The Two Destinies
34. By Land And Sea
IT mattered little to me to what port the vessel was bound. Go where I might, I knew that
I was on my way to Mrs. Van Brandt. She had need of me again; she had claimed me
again. Where the visionary hand of the child had pointed, thither I was destined to go.
Abroad or at home, it mattered nothing: when I next set my foot on the land, I should be
further directed on the journey which lay before me. I believed this as firmly as I believed
that I had been guided, thus far, by the vision of the child.
For two nights I had not slept--my weariness overpowered me. I descended to the cabin,
and found an unoccupied corner in which I could lie down to rest. When I awoke, it was
night already, and the vessel was at sea.
I went on deck to breathe the fresh air. Before long the sensation of drowsiness returned;
I slept again for hours together. My friend, the physician, would no doubt have attributed
this prolonged need of repose to the exhausted condition of my brain, previously excited
by delusions which had lasted uninterruptedly for many hours together. Let the cause be
what it might, during the greater part of the voyage I was awake at intervals only. The
rest of the time I lay like a weary animal, lost in sleep.
When I stepped on shore at Rotterdam, my first proceeding was to ask my way to the
English Consulate. I had but a small sum of money with me; and, for all I knew to the
contrary, it might be well, before I did anything else, to take the necessary measures for
replenishing my purse.
I had my traveling-bag with me. On the journey to Greenwater Broad I had left it at the
inn in the market-town, and the waiter had placed it in the carriage when I started on my
return to London. The bag contained my checkbook, and certain letters which assisted me
in proving my identity to the consul. He kindly gave me the necessary introduction to the
correspondents at Rotterdam of my bankers in London.
Having obtained my money, and having purchased certain necessaries of which I stood in
need, I walked slowly along the street, knowing nothing of what my next proceeding was
to be, and waiting confidently for the event which was to guide me. I had not walked a
hundred yards before I noticed the name of "Van Brandt" inscribed on the window-blinds
of a house which appeared to be devoted to mercantile purposes.
The street door stood open. A second door, on one side of the passage, led into the office.
I entered the room and inquired for Mr. Van Brandt. A clerk who spoke English was sent
for to communicate with me. He told me there were three partners of that name in the
business, and inquired which of them I wished to see. I remembered Van Brandt's
Christian name, and mentioned it. No such person as "Mr. Ernest Van Brandt" was
known at the office.