Um! ejaculated my father as he thoughtfully removed his double eye-glass from his nose with one hand, and with the other passed a letter to me across the breakfast-table-"Um! this letter will interest you, Dick. It is from Captain Vernon." My heart leapt with sudden excitement, and my hand trembled as I stretched it out for the proffered epistle. The mention of Captain Vernon's name, together with the announcement that the subject-matter of the letter was of interest to me, prepared me in a great measure for the intelligence it conveyed; which was to the effect that the writer, having been appointed to the command of the sloop-of-war Daphne, now found himself in a position to fulfil a promise of some standing to his dear and honoured friend Dr Hawkesley (my father) by receiving his son (myself) on board the sloop, with the rating of midshipman. The sloop, the letter went on to say, was commissioned for service on the west coast of Africa; and if I decided to join her no time should be lost in procuring my outfit, as the Daphne was under orders to sail on the-; just four days from the date of the receipt of the letter.