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´╗┐Title: Ben Burton - Born and Bred at Sea
Author: Kingston, William Henry Giles, 1814-1880
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 "Ben Burton - Born and Bred at Sea" ***

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Ben Burton; or, Born and Bred at Sea, by W H G Kingston.

________________________________________________________________________

The story really consists of a series of nautical and shore incidents,
to do with Ben Burton and his family.  During the course of the story he
goes from being born, to a senior Naval rank.  Shortly after he is born
they come across a dinghy drifting with an ayah and a small white girl,
who grows up in parallel with Ben, though she is spared some of his more
martial adventures.

It's always difficult to get a timescale with books like this one, as
the years seem to go past much faster than the supply of adventures.

I was somewhat baffled by the paragraphing in this book.  For most of
the book the paragraphing is as you would expect it to be, but there is
an over-supply of very long paragraphs, and some of these contain quite
complex conversations, so that one is tempted to split them up so that
passage looks more conventional and readable.  I have not done so,
except in one flagrant case, because I suspect that Kingston may have
been experimenting in some way.  On the other hand it may be that he had
contracted to write a book of so many pages, and this was a way of
condensing a long conversational exchange.

There were some other strange things to be noticed, such as places and
people changing their spelling (Benjy and Benjie, for instance), within
a few lines. And there were some words that Kingston spells correctly in
other books, but anomalously in this one.  It's almost as though he
dictated the book to a typist, and then never actually read it for
himself.  It lends weight to the theory that Kingston books were
authored by more than one person, because this one is within his rules
of style, except for the really quite numerous typographical anomalies
mentioned above.

Apart from that, the story is quite good to read or to listen to, just
as Kingston books always are.

________________________________________________________________________

BEN BURTON; OR, BORN AND BRED AT SEA, BY W H G KINGSTON.



CHAPTER ONE.

"Dick Burton, you're a daddy!  Polly's been and got a baby for you, old
boy!" exclaimed several voices, as the said Dick mounted the side of the
old "Boreas," on the books of which ship he was rated as a
quarter-master, he having just then returned from a pleasant little
cutting-out expedition, where he had obtained, besides honour and glory,
a gash on the cheek, a bullet through the shoulder, and a prong from a
pike in the side.

"Me a what?" he inquired, bending his head forward with a look of
incredulity, and mechanically hitching up his trousers.  "Me a daddy?
On course it's a boy?  Polly wouldn't go for to get a girl, a poor
little helpless girl, out in these outlandish parts."

"On course, Dick, it's a boy, a fine big, walloping younker, too.  Why
bless ye, Quacko ain't no way to be compared to him, especially when he
sings out, which he can do already, loud enough to drown the bo'sun's
whistle, let me tell you," was the reply to Dick Burton's last question.

That baby was me.  Quacko was the monkey of the ship.  I might not have
been flattered at being compared to him, though it must be owned that I
stood very much in the light of his rival.  I soon, however, cut him out
completely.  My mother was one of two women on board.  The other was
Susan King, wife of another quarter-master.  The two men enjoyed a
privilege denied to their captain, for they could take their wives to
sea, which he could not.  To be sure, Polly and Susan made themselves
more generally useful than the captain's wife would probably have done
had she lived on board, for they washed and mended the men's shirts,
nursed them when sick or wounded, prepared lint and bandages for the
surgeons, and performed many other offices such as generally fall to the
lot of female hands.  They had both endeared themselves to the men, by a
thousand kind and gentle acts, but my mother was decidedly the
favourite.  This might have been because she was young and remarkably
handsome, and at the same time as good and modest as a woman could be;
and so discreet that she was never known to cause a quarrel among her
shipmates, or a pang of jealousy to her husband; and that, under the
circumstances of the case, is saying a great deal in her favour.  Fancy
two women among nearly four hundred men, and not one of the latter even
thinking of infringing the last commandment of the Decalogue.  What an
amount of good sense, good-temper, and self-command must have been
exercised on the part of the former.

Susan's qualifications for the position she held were very different to
those of my mother.  In appearance she was a very Gorgon, a veritable
strong-minded, double-fisted female, tall, gaunt, and coarse-featured.
A hoarse laugh, and a voice which vied with the boatswain's in
stentorian powers, and yet withal she was a true woman, with a gentle,
loving, tender heart.  Bill King, her husband, knew her good qualities,
and vowed that he would not swap her for Queen Charlotte, or any other
lady in the land, not if the offer was made to him with a thousand gold
guineas into the bargain.

I ought to be grateful to her, and do cherish her memory with affection,
for she assisted to bring me into the world; attended my mother in her
time of trial and trouble, and nursed me with the gentlest care.  Yet
Sue had a tongue, and could use it too when occasion, in her judgment,
required its employment.  But she always took the side of right and
virtue against wrong and vice, and woe betided the luckless wight who
fell under the ban of her just displeasure.  She would belabour him, not
with her hands, but by word, look, and gesture, till he shrieked out for
mercy and promised never again to offend, or took to ignominious flight
like a thief with a _posse_ of constables at his heels.  Bill King was a
quiet-mannered little man with a huge pair of whiskers, like
studden-sails rigged out on either side of his cheeks, and a mild
expression of countenance which did not belie his calm good-temper and
amiability of disposition.  But though gentle in peace, he was as brave
and daring a seaman as ever sprang, cutlass in hand, on an enemy's deck,
or flew aloft to loose topsails when a prize had been cut out, amid
showers of bullets and round-shot.

Of my father, I will only say that he was in no way behind his friend
Bill King in bravery, and though he spoke the sailor's lingo like his
shipmates, he was vastly his superior in manners and appearance.
Indeed, he and my mother were a very handsome couple.  They were also, I
may say, deservedly looked upon with great respect by the officers, from
the captain downwards, and regarded with affection by all the crew.

To go back to that insignificant little individual, myself, as I
certainly was on the day I have mentioned, when I made my first
appearance on board the HMS "Boreas".  I came in for a large share of
the regard entertained by the ship's company for my parents.  My father
was the first person introduced by Susan King into my presence.

"Well, he is a rum little youngster!" he exclaimed, taking me up in his
open palms.  "He is like Polly--that he is!" he added, as he gazed at me
affectionately, the feelings of a father for the first time welling up
in his bosom.  "Yes, he is a sweet little cherub!  Shouldn't wonder but
he is like them as lives up aloft there to watch over us poor chaps at
sea.  Ay, that he must be.  They can't beat him.  Lord love ye, Sue, I
am grateful to you for this here day's work."

I here interrupted my father's remarks by a loud cry, and other
infantine operations, on which Sue insisted on having me back again to
her safe keeping, while outside the screen several voices were heard
entreating my father to bring me out for inspection, a request with
which Mrs King had before steadily refused to comply.

"I say, Dick, just let's have a look at him.  One squint, Burton, just
to see what sort of a younker he may be.  Come now, he ain't a chap to
be ashamed of, I'm sure.  There ain't none like him here aboard, I'll
swear.  He don't come up to Quacko anyhow.  Come, Dick, show us him now,
do, there's a good chap."

These and similar exclamations were sung out by various voices in
different tones, to which my mother, as she lay in her cot, listened not
unpleased, till at length my father having given her a kiss, and uttered
a few words of congratulation and thanks to Heaven--sailors are not
addicted to long prayers--again took me in his outstretched palms, and
thus brought me forth to the admiring gaze of his shipmates.  So eager
were they to see me, that I ran no little risk of being knocked out of
my father's hands, as they were shoving each other aside in their
endeavours to get to the front rank.  Then one and all wanted to have me
to handle for a moment; but to this Susan King, who had followed my
father from behind the screen, would on no account consent.

"Why, bless you, my lads, you would be wringing the little chap's neck
off, if you were to attempt to take hold of him," said Susan.

"Oh!  No, don't fear, we will handle him just as if he was made of
sugar," was the reply.

"Oh!  You don't know what delicate, weak little creatures these babies
are when they are first born," observed Susan.  "Just like jellyfish,
they will not stand any rough handling."

Still in spite of my kind nurse's remarks, the bystanders continued to
urge my father to let them have me.

"It is as much as my place is worth, mates," he answered at length; "I
would not let him out of my hands on no account."

My new shipmates were, therefore, compelled to admire me at a respectful
distance.  I believe the remarks they made were generally complimentary,
only they seemed to have arrived at the opinion that I was not at that
time so fat or so fair as the cherubs they had heard of who live up
aloft.

"And now, mates, I will just hand him back to Susan, and go and get the
doctor to look at me, for I begin to feel pretty stiffish with the holes
I got made in me just now," said my father.

And I was forthwith reconsigned to the charge of my mother and her
attendant, while he went to the surgeon to get his wounds dressed.
There were none of them, fortunately very serious, for the bullet had
gone through the fleshy part of the arm, and the pike had missed the
bone; the cut in the cheek, which at first appeared the most trifling,
giving in the end more trouble and annoyance than either of the other
hurts.  The expedition in which he had been engaged was something out of
the common way, though when I come to note down the numerous ones he has
described to me, it is somewhat difficult not to mix them all up
together.

The frigate, on board which I thus suddenly found myself, formed one of
the East India Squadron, of which Admiral Peter Rainier was
Commander-in-Chief.

The "Boreas" had a short time before this been despatched to Macao for
the protection of the China trade.  I speak of course from hearsay, as
what I am about to relate occurred just before I came into existence;
indeed, of many other subsequent events which I shall venture to
describe I cannot be said to have any very vivid recollection, although
present at the time.  The frigate was standing to the eastward, some
three or four leagues from the coast, when one of the topmen, Pat Brady,
on the look-out at the mast-head, discovered a sail in shore to the
northward.  Pat was a relation of my mother--she was an Irishwoman, and,
as Pat never failed to assert, a credit to her country.  He would at all
times have been ready to fight any man who ventured to hold a different
opinion.

Our Captain, Christopher Cobb, was a brave man, but somewhat peppery,
and very easily put out.

The wind had previously been light.  It fell a dead calm soon after the
stranger had been sighted.  Our First-Lieutenant, Mr Schank, who, in
spite of having a wooden leg, was as active as any man on board, having
gone aloft himself to take a look at her, came to the opinion that she
was a brig of war.  From the way in which she increased her distance
from the frigate after she was seen, it was very evident that she had
her sweeps out, and there was every probability of her escaping.

"That must not be!  That must not be!" muttered the Captain, as he paced
the quarter-deck, fretting and fuming under the hot sun of the tropics.
"Mr Schank, we must not let her go."

"No, sir," said the First-Lieutenant, "that would never do."

"We must take her with the boats if we cannot overtake her with the
ship," said the Captain, with one of his quiet laughs.

"The very thing I was thinking of, sir," answered Mr Schank, who, I may
observe, presented a great contrast to his excellent superior, the one
being short and rotund, while in figure the Lieutenant was tall and
gaunt.

"Then we will have the boats out and see what we can do," said the
Captain.

"With all my heart, sir," answered the First-Lieutenant.  "I will, if
you please, take the command."

"Out boats!" was the order.  The object was quickly known.  In an
instant the men who had till then been listlessly hanging about the
decks in the few shady places they could find, for the sun was pretty
nigh overhead, were instantly aroused into activity.

In a short time six boats were in the water manned and armed.  In them
went three lieutenants and the master, two master's mates, fifty seamen,
and twenty marines.  One of the gigs, the fastest boat, led the way,
each boat taking the one next to her in tow.  As they shoved off their
shipmates cheered, and heartily wished them success.  That they were
determined to obtain, though they well knew that they had a pull before
them of a good many hours under a burning sun, and probably some pretty
sharp fighting at the end of it.  After following her for an hour or
more, Mr Schank perceived that they gained nothing on the brig.  He
therefore ordered the boats to cast off from each other, and to make the
best of their way, provided no boat rowed ahead of the barge under his
command.  It was just two o'clock when the expedition left the frigate.
My father was in the launch commanded by a master's mate, Mr Harry
Oliver, a slight delicate youth who appeared utterly unfit for such
work, but he had the heart of a lion, and daring unsurpassed by any
officer in the service.  For four long hours the chase continued, when,
at about six in the evening, she was still four leagues ahead.  Mr
Schank now ordered the master to proceed in the gig as fast as he could
pull, and by all means to keep sight of the brig, while in the event of
darkness coming on he was to hoist a light to show her position.  It had
been arranged that the attack was to be made in two lines.  The barge,
pinnace, and gig were to board on the starboard quarter; and the other
line, consisting of the three other boats, on the larboard quarter.  For
upwards of two hours longer the boats pulled on, the gloom of evening
gradually closing over them.  Still they could distinguish the dim
outline of the brig ahead.  The First-Lieutenant having got within
musket-shot of the chase with Mr Oliver's boat, he directed his men to
lie on to their oars that they might arm, and allow the sternmost boats
to come up.  Just then the master in the gig rejoined them.

"What is she?" asked Mr Schank.

"A French man-of-war brig of sixteen guns," was the answer.  "She is
under all sail with her sweeps out, and we shall find it pretty brisk
work getting on board."  The crews had of course been ordered to keep
silence, or I rather think that they would have uttered a hearty shout
at this announcement.  In a few minutes more the sternmost boats got up,
and their crews also armed and prepared for the attack.  They were
directed to steer one on each side of the brig, and to get in under the
sweeps and close to her sides.  In ten minutes they were within
pistol-shot of the enemy, who was slipping along through the water, her
sweeps being aided by the light wind off the land, at about two knots an
hour.

And now the silence which had hitherto been kept was broken by the voice
of their gallant leader shouting, "What vessel is that?"

There was no answer.  Again he asked the same question in French.  It
was very bad French, and perhaps was not better understood than the
previous question.  At all events no reply was made.

"Then at her, lads!" cried Mr Schank; and the crews of the boats,
uttering three hearty cheers, dashed up towards the brig's stern.  As
they got close up, however, a tremendous fire of heavy guns and musketry
was opened on them, the bullets whizzing round them and wounding many,
though fortunately none of the boats were struck by the round-shot,
while, as they got up, pikes were thrust down at them and pistols fired
in their faces.  The bowmen in the leading boats which had got hold of
the ship's sides were killed or wounded, and the boats dropped astern.
Among those hit was their brave leader, but undaunted he shouted to his
men to pull up again.  Again as they did so they met with the same
reception.



CHAPTER TWO.

The First-Lieutenant was not a man to be defeated.  Wounded as he was,
he still resolved to persevere.

"Never say die, lads!" he shouted, as they were driven back.  "Give them
a taste of our powder in return!"

On this, the boats poured a hot fire of musketoons and small-arms
through the brig's stern and quarter-ports.  It told with tremendous
effect, for not a shot was now fired upon the boats.

"On, on, lads!" shouted the First-Lieutenant; and before the Frenchmen
could recover, the boats were hanging on to her quarters, and the crews
were climbing up on deck.  The First-Lieutenant, in spite of his wooden
leg and wound, was among the foremost.  My father, though also hit,
followed close behind the brave young mate--Harry Oliver.  Scarcely had
they gained the brig's deck, however, ere the Frenchmen rallied and
opposed them with the most determined bravery.  The English crew
climbing up one after the other, quickly gained possession of the whole
of the after part of the brig, not, however, without several being
killed and wounded, the Second-Lieutenant being among the former.  He
was cut down, after being twice shot through the body.  For a few
minutes a most bloody and tremendous conflict ensued.  A Frenchman
thrust his pike through Mr Oliver's side, and another was following it
up with his sword, and would certainly have put an end to the young
officer, had not my father, just as he got an ugly prong in his side of
the same description, with one sweep of his cutlass brought the man to
the deck, never to move again.  French crews can very seldom, if ever,
stand against English boarders.  The bravest of the enemy were cut down,
or began to give way.  My father, with Mr Oliver on one side and the
First-Lieutenant and Master on the other, with the men at their backs,
now made a clear path, strewing the decks with the bodies of those who
attempted to oppose them.  The remainder of the enemy fled; some leaped
down the hatchways, others took shelter on the bowsprit and jib-boom,
and the more nimble sprang up the shrouds, where, as my father declared,
like so many monkeys, they hung chattering and asking for quarter.

"Of course, if they would but have been quiet and peaceable, we had no
wish to kill them," he used to say, "and glad enough we were when we
found ourselves in possession of the brig, just about five minutes from
the time we had first stepped on her decks.  It was about the hardest
bit of work I ever was engaged in," he always averred.  "We lost our
Second-Lieutenant, five seamen and three marines killed, three officers
and twenty-two men wounded.  The Frenchman had a crew of one hundred and
sixty men and boys, out of whom there were no less than fourteen killed
and twenty wounded--pretty badly, too, for we were not apt to use our
cutlasses over gently, you may suppose.

"We had still plenty of work to do, for, though cowed for the moment,
the Frenchmen would not have made much ceremony in trying to turn the
tables again upon us.  We had barely fifty men fit for work, and they
had still one hundred and twenty--considerable odds against us.

"Mr Schank, as soon as he saw that the deck was ours, directed one of
the officers to hurry down into the cabin and secure the private
signals, and ordered me, at the same time, to go with a couple of
marines to take charge of the magazine, for one never knows what
desperate fellows may do when they have lost their ship, and some mad
chap or other might have set fire to it, and blown us and themselves up
into the air.  Such things have been done before now.

"The next thing we did was to carry the wounded below.  Our own people
and the enemy's were treated alike.  Poor fellows!  How some of them did
groan when they were lifted up.  Next, an order was given to heave the
dead overboard, `And look out, lads, that you don't send any with the
breath in their bodies to feed the sharks,' said the First-Lieutenant.
The caution did not come too soon.  Two men, one of whom was Paddy
Brady, were about shoving a big Frenchman through a port, when the poor
fellow uttered a groan.  `What is that you say, monsieur?  Just speak
again.  Are you alive or dead?' exclaimed Brady.  No answer was
returned, and Paddy began to drag the dead body nearer the port.  Again
a groan, considerably louder than the first was heard.  `Arrah, now,'
said Paddy, `I wish you would just make up your mind whether it is
overboard you would wish to go, or be carried below.  Speak, man; I ax
ye again for the last time: are ye alive or dead?'

"The Frenchman, maybe, might not have understood exactly what Brady was
saying, but he must have had a pretty horrible idea that he was about to
be sent overboard.  This time he not only groaned, but uttered some
words, and endeavoured to drag himself along the deck.  `Arrah, now,
that's like a dacent, sinsible man,' observed Pat.  `Anyhow, you deserve
to have your hurts looked to, and so we will carry him below, Jim.'"

The truth was that the man had been only slightly wounded, and
afterwards stunned by a blow.  Had he not come to himself at that
moment, his career would undoubtedly have been finished.  Hands were now
sent aloft, the studden-sails hauled down, and the brig brought on a
wind.  The sweeps, which had all this time remained run out, were taken
in-board, and the boats were veered astern.

"We now stood in the direction we hoped to find the frigate, hoisting
two lights at the mast-head, firing guns, and burning blue lights to
show our position.  It was an anxious time, however, and we had to keep
a very watchful eye on the Frenchmen.  They evidently were hatching
mischief, for they must have known as well as we did that the frigate
was still a long way off, and that if they could overcome us they might
yet get away with their brig.  She was called the `Loup' (the Wolf), and
a wolf she had proved herself among our merchantmen.  I had been
relieved at my station at the magazine, when Pat Brady came up to me.
`Burton,' he said, `I wish you would just take a look at the wounded
prisoners.  There is one of them whom I thought dead, and there he is,
sitting up and talking away as if there was nothing the matter with him.
I cannot understand his lingo, but, by the way he moves his arms about,
I think he means mischief!'

"I went below with Brady, and there, sure enough, was the man he had so
nearly thrown overboard, apparently very little the worse for his hurt,
and evidently, as it appeared to me, trying to persuade his countrymen
to do something or other which he had proposed.  Sentries had been
placed over the other prisoners, of course, but desperate men might soon
have overpowered them, especially if the prisoners knew that there would
be a little diversion in their favour.

"Hurrying on deck, I reported what we had seen to Mr Schank, who
immediately ordered the man to be brought on deck, and as his wound was
dressed, there was no cruelty in that.  He grumbled considerably; the
more so, probably, because his plan had been defeated.

"We continued every now and then sending up blue lights, keeping a very
watchful eye all the time on our prisoners.  At length, far away on our
weather-beam, a bright light suddenly burst forth as if out of the dark
ocean.  We tacked and stood towards it.  However, as the wind was very
light, the Third-Lieutenant was sent off in the gig with an account of
our success.  Two hours had still to pass away before we at length got
up to the frigate, and pretty well-pleased we were when the cheer which
our shipmates sent forth to congratulate us on our success reached our
ears."  Such was the substance of my father's account, often
subsequently told.

I do not know whether the anxiety which Burton felt when she saw her
husband setting out on what she knew must be a dangerous expedition had
any peculiar effect on her, but certain it is, that while my father was
slashing away at the Frenchmen, and the bullets were flying about his
head, I was born into the world.

With regard to the prize, she was carried safely into Macao, in the
expectation that she would be fitted out as a cruiser, and that Mr
Schank would get the command of her.  Her fate I shall have hereafter to
relate.

I meantime grew apace, and speedily cut out Quacko in the estimation of
our shipmates.  He, however, had his friends and supporters; for some
months, at all events, he afforded them more amusement than I could do.
They could tease him and play him tricks, which my mother and Mrs King
took very good care they should not do to me.  I had no lack of nurses
from the first, and highly honoured were those into whose hands my
mother ventured to commit me.

Mrs King had enough to do for some time after the action, in attending
both to my mother and the poor fellows who had been wounded, both
English and French, the latter receiving as much care from her gentle
hands as did our own people.  The two chief rivals for the honour of
looking after me were my cousin, Pat Brady, and Toby Kiddle, boatswain's
mate.  Although many of my old shipmates have passed away from my
memory, Toby Kiddle made an impression which was never erased.  Nature
had not intended him for a topman, for though wonderfully muscular, his
figure was like a tun.  His legs were short, and his arms were unusually
long.  With them tucked akimbo, he could take up two of the heaviest men
in the ship, and run along the deck with them as lightly as he would
have done with a couple of young children.  He had a generous, kind
heart, could tell a good story, and troll forth a ditty with any man;
and as to his bravery, where all were brave, I need scarcely mention it,
except to say that I do no not think anyone beat him at that.
Boatswain's mate though he was, Toby Kiddle had a heart as gentle as a
lamb's.  He scarcely seemed cut out for the post, and yet there was a
rough crust over it which enabled him to do his duty, and when he had to
lay on with the cat, to shut his eyes, and to hit as hard as he was
ordered.  And yet I always have pitied a kind-hearted boatswain's mate,
though he is not after all worse off than the captain and officers, who
have to stand by and see men punished.  However, I will not say anything
about that matter just now.  Time went on, and I grew bigger, and began
to chew beef and bacon with the rest of the ship's company becoming more
and more independent of my mother in every way.  Yet I loved her, as
such a mother deserved to be loved.  As I grew bigger I made more and
more friends.  The Captain himself very frequently took notice of me,
and patted my head, which was beginning to get curls upon it, and often
gave me cakes and other Chinese manufactured delicacies which he had got
from the shore.  Captain Cobb was a short man, and since he came out to
China had grown very round and stout.  His face, as a boy, had been
probably pink and white, but it had now been burnt into a deep red
copper colour.  His eyes, which were small, were bloodshot, with a
ferrety expression, and altogether his outward man was not attractive.
His uniforms, which had hung loosely on him when he left home, had been,
by the skill of the tailor, let out and out to meet the demands of his
increasing corpulency; but no art or skill could do more for them; and
as he was unwilling to procure others till those were worn out, he
looked, when walking the quarter-deck, very much as if he had on a
straight waistcoat.

Captain Cobb was not disregardful of his creature comforts, and in order
to supply himself with milk for breakfast and tea, he had shipped on
board, some time back, a she-goat, which fully answered his wishes.
Seamen will make pets of everything--monkeys, babies, lions, pigs,
bears, dogs, and cats.  The goat had become a favourite, for she was a
handsome creature, and very tame, but it was chiefly in connection with
Quacko, who was soon taught to ride upon her.  Quacko was certainly very
well aware that he must never venture upon the quarter-deck, and before,
therefore, he reached the sacred precincts on his daily rides, he always
managed to wheel the goat about and retrace his steps forward.  Quacko
was a wonderfully sagacious monkey, and held his position in the good
opinion of the crew in spite of my rival claims.  Had I been thrown
entirely upon their mercy as Quacko was, I might have completely cut him
out; but having my mother and Mrs King, with two or three select
friends to look after me, the remainder very naturally felt that they
had not so much interest in the matter.  On one occasion, when I was
about three years old, the frigate was caught in a typhoon.  I was safe
below in my poor mother's arms, but Quacko remained on deck to see what
was going forward.  Nobody was thinking of him.  The seamen, indeed, had
to hold on with might and main to secure their own lives.  Some
preparation had been made, and fortunately it was so, for all the sails
still set were blown out of the bolt ropes.  The frigate was hove on her
beam-ends.  Where Quacko had come from nobody knew, when on a sudden he
was seen hanging to the slack end of a rope.  In vain one of the topmen
made an attempt to grasp him.  The rope swung away far over the foaming
sea.  He swung back, but it was to strike the side apparently, for the
next instant the rope returned on board and no Quacko hanging to it.
The ship righted without having suffered much damage; indeed, the loss
of Quacko was our greatest misfortune.

After the sad event just mentioned, Quacko's friends made various
attempts to appropriate me; indeed, Mrs King and Toby Kiddle had, in
order to console them for their loss, to give me up to them
occasionally.

"Here, Toby, let's have the little chap and learn him to ride," said Tom
Trimmers, one of the topmen.  "Why, Nanny will be forgetting how to
carry a human being as she has been accustomed to do, and you will soon
see what a capital horseman he will make, won't you, Ben?"

"Ay, ay," I answered, for though I could not say much I could say that,
and so Nanny was brought forth, and I was placed on her back, Toby,
however, remarking, that though some day I should have more sense than
the defunct Quacko ever had, yet at present, as I had no experience in
riding, he must decline allowing me to mount unless he held me up.  "It
will be time when the little chap has had some practice to let him go
along by himself," he observed, looking round at our shipmates.  "Now,
you don't know what would become of him, for Nanny is more than likely
to trot off on the quarter-deck and make herself disagreeable there, and
maybe pitch Master Benjy down the main hatchway.  No, no, I will stand
by and hold him on till he is a bit older."

This resolution was certainly very prudent; but I very soon began to
complain of it, and to assert, by signs rather than by words, that I was
well able to take care of myself, and steer the goat as Quacko had done.

"And where is Quacko, Master Ben?" asked Toby, who understood me better
than anyone else.  "He thought he could take care of himself, but he
could not do so, you see, nor can any of us, and that's my opinion.  If
there was not one better able to take care of us than we are of
ourselves, we poor sea-going chaps would be in a bad way."

In spite, however, of Toby Kiddle, my other friends managed occasionally
to let me have my own way; and with great pride they looked on while I,
with the end of a mop stick in my hand, went galloping about the deck,
belabouring the goat's hinder quarters, very much after the fashion of
an Irishman riding a donkey at a race.  The Sergeant of Marines, Julian
Killock was his name, on seeing the use I made of my weapon, took it
into his head to teach me the broadsword exercise, which I very soon
learnt.  The Jollies now began to contemplate appropriating me to
themselves, and thus, as it may be supposed, made the Blue-jackets
somewhat jealous.

"No, no, Tom Sawyer," I remember hearing one of the latter observe, "you
shall not have little Ben to turn into a horse-marine on no account.  He
is our'n and cut out for a blue-jacket, and a blue-jacket he will be
till the end of his days."

Still the Jollies were in no way disposed to give up their share of me,
to which they considered they had a right.  I was very nearly the cause
of a serious dispute between the two Services.  A compromise was at
length entered into by the suggestion of my father, who agreed that the
Jollies might teach me the sword and platoon exercise, while the
Blue-jackets might impart as much nautical knowledge as I was capable of
taking in.

But I was speaking of the goat.  I was especially fond of mounting
Nanny's back, though she must have found me considerably heavier than
Quacko.  However, as I never played her any tricks, which he constantly
had done, she had no objection to carry me.  I consequently took my
daily ride round and round the deck, sweeping close round the mainmast
and forward again.

It is not surprising that people should lose their temper under such a
climate as our ship's company was doomed for so many years to endure.
One afternoon, just as the men had finished dinner, it being a dead
calm, the ocean like a sheet of molten lead, smooth as a mirror, the
sun's rays striking down with tremendous force on our decks, making the
pitch hiss and bubble, while one of the midshipmen was frizzling a piece
of beef on a metal plate, that he might declare when he got home,
without injuring his conscience, that it was usual to cook dinners by
the heat of the sun out in China, and the men lay about gasping for
breath, I was brought up by Pat Brady, that, as he said, I might enjoy a
breath of air, only there happened to be none at the moment, and while
I, the least important personage on board thus made my appearance on the
upper regions of our ocean world, so did the most important, the
Captain, come up to look about him, and whistle for a breeze.  It did
not come however, although the Captain kept whistling and whistling away
till his cheeks must have ached.  Nanny had been let out of her pen to
discuss the remains of an old straw hat, the other part of which had
been given her for her supper the previous evening, when it came into
Pat Brady's head to place me on her back; I, nothing loth, sung out for
my broadsword, with which I began forthwith to whack the hinder quarters
of my long-horned steed.  Off she set, but instead of wheeling round the
mainmast, on she galloped along the forbidden district of the
quarter-deck.  The Captain just at that moment, with a stamp of his
foot, vexed at his not getting the wished-for wind, turned round, when
Nanny and I, at a furious speed, dashed bolt against him; and the goat,
catching him between the legs by the impetus she had obtained, sent him
sprawling on the deck, and her horns catching in his coat-tails, he and
she and I all went rolling over together.  There we lay, the Captain
spluttering and swearing incontinently, though scarcely able in his rage
to utter a word clearly, the goat tugging away to get again on her legs,
I all the time shrieking out lustily for help.  The officers, who had
been pacing the other side of the deck, could scarcely for laughter come
to their chiefs assistance, nor could he, from the struggles of the
goat, get again on his legs, for each time he made the attempt the
terrified animal in her efforts to escape his fury once more pulled him
down.  I however, had managed to roll out of the way, while my cries,
which did not cease, although I was clear of danger, caught the ears of
Toby Kiddle, who was coming along the main-deck.  He sprang up the main
hatchway ladder, and rushing up seized me in his arms.  Just then the
purser and surgeon managed to raise up the Captain; not, however, till
Nanny had almost torn off his coat-tails, and finding herself released
was scampering back to the fore-part of the ship.  The Captain's whole
frame seemed bursting with indignation and rage.  Just then his eye fell
on Toby Kiddle and me in his arms.

"Who did it?  Who did it?" he exclaimed.  "Who set them on?  You did,
sirrah--you did.  You shall have three dozen for your fun!"

"Please, sir, it was not me," answered Toby, "and it could not have been
the poor innocent child.  It was the goat, sir.  What put it into her
head to do it, is more than I can tell."

"Hang the goat!" exclaimed the Captain, who by this time had begun to
feel that his anger was not very dignified; and turning round he went
below to hide his annoyance, as well as to put on another coat, instead
of the nankeen garment which Nanny had destroyed.

"Ay, ay, sir," answered Kiddle, as he turned forward.  "I will take care
the goat never plays such a trick again."

As Toby had always objected to my riding the goat, he now came
triumphantly forward among those who had placed me on her back, telling
them the orders he had received from the Captain.

"But the skipper will lose his milk if you hang his goat," observed one
of them.

"Arrah, now, I suppose he is thinking it is time to wean himself,"
observed Paddy Brady, who had been the chief cause of the accident.

"At all events, his orders must be obeyed," observed Kiddle, "and so,
mates, as it was an evident case of mutiny, we will run her up to the
yard-arm at sunset.  To my mind, if the goat was got rid of, we should
have a quieter ship than we have now."

Fortunately, the preparations which the men were making for hanging the
goat were observed, and reported to the Captain.

"Really, I do believe I did say so," he answered to the
First-Lieutenant.  "Just go and tell Kiddle and the rest, that, in
consideration of her general good conduct, I purpose reprieving her.
That will settle the matter, and show my leniency and consideration in
favourable colours."

Thus our worthy Captain was in the habit of arranging even more weighty
matters, by which mode of proceeding, in spite of his eccentricities, he
warmly attached the ship's company to him.



CHAPTER THREE.

Time passed by, as it does in youth as well as in old age.  The ship's
company were looking forward to being relieved, for the frigate had
already been the best part of five years on the station.  I was learning
to knot and splice, and could already perform a hornpipe, if not with
much grace, at all events with an exhibition of considerable elastic
power, and greatly to the admiration of Toby Kiddle, Pat Brady, and my
other friends, as well as my father and mother and Mrs King.  They
would get round applauding me greatly, as I sprang up and down, shuffled
round and round and snapped my fingers, kicking out my legs in every
direction.  Sometimes the officers would come forward to have a look at
me, and on several occasions I was invited aft to exhibit before the
Captain.

Several changes had taken place on board, one of the lieutenants having
invalided home, while another had died, their places being filled by
others whom I shall shortly have to describe.  The brig we had captured
was ultimately brought into the service, and she was about to be
commissioned.  She was fitting out at Macao, and it was understood that
Mr Schank would take the command of her.  He had long been expecting
promotion, though frequently disappointed, and he now made sure that he
should obtain it.  He might also hope, in so fine a vessel, to make a
fair amount of prize-money.  He required it much, for he had an old
mother and several maiden sisters at home to support, besides two or
three younger brothers to educate and send out in the world.  This was
generally known among his brother officers, and, although the cut of his
uniforms was somewhat antiquated, and his best coat was tolerably
threadbare, even the most thoughtless never ventured to quiz him.  Every
sixpence he could save went to the cottage in Lincolnshire.  There his
father had been the incumbent of a living of under a hundred and fifty
pounds a year, on which he had to bring up his family and pay certain
college debts, which had hung like a millstone round his neck all his
life.  I mention these things now, although, of course, I did not hear
them till many years afterwards.  Mr Schank was still doing duty on
board the frigate expecting to be superseded, that he might commence
refitting the brig.  It had just become dark.  She was lying some
distance inside of us.  Happily for themselves several of the crew in
charge had come on board the frigate.  Suddenly a tremendous explosion
was heard.  Bright flames burst forth from the spot where the brig lay,
and a huge pyramid of fire was seen to rush upward towards the sky,
where it burst into a thousand fragments, which, scattering far and
wide, came hissing back into the mirror-like ocean, reflecting, ere they
reached it, a thousand bright lights on its tranquil bosom.

"What is that about?" exclaimed Captain Cobb, coming on deck.

"The brig has blown up, sir," was the answer.

"And so then are all my hopes!" exclaimed Mr Schank, who had followed
him on deck.  "Lower the boats though, and we will try and pick up any
poor fellows who may have escaped."

Mr Schank leaped into the first boat which reached the water, and in
his eagerness to save his fellow-creatures instantly forgot his own
bitter disappointment.  Three men only were picked up alive, floating on
fragments of the wreck.  It sank almost directly the boats got up to the
spot.  What had caused the catastrophe no one could tell, but the brig
certainly must have had a larger amount of gunpowder on board her than
was supposed.  Mr Schank therefore, as before, continued to act as our
First-Lieutenant.  Once or twice we returned to the Hoogley to refit,
and on one occasion we were sent round to Madras and Bombay on special
service.  We were running down the Coromandel coast; the wind fell, and
we lay, rolling our lower yardarms under in a long heavy swell, which
came moving onwards in giant undulations towards the coast.  We had to
get rolling tackles set up, for sometimes it seemed as if the frigate
would shake the very masts out of her.  The Captain was on deck
whistling away as was his wont.  I do not know whether he expected his
whistling to produce a breeze, but certainly I observed that he never
failed to whistle when there was a calm.

He was thus employed when Mr Schank, who had previously been on deck
for some hours, and had gone below to rest, once more made his
appearance.  He cast a look round, and pointed out a dark spot in the
horizon.  The order was immediately given to furl sails and strike
topgallant masts.  The royal-masts had previously been sent down.  It
was a time when a careless hold was likely to cause the stoutest seaman
a leap into eternity.  Scarcely was the ship made snug when down came
the blast upon her.  The sky grew of a leaden hue, and the long swell
was broken up into a thousand tossing seas, foaming and leaping, and
crossing each other in a way trying even to a frigate, and fearfully
dangerous to any smaller craft.  We, having been prepared in good time,
ran on before the wind, having, however, as it shifted, which it did
suddenly several points at a time, to change our course.  The gale was a
violent one, and did, I believe, send more than one ill-found ship to
the bottom, but it was fortunately short in its duration, and by
daylight had greatly decreased.  Pat Brady, who had as sharp a pair of
eyes as anyone on board, being on the look-out, discovered an object
floating far away on the lee-bow.  Whether it was a rock or a vessel on
her beam-ends it was difficult to say.  The ship was, however, kept away
towards it, and the master being consulted, declared that no rock was to
be found thereabouts.  As we approached nearer, there was no doubt that
the object seen was a vessel, and probably capsized in the late
hurricane.  The sea was still running very high, and washing over the
greater portion of it, almost hiding it from view.  Still the after part
was higher out of the water than the rest, and it was possible that some
human beings might still be clinging to it.  As we approached, the
frigate was brought on a wind, and hove to, but lowering a boat was
still an operation of danger.  All glasses were turned towards the
wreck.

"I cannot help thinking there may be somebody on board," exclaimed Mr
Harry Oliver, the mate I have spoken of.  "If you will let me go, sir, I
will board her," he added, turning to the Captain.

"As you like, Oliver," said Captain Cobb.  "You know the risk; you can
take a boat, but only volunteers must accompany you."

Mr Oliver smiled.  He knew well there would be no lack of them.  Pat
Brady was the first to spring forward, and Bill King and my father both
volunteered to go likewise.  The crew was soon formed, and the boat
safely reached the water.  Away she went.  No small skill was required
to keep her afloat.  My mother and Mrs King were looking on, and I have
no doubt offering up prayers for the safety of their husbands.  At
length the boat got round to the lee side of the wreck.  A cloth of
shawl of some sort was seen to be fluttering from under the weather
bulwarks.

The boat drew nearer.  "There is somebody there, to a certainty,"
exclaimed Mr Oliver.  "We may get up under her quarter, and an active
man may then leap on board."

My father volunteered.  The boat approached.  Taking a line in his hand,
he sprang on to the deck, half of which was under water.  Supporting
himself by the stump of the after-mast, and then catching hold of a
portion of the weather-rigging, he hauled himself to the upper part of
the wreck, where, secured to a stanchion, was what looked like a bundle
of rags, out of the midst of which appeared a brown face, while his ear,
at the same time, amidst the roaring of the sea, caught the sound of an
infant's cry, to which, since I came into the world, his ears had been
pretty well accustomed.  Although Mr Oliver and the men in the boat
gave him notice at that instant that the wreck was sinking, that cry had
aroused all the father's feelings in his bosom.  He sprang forward, and,
as a seaman only could have done, cut away the lashings which secured a
dark female, in whose grasp he then discovered a fair young infant.
Seizing the woman and child in his arms, as the bow of the vessel was
already sinking, he gave one spring aft, and struggled out of the vortex
of the sinking vessel.

"Haul away!" he cried out, while he held the rope with one hand and kept
his charges afloat with the other.  A strong man alone could have saved
them, and even a strong one, unless a truly brave fellow, would not have
made the attempt.  In a few seconds they were lifted safely into the
boat.  The infant breathed freely, and seemed not to have got any harm,
but the poor black woman suffered greatly, and this further immersion
had contributed still more to exhaust her.  Yet she was perfectly
conscious of what had occurred.  Her lips moved, and a smile lighted up
her countenance when she saw the infant lifted carefully in my father's
arms.  Unfortunately, there was no food in the boat, but just as Mr
Oliver was stepping in, the surgeon had put a small brandy-flask in his
pocket.  This he produced, and attempted to pour a few drops down the
throat of the poor woman, but the instant she tasted it she spat it
forth as if it was poison, and showed signs of the evident disgust she
felt at its being put into her mouth.  All that those in the boat could
do, therefore, was to make the best of their way back again to the
frigate.  There was not a sign of another human being on the wreck.  As
there were no boats, it was possible that the crew might have attempted
to make their escape in them, but then surely they would not have left
the woman and child behind.  When the wreck went down, scarcely anything
floated up by which any information could be gained as to what she was.
From her appearance, Mr Oliver supposed that she was a snow, possibly
belonging to one of the neighbouring ports.  The black woman, from her
dress and appearance, was at once known to be a native nurse--a class
noted for their fidelity to those to whom they become attached.  Not
without great difficulty and danger, the boat at length reached the
frigate's side, when a cradle was sent down into which the nurse was
placed, and hoisted on board, my father following with the infant.  I
rather think it created far more sensation than I did when I came on
board.  In the first place, it made its appearance in a more public
manner, and the Captain and officers crowded round to look at it and the
poor nurse.

"Wonder whether it's a boy or a girl," said Toby Kiddle, who was amongst
the foremost crowding round.  "If it's a boy the younker will make a
fine playmate for our Benjy.  Let's have a squint at it, Dick.  He won't
cut our little chap out, anyhow; but we'll let the Jollies have him in
keeping, and let them see what they can make on him.  He'll help, at all
events, to keep peace and quiet between us and them."

From the delicate features of the child, the officers seemed to think,
however, that Toby's hopes would be disappointed; and the small stranger
being forthwith committed to the charge of my mother, she soon settled
the question by pronouncing her to be a remarkably fine healthy little
girl, the child of Europeans, and from her dress, and the handsome coral
ring and gold chain round her neck, of people of some wealth and
quality.

The nurse was carried down into the surgeon's cabin, where Mrs King
came instantly to assist him in taking care of her.  The poor creature
had fainted almost immediately on being brought on deck; when, at
length, restoratives being applied, she opened her eyes, she gave a look
round expressive of grief and alarm, uttering several words in an
unknown tongue.

"It is the child she is asking for, sir," observed Mrs King.  "Of
course, that would be the first thing in her mind."

That Mrs King was right was proved when the child was brought to her.
Several times she pressed it to her bosom, but she had no nourishment to
afford it.  Then, giving one convulsive gasp, before the surgeon could
pour the restorative he had ready into her mouth, she sank back and
expired.  There was nothing about the woman to show who she was, or
whence she had come.  Her dress, as I have said, was that of an ayah or
native nurse, such as all Europeans employ to take care of their
children.  Conjecture was rife as to who the little stranger was.  What
the Captain and officers thought about the matter I do not know.
Forward, however, the general opinion ran in favour of her being of
exalted birth.

"She is a little lady, no doubt about that," remarked Toby Kiddle, as he
scrutinised her delicate features and the fineness of her clothing, and
the "Little Lady" she was ever afterwards called.

But to whose charge she should fall was the next question.  The Captain
had a wife ashore, but he seemed to think that she would not be
particularly well-pleased should he present her with an infant to look
after.  It would be something like reversing the order of things, and it
might be difficult to persuade her that he was entirely ignorant of the
child's parentage.

"You had better have her, Gunning," he said to the First-Lieutenant of
Marines, "you have eight or nine already, have you not?  And surely
another can make no odds, and your wife will be delighted, I'm sure.
Mrs Cobb would not mind standing godmother, I dare say, supposing the
little damsel is not christened, and, to make sure, it will be just as
well to have that done when we get home.  I suppose they can go to
heaven without it, but it is a matter I am not very clear about, and it
is as well to be on the right side, do you see."

These remarks of the Captain enabled Mr Gunning to think over the
matter.  He had only joined us a few months, and he had some idea that
on his return he should find a further increase to his large family.
Though he was a kind-hearted man, and really would have been glad to
look after the little stranger, yet he did not consider himself
justified in undertaking further responsibilities, in addition to those
already upon his shoulders.  Still, who could take care of the little
girl?  The junior lieutenants were all young men, not at all fitted for
the office.  The surgeon was not exactly the person to whom a female
infant could be committed.  The master was a good seaman, but a somewhat
rough hand, and he and his wife were known to live a cat-and-dog life
when he was ashore: whereby the service benefited, as he always took
care, for the sake of peace, to keep afloat.  Then there was the purser.
Her life was not likely to prove a happy one should he assume her
guardianship, for as his great and sole pleasure in life seemed to be
the laborious occupation of skinning flints, it was not likely that he
would afford her a liberal education or a liberal maintenance.  He was
therefore put out of the question.  The only persons, therefore, who
appeared at all eligible among the officers were the Captain, the
First-Lieutenant, and the Lieutenant of Marines.  Mr Schank, when the
matter was suggested to him, thought a good deal about it.  "Perhaps his
old mother would like to look after the little girl, he was sure she
would, and so would his sisters, and very fit people they were in many
respects, barring the expense she would be to them."

"What say you, Schank?  Suppose I help you in that matter.  I am in duty
bound to do so, and so you will excuse my making the offer," said the
Captain, his more generous feelings excited, as he thought of the
forlorn condition of the little creature.

Lieutenant Schank thanked him, and promised if his mother would accept
the charge not to decline his proposal.  In the meantime the Little Lady
was consigned to my mother's charge.  Next to me and my father, the kind
woman soon learned to love her more than anything on earth; in fact, she
felt for her as for a daughter.  The little creature from the first
clung to her, and from the way she looked into her eyes, I really
believe thought she was her own mother.  At first she would not let
Susan King even touch her, and shrieked out with fear.  Poor Susan's
tender heart was somewhat grieved at this.  Her outward appearance and
hoarse voice was indeed calculated to frighten a discerning child.
However, in time, the Little Lady became reconciled to her, though she
still always showed a strong preference to my mother.



CHAPTER FOUR.

I need scarcely say that I now, at all events, had a more powerful rival
on board than had existed since Quacko was consigned to a watery grave.
As may be supposed, the goat during a long sea voyage, where the food
was scarce, gave but a small quantity of milk, only sufficient indeed
for the Captain and any guest he might have at breakfast or tea.  I do
not believe that he would have sacrificed it for the sake of anyone
else, but directly the child was brought on board he issued an order
that the whole of the milk should be reserved for her use.  There was
something strange about this, for immediately the goat gave twice the
quantity that had for some time appeared on the Captain's table.  It
was, to be sure, whispered that some of the young gentlemen were fond of
milk for their tea, and from that time forward not a drop was ever seen
in their berth.  Before that time, one or two of them used to boast that
they had the art of manufacturing milk out of pipeclay, whereby they
accounted for the rare fluid which occasionally appeared on the
mess-table.

I remember clearly the funeral of the poor nurse.  As the Captain and
the First-Lieutenant had considered it important that her clothes should
be preserved, in the hopes of assisting in discovering to whom the
Little Lady belonged, Mrs King had dressed the body in one of her old
petticoats.  It was then sewn up in a piece of canvas, with a shot at
the feet, and placed on a grating near an open port.  The Captain, who
had somewhat obfuscated theological views, could not decide whether he
was bound to read the funeral service over the poor woman.

"Supposing she is a heathen--and I never heard of these black people
being Christians--I shouldn't think it was much in their way, eh,
Schank?  Would it not be something like sacrilege to bury her in a
Christian fashion?" he asked of the First-Lieutenant.

"As to that," observed Mr Schank, "I suspect we are apt to perform the
ceremony over a good many who have no more claim to be considered true
Christians than she possibly had."

"Well, I suppose it can't do much harm, eh, Schank?" observed the
Captain, after a moment's reflection, and the Little Lady's nurse was
buried, according to the notion of the crew, in a decent Christian
manner; they piously believing that, however she might have lived, she
would now at all events have a fair chance of getting a safe passage to
heaven.  We were during this time standing to the southward, and having
rounded the south of Ceylon, we touched at Point de Galle, and
afterwards at Colombo, proceeding on to Bombay.  Greatly to the
disappointment of the ship's company, the "Boreas" was here found to be
in such good condition, that, instead of going home, she was ordered
back to the China Seas.  Passing through the Straits of Malacca, we
returned to Macao.

We were here joined by another frigate, the "Zephyr," of thirty-six
guns.  Captain Peter Masterman, her commander, presented a great
contrast to Captain Cobb.  The former was a remarkably fine, handsome
man, with dignified manners and calm temper.  We received orders soon
afterwards to proceed to the Philippine Islands, there to reconnoitre
the Spanish force supposed to be collected near their chief town of
Manilla, and if possible to cut out from under the batteries which guard
the harbour certain richly-laden ships which it was understood had there
taken shelter.  We were also to attack all their armed dependencies, and
to give them as much annoyance as possible as we cruised up the
Archipelago.

As soon as we were clear of the land, the crews of the two frigates were
employed in making them look as much like French frigates as possible,
both as to rigging and hulls.  The Philippines, belonging to Spain,
consist of a number of islands, the largest of which is Luzon, and is
divided into two parts joined by an isthmus about ten miles wide.  The
capital, Manilla, where the cheroots are made, is situated on a bay of
that name.  It is a large place, consisting of several suburbs or towns
surrounding the city proper, which is built on the banks of the river
Pasig.  South of Manilla is the fortress of Cavite, situated at the
extremity of a tongue of land about two miles long.  It protects the
entrance to the only harbour in the bay of Manilla.  The arsenal is
within the fortress, and a number of vessels are built there.  It was
under the guns of this fortress that we expected to find our prizes,
and, in spite of its formidable appearance, to cut them out.  As we were
running down the coast of Luzon, the large island I have spoken of, we
captured a trader of considerable size belonging to the island, but, as
she was bound northward, Captain Masterman generously declined detaining
her after we had taken out of her all the cash to be found on board,
amounting to about six thousand dollars.  It was somewhat amusing to see
the grateful way in which the Spanish skipper thanked the Englishmen for
having so mercifully robbed him, so I have heard my father say.  It
might have been supposed that they had done him the greatest possible
favour, instead of having mulcted him of a pretty considerable sum.  He
also, to show his gratitude, told us that the squadron in the harbour of
Cavite consisted of four sail of the line and four frigates, but that
only one ship of each class was at all in a state to put to sea.  Our
Captain considered that two English frigates were fully able to cope
with a Spanish line-of-battle ship and one frigate, hoping to draw them
off the land if they could be persuaded to come out of harbour, and to
capture them in detail.  At all events, the news increased the good
spirits of the ship's company, and all on board anticipated some rich
prizes.

The next day we came up with several other vessels which were treated in
the same liberal manner, although those which were sailing south were
allowed to pass unmolested, lest it might have been suspected that we
did not belong to the friendly nation which we pretended.

Thus we proceeded on, till soon after sunset we approached the Bay of
Manilla, with the French flag flying at our peaks, and to Spanish eyes,
looking, I doubt not, like two Frenchmen.  We had to pass close to a
small island on which a signal-house stands, and it now became doubtful
whether we should be detected.  However, the Spaniards appeared not to
suspect us, and we stood on till we came to an anchor in about fourteen
fathoms at the entrance of the bay; both the frigates, however, keeping
their topsails at the mast-head, to be ready for a sudden start.

The night was very calm; and sounds from a great distance could reach us
across the water.  There was no chance therefore of our being surprised,
should the enemy have discovered our real character.  It became,
however, hopeless for us to attempt cutting-out any of the vessels, as
we should not have had sufficient wind to carry them off, even when we
had taken possession.  We, however, kept a very bright look-out, and the
men were in good spirits at the thoughts of the work they anticipated
the next day.

Before morning dawned, we and our consort got under weigh, and, with
French colours flying, slowly worked up the bay, which, being broad and
free from dangers, we were enabled to do.  Soon after sunrise, three
sail were seen to leeward, also apparently bound up the bay.  They were
soon made out to be gunboats, and the Captains congratulated themselves
on the prospect of quickly capturing them without difficulty.  I should
have before introduced a personage who, for a time, belonged to the
ship--Mr Noalles, our pilot.  He was supposed to be a Jersey man, as he
spoke French perfectly, and also Spanish, and several other languages.
He had been in the China seas for a considerable number of years, though
he was still a young man.  He had dark, strongly-marked features,
somewhat perhaps of a Jewish cast, with large black whiskers, and was
powerfully built.  He was greatly respected on board, as he was known to
be a good seaman and a determined character, but my father used to say
there was something about him he could not exactly make out.  He messed
with the officers, for he was perfectly the gentleman, and possessed of
a large amount of information, especially respecting that part of the
world.  I rather think that it was he who suggested the plan of
operations we were now carrying out.  Captain Cobb himself, having once
spent some time in France as a prisoner, spoke French sufficiently well
to deceive a Spaniard at all events, though I suspect a Frenchman would
soon have detected him.  Several of our men also had been in French
prisons, or had lived among Frenchmen, and if they could not speak the
language grammatically, they could at all events imitate the sounds of a
party of Frenchmen talking together.  The uniform of the officers did
not differ much from those of the French, while such alterations as were
necessary were speedily made.  It was a great source of amusement to the
men to see the officers who were about to act in the proposed drama
going through their parts, Captain Cobb flourishing his hat with the air
of a Frenchman, and uttering the expressions with which he proposed to
greet his visitors.

"I wonder whether we shall bamboozle the Dons," observed Toby Kiddle,
who, holding me in his arms, formed one of a group of seamen collected
on the forecastle.

"No fear of that, Toby," observed Pat Brady.  "If they once think we are
Frenchmen, they are such conceited fellows that they will never find out
that they are wrong."

Onward we stood, till soon after breakfast we opened the ships in Cavite
Road.  The glasses of all the officers were pointed in that direction,
when they made out three sail of the line and three frigates--tolerable
odds against us, it might be supposed; but they could not do us any harm
then, because four of them were without masts and the other two had only
their lower masts in, and no yards across.  We, therefore, if we could
get possession of the gunboats, should be at liberty to commit any
mischief we chose along the coast.  Three gunboats, at all events, were
likely soon to give us an opportunity of having something to say to
them.  The wind was so light that we made but little way, and thus about
two hours afterwards we lay about three miles from Cavite, and the same
distance from the city of Manilla.  At length, when nearly becalmed, a
guard boat was seen coming off to us from Cavite, and as she approached,
we made out that she pulled twelve oars, and had several officers and
men besides on board.

"Now, Mr Noalles," said Captain Cobb to the pilot, "do your best to
induce these gentlemen to come on board.  It will not do to let them
examine the ship, and then go back and express their suspicions, if they
have any."

As the boat came alongside, Mr Noalles, in excellent Spanish, politely
invited the officers and men on board.  The chief officer introduced
himself as the second captain of one of the frigates at anchor in
Cavite, and inquired who we were and whence we came.  Our pilot in
return replied that the "Boreas" and her consort were two frigates
belonging to the French squadron in those seas, that we had been
cruising for some time along the coast of China, where our crews had
naturally become sickly, and that we had come to Manilla for
refreshment; as also, should the Spanish Admiral be pleased to accept
our services, to form a junction with his squadron; Mr Noalles also
said he was desired to express a hope that the Spanish ships would
accompany us to sea.  Meantime, the seamen who had been stationed near
began jabbering French, as they had been directed to do, throwing the
Spaniards completely off their guard.  The Spanish captain, in reply to
what had been said, stated that the Governor had directed him to
acquaint the French that their wants should be immediately supplied,
"but," he added, "it is with great sorrow that we cannot accompany you
to sea, because the truth is, none of our ships can by any possibility
be got ready in less than two months, as our crews are sickly; and to
confess the truth, we are in want of every species of stores."

The boat meantime was secured alongside, and while the captain and
officers accompanying him were invited into the cabin, the seamen were
conducted below.  Captain Cobb acted his part very well, and probably he
was just as well dressed as many of the Republican naval officers of
those days, who were in the habit of assuming a somewhat rough exterior
and rougher manners.  Refreshments were immediately ordered, and our
consort having by this time got a considerable way up the bay, Captain
Masterman, who had seen the boat come off, arrived on board.  Captain
Cobb immediately introduced him as the French Commodore, giving the name
of an officer who it afterwards turned out was at that time dead.  Of
this fact, however, the Spanish captain was fortunately not aware, or
the ruse would have been discovered.

Captain Masterman was able to speak a little Spanish.  Refreshments
being ordered, the officers were soon engaged in pleasant and not
altogether uninstructive conversation at the table.  Our Captain, in
return, gave the Spaniards a large amount of information, not likely, it
may be supposed, to benefit them very much.  A great friend of mine,
Charlie Crickmay, one of the Captain's boys waiting at table, afterwards
gave me a full account of all that occurred.  As the Spaniards were
plied with wine by their polite hosts, their hearts opened, and they let
out all the information which it was necessary to obtain.

"Now, my excellent friends," said the Spanish Captain, "we will drink
success to the united exertions of the Spaniards and French against
those rascally British, who come out here and interfere with our trade,
and do us so much mischief."

Just then a midshipman came down to say that a large barge and a felucca
were coming off from the shore.  In reply to the toast, Captain Cobb
assured his guests that as far as they were concerned their great wish
was that the Spanish and French ships should never fail to fall in with
the English, as they had little doubt who would come off victorious.

"Of course, excellent senors, the Spaniards will always conquer their
foes, whenever the latter dare stay to encounter their prowess," was the
answer.

Our Captains continued to humour the gentlemen for some time till the
midshipman, again coming down, informed them that the large boats were
nearly alongside.  At length, Captain Cobb laying his hand on the
Spanish officer's shoulder, looked him in the face.

"My dear sir," he said, "you will pardon us for the little trick we have
played you; but the honest truth is, we are not the people you took us
for.  There is an old proverb which says: `Deceit is lawful in love and
warfare.'  In the latter it is at all events.  Though we have the flag
of France now flying, that of Britain generally floats over our decks,
and will, I hope, do so till our ships are paid off at home."

"Senor!" exclaimed the Spaniard, turning pale and gasping for breath,
"you surely are joking."

The Captain's answer assured him that he was not.  The poor man almost
fainted.

"Come, my friend," said Captain Masterman, "we intend you no harm.
Here, take a glass of wine, you will find it excellent Madeira, and be
assured that many a worse event might have happened to you.  All we
require is, that you should say nothing to your friends when they come
below.  You will meet them here presently, whoever they are, and believe
us on our honours that we intend no one any harm."

While Captain Cobb entertained his dismayed guest, Captain Masterman
went on deck to receive the new comers.



CHAPTER FIVE.

The first boat which came alongside was announced to be the barge of
Admiral Don Martin Alaba.  She rowed twenty oars, and had on board a
rear-admiral and two other officers, one of whom was the Governor's
nephew, who came to pay his respects to their supposed friends.  The
other, a felucca, contained the same number of officers and men, and
among them was an aide-de-camp of the Admiral's, who sent his
compliments and congratulations to the French, with the information that
they would be supplied with all they desired.  He also announced, which
was less agreeable to us, that several launches with anchors and cables
were getting ready to assist the frigates into the harbour.

Unless, therefore, a good excuse could be framed for not going in, our
true characters would immediately be discovered.  However, as Spaniards
are not very quick in their movements, it was hoped that some time would
pass before the arrival of the launches, and that an opportunity might
occur of taking a few more prizes without bloodshed.  The new visitors
were ushered down, with every mark of respect, into the cabin, while the
crews were handed below as the others had been.  The first glance the
Admiral caught of the Spanish captain's countenance gave him, probably,
some anxiety.  This was still further increased when Captain Masterman,
with a polite bow, requested his pardon for the trick which had been
played off on him and his countrymen.

"What trick!" exclaimed the Admiral.  "Surely you do not mean to say
that you are not the people we took you for?"

"We must confess that we are not," said Captain Masterman; "we beg to
assure you that neither you nor any of your countrymen will suffer the
least insult or hurt at our hands.  We must, however, request you
contentedly to remain on board for a few hours, after which time I have
little doubt that we shall be able to set you at liberty."

These remarks reassured the Spaniards, who were further reconciled to
their lot when they saw the cloth spread, and a number of covers brought
aft by active hands.  The table glittered with plate and glass, and
numerous well-filled bottles of ruby wine.  While, however, the dinner
was getting ready, the Spanish officers were invited to take a turn on
deck.  Their astonishment and vexation had been considerable before; it
was now increased when they saw a number of Englishmen come up, dressed
in the clothes of the Spaniards, and immediately jump into the Spanish
boat.  Several of the frigates' boats were also seen at the same time to
shove off with their officers and men well armed, and to pull towards
the three Spanish gunboats which lay at their anchors just outside the
river leading to Manilla.  The Admiral and his officers watched them
anxiously.  What could they be about?  On they went till they were
alongside the gunboats.  Not a sound of a shot was heard, not a trigger
apparently had been pulled.  In a short time the gunboats under sail
were seen slowly dropping down towards the frigates.

"Dinner is ready," observed our Captain to his guests.  "We will inform
you of the particulars of what has taken place after you have enjoyed
it."

The Spaniards were wise men.  They shrugged their shoulders, twirled
their moustaches, but said nothing, quickly following their hosts into
the cabin.  Their eyes could not help brightening up when they saw the
good dinner spread before them, for such will, with few exceptions,
touch the hearts of mortals of all nations.  Toasts were proposed,
healths drunk, and the Spaniards began to think that the accounts they
had read of British ferocity and British barbarism must have been
somewhat exaggerated.  Meantime the three gunboats were brought
alongside with about one hundred and twenty officers and men as
prisoners.  Several of their people had managed to escape on shore.  The
officers acknowledged to their captors that there were a considerable
number more gunboats in the harbour, all new and coppered, very fast,
and well fitted for service.  We, having plenty of provisions on board,
our Captain had ordered a good entertainment to be prepared for all the
prisoners, who showed no unwillingness to make themselves happy and at
home.  We had already had a pretty good morning's work, but the
Spaniards seemed still willing to present us with another prize, for
soon after the gunboats had been brought alongside, a second
felucca-rigged boat, pulling eighteen oars, was seen coming off.
Several officers were also aboard her.  As she came alongside, they were
received with the same politeness as the others had been.  The principal
officer informed us that he was Captain of the port.  He requested to
know for what reason the boats were detained, saying that if they were
not immediately restored the authorities would consider the two frigates
as enemies, and not only decline giving them any assistance, but direct
the squadron to come out of harbour and drive them off.

"Tell him what we know about the squadron," said Captain Cobb to our
pilot.

"Why, my friend," observed Mr Noalles, "you must be aware that you have
the larger portion of your squadron without their masts, and that even
the others will not be able to follow us for a fortnight at least.  We
know perfectly well what we are about; in fact, it must be confessed
that we are Englishmen!"

The start given by the Captain of the port was even more violent than
that of his predecessors.  What, had he actually run his head into the
lion's den, after so many of his companions had been already caught?
However, on being conducted into the cabin, he was received with shouts
of laughter from his countrymen, who by this time were feeling the
effects of the generous wine they had imbibed.  The Spaniards were,
however, able to punish us slightly in return by the information they
gave, that of the two merchant vessels we had come to cut out, one was
aground, and the other had landed her cargo in consequence of the
appearance of a suspicious looking ship of war, which we afterwards
ascertained was one of our cruisers, whose melancholy fate I shall some
day have to relate.

By this time we had fully two hundred prisoners on board, and a happier
set of prisoners it would have been difficult to find, for not only had
the officers' hearts been made merry, but the seamen had as much grog on
board as they could well carry.  There could be little doubt that by
this time the people on shore must have been fully certain of our real
characters.  Their suspicions must have been confirmed when they saw a
breeze spring up, and that we did not proceed into the roads as they had
supposed we should do.  Our Captains, who were as generous and liberal
as brave, now told the Spanish officers that they should be at liberty
to return on shore, offering to present them with the Admiral's barge,
the guard boat, and the two feluccas; nor would they even ask for their
parole nor impose a restriction of any sort upon them.  The Spaniards'
astonishment on being captured had been very great, but it was greater
still when they received this information.  I did not hear what the
Admiral said, but I know he made a very long speech, full of
grandiloquent words, that he pressed his hands to his heart very often,
and in other ways endeavoured to show his sense of British magnanimity.
Evening coming on, he and his countrymen took their departure in their
respective boats, some of which were rather overcrowded, as, of course,
they had to carry the crews of the gunboats which we had detained.

Our ship's company shook hands with all the men as they helped them into
their boats, and parted from them with three hearty cheers, as if they
had been their dearest friends.  As soon as our guests had departed, we
once more stood out of the bay with our three prizes, keeping away to
the south in the hopes of visiting other places before the information
of our true character could reach them.  The gunboats were manned, a
lieutenant from the "Zephyr" taking charge of one of them, and our
junior lieutenant and Mr Oliver having the command of the other two.

They were respectively named by the ship's company the "Bam," the "Boo,"
and the "Zel".  The "Zephyr" took the "Bam" in tow, while we had the
"Boo" and the "Zel".  It was young Mr Oliver's first command, and with
no small pleasure he descended the ship's side to go and take charge of
the craft, fully expecting to perform great deeds in her.  Many another
young man has done the same, and found, after all, his expectations
sadly disappointed.  I remember perfectly watching the little vessels as
they followed in our wake.  They were handsome, graceful craft, very
well fitted for the work for which they were intended, cruising along
shore, and being able to run into harbour again on the appearance of bad
weather.  Somehow or other Englishmen are apt to think if a vessel can
float she is fit to go anywhere, and that there is no considerable
difference between smooth water and a heavy cross sea,--a summer breeze
and a snorting gale.

Mr Oliver had with him a young midshipman, ten seamen, and a boy--a
very much smaller crew than the gunboat had under the Spanish flag.  Of
course, however, fewer Englishmen are required to man a vessel than
Spaniards, not but that Spaniards are very good sailors, but then they
have not got the muscle and the activity of Englishmen.  As a rule,
Spanish vessels are far better found than English craft, and are rather
over than under manned.  We continued to run down the coast without
meeting with any adventure till we sighted the large island of Mindanao.
We were standing off that island one night, when about midnight the
ship was struck by a heavy squall.  She lay over till her yardarms
almost dipped in the ocean.  Topsail and topgallant sheets were let fly,
and she soon again righted without much apparent damage to herself, but
at that instant there was a cry from aft that one of the gunboats had
parted.

The night was dark, and those who looked out could nowhere distinguish
her.  The frigate was, however, immediately brought to.  A gun was
fired, but there was no report in return.  A blue light was next ordered
to be lit.  No answering signal was to be perceived.  The missing boat
was the "Zel" under charge of young Harry Oliver.  He was a great
favourite on board, and many anxious eyes were looking out for him.
Another and another gun was fired, and blue lights ever and anon sent
their bright glare over the foam-topped waves.  While one of these blue
lights was burning, one of the men on the look-out whispered to another:
"What do you see there, Bill?  As I am a living man there is a long low
ship under all sail gliding by right in the wind's eye."

"And I see her too!  And I, and I!" exclaimed several men in suppressed
voices.  "Hark?  There are sounds.  There is music."

"Why, they are singing on board.  What can she be?  I for one would
rather never have looked on her.  Can you make out the words?"

"No, I should think not."

"Do you see her now?"

"No, she seemed to shoot right up into that thick cloud to windward."

Such and similar expressions were heard, and the men were still talking
about the matter when my father and Pat Brady, who had been below, came
on deck.  At that moment Mr Schank's voice was heard shouting out
"Shorten sail!" and the ship was brought speedily under still closer
canvas, barely in time, however, to enable her to bear the effects of
the second violent squall which came roaring up from the quarter where
the supposed stranger had disappeared.  Guns were again fired, and more
blue lights burned, and thus we continued waiting anxiously till morning
broke.  The other gunboat was safe, but it was too certain that the
unfortunate "Zel" had foundered, and that her crew and the brave young
Harry Oliver and his still more youthful companion had perished.  Many
hearts on board grieved for their loss.  I will not say tears were shed,
because, however poets may write about the matter, it is my belief that
British seamen are not addicted to express their feelings in that way,
unless perhaps occasionally a few do so when they become sentimental
with a larger amount of grog on board than usual, but even that is not
very common.  They are more inclined to become obstreperous and
combative on such occasions.

The latter part of our cruise was not likely to prove so successful as
the commencement.

Standing to the extreme south of the group, we came off a Spanish
settlement, guarded by a couple of forts, and which, as it was of
considerable size, our Captains determined to lay under contribution for
wood, water, and refreshments.  We fortunately captured a felucca a
short distance from the coast, and her master was now directed to stand
in and make our request for the articles we required known to the
authorities of the place.  They not understanding our amiable
disposition, or supposing that we were the bloodthirsty monsters we had
been described, declined acceding to our petitions.  There was no help
therefore but to attempt to take by force what was denied to our modest
request.  The wood and water we might have procured elsewhere, but
vegetables and fresh meat and other provisions we had no hopes of
finding.  We accordingly stood in towards the town, hoping that our
appearance would overawe the enemy.  The Spaniards, however, as soon as
we got within range of their guns, opened a hot fire upon us which
showed that they fully intended to keep to their resolution of not
rendering us assistance.  Hungry Englishmen are not well-pleased to be
baulked of their provisions.  The order was "Out boats and take the
fort."  Four boats shoved off, under command of Captain Masterman, and
made for the shore, in spite of the hot fire with which they were
received.  One, however, grounded on a sandbank, and several men were
hit while they were endeavouring to get her off.  The intention was to
take the fort.  They reached the beach, and on the men dashed, expecting
in a few minutes to be engaged in storming the fort.  As, however, they
were rushing up the hill, a large body of armed men appeared on the top
of it, five or six times their number.  A braver man than Captain
Masterman never stepped; but, unless the enemy were great cowards, they
could scarcely hope to drive them off, and to get into the fort at the
same time.  The walls, too, as they approached them, were seen to be far
more difficult to climb than they had expected.  Meantime the batteries
were keeping up a very heavy fire on the frigates, our guns making but
little impression in return.  With a heavy heart Captain Masterman gave
the order to retreat and the British had to hurry down to their boats,
while the Spaniards were rapidly advancing.  The latter, however, did
not venture to come to close quarters, being well content with their
success, but continued firing on the boats as long as they were within
reach of their muskets.  By this time the frigates had lost several men.
The "Zephyr"--her master and three or four men killed, and a midshipman
and several men wounded.  We lost five or six killed or wounded.  Among
the latter was Pat Brady, who came on board vowing vengeance against the
Spaniards wherever he should meet them.  The two frigates, besides, had
received considerable damage.

Our wheel was hit, the head of our mizzen-mast wounded, several of our
shrouds were cut away, and running rigging and sails much injured.  At
length a shot cut away two strands of our cable.  The gunboats which
joined in the fight had escaped with very little damage, although they
kept up a pretty hot fire on the fort.  There seemed to be not the
slightest possibility of our success, and as our chief object was to get
wood and water, which certainly could be obtained elsewhere, cutting our
cables, we made sail out of the harbour.  Altogether we had paid pretty
dearly for our morning's amusement.

I give the account, however humbling to our national pride it may be, to
show that it is possible for the bravest and most sagacious officers to
meet with reverses, and as a warning lesson to others not to think too
highly of themselves.

I leave the reader to count up what we did during the cruise, and to
judge whether we had much cause for congratulation, I had the account
from my father in after years, and, calculating profits and losses, I
rather think that the balance was terribly against us.



CHAPTER SIX.

The two gunboats, "Bam" and "Boo," had been a source of anxiety to our
Captain, ever since they came into our possession, and fears were
entertained, should another gale come on, that they might share the fate
of the unfortunate "Zel".  Their young commanders were ready to go
anywhere in them, but it seemed very unlikely, should they make the
attempt, that they would ever reach Canton, to which we were soon about
to return.  They were condemned therefore to be destroyed.  They were
beautiful looking craft, but were too likely to prove what the ten-gun
brigs of those days often did--coffins for their living crews.
Accordingly, all their stores being taken out of them, their crews set
them on fire and returned to the frigates.  I remember well seeing them
blaze away and at length blow up, at which I clapped my hands, having
some idea that they were fireworks let off expressly for my amusement.
The frigates' damages being now repaired, a course was steered for the
north.  Being greatly in want of water, we put into another harbour on
the coast where it was known that no Spanish settlement existed.  The
watering parties from our frigates proceeded to the shore, making six
boats in all, the men being well armed.  They ought properly to have
remained for each other, but our boats came off first, leaving the
"Zephyr's" to follow.  Casks were being hoisted up, when the officers,
through their glasses, perceived several men running down to the beach,
making signals that an enemy was coming.  Instantly all the remaining
boats were manned, and away they pulled to the support of those on
shore, led by the two Captains.  There was no time to be lost, for as
they approached the shore they saw our men defending themselves against
a vast number of enemies.  The natives, as the boats approached, took to
flight, but it was evident that the number of our people was greatly
diminished.  The officer commanding the watering party was alive, though
he had with difficulty escaped from the enemy, but two poor fellows lay
dead upon the beach, and a third was desperately wounded, and was
evidently dying.  No less than nine had been carried off as prisoners.
Our pilot, Mr Noalles, having accompanied the party, now proceeded with
Captain Masterman and a very strong body in search of the natives.
These, however, had fled at their approach.  At length our party came
upon a hut, in which a man was found who appeared by his dress and air
to be of some consequence.  He was lame from a wound, and had been
unable to make his escape.  Mr Noalles explained to him that we were in
search of our men, and demanded their instant release.  He was told that
unless they were delivered up, their village would be destroyed, and
their corn cut down.  He promised to use his influence with his
countrymen, and as our people retired to a distance, one or two persons
were seen to enter his hut.  After waiting, however, a considerable
time, no one approached.  Again the chief was appealed to, but he
declared that he had no power in the place.  At length Captain Masterman
directed his followers to set the village on fire, while our men rushed
into the corn fields, and in a short time made a clean sweep of several
acres.  Whether or not it was a wise proceeding, I think, is doubtful,
for it was too probable that the natives would either kill their
prisoners in revenge, or else make them labour as slaves to repay them
for the damage they had received.  This work being accomplished, the
frigates got under weigh, the Captains intending to call off a place
farther to the north where the Malay chief of the island resided, for
the purpose of making him exert his influence for the recovery of the
missing men.  We were not very far from the latitude where the
unfortunate "Zel" had foundered.  Our people very naturally talked of
their lost shipmates, and especially of young Mr Oliver, who, as I
said, was a great favourite with all of them.  My father especially
looked on him with much affection, having saved his life once, seemed to
regard him almost in the light of a son.  We had had a fair wind all the
morning, when suddenly it shifted round to the northward, and a sudden
squall very nearly took the masts out of the two frigates.  As it was
impossible to say from what direction the breeze would next come, we
continued standing off the land towards the town of Palawan.  The wind
had moderated, though it still blew strong, and we continued standing to
the west, when a small island was sighted on the weather bow.  As we
drew in with it, Pat Brady, who was one of the look-outs, declared he
saw a signal flying from the highest point in sight.  I speak of it as
an island--it seemed to be little more than a large rock--and the peak
of which Brady spoke was forty or fifty feet or so out of the water.
The ships' companies had been grumbling considerably at being delayed,
as they were anxious to get back to Canton, where, it was hoped, we
should receive orders to convoy the homeward-bound merchant fleet.  The
midshipman of the watch having reported what Pat Brady had seen, after
we had run on some distance, the ship was hove to, and the glasses being
directed in that direction, a man was made out waving apparently a shirt
from the rock.  A boat accordingly was instantly lowered and pulled
towards it.  The man kept his post for some time as the boat approached,
making signals to those in her to pull round rather farther to the
westward, as the surf beating on that side of the rock would prevent
their landing.  As the boat's head was once more put off the shore the
men caught sight of the person on the rock.  Pat Brady, who formed one
of the boat's crew, looked up at him with a glance of astonishment.

"I say, Jem," he exclaimed to the man next him, "either that's Mr
Oliver or his ghost, as sure as my name is Pat Brady."

"It's his ghost," was the answer, "for there is no doubt the gunboat
went down a week ago; and it's not likely he or any other man could have
swum out of her."

"By my faith, then," answered Brady, "it must be his ghost; and sure
enough he is more like a ghost than anything else."

As they were speaking, the figure disappeared from the summit of the
rock.

"I told you so," said Brady, "depend on it, when we land, we may hunt
about till doomsday, and we shall never find mortal man on this rock."
These remarks were overheard by the other men, who seemed to agree very
much with the opinions of the speakers.

"He is fathoms deep down beneath the water, depend on that," observed
another; "we shall never see young Mr Oliver with our mortal eyes
again."

At length Mr Martin, the Second-Lieutenant, who had gone in command of
the boat, overheard the remarks of the men.  He, however, from being
somewhat near-sighted, had not observed any likeness in the figure on
the rock to his lost shipmate.  "Mr Oliver, do you think he is?  I only
hope so."

"No, sir, we don't think it's Mr Oliver; but we think it is his ghost,"
blurted out Pat Brady; "and as to finding him, there's little chance we
shall have to do that."

"We will have a look for him at all events," answered Mr Martin.  "Give
way, lads, I see the place he pointed out to us; and if he is a ghost,
at all events he has an eye for a good landing-place."

The boat accordingly pulled in, and a small bay was found where the men
could land with perfect ease.  No one, however, was to be seen, and this
confirmed the opinions the seamen had expressed.  The island was rather
larger than it appeared from the sea, and Mr Martin, leaving a couple
of men in charge of the boat, proceeded with the rest inland.  They
looked about in all directions, and yet no human being could they
discover.  He at length began almost to fancy that they must have been
deceived by some means or other, and yet he was certain that the figure
he had observed at the top of the rock was that of a human being.  I
should have said that when the boat was lowered a bottle of water and a
flask of spirits, with a small quantity of food, had also been put into
her.  This the men carried, it being supposed probable that the person
on the rock would be suffering from hunger and thirst.

"It's of no use," observed Pat to one of his companions.  "I knew it was
a ghost from the beginning, or may be just the devil in a man's shape to
try and draw the ship in to get her cast away.  We none of us know what
tricks he can play."

At length the men began to be positively uneasy, and to wish their
officer to return.  Mr Martin, however, had determined to examine the
island thoroughly, before he gave up the search, being perfectly
convinced that he had seen a man on the rock, though why he had
afterwards hidden himself was unaccountable.

The distance by water from the rock was, in consequence of the shape of
the shore, considerably less than by land, and this might have accounted
for their getting there before the person they had seen, but some other
reason had now to be found for his not appearing.  The more level part
of the land had been passed over.  No signs of water had been
discovered.

"Ah, poor fellow!" exclaimed Mr Martin, "he must, at all events, have
suffered greatly for want of that."

They now got near to the foot of the rock, on the top of which the man
had been seen.  All the sides appeared inaccessible, and it was
unaccountable how he could have got up there.  This further confirmed
the men in the idea that they had beheld a ghost or spirit of some sort.
Never, perhaps, before had their officer found greater difficulty in
getting them to follow him.  They would have done so ten times more
willingly against an enemy greatly outnumbering them, with the muzzles
of half-a-dozen guns pointed in their faces besides.  Mr Martin
continued to push on.  At length he came to a rock in which was a small
recess.  Beckoning with his hand to his men, he hurried on, and there he
saw, seated on the ground, the person of whom he had been in search,
with a boy apparently in the last stage of exhaustion in his arms.  He
himself was unable to speak, but he pointed to the boy's mouth, and then
to his own.  Mr Martin understood the signs, and shouted to the men to
come on with the provisions.  Even then he could scarcely recognise the
features of Harry Oliver, or of the young midshipman by his side, so
fearfully had famine and exhaustion told on them.  The men were soon
gathered round the sufferers.  Before Mr Oliver would take any of the
spirits and water brought to him, he watched to see a few drops poured
down the throat of his companion.  The effect was almost instantaneous.
His eyes, already glazing, it seemed in death, recovered a portion of
their brightness, and a slight colour returned to his deadly pale
cheeks.  A moderate draught of the same mixture greatly restored the
young officer, but he was even then unable to speak.

"I told you he was a live man," observed Mr Martin at last to the
seamen; "but if you had given way to your fears, you see in a very few
minutes more both our young friends would have become what you supposed
them already to be."

The men now hurried back to bring some of the boat's oars and a sail on
which they might convey the sufferers, for Mr Martin was anxious to get
them on board without further delay.  After waiting a little time
longer, he considered that they were sufficiently recovered to be
removed.

Great was the astonishment, and greater still the satisfaction, of all
on board when they arrived alongside.

The young midshipman hovered for a considerable time between life and
death.  Had it not been, I believe, for the watchful care of my mother
and the surgeon, he would, after all, have sunk under the hardships he
had endured.  Not, indeed, till the following day, was Mr Oliver
himself able to give an account of his escape.  Except the man at the
helm, the crew of the gunboat had been forward when the squall came on.
He and the midshipman Bramston were standing aft.  He recollected, as
the vessel sank beneath his feet, catching the lad in his arms, and
springing over the taffrail.  As to what became of the man at the helm,
or the rest of the crew, he could not tell.  For a few seconds he was
drawn under the water, but returning to the surface again, he found
close to him several spars that had been lashed together, but, as it
appeared, not secured to the deck of the vessel.

On these he threw himself and his young charge.  A current, he supposed,
swept them away to the westward.  When daylight broke, he could clearly
see the frigate; but after he had anxiously watched her, he observed her
standing to the southward.  He had little hopes of surviving, yet he
resolved to persevere to the last.  Still the spars afforded but a
slight support.  He had to dread, too, the attack of sharks.  About two
hours after daylight, however, he observed floating near him the stock
of a large ship's anchor.  Leaving young Bramston secured to the spars,
towing them, he swam towards it.  This afforded him and his companion a
far safer resting-place.  He was now able to lash several spars to the
timber, while another formed a mast, and a second, which he and Bramston
cut through with their knives, supplied them with paddles and a yard.
On this they spread their shirts, which they split open.

As the sun rose, his beams fell on an island in the far distance.  The
wind was fair, and towards it they directed their course.  The current,
too, favoured them.  Without this their progress would have been very
slow.  They soon began to feel the want of water, but Oliver urged
Bramston on no account to drink the salt water.  The midshipman, on
searching in his pockets, happily found a small quantity of biscuit,
which he had thoughtlessly put there, he supposed, after supper that
very night.  This supplied them with food when their hunger became
ravenous.  Thus they sailed on the whole day.  Happily the night was not
very dark, and they were thus able to keep the island in sight.  It was
almost daylight the next morning when at length they found themselves
driving in towards the rocks.  With great difficulty they kept off, and
coasted round to the very bay where Mr Martin had landed.  Finding,
however, that they could not get in their frail raft, they had after
all, having repossessed themselves of their shirts, to swim on shore,
Mr Oliver towing young Bramston, who was supported on a spar.  They
were almost exhausted when they landed, but, finding a shady place under
a rock, they fell asleep, and awoke considerably refreshed.  A few
handfuls of water, in a crevice of a rock, assisted to keep them alive,
while they, not without considerable danger, managed to collect some
shell-fish from the rocks.  Still, they found their strength daily
decreasing, till the young midshipman was utterly unable to move.  Every
day Mr Oliver had climbed to the top of the rock in the hopes of some
vessel passing.  His joy at seeing his own frigate may be conceived.  It
was greatly damped, however, on finding that his young companion was, as
he supposed, at his last gasp; and had not the Lieutenant and his party
arrived at the moment they did, there can be no doubt that the lad would
have died.  He himself, indeed, was so exhausted, that he could with
difficulty find his way down the rock, and after that was unable to move
farther.

On our return to the Phillipines, the Sultan, as the chief was called of
whom I have spoken, had, we found, recovered our men, who little
expected to be rescued from the hands of the savages.  We then proceeded
to Canton, where we found the homeward-bound merchant fleet ready to
sail.  We had work enough, I have an idea, in keeping our convoy of old
tea-chests, as the merchantmen were called, together.  I may say,
however, that at length, after no small amount of anxiety to the
Captains of the frigates, we arrived safely in the Downs.  Our task
performed, we were ordered to Portsmouth to be paid off.



CHAPTER SEVEN.

My poor mother was crying bitterly.  It was at the thoughts of parting
with the Little Lady.  In vain my father attempted to console her.  Give
her up, she said she could not.  She loved her almost as her own child.
Lieutenant Schank had written home to his mother and sisters, who, in
return, had expressed their perfect readiness to receive the Little
Lady.  But how was she to be conveyed into Lincolnshire?  Captain Cobb
amply fulfilled his promise by putting a handsome sum into the
Lieutenant's hands.

"There, Schank," he said; "it is not you who receive it, remember, it is
the little girl, so do not talk of thanking me.  I only wish I had been
rather more certain of what Mrs Cobb would say, or that I felt
considerably more sure than I do that she would be pleased, and I should
have liked to have had the Little Lady myself.  It would have been a
matter of interest to hear about her when one was away from home, and a
pleasure to look forward to see her again.  She promises to be a sweet
little creature.  Your womenkind will be well-pleased to see her, depend
on that; and I say, Schank, if I can help her on in the world in any way
I will do so.  Remember, we are old shipmates, so do not stand on
ceremony."  As Captain Cobb went on talking, and thought of parting from
the Little Lady, his heart warmed up; and at that time, I believe, if he
had had the will, he would have given her half his property.  However,
there was one thing to be said of him: in spite of his peculiarities, he
was a man who would never depart from his word, and that Mr Schank knew
very well.  But that in no way detracted from the Lieutenant's
generosity, for he had made up his mind to take charge of the Little
Lady, whether the Captain assisted him or not.  Highly as he esteemed my
father and mother, he considered perhaps justly, that they were not in a
position to bring up a little girl whose parents were evidently
gentlefolks.  Be that as it may, it was settled that she was to be sent
off as soon as an opportunity should occur, to old Mrs Schank's
residence, in the village of Whithyford, Lincolnshire.  The difficulty
of sending her there was solved by the offer of my mother to convey her
herself, with the sanction of my father; indeed, he proposed to go down
also, provided the journey could be delayed till the ship was paid off.

"Two children, you see, sir," he said to Mr Schank, "would be rather
too much for my good woman to take charge of alone, and I suppose, sir,
it would not just do for you to go and help her.  People might think
what was not the case."

Mr Schank laughed.  He had never thought of that, and certainly had not
bargained either to take care of one child himself, or to assist my
mother in taking care of two.

"By all means, Burton," he said.  "I have some business in London which
will keep me for a few days, and the Little Lady will give interest and
amusement enough to my family till I make my appearance."

The heavy coach took us to London under the escort of Lieutenant Schank,
who saw us off for Whithyford in another, far heavier and more
lumbering.  My father and I went outside; my mother and the Little Lady
had an inside place.  Behind sat a guard with a couple of blunderbusses
slung on either side of him, dressed in an ample red coat, and a brace
of pistols sticking out of his pockets.  There were a good many
highwaymen about at the time, who robbed occasionally on one side of
London, and sometimes on the other, and an armed guard, from his
formidable appearance, gave the passengers confidence, though he might
possibly have proved no very efficient protector if attacked.  My father
was in high spirits, and pointed out everything he thought worth
noticing to me on the road.  Each time the coach stopped he was off his
seat with me clinging to his back, and looking in at the window to
inquire if my mother or the Little Lady wanted anything.  Now he would
bring out a glass of ale for one, now a cup of milk for the other or for
me, or sandwiches, or cakes, or fruit.  He had the wisdom never to let
me take either ale or grog.  "Very good for big people," he used to say,
"but very bad for little chaps, Ben."

At length we were put down at the inn at Whithyford.  Mrs Schank lived
down a lane a little way off the road, and thither, my mother carrying
the Little Lady on one arm and holding me by the other, and my father
laden with bundles and bandboxes, we proceeded.  The cottage was
whitewashed, and covered with fresh, thick thatch.  In front was the
neatest of neat little gardens, surrounded by a well-clipped privet
hedge, and the greenest of green gates.  Indeed, neatness and order
reigned everywhere outside as it did, as I was soon to find, in the
interior.  The Misses Schank had been expecting us.  Three of them
appeared at the door.  They all seemed much older than Lieutenant
Schank.  Two of them were very like him, tall and thin, and the other
bore a strong resemblance, I thought, to our worthy Captain.  Their
names I soon learned.  There was Miss Martha, and Miss Jemima, and the
youngest--a fat one--was Anna Maria.  They all shrieked out in different
tones as they saw us.  Miss Anna Maria seized me in her arms and gave me
a kiss, and then, looking at me, exclaimed, "Why, I thought it was to be
a little girl!  This surely is a boy!" at which her sisters laughed, and
bending forward, examined the Little Lady, who was still in my mother's
arms, and whom Miss Anna Maria had not observed.  Miss Martha at length
ventured to take her in the gentlest possible manner and kissed her
brow, and said, "Well, she is a sweet little thing; why, Mrs Burton, I
wonder you like to part with her," at which observation my mother burst
into tears.

"I don't, ma'am, indeed I don't," she answered; when gentle Miss Martha
observed, "I did not wish to hurt your feelings, Mrs Burton"; and Miss
Anna Maria, who was fond of laughing, said something which made her
laugh, and then she laughed herself, so that with between crying and
laughing we all entered the cottage and were conducted into the parlour,
on one side of which sat old Mrs Schank in a high-back chair, and in a
very high cap, and looking very tall and thin and solemn, I thought at
first.

My father followed with the bundles and bandboxes, but stood in the
passage, not thinking it correct for him to advance into the parlour.

"Who is that?" asked the old lady, looking up and seeing him through the
open door.

"Please, ma'am, that is my husband," answered my mother, courtesying.

"What is he?" inquired the old lady.

"A sailor, ma'am."

"Eh, my son is a sailor, my Jack is a sailor, and I love sailors for his
sake.  Let him come in.  Come in, sailor, and put those bundles down;
they may tire you.  There, sit down and rest yourself.  And this is the
little girl my son wrote about.  Let me see her, Mrs--what is your
name?"

"Burton, ma'am," answered my mother.

"Let me see her, Mrs Burton.  A very pretty sweet little damsel she is;
and whose child is she, do you say?"

"That is what we do not know, ma'am," answered my mother.

"And I am sure I do not," said the old lady, who, I should observe,
never was at a loss for a remark.

"Well, that does not much signify; we shall like her for herself.  And
who is that little boy?"

"That is my son, ma'am," answered my mother.

"Oh!  Then he is not the little girl's brother, I suppose?"

"No, ma'am," answered my mother, "though I love the little girl as if
she were my own child, and indeed I sorely feel the thoughts of parting
with her."

"Very natural, and right, and proper," remarked the old lady.  "I am
sure I should love such a pretty little damsel, especially if I had
nursed her as I suppose you have.  However, we will not talk about that
just now.  You and your husband must stay here for some days, and your
little boy too, until this little lady gets accustomed to us.  I
suppose, sailor, you do not want to go to sea in a hurry?  What is his
name, my good woman?"

"Richard Burton," answered my mother, "late quarter-master of HM frigate
`Boreas'."

"Well, Richard Burton, you may make yourself at home here, and as happy
as you can.  My son Jack has written to us about you, only I could not
recollect your name."

Although the old lady did not appear at first very wise, she had,
however, a fair amount of shrewd good sense, and she was excessively
kind, and liberal, and generous as far as she had the means.  The ladies
had prepared a very nice room for my mother and father, and I had a bed
in a corner of it, and they really treated them as if they were guests
of consequence.

While the old lady was speaking, Miss Anna Maria stood laughing and
smiling at me, trying to gain my attention and confidence.  As I looked
at her I thought she must be very good-natured.  She was short, and very
round and fat, with black twinkling eyes and a somewhat dark complexion,
a smile constantly playing on her mouth.  Her sisters, as I have
remarked, reminded me very strongly of their brother.  They all made a
great deal of me, and still more of the Little Lady.  Having no
servants, they did everything themselves, and were busily occupied from
morning till night, each having her own department.  Miss Anna Maria was
cook, and I used to think that perhaps that made her so fat and dark.  I
took great delight in helping her, and soon learned to peel the
potatoes, and wash the cabbages, and stone the raisins for plum
puddings.  Indeed, knowing well that occupation is useful, not only for
small boys but for big ones, she set me to work immediately.  Not only
did they work indoors but out of doors also, and kept the garden in
perfect order, trimming the hedges and mowing and digging.  Besides
this, they found time to read to their old mother, as well as to
themselves; and from the way they talked of books and things, I have no
doubt were very well informed, though I was no judge in those days.  In
the parish in which they had all been born they were looked up to with
the greatest affection.  They had done much to civilise the people and
to keep them from falling back into a state of barbarism, or, I may say,
heathenism, for the vicar of the parish was a hunting parson who was
seen once a week in the church, where he hurried over the service, and
read a sermon which lasted some twelve or fifteen minutes; the shorter
the better, however, considering its quality.  His horse used to be led
up and down by a groom during the time, and as soon as his work was over
he remounted and rode off again, not to be seen till the following week
unless one of his parishioners died, and he could get no one else to
perform the funeral service.  He seemed to think that the Misses Schank
had a prescriptive right to labour in the parish; but he was excessively
indignant when on one or two occasions a dissenting minister came to
preach in a barn; and he declared that, should so irregular a proceeding
be repeated, he would proceed against him as far as the law would allow.
My kind friends' father had had three or four successors.  The one I
speak of, I think, was the fourth, and, I hope, an exception to the
general rule.

"It will not do for us to complain," observed the mild Miss Martha, "but
I do wish that our vicar more resembled a shepherd who cares for his
sheep, than the wolf he must appear to the poor people of the parish.
He takes to the last penny all he can get out of them, and gives them
only hard words and stones in return."  Miss Martha, however, bless her
kind heart, gave the poor people not only gentle words, but many "a cup
of cold water," in the name of Christ, and to the utmost of her means
assisted her poorer neighbours, as, indeed, did also her sisters.  Many
a day their meals were dry crusts and tea, when they were giving
nourishing food, good beef and mutton, to some of the poor around them,
requiring strengthening.  I mention these things because it will show
that the Little Lady had fallen into good hands.  My father and mother
did all they could to help them, and certainly their labours were
lightened after our arrival.  The very first morning my father was up by
daylight, with spade in hand, digging in the garden, while my mother
helped Miss Anna Maria in the kitchen.  Indeed, my father was not a man
to eat the bread of idleness either ashore or afloat.

The happiest day we had yet spent was that on which Mr Schank arrived.
It was delightful to see the way in which his old mother welcomed him;
how she rose from her seat and stretched out her arms, and placed her
hands on his shoulders, and gazed into his weather-beaten face; and how
his sisters hung about him, and how Miss Anna Maria, who, I ought to
say, was generally called the baby, came and put her short fat arms
round his neck and kissed him again and again, just as she used to do
when she was a little girl.  Indeed, just then she evidently had
forgotten her own age and his, and probably thought of him just as she
did when he came home a young midshipman the first time from sea, proud
of his dirk and uniform, and full of the scenes he had witnessed and the
wonders of the foreign lands he had visited.  He patted me on the head
very kindly, and told me he hoped I would some day be as good a seaman
as my father.  Then he told his sisters that he had been making interest
to obtain a warrant for Burton as a boatswain, and that he had little
doubt he would get it, for a better seaman never stepped, while it was
hard to find a more trustworthy or braver man.  "Not that I have any
interest myself," he observed, "but I have put young Harry Oliver up to
it, and he has plenty of interest, and so he made the application in my
name through his friends."

"If it is a good thing, brother Jack, to be a boatswain, I shall be so
glad to tell Mrs Burton," said Miss Anna Maria.  "She is a very nice
good creature, and I should like to make her happy."

"Yes, baby, it is a great rise for a seaman," answered Mr Schank, "and
I have no doubt Dick Burton is the man to appreciate it; so if you like,
you can go and tell them, for I feel very sure he will obtain it."

I understood very clearly all that was said.  Miss Anna Maria, taking me
by the hand, hurried off to the kitchen, where my father and mother were
sitting.  I scarcely know which was the better pleased to hear this good
news.  I rather think my father was.  My mother remarked that it was
what her Richard fully deserved; indeed, I rather suspect that if she
had been told he had been made a lieutenant or even a commander, she
would only have thought that he had received his deserts; but that was
all very right and proper.  It is a great thing that a woman should have
a high opinion of her husband, and it is a very unhappy matter for her
when she has not, or at all events when he does not deserve it.

I believe my father had several times proposed leaving Whithyford, and
looking out for a ship; but my mother urged him to stay a day or two
longer, for she could not bear to part from the Little Lady.  At length
he said he must go; and though Mr Schank told him that he was welcome
to remain, he said that he had been idle long enough, and must now look
out for another ship.

"But, Burton, do you intend to take your wife to sea again with you?"
asked the Lieutenant.

"I should like to, sir; and yet I am rather doubting about it," he
answered, "even if I can obtain permission; but if I do not, she would
like to go and pay a visit to her friends in Ireland.  It is a long time
since she has seen them, and they made her promise to go when she could,
and now that I am likely to be a warrant officer, they will look upon
her and her boy with more respect than they might have done.  Do you
see, sir, they are a somewhat upper class of people.  Polly loved me,
and so we married; but they seemed to think that she was letting herself
down greatly in splicing with a seaman, and would not, indeed, for some
time have anything to say to her."

Mr Schank reported this to his sisters.  They, however, had taken such
a liking to my mother, that they had made up their minds to ask her to
stay with them instead.  They knew that they had a powerful inducement
to make her accept their invitation; and Miss Martha, with a good deal
of tact, took care to make the offer, holding the Little Lady in her
arms, and when she smiled and held out her hands to my mother, very
speedily gained the victory.  My father was too glad to leave his wife
in such safe keeping, and so the matter was soon arranged.

My father was appointed to a sloop of war, which he at once joined, and
in which he saw a good deal of hard service.

Several captains applied for Mr Schank, who was looked upon as such an
excellent First-Lieutenant, that even his best friends declared that it
would be a pity to have him promoted.  The Admiralty, however, sent him
to look after a young lord in delicate health and indolent disposition,
who required a cruise to improve the first, and a man who would do all
his work for him, in order that he might indulge in the second.



CHAPTER EIGHT.

The Little Lady grew apace, and flourished under the careful nursing of
my mother and the Misses Schank.  They gave her the name of Emily, in
compliment to an elder sister whom I have not before mentioned--a great
invalid, who never left her room.  I had, indeed, not seen her, for she
was so nervous that it was feared I might agitate her.  The Little Lady
was, however, once taken in to her, and she was so pleased that she
insisted on seeing her every day.  She was, I afterwards learned, not
only an invalid, but occasionally affected in her mind, from some great
grief which had occurred to her in her youth.

Time rolled on.  I was somewhat spoiled, I think, by the kind ladies,
who treated me completely as if I had been in their own position in
life, and took great pains to teach me all I was then capable of
learning.

At length my father came back to Whithyford.  He could not remain long,
for he had been appointed to another ship.  He told my mother that he
had been so unhappy without her that he had got leave to take her and me
with him, as I was now big enough to go to sea.  My mother was too
sensible a woman not to know that she must some day of necessity part
from the Little Lady, and though it was like wrenching her very
heartstrings, she, without hesitation, agreed to accompany her husband
and take me with her.  Our kind friends were, I know, very sorry to part
with us.  The old lady folded her arms round me, and kissed me on both
cheeks, and on my forehead, and blessed me, and told me she hoped I
should be as brave and good a man as her son, and also as my father.
The frigate was fitting out at Portsmouth for the Mediterranean station.
She was the "Grecian," of thirty-eight guns, commanded by Captain Harry
Oliver, who, three years before, had been a Master's mate in the
"Boreas".  He having since then served two years as Lieutenant, and one
as Commander, had just been posted to her.  Some men in Mr Schank's
position would have declined serving as First-Lieutenant under an
officer who had before served under him, but Mr Schank had no pride of
the sort, and when Captain Oliver applied for him he readily consented
to accept the offer.

There was every probability of our having a happy ship.  I have
mentioned a young midshipman--Leonard Bramston--he was our junior
Lieutenant, having lately got his promotion; but the person above all
others I was delighted to see was Mrs King, whose husband had joined
the frigate.  Bill King proposed also himself applying for a warrant as
gunner.  However, for the present, he had come to sea with his old
rating as quarter-master.  While the ship was fitting out, my mother and
Mrs King lived on shore.  One Sunday we went to the Marine Barracks,
where we heard that Sergeant Killock and Tom Sawyer were stationed.
They were greatly pleased to see me.  The Sergeant tried to persuade my
mother to let me remain on shore and turn into a drummer boy, at which I
was very indignant, holding a blue-jacket to be a being of far superior
grade, and a blue-jacket I hoped shortly to become.  I was rather small
just then, but not smaller than some of the midshipmen who had joined
our frigate for the first time.  Mere mites of boys were frequently then
sent to sea, who looked more fit to wear pinafores, and be attended by
nurses, as far as size was concerned; and yet, though now and then they
got into mischief and did not do very wise things, yet occasionally they
performed very gallant actions, such as men twice their age might have
been proud of, requiring judgment and discretion as well as courage.  At
length we went out to Spithead and took our powder on board.  Blue Peter
was flying, the remainder of the stores for the officers came on board,
the ship was cleared, the band struck up, the seamen tramped round with
the capstan bars to a merry tune, the topsails were sheeted home, and
with a blue sky above us and bright water below, we stood down the
Solent towards the Needle passage.  It was a gay and beautiful sight.  I
had been so long on shore that I had almost forgotten all about a ship.
The men looked so smart and active, for Mr Schank had taken care to get
a picked crew, which some officers in those days could get and some
could not; the Captain and Lieutenants and midshipmen in their new
uniforms looked so spruce, and the marines so trim and well set up, that
I could not help rejoicing that I was once more afloat, though I did not
forget my kind friends at Whithyford, nor the dear Little Lady.  We
passed out at the Needle passage, with Hurst Castle on one side and the
tall pointed white rocks off the west end of the island on the other,
not ill-called Needles, sighting Weymouth, where the good old King
George the Third was accustomed to reside.  Bless his memory, say I,
for, though he might have had his faults, he was a right-honest
true-hearted man--brave as the bravest of his subjects, and firm too;
though those who opposed him called his firmness obstinacy.  However, I
am talking of things of which I knew at that period of my career nothing
at all.

I had grown by this time into a stout, hardy-looking lad, tall and
proportionably broad, so that I looked much older than I was, and thus I
was already rated as a boy on board the ship, though I was the youngest
on board, and likely to remain so for a considerable time.  When people
saw my mother, who looked remarkably young, and pretty as ever, they
could scarcely believe that I was her son.  Few people retain their
health and good looks as she did.  Running across the Bay of Biscay we
sighted Cape Finisterre, rounding which we stood in for the coast, in
hopes of picking up some of the Spanish Guarda Costas or any of the
enemy's merchantmen.  However, when standing in for Finisterre Bay the
wind dropped and we lay perfectly becalmed, rolling gently to the swell
which nearly at all times sets in on that coast.

Evening was approaching.  Our young Captain walked the deck with
impatient strides.  Though so gentle and quiet in his manners there was
a spirit in him that ever desired activity.  Several times his glass was
turned towards the distant shore.  He then summoned the master and
examined the chart.  We had fallen in, the day before, with a Portuguese
Rasca, from the master of which a good deal of information had been
obtained, and as an honest man and a patriot it was supposed that it
could be relied on.  Captain Oliver and Mr Schank were in consultation
for some time.  We guessed there was something to be done.  Now, I
thought to myself, I should like to see some fun.  They are planning
something, that is certain.  I wonder what it can be.  In a short time
the cutter and barge were ordered away, it being understood that Mr
Schank would take the command of the former and would be accompanied by
Lieutenant Spry of the Marines, while the Third-Lieutenant, Mr
Bramston, took charge of the barge.  Including marines and blue-jackets
the party mustered rather more than forty in all.  They waited till dusk
to leave the ship.  This just suited my plan of operation.  As the arms,
provisions, and other articles were being lowered into the boat, I
managed to slip down and to stow myself away in the barge forward under
a sail.  I required but little space for hiding away.  Just at dusk the
two boats shoved off, and away we went towards the shore; I heard the
men say that the object of the expedition was to cut out several luggers
lying in a small harbour with a town at the further end of it.  We had a
long pull, for we were at such, a distance from the coast that the
frigate could not have been seen from it.  At all events the inhabitants
of the town would not have suspected that any boats would come from a
vessel whose topgallant sails could only just have been visible.  At
length, after pulling for some hours, the lights on shore were seen, and
in a short time the boats came off the mouth of the harbour; but then it
was found that the luggers were some little way up it, and that a strong
fort guarded the town and entrance.  Mr Schank and the Lieutenant of
Marines agreed that the first thing to be done was to take the fort.  We
could not land close to it on account of the rocks, and therefore had to
pull some distance to the south before the party could get on shore.

When they all left the boats I had no fancy to remain behind, and
therefore scrambled out after the rest, although one of the boat-keepers
attempted to stop me by catching hold of my leg.  I escaped him,
however, and ran on among the men.

"Hillo, little chap!  Where did you come from?" exclaimed several of
them as they first discovered me.

I replied that I wanted to go and help them fight the enemy.  I was
passed to Mr Schank.  "Why, Ben," he said, "what business have you to
be here?  What can you do?"

"Please, sir, I can carry your flask if you will let me, or if anybody
is hit I can stay by them and help them."

"I have a great mind to send you back, Master Ben."

I entreated that I might be allowed to go on.  Perhaps he thought there
might be as much risk for me if I remained in the boat as there would be
should I accompany them.  He therefore, greatly to my delight, allowed
me to go on with the party.  On we pushed.  Mr Schank, it appeared, had
been on shore before at the place and knew the position of the fort.  We
had a heavy tramp, however, especially for him with his wooden leg,
which sank into the soft sand every step he took, and he sometimes had
to rest his arm on a man's shoulder to help him get along, but his
courage and determination were at all times equal to any emergency.  On
we went till we could see the dim outline of the fort across the sand;
it was a great thing to approach without being discovered, for, although
we had determined to get in at all hazard, if we could take the
Spaniards by surprise, the work would be far more easy.  There was no
cover, but we could only hope that the enemy would not be on the
look-out for us, or that if they were, their eyes would be turned
towards the harbour, the entrance-gate being on the land side.  I own,
at last, I felt my legs aching with walking over the soft sand.  I began
to wish that I had remained on board.  The men must have suspected how
it was with me, and at last one of them took me up and carried me on his
shoulders, and then another and another, for even my additional weight
was likely to tire the stoutest had they carried me long.  At last the
fort rose before us.  Mr Schank in a low whisper ordered the men to
move forward crouching down to the ground, to step softly, and not to
utter a word.  On we went, so close together, that had anybody watched
us, we might have looked like some huge animal moving on, or the shadow
of a cloud passing over the ground.  Our leaders hurried on.  The
drawbridge was down.  The marines were ordered to level their bayonets
and the blue-jackets their pikes, and charge on.  It was the work of an
instant.  The Spaniards were totally unprepared for our coming at that
moment, although, as it turned out, they had been informed of our being
in the neighbourhood, and a gun was found pointed for the purpose of
sweeping the passage should the fort be attacked.  Before, however, it
could be fired, the gunners had taken to flight.  In a few seconds we
were in possession of the fort.

Our men were pretty well knocked up with their long pull and march over
the sand, and the country might soon be raised, and overwhelming forces
sent against us.  The order was, therefore, given to spike the guns,
which was very speedily done.  The fort was found to contain eight brass
guns, twenty-four and twelve-pounders, with a considerable garrison.
Part of them, as we entered, laid down their arms to save their lives,
while the remainder scrambled over the walls, and made their escape to
the town.  Our boats had, meantime, made their way into the harbour,
which, now that we had possession of the fort, they could do without
molestation.  As soon as all the damage had been done to the fort which
time would allow, we once more embarked in the boats, and made a dash at
the luggers, which yielded without striking a blow.  Directly we had
taken them, however, and had begun to move down the harbour, a battery
on the opposite side, which we had not yet seen, opened its fire, and
continued sending shot after us, which could not however have been very
well aimed, for neither the boat nor the prizes were once struck.  It is
possible that the powder was bad, and the shot fell short.  As we
approached the mouth of the harbour we saw that the whole neighbourhood
was roused.  Beacon fires were blazing, guns firing, and musketry
rattling away in all directions.  As we were getting through the
passage, a pretty sharp fire of musketry was opened on us, but though
the shot fell thickly, no one was struck, though the boats and vessels
were so frequently.  It was my first battle, and a very bloodless one,
for I do not believe a Spaniard or Englishman was hurt.  Our six prizes
were very acceptable, for they were laden with wine, which was
pronounced very good of its sort.  It was broad daylight by the time we
got near the mouth of the harbour, and the land-breeze blowing enabled
us to carry out our prizes without difficulty, and with them under
convoy we sailed for Lisbon, where a good market could be found for
their cargoes.

When I got on board, instead of being received as a hero crowned with
victory, my father seized hold of me, and looked me sternly in the face.

"Ben," said he, "have you thought of the misery and anxiety you have
been causing your mother?  She has been in a fearful taking about you
ever since you went away.  How could she tell that you had not slipped
overboard?  I could not say that you had not, myself; but I have heard
of boys doing just as you have done, and so I guessed pretty well the
state of the case.  But I tell you, boy, I never saw her suffer so much.
I almost thought it would be the death of her."

"Oh!  Flog me, father!  Flog me!"  I cried out; for I could not bear the
thoughts of having made my mother unhappy.  "Tell Dick Patch to lay it
on thick.  The harder he hits the better.  I did not think, father, what
I was doing; indeed, I did not."

"No, Ben, I will not have you flogged," he answered, "your mother's
sufferings have been punishment enough for you.  I believe you did it
without thought, indeed, I know you did; and just do you go and have a
talk with her, and see how pale and ill she looks; and I hope that will
be enough to make you never go and do a thing again which will cause her
anxiety and grief.  The time will come when you will have to run all
sorts of risks and dangers, but it is a very different thing to run your
head into danger from fool-hardiness, and to go into danger because it
is your duty."  These remarks of my father made a deep impression on me.
I hurried below, and there I saw my poor mother looking more ill and
distressed than I had ever seen her:--her eyes red from weeping, and her
cheeks pale and sickly; and then when she told me how much she had
suffered, I burst into tears, and promised never to play her such a
trick again.

We took several other prizes on our way to the South; indeed, Captain
Oliver showed, that, young as he was, few officers were likely to prove
more active or energetic in their duties.  He was well off and did not
seem to care for the prize-money.  He thought of duty above everything
else.  It was his duty to injure the trade of the enemy as much as
possible, and he did so to the very best of his power.



CHAPTER NINE.

Some time had passed since the "Grecian" had entered the Mediterranean.
We had not been idle during the time--now cruising along the coast of
Spain and France, now down that of Italy, now away to Malta, sometimes
off to the East among the Greek Islands.  We had taken a good many
prizes; indeed, I may say that all our expeditions had been planned with
judgment, and carried out with vigour.  I had a very happy time on
board, for the men treated me with kindness, and I was so young that
even the officers took notice of me.  To Mr Bramston, especially, I
became much attached.  As he had known me in my childhood, he took more
notice of me than anyone else.  It has been my lot through life to lose
many kind friends, but I must acknowledge that they have been as often
replaced by others.  When Mr Schank heard from home, he never failed to
send for me or my mother, to give us an account of the Little Lady;
indeed, Mr Bramston and others, as well as our Captain, took a warm
interest in her, and always seemed glad to hear that she was going on
well.  Altogether, we were looked upon as a very happy and fortunate
ship.  However, a dark reverse was to come.

We were returning from Malta, and had run some way along the coast of
Italy, when the look-out from the mast-head discovered a sail on the
lee-bow.  It was just daybreak.  The sun rising over the distant land,
which lay like a blue line on our starboard side, shed his beams on the
upper sails of the stranger.  The frigate was kept away a little, and
all sail made in chase.  We continued standing on for a couple of hours,
when the wind drew more aft, and with studden-sails rigged on both sides
we glided rapidly over the smooth water, gaining considerably on the
chase.  She must have discovered us, for she was now seen to rig out
studden-sails, and to make every attempt to escape.  She was pronounced
to be a large polacca ship; and from the way she kept ahead of us, it
was very evident she was very fast.  This made us more eager than ever
to come up with her.  The general opinion was that she was a
merchantman, very likely richly-laden, and would undoubtedly become an
easy prize.  Our people were in high spirits, making sure that they were
about to add a good sum to their already fair amount of prize-money.  I
cannot say that these thoughts added much to my pleasure, considering
the very small share which would fall to my lot, but my father would
probably be very much the richer.  In those days, it was no uncommon
thing for a seaman to return from a cruise with a couple of hundred
pounds in his pocket; and of course, under those circumstances, the
share even of a warrant officer would be very considerable.  Mr Schank,
I doubt not, was thinking of the many comforts he would be able to
afford his family at home; and Mr Bramston, who had another reason for
wishing to add to his worldly store, was hoping that he might be able to
splice his dear Mary all the sooner, and leave her better provided for
when he had to come away again to sea.

Hour after hour passed by.  There was the chase still ahead and though
we had gained considerably on her, still there were many probabilities
of her escaping.  The fear was that we might not get up to her before
nightfall, and that then in the darkness she might escape.  The men were
piped to dinner, and of course the conversation at the mess-tables ran
on the probabilities of our capturing the chase.

Some time afterwards, just as the watch on deck had been relieved, the
main topsail gave a loud flap against the mast.  The other sails, which
had before been swelling out, now hung down.

"The wind is all up and down the masts," I heard my father remark, with
a sigh; and going on deck, such we found indeed to be the case.
Scarcely a cat's-paw played over the surface of the water, while our
canvas hung down entirely emptied of wind.  It was a time when Captain
Cobb would have almost cracked his cheeks with blowing for the purpose
of regaining it.  Captain Oliver, however, did no such thing, but,
taking his glass, directed it towards the chase.

"She is in our condition," he observed to Mr Schank.

"She is not likely to get away from us, at all events," remarked the
First-Lieutenant, taking a look at her also.

"I think, Schank; we may, however, make sure of her with the boats,"
observed the Captain.  "It will not do to give her a chance of escaping,
and she may get the breeze before we do."

"Certainly, sir," answered Mr Schank.  "It will be as well to secure
her, for fear of that."

"Well, as there is no great glory to be gained, I will let Mr Mason and
Bramston go in the boats," said the Captain.

The frigate's boats were accordingly called away.  The two lieutenants
and my father and a couple of midshipmen went in them, with altogether
about seventy men.  It was a strong force, but the ship was very likely
to have sweeps, and even a merchantman might offer some resistance
unless attacked by overpowering numbers.  The people cheered as they
pulled off, and urged them to make haste with the prize.  Never did an
expedition start with fairer prospects of success, and we fully hoped,
before many hours were over, to have the chase under English colours.
She was between four and five miles away at the time; but though the
pull was a long one, the men laid their backs to the oars for fear of a
breeze springing up before they could get alongside.  My mother had
shown considerable anxiety on former occasions when my father had gone
away on dangerous expeditions, yet, in the present instance, she seemed
quite at ease, as there appeared to be no danger or difficulty in the
enterprise.  Though no man ever loved his wife better than my father did
my mother, yet this never prevented him volunteering whenever he felt
himself called upon to do so, however hazardous and trying the work in
hand.  As may be supposed, no one thought of turning in that night.  All
hands were on the watch, expecting to see the ship towed by the boats,
or some of the boats returning with an account of their capture.  The
Captain and First-Lieutenant walked the deck with easy paces, every now
and then turning their night glasses in the direction of the ship,
hoping to see her, but still she did not appear.  At length the men
began to wonder why the ship had not come in sight, or why the boats did
not return to give notice of what had occurred.  Afterwards they grew
more and more anxious, and they imparted their anxiety to my mother.
Our gunner, Mr Hockey, who was somewhat superstitious, now declared
that he had dreamed a dream which foreboded disaster.  The substance of
it I never could learn, nor did he say a word about the matter till some
time had passed and the boats did not appear.  He was a man of proverbs,
and remarked that "a pitcher which goes often to the well gets broken at
last," by which he insinuated that as we had been hitherto successful in
our expeditions, a reverse might be expected.  All the boats had been
sent away.  The Captain's gig was under repair, but there was a small
dinghy remaining.  Mr Hockey went aft, and volunteered to pull in the
direction the ship had been seen, in the hopes of ascertaining what had
become of the boats.  The Captain was as anxious apparently as he was.

"Certainly, Mr Hockey," he answered.

Just then the sound of oars in the distance floated over the calm water.

"Stay, there are the boats," he said.

They approached very slowly.  At first it was hoped that they might be
towing the ship; but though they were evidently drawing near, no ship
could be distinguished.  At length they came in sight.  The Captain
hailed them.  The voice of a young midshipman answered: "Sad news, sir!
Sad news!"

"What has happened, Mr Hassel?  Where is the ship?"

"Beaten back, sir, beaten back!" was the answer, and the speaker's voice
was almost choked.  The boats, as they got alongside, were seen to be
full of people, but they were lying about over the thwarts in confused
heaps, those only who were at the oars appearing to move.  My mother was
at this moment fortunately below.  The gunner came down and entreated
her to remain there.  I, however, had gone up on deck, and was eagerly
looking about, expecting to see my father arrive.  Mr Hassel was the
first to come up the side.  He staggered aft to the Captain to make his
report.  Meantime whips were rove, and, one after one, those who that
afternoon had left the frigate in high health and spirits were hoisted
up dead and mangled in every variety of way.  Nearly thirty bodies were
thus brought on deck.  Many others were hoisted up and carried
immediately below, where the surgeon attended them, and of the whole
number only seven were able to walk the deck steadily.  I eagerly looked
out for my father.  He was not among those unhurt.  Among the dead I
dared not look.  I hurried below, hoping to see him under the hands of
the surgeon, but neither was he there.  My heart sank within me.  I
hastened to the main-deck.  There, with a lantern, I met my poor mother
frantically scanning the faces of the slain, who were laid out in a
ghastly row.  Eagerly she passed along, bending over the pallid features
of those who a few hours before had been so full of life and courage,
jokes escaping their lips.  Now as she looked at one, now at another, a
glance told her that the corpse was not that of her husband.

"Oh!  Mother!  Mother!  Where is father?"  I cried out at length, as I
caught sight of her.

"I know not, my boy, I know not," she answered.  "Oh!  Burton, Burton!
Where are you?  Has no one seen my husband?  Can anyone tell me of my
husband?  Where is he?  Where is he?" she frantically exclaimed, running
from one to the other, when she found that he was not among those
brought on board.

"The boatswain!" said some one.  "Bless her poor heart, I don't like to
utter it, but I saw him knocked overboard as he was climbing up the
polacca's side.  He would not have let go had it not been for a thrust
in his shoulder, and he was hit, I know, while he was still in the
boat."

"Who is that you speak of?" asked my mother, hearing the man's voice.

"Bless your heart, Mrs Burton, but I am sorry to say it," answered Bill
Houston, one of the few who had escaped unhurt.  "I was close to him,
but he fell by me before I could stretch out a hand to help him, and I
doubt, even if we had got him on board, it would have been much the
better for him, he seemed so badly hurt.  I did not hear him cry out or
utter a sound."

The lantern my mother had been holding dropped from her hand as she
heard these words.  All hope was gone.  "Oh I give me back my husband I
give me back my husband!" she shrieked out.  "Why did you come away
without him?"

"Oh!  Mother!  Mother!  Don't take on so!"  I exclaimed, running up to
her.  She put her hands on my shoulders and gazed in my face.

"For you, Ben, I would wish to live, otherwise I would rather be down in
the cold sea along with him."  Then again she cried out frantically for
my poor father.  Her grief increased mine.  Seeing the state she was in,
Bill King, who had remained near her, hurried down to fetch his wife,
who was attending on the wounded.  She did her best to soothe my poor
mother's grief, and not without difficulty she was led away to my
father's cabin; and there, placed on his bed, she found some relief in
tears.  I did my best to comfort her, but I could do little else than
weep too.  Perhaps that was the best thing I could do; there is nothing
like sympathy.

"Oh!  My boy!  My boy!" she exclaimed, "you are still left to me; but
the day may come when you will be taken away, as your poor father has
been, and I shall be all alone--alone!  Alone!"

Then she burst forth in an Irish wail such as I had never heard before.
It was curious; because, though an Irish woman, her accent, under
ordinary circumstances, was but slightly to be detected.  Mrs King,
having done all she could, returned to her duties among the wounded, of
whom there were upwards of thirty, several of them mortally.

From Bill Houston, who had come to inquire for my mother, shortly
afterwards, I learned the particulars of what had occurred.  The boats
approached the ship, all hands being fully persuaded that they had
little more to do than to climb up her sides and take possession.  As,
however, they drew near her, and were just about to dash alongside, a
tremendous fire of grape, musketry, and round-shot was opened on them
from her ports, which were suddenly unmasked.  In spite of this,
although numbers were hit, Mr Mason ordered them to board the ship.
Scarcely had he uttered the words than a shot laid him low, poor Mr
Bramston being wounded at the same time.  Still the attempt to board was
made, but as they climbed up the sides they found that boarding nettings
were triced up the whole length of the ship, while pikes were thrust
down on them, and a hot fire of musketry opened in their faces.  Again
and again they attempted to get on board, and not till nearly all were
killed or wounded did they desist from the attempt.  Young Mr Hassel,
the midshipman, being the only officer left alive, then gave the order
to retreat, though it was not without difficulty that they could push
off from the ship's sides.  The darkness of the night saved them from
being utterly destroyed.  The enemy, probably, had not been aware of the
tremendous effect of their own fire, and expected another attack from
our men, or they would undoubtedly have continued firing at the boats
after they had shoved off.  Some distance had been gained, however,
before the ship again commenced firing, and the aim being uncertain,
very few of her shot took effect.

The next day was the saddest I had ever known.  Our kind young Captain
felt the loss more than anyone.  Really, it seemed as if his heart would
break as he walked along the main-deck, where our dead shipmates were
laid out.  He paid a visit also to my mother, and endeavoured to comfort
her as well as he could.

"I owe your brave husband much, Mrs Burton," he said.  "We have been
shipmates a good many years altogether, and he more than once saved my
life; I cannot repay him, but I can be a friend to your boy, and I will
do my utmost to be of assistance to you.  I cannot heal your grief, and
I cannot tell you not to mourn for your husband, but I will soothe it as
far as I can."

Then came the sad funeral.  Had the frigate been engaged in a desperate
action with a superior force we could scarcely have lost so many men as
we had done in this unfortunate expedition.  I thought the Captain would
break down altogether as he attempted to read the funeral service.  Two
or three times he had to stop, and by a great effort recover his
composure.  There were the two lieutenants and a young midshipman, and
upwards of twenty men all to be committed to the ocean together.
Curiosity brought me up to see what was going forward, and though I
looked on quietly for some time I at length burst into bitter tears.  I
thought there is my poor father--he had to go overboard without any
service being read over him.



CHAPTER TEN.

Soon after the funeral was over I was sent for into the Captain's cabin.
I found him and Mr Schank seated there.

"Ben," he said, "my boy, we have been talking over what we can do for
your poor mother.  The best thing, I think, will be for her to return to
her home on the first opportunity, and I daresay we shall find a ship
homeward-bound at Malta, on board which she can get a passage, while we
will do our best to raise funds to place her as much as possible at her
ease as to money matters.  Now, Ben, I wish to stand your friend; but
you are very young still to knock about at sea without a father to look
after you, and I propose, therefore, that you should return with your
mother.  After you have had schooling for a year or two on shore, you
shall rejoin this ship or any other I may command, and then your future
progress will much depend on your own conduct.  You will behave well, I
have no doubt you will; but if not, I cannot help you forward as I
desire."

I did not quite comprehend what the Captain proposed, but I understood
enough to know that I had a friend in him, and I accordingly thanked him
for his good intentions.  I was still standing hat in hand in the cabin,
for the Captain seemed disposed to ask me further questions, when the
surgeon entered to make his report of the state of the wounded.

"What, more dead I more dead!" exclaimed the poor Captain, as his eye
glanced on the paper.

"Yes, sir," was the answer.  "Turner and Green have both slipped their
cables.  I had very little hopes of either from the first.  There are
one or two more I am afraid will follow them before many days are over."

The Captain hid his face in his hands, and a groan burst from his bosom.
"I would that I had gone myself.  It would be better to be among the
sufferers than have this happen," burst from his lips.

Mr Schank tried to console him.  "No blame, sir," he said, "could be
attached to you.  It was very unlikely that such a ship should have made
so determined a defence, and no forethought could have enabled you to
act differently."

"Yes, yes," answered the Captain, "but to lose all these brave fellows
in such a way," and again he groaned.

No one spoke for some minutes, till at length the surgeon observed that
he hoped Mr Hassel would do well, as his wounds, though severe were not
dangerous.

"From what I can learn, sir," he observed, "he behaved with great
judgment and courage, and I believe it was through him that the boats
got away without further damage."

When the surgeon had gone, the Captain once more addressed me, and made
inquiries about my mother's family and the place of their residence.  I,
of course knew very little, but I gave him all the information I
possessed.

"But, perhaps, Mr Schank," I said, "you will let us go and pay your
family a visit.  Those were happy times we had there.  I think my mother
would rather go there than anywhere else."

Mr Schank who was not at all offended by the liberty I took, replied
that he thought the idea a very good one.  When, however, my mother was
asked, she said that she would rather go and be among her own people, if
they would receive her.  The truth was, I think I remarked, that her
friends were much above my father's position; and now that she would
have a pension, and a good deal of prize-money, she felt that she could
return and be on an equality with them, as far as fortune was concerned.
These ideas were, however, not on her own account as much as on mine,
as her great ambition was that I might rise in the world.  It was, I
truly believe, her only weakness, if weakness it could be called, for
she was proud of me, and I suspect thought a good deal more of me than I
deserved.  After this misfortune, we shaped a course for Malta, for the
purpose of replacing the officers and men we had lost, and from thence
the Captain intended to send home my mother and me.  Towards evening,
three or four days after the occurrences I have described, several sail
were perceived inside of us, that is to say, to the east.  As we were to
windward, we stood down towards them till we made out a line-of-battle
ship, two frigates and a brig.  As there was no doubt they were enemies'
ships, our Captain determined to watch them during the night, to
ascertain in what direction they were proceeding.  They, however,
objected to this, and were soon seen crowding all sail in chase.  We had
now to run for it; and though the "Grecian" was a fast frigate, we well
knew that many of the Frenchmen were faster, and that, short-handed as
we were, it was too certain that we should be captured if they came up
with us.  Fortunately the breeze continued, and we made all sail the
frigate could carry.  But not only could we distinguish the enemy still
in chase, but the opinion was that they were rapidly gaining on us.  I
remember coming on deck and looking out, seeing on our lee-quarter, far
away through the gloom, their dark outlines as they came on in hot
chase.  I, saw that everybody was anxious, and I heard several of the
men talking of Verdun, and the way prisoners were treated there.  For
the men this was bad enough, but for the officers to be made prisoners
was sad work.  Unless they could make their escape or get exchanged, all
prospect of advancement was lost, as was the case with many; the best
part of their years spent in idleness.  I understood enough, at all
events, to be very anxious about the matter.

I went below, I remember, and told my poor mother; she, however, seemed
indifferent as to what might occur.  Indeed her grief had stunned her,
and she was incapable of either thinking or speaking.  As morning
approached the wind fell, and when daylight broke the sails hung up and
down against the masts.  We were in a perfect calm, while not three
miles off appeared the French squadron.  All hopes of escape seemed
over, and the men began putting on additional clothing and stowing away
their money in their pockets, as seamen generally do when capture is
certain, and often when they expect to be wrecked.  The officers walked
the deck looking very anxious, but the Captain and Mr Schank kept their
eyes about on all sides.  At length a few cat's-paws were seen playing
over the water.  The First-Lieutenant pointed them out to the Captain.
His eyes brightened somewhat.  They came faster and faster.  And now the
sails once more felt the power of the wind, and away we went pretty
quickly through the water.  Ahead of us lay a small island, towards
which the frigate steered.  As we approached it we saw the
ship-of-the-line still following us, while the two frigates and corvette
stood away round the west side.  Their object was very clear.  They
hoped thereby to cut us off.

"We may still disappoint them," I heard Mr Schank observe.

"I trust so," said the Captain; but though he kept up his confidence,
his countenance was very grave.  For some time we kept well ahead till
we reached the southernmost end of the island, when once more the wind
falling we lay almost becalmed.  We could see to the east the two
frigates and the corvette, their canvas filled by a strong breeze, but
the line-of-battle ship was out of sight, hid by a point of land.  The
former might have been five or six miles off, but they were coming up at
the rate of six knots an hour.  There was no sign of the breeze reaching
us.  Our escape seemed almost impossible.  Mr Schank's courage,
however, never failed--at least, it never looked as if it did, and he
seemed to be saying something to the Captain which gave him
encouragement.  One of the frigates was considerably ahead of the rest.
At all events we were not likely, therefore, to yield without striking a
blow, and if we could by any means cripple her before her consorts could
come up, we might afterwards be better able to deal with them.  Still
there was the line-of-battle ship, and she would be down upon us before
long.  A French prison in very vivid colours stared even the bravest of
our men in the face.  The officers were looking at their watches.
Within little more than half-an-hour, unless we could get a breeze, we
should be hotly engaged, and then, unless we could beat our enemy in ten
minutes, there would be little prospect of getting away.  On she came
over the blue ocean.  Looking at the land, we could see a line, as it
were, drawn between us.  On our side the water was smooth as a mirror;
on the other, still crisped by the fresh breeze, and glittering in the
sunlight.  It was very tantalising.  On the leading Frenchman came,
faster and faster.  Still the breeze did not touch our sails.  At length
we could clearly count her ports, and she appeared in the pure
atmosphere even nearer than perhaps she was.  Suddenly she yawed.  A
white puff of smoke was seen, and a shot came whizzing across our bows.
Another followed.  It struck us, and the yellow splinters were seen
flying from our sides.  The men stood at their quarters ready to begin
the fight.

"Not a gun is to be fired till I give the order," cried the Captain.

"That will not be long, I fancy," I heard one of the men say, as I with
other boys brought up the powder from below.

The frigate still held the breeze and was approaching.  Yet our Captain
let her get nearer and nearer.  In vain, however, our people waited for
the order to fire.  Several more shots came flying over the water, and
the Frenchmen seemed now convinced that they had got us well within
range.  Suddenly luffing up, the enemy fired her whole broadside.  The
shot came flying about us, but did no great damage.

"Trim sails!" cried the Captain, and we edged away towards the blue line
I have mentioned, the wind just then filling out our canvas.  Meantime
the Frenchman remained involved in a cloud of smoke.  Again and again
she fired her broadside, only hiding herself more completely from view;
while her sails, which had hitherto been full, were now seen to flap
against her masts, and away we went with an increasing breeze.  We could
just see the line-of-battle ship hull down on one side, and the two
frigates and corvette becalmed on the other, utterly unable to move,
while we were slipping through the water at the rate of seven or eight
knots an hour.

"I thought it would be so!" exclaimed Mr Schank, increasing the
rapidity of his strides as he paced the deck, and rubbing his hands with
glee.  On we went.  In a short time not a trace of the Frenchmen could
be discovered, nor did we sight another enemy till we entered Malta
harbour.

Captain Oliver and Mr Schank were as good as their words.  They
mentioned among the inhabitants the circumstance of my father's death,
and that his widow and child were on board, and very soon collected a
considerable sum of money, which they presented to my poor mother.  Her
excessive grief had now subsided, and a settled melancholy seemed to
have taken possession of her.  An armed store-ship which had discharged
her cargo at Malta was returning home, bound for Cork; and on board her
our kind friends procured a passage for my mother and me.  We had a sad
parting with our numerous shipmates.  The men exhibited the regard they
had for my mother by bestowing on me all sorts of presents; indeed, the
carpenter said he must make me a chest in which to stow them away.  My
mother felt leaving our kind friend, Mrs King, more than anything else.
It was curious to see the interesting young woman, as she still was,
embracing the tall, gaunt, weather-beaten virago, as Mrs King appeared
to be.

"Cheer up, Polly, cheer up," said the latter.  "You have lost a kind
husband, there is no doubt of that, but you have got your boy to look
after, and he will give you plenty to think about--bless his heart!  The
time will come, Polly, when we will meet again, and you will have grown
more contented, I hope; and if not, we shall know each other up aloft
there, where I hope there will be room for me, though I cannot say as
how I feel I am very fit for such a place."  Mrs King went talking on,
but my poor mother could make no answer to her remarks, sobs choking her
utterance.  Her tears did her good, however, so Mrs King observed, and
told her not to stop them.  I was glad to find that the Captain had
appointed Bill King as acting boatswain of the frigate.  The midshipman,
Mr Hassel, who had been seriously injured in the unfortunate
expedition, took a passage home in the store-ship.  Who should we see on
going on board but my old friends Toby Kiddle and Pat Brady.  Pat was
overjoyed at seeing us, though he looked very sad when he heard of my
father's death.

"Arrah, it's a pity a worse man hadn't been taken in his stead," he
observed, "but it can't be helped, Polly.  Better luck next time, as Tim
Donovan said when he was going to be hung!"

Pat had been to see his friends, he said, in the West of Ireland, and
Toby Kiddle had been wrecked on the same coast, and having found his way
across to Cork had there, with his old messmate, entered on board the
store-ship.  She was to return to Cork, which was very convenient to us,
as my mother could thus more easily travel to the West of Ireland where
her family resided.

The name of the vessel was the "Porpoise," and she was commanded by
Captain Tubb.  He put me very much in mind of Captain Cobb, except that
he was considerably stouter.  We sailed with a convoy of some fifty
other vessels of all sizes and rigs; the larger portion having generally
to lay to for the "Porpoise," which, with her Captain, rolled away over
the surface of the Atlantic in the wake of the rest.  Captain Tubb
declared that his ship was very steady when she had her cargo on board,
but certainly she was very much the contrary under the present
circumstances, and Toby Kiddle remarked that it was a wonder she did not
shake her masts out of her.

My poor mother could very seldom be persuaded to come on deck, but lay
in her cabin scarcely eating anything, or speaking to anyone except to
me, and even then it seemed a pain to her to utter a few words.

From the account I gave Toby and Pat of Captain Oliver, they were very
eager to serve again with him, and they promised that should they ever
have the chance of finding him fitting out a ship, they would
immediately volunteer on board.

I was very glad to hear this, because I hoped they would do so, and that
I again should be with them.  We had not a few alarms on our homeward
voyage from the appearance of strange sails which it was supposed were
enemies' cruisers.  We, of course, should have been among the first
picked out.  However, we escaped all accidents, and at length arrived in
the Cove of Cork.  As may be supposed, Toby Kiddle made many inquiries
about the Little Lady.  When my mother got to Cork, her heart somewhat
failed her at the thought of going among her own kindred under the
present circumstances, and she began to regret that she had not agreed
to pay a visit in the first place to Lieutenant Schank's family, where
she would have had the consolation of looking after the little girl.
However, it was now too late to do that.  We therefore prepared for our
journey to the West.  Pat insisted on escorting us, declaring that he
had plenty of money and did not know what else to do with it.  Toby,
however, remained on board the old "Porpoise," intending to go round in
her to Portsmouth, where she was next bound with provisions.  It was no
easy matter making a journey in the West of Ireland in those days.
There were the coaches, but they were liable to upset and to be robbed.

Although, therefore, posting was dear, Pat settled that such was the
only becoming way for the widow of the "Grecian's" late boatswain to
travel.  My mother at length consented to go part of the way in a coach,
performing the remainder in a chaise, when no coach was available.

The place for which we were bound was Ballybruree, a town, it called
itself, on the west coast of the green island.  Her father, Mat Dwyer,
Esquire, he signed himself, and her mother, were both alive, and she had
a number of brothers and sisters, and a vast number of cousins to boot.
But I must reserve an account of our reception at Rincurran Castle, for
so my grandfather called his abode, for another chapter.



CHAPTER ELEVEN.

"Ben, my boy, you are approaching the home of your ancestors," exclaimed
Pat Brady, who was seated on the box of the old battered yellow
post-chaise, on the roof of which I had perched myself, while my poor
mother sat in solitude inside.  "They are an honoured race, and mighty
respected in the country.  You will see the top of the ould Castle
before long if you keep a bright look-out, and a hearty welcome we'll be
after getting when they see us all arrive in this dignified way--just
like a great foreign ambassador going to court.  It is a fine counthry
this of ours, Ben, barring the roads, which put us too much in mind of
our run home in the `Porpoise'.  But we have mighty fine hills, Ben.  Do
you see them there?  And lakes and streams full of big trout, and
forests.  But the bogs, Ben, they beat them all.  If it was not for them
bogs, where should we all be?  Then the roads might be worse, Ben.  Hold
on there, lad, or you will be sent into the middle of next week.  But
Ben, my boy, as the song says:--

  "`If you'd seen but these roads before they were made,
  You would have lift up your hands and blessed General Wade'."

Thus Pat continued running on as he had been doing the whole of our
journey.  It was certainly hard work holding on at the top of the
chaise, as it went pitching and rolling, and tumbling about over the
ill-formed path, which scarcely deserved the name of a road.  Still
every now and then I sprang to my feet to look out for the castle which
he talked about.  I had seen of late a good many castles on the coast of
the Mediterranean, Gibraltar, and Malta besides.  I had some idea that
Rincurran Castle must be a very fine place.

"Arrah!  Ben, and there it is as large as life.  Sure it's a grand
mansion, barring it's a little out of repair!" shouted Pat, as, turning
an angle of the road, we came in sight of a tall, stone, dilapidated
building, with a courtyard in front, and two round pillars on either
side of the entrance-gate.  The pigs had possession of the chief part of
the yard, which was well littered for their accommodation, leaving but a
narrow way up to the entrance-door.

I quickly scrambled down from the roof to assist Pat Brady in helping my
mother out of the chaise.  Poor dear, overcome by her feelings, she was
leaning back, almost fainting, and scarcely able to move.  At length the
door opened, and an old gentleman appeared in a scratch wig, with an
ominously red nose, and clothed in a costume which, in its condition,
greatly resembled his habitation.  An old lady followed him, somewhat
more neatly dressed, who, on seeing my mother, hastened to the door to
receive her.

"What!  Is this our daughter Mary?" exclaimed the old gentleman; "and
that young spalpeen, can that be her boy?" he added, looking at me in a
way which did not seem to argue much affection.

"Of course it is, Mat; and is it you, Mat, the head of the Dwyers, not
remembering your childer?" exclaimed the old lady, casting on him a
scornful glance.  On this my grandfather gave my mother a paternal kiss,
a repetition of which I avoided by slipping round on the other side,
where Pat caught me, and presented me to the old lady.  She then took me
in her arms and gave me an affectionate embrace.  The tears dropped from
her eyes as she looked at my mother's pale countenance and widow's
dress.

"I don't ask what has happened, Mary," she said; "but though the one for
whom you forsook all is gone, you are welcome back to the old home,
child."

"Ay, that you are, Mary!" exclaimed my grandfather, warming up a little.
"To be sure, grand as it once was, it has been inclined for many a day
to be tumbling about our ears.  But it will last my day, and there is
small chance of your brothers, Jim, or Pat, or Terence, ever wishing to
come and stop here, even if it's living they are when I am put under the
green turf."

While Pat was settling with the post-boy, my grandmother conducted my
mother and me into the parlour.  The more elegant portions of furniture,
if they ever existed, had disappeared, and a table, with a number of
wooden-bottomed chairs and a huge ill-stuffed sofa, were all that
remained.  A picture of my grandfather in a hunting-suit, and a few
wretched daubs, part of them of sporting scenes and part of saints,
adorned the walls.  Such was the appearance of the chief room in
Rincurran Castle.  My aunts were not at home, two of them having ridden
to market, and the others being on a visit to some neighbours.  At
length two of them came riding up on rough, ungroomed ponies, with
baskets on their arms.  Having taken off the saddles, they sent their
animals to find their way by themselves into the open stable, while they
entered the house to greet my mother.  They were not ill-looking women,
with rather large features, and fine eyes, but as unlike my mother as
could well be.  So also were my other two aunts, who shortly after came
in.  They all, however, gave their sister Mary a hearty welcome, and,
with better tact than might have been expected, made no inquiries about
her husband, her dress showing them that he was gone.  I found that she
had been brought up by a sister of her mother's--a good Protestant
woman, residing near Cork, where my father had met her.  My grandfather
was a Romanist, though my grandmother still remained as she had
originally been, a Protestant.  The rest of her daughters attended the
Romish chapel.  My mother had not been at home since she was quite a
girl, and I soon found had entirely forgotten her family's way of
living, and their general habits and customs.  She therefore very soon
began to regret that she had not accepted Lieutenant Schank's invitation
to visit his family.  Pat Brady made himself very agreeable to his
cousins, and had such wonderful stories to tell them that he was a great
favourite.  I had plenty to amuse me; but there seemed very little
probability of my getting the education which Captain Oliver had
recommended.  The castle also was not over well provisioned, potatoes
and buttermilk forming the staple of our meals, with an over-abundance
of pork whenever a pig was killed; but as it was necessary to sell the
better portions of each animal to increase the family income, the supply
was only of an intermittent character.  My grandfather made up for the
deficiency by copious potations of whisky; but as my mother objected to
my following his example, I was frequently excessively hungry.  I was
not surprised therefore that my uncles did not often pay the paternal
mansion a visit; they all considering themselves above manual labour, in
consequence of being sons of a squireen, were living on their wits in
various parts of the world, so I concluded from the bits of information
I picked up about them.

I could not help remarking the contrast between Rincurran Castle and Mr
Schank's neat little cottage in Lincolnshire--the cleanliness and
comfort of one, and the dirt and disorder and discomfort of my
grandfather's abode.  My mother, who had sufficient means to live
comfortably by herself, had had no intention of remaining long with her
parents, but had purposed taking a cottage in the neighbourhood.  When
she discovered the state of things at home she had offered to assist in
the household expenses, and having done this her family were doubly
anxious to retain her.  As however, she found it impossible to mend
matters, she resolved to carry out her original intention.  The search
for a house was an object of interest.  In a short time she discovered
one at the further end of Ballybruree, which, if not perfection, was
sufficient to satisfy her wishes.  Here, at the end of a couple of
months, she removed, in spite of the disinterested entreaties of her
relatives that she should take up her permanent abode with them.  Her
health soon improved, and I grew fatter than I had been since I landed
on the shores of old Ireland.

Our new abode, though very much smaller than Rincurran Castle, was
considerably neater, yet not altogether such as would be considered tidy
in England.  The roof was water-tight, and the chimneys answered their
object of carrying up the smoke from the fire beneath.  The view from
the front window was extensive, ranging down the broad and unpaved
street, along which I could watch the boys chasing their pigs to market,
seated on the hinder parts of donkeys, urging them forward by the blows
of their shillalahs.  Now and then we enjoyed the spectacle of a
marriage party returning from the chapel, at the further end of the
street, or still more boisterous funeral procession; when, of course, as
Pat Brady observed, "It 'ud be showing small honour to the decased if
all the mourners weren't respectably drunk, barring the praist, and bad
luck to him if he could not stand up steady at the end of the grave.
Sure he couldn't have a head for his office."

Such, however, as was our new house, my poor mother was glad to get it.
We had been located there two or three weeks, and my mother had now time
to give me some instruction in the arts of reading and writing.  She was
thus engaged, leaning over the book placed on her lap by the side of
which I stood, when we were startled by a voice which said, "Top of the
morning to you, Mistress Burton."

We looked up, and there stood in the doorway a rubicund-nosed gentleman,
in a green coat and huge wonderfully gay coloured cravat, leather
breeches, and top-boots, with a hunting-whip under his arm, a peony in
his buttonhole, and a white hat which he flourished in his right hand,
while he kept scraping with his feet, making his spurs jingle.

"Your servant, Mistress Burton.  It is mighty touching to the heart to
see a mother engaged as you are, and faith I would not have missed the
sight for a thousand guineas, paid down on the nail.  Ah!  Mistress
Burton, it reminds me of days gone by, but I won't say I have no hopes
that they will ever return," and our visitor twisted his eyes about in
what I thought a very queer way, trying to look sentimental.

"To what cause do I owe this visit, Mr Gillooly?" asked my mother,
perhaps not altogether liking his looks, for I rather think his feelings
had been excited by a few sips of potheen.  Her natural politeness,
however, induced her to rise and offer him a chair, into which, after a
few more scrapes and flourishes of the hat, he sank down, placing his
beaver and his whip upon it by his side.

"It is mightily you bring to my mind my dear departed Mistress
Gillooly," he exclaimed, looking very strangely I thought at my mother.
"She was the best of wives, and if she was alive she would be after
telling you that I was the best of husbands, but she has gone to glory,
and the only little pledge of our affection has gone after her; and so,
Mistress Burton, I am left a lone man in this troublesome world.  And
sure, Mrs Burton, the same is your lot I am after thinking, but there
is an old saying, `Off with the old love and on with the new;' and, oh!
Mistress Burton, it would be a happy thing if that could come true
between two people I am thinking of."

My mother might have thought this very plain speaking, but she pretended
not to understand Mr Gillooly, and made no answer.

"Is it silence gives consent?" he exclaimed at last with one of those
queer turns of his eyes, stretching out his hands towards my mother.

"Really, Mr Gillooly, seeing I have been a widow scarcely a year, and
have seen but little of you at my father's house, I cannot help thinking
this is strange language for you to use.  I loved my husband, and I only
wish to live for the sake of our boy, and I hope this answer will
satisfy you."

"But when you have seen more of me, Mistress Burton, ye'll be after
giving a different answer," exclaimed our visitor.  "Ye'll be after
making a sweet mistress for Ballyswiggan Hall, and it's there I'd like
to see ye, in the place of the departed Molly Gillooly.  It was the last
words she said to me--`Ye'll be after getting another partner when I'm
gone, Dominic, won't ye now?' and I vowed by all the holy saints that I
would obey her wishes, though to be plain with you, Mistress Burton, I
little thought I could do so to my heart's content, as I did when I
first set my eyes on your fair countenance."

Much more to the same effect did Mr Gillooly utter, without, however, I
have reason to believe, making any impression on my mother's heart.
Without rudeness she could not get rid of him; and he, believing that he
was making great way in her affection, was in no wise inclined to
depart.  Mr Gillooly, I may remark, was a friend of my grandfather's, a
squireen, with a mansion of similar description to Rincurran Castle,
though somewhat less dilapidated.  His property enabled him to keep a
good horse, drink whisky, wear decent clothes, attend all wakes,
marriages, and fairs, and other merrymakings, and otherwise lead a
completely idle life.  Mr Gillooly's visit had extended to a somewhat
unconscionable length, when a rap was heard at the door, and my mother
told me to run and open it; observing as she did so, "It's not all
people who so want manners as not to knock before they intrude into a
lone woman's house."

This severe remark of my gentle mother showed me that she was by this
time considerably annoyed by our visitor's continued presence.  The
person who now entered wore a brown suit, with a low crowned hat on the
top of his curled wig.  I recognised him as Mr Timothy Laffan, one of
the lawyers of Ballybruree.  Though short, he was a broad-shouldered,
determined-looking man, with a nose which could scarcely be more
flattened than it was, and twinkling grey eyes which looked out
knowingly from under his shaggy eyebrows.  He cast an inquisitive glance
round, and then, paying his respects to my mother, took the seat which I
had brought him.

"A good boy, Ben," he said, patting my head.  "I came to see how you
were getting on in your new house, Mrs Burton, as is my duty as a
neighbour.  Your servant, Mr Gillooly.  I was after thinking that the
next time you came into Ballybruree ye would be giving me a call to
settle about that little affair.  There's nothing like the present time,
and may be you will stop at my office as you go by, and arrange the
matter offhand."

The lawyer's eyes twinkled as he spoke.  Mr Gillooly began to fidget in
his chair, and his countenance grew redder and redder.  He cast a glance
at his whip and hat.  Suddenly seizing them, he paid a hurried adieu to
my mother, and turning to the lawyer, added, "Your servant, Tim Laffan.
I will be after remembering what you say"; and away he bolted out of the
door.

I almost expected to hear the lawyer utter a crow of victory, for his
comical look of triumph clearly showed his feelings.  I had reason to
believe that he also was a suitor for the hand of my mother, but I do
not think he gained much by his stratagem.  Her feelings were aroused
and irritated, and at length he also took his departure, after
expressing a tender interest in her welfare.



CHAPTER TWELVE.

My mother's good looks, amiable disposition, and reputed fortune raised
up a host of admirers, greatly to her annoyance, for she had, or fully
thought she had, made up her mind to live a widow; or at all events, as
she told my Aunt Ellen, if she married anyone it should be a sailor, in
respect to my father's memory.  I liked Ellen more than any of my other
relations.  She was more like my mother than the rest of her sisters.
She had much of my mother's beauty, though with more animal spirits, and
was altogether on a larger scale, as I think I have said.  She was
engaged to marry a certain Mr Pat Kilcullin, who I heard was a
gentleman of property some distance further west; and that he had a real
castle and a good estate, somewhat encumbered to be sure, as became his
old family and position.  How many hundreds or thousands a year it might
once have produced I do not know; but as he and his father before him,
and his grandfather, and other remote ancestors had generally taken care
to spend double their income, it could not but be supposed that he and
they were occasionally in difficulties.  As, however, his father had
lived, so my intended uncle purposed living also.  I will not describe
the wedding further than to say that my grandfather was nearly out and
out ruined by it.  He and his guests all got gloriously drunk.  Mr
Gillooly and Tim Laffan fell out about my mother, and came to blows in
her presence.  They were separated by two of the other guests--a certain
Dan Hogan, a good-looking exciseman, who was also a suitor for her hand,
and Captain Michael Tracy, the master of a merchantman, who had lately
come home after a few successful trading voyages to the West Indies.  As
he, however, was the most sober of the party, he came worst off in the
fray, and had not my mother come to his rescue with the aid of her
sisters, he would, I have an idea, have been severely handled.  Whether
or not he was touched by this exhibition of her courage I do not know;
but he certainly from that day forward became her warm admirer, and
certainly if she showed a preference to anyone it was to him.  I did not
suppose I had so many relations in the world as turned up at that feast,
of high and low degree: the greater number, however, it must be
confessed, were of the latter rank.  The bride looked beautiful, and the
bridegroom in the height of his feelings invited all the guests to pay
him a visit that day fortnight at Ballyswiggan Castle.  The bridegroom
was taken at his word, and though I rather think my Aunt Ellen might
have been somewhat annoyed, there was no means of escaping.  My mother
was, however, unwilling to be present at so uproarious a scene as she
knew pretty well was likely to take place; but my grandfather and her
sisters insisted upon her accompanying them, and of course I went with
her.  Some of the guests, however, were not likely to make their
appearance, and for the best of reasons Mr Laffan and Dan Hogan could
not be present, as it was well-known that no lawyer nor exciseman had
ever ventured to set foot in the district in which Ballyswiggan Castle
was situated.  Most of the guests went on horseback, as the approach was
scarcely suited to wheeled carriages.  My grandmother was too infirm to
move, but my grandfather mounted a rawboned back which had carried him
in his younger days, and my aunts and mother rode on their rough ponies.
Pat Brady, who, finding himself so happy on shore, had put off going to
sea, and I rode together on a beast which we had borrowed for the
occasion.

Ballyswiggan Castle was situated amidst fine wild scenery within sound
of the roar of the mighty Atlantic.  The building itself was in a
somewhat dilapidated condition, but exhibited signs of having been once
a place of importance.  Some out-houses had likewise been strewn with
fresh straw to afford sleeping accommodation to a portion of the guests
who could not find room within, while sheds and barns had been cleared
out for the reception of their steeds.

"Ye are welcome to Ballyswiggan, by my faith ye are!" exclaimed Uncle
Pat, as our party arrived, a sentiment which was uttered by Aunt Ellen
without any pretension to mock modesty, while she laughed heartily at
the complimentary remarks which were passed on her good looks and high
spirits.

"Small blame to Rincurran Castle if I am not after getting somewhat
stouter here than I did under my paternal roof," she answered, intending
to allude simply to the meagre fare of her ancestral mansion, though
from the giggles of some of the ladies, I rather suspect they put a
different interpretation upon the remark.  To say the truth,
Ballyswiggan Castle had been stored with all sorts of provisions, and no
end of casks of whisky, so that there appeared little chance of the
guests starving or having to suffer from dry throats.  We, with other
visitors from a distance, arrived the day before the dinner and ball
were to take place.  On that morning, Peter Crean, steward and factotum
to my uncle, awoke him with the news that a ship of war was beating into
the Bay, "And sure," he observed, "it would be a fine opportunity, Mr
Kilcullin, to show your loyalty and love to His Majesty's government, to
invite the officers.  They will make a fine show in the ball-room too,
with their gold lace coats, and white breeches, and may be may make some
of the gentlemen jealous, and just bring matters to a close, which have
been kept off and on for some months past.  The mothers will be pleased,
and the girls will be thanking you from the bottom of their hearts."

This sage advice was instantly followed by my uncle, who, habiting
himself in his wedding suit, ordered his horse that he might ride down
to the Bay, and be early on board to give the proposed invitation.
There were no fears about it being accepted, and, as may be supposed, it
formed the subject of conversation at the breakfast-table when it was
announced where my uncle had gone.  His return was accordingly looked
for with no little anxiety, especially by the young ladies of the party,
including my three spinster aunts.  Mr Kilcullin was not very long
absent.

"They will all come!" he exclaimed, throwing up his hat, "and faith,
they're a fine set of gentlemen.  She is a frigate, they tell me, but
her name has escaped me, and it is my belief they will toe and heel it
with the best of you, gentlemen, and may do something towards breaking
the hearts of some of you young ladies.  However, we will do our best to
make them welcome, for the honour of ould Ireland."

As the hour of dinner approached, the guests began to arrive in
considerable numbers; and carts, and cars, and waggons came bumping and
thumping over the uneven path, though the greater part made their
appearance on horseback.  I was looking out of a window which commanded
the approach to the castle, when I saw coming along the road a large
party of naval officers, whose well-known uniform I at once recognised
as they drew nearer, and I fancied I knew two of those who led the way.
On they came; I could not be mistaken.  There were Captain Oliver and
Lieutenant Schank, and several other officers and midshipmen whom I
remembered on board the "Grecian".  I ran to my poor mother with delight
to tell her this.  She turned pale, recollecting the sorrow she had gone
through when last she saw them.

"I cannot face them," she said; "but you go, Ben; they will be glad to
see you; I should feel out of place in their company, and though my
family may be as good as that of many among them, they knew me under
such different circumstances, that I should not like to be sitting at
table with them."

On hearing my mother make these remarks, I too was seized with a bashful
fit, but she insisted on my going down to meet them; and at length
mustering courage, I ran downstairs.  Captain Oliver did not at first
know me, but Mr Schank recognised me at once.

"What, Ben, my boy, what brings you here?" he exclaimed.

I soon explained that Mr Kilcullin had married my aunt, and that my
mother and I were among the guests.

"Ah!  I always thought she was above her position on board," he observed
to Captain Oliver, who, when he found out who I was, shook me warmly by
the hand.

"Well, Ben, recollect I shall keep to my promise, and when your mother
can spare you, I will take you with me."

"I hope we shall see her, Ben," observed Mr Schank, kindly; "I should
like to shake hands with her."  I told him how she felt on the subject.

"Oh!" he said, "that cannot signify.  Tell her we shall not half enjoy
the evening unless she comes down."  The officers now arrived in the
entrance hall, where my uncle and aunt were standing to welcome their
guests.  Of course they received them with all due honour.

"We're in a wild part of the country, Captain Oliver and gentlemen, but
we will show you, at all events, that we have hospitable intentions,
however roughly we may carry them out," said my uncle.

The great dining-hall was very soon filled, and several adjoining rooms,
the guests of inferior quality, of whom there were a good many, making
themselves happy in separate parties wherever they could find room to
sit down.  Among those most active in attending to the wants of the
guests, and directing the other serving-men, were Peter Crean and Pat
Brady, who was a host in himself, for though second cousin to the bride,
he did not at all object to acting the part of a servant.  As room was
scarce, I was among the picnickers outside.  The feast was progressing,
when I saw Pat Brady come up to Peter Crean, pulling, for him, a
wonderfully long face.

"Faith Peter!"  I heard him say, "I do not at all like his looks.
There's a hang-dog expression about him, and to my mind he's a bailiff
in disguise!"

"A what?" exclaimed Peter.  "Has one of them vipers ventured into the
neighbourhood of Ballyswiggan?  Faith, then, it would have been better
for him had he never seen this part of the country, for it will never do
to let him go boasting that he set his foot in it without being
discovered.  Where is he?"

"He is just now outside the gate," answered Pat; "but I told two or
three of the boys to keep him talking, and on no account to let him come
beyond it.  I think they have just got an idea that he will not be
altogether a welcome guest."

"I have no doubt who he is, then," observed Peter Crean.  "I have been
expecting him.  And, sure, he must not see the master, or he would be
spoiling the fun of to-day, and for many a long day afterwards.  Here,
Pat, you go and talk to him, and I will just make arrangements to
receive him."

Peter Crean was a man of action.  A small room was cleared of visitors,
a table prepared with viands and various liquors.  This done, Peter
hurried out to receive the guest.  His suspicions were thoroughly
confirmed on his inspection of the man.

"Your name, sir," he said, "that I may make you welcome to Ballyswiggan
Castle.  My master is just now particularly engaged with a few guests,
but he will be happy to see you when the wine is on the table; and, in
the meantime, you will just come in and satisfy your appetite.  You have
had a long ride since you took anything to eat, barring maybe the
whisky, which is not quite so rare on the road."

"My name is Jonas Quelch, at your service," answered the stranger, "and
I come from England, though I have been living for some time in Dublin.
It's a fine city, that Dublin."

"Faith it is, Mr Quelch," observed Crean; "and fine people in it, and
rogues in it, and the rogues sometimes come out of it, and when they do
they are pretty glad to get back again, for we don't like rogues in
these parts, Mr Quelch.  But I will not keep you sitting on your horse;
that will be taken to the stable, and you will just come in, as I said,
and partake of the scanty fare this poor part of the country can
afford."

He spoke in a satirical tone.  Mr Quelch, holding his riding-whip in
his hand, as if for defence, followed him into the house.  Peter.  Crean
was, however, all courtesy and attention.  He entreated his visitor to
make himself at home, and helped him abundantly to the good things in
the dishes placed before him, nor did he omit to ply him with whisky.
Glass upon glass he induced him to pour down his throat, till I began to
wonder how he could swallow so much without inconvenience.  He was
evidently a hardened vessel.  Crean, however, had not yet done with him.
He now placed before him a flagon of claret.

"Faith, this is the stuff for a gentleman," he observed.  "You may just
empty the bottle, and feel none the worse, but rather much the better
than when you began."

The stranger, nothing loath, followed the advice of the steward.  By
degrees, however, Mr Quelch's speech became thick, and his conversation
more and more incoherent.  Crean watched him with a wicked look in his
eyes, continuing to press the liquor more and more warmly upon him.

"Come, now, Mr Quelch, just let's begin another bottle.  I have always
found, where one bottle confuses a man's head, a second one puts him all
to rights again.  Now, I should not be surprised but that you are
beginning to feel a little fuddled."

"You are right, friend," answered Mr Quelch, though the words were
jerked out in a manner indicative of his state.

"Just so; and, now, follow my advice.  Take the other bottle to cure
you.  We never like a stranger to come to this part of old Ireland
without showing him due hospitality."

Mr Quelch, unaccustomed to claret, drank it as he would beer, and
before he had finished the second bottle, on the top of almost an equal
quantity of whisky, his head began to nod, and finally it dropped down
on the table, where he let it remain, completely overcome.



CHAPTER THIRTEEN.

I was describing, at the end of my last chapter, my uncle's uninvited
guest--Jonas Quelch--dead drunk, with his head on the table.  I sat at
the further end of the room watching proceedings.  Peter Crean gave a
well-satisfied nod, and then left the room.  In a short time he returned
with Pat Brady, and a bundle of papers in his hand.  Without much ado,
they commenced an examination of the pockets of the stranger, and
produced from them several documents.  One of them, as Peter ran his
eyes over it, seemed to excite his excessive indignation.  However,
producing one from among his own papers, of a similar size and
appearance, he sat down and wrote off several paragraphs, which seemed
to afford him and Pat infinite amusement.  This, with some other papers,
which he had taken from the stranger's pockets, he then returned to
them.  This done, he and Pat--having removed the provisions and jugs--
left the stranger still sleeping, with his head resting on his arms, as
before, I soon got tired of watching, and made my way into the
banqueting hall, from which shouts of boisterous merriment were
proceeding.  His guests were, indeed, doing ample justice to my new
uncle's good cheer, and speeches and songs were succeeding each other in
rapid succession.  Sometimes, indeed, two or three of the guests seemed
disposed to sing or speak at the same time, one exciting the other, and
adding not a little to the Babel of tongues.  At this state of affairs
the ladies took their departure, though not without several gentlemen
rushing after them to bring them back.  "Are ye after leaving us without
a sun in the firmament!" exclaimed one.  "The stars are going out, and
we shall be in darkness presently," cried another.  "A garden without
roses is a sorry garden, by my faith!" exclaimed a third.  "What shall
we do without those beautiful eyes beaming out on us?" shouted a fourth.
However, in spite of the flatteries and efforts of Mr Tim Gillooly and
his companions--for he was among the most demonstrative of the party--
the ladies made their escape to an upper room.  Curiosity at length
prompted me to go back and see what had become of the stranger.  As I
entered the room, he lifted up his head and looked about him, evidently
wondering where he was.  At length he rose to his feet, and with
unsteady steps began to pace backwards and forwards.

"This won't do," he said to himself.  "I am not in a fit condition, I
have a notion, to execute this writ.  However, it must be done.  That
liquor was not bad, or I should not feel as comfortable as I do.  If now
I can get a basin of water, and pour some of the cold liquid down my
throat, I shall be soon all to rights again.  I wonder when that foolish
old steward will come back.  He seemed to fancy that I had some favour
to bestow on his master by the way he treated me.  However, these Irish
have very poor wits, and it is no hard matter to impose on them."

While he was speaking, Peter opened the door.  The stranger made his
request, with which he promised to comply.  In a short time, Pat
appeared with a basin and a jug of water.  "I am your man now,"
exclaimed Mr Quelch, having dipped his head several times in the cold
water, "and shall be happy to pay my respects to your master."

"To be sure, sir, to be sure," answered Pat.  "He is with his friends in
the great hall, and you will be welcome as all gentlemen from England
are sure to be.  You have only to go in and make your bow and give your
message, and depend upon it you will get a civil answer, whatever else
you get, and be requested to sit down and make yourself happy with the
rest."

Peter, on this, led the way, followed by Mr Quelch.  He did not observe
that a number of women and others who had been feasting outside brought
up the rear.  A large party followed him into the hall, where he
enquired for Mr Kilcullin, as he said, that he might make no mistake.
"There he is to be sure, at the end of his table, where a gentleman,
with a beautiful wife always should be," answered Peter, pointing to the
lord of the mansion, who, with his guests, appeared to be enjoying
himself amazingly without any consciousness of the approach of a
bailiff.

"Your servant, sir," said Mr Quelch, advancing towards him, and drawing
from his pocket a long document.

"The same to you, I beg your pardon, what is your name?" said Mr
Kilcullin, with a complacent smile.  "You are welcome to Ballyswiggan,
as all honest men are, and if they are not honest, by the powers they
had better keep away!  And what is that paper with which you are about
to favour me?"

"Perhaps, sir, you will read it," said Mr Quelch, with a somewhat
doubtful expression in his countenance.

"Certainly!" exclaimed my new uncle, "with the greatest pleasure in the
world.  Now listen, friends and gentlemen all.  This is to give notice
to all present that the bearer--Jonas Quelch--has come across the
Channel to the west side of ould Ireland, on a fool's errand.  There are
many more like him, may be, but he must understand that he will have to
go back the way he came, or else consent to be deported forthwith to the
coast of Africa, to live henceforth among the black sons of the soil,
for whom alone he is a fit associate."

The astonishment of Mr Quelch on hearing this knew no bounds.  Scarcely
recovered from the effects of his ample potations, the little sense he
possessed entirely forsook him.  He began to storm and swear, and
declared that he had been vilely tricked.  Loud peak of laughter from
the guests present were the only answer he received.

"Come, come, Mr Quelch!" exclaimed Peter Crean, touching him on the
shoulder.  "You have your choice, my boy, but, by my faith, if you go on
abusing Irish gentlemen in this fashion, you will be sent off sooner
than a Kilkenny cow can leap over the moon to the country where the
niggers come from, and it will be no easy matter for you to find your
way back again, I'm after thinking."  This answer only increased the
anger of the unhappy bailiff.  The consequence was that he found himself
seized by several of the men around, and amid the varied cries of the
guests quickly hurried out of the hall.  Derisive shouts of laughter
followed the unhappy man as he was carried away.  Most of the guests
had, in their time, taken part in a similar drama to that which was
about to be enacted, and knew full well how the man was to be treated.
The carouse continued till it was time to clear the room for the ball.
Several of the guests had to be borne off, and their heads bathed in
cold water to make them fit companions for the ladies in the dance.
Meantime, Jonas Quelch was carried back to the room he had left, where
Crean plied him with a further supply of whisky under the excuse of
keeping up his spirits.

"Faith, my friend, we bear you no ill-will," observed the steward, "but
you should have known that in this part of ould Ireland it's against the
law to execute writs.  Such a thing never has been done, and it would be
contrary to our consciences ever to allow it to be done, and, therefore,
though it's your masters are to blame, it's _you_ who will have to bear
the consequences."

Mr Quelch, however, by the time these remarks were made, was scarcely
in a condition to understand their full meaning; and he was shortly
again reduced very much to the condition in which he had been before he
had gone into the hall.  At this juncture a party of men entered the
room, one of them telling him that they had come to conduct him on board
the ship which was to convey him to the coast of Africa.  In vain he
urged that he had no wish to go there, and that he would do anything,
even to going back to the country from which he had come, if that would
satisfy them.  No excuses, however, were available.  Away he was
carried, in spite of all his struggles, down to the sea-shore, where a
boat was waiting, as he was told, for him.  As I preferred remaining to
see the dancing, I can only give the story as I afterwards heard it.  In
spite of his struggles he was placed in the boat, which immediately
pulled off into the bay, where he quickly found himself transferred on
board a vessel which lay there at anchor.  He was carried down below,
and placed in a small cabin by himself.

"We will treat you decently," said one of the men, who appeared to be
the leader of the party.  "There are just two things you will have to
do, you must understand, or have a chance of being knocked on the head.
You must not attempt to get out, and you must ask no questions.  It is
to the coast of Africa we are going to carry you, and to the coast of
Africa you must go.  The voyage will not be a long one if we have a fair
breeze, and they are dacent sort of people where we are going to land
you; may be they will make you a prince of their country, and let you
marry a princess, but you will understand that if you love your life, on
the shores of ould Ireland again you will never venture to set foot."

The unfortunate Mr Quelch could make no resistance.  All his
expostulations were in vain.  He heard, as he fancied, the anchor being
got up and sail made, and was fully under the impression that he had
begun the voyage which was to carry him away for ever from his native
land.  The man who had first spoken to him again came below.

"We wish to treat you as a jintleman, though may be it's more than you
deserve," he said, "so we will not stint you in liquor.  You shall have
as much as you can pour down your throat, for I have a notion you will
not get an over abundant supply when you reach Africa.  It's a fine
country, I am told, though a little more sandy than ould Ireland."

As may have been discovered, one of Quelch's failings was his fondness
for liquor, and he soon imbibed enough to bring him into a state of
unconsciousness.  He thus had very little idea how the time passed.  As
soon as he awoke he found another bottle placed by his side.  Thus he
could not tell whether he had been days or weeks on board the ship.  All
that he knew was, that he had been fearfully tossed about, and often
horribly uncomfortable.  It had not occurred to him to feel his beard,
in so confused a state was his mind.  At length he heard the Captain's
voice calling him.

"Come up, if you please, Mr Quelch, we are off the coast of Africa, and
it is time for you to be on shore.  We will just see you comfortably
landed, and then wish you farewell."

The shades of evening were just settling down over the land, when Mr
Quelch made his appearance on the deck.  He could not distinguish
objects distinctly, but he saw before him high hills and a sandy beach.
On looking over the side he discovered a boat with six black men in her.

"Good-bye, Mr Quelch," cried the friendly Captain, as he took Mr
Quelch's arm.  "Good luck go with you.  May be the niggers will look
after you when they have put you on shore, but don't trust them too
much, for it's small love they have for white men."

Poor Quelch did not feel very comfortable on hearing this, but though
inclined to resist, the butt end of a pistol which was sticking out of
the Captain's belt, and which that gentleman significantly began to
handle, reminded him that resistance was useless.  With a trembling
heart he stepped into the boat.  He was soon conveyed on shore.  From
the suppressed laughter of the crew, and from the broad grin which, as
far as he could distinguish, appeared on their countenances, he had an
idea that they were inclined to be amused at his expense.

"Dare, massa," said one of them, "step on shore.  Welcome to Africa.
Make yourself at home.  De king of de country come and see you
by-and-by.  He very fond of eating men, but no eat you, me hope."

Poor Jonas was compelled to obey, and being placed on shore, the boat
again pulled away.  Soon after she had disappeared round a rocky point
he heard loud shouts coming from inland, and looking up he saw, to his
horror and dismay, several black men dancing and shrieking, and showing
by their gestures their intention of coming down, and of making him the
chief article of their supper.  He was now utterly overcome with terror,
and dared not leave the shore lest he should fall into the hands of his
enemies.  Yet, as he had not been supplied with food or water, he was
under the dread of dying from hunger or thirst.  He sat himself down
disconsolately on a rock.  The shouts continued round and above him,
which made him shrink within himself for fear.

"Oh, if ever I get back home to England it is the last time that I will
undertake to serve a writ in the West of Ireland, at all events," he
said, over and over again to himself.  Still the savages did not
descend, though he every instant expected to see them rushing towards
him.  At length the sounds ceased, and he sat himself down on the rock,
where he remained all the night long, afraid of moving lest he should
find himself attacked by them.

The morning broke.  He saw a large ship in the offing, and after some
time a boat left her side and came towards the spot where he was
sitting.  "Oh!" he thought to himself, "if I could get on board that
ship how happy I should be."  No sooner did the boat's bow touch the
sand than he ran towards her.  "Oh!  Take me on board!  Take me on board
out of this savage land!" he exclaimed.  "I will do anything to serve
you!  I will make myself generally useful on board!  There is nothing I
will not do.  Oh!  Take me away out of the power of these blackamoors!"

"You may enter as a seaman, perhaps," answered the midshipman, in
command of the boat.  "If you will promise to do that, we will take you
on board, but we have no idlers, and if you do not know your duty you
must learn it as quickly as you can."

Without further ado Quelch was lifted into the boat, which soon returned
to the frigate.  He found that she was the "Grecian" frigate, and that
she was standing on and off the land, waiting to take the Captain and
some of the officers on board.  He, however, was at once regularly
entered, and found himself speedily transferred into a man-of-war's-man.
Scarcely had he signed the papers, than loud peals of laughter broke
from the seamen round him.  None, however, would explain the cause of
their merriment.  At length once more the frigate put about and stood
towards the land.  As he gazed at the shore, he could not help fancying
that its appearance was very much like that of the neighbourhood of
Ballyswiggan.  At length he put the question to one of the people
standing near him.

"Why, my boy," was the answer of an old quarter-master, "you have been
nicely bamboozled.  This comes of attempting to serve a writ in this
part of the world.  As to the coast of Africa, you have never been
nearer it than you are at this present moment, nor much further from the
place from which you started.  However, take my advice; many a better
man than you has found himself on board a man-of-war, and has had no
cause to regret having done his duty."

Jonas Quelch had the sense to see the wisdom of this counsel, and
fortunately, being an unmarried man, made the best of his case, and, I
can answer for it, became a very fair sailor in a short time, though his
besetting sin occasionally interfered with his happiness and liberty,
and brought him more than once into difficulties.



CHAPTER FOURTEEN.

I interrupted my narrative with an account of Mr Jonas Quelch's
adventures, with which I shortly afterwards became acquainted.  I wish I
could describe the ball which followed the dinner I have already
mentioned; how perseveringly the ladies danced country dances and jigs,
and how furiously the gentlemen flung about, sprang here and there,
rushed up and down the room, and performed antics of every possible
description, such as might have astonished the more sober professors of
the art across the channel.  My mother stole into a corner of the room,
where she could see without being observed, and nothing would induce her
to go further.  Although Captain.  Oliver found her out, and entreated
her to join in what was going forward, she refused to dance even with
him.

"I could not resist joining in the fun as you do, Mrs Burton," said Mr
Schank, "but I am afraid the ladies would object to my hopping up and
down the room, lest I should come down upon their tender feet with my
timber-toe, so I am obliged to abandon the sport I delighted in in my
younger days."  Mr Gillooly, also, at length discovered her, and was
far more persevering in his efforts to induce her to take part in the
dance, though with no more success.

"Sure, Mistress Burton, you would not be after breaking a jintleman's
heart, which is as soft as butther whenever he is thinking of you!" he
exclaimed, pressing his hand on his bosom and looking up with an
expression which he intended to be extremely captivating.

"Indeed, Mr Gillooly, but it is more likely that any heart you have got
would be after melting rather than breaking," remarked my mother,
observing the fiery countenance and the violent perspiration into which
her swain had thrown himself.  "My dancing days are over, and had I not
supposed that the gentlemen here would have had the good taste not to
press me to do what I dislike, I should not have ventured into the
room."

Nothing abashed, however, by this answer, Mr Gillooly continued to pour
out his compliments into my mother's ear, and she had to be still more
explicit before he would receive a refusal.  At length he left her, and
was soon afterwards seen rushing about, as before, with one of my aunts,
or with some other young lady of equal powers of endurance.  Captain
Oliver, after this, sat himself down by my mother's side.

"Your boy has grown into a fine big lad," he observed, "and though he is
somewhat young, still I think he is strong enough to hold his own in a
midshipman's berth, and if you are disposed to let him go, I am ready to
take him."

"A midshipman's berth!" exclaimed my mother, and a choking feeling came
into her throat.  "Surely you cannot intend such advancement to my boy--
the boatswain's son.  I never wished him to be above his station, and if
he were to rise to be a boatswain like his dear father, I should be well
contented."

"Do not say that, Mrs Burton.  His father was a fine seaman, and would
have been an honour to the quarter-deck himself.  I promised to befriend
your boy, and I can do so far more if he is in the rank of a midshipman
than if he is simply one of the ship's boys.  From what I see of your
relations and friends, indeed, though to be sure some of their doings
are a little eccentric compared with our English notions, yet their
position is such that their young relative should be placed in the rank
of a gentleman.  Say no more about it, I will assist him, and so I am
sure will Mr Schank, in procuring his necessary outfit.  That matter,
therefore, need not trouble you, and I hope in a short time that he will
pick up so much, prize-money that he will be able to support himself
till he attains the rank of Lieutenant."

Of course my mother could offer no objection to this very generous
proposal.  All she pleaded was, that I might remain a short time longer
with her on shore.  Lieutenant Schank then came in with a proposal which
he had to make.  It was that she should return to his mother's house,
where I might employ my time to advantage in obtaining the instruction
which I could not get at Ballybruree.  This offer she gladly accepted.
Indeed, she told me that she had herself thought of returning to
Whithyford, in order to avoid the persevering addresses of Mr Gillooly
and her other admirers.  The frigate was to remain on the coast for a
week or ten days, after which time she had been ordered to go round to
Portsmouth to refit.  Captain Oliver, therefore, kindly offered my
mother and me a passage, should she in the meantime be able to make
arrangements for her departure.  For this proposal she was very
grateful.  A journey across the whole width of Ireland and England was
both difficult, hazardous, and very expensive, if performed in a
comfortable manner.  I was delighted with the thoughts of meeting again
the Little Lady with the kind Misses Schank; for I must confess that the
habits and customs of my relatives did not suit my taste much more than
they did that of my mother.  As to the ball, I need not further describe
it.  The ladies who came from a distance occupied all the upper rooms in
the house, while the gentlemen were stowed away in the lower rooms and
out-houses, many of them, however, little knowing how they got to bed or
where they were.

Great was the lamentation her friends expressed when my mother's
determination of going to England was made known; indeed, some
considered that a decided insult was offered to her native country.  Mr
Gillooly, indeed, made some remarks as to her motives, which certainly
did not further his cause.

We set off the next day for Ballybruree with the rest of our party, my
uncle and aunt inviting us to return to Ballyswiggan, there to remain
till the frigate was ready to take us on board.  Mr Tim Laffan, who
showed much good feeling, undertook to dispose of my mother's few
possessions, and in the course of a few days placed in her hands a sum
which she considered even more than their value.

"Well, Mrs Burton, I had hoped other things," he said, as he shook her
warmly by the hand, as she was mounting her pony to proceed to
Ballyswiggan, "but I know enough about ladies' hearts to be aware that
they are more difficult to manage than the toughest lawsuit."

Dan Hogan was away on duty, and we were off before he returned, but
Captain Michael Tracy insisted on walking by my mother's side all the
way to Ballyswiggan; indeed I could not help thinking that if anyone was
to win her heart, he was likely to be the happy man.  We had a somewhat
moving scene when bidding farewell to my grandfather and grandmother.

The old gentleman, indeed, wept bitterly as he was apt to do, especially
after his tenth tumbler of whisky and water, provided it was of the full
strength.  I need not say anything more about him at present.  We
reached Ballyswiggan Castle in safety, the small amount of property my
mother wished to retain following us in a cart.  Mr Kilcullin was very
kind, and my aunt promised to write occasionally, and let us know how
the rest of the family got on.  She was, indeed, the only one of her
sisters who was much practised in the art of penmanship, the others
having spent most of their time in gaining a knowledge of horseflesh, in
riding up and down the country, and in practising certain very useful
domestic duties.  I certainly did feel very proud, and so I think did my
mother, when the boat from the frigate came to fetch us on board, and we
were seated in the stern sheets with our boxes in the bows, a young
midshipman in a fresh bright uniform steering.  A short, somewhat stout
man pulled the stroke oar.  He looked at my mother very hard.  At length
a beaming smile came over his broad countenance, and he could no longer
help giving her a look of recognition.  I thought I knew him.  He was no
other than my old friend Toby Kiddle.  Still, as the midshipman treated
us with so much respect, he evidently thought it did not become him to
address us.  Our friends on shore, I should have said, saluted us with
loud shouts as we pushed off.  "Long life to Ben Burton!" cried a voice.
"May he live to be an admiral, and an honour to old Ireland, and may he
never forget the land of his ancestors."  My mother waved an adieu.  Her
heart was too full with a variety of emotions to speak.

"Is Ben Burton your name?" said the midshipman, looking at me.  "I
understand you are going to join us.  You are a lucky chap, for our ship
is a happy one, and we are likely to see a good deal of service."

When we got on board, one of the first people I set eyes on was Pat
Brady.

"I could not help it, Ben," he said.  "Some of the boys got round me and
talked of old times, and faith, though I was living on shore like a
gintleman, after all I could not resist the look of the trim frigate,
and the thoughts of the fighting and the fun on board.  But, Ben, I hear
you are to be one of the young gintlemen, and I know my place too well
and your interests ever to be claiming relationship with you.  You will
understand that, Ben.  If ever you can do me a good turn I am sure you
will, and I need not tell you that when we are boarding an enemy's ship,
and you are in the thickest of the fun, Pat Brady won't be far off your
side.  Just tell your mother that, for may be I may not have an
opportunity of speaking to her as I would wish."

"He is a good honest fellow, that cousin of ours," said my mother when I
told her.  "It is just like him, and I am very thankful to think that
you have so true a friend among the men.  If you behave wisely and
kindly to them, depend upon it you will always be able to get work done,
when others much older than yourself will fail, and that more than
anything else will gain you the approval of your superior officers."

The Third-Lieutenant of the frigate had gone home on sick leave, and his
cabin was given up to my mother.  She told me she felt very strange
occupying a berth aft when she had been so long accustomed to one in the
fore-part of the ship.  It was satisfactory to see as much attention
paid her as if she had always occupied the position of a lady.  Indeed I
may say with satisfaction that she was well deserving of all the
attention paid her, while in her manner and conversation she was
thoroughly the lady.  I was said to take after her, and, at the risk of
being considered vain and egotistical, it is satisfactory to believe I
did.  "It would be a shame not to place that boy on the quarter-deck," I
heard the Captain observe to Mr Schank one day, when he was not aware
how near I was.  "He looks, and is, thoroughly the gentleman, and will
make a smart young officer, depend on that."

I was delighted to find myself on board ship again, and if the choice
had been given me I suspect that I should have remained rather than have
accompanied my mother back to Whithyford.  After we had doubled Cape
Clear a sail hove in sight, to which we gave chase.  She was a large
brig, and soon showed us that she had a fast pair of heels, by keeping
well ahead.  All sail was pressed on the frigate, and yet, after chasing
several hours, we appeared to be no nearer to her.  Still Captain Oliver
was not a man to strike to an enemy, or to give up a chance of making a
prize as long as the slightest possibility of doing so remained.  All
night long we kept in her wake; she probably expecting a fog, or a
change of wind, or some other circumstance to enable her to alter her
course without being perceived by us.  The night, however, was very
clear, and when morning broke there she was still ahead.  It was
evident, also, that we had gained on her considerably.

"I say, Ben, our skipper and First-Lieutenant are licking their lips at
the thoughts of the prize we shall pick up before the day is many hours
older," observed my friend Tom Twigg, the midshipman who steered the
boat which brought us on board; he had ever since then marked me as an
object of his especial favour.  He was a merry little fellow, with the
funniest round face, and round eyes, and round nose possible.  He often
got into scrapes; but he declared that, like a hedgehog or slater, or
woodlouse, he always managed to roll himself out of them.  "I rather
think the skipper has entered you on the books that you may have a share
in the prize we are going to make," he observed.  "It will not be very
great, but it is something, and no man on board will grudge it you."
About noon we got the brig under our guns, when she hauled down her
colours, and proved to be a richly-laden Letter of Marque.  It was very
pleasant returning into port with her, and this circumstance put
everybody on board in good humour, the Captain and Lieutenant Schank
especially, who of course had large shares.

"I wish I could accompany you, Mrs Burton," said Mr Schank, when we
reached Portsmouth; "but that is impossible.  You must let me frank you
up, however, to my mother's.  I dare say by this time you pretty well
know how to manage on the road.  Pay the postboys well, and take care
that youngster does not tumble off the roof and break his neck."  Of
course my mother thanked the Captain and all the officers for the
kindness she had received on board.  They insisted on her saying nothing
about the matter; indeed, they declared they had not done enough, and
would not let her go till they had made her accept a purse of gold,
which they declared would have been my father's share of the prize just
taken had he been alive.  Lieutenant Schank had written on before to
announce our coming.  The old lady, therefore, and the three Misses
Schank were on the look-out for us as our post-chaise drove up to the
cottage, while I saw poor Mrs Lindars looking out at an upper window
from the room she occupied, and there in the midst of the ladies
downstairs was the Little Lady, a perfect little fairy she looked among
the three mature Misses Schank.  Miss Anna Maria held her up in her
arms, and the little girl cried out, "Oh!  Mamma, mamma, I know you are
my mamma, though I have got four other mammas here."  She had grown very
much, and instead of going off in beauty, had become one of the most
perfect little creatures I ever set eyes on.  Nothing could be more
hearty than the welcome we received, and the dear old lady told my
mother that she must look upon herself as one of the family, and only
help the other ladies just as much as she felt inclined.  Mrs Lindars,
soon after we arrived, begged we would come up, and the Little Lady,
taking me by the hand, led the way.  There was something very striking
in the affectionate and tender way the Little Lady addressed Mrs
Lindars; indeed it for the moment struck me that they were something
alike, though one was somewhat advanced in life, and the features of the
other were scarcely yet formed.  Mrs Lindars welcomed my mother very
kindly.  "And Ben has indeed grown into a fine lad," she observed.  "And
Emily, too, you see her greatly improved, Mrs Burton.  Ben, you must be
her champion if she requires one.  Alas!  I fear she will.  I trust her
fate may be happier than mine."

"Yes, ma'am, I will fight for her, that I will," I answered, looking at
Emily; "not that I think anyone would ever be so wicked as to try and
harm her."  The poor lady smiled sadly and shook her head.

"Beauty is rather a snare than a protection," she observed.

Of course I did not exactly understand her meaning; I heard afterwards,
though I think I have already alluded to the fact, that the poor lady
had, at a very early age, married a foreigner, calling himself Lindars,
and that she had one child, a girl.  Her husband, after frequently
absenting himself, returned to Whithyford, when one day he and the child
disappeared.  The poor mother was left in an agony of doubt as to what
had become of her infant, persuading herself that it had been murdered.
A letter, however, at length reached her from her husband, saying that
he was on the point of leaving England, and that he purposed carrying
the child with him.  From that day she had never received the slightest
intelligence of her husband or daughter.  Her brother Jack had been
absent from home at the time of her marriage, and five years passed away
before he again returned, so that he had been unable to assist her in
her inquiries.  I was placed for instruction under the care of an old
gentleman residing in the village, who had formerly been a schoolmaster.
He was well able to impart to me the knowledge I most required, and as
I was very anxious to learn, I made considerable progress.  My spare
time was spent almost entirely in the company of little Emily.  I was
never tired of attending on her.  As was then the custom, she wore a
little red mantle as a walking dress.  One day we were out in the
fields, when she ran off in chase of a butterfly.  At the further end of
the field a bull was grazing, having been turned out to indulge his
sulky humour by himself.  The sight of the red cloak fluttering over the
green meadow suddenly excited his rage, and with a loud roar he came
rushing up towards it.  I saw the little girl's danger, and quick as
lightning darted towards her.  The cloak was fortunately secured by a
very slight string.  I tore it off and told her to run on; while,
seizing the cloak, which I at once guessed was the cause of the bull's
rage, I darted off in a different direction.  The animal followed, as I
had expected.  On he came, however, at a speed which was likely soon to
bring him up to me.  It was some distance to the nearest hedge.  Towards
that, however, I made my way, as the best means of escape.  The bull was
not five yards from me.  The hedge was thick and high.  Into it or over
it I must go, or run the certainty of a toss.  I sprang towards the
hedge.  Just at the spot I reached was the stem of a small tree; one
branch alone had escaped the pruner's hatchet.  Throwing the cloak
against the hedge, I seized the bough and sprang to the top--not a
pleasant position, considering the brambles of which it was composed.
The bull, with a loud roar, dashed into the hedge below me, into which
he fixed his head, tearing up the ground, and making the bushes shake
all round.  I looked out and saw that Emily had reached the gate in
safety; but how to descend was now the difficulty, for if I jumped back
into the field out of which I came the bull would probably again attack
me, whereas, on the other side, I could not descend without the risk of
tearing my clothes and scratching myself with the brambles.

"Thou be a brave lad; I seed it all!" exclaimed a voice near me, and
looking down I saw a person who appeared to be a farmer, standing on the
further side of the hedge.

"Jump into my arms, I'll catch thee, lad," he added, seeing the
predicament in which I was placed.  I willingly did as he bid me, and,
caught by his arms, reached the ground in safety.  "We must have the
little maiden's cloak, though," he said, laughing.  "I will bring up
some of my men, and we will soon handle the old bull."  He was as good
as his word.  Five or six farm servants soon made their appearance with
a stout rope, which they threw over the bull's neck and led him quietly
off, while, accompanied by the farmer, I passed through a gate a little
way on, and, securing the cloak, crossed the field to where Emily, still
in a great fright, was waiting for me.  The farmer insisted on
accompanying us home.  He was well-known, I found, to the ladies, and
with great glee he recounted to them my exploit, bestowing more praise
on me, I thought, than I deserved.  Emily, however, declared that he was
right, and that if it had not been for me, she was sure the bull would
have tossed her up into the moon, or at all events as high as the moon.

My mother was now busily employed in preparing my outfit, and many a
tear did she shed over her work when she thought that I was soon to be
separated from her.  A letter came at length from Captain Oliver, saying
that the frigate was ready for sea, and that I must come at once down to
Portsmouth.  Fortunately my friend Farmer Cocks was going up to London,
and undertook to escort me thus far, and from thence he was to see me
off in the coach for Portsmouth.  I will not describe my parting.  There
was a good deal more crying than I like to think of, and the dear Little
Lady wept till her heart seemed about to break.  However, her tears
probably soon dried up, but my poor mother's sorrow was likely to be far
more enduring.

"Thou art a brave, honest lad, Ben Burton," said the good farmer,
pressing a five-pound note into my hand as I was about to mount on the
top of the Portsmouth coach.  "Thou wilt have plenty of use for this in
getting thy new clothes for sea; but if not, spend it as thou thinkest
best.  I have no fear that thou wilt squander it as some do, and mark
thee, shouldst thou ever want a home to come to, thou wilt always find a
warm welcome at Springfield, from my good dame and me."  I pocketed his
gift with a sincere "Thank you," and he wrung my hand warmly, again and
again, until I got fairly out of his reach on to the top of the coach.



CHAPTER FIFTEEN.

Captain Oliver had directed me to meet him at the "George," and I found
him standing on the steps of that aristocratic hotel to which very few
midshipmen of those days ever thought of going.  My mother, being well
acquainted with the internal economy of a man-of-war, had provided me
with a chest of very moderate dimensions, at which no First-Lieutenant,
however strict, could cavil.  It and I were deposited at the hotel, and
the waiter, seeing the kind way in which the Captain treated me, must
have taken me for a young lord at least, and ordered the porter to carry
it forthwith inside.

"That will do," said the Captain, as he eyed it.  "And now you must come
and get measured for your uniforms, and procure other necessaries, as I
hope we may be off in two or three days at furthest."

I found that Captain Oliver had paid off the "Grecian," and commissioned
a new frigate, the "Orion," to which most of his officers and men had
been turned over, and that she was about to proceed to the Indian
station.  "There was no use telling your poor mother this," he observed.
"The thoughts that you would be so long separated from her would only
have added to her grief at parting from you, and as far as you are
concerned, my boy, the time will soon pass by, and you will come back
nearly ready for a swab on your shoulder."

The tailor, under the Captain's inspection, having examined the contents
of my chest, made a note of the things I required besides.  My outfit
was soon complete.

"And now, my lad, my coxswain will take charge of you and your chest,"
said the Captain, "and see you safely on board."

Greatly to my delight, Toby Kiddle soon afterwards made his appearance.
"Why, Mr Burton," he said, and I thought his eyes twinkled as he
addressed me with that title.  "Why, you see, the Captain's last
coxswain slipped his cable a few months ago, and as I was one of the
Captain's oldest shipmates, and he knew he could trust me, he has
appointed me, and I never wish to serve under a better captain."  Having
purchased a few other articles with Farmer Cocks' five-pound note, which
Toby Kiddle suggested I should find useful, we chartered a wherry to go
to the frigate.

Among other things I got two or three pounds of tobacco.  "You see, Mr
Burton, if you deal it out now and then to the men, it will show them
that you have not forgotten them; and though you are on the
quarter-deck, that you are not proud, as some youngsters show
themselves, but still have a kindly feeling towards them."  I gladly
followed his advice.  As we approached the "Orion," and I observed her
handsome hull, her well-squared yards, and her trim and gallant
appearance, I felt proud of belonging to so fine a frigate.  The
boatswain's whistle was piping shrilly as we went up the side, and as my
eye fell on the person who was sounding it, I had an idea that I
recollected him.  I asked Toby who he was.  "Your old friend, Bill
King," he said.  "I wanted to see whether you would remember him; I am
glad you do.  It is a good sign when old friends are not forgotten."

While Kiddle got my chest up, and paid the boatman, I went and reported
myself to Mr Schank as come on board; and very proud I felt as I
stepped on the quarter-deck in my bran-new midshipman's uniform.  The
First-Lieutenant, who was stumping on his wooden leg here and there with
active movements, watching the proceedings of the various gangs of men
at work in different ways, stopped when he saw me and smiled kindly.  He
had grown thinner, if not taller, since I last saw him, and looked
somewhat like the scathed trunk of a once lofty poplar, battered and
torn by a hundred tempests.

"You know the ways of a ship, Ben, pretty well, but as you are still
somewhat small, I have asked Mr Oldershaw--one of the mates--to stand
your friend, and he will give you a help also in navigation.  And, Ben,
mind, do not you be ashamed of asking him anything you want to know.
You may live a long time on board ship, and still learn nothing about
seamanship, if you do not keep your eyes open, and try to get others to
explain what you do not understand."  As Mr Schank spoke, he beckoned
to a grey-headed old mate who just then came on deck.  "This is the
youngster I spoke to you about, Mr Oldershaw," he said.  "You will have
an eye on him, and I hope you will be able to give a good report of his
behaviour."  I naturally looked up at my protector's countenance, and
was well-satisfied with the expression I saw on it.  He soon afterwards
took me down below, and on my way told me that I was to be in his watch,
and that if I did not become a good seaman before the cruise was up, it
should not be his fault.

"You see, Ben, I feel an interest in you on many accounts.  I entered
before the mast, and was placed on the quarter-deck, much as you may be
said to have been, and was also left an orphan at an early age.  I have
not been very fortunate as to promotion; indeed, though my family were
very respectable in life, I had no interest.  I suppose some day I shall
be made a lieutenant, and then I do not expect to rise much higher; but
a lieutenant is a gentleman by rank, and though the half-pay is not
overwhelming, yet, as I have saved a little prize-money, I shall have
enough to keep me till I am placed under the green sward.  When I visit
some quiet churchyard, I often think how sweet a resting-place it would
be after having been knocked about all one's life on the stormy ocean,
and after having met with so many disappointments and sorrows."

I do not know what induced Oldershaw to speak to me in that way, for in
truth he was one of the happiest and most contented people on board, so
it seemed to me.  While others grumbled and growled he never uttered a
word of complaint in public, but took everything as it came, in the most
good-humoured manner.  He was a true friend to me from that time
forward, and gave me many a lesson in wisdom as well as in other
matters, which was of value to me through life.  Tom Twigg who was the
only midshipman I knew, received me cordially.  There was another young
gentleman, who, though he might have been older, was considerably
smaller than I was.  There was a roguish, mischievous look about the
countenance of Dicky Esse, which showed me at once that I must be
prepared for tricks of all sorts from him.  Another mate was seated in
the berth, to whom Oldershaw introduced me.  His name, I found, was
Pember.  He was a broad-shouldered, rough-looking man, with a
suspiciously red countenance and nose, his features marked and scored
with small-pox and his eyelids so swelled, that only a portion of the
inflamed balls could be seen.  He uttered a low growl as I entered.

"We have kids enough on board already," he observed.  "They will be
sending the nurses with them next."

"Never fear, Pember, he will soon grow out of his kidhood," observed
Oldershaw.  "We want young blood to supply the place of us oldsters when
we slip off the stage."

"You mean to be placed over our heads, and to trample us down," said
Pember.  "Why there is our skipper.  I was a passed midshipman when he
came to sea, and now he is a post-captain, and I am where I was, and
shall be probably to the end of the chapter."

As soon as I could leave the berth I hurried to the boatswain's cabin,
to which Bill King had just then descended.  "You do not remember me,
Mr King," said I, shaking him by the hand, "but I recollect you, and
that you were one of my father's oldest shipmates, and my mother's
kindest friend."

"Bless my heart, Ben, is it you?" he exclaimed, for he really had not at
first known me.  "Well, I did not think it.  I am glad, that I am, boy,
to see you, whom I have dandled in my hands many a time, come to sea on
the quarter-deck.  You must be an admiral, Ben, some day, that you must.
Those who have sent you to sea must give you a shove upwards while you
have still youth and strength and health in your favour.  To many,
promotion comes too late to do them any real good.  When hope is knocked
out of a man he is fit for very little in this world, or rather, I
should say, nothing!"

"And Mrs King?"  I asked; "how is she?"

"I could not bring her on board again, Ben, but she is very well, and as
strong and active as ever.  She has set up a coffee-shop in Gosport,
which gives her something to do, and will help her to keep the pot
boiling till I get back."

We had a fine run down Channel, and a fair wind carried us along, till
we were in the latitude of the Azores.  Our orders were, not to go out
of our way, but to do as much damage and harm to the enemy as we
conveniently could on our voyage to the South.  We consequently kept a
bright look-out, in the hopes of falling in with a ship worth capturing.
Several times we had chased vessels, but they either managed to escape
us during the night, or proved to be neutrals.  At length, however, when
about twenty leagues to the north of Teneriffe, we saw a sail standing
apparently towards that island.  That she was a Spaniard seemed
probable, and there were great hopes that she might prove a merchant
vessel.  We made all sail, hoping to overhaul her before the sun went
down, but she was a fast craft, and kept well ahead of us.  Hour after
hour passed by.  All the glasses on board were constantly turned towards
her.  Great doubts at length began to be entertained of our capturing
her after all.  In our berth, especially, some of the young gentlemen
were ready to sell their expected share of the prize-money, while others
of more sanguine temperament were not unwilling to buy.  Dicky Esse,
especially, wanted to purchase my share.

"What will you give, Esse?"  I asked, not, however, making up my mind
that the transaction was a very wise one.

"Ten shillings would be handsome, but I have no objections to give you
thirty.  She is very likely to be in ballast, and we are more likely
still not to catch her, so that you at all events will be the gainer of
thirty shillings."

"I should not object to the thirty shillings, but if we take her I may
possibly get thirty pounds, and more than that if she is a richly-laden
craft."

"Don't have anything to do with the business, Ben," exclaimed Oldershaw.
"I do not bet, and do not intend to begin, but I say there are five
chances to one that we shall take her, so keep your prospects in your
pocket, my boy, and I hope they will prove good ones."  Although the
hammocks were piped down at the usual hour, very few officers or men
turned in.  It was well-known that Captain Oliver would not let the
chase escape as long as there was a prospect of getting hold of her.
There was a bright moon, and by the master's calculation we should sight
Teneriffe before dawn.  A sailor's eye alone could have made out the
shadowy form of the chase ahead of us, but not for a moment was she lost
sight of.  The wind fell as the night drew on, and the sea became calm,
rippled over only by little wavelets, upon which the moonbeams played
brightly.  It was a lovely night.  Bright as was the moon, many of the
stars were to be seen also, vying with her in splendour.  Yet here were
we, with thousands of stars looking down upon us, about to commit an act
of rapine and slaughter, for such, lawful as it might be thought, was
the deed we were about to do.  It was Oldershaw's watch, and I was
walking the deck with him.  I made some remark of that sort.  He
responded to it.

"Yes, Ben," he said, "I wonder what the bright seraphic beings up
there--for surely there must be such in that pure heaven above us--are
thinking of the proceedings of us mortals down here below.  We have to
fight, and it is right to defend our country, but I tell you, Ben, I
have seen a good deal of it, and, putting what people call glory aside,
it is very fearful, disgusting, dirty work.  It makes a man feel like a
devil for a time, and it is devilish, there is no doubt about that.  I
am in for it, and I expect to have plenty more of the same sort of work
to do, but I am very sure that for men to kill each other is hateful to
the God who made us.  There is only one thing worse, and that is when
they lie, and cheat, and deceive each other, and it seems often to me
that more than one-half of the world is employed in doing one or the
other."

"Have we gained much on the chase, Mr Schank?" asked the Captain, who
just then appeared on deck.

"The best part of a mile, sir, I should think, in the course of the last
hour.  If the wind does not fall still more, we shall come up with her
soon after daylight.  She is heavily laden, and requires a breeze to
send her along."

Oldershaw at length persuaded me to go below and turn in, promising to
have me called should anything occur.  When I came on deck in the
morning, as the hammocks were piped up, the chase was still some
distance off, running in for the land, which appeared on our
starboard-bow.  We followed her pertinaciously, however, though, as the
wind frequently shifted, we did not gain upon her as at first.  At
length, however, we saw her run in for a bay with a fort on one side of
it.  "We have her safe now," observed Captain Oliver to Mr Schank.
"Before this time to-morrow I hope she will be ours."

Having reconnoitred the bay, and found that the fort was rather too
strong to attack in the day, Captain Oliver stood off the land once
more.  It soon became known that a cutting-out expedition was in
contemplation, and the men were busily employed in sharpening their
cutlasses, and looking to the locks of their pistols.  From the
appearance of the chase, there was no doubt that she was a merchant
vessel, and it was hoped would offer no great resistance.  Every
precaution which prudence could dictate was taken.  Four boats were
ordered to be got ready, and towards evening we again stood in for the
land.  A bright look-out had been kept all day, so that there was no
risk of the expected prize having made her escape.  I greatly longed to
be in one of the boats, but Oldershaw told me there was no use asking,
as he was sure the Captain would not let me go.  He, too, was
disappointed, finding that he was not to be one of the party.  The
Second and Third Lieutenants, with Pember and the master, commanded the
two boats, and, all things being ready, away they pulled.  They had got
to some distance when it was discovered that they had gone without
signal-rockets or port-fires.  Oldershaw, on this, volunteered to carry
them in the dinghy, and I begged that I might accompany him.

"Well, look after the boy, and take care he gets into no mischief, Mr
Oldershaw," said the Captain, "and he may then go."

I was delighted.  Toby Kiddle and Pat Brady offered to pull the boat,
for, of course, she had no regular crew.  Two other men also
volunteered, and away we went.  The other boats, however, had got a long
way ahead.  We could only just distinguish the dim outline of the bay.
We pulled rapidly on, when, just as we were at the entrance of the
harbour, suddenly, from the deck of the ship, there burst forth loud
shouts and cries, the flashing of pistols and musketry, and the clashing
of steel, the sounds coming over to us across the calm water.  Our men
were hotly engaged, of that there was no doubt, but, from the frequent
flashes of pistols, and the shouts of Spaniards as well as Englishmen,
it was doubtful which was gaining the day.  The contest was evidently a
fierce one.  Oldershaw's blood, in spite of his principles, was quickly
up, and he evidently thought very little about me or anything else,
except getting on deck as fast as he could, and joining in the fray.
Our crew strained every nerve to get alongside.  As we pulled by, the
shouts and cries increased.  The whole deck seemed one blaze of fire
from the rapid discharge of pistols and muskets, while every now and
then fearful shrieks burst from the bosoms of those who had been cut
down.  The ship was a high one, and there was some difficulty in
climbing up out of our small boat.

"Here's a lower port open!" exclaimed Pat Brady, springing up and
hauling himself into it.  We all followed, and found ourselves the sole
possessors of the lower-deck.  Whether our people had the fore or after
part of the deck we could not ascertain.  We were about, however, to
make our way up, when we caught sight of several figures descending.
They were Spaniards, going apparently to the magazine for more
ammunition.  Before they were aware of our presence, our men had sprung
upon them and cut them down.  Scarcely had they ceased to breathe when
three other persons came down, apparently for the same object.  Led by
Oldershaw, Kiddle and Brady with the others were upon them, and they too
were cut down.  It being supposed, probably, that they were skulking, a
still larger number of people came down to look them up in the same
incautious manner, and before they had time to cry out they also were
slaughtered.  An officer and several more men, swearing fearfully at the
cowardice of their companions, now jumped below, and were in like manner
cut down.  I scarcely like to say how many people were killed in this
fearful way.  Our men now made a dash aft with such fury that the
Spaniards on deck thought only of defending their lives.  Two dead
bodies came tumbling down the hatchway, as well as another poor fellow,
only half killed, with a desperate wound on his shoulder.  I should say
from the way he groaned, and an exclamation he uttered, I felt sure he
was an Englishman.  I ran up to him, "Who are you?"  I asked.  It was
one of our men.

"Is that you, Mr Burton?" he answered, in a faint voice.  "It is going
hard with us, for the ship was full of people and they are fighting
well."  Oldershaw, who just then came up, heard the words.  "We will
turn the tide then!" he exclaimed.  "Come on, lads!"

We on this made our way forward, and reached the fore hatchway.  Pat
Brady sprang up first, shouting, "The ship is ours!  The ship is ours!"

Oldershaw then taking the lead, we rushed aft, where our men were
fighting with a number of Spanish soldiers and seamen.  With loud shouts
we dashed at our enemies, who, not seeing our numbers and supposing that
a fresh set of boarders had gained the deck, began to give way.

We pressed on them, those who refused to yield or escape over the
taffrail being speedily cut down.  The ship was ours, but we had still a
good deal to do.  We had lost several people, killed and wounded, and we
had a large number of prisoners to keep in order.  As yet the garrison
in the fort, not knowing who had gained the day, had not commenced
firing at us.  We had time, therefore, to secure our prisoners.  Sail
was then made on the ship, and her cable being cut, the boats towed her
head round.  The topsails were sheeted home, and with a light
land-breeze we stood out of the bay.  Having to pass pretty near the
fort, Mr Tilhard, the Second-Lieutenant, ordered the greater number of
the people to go below, he and Kiddle taking the helm; while the few who
remained on deck were directed to keep close under the bulwarks.  It was
fortunate that these arrangements were made, for, as we drew near, the
Spaniards began to pepper us pretty sharply with round-shot and
musketry, the bullets flying thickly about us, while several shots
struck the hull.  Had they been better gunners they might have done more
damage.  Happily no one was hurt, though the sails were riddled and the
white planks laid bare in several places.

As soon as the fight was over I thought of the poor fellow who had been
tumbled below.  I went to look for him with a lantern.  For some time I
could not discover where he was, for several Spaniards who had been
killed had fallen down at the same spot.  Pat, who accompanied me, at
length discovered him.  "He will not want any more human aid," he
observed, holding the lantern to his face.  "The Spaniards have already
done for him."  Whether, if instant aid had been afforded him, the man
might have escaped, I do not know, but his wound was a desperate one,
and he had apparently bled to death.  We were received with loud cheers
from the frigate's decks, as in the grey dawn of morning we passed close
under her stern.



CHAPTER SIXTEEN.

Our prize--a ship of six hundred tons, and mounting fourteen guns--
called the "Santiago," proved to be of considerable value.  A prize crew
being put on board, we steered for Saint Helena, where it was possible
we might find a purchaser, and if not, Captain Oliver resolved to take
her to the Cape.  Fortunately, at Saint Helena we found the officers and
crew of an Indiaman, which had been burnt at sea; and the Company's
agent there was very glad to purchase our prize, and send her on, most
of the goods being suitable to the Indian market.  On concluding the
bargain, the agent presented the Captain with a couple of young tigers.
They were somewhat inconvenient pets, though they would have been
valuable had we been going home.  However, as we had no others on board,
he accepted them, thinking they might serve to amuse the ship's company,
and having an idea, I believe, that they might be perfectly tamed.  We
in the midshipmen's berth welcomed them with glee, and at once began to
teach them to perform all sorts of tricks.  They would let us ride on
their backs, and they learned to leap through hoops and over ropes, and
they would rush round and round the deck at a rapid rate, and soon they
became the most playful, engaging creatures possible.  Oldershaw was the
only person who expressed doubts about their amiability.

"If I were the Captain, I would clip their claws and draw their teeth
before I would let them play with you youngsters," he observed.  "Their
tricks may be playful now, but they will serve you a scurvy one before
long, or their nature is more changed than I believe it to be."

Of course we laughed at his prognostications, and continued to amuse
ourselves with our pets as usual.  The Cape was reached.  We took on
board a supply of live and dead stock, having now a long run before us
across the Indian Ocean, into that part of the world where I had first
seen the light--the China Seas.  We had several sheep and a supply of
hay to feed them on.  Some of the men had an idea that our tamed pets
would gladly feed on the hay, but their carnivorous teeth refused to
munch it.  They, however, turned suspiciously hungry glances towards the
newcomers.  Oldershaw observed it, "They have probably never eaten sheep
or midshipmen," he observed, "but the nature to do so is in them, and
depend upon it their nature will have sway if we give them the
opportunity."  However, as the animals were tolerably well-fed, and were
carefully caged, they gave no exhibition when anyone was watching them
of their evil propensities, if they possessed them.  When our stock of
fresh meat was exhausted, first one sheep and then another was killed to
supply the Captain and officers' tables, a portion falling to the lot of
some of the men's messes.  Their skins, which were peculiarly fine, were
cleansed and prepared by the armourer, who happened also to understand
the trade of a currier.  Two of them were hung up to dry, when it came
into the brains of Tom Twig and Dicky Esse to clothe themselves in the
skins, and in high glee they came prancing about the deck, baa-ing away,
imitating two frolicsome lambs, with a tolerable amount of accuracy.
They afforded much amusement to us, their messmates, and not a little to
the men who happened to be on deck.  Not content with amusing us, off
they went, into the neighbourhood of the tigers' cage.  It ought to have
been shut, and generally was shut.  So exact was their imitation of
nature that the beasts, after watching them with great eagerness for
some moments, could no longer resist their natural propensities.  With
fierce leaps they rushed against the door of their cage.  It gave way,
and out they sprang.  One bound carried them on to the backs of their
expected prey.  In another instant Tom and Dicky Esse would have been
torn to pieces, had they not, in a way midshipmen alone could have done,
slipped out of their skins, and rolled pale with terror across the deck.
The animals, finding only the dry skins, were about to make another
spring, when the man who had charge of them and had witnessed the scene,
came rushing up with his stick of office, and several other men coming
to his assistance with ropes, the savage creatures were forthwith
secured.  Both the midshipmen were rather more frightened than hurt, and
in consideration of their terror they escaped any further consequences
of their conduct which was looked upon by the First-Lieutenant as
somewhat derogatory to the dignity which they were in duty bound to
maintain.

After leaving the Cape, we were constantly becalmed, and then, getting
further east, fell in with a hurricane, from the effects of which
nothing but first-rate seamanship, under God's Providence, could have
preserved the frigate.  We were now getting much in want of water, and
Captain Oliver, unwilling to go out of his way to any of the settlements
to obtain it, resolved to search for a supply at the first island we
should fall in with.  At length we came in sight of a large island, with
yellow sands, and green palm trees waving in the breeze.  Nothing could
be more attractive, but it appeared that nobody on board had been there
before.  The master knew the existence of the island on the chart, but
whether it was inhabited or not, or by whom, he could not say.  As no
anchorage was found, the ship was hove to, and three boats, with casks,
under the command of the Second-Lieutenant, and my friend Oldershaw, and
Pember, were directed to go on shore.  I went with Oldershaw, and Twigg
and Esse went in the other boats.  We pulled into the bay abreast of the
ship, where, between two projecting rocks, we found an excellent
landing-place, and not far from it a stream of water, clear and limpid.
As no natives appeared, the opinion was that that part of the island, at
all events, was uninhabited, and this made us somewhat careless.  All
the casks being filled, the boats were sent back for a fresh supply, as
we could not hope to find a better place for filling up with that
important necessary.  Pember, directing Tom Twigg to take charge of his
boat, invited Dicky Esse and me to accompany him meantime on a stroll to
see the island farther inland.  He directed Toby Kiddle and Pat Brady to
follow with a couple of muskets.

"Not that they will be wanted," he observed; "but if we do fall in with
any natives, it will make them treat us with respect."

"If I were you, Pember, I would not go far from the bay," observed
Oldershaw, as he shoved off.

"You are always uttering warnings, old Careful," muttered Pember; and,
leading the way, he turned his back on the sea and proceeded inland.

The country was very beautiful.  We soon came to a grove of cocoa-nuts,
when Pember proposed that we should procure a supply.  This, however,
was more easily thought of than done.  Pat Brady, who was the most
active of the party, declared that he could manage it after the native
fashion.  He and Kiddle having placed the muskets against a tree, were
considering the best way of mounting.  We went first to one tree and
then to another, to find one which seemed most easy to climb, with a
satisfactory reward at the top of it for our trouble.  Having made a
band of sufficient strength with our handkerchiefs, Pat commenced his
ascent.  He had got some way up, Kiddle having helped him as far as he
could reach, when suddenly a dozen dark-skinned savages sprang out from
among the trees, and before we could draw our pistols they had brought
us all to the ground.  Forthwith they proceeded to bind our arms behind
us.  Pat, seeing there was no use going higher, came gliding down the
tree, and was secured in the same manner.  We endeavoured to make them
understand that we had desired to do them no harm, and that if the
cocoa-nuts were theirs, we should be happy to pay for them.  Whether
they understood us or not I cannot say, but without more ado, three of
them attaching themselves to Pember, and a like number to each of the
other men--one black fellow, however, only taking charge of Dicky and
another of me--they dragged us off into the interior.  In vain Pember
struggled and expostulated.  The fierce gleam of their dark eyes, and
the keen blades of their glittering creeses which they flourished before
us, showed that it would be dangerous to dispute the point with them.
All we could do, therefore, was to move forward as they insisted, hoping
that, when our absence was discovered, a strong party might be sent in
pursuit of us, and that we might be recovered.  We had not gone far when
they were joined by another band of a similar number, and we could not
help suspecting that they had been watching us all the time, but seeing
so many armed men round the boats had not ventured to attack us.  This
made us still more regret our folly in having ventured alone into the
country.  On, on we went.  We had great reason to fear that they had no
intention of restoring us.  At length they stopped at a village of
bamboo huts, covered with cocoa-nut leaves, from which a number of women
and children came forth to gaze at us.  The children went shrieking away
when they saw our white skins, while the women advanced cautiously and
touched us, apparently to ascertain whether the red and white would come
off.

"Faith, they take us for white niggers!" said Pat Brady, observing the
look of astonishment, not unmixed with disgust, with which the women
regarded us.  "It's to be hoped they won't set us to work as we do the
blacks, though, to be sure, it would be better than eating us, and I
don't like the looks of those fellows at all, at all."

"Depend upon it, if they don't eat us they will make us work, or why
should they otherwise carry us off?" observed Kiddle.  "These Malay
fellows make slaves of all the people they can lay hands on.  If it was
not for that they would cut our throats."

These remarks made Dicky Esse and me feel very uncomfortable, till
Pember observed that perhaps they had carried us off in the hopes of
obtaining a ransom.  This idea kept up our spirits a little; but as they
continued to drag us on further and further into the country, our hope
on that score greatly decreased.  At length we reached another village,
in which was a large hut.  Under the shade of a wide-spreading verandah
in front of it an old chief was seated on cushions; a dozen half-naked
savages with drawn swords standing behind him.  He was dressed in a
dark-coloured turban, with a shawl over his shoulders, a belt, in which
were three or four formidable looking daggers with jewelled hilts, and a
curved sword by his side.  His dark countenance was unpleasantly savage
and morose, and we felt that our lives would be of little value if they
depended upon the amiability of his disposition.  Our captors arranged
us before him, and then appeared to be explaining how they had got
possession of us.  He smiled grimly at the narration.  As Pember, Dicky
Esse, and I were placed in advance, it was evident that our captors
looked upon us as of more value than the men.  This made us hope that
they were entertaining some thoughts of allowing us to be ransomed, for
in every other way the men were likely to prove more useful to them than
we should.

After our captors had said all they had to say, the old chief made a few
remarks in return.  Before he had ceased speaking, several of his guards
advanced towards us with their sharp-looking swords glittering in the
sunbeams.  It was a moment of intense anxiety.  It seemed evident they
intended to kill us.  We could, however, neither fly nor defend
ourselves.

"I say, Ben, have you said your prayers?" whispered Dicky to me.  "If
not, it is time to begin."

Pember prepared to meet his fate with dogged resolution, his dark red
countenance turning almost to an ashy hue.  Kiddle and Brady, as I cast
my eye on them, were evidently preparing to show fight.

"Knock the fellow next you down, Pat," said Toby, "and get hold of his
cutlash.  I will treat mine the same, and if we cannot get away we will
die game."

Suddenly our expected executioners stopped, and stood waving their
weapons at a short distance from our necks.  The chief continued
haranguing for some time, and when he ceased others stepped forth from
the crowd and addressed him.  Whether or not the chief had intended to
kill us, we could not ascertain, but having kept us in most disagreeable
suspense for half-an-hour or more, though it seemed several hours, the
men with the swords faced about, and marched back to their former
position.  Our guards then carried us off to a hut at a little distance,
into which we were all thrust, several men standing outside as a guard
over us.  After some time they brought us a mess of grain of some sort,
well seasoned with pepper.

"I suppose they don't intend to kill us, or they would not give us
this," observed Pat, taking a handful from the bowl, as, of course, we
were left to feed ourselves, with our fingers.  "Faith, it's not so bad,
after all."

His example was followed by Dicky and me, and after a time Pember and
Kiddle, unable any longer to restrain their appetites, also commenced
eating.  A supply of dry leaves and long grass, with several carpets,
were brought in, and we were given to understand that they were to serve
us as beds.  This sort of treatment again raised our hopes that our
captors might give us our liberty on receiving a ransom.  Our difficulty
would be to communicate with the ship.

"They cannot expect any very large sum for us," observed Pember, who,
deprived of any stimulant, was getting sadly out of spirits.  "The
Captain would not consent to pay much for me, I am afraid, and you two
youngsters are worth little enough."

"Speak for yourself," answered Esse.  "I rather think the Captain sets a
higher estimation on me than you do."

"Whether or not, for the honour of the flag they will not desert us," I
observed.

Pember on this gave a faint sickly laugh.

"Few inquiries would be made at the Admiralty as to what had become of
an old mate and two youngsters.  Expended on a watering party--killed by
savages.  Such would be our epitaph, and the matter would be settled to
the satisfaction of all parties."

No wonder, considering the circumstances, that our conversation did not
take a more lively tone.  Pat Brady, to be sure, did his best now and
then to get up a laugh, but with very poor success.

"Keep silence, man!" exclaimed Pember, at last, in a surly tone.  "You
will be singing out in a different way to-morrow morning when they get
the ovens ready."

"Faith, I suppose they would be after making me into an Irish stew, or a
dish of bubble and squeak!" exclaimed Pat, whose spirits were not to be
quelled even with the anticipation of being turned into a feast for
cannibals.  I had an idea, however, that the people into whose hands we
had fallen were not addicted to such practices, and was, therefore, not
much influenced by the remarks which Pember occasionally made as to our
probable fate.  We were allowed to pass the night in quietness, and next
morning another bowl of food was brought to us, with a basket of fruit
of various sorts, very acceptable in that hot climate.  We waited
anxiously, expecting the arrival of a party from the frigate, either to
rescue us by force, or to offer a ransom for our liberty; but no one
appeared, nor did any of the natives, except the man who brought the
food, come to the hut.  Once, during an interval of silence, Esse
declared he heard firing, but though we listened with all our might, the
sounds reached no other ears.  After a time, indeed, we all fancied we
heard the boom of great guns, but even of that we could not be quite
certain.  Night again came round, and no one had come to look for us.



CHAPTER SEVENTEEN.

Several days passed by; we were still prisoners, and all hope of being
rescued by our friends vanished.  We came to the conclusion that they
supposed we were killed, especially as Kiddle told us he had known of
several boats' crews having been cut off by the natives in those seas.
What was to be our fate we could not tell; it was not likely to be a
pleasant one, at all events.  One day the whole village appeared to be
in commotion; loud shouts were heard, and presently the door of our hull
was thrown open, and several men entered, who dragged us out into the
midst of a large crowd collected in the open space in front of it.
Among them was the old chief whom we had seen on the day of our capture;
a number of the men had hoes and other implements of agriculture.  After
a good deal of palaver, a hoe was put into Pember's hands, and signs
were made to him that he was to go to work with it.  Toby and Pat had
hoes given to them also.  Esse fancied that we should be allowed to
escape.

"They think us too little to work, I hope," he observed; but scarcely
were the words out of his mouth than we both of us had implements put
into our hands, and a pretty heavy whip being exhibited, signs were made
to us that we should join our companions.  We were forthwith marched off
to a field where several natives were already at work.  Apparently it
belonged to the old chief, for he sat on a raised spot at the further
end, under an awning, watching the proceedings with a complacent air
which especially excited Pember's wrath.  When, also, at times the old
mate relaxed in his labours, a dark-skinned fellow with a turban on his
head, who seemed to act the part of an overseer, made him quickly resume
them by an unmistakable threatening gesture.  Thus we were kept at work
till late in the evening, when we were all allowed to knock off and go
back to our hut, where a larger amount of food than usual was awarded
us.  Next day we were called up at early dawn, and the hoes again were
put into our hands.  Sometimes the overseer, and sometimes one of the
other men, came and showed us how to use them.  All day long we were
kept at work with the exception of a short time, when we were allowed to
rest and take some food which was brought to us in the fields.  We could
no longer enjoy any hopes of regaining our liberty.  It seemed as if we
were destined to be turned into slaves, and to be worked as hard as any
negroes in the West India plantations.  At first Pember was very
miserable, but abstinence from his usual liquor at length, I think, did
him good, and he grew fatter and stronger than he had been since I first
knew him.  Still he persisted that he was dying, and should never again
see the shores of England.  The rest of us did our best to keep up our
spirits, Esse and I told stories to each other, and formed plans for
escaping.  Some of them were very ingenious, and more or less hazardous;
most, in reality, utterly impracticable, because, not knowing where we
were, and having no means of getting away from the coast, even had we
made our way to the shore, we should very soon have been brought back
again.  I might spin a long yarn about our captivity, but I do not think
it would be interesting.  Our days were monotonous enough, considering
we were kept at the same work from sunrise to sunset.  What a glorious
feeling is hope!  Hope kept us alive, for in spite of every difficulty
we hoped, some time or other, to escape.  At length one day as we were
working, the old chief as usual looking on, a stranger arrived, and,
going up to where he was seated, made a salaam before him.  After a
palaver of some minutes, which I could not help thinking had reference
to us, the old chief called the overseer, and sent him down to where we
were working.  He went up to Pember, and made signs to him to go to the
chief.

"Sure that's a message for us!" exclaimed Pat Brady.  "Arrah, Ben, my
boy, you will be after seeing your dear mother again; and the thought
that she has been mourning for you has been throubling my heart more
than the hard work and the dishonour of labouring for these blackamoors.
Hurrah!  Erin-go-bragh!  I am right sure it's news that's coming to
us."

By this time the overseer had spoken to Kiddle, and finally we were all
conducted up to the chief.  What was our astonishment to see the
stranger produce a letter and hand it to Pember.  It was written by the
captain of a frigate, stating that having heard that some British seamen
were detained by a petty chief, he had gone to the Rajah of the country,
who had agreed that they should be liberated.  The letter was addressed
to any officer, or the principal person who was among them, advising
them to follow the messenger, who could be trusted.  The old chief
seemed very indignant, but the envoy was evidently determined to carry
out his instructions.

"Sure he need not grumble," observed Pat Brady, "the big thief has been
getting a good many months' work out of us, and sure that's more than he
had any right to.  Still we will part friends with him, and show him
that we bear him no ill-will."  On this, Pat, not waiting for the rest,
went up and insisted on shaking the old chief cordially by the hand; the
rest of us, with the exception of Pember, did the same.  I need scarcely
say that it was with no little amount of satisfaction that we began our
march under the guidance of the Rajah's envoy.  I doubt if any of our
friends would have known us, so changed had we become during our
captivity.  Rice and other grain diet may suit the natives of those
regions, but it certainly does not agree with an Englishman's
constitution.  We were all pale and thin, our hair long and shaggy, our
clothes worn and tattered.  We had darned them and mended them up as
best we could with bits of native cloth, but in spite of our efforts we
officers had a very unofficerlike appearance; while the two men might
have served for street beggars, representing shipwrecked sailors, but
were very unlike British men-of-war's men.  Eager as we were to get on,
we made little progress across the rough country, and not till nearly
the close of the second day did we obtain a glimpse of the bright blue
sea.  Our hearts bounded with joy when we saw it.  Still more delightful
was it to gaze down from a height which we reached on the well-squared
yards and the white deck of a British frigate which lay at anchor in the
harbour below us.  Pat threw up his hat and shouted for joy.  He was the
only one of us who retained anything like a hat; only an Irishman,
indeed, would have thought of preserving so battered a head-covering.

"Sure it serves to keep my brains from broiling," he observed, "and what
after all is the use of a hat but for that, and just to toss up in the
air when one's heart's in the mood to leap after it?"  So near did the
frigate appear that we felt inclined to hail her to send a boat on
shore, though our voices would in reality have been lost in mid-air,
long before the sound could reach her decks.  We should have hurried
down to the shore, had not our guide insisted on our proceeding first to
the Rajah's abode, where he might report our arrival in safety and claim
a reward for himself, as well as the better to enable the Rajah to put
in his own claims for a recompense.  We were still standing in the
presence of the great man, when a lieutenant and a couple of midshipmen
with about twenty armed seamen made their appearance in the courtyard.
Dicky Esse and I no sooner caught sight of them than, unable to restrain
our eagerness, we rushed forward intending to shake hands with them.

"Hillo, what are these curious little imps about?" exclaimed one of the
midshipmen, as we were running towards them.

"Imp?" exclaimed Dicky.  "You would look like an imp if you had been
made to hoe in the fields all day long with the sun right overhead for
the best part of half-a-year.  I am an officer like yourself, and will
not stand an insult, that I can tell you!"  This reply was received with
a burst of laughter from the two midshipmen; but the lieutenant,
guessing who we were, received us both in a very kind way, and Pember
with Kiddle and Pat coming up, he seemed highly pleased to find that we
were the prisoners he had been sent to liberate.  The frigate, he told
us, was the "Resolution," Captain Pemberton, who, having heard through
some of the natives that some English seamen were in captivity, had
taken steps to obtain our release.

"We told the Rajah that if any of you were injured, or if his people
refused to restore you, we would blow his town about his ears--a far
more effectual way of dealing with these gentry than mild expostulations
or gentle threats.  And now," he added, "if there are no more of you we
will return on board."  In a short time we were standing on the deck of
the frigate.  Her captain received us very kindly, and soon afterwards
we made sail.  The frigate being rather short of officers, we were
ordered to do duty till we could fall in with our own ship.  Pember
grumbled somewhat, declaring that he ought to be allowed to rest after
the hardships he had gone through.  People seldom know what is best for
them, nor did he, as will be shown in the sequel.  Both Dicky Esse and I
were placed in the same watch, as were our two followers.  The
"Resolution" had not fallen in with our frigate, and therefore we could
gain no tidings of any of our friends, and as she, it was supposed, had
sailed for Canton, we might not fall in with her for some time.  We
cruised round and about the shores of the numberless islands of those
seas, sometimes taking a prize, and occasionally attacking a fort or
injuring and destroying the property of our enemies whenever we could
meet with it.  One night, while I was on watch, I found Kiddle near me.
Though he did not hesitate to speak to me as of yore, yet he never
seemed to forget that I was now on the quarter-deck.

"Do you know, Mr Burton," he observed, "that I have found an old
acquaintance on board?  He was pilot in the `Boreas,' and he is doing
the same sort of work here.  I never quite liked the man, though he is a
fair spoken enough sort of gentleman."

"What!  Is that Mr Noalles?"  I asked.

"The same!" and Toby then gave me the account which I have before noted
of that person.

"That is strange!"  I said.  "I really fancied I had seen him before.
Directly I came on board it struck me that I knew the man, and yet of
course I cannot recollect him after so many years."  He was a dark,
large-whiskered man, with a far from pleasant expression of countenance.
The ship had been on the station some time, and rather worse for wear
and tear.  We had not been on board long, when one night as I was in my
hammock I felt it jerk in a peculiar manner, and was almost sent out of
it.  I was quickly roused by a combination of all conceivable sounds:--
the howling of the wind, the roar of the seas, which seemed to be
dashing over us.  The rattling of ropes and blocks, the creaking of
bulkheads, the voices of the men shouting to each other and asking what
had happened, were almost deafening, even to ears accustomed to such
noises.

"We are all going to be drowned!"  I heard Dicky Esse, whose hammock
slung next to mine, sing out.  "Never mind, Dicky," I answered, "we will
have a struggle for life at all events, and may be, as the savages did
not eat us, the sea will not swallow us up."

Finding everybody was turning out, I huddled on my clothes as best I
could, and with the rest found my way on deck, though I quickly wished
myself below again, as it was no easy matter to keep my footing when I
was there, and preserve myself from slipping into the sea, which was
dashing wildly over our bulwarks.  The ship was on her beam-ends.  By
the light of the vivid flashes of lightning which continued incessantly
darting here and there round us, I saw the Captain half-dressed, with
his garments under one of his arms, shouting out his orders, which the
lieutenants, much in the same state as to costume, were endeavouring to
get executed, their voices, however, being drowned in the tempest.  For
some minutes, indeed, even the best seamen could scarcely do anything
but hold on for their lives.  One thing appeared certain: either the
masts must be cut away, or the guns hove overboard.  It seemed
impossible, if this could not be done, that the ship would continue
above water.  Suddenly with a violent jerk up she rose again on an even
keel with her topmasts carried away, and the rigging beating with
fearful force about our heads.

"Clear away the wreck!" shouted the Captain.  Such was now the no easy
task to be performed.  The officers, however, with axes in their hands,
leading the way, sprang aloft, followed by the topmen.  Blocks and spars
came rattling down on deck to the no small risk of those below.  At
length the shattered spars having been cleared away, head sail was got
on the ship, and off she ran before the hurricane, the master having
ascertained that we had a clear sea before us.  When morning dawned, the
frigate, which had looked so trim at sunset, presented a sadly battered
appearance, her topmasts gone, the deck lumbered with the wreck, two of
the boats carried away, a part of the lee-bulwarks stove in.  The
carpenter too, after going below with his mates, returned on deck and
reported that the ship was making water very fast.  "We must ease her,
sir," I heard him say, "or I cannot answer for her weathering the gale."
The Captain took a turn or two along the quarter-deck, his countenance
showing the anxiety he felt.

"It must be done," I heard him say.  "Send Mr Block aft."  He was the
gunner.  "We must heave some of our upper-deck guns overboard, Mr
Block."  The gunner seemed inclined to plead for them.

"It must be done," said the Captain.  And now the crew, who would have
sprung joyfully to the guns to man them against an enemy, began with
unwilling hands to cast the tackles loose in order to launch them into
the ocean.  Watching the roll of the ship, first one gun was sent
through the port into the deep--another and another followed.

"By my faith it's like pulling out the old girl's teeth, and giving her
no chance of biting," observed Pat Brady, who was standing near me.

"We will keep a few of her grinders in though, Pat," observed Kiddle:
"we must handle them the smarter if we come alongside an enemy, to make
amends for those we have lost."

The heavy weight on her upper-deck being thus got rid of, the frigate
laboured less, and the pumps being kept going, the water no longer
continued to gain upon us.  However, it was necessary to work the chain
pumps night and day to keep the water under.  At length we arrived at
Amboyna, where we remained some time repairing damages and refitting the
frigate as far as we were able.

"I wish we were aboard our own ship again," said Kiddle to me one day,
"for I don't know how it is, but the crew of this ship declare that she
is doomed to be unlucky.  I don't know how many men they have not lost.
They have scarcely taken a prize, and they are always getting into
misfortune.  It's not the fault of the Captain, for he is as good a
seaman as ever stepped, and the officers are all very well in their way,
and so there's no doubt it's the ship's fault.  Some of the people, to
be sure, don't like Mr Noalles, the pilot.  They don't know who he is
or where he came from, though that to my mind has nothing to do with it,
for it's not likely he would be aboard here if he was not known to be a
right sort of person."

At length we once more sailed for a place called Booroo, where we got a
supply of wood and water, as well as refreshments and stock, and then
sailed for the Straits of Banca.  As we were standing along the coast,
when daylight broke one morning, we saw towards the land a number of
vessels, which were pronounced to be pirate prows.  In their midst was a
large brig, which they had apparently captured.  We were standing
towards them when the land-breeze died away, and we lay becalmed, unable
to get nearer.  On this the boats were ordered out, and two of the
lieutenants, the master, and a couple of mates took the command.  Dicky
Esse and I accompanied the Second-Lieutenant.  Our orders were to board
the prows, and if they offered any resistance, to destroy them.  The
water was smooth and beautifully blue, while the rising sun tipped the
topmost heights of the lofty hills, which rose, as it were, out of the
ocean, feathered almost from their summits to the water's edge with
graceful trees.  There lay the brig, while the prows were clustered like
so many beasts of prey around their quarry.  The pirates seemed in no
way alarmed at our approach.  Our leader, however, had made up his mind,
in spite of their numbers to board the brig, and then, should the prows
interfere, to attack them.  As soon as this resolution was come to, we
dashed forward to get on board her without delay.  The pirates seemed
scarcely aware of our intention, and before any of the prows had lifted
an anchor we were on board.  Some forty or fifty dark-skinned,
villainous-looking fellows had possession of the brig, but they were
probably unable to use the big guns, and though they made some little
resistance, we soon drove them forward, a considerable number being cut
down, the rest jumping overboard, and attempting to swim towards the
prows, which, instantly getting out their sweeps, began to approach us.



CHAPTER EIGHTEEN.

The brig was ours, but we were not to be allowed to carry her off
without a struggle.  There were certainly not less than twenty prows,
each of them carrying from fifty to a hundred men; and though the
frigate's guns would have dispersed them like chaff before the wind, she
was too far off to render us any assistance.  We had therefore to depend
upon the guns of the brig for our defence.  They had all been discharged
probably by her former crew, who had struggled desperately in her
defence.  Several of them lay about the deck, cut down when the pirates
boarded.  They appeared to be Dutchmen, with two or three natives.  One
of the mates and I, with a couple of men, were ordered down immediately
we got on board to bring up shot and powder from the magazine.  On our
way I looked into the cabin.  There, a sight met my eyes which made me
shudder.  Close to the entrance lay on his back a tall, fine looking old
gentleman with silvery locks, while further in, two young women, their
skin somewhat dark, but very handsome, they seemed to me, and well
dressed, lay clasped in each other's arms, perfectly dead.  It seemed as
if the same bullet had killed them both.  We had no time, however, to
make further observations, but hurrying down we found that the magazine
was open.  We immediately sent up a supply of powder, as well as
round-shot, which were stowed not far off.  We were hurrying on deck
again, when I thought I saw something glittering under the ladder.  It
was a man's eye.  Repressing the impulse to cry out, I told Esse what I
had seen.  At the same moment we sprang down and seized the man, Esse
receiving a severe cut as we did so.  At the same instant a pistol
bullet whistled by my ear.  It was shot at the magazine, but happily it
was at too great a distance to allow the flash to ignite the powder.
Fortunately my right hand was free, and drawing my dirk, I pinned our
antagonist through the throat to the deck.  He still struggled, but
another blow from my companion silenced him for ever.  I felt a
sensation come over me I had never before experienced, but it was not a
time to give way to my feelings.  Had I not discovered the man, we
should probably in a few minutes have all been blown into the air.  The
prows were coming rapidly on.

"If we had a breeze we should do well," observed our commanding officer,
"but if not we shall have tough work to keep these fellows off."  Our
guns were loaded and run out.  "We must not throw a shot away," observed
the Lieutenant.  He kept looking out in hopes of a breeze.  The topsails
had been loosened, and all was ready for making sail.  "Cut the cable,"
he shouted at length.

"Sheet home the topsails!  Man the starboard braces!  Up with the helm!"
Our sails filled and the vessel's head slowly turned away from the
shore, just as the nearest prow was a dozen fathoms from us.  A couple
of shot threw her crew into confusion, and before they could grapple us
we glided by them, every instant gathering way.  "Give the next the
stem," shouted the Lieutenant.  We did so, but we had scarcely way
enough to do the vessel much injury.  The other prows were now gathering
thickly round us, and it was time for us to open on them with our guns.
The enemy had no great guns, but the instant we began firing, they
returned the compliment with matchlocks and javelins, which came flying
thickly on board.  As we had to fight both sides at once, we had but
little time to use our own small-arms.  However, while the men were
working the guns, Esse and I and another midshipman loaded the muskets
with which the men fired while the guns were being sponged and loaded,
we youngsters doing our part by firing the muskets which were not used.
So rapidly did we work our guns, that many of the prows at a distance
hesitated to approach us, while those which got near were quickly half
knocked to pieces.  "Hurrah!  There goes one of them down!" sung out
Kiddle, who was hauling in his gun.  "And there's another!  And
another!" shouted others of the crew.  The breeze was increasing.  Again
the prows came on on both sides, but our guns were all loaded, and we
gave them such a dose, few of our guns missing, that once more they
dropped astern in confusion.  The wind had now reached the frigate,
which under all sail was standing towards us.  When the pirates saw this
they well knew that their chance of victory was gone, and the crews of
the headmost ones, again firing their matchlocks and darting a few more
spears at us, pulled round, and made off with all speed towards the
shore.  Luffing up, we brought our broadside to bear upon them, and gave
them a few parting shots, our crew giving a hearty cheer in token of
victory.  We were soon up to the frigate, when Captain Pemberton ordered
us by signal to run back, and keep as close in shore as we could, in
order to watch the proceedings of the pirates.  However, before long it
again fell a calm, and both the frigate and brig had to come to an
anchor.  Soon after, the Captain and several officers came on board the
brig to examine her, and to ascertain more particularly what she was,
and who were the murdered persons on board.  Among others was Mr
Noalles the pilot.  No sooner did he enter the cabin than he started
back with a cry of horror.

"What is the matter?  Who are those?" asked the Captain, seeing the
glance he cast at the dead man and the two ladies.

"Little did I expect to see them thus," he answered.  "They were my
friends, from whom I have often when at Batavia received great
attention.  That old man was one of the principal merchants in the
place, and those poor girls were his daughters," and again I observed
the look of grief and horror with which Mr Noalles regarded them.
There had apparently been two or three other passengers on board, but
what had become of them, or the remainder of the crew, we could find
nothing on board to tell us.  The sight of those poor girls, cruelly
murdered in their youth and beauty, was enough certainly to make the
hardest heart on board bleed, and yet how much worse might have been
their fate.  A prize crew was put on board the brig, but of course the
cabin was held sacred till the murdered people were committed to their
ocean grave.  At first it was proposed to bury them on shore, but a
strong force would have been required had we landed, and as their
remains might afterwards have been disturbed, it was determined to
commit them to the deep.  For this purpose the next morning the Captain
came on board the brig with most of the officers, the sailmaker having
in the meantime closely fastened up each form in several folds of stout
canvas, with a heavy shot at the feet.  As Mr Noalles informed the
Captain the deceased were Protestants, he used the burial service from
the Church of England prayer book.  The words, indeed, sounded
peculiarly solemn to our ears.  All present probably had heard it over
and over again when a shipmate had died from wounds in battle or
sickness brought on in the service, but their deaths were all in the
ordinary way.  These people had been cut off in a very different manner.
I remember particularly those words, "In the midst of life we are in
death."  They made an impression on me at the time, and more so from
what afterwards occurred.  As they were uttered the old man's corpse was
allowed to glide off slowly into the calm ocean, into the depths of
which it shot down rapidly.  The bodies of the poor girls were launched
one by one in the same manner, and I could not help jumping into the
rigging to watch them, as the two shrouded figures went down and down in
the clear water, till gradually they were lost to view.  Most of us then
returned on board the frigate.  Such stores as the brig required were
sent to her, as well as a prize crew, and she was then despatched to
Amboyna to bring the frigate certain stores which it appeared she
required.  As our ship was supposed to be cruising in another direction,
we remained on board, in the hopes of falling in with her.  A light
breeze towards evening enabled the brig to get under weigh three or four
days after the circumstances I have just related.  Esse, who drew very
well, made a sketch of her as she stood along the land, the rays of the
setting sun shedding a pink glow on her canvas, while the whole ocean
was lighted up with the same rosy hue.  One side of the picture was
bounded by the horizon, the other by the yellow shores and the lofty
broken tree-covered heights of the island.  We remained at anchor,
intending to sail in the morning, should there be sufficient wind to
enable us to move.  As the sun was sinking into the ocean, the sky and
water for a few seconds were lighted up with a glow of brightest orange,
which faded away as the shades of night came stealing across the water
from the east.  In a short time the stars overhead burst forth, and
shone down upon us, their light reflected in the mirror-like expanse on
which we floated.  The heat was very great.  Esse and Pember had the
middle watch under the Third-Lieutenant of the ship (the second had gone
away in the prize).  The heat making me unwilling to turn into my
hammock, I continued to walk the deck with Esse.  Sometimes we stopped
and leaned against a gun-carriage, talking, as midshipmen are apt to
talk, of home, or future prospects, or of late occurrences.

"That foreign-looking pilot aboard here is a strange fellow," observed
Esse to me.  "The people think him not quite right in his mind.  They
say he talks in his sleep, and did you observe his look when he caught
sight of the murdered people aboard the brig?"  I did not, however,
agree with Dicky's notions.

"The man had been employed on board ships of war for many years, I am
told," I answered.  "And if he was not a respectable character it is not
likely that they would take him."

"As to that I have my doubts," answered Esse.  "All they look to is to
get a good pilot who knows the ugly navigation of these seas, and that,
I suppose, at all events, he does.  But see, who is that on the other
side of the deck?"  As he spoke he pointed to a person who was standing,
apparently looking out at some object far away across the sea.

"Yes, that is he," I whispered.  "I hope he did not hear us."

"If he did it does not signify," said Esse.  While we were looking at
him, the man walked directly aft, and remained gazing, as he had done
before, into the distance over the taffrail.  The watch at length came
to an end.  "I shall caulk it out on deck," said I.  Esse agreed to do
the same.  Indeed several of the crew were sleeping on deck--Kiddle and
Brady among them.  There also was Pember.  Indeed it seemed surprising
that anybody could manage to exist in the oven-like heat which prevailed
in the lower part of the ship.  "Sound slumber to you, Burton," said
Esse, and he and I before a minute passed were fast asleep.  How long we
had slept I do not know, but I was awoke with the most terrific roar I
had ever heard.  I felt myself lifted right up into the air, and then,
as it were, shoved off with tremendous violence from the deck on which I
was lying, and plunged into the water.  Down!  Down!  I sank.  My ears
seemed cracking with the continued roar.  My breath was going.  The
horror of deep waters was upon me.  Then suddenly I appeared to be
bounding up again.  I thought it was all a dream; I expected to find
myself in my hammock, or in my bed at Whithyford, and certainly not
struggling amidst the foaming waters in the Indian Seas.



CHAPTER NINETEEN.

When I came to the surface, I found myself amidst a mass of wreck, and
several human beings struggling desperately for dear life.  Some were
crying out for help, others clutching at fragments of timber which
floated near, and others striking out and keeping themselves afloat by
their own exertions.  I had become a pretty good swimmer, and seeing a
part of the wreck above water not far from me, I made towards it.  On my
way I saw a person clinging to a spar a couple of fathoms off.  "Who is
that?" said a voice.  It was that of Dicky Esse.  "Burton," I answered.
"Oh!  Do help me!" he cried out.  "I cannot swim, and I cannot hold on
much longer, and if I do not reach the wreck I shall drop off and be
drowned!"

"Hold on," I shouted, "and perhaps I may be able to tow the spar up to
the wreck.  I will try at all events; but do not let go, Dicky!  Do not
on any account!"

I swam to the spar, and, partly resting on it, shoved it before me
towards the wreck, but still I made but slow progress.  I was afraid
that I should be obliged, after all, to give it up, as I felt my
strength going, when a man swimming powerfully reached us.  "Help!
Help!  Do help me!"  I cried out.  He said nothing, but just touching
the spar with one hand, so as not to sink it deeper in the water, he
shoved it on till we reached the wreck.  The hammock nettings were just
above water, and afforded us a better resting-place than we could have
expected.  "Thank you!  Thank you!"  I said, as the man hauled Dicky and
me into this place of refuge.  "What shall we next do?"

"Wait till morning, and if we are then alive, we must get on shore as
best we can," he answered.  I knew by the voice and accent of the
speaker that he was Mr Noalles.  The bright stars shining down from the
sky gave us sufficient light to distinguish objects at a considerable
distance.  As we looked out we saw several other persons still alive,
some swimming, others holding on to bits of timber.  We shouted out to
them, lest they should not be aware that they could obtain a place to
rest on, at all events, until morning.  A voice not far off answered us.
"Who is that?"  I cried out, for I thought I recognised it.  "Toby
Kiddle, sir," was the answer.  He was swimming up towards us.  "I have
just passed Mr Pember clinging to a piece of the wreck.  I will go back
and try to bring him here."

"I will go with you," I said.

"No, no, youngster, stay where you are," observed Mr Noalles; "you will
be drowned if you make the attempt; I will go!"  The next instant he was
striking out in the direction in which Toby was now swimming.

Esse and I watched them anxiously as they disappeared in the gloom.  I
was very thankful to think that Toby Kiddle was alive, but I could not
help wishing that Pat Brady had escaped also, as I knew that he had been
on deck and close to Kiddle.  While we were looking out for the return
of our shipmates, another man, one of the seamen, reached the wreck.  He
said he was greatly scorched, and it seemed surprising that he should
have been able to swim so far.  There were yet a number of people
floating about alive, and when we shouted several voices answered us.
Among them I thought I recognised Pat's.  "Brady, is that you?"  I cried
out.  "By the powers it's myself, I belave," answered Pat, "but where I
have been to, or what I have been about, or where this is happening
bothers me particularly.  And how I am ever to get to you is more than I
can tell."

"I must go to help him," said I to Esse, "for he will be drifted away,
even if he manages to cling to whatever he has got hold of."

"But surely he is drifting towards us," observed Esse.  "He has got
nearer since he began to speak."  Such indeed was the case, and even
before Kiddle and Mr Noalles returned with Pember, not only Pat, but
two or three other men had been drifted up to us.  Pat had helped
himself along by striking out with his feet, though he was but a poor
swimmer; indeed, I have scarcely ever met an Irish seaman who could
swim.  We could make out other people still floating at some distance.
Now and then a cry was heard.  We shouted in return, but there was no
reply.  It was the last despairing utterance of one of our shipmates,
before he sank below the surface.  Those on the wreck were already so
exhausted that no one could go to their assistance.  There were rather
more than a dozen altogether, I believe, clinging to the wreck.  Several
of them, from the exclamations they uttered, I found were suffering from
scorching, or the blows they had received from falling pieces of the
wreck.

Morning at length dawned upon us poor human beings--the sole survivors
of the ship's company, who but a few hours before were I enjoying life
and strength.  Just then the words which I had heard at the funeral came
across my mind--"In the midst of life we are in death."  How true it had
proved to them.  It might prove true to us also, for our prospects of
escape were small indeed.  Pieces of the wreck were floating about
around us, and I thought I made out two or three people still holding on
to the fragments, but I could not be certain.  In the far distance were
the shores of the island.  It seemed so far off, that we could scarcely
hope to reach it; yet reach it we must, if our lives were to be saved.
The sea was smooth, and the warmth of the water prevented our being
benumbed from being so long in it.  Still, as the sun rose, all hands
began to complain of thirst.  Something must be done, however.  I asked
Pember what he would advise, as he, being the highest in rank among us,
would have to take the command; but his drinking habits had unnerved
him, and he answered, incoherently, "We must swim, I suppose, if we
cannot get the wreck under way."  Esse and I then turned to Mr Noalles.
He had occasionally uttered a deep groan, as if in pain.  I found that
he was severely hurt, partly from the fire, and also from the blows he
had received.  At first, apparently, he had not been aware how seriously
he had been injured.  "We must build a raft, lads," he answered at
length.  "See!  Here is the main-yard alongside of us, with the
main-sail and plenty of rope hanging on to it.  We shall have no lack of
materials, but there are not many of us, I am afraid, fit for the work."
He spoke too truly.  Esse and I had escaped the best.  Kiddle, also,
was only slightly injured, and two of the ship's company had escaped,
while all the rest were more or less hurt, two or three of them very
badly.  It seemed a wonder they could have got on to the wreck, while
Pember, either from external injury or the shock his nerves had
received, was likely to be of little use.

While we were looking out for the spars and pieces of timber to form our
raft, a round object appeared at a little distance.  "It's a pumpkin!"
cried one of the men.  I darted into the water and struck out for it.
Thankful, indeed, was I to get such a prize.  I soon brought it back.
It was meat and drink to us, and though, divided into so many, there was
little for each, yet it might assist in saving our lives.  A double
share was awarded me, but I declined taking more than the rest.  It
revived us greatly, and with our strength somewhat restored, we began
the building of our raft.  Those who could swim every now and then
struck off to get hold of pieces of wood to serve our purpose.  Among
other things the jolly-boat's mast was found, and it was agreed that it
would serve us well for a mast for the raft.  It was hard work getting
up the canvas which hung down in the water, but at length with our
knives we cut off a sufficient quantity for a sail.  The rope served as
for lashing the spars which we had collected together.  At length we
managed to get a frame-work formed.  Across this we lashed other spars
and planks, but it was a very slow business, for some of the men could
only use one hand.  Others had their legs so injured that they could not
move from where they sat; while so greatly diminished was the strength
of everyone of us, that we were unable to secure the lashings as
thoroughly as was necessary.

"It is to be hoped no sea will be after getting up, or all our fine work
will be tumbling to pieces entirely," observed Pat, as he surveyed what
we had done.

"This will never do as it is," observed Mr Noalles.  "We must build a
platform on the top of it, to keep us out of the water."

There was no lack of materials to do as he proposed, and we, therefore,
immediately set about building the platform.  Its weight brought the
lower part of the raft deeper into the water, but that could not be
helped.  Some hours passed by while we were thus engaged, and again
thirst attacked us.  We had only eaten half the pumpkin.  Some of the
men entreated that they might have the remainder.  "Give it them--give
it them," sang out Pember, "and give me a piece.  It is the last morsel
we shall probably put into our mouths."  The fruit was cut up into
twelve small slices, and distributed evenly.  Even now I recollect the
delight with which my teeth crunched the cool fruit.  Every particle,
rind and all, was consumed, as may be supposed.  We now stepped our
mast, and got a sail ready for hoisting.  As the raft was small for
supporting so many people, great care was necessary in balancing
ourselves on it.  Mr Noalles, who was evidently suffering greatly, and
three of the men who were most injured, were placed on the platform in
the centre.  The rest of us ranged ourselves round them, Kiddle steering
with a spar, which we had rigged as a rudder.  There was very little
wind; what there was, was blowing in the direction of the low land of
Sumatra, which we calculated to be about four leagues off.  Mr Noalles
told us that some fifteen or twenty leagues to the north of it was a
Dutch settlement.  If we could reach it, we might there obtain
assistance.  By this time Pember had roused up a little, and was able to
assume the command of our frail craft, for when he had his proper wits
about him he was a very good seaman.  Noalles, meantime, was getting
worse and worse.  It was nearly two hours after noon before our task was
accomplished.  We had picked up everything we could find floating about
the wreck, but not a particle of food appeared, nor did a cask of water
pass near us.  What would we not have given for that.  All this time the
sun, in burning splendour, had been beating down upon our unprotected
heads, for most of us had lost our hats.  I secured a handkerchief round
my head, and Esse did the same.

"Are you all ready, lads?" asked Pember.  "Ay!  Ay!  Sir," was the
answer.  "Then shove off, and I pray we may reach yonder coast before
dark."  We glided slowly on.  For some time we appeared to be
approaching the land.  Then, from the way we moved, we discovered that a
current was running, and was carrying us to the southward, rather away
from than nearer the point we hoped to reach.  Mr Noalles, who was just
able to sit up, saw what was happening.

"I thought so," he muttered.  "With so great a wretch as I am on board,
there is little chance of the raft reaching the shore.  If the people
were wise they would heave me overboard; but, oh!  I am not fit to die.
I dare not face death and that which is to come after it!"

These words were said in so low a tone that I alone, who was sitting
close to him, could understand him.

"Die!  Did I say?  And yet how often have I faced death, without a
moment's thought of the future, or a grain of fear!"

"What makes you then think so much about it now, sir?"  I asked.  "I
hope we shall get on shore, and that you will recover."  I was anxious
to calm the feelings of the poor man, though I was scarcely surprised to
hear him speak as he did.

"Is that you, Burton?" he said, hearing my voice.  "They tell me that we
have been shipmates before, and that I was on board the ship when you
were born; but I don't remember the circumstance."

"I have been told so," I said, "and the man steering, Toby Kiddle,
remembers you."

"Ah!  Yes, I think I have an idea of your mother--a pretty woman.  Where
is she now?"  And I told him that she was living with Mrs and the
Misses Schank, and I added, "There is another sister--a Mrs Lindars,
whose husband deserted her."

"Mrs Lindars?" he said slowly, "and is she still alive?"

"Yes," I answered, rather astonished at the question.

"I have been saved another crime!" he muttered between his teeth.  He
was silent for some minutes.  Then he abruptly addressed me.  "Burton, I
believe I am dying.  I should like to make a clear bosom before I go out
of the world.  A viler wretch than I am has never been borne shrieking
through the air by demons to the place of torment.  You speak of Mrs
Lindars.  She is my wife, for that is my real name.  I have borne many
since then.  I was young then, and so was she--very young and very
beautiful, I thought.  I wished to run away with her, but she would not
consent, and we married.  At first I thought I could settle down in the
country, and support myself by my literary and musical talents.  I soon
found that this would not bring me a sufficient income to supply my
wants, for I had somewhat luxurious tastes.  My wife gave birth to a
child--a daughter.  She was a sweet little creature.  I loved her in a
way I never loved anything before.  Each year she increased in beauty.
At length I had an opportunity of obtaining a large sum by committing a
crime.  A fearful crime it was, and yet I did not hesitate.  It was
necessary to fly the country.  I could not bear the thoughts of leaving
my child behind me.  It was a cruel act to desert my wife, and still
more cruel to carry away the child, for I knew that her mother loved her
as much as I did.  My wife was ill, and I pretended to take the child to
see a relation, from whom I told her I had expectations.  I knew she
could not follow me.  Changing my name, I crossed to France where I had
relations.  I never cared for gambling, or I should probably quickly
have got through my ill-acquired wealth.  I had followed the sea during
the early part of my life, and soon again I got tired of remaining on
shore.  I was eager to start on a new expedition, but what to do with my
daughter in the meanwhile I could not decide.  I ought in common
humanity to have sent her back to her poor mother; but had I done so, I
was afraid I should not be able again to see her.  She was so young when
I took her away that she did not know her real name.  I therefore
carried her to Jersey, to which island my family belonged, and there
left her, pretending that her mother was French, and had died soon after
her birth.  The arrangement having been made, I came out to the Indian
Seas and China, and, engaging in the opium trade, made a considerable
sum of money.  I lost, however, the larger portion, and then once more,
seized with a desire to see my child, I returned to Jersey.  I found her
grown into a beautiful girl.  A new undertaking had presented itself to
me.  I would go out to India, and make my fortune by serving under one
of the native princes.  I had several times visited that country during
my wanderings.  My daughter, I knew, would materially aid me in my
undertaking.  As I placed before her the advantages to be gained in the
most glowing colours, and hid what I knew would be objectionable, she
willingly consented to accompany me.  Her beauty, I felt sure, would
enable me to secure a wealthy marriage for her, but, as that might not
assist my views, I secretly resolved to throw her in the way of some
native prince, and she, once becoming his favourite wife, I felt very
sure that I should rise to the highest offices in his court.  The
degradation to which I was dooming my child did not deter me; indeed, I
persuaded myself that I was about to procure a splendid position for
her, which she might well be satisfied to gain."



CHAPTER TWENTY.

Mr Noalles, as I will still call him, spoke with difficulty, but some
secret impulse, it seemed, made him anxious to disburden his mind.  "I
make these confessions to you, Burton," he said, "because I want you to
convey to my poor wife, should you ever return to England, the
expression of my sorrow for the way I treated her; and if you can by any
means discover my daughter, that you may tell her, her miserable father
died blessing her; though, alas!  I feel that blessings proceeding from
such lips as mine may turn to curses.  But I did not tell you that
mercifully she escaped the dreadful fate to which I devoted her.  Among
the passengers on board the ship in which we went out to India was a
young writer.  He was pleasing in his manners, but far more retiring and
silent than his companions, and I did not for a moment suppose that he
was likely to win the affections of my daughter.  He had already been in
India some years, and was returning after a short absence.  He therefore
knew the country, and immediately on landing proceeded to his station.
I flattered myself that I had got rid of him, for latterly I had
observed that my daughter was more pleased with his society than with
that of anybody else on board.  We remained some time at Calcutta,
where, as I expected, my daughter was greatly admired.  I, meantime, was
perfecting myself in Hindostanee, and gaining information to guide my
further proceedings.  At length we got off up the country, but on the
way I was taken seriously ill.  It happened to be at the very station
where Mr Bramston was residing.  He heard of my being there and
instantly called, and very naturally pressed his suit with my daughter.
Believing that I was dying, I consented to his becoming her lawful
protector, for otherwise I dreaded lest she should be left in the
country alone and destitute.  Scarcely, however, had the marriage taken
place than I recovered, and all the plans I had designed were brought to
nothing.  I found that my character was suspected, and hastening back to
Calcutta, I took a passage on board a ship bound for Canton, again
changing my name to that by which you know me.  From that time forward I
have knocked about in these seas in various capacities, just able to
support myself, but ever failing to gain the wealth for which I had been
ready at one time to sell my soul.  Of the child I had loved so dearly I
had never heard.  If she wrote to me, her letters must have miscarried,
and from that day to this I have received no tidings of her.  Often and
often I have thought of returning to India, but the dread of being
recognised has deterred me, and I felt that my appearance would more
likely produce shame and annoyance than afford her any satisfaction or
pleasure.  Thus all my plans and schemings have come to an end, and such
fruits as they have produced have been bitter indeed; I cannot talk
more, Burton.  Promise me that you will try to find out my daughter and
her husband.  Bramston, remember, Charles Bramston of the Civil
Service--the Bengal Presidency, and his wife bore the name of Emily
Herbert.  Herbert was the name I then assumed.  She often asked me
questions about her childhood, but I invariably led her off the subject,
so that of that she knew nothing.  Tell her that you saw her father die,
and that his last thoughts were of her."

I entreated the unfortunate man to keep up his spirits.  I pointed out
that we were approaching the shore, and that before many hours had
passed we should probably land on it; when, although the Dutch were our
enemies, our forlorn condition would assuredly excite their compassion,
and induce them to afford us all the relief we could require.  "Do not
trust too much to them," he answered slowly.  "Besides, the natives on
this coast are savage fellows, who would scruple very little to put us
all to death, and as to getting on shore at all, you will not be there
for many hours, depend on that!"

He ceased; appearing very much exhausted from having spoken so long.
His sufferings, indeed, also, had become very intense, for the salt
water and the heat of the sun had greatly inflamed his legs, which had
been severely burnt.  His voice, in a short time, almost failed, but his
lips continued to move, and I heard him murmuring, "Water!  Water!  Oh!
Give me but one drop to cool my tongue!  Where am I?  Is this hell begun
already?  Water!  Water!  Will no one have compassion on a burning
wretch?"

Still, so strong was his constitution, that in spite of his sufferings
he lingered on.  Another poor man, apparently not more hurt than he was,
in a short time sank under the injuries he had received.  The man had
been sitting up trying to catch a breath of air, when suddenly he
uttered a low groan, and fell back on the platform.

"The poor fellow is dead, I am afraid," said Esse, taking up his hand,
which fell helpless to the position from which it had been raised.  "Can
we do anything to restore him?"

"There is no use," said Pember, putting his hand on the man's mouth, "he
will never speak again.  The sooner we heave him overboard the better."

He was the first of our number we had to launch into the deep.  The body
floated astern for some time, and we could scarcely help casting uneasy
glances at it.  "Oh!  Look!  Look!  He was alive after all!" exclaimed
Esse.  We turned round.  The body seemed to rise half out of the water,
the arms waving wildly.  Then down it sank and disappeared from view.
We also expected to hear a shriek proceed from it.  "Oh, Pember!"  I
exclaimed, "why did you let us throw him overboard?  What a dreadful
thing!"

"Save your sympathy for those who want it, youngster," answered the old
mate.  "He was as dead as a door nail.  Don't fear that.  Jack Shark had
got hold of his heels, and that made the body rise suddenly out of the
water, as you saw him.  Well!  It will be the lot of more of us before
long.  I do not like the look of the weather.  I wonder what Mr Noalles
thinks of it."  Noalles, however, was unable to speak.  The wind was
increasing, and the sea had already got up considerably, making the raft
work in a very unsatisfactory manner.  We had the greatest difficulty in
holding on, while the smaller pieces of timber, which had been less
securely lashed to the frame-work, began to part.  Still we ran towards
the island, our sail helping us considerably.  As the sea increased,
steering became more difficult, while the lower part of the raft was so
completely immersed in the water, that we had the greatest difficulty in
preventing ourselves being washed off, when the foaming seas came
rolling over it.  We held on as best we could, by the beckets, which had
been secured to the raft for this purpose.  We had all now reason to
dread that we should lose our own lives; for though the raft appeared to
be still approaching the shore, yet so furiously was it tumbled about by
the fast rising seas, that we could with difficulty cling on to it,
while we could scarcely hope that it would hold together.  Noalles, as I
have said, had been with Pember and two other men on the platform.  A
foam-covered sea came roaring towards us.  We all held on to the main
part of the raft.  The sea struck it, and before we could make any
effort to secure it, away it was carried, to a considerable distance
from us, with our three shipmates still resting on it.  It seemed
surprising that they should not have been washed off.  The same sea
carried off one of our number, thus leaving six of us only clinging to
the main part of the raft.  At the same moment our mast and sail were
carried away, and we were left at the mercy of the seas.  In vain we
endeavoured with the paddles, which we had saved, to get up to the other
raft.  It appeared to be receding further and further from us, when
another sea, similar in size to that which had torn it from the main
part, struck it with full force, and hid it from our view.  We looked
again.  The few fragments of the wreck could alone be seen; but our late
companions had sunk beneath the surface of the troubled waters, which
now leaped, and foamed, and raged above their heads.  We had little time
to mourn their fate, for we were compelled to look after our own safety.
Night was coming on.  A dreary prospect was before us.  Still Pat Brady
kept up his spirits wonderfully.  "Sure, Mr Burton, old Mother Macrone
of Ballynahinch was after prophesying you would become an admiral one of
these days, and sure if we was drownded, we should not live to see it,
nor you neither for that matter; and so sure as Mistress Macrone is an
honest woman, and spoke the truth, we need not be after throubling
ourselves about not getting to land.  It will be some time before we can
manage to reach it, however."  I cannot say that Paddy's remarks had
much effect on us, although I fully believe he spoke what he thought to
be the truth.  We were still a long way from the land, when darkness
settled down upon us, and the shattered raft continued tossing up and
down on the foaming seas.  Every instant we thought would be our last,
for we knew that the spars to which we were clinging might be torn from
the frame-work, and we might be deprived of our last remaining support.
Still, life was sweet to all of us.  We who had escaped were the least
injured of the party.  Twelve had left the wreck, six now alone remained
alive, two only of the crew of the ill-fated frigate--Smith, an
Englishman, and Sandy McPherson, from the North of the Tweed.  They were
both brave, determined fellows, but Sandy's spirit was troubled, not so
much, apparently, by the fearful position in which we were placed, as by
what he called Pat Brady's recklessness and frivolity.  Even when thus
clinging to our frail raft, now tossed high up on a foaming sea, now
sent gliding down into the bottom of the trough with darkness around us,
almost starved, and our throats parched by thirst, Brady's love of a
joke would still break forth.  "Arrah, but it's illegant dancing we're
learning out here!" he exclaimed, "though, faith, I would rather it were
on the green turf than footing it on the top of the green waves, but we
will be safe on shore before many hours are over."

"Ay, laddie, but it's ill dancing o'er the graves of your friends,"
observed Sandy.  "Just think where they are, and where we may be not ten
minutes hence.  You will not keep the breath in your body half that time
under the salt water, and we may, one and all of us, be fathoms deep
before five minutes have passed away."

Sandy spoke what we all knew to be the truth, but still we would rather
have shut our eyes to the unpleasant fact.  It is extraordinary that men
should be able to disregard the future, even when on the very brink of
the grave.  Is it apathy, or stolid indifference, or disbelief in a
future existence that enables them to do so?  I speak of those without
the Christian's hope--men who lead profligate lives; men stained with a
thousand crimes; men who have never feared God, who seemed scarcely to
have a knowledge of God.  I have thought the matter over, and have come
to the conclusion that some men have the power of shutting out thought.
They dare not let thought intrude for a moment.  They struggle
desperately against thought.  Sometimes thought conquers, and then
fearful is their condition.  Then the terrors of hell rise up, and they
would give ten thousand worlds to escape the doom they know well they
have merited.  Even now I do not like to think of that night.  Slowly
the hours dragged on.  We fancied as we rose to the top of the sea, that
the wind was blowing with even greater force than before, and our frail
raft was dashed here and there, with even greater violence than it had
yet endured.  We felt it breaking up.  With a desperate grip we held on
to the larger portions of the timber which composed it.  At length it
parted, and Kiddle and I were left clinging to one part, while our four
companions held on to the other.  We could scarcely hope finally to
escape.  The two portions, however, continued floating within hailing
distance of each other.  We shouted to our friends to hold on.  Pat
Brady answered with a cheerful "Ay!  Ay!"  It cheered our spirits
somewhat, though not very greatly, it must be owned.  From that moment
the sea appeared to be going down, and gradually daylight, which we
thought had been much further off, stole over the world of waters.
Fortunately there were some thin boards still secured to the portion of
the raft which supported Kiddle and me.  We agreed to tear them up, and
with them to paddle towards our friends.

After a considerable amount of labour we reached them, and immediately
set to work, as the sea had again become almost smooth, to repair our
raft.  So thirsty had we become by this time, that it was with
difficulty we could avoid drinking the salt water.  We counselled each
other, however, not to do so, well knowing the ill effects which would
be produced.  We felt now the loss of our sail, for the wind was setting
directly on shore.  Still, slight as was the breeze, it assisted us
along, when we stood up, which we did by turns, while the rest laboured
with the paddles we had constructed.  We gazed anxiously at the land,
but the current still appeared to be sweeping towards the south.
Suddenly it changed, and we advanced with far more rapidity than we had
hitherto done.  We could now distinguish objects on the shore.  We
looked out eagerly.  No houses or huts were to be seen, nor any vessels
at anchor.  A heavy surf, however, was setting on the beach, and Kiddle
urged us on no account to attempt to land there.  This was tantalising,
but the danger of having our raft upset and being carried out to sea was
too great to be encountered.  With might and main, therefore, we
continued to paddle along the shore, hoping to find some place into
which we might stand with less danger.  We had to continue for some
distance, till at length we got round a point by which the land on the
other side was completely sheltered.  We could scarcely hope to find a
better place.  And now, exerting ourselves to the utmost, we made
towards the beach.  With thankfulness did we hear the timbers grate
against the sand.  Esse and Brady, who were nearest the shore, attempted
to spring on to the beach, but so weak were they, as we all were, that
in doing so they fell flat on their faces.  Had we not kept the raft off
with our paddles, the next sea which came up would have thrown it over
them.  By great exertions they worked themselves up, however, out of the
reach of the water, and the rest of us crawled on shore with more
caution.  We looked round.  No one was to be seen.  Our first impulse
was to throw ourselves down on the sand and rest, but scarcely had we
done so when the sensation of thirst came over us, and weak as we were
we set out at once to search for water.  The trees came down very nearly
to the shore, here and there rocks appearing among them.  We soon
separated, each one going in the direction in which he hoped he should
find the longed-for fluid.  I went forward almost as in a dream.  My eye
at length caught sight of a rock at a little distance.  I had a feeling
that water would be found not far off.  A sound struck my ear--a low,
soft, trickling.  Yes!  It was water, I was sure of it--I almost fell in
my eagerness to hurry on.  I cannot easily forget the delight with which
my eye rested on a natural fountain--a rocky basin, into which a bright
stream flowed from a crevice in the rock.  I rushed on shouting out
"Water!  Water!"  Eagerly I put my mouth to the pure fountain-head.  Oh!
How deliciously sweet I found it!  I let it run over my face, parched
and cracked by the hot sun and salt water.  Brady, who was nearest to
me, heard me shout.  "Hurrah, lads!  Hurrah, lads!  Here's water!" he
cried out, making a few attempts at leaps, as he rushed forward.  The
others took up the cry, till the whole six of us were putting our mouths
to the fountain, for scarcely had I withdrawn mine than I returned again
for a fresh draught, the others doing the same thing.  It is surprising
that we did ourselves no harm by the quantity we swallowed.  Brady
declared that he heard it fizzing away as it went down his throat, from
the heat of his inside.



CHAPTER TWENTY ONE.

Having quenched our burning thirst, our next impulse was to seek for
rest.  Since we had been sleeping on the deck of the ill-fated frigate,
not one of us had closed his eyes.  Collecting, therefore, a quantity of
dried leaves and boughs, we made a bed, on which we threw ourselves, the
boughs forming a shade overhead.  In an instant almost I was asleep, and
so, I believe, were most of my companions.  We had escaped the dangers
of the sea, but we had a good many more to encounter.  The thoughts of
them, however, could not drive away sleep.  I was awakened by feeling a
gnawing sensation of hunger.  It was not so painful, perhaps, as thirst,
but it was very trying.  I could have eaten a raw lizard had I found it
crawling over my face.  My companions soon awoke from the same cause,
but nothing eatable, animal or vegetable, could we find.  We hurried
down to the beach, and searched about for shell-fish.  Not one could we
see.

"It will not do, lads, to stop here to starve," observed Kiddle.  "What
do you say, Mr Burton?  Had not we better push on along the shore,
while we have a little strength left, and try and find some natives who
may give us food?"

Esse and I agreed at once to Toby's suggestion, and returning once more
to our fountain for another draught, we set out along the coast.  Esse
and I had on shoes, but, after being so long in the salt water, they
became shrunk and shrivelled when they dried, and were rather an
inconvenience than any assistance in walking.  The rest of the party had
no shoes, and the hot sands burned and blistered their feet.  We dragged
ourselves on for about a mile, or it might have been more, when, turning
a point, we saw before us in the deep bay a prow at anchor.  She was so
close in shore, that should we continue in that direction we could
scarcely hope to escape the observation of those on board.  Should she
prove to be one of the fleet with which we had had the scratch a few
days before, her people might not be inclined to treat us very civilly.
Still, hunger made us desperate.  We pushed on, therefore; when,
surmounting a rocky height and looking over the ridge, we saw down below
us a party of dark-skinned natives, collected at a short distance from
the shore, while three or four other prows were at anchor a little
further on.  Some of the people were squatting round a fire cooking,
others were repairing a boat, and others lying on the ground.  An old
man with silvery beard, whom we took to be a chief, was seated on a
carpet, under the shade of a tree, smoking his long pipe, while two or
three men squatted at a little distance, apparently ready to obey his
commands.  We discovered that they had each of them some ugly-looking
weapons in their hands, and it suddenly occurred to us that should we
make our appearance together, they might, without asking questions, use
them upon our heads.  I, therefore, undertook to go forward by myself,
advising my companions, if they saw me killed, to make the best of their
way off in an opposite direction.

"By the powers, though, but that will never do!" exclaimed Brady.  "If
anybody's to be killed, I'm the boy, and so just let me go forward, if
you plase."

"No, no," I said, "I am young, and much less likely to excite their
anger than you would be."

Pat still demurred.  At length I had to exert my authority, and directed
him to stay quiet while I went forward.  I shall not forget the poor
fellow's look of anxiety as he saw me creep away down the hill, for I
was anxious that the Malays should not discover from what direction I
came.  I confess that I did not feel quite comfortable about the matter,
but I thought to myself, it is just as well to be killed outright as to
die by inches from starvation.  The Malays were not a little astonished
at seeing an English midshipman in their midst, although I certainly had
very little of the smart look which belongs to the genus.  The guards in
front of the old Rajah, as soon as they cast eyes on me, started to
their feet with uplifted weapons, at which I halted, and made a profound
salaam to the old gentleman beyond them.  It had its due effect, for
directly afterwards they lowered their swords, and their looks became
much less threatening.  I thought, therefore, that I might venture to
approach, and advancing slowly, I made another salaam.  As I could not
speak a word of Malay, I had to explain by signs the intelligence I
wished to convey.  I therefore pointed to the sea, and then put my hands
together, rocking them up and down, in imitation of a vessel, and then
making the sound of an explosion, I endeavoured to explain that my ship
was blown up.  Next, I pointed to myself, holding up one finger, adding
five others, and then, moving the palm of my hand from the sea toward
the shore, indicated that we had just landed.  I judged from the
expression of the spectators' countenances that they understood me, and,
making another salaam, I asked permission of the Rajah to go and fetch
my companions.  He nodded, and I hurried off.  I could not, however,
resist the temptation of passing near the fire where the men were
cooking.  On it was boiling a large pot of rice.  I held out my hands,
and entreated that the cooks would put some of their food into them.
They understood me, and I presently had my hands filled with hot rice,
so hot, indeed, that I nearly let it fall.  In spite, however, of the
heat, my mouth was soon embedded in it.  Before I had gone far, I had
eaten the whole of it.  I made signs that I should like to take some to
my companions, but the Malays in return signified that they must come
and fetch it themselves.  Pat Brady's delight on seeing me knew no
bounds.  Followed by the party, I quickly returned.  We were none of us
objects to excite fear.  Malay pirates are not much addicted to feelings
of pity.  Such we believed to be the occupation of the gentry before us.
Smith, I found, could speak a little Malay, and, putting him forward as
interpreter, we explained more clearly to the Rajah what had happened,
and begged him to help us to reach some European settlement, whence we
could find our way back to our ship.  This request made him cast a
suspicious look at us.

"Are you Dutch?" he asked us suddenly.

Smith assured him that we were British.

"He says, sir, it is fortunate we are so," observed Smith to me,
interpreting the Rajah's reply.  "They vow vengeance against the Dutch,
whom they say tyrannise over them, and declare that if we had been Dutch
they would have cut the throat of every mother's son of us."

"If they have any doubt about the matter," exclaimed Brady, "tell them
that I will dance an Irish jig, and, by the powers, that's more than any
Dutchman could ever do.  But I say, Bill, before I favour them with a
specimen of my talents, just hint that a little provender will be
acceptable down our throats."

Smith explained that we had a great dancing-man among us, an art in
which the chief in his sagacity must be aware the Dutch did not excel,
and he hinted that not only to the dancing-man but to the rest of us
some food would be very acceptable.  The Rajah in reply told him, if we
would sit down, our wants should soon be supplied.  By this time the
messes over the fire were cooked, and, with more liberality than I had
expected, the Malays placed before us a couple of bowls full of fish and
rice.  Without ceremony, we plunged our hands into the food, which
disappeared with wonderful rapidity down our throats.

"Take care the bones don't stick in your gullets, boys," cried Pat,
every now and then turning round to the Rajah and making him a bow.  "I
say, Smith, just tell his Majesty, or whatever he calls himself, that as
soon as I have stowed away as much as I can carry, I will give him a
specimen of the jintalist Ballyswiggan jig that he ever saw in his life
before."

Paddy was as good as his word, and no sooner was our meal finished than,
jumping up, forgetting all his fatigue, he began dancing a real Irish
jig with wonderful agility, making the music with his own voice, crying
out to us, every now and then, to strike up an accompaniment.  The
effect was at all events very advantageous to us, for the old Rajah
looked on with astonishment and approval as Paddy continued his
performance.  When he ceased, the chief called Smith up to him, and
spoke a few words.

"He asks where you learnt the art of dancing," said Smith.

"Oh!  Jist tell his honour, or his riverence, if that title plaises him
the better, that it comes natural to an Irishman with his mother's milk.
I have danced ever since I put foot to the ground.  Just as natural,
tell him, as it comes to him and his friends to go out robbing and
murdering, and such like little divartisements."

I rather fancy Smith did not give an exact interpretation of Brady's
answer; at all events the performance put the old pirate into a very
good humour.  Seeing the condition of our clothes, which were the worse
for having been soaked in salt water so long, he sent a boat aboard his
prow, which returned with a supply of Eastern garments.  How they were
come by we did not inquire.  They had never been worn, and were most
probably part of the cargo of some captured trader.  We very thankfully
put them on, and the chief then told Smith that if we liked to lie down
and sleep, we should have another meal when we woke up again, provided
our dancing-man would undertake to give more of his performances, as he
would then have a few other friends as spectators.

"Tell his honour I will do it with all the pleasure in the world,"
answered Brady, making a salaam at the same time towards the Rajah, who
seemed highly pleased with his good manners.  The chief then pointed to
a shady spot, on which his attendants spread some carpets.  Here we
thankfully lay down, and I do not think I ever slept more soundly in my
life, forgetting all the hardships I had gone through.  When we awoke
the sun was well-nigh dipping into the ocean, and the Malays had
finished the repair of their boat.  The old chief was, however, still
seated on his carpet, with four or five other individuals, habited much
in the same way, and all gravely smoking.  As soon as we sat up, another
bowl of rice and fresh meat was brought us.  After we had partaken of
it, the Rajah called to Smith, who told Paddy that he was expected to
begin his performance.

"With the greatest pleasure in life!" he exclaimed, springing up, "but
you must all come and support me, and sing and clap your hands, and toe
and heel it, too, every now and then.  It will make my dancing go off
better, and show the old boy that we wish to do our best to please him."

Paddy's strength having been completely recruited by his sleep and ample
meals, he far outdid his morning's performance, and elicited the warmest
signs of approval from the spectators of which Orientals are capable.
When it was over, all hands got into the boats, the Rajah taking us with
him on board his vessel.  We had from the first suspected, as was the
case, that the prows did not belong to this part of the country.  It
being evident that the pirates did not intend us any harm, we went to
sleep again soon after we got on board, in spite of our afternoon
snooze.  At daybreak the fleet of prows made sail for the spot where the
frigate had blown up.  No part of her was, however, now above water.  A
few seamen's chests were seen floating about, and pieces of the wreck;
and the saddest sight of all, here and there, the corpses of some of our
late companions.  From the way we were treated, we concluded that our
friends did not form part of the fleet with which the boats of the
"Resolution" had been engaged a few days before, and of course Smith
wisely forbore to mention the subject.  Finding that nothing more was to
be picked up from the wreck, the pirate fleet continued their cruise
along the coast, looking out for trading craft, from China, Java, and
other parts.  At night, when the weather was fine, we kept under way,
like a pack of wolves, hoping to come suddenly upon a quarry.  In the
day-time the fleet would lie hid behind some point of land, so that they
might dart out on any unwary passer-by.  I learnt a lesson from their
mode of proceeding, from which I hoped some day to benefit, should I, in
the course of service, be ever sent to look after such gentry.  What
were their intentions regarding us all this time we could not tell.  The
old chief, though ready enough to ask questions of us, was not very
communicative in return, and Smith could learn nothing from him.

"Perhaps he intends to demand a ransom for us," I observed.

"He may, sir, but I rather think that he will keep us until some day he
is hard pressed by any of our men-of-war, and then he will threaten to
cut our throats if our friends do not let him get off, and it is my
belief he would do it, sir.  These sort of people are very civil as long
as you please them, but just get on the other tack, and they will not
scruple a moment to knock their best friend on the head."

This was not a pleasant piece of information, but it did not greatly
damp our spirits.  We had all recovered from the effects of our exposure
on the raft, but were getting somewhat weary of our long detention on
board the prows.  That Smith was right in the description of our hosts,
we had soon too clear evidence.  It was night.  We were gliding calmly
over the moon-lit ocean when suddenly we came upon three native craft.
Smith said they were Javanese.  The prows boarded, one on each side of
the strangers.  In an instant the Malays threw themselves on board.
There was very little resistance, and they returned almost immediately,
each man laden with a bale of goods.  With wonderful rapidity the more
valuable part of the cargo was transferred on board the prows.  The
chiefs prow remained at a little distance, ready to render assistance
apparently if required.  Esse and I were watching what was taking place.
Presently we saw a figure appear at the stern of the prize.  The next
instant there was a plunge, and the waters closed over the man's head.
Another and another followed.  The prow then cast off, and a bright
flame burst forth from the merchant vessel.  The materials of which she
was composed ignited rapidly, and in another instant she was one mass of
fire; one after the other was treated in the same way.  We had got
half-a-mile from the scene before all the vessels taken had burned to
the water's edge and sunk, leaving not a trace behind, while we sailed
away with the goods which had lately filled their holds.  I confess I
did not feel quite as comfortable in the society of our friends after
this occurrence as I had done before.  We had been nearly six weeks on
board, and the pirates had taken a considerable number of prizes, when
Smith told us that he suspected, from the conversation he overheard,
that they were about to return to their own stronghold, to which traders
were wont to resort for the purchase of their goods.  Our best chance of
escape will be to make a bargain with one of the captains, and get him
to buy us of the Rajah, we promising to repay him.  Esse and I talked
over the matter, and, though it did not appear very promising, we of
course agreed to attempt it, if we could find no other way of escape.
Two nights after this we were at sea, with the wind aft, and the water
smooth, though the sky was overcast.  Now and then the moon came forth,
soon again, however, to be obscured.  Our prow was leading.  A small
vessel, apparently a trader, appeared ahead, and we gave chase.  She
must have seen us, and made all sail to escape.  We pursued eagerly.
Now we saw her, now the darkness hid her from sight.  On we went.  The
night was hot, and Esse and I, with our companions, were on the
fore-part of the deck watching the chase, hoping heartily she would
escape.

"She's distancing us, sir," observed Kiddle.  "She's in luck, for I
don't think the black fellows will have her this time."

Suddenly the moon beamed forth.

"Hillo!  Why, what is that?" exclaimed Esse.

We all eagerly looked out.  A little on the starboard-bow, the rays of
the bright luminary fell upon the white canvas of a tall ship standing
across our course.

"She's a man-of-war, or I am a Dutchman!" exclaimed Kiddle, "and a
frigate too."

"Perhaps she is the Orion herself, after all," cried Esse.  "Hurrah!
Hurrah!  Hurrah!"



CHAPTER TWENTY TWO.

Directly the crew of the prow discovered the frigate they lowered the
sails, and getting out the oars, began to pull her head round in the
direction of the wind's eye.  At that moment, however, the chase had got
close to the frigate.

"She is telling her what sort of gentry we are, and depend upon it she
will be after us directly," said Kiddle.

He was right, apparently, for immediately the frigate's head sails were
seen shivering in the breeze, and slowly coming about, she stood towards
us on the other tack.  The other prows discovered her at the same moment
that we did, and were now pulling away as fast as their crews could urge
them through the water.  The frigate, as she approached, began firing
from her foremost guns.  Had one of her shots struck us between wind and
water, it would have sent us to the bottom.  As to the prows escaping,
it seemed scarcely possible.  Still the Malays held on, tugging
desperately at their oars.  While some of the crew were rowing, the rest
were employed in examining the priming of their muskets and feeling the
edge of their swords, while a low conversation was carried on among
them.

"I do not quite like what they are saying, sir," said Smith to me.  "As
far as I can make out, they are vowing to Allah, that if the frigate
comes up with them they will knock us all on the head and blow
themselves up.  They are in earnest, I am afraid, for I know their
people have done the same sort of thing before now."

"Tell them," I said, "that as they have treated us so well, that if they
will haul down their colours we will use our influence with the captain
of the ship to have them set at liberty.  Tell them we think she is the
ship we belong to, and that if they are wise men they will follow our
advice."

Smith, knowing pretty well that our lives depended upon the way he might
put the matter to the old chief, began to address him slowly.  Gradually
he grew more energetic and warm.  While he was speaking a shot came
flying close by us, carrying away the greater number of the oars on one
side.  Escape now seemed impossible.  Again we urged our advice.  The
chief seemed unwilling to follow it.

"Ask him if he hasn't got a wife or two and a few young children at home
who would like to see him again," said Brady to Smith.  "Tell him at all
events we have, and if he's a wise man that he will live himself and let
us live.  Faith, it's a little exaggeration as far as some of us are
concerned, but if it excites the old gentleman's commiseration, sure
Father O'Rouke would absolve me for that as well as a few other lies I
have had to tell in my life."

Smith interpreted these remarks.  The Rajah spoke to his crew.  Directly
afterwards the uninjured oars were thrown in.

"We have got your promise, then, young officer, that my people and I
shall be uninjured, and shall be allowed to go free?" said the chief.

"Yes," I answered, "I fully believe if that frigate is the one to which
we belong, that the captain will carry out my promises."

On this the chief briefly addressed his crew.

The frigate, understanding apparently that we had given in, ceased
firing, and directly afterwards hove to.  There was just time to lower a
boat, when again she stood on in chase of the other prows.  The moon was
now shining brightly, and by her light we saw a boat approaching us.  In
a few minutes she was alongside, and her crew, led by an officer, sprang
on board.  I thought I recognised Oldershaw's figure.  "They have given
in," I shouted out, "and we have promised that you would spare their
lives and let them go free."

"Hillo!  Who is that?  Bless my heart, who are you?" exclaimed
Oldershaw.  "What!  Ben Burton!  Is it possible!"

We were all of us, it must be remembered, in Eastern dresses, finding
them far more comfortable than those we had laid aside.

"Yes, and I am here too!" sung out Dicky Esse.

"I am heartily glad of it," exclaimed Oldershaw.  "We thought you had
all been knocked on the head by the savages long ago.  And have any more
of you escaped?"

"Yes, sir," said Toby Kiddle.  "Here am I, and here's Pat Brady, and
these two men of the `Resolution,' and fortunate men they are, for they
are the only ones alive out of the whole ship's company."

Oldershaw now learned from us, for the first time, of the sad loss of
the frigate.  We told him also how well we had been treated by the
Rajah.  On this Oldershaw went up and shook him by the hand, and told
Smith to assure him that no harm would be done him or his people, and
that the captain of the frigate would be very much obliged to him for
the way he had treated us.  The old chief seemed highly pleased, and
ordered pipes and coffee to be brought aft, and in ten minutes we were
all seated in the after part of the prow, smoking the fragrant weed and
sipping the warm beverage, while the Malays were doing the honours to
our men.  I need not say, however, that Oldershaw told us all to keep a
bright look-out, so that, in case of treachery being intended, we might
not be taken by surprise.  The frigate stood on, and from the rapid
firing we heard, it was pretty evident that she was roughly handling the
other prows.  The chief shrugged his shoulders.  "It was the will of
Allah," he said: "if his people were killed, it was not his fault, nor
was it ours, so he hoped it would not interfere with our present
friendly relations."  Such, at least, was something like the
interpretation which Smith gave us of his remarks.  At length the
frigate was seen running back.  As she approached, we fired a gun to
draw her attention, and in a short time she was up to us, shortening
sail as she approached.  Another boat now came off from her, when Esse
and I went on board and reported ourselves to Captain Oliver.  He was
walking the quarter-deck when we appeared at the gangway.  "What!" he
exclaimed, "you my midshipmen!  I thought when I saw you that you were a
couple of young Malays.  Come into the cabin, and let me hear your
account.  I am, indeed, heartily glad to hear that you have escaped."
Mr Schank expressed equal satisfaction at again seeing us, as, indeed,
did all our shipmates.  When he heard how well we had been treated by
the old Rajah, he sent to request his presence on board, that he might
thank him personally for his kindness to us.  After some little delay,
notice was given that the Rajah was coming on board in one of our boats.
The sides were manned to do him honour, and in a short time he appeared
at the gangway, no longer habited in the dingy costume in which we had
seen him, but superbly dressed with a turban glittering with gems, and
richly jewelled sword by his side, attended by four other persons also
finely habited.  Without the slightest embarrassment, he followed the
captain, after a due amount of salaams had passed between them, into the
cabin.  He there took his seat with perfect composure, and Smith was
summoned to act as interpreter.  Captain Oliver again thanked him for
his kindness to us, and then took occasion to express his regret that he
should ever be engaged in deeds of which the English could not approve,
such as robbing vessels and knocking their crews on the head, or sending
them overboard.  The old chief did not for a moment deny that such were
his usual occupations, but observed quietly that his fathers had done
the same before him, and, as it was necessary to live, he should be glad
to hear if the English chief could point out any better occupation.
"Surely," he remarked, "you do just the same.  What are all these guns
for?  For what are the arms you and your people carry, but to rob and
kill your enemies?" and the old gentleman chuckled, fully believing that
he had checkmated the infidel chief.

"Well, well," answered Captain Oliver, "we will talk of that another
time; but have you any favour to ask which it is in my power to grant,
as I shall be glad to do anything to please you, to show my gratitude."

The Rajah thought a moment.  "No," he said.  "You have refrained from
sending my vessel to the bottom when you had the power to do so, and I
have no more to ask since you allow me to go free.  But there is one
favour.  I should like again to see your dancing-man go through his
wonderful performance."

Until we explained the remark, Captain Oliver was puzzled to know what
his guest meant.  "What do you say, Schank.  We have a few men on board
who can dance, besides the Irishman, have we not?"

"Yes, sir, there are several," observed Mr Schank.

"Very well, just go and make such arrangements as you can best manage on
deck, and we will have our guest up when all is ready."  In a short time
Tom King entered the cabin.

"Please, sir," he reported, "the ball-room is prepared, and the dancers
are ready."

"Very well," said the Captain, and he made a sign to our Malay friends
to accompany him on deck.

A number of the crew with lanterns in their hands had been arranged
round the quarter-deck.  On the after part, carpets and cushions had
been spread, on which our guests were requested to take their seats,
while between every two men with lanterns stood others, each with a blue
light case in his hand.  We had on board a couple of fiddlers, besides
the marines' fifes and drums.  All our musical powers had been mustered
for the occasion.

"Strike up!" cried Mr Schank, and the fiddlers began to play, joined in
by the other instruments as they did so.  The circle of lantern men
opened, and Pat Brady, followed by nearly a dozen other men, sprang into
the centre.  Pat first performed a jig for which he was celebrated.  It
was followed by a regular sailor's hornpipe.  When this was finished,
the band struck up a Scotch reel.  At the same time the blue lights were
ignited, and four men in kilts and plaids sprang into the circle and
commenced a Highland fling, shrieking and leaping, and clapping their
hands in a way that made the old Rajah almost jump off his cushions with
astonishment, the glare of the blue lights increasing the wild and
savage appearance of the dancers.

"Bismillah!  These English are wonderful people!" exclaimed the old
Rajah.  "If they would but follow the prophet, and take to piracy like
us, they might possess themselves of the wealth of all the world, for
who could stand against them!"  So delighted was the old gentleman with
his entertainment, that he declined receiving any further present with
the exception of a few bottles of rum, which he could not bring himself
to refuse.  He promised also that should any English people fall into
his power, that, for the sake of us and our dancing friends, he would
always treat them with kindness, and assist them in reaching any port
they might desire.

We now put him on board his prow, and sent him rejoicing on his way.
Possibly he might not have been so well-pleased when he came to discover
that three of his fleet had been sunk by our guns, and yet he was
evidently too great a philosopher to allow such a matter to weigh
heavily upon his spirits.  I was very thankful to be once more on board
the frigate.  Captain Oliver treated me and Esse with the greatest
kindness, for, though we had kept up our spirits, we were rather the
worse for the hardships we had gone through, and the strain on our
nerves; for midshipmen have nerves, whatever may be thought to the
contrary, though they are fortunately very tough and not easily put out
of order.  We were accordingly put into the sick list and relieved from
duty for a couple of weeks.  I repeated to Mr Schank the account which
Mr Noalles had given me of himself.  He was greatly astonished at what
I told him.

"I little thought the man I knew so well when I was last in these seas
was the one who had behaved so cruelly to my poor sister," he said.
"However, he has gone, and peace be to his memory.  I will do my utmost
to discover his daughter, and I should think, as Mr Bramston must be
well-known in Bombay, there can be little difficulty in doing that.  I
will write the first opportunity to a friend I have in Calcutta, and get
him to make all the inquiries in his power."  After cruising for some
months among the East India Islands, we returned to Canton.  We were
there directed to convoy a fleet of merchantmen round to Calcutta.  What
with risks from pirates, from rocks and shoals, from hurricanes, from
enemies' cruisers, and from the unseaworthiness of some, it is a wonder
that we managed to bring the greater portion of the vessels under our
charge safe to their destination.  Mr Schank's friend told him that he
had inquired for Mr Bramston, and found that he had for some years been
residing as a district judge in Ceylon, where, indeed, he had passed the
greater portion of his time.  He understood that he was alive and
married, but how long he had been married he could not tell, or whether
he had married a second time.  This much was satisfactory.

We had now been upwards of four years on the station, and were every day
expecting to be ordered home.  The Admiral, however, told our Captain,
that not having more frigates on the station than he required, he must
keep us till we were relieved.  We were just weighing anchor to proceed
back to Canton, when a frigate was seen standing towards us.

She soon made her number.  "The Thetis."  The signal book was in instant
requisition, and the answer to our question was: "Direct from England to
relieve the `Orion'."  The signal midshipman threw up his hat as he read
it.  A shout ran along the decks.  Before she had come to an anchor, our
boat was alongside, and returned with a bag of letters and newspapers.
We delayed our departure that we might receive her letters home in
return.  For a long time I had not heard from my mother.  She was well,
and she gave me a very good account of Mrs and the Misses Schank, and
the dear Little Lady.  But she said that she herself was sorely annoyed
by letters from Mr Gillooly, who still persevered in his suit.  "They
are warm enough and devoted enough in all conscience," she observed, "so
much so, indeed, that I feel sure they are written under the influence
of potent tumblers of whisky.  Though I never could endure a milk-sop,
yet I have a still greater objection to the opposite extreme.  Besides,
Ben," she added, "my dear boy, however my friends may urge me, I wish to
die as I have lived, faithful to the memory of your brave father."

I could not but applaud the resolution of my mother, at the same time
that I felt anxious that she should do whatever would most conduce to
her happiness.  The officers and parties of the ships' companies having
exchanged visits with each other, we bade our relief farewell, and with
joyous hearts made sail for Old England.



CHAPTER TWENTY THREE.

Old England was reached at length.  I need not give the particulars of
the passage home.  Nothing very particular occurred.  Portsmouth was a
very busy place in those days.  Ships fitting out or paying off kept up
a constant bustle.  The water was alive, the streets were alive with
human beings, and the inns were full of them.  We were several days
paying off, but at length were once more free.  I was eager to go and
see my mother, and the Little Lady, and our kind friends.  Mr Schank,
having business in Portsmouth, told me to go on before him, promising to
follow in a few days.

"Give my love to my mother and sisters, and my very kind regards to your
excellent mother," he said.

I thought he looked somewhat oddly as he spoke, and I have an idea that
a more ruddy glow than usual came over his features; but that of course
might have been fancy.  Oldershaw, who lived a little to the north of
Whithyford, agreed to accompany me, and Dicky Esse and Tom Twig happened
to be going up to London the same day.  We therefore all took our places
on the coach together.  Oldershaw had secured the box seat; we three
took our places behind him.  There was one other spare place, and we
were wondering who would occupy it, when a stout, large-whiskered,
middle-aged man climbed up and took the seat.  By the way he stepped up,
and by his general appearance, I saw at once that he was a seaman.
Whether he was an officer or not I could not exactly make out.  The
guard's horn sounded, and off we dashed up Portsmouth High Street.  I
had by this time grown into a tall, well-made lad.  I looked indeed, as
I was, quite a young man, particularly contrasted with my companions,
who, though really older, were both remarkably small for their age.  We
were not too old, however, to be up to all sorts of midshipmen-like
pranks, and Oldershaw had some difficulty in keeping us in order.  Dicky
and Tom were somewhat inclined to play their tricks on our companion,
and made several attempts to sell him.  He took their jokes, however, in
very good part, and always turned their batteries upon themselves.  I
was sitting on the opposite side to him.

"Take care what you are about," I whispered to Esse.  "He may be a
post-captain or an admiral, and you will find he is one of your
examining captains when you come to pass."

"They do not travel on the top of stage coaches," answered Dicky.  "Only
small fry enjoy that privilege--lieutenants, mates, and midshipmen."

"Do not be too sure of that," I said.  "At all events, you may find him
the First-Lieutenant of the next ship you join, and he may not forget
your free and easy style."

"If he is worth his salt he will not harbour revenge for what I have
said or done," persisted Dicky.

However, I observed that both he and Twig were more careful than before
in their way of addressing the stranger.  I heard them telling him where
we had been and some of the adventures we had gone through.

"Have you ever been out in those parts, sir?" asked Tom.

"Yes, and I know something about them, but it is a good many years ago,
probably before any of you young gentlemen were born, or so much as
thought of," answered the stranger.

"Have you been away from England lately?" asked Tom.

"For a good many years, young gentleman," answered the stranger.

"To a distant station, I suppose--to North America or the West Indies?"

"No," answered the stranger; "I have been where I hope you may never be,
and where I may never be again--kept from all you love or care for on
earth.  I have been inside the walls of a French prison."

"I hope not, indeed," said Tom.  "Parlez-vous Francais, Monsieur?"

"As to that, I may understand a few words, but it is no pleasant matter
to learn the lingo of one's enemies, and I felt something like an old
master who was shut up with me, and declared he would never prove such a
traitor to his country as to learn one single French word all the time
he was in prison."

In a very short time Dicky and Tom got back to their chaffing mood.  I
was sorry not to have some conversation with the stranger.  The latter,
however, did not seem inclined to exchange jokes with them and became
silent, every now and then, however, speaking a few words with
Oldershaw, behind whom he sat.  We separated in London, where Oldershaw
took us to a respectable lodging-house with which he was acquainted, and
early the next morning we started by the coach for Lincolnshire.
Oldershaw and I occupied the only two places outside.

Just as the coach was starting, who should we see but the stranger who
had come up with us from Portsmouth.

"There is one place inside if you do not mind taking it," said the
guard.  "Very sorry, otherwise you will have to wait for the night
coach, or to-morrow morning."

The stranger stepped in and the coach drove off.  I need not describe
the incidents of the journey.  It was dusk when we arrived at
Whithyford.  At length the light from the window of the little inn, at
the end of the lane where I purposed getting down, appeared in sight.
Begging the coachman to stop, I wished Oldershaw good-bye, and descended
from my perch on the roof.  My chest and bag were handed down, and the
coach drove on.

"I cannot believe my eyes, Master Burton, sure it's not you!" exclaimed
Mrs Fowler, the landlady of the "Wheatsheaf."

I assured her that I was no other than little Ben Burton, though
somewhat increased in bulk during the five years I had been absent.

"And my mother?"  I asked.  "Is she well?  And her kind friends?"  The
answer was satisfactory.  The Misses Schank had, however, gone out to a
tea party at Mr Simmon's the lawyer.

"And my mother?"  I asked, "is she there too?"

"Oh!  No, Lor' bless you, she never goes to such gay doings.  She would
be stopping to look after the old lady, who keeps up wonderfully.  And I
should not be surprised but what you find somebody else there.  There
was a strange gentleman came over from Ireland some days gone, and has
been stopping in my house.  He is a free and easy spoken sort of man,
though I do not understand all he says, for he speaks in the Irish way,
but he is a good customer at the bar, and is liberal-handed enough.
However, Master Burton, I do not know as I should advise your mother to
go and do it.  You see if he was to ask me, it would be a different
matter.  I could hold my own.  Besides, I am accustomed to such doings
as his.  When my good man that's gone, Simon Fowler, was alive, he was
not happy till he had got a few quarts of beer in his inside--not to
speak of gin and rum.  But do you see, your dear mother is a different
sort of person, and it would not do for her to take up with a gentleman
with such habits."

I now began to comprehend the drift of the landlady's remarks.

"What!"  I exclaimed, "is there a person such as you describe wanting to
marry my mother?"

"Well, that's the plain matter of fact," answered Mrs Fowler; "and what
is more he swears he will have her.  He has come all the way over from
Ireland, and is not going back nonplussed."

I was greatly concerned at hearing this, for although, had my mother
wished to marry again, I should have been very thankful if she could
have found a suitable protector, yet I was sure that such a person as
Mrs Fowler described would make her miserable.  There was another
person I was longing to ask about, but I own, from a somewhat different
feeling, I hesitated.  "And Miss Emily?"  I asked at length, trying to
get out of the light of the candle as I spoke.  "How is she?"

"Oh!  She is the light of the house--the most beautifullest and
brightest little creature you ever did see," answered Mrs Fowler, with
enthusiasm.  "Whether she's the captain's daughter, or anybody else's
daughter, it does not matter to me, but I know she is a blessing to all
around her."

"Thank you, Mrs Fowler, thank you," I answered, scarcely knowing what I
said.  "I am anxious to see my mother.  Take care of my chest; I will
take my bag with me."  Saying this, I darted out of the house and
hurried down the lane.  I well knew how delighted my mother would be to
see me, and I had an undefined feeling that the sooner I could be with
her the better.  Passing through the wicket I found the house-door
partly open, and heard a voice proceeding from the back parlour.  It was
a somewhat loud one too:

"Oh!  Mistress Burthen!  Mistress Burthen!  Ye will be after breaking my
heart, ye will; and me waiting for you these long years, and now at last
come all the way over from old Ireland to find ye as hard and obdurate
as the blacksmith's anvil in the corner of Saint Patrick's street, in
Ballybruree," were the first words that caught my ear.  "Shure you will
be afther relenting and not laving me a disconsolate widower, to go back
to Ballyswiggan all alone by myself."

"Indeed, Mr Gillooly, I feel that your constancy--your pertinacity
shall I call it?" and there was a slight touch of sarcasm in the
voice,--it was my mother who spoke, "deserves to be rewarded; but at the
same time I confess that I cannot bring myself to undertake to
recompense you as you desire.  All I can do is to give you my best
advice, and that is to try and find some other lady who is more disposed
to receive your addresses than I am."

I did not wish to be an eaves-dropper, and at the same time I scarcely
liked suddenly to rush unnoticed into the room.  Old Mrs Schank would,
I concluded, be in the front parlour, and perhaps Emily might be with
her, and I would ask her to break my arrival to my mother.  Again Mr
Gillooly pleaded his cause.  I began to fancy, from the tone of my
mother's voice and the answers she made, that she was somewhat
relenting.  I knew enough of the world to be aware that even sensible
people sometimes marry against their convictions, and I thought it was
now high time for me to interfere.  Just then I heard my mother exclaim:

"Who's that?  I saw someone at the window.  It is impossible; yet--Oh!
Mr Gillooly, you are very kind, you are very generous, but I cannot, I
cannot marry you.  After what I have just now seen, it is impossible!"

"It's on my knees, then, I implore you, widow Burthen!" exclaimed Mr
Gillooly.  "Oh!  Say, would you render me a desperate man and send me
forth to join the Ribbonmen, or Green Boys, or other rebels against King
George?  It's afther killing me ye'll be by your cruelty; and it's more
than Jim Gillooly can stand, or has stood in his life, and so by the
powers, Mistress Gillooly, you shall be, in spite of your prothestations
and assartions, and--"

I now thought it high time to interfere, and rushing into the room,
presented myself to the astonished gaze of Mr Gillooly, who was on the
point of rising from his knees, with anger depicted on his countenance,
and a gesture sufficient to alarm even a less timid person than my
mother.  She was staring with eyes open and lips apart towards the
window which looked into the garden.  The light from the lamp on the
table fell on the face and figure of a man whom I at once recognised as
my fellow-traveller from Portsmouth.

"Who are you?" exclaimed Mr Gillooly, as he saw me advancing.  "That
lady's son," I answered.

"Then out upon you for an impostor.  That lady can have no big spalpeen
of a son like you!" exclaimed Mr Gillooly, rushing towards me with
uplifted fist.  I could easily have escaped him by flight, but that I
disdained to do, though his blow was likely to be one capable of felling
me to the ground.  My mother uttered a scream.  At that instant the
window was flung open, and in sprang the stranger.  The scream arrested
my assailant.  He turned his head and discovered the stranger, a man of
powerful frame, rushing towards him.

"Murther! murther!  I'm betrayed!" shouted Mr Gillooly.  "Oh!  Widow,
it's all your doing, and you have led me into an ambush!  Murther!
Murther!" and without stopping to pick up his hat or whip he rushed from
the door and out through the garden and along the lane, so I concluded,
as I heard his heavy footsteps growing less and less distinct as he
gained a distance from the cottage.



CHAPTER TWENTY FOUR.

I left my mother, at the end of the last chapter, standing in the middle
of the back parlour of Mr Schank's cottage, her Irish admirer, Mr
Gillooly, scampering up the lane as fast as his two legs would carry
him, the stranger who accompanied me from Portsmouth having just before,
most opportunely for me, sprung through the window and saved me from the
effects of that worthy's anger.

I had no disposition to follow him; indeed, I had a matter of far more
interest to occupy my attention at the moment.  My mother sank into a
chair.  I sprang forward to embrace her, and while she threw one of her
arms round my neck, she pointed at the stranger, exclaiming:

"Is it real, or am I in a dream?  Who are you?  Say!  Say!  Do not mock
me!"

"Polly, you are my own true loving wife, and I am your live husband--
your faithful Dick Burton!" exclaimed my father, for he it was in
reality, as he came forward and took my mother in his arms.

"No wonder you thought me dead, Mary, and a long yarn I have to tell
you, how it all happened.  And is this young gentleman Ben, our Ben?" he
asked, as he put his arm round my neck and kissed me on the brow.  "I
know it is; yet if I had not seen him here I should not have known him.
Well, to see him a quarter-deck officer, and on the road to promotion,
and you, Mary, alive and well, and as young looking as ever, repays me
for all I have gone through, and that's no trifle."

Now, most women under the trying circumstances I have described would
have fainted away or gone into hysterics, but my mother did neither one
nor the other.  Perhaps we had to thank Mr Gillooly for saving her from
such a result.  My idea is the agitation which that worthy gentleman had
put her into counteracted the effects which might have been produced,
first from my sudden appearance, and then by the unlooked-for return of
my father.  I do not mean to say that she was not agitated, and was very
nearly fainting, but she did not faint; indeed, her nerves stood the
trial in a most wonderful manner.  After I had been with my mother and
my newly-found father for some time, I bethought me that I ought to go
and pay my respects to Mrs Schank and to Miss Emily, who, my mother
told me, was sitting with her; I therefore went to the drawing-room
door, and, tapping, asked if I might enter.

"Come in," said a sweet voice.  The owner of the sweet voice started
when she saw me, for she was evidently uncertain who I could be, while
the old lady peered at me through her spectacles.

Emily, however, coming forward, put out her hand.

"How delightful!  You are welcome back, Ben!" she exclaimed.  "I mean
Mr Burton.  It is Mr Ben Burton, ma'am," she said in a higher key, and
turning to the old lady.

"Ah, Ben!  You are grown indeed, and you are welcome, lad.  You are
always welcome," she added after a minute, and made some inquiries of
her son.  "And you have come back in the very nick of time, for there is
an Irish gentleman wants to marry your mother, and we do not like him,
do we, Emily?"

"Oh!  No, no," said Emily, shaking her head; "it would never do."  This
gave me the opportunity of saying that Mr Gillooly had taken his
departure, and also that there was another very strong reason for my
mother's not marrying him--the return of my father.  The old lady's
astonishment knew no bounds on hearing this.  "And my girls are out!
Dear me, they will be surprised when they come back.  What a pity they
should not have been here.  It is a mercy your mother did not faint away
altogether.  And he is actually in the next room.  Your father, who has
been killed so many years!"

"They thought he was killed, ma'am," exclaimed Emily.  "He could not
have been killed or he would not be here!"

"No!  To be sure!  To be sure!" said the old lady.  "That is very clear,
and very wonderful it is; but if he had been killed it would be still
more wonderful!  Well, I am very glad he has come back."  After a little
time I went back to my father and mother, and brought him in to see Mrs
Schank and the Little Lady, both of whom welcomed him cordially.  I
inquired after Mrs Lindars.

"She is much as usual," answered Emily, "but she looks almost as old as
grandmamma.  You know I call Mrs Schank grandmamma now.  She really is
like a grandmother to me, and the Misses Schank are like kind aunts,
though I look upon your mother, Ben, quite as a mother, for one she has
been to me all my life."

I was doubtful how I ought to convey her husband's message to Mrs
Lindars.  Indeed, I felt that it would be a very difficult task.
However, it was managed.  I determined first to consult my mother and
the poor lady's sisters.  At length they returned, and various were the
notes of exclamation and astonishment with which they heard of the
existence and return of my father, and still more so when they saw him.

"Well, I must say you are a very substantial, good-looking ghost," said
Miss Anna Maria, in her funny, chirruping voice, "and a much better
husband you will make her, I am sure, than that strange Irishman who has
been haunting the village for the last week."

"Thank you, miss," said my father, looking affectionately at my mother.

"And you must stay here as long as you can, Mister Burton," said old
Mrs Schank.

"Thank you again, ma'am.  I shall be in no hurry to leave my wife now I
have come back to her," he said, with a sailor's bow.

"But we want to know, Mr Burton, where you have been, and what you have
been about," said Miss Martha Schank.

"That would take up a long time, but I will try and satisfy you ladies
as soon as you are ready to hear."

"As to going to bed without some notion, we should not sleep a wink all
night for thinking of it, and not be sure, after all, whether you are
yourself, or your ghost, or somebody else," exclaimed the Misses Schank
almost in chorus, Miss Anna Maria adding the last remark: "We heard that
you were knocked overboard and killed attacking a French ship off the
coast of Italy.  Was that not the case?"

"It is all very true that I was knocked overboard," said my father.
"But had I been killed, I do not think I should be here.  The fact is,
that when I fell into the water I came to myself, and not being able to
reach the boats I got hold of the rudder chains of the vessel we had
hoped to capture.  There I hung on till the anger of the Frenchmen had
somewhat cooled down, and then, finding I could hold on no longer, I
sang out, and asked them to take me on board.  They did so, and there
being a surgeon in the ship, he dressed my wounds.  They treated me
pretty fairly till I got well, I must say that for them, but after that
they sent me to a French prison.  Unfortunately I had no money in my
pocket, and was unable to buy paper to write a letter.  What with the
hard treatment I received, and the thoughts that my wife and child were
left without anybody to look after them, I fell sick, and remained
between life and death for many months.  A kind French widow and her
daughter took compassion on me, and by their means my life was saved.  I
after this wrote several times, but my letters must have been treated as
were many others, and were never sent.  I should, however, in time have
got my freedom, but I fell in with an English officer who was going to
be married, he told me, to a beautiful young lady, just when he was
taken, and now she would have to wait for him for many years, or perhaps
go and marry somebody else, thinking he was dead.  He would, he said,
give everything to make his escape, so I promised to help him, which I
wished to do for his own sake.  But I thought also that I might get away
myself.  It would be a long yarn if I was to tell you all our plans, and
all the tricks we had to play to get out of prison.  At last, however,
we managed to get free and stand outside the walls of the town.  He
could talk French like a Frenchman, but I could not say a word.  We were
both dressed as countrymen--he of the better sort, and I, as a lout,
born deaf and dumb.  This did very well for some time, and whether or no
the country people suspected us I cannot say, but I rather think they
did, though many of them were very kind to Englishmen, and would gladly
have helped them to escape if they dared.  We worked our way north,
travelling by unfrequented paths, or, when we had to take to the high
road, going on generally at night.  We got into high spirits, thinking
that all would be right.  This made us careless, when one day, just as
we were leaving the town, a party of their abominable gendarmes pounced
upon us.  The captain showed great surprise, and wondered why they
should lay hold of two innocent people.  This was of no use, however.
They soon showed him they knew who we were, and we were marched back to
prison, looking very foolish, and the next morning sent off, with
several other prisoners, to the place we had escaped from.  There we
were kept closely shut up.  It was very hard and very cruel in them,
just because we wanted to get our liberty.  I made several other
attempts, for I was determined to get free if I could.  Life was worth
nothing away from my wife and child.  At last I succeeded with two
others--an officer and another man.  We reached the coast, cut out a
small boat, and were making our way across the Channel when we were
picked up by a man-of-war.  It had come on to blow very heavy.  Our boat
was swamped alongside, and, as she was outward bound, we had to go away
in her.  I entered on board.  We took several prizes, and I filled my
empty pockets with gold.  I was one of the prize crew of the first
man-of-war we took worth sending home, and at last I once more set foot
on the shores of England.  As soon as I was free of the ship I came down
here.  There you have my history; I will tell you more particulars
another day.  It may serve, however, to convince you that I am no ghost,
or that if I am, I am a big liar, saving your pardons, ladies, and that
is what Dick Burton never was.  Besides, I have an idea that my wife
believes me, at all events.  Don't you, Polly?"

Following my father's example, I must be somewhat brief in the remainder
of my yarn.  I should say, that soon after his arrival he and my mother
took a cottage which happened to be vacant in the village.  He
fortunately had a considerable amount of prize-money and pay due to him,
for which it appeared my mother had neglected to draw, and with this, in
addition to what he had lately obtained, he was well able to keep house.
Mrs and the Misses Schank, however, insisted upon my remaining with
them, which, as may be supposed, I was very glad to do.

I spent a very happy time at Whithyford.  Little Emily was my constant
companion, and every day I was with her.  I learned to love her more and
more.  At first we talked of being brother and sister, but we knew we
were not, and somehow or other in time we came to leave off calling each
other so.  After this, at first I called her for a few days Miss Emily,
but I soon dropped that again.  Then I began to talk of how I was going
to rise in my profession, and make heaps of prize-money, and I scarcely
know, indeed, what I was going to do and be.  There was Lord
Collingwood, and Lord Nelson, and Lord Saint Vincent, and old Lord
Camperdown, who had all been midshipmen once on a time, and were
admirals and lords, and why should I not be a lord too?  Emily, of
course, thought that I should be, and I am not quite certain that we did
not choose a title.  I was to be Baron Burton of Whithyford, and I took
to calling her Lady Burton, and sometimes Lady Whithyford.  I do not
mind confessing this now.  It did no harm, and at all events made us
very happy.  Why should not people be happy when happiness is so easily
obtained--by a little exercise of the imagination?  I quite forgot to
mention my mother's devout admirer, Mr Gillooly.  On inquiring the next
morning after our arrival of what had become of him, we found that he
had been taken ill and was laid up in bed; so it was said at the
"Wheatsheaf," where he remained for some time under the tender care of
Mrs Fowler.  When he recovered, unwilling to go back to Ireland without
an English wife, which he promised he would bring, I rather think to
spite some Irish fair one who had refused him, as a reward to the
landlady for all her kindness, he made her an offer of his hand, which
she accepted.  They were married shortly afterwards.  She disposed of
her establishment, and, dressed in a new satin gown of the gayest
colours, accompanied him back, not only as a blooming bride, but, as
Anna Maria observed, a thoroughly full-blown one, to become the mistress
of Ballyswiggan Hall.  When Mr Schank at last came home, there was a
great rejoicing, and two days afterwards the postman's knock was heard
at the door, and Emily, running out, brought back a long official
looking letter.

"It has come at last," he exclaimed, and his voice showed more emotion
than he was wont to exhibit.  "Oliver is a fine fellow; I knew he would
do his best;" and holding up the letter to us all, we saw it was
addressed to Commander Schank.  "And now the next thing they must do is
to give me a ship and post me, and then, mother, I may perhaps do
something to place you and my sisters in the position you ought to
occupy, and make you all comfortable to the end of your days."

"No, no, Jack!  We are as well off as we wish to be.  You must marry as
you said you would.  We would far rather see you married happily than
change to the finest house in London."

"No, no, sisters," he answered, and something very like a sigh burst
from his heart.  "I once had a dream, but that has passed.  I shall
marry my ship when I get one, and I hope never to lose her while I have
life."

Captain Schank was known to be too good an officer to be allowed to
remain long unemployed, or I should say Captain Oliver was too zealous a
friend to allow his merits to be passed by.  At length another letter
arrived, appointing him to the command of a fine brig sloop just off the
stocks at Portsmouth.  He was at once to go down and commission her, and
fit her for sea.

"Ben," he said, "Captain Oliver writes me too that you will be appointed
to her.  You have only one year to serve, and after that he hopes you
will get your commission.  If the Ministry keeps in and he lives, his
hopes will, I am very sure, come true.  Oldershaw, as you know, is
promoted, and has been appointed Second-Lieutenant of her.  The
First-Lieutenant is a stranger to me.  I see he has been a good many
years at sea as First-Lieutenant; but he may not be the worse as a
First-Lieutenant on that account I hope.  I must get your father to come
down to Portsmouth, to help me pick up hands for the brig Oliver hopes
to get him a berth on board a ship in ordinary, as some recompense to
him for his long imprisonment, and for his gallant efforts to assist the
Honourable Captain Burgoyne in escaping from prison.

"You should not miss the opportunity of seeing a ship fitted out.  Take
my advice.  Make yourself practically acquainted with everything on
board, from stowing the hold to rigging the topgallant masts."  The next
day Mr Schank started for Portsmouth, telling me to be prepared to
follow him in the course of a few days.



CHAPTER TWENTY FIVE.

CONCLUSION.

The last days I spent at Whithyford ought to have been very delightful,
for my kind friends vied with each other in making much of me, as of
course so did my mother.  My father talked of going down to Portsmouth
with me, but he changed his mind.

"No, no," he said, "you know how to take care of yourself; and it is as
well the old boatswain should not come and interfere with you.  God
bless you, my boy; go on as you have begun, and you will do well."

And Emily.  I am not going to repeat all we said to each other.  We were
very young, and I dare say very silly.  We exchanged vows, and hoped to
marry when I became a commander, or perhaps, we agreed, it might not be
so long; perhaps when I was a lieutenant.  Many lieutenants had wives,
and though, to be sure, some were not very well off, yet we hoped to be
an exception to the general rule, and to have at all events enough to
live upon.  Thus, full of love and hope, I started away for Portsmouth.
I was quickly on board the "Pearl".  The First-Lieutenant, Mr Duff, was
a man after Captain Schank's own heart--a thorough tar, and under him,
doffing my midshipman's uniform, I was speedily engaged with a
marline-spike slung round my neck, and a lump of grease in one hand,
setting up the lower rigging.  The brig was soon fitted for sea.
Oldershaw joined her as Second-Lieutenant.  My two other friends Tom
Twig and Dicky Esse were glad to go to sea again with Captain Schank.  I
also fell in with Toby Kiddle and Pat Brady at Portsmouth.  I persuaded
both to join, Toby being rated as a quarter-master, and Pat as captain
of the foretop.

"You see, Mister Burton," he observed, with a wink, "I can now write
home to Ballybruree to tell them I have been made a captain; and sure
it's the truth, and it will help to raise the family in the estimation
of the neighbours, and may be they will think one captain as good as
another."

I confess that I should have preferred being in a rattling frigate; and
yet we had brave hearts on board the brig, and hoped at all events to do
something in her.  We were ordered out to the North American station,
and then to proceed on to the West Indies.  It used to be thought, in
those days, a good thing to give ships' companies the advantage of a hot
and cold climate alternately.  The cold was to drive away the yellow
fever, and the heat to cure us of frostbites, to which we might be
subjected at Halifax or up the Saint Lawrence.  We preferred, on the
whole, the West Indies, for, being constantly at sea, we had not much
sickness on board.  We took a good many of the enemy's merchant vessels,
which struck without offering much resistance; but, though they assisted
to fill our pockets, we gained little honour, or glory, or a chance of
promotion.  We had been, indeed, a year and a half on the station
without exchanging a shot with the enemy.  At length, when off the east
end of Jamaica, while we were on the starboard tack, a strange ship was
discovered steering under easy sail on the opposite tack.  What she was
we could not make out.  She was considerably larger than we were, but
still Captain Schank determined, should she be an enemy, to attack her.
About an hour before noon she passed to leeward of us, and almost within
gun-shot.  We made a private signal.  It was not answered.

"About ship!" cried the Captain, and away we stood in chase.  In about a
couple of hours we were within gun-shot.  Our bow gun was fired and
returned by the enemy's stern chaser.  She then hoisted French colours
and set more sail, edging away to the southward.  At length we got up
abreast of her, and brought her to close action.  She, however, fought
well, and we soon had our braces, bowlines, and tiller-ropes shot away.
The enemy, now expecting to make us an easy prize, ran us aboard.

"Boarders away!" cried Captain Schank.  The Captain's wooden leg
preventing him from getting on board the enemy as rapidly as he wished,
Mr Duff led our men.  Scarcely, however, had he reached the ship's deck
when a pistol bullet through his head laid him low.  I was close behind
him.  Oldershaw was bringing on a fresh set of boarders.

"On, lads, on!" shouted Oldershaw.  We swept the enemy before us, and,
though they made a stout resistance, in ten minutes we had killed, or
driven below or overboard, the greater part of the crew.  The remainder,
who had escaped aft, threw down their arms and cried for quarter.  Our
prize mounted twenty-four guns, and the crew amounted to upwards of two
hundred men.  Two days afterwards we were entering Kingston Harbour with
her in triumph.  Oldershaw was appointed First-Lieutenant of the brig,
and I received an order as her Second-Lieutenant.  Soon after this, we
were ordered to proceed, with three ships of the line and two frigates,
in search of a French squadron, which had been committing depredations
on the African coast, and had just been heard of in the neighbourhood of
the West Indies.  We were delayed by a hurricane which raged over those
seas.  Fortunately we were in harbour, but some of the ships which were
outside suffered greatly.  However, as Toby Kiddle observed, "What is
sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander," and we could only hope
that the enemy had suffered in the same way.  At length, after cruising
for some time, we, being ahead, discovered a frigate, which, from the
cut of her sails, we had little doubt was French.  Signalling to our
consorts, we gave chase, keeping considerably ahead of all the rest.  In
about two hours we had got within two miles of the chase, and as we
approached still nearer we commenced firing our bow guns.  The French
frigate, hoisting her colours, returned our fire with her stern chasers.
We now shortened sail.

"If we get much nearer," said Captain Schank, "she may send us to the
bottom with one of her broadsides; but at this distance we may cripple
her and prevent her escaping."  The nearest English frigate was by this
time about three miles astern of us.  Already the Frenchman had cut up
our rigging a good deal, and at length one of her shots struck our bow
between wind and water.  It was quickly plugged, and we continued at
some distance firing away, our shot every now and then striking the
enemy, but what damage we had done we could not ascertain.  The leading
frigate was a very fast one, and was now rapidly coming up.  We, I
confess, were anxiously looking out for her, for, although prudence
might have forbade us getting nearer the enemy, our eagerness to stop
her would have made us run every risk to effect that object.  At length
the English frigate got within gun-shot of the enemy.  She opened fire
with her bow chasers.  Down came the Frenchman's flag, when once more we
made sail and hove to close to the prize.  Captain Schank ordered me to
proceed on board and take possession.  I felt, I must confess, almost as
surprised as a mouse would do at conquering a lion.  The French captain,
however, with becoming politeness though with somewhat a wry face,
presented me with his sword, and we found ourselves in possession of a
forty-four gun frigate, measuring upwards of one thousand tons, and a
crew of three hundred and fifty men.  Besides Frenchmen, there were on
board several Englishmen, who formed part of the crew of an Indiaman the
frigate had captured two days before.  Among them were the second and
third officers.  The Indiaman had been overtaken at night, and the
French ship had fired into her, and killed the captain and first officer
and a number of the crew.  The passengers who were below had happily
escaped.  The Indiaman's officers, thorough gentlemanly young fellows,
told me that they had only lost sight of the prize the day before, that
she was a slow sailer, and from the direction in which she was standing,
they had little doubt in what direction we should find her.  The
recaptured prisoners also told us whereabouts we should fall in with the
remainder of the French squadron.

We accordingly sent one of the Indiaman's officers on board the frigate,
while Captain Schank received orders from the Commodore to proceed in
search of the Indiaman.  Scarcely had we lost sight of our squadron,
which was standing in the direction the Frenchmen were supposed to be,
when it came on to blow from the north-west.  The wind rapidly increased
till it became a downright heavy gale.  Our brig, however, was a fine
sea-boat, and under close-reefed topsails rode it out bravely.  Our
chief anxiety was, however, on account of the risk we ran of losing the
Indiaman.  Still the mate was convinced that she could not have passed
to the northward of where we then were.

"She will be standing on the larboard tack, Captain Schank," he
observed; "if she sees all clear she will run through the Gut of
Gibraltar, or if not, will make for some port in the Bay of Biscay."

However, as the Atlantic is a broad highway, our hopes of falling in
with her were far from sanguine.  For three days we lay hove to, till at
length the gale moderating we once more made sail and stood to the
eastward.  A bright look-out was kept for the sight of a sail, and from
sunrise to sunset volunteers were continually going aloft, in the hopes
of being the first to see the wished-for ship.  Next morning, when it
was my watch on deck, I heard a voice from the maintopmast head
shouting:

"A dismasted ship on the weather-beam not four miles away."

I sent Esse, who was midshipman of the watch, aloft, and he corroborated
Pat Brady's statement.

Sending below to call the Captain, I kept the brig away in the direction
of the ship.  The sea was still running very high.  As daylight
increased, we could see her clearly rolling in the trough of the sea,
and in an utterly helpless condition.  For some time the mate could not
tell whether it was his own ship or not.

"Too likely," he observed, "for the Frenchman's shot had wounded some of
our masts, and she very probably lost them in the late gale."

Captain Schank and all the officers were quickly on deck, as were the
crew, and all eyes were turned to the wreck.  As we drew near, we were
left in no doubt of her being a large Indiaman; and Mr Paul, the mate,
soon recognised her as the "Yarmouth Castle," to which he had belonged.
The signal of distress was flying on the stump of her mizzen-mast.  As
we drew near, we discovered that the gale had otherwise severely handled
her.  Most of her boats were gone, and her bulwarks stove in, probably
when the masts were carried away.  As we passed a short distance to
windward of her, a person ran to the side with a large board, on which
was chalked, "Keep by us!  Sprung a leak!  Pumps choked!  Captured by
Frenchmen!"

"Ay, ay," shouted Captain Schank, and his voice borne down by the wind
probably reached them.  As we passed, several people rushed up to the
man who had shown the board, and tore it out of his hands.  This showed
us that we must be careful when going alongside, lest the Frenchmen
should attempt to beat us back.  The difficulty of communicating with
the ship was still very great, for the sea continued high and broken,
and she rolled very much.  We accordingly wore round and hove to at a
little distance, intending to wait till the sea should go down.

The mate told us that there were a great many of the English crew and
Lascars left on board, and he thought, should they make the attempt,
they would be able to retake the ship from the Frenchmen.  No attempt
was made, however, and at length, the weather moderating, a boat, of
which I took the command, was lowered, the brig being sufficiently near
at the time to fire into her, should the French prize crew offer any
resistance.

What was taking place on board the Indiaman we could not see, but just
as we got alongside several people appeared and hove ropes to us, and
assisted me with four of my men to get on board.  I observed, as I
reached the deck, that a scuffle was taking place forward, and I then
found that the passengers and some of the crew had suddenly attacked the
Frenchmen, who, it appeared, had intended manning their guns in the
hopes of beating off the brig.  Our appearance quickly gave an easy
victory to our friends.  The superior officers of the Indiaman had all
been taken out of her.  The carpenter, however, was on board, and told
me he hoped, if the pumps could be cleared and properly worked, that the
leak could be kept under.  A richly-laden Indiaman was indeed a prize
worth recovering.  The passengers had nearly all remained on board, and
expressed their gratitude for the timely succour which had been afforded
them.  The Frenchmen, finding that all hope of carrying off their prize
was gone, yielded themselves prisoners; their commanding officer, who
had, with his men, been driven forward, delivering up his sword to me.
I sent the boat with Dicky Esse back to tell Captain Schank that I
thought, with some thirty of our hands in addition to the ship's crew
whom we had on board, to be able to keep the pumps going, and to rig
jury-masts by which the ship might be safely carried to England.  Among
the passengers a gentleman was pointed out to me who had been very
active in retaking the ship from the hands of the Frenchmen.  I inquired
his name.  "Mr Bramston," was the answer.

"How strange," I thought: "and is Mrs Bramston on board?"

"Yes, sir, she is, but she is very ill, and has constantly kept her
cabin."

"Have they any children?"  I asked.

"No, none, sir," said a lady who overheard the question.  "Poor lady,
she once had a daughter, a little girl, who was lost in a very sad way,
and I do not think she has ever recovered that event."

As may be supposed I could not then ask further questions, as my entire
attention was required for the duty of the ship.  I asked Kiddle, who
accompanied me on board, what he thought of the weather.

"It's moderating, sir, and I hope we shall be able to keep the ship
afloat if we get more assistance."

The sea rapidly went down, and the men I asked for were sent on board.
The pumps were again speedily set going, and as the ship laboured less
we began to gain upon the leak.  Fortunately there was a good supply of
spars on board, and I hoped, should the weather continue moderate, to be
able to rig jury-masts the following day.  We worked hard till
nightfall, most of the Frenchmen giving their assistance at the pumps.
Indeed, had we not fallen in with them, the probabilities are that the
ship would have gone down; so that they owed their lives to us, although
they were not well-pleased at being made prisoners.  I now for the first
time was able to enter the cuddy.  Coming off the dark deck, I was
struck by the bright light of the cabin, the tables glittering with
plate and glass set for supper, well secured, as may be supposed, by the
fiddles, a number of passengers, ladies and gentlemen, being collected
round them.  They greeted me warmly, and numerous questions were put to
me as to the probability of the ship's reaching home in safety.  I
assured them that I hoped in the course of a week or so, if the wind was
favourable, that we might find ourselves in the Chops of the Channel.
"Although," I added, "you know the chances of war, but I promise you
that our brig will stick by you and fight to the last for your
protection."

I was not sorry to take my seat at table among them, as I had eaten
nothing for some hours.  The gentlemen all begged to take wine with me,
and assured me they believed that, had we not fallen in with them, the
ship would have gone down.  When Mr Bramston addressed me, I replied
that I knew his name, and asked if he came from Ceylon.

"Yes," he answered, "I have been there for many years."

I then told him that my commander, Captain Schank, had some time before
written to him on an important matter, and asked whether he had received
the letter.

"Yes," he answered, "just before I left India, and I will speak to you
by-and-by on that matter."

After supper he took me aside, and begged to know further particulars of
the death of Mr Herbert.  "Though," he remarked, "that was not the name
by which you knew him."

"Well," he said, after I had told him, "the less his poor daughter knows
of these painful circumstances the better.  I am now returning with her,
and, I am thankful to say, her health has already benefited by the
voyage.  I trust the meeting with her mother will have a beneficial
effect on her."

"I am sure it will on Mrs Lindars," I observed: "her great wish was,
that should her daughter have been taken away, she might have left some
children on whom she might bestow her long pent-up affection."

"Alas!" said Mr Bramston, "our one only child, a little daughter, was
taken from us at an early age in a very sad way.  Mrs Bramston had been
very ill, and had been advised to proceed to Madras for change of air.
An old naval friend offered her and me a passage, and I accordingly
hurried on board, leaving our child under the charge of a friend at
Colombo.  I returned as soon as possible, and finding my wife yearning
for her little one, I resolved to send her to her.  A dhow was on the
point of sailing, in which several friends had taken a passage.  I
committed our child and nurse to their charge.  The dhow never reached
her destination, and we have every reason to believe that she foundered
with all on board."

"That is indeed strange!"  I said aloud.  I stopped, for I was afraid of
raising hopes in the heart of the father which might be disappointed.
He heard me.

"What do you mean?" he asked.

"When was this?"  I inquired.

"In the month of July, in the year ---," he said.

"That is indeed wonderful," I exclaimed, scarcely able to restrain my
feelings.  "I was a child at the time," I said, "but I was on board a
frigate, which fell in with the wreck of a dhow.  The only people alive
on board were an Indian nurse and a child--a little girl.  The nurse
died; but the child was taken care of by my mother, and is now under the
protection of the family of the commander of the brig to which I belong,
Captain Schank, the officer who wrote to you on the subject of Mr
Herbert's death."

"God be praised!" exclaimed Mr Bramston.  "I cannot have the shadow of
a doubt that the little girl who was picked up by your frigate was my
daughter."

"By-the-by, I have a man with me who was on board the `Boreas' at the
time, and he can tell you even more than I can," I remarked.

Mr Bramston was eager to see him.  I sent for Kiddle.  He corroborated
my account, adding further particulars, which left no doubt whatever on
the mind of Mr Bramston that the Little Lady--my Emily--was his
daughter.

"And is she a pretty child?  Can you give me an idea of her size and
appearance?"

"Yes, she is, sir, indeed, very pretty; but you must remember she is no
longer a child; she is a young lady," I answered, feeling that my voice
was very likely to betray my feelings.

"I long to see her," exclaimed Mr Bramston.  "But I must break the
tidings gently to her mother, or the sudden joy may be too much for
her."

We were busily employed all the next day getting up jury-masts, and not
till the next evening was I able to go into the cabin.  I was then
introduced to Mrs Bramston.  I found that she was somewhat prepared for
the narration I had to give her.  The moment I saw her I was convinced
that Emily was her daughter, for the likeness was very striking.  Well,
I must cut my yarn short.  Having rigged jury-masts we made sail, and,
the wind coming to the southward, steered a course for England.  The
brig kept cruising about us like a vigilant sheep-dog, ready to do
battle with any who might interfere with his charge.  At length England
was reached, and getting leave, I accompanied my new-found friends to
Whithyford.  I will not describe the meeting of the mother and her
child, and the elder child and her mother.  One thing only made me
unhappy.  I dreaded lest Mr Bramston, who I found had made a large
fortune in India, should object to his daughter marrying a poor
lieutenant of no family.  I could not bear suspense, and so Emily and I
told him that we were engaged, and she added that she should break her
heart if she were not allowed to marry me.  Mr Bramston smiled.

"You are rather young to think of such matters now," he said, "but when
my friend here becomes a commander, if you are still in the same mind, I
promise you that neither your mother nor I will object."

In the course of two years I did become a commander.  We were in the
same mind and married.  I stuck to my profession, however, was posted,
got the command of a dashing frigate, in which I did good service to my
country, and am now a KCB with my flag in prospect.





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