four-oared galley hovering about in so unusual a way as to attract
this notice, was an ugly circumstance that I could not get rid of.
When I had induced Provis to go up to bed, I went outside with my
two companions (Startop by this time knew the state of the case),
and held another council. Whether we should remain at the house
until near the steamer's time, which would be about one in the
afternoon; or whether we should put off early in the morning; was
the question we discussed. On the whole we deemed it the better
course to lie where we were, until within an hour or so of the
steamer's time, and then to get out in her track, and drift easily
with the tide. Having settled to do this, we returned into the
house and went to bed.
I lay down with the greater part of my clothes on, and slept well
for a few hours. When I awoke, the wind had risen, and the sign of
the house (the Ship) was creaking and banging about, with noises
that startled me. Rising softly, for my charge lay fast asleep, I
looked out of the window. It commanded the causeway where we had
hauled up our boat, and, as my eyes adapted themselves to the light
of the clouded moon, I saw two men looking into her. They passed by
under the window, looking at nothing else, and they did not go down
to the landing-place which I could discern to be empty, but struck
across the marsh in the direction of the Nore.
My first impulse was to call up Herbert, and show him the two men
going away. But, reflecting before I got into his room, which was
at the back of the house and adjoined mine, that he and Startop had
had a harder day than I, and were fatigued, I forbore. Going back
to my window, I could see the two men moving over the marsh. In
that light, however, I soon lost them, and feeling very cold, lay
down to think of the matter, and fell asleep again.
We were up early. As we walked to and fro, all four together,
before breakfast, I deemed it right to recount what I had seen.
Again our charge was the least anxious of the party. It was very
likely that the men belonged to the Custom House, he said quietly,
and that they had no thought of us. I tried to persuade myself that
it was so - as, indeed, it might easily be. However, I proposed
that he and I should walk away together to a distant point we could
see, and that the boat should take us aboard there, or as near
there as might prove feasible, at about noon. This being considered
a good precaution, soon after breakfast he and I set forth, without
saying anything at the tavern.
He smoked his pipe as we went along, and sometimes stopped to clap
me on the shoulder. One would have supposed that it was I who was
in danger, not he, and that he was reassuring me. We spoke very
little. As we approached the point, I begged him to remain in a
sheltered place, while I went on to reconnoitre; for, it was
towards it that the men had passed in the night. He complied, and I
went on alone. There was no boat off the point, nor any boat drawn
up anywhere near it, nor were there any signs of the men having
embarked there. But, to be sure the tide was high, and there might
have been some footpints under water.
When he looked out from his shelter in the distance, and saw that I
waved my hat to him to come up, he rejoined me, and there we
waited; sometimes lying on the bank wrapped in our coats, and
sometimes moving about to warm ourselves: until we saw our boat
coming round. We got aboard easily, and rowed out into the track of
the steamer. By that time it wanted but ten minutes of one o'clock,
and we began to look out for her smoke.
But, it was half-past one before we saw her smoke, and soon
afterwards we saw behind it the smoke of another steamer. As they
were coming on at full speed, we got the two bags ready, and took
that opportunity of saying good-bye to Herbert and Startop. We had
all shaken hands cordially, and neither Herbert's eyes nor mine
were quite dry, when I saw a four-oared galley shoot out from under
the bank but a little way ahead of us, and row out into the same