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"I have had such a night!" he said. "Oh, Heaven! such a night! I don't believe that I shall live through another."

"Nonsense!" said Augusta, “eat some biscuit and you will feel better." He took a piece of the biscuit which she gave him, and attempt'ed to swallow it, but could not.

"It is of no use," he said; "I am a dying man. wet clothes in the boat has finished me."

Sitting in those

And Augusta, looking at his face, could not but believe him.

CHAPTER IX.

AUGUSTA TO THE RESCUE.

AFTER breakfast—that is, after Augusta had eaten some biscuit and a wing that remained from the chickens 1 she had managed to cook upon the previous day- Bill and Johnnie, the two sailors, set to work, at her sŭ(g)ges'tion, to fix up a long fragment of drift-wood 2 on a point of rock, and to bind on to it a flag that they happened to find in the locker 3 of the boat. There was not much chance of its being seen by anybody in that mist-laden atmosphere, even if anybody came there to see it, of which there was still less chance; still they did it as a sort of duty. By the time this task was finished it was midday, and, for a wonder, there was little wind, and the sun shone brightly. On returning to the huts Augusta got the blankets out to dry, and set the two sailors to roast some of the eggs they had found on the previous day. This they did willingly enough, for they were now quite sõber, and very much ashamed of themselves. Then, after giving Dick some more biscuit and four roasted eggs, which he took to 5 wonderfully, she went to Mr. Meeson, who was

1) When fowls (hens or cocks) are destined and prepared for food, they are called chickens.

2) She told them to place a long piece of wood that had been drifted ashore, upright on a rock.

3) A locker is a drawer, cupboard or chest, especially on board ships, that can be locked. The locker of a boat is near the stern. 4) It was a strange unusual thing.

5) To take to a thing is to be attracted by it, to like it.

"

lying groaning in the hut, and persuaded him to come and sit out in the warmth.

1

By this time the wretch'ed man's condition was pitiable, for, though his strength was still whole in him, he was persuaded 1 that he was going to die, and could touch nothing but some rum-and-water.

"Miss Smithers," he said, as he sat shivering upon the rocks, "I am going to die in this horrible place, and I am not fit to die! To think of me," he went on with a sudden burst of his old fire, "to think of my dying like a starved dog in the cold, when I have two millions of money waiting to be spent there in England! And I would give them all-yes, every farthing of them-to find myself safe at home again! By Jōve! I would change places with any poor devil of a writer in the Hutches! Yes, I would turn author on twenty pounds a month!-that will give you some idea of my condition, Miss Smithers! To think that I should ever live to say that I would care to be a beggarly author, who could not make a thousand a year if he wrote till his fingers fell off!-oh! oh!" and he fairly sobbed at the horror and degrada'tion of the thought.

Augusta looked at the poor wretch, and then bethought' her of the proud creature she had known, raging terribly through the obsequious ranks of clerks, and carrying desola'tion to the Hutches and the many-headed Editôrial Depart'ment. She looked and was filled with reflections on the mutabil'ity of human affairs'.

Alas! how changed that Meeson!

"Yes," he went on, recovering himself a little, "I am going to die in this horrible place, and all my money will not even give me a dēcent funeral. Addison and Roscoe will get it—confound' them!—as though they had not got enough already. It makes me mad when I think of those Addison girls spending my money, and bribing peers to marry them with it, or something of that sort. I disinherited my own nephew, Eustace, and kicked him out to sink or swim2; and now I can't undo' it, and I would give anything to alter that! We quarrelled about you, Miss Smithers, because I would not give you any more money for that book of yours. I wish I had given it to

1) He felt convinced, sure of it.

2) I drove him away to let him manage for himself, indifferent to what might become of him.

you-anything you wanted. I didn't treat you well; but, Miss Smithers, a bargain is a bargain. It would never have done to give way', on principle. You must understand' that, Miss Smithers. Don't revenge' yourself on me about it, now that I am helpless, because, you see, it was a matter of principle."

"I am not in the habit of revenging myself, Mr. Meeson," answered Augusta, with dignity; "but I think that you have done a very wicked thing to disinherit your nephew in this fashion, and I don't wonder that you feel uncom'fortable about it.”

The expression of this vigorous opinion served to disturb' Mr. Meeson's conscience all the more, and he burst out into laments' and regrets'.

"Well," said Augusta at last, "if you don't like your will you had better alter it. There are enough of us here to witness a will, and, if anything happens to you, it will override 2 the other-will it not?" This was a new idea, and the dying man jumped at it 3.

"Of course, of course," he said; "I never thought of that before. I will do it at once, and cut Addison and Roscoe out altogether. Eustace shall have every farthing. I never thought of that before. Come, give me your hand; I'll get up and see about it."

"Stop a minute," said Augusta. "How are you going to write a will without pen or pencil, paper or ink?"

Mr. Meeson sank back with a groan. This difficulty had not occurred to him.

"Are you sure nobody has got a pencil and a bit of paper?" he asked. "It would do, so long as the writing remained legible."

"I don't think so," said Augusta, "but I will inquire." Accordingly she went and asked Bill and Johnnie: but neither of them had a pencil or a single scrap of paper, and she returned sadly to communicate the news.

"I have got it, I have got it," said Mr. Meeson, as she approached

1) It would not have been right for me not to stick to what I had once said.

2) To override, really to ride over, to trample down, means fig. to supersede', to annul'. The will she wanted him to write would make the existing one invălid.

3) To jump at means to spring to with the object of catching. Fig. to seize eagerly, as to jump at a chance.

the spot where he lay upon the rock. "If there is no paper or pen, we must write it in blood upon some linen. We can make a pen from the feathers of a bird. I read somewhere in a book of somebody who did that. It will do as well as anything else."

Here was an idea, indeed, and one that Augusta jumped at. But in another moment her enthusiasm received a check. Where was there any linen to write on?

"Yes, she said, "if you can find some linen. flannel shirt, so have the two sailors, and little in flannel, too."

You have got a
Dick is dressed

It was a fact. As it happened, not one of the party had a scrap of linen on them, or anything that would answer the purpose. Indeed, they had only one pocket-handkerchief between them 1, and it was a red rag full of holes. Augusta had had one, but it had blown 2 overboard' when they were in the boat. What would they not have given for that pocket-handkerchief now!

"Yes," said Mr. Meeson, "it seems we have none. I haven't even got a bank-note, or I might have written in blood upon that: though I have got a hundred sovereigns in gold-I grabbed them up before I bōlted 3 from the cabin. But I say-excuse me, Miss Smithers, but-um-ah-oh! hang modesty 4 haven't you got some linen on, somewhere or other, that you could spare a bit of? You shän't lose by giving it to me. There, I promise that I will tear up the agreement if ever I get out of this- which I shan't-which I shan't-and I will write on the linen that it is to be torn up. Yes, and that you are to have five thousand pounds legacy too, Miss Smithers. Surely you can spare me a little bit—just off the skirt, or somewhere, you know, Miss Smithers? It never will be missed, and it is so very important."

Augusta blushed, and no wonder. "I am sorry to say I have nothing of the sort about me, Mr. Meeson-nothing except flannel,'

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1) There was only one of them who had a handkerchief. Grammatically it ought to be among them.

2) For had been blown.

3) To bolt is to move on very rapidly like an arrow or a bolt. horse is said to bolt when the rider or driver cannot hold it in. 4) Modesty be hanged, may go to the deuce.

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she said. "I got up in the middle of the night before the collision, and there was no light in the cabin, and I put on whatever came first, meaning to come back and dress afterwards when it got light." "Not a cuff or a collar? Haven't you got a cuff or a collar?" he said desperately, catching at a last straw of hope.

Augusta shook her head sadly.

"Then there is an end of it!" groaned Mr. Meeson. "Eustace must

lose the money. Poor lad! poor lad! I have behāved very badly

to him."

Augusta stood still, racking her brain 1 for some expēdient, for she was deter'mined that Eustace Meeson should not lose the chance of that colos'sal fortune if she could help it 2. It was but a poor chance at the best 3, for Mr. Meeson might not be dying, after all. And if he did die, it was probable that his fate would be their fate also, and no record would' remain of them or of Mr. Meeson's testamentary wishes. As things looked at present, there was every prospect of their all perishing miserably on that desolate shore.

Just then the sailor Bill, who had been up to the flag-staff on the rock on the chance of catching sight of some passing vessel, walked past. His flannel shirt-sleeves were rolled up to the elbows of his brawny arms, and as he stopped to speak to Augusta she noticed something that made her start, and gave her an idea.

"There ain't nothing to be seen," said the man roughly; "and it's my belief that there won't be neither. Here we are, and here we stops till we dies and rots 4."

"Ah, I hope not," said Augusta. "By the way, Mr. Bill, will you let me look at the tattoo' on your arm?"

"Certainly, Miss," said Bill, with alacrity, holding his great arm within an inch of her nose. It was covered with various tattoos: flags, ships, and what not, in the middle of which, written in small

or

1) To rack is to torture by stretching the limbs on a rack or wheel, some other engine. In a fig. sense to rack one's brain(s) or wits means to strain them, to exert them to the utmost in order to find or accomplish something.

2) If it depended upon her.

3) Looked at from the most favourable side.

4) Observe the vulgarisms in Bill's speech.

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