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The Ships of Tarshish

Chapter XIII. Resolution

Chapter XIII. Resolution.

It was late that same evening, Mandevil and Norval were sitting at the fire. The former had been for an hoar in a brown study, gazing intently on the burning coals. The latter, occupied, with a cigar the while, had once or twice addressed a remark to his companion, but receiving no answer, had given it up as a bad job. At last that companion muttered—

"Yes! they shall see. I'm resolved."

"I'm glad you've made up your mind at last," observed Norval, quietly puffing out a cloud of smoke—"What are you resolved upon?"

Mandevil turned and confronted the speaker, first with a sleepwalker sort of look, then started slightly and answered, "Oh, nothing—I've been dreaming awake," and then relapsed into his brown study again. His thoughts reverted to the death-room of the old man; he recalled all over again. The fine, still, autumn night; his strange position as he found himself alone listening to those oracular-toned utterances, which had haunted him ever since, and which seemed to imply the conditions of a mysterious trust.

"The ships of Tarshish shall be first," he murmured aloud.

"What does that mean?" said the provoking Norval,—"that they'll go the fastest?"

"Well, I suppose it does," said Mandevil awake once more; "or rather, perhaps, that they'll be the first to get ready and start wherever they are bound for. But if I examine my own thoughts, I think I was using the words in the sense of general superiority."

"But who, what, or where is this Tarshish? I fancy the name is familiar to me," said Norval.

"When did you look at your Bible last, my young friend," asked Mandevil.

"Oh! I remember now," said Norval; "Jonah was pitched page 47overboard from a ship of Tarahish. But still that doesn't tell me where is Tarshiah."

"I've an idea on the subject," returned Mandevil, smiling, "but I won't give it you, because you'll quiz me, as you did when I told you about the Wandering Jew, and the legacy, and all that."

"All right!" said Norval; "it doesn't matter, though. I suppose we can all make a guess at it, and have the same chance of being correct."

Mandevil now took down a "Bradshaw," and pored over it for ten minutes. Then shutting it up, he said to himself, "That will do." To Norval he said, "You asked me a little while ago what I was resolved upon. I must say good-night to you now, and also good-bye, for I've resolved to be off early to-morrow, by the train, to look after something to do."