酷兔英语



FOSTER'S LETTER OF MARQUE

A TALE OF OLD SYDNEY

From "The Tapu Of Banderah and Other Stories"

By Louis Becke

C. Arthur Pearson Ltd.

1901

I

One by one the riding-lights of the few store-ships and whalers lying

in Sydney Harbour on an evening in January, 1802, were lit, and as the

clear notes of a bugle from the barracks pealed over the bay, followed

by the hoarse calls and shrill whistles of the boatswains' mates on a

frigate that lay in Sydney Cove, the mate of the _Policy_ whaler jumped

up from the skylight where he had been lying smoking, and began to pace

the deck.

The _Policy_ was anchored between the Cove and Pinchgut, ready for sea.

The north-easter, which for three days had blown strongly, had now died

away, and the placid waters of the harbour shimmered under the starlight

of an almost cloudless sky. As the old mate tramped to and fro on the

deserted poop, his keen seaman's eye caught sight of some faint grey

clouds rising low down in the westward--signs of a south-easterly coming

before the morning.

Stepping to the break of the poop, the officer hailed the look-out

forward, and asked if he could see the captain's boat coming.

"No, sir," the man replied. "I did see a boat a while ago, and thought

it was ours, but it turned out to be one from that Batavian Dutchman

anchored below Pinchgut. Her captain always goes ashore about this

time."

Swinging round on his heel with an angry exclamation, the mate resumed

his walk, muttering and growling to himself as elderly mates do

mutter and growl when a captain promises to be on board at five in the

afternoon and is not in evidence at half-past seven. Perhaps, too, the

knowledge of the particular cause of the captain's delay somewhat added

to his chief officer's ill-temper--that cause being a pretty girl; for

the mate was a crusty old bachelor, and had but little sympathy with

such "tomfoolery."

"Why the devil couldn't he say goodbye to her and be done with it and

come aboard," he grumbled, "instead of wasting half a day over it?"

But Mr. Stevenson did not consider that in those days pretty women were

not plentiful in Sydney, and virtue was even scarcer than good looks,

and Dorothy Gilbert, only daughter of the Deputy Acting Assistant

Commissary-General of the penal settlement, possessed all the

qualifications of a lovable woman, and therefore it was not wonderful

that Captain Charles Foster had fallen very much in love with her.

Dorothy, of course, had her faults, and her chief one was the rather

too great store she set upon being the daughter of an official. Pretty

nearly every one in those days of the settlement was either an official

or a prisoner or an ex-convict, and the D.A.A.C.G. was of no small

importance among the other officials in Sydney. The girl's acquaintance

with the young master of the _Policy_ began in a very ordinary manner.

His ship had been chartered by the Government to take out a cargo of

stores to the settlement, and the owners, who were personally acquainted

with her father, had given Foster a letter of introduction. This he had

used somewhat sooner than he had at first intended, for on presenting

himself at the Commissary's office he had caught sight of Dolly's

charming face as she stood talking to a young man in the uniform of a

sergeant of the New South Wales Regiment who had brought a letter to her

father. .

"Thank you, Sergeant," the young lady said with a gracious smile. "Will

you present my father's compliments to the Major and say we shall be

sure to come. He is not here at present, but cannot delay long, as he

will have much business to transact with the master of the ship just

come in, and who will doubtless be here very soon."

Just at that moment Foster appeared at the open door, and the young

lady, divining at once that he was the person of whom she had just

spoken, bowed very prettily, and begging him to be seated whilst she

had search made for her father, left the office and disappeared in the

living portion of the house, followed by a look of very great interest

from Captain Foster. A minute later the Commissary entered the room, and

Foster was soon deep in business with Dolly's father, to whom he made

himself very agreeable--having a certain object in view.

Their business concluded, the young man rose to go, and not till

then--being wise in his generation--did he allude to the fact of his

having a private letter of introduction from his owners--Messrs. Hurry

Brothers, of London--to Mr. Scars-brook. The stiff, official manner of

the D.A.A.C.G. at once thawed, and being at heart a genial old fellow,

he expressed his pleasure, shook hands again with the young man, and

inquired why he had not presented the letter or made allusion to it

before.

Foster, who had pretty well gauged Mr. Scarsbrook mentally, modestly

replied that he did not care to obtrude private affairs at an

inopportune time. He knew that weighty affairs doubtless occupied Mr.

Scarsbrook's mind during his business hours, but had intended to do

himself the honour of presenting his letter later on, &c.

This at once impressed the D.A.A.C.G., who asked him to dinner that

evening.

"A most intelligent young man, my dear," he told Dolly shortly

after. "His attention to business before all else has given me a very

favourable impression of him."

Dolly tossed her head. "I hope I shall not be disappointed in him. Is he

young?" she asked indifferently.

"Quite; and in manners and appearance much above his position."

Dolly did like him very much--'much more than she cared to confess to

herself--and their first meeting at dinner led to many of a less formal

character, and ere a week had passed Captain Charles Foster was very

much in love with his host's daughter, and not being a man who wasted

time, was only awaiting an opportunity to tell her so.

Now Dolly, who had first flirted with and then flouted every one of

the bachelor officials in Sydney, military or civilian, who visited the

Commissary's abode, was, to do her justice, a girl of sense at heart,

and she felt that Captain Foster meant to ask her an all-important

question--to every woman--and that her answer would be "Yes." For not

only was he young, handsome, and highly thought of by his owners, but he

came of a good family, and had such prospects for his future as seldom

came in the way of men in the merchant service even in those days of

lucky South-Seamen and East India traders, who made fortunes rapidly.

And then 'twas evident he was very much in love with her, and this

latter fact considerably and naturally influenced her.

The first week passed pleasantly enough, then, to his anger and disgust,

Foster found he had a rival; and before the end of the second week he

realised, or imagined so, that he was beaten in the field of love--by a

Dutchman!

Sergeant Harry Burt was the first to give him warning, for he was often

on duty at or near the Commissary's quarters, and, indeed, had often

taken notes from Foster to the fair Dolly. He showed a warm interest in

the matter, for Foster was always polite to the sergeant, and did not

turn up his nose at "soldier men," as other masters of ships were but

too ready to do.

It had so happened that the work of discharging his ship had kept Foster

very busy during the second week of his stay, and he had paid but one

evening visit to Dolly and her father, and was hurrying the cargo ashore

with feverish eagerness. Once that was accomplished, he meant to devote

himself (1)to proposing to the young lady, (2) gaining her father's

consent, and (3) getting to sea again as soon as possible, making a good

cruise at the whale fishery, and returning to Sydney within two years

as master and owner of a ship of his own. Consequently, Burt's news gave

him considerable disquietude.

"Who did you say he was, Sergeant?" he asked gloomily; "a Dutchman?"

"Yes, sir; he's the master of that Dutch Batavian ship that has brought

stores from Batavia. Mr. Scarsbrook seems to make a lot of him of late,

and he's always coming up to the Commissary's place. And if he sees Miss

Scarsbrook out in the garden he swaggers in after her as if he were an

admiral of the fleet Portveldt's his name, and--and----"

"And what, Sergeant?"

"Well, I think Miss Scarsbrook rather likes him, that's all. You see,

sir, you haven't been there for a week, and this young Dutchman is by no

means bad-looking, and even our Major says he's a jolly fine fellow--and

all that goes a long way with women, you know. Then you only visit the

house once in a week; the Dutchman goes there every day, and every time

he comes he brings his boatswain with him--a big, greasy-faced chap.

Last night he followed his master, carrying a cheese--a present for the

Commissary, I suppose."

"Well, I shall soon see how the land lies, Sergeant I'm going ashore

presently, and I can promise you it won't be my fault if I let this

fellow get to windward of me."

But Miss Dolly was not to be seen that day, nor yet on the following

one. She was vexed at Foster having thought of his work before herself,

and she had determined to punish him by not meeting him for some little

time, and amuse herself with the handsome young Dutch sailor meanwhile.

So, in no very amiable mood, Foster went back to his ship, finished

discharging, and delighted his old mate by telling him to get ready

for sea as quickly as possible. And on this particular evening when

our story opens the _Policy_ only waited for her captain--who had gone

ashore--so he told Stevenson--to say goodbye to the Commissary, with

parting instructions to the mate to begin to heave up as soon as he saw

his (Foster's) boat leave the Cove.

After spending half an hour with the Commissary, Foster asked to see

Miss Dorothy, and was soon ushered into the sitting-room, where the

young lady welcomed him effusively, and her manner soon drove all

suspicious thoughts of his rival out of his mind. Her mother, a placid

lady, who was absolutely ruled by Dolly and her father, smiled approval

when Foster asked her daughter to accompany him to the garden and take

a look at the harbour. She liked him, and had previously given him much

assistance by getting out of the way whenever she suspected he wanted to

see Dolly alone.

As soon as they had gained the screen of the shaded path leading to the

water's edge, Foster came to the point at once.

"Dolly," he said, "you know why I have asked you to come with me here.

My ship is ready for sea, and it may be quite two years before I shall

have the happiness of seeing you again."

"'Tis very kind of you to pay me so pretty a compliment, Captain

Foster--or I should say Mr. Foster," said Dolly, concealing a smile;

"but surely you need not have brought me out to the garden to tell me

this."

Her pretended forgetfulness of some past passages in their brief

acquaintance, as her speech implied, ruffled him.

"You are very particular with your _Mr_. Foster, Miss Dolly; and why not

'Captain'?"

Dolly raised her eyebrows in surprise.

"Captains hold the King's commission and fight for their country," she

said demurely. "The master of a horrid ship that goes catching whales

has no right to the title." Then she laughed and shook her long, fair

curls.

"Upon my word, young lady, you are very complimentary; but, Dolly, no

more of this banter. My boat is waiting, and I have but a few minutes

to ask you to give me your answer. In all seriousness remember that my

future depends upon it. Will you marry me? Will you try to love me?

May I go away with the hope that you will look forward to my return,

and----"

"In all seriousness, Mr. Foster, I will not."

"Why, what have I done to offend you? I thought you--I thought that

I----" and then, getting somewhat confused and angry at the same time

at Dolly's nonchalant manner, he wound up with, "I believe that damned

Dutchman has come between us!"

"How dare you swear at me, sir? I suppose, though, it is the custom for

captains in the merchant service to swear at ladies. And what right have

you to assume that I should marry you? Because I rather liked to talk to

you when I felt dull, is that any reason why you should be so very

rude to me? And once for all, sir, I shall never marry a mere merchant

sailor--a common whaling master. I shall marry, when I do marry, an

officer and a gentleman in the King's service."

"Ah!" Foster snapped, "and what about the Dutchman?"

Now up to this point Dolly had been making mere pretence. She honestly

loved the young seaman, and meant to tell him so plainly before he left

the garden, but at this last question the merriment he had failed to see

in her eyes gave place to an angry sparkle, and she quickly retorted--

"Mr. Portveldt, sir, is a Dutch gentleman, and he would never talk to me

in such a way as you have done. How dare you, sir!"

Foster was really angry now, and smiled sarcastically. "He's but the

master of a merchantman, and an infernal Dutchman at that."

"He is a gentleman, which you are not!" snapped Dolly fiercely; "and

if he is but a merchant skipper, he commands his own ship. He is a

shipowner, and a well-known Batavian merchant as well, sir; so there!"

"So I believe," said Foster wrathfully; "sells Dutch cheeses and brings

them ashore with him."

"You're a spy," said Dolly contemptuously.

"Very well, Miss Scarsbrook, call me what you please. I can see your

cheese merchant waddling this way now, attended by his ugly pirate of

a boatswain. Doubtless he has some stock-fish on this occasion, and

as stock-fish are very much like Dutchmen in one respect and I like

neither, I wish you joy of him. Goodbye!" And Captain Foster swung on

his heel and walked quickly out of the garden gate. As he strode down

the narrow path he brushed past the Batavian merchant, who was on his

way to the Commissary's office.

"Goot tay to you, Captain Foster," said Port-veldt, grinning amiably.

"Go to the devil!" replied the Englishman promptly, turning round and

facing the Dutchman to give due emphasis to his remark.

Portveldt, a tall, well-made fellow, and handsomely dressed, stared at

Foster's retreating figure in angry astonishment, then changing his mind

about first visiting the Commissary, he opened the garden gate, and came

suddenly upon Dorothy Scarsbrook seated upon a rustic bench, weeping

bitterly.

"My tear yong lady, vat is de matter? I beg you to led me gomfort you."

"There is nothing the matter, Mr. Portveldt I thank you, but you cannot

be of any service to me," and Dolly buried her face in her handkerchief

again.

"I am sorry ferry mooch to hear you say dat, Mees Dorotee, vor it vas

mein hop dot you would dake kindtly to me."

Dolly made no answer, and then Captain Portveldt sat down beside her,

his huge figure quite filling up all the remaining space.

"Mees Dorotee," he began ponderously, "de trood is dot I vas goming to

see you to dell you I vas ferry mooch in loaf mid you, und to ask you to

be mein vifes; but now dot you do veep so mooch, I----"

"Say no more if you please, Mr. Portveldt," said Dolly, hastily drying

her eyes. Then, rising with great dignity, she bowed and went on: "Of

course I am deeply sensible of the great honour that you do me, but

I can never be your wife." And then to herself: "I fancy that I have

replied in a very proper manner."

"Vy, vat vas der wrong aboud me, Mees Dorotee?" pleaded Portveldt "I vas

feery yoyful in mein mind tinking dot you did loaf me some liddle bid. I


生词表:
  • strongly [´strɔŋli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.强烈地;强有力地   (初中英语单词)
  • ashore [ə´ʃɔ:] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.向岸上   (初中英语单词)
  • sympathy [´simpəθi] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.同情,怜悯   (初中英语单词)
  • virtue [´və:tʃu:] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.美德;贞操;长处   (初中英语单词)
  • acting [´æktiŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.代理的 n.演戏   (初中英语单词)
  • therefore [´ðeəfɔ:] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.&conj.因此;所以   (初中英语单词)
  • introduction [,intrə´dʌkʃən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.介绍;引言;引导   (初中英语单词)
  • regiment [´redʒimənt] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.团;一大群   (初中英语单词)
  • gracious [´greiʃəs] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.和蔼可亲的;任慈的   (初中英语单词)
  • doubtless [´dautlis] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.无疑地;大概,多半   (初中英语单词)
  • portion [´pɔ:ʃən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.嫁妆;命运 vt.分配   (初中英语单词)
  • intelligent [in´telidʒənt] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.聪明的;理智的   (初中英语单词)
  • impression [im´preʃən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.印刷;印象;效果   (初中英语单词)
  • confess [kən´fes] 移动到这儿单词发声  vt.供认;坦白;承认   (初中英语单词)
  • evident [´evidənt] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.明显的,明白的   (初中英语单词)
  • beaten [´bi:tn] 移动到这儿单词发声  beat 的过去分词   (初中英语单词)
  • polite [pə´lait] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.有礼貌的;温和的   (初中英语单词)
  • considerable [kən´sidərəbəl] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.重要的;值得重视   (初中英语单词)
  • punish [´pʌniʃ] 移动到这儿单词发声  vt.(惩)罚;痛击;折磨   (初中英语单词)
  • absolutely [´æbsəlu:tli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.绝对地;确实   (初中英语单词)
  • whenever [wen´evə] 移动到这儿单词发声  conj.&ad.无论何时   (初中英语单词)
  • screen [skri:n] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.银幕 vt.遮蔽   (初中英语单词)
  • waiting [´weitiŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.等候;伺候   (初中英语单词)
  • offend [ə´fend] 移动到这儿单词发声  v.犯错误;违犯;犯罪   (初中英语单词)
  • plainly [´pleinli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.平坦地;简单地   (初中英语单词)
  • sparkle [´spɑ:kəl] 移动到这儿单词发声  vi.闪耀;焕发 n.火花   (初中英语单词)
  • fiercely [´fiəsli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.凶猛地,残忍地   (初中英语单词)
  • well-known [,wel´nəun] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.著名的,众所周知的   (初中英语单词)
  • promptly [´prɔmptli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.敏捷地;即时地   (初中英语单词)
  • astonishment [ə´stɔniʃmənt] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.吃惊;惊异   (初中英语单词)
  • hastily [´heistili] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.急速地;草率地   (初中英语单词)
  • dignity [´digniti] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.尊严,尊贵;高官显贵   (初中英语单词)
  • sensible [´sensəbəl] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.感觉得到的   (初中英语单词)
  • shrill [ʃril] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.(声音)尖锐的   (高中英语单词)
  • bachelor [´bætʃələ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.未婚男子;学士   (高中英语单词)
  • plentiful [´plentifəl] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.丰富的;多的   (高中英语单词)
  • deputy [´depjuti] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.代理人;代表   (高中英语单词)
  • foster [´fɔstə] 移动到这儿单词发声  vt.促进;推动;鼓励   (高中英语单词)
  • personally [´pə:sənəli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.亲自;就个人来说   (高中英语单词)
  • whilst [wailst] 移动到这儿单词发声  conj.当…时候;虽然   (高中英语单词)
  • considerably [kən´sidərəbli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.显著地;十分   (高中英语单词)
  • pleasantly [´plezntli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.令人愉快地;舒适地   (高中英语单词)
  • sergeant [´sɑ:dʒənt] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.警官;军士   (高中英语单词)
  • eagerness [´i:gənis] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.渴望;热忱   (高中英语单词)
  • consequently [´kɔnsikwəntli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.因此,所以   (高中英语单词)
  • previously [´pri:viəsli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.预先;以前   (高中英语单词)
  • seeing [si:iŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  see的现在分词 n.视觉   (高中英语单词)
  • compliment [´kɔmplimənt] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.敬意 vt.赞美;祝贺   (高中英语单词)
  • commission [kə´miʃən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.委任(状) vt.委任   (高中英语单词)
  • horrid [´hɔrid] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.令人讨厌的;极糟的   (高中英语单词)
  • pretence [pri´tens] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.假装;托词;无理要求   (高中英语单词)
  • pirate [´paiərət] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.海盗 v.做海盗;掠夺   (高中英语单词)
  • strode [strəud] 移动到这儿单词发声  stride的过去式   (高中英语单词)
  • emphasis [´emfəsis] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.强调;重点   (高中英语单词)
  • rustic [´rʌstik] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.田野的;质朴的   (高中英语单词)
  • hoarse [hɔ:s] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.嘶哑的;嗓门粗哑的   (英语四级单词)
  • placid [´plæsid] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.平静的;温和的   (英语四级单词)
  • exclamation [,eksklə´meiʃən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.喊(惊)叫;感叹词   (英语四级单词)
  • elderly [´eldəli] 移动到这儿单词发声  a. 较老的,年长的   (英语四级单词)
  • wasting [´weistiŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.&n.浪费(的)   (英语四级单词)
  • allude [ə´lu:d] 移动到这儿单词发声  vi.暗指;侧面提到   (英语四级单词)
  • genial [´dʒi:niəl] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.愉快的;和蔼的   (英语四级单词)
  • allusion [ə´lu:ʒən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.暗指;提及;引喻   (英语四级单词)
  • civilian [si´viljən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.平民 a.平民的   (英语四级单词)
  • warning [´wɔ:niŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.警告;前兆 a.预告的   (英语四级单词)
  • feverish [´fi:vəriʃ] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.发烧的;狂热的   (英语四级单词)
  • accomplished [ə´kʌmpliʃt] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.完成了的;熟练的   (英语四级单词)
  • amiable [´eimiəbəl] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.亲切的,温和的   (英语四级单词)
  • delighted [di´laitid] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.高兴的;喜欢的   (英语四级单词)
  • merriment [´merimənt] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.欢乐   (英语四级单词)
  • skipper [´skipə] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.&vi.(当)船长   (英语四级单词)
  • sydney [´sidni] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.悉尼   (英语六级单词)
  • lovable [´lʌvəbəl] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.可爱的   (英语六级单词)
  • transact [træn´zækt] 移动到这儿单词发声  v.处理;做交易;谈判   (英语六级单词)
  • fishery [´fiʃəri] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.渔业,渔场   (英语六级单词)
  • gloomily [´glu:mili] 移动到这儿单词发声  adv.忧郁的   (英语六级单词)
  • dutchman [´dʌtʃmən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.荷兰人   (英语六级单词)
  • forgetfulness [fə´getminɔt] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.健忘   (英语六级单词)
  • seriousness [´siəriəsnis] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.严肃,认真;重要性   (英语六级单词)
  • seaman [´si:mən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.海员,水手   (英语六级单词)
  • infernal [in´fə:nəl] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.地狱的,恶魔似的   (英语六级单词)

  • 上传人 欢乐鱼 分享于 2017-06-26 18:31:06
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