Chapter 6 | Jem Wimble talks Sense | The Adventures of Don Lavington

Chapter Six.

“May I come in?”

Don nodded.

“The master’s gone, and took the ladies ’long with him. Why, don’t look like that, my lad. Your uncle don’t think you took the money?”

Don nodded.

“But your mother don’t, sir?”

“Yes, Jem, she believes me guilty too.”

“I never did!” cried Jem, excitedly. “But sure-lie Miss Kitty don’t?”

“Yes, Jem, they all think I’m a thief. Everybody does,” cried Don, passionately.

“No, everybody don’t,” said Jem, fiercely; “so don’t talk like that, Mas’ Don. Why, even I couldn’t ha’ stole that money—me, as is only yard-man, and nothing o’ no consequence t’other day. So if I couldn’t ha’ done it, I’m quite sure as you, as is a young gentleman born and bred, couldn’t.”

“But they think I did. Everybody thinks so.”

“Tell yer everybody don’t think so,” cried Jem, sharply. “I don’t, and as for them, they’ve all got dust in their eyes, that’s what’s the matter with them, and they can’t see clear. But didn’t you tell ’em as you didn’t?”

“Yes, Jem,” said Don, despondently; “at first.”

“Then why didn’t you at last, too? Here, cheer up, my lad; it’ll all blow over and be forgotten, same as the row was about that sugar-hogshead as I let them take away. I don’t say shake hands ’cause you’re like master and me only man, but I shakes hands with you in my ’art, my lad, and I says, don’t be down over it.”

“You couldn’t shake hands with a thief, you mean, Jem,” said Don, bitterly.

“Look here, Mas’ Don, I can’t punch your head because, as aforesaid, you’re young master, and I’m only man; but for that there same what you said just now I hits you in my ’art. Thief indeed! But ah, my lad, it was a pity as you ever let Mike come into the office to tell you his lies about furren parts.”

“Yes, Jem, it was.”

“When you might ha’ got all he told you out o’ books, and the stories wouldn’t ha’ been quite so black.”

“Ah, well, it’s all over now.”

“What’s all over?”

“My life here, Jem. I shall go right away.”

“Go? What?”

“Right away. Abroad, I think.”

“And what’ll your mother do?”

“Forget me, I hope. I always was an unlucky fellow Jem.”

“What d’yer mean? Run away?”

“Yes, I shall go away.”

“Well, that’s clever, that is. Why, that’s just the way to make ’em think you did it. Tshah! You stop like a man and face it out.”

“When everybody believes me guilty?”

“Don’t be so precious aggrawatin’, my lad,” cried Jem, plaintively. “Don’t I keep on a-telling you that I don’t believe you guilty. Why, I’d just as soon believe that I stole our sugar and sold bundles of tobacco-leaves to the marine store shops.”

Don shook his head.

“Well, of all the aggrawatin’ chaps I ever did see, you’re ’bout the worst, Mas’ Don. Don’t I tell you it’ll be all right?”

“No, Jem, it will not be all right. I shall have to go before the magistrates.”

“Well, what of that?”

“What of that?” cried Don, passionately. “Why, that scoundrel Mike will keep to his story.”

“Let him!” cried Jem, contemptuously. “Why, who’d ever believe him i’ preference to you?”

“My uncle—my mother—my cousin.”

“Not they, my boy. They don’t believe it. They only think they do. They’re sore just now, while it’s all fresh. To-morrow by this time they will be a-hanging o’ themselves round about your neck, and a-askin’ of your pardon, and kissin’ of you.”

“No, Jem, no.”

“Well, I don’t mean as your uncle will be kissin’ of you, of course; but he’ll be sorry too, and a-shaking of your hand.”

Don shook his head.

“There, don’t get wagging your head like a Chinee figger, my lad. Take it like a man.”

“It seems that the only thing for me to do, Jem, is to tie up a bundle and take a stick, and go and try my luck somewhere else.”

“And you free and independent! Why, what would you say if you was me, tied up and married, and allus getting into trouble at home.”

“Not such trouble as this, Jem.”

“Not such trouble as this, my lad? Worser ever so much, for you don’t deserve it, and I do, leastwise, my Sally says I do, and I suppose I do for being such a fool as to marry her.”

“You ought to be ashamed to talk like that, Jem.”

“So ought you, Mas’ Don. I’ve often felt as if I should like to do as you say and run right off, but I don’t do it.”

“You have felt like that, Jem?” cried Don, eagerly.

“Yes, often, my lad.”

“Then let’s go, Jem. Nobody cares for us here. Let’s go right away to one of the beautiful foreign countries Mike told me about, and begin a new life.”

“Shall us, Mas’ Don?”

“Yes; why not? Get a passage in some ship, and stop where we like. He has told me of dozens of places that must be glorious.”

“Then we won’t go,” said Jem, decidedly. “If Mike Bannock says they’re fine spots, don’t you believe him; they’re bad ’uns.”

“Then let’s go and select a place for ourselves,” cried Don.

“Lor! I do wonder at you, Mas’ Don, wantin’ to leave such a mother as you’ve got, and asking me to leave my wife. Why, what would they do?”

“I don’t know,” said Don, sadly. “They care very little for us now. You can do as you like; I shall go.”

“Nay, nay, you won’t, my lad.”

“Yes, Jem, I think I shall.”

“Ah, that’s better! Think about it.”

“I should have thought that you’d be glad to come with me, Jem.”

“So I should, my lad; but there’s a some’at as they calls dooty as allus seems to have hold on me tight. You wait a bit, and see how things turn out.”

“But I shall have to appear before the magistrates, and be called a thief.”

“Ah, well, that won’t be pleasant, my lad, of course; but wait.”

“Then you wouldn’t go with me, Jem?”

“Don’t tempt a man, Mas’ Don, because I should like to go with you, and course I shouldn’t like to go with you, because I shouldn’t like you to go. There, I must get on with my work.”

At that very moment came the call of a shrill voice—


“There I told you so. She see me come in here, and she’s after me because I haven’t got on with my casks. Oh, how sharp she is!”

Jem gave Don an intelligent nod of the head, and moved out, while the lad stood gazing at the opposite window and listened to the sharp voice addressing the foreman of the yard.

“Poor Jem! He isn’t happy either!” said Don, sadly, as the voices died away. “We might go right off abroad, and they’d be sorry then and think better of us. I wish I was ten thousand miles away.”

He seated himself slowly on his stool, and rested his arms upon the desk, folding them across his chest; and then, looking straight before him at the door, his mental gaze went right through the panels, and he saw silver rivers flowing over golden sands, while trees of the most glorious foliage drooped their branches, and dipped the ends in the glancing water. The bright sun shone overhead; the tendrils and waving grass were gay with blossoms; birds of lovely plumage sang sweetly; and in the distance, on the one hand, fading away into nothingness, were the glorious blue mountains, and away to his right a shimmering sea.

Don Lavington had a fertile brain, and on the canvas of his imagination he painted panorama after panorama, all bright and beautiful. There were no clouds, no storms, no noxious creatures, no trials and dangers. All was as he thought it ought to be, and about as different from the reality as could be supposed. But Don did not know that in his youthful ignorance, and as he sat and gazed before him, he asked himself whether he had not better make up his mind to go right away.

“Yes, I will go!” he said, excitedly, as he started up in his seat.

“No,” he said directly after, as in imagination now he seemed to be gazing into his mother’s reproachful eyes, “it would be too cowardly; I could not go.”