were good conclusions for the peace of mind of the Instrument-maker. Therefore he availed himself of so favourable a movement for breaking the West Indian Intelligence to his old friend, as a piece of extraordinary preferment; declaring that for his part he would freely give a hundred thousand pounds (if he had it) for Walter's gain in the long-run, and that he had no doubt such an investment would yield a handsome premium.

Solomon Gills was at first stunned by the communication, which fell upon the little back-parlour like a thunderbolt, and tore up the hearth savagely. But the Captain flashed such golden prospects before his dim sight: hinted so mysteriously at Whittingtonian consequences; laid such emphasis on what Walter had just now told them: and appealed to it so confidently as a corroboration of his predictions, and a great advance towards the realisation of the romantic legend of Lovely Peg: that he bewildered the old man. Walter, for his part, feigned to be so full of hope and ardour, and so sure of coming home again soon, and backed up the Captain with such expressive shakings of his head and rubbings of his hands, that Solomon, looking first at him and then at Captain Cuttle, began to think he ought to be transported with joy.

`But I'm behind the time, you understand,' he observed in apology, passing his hand nervously down the whole row of bright buttons on his coat, and then up again, as if they were beads and he were telling them twice over: `and I would rather have my dear boy here. It's an old-fashioned notion, I dare say. He was always fond of the sea. He's'--and he looked wistfully at Walter--he's glad to go.'

`Uncle Sol!' cried Walter, quickly, `if you say that, I won't go. No, Captain Cuttle, I won't. If my uncle thinks I could be glad to leave him, though I was going to be made Governor of all the Islands in the West Indies, that's enough. I'm a fixture.'

`Wal'r, my lad,' said the Captain. `Steady! Sol Gills, take an observation of your nevy.'

Following with his eyes the majestic action of the Captain's hook, the old man looked at Walter.

`Here is a certain craft,' said the Captain, with a magnificent sense of the allegory into which he was soaring, `a-going to put out on a certain voyage. What name is wrote upon that craft indelibly? Is it The Gay? or,'said the Captain, raising his voice as much as to say, observe the point of this, `is it The Gills?'

`Ned,' said the old man, drawing Walter to his side, and taking his arm tenderly through his, `I know. I know. Of course I know that Wally considers me more than himself always. That's in my mind. When I say he is glad to go, I mean I hope he is. Eh? look you, Ned, and you too, Wally, my dear, this is new and unexpected to me; and I'm afraid my being behind the time, and poor, is at the bottom of it. Is it really good fortune for him, do you tell me, now?' said the old man, looking anxiously from one to the other. `Really and truly? Is it? I can reconcile myself to almost anything that advances Wally, but I won't have Wally putting himself at any disadvantage for me, or keeping anything from me. You, Ned Cuttle!' said the old man, fastening on the Captain, to the manifest confusion of that diplomatist; `are you dealing plainly by your old friend? Speak out, Ned Cuttle. Is there anything behind? Ought he to go? How do you know it first, and why?'

As it was a contest of affection and self-denial, Walter struck in with infinite effect, to the Captain's relief; and between them they tolerably reconciled old Sol Gills, by continued talking, to the project; or rather so confused him, that nothing, not even the pain of separation, was distinctly clear to his mind.

He had not much time to balance the matter; for on the very next day, Walter received from Mr. Carker the Manager, the necessary credentials for his passage and outfit, together with the information that the Son and Heir would said in a fortnight, or within a day or two afterwards at latest. In the hurry of preparation: which Walter purposely enhanced as much as possible: the old man lost what little self-possession he ever had; and so the time of departure drew on rapidly.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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