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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThe Loss Of The Royal George - Chapter 9
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The Loss Of The Royal George - Chapter 9 Post by :erika1959 Category :Long Stories Author :William H. G. Kingston Date :May 2012 Read :477

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The Loss Of The Royal George - Chapter 9

CHAPTER NINE

I had been some time at home, and had pretty nearly recovered from my wounds. Susan frequently went up to see Jane; and the ladies treated her, notwithstanding what had occurred, as kindly as ever; but the captain ceased to inquire after me, and he evidently had not got over his annoyance, and still believed that Susan and I, if we had not encouraged Harry, might have at all events prevented him from falling in love with Miss Fanny. The poor young lady had not recovered her spirits; and Susan said she was afraid that if anything should happen to Harry it would bring her to her grave. This of course made us more than ever anxious to hear again from Jerry. At last one day the postman brought a letter to our door and demanded three shillings for it, which I willingly paid, for I saw at a glance that it was from my old shipmate. I have it still by me; here it is:--

"Dear old Ship--

"What I told you in my last has prepared you for the news I have now to give. I thought over what Mr Pengelley had told me, and could not help hoping that we should at last find out all about Harry Saint George.

"The very first time that I saw Mrs Stafford (though I did not know her name then) she told me that her husband had been an officer on board the _Royal George_, and that he was lost when the ship went down; but she said nothing more at that time. When, however, I heard that she had had a little boy who had disappeared with her young sister-in-law, I at once jumped to the conclusion that the young lady who had come to your house was Miss Stafford, and that the little boy was her nephew. It struck me that nothing was more likely than that Miss Stafford should have set off to see her brother, and consult with him what was best to be done for the safety of his son; but, as you know, it's a very different matter to guess a thing and to prove it. Still I am almost as certain as I am of my own existence, that the little boy you saved from the wreck was Harry Stafford's son; but my thinking so won't get him his rights. Biddulph Stafford and I were young men together before I went off to sea, and many a wild prank we played; some of them such as I don't like to think about. There was an act of his, indeed, which, if known, would bring him under the power of the law; and I feel sure that if I were to introduce myself to him, and let him know that I was acquainted with it, and could bring witnesses to prove his guilt, long ago as it happened, I might gain an influence over him, which I might exercise for Harry's benefit. Sir Mostyn Stafford, you will understand, is still alive, and all Biddulph's scheming and plotting has hitherto gained him no advantage. My first idea was to go and give him his choice, either to acknowledge Harry, or to take the consequences of having his crime made known; he might, however, set me at defiance. The difficulty would be to prove that the young lady you saw was Miss Stafford, and then that the child saved from the wreck was the same little boy she had brought with her. The first thing to be done, as it seemed to me, was to learn from Mrs Stafford if she knew how her little boy was likely to have been dressed; and if she described him as you had seen him, it would settle the matter in our minds, and we might possibly get Mr Pengelley, or some other lawyer, to take up the case, and try to gain his rights for your young Harry. As soon as this idea occurred to me, I went back to Mr Pengelley; he thought that I might be right, but told me to wait till he had obtained some more certain information as to how the Stafford estates were settled. This took up some time, for lawyers seem to me to have a peculiarly slow way of setting about a business; probably they find from experience that 'Slow and steady wins the race.' At last he sent for me, and told me that I might go off and see Mrs Stafford, and gain all I could from her. I of course lost not a moment. She recognised me at once, though she was naturally surprised to find how I was changed. I introduced the subject cautiously. I then asked her if she thought it possible that her son was still alive? She said that sometimes she had hopes, but then she could not understand how it was that her sister-in-law had never written to her. At last I asked her if she could describe what her son was like? 'Yes,' she said, 'for I have his portrait, which Emily sent me a few days only before her mother's death.' 'Will you allow me to see it?' I asked; and going to her room she returned with a small well-done drawing of a little boy, exactly like what Harry might have been, and dressed as you described him, in a sailor's jacket and trousers and round hat.

"'You see him in a dress I made for him myself, and sent only a short time before. I also made a copy of it, which I forwarded to my poor husband on board the _Royal George_.'

"'Did it ever occur to you, ma'am,' I asked, 'that your sister may have gone to see her brother on board the _Royal George_, and taken the little boy with her?'

"'Yes, indeed,' she answered, 'I thought that possible; but when I heard that all the women and children on board had perished, I knew that if such were the case, both Emily and my child must have been lost also.'

"'Did you ever hear, ma'am, that a little boy was saved from the wreck?' I said.

"'No,' she answered. 'Mr Biddulph Stafford, who kindly came here at the time, and told me all about it, did not mention that any child was saved; but oh! say, was such really the case? Could my boy have been on board and escaped the fate which overtook his father?'

"I thought it time to describe to the poor mother how a young lady came with a little boy, exactly like the picture she had just shown me, to your cottage, and how you had saved the same child after the ship had gone down, and that the same boy was now an officer in the navy.

"'Oh, merciful Providence, he must be my own boy! I should know him even now, he cannot be so changed,' she exclaimed.

"I told her, though I did not wish to raise her hopes to disappoint them, that I felt sure she was right. But then I suggested that though she might be confident that Harry Saint George was her son, it might be very difficult to prove it so as to enable him to obtain his rights.

"'If we could prove that Miss Stafford went to Ryde with her nephew, it would greatly assist the case,' I observed.

"'I will look over all her letters to me, and see if she ever mentioned that she thought of so doing,' she said. 'I have some also which my husband wrote to her during their mother's illness, and he may possibly have expressed a wish to see her and our boy. But surely, even should I not discover anything of the sort, Sir Mostyn Stafford will be convinced that my son is his nephew, and would not refuse to acknowledge him.'

"About that, I said, I could not be sure; but I advised her not on any account to let Mr Biddulph Stafford know that she had gained tidings of her son, lest he might influence Sir Mostyn. I told her that I was sure my brother-in-law, Mr Pengelley, would, with the evidence she was able to bring forward, undertake her case; and I offered, should Harry Saint George be in England, to go to Ryde and bring him back with me.

"'I am indeed most grateful,' she answered. 'I must not leave my poor father, or I would go myself to see my son, for that he is my boy I have not a doubt on my mind.'

"Just as I was about to leave the room, my eye fell on a small portrait of a lady hanging against the wall, and it occurred to me that it might be that of Miss Stafford. I asked the question. Mrs Stafford said it was; and I proposed taking it with me to know whether you and your wife could recognise it, and perhaps others might be found who may have seen her on board the _Royal George to do so likewise.

"She at once took down the portrait, which with that of her son she carefully packed up and entrusted to my care. After again cautioning her against Mr Biddulph Stafford, I wished her good-bye, and returned with the information I had gained to my worthy brother-in-law, who, on hearing it, said that he was convinced in his own mind that Harry Saint George was the son of Henry Stafford, and that he would undertake his case, though he advised me to caution you and him not to be too sanguine about gaining it; at the same time you might be sure that Mrs Stafford would acknowledge him, and that he would thus, which he would probably value more than fortune, be able in the eyes of his friends to establish his right to bear his father's name.

"Mr Pengelley hopes that you will on no account let anyone learn the history I have now given you till everything is prepared. Should Biddulph Stafford bear that young Harry is discovered, he will stir heaven and earth to prevent him from establishing his rights. I might, as I before said, by threatening to expose the crime of his early days, gain a power over him; but as it occurred so long ago, he might feel himself safe and set me at defiance. At all events be cautious, and let no one but Harry and your wife, who, from what I saw of her, is, I should judge, a discreet woman, know anything of the matter."

This letter, as may be supposed, threw Susan and me into a great state of agitation. We could talk of nothing else, and kept looking out every moment for Jerry's arrival; we could not help grieving that Harry was not at home, for we could take no steps without him. We were sorry, too, that we could not consult with Captain Leslie, as Jerry had forbidden us to speak to anyone on the subject. He, I was sure, could be trusted, though he had been so much offended with Harry for venturing to look up to Miss Fanny; but the state of the case was now greatly altered; and should Harry be able to prove that he was heir to Sir Mostyn Stafford, instead of being without name or family, I knew of course that the captain would no longer think of forbidding him to marry his daughter.

I had one day walked down to the beach, when a wherry from Portsmouth came to an anchor, and soon after a boat reached the shore with several people in her. Among them was a one-legged man, with white hair, who looked to my eyes like an old post-captain or admiral. I went up to him, at first with some doubt in my mind, but soon saw that it was no other than my old shipmate Jerry.

He put out his hand and shook mine cordially, saying as he did so, "You are less changed than I am, Ben, but years make a difference in a man. Stay, I must not lose sight of my valise. Once upon a time I should have made nothing of carrying it myself, but I am not as strong on my pins as I used to be. Can you get someone to take it up to your house? We will keep him in sight, however; because, as you may guess, I should not like to lose it."

I said that I would carry it myself, and, taking it out of the boat, shouldered it and walked up alongside Jerry, who stumped along with much less briskness than formerly; indeed I saw that he was greatly aged since we last met. On reaching home, after Susan had welcomed him, he caught her eye turned towards the valise.

"You are anxious to see the portraits I wrote about," he observed, getting up and opening it. The first he took out was that of the little boy.

"That's like him all over," exclaimed Susan. "I should have known it even if I had not expected to see it; and it's just the same as the one I have upstairs, though that is terribly faded."

"Please get it, Mrs Truscott, and we will compare the two," said Jerry. She quickly brought the little picture we had so carefully preserved; though the colours were almost gone, the lines were sufficiently clear to remove any manner of doubt in our minds that the one was a copy of the other.

"And now, what do you think of this?" producing a portrait of Miss Stafford.

"The very young lady who came to our house," exclaimed Susan. "Owing to the sad circumstances of her death, her features are more impressed on my mind than those of anyone I ever met, and I am sure those who know Harry would say that he is wonderfully like her."

I agreed with my wife, and Jerry said that he thought so likewise from what he recollected of him; indeed we had not a shadow of doubt on our minds that our dear Harry was the son of Henry Stafford.

"Oh, how I wish he was at home!" cried Susan; "he cannot fail to gain his rights; and then he might marry dear Miss Fanny and be so happy. Ben, I must go and tell her what we have found out about his family, and that she may be sure all will come right. It will do her all the good in the world, for she has been very sadly since her father forbid Harry to come to the house and got him sent off to sea; sometimes I have thought that the poor dear would break her heart."

I asked Jerry what he thought.

"There might be no harm in letting Miss Fanny know, but it must depend upon whether she has got discretion or not," said Jerry. "If she is a wise girl she will hold her tongue, and I daresay it will make her happier to hear what you wish to tell her."

Susan at length gained her way, and, promising duly to caution Miss Fanny to be prudent, set off.

Jerry and I sat talking over matters till Susan came back.

"I am thankful I went," she said. "I found Miss Fanny very ill, and I have hopes that the news I gave her will restore her to health faster than any doctor's stuff."

I told Jerry how I had hunted for the young lady's luggage, and had been unable to find it, though she had told me the name of the inn where she had left it; and I was sure she would not have spoken falsely.

"Is the landlord still alive?" asked Jerry.

"Yes; though well in years," I answered.

"Well, then, we will go along together, and see if we can make anything out of him," said Jerry; and off we set. We went into the bar-room. Fortunately no one was there, so we asked the landlord to come in and have a quiet glass with a couple of old salts. He, nothing loath, came at once, for he had been a sailor himself. I never saw anybody like Jerry for leading on to a point he wanted to reach; he soon got talking about the _Royal George_, then he asked the landlord if he remembered the name of the young lady who came to his house the day before the wreck with a little boy.

"No," said the landlord, "I don't remember her name, though I do her and the little boy."

"Then you heard it?" said Jerry.

"Can't say but what I did," answered the landlord.

"Then can you tell me what the gentleman did with her luggage?" he asked, looking the landlord full in the face. "Come, you know he bribed you to stow it away, and say nothing about it if questions were asked."

I never saw anybody look so astonished as the landlord did when Jerry said this.

"How should you know anything about it?" he asked.

"I know a good many things," answered Jerry, with a knowing look. "Come, mate, tell us what Mr Biddulph Stafford paid you for stowing the things away, and I will promise that it shall be doubled if you can find them."

I did not know at the time that this was all a guess of Jerry's, but he had hit the right nail on the head.

"Is it a bargain?" asked the landlord. "I suppose that Mr Biddulph can't do me any harm?"

"It's a bargain, and I will see that you are not the sufferer," said Jerry. "Come, what did he give you?"

"Ten pounds," answered the landlord.

"You shall have twenty; and that you may be sure of it, I will write out the promise to pay you."

The landlord, thus taken by surprise, agreed; and Jerry, who followed the wise plan of "striking while the iron is hot," made him then and there bring pen and paper, when he wrote out an order on his brother-in-law for twenty pounds. The landlord then begged that we would come upstairs, and, going through a trapdoor in the roof, he let down two small trunks, such as ladies might use for travelling. They were both locked.

"There they are," said the landlord; "and the sooner you take them the better. They have made me uncomfortable ever since they have been in the house; I didn't like to destroy them, and I didn't know where to put them. As it is so long since Mr Biddulph Stafford came here, I don't suppose that he will trouble me again about them."

We waited till dark, and the landlord then getting us a boy to carry one of the trunks, I shouldered the other, and we set off back to my house.

Though Susan was naturally curious to see their contents, we agreed that we would not open them ourselves, but wait till Mrs Stafford could do so, as she was more likely than anyone else to recognise their contents. We then talked over what was best to be done. I was for telling Captain Leslie, for I was sure that he had still as kind a feeling towards Harry as ever, and that he had acted as he had done to prevent him and his daughter from making what he considered an imprudent match. Jerry at last came to agree with me, and he consented to write to Mr Pengelley and ask his advice. Mr Pengelley thought as I did, that as an old friend of Harry's the captain might be trusted; indeed, without his assistance it would have been difficult to get Harry sent home. I lost no time in hastening up to the captain, and told him everything; he was, as I expected he would be, highly delighted.

"He is a noble young fellow, and I all along thought he was of gentle birth, though he might not have a right to his father's name," he exclaimed. "We will get him home without delay, for of course nothing can be done till he arrives."

He promised to be cautious, so that Mr Biddulph Stafford should not get an inkling of what we were about.

"I will accompany him myself and give him all the support in my power, as the whole matter is as clear to me as noonday, and, whether his uncle acknowledges him or not, he must win his case."

I told him that Jerry hoped he would not say anything to the rest of his family.

"I will be discreet," he answered, "depend upon that."

I had a strong suspicion that the ladies soon knew all about it, though for my part I was sure they would act wisely.

Jerry received a letter from Mr Pengelley, saying that he wished to see him, and to bring the information he had gained. Bidding us, therefore, good-bye, he set off to return home, taking the portraits of the young lady and Harry with him.

After this there seemed nothing to be done but to wait till Harry's return; Captain Leslie had written to request that he might be allowed to come home on urgent family affairs, and there was no doubt but that he would obtain leave to do so, and he would of course guess the object.

I spent a good part of each day with spyglass in hand, looking out for fresh arrivals at Spithead. When either Susan or I went up to the captain's, we were sure to find Miss Fanny at the telescope, which stood on a stand in the bay window of the drawing-room, turned in the same direction. At last one day I saw two frigates coming in round Saint Helen's; the leading one had her fore-topmast shot away and her sails and rigging much cut up; the second, which had the English colours flying over the French, was in a far worse condition, her mainmast and mizzen-topmast were gone, and her hull was severely battered. She was evidently a prize to the first.

"I can't help hoping that yonder frigate is the _Vestal_; it's hard to say positively, but she is, as far as I can judge from this distance, wonderfully like her," I exclaimed to Susan. I hurried down to the "hard," and, engaging a boat, put off and got alongside before any of the Portsmouth boats. I soon found that I was right. The first person I saw on stepping on deck was Harry himself; he hurried forward to shake me by the hand.

"Father," he said, "we have had a glorious fight, and the captain has been good enough to speak highly of me; after an hour's fighting, broadside to broadside, we got foul of the enemy, and I had the honour of leading the boarders."

I asked him if he had received Captain Leslie's letter; he had not.

"I am then the first to bring you the good news," I said; and I told him in as few words as I could how Jerry had discovered who his parents were, and that he might before long see one of them. He was naturally eager to go on shore at once, but he could not desert his duty; so, sending the boat back with a message to Susan, I remained on board till the frigate with her prize went into harbour. Reginald was as much rejoiced at his friend's prospects as Harry was himself. As soon as they could get leave they accompanied me over to Ryde.

We landed at the very spot where, about twenty years before, I had stepped on shore with Harry in my arms, all wet and draggled, followed by the sheep which had saved his life. And now he stood by my side, a fine, well-dressed young man, with the thorough cut of a naval officer. He had had time to get rigged out in a new uniform, and looked handsomer, I thought, than ever. Somebody else would think so, too, I had a notion.

We hurried up to our cottage, where Susan was on the look-out for him. He took her in his arms and kissed her, just as he would have done before he went to sea.

"Mother," he said, "you are looking well, and thankful I am to come back to you."

"You've another mother now, Harry," she said, gazing in his face, and the tears fell from her eyes.

"I shall not love you the less," he answered, "though I had a dozen mothers."

"There are more than her to share your love, Harry," she replied.

"Well, mother," he said, smiling, "I hope my heart is large enough for all."

"That it is, I am sure, Harry," she answered; "and I'll not grudge what you give to others."

Reginald had stayed outside the garden; when I looked out, I found that he had gone off home. Harry cast a wistful glance in the same direction; still he did not like to leave Susan in a hurry. She guessed what was passing in his mind.

"I mustn't be keeping you here, Harry," she said, "so do you go after Mr Reginald. Miss Fanny will be looking for you, and she won't thank me if I keep you here. Now go, Harry, and bless you--bless you; my heart's very happy at seeing you back, for I'm sure that all will turn out as we wish it at last. You've had a sore trial, but you acted rightly."

Harry, having given Susan another embrace and shaken me warmly by the hand, bounded away after Reginald. I didn't offer to accompany him, for, in truth, I could not have moved as fast as he did; but I followed at my leisure, as the captain had told Susan he wanted to see me as soon as I came on shore. As I got near the house, I caught sight of Harry and Miss Fanny in the shrubbery, and from what I saw he had no reason to doubt that she loved him as much as ever; and I am sure that she would not have met him as she did, unless she had had the captain's leave to receive him as her intended husband. Mr Reginald reached the house, and got through the greetings with the captain and his mother, and other sisters. A very happy party they looked, for he had a good account to give of himself, though maybe he hadn't quite as much to boast of as had Harry. From the way Harry was received when he at last made his appearance with Miss Fanny by his side, I felt sure that all was right.

I had afterwards a long talk with the captain. He told me that he was ready for a start as soon as Harry was at liberty. There was no time to be lost, for we could not tell what tricks Mr Biddulph Stafford might be playing in the meantime. As far as we knew, he had as yet no inkling of what had occurred; but he was deep and cunning, according to Jerry's account, and would move heaven and earth, if his suspicions were aroused, to defeat our object. Some days, however, must pass before we could begin our journey, as Harry could not quit his ship till she was paid off. It was a question with us whether Mr Biddulph Stafford knew that his nephew had been saved when the ship went down, or had found out the name we had given him; if he did, he would soon learn that he had come home again, and might possibly be on the look-out for him, thinking, of course, that Harry was still ignorant of who he really was. This idea came into the captain's head. He said that he thought it would be well to tell Harry, that he might be on his guard against any treacherous trick his uncle might endeavour to play him. I had not many fears on the subject; still I agreed that it would be better to be on the safe side.

Harry and Reginald spent that night on shore, and the next day returned to Portsmouth. It was on the evening of that day, as I happened to be passing the inn where Miss Stafford had left her boxes, when I caught sight of a strange gentleman coming along the road, and looking about him as if in search of some house or other. As I passed close to him I looked in his face, and could not help fancying that he was very like Harry, only much older, with a very different expression of countenance. After I had passed him I turned round, when I saw him looking up at the sign of the inn, and then go without further hesitation up to the door. I walked on some little way, and stood watching the inn till he came out again. As I again passed him I felt sure that he was no other than Mr Biddulph Stafford, from the dark and troubled look I saw on his countenance. He then went on into the town. As the wind was from the north-east, and the tide was ebbing, I knew that no wherry was likely to put off for some time to come, and that I should be able to fall in with him again before he left the island. I accordingly entered the inn to learn what I could from the landlord. He presently, taking me into his private room, confessed that the stranger was no other than the man I suspected. He had at once made himself known, and asked what had become of the young lady's trunks, and seemed anxious to have them. The landlord at once told him that he could not give them, seeing that they were no longer in his possession, and that, for what he knew to the contrary, they had long since been destroyed. At last, when he pressed him, he told him that he had given them to two sailors to carry off into the middle of the Channel and sink them, thinking that was the best way of disposing of them. This seemed to satisfy him, and giving the landlord a guinea, and telling him not to say anything about the matter, he went off.

"That was not the truth, my friend," I observed.

"It was partly true," answered the landlord, "for you and the old gentleman who came with you were seamen--I could swear to that; and how should I know that you didn't sink them away there 'twixt this and Portsmouth?"

I had no time to argue, the point with the landlord, though of course he was wrong, as I had to look after Mr Biddulph Stafford. I found him on the shore, trying to engage a wherry to carry him across to Portsmouth; but none of the men would go, as it was blowing harder than ever, with a nasty sea running. At last I heard him offer five guineas to anyone who would cross. I knew by this that he must be in a desperate hurry.

"If you'll wait half an hour, sir, I'll do it," said the owner of a large wherry, coming up to him; "we shall get across just as soon as we should if we were to start now."

To this Mr Biddulph Stafford agreed, and I saw him go into an inn near the beach, to get some refreshment I suppose, telling the man to call him when he was ready. I now knew that I should have no difficulty in ascertaining whether he had really gone, so I hastened back to the captain, to tell him what I had discovered. He immediately wrote to Harry, to tell him to get ready for a start, and to meet himself and me at "The George," where we would call for him next morning, if we could get across, on our way to Mr Pengelley's; adding, that the sooner we could get him recognised by his mother and uncle the better, lest Mr Biddulph Stafford should be taking steps to defeat us. The letter was sent off by the mail-packet that night.

The captain agreed that it would be better that Susan should accompany us, as her evidence was sure to be wanted; so, calling at our cottage on my way back to the shore, I told her to pack up her traps and get a woman to take care of the house during her absence. Though she didn't like leaving home, she was willing to do anything for Harry's good, and promised to be ready in time.

On returning to the beach I found that Mr Biddulph Stafford had just put off from the shore, but, with the wetting and tossing he would get, I felt pretty sure he wouldn't be ready to start till the next morning, if even then.

I daresay Miss Fanny would rather have had Harry come back at once to Ryde, but she was too wise to say anything about the matter. The next morning was fine, and the captain, Susan, and I crossed to Portsmouth, taking with us Miss Stafford's trunks, which I had had done up in canvas, and painted in such a way that even should Mr Biddulph Stafford get sight of them they might not be recognised by him. We found Harry waiting for us at "The George." The ship had been paid off the previous day, and he and Reginald were now free. The latter went back to Ryde "to console Miss Fanny," as he said.

On making inquiries I found that Mr Biddulph Stafford was sleeping at the hotel, and had not yet come out of his room, which convinced me that he had been knocked up the previous day by sea-sickness, and also that he did not know that we were trying to get ahead of him. The postchaise being ordered, we at once started, and, travelling as fast as the horses could get along, without any accident reached Mr Pengelley's. Harry was of course very anxious to see his mother; and accordingly, leaving Captain Leslie with Mr Pengelley, he and Jerry, with Susan and I, set off for the old house where she and her father lived. Mr Pengelley, Jerry told us, had already somewhat prepared her for the recovery of her son.

As we approached the house we saw in the garden a fair lady dressed in black, who, though thin and careworn, was still very handsome, attending to an old gentleman seated under a tree in an arm-chair. I guessed at once she must be Mrs Stafford. Harry, who had been on the box, got down, while Jerry stumped forward, as fast as his wooden leg would let him, to announce us. He had scarcely begun to speak when, the lady, fixing her eyes on Harry, rushed forward.

"You are indeed my son!" she exclaimed, as Harry supported her in his arms--for, as may be supposed, she was well-nigh overcome with agitation. However, it is more than I can do to describe, all the particulars of the meeting. Harry was also not a little agitated, but, after some time, both he and Mrs Stafford became calm, and she then led him forward towards the old gentleman in the chair, who was, as I of course knew, her father, Mr Hayward. He glanced up at Harry, with a look of astonishment in his countenance.

"Why," he said, "I thought he had been drowned long, long ago!"

It was evident that he took Harry for his father. It satisfied me that Harry must be very like him. That he was so was further proved when Mrs Stafford produced a miniature of her husband, which might have been that of Harry--though, according to Susan's notion, it was not so handsome. In the trunks, which Mrs Stafford opened in our presence, she recognised, with many a sigh, various articles, and among them another miniature was discovered still more resembling Harry. When Mrs Stafford heard who Susan was, she embraced her as if she were her sister, and the tears fell down from her eyes as she thanked her over and over again for her loving treatment of Harry.

We left Harry with his mother, and returned to the house of Mr Pengelley, who, with Captain Leslie, had been busy in collecting such other evidence as was thought necessary. The next day Mr Pengelley went for Harry, and took him and his mother to see Sir Mostyn Stafford, whose intellects, though he was an old man, were still perfectly clear. On Harry being introduced to him, after regarding him fixedly for a few minutes he exclaimed, "There stands my nephew; had I not been told that he was Henry's son, I should have known him instantly."

Mr Pengelley asked if he was ready to acknowledge him; he replied that he should certainly do so. It appeared that he had been for some time suspicious of Mr Biddulph Stafford, and was very glad to find an heir who was likely to do more credit than that person to his name and title.

I have already spun my yarn to a greater length than I intended. I know nothing of the law, and therefore cannot describe the legal proceedings which took place; but all I know is, that the evidence we brought forward was so overwhelming that Mr Biddulph Stafford was defeated, and that Harry fully established his claim as heir to Sir Mostyn Stafford.

As may be supposed, Captain Leslie no longer objecting, Harry shortly afterwards married Miss Fanny. A few weeks more passed, when, old Mr Hayward dying, Mrs Stafford came to live with her son, who, before a year was over, by the death of his uncle, succeeded to the estate and title. No one was more pleased than Jerry with the result of his exertions. It seemed as if his last task had been accomplished; he was suddenly taken ill, and, though he lingered for some weeks, he gradually sank. Whatever the sins and failings of his youth, he had sincerely mourned for them, and now, enjoying the strong hope of a true Christian, he died. Harry and I followed the old man to his grave; Susan, who had been summoned to give evidence at the trial, returned with me after some time to Ryde, where we have since lived on, having seen another long war brought to a glorious conclusion.

One of my chief amusements is to describe to the members of another generation the battles I have seen fought, the adventures I have gone through, and, what I find interests them more than anything else, to repeat the account I have given in this book of "The Loss of the _Royal George_."


(THE END)
William H. G. Kingston's Book: Loss of the Royal George

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CHAPTER EIGHT I should spin far too long a yarn were I to describe the various actions in which we were engaged, or even mention the different ships to which we belonged. Both Harry and Reginald Leslie had now passed for lieutenants--indeed they had been for some time doing duty as such. Of course they could have done very well without me, but hitherto, thanks to Captain Leslie, we had always been appointed to the same ship. The last time we were at home, Harry had become a greater favourite than ever with the captain's family. Of course
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