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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesDick Sands, The Boy Captain - Part The Second - Chapter 20. A Happy Reunion
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Dick Sands, The Boy Captain - Part The Second - Chapter 20. A Happy Reunion Post by :jsypolt Category :Long Stories Author :Jules Verne Date :May 2012 Read :2071

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Dick Sands, The Boy Captain - Part The Second - Chapter 20. A Happy Reunion

PART THE SECOND CHAPTER XX. A HAPPY REUNION

Two days after Dick’s marvellous deliverance the party had the good fortune to fall in with a caravan of honest Portuguese ivory-traders on their way to Emboma, at the mouth of the Congo. They rendered the fugitives every assistance, and thus enabled them to reach the coast without further discomfort.

This meeting with the caravan was a most fortunate occurrence, as any project of launching a raft upon the Zaire would have been quite impracticable, the river between the Ntemo and Yellala Falls being a continuous series of cataracts. Stanley counted as many as sixty-two, and it was hereabouts that that brave traveller sustained the last of thirty-one conflicts with the natives, escaping almost by a miracle from the Mbelo cataract.

Before the middle of August the party arrived at Emboma, where they were hospitably received by M. Motta Viega and Mr. Harrison. A steamer was just on the point of starting for the Isthmus of Panama; in this they took their passage, and in due time set foot once more upon American soil.

Forthwith a message was despatched to Mr. Weldon, apprising him of the return of the wife and child over whose loss he had mourned so long On the 25th the railroad deposited the travellers at San Francisco, the only thing to mar their happiness being the recollection that Tom and his partners were not with them to share their joy.

Mr. Weldon had every reason to congratulate himself that Negoro had failed to reach him. No doubt he would have been ready to sacrifice the bulk of his fortune, and without a moment’s hesitation would have set out for the coast of Africa, but who could question that he would there have been exposed to the vilest treachery? He felt that to Dick Sands and to Hercules he owed a debt of gratitude that it would be impossible to repay; Dick assumed more than ever the place of an adopted son, whilst the brave negro was regarded as a true and faithful friend.

Cousin Benedict, it must be owned, failed to share for long the general joy. After giving Mr. Weldon a hasty shake of the hand, he hurried off to his private room, and resumed his studies almost as if they had never been interrupted. He set himself vigorously to work with the design of producing an elaborate treatise upon the “Hexapodes Benedictus” hitherto unknown to entomological research. Here in his private chamber spectacles and magnifying-glass were ready for his use, and he was now able for the first time with the aid of proper appliances to examine the unique production of Central Africa.

A shriek of horror and disappointment escaped his lips. The Hexapodes Benedictus was not a hexapod at all. It was a common spider. Hercules, in catching it, had unfortunately broken off its two front legs, and Benedict, almost blind as he was, had failed to detect the accident. His chagrin was most pitiable, the wonderful discovery that was to have exalted his name high in the annals of science belonged simply to the common order of the arachnidæ The blow to his aspirations was very heavy; it brought on a fit of illness from which it took him some time to recover.

For the next three years Dick was entrusted with the education of little Jack during the intervals he could spare from the prosecution of his own studies, into which he threw himself with an energy quickened by a kind of remorse.

“If only I had known what a seaman ought to know when I was left to myself on board the ‘Pilgrim,’ ” he would continually say, “what misery and suffering we might have been spared!”

So diligently did he apply himself to the technical branches of his profession that at the age of eighteen he received a special certificate of honour, and was at once raised to the rank of a captain in Mr. Weldon’s firm.

Thus by his industry and good conduct did the poor foundling of Sandy Hook rise to a post of distinction. In spite of his youth, he commanded universal respect; his native modesty and straightforwardness never failed him, and for his own part, he seemed to be unconscious of those fine traits in his character which had impelled him to deeds that made him little short of a hero.

His leisure moments, however, were often troubled by one source of sadness; he could never forget the four negroes for whose misfortunes he held himself by his own inexperience to be in a way responsible. Mrs. Weldon thoroughly shared his regret, and would have made many sacrifices to discover what had become of them. This anxiety was at length relieved.

Owing to the large correspondence of Mr. Weldon in almost every quarter of the world, it was discovered that the whole of them had been sold in one lot, and that they were now in Madagascar. Without listening for a moment to Dick’s proposal to apply all his savings to effect their liberation, Mr. Weldon set his own agents to negotiate for their freedom, and on the 15th of November, 1877, Tom, Bat, Actæon, and Austin awaited their welcome at the merchant’s door. It is needless to say how warm were the greetings they received.

Out of all the survivors of the “Pilgrim” that had been cast upon the fatal coast of Africa, old Nan alone was wanting to complete the number. Considering what they had all undergone, and the perils to which they had been exposed, it seemed little short of a miracle that she and poor Dingo should be the only victims.

High was the festivity that night in the house of the Californian merchant, and the toast, proposed at Mrs. Weldon’s request, that was received with the loudest acclamation was

“DICK SANDS, THE BOY CAPTAIN!”


(THE END)
Jules Verne's Novel: Dick Sands the Boy Captain

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