zinc."

"Then what is brass?" said Mr Temple.

"Copper and zinc mixed."

"Not copper and tin?"

"Copper and tin, sir, make fine bronze, same as the ancient people used to hammer for swords and spears; but I can't understand, sir, why two soft metals like copper and tin should make a hard one when they are mixed."

"And I cannot explain it to you," said Mr Temple smiling.

"Are we going to stop here long?" said Arthur impatiently.

"Oh? don't go yet," cried Dick, laughing; "I want to hear Will say his miner's catechism."

"Oh! very well," said Mr Temple, smiling. "What is mundic, then, my lad?"

"A mussy me! as if every lad here didn't know what mundic was!" cried Josh to himself; but he spoke loud enough for the others to hear.

"Well, what is mundic, then?" said Mr Temple quickly to Josh.

"What's mundic?" growled Josh, picking up a yellow metallic-looking piece of rock; "why, that is, and that is, and that is. There's tons of it everywhere."

"To be sure there is, my man; but what is it?" said Mr Temple.

"Well, ain't I showing of you!" growled Josh. "This here's mundic."

"The gentleman means what is it made of?" whispered Will, and then he added two or three words.

"Why, how should I know? Made of! 'Tain't made of anything, nor more ar'n't tin. I suppose it grows."

"Do you know?" said Mr Temple.

"I think so, sir," said Will modestly; "sulphur and iron."

"Let's go on now," said Arthur; "I want to fish."

"Stop and learn something, my boy," said Mr Temple sternly.

"Oh! go on, please," cried Dick, who was delighted to find so much knowledge in his new friend.

"What is this, then?" said Mr Temple, picking up a whitish metallic-looking piece of mineral.

"I don't know exactly, sir," said Will eagerly; "but I think it is partly antimony and partly silver."

"Quite right again, my lad," cried Mr Temple, clapping Will upon the shoulder of his fish-scaly blue jersey; "a great deal of antimony, and there is sulphur and iron too, I think, in this piece."

"This must have come out of the working above there," cried Will eagerly.

"Undoubtedly, my lad."

"I didn't know that there had been a mine here," said Will.

"Or you would have had a look at it before now, eh?"

"Yes, sir," said Will, colouring.

"We'll go and have a look at it now," said Mr Temple; "but I don't think we shall find anything of much good."

"Here, papa, what's this?" cried Arthur eagerly. "This must be gold."

"Copper," cried Will. "Then there is copper here too!"

"Yes, that is copper," said Mr Temple, examining and re-fracturing a glistening piece of stone full of purple and gold reflections, with touches of blue and crimson. "Peacock ore some people call it. Now, let's have a climb. Or stop, let's have a look at that cave. I should not wonder if the adit is there."

"Beggin' yer pardon, sir," said Josh respectfully, "I don't think as I'd go in there, if I was you."

"Why not?" said Mr Temple, as he stood just inside the rugged cavern, whose mouth was fringed with sea-ferns.

"Well, you see, sir, they say gashly things about these here old zorns."

"What sort of things, Josh?" cried Dick. "Wild beasts in 'em?"

"Well, no, Master Ditchard, sir," said Josh, who was confused as to the proper way of using the names Dick and Richard; "not wild beasts here."

"You must go two miles farther," said Will, "and we can show you the seal-caves."

"With seals in them?" cried Richard.

"Oh, yes, plenty," said Will. "Josh thinks there is something unpleasant lives in these zorns."

"No, not exactly lives," said Josh, hesitating; "and don't you get making game of 'em, young fellow," he added, turning to Will. "Them as is a deal older than us wouldn't go in 'em to save their lives."

"Why, what is there in the cave, my man?" said Mr Temple.

"Oh! I shouldn't like to say, sir," said Josh, gazing furtively into the darksome hole in the rock.

"But you are not afraid?"

"Afraid, sir! Oh, no, I'm not afraid; but I don't think it's right to go in and disturb what's there."

"Ah, well, Dick, we'll go," said Mr Temple; "and we must apologise if the occupants object."

"I wouldn't go, really, sir," protested Josh.

"You can stay behind, my man," said Mr Temple.

"Then don't take Master Dick, sir. You see he's so young."

"My son can stay outside if he likes," said Mr Temple in a tone of voice that made Dick tighten himself up and fasten the lower, button of his jacket.

"There," said Mr Temple as he closed his lanthorn and held it up; "now we shall see."

He stepped in over the shelly sand which filled up the vacancies between the rocks that strewed the floor, and Dick stepped in after him.

Will turned and looked half-mockingly at Josh as he stepped in next.

"Oh! well, I can't stand that," growled Josh. "Here goes."

He moistened both of his hands as if he were going to get a grip of some rope or spar, and then hurried in, leaving Arthur alone at the mouth of the zorn, peering in at the dancing light and the strange shadows cast upon the glistening stone of roof and wall.

"Shall I go in?" he said to himself. "I know Dick will laugh at me if I don't."

Then he hesitated: the place looked so dark and cold and forbidding, while without it was so light and bright and sunshiny.

"I sha'n't go," he muttered. "Let him laugh if he likes, and that Cornish fisher-boy as well. I don't see why I should go into the nasty old cellar."

Then he peered in, and thought that he would like to go in just a little way; and stretching out one leg he was about to set his foot down when there was a black shadow cast at his feet, a rushing noise, and something came quite close, uttered a harsh cry, and dashed off.

Arthur Temple bounded back into the broad sunshine with his heart beating painfully; and even when he saw that it was one of the great black fishing-birds that had dipped down and dashed off again he was not much better.

"I wish I were not so nervous!" he muttered; and he looked about hastily.

"I'm glad no one was here, though," he added. "How Dick would have laughed! Now I'll follow them in. No, I won't. I'll say I wanted to fish;" and snatching at this idea he ran down to the boat, got in, and arranging the line, gave the lead a swing and threw it seaward, so that it should fall in the deep channel among the rocks, where there was not the slightest likelihood of his getting a fish.

But it requires some skill to throw out lead attached to a fishing-line, especially when there are ten or twelve feet of line between the lead and the hook.

Hence it was then that when Arthur Temple swung the lead to and fro, and finally let it go seaward, there was a sharp tug and a splash, the lead falling into the water about a couple of yards from the stern, and the hook sticking tightly in the gunwale of the boat.

"Bother!" exclaimed Arthur angrily as he proceeded to haul the lead in, and then to extricate the hook, whose bait wanted rearranging, while the hook itself was a good deal opened out in drawing it from the wood.

He got all right at last, screwing up his face a good deal at having to replace the bait, and then stopping to wash his hands very carefully and wipe them upon his pocket-handkerchief. This done, he smelt his fingers.

"Pah!" he ejaculated; and he proceeded to wash and wipe them again before rearranging the line; and then after swinging the lead to and fro four or five times, he let it go, giving it a tremendous jerk, which recoiled so upon his frame, and caused the boat to swerve so much, that he nearly fell overboard, and only saved himself by throwing himself down and catching at the thwarts.

"Bother the beastly, abominable old boat!" he cried angrily as he scrambled up, and with all the pettishness of a spoiled child, kicked the side with all his might, a satisfactory proceeding which resulted in the wood giving forth a hollow sound, and a painful sensation arising from an injured toe.

He felt a little better, though, after getting rid of this touch of spite, and he smiled with satisfaction, too, for the lead had descended some distance off in the water, and with a self-complacent smile Arthur Temple sat down on the edge of the boat and waited for a bite.

"This is better than getting wet and dirty in that cavern," he said. "It's warm and sunshiny, and old Dick will be as savage as savage if he finds that I've caught three or four good fish before he comes. Was that a touch?"

It did not seem to be, so Arthur sat patiently on waiting for the bite, and sometimes looking over the side, where, in the clear water, half-hidden by a shelf of rock, he could see what at first made him start, for it looked like an enormous flat spider lying about three feet down, watching him with a couple of eyes like small peas, mounted, mushroom-fashion, on a stalk.

"Why, it's an old crab," he said; "only a small one, though. Ugh! what a disgusting-looking beast!"

He remained watching the crab for some few minutes, and then looked straight along the line, which washed up and down on a piece of rock as the waves came softly in, bearing that peculiar sea-weedy scent from the shore. Then he had another look at the crab, and could distinctly see its peculiar water-breathing apparatus at work, playing like some piece of mechanism about its mouth, while sometimes one claw would be raised a little way, then another, as if the mollusc were sparring at Arthur, and asking him to come on.

"Ugh! the ridiculous-looking little monster!" he muttered. "I wonder how long they'll be! What a while it is before I get a bite!"

But he did not get a bite all the same. For, in the first place, there were none but very small fish in and about the rocks—little wrasse, and blennies wherever the bottom was sandy, and tiny crabs scuffling in and out among the stones, where jelly-fish were opening and shutting and expanding their tentacles in search of minute food.

In the second place, Arthur sat on fishing, happily unconscious of the fact that he was in a similar position to the short-sighted old man in the caricature. This individual is by a river side comfortably seated beneath a tree, his rod horizontally held above the water, but his line and float, where he has jerked them, four or five feet above his head in an overhanging bough.

There were no overhanging boughs near Arthur, and no trees; but when he threw in his line the lead had gone into a rock-pool, the hook had stopped in a patch of sea-weed on a rock high and dry, and the bait of squid was being nicely cooked and frizzled in the sun.

"I think it wants a new bait," said our fisherman at last very importantly; and, drawing in the line, the lead came with a bump up against the side of the boat, while the bait was dragged through the water, and came in thoroughly wet once more.

"I thought so," said Arthur complacently as he examined the shrunken bait. "Something has been at it and sucked all the goodness away. I wish that fisher-boy was here to put on a fresh one."

But that fisher-boy was right in the cavern, so Arthur had to put on a fresh bait himself. This done, and very badly too, he took the line in hand once more, stood up on the thwart, spreading his legs wide apart to steady himself, because the boat rocked; and then, after giving the heavy lead a good swing, sent it off with a thrill of triumph, which rapidly changed to a look of horror, accompanied by a yell of pain.

"Oh! oh! oh! oh!" cried Arthur. "My leg! my leg! my leg! Oh! help! help! help!" and sitting down in the boat he began to drag in the line rapidly, as he thoroughly realised the fact that he had caught a very large and a very odd fish this time.


Note: Zorn, the Cornish name for a sea-cave.



While Arthur had been amusing himself by fishing, with the result just told, his father had penetrated into the cave, closely followed by Dick, Will, and lastly by Josh.

"I'll see fair for 'em anyhow," Josh said; and wetting his hands once more, he followed the dancing light, closing up directly after Will.

"Shall we find anything here, father?" said Dick as his eyes wandered over the dimly-seen masses of rugged rock above his head.

"Perhaps," said his father—"perhaps not. I want to find traces of some good vein of ore; I don't care what, so long as it is well worth working. Of course this place has been thoroughly explored before,—at least I should expect so,—but changes are always taking place. Rock shells off in time; great pieces fall and lay bare treasures that have never before been seen."

"Treasures, father?" cried Dick eagerly.

"Yes, treasures. Not buried treasures—Spanish doubloons or ingots, my boy, but nature's own treasures. We may as well hunt in all sorts of places, for I mean to find something worth working before I have done."

"I say, father, isn't it all stuff and nonsense about anything living in a cave like this?"

"What—of the hobgoblin kind, Dick?"

"Yes, father."

Mr Temple did not answer for a few moments, and then he replied in the same low tone as that in which his son had asked the question.

"For shame, Dick!" he said softly.

That was all.

Dick felt it as a severe rebuke, and did not speak for a minute or two as they went on winding in and out among the rocks, with the roof rapidly curving down, and the floor, which was sandy no longer, seeming to rise as the sides of the cave contracted and the travelling had become an awkward climb.

"I don't believe any of that stuff, father," said Dick softly.

"That's right," replied Mr Temple. "Hah: yes!" he said holding the lantern so that the light shone on the roof—"tin!"

"Tin, father?" cried Dick joyfully. "Have you found tin?"

"Yes, but too poor to be worth working;" and Mr Temple went on a little, and stopped to chip the side with his hammer. "Traces of copper here," he said. "Look: peacock ore; very pretty to look at, but ruinous to work, Dick. Ah! we seem to be coming to the end now."

"Would seals be likely to live in a cave like this?" said Dick.

"I should think not," replied Mr Temple. "The entrance is not near enough to the water. I think they like a place where they can swim right in and out at all times of the tide."

"That's so," said Josh, who had overheard the remark.

"The cave we know, Master Dick," said Will, "is one where you can row right in."

"Can't we go now?" cried Dick excitedly.

"Wait, wait," said Mr Temple, "don't be impatient, my lad. All in good time. Ah! here is the end; and look here, my man, here are some of your strange creatures' drinking vessels."

As he spoke he stepped forward and let the light play upon some pieces of wood, beyond which were five or six very old empty tubs that were a little less than ordinary wooden pails, but narrow at each end like a barrel.

Josh came forward with Will to stare at the half-rotten fragments, which were black and slimy with the drippings from the roof, and the iron hoops were so eaten away that upon Mr Temple touching one of the tubs with his foot it crumbled down into a heap of black-looking earth.

"Fishermen's buoys," said Will, looking at the heap wonderingly.

"No, my lad; smugglers' brandy-tubs," said Mr Temple. "And you, Josh, here's the explanation of your cock-and-bull story. Some fishermen once saw the smugglers stealing in here by night, and at once set them down as being supernatural. There, let's get out and climb up the rock to the old working. No. Stop; just as I thought; here is the adit."

For they had suddenly come upon the narrow passage that led into the shaft—a low square tunnel, not so carefully-cut as the one they had previously explored.

"Is this likely to be an adit, father?" said Dick, who had caught the term. "Isn't it the natural cave hole?"

"Yes—enlarged," said Mr Temple, letting the light play on the wet sides. "Here are the marks of the pick and hammer, looking pretty fresh still. But we shall gain nothing by going in there except wet jackets. How the water drips!"

For, as they listened, they could hear it musically trickling down, and in another part falling with a regular pat, pat, pat on the rocky floor.

"But where does the water go?" asked Dick. "It ran out of the other in a little stream."

"Far behind us somewhere, I daresay," replied his father. "Don't you see how this floor upon which we stand has been covered with great pieces of rock that have fallen from above? All, Dick, since men worked here. Perhaps this place was worked as a mine a hundred years before the smugglers used the cave, and they have not been here, I should say, for two or three generations. Now let's get out into daylight once more. You would not be scared again about entering a dark cave, eh, Dick?"

"No, father—Oh! the light!"

"I'm glad of that," replied Mr Temple, "for the lamp has gone out. The wick was too small," he added, "and it has slipped through into the oil."

"A mussy me!" groaned Josh. "And in this gashly place!"

"Now, then, who'll lead the way out?" said Mr Temple sharply.

"Let me," cried Dick.

"Go on then, my boy. There's nothing to be afraid of but broken shins. No. Let Will guide, or—pooh! what nonsense! there's the light. We shall almost be able to see as soon as our eyes grow accustomed to the place."

Will went to the front, slowly feeling his way along with outstretched hands towards a faint reflection before them; and, the others following slowly, they were about half-way back, with the task growing easier each moment, when all at once they heard Arthur's cry for help. Forgetting his caution, Will began to run, and Dick after him, stumbling and nearly falling two or three times, Mr Temple and Josh hastening after him as eagerly, but with more care, till they rounded a huge mass of stone which shut out the sight of the sea, when they also ran, and joined Dick and Will.

"There isn't much the matter, father," said Dick, as Mr Temple came running to the boat, "he has only got the hook in his leg."

"Why, I thought he was 'bout killed," grumbled Josh.

"Let me look," said Mr Temple; and Arthur, as his leg was lifted, uttered a piteous moan, and looked round for sympathy.

Mr Temple drew out his knife, and as he opened the sharp blade Arthur shrieked.

"Oh, don't, don't!" he cried, "I couldn't bear it."

"Why, they're not your trousers, Taff, they're mine," cried Dick; and Mr Temple laughed heartily.

"Don't be a coward, Arthur," he said sternly. "I was only going to slit the flannel."

"Oh!" sighed Arthur, "I thought you were going to cut my leg to get out the hook."

"Well, perhaps I shall have to," said Mr Temple quietly; "but you are too much of a man to mind that."

"Oh!" moaned Arthur again.

"Be quiet, sir," said Mr Temple more sternly. "Take away your hands. You are acting like a child."

"But it hurts so!" moaned Arthur. "Oh! don't touch it. I can't bear it touched. Oh! oh! oh!"

"Tut! tut! tut!" ejaculated Mr Temple, as Dick caught his brother's hand.

"I say, do have some pluck, Taff," he whispered. "Of course it hurts, but it will soon be over."

"Yes; it will soon be over," assented Mr Temple, as with his sharp penknife he cut away the thin cord to which the hook was attached, and with it the remains of the bait.

"No, no! let it stop in till it comes out."

"But it will not come out, you stupid fellow," cried Dick.

"Of course not, my boy. It will only fester in your leg, and make it bad," said Mr Temple.

"Oh! oh! oh!" moaned Arthur. "Don't touch it. How it hurts! Couldn't I take some medicine to make it come out?"

"Yes," said Mr Temple quietly. "Three grains of courage and determination and it will be out. There, hold still, and I won't hurt you much. Catch hold of your brother's hands."

"A mussy me!" grumbled Josh as he looked on, scrubbing and scratching at his head with his great fingers all the time.

"Why, you are always talking about going in the army, Arthur," said Mr Temple, hesitating about extracting the hook, which was buried in the boy's leg, for he felt that he would have to make a deep cut to get it out—it being impossible to draw it back on account of the barb. "How would it be with you if the surgeon had to take off an arm or leg?"

"I don't want to be a soldier if it's to hurt like this," moaned Arthur piteously. "Oh, how unlucky I am!"

Mr Temple hesitated for a moment or two longer, thinking of going back and letting a doctor extract the hook; but the next moment his countenance assumed a determined look, and he said firmly:

"I will not hurt you more than I can help, my boy; but I must get out that hook."

"No, no, no!" cried Arthur. "We'll put on a poultice when we get back."

"Poultice won't suck that out," growled Josh. "We often gets hooks in ourselves, sir. Let me do it. I'll have it out in a minute."

"How?" said Mr Temple as he saw Josh pull out his great jack-knife, at the sight of which Arthur shrieked.

"Oh! I'll show you, sir," said Josh, "if he'll give over shouting."

"No," said Mr Temple. "I have a small keen knife here. I can cut it out better than you."

"Cut it out!" roared Josh, completely drowning Arthur's cry of horror. "You mustn't cut it out. Here, let Will do it. His fingers is handier than mine."

"Yes, sir, I can get it out very quickly," said Will eagerly.

"Do it, then," said Mr Temple. "I'll hold him."

"No, no, no!" shrieked Arthur.

"Be silent, sir," said his father sternly; and Arthur was cowed by the angry look and words.

"Poor old Taff!" said Dick to him softly as he held his hand. "I wish it was in my leg instead;" and the tears stood in his eyes, bespeaking his sincerity as he spoke.

"Give me that old marlinspike, Josh, and your knife," said Will quickly; and he took the iron bar and great jack-knife that were handed to him.

"My good lad, what are you going to do?" said Mr Temple. "You must not dig it out with that."

"Oh, no, sir!" said Will, smiling confidently. "I'm going to cut the shank in two so as to get rid of the flattened end. Here, you hold his leg on the gunwale. That's it. Pinch the hook with your fingers. I won't cut 'em, sir."

"I see!" exclaimed Mr Temple quietly; and as Arthur moaned piteously, afraid now more of his father's anger than of the pain, Mr Temple held the injured leg against the side of the boat, pinching the shank of the hook with his fingers.

Will did not hesitate a moment, but placed the edge of the great jack-knife on the soft tinned-iron hook, gave the back of the blade a sharp tap with the iron bar, and cut clean through the shank.

Arthur winced as he watched the descent of the marlinspike, but he was held too tightly by his father for him to move away, had he wished; and this he did not attempt, for fear of greater pain.

What followed was almost like a conjuring trick, it was so quickly done. For, thrusting Mr Temple's hands on one side, Will seized Arthur's leg with his strong young hands, there was a squeak—at least Dick said afterwards that it was a squeak, though it sounded like a shrill "Oh!" and then Will stood up smiling.

"Don't let him, papa—don't let him!" cried Arthur. "I could not bear it. He hurt me then horribly! I will not have it out! I'll bear the pain. He shall not do it! He sha'n't touch—"

Arthur stopped, stared, and dragged up the leg of his flannel trousers to examine his leg, where there were two red spots, one of which had a tiny bead of blood oozing from it, but the hook was gone.

"Why—where—where's the hook?" he cried in a querulous tone.

"Here it is!" said Will, holding it out, for with a quick turn he had forced it on, sending the barb right through where the point nearly touched the surface, and drawn it out—the shank, of course, easily following the barb now that the flattened part had gone.

"Hor! hor! hor! hor!" croaked Josh, indulging in a hoarse laugh. "I taught him how to do that, sir. It'll only prick a bit now, and heal up in a day or two."

"But—but is it all out?" said Arthur, feeling his leg.

"Yes, it's all out, my boy," said Mr Temple. "Now what do you say? Shall we bandage your leg and make you a bed at the bottom of the boat?"

Arthur looked up at him inquiringly, and then, seeing the amused glances of all around, he said sharply:

"I don't like to be laughed at."

"Then you must learn to be more of a man," said his father in a low tone, so that no one else could hear. "Arthur, my boy, I felt quite ashamed of your want of courage."

"But it hurt so, papa."

"I daresay it did, and I have no doubt that it hurts a little now; but for goodness' sake recollect what you are—an English boy, growing to be an English man, and afraid of a little pain! There, jump ashore and forget all about it."

Arthur stood up and obeyed, and then the little party proceeded to climb the cliff, Will leading and selecting the easiest path, till once more they stood beside an open mine-shaft, situated in a nook between two masses of cliff which nearly joined, as it seemed from below, but were quite twenty feet apart when the opening was reached.

"No," said Mr Temple after turning over a little of the debris that had been once dug out of the mine; "there would be nothing here worthy of capital and labour."

He busied himself examining the different pieces of stone with his lens, breaking first one fragment and then another, while Dick tried the depth of the shaft by throwing down a stone, then a larger one, the noise of its fall in the water below coming up with a dull echoing plash. The noise made Arthur shrink away and sit down on a piece of rock that was half covered with pink stonecrop, feeling that it would be dangerous to go too near, and conjuring up in his mind thoughts of how horrible it would be to fall into such a place as this.

Mr Temple seemed to grow more interested in the place as he went on examining the stones which Will kept picking out from the heap beneath their feet.

Then he looked down at the steep slope to the shore, and he could now see why the bank of broken stone was so small, for the waves must have been beating upon it perhaps for a couple of hundred years, sweeping the fragments away, to drive them on along the coast, rolling them over and over till they were ground together or against the rocks and made into the rounded pebbles that strewed the shore.

"That will do," said Mr Temple at last; and as the others descended, he signed to Will to stop, and as soon as they were alone he held out half a crown to him.

"You did that very well, my lad," he said. "You have often taken out hooks before?"

"Dozens of times, sir," said Will quietly, and without offering to take the half-crown. "I don't want paying for doing such a thing as that, sir."

"Just as you like, my lad," said Mr Temple, looking at him curiously. "Go on down."

Will began descending the path, and as soon as his head had disappeared Mr Temple picked up a scrap or two more of the stone, examined them carefully, and then, selecting one special piece, he placed it in his pocket and followed Will.

There was plenty to interest them as they embarked once more, to find that the tide had risen so much that the boat was rowed over rocks that had previously been out of water.

Then on they went, along by the rugged cliffs, Josh keeping them at a sufficient distance from the rocks for them to be in smooth water, while only some twenty or thirty yards away the tide was beating and foaming amongst the great masses of stone, making whirlpools and eddies, swishing up the tangled bladder-wrack and long-fronded sea-weed, and then pouncing upon it and tearing it back, to once more throw it up again.

"Bad place for a ship to go ashore, eh?" said Mr Temple to Josh.

"Bad place, sir? Ay! There was a big three-master did go on the rocks just about here three years ago, and the next morning there was nothing but matchwood and timber torn into rags. Sea's wonderful strong when she's in a rage."

"Yes; it must be an awful coast in a storm."

"Ay, it be!" said Josh. "See yon island, sir?" he continued, pointing to a long black reef standing up out of the sea about half a mile from shore. "Why, I've known that covered by the waves. They'll wash right over it, and send their tops clean over them highest rocks."

"And how high are they?" said Mr Temple, examining the ragged pile, upon which were perched half a dozen beautiful grey gulls, apparently watching their fellows, who were slowly wheeling about over the surface in search of food.

"Good fifty feet, sir; and I've seen the waves come rolling in like great walls, and when they reached the rocks they've seemed to run right up 'em and go clean over."

"That's what you call the sea running mountains high, eh, my man?" said Mr Temple, rather dryly.

"No, sir, I don't," said Josh quietly; "'cause the sea don't run mountains high. Out in the middle of the bay there, where the water's deep, I dunno as ever I see a wave that would be more than say fifteen foot high. It's when it comes on the rocks and strikes that the water's thrown up so far. Look at that, sir," he said, pointing towards a wave that came along apparently higher than the boat, as if it would swamp them, but over which they rode easily. "See where she breaks!"

They watched the wave seem to gather force till it rose up, curled over like a glistening arc of water, striking the rocks, and then rushing up, to come back in a dazzling cascade of foam.

"How high did she go?" said Josh quietly.

"Why, it must have dashed up nine or ten feet, my man," replied Mr Temple.

"Things look small out here, sir," said Josh. "If you was to measure that you'd find it all two fathom, and this is a fine day. Sea leaps pretty high in a storm, as maybe you'll see if you're going to stop down here."

"I hope I shall," said Mr Temple. "Now, then, where are you going to land next?"

"Will and me thought p'r'aps you'd like to see the white rock as he found one day?"

"White rock? what is it—quartz?" said Mr Temple.

"No, sir, I don't think it is," said Will; "it's too soft for that."

"You know what quartz is, then," said Mr Temple quickly.

"Oh, yes, sir! all the mining lads down here know what that is. Pull steady, Josh. Somewhere about here, wasn't it?"

"Nay, nay, my lad. I should have thought you'd knowed. Second cove beyond the seal-cave."

"Seal-cave!" cried Dick. "Are we going by the seal-cave?"

"Yes," said Will; "but the sea is too high to go in to-day. There's the seal-cave," he continued, pointing to a small hole into which the waves kept dashing and foaming out again. From where they were it did not seem to be above half a yard across, and not more above the sea to the jagged arch, while at times a wave raced in and it was out of sight— completely covered by the foaming water.

"I don't think much of that," said Arthur; "it looks more like a rough dog kennel."

"Yes, sir; sea-dog's kennel," said Will, who always addressed Arthur as "sir," while he dropped that title of respect with Dick.

"Ah! well, you must examine the seal-cave another day," said Mr Temple. "Let's see this vein of white stone that you say you found, my lad."

Five minutes' rowing brought them abreast of a split in the cliff, which was divided from top to bottom; and here, after a little manoeuvring, Josh took the boat in, but the sea was so rough that every now and then, to Dick's delight, they were splashed, and Arthur held on tightly by the thwart.

"I shall have to stop aboard, sir," said Josh, "and keep the boat off the rocks, or we shall have a hole in her. I'll back in astarn, and then perhaps you wouldn't mind jumping off when I take you close to that flat rock."

Mr Temple nodded, and as the boat was turned and backed in, he stood up and followed Will, who lightly leaped on to the rock, while before they knew it, Dick was beside them, and the boat a dozen feet away.

"Be careful," was all he said, and then he smiled as his eyes rested upon Arthur, who was holding on to the thwart with both hands looking the image of dismay. For the boat was in troubled water, rising and falling pretty quickly, and requiring all Josh's attention to keep it from bumping on the rocks.

Will started forward at once, clambering into the narrow rift, which was not very easy of access on account of the number of brambles that ran in all directions, but by carefully pressing them down, the trio got on till they were some fifty feet up the rift. Then, stooping down, Will bent some rough growth aside so as to lay bare the rock and show that, nearly hidden by grey lichen and stonecrop which was growing very abundantly, the rock seemed to be of a pinky cream instead of the prevailing grey and black.

Mr Temple examined it closely without a word. Then taking out his hammer he was about to strike off a fragment, but he refrained and rose up once more.

"That will do for to-day," he said, to Will's disappointment; and for the time it seemed as if the white vein of soft rock was not worthy of notice; but Will noted one thing, and so did Dick. It was that Mr Temple carefully replaced the brambles and overgrowth before climbing higher to the very top of the rift, where he could look out on the open country before he descended and joined the two boys again.

"Now," he said shortly, "back to the boat."

It needed no little skill to get aboard the boat, but Josh handled her so well that he sent her stern close up to the rock upon which they had landed; but just as Mr Temple was about to step on to the rock, in came a wave, and it was flooded two feet deep.

"Little quicker next time, sir," shouted Josh.

"Will you go first, Dick?" said Mr Temple. "Or no; I will," he added; and this time he managed so well that he stepped on to the rock as it was left dry, and from it to the gunwale of the boat as it came towards him, and thence on board.

"Now, Dick, watch your time," said Mr Temple as he sat down.

"All right, father!" shouted back Dick. "I can do it."

"Don't hurry, master," said Josh, as the stone was once more flooded. "Now!" he cried, as the wave sank again.

"One, two, three warning!" shouted Dick, and he jumped on to the rock as it was left bare again, and then found himself sliding on a piece of slimy sea-weed rapidly towards the edge. He made a tremendous effort to recover himself; but it had the contrary effect, and as the next wave came in poor Dick went into it head over heels, and down into deep water.

Arthur uttered a cry, and Mr Temple started up in the boat.

"Sit down!" roared Josh; "he'll come up, and I'll put you alongside him."

Almost as he spoke Dick's head popped up out of the water, and he shook the hair out of his eyes and swam towards the boat, into which he half climbed, was half dragged, and there stood dripping and looking astonished.

"I say, how was that?" he said, staring from one to the other. "I couldn't stop myself. It was like being on ice."

"Sea-weed," said Josh gruffly. "Steady, Will, lad. Don't you come aboard that way."

Will did not, but stepped lightly from rock to rock and then into the boat, hardly wetting his feet.

"If I was you, Master Dick," said Josh, "I'd take an oar and row going back—leastwise if we be going back. Then you won't hurt a bit."

"I was going to propose walking home," said Mr Temple, "and I think that will be best."

So they were set ashore at the nearest point to the cliff pathway, where a tramp over the hot rocks with the sunshine streaming down upon his head, half dried Dick before he got back to their rooms, where the dinner he ate after a change fully proved that he was none the worse for this second dip.

"I say, father," he said, "one ought to get used to the sea down here."

"I think so too," said his father smiling; "but, Dick, you must not go on like this."

"No," said Dick; "it's Taff's turn now;" and he said it in so quietly serious a manner that his brother half rose from his seat.

"Oh! by the way, Arthur," said Mr Temple, "Dick's accident made me forget yours. How is the wounded leg?"

"Better, I think," said Arthur, for he had forgotten its existence all through the walk home.



If you want to go to a place where the air you breathe seems to till your veins with joy, and you begin to tingle with a desire to be up and doing something, go down into Cornwall, where the breeze seems to sparkle and effervesce like the waves that beat upon the rocky shore, and from whose crests it bears off the health-giving ozone to mix with the fragrant scent of the wild thyme and heather of the hills and barren moors. The sea never looks two days alike: now it is glistening like frosted silver, now it is as liquid gold. At one time it is ruddy like wine, at another time rich orange or amber, and a few hours after intensely blue, as if the sky had fallen or joined it then and there. Only in storm time is it thick and muddy, as it is in other parts of our coast, and even then it is not long before it settles down once more to its crystal purity.

"Ahoy-ay! Ahoy-ay!"

A musical chorus, softened by distance as it came off the sea, awakened Dick Temple from dreams of boats and mines, and rocks, and caves full of cuttle-fish, crabs, and seals, so big that they seemed monsters of the deep.

The window was open, for he had left it so when he had scrambled out of his clothes and jumped into bed.

Then Arthur, who was calmly folding his garments, or rather his brother's, had quietly gone across the room and shut the window.

Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6     Next Part
Home - Random Browse