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and who fairly howled when his particular friend, a remarkably fierce and grisly-looking boatswain, brought him as a parting offering a large whale's tooth, patiently carved by himself with a spirited picture of their rescue on Kerguelen Land. Then there was Mrs. Thomas herself. When they finally reached the island of St. Michael, in the Azores, Augusta had offered to pay fifty pounds, being half of the hundred sovereigns given to her by Mr. Meeson, to Captain Thomas as a passage fee, knowing that he was by no means overburdened with the goods of this world. But he stoutly declined to touch a farthing, saying that it would be unlucky to take money from a castaway. Augusta as stoutly insisted; and, finally, a compromise was come to Mrs. Thomas was anxious, being seized with that acute species of homesickness from which Suffolk people are no more exempt than other folk, to visit the land where she was born and the people midst whom she was bred. But this she could not well afford to do. Therefore, Augusta's proffered fifty pounds was appropriated to this purpose, and Mrs. Thomas stopped
, with Augusta at Ponta Delgada, waiting for the London and West India Line Packet to take them to Southampton.
So it came to pass that they stood together on the Ponta Delgada breakwater and together saw the Harpoon sail off towards the setting sun.
Then came a soft, dreamy fortnight in the fair island of St. Michael, where Nature is ever as a bride, and never reaches the stage of the hard-worked, toil-worn mother, lank and lean with the burden of maternity. The mental act of looking back to this time, in afteryears, always recalled to Augusta's senses the odor of orange-blossoms and the sight of the rich pomegranate-bloom blushing the roses down. It was a pleasant time, for the English consul there most hospitably entertained them--with much more personal enthusiasm, indeed, than he generally considered it necessary to show towards shipwrecked voyagers—a class of people of whom consular representatives abroad must get rather tired with their eternal misfortunes and their perennial want of clothes. Indeed, the only drawback to her enjoyment was that the consul, a gallant, exnaval officer with red hair, equally charmed by her adventures, her literary fame, and her person, showed a decided disposition to fall in love with her, and a red-haired and therefore ardent naval officer is, under those circumstances, a somewhat alarming personage. But the time went on without anything serious happening; and, at last, one morning after breakfast, a man came running up with the information that the mail was in sight.
And so Augusta took an affectionate farewell of the golden-haired consul, who gazed at her through his eyeglass, and sighed when he thought of what might have been in the sweet by-and-by; and the ship’s bell rang, and the screw began to turn, leaving the consul still sighing on the horizon; and in due course Augusta and Mrs. Thomas found themselves standing on the quay at Southampton, the centre of an admiring and enthusiastic crowd.
The captain had told the extraordinary tale to the port officials when they boarded the vessel, and on getting ashore the port officials had made haste to tell every living soul they met the wonderful news that two survivors of the ill-fated Kangaroo—the history of whose tragic end had sent a thrill of horror through the English-speaking world—were safe and sound on board the West India boat. Thus, by the time that Augusta, Mrs. Thomas, and Dick were safe on shore, their story, or rather sundry distorted versions of it, was flashing up the wires to the various press agencies, and running through Southampton like wild - fire. Scarcely were their feet set upon the quay, when, with a rush and a bound, wild men, with note-books in their hands, sprang upon them, and beat them down with a rain of questions. Augusta found it impossible to answer them all at once, so contented herself with saying “Yes," "yes," "yes,” to everything, out of which monosyllable, she afterwards found to her surprise, these fierce and active pressmen contrived to make up a sufficiently moving tale; which included glowing accounts of the horrors of the shipwreck, and, what rather took her aback, a positive statement that she and the sailors had lived for a fortnight upon the broiled remains of Mr. Meeson. One interviewer, being a small man, and, therefore, unable to kick and fight his way through the ring which surrounded Augusta and Mrs. Thomas, seized upon little Dick, and commenced to chirp and snap his fingers at him in the intervals of asking him such questions as he thought suitable to his years.
Dick, dreadfully alarmed, fled with a howl; but this did not prevent a column and a half of matter, headed “ The Infant's Tale of Woe,” from appearing that very day in a journal noted for the accuracy and unsensational character of its communications. Nor was the army of interviewers the only terror they had to face. Little girls gave them bouquets; an old lady, whose brain was permeated with the idea that shipwrecked people went about in a condition of undress for much longer than was necessary after the event, arrived with an armful of underclothing streaming on the breeze; and last, but not least, a tall gentleman, with a beautiful mustache, thrust into Augusta's hand a note hastily written in pencil, which, when opened, proved to be an offer of marriage !
However, at last they found themselves in a firstclass carriage, ready to start, or rather starting. The interviewing gentlemen, two of whom had their heads jammed through the window, were forcibly torn away -still asking questions—by the officials of the company, the tall gentleman with the mustache, who was hovering in the background, smiled a soft farewell, in which modesty struggled visibly with hope, the station-master took off his cap, and in another minute they were rolling out of Southampton station.
Augusta sank back with a sigh of relief, and then burst out laughing at the thought of the gentleman with the fair mustache. On the seat opposite to her somebody had thoughtfully placed a number of the day's papers. She took up the first that came to hand
and glanced at it idly with the idea of trying to pick up
the thread of events. Her eyes fell instantly upon the name of Mr. Gladstone printed all over the sheet in type of varying size, and she sighed. Life on the ocean wave had been perilous and disagreeable enough, but at any rate she had been free from Mr. Gladstone and his doings. Whatever evil might be said of him, he was not an old man of the sea. Turning the paper over impatiently she came upon the reports of the Probate Divorce and Admiralty Division of the High Court. The first report ran thus :
"BEFORE THE RIGHT HONORABLE THE PRESIDENT,
IN THE MATTER OF MEESON, DECEASED. “This was an application arising out of the loss of the R.M.S. Kangaroo on the eighteenth of December last. It will be remembered that out of about a thousand souls on board that vessel the occupants of one boat only-twenty-five people in all-were saved. Among the drowned was Mr. Meeson, the head of the well-known Birmingham publishing company of Meeson, Addison, and Roscoe, & Co. (limited), who was at the time on a visit to New Zealand and Australia in connection with the business of the company.
“Mr. Fiddlestick, Q.C., who with Mr. Pearl appeared for the applicants (and who was somewhat imperfectly heard), stated that the facts connected with the sinking of the Kangaroo would probably still be so fresh in his lordship's mind that it would not be necessary for him to detail them, although he had them upon affidavit before him. His lordship would remember that but one boatload of people had survived from this, perhaps the most terrible shipwreck of the generation. Among the drowned was Mr. Meeson; plication was on behalf of the executors of his will for leave to presume his death. The property which passed under the will was very large indeed; amounting in all, Mr. Fiddlestick understood, to
and this ap