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WARDLAW senior was not what you would call a tender-hearted man; but he was thoroughly moved by General Rolleston's distress, and by his fortitude. The gallant old man! Landing in England one week and going back to the Pacific the next! Like goes with like; and Wardlaw senior, energetic and resolute himself, though he felt for his son, stricken down by grief, gave his heart to the more valiant distress of his contemporary. He manned and victualed the Springbok for a long voyage, ordered her to Plymouth, and took his friend down to her by train.
They went out to her in a boat. She was a screw steamer, that could sail nine knots an hour without burning a coal. As she came down the Channel, the general's trouble got to be well known on board her, and, when he came out of the harbor, the sailors, by an honest, hearty impulse that did them credit, waited for no orders, but manned the yards to receive him with the respect due to his services and his sacred calamity.
On getting on board, he saluted the captain and the ship's company with sad dignity, and retired to his cabin with Mr. Wardlaw. There the old merchant forced on him by loan seven hundred pounds, chiefly in gold and silver, telling him there was nothing like money, go where you will. He then gave him a number of notices he had printed, and a paper of advice and instructions. It was written in his own large, clear, formal hand.
General Rolleston tried to falter out his thanks. John Wardlaw interrupted him.
"Next to you I am her father; am I not?"
"You have proved it."
"Well, then. However, if you do find her, as I pray to God you may, I claim the second kiss, mind that; not for myself, though; for my poor Arthur, that lies on a sick-bed for her."
General Rolleston assented to that in a broken voice. He could hardly speak.
And so they parted: and that sad parent went out to the Pacific.
To him it was indeed a sad and gloomy voyage; and the hope with which he went on board oozed gradually away as the ship traversed the vast tracks of ocean. One immensity of water to be passed before that other immensity could be reached, on whose vast, uniform surface the search was to be made.
To abridge this gloomy and monotonous part of our tale, suffice it to say that he endured two months of water and infinity ere the vessel, fast as she was, reached Valparaiso. Their progress, however, had been more than once interrupted to carry out Wardlaw's instructions. The poor general himself had but one idea; to go and search the Pacific with his own eyes; but Wardlaw, more experienced, directed him to overhaul every whaler and coasting vessel he could, and deliver printed notices; telling the sad story, and offering a reward for any positive information, good or bad, that should be brought in to his agent at Valparaiso.
Acting on these instructions they had overhauled two or three coasting vessels as they steamed up from the Horn. They now placarded the port of Valparaiso, and put the notices on board all vessels bound westward; and the captain of the Springbok spoke to the skippers in the port. But they all shook their heads, and could hardly be got to give their minds seriously to the inquiry, when they heard in what water the cutter was last seen and on what course.
One old skipper said, "Look on Juan Fernandez, and then at the bottom of the Pacific; but the sooner you look there the less time you will lose."
From Valparaiso they ran to Juan Fernandez, which indeed seemed the likeliest place; if she was alive.
When the larger island of that group, the island dear alike to you who read, and to us who write, this tale, came in sight, the father's heart began to beat higher.
The ship anchored and took in coal, which was furnished at a wickedly high price by Mr. Joshua Fullalove, who had virtually purchased the island from Chili, having got it on lease for longer than the earth itself is to last, we hear.
And now Rolleston found the value of Wardlaw's loan; it enabled him to prosecute his search through the whole group of islands; and he did hear at last of three persons who had been wrecked on Masa Fuero; one of them a female. He followed this up, and at last discovered the parties. He found them to be Spaniards, and the woman smoking a pipe.
After this bitter disappointment he went back to the ship, and she was to weigh her anchor next morning.
But, while General Rolleston was at Mesa Fuero, a small coasting vessel had come in, and brought a strange report at second-hand, that in some degree unsettled Captain Moreland's mind; and, being hotly discussed on the forecastle, set the ship's company in a ferment.
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