“Who are you, sir,” she asked, “that you are so kind as to busy yourself so particularly on my account?”

“You must see, madame, by my uniform, that I am an officer in the English navy,” replied the young man.

“But is it the custom for officers in the English navy to give their services to their female compatriots who land at a port of Great Britain, and to carry their gallantry so far as to bring them ashore?”

“Yes, madame, it is our custom, not from gallantry, but prudence, in time of war, to bring foreigners to certain hotels, in order that they may be under the eye of the government until full information can be obtained about them.”

These words were spoken with the most exact politeness and the most perfect calmness. Nevertheless, they had not the power of convincing milady.

“But I am not a foreigner, sir,” said she, with an accent as pure as ever was heard between Portsmouth and Manchester; “my name is Lady Clarick, and this measure—”

“This measure is general, madame, and you would not succeed in escaping from it.”

“I will follow you, then, sir.”

And accepting the officer’s hand, she began to climb down the ladder, at the foot of which the gig was awaiting her. The officer followed her. A large cloak was spread in the stern. The officer had her sit down on the cloak, and placed himself beside her.

“Give way!” said he to the sailors.

The eight oars fell at once into the sea, making but a single sound, giving a single stroke, and the gig seemed to fly over the surface of the water.

At the end of five minutes they reached shore.

The officer sprang on the quay and offered milady his hand.

A carriage was in waiting.

“Is this carriage for us?” asked milady.

“Yes, madame,” replied the officer.

“So the hotel is at some distance?”

“At the other end of the town.”

“Very well,” said milady; and she got resolutely into the carriage.

The officer saw that the baggage was fastened carefully behind the carriage; and when this operation was over, he took his place beside milady, and shut the door.

Instantly, without any order being given, or place of destination indicated, the coachman set off at a gallop, and plunged into the streets of the town.

Such a strange reception naturally gave milady ample matter for reflection; so, seeing that the young officer did not seem at all disposed to talk, she reclined in her corner of the carriage, and passed in review all the suppositions which presented themselves, one after the other, to her mind.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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