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Sir Brook Fossbrooke, Volume II.   By: (1806-1872)

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Volume II.

By Charles James Lever,

With Illustrations By E. J. Wheeler


Little, Brown, And Company.


[Illustration: frontispiece2]


The storm raged fearfully during the night, and the sea rose to a height that made many believe some earthquake had occurred in one of the islands near. Old trees that resisted the gales of former hurricanes were uprooted, and the swollen streams tore down amongst the fallen timber, adding to the clamor of the elements and increasing the signs of desolation and ruin that abounded.

It was, as Tom called it, a "regular Levanter," one of those storms which in a brief twenty four hours can do the work of years in destruction and change.

Amongst the group of fishermen who crouched under a rock on the shore, sad predictions were uttered as to the fate of such as were at sea that night, and the disasters of bygone years were recalled, and the story of a Russian liner that was lost off Spartivento, and the Spanish admiral who was wrecked on the rocks off Melissa, were told with all the details eyewitnesses could impart to them.

"Those fellows have driven me half distracted, Lucy," said Tom, as he came in wet and dripping, "with their tales of shipwreck; and one of them declares that he saw a large paddle wheel steamer under English colors drifting to the southward this morning, perfectly helpless and unmanageable. I wish I could get over to Cagliari, and hear tidings of her."

"Of course that is impossible," said she, with a shudder.

"So they tell me. They say there's not a boat in the island would live five minutes in that sea."

"And the gale seems increasing too."

"So it does. They say, just before the storm ends it blows its very hardest at the finish, and then stops as suddenly as it burst forth."

By noon the gale began to decline, the sun burst out, and the sea gradually subsided, and in a few hours the swollen torrents changed to tiny rivulets, clear as crystal. The birds were singing in the trees, and the whole landscape, like a newly washed picture, came out in fresher and brighter color than ever. Nor was it easy to believe that the late hurricane had ever existed, so little trace of it could be seen on that rocky island.

A little before sunset a small "latiner" rounded the point, and stood in towards the little bay. She had barely wind enough to carry her along, and was fully an hour in sight before she anchored. As it was evident she was a Cagliari boat, Tom was all impatient for her news, and went on board of her at once. The skipper handed him a letter from Sir Brook, saying, "I was to give you this, sir, and say I was at your orders." Tom broke the seal, but before he had read half a dozen lines, he cried out: "All right! shove me on shore, and come in to me in an hour. By that time I 'll tell you what I decide on."

"Here's great news, Lucy," cried he. "The 'Cadmus' troop ship has put into Cagliari disabled, foremast lost, one paddle wheel carried away, all the boats smashed, but her Majesty's th safe and sound. Colonel Cave very jolly, and Major Trafford, if you have heard of such a person, wild with joy at the disaster of being shipwrecked."

"Oh, Tom, do be serious. What is it at all?" said she, as, pale with anxiety, she caught his arm to steady herself.

"Here's the despatch, read it yourself if you won't believe me. This part here is all about the storm and the other wrecks; but here, this is the important part, in your eyes at least.

"'Cave is now with me up here, and Trafford is to join us to night. The ship cannot possibly be fit for sea before ten days to come; and the question is, Shall we go over and visit you, or will you and Lucy come here? One or other of these courses it must be, and it is for you to decide which suits you best. You know as well as myself what a sorry place this is to ask dear Lucy to come to, but, on the other hand, I know nothing as to the accommodation your cottage offers... Continue reading book >>

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