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´╗┐Title: Held Fast For England - A Tale of the Siege of Gibraltar (1779-83)
Author: Henty, G. A. (George Alfred), 1832-1902
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Held Fast For England - A Tale of the Siege of Gibraltar (1779-83)" ***

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HELD FAST FOR ENGLAND:

A Tale of the Siege of Gibraltar (1779-83)

by

G. A. HENTY.



Contents

   Preface.
   Chapter 1:  "Something Like An Adventure."
   Chapter 2:  A Great Change.
   Chapter 3:  An Unexpected Journey.
   Chapter 4:  Preparations For A Voyage.
   Chapter 5:  A French Privateer.
   Chapter 6:  The Rock Fortress.
   Chapter 7:  Troubles Ahead.
   Chapter 8:  The Siege Begins.
   Chapter 9:  The Antelope.
   Chapter 10: A Cruise In A Privateer.
   Chapter 11: Cutting Out A Prize.
   Chapter 12: A Rich Prize.
   Chapter 13: Oranges And Lemons.
   Chapter 14: A Welcome Cargo.
   Chapter 15: Bob's Mission.
   Chapter 16: A Cruise In The Brilliant.
   Chapter 17: The Floating Batteries.



Illustrations

   Bob and his Companions surprise the Burglars.
   View of Gibraltar from the Mediterranean.
   View of Gibraltar from the Bay.
   The Professor gets excited.
   The Rock and Bay of Gibraltar.
   'The old gentleman is a brick,' exclaimed Gerald.
   Bob swims off to the Spanish Warship.
   They found the two Spanish mates playing at cards.
   They find Boxes of Silver in the Lazaretto.
   Bob receives a Commission from the Governor.



Preface.


The Siege of Gibraltar stands almost alone in the annals of
warfare, alike in its duration and in the immense preparations
made, by the united powers of France and Spain, for the capture of
the fortress. A greater number of guns were employed than in any
operation up to that time; although in number, and still more in
calibre, the artillery then used have in, modern times, been thrown
into the shade by the sieges of Sebastopol and Paris. Gibraltar
differs, however, from these sieges, inasmuch as the defence was a
successful one and, indeed, at no period of the investment was the
fortress in any danger of capture, save by hunger.

At that period England was not, as she afterwards became,
invincible by sea; and as we were engaged at the same time in war
with France, Spain, Holland, and the United States, it was only
occasionally that a fleet could be spared to bring succour and
provisions to the beleaguered garrison. Scurvy was the direst enemy
of the defenders. The art of preserving meat in tins had not been
discovered, and they were forced to subsist almost entirely upon
salt meat. During the first year of the siege the supply of fresh
vegetables was scanty, in the extreme, and the garrison
consequently suffered so severely, from scurvy, that at one time
scarcely half of the men of the garrison were strong enough to
carry a firelock, and perform their duty. The providential capture
of a vessel laden with oranges and lemons checked the ravages of
the scourge; and the successful efforts of the garrison to raise
vegetables prevented it from ever, afterwards, getting a firm hold
upon them.

In such a siege there was but little scope for deeds of individual
gallantry. It was a long monotony of hardship and suffering, nobly
endured, and terminating in one of the greatest triumphs ever
recorded in the long roll of British victories.

G. A. Henty.



Chapter 1: "Something Like An Adventure."


Had Mr. Tulloch, the headmaster and proprietor of a large school at
Putney, been asked which was the most troublesome boy in his
school, he would probably have replied, without hesitation, "Bob
Repton."

But, being a just and fair-minded man, he would have hastened to
qualify this remark, by adding:

"Most troublesome, but by no means the worst boy. You must
understand that. He is always in scrapes, always in mischief. In
all my experience I have never before come across a boy who had
such an aptitude for getting into trouble; but I have nothing else
to say against him. He is straightforward and manly. I have never
known him to tell a lie, to screen himself. He is an example to
many others in that way. I like the boy, in spite of the endless
trouble he gives, and yet there is scarcely a day passes that I am
not obliged to cane him; and even that does him no good, as far as
I can see, for he seems to forget it, five minutes after it is
over. I wonder, sometimes, if he has really got hardened, and
doesn't feel it.

"He is sharp, and does his lessons well. I have no difficulty with
him, on that score; but he is a perfect imp of mischief."

With such characteristics, it need hardly be said that Bob Repton
was one of the most popular boys at Tulloch's school.

School life was, in those days--for it was in August, 1778, that
Bob was at Tulloch's--a very different thing to what it is, at
present. Learning was thrashed into boys. It was supposed that it
could only be instilled in this manner; and although some masters
were, of course, more tyrannical and brutal than others, the cane
was everywhere in use, and that frequently. Lads, then, had far
less liberty and fewer sports than at present; but as boys' spirits
cannot be altogether suppressed, even by the use of the cane, they
found vent in other ways, and there was much more mischief, and
more breaking out of bounds, than now take place. Boys were less
trusted, and more harshly treated; in consequence of which there
was a kind of warfare between the masters and the boys, in which
the masters, in spite of their canes, did not always get the best
of it.

Bob Repton was nearly fifteen. He was short, rather than tall for
his age, but squarely built and strong. His hair could never be got
to lie down, but bristled aggressively over his head. His nose was
inclined to turn up, his gray eyes had a merry, mischievous
expression, and his lips were generally parted in a smile. A casual
observer would have said that he was a happy-go-lucky, merry,
impudent-looking lad; but he was more than this. He was shrewd,
intelligent, and exceptionally plucky; always ready to do a good
turn to others, and to take more than his fair share of blame, for
every scrape he got into. He had fought many battles, and that with
boys older than himself, but he had never been beaten. The opinion,
generally, among the boys was that he did not feel pain and, being
caned so frequently, such punishment as he got in a fight was a
mere trifle to him.

He was a thorn in the side of Mr. Purfleet, the usher who was
generally in charge of the playground; who had learned by long
experience that, whenever Bob Repton was quiet, he was certain to
be planning some special piece of mischief. The usher was sitting
now on a bench, with a book in his hand; but his attention was, at
present, directed to a group of four boys who had drawn together in
a corner of the playground.

"There is Repton, again," he said to himself. "I wonder what he is
plotting, now. That boy will be the death of me. I am quite sure it
was he who put that eel in my bed, last week; though of course, I
could not prove it."

Mr. Purfleet prided himself on his nerve. He had been telling the
boys some stories he had read of snakes, in India; among them, one
of an officer who, when seated at table, had felt a snake winding
itself round his leg, and who sat for several minutes without
moving, until some friends brought a saucer of milk and placed it
near, when the snake uncurled itself and went to drink.

"It must have required a lot of nerve, Mr. Purfleet," Bob Repton
had said, "to sit as quiet as that."

"Not at all, not at all," the usher replied, confidently. "It was
the natural thing to do. A man should always be calm, in case of
sudden danger, Bob. The first thought in his mind should be, 'What
is this?' the second, 'What had best be done, under the
circumstances?' and, these two things being decided, a man of
courage will deal coolly with the danger. I should despise myself,
if I were to act otherwise."

It was two nights later that the usher, having walked down between
the two rows of beds in the dormitory, and seeing that all the boys
were quiet, and apparently asleep, proceeded to his own bed, which
was at the end of the room, and partly screened off from the rest
by a curtain. No sooner did he disappear behind this than half a
dozen heads were raised. An oil lamp burned at the end of the room,
affording light for the usher to undress; and enabling him, as he
lay in bed, to command a general, if somewhat faint view of the
dormitory. Five minutes after Mr. Purfleet had disappeared behind
the curtain, the watching eyes saw the clothes at the end of the
bed pulled down, and caught a partial view of Mr. Purfleet as he
climbed in. A second later there was a yell of terror, and the
usher leapt from the bed. Instantly, the dormitory was in an
uproar.

"What is it, Mr. Purfleet--what is the matter, sir?" and several of
the boys sprang from their beds, and ran towards him; the only
exceptions to the general excitement being the four or five who
were in the secret. These lay shaking with suppressed laughter,
with the bedclothes or the corner of a pillow thrust into their
mouths, to prevent them from breaking out into screams of delight.

"What is it, sir?"

It was some time before the usher could recover himself
sufficiently to explain.

"There is a snake in my bed," he said.

"A snake!" the boys repeated, in astonishment, several of the more
timid at once making off to their beds.

"Certainly, a snake," Mr. Purfleet panted. "I put my legs down, and
they came against something cold, and it began to twist about. In a
moment, if I had not leapt out, I should no doubt have received a
fatal wound."

"Where did it come from?"

"What is to be done?"

And a variety of other questions burst from the boys.

"I will run down and get three or four hockey sticks, Mr.
Purfleet," one of the elder boys said.

"That will be the best plan, Mason. Quick, quick! There, do you see
it moving, under the clothes?"

There was certainly something wriggling, so there was a general
movement back from the bed.

"We had better hold the clothes down, Mr. Purfleet," Bob Repton
said, pushing himself forward. "If it were to crawl out at the top,
and get on to the floor, it might bite a dozen of us. I will hold
the clothes down tight, on one side, if someone will hold them on
the other."

One of the other boys came forward, and the clothes were stretched
tightly across the bed, by the pillow. In a minute or two, Mason
ran up with four hockey sticks.

"Now, you must be careful," Mr. Purfleet said, "because if it
should get out, the consequences might be terrible. Now, then, four
of you take the sticks, and all hit together, as hard as you
can--now."

The sticks descended together. There was a violent writhing and
contortion beneath the clothes, but the blows rained down fast and,
in a very short time, all movement ceased.

"It must be dead, now," Bob Repton said. "I think we can look at it
now, sir."

"Well, draw the clothes down very gently; boys, and be ready to
strike again, if you see the least movement."

The clothes were drawn down, till the creature was visible.

"It must be a cobra," the usher said, looking at it from a
distance. "It is thick and short. It must have escaped from
somewhere. Be very careful, all of you."

Mason approached cautiously, to get a nearer view; and then
exclaimed:

"Why, sir, it is an eel!"

There was a moment's silence, and then a perfect yell of laughter
from the boys. For a moment the usher was dumbfounded, then he
rallied.

"You will all go to your beds, at once," he said. "I shall report
the matter to Mr. Tulloch, in the morning."

The boys retired, laughing, to their beds; but above the din the
usher heard the words, in a muffled voice:

"A man should always be calm, in sudden danger."

Another voice, equally disguised, said:

"Yes, he should first ask himself 'What is this?' then 'What had
best be done, under the circumstances?'"

A third voice then took it up:

"It follows that a man of courage will deal coolly with the
danger."

Then there was a chorus of half a dozen voices:

"I should despise myself, if I were to act otherwise."

"Silence!" the usher shouted, rushing down the line between the
beds. "I will thrash the first boy who speaks."

As Mr. Purfleet had one of the hockey sticks in his hand, the
threat was sufficient to ensure silence.

To the relief of the two or three boys engaged in the affair, Mr.
Purfleet made no report in the morning. Mr. Tulloch by no means
spared the cane, but he always inquired before he flogged and, as
the usher felt sure that the snake story would be brought forward,
by way of excuse for the trick played upon him, he thought it
better to drop it; making a mental note, however, that he would get
even with Bob Repton, another time--for he made sure that he was at
the bottom of the matter, especially as he had been one of those
who had listened to the snake story.

Mr. Purfleet was held in but light respect by the boys. He was a
pale young man, and looked as if he had been poorly fed, as a boy.
He took the junior classes, and the belief was that he knew nothing
of Latin.

Moffat, who took the upper classes, was much more severe, and sent
up many more boys to be caned than did the junior usher; but the
boys did not dislike him. Caning they considered their natural
portion, and felt no ill will on that account; while they knew that
Mr. Moffat was a capital scholar and, though strict, was always
scrupulously just. Above all, he was not a sneak. If he reported
them, he reported them openly, but brought no accusation against
them behind their back; while Mr. Purfleet was always carrying
tittle tattle to the headmaster. There was, therefore, little
gratitude towards him for holding his tongue as to the eel; for the
boys guessed the real reason of his silence, and put it down to
dread of ridicule, and not to any kindliness of feeling.

"Purfleet would give sixpence to know what we are talking about,
Bob," one of the group talking in the corner of the playground
said.

"It is worth more than that, Jim; still, we shall have to be extra
careful. He suspects it was our lot who played him the trick about
the eel, and he will do his best to catch us out, in something.

"Well, as I was saying, Johnny Gibson has got a first-rate dog for
rabbits, and he says there are lots of them up on the Common. I
told him that I would come, and I expected two or three more; and
we would meet him at the top of the hill, at four o'clock tomorrow
morning. It will be getting light by that time. Of course, we shall
get out in the usual way, and we can be back by half past six, and
no one will be any the wiser. Old Thomas never comes down till a
quarter to seven. I have heard him a dozen times. He just comes
down in time to ring the bell for us to get up."

"Oh, I ain't afraid of Thomas," one of the others said, "but I am
afraid of Purfleet."

"There need be no fear about him. He never wakes till the bell
rings, and sleeps like a top. Why, he didn't wake, the other
morning, when we had a scrimmage and you tumbled out of bed.
Besides, we all sleep at the other end of the room and, even if he
did wake up in the night, he wouldn't notice that we had gone;
especially if we shoved something in the bed, to make a lump.

"My only fear is that we shan't wake. We ought to keep watch till
it's time to get up, but I am sure we shouldn't keep awake. We must
all make up our minds to wake at three, then one of us will be sure
to do it. And mind, if one wakes, he must promise not to go to
sleep again before he hears the hall clock strike, and knows what
time it is. If it is before three, he can go off to sleep again.
That way, one of us is sure to be awake, when it strikes three."

"I say, shan't we just be licked, if we are found out, Bob?"

"Of course we shall; but as we get licked pretty well every day,
that won't make much difference, and we shall have had awful fun.
Still, if any of you fellows don't like it, don't you go. I am
going, but I don't want to persuade any of you."

"Of course we are going, if you are going, Bob. What are we going
to do with the rabbits?"

"Oh, I settled Johnny Gibson should keep them. He is going to bring
his dog, you know; besides, what could we do with them? We can't
cook them, can we?"

As it was clear to all the party that this could not be managed, no
objection was raised to this disposal of their game.

Bob Repton slept but little that night. They went to bed at eight,
and he heard every hour strike after nine; dozing off occasionally,
and waking up, each time, convinced that the clock would strike
three next time. At last he heard the three welcome strokes, and at
once got up and went to the beds of the other three boys.

They were all sound asleep, and required some shaking before they
could be convinced that it was time to get up. Then each boy put
his bolster in his bed, rolled up his night shirt into a ball and
laid it on the pillow, and then partly covered it up with the
clothes. Then they slipped on their shirts, breeches, and stockings
and, taking their jackets and shoes in their hand, stole out of the
door at their end of the room, and closed it behind them. They then
crept downstairs to the room where their caps were kept, put on
these and their jackets, and each boy got a hockey stick out of the
cupboard in the corner in which they were kept. Then they very
cautiously unfastened the shutter, raised the window, and slipped
out. They pulled the shutter to behind them, closed the window, and
then put on their shoes.

"That is managed first rate," Bob said. "There wasn't the least
noise. I made sure Wharton would have dropped his shoes."

"Why should I drop them, more than anyone else?" Wharton asked in
an aggrieved voice.

"I don't know, Billy. The idea occurred to me. I didn't think
anyone else would do it, but I quite made up my mind that you
would."

"Well, I wish you wouldn't be so fast about making up your mind,
then," Wharton grumbled. "I ain't more clumsy than other people."

"You are all right," Jim Sankey put in. "Bob's only joking."

"Well, he might as well joke with somebody else, Jim. I don't see
any joke in it."

"No, that is where the joke is, Billy," Bob said. "If you did see
the joke, there wouldn't be any joke in it.

"Well, never mind, here is the walnut tree. Now, who will get over
first?"

The walnut tree stood in the playground near the wall, and had
often proved useful as a ladder to boys at Tulloch's. One of its
branches extended over the wall and, from this, it was easy to drop
down beyond it. The return was more difficult, and was only to be
accomplished by means of an old ivy, which grew against the wall at
some distance off. By its aid the wall could be scaled without much
difficulty, and there was then the choice of dropping twelve feet
into the playground, or of walking on the top of the wall until the
walnut tree was reached.

Tulloch's stood some little distance along the Lower Richmond Road.
There were but one or two houses, standing back from the road
between it and the main road up the hill, and there was little fear
of anyone being abroad at that time in the morning. There was, as
yet, but a faint gleam of daylight in the sky; and it was dark in
the road up the hill, as the trees growing in the grounds of the
houses, on either side, stretched far over it.

"I say," Jim Sankey said, "won't it be a go, if Johnny Gibson isn't
there, after all?"

"He will be up there by four," Bob said, confidently. "He said his
father would be going out in his boat to fish, as soon as it began
to be daylight--because the tide served at that hour--and that he
would start, as soon as his father shoved off the boat.

"My eye, Jim, what is that ahead of us? It looks to me like a
coach."

"It is a coach, or a carriage, or something of that sort."

"No, it isn't, it is a light cart. What can it be doing here, at
this hour? Let us walk the other side of the road."

They crossed to the left, as they got abreast of the cart. A man,
whom they had not noticed before, said sharply:

"You are about early."

"Yes, we are off to work," Bob replied, and they walked steadily
on.

"He couldn't see what we were like," Jim Sankey said, when they had
got a hundred yards further.

"Not he," Bob said. "I could not make out his figure at all, and it
is darker on this side of the road than it is on the other.

"I say, you fellows, I think he is up to no good."

"What do you mean, Bob?"

"Well, what should a cart be standing on the hill for, at this time
in the morning? That's Admiral Langton's, I know; the door is just
where the cart was stopping."

"Well, what has that got to do with it, Bob? The cart won't do him
any harm."

"No, but there may be some fellows with it, who may be breaking
into his house."

"Do you think so, Bob?"

"Well, it seems likely to me it may be his house, or one of the
others."

"Well, what are we to do, Bob?"

"I vote we see about it, Jim. We have pretty nearly half an hour to
spare, now, before Johnny Gibson will come along. We have got our
hockey sticks, you know."

"But suppose there shouldn't be any men there, Bob, and we should
be caught in the grounds; They would think we were going to steal
something."

"That would be a go," Bob said, "but there isn't likely to be
anyone about, at half past three; and if there were, I don't
suppose he would be able to catch us. But we must risk something,
anyhow. It will be a bit of fun, and it will be better than waiting
at the top of the hill, with nothing to do till, Johnny Gibson
comes."

They were now past the wall in front of Admiral Langton's, and far
out of sight of the man in the cart.

"There is some ivy on this wall," Bob said. "We can climb over it,
by that. Then we will make our way along, until we can find some
place where we can climb over into the admiral's garden."

"Perhaps there are some dogs about," Wharton objected.

"Well, if there are, they are most likely chained up. We must risk
something.

"Well, here goes. If you don't like it, Wharton, you can stay
behind."

So saying, he put his hockey stick between his teeth, and then
proceeded to climb up the wall, by means of the ivy.

The wall was but nine feet high and, as soon as he gained the top,
Bob said:

"Come on, you fellows. I am going to drop down."

In two minutes he was joined by the other three.

"There is a path, just beyond," Bob said; "let us go by that. Don't
you fellows say a word. As Wharton says, there may be some dogs
about."

Quietly they stole along the path, which ran parallel to the road,
until it turned off at right angles.

"Now, the first tree that grows against the wall we will get over
by," Bob whispered.

After going twenty yards, he stopped.

"This tree will do."

"But what are you going to do, if there should be some men?"
Wharton asked, in a tone that showed he objected, altogether, to
the proceeding.

"It depends upon how many of them there are," Bob replied. "Of
course, the admiral has got some men in the house; and they will
wake up, and help us, if we give the alarm. Anyhow, we ought to be
able to be a match for two men, with these sticks, especially if we
take them by surprise.

"What do you say, Jim?"

"I should think so," Jim replied. "Anyhow, if you are game to go
on, I am.

"What do you say, Fullarton?"

"Oh, I am ready," Fullarton, who was a boy of few words, replied.

"Only, if there is anyone, Bob, and we get into a row with them, of
course it will all come out about us; and then shan't we get it,
just!"

"I suppose we shall," Bob admitted, "but I don't see we can help
that.

"Well, we are in for it, now," and he began to climb the tree and,
working along a limb which extended over the wall, he dropped down
into the garden.

The others soon joined, Wharton being more afraid of staying
behind, by himself, than of going with the rest.

"Now, what are we to do next?"

"I should say we ought to find out whether anyone has got into the
house. That is the first thing. Then, if they have, we have got to
try to wake up the people, and to frighten the men inside.

"Have you got some string in your pockets?"

"I have got some."

They all had string.

"What do you want string for, Bob?"

"String is always useful, Jim. We may want to tie their hands. But
what I was thinking was, we might fasten it across the stairs, or
some of the passages; and then set up a sudden shout, and they
would think the watchmen had come, and would make a bolt; and when
they got to the string over they would go, and then we would drop
on them with these hockey sticks, before they could get up.

"Well, come on. There mayn't be anyone here, after all. Now we will
go up to the house, and creep round."

The house stood thirty or forty yards away and, stepping as
noiselessly as they could, the boys crossed the lawn and moved
along the front. Suddenly, Tom Fullarton caught hold of Bob's arm.

"Look, Bob, there is a light in that room! Do you see--through the
slit in the shutters?"

"So there is. Well, there is no mistake, now. There must be some
fellows belonging to that cart inside. That must be the drawing
room, or dining room, and they would never have lights there at
this time of night.

"Now, let us find out where they got in. This is something like
fun. It beats rabbit hunting all to nothing.

"Now mind, you fellows, if we do come upon them, and there is a
fight, you remember the best place to hit, to begin with, is the
ankle. You have only just got to fancy that it is a bung, and swipe
at it with all your might. Anyone you hit there is sure to go down
and, if he wants it, you can hit him over the head, afterwards.

"Now, come along. I expect they got in at the back of the house."

They soon came upon a door at the side of the house. It was open.

"That looks as if they had been let in," Bob whispered. "See, there
is a light in there, somewhere! Come on.

"Now, let us take our shoes off."

The others were thoroughly excited now, and followed Bob without
hesitation.

"Bob, is the key in the door?" Jim whispered.

"Yes, on the inside. They have been let in. I wish I dare lock it,
and take the key away. Let me see if it turns easy."

Very gently he turned the key, and found the bolt shot noiselessly.
It had doubtless been carefully oiled. He turned it again, shut the
door, locked it, and put the key in his pocket.

Then they crept on tiptoe along the passage. At the end were two
large chests, strengthened with iron bands. A lighted lantern stood
upon them. Bob peered round the corner into the hall. No one was to
be seen, but he heard a noise through an open door, from which came
a stream of light.

Motioning the others to stand still, he crept forward noiselessly
till he could look into the room. A man was occupied in packing
some articles of massive plate, clocks, and other valuables into a
sack. He was alone.

Bob made his way back to the others.

"There's only one fellow there," he said. "If there are any more,
they are upstairs. Let us have this one first--his back is to the
door.

"Now, Wharton, you hold our handkerchiefs and the string. If he
don't look round, I will jump on his back and have him down.

"The moment he is down, you two throw yourselves on him, and you
shove the handkerchiefs into his mouth, Wharton. In the surprise,
he won't know that we are only boys; and we will tie his hands
before he has time to resist.

"Now, come on."

They were all plucky boys--for Wharton, although less morally
courageous than the others, was no coward, physically. Their
stockinged feet made no sound, and the man heard nothing until Bob
sprang on to his back, the force sending him down on to his face.
Bob's arm was tightly round his throat; and the other two threw
themselves upon him, each seizing an arm, while Wharton crammed two
handkerchiefs into his mouth. The man's hands were dragged behind
his back, as he lay on his face, and his wrists tied firmly
together. He was rendered utterly helpless before he had recovered
from the first shock of surprise.

"Tie his ankles together with the other two handkerchiefs," Bob
said, still lying across him.

"That is right. You are sure they are tight? There, he will do,
now. I must lock him in."

This was done.

"Now, then, let's go upstairs.

"Now, fasten this last piece of string across between the
banisters, six or eight steps up.

"Make haste," he added, as a faint cry was heard, above.

It did not take a second to fasten the string at each end; and
then, grasping their sticks, the boys sprang upstairs. On gaining
the landing, they heard voices proceeding from a room along a
corridor and, as they crept up to it, they heard a man's voice say,
angrily:

"Now we ain't going to waste any more time. If you don't tell us
where your money is, we will knock you and the girl on the head.

"No, you can't talk, but you can point out where it is. We know
that you have got it.

"Very well, Bill, hit that young woman over the head with the butt
of your pistol. Don't be afraid of hurting her.

"Ah! I thought you would change your mind. So it is under the bed.

"Look under, Dick. What is there?"

"A square box," another voice said.

"Well, haul it out."

"Come on," Bob Repton whispered to the others; "the moment we are
in, shout."

Illustration: Bob and his Companions surprise the Burglars.

He stood for a moment in the doorway. A man was standing, with his
back to him, holding a pistol in his hand. Another, similarly
armed, stood by the side of a young woman who, in a loose dressing
gown, sat shrinking in an armchair, into which she had evidently
been thrust. A third was in the act of crawling under the bed. An
elderly man, in his nightshirt, was standing up. A gag had been
thrust into his mouth; and he was tightly bound, by a cord round
his waist, to one of the bedposts.

Bob sprang forward, whirling his hockey stick round his head, and
giving a loud shout of "Down with the villains!" the others
joining, at the top of their voices.

Before the man had time to turn round, Bob's stick fell, with all
the boy's strength, upon his ankle; and he went down as if he had
been shot, his pistol exploding as he fell. Bob raised his stick
again and brought it down, with a swinging blow, on the robber's
head.

The others had made a rush, together, towards the man standing by
the lady. Taken utterly by surprise, he discharged his pistol at
random, and then sprang towards the door. Two blows fell on him,
and Sankey and Fullarton tried to grapple with him; but he burst
through them, and rushed out.

Bob and Wharton sprang on the kneeling man, before he could gain
his feet; and rolled him over, throwing themselves upon him. He was
struggling furiously, and would soon have shaken them off, when the
other boys sprang to their assistance.

"You help them, Jim. I will get this cord off!" Fullarton said and,
running to the bed, began to unknot the cord that bound the
admiral.

The ruffian on the ground was a very powerful man, and the three
boys had the greatest difficulty in holding him down; till
Fullarton slipped a noose round one of his ankles and then, jumping
on the bed, hauled upon it with all his strength--the admiral
giving his assistance.

"Get off him, he is safe!" he shouted; but the others had the
greatest difficulty in shaking themselves free from the man--who
had, fortunately, laid his pistol on the bed, before he crawled
under it to get at the box.

Jim Sankey was the first to shake himself free from him and, seeing
what Fullarton was doing, he jumped on to the bed and gave him his
assistance and, in half a minute, the ruffian's leg was lashed to
the bedpost, at a height of five feet from the ground.

Just as this was done there was a rush of feet outside; and three
men, one holding a cutlass and the other two armed with pokers, ran
into the room. It was fortunate they did so, for the man whom Bob
had first felled was just rising to his feet; but he was at once
struck down again, by a heavy blow over the head with the cutlass.
By this time the admiral had torn off the bandage across his mouth.

"Another of them ran downstairs, Jackson. Give chase. We can deal
with these fellows."

The three men rushed off.

"Well, I don't know who you are," the admiral went on, turning to
the boys, "but you turned up at the nick of time; and I am deeply
indebted to you, not only for saving my money--although I should
not have liked to lose that--but for having captured these pirates.

"That villain has not hurt you much, I hope?" for both Bob and Jim
Sankey were bleeding freely, from the face, from the heavy blows
the robber had dealt them.

"No, sir, we are not hurt to speak of," Bob said. "We belong to
Tulloch's school."

"To the school!" the admiral exclaimed. "What on earth are you
doing here, at four o'clock in the morning?

"But never mind that now. What is it, Jackson, has he got away?"

"No, sir; he was lying in a heap, at the bottom of the stairs.
There was a lanyard fastened across."

"We tied a string across, sir, as we came up," Bob explained.

"Well done, lads!

"Are there any more of them, Jackson?"

"Don't see any signs of any more, admiral. There are the two plate
chests in the passage, as if they had been brought out from the
butler's strong room, in readiness to take away."

"Where is the butler? He must have heard the pistol shots!" the
admiral exclaimed angrily.

"He is not in his room, admiral. We looked in to bring him with us.
The door was open, but he isn't there."

"There is another man in the drawing room, tied." Bob said. "He was
putting a lot of things into a sack."

"The scoundrel! Perhaps that is the butler," the admiral said.

"Well, Emma, you had better go back to bed again.

"Jackson, you stand guard over these two villains here, and split
their heads open, if they venture to move.

"Now, let us go and see to this other fellow."

The admiral proceeded downstairs, followed by the boys. The other
two servants were standing beside the third robber, who was still
insensible.

"You keep watch over him, John," the admiral said.

"William, you come with us. There is another man in the drawing
room, but he is tied."

"There is the key, sir," Bob said, producing it. "We thought it
safest to lock him up."

"Upon my word, young gentlemen, you seem to have thought of
everything. If I were in command of a ship, I should like to have
you all as midshipmen."

The door was opened. The man was still lying on the ground, but had
rolled some distance from where they had left him. He had succeeded
in getting his feet loosened from the handkerchief, but the
whipcord round his wrists had resisted all his efforts to break or
slacken it. He was panting heavily from the exertions he had made.

"It is Harper," the admiral said, in a tone of indignation and
disgust.

"So, you treacherous scoundrel, it was you who let these men in,
was it? Well, it is a hanging matter, my lad; and if any fellow
deserves the rope, you do.

"You had better go and get some more cord, Williams, and tie all
these four fellows up, securely. Let Jackson see to the knots.

"Where did the scoundrels get in?" he asked, turning to the boys.

"At the door at the end of the passage, sir, where the plate chests
are standing. We found it open--here is the key of it. We locked
it, after we came in, so as to prevent anyone from getting away.

"There is another man, with a cart, in the road."

"We will see to him, directly we have got the others all tied up
safely," the admiral said. "That is the first thing to see to."

In five minutes, the four men were laid side by side in the hall,
securely bound hand and foot.

"Now, Williams, you keep guard over them.

"Jackson, do you and John sally out. There is a cart standing
outside the gate, and a fellow in it. Bring him in, and lay him
alongside the others."

The boys followed the two men, to see the capture. The light had
broadened out over the sky, and it was almost sunrise as they
sallied out. They went quietly along, until they reached the
gate--which stood ajar--then they flung it open and rushed out. To
their disappointment, the cart was standing about fifty yards lower
down the hill. The man was in it, with his whip in one hand and the
reins in another, and was looking back; and the moment he saw them,
he struck the horse and drove off at the top of his speed. The pace
was such that it was hopeless for them to think of following him.

"I expect he heard the pistol shots," Jackson said, "and sheered
off a bit, so as to be able to cut and run if he found his consorts
were in trouble. Well, we cannot help it; we have taken four prizes
out of the five, and I call that pretty fair."

"I think we had better go, now," Bob said. "We have got a friend
waiting for us."

"Then he must wait a bit longer," Jackson said. "The admiral will
want to ask you some more questions. But if your friend is anywhere
near, one of you might run and tell him to back and fill a bit,
till you come to him."

"Tell him to do what?" Jim Sankey asked.

"Tell him to wait a bit, lad."

"I will run up," Wharton said.

"Shall I tell him we shan't want him at all, today, Bob?"

"I think so, Wharton. You see it is four o'clock, now; and we
mayn't be able to get away for half an hour, and it will be too
late, then. Besides, Jim and I have been knocked about too much to
care for rabbit hunting, now. You tell him we will go some other
day."

"You needn't tell him that, Wharton," Fullarton put in. "It will be
some time before we get a chance, you may be sure."

"All right! Tell him to go home then, Wharton. Tell him I will make
it all right with him, for losing his morning's work. Of course,
you will come in here, when you come down the hill again."

Wharton nodded, and started at a run up the hill; while his
companions accompanied the two men into the house. The admiral was
down in the hall again. He had now had time to add to his former,
scanty costume.

"Get the shutters of the drawing room open, Jackson," he said,
after hearing the report of the man's escape, "and tell the
maids--I suppose they are all up--to light a fire and get some
coffee ready, at once, and something to eat.

"Now, young gentlemen, sit down and tell me all about this
business. Now, which of you will be spokesman?"

Jim nodded to Bob.

"It's his doing, sir. I mean about our coming in here. We should
never have thought anything about the cart, if it hadn't been for
Bob; and we didn't much like coming, only he pretty well made us,
and he arranged it all."

"That's all rot," Bob said. "We were just all in it together, sir,
and this is how it was."

And he told the whole story of what had taken place.

"Well, you couldn't have done better, if you had been officers in
His Majesty's service," the admiral said. "You have saved me the
loss of my two plate chests, of all the plate in this room--and
that couldn't be counted in money, for they were most of the things
given me, at different times, on service--and of 500 pounds I had
in that box upstairs--altogether, at least 2000 pounds in money
value. More than that, you prevented my being captured; and it
would have been a sorer blow, to me, than the loss of the money, if
those scoundrels had had their way, and had got off scot free.

"But you haven't told me, yet, how you happened to be going up the
hill, at half past three o'clock in the morning. What on earth were
you doing there? Surely your master does not allow you to ramble
about, in the middle of the night."

"Well, no, sir, that is the worst of it," Bob said. "You see, I had
arranged with one of the fishermen's boys, who has got a first-rate
dog, that we could meet him upon the Common, and do some rabbit
hunting. We slipped out from Tulloch's, and meant to have been back
before anyone was up. And now I expect we shall get it nicely,
because I suppose it must all come out."

The admiral laughed.

"You are four nice young scamps!" he said--for Wharton had rejoined
them, before Bob had finished the story--"but it is not for me to
blame you. It will certainly have to be told, lads, because you
will have to appear as witnesses at the trial of these fellows; but
I will go down myself, the first thing in the morning, and speak to
your master."

"Thank you, sir," Bob said. "It won't make any difference about the
thrashing; we are bound to get that. But we shan't mind that, we
are pretty well accustomed to it. Still, if you speak for us, I
expect we shall get off with that; otherwise I don't know what
Tulloch would have done, when he found out that we had been
slipping out at night."

"I expect it is not the first time you have done it?"

"Well, no, it is not, sir. We have been out two or three times,
with one of the fishermen, in his boat."

"I expect you are nice young pickles," the admiral said. "Well,
what time does school begin?"

"Half past seven, sir."

"Very well, then. I will be there at that hour, lads, and do my
best for you. You see, with those faces of yours, you would be sure
to be noticed, anyhow; and I hope you wouldn't, in any case, have
been mean enough to screen yourselves by lying."

"That we shouldn't," Bob said. "I don't think there is a boy in the
school who would tell a lie to Tulloch."

"That is right, lads. A gentleman will never tell a lie to screen
himself, when he has got into a scrape. I wouldn't keep the
smartest young officer in the service on board a ship of mine, if I
caught him telling a lie; for I should know that he would not only
be a blackguard, but a coward. Cowardice is at the bottom of half
the lying of the world. I would overlook anything, except lying.
Upon my word, I would rather that a boy were a thief than a liar.

"Well, here is breakfast. Now sit down and make yourselves at home,
while I go up and see how my daughter is, after the fright she has
had."

Half an hour later, after eating a hearty breakfast, the four boys
started for school.



Chapter 2: A Great Change.


It was just striking six when they again climbed over the wall, and
descended by the tree. They had had a discussion whether they
should wait until the doors were opened, and walk quietly in, or
return as they left. They adopted the latter plan, because they
thought that, if the matter was reported to Mr. Tulloch, he might
proceed to administer punishment before the admiral arrived to give
his version of the affair.

The door was still ajar. As they opened it, they gave an
exclamation of surprise--for there, sitting on a chair in the
passage, was Mr. Purfleet. He smiled unpleasantly.

"So here you are. You have had a pleasant ramble, no doubt; but I
don't quite know what view Mr. Tulloch may take of it."

"It was very good of you to sit up for us, Mr. Purfleet," Bob said,
quietly; "but you see, we had left the door open, and could have
got in by ourselves. I hope you will not have caught cold, sitting
there only in a dressing gown."

"You are an impudent young scamp!" Mr. Purfleet said, in a rage.
"You will laugh with the other side of your mouth, presently. You
and Sankey are nice-looking figures, ain't you, with your faces all
cut and swollen?"

"We have been a little in the wars," Bob replied.

"I don't want to hear anything about it," the usher replied. "You
will have to explain matters to Mr. Tulloch."

"So I suppose, Mr. Purfleet.

"Well, Jim, we'll go and have a good wash. The bell will be
ringing, in half an hour."

So saying, Bob went into the lavatory, followed by his companions;
while the usher returned upstairs. He was certainly disappointed.
Quietly as the boys had dressed, the slight noise they had made in
closing the door had woke him. He thought little of it but, just as
he was going off to sleep again, he heard the bolts of the door
below withdrawn. He at once got up and walked to the other end of
the dormitory, and discovered that the four boys were missing.

Chuckling to himself that he should now be able to repay the grudge
he owed to Bob, he put on his dressing gown and went downstairs;
and had sat there for three hours, momentarily expecting their
return. He had certainly felt chilly, but had borne it patiently;
comforted by the joyful expectation of the utter dismay that would
be felt, by the culprits, when they saw him. The meeting had not
passed off at all as he had anticipated, and he could only console
himself by thinking that his turn would come when he made his
report to Mr. Tulloch.

The four boys did not return to the dormitory but, after they had
washed, strolled about in the playground. There was quite a
ferment, in the dormitory, when their absence was perceived, and
the others noticed the four made-up figures in their place. The
operation of dressing was got through with much greater alacrity
than usual and, when they went downstairs and saw the four missing
boys in the playground, these were at once surrounded by an excited
throng. They refused, however, to answer any questions.

"You will hear it all, in good time," Bob said. "We have been out,
and we have been caught. That is all I am going to tell you."

At the usual hour the bell rang, and the boys assembled in the
schoolroom. The two ushers were in their places. They waited three
or four minutes for Mr. Tulloch to appear; then the door opened,
and the manservant entered and, walking up to Mr. Moffat, said a
word or two. The latter nodded.

"Lessons will begin at once," he said, in a loud voice. "The first
class will come up to me."

The boys of this class, who occupied the senior dormitory, at once
began their lessons; while Mr. Purfleet took the lower class. The
second class, including Bob and his friends, remained in their
places. In a quarter of an hour the door opened, and Mr. Tulloch
entered, accompanied by Admiral Langton. Mr. Tulloch was looking
very serious, while the admiral looked hot and angry.

"We are going to catch it," Bob whispered, to Jim Sankey. "I knew
the admiral wouldn't be able to get us off."

"I wish all the boys to return to their places, Mr. Moffat. I have
something to say," Mr. Tulloch said, in a loud voice.

When the boys were all seated, he went on:

"Admiral Langton has been telling me that four of my boys were out
and about, soon after three o'clock this morning. The four boys in
question will stand up.

"I do not say that this is the first time that such a serious
infraction of the rules of the school has taken place. It has
happened before. It may, for aught I know, have happened many
times, without my knowledge; but upon the occasions when it has
come to my knowledge, the offenders have been most severely
punished. They must be punished, now.

"Admiral Langton has been telling me that the boys in question have
behaved with very great courage, and have been the means of saving
him from the loss of a large sum of money and plate, and of
capturing four burglars."

A buzz of surprise passed round the school.

"That this conduct does them great credit I am fully prepared to
admit. Had they been aware that this burglary was about to be
committed, and had they broken out of the house in the middle of
the night for the purpose of preventing it, I allow that it might
have been pleaded as an excuse for their offence; but this was not
so. It was an accident, that occurred to them when they were
engaged in breaking the rules, and cannot be pleaded as a set-off
against punishment.

"Admiral Langton has pleaded with me, very strongly, for a pardon
for them; but I regret that I am unable to comply with his request.
The admiral, as a sailor, is well aware that discipline must be
maintained; and I am quite sure that, when he was in command of a
ship, he would not have permitted his judgment to be biased, by
anyone. I have put it to him in that way, and he acknowledges that
to be so. The two matters stand distinct. The boys must be punished
for this gross breach of the rules. They may be thanked, and
applauded, for the courage they have shown, and the valuable
service they have rendered to Admiral Langton.

"I have, however, so far yielded to his entreaties that, while I
must administer a severe caning for the gross breach of the rules,
I shall abstain from taking any further steps in the matter; and
from writing to the boys' parents and guardians, requesting them to
remove their sons from the school, at once, as I certainly
otherwise would have done. At the same time, I am willing to hear
anything that these boys may have to urge, in explanation or
defence of their conduct. I have already been informed, by Admiral
Langton, that their object, in so breaking out, was to hunt rabbits
up on the Common."

"I wish to say, sir," Bob said, in a steady voice, "that it was
entirely my doing. I made the arrangements, and persuaded the
others to go; and I think it is only right that they should not be
punished as severely as I am."

"We were all in it together, sir," Jim Sankey broke in. "I was just
as keen on it as Bob was."

"So was I," Fullarton and Wharton said, together.

"Well, lads," Admiral Langton said, taking a step forward, and
addressing the boys, in general, "as your master says, discipline is
discipline; this is his ship, and he is on his own quarterdeck--but
I wish to tell you all that, in my opinion, you have every reason to
be proud of your schoolfellows. They behaved with the greatest pluck
and gallantry and, were I again in command of a ship, I should be
glad to have them serving me. I am only sorry that I cannot persuade
Mr. Tulloch to see the matter in the same light as I do.

"Goodbye, lads!" and he walked across, and shook hands with the
four boys. "I shall see you again, soon," and the admiral turned
abruptly, and walked out of the schoolroom.

Mr. Tulloch at once proceeded to carry his sentence into effect,
and the four boys received as severe a caning as ever they had had
in their lives; and even Bob, case hardened as he was, had as much
as he could do to prevent himself from uttering a sound, while it
was being inflicted. Lessons were then continued, as usual, until
eight o'clock, when the boys went in to breakfast. After that was
over, they went into the playground, until nine; and the four
culprits gave the rest a full account of the events of the night.

"I don't mind the thrashing," Bob said, "although Tulloch did lay
it on hot. It was well worth it, if it had only been to see that
sneak Purfleet's face, when the admiral told the story. I was
watching him, when Tulloch came in; and saw how delighted he was,
at the tale he was going to tell; and how satisfied he was that he
should get no end of credit, for sitting three hours in his
dressing gown, in order to catch us when we came in. It was an
awful sell for him, when he saw that the admiral had come out with
the whole story, and there was nothing, whatever, for him to tell."

When they went into school again, Mr. Tulloch said:

"Boys, I hear that four of your number have behaved with great
gallantry. They have prevented a serious robbery, and arrested the
men engaged in it. I shall therefore give you a holiday, for the
remainder of the day. The four boys in question will proceed, at
once, to Admiral Langton's, as they will be required to accompany
him to Kingston, where the prisoners will be brought up before the
magistrates."

There was a general cheer from the boys, and then Bob and his
companions hurried upstairs to put on their best clothes, and ran
off to the admiral's.

"Well, boys, is it all over?" he asked, as they entered.

"All over, sir," they replied together.

"Well, boys, I think it was a shame; but I suppose discipline must
be maintained in school, as well as on board a ship; but it vexes
me, amazingly, to think that I have been the means of bringing you
into it."

"It is just the other way, sir," Bob said, "and it is very lucky
for us that we came in here, sir, instead of going up to the
Common, as we intended. One of the ushers found out that we had
gone, and sat up until we came back and, if it had not been for
you, we should not only have got a thrashing, but should all have
been expelled; so it is the luckiest thing possible that we came in
here."

"Well, I am very glad to hear that, boys. It has taken a load off
my mind, for I have been thinking that, if you had not come in to
help me, you would have got back without being noticed.

"Emma, these are the four lads who did us such good service, last
night. They caught sight of you, before, but you were hardly in a
state to receive them formally."

The young lady laughed, as she came forward and shook hands with
them.

"You need not have mentioned that, papa.

"Well, I am very much obliged to you all; for I have no doubt they
meant to have my watch and jewels, as well as papa's money."

"Now, it is time for us to be off," the admiral said. "My carriage
is at the door, and a fly. You two, who have been knocked about,
had better come with my daughter and myself. The others can either
ride inside the fly, or one can go on the box of each vehicle, as
you like."

Wharton and Fullarton both said that they should prefer going
outside; and in a few minutes they were on their way, the three
menservants riding inside the fly. The prisoners had been sent off,
two hours before, in a cart; under the charge of the two local
constables.

The case lasted but an hour, the four men being all committed for
trial. The party then returned to Putney, the admiral insisting
upon the boys stopping to lunch with him. After the meal was over,
he inquired what they were going to do, on leaving school, and what
profession they intended to adopt.

Bob was the first questioned.

"I am going to be a wine merchant, sir," he said. "I have got no
choice about it. I lost my father and mother, years ago; and my
guardian, who is an uncle of mine, is in the wine trade, and he
says I have got to go in, too. I think it is horrid, but there is
no good talking to him. He is an awfully crusty old chap. I should
like to be a soldier, or a sailor; but of course it is of no use
thinking of it. My guardian has been very kind to me, even though
he is so crusty, and it wouldn't be right not to do as he tells me;
and I don't suppose the wine business is so very bad, when one is
accustomed to it."

"Has your uncle any sons, lad?"

"No, sir, he is an old bachelor; and he says that, some day, I am
to have his business."

"Then you can't do better than stick to it, lad," the admiral said.
"A boy who has before him the prospect of a solid, substantial
living, on shore, is simply a fool if he goes to sea. It is a rough
life, and a hard one; and if you don't get shot, or drowned, you
may get laid on the shelf with the loss of a limb, and a pension
that won't find you in grog and tobacco.

"It is a pity, for you would have made a good officer, but you will
be vastly better off, in all respects, at home; and I can tell you
there is not one sailor out of five who would not jump at a berth
on shore, if he could get the chance."

Sankey's father was a country clergyman and, at present, Jim had no
particular prospect.

"Would you like to go to sea, boy?"

"Yes, sir, I should like it of all things."

"Very well; give me your father's name and address, and I will
write to him about it."

Fullarton's father was a landed proprietor in Somersetshire, and he
was the eldest son. Wharton was to be a lawyer, and was to begin in
his father's office, in a year or two. Admiral Langton took notes
of the addresses of the boys' relatives.

When he had done that, he said to them:

"Now, lads, I know you would rather be off. I remember, when I was
a midshipman, I was always glad enough to escape, when I had to
dine with the captain."

A week later, a young man came down from a city watchmaker's, with
four handsome gold watches and chains for the boys; with an
inscription stating that they had been presented to them by Admiral
Langton, in remembrance of their gallant conduct on the night of
August 6th, 1778. They were immensely delighted with the gift; for
watches were, in those days, far more expensive luxuries than at
present, and their use was comparatively rare. With the watches
were four short notes from the admiral, inviting them to come up on
the following Saturday afternoon.

They had, by this time, received letters from their families, who
had each received a communication from the admiral, expressing his
warm commendation of their conduct, and his thanks for the services
that the boys had rendered.

Jim Sankey's father wrote saying that the admiral had offered to
procure him a berth as a midshipman, at once; and that he had
written, thankfully accepting the offer, as he knew that it was
what Jim had been most earnestly wishing--though, as he had no
interest, whatever, among naval men, he had hitherto seen no chance
of his being able to obtain such an appointment. This communication
put Jim into a state of the wildest delight, and rendered him an
object of envy to his schoolfellows.

Fullarton's father wrote his son a hearty letter, congratulating
him on what he had done, and saying that he felt proud of the
letter he had received from the admiral.

Wharton's father wrote to him sharply, saying that thief-taking was
a business that had better be left to constables, and that he did
not approve of freaks of that kind.

Mr. Bale wrote an irascible letter to Bob.

"My dear nephew," he began, "I am astonished, and most seriously
displeased, at contents of communication I have received from a
person signing himself J. Langton, admiral. I gather from it that,
instead of pursuing your studies, you are wandering about at night,
engaged in pursuits akin to poaching. I say akin, because I am not
aware whether the wild animals upon the common are the property of
the lord of the manor, or whether they are at the mercy of
vagabonds. It appears to me that there can be no proper supervision
exercised by your masters.

"I spoke to you when you were here, six weeks ago, as to your
school reports which, although fairly satisfactory as to your
abilities, said there was a great want of steadiness in your
general conduct. I am convinced that you are doing no good for
yourself, and that the sooner you settle down to a desk, in my
office, the better. I have therefore written this morning,
informing Mr. Tulloch that I shall remove you, at Michaelmas.

"Your sister has been here, with her husband, today. I am sorry to
say that they do not view your wild and lawless conduct in the same
light that I do, and that they are unable to see there is anything
positively disreputable in your being mixed up in midnight
adventures with burglars. I am glad to gather, from Admiral
Langton's letter, that Mr. Tulloch has seen your conduct in the
proper light, and has inflicted a well-merited punishment upon you.

"All this is a very bad preparation for your future career as a
respectable trader, and I am most annoyed to hear that you will be
called on to appear as a witness against the men who have been
captured. I have written to Admiral Langton, acknowledging his
letter, and expressing my surprise that a gentleman in his position
should give any countenance, whatever, to a lad who has been
engaged in breaking the rules of his school; and in wandering at
night, like a vagabond, through the country."

Bob looked rather serious as he read through the letter for the
first time but, after going through it again, he burst into a shout
of laughter.

"What is it, Bob?" Tom Fullarton asked.

"Read this letter, Tom. I should like to have seen the admiral's
face, as he read my uncle's letter. But it is too bad. You see, I
have regularly done for myself. I was to have stopped here till a
year come Christmas, and now I have to leave at Michaelmas. I call
it a beastly shame."

It was some consolation to Bob to receive, next morning, a letter
from his sister, saying she was delighted to hear how he had
distinguished himself in the capture of the burglars.

"Of course, it was very wrong of you to get out at night; but
Gerald says that boys are always up to tricks of that sort, and so
I suppose that it wasn't so bad as it seems to me. Uncle John
pretends to be in a terrible rage about it, but I don't think he is
really as angry as he makes himself out to be. He blew me up, and
said that I had always encouraged you--which of course I
haven't--and when Gerald tried to say a good word for you, he
turned upon him, and said something about fellow-feeling making men
wondrous kind. Gerald only laughed, and said he was glad my uncle
had such a good opinion of him, and that he should have liked to
have been there, to lend a hand in the fight; and then uncle said
something disagreeable, and we came away.

"But I feel almost sure that Uncle John is not really so angry as
he seems; and I believe that, if Gerald and I had taken the other
side, and had said that your conduct had been very wicked, he would
have defended you. It was stupid of us not to think of it, for you
know uncle always likes to disagree with other people--there is
nothing he hates more than their agreeing with him. His bark is
much worse than his bite, and you must not forget how good and kind
he has been to us all.

"You know how angry he was with my marriage, and he said I had
better have drowned myself, than have married a soldier; and I had
better have hung myself, than have married an Irishman--specially
when he had intended, all along, that I should marry the son of an
old friend of his, a most excellent and well-conducted young man,
with admirable prospects. But he came round in a month or two, and
the first notice of it was a letter from his lawyer, saying that,
in accordance with the instruction of his client, Mr. John Bale, he
had drawn up and now enclosed a post-nuptial settlement, settling
on me the sum of 5000 pounds consols; and that his client wished
him to say that, had I married the person he had intended for me,
that sum would have been doubled.

"The idea, when I never even saw the man! And when I wrote,
thanking him, he made no allusion to what he had said before; but
wrote that he should be glad, at all times, to see my husband and
myself, whenever we came to town; but that, as I knew, his hours
were regular, and the door always locked at ten o'clock--just as if
Gerald was in the habit of coming in, drunk, in the middle of the
night! Fortunately nothing puts Gerald out, and he screamed over
it; and we went and stopped a week with uncle, a month afterwards,
and he and Gerald got on capitally together, considering. Gerald
said it was like a bear and a monkey in one cage, but it was really
very funny.

"So I have no doubt he will come round, with you. Do try and not
vex him more than you can help, Bob. You know how much we all owe
him."

This was true. Bob's father had died when he was only three years
old--he being a lawyer, with a good business, at Plymouth--but he
had made no provision for his early death, and had left his wife
and two children almost penniless. Mr. Bale had at once taken
charge of them, and had made his sister an allowance that enabled
her to live very comfortably. She had remained in Plymouth, as she
had many friends there.

Her daughter Carrie--who was six years older than Bob--had, four
years before, married Gerald O'Halloran, who was then a lieutenant
in the 58th Regiment, which was in garrison there. He had a small
income, derived from an estate in Ireland, besides his pay; but the
young couple would have been obliged to live very economically, had
it not been for the addition of the money settled on her by her
uncle.

Her mother had died, a few months after the marriage; and Mr. Bale
had at once placed Bob at the school, at Putney; and had announced
his intention of taking him, in due time, into his business. The
boy always spent one half of his holidays with his uncle, the other
with his sister. The former had been a trial, both to him and to
Mr. Bale. They saw but little of each other; for Mr. Bale, who,
like most business men of the time, lived over his offices, went
downstairs directly he had finished his breakfast, and did not come
up again until his work was over when, at five o'clock, he dined.
The meal over, he sometimes went out to the houses of friends, or
to the halls of one or other of the city companies to which he
belonged.

While Bob was with him, he told off one of the foremen in his
business to go about with the boy. The days, therefore, passed
pleasantly, as they generally went on excursions by water up or
down the river or, sometimes, when it was not otherwise required,
in a light cart used in the business, to Epping or Hainault Forest.
Bob was expected to be back to dinner and, thanks to the
foreman--who knew that his employer would not tolerate the smallest
unpunctuality--he always succeeded in getting back in time to wash
and change his clothes for dinner.

The meal was a very solemn one, Mr. Bale asking occasional
questions, to which Bob returned brief answers. Once or twice the
boy ventured upon some lively remark, but the surprise and
displeasure expressed in his uncle's face, at this breach of the
respectful silence then generally enforced upon the young, in the
presence of their elders, deterred him from often trying the
experiment.

Mr. Bale was as much bored as was Bob by these meals, and the
evenings that sometimes followed them. He would have been glad to
have chatted more freely with his nephew, but he was as ill at ease
with him, as he would have been with a young monkey. There was
nothing in common between them, and the few questions he asked were
the result of severe cogitation. He used to glance at the boy from
under his eyebrows, wonder what he was smiling to himself about,
and wish that he understood him better. It did not occur to him
that if he had drawn him out, and encouraged him to chatter as he
liked, he should get underneath the surface, and might learn
something of the nature hidden there. It was in sheer desperation,
at finding nothing to say, that he would often seize his hat and go
out, when he had quite made up his mind to stay indoors for the
evening.

Bob put up, as well as he could, with his meals and the dull
evenings, for the sake of the pleasant time he had during the day;
but he eagerly counted the hours until the time when he was to take
his place on the coach for Canterbury, where the 58th were now
quartered. He looked forward with absolute dread to the time when
he would have to enter his uncle's office.

"What is the use of being rich, Carrie," he would say to his
sister, "if one lives as uncle does? I would rather work in the
fields."

"Yes, Bob; but you see, when you get to be rich you needn't live in
the same way, at all. You could live as some traders do, in the
country at Hampstead, Dulwich, or Chelsea, and ride in to business;
and you can, of course, marry and enjoy life. One needn't live like
a hermit, all alone, because one is a trader in the city."

The one consolation Bob had was that his uncle had once said that
he considered it was a great advantage, to any young man going into
the wine trade, to go over to Spain or Portugal for two or three
years; to learn the whole routine of business there, to study the
different growths and know their values, and to form a connection
among the growers and shippers. Bob had replied gravely that he
thought this would certainly be a great advantage, and that he
hoped his uncle would send him over there.

"I shall see, when the time comes, Robert. It will, of course,
depend much upon the relations between this country and Spain and
Portugal; and also upon yourself. I could not, of course, let you
go out there until I was quite assured of your steadiness of
conduct. So far, although I have nothing to complain of, myself,
your schoolmaster's reports are by no means hopeful, on that head.
Still, we must hope that you will improve."

It was terrible to Bob to learn that he was to go, fifteen months
sooner than he had expected, to his uncle's; but he was somewhat
relieved when, upon his arrival at the house at Philpot Lane, his
uncle, after a very grave lecture on the enormity of his conduct at
school, said:

"I have been thinking, Robert, that it will be more pleasant, both
for you and for me, that you should not, at present, take up your
abode here. I am not accustomed to young people. It would worry me
having you here and, after your companionship with boys of your own
age, you might find it somewhat dull.

"I have therefore arranged with Mr. Medlin, my principal clerk, for
you to board with him. He has, I believe, some boys and girls of
about your own age. You will, I hope, be able to make yourself
comfortable there."

"Thank you, uncle," Bob said, suppressing his impulse to give a
shout of satisfaction, and looking as grave as possible. "I think
that would be a very nice arrangement."

"Mr. Medlin is a very trustworthy person," Mr. Bale went on. "He
has been with me for upwards of twenty years, and I have the
greatest confidence in him.

"You had better sit down here, and take a book. At five o'clock
come down into the counting house. Mr. Medlin will leave at that
hour."

Bob had hitherto avoided the counting house. He had occasionally,
on previous visits, slipped down to his friend the foreman; and had
wandered through the great cellars, and watched the men at work
bottling, and gazed in surprise at the long tiers of casks stacked
up to the roof of the cellar, and the countless bottles stowed away
in the bins. Once or twice he had gone down into the counting
house, with his uncle; and waited there a few minutes, until the
foreman was disengaged. He had noticed Mr. Medlin at work at his
high desk, in one corner--keeping, as it seemed to him, his eye
upon two young clerks, who sat on high stools at opposite sides of
the desk, on the other side of the office.

Mr. Medlin had a little rail round the top of his desk, and
curtains on rods that could be drawn round it. He was a man of six
or seven and thirty; with a long face, smooth shaven. He always
seemed absorbed in his work and, when spoken to by Mr. Bale,
answered in the fewest possible words, in an even, mechanical
voice. It had seemed to Bob that he had been entirely oblivious to
his presence; and it did not appear to him now, as he sat with a
book before him, waiting for the clock on the mantel to strike
five, that existence at Mr. Medlin's promised to be a lively one.
Still, as there were boys and girls, it must be more amusing than
it would be at his uncle's and, at any rate, the clerk would not be
so formidable a personage to deal with as Mr. Bale.

At one minute to five he went down, so as to open the counting
house door as the clock struck. As he went in through the outer
door, his uncle came out from the inner office.

"Ah! There you are, Robert.

"Mr. Medlin, this is my nephew who, as we have arranged, will take
up his residence with you. I am afraid you will find him somewhat
headstrong and troublesome. I have already informed you why it has
been necessary to remove him from school. However, I trust that
there will be no repetition of such follies; and that he will see
the necessity of abandoning schoolboy pranks, and settling down to
business."

"Yes, sir," Mr. Medlin replied, seeing that his employer expected
an answer.

Bob had noticed that, although the clerk's eyes were directed upon
him, there appeared to be no expression of interest or curiosity in
them; but that they might as well have been fixed upon a blank
wall.

"Your boxes have already been sent round in the cart to Mr.
Medlin's, Robert. I don't know that there is anything else to say.
Mr. Medlin will, of course, put you in the way of your duties here;
but if you have anything to say to me--any questions to ask, or any
remarks, connected with the business, or otherwise, you wish to
make--I shall always be ready to listen to you, if you will come
into the counting house at half past four."

So saying, Mr. Bale retired into his private room again. Mr. Medlin
placed his papers inside his desk, locked it, took off his coat and
hung it on a peg, put on another coat and his hat, and then turned
to Bob.

"Ready?"

"Quite ready."

Mr. Medlin led the way out of the counting house, and Bob followed.
Mr. Medlin walked fast, and Bob had to step out to keep up with
him. The clerk appeared scarcely conscious of his presence, until
they were beyond the more crowded thoroughfare, then he said:

"Two miles, out Hackney way. Not too far!"

"Not at all," Bob replied. "The farther the better."

"No burglars there. Wouldn't pay."

And Bob thought that the shadow of a smile passed across his face.

"We can do without them," Bob said.

"Hate coming here, I suppose?"

"That I do," Bob said, cordially.

Mr. Medlin nodded.

"Not so bad as it looks," he said, and then walked on again, in
silence.

Presently there was a break in the houses. They were getting beyond
the confines of business London.

"Do you see this little garden?" Mr. Medlin asked, suddenly, in a
tone so unlike that in which he had before spoken that Bob quite
started.

The lad looked at the little patch of ground, with some stunted
shrubs, but could see nothing remarkable in it.

"Yes, I see it, sir," he said.

"That, Bob," Mr. Medlin went on, "--for I suppose you are called
Bob--marks the end of all things."

Bob opened his eyes in astonishment, and again examined the little
garden.

"It marks, Bob, the delimitation between London and country,
between slavery and freedom. Here, every morning, I leave myself
behind; here, every evening, I recover myself--or, at least, a
considerable portion of myself--at a further mark, half a mile on,
I am completely restored.

"I suppose you used to find just the same thing, at the door of the
schoolroom?"

"A good deal, sir," Bob said, in a much brighter tone than he had
used, since he said goodbye to the fellows at Tulloch's.

"I am glad you feel like that. I expect you will get like that, as
to the city, in time; but mind, lad, you must always find yourself
again. You stick to that. You make a mark somewhere, leave yourself
behind in the morning, and pick yourself up again when you come
back. It is a bad thing for those who forget to do that. They might
as well hang themselves--better.

"In there," and he jerked his thumb back over his shoulder, "we are
all machines, you know. It isn't us, not a bit of it. There is just
the flesh, the muscle, the bones, and a frozen bit of our brains.
The rest of us is left behind. If, as we come out, we forget to
pick it up, we lose ourselves altogether, before long; and then
there we are, machines to the end of our lives. You remember that,
Bob. Keep it always in mind."

"It is a pity that my uncle didn't get the same advice, forty years
ago, Mr. Medlin."

"It is a pity my employer did not marry. It is a pity my employer
lives in that dull house, in that dull lane, all by himself," Mr.
Medlin said, angrily.

"But he has not got rid of himself, altogether. He is a good deal
frozen up; but he thaws out, sometimes. What a man he would be, if
he would but live out somewhere, and pick himself up regularly, as
I do, every day!

"This is my second mark, Bob, this tree growing out in the road.
Now, you see, we are pretty well in the country.

"Can you run?"

"Yes, I can run pretty well, Mr. Medlin."

"Very well, Bob. You see that tree growing out beyond that garden
wall, about four hundred yards on. It is four hundred and twenty,
for I have measured it. Now then, you walk on fifty yards, and then
run for your life. See if I don't catch you, before you are there."

Bob, wondering as he went along at the astounding change that had
come over his companion, took fifty long steps; then he heard a
shout of "Now!" and went off at the top of his speed. He was still
a hundred yards from the mark, when he heard steps coming rapidly
up behind him; and then the clerk dashed past him, and came in
fully twenty yards ahead.

"You don't run badly," he said, as Bob stopped, panting. "My Jack
generally comes to meet me, and I always give him seventy yards,
and only beat him by about as much as I do you. He couldn't come,
this afternoon. He is busy helping his mother to get things
straight. I expect we shall meet him, presently.

"Well, what are you laughing at?"

"I was just thinking how astonished my uncle would be, if he were
to see us."

Mr. Medlin gave a hearty laugh.

"Not so much as you would think, Bob. Five years ago, my employer
suddenly asked me, just as we were shutting up one afternoon, if I
was fond of fishing. I said that I used to be.

"He said, 'I am going down, for a fortnight, into Hampshire. I have
no one to go with--suppose you come with me.'

"I said, 'I will.'

"He said, 'Coach tomorrow morning, eight o'clock, Black Horse
Yard.'

"I was there. As we went over London Bridge I found myself, as
usual; and he found himself. I explained to him that I could not
help it. He said he didn't want me to help it. We had a glorious
fortnight together, and we have been out every year, since. He
never alludes to it, between times. No more do I. He is stiffer
than usual for a bit. So am I. But we both know each other.

"You do not suppose that he would have sent you to me, if he hadn't
known that I have got another side to me?"

"Well, I should not have thought," Bob said, "from the way he
talked, when he introduced me to you, that he ever had such an idea
in his mind."

"He was obliged to talk so," Mr. Medlin said, laughing. "We were
just machines at the time, both of us. But he talked in quite a
different way when we were down fishing together, three weeks ago.
He said then you were rather a pickle, and that he didn't think you
would do yourself any good where you were, so that he was going to
bring you up to business.

"'I don't want him to turn out a dull blockhead,' he said, 'and so
I propose that you should take charge of him, and teach him to keep
himself young. I wish I had done it, myself.'

"And so it was settled.

"There is no better employer in the city than your uncle. There is
not a man or boy about the place who isn't well paid, and
contented. I used to think myself a lucky man, before we went out
fishing together for the first time but, six months after that, he
gave me a rise that pretty well took my breath away.

"Ah! Here come the young uns."

A couple of minutes later, four young people ran up. There was a
boy about Bob's age, a girl a year younger, a boy, and another
girl, in regular steps. They greeted their father with a joyous
shout of welcome.

"So you have got everything done," he said. "I thought you would
meet me somewhere here.

"This is Bob Repton, my employer's nephew, and future member of the
firm. Treat him with all respect, and handle him gently. He is a
desperate fellow, though he doesn't look it. This is the young
gentleman I told you of, who made a night expedition and captured
four burglars."

After this introduction, Bob was heartily shaken by the hand, all
round; and the party proceeded on their way, the two girls holding
their father's hand, the boys walking behind, with Bob, who was so
surprised at the unexpected turn affairs had taken that, for a
time, he almost lost his usual readiness of speech.



Chapter 3: An Unexpected Journey.


Hawthorne Cottage, Mr. Medlin's abode, was a pretty little house,
standing detached in a good-sized garden, surrounded by a high
wall.

"Here we are, mother," the clerk said, as he led the way into a
cozy room, where tea was laid upon the table, while a bright fire
blazed in the grate.

A very pleasant-faced lady, who did not look to Bob more than
thirty--although she must have been four or five years older--greeted
her husband affectionately.

"My dear," he said, "in the exuberance of your feelings, you forget
that I have brought you home a visitor. This is Mr. Robert Repton.
While he is resident in the house, he may be greeted as Bob. We had
a race, and he runs faster than Jack; fifty yards, in four hundred
and twenty, is the utmost I can give him."

"What nonsense you do talk, Will!" his wife said, laughing. "I am
sure Master Repton must think you out of your mind."

"It is a very jolly way of being out of his mind, Mrs. Medlin. You
don't know how pleased I am."

"He thought I was an ogre, my dear, and that you were an ogress.

"Now let the banquet be served; for I am hungry, and I expect Bob
is, too. As for the children, they are always hungry--at least, it
seems so."

It was a merry meal, and Bob thought he had never enjoyed one as
much, except at his sister's. After tea they had music; and he
found that Mr. Medlin performed admirably on the violin, his wife
played the spinet, Jack the clarionet, and Sophy--the eldest
girl--the piccolo.

"She is going to learn the harp, presently," Mr. Medlin explained;
"but for the present, when we have no visitors--and I don't count
you one, after this evening--she plays the piccolo. She is a little
shy about it, but shyness is the failing of my family."

"It is very jolly," Bob said. "I wish I could play an instrument."

"We will see about it, in time, Bob. We want a French horn; but I
don't see, at present, where you are to practise."

"Has uncle ever been here?" Bob asked, late in the evening.

"Yes, he came here the evening we got back from our fishing
expedition. He wanted to see the place, before he finally settled
about you coming here. My wife was a little afraid of him; but
there was no occasion, and everything went off capitally--except
that Sophy would not produce her piccolo. I walked back with him,
till he came upon a hackney coach.

"He said as he got in, 'I have spent a most pleasant evening,
Medlin. You are a very lucky fellow.'

"I went back to work the next morning, and we both dropt into the
old groove; and nothing more was said until yesterday, when he
informed me that you would come, today."

"Oh, dear!" Bob said, as he started with the clerk, at eight
o'clock on the following morning. "Now I am going to begin at that
wretched counting house."

"No, you are not, Bob. You are not coming in there, at present.
When your uncle and I were talking--when we were fishing, you
know--he said that he saw no use in your going in there, at
present; and thought it would be quite time for you to learn how
the books are kept, in another three or four years; and that, till
then, you could go into the cellar. You will learn bottling, and
packing, and blending, and something about the quality and value of
wines. You will find it much more pleasant than being shut up in a
counting house, making out bills and keeping ledgers."

"A great deal," Bob said, joyfully. "I sha'n't mind that at all."

Bob observed a noticeable change in his companion's demeanour, when
he arrived at the tree and, on passing the last garden, his face
assumed a stolid expression; his brisk, springy walk settled down
into a business pace; his words became few; and he was again a
steady, and mechanical, clerk.

A fortnight later, Bob was summoned to the counting house.

"Mr. Bale wishes to see you," Mr. Medlin said.

Bob entered, wondering what he was wanted for.

"I received a subpoena, a week ago, Robert, for you to attend as a
witness at Kingston tomorrow. These interruptions to business are
very annoying. I did not mention it to you before for, if I had
done so, you would be thinking of nothing else.

"This morning I have received a letter from Admiral Langton,
requesting me to allow you to go down by the stage, this afternoon,
and to sleep at his house. He will take you over, in the morning;
and you will sleep there again, tomorrow night, and come back by
the early stage.

"I trust that you will endeavour to curb your exuberance of
spirits. This is a very grave matter, and anything like levity
would be altogether out of place.

"The letter says that the stage leaves the Bell Tavern at four
o'clock."

Bob replied, gravely, that he would be there in time; and went off
to his work again, until twelve o'clock.

When he arrived at the admiral's, at a quarter to six, a lad in
midshipman's uniform came rushing out into the hall.

"Hulloa, Bob!"

"Why, Jim!--but no, I suppose I ought to say Mr. James Sankey, to
an officer of your importance. How comes it, sir, that you are so
soon attired in His Majesty's uniform?"

"I will punch your head, Bob, if you go on with that nonsense.

"But I say, isn't it jolly? The very afternoon after you left came
down a big letter, with a tremendous seal; and therein I was
informed that I was appointed to His Majesty's ship Brilliant, and
was ordered to join immediately. Of course, I did not know what to
do, so I came up here; and who do you think I found here? Captain
Langton, the admiral's son, who is in command of the Brilliant.

"Of course, it was he who had got me the appointment. He was very
kind, and told me that I could not join until after this trial; so
that I could go down home, and stop there, till today; and the
admiral sent me straight off, to be measured for my uniform. When I
started, next day, he gave me a letter to my father--an awfully
nice letter it was, saying that he intended to present me with my
first outfit. I got here about an hour ago, and have been putting
on my uniform, to see how it fitted."

"You mean to see how you looked in it, Jim? It looks first rate. I
wish I was in one too, and was going with you, instead of sticking
in Philpot Lane."

"I am awfully sorry for you, Bob. It must be beastly."

"Well, it is not so bad as I expected, Jim, and uncle is turning
out much better; and I don't live there, but with the head clerk,
out at Hackney. He is an awfully jolly sort of fellow--you never
saw such a rum chap. I will tell you all about it, afterwards.

"I suppose I ought to go in, and see the admiral."

"He is out, at present, Bob. He will be back at eight o'clock to
supper, so you can come up and tell me all about it. Captain
Langton is here, too."

Captain Langton spoke very kindly to Bob, when the two boys came
down to supper; and told him that if, at any time, he changed his
mind, and there was a vacancy for a midshipman on board his ship,
he would give him the berth.

"I should be very glad to have you with me," he said, "after the
service you rendered my father and sister."

On the following morning, Fullarton and Wharton came up from the
school, and two carriages conveyed the witnesses over to Kingston.
The prisoners, Bob heard, were notorious and desperate criminals,
whom the authorities had long been anxious to lay hands on. The
butler was one of the gang, and had obtained his post by means of a
forged character. The trial only occupied two hours for, taken in
the act as the men were, there was no defence whatever. All four
were sentenced to be hung, and the judge warmly complimented the
four boys upon their conduct in the matter.

The next morning, Bob returned to his work in the city.

For the next three months, his existence was a regular one. On
arriving in the cellar, he took off his jacket and put on a large
apron, that completely covered him; and from that time until five
o'clock he worked with the other boys: bottling, packing, storing
the bottles away in the bins, or taking them down as required. He
learned, from the foreman, something of the localities from which
the wine came, their value and prices; but had not begun to
distinguish them by taste, or bouquet. Mr. Bale, the foreman said,
had given strict orders that he was not to begin tasting, at
present.

Three days before Christmas, one of the clerks brought him down
word that Mr. Bale wished to see him in the office, at five
o'clock.

During the three, months he had scarcely spoken to his uncle. The
latter had nodded to him, whenever he came into the cellar; and had
regularly said, "Well, Robert, how are you getting on?"

To which he had, as regularly, replied, "Very well, uncle."

He supposed that the present meeting was for the purpose of
inviting him to dine at Philpot Lane, on Christmas Day; and
although he knew that he should enjoy the festivity more, at
Hackney, he was prepared to accept it very willingly.

"I have sent for you, Robert," Mr. Bale said, when he entered his
office, "to say that your sister has written to ask me to go down
to spend Christmas with her, at Portsmouth. As her husband's
regiment is on the point of going abroad, I have decided on
accepting her invitation and, for the same reason, I shall take you
down with me. You will therefore have your box packed, tonight. I
shall send down a cart to fetch it, tomorrow. You will sleep here
tomorrow night, and we start the next morning."

"Thank you very much, uncle," Bob said, in delight; and then,
seeing that nothing further was expected of him, he ran off to join
Mr. Medlin, who was waiting for him outside.

"What do you think, Mr. Medlin? I am going down to spend Christmas
at my sister's."

"Ah!" the clerk said, in a dull unsympathetic voice. "Well, mind
how you walk, Mr. Robert. It does not look well, coming out from a
place of business as if you were rushing out of school."

Bob knew well enough that it was no use, whatever, trying to get
his companion to take any interest in matters unconnected with
business, at present; so he dropped into his regular pace, and did
not open his lips again, until they had passed the usual boundary.

Then Mr. Medlin said, briskly, "So you are going down to your
sister's, Bob!"

"Yes, that will be first rate, won't it? Of course, I went down in
the summer to Canterbury, and hardly expected to go again this
year. As I have only been three months here, I did not even think
of going.

"It will be the last holiday I shall have, for some time. You know
Carrie said, when she wrote to me a month ago, that the regiment
expected to be ordered abroad soon; and uncle said it is on the
point of going, now.

"He is coming down with me."

His voice fell a little, at this part of the announcement.

"He is, eh? You think you will have to be on your best behaviour,
Bob?"

"Before you told me about him, Mr. Medlin, I should have thought it
would quite spoil the holiday. But I do not feel it so bad, now."

"He will be all right, Bob. You have never seen him outside the
city, yet. Still, I shouldn't be up to any tricks with him, you
know, if I were you--shouldn't put cobbler's wax on his pigtail, or
anything of that sort."

"As if I should think of such a thing, Mr. Medlin!"

"Well, I don't know, Bob. You have made Jack pretty nearly as wild
as you are, yourself. You are quite a scandal to the neighbourhood,
you two. You nearly frightened those two ladies next door into
fits, last week, by carrying in that snowman, and sticking it up in
their garden, when you knew they were out. I thought they were both
going to have fits, when they rushed in to tell me there was a
ghost in their garden."

"I believe you suggested it yourself, Mr. Medlin," Bob said,
indignantly. "Besides, it served them right, for coming in to
complain that we had thrown stones and broken their window, when we
had done nothing of the sort."

"It was rather lucky for you that they did so, Bob; for you see, we
were all so indignant, then, that they didn't venture to accuse you
of the snowman business--though I have no doubt they were
convinced, in their own minds, that it was you. But that is only
one out of twenty pranks that you and Jack have been up to."

"Jack and I and someone else, Mr Medlin. We carry them out, but I
think someone else always suggests them."

"Not suggest, Bob--far from it. If I happen to say that it would be
a most reprehensible thing if anyone were to do something, somehow
or other that is the very thing that Jack and you do. It was only
last week I said that it would be a very objectionable trick if
anyone was to tie paper bands round the neck of the clergyman's
black cat--who is always stealing our chickens--and to my surprise,
the next morning, when we started for business, there was quite a
crowd outside his house, watching the cat calmly sitting over the
porch, with white bands round its neck. Now, that is an example of
what I mean."

"Quite so, Mr. Medlin, that is just what I meant, too; and it was
much better than throwing stones at him. It is a savage beast,
though it does look so demure; and scratched Jack's hand and mine,
horribly, when we were tying on the bands."

At the tree the others met them, and they laughed and chatted all
the way back; the young ones expressing much regret, however, that
Bob was to be away at Christmas.

At the appointed time, Mr. Bale and Bob took their places on the
coach. The latter felt a little oppressed; for his uncle had, the
evening before, been putting him through a sort of examination as
to the value of wines; and had been exceedingly severe when Bob had
not acquitted himself to his satisfaction, but had mixed up Malaga
with Madeira, and had stated that a French wine was grown near
Cadiz.

"I expect I shall know them better when I get to taste them," Bob
had urged, in excuse. "When you don't know anything about the
wines, it is very difficult to take an interest in them. It is like
learning that a town in India is on the Ganges. You don't care
anything about the town, and you don't care anything about the
Ganges; and you are sure to mix it up, next time, with some other
town on some other river."

"If those are your ideas, Robert, I think you had better go to
bed," Mr. Bale had said, sternly; and Bob had gone to bed, and had
thought what a nuisance it was that his uncle was going down to
Portsmouth, just when he wanted to be jolly with Carrie and her
husband for the last time.

Little had been said at breakfast, and it was not until the coach
was rattling along the high road, and the last house had been left
behind him, that Bob's spirits began to rise. There had been a
thaw, a few days before, and the snow had disappeared; but it was
now freezing sharply again.

"The air is brisk. Do you feel it cold, Robert?" Mr. Bale said,
breaking silence for the first time.

"I feel cold about the toes, and about the ears and nose, uncle,"
Bob said, "but I am not very likely to feel cold, anywhere else."

His uncle looked down at the boy, who was wedged in between him and
a stout woman.

"Well, no," he agreed; "you are pretty closely packed. You had
better pull that muffler over your ears more. It was rather
different weather when you went down to Canterbury in the summer."

"That it was," Bob replied, heartily. "It was hot and dusty, just;
and there were a man and woman, sitting opposite, who kept on
drinking out of a bottle, every five minutes. She had a baby with
her, too, who screamed almost all the way. I consider I saved that
baby's life."

"How was that, Robert?"

"Well you see, uncle, they had finished their bottle by the time we
got to Sevenoaks; and we all got down for dinner there and, before
we sat down, the man went to the bar and got it filled up again. A
pint of gin, filled up with water--I heard him order it. He put it
in the pocket of his coat, and hung the coat up on a peg when he
sat down to dinner.

"I was not long over my dinner, and finished before they did; and I
took the bottle out, and ran out to the yard and emptied it, and
filled it up with water, and put it back in the pocket again,
without his noticing it.

"You should have seen what a rage he was in, when he took his first
sip from the bottle, after we had started. He thought the man at
the inn had played him a trick, and he stood up and shouted to the
coachman to turn back again; but of course he wasn't going to do
that, and every one laughed--except the woman. I think she had had
more than was good for her, already, and she cried for about an
hour.

"The next two places where we changed horses, we did it so quick
that the man hadn't time to get down. The third place he did and,
though the guard said we shouldn't stop a minute, he went into the
public house. The guard shouted, but he didn't come out, and off we
went without him. Then he came out running, and waving his arms,
but the coachman wouldn't stop. The woman got down, with the child,
at the next place we changed horses; and I suppose they went on
next day and, if they started sober, they did perhaps get to Dover
all right."

"That was a very nasty trick," the woman, who was sitting next to
Bob, said sharply.

Bob had noticed that she had already opened a basket on her lap,
and had partaken of liquid refreshment.

"But you see, I saved the baby, ma'am," Bob said, humbly. "The
woman was sitting at the end and, if she had taken her share of the
second bottle, the chances are she would have dropped the baby. It
was a question of saving life, you see."

Bob felt a sudden convulsion in his uncle's figure.

"It is all very well to talk in that way," the woman said, angrily.
"It was just a piece of impudence, and you ought to have been
flogged for it. I have no patience with such impudent doings. A
wasting of good liquor, too."

"I don't think, madam," Mr. Bale said, "it was as much wasted as it
would have been, had they swallowed it; for at least it did no
harm. I cannot see myself why, because people get outside a coach,
they should consider it necessary to turn themselves into hogs."

"I will trouble you to keep your insinuations to yourself," the
woman said, in great indignation. "You ought to be ashamed of
yourself, at your age, encouraging a boy in such ways. There is
them as can stand the cold, and there's them as can't; and a little
good liquor helps them, wonderful. I am sich, myself."

And she defiantly took out her bottle from her basket, and applied
it to her lips.

"I was not speaking personally, my good woman," Mr. Bale said.

"I would have you to know," the woman snapped, "that I ain't your
good woman. I wouldn't demean myself to the like. I will ask this
company if it is right as a unprotected female should be insulted,
on the outside of one of His Majesty's mails?"

The other passengers, who had been struggling with their laughter,
endeavoured to pacify her with the assurance that no insult had
been meant; and as Mr. Bale made no reply, she subsided into
silence, grumbling occasionally to herself.

"I am a-going down," she broke out, presently, "to meet my husband,
and I don't mind who knows it. He is a warrant officer, he is, on
board the Latona, as came in last week with two prizes. There ain't
nothing to be ashamed of, in that.

"And I will thank you, boy," she said, turning sharply upon Bob,
"not to be a-scrouging me so. I pay for my place, I do."

"I think you ought to pay for two places," Bob said. "I am sure you
have got twice as much room as I have. And if there is any
scrouging, it isn't me."

"Would you have any objection, sir," the woman said majestically,
to a man sitting on the other side of her, "to change places with
me? I ain't a-going to bear no longer with the insults of this boy,
and of the person as calls himself a man, a-sitting next to him."

The change was effected, to Bob's great satisfaction.

"You see, Robert, what you have brought down upon me," Mr. Bale
said. "This comes of your telling stories about bottles, when there
is a woman with one in her basket next to you."

"I really was not thinking of her when I spoke, uncle. But I am
glad, now, for I really could hardly breathe, before.

"Why, uncle, I had no idea you smoked!" he added, as Mr. Bale took
a cigar case from his pocket.

"I do not smoke, when I am in the city, Robert; but I see no harm
in a cigar--in fact I like one--at other times. I observed a long
pipe on the mantelpiece, at Mr. Medlin's; and indeed, I have seen
that gentleman smoke, when we have been out together, but I have
never observed him indulging in that habit, in the city."

"Oh, yes! He smokes at home," Bob said.

"I have great confidence in Mr. Medlin, Robert. You have been
comfortable with him, I hope?"

"Could not be more comfortable, sir."

"An excellent man of business, Robert, and most trustworthy. A
serious-minded man."

Bob was looking up, and saw a little twinkle in Mr. Bale's eye.

"You don't find it dull, I hope?"

"Not at all dull, sir. Mr. Medlin and his family are very musical."

"Musical, are they, Robert?" Mr. Bale said, in a tone of surprise.
"As far as I have seen in the counting house, I should not have
taken him to be musical."

"No, I don't think you would, uncle. Just the same way as one
wouldn't think it likely that you would smoke a cigar."

"Well, no, Robert. You see, one must not always go by appearances."

"No, sir; that is just what Mr. Medlin says," Bob replied, smiling.

"Oh, he says that, does he? I suppose he has been telling you that
we go out fishing together?"

"He did mention that, sir."

"You must not always believe what Medlin says, Robert."

"No, sir? I thought you told me he was perfectly trustworthy?"

"In some points, boy; but it is notorious that, from all times, the
narratives of fishermen must be received with a large amount of
caution. The man who can be trusted with untold gold cannot be
relied upon to give, with even an approach to accuracy, the weights
of the fish he has caught; and indeed, all his statements with
reference to the pursuit must be taken with a large discount.

"You were surprised, when you heard that I went fishing, Robert?"

"Not more surprised than I was when you lit your cigar, sir."

"Well, you know what Horace said, Robert. I forget what it was in
the Latin, but it meant:

"'He is a poor soul, who never rejoices.'

"The bow must be relaxed, Robert, or it loses its stiffness and
spring. I, myself, always bear this in mind; and endeavour to
forget that there is such a place as the city of London, or a place
of business called Philpot Lane, directly I get away from it."

"Don't you think that you could forget, too, uncle, that the name I
am known by in the city is Robert; and that my name, at all other
times, is Bob?"

"I will try to do so, if you make a point of it," Mr. Bale said,
gravely; "but at the same time, it appears to me that Bob is a name
for a short-tailed sheepdog, rather than for a boy."

"I don't mind who else is called by it, uncle. Besides, sheepdogs
are very useful animals."

"They differ from boys in one marked respect, Bob."

"What is that, uncle?"

"They always attend strictly to business, lad. They are most
conscientious workers. Now, this is more than can be said for
boys."

"But I don't suppose the sheepdogs do much, while they are puppies,
uncle."

"Humph! I think you have me there, Bob. I suppose we must make
allowances for them both.

"Well, we shall be at Guildford in half an hour, and will stop
there for dinner. I shall not be sorry to get down to stamp my feet
a bit. It is very cold here, in spite of these rugs."

It was seven o'clock in the evening when the coach drew up at the
George Hotel, in Portsmouth. Captain O'Halloran was at the door to
meet them.

"Well, Mr. Bale, you have had a coldish drive down, today.

"How are you, Bob?"

"At present, I am cold," Bob said. "The last two hours have been
bitter."

"I have taken bedrooms here for you, Mr. Bale. There is no barrack
accommodation, at present, for everyone is back from leave. Any
other time, we could have put you up.

"Now, if you will point out your baggage, my man will see it taken
up to your rooms; and you can come straight on to me. Carrie has
got supper ready, and a big fire blazing. It is not three minutes'
walk from here."

They were soon seated at table and, after the meal was over, they
drew round the fire.

"So you have really become a man of business, Bob," his sister
said. "I was very glad to hear, from your letter, that you liked it
better than you expected."

"But it will be a long while, yet, before he is a man of business,
niece. It is like having a monkey in a china shop. The other day I
went down to the cellar, just in time to see him put down a bottle
so carelessly that it tumbled over. Unfortunately there was a row
of them he had just filled; and a dozen went down, like ninepins.
The corks had not been put in, and half the contents were lost
before they could be righted. And the wine was worth eighty
shillings a dozen."

"And what can you expect of him, Mr. Bale?" Gerald O'Halloran said.
"Is it a spalpeen like that you would trust with the handling of
good wine? I would as soon set a cat to bottle milk."

"He is young for it, yet," Mr. Bale agreed. "But when a boy amuses
himself by breaking out of school at three o'clock in the morning,
and fighting burglars, what are you to do with him?"

"I should give him a medal, for his pluck, Mr. Bale; and let him do
something where he would have a chance of showing his spirit."

"And make him as wild and harum-scarum as you are, yourself,
O'Halloran; and then expect him to turn out a respectable merchant,
afterwards? I am sure I don't wish to be troubled with him, till he
has got rid of what you call his spirits; but what are you to do
with such a pickle as this? There have been more bottles broken,
since he came, than there ordinarily are in the course of a year;
and I suspect him of corrupting my chief clerk, and am in mortal
apprehension that he will be getting into some scrape, at Hackney,
and make the place too hot for him.

"I never gave you credit for much brains, Carrie, but how it was
you let your brother grow up like this is more than I can tell."

Although this all sounded serious, Bob did not feel at all alarmed.
Carrie, however, thought that her uncle was greatly vexed, and
tried to take up the cudgels in his defence.

"I am sure Bob does not mean any harm, uncle."

"I did not say that he did, niece; but if he does harm, it comes to
the same thing.

"Well, we need not talk about that now. So I hear that you are
going out to the Mediterranean?"

"Yes, uncle, to Gibraltar. It is a nice station, everyone says, and
I am very pleased. There are so many places where there is fighting
going on, now, that I think we are most fortunate in going there. I
was so afraid the regiment might be sent either to America, or
India."

"And I suppose you would rather have gone where there was fighting,
O'Halloran?"

"I would," the officer said, promptly. "What is the use of your
going into the army, if you don't fight?"

"I should say, what is the use of going into the army, at all?" Mr.
Bale said, testily. "Still, I suppose someone must go."

"I suppose so, sir," Captain O'Halloran said, laughing. "If it were
not for the army and navy, I fancy you trading gentlemen would very
soon find the difference. Besides, there are some of us born to it.
I should never have made a figure in the city, for instance."

"I fancy not," Mr. Bale said, dryly. "You will understand,
O'Halloran, that I am not objecting in the slightest to your being
in the army. My objection solely lies in the fact that you, being
in the army, should have married my niece; and that, instead of
coming to keep house for me, comfortably, she is going to wander
about, with you, to the ends of the earth."

Carrie laughed.

"How do you know someone else would not have snapped me up, if he
hadn't, uncle?"

"That is right, Carrie.

"You would have found her twice as difficult to manage as Bob, Mr.
Bale. You would never have kept her in Philpot Lane, if I hadn't
taken her. There are some people can be tamed down, and there are
some who can't; and Carrie is one of the latter.

"I should pity you, from my heart, if you had her on your hands,
Mr. Bale. If ever I get to be a colonel, it is she will command the
regiment."

"Well, it is good that one of us should have sense, Gerald," his
wife said, laughing. "And now, you had better put the whisky on the
table, unless uncle would prefer some mulled port wine."

"Neither one nor the other, my dear. Your brother is half asleep,
now, and it is as much as I can do to keep my eyes open. After the
cold ride we have had, the sooner we get back to the George, the
better.

"We will breakfast there, Carrie. I don't know what your hours are
but, when I am away on a holiday, I always give myself a little
extra sleep. Besides, your husband will, I suppose, have to be on
duty; and I have no doubt it will suit you, as well as me, for us
to breakfast at the George."

"Perhaps it will be better, uncle, if you don't mind. Gerald
happens to be orderly officer for the day, and will have to get his
breakfast as he can, and will be busy all the morning; but I shall
be ready for you by ten."

At that hour Bob appeared, alone.

"Uncle won't come round till one o'clock, Carrie. He said he should
take a quiet stroll round, by himself, and look at the ships; and
that, no doubt, we should like to have a talk together."

"Is he very cross with you, Bob?" she asked, anxiously. "You know
he really is kind at heart, very kind; but I am afraid he must be
very hard, as a master."

"Not a bit, Carrie. I expected he was going to be so, but he isn't
the least like that. He is very much liked by everyone there. He
doesn't say much, and he certainly looks stiff and grim enough for
anything; but he isn't so, really, not a bit."

"Didn't he scold you dreadfully about your upsetting those twelve
bottles of wine?"

"He never said a word about it, and I did not know at the time he
had seen me. John, the foreman--the one who used to take me out in
the holidays--would not have said anything about it. He said, of
course accidents did happen, sometimes, with the boys; and when
they did, he himself blew them up, and there was no occasion to
mention it to Mr. Bale, when it wasn't anything very serious. But
of course, I could not have that; and said that either he must tell
uncle, or I should.

"It really happened because my fingers were so cold I could not
feel the bottle. Of course the cellar is not cold, but I had been
outside, taking in a waggon load of bottles that had just arrived,
and counting them, and my fingers got regularly numbed.

"So John went to the counting house, and told him about the wine
being spilt. He said I wished him to tell him, and how it had
happened."

"What did uncle say, Bob?"

"He said he was glad to hear that I told John to tell him; but that
he knew it already, for he had just come down to the cellar when
the bottles went over and, as he didn't wish to interfere with the
foreman's work, had come back to the counting house without anyone
noticing he had been there. He said, of course boys could not be
trusted like men; and that, as he had chosen to put me there, he
must put up with accidents. He never spoke about it to me, till
last night."

"Well, he seemed very vexed about it, Bob, and made a great deal of
it."

"He didn't mean it, Carrie; and he knew I knew he didn't mean it.
He knows I am beginning to understand him."

That evening, Mr. Bale sent Bob back to the hotel by himself.

"I thought I would get him out of the way," he said, when Bob had
left. "I wanted to have a chat with you about him.

"You see, Carrie, I acted hastily in taking him away from school;
but it seemed to me that he must be getting into a very bad groove,
to be playing such pranks as breaking out in the middle of the
night. I was sorry, afterwards; partly because it had upset all my
plans, partly because I was not sure that I had done the best thing
by him.

"I had intended that he should have stopped for another year, at
school; by that time he would be between sixteen and seventeen, and
I thought of taking him into the office for six months or so, to
begin with, for him to learn a little of the routine. Then I had
intended to send him out to Oporto, for two years, and then to
Cadiz for two years; so that he would have learnt Portuguese and
Spanish well, got up all there was to learn about the different
growths, and established friendly relations with my agents.

"Now, as it happens, all these plans have been upset. My agent at
Oporto died, a month ago. His son succeeds him. He is a young man,
and not yet married. In the first place, I don't suppose he would
care about being bothered with Bob; and in the second place, boys
of Bob's age are not likely to submit very quietly to the authority
of a foreigner. Then, too, your brother is full of mischief and
fun; and I don't suppose foreigners would understand him, in the
least, and he would get into all manner of scrapes.

"My correspondent at Cadiz is an elderly man, without a family, and
the same objection would arise in his case; and moreover, from what
I hear from him and from other Spanish sources, there is a strong
feeling against England in Spain and, now that we are at war with
France, and have troubles in America, I think it likely enough they
will join in against us. Of course my correspondent writes
cautiously, but in his last letter he strongly advises me to buy
largely, at once, as there is no saying about the future; and
several of my friends in the trade have received similar advice.

"I have put the boy into the cellar for, at the moment, I could see
nothing else to do with him. But really, the routine he is learning
is of little importance, and there is no occasion for him to learn
to do these things himself. He would pick up all he wants to know
there, when he came back, in a very short time."

"Then what are you thinking of doing, uncle?" Carrie asked, after a
pause, as she saw that Mr. Bale expected her to say something.

"It seems to me that a way has opened out of the difficulty. I
don't want him to go back to school again. He knows quite as much
Latin as is required, in an importer of wines. I want him to learn
Spanish and Portuguese, and to become a gentleman, and a man of the
world. I have stuck to Philpot Lane, all my life; but there is no
reason why he should do so, after me. Things are changing in the
city, and many of our merchants no longer live there, but have
houses in the country, and drive or ride to them. Some people shake
their heads over what they call newfangled notions. I think it is
good for a man to get right away from his business, when he has
done work.

"But this is not the point. Bob is too young to begin to learn the
business abroad. Two years too young, at least. But there is no
reason why he should not begin to learn Spanish. Now, I thought if
I could find someone I could intrust him to, where his home would
be bright and pleasant, he might go there for a couple of years.
Naturally I should be prepared to pay a fair sum--say 200 pounds a
year--for him, for of course no one is going to be bothered with a
boy, without being paid for it."

Carrie listened for something further to come. Then her husband
broke in:

"I see what you are driving at, Mr. Bale, and Carrie and myself
would be delighted to have him.

"Don't you see, Carrie? Your uncle means that Bob shall stop with
us, and learn the language there."

"That would be delightful!" Carrie exclaimed, enthusiastically. "Do
you really mean that, uncle?"

"That is really what I do mean, niece. It seems to me that that is
the very best thing we could do with the young scamp."

"It would be capital!" Carrie went on. "It is what I should like
above everything."

"A nicer arrangement couldn't be, Mr. Bale. It will suit us all.
Bob will learn the language, he will be a companion to Carrie when
I am on duty, and we will make a man of him. But he won't be able
to go out with us, I am afraid. Officers' wives and families get
their passages in the transports, but I am afraid it would be no
use to ask for one for Bob. Besides, we sail in four days."

"No, I will arrange about his passage, and so on.

"Well, I am glad that my proposal suits you both. The matter has
been worrying me for the last three months, and it is a comfort
that it is off my mind.

"I will go back to my hotel now. I will send Bob round in the
morning, and you can tell him about it."



Chapter 4: Preparations For A Voyage.


Bob went round to the barracks at half past nine.

"Uncle says you have a piece of news to tell me, Carrie."

"My dear Bob," Captain O'Halloran said, "your uncle is a broth of a
boy. He would do credit to Galway; and if anyone says anything to
the contrary, I will have him out tomorrow morning."

"What has he been doing?" Bob asked.

"I told you, Carrie, yesterday, he wasn't a bit like what he
seemed."

"Well, Bob, you are not going to stay at his place of business any
longer."

"No! Where is he going to send me--to school again? I am not sure I
should like that, Carrie. I didn't want to leave, but I don't think
I should like to go back to Caesar, and Euclid, and all those
wretched old books again."

"Well, you are not going, Bob."

"Hurry up, Carrie!" her husband said. "Don't you see that you are
keeping the boy on thorns? Tell him the news, without beating about
the bush."

"Well, it is just this, Bob. You are to come out for two years to
live with us, at Gibraltar, and learn Spanish."

Bob threw his cap up to the ceiling, with a shout of delight;
executed a wild dance, rushed at his sister and kissed her
violently, and shook hands with her husband.

"That is glorious!" he said, when he had sufficiently recovered
himself for speech. "I said uncle was a brick, didn't I? But I
never dreamt of such a thing as this."

"He is going to pay, very handsomely, while you are with us, Bob,
so it will be really a great help to us. Besides, we will like to
have you with us. But you will have to work hard at Spanish, you
know."

"Oh, I will work hard," Bob said, confidently.

"And be very steady," Captain O'Halloran said, gravely.

"Of course," Bob replied. "But who are you going to hire to teach
me that?"

"You are an impudent boy, Bob," his sister said, while Captain
O'Halloran burst out laughing.

"Sure, he has us both there, Carrie. I wonder your uncle did not
make a proviso that we were to get one of the padres to look after
him."

"As if I would let a Spanish priest look after me!" Bob said.

"I didn't mean a Spanish priest, Bob. I meant one of the army
chaplains. We always call them padres.

"That would be worth thinking about, Carrie."

"Oh, I say," Bob exclaimed in alarm, "that would spoil it,
altogether!"

"Well, we will see how you go on, Bob. We may not find it
necessary, you know; but you will find you have to mind your P's
and Q's, at Gib. It is a garrison place, you know, and they won't
stand nonsense there. If you played any tricks, they would turn you
outside the lines, or send you up to one of the caverns to live
with the apes."

"Are there apes?" Bob asked, eagerly. "They would be awful fun, I
should think. I have seen them at Exeter 'Change."

"There are apes, Bob; but if you think you are going to get near
enough to put salt on their tails, you are mistaken."

"But am I going out with you?" Bob asked. "Why, tomorrow is
Christmas Day, and you sail two days after, don't you? And I
shouldn't have time even to go up to town, and down to Putney, to
say goodbye to the fellows. I should like to do that, and tell them
that I am going abroad."

"You are not going with us, Bob, and you will have time for all
that. We could not take you in the transport, and uncle will
arrange for a passage for you, in some ship going out. Of course,
he knows all about vessels trading with Spain."

"Well, we sha'n't have to say goodbye, now," Bob said. "I haven't
said much about it, but I have been thinking a lot about how horrid
it would be, after being so jolly here, to have to say goodbye;
knowing that I shouldn't see you again, for years and years. Now
that is all over."

A few minutes later, Mr. Bale came in. He had assumed his most
businesslike expression, but Bob rushed up to him.

"Oh, uncle, I am so obliged to you! It is awfully kind."

"I thought the arrangement would be a suitable one," Mr. Bale
began.

"No, no, uncle," Bob broke in. "You would say that, if you were in
Philpot Lane. Now you know you can say that you thought it would be
the very jolliest thing that was ever heard of."

"I am afraid, niece, that the sentiment of respect for his elders
is not strongly developed in Bob."

"I am afraid not, uncle; but you see, if elders set an example of
being double-faced to their nephews, they must expect to forfeit
their respect."

"And it is a lot better being liked than being respected, isn't it,
uncle?"

"Perhaps it is, Bob, but the two things may go together."

"So they do, uncle. Only I keep my respect for Philpot Lane, and it
is all liking, here."

They spent two more delightful days at Portsmouth; visited some of
the ships of war, and the transport in which the 58th was to sail,
and went over the dockyard. The next morning, Mr. Bale and Bob
returned by the early coach to London, as the boxes and trunks and
the portable furniture had to be sent off, early, on board.

Mr. Medlin was less surprised, at hearing that Bob was going to
leave, than the latter had expected.

"You know, Bob, I was away one day last week. Well, I didn't tell
you at the time where I was, because I was ordered not to; but your
uncle said to me, the evening before:

"'I am going to drive down by coach to Windsor, Mr. Medlin, and
shall be glad if you will accompany me.'

"I guessed he wanted to talk about things outside the business, and
so it was. We had a capital dinner down there, and then we had a
long talk about you. I told him frankly that, though I was very
glad to have you with me, I really did not see that it was of any
use your being kept at that work. He said that he thought so, too,
and had an idea on which he wanted my opinion. He was thinking of
accepting your sister's invitation to go down and spend Christmas
with her; and intended to ask her if they would take charge of you,
for a couple of years, in order that you might learn Spanish. Of
course, I said that it was the very best thing in the world for
you; and would not be any loss of time because, if you could speak
Spanish well, you would learn the business much more quickly when
you went to Cadiz; and need not be so long abroad, then."

"I shall be awfully sorry to go away from you, Mr. Medlin, and from
Mrs. Medlin and the others. It has been so jolly with you, and you
have all been so kind."

"Yes, it has been very comfortable all round, Bob, and we shall all
be sorry that you are going; but I did not expect we should have
you long with us. I felt sure your uncle would see he had made a
mistake, in taking you into the place so young; and when he finds
out he has made a mistake, he says so. Some people won't; but I
have known him own up he has been wrong, after blowing up one of
the boys in the cellar for something he hadn't done. Now, there is
not one employer in a hundred who would do that.

"Yes, I felt sure that he would change his mind about you, and
either send you back to school again or make some other
arrangement; so I wasn't a bit surprised when he spoke to me, last
week. Still, we shall all be sorry, Bob."

Another fortnight, passed without Bob hearing more; except that he
was taken by Mr. Medlin to various shops, and a large outfit was
ordered.

"You will bear in mind two things, Mr. Medlin," his employer had
said. "In the first place, that my nephew will grow, in the next
two years. Therefore order some of his things to fit him, now, and
some to be made larger and in more manly fashion. Give instructions
that, when these are finished, they are to be put in tin cases and
soldered down, so as to be kept distinct from the others.

"In the second place, you will bear in mind that clothes which
would be perfectly right and suitable for him, here, will not be at
all suitable for him, there. He will be living with an officer, and
associating entirely with military men; and there must therefore be
a certain cut and fashion about his things. Of course, I don't want
him to look like a young fop; but you understand what I want. There
will be no boys out there, it is therefore better that he should
look a little older than he is. Besides, I think that boys--and
men, too--to some extent live up to their clothes.

"I do not think that I have anything else to say, Mr. Medlin;
except that, as he will not be able to replace any clothes he may
destroy out there, and as he is sure to be climbing about and
destroying them, in one way or another, it is necessary that an
ample supply should be laid in."

Mr. Medlin had scrupulously carried out all these instructions, and
Bob was almost alarmed at the extent of the wardrobe ordered.

"I know what I am doing, Mr. Robert,"--for they were in the city
when Bob made his protest--"I am quite sure that my employer will
make no objection to my ordering largely; but he would certainly be
much displeased, if I did not order what he conceived to be
sufficient."

At the end of the fortnight, Mr. Bale informed Bob that he had
arranged for his passage to Gibraltar in the brig Antelope.

"She is bound to Valencia for fruit. She is a fast sailer, and is
well armed. There will be no other passengers on board but, as I am
acquainted with the captain--who has several times brought over
cargoes for me, from Cadiz and Oporto--he has agreed to take you. I
would rather you had gone in a ship sailing with a convoy but, as
there was a very strong one went, at the time the transports
sailed, there may not be another for some time. These small vessels
do not wait for convoys, but trust to their speed.

"You can now discontinue your work here, as you will probably wish
to go down to Putney, to say goodbye to your friends there. The
brig will sail next Monday; but you will go down on Saturday, by
coach, to Southampton, where she now is. I shall request Mr. Medlin
to see you on board. He tells me that your outfit is completed; and
your trunks, with the exception of what will be required upon the
voyage, will be sent off by the carrier waggon, on Wednesday.

"On Thursday afternoon you will leave Mr. Medlin's, and stay here
till you start."

The week passed quickly. Bob enjoyed his day at Putney where, after
saying goodbye to his old schoolfellows, he called upon Admiral
Langton, who was very glad to hear of the change in his prospects.

"It will do you good," he said, "to go out into the world, and see
a little of life. It was a dull thing, for a lad of your age and
spirits, to be cooped up in a counting house in the city; but now
that you are going to Gibraltar, and afterwards to Cadiz and
Oporto, and will not return to settle down to business until you
are one-and-twenty or so, I think that the prospect before you is a
very pleasant one; and I am glad that your uncle has proved
altogether different to your anticipations of him.

"Well, you are sure to see my son at Gibraltar, sometimes. I shall
write to him, and tell him that you are there; and as your friend
Sankey is on board the Brilliant, it will be pleasant for both of
you.

"Only don't lead him into scrapes, Bob. Midshipmen are up to
mischief enough, on their own account."

"Everyone always seems to think I am getting into scrapes, admiral.
I don't think I get into more than other fellows."

"I rather think you do, Bob. Mr. Tulloch certainly intimated, to
me, that you had a remarkable talent that way, if in no other.
Besides, your face tells its own story. Pickle is marked upon it,
as plainly as if it were printed.

"Now you must have supper with us, at seven o'clock, and catch the
eight o'clock stage. You can stay until then, I hope?"

"Yes, sir. I told Mr. Medlin that I might not come back until the
last stage."

At parting, the admiral placed a case in Bob's hands.

"There, my lad, are a brace of pistols. You won't have any use for
them for some years to come, I hope; but if you stay out in Spain
and Portugal, they may prove useful. Those fellows are very handy
with their knives; and it is always well to be armed if you go
about, at night, among them. I should advise you to practise
shooting, whenever you get an opportunity. A pistol is an excellent
weapon, if you really know how to use it; but is of no use at all,
if you don't.

"Another thing is, you may get involved in affairs of honour. I
consider duelling to be a foolish practice, but it is no use one
person standing up against a crowd. It is the fashion, in our days,
to fight duels and, therefore, it is almost a necessity for a
gentleman to be able to shoot straight; besides, although you might
be able to avoid fighting a duel with any of your countrymen, there
is no possibility of getting out of it, if you become involved in a
quarrel with a foreigner. In that case, an Englishman who showed
the white feather would be a disgrace to his country.

"Another advantage of being a good shot--I mean a really good
shot--is that, if you get forced into an affair, and are desirous
of giving a lesson, but no more, to an opponent, you have it in
your power to wing him; whereas, if you are only a tolerably good
shot, you can't pick your spot, and may--to your lasting
regret--kill him.

"But all this is in the future, Bob. I have fought several duels,
myself, with those very pistols, and I am happy to say I have never
killed my man; and shall be glad to believe, Bob, that they will
always be used in the same spirit."

Bob's last two evenings before sailing were more pleasant than he
had expected. Mr. Bale seemed to forget that he was still in
Philpot Lane, and chatted with him freely and confidentially.

"I hope that I am doing the best for you, Bob. I know this is an
experiment, and I can only trust that it will turn out well. I
believe you have plenty of sound sense, somewhere in your head; and
that this association with a number of young military men will not
have any bad effect upon you; but that, after four or five years
abroad, you will not be less, but rather more inclined to settle
down to business. I regard you as my son, and have indeed no
relations whom I care for in any way, except you and your sister. I
trust that, when you come back, you will apply yourself to
business; without becoming, as I have done, a slave to it.

"I might, if I chose, make you altogether independent of it; but I
am sure that would not be for your good. There is nothing more
unfortunate for a young man, belonging to the middle classes, than
to have no fixed occupation. The heir to large estates is in a
different position. He has all sorts of responsibilities. He has
the pursuits of a country gentleman, and the duties of a large
landowner. But the young man of our class, who does not take to
business, is almost certain to go in for reckless dissipation, or
gambling. I have seen numbers of young men, sons of old friends of
my own, who have been absolutely ruined by being left the fortunes
their fathers had made, simply because they had nothing with which
to occupy their minds.

"It is for this reason, Bob, that I chiefly wish you to succeed me
in my business. It is a very good one. I doubt whether any other
merchant imports such large quantities of wines as I do. During the
next few years I shall endeavour to give up, as far as I can, what
I may call private business, and deal entirely with the trade. I
have been doing so for some time, but it is very difficult to give
up customers who have dealt with me, and my father before me.
However, I shall curtail the business in that direction, as much as
I can; and you will then find it much more easily managed. Small
orders require just as much trouble in their execution as large
ones; and a wholesale business is, in all respects, more
satisfactory than one in which private customers are supplied, as
well as the trade.

"I am entering into arrangements, now, with several travellers, for
the purpose of extending my dealings with the trade in the
provinces; so that when it comes into your hands you will find it
more compact, and at the same time more extensive, than it is now.

"I am glad that I have had you here, for the past four months. I
have had my eye upon you, more closely than you suppose; and I am
pleased to see that you have worked well and willingly--far more so
than I expected from you. This has much encouraged me in the hope
that you will, in time, settle down to business here; and not be
contented to lead a purposeless and idle life. The happiest man, in
my opinion, is he who has something to do--and yet, not too much;
who can, by being free from anxieties regarding it, view his
business as an occupation, and a pleasure; and who is its master,
and not its slave.

"I am thinking of giving Mr. Medlin a small interest in the
business. I mean to make a real effort to break a little loose from
it, and I have seen enough of him to know that he will make a very
valuable junior. He is a little eccentric, perhaps--a sort of
exaggeration of myself--but I shall signify to him that, when he
comes into the firm, I consider that it will be to its advantage that
he should import a little of what we may call his 'extra-official'
manner into it.

"In our business, as I am well aware--although I do not possess it,
myself--a certain cheerfulness of disposition, and a generally
pleasing manner, are of advantage. Buyers are apt to give larger
orders than they otherwise would do, under the influence of
pleasant and genial relations; and Mr. Medlin can, if he chooses,
make up for my deficiencies in that way.

"But I am taking the step rather in your interest than in my own.
It will relieve you of a considerable portion of the burden of the
business, and will enable you to relax somewhat, when you are
disposed, if you have a partner in whom you can place thorough
confidence.

"I do not wish you to mention this matter to him. I would rather
open it to him, myself. We will go on another fishing expedition
together, and I think we can approach it, then, on a more pleasant
footing than we could here. He has modelled himself so thoroughly
upon me that the matter could only be approached in so intensely a
businesslike way, here, that I feel sure we should not arrive at
anything like such a satisfactory arrangement as we might do,
elsewhere."

In the course of the week, Captain Lockett of the Antelope had
called at the office, and Bob had been introduced to him by Mr.
Bale. He was a hearty and energetic looking man, of some
five-and-thirty years of age.

"I shall want you to go to Cadiz for me, next trip, Captain
Lockett," Mr. Bale said. "I am having an unusually large cargo
prepared for me--enough, I fancy, to fill up your brig."

"All the better, sir," the sailor said. "There is nothing like
having only one shipper--it saves time and trouble; but I should
advise you to insure it for its full value, for the channel swarms
with French privateers, at present; and the fellows are building
them bigger, and mounting heavier guns than they used to do.

"I am mounting a long eighteen as a swivel gun, this voyage, in
addition to those I carried before. But even with that, there are
some of these French craft might prove very awkward customers, if
they fell in with us. You see, their craft are crowded with men,
and generally carry at least twice as many hands as ours. It is
just the same with their fishing boats. It takes about three
Frenchmen to do the work of an Englishman."

"Well, don't get caught, this time, Captain Lockett. I don't want
my nephew to learn to speak French, instead of Spanish, for there
is very little trade to be done in that quarter, at present; and
what there is is all carried on by what I may call 'irregular'
channels."

"I fancy there is a great deal of French wine comes into this
country still, sir, in spite of the two nations being at war. It
suits both governments to wink at the trade. We want French wine,
and they want English money."

"That's so, Captain Lockett; but at any rate, we can't send English
buyers out there, and must take what they choose to send."

On Saturday morning Bob said goodbye to his uncle, with an amount
of feeling and regret he would have considered impossible, four
months previously. Mr. Medlin accompanied him to Southampton, and
the journey was a very lively one.

"Goodbye, Bob," the clerk said, as they shook hands on the deck of
the Antelope. "You will be a man, when I see you again--that is, if
you don't come home, for a bit, before going to the people at Cadiz
and Oporto. You will be coming into the firm, then; and will be Mr.
Robert, always."

"Not if we go out fishing expeditions together," Bob said, and
laughed.

"Ah! Well, perhaps that will be an exception.

"Well, goodbye; a pleasant voyage to you, and don't get into more
scrapes than you can help."

"Oh, I am growing out of that, Mr. Medlin!"

"Not you, Bob. They may be different sorts of scrapes, in the
future; but scrapes there will be, or I am a Dutchman."

"Well, youngster, are you a good sailor?" the captain asked; as the
Antelope, with all sail set, ran down Southampton water.

"I hope I am, captain, but I don't know, yet. I have gone out
sailing in boats at Plymouth several times, in rough weather, and
have never felt a bit ill; but I don't know how it will be, in a
ship like this."

"If you can sail in rough water in a boat, without feeling ill, you
ought to be all right here, lad. She is an easy craft, as well as a
fast one; and makes good weather of it, in anything short of a
gale.

"There is eight bells striking--that means eight o'clock, and
breakfast. You had better lay in as good a store as you can. We
shall be outside the Needles, if the wind holds, by dinnertime; and
you may not feel so ready for it, then."

The second mate breakfasted in the cabin with the captain and Bob,
the first mate remaining on deck. The second mate was a young man
of three or four and twenty, a cousin of the captain. He was a
frank, pleasant-faced young sailor, and Bob felt that he should
like him.

"How many days do you expect to be in getting to Gibraltar,
captain?"

"About ten, if we have luck; twenty if we haven't. There is never
any saying."

"How many men do you carry?"

"Twenty-eight seamen, the cook, the steward, two mates, and myself;
and there are three boys. Thirty-six all told."

"I see you have eight guns, besides the pivot gun."

"Yes. We have plenty of hands for working them, if we only have to
fight one side at once; but we shouldn't be very strong handed, if
we had to work both broadsides. There are four sixteen pounders,
four twelves, and the pivot; so that gives three men to a gun,
besides officers and idlers. Three men is enough for the twelves,
but it makes rather slow work with the sixteens. However, we may
hope that we sha'n't have to work both broadsides at once.

"We carry a letter of marque so that, in case of our having the
luck to fall in with a French trader, we can bring her in. But that
is not our business. We are peaceful traders, and don't want to
show our teeth, unless we are interfered with."

To Bob's great satisfaction, he found that he was able to eat his
dinner with unimpaired appetite; although the Antelope was clear of
the island, and was bowing deeply to a lively sea. The first
mate--a powerful looking man of forty, who had lost one eye, and
whose face was deeply seamed by an explosion of powder in an
engagement with a French privateer--came down to the meal, while
the second mate took the duty on deck. Bob found some difficulty in
keeping his dish before him, for the Antelope was lying well over,
with a northerly wind abeam.

"She is travelling well, Probert," the captain said. "We have got
her in capital trim, this time. Last time we were too light, and
could not stand up to our sails.

"If this wind holds, we shall make a fast run of it. We will keep
her well inshore, until we get down to the Scillys; and then
stretch across the bay. The nearer we keep to the coast, the less
fear there is of our running against one of those French
privateers."

The wind held steady, and Bob enjoyed the voyage immensely, as the
brig sailed along the coast. After passing Portland Bill they lost
sight of land until, after eight hours' run, a bold headland
appeared on the weather beam.

"That is the Start," the captain said. "When I get abeam of it we
shall take our bearings, and then shape our course across the bay.
If this wind does but hold, we shall make quick work of it."

Presently the tiller was put up and, as the brig's head paid off,
the yards were braced square; and she ran rapidly along towards the
southwest, with the wind nearly dead aft. The next morning when Bob
went on deck he found that the wind had dropped, and the brig was
scarcely moving through the water.

"This is a change, Mr. Probert," he said to the first mate, who was
in charge of the deck.

"Yes, and not a pleasant one," the officer replied. "I don't like
the look of the sky, either. I have just sent down to the captain,
to ask him to step on deck."

Bob looked round. The sky was no longer bright and clear. There was
a dull, heavy look overhead; and a smoky haze seemed to hang over
the horizon, all round. Bob thought it looked dull, but wondered
why the mate should send for the captain.

The latter came up on deck, in a minute or two.

"I don't much like the look of the sky, sir," the mate said. "The
wind has died suddenly out, this last half hour; and the swell has
got more kick in it than it had. I fancy the wind is going round to
the southwest; and that, when it does come, it will come hard."

"I think you are right, Mr. Probert. I glanced at the glass, as I
came up, and it has fallen half an inch since I was up on deck in
the middle watch. I think you had better begin to take in sail, at
once. Call the watch up from below. It is not coming yet; but we
may as well strip her, at once."

The mate gave the order to the boatswain, whose shrill whistle
sounded out, followed by the shout of "All hands to take in sail!"

The watch below tumbled up.

"Take the royals and topgallant sails off her, Mr. Probert. Double
reef the topsails, and get in the courses."

Bob watched the men as they worked aloft, and marvelled at the
seeming carelessness with which they hung on, where the slip of a
foot or hand would mean sudden death; and wondered whether he could
ever attain such steadiness of head. Three quarters of an hour's
hard work and the mast was stripped, save for the reduced topsails.

"Get in two of the jibs, and brail up the spanker."

This was short work. When it was done the second mate, who had been
working forward, looked to the captain for further orders. The
latter had again gone below, but was now standing on the poop,
talking earnestly with the first mate.

"Yes, I think you are right," Bob heard the captain say. "The glass
is still falling and, very likely, it will be some time before we
want these light spars again. There is nothing like being snug."

"Aloft again, lads!" the mate sung out, "and send down the yards
and topgallant masts."

"Now she is ready for anything," the captain said, when the men
again descended to the deck.

Bob, who had been so intently watching the men that he had not
looked round at the sky, since they first went aloft, now had time
to do so; and was startled with the change that had come over the
sea, and sky. There was not a breath of wind. There was a dull,
oily look on the water, as it heaved in long, regular waves,
unbroken by the slightest ripple. Black clouds had banked up from
the southwest, and extended in a heavy arch across the sky, but
little ahead of the brig. From its edge ragged, fragments seemed to
break off suddenly, and fly out ahead.

"It is going to blow, and no mistake," the captain said. "It is
lucky that we have had plenty of time to get her into fighting
trim.

"You had better get hold of something, lad, and clutch it tight. It
will begin with a heavy squall and, like enough, lay her pretty
well over on her beam ends, when it strikes her."

Higher and higher the threatening arch rose, till its edge stood
over the mainmast. Then the captain cried:

"Here it comes, lads. Hold on, every one!"

Looking ahead, Bob saw a white line. It approached with wonderful
rapidity, and with a confused, rushing sound. Then in a moment he
felt himself clinging, as if for life, to the stanchion of which he
had taken hold. The wind almost wrenched him from his feet while,
at the same moment, a perfect deluge of water came down upon him.

He felt the brig going further and further over, till the deck
beneath his feet seemed almost perpendicular. The captain and first
mate had both grasped the spokes of the wheel, and were aiding the
helmsman in jamming it down. Bob had no longer a hold for his feet,
and was hanging by his arms. Looking down, the sea seemed almost
beneath him but, with a desperate effort, he got hold of the rail
with one hand, and then hauled himself up under it, clinging tight
to the main shrouds. Then he saw the second mate loose the jib
halliards, while one of the sailors threw off the fore-staysail
sheet, and the spanker slowly brought the brig's head up into the
wind.

As it did so she righted, gradually, and Bob regained his place on
deck; which was still, however, lying over at a very considerable
angle. The captain raised his hand, and pointed to the main
topsail; and the second mate at once made his way aft with some of
the men and, laying out on the weather rigging, made his way aloft.
The danger seemed, to Bob, so frightful that he dared not look up.
He could hear, through the pauses of the blast, the mate shout to
the men above him and, in a few minutes, they again descended to
the deck.

Even Bob could feel how much the brig was relieved, when the
pressure of the topsail was taken off. The lower planks of the deck
rose from the water and, although this still rushed in and out
through the scupper holes, and rose at times to the level of the
bulwark rail, he felt that the worst was over.

One of the men was called to assist at the helm, and the captain
and mate came forward to the poop rail.

"That was touch and go, youngster!" the former shouted to Bob.

"It was," Bob said. "More go than touch, I should say; for I
thought she had gone, altogether."

"You had better go below, and change your things. Tell the steward
to bring me my oilskins, out of my cabin. You had better keep
below, until this rain has stopped."

Bob thought the advice was good; so he went down and got into dry
clothes, and then lay down on the cabin sofa, to leeward--he could
not have kept his place, on the other side. The rain was still
falling so heavily, on deck, that it sounded like a waggon passing
overhead; and mingled with this noise was the howl of the wind, and
the swashing of the water against the ship's side. Gradually the
motion of the vessel became more violent, and she quivered from bow
to stern, as the waves struck her.

Although it was early in the afternoon, it became almost as dark as
night in the cabin. The steward had brought him a glass of hot
grog, as soon as he had changed his clothes and, in spite of the
din, he presently fell off to sleep. When he woke the rain had
ceased; but the uproar caused by the howling of the wind, the
creaking of the spars, and the dashing of the waves was as loud as
before.

He soon made his way up on deck, and found that a tremendous sea
was running. The fore-topsail had been got off the ship, the
weather sheets of the jib and fore-staysail hauled across, and the
vessel was making comparatively little way through the water. She
was, in fact--although Bob did not know it--lying to, under these
sails and the spanker.

It all looked so terrible, to him, that he kept his place but a few
minutes; and was then glad to return to the sofa, below. In a short
time, the captain came down.

"How are you getting on, lad? All in the dark, eh?

"Steward, light the lamp, and bring me a tumbler of hot grog. Keep
the water boiling; the other officers will be down, directly.

"Well, what do you think of it, young gentleman?"

"I don't like it, at all," Bob said. "I thought I should like to
see a storm, but I never want to see one, again."

"I am not surprised at that," the captain said, with a laugh. "It
is all very well to read about storms, but it is a very different
thing to be caught in one."

"Is there any danger, sir?"

"There is always more or less danger, in a storm, lad; but I hope,
and think, the worst is over. We are in for a heavy gale but, now
that the brig has got through the first burst, there is not much
fear of her weathering it. She is a capital sea boat, well found
and in good trim; and we were fortunate enough in having sufficient
warning to get her snug, before the first burst came.

"That is always the most dangerous point. When a ship has way on
her, she can stand almost any gale; but when she is caught by a
heavy squall, when she is lying becalmed, you have to look out.
However, she got through that without losing anything; and she is
lying to, now, under the smallest possible canvas and, if all goes
well, there is no reason, whatever, for anxiety."

"What do you mean by 'if all goes well,' captain?"

"I mean as long as one of her masts isn't carried away, or anything
of that sort. I daresay you think it rough, now, but it is nothing
to what it will be by tomorrow morning. I should advise you to turn
in, at once. You could see nothing, if you went up; and would run
the risk of being washed overboard, or of getting a limb broken."

Bob's recollections of his position, as the ship heeled over when
the storm struck her, were still far too vivid for him to have any
desire for a repetition of it; and he accordingly took the
captain's advice, and turned in at once.

When he got up in the morning and, with some difficulty, made his
way on deck he found that, as the captain predicted, the sea was
far heavier than the night before. Great ridges of water bore down
upon the ship, each seeming as if it would overwhelm her; and for
the first few minutes Bob expected to see the brig go, head
foremost, and sink under his feet. It was not till he reflected
that she had lived through it for hours that he began to view the
scene with composure. Although the waves were much higher than when
he had left the deck on the previous afternoon, the scene was
really less terrifying.

The sky was covered with masses of gray cloud, ragged and torn,
hurrying along with great velocity, apparently but a short distance
above the masthead. When the vessel rose on a wave, it seemed to
him that the clouds, in places, almost touched the water, and
mingled with the masses of spray caught up by the waves. The scud,
borne along by the wind, struck his face with a force that caused
it to smart and, for a time, he was unable to face the gale even
for a minute.

The decks were streaming with water. The boats had disappeared from
the davits, and a clean sweep seemed to have been made of
everything movable. Forward was a big gap in the bulwark and, as
the brig met the great waves, masses of green water poured in
through this, and swept along the deck waist deep. The brig was
under the same sail as before, except that she now showed a
closely-reefed fore-topsail.

When he became a little accustomed to the sea, and to the motion,
he watched his time; and then made a rush across from the companion
to the weather bulwark, and got a firm hold of one of the shrouds.
The captain and the second mate were on the poop, near the wheel.
The former made his way to him.

"Good morning, Master Repton! Managed to get some sleep?"

"Yes, I have slept all night, captain. I say, isn't this
tremendous? I did not think anything could be like this. It is
splendid, you know, but it takes one's breath away.

"I don't think it is blowing quite so hard, is it?"

"Every bit as hard, but it is more regular, and you are accustomed
to it."

"But I see you have got up some more sail."

"Yes, that's to steady her. You see, when she gets into the trough
between these great waves, the lower sails are almost becalmed; and
we are obliged to show something above them, to keep a little way
on her. We are still lying to, you see, and meet the waves head on.
If her head was to fall off a few points, and one of these waves
took her on the beam, she would go down like a stone.

"Yes, the brig is doing very handsomely. She has a fine run, more
like a schooner than a brig; and she meets the waves easily, and
rises to them as lightly as a feather. She is a beauty!

"If you are going to stay here, lad, you had better lash yourself;
for it is not safe, standing as you are."



Chapter 5: A French Privateer.


As he became more accustomed to the scene around him, and found
that the waves were more terrible in appearance than reality, Bob
began to enjoy it, and to take in its grandeur and wildness. The
bareness of the deck had struck him, at once; and he now saw that
four of the cannon were gone--the two forward guns, on each
side--and he rightly supposed that these must have been run out,
and tumbled overboard, to lighten the ship forward, and enable her
to rise more easily to the waves.

An hour later, the second mate came along.

"You had better come down and get some breakfast," he said. "I am
going down first."

Bob threw off the rope, and followed the mate down into the cabin.
Mr. Probert had just turned out. He had been lying down for two or
three hours, having gone down as daylight broke.

"The captain says you had better take something before you go on
deck, Mr. Probert," the second mate said. "He will come down,
afterwards, and turn in for an hour or two."

"No change, I suppose?"

"No. She goes over it like a duck. The seas are more regular, now,
and she is making good weather of it."

Bob wondered, in his own mind, what she would do if she was making
bad weather.

The meal was an irregular one. The steward brought in three large
mugs, half filled with coffee; a basket of biscuits, and a ham.
From this he cut off some slices, which he laid on biscuits; and
each of them ate their breakfast, holding their mugs in one hand,
and their biscuits and ham in the other.

As soon as they had finished, the two officers went on deck and,
directly afterwards, the captain came down. Bob chatted with him
until he had finished his breakfast, and then went up on deck
again, for two or three hours. At the end of that time he felt so
completely exhausted, from the force of the wind and the constant
change of the angle at which he was standing, that he was glad to
go below and lie down again.

There was no regular dinner, the officers coming below by turns,
and taking a biscuit and a chunk of cold meat, standing. But at
teatime the captain and second mate came down together; and Bob,
who had again been up on deck for a bit, joined them in taking a
large bowl of coffee.

"I think the wind is blowing harder than ever," he said to the
captain.

"Yes, the glass has begun to rise a little, and that is generally a
sign you are getting to the worst of it. I expect it is a three
days' gale, and we shall have it at its worst, tonight. I hope by
this time, tomorrow, we shall be beginning to shake out our reefs.

"You had better not go up, any more. It will be dark in half an
hour, and your bunk is the best place for you."

Bob was not sorry to obey the order, for he felt that the scene
would be a very terrible one, after dark. The night, however,
seemed to him to be a miserably long one; for he was only able to
doze off occasionally, the motion being so violent that he had to
jam himself in his berth, to prevent himself from being thrown out.
The blows with which the waves struck the ship were tremendous; and
so deeply did she pitch that, more than once, he thought that she
would never come up again; but go down, head foremost. Once he
thought he heard a crash, and there were orders shouted, on the
deck above him; but he resisted the desire to go up and see what it
was, for he knew that he could do nothing; and that, in the
darkness, he could see but little of what was going on.

With the first gleam of daylight, however, he got out of the bunk.
He had not attempted to undress, having taken off his shoes, only,
when he lay down. Having put these on again, he went up. There was
but little change since the previous morning but, looking forward,
he saw that the bowsprit was gone, and the fore-topmast had been
carried away. The sea was as high as ever, but patches of blue sky
showed overhead between the clouds, and the wind was blowing
somewhat less violently.

"We have been in the wars, you see, youngster," the captain said,
when Bob made his way aft; "but we may thank God it was no worse.
We have had a pretty close squeak of it, but the worst is over,
now. The wind is going down, and the gale will have blown itself
out by this evening. It was touch-and-go several times during the
night and, if she had had a few more tons of cargo in her, she
would never have risen from some of those waves; but I think, now,
we shall see Oporto safely--which was more than I expected, about
midnight."

For some hours Bob, himself, had considerable doubts as to this, so
deeply did the brig bury herself in the waves; but after twelve
o'clock the wind fell rapidly and, although the waves showed no
signs of decreasing in height, their surface was smoother, and they
seemed to strike the vessel with less force and violence.

"Now, Mr. Probert," said the captain, "do you and Joe turn in, till
first watch. I will take charge of the deck. After that, you can
set regular watches again."

The main-topsail was already on her and, at six o'clock, the
captain had two of its reefs shaken out; and the other reef was
also loosed, when Mr. Probert came up and took charge of the first
watch, at eight bells. That night Bob lay on the floor, for the
motion was more violent than before--the vessel rolling, gunwale
under--for the wind no longer pressed upon her sails, and kept her
steady, and he would have found it impossible to maintain his
position in his berth.

In the morning, he went up. The sun was rising in an unclouded sky.
There was scarce a breath of wind. The waves came along in high,
glassy rollers--smooth mounds of water which extended, right and
left, in deep valleys and high ridges. The vessel was rolling
tremendously, the lower yards sometimes touching the water. Bob had
to wait some time before he could make a rush across to the bulwark
and, when he did so, found it almost impossible to keep his feet.
He could see that the men forward were no longer crouching for
shelter under the break of the fo'castle, but were holding on by
the shrouds or stays, smoking their pipes, and laughing and joking
together. Until the motion abated somewhat, it was clearly
impossible to commence the work of getting things in order.

"Did the bowsprit and mast both go, together?" Bob asked Joe
Lockett, who was holding on to the bulwark, near him.

"Yes, the bowsprit went with the strain when she rose, having
buried herself halfway up the waist; and the topmast snapped like a
carrot, a moment later. That was the worst dive we made. There is
no doubt that getting rid of the leverage of the bowsprit, right up
in her eyes, eased her a good bit; and as the topmast was a pretty
heavy spar, too, that also helped."

"How long will it be before the sea goes down?"

"If you mean goes down enough for us to get to work--a few hours.
If you mean goes down altogether, it will be five or six days
before this swell has quite flattened down, unless a wind springs
up from some other quarter."

"I meant till the mast can be got up again."

"Well, this afternoon the captain may set the men at work; but I
don't think they would do much good, and there would be a good
chance of getting a limb broken. As long as this calm holds there
is no hurry, one way or the other."

"You mean, because we couldn't be sailing, even if we had
everything set?"

"Well, yes, that is something, but I didn't mean that. I am not
thinking so much of our sailing, as of other people's. We are not
very fit, as we are now, either for fighting or running, and I
should be sorry to see a French privateer coming along; but as long
as the calm continues, there is no fear of that; and I expect there
have been few ships out, in this gale, who have not got repairs to
do as well as we have."

After dinner, an effort was made to begin the work; but the captain
soon ordered the men to desist.

"It is of no use, Mr. Probert. We shall only be getting some of the
men killed. It wouldn't be possible to get half done before dark
and, if the sea goes down a bit, tonight, they will get as much
done in an hour's work, in the morning, as they would if they were
to work from now to sunset.

"The carpenter might get some canvas, and nail it so as to hide
those gaps in the bulwark. That will be something done. The boys
can give it a coat of paint, in the morning. But as for the spar,
we must leave it."

All hands were at work, next morning, with the first gleam of
daylight. The rollers were still almost as high as the day before;
but there was now a slight breath of wind, which sufficed to give
the vessel steerage way. She was put head to the rollers, changing
the motion from the tremendous rolling, when she was lying
broadside to them, for a regular rise and fall that interfered but
little with the work. A spare spar was fitted in the place of the
bowsprit, the stump of the topmast was sent down, and the
topgallant mast fitted in its place and, by midday, the light spars
were all in their places again, and the brig was showing a fair
spread of canvas; and a casual observer would, at a distance, have
noticed but slight change in her appearance.

"That has been a good morning's work," the captain said, as they
sat down to dinner. "We are a little short of head-sail, but that
will make no great difference in our rate of sailing, especially if
the wind is aft. We are ready to meet with another storm again, if
it should come--which is not likely.

"We are ready for anything, in fact, except a heavily-armed
privateer. The loss of four of our guns has crippled us. But there
was no choice about the matter; it went against my heart to see
them go overboard, but it was better to lose four guns than to lose
the ship.

"I hope we shall meet with nothing till we get through the Straits.
I may be able to pick up some guns, at Gibraltar. Prizes are often
brought in there, and condemned, and there are sales of stores; so
I hope to be able to get her into regular fighting trim, again,
before I clear out from there.

"I should think you won't be sorry when we drop anchor off the
Mole, youngster?"

"I am in no hurry, now," Bob said. "I would have given a good
deal--if I had had it--two days ago, to have been on dry land but,
now that we are all right again, I don't care how long we are,
before we get there. It is very warm and pleasant, a wonderful
change after what it was when we sailed.

"Whereabouts are we, captain?"

"We are a good bit farther to the east than I like," the captain
replied. "We have been blown a long way into the bay. There is a
great set of current, in here. We have drifted nearly fifty miles
in, since noon yesterday. We are in 4 degrees 50 minutes west
longitude, and 45 degrees latitude."

"I don't think that means anything to me."

"No, I suppose not," the captain laughed. "Well, it means we are
nearly due west of Bordeaux, and about one hundred miles from the
French coast, and a little more than eighty north of Santander, on
the Spanish coast. As the wind is sou'-sou'west we can lay our
course for Cape Ortegal and, once round there, we shall feel more
comfortable."

"But don't you feel comfortable at present, captain?"

"Well, not altogether. We are a good deal too close in to the
French coast; and we are just on the track of any privateer that
may be making for Bordeaux, from the west or south, or going out in
those directions. So, although I can't say I am absolutely
uncomfortable, I shall be certainly glad when we are back again on
the regular track of our own line of traffic for the Straits or
Portugal. There are English cruisers on that line, and privateers
on the lookout for the French, so that the sound of guns might
bring something up to our assistance; but there is not much chance
of meeting with a friendly craft, here--unless it has, like
ourselves, been blown out of its course."

A lookout had already been placed aloft. Several sails were seen in
the distance, in the course of the afternoon, but nothing that
excited suspicion. The wind continued light and, although the brig
had every sail set, she was not making more than five and a half
knots an hour through the water. In the evening the wind dropped
still more and, by nine o'clock, the brig had scarcely steerage
way.

"It is enough to put a saint out of temper," the captain said, as
he came down into the cabin, and mixed himself a glass of grog
before turning in. "If the wind had held, we should have been
pretty nearly off Finisterre, by morning. As it is, we haven't made
more than forty knots since we took the observation, at noon."

Bob woke once in the night; and knew, by the rippling sound of
water, and by the slight inclination of his berth, that the breeze
had sprung up again. When he woke again the sun was shining
brightly, and he got up and dressed leisurely; but as he went into
the cabin he heard some orders given, in a sharp tone, by the
captain on deck, and quickened his pace up the companion, to see
what was going on.

"Good morning, Mr. Lockett!" he said to the second mate, who was
standing close by, looking up at the sails.

"Good morning, Master Repton!" he replied, somewhat more shortly
than usual.

"There is a nice breeze this morning," Bob went on. "We seem going
on at a good rate."

"I wish she were going twice as fast," the mate said. "There is a
gentleman over there who seems anxious to have a talk with us, and
we don't want to make his acquaintance."

Bob looked round and saw, over the quarter, a large lugger some
three miles away.

"What vessel is that?" he asked.

"That is a French privateer--at least, there is very little doubt
about it. We must have passed each other in the dark for, when we
first made him out, he was about four miles away, sailing
northeast. He apparently sighted us, just as we made him out; and
hauled his wind, at once. He has gained about a mile on us, in the
last two hours. We have changed our course; and are sailing, as you
see, northwest, so as to bring the wind on our quarter; and I don't
think that fellow has come up much, since. Still, he does come up.
We feel the loss of our sail, now."

It seemed to Bob, looking up, that there was already an immense
amount of canvas on the brig. Stunsails had been set on her, and
she was running very fast through the water.

"We seem to have more canvas set than that vessel behind us," he
said.

"Yes, we have more, but those luggers sail like witches. They are
splendid boats, but they want very big crews to work them. That is
the reason why you scarcely ever see them, with us, except as
fishing craft, or something of that sort. I daresay that lugger has
a hundred men on board--eighty, anyhow--so it is no wonder we
sometimes get the worst of it. They always carry three hands to our
two and, very often, two to our one. Of course we are really a
trader, though we do carry a letter of marque. If we were a regular
privateer, we should carry twice as many hands as we do."

Walking to the poop rail, Bob saw that the men were bringing up
shot, and putting them in the racks by the guns. The breech covers
had been taken off. The first officer was overlooking the work.

"Well, lad," Captain Lockett said, coming up to him, "you see that
unlucky calm has got us into a mess, after all and, unless the wind
drops again, we are going to have to fight for it."

"Would the wind dropping help us, sir?"

"Yes, we have more canvas on her than the lugger carries and, if
the breeze were lighter, should steal away from her. As it is, she
doesn't gain much; but she does gain and, in another two or three
hours, she will be sending a messenger to ask us to stop."

"And what will you do, captain?"

"We shall send another messenger back, to tell her to mind her own
business. Then it will be a question of good shooting. If we can
knock out one of her masts, we shall get off; if we can't, the
chances are we shall see the inside of a French prison.

"If she once gets alongside, it is all up with us. She can carry
us, by boarding; for she can throw three times our strength of men
on to our deck."

There was but little talking on board the brig. When the men had
finished their preparations, they stood waiting by the bulwarks;
watching the vessel in chase of them, and occasionally speaking
together in low tones.

"You may as well pipe the hands to breakfast, Mr. Probert. I have
told the cook to give them an extra good meal. After that, I will
say a few words to them.

"Now, Master Repton, we may as well have our meal. We mayn't get
another good one, for some time; but I still hope that we shall be
able to cripple that fellow. I have great faith in that long
eighteen. The boatswain is an old man-o'-war's-man, and is a
capital shot. I am a pretty good one, myself and, as the sea is
smooth, and we have a good steady platform to fire from, I have
good hope we shall cripple that fellow before he comes up to us."

There was more talking than usual, at breakfast. Captain Lockett
and the second mate both laughed, and joked, over the approaching
fight. Mr. Probert was always a man of few words, and he said but
little, now.

"The sooner they come up, the better," he growled. "I hate this
running away, especially when you can't run fastest."

"The men will all do their best, I suppose, Probert? You have been
down among them."

The first mate nodded.

"They don't want to see the inside of a prison, captain, no more
than I do. They will stick to the guns; but I fancy they know, well
enough, it will be no use if it comes to boarding."

"No use at all, Probert. I quite agree with you, there. If she
comes up alongside, we must haul down the flag. It is of no use
throwing away the men's lives, by fighting against such odds as
that. But we mustn't let her get up."

"That is it, sir. We have got to keep her off, if it can be done.
We shall have to haul our wind a little, when we begin, so as to
get that eighteen to bear on her."

"Yes, we must do that," the captain said. "Then we will get the
other four guns over on the same side."

After breakfast was over, the captain went up and took his station
at the poop rail. The men had finished their breakfast and, on
seeing that the captain was about to address them, moved aft.

"My lads," he said, "that Frenchman behind will be within range, in
the course of another hour. What we have got to do is to knock some
of her spars out of her and, as she comes up slowly, we shall have
plenty of time to do it. I daresay she carries a good many more
guns than we do, but I do not suppose that they are heavier metal.
If she got alongside of us, she would be more than our match; but I
don't propose to let her get alongside and, as I don't imagine any
of you wish to see the inside of a French prison, I know you will
all do your best.

"Let there be no hurrying in your fire. Aim at her spars, and don't
throw a shot away. The chances are all in our favour; for we can
fight all our guns, while she can fight only her bow chasers--at
any rate, until she bears up. She doesn't gain on us much now and,
when she comes to get a few shot holes in her sails, it will make
the difference. I shall give ten guineas to be divided among the
men at the first gun that knocks away one of her spars; and five
guineas, besides, to the man who lays the gun."

The men gave a cheer.

"Get the guns all over to the port side. I shall haul her wind, a
little, as soon as we are within range."

By five bells, the lugger was within a mile and a half. The men
were already clustered round the pivot gun.

"Put her helm down, a little," the captain ordered. "That is
enough.

"Now, boatswain, you are well within range. Let us see what you can
do. Fire when you have got her well on your sights."

A few seconds later there was a flash, and a roar. All eyes were
directed on the lugger, which the captain was watching through his
glass. There was a shout from the men. The ball had passed through
the great foresail, a couple of feet from the mast.

"Very good," the captain said. "Give her a trifle more elevation,
next time. If you can hit the yard, it will be just as good as
hitting the mast.

"Ah! There she goes!"

Two puffs of white smoke broke out from the lugger's bow. One shot
struck the water nearly abreast of the brig, at a distance of ten
yards. The other fell short.

"Fourteens!" the captain said. "I thought she wouldn't have
eighteens, so far forward."

Shot after shot was fired but, so far, no serious damage had been
caused by them. The brig had been hulled once, and two shots had
passed through her sails.

The captain went, himself, to the pivot gun; and laid it carefully.
Bob stood watching the lugger intently, and gave a shout as he saw
the foresail run rapidly down.

"It is only the slings cut," the second mate--who was standing by
him--said. "They will have it up again, in a minute. If the shot
had been the least bit lower, it would have smashed the yard."

The lugger came into the wind and, as she did so, eight guns
flashed out from her side while, almost at the same moment, the
four broadside guns of the Antelope were, for the first time,
discharged. Bob felt horribly uncomfortable, for a moment, as the
shot hummed overhead; cutting one of the stunsail booms in two, and
making five fresh holes in the sails.

"Take the men from the small guns, Joe, and get that sail in," the
captain said. "Its loss is of no consequence."

In half a minute, the lugger's foresail again rose; and she
continued the chase, heading straight for the brig.

"He doesn't like this game of long bowls, Probert," the captain
said. "He intends to come up to board, instead of trusting to his
guns.

"Now, boatswain, you try again."

The brig was now sailing somewhat across the lugger's bows, so that
her broadside guns--trained as far as possible aft--could all play
upon her; and a steady fire was kept up, to which she only replied
by her two bow chasers One of the men had been knocked down, and
wounded, by a splinter from the bulwark; but no serious damage had
so far been inflicted, while the sails of the lugger were spotted
with shot holes.

Bob wished, heartily, that he had something to do; and would have
been glad to have followed the first mate's example--that officer
having thrown off his coat, and taken the place of the wounded man
in working a gun--but he felt that he would only be in the way, did
he try to assist. Steadily the lugger came up, until she was little
more than a quarter of a mile behind them.

"Now, lads," the captain shouted, "double shot the guns--this is
your last chance. Lay your guns carefully, and all fire together,
when I give the word.

"Now, are you all ready? Fire!"

The five guns flashed out together, and the ten shot sped on their
way. The splinters flew from the lugger's foremast, in two places;
but a cry of disappointment rose, as it was seen that it was
practically uninjured.

"Look, look!" the captain shouted. "Hurrah, lads!" and a cloud of
white canvas fell over, to leeward of the lugger.

Her two masts were nearly in line, and the shot that had narrowly
missed the foremast, and passed through the foresail, had struck
the mainmast and brought it, and its sail, overboard. The crew of
the brig raised a general cheer. A minute before a French prison
had stared them in the face, and now they were free. The helm was
instantly put up, and the brig bore straight away from her pursuer.

"What do you say, Probert? Shall we turn the tables, now, and give
her a pounding?"

"I should like to, sir, nothing better; but it would be dangerous
work. Directly she gets free of that hamper, she will be under
command, and will be able to bring her broadside to play on us; and
if she had luck, and knocked away one of our spars, she would turn
the tables upon us. Besides, even if we made her strike her
colours, we could never take her into port. Strong handed as she
is, we should not dare to send a prize crew on board."

"You are right, Probert--though it does seem a pity to let her go
scot free, when we have got her almost at our mercy."

"Not quite, sir. Look there."

The lugger had managed to bring her head sufficiently up into the
wind for her broadside guns to bear, and the shot came hurtling
overhead. The yard of the main-topsail was cut in sunder, and the
peak halliard of the spanker severed, and the peak came down with a
run. They could hear a faint cheer come across the water from the
lugger.

"Leave the guns, lads, and repair damages!" the captain shouted.

"Throw off the throat halliards of the spanker, get her down, and
send a hand up to reef a fresh rope through the blocks, Mr.
Probert.

"Joe, take eight men with you, and stow away the topsail. Send the
broken yard down.

"Carpenter, see if you have got a light spar that will do, instead
of it. If not, get two small ones, and lash them so as to make a
splice of it."

In a minute the guns of the lugger spoke out again but, although a
few ropes were cut away, and some more holes made in the sails, no
serious damage was inflicted and, before they were again loaded,
the spanker was rehoisted. The lugger continued to fire, but the
brig was now leaving her fast. As soon as the sail was up, the
pivot gun was again set to work; and the lugger was hulled several
times but, seeing that her chance of disabling the brig was small,
she was again brought before the wind.

In half an hour a new topsail yard was ready, and that sail was
again hoisted. The Antelope had now got three miles away from the
lugger. As the sail sheeted home, the second mate shouted, from
aloft:

"There is a sail on the weather bow, sir! She is close hauled, and
sailing across our head."

"I see her," the captain replied.

"We ought to have noticed her before, Mr. Probert. We have all been
so busy that we haven't been keeping a lookout.

"What do you make her to be, Joe?" he said to the second mate.

"I should say she was a French frigate, sir."

The captain ascended the shrouds with his glass, remained there two
or three minutes watching the ship, and then returned to the deck.

"She is a frigate, certainly, Mr. Probert, and by the cut of her
sails I should say a Frenchman. We are in an awkward fix. She has
got the weather gage of us. Do you think, if we put up helm and ran
due north, we should come out ahead of her?"

The mate shook his head.

"Not if the wind freshens, sir, as I think it will. I should say we
had best haul our wind, and make for one of the Spanish ports. We
might get into Santander."

"Yes, that would be our best chance.

"All hands 'bout ship!"

The vessel's head was brought up into the wind, and payed off on
the other tack, heading south--the frigate being, now, on her
weather quarter. This course took the brig within a mile and a half
of the lugger, which fired a few harmless shots at her. When she
had passed beyond the range of her guns, she shaped her course
southeast by east for Santander, the frigate being now dead astern.
The men were then piped to dinner.

"Is she likely to catch us, sir?" Bob asked, as they sat down to
table.

"I hope not, lad. I don't think she will, unless the wind freshens
a good deal. If it did, she would come up hand over hand.

"I take it she is twelve miles off, now. It is four bells, and she
has only got five hours' daylight, at most. However fast she is,
she ought not to gain a knot and a half an hour, in this breeze
and, if we are five or six miles ahead when it gets dark, we can
change our course. There is no moon."

They were not long below.

"The lugger is under sail again, sir," the second mate, who was on
duty, said as they gained the deck.

"They haven't been long getting up a jury mast," Captain Lockett
said. "That is the best of a lug rig. Still, they have a smart crew
on board."

He directed his glass towards the lugger, which was some five miles
away.

"It is a good-sized spar," he said, "nearly as lofty as the
foremast. She is carrying her mainsail with two reefs in it and,
with the wind on her quarter, is travelling pretty nearly as fast
as she did before. Still, she can't catch us, and she knows it.

"Do you see, Mr. Probert, she is bearing rather more to the north.
She reckons, I fancy, that after it gets dark we may try to throw
the frigate out; and may make up that way, in which case she would
have a good chance of cutting us off. That is awkward, for the
frigate will know that; and will guess that, instead of wearing
round that way, we shall be more likely to make the other."

"That is so," the mate agreed. "Still, we shall have the choice of
either hauling our wind and making south by west, or of running on,
and she can't tell which we shall choose."

"That is right enough. It is just a toss up. If we run, and she
runs, she will overtake us; if we haul up close into the wind, and
she does the same, she will overtake us, again; but if we do one
thing, and she does the other, we are safe.

"Then again, we may give her more westing, after it gets dark, and
bear the same course the lugger is taking. She certainly won't gain
on us, and I fancy we shall gain a bit on her. Then in the morning,
if the frigate is out of sight, we can make for Santander, which
will be pretty nearly due south of us, then; or, if the lugger is
left well astern we can make a leg north, and then get on our old
course again, for Cape Ortegal. The lugger would see it was of no
use chasing us, any further."

"Yes, I think that is the best plan of the three, captain.

"I see the frigate is coming up. I can just make out the line of
her hull. She must be a fast craft."

The hours passed on slowly. Fortunately the wind did not freshen,
and the vessels maintained their respective positions towards each
other. The frigate was coming up, but, when it began to get dusk,
she was still some six miles astern. The lugger was five miles
away, on the lee quarter, and three miles northeast of the frigate.
She was still pursuing a line that would take her four miles to the
north of the brig's present position. The coast of Spain could be
seen stretching along to the southward. Another hour and it was
perfectly dark and, even with the night glasses, the frigate could
no longer be made out.

"Starboard your helm," the captain said, to the man at the wheel.
"Lay her head due east."

"I fancy the wind is dying away, sir," Mr. Probert said.

"So long as it don't come a stark calm, I don't care," the captain
replied. "That would be the worst thing that could happen, for we
should have the frigate's boats after us; but a light breeze would
suit us, admirably."

Two hours later, the wind had almost died out.

"We will take all the sails off her, Mr. Probert. If the frigate
keeps on the course she was steering when we last saw her, she will
go two miles to the south of us; and the lugger will go more than
that to the north. If they hold on all night, they will be hull
down before morning; and we shall be to windward of them and, with
the wind light, the frigate would never catch us; and we know the
lugger wouldn't, with her reduced sails."

In a few minutes all the sails were lowered, and the brig lay
motionless. For the next two hours the closest watch was kept, but
nothing was seen of the pursuing vessels.

"I fancy the frigate must have altered her course more to the
south," the captain said, "thinking that, as the lugger was up
north, we should be likely to haul our wind in that direction. We
will wait another hour, and then get up sail again, and lay her
head for Cape Ortegal."

When the morning broke, the brig was steering west. No sign of the
lugger was visible but, from the tops, the upper sails of the
frigate could be seen, close under the land, away to the southeast.

"Just as I thought," the captain said, rubbing his hands in high
glee. "She hauled her wind, as soon as it was dark, and stood in
for the coast, thinking we should do the same.

"We are well out of that scrape."

Two days later the brig dropped her anchor in the Tagus, where
three English ships of war were lying. A part of the cargo had to
be discharged, here; and the captain at once went ashore, to get a
spar to replace the topmast carried away in the gale.

"We may fall in with another Frenchman, before we are through the
Straits," he said, "and I am not going to put to sea again like a
lame duck."

Bob went ashore with the captain, and was greatly amused at the
scenes in the streets of Lisbon.

"You had better keep with me, as I shall be going on board, in an
hour. Tomorrow you can come ashore and see the sights, and spend
the day. I would let Joe come with you, but he will be too busy to
be spared, so you will have to shift for yourself."

Before landing in the morning, the captain advised him not to go
outside the town.

"You don't know the lingo, lad, and might get into trouble. You
see, there are always sailors going ashore from our ships of war,
and they get drunk and have sprees; and I don't fancy they are
favourites with the lower class, here, although the shopkeepers, of
course, are glad enough to have their money--but I don't think it
would be safe for a lad like you, who can't speak a word of the
language, to wander about outside the regular streets. There will
be plenty for you to see, without going further."

As Bob was a good deal impressed with the narrow escape he had had
from capture, he was by no means inclined to run any risk of
getting into a scrape, and perhaps missing his passage out. He
therefore strictly obeyed the captain's instructions; and
when--just as he was going down to the landing stage, where the
boat was to come ashore for him--he came upon a party of half
drunken sailors, engaged in a vigorous fight with a number of
Portuguese civil guards, he turned down a side street to avoid
getting mixed up in the fray--repressing his strong impulse to join
in by the side of his countrymen.

On his mentioning this to the captain, when he reached the brig,
the latter said:

"It is lucky that you kept clear of the row. It is all nonsense,
talking about countrymen. It wasn't an affair of nationality, at
all. Nobody would think of interfering, if he saw a party of
drunken sailors in an English port fighting with the constables. If
he did interfere, it ought to be on the side of the law. Why, then,
should anyone take the part of drunken sailors, in a foreign port,
against the guardians of the peace? To do so is an act of the
grossest folly.

"In the first place, the chances are in favour of getting your head
laid open with a sword cut. These fellows know they don't stand a
chance against Englishmen's fists, and they very soon whip out
their swords. In the second place, you would have to pass the night
in a crowded lockup, where you would be half smothered before
morning. And lastly, if you were lucky enough not to get a week's
confinement in jail, you would have a smart fine to pay.

"There is plenty of fighting to be done, in days like these; but
people should see that they fight on the right side, and not be
taking the part of every drunken scamp who gets into trouble,
simply because he happens to be an Englishman.

"You showed plenty of pluck, lad, when the balls were flying about
the other day; and when I see your uncle, I am sure he will be
pleased when I tell him how well you behaved, under fire; but I am
equally certain he would not have been, by any means, gratified at
hearing that I had had to leave you behind at Lisbon, either with a
broken head or in prison, through getting into a street row, in
which you had no possible concern, between drunken sailors and the
Portuguese civil guards."

Bob saw that the captain was perfectly right, and said so, frankly.

"I see I should have been a fool, indeed, if I had got into the
row, captain; and I shall remember what you say, in future. Still,
you know, I didn't get into it."

"No, I give you credit for that, lad; but you acknowledge your
strong impulse to do so. Now, in future you had better have an
impulse just the other way and, when you find yourself in the midst
of a row in which you have no personal concern, let your first
thought be how to get out of it, as quickly as you can. I got into
more than one scrape, myself, when I was a young fellow, from the
conduct of messmates who had got too much liquor in them; but it
did them no good, and did me harm.

"So, take my advice: fight your own battles, but never interfere to
fight other people's, unless you are absolutely convinced that they
are in the right. If you are, stick by them as long as you have a
leg to stand upon."



Chapter 6: The Rock Fortress.


On the third day after her arrival at Lisbon, the Antelope's anchor
was hove up, and she dropped down the river. Half an hour later, a
barque and another brig came out and joined her; the three captains
having agreed, the day before, that they would sail in company, as
they were all bound through the Straits. Captain Lockett had
purchased two 14-pounder guns, at Lisbon; and the brig, therefore,
now carried three guns on each side, besides her long 18 pounder.
The barque carried fourteen guns, and the other brig ten; so that
they felt confident of being able to beat off any French privateer
they might meet, on the way.

One or two suspicious sails were sighted, as they ran down the
coast; but none of these approached within gunshot, the three craft
being, evidently, too strong to be meddled with. Rounding Cape St.
Vincent at a short distance, they steered for the mouth of the
Straits. After the bold cliffs of Portugal, Bob was disappointed
with the aspect of the Spanish coast.

"Ah! It is all very well," the first mate replied, when he
expressed his opinion. "Give me your low, sandy shores, and let
those who like have what you call the fine, bold rocks.

"Mind, I don't mean coasts with sandbanks lying off them; but a
coast with a shelving beach, and pretty deep water, right up to it.
If you get cast on a coast like that of Portugal, it is certain
death. Your ship will get smashed up like an eggshell, against
those rocks you are talking of, and not a soul gets a chance of
escape; while if you are blown on a flat coast, you may get carried
within a ship's length of the beach before you strike, and it is
hard if you can't get a line on shore; besides, it is ten to one
the ship won't break up, for hours.

"No, you may get a landsman to admire your bold cliffs, but you
won't get a sailor to agree with him."

"We seem to be going along fast, although there is not much wind."

"Yes, there is a strong current. You see, the rivers that fall into
the Mediterranean ain't sufficient to make up for the loss by
evaporation, and so there is always a current running in here. It
is well enough for us, going east; but it is not so pleasant, when
you want to come out. Then you have got to wait till you can get a
breeze, from somewhere about east, to carry you out. I have been
kept waiting, sometimes, for weeks; and it is no unusual thing to
see two or three hundred ships anchored, waiting for the wind to
change."

"Are there any pirates over on that side?" Bob asked, looking
across at the African coast.

"Not about here. Ceuta lies over there. They are good friends with
us, and Gibraltar gets most of its supplies from there. But once
through the Straits we give that coast a wide berth; for the
Algerine pirates are nearly as bad as ever, and would snap up any
ship becalmed on their coast, or that had the bad luck to be blown
ashore. I hope, some day, we shall send a fleet down, and blow the
place about their ears. It makes one's blood boil, to think that
there are hundreds and hundreds of Englishmen working, as slaves,
among the Moors.

"There, do you see that projecting point with a fort on it, and a
town lying behind? That is Tarifa. That used to be a great place,
in the time when the Moors were masters in Spain."

"Yes," the captain, who had just joined them, said. "Tarif was a
great Moorish commander, I have heard, and the place is named after
him. Gibraltar is also named after a Moorish chief, called Tarik
ibn Zeyad."

Bob looked surprised.

"I don't see that it is much like his name, captain."

"No, Master Repton, it doesn't sound much like it, now. The old
name of the place was Gebel Tarik, which means Tank's Hill; and it
is easy to see how Gebel Tarik got gradually changed into
Gibraltar."

In another two hours the Straits were passed, and the Rock of
Gibraltar appeared, rising across a bay to the left.

Illustration: View of Gibraltar from the Mediterranean.

View of Gibraltar from the Mediterranean.

"There is your destination, lad," the captain said. "It is a
strong-looking place, isn't it?"

"It is, indeed, Captain," Bob said, taking the captain's glass from
the top of the skylight, and examining the Rock.

"You see," the captain went on, "the Rock is divided from the
mainland by that low spit of sand. It is only a few hundred yards
wide, and the sea goes round at the back of the Rock, and along the
other side of that spit--though you can't see it from here--so
anything coming to attack it must advance along the spit, under the
fire of the guns.

"There, do you see that building, standing up on the hill above the
town? That is the old Moorish castle, and there are plenty of
modern batteries scattered about near it, though you can't see
them. You see, the Rock rises sheer up from the spit; and it is
only on this side, close to the water's edge, that the place can be
entered.

"The weak side of the place is along this sea face. On the other
side, the Rock rises right out of the water; but on this side, as
you see, it slopes gradually down. There are batteries, all along
by the water's edge; but if the place were attacked by a fleet
strong enough to knock those batteries to pieces, and silence their
guns, a landing could be effected.

"At the southern end you see the rocks are bolder, and there is no
landing there. That is called Europa Point, and there is a battery
there, though you can't make it out, from here."

The scene was a very pretty one, and Bob watched it with the
greatest interest. A frigate, and two men-of-war brigs, were
anchored at some little distance from the Rock; and around them
were some thirty or forty merchantmen, waiting for a change in the
wind to enable them to sail out through the Straits. White-sailed
boats were gliding about among them.

At the head of the bay were villages nestled among trees, while the
country behind was broken and hilly. On the opposite side of the
bay was a town of considerable size, which the captain told him was
Algeciras. It was, he said, a large town at the time of the Moors,
very much larger and more important than Gibraltar. The ground rose
gradually behind it, and was completely covered with foliage,
orchards, and orange groves.

The captain said:

"You see that rock rising at the end of the bay from among the
trees, lads. That is called 'the Queen of Spain's Chair.' It is
said that, at a certain siege when the Moors were here, the then
Queen of Spain took her seat on that rock, and declared she would
never go away till Gibraltar was taken. She also took an oath never
to change her linen, until it surrendered. I don't know how she
managed about it, at last, for the place never did surrender. I
suppose she got a dispensation, and was able to get into clean
clothes again, some day.

"I have heard tell that the Spaniards have a colour that is called
by her name--a sort of dirty yellow. It came out at that time. Of
course, it would not have been etiquette for other ladies to wear
white, when her majesty was obliged to wear dingy garments; so they
all took to having their things dyed, so as to match hers; and the
tint has borne her name, ever since."

"It is a very nasty idea," Bob said; "and I should think she took
pretty good care, afterwards, not to take any oaths. It is hot
enough, now; and I should think, in summer, it must be baking
here."

"It is pretty hot, on the Rock, in summer. You know, they call the
natives of the place Rock scorpions. Scorpions are supposed to like
heat, though I don't know whether they do. You generally find them
lying under pieces of loose rock; but whether they do it for heat,
or to keep themselves cool, I can't say.

"Now, Mr. Probert, you may as well take some of the sail off her.
We will anchor inside those craft, close to the New Mole. They may
want to get her alongside, to unload the government stores we have
brought out; and the nearer we are in, the less trouble it will be
to warp her alongside, tomorrow morning. Of course, if the landing
place is full, they will send lighters out to us."

Illustration: View of Gibraltar from the Bay.

View of Gibraltar from the Bay.

The sails were gradually got off the brig, and she had but little
way on when her anchor was dropped, a cable's length from the end
of the Mole. Scarcely had she brought up when a boat shot out from
the end of the pier.

"Hooray!" Bob shouted. "There are my sister, and Gerald."

"I thought as much," the captain said. "We hoisted our number, as
soon as we came round the point; and the signal station, on the top
of the Rock, would send down the news directly they made out our
colours."

"Well, Bob, it gave me quite a turn," his sister said, after the
first greetings were over, "when we saw how the sails were all
patched, and everyone said that the ship must have been in action.
I was very anxious, till I saw your head above the bulwarks."

"Yes, we have been in a storm, and a fight, and we came pretty near
being taken. Did you get out all right?"

"Yes, we had a very quiet voyage."

The captain then came up, and was introduced.

"I have a box or two for you, madam, in addition to your brother's
kit. Mr. Bale sent them down, a couple of days before we sailed.

"At one time, it didn't seem likely that you would ever see their
contents, for we had a very close shave of it. In the first place,
we had about as bad a gale as I have met with, in crossing the bay;
and were blown into the bight, with the loss of our bowsprit,
fore-topmast and four of our guns, that we had to throw overboard
to lighten her.

"Then a French lugger, that would have been a good deal more than a
match for her, at any time, came up. We might have out sailed her,
if we could have carried all our canvas; but with only a jury
topmast, she was too fast for us. As you may see by our sails, we
had a smart fight but, by the greatest good fortune, we knocked the
mainmast out of her.

"Then we were chased by a French frigate, with the lugger to help
her. However, we gave them the slip in the night, and here we are.

"I am afraid you won't get your brother's boxes, till tomorrow.
Nothing can go ashore till the port officer has been on board, and
the usual formalities gone through. I don't know, yet, whether we
shall discharge into lighters, or go alongside; but I will have
your boxes all put together, in readiness for you, the first thing
in the morning, whichever way it is."

"We shall be very glad if you will dine with us, tomorrow," Captain
O'Halloran said. "We dine at one o'clock or, if that would be
inconvenient for you, come to supper at seven."

"I would rather do that, if you will let me," Captain Lockett
replied. "I shall be pretty busy tomorrow, and you military
gentlemen do give us such a lot of trouble--in the way of papers,
documents, and signatures--that I never like leaving the ship, till
I get rid of the last bale and box with the government brand on
it."

"Very well, then; we shall expect you to supper."

"I shall come down first thing in the morning, captain," Bob said,
"so I need not say goodbye to anyone, now."

"You had better bring only what you may want with you for the
night, Bob," his sister put in, as he was about to run below. "The
cart will take everything else up, together, in the morning."

"Then I shall be ready in a minute," Bob said, running below; and
it was not much more before he reappeared, with a small handbag.

"I shall see you again tomorrow, Mr. Probert. I shall be here about
our luggage;" and he took his place in the boat beside the others,
who had already descended the ladder.

"And you have had a pleasant voyage, Bob?" Captain O'Halloran
asked.

"Very jolly, Gerald; first rate. Captain Lockett was as kind as
could be; and the first mate was very good, too, though I did not
think he would be, when I first saw him; and Joe Lockett, the
second mate, is a capital fellow."

"But how was it that you did not take that French privateer, Bob?
With a fellow like you on board--the capturer of a gang of
burglars, and all that sort of thing--I should have thought that,
instead of running away, you would have gone straight at her; that
you would have thrown yourself on her deck at the head of the
boarders, would have beaten the Frenchmen below, killed their
captain in single combat, and hauled down their flag."

"There is no saying what I might have done," Bob laughed, "if it
had come to boarding; but as it was, I did not feel the least wish
for a closer acquaintance with the privateer. It was too close to
be pleasant, as it was--a good deal too close. It is a pity you
were not there, to have set me an example."

"I am going to do that now, Bob, and I hope you will profit by it.

"Now then, you jump out first, and give Carrie your hand. That is
it."

And, having settled with the boatman, Captain O'Halloran followed
the others' steps. It was a busy scene. Three ships were
discharging their cargoes, and the wharf was covered with boxes and
bales, piles of shot and shell, guns, and cases of ammunition.
Fatigue parties of artillery and infantry men were piling the
goods, or stowing them in handcarts. Goods were being slung down
from the ships, and were swinging in the air, or run down to the
cry of "Look below!"

"Mind how you go, Carrie," Captain O'Halloran said, "or you will be
getting what brains you have knocked out."

"If that is all the danger, Gerald," she laughed, "you are safe,
anyhow.

"Now, Bob, do look out!" she broke off as, while glancing round, he
tripped over a hawser and fell. "Are you hurt?"

"Never mind him, Carrie--look out for yourself. A boy never gets
hurt.

"Now, keep your eyes about you, Bob. You can come and look at all
this, any day."

At last they got to the end of the Mole. Then they passed under an
archway, with a massive gate, at which stood a sentry; then they
found themselves in a sort of yard, surrounded by a high wall, on
the top of which two cannon were pointed down upon them. Crossing
the yard, they passed through another gateway. The ground here rose
sharply, and a hundred yards further back stood another battery;
completely commanding the Mole, and the defences through which they
had passed.

The ground here was comparatively level, rising gradually to the
foot of the rock, which then rose steeply up. A few houses were
scattered about, surrounded by gardens. Hedges of cactus lined the
road. Parties of soldiers and sailors, natives with carts, and
women in picturesque costumes passed along. The vegetation on the
low ground was abundant, and Bob looked with delight at the
semi-tropical foliage.

Turning to the right they followed the road, passed under an
archway in a strong wall, and were in the town, itself.

"We are not living in barracks," Carrie said. "Fortunately there
was no room there, and we draw lodging allowance, and have taken
the upper portion of a Spanish house. It is much more pleasant.
Besides, if we had had to live in quarters, we should have had no
room for you."

"The streets are steep," Bob said. "I can't make out how these
little donkeys keep their feet on the slippery stones, with those
heavy loads.

"Oh! I say, there are two rum-looking chaps. What are they--Moors?"

"Yes. You will see lots of them here, Bob. They come across from
Ceuta, and there are some of them established here, as traders.
What with the Moors, and Spaniards, and Jews, and the sailors from
the shipping, you can hear pretty nearly every European language
spoken, in one walk through the streets."

"Oh, I say, isn't this hot?" Bob exclaimed, mopping his face; "and
isn't there a glare from all these white walls, and houses! How
much higher is it?"

"About another hundred yards, Bob. There, you see, we are getting
beyond the streets now."

They had now reached a flat shoulder; and on this the houses were
somewhat scattered, standing in little inclosures, with hedges of
cactus and geranium, and embowered in shrubs and flowers.

"This is our house," Carrie said, stopping before a rickety wooden
gateway, hung upon two massive posts of masonry. "You see, we have
got a flight of steps outside, and we are quite cut off from the
people below."

They ascended the stairs. At the top there was a sort of wide
porch, with a wooden roof; which was completely covered with
creepers, growing from two wooden tubs. Four or five plants,
covered with blossoms, stood on the low walls; and two or three
chairs showed that the little terrace was used as an open-air
sitting room.

"In another hour, when the sun gets lower, Bob, we can come and sit
here. It is a lovely view, isn't it?"

"Beautiful!" Bob said, leaning on the wall.

Below them lay the sea front, with its gardens and bright foliage
and pretty houses, with Europa Point and the sea stretching away
beyond it. A little to the right were the African hills; and then,
turning slightly round, the Spanish coast, with Algeciras nestled
in foliage, and the bay with all its shipping. The head of the bay
was hidden, for the ground behind was higher than that on which the
house stood.

"Come in, Bob," Captain O'Halloran said. "You had better get out of
the sun. Of course, it is nothing to what it will be; but it is hot
now, and we are none of us acclimatized, yet."

The rooms were of a fair size, but the light-coloured walls gave
them a bare appearance, to Bob's eyes. They were, however,
comfortably furnished, matting being laid down instead of carpets.

"It is cooler, and cheaper," Carrie said, seeing Bob looking at
them.

"This is your room, and this is the kitchen," and she opened the
door into what seemed to Bob a tiny place, indeed.

Across one end was a mass of brickwork, rather higher than an
ordinary table. Several holes, a few inches deep, were scattered
about over this. In some of these small charcoal fires were
burning, and pots were placed over them. There were small openings
from the front, leading to these tiny fireplaces; and a Spanish
girl was driving the air into one of these, with a fan, when they
entered.

"This is my brother, Manola," Mrs. O'Halloran said.

The girl smiled and nodded, and then continued her work.

"She speaks English?" Bob said, as they went out.

"She belongs to the Rock, Bob. Almost all the natives here talk a
little English."

"Where do these steps lead to? I thought we were at the top of the
house."

"Come up and see," Carrie said, leading the way.

Following her, Bob found himself on a flat terrace, extending over
the whole of the house. Several orange trees--in tubs--and many
flowers, and small shrubs in pots stood upon it; and three or four
light cane-work lounging chairs stood apart.

"Here is where we come when the sun is down, Bob. There is no finer
view, we flatter ourselves, anywhere in Gib. Here we receive our
guests, in the evening. We have only begun yet, but we mean to make
a perfect garden of it."

"It is splendid!" Bob said, as he walked round by the low parapet,
and gazed at the view in all directions; "and we can see what
everyone else is doing on their roofs, and no one can look down on
us--except from the rock over there, behind us, and there are no
houses there."

"No, the batteries commanding the neutral ground lie over that
crest, Bob. We are quite shut in, on two sides; but we make up for
it by the extent of our view, on the others. We are very lucky in
getting the place. A regiment went home in the transport that
brought us out. Gerald knew some of the officers, and one of them
had been staying here, and told Gerald of it; and we took it at
once. The other officers' wives are all quite jealous of me and,
though some of them have very nice quarters, it is admitted that,
as far as the view goes, this is by far the best. Besides, it is a
great thing being out of the town, and it does not take Gerald more
than three or four minutes longer to get down to the barracks.

"But now, let us go downstairs. I am sure you must want something
to eat, and we sha'n't have supper for another three hours."

"I dined at twelve," Bob said, "just before we rounded the point,
and I could certainly hold on until supper time Still, I daresay I
could eat something, now."

"Oh, it is only a snack! It is some stewed chicken and some fruit.
That won't spoil your supper, Bob?"

"You will be glad to hear, Bob," Captain O'Halloran said, as the
lad was eating his meal, "that I have secured the services of a
Spanish professor for you. He is to begin next Monday."

Bob's face fell.

"I don't see that there was need for such a hurry," he said,
ruefully, laying down his knife and fork. "I don't see there was
need for any hurry, at all. Besides, of course, I want to see the
place."

"You will be able to see a good deal of it, in four days, Bob; and
your time won't be entirely occupied, when you do begin. The days
are pretty long here, everyone gets up early.

"He is to come at seven o'clock in the morning. You have a cup of
coffee, and some bread and butter and fruit, before that. He will
go at nine, then we have breakfast. Then you will have your time to
yourself, till dinner at half past two. The assistant surgeon of
our regiment--he is a Dublin man--will come to you for Latin, and
what I may call general knowledge, for two hours. That is all;
except, I suppose, that you will work a bit by yourself, of an
evening.

"That is not so bad, is it?"

"What sort of man is the assistant surgeon?" Bob replied,
cautiously. "It all depends how much he is going to give me to do,
in the evening."

"I don't think he will give you anything to do, in the evening,
Bob. Of course, the Spanish is the principal thing, and I told him
that you will have to work at that."

"I don't think you need be afraid, Bob," his sister laughed. "You
won't find Dr. Burke a very severe kind of instructor. Nobody but
Gerald would ever have thought of choosing him."

"Sure, and didn't you agree with me, Carrie," her husband said, in
an aggrieved voice, "that as we were not going to make the boy a
parson, and as it was too much to expect him to learn Spanish, and
a score of other things, at once; that we ought to get someone who
would make his lessons pleasant for him, and not be worrying his
soul out of his body with all sorts of useless balderdash?"

"Yes, we agreed that, Gerald; but there was a limit, and when you
told me you had spoken to Teddy Burke about it, and arranged the
matter with him, I thought you had gone beyond that limit,
altogether."

"He is just the man for Bob, Carrie. That boy will find it mighty
dull here, after a bit, and will want someone to cheer him up. I
promised the old gentleman I would find him someone who could push
Bob on in his humanities; and Teddy Burke has taken his degree at
Dublin, and I will venture to say will get him on faster than a
stiff starched man will do. Bob would always be playing tricks,
with a fellow like that, and be getting into rows with him. There
will be no playing tricks with Teddy Burke, for he is up to the
whole thing, himself."

"I should think he is, Gerald. Well, we will see how it works,
anyhow.

"Go on with your fowl, Bob. You will see all about it, in good
time."

Bob felt satisfied that the teacher his brother-in-law had chosen
for him was not a very formidable personage; and his curiosity as
to what he would be like was satisfied, that evening. After he had
finished his meal, he went for a stroll with Captain O'Halloran
through the town, and round the batteries at that end of the Rock,
returning to supper. After the meal was over, they went up to the
terrace above. There was not a breath of wind, and a lamp on a
table there burned without a flicker.

They had scarcely taken their seats when Manola announced Dr.
Burke, and a minute later an officer in uniform made his appearance
on the terrace. He wore a pair of blue spectacles, and advanced in
a stiff and formal manner.

"I wish you a good evening, Mrs. O'Halloran. So this is our young
friend!

"You are well, I hope, Master Repton; and are none the worse for
the inconveniences I hear you have suffered on your voyage?"

Carrie, to Bob's surprise, burst into a fit of laughter.

"What is the matter, Mrs. O'Halloran?" Dr. Burke asked, looking at
her with an air of mild amazement.

"I am laughing at you, Teddy Burke. How can you be so ridiculous?"

The doctor removed his spectacles.

"Now, Mrs. O'Halloran," he said, with a strong brogue. "Do you call
that acting fairly by me? Didn't you talk to me yourself, half an
hour yesterday, and impress upon me that I ought to be grave and
steady, now that I was going to enter upon the duties of a
pedagogue; and ain't I trying my best to act up to your
instructions, and there you burst out laughing in my face, and
spoil it all, entirely?

"Gerald said to me, 'Now mind, Teddy, it is a responsible affair.
The boy is up to all sorts of divarsions, and divil a bit will he
attend to ye, if he finds that you are as bad, if not worse, than
he is himself.'

"'But,' said I, 'it's Latin and such like that you are wanting me
to teach him; and not manners at all, at all.'

"And he says, 'It is all one. It is quiet and well behaved that you
have got to be, Teddy. The missis has been houlding out about the
iniquity of taking a spalpeen, like yourself; and it is for you to
show her that she is mistaken, altogether.'

"So I said, 'You trust me, Gerald, I will be as grave as a doctor
of divinity.'

"So I got out these glasses--which I bought because they told me
that they would be wanted here, to keep out the glare of the
sun--and I came here, and spoke as proper as might be; and then,
Mrs. O'Halloran, you burst out laughing in my face, and destroy the
whole effect of these spectacles, and all.

"Well, we must make the best of a bad business; and we will try,
for a bit, anyhow. If he won't mind me, Gerald must go to the
chaplain, as he intended to; and I pity the boy, then. I would
rather be had up before the colonel, any day, than have any matter
in dispute with him."

"You are too bad, Teddy Burke," Mrs. O'Halloran said, still
laughing. "It was all very well for you to try and look sensible,
but to put on that face was too absurd. You know you could not have
kept it up for five minutes.

"No, I don't think it will do," and she looked serious now. "I
always thought that it was out of the question, but this bad
beginning settles it."

But Bob, who had been immensely amused, now broke in.

"Why not, Carrie? I am sure I should work better, for Dr. Burke,
than I should for anyone who was very strict and stiff. One is
always wanting to do something, with a man like that: to play
tricks with his wig or pigtail, or something of that sort. You
might let us try, anyhow; and if Dr. Burke finds that I am not
attentive, and don't mind him, then you can put me with somebody
else."

"Sure, we shall get on first rate, Mrs. O'Halloran. Gerald says the
boy is a sensible boy, and that he has been working very well under
an old uncle of yours. He knows for himself that it's no use his
having a master, if he isn't going to try his best to get on. When
I was at school, I used to get larrupped every day; and used to
think, to myself, what a grand thing it would be to have a master
just like what Dr. Burke, M.D., Dublin, is now; and I expect it is
just about the same, with him. We sha'n't work any the worse
because, maybe, we will joke over it, sometimes."

"Very well, then, we will try, Teddy; though I know the whole
regiment will think Gerald and I have gone mad, when they hear
about it. But I shall keep my eye upon you both."

"The more you keep your eye upon me, the better I shall be plazed,
Mrs. O'Halloran; saving your husband's presence," the doctor said,
insinuatingly.

"Do sit down and be reasonable, Teddy. There are cigars in that box
on the table."

"The tobacco here almost reconciles one to living outside Ireland,"
Dr. Burke said, as he lit a cigar, and seated himself in one of the
comfortable chairs. "Just about a quarter the price they are at
home, and brandy at one shilling per bottle. It is lucky for the
country that we don't get them at that price, in Ireland; for it is
mighty few boys they would get to enlist, if they could get tobacco
and spirits at such prices, at home."

"I have been telling Gerald that it will be much better for him to
drink claret, out here," Mrs. O'Halloran said.

"And you are not far wrong," the doctor agreed; "but the native
wines here are good enough for me, and you can get them at sixpence
a quart. I was telling them, at mess yesterday, that we must not
write home and tell them about it; or faith, there would be such an
emigration that the Rock wouldn't hold the people--not if you were
to build houses all over it. Sixpence a quart, and good sound
tipple!

"Sure, and it was a mighty mistake of Providence that Ireland was
not dropped down into the sea, off the coast of Spain. What a
country it would have been!"

"I don't know, Teddy," Captain O'Halloran said. "As the people
don't kill themselves with overwork, now, I doubt if they would
ever work at all, if they had the excuse of a hot climate for doing
nothing."

"There would not have been so much need, Gerald. They needn't have
bothered about the thatch, when it only rains once in six months,
or so; while as for clothes, it is little enough they would have
needed. And the bogs would all have dried up, and they would have
had crops without more trouble than just scratching the ground, and
sowing in the seed; and they would have grown oranges, instead of
praties. Oh, it would have been a great country, entirely!"

The doctor's three listeners all went off into a burst of laughter,
at the seriousness with which he spoke.

"But you would have had trouble with your pigs," Mrs. O'Halloran
said. "The Spanish pigs are wild, fierce-looking beasts, and would
never be content to share the cottages."

"Ah! But we would have had Irish pigs just the same as now. Well,
what do you think--" and he broke off suddenly, sitting upright,
and dropping the brogue altogether--"they were saying, at mess,
that the natives declare there are lots of Spanish troops moving
down in this direction; and that a number of ships are expected,
with stores, at Algeciras."

"Well, what of that?" Mrs. O'Halloran asked. "We are at peace with
Spain. What does it matter where they move their troops, or land
stores?"

"That is just the thing. We are at peace with them, sure enough;
but that is no reason why we should be always at peace. You know
how they hate seeing our flag flying over the Rock; and they may
think that, now we have got our hands full with France, and the
American colonists, it will be the right time for them to join in
the scrimmage, and see if they can't get the Rock back again."

"But they would never go to war, without any ground of complaint!"

"I don't know, Mrs. O'Halloran. When one wants to pick a quarrel
with a man, it is always a mighty easy thing to do so. You can
tread on his toe, and ask him what he put it there for; or sit down
on his hat, and swear that he put it on the chair on purpose; or
tell him that you do not like the colour of his hair, or that his
nose isn't the shape that pleases you. It is the easiest thing in
the world to find something to quarrel about, when you have a mind
for it."

"Are you quite serious, Teddy?"

"Never more serious in my life.

"Have you heard about it, Gerald?"

"I heard them saying something about it, when we were waiting for
the colonel on parade, this morning; but I did not think much of
it."

"Well, of course, it mayn't be true, Gerald; but the colonel and
major both seemed to think that there was something in it. It
seems, from what they said, that the governor has had letters that
seemed to confirm the news that several regiments are on the march
south; and that stores are being collected at Cadiz, and some of
the other seaports. There is nothing, as far as we know, specially
said about Gibraltar; but what else can they be getting ready for,
unless it is to cross the Straits and attack the Moors--and they
are at peace with them, at present, just as they are with us? I
mean to think that they are coming here, till we are downright sure
they are not. The news is so good, I mean to believe that it is
true, as long as I can."

"For shame, Teddy!" Mrs. O'Halloran said. "You can't be so wicked
as to hope that they are going to attack us?"

"And it is exactly that point of wickedness I have arrived at," the
doctor said, again dropping into the brogue. "In the first place,
sha'n't we need something, to kape us from dying entirely of
nothing to do at all, at all, in this wearisome old place? We are
fresh to it, and we are not tired, yet, of the oranges and the wine
and the cigars, and the quare people you see in the streets; but
the regiments that have been here some time are just sick of their
lives. Then, in the second place, how am I going to learn my
profession, if we are going to stop here, quiet and peaceful, for
years? Didn't I come into the army to study gunshot wounds and,
barring duels, divil a wound have I seen since I joined. It's
getting rusty I am, entirely; and there is the elegant case of
instruments my aunt gave me, that have never been opened. By the
same token, I will have them out and oil them, in the morning."

"Don't talk in that way, Teddy. You ought to be ashamed of
yourself. It seems to me that you are making a great to-do about
nothing. Some soldiers have been marched somewhere in Spain, and
all this talk is made up about it. They must know, very well, they
can't take the Rock. They tried it once, and I should have thought
they would not be in a hurry to try it again. I shall believe in it
when I see it.

"You need not look so delighted, Bob. If there should be any
trouble--and it seems nonsense even to think about such a
thing--but if there should be any, we should put you on board the
very first vessel sailing for England, and get you off our minds."

Bob laughed.

"I should go down and ship as a powder monkey, on one of the ships
of war; or enlist as a drummer, in one of the regiments; and then I
should be beyond your authority, altogether."

"I begin to think you are beyond my authority already, Bob.

"Gerald, I am afraid we did a very foolish thing in agreeing to
have this boy out here."

"Well, we have got him on our hands now, Carrie; and it is early,
yet, for you to find out your mistake.

"Well, if there should be a siege--"

"You know there is no chance of it, Gerald."

"Well, I only say if, and we are cut off from all the world, he
will be a companion to you, and keep you alive, while I am in the
batteries."

"I won't hear such nonsense talked any more, Gerald; and if Teddy
Burke is going to bring us every bit of absurd gossip that may be
picked up from the peasants, he can stay away, altogether."

"Except when he comes to instruct his pupil, Mrs. O'Halloran."

"Oh, that is not likely to last long, Dr. Burke!"

"That is to be seen, Mrs. O'Halloran. It is a nice example you are
setting him of want of respect for his instructor. I warn you that,
before another six months have passed, you will have to confess
that it has been just the very best arrangement that could have
been made; and will thank your stars that Dr. Edward Burke, M.D.,
of Dublin, happened to be here, ready to your hand."



Chapter 7: Troubles Ahead.


When Dr. Burke had left, Bob broke into an Indian war dance,
expressive of the deepest satisfaction; and Captain O'Halloran
burst into a shout of laughter at the contrast between the boy's
vehement delight, and the dissatisfaction expressed in his wife's
face.

"I am not at all pleased, Gerald, not at all; and I don't see that it
is any laughing matter. I never heard a more ridiculous thing.  Uncle
intrusted Bob to our care, believing that we should do what was best for
him; and here you go and engage the most feather-headed Irishman in the
garrison--and that is saying a good deal, Gerald--to look after him."

It was so seldom that Carrie took matters seriously that her
husband ceased laughing, at once.

"Well, Carrie, there is no occasion to put yourself out about it.
The experiment can be tried for a fortnight; and if, at the end of
that time, you are not satisfied, we will get someone else. But I
am sure it will work well."

"So am I, Carrie," Bob put in. "I believe Dr. Burke and I will get
on splendidly. You see, I have been with two people, both of whom
looked as grave as judges, and one of them as cross as a bear; and
yet they were both first-rate fellows. It seems to me that Dr.
Burke is just the other way. He turns everything into fun; but I
expect he will be just as sharp, when he is at lessons, as anyone
else. At any rate, you may be sure that I will do my best with him;
so as not to get put under some stiff old fellow, instead of him."

"Well, we shall see, Bob. I hope that it will turn out well, I am
sure."

"Of course it will turn out well, Carrie. Why, didn't your uncle at
first think I was the most harum-scarum fellow he ever saw; and now
he sees that I am a downright model husband, with only one fault,
and that is that I let you have your own way, altogether."

"It looks like it, on the present occasion, Gerald," his wife
laughed. "I will give it, as you say, a fortnight's trial. I only
hope that you have made a better choice for Bob's Spanish master."

"I hope so, my dear--that is, if it is possible. The professor, as
I call him, has been teaching his language to officers, here, for
the last thirty years. He is a queer, wizened-up little old chap,
and has got out of the way of bowing and scraping that the senors
generally indulge in; but he seems a cheery little old soul, and he
has got to understand English ways and, at any rate, there is no
fear of his leading Bob into mischief. The Spaniards don't
understand that; and if you were to ruffle his dignity, he would
throw up teaching him at once; and I have not heard of another man
on the Rock who would be likely to suit."

On the following Monday, Bob began work with the professor; who
called himself, on his card, Don Diaz Martos. He spoke English very
fairly and, after the first half hour, Bob found that the lessons
would be much more pleasant than he expected. The professor began
by giving him a long sentence to learn by heart, thoroughly; and
when Bob had done this, parsed each word with him, so that he
perfectly understood its meaning. Then he made the lad say it after
him a score of times, correcting his accent and inflection; and
when he was satisfied with this, began to construct fresh sentences
out of the original one, again making Bob repeat them, and form
fresh ones himself.

Thus, by the time the first lesson was finished the lad, to his
surprise, found himself able, without difficulty, to frame
sentences from the words he had learned. Then the professor wrote
down thirty nouns and verbs in common use.

"You will learn them this evening," he said, "and in the morning we
shall be able to make up a number of sentences out of them and, by
the end of a week, you will see we shall begin to talk to each
other. After that, it will be easy. Thirty fresh words, every day,
will be ample. In a month you will know seven or eight hundred; and
seven or eight hundred are enough for a man to talk with, on common
occasions."

"He is first rate," Bob reported to his sister, as they sat down to
dinner, at one o'clock. "You would hardly believe that I can say a
dozen little sentences, already; and can understand him, when he
says them. He says, in a week, we shall be able to get to talk
together.

"I wonder they don't teach Latin like that. Why, I shall know in
two or three months as much Spanish--and more, ever so much
more--than I do Latin, after grinding away at it for the last seven
or eight years."

"Well, that is satisfactory. I only hope the other will turn out as
well."

As Mrs. O'Halloran sat that evening, with her work in her hand, on
the terrace; with her husband, smoking a cigar, beside her. She
paused, several times, as she heard a burst of laughter.

"That doesn't sound like master and pupil," she said, sharply,
after an unusually loud laugh from below.

"More the pity, Carrie. Why on earth shouldn't a master be capable
of a joke? Do you think one does not learn all the faster, when the
lecture is pleasant? I know I would, myself. I never could see why
a man should look as if he was going to an execution, when he wants
to instil knowledge."

"But it is not usual, Gerald," Carrie remonstrated, no other
argument occurring to her.

"But that doesn't prove that it's wrong. Why a boy should be driven
worse than a donkey, and thrashed until his life is a burden to
him, and he hates his lessons and hates his master, beats me
entirely. Some day they will go more sensibly to work.

"You see, in the old times, Carrie, men used to beat their wives;
and you don't think the women were any the better for it, do you?"

"Of course they weren't," Carrie said, indignantly.

"But it was usual, you know, Carrie, just as you say that it is
usual for masters to beat boys--as if they would do nothing,
without being thrashed. I can't see any difference between the two
things."

"I can see a great deal of difference, sir!"

"Well, what is the difference, Carrie?"

But Carrie disdained to give any answer. Still, as she sat sewing
and thinking the matter over, she acknowledged to herself that she
really could not see any good and efficient reason why boys should
be beaten, any more than women.

"But women don't do bad things, like boys," she said, breaking
silence at last.

"Don't they, Carrie? I am not so sure of that. I have heard of
women who are always nagging their husbands, and giving them no
peace of their lives. I have heard of women who think of nothing
but dress, and who go about and leave their homes and children to
shift for themselves. I have heard of women who spend all their
time spreading scandal. I have heard of--"

"There, that is enough," Carrie broke in hastily. "But you don't
mean to say that they would be any the better for beating, Gerald?"

"I don't know, Carrie; I should think perhaps they might be,
sometimes. At any rate, I think that they deserve a beating quite
as much as a boy does, for neglecting to learn a lesson or for
playing some prank--which comes just as naturally, to him, as
mischief does to a kitten. For anything really bad, I would beat a
boy as long as I could stand over him. For lying, or thieving, or
any mean, dirty trick I would have no mercy on him. But that is a
very different thing to keeping the cane always going, at school,
as they do now.

"But here comes Bob. Well, Bob, is the doctor gone? Didn't you ask
him to come up, and have a cigar?"

"Yes; but he said he had got two or three cases at the hospital he
must see, and would wait until this evening."

"How have you got on, Bob?"

"Splendidly. I wonder why they don't teach at school, like that."

"It didn't sound much like teaching," Carrie said, severely.

"I don't suppose it did, Carrie; but it was teaching, for all that.
Why, I have learned as much, this evening, as I did in a dozen
lessons, in school. He explains everything so that you seem to
understand it, at once; and he puts things, sometimes, in such a
droll way, and brings in such funny comparisons, that you can't
help laughing. But you understand it, for all that, and are not
likely to forget it.

"Don't you be afraid, Carrie. If Dr. Burke teaches me, for the two
years that I am going to be here, I shall know more than I should
have done if I had stopped at Tulloch's till I was an old man. I
used to learn lessons, there, and get through them, somehow, but I
don't think I ever understood why things were so; while Dr. Burke
explains everything so that you seem to understand all about it, at
once. And he is pretty sharp, too. He takes a tremendous lot of
pains, himself; but I can see he will expect me to take a
tremendous lot of pains, too."

At the end of a fortnight, Carrie made no allusion to the subject
of a change of masters. The laughing downstairs still scandalized
her, a little; but she saw that Bob really enjoyed his lessons and,
although she herself could not test what progress he was making,
his assurances on that head satisfied her.

The Brilliant had sailed on a cruise, the morning after Bob's
arrival; but as soon as he heard that she had again dropped anchor
in the bay, he took a boat and went out to her; and returned on
shore with Jim Sankey, who had obtained leave for the afternoon.
The two spent hours in rambling about the Rock, and talking of old
times at Tulloch's. Both agreed that the most fortunate thing that
ever happened had been the burglary at Admiral Langton's; which had
been the means of Jim's getting into the navy, and Bob's coming out
to Gibraltar, to his sister.

Jim had lots to tell of his shipmates, and his life on board the
Brilliant. He was disposed to pity Bob spending half his day at
lessons; and was astonished to find that his friend really enjoyed
it, and still more that he should already have begun to pick up a
little Spanish.

"You can't help it, with Don Diaz," Bob said. "He makes you go over
a sentence, fifty times, until you say it in exactly the same voice
he does--I mean the same accent. He says it slow, at first, so that
I can understand him; and then faster and faster, till he speaks in
his regular voice. Then I have to make up another sentence, in
answer. It is good fun, I can tell you; and yet one feels that one
is getting on very fast. I thought it would take years before I
should be able to get on anyhow in Spanish; but he says if I keep
on sticking to it, I shall be able to speak pretty nearly like a
native, in six months' time. I quite astonish Manola--that is our
servant--by firing off sentences in Spanish at her. My sister
Carrie says she shall take to learning with the Don, too."

"Have you had any fun since you landed, Bob?"

"No; not regular fun, you know. It has been very jolly. I go down
with Gerald--Carrie's husband, you know--to the barracks, and I
know most of the officers of his regiment now, and I walk about a
bit by myself; but I have not gone beyond the Rock, yet."

"You must get a long day's leave, Bob; and we will go across the
neutral ground, into Spain, together."

"Gerald said that, as I was working so steadily, I might have a
holiday, sometimes, if I did not ask for it too often. I have been
three weeks at it, now. I am sure I can go for a day, when I like,
so it will depend on you."

"I sha'n't be able to come ashore for another four or five days,
after having got away this afternoon. Let us see, this is
Wednesday, I will try to get leave for Monday."

"Have you heard, Jim, there is a talk about Spanish troops moving
down here, and that they think Spain is going to join France and
try to take this place?"

"No, I haven't heard a word about it," Jim said, opening his eyes.
"You don't really mean it?"

"Yes, that is what the officers say. Of course, they don't know for
certain; but there is no doubt the country people have got the idea
into their heads, and the natives on the Rock certainly believe
it."

"Hooray! That would be fun," Jim said. "We have all been grumbling,
on board the frigate, at being stuck down here without any chance
of picking up prizes; or of falling in with a Frenchman, except we
go on a cruise. Why, you have seen twice as much fun as we have,
though you only came out in a trader. Except that we chased a craft
that we took for a French privateer, we haven't seen an enemy since
we came out from England; and we didn't see much of her, for she
sailed right away from us. While you have had no end of fighting,
and a very narrow escape of being taken to a French prison."

"Too narrow to be pleasant, Jim. I don't think there would be much
fun to be got out of a French prison."

"I don't know, Bob. I suppose it would be dull, if you were alone;
but if you and I were together, I feel sure we should have some
fun, and should make our escape, somehow."

"Well, we might try," Bob said, doubtfully. "But you see, not many
fellows do make their escape; and as sailors are up to climbing
ropes, and getting over walls, and all that sort of thing, I should
think they would do it, if it could be managed anyhow."

Upon the following day--when Bob was in the anteroom of the mess
with Captain O'Halloran, looking at some papers that had been
brought by a ship that had come in that morning--the colonel
entered, accompanied by Captain Langton. The officers all stood up,
and the colonel introduced them to Captain Langton--who was, he
told them, going to dine at the mess that evening. After he had
done this, Captain Langton's eye fell upon Bob; who smiled, and
made a bow.

"I ought to know you," the captain said. "I have certainly seen
your face somewhere."

"It was at Admiral Langton's, sir. My name is Bob Repton."

"Of course it is," the officer said, shaking him cordially by the
hand. "But what on earth are you doing here? I thought you had
settled down somewhere in the city; with an uncle, wasn't it?"

"Yes, sir; but I have come out here to learn Spanish."

"Have you seen your friend Sankey?"

"Yes, sir. I went on board the frigate to see him, yesterday
afternoon; and he got leave to come ashore with me, for two or
three hours."

"He ought to have let me know that you were here," the captain
said. "Who are you staying with, lad?"

"With Captain O'Halloran, sir, my brother-in-law," Bob said,
indicating Gerald, who had already been introduced to Captain
Langton.

"I daresay you are surprised at my knowing this young gentleman,"
he said, turning to Colonel Cochrane, "but he did my father, the
admiral, a great service. He and three other lads, under his
leadership, captured four of the most notorious burglars in London,
when they were engaged in robbing my father's house. It was a most
gallant affair, I can assure you; and the four burglars swung for
it, a couple of months later. I have one of the lads as a
midshipman, on board my ship; and I offered a berth to Repton but,
very wisely, he decided to remain on shore, where his prospects
were good."

"Why, O'Halloran, you never told me anything about this," the
colonel said.

"No, sir. Bob asked me not to say anything about it. I think he is
rather shy of having it talked about; and it is the only thing of
which he is shy as far as I have discovered."

"Well, we must hear the story," the colonel said. "I hope you will
dine at mess, this evening, and bring him with you. He shall tell
us the story over our wine. I am curious to know how four boys can
have made such a capture."

After mess that evening Bob told the story, as modestly as he
could.

"There, colonel," Captain Langton said, when he had finished. "You
see that, if these stories I hear are true, and the Spaniards are
going to make a dash for Gibraltar, you have got a valuable
addition to your garrison."

"Yes, indeed," the colonel laughed. "We will make a volunteer of
him. He has had some little experience of standing fire, for
O'Halloran told me that the brig he came out in had fought a sharp
action with a privateer of superior force; and indeed, when she
came in here, her sails were riddled with shot holes."

"Better and better," Captain Langton laughed.

"Well, Repton, remember whenever you are disposed for a cruise, I
shall be glad to take you as passenger. Sankey will make you at
home in the midshipmen's berth. If the Spaniards declare war with
us, we shall have stirring times at sea, as well as on shore and,
though you won't get any share in any prize money we may win, while
you are on board, you will have part of the honour; and you see,
making captures is quite in your line."

The next day, Captain O'Halloran and Bob dined on board the
Brilliant. Captain Langton introduced the lad to his officers,
telling them that he wished him to be considered as being free on
board the ship, whether he himself happened to be on board or not,
when he came off.

"But you must keep an eye on him, Mr. Hardy, while he is on board,"
he said to the first lieutenant.

"Mr. Sankey," and he nodded at Jim, who was among those invited,
"is rather a pickle, but from what I hear Repton is worse. So you
will have to keep a sharp eye upon them, when they are together;
and if they are up to mischief, do not hesitate to masthead both of
them. A passenger on board one of His Majesty's ships is amenable
to discipline, like anyone else."

"I will see to it, sir," the lieutenant said, laughing. "Sankey
knows the way up, already."

"Yes. I think I observed him taking a view of the shore from that
elevation, this morning."

Jim coloured hotly.

"Yes, sir," the lieutenant said. "The doctor made a complaint that
his leeches had got out of their bottle, and were all over the
ship; and I fancy one of them got into his bed, somehow. He had
given Mr. Sankey a dose of physic in the morning; and remembered
afterwards that, while he was making up the medicine, Sankey had
been doing something in the corner where his bottles were. When I
questioned Sankey about it, he admitted that he had observed the
leeches, but declined to criminate himself farther. So I sent him
aloft for an hour or two, to meditate upon the enormity of wasting
His Majesty's medical stores."

"I hope, Captain O'Halloran," the captain said, "that you have less
trouble with your brother-in-law than we have with his friend."

"Bob hasn't had much chance, yet," Captain O'Halloran said,
laughing. "He is new to the place, as yet; and besides, he is
really working hard, and hasn't much time for mischief; but I don't
flatter myself that it is going to last."

"Well, Mr. Sankey, you may as well take your friend down, and
introduce him formally to your messmates," the captain said; and
Jim, who had been feeling extremely uncomfortable since the talk
had turned on the subject of mastheading, rose and made his escape
with Bob, leaving the elders to their wine.

The proposed excursion to the Spanish lines did not come off, as
the Brilliant put to sea again, on the day fixed for it. She was
away a fortnight and, on her return, the captain issued orders that
none of the junior officers, when allowed leave, were to go beyond
the lines; for the rumours of approaching troubles had become
stronger and, as the peasantry were assuming a somewhat hostile
attitude, any act of imprudence might result in trouble. Jim often
had leave to come ashore in the afternoon and, as this was the time
that Bob had to himself, they wandered together all over the Rock,
climbed up the flagstaff, and made themselves acquainted with all
the paths and precipices.

Their favourite place was the back of the Rock; where the cliff, in
many places, fell sheer away for hundreds of feet down into the
sea. They had many discussions as to the possibility of climbing up
on that side, though both agreed that it would be impossible to
climb down.

"I should like to try, awfully," Bob said, one day early in June,
as they were leaning on a low wall looking down to the sea.

"But it would never do to risk getting into a scrape here. It
wouldn't, indeed, Bob. They don't understand jokes at Gib. One
would be had up before the big wigs, and court-martialled, and
goodness knows what. Of course, it is jolly being ashore; but one
never gets rid of the idea that one is a sort of prisoner. There
are the regulations about what time you may come off, and what time
the gate is closed and, if you are a minute late, there you are
until next morning. Whichever way one turns there are sentries; and
you can't pass one way, and you can't go back another way, and
there are some of the batteries you can't go into, without a
special order. It never would do to try any nonsense, here.

"Look at that sentry up there. I expect he has got his eye on us,
now; and if he saw us trying to get down, he would take us for
deserters and fire. There wouldn't be any fear of his hitting us;
but the nearest guard would turn out, and we should be arrested and
reported, and all sorts of things. It wouldn't matter so much for
you, but I should get my leave stopped altogether, and should get
into the captain's black books.

"No, no. I don't mind running a little risk of breaking my neck,
but not here on the Rock. I would rather get into ten scrapes, on
board the frigate, than one here."

"Yes, I suppose it can't be done," Bob agreed; "but I should have
liked to swing myself down to one of those ledges. There would be
such a scolding and shrieking among the birds."

"Yes, that would be fun; but as it might bring on the same sort of
row among the authorities, I would rather leave it alone.

"I expect we shall soon get leave to go across the lines again.
There doesn't seem to be any chance of a row with the dons; I
expect it was all moonshine, from the first. Why, they say Spain is
trying to patch up the quarrel between us and France. She would not
be doing that, if she had any idea of going to war with us,
herself."

"I don't know, Jim. Gerald and Dr. Burke were talking it over last
night, and Gerald said just what you do; and then Dr. Burke said:

"'You are wrong, entirely, Gerald. That is just the dangerous part
of the affair. Why should Spain want to put a stop to the war
between us and the frog eaters? Sure, wouldn't she look on with the
greatest pleasure in life, while we cut each other's throats and
blew up each other's ships, and put all the trade of the
Mediterranean into her hands? Why, it is the very thing that suits
her best.'

"'Then what is she after putting herself forward for, Teddy?'
Gerald said.

"'Because she wants to have a finger in the pie, Gerald. It
wouldn't be dacent for her to say to England:

"'"It is in a hole you are, at present, wid your hands full; and so
I am going to take the opportunity of pitching into you."

"'So she begins by stipping forward as the dear friend of both
parties; and she says:

"'"What are you breaking each other's heads for, boys? Make up your
quarrel, and shake hands."

"'Then she sets to and proposes terms--which she knows mighty well
we shall never agree to, for the letters we had, the other day
said, that it was reported that the proposals of Spain were
altogether unacceptable--and then, when we refuse, she turns round
and says:

"'"You have put yourself in the wrong, entirely. I gave you a
chance of putting yourself in the right, and it is a grave insult
to me for you to refuse to accept my proposals. So there is nothing
for me to do, now, but just to join with France, and give you the
bating you desarve."'

"That is Teddy Burke's idea, Jim; and though he is so full of fun,
he is awfully clever, and has got no end of sense; and I'd take his
opinion about anything. You see how he has got me on, in these four
months, in Latin and things. Why, I have learnt more, with him,
than I did all the time I was at Tulloch's. He says most likely the
negotiations will be finished, one way or the other, by the middle
of this month; and he offered to bet Gerald a gallon of whisky that
there would be a declaration of war, by Spain, before the end of
the month."

"Did he?" Jim said, in great delight. "Well, I do hope he is right.
We are all getting precious tired, I can assure you, of broiling
down there in the harbour. The decks are hot enough to cook a steak
upon. When we started, today, we didn't see a creature in the
streets. Everyone had gone off to bed, for two or three hours; and
the shops were all closed, as if it had been two o'clock at night,
instead of two o'clock in the day. Even the dogs were all asleep,
in the shade. I think we shall have to give up our walks, till
August is over. It is getting too hot for anything, in the
afternoon."

"Well, it is hot," Bob agreed. "Carrie said I was mad, coming out
in it today; and should get sunstroke, and all sort of things; and
Gerald said at dinner that, if it were not against the regulations,
he would like to shave his head, instead of plastering it all over
with powder."

"I call it disgusting," Jim said, heartily. "That is the one thing
I envy you in. I shouldn't like to be grinding away at books, as
you do; and you don't have half the fun I do, on shore here without
any fellows to have larks with; but not having to powder your hair
almost makes up for it. I don't mind it, in winter, because it
makes a sort of thatch for the head; but it is awful, now. I feel
just as if I had got a pudding crust all over my head."

"Well, that is appropriate, Jim," laughed Bob; and then Jim chased
him all along the path, till they got within sight of a sentry in a
battery; and then his dignity as midshipman compelled them to
desist, and the pair walked gravely down into the town.

That evening after lessons were over Dr. Burke, as usual, went up
on to the terrace to smoke a cigar with Captain O'Halloran.

"It is a pity altogether, Mrs. O'Halloran," he said, as he stood by
her side, looking over the moonlit bay, with the dark hulls of the
ships and the faint lights across at Algeciras, "that we can't do
away with the day, and have nothing but night of it, for four or
five months in the year. I used to think it must be mighty
unpleasant for the Esquimaux; but faith, I envy them now. Fancy
five or six months without catching a glimpse of that burning old
sun!"

"I don't suppose they think so," Mrs. O'Halloran laughed, "but it
would be pleasant here. The heat has been dreadful, all day; and it
is really only after sunset that one begins to enjoy life."

"You may well say that, Mrs. O'Halloran. Faith, I wish they would
let me take off my coat, and do my work in my shirtsleeves down at
the hospital. Sure, it is a strange idea these military men have
got in their heads, that a man isn't fit for work unless he is
buttoned so tightly up to the chin that he is red in the face. If
nature had meant it, we should have been born in a suit of scale
armour, like a crocodile.

"Well, there is one consolation--if there is a siege, I expect
there will be an end of hair powder and cravats. It's the gineral
rule, on a campaign; and it is worth standing to be shot at, to
have a little comfort in one's life."

"Do you think that there is any chance at all of the Spaniards
taking the place, if they do besiege us?" Bob asked, as Dr. Burke
took his seat.

"None of taking the place by force, Bob. It has been besieged, over
and over again; and it is pretty nearly always by hunger that it
has fallen. That is where the pinch will come, if they besiege us
in earnest: it's living on mice and grass you are like to be,
before it is over."

"But the fleet will bring in provisions, surely, Dr. Burke?"

"The fleet will have all it can do to keep the sea, against the
navies of France and Spain. They will do what they can, you may be
sure; but the enemy well know that it is only by starving us out
that they can hope to take the place, and I expect they will put
such a fleet here that it will be mighty difficult for even a boat
to find its way in between them."

"Do you know about the other sieges?" Mrs. O'Halloran asked. "Of
course, I know something about the last siege; but I know nothing
about the history of the Rock before that, and of course Gerald
doesn't know."

"And why should I, Carrie? You don't suppose that when I was at
school, at Athlone, they taught me the history of every bit of rock
sticking up on the face of the globe? I had enough to do to learn
about the old Romans--bad cess to them, and all their bothering
doings!"

"I can tell you about it, Mrs. O'Halloran," Teddy Burke said.
"Bob's professor, who comes to have a talk with me for half an hour
every day, has been telling me all about it; and if Gerald will
move himself, and mix me a glass of grog to moisten my throat, I
will give you the whole story of it.

"You know, no doubt, that it was called Mount Calpe, by Gerald's
friends the Romans; who called the hill opposite there Mount Abyla,
and the two together the Pillars of Hercules. But beyond giving it
a name, they don't seem to have concerned themselves with it; nor
do the Phoenicians or Carthaginians, though all of them had cities
out in the low country.

"It was when the Saracens began to play their games over here that
we first hear of it. Roderic, you know, was king of the Goths, and
seems to have been a thundering old tyrant; and one of his nobles,
Julian--who had been badly treated by him--went across with his
family into Africa, and put up Mousa, the Saracen governor of the
province across there, to invade Spain. They first of all made a
little expedition--that was in 711--with one hundred horse, and
four hundred foot. They landed over there at Algeciras and, after
doing some plundering and burning, sailed back again, with the news
that the country could be conquered. So next year twelve thousand
men, under a chief named Tarik, crossed and landed on the flat
between the Rock and Spain. He left a party here to build the
castle; and then marched away, defeated Roderic and his army at
Xeres, and soon conquered the whole of Spain, except the mountains
of the north.

"We don't hear much more of Gibraltar for another six hundred
years. Algeciras had become a fortress of great strength and
magnificence, and Gibraltar was a mere sort of outlying post.
Ferdinand the Fourth of Spain besieged Algeciras for years, and
could not take it; but a part of his army attacked Gibraltar, and
captured it. The African Moors came over to help their friends, and
Ferdinand had to fall back; but the Spaniards still held
Gibraltar--a chap named Vasco Paez de Meira being in command.

"In 1333 Abomelique, son of the Emperor of Fez, came across with an
army and besieged Gibraltar. Vasco held out for five months, and
was then starved into surrender, just as Alonzo the Eleventh was
approaching to his assistance. He arrived before the town, five
days after it surrendered, and attacked the castle; but the Moors
encamped on the neutral ground in his rear, and cut him off from
his supplies; and he was obliged at last to negotiate, and was
permitted to retire. He was not long away. Next time he attacked
Algeciras; which, after a long siege, he took in 1343.

"In 1349 there were several wars in Africa, and he took advantage
of this to besiege Gibraltar. He was some months over the business,
and the garrison were nearly starved out; when pestilence broke out
in the Spanish camp, by which the king and many of his soldiers
died, and the rest retired.

"It was not until sixty years afterwards, in 1410, that there were
fresh troubles; and then they were what might be called family
squabbles. The Africans of Fez had held the place, till then; but
the Moorish king of Grenada suddenly advanced upon it, and took it.
A short time afterwards, the inhabitants rose against the Spanish
Moors, and turned them out, and the Emperor of Morocco sent over an
army to help them; but the Moors of Grenada besieged the place, and
took it by famine.

"In 1435 the Christians had another slap at it; but Henry de
Guzman, who attacked by sea, was defeated and killed. In 1462 the
greater part of the garrison of Gibraltar was withdrawn to take
part in some civil shindy, that was going on at Grenada; and in
their absence the place was taken by John de Guzman, duke of
Medina-Sidonia, and son of the Henry that was killed. In 1540
Gibraltar was surprised and pillaged by one of Barossa's captains;
but as he was leaving some Christian galleys met him, and the
corsairs were all killed or taken.

"This was really the only affair worth speaking of between 1462,
when it fell into the hands of the Spaniards, and 1704, when it was
captured by us. Sir George Rooke, who had gone out with a force to
attack Cadiz--finding that there was not much chance of success in
that direction--resolved, with Prince George of Hesse and
Darmstadt--who commanded the troops on board the fleet--to make an
attack on Gibraltar.

"On the 21st of July, 1704, the English and Dutch landed on the
neutral ground and, at daybreak on the 23rd, the fleet opened fire.
The Spaniards were driven from their guns on the Molehead Battery.
The boats landed, and seized the battery, and held it in spite of
the Spaniards springing a mine, which killed two lieutenants and
about forty men. The Marquis de Salines, the governor, was then
summoned, and capitulated. So you see, we made only a day's work of
taking a place which the Spaniards thought that they had made
impregnable. The professor made a strong point of it that the
garrison consisted only of a hundred and fifty men; which certainly
accounts for our success, for it is no use having guns and walls,
if you haven't got soldiers to man them.

"The Prince of Hesse was left as governor; and it was not long
before his mettle was tried for, in October, the Spanish army, with
six battalions of Frenchmen, opened trenches against the town.
Admiral Sir John Leake threw in reinforcements, and six months'
provisions. At the end of the month, a forlorn hope of five hundred
Spanish volunteers managed to climb up the Rock, by ropes and
ladders, and surprised a battery; but were so furiously attacked
that they were all killed, or taken prisoners. A heavy cannonade
was kept up for another week, when a large number of transports
with reinforcements and supplies arrived and, the garrison being
now considered strong enough to resist any attack, the fleet sailed
away.

"The siege went on till the middle of March, when Sir John Leake
again arrived, drove away the French fleet, and captured or burnt
five of them; and the siege was then discontinued, having cost the
enemy ten thousand men. So, you see, there was some pretty hard
fighting over it.

"The place was threatened in 1720 and, in the beginning of 1727,
twenty thousand Spaniards again sat down before it. The
fortifications had been made a good deal stronger, after the first
siege; and the garrison was commanded by Lieutenant Governor
Clayton. The siege lasted till May, when news arrived that the
preliminaries of a general peace had been signed. There was a lot
of firing; but the Spaniards must have shot mighty badly, for we
had only three hundred killed and wounded. You would think that
that was enough; but when I tell you that the cannon were so old
and rotten that seventy cannon, and thirty mortars, burst during
the siege, it seems to me that every one of those three hundred
must have been damaged by our own cannon, and that the Spaniards
did not succeed in hitting a single man.

"That is mighty encouraging for you, Mrs. O'Halloran; for I don't
think that our cannon will burst this time and, if the Spaniards do
not shoot better than they did before, it is little work, enough,
that is likely to fall to the share of the surgeons."

"Thank you," Mrs. O'Halloran said. "You have told that very nicely,
Teddy Burke. I did not know anything about it, before; and I had
some idea that it was when the English were besieged here that the
Queen of Spain sat on that rock which is called after her; but I
see now that it was Ferdinand's Isabella, and that it was when the
Moors were besieged here, hundreds of years before.

"Well, I am glad I know something about it. It is stupid to be in a
place, and know nothing of its history. You are rising in my
estimation fast, Dr. Burke."

"Mistress O'Halloran," the doctor said, rising and making a deep
bow, "you overwhelm me, entirely; and now I must say goodnight, for
I must look in at the hospital, before I turn in to my quarters."



Chapter 8: The Siege Begins.


On the 19th of June General Eliott, accompanied by several of his
officers, paid a visit to the Spanish lines to congratulate General
Mendoza, who commanded there, on the promotion that he had just
received. The visit lasted but a short time, and it was remarked
that the Spanish officer seemed ill at ease. Scarcely had the party
returned to Gibraltar than a Swedish frigate entered the bay,
having on board Mr. Logie, H.M. Consul in Barbary, who had come
across in her from Tangier. He reported that a Swedish brig had put
in there. She reported that she had fallen in with the French
fleet, of twenty-eight sail of the line, off Cape Finisterre; and
that they were waiting there to be joined by the Spanish fleet,
from Cadiz.

The news caused great excitement; but it was scarcely believed, for
the Spanish general had given the most amicable assurances to the
governor. On the 21st, however, the Spaniards, at their lines
across the neutral ground, refused to permit the mail to pass; and
a formal notification was sent in that intercourse between
Gibraltar and Spain would no longer be permitted. This put an end
to all doubt, and discussion. War must have been declared between
Spain and England, or such a step would never have been taken.

In fact, although the garrison did not learn it until some time
later, the Spanish ambassador in London had presented what was
virtually a declaration of war, on the 16th. A messenger had been
sent off on the same day from Madrid, ordering the cessation of
intercourse with Gibraltar and, had he not been detained by
accident on the road, he might have arrived during General Eliott's
visit to the Spanish lines; a fact of which Mendoza had been
doubtless forewarned, and which would account for his embarrassment
at the governor's call.

Captain O'Halloran brought the news home, when he returned from
parade.

"Get ready your sandbags, Carrie; examine your stock of provisions;
prepare a store of lint, and plaster."

"What on earth are you talking about, Gerald?"

"It is war, Carrie. The Dons have refused to accept our mail, and
have cut off all intercourse with the mainland."

Carrie turned a little pale. She had never really thought that the
talk meant anything, or that the Spaniards could be really
intending to declare war, without having any ground for quarrel
with England.

"And does it really mean war, Gerald?"

"There is no doubt about it. The Spaniards are going to fight and,
as their army can't swim across the Bay of Biscay, I take it it is
here they mean to attack us. Faith, we are going to have some
divarshun, at last."

"Divarshun! You ought to be ashamed of yourself, Gerald."

"Well, my dear, what have I come into the army for? To march about
for four hours a day in a stiff stock, and powder and pigtail and a
cocked hat, and a red coat? Not a bit of it. Didn't I enter the
army to fight? And here have I been, without a chance of smelling
powder, for the last ten years. It is the best news I have had
since you told me that you were ready and willing to become Mrs.
O'Halloran."

"And to think that we have got Bob out here with us!" his wife
said, without taking any notice of the last words. "What will uncle
say?"

"Faith, and it makes mighty little difference what he says, Carrie,
seeing that he is altogether beyond shouting distance.

"As for Bob, he will be just delighted. Why, he has been working
till his brain must all be in a muddle; and it is the best thing in
the world for him, or he would be mixing up the Spaniards and the
Romans, and the x's and y's and the tangents, and all the other
things into a regular jumble--and it is a nice business that would
have been. It is the best thing in the world for him, always
supposing that he don't get his growth stopped, for want of
victuals."

"You don't mean, really and seriously, Gerald, that we are likely
to be short of food?"

"And that is exactly what I do mean. You may be sure that the Dons
know, mighty well, that they have no chance of taking the place on
the land side. They might just as well lay out their trenches
against the moon. It is just starvation that they are going to try;
and when they get the eighteen French sail of the line that Mr.
Logie brought news of, and a score or so of Spanish men-of-war in
the bay, you will see that it is likely you won't get your mutton
and your butter and vegetables very regularly across from Tangier."

"Well, it is very serious, Gerald."

"Very serious, Carrie."

"I don't see anything to laugh at at all, Gerald."

"I didn't know that I was laughing."

"You were looking as if you wanted to laugh, which is just as bad.
I suppose there is nothing to be done, Gerald?"

"Well, yes, I should go down to the town, and lay in a store of
things that will keep. You see, if nothing comes of it we should
not be losers. The regiment is likely to be here three or four
years, so we should lose nothing by laying in a big stock of wine,
and so on; while, if there is a siege, you will see everything will
go up to ten times its ordinary price. That room through ours is
not used for anything, and we might turn that into a storeroom.

"I don't mean that there is any hurry about it, today; but we ought
certainly to lay in as large a store as we can, of things that will
keep. Some things we may get cheaper, in a short time, than we can
now. A lot of the Jew and native traders will be leaving, if they
see there is really going to be a siege; for you see, the town is
quite open to the guns of batteries, on the other side of the
neutral ground.

"It was a mighty piece of luck we got this house. You see that
rising ground behind will shelter us from shot. They may blaze away
as much as they like, as far as we are concerned.

"Ah! There is Bob, coming out of his room with the professor."

"Well, take him out and tell him, Gerald. I want to sit down, and
think. My head feels quite in a whirl."

Bob was, of course, greatly surprised at the news; and the
professor, himself, was a good deal excited.

Illustration: The Professor gets excited.

"We have been living here for three hundred years," he said, "my
fathers and grandfathers. When the English came and took this
place--seventy-five years ago--my grandfather became a British
subject, like all who remained here. My father, who was then but a
boy, has told me that he remembers the great siege, and how the
cannons roared night and day. It was in the year when I was born
that the Spaniards attacked the Rock again; and a shell exploded in
the house, and nearly killed us all. I was born a British subject,
and shall do my duty in what way I can, if the place is attacked.
They call us Rock scorpions. Well, they shall see we can live under
fire, and will do our best to sting, if they put their finger on
us. Ha, ha!"

"The little man is quite excited," Captain O'Halloran said, as the
professor turned away, and marched off at a brisk pace towards his
home. "It is rather hard on these Rock people. Of course, as he
says, they are British subjects, and were born so. Still, you see,
in race and language they are still Spaniards; and their sympathies
must be divided, at any rate at present. When the shot and shell
come whistling into the town, and knocking their houses about their
ears, they will become a good deal more decided in their opinions
than they can be, now.

"Come along, Bob, and let us get all the news. I came off as soon
as I heard that our communication with Spain was cut off, and
therefore it was certain war was declared. There will be lots of
orders out, soon. It is a busy time we shall have of it, for the
next month or two."

There were many officers in the anteroom when they entered.

"Any fresh news?" Captain O'Halloran asked.

"Lots of it, O'Halloran. All the Irish officers of the garrison are
to be formed into an outlying force, to occupy the neutral ground.
It is thought their appearance will be sufficient to terrify the
Spaniards."

"Get out with you, Grant! If they were to take us at all, it would
be because they knew that we were the boys to do the fighting."

"And the drinking, O'Halloran," another young officer put in.

"And the talking," said another.

"Now, drop it, boys, and be serious. What is the news, really?"

"There is a council of war going on, at the governor's, O'Halloran.
Boyd, of course, and De la Motte, Colonel Green, the admiral, Mr.
Logie, and two or three others. They say the governor has been
gradually getting extra stores across from Tangier, ever since
there was first a talk about this business; and of course that is
the most important question, at present. I hear that Green and the
Engineers have been marking out places for new batteries, for the
last month; and I suppose fatigue work is going to be the order of
the day. It is too bad of them choosing this time of the year to
begin, for it will be awfully hot work.

"Everyone is wondering what will become of the officers who are
living out with their families, at San Roque and the other villages
across the Spanish lines; and besides, there are a lot of officers
away on leave, in the interior. Of course they won't take them
prisoners. That would be a dirty trick. But it is likely enough
they may ship them straight back to England, instead of letting
them return here.

"Well, it is lucky that we have got a pretty strong garrison. We
have just been adding up the last field state. These are the
figures--officers, noncommissioned officers, and men--artillery,
485; 12th Regiment, 599; 39th, 586; 56th, 587; 58th, 605; 72nd,
1046; the Hanoverian Brigade--of Hardenberg's, Reden's, and De la
Motte's regiments--1352; and 122 Engineers under Colonel Green:
which makes up, altogether, 5382 officers and men.

"That is strong enough for anything, but it would have been better
if there had been five hundred more artillerymen; but I suppose
they will be able to lend us some sailors, to help work the heavy
guns.

"They will turn you into a powder monkey, Repton."

"I don't care what they turn me into," Bob said, "so long as I can
do something."

"I think it is likely," Captain O'Halloran said gravely, "that all
women and children will be turned out of the place, before fighting
begins; except, of course, wives and children of officers."

There was a general laugh, at Bob.

"Well," he said quietly, "it will lessen the ranks of the
subalterns, for there must be a considerable number who are not
many months older than I am. I am just sixteen, and I know there
are some not older than that."

This was a fact, for commissions were--in those days--given in the
army to mere lads, and the ensigns were often no older than
midshipmen.

Late in the afternoon, a procession of carts was seen crossing the
neutral ground, from the Spanish lines; and it was soon seen that
these were the English officers and merchants from San Roque, and
the other villages. They had, that morning, received peremptory
orders to leave before sunset. Some were fortunate enough to be
able to hire carts, to bring in their effects; but several were
compelled, from want of carriage, to leave everything behind them.

The guards had all been reinforced, at the northern batteries;
pickets had been stationed across the neutral ground; the guard, at
the work known as the Devil's Tower, were warned to be specially on
the alert; and the artillery in the battery, on the rock above it,
were to hold themselves in readiness to open fire upon the enemy,
should they be perceived advancing towards it.

It was considered improbable, in the extreme, that the enemy would
attack until a great force had been collected; but it was possible
that a body of troops might have been collected secretly, somewhere
in the neighbourhood, and that an attempt would be made to capture
the place by surprise, before the garrison might be supposed to be
taking precautions against attack.

The next morning orders were issued, and large working parties were
told off to go on with the work of strengthening the fortifications;
and notice was issued that all empty hogsheads and casks in the town
would be bought, by the military authorities.  These were to be
filled with earth, and to take the places of fascines, for which
there were no materials available on the Rock.  Parties of men
rolled or carried these up to the heights. Other parties collected
earth, and piled it to be carried up in sacks on the back of
mules--there being no earth, on the rocks where the batteries would
be established--a fact which added very largely to the difficulties
of the Engineers.

On the 24th the Childers, sloop of war, brought in two prizes from
the west; one of which, an American, she had captured in the midst
of the Spanish fleet. Some of the Spanish men-of-war had made
threatening demonstrations, as if to prevent the sloop from
interfering with her; but they had not fired a gun, and it was
supposed that they had not received orders to commence hostilities.
Two English frigates had been watching the fleet; and it was
supposed to be on its way to join the French fleet, off Cape
Finisterre.

The Spaniards were seen, now, to be at work dragging down guns from
San Roque to arm their two forts--Saint Philip and Saint
Barbara--which stood at the extremities of their lines: Saint
Philip on the bay, and Saint Barbara upon the seashore, on the
eastern side of the neutral side. In time of peace, only a few guns
were mounted in these batteries.

Illustration: The Rock and Bay of Gibraltar.

Admiral Duff moved the men-of-war under his command, consisting of
the Panther--of sixty guns--three frigates, and a sloop, from their
usual anchorage off the Water Port--where they were exposed to the
fire of the enemy's forts--to the New Mole, more to the southward.

Bob would have liked to be out all day, watching the busy
preparations, and listening to the talk of the natives; who were
greatly alarmed at the prospect of the siege, knowing that the guns
from the Spanish forts, and especially from Fort Saint Philip,
could throw their shot and shell into the town. But Captain
O'Halloran agreed with his wife that it was much better he should
continue his lessons with Don Diaz, of a morning; for that it would
be absurd for him to be standing about in the sun, the whole day.
The evening lessons were, however, discontinued from the first; as
Dr. Burke had his hands full in superintending the preparations
making, at the hospitals, for the reception of large numbers of
wounded.

Bob did not so much mind this, for he had ceased to regard the time
spent with the professor as lessons. After he had once mastered the
conjugation of the verbs, and had learned an extensive vocabulary
by heart, books had been laid aside, altogether; and the three hours
with the professor had, for the last two months, been spent simply
in conversation. They were no longer indoors, but sat in the garden
on the shady side of the house; or, when the sky happened to be
clouded and the morning was cool, walked together out to Europa Point;
and would sit down there, looking over the sea, but always talking.
Sometimes it was history--Roman, English, or Spanish--sometimes Bob's
schooldays and life in London, sometimes general subjects. It mattered
little what they talked about, so that the conversation was kept up.

Sometimes, when it was found that topics failed them, the professor
would give Bob a Spanish book to glance through, and its subject
would serve as a theme for talk on, the following day; and as it
was five months since the lad had landed, he was now able to speak
in Spanish almost as fluently as in English. As he had learnt
almost entirely by ear, and any word mispronounced had had to be
gone over, again and again, until Don Diaz was perfectly satisfied,
his accent was excellent; and the professor had told him, a few
days before the breaking out of the war, that in another month or
two he should discontinue his lessons.

"It would be well for you to have one or two mornings a week, to
keep up your accent. You can find plenty of practice talking to the
people. I see you are good at making friends, and are ready to talk
to labourers at work, to boys, to the market women, and to anyone
you come across; but their accent is bad, and it would be well for
you to keep on with me. But you speak, at present, much better
Spanish than the people here and, if you were dressed up as a young
Spaniard, you might go about Spain without anyone suspecting you to
be English."

Indeed, by the professor's method of teaching--assisted by a
natural aptitude, and three hours' daily conversation, for five
months--Bob had made surprising progress, especially as he had
supplemented his lesson by continually talking Spanish with Manola,
with the Spanish woman and children living below them, and with
everyone he could get to talk to.

He had seen little of Jim, since the trouble began; as leave was,
for the most part, stopped--the ships of war being in readiness to
proceed to sea, at a moment's notice, to engage an enemy, or to
protect merchantmen coming in from the attacks of the Spanish ships
and gunboats, across at Algeciras.

Bob generally got up at five o'clock, now, and went out for two or
three hours before breakfast; for the heat had become too great for
exercise, during the day. He greatly missed the market, for it had
given him much amusement to watch the groups of peasant women--with
their baskets of eggs, fowls, vegetables, oranges, and fruit of
various kinds--bargaining with the townspeople, and joking and
laughing with the soldiers. The streets were now almost deserted,
and many of the little traders in vegetables and fruit had closed
their shops. The fishermen, however, still carried on their work,
and obtained a ready sale for their catch. There had, indeed, been
a much greater demand than usual for fish, owing to the falling off
in the fruit and vegetable supplies.

The cessation of trade was already beginning to tell upon the
poorer part of the population; but employment was found for all
willing to labour either at collecting earth for the batteries, or
out on the neutral ground--where three hundred of them were
employed by the Engineers in levelling sand hummocks, and other
inequalities in the ground, that might afford any shelter to an
enemy creeping up to assault the gates by the waterside.

Dr. Burke came in with Captain O'Halloran to dinner, ten days after
the gates had been closed.

"You are quite a stranger, Teddy," Mrs. O'Halloran said.

"I am that," he replied; "but you are going to be bothered with me
again, now; we have got everything in apple pie order, and are ready to
take half the garrison under our charge. There has been lots to do. All
the medical stores have been overhauled, and lists made out and sent
home of everything that can be required--medicines and comforts, and
lint and bandages, and splints and wooden legs; and goodness knows
what, besides. We hope they will be out in the first convoy.

"There is a privateer going to sail, tomorrow; so if you want to
send letters home, or to order anything to be sent out to you, you
had better take the opportunity. Have you got everything you want,
for the next two or three years?"

"Two or three years!" Carrie repeated, in tones of alarm. "You mean
two or three months."

"Indeed, and I don't. If the French and the Dons have made up their
mind to take this place, and once set to fairly to do it, they are
bound to stick to it for a bit. I should say you ought to provide
for three years."

"But that is downright nonsense, Teddy. Why, in three months there
ought to be a fleet here that would drive all the French and
Spaniards away."

"Well, if you say there ought to be, there ought," the doctor said,
"but where is it to come from? I was talking to some of the naval
men, yesterday; and they all say it will be a long business, if the
French and Spanish are in earnest. The French navy is as strong as
ours, and the Spaniards have got nearly as many ships as the
French. We have got to protect our coasts and our trade, to convoy
the East Indian fleets, and to be doing something all over the
world; and they doubt whether it would be possible to get together
a fleet that could hope to defeat the French and Spanish navies,
combined.

"Well, have you been laying in stores, Mrs. O'Halloran?"

"Yes, we have bought two sacks of flour, and fifty pounds of sugar;
ten pounds of tea, and a good many other things."

"If you will take my advice," the doctor said earnestly, "you will
lay in five times as much. Say ten sacks of flour, two hundred-weight
of sugar, and everything else in proportion. Those sort of things
haven't got up in price, yet; but you will see, everything will rise
as soon as the blockade begins in earnest."

"No, the prices of those things have not gone up much; but fruit is
three times the price it was, a fortnight ago, and chickens and
eggs are double, and vegetables are hardly to be bought."

"That is the worst of it," the doctor said. "It's the vegetables
that I am thinking of."

"Well, we can do without vegetables," Mrs. O'Halloran laughed, "as
long as we have plenty of bread."

"It is just that you can't do. You see, we shall be cut off from
Tangier--maybe tomorrow, maybe a fortnight hence--but we shall be
cut off. A ship may run in sometimes, at night, but you can't count
upon that; and it is salt meat that we are going to live upon and,
if you live on salt meat, you have got to have vegetables or fruit
to keep you in health.

"Now, I tell you what I should do, Gerald, and I am not joking with
you. In the first place, I would make an arrangement with the
people downstairs, and I would hire their garden from them. I don't
suppose they would want much for it, for they make no use of it,
except to grow a few flowers. Then I would go down the town, and I
would buy up all the chickens I could get. There are plenty of them
to be picked up, if you look about for them, for most of the people
who have got a bit of ground keep a few fowls. Get a hundred of
them, if you can, and turn them into the garden. Buy up twenty
sacks, if you like, of damaged biscuits. You can get them for an
old song. The commissariat have been clearing out their stores, and
there are a lot of damaged biscuits to be sold, by auction,
tomorrow. You would get twenty sacks for a few shillings.

"That way you will get a good supply of eggs, if the siege lasts
ever so long; and you can fence off a bit of the garden, and raise
fowls there. That will give you a supply of fresh meat, and any
eggs and poultry you can't eat yourselves you can sell for big
prices. You could get a chicken, three weeks ago, at threepence.
Never mind if you have to pay a shilling for them, now; they will
be worth five shillings, before long.

"If you can rent another bit of garden, anywhere near, I would take
it. If not, I would hire three or four men to collect earth, and
bring it up here. This is a good, big place; I suppose it is thirty
feet by sixty. Well, I would just leave a path from the door,
there, up to this end; and a spare place, here, for your chairs;
and I would cover the rest of it with earth, nine inches or a foot
deep; and I would plant vegetables."

"Do you mane we are to grow cabbages here, Teddy?" Captain
O'Halloran asked, with a burst of laughter.

"No, I wouldn't grow cabbages. I would just grow mustard, and
cress, and radishes. If you eat plenty of them, they will keep off
scurvy; and all you don't want for yourselves, I will guarantee you
will be able to sell at any price you like to ask for them and, if
nobody else will buy them, the hospitals will. They would be the
saving of many a man's life."

"But they would want watering," Captain O'Halloran said, more
seriously, for he saw how much the doctor was in earnest.

"They will that. You will have no difficulty in hiring a man to
bring up water, and to tend to them and to look after the fowls.
Men will be glad enough to work for next to nothing.

"I tell you, Gerald, if I wasn't in the service, I should hire
every bit of land I could lay hands on, and employ as many
labourers as it required; and I should look to be a rich man,
before the end of the siege. I was speaking to the chief surgeon
today about it; and he is going to put the convalescents to work,
on a bit of spare ground there is at the back of the hospital, and
to plant vegetables.

"I was asking down the town yesterday and I found that, at Blount's
store, you can get as much vegetable seed as you like. You lay in a
stock, today, of mustard and cress and radish. Don't be afraid of
the expense--get twenty pounds of each of them. You will be always
able to sell what you don't want, at ten times the price you give
for it now. If you can get a piece more garden ground, take it at
any price and raise other vegetables; but keep the top of the house
here for what I tell you.

"Well, I said nine inches deep of earth; that is more than
necessary. Four and a half will do for the radishes, and two is
enough for the mustard and cress. That will grow on a blanket--it
is really only water that it wants."

"What do you think, Carrie?" Captain O'Halloran asked.

"Well, Gerald, if you really believe the siege is going to last
like that, I should think that it would be really worth while to do
what Teddy Burke advises. Of course, you will be too busy to look
after things, but Bob might do so."

"Of course I would," Bob broke in. "It will give me something to
do."

"Well, we will set about it at once, then. I will speak to the man
downstairs. You know he has got two or three horses and traps down
in the town, and lets them to people driving out across the lines;
but of course he has nothing to do, now, and I should think that he
would be glad enough to arrange to look after the fowls and the
things up here.

"The garden is a good size. I don't think anything could get out
through that prickly pear hedge but, anyhow, any gaps there are can
be stopped up with stakes. I think it is a really good idea and, if
I can get a couple of hundred fowls, I will. I should think there
was plenty of room for them, in the garden. I will set up as a
poultry merchant."

"You might do worse, Gerald. I will bet you a gallon of whisky they
will be selling at ten shillings a couple, before this business is
over; and there is no reason in the world why you should not turn
an honest penny--it will be a novelty to you."

"Well, I will go down the town, at once," Gerald said, "and get the
seeds and the extra stores you advise, Teddy; and tomorrow I will
go to the commissariat sale, and buy a ton or two of those damaged
biscuits. We will take another room from them, downstairs, as a
storeroom for that and the eggs; and I will get a carpenter to come
up and put a fence, and make some runs and a bit of a shelter for
the sitting hens, and the chickens. Bob shall do the purchasing.

"You had better get a boy with a big basket to go with you, Bob;
and go round to the cottages, to buy up fowls. Mind, don't let them
sell you nothing but cocks--one to every seven or eight hens is
quite enough; and don't let them foist off old hens on you--the
younger they are, the better. I should say that, at first, you had
better take Manola with you, if Carrie can spare her; then you
won't get taken in, and you will soon learn to tell the difference
between an old hen and a young chicken."

"When you are buying the seed, O'Halloran," said Dr. Burke, "you
would do well to get a few cucumbers, and melons, and pumpkins.
They will grow on the roof, splendidly. And you can plant them near
the parapet, where they will grow down over the sides, so they
won't take up much room; and you can pick them with a ladder. The
pumpkin is a good vegetable, and the fowls will thank you for a bit
to pick, when you can spare one. They will all want manure, but you
get plenty of that, from the fowl yard."

"Why, Teddy, there seems no end to your knowledge," Mrs. O'Halloran
said. "First of all, you turn out to be a schoolmaster; and now you
are a gardener, and poultry raiser. And to think I never gave you
credit for knowing anything, except medicine."

"You haven't got to the bottom of it yet, Mrs. O'Halloran. My head
is just stored with knowledge, only it isn't always that I have a
chance of making it useful. I would be just the fellow to be cast
on a desert island. There is no saying what I wouldn't do towards
making myself comfortable there.

"But I do know about scurvy, for I made a voyage in a whaler,
before I got His Majesty's commission to kill and slay in the army;
and I know how necessary vegetables are. I only wish we had known
what the Spaniards were up to, a month since. We would have got a
cargo of oranges and lemons. They would have been worth their
weight in silver."

"But they wouldn't have kept, Teddy."

"No, not for long; but we would have squeezed them, and put sugar
into the juice, and bottled it off. If the general had consulted
me, that is what he would have been after, instead of seeing about
salt meat and biscuits. We shall get plenty of them, from ships
that run in--I have no fear of that--but it is the acids will be
wanting."

As soon as dinner was over, Captain O'Halloran went downstairs; and
had no difficulty in arranging, with the man below, for the entire
use of his garden. An inspection was made of the hedge, and the man
agreed to close up all gaps that fowls could possibly creep
through. He was also quite willing to let off a room for storage,
and his wife undertook to superintend the management of the young
broods, and sitting hens. Having arranged this, Captain O'Halloran
went down into the town to make his purchases.

A quarter of an hour later Bob started with Manola, carrying a
large basket, and both were much amused at their errand. Going
among the cottages scattered over the hill above the town, they had
no difficulty in obtaining chickens and fowls--the former at about
five pence apiece, the latter at seven pence--such prices being
more than double the usual rates. Manola's basket was soon full
and, while she was taking her purchases back to the house, Bob
hired two boys with baskets and, before evening, nearly a hundred
fowls were running in the garden.

The next day Bob was considered sufficiently experienced to
undertake the business alone and, in two more days, the entire
number of two hundred had been made up. Three of the natives had
been engaged in collecting baskets of earth among the rocks and, in
a week, the terrace was converted into a garden ready for the
seeds. As yet vegetables, although very dear, had not risen to
famine prices; for although the town had depended chiefly upon the
produce of the mainland, many of the natives had grown small
patches of vegetables in their gardens for their own use, and these
they now disposed of at prices that were highly satisfactory to
themselves.

O'Halloran's farm--as they called it, as soon as they heard, from
him, what he was doing--became quite a joke in the regiment; but
several of the other married officers, who had similar facilities
for keeping fowls, adopted the idea to some extent, and started
with a score or so of fowls.

"I wonder you didn't think of pigs, O'Halloran," one of the
captains said, laughing, as they were talking over the farm in the
mess anteroom; "pigs and potatoes. The idea of you and Burke, both
from the sod, starting a farm; and not thinking, first, of the two
chief national products."

"There is not room for praties, Sinclair; and as for pigs, there
are many reasons against it. In the first place, I doubt whether I
could buy any. In the second, there isn't room for them. In the
third, what should I give them to keep them alive? In the fourth,
pigs are illigant bastes but, in a hot country like this, I should
not care for a stye of them under my drawing room window. In the
fifth--"

"That will do, that will do, O'Halloran. We give way. We allow that
you could not keep pigs, but it is a pity."

"It is that, Sinclair. There is nothing would please me better than
to see a score of nice little pigs, with a nate stye, and a
magazine of food big enough to keep them, say, for a year."

"Three months, O'Halloran, would be ample."

"Well, we shall see, Sinclair. Teddy Burke says three years, but I
do hope it is not going to be as long as that."

"Begorra!" another Irish officer, Captain O'Moore, exclaimed; "if
it is three years we are going to be here, we had best be killed
and buried at once. I have been all the morning in the Queen's
Battery, where my company has been slaving like haythens, with the
sun coming down as if it would fry your brain in your skull pan;
and if that is to go on, day after day, for three years, I should
be dead in a month!"

"That is nothing, O'Moore. If the siege goes on, they say the
officers will have to help at the work."

"I shall protest against it. There is not a word in the articles of
war about officers working. I am willing enough to be shot by the
Spaniards, but not to be killed by inches. No, sir, there is not an
O'Moore ever did a stroke of work, since the flood; and I am not
going to demean myself by beginning.

"What are you laughing at, young Repton?"

"I was only wondering, Captain O'Moore, how your ancestors got
through the flood. Unless, indeed, Noah was an O'Moore."

"There is reason to believe that he was," the captain said,
seriously. "It must have been that, if he hadn't a boat of his own,
or found a mountain that the water didn't cover. I have got the
tree of the family at home; and an old gentleman who was learned in
these things came to the house, when I was a boy; and I remember
right well that he said to my father, after reckoning them up, that
the first of the house must have had a place there in Ireland
well-nigh a thousand years before Adam.

"I don't think my father quite liked it but, for the life of me, I
couldn't see why. It was just what I should expect from the
O'Moores. Didn't they give kings to Ireland, for generations? And
what should they want to be doing, out among those rivers in the
East, when there was Ireland, ready to receive them?"

Captain O'Moore spoke so seriously that Bob did not venture to
laugh, but listened with an air of gravity equal to that of the
officer.

"You will kill me altogether, Phelim!" Captain O'Halloran
exclaimed; amid a great shout of laughter, in which all the others
joined.

The O'Moore looked round, speechless with indignation.

"Gentlemen," he said, "I shall expect satisfaction for this insult.
The word of an O'Moore has never been doubted.

"Captain O'Halloran, my friend will call upon you, first."

"He may call as often as he likes, O'Moore, and I shall be happy to
converse with any friend of yours but, at present, that is all the
satisfaction you will get out of me. Duelling is strictly forbidden
on the Rock, and there is no getting across the Spanish lines to
fight--unless, indeed, you can persuade the governor to send out a
flag of truce with us. So we must let the matter rest, till the
siege is over; and then, if both of us are alive, and you have the
same mind, we will talk about it."

"I think, O'Moore," Dr. Burke, who had entered the room two or
three minutes before, said persuasively, "you will see that you are
the last man who ought to maintain that the first of your race
lived here, as far back as Adam. You see, we are all direct
descendants of Adam--I mean, all the rest of us."

"No doubt you are," Captain O'Moore said, stiffly.

"And one has just as much right as another to claim that he is the
heir, in a direct line."

"I suppose so, Burke," the officer said, "though, for the life of
me, I can't see what you are driving at."

"What I mean is this. Suppose Adam and the O'Moore started at the
same time, one in Ireland and the other in Eden; and they had an
equal number of children, as was likely enough. Half the people in
the world would be descendants of Adam, and the other half of the
O'Moore and, you see, instead of your being the O'Moore--the
genuine descendant, in the direct line, from the first of the
family--half the world would have an equal claim to the title."

Captain O'Moore reflected for a minute or two.

"You are right, Dr. Burke," he said. "I never saw it in that light.
It is clear enough that you are right, and that the less we say
about the O'Moores before the first Irish king of that name, the
better. There must have been some mistake about that tree I spoke
of.

"Captain O'Halloran, I apologize. I was wrong."

The two officers shook hands, and peace was restored; but Captain
O'Moore was evidently a good deal puzzled, and mortified, by the
problem the doctor had set before him and, after remaining silent
for some time, evidently in deep thought, he left the room. Some of
the others watched him from the window, until he had entered the
door of his own quarters; and then there was a general shout of
laughter.

"The O'Moore will be the death of me!" Teddy Burke exclaimed, as he
threw himself back in a chair, exhausted. "He is one of the best
fellows going, but you can lead him on into anything. I don't
suppose he ever gave a thought to the O'Moores, anywhere further
back than those kings. He had a vague idea that they must have been
going on, simply because it must have seemed to him that a world
without an O'Moore in it would be necessarily imperfect. It was Bob
Repton's questions, as to what they were doing at the time of the
flood, that brought him suddenly up; then he didn't hesitate for a
moment in taking them back to Adam, or before him. Just on the
ancestry of the O'Moores, Phelim has got a tile a little loose; but
on all other points, he is as sensible as anyone in the regiment."

"I wonder you didn't add, 'and that is not saying much,' doctor,"
one of the lieutenants said.

"I may have thought it, youngster; but you see, I must have made
exceptions in favour of myself and the colonel, so I held my
tongue. The fact that we are all here, under a sun hot enough to
cook a beefsteak; and that for the next two or three years we are
going to have to work like niggers, and to be shot at by the
Spaniards, and to be pretty well--if not quite--starved, speaks for
itself as to the amount of sense we have got between us.

"There go the drums! Now, gentlemen, you have got the pleasure of a
couple of hours' drill before you, and I am due at the hospital."



Chapter 9: The Antelope.


On the 3rd of July, a hundred and eighty volunteers from the
infantry joined the artillery, who were not numerous enough to work
all the guns of the batteries; and two days later a Spanish
squadron of two men-of-war, five frigates, and eleven smaller
vessels hove in sight from the west, and lay to off the entrance to
the bay. Three privateers came in, and one of the Spanish schooners
stood across to reconnoitre them; and a shot was fired at her from
the batteries on Europa Point.

The Enterprise, frigate, had gone across to Tetuan to bring Mr.
Logie over again. On her return, she was chased by the enemy's
squadron; but succeeded in giving them the slip, in the dark. As
she neared the Rock the captain, fearing to be discovered by the
enemy, did not show the usual lights; and several shots were fired
at the ship, but fortunately without effect.

On the following day letters were received from England, with the
official news that hostilities had commenced between Great Britain
and Spain; and the same evening a proclamation was published
authorizing the capture of Spanish vessels, and letters of marque
were given to the privateers in the bay, permitting them to capture
Spanish as well as French vessels.

Among the privateers was the Antelope, which was one of those that
had come in on the previous afternoon. Bob had not heard of her
arrival, when he ran against Captain Lockett in the town, next
morning. They had not met since Bob had landed, six months before.

"Well, Master Repton," the captain said, after they had shaken
hands, "I was coming up to see you, after I had managed my
business. I have letters, from Mr. Bale, for you and Mrs.
O'Halloran."

"You are all well on board, I hope, captain?"

"Joe is well. He is first mate, now. Poor Probert is on his back in
hospital, at Portsmouth. We had a sharp brush with a French
privateer, but we beat her off. We had five men killed, and Probert
had his leg taken off by an eighteen pound shot. We clapped on a
tourniquet, but he had a very narrow escape of bleeding to death.
Fortunately it was off Ushant and, the wind being favourable, we
got into Portsmouth on the following morning; and the doctors think
that they will pull him round.

"You have grown a good bit, since I saw you last."

"Not much, I am afraid," Bob replied dolefully, for his height was
rather a sore point with him. "I get wider, but I don't think I
have grown half an inch, since I came here."

"And how goes on the Spanish?"

"First rate. I can get on in it almost as well as in English."

"So you are in for some more fighting!"

"So they say," Bob replied, "but I don't think I am likely to have
as close a shave, of a Spanish prison, as I had of a French one
coming out here."

"No; we had a narrow squeak of it, that time."

"Was war declared when you came away?"

"No; the negotiations were broken off, and everyone knew that war
was certain, and that the proclamation might be issued at any hour.
I have not had a very fast run, and expected to have learned the
news when I got here; but you are sure to hear it, in a day or two.
That was why I came here. Freights were short for, with the ports
of France and Spain both closed, there was little enough doing; so
the owners agreed to let me drop trading and make straight for
Gibraltar, so as to be ready to put out as soon as we get the
declaration of war.

"There ought to be some first-rate pickings, along the coast. It
isn't, here, as it is with France; where they have learned to be
precious cautious, and where one daren't risk running in close to
their coast on the chance of picking up a prize, for the waters
swarm with their privateers. The Spaniards are a very slow set, and
there is not much fear of their fitting out many privateers, for
months to come; and the coasters will be a long time before they
wake up to the fact that Spain is at war with us, and will go
lumbering along from port to port, without the least fear of being
captured. So it is a rare chance of making prize money.

"If you like a cruise, I shall be very happy to take you with me. I
have seen you under fire, you know, and know that you are to be
depended upon."

"I should like to go, above all things," Bob said; "but I don't
know what my sister would say. I must get at her husband, first. If
I can get him on my side, I think I shall be able to manage it with
her.

"Well, will you come up to dinner?"

"No, I shall be busy all day. Here are the letters I was speaking
of."

"Well, we have supper at seven. Will you come then?"

"With pleasure."

"Will Joe be able to come, too?"

"No; it wouldn't do for us both to leave the brig. The Spanish
fleet may be sending in their boats, to try and cut some of our
vessels out, and I should not feel comfortable if we were both
ashore; but he will be very glad to see you, on board. We are
anchored a cable length from the Water Port. You are pretty sure to
see one of our boats alongside.

"The steward came off with me, to buy some soft tack and fresh
meat. I saw him just before I met you. He told me he had got some
bread, but that meat was at a ruinous price. I told him that he
must get it, whatever price it was, and I expect by this time he
has done so; so if you look sharp, you will get to the boat before
it puts off with him."

The steward was in the act of getting into the boat, as Bob ran
down.

"Glad to see you, Mister Repton," the man said, touching his hat.
"Have you seen the captain, sir?"

"Yes, I have just left him. He told me I should catch you here."

"Thinking of having another cruise with us, sir?"

"I am thinking about it, Parker, but I don't know whether I shall
be able to manage it."

They were soon alongside the Antelope.

"I thought it was you, Mister Repton, when I saw you run down to
the boat," Joe Lockett said, as he shook hands with Bob.

"I am glad to see you again, Joe, and I am glad to hear you are
first mate now; though of course, I am sorry for Mr. Probert."

"Yes, a bad job for him, a very bad job; but it won't be so bad, in
his case, as in some. He has been talking, for the last two or
three voyages, of retiring. An old uncle of his died, and left him
a few acres of land down in Essex; and he has saved a bit of money
out of his pay, and his share of the prizes we have made; and he
talked about giving up the sea, and settling down on shore. So now,
he will do it. He said as much as that, the night he was wounded.

"'Well,' he said, 'there won't be any more trouble about making up
my mind, Joe. If I do get over this job, I have got to lay up as a
dismantled hulk, for the rest of my life. I have been talking of it
to you, but I doubt whether I should ever have brought myself to
it, if it had not been for them Frenchmen's shot.'

"Well, will you come into the cabin, and take something?"

"No, thank you, Joe."

"Have they got the news about the declaration of war yet, Mister
Repton?"

"No, it hasn't arrived yet."

"I expect we shall get some good pickings along the coast, directly
it comes. We have been trading regularly, this last year; and we
all of us want the chance of earning a bit of prize money. So I can
tell you, we were very glad when we heard that we were going to
take to that again, for a bit."

"Yes, the captain was telling me about it, and he has asked me to
go for a trip with you."

"Well, I hope that you will be able to come, Mister Repton."

"I hope so, Joe. But there is one thing--if I do come, you must
call me Bob. I hate being called Mister Repton."

"Well, it would be different if you come with us like that," the
young mate said. "You see, you were a passenger, before; but if you
came like this, you will be here as a friend, like. So it will come
natural to call you Bob.

"And how do you like the place?"

"Oh, I like it well enough! I have been working very hard--at
least, pretty hard--so I haven't had time to feel it dull; and of
course I know all the officers in my brother-in-law's regiment. But
I shall be very glad, indeed, of a cruise; especially as we are
likely presently, by all they say, to be cut off here--some say for
months, some say for years."

"But still, I expect there will be some lively work," the mate
said, "if the Spaniards really mean to try and take this place."

"They will never take it," Bob said, "unless they are able to
starve us out; and they ought not to be able to do that. Ships
ought to be able to run in from the east, at any time; for the
Spaniards dare not come across within range of the guns and, if the
wind was strong, they could not get out from their side of the
bay."

"That is true enough, and I expect you will find fast-sailing
craft--privateers, and such like--will dodge in and out; but a
merchantman won't like to venture over this side of the Straits,
but will keep along the Moorish coasts. You see, they can't keep
along the Spanish side without the risk of being picked up, by the
gunboats and galleys with the blockading fleet. There are a dozen
small craft lying over there, now, with the men-of-war.

"Still, I don't say none of them will make their way in here,
because I daresay they will. They well know they will get big
prices for their goods, if they can manage to run the blockade. We
are safe to pick up some of the native craft, and bring them in;
and so will the other privateers. I expect there will be a good
many down here, before long. The worst of it is, there won't be any
sale for the craft we capture."

"Except for firewood, Joe. That is one of the things I have heard
we are sure to run very short of, if there is a long siege."

"Well, that will be something and, of course, any prizes we take
laden with things likely to be useful, and sell here, we shall
bring in; but the rest we shall have to send over to the other
side, so as to be out of sight of their fleet, and then take them
straight back to England.

"You see, we have shipped twice as many hands as we had on the
voyage when you were with us. We had only a trader's crew, then;
now we have a privateer's.

"Look there! There is a craft making in from the south. It is like
enough she has got the despatches on board. There are two or three
of those small Spanish craft getting under sail, to cut her off;
but they won't do it. They could not head her, without getting
under the fire of the guns of those batteries, on the point."

"Well, I will go ashore now, Joe, if you will let me have the boat.
The captain is going to have supper with us, tonight. I wanted you
to come too, but he said you could not both come on shore,
together. I hope we shall see you tomorrow."

On landing, Bob made his way to the barrack, so as to intercept
Gerald when he came off duty.

"Look here, Gerald," he said, when Captain O'Halloran came out of
the orderly room, "I want you to back me up."

"Oh, you do? Then I am quite sure that you are up to some mischief
or other, Bob, or you wouldn't want me to help you with Carrie."

"It is not mischief at all, Gerald. The Antelope came in last
night, and I saw Captain Lockett this morning, and I have asked him
to come to supper."

"Well, that is all right, Bob. We have plenty of food, at present."

"Yes, but that is not it, Gerald. He has invited me to go for a
cruise with him. He is going to pick up some prizes, along the
Spanish coast."

"Oh, that is it, is it? Well, you know very well Carrie won't let
you go."

"Well, why shouldn't I, Gerald? You know that I have been working
very well, here; and I am sure I have learnt as much Spanish, in
six months, as uncle expected me to learn in two years--besides
lots of Latin, and other things, from the doctor. Now, I do think
that I have earned a holiday. A fellow at school always has a
holiday. I am sure I have worked as hard as I did at school. I
think it only fair that I should have a holiday. Besides, you see,
I am past sixteen now and, being out here, I think I ought to have
the chance of any fun there is; especially as we may be shut up
here for ever so long."

"Well, there may be something in that, Bob. You certainly have
stuck at it well; and you have not got into a single scrape since
you came out, which is a deal more than I expected of you."

"Besides, you see, Gerald, if I had not made up my mind to stick to
uncle's business, I might have been on board the Brilliant now,
with Jim Sankey; and I think, after my giving up that chance, it
would be only fair that I should be allowed to have a cruise, now
that there is such a splendid opportunity."

"Well, Bob, I will do my best to persuade Carrie to let you go; but
as far as you are concerned, you know, she is commanding officer."

Bob laughed, for he knew well enough that, not only in that but in
all other matters, his sister generally had her own way.

"Well, I am very much obliged to you, Gerald. I am sure I should
enjoy it, awfully."

"Don't thank me too soon, Bob. You have your sister to manage yet."

"Oh, we ought to be able to manage her, between us!" Bob said,
confidently. "Look how you managed to have Dr. Burke for me, and
you know how well that turned out."

"Yes, that was a triumph, Bob. Well, we will do our best."

"Why, Bob, where have you been all the morning?" his sister said.
"The professor came at ten o'clock. He said he had arranged with
you that he should be an hour later than usual, as he had another
engagement, early."

"I forgot all about him, Carrie. He never came into my mind once,
since breakfast. I met Captain Lockett down in the town, as soon as
I went out, and I wanted him to come here to dinner. I knew you
would be glad to see him, for you said you liked him very much; but
he said he should be too busy, but he is coming up to supper, at
seven. Then I went on board the Antelope and had a chat with his
cousin Joe, who is first mate now."

When dinner was finished, Bob said:

"Don't you think, Carrie, I am looking pale? What with the heat,
and what with my sticking in and working so many hours a day, I
begin to feel that it is too much for me."

His sister looked anxiously at him.

"Well, Bob, you are looking a little pale, but so is everybody
else; and no wonder, with this heat. But I have not been noticing
you, particularly. What do you feel, Bob?"

"I think Bob feels as if he wants a holiday," Captain O'Halloran
put in.

"Well, then, we must tell the professor that we don't want him to
come, for a bit. Of course, Teddy Burke has given up coming,
already.

"But if you have a holiday, Bob, what will you do with yourself?"

"I don't think I shall get any better here, Carrie. I think I want
change of air."

"Nonsense, Bob! You can't be as bad as all that; and you never said
anything about it, before.

"If he is not well, you must ask Teddy Burke to come up to see him,
Gerald. Besides, how can he have change of air? The only place he
could go to would be Tetuan, and it would be hotter there than it
is here."

"I think, Carrie," Captain O'Halloran said, "I can prescribe for
him without calling Teddy Burke in. I fancy the very thing that
would get Bob set up would be a sea voyage."

"A sea voyage!" his wife repeated. "Do you mean that he should go
back to England? I don't see anything serious the matter with him.
Surely there cannot be anything serious enough for that."

"No, not so serious as that, Carrie. Just a cruise for a bit--on
board the Antelope, for example."

Mrs. O'Halloran looked from one to the other; and then, catching a
twinkle in Bob's eye, the truth flashed across her.

"You ought to be ashamed of yourself, Gerald," she said, laughing
in spite of herself. "You have quite frightened me. I see now.
Captain Locket has invited Bob to go for a cruise with him, and all
this about his being ill is nonsense, from beginning to end. You
don't mean to say that you have been encouraging Bob in this
ridiculous idea!"

"I don't know about encouraging, Carrie; but when he put it to me
that he had been working very steadily, for the last six months;
and that he had got into no scrapes; and that he had really earned
a holiday, and that this would be a very jolly one; I did not see
any particular reason why he shouldn't have it."

"No particular reason! Why, the Antelope is a privateer; and if she
is going to cruise about, that means that she is going to fight,
and he may get shot."

"So he may here, Carrie, if a ball happens to come the right way.

"I think Bob certainly deserves a reward for the way he has stuck
to his lessons. You know you never expected he would do as he has
done; and I am sure his uncle would be delighted, if he heard how
well he speaks Spanish.

"As to his health, the boy is well enough; but there is no denying
that this hot weather we are having takes it out of us all, and
that it would be a mighty good thing if every soul on the Rock had
the chance of a month's cruise at sea, to set him up.

"But seriously, Carrie, I don't see any reason, whatever, why he
should not go. We didn't bring the boy out here to make a
mollycoddle of him. He has got to settle down, some day, in a musty
old office; and it seems to me that he ought to have his share in
any fun and diversion that he has a chance of getting at, now. As
to danger, sure you are a soldier's wife; and why shouldn't he have
a share of it, just the same as if he had gone into the navy? You
wouldn't have made any hullabaloo about it, if he had done that.

"This is Bob's good time, let him enjoy it. You are not going to
keep a lad of his age tied to your apron strings. He has just got
the chance of having two or three years of fighting, and adventure.
It will be something for him to talk about, all his life; and my
opinion is, that you had best let him go his own way. There are
hundreds and hundreds of lads his age knocking about the world, and
running all sorts of risks, without having elder sisters worrying
over them."

"Very well, Gerald, if you and Bob have made up your minds about
it, it is no use my saying no. I am sure I don't want to make a
mollycoddle, as you call it, of him. Of course, uncle will blame
me, if any harm comes of it."

"No, he won't, Carrie. Your uncle wants the boy to be a gentleman,
and a man of the world. If you had said that a year ago, I would
have agreed with you; but we know him better, now, and I will be
bound he will like him to see as much life as he can, during this
time. He has sent him out into the world.

"I will write to your uncle, myself, and tell him it is my doing
entirely; and that I think it is a good thing Bob should take every
chance he gets, and that I will answer for it that he won't be any
the less ready, when the time comes, for buckling to at business."

"Well, if you really think that, Gerald, I have nothing more to
say. You know I should like Bob to enjoy himself, as much as he
can; only I seem to have the responsibility of him."

"I don't see why you worry about that, Carrie. If he had gone out
to Cadiz or Oporto, as your uncle intended, you don't suppose the
people there would have troubled themselves about him. He would
just have gone his own way. You went your own way, didn't you? And
it is mighty little you troubled yourself about what your uncle was
likely to say, when you took up with an Irishman in a marching
regiment; and I don't see why you should trouble now.

"The old gentleman means well with the boy but, after all, he is
not either his father or his mother. You are his nearest relation
and, though you are a married woman, you are not old enough, yet,
to expect that a boy of Bob's age is going to treat you as if you
were his mother, instead of his sister. There is not one boy in
fifty would have minded us as he has done."

"Well, Bob, there is nothing more for me to say, after that,"
Carrie said, half laughing--though there were tears in her eyes.

"No, no, Carrie; I won't go, if you don't like," Bob said,
impetuously.

"Yes, you shall go, Bob. Gerald is quite right. It is better you
should begin to think for yourself; and I am sure I should like you
to see things, and to enjoy yourself as much as you can. I don't
know why I should fidget about you, for you showed you had much
more good sense than I credited you with, when you gave up your
chance of going to sea and went into uncle's office.

"I am sure I am the last person who ought to lecture you, after
choosing to run about all over the world, and to take the risk of
being starved here," and she smiled at her husband.

"You do as you like, Bob," she went on. "I won't worry about you,
in future--only if you have to go back to England without a leg, or
an arm, don't blame me; and be sure you tell uncle that I made as
good a fight against it as I could."

And so it was settled.

"By the way," Bob exclaimed, presently, "I have got a letter from
uncle to you, in my pocket; and one for myself, also. Captain
Lockett gave them to me this morning, but I forgot all about them."

"Well, you are a boy!" his sister exclaimed.

"This is a nice sample, Gerald, of Bob's thoughtfulness.

"Well, give me the letter. Perhaps he writes saying you had better
be sent home, by the first chance that offers itself."

Bob's face fell. He had, indeed, himself had some misgiving, ever
since the troubles began, that his uncle might be writing to that
effect.

"Well, look here, Carrie," he said, "here is the letter; but I
think you had better not open it, till I have started on this
cruise. Of course, if he says I must go back, I must; but I may as
well have this trip, first."

Carrie laughed.

"What do you think, Gerald, shall I leave it till Bob has gone?"

"No, open it at once, Carrie. If he does say, 'send Bob on by the
first vessel,' there is not likely to be one before he goes in the
Antelope. Besides, that is all the more reason why he should go for
a cruise, before he starts back for that grimy old place in Philpot
Lane. We may as well see what the old gentleman says."

"I won't open mine till you have read yours, Carrie," Bob said. "I
mean to go the cruise, anyhow; but if he says I must go after that,
I will go. If he had been the old bear I used to think him, I would
not mind it a snap; but he has been so kind that I shall certainly
do what he wants."

Bob sat, with his hands deep in his pockets, watching his sister's
face with the deepest anxiety as she glanced through the letter;
Gerald standing by, and looking over her shoulder.

Illustration: 'The old gentleman is a brick,' exclaimed Gerald.

"The old gentleman is a brick!" Gerald, who was the first to arrive
at the end, exclaimed. "I wish I had had such a sensible old
relative, myself, but--barring an aunt who kept three parrots and a
cat, and who put more store on the smallest of them than she did on
me--never a relative did I have, in the world."

"Oh, tell me that afterwards!" Bob broke in.

"Do tell me what uncle says, Carrie."

His sister turned to the beginning again and read aloud:

"My dear niece--"

"Where does he write from?" Bob interrupted. "Is it from Philpot
Lane, or from somewhere else?"

"He writes from Matlock, Derbyshire."

"That is all right," Bob said. "I thought, by what Gerald said, he
could not have written from Philpot Lane."

"My dear niece," Carrie began again, "I duly received your letter,
saying that Bob had arrived out safely; and also his more lengthy
epistle, giving an account of the incidents of the voyage. I should
be glad if you would impress upon him the necessity of being more
particular in his punctuation, as also in the crossing of his t's
and the dotting of his i's. I have also received your letter
bearing date June 1st; and note, with great satisfaction, your
statement that he has been most assiduous in his studies, and that
he is already able to converse with some fluency in Spanish.

"Since that time the state of affairs between the two countries has
much occupied my attention--both from its commercial aspect, which
is serious, and in connection with Bob. As the issue of a
declaration of war is hourly expected, as I write, the period of
uncertainty may be considered as over, and the two countries may be
looked upon as at war. I have reason to congratulate myself upon
having followed the advice of my correspondent, and of having laid
in a very large supply of Spanish wine; from which I shall, under
the circumstances, reap considerable profits. I have naturally been
debating, with myself, whether to send for Bob to return to
England; or to proceed to Lisbon, and thence to Oporto, to the care
of my correspondent there. I have consulted in this matter my
junior partner, Mr. Medlin, who is staying with me here for a few
days; and I am glad to say that his opinion coincides with that at
which I had finally arrived--namely, to allow him to remain with
you.

"His conduct when with me, and the perseverance with which--as you
report--he is pursuing his studies, has shown me that he will not
be found wanting in business qualities, when he enters the firm. I
am, therefore, all the more willing that he should use the
intervening time in qualifying himself, generally, for a good
position in the city of London; especially for that of the head of
a firm in the wine trade, in which an acquaintance with the world,
and the manners of a gentleman, if not of a man of fashion--a
matter in which my firm has been very deficient, heretofore--are
specially valuable. It is probable, from what I hear, that
Gibraltar will be besieged; and the event is likely to be a
memorable one. It will be of advantage to him, and give him a
certain standing, to have been present on such an occasion.

"And if he evinces any desire to place any services he is able to
render, either as a volunteer or otherwise, at the disposal of the
military authorities--and I learn, from Mr. Medlin, that it is by
no means unusual for the civil inhabitants of a besieged town to be
called upon, to aid in its defence--I should recommend that you
should place no obstacle in his way. As a lad of spirit, he would
naturally be glad of any opportunity to distinguish himself. I
gathered, from him, that one of his schoolfellows was serving as a
midshipman in a ship of war that would, not improbably, be
stationed at Gibraltar; and Bob would naturally dislike remaining
inactive, when his schoolfellow, and many other lads of the same
age, were playing men's parts in an historical event of such
importance. Therefore you will fully understand that you have my
sanction, beforehand, to agree with any desire he should express in
this direction, if it seems reasonable and proper to you and
Captain O'Halloran.

"As it is probable that the prices of food, and other articles,
will be extremely high during the siege, I have written, by this
mail, to Messieurs James and William Johnston, merchants of
Gibraltar--with whom I have had several transactions--authorizing
them to honour drafts duly drawn by Captain O'Halloran, upon me, to
the extent of 500 pounds; such sum being, of course, additional to
the allowance agreed upon between us for the maintenance and
education of your brother.

"I remain, my dear niece, your affectionate uncle, John Bale."

"Now I call that being a jewel of an uncle," Captain O'Halloran
said, while Bob was loud in his exclamations of pleasure.

"Now you see what you brought on yourself, Bob, by your
forgetfulness. Here we have had all the trouble in life to get
Carrie to agree to your going while, had she read this letter
first, she would not have had a leg to stand upon--at least,
metaphorically speaking; practically, no one would doubt it, for a
minute."

"Practically, you are a goose, Gerald; metaphorically, uncle is an
angel. But I am very, very glad. That has relieved me from the
responsibility, altogether; and you know, at heart, I am just as
willing that Bob should enjoy himself as you are.

"Now, what does your uncle say to you, Bob?"

Bob opened and read his uncle's letter, and then handed it to his
sister.

"It is just the same sort of thing, Carrie. I can see Mr. Medlin's
hand in it, everywhere. He says that, for the time, I must regard
my connection with the firm as of secondary importance; and take
any opportunity that offers to show the spirit of an English
gentleman, by doing all in my power to uphold the dignity of the
British flag; and taking any becoming part that may offer, in the
defence of the town. Of course he says he has heard, with pleasure,
of my progress in Spanish; and that he and his junior partner look
forward, with satisfaction, to the time when I shall enter the
firm.'

"My dear Carrie," Captain O'Halloran said, "I will get a bottle of
champagne from the mess; and this evening, at supper, we will drink
your excellent uncle's health, with all the honours. I will ask
Teddy Burke to come up and join us."

"Then I think, Gerald," his wife said, smiling, "that as Captain
Lockett will be here, too, one bottle of champagne will not go very
far."

"I put it tentatively, my dear; We will say two bottles, and we
will make the first inroad on our poultry yard. We had twenty eggs,
this morning; and the woman downstairs reports that two of the hens
want to sit, though how they explained the matter to her is more
than I know; anyhow, we can afford a couple of chickens."

It was a very jovial supper, especially as it was known that the
news of the proclamation of war had been brought in, by the ship
that had arrived that morning.

"By the way, Mrs. O'Halloran," Captain Lockett said, "I have a
consignment for you. I will land it, the first thing in the
morning, for I shall sail in the evening. We are to get our letters
of marque, authorizing the capture of Spanish vessels, at ten
o'clock in the morning."

"What is the consignment, captain?"

"It is from Mr. Bale, madam. I saw him in town, a week before I
sailed, and told him I was likely to come on here, direct; and he
sent off at once three cases of champagne, and six dozen of port,
directed to you; and an eighteen gallon cask of Irish whisky, for
Captain O'Halloran."

"My dear," Captain O'Halloran said solemnly, "I believe that you
expressed, today, the opinion that your uncle was, metaphorically,
an angel. I beg that the word metaphorically be omitted. If there
was ever an angel in a pigtail, and a stiff cravat, that angel is
Mr. John Bale, of Philpot Lane."

"It is very good of him," Carrie agreed. "We could have done very
well without the whisky, but the port wine and the champagne may be
very useful, if this siege is going to be the terrible thing you
all seem to fancy."

"A drop of the craytur is not to be despised, Mrs. O'Halloran," Dr.
Burke said; "taken with plenty of water it is a fine digestive and,
when we run short of wine and beer, you will not be despising it,
yourself."

"I did not know, Teddy Burke, that you had any experience,
whatever, of whisky mixed with plenty of water."

"You are too hard on me, altogether," the doctor laughed. "There is
no soberer man in the regiment than your humble servant."

"Well, it will do you all good, if you get on short allowance of
wine, for a time. I can't think why men want to sit, after dinner,
and drink bottle after bottle of port wine. It is all very well to
say that everyone does it, but that is a very poor excuse. Why
should they do it? Women don't do it, and I don't see why men
should. I hope the time will come when it is considered just as
disgraceful, for a man to drink, as it is for a woman.

"And now, Captain Lockett, about Bob. What time must he be on
board?"

"He must be on board before gunfire, Mrs. O'Halloran, unless you
get a special order from the town major. I was obliged to get one,
myself, for this evening. The orders are strict, now; all the gates
are closed at gunfire."

"Yes, and mighty strict they are," Captain O'Halloran said. "There
was Major Corcoran, of the 72nd, and the doctor of the regiment
were out fishing yesterday; and the wind fell, and the gun went
just as they were landing, and divil a bit could they get in. The
major is a peppery little man, and I would have given anything to
have seen him. One of the Hanoverian regiments furnished the guard,
at the water batteries; and the sentry told him, if he came a foot
nearer in the boat they would fire and, in the end, he and the
doctor had to cover themselves up with a sail, and lie there all
night. I hear the major went to lodge a complaint, when he landed;
but of course the men were only doing their duty, and I hear Eliott
gave him a wigging, for endeavouring to make them disobey orders."

"I will be on board before gunfire, Captain Lockett. There is no
fear of my missing it."

"How long do you expect to be away, Captain Lockett?" Mrs.
O'Halloran asked.

"That depends on how we get on. If we are lucky, and pick up a
number of prizes, we may bring them in in a week; if not we may be
three weeks, especially if this calm weather lasts."

"I am sure I hope you won't be too lucky, at first, captain," Bob
put in. "I don't want the cruise to finish in a week."

"Oh, I sha'n't consider the cruise is finished, merely because we
come in, Bob!" the captain said. "We shall be going out again, and
only put in here to bring in our prizes. The cruise will last as
long as Captain O'Halloran and your sister will allow you to remain
on board.

"I expect that I shall be able to make you very useful. I shall put
you down in the ship's books as third mate. You won't be able to
draw prize money, as an officer, because the number of officers
entitled to prize money was entered when the crew signed articles;
but if I put you down as supercargo you will share, with the men,
in any prizes we take while you are away with us."

"That will be jolly, captain; not because of the money, you know,
but because it will give one more interest in the cruise. Besides,
I shall like something to do."

"Oh, I will give you something to do! I shall put you in Joe's
watch, and then you will learn something. It is always as well to
pick up knowledge, when you get a chance; and if we do take any
prizes it will be your duty, as supercargo, to take an inventory of
what they have on board."

The next morning Bob packed his trunks, the first thing; then he
went round to the professor's, and told him that he was going away,
for a fortnight or so, for a cruise; then he went down to the port,
and met Joe Lockett when he landed, and brought him up to
breakfast, as had been arranged with the captain the night before.
After that, he went with him up the Rock to look at the
Spaniards--whose tents were a good deal more numerous than they had
been, and who were still at work, arming the forts.

"If I were the general," Joe said, "I would go out at night, with
two or three regiments, and spike all those guns, and blow up the
forts. The Dons wouldn't be expecting it; and it would be a good
beginning, and would put the men in high spirits.

"Do you see, the Spanish fleet has drifted away almost out of
sight, to the east. I thought what it would be, at sunset
yesterday, when I saw that they did not enter the bay; for the
current would be sure to drive them away, if the wind didn't spring
up.

"Well, I hope we shall get a little, this evening. And now I must
be going down, for there is a good deal to do, before we sail."



Chapter 10: A Cruise In A Privateer.


Bob was on board the Antelope a quarter of an hour before gunfire.
No movement was made until after sunset, for some of the gunboats
over at Algeciras might have put out, had they seen any
preparations for making sail; but as soon as it became dark the
anchor was hove, the sails dropped and sheeted home, and the brig
began to move slowly through the water. As she breasted Europa
Point, her course was altered to east by north, and the Rock faded
from sight in the darkness.

The first mate was on watch, and Bob walked up and down the deck
with him.

"There is no occasion for you to keep up," Joe Lockett said. "You
may just as well turn."

"Oh no, I mean to keep the watch with you!" Bob said. "The captain
said that I was to be in your watch, and I want you to treat me
just the same way as if I were a midshipman under you."

"Well, if you were a midshipman, there wouldn't be anything for you
to do, now: still, if you like to keep up, of course you can do so.
I shall be glad of your company, and you will help keep a sharp
lookout for ships."

"There is no chance of our coming across any Spanish traders
tonight, I suppose, Joe?"

"Not in the least. They would keep a deal farther out than we
shall, if they were bound either for Algeciras or through the
Straits. We are not likely to meet anything, till we get near
Malaga. After that, of course, we shall be in the line of coasters.
There are Almeria, and Cartagena, and Alicante, and a score of
small ports between Alicante and Valencia."

"We don't seem to be going through the water very fast, Joe."

"No, not more than two or two and a half knots an hour. However, we
are in no hurry. With a light wind like this, we don't want to get
too close to the shore, or we might have some of their gunboats
coming out after us. I expect that in the morning, if the wind
holds light, the captain will take in our upper sails, and just
drift along. Then, after it gets dark, he will clap on everything;
and run in so as to strike the coast a few miles above Malaga. Then
we will take in sail, and anchor as close in as we dare. Anything
coming along, then, will take us for a craft that has come out from
Malaga."

At midnight the second mate, whose name was Crofts, came up to
relieve watch; and Bob, who was beginning to feel very sleepy, was
by no means sorry to turn in. It hardly seemed to him that he had
closed an eye, when he was aroused by a knocking at the cabin door.

"It's two bells, sir, and Mr. Lockett says you are to turn out."

Bob hurried on his things and went up, knowing that he was an hour
late.

"I thought you wanted to keep watch, Bob. You ought to have been on
deck at eight bells."

"So I should have been, if I had been woke," Bob said, indignantly.
"I am not accustomed to wake up, just after I go to sleep. It
doesn't seem to me that I have been in bed five minutes. If you
wake me, tomorrow morning, you will see I will be up, sharp enough.

"There is hardly any wind."

"No, we have been only crawling along all night. There is Gib, you
see, behind us."

"Why, it doesn't look ten miles off," Bob said, in surprise.

"It is twice that. It is two or three and twenty, I should say.

"Now, the best thing you can do is to go down to the waist, slip
off your togs, and have a few buckets of water poured over you.
That will wake you up, and you will feel ever so much more
comfortable, afterwards. I have just told the steward to make us a
couple of cups of coffee. They will be ready by the time you have
had your wash."

Bob followed the advice and, after a bath, a cup of coffee, and a
biscuit, he no longer felt the effects from the shortness of the
night. The sun had already risen, and there was not a cloud upon
the sky.

"What are those, over there?" he asked, pointing to the southeast.
"They look like sails."

"They are sails. They are the upper sails of the Spanish fleet. I
expect they are trying to work back into the bay again, but they
won't do it, unless they get more wind. You see, I have taken the
topgallant sails off the brig, so as not to be seen.

"There is the Spanish coast, you see, twelve or fourteen miles
away, to port. If you like, you can take the glass and go up into
the maintop, and see if you can make anything out on shore."

Bob came down in half an hour.

"There are some fishing boats," he said, "at least, they look like
fishing boats, close inshore, just abreast of us."

"Yes, there are two or three little rivers on this side of Malaga.
There is not water in them for craft of any size, but the fishing
boats use them. There is a heavy swell sets in here, when the wind
is from the east with a bit south in it, and they run up there for
shelter."

Captain Lockett now came up on deck.

"Good morning, Bob! I did not see you here, when watch was
changed."

"No, sir, I wasn't woke; but I mean to be up another morning."

"That is right, Bob. Joe and I agreed to give you an extra hour,
this morning. Four hours are very short measure, to one who is not
accustomed to it; but you will soon find that you can turn in and
get a sleep, when your watch is over, whatever the time of day."

"It seems to me that this watch has the worst of it, Captain
Lockett. We had from eight to twelve, and now from four to eight;
and the other had only four hours on deck."

"Yours is considered the best watch, Bob. The middle watch, as the
one that comes on at twelve o'clock is called, is always the most
disliked. You see, at eight bells you go off and have your
breakfast comfortably, and can then turn in till twelve o'clock;
and you can get another caulk, from five or six till eight in the
evening. Of course, if there is anything to do, bad weather or
anything of that sort, both watches are on deck, all day."

"Well, I am almost sure I should like the other watch best," Bob
said.

"You are wrong, lad, especially in summer. You see, it is not
fairly dark till nine, and you wouldn't turn in till ten, anyhow;
so that, really, you are only kept two hours out of your bunk, at
that watch. It is getting light when you come up, at four; and at
five we begin to wash decks, and there is plenty to occupy you, so
that it doesn't seem long till eight bells. The others have to turn
out at twelve o'clock, just when they are most sleepy; and to be on
watch for the four dark hours, and then go down just as it is
getting light.

"On a cold night in winter, in the channel, I think perhaps the
advantage is the other way. But, in fact, men get so accustomed to
the four hours in, and the four hours out, that it makes very
little difference to them how it goes."

All day the brig kept on the same course, moving very slowly
through the water, and passing the coast as much by aid of the
current as by that of her sails.

"We are pretty well off Malaga," Captain Lockett said, in the
afternoon. "If there had been any wind, we should have had a chance
of picking up something making from there to the Straits; but there
is no chance of that, today. People like making quick voyages, when
there is a risk of falling in with an enemy; and they won't be
putting out from port until there is some change in the weather.
However, it looks to me as if there is a chance of a little breeze,
from the south, when the sun goes down. I have seen a flaw or two
on the water, that way."

"Yes, it seems to me darker over there," the mate said. "I will go
up and have a look round.

"Yes, sir, there is certainly a breeze stirring, down to the
south," he shouted, from aloft.

"That will just suit us," the captain said. "We must be twenty
miles off the coast at least and, even if they had noticed us from
above the town, we are too far off for them to make us out, at all;
so it will be safe for us to run in to the land.

"We shall rely upon you, Bob, if we are hailed."

"I will do my best to throw dust in their eyes, captain. You must
tell me, beforehand, all particulars; so that I can have the story
pat."

"We will wait till we see what sort of craft is likely to hail us.
A tale may be good enough, for the skipper of a coaster, that might
not pass muster with the captain of a gunboat."

"What are the coasters likely to be laden with?"

"There is never any saying. Mostly fruit and wine, grain and
olives. Then some of them would be taking goods, from the large
ports, to the small towns and villages along the coast. Some of the
coasters are well worth picking up; but of course, the craft we
shall be chiefly on the lookout for will be those from abroad. Some
of these have very valuable cargoes. They bring copper and lead,
and sometimes silver from the mines of Mexico and South America.
Some of them carry a good lot of silver, but it is too much to hope
that we should run across such a prize as that. They bring over
hides, too; they are worth money. Then, of course, there are ships
that have been trading up the Mediterranean with France and Italy
or the Levant.

"So, you see, there is a considerable variety in the chances of
what we may light upon. Coasters are, of course, the staple, so to
speak. If we have anything like luck, we shall not do badly, with
them. The others we must look upon as the prizes in the lottery."

Before the sun set the breeze came up to them, and the brig was at
once headed for the land. At ten o'clock the lights of Malaga were
made out on the port beam, and the brig bore away a little to the
east. Two hours later the land was looming, not far ahead.

Sail was got off her, and a man placed in the chains, and soundings
taken. This was continued until the water shoaled to eight fathoms,
when the brig was brought up, head to wind, and the anchor let go.
Then an anchor watch of four men was set, and the rest of the crew
allowed to turn in.

At daybreak the officers were out again, and it was found that the
brig was lying within a quarter of a mile of the land, in a slight
indentation of the coast. The wind had died away, and the sails
were loosed, and suffered to fall against the masts.

"It could not be better," Captain Lockett said. "We look, now, as
if we had been trying to make up or down the coast, and had been
forced to come to anchor here. Fortunately there don't seem to be
any villages near, so we are not likely to have anyone coming out
to us."

"How far do you think we are from Malaga, captain?"

"About ten miles, I should say, Bob. Why do you ask?"

"I was only thinking whether it would be possible for me to make my
way there, and find out what vessels there are in harbour, and
whether any of them are likely to be coming this way. But if it is
ten miles, I am afraid it is too far. I should have to pass through
villages; and I might be questioned where I came from, and where I
was going. I don't know that my Spanish would pass muster, if I
were questioned like that.

"I should be all right, if I were once in a seaport. No one would
be likely to ask me any questions. Then I could stroll about, and
listen to what was said and, certainly, I could talk quite well
enough to go in and get a meal, and all that sort of thing."

"I couldn't let you do that, Bob," the captain said. "It is a very
plucky idea, but it wouldn't be right to let you carry it out. You
would get hung as a spy, if you were detected."

"I don't think there is the least fear in the world of my being
detected, in a seaport," Bob said, "and I should think it great
fun; but I shouldn't like to try to cross the country. Perhaps we
may have a better chance, later on."

The captain shook his head.

"You might go on board some ship, if one brings up at anchor
anywhere near us, Bob. If you got detected, there, we would take
her and rescue you. But that is a different thing to letting you go
ashore."

Presently the sails of two fishing boats were seen, coming out from
beyond a low point, three miles to the east.

"I suppose there is a fishing village, there," the mate said. "I am
glad they are no nearer."

He examined the boats with a glass.

"They are working out with sweeps. I expect they hope to get a
little wind, when they are in the offing."

Just as they were at breakfast the second mate, who was on deck,
called down the skylight:

"There are three craft to the west, sir. They have just come out
from behind the point there. They are bringing a little breeze with
them."

"What are they like, Mr. Crofts?"

"One is a polacre, another a xebec, and the third looks like a
full-rigged craft; but as she is end on, I can't say for certain."

"All right, Mr. Crofts! I will be up in five minutes. We can do
nothing until we get the wind, anyhow."

Breakfast was speedily finished, and they went on deck. The Spanish
flag was already flying from the peak. The three craft were about
two miles away.

"How are they sailing, Mr. Crofts?"

"I fancy the xebec is the fastest, sir. She was astern just now,
and she is abreast of the polacre now, as near as I can make out.
The ship, or brig--whichever it is--seems to me to be dropping
astern."

"Heave away at the anchor, Joe. Get in all the slack, so as to be
ready to hoist, as soon as the breeze reaches us. I don't want them
to come up to us. The line they are taking, now, will carry them
nearly half a mile outside us, which is fortunate. Run in six of
the guns, and throw a tarpaulin over the eighteen pounder. Three
guns, on each side, are about enough for us to show."

The breeze caught them when the three Spanish craft were nearly
abeam.

"They have more wind, out there, than we shall have here," the
captain said; "which is an advantage, for I don't want to run away
from them.

"Now, get up the anchor, Joe. Don't take too many hands."

The watch below had already been ordered to sit down on the deck,
and half the other watch were now told to do the same.

"Twelve or fourteen hands are quite enough to show," the captain
said.

"The anchor's up, sir," Joe shouted.

"Let it hang there. We will get it aboard, presently.

"Now haul that fore-staysail across, ease off the spanker sheet.

"Now, as she comes round, haul on the braces and sheets, one by
one. Do it in as lubberly a way as you can."

The brig, which had been riding with her head to the west, came
slowly round; the yards being squared in a slow fashion, in strong
contrast to the active way in which they were generally handled.
The captain watched the other craft, carefully.

"The xebec and polacre are gaining on us, but we are going as fast
through the water as the three master. When we get the wind a
little more, we shall have the heels of them all.

"Get a sail overboard, Joe, and tow it under her port quarter.
Don't give her too much rope, or they might catch sight of it, on
board the ship. That will bring us down to her rate of sailing.

"I want to keep a bit astern of them. We dare not attack them in
the daylight; they mount too many guns for us, altogether. That big
fellow has got twelve on a side, the polacre has eight, and the
xebec six, so between them they have fifty-two guns. We might try
it, if they were well out at sea; but it would never do, here.
There may be galleys or gunboats within hearing, so we must bide
our time.

"I think we are in luck, this time, Joe. That ship must have come
foreign; at least, I should say so by her appearance, though she
may be from Cadiz. As to the other two, they may be anything. The
xebec, no doubt, is a coast trader. The polacre may be one thing,
or another, but I should hardly think she has come across the
Atlantic. Likely enough she is from Bilbao or Santander. The ship
is the fellow to get hold of, if we get a chance. I shall be quite
content to leave the others alone."

"I should think so," Joe agreed. "The ship ought to be a valuable
prize, wherever she comes from. If she is sound, and pretty new,
she would fetch a good sum, if we can get her into an English
port."

The wind continued to hold light, and the four vessels made but
slow progress through the water. The two leaders, however,
gradually improved their position. They were nearly matched, in
point of sailing; and their captains were evidently making a race
of it, hoisting every stitch of canvas they were able to show. By
the afternoon they were fully two miles ahead of the ship, which
was half a mile on the starboard bow of the brig.

The wind died away to nothing, as the sun set. The three Spanish
vessels had all been edging in towards shore, and the polacre
anchored just before sunset. The ship held on for another hour, but
was a mile astern of the other two when she, also, dropped her
anchor.

The sail, that had been towing overboard from the brig, had been
got on board again when the wind began to drop; and she had come up
to within little more than a quarter of a mile of the ship. The
anchor was let go, as soon as it was seen that the crew of the ship
were preparing to anchor, so that the brig should be first to do
so. Whether there had been any suspicions, on board the Spaniards,
as to the character of the brig, they could not tell but, watching
her closely, Captain Lockett saw that the order to anchor was
countermanded, as soon as it was seen that the brig had done so.

A few minutes after the men again went forward, and the anchor was
dropped; for the vessel was making no way whatever, through the
water.

"Well, Joe, there we are, close to her, now. The question is, what
are we to do next? If there was any wind, it would be simple
enough. We would drop alongside, in the middle watch; and carry her
by boarding, before the Dons had time to get out of their hammocks.
But as it is, that is out of the question and, of course, we can't
think of towing her up. On such a still night as this will be, they
would hear the slightest noise."

"We might attack her in the boats," the mate said.

"Yes, that would be possible; but their watch would hear the oars,
the instant we began to row. You see, by the number of guns she
carries, she must be strongly manned."

"I expect most of them are small," Joe said, "and meant for show,
rather than use. It is likely enough she may have taken half of
them on board at Cadiz, or Malaga, so as to give her a formidable
appearance, in case she should fall in with any craft of our
description. If she has come across the Atlantic, she would never
have carried anything like that number of guns, for Spain was not
at war with anyone."

"No; but craft flying the black flag are still to be found in those
waters, Joe, and she might carry her guns for defence against them.
But it is not a question of guns, at present, it is a question of
the crew. It isn't likely that she carries many more than we do
and, if we could but get alongside her, there would be no fear
about it, at all; but I own I don't like the risk of losing half my
men, in an attack on a craft like that, unless we can have the
advantage of a surprise."

"What do you say to my swimming off to her, as soon as it gets
quite dark, captain?" Bob said. "I am a very good swimmer. We used
to bathe regularly at Putney, where I was at school; and I have
swum across the Thames and back, lots of times. There is sure to be
a little mist on the water, presently, and they won't be keeping a
very sharp lookout till it gets later. I can get hold of a cable
and climb up; and get in over the bow, if there is no lookout
there, and see what is going on. There is no danger in the thing
for, if I am discovered, I have only got to dive and swim back
again. There is no current to speak of, here; and there wouldn't be
the least chance of their hitting me, in the dark. I should
certainly be able to learn something, by listening to their talk."

"It would be a very risky thing, Bob," Captain Lockett said,
shaking his head. "I shouldn't like to let you do it; though of
course it would be a great thing, if we could learn something about
her. I own I don't like her appearance, though I can't say why.
Somehow or other, I don't think she is all right. Either all those
guns are a mere pretence, and she is weak handed, or she must carry
a very big crew."

"Well, I don't see there can be any possible harm in my trying to
get on board her, captain. Of course, if I am hailed as I approach
her, I shall turn and come back again. The night will be dark, but
I shall have no difficulty in finding her, from the talking and
noise on board.

"Well, Joe, what do you think?" the captain said, doubtfully.

"I think you might let Bob try," Joe said. "I should not mind
trying at all but, as I can't speak Spanish, I should be able to
learn nothing. They are not likely to be setting a watch, and
keeping a sharp lookout, for some time; and I should think that he
might, possibly, get on board unobserved. If they do make him out,
he has only to keep on diving and, in the dark, there would be
little chance of their hitting him. Besides, they certainly
couldn't make out that it was a swimmer. If they noticed a ripple
in the water, they would be sure to think it was a fish of some
sort."

Bob continued to urge that he should be allowed to try it and, at
last, Captain Lockett agreed to his doing so. It was already almost
dark enough for the attempt to be made, and Bob prepared at once
for the swim. He took off his coat, waistcoat, and shirt; and put
on a dark knitted jersey, fastened a belt tightly round his waist,
over his breeches, and took off his shoes.

"If I am seen," he said, "you are sure to hear them hailing, or
shouting; and then please show a lantern over the stern," for,
slight as the current was, it sufficed to make the vessel swing
head to west.

A rope was lowered over the side and, by this, he slipped down
quietly into the water, which was perfectly warm. Then he struck
off noiselessly, in the direction of the ship. He kept the two
masts of the brig in one, as long as he could make them out but,
owing to the mist on the water, he soon lost sight of her; but he
had no difficulty in keeping a straight course, as he could plainly
hear the sound of voices, ahead of him. Taking the greatest pains
to avoid making the slightest splash, and often pausing to listen,
Bob swam on until he saw a dark mass looming up in front of him.

Illustration: Bob swims off to the Spanish Warship.

He now did little more than float, giving a gentle stroke,
occasionally, and drifting towards it until he grasped the cable.

He now listened intently. There were voices on the fo'castle, above
him; and he determined, before trying to climb up there, to swim
round the vessel--keeping close to her side, so that he could not
be seen, unless someone leaned far over the bulwark. Halfway along
he came upon a projection and, looking up, saw that slabs of wood,
three inches wide, were fixed against the side, at intervals of a
foot apart; so as to form an accommodation ladder, when it was not
considered necessary to lower a gangway. Two hand ropes hung by the
side of it.

His way was now easy. He drew himself out of the water by the
ropes, and ascended the ladder; then crawled along outside the
bulwark until he came to a porthole, from which a gun projected;
then he crawled in there, and lay under the cannon.

Two or three lanterns were suspended above the deck and, by their
light, Bob could at once see that he was on board a ship of war.
Groups of sailors were sitting on the deck, among the guns; and he
saw that most of these were run in, and that they were of heavy
calibre, several of them being 32-pounders.

As the captain and Joe had both agreed that the guns were only
14-pounders, Bob had no difficulty in arriving at the fact that
these must have been mere dummies, thrust out of the portholes to
deceive any stranger as to her armament. He lay listening, for some
time, to the talk of the sailors; and gathered that the ship had
been purposely disguised, before putting out from Malaga, in order
to deceive any English privateers she might come across as to her
strength. He learned also that considerable doubts were
entertained, as to the brig; and that the xebec and polacre had
been signalled to go on ahead, so as to induce the brig--if she
should be an enemy--to make an attack.

The reason why she had not been overhauled, during the day, was
that the captain feared she might escape him in a light wind; for
the watch had been vigilant, and had made out that she was towing
something, to deaden her way. It was considered likely that, taking
the ship for a merchantman, an attack would be made in boats during
the night; and the men joked as to the surprise their assailants
would get. Boarding pikes were piled in readiness; shot had been
placed in the racks, ready to throw down into the boats as they
came alongside; and the ship's boats had been swung out, in
readiness for lowering--as it was intended to carry the brig, by
boarding, after the repulse and destruction of her boats.

"We have had a narrow escape of catching a tartar," Bob said, to
himself. "It is very lucky I came on board to reconnoitre. The
Spaniards are not such duffers as we thought them. We fancied we
were taking them in, and very nearly fell into a trap, ourselves."

Very quietly he crawled back under the porthole, made his way along
outside the bulwark until his hand touched the rope, and then slid
down by it into the water. As he knew there was more chance of a
sharp watch being kept, in the eyes of the ship, than elsewhere, he
swam straight out from her side until she became indistinct, and
then headed for the brig. The lights on board the Spaniard served
as a guide to him, for some time; but the distance seemed longer to
him than it had before, and he was beginning to fancy he must have
missed the brig, when he saw her looming up on his right. In three
or four minutes he was alongside.

"The brig there!" he hailed. "Drop me a rope overboard."

There was a stir overhead, at once.

"Where are you, Bob?" Captain Lockett asked, leaning over the side.

"Just below you, sir."

A rope was dropped. Bob grasped it, and was hauled up.

"Thank God you are back again!" the captain said. "I have been
blaming myself, ever since you started; though, as all was quiet,
we felt pretty sure they hadn't made you out. Well, have you any
news? Did you get on board?"

"You will get no prize money this time, captain. The Spaniard is a
ship of war, mounting twenty-four guns; none of them smaller than
eighteens, and ten of them thirty-twos."

"Impossible, Bob! We could not have been so mistaken. Joe and I
were both certain that they were fourteens."

"Yes, sir; but those things you saw were dummies. The guns,
themselves, are almost all drawn in. All the thirty-twos are, and
most of the eighteens. She has been specially disguised, at Malaga,
in hopes of tempting a craft like yours to attack her and, what is
more, she has a shrewd suspicion of what you are;" and he related
the whole of the conversation he had heard, and described the
preparations for repulsing a boat attack and, in turn, carrying the
brig in the ship's boats.

Captain Lockett was thunderstruck.

"The Spanish officer who commands her must be a smart fellow," he
said, "and we have had a narrow escape of running our head into a
noose--thanks to you, Bob; for Joe and I had quite made up our
minds to attack her, in the middle watch.

"Well, the only thing for us to do is to get away from here, as
soon as we can. If she finds we don't attack her, tonight, she is
sure to send a boat to us, in the morning; and then, if we have an
engagement, we could hardly hope to get off without losing some of
our spars--even if we were not sunk--with such heavy metal as she
carries. We should have the other two craft down on us, too, and
our chances of getting away would be worth nothing.

"Well, I suppose, Joe, our best plan will be to tow her away?"

"I should think so, sir. When they hear us at it, they may send
their boats out after us, but we can beat them off; and I should
hardly think that they would try it, for they will be sure that, if
we are a privateer, we have been playing the same game as they
have, and hiding our guns, and will guess that we carry a strong
crew."

"Send the crew aft, Joe. I will tell them how matters stand.

"We have had a narrow escape of catching a tartar, my lads," he
said, when the men went aft. "You all know Mr. Repton swam off, an
hour ago, to try and find out what the ship was like. Well, he has
been on board, and brings back news that she is no trader, but a
ship of war, disguised; and that she carries twenty-four
guns--eighteen-pounders and thirty-twos. If we met while out at
sea, we might make a fight of it; but it would never do, here,
especially as her two consorts would be down upon us. She suspects
what we are, although she is not certain; and everything is in
readiness to repel a boat attack--her captain's intention being, if
we tried, to sink or cripple the boats, and then to attack us with
her guns.

"So you may thank Mr. Repton that you have had a narrow escape of
seeing the inside of a Spanish prison.

"Now, what I propose to do is to tow her out. Get the four boats in
the water, as quietly as you can. We have greased the falls,
already. We will tow her straight ahead, at any rate for a bit.
That craft won't be able to bring any guns to bear upon us, except
perhaps a couple of bow chasers; and as she won't be able to see
us, there is not much chance of our being hit. Pass the hawser
along, from boat to boat, and row in a line ahead of her. The hull
will shelter you. Then lay out heartily; but be ready, if you are
hailed, to throw off the hawser and get back on board again, as
soon as you can, for they may send their boats out after us. We
shall get a start anyhow for, when they hear you rowing, they will
think you are putting off to attack them; and it will be some
minutes before they will find out their mistake.

"Joe, do you go in charge of the boats. I will take the helm. You
must cut the cable. They would hear the clank of the windlass."

The operation of lowering boats was conducted very silently. Bob
had taken his place at the taffrail, and stood listening for any
sound that would show that the Spaniards had heard what was doing.
The oars were scarcely dipped in the water, when he heard a sudden
lull in the distant talking. A minute later, it broke out again.

"They have orders to pay no attention to the noises," Captain
Lockett said, "so as to lead us to think that we shall take them
unawares.

"There, she is moving now," he added, as he looked down into the
water.

Four or five minutes elapsed; and then, in the stillness of the
evening, they could hear a loud hail, in Spanish:

"What ship is that? Cease rowing, or we will sink you!"

"Don't answer," Captain Lockett said. "They have nothing but the
confused sound of the oars to tell them where we are."

The hail was repeated and, a minute later, there was the flash of a
gun in the darkness, and a shot hummed through the air.

"Fire away!" the captain muttered. "You are only wasting
ammunition."

For some minutes the Spaniard continued to fire her two bow guns.
Then, after a pause, there was a crash; and twelve guns were
discharged, together.

"We are getting farther off, every minute," the captain said, "and
unless an unlucky shot should strike one of her spars, we are
safe."

The broadside was repeated four times, and then all was silent.

"We are a mile away from them now, Bob; and though, I daresay, they
can hear the sound of the oars, it must be mere guesswork as to our
position."

He went forward to the bows, and hailed the boats.

"Take it easy now, Mr. Lockett. I don't think she will fire any
more. When the men have got their wind, row on again. I shall head
her out, now. We must give her a good three miles offing, before we
stop."

The men in the four boats had been exerting themselves to their
utmost, and it was five minutes before they began rowing again. For
an hour and a half they continued their work, and then Captain
Lockett said to the second mate:

"You can go forward, and hail them to come on board. I think we
have been moving through the water about two knots an hour, so we
must be three miles seaward of him."

As soon as the men came on board, a tot of grog was served out, all
round. Then the watch below turned in.

"You won't anchor, I suppose, captain?"

"No, there is a considerable depth of water here, and a rocky
bottom. I don't want to lose another anchor, and it would take us
something like half an hour to get it up again; besides, what
current there is will drift us eastward.

"There is more of it, here, than we had inshore. I should say there
must be nearly a knot an hour, which will take us a good distance
away from those gentlemen, before morning.

"Now, Bob, you had better have a glass of grog, and then turn in.
Joe will excuse you keeping watch, tonight."

"Oh, I feel all right!" Bob said. "The water was quite warm, and I
slipped down and changed my clothes, directly they left off
firing."

"Never mind, you turn in as you are told. You have done us good
service, tonight; and have earned your keep on board the brig, if
you were to stop here till she fell to pieces of old age."

When Bob went up in the morning, at five o'clock, the three Spanish
vessels were still lying at anchor under the land, seven or eight
miles away.

"There is a breeze coming," Joe said, "and it is from the south, so
we shall get it long before they do. We shall see no more of them."

As soon as the breeze reached them, the sails were braced aft; and
the brig kept as close to the wind as she would sail, lying almost
directly off from the land.

"I want them to think that we are frightened," Captain Lockett
said, in answer to a question from Bob as to the course, "and that
we have decided to get away from their neighbourhood, altogether. I
expect they are only going as far as Alicante. We will run on till
we are well out of sight, then hold on for the rest of the day east
and, in the night, head for land again, beyond Alicante. It would
never do to risk those fellows coming upon us, again, when we are
quietly at anchor. We might not be so lucky, next time."

An hour later the lookout in the top hailed the deck, and said that
there was a sail in sight.

"What does she look like, Halkett?" Joe Lockett shouted, for the
captain was below.

"As far as I can make out she is a two master--I should say, a
brig."

"How is she heading?"

"About northeast, sir. I should say, if we both hold on our
courses, she will pass ahead of us."

The captain was now on deck, and he and the first mate went up to
the top.

"Starboard your helm a bit!" the captain shouted, after examining
the distant sail through his telescope. "Keep her about east."

"What do you think she is, captain?" Bob asked, when the two
officers came down again to the poop.

"I should say that she was a craft about our own size, Bob; and I
fancy she has come through the Straits, keeping well over the other
side, so as to avoid our cruisers from Gib; and is now heading for
Alicante. Now we are on our course again, parallel to the coast,
there is no reason why she should suspect us of being anything but
a trader. If she doesn't take the alarm, I hope we shall be
alongside her in a few hours."



Chapter 11: Cutting Out A Prize.


The distant sail was anxiously watched from the Antelope. It closed
in with them fast, running almost before the wind. In two hours,
her hull could be seen from the deck.

Efforts had been made, by slacking the ropes and altering the set
of the sails, to give the brig as slovenly an appearance as
possible. The guns had been run in and the portholes closed and, as
the Spaniard approached, the crew--with the exception of five or
six men--were ordered to keep below the bulwarks.

The course that the Spaniard was taking would have brought her just
under the stern of the Antelope when, suddenly, she was seen to
change her course, and to bear up into the wind.

"Too late, my lady," the captain said; "you have blundered on too
long.

"There is something in our cut that she doesn't like. Haul down
that Spanish flag, and run the Union Jack up.

"Open ports, lads, and show them our teeth. Fire that bow gun
across her forefoot!"

The guns were already loaded; and as soon as they were run out a
shot was fired, as a message to the Spaniard to heave to. A minute
later, as she paid no attention, a broadside followed. Three of the
shots went crashing into the side of the Spaniard, and one of her
boats was smashed.

A moment later the Spanish flag fluttered down, and a hearty cheer
broke from the crew of the Antelope. The Spaniard was thrown up
into the wind and, in a few minutes, the brig ranged up alongside,
within pistol shot. The gig was lowered; and the captain rowed
alongside her, taking Bob with him as interpreter.

The prize proved to be a brig, of about the same tonnage as the
Antelope. She was from Cadiz, bound first to Alicante, and then to
Valencia. She carried only six small guns, and a crew of eighteen
men. Her cargo consisted of grain and olive oil.

"Not a bad prize," Captain Lockett said, as Bob read out the items
of her bill of lading. "It is a pity that it is not full up,
instead of only half laden. Still, it is not a bad beginning; and
the craft herself is of a handy size and, if she won't sell at
Gibraltar, will pay very well to take on to England. I should say
she was fast."

An hour later the two brigs parted company, the second mate and
twelve hands being placed on board the Spaniard. There was some
discussion as to the prisoners, but it was finally agreed to leave
them on board their ship.

"Keep them down in the hold, Mr. Crofts. See that you don't leave
any knives with them. Keep a couple of sentries over the hatchway.
If the wind holds, you will be in the bay by tomorrow evening. Keep
pretty well inshore, and slip in as close to the point as you can.
If you do that, you need not have much fear of their gunboats.

"I don't suppose the authorities will want to keep the prisoners,
but of course you will report them on your arrival; and can give
them one of the boats, to land across the bay, if they are not
wanted. If the governor wants to buy the cargo for the garrison,
let him have it, at once. Don't stand out for exorbitant terms, but
take a fair price. It is just as well to be on good terms with the
authorities. We might have to put in to refit, and want spars,
etc., from the naval yard. If the governor doesn't want the cargo,
don't sell it to anyone else till we return. There is no fear of
prices going down. The longer we keep it, the more we shall get for
it."

"Hadn't I better bring the ship's papers on board with us, Captain
Lockett?"

"What for, Bob? I don't see that they would be any use to us, and
the bills of lading will be useful for selling the cargo."

"I can copy them, sir, for Mr. Crofts.

"What I thought was this: the brig is just our own size and, if we
should get becalmed anywhere near the shore, and a boat put off, we
might possibly be able to pass, with her papers."

"That is a capital idea, Bob; capital! I will have a bit of canvas
painted 'Alonzo, Cadiz,' in readiness to nail over our stern,
should there be any occasion for it.

"Well, goodbye Mr. Crofts, and a safe journey to you. I needn't
tell you to keep a sharp lookout."

"You may trust us for that, sir. We have no desire to rot in one of
their prisons, till the end of the war."

The captain's gig took him back to the Antelope. The weather sheets
of the fore-staysail were eased off, and the square sails swung
round. As they drew, the two brigs got under way, heading in
exactly opposite directions.

Before nightfall the captain pronounced that they were now abreast
of Alicante and, under easy sail, the vessel's head was turned
towards the land; and the next morning she was running along the
shore, at a distance of three miles. Beyond fishing boats, and
small craft hugging the land, nothing was met with, until they
neared Cartagena. Then the sound of firing was heard ahead and, on
rounding a headland, they saw a vessel of war chasing some five or
six craft, nearer inshore.

"That is a British frigate," the captain exclaimed; "but I don't
think she will get them. There is Cartagena only three or four
miles ahead, and the frigate will not be able to cut them off,
before they are under the guns of the batteries."

"They are not above a mile ahead of her," the first mate said. "If
we could knock away a spar, with our long eighteen, we might get
one of them."

"We shouldn't make much prize money, if we did, Joe; for the
frigate would share and, as she has five or six times as many men
and officers as we have got, it is not much we should get out of
it.

"Hallo!" he broke out, as a shot came ricochetting along the water,
"she is trying a shot at us. I forgot we had the Spanish colours
up.

"Get that flag down, and run up the Union Jack, Joe."

"One moment, captain," Bob said.

"Well, what is it, Bob?"

"Well, it seems to me, sir, that if we keep the Spanish flag up--"

"We may be sunk," the captain broke in.

"We might, sir, but it is very unlikely, especially if we run in
more to the shore; but you see, if we are fired at by the frigate,
it will never enter the minds of the Spaniards that we are anything
but what we seem and, if we like, we can anchor right under their
batteries, in the middle of their craft. It will be dark by the
time we get in, and we might take our pick of them."

"That is a splendid idea, Bob!

"This boy is getting too sharp for us, altogether, Joe. He is as
full of ideas as a ship's biscuit is of weevils.

"Keep her off, helmsman. That will do."

Again and again the frigate fired, but she was two miles away and,
though the shot went skipping over the water near the brig, none of
them struck her. The men, unable to understand why they were
running the gauntlet of the frigate's fire, looked inquiringly
towards the poop.

"It is all right, lads," the captain said. "There is not much fear
of the frigate hitting us, and it is worth risking it. The
Spaniards on shore will never dream that we are English, and we can
bring up in the thick of them."

There was a good deal of laughing and amusement, among the men, as
they understood the captain's motive in allowing the brig to be
made a target of. As she drew in towards shore the frigate's fire
ceased, and her course was changed off shore.

"No nearer," the captain said to the helmsman. "Keep her a little
farther off shore.

"There is not much water here, Joe," for a man had been heaving the
lead, ever since they had changed their course. "We have not got a
fathom under her keel. You see, the frigate did not like to come
any closer. She would have cut us off, if there had been deep water
right up."

An hour later the brig dropped anchor off Cartagena, at little more
than a quarter of a mile from one of the batteries that guarded the
entrance to the port, and close to two or three of the craft that
had been first chased by the frigate. These, as they were going on
in the morning, had not entered the harbour with their consorts;
for it was already getting dusk.

"Not much fear of their coming to ask any questions, this evening,"
Joe Lockett said. "The Spaniards are not given to troubling
themselves unnecessarily and, as we are outside the port, we are no
one's business in particular."

At this moment a hail came from the vessel anchored ahead of them.
Bob went to the bulwark. The brig had swung head to wind, and was
broadside on with the other craft.

"You have not suffered from the fire of that accursed ship, I
hope?" the captain of the barque shouted.

"No, senor; not a shot struck us."

"You were fortunate. We were hulled twice, and had a man killed by
a splinter.

"This is a rough welcome home to us. We have just returned from
Lima, and have heard nothing about the war till we anchored off
Alicante, yesterday. We heard some firing as we came through the
Straits; but thought it was only one of the ships, or forts,
practising at a mark. It was lucky we put in at Alicante; or we
should have had no suspicion, and should have let that frigate sail
up alongside of us, without trying to escape."

"You were fortunate, indeed," Bob shouted back "We had, ourselves,
a narrow escape of being captured by a ship of war, near Malaga.
The Alonzo is only from Cadiz, with grain and olive oil."

"Do you think there is any fear of that rascally Englishman trying
to cut us out with his boats, tonight?"

"Not the slightest," Bob replied, confidently. "They would never
venture on that. Those batteries on shore would blow them out of
the water, and they would know very well they would not have a
shadow of chance of taking us out for, even if they captured us,
the batteries would send us to the bottom, in no time. Oh, no! you
are perfectly safe from the frigate, here."

The Spanish captain raised his hat. Bob did the same, and both left
the side of their ships.

"Well, what does he say, Bob?" the captain asked.

"I think you are in luck this time, captain, and no mistake."

"How is that, Bob?"

"She is from Lima."

"You don't say so!" the captain and Joe exclaimed, simultaneously.
"Then she is something like a prize. She has got hides, no doubt;
but the chances are she has a lot of lead, too, and maybe some
silver.

"Ah! He is getting one of his boats in the water. I hope he is not
coming off here.

"If he does, Joe, Bob must meet him at the gangway, and take him
into the cabin. As he comes in, you and I will catch him by the
throat, gag, and bind him; and then Bob must go and tell the men to
return to their ship, that the captain is going to spend the
evening with us, and that we will take him back in our boat."

"That would be the best thing that could happen," Joe said, "for in
that way we could get alongside, without suspicion."

"So we could, Joe. I didn't think of that. Yes, I hope he is
coming, now."

They saw, however, the boat row to a large polacre lying next to
the Spaniard, on the other side. It remained there two or three
minutes, and then rowed away towards the mouth of the harbour.

"Going to spend the evening on shore," the captain observed. "I am
not surprised at that. It is likely enough they have been six
months on their voyage from Lima. It is unlucky, though; I wish he
had come here.

"Well, Bob, as you have got the best head among us, what scheme do
you suggest for our getting on board that craft?"

"I think we could carry out Joe's idea, though in a different way,"
Bob said. "I should say we had better get a boat out; and put, say,
twenty men on board. It is getting dark, but they might all lie
down in the bottom, except six oarsmen. Then we should pull in
towards the mouth of the harbour, just as they have done, and lay
up somewhere under the rocks for a couple of hours; then row off
again, and make for the barque. Of course, they would think it was
the captain returning.

"Then ten of the men should spring on board, and they ought to be
able to silence any men on deck before they could give the alarm.
Directly the ten men got out, the boat would row across to the
polacre; as there is no doubt her captain went ashore with the
other. They would take her in the same way."

"You ought to be made Lord High Admiral of the Fleet, Bob! That
will succeed, if anything will; only we must be sure to put off
again before the Spaniards do.

"Well, Joe, you had better take charge of this expedition. You see,
however quietly it is done, there is almost sure to be some
shouting; and they will take the alarm at the batteries and, when
they make out three of us suddenly getting up sail, they will be
pretty certain that something is wrong, and will open fire on us.
That, of course, we must risk; but the thing to be really afraid of
is their gunboats. They are sure to have a couple of them in the
port. They may be some little time in getting out, but they will
come out."

The wind has died away, now, but the land breeze is just springing
up; but we shall hardly get off before the gunboats can come to us.
They row a lot of oars, you know. You must clap on all sail, on the
prizes; and I shall hang behind a bit, and tackle the gunboats. You
will see what guns there are on board the prizes; and may, perhaps,
be able to lend me a hand; but that you will see. Of course you
will take Bob with you, to answer the hails from the two Spaniards.

"Be careful when you bring up ashore. Let the men row very gently,
after they once get away, so as not to attract any attention. Let
them take cutlasses, but no pistols. If a shot were fired the
batteries would be sure, at once, there was some mischief going on.
A little shouting won't matter so much; it might be merely a
quarrel. Of course, the instant you are on board you will cut the
cables, and get up sail.

"You will remain on board the barque, Joe. Bob will have command of
the party that attack the polacre. You had better take the jolly
boat, and pick out twenty active fellows. Tell them to leave their
shoes behind them; the less trampling and noise there is, the
better. Tell them not to use their cutlasses, unless driven to it.
There are not likely to be above four or five men on deck. They
ought to be able to knock them down, and bind them, almost before
they know what has happened."

In a few minutes the boat was lowered, and manned, and rowed away
for the shore. As soon as they got well past the ships, the men
were ordered to row as quietly and noiselessly as possible. Joe had
brought with him six strips of canvas; and handed these to the men,
and told them to wrap them round the oars, so as to muffle them in
the rowlocks.

This was done, and the boat glided along silently. Keeping in the
middle of the channel, they passed through the passage between the
shore and the rocky island that protects the harbour; and then,
sweeping round, stole up behind the latter and lay to, close to the
rocks.

"So far, so good," Joe said, in a low voice. "I don't think the
sharpest eyes could have seen us. Now the question is, how long to
wait here. The longer we wait, the more of the Spaniards will have
turned into their bunks but, upon the other hand, there is no
saying how long the captains will remain on shore.

"There is a heavy dew falling, and that will help to send the
sailors below. I should think an hour would be about the right
time. The Dons are not likely to be off again, before that. It is
some distance up the harbour to the landing place, and they would
hardly have taken the trouble to go ashore, unless they meant to
stay a couple of hours.

"What time is it now, Bob?"

Bob opened his watch case, and felt the hands.

"It is just a quarter past nine."

"Well, we will move at ten," Joe said.

The three-quarters of an hour passed very slowly, and Bob consulted
his watch several times, before the minute hand got to twelve.

"Ten o'clock," he said, at last.

The oars had not been got in, so the boat glided off again,
noiselessly, out through the entrance. There were lights burning at
the sterns of the two Spanish ships, as a guide to the boat coming
off and, when the boat had traversed half the distance, Joe ordered
the oars to be unmuffled, and they rowed straight for the barque.
There was no hail at their approach, but a man appeared at the top
of the ladder.

As the boat came alongside, ten of the men rose noiselessly from
the bottom of the boat, and followed the first mate up the ladder.
As he reached the top, Joe sprang on the Spanish sailor, and seized
him by the throat. The two sailors following thrust a gag into the
man's mouth, bound his arms, and laid him down.

This was effected without the slightest noise. The other sailors
had, by this time, clambered up from the boat and scattered over
the deck. A group of seven or eight Spaniards were seated on the
deck, forward; smoking by the light of a lantern, which hung above
the fo'castle. They did not notice the approach of the sailors,
with their naked feet; and the latter sprang upon them, threw them
down, bound, and gagged them, without a sound--save a few short
exclamations of surprise being uttered.

Illustration: They found the two Spanish mates playing at cards.

Three or four of the sailors now coiled a rope against the
fo'castle door, to prevent its being opened. In the meantime Joe,
with two men, entered the cabin aft, where they found the two
Spanish mates playing at cards. The sudden apparition of three men,
with drawn cutlasses, took them so completely by surprise that they
were captured without any attempt at resistance; and were, like the
rest, bound and gagged.

"You take the helm, Halkett," Joe said, and then hurried forward.

"Have you got them all?" he asked, as he reached the fo'castle.

"Every man Jack," one of the sailors said.

"Is there nobody on watch in the bows?"

"No, sir, not a man."

"Very well. Now then, to work.

"Cut the cable, Thompson.

"The rest of you, let fall the sails."

As these had only been loosely furled, when the vessel came to
anchor, this was done in a very short time; and the vessel began to
move through the water before the light breeze, which was dead aft.

The capture of the polacre had not been effected so silently. Bob
had allowed the boatswain, who accompanied him, to mount the ladder
first; but the man at the top of the gangway had a lantern and, as
its light fell upon the sailor's face, he uttered an exclamation of
surprise; which called the attention of those on deck and, as the
sailors swarmed up the ladder, shouts of alarm were raised. But the
Spaniards could not withstand the rush of the English, who beat
them to the deck before they had time to seize their arms.

The noise, however, alarmed the watch below; who were just pouring
up from the hatchway when they were attacked by the sailors with
drawn cutlasses, and were speedily beaten below, and the hatches
secured over them. Bob had posted himself, with two of the men, at
the cabin door; and as the officers rushed out, on hearing the
noise, they were knocked down and secured. As soon as this was
effected, Bob looked round over the side.

"Hurrah!" he said, "the barque is under way already. Get the sails
on her, lads, and cut the cable."

While this was being done Bob mounted the poop, placed one of the
sailors at the helm, and then turned his eyes towards the battery,
astern. He heard shouts, and had no doubt that the sound of the
scuffle had been heard. Then lights appeared in several of the
casements and, just as the sails were sheeted home, and the polacre
began to move through the water, a rocket whizzed up from the
battery, and burst overhead. By its light Bob saw the Antelope and
the Spanish barque, two or three hundred yards ahead; with their
crews getting up all sail, rapidly.

A minute later, twelve heavy guns flashed out astern, one after
another. They were pointed too high, and the shot flew overhead,
one or two passing through the sails. The boatswain's voice was
heard, shouting:

"Never mind the shot, lads! Look alive! Now then, up with those
topgallant sails! The quicker you get them up, the quicker we shall
be out of range!"

Another battery, higher up, now opened fire; but the shot did not
come near them. Then rocket after rocket was sent up, and the
battery astern again fired. One of the shot cut away the
main-topsail yard; another struck the deck abreast of the foremast,
and then tore through the bulwarks; but the polacre was now making
good way. They felt the wind more, as they got farther from the
shore; and had decreased their distance from the craft ahead.

The boatswain now joined Bob upon the poop.

"We have got everything set that will draw, now," he said. "She is
walking along well. Another ten minutes and we shall be safe, if
they don't knock away a spar.

"She is a fast craft, Mr. Repton. She is overhauling the other two,
hand over hand."

"We had better bear away a bit, boatswain. The captain said we were
to scatter as much as we could, so as to divide their fire."

"All right, sir!" and the boatswain gave the orders to the
helmsman, and slightly altered the trim of the sails.

"I suppose we can do nothing with that broken yard, boatswain?"

"No, sir; and it don't matter much, going pretty nearly before the
wind, as we are. The sails on the foremast draw all the better, so
it don't make much difference.

"Look out, below!" he shouted, as there was a crash above; and the
mizzenmast was cut in sunder, by a shot that struck it just above
the topsail blocks; and the upper part came toppling down, striking
the bulwark and falling overboard.

"Lay aft, lads, and out knives!" the boatswain shouted. "Cut away
the wreck!

"It is lucky it wasn't two feet lower," he said to Bob, "or it
would have brought the topsail down; and that would have been a
serious loss, now the main-topsail is of no use."

He sprang to assist the men, when a round shot struck him, and
almost carried off his head. Bob caught at the knife that fell from
his hand, and set to work with the men.

"That is it, lads, cut away!" he shouted. "We sha'n't have many
more of them on board. We are a good mile away, now."

Just as the work of getting rid of the wreck was accomplished, one
of the men said, as a rocket burst overhead:

"There are two of their gunboats coming out of the harbour, sir."

"We had better close with the others, then," Bob said. "The brig
will engage them, when they come up. We shall be well beyond reach
of the batteries, before they do.

"Now, lads, see what guns she carries. Break open the magazine, and
get powder and ball up. We must lend the captain a hand, if we
can."

The polacre mounted eight guns, all 14 pounders; and in a few
minutes these were loaded. The batteries continued to fire; but
their shooting was no longer accurate and, in another ten minutes,
ceased altogether. The craft had now closed to within hailing
distance of the brig.

"Hallo, the polacre!" Captain Lockett shouted. "What damages?"

"The boatswain is killed, sir," Bob shouted back, "and we have lost
two spars but, in spite of that, I think we are sailing as fast as
you."

"What guns have you got?"

"Eight fourteen-pounders, sir. We are loaded and ready."

"Keep a little ahead of me," the captain shouted. "I am going to
shorten sail a bit. We have got to fight those gunboats."

As he spoke, a heavy gun boomed out from the bow of one of the
gunboats, and the shot went skipping between the two vessels.
Directly after, the other gunboat fired, and the shot struck the
quarter of the brig. Then there was a creaking of blocks as the
sheets were hauled upon and, as the yards swung round, she came up
into the wind, and a broadside was fired at the two gunboats. Then
the helm was put down, and she payed off before the wind again.

The gunboats ceased rowing, for a minute. The discharge had
staggered them, for they had not given the brig credit for carrying
such heavy metal.

Then they began to row again. The swivel gun of the brig kept up a
steady fire on them. Two of the guns of the polacre had been, by
this time, shifted to the stern; and these opened fire, while the
first mate's crew on board the barque were also at work. A
fortunate shot smashed many of the oars of one of the gunboats and,
while she stopped rowing in disorder, the brig was again rounded to
and opened a steady fire, with her broadside guns, upon them.

As the gunboats were now little more than a quarter of a mile away,
the effect of the brig's fire, aided by that of the two prizes, was
very severe and, in a short time, the Spaniards put round and rowed
towards the shore; while a hearty cheer broke from the brig, and
her prizes.

There had been no more casualties on board the polacre, the fire of
the gunboats having been directed entirely upon the brig; as the
Spaniards knew that, if they could but destroy or capture her, they
would be able to recover the prizes. The polacre was soon brought
close alongside of the brig.

"Have you suffered much, Captain Lockett?"

"I am sorry to say we have had six men killed, and five wounded. We
have got a dozen shot in our stern. They were evidently trying to
damage the rudder but, beyond knocking the cabin fittings to
pieces, there is no more harm done than the carpenter can repair,
in a few hours' work.

"You have not been hit again, have you?"

"No, sir; none of their shots came near."

"Well, examine the papers, and have a talk with the officers you
made prisoners, and then come on board to report. I shall want you
to go on board the barque with me, and see what she is laden with."

Bob went below. The two Spanish mates were unbound.

"I am sorry, senors," Bob said, "that we were obliged to treat you
rather roughly; but you see, we were in a hurry, and there was no
time for explanations. I shall be obliged if you will show me which
is the captain's cabin, and hand me over the ship's papers and
manifesto. What is her name?"

"The Braganza."

"Where are you from? And what do you carry?"

"We are from Cadiz, and are laden principally with wine. We were
bound for Barcelona.

"You took us in nicely, senor. Who could have dreamt that you were
English, when that frigate chased you under the guns of the
battery?"

"She thought we were Spanish, as you did," Bob said.

By this time the other Spaniard had brought the papers out of the
captain's cabin. Bob ran his eye down over the bill of lading, and
was well satisfied with the result. She contained a very large
consignment of wine.

"I am going on board the brig," he said, as he put the papers
together. "I must ask you to give me your parole not to leave the
cabin, until I return. I do not know whether my captain wishes you
to remain here, or will transfer you to his own craft."

"Well, Master Bob, what is your prize?" the captain asked.

"It is a valuable one, sir. The polacre herself is, as I see by her
papers, only two years old, and seems a fine craft. She is laden
with wine, from Cadiz, to Barcelona."

"Capital, Bob; we are in luck, indeed! How many prisoners have you
got?"

"The crew is put down at eighteen, sir; and there are the two
mates."

"You had better send them on board here, presently. Where are they
now?"

"They are in the cabin, captain. They gave me their promise not to
leave it, till I return; but I put a man on sentry, outside, so as
to make sure of them."

"Well, perhaps you had better go back again now; and we will shape
our course for Gibraltar, at once. All this firing would have
attracted the attention of any Spanish war vessel there might be
about. We must leave the barque's manifesto till the morning.

"As you have lost the boatswain, I will send one of my best hands
back with you, to act as your first mate. He must get that topsail
yard of yours repaired, at once. It does not matter about the
mizzenmast, but the yard is of importance. We may meet with Spanish
cruisers, outside the Rock, and may have to show our heels."

"Yes, I shall be glad of a good man, captain. You see, I know
nothing about it, and don't like giving any orders. It was all very
well getting on board, and knocking down the crew; but when it
comes to sailing her, it is perfectly ridiculous my giving orders,
when the men know that I don't know anything about it."

"The men know you have plenty of pluck, Bob; and they know that it
was entirely due to your swimming off to that Spanish ship that we
escaped being captured, before; and they will obey you willingly,
as far as you can give them orders. Still, of course, you do want
somebody with you, to give orders as to the setting and taking in
of the sails."

As soon as the last gun had been fired, the three vessels had been
laid head to wind but, when Bob's boat reached the side of the
polacre, they were again put on their course and headed southwest,
keeping within a short distance of each other.

Bob's new first mate, an old sailor named Brown, at once set the
crew to work to get up a fresh spar, in place of the broken yard.
The men all worked with a will. They were in high spirits at the
captures they had made; and the news which Brown gave them, that
the polacre was laden with wine, assured to each of them a
substantial sum in prize money.

Before morning the yard was in its place and the sail set and,
except for the shortened mizzen, and a ragged hole through the
bulwark, forward, the polacre showed no signs of the engagement of
the evening before. Two or three men were slung over the stern of
the brig; plugs had been driven through the shot holes and, over
these, patches of canvas were nailed, and painted black.

Nothing, however, could be done with the sails, which were
completely riddled with holes. The crew were set to work to shift
some of the worst; cutting them away from the yards, and getting up
spare sails from below. Bob had put a man on the lookout, to give
him notice if any signal was made to him from the brig; which was a
quarter of a mile ahead of him, the polacre's topgallant sails
having been lowered after the main-topsail had been hoisted, as it
was found that, with all sail set, she sailed considerably faster
than the brig.

Presently the man came aft, and reported that the captain was
waving his hat from the taffrail.

"We had better get up the main-topgallant sail, Brown, and run up
to her," Bob said.

The sail was soon hoisted and, in a quarter of an hour, they were
alongside the brig.

"That craft sails like a witch," Captain Lockett said, as they came
abreast of him.

"Yes, sir, she seems very fast."

"It is a pity she is rigged as she is," the captain said. "It is an
outlandish fashion. If she were barque rigged, I should be tempted
to shift on board her.

"We will leave the barque alone, at present, Mr. Repton. Our
curiosity must keep a bit. I don't want to lose any of this breeze.
We will keep right on, as long as it lasts. If it drops, we will
overhaul her."

The barque was the slowest craft of the three, and Joe Lockett had
every stitch of canvas set, to enable him to keep up with the
others. At noon, a large craft was seen, coming off from the land.
Bob examined her with the telescope, and then handed the glass to
Brown.

"She is a frigate," the sailor said. "It's the same that blazed
away at us, yesterday. It's the Brilliant, I think."

"You are sure she is the same that chased us, yesterday?"

"Quite sure."

Captain Lockett was evidently of the same opinion, as no change was
made in the course he was steering.

"We may as well speak the captain again," Bob said, and the polacre
closed again with the brig.

"Brown says that is the same frigate that fired at us, yesterday,
Captain Lockett," Bob said, when they were within hailing distance.

"Yes, there is no doubt about that. I don't want to lose time, or I
would stand out and try our speed with her."

"Why, sir?"

"Because I am afraid she will want to take some of our hands. Those
frigates are always short of hands. Still, she may not, as we have
got twelve men already away in a prize, and ten in each of these
craft."

"I don't think you need be uneasy, sir. I know the captain of the
Brilliant, and all the officers. If you like, I will keep the
polacre on that side, so that they will come up to us first; and
will go on board, and speak to the captain. I don't think, then, he
would interfere with us."

"Very well, Mr. Repton; we will arrange it so."

The polacre had now taken its place to leeward of the other two
vessels, and they held on in that order until the frigate was
within half a mile; when she fired a gun across their bows, as
signal for them to heave to. The brig was now flying the British
colours; her prizes the British colours, with the Spanish
underneath them. At the order to heave to, they were all thrown up
into the wind.

The frigate reduced her sail as she came up and, as she neared the
polacre, the order was shouted:

"Send a boat alongside!"

The boat was already prepared for lowering. Four seamen got into
her, and rowed Bob alongside the frigate. The first person he
encountered, as he stepped on to the deck, was Jim Sankey; who
stared at him in astonishment.

"Hullo, Bob! What in the world are you doing here?"

"I am in command of that polacre, Mr. Sankey," Bob replied.

"Eh--what?" Jim stammered, in astonishment; when the captain's
voice from the quarterdeck came sharply down:

"Now, Mr. Sankey, what are you waiting for? Bring that gentleman
here."

Jim led the way up to the poop.

Bob saluted.

"Good morning, Captain Langton."

"Why, it's Repton!" the captain exclaimed, in surprise. "Why, where
do you spring from, and what craft are these?"

"I am in command, at present, sir, of the polacre; which, with the
barque, is a prize of the brig the Antelope, privateer."

"But what are you doing on board, Repton? And how is it that you
are in command?"

"Well, sir, I was out on a cruise in the Antelope. The second mate
was sent, with a prize crew, back to Gibraltar, in a craft we
picked up off Malaga. We cut out the other two prizes from under
the guns of Cartagena. The first mate was in command of the party
that captured the barque and, as there was no one else to send, the
captain put me in command of the party that captured the polacre."

"But how on earth did you manage it?" the captain asked. "I see the
brig has been cut up a good deal, about the sails and rigging. You
don't mean to say that she sailed right into Cartagena? Why, they
would have blown her out of the water!"

"We didn't go in, sir. We anchored outside the port. We were not
suspected, because one of His Majesty's frigates fired at us, as we
were going in; and the consequence was the Dons never suspected
that we were anything but a Spanish trader."

"Why, you don't mean to say," the captain exclaimed, "that this was
the brig, flying Spanish colours, which we chased in under the guns
of Cartagena, yesterday?"

"It is, sir," Bob said, smiling. "You did us a very good turn,
although your intentions were not friendly. We were under Spanish
colours, when you made us out; and it struck us that running the
gauntlet of your fire, for a little while, would be an excellent
introduction for us to the Spaniards.

"So it proved. We brought up close to those other two vessels, and
I had a talk with the captain of one of them. The two captains both
went ashore, after dark; so we put twenty men into a boat, and
rowed in to the mouth of the port; waited there for a bit, and then
rowed straight out to the ships. They thought, of course, it was
their own officers returning; so we took them by surprise, and
captured them pretty easily.

"Unfortunately there was some noise made, and they took the alarm
on shore. However, we were under way before the batteries opened.
It was rather unpleasant, for a bit, but we got safely out. Two
gunboats came out after us; but the brig beat them off, and we
helped as well as we could. The brig had five men killed, we had
one, and there are several wounded."

"Well, it was a very dashing affair," the captain said; "very
creditable, indeed. I hope you will get a share of the prize
money."

"I only count as a hand," Bob said, laughing; "and I am sure that
is as much as I deserve.

"But here comes the captain, sir. He will tell you more about it."

Captain Lockett now came on board; and Bob, seeing that he was not
farther required, went off with Jim down to the cockpit. The
captain had a long talk with Captain Lockett. When the latter had
related, in full, the circumstances of his capture of his two
prizes, he said:

"There is a Spanish ship of war, sir, somewhere off Alicante, at
present. She is got up as a merchantman, and took us in thoroughly;
and we should probably have been caught, if it had not been for Mr.
Repton," and he then related how Bob had swum on board, and
discovered the supposed merchantman to be a ship of war.

"Thank you, Captain Lockett. I will go in and have a look after
her. It is fortunate that you told me for, if I had seen her lying
at anchor, under the land, I might have sent some boats in to cut
her out; and might, as you nearly did, have caught a tartar.

"He is an uncommonly sharp young fellow, that Repton. I offered him
a midshipman's berth here, when I first came out, but he refused
it. By what you say, he must be a good officer lost to the
service."

"He would have made a good officer, sir; he has his wits about him
so thoroughly. It was his doing, our keeping the Spanish flag
flying when you came upon us. I had ordered the colours to be run
down, when he suggested our keeping them up, and running boldly in
to Cartagena."

"I suppose you can't spare us a few hands, Captain Lockett?"

"Well, sir, I shall be very short, as it is. You see, I have a
score away in a prize, I have had six killed, and some of the
wounded won't be fit for work, for some time; and I mean to take
these two prizes back with me, to England. They are both valuable,
and I should not get anything like a fair price for them, at
Gibraltar. I don't want to run the risk of their being picked up by
privateers, on the way back, so I shall convoy them; and I
certainly sha'n't have a man too many to fight my guns, when I have
put crews on board them."

"No, I suppose not," the captain said. "Well, I must do without
them, then.

"Now, as I suppose you want to be on your way, I will not detain
you any longer."

Bob was sent for.

"Captain Lockett has been telling me that you were the means of
preventing his getting into a nasty scrape, with that Spanish
man-of-war, Mr. Repton. I consider there is great credit due to
you. It is a pity you didn't come on to my quarterdeck."

"I should not have got the chances then, sir," Bob said.

"Well, no, I don't know that you would, lad; there is something in
that.

"Well, goodbye. I shall write and tell the admiral all about it. I
know he will be glad to hear of your doings."

A few minutes later, the privateer and her prizes were on their way
towards Gibraltar; while the frigate was standing inshore again, to
search for the Spanish ship of war.



Chapter 12: A Rich Prize.


In the evening the wind died away, and the three vessels were
becalmed. Captain Lockett rowed to the polacre, and examined his
prize; and then, taking Bob in his boat, rowed to the barque.

"Well, Joe, have you made out what you have got on board?" the
captain said, when he reached the deck.

"No, sir. Neither of the officers can speak a word of English. I
have opened the hatches, and she is chock-full of hides; but what
there is, underneath, I don't know."

"Come along, Bob, we will overhaul the papers," the captain said
and, going to the cabin, they examined the bill of lading.

"Here it is, sir," Bob said, triumphantly. "Two hundred tons of
lead."

"Splendid!" the captain exclaimed. "That is a prize worth having.
Of course, that is stowed away at the bottom; and then she is
filled up with hides, and they are worth a lot of money--but the
lead, alone, is worth six thousand pounds, at twenty pounds per
ton.

"Is there anything else, Bob?"

"Yes, sir. There are fifty boxes. It doesn't say what is in them."

"You don't say so, Bob! Perhaps it is silver. Let us ask the
officers."

The Spanish first mate was called down.

"Where are these boxes?" Bob asked, "and what do they contain?"

"They are full of silver," the man said, sullenly. "They are stowed
in the lazaretto, under this cabin."

"We will have one of them up, and look into it," the captain said.

"Joe, call a couple of hands down."

The trapdoor of the lazaretto was lifted. Joe and the two sailors
descended the ladder and, with some difficulty, one of the boxes
was hoisted up.

"That weighs over two hundredweight, I'm sure," Joe said.

Illustration: They find Boxes of Silver in the Lazaretto.

The box was broken open, and it was found to be filled with small
bars of silver.

"Are they all the same size, Joe?" the captain asked.

"Yes, as far as I can see."

The captain took out his pocketbook, and made a rapid calculation.

"Then they are worth between thirty-two and thirty-three thousand
pounds, Joe.

"Why, lad, she is worth forty thousand pounds, without the hides or
the hull. That is something like a capture," and the two men shook
hands, warmly.

"The best thing to do, Joe, will be to divide these boxes between
the three ships; then, even if one of them gets picked up by the
Spaniards or French, we shall still be in clover."

"I think that would be a good plan," Joe agreed.

"We will do it at once. There is nothing like making matters safe.
Just get into the boat alongside, and row to the brig; and tell
them to lower the jolly boat and send it alongside. We will get
some of the boxes up, by the time you are back."

In an hour the silver was divided between the three ships; and the
delight of the sailors was great, when they heard how valuable had
been the capture.

"How do you divide?" Bob asked Captain Lockett, as they were
watching the boxes lowered into the boat.

"The ship takes half," he said. "Of the other half I take twelve
shares, Joe eight, the second mate six, the boatswain three, and
the fifty hands one share each. So you may say there are eighty
shares and, if the half of the prize is worth twenty thousand
pounds, each man's share will be two hundred and fifty.

"It will be worth having, Bob; though it is a great shame you
should not rate as an officer."

"I don't want the money," Bob laughed. "I should have no use for
it, if I had it. My uncle has taken me in hand, and I am provided
for."

"Yes, I understand that," the captain said. "If it were not so, I
should have proposed to the crew that they should agree to your
sharing the same as the second officer. I am sure they would have
agreed, willingly; seeing that it is due to you that we were not
captured, ourselves, in the first place; and entirely to your
suggestion, that we should keep the Spanish flag flying and run
into Cartagena, that we owe the capture of the prizes."

"Oh, I would much rather not, captain. I only came for a cruise,
and it has been a splendid one; and it seems to be quite absurd
that I should be getting anything at all. Still, it will be jolly,
because I shall be able to make Carrie and Gerald nice presents,
with my own money; and to send some home to Mr. Medlin and his
family, and something to uncle, too, if I can think of anything he
would like."

"Yes, it is all very well, Bob, for you; but I feel that it is not
fair. However, as you really don't want the money, and are well
satisfied, we will say nothing more about it, now."

The ships lay becalmed all night, but a brisk breeze from the east
sprang up in the morning and, at noon, the Rock was visible in the
distance. They held on for four hours; and then lay to, till after
midnight. After that sail was again made and, soon after daybreak,
they passed Europa Point, without having been seen by any of the
Spanish cruisers. They were greeted by a hearty cheer from the
vessels anchored near the new Mole, as they brought up amongst them
with the British flags flying, above the Spanish, on board the
prizes.

As soon as the morning gun was fired, and the gates opened, Bob
landed and hurried up to his sister's. She and her husband were
just partaking of their early coffee.

"Hallo, Bob!" Captain O'Halloran exclaimed. "What, back again? Why,
I didn't expect you for another fortnight. You must have managed
very badly, to have brought your cruise to an end, so soon."

"Well, I am very glad you are back, Bob," his sister said. "I have
been fidgetting about you, ever since you were away."

"I am as glad to see you as your sister can be," Gerald put in. "If
she has fidgetted, when you had only gone a week; you can imagine
what I should have to bear, before the end of a month. I should
have had to move into barracks. Life would have been insupportable,
here."

"I am sure I have said very little about it, Gerald," his wife
said, indignantly.

"No, Carrie, you have not said much, but your aspect has been
generally tragic. You have taken but slight interest in your fowls,
and there has been a marked deterioration in the meals. My remarks
have been frequently unanswered; and you have got into a Sister
Anne sort of way of going upon the roof, and staring out to sea.

"Your sister is a most estimable woman, Bob--I am the last person
who would deny it--but I must admit that she has been a little
trying, during the last week."

Carrie laughed.

"Well, it is only paying you back a little, in your own coin,
Gerald.

"But what has brought you back so soon, Bob? We heard of you, three
days ago; for Gerald went on board a brig that was brought in, as
he heard that it was a prize of the Antelope's; and the officer
told him about your cruise, up to when he had left you."

"Well, there wasn't much to tell, up till then," Bob said, "except
that I was well, and my appetite was good. But there has been a
good lot, since. We have come in with two more good prizes, this
morning, and the brig is going to convoy them back to England."

"Oh, that is all right," Carrie said in a tone of pleasure.

So far, she had been afraid that Bob's return was only a temporary
one; and that he might be setting out again, in a day or two.

"Well, let us hear all about it, Bob," her husband said. "I could
see Carrie was on thorns, lest you were going off again. Now that
she is satisfied, she may be able to listen to you, comfortably."

"Well, we really had some adventures, Gerald. We had a narrow
escape from being captured by a Spanish ship of war, ever so much
stronger than we were. She was got up as a merchantman, and
regularly took us in. We anchored close to her, intending to board
her in the dark. I thought I would swim off and reconnoitre a bit,
before we attacked her; and, of course, I saw at once what she was,
and we cut our cable, and were towed out in the dark. She fired
away at us, but didn't do us any damage.

"The next day, late in the afternoon, we came upon the Brilliant
chasing some Spanish craft into Cartagena and, as we had Spanish
colours up, she took us for one of them, and blazed away at us."

"But why didn't you pull down the Spanish colours, at once, Bob? I
never heard of anything so silly," Carrie said, indignantly.

"Well, you see, Carrie, they were some distance off, and weren't
likely to damage us much; and we ran straight in, and anchored with
the rest under the guns of the battery, outside Cartagena. Seeing
us fired at, of course, they never suspected we were English. Then,
at night, we captured the two vessels lying next to us, and put out
to sea. The batteries blazed away at us, and it was not very
pleasant till we got outside their range. They did not do us very
much damage. Two gunboats came out after us, but the brig beat them
back, and we helped."

"Who were we?" Captain O'Halloran asked.

"We were the prizes, of course. I was in command of one."

"Hooray, Bob!" Gerald exclaimed, with a great laugh, while Carrie
uttered an exclamation of horror.

"Well, you see, the second mate had been sent off in the first
prize, and there was only Joe Lockett and me; so he took the
biggest of the two ships we cut out, and the captain put me in
command of the men that took the other. I had the boatswain with me
and, of course, he was the man who really commanded, in getting up
the sails and all that sort of thing. He was killed by a shot from
the battery, and was the only man hit on our vessel; but there were
five killed, on board the brig, in the fight with the gunboats.

"We fell in with the Brilliant, on the way back, and I went on
board; and you should have seen how Jim Sankey opened his eyes,
when I said that I was in command of the prize. They are awfully
good prizes, too, I can tell you. The one I got is laden with wine;
and the big one was a barque from Lima, with hides, and two hundred
tons of lead, and fifty boxes of silver--about thirty-three
thousand pounds' worth.

"Just think of that! The captain said she was worth, altogether, at
least forty thousand pounds. That is something like a prize, isn't
it?"

"Yes, that is.

"What do you think, Carrie? I propose that I sell my commission,
raise as much as I can on the old place in Ireland, and fit out a
privateer. Bob will, of course, be captain; you shall be first
mate; and I will be content with second mate's berth; and we will
sail the salt ocean, and pick up our forty-thousand-pound prizes."

"Oh, what nonsense you do talk, to be sure, Gerald! Just when Bob's
news is so interesting, too."

"I have told all my news, Carrie. Now I want to hear yours. The
Spaniards haven't began to batter down the Rock, yet?"

"We have been very quiet, Bob. On the 11th a great convoy, of about
sixty sail--protected by five xebecs, of from twenty to thirty guns
each--came along. They must have come out from Malaga, the very
night you passed there. They were taking supplies, for the use of
the Spanish fleet; and the privateers captured three or four small
craft; and the Panther, the Enterprise, and the Childers were kept
at their anchor, all day. Why, no one but the admiral could say. We
were all very much disappointed, for everyone expected to see
pretty nearly all the Spanish vessels brought in."

"Yes," Captain O'Halloran said, "it has caused a deal of talk, I
can tell you. The navy were furious. There they were, sixty
vessels, all laden with the very things we wanted; pretty well
becalmed, not more than a mile off Europa Point, with our batteries
banging away at them; and nothing in the world to hinder the
Panther, and the frigates, from fetching them all in. Half the town
were out on the hill, and every soul who could get off duty at the
Point; and there was the admiral, wasting the whole mortal day in
trying to make up his mind. If you had heard the bad language that
was used in relation to that old gentleman, it would have made your
hair stand on end.

"Of course, just as it got dark the ships of war started; and
equally, of course, the convoy all got away in the dark, except six
bits of prizes, which were brought in in the morning. We have
heard, since, that it was on purpose to protect this valuable fleet
that the Spanish squadron arrived, before you went away; but as it
didn't turn up, the squadron went off again, and we had nothing to
do but just to pick it up."

After breakfast, Captain O'Halloran went off with Bob to the
Antelope. He found all hands busy, bending on sails in place of
those that had been damaged, taking those of the brig first
captured for the purpose.

"They fit very well," Joe Lockett said, "and we have not time to
lose. We sail again, this afternoon. The captain says there is
nothing to prevent our going out, now; and as the Spanish squadron
may be back any day, we might have to run the gauntlet to get out,
if we lost the present chance. So he is not going to waste an hour.

"Crofts has already sold the grain, and discharged it. The hull is
worth but little; and the captain has sold her, as she stands, to a
trader for two hundred pounds. I expect he has bought her to break
up for firewood, if the siege goes on. If it doesn't, he will sell
her again, afterwards, at a good profit. Of course, it is a
ridiculous price; but the captain wanted to get her off his hands,
and would have taken a ten pound note, rather than be bothered with
her.

"So by tonight we shall be across at Ceuta and, if the wind holds
east but another day, we shall be through the Straits on our way
home.

"They are going to shift two of our 18 pounders on board the
barque, and I am going to command her, and to have fifteen men on
board. Crofts commands the poleacre, with ten men. The rest, of
course, go in the brig. We shall keep together, and steer well out
west into the Atlantic, so as to give as wide a berth as possible
to Spaniards and Frenchmen. If we meet with a privateer, we ought
to be able to give a good account of him; if we run across a
frigate, we shall scatter; and it will be hard luck if we don't
manage to get two out of the three craft into port.

"We have been shifting some more of the silver again, this morning,
from the barque into the other two vessels; otherwise, as she has
the lead on board, she would be the most valuable prize. As it is
now, the three are of about equal value."

"Well, we wish you a pleasant voyage," Captain O'Halloran said. "I
suppose we shall see you back here again, before long."

"Yes, I should think so; but I don't know what the captain means to
do. We have had no time to talk, this morning. I daresay you will
meet him, on shore; he has gone to the post office, to get his
papers signed. We have been quite pestered, this morning, by men
coming on board to buy wine out of the polacre; but the captain
wouldn't have the hatches taken off. The Spaniards may turn up, at
any moment; and it is of the greatest importance our getting off,
while the coast is clear. It is most unfortunate, now, that we did
not run straight in, yesterday; instead of laying to, to wait for
night."

They did not meet the captain in the town and, from the roof, Bob
saw the three vessels get up sail, early in the afternoon, and make
across for the African coast.

The doctor came in, in the evening.

"Well, Bob, so I hear you have been fighting, and commanding ships,
and doing all sorts of things. I saw Captain Lockett in the town
and, faith, if you had been a dozen admirals, rolled into one, he
couldn't have spoken more highly of you.

"It seems, Mrs. O'Halloran, that Bob has been the special angel who
has looked after poor Jack, on board the Antelope."

"What ridiculous nonsense, doctor!" Bob exclaimed, hotly.

"Not at all, Bob; it is too modest you are, entirely. It is
yourself is the boy who has done the business, this time; and it is
a silver tay service, or some such trifle as that, that the owners
will be sending you, and small blame to them. Captain Lockett tells
me he owns a third of the ship; and he reckons the ship's share of
what they have taken, this little cruise, won't be less than
five-and-twenty thousand.

"Think of that, Mrs. O'Halloran, five-and-twenty thousand pounds!
And here is Edward Burke, M.D., working his sowl out, for a
miserable eight or ten shillings a day."

"But what has Bob done?"

"I hadn't time to learn it all, Mrs. O'Halloran, for the captain
was in a hurry. It seems to me that the question ought to be, what
is it that he hasn't done?

"It all came in a heap, together, and I am not sure of the exact
particulars; but it seems to me that he swam out and cut the cable
of a Spanish sloop of war, and took the end in his mouth and towed
her out to sea, while the guns were blazing in all directions at
him. Never was such an affair!

"Then he humbugged the captain of an English frigate, and the
commander of the Spanish forts, and stole a vessel chock full of
silver; and did I don't know what, besides."

Bob went off into a shout of laughter, in which the others joined.

"But what is the meaning of all this nonsense, Teddy?" Carrie
asked, as soon as she recovered her composure. "Is there anything
in it, or is it all pure invention?"

"Is there anything in it? Haven't I been telling you that there is
twenty-five thousand pounds in it, to the owners, and as much more
to the crew; and didn't the captain vow and declare that, if it
hadn't been for Bob, instead of going home to divide all this
treasure up between them, every man Jack of them would be, at this
moment, chained by the leg in a dirty Spanish prison, at Malaga!"

"Well, what does it all mean, Bob? There is no getting any sense
out of Dr. Burke."

"It is exactly what I told you, Carrie. We anchored close to a
craft that we thought was a merchantman, and that we meant to
attack in our boats. I swam on board her in the dark--to see if
they were keeping a good watch, and that sort of thing--and when I
got on board, I found she was a ship of war, with a lot of heavy
guns, and prepared to take us by surprise when we attacked her; so
of course, when I swam back again with the news, Captain Lockett
cut his cable and towed the brig out in the dark.

"As to the other affair that the doctor is talking about, I told
you that, too; and it is exactly as I said it was. The only thing I
had to do with it was that it happened to be my idea to keep the
Spanish colours flying, and let the frigate keep on firing at us.
The idea turned out well; but of course, if I had not thought of it
somebody else would, so there was nothing in it, at all."

"Well, Bob, you may say what you like," Doctor Burke said, "but it
is quite evident that the captain thought there was a good deal in
it.

"And I think really, Gerald, that you and Mrs. O'Halloran have good
reason to feel quite proud of him. I am not joking at all, when I
say that Captain Lockett really spoke as if he considered that the
good fortune they had had is very largely due to him. He said he
hoped he should have Bob on board for another cruise."

"I certainly shall not go any more with him," Bob said,
indignantly, "if he talks such nonsense about me, afterwards. As if
there was anything in swimming two or three hundred yards, on a
dark night; or in suggesting the keeping a flag up, instead of
pulling it down."

When the Brilliant, however, came in two days later, Captain
Langton called upon Mrs. O'Halloran; and told her that he did so in
order to acquaint her with the extremely favourable report Captain
Lockett had made, to him, of Bob's conduct; and that, from what he
had said, it was evident that the lad had shown great courage in
undertaking the swim to the Spanish vessel, and much promptness and
ready wit in suggesting the device that had deceived him, as well
as the Spaniards.

Captain Langton told the story, that evening, at General Eliott's
dinner table; and said that although it was certainly a good joke,
against himself, that he should have thus assisted a privateer to
carry off two valuable prizes that had slipped through the
frigate's hands, the story was too good not to be told. Thus, Bob's
exploit became generally known among the officers of the garrison;
and Captain O'Halloran was warmly congratulated upon the sharpness,
and pluck, of his young brother-in-law.

Captain Lockett's decision, to be off without any delay, was fully
justified by the appearance of a Spanish squadron in the bay, three
days after his departure. It consisted of two seventy-fours, two
frigates, five xebecs, and a number of galleys and small armed
vessels. The men-of-war anchored off Algeciras; while the rest of
the squadron kept a vigilant patrol at the mouth of the bay, and
formed a complete blockade.

Towards the end of the month, the troops were delighted by the
issue of an order that the use of powder for the hair was,
henceforth, to be abandoned.

Vessels were now continually arriving from Algeciras, with troops
and stores; and on the 26th the Spaniards began to form a camp, on
the plain below San Roque, three miles from the garrison. This
increased in size, daily, as fresh regiments arrived by land.

Orders were now issued that all horses in the garrison, except
those whose owners had a store of at least one thousand pounds of
grain, were either to be shot or turned out through the gates.

There was much excitement when two Dutch vessels, laden with rice
and dried fruit, made their way in at night through the enemy's
cruisers. Their cargoes were purchased for the troops; and these
vessels, and a Venetian that had also got through, carried off with
them a large number of Jewish, Genoese, and other traders, with
their families, to ports in Barbary or Portugal. Indeed, from this
time every vessel that went out carried away some of the
inhabitants.

The position of these poor people was indeed serious. The standing
order on the Rock was that every inhabitant, even in time of peace,
should have in store six months' provisions; but the order had
never been enforced, and few of them had any supplies of
consequence. As they could not expect to be supplied from the
garrison stores, the greater number had no resource but to leave
the place. Some, however, who were better provided, obtained leave
to erect wooden huts at the southern end of the Rock, so as to have
a place of shelter to remove to, in case the enemy bombarded the
town.

The Spaniards had, by this time, mounted their cannon in forts St.
Philip and St. Barbara. Vast quantities of stores were landed at
Point Mala, at the end of the bay. Some fifteen thousand men were
under canvas, in their camp; and strong parties were constantly
employed in erecting works near their forts. The garrison on their
side were continually strengthening and adding to their batteries,
erecting palisades and traverses, filling the magazines in the
works, and preparing for an attack; and on the 11th of September
some of the guns were opened upon the enemy's working parties and,
for a time, compelled them to desist.

From the upper batteries on the Rock, a complete view was
obtainable of all the enemy's operations and, as they were seen to
be raising mortar batteries, preparations were made to diminish the
effects of a bombardment of the town. For this purpose the pavement
of the streets was removed, and the ground ploughed up; the towers
and most conspicuous buildings taken down; and traverses carried
across the streets, to permit communications to be carried on.

Early in October the Engineers and Artillery managed, with immense
labour, to mount a gun on the summit of the Rock; and as, from this
point, an almost bird's-eye view was obtained of the Spanish works,
the fire of the gun annoyed them greatly at their work. This was
maintained, however, steadily but, in spite of this interference
with their operations, the Spaniards on the 20th of October opened
thirty-five embrasures, in three batteries, in a line between their
two forts.

Provisions of every kind were now becoming very dear. Fresh meat
was from three to four shillings a pound, chickens twelve shillings
a couple, ducks from fourteen to eighteen. Fish was equally dear;
and vegetables hardly to be bought, at any price. Flour was running
very short, and rice was served out instead of it.

On the 14th of November the privateer Buck, armed with twenty-four
9 pounders, was seen making into the bay. Two Spanish ships of the
line, a frigate, two xebecs, and twenty-one small craft set out to
intercept her. The cutter--seeing a whole Spanish squadron coming
out--tacked and stood across towards the Barbary shore, pursued by
the Spaniards. The wind was from the west; but the cutter, lying
close hauled, was able just to stem the current, and hold her
position; while the Spaniards, being square rigged and so unable to
stand near the wind, drifted bodily away to leeward with the
current; but the two men-of-war, perceiving what was happening,
managed to make back into the bay.

As soon as the privateer saw the rest of the squadron drift away to
leeward, she again headed for the Rock. The Spanish admiral,
Barcelo, in a seventy-four gun ship, endeavoured to cut her
off--firing two broadsides of grape and round shot at her--but,
with the other man-of-war, was compelled to retire by the batteries
at Europa; and the cutter made her way in triumphantly, insultingly
returning the Spanish admiral's fire with her two little stern
guns. The Spanish men-of-war drifted away after their small craft;
and thus for the time the port was open again, thanks to the pluck
of the little privateer--which had, it was found on her arrival,
been some time at sea, and simply came in to get provisions.

As it could be seen, from the African coast, that the port was again open,
two or three small craft came across, with bullocks and sheep.  Four days
later--the wind veering round to the southward--Admiral Barcelo, with his
fleet, returned to the bay; and the blockade was renewed.

Already, Captain O'Halloran and his wife had the most ample reasons
for congratulating themselves that they had taken Dr. Burke's
advice, in the matter of vegetables and fowls. The little garden on
the roof was the envy of all Carrie's female friends--many of whom,
indeed, began imitations of it, on a small scale. Under the hot
sun, and with careful watering, everything made astonishing
progress. The cutting of the mustard and cress had, of course,
begun in little more than a week from the time when the garden had
been completed, and the seeds sown. The radishes were fit for
pulling three weeks later and, as constant successions were sown,
they had been amply supplied with an abundance of salad and, each
morning, a trader in town came up and took all that they could
spare--at prices that would, before the siege began, have appeared
fabulous.

Along the edge of the parapet, and trailing over almost to the
ground--covering the house in a bower of rich green foliage--the
melons, cucumbers, and pumpkins blossomed and fruited luxuriantly
and, for these, prices were obtained as high as those that the
fruit would fetch, in Covent Garden, when out of season. But as
melons, cucumbers, and pumpkins alike produce great quantities of
seed, by the end of the year they were being grown, on a
considerable scale, by all who possessed any facilities for
cultivating them.

Later on, indeed, the governor--hearing, from the principal medical
officer, how successful Captain O'Halloran had been--issued an
order recommending all inhabitants to grow vegetables, and granting
them every facility for so doing. All who chose to do so were
allowed to fence in any little patches of earth they could
discover, among the rocks or on unused ground; and it was not long
before the poorer inhabitants spent much of their time in
collecting earth, and establishing little garden plots, or in doing
so for persons who could afford to pay for their labour.

The poultry venture was equally satisfactory. Already a
considerable piece of rough and rocky ground, next to the garden,
had been enclosed; thereby affording a much larger run for the
fowls, and enabling a considerable portion of the garden to be
devoted to the young broods. The damaged biscuits had been sold at
a few shillings a ton and, at this price, Captain O'Halloran had
bought the whole of the condemned lot--amounting to about ten
tons--and there was, consequently, an ample supply of food for
them, for an almost indefinite time. After supplying the house
amply, there were at least a hundred eggs, a day, to sell; and
Carrie, who now took immense interest in the poultry yard,
calculated that they could dispose of ten couple a week, and still
keep up their number from the young broods.

"The only thing you have to be afraid of is disease, Mrs.
O'Halloran," said the doctor, who was her greatest adviser; "but
there is little risk of that. Besides, you have only to hire one or
two lads, of ten or twelve years old; and then you can put them
out, when you like, from the farther inclosure, and let them wander
about."

"But people don't generally watch fowls," Mrs. O'Halloran said.
"Surely they would come back, at night, to roost."

"I have no doubt they would. When chickens are well fed, they can
be trusted to find their way home at night. But you must remember
that they are worth from twelve to fourteen shillings a couple, and
what with the natives, and what with soldiers off duty, you would
find that a good many would not turn up at all, unless they were
watched. A couple of boys, at sixpence a day each, would keep them
from straying too far, and prevent their being stolen, and would
relieve you of a lot of anxiety about them."

So, after this, the fowls were turned out on to the Rock; where
they wandered about, narrowly watched by two native boys, and were
able to gather no small store of sustenance from the insects they
found among the rocks, or on the low shrubs that grew among them.

Bob had, after his return from his cruise, fallen into his former
habits; spending two hours every morning with Don Diaz, and reading
for an hour or two in the evening with the doctor. It was now cool
enough for exercise and enjoyment, in the day; and there were few
afternoons when he did not climb up to the top of the Rock, and
watch the Spanish soldiers labouring at their batteries, and
wondering when they were going to begin to do something.

Occasionally they obtained news of what was passing in the enemy's
lines, and the Spaniards were equally well informed of what was
going on in the fortress, for desertions from both sides were not
infrequent. Sometimes a soldier with the working parties, out in
the neutral ground, would steal away and make for the Spanish
lines; pursued by a musketry fire from his comrades, and saluted,
perhaps, with a round or two of shot from the batteries above. But
more frequently they made their escape from the back of the Rock,
letting themselves down by ropes; although at least half the number
who made the attempt were dashed to pieces among the precipices.

The majority of the deserters belonged to the Hanoverian regiments,
but a good many British soldiers also deserted. In all cases these
were reckless men who, having been punished for some offence or
other, preferred risking death to remaining in the garrison. Some
were caught in the attempt; while several, by getting into places
where they could neither descend further nor return, were compelled
at last, by hunger and thirst, to shout for assistance--preferring
death by hanging to the slower agony of thirst.

The deserters from the Spanish lines principally belonged to the
Walloon regiments in the Spanish service, or to regiments from
Biscaya and other northern provinces. The troops were raised on the
principle of our own militia, and objected strongly to service
outside their own provinces; and it was this discontent that gave
rise to their desertions to us. Some of them made their way at
night, from the works where they were employed, through the lines
of sentries. Others took to the water, either beyond Fort Barbara
or at the head of the bay, and reached our lines by swimming.

Bob heartily congratulated himself, when he heard of the fate of
some of the deserters who tried to make their way down at the back
of the Rock, that he and Jim Sankey had not carried out their
scheme of descending there, in search of birds. By this time he had
come to know most of the young officers of the garrison and,
although the time passed without any marked events, he had plenty
of occupation and amusement. Sometimes they would get up fishing
parties and, although they could not venture very far from the
Rock, on account of the enemy's galleys and rowboats, they had a
good deal of sport; and fish were welcome additions to the food,
which consisted principally of salt rations--for Bob very soon
tired of a diet of chicken.

There were some very heavy rains, in the last week of the year.
These, they learned from deserters, greatly damaged the enemy's
lines--filling their trenches, and washing down their banks. One
advantage was that a great quantity of wood, cork, and other
floating rubbish was washed down, by the rain, into the two rivers
that fell into the bay and, as the wind was from the south, this
was all blown over towards the Rock; where it was collected by
boats, affording a most welcome supply of fuel, which had been, for
some time, extremely scarce.

On the 8th of January a Neapolitan polacre was driven in under the
guns, by the wind from the other side of the bay, and was obliged
to drop anchor. Six thousand bushels of barley were found on board
her, which was of inestimable value to the inhabitants, who were
now suffering extremely; as were also the wives and children of the
soldiers, whose rations--scanty for one--were wholly insufficient
for the wants of a family. Fowls had now risen to eighteen
shillings a couple, eggs were six pence each, and small cabbages
fetched eighteen pence.

On the 12th the enemy fired ten shots into the town from Fort Saint
Philip; causing a panic among the inhabitants, who at once began to
remove to their huts at the other end of the Rock. A woman was
wounded by a splinter of stone from one of the houses, being the
first casualty that had taken place through the siege. The next day
the admiral gave orders to the men-of-war that they should be in
readiness, in case a convoy appeared, to afford protection to any
ships that might attempt to come in. This order caused great joy
among the garrison and inhabitants, as it seemed to signify that
the governor had received information, in some manner, that a
convoy was on its way out to relieve the town.

Two days later a brig, that was seen passing through the Straits to
the east, suddenly changed her course and made for the Rock and,
although the enemy tried to cut her off, she succeeded in getting
into port. The welcome news soon spread that the brig was one of a
large convoy that had sailed, late in December, for the relief of
the town. She had parted company with the others in the Bay of
Biscay and, on her way, had seen a Spanish squadron off Cadiz,
which was supposed to be watching for the convoy. This caused much
anxiety; but on the 16th a brig laden with flour arrived, with the
news that Sir George Rodney had captured, off the coast of
Portugal, six Spanish frigates, with seventeen merchantmen on their
way from Bilbao to Cadiz; and that he had with him a fleet of
twenty-one sail of the line, and a large convoy of merchantmen and
transports.

The next day one of the prizes came in, and the midshipman in
charge of her reported that, when he had left the convoy on the
previous day, a battle was going on between the British fleet and
the Spanish squadron. Late in the evening the convoy was in sight;
and the Apollo, frigate, and one or two merchantmen got in, after
dark, with the news that the Spaniards had been completely
defeated--their admiral's flagship, with three others, captured;
one blown up in the engagement, another driven ashore, and the rest
dispersed.

The preparations for relieving the town had been so well concealed
that the Spaniards had believed that the British men-of-war were
destined for the West Indies, and had thought that the merchantmen
would have fallen easy prizes to their squadron, which consisted of
eleven men-of-war.



Chapter 13: Oranges And Lemons.


There was great anxiety in Gibraltar that night, for the wind was
very light and from the wrong direction and, in the morning, it was
seen that the greater portion of the convoy had drifted far away to
the east. Soon after noon, however, the Edgar managed to get in
with the Spanish admiral's flagship--the Phoenix, of eighty
guns--and in the evening the Prince George, with eleven or twelve
ships, worked in round Europa Point; but Admiral Rodney, with the
main body of the fleet and the prizes, was forced to anchor off
Marbella--a Spanish town--fifteen leagues east of Gibraltar. It was
not until seven or eight days later that the whole of the fleet and
convoy arrived in the port.

On the 29th a transport came in with the 2nd battalion of the 73rd
Regiment, with 944 rank and file. A large number of heavy cannon,
from the prizes, were landed; and several hundreds of barrels of
powder, in addition to those brought out with the convoy. Great
stores of salt provisions and supplies of flour had been brought
out but, unfortunately, little could be done towards providing the
garrison with a supply of fresh meat. Had Admiral Rodney been able
to remain with his fleet at Gibraltar, supplies could have been
brought across from the African coast; but the British fleet was
required elsewhere, and the relief afforded was a temporary one.
The garrison was, however, relieved by a large number of the
soldiers' wives and children being put on board the merchantmen,
and sent home to England. Many of the poor inhabitants were also
taken, either to Barbary or Portugal.

While the fleet was in port, the Spanish blockading squadron was
moored close under the guns of Algeciras; and booms were laid round
them, to prevent their being attacked by the boats of the British
fleet. An opportunity was taken, of the presence of the Spanish
admiral in Gibraltar, to arrange for an exchange of prisoners; and
on the 13th of February the fleet sailed away, and the blockade was
renewed by the Spaniards.

After the departure of the fleet, many months passed monotonously.
The enemy were ever increasing and strengthening their works, which
now mounted a great number of cannon; but beyond an occasional
interchange of a few shots, hostilities were carried on languidly.
The enemy made two endeavours to burn the British vessels, anchored
under the guns of the batteries, by sending fire ships down upon
them; but the crews of the ships of war manned the boats and, going
out to meet them, towed them ashore; where they burned out without
doing damage, and the hulls, being broken up, afforded a welcome
supply of fuel.

The want of fresh meat and vegetables operated disastrously upon
the garrison. Even before the arrival of the relieving fleet,
scurvy had shown itself; and its ravages continued, and extended,
as months went on. The hospitals became crowded with sufferers--a
third of the force being unfit for any duty--while there were few
but were more or less affected by it.

As soon as it became severe, Captain O'Halloran and his wife
decided to sell no more vegetables; but sent the whole of their
supply, beyond what was needed for their personal consumption, to
the hospitals.

During these eight months, only a few small craft had managed to
elude the vigilance of the enemy's cruisers and, frequently, foe
many weeks at a time, no news of any kind from without reached the
besieged. The small supplies of fresh meat that had, during the
early part of the siege, been brought across in small craft from
Barbary, had for some time ceased altogether; for the Moors of
Tangiers had, under pressure of the Spaniards, broken off their
alliance with us and joined them and, in consequence, not only did
supplies cease to arrive, but English vessels entering the Straits
were no longer able to anchor, as they had before done, under the
guns of the Moorish batteries for protection from the Spanish
cruisers.

Several times there were discussions between Bob, his sister, and
Captain O'Halloran as to whether it would not be better for him to
take the first opportunity that offered of returning to England.
Their argument was that he was wasting his time, but to this he
would not at all agree.

"I am no more wasting it, here, than if I were in Philpot Lane," he
said. "It will be plenty of time for me to begin to learn the
routine of the business, when I am two or three and twenty. Uncle
calculated I should be four years abroad, learning the languages
and studying wines. Well, I can study wines at any time; besides,
after all, it is the agents out here that choose them. I can speak
Spanish, now, like a native, and there is nothing further to be
done in that way; I have given up lessons now with the doctor, but
I get plenty of books from the garrison library, and keep up my
reading. As for society, we have twenty times as much here, with
the officers and their families, as I should have in London; and I
really don't see there would be any advantage, whatever, in my
going back.

"Something must be done here, some day. And after all, the siege
does not make much difference, in any way, except that we don't get
fresh meat for dinner. Everything goes on just the same only, I
suppose, in peace time we should make excursions, sometimes, into
Spain. The only difference I can make out is that I am able to be
more useful to you, now, with the garden and poultry, than I could
have been if there had been no siege."

There was indeed no lack of society. The O'Hallorans' was perhaps
the most popular house on the Rock. They were making quite a large
income from their poultry, and spent it freely. Presents of eggs,
chicken, and vegetables were constantly being sent to all their
friends, where there was any sickness in the family; and as, even
at the high prices prevailing, they were able to purchase supplies
of wine, and such other luxuries as were obtainable, they kept
almost open house and, twice a week, had regular gatherings with
music; and the suppers were vastly more appreciated, by their
guests, than is usually the case at such entertainments.

Early in September, when scurvy was still raging, the doctor was,
one day, lamenting the impossibility of obtaining oranges and
lemons.

"It makes one's heart ache," he said, "to see the children suffer.
It is bad enough that strong men should be scarcely able to crawl
about; but soldiers must take their chances, whether they come from
shot or from scurvy; but it is lamentable to see the children
fading away. We have tried everything--acids and drugs of all
sorts--but nothing does any good. As I told you, I saw the scurvy
on the whaling trip I went, and I am convinced that nothing but
lemon juice, or an absolutely unlimited amount of vegetables, will
do any good."

A week previously, a small privateer had come in with some
mailbags, which she had brought on from Lisbon. Among them was a
letter to Bob from the owners of the Antelope. It had been written
months before, after the arrival of the brig and her two prizes in
England. It said that the two vessels and their cargoes had been
sold, and the prize-money divided; and that his share amounted to
three hundred and thirty-two pounds, for which sum an order upon a
firm of merchants at Gibraltar was inclosed. The writers also said
that, after consultation with Captain Lockett, from whom they had
heard of the valuable services he had rendered, the owners of the
Antelope had decided--as a very small mark of their appreciation,
and gratitude--to present him with a service of plate, to the value
of five hundred pounds, and in such form as he might prefer on his
return to England.

He had said nothing to his sister of this letter, as his intention
was to surprise her with some present. But the doctor's words now
determined him to carry into effect an idea that had before
occurred to him, upon seeing so many sickly children among the
families of the officers of their acquaintance.

"Look here, doctor," he said, "I mean to go out and try and get a
few boxes of oranges and lemons; but mind, nobody but you and I
must know anything about it."

"How on earth do you mean to do it, Bob?"

"Well, I have not settled, yet; but there can't be any difficulty
about getting out. I might go down to the Old Mole, and swim from
there to the head of the bay; or I might get some of the fishermen
to go round the point, and land me to the east, well beyond the
Spanish lines."

"You couldn't do that, Bob; there is too sharp a lookout kept on
the batteries. No craft is allowed to go any distance from the
Rock, as they are afraid of the Spaniards learning the state to
which we are reduced, by illness. If you did swim to the head of
the bay, as you talk about, you would be certain to be captured at
once, by the Spaniards; and in that case you would, as likely as
not, be shot as a spy."

"Still, deserters do get out, you know, doctor. There is scarcely a
week that two or three don't manage to get away. I mean to try,
anyhow. If you like to help me, of course it will make it easier;
if not, I shall try by myself."

"Gerald and your sister would never forgive me, if anything
happened to you, Bob."

"There is no occasion for them to know anything about it. Anyhow, I
shall say nothing to them. I shall leave a note behind me, saying
that I am going to make an attempt to get out, and bring back a
boat full of oranges and lemons. I am past seventeen, now; and am
old enough to act for myself. I don't think, if the thing is
managed properly, there is any particular risk about it. I will
think it over, by tomorrow, and tell you what plan I have fixed
on."

On the following day, Bob told the doctor that there were two
plans.

"The first is to be lowered by a rope, down at the back of the
Rock. That is ever so much the simplest. Of course, there is no
difficulty about it if the rope is long enough. Some of the
deserters have failed because the rope has been too short, but I
should take care to get one long enough. The only fear is the
sentries; I know that there are lots of them posted about there, on
purpose to prevent desertion."

"Quite so, Bob; and no one is allowed to go along the paths after
dark, except on duty."

"Yes.

"Well, the other plan is to go out with the party that furnishes
the sentries, down on the neutral ground; choose some dark night,
manage to get separated from them, as they march out, and then make
for the shore and take to the water. Of course, if one could
arrange to have the officer with the party in the secret, it would
make it easy enough."

"It might be done, that way," the doctor said, thoughtfully. "Have
you quite made up your mind to do this thing, Bob?"

"I have quite made up my mind to try, anyhow."

"Well, if you mean to try, Bob, it is just as well that you
shouldn't get shot, at the start. I have just been round to the
orderly room. Our regiment furnishes the pickets on the neutral
ground, tonight. Captain Antrobus commands the party. He is a good
fellow and, as he is a married man, and all four of his children
are bad with scurvy, he would feel an interest in your attempt.

"You know him as well as I do. If you like, I will go with you to
his quarters, and see what we can do with him."

They at once set out.

"Look here, Antrobus," the doctor said, after asking that officer
to come out for a chat with him, "if we don't get some lemon juice,
I am afraid it will go very hard with a lot of the children."

"Yes, we have known that for some time, doctor."

"Well, Repton here has made up his mind to try to get out of the
place, and make his way to Malaga, and get a boatload of fruit and
try to bring it in. Of course he will go dressed as a native, and
he speaks Spanish well enough to pass anywhere, without suspicion.
So, once beyond the lines, I don't see much difficulty in his
making his way to Malaga. Whether he will get back again is another
matter, altogether. That is his business. He has plenty of money to
purchase the fruit, when he arrives there; and to buy a boat, and
all that sort of thing.

"The difficulty is in getting out. Now, nobody is going to know how
he does this, except our three selves."

"But why do you come to me, Burke?"

"Because you command the guard, tonight, on the neutral ground.
What he proposes is that he should put on a soldier's greatcoat and
cap, and take a firelock and, in the dark, fall in with your party.
When you get well out on the neutral ground, he could either slip
away and take his chance or, what would be better still, he might
be in the party you take forward to post as sentries, and you could
take him along with you, so that he would go with you as far as the
shore; and could then slip away, come back a bit, so as to be out
of sight of the farthest sentry, and then take to the water.

"He can swim like a fish, and what current there is will be with
him; so that, before it began to be light, he could land two or
three miles beyond the Spanish lines. He is going to leave a note
behind, for O'Halloran, saying he has left; but no one will know
whether he got down at the back of the Rock, or swam across the
bay, or how he has gone.

"I have tried to dissuade him; but he has made up his mind to try
it and, seeing that--if he succeeds--it may save the lives of
scores of children, I really cannot refuse to help him."

"Well, I don't know," Captain Antrobus said. "There certainly does
not seem much risk in his going out, as you say. I should get a
tremendous wigging, no doubt, if he is discovered, and it was known
that I had a hand in it; but I would not mind risking that, for the
sake of the children.

"But don't take a firelock, Repton. The sergeants would be sure to
notice that there was an extra man. You had better join us, just as
we set out. I will say a word or two to you, then do you follow on,
in the dark. The men will suppose you are one of the drummers I am
taking with me, to serve as a messenger, or something of that sort.
That way you can follow close behind me, while I am posting the
sentries after leaving the main body at the guardhouse. After
posting the last man at the seashore, I can turn off with you for a
few yards, as if giving you an order.

"Then I will go back and stay for a time with the last sentry, who
will naturally think that the drummer has been sent back to the
guardhouse. I will recommend him to be vigilant, and keep by him
for some time, till I am pretty sure you have taken to the water
and swam past; so that if the sentry should hear a splash, or
anything, I can say it can only be a fish; and that, at any rate,
it would not do to give an alarm, as it cannot be anything of
consequence.

"You see, you don't belong to the garrison, and it is no question
of assisting a deserter to escape. Anyhow, I will do it."

Thanking Captain Antrobus greatly, for his promise of assistance,
Bob went off into the town; where he bought a suit of Spanish
clothes, such as would be appropriate for a small farmer or trader.
He then presented his letter of credit at the merchant's, and drew
a hundred pounds, which he obtained in Spanish gold. This money and
the clothes he put in an oilskin bag, of which the mouth was
securely closed. This he left at the doctor's.

As soon as it became dark he went down again. The doctor had a
greatcoat and hat in readiness for him--there being plenty of
effects of men who had died in the hospital--and as soon as Bob had
put them on, walked across--with Bob following him--to the spot
where Captain Antrobus' company were falling in. Just as they were
about to march, the doctor went up to the captain; who after a word
or two with him said to Bob, in a voice loud enough to be heard by
the noncommissioned officer, close to him:

"Well, you will keep by me."

The night was a dark one, and the party made their way down to the
gate, where the passwords were exchanged; and the company then
moved along by the narrow pathway between the artificial inundation
and the foot of the Rock. They continued their way until they
arrived at the building that served as the main guard of the
outlying pickets. Here two-thirds of the company were left; and the
captain led the others out, an officer belonging to the regiment
whose men he was relieving accompanying him. As the sentries were
posted the men relieved fell in, under the orders of their officer
and, as soon as the last had been relieved, they marched back to
the guardhouse.

A minute later, Captain Antrobus turned to Bob.

"You need not wait," he said. "Go back to the guardhouse. Mind how
you go."

Bob saluted and turned off, leaving the officer standing by the
sentry. He went some distance back, then walked down the sand to
the water's edge, and waded noiselessly into the water. The oilskin
bag was, he knew, buoyant enough to give him ample support in the
water.

When he was breast deep, he let his uniform cloak slip off his
shoulders; allowed his shoes to sink to the bottom, and his
three-cornered hat to float away. The doctor had advised him to do
this.

"If you leave the things at the edge of the water, Bob, it will be
thought that somebody has deserted; and then there will be a lot of
questions, and inquiries. You had better take them well out into
the sea with you, and then let them go. They will sink, and drift
along under water and, if they are ever thrown up, it will be far
beyond our lines. In that way, as the whole of the guard will
answer to their names, when the roll is called tomorrow, no one
will ever give a thought to the drummer who fell in at the last
moment; or, if one of them does think of it, he will suppose that
the captain sent him into the town, with a report."

The bag would have been a great encumbrance, had Bob wanted to swim
fast. As it was, he simply placed his hands upon it, and struck out
with his feet, making straight out from the shore. This he did for
some ten minutes; and then, being certain that he was far beyond
the sight of anyone on shore, he turned and, as nearly as he could,
followed the line of the coast. The voices of the sentries calling
to each other came across the sea, and he could make out a light or
two in the great fort at the water's edge.

It was easy work. The water was, as nearly as possible, the
temperature of his body; and he felt that he could remain for any
time in it, without inconvenience. The lights in the fort served as
a mark by which he could note his progress; and an hour after
starting he was well abreast of them, and knew that the current
must be helping him more than he had expected it would do.

Another hour, and he began to swim shorewards; as the current
might, for aught he knew, be drifting him somewhat out into the
bay. When he was able to make out the dark line ahead of him, he
again resumed his former course. It was just eight o'clock when the
guard had passed through the gate. He had started half an hour
later. He swam what seemed to him a very long time, but he had no
means of telling how the time passed.

When he thought it must be somewhere about twelve o'clock, he made
for the shore. He was sure that, by this time, he must be at least
three miles beyond the fort; and as the Spanish camps lay
principally near San Roque, at the head of the bay, and there were
no tents anywhere by the seashore, he felt sure that he could land,
now, without the slightest danger.

Here, then, he waded ashore, stripped, tied his clothes in a
bundle, waded a short distance back again, and dropped them in the
sea. Then he returned, took up the bag, and carried it up the sandy
beach. Opening it, he dressed himself in the complete set of
clothes he had brought with him, put on the Spanish shoes and round
turned-up hat, placed his money in his pocket; scraped a shallow
hole in the sand, put the bag in it and covered it, and then
started walking briskly along on the flat ground beyond the sand
hills He kept on until he saw the first faint light in the sky;
then he sat down among some bushes, until it was light enough for
him to distinguish the features of the country.

Inland, the ground rose rapidly into hills--in many places covered
with wood--and half an hour's walking took him to one of these.
Looking back, he could see the Rock rising, as he judged, from
twelve to fourteen miles away. He soon found a place with some
thick undergrowth and, entering this, lay down and was soon sound
asleep.

When he woke it was already late in the afternoon. He had brought
with him, in the bag, some biscuits and hardboiled eggs; and of a
portion of these he made a hearty meal. Then he pushed up over the
hill until, after an hour's walking, he saw a road before him. This
was all he wanted, and he sat down and waited until it became dark.
A battalion of infantry passed along as he sat there, marching
towards Gibraltar. Two or three long lines of laden carts passed
by, in the same direction.

He had consulted a map before starting, and knew that the distance
to Malaga was more than twenty leagues; and that the first place of
any importance was Estepona, about eight leagues from Gibraltar,
and that before the siege a large proportion of the supplies of
fruit and vegetables were brought to Gibraltar from this town.
Starting as soon as it became dark, he passed through Estepona at
about ten o'clock; looked in at a wine shop, and sat down to a pint
of wine and some bread; and then continued his journey until,
taking it quietly, he was in sight of Marbella.

He slept in a grove of trees until daylight, and then entered the
town, which was charmingly situated among orange groves. Going into
a fonda--or tavern--he called for breakfast. When he had eaten
this, he leisurely strolled down to the port and, taking his seat
on a block of stone, on the pier, watched the boats. As, while
walking down from the fonda, he had passed several shops with
oranges and lemons, it seemed to him that it would in some respects
be better for him to get the fruit here, instead of going on to
Malaga.

In the first place, the distance to return was but half that from
Malaga; and in the second it would probably be easier to get out,
from a quiet little port like this, than from a large town like
Malaga. The question which puzzled him was how was he to get his
oranges on board. Where could he reasonably be going to take them?

Presently, a sailor came up and began to chat with him.

"Are you wanting a boat, senor?"

"I have not made up my mind, yet," he said. "I suppose you are busy
here, now?"

"No, the times are dull. Usually we do a good deal of trade with
Gibraltar but, at present, that is all stopped. It is hard on us
but, when we turn out the English hereticos, I hope we shall have
better times than ever. But who can say? They have plenty of money,
the English; and are ready to pay good prices for everything."

"But I suppose you take things to our camp?"

The fisherman shook his head.

"They get their supplies direct from Malaga, by sea. There are many
carts go through here, of course; but the roads are heavy, and it
is cheaper to send things by water. If our camp had been on the
seashore, instead of at San Roque, we might have taken fish and
fruit to them; but it is a long way across and, of course, in small
boats we cannot go round the great Rock, and run the risk of being
shot at or taken prisoners.

"No; there is nothing for us to do here, now, but to carry what
fish and fruit we do not want at Marbella across to Malaga; and we
get poor prices, there, to what we used to get at Gibraltar; and no
chance of turning an honest penny by smuggling away a few pounds of
tobacco, as we come back. There was as much profit, in that, as
there was in the sale of the goods; but one had to be very sharp,
for they were always suspicious of boats coming back from there,
and used to search us so that you would think one could not bring
so much as a cigar on shore. But you know, there are ways of
managing things.

"Are you thinking of going across to Malaga, senor?"

"Well, I have a little business there. I want to see how the new
wines are selling; and whether it will be better for me to sell
mine, now, or to keep them in my cellars for a few months. I am in
no hurry. Tomorrow is as good as today. If there had been a boat
going across, I might have taken a passage that way, instead of
riding."

"I don't know, senor. There was a man asking, an hour ago, if
anyone was going. He was wanting to take a few boxes of fruit
across, but he did not care about hiring my boat for himself. That,
you see, was reasonable enough; but if the senor wished to go, too,
it might be managed if you took the boat between you. I would carry
you cheaply, if you would be willing to wait for an hour or two; so
that I could go round to the other fishermen, and get a few dozen
fish from one and a few dozen from another, to sell for them over
there. That is the way we manage."

"I could not very well go until the afternoon," Bob said.

"If you do not go until the afternoon, senor, it would be as well
not to start until evening. The wind is very light, and we should
have to row. If you start in the afternoon, we should get to Malaga
at two or three o'clock in the morning, when everyone was asleep;
but if you were to start in the evening, we should be in in
reasonable time, just as the people were coming into the markets.
That would suit us for the sale of our fish, and the man with his
fruit. The nights are warm and, with a cloak and an old sail to
keep off the night dew, the voyage would be more pleasant than in
the heat of the day."

"That would do for me, very well," Bob said. "Nothing could be
better. What charge would you make, for taking me across and
bringing me back, tomorrow?"

"At what time would you want to return, senor?"

"It would matter little. I should be done with my business by noon,
but I should be in no hurry. I could wait until evening, if that
would suit you better."

"And we might bring other passengers back, and any cargo we might
pick up?"

"Yes, so that you do not fill the boat so full that there would be
no room for me to stretch my legs."

"Would the senor think four dollars too much? There will be my
brother and myself, and it will be a long row."

"It is dear," Bob said, decidedly; "but I will give you three
dollars and, if everything passes to my satisfaction, maybe I will
make up the other dollar."

"Agreed, senor. I will see if I can find the man who was here,
asking for a boat for his fruit."

"I will come back in an hour, and see," Bob said, getting up and
walking leisurely away.

The fisherman was waiting for him.

"I can't find the man, senor, though I have searched all through
the town. He must have gone off to his farm again."

"That is bad. How much did you reckon upon making from him?"

"I should have got another three dollars from him."

"Well, I tell you what," Bob said; "I have a good many friends, and
people are always pleased with a present from the country. A box of
fruit from Marbella is always welcome, for their flavour is
considered excellent. It is well to throw a little fish, to catch a
big one; and a present is like oil on the wheels of business. How
many boxes of fruit will your boat carry? I suppose you could take
twenty, and still have room to row?"

"Thirty, sir; that is the boat," and he pointed to one moored
against the quay.

She was about twenty feet long, with a mast carrying a good-sized
sail.

"Very well, then. I will hire the boat for myself. I will give you
six dollars, and another dollar for drink money, if all goes
pleasantly. You must be ready to come back, tomorrow evening; or
the first thing next morning, if it should suit you to stay till
then. You can carry what fish you can get to Malaga, and may take
in a return cargo if you can get one. That will be extra profit for
yourselves. But you and your brother must agree to carry down the
boxes of fruit, and put them on board here. I am not going to pay
porters for that.

"At what time will you start?"

"Shall we say six o'clock, senor?"

"That will suit me very well. You can come up with me, now, and
bring the fruit down, and put it on board; or I will be down here
at five o'clock, and you can go up and get it, then."

The man thought for a moment.

"I would rather do it now, senor, if it makes no difference to you.
Then we can have our evening meals at home with our families, and
come straight down here, and start."

"Very well; fetch your brother, and we will set about the matter at
once; as I have to go out to my farm and make some arrangements,
and tell them they may not see me again for three days."

In two or three minutes the fisherman came back, with his brother.
Bob went with them to a trader in fruit, and bought twenty boxes of
lemons and ten of oranges, and saw them carried down and put on
board. Then he handed a dollar to the boatman.

"Get a loaf of white bread, and a nice piece of cooked meat, and a
couple of bottles of good wine, and put them on board. We shall be
hungry, before morning. I will be here at a few minutes before
six."

Highly satisfied with the good fortune that had enabled him to get
the fruit on board without the slightest difficulty, Bob returned
into the town. It was but eleven o'clock now so--having had but a
short sleep the night before, and no prospect of sleep the next
night--he walked a mile along the road by the sea, then turned off
among the sand hills and slept, till four in the afternoon; after
which he returned to Marbella, and partook of a hearty meal.

Having finished this he strolled out, and was not long in
discovering a shop where arms were sold. Here he bought a brace of
long, heavy pistols, and two smaller ones; with powder and bullets,
and also a long knife. They were all made into a parcel together
and, on leaving the shop, he bought a small bag. Then he went a
short distance out of the town again, carefully loaded the four
pistols, and placed them and the knife in the bag.

As he went back, the thought struck him that the voyage might
probably last longer than they expected and, buying a basket, he
stored it with another piece of meat, three loaves, and two more
bottles of wine, and gave it to a boy to carry down to the boat.

It was a few minutes before six when he got there. The two sailors
were standing by the boat, and a considerable pile of fish in the
bow showed that they had been successful in getting a consignment
from the other fishermen of the port. They looked surprised at the
second supply of provisions.

"Why, senor, we have got the things you ordered."

"Yes, yes, I do not doubt that; but I have heard, before now, of
headwinds springing up, and boats not being able to make their
passage, and being blown off land; and I am not fond of fasting. I
daresay you won't mind eating, tomorrow, anything that is not
consumed by the time we reach port."

"We will undertake that, senor," the man said, laughing, highly
satisfied at the liberality of their employer.

"Is there wind enough for the sail?" Bob asked, as he stepped into
the stern of the boat.

"It is very light, senor, but I daresay it will help us a bit. We
shall get out the oars."

"I will take the helm, if you sail," Bob said. "You can tell me
which side to push it. It will be an amusement, and keep me awake."

The sun was just setting, as they started. There was scarcely a
breath of wind. The light breeze that had been blowing, during the
day, had dropped with the sun; and the evening breeze had not yet
sprung up. The two fishermen rowed, and the boat went slowly
through the water; for the men knew that they had a long row before
them, and were by no means inclined to exert themselves--especially
as they hoped that, in a short time, they would get wind enough to
take them on their way, without the oars.

Bob chatted with them until it became dark. As soon as he was
perfectly sure that the boat could not be seen from the land, he
quietly opened his bag, and changed the conversation.

"My men," he said, "I wonder that you are content with earning
small wages, here, when you could get a lot of money by making a
trip, occasionally, round to Gibraltar with fruit. It would be
quite easy; for you could keep well out from the coast till it
became dark, and then row in close under the Rock; and keep along
round the Point, and into the town, without the least risk of being
seen by any of our cruisers. You talked about making money by
smuggling in tobacco from there, but that is nothing to what you
could get by taking fruit into Gibraltar. These oranges cost a
dollar and a half, a box; and they would fetch ten dollars a box,
easily, there. Indeed, I think they would fetch twenty dollars a
box. Why, that would give a profit, on the thirty boxes, of six or
seven hundred dollars. Just think of that!"

"Would they give such a price as that?" the men said, in surprise.

"They would. They are suffering from want of fresh meat, and there
is illness among them; and oranges and lemons are the things to
cure them. It is all very well for men to suffer, but no one wants
women and children to do so; and it would be the act of good
Christians to relieve them, besides making as much money, in one
little short trip, as you would make in a year's work."

"That is true," the men said, "but we might be sunk by the guns,
going there; and we should certainly be hung, when we got back, if
they found out where we had been."

"Why should they find out?" Bob asked. "You would put out directly
it got dark, and row round close under the Rock, and then make out
to sea; and in the morning you would be somewhere off Marbella, but
eight or ten miles out, with your fishing nets down; and who is to
know that you have been to Gibraltar?"

The men were silent. The prospect certainly seemed a tempting one.
Bob allowed them to turn it over in their minds for a few minutes,
and then spoke again.

"Now, my men, I will speak to you frankly. It is just this business
that I am bent upon, now. I have come out from Gibraltar to do a
little trade in fruit. It is sad to see women and children
suffering; and there is, as I told you, lots of money to be made
out of it. Now, I will make you a fair offer. You put the boat's
head round, now, and sail for Gibraltar. If the wind helps us a
bit, we shall be off the Rock by daylight. When we get there, I
will give you a hundred dollars, apiece."

"It is too much risk," one of the men said, after a long pause.

"There is no risk at all," Bob said, firmly. "You will get in there
tomorrow, and you can start again, as soon as it becomes dark; and
in the morning you will be able to sail into Marbella, and who is
to know that you haven't been across to Malaga, as you intended?

"I tell you what, I will give you another fifty dollars for your
fish; or you can sell them there, yourselves--they will fetch you
quite that."

The men still hesitated, and spoke together in a low voice.

"Look here, men," Bob said, as he took the two heavy pistols from
his bag, "I have come out from the Rock to do this, and I am going
to do it. The question is, 'Which do you choose--to earn two
hundred and fifty dollars for a couple of days' work, or to be shot
and thrown overboard?' This boat is going there, whether you go in
her or not. I don't want to hurt you--I would rather pay the two
hundred and fifty dollars--but that fruit may save the lives of
many women, and little children, and I am bound to do it.

"You can make another trip or not, just as you please. Now, I think
you will be very foolish, if you don't agree; for you will make
three times as much as I offer you, every thirty boxes of fruit
that you can take in there; but the boat has got to go there now,
and you have got to take your choice whether you go in her, or
not."

"How do we know that you will pay us the money, when we get there?"
one of the Spaniards asked.

Bob put his hand into his pocket.

"There," he said. "There are twenty gold pieces, that is, a hundred
dollars. That is a proof I mean what I say. Put them into your
pockets. You shall have the rest, when you get there. But mind, no
nonsense; no attempts at treachery. If I see the smallest sign of
that, I will shoot you down without hesitation.

"Now, row, and I'll put her head round."

The men said a few words in an undertone to each other.

"You guarantee that no harm shall come to us at Gibraltar, and that
we shall be allowed to leave again?"

"Yes, I promise you that, faithfully.

"Now, you have got to row a good bit harder than you have been
rowing, up till now. We must be past Fort Santa Barbara before
daylight."

The boat's head was round, by this time, and the men began to row
steadily. At present, they hardly knew whether they were satisfied,
or not. Two hundred and fifty dollars was, to them, an enormous
sum; but the risk was great. It was not that they feared that any
suspicion would fall upon them, on their return. They had often
smuggled tobacco from Gibraltar, and had no high opinion of the
acuteness of the authorities. What really alarmed them was the fear
of being sunk, either by the Spanish or British guns. However, they
saw that, for the present at any rate, they had no option but to
obey the orders of a passenger possessed of such powerful arguments
as those he held in his hands.



Chapter 14: A Welcome Cargo.


After the men had been rowing for an hour, Bob felt a slight breeze
springing up from off the land, and said:

"You may as well get up the sail. It will help you along a bit."

The sail was a large one, for the size of the boat; and Bob felt a
distinct increase in her pace, as soon as the men began to row
again. He could make out the line of the hills against the sky; and
had, therefore, no difficulty in keeping the course. They were soon
back opposite Marbella, the lights of which he could clearly make
out. Little by little the breeze gathered strength, and the rowers
had comparatively easy work of it, as the boat slipped away lightly
before the wind.

"What do you make it--twelve leagues from Marbella to the Rock?"

"About that," the man replied. "If the wind holds like this, we
shall not be very far from the Rock by daylight. We are going along
about a league an hour."

"Well, stretch out to it, lads, for your own sakes. I have no fear
of a shot from Santa Barbara. The only thing I am afraid of is that
we should be seen by any Spanish boats that may be cruising round
that side, before we get under shelter of the guns of the Rock."

The fishermen needed no warning as to the danger of being caught,
and bent again more strongly to their oars. After they had rowed
two hours longer, Bob told them to pull the oars in.

"You had better have a quarter of an hour's rest, and some supper
and a bottle of wine," he said. "You have got your own basket,
forward. I will take mine out of this by my side."

As their passenger had paid for it, the boatmen had got a very
superior wine to that they ordinarily drank. After eating their
supper--bread, meat, and onions--and drinking half a bottle of
wine, each, they were disposed to look at the situation in a more
cheerful light. Two hundred and fifty dollars was certainly well
worth running a little risk for. Why, it would make them
independent of bad weather; and they would be able to freight their
boat themselves, with fish or fruit, and to trade on their own
account.

They were surprised at the enterprise of this young trader, whom
they supposed to be a native of Gibraltar; for Bob thought that it
was as well that they should remain in ignorance of his
nationality, as they might have felt more strongly that they were
rendering assistance to the enemy, did they know that he was
English.

Hour after hour passed. The wind did not increase in force nor, on
the other hand, did it die away. There was just enough to keep the
sail full, and take much of the weight of the boat off the arms of
the rowers. The men, knowing the outline of the hills, were able to
tell what progress they were making; and told Bob when they were
passing Estepona. Two or three times there was a short pause, for
the men to have a draught of wine. With that exception, they rowed
on steadily.

"It will be a near thing, senor," one of them said, towards
morning. "The current counts for three or four miles against us. If
it hadn't been for that, we should certainly have done it. As it
is, it is doubtful."

"I think we are about a mile off shore, are we not?" Bob asked.
"That is about the distance I want to keep. If there are any
cruisers, they are sure to be further out than that; and as for
Santa Barbara, if they see us and take the trouble to fire at us,
there is not much chance of their hitting such a mark as this, a
mile away. Besides, almost all their guns are on the land side."

The men made no reply. To them, the thought of being fired at by
big guns was much more alarming than that of being picked up by a
cruiser of their own nation; although they saw there might be a
good deal of difficulty in persuading the authorities that they had
taken part, perforce, in the attempt to get fruit into the
beleaguered garrison. Daylight was just beginning to break, when
one of the fishermen pointed out a dark mass inshore, but somewhat
ahead of them.

"That is Santa Barbara," he said.

They had already, for some time, made out the outline of the Rock;
and Bob gazed anxiously seaward but could, as yet, see no signs of
the enemy's cruisers.

"Row away, lads," he said. "They won't see us for some time and, in
another half hour, we shall be safe."

The Spaniards bent to their oars with all their strength, now; from
time to time looking anxiously over their shoulders at the fort.
Rapidly the daylight stole across the sky, and they were just
opposite Santa Barbara when a gun boomed out, and a shot flew over
their heads and struck the water, a quarter of a mile beyond them.
With a yell of fear, the two Spaniards threw themselves at the
bottom of the boat.

"Get up, you fools!" Bob shouted. "You will be no safer, down
there, than if you were rowing. If a shot strikes her she will be
smashed up, whether you are rowing or lying down. If you stay
there, it will be an hour before we get out of range of their guns
while, if you row like men, we shall get further and further away
every minute, and be safe in a quarter of an hour."

It was only, however, after he threatened to shoot them, if they
did not set to work again, that the Spaniards resumed their oars;
but when they did they rowed desperately. Another shot from the
fort struck the water a short distance astern, exciting a fresh
yell of agony from the men.

"There, you see," Bob said; "if you hadn't been sending her faster
through the water, that would have hit us.

"Ah! They are beginning from that sloop, out at sea."

This was a small craft that Bob had made out, as the light
increased, a mile and a half seaward. She had changed her course,
and was heading in their direction.

Retaining his hold of his pistols Bob moved forward, put out a
spare oar, and set to to row. Shot after shot came from the fort,
and several from the sloop; but a boat, at that distance, presents
but a small mark and, although a shot went through the sail, none
struck her. Presently a gun boomed out ahead of them, high in the
air; and a shot fell near the sloop, which at once hauled her wind,
and stood out to sea.

"We have got rid of her," Bob said, "and we are a mile and a half
from the fort, now. You can take it easy, men. They won't waste
many more shot upon us."

Indeed, only one more gun was fired by the Spaniards; and then the
boat pursued her course unmolested, Bob returning to his seat at
the helm.

"They will be on the lookout for us, as we go back," one of the
Spaniards said.

"They won't see you in the dark," Bob replied. "Besides, as likely
as not they will think that you are one of the Rock fishing boats,
that has ventured out too far, and failed to get back by daylight."

Once out of reach of the shot from the fort, the sailors laid in
their oars--having been rowing for more than ten hours--and the
boat glided along quietly, at a distance of a few hundred feet from
the foot of the cliff.

"Which are you going to do?" Bob asked them; "take fifty dollars
for your fish, or sell them for what you can get for them?"

The fishermen at once said they would take the fifty dollars for,
although they had collected all that had been brought in by the
other fishermen--amounting to some five hundred pounds in
weight--they could not imagine that fish, for which they would not
have got more than ten dollars--at the outside--at Malaga, could
sell for fifty at Gibraltar.

As they rounded Europa Point there was a hail from above and,
looking up, Bob saw Captain O'Halloran and the doctor.

"Hulloa, Bob!"

"Hulloa!" Bob shouted back, and waved his hat.

"All right, Bob?"

"All right. I have got thirty boxes!"

"Hurrah!" the doctor shouted, waving his hat over his head. "We
will meet you at the New Mole.

"That is something like a boy, Gerald!"

"It is all very well for you," Captain O'Halloran said. "You are
not responsible for him, and you are not married to his sister."

"Put yourself in the way of a cannonball, Gerald, and I will be
married to her a week after--if she will have me."

His companion laughed.

"It is all very well, Teddy; but it is just as well, for you, that
you did not show your face up at the house during the last three
days. It is not Bob who has been blamed. It has been entirely you
and me, especially you. The moment she read his letter, she said at
once that you were at the bottom of it, and that it never would
have entered Bob's mind to do such a mad thing, if you had not put
him up to it; and of course, when I came back from seeing you, and
said that you admitted that you knew what he was doing, it made the
case infinitely worse. It will be a long time before she takes you
into favour again."

"About an hour," the doctor said, calmly. "As soon as she finds
that Bob has come back again, with the fruit; and that he has as
good as saved the lives of scores of women and children; she will
be so proud of him that she will greet me as part author of the
credit he has gained--though really, as I told you, I had nothing
to do with it except that, when I saw that Bob had made up his mind
to try, whether I helped him or not, I thought it best to help him,
as far as I could, to get away.

"Now, we must get some porters to carry the boxes up to your house,
or wherever he wants them sent.

"Ah! Here is the governor. He will be pleased to hear that Bob has
got safely back."

Captain O'Halloran had, when he found Bob's letter in his room on
the morning after he had left, felt it his duty to go to the town
major's office to mention his absence; and it had been reported to
the general, who had sent for Gerald to inquire about the
circumstances of the lad's leaving. Captain O'Halloran had assured
him that he knew nothing, whatever, of his intention; and that it
was only when he found the letter on his table, saying that he had
made up his mind to get beyond the Spanish lines, somehow, and to
bring in a boatload of oranges, for the use of the women and
children who were suffering from scurvy, that he knew his
brother-in-law had any such idea in his mind.

"It is a very gallant attempt, Captain O'Halloran--although, of
course, I should not have permitted it to be made, had I been aware
of his intentions."

"Nor should I, sir," Captain O'Halloran said. "My wife is,
naturally, very much upset."

"That is natural enough," the governor said. "Still, she has every
reason to be proud of her brother. A man could risk his life for no
higher object than that for which Mr. Repton has undertaken this
expedition.

"How do you suppose he got away?"

"I have no idea, sir. He may have got down by ropes, from the back
of the Rock--the way the deserters generally choose."

"Yes; but if he got down without breaking his neck, he would still
have to pass our line of sentries, and also through the Spaniards."

"He is a very good swimmer, general; and may have struck out, and
landed beyond the Spanish forts. Of course, he may have started
from the Old Mole, and swam across to the head of the bay. He is
sure to have thought the matter well out. He is very sharp and, if
anyone could get through, I should say Bob could. He speaks the
language like a native."

"I have heard of him before," the governor said, smiling. "Captain
Langton told us of the boy's doings, when he was away in that
privateer brig; and how he took in the frigate, and was the means
of the brig capturing those two valuable prizes, and how he had
swam on board a Spanish sloop of war. He said that no officer could
have shown greater pluck, and coolness.

"I sincerely hope that no harm will come to him; but how--even if
he succeeds in getting through the Spanish lines--he can manage,
single handed, to get back here in a boat, is more than I can see.
Well, I sincerely trust that no harm will come to him."

As the governor, with two or three of his staff, now came along,
Captain O'Halloran went up to him.

"I am glad to say, sir," he said, "that young Repton has just
returned, and that he has brought in thirty cases of fruit."

"I am extremely glad to hear it, Captain O'Halloran," the governor
said, warmly. "When it was reported to me, an hour since, that the
Spanish fort and one of their cruisers were firing at a small boat,
that was making her way in from the east, the thought struck me
that it might be your brother-in-law.

"Where is he?"

"He is just coming round to the Mole, sir. Doctor Burke and myself
are going to meet him."

"I will go down with you," the governor said. "Those oranges are
worth a thousand pounds a box, to the sick."

The party reached the Mole before the boat came in; for after
rounding the Point she had been becalmed, and the fishermen had
lowered the sail and betaken themselves to their oars again. Bob
felt a little uncomfortable when, as the boat rowed up to the
landing stairs, he saw General Eliott, with a group of officers,
standing at the top. He was relieved when, on ascending the steps,
the governor stepped forward and shook him warmly by the hand.

"I ought to begin by scolding you, for breaking out of the fortress
without leave; but I am too pleased with the success of your
venture, and too much gratified at the spirit that prompted you to
undertake it, to say a word. Captain O'Halloran tells me that you
have brought in thirty cases of fruit."

"Yes, sir. I have ten cases of oranges, and twenty of lemons. I
propose, with your permission, to send half of these up to the
hospitals, for the use of the sick there. The others I intend for
the use of the women and children of the garrison, and townspeople.
Doctor Burke will see for me that they are distributed where they
will do most good."

"Well, my lad, I thank you most cordially for your noble gift to
the troops; and there is not a man here who will not feel grateful
to you, for the relief it will afford to the women and children. I
shall be very glad if you will dine with me, today; and you can
then tell me how you have managed what I thought, when I first
heard of your absence, was a sheer impossibility.

"Captain O'Halloran, I trust that you and Mrs. O'Halloran will also
give me the pleasure of your company, at dinner, today."

"If you please, sir," Bob said, "will you give these two boatmen a
pass, permitting them to go out after dark, tonight. I promised
them that they should not be detained. It is of the greatest
importance to them that they should get back before their absence
is discovered."

"Certainly," the governor said; and at once ordered one of the
officers of the staff to see that the pass was given; and orders
issued, to the officers of the batteries, to allow the boat to pass
out in the dark, unquestioned.

As soon as the governor walked away, with his staff, Bob was
heartily greeted by Captain O'Halloran and the doctor.

"You have given us a fine fright, Bob," the former said, "and your
sister has been in a desperate way about you. However, now that you
have come back safe, I suppose she will forgive you.

"But what about all those fish? Are they yours? Why, there must be
half a ton of them!"

"No; the men say there are five or six hundred pounds.

"Yes, they are mine. I thought of keeping a few for ourselves, and
dividing the rest between the ten regiments; and sending them up,
with your compliments, to their messes."

"Not with my compliments, Bob; that would be ridiculous. Send them
up with your own compliments. It will be a mighty acceptable
present. But you had better pick out two or three of the finest
fish, and send them up to the governor.

"Now then, let us set to work. Here are plenty of porters but,
first of all, we had better get ten men from the officer of the
guard here; and send one off, with each of the porters with the
fish, to the regiments--or the chances are that these baskets will
be a good bit lighter, by the time they arrive there, than when
they start. I will go and ask the officer; while you are getting
the fish up here, and divided."

In a quarter of an hour the ten porters started, each with about
half a hundredweight, and under the charge of a soldier. The doctor
took charge of the porters with the fifteen boxes of fruit, for the
various hospitals; and then--after Bob had paid the boatmen the two
hundred and fifty dollars due to them, and had told them they would
get the permit to enable them to sail again, as soon as it became
dark--he and Captain O'Halloran started for the house, with the men
in charge of the other fifteen boxes, and with one carrying the
remaining fish--which weighed about the same as the other parcels.

"How did you and the doctor happen to be at Europa Point, Gerald?"
Bob asked, as they went along.

"The doctor said he felt sure that whenever you did come--that is,
if you came at all--you would get here somewhere about daylight;
and he arranged with the officer in charge of the upper battery to
send a man down, with the news, if there was a boat in sight.
Directly he heard that the Spaniards were firing at a boat, he came
over and called me; and we went round to the back of the Rock. We
couldn't be sure that it was you from that height but, as we could
make out the boxes, we thought it must be you; and so walked down
to the Point, to catch you there."

"Does Carrie know that a boat was in sight?"

"No, I wouldn't say anything to her about it. She had only just
dropped off to sleep, when I was called. She woke up, and asked
what it was; but I said that I supposed I was wanted on duty, and
she went off again before I was dressed. I was glad she did, for
she hadn't closed her eyes before, since you started."

Carrie was on the terrace when she saw Bob and Gerald, followed by
a procession of porters, coming up the hill. With a cry of joy she
ran down into the house, and out to meet them.

"You bad boy!" she cried, as she threw her arms round Bob's neck.
"How could you frighten us so? It is very cruel and wicked of you,
Bob, and I am not going to forgive you; though I can't help being
glad to see you, which is more than you deserve."

"You mustn't scold him, Carrie," her husband said. "Even the
governor didn't scold him; and he has thanked him, in the name of
the whole garrison, and he has asked him to dine with him; and you
and I are to dine there too, Carrie. There is an honour for you!
But what is better than honour is that there isn't a woman and
child on the Rock who won't be feeling deeply grateful to Bob,
before the day is over."

"Has he really got some fruit?"

"Yes. Don't you see the boxes, Carrie?"

"Oh, I saw something coming along, but I didn't see anything
clearly but Bob. What are these boxes--oranges?"

"Oranges and lemons--five of oranges and ten of lemons--and there
are as many more that have gone up to the hospital, for the use of
the men.

"There, let us see them taken into the storeroom. You can open two
of them at once, and send Manola off with a big basket; and tell
her to give half a dozen of each, with your love, to each of the
ladies you know. The doctor will take charge of the rest, and see
about their division among all the women on the Rock. It will be
quite a business, but he won't mind it."

"What is all this--fish?"

"Well, my dear, you are to take as much as you want; and you are to
pick out two or three of the best, and send them to the governor,
with your compliments; and the rest you can divide and send out,
with the fruit, to your special friends."

"But how has Bob done it?" Carrie asked, quite overwhelmed at the
sight of all those welcome stores.

"Ah, that he must tell you, himself. I have no more idea than the
man in the moon."

"It has all been quite simple," Bob said. "But see about sending
these things off first, Carrie. Doctor Burke will be here, after he
has seen the others taken safely to the hospital; and I shall have
to tell it all over again, then."

"I am very angry with the doctor," Mrs. O'Halloran said.

"Then the sooner you get over being angry, the better, Carrie. The
doctor had nothing whatever to do with my going; but when he saw
that I had made up my mind to go, he helped me, and I am extremely
obliged to him. Now, you may have an orange for yourself, if you
are good."

"That I won't," Carrie said. "Thanks to our eggs and vegetables we
are perfectly well and, when there are so many people really in
want of the oranges, it would be downright wicked to eat them
merely because we like them."

In a short time Manola--with two of the children from downstairs,
carrying baskets--started, with the presents of fruit and fish, to
all the ladies of Carrie's acquaintance. Soon after she had left,
Doctor Burke arrived.

"I was not going to speak to you, Teddy Burke," Mrs. O'Halloran
said, shaking her head at him. "I had lost confidence in you; but
with Bob back again, and all this fruit for the poor creatures who
want it, I will forgive you."

"I am glad you have grace enough for that, Mrs. O'Halloran. It is
down on your knees you ought to go, to thank me, if I had my
rights. Isn't Bob a hero? And hasn't he received the thanks of the
governor? And hasn't he saved scores of lives, this blessed day?
And although it is little enough I had to do with it, isn't it the
thanks of the whole garrison ought to be given me, for even the
little bit of a share I had in it?"

"We have been waiting for you to come, Teddy," Captain O'Halloran
said, "to hear Bob's story."

"Well then, you will have to wait a bit longer," the doctor said. "I
have sent orderlies from the hospital to all the regiments--including,
of course, the Artillery and Engineers--asking them to send me lists of
the numbers of the women and children of the noncommissioned officers
and privates, and also of officers' wives and families; and to send
with the lists, here, two orderlies from each regiment, with baskets. I
have been down to the town major, and got a list of the number of women
and children in the town. When we get the returns from the regiments,
we will reckon up the totals; and see how many there will be, for each.
I think that each of the boxes holds about five hundred."

The work of counting out the oranges and lemons for the various
regiments, and the townspeople, occupied some time; and it was not
until the orderlies had started, with their supplies, that Bob sat
down to tell his story.

"Nothing could have been easier," he said, when he finished.

"It was easy enough, as you say, Bob," the doctor said; "but it
required a lot of coolness, and presence of mind. Events certainly
turned out fortunately for you, but you took advantage of them.
That is always the point. Nobody could have done it better, and
most people would have done worse. I have been wondering myself a
great deal, since you have been gone, what plan you could possibly
hit on to get the oranges into a boat; and how, when you had got
them in, you would manage to get them here. It seems all easy
enough, now you have done it; but that is all the more creditable
to you, for hitting on a plan that worked so well."

Similar praise was given to Bob when he had again to tell his
story, at the governor's.

"So you managed, you say, to slip out with the reliefs?" the
governor said.

"Yes, sir. I had got a military cloak, and hat."

"Still, it is curious that they did not notice an addition to their
party. I fancy you must have had a friend there?"

"That, general, is a point that I would rather not say anything
about. That is the way that I did go out and, when I took to the
water, I let the coat and hat float away for, had they been found,
it might have been supposed that somebody had deserted."

"I wish you could have brought in a shipload, instead of a
boatload, of fruit, Mr. Repton. They will be of immense benefit to
the sick but, unfortunately, there is scarcely a person on the Rock
that is not more or less affected and, if your thirty boxes were
multiplied by a hundred, it would be none too much for our needs."

The oranges and lemons did, however, for a time have a marked
effect in checking the progress of the scurvy--especially among the
children, who came in for a larger share than that which fell to
the sick soldiers--but in another month the condition of those in
hospital, and indeed of many who still managed to do duty, was
again pitiable.

On the 11th of October, however, some of the boats of the fleet
went out, during a fog, and boarded a Danish craft from
Malaga--laden with oranges and lemons--and brought her in. The
cargo was at once bought by the governor, and distributed.

The beneficial effects were immediate. Cases which had, but a few
days before, appeared hopeless were cured, as if by magic; and the
health of the whole garrison was reestablished. Heavy rains setting
in at the same time, the gardens--upon which, for months, great
attention had been bestowed--came rapidly into bearing and,
henceforth, throughout the siege the supply of vegetables, if not
ample for the needs of the garrison and inhabitants, was sufficient
to prevent scurvy from getting any strong hold again.

A few days after the ship with oranges was brought in, an orderly
came in to Captain O'Halloran with a message that the governor
wished to speak to Mr. Repton. Bob was out at the time, but went up
to the castle as soon as he returned, and was at once shown in to
the governor.

Illustration: Bob receives a Commission from the Governor.

"Mr. Repton," the latter began, "after the spirit you showed, the
other day, I shall be glad to utilize your services still farther,
if you are willing."

"I shall be very glad to be useful in any work upon which you may
think fit to employ me, sir."

"I wish to communicate with Mr. Logie, at Tangiers," the governor
said. "It is a month, now, since we have had any news from him. At
the time he last wrote, he said that the Emperor of Morocco was
manifesting an unfriendly spirit towards us; and that he was
certainly in close communication with the Spaniards, and had
allowed their ships to take more than one English vessel lying
under the guns of the town. His own position was, he said, little
better than that of a prisoner--for he was closely watched.

"He still hoped, however, to bring the emperor round again to our
side; as he had, for years, exercised a considerable influence over
him. If he would grant him an interview, Mr. Logie thought that he
might still be able to clear up any doubts of us that the Spaniards
might have infused in his mind. Since that letter we have heard
nothing from him, and we are ignorant how matters stand, over
there.

"The matter is important; for although, while the enemy's cruisers
are as vigilant as at present, there is little hope of our getting
fresh meat over from there, I am unable to give any directions to
such privateers, or others, as may find their way in here. It makes
all the difference to them whether the Morocco ports are open to
them, or not. Until lately, when chased they could run in there,
wait for a brisk east wind, and then start after dark, and be
fairly through the Straits before morning.

"I am very desirous, therefore, of communicating with Mr. Logie. I
am also anxious, not only about his safety, but of that of several
English families there; among whom are those of some of the
officers of the garrison who--thinking that they would be perfectly
safe in Tangiers, and avoid the hardships and dangers of the
siege--despatched them across the Straits by the native craft that
came in, when first the port was closed.

"Thinking it over, it appeared to me that you would be far more
fitted than most for this mission, if you would accept it. You have
already shown yourself able to pass as a Spaniard and, should you
find that things have gone badly in Tangiers, and that the Moors
have openly joined the Spaniards; you might be able to get a
passage to Lisbon, in a neutral ship, and to return thence in the
first privateer, or ship of war, bound for this port. I would of
course provide you with a document, requesting the officer in
command of any such ship to give you a passage. Should no such
neutral ship come along, I should trust to you to find your way
across to Tarifa or Algeciras; and thence to manage in some way,
which I must leave to your own ingenuity, to make your way in.

"I do not disguise from you that the commission is a very
dangerous, as well as an honourable one; as were you, an
Englishman, detected on Spanish soil, you would almost certainly be
executed as a spy."

"I am ready to undertake the commission, sir, and I am much obliged
to you for affording me the opportunity of being of service. It is
irksome for me to remain here, in idleness, when there are many
young officers of my own age doing duty in the batteries. As to the
risk, I am quite prepared to run it. It will be exactly such an
adventure as I should choose."

"Very well, Mr. Repton. Then I will send you the despatches, this
evening; together with a letter recommending you to all British
officers and authorities. Both will be written on the smallest
pieces of paper possible, so that you may conceal them more easily.

"Now, as to the means. There are many of the fishermen here would
be glad to leave. The firing in the bay has frightened the greater
part of the fish away and, besides, the boats dare not go any
distance from the Rock. I have caused inquiries to be made, and
have given permits to three men to leave the Rock in a boat, after
nightfall, and to take their chance of getting through the enemy's
cruisers. It is likely to be a very dark night. I have arranged
with them to take a passenger across to Tangiers, and have given
them permission to take two others with them. We know that there
are many Jews, and others, most anxious to leave the town before
the enemy begin to bombard it; and the men will doubtless get a
good price, from two of these, to carry them across the Straits.

"You will form an idea, for yourself, whether these boatmen are
trustworthy. If you conclude that they are, you can make a bargain
with them, or with any others, to bring you back direct. I
authorize you to offer them a hundred pounds for doing so.

"Come up here at eight o'clock this evening. I will have the
despatches ready for you then. You will understand that if you find
the Moors have become absolutely hostile, and have a difficulty in
getting at Mr. Logie, you are not to run any risk in trying to
deliver the despatches; as the information you will be able to
obtain will be sufficient for me, without any confirmation from
him."

After further conversation, Bob took his leave of the governor. On
his return home, Carrie was very vexed, when she heard the mission
that Bob had undertaken and, at first, it needed all her husband's
persuasions to prevent her going off to the governor's, to protest
against it.

"Why, my dear, you would make both yourself and Bob ridiculous.
Surely he is of an age, now, to go his own way without petticoat
government. He has already gained great credit, both in his affair
with the privateer, and in fetching in the oranges the other day.
This is far less dangerous. Here he has only got to smuggle himself
in, there he had to bring back something like a ton of oranges. It
is a great honour for the governor to have chosen him. And as to
you opposing it, the idea is absurd!"

"I shall go round to Major Harcourt," Bob said. "Mrs. Harcourt is
terribly anxious about her daughter, and I am sure she will be glad
to send a letter over to her."

"Carrie," Captain O'Halloran said gravely, "I have become a sudden
convert to your opinion regarding this expedition. Suppose that
Bob, instead of coming back, were to carry Amy Harcourt off to
England? It would be terrible! I believe that Mr. Logie, as His
Majesty's consul, could perform the necessary ceremony before they
sailed."

Bob laughed.

"I should doubt whether Mr. Logie would have power to officiate, in
the case of minors. Besides, there is an English church, where the
banns could be duly published. No, I think we must put that off,
Gerald."

Amy Harcourt was the daughter of one of the O'Hallorans' most
intimate friends: and the girl, who was about fifteen years old,
was often at their house with her mother. She had suffered much
from the heat, early in June; and her parents had, at a time when
the Spanish cruisers had somewhat relaxed their vigilance, sent her
across to Tangiers in one of the traders. She was in the charge of
Mrs. Colomb, the wife of an officer of the regiment, who was also
going across for her health. They intended to stay at Tangiers only
for a month, or six weeks; but Mrs. Colomb had become worse, and
was, when the last news came across, too ill to be moved.

Major and Mrs. Harcourt had consequently become very anxious about
Amy, the feeling being much heightened by the rumours of the
hostile attitude of the emperor towards the English. Mrs. Harcourt
gladly availed herself of the opportunity that Bob's mission
offered.

"I shall be glad, indeed, if you will take a letter, Mr. Repton. I
am in great trouble about her. If anything should happen to Mrs.
Colomb, her position would be extremely awkward. I know that Mr.
Logie will do the best he can for her but, for aught we know, he
and all the English there may, at present, be prisoners among the
Moors. I need not say how bitterly her father and I have regretted
that we let her go; and yet, it seemed by far the best thing, at
the time, for she would get an abundance of fresh meat, food and
vegetables.

"Of course, you will see how she is situated, when you get there;
and I am sure you will give her the best advice you can, as to what
she is to do. Not knowing how they are placed there, we can do
literally nothing; and you managed that fruit business so
splendidly that I feel very great confidence in you."

"I am sure I shall be glad to do anything that I can, Mrs.
Harcourt; and if it had been a boy, I daresay we could have managed
something between us--but you see, girls are different."

"Oh, you won't find any difficulty with her. I often tell her she
is as much of a boy, at present, as she is a girl. Amy has plenty
of sense. I shall tell her, in my letter, about your going out to
fetch in the fruit for the women and children. She is inclined to
look up to you very much, already, owing to the share you had in
the capture of those Spanish vessels; and I am sure she will listen
to any advice you give her."

"Well, I will do my best, Mrs. Harcourt," Bob said, meekly; "but I
have never had anything to do with girls, except my sister; and she
gives the advice, always, and not me."

"By what she says, Bob, I don't think you always take it," Mrs.
Harcourt said, smiling.

"Well, not quite always," Bob admitted. "Women are constantly
afraid that you are going to hurt yourself, or something, just as
if a boy had got no sense.

"Well, I will do what I can, Mrs. Harcourt. I am sure I hope that I
shall find them all right, over there."

"I hope so, too," Mrs. Harcourt said. "I will see Captain Colomb.
He will be sure to give you a letter for his wife. I shall talk it
over with him and, if he thinks that she had better go straight
home, if any opportunity offers, I shall tell Amy to go with her;
and stay with my sister, at Gloucester, till the siege is over, and
then she can come out again to us. I will bring you down the
letters, myself, at seven o'clock."

From her, Bob went to Dr. Burke.

"I have just come from your house, Bob. I found your sister in a
despondent state about you. I assured her you had as many lives as
a cat; and could only be considered to have used up two or three of
them, yet, and were safe for some years to come. I hinted that you
had more to fear from a rope than either drowning or shooting. That
made her angry, and did her good. However, it was better for me to
be off; and I thought, most likely, that you would be coming round
for a talk.

"So you are going officially, this time. Well, what disguise are
you going to take?"

"That is what I have been thinking of. What would you recommend,
doctor?"

"Well, the choice is not a very extensive one. You can hardly go as
you are because, if the Moors have joined the Spaniards, you would
be arrested as soon as you landed. Gerald tells me that, probably,
two of the Jew traders will go away with you. If so, I should say
you could not do better than dress in their style. There are many
of them Rock scorpions, and talk Spanish and English equally well;
but I should say that you had better take another disguise."

"That is what I was thinking," Bob said. "The boatman will know
that I have something to do with the governor, and the two Jews
will certainly know that I don't belong to the Rock. If they find
that the Moors have joined the Spaniards, these Jews may try to get
through, themselves, by denouncing me. I should say I had better
get clothes with which I can pass as a Spanish sailor, or
fisherman. There are almost sure to be Spanish ships, in there.
There is a good deal of trade between Tangiers and Spain.

"Then again, I shall want my own clothes if I have to take passage
in a neutral, to Lisbon. So I should say that I had better go down
to the town, and get a sort of trader's suit, and a fisherman's, at
one of the low slop shops. Then I will go as a trader, to start
with; and carry the other two suits in a bag."

"That will be a very good plan, Bob. You are not likely to be
noticed much, when you land. There are always ships anchored there,
waiting for a wind to carry them out. They must be accustomed to
sailors, of all sorts of nationalities, in the streets. However, I
hope you will find no occasion for any clothes, after you land, but
your own. The Moors have always been good friends of ours; and the
emperor must know that the Spaniards are very much more dangerous
neighbours than we are, and I can hardly believe he will be fool
enough to throw us over.

"I will go down with you, to buy these things."

Bob had no difficulty in procuring the clothes he required at a
secondhand shop, and then took the lot home with him. Carrie had,
by this time, become more reconciled to what could not be avoided;
and she laughed when Dr. Burke came in.

"You are like a bad penny, Teddy Burke. It is no use trying to get
rid of you."

"Not the least bit in the world, Mrs. O'Halloran. Fortunately, I
know that, however hard you are upon me, you don't mean what you
say."

"I do mean it, very much; but after you are gone I say to myself,
'It is only Teddy Burke,' and think no more of it."

That evening, at nine o'clock, Bob embarked on board the fishing
boat, at the New Mole. One of the governor's aides-de-camp
accompanied him, to pass him through all the guards; and orders had
been sent, to the officers in command of the various batteries,
that the boat was not to be challenged. It was to show a light from
a lantern, as it went along, in order that it might be known. The
other two passengers and the boatmen had been sitting there since
before gunfire, and they were glad enough when Bob came down and
took his seat in the stern, taking the tiller ropes.

The oars had been muffled, and they put off noiselessly. When they
got past Europa Point they found a light breeze blowing, and at
once laid in their oars, and hoisted sail. A vigilant lookout was
kept. Once or twice they thought they made out the hulls of
anchored vessels, but they gave these a wide berth and, when the
morning broke, were halfway across the Strait, heading directly for
Tangiers. In another six hours they entered the port. There were
half a dozen vessels lying in the harbour. Four of these were
flying Spanish colours, one was a Dane, and the other a Dutchman.

From the time morning broke, Bob had been narrowly examining his
fellow passengers, and the boatmen; and came to the conclusion that
none of them were to be trusted. As soon as he stepped ashore, with
his bag in his hand, he walked swiftly away and, passing through
the principal streets, which were crowded with Moors, held steadily
on, without speaking to anyone, until he reached the outskirts of
the town; and then struck off among the hedges and gardens.



Chapter 15: Bob's Mission.


As soon as he found a secluded spot, he stripped off the clothes he
wore and put on those of a Spanish sailor; and then, placing the
others in the bag, buried it in the sandy soil--taking particular
note of its position, in regard to trees and surrounding objects,
so as to be able to find it again. Then he turned to the right, and
skirted the town till he came down to the seashore again; and then
strolled quietly back to the quays. In passing by the ships at
anchor he had noticed the names of the four Spaniards and, after
wandering about for a short time, he entered a wine shop and seated
himself at a table, near one at which three Spanish sailors sat
drinking.

From their talk, he learned that the British were shortly to be
turned out of Tangiers; that the town was to be given up to the
Spaniards; and that the British consul had, the day before, been
taken to Sallee, where the emperor now was. The English in the town
had not yet been made prisoners, but it was believed that they
would be seized and handed over to the Spaniards, without delay.

Having obtained this information, Bob saw that--at any rate, for
the present--he might, if he chose, appear in his own character;
and regretted that he had buried his clothes, before knowing how
matters stood. However, there was no help for it but to go back
again, to the place where he had hidden them. This he did and,
having put on his own clothes, he went straight to the consulate,
which was a large house facing the port. A clerk was sitting in the
office.

"I understand Mr. Logie is away," Bob said.

The clerk looked surprised, for he knew the whole of the small body
of British residents well, and he could not understand how Bob
could have arrived.

"I am the bearer of letters to him, from Governor Eliott," Bob
said. "I came across by boat, and landed two hours ago; but I was
in disguise, not knowing how matters stood here, and have but now
ascertained that, so far, the English are not prisoners."

"Not at present," the clerk said. "But will you come into the
house, sir? We may be disturbed here."

"In the first place," Bob asked, when they were seated in an inner
room, "when do you expect Mr. Logie back, and what is the real
situation? My orders are, if I cannot see Mr. Logie himself, that I
am to obtain as accurate a statement as possible as to how matters
are going on here; as it is important that the governor should be
able to inform vessels sailing from Gibraltar, east, whether they
can or can not put safely into the Moorish ports. Of course, we
know that vessels have been several times taken by the Spaniards,
while at anchor close to the towns; but they might risk that, if
there were no danger from the Moors, themselves. But if the reports
last sent by Mr. Logie are confirmed, the Moors would be openly at
war with us; and would, themselves, seize and make prizes of
vessels anchoring. The danger would, of course, be vastly greater
than that of merely running the risk of capture, if a Spanish
vessel of war happened to come into a port where they were at
anchor. Of course, I am merely expressing the views of the
governor."

"I am sorry to say," the clerk said, "that there is no doubt the
Moors are about to join the Spaniards in formal alliance against
us. Englishmen are liable to insult as they go through the street.
This, however, would not go for much, by itself; but last week a
number of soldiers rushed into the office, seized Mr. Logie,
violently assaulted him, spat upon him, and otherwise insulted
him--acting, as they said, by the express order of the emperor,
himself. He is now practically a prisoner, having been taken under
an escort to Sallee and, at any moment, the whole of the British
colony here may be seized, and thrown into prison; and if you know
what Moorish prisons are, you would know that that would mean death
to most of them--certainly, I should say, to all the ladies."

"But can they not leave, in neutral vessels?"

"No. The strictest orders have been issued against any Englishman
leaving; they are, in fact, so far prisoners, although nominally at
liberty to move about the town.

"I believe that the greater part of the Moors regret, extremely,
the course their emperor has taken. Many have come in here, after
dark, to assure Mr. Logie how deeply averse they were to this
course; for that the sympathies of the population, in general, were
naturally with the English in their struggle against the Spaniards
who had, for all time, been the deadly foe of the Moors.
Unfortunately, the emperor has supreme power, and anyone who
ventured to murmur against his will would have his head stuck up
over a gate, in no time; so that the sympathy of the population
does not count for much."

"How many English are there, altogether?"

"A hundred and four. We made up the list last week. Of course that
includes men, women, and children. There are some ten merchants,
most of whom have one or two clerks. The rest of the men are small
traders, and shopkeepers. Some of them make their living by
supplying ships that put in here with necessaries. A few, at
ordinary times, trade with the Rock in livestock. Half a dozen or
so keep stores, where they sell English goods to the natives."

"I have a mission to discharge to a Mrs. Colomb, or at least to a
young lady living with her."

"Mrs. Colomb, I regret to say, died three weeks ago," the clerk
said. "Miss Harcourt--who is, I suppose, the young lady you
mean--is now, with Mrs. Colomb's servant, staying here. Mr. Logie
had placed them in lodgings in the house of a Moorish trader, just
outside the town; but the young lady could not remain there, alone,
after Mrs. Colomb's death. I will ring the bell, and tell the
servant to inform her that you are here."

Two minutes later, Bob was shown into a large sitting room on the
first floor, with a verandah overlooking the sea.

"Oh, Bob Repton, I am glad to see you!" Amy Harcourt exclaimed,
coming forward impulsively, with both hands held out. "It is
dreadfully lonely here. Mr. Logie is away, and poor Mrs. Colomb is
dead and, as for Mrs. Williams, she does nothing but cry, and say
we are all going to be shut up, and starved, in a Moorish prison.

"But first, how are father and mother, and everyone at the Rock?"

"They are all quite well, Amy; though your mother has been in a
great state of anxiety about you, since she got your letter saying
how ill Mrs. Colomb was. Here is a letter she has given me, for
you."

He handed the girl the letter, and went out on to the verandah
while she read it.

"Mamma says I am to act upon Mr. Logie's advice; and that, if by
any means he should not be in a position to advise me, I am to take
your advice, if Mrs. Colomb is dead."

"I don't think I am in a position to give you advice, Amy. What did
Mr. Logie say about the state of affairs, before he went away?"

"He seemed to think things were going on very badly. You know the
soldiers rushed in here and assaulted him, one day last week. They
said they had orders from the emperor to do so; and Mr. Logie said
they certainly would not have dared to molest the British consul,
if it hadn't been by the emperor's orders. He was talking to me
about it, the day before they took him away to Sallee; and he said
he would give anything, if he could get me away to the Rock, for
that the position here was very precarious; and that the emperor
might, at any moment, order all the English to be thrown into
prison, and I know that the servants expect we shall all be killed,
by the populace.

"They have frightened Mrs. Williams nearly out of her senses. I
never saw such a foolish woman. She does nothing but cry. She is
the wife, you know, of Captain Colomb's soldier servant.

"Well, what do you advise, Bob?"

"I am sure I don't know what to advise, Amy. This seems a regular
fix, doesn't it?"

"But you are just as badly off as I am," she said. "If they seize
everyone else, of course they will seize you, now you are here."

"Oh, I could get away, easily enough," Bob said. "I should dress
myself up as a Spanish sailor. I have got the clothes here, and
should boldly go on board one of the Spanish ships, and take
passage across to any port they are going to; and then manage to
work round into Gibraltar, again. But of course, you can't do
that."

"I couldn't go as a Spanish sailor, of course," the girl said, "but
I might dress up and go, somehow. Anything would be better than
waiting here, and then being thrown into one of their dreadful
prisons. They say they are awful places.

"Do take me, Bob Repton. I do so want to get back to father and
mother again, and I am quite well and strong now--as well as ever I
was."

Bob looked at the girl, with a puzzled expression of face. He had
promised her mother to do the best thing he could for her. The
question was, 'What was the best thing?' It certainly seemed that
the position here was a very perilous one. If he left her here, and
harm befell her, what would her parents say to him? But, on the
other hand, how on earth was he to get her away?

"I tell you what, Amy," he said, after a time. "Who were the ladies
Mrs. Colomb saw most of? I suppose she knew some of the people
here?"

"Oh, yes, she knew several; but she was most intimate with Mrs.
Hamber. She is the wife of one of the principal merchants, and is
very kind. She offered to take me in, when Mrs. Colomb died; but
her husband lives out of the town, and Mr. Logie had promised Mrs.
Colomb that he would look after me, until he could send me
across--besides, Mrs. Hamber's child is very ill, with fever--and
so he brought me here."

"Well, I will go and consult her," Bob said. "I daresay the clerk
downstairs will send a man with me, to show me her house."

Mrs. Hamber listened to Bob's account of his mission; asking a
question now and again, in a straightforward and decided way, which
gave Bob an idea that she was a resolute sort of woman, with plenty
of common sense.

"Well, Mr. Repton," she said, when he had finished, "it is a
difficult matter for anyone but the girl's mother to form an
opinion upon. I remember hearing, from Mrs. Colomb, about your
going out and bringing in fruit when the scurvy was so bad, two
months ago. She had received the news, no doubt, from her husband
and, therefore, it seems to me that you must be a very capable
young gentleman, with plenty of courage and coolness. The fact that
Mrs. Harcourt gave you such a message as she did, regarding her
daughter, shows that she has every confidence in you. If the girl
were a year or two older, I should say it would be quite out of the
question for her to attempt to make her way back to Gibraltar,
under your protection; but as she is still a mere child, and as you
possess her mother's confidence, I don't see that this matters so
much.

"If you are both taken prisoners, there is no reason for supposing
that she would not be treated honourably by the Spaniards. They
must have taken numbers of women, in the vessels they have captured
lately, and I suppose the girl would be placed with them. She
would, at any rate, be far better off in a Spanish prison than in a
Moorish one. Besides, I really consider that all our lives are in
danger, here. After the assault on Mr. Logie, it is just as likely
the emperor may order us all to be massacred, as thrown into
prison; or he might sell us as slaves, as they do at Algiers. There
is no saying. I think that, if I were in the position of the girl's
mother at Gibraltar, I should say that it was better for her to run
the risk of capture, with you; than to remain here, where there is
no saying what may happen--she having every confidence in your
honour, young gentleman."

"I thank you, Mrs. Hamber. I have no idea, at present, what plan I
shall form. I may not see any possible way of getting out but, if I
do, we will certainly attempt it. Major Harcourt belongs to the
same regiment as my brother-in-law, and his wife and my sister are
great friends; which is why, I suppose, she has confidence in me. I
have known Amy, now, for a year and a half; and she is very often
at my sister's. I will take care of her just the same as if she
were a young sister of my own. I don't see how I could go back and
tell her mother that I left her here, with things in the state they
are. I only hope they may not turn out so badly as you fear; and
that, at the worst, the Moors will only hand you over as prisoners
to the Spaniards."

Bob went back to the consulate, and told Amy the result of his
conversation with Mrs. Hamber.

"I consider that has taken the responsibility off my shoulders,
Amy. You referred me to Mrs. Hamber as the lady you knew best here.
She is of opinion that, if she were your mother, she would advise
your trying to get away with me. So, now, we have only to decide
how it is to be done--that is, if you still wish to try."

"Certainly I do," the girl said. "Anything is better than waiting
here; expecting the Moors to rush in, as they did the other day,
and carry one off to prison, or kill one.

"Mr. Parrot--that is the gentleman you saw downstairs--said that
you would stay here, and ordered a room to be prepared for you; and
dinner is ready. I am sure you must be terribly hungry."

Bob remembered, now, that he had had nothing to eat--save some
biscuits on board the boat, and a piece of bread at the wine
shop--since he left Gibraltar, and that he really was desperately
hungry. Amy had already had her dinner; but she sat by him, and
they talked about their friends at the Rock.

"Now," he said, when he had finished, "let us have a regular
council of war. It was my intention to get a passage to Malaga, if
I could, because I know something of the road back from there; but
I could not do that, with you."

"Why not, Bob?"

"Because the voyage is too long. Someone would be certain to speak
to you before you got across and, as you can't talk Spanish, the
cat would be out of the bag, directly. If possible, we must manage
to cross to Tarifa. It is only a few hours across to there, even if
we go in an open boat and, now that the Spaniards are friends with
the Moors, there ought to be no difficulty in getting a passage
across there, or to Algeciras.

"Of course, you can't go as you are," he said, looking at her
rather ruefully.

"No, of course not," she said. "I am not so silly as that. I should
think I had better dress up like a boy, Bob."

"That would be a great deal the best plan, if you would not mind
it," Bob said, greatly relieved that the suggestion came from her.
"It is the only thing that I can think of. There didn't seem any
story one could invent, to account for a Spanish girl being over
here; but a ship's boy will be natural enough. If asked questions,
of course, our story will be that we had been left behind here.
There could be lots of reasons for that. Either we might have been
on shore, and the vessel gone on without us; or you might have been
sent ashore ill, and I might have been left to nurse you. That
wouldn't be a bad story.

"What we must do, when we get to the other side, must depend upon
where we land. I mean, whether we try to get straight in by boat,
or to wait about until a chance comes. Once over there, you will
have to pretend to be deaf and dumb; and then you can dress up as a
Spanish girl--of course, a peasant--which will be much more
pleasant than going about as a boy, and better in lots of ways. So
if I were you, I should take a bundle of things with me, so that we
should have nothing to buy there. It is all very well buying
disguises for myself, but I could never go into a shop to ask for
all sorts of girls' clothes."

Amy went off in a fit of laughter, at the thought of Bob having to
purchase feminine garments.

"It is all very well to laugh," Bob said. "These are the sort of
little things that are so difficult to work in. It is easy enough
to make a general plan, but the difficulty is to get everything to
fit in.

"I will have a talk with Mr. Parrot, in the morning, about the
boats. He will know what boats have been trading with the Rock, and
what men to trust."

"You can talk to him now, if you like," the girl said. "He and Mr.
Logie's other clerk have the top storey of the house."

"Oh, then I will go up and see him, at once; the sooner it is
arranged, the better. If things are in the state that everyone
says, you might all be seized and imprisoned, any day."

Bob went up at once to Mr. Parrot's rooms, and had a long talk with
him. The clerk quite agreed that anything would be better than for
a young girl to be shut up in a Moorish prison, but he did not see
how it was possible for them to find their way across to Gibraltar.

"Many of our fishermen are most courageous fellows, and have run
great risks in taking letters from Mr. Logie across to Gibraltar. I
do not suppose that the blockade is very much more strict than it
was; and indeed, the fact that you got through shows that, with
good luck, the thing is possible enough. But that is not the
difficulty. The strictest order has been issued that no boat is to
take Englishmen across to the Rock, or is to cross the Straits on
any pretence, whatever; and that anyone evading this law will be
executed, and his goods forfeited to the state. That is how it is
Mr. Logie has been able to send no letters, for the last month; and
why none of the merchants, here, have tried to get across to the
Rock. No bribe would be sufficient to tempt the boatmen. It would
mean not only death to themselves, if they ever returned; but the
vengeance of the authorities would fall on their relations, here. I
am afraid that there is nothing to be done, that way, at all."

"There are the three men who brought me across, this morning," Bob
said. "They might be bribed to take us back. The governor
authorized me to offer a hundred pounds. I own that I don't like
their looks."

"You would have some difficulty in finding them, to begin with,"
Mr. Parrot said; "and I don't think a hundred pounds would be
likely to tempt them to run the risk."

"I would not mind giving them two hundred more," Bob said. "I have
got that money, of my own, at Gibraltar; and I am sure, if it were
necessary, Major Harcourt would gladly pay as much more to get his
daughter back."

"Three hundred would be ample. If they would not run the risk for a
hundred apiece, nothing would tempt them. I should say your best
plan would be to go down, early tomorrow, and see if you can find
one of them. They are likely to be loitering about by the quays, as
they have their boat there.

"The question is, are they to be trusted? They know that you have
been sent out by the governor, and that you are here on some
special business; and they may very well think that the Spaniards
will give a higher reward, for you, than you can give to be taken
back. They will, by this time, know of the order against boats
crossing; and might betray you to the Moors. If you were going by
yourself, of course, you could take all sorts of risks; but with
this young lady under your protection, it would be different."

"Yes, I see that, Mr. Parrot. Rather than run any risk, I should
prefer being put ashore at any Spanish port, by one of the ships in
the harbour. If you give me the name of any Spanish merchantman who
was here, say, a fortnight ago; my story that we were left behind,
owing to one of us being ill, would be so simple that there need be
no suspicion, whatever, excited. Tarifa or Algeciras would, of
course, be the best places, as we should only be on board a few
hours; and Miss Harcourt could very well pretend to be still ill
and weak, and could lie down in a corner, and I could cover her up
with a blanket till we got there.

"Once across, I don't so much mind. Even if we were detected, we
should simply be two fugitives from here, trying to make our way to
Gibraltar; and I don't think there would be any question of my
being a spy. We should probably be sent to wherever they keep the
English prisoners they have taken in ships; and there would be
nothing very dreadful in that, even for her. We should probably be
exchanged, before long. There have been several batches sent in to
the Rock, in exchange for prisoners taken in prizes brought in by
privateers."

"Well, I really think that that would be the best way, Mr. Repton.
As you say, there will be nothing very dreadful in detention for a
while, with the Spaniards; while there is no saying what may happen
here. If you like, I will send one of the consulate servants out,
the first thing in the morning, to inquire what ports the Spanish
craft are bound for, and when they are likely to sail. They seldom
stop more than two or three days, here. Most of them are taking
livestock across for the use of the Spanish army and, though
Algeciras would be an awkward place for you to land at because, if
detected there, you would be more likely to be treated as a spy;
still, in a busy place like that, no one would notice a couple of
young sailors, and it would be no great distance for you to walk
over to Tarifa, or any of the villages on the Straits.

"But how do you propose to get in from there? That is what seems to
me the great difficulty."

"Well, I got in before," Bob said, "and do not think that there
ought to be much difficulty in getting hold of a boat. If I did, I
should sail round the Point and, keeping well outside the line of
cruisers, come down on the coast the other side of Gibraltar; and
so work along at night, just as I did before. If I found it
absolutely impossible to get a boat, of course, I could not--with
the girl with me--try to swim across from the head of the bay to
the Rock; which is what I should have done, had I been alone. So I
should then go to the authorities and give myself up; and say that,
being afraid that the Moors intend to massacre all the English at
Tangiers, I had come across with this young lady, who is the
daughter of an officer of the garrison, to put her into Spanish
hands; knowing that there she would receive honourable treatment,
till she could be passed in at the next exchange of prisoners."

"I think that would be your very best course to pursue, unless you
find everything turn out just as you would wish, Mr. Repton."

When Bob came down in the morning, he at once went into the office
below; and Mr. Parrot told him that one of the Spanish craft would
start for Algeciras, at noon.

"Then I must ask you to send one of the servants out, to buy some
clothes such as are worn by a Spanish sailor boy, Mr. Parrot. I
have my own suit upstairs, and will go off and arrange for a
passage across, directly after breakfast."

"I will see to it," Mr. Parrot said. "The ship's decks will be
crowded up with cattle. She is a small craft, and I hear she will
take as many as can be packed on her deck. She is alongside now,
taking them in. There is not much likelihood of any attention,
whatever, being paid to you and your companion."

Amy turned a little pale, when Bob told her that the attempt was to
be made at once; but she said bravely:

"I am glad there is to be no waiting. I do so long to be out of
this town. I daresay I shall be a little nervous at first, but I
shall try not to show it; and I sha'n't be really frightened, for I
know that you will take care of me."

As soon as breakfast was over, Bob changed his things and went down
to the quay. He stopped at the vessel taking cattle on board. She
was a polacre brig, of about a hundred and fifty tons. The captain
was smoking a cigar, aft; while the mate was seeing to the storing
of the cattle. Bob went on board, and told his story to the
captain.

"I was left behind in charge of a cabin boy from the Esmeralda, a
fortnight ago. The boy had fever, and the captain thought it might
be infectious, and put him ashore; but he soon got well. We want to
be taken across, as our friends live not many miles from Tarifa. We
will pay a dollar, apiece, for our passage."

The captain nodded.

"Be on board by noon; we shall not be a minute later."

Bob went ashore, and told Amy that everything was arranged, without
the slightest difficulty. He then went down to inspect the clothes.

"They will do very well," he said, "except that they are a great
deal cleaner than anything ever seen on a Spanish sailor. Those
canvas trousers will never do, as they are."

He accordingly took some ashes, and rubbed them well into the
canvas; got some grease from the kitchen, and poured two or three
large patches over the trousers.

"That is more like it," he said. "The shirt will do well enough,
but there must be a patch or two of grease upon the jacket, and
some smears of dirt, of some kind."

When he had done them to his satisfaction, he took them upstairs.

"What horrid, dirty looking things!" Amy exclaimed, in disgust.

"They are clean enough inside, child. They are quite new; but I
have been dirtying them, outside, to make them look natural.

"You must be dressed by half past eleven, and you can tuck your
hair up under that red nightcap; but you must manage to dirty your
face, neck, and hands. You really ought to have some brown stain,
but I don't suppose it is to be got. I will speak to Mr. Parrot."

"There is no stain, that I know of," Mr. Parrot said; "but I know
Mr. Logie paints a little. I think you will find a box of colours,
upstairs. If you mix some Vandyke brown in water, and paint her
with it, and let it dry on, I should think it would do very well;
though of course, it wouldn't stand washing."

Bob found the paintbox, and soon mixed some paint. At half past
eleven Amy came into the room, laughing a little shyly.

"That will do very well," Bob said, encouragingly, "except that you
are a great deal too fair and clean.

"Look here, I have been mixing some paint. I think a wash of that
will make all the difference. Now, sit down while I colour you.

"That will do capitally!" he said, when he finished. "I think, when
it dries, it will be just about the right shade for a Spanish
sailor boy.

"Have you got your bundle?

"That is right. Now here is my bag, and a couple of black Moorish
blankets. I will bring Mr. Parrot up, to say goodbye.

"Have you told your servant?"

"No, I said nothing to her about it. She would make such a terrible
fuss, there would be no getting away from her. We must ask Mr.
Parrot to tell her, after the vessel has set sail."

Mr. Parrot pronounced the disguise excellent, and said that he
should not have the slightest suspicion that she was anything but
what she seemed to be. Amy felt very shy, as she sallied out with
Bob; but she gained courage as she saw that no one noticed her.

When they arrived at the brig, the cattle were nearly all on board.
Bob led the way across the gangway, and went up on to the
fo'castle. There he laid one of the blankets down against a
stanchion; wrapped Amy in the other, so that her face was almost
hidden; and told her to sit down and close her eyes, as if weak or
asleep. Then he took up his post beside her.

In a quarter of an hour the last bullock was on board. The gangway
was at once hauled in, the hawsers thrown off, and the sails let
drop and, in another minute, the vessel was gliding away from the
wharf. The wind was nearly due west, and the sheets were hauled in
as she was headed across the Straits. It was half an hour before
the sailors' work was all done. Several of them came up on to the
fo'castle and began twisting cigarettes, and one at once entered
into conversation with Bob.

"Is the boy ill?" he said.

"Yes, he has been ill, but is better now. It would have been better
if he could have stopped a few days longer, but he was pining to
get home. He won't have far to go when we get to Algeciras and, no
doubt, I shall be able to get him a lift in some cart that will be
bringing provisions to the camp."

The talk at once turned on the siege, the sailors expressing their
certainty that the Rock would soon be taken. Bob had moved away
from Amy, as if to allow her to sleep, undisturbed by the
conversation.

"There is a brig running down the Straits, at a good speed," one of
the sailors said, when they were half way across. "It is a nice
breeze for her."

Bob looked at the craft. She was about a mile away, and by the
course they were steering--almost at right angles--would come very
near to them. There was something familiar in her appearance, and
he looked at her intently, examining every sail and shroud. Then
doubt became certainty, as his eye fell upon a small patch in one
of the cloths of the topgallant sail.

It was the Antelope. One of the Spanish shot had passed through the
topgallant sail and--as that was the only injury that sail had
received--the bit had been cut out, and a fresh one put in, before
she sailed again from Gibraltar. She was flying Spanish colours.

His heart beat fast. Would she overhaul them, or pass without
taking notice of them--seeing that the polacre was a small one, and
not likely to be a valuable prize?

The vessels approached each other quickly. The course the Antelope
was taking would carry her some length or two behind the Spaniard.
Bob hesitated whether to hail her, as she came along. If his hail
was not heard he would, of course, be detected, and his plans
entirely spoilt; and with the wind blowing straight across, and he
in the bow, it would be by no means certain that his hail would be
distinguished. Suddenly, to his delight, when the brig was within a
hundred yards of the polacre he saw her head come up, while the
crew began to haul upon the sheets.

An exclamation of surprise and alarm broke from the Spaniards as,
in another minute, the Antelope was running parallel with them, a
cable's length to windward. Then the portholes were opened, and
eight guns run out. The Spanish flag was run down and the British
hoisted to the peak; and a summons to strike their flag shouted to
the Spaniards. As the latter carried only four small guns,
resistance was out of the question. The Spanish flag was lowered
and, in obedience to the gesticulations, rather than the words, of
an officer on board the English brig, the halliards were thrown
off, and the sails came down with a run.

The Spanish sailors were frantic with rage, swearing by all the
saints in the calendar. Bob had moved, at once, across to Amy.

"Lie still, Amy. We are going to be captured by an English ship. It
is the same privateer that I was in before. Don't make any sign,
until they come on board. In the fury that these Spaniards are in,
they might stick their knives into us, if they knew we were
English."

The brig had been thrown up into the wind as soon as the polacre's
sails had been lowered and, in three minutes, a boat came
alongside. Then Joe Lockett, followed by half a dozen sailors armed
with pistol and cutlass, scrambled on board.

"Now, follow me, Amy," and, descending the ladder, Bob made his way
along the narrow gangway between the lines of cattle, and then
mounted to the poop.

"Well, Joe, how are you?"

The first mate of the Antelope started back, in astonishment.

"Why, Bob Repton!" he exclaimed. "What on earth are you doing here,
masquerading as a Spanish sailor?"

"I am trying to get across to Gibraltar," he said.

"Why, is this fellow bound for Gibraltar? In that case we have not
got a prize, as we fancied."

"She is a fair prize, Joe; she is bound for Algeciras. I was going
to make my way in from there, as best I could."

"That is all right then. What has she got on board?"

"Nothing beyond these cattle, and some vegetables, I expect; but
they are worth a lot of money, on the Rock."

"Well, you will be able to tell us all about things, Bob. I will
hail the captain to send Crofts on board, with a dozen men to take
charge, here; and then I will take you on board."

"I have a friend here," Bob said, turning to Amy, who was standing
timidly behind him, "so you must take him with me."

"All right!" Joe said, carelessly.

In five minutes, Bob stood again on the deck of the Antelope, and a
hearty greeting was exchanged between him and Captain Lockett.

"Before I tell you anything, Captain, which cabin am I to have? I
will tell you why, afterwards. I suppose it will be my old one?"

"Yes; that is our one spare cabin, Bob. But I don't know why you
are in such a hurry about it."

"I will tell you presently," Bob laughed, and led the way below.

"There, Amy," he said, "you can go in there, and put on your own
things again. I thought it would be more comfortable, for you, for
them not to know it until you are properly dressed, in your own
clothes. You have brought a frock, of course?"

"Yes; I thought I had better bring one, in case we should be made
prisoners."

"That is all right. When you are dressed, come upon deck. I will
explain all about it, before you appear."

Bob, as briefly as possible, told his story to Captain Lockett and
Joe; who were much amused to find that Bob's friend was a young
lady.

"You are coming out in quite a new light, Bob, as a squire of
dames. But I won't laugh at you, now; I want to hear the last news.
I overhauled that craft, not so much to capture her, as to get the
last news. There were reports, before I started, that the Moors
were joining the Spaniards, and that their ports were closed to us;
and what you say confirms that. That was one of the points I wanted
to know, as I could not tell whether I could run in there safely,
were I chased. Now, as to getting into the Rock, are their cruisers
active, at present?"

"Well, there are lots of them about. I think your best plan will be
to run in close to the Point, and hold on as if you were going into
Algeciras. In that way, they won't suspect you. Then, when you get
right up the bay, haul across to the town. The wind is in your
favour, because you will have to tack to work up the bay and, if
you make pretty long tacks, they won't suspect you, when you start
across, until you have got pretty well away and, with this breeze,
there will be no chance of their catching you before you are under
our guns."

"That seems hopeful enough. At any rate, we will try it. I will
send six more men on board the polacre. They will want to be handy
with her sails. I will go myself, and give Crofts orders. He had
better keep ahead of us for, if we are chased by their gunboats, we
can protect him."

Just as sail was again got up, and the two vessels were under way,
Amy Harcourt came on deck; and was soon laughing and chatting
merrily with the captain. At four in the afternoon they rounded the
Point, the polacre a few hundred yards ahead, and both flying
Spanish colours. There were several Spanish cruisers, and some
gunboats, outside them; but these paid no attention to their
movements, and both beat up the bay, keeping close into the Spanish
shore, but holding somewhat farther out, at each tack.

"Now," Captain Lockett, said when they were within half a mile of
Algeciras, "we will run out this tack. There are two gunboats in
our way, I see, but we must take our chance of them.

"Go and wave a handkerchief from the bow, Joe. Mr. Crofts will be
on the lookout for the signal."

The two vessels held away on the port tack. As the polacre
approached the gunboats, a sudden bustle was observed on board
them.

"They begin to smell a rat," Captain Lockett said.

"Hoist the topgallant sails," for the brig had been under easy
sail, to enable her to hold her place with the polacre.

The men were already at quarters, and the ports were opened and the
guns run out. Just as the gunboat nearest the polacre--finding the
hail, for her to bring to, unheeded--fired a shot into her, the
brig's head paid off, and she poured a broadside into the two
gunboats. One of them was struck amidships. For a minute there was
great confusion on board, and then she made for her companion,
evidently in a sinking condition.

Several shots were now fired from the forts but, though they fell
near, the brig was uninjured. The second gunboat did not venture to
attack so formidable an opponent and, half an hour later, the
Antelope and her prize dropped anchor off the Mole.

Bob had already run down and put on his usual clothes, and he and
Amy were at once rowed ashore, and made their way to Major
Harcourt's quarters. The delight of Amy's father and mother, as she
rushed into the room, was extreme. Bob did not enter with her, but
left her to tell her own story; and proceeded straight to the
governor's, to whom he reported the state of affairs at Tangier.

"It is bad news," the governor said. "However, I am extremely
obliged to you, for the valuable service that you have rendered
and, as I had the pleasure of before doing, when you brought in the
oranges, I shall place your name in the orders of the day for
having, as a volunteer, rendered signal service by carrying
despatches, at great risk, across to the Barbary coast."

Bob then returned home. Captain Lockett had already been to the
house, and informed the O'Hallorans of his arrival.

"There you see, Carrie," Bob said, after his sister's first
greetings were over; "there was nothing to have been so terribly
alarmed about."

"It isn't because you got through it safely, Bob, that there was no
danger," his sister replied. "It was a very foolish thing to do,
and nothing will change my opinion as to that.

"Captain Lockett tells me you brought Amy Harcourt back with you,
dressed up as a boy. I never heard of such a thing, Bob! The idea
of a boy like you--not eighteen yet--taking charge, in that way, of
a young girl!"

"Well, there was nothing else to do, Carrie, that I could see. I
went to Mrs. Hamber, who was Mrs. Colomb's most intimate friend,
and asked her opinion as to what I had better do; and she advised
me to get Amy away, if I possibly could do so. I can't see what
difference it makes, whether it is a boy or a girl. It seems to me
that people are always so stupid about that sort of thing."

Carrie laughed.

"Well, never mind, Bob. Amy Harcourt is a very nice girl. A little
too boyish, perhaps; but I suppose that is natural, being brought
up in the regiment. I am very glad that you have brought her back
again, and it will be an immense relief to her father and mother.
Her mother has been here three or four times, during these two days
you have been away; and I am in no way surprised at her anxiety.
They will be in here this evening, certainly, to thank you."

"Very well; then I shall be round smoking a cigar, with the
doctor," Bob said. "I am very glad to have been of use to them, and
to have got Amy back again; but I don't want to be thanked, and you
tell them so. I hate being made a fuss about."

And so, beyond a warm grasp of the hand, on the part of Major
Harcourt; and two or three words of hearty thanks, on that of his
wife, the next time they met; Bob escaped any expression of
gratitude. But the occurrence drew the two families together more
closely, and Amy often came round with her father and mother, in
the evening; and there were many little confidential talks between
Carrie and Mrs. Harcourt.

It was some time before the anxiety as to the fate of the English
inhabitants, at Tangier, was allayed. They were, at the beginning
of December, forced to remove to Marteen, a few miles from
Tetuan--abandoning their houses and all their property, which was
estimated at the value of sixty thousand pounds--and, three days
afterwards, were handed over as prisoners to the Spaniards. They
were then put on board a ship, and taken to Algeciras--where they
were kept, for nearly a month, prisoners on board ship--but were,
on the 11th of January, 1781, sent across to Gibraltar.

The next five months passed slowly and heavily. Occasionally,
privateers and other craft ran through the blockade of the Spanish
cruisers, and succeeded in getting into port. Some of these brought
wine and sugar--of both of which the garrison were extremely
short--and occasionally a few head of cattle and other provisions.
All of these were sold by public auction, the governor considering
that to be the fairest way of disposing of them.

On the 12th of April another great convoy, under Admiral Darby,
entered the port. It consisted of about a hundred merchantmen,
under the protection of a powerful fleet. The joy of the garrison
and inhabitants was intense although, among the latter, this was
mingled with a certain feeling of uneasiness. Deserters had at
various times brought in reports that, should Gibraltar be again
relieved, it was the purpose of the Spaniards to bombard the town.
Hopes were entertained that so wanton an act of cruelty would not
be carried out, for the entire destruction of the town would not
advance, in the smallest degree, the progress of the siege.

At a quarter to eleven, just as the van of the convoy came to an
anchor off the New Mole, Fort San Philip opened fire upon the town
and, at the signal, the whole of the batteries in the forts and
lines followed suit. A hundred and fourteen guns and mortars rained
their shot and shell upon the town, and the guns of the batteries
of the garrison at once responded.

Several of the officers of the 58th, and their wives, had come up
to Captain O'Halloran's to enjoy, from the terrace, the view of the
great convoy entering the port. All were in the highest spirits, at
the thought of the abundant supplies that would now be at their
disposal; and in the belief that the Spaniards, seeing that the
garrison was again amply provisioned, would abandon the siege,
which had now lasted for twenty-two months. Suddenly there came
upon the air the deep sound of the guns of San Philip, followed by
a prolonged roar as the whole of the Spanish batteries opened fire.
The hum of shot could be heard, followed by the explosion of
shells, the fall of masonry, and screams and cries.

"The bombardment has begun, at last!" Captain O'Halloran exclaimed.

The greatest consternation reigned among the ladies. Several of
them had left children in their quarters and, although the barracks
were so placed as to be, to a great extent, sheltered from the
enemy's fire from the land side, they were still terribly anxious
as to their safety. Two of them had, like the O'Hallorans, quarters
in the town itself; and the husbands of these ladies, accompanied
by Captain O'Halloran and Bob, at once set out to bring the
children up to the house, which was perfectly sheltered.

The scene in the town was a pitiful one. Men, women, and children
were flying, in the wildest alarm, towards the gate looking south;
and thence out to the huts that the more prudent ones had erected,
many months before, near Europa Point. Shot and shell were raining
down, while chimneys and portions of masonry fell clattering in the
streets. Sick people were being carried out, on doors or planks;
and most of the inhabitants were laden with what few articles of
value they could snatch up, at the first alarm. The children were
soon brought up to the O'Hallorans' and then, for a time, there was
nothing to do but to listen to the roar of artillery.

The officers and Bob ascended the Rock, to a point near one of the
batteries, whence they could command a view of the Spanish lines.
The flashes of smoke were bursting forth almost incessantly; but
were answered shot for shot from the English batteries, which had
already almost silenced the San Carlos Battery, which mounted a
large number of mortars, and against which the fire of the English
guns was concentrated.

Between one and two o'clock the Spanish fire abated, and soon
ceased altogether. The inhabitants took advantage of the lull to
hurry back to their houses, whence they removed the lighter and
more portable articles; but the heavy stores--of which it now
appeared many of them had large quantities concealed--they were, of
course, unable to take away.

The discovery of these stores excited much indignation among the
troops. The inhabitants had been constantly representing themselves
as reduced to the last point of hunger, and had frequently received
provisions from the scanty supplies of the garrison; and the
soldiers were exasperated on finding that, all this time, they
possessed great stores of wine, flour, and other articles; which
they were hoarding to produce, and sell, when prices should rise to
even more exorbitant heights than they had already reached.

At five o'clock the enemy's batteries opened again; and the firing
continued, without intermission, all that night. As several
casualties had taken place, in the barracks and quarters; marquees
were, on the following morning, served out to all the officers
whose quarters were exposed to fire, and these were pitched near
Europa Point, as were also a large number of tents for the use of
the inhabitants.

A considerable body of troops were kept under arms, near the
northern gate, in case the Spaniards should attempt to make an
assault under cover of their fire; and five hundred officers and
men were told off, to assist in the work of getting the supplies up
from the wharves, as fast as they were landed from the transports.

The bombardment continued during the whole of the next two days.
The mortars still poured their shells upon the town; but the guns
were now directed at our batteries, and their fire was remarkably
accurate.

On the 14th the unloading parties were increased to a thousand men,
and strong detachments of troops were told off to extinguish the
fires in the town; as the enemy were now discharging shell filled
with a composition that burned with great fury, igniting everything
with which it came in contact. The troops engaged upon this duty
were not long in broaching the casks of wine found, in such
abundance, in many of the ruined houses. For two years they had
been living almost entirely on salt provisions, and wine had been
selling at prices vastly beyond their means. It was scarcely
surprising, then, that they should take advantage of this
opportunity.

The stores were practically lost, for the whole town was crumbling
to pieces beneath the fire of the enemy's mortars, and was on fire
in several places; and little, if any, of the liquor and stores
consumed could, in any case, have been saved. However, for a time
insubordination reigned. The troops carried off liquor to their
quarters, barricaded themselves there, and got drunk; and it was
two or three days before discipline was restored. Up to this time
the conduct of the soldiers had been most exemplary, and they had
borne their prolonged hardships without a murmur; and this outbreak
was due as much to a spirit of revenge against the inhabitants, for
hiding away great stores of provisions and liquor, with a view to
making exorbitant profits, as from a desire to indulge in a luxury
of which they had been so long deprived.

On the 15th the enemy's fire was hotter than ever; and the guns
were withdrawn from our batteries, as they produced but little
effect upon the Spanish batteries, and the men working them
suffered a good deal from the besiegers' fire. Two officers were
dangerously wounded, in one of the casemates of the King's Bastion;
and the fire was so heavy, around some of the barracks, that all
the troops who could not be disposed of, in the casemates and
bomb-proofs, were sent out of the town and encamped southward and,
the next day, all the women and children who had gone with their
husbands and fathers into the casemates were also removed, and
placed under canvas. All this gave incessant work to the troops,
for there was no level ground upon which the tents could be pitched
and, as it was therefore necessary to level all the ground into
terraces, it was some days before the camps were ranged in anything
like order.

Each day the enemy sent out their gunboats to harass the
merchantmen, but these were always driven back by the guns of the
fleet. On the 17th the besiegers' shells set fire to the Spanish
church, which had been used as a storehouse. Strong parties were
sent down to remove the provisions, which consisted largely of
barrels of flour. These were carried up and piled, so as to afford
protection to the casemates, which had been frequently entered by
the enemy's shots--several men having been killed there. They
proved a valuable defence; and afforded, moreover, great amusement
to the soldiers who, whenever a barrel was smashed by a shell,
carried off the contents and quickly converted them into pancakes,
until so many casks had been emptied that the whole structure came
toppling down.

On the 18th a shell came through the arch of one of the casemates,
killing two and wounding four men and, in consequence, a good many
more of the troops were sent under canvas.

On the 20th the work of unloading the greater portion of the
transports was completed; and the admiral, who was most anxious to
take advantage of the easterly wind, that was blowing, to sail out
of the Straits, gave the signal for departure. Many of the
merchantmen, whose cargoes were consigned to merchants and traders
on the Rock, carried them back to England; as the merchants, having
no place, whatever, in which to store goods--for the town was now
almost entirely destroyed--refused to accept them. The transports,
with ordnance stores, were brought in behind the New Mole to be
discharged at leisure; while several colliers were run close in,
and scuttled, so that their cargoes could be removed as required.

A great many of the inhabitants, and of the officers' wives and
families, embarked on board the fleet before it left. The enemy's
fire still continued very heavy; and their guns and mortar boats,
on the 23rd, came boldly out and opened fire upon the working
parties, who were stacking the barrels and stores at the south end
of the Rock. The wife of a soldier was killed, and several men
wounded.

On the 26th the governor determined sternly to repress the
drunkenness that still prevailed, owing to the soldiers going down
among the ruins of the town, where they occasionally discovered
uninjured casks of wine. An order was therefore issued, on that
day, that any soldier convicted of being drunk, asleep at his post,
or marauding, should be immediately shot.

On the 27th a convoy of twenty ships, in charge of the Brilliant
and three other frigates, came in from Minorca; where the governor
had ordered provisions to be purchased, in case the convoy expected
from England did not arrive. The arrival of these ships largely
added to the stores at the disposal of the garrison.



Chapter 16: A Cruise In The Brilliant.


While the bombardment continued, Bob had been constantly occupied.
He had, some time before, put down his name as a volunteer for
service, if required; and he and several others, who had similarly
enrolled themselves, had been appointed to assist in looking after
the removal of the soldiers' wives and children to the tents
erected for them, and to seeing to their comfort there. He had also
been in charge of bodies of labourers, employed by the governor in
the work of levelling the ground and transporting stores.

Captain O'Halloran was constantly away on duty and, soon after the
bombardment began, it was found necessary to drive the whole of the
poultry into the lower part of the house; the Spaniards retaining
only one room for their own accommodation. Had not this step been
taken, the chickens would speedily have been stolen by marauders
as, in the absence of Captain O'Halloran and Bob, there was no one
to protect them. After the issue of the governor's proclamation,
discipline was speedily restored, and there was no longer any
occasion to keep them under shelter.

The bombardment was followed by heavy rains, which caused very
great discomfort to the troops. The water, pouring in torrents down
the face of the hills, swept away the newly raised banks; and
brought down the tents, the soldiers having to turn out in the
wet--and as the troops, owing to their heavy duties, were only one
night out of three in bed, the discomfort and annoyance were very
great. Great quantities of the provisions, too, were damaged; as
these were all stacked in the open air, with no other covering than
that afforded by the sails of the colliers, which were cut off and
used for the purpose. Until the end of the month the downfall of
rain was incessant, and was accompanied with heavy storms of
thunder and lightning. The batteries required constant repair, and
the labours of the troops were very severe.

Since the departure of Admiral Darby's fleet, the enemy appeared to
have given up all hopes of compelling the place to surrender by
hunger. The convoy from Minorca had not been interfered with and,
on the 2nd of May, two native craft came in from Algiers with
sheep, wine, and brandy, unmolested by the enemy's cruisers.

The enemy's fire had never entirely ceased, since the commencement
of the bombardment, and now amounted to about fifteen hundred
rounds, every twenty-four hours; the gunboats generally coming out,
every day, and sending their missiles into the town and
batteries--the latter being specially the mark of the enemy's land
guns, which reached even the highest batteries on the Rock. All
through May and June the enemy's fire continued; dropping, towards
the end of the latter month, to about five hundred shot and shell a
day. The gunboats were specially annoying, directing their fire
against the south end of the Rock, and causing great alarm and
distress among the fugitives from the town encamped there.
Occasionally they directed their fire towards the houses that had
escaped the fire of the land batteries; and several shot and shell
fell near the O'Hallorans' but, fortunately, without hitting the
house.

The volunteers had now been released from duty, and Bob was free to
wander about as he pleased. As, since his exploit in fetching in
the fruit, he had become known to every officer in the garrison; he
was a privileged person, and was able to enter any of the
batteries, and to watch the effects of their fire against the
enemy's forts and lines. He often spent the day on board the
Brilliant. At the end of June the frigate went away for a
fortnight's cruise, and the captain invited Bob to accompany them.

"We shall all expect great things from you, Mr. Repton. As you
managed to capture some fifty thousand pounds' worth of prizes,
when you were on board that privateer brig, you ought to put the
frigate into the way of taking at least four times as much."

"It is easy to turn a brig into anything, Captain Langton; but
there is no making one of His Majesty's frigates look other but
what she is. The mere sight of your topsails is enough to send
every Spanish craft into port."

For three or four days the frigate sailed along the coast; keeping
well out during the day, and closing with the land in the evening.
Two or three small coasters were picked up by the boats, but they
were scarcely worth sending into Gibraltar. On the fifth day a
large barque was seen, making in from the south. All sail was made,
but the barque had the weather gage and, crossing her, ran into the
shore and anchored under the shelter of a battery.

"That would be a prize worth having, Bob," Jim Sankey said. "I
wonder what she has got on board? Perhaps she is like that craft
you captured, choke-full of lead and silver, from Lima."

"I think I can tell you what she is full of," Bob, who had been
examining her through a glass he had borrowed from the third
lieutenant, replied.

"How do you mean you can tell, Bob? She has not got her bill of
lading stuck upon her broadside, I suppose?"

"She has not, Jim. But I can tell you, without that."

"Well, what has she got on board?"

"She has got a very strong crew, Jim, and twenty-four guns."

"Why, how on earth did you know that, Bob?" he asked, staring at
his friend in surprise.

"Because, Jim, I have been on board, and counted the guns. That is
the craft I swam off to, nearly two years ago. You hunted for her,
then, you know; but I suppose she had gone into one of the ports.
But that is her, I can almost swear.

"I don't know whether there is a better glass than this on board
but, if there is, I should be glad to have a look through it. Yet I
feel certain, without that. Her stern is of rather peculiar shape,
and that stern gallery looks as if it was pinched out of her,
instead of being added on. We particularly noticed that, when we
were sailing with her. I can't be mistaken about it."

"I think the captain ought to know, then," Jim said. "I will speak
to Mr. Rawdon. He is in charge of the watch."

Jim went up on to the quarterdeck, touched his hat, and informed
the second lieutenant what Bob had told him. Mr. Rawdon went up at
once to the captain, who was talking to the first lieutenant, and
examining the barque and battery through his glass.

"Mr. Sankey has reported to me, sir, that Mr. Repton is very
strongly of opinion that the barque, there, is the Spanish ship of
war he boarded by night, just after the beginning of hostilities.
He told us about it, sir, and we spent two or three days in looking
for her."

"Of course I remember," the captain said. "Have the kindness to
pass the word for Mr. Repton to come aft."

Bob soon stood before the captain.

"Mr. Rawdon tells me that you are of opinion that the barque, in
there, is the disguised Spanish sloop you boarded, two years ago?"

"Yes, sir, I am almost sure of it; but I should like to have
another look at her, through your glass, before I speak with
certainty."

The captain handed his glass, which was a remarkably good one, to
Bob.

"That is her," Bob said, after a minute's examination. "I could
swear to her, anywhere;" and he then pointed out, to the captain,
the peculiarities he had noticed.

"I can make out her figurehead, too," he said. "It is a saint,
though I don't know what saint; but if you notice, sir, you will
see that, instead of standing nearly upright, he leans much more
forward than usual. I remember the captain saying he looked as if
he was going to take a header. So with that, and the stern gallery,
there is no possibility of mistaking her."

The captain again examined the barque through his glass.

"Yes, I notice both the points you mention. Well, I am much obliged
to you for the news. It is very important. I was thinking of
cutting her out, tonight; and should have fallen into the same
error you so nearly did, in the privateer."

Bob bowed and retired.

"We should have caught a tartar, Mr. Lyons, if we had sent the
force we were talking about to cut her out; but I think we must
have her, somehow."

"I hope so, sir. We have had a very dull time of it; with nothing
to do but to exchange shots, occasionally, with those gunboats; and
to get under sail, now and then, to escort some craft or other into
port. The navy hasn't done much to boast of, during this siege; and
it has been very hard on us, being cooped up there in Gibraltar,
while the fleet all over the world are picking up prizes, and
fighting the French and Spanish. Why, we haven't made enough prize
money, in the last two years, to pay for pipe clay and powder."

"Yes, we all feel that, Mr. Lyons. We have certainly been terribly
out of luck. That privateer Mr. Repton was on board did more, in
her week's cruise, than all His Majesty's ships in Gibraltar have
done, in the last two years.

"We must take that craft, inshore, if we can. There is no doubt she
is ably commanded, for she is so well disguised that we never
suspected her for a moment; therefore there is not the least chance
of our catching her napping. She is a formidable craft to cut out
with the boats, even if she hadn't the aid of the battery."

"There is no doubt about that, sir. I think Mr. Repton reported,
before, that she carried twenty-four guns, and all heavy metal. As
far as I can make out, with the glass, the battery mounts twelve
guns."

"Yes, that is the number. Besides, you see, we dare not take the
frigate in nearer than a mile; and a mile and a quarter would be
safer. So that we could not be of any assistance, beyond annoying
the battery with long shot. It seems to me that there is only one
chance."

"What is that, sir?"

"We must land a strong party, some distance along the shore; and
make an attack upon the battery, and carry it by surprise. I can
make out some huts behind it. I suppose they wouldn't have less
than a hundred soldiers there--perhaps a hundred and fifty. If we
can drive them off, and capture the battery, we can open fire down
upon the ship. At that distance, we could fairly sweep her deck
with grape.

"The rest of our boats would be lying ahead and astern of her and,
as soon as the battery opened, they could make a dash for her. The
crew of the barque would be so disorganized, by the fire of the
battery, that they should hardly be able to make very much of a
fight of it."

"That seems a capital plan, sir. The only question is the number of
hands. Suppose you send eighty to take the battery; we should only
have as many more to spare, for the boat attack on the ship; and
that would leave us with only a hundred, on board. I should think
she would carry a fighting crew of two hundred, at least. These
Spaniards are always very strongly manned."

"I should think that would be about it. They are long odds, but not
too long, I think, Mr. Lyons. At any rate, we will try.

"Lay her off the land, Mr. Lyons, then we will go into my cabin,
and make all the arrangements."

There was much talk and excitement among the crew, for the general
opinion was that the captain would try to cut out the craft lying
under the Spanish battery. The navy had, for a long time, been very
sore at their inactivity; and had fretted that no attempts had been
made to cut out the Spanish vessels, across the bay. The admiral
had steadily set his face against all such attempts, considering
that the benefits to be gained did not justify the risks; for, had
any of his small squadron been damaged, or sunk, by the guns of the
batteries, the consequences would have been very serious, as the
Spanish gunboats would then have been able to carry on their
operations, without check, and it would have been next to
impossible for vessels to run the blockade.

The information Bob had given was soon known to all the officers,
and was not long before it permeated through the crew, and added to
their anxiety to cut the Spaniard out; for although the prize money
would be less than if she had been a richly laden merchantman, the
honour and glory was proportionately greater. The undertaking would
be a serious one, but the prospect of danger is never deterrent to
a British sailor.

There was great satisfaction when, presently, it became known that
the crews of the whole of the boats were to muster. Arms were
inspected, cutlasses ground, and everything prepared. It was early
in the morning when the Spanish barque had been first discovered;
and ten o'clock when the frigate had sailed away from land, as if
considering the Spanish craft too strongly protected to be
attacked. When five miles away from land, her course was laid east
and, under easy sail, she maintained the same distance on the
coast.

The plan of operations was that the first lieutenant, with thirty
marines and as many sailors, should land at a spot some two miles
from the battery; and should make their way inland, and come down
upon the position from the rear. A hundred men, in the rest of the
boats, should make for the barque, direct. This party was to act in
two divisions, under the second and third lieutenants, respectively;
and were to lie, one to the east and the other to the west of the
barque, and remain there until the guns of the battery opened upon
her. Then they were to row for her at all speed; a blue light being
burned, by each division, when they were within a hundred yards of
the enemy, as a warning to their friends in the battery; who were then
to fire round shot, instead of grape. The frigate was to venture in as
closely as she dared, anchor broadside on, and open fire at the enemy.

Jim Sankey was told off to the landing party, and Bob went up to
the captain, and requested leave to accompany him, as a volunteer.

"You see, sir," he said, "we may fall in with peasants, or be
challenged by sentries, as we approach the battery, and my ability
to speak Spanish might be an advantage."

"It would, undoubtedly," the captain said. "Well, Mr. Repton, I
shall be very glad to accept your services."

At four in the afternoon, the frigate's head was again turned west
and, at ten o'clock, the boats for the landing party were lowered
and, the men taking their places in them, rowed away for the shore,
which was some two miles distant. The night was dark; but Mr. Lyons
had with him a pocket compass and had, before embarking, taken the
exact bearings of the battery, from the spot where they would land.
He was therefore able to shape his course to a point half a mile in
its rear.

The strictest silence had been enjoined, and the little body of
sailors made their way inland, until they came upon a road running
parallel with the shore. They followed this for about half a mile,
and then struck off inland, again. The country was highly
cultivated, with orchards, vineyards, and orange groves. Their
progress was slow; for they had, many times, to cut a passage
through the hedges of prickly pear. At last, they reached a spot
where they believed themselves to be directly behind the battery.
Here there was a path, leading in the direction which they wished
to follow.

In a quarter of an hour they made out some lights ahead of them,
and the lieutenant halted his men, and again repeated the orders
they had before received.

"You are to go straight at the huts. As you approach them you are
to break up into parties of ten, as already formed. Each party is
to attack one hut, cut down all who resist, seize and carry away
all arms. Never mind the men, if you have once got their arms. They
cannot trouble us, afterwards. Waste no time but, directly you have
got all the firelocks in one hut, make for another. As soon as all
have been cleared out, make for the battery.

"Now, let the officers told off to command parties each fall in, at
the head of his ten men.

"Mr. Repton, you will keep beside me, to answer a challenge."

They were within fifty yards of the huts when a sentinel
challenged:

"Who goes there?"

"Soldiers of the king," Bob answered, in Spanish, "with
reinforcements for you."

"Halt till I call an officer," the sentry said.

But the lieutenant gave the word, and the whole party dashed
forward at a run. The sentry hesitated in surprise, for a moment,
and then discharged his piece. The sailors gave a cheer, and rushed
at the huts. Taken utterly by surprise, the Spaniards at first
offered no resistance, whatever, as the sailors rushed in. Indeed,
few of them attempted to get out of bed. The blue lights, with
which one man in each party was provided, were lighted as they
entered; and the arms were collected without a moment's delay, and
they were off again before the Spaniards were fairly awake to what
had happened.

There were ten huts, each containing twenty men. Two or three shots
were fired, as they entered the last two huts; but the Spaniards
were overpowered in an instant, as they were here vastly
outnumbered. The officers were made prisoners and, ten men being
placed over them, the rest of the force, now carrying three muskets
each, ran down into the battery. The sentries here threw down their
arms, at once, and were allowed to go where they pleased.

"Pile the arms you have captured!" Lieutenant Lyons ordered. "Run
the ramrods down them, and see if they are loaded. The Spaniards
are not likely to rally but, if they do, we can give them a hot
reception.

"Now, gunner, break open the magazine, there, and load with grape."

By this time the drum was beating to arms, in the vessel below--the
shots fired having given the alarm--and lights were seen to flash
along the deck. In two minutes the guns were loaded; and these
opened with a fire of grape upon the deck of the vessel, which was
near enough to be distinctly seen, by the glare of the blue lights.
As the first gun was fired, an answering flash came from sea, as
the frigate also opened fire. For five minutes the guns were worked
fast, then two lights burst out in close succession, ahead and
astern of the barque.

"Cease firing grape. Load with round shot!" the lieutenant shouted
but, a moment later, a loud cheer broke from the sailors as, by the
lights in the boats, the Spanish ensign was seen to run up to the
peak of the barque, and then at once to fall again to the deck. The
barque had surrendered.

"Now, gunner, spike the guns," the lieutenant ordered, "and then
tumble them off the carriages."

This was soon done.

"Now let each man take one of the muskets, and throw the rest of
them over the parapet down the rocks.

"That is right. Now, fall in!"

The sailors fell in, and marched back to the huts. The Spanish
officers were placed in the midst, and twenty men were told off to
fire the huts. This was soon done. The lieutenant waited until they
were well alight, and then gave the order to march. They took the
coast road, this time, for two miles; and then struck off to the
shore and saw, a few hundred yards away, the lantern that had been
hoisted on one of the boats, as a signal.

They were challenged by the boat keeper, who had moored the boats
twenty yards from the shore. A cheer broke out, as the answer was
given. The grapnels were pulled up, and the boats were soon
alongside. The party, embarking, rowed out in the direction where
they knew the frigate to be and, as soon as they were fairly out
from the shore, they saw the three lights she had hoisted as a
signal. In half an hour they were alongside.

"I need not ask if you have succeeded, Mr. Lyons," the captain
said, as the boats came up, "for we have seen that. You have not
had many casualties, I hope?"

"Only one, sir. One of the marines has a ball in his shoulder.
There were only five or six shots fired, in all, and no one else
has as much as a scratch."

"I am truly glad to hear it," the captain said. "It has been a most
successful surprise. I don't think the boats can have suffered,
either."

"I don't think there was a shot fired at them, sir," the lieutenant
said. "The Spaniard ran up his colours and dropped them again,
directly the boats showed their lights. I fancy they must have
suffered very heavily from our fire. You see, they were almost
under our guns, and we must have pretty well torn up their decks."

"We shall soon hear," the captain said. "The boats are towing the
Spaniard out. She will be alongside in a few minutes."

The wind had entirely dropped now and, in a short time, the
Spaniard was brought close alongside the frigate, and Mr. Rawdon
came on board to report.

"The ship is the San Joaquin, mounting twenty-four guns, with a
crew of two hundred and twenty men, sir. Her casualties are very
heavy. The men had just poured up on deck, it seems, when the
battery opened fire. The captain, first lieutenant, and fifty-six
men are killed, and there are forty-three wounded. We have no
casualties. Their flag came down, just as we got alongside."

"Then, as far as we are concerned," the captain said, "this is one
of the most bloodless victories on record. There will be no death
promotions this time, gentlemen, but I am sure you won't mind that.
It has been a most admirably managed affair, altogether; and I am
sure that it will be appreciated by my lords of the admiralty.

"You will take command of her at present, Mr. Lyons, with the crew
now on board. Dr. Colfax and his assistant will go off with you, to
attend to the wounded, and will remain on board until we get into
Gibraltar.

"Mr. Rawdon, you will be acting first, and I can only say that I
hope you will be confirmed."

The frigate and her prize at once sailed for Gibraltar. On their
arrival there, the captain took some pains--by sending up larger
yards, and by repainting the broad white streaks showing the
portholes--to restore the prize to its proper appearance as a ship
of war.

"We should not get half so much credit for her capture, if you took
her into Portsmouth looking like a lubberly merchantman," the
captain said to Mr. Lyons. "I don't care about patching up all
those shot holes in the bulwarks. That gives her the appearance of
having been taken after a sharp action, and the deck looks almost
like a ploughed field.

"I shall give you fifty men, Mr. Lyons, I can't spare more than
that."

"That will do, sir. Nothing smaller than ourselves is likely to
interfere with us and, if a large frigate engaged us, we should not
have more chance with a hundred men on board than with fifty. In
that case we shall have to trust to our legs. Of course, if we fall
in with two or three of the enemy's ships, I should run up the
Spanish flag. I will find out if I can, from the prisoners, what is
her private number. If I hoist that, and a Spanish flag, it ought
to deceive them. I will get her back to England, if possible, sir."

"You will, of course, take home my report, Mr. Lyons. It is sure to
give you your step, I think."

Next day the San Joaquin sailed and, six weeks later, a sloop of
war brought despatches to the admiral. Among them was a letter from
the admiralty to Captain Langton, expressing their gratification at
the very able arrangements by which he had captured and silenced a
Spanish battery; and cut out the sloop of war, San Joaquin,
anchored under its guns, without any loss of life. It was, they
said, a feat almost without parallel. They stated that they had, in
accordance with his recommendation, promoted Mr. Lyons to the rank
of commander; and they confirmed Mr. Rawdon in rank of first
lieutenant, the third lieutenant becoming second, and the senior
passed midshipman, Mr. Outram, being promoted to that of third
lieutenant.

No change of any importance had taken place at Gibraltar, during
the absence of the Brilliant; except that the governor had
determined to retaliate for the nightly annoyance of the gunboats
and, accordingly, six guns were fixed at a very considerable
elevation behind the Old Mole, and shells fired from them. These
reached the enemy's camp; and caused, as could be seen from the
heights, great alarm and confusion. It was determined that in
future, when the enemy's gunboats bombarded our camps and huts, we
should retaliate by throwing shells into their camp.

The day after the Brilliant returned the Helena, sloop of war--with
fourteen small guns--was seen working in towards the Rock. The
wind, however, was so light that she scarcely moved through the
water. Fourteen Spanish gunboats came out to cut her off. For a
time she maintained a gallant contest, against odds that seemed
overwhelming; although the garrison gave her up as lost. But when
the wind suddenly freshened, she sailed through her opponents into
the port; where she was received, with ringing cheers, by the
soldiers lining the batteries.

Week after week passed in minor hostilities. There was a constant
exchange of fire between our batteries and those of the enemy. The
gunboats continued their operations; and we, in return, shelled
their camp. Fresh works were erected, on both sides. Casualties
took place almost daily, but both troops and inhabitants were now
so accustomed to the continual firing that they went about their
ordinary avocations, without paying any attention to the shot and
shell, unless one of the latter fell close at hand.

November came in and, in spite of the heavy fire maintained by our
batteries, the enemy's works continually advanced towards the Rock;
and when, in the middle of the month, it was seen that the new
batteries were being armed and placed in readiness to open fire,
the governor determined to take the offensive. Accordingly, after
gunfire on the evening of the twenty-sixth, an order was issued for
all the grenadier and light infantry companies--with the 12th, and
Hardenberg's Regiment--to assemble, at twelve o'clock at
night--with a party of Engineers, and two hundred workmen from the
line regiments--for a sortie upon the enemy's batteries. The 39th
and 59th Regiments were to parade, at the same hour, to act as
support to the attacking party. A hundred sailors from the ships of
war were to accompany them. The attacking party numbered 1014 rank
and file, besides officers and noncommissioned officers. This was
exclusive of the two regiments forming the supports. The attacking
force was divided into three columns.

At a quarter to three in the morning, the column moved out. The
enemy's pickets discovered the advance, as soon as it passed the
outlying work known as Forbes' Barrier and, after firing, fell
back. Lieutenant Colonel Hugo's column, which was in front, pushed
on rapidly; and entered the enemy's lines without opposition, when
the pioneers began to dismantle the work. Hardenberg's Regiment and
the central column attacked and carried the tremendous work known
as the San Carlos Battery. The enemy were unable to withstand, for
a moment, the fierce attack of the troops and, in a very short
time, the whole of the advanced works were in our hands.

The leading corps formed up, to resist any attempt the enemy might
make to repel the sortie; and the working parties began to destroy
the enemy's work. Faggots dipped in tar were laid against the
fascines and gabions and, in a short time, columns of fire and
smoke rose from all parts of the works occupied. In an hour, the
object of the sortie was effected. Trains were laid to the
magazines, and the troops fell back. Just as they reached the town,
the principal magazine blew up, with a tremendous explosion.

The enemy appeared to have been wholly confounded, at this sudden
attack upon their advanced works--the fugitives from which created
a panic throughout the whole army--and although the main Spanish
lines, mounting a hundred and thirty-five heavy pieces of
artillery, were but a few hundred yards behind the works attacked,
not a single shot was fired at the troops engaged. The batteries
continued burning for three days and, when they ceased to smoke,
nothing but heaps of sand remained of the works that had cost the
enemy months of labour to erect.

It was some days before the Spaniards appeared to come to any
definite conclusion as to their next step. Then large numbers of
men set to work, to reestablish their batteries; and things fell
into their old routine, again. Every day shots were exchanged,
occasionally. Vessels made their way in and out; being sometimes
briskly chased by the enemy's gunboats, sometimes passing in with
little interference--for, by this time, the Spaniards must have
recognized that there was no hope, whatever, of reducing Gibraltar
by blockade. There was a great deal of sickness in the garrison;
but comparatively little of this was due to scurvy, for every
available corner of ground was now cultivated, and the supply of
vegetables--if not absolutely sufficient to counteract the effects
of so long and monotonous a diet of salt meat--was yet ample to
prevent any serious outbreak of scurvy recurring.

In February, fresh activity was manifested among the besiegers.
Vast numbers of mules were seen, bringing fascines to their works.
At the end of March the Vernon store ship arrived and, a few hours
later, four transports with the 97th Regiment, under the convoy of
two frigates, came in.

A singular series of casualties was caused by a single shot, which
entered an embrasure in Willis's Battery, took both legs off two
men, one leg off another, and wounded another man in both legs;
thus four men had seven legs taken off, or wounded, by one shot.
These casualties were caused by the inattention of the men to the
warning of a boy who was looking out for shot. There were two boys
in the garrison whose eyesight was so keen that they could see the
enemy's shot coming, and both were employed in the batteries
especially exposed to the enemy's fire, to warn the men to withdraw
themselves into shelter, when shot were coming.

This quickness of eyesight was altogether exceptional. Standing
behind a gun--and knowing, therefore, the exact course the shot
will take--it is comparatively easy for a quick-sighted man to
follow it; but there are few, indeed, who can see a shot coming
towards them. In this respect, the ear is a far better index than
the eye. A person possessed of a fair amount of nerve can judge, to
within a few yards, the line that a shot coming towards him will
take. When first heard, the sound is as a faint murmur; increasing,
as it approaches, to a sound resembling the blowing off of steam by
an express engine, as it rushes through a station. At first, the
keenest ear could not tell the direction in which the shot is
travelling but, as it approaches, the difference in the angle
becomes perceptible to the ear, and a calm listener will
distinguish whether it will pass within twenty or thirty yards, to
the right or left. It would require an extraordinary acute ear to
determine more closely than this, the angle of flight being so very
small, until the shot approaches almost within striking distance.

The garrison had been trying experiments with carcasses and red-hot
shot. A carcass is a hollow shot, or shell, pierced with holes; but
instead of being charged with powder, to explode it either by means
of a fuse or by percussion, it is filled with a fierce-burning
composition so that, upon falling, it will set on fire anything
inflammable near it. Red-hot shot are fired by putting a wet wad in
over the dry wad, next to the powder. The red-hot shot is then run
into the gun, and rammed against the wet wad; and the gun fired in
the usual way. The carcasses several times set fire to the enemy's
works, but the use of the red-hot shot was reserved for a pressing
emergency. A number of furnaces were constructed, in the various
batteries, for heating the shot; which necessarily required a
considerable amount of time, to bring them to a white heat.

News came, in April, that great preparations were making, at Cadiz
and other Mediterranean ports, for a fresh and vigorous attack on
Gibraltar; and that the Duc de Crillon--who had lately captured
Minorca--would bring twenty thousand French and Spanish troops, in
addition to those at present engaged in the siege; that a large
fleet would also be present, and that the principal attack would be
made by means of ships turned into floating batteries, and
protected by an immense thickness of cork, or other wood.

On the 9th of May, the ships began to arrive. Among them were seven
large vessels, which appeared to be old men-of-war. A large number
of workmen immediately went on board them, and began to lower the
topmasts. This confirmed the news in respect to the floating
batteries.

About this time, three store ships fortunately arrived from
England, with powder, shell, and other stores. As there could be no
longer any doubt that the attack was, this time, to be delivered on
the sea face; strong working parties were employed in strengthening
the water batteries, in erecting lines of palisades, to prevent a
landing from boats, and in building furnaces for the heating of
shot in these batteries, also. At this time the Engineers began to
drive a gallery through the Rock, facing the neutral ground, in
order to place guns there. This work was carried on to the end of
the siege, and the batteries thus erected are now among the
strongest of the defences of Gibraltar.

At the end of the month a great fleet, consisting of upwards of a
hundred sail, entered the bay and anchored off Algeciras. Some nine
or ten thousand troops were landed and, from that time, scarce a
day passed without fresh vessels, laden with stores and materials
for the siege, arriving in the bay.

Early in May twelve gunboats, that had been sent out in pieces from
England, were completed and launched. Each carried one gun, and was
manned by twenty-one men. Six of these drew their crews from the
Brilliant, five from the Porcupine, and one from the Speedwell,
cutter. These craft had been specially designed for the purpose of
engaging the enemy's gunboats, and for convoying ships into the
port.

On the 11th of June a shell from the enemy burst, just at the door
of one of the magazines of Willis's Battery. This instantly blew
up, and the explosion was so violent that it seemed to shake the
whole Rock. Fourteen men were killed, and fifteen wounded, and a
great deal of injury done to the battery; but strong parties at
once set to work to repair it. A few days later a French convoy of
sixty sail and three frigates anchored in the bay and, from these,
another five thousand French troops landed.

At the end of the month the Duc de Crillon arrived, and took
command of the besiegers. A private letter, that was brought in by
a privateer that had captured a merchantman, on her way, gave the
garrison an idea of the method in which the attack was to be made.
It stated that ten ships were to be fortified, six or seven feet
thick, with green timber bolted with iron, and covered with cork,
junk, and raw hides. They were to carry guns of heavy metal, and to
be bombproof on the top, with a descent for the shells to slide
off. These vessels, which they supposed would be impregnable, were
to be moored within half gunshot of the walls with iron chains; and
large boats, with mantlets, were to lie off at some distance, full
of troops ready to take advantage of occurrences; that the mantlets
of these boats were to be formed with hinges, to fall down to
facilitate their landing. There would, by that time, be forty
thousand men in camp, but the principal attack was to be made by
sea, to be covered by a squadron of men-of-war with bomb ketches,
floating batteries, gun and mortar boats, etc.; and that the Comte
D'Artois--brother to the King of France--with other great
personages, was to be present at the attack.

At this time the enemy fired but little, and the garrison were able
to turn their whole attention to strengthen the points most
threatened. The activity of the enemy on their offensive works on
the neutral ground continued and, in one night, a strong and lofty
work, five hundred yards long, with a communication thirteen
hundred yards long to the works, was raised. It was calculated that
ten thousand men, at least, must have been employed upon it; and no
less than a million and a half sandbags used in its construction.

There could be no doubt, now, that the critical moment was
approaching; and that, ere long, the garrison would be exposed to
the most tremendous fire ever opened upon a besieged place.



Chapter 17: The Floating Batteries.


In spite of the unremitting work, of the daily cannonade, of
illness and hardship, life on the Rock had not been unpleasant to
the O'Hallorans. Although many of the officers' wives had, at one
time or another, taken advantage of ships sailing from the port to
return home--or rather, to endeavour to do so, for a considerable
number of the vessels that left were captured by the Spaniards,
before getting through the Straits--there still remained sufficient
for agreeable society; and the O'Hallorans' was, more than any
other house, the general meeting place.

From its position in the hollow, it was sheltered from the fire of
all the shore batteries--whose long distance shots searched all the
lower parts of the Rock--while the resources of the establishment
enabled the O'Hallorans to afford an open-handed hospitality that
would have been wholly beyond the means of others. They had long
since given up selling any of their produce, distributing all their
surplus eggs among families where there was illness, or sending
them up to the hospitals; and doing the same with their chickens,
and vegetables. The greatest care was bestowed upon the poultry,
fresh broods being constantly raised, so that they could kill eight
or ten couple a week, and still keep up their stock to its full
strength. Thus, with gatherings two evenings a week at their own
house, and usually as many at the houses of their friends; while
Captain O'Halloran and Bob frequently dined at the mess of their
own, or other regiments, the time passed pleasantly.

While Carrie was fully occupied with the care of the house, and a
general superintendence of what they called their farm; Bob was
never at a loss for amusement. There was always something to see,
some fresh work being executed, some fresh development in the
defences; while he was on terms of friendship with almost every
officer in the garrison. It was two years and a half since he had
come out, and he was now eighteen. His constant intercourse with
people older than himself, and with the officers of the garrison,
together with the exceptional position in which he found himself,
made him in some respects seem older than he was; but he still
retained his liveliness, and love of fun. His spirits never
flagged, and he was a general favourite with all who knew him.

On the 19th of August, a boat with a flag of truce brought in a
complimentary letter from the Duc de Crillon to the governor,
informing him of the arrival of the Comte D'Artois and the Duc de
Bourbon in his camp, and sending him a present of ice, fruit,
partridges, and other delicacies. The governor returned a letter in
similar complimentary terms, thanking the Duke for his letter and
the presents; but declining with thanks the supplies that had been
offered, saying that he never received, for himself, anything
beyond what was common to the garrison.

The sailors of the ships of war now pitched tents ashore, for their
use when they should be ordered to land to take part in the
defence; and the heavy guns were, for the most part, moved down
from the upper batteries to the sea lines. Day after day passed,
the bombardment being constantly expected; but the damage
inflicted, by fire, on the enemy's works by our carcasses delayed
the attack.

On the 8th of September a tremendous fire was suddenly opened, with
red hot shot and carcasses, upon the enemy's works. The Mahon
Battery was burned, while the San Carlos and San Marten Batteries
were so damaged that they had almost to be rebuilt. The enemy, as
on previous occasions, showed extreme bravery in their efforts to
extinguish the fire and to repair damages; and it was afterwards
known that the French troops, alone, had a hundred and forty killed
and wounded. The damage done probably convinced the Duc de Crillon
that no advantage could be hoped for by trying further to increase
his works and, at half past five next morning, a volley of sixty
shells was fired by their mortar batteries, followed by the
discharge of one hundred and seventy pieces of heavy artillery.

This tremendous fire was kept up for some time, while nine
line-of-battle ships, supported by fifteen gun and mortar boats,
passed to and fro along the sea face, pouring in their fire upon
us. At nightfall the enemy's guns ceased firing, but their mortars
kept up their shell fire all night. The next day the ships of war
renewed their attack, as did the land batteries. In the course of
the day the Brilliant and Porcupine frigates were scuttled by the
navy, alongside the New Mole, and their crews landed.

On the following day the enemy's fire was principally directed
against the barrier and chevaux de frise in front of the land port
and, in the afternoon, these barriers and palisades were all in
flames; and the troops at that end of the Rock got under arms, in
case an attack should be made.

On the morning of the 12th the combined fleets of France and Spain,
consisting of thirty-eight men-of-war, three frigates, and a number
of smaller craft, sailed into the bay and anchored near Algeciras.
Their fleet now consisted of forty-seven men-of-war, ten battering
ships--considered invincible, and carrying two hundred and twelve
guns--and innumerable frigates and small ships of war; while on the
land side were batteries mounting two hundred heavy guns, and an
army of forty thousand men. Tremendous odds, indeed, against a
fortress whose garrison consisted of seven thousand effective men,
including the Marine Brigade.

For some days past Bob had been engaged, with their landlord and
some hired labourers, in bringing in earth and filling up the lower
rooms four feet deep, in order to render the cellars bomb proof.
Some beds and furniture were taken below, so that Carrie, the
servants, and the Spanish family could retire there, in case the
enemy's shells fell thickly round the house.

It was noticed as a curious incident that, just as the combined
fleet entered the bay an eagle, after circling round it, perched
for a few minutes upon the summit of the flag post, on the highest
point of the Rock; an omen of victory which would have been
considered decisive, by the Romans, and which did, in fact, help to
raise the spirits and confidence of the garrison.

On the morning of the 13th the enemy's battering ships got under
way, with a gentle breeze from the northwest and, at a little past
nine o'clock anchored, in admirable order, in line of the sea face.
The nearest was about nine hundred yards from the King's Bastion,
the most distant being about eleven hundred yards. Not a shot was
fired before the enemy anchored, and then the whole of the
batteries that commanded them opened fire, to which the battering
ships and the artillery in their lines at once replied.

Bob was standing on the roof of the house, with his sister.

"What a magnificent sight, Carrie!" he exclaimed. "It is well worth
all the waiting, to be here to see it."

"It is terrible!" Carrie said. "It is like one great roar of
thunder. How awfully the men must be suffering, in the batteries!"

"I don't suppose it is as bad as it looks," Bob said. "At any rate,
you needn't be uneasy about Gerald. All the troops except those
working the guns are in shelter, and won't be called out unless the
enemy attempt to land.

"I wonder their fleet don't come across, to help their batteries. I
suppose they are afraid of the carcasses, and red hot shot.

"Well, there is one comfort, Carrie: none of their shot are coming
this way. Their floating batteries, evidently, are firing only at
our batteries by the water. As to the others, we know that we are
safe enough from them though, certainly, the shot do make a most
unpleasant noise as they fly overhead.

"I wish there was a little more wind, to blow away the smoke, so
that we could see what effect our fire is having on those hulks. I
shouldn't think that we had begun with red hot shot, yet. It takes
three hours to get them hot enough. As far as I can see, whenever
the wind blows the smoke away a little, our shot and shell roll off
the roofs and sides, without doing any damage to speak of."

About noon the enemy's mortar boats and ketches attempted to come
across, and assist their battering ships; but the wind had changed
and had worked round to the southwest, blowing a smart breeze and
bringing in a heavy swell, so that they were prevented from taking
part in the action. Our own gunboats were hindered, by the same
cause, from putting out and opening a flanking fire upon the
battering ships.

The northern batteries, by the water, suffered heavily from the
fire of the Spanish lines; which took them in flank and, indeed,
some of the batteries in reverse, causing many casualties. The
Artillery, however, refused to let their attention be diverted from
the battering ships.

By two o'clock the furnaces had heated the shot in all the
batteries and, although some of them had been firing these missiles
for upwards of an hour, it was not until two that their use became
general. Soon afterwards--when the wind cleared away the smoke from
the ships--men could be seen on their sloping roofs, directing
streams of water from the pumps upon small wreaths of smoke that
curled up, here and there. Up to this time, the defenders had begun
to fear that the craft were indeed as invulnerable as the Spaniards
believed them to be; but these evidences that the red hot shot were
doing their work greatly roused their spirits, and cheers
frequently rose, as the men toiled at their heavy guns.

As the afternoon went on, the smoke from the upper part of the
Spanish admiral's flagship rose more and more thickly and, although
numbers of men continued to bring up and throw water over the
roof--working with extraordinary bravery, in spite of the hail of
projectiles poured upon them--it was clear that the fire was making
steady progress.

Bob had, long before this, gone down to the works by the sea
face--where considerable bodies of troops were lying, in the
bombproof casemates, in readiness for action if called upon--and
from time to time he went out with Captain O'Halloran, and other
officers, to see how matters were going on.

In sheltered places behind the batteries, some of the surgeons were
at work; temporarily binding up the wounds of artillerymen struck
with shell, or splinters; after which they were carried, by
stretcher parties of the infantry, up to the hospitals. Dr. Burke
was thus engaged, in the battery where his regiment was stationed.
He had, since the first bombardment commenced, ceased to complain
of the want of opportunities for exercising himself in his
professional work; and had been indefatigable in his attendance on
the wounded. Among them he was an immense favourite. He had a word,
and a joke, for every man who came under his hands; while his
confident manner and cheery talk kept up the spirits of the men. He
was, too, a very skilful operator; and many of the poor fellows in
hospital had urgently requested that, if they must lose a limb, it
should be under the hands of Dr. Burke.

"It is much better to make men laugh, than to make them cry," he
would say to Bob. "It is half the battle gained, when you can keep
up a patient's spirit. It is wonderful how some of them stand pain.
The hard work they have been doing is all in their favour."

Bob several times went out to him, and assisted him as far as he
could, by handing him bandages, sponges, etc.

"You ought to have been an assistant, from the beginning, Bob," he
said. "By this time you would have been quite a decent surgeon--only
you have a silly way of turning pale. There, hand me that bandage.

"All right, my man! We will have you patched up in no time.

"No, I don't think you can go back to your gun again. You will have
to eat and drink a bit, and make fresh blood, before you will be
much use at a thirty-two pounder again.

"What is this--a scalp wound? Splinter of a shell, eh? Well, it is
lucky for you, lad, that you have been hardening your skull a bit,
before you enlisted. A few clips from a blackthorn are capital
preparation. I don't think you will come to much harm. You are not
more hurt than you would be in a good, lively faction fight.

"There, you had better put down that sponge, Bob, and go into the
casemate, for a bit. You are getting white again.

"I think we are over the worst now; for if, as you tell me, the
smoke is beginning to come up from some of those floating
batteries, their fire will soon slacken a bit. As long as they keep
out the shot, those defences of theirs are first rate but, as soon
as the shot begin to embed themselves in the roof, they are worse
than nothing--for they can neither dig out the shot, nor get at
them with the water. Once establish a fire, and it is pretty sure
to spread."

Bob was glad to get back again into the bombproof casemates; for
there was comparative quiet while, outside, the constant roar of
the guns, the howl of shot, the explosion of shell, and the crash
of masonry created a din that was almost bewildering.

Presently a cheer was heard in the battery, and Bob went out to see
what it was; and returned with the news that the ship next to the
Spanish admiral's was also smoking, in several places. As the
afternoon went on, confusion was apparent on board several of the
battering ships and, by the evening, their fire had slackened
considerably. Before eight o'clock it had almost entirely ceased,
except from one or two ships to the northward of the line which,
being somewhat farther from the shore, had suffered less than the
others.

At sunset the Artillery in our batteries were relieved--the Naval
Brigade taking their place--and the fire was continued, without
relaxation. As soon as it became dark, rockets were fired by
several of the battering ships. These were answered by the Spanish
men-of-war, and many boats rowed across to the floating batteries.
By ten o'clock the flames began to burst out from the admiral's
battering ship and, by midnight, she was completely in flames. The
light assisted our gunners--who were able to lay their cannon with
as much accuracy as during the daytime--and the whole Rock was
illuminated by the flames. These presently burst out, vigorously,
from the next ship and, between three and four o'clock, points of
light appeared upon six of the other hulks.

At three o'clock Brigadier Curtis--who commanded the Naval Brigade
encamped at Europa Point--finding that the sea had gone down,
manned the gunboats and, rowing out for some distance, opened a
heavy flanking fire upon the battering ships; compelling the boats
that were lying in shelter behind them to retire. As the day broke
he captured two of the enemy's launches and, finding from the
prisoners that there were still numbers of men on board the hulks,
rowed out to rescue them. While he was employed at this work, at
five o'clock, one of the battering ships to the northward blew up,
with a tremendous explosion and, a quarter of an hour later,
another in the centre of the line also blew up. The wreck was
scattered over a wide extent of water.

One of the gunboats was sunk, and another seriously injured; and
the Brigadier, fearing other explosions, ordered the boats to draw
off towards the town. On the way, however, he visited two of the
other burning ships; and rescued some more of those left
behind--landing, in all, nine officers, two priests, and three
hundred and thirty-four soldiers and seamen. Besides these, one
officer and eleven Frenchmen had floated ashore, the evening
before, on the shattered fragments of a launch.

While the boats in the navy were thus endeavouring to save their
foes, the land batteries--which had ceased firing on the previous
evening--again opened on the garrison; but as, from some of the
camps, the boats could be perceived at their humane work, orders
were despatched to the batteries to cease fire; and a dead silence
succeeded the din that had gone on for nearly twenty-four hours.

Of the six battering ships still in flames, three blew up before
eleven o'clock. The other three burned to the water's edge--the
magazines having been drowned, by the Spaniards, before they left
the ships in their boats. The garrison hoped that the two remaining
battering ships might be saved, to be sent home as trophies of the
victory but, about noon, one of them suddenly burst into flames,
and presently blew up. The other was examined by the men-of-war
boats, and found to be so injured that she could not be saved. She
was accordingly set fire to, and also destroyed. Thus, the whole of
the ten vessels, that were considered by their constructors to be
invincible, were destroyed.

The loss of the enemy, in killed and prisoners, was estimated at
two thousand; while the casualties of the garrison were
astonishingly small, consisting only of one officer and fifteen
non-commissioned officers and men killed, and five officers and
sixty-three men wounded. Very little damage was done to the works.
It is supposed that the smoke enveloping the vessels prevented
accurate aim. The chief object of the attack was to silence the
King's Bastion and, upon this, two of the largest ships
concentrated their fire; while the rest endeavoured to effect a
breach in the wall between that battery, and the battery next to
it.

The enemy had three hundred heavy cannon engaged, while the
garrison had a hundred and six cannon and mortars. The distance at
which the batteries were moored from the shore was greatly in
favour of the efforts of our artillery; as the range was almost
point blank, and the guns did not require to be elevated. Thus, the
necessity for using two wads between the powder and the red-hot
balls was obviated, and the gunners were able to fire much more
rapidly than they would otherwise have done. The number of the
Spanish soldiers on board the battery ships was 5260, in addition
to the sailors required to work the ships.

Great activity was manifested, by the Spaniards, on the day
following the failure of their bombardment; and large numbers of
men were employed in bringing up fresh ammunition to their
batteries. Many of the men-of-war also got under way. Major
Harcourt, Doctor Burke, and two or three other officers stood
watching the movements from the O'Hallorans' terrace.

"I should have thought that they had had enough of it," Doctor
Burke said. "If those battering ships couldn't withstand our fire,
what chance would their men-of-war have?

"See! They are just as busy on the land side, and the 71st has been
ordered to send down extra guards to the land port. I should have
thought they had given it up, as a bad job, this time."

"I have no doubt they have given it up, doctor," Major Harcourt
said; "but they are not likely to say so, just yet. After all the
preparations that have been made; and the certainty expressed,
about our capture, by the allied armies and navies of France and
Spain; and having two or three royal princes down here, to grace
the victory; you don't suppose they are going to acknowledge to the
world that they are beaten. I should have thought you would have
known human nature better than that, doctor.

"You will see De Crillon will send a pompous report of the affair;
saying that the battering ships were found, owing to faults in
their construction, to be of far less utility than had been
expected and that, therefore, they had been burned. They had,
however, inflicted enormous loss upon the garrison and defences;
and the siege would now be taken up by the army and fleet, and
vigorously pushed to a successful termination.

"That will be the sort of thing, I would bet a month's pay. The
last thing a Spanish commander will confess is that he is beaten;
and I think it likely enough that they will carry on the siege for
months, yet, so as to keep up appearances. In fact, committed as
they are to it, I don't see how they can give it up, without making
themselves the laughingstock of Europe. But, now that they find
they have no chance of getting the object for which they went to
war, I fancy you will see, before very long, they will begin to
negotiate for peace."

The major's anticipations were verified. For some time the siege
was carried on with considerable vigour--from a thousand to twelve
hundred shots being fired, daily, into the fortress. Their works on
the neutral ground were pushed forward; and an attempt was made, at
night, to blow out a portion of the face of the Rock, by placing
powder in a cave--but the attempt was detected.

The position of the garrison became more comfortable after a
British fleet arrived, with two more regiments and a large convoy
of merchantmen; but nothing of any importance took place till, on
the 2d of February, 1782, the Duc de Crillon sent in to say that
the preliminaries of a general peace had been signed, by Great
Britain, France, and Spain and, three days later, the blockade at
sea was discontinued, and the port of Gibraltar again open.

Bob Repton, however, was not present at the concluding scenes of
the great drama. Satisfied, after the failure of the bombardment,
that there would be no more serious fighting, and that the interest
of the siege was at an end; he took advantage of the arrival of the
Antelope in the bay, a few days after the engagement, to return in
her to England. He had now been two years and eight months on the
Rock, and felt that he ought to go home, to take his place with his
uncle.

He had benefited greatly by his stay in Gibraltar. He had acquired
the Spanish language thoroughly and, in other respects, had carried
on his studies under the direction of Doctor Burke; and had
employed much of his leisure time with instructive reading. Mixing
so much with the officers of the garrison, he had acquired a good
manner and address. He had been present at the most memorable siege
of the times, and had gained the credit of having--though but a
volunteer--his name twice placed in general orders for good
services. He had landed a school boy; he was now a well-built young
fellow, of medium height and powerful frame; but he had retained
his boyish, frank good humour, and his love of fun.

"I trust that we shall be back in England, before long," his sister
said to him. "Everyone expects that Spain will make peace, before
many months are over, and it is likely that the regiments who have
gone through the hardships of the siege will soon be relieved; so I
hope that, in a year or two, we may be ordered home again."

There was a great deal of regret expressed, when it was known that
Bob Repton was going home; for he had always been ready to do any
acts of kindness in his power--especially to children, of whom he
was very fond--and it was not forgotten that his daring enterprise,
in going out alone to fetch in fruit, had saved many of their
lives. Amy Harcourt's eyes were very red, when he went up to say
goodbye to her and her mother, an hour before he sailed; and the
farewells were spoken with quivering lips.

The Antelope evaded the enemy's cruisers near the Rock, and made a
quick passage to England, without adventure. She had made two or
three good prizes, up the Spanish coast, before she put into
Gibraltar on her way home. Captain Lockett, therefore, did not go
out of his way to look for more.

On arriving at Portsmouth, Bob at once went up to London by coach.
He had no lack of clothes, having purchased the effects of an
officer, of nearly his own build and stature, who had been killed a
short time before. On alighting from the coach he walked to Philpot
Lane, and went straight into the counting house. His old
acquaintance, Jack Medlin, was sitting on the stool his father had
formerly occupied; and Bob was greatly amused at the air of gravity
on his face.

"Do you wish to see Mr. Bale, or Mr. Medlin, sir?" he asked, "Or
can I take your orders?"

"You are a capital imitator of your father, Jack," Bob said, as he
brought his hand down heavily on the shoulder of the young clerk;
who stared at him in astonishment.

"Why, it is Bob--I mean, Mr. Repton!" he exclaimed.

"It's Bob Repton, Jack, sure enough; and glad I am to see you. Why,
it is nearly three years since we met; and we have both altered a
good bit, since then.

"Well, is my uncle in?"

"No, he is out, at present; but my father is in the inner office."

Bob strode into the inner office, and greeted Mr. Medlin as
heartily as he had done his son; and Mr. Medlin, for the first time
since he had entered Philpot Lane, as a boy, forgot that he was
within the sacred precincts of the city and, for at least ten
minutes, laughed and talked as freely and unrestrainedly as if he
had been out at Highgate.

"Your uncle will be delighted to see you back," he said. "He is for
ever talking about you; and there wasn't a prouder man in the city
of London than he was, when the despatches were published and your
name appeared, twice, as having rendered great service. He became a
little afraid, at one time, that you might take to soldiering,
altogether. But I told him that I thought there was no fear of
that. After you had once refused to take a midshipman's berth--with
its prospect of getting away from school--I did not think it likely
that you would be tempted, now."

"No; the General told Captain O'Halloran that he would get me a
commission, if I liked; but I had not the least ambition that way.
I have had a fine opportunity of seeing war, and have had a jolly
time of it; and now I am quite ready to settle down, here."

Mr. Bale was delighted, on his return, to find Bob. It was just the
hour for closing, and he insisted upon Mr. Medlin stopping to take
supper with him. Bob had written, whenever there was an opportunity
of sending letters; but many of these had never come to hand, and
there was much to tell, and talk about.

"Well, I am thoroughly satisfied with the success of our
experiment, Mr. Medlin," Mr. Bale said, next day. "Bob has turned
out exactly what I hoped he would--a fine young fellow, and a
gentleman. He has excellent manners, and yet there is nothing
foppish, or affected about him."

"I had no fear of that, with Bob, Mr. Bale; and indeed, Gibraltar
during the siege must have been a bad school for anyone to learn
that sort of thing. Military men may amuse themselves with follies
of that kind, when they have nothing better to do; but it is thrown
aside, and their best qualities come out, when they have such work
to do as they have had there.

"Yes, I agree with you, sir. The experiment has turned out
capitally; and your nephew is, in every respect, a far better man
than he would have been, if he had been kept mewed up here these
three years. He is a young fellow that anyone--I don't care who he
is--might feel proud of."

So Bob took up his duties in the office, and his only complaint
there was that he could hardly find enough to do. Mr. Bale had
relaxed his close attention to the business, since he had taken Mr.
Medlin into the firm; but as that gentleman was perfectly capable
of carrying it on, single handed, Bob's share of it was easy
enough. It was not long before he complained to his uncle that he
really did not find enough to do.

"Well, Bob, you shall come down with me to a place I have bought,
out by Chislehurst. It is a tidy little estate. I bought it a year
ago. It is a nice distance from town--just a pleasant ride, or
drive, up. I am thinking of moving my establishment down there,
altogether; and as you will have it some day, I should like your
opinion of it. It isn't quite ready, yet. I have been having it
thoroughly done up, but the men will be out in a week or two."

Bob was greatly pleased with the house, which was a fine one, and
very pleasantly situated, in large grounds.

"There are seventy or eighty acres of land," Mr. Bale said. "They
are let to a farmer, at present. He only has them by the year; and
I think it will be an amusement to you to take them in hand, and
look after them yourself. I know a good many people living about
here, and I have no doubt we shall have quite as much society as we
care for."

Another month and they were established at Chislehurst, and Bob
found the life there very pleasant. He generally drove his uncle up
to town in the morning; getting to the office at ten o'clock, and
leaving it at five in the afternoon. On his return home there was
the garden to see about, and the stables. Very often his uncle
brought a city friend or two home with him, for the night; and they
soon had a large circle of acquaintances in the neighbourhood.

"I should like you to marry young, Bob," Mr. Bale said to him one
day. "I did not marry young; and so, you see, I have never married
at all; and have wasted my life shockingly, in consequence. When
you are ready to marry, I am ready to give you the means. Don't
forget that."

"I won't forget it, sir," Bob said, smiling; "and I will try to
meet your wishes."

Mr. Bale looked at him sharply. Carrie's letters were long and
chatty; and it may be that Mr. Bale had gleaned, from them, some
notion of an idea that Carrie and Mrs. Harcourt had in their heads.

Three years later Mr. Bale remarked, as they were driving home:

"By the way, Bob, I was glad to see, in the paper today, that the
58th is ordered home."

"Is it, sir?" Bob asked, eagerly. "I have not looked at the paper
today. I am glad to hear that. I thought it wouldn't be long. But
there is never any saying--they might have been sent somewhere
else, instead of being sent home."

"I hope they will be quartered somewhere within reach," Mr. Bale
said. "If they are stationed at Cork, or some outlandish place in
Ireland, they might almost as well be at Gibraltar, for anything we
shall see of them."

"Oh, we can manage to run over to Cork, uncle."

"There will be no occasion to do that, Bob. Captain O'Halloran will
be getting leave, soon after he comes over, and then he can bring
Carrie here."

And he smiled slily to himself.

"He mayn't be able to get leave for some time," Bob said. "I think,
uncle, I shall run over, directly they arrive."

"Perhaps the firm won't be able to spare you," Mr. Bale remarked.

"It is my opinion the firm would get on just as well, without me,
or an indefinite time, uncle."

"Not at all, Bob. Mr. Medlin was saying, only a few days ago, that
you do quite your share of the work; and that he generally leaves
it to you, now, to see country customers when I am out, and thinks
the change has been an advantage to the business. However, if the
regiment does go to Ireland--as is likely enough--I suppose we must
manage to spare you."

It was indeed soon known that the 58th were, in the first place, to
be disembarked at Cork and, one day, Mr. Bale came into the office.

"I have just seen your friend Lockett, Bob; I mean the younger one.
He commands the Antelope now, you know. His uncle has retired, and
bought a place near Southampton, and settled down there. Young
Lockett came up from Portsmouth by the night coach. He put in at
Gibraltar on his way home, and the 58th were to embark three days
after he left. So if you want to meet them when they arrive at
Cork, you had better lose no time; but start by the night coach for
Bristol, and cross in the packet from there."

It was a month before Bob returned. The evening that he did so, he
said to his uncle:

"I think, uncle, you said that you were anxious that I should marry
young."

"That is so, Bob," Mr. Bale said, gravely.

"Well, uncle, I have been doing my best to carry out your wishes."

"You don't mean to say, Bob," Mr. Bale said, in affected alarm,
"that you are going to marry a soldier's daughter?"

"Well, yes, sir," Bob said, a little taken aback; "but I don't know
how you guessed it. It is a young lady I knew in Gibraltar."

"What, Bob! Not that girl who went running about with you, dressed
up as a boy?"

As this was a portion of his adventures upon which Bob had been
altogether reticent, he sat for a moment, confounded.

"Don't be ashamed of it, Bob," Mr. Bale said, with a smile, laying
his hand kindly on his shoulder. "Your sister Carrie is an
excellent young woman, and it is not difficult to read her thoughts
in her letters. Of course, she told me about your adventure with
Miss Harcourt, and she has mentioned her a good many times, since;
and it did not need a great deal of discernment to see what
Carrie's opinion was regarding the young lady. Carrie has her weak
points--as, for example, when she took up with that wild
Irishman--but she has plenty of good sense; and I am sure, by the
way she wrote about this Miss Harcourt, that she must be a very
charming girl; and I think, Bob, I have been looking forward almost
as much, to the regiment coming home, as you have.

"Regarding you as I do, as my son, there is nothing I should like
so much as having a bright, pretty daughter-in-law; so you have my
hearty consent and approval, even before you ask for it.

"And you found her very nice, Bob--eh?"

"Very nice, sir," Bob said, smiling.

"And very pretty, Bob?"

"Very pretty, sir. I never thought that she would have grown up so
pretty."

"And her head has not been turned by the compliments that she has,
of course, received?"

"I don't think so, sir. She said her mind has been made up, ever
since I brought her back to Gibraltar; so you see, the compliments
did not go for much."

"Well, Bob, I will write to Major Harcourt. I shall hand you over
this place, altogether, and settle down in my old quarters in
Philpot Lane."

"No, no, sir," Bob said.

"But I say yes, Bob. I shall keep a room here, and I dare say I
shall often use it. But I have been rather like a fish out of
water, since I came here, and shall be well content to fall into my
old ways again; knowing that, if I want any change, and bright
society, I can come down here. If I find I am restless there--which
is not likely--I can buy a little place, and settle down beside
you. As I told you long ago, I am a rich man--I have been doing
nothing but save money, all my life--and though, as I then said, I
should like you to carry on the firm, after I am gone; there will,
as far as money goes, be no occasion for you to do so."

Two months later the three members of the firm went over to Cork,
and there a gay wedding was celebrated; and when, at the
termination of the honeymoon, Bob returned to Chislehurst, he found
Captain O'Halloran and Carrie established there on a month's leave
and, a day or two later, the party was increased by the arrival of
Doctor Burke.

Mr. Bale lived for twenty years after Bob's marriage; the last fifteen
of which were passed in a little place he bought, adjoining that of
the Reptons and, before he died, he saw four grandchildren--as he
called them--fast growing up.

General and Mrs. Harcourt also settled down in the neighbourhood,
to be near their only daughter, a few years before Mr. Bale's
death.

Doctor Burke remained with the regiment for some years, and then
bought a practice in Dublin but, to the end of his life, he paid a
visit every three or four years to his former pupil.

Captain O'Halloran obtained the rank of colonel but, losing an arm
at the capture of Martinique, in 1794, he retired from the army and
settled at Woolwich--where Carrie was within easy reach of
Chislehurst--having his pension, and a comfortable income which Mr.
Bale settled upon Carrie. At Mr. Bale's death, it was found that he
had left his house at Chislehurst to Carrie; and she and her
husband accordingly established themselves there.

Bob, to the end of his life, declared that--although in all things
he had been an exceptionally happy, and fortunate man--the most
fortunate occurrence that ever happened to him was that he should
have taken part in the famous Siege of Gibraltar.





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