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A Roving Commission by G. A. Henty

Miles was talking to me about yesterday in Yeovil

"Then I have several pieces of news to tell you. Here is a _Gazette_, in which you will see that a certain Nathaniel Glover brought into Portsmouth last week a French thirty-six-gun frigate which he had captured, and in another part of the _Gazette_ you will observe that the same officer has been confirmed in the acting rank of commander, and has been appointed to the _Spartane_, which is to be recommissioned at once. Therefore you see, sisters, you will in future address me as captain."

There was a general exclamation of surprise and delight.

"That is what it was," the rector said, "that Dr. Miles was talking to me about yesterday in Yeovil. He said that the London papers were full of the news that a French frigate had been captured by a little ten-gun brigantine, and had been brought home by the officer who had taken her, who was, he said, of the same name as mine. He said that it was considered an extraordinarily gallant action."

"We shall be as proud as peacocks," Lucy, the youngest girl, said.

"Now as to my news," he went on. "Doubtless that was important, but not so important as that which I am now going to tell you. At the present moment there is at Yeovil a gentleman and lady, together with their daughter, the said daughter being, at the end of a reasonable time, about to become my wife, and your sister, girls."

The news was received with speechless surprise.

"Really, Nat?" his mother said in a tone of doubt; "do you actually mean that you have become engaged to a young lady who is now at Yeovil?"

"That is the case, mother," he said cheerfully. "There is nothing very surprising that a young lady should fall in love with me, is there? and I think the announcement will look well in the papers--on such and such a date, Myra, daughter of Monsieur Duchesne, late of the island of Hayti, to Nathaniel, son of the Rev. Charles Glover of Arkton Rectory, commander in his majesty's navy."

"Duchesne!" Ada, the second girl, said, clapping her hands, "that is the name of the young lady you rescued from a dog. I remember at the time Mary and I quite agreed that the proper thing for you to do would be to marry her some day. Yes, and you were staying at her father's place when the blacks broke out; and you had all to hide in the woods for some time."

"Quite right, Ada. Well, she and her father and mother have posted down with me from Southampton in order to make your acquaintance, and to-morrow you will have to go over in a body."

"Does she speak English?" Mrs. Glover asked.

"Oh, yes, she speaks a good deal of English; her people have for the past two years intended to settle in England, and have all been studying the language to a certain extent. Besides that, they have had the inestimable advantage of my conversation, and have read a great many English books on their voyage home."

"Is Miss Duchesne very dark?" Lucy asked in a tone of anxiety.

Nat looked at her for a moment in surprise, and then burst into a fit of laughter.

"What, Lucy, do you think because Myra was born in Hayti that she is a little negress with crinkley wool?"

"No, no," the girl protested almost tearfully. "Of course I did not think that, but I thought that she might be dark. I am sure when I was at Bath last season and saw several old gentlemen, who, they said, were rich West Indians, they were all as yellow as guineas."

"Well, she won't be quite so dark as that, anyhow," Nat said; "in fact I can tell you, you three will all have to look your best to make a good show by the side of her."

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