The Voyage of the Aurora

The Voyage of the Aurora

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Publié le 08 décembre 2010
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The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Voyage of the Aurora, by Harry Collingwood This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.org Title: The Voyage of the Aurora Author: Harry Collingwood Release Date: January 27, 2009 [EBook #27906] Language: English Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1 *** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK THE VOYAGE OF THE AURORA *** Produced by Nick Hodson of London, England Harry Collingwood "The Voyage of the Aurora" Chapter One. Introduces Lucy Walford. Those who have ever had occasion to reside for any length of time in Gosport are sure to be more or less acquainted with the little village of Alverstoke; because it lies near at hand, and the road leading thereto forms one of the most pleasant walks in the neighbourhood. But it may be that there are those, into whose hands this book will fall, who have never so much as heard the name of the place. For their benefit, then, it may be worth while to state that Alverstoke is pleasantly situated at a distance of about one mile from the above-mentioned town of Gosport, and within half a mile of the waters of the Solent. It is a very unimportant little place at the present day: it was even more so in the year 17—, the year in which this veracious history opens. It was unimportant, that is to say, in a general sense; the public knew very little about it, and cared still less; but in a particular sense, and to the officers of His Majesty’s Customs, it was a very important place indeed, inasmuch as the inhabitants, animated by a spirit of enterprise and a love of adventure not to be satisfied by such very ordinary and humdrum pursuits as those of fishing and market-gardening, had, almost to a man—to say nothing of the women and children—added thereto the illegal but lucrative and exciting occupation of smuggling; to the great loss and damage of the king’s revenues. The village consisted, at that time, of a single short, narrow street with a bend in the middle of it. Nearly one half of the north side of this street was occupied by the churchyard and church; the remaining portion, as well as the opposite side of the way, being composed of small low, twostory cottages with thatched roofs (and most of them having little projecting dormer-windows), a story cottages with thatched roofs (and most of them having little projecting dormer-windows), a couple of public-houses, and a small grocery establishment. This constituted the village proper; but a little aloof from it—being in it but not of it, as it were —there were in all perhaps half a dozen residences of a somewhat more pretentious kind. There was the rectory, for instance, on the opposite side of the road, eastward of the church, built in the very centre of its extensive garden, and snugly surrounded on all sides by high stone walls. Then there was Stoke House, near the rectory, standing well back from the road, embowered in trees, and with a carriage-drive running straight up through its beautiful rose-garden to the front door. Nearer the beach, and on the opposite side of the valley, was “Verbena Cottage,” the abode of Lieutenant Bobus, in command of the coast-guard; and still nearer the beach, some ten or a dozen yards back from the road, enclosed within a neat paling, sheltered by lofty trees, with a lovely flower-garden in front and an extensive fruit and kitchen-garden in the rear, stood “Sea View,” a small but well-built house, in which resided the relict and daughter of the late “Cap’n” Walford. The late “Cap’n” Walford had been a wonderfully popular man in his day; and his memory was greatly esteemed and revered by the villagers. Manifesting, at an early age, a love of enterprise and excitement quite extraordinary even in an Alverstoke man, he had seized the first opportunity which offered to become the owner of a very fine fast-sailing lugger, in which, during his thirty years of devotion to maritime pursuits, he, by a rare combination of prudence and audacity, gradually acquired the reputation of being a most successful smuggler—and the snug little fortune of some ten thousand pounds. The latter and more desirable portion of his acquirements he carefully invested, as it dribbled in bit by bit, in house-property in the neighbourhood; so that, when this estimable man’s career was cut short at the comparatively early age of sixty years, by an unlucky cannon-shot fired from a revenue cutter, his disconsolate relict found herself the possessor of a comfortable income amounting to some five hundred pounds per annum, together with “Sea View” and—last, but by no means least—a daughter, fourteen years of age. This melancholy event occurred four years before the date at which this history opens; Lucy Walford was therefore about eighteen years old when the first of that train of events happened which it is herein proposed to record. Mrs Walford was wont to assert, just about this time, that Lucy was the very living picture of what she herself used to be when a girl. If this was indeed true, it was at once an evidence of that remarkable good taste which the late “cap’n” was said to have possessed, and of the extraordinary changes effected by the hand of Time, for no one could ever have suspected such a resemblance without Mrs Walford’s assurance. The old lady was a sad and subdued personage, thin and angular of figure and face, with prominent cheek-bones, eye-brows, and chin, dark eyes, deeply sunk in their sockets, a broad forehead, ploughed with innumerable wrinkles, a long sharp aquiline nose, a large thin-lipped mouth, and a querulous temper. Lucy, on the other hand, was of medium height, slight, graceful figure, abounding in delicate curves, with small hands and feet, an exquisite complexion, a face, the sweet piquant loveliness of which set all the youth of Alverstoke—and Gosport too, for that matter—by the ears, a wealth of long silky golden hair, which persisted in twisting itself into a most distracting conglomeration of wavy curls, and a temper which nothing—not even her mother’s querulousness—could ruffle. That Lucy should be fairly beset by suitors was only natural. There was not a single bold young smuggler of marriageable age in all the country round about who did not cherish in a greater or lesser degree the fond hope of one day