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A short story by Louis Becke

The East Indian Cousin

Title:     The East Indian Cousin
Author: Louis Becke [More Titles by Becke]

Nearly eighty years ago, when the news of Napoleon's downfall at Waterloo had not yet reached England's colonies in the Far East, a country ship named the _Nourmahal_ sailed from Madras for the Island of Singapore. The object of her voyage was not known except, perhaps, to the leading officials of the Company's establishment at Madras; but it was generally believed that she carried certain presents from the Indian Government to the then Sultans of Malacca, Johore, and Pahang. Sir Stamford Raffles, it was known, had urged the occupation and fortification of Singapore as a matter of importance to England's supremacy in the Eastern seas. And, indeed, three years later he began the work himself.

But the presents destined for the Rajahs never reached them; for from the day that she sailed from Madras roadstead the _Nourmahal_ was never heard of nor seen again; and a year later no one but the relatives of the few Europeans on board thought any more about her. She had, it was conjectured, foundered in a typhoon, or been captured by pirates on her way through the Straits of Malacca.

The master of the missing ship was an Englishman named John Channing. For twenty-five or more years he had served the East India Company well, and his brave and determined conduct in many a sea-fight had won him not only a high place in the esteem of the directors, but considerable wealth as well. In those days it was not unusual for the captains of the larger ships belonging to or chartered by the Honourable Company to accumulate fortunes as the result of half a dozen successful voyages between England and Calcutta, and Captain John Channing had fared as well--or even better--than any of his fellow-captains in the service. For many years, however, he had not visited England, as, on account of his intimate and friendly relations with both the Portuguese and Dutch in the East Indies, the Government kept him and his ship constantly employed in those parts. Jealous and suspicious as were both the Dutch and Portuguese of English influence, they yet accorded Channing privileges granted to no other Englishman that sailed their seas. The reasons for these concessions from the Dutch were simple enough. A Dutch war-vessel conveying treasure to Batavia had been attacked by pirates, and in spite of a long and gallant defence was almost at the mercy of her savage assailants when Channing's ship came to her rescue and escorted her to port in safety. With the Portuguese merchants he was on most friendly terms, for twenty years before the opening of this story he had married the daughter of one of the wealthiest of their number, who was settled at Macassar, in Celebes. They had but one child, Adela, who when the _Nourmahal_ sailed from Madras was about eighteen years of age, and she, with her mother, had accompanied her father on his last and fateful voyage. In England the missing seaman had but one relative, a nephew named Francis Channing, who was a lieutenant in the Marines. Nearly a year after the departure of his uncle's ship from India, all hope of his return was abandoned, and as he had left no will an official intimation was sent to the young man by John Channing's Calcutta bankers, informing him of his uncle's supposed death, and suggesting that he should either obtain a lengthened leave or resign from the service and come out to India to personally confer with them and the proper authorities as to the disposal of the dead man's property, which, as the owner had died intestate, would, of course, be inherited by his sole remaining relative. But the ship by which this letter was sent never reached England. A week after she sailed she was captured by a French privateer, one of several which, openly disregarding the proclamation of peace between England and France, still preyed upon homeward-bound merchantmen; and all the letters and despatches found on board the captured vessel were retained by the privateer captain, and were doubtless lost or destroyed.

Meanwhile Lieutenant Channing, quite unconscious of his good fortune, had sailed in His Majesty's ship _Triton_ for the Cape and East Indies. With no influence behind him, and nothing but his scanty pay to live on, he had nothing to hope for but that another year's or two years' service would gain him his captaincy. Of his uncle in India he had scarcely ever heard, for his father and John Channing had quarrelled in their early lives, and since then had not corresponded.

Although at times quiet and reflective in his manner, his genial, open-hearted disposition soon made the young officer of Marines a general favourite with every one on board the _Triton_. The captain of the frigate, one of those gallant old seamen who had distinguished themselves under Nelson and Hyde Parker, knew Channing's worth and bravery well, for they had served together in some of the bloodiest engagements that had ever upheld the honour of England's flag. Unlike many other naval captains who in those days were apt to regard somewhat slightingly the services rendered by the Marines, Captain Reay was, if not an ardent admirer of the corps, at least a warm-hearted advocate for and friend to it. Perhaps much of the feeling of friendship shown to Channing was due to the fact that before he joined the _Triton_ her captain had told his officers a story of his experiences in the West Indies, in which the officer of Marines was the central figure. Captain Reay had been sent by the senior officer of the squadron to demand the surrender of a fort on the Island of Martinique, when by an act of treachery he and his boat's crew were made prisoners and confined in the fortress, where he was treated with almost savage brutality by the commandant. The frigate at once opened fire, but after four hours' bombardment had failed to silence a single gun in the fort. At midnight it was carried in an attack led by young Channing, then a mere lad, and who, although two-thirds of his small force fell ere the walls were reached, refused to draw back and abandon Reay and his men. From that day Reay became his warm and sincere friend.


The best part of a year had passed since the _Triton_ had sailed from Portsmouth, and now, with only the faintest air filling her canvas, she was sailing slowly along the shores of a cluster of islands, high, densely wooded, and picturesque. They formed one of the many minor groups of the beautiful and fertile Moluccas. Ten days before, the frigate had left Banda, and, impelled upon her course by but the gentlest breezes, had crept slowly northward towards Ternate, where Captain Reay was touching for letters before reporting himself to the Admiral at Singapore. On the quarter-deck a party of officers were standing together looking over the side at the wonders of the coral world, over which the ship was passing. For many hours the _Triton_ had sailed thus, through water as clear as crystal, revealing full sixty feet below the dazzling lights and ever-changing shadows of the uneven bottom. Now and again she would pass over a broad arena of sand, gleaming white amid encircling walls of living coral many-hued, and gently swaying weed and sponge of red and yellow, which, though so far below, seemed to rise and touch the frigate's keel and then with quivering motion sink again astern. And as the ship's great hull cast her darkening shadow deep down through the transparency, swarms of brightly coloured fishes, red and blue and purple and shining gold, and banded and striped in every conceivable manner, darted away on either side to hide awhile in the moving caverns of weed that formed their refuge from predatory enemies. So slowly was the frigate moving, and so clear was the water, that sometimes as she sailed over a valley of glistening sand the smallest coloured pebble or fragment of broken coral could be as clearly discerned upon the snowy floor as if it lay embedded in a sheet of flawless crystal; and then again the quivering walls of weed and sponge would seem to rise ahead as if to bar her way, then slowly sink astern in the frigate's soundless wake.

But if the strange world beneath was wondrous and fascinating to look upon, that around was even more so. Three miles away on the starboard hand a group of green and fertile islands shone like emeralds in the morning sun. Leaning over the rail, Francis Channing gazed at their verdant heights and palm-fringed beaches of yellow sand with a feeling but little short of rapture to a man with a mind so beauty-loving and poetic as was his. Familiar to the wild bloom and brilliance of the West Indian islands, the soft tropical beauty of the scene now before him surpassed all he had ever seen, and, oblivious of the presence and voices of his brother officers as they conversed near him, he became lost in reflective and pleased contemplation of the radiant panorama of land, sea, and almost cloudless sky around him. Thirty miles away, yet so distinctly defined in the clear atmosphere that it seemed but a league distant from the ship, a perfect volcanic cone stood abruptly up from out the deep blue sea, and from its sharp-pointed summit a pillar of darkly-coloured smoke had risen skywards since early morn; but now as the wind died away it slowly spread out into a wide canopy of white, and then sank lower and lower till the pinnacle of the mountain was enveloped in its fleecy mantle.

As the young officer watched the changes of the smoky pall that proclaimed the awful and mysterious forces slumbering deep down in the bosom of the earth, he was suddenly aroused from his reflective mood by the shrill whistles and hoarse cries of the boatswain's mates, and in another minute the watch began to shorten sail: a faint greenish tinge in the western sky, quickly noted by the master, who was an old sailor in Eastern seas, told of danger from that quarter.

Although the typhoon season had not yet set in, and both Captain Reay and the master knew that in that latitude (about 4 deg. south) there was not very much probability of meeting with one, every preparation was made, as violent squalls and heavy rain, at least, were certain to follow the greenish warning in the sky. In a very short time their surmise proved correct, for by four in the afternoon the _Triton_ under short canvas, was battling with a mountainous sea and furious gusts of wind from the W.N. W. The presence of so much land around them, surrounded by networks of outlying reefs, the strong and erratic currents, and the approaching night, gave Captain Reay much concern, and it was with a feeling of intense relief that he acceded to the master's suggestion to bring the ship to an anchor in a harbour situated among the cluster of islands that the ship had passed early in the day.

"We can lie there as snugly as if we were in dock," said the master; "the holding ground is good, and there is room for half a dozen line-of-battle ships." Then, pointing to the chart lying before him, he added, "The place is called Tyar, and, curiously enough, was first made known to the Admiral at Calcutta by a Captain Channing, one or the Company's men. This plan of the harbour is a copy of the one he made ten years ago."

"Channing's uncle, very probably," said Captain Reay, who had been told by his Marine officer that he had an unknown uncle in the Company's service. "Very well, Mr. Dacre, let us get in there by all means. I am most anxious to see the ship out of this before darkness sets in and we get piled up on a reef."

A mighty downpour of rain, which fell upon the frigate's deck like a waterspout, cut short all further speech by its deafening tumult, and although it lasted but a few minutes, it killed the fury of the squall to such an extent that the ship, unsteadied by her canvas, rolled so violently that no one could keep his feet. Suddenly the torrent ceased, and a short, savage, and gasping puff struck and almost sent her over on her beam-ends, then swept away as quickly as it came, to be followed a minute later by another almost as fierce but of longer duration.

Without further loss of time the reefs were shaken out of the topsails, for darkness was coming on, and, wearing ship at a favourable opportunity, the Triton kept away for Mr. Dacre's harbour. The wind, now blowing with steady force, sent her through the confused and lumpy sea at such a speed that before sundown she ran through the entrance to the harbour, and, bringing to under a high, wooded bluff, dropped anchor in ten fathoms of water, quite close to a narrow strip of beach that fringed the shores of a little bay.

The place in the immediate vicinity of the ship appeared to be uninhabited, but as darkness came on, a glimmer of lights appeared along the shore some miles away, and at daylight a number of fishing prahus approached the frigate, at first with hesitation, but when they were hailed by the master in their own tongue, and told that the ship was English, they came alongside and bartered their fish. They assured the master that the stormy weather was sure to continue for some days, until the moon quartered, and Captain Reay was pleased to learn from them that a certain amount of provisions, fish, vegetables, and fruit, would be brought off daily to the ship for sale.

The wind still blew with violence, and although the ship lay in water as smooth as a mill-pond, the narrow strip of open ocean visible from her decks was whipped foaming white with its violence.

In their conversation with the master, the natives had told him that at a village some miles away from where the Triton was anchored, there was a white man and his wife living--French people, so they said. A year before, a French privateer, running before a heavy gale and a wild, sweeping sea, had struck upon the barrier reef of one of the outer low-lying islands of the group, and, carried over it by the surf, had foundered in the lagoon inside. Only ten people were saved, and among them were the Frenchman and his wife. Two months afterwards eight of the male survivors took passage in a prahu belonging to the Sultan of Batchian, having heard that there was a French ship refitting at that island.

"Why did the two others remain?" asked Mr. Dacre.

The natives laughed. "Ah! the one man who stayed was a clever man. When the prahu from Batchian came here he said he was sick, and that his wife feared to sail so far in a small prahu. He would wait, he said, till a ship came."

"And then?" asked Dacre.

"And then, after the other Frenchmen had gone, he came to our head man and said that if they would keep faith with him he would make them rich, for he knew that which none else knew. So he and they made a bond to keep faith with one another, and that day he took them to where the ship had sunk, and pointing to where she lay beneath the water he said: 'Is there any among ye who can dive down so far?' They laughed, for the wreck was but ten single arm lengths below, and then they said: 'Is this where thy riches lie? Of what use to us is this sunken ship, save for the guns on her decks?'

"Then he said: 'In that ship is gold and silver money enough to cover as a carpet the beach that lies in front of the village, but to get it the decks must be torn up. I, who was second in command, know where the treasure lieth in the belly of the ship. Now let us talk together and make a plan whereby we can get this money. It was for this I lied to those who have gone and said I was sick.'

"Then as soon as the tides were low, the Frenchman and the head men made rafts of bamboos and timber, and floating them on the wreck they took thick ropes of rattan, and divers went down and lashed the ends thereof to the cross-beams under the decks. Then when this was done more bamboos were added to the rafts above, and as the tide flowed the rattan ropes stood up like iron bars. For two days the people worked at this, and yet the decks kept firm, but on the third day a great piece tore out, and the sunken rafts sprang to the surface. And then the divers again went down, and by and by they brought up money in bags of canvas, and wooden boxes. And half of which was gotten up the Tuan took, and half he gave to the head men, according to the bond. And much more money is yet in the ship, for it is only when the water is clear and the current is not swift can we dive. Yet every time do we get money."

"The rascal!" said Captain Reay, when Dacre translated this. "I suppose this money was from plundered English prizes. Only that we are at peace with France, I'd like to take every coin from both the piratical scoundrel himself and his Malay partners. And, indeed, if the _Triton_ were not a King's ship, I'd send a boat there and take it now. But I suppose I can't interfere--confound the fellow!--now that we are at peace with France."

The wind was still blowing with great force, and as there appeared no prospect of the weather breaking for another day or two, Captain Reay and his officers made preparations for excursions into the country. The natives showed a very great friendliness towards the _Triton's_ people, and at about ten in the morning two boats left the ship for the shore, and Channing, accompanied by one of his Marines, who carried a fowling-piece, set out by themselves along the winding path that encircled the narrow littoral of the island off which the frigate lay. The captain had ordered that the shore party was not to remain later than sunset; so, determined to see as much of the place as possible, Channing and Private Watts set off at a brisk pace. A three hours' walk brought them to the windward side of the island, and then emerging from the palm-shaded path, they suddenly came upon the principal village of the island. Their appearance was hailed by the natives with every manifestation of pleasure, and a number of young men escorted them to the house of the principal head man, where they offered a simple repast of fish and fruit, and small drams of arrack served in coconut shells.

Leaving Private Watts to amuse himself with the villagers, who apparently took much interest in his uniform and accoutrements, Francis Channing set out for a walk. The path led along through the sweet-smelling tropical forest at about a cable's length from the shore, and then suddenly emerged upon a little cove, the beach of which was strewn with wreckage; spars, hempen cables, and other ship's gear covering the sand at high-water mark. Several rudely constructed rafts of wreckage, timber, and bamboo, were moored a little distance off, and Channing at once surmised that the spot was used as a landing-place by the wreckers working at the sunken privateer.

As he stood looking about him, uncertain whether to go on or turn back, a man approached him from a house that stood at the furthest point of the bay, and saluted him politely in French.

"I presume, sir," he said, as he bowed and extended his hand to the Englishman, "that you are one of the officers from the English frigate anchored at Tyar. I have heard that peace has been declared between our two nations, and I rejoice."

Channing made a suitable reply, and gazed with interest at the stranger, who was a handsome man of less than twenty-five years of age, dressed in a rough suit of blue jean, and wearing a wide-rimmed hat of plaited straw. His face was tanned a rich brown by the Eastern sun; and rough and coarse as was his attire, his address and manner showed him to be a man of education and refinement.

He seemed somewhat discomposed when Channing, in a very natural manner, asked him the name of his ship, and answered--

"_L'Aigle Noir_, Monsieur, and my name is Armand Le Mescam."

"I have heard her name mentioned by our master," said the Marine officer, with a smile. "He has had the honour of serving in many engagements against your country's ships in these seas, in which our ships have not always secured a victory."

The Frenchman bowed and smiled, and then, feeling no doubt that he could do so with safety to himself, and that even if the cause of his presence on the island were known to the _Tritons_ people that he would suffer no molestation, invited Channing to walk to his house and take a glass of wine.

"Ah!" said Channing, with a laugh; "then you have got wine as well as money from the wreck of _L' Aigle Noir_."

The Frenchman's face darkened, and he stopped short.

"You know then, Monsieur, the reason of my remaining on this island?"

"I have heard," answered Channing frankly; and then, noticing the agitation expressed on the Frenchman's face, he added, "but that does not concern me, nor indeed any one else on board the _Triton_--not now, at any rate, since France and England are at peace."

Monsieur Le Mescam seemed greatly relieved at hearing this, and in another minute, chatting gaily to his visitor, led the way into his house. The building was but little better than an ordinary native dwelling, but it was furnished with rude couches and seats made from the wreckage of the privateer, and scattered about were many articles, such as weapons, crockery, cooking utensils, clothing, &c.; Two or three native servants, who were lounging about, at once presented themselves to their master, and one of them, bringing a small keg, filled two silver cups with wine, and Channing and his host, bowing politely to each other, drank.

For some little time the two men conversed pleasantly, and then the Frenchman, who so far had avoided all allusion to the treasure, offered to conduct his guest a part of the way back to the native village. That he had not presented Channing to his wife did not surprise the latter, who imagined that she could scarcely be clothed in a befitting manner to meet a stranger, and he therefore did not even let his host know that he was aware of his wife being with him on the island.

Drinking a parting cup of wine together, the two men set out, the Frenchman leading the way past a number of sheds built of bamboos, and covered with atap thatch. As they reached the last of these buildings, which stood almost at the water's edge, they came upon a woman who was sitting, with her back turned to them, under the shade of the overhanging thatched eaves, nursing a child.

In a moment she rose to her feet and faced them, and rough and coarsely clad as she was, Channing was struck by her great beauty and her sad and mournful face.

For a moment the Frenchman hesitated, and with a quick "Sit you there, Adela, I shall return shortly," was turning away again with Channing, when they heard the woman's voice calling in French, "Adrian, come back!" and then in another moment she added in English, as she saw Channing walking on, "And you, sir, in Heaven's name, do not leave me! I am an Englishwoman."

In an instant Channing turned, and quick as lightning the Frenchman, whose face was dark with passion, barred his way--"Monsieur, as an honourable man, will not attempt to speak to my wife when I request him not to do so."

"And I beg of you, sir, as my fellow-countryman, not to desert me. I am indeed an Englishwoman. My father's ship was captured, plundered, and then sunk by a French privateer, within sight of Malacca. Both he and my mother are dead, and I was forced to marry that man there," and she pointed scornfully through her tears to Le Mescam. "His captain, who I thought had some honour, promised to set me ashore at Manila, but when we reached there I was kept on board, and, ill and scarce able to speak, was married to Lieutenant Le Mescam, against my will, by a Spanish priest. Oh, sir, for the sake of my father, who was an English sailor, help me!"

Channing sprang towards her. "Madam, I am an Englishman, and there is a King's ship not four miles away. You, sir"--and he turned to the Frenchman, whose handsome face was now distorted with passion--"shall answer for your cowardly conduct, or I very much mistake the character of the gallant officer under whom I have the honour to serve. Ha!" And with sudden fury he seized Le Mescam's right arm, the hand of which had grasped a pistol in the bosom of his coat. "You cowardly, treacherous hound!" and wrenching the weapon from his grasp, he struck the Frenchman in the face with it, and sent him spinning backward upon the sand, where he lay apparently stunned.

Then Charming turned to the woman, who, trembling in every limb, was leaning against the side of the house. "Madam, I shall return to the ship at once. Will you come with me now, or shall I go on first? That our captain will send a boat for you within an hour you may rely on. He will take quick action in such a matter as this. If you fear to remain alone, I shall with pleasure escort you on board now."

"No, no," she pleaded; "he," and she pointed to the prone figure of the Frenchman, "would never hurt me; and I cannot leave him like this--I cannot forget that, wicked and cruel as he has been to me, he is the father of my child. Return, sir, I pray you, to your ship, and if you can help me to escape from my unhappy position, do so. Were it not for the money that my husband is employed in getting from the sunken privateer, my lot would not have been so hard, for he would have returned with the other survivors to Batchian; and from there, by the weight of my poor father's name, I could easily have escaped to Macassar, where my mother's relatives live."

"Do not fear then, Madam," said Channing kindly, "I shall leave you now, but rest assured that a few hours hence you shall be among your own countrymen once more." Then as two native women appeared, as if searching for their mistress, he raised his hat and walked quickly away.


Armand Le Mescam, with the bitterest rage depicted on his swarthy features, rose to his feet, and instead of returning to his house went slowly along towards one of his storehouses, without even glancing at his wife, who stood watching him from where Channing had left her. In a few moments she saw his figure vanishing among the palms, but not so quickly but that she perceived he carried a musket.

His intention was easy to divine, and with a despairing look in her eyes, she began to run after him, carrying the infant in her arms.


Private Watts, meanwhile, had very much enjoyed himself with the natives, who, by reason of the Polynesian strain in their blood, were a merry, demonstrative, joyous people, unlike most of the Malayan race, who are much the reverse, especially towards strangers. For some time he had been watching the native boys throwing darts at a target, and his attempts to emulate their skill aroused much childish merriment. Suddenly the lengthening shadows of the surrounding palms recalled him to the fact that it was getting late, so bidding goodbye to his entertainers, he shouldered his fowling-piece and set off to meet his master, taking the same path as that by which Lieutenant Channing had left him. Half an hour's walk brought him to a spot where the path lay between the thick forest jungle on one side and the open beach on the other, with here and there jagged clumps of broken coral rock covered with a dense growth of vines and creepers.

Three or four hundred yards away he could see the tall figure of Lieutenant Channing walking quickly along the path; and so, sitting down upon a little strip of grassy sward that skirted the beach side of the track, the soldier awaited his master.

With the approach of sunset the wind had fallen, and though a mile or two away the thundering surges leapt with loud and resounding clamour upon the barrier reef, only the gentlest ripple disturbed the placid water of the sheltered lagoon. Overhead the broad leaves of the coco-palms, towering above the darker green of the surrounding vegetation, drooped languidly to the calm of the coming night, and great crested grey and purple-plumaged pigeons lit with crooning note upon their perches to rest.

As he lay there, lazily enjoying the beauty of the scene, the soldier heard the loud, hoarse note and whistling and clapping of a hornbill, and, turning his head, he saw the huge-beaked, ugly bird, rising in alarm from one of the vine-covered boulders of coral which stood between the path and high-water mark not thirty yards away, and at the same moment he caught a gleam of something bright that seemed to move amid the dense green tangle that covered the rock; and then a man's head and shoulders appeared for a second in full view. His back was turned to Watts, who now saw, with a vague feeling of wonder, that he was kneeling, and peering cautiously out upon the path below. Further along Watts could see his master, now within a hundred feet of the boulder, and walking very quickly. Then an exclamation of horror broke from him as the kneeling man slowly rose, and pointed his musket full at Channing; but ere the treacherous hand could pull the trigger, the Marine had levelled his piece and fired; without a cry the man spun round, and then pitched headlong to the ground at Channing's feet.

"My God, sir!" panted Watts, as a few seconds later he stood beside his master, who was gazing with stupefied amazement at the huddled-up figure of Armand Le Mescam, who lay with his face turned upward, and a dark stream trickling from his mouth, "I was only just in time. He had you covered at ten paces when I fired."

Le Mescam never spoke again. The shot had struck him in the back and passed through his chest. As the two men bent over him, a woman carrying a child burst through the jungle near them, sank exhausted on her knees beside the dead man, and then fainted.


There was much excitement when the last boat returned to the _Triton_ pulling as her crew had never pulled before. Then there was a rush of pig-tailed bluejackets to the gangway, as a murmuring whisper ran along the decks that the "soger officer was comin' aboard holdin' a woman in his arms," and the news was instantly conveyed to the captain, who was that evening dining with his officers, with the result that as the cutter ran up alongside, Captain Reay, the master, and half a dozen other officers were standing on the main deck.

"By Heavens, gentlemen, it's true!" cried Captain Reay to the others. "Here, show more light at the gangway!"

And then amid a babble of excitement, Lieutenant Channing, pale, hatless, and excited, ascended the gangway, carrying in his arms a woman whose white face and dark hair stood clearly revealed under the blaze of lights held aloft by the seamen. As he touched the deck, the sleeping babe in her arms awoke, and uttered a wailing cry.

"Take her to my cabin, Channing," said Reay, without waiting to question him. "Here! give me the youngster, quick! Sentry, pass the word for the doctor."

The moment the officers had disappeared a buzz of talk hummed, and Private Watts was besieged with questions. "Give us a tot, an' I'll tell ye all about it, afore I'm sent for by the captain," was his prompt answer; and then swallowing the generous draught provided him, he told his story in as few words as possible.

A big, bony sergeant slapped him on the shoulder, "Mon, ye'll hae your stripes for this."

"Ay, that he will," said a hairy-chested boatswain. "Well, it's a uncommon curious ewent: this 'ere young covey goes a-shootin', and bags a Frenchman, and the soger officer brings a hangel and a cherrybim aboard."


The officers of the Triton sat long over their wine that night, and Lieutenant Channing was the recipient of much merry badinage; but there was behind it all a sincere feeling of joy that he had escaped such a treacherous death. Private Watts being sent for, was excused by the Scotch sergeant, who gravely reported that he was bad in the legs, whereat the officers laughed, and straightway made up a purse of guineas for him. Suddenly, as Captain Reay entered, the babble ceased.

"Gentlemen, let Mr. Channing turn in; he wants rest. The lady and her baby are now sound asleep. She has told me her strange story. To-morrow, Mr. West, you can take a boat's crew, and bring aboard a large sum of money concealed in a spot of which I shall give you an exact description. It belongs to this lady undoubtedly, now that Watts's lucky shot has settled her ruffianly husband."


Two days after, the frigate had cleared her harbour of refuge, and was bowling along on her course for Ternate when Captain Reay sent for Lieutenant Channing to come to his cabin.

"Channing," he said, taking his hand with a smile, "it is my happy lot to give you what I know will prove a joyful surprise. This lady"--and he bowed to Mrs. Le Mescam, who was sitting looking at him with a bright expectancy in her dark eyes--"is your own cousin, Adela Channing. There, I'll leave you now. She has much to tell you, poor girl; I have decided to go straight to the Admiral at Singapore instead of touching at Ternate, and if old Cardew is worth his salt he'll give you leave to take her to Calcutta."


Of course, Channing and Adela fell in love with each other, and he duly married the lady, and when they reached England he received the news of the inheritance that had fallen to him by John Channing's death.

Ex-Sergeant Watts, of the Marines, followed his master when he retired from the Service, and was for long the especial guardian of the "cherubim," as Adela Channing's eldest boy had been named by the _Triton's_ people--until other sons and daughters appeared to claim his devotion.

[The end]
Louis Becke's short story: The East Indian Cousin