bless him!) is alive, and will return. I don't so much wonder at his going away, because, leaving out of consideration that spice of the marvellous which was always in his character, and his great affection for me, before which every other consideration of his life became nothing, as no one ought to know so well as I who had the best of fathers in him,'--Walter's voice was indistinct and husky here, and he looked away, along the street,--`leaving that out of consideration, I say, I have often read and heard of people who, having some near and dear relative, who was supposed to be shipwrecked at sea, have gone down to live on that part of the sea-shore where any tidings of the missing ship might be expected to arrive, though only an hour or two sooner than elsewhere, or have even gone upon her track to the place whither she was bound, as if their going would create intelligence. I think I should do such a thing myself, as soon as another, or sooner than many, perhaps. But why my uncle shouldn't write to you, when he so clearly intended to do so, or how he should die abroad, and you not know it through some other hand, I cannot make out.'

Captain Cuttle observed, with a shake of his head, that Jack Bunsby himself hadn't made it out, and that he was a man as could give a pretty taut opinion too.

`If my uncle had been a heedless young man, likely to be entrapped by jovial company to some drinking- place, where he was to be got rid of for the sake of what money he might have about him,' said Walter; `or if he had been a reckless sailor, going ashore with two or three months' pay in his pocket, I could understand his disappearing, and leaving no trace behind. But, being what he was--and is, I hope--I can't believe it.'

`Wal'r, my lad,' inquired the Captain wistfully eyeing him as he pondered and pondered, `What do you make of it, then?'

`Captain Cuttle,' returned Walter, `I don't know what to make of it. I suppose he never has written! There is no doubt about that?'

`If so be as Sol Gills wrote, my lad,' replied the Captain, argumentatively, `where's his dispatch?'

`Say that he intrusted it to some private hand,' suggested Walter, `and that it has been forgotten, or carelessly thrown aside, or lost. Even that is more probable to me, than the other event. In short, I not only cannot bear to contemplate that other event, Captain Cuttle, but I can't, and won't.'

`Hope, you see, Wal'r,' said the Captain, sagely, `Hope. It's that as animates you. Hope is a buoy, for which you overhaul your Little Warbler, sentimental diwision, but Lord, my lad, like any other buoy, it only floats; it can't be steered nowhere. Along with the figure-head of Hope,' said the Captain, `there's a anchor; but what's the good of my having a anchor, if I can't find no bottom to let it go in?'

Captain Cuttle said this rather in his character of a sagacious citizen and householder, bound to impart a morsel from his stores of wisdom, to an inexperienced youth, than in his own proper person. Indeed, his face was quite luminous as he spoke, with new hope, caught from Walter; and he appropriately concluded by slapping him on the back; and saying, with enthusiasm, `Hooroar, my lad! Indiwidually, I'm o' your opinion.'

Walter, with his cheerful laugh, returned the salutation, and said:

`Only one word more about my uncle at present, Captain Cuttle. I suppose it is impossible that he can have written in the ordinary course--by mail packet, or ship letter, you understand--'

`Aye, aye, my lad,' said the Captain approvingly.

`--And that you have missed the letter any how?'

`Why, Wal'r,' said the Captain, turning his eyes upon him with a faint approach to a severe expression, `an't I been on the look out for any tidings of that man o' science, old Sol Gills, your uncle, day and night,

  By PanEris using Melati.

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