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Our Passenger

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It was a lovely autumn aftcrnoon toward the close of September wlien we weighed anchor and sailed out of the river Mersey, bound for Melbourne. We had a good ship - Janet's Pride - loaded with miscellaneous articles. On board were fourtoeu passengers; and, take them all in all, a pleasanter lot I never steered across the stormy seas. There were three old gentlemen, who were going out to share their fortunes, come what might, and which, poor old souls, thoy seemed to think fashioned in the brightest colors, long bef ore the English coast was out of sight. Then there was a solitary old I man, who, jndging from the general tone of his conversation, was seeking the ïiew World for the ostensible purpose of finding fault with it. There were two young married couples, all full of hope and activity, bent upon making a níw home far away from their native land. There were also a very jolly elderly brother and sister, neither of whom had ever entered into the bonds of matrimony ; but, instead, had stuck by each other through life. There were three old Australian settlers, who had been over to have a peep at the old country, and who were now returning to the land which to them, through long communion, had become the dearestof all others - " Home, sweet home ! " Lastly, though not least, there was a solitary passenger, who soon became the pet of all on board. He was a man of about 28 years of age, possessing n very clear complexion, a very handsome, long-flowing beard, and a very silky mus tache. His name was Keginald Moore. His given reason for taking this soa voyage was the delicate state of his health. There was not the least doubt that the poor fellow's chest was considerably affected, for his voice, though charmingly sweet, was one of the weakest I ever remember hearing; and it had in my mind is invariably associated with that terrible disease commonly j termed consumption. He alwaya wore a thick muffler round his neok to protect bis throat and chest. In all my experienoe - and it bas been a pretty wide one - I never knew any one with so many friends, and sucb divided esteem, in so short a space of i time, as Reginald Moore. Tliere was not, I believe, a sailor on board who did not entertain the warmest possible liking for him. As for the passengers they never seemed so happy as wlien listening to his amusing aneedotes, of which he seemed to possess an inexhaustible store. And this delicate young j glish paragon of passengers bad made his conquest over all our hearts before we bad been three weeks at sea. He was, too, such a clever fellow with lis hands. He could cut and shape you i anything out of a piece of wood, from an oyster to an elephant, and at making models of sliips I never met his equal. I He was, besides, such a kind and considérate fellow toward his fellow-passengers. When the three eklerly gentlemen, j who imagined their fortunes made, were afflicted with sca-sickness, lie was the first to come forward and help them about while they slowly recovered. He would insist upon their taking his arm, weak as he was himself, and he would lead them about on deck with a firmness that spoke volumes in favor of his " sea legs." I do not rcmember any voyago ever passing so quickly as the one when tho pleasant passenger was on board. I could, with infinite pleasure, make a long pause at tliis juncturem thethread of my story, to dweil upon the pleasant memories I still retain of lleginald Moore. We were within a week's sail of Melbourne. Eeginald Moore bad all but completed a model of the Janet's Pride, which lie proposed presenting to me the night before we landed. Now ho worked at tliis model principally on deck, and, strangely enough, he had chosen for a work-table the top of one of the empty water-casks that stood on the deck, abaft, and under the shelter of the bulwarks. While he worked throngh the day you were sure to see him surrounded by some of the passengers or sailors. The amount of industry he displayed was truly wonderful, for he was invariably at work in the early morning, long before any of the other passengers dreamed of turning out of their snug berths. As I have already stated, we were but six days' sail from Melbourne. For the first time in our experience of him, the oleasant passenger appeared at the dmier-table with a solemn, downoast expression of tace and a silent tongue. Before dinner was over, I asked him ! wbat troubled liis mind, and caused this unhappy chango in his wonted cheerful manner. ij.t ñrst, he tried to evade my queries by replying that it was "nothing, nothing in particular ;" but I pressed him persistently until I won from him an explanation. "Perhaps, after all," he said, "it is only fair that I should explain matters. The fact of the matter is, my watch has been stolen." "Stolen!" we allexclaimed in abreath. "Undoubtedly," he answered, "but I pray you, Captain '" -here be turned to me - "I pray you say not one word about it. The only thinL that renders the loss of consequenco to me is the fact that it once belonged to my poor mother. On that account alone, I would not havo lost it for any amount of money. Howcver, it cannot be helped, and, therefore, it is useless to cry over spilt milk, as the oíd adago has it. My anly request in the matter is, my dear Captain, that you will leave the matter entirely in my hands, and I think it very probable that I may recover it. This request I am sure you will oblige me by granting." "Certainly, my dear sir," I replied; " but still- " " Exactly," he interrupted, with one of his pleasant smiles, " you would like to take the matter in hand and investígate it, to the utmost of your power. I know that, my dear Captain, f uil well, but I eau trust you to keep your promise, and leave the case entirely in my hands." How eould I denyhim his request? You will readily imagine what consternation this event gave rise to among the other passengers. The three old (mnHimnn i 1 1 sfnii t,l v nrofieerled to i _ ü II y t I t. _í I ■_ - - - m ■■ - (.ƒ J - - - ----- - - jiliii 11 that they possessed jewclry to the valué of at least L300, which they usually kept loeked up in a brownleather writing-case ; but, unfortunately, at the present time the lock was out of order. Mr. Eeginald Moore suggested a safer deposit for their valnables. The young inarried couples announced the fact of their owning at least L250 worth of jewelry; and they, too, oonsulted Mr. Moore as to the safest plan for secreting it. The kind-hearted brother and sister had, it appeared, more valuables in the way of jewelry than any one on board, since L1,500 hid never purchased what, they possessed. The whole of that evening was oceupied in speculating as to the probable perpetrator of the theft, and in condoling with Mr. lïeginald Moore on his great loss. Every ono turnod in that night in an uneasy state of mimi ; and it was with astonishment that they found themselves, in the morning, still in full possession of all their worldly goods. This improved condition of affairs seemed to reassure our passengers, who once again began to look eheerful and at ease. Reginald Moore s pleasant face wore itewonted sinile, and, as heretofore, he enlivened and charmed us with his vivaeity and anecdote. All day through, he worked at the model of the Janet's Pride, still using the top of the empty water-cask for a work-table. That nigut, we retired to rest with minds far more at ease than on the previeras one. Alas ! what a scène of anger and distress carne with the morning! Every passenger on board, posseswng jeweíry, liad been robbed during the night. The three old gentlemen, the young married couples, and the kind-hearted i brother and sister, found themselves i minn evory article of jowelry that they had possessed. Even the grumbling 1 old gentleman had lost his gold snuffI box. Therf was no keeping matters quiet this time. The thief must be traced ! and brought to justice. What was the ■ wisrst method of procedure? ' What I would Mr. Moore suggest? " I would suggest, though most reluctantly," said Mr. Moore, " that every sailor and every sailor's luggage be carefully searched." To this proposition we unanimously agreed. " This," he continuod, " must be most humiliating to the feelings of your crew, Captain, and therefore, in common fairness to them as our fellow-men, let me j also suggest that every passenger and every passcnger's luggage be also thorouglily searched." A little hesitation on the part of one or two of the passengers was demonstrated before aeceding to this last proposal, but our pleasant passenger soon contrived to bring those who at first demurred to his side of thinking. "Of course," he said, " there is not a passenger on board who is not above suspicion. yet, in justice to the feelings of the crew, it is, in niy humble opinión, the least we can do." This delicacy of feeling and this thoughtfuiness on the part of Keginald j Moore rendered him, if possible, more I admirable and praiseworthy in our eyes I than ever. Many of the crew objected strongly to this mode of procedure, but all were compelled to submit. The old boatswain was furiotis with indignation, and vowed that if it cost him his life he would trace the thief who had causecl hitn to be searched like a common pickpocket. Even the pleasant passenger failed to soothe his sense of injury. Well, a thorough search was made by myself, in company with the kindhearted old gentleman and his sister. Every one's " traps " were ransacked from top to bottom, but without success. Fnrther search was useless. What was tobe done? That night, all having been made snug, and tlie passengers having turned in, none of them, as you may imagine, in vcry brilliant spirits, I went on deck, it being what we cali at sea " the Captain's watch." I turned in about 1 a. m., the second officer then coming on duty. My cabin was amidships and on deck, and from a window therein I could command a view of the aftcr-deck of the ship. Somehow or other I could not rest one atom, so, dressing myself, I deterI mined uron sitting up and smoking. I drew aside ie blind of the window I , have mentionod, and looked out. It was just the gray light of early morninf?, and there was a stiffish breeze blowing. To my surprise I beheld Mr. Eeginald Moore on deck. I was abo ut to opeu my oabin door and invite him to jom me in my restlessness, when the peculiar nature of his proceedings riveted my attention. He íooked around on all sides, as if afraid of attracting observation. Then, suddenly, as if assured tlio coast was clear, he made rapidly toward the empty wator-oask, on whioh he was accustomed to manufacture his model of the Janet's Pride. Once more glancing cautiously about him, he then applied his hands to the top of the cask, and, with a rapid movement, lifted half of the top bodily off. My astonishment and my excitement were intense. Another hasty glance around, and he plunged his hand down into the cask, and quickly withdrew it, holding in his grasp i smal] bag, which he rapidly concealed in the breast oi his coat. Again he took a hasty survey, and was about making auother dive into this strange receptado for bidden goods, whfn he suddenly withdrew, haviug, with astonisliing rapidity, replaced the lid of the eask. In another moment the cause of his alarm was made npparent, as a couplo of sailors passed him on the way to relieve the man at the wheel. Whcn all was again quiet, for an instant he secnid determined to at once return to the cask, and no doubt withdraw something moro that the interruption liad prevented him from withdrawiig in the lirst instance. 15 ut, suddenly changing liis mind, he went down the stairs that led from the deck to the saloon .ind sleeping cabine. Scarcely had he disappeared when another figure, stealthily crossing the deck, met my anxious observation. It was the boatsw;: T saw him e-lance towards the stairs. down which Mr. Reginald Moore liad taken his departure. He then made direct for the water-cask. It was now obvious to me tbat the old boatswain had been watching the picasant passenger. Just as he reached tlie water-cask, a heavy greii sea struok the ship to windward, necessitating the boatswain to hold on by the ropes so as io keep his footing, and preciscly at the same moment Reginald Moore appeared at the top of the cabin stairs, I shall nevor forget the scène. The instant the ship had steadiod herself, the boatswain commenced his examination of the water-cask. For a momeut only, Mooro stood looking at him with as cvil an expression on his face as I ever beheld. With ono bound, he was npon the boatswain, before hc conld turn to protect himself. I waited no longer, but flung open the door of my cabin in an instant, and in another I was to the rescuc, and in a few moments we had our piensan t passenger in irons. So, yon seo, he was the tliief, af ter all, hiding his knavery undcr the pleasahtest exterior I ever knew a man possess. The marnier in which he had manufactured the top of that water-cask was the most finished and ingenious pieee of carpentry I have ever beheld. In the interior of the side of the cisk he had driven several nails, about two feet from the top, on which he had suspended, in wash-leather bags, the jewelry he had stolen. You may easily imagine the surprise evinced by our passengers on discovering that the thief was the man for whom each and every one of them entertained such regard and even affection. At the expiration of three days from the date of the pleasant passenger 's detection, we landed in Melbourne, where duty eompelled me to hand him over to the pólice ; but, as no one cared to remaininthat town for the pui pose of prosecutinghim, he was snnwnarily dealt with. The presiding magistrate


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