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´╗┐Title: Paddy Finn
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 "Paddy Finn" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



Paddy Finn, by W H G Kingston.

________________________________________________________________________

This is one of Kingston's longest adventure stories, but possibly also
one of his best.  The eponymous hero is tracked through his time at sea
as a midshipman.  Exciting events follow on each other's heels, fast and
furious.  Very well written, showing the extraordinary depth of
knowledge that the author possessed. You will definitely enjoy reading
it, if you enjoy this genre at all.  You may care to listen to it
instead, in which case it makes an excellent audiobook.

________________________________________________________________________

PADDY FINN, BY W H G KINGSTON.



CHAPTER ONE.

THE HOME OF MY ANCESTORS.

"The top of the morning to you, Terence," cried the major, looking down
upon me from the window of his bedroom.

I was standing in front of the castle of Ballinahone--the seat of the
O'Finnahans, my ancestors--on the banks of the beautiful Shannon,
enjoying the fresh air of the early morning.

"Send Larry up, will you, with a jug of warm water for shaving; and,
while I think of it, tell Biddy to brew me a cup of hot coffee.  It will
be some time before breakfast is ready, and my hand isn't as steady as
it once was till I've put something into my inside."

The old house had not been provided with bells for summoning the
attendants; a loud shout, a clap of the hands, or the clatter of
fire-irons, answering the purpose.

"Shure, Larry was sent to meet the postboy, uncle, and I'll be after
taking you up the warm water; but Biddy maybe will not have come in from
milking the cows, so if Dan Bourke is awake, and will give me the key of
the cellar, mightn't I be bringing you up a glass of whisky?"  I asked,
knowing the taste of most of the guests at the castle.

"Arrah, boy, don't be tempting me!" cried the major in a half-angry
tone; "that morning nip is the bane of too many of us.  Go and do as I
bid you."

I was about entering the house to perform the duty I had undertaken,
when I caught sight of my foster-brother, Larry Harrigan, galloping up
the avenue, mounted on the bare back of a shaggy little pony, its mane
and tail streaming in the breeze.

"Hurrah! hurrah! yer honour; I've got it," he cried, as he waved a
letter above his carroty and hatless pate.  "I wouldn't have been after
getting it at all, at all, for the spalpeen of a postboy wanted tinpence
before he would give it me, but sorra a copper had I in my pocket, and I
should have had to come away without it, if Mr McCarthy, the bailiff,
hadn't been riding by, and paid the money for me."

I took the letter; and telling Larry, after he had turned the pony into
the yard, to bring up the warm water and the cup of hot coffee, I
hurried, with the official-looking document in my hand, up to my uncle's
room.  He met me at the door, dressed in his trousers and shirt, his
shirt-sleeves tucked up in order to perform his ablutions, exhibiting
his brawny arms, scarred with many a wound,--his grizzled hair uncombed,
his tall figure looking even more gaunt than usual without the military
coat in which I was accustomed to see him.  He eagerly took the letter.

"Come in, my boy, and sit down on the foot of the bed while I see what
my friend Macnamara writes in answer to my request," he said, as he
broke the seal, and with a deliberation which didn't suit my eagerness,
opened a large sheet of foolscap paper, which he held up to the light
that he might read it more easily.

While he was thus engaged, Larry brought up the warm water and the cup
of steaming coffee, and, with a look at the major's back which betokened
anything but respect, because it was not a glass of whisky, placed the
jug and cup on the table.  Larry was, I must own, as odd-looking an
individual as ever played the part of valet.  His shock head of hair was
unacquainted with comb or brush; his grey coat reached to his calves;
his breeches were open at the knees; his green waistcoat, too short to
reach the latter garment, was buttoned awry; huge brogues encased his
feet, and a red handkerchief, big enough to serve as the royal of a
frigate, was tied loosely round his neck.  He stood waiting for further
orders, when the major, turning round to take a sip of coffee, by a sign
bade him begone, and he vanished.

Major McMahon, my mother's uncle, was an old officer, who, having seen
much service for the better part of half a century,--his sword being his
only patrimony,--on retiring from the army had come to live with us at
Castle Ballinahone when I was a mere slip of a boy.  Knowing the world
well,--having been taught prudence by experience, though he had never
managed to save any of his pay or prize-money, and was as poor as when
he first carried the colours,--he was of the greatest service to my
father, who, like many another Irish gentleman of those days, knew
nothing of the world, and possessed but a small modicum of the quality I
have mentioned.  The major, seeing the way matters were going at Castle
Ballinahone, endeavoured to set an example of sobriety to the rest of
the establishment by abstaining altogether from his once favourite
beverage of rum shrub and whisky punch, although he had a head which the
strongest liquor would have failed to affect, and he was therefore well
able to manage everything on the estate with prudence, and as much
economy as the honour of the family would allow.  My father was an Irish
gentleman, every inch of him.  He delighted to keep up the habits and
customs of the country, which, to say the best of them, were not
calculated to serve his own interests or those of his family.  He was
kind-hearted and generous; and if it had not been for the rum shrub, and
whisky-toddy, and the hogsheads of claret which found their way into his
cellar, and thence into his own and his guests' insides, he would have
been happy and prosperous, with few cares to darken his doors.  But the
liquor, however good in itself, proved a treacherous friend, as it
served him a scurvy trick in return for the affection he had shown to
it, leaving him a martyr to the gout, which, while it held sway over
him, soured his otherwise joyous and happy spirits.  It made him
occasionally seem harsh even to us, though he was in the main one of the
kindest and most indulgent of fathers.  He was proud of his family, of
his estate,--or what remained of it,--of his children, and, more than
all, of his wife; and just reason he had to be so of the latter, for she
was as excellent a mother as ever breathed, with all the attractive
qualities of an Irish lady.  That means a mighty deal; for I have since
roamed the world over, and never have I found any of their sex to
surpass my fair countrywomen.

I must describe our family mansion.  Enough of the old building remained
to allow it still to be called a castle.  A round tower or keep, with
two of the ancient walls surmounted by battlements, stood as they had
done for centuries, when the castle had often defied a hostile force;
but the larger portion had been pulled down and replaced by a plain
structure, more commodious, perhaps, but as ugly as could well be
designed.  Round it ran a moat, over which was a drawbridge,--no longer
capable of being drawn up,--while a flight of stone steps led to the
entrance door, ungraced by a porch.  The large hall, the walls of which
were merely whitewashed, with a roof of plain oak, had from its size an
imposing appearance.  The walls of the hall were decked with firearms,--
muskets, pistols, arquebuses, blunderbusses,--pikes, and halberts,
symmetrically arranged in stars or other devices; stags' horns,
outstretched eagles' wings, extended skins of kites, owls, and
king-fishers, together with foxes' brushes, powder-flasks, shot-pouches,
fishing-rods, nets, and dogs' collars; while in the corners stood four
figures, clothed in complete suits of armour, with lances in their
hands, or arquebuses on their arms.

Over the front door were the skin and wings of an enormous eagle,
holding a dagger in its mouth,--the device of our family.  A similar
device in red brick-work was to be seen on the wall above the entrance
on the outside.  Paint had been sparsely used,--paper not at all,--many
of the rooms being merely whitewashed, though the more important were
wainscotted with brown oak, and others with plain deal on which the
scions of our race had for several generations exercised their artistic
skill, either with knives, hot irons, or chalk.  The breakfast and
dining-rooms, which opened from the great hall, were wainscotted, their
chief embellishments being some old pictures in black frames, and a
number of hunting, shooting, and racing prints, with red tape round them
to serve the purpose of frames; while the library so-called was worthy
of being the habitation of an ascetic monk, though two of the walls were
covered with book-shelves which contained but few books, and they served
chiefly to enable countless spiders to form their traps for unwary
flies, while a table covered with green cloth and three wooden chairs
formed its only furniture.

The bedrooms were numerous enough to accommodate the whole of our large
family, and an almost unlimited number of guests, who, on grand
occasions, were stowed away in them, crop and heels.  The less said
about the elegance of the furniture the better; or of the tea and
breakfast services, which might once have been uniform, but, as most of
the various pieces had gone the way of all crockery, others of every
description of size and shape had taken their places, till scarcely two
were alike; but that didn't detract from our happiness or the pleasure
of our guests, who, probably from their own services being in the same
condition, scarcely noticed this.

I had long had a desire to go to sea, partly from reading Captain
Berkeley's _History of the Navy_, _Robinson Crusoe_, and the _Adventures
of Peter Wilkins_, and partly from taking an occasional cruise on the
Shannon,--that queen of rivers, which ran her course past the walls of
Ballinahone, to mingle with the ocean, through the fair city of
Limerick.

Often had I stood on the banks, watching the boats gliding down on the
swift current, and listening to the songs of the fishermen, which came
from far away up the stream!

I had, as most boys would have done, talked to my mother, and pestered
my father and uncle, till the latter agreed to write to an old friend of
his in the navy to consult him as to the best means of enabling me to
gratify my wishes.

But I have been going ahead to talk of my family, forgetful of my
honoured uncle, the major.  He conned the letter, holding it in his two
hands, now in one light, now in another, knitting his thick grey
eyebrows to see the better, and compressing his lips.  I watched him all
the time, anxious to learn the contents, and yet knowing full well that
it would not do to interrupt him.  At last he came to the bottom of the
page.

"It's just like him!" he exclaimed.  "Terence, my boy, you'll have the
honour of wearing His Majesty's uniform, as I have done for many a long
year, though yours will be blue and mine is red; and you'll bring no
discredit on your cloth, I'll be your surety for it."

"Thank you, uncle, for your good opinion of me," I said.  "And am I
really to become a midshipman, and wear a cockade in my hat, and a dirk
by my side?"

"Within a few days you may be enjoying that happiness, my boy," answered
the major.  "My old friend, Captain Macnamara, writes me word that he'll
receive you on board the _Liffy_ frigate, which, by a combination of
circumstances, is now lying in Cork Harbour,--fortunate for us, but
which might have proved disastrous to her gallant officers and crew, for
she was dismasted in a gale, and was within an ace of being driven on
shore.  But a miss is as good as a mile; and when under jury-masts she
scraped clear of the rocks, and got into port in safety.  Here my
letter, after wandering about for many a day, found him, and he has lost
no time in replying to it.  One of his midshipmen having gone overboard
in the gale, he can give you his berth; but mind you, Terence, don't go
and be doing the same thing."

"Not if I can help it, uncle," I replied.  "And Larry? will he take
Larry?  The boy has set his heart upon going to sea, and it would be
after breaking if he were parted from me.  He has been talking about it
every day since he knew that I thought of going; and I promised him I
would beg hard that he might go with me."

"As Captain Macnamara says that the _Liffy_ has had several men killed
in action, I have no doubt that a stout lad like Larry will not be
refused; so you may tell him that when he volunteers, I'll answer for
his being accepted," was the answer.

"Thank you, uncle; it will make him sing at the top of his voice when he
hears that," I said.  "And when are we to be off?"

"To-morrow, or the day after, at the furthest," answered the major.  "I
intend to go with you to introduce you to your captain, and to have a
talk with him over old times."

"Then may I run and tell my father and mother, and Maurice, and Denis,
and the girls?"

"To be sure, boy; but you mustn't be surprised if they are not as
delighted to hear of your going, as you are to go," he answered, as I
bolted out of the room.

I found my brothers turning out of bed, and gave them a full account of
the captain's letter.  They took the matter coolly.

"I wish you joy," said Maurice, who was expecting shortly to get his
commission in our uncle's old regiment.  I then went to the girls, who
were by this time dressed.  Kathleen and Nora congratulated me warmly.

"And shure are you going to be a real midshipman?" said Nora.  "I wish I
was a boy myself, that I might go to sea, and pull, and haul, and dance
a hornpipe."

They, at all events, didn't seem so much cast down as my uncle supposed
they would be.  My father had just been wheeled out of his chamber into
the breakfast room, for he was suffering from an attack of his sworn
enemy.

"Keep up the honour of the O'Finnahans, my boy; and you'll only do that
by performing your duty," he said, patting me on the back,--for shaking
hands was a ceremony he was unwilling to venture on with his gouty
fingers.

My mother was later than usual.  I hurried off to her room.  As she
listened to my account her eyes were fixed on me till they became filled
with tears.

"You have chosen a rough life, Terence; but may God protect you," she
said, throwing her arms round my neck, and kissing my brow.  "I could
not prevent your going even if I would, as your uncle has accepted
Captain Macnamara's offer; for a profession you must have, and it is a
fine one, I've no doubt.  But wherever you go, my dear boy, remember
that the thoughts of those at home will be following you."

More she said to the same effect.  When she at length released me, I
hurried out to tell Larry, Dan Bourke, and the rest of the domestics.
At first Larry looked very downcast; but when he heard that he was to go
too, he gave expression to his joy in a wild shout, which rang through
the kitchen.  Biddy, the cook, and the other females were not so heroic
as my sisters, for they began to pipe their eyes in a way I couldn't
stand, so I ran off to the breakfast room; whether it was at the
thoughts of losing Larry or me, I didn't stop to consider.  My speedy
departure to become a son of Neptune was the only subject of
conversation during the morning meal.  It was agreed that to enable me
to make a respectable appearance on board His Majesty's frigate, I ought
to be provided with a uniform; and a message was despatched to Pat
Cassidy, the family tailor, to appear forthwith, and exercise his skill
in manufacturing the necessary costume.  The major, who had frequently
been at sea, believed that he could give directions for shaping the
garments correctly; and as all were agreed that blue was the required
colour, he presented me with a cloth cloak, which, though it had seen
some service, was considered suitable for the purpose.

Pat Cassidy soon arrived with his shears and tape; and being installed
in a little room, where he was sure of not being interrupted, took my
measure, and set to work, under the major's directions, to cut out and
stitch a coat and breeches in what was considered approved nautical
fashion.  The difficulty was the buttons; but my mother fortunately
discovered a moth-eaten coat and waistcoat of a naval lieutenant, a
relative, who had paid a visit to Castle Ballinahone many years before,
and, having been killed in action shortly afterwards, had never returned
to claim his garments.  There being fewer buttons than the major
considered necessary, Pat Cassidy proposed eking them out with a few
military ones sewn on in the less conspicuous parts.  Meantime, my
mother and sisters and the maids were as busily engaged in preparing the
rest of my kit, carrying off several of my brothers' shirts and
stockings, which they faithfully promised in due time to replace.
"Where there's a will there's a way," and before night, Pat Cassidy,
aided by the busy maids, had performed his task, as had my mother and
sisters theirs; and it was considered that I was fairly fitted out for
my new career, the major promising to get for me at Cork such other
things as I might require.

With intense satisfaction I put on my uniform, of which, though the gold
lace was somewhat tarnished, and the buttons not over bright, I was
mightily proud.  My father presented me with a sword, which had been my
grandfather's.  It was of antique make, and, being somewhat rusty, was
evidently unwilling to leave the scabbard.  Nora, notwithstanding,
proudly girded it on my side by a broad leathern belt with a huge silver
clasp, which I thought had a very handsome appearance.  I little dreamed
that my costume was not altogether according to the rules and
regulations of the naval service.  The coat was long in the waist, and
longer in the skirts, which were looped back with gold lace, Pat having
also surrounded the cuffs with a band of the same material.  The inside
was lined with white silk, and there were patches of white cloth on the
collar.  The waistcoat, which came down to my hips, was of flowered
silk, made out of one of my great-grandmother's petticoats, which had
long been laid by, and was now by unanimous consent devoted to my use.
The breeches were very full, Pat observing that I should be after
growing rapidly on the salt sea, and would require room in them.  White
cotton stockings covered the lower part of my legs, and huge silver
buckles adorned my shoes; a cockade, manufactured by my uncle, was stuck
in my hat; while a frilled shirt and red silk handkerchief tied round my
neck completed my elegant costume.  Having once donned my uniform,--if
so it could be called,--I was unwilling to take it off again; and,
highly delighted with my appearance, I paced about the hall for some
time.  My father watched me, while he laughed till the tears streamed
from his eyes to see me draw my sword and make an onslaught on one of
the mailed warriors in the corner.

"Hurrah, Terence!  Bravo! bravo!" cried Maurice.  "But just be after
remembering that a live enemy won't stand so quiet as old Brian Boru
there."

The toils of the day over, my father, in spite of his gout, was wheeled
into the supper room, when he, in a glass of the strongest whisky-toddy,
and my uncle in one of old claret, drank my health and success in the
naval career I was about to enter, my brothers joining them in other
beverages; and I am very sure that my fond mother more effectually
prayed that I might be protected from the perils and dangers to which I
should be exposed.



CHAPTER TWO.

I COMMENCE MY JOURNEY TO CORK.

It was on a fine spring morning, the birds carolling sweetly in the
trees, that I set forth, accompanied by my uncle and Larry Harrigan, to
commence my career on the stormy ocean.  My father had been wheeled to
the hall door, my mother stood by his side with her handkerchief to her
eyes, my sisters grouped round her, my brothers outside tossing up their
hats as they shouted their farewells,--their example being imitated by
the domestics and other retainers of the house.  The major rode a strong
horse suitable to his weight.  He was dressed in his red long-skirted,
gold-laced coat, boots reaching above his knees, large silver spurs,
three-cornered hat on the top of his wig, with a curl on each side, his
natural hair being plaited into a queue behind.  A brace of pistols was
stuck in his leathern belt, while a sword, with the hilt richly
ornamented,--the thing he prized most on earth, it having been presented
to him for his gallantry at the capture of an enemy's fort, when he led
the forlorn hope,--hung by his side.  I was mounted on my own horse, my
legs for the journey being encased in boots.  A cloak was hung over my
shoulders; I also had a brace of pistols--the gift of my brother
Maurice--in my belt; while in my hand I carried a heavy riding-whip, as
did my uncle, serving both to urge on our steeds, and to defend
ourselves against the sudden attack of an unexpected foe.  Larry
followed on a pony, with uncombed mane and tail, its coat as shaggy as a
bear's; his only weapon a shillelah; his dress such as he usually wore
on Sundays and holidays.  I need not describe the partings which had
previously taken place.  The major gave the word "Forward!" and we
trotted down the avenue at a rapid rate.  I could not refrain from
giving a lingering look behind.  My sisters waved their handkerchiefs;
my mother had too much use for hers to do so; my brothers cheered again
and again; and I saw Larry half pulled from his pony, as his
fellow-servants gripped him by the hands; and two or three damsels, more
demonstrative than the rest, ran forward to receive his parting salutes.
My chest, I should have said, was to come by the waggon, which would
arrive at Cork long before the ship sailed.  The more requisite
articles, such as changes of linen and spare shoes, were packed in
valises strapped to Larry's and my cruppers; while the major carried
such things as he required in his saddle-bags.  We soon lost sight of
the Shannon, and the top of the castle tower appearing above the trees.
For some time we rode on in silence, but as neither my respected
relative nor I were accustomed to hold our tongues, we soon let them wag
freely.  He talked as we rode on in his usual hearty way, giving me
accounts of his adventures in many lands.  Larry kept behind us, not
presuming to come up and join in the conversation.  He was of too happy
a spirit to mind riding alone, while he relieved himself by cracking
jokes with the passers-by.  I have spoken of his warm affection for me.
He also--notwithstanding his rough outside--possessed a talent for
music, and could not only sing a capital song, but had learned to play
the violin from an old fiddler, Peter McLeary, who had presented him
with an instrument, which he valued like the apple of his eye.  He now
carried it in its case, strapped carefully on behind him.  We rode on
too fast to allow of his playing it, as I have seen him do on horseback
many a time, when coming from marriages or wakes, where he was
consequently in great request.  We made a long day's journey, having
rested a couple of hours to bait our horses; and not reaching the town
of Kilmore till long after sundown.

The assizes were taking place.  The judge and lawyers, soldiers, police,
and witnesses, filled every house in the town.  Consequently the only
inn at which we could hope to obtain accommodation was crowded.  All the
guests had retired to their rooms; but the landlady, Mrs Mccarthy, who
knew my uncle, undertook to put us up.  Larry took the horses round to
the stables, where he would find his sleeping place, and we entered the
common room.  Mrs McCarthy was the only person in the establishment who
seemed to have any of her wits about her.  The rest of the inmates who
were still on foot had evidently imbibed a larger amount of the potheen
than their heads could stand, she herself being even more genial than
usual.

"Shure, major dear, there are two gentlemen of the bar up-stairs who
don't know their feet from their heads; and as your honour will be
rising early to continue your journey, we'll just tumble them out on the
floor, and you can take their bed.  We'll put them back again before
they wake in the morning; or if we're after forgetting it, they'll only
think they have rolled out of their own accord, and nobody'll be blamed,
or they be the worse for it; and they'll have reason to be thankful,
seeing that if they had really tumbled on the floor, they might have
broken their necks."

My uncle, who would on no account agree to this hospitable proposal,
insisted on sitting up in an arm-chair, with his legs on another,
assuring Mrs McCarthy that he had passed many a night with worse
accommodation.

"Shure, then, the young gentleman must go to bed," observed the hostess.
"There's one I've got for him in the kitchen,--a little snug cupboard
by the fireside; and shure he'll there be as warm and comfortable as a
mouse in its hole."

To this the major agreed, as the bed was not big enough for both of us,
and indeed was too short for him.

Supper being ended, my uncle composed himself in the position he
intended to occupy, with his cloak wrapped round him, and I accompanied
Mrs McCarthy into the kitchen, which was in a delightful state of
disorder.  She here let down, from a little niche in which it was
folded, a small cupboard-bed, on which, though the sheets and blankets
were not very clean, I was not sorry to contemplate a night's rest.  The
landlady, wishing me good-night, withdrew to her own quarters.  Molly,
the maid-servant, I should have said, long before this, overcome by the
sips she had taken at the invitation of the guests, was stowed away in a
corner somewhere out of sight.

Pulling off my boots and laced coat and waistcoat, which I stowed for
safe keeping under the pillow, I turned into bed by the light of the
expiring embers of the fire, and in a few seconds afterwards was fast
asleep.  I was not conscious of waking for a single moment during the
night; and had I been called, should have said that only a few minutes
had passed since I had closed my eyes, when, to my horror, all at once I
found myself in a state of suffocation, with my head downwards, pressed
closely between the bolster and pillow, and my feet in the air.  Every
moment I thought would be my last.  I struggled as violently as my
confined position would allow, unable, in my confusion, to conceive
where I was, or what had happened.  I in vain tried to shout out; when I
opened my mouth, the feather pillow filled it, and no sound escaped.  I
felt much as, I suppose, a person does drowning.  Thoughts of all sorts
rushed into my mind, and I believed that I was doomed to an ignominious
exit from this sublunary scene, when suddenly there came a crash, and,
shot out into the middle of the room, I lay sprawling on the floor,
unable to rise or help myself, my head feeling as if all the blood in my
body had rushed into it.  The button which had kept the foot of the
shut-up-bed in its place had given way.

"Murder! murder!"  I shouted out, believing that some diabolical attempt
had been made to take my life.

"Murther! murther!" echoed Molly, who, broom in hand, was engaged at the
further end of the kitchen.  "Och, somebody has been kilt entirely."
And, frightened at the spectacle I exhibited, she rushed out of the room
to obtain assistance.

My cries and hers had aroused Mrs Mccarthy, who rushed in, followed by
the waiting-man and my uncle, who, gazing at me as I lay on the floor,
and seeing that I was almost black in the face, ordered one of the
servants to run off for the apothecary, to bleed me.  In the meantime,
Mrs Mccarthy had hurried out for a pitcher of cold water.  Having
dashed some over my face, she poured out several glasses, which I
swallowed one after the other, and by the time the apothecary had
arrived had so far recovered as to be able to dispense with his
services.  Molly confessed to having got up at daylight, and begun to
set matters to rights in the kitchen; and, not observing me, supposing
that her mistress--who usually occupied the bed--had risen, she had
hoisted it up into its niche, and had turned the button at the top to
keep it in its place.  Had not the button given way, my adventures, I
suspect, would have come to an untimely termination.

Having performed my ablutions, with the assistance of Mrs McCarthy, in
a basin of cold water, I was perfectly ready for breakfast, and very
little the worse for what had happened.  Our meal was a hearty one, for
my uncle, like an old soldier, made it a rule to stow away on such
occasions a liberal supply of provisions, which might last him, if needs
be, for the remainder of the day, or far into the next.

Breakfast over, he ordered round the horses, and we recommenced our
journey.  After riding some distance, on turning round, I perceived that
Larry was not following us.

"He knows the road we're going, and will soon overtake us," said my
uncle.

We rode on and on, however, and yet Larry didn't appear.  I began to
feel uneasy, and at last proposed turning back to ascertain if any
accident had happened to him.  He would surely not have remained behind
of his own free will.  He had appeared perfectly sober when he brought
me my horse to mount; besides which, I had never known Larry drunk in
his life,--which was saying a great deal in his favour, considering the
example he had had set him by high and low around.

"We'll ride on slowly, and if he doesn't catch us up we'll turn back to
look for the spalpeen, though the delay will be provoking," observed the
major.

Still Larry did not heave in sight.

The country we were now traversing was as wild as any in Ireland.  High
hills on one side with tall trees, and more hills on the other,
completely enclosed the road, so that it often appeared as if there was
no outlet ahead.  The road itself was rough in the extreme, scarcely
allowing of the passage of a four-wheeled vehicle; indeed, our horses
had in some places to pick their way, and rapid movement was
impossible--unless at the risk of breaking the rider's neck, or his
horse's knees.  Those celebrated lines had not been written:--

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

I had, however, been used to ground of all sorts, and was not to be
stopped by such trifling impediments as rocks, bushes, stone walls, or
streams.

"Something must have delayed Larry," I said at length.  "Let me go back,
uncle, and find him, while you ride slowly on."

"No, I'll go with you, Terence.  We shall have to make a short journey
instead of a long one, if the gossoon has been detained in Kilmore; and
I haven't clapped eyes on him since we left the town."

We were on the point of turning our horses' heads to go back, when
suddenly, from behind the bushes and rocks on either side of the road, a
score of ruffianly-looking fellows, dressed in the ordinary costume of
Irish peasants, rushed out and sprang towards us, some threatening to
seize our reins, and others pointing muskets, blunderbusses, and pistols
at us.  Those not possessing these weapons were armed with shillelahs.
One of the fellows, with long black hair and bushy beard,--a hideous
squint adding to the ferocity of his appearance,--advanced with a
horse-pistol in one hand, the other outstretched as if to seize the
major's rein.  At the same time a short but strongly-built ruffian, with
a humpback, sprang towards me, evidently intending to drag me off my
horse, or to haul the animal away, so that I might be separated from my
companion.

"Keep close to my side, Terence," he said in a low voice.  "Out with
your pistol, and cover that villain approaching."

At the moment, as he spoke, his sword flashed in the sunlight, and with
the back of the blade he struck up the weapon of his assailant, which
exploded in the air.  He was about to bring down the sharp edge on the
fellow's head, when a dozen others, with shrieks and shouts, rushed
towards us, some forcing themselves in between our horses, while others,
keeping on the other side of the major, seized his arms at the risk of
being cut down.  Several grasped his legs and stirrups.  His horse
plunged and reared, but they nimbly avoided the animal's heels.  Two of
the gang held the horse's head down by the reins, while an attempt was
made to drag the rider from his seat.  They doubtless thought if they
could master him, that I should become an easy prey.  Their object, I
concluded, was to make us prisoners, rather than to take our lives,
which they might have done at any moment by shooting us with their
firearms.  Still our position was very far from an agreeable one.  My
uncle, who had not spoken another word, firmly kept his seat,
notwithstanding the efforts of the ruffian crew to pull him off his
saddle.  In the meantime, the hunchback, whose task, it seemed, was to
secure me, came on, fixing his fierce little eyes on my pistol, which I
fancied was pointed at his head.

"If you come an inch further, I'll fire," I cried out.

He answered by a derisive laugh, followed by an unearthly shriek, given
apparently to unnerve me; and then, as he saw my finger on the trigger,
he ducked his head, as if about to spring into the water.  The pistol
went off, the bullet passing above him.  The next instant, rising and
springing forward, he clutched my throat, while another fellow caught
hold of my rein.



CHAPTER THREE.

WE MEET WITH FURTHER ADVENTURES.

In spite of my uncle's skill as a swordsman, and the pistols, on which I
had placed so much reliance, we were overpowered before we could strike
a blow in our own defence, and were completely at the mercy of our
assailants.  The major, however, all the time didn't lose his coolness
and self-possession.

"What are you about to do, boys?" he asked.  "You have mistaken us for
others.  We are travellers bound to Cork, not wishing to interfere with
you or any one else."

"We know you well enough, Major McMahon," answered the leader of the
gang.  "If you're not the man we want, you'll serve our purpose.  But
understand, we'll have no nonsense.  If you come peaceably we'll not
harm you; we bear you no grudge.  But if you make further resistance, or
attempt to escape, you must take the consequences; we care no more for a
man's life than we do for that of a calf."  The ruffian thundered out
the last words at the top of his voice.

"Who are you, my friend, who talk so boldly?" asked the major.

"If you want to know, I'm Dan Hoolan himself, and you may have heard of
my doings throughout the country."

"I have heard of a scoundrel of that name, who has murdered a few
helpless people, and who is the terror of old women; but whether or not
you're the man, is more than I can say," answered the major in a
scornful tone.

"Blood and 'ounds, is that the way you speak to me?" cried Hoolan, for
there could be no doubt that he was the notorious outlaw.  "I'll soon be
after showing you that it's not only women I frighten.  Bring these
fine-coated gentlemen along, boys, and we'll set them dangling to a
branch of Saint Bridget's oak, to teach their likes better manners.
Och, boys, it'll be rare fun to see them kick their legs in the air,
till their sowls have gone back to where they came from."

I fully believed the outlaws were going to treat us as their leader
proposed.

"You dare do nothing of the sort, boys," said my uncle.

"You know well enough that if you ill-treat us there will be a hue and
cry after you, and that before many weeks have passed by, one and all of
you will be caught and gibbeted."

"That's more aisy to say than to do," answered Hoolan.

"Bring them along, boys; and mind you don't let them escape you."

"Sorra's the chance of that," cried the men, hanging on tighter to our
legs.  We were thus led forward, still being allowed to keep our seats
in our saddles, but without a chance of effecting our escape, though I
observed that my uncle's eye was ranging round to see what could be
done.  He looked down on me.  I daresay I was paler than usual, though I
did my best to imitate his coolness.

"Keep up your spirits, Terence," he said.  "I don't believe that those
fellows intend to carry out their threats.  Though why they have made us
prisoners is beyond my comprehension."

Some of our captors growled out something, but what it was I could not
understand, though I think it was a hint to the major and me to hold our
tongues.  The hunchback kept close to me, having released my throat, and
merely held on to me by one of my legs.  Hoolan himself stalked at our
head, with the pistol, which he had reloaded, in his hand.  The men
talked among themselves in their native Irish, but didn't address
another word to us.  They seemed eager to push on, but the character of
the road prevented our moving out of a foot's pace.  On and on we went,
till we saw a group of large trees ahead.  Hoolan pointed to them with a
significant gesture.  His followers, with loud shouts, hurried us
forward.  I now observed that two of them had coils of rope under their
arms.  They were of no great strength, but sufficient to bear the weight
of an ordinary man.  We quickly reached the trees, when the outlaws made
us dismount under one, which, I remarked, had a wide extending bough,
about fifteen feet from the ground.  My uncle now began to look more
serious than before, as if, for the first time, he really believed that
our captors would carry out their threats.

"Terence, we must try and free ourselves from these ruffians," he said.
"I have no care for myself, but I don't want your young life to be taken
from you.  Keep your eyes about you, and if you can manage to spring
into your saddle, don't pull rein until you have put a good distance
between yourself and them."

"I could not think of going, and leaving you in the hands of the
ruffians, Uncle McMahon," I answered.  "I'll beg them to spare your
life, and will promise them any reward they may demand,--a hundred, or
two hundred pounds.  Surely they would rather have the money than take
your life."

"Don't promise them anything of the sort," he said.  "If they were to
obtain it, they would be seizing every gentleman they could get hold of.
Their object is not money, or they would have robbed us before this.
Do as I tell you, and be on the watch to escape while they are trying to
hang me.  I'll take care to give you a good chance."

While he was speaking they were throwing the ropes over the bough, and
ostentatiously making nooses at the end of each of them.  They were not
very expert, and failed several times in throwing the other end over the
bough.  The ends of each of the ropes were grasped by three men, who
looked savagely at us, as if they were especially anxious to see our
necks in the opposite nooses, and apparently only waiting the order from
their chief.

"If you have prayers to say, you had better say them now," cried the
leader of the outlaws.

"It's time to speak to you now, Dan Hoolan," said my uncle, as if he had
not heard the last remark.  "Whether you really intend to hang us or
not, I can't say; but if you do, vengeance is sure to overtake you.  To
kill an old man would be a dastardly deed, but doubly accursed would you
be should you deprive a young lad like this of his life.  If you have no
pity on me, have regard to your own soul.  There's not a priest in the
land who would give you absolution."

"Hould there, and don't speak another word," shouted Hoolan.  "I have
given you the chance of praying, and you wouldn't take it, so it's
yourselves will have to answer for it.  Quick, boys, bring them along."

Our captors were leading us forward, and, as I had no wish to lose my
life, I was looking out for an opportunity of obeying my uncle's
instructions, when, with a strength which those who held him could not
have supposed he possessed, knocking down one on either side, he threw
himself upon Hoolan, who, not expecting such an attack, was brought to
the ground.  At the same moment the major, drawing a knife which the
ruffian had in his belt, held it as if to strike him to the heart.  The
hunchback, seeing the danger of his leader, regardless of me, rushed
forward to his assistance; when, finding myself at liberty, I darted
towards my horse, which was held by one only of the men, who, eagerly
watching the strife, did not observe me.  Twisting his shillelah from
his hands, and snatching the reins, I was in a moment in the saddle; but
I had no intention of deserting my uncle.  Firmly grasping the
shillelah, I laid it about the heads of the men who were on the point of
seizing the major.  Hoolan, however, was completely at his mercy; and
had they ventured to touch him, one blow of the knife would have ended
the villain's life, though probably his companions would have revenged
his death by shooting us the moment after.  But just then loud shouts
were heard in the distance, and a party of men on horseback, whom no one
had observed, were seen galloping at a tearing rate towards us.

"Hoora! hoora!  Tim Phelan's gained his cause!" shouted a horseman.
"He's proved an alibi, and been set free by the judge."

Our captors, on hearing the shouts, turned to greet the new-comers,
forgetting for the moment their previous intention and their leader, who
lay on the ground, the major still holding his knife at his throat.
Presently, who should I see riding out from the crowd but Larry Harrigan
himself.

"Thunder and 'ounds!" he exclaimed.  "What were they going to do to you?
Shure I never thought they'd have ventured on that."

He now came up to Hoolan with my uncle bending over him.

"Spare his life, major dear," he exclaimed.  "He never intended to kill
you; and if you'll let him go I'll tell your honour all about it by and
by."

"Is this the case, Dan Hoolan?" asked my uncle.  "On your soul, man, did
you not intend to put your threat into execution?"

"No, I didn't, as I'm a living man," said the outlaw, as, released by my
uncle, he rose to his feet.

"I'll tell your honour.  I wanted to see how you and your young nephew
would face the death I threatened; and I intended at the last moment to
release you both if you would promise to take a message to the judge who
was trying Tim Phelan, swearing that he was free of the murder of Mick
Purcell, and knows no more about it than a babe unborn; for there's one
amongst us who did the deed, and they may catch him if they can."

This announcement completely changed the aspect of affairs.  The outlaws
brought us our horses, and with many apologies for the trouble they had
given us, assisted us to mount.

"I'm not the man to harbour ill-feeling against any one," said the
major, turning to the crowd of apparently humble-looking peasants.
"But, my boys, I'd advise you to follow a better calling without delay.
And now I'll wish you good morning.  If we ever meet again, may it be
under pleasanter circumstances."

Though the greater part of those present didn't understand what he said,
the rest interpreted it in their own fashion: the outlaws and the
new-comers raising a loud cheer, we rode off, followed by Larry, and
continued our journey as if nothing particular had occurred.

"And what made you keep behind us, Larry?" asked my uncle, who summoned
him up alongside.

"I'll tell your honour," answered Larry.  I was sleeping in the stables
after I'd attended to the horses, when I heard three or four boys
talking together; so I opened my eyes to listen, seeing it was something
curious they were saying.  I soon found that they were talking about Tim
Phelan, who was to be tried in the morning.  I thin recollected that Tim
was my father's second cousin's nephew, and so of course I felt an
interest in the fate of the boy.

"Says one to the other, `If the alibi isn't proved, shure we're bound in
honour to try and rescue him.'

"`There are a hundred at least of us bound to do the same,' answered the
other, `and of course we'll find many more to help if we once begin.'

"`Thin I'll be one of them,' I cried out, starting up without thinking
that yer honour would be wanting me to continue the journey this
morning.  Blood is stronger than water, as yer know, major dear, and
with the thought of rescuing Tim Phelan, I forgot everything else.  When
I joined the boys, I found a dozen or more met together, and they made
me swear a mighty big oath that I would stick to them till Tim Phelan
was acquitted or set free if condemned.  So when the morning came, I
knew that I could overtake yer honour and Maisther Terence by making my
baste move along after the trial was over.  As soon as yer honour had
started, I went back to my friends, and after some time, while talking
to them, I heard that Dan Hoolan was on the road to carry out another
plan of his own, in case Tim should be condemned.  What it was I didn't
find out for some time, when one of the boys tauld me that Dan intended
to get hold of one of the lawyers, or a magistrate, or a gintleman of
consequence, and to threaten to hang him if Tim was not set free.  I was
almost shrinking in my brogues when I thought that Dan Hoolan might be
after getting hold of yer honour, but my oath prevented me from setting
off till the boys came rushing out of the court saying that Tim was
acquitted.  I thin tauld them about all I was afraid of, so they jumped
on the backs of the horses without waiting to cheer Tim or carry him
round the town.  It was mighty convanient that we arrived in time; but,
major dear, you will see clearly that if I hadn't stopped behind, there
would have been three of us to be hung by Dan instead of two; so well
pleased I am that I found out that it was Tim, my father's second
cousin's nephew, who was going to be tried."

"Well, master Larry, it's well for us all that you had your wits about
you, so I'll say nothing more to you for neglecting your orders, which
were to follow close at our heels," observed the major.

"Thank yer honour; but you'll be after remembering that I didn't suppose
that Dan Hoolan was really going to hang yer honour, or I'd have been in
a much more mighty fright at hearing that he was going to have a hand in
the matter."

This little incident will afford some idea of the state of my native
country at the time of which I write.

After Larry had given this explanation for his non-appearance, he
dropped behind, and my uncle and I rode on side by side, talking of
various matters, and whenever the road would permit, putting our horses
into a trot or a canter to make up for lost time.  Darkness overtook us
before we reached the town at which my uncle proposed to stop for the
night.  I confess that I kept a look-out now on one side, now on the
other, lest any more of Dan Hoolan's gang might be abroad, and have a
fancy to examine our valises and pockets.  We rode on for nearly three
hours in the dark, without meeting, however, with any further adventure.
We reached Timahoe, where there being no event of importance taking
place, we found sufficient accommodation and food both for man and
beast, which was promised on the sign outside, though, to be sure, it
could not be seen in the dark, but I observed it the next morning as we
rode away.

I must pass over the remainder of the journey till we had got over the
greater part of our journey to the fair city of Cork.  We had been
riding on like peaceable travellers, as we were, when we reached a
village, through the centre of which, having nothing to detain us there,
we passed on at our usual pace.  It appeared quiet enough.  The children
were tumbling about with the pigs in the mud, and the women peered out
of the half-open doors, but seeing who we were, drew in their heads
again without addressing us, or replying to any of Larry's most
insinuating greetings.

"There's something going on, though what it may be is more than I can
tell," remarked my uncle.

Just as we got outside the village, though not a sound reached our ears,
we caught sight, coming round a corner on the right, of a party of men,
each armed with a shillelah, which he grasped tightly in his right hand,
while he looked keenly ahead, as if expecting some one to appear.  They
had started forward apparently at the sound of our horses' feet, and
stopped on seeing who we were.

"Good evening, boys," said my uncle, as we rode on.  They made no reply.

We had got a little further on when I saw another party on the left
coming across the country at a rapid rate.  One of them, running
forward, inquired if we had seen any of the boys of Pothrine, the name,
I concluded, of the village we had just passed through.

"Not a few of them, who are on the look-out for you, boys, and if you're
not wishing for broken heads, you'll go back the way you came," answered
my uncle.

"Thank yer honour, we'll chance that," was the answer, and the man
rejoining his party, they advanced towards the village.  Scarcely a
minute had passed before loud cries, whacks, and howls struck upon our
ears.

"They're at it," cried my uncle, and turning back we saw two parties
hotly engaged in the middle of the road; shillelahs flourishing in the
air, descending rapidly to crack crowns or meet opposing weapons.  At
the same time Larry was seen galloping in hot haste towards the
combatants.  My uncle called him back, but the noise of the strife must
have prevented him from hearing the summons, for he continued his
course.  I rode after him, being afraid that he was intending to join in
the scrimmage, but I was too late to stop him, for, throwing his rein
over the stump of a tree which stood convenient at one side of the road,
he jumped off, and in a second was in the midst of the fray.

I had often seen faction fights on a small scale in our own
neighbourhood, but I had never witnessed such ferocity as was displayed
on the present occasion.

Conspicuous among the rest were two big fellows, who carried shillelahs
of unusually large proportions.  They had singled each other out, being
evidently champions of their respective parties, and it was wonderful to
observe the dexterity with which they assaulted each other, and defended
their heads from blows, which, if delivered as intended, would have
crushed their skulls or broken their arms or legs.  In vain I shouted to
Larry to come out of it, and at last I got so excited myself, that had I
possessed a shillelah, I think that, notwithstanding the folly of the
action, I should have jumped off my horse and joined in the battle.  At
length one of the champions was struck to the ground, where three or
four others on the same side were already stretched.  It was the one, as
far as I could make out, that Larry had espoused, and to which the men
who had spoken to us belonged.  Presently I saw Larry spring out from
the crowd, his head bleeding and his coat torn.

On seeing me he shouted, "Be off with yer, Maisther Terence, for they'll
be coming after us," and running towards his pony, which the tide of
battle was approaching, he took the reins and leaped on its back.

Knowing how annoyed my uncle would be if we got into any trouble, I
followed Larry's advice, but not a moment too soon, for the defeated
party came scampering along the road, with the victors after them,
shrieking and yelling like a party of madmen let loose.

"On, on, Master Terence dear!" shouted Larry, and galloping forward, I
soon overtook my uncle, who had turned back on hearing the hubbub, to
ascertain what had become of me.  On seeing that I was safe, he again
turned his horse's head, and as he had no wish to get involved in the
quarrel, he rode forward, closely followed by Larry.  The howls, and
shouts, and shrieks grew fainter as we advanced.

"That boy will be brought into proper discipline before long if he gets
on board the frigate," said my uncle when I told him what had occurred,
"and that love of fighting any but his country's enemies knocked out of
him, I've a notion."

It was growing dusk when the lights of the town where we were to stop
appeared ahead.  Suddenly it struck me that I didn't hear the hoofs of
Larry's steed.  Turning round to speak to him, he was nowhere visible.

"Larry, come on, will you?"  I shouted, but Larry didn't reply.

"The boy can't have had the folly to go back with his broken head to run
the chance of another knock down," observed my uncle.  "We must go and
see what he has been after."

We accordingly turned round and rode back, I galloping ahead and
shouting his name.  I hadn't gone far when I saw his pony standing by
the side of the road.  As I got up to the animal, there was Larry
doubled up on the ground.  I called to him, but he made no reply.
Leaping from my horse, I tried to lift him up.  Not a sound escaped his
lips.  I was horrified at finding that to all appearances he was dead.

My uncle's first exclamation on reaching me was, "The lad has broken his
neck, I'm afraid; but, in case there may be life left in him, the sooner
we carry him to a doctor the better.  Help me to place him on my saddle,
Terence."

Stooping down, notwithstanding his weight, my uncle drew up his
inanimate body, and placed it before him, whilst I led on his pony.

Fortunately, the inn was at the entrance of the town.  My uncle, bearing
Larry in his arms, entered it with me, and ordering a mattress to be
brought, placed him on it, shouting out--

"Be quick, now; fetch a doctor, some of you!"

My countrymen, though willing enough to crack each others' pates, are
quite as ready to help a fellow-creature in distress; and, as my uncle
spoke, two, if not three, of the bystanders hurried off to obey his
order.

Meanwhile, the stable-boy having taken our horses, my uncle and I did
our best to resuscitate our unfortunate follower.  His countenance was
pale as a sheet, except where the streaks of blood had run down it; his
hair was matted, and an ugly wound was visible on his head.  On taking
off his handkerchief, I discovered a black mark on his neck, which
alarmed me more than the wound.  I fully believed that my poor
foster-brother was dead.

Scarcely a minute had elapsed before two persons rushed into the room;
one short and pursy, the other tall and gaunt, both panting as if they
had run a race.

"I have come at your summons, sir!" exclaimed the tall man.

"And shure, so have I! and was I not first in the room?" cried the
second.

"In that, Doctor Murphy, you are mistaken!" exclaimed the tall man, "for
didn't I put my head over your shoulder as we came through the door?"

"But my body was in before yours, Mr O'Shea; and I consider that you
are bound to give place to a doctor of medicine!"

"But this appears to me to be a surgical case," said the tall man; "and
as the head, as all will allow, is a more honourable part of the body
than the paunch, I claim to be the first on the field; and, moreover, to
have seen the patient before you could possibly have done so, Doctor
Murphy.  Sir," he continued, stalking past his brother practitioner, and
making a bow with a battered hat to the major, "I come, I presume, on
your summons, to attend to the injured boy; and such skill as I
possess--and I flatter myself it's considerable--is at your service.
May I ask what is the matter with him?"

"Here's a practitioner who doesn't know what his patient is suffering
from by a glance of the eye!" cried the doctor of medicine.  "Give
place, Mr O'Shea, to a man of superior knowledge to yourself,"
exclaimed Doctor Murphy.  "It's easy enough to see with half a glance
that the boy has broken his neck, and by this time, unless he possesses
a couple of spines,--and I never knew a man have more than one,
though,--he must be dead as a door nail!"

"Dead!" cried Mr O'Shea; "the doctor says his patient's dead without
feeling a pulse or lifting an eyelid."

"You, at all events, ought to know a corpse from a live man," cried the
fat medico, growing irate, "when it's whispered that you have made as
many dead bodies in the town itself as would serve for a couple of
battles and a few scrimmages to boot."

"And you, Doctor Murphy, have poisoned one-half of your patients, and
the others only survive because they throw the physic you send them to
the dogs."

"Come, gentlemen," exclaimed the major, "while you are squabbling, any
spark of life the poor boy may contain will be ebbing away.  As I am not
acquainted with the skill you respectively possess, I beg that you,
Doctor Murphy, as holding the higher grade in your profession, will
examine the boy, and express your opinion whether he is dead or alive,
and state, if there's life in him, which you consider the best way to
bring him round, and set him on his feet again."

Mr O'Shea, on hearing this, stepped back a few paces, and, folding his
arms, looked with supreme contempt on the little doctor, who, stooping
down over Larry with watch in hand, at which he mechanically gazed with
a serious countenance, felt his pulse.

"His hand is cold and clammy, and there's not a single thump in his
arteries," he said with solemn gravity; and letting fall Larry's hand he
proceeded to examine his neck.  "The vertebra broken, cracked,
dislocated," he continued, in the same solemn tone.  "D'ye see this
black mark down his throat? it's amply sufficient to account for death.
I hereby certify that this is a corpse before me, and authorise that he
may be sent home to his friends for Christian burial."

"Och ahone! och ahone!"  I cried out, throwing myself by the side of the
mattress.  "Is Larry really dead?  Oh, doctors dear, can't both of you
put your heads together and try to bring him to life again?"

"When the breath is out of the body, 'tis more than all the skill of the
most learned practitioners can accomplish," exclaimed Doctor Murphy,
rising from his knees.  "I pronounce the boy dead, and no power on earth
can bring him round again."

"I hold to the contrary opinion," said Mr O'Shea, advancing and drawing
out of his pocket a case of instruments, from which he produced a large
operation knife, and began to strop it on the palm of his hand.  "It's
fortunate for the boy that he didn't move, or Doctor Murphy would have
been thrusting one of his big boluses down his throat and drenched him
with black draughts.  Stand aside, friends, and you shall see that a
surgeon's skill is superior to a doctor's knowledge.  I have your leave,
sir, to proceed as I consider necessary?" he asked, turning to the
major.

"Certainly," answered my uncle; "if Doctor Murphy considers him dead and
you believe him to be alive, and act accordingly, I have more hopes in
the results of your skill than in that of the other gentleman."

"You'll remain in town some time, sir, I presume, and as you're a
gentleman, I shall expect a visit from you," exclaimed the fat doctor,
as, nearing the door, he made a bow, and, gold cane in hand, waddled out
of the room.

Mr O'Shea cast a contemptuous glance at him, and then kneeling down,
applied his knife to the nape of Larry's neck.  Warm blood immediately
spouted forth.  "I told you so," he exclaimed; "blood doesn't flow like
this from a corpse.  Bring hot water and cloths."  These he applied to
Larry's neck, and continued to pour the water on them, "to draw out the
blood," as he said, and relieve the patient's head.  Then pressing his
knees against Larry's shoulders, he gave a pull at his head which seemed
likely to dislocate his neck, if it hadn't been broken already.

As he did this, he exclaimed, "There now, I have taken the twists out,
and the boy will be all to rights in the course of an hour."

A groan and a heavy sigh proclaimed that there was still life in poor
Larry.  Presently he opened one eye and then the other, and some
spoonfuls of whisky and water, which Surgeon O'Shea poured down his
throat, contributed still further to revive him.

In the course of half-an-hour Larry asked in a low voice, "Did yer beat
back the O'Sullivans, yer honour? shure they were coming after us at a
mighty great rate, and I fancy some one of them gave me a whack on the
crown which brought me to the ground."

"Keep quiet and don't be talking," answered the surgeon, who, proud of
his success, had been carefully watching his patient.  "He'll do now,
gentlemen," he added, looking up at my uncle and me.  "We'll put him to
bed, and by to-morrow morning he'll be as blithe as a lark, barring a
stiff neck."



CHAPTER FOUR.

MY FIRST DAY ON BOARD.

I sat up with Larry for the greater part of the night, after the surgeon
had left him.  He groaned sometimes as if in pain, and talked at one
time of the scrimmage with the O'Sullivans, and at another of his
fiddle, which he feared had been broken.  I accordingly, to pacify him,
went down and got it, and managed to produce some few notes, which had
the desired effect.  The major after some time came in to relieve me,
for we could not trust any of the people at the inn, who would to a
certainty have been dosing our patient with whisky, under the belief
that they were doing him a kindness, but at the risk of producing a
fever.

In the morning Mr O'Shea came in.

"I thought you said that the boy would be all to rights by this time," I
observed.

"Shure that was somewhat hyperbolical," he answered, with a wink.  "You
can't expect a man with a broken neck, and a gash as big as my thumb at
the back of it, to come round in a few hours."

We couldn't complain, for certainly the worthy surgeon had been the
means of saving Larry's life; but the incident detained us three whole
days, before he was fit to mount his pony and accompany us to Cork.
Before leaving my uncle called on Doctor Murphy, who, to his great
amusement, he found had no intention of calling him out, but merely
expected to receive a fee for pronouncing a living man a dead one.
Though my uncle might have declined to pay the amount demanded, he
handed it to the doctor, and wished him good morning.

I afterwards heard that Doctor Murphy had challenged Mr O'Shea.  That
gentleman, however, refused to go out on the plea that should he be
wounded, and become a patient of his brother practitioner, he should
certainly go the way of the rest of those under his medical care.  For
many a long day Doctor Murphy and Mr O'Shea carried on a fierce
warfare, till their patients agreed to fight it out and settle the
matter, when the doctor's party being defeated, no inconsiderable number
of broken heads being the result, he left the town to exercise his skill
in some other locality, where, as Mr O'Shea remarked, there was a
superabundant population.

We were too late on arriving at Cork to go on board the frigate that
evening, and thus Larry got the advantage of another night's rest, and I
had time to brush up my uniform, and, as I conceived, to make myself as
smart as any officer in His Majesty's service.  The next morning my
uncle hired a boat to proceed down the fair river of Cork to the harbour
where the frigate lay.  As we approached her my heart thrilled with
pleasure as I thought of the honour I was about to enjoy of becoming one
of her officers.

"There's the _Liffy_, yer honour," said the boatman, pointing her out as
she lay some distance from the shore.  Her masts had already been
replaced, and her yards were across, though the sails were not as yet
bent; this, however, I did not observe.

"I hope I have not detained her, uncle," I said; "I should be sorry to
have done that."

The major seldom indulged in a laugh, but he did so on this occasion
till the tears rolled down his cheeks.

"Midshipmen are not of so much account as you suppose, Terence," he
said, still laughing.  "If you were to go on shore and not return on
board in time, you would soon discover that the ship would not wait for
you a single moment after the captain had resolved to put to sea."

As we approached, the sentry hailed to know who we were.  In my
eagerness I replied, "Major McMahon and the new midshipman, Mr Terence
O'Finnahan," whereat a laugh came forth from one of the ports at which,
as it appeared, some of my future messmates were standing.

"You'd have better have held your tongue," said my uncle.  "And now,
Terence, remember to salute the flag as you see me do," he added, as he
was about to mount the side of the ship.  He went up, I followed, and
next came Larry.  On reaching the deck he took off his hat, and I doffed
mine with all the grace I could muster, Larry at the same time making a
profound bow and a scrape of his foot.  The master's mate who received
us, when my uncle inquired for Captain Macnamara, pointed to the
after-part of the deck, where my future commander, with several other
well-dressed officers, was standing.  My uncle at once moved towards
him, and I and Larry followed in the same direction.  The captain, a
fine-looking man, seeing him approach came forward, and they exchanged
cordial greetings.

"I have come expressly to introduce my nephew Terence to you,
Macnamara," said my uncle.  "You were good enough, in a letter I
received from you a few days ago, to say that you would receive him as a
midshipman on board your ship.  He's a broth of a boy, and will be an
ornament to the service, I hope."

"Can't say that he is much of an ornament at present," I heard one of
the officers remark to another.  "Looks more like a mummer or
stage-player than a midshipman."

Looking up, I observed a smile on their countenances, as they eyed me
from head to foot.

"Wishing to present the boy in a respectable way to you on the
quarter-deck of His Majesty's ship, we had a uniform made for him at
Ballinahone, which is, I fancy, such as your officers are accustomed to
wear on grand occasions," said the major, taking me by the arm as if to
exhibit me to more advantage.

"I thought rather that it was the fashionable dress worn by young
gentlemen in the west of Ireland at wakes or weddings," remarked the
captain; "but I confess, my dear McMahon, that I do not recognise it as
a naval uniform, except in the matter of the buttons, which I see are
according to the right pattern.  The young gentleman will have to dress
differently, except when he has a fancy to go to a masquerade on shore."

The major stepped back with a look of astonishment; then surveying the
uniform of the officers standing around, and taking another look at my
costume, he exclaimed, laughing, "Faith, I see there is a difference,
but as no regulations or patterns were procurable at Ballinahone, we did
the best we could."

"Of that I have no doubt about, McMahon; you always did your best, and
very well done it was," said the captain; "but I would advise you to
take your nephew on shore, and get him rigged out in a more proper
costume as soon as possible."

I was completely taken aback on hearing this, and finding that instead
of making a favourable impression on the captain, my costume had
produced a very contrary effect.  In a short time, however, somewhat
regaining my confidence and remembering Larry, I turned to my uncle and
begged that, according to his promise, he would introduce him.

"To be shure I will," he answered, and then addressing the captain, he
said, "My nephew has a foster-brother, the boy standing there, who has
made up his mind to go to sea.  Will you receive him on board your ship?
I own, however, that he will require a good deal of licking into shape
before he becomes a sailor."

"He appears to be a stout lad, and I have no doubt but that in course of
time we shall succeed in making him one," answered the captain.  "Do you
wish to go to sea, boy?"

Larry, who didn't quite understand, I suspect, what licking into shape
meant, answered notwithstanding, "Shure, yer honour, wherever Maisther
Terence goes, I'm desirous of following, and as he's to become a
midshipman, I'd wish to go wherever I can be with him."

"That cannot be so exactly," answered the captain, laughing; "but if you
become one of the crew, you'll not be far from him, and I hope I may see
you some day following your leader on board an enemy's ship, and hauling
down her flag."

"Hurrah! shure that's what I'll be after doing, and anything else your
honour plaises," exclaimed Larry at the top of his voice, flourishing
his hat at the same time above his head.  "I'll be after showing yer
honour how the boys in Tipperary fight."

That matter being settled much to my satisfaction, Larry was taken off
to have his name entered on the ship's books, for in those days a fish
having been once caught in the net, it was not thought advisable to let
him go again.  In the meantime, my uncle having gone into the captain's
cabin to take luncheon, I was led by a person whom, though I thought he
was an officer, I supposed, from his appearance, to be one of very
subordinate rank, to be introduced to my new messmates, in the
midshipmen's berth.

"And so you think we wear silks and satins on board ship, I see, young
gentleman, do you?" he said with a comical grin, eyeing my new coat and
waistcoat.  "You'll have to send these back to your grandmother, or the
old woman who made them for you."

"Arrah, sir, d'ye intend to insult me?"  I asked.  "Were they not put
together by Pat Cassidy, the family tailor, under the direction of my
uncle, Major McMahon, and he shure knows what a young gentleman should
wear on board ship."

"No, my lad, I only intended to laugh at you; but do you know who I am?"

"No, but I'll have you to understand that an O'Finnahan of Castle
Ballinahone, County Tipperary, Ireland, is not to be insulted with
impunity," I answered, trying to look as dignified as I could.

"Then I'll give you to understand, young sir, that I'm the first
lieutenant of this ship, and that lieutenants don't insult midshipmen,
even if they think fit to send them to the masthead.  It will be your
business to obey, and to ask no questions."

As I knew no more, at the time, of the rank and position of a first
lieutenant on board ship than I did of the man in the moon, this
announcement did not make much impression on my mind.  I only thought
that he was some old fellow who was fond of boasting, and had a fancy to
try and make me believe that he was a personage of importance, or
perhaps to frighten me.  I soon discovered, however, that though he
generally wore a shabby uniform, he was not a man to be trifled with.  I
may as well here say that his name was Saunders, that he was a thorough
tar, who had come in at the hawse-hole, and had worked his way up to his
present position.  Old "Rough and Ready" I found he was called.  His
hands were continually in the tar-bucket, and he was never so happy as
when, with a marline-spike hung round his neck by a rope-yarn, he was
engaged in gammoning the bowsprit, or setting up the rigging.  But that
I found out afterwards.

"Now come along, youngster, for I don't wish to be hard on you; I'm only
laughing at the ridiculous figure you cut," he said, giving way to a
burst of rough merriment.  By the time it was over we reached the door
of the berth, where the midshipmen were assembled for dinner.

"Young gentlemen," said Mr Saunders with perfect gravity, opening the
door, "I have to tell you that this is Mr Terence O'Finnahan, of Castle
Ballinahone, County Tipperary, Ireland, who is to become your messmate
as soon as he is docked of his fine feathers; and you'll be pleased to
receive him as such."

Saying this he took his departure, and two of my new messmates seized me
by the fists, which they gripped with a force intended perhaps to show
the ardour of their regard, but which was excessively painful to my
feelings.  I restrained them, however, and stood looking round at the
numerous strange faces turned towards me.

"Make room for Mr Terence O'Finnahan, of Castle Ballinahone, County
Tipperary, Ireland," cried an old master's mate from the further end of
the table; "but let all understand that it's the last time such a
designation is to be applied to him.  It's much too long a name for any
practical purpose, and from henceforth he's to be known on board this
ship as Paddy Finn, the Irish midshipman; and so, Paddy Finn, old boy,
I'll drink your health.  Gentlemen, fill your glasses; here's to the
health of Paddy Finn."

Every one in the berth filled up their mugs and cups with rum and water,
in which they pledged me with mock gravity.  Having in the meantime
taken my seat, I rose and begged to return my thanks to them for the
honour they had done me, assuring them that I should be happy to be
known by the new name they had given me, or by any other which might
sound as sweet.

"Only, gentlemen, there's one point I must bargain for," I added; "let
me be called Paddy, whatever other designation you may in your judgment
think fit to bestow on me, for let me tell you that I consider it an
honour to be an Irishman, and I am as proud of my native land as you can
be of yours."

"Bravo, Paddy!" cried several.  "You're a trump," observed the
president.

"The chief has got pluck in him," said the Scotch assistant surgeon, who
sat opposite to the president, a man whose grizzled hair showed that he
had been long in the service.

"Where did you get those clothes from?" asked a young gentleman, whom I
afterwards found to be the purser's clerk.

"He picked them up at a theatrical property shop as he passed through
Cork," remarked another.

"Haul in the slack of your impudence," cried the president, whose favour
I had won.  "If his friends had never seen a naval uniform, how should
they know how to rig him out?"

"I'm mightily obliged to you, sir," I said, for I was by this time
getting heartily ashamed of my gay feathers; "and as the ship won't be
sailing yet, I hope to get fitted out properly before I return on
board."

"All right, youngster," said the president.  "Now, I will have the
pleasure of helping you to a slice of mutton.  Hand the greens and
potatoes up to Paddy Finn."

The plate was passed round to me, and I was allowed, without being
further bantered, to discuss the viands placed under my nose, which I
did with a good appetite.  I was not silent, however, but introducing my
journey to Cork, amused my messmates with an account of the various
incidents which had occurred.  When, at length, one of the midshipmen
who had being doing duty on deck appeared at the door to say that Major
McMahon was about to return on shore, and wanted his nephew, my new
friends shook me warmly by the hand, and the president again proposed
three hearty cheers for their new messmate, Paddy Finn.



CHAPTER FIVE.

I MAKE THE ACQUAINTANCE OF ONE OF MY NEW MESSMATES.

I was in much better spirits when I rejoined my uncle than when I had
been led below by Mr Saunders.  I found him standing with the captain
on the main-deck, they having just come out of the cabin.

"I should like to take a turn round the ship before we leave her, in
case I should be unable to pay you another visit," said the major.  "I
wish to brush up my recollections of what a frigate is like."

"Come along then," answered the captain, and he led the way along the
deck.

As we got forward, we heard loud roars of laughter and clapping of
hands.  The cause was very evident, for there was Larry in the midst of
a group of seamen, dancing an Irish jig to the tune of one of his most
rollicksome songs.

"Stop a bit, my boys, and I'll show you what real music is like," he
exclaimed after he had finished the song.  "Wait till I get my fiddle
among yer, and I'll make it squeak louder thin a score of peacocks or a
dozen of sucking pigs;" and he then began again singing--

  "A broth of a boy was young Daniel O'Shane,
  As he danced with the maidens of fair Derrynane."

Then he went on jigging away, to the great delight of his audience,--no
one observing the captain or us.

It was very evident that Larry had without loss of time made himself at
home among his new shipmates.  They treated him much as they would have
treated a young bear, or any other pet animal they might have obtained.
I had expected to find him looking somewhat forlorn and downcast among
so many strangers; but in reality, I ought to have trusted an Irish boy
of his degree to make friends wherever he goes.

"I think we may leave your follower where he is, as, should you not
require his services, he is much more likely to be kept out of mischief
here than he would be ashore," said the captain to the major.

To this my uncle agreed.  We had got some way along the deck when I felt
a touch on my shoulder, and turning round, saw Larry's countenance
grinning from ear to ear.

"Shure they're broths of boys these sailor fellows, and I'm mighty
plaised to be among them; but, Maisther Terence dear, I have a favour to
ask you.  Would you tell the captain that I'd be mightily obliged to him
if he would let me go back to Cork for my fiddle.  I left it at the inn,
and if I had it now I'd set all the boys on board a-jigging, with the
captain and officers into the bargain."

I told him that as the captain thought it better he should remain on
board, I could not ask leave for him to go on shore; but I promised that
if I had an opportunity, I would send him his violin at once, or if not,
would be careful to bring it myself.

"You'll not be long then, Maisther Terence; for the boys here are mighty
eager to hear me play."

Assuring him how glad I was to find that he was happy, I advised him to
go back to his new friends again, promising not to forget his violin.

We had come on board on the larboard side; we now went to the starboard.
On each side of the gangway stood several officers and midshipmen,
while on the accommodation-ladder were arranged two lines of boys.  The
captain's own gig was waiting for us, manned by eight smart seamen,
their oars in the air.  The captain himself descended, returning the
salutes of the officers and men.  I followed my uncle, who was treated
with a similar mark of respect; but as I thought a portion was intended
for me, and wishing to act in the politest way possible, I took off my
hat altogether, and made several most polite bows.  I had a suspicion,
however, from the expression on the countenances of the midshipmen, with
the suppressed titter among them, together with the grin on the faces of
the men and boys, that I was doing something not altogether according to
custom.  Perhaps, I thought to myself, I hadn't bowed low enough, so I
turned, now to my right, now to my left, and, not seeing where I was
going to, should have pitched right down the ladder had not one of the
men standing there caught my arm, bidding me as he did so to keep my hat
on my head.

In my eagerness to get into the boat I made a spring, and should have
leapt right over into the water had not another friendly hand caught me
and forced me down by the side of the major.

The captain, taking the white yoke-lines, gave the order to shove off;
the boat's head swung away from the side of the frigate; the oars fell
with their blades flat on the water; and we began to glide rapidly up
the harbour, propelled by the sturdy arms of the crew.  I felt very
proud as I looked at the captain in his cocked hat and laced coat, and
at the midshipman who accompanied him, in a bran new uniform, though, to
be sure, there wasn't much of him to look at, for he was a mere mite of
a fellow.

Had I not discovered that my own costume was not according to rule, I
should have considered it a much more elegant one than his.  After some
time, the captain observing, I fancy, that I looked rather dull, having
no one to talk to, said something to the midshipman, who immediately
came and sat by me.

"Well, Paddy, how do you like coming to sea?" he asked in a good-natured
tone.

"I've not yet formed an opinion," I answered.

"True, my boy; Cork harbour is not the Atlantic," he remarked.  "We may
chance to see the waves running mountains high when we get there, and
all the things tumbling about like shuttlecocks."

"I'll be content to wait until I see that same to form an opinion," I
answered.  "As I've come to sea, I shall be glad to witness whatever
takes place there."

"You're not to be caught, I perceive," he said.  "Well, Paddy, and how
do you like your name?"

"Faith, I'm grateful to you and my other messmates for giving it," I
answered.  "I'm not ashamed of the name, and I hope to have the
opportunity of making it known far and wide some day or other; and now
may I ask you what's your name, for I haven't had the pleasure of
hearing it."

"Thomas Pim," he answered.

"Come, that's short enough, anyhow," I observed.

"Yes; but when I first came aboard, the mess declared it was too long,
so they cut off the `h' and the `as' and `m' and called me Tom Pi; but
even then they were not content, for they further docked it of its fair
proportions, and decided that I was to be named Topi, though generally
I'm called simply Pi."

"Do you mind it?"  I asked.

"Not a bit," he answered.  "It suits my size, I confess; for, to tell
you the truth, I'm older than I look, and have been three years at sea."

"I thought you had only just joined," I remarked, for my companion was,
as I have just said, a very little fellow, scarcely reaching up to my
shoulder.  On examining his countenance more minutely, I observed that
it had a somewhat old look.

"Though I'm little I'm good, and not ashamed of my size or my name
either," he said.  "When bigger men are knocked over, I've a chance of
escaping.  I can stow myself away where others can't get in their legs;
and when I go aloft or take a run on shore, I've less weight to carry,--
so has the steed I ride.  When I go with others to hire horses, I
generally manage to get the best from the stable-keeper."

"Yes, I see that you have many advantages over bigger fellows," I said.

"I'm perfectly contented with myself now I've found that out, but I
confess that at first I didn't like being laughed at and having remarks
made about my name and my size.  I have grown slightly since then, and
no one observes now that I'm an especially little fellow."

Tom spoke for some time on the same subject.

"I say, Paddy Finn, I hope you and I will be friends," he continued.
"I've heard that you Irishmen are frequently quarrelsome, but I hope you
won't quarrel with me, or, for your own sake, with any of the rest of
the mess.  You'll gain nothing by it, as they would all turn against you
to put you down."

"No fear of that," I replied, "always provided that they say nothing
insulting of Ireland, or of my family or friends, or of the opinions I
may hold, or take liberties which I don't like, or do anything which I
consider unbecoming gentlemen."

"You leave a pretty wide door open," remarked Tom; "but, as I said
before, if you don't keep the peace it will be the worse for you."

We were all this time proceeding at a rapid rate up the stream, between
its wooded and picturesque banks.  On arriving at Cork, the captain
wished the major good-bye, saying that I must be on board again within
three days, which would allow me ample time to get a proper uniform
made.

I asked Tom Pim what he was going to do with himself, and proposed that,
after I had been measured by the tailor, we should take a stroll
together.

"Do you think the captain brought me up here for my pleasure?" he said.
"I have to stay by the boat while he's on shore, to see that the men
don't run away.  Why, if I didn't keep my eye on them, they'd be off
like shots, and drunk as fiddlers by the time the captain came back."

"I'm sorry you can't come," I said.  "By the bye, talking of fiddlers,
will you mind taking a fiddle on board to the boy who came with me,--
Larry Harrigan?  I promised to send it to him, though I didn't expect so
soon to have the opportunity."

"With the greatest pleasure in the world," said Tom Pim.  "Perhaps I may
take a scrape on it myself.  When I was a little fellow, I learned to
play it."

"You must have been a very little fellow," I couldn't help remarking,
though Tom didn't mind it.

As our inn was not far off, I asked my uncle to let me run on and get
the fiddle, and take it down to the boat.  As I carried it along, I
heard people making various remarks, evidently showing that they took me
for a musician or stage-player, which made me more than ever anxious to
get out of a costume which I had once been so proud of wearing.  Having
delivered the violin in its case to Tom Pim, who promised to convey it
to Larry, I rejoined my uncle.

We proceeded at once to the tailor recommended by Captain Macnamara,
who, having a pattern, promised to finish my uniform in time, and to
supply all the other articles I required.  We spent the few days we were
in Cork in visiting some old friends of the major's.

I was very anxious about the non-appearance of my chest, but the night
before I was to go on board, to my great satisfaction, it arrived.

"It's a good big one, at all events," I thought; "it will hold all the
things I want, and some curiosities I hope to bring back from foreign
parts."

It was capable of doing so, for although it might have been somewhat
smaller than the one in which the bride who never got out again hid
away, it was of magnificent proportions, solid as oak and iron clamps
could make it; it was big enough to hold half-a-dozen of my smaller
brothers and sisters, who used to stow themselves away in it when
playing hide-and-seek about the house.

Soon after the chest arrived the tailor brought my uniform.

It certainly was a contrast to the comical suit I had hitherto been
wearing.  I put it on with infinite satisfaction, and girded to my side
a new dirk, which my uncle had given me, instead of my grandfather's old
sword.  The latter, however, my uncle recommended me to take on board.

"You may want it, Terence, maybe on some cutting-out expedition," he
said; "and you'll remember that it belonged to your ancestors, and make
it do its duty."

As the chest was already full, I had a difficulty in stowing away the
things the tailor had brought.  I therefore began to unpack it while he
was waiting, and I observed that he cast a look of supreme contempt on
most of the articles it contained.  He even ventured to suggest that he
should be allowed to replace them with others which he could supply.

"The boy has enough and to spare, and I should like to know how many of
them will find their way back to Cork," said my uncle.

Some of them I found, on consideration, that I should be as well
without.  Among other things were a pair of thick brogues, which Molly
the cook had put in to keep my feet from the wet deck, and a huge cake;
this, though, I guessed would not be sneered at in the mess, and would
travel just as well outside.  At length I found room for everything I
required, and the chest was once more locked and corded.

I don't believe I slept a wink that night with thinking of what I should
do when I got on board the frigate.  It was a satisfaction to remember
that the ice had been broken, and that I should not appear as a perfect
stranger amongst my messmates.  I already knew Tom Pim, and he had told
me the names of several others, among whom were those of Jack Nettleship
the old mate and caterer of the mess, Dick Sinnet the senior midshipman,
Sims the purser's clerk, and Donald McPherson the assistant-surgeon.
The others I could not remember.  The lieutenants, he said, were very
nice fellows, though they had their peculiarities.  None of the officers
were Irishmen, consequently I had been dubbed Paddy.



CHAPTER SIX.

I COMMENCE MY NAVAL CAREER.

The morning came.  My chest and my other strat things had been carried
down in a cart to the river, where they were shipped on board a
shore-boat.  As we walked along following it, my uncle, after being
silent for a minute, as if considering how he should address me, said:
"You have got a new life before you, away from friends, among all sorts
of characters,--some good, it may be, many bad or indifferent, but no
one probably on whom you may rely.  You will be placed in difficult,
often in dangerous situations, when you'll have only yourself, or Him
who orders all things, to trust to.  Be self-reliant; ever strive to do
your duty; and don't be after troubling yourself about the consequences.
You will be engaged in scenes of warfare and bloodshed.  I have taken
part in many such, and I know their horrors.  War is a stern necessity.
May you never love it for itself; but when fighting, comport yourself
like a man fearless of danger, while you avoid running your head
needlessly into it.  Be courteous and polite, slow to take offence,--
especially when no offence is intended, as is the case in ninety-nine
cases out of a hundred where quarrels occur.  Remember that it always
takes two to make a quarrel, and that the man who never gives offence
will seldom get into one.  Never grumble; be cheerful and obliging.
Never insist on your own rights when those rights are not worth
insisting on.  Sacrifice your own feelings to those of others, and be
ever ready to help a companion out of a difficulty.  You may be
surprised to hear me--an old soldier and an Irishman--talking in this
way; but I give you the advice, because I have seen so many act
differently, and, wrapped up in intense selfishness, become utterly
regardless of others,--reaping the consequences by being disliked and
neglected, and finally deserted by all who were their friends.  There's
another point I must speak to you about, and it's a matter which weighs
greatly on my mind.  Example, they say, is better than precept.  Now
your father has set you a mighty bad example, and so have many others
who have come to the castle.  Don't follow it.  You see the effect which
his potations of rum shrub and whisky-toddy have produced on him.  When
I was on duty, or going on it, I never touched liquor; and no man ever
lost his life from my carelessness, as I have seen the lives of many
poor soldiers thrown away when their officers, being drunk, have led
them into useless danger.  So I say, Terence, keep clear of liquor.  The
habit of drinking grows on a man, and in my time I have seen it the ruin
of many as fine young fellows as ever smelt powder."

I thanked my uncle, and promised as far as I could to follow his
excellent advice.

As we reached the water-side, my uncle stopped, and putting one hand on
my shoulder and taking mine with the other, looked me kindly in the
face.

"Fare thee well, Terence, my boy," he said; "we may not again meet on
earth, but wherever you go, an old man's warmest affection follows you.
Be afraid of nothing but doing wrong.  If your life is spared, you'll
rise in the profession you have chosen, second only in my opinion to
that of the army."

I stepped into the boat, and the men shoved off.  My uncle stood
watching me as we descended the stream.  Again and again he waved his
hand, and I returned his salute.  He was still standing there when a
bend of the river shut him out from my sight.  I was too much engaged
with my thoughts to listen to what the boatmen said, and I suspect they
thought me either too dull or too proud to talk to them.  As we pulled
up on the larboard side, thinking that I was now somebody, I shouted to
some men I saw looking through the ports to come down and lift my chest
on board, though how that was to be done was more than I could tell.  A
chorus of laughs was the reply.

Presently I heard a gruff voice say, "Send a whip down there, and have
that big lumber chest, or whatever it is, up on deck."  My chest was
quickly hauled up, and as quickly transferred by the orders of the
lieutenant in charge of the watch below, before Mr Saunders' eyes had
fallen on it.  I mounted the side in as dignified a way as I could,
saluting the flag on reaching the deck, as my uncle had told me to do.

I had recognised Tom Pim, who was ready to receive me.  "You must go to
the first lieutenant,--he's in the gun-room,--and say, `Come aboard,
sir,' and then when you're dismissed make your way into the berth," he
said.

"But how am I to be after finding the gun-room; is it where the guns are
kept?"  I asked.

Tom laughed at my simplicity.  "No; it's where the gun-room officers,
the lieutenants and master, the doctor, and purser, and lieutenant of
marines, mess.  They all mess together, as do the mates, and we the
midshipmen, the second master and master's assistant, the clerks and the
assistant-surgeon."

"And have you no ensign?"  I asked.

"No; there are none in the marines, and so we have no soldiers in our
berth," he answered; "but let's come along, I'll show you the way, and
then you'll be in time for dinner."  We descended to the gun-room door,
where Tom left me, bidding me go in and ask for the first lieutenant.  I
didn't see him, but one of the other officers, of whom I made inquiries,
pointed me to the first lieutenant's cabin.

I knocked at the door.  "Come in," answered a gruff voice.  I found the
lieutenant with his shirt-sleeves tucked up, he having just completed
his morning ablutions, an old stocking on one fist and a needle and
thread in the other, engaged in darning it.

"Come on board, sir," I said.

"Very well, youngster," he answered; "I should scarcely have known you
in your present proper uniform.  There's nothing like being particular
as to dress.  I'll see about placing you in a watch.  You'll understand
that you're to try and do your duty to the best of your abilities."

"Shure it's what I hope to do, sir," I answered briskly; "and I'm mighty
glad you like my uniform."

"I didn't say I liked it, youngster,--I said it was proper according to
the regulations.  Turn round, let me see.  There is room for growing,
which a midshipman's uniform should have.  You'll remember always to be
neat and clean, and follow the example I try to set you youngsters."

"Yes, sir," I answered, my eyes falling on a huge patch which the
lieutenant had on one of the knees of his trousers.

"Now you may go!" he said.  "Understand that you're not to quit the ship
without my leave, and that you must master the rules and regulations of
the service as soon as possible, for I can receive no excuse if you
infringe them."

Altogether I was pretty well satisfied with my interview with old
Rough-and-Ready, and hurrying out of the gun-room I directed my course
for the young gentlemen's berth, as it was called, which was some way
further forward on the starboard side.  I intended, after making my
appearance there, to go in search of Larry, but the mulatto steward and
a boy came hurrying aft along the deck with steaming dishes, which they
placed on the table, and I found that the dinner was about to commence.

"Glad to see you, Paddy," said Jack Nettleship, who had already taken
his place at the head of the table.  "You look less like a play-actor's
apprentice and more like an embryo naval officer than you did when you
first came on board.  Now sit down and enjoy the good things of life
while you can get them.  Time will come when we shall have to luxuriate
on salt junk as hard as a millstone and weevilly biscuits."

Plenty of joking took place, and everybody seemed in good humour, so
that I soon found myself fairly at my ease, and all I wanted to be
perfectly so was to know the ways of the ship.  I succeeded in producing
several roars of laughter by the stories I told, not attempting to
overcome my brogue, but rather the contrary, as I found it amused my
auditors.  When the rum was passed round, of which each person had a
certain quantum, the doctor sang out to the youngsters, including Tom
Pim and me, "Hold fast! it's a vara bad thing for you laddies, and I
shall be having you all on the sick list before long if I allow you to
take it.  Pass the pernicious liquor along here."

Tom obeyed, and so did I, willingly enough, for I had tasted the stuff
and thought it abominably nasty, but two or three of the other
midshipmen hesitated, and some seemed inclined to revolt.

"I call on you, Nettleship, as president of the mess, to interfere,"
exclaimed the doctor.  "What do these youngsters suppose I'm sent here
for, but to watch over their morals and their health; and as I find it
difficult in the one case to do my duty with the exactitude I desire, I
shall take care not to neglect it in the other.  There's young Chaffey
there, who has stowed away enough duff to kill a bull, and now he's
going to increase the evil by pouring this burning fiery liquid down his
throat.  Do you want to be in your grave, Jack? if not, be wise, and let
the grog alone."

Chaffey, the fattest midshipman among us, looked somewhat alarmed, and
quickly passed up the rum.  I observed that the doctor kept it by his
side, and having finished his own quantum, began to sip the portions he
had forbidden the youngsters to drink.  It was difficult to suppose that
he was perfectly disinterested in his advice.

Being in harbour, we sat much longer than usual.  At last I asked Tom if
he thought I could venture to go and look out for Larry.

"Oh, yes; this is Liberty Hall," he answered.

I was going forward, when I heard my name called, and going to the spot
from whence the voice came, I saw the first lieutenant standing before
my chest, at which he cast a look of mingled indignation and contempt.
By his side was a warrant officer, whom I heard addressed as Mr
Bradawl, with a saw and chisel and hammer in hand.

"Does this huge chest belong to you?" asked old Rough-and-Ready, as I
came up.

"Yes, sir," I answered; "I'm rather proud of it."

"We shall see if you continue so," he exclaimed.  "Do you think we have
room to stow away such a lumbering thing as this?  Where's the key?"

I produced it.

"Now tumble your things out."

"But please, sir, I haven't room to pack them away.  I have got this
bundle, and that case, and those other things are all mine."

"Tumble them out!" cried the lieutenant, without attending to my
expostulations.

I obeyed.  And the carpenter began sawing away at a line which old
Rough-and-Ready had chalked out not far from the keyhole.  Mr Bradawl
had a pretty tough job of it, for the oak was hard.  The lieutenant
stood by, watching the proceeding with evident satisfaction.  He was
showing me that a first lieutenant was all-powerful on board ship.  I
watched this cruel curtailment of my chest with feelings of dismay.

Having sawn it thus nearly in two, the carpenter knocked off the end of
the part he had severed from the rest, and then hammered it on with
several huge nails.

"Now, youngster, pick out the most requisite articles, and send the
others ashore, or overboard, or anywhere, so that they're out of the
ship," exclaimed the first lieutenant; saying which he turned away to
attend to some other duty, leaving me wondering how I should stow the
things away.  Tom Pim, who had seen what was going forward, came up to
my assistance; and by putting the things in carefully, and stamping them
down, layer after layer, we managed to stow away more than I had
conceived possible.

"I think I could find room for some of them in my chest, as we have been
to sea for some time, and a good many of my own have been expended; and,
I daresay, the other fellows will be equally ready to oblige you," said
Tom.

I was delighted at the proposal, and hastened to accept it,--but I
didn't find it quite so easy to get them back again!  Tom, however, soon
smelt out the cake.  At first he suggested that it would be safe in his
chest, but Chaffey coming by, also discovered it; and though he was most
anxious to take charge of it for me, Tom, knowing very well what would
be its fate, insisted on its being carried into the berth.  I need
hardly say that by the end of tea-time it had disappeared.

I had no difficulty in finding Larry, when I at length set forth in
quest of him.  The sound of his fiddle drew me to the spot, where,
surrounded by a party of admiring shipmates, he was scraping away as
happy as a prince.  On catching sight of me, he sprang out of the
circle.

"Och, Misther Terence, I'm mighty glad to see you; but shure I didn't
know you at first in your new clothes.  I hope you like coming to sea as
much as myself.  Shure it's rare fun we're having in this big ship; and
is his honour the major gone home again?"

I told him that I concluded such was the case, and how pleased I was to
find that he liked his life on board,--though it didn't occur to me at
the time that not having as yet been put to perform any special duty, he
fancied he was always to lead the idle life he had hitherto been
enjoying.  We were both of us doomed ere long to discover that things
don't always run smoothly at sea.



CHAPTER SEVEN.

MASTHEADED.

The frigate was not yet ready for sea, and I had therefore time to pick
up some scraps of nautical knowledge, to learn the ways of the ship, and
to get a tolerable notion of my duties.  I quickly mastered the rules
and regulations of the service, a copy of which Jack Nettleship gave me.

"Stick by them, my lad, and you can't go wrong; if you do, it's their
fault, not yours," he observed.

"But suppose I don't understand them?"  I asked.

"Then you can plead in justification that they are not sufficiently
clear for an ordinary comprehension," he answered.  "I do when I make a
mistake, and old Rough-and-Ready is always willing to receive my
excuses, as he can't spell them out very easily himself, though they are
his constant study day and night.  Indeed, I doubt if he reads anything
else, except Norie's _Navigation_ and the _Nautical Almanack_?"

Nettleship showed me a copy of the former work, and kindly undertook to
instruct me in the science of navigation.  All day long, however, he was
employed in the duties of the ship, and in the evening I was generally
sleepy when it was our watch below, so that I didn't make much progress.
Though I got on very well, I was guilty, I must own, of not a few
blunders.  I was continually going aft when I intended to be going
forward, and _vice versa_.

The day after I came aboard I was skylarking with Tom Pim, Chaffey, and
other midshipmites (as the oldsters called us), when I told them that I
would hide, and that they might find me if they could.  I ran up the
after-ladder, when seeing a door open, I was going to bolt through it.
Just then a marine, who was standing there, placed his musket to bar my
way.  Not wishing to be stopped, I dodged under it, turning round and
saying--

"Arrah, boy! don't be after telling where I'm gone to."

The sentry, for such he was, not understanding me, seized hold of my
collar.

"You mustn't be going in there, whoever you are," he said in a gruff
tone.

"I'm a midshipman of this ship, and have a right to go wherever I like,
I'm after thinking," I said, trying to shake myself clear of his grasp.
"Hush, now; be pleasant, will ye, and do as I order you!"

"I shouldn't be finding it very pleasant if I was to break through the
rules and regulations of the service," he answered.  "Now go forward,
young gentleman, and don't be attempting to playing any of your tricks
on me."

"I'm your officer, and I order you not to interfere with me, or say
where I'm gone," I exclaimed.

"I obey no orders except from my own lieutenant or the captain and the
lieutenants of the ship," answered the sturdy marine.  "You can't go
into the captain's cabin while I'm standing here as sentry;" and he
proceeded to use more force than was agreeable to my dignity.

"Shure you're an impudent fellow to behave so to an officer," I
exclaimed; at which the sentry laughed, and said--

"Off with you, Master Jackanapes, and consider yourself fortunate that
worse hasn't come of your larking."

Trying to look dignified I answered--

"You're an impudent fellow, and I shall make known your conduct to your
superiors.  I know your name, my fine fellow, so you'll not get off."  I
had observed his name, as I thought, on his musket.

Just then Tom Pim popped his head above the hatchway, and I, finding
that I was discovered, made chase after him.  He quickly distanced me;
and as I was rushing blindly along, I ran my head right into the stomach
of old Rough-and-Ready, who, as ill-luck would have it, was on his way
round the lower deck.  I nearly upset him, and completely upset myself.

"Shure, sir, I never intended to behave so rudely," I said, as, picking
myself up, I discovered whom I had encountered.

"Go to the masthead, and stay there till I call you down," thundered the
lieutenant, rubbing the part of his body I had assaulted.

"Please, sir, I had no intention in the world of running against you," I
said, trying to look humble, but feeling much inclined to laugh at the
comical expression of his countenance.

"Look to the rules and regulations of the service, where all inferiors
are ordered to pay implicit obedience to their superiors," cried Mr
Saunders.  "To the masthead with you."

"If you please, sir, I should be happy to do that same if I knew the
way; but I haven't been up there yet, as the men have been painting the
rigging with some black stuff, and I should be after spoiling my new
uniform," I answered.

"Go to the masthead," again shouted the first lieutenant; "and you, Pim,
go and show him the way," he exclaimed, catching sight of Tom Pim, who
was grinning at me from the other side of the deck.

Tom well knew that it was against the rules and regulations of the
service to expostulate; therefore, saying, "Come along, Paddy," he led
the way on deck.

"Do as I do," he said, as he began to mount the rigging.  "Just hold on
with your hands and feet, and don't let the rest of your body touch the
rattlings or shrouds, and don't be letting go with one hand till you
have got fast hold with the other."

Up he went, and I followed.  He was nimble as a monkey, so I had
difficulty in keeping pace with him.  Looking up, I saw him with his
back almost horizontal above me, going along the futtock shrouds to get
into the top.  These are the shrouds which run from the side of the mast
to the outer side of the top, and consequently a person going along them
has his face to the sky and his back to the deck.  Tom was over them in
a moment, and out of sight.  I didn't like the look of things, but did
my best; and though he stood ready to give me a helping hand into the
top, I got round without assistance.  We now had to ascend the topmost
rigging to the cross-trees, where we were to stay till called down.
This was a comparatively easy matter, and as I didn't once cast my eyes
below I felt no giddiness.  Tom seated himself as if perfectly at home,
and bade me cross my legs on the other side of the mast.

"It's lucky for you, Paddy, that you are able to gain your experience
while the ship is in harbour and as steady as a church steeple.  It
would be a different matter if she were rolling away across the Bay of
Biscay with a strong breeze right aft; so you ought to be duly thankful
to old Saunders for mastheading you without waiting till we get there.
And now I'd advise you to have a look at the rules and regulations of
the service.  It will please old Rough-and-Ready if you can tell him you
have employed your time up here studying them, but don't forget you are
up here, and go tumbling down on deck."

I was very well disposed to follow Tom's advice, and I held tight on
with one hand while I pulled the paper out of my pocket and read a page
or two relating to obedience to superiors.  Having thus relieved my
conscience, I took a look round at the beautiful panorama in the midst
of which the ship floated: the wooded banks, the magnificent harbour
dotted over with numerous vessels; ships of war and merchantmen,--the
latter waiting for convoy,--while among the former was the admiral's
flag-ship riding proudly, surrounded by the smaller fry.  The pretty
town of Cove, with neat houses and villas on the one side, and the mouth
of the river Lee, running down from Cork, to the westward.

Sooner than we expected we heard old Rough-and-Ready's voice summoning
us down.  He was not an ill-natured man.  He knew well that my fault had
been unintentional, and that Tom had certainly not deserved any
punishment at all, for grinning at a brother midshipman in his presence
could scarcely be considered disrespectful.

"You may go through the lubber's hole," said Tom, when we reached the
top.

"No, no.  If you go round, I'll go to," I answered.  For being thus put
on my mettle, I determined to do whatever he did.  By holding fast with
my feet and following him, I managed to put them on the rattlings
underneath, and thus, though I didn't like it at all, got down on to the
main rigging.

"Next time you run along the deck, youngster, you'll look where you're
going," said the first lieutenant, when I reached the deck.

"Ay, ay, sir," I said, touching my hat.

"Did you read the rules and regulations?" he asked.

"Yes, sir," I answered; "though I hadn't time to get through them all."

He was pleased with the respect I paid him.

"Well, you'll know them by heart soon; and to ensure that, remember to
take them with you whenever you're mastheaded."

"Of course, sir, if you wish it," I answered.

He gave a comical look at me under his bushy eyebrows, and turned on his
heel.

After this I accompanied Tom into the berth.  Old Nettleship was there.
I told him of the way the marine had behaved, and said that for the sake
of keeping up the dignity of the midshipmen, I considered it necessary
to make his conduct known, though I had no ill-feeling towards the man
himself.

At this remark the old mate burst into a hearty fit of laughter.

"Midshipmen generally find it necessary to carry their dignity in their
pockets; and I'd advise you, Paddy, to put yours there, though I approve
of your spirit.  The man will have been relieved some time ago, and
you'll find it difficult to recognise him among others."

"Oh!  I know his name--it was Tower," I said in a tone of confidence.

At this there was a general roar of laughter.

"According to your notion all the jollies are Towers," cried Nettleship,
when he regained his voice.  "Why, Paddy, the muskets are all marked
with the name of the Tower of London, where the arms are stored before
they are served out."

"Shure how should I know anything about the Tower of London?"  I asked.
"I'm after thinking it's a poor place compared with Castle Ballinahone."

This remark produced another roar of laughter from my messmates.

"What are you after laughing at?  I exclaimed.  If any of you will
honour us with a visit at Castle Ballinahone, you'll be able to compare
the two places, and my father and mother, and brothers and sisters, will
be mighty plaised to see you."

The invitation was at once accepted by all hands, though for the present
my family were pretty safe from the chances of an inundation of nautical
heroes.

"And what sort of girls are your sisters?" asked Sims, who, I had
discovered, was always ready for some impudence.

"Shure they're Irish young ladies, and that's all I intend to say about
them," I answered, giving him a look which made him hold his tongue.

Still, in spite of the bantering I received, I got on wonderfully well
with my new messmates; and though I had a fight now and then, I
generally, being older than many of them, and stronger than others who
had been some time at sea, came off victorious; and as I was always
ready to befriend, and never bullied, my weaker messmates, I was on very
good terms with all of them.

Tom Pim took a liking to me from the first, and though he didn't require
my protection, I felt ready to afford it him on all occasions.  He was
sometimes quizzed by Sims and others for his small size.  "I don't mind
it," he answered.  "Though I'm little, I'm good.  If I've a chance, I'll
do something to show what's in me."  The chance came sooner than he
expected.  There were a good many raw hands lately entered, Larry among
others.  From the first he showed no fear of going aloft, looking upon
the business much as he would have done climbing a high tree; but how
the ropes were rove, and what were their uses, he naturally had no
conception.  "Is it to the end of them long boughs there I've got to go,
Misther Terence?" he asked the first time he was ordered aloft, looking
up at the yards as he encountered me, I having been sent forward with an
order to the third lieutenant.

"There's no doubt about it, Larry," I said; "but take care you catch
hold of one rope before you let go of the other," said I, giving him the
same advice which I had myself received.

"Shure I'll be after doing that same, Misther Terence," he answered, as,
following the example of the other men, he sprang into the rigging.  I
watched him going up as long as I could, and he seemed to be getting on
capitally, exactly imitating the movements of the other men.

A day or two afterwards we were all on deck, the men exercising in
reefing and furling sails.  The new hands were ordered to lay out on the
yards, and a few of the older ones to show them what to do.  Larry
obeyed with alacrity; no one would have supposed that he had been only a
few times before aloft.  I had to return to the quarter-deck, where I
was standing with Tom Pim, and we were remarking the activity displayed
by the men.  I saw Larry on the starboard fore-topsail yard-arm, and had
just left Tom, being sent with a message to the gun-room, when, as my
head was flush with the hatchway, I saw an object drop from the yard-arm
into the water.  It looked more like a large ball falling than a human
being, and it didn't occur to me that it was the latter until I heard
the cry of "Man overboard!"  Hastening up again, I sprang into the
mizzen rigging, from which, just before I got there, Tom Pim had plunged
off into the water.  It was ebb tide, and a strong current was running
out of the river Lee past the ship.  The man who had fallen had not
sunk, but was fast drifting astern, and seemed unconscious, for he was
not struggling, lying like a log on the water.  Tom Pim, with rapid
strokes, was swimming after him.  I heard the order given to lower a
boat.  Though not a great swimmer, I was about to follow Tom to try and
help him, when a strong arm held me back.

"Are you a good swimmer, youngster?" asked the first lieutenant, the
person who had seized hold of me.

"Not very," I answered.

"Then stay aboard, or we shall be having to pick you up instead of
saving the man who fell overboard.  I know Pim well; he'll take care of
himself."

Saying this, the lieutenant stepped in on deck again, taking me with
him.  While he superintended the lowering of the boat, I ran aft, and
watched Tom and the drowning man.  Just then I caught sight of the
countenance of the latter, and to my dismay, I saw that he was no other
than Larry Harrigan.  The boats usually employed were away, and the one
now lowered was not in general use, and consequently had in her all
sorts of things which should not have been there.  It appeared a long
time before she was in the water.  I watched my poor foster-brother with
intense anxiety, expecting to see him go down before Tom could reach
him.  He was on the point of sinking when my gallant little messmate got
up to him, and throwing himself on his back, placed Larry's head on his
own breast, so as completely to keep it out of the water.  My fear was
that Larry might come to himself and begin to struggle or get hold of
Tom, which might be fatal to both.  They were drifting farther and
farther away from the ship.  Tom had not uttered one cry for help,
evidently being confident that the boat would be sent to pick them up.
Every movement of his showed that he was calm, and knew perfectly what
he was about.  At length the boat was got into the water, the first
lieutenant and four hands jumped into her, and away the men pulled as
fast as they could lay their backs to the oars.  It was blowing fresh,
and there was a good deal of ripple in the harbour, so that the wavelets
every now and then washed over Tom.  Suddenly Larry, coming to himself,
did what I feared; he seized hold of Tom, and in another instant would
have dragged him down had not Tom dexterously got clear and held him up
by the collar of his shirt.  The boat was quickly up to them, and they
were, to my intense satisfaction, safely hauled on board.  She then
rapidly pulled back to the ship, and both greatly exhausted, Larry being
scarcely conscious, were lifted up on deck.  McPherson, the
assistant-surgeon, who had been summoned at once, ordered Tom to be
taken below.

"Never mind me," said Tom.  "I shall be all to rights presently, when
I've changed and had a cup of grog.  You'll let me have that, won't you,
McPherson?  And now you go and attend to the poor fellow who wants you
more than I do."

"Vara true; he ought, from the way he fell, to have broken every bone in
his body; and it's wonderful he did not do it.  He seems, indeed, not to
be much the worse for his fall, except a slight paralysis," he remarked
when he had finished his examination.  "Take him down to the sick bay,
and I'll treat him as he requires."

I first went below to thank Tom Pim for saving my follower, and to
express my admiration of his courage and resolution.

"Oh, it's nothing," he answered; "I can swim better than you, or you'd
have done the same."

I then went forward, where I found Larry--his wet clothes stripped off--
between the blankets, in a hammock.

The doctor administered a stimulant, and directed that he should be
rubbed on the side on which he had fallen.

"Shure that's a brave young gentleman to save me from going to the
bottom, Misther Terence dear; and I'll be mighty grateful to him as long
as I live," he said to me.

Having spent some time with Larry, who was ordered to remain in his
hammock, I returned to the midshipmen's berth.

All were loud in their praises of Tom.  Tom received them very modestly,
and said that though he felt very glad at being able to save the poor
fellow, he didn't see anything to be especially proud of in what he had
done.

By the next morning Larry was almost well, only complaining of a little
stiffness in one side of the body.

"He may thank his stars for being an Irishman," said McPherson; "no
ordinary mortal could have fallen from aloft as he did, into the water,
without breaking his bones, or being stunned."

Larry could scarcely believe that it was little Tom Pim who had saved
him from drowning.

"Shure, young gintleman, I'll be after lovin' ye, and fightin' for ye,
and seein' that no harm comes to ye, all the days of my life!" he
exclaimed, the first time he met Tom afterwards on deck.  "I'm mighty
grateful to ye, sir, that I am."

I was very sure that Larry meant what he said, and, should opportunity
offer, would carry out his intentions.

We were seated talking in the berth after tea, when old Nettleship was
sent for into the cabin.  There were many surmises as to what the
captain wanted him for.  After some time, to my surprise, I was
summoned.  I found it was only Nettleship that wanted to see me on deck.

"Paddy," he said, "we are to have an expedition on shore, and you are
wanted to take part in it, and so is your countryman, Larry Harrigan.
The captain, Mr Saunders, and I have planned it.  We want some more
hands, and we hear that there are a goodish lot hiding away in the town.
They are waiting till the men-of-war put to sea, when they think that
they will be safe.  They are in the hands of some cunning fellows, and
it'll be no easy matter to trap them unless we can manage to play them a
trick.  I can't say that I like particularly doing what we propose, but
we're bound to sacrifice our own feelings for the good of the service."

"What is it?"  I asked.  "Of course I should be proud to be employed in
anything for the good of the service."

"All right, Paddy; that's the spirit which should animate you.  Now
listen.  Mr Saunders and I are going on shore with a strong party of
well-armed men, and we want you and the boy Harrigan--or rather, the
captain wants you, for remember he gives the order--to go first and
pretend that you have run away from a man-of-war, and want to be kept in
hiding till she has sailed.  You, of course, are to dress up as seamen
in old clothes--the more disreputable and dirty you look the better.  We
know the houses where the men are stowed away, in the lowest slums of
Cork, and we can direct you to them.  You're to get into the confidence
of the men, and learn what they intend doing; when you've gained that,
you're to tell them that one of the lieutenants of your ship is going on
shore with a small party of men, to try and press anybody he can find,
and that you don't think he knows much about the business, as he is a
stupid Englishman, and advise them to lie snug where they are.  Then
either you or Harrigan can offer to creep out and try and ascertain in
what direction the press-gang is going.  There are several houses
together, with passages leading from one to the other, so that if we get
into one, the men are sure to bolt off into another; and it must be your
business to see where they go, and Harrigan must shut the door to
prevent their escape, or open it to let us in.  I now only describe the
outlines of our plan.  I'll give you more particulars as we pull up the
river.  We shall remain at Passage till after dark, and you and your
companion in the meanwhile must make your way into the town."

"But shure won't I be after telling a lie if I say that Larry and I are
runaway ship-boys?"  I asked.

"Hush, that's a strong expression.  Remember that it's all for the good
of the service," said Nettleship.

Still I was not altogether satisfied that the part I was about to play
was altogether an honourable one.

He, however, argued the point with me, acknowledging that he himself
didn't think so, but that we were bound to put our private feelings into
our pockets when the good of the service required it.  He now told me to
go and speak to Larry, but on no account to let any one hear me, lest
the expedition might get wind among the bumboat women, who would be sure
to convey it on shore.

To my surprise, Larry was perfectly prepared to undertake the duty
imposed on him, feeling flattered at being employed, and taking rather a
pleasure at the thoughts of having to entrap some of our countrymen.

"They may grumble a little at first, but they'll be a mighty deal better
off on board ship than digging praties, or sailing in one of those
little craft out there," he said, with a look of contempt at the
merchant vessels.

Mr Saunders took me into his cabin, and made me rig out in a suit of
clothes supplied by the purser.  I had to rub my hair about till it was
like a mop; then, with some charcoal and a mixture of some sort, he
daubed my face over in such a way that I didn't know myself when I
looked in his shaving-glass.

"You'll do, Paddy," said Nettleship when he saw me.  "We must be giving
a touch or two to Harrigan.  He seems a sharp fellow, and will play his
part well, I have no doubt."

In a short time the boats were ready.  We went with Mr Saunders and
Nettleship in the pinnace.  She was accompanied by the jolly-boat, which
it was intended should convey Larry and me into the neighbourhood of the
town.  We were, however, not to go on board her until we reached
Passage.  The crew gave way, and as the tide was in our favour we got
along rapidly.  I found that the expedition we were engaged in was a
hazardous one, especially for Larry and me; for should the men we were
in search of discover who we were, they might treat us as spies, and
either knock our brains out, or stow us away in some place from which we
should not be likely to make our escape.  This, however, rather enhanced
the interest I began to feel in it, and recompensed me for its doubtful
character.

Neither Mr Saunders nor Nettleship looked in the slightest degree like
officers of the Royal Navy.  They were dressed in Flushing coats; the
lieutenant in a battered old sou'-wester, with a red woollen comforter
round his throat; Nettleship had on an equally ancient-looking
tarpaulin, and both wore high-boots, long unacquainted with blacking.
They carried stout cudgels in their hands, their hangers and pistols
being concealed under their coats.  In about an hour and a half we
reached Passage, when Nettleship and Larry and I got into the
jolly-boat.

"I'm going with you," said Nettleship, "that I may direct you to the
scene of operations, and am to wait for Mr Saunders at the `Fox and
Goose,'--a small public-house, the master of which knows our object and
can be trusted."

Nettleship, as we pulled away, minutely described over and over again
what Larry and I were to do, so that I thought there was no chance of
our making any mistake, provided matters went as he expected.  It was
dark by the time we reached Cork.  The boat pulled into the
landing-place, and Larry and I, with two of the men, went ashore, and
strolled lazily along a short distance, looking about us.  This we did
in case we should be observed; but on reaching the corner, Larry and I,
as we had been directed, set off running, when the two men returned to
the boat, which was to go to another landing-place a little way higher
up, whence Nettleship and his party were to proceed to our rendezvous.
When we had got a little distance we pulled up, and to be certain that
we had made no mistake, we inquired the name of the street of a
passer-by.  We found that we were all right.  We now proceeded
stealthily along to the lane where Mother McCleary's whisky-shop was
situated.  I had no difficulty in recognising the old woman, as she had
been well described to me.  Her stout slatternly figure, her bleared
eyes, her grog-blossomed nose,--anything but a beauty to look at.  Her
proceedings were not beautiful either.  Going to the end of the counter
where she was standing, I tipped her a wink.

"Hist, mither!  Can yer be after taking care of two poor boys for a
night or so?"  I asked.

"Where do yer come from?" she inquired, eyeing us.

"Shure it's from the say," answered Larry, who had undertaken to be
chief spokesman.  "We've just run away from a thundering big king's
ship, and don't want to go back again."

"Why for?" asked the old woman.

"For fear of a big baste of a cat which may chance to score our backs,
if she doesn't treat us worse than that."



CHAPTER EIGHT.

THE PRESS-GANG.

"That's a big thundering lie," I heard Larry whisper.

"Come in," said the old woman, lifting up the flap of the counter.
"I'll house yer if yer can pay for yer board and lodging."

"No fear of that, ma'am," I replied, showing some silver which I had
ready in my pocket for the purpose.

"Come along, my boys," she answered, her eyes twinkling at the thought
of being able to fleece us, as she led us into a small room at the back
of the shop.

There was no one else in the place at the time, except a boy attending
to the counter, so that there was little chance of our being observed.
Having lit a small lantern, the old woman drew aside a curtain at the
further end of the room, which had served to conceal a strong-looking
door; then taking a big key out of her pocket, she opened it, and told
us to go through.  Carefully closing the door behind her, she led the
way along a narrow dark passage.  It seemed of considerable length.  At
last we reached another door, and emerged into a court or alley,
crossing which she opened a third door, and told us to pass through.  We
obeyed, and followed her past a couple of rooms, in one of which several
men were sitting, drinking and smoking.  Unlocking another door, she
showed us into a much larger apartment than any we had as yet seen.
Though low, it was spacious enough to be called a hall I took in the
appearance of the place at a glance.  On one side was a recess with a
counter before it, at which a couple of damsels were serving out liquors
and various sorts of provisions.  At the further end, four large casks
supported some planks which served as a platform, and on this a chair
was placed,--the seat being evidently for a musician.  Three doors
besides the one by which we had entered opened from the room, which was
occupied by a dozen or more rough-looking men, mostly sailors.  Some
were standing at the counter, others lounging on benches round the
walls, most of them having dhudeens in their mouths.  The place was
redolent with the fumes of whisky and tobacco.  No one took notice of us
as we entered, but, seeing Mother McCleary, seemed satisfied that all
was right.

"You'll find a stair through that doorway," she said, pointing to one
near the orchestra, if so it could be called; "it will lead you to the
sleeping-room, where you'll be after finding some beds.  You'll remember
that first come first served, and if you don't be tumbling into one it
will be your own fault, and you'll have to prick for the softest plank
in the corner of the room.  Now, boys, you'll be after handing me out a
couple of shillings each.  I don't give credit, except to those I happen
to know better than I do you."

I paid the money at once for Larry and myself.  The old woman, bidding
us make ourselves at home, returned by the way she had come, locking the
door behind her.  I soon found that we were among as ruffianly and
disreputable a set of fellows as I had ever fallen in with, but none of
them interfered with us, and I began to doubt whether we should obtain
the information we were in search of.  To try to get into conversation
with some one, we walked up to the counter, took a pork pie apiece, and
called for a glass of whisky, which we prudently mixed with plenty of
water.  "Don't be drinking much of it," I said to Larry, "it's as hot as
fire."

Two seamen then came up, and I asked one of them when the fun was to
begin.  Arrah, then it'll be before long, when Tim Curtin, the fiddler,
has come to himself; but he's been drunk all the blessed morning, since
last night, and they're dousing him outside with cold water to bring him
to.  My new acquaintance being evidently inclined to be communicative, I
plied him with further questions, and I gained his confidence by calling
for another glass of whisky, with which I insisted on treating him.  I,
however, let Larry carry on the chief part of the conversation.

"If you've run from a man-of-war, you'll have to lie snug as mice in
their holes till she sails, or there's three dozen at least for each of
you, if they don't run you up at the yard-arm, as they did at Portsmouth
the other day to a poor boy, just because he wanted to go home to his
wife and family," said the man.

This, though a fact as far as the hanging was concerned, I hadn't heard
of before.  Larry didn't show that he doubted the truth of the story,
but pretended to be very frightened.

"Thin what should we be after doing?" he asked.

"Why, as I tell yer," he said, keep close; "you'll be wise not to show
your noses out of doors for a week or two to come, if you've got money
enough to pay old Mother McCleary, for she doesn't keep us boys for
nothing, you may stake yer davey."

"What should we be after doing, then, supposing the press-gang were to
come down upon us and find us out?" asked Larry.

"It will be at the end of a long day before the press-gang get in here;
but see now, there's a room overhead where you can sleep secure, either
in bed or out of it.  Then there's that door in the middle of the room,
that leads to a long passage, just like the one you passed through when
you came in here.  At the end of it there's a court, and on the opposite
side you'll find a door.  Go through that when it opens, which it will
do when you have given three raps quick together, and you'll be in a
house with well-nigh as many rooms and cellars as there's days in the
month.  It will be a hard matter if you don't stow yourselves away out
of sight in one of them.  I'll be after showing you the way by and by,
when the dancing is over, and we've had a few more glasses of Mother
McCleary's whisky."

While our friend, whose name we had not as yet learned, was speaking, I
observed several more persons entering the room; and presently others
came in, carrying among them a humpbacked little fellow, with a fiddle
under his arm, who seemed scarcely able to walk by himself.  They made
their way to the platform I have described, and speedily lifted him into
the chair.

"Strike up, Tim," cried several voices.  "Give us a tune to set our feet
agoing.  Be alive, man, if you know now where you are."

Tim, though apparently half-asleep, put his fiddle to his chin, and
began scraping away, nodding his head and stamping with his foot in time
to the tune he was eliciting from his instrument.  The effect was
magical.  The whole party, men and women,--there were not a few of the
latter, not among the most refined of their sex,--began dancing jigs.
Tim next played slower, but his speed increased again as he saw the
dancers warming to their work, till his bow moved so rapidly over the
strings of his fiddle, and his arm and his head gave such eccentric
jerks, that I half expected at any moment to see the one fly off at a
tangent and the other come bounding into the middle of the room.  Larry
and I kept on one side, trying to look greatly interested with the
performance, while we managed to have a few words now and then with some
of the men, who were either seated on the benches or standing against
the wall.  Among them were several who had not the appearance of seamen,
and who, I surmised, were highwaymen or housebreakers.  Two of them were
especially ruffianly looking.  As I examined the countenance of one of
these, I felt convinced that I had seen it before, and not long ago
either.  I was careful, however, that he should not discover that I was
observing him.  I took an opportunity of asking Larry if he knew who the
man was.

"Shure it's no other than Dan Hoolan himself," he answered.  I fancied
that at length his keen eyes were directed on Larry, whom he was more
likely to recognise than me, seeing that I was the most completely
disguised of the two.

At length, having gained all the information we could, I determined to
try and get out of the place, so that I might make my way to Nettleship,
and show him the best situation for posting his men to capture any who
might attempt to escape.  It had been arranged that Nettleship's party
was to enter the grog-shop one by one; then, at a signal, force their
way along the passage through which Mother McCleary had led us.

"I'm mighty afraid the press-gang will be coming this way, and if this
hullaballoo reaches their ears, they'll be after putting their noses in
to see what the fun is about.  If they're from our own ship, bedad, we
shall be worse off than we would have been outside," I said to our new
acquaintance, who, by this time, was not quite steady on his pins.  "I'd
just like to slip away, and try and find out if they're near this at
all.  My mate here is plaised to stay behind, as he's mighty eager to
dance himself."

After further pressing the point with all necessary caution, our new
friend, Barney Reillagan, as he called himself, offered to show me the
way out, and to let me in again when I wished to return.

"You're free of the place, I'm supposing; and shure I am that I may be
after trusting you," he observed as he accompanied me into the passage I
spoke of.

I hoped that we were unobserved by Hoolan or any of the other men, who
might have suspicions of my true character.  Larry followed so
noiselessly, that I do not think Barney was aware he was with us.
Larry's object was to see that no harm came to me; and besides which, he
wanted to learn how to let me in again on my return.  Barney himself was
apparently an open-hearted seaman, who preferred serving on board a
peaceable trader to a man-of-war, and I had no fear of his playing me
false.

We had to grope our way to the end of the passage, which was as long as
he had described.  Unbolting a door, Barney led me out into a narrow
court.  I could hear even there the strains of the riddle, and the
shouts and screams of the dancers.  Barney told me that if I turned to
the left I should come to a narrow archway, which led into the lane, and
that by turning again to the left, I should come to the front of Mother
McCleary's whisky-shop.

This information was sufficient to enable me to find my way without
difficulty.  I was somewhat surprised at the ease with which I had made
my escape.  I had little doubt of being able to bring Nettleship and his
men up to the right place.  My only anxiety was about Larry, who, if
recognised by Dan Hoolan, might be severely handled, if not killed,--for
so determined a ruffian was not likely to hesitate in committing any
act, however atrocious, should he suspect Larry of treachery.

I slipped out into the court, and Barney closed the door after me.  The
night was very dark; but I could see two or three shadowy forms flitting
by, though no one stopped me.  Now and then a ruffian voice, a wild
shriek, or a child's cry, came from the narrow windows looking into the
court.  I walked on as fast as I could venture to move, till I found the
narrow archway which Barney had described, and emerged into a lane,
which, however, was not much broader than the court.  Here the sounds of
wrangling voices, and shouts, and the drunkards' wild songs, broke the
stillness of night.  A few men rolled by, who had come out of Mother
McCleary's whisky-shop, or other similar establishments; but I carefully
kept out of their way till I arrived at the "Fox and Goose," where I
expected to find Nettleship.  It hadn't occurred to me, however, that I
might have been followed, and our plan for trapping the seamen
discovered.  I at once entered, and found my messmate with his men ready
to set out.

"You've been longer than I expected, Paddy; but I hope it's all right,"
he said.

"If we are quick about it, I expect we shall catch a good number," I
answered.  "Where is Mr Saunders?  We shall require a strong party to
overpower the fellows, especially as there are some desperate ruffians
among them;" and I told him how I had discovered the outlaw, Dan Hoolan.

"Mr Saunders is waiting just outside, round the corner," he said.
"I'll go out and tell him that you have come back, and meanwhile you
remain here."

In a short time Nettleship returned.

"You are to accompany Mr Saunders," he said, "and lead his party round
to the court, while I and my men take charge of Mother McCleary, so that
no one may escape on this side."

Mr Saunders welcomed me in a good-natured voice.

"You have done well thus far, my lad.  I've no doubt that we shall trap
some of them," he said, when I had given a description of the place and
the characters it contained.  "I have got hold of a man who knows the
town, and will lead us round by a different way to the court to that by
which you escaped, while Nettleship goes directly up the lane," he
added.  "Come along!"

We set out at a rapid rate; the men being charged to make as little
noise with their feet as possible.  We must have gone a considerable way
round, for it seemed a long while before we reached the archway, which I
at once recognised.  The lieutenant led, with a pistol in one hand and
his hanger in the other, knowing that he was likely to be treated with
scant ceremony should he encounter any of the residents of that
neighbourhood.

"Now," he said to me, stopping, "do you creep forward and learn if
Harrigan is at the door ready to open it.  If not, wait to get in
yourself, and then take the first opportunity of admitting us.  If you
can't get in we must try and force the door open, but it would be a
great matter to get along the passage, so as to rush in upon the fellows
while they are at their revels, and before they expect our approach."

As he spoke we could hear the sound of Tim Curtin's fiddle, and the hum
of voices coming from the interior of the building.  Our fear was that
any of the inmates of the neighbouring dens might be awake, and,
catching sight of us, might give the alarm, and allow the men time to
escape.  As far as I had learned, however, the door we were now watching
and Mother McCleary's whisky-shop were the only outlets, though there
might be underground passages and cellars and holes, where, should they
stow themselves away, we might find it difficult to discover them.

As I crept forward, I felt my heart beating more than it was wont to
do,--not from fear, certainly, but from anxiety to succeed.  I didn't
like the business; I considered it a dirty one; but I was acting
according to my orders, and for the good of the service.  I had been
told to give three rapid knocks, followed by others at short intervals,
at the opposite door, and I concluded that this would be opened should I
make the same signal.  Without loss of a moment I knocked, and presently
I heard a bolt withdrawn, then another and another.

"Is that yourself?" asked a voice that I knew to be Larry's.

"Yes, to be shure, and no other," I answered in the same tone.

The door opened slightly.

"They're suspecting me," said Larry.  Be quick.

Mr Saunders, who was on the watch, hearing this, dashed forward,
followed by his men.  They sprang, led by the lieutenant, one after the
other, into the passage, nearly knocking Larry and me over.  There was
not a moment to be lost, we knew, for the door at the further end was
closed with a loud slam before we reached it, but not being as strong as
the one on the outside, it was quickly battered in, when we caught sight
of a dozen or more fellows, some trying to escape up-stairs, others
through the two passages I have mentioned.  Three or four of the men,
however, stood their ground in front of the passage leading to the
whisky-shop, with hangers or pistols in their hands, which they
apparently had just taken up from the corner of the room where they had
deposited them.  Among these I recognised Dan Hoolan.  Bestowing a not
very complimentary epithet on Larry and me, he flourished his hanger and
dared any one to come on and touch him.

"I and my friends here are not seamen," he exclaimed.  "You're after
trying to press some of the poor fellows, I suppose; but if any man
tries to lay hands on me, he'll be wise to say his prayers before he
begins."

"I intend to lay hands on you, and every fellow I find here," said Mr
Saunders.  "Drop your hanger, or you'll have to repent the day you drew
it."

Hoolan answered with a scornful laugh, and made a blow at the
lieutenant, who, however, parried it.

At that moment the door behind him was burst open, and in rushed
Nettleship and his party, who threw themselves at once upon Hoolan.  The
outlaw fired his pistol at my head, but fortunately his arm was thrown
up, and the ball struck the ceiling.  His men, seeing their leader
overpowered, made but little resistance.  But we had not yet got the men
whose capture was desired.  Mr Saunders, leaving Nettleship to secure
those below, followed Larry and me up the stairs.

In the meantime the female part of the assemblage, some of whom had
retired to different parts of the room, were saluting us with the most
fearful cries and execrations.  The lieutenant, however, took no more
notice of them than if they had been so many lambs bleating, and at once
hurried up the stairs to the room above, where we found well-nigh a
score of men, some trying to make their way out of the window, but
which, having been closed, they had only just then succeeded in opening;
others hiding inside the beds or under them.  Three or four got away,
but the remainder were knocked over by our men, or captured without
resistance, scarcely any attempting to defend themselves.  Our success
had been as complete as could have been hoped for.  Our captives were
quickly dragged down the stairs, when Mr Saunders ordered the women to
clear out of the house forthwith, and proceeded to lash the hands of the
men behind their backs.  It was very easy to give the order to the
women, but not so easy to get it obeyed.  They shrieked and abused us in
a way in which few of the female sex can beat the lower orders of my
countrywomen.  At length, however, finding that their eloquence had no
effect, they retreated through the door that we had left open.  It
turned out that the means of escape were not so elaborate as had been
supposed, and, as far as we could learn, all the men in the
neighbourhood had on this occasion collected at Mother McCleary's.  Most
of those we had captured behaved quietly enough, but Hoolan and two or
three others made violent efforts to escape, till a prog or two from a
cutlass compelled them to be quiet.

"And what are you going to do with me, a landsman who never was to sea
in his life?" exclaimed Hoolan.

"We shall turn you into a sailor before long, my fine fellow," answered
Mr Saunders.  "You'll be wiser to walk along, and quietly too, as we've
no time for nonsense."

Our prisoners were now marshalled, in most cases with a seaman to attend
to each.  Hoolan had two to look after him, though one guard sufficed
for some of the more peaceably disposed.  Nettleship led the way, and
Mr Saunders and I brought up the rear, Larry being employed in guarding
a fellow twice his size, with orders to cut him down if he made any
resistance.

"We must be out of this as fast as we can," said Mr Saunders to me,
"for very likely those fellows who made their escape will rouse their
friends, and we may have a mob of all the ruffians in the town upon us
before we can reach the boats."

What had become of Mother McCleary and her assistants we could not tell.
She probably thought it wise to keep out of the way, lest any of her
late guests might suspect her of betraying them, as she probably had
done.  We had not got more than half-way towards the boats, when our
ears were saluted by a chorus of yells and shrieks, and we could
distinguish through the gloom on either side of us a mass of human
beings, apparently intending to attempt the rescue of our prisoners.

"I warn you, good people, that if you come nearer, I'll give my men
orders to fire on you," shouted my lieutenant.

A volley of wild yells burst from the mob, sufficient to unnerve many
who had not before heard such cries.  Directly afterwards a brickbat
flew past my head, aimed, no doubt, at the more prominent figure of the
lieutenant.  Fortunately, it missed us both.

"Remember, if any of you are killed, you'll have brought the punishment
on yourselves," again shouted the lieutenant.

Though the people yelled as before, the warning had its effect, and we
could see the dark moving mass retreating to a more respectful distance.
They, apparently, only wanted a leader to make an onslaught.  That
leader, however, was not to be found.  Had Hoolan been at liberty, I
have no doubt but that we should have fared but ill.  As it was,
missiles from a distance came flying by us, though the prisoners
suffered more than we did.  Mr Saunders was naturally anxious to avoid
bloodshed.  At length the boats were reached.  Again Hoolan made a
desperate effort to get free, but he was hauled on board, and thrust
down to the bottom of the pinnace, the rest of the men being disposed
of, some in her, and others in the jolly-boat, of which Nettleship took
charge.  As we shoved off the people collected on the quay, saluting us
with renewed yells and execrations, and brickbats, stones, mud, and
filth were hurled at us.  We speedily, however, got beyond their reach,
no one receiving any serious damage.

"We've made a fine haul," observed Mr Saunders as we pulled down the
river.  "We shall soon turn these fellows into good seamen, as obedient
and quiet as lambs."

"I'm thinking, sir, that you'll not find Dan Hoolan as quiet as a lamb,"
I observed; and I told him of the encounter my uncle and I had had with
the outlaw and his followers.

"That'll make no difference," answered Mr Saunders.  "When he finds
that he can't escape, if he's got any sense in his brains he'll bend to
circumstances."

I still, however, doubted whether my lieutenant's opinion would prove
right.

When the boats arrived alongside the frigate, our captives, being unable
to help themselves, were hoisted up like bales of goods, and made to
stand on the deck in a line.  They all looked sulky enough as the
lantern was held up to their faces; but Hoolan's countenance wore a
ferocious aspect, which made me think that it would have been as well to
have left him on shore to be hanged, which in all probability would
ultimately have been his fate.  Mr Saunders had changed his rough dress
for his proper uniform, and as he went round to inspect the prisoners
Hoolan recognised him, and so savage did he look that I thought he would
have sprung at his throat.

"Are you the captain of the ship?" he asked in a fierce tone.

"No, I'm not the captain, but an officer, who you'll be compelled to
obey," answered Mr Saunders, interrupting him.  "Keep down what was
rising to your tongue, or it'll be the worse for you."

"I'm no seaman, and I don't want to be after going to sea; and I beg you
to tell me for what reason you knocked me down against the law?"

"You were found among seamen, and if you're not one we'll make you one
before long, my fine fellow," said the lieutenant.

"Arrah, it'll be a hard matter to do that same," cried Hoolan, but he
spoke in a less savage tone than at first.

"We shall see to that," said Mr Saunders as he passed on to the other
men, most of whom appeared quiet enough.  Even Hoolan's followers didn't
venture to say anything, having a just conception of the stern
discipline on board a man-of-war.  The execution of one or more seamen
for frequent desertion, of which I have before spoken, showed them that
they could not venture to play tricks with impunity.

Having had their names,--or such as they chose to give,--ages, and other
particulars entered, they were sent down to the main-deck under a strong
guard, with a hint that should they exhibit the slightest degree of
insubordination it would be the worse for them.

The light of a lantern happened to fall on my face while I was passing
Hoolan, who, with the rest, were seated on the deck, where they were to
pass the remainder of the night.  He started up, and glaring savagely at
me, with a fierce oath exclaimed, as he stretched out his arm--

"There's one of the young traitors who brought us into this trouble.  I
wish we had strung you up to Saint Bridget's oak when we had you and
your uncle in our power."

"Then, as I thought, you are Dan Hoolan," I said.  "You have now a
chance of leading an honest life, and I'd advise you to take advantage
of it."

Hoolan, without replying, sank back on the deck.

I was glad enough to turn in, and slept soundly till the hammocks were
piped up next morning.

On coming on deck I saw Blue Peter flying at the masthead of our own
ship, and at those of the two other men-of-war, a frigate and a
corvette, and of all the merchantmen.  The admiral fired a signal-gun.
We repeated it, and before the smoke had cleared away the merchantmen
let fall their topsails, we setting them the example; the anchor was
hove up to the merry sound of the fife, and, taking the lead, we stood
out of the Cove of Cork with a fair breeze, the other frigate and
corvette acting as whippers-in.

The sky was clear and the sea smooth.  We hove-to outside to wait for
the vessels we were to convoy.  In half an hour or so they were all out
of the harbour.  Besides the men-of-war there were fully sixty
merchantmen; and a beautiful sight they presented, dotting the blue
ocean with their white sails.

We were bound out to Jamaica, where we were to leave the larger number
of vessels, and proceed with the others to their several destinations,
having then to return to Port Royal.  Two line-of-battle ships came out
afterwards to convoy the fleet till we were well away from the coast,
that, should we be seen by an enemy, it might be supposed that we were
too strong a force to be attacked.

I should have said that when we were getting under weigh I saw Hoolan,
and the other pressed men, dressed as man-of-war's men, working away at
the capstan.  He evidently didn't like his task, but could not help
himself, as he had to go round with the others pressing against the
capstan bars.  He and the other landsmen were set to perform such work
as they were capable of, of course being compelled to pull and haul when
sail was made or shortened.

"I'm after thinking, Mr Terence, that Dan Hoolan, though he's mighty
quiet just now, will be playing us some prank or other before long, if
he can find a chance," observed Larry to me.

"Well, then, Larry, just keep an eye on him, and let me know what he's
about.  I don't want to make you an eavesdropper, but for the man's own
sake he must not be allowed to attempt any mischief.  He'd be sure to
have the worst of it."

"Arrah now, of course he would, Mr Terence.  They're honest boys aboard
here, and they'd soon clap him in limbo," observed Larry as I passed on
along the deck.

He had already become thoroughly imbued with the right spirit of a
British seaman.

I gave myself, however, little concern about Hoolan after this.

For some time we had a favourable breeze; the sea was calm, and
everything went smoothly.  We had plenty of work keeping the squadron
together, compelling the fast vessels to shorten sail, and the laggards
to make it.  Some ran on with only their topsails set.  Others had
studding-sails set on either side.  We were all day long sending the
bunting up and down, and firing guns as signals.

"Why are all those bits of coloured stuff hoisted to the masthead?"
asked Larry.  "They tell me that the captain makes the young gentlemen
run them up and down to keep their fingers warm."

I explained to him that each flag represented a figure or number, and
sometimes a word or a sentence, according to the distinguishing pennant
hoisted over it.  For which purpose every vessel was provided with a
book of signals, and we could thus communicate with each other just as
if we were speaking.



CHAPTER NINE.

A FIGHT AT SEA.

The ocean continued so calm, that Larry was quite cock-a-hoop, thinking
that he had become a perfect seaman.  "I have heard tell, Maisther
Terence, that the say runs mountains high, for all the world like the
hills of Connemara, but I'm after thinking that these are all landsmen's
notions.  We have been getting along for all the world like ducks in a
pond."

The very next day, Larry had a different tale to tell.  In the morning
the line-of-battle ships parted from us, and we, the _Amethyst_ frigate,
and the _Piper_ corvette, had to continue our course alone, to protect
our somewhat erratic convoy.  Dark clouds were seen coming up from the
north-west.  The scud sped across the sky, the spin-drift flying over
the fast-rising seas.  In a short time the ship began to pitch into them
as if determined to hammer them down, but they, not inclined to receive
such treatment patiently, sent masses of spray flying over our bows, as
if to show what they were capable of doing, should she persevere in her
attempt.  The merchantmen on all sides were bobbing away, and kicking up
their sterns in the same comical fashion; and even the other frigate and
corvette were playing similar pranks.  The tacks were got aboard,
however, and on we all went together, now heeling over when a stronger
blast than usual struck us, till the water came hissing in at our
main-deck ports.  Sail after sail was taken off the ship.  Now she rose
almost on an even keel, and then again heeled over as before.  The
convoy followed our example, though not with the same rapidity.  The
sheets had been let go, and the sails of some were flying wildly in the
breeze.  Three or four lost their loftier masts and lighter spars, but
they were still compelled to keep up by the signals which we or the
_Amethyst_ threw out.  At length I had to go aloft.  I could not say
that I liked it.  It seemed to me that with the eccentric rolls the ship
was making, I might at any moment be jerked off into the seething ocean;
but I recollected Tom Pim's advice, and held on with teeth and eyelids.
I got on, however, very well while I was aloft, and I managed somehow or
other to reach the deck.  Then--oh! how truly miserable I began to feel.
Every moment I became worse and worse.  As it happened, my watch was
just over, and I descended to the berth.  When I got there my head
dropped on the table.  I felt as I had never felt before; as utterly
unlike as could be the brave Tipperary boy I fancied myself.

"Why, Paddy, what's come over you?" exclaimed Nettleship, who had just
then come below.  "Why, you look as if you had heard the banshee howl,
or dipped your face into a pot of white paint."

"Oh! oh!"  I exclaimed, my lip curling, and feeling the most miserable
of human beings, so I fancied.  I could utter no other articulate sound.

"Get up, youngster, and dance a hornpipe," cried Nettleship; "or I'll
just send to the galley for a lump of fat pork, and if you'll swallow an
ounce or so, it will do you all the good in the world."

The very mention of the fat pork finished me off.  I bolted out of the
berth, which was to windward, and went staggering away to the opposite
side of the ship, having made a vain attempt to get to the main-deck,
upsetting Tom Pim in my course, and not stopping till I pitched right
against Doctor McCall, our surgeon, much after the manner that I had
treated old Rough-and-Ready.  Our good medico, not being so secure as
the lieutenant on his pins, was unfortunately upset, and together we
rolled into his dispensary, out of which he was at that moment coming.
There we lay, amidst a quantity of phials, jars, and gallipots, which,
having been improperly secured, came crashing down upon us.  The doctor
kicked and struggled, and endeavoured to rise, but I was too far gone to
make any effort of the sort.  Had he been inclined, he might have
pounded me to death before I should have cried out for mercy.  I was
unable even to say that I could not help it, though he must have known
that well enough.  I need not describe what happened.  Fortunately he
had got to his feet before the occurrence to which I wish only
delicately to allude took place.  I felt wonderfully better.

"Why, Paddy, is it you, my boy?" he exclaimed, not a bit angry; for
being a good-natured man, he was ready to make every allowance for the
occurrence.

"I believe it's myself, sir; though I'm not altogether clear about it,"
I answered as I got up and tried to crawl out of the place.

"Stay, youngster, you shall have something before you go which will set
you to rights," he said in a kind tone.

As well as he could, with the ship pitching and rolling, he poured out a
mixture, which he handed to me, and bade me drink off.  It revived me
considerably, though I still felt very shaky.

"If I should ever want to have a leg or an arm cut off, I hope, sir,
that you'll do it for me," I said, for I could think of nothing else at
the moment to express my gratitude.

The doctor laughed.  "I wish you better luck than that, my boy," he
observed.  "What makes you say that?"

"Because, sir, you didn't find fault with me for tumbling you over; now,
when I ran against Mr Saunders, he sent me to the masthead for a couple
of hours."

"You were skylarking then, my lad, and the ship was not pitching and
tumbling about as she now is," he said.  "However, go and lie down in
the berth, if you can find room there, and you'll soon be all to
rights."

I willingly obeyed his injunctions, while he sent to have his dispensary
cleaned, and the phials and gallipots which had escaped fracture picked
up.  I believe a good many were saved by tumbling upon us instead of
upon the deck.

As Nettleship and the other midshipmen were merciful, I managed to have
a good caulk on the locker.  When I awoke I felt almost like myself
again.  I dreaded, however, having to go on deck to keep watch, and was
much inclined to ask the doctor to put me on the sick list.

In my sufferings I had not forgotten my follower, Larry.  As soon as I
could, I hastened forward to see how he was getting on, as I had
ascertained that it was his watch below.

As I got forward, a scene of human misery and wretchedness presented
itself, such as I had never before witnessed.  Half the marines were
lying about the deck, unable to lift up their heads, while most of the
boys were in the same condition.  Among them I found Larry.  He gazed at
me with lack-lustre eyes as I approached.

"Shure, the say's not at all at all the place I thought it was, Mr
Terence," he groaned forth.  "I've been turned inside out entirely.  I
don't even know whether the inside of me isn't the outside."

There was a general groan, as the ship at that moment pitched into a
sea, and I had to hold on fast, or I should have been sent in among the
mass of human misery.  When she rose again and was steady for an
instant, I was able to speak to Larry.

"I can't say I feel very comfortable myself," I said; "but rouse up and
try to prevent your feelings from overcoming you."

"Och, Master Terence, but my faylings are mighty powerful, and for the
life of me I can't master them," he groaned out.

This was very evident; and what with the smells and the closeness of the
air,--not to speak of the pitching and rolling of the ship,--I was again
almost overpowered, when there came a cry of "All hands save ship!" and
down sprang the boatswain's mates, and began kicking away at the hapless
marines and green hands.  Larry in a moment leaped to his feet I heard a
savage growl close to me, and just then caught sight of Dan Hoolan's
countenance.  Though he was kicked and cuffed, nothing would make him
get up, and I saw him still lying prostrate when I hurried off to gain
the deck.

The ship, struck by a heavy squall, was lying over almost on her
beam-ends; the officers were shouting out their orders through their
speaking-trumpets; the men were hurrying here and there as directed,
some going aloft, others letting fly tacks, and sheets clewing up and
hauling down.  Suddenly the buoyant frigate righted herself.  It seemed
a wonder that none of the men were jerked overboard.  The canvas was
further reduced, and on we went, pounding away into the seas.

Larry was as active as any one.  He seemed to have forgotten all about
his sickness.  It was the last time, too, that I ever suffered from the
malady, and from that day forward--blow high or blow low--I felt as easy
in my inside as I should on shore.  A few spars had been carried away on
board the merchantmen, but, as far as we could see, no other damage had
occurred.

In a couple of days more the gale had completely worn itself out, and
everything went as smoothly as heretofore.  We were then within about a
week's sail of the West Indies.  The weather was now warm and
pleasant,--sometimes, during a calm, a little too hot.

One morning, just at daybreak, the look-out from the masthead announced
that he saw three sail to windward.  The second lieutenant went aloft,
and looked at them with his glass.  When he came down he pronounced two
of them to be frigates, and the other a smaller vessel.  We threw out
signals to the convoy to keep together, while we and the other two
men-of-war, hauling our wind, stood closer to the strangers.  At first
it was supposed that they were English, but their manoeuvres made us
doubt this, and at length they were pronounced decidedly French.  That
they intended to pick off some of the merchantmen there could be no
doubt; and this it was our object to prevent.

"Paddy, my boy," said Tom Pim, coming up to me as I stood looking at the
enemy from the quarter-deck, "we shall have some righting before long,
no doubt about that.  How do you feel?"

"Mighty pleased, and very ready for it," I answered.

"We're fairly matched, I should think," remarked Tom.  "If we could
count the guns of the enemy, I suspect there would not be found the
difference of half a dozen between us.  All depends on the way our ships
are manoeuvred, and how we fight our guns,--though I've no fear on that
score."

It was soon evident that Captain Macnamara intended to fight, and the
order was given to clear the ship for action.  The drum beat to
quarters.  All hands went about their duties with alacrity.  I was sent
down into the cockpit with a message.  There I found the surgeons making
their preparations; with their tourniquets, saws, knives, and other
instruments, arranged ready for the expected operations; and there were
buckets, and bowls of water, and sponges, and various other things
likely to be required.  In the centre was the amputating table, on
which, before long, some poor fellow would probably be stretched, to be
deprived of a leg or an arm; while an odour of vinegar pervaded the
place.

The powder magazine had been opened.  The gunner and his mates were
engaged in serving out the ammunition, which the powder-monkeys were
carrying up on deck in their tubs.  Cutlasses were girded on, and
pistols stuck in belts.  Boarding pikes were arranged so as to be easily
seized if wanted.  The men, hurrying to their respective guns, loaded
and ran them out; and as I passed along the decks I remarked their
countenances all exhibiting their eagerness for the fight.

Among them I observed Hoolan, who had been stationed at a gun.  He was
apparently as ready to fight as any one on board.  His features were as
stern and morose as ever, but there was a fire in his eye, which showed
that he contemplated the approaching battle with more pleasure than
fear.  Judging from the look of the men captured with him, I couldn't
say the same of them.  The crew generally were full of life and spirits,
laughing and joking, as if they had forgotten altogether that in a short
time they would be engaged in a fierce fight.  I found Larry at his gun,
looking as pleased as if he were at a wake or a wedding.

"Shure we'll be after making this fellow bark, Maisther Terence," he
said, slapping the breach.  "If the old chap doesn't drill a hole in the
side of one of those ships out there, or knock away one of their masts,
say I'm not a Tipperary boy."

His remark produced a laugh among the seamen within hearing,--indeed
they evidently thought that whatever Larry said ought to be considered
as a good joke.  Larry seemed to have a notion that his especial gun was
to win the battle.  As a similar feeling seemed to animate the rest of
the crew, it was likely to contribute to our success.

We were still some distance from the enemy, when Tom Pim, Chaffey, and I
were summoned to the quarter-deck, to act as the captain's
aides-de-camp, so that I was enabled to see all that was going forward.
The rest of the midshipmen were stationed mostly on the main-deck, each
in command of a certain number of guns.

The _Liffy_ leading, we were now standing close hauled towards the
enemy, who approached us almost before the wind.

The _Amethyst_ came next to us, and the corvette followed.  We hoped
that within another ten minutes we should get within range of the others
guns, when suddenly the enemy's leading frigate hauled her wind.  Her
consorts immediately afterwards followed her example.  On seeing this,
our captain ordered every stitch of canvas the _Liffy_ could carry to be
set, when, the breeze freshening, we rapidly came up with the enemy.  I
heard some of the officers say that they intended to make off.  The men
at the gun near which I was standing swore at their cowardice, and I
began to think that there would be no fight after all.

Presently the French ships were seen to shorten sail, when our captain
sent the hands again aloft to do the same.  They had barely time to come
down and return to their quarters, when a shot, fired by the leading
French frigate, came flying across our deck.  No one was hit, but a
hammock and part of the hammock-nettings were knocked away.  It showed
what we had to expect.

I expected that the captain would return the compliment, but he waited
calmly till we got nearer.  We were to leeward, it must be understood;
but although that would have been a disadvantage had there been any sea
running, as the ocean was calm it didn't make much difference, while we
were thus better able to protect our convoy, and prevent the enemy from
running among them and committing mischief.

Again the breeze freshened, and standing on, we passed the corvette,
which fired a few shots at us without doing any damage.  We then
received a similar compliment from the second French frigate, several of
her shots striking the _Liffy_.  In a few minutes we were up to our
largest antagonist.  As our bow gun came abreast of her quarter, our
captain shouted, "Fire!" and gun after gun was discharged in rapid
succession, the enemy blazing away at us in return.

The _Amethyst_ was meantime engaged with the second frigate, and the
corvette with the French ship of the same size as herself.

Shot after shot came on board.  First one man was struck down, then
another and another, and several were carried below to be placed under
the hands of the surgeons.  Some were drawn aside, their fighting days
over.  What damage we were producing among the enemy could not at first
be ascertained, for all the ships, from our rapid firing, were enveloped
in clouds of smoke.  Looking up, I could see that our sails were pierced
in several places.  Crash succeeded crash, as the enemy's shot struck
our sides or bulwarks, and sent the splinters flying about in all
directions.

It was somewhat trying work for us, who had nothing to do except to keep
our eyes upon the captain, in case he should have any orders to give us.

We had made sure of capturing one of the French ships, if not all.

Presently, looking astern, I saw the fore-yard of the _Amethyst_ come
down on deck, and shortly afterwards our fore-top mast was carried away.
Our captain, hitherto so calm, stamped his foot on the deck with
vexation.  Our men, to make amends, tossed their guns in and out as if
they had been playthings, firing away with wonderful rapidity; and I
believe the gun at which Larry was stationed fully carried out his
promise of drilling more than one hole in the side of our opponent.  Her
masts and spars were entire, as were those of the other frigate, but
their bulwarks were shattered in several places, which was evident by
the white streaks their sides exhibited.

"Blaze away, my lads," cried the captain.  "We'll still have one of
them, at least, for they'll not long stand the pounding you're giving
them."

Our crew cheered in reply; but just as we had delivered another
broadside, signals having been made on board the leading French frigate,
her crew were seen going aloft, and presently the courses, topgallant
sails, and royals were set, and she stood away close hauled, the other
frigate and corvette doing the same.

Neither the _Amethyst_ nor we were in a condition to follow, and to our
vexation, we saw the enemy escaping from us.  That we had given them a
good pounding was very evident; but whether or not after repairing
damages they would renew the contest was doubtful.

The little _Piper_, being uninjured aloft, gallantly followed, and kept
blazing away at the enemy, till the captain made a signal to her to
return, fearing that she might be overpowered and cut off before we
could sufficiently repair damages to go to her assistance.  She obeyed
the order, and the Frenchmen didn't follow her.  She had received less
damage aloft than we had, though, as we afterwards found, she had lost
several men killed and wounded.  As she came within hail, she reported
that the largest of the French frigates was pumping hard, and had
evidently received much damage, while the second was not in a much
better condition.

This accounted for their not wishing to continue the combat, and
standing away, while it seemed doubtful whether they would venture to
renew it.

We had plenty of work in repairing damages, clearing away the wreck of
the fore-top mast, and getting a new one ready to send aloft.  We could
distinguish the convoy hull down to leeward, waiting the result of the
fight.

I asked Nettleship whether he thought, as soon as we had got to rights,
that we should follow the enemy.

"If our captain were to act as his feelings prompt him, I should have no
doubt about it," he answered.  "Fighting Macnamara, as he is known in
the service, would not let an enemy escape if he could help it; but duty
before all other things, and our duty is to protect the convoy under our
charge.  If we were to go in chase of the enemy, we might lose sight of
the merchantmen, and any rascally privateers might pounce down and carry
off the whole lot of them.  My belief therefore is, that we shall bear
up and let the Frenchmen go their way.  It is not likely, after the
taste they have had of our quality, that they'll again molest us."

Nettleship was right.  The captain ordered the corvette to run down to
the convoy to direct them to stand on under easy sail till we should
join them.  The captain and Mr Saunders, and the other officers, were
exerting themselves to the utmost to get the ships to rights.  The
former sent me down into the cockpit, to learn from the doctor how the
wounded men were getting on, and how many had been killed.  I turned
almost sick as I entered the place.  There was anything but a fresh
smell there now.  I can't properly describe it,--perhaps it was more
like the odour of a butcher's shop in the dog days, when the
blue-bottles are revelling in the abundance hung up for their
inspection.  One poor fellow lay stretched on the table.  The doctor was
just then too busy to speak to me.  I saw a foot sticking out of a
bucket.  It belonged to a leg which had just been taken off the man, who
was in a dead faint.  The assistant-surgeon was endeavouring to restore
him to consciousness, while the surgeon was engaged in taking up the
arteries.  Another, who had lost an arm, was lying on a locker, waiting
to be carried to the sick bay; and several others sat round with their
heads and shoulders bandaged up.  At last the doctor looked up, and I
then delivered my message.  "Five killed and nine wounded, and I'm
afraid one or two of the latter may slip through my fingers," he said.
I was thankful when I was able to hurry back on deck with my report.
The captain was not addicted to the sentimental, but I heard him sigh,
or rather groan, after I had delivered it.  As soon as any of the men
could be spared, the bodies of the killed were sewn up in canvas, with
shot at their feet.  As we had no chaplain on board, the captain read a
portion of the burial service, and the sound of quick successive plunges
told that they had sunk into their ocean grave.  We and the _Amethyst_
then stood away after the convoy.

"Our first action has not been a very glorious one," I observed, when
most of the mess was once more assembled in the berth.  "I made sure we
should have captured one of those frigates."

"It has been a successful one, Paddy, and we should be content with
that," said Nettleship.  "If we had taken one of the enemy, we should be
probably more knocked about than we are, and should have delayed the
merchantmen, or allowed them to run the risk of being captured.  Depend
upon it, our captain will get credit for what he has done, and the
credit he gets will be reflected on us."

The wind fortunately continued fair, the sea smooth, and by the time we
sighted Jamaica we were again all ataunto.  Having seen the greater part
of our charge into Port Royal, and sent the wounded ashore to the
hospital, we stood on with the remainder of the merchantmen to Barbadoes
and other islands, where we left them in safety, and then made our way
back to Port Royal.  We saluted the forts, and the forts saluted us;
flags were flying, the sea glittering, and everything looked gay and
bright as we entered that magnificent harbour.

"Shure it's a beautiful place this, Misther Terence," said Larry to me,
as, the anchor being dropped, and the sails furled, we lay floating
calmly on the placid waters.  "There's only one place to my mind that
beats this, and that's Cork harbour, though, to be sure, the mountains
there are not so high, or the sky so blue as out here."

"Or the sun so hot, Larry," I remarked, "or the people so black.  Did
you ever see Irishmen like that?" and I pointed to a boat manned by
negroes just coming alongside.  Larry had never before seen a
blackamoor, for, as may be supposed, Africans seldom found their way
into Tipperary.

"Shure, your honour, is them Irishmen?" he asked.

"Speak to them, and you'll soon find out, and they'll tell you how long
it has taken the sun to blacken their faces."

"Then, Misther Terence, shall we be after getting our faces painted of
that colour if we stay out here?" he inquired with some trouble in the
tone of his voice.

"Depend upon it, Larry, we shall if we stay long enough," I answered.  I
left Larry to reflect on the matter.  I remembered a story I had heard
of an Irishman who had gone out intending to settle in Demerara, where a
large proportion of the white population have come from the Emerald
Isle.  As soon as the ship had dropped her anchor a number of blacks
came off to her.  The first he spoke to answered in a rich Irish brogue.
The new-comer looked at the negro with astonishment.

"What's your name, my man?" he asked.  "Pat Casey," was the answer.

"And, Pat, say as you love me, how long have you been out here?"

"Little better than six years, your honour," was the reply, such being
the time that had elapsed since the negro had been imported, having in
the meantime had an Irish name given him, and learned to speak Irish.

"Six years, and you have turned from a white-skinned Irishman into a
blackamoor!" exclaimed the new-comer; and not waiting for an answer, he
rushed down into the cabin, which he could not be induced to quit until
the ship sailed again, and he returned home, satisfied that the West
Indies was not a country in which he could wish to take up his abode.

Not long after the conversation I have mentioned, Larry came up to me.

"I've been after talking, Misther Terence, with some of those black
gentlemen, and shure if they're from the old country they've forgotten
all about it, which no raal Irishman would ever do, I'll stake my
davey!" he exclaimed.  "They've never heard of Limerick, or Cork, or
Waterford, or the Shannon, or Ballinahone, and that proves to me that
they couldn't have been in the old country since they were born.  And
now, Misther Terence dear, you were joking shure," he added, giving me
one of his comical looks.

"Well, Larry," I said, "it's a satisfaction to know that it will take us
a long time to turn into niggers, or to forget old Ireland."

As no one was near, I asked him how Dan Hoolan and the other pressed men
were behaving.

"That's just what I wanted to be speaking to you about, Misther
Terence," he answered.  "I'm after thinking that they'll not be on board
many days if they get a chance of slipping on shore.  I heard them one
day talking about it in Irish, forgetting that I understood what they
were saying; and as we had a hand in the taking of them, says I to
myself, we'll not let you go so aisy, my boys, and I'll be after telling
Misther Terence about it."

"You have acted rightly, Larry," I answered.  "It's the duty of every
seaman to prevent mutiny or desertion, and if you hadn't told me the
fellows might have got off, though, to be sure, the best of them are
king's hard bargains."

I took an early opportunity of telling Mr Saunders.

"Thank you, my lad," he answered; "I'll take care that an eye is kept
upon them."

Soon afterwards, while looking over the side, I saw a dark, triangular
object gliding by at no great distance from the ship.  It went about
when it got under the stern, and appeared again on the other side.  Mr
Saunders saw it also.

"Lads," he said, "do you know what that is?  You may have heard of Port
Royal Jack.  That's him.  He's especially fond of seamen's legs, and if
any of you were to go overboard, he'd snap you up in a minute."

The word was passed along the deck.  Half the crew were now in the
rigging, taking a look at their enemy, and among them were Dan Hoolan
and his companions.  I observed a flesh-coloured mass floating a short
distance off.  Presently the black fin sank; a white object appeared for
a moment close to the surface, and a huge mouth gulped down the mass,
and disappeared with it beneath the water.  It was a lesson to any one
who might have attempted taking a swim to the shore.



CHAPTER TEN.

A FIGHT ASHORE.

I have not attempted to describe Port Royal Harbour.  It is large enough
to hold 1000 sail.  The entrance is on the left side.  A strip of sand,
known as the Palisades, runs east and west with the town of Port Royal,
surrounded with heavy batteries at the further end.  Here are the
dockyard and naval arsenal, and forts with heavy guns completely
commanding the entrance.

At the eastern end stands Kingston, the commercial town, before which
the merchantmen bring up, while the men-of-war ride at anchor nearer the
mouth.  A lofty range of hills, with valleys between them, rise beyond
the northern shore.  Altogether, it is a grand place, and especially
grand it looked just now, filled with a fleet of ships and smaller
men-of-war.

Our captain, with the second lieutenant, the captain of the _Amethyst_,
and the commander of the corvette, went on shore, and were warmly
welcomed by the merchants, who said that they had rendered them signal
service in so gallantly protecting the convoy.  They presented each of
the commanders with a piece of plate and a sum of money, to show their
gratitude.

"I told you so," said Nettleship when we heard of it; "we did our duty
on that occasion, though it was a hard trial to have to let the enemy
escape," As we were likely to be detained a week to replace our fore-top
mast, to repair other damages, and to get stores and fresh provisions on
board, most of our mess by turns got leave to go on shore, where, down
to Tom Pim, we were all made a great deal of by the planters and
merchants.  We were invited to breakfasts, luncheons, dinners, and
dances every night.  Most of our fellows lost their hearts to the
dark-eyed Creoles, and Tom Pim confided to me that a lovely little
damsel of fifteen had captured his.

"I didn't intend to strike to her, but I couldn't help it, for she
blazed away at me with her smiles, and glances of her dark eyes, and her
musical laughter, till I could stand them no longer, and I promised that
when I become a commander I will return and marry her forthwith, if she
will remain faithful to me."

"And what did she say?"  I asked.

"She laughed more than ever, and inquired how long it was likely to be
before I could get my promotion.  When I said that it might be in five
or six, or perhaps eight years, she remarked that that was a terrible
long time to wait, and that though constancy was a very fine thing, it
didn't do to try it too much."

Irishmen have susceptible hearts, I've heard, but I can't say that I
lost mine to any one in particular.

We had altogether a very jolly time of it, which we enjoyed all the more
because we knew that it must soon come to an end.

Tom Pim and I, who were inseparable, were at a party one evening, when a
good-natured looking gentleman came up to us.  "I see that you have been
dancing with my little daughter Lucy," he said, addressing Tom.  "May I
ask your names, and the ship to which you belong?"  We told him.

"She's not likely, I understand, to sail for some days, and if you can
obtain leave I shall be very happy to see you at my country house, some
few miles away from this," he said.  "My name is Talboys, and as I'm
well known to Captain Macnamara I'll write a note, which you can take on
board, asking him or his first lieutenant to give you leave for a couple
or three days,--the longer the better,--and to allow any other
midshipmen who can be spared to accompany you."

"Thank you very much, sir," I answered; "but we have to return on board
to-morrow morning by daylight, and I'm afraid that Mr Saunders won't be
inclined to let us go ashore again."

"There's nothing like asking," he observed; "and I think that he'll not
refuse my request, so you had better try."

Taking us into an ante-room, he wrote the promised note, of which Tom
Pim took charge.  He told us, if we could obtain leave, to meet him at
Mammy Custard's boarding-house, an establishment much frequented by
midshipmen and other junior officers of the service.  We had hitherto
not slept on shore, but we knew the house well.

The ball was kept up to a late hour.  As soon as it was over we repaired
to the quay, where several boats were waiting to take off those who had
to return to their ships.

Tom and I agreed that we had very little chance of getting leave, but
that we should not refuse it if we did.  The sky was clear as Nora
Creina's eye; every star was reflected on the calm surface of the water
in the harbour.  We were all inclined to be jolly--officers and men.
Our tongues went rattling merrily on.  Now and then there came a peal of
laughter, now snatches of songs.  We had got more than half-way down the
harbour when the officer in command sang out, "Mind your helm.  Where
are you coming to?"

At that instant we ran slap into a shore-boat pulled by negroes, and
stove in her bows.  Loud shrieks and cries arose from the black crew,
who began to scramble into our boat,--the wisest thing they could do,
considering that their own was sinking.

"Oh, we all drown! we all drown!" they cried in loud tones.  "Jack shark
catch me!"

The four blacks had saved themselves, but there were two passengers in
the stern-sheets who appeared to be less in a hurry to get on board.
Presently, however, finding the boat settling down, one of them made a
spring and tumbled on board.

"Why, Tim Connor, where did you come from?" asked one of our men.  At
that moment the other man, instead of trying to save himself, plunged
into the water, and began swimming towards the southern shore.  Perhaps
he thought that he might escape in the confusion unperceived, but our
lieutenant caught sight of him.

"Never mind the boat," he exclaimed.  "Out oars.  We must get hold of
that fellow, whoever he is."

We were not long in coming up with the bold swimmer, who, speedily
caught by the hair of his head, was hauled on board, in spite of his
struggles to get free.  As he was hauled aft by the orders of the
lieutenant, I recognised Dan Hoolan.

"Who gave you leave to go on shore, my men?" asked the lieutenant.

"Plaise yer honour," answered Tim Connor, "we were only going for a
spree, and intended being off again in the mornin'."

Dan Hoolan sat sulkily, with his hands between his knees, not deigning
to reply.

"You'll find that you'll have to pay somewhat heavily for your spree,"
remarked the lieutenant.

"Seeing as we've not had it," I heard Tim mutter.

By the time we had got back to the boat she had almost disappeared, and
we could only pick up a few of the remaining articles she had contained.

A sharp look-out was kept on the two men, who had evidently intended to
desert.  No further words were exchanged with them.  Both sat with
downcast looks, probably well aware of the punishment they had brought
on themselves.

On reaching the ship they were handcuffed, and placed under charge of a
sentry.  Tom and I had to keep our watch, and got but little sleep that
night.

As soon as we could we presented our note to Mr Saunders.

"Why, you lads are always wanting to go on shore," he observed dryly;
"one would suppose you were born on shore.  However, as you conduct
yourselves well, you may have the leave your friend asks for, and may
return by the first boat to Kingston."

"Thank you, sir," we answered, highly delighted.  "And may Sinnet and
Chaffey go too?"  I asked.

"Were they invited?" he inquired.

"We were desired to bring two more of our mess, and we thought that they
could be best spared, sir."

"Yes, they may go," said Mr Saunders.

Without delay we conveyed the pleasant intelligence to them.  Before
long we were again pulling up the harbour, and thus escaped seeing the
punishment inflicted on my unfortunate countrymen.  I knew that they
deserved it, and therefore didn't trouble my head much about the matter.
We repaired at once to Mammy Custard's, and had not been there long
before Mr Talboys made his appearance.

"Glad you have got leave, my young friends," he said, shaking us all by
the hands, as we introduced Sinnet and Chaffey.  "The carriages will
soon be at the door; but you must take some refreshment before we start,
to fortify the inner man for the fatigues of the journey."

Having told Mammy Custard to place luncheon on the table, and desired us
to commence operations without waiting for him, he went out, and left us
to discuss the viands and refreshing beverages.

We had just finished when Mr Talboys returned, with his daughter, in
one buggy, into which he invited me to mount, while he told Tom, Sinnet,
and Chaffey to get into the other, which was driven by a black boy.  As
soon as we had taken our seats, the carriages dashed off, and away we
went in a fine style out of Kingston.  I'm no hand at describing
scenery, nor can I remember the names of the tropical trees which grew
in rich profusion on both sides of the road, the climbing plants, the
gaily-coloured flowers, and other vegetable wonders.  Miss Lucy and I
chatted away right merrily.  I couldn't help thinking how jealous Tom
would be, and I would very gladly for his sake have changed places with
him.

"And what do you think of Jamaica?" asked her papa after we had gone
some distance.

"It's a wonderfully fine country, sir," I answered.  "And if it were not
that I love Ballinahone more than any other place on earth, I shouldn't
be sorry to take up my abode here when I become a post-captain or an
admiral, and wish to settle down for life, should peace be established,
and my country not be requiring my services."

"We have our little drawbacks, however," observed Mr Talboys.  "You
have not been here in the hot season yet.  We now and then have an
outbreak of the blacks, for the rascals--strange to say--are not
contented with their lot.  Occasionally too, we are attacked by foreign
foes, but we Jamaica men are right loyal, and are prepared to defend our
shores against all comers."

"I thought that the blacks were merry peaceable fellows, who never think
of rebellion," I observed.

"Nor would they, if they were not put up to it by designing knaves.  But
in different parts of the island we have had half a dozen outbreaks
within my recollection, and not a few before it.  Some have been
instigated by the enemies of our country; others by newly imported
slaves, who have been chiefs, or kings, as they call themselves, in
Africa; and on some occasions the Maroons have taken it into their
foolish heads to rebel.  They are, as you're doubtless aware, free
blacks, who live an independent vagabond life on the mountains, and are
too ignorant and savage to know that they have no chance of success."

"But I hope, sir, that they're quiet now, or it can't be very pleasant
for you to live so far away from the city."

Mr Talboys laughed.  "My negroes are quiet and obedient, and I should
get information in good time were anything likely to happen," he
answered.

"No one would think of attacking our house," put in Miss Lucy.  "We are
well prepared, and they would gain nothing by the attempt."

We drove on through fine and wild romantic scenery, each turn of the
road bringing us to some new point of view.  We passed a beautiful
waterfall, the bottom and sides of which appeared as if composed of
glass or porcelain; it consisted of a number of steps rising up the
sides of the hill.  These, my friend told me, were incrustations which
had formed themselves over the roots of trees growing on either side.
The water came flowing down over them, transparent as crystal, and as
the rays of sunlight played between the waving branches of the trees,
the water glittered with a thousand variegated tints.  We descended from
our carriages to enjoy a more perfect view.  Tom and Charley took it
into their heads to attempt walking across some of the steps.  Tom ran
lightly over them; but Chaffey, while following in his wake, being twice
as heavy, broke through the incrustation, and in he soused.  He quickly
managed, however, to scramble out again, though not until he was wet
through nearly up to his middle.

"Why, I thought it was all hard stone," he exclaimed as he reached dry
ground.

We all had a hearty laugh at his expense.  In that climate a ducking
doesn't much matter, and he was dry again before we had proceeded much
further on our journey.

Late in the evening we caught sight of a long low building, with a broad
verandah, surrounded with plantations, and a garden of fruit-trees on
the gentle slope of a hill.  As we got near, a shout from the master
brought out several black boys, accompanied by a number of barking dogs,
who welcomed us by leaping round the horses' heads, and yelping and
frisking about with delight.

Mr Talboys jumped out, and Lucy leapt into his arms, while I descended
on the other side.  A stout lady in a sky-blue dress, accompanied by
three small damsels in low white frocks, and a little boy in scanty
clothing, appeared at the top of the steps.  Lucy, running up, kissed
them all round, and then Mr Talboys introduced us in due form to his
wife and younger daughters.

After a little conversation Madam Talboys led us into a handsome hall,
with a table in the centre, on which ample preparations for supper were
spread, the light from a dozen wax candles falling on the cut glass, the
silver forks and glittering steel, and an epergne filled with fragrant
flowers, surrounded by dishes containing salads, fruits of every
description, and other cold viands.

"The young gentlemen would like to wash their hands before they commence
operations," said Mr Talboys; and he ushered us into a room off the
great hall, in which were four snow-white beds, with muslin curtains
closely drawn round them, and wash-hand basins filled with deliciously
cool water.

We lost no time in plunging our faces into them, arranging our hair, and
making ourselves neat and comfortable.

"I say, we have fallen into pleasant quarters," exclaimed Chaffey.  "We
owe it all to you, Tom.  If you hadn't paid attention to Miss Lucy, we
should not have been here."

"Belay the slack of that," cried Tom.  "Our host might overhear you, and
he wouldn't be pleased; nor would Miss Lucy herself."

We were quickly ready; and just as we returned to the hall several black
boys entered, each carrying a steaming dish, on which we fell to, when
helped, with keen appetites.  Two other gentlemen came in,--an overseer
and a head clerk on the estate.  We all laughed and talked at a great
rate.  The overseer, Mr Rabbitts, at the request of our host, sang a
good song.  The clerk followed with another.  Then Miss Lucy got her
guitar, and warbled very sweetly.  Altogether we were merry as crickets.

At length our host remarked that we must be tired, and led us to our
sleeping-room.  We soon had our heads upon the pillows, with the
mosquito curtains drawn close around us.

Though midshipmen are rightly supposed to sleep soundly, I was awakened
by fancying that the doctor was running his lancet into me, and was
about to assure him that he was operating by mistake on me instead of on
some other patient, when I heard a loud whizzing, buzzing sound.  I
hadn't been careful enough in closing the curtains, and a big mosquito
had got in, and was revelling in my fresh blood.  I tried in vain to
catch the active creature, who was soon joined by others of his
abominable race.  The humming concert was increased by countless other
sounds, which came through the open window,--the croaking of frogs and
tree-toads, the chirping and whistling of insects and reptiles, while I
could see a party of fireflies glistening among the curtains of the bed.
Now and then a huge beetle would make its way into the room, and go
buzzing about round and round, till to my infinite relief it darted out
of the window!  But the noises and the stings of the mosquitoes drove
sleep from my eyelids.  Presently I heard some one talking outside; it
was a nigger's voice, deep and husky.

"If de picaroons cum, den dey cum soon, and cut all our troats."

"Garramarcy, you don't say so!" exclaimed another.  "Better tell massa;
he know what do."

"Me tink better run away and hide," said the first speaker.  "Massa want
to stop and fight, and den we hab to fight too, and get killed."

"But if we run away and don't tell massa, he get killed, and Missy Lucy,
and missus, and de piccaninnies.  Me tink tell massa fust and den run
away."

"But if um tell massa, he make um stop and fight.  No, no, Cato; you one
fool.  Wiser to run away, and not say where um go."

The arguments of the first speaker appeared to prevail with his
companion.  They probably were not aware that any one was sleeping in
the room overhead.

As far as I could judge, the matter appeared serious.  I recollected the
conversation I had had in the morning about the Maroons and the rebel
blacks.

Without further thought I jumped from my bed, and rushing to the window,
sang out, "Stop, you cowardly rascals.  If you move I'll fire at you.
Tell your master what you have heard, and he'll act as he considers
necessary."

The sound of my voice awakened my companions, who fancied that the house
was attacked by thieves.

As the blacks, notwithstanding my threats, seemed inclined to be off, I
jumped out of the window, which was of no great height from the ground,
followed by Sinnet and Tom.  The niggers fancied, I believe, that we
were spirits of another world, as we appeared in our night-shirts, which
were fluttering in the breeze, and came back trembling and humble
enough.  We made them show us the window of Mr Talboys' room, as we
could not get into the house.  Shouting loudly, we awoke him, and I then
told him what I had heard.

"You have acted judiciously, young gentleman, whether there is anything
in it or not; but I'll be dressed directly, and come out to hear what
account the black boys have to give.  Take care they don't run off in
the meantime."

Presently I heard a bolt withdraw; the door opened, and Mr Talboys made
his appearance, a red night-cap on his head and wrapped in a flowered
dressing-gown, a candle in one hand, and a thick whip in the other.

"I must examine these fellows," he said as he came out.  "They're less
liable to prevaricate if they see the whip.  Come, now, young gentlemen,
you may wish to put on your garments, and while you do so I'll hear what
my negroes have to say."

As he was speaking, however, Chaffey came out of our room, bringing our
breeches, having first got into his own, lest, as he said, the ladies
might inconveniently make their appearance.

"What's this you were talking about, Cato?" asked Mr Talboys, looking
sternly at the blacks, who stood trembling before him.

"Caesar cum just now, and say dat Cudjoe, with great number ob niggers,
just come down from de mountains, and dey march dis way with muskets,
and bayonets, and big swords, and spears, and swear dey kill all de
whites dey cum across."

I saw Mr Talboys start.

"How did you hear this, Caesar?" he asked.

"Please, massa, I out last night, to help bury Mammy Quacca, who die in
de morning, when my brother Sambo cum in and say he almost caught by
Cudjoe's fellows, and hear dem swear dat dey cum to kill all de white
people, and before long he tink dey cum dis way to Belmont."  (That was
the name of Mr Talboys' place.)

"Cudjoe!  Who are you talking about?  The fellow has been dead these
thirty years or more," said our host.

"Dey say him Cudjoe.  Perhaps him come to life again," answered Caesar,
as if he fully believed such an event probable.  "Or maybe him `Tree
Fingered Jack.'"

"Three Fingered Jack" was a negro leader who about that time made
himself notorious.

"Possibly some fellow has assumed the name of the old Maroon leader," I
observed.

Mr Talboys, after further questioning the blacks, again turned to us,
and remarked, "I'm afraid there's some truth in what these negroes say.
At all events, it would be wise to be prepared."  He spoke in a cool
tone, not a bit flustered.

"I'm very sorry to have brought you into a position which may not prove
to be very agreeable," he continued; "but I know, young gentlemen, that
I can rely on your assistance."

Of course we could give but one answer.

"The first thing to be done is to barricade the house, and I'll get you
to do that, with Caesar to assist you," he said.  "Keep an eye on the
boy, lest he should run away, while I send off Cato to give notice to my
neighbours, who will probably assemble here, as this house can be more
easily defended than theirs.  I will myself summon my overseer and
clerks.  I, of course, shall also despatch messengers to Kingston for
assistance, and we may hope to hold out till the troops arrive.  The
rebels expect to take us by surprise, and to murder us without
resistance, as they have the whites in other districts.  I must,
however, tell my wife and daughters, or they may be alarmed should they
suddenly discover what is going on."

We heard a good deal of talking in Mrs Talboys' room, and then the
master of the house came out, with a brace of pistols in his belt, and a
sword in his hand.

"The ladies are quite prepared, and will give you all the help they
can," he said.  "They'll show you where the arms and ammunition are
kept."

Having finished dressing, we set to work, under Caesar's directions, to
put up shutters, and to strengthen the doors with planks and stout
pieces of timber, which we found in a yard, apparently prepared for the
purpose.  We were soon joined by Mrs Talboys and Miss Lucy, who both
appeared equal to the emergency.  Having shown us where the arms and
ammunition were kept, they assisted to carry planks and to hold the
boards up while we nailed them on.  Miss Lucy had a hearty laugh at the
grimaces made by Chaffey when he happened to hit his finger instead of
the nail he was driving in.  We worked away as busily as bees, and
before Mr Talboys returned had already secured most of the doors and
the lower windows.  They were all loopholed, so that on whatever side
our enemies might assault the house, a warm reception would be given
them.  We were still working away when Mr Talboys appeared.

"Our friends will soon be here," he said.  "We shall muster nearly a
dozen muskets, and I hope that with them we may be able to keep the
rebels at bay; though, if they're disposed for mischief, they may ravage
our plantations with impunity."

The overseer and clerks, each armed to the teeth, soon afterwards came
in, and our preparations for defence went on still more rapidly.  It was
now midnight, but as yet none of the neighbours had arrived; and we
formed but a small garrison to defend so small a building from the host
of foes who might attack it.

"Me go out and see whether niggers come?" said Caesar.

"No, no; you stay in the house, and help fight," answered his master,
who hadn't forgot the black's purpose of running away and leaving us to
our fate.

"Cato, you go out towards Silver Springs, and learn, if you can, the
whereabouts of the rebels.  Call at Edghill on your way, and tell Mr
Marchant and his family to hurry on here, and that we'll do our best to
protect them."

"Yes, massa," answered Cato, who, for a black, was a man of few words,
and was evidently a trustworthy fellow.

Caesar looked somewhat disappointed.  I suspect that if he had found the
rebels approaching, we should not have seen his face again.  We were
kept fully employed improving the fortifications.  Mr Talboys, who was
full of resources, devised three platforms, which were run from the
upper windows above the doorway, with holes in them through which hot
water or stones, or other missiles, could be dropped on the heads of the
assailants.  We had also means of access to the roof, so that if it were
set on fire, we might extinguish the flames.

Still the enemy didn't appear, nor did Cato return to bring us
information.  Had we been idle, the suspense might have been more
trying; but as we were actively engaged, we scarcely thought of what
might possibly happen.  At last Cato's voice was heard shouting--

"Massa Marchant and de piccaninnies come, but de rebels cum too, and dis
nigger not know which get in first."

"We must go and help our friends then.  Who'll accompany me?" asked Mr
Talboys.

"I will, sir," said I.

"And I," said Tom Pim.  And our other two messmates said the same.

The overseer seemed inclined to stop and defend the house.  We
immediately set out, Mr Talboys leading the way, and we keeping close
to him.  The night was dark, and we might easily have missed our road.
After going some distance he stopped for a moment to listen.  There came
through the night air the tramp of feet, and the hum of voices, though
apparently a long way off.

"What can have become of Marchant?" exclaimed Mr Talboys, after we had
gone some way further.

"Here I am," said a person who stepped out into the middle of the road
with a child in his arms.  "My wife was tired, and our children declared
they could go no further without resting, and except our two nurse
girls, all the slaves have run away."

"They might have rested too long," said Mr Talboys.  "Come, Mrs
Marchant, I'll help you; and these young gentlemen will assist the
children."

We discovered the family group seated on a bank; and each of us taking
charge of one of the children, we followed Mr Talboys back towards
Belmont as fast as our legs could move.  He strode along at a great
rate, for the sounds, which before had been indistinct, now grew louder
and louder, and we knew that the enemy could not be far off.  That they
were marching towards Belmont there could be no doubt.  Mrs Marchant
gave a shriek of alarm every now and then, and the children cried with
terror.  We tried to soothe them, but it was no easy matter to do so as
we ran along.

"Try and keep the children quiet," said Mr Talboys in a suppressed
tone, "or the blacks will hear us.  Push on, young gentlemen; I'll bring
up the rear and defend you."

"I'll stay with you," I said; for it struck me that Chaffey might easily
carry the child I had charge of, and so I handed it to him.

"And I'll stay also," said Tom, giving his charge to Sinnet, who, with
one of the black girls, was dragging another along.  Mr Marchant had
enough to do to support his wife and carry another of their progeny.
The house was already in sight, but we could hear the tramp of the
insurgents' feet coming nearer and nearer, though we could not tell
whether we ourselves were yet seen.  Mr Marchant and his family hurried
on, probably sorry that they had not made more speed at first.  We had
our pistols ready, a brace each, in our belts, and our swords by our
sides, should we come to a close encounter; but the blacks had, we
concluded, firearms, and might shoot us down, should they see us, at a
distance.  I could not but admire the cool gallantry of Mr Talboys,
with so much at stake, yet willing to risk his own life in the defence
of those he had promised to protect.  He stood for nearly a minute to
enable his friend's family to get ahead.  The ground rose gradually
towards the house, and we could now distinguish a dark mass coming
across the open space in the plain below.

"Now we'll move on," said Mr Talboys; and we proceeded deliberately
towards the house.

"They must have got in now," he added shortly afterwards, speaking as
before in a suppressed tone.

It was time indeed for us to be hurrying on, for as we looked round, a
party of blacks, forming the advance guard, and whom we had not
previously seen, suddenly appeared, not fifty paces off.  They saw us at
the same time, and with loud yells came rushing up the slope.

"On, lads, as fast as your legs can carry you," cried Mr Talboys, and,
facing round, he fired his musket into the middle of them.  Whether any
one fell we did not stop to see, but ran towards the house.  The blacks
followed, hoping to overtake us, and fortunately not stopping to fire.
Mr Marchant and his family were only just then entering the house.
They had got safe in, and we were about to follow when a shower of
bullets came whistling round our heads and rattling against the walls.
We sprang in, Mr Talboys following.  No time was lost in closing the
door and putting up the barricades.  We had scarcely finished when a
second volley was fired, showing that the rebels were in earnest, and
meant, if they could do so, to destroy the inmates of the house.  Still,
finding that we had escaped them, instead of dashing on, they kept at a
respectful distance, under such cover as the hedges and palings afforded
them.  As the bullets pinged against the shutters and walls the children
began to cry, and Mrs Marchant and her black damsels to shriek out.
Mrs Talboys and Lucy remained perfectly quiet, doing their best to calm
the fears of their guests.

"We have a strong house and brave defenders, and we need not be afraid
of the rebels," said the former in a quiet tone.

Meantime Mr Talboys, leaving us to defend the lower storey, mounted to
the top of the house, where, keeping under shelter, he could take a
look-out at whatever was going on below.

Presently we heard him shout, "Who are you, and what is it you want?"

"We free and independent people," answered a voice from the crowd; "we
want our rights.  We no get dem, den we kill all de whites."

"Much obliged for your kind intentions," answered Mr Talboys.  "There
are two sides to that question, and you must look out not to be killed
yourselves, which you will be, I promise you, if you attack us."

"We see about dat," one of the blacks shouted out.

Mr Talboys replied, and made what sounded to me so long a speech that I
wondered the insurgents had patience to listen to it, till I discovered
that his object was to prevent them as long as possible from
recommencing hostilities.  Like other brave men, being unwilling to shed
blood, he would not allow any of us to fire until it should become
absolutely necessary.  He again asked the rebels what they wanted.

"We want our rights, dat's what we want," they shouted.

"That's what all your friends in the island wish you to have, but you
won't get them by murdering the few white people in your power,"
answered our host.

"Dat you say is true, Massa Talboys," cried a black from the crowd.

"Hold your tongue, Quembo; take dat!" and the sound of a crushing blow,
accompanied by a shriek, reached our ears, as if the last speaker had
brained his wiser comrade.

"We no cum here to talk, we cum to fight," shouted several together.
There was a good deal of jabbering, and once more I saw, through a
loophole out of which I was looking, the sable army approaching.

"Stand to your arms!" cried Mr Talboys.  "We mustn't let these fellows
get too confident.  Shade all the lights, but don't fire until I give
the word."

It was pretty evident, from the bold way the blacks came on, that they
supposed we were badly supplied with firearms, one shot only having been
discharged.  Mr Talboys waited till they got within thirty paces, when,
just as two or three of them had hurriedly discharged their pieces, he
gave us the order to fire, and we sent a shower of bullets among the
sable mass.  Without stopping to see what effect it had produced we all
reloaded as rapidly as possible.  A few bullets rattled against the
house, but before we again fired the greater number of our assailants
were scrambling off, in spite of the efforts of their leader to induce
them to make a stand.  As far as I could judge, looking through my
loophole, none were killed, though several must have been wounded.



CHAPTER ELEVEN.

A NARROW ESCAPE.

The overseer proposed dashing out, with a whip in one hand and a sword
in the other.

"The rascals won't stop running if they see us coming after them," he
said.

Mr Talboys, however, wisely ordered all of us to remain inside the
walls.

"There are brave fellows among them, notwithstanding the cowardice of
some, and they are very likely to turn round and cut us to pieces," he
observed.

This would certainly have been the case, for we heard the blacks
shouting and shrieking at no great distance off, though beyond the range
of our muskets.  They had evidently halted.

"We must be ready for another attack, my friends," cried Mr Talboys.
"Keep at your posts."

Miss Lucy came up to where Tom and I were standing.

"We're so much obliged to you," she said.  "If those dreadful blacks had
got in, we knew that we should all be killed.  You have defended us
bravely, and we're so glad that no one has been hurt."

"When we think that we have you to defend, we'll fight as long as we
have a charge of powder and a ball remaining, and after that, too, for
we should make good use of our swords, depend on it," answered Tom
gallantly.

After this the blacks were quiet for some time, but we could not judge
whether they intended again to come on.  Mr Talboys assured us that
they were still in the neighbourhood, and that we must be prepared at
any moment for an attack.  The time went slowly by.  I heard Caesar and
Cato talking; and as the danger appeared to lessen, the courage of the
former increased.

"Dem niggers, how dey did run when we fired at dem! great cowards!  Just
dey cum on again, and see how we pepper der legs," said Caesar.

"Better dey not cum," observed Cato, like a true philosopher, probably
doubting his companion's resolution.

As there was no necessity to keep at our posts, I went up and asked Mr
Talboys if he would allow me to take his place, while he joined the
ladies.

"Thank you," he said; "I was intending to summon you, for I wish to take
a look round our fortifications, to be sure that we have no weak points,
for I strongly suspect we have not done with those fellows yet."

He was just about to descend, when I caught sight of a bright light away
to the northward.

"What is that?"  I asked, pointing it out to him.

"It comes from the direction of Marchant's house," he answered.  "I very
much fear the rebels have set fire to it.  Yes, there is no doubt about
it," he added, as forked flames were observed to burst up round the
first light, and to extend on either side.  Presently another light was
seen in the south-east.

"That must be from Peek's estate.  I hope they had warning, and made
their escape in time, or the villains will have murdered them, to a
certainty.  Fortunately there are no women or children there."

We stood watching the progress of the flames.

"We'll not tell the Marchants of the disaster," he continued.  "It might
drive them out of their wits; but they may consider themselves fortunate
in having escaped with their lives."

Loud shouts rising from the spot where we supposed the blacks to be
showed the pleasure they felt at seeing the houses burning.

"They would be still more delighted could they destroy Belmont,"
observed Mr Talboys.  "They will, I fear, soon again attempt to carry
out their design."

He now begged me to remain where I was, and to give him immediate
information, should I observe anything suspicious, and went down to
carry out his intention of examining every assailable point in the
house.  I kept, my eyes turned, first to one side, then to the other,
peering into the darkness, when I observed something moving, away to the
right.  It seemed like a black line; and after watching it for a few
seconds, I felt sure that it was formed by a number of negroes creeping
cautiously on to the right of the house, and endeavouring to conceal
themselves.  I was afraid that my voice might be heard should I shout
out, so I went down the steps and soon found Mr Talboys.  The moment I
told him what I had seen, he sprang up with me, but we could see
nothing, though we watched for some minutes.

"If they were really blacks you saw, they intend to take us by
surprise," he said.  "We must keep a look-out, and be prepared for
them."

Just as he was speaking, there came a loud crashing sound, and the next
instant cries and shouts rang through the house.  Mr Talboys sprang
down the steps, and I followed him.  There was no difficulty in
ascertaining in what direction to go.  A door had evidently been burst
open in the southern wing of the house.  A piercing shriek was heard as
we hurried on.  The rest of the party, deserting their posts, had
already gone to drive back our assailants.  The overseer and clerk,
Sinnet and Chaffey, were encountering them bravely.  Two had already
paid dearly for their temerity, when Mr Talboys, springing forward,
attacked them furiously.  I kept with him, and did my best with my
hanger, cutting and slashing at the woolly pates of the fellows, who
evidently were not prepared for so determined a resistance.  Those in
front gave way, and others who were about to enter hesitated to advance.
Mrs Talboys was rendering us good service by holding up a lantern, by
which we could see our assailants, while the light, falling on their
eyes, prevented them from seeing us.  Though I observed my other two
messmates, I could nowhere see Tom Pim.  What could have become of him?
I thought.  I was, however, sure that he would not have held back, for
though he was but a little fellow, he knew how to use his hanger as well
as any of us.  The fight didn't last long; another black was killed, two
lay wounded on the ground, and the rest bolted out of the door, which,
though shattered, was not off its hinges.

"Quick!  Bring some planks," cried Mr Talboys.

There were some near at hand, with which we had intended to secure that
particular door.  We were not long in putting them up, and placing a
heavy chest of drawers against them.  Just as this was done, Mrs
Talboys exclaimed--

"Where is Lucy?"

"And where is Tom Pim?"  I cried out.

Neither of them answered.  Before any search could be made, Mr
Marchant, who had been watching at the other side of the house, shouted
out--

"The enemy are upon us I the enemy are upon us!  Quick! quick!"

We hurried to our posts, and before many seconds had elapsed, a shower
of bullets came rattling against the walls.

"Fire away, my friends," cried Mr Talboys.

We obeyed the order with alacrity.  I was thinking all the time,
however, as to what could have become of Tom and Lucy.  In vain I
expected my messmate to hasten to his post.  Again the blacks were
checked.  Had they been a minute sooner, the case would have been very
different.  They calculated, of course, on their friends getting in at
the back of the house, and causing a diversion in their favour.  For
twenty minutes or more we kept loading and firing as fast as we could.
Mr Talboys was everywhere, now at one window, now at another, while the
clerk and Cato were guarding the back and wings of the house.  How the
hours had passed by I could not tell, when at length I saw a faint light
in the eastern sky.  It gradually increased in brightness, and in a
wonderfully short time daylight burst upon the world.  As the blacks had
failed to get into the house during the night, it was less likely that
they would succeed during the day.  They fired a parting volley, and
then, to our great satisfaction, beat a rapid retreat.  The search for
Lucy and Tom was now renewed.

"Oh, my dear husband, what can have become of her?" cried Mrs Talboy in
accents of despair.

That they were not in the house was very certain.  I proposed to sally
forth and search for them.

"I'll go myself," said Mr Talboys.  "The rebels will be on the
look-out, and you very probably will be captured if you go alone."

He consented, however, to my accompanying him.  We went out at the back
door, which Mr Talboys ordered to be closed after us.  We had not gone
far when we discovered a ribbon, which I knew Miss Lucy had worn on her
shoulder.

"She must have been carried off by the blacks when they first burst into
the house," cried Mr Talboys.

"The wretches cannot have had the barbarity to injure her," I said.

"I don't know!  I don't know!" answered her father in an agonised tone
of voice.

We followed the track of the blacks, which was distinctly marked by the
plants and canes being trampled down where they had gone across the
garden and plantation, and continued on for some distance.  No other
trace of Tom or Lucy could we discover.  We had to proceed cautiously,
as at any time we might come suddenly upon a party of them, when we
might find it very difficult to escape.  We were, however, both
well-armed, with muskets in our hands, braces of pistols in our belts,
and swords by our sides, so that we hoped, should we fall in with any
enemies, to keep them at bay while we retreated.  We looked round on
either side, in the expectation of seeing something else that either
Lucy or Tom might have dropped; but sometimes I could not help fearing
that they might have been killed, and that we should come upon their
dead bodies.  Still I tried to put away the thought from me, as it was
too dreadful I suspect the same idea occurred to Mr Talboys, who looked
stern and determined, and seldom spoke, while his eye was ranging round,
far and near.  We were going in the direction we fancied the blacks had
taken.  Mr Talboys was of opinion that, finding they could not succeed
in destroying Belmont, they had gone off to attack some other house and
ravage the plantations.  We were making our way across the country
instead of along the high road, where the blacks might have discovered
us at a distance; but sometimes the foliage was so thick that we could
not see a dozen yards ahead.  This had its advantages and its
disadvantages.  It was evidently the line which the party of blacks who
had nearly surprised us had followed.  Now and then we got close to the
high road, and we were able, while still keeping under shelter
ourselves, to look along it either way.

"The rebels have not, I suspect, gone off altogether, and we may not be
far from them now," whispered Mr Talboys.  "Be very cautious; keep
under cover as much as you can, and avoid making any rustling among the
branches."

We had moved on scarcely a dozen paces after this, when suddenly a
number of black heads appeared above the bushes close in front of us.
The white eyes of the negroes, as they caught sight of us, showed that
they were more astonished than we were at the sudden encounter.
Exclamations of surprise escaped from their lips.

"On, lads," shouted Mr Talboys at the top of his voice, as, drawing his
sword, he sprang forward.  "Send those rascals to the right about."

Uttering a shout, I imitated his example.

The blacks, evidently supposing that a strong body of whites was upon
them, turned, and endeavoured to make their way through the brushwood,
without looking back to see who was pursuing them.  As they had no other
encumbrances than their muskets, they soon distanced us.  Not one of
them fell, for Mr Talboys refrained from firing, as did I, waiting
until he told me to do so.

"Now, my young friend, it will be well to beat a retreat before these
rascals discover that we are alone," he said.

We were about to do as he proposed, when, unfortunately, one of the
blacks, who was nearer to us than the rest, looked round, and seeing no
one besides us, shouted to his companions.  Now one stopped, now
another, till the whole party came to a stand-still, turned round, and
faced us.

"Spring back and try to get under cover," said Mr Talboys in a low
voice.  "If the fellows advance, fire; but not till then.  I'll speak to
them."  He then shouted, "You have carried off two young people from my
house.  Give them up at once unhurt, and we will not punish you as you
deserve; but if they're injured, not one of you shall escape hanging."

"We not got de young white folks here," sang out a voice from among the
negroes.  "You talk ob hanging, massa; take care we not hang you.  What
we stop here for?" continued the speaker to his companions; "dere not
many dere, or dey cum on."

From the way the blacks were looking, I guessed that they were trying to
discover how many persons were opposed to them; but as yet they fancied
that there were others behind us.

"Do you quietly retreat, my young friend," said Mr Talboys in a low
voice.  "Make your way back to the house as fast as you can, and tell
them to be on their guard.  I can manage these fellows as well alone,
and your life would be needlessly risked by remaining."

"I will do as you wish, sir; but if there's to be fighting, I should
prefer to stay by you," I answered.

"I'll try to avoid it, then," said my friend, and once more he spoke to
the blacks.

"If the young folks are not with you, tell me where they are."

"We know nothin'," answered the black.  "Maybe by dis time dey hang from
de branch ob one tree."

"I don't believe that any of you would have had the cruelty to kill
them," he cried out.  "Do as I wish you," he continued, in a low voice,
to me.

Still I could not bring myself, for the sake of saving my own life, to
leave him to be taken by the blacks; for it seemed to me that he would
have but a small chance of escaping from them.  I was hesitating, when I
heard a shout from beyond where they were standing, and presently a
number more rushed up, who by their furious gestures, as soon as they
saw us, seemed to threaten our immediate destruction.

"I'll kill the first who comes on," cried Mr Talboys.

They answered with derisive cries, and several of them levelled their
muskets.  Mr Talboys and I kept ours pointed at them, sheltering
ourselves as we could behind the trunks of two trees which stood close
together.

Our chance of escaping appeared very small.

While we thus kept the blacks in check, a sound in the rear struck my
ears.  It was the tramp of many feet.  It became louder and louder.  The
blacks, jabbering away as they were to each other, did not apparently
hear it.  Mr Talboys did, however, and he knew that it was more
important than ever to refrain from firing.  He again shouted to them--

"Do any of you who have just come know where my daughter and young
friend are gone to?"

They didn't reply, but we heard them talking to one another.  This
further put off the time.  The sound of tramping feet grew louder.

"You make fool ob us, Massa Talboys," at last said one of the blacks,
who, probably from his understanding English, had been chosen as
spokesman.

Gesticulating violently, the whole body now gave vent to loud shouts and
cries, and dashed forward, with the intention of overwhelming us.  We
both fired, in the hopes of delaying their advance, and then sprang back
to the shelter of some other trees we had noted behind us.  The blacks,
as they rushed on, fired, but their bullets passed high above our heads,
stripping off the bark and branches, which came rattling down upon us.

We had but a small chance of again escaping, should we attempt the same
proceeding; but, as the blacks were within twenty paces of us, a party
of redcoats dashed through the brushwood, one of their leaders being a
small naval officer whom, to my joy, I recognised as Tom Pim.  The
blacks saw the soldiers, and, without waiting to encounter the sharp
points of their bayonets, turned, and scampered off as fast as they
could manage to get through the bushes, the speed of most of them being
increased by the bullets poured in on them, while several bit the
ground.

The soldiers continued the pursuit till the blacks, scattering in all
directions, got out of range of their muskets.  Mr Talboys and I
accompanied them; but not till the halt was called had we an opportunity
of speaking to Tom.

"And where is Lucy, my dear fellow?" asked Mr Talboys, grasping Tom by
the hand.

"All right, sir," answered Tom.  "She's safe in the house.  When the
blacks broke in last night, she was close to the door, and a piece of
wood striking her, she fell to the ground.  The blacks, rushing in,
seized her before I was able to lift her up, and while I was shouting
out for assistance, and trying to defend her, they got hold of me, and
carried us both off.  It was only a short time ago that I knew you were
safe; for I was dreadfully afraid that they had got into the house, and
murdered you all.  Fortunately, the blacks allowed Miss Lucy and me to
remain together; so I told her to keep up her spirits, and that I would
try and help her to run away.  Most of the blacks who at first had
charge of us hurried back, expecting to pillage the house, and only two
remained.  We heard the shots you fired, but I still did not know that
you had driven them out.  Meantime our two black guards were so occupied
in trying to find out what was going on, that I took the opportunity of
drawing my hanger, which had not been taken from me, and giving one a
slash across the eyes, and another a blow which nearly cut off his arm.
I seized Miss Lucy's hand, and we ran off as fast as we could.  Neither
of our guards were in a condition to follow us, and we ran and ran,
scarcely knowing in what direction we were going.  Miss Lucy said that
she thought we were on the high road to Kingston; but she became at last
so tired that she could go no further, and we had to rest.  It soon
became daylight; and just as we were going on again, we met with the
soldiers, who were being brought up by Captain Ryan to your assistance."

"You behaved most bravely, and I am deeply indebted to you, my young
friend," said Mr Talboys, grasping Tom's hand.  "Had you not offered so
determined a resistance, I believe that the blacks would have got into
the house, and we should all have been destroyed."

As the men had had a long and rapid march, their commander was glad to
accept Mr Talboys' invitation to return at once to Belmont, to partake
of the refreshments they so much needed.

Miss Lucy on our arrival rushed into her father's arms, and was warm in
her praises of the gallant way in which Tom had rescued her.

Everybody was engaged either in cooking or carrying provisions to the
soldiers, who had assembled under the shade of the trees in front of the
house.  Sentries were of course placed, to give due notice should the
blacks rally and attempt another attack, though Mr Talboys considered
it very improbable that such would be made.

As our leave was to expire the day after these events took place, having
enjoyed a sound sleep, early in the morning we started in the carriages
that had brought us, Cato driving Tom and me.  We were glad to think
that our kind friends were well protected, as Captain Ryan said that his
orders were to remain there until reinforcements arrived.

I won't describe our parting, or what Tom said to Miss Lucy; if not
affecting, it was cordial.

On our way we met more troops moving towards Belmont.  We got back to
Kingston, and thence on board the frigate, within the time Mr Saunders
had given us leave to be absent.

The account of our adventures created great interest on board.  When I
told Larry of our narrow escape with Mr Talboys--

"Thin, Maisther Terence dear, don't be after going on shore again
without me," he exclaimed.  "If you had been killed I'd never have
lifted up my head, nor shown my face at Ballinahone again; for they
would be saying that I ought to have been by your side, and died with
you if I could not save you."

I promised Larry not to go anywhere, if I could help it, without him.
We expected soon to have sailed, but we were detained by Sir Peter
Parker, then the admiral at Jamaica.  There were also several other
frigates and three line-of-battle ships in the harbour.  Tom and I
especially wanted to be off, as we could not expect to obtain leave
again to go on shore, though we determined if the ship was detained to
ask for it.

"Not much chance of that," observed Nettleship, who had just come from
the shore.  "The people are expecting an attack from the French and
Spaniards, who have large fleets out here under the Count De Grasse, and
the Governor has just got a letter, it is said, taken on board a prize,
in which the whole plan for the capture of the island is detailed.  The
inhabitants are everywhere up in arms, and vow that they will fight to
the last sooner than yield.  More troops are expected, and every
preparation is being made for the defence of the island."

We had seen the _Triton_ frigate go out that morning, though we were not
aware of her destination.  She carried despatches from Sir Peter Parker,
giving Lord Howe the information which had been received, and requesting
that reinforcements might immediately be sent to the island.  The people
on shore were actively engaged in strengthening Fort George, Fort
Augusta, and the Apostles' Battery, and throwing up new forts in various
directions.  While the blacks were labouring at the fortifications, all
the white men were being drilled to serve in the militia, which was
numerous and enthusiastic; so we hoped that even should the French and
Spaniards land, they would be soundly thrashed.

Some days passed before we received any news of our friends at Belmont.
No leave was granted, as the captain could not tell at what moment we
should be ordered to sea.  Tom and I were therefore unable to go to
Kingston to make inquiries about them.  At length a shore-boat came off
with letters, and one, which I knew by the superscription to be from Mr
Talboys, was handed to me.  As I opened it, a small delicate note--
addressed, Tom Pim, Esquire, H.M.S. _Liffy_--fell out.  As Tom was
standing close to me at the time, he eagerly snatched it up.  I was
right in my surmises with regard to my letter.  Mr Talboys having again
expressed his thanks for the services my messmates and I had rendered
him, after saying that his family were all well, went on to inform me
that the outbreak of the blacks had been quickly suppressed, the
ringleaders having been caught and hanged.  Mr Marchant's house and
three others had alone been destroyed, and with the exception of an
overseer and two clerks, the remainder of the inhabitants had managed to
escape.  "I hope," he added, "that we shall see you and your messmates
again, and I shall be especially pleased to welcome that brave young
fellow who so gallantly rescued my daughter."

"What does your letter say, Tom?"  I asked, when I had finished mine.

"Well, I shouldn't like to show it to any one else," he said; "but as
you know how I regard Miss Lucy, I will to you.  I can't say that I am
quite satisfied with it.  It's a little too patronising, as if she
thought herself a great deal older than I am.  You shall have it," and
he handed me the note.

  "My dear Tom,"--it began,--"you are such a dear little fellow that I
  feel I must write to you to say how grateful I am to you for having
  saved me from those dreadful blacks.  I should not have supposed that
  you would have been able to do it, but I shall never forget your
  bravery.  I long to come back to Kingston, to see you again, and tell
  you so.  But papa says that you are not likely to obtain leave, so I
  must wait patiently till we have beaten the French and Spaniards who
  threaten to invade our island, and peace is restored.  I wish I could
  promise to do as you ask me, but mamma says I should be very foolish
  if I did.  Do you know, I think so likewise; because it may be years
  and years before you are a commander, or even a lieutenant; but I want
  you to understand, notwithstanding, that I like you very much, and am
  very grateful, and shall always be so, as long as I live.  So, my dear
  Tom, believe me, your sincere friend,--Lucy Talboys."

"It's very clear, Tom, that Miss Lucy will not commit herself, and it's
fortunate for you probably that she is so hardhearted," I observed.
"I'd advise you not to be downcast about the matter, and be content with
the friendship and gratitude of her family."

Tom, however, looked very melancholy, and some time afterwards Chaffey
observed to me that he was sure something was amiss with Tom, as he was
completely off his feed.

While we were allowed to go on shore our life was pleasant enough, but
when confined on board it was somewhat dreary work, and we all longed
for a change of some sort.  A climate with the thermometer at ninety
doesn't conduce to high spirits.

We were aroused one evening as most of us were below, by Sinnet rushing
into the berth, and exclaiming--

"The _Glasgow_ is on fire, and the boats are ordered away to her
assistance."

The _Glasgow_ was a frigate, lying at no great distance from us, and was
to have sailed with the land breeze with a company of troops to the
westward.  We hurried on deck.  Our boats were being lowered, as were
those of the other ships in the harbour.  Smoke in dense volumes was
rising from the hatchways of the _Glasgow_, and more was pouring out of
her ports.  Her crew were at their stations, hauling up buckets of
water, and labouring like brave men to quench the rising flames; but all
their efforts, as far as I could see, were ineffectual.  Nettleship and
some of the older midshipmen went off in the boats.

"I hope that they'll draw the charges of their guns, or we shall have
some of their shot rattling on board us," said Tom.  "There are plenty
of boats, so I don't suppose any of the crew will be lost."

"I should think not, unless the magazine catches fire," I answered.

"They'll drown that the first thing, if they can," remarked Tom.  "I
wish we could have gone in one of the boats.  I don't like to see people
in danger and be unable to try and help them."



CHAPTER TWELVE.

THE HURRICANE.

In spite of all the exertions being made on board, with the assistance
of the men from the other ships who had now arrived alongside, the smoke
increased in denseness, and presently burst up above the hatchway, while
we could see the red glare through the ports.  The ship having been in
the West Indies for some time, her woodwork was like tinder, and the
flames rapidly gained the mastery.  Now forked tongues of fire burst out
from the midship ports, gradually working their way forward and aft.  At
length all attempts to save the ship were abandoned.  The crew were seen
descending into the boats, some collected forward, others under the
quarter.  Down they came by ladders and ropes, the midshipmen and the
boys first, the men following, looking like strings of sausages
surrounding the ship.  Rapidly as every one moved, there was no
confusion.  As the boats were loaded they pulled off, others taking
their places.  So quickly had the fire spread that it seemed as if the
officers had scarcely space left them to stand on before descending.
Shouts were raised when the glitter of the gold lace on their coats was
seen as they came over the quarter.  The last man to quit was the brave
captain of the ship.  Almost in an instant afterwards she was in a
fierce blaze fore and aft, the flames rushing out of the cabin windows
as well as through the bow ports.  We in the meantime had got springs on
our cables, as had all the other ships, in case she should drift from
her moorings.

"I suspect the shot were withdrawn," I observed to Tom Pim.

"I hope so," he answered; but just then--crash! there came a couple of
round shot against our side, while more guns were heard going off in the
opposite direction.

We immediately hauled away on one of our springs, just in time to escape
several more iron missiles, which went bounding across the harbour.
Three or four other ships were struck, but no one on board ours was
hurt.  Presently there came a loud roar, the mizen-mast shot up,
followed by the after-part of the deck, and then came hissing down into
the water.  The flames surrounding the other masts formed a fiery
pinnacle rising into the dark sky, and immediately afterwards down they
came with loud crashes, the ship looking like a huge roaring and raging
cauldron of flame, while crash succeeded crash as the heated guns fell
into the hold.  Several of the people brought on us were severely
scorched, showing the desperate efforts they had made to try and save
their ship.  Dr McCall and the assistant-surgeons had work enough in
attending to them.  Fortunately the soldiers had not arrived alongside
the _Glasgow_ before she caught fire, and when they came down the
harbour they were put on board our frigate, and we received orders to
carry them to their destination.

Everything was done as rapidly as possible for their accommodation.  The
men were berthed on the main-deck.  The captain received the commanding
officer, the lieutenants messed in the gun-room, and we had the pleasure
of entertaining the ensigns.  The land breeze began blowing about eight
o'clock, the time the _Glasgow_ was to have sailed.  We were detained
some time in getting off provisions from the shore, but by dint of hard
work all was ready by ten o'clock, and the night being bright, the
anchor was hove up.  With every sail that we could carry set, we glided
out of the harbour.  It was important to get a good offing, so that we
might weather Portland Point, the southernmost part of the island,
before the sea-breeze should again begin to blow.  We hoped that the
land breeze, which generally begins to drop about midnight, would last
longer than usual, so as to carry us well out to sea.  There are ugly
rocks off Portland which it is not pleasant to have under the lee at any
time.

"Shure it would be hard to bate these nights out here, Mr Terence,"
said Larry, whom I met on deck, and who seemed to enjoy as much as I did
the calm beauty of the scene, the stars like specks of glittering gold
shining out of the heavens of the deepest blue, each one reflected in
the tranquil ocean.  The line of coast, seen astern and on our starboard
quarter, rose into various-shaped mountains, their outlines clearly
marked against the sky; while every now and then a mass of silver light
was spread over the water, as some inhabitant of the deep leaped
upwards, to fall again with a splash into its liquid home.

I asked Larry how Hoolan was going on after his flogging.

"He doesn't talk much, Mr Terence, but he looks as sulky as ever, and I
wouldn't trust him more than before," was the reply.

"He can harm no one, at all events," I observed; "and I don't think he
has much chance of making his escape, even if he still thinks of
attempting it."

"Faith, I don't fancy he could hide himself among the black fellows; and
no merchant skipper would like to have him aboard his craft," said
Larry.

Going aft, I met Tom Pim, for he and I were in the first watch.  We were
pacing the deck together, when we were joined by one of our passengers,
Ensign Duffy.

"Can't sleep, my dear fellows," he said in a melancholy tone, which made
Tom and me laugh.  "My thoughts are running on a charming little girl I
met at Kingston.  I was making prodigious way with her when we were
ordered off to the out-of-the-way corner of the world to which you are
carrying us, and the chances are we shall not meet again."

"What's her name, Duffy?"  I asked.

"Lucy Talboys," he answered promptly.  "I don't mind telling you young
fellows, as you are not likely to prove rivals; but I say, if either of
you meet her I wish you'd put in a word about me.  Say how miserable I
looked, and that you are sure I had left my heart at Kingston."

"I will gladly say anything you wish; but perhaps she will think you
left it with some other lady," I observed.

"Say I was always sighing and uttering `Lucy!  Lucy!' in my sleep."

"I'll not say anything of the sort," exclaimed Tom.  "I never heard you
utter her name till now, and I don't believe she cares the snuff of a
candle for you."

Just as we were about to go below, at eight bells, we made out Portland
Point broad on our starboard beam, so that we hoped, should the wind not
fail us before morning, to be well to the westward of it.  We were just
turning into our hammocks, the other watch having been called, when we
heard the canvas flap loudly against the masts, and were summoned on
deck again to take in studding-sails.  Still the land wind favoured us,
the sails once more bulged out, and before we went below we had brought
Portland Point on the quarter.  When we went on deck again in the
morning the frigate lay nearly becalmed off Carlisle Bay, thence we had
a westerly course to Pedro Bluff.  The sun, as it rose higher and higher
in the cloudless sky, beat down hot and strong upon our heads, while
officers and men, as they paced the deck, whistled perseveringly for a
breeze.  At length a dark blue line was seen extending in the south-east
across the shining waters.  It approached rapidly.  Presently the canvas
blew out, and with tacks on board we stood along the coast.  Our speed
increased with the rising breeze.  We were not long in getting round
Pedro Bluff, when we stood directly for Savannah-le-Mer, then a pretty
flourishing little town at the south-west end of the island.  Here we
were to land some of the redcoats, and were to take the rest round to
Montego Bay, at the north-west end of Jamaica.  We came off it on the
following morning.

As the harbour is intricate, we hove-to outside, while the soldiers were
landed in the boats.  I went in one, and Tom Pim in another, the second
lieutenant having the command of the whole.  We had a long and a hot
pull, and Ensign Duffy, who was in my boat, declared that if it was
proportionately hot on shore to what it was on the water, he should
expect to be turned into baked meat before he had been there long.
Larry was pulling bow-oar, and very well he pulled by this time, for
though he was a perfect greenhorn when he came to sea, he had been
accustomed to row on the Shannon.

The frigate, I should have said, was to call on her way back for some of
the soldiers whom those we took out had come to relieve.  Our approach
had been seen by the officers at the barracks, which were situated about
a mile from the town; and they came down to welcome their comrades in
arms.  Leaping on shore, the rocks which formed the landing-place being
slippery, I fell, and came down on my knees with great force.  I felt
that I was severely hurt, and on attempting to rise, found it impossible
to do so, even with the assistance of Larry, who sprang to my side,
uttering an exclamation of sorrow.  On this, one of the officers, whom I
perceived by his dress to be a surgeon, came up to me, and at once
examined my hurt.

"It requires to be instantly attended to," he said, "or inflammation may
set in, and in this climate the consequences may be serious."

My friend Duffy proposed that I should be carried to the barracks,
though my lieutenant at first objected to letting me go, declaring that
he should not be long in getting back to the ship.

"Long enough to allow of the young gentleman losing his leg, or perhaps
his life," remarked the surgeon.  "I'll have him at once taken to a
house in the town, and when your frigate comes back, I hope he'll be in
a condition to embark."

Hearing this, the lieutenant not only gave me leave to remain, but
allowed Larry to stay and attend on me.  Tom Pim took my hand as Duffy
and some of his men were placing me upon a door, which had been procured
to carry me into the town.

"I wish that I was going to stay with you, Paddy," he said; "but it's of
no use to ask leave, though I'd give a great deal if I could.  We shall
be very dull without you."

"Thank you, Tom," I answered.  "If I had my will I'd rather go off.  I
suppose the doctor is right; and it's safer to let him attend to me at
once."

I was carried immediately to a house which I found belonged to a Mr
Hans Ringer, an attorney, who had charge of several plantations in that
flourishing neighbourhood.  The doctor and he, it was evident, were on
most intimate terms, for on our arrival, without any circumlocution, the
latter at once said--

"I have brought a young midshipman who requires to be looked after, and
I'd be obliged to you if you'd order your people to get a room ready for
him immediately."

I could scarcely have supposed that so serious an injury could have been
so easily inflicted.  Soon after my arrival I nearly fainted with the
pain, but the doctor's treatment at length soothed it, and he was able
to set the injured bones.

I must make a long story short, however.

Mr Ringer and his family treated me with the greatest kindness; indeed,
nothing could surpass the hospitality of the inhabitants of Jamaica; and
it was with the utmost difficulty, when I got better, that the doctor
could get him to allow me to be carried to the barracks, where the
fresher air would assist me in regaining my strength.  Larry, of course,
spent most of his time with me; indeed, had I not insisted on his going
out, he never would have left my bedside.

I was now every day expecting the return of the frigate, when I believed
that, well or ill, I should have to go on board her.

"That must depend on circumstances, my lad," said Dr McManus.  "For if
you can't go, you can't.  The captain must find another opportunity of
getting you on board."

"But suppose the frigate has to fight an action, I would not be absent
on any account," I exclaimed.

"With a fractured tibia, and the inflammation which would be sure to
supervene, you would not render much service to your country," observed
the doctor.  "When you have sufficiently recovered you can get back to
Port Royal, and rejoin your ship; she's not likely to be sent to a
distance while the enemy's fleet threaten the island.  Indeed, we
require all the forces on shore and afloat we can collect.  I don't
quite understand what we shall do if we are attacked here, though I'm
very sure we shall fight to the last before we let the French and
Spanish land."

I saw that there was no use in arguing the point, but I was determined,
if I could, to go off and rejoin my ship.  Larry did his best to console
me.

"It's not a bad place to be in, if you only had the use of your legs,
Mr Terence.  Them nager boys and girls are mighty funny creatures.
What bothers me most is that I didn't bring my fiddle on shore, for sure
if I had, it would have been after setting them all dancing, till they
danced out of their black skins.  It's rare fun to see them laughing as
if they'd split their sides, when I sing to them.  They bate us Irishmen
hollow at that fun, I'll allow.  I find it a hard matter to contain
myself when I see them rolling their eyes and showing their white teeth
as they stretch their mouths from ear to ear."

I happened to tell Dr McManus of Larry's talent.

"I'll try and get a fiddle for the boy, and put it to the test," he said
good-naturedly.

In the evening I was aroused from a nap into which I had fallen, by the
sound of an Irish jig played on a violin, followed by shouts of
laughter, clapping of hands, shrieks, and merriment, while the noise of
feet from the courtyard below told me that Larry had been as good as his
word.  I thanked the doctor, who came in while the revels were at their
height.

"I sent into the town and borrowed a fiddle, for I was sure that your
follower's music would do as much good to the men as the fresh air of
the hills.  They and the black boys and girls are all toeing and heeling
it together.  The niggers, I confess, beat them hollow in agility and
endurance."

I asked the doctor to wheel me to the window, that I might look out and
see the fun.  He good-naturedly complied, and assisted me to sit up.
There were forty or fifty white men, and almost double the number of
blacks of both sexes,--the women dressed in gay-coloured petticoats,
with handkerchiefs round their heads; the men in white or striped
cotton--the light colour contrasting with their dark skins,--one and all
clapping their hands, snapping their fingers, and moving here and there
in figures it was difficult to follow, but all evidently enjoying
themselves immensely, judging by their grinning countenances and rolling
eyes.

After this Larry became an immense favourite with the soldiers, as he
found not a few of our countrymen among them.  The officers of the
little garrison were very kind to me, and I was never in want of
society, as one or other was constantly by my bedside.

Notwithstanding this, as I got better I became more and more anxious to
receive news of the frigate, and began to wonder what had become of her.
Though I could not walk, I saw no reason why I should not return on
board.  The doctor, however, was still of a different opinion; and I was
greatly disappointed when, on returning from the town one day, he told
me that she had come off the harbour, and that he had sent on board to
say that I was not yet fit to be moved, but would rejoin my ship by the
first opportunity after I was convalescent.  I could only thank him for
his kindness, keeping my feelings to myself.

At length I was able to get out of bed, and walk with the assistance of
a crutch.  Had the doctor and Larry not held me up, however, the first
time I made the attempt, I should have fallen down again.  I felt just
as, I suppose, an infant does on his first trying to toddle.  After this
I got rapidly better, and was soon able to join the officers in the
mess-room, and in a short time to throw away my crutches.

The first walk I proposed to take was into Savannah-le-Mer to inquire
about vessels proceeding to Port Royal.  I was accompanied by Ensign
Duffy and Larry.  With their help I got on better than I expected; and
though I didn't feel inclined to take a leap, I fancied that if put to
it I could run as well as ever.

We repaired to the house of Mr Ringer, who received us cordially, and
from him I learnt that a fine vessel, the _Princess Royal_, would sail
for Kingston the next day.  He insisted on my remaining at his house,
promising to drive me back to the barracks in the evening, that I might
wish the kind doctor and my other friends there good-bye.  We
accordingly returned as he proposed.  It was a difficult matter to get
Larry away from his late companions, who seemed inclined to detain him
_vi et armis_, the men grasping his hands, and the black girls hanging
round him, many of them blubbering outright at the thoughts of parting
from the "lubly Irish boy dat play de fiddle,"--as for pronouncing his
name, that they found beyond their power.

The officers drank my health in overflowing bumpers, and had I not
remembered my uncle's advice, and prevented my own glass from being
filled, I should not have been in a fit state to present myself at Mr
Ringer's hospitable mansion.  I remember thinking the night oppressively
hot, and was thankful that Mr Ringer was good enough to drive me from
the barracks into the town.

"I don't know what to make of the weather," said my host the next
morning, when we met at breakfast.

Not a breath of wind stirred the atmosphere, and it seemed as if all
nature was asleep; while the sky, instead of being of a cerulean blue,
was suffused, as the sun rose, with a fiery red tinge.

The hour--about noon--at which it was arranged that I should go on board
was approaching.  My host offered to accompany me down to the harbour,
but before we reached it we encountered a violent squall, which almost
took us off our legs, and sent Larry's hat flying up the street.  He
made chase after it, and we stopped to let him overtake us, while a
number of other people, caught by the wind, passed us running off in the
same direction.  At length his hat, driven into a doorway, was
recovered, and Larry came battling against the wind to rejoin us.

"You'll not put to sea to-day," said my friend; "nor for many a day to
come, if I mistake not; but we'll make our way to the harbour, and see
how things are going on there."

On reaching it we found the sea already lashed into a mass of seething
foam.  The larger vessels strained at their anchors, some tossing and
tumbling about, others already overwhelmed by the waves.  It was with
difficulty we could stand our ground.

"Unless the hurricane passes by, for hurricane it is, not one of those
vessels will escape destruction," said Mr Ringer.  As he spoke, one of
them parted from her cables and drove towards the shore.

"We must beat a rapid retreat if we wish to save our lives," he
continued; "the tempest is down upon us!"

The wind, which had previously blown from the south-east, suddenly
shifted to the southward.

Grasping my arm, he hurried me off from the spot on which we were
standing.  At the same time down came a deluge of rain--not in mere
drops, but in regular sheets of water.  It wetted us to the skin in a
few moments.  Larry, now seizing my other arm, dragged me forward.  As
we looked back for a moment, we observed the sea rising in a mountain
billow, hissing and foaming, and approaching the shore.  It was but the
first, however, of others still larger which were to follow.  It broke
with a thundering roar,--the water rushed on, flowing by the spot we had
already reached; but even though we were nearly up to our knees, I
couldn't resist taking another glance behind.  The whole ocean was
covered with wreck; and one of the larger vessels I had seen just
before, had disappeared beneath the surface.

As we hurried on, crash succeeded crash.  First one house fell, then
another, and another, and from some bright flames burst forth, which
even the descending rain failed to quench.  It was useless to attempt
saving the lives of our fellow-creatures, for the same destruction would
have overtaken us.  Our great object was to reach the higher country in
the direction of the barracks.  Had Larry and I been alone, we should in
all probability have lost our lives; but Mr Ringer, knowing the town,
led us quickly through it by the shortest route.  As we dashed through
the streets, scarcely looking to the right hand or to the left, piercing
cries of agony and despair struck on our ears.  The smaller and more
lightly built houses were levelled in a moment, and many even of the
larger were crumbling away.

"Don't you wish to go to your own house? if so, we must not stop you; we
will go with you," I said to Mr Ringer.

"We should only be crushed by the falling ruins if we made the attempt,"
he answered at the top of his voice, and even then I could scarcely hear
what he said.  "I'll try and get to it from the rear when I have seen
you out of the town."

Not far off from where we then were was a fine house, that had hitherto
withstood the hurricane.  Presently a blast struck us which, had we not
clung together, would have blown us down.  At the same time, looking up,
I saw the house literally rocking.  Down came one wall, and then
another, the roof fell in, and in one instant it was a heap of shapeless
ruins.

"I trust the inmates have escaped," cried Mr Ringer.

Just then loud shrieks and cries for help struck on our ears.  They
came, it seemed, from beneath the ruins.  We could not withstand the
appeal for assistance, and calculating as well as we could in what
direction the still standing walls would fall, we sprang forward, taking
a course to avoid them across the mass of ruins.  An arch, which had
apparently formed the centre of a passage, was yet uninjured, though
blocked up.  The cries seemed to us to come from thence.  We should
find, we knew, great difficulty in removing the _debris_ which
encumbered it, and the walls might at any moment fall down and crush us.
Still Larry and I, having climbed to the top of the heap, began pulling
away the beams and planks and rubbish which stopped up the entrance.
Mr Ringer joined us, though evidently considering our occupation a very
dangerous one.  However, we persevered, and at length had made an
opening sufficiently large to look in.  We could see two ladies, an old
gentleman, and a mulatto servant.

"We have come to help you," I cried out.  "If you'll climb up here
you'll be free, and there may yet be time, Mr Ringer thinks, to reach
the open country."

Mr Ringer joining us, the two gentlemen recognised each other.

"What, Martin!  Glad to see you safe," said the former.  "Come, get out
of that place as fast as possible."

Encouraged by us, the youngest of the ladies first made the attempt, and
succeeded in getting high enough to reach our hands.  The old lady
followed, though unless Mr Martin and the mulatto girl had shoved
behind, we should have found it impossible to have got her through.  Mr
Martin and the girl followed.

As may be supposed, we didn't stop longer on the ruins than was
necessary, but scrambling over them, again reached the open street.
Scarcely were we there before down came the remaining wall, with a crash
which broke in the arch.  It would certainly have destroyed Mr Martin
and his family had they been there.  The event showed us clearly the
importance of getting out of the town.  It seemed scarcely possible that
any one passing through the narrow streets could escape being killed.
Even in the broader ones the danger of being crushed was fearful.  Mr
Ringer assisted Mrs Martin, I offered my aid to the young lady, and
Larry took charge of the old gentleman, who required helping as much as
his wife and daughter.  I had forgotten all about my lameness.  We of
course were somewhat delayed in our progress.  Now we had to scramble
over fallen walls--now we narrowly escaped being killed by masses of
masonry and timber falling around us.

At length the open was reached, and we made our way to some higher
ground overlooking the bay.  We had reason to be thankful that we were
out of the town.  Providentially we reached a small stone building,
which afforded us some shelter from the driving rain and furious wind,
against which it was impossible to stand alone.  The bay, as we looked
down upon it, presented a fearful scene.  The whole shore was strewn
with masses of wreck.  Not a small craft had escaped, and the largest,
with all anchors down, were tossing about, and seemed every moment
likely to be engulfed.  The town itself was a heap of ruins, scarcely a
house was standing, and none had escaped injury.  In some places flames
were raging, which would have set fire to other houses had it not been
for the mass of water descending on them, while even amid the uproar of
the elements we could hear the shrieks and cries of the inhabitants who
still survived.  Presently another immense wave rolled into sight, out
of the dense mist which now shrouded the ocean.  On it came with a
tremendous roar.  The first vessel it reached was in a moment buried
beneath it.  We thought the others would share the same fate, but the
cables parted, and they were borne on the summit of the wave high up
above the beach.  On, on it came.  Mr Ringer shouted out to us to
escape; and he had reason to do so, for it seemed as if the wave would
overwhelm the spot where we stood.  Though the water swept up a portion
of the height, the wave broke before it reached it, leaving the
_Princess Royal_ high and dry on the shore, while it receded, roaring
and hissing, carrying off everything in its course.  The crew of the
stranded ship had good cause to be thankful for their escape.  On again
looking towards the town, we saw that the sea had swept away many of the
houses in the lower part, while the water rushed through the streets,
extinguishing some of the fires, and must have overwhelmed all caught in
its embrace.  Mr Ringer proposed that we should make our way to the
barracks, but the ladies were unwilling to encounter the storm, and
begged to remain where they were.  Evening was now approaching, but the
hurricane gave no signs of abating.  In whatever direction we looked we
could see its dire effects.  Not a shrub, not a cane, remained standing.
Every tree had been blown down.  It seemed as if a vast scythe had
passed over the land.  The uproar continued as loud as before.

"This is a mighty curious country," shouted Larry to me.  "It beats a
faction fight in Tipperary hollow.  I was after thinking it was the most
peaceable disposed part of the world, seeing how quiet it has been since
we came out here.  Hullo! what's that?"

There was a loud rumbling sound.  The earth shook beneath our feet.

"It's an earthquake," cried Mr Ringer.  "Heaven forbid that it should
increase."

The ladies clung to Mr Martin with looks of terror.  Again there came
that fearful shaking of the earth; many of the remaining buildings
toppled over.  Flashes of lightning, brighter than I had ever before
beheld, darted from the sky and lighted up the sea.  Even the night
scarcely added to the horrors of those moments, as far as we were
concerned, though it must have done so to the miserable people still
within the precincts of the town.  At one time the water seemed to
recede altogether out of the bay, but presently, as if gathered up in a
heap, it once more rolled over the land.

Hour after hour went by, till about midnight, almost as suddenly as it
had commenced, the hurricane passed away from us on its devastating
course; and in a short time, excepting the roar of the surf upon the
shore, scarcely a sound was heard.  On this we set out for the barracks,
hoping that they had withstood the tempest.  Although they had suffered
considerably, the larger portion had escaped.

Mr Martin and his wife and daughter warmly expressed their gratitude to
us for having rescued them from their perilous position, saying that
they must have perished had we not come to their assistance.

"I wish that I had a home to which to invite you, said Mr Martin, with
a melancholy smile; but I trust that my house may ere long be rebuilt,
and that I may have the means of showing my gratitude better than I can
now."

"I shall be very happy to stay with you if I have the chance," I
answered; "but I suspect it will be a long time before I again get
leave."

The officers, as might have been expected, received us in the kindest
way possible.  Duffy was delighted to see us.  He fancied I might have
gone on board, and sailed before the hurricane came on.

Next morning the commanding officer marched the whole of the men down,
to render such assistance as they could to the survivors among the
suffering inhabitants.  I have never since witnessed a more fearful
scene of destruction than the town presented.  Numbers were lying about
in the streets, where they had been crushed to death by the falling
masses, many among them being the principal people in the place.  In all
directions the survivors were rushing about in quest of relatives or
friends; while the larger number of the dead lay concealed beneath the
ruins.

The appearance of the _Princess Royal_ was extraordinary.  We had seen
her cast on shore and left on her beam-ends.  At present she was
perfectly upright, the ground beneath her keel, during the earthquake,
having given way: and there she lay, securely embedded, without the
possibility of ever being set afloat again, about a quarter of a mile
from the beach.  Two other vessels had been driven higher on shore, but
lay on their beam-ends.  It was at once proposed to utilise the vessel,
by making her the home of the houseless inhabitants; and forthwith the
women and children, and men unable to labour, were collected on board
her.  As I surveyed the effects of the hurricane, I naturally felt very
anxious about my ship, fearing that she might have been at sea, and been
lost.  I afterwards learned that it was only the eastern wing of the
hurricane that had swept by the western end of Jamaica, but that its
influence in a less degree had been felt over the whole island.  As soon
as the news reached Kingston, vessels were despatched with provisions,
and such relief as could be afforded, for the sufferers.  As I was
anxious to get back, I took my passage with Larry on board the _Rose_
schooner.  The captain promised to land us at Port Royal in a couple of
days; "always providing that we are not snapped up by the enemy, or that
another hurricane doesn't come on," he observed.

As we sailed out of the harbour, I could see at one glance, more clearly
than before, the destruction worked by the hurricane and earthquake.
The whole town appeared to be reduced to heaps of ruins, with here and
there a few shattered walls standing up in their midst.  The skipper of
the _Rose_ could give me no information about the _Liffy_, There were a
considerable number of men-of-war in the harbour, and he had not taken
especial note of any of them.

"If she was at sea during the hurricane, it is a hundred to one that she
escaped," he observed.

We made all sail, and kept in shore as much as we could, lest the
enemy's privateers might spy us out, and carry us off to Saint Domingo,
or elsewhere.  We, however, escaped all dangers; and, to my great joy,
on entering Port Royal I made out the _Liffy_ among the other men-of-war
at anchor.  The _Rose's_ boat took me alongside.  Mr Saunders was on
deck, so I went up to him.

"Come aboard, sir," I said, touching my hat.

"What, my lad! is it you?" he exclaimed.  "I'm glad to see you.  There
was a report that you had perished during the hurricane at Savannah.
How is your leg?  Able to return to your duty, I hope?"

"As able and willing as ever, sir," I answered.

"That's all right; there'll be work for us all, ere long."

As I entered the berth there was a regular shout, "Hurrah, Paddy Finn!"

"Glad to have you back, youngster," cried Nettleship.

Tom Pim grasped my hand, and seemed unwilling to let it go, though he
didn't say as much as many of the others.  I had to answer whole volleys
of questions from my messmates, who were all eager to know what had
happened to me.  I described our narrow escape from the town, and
modestly touched on the part I had taken in rescuing Mr Martin and his
wife and daughter.

"Glad to see you uphold the honour of the cloth," said Nettleship; "we
should never see anybody in danger, and not try to help them at the risk
of our lives."

I was amply repaid by the praises my messmates bestowed upon me, for
they knew that I had only told them the truth without exaggeration.  I
asked what they expected we should do next.

"Look out for the French and Spanish fleets, which have long been
threatening to pay the island a visit, and take possession of it, if
they can," answered Nettleship.  "Why they have not come before now I
don't know; but there's some reason for it, I suppose."

The sound of music, and the stamp of feet, as I went forward in the
evening, showed me that Larry's fiddle had been taken care of; and there
he was, scraping away in high glee, setting his messmates dancing
merrily to his music, they not troubling their heads about the fierce
work which was in store for them.  He had received, he afterwards told
me, a hearty welcome from all hands, who were delighted to get him back
among them.

The next morning Nettleship went on shore.  We were most of us in the
berth when he returned.

"I have grand news, boys; not so much for us, though, as for the people
of Jamaica.  The governor has received information that the Spanish and
French fleets were caught in the late hurricane, as they were cruising
off Cape Francois.  Two Spanish ships foundered, two more were driven no
one knows where, and four were dismasted.  Two Frenchmen were dismasted,
one went to the bottom, and another was driven on shore, while the rest,
considerably battered, had to bear away to Havanna."

"How do you know that it's all true?" asked several of the mess.

"I heard it from the captain himself, and, what's more, we're to sail
forthwith to carry the information to Sir Samuel Hood, who is supposed
to be at Barbadoes.  He sent me on to direct Mr Saunders to get the
ship ready for sea, so that we may sail the moment he comes on board."

The boatswain's call, summoning all hands on deck, prevented us from
asking any further questions.  It not being known at what moment the
ship might be sent to sea, she was kept well provided with water and
fresh provisions, so that we had nothing to wait for from the shore,
except a few of the officers, who had gone to Port Royal.

Blue Peter was hoisted and a gun fired, as a signal for them to come
off.  The topsails were loosed, the cable hove short, and we were ready
to start at the first puff of the land breeze that might come off the
mountains.  We were all anxiously looking out for the appearance of the
captain.  The moment his gig came alongside, she was hoisted up, the
anchor hove in, the sails let fall, and we glided out of the harbour.
Under the influence of the land breeze, with studding-sails set below
and aloft, we ran on at a rapid rate, expecting that we should reach
Barbadoes in about a week at the furthest.  When once away from the
land, the wind dropped, and for hours we lay becalmed.  The next morning
we got a light breeze, which enabled us to steer our course.  A constant
look-out was kept for the enemy, for though the main body of the French
fleet was said to be in harbour, it was likely that their cruisers would
be met with.

Nettleship, Tom Pim, and I were in the morning watch.  The first ruddy
streaks, harbingers of the rising sun, had appeared in the eastern sky,
when the look-out who had been sent aloft shouted, "A sail on the
lee-bow."



CHAPTER THIRTEEN.

FRESH CAPTURES.

There had been a stark calm since the commencement of the middle watch.
The sails still hung up and down against the masts.

"What does she look like?" inquired Mr Bramston, the lieutenant of the
watch.

"A ship, sir," was the answer.

Nettleship, with his glass at his back, sprang up the rigging to take a
look at the stranger.

"She's a ship, sir, but appears to me to be a small one," he observed as
he came down.  The chances are that it's all we shall know about her.
If she gets a breeze before us she'll soon be out of sight.

Soon after, some catspaws began to play across the water.

"Hurrah! we shall get the breeze before the stranger feels it," cried
Nettleship.

Now the canvas began to bulge out; now it again dropped.  The royals and
topgallant sails filled, and the frigate moved slowly through the water.
Her speed soon increased, however, as the breeze freshened.  At length
we could see the stranger from the decks, for, as she still lay
becalmed, we were quickly coming up with her.  Nettleship again went
aloft, and I followed him.

"What do you think of her?"  I asked.

"She's Spanish or French; I'm pretty certain of that.  A flush-decked
ship, probably carrying twenty to six-and-twenty guns."

"If she can't escape, will she fight, do you think?"  I inquired.

"If her captain has any pluck in him, he may hope to knock away some of
our spars, though he can't expect to take us," he said.

When we again came below, and Nettleship made his report, the drum beat
to quarters.  Every stitch of canvas we could carry had been set, below
and aloft.  We were carrying down the breeze as we glided on towards the
stranger.  She also made all sail, though she still lay becalmed; but
every moment we expected to see her canvas blow out, when, if she was a
fast vessel, she might lead us a long chase before we could come up to
her.  As our object was to get down to Barbadoes with all speed, the
captain might consider it his duty to let her go, rather than be led out
of his course.  As we approached, our bow-chasers were got ready, to
send her an unmistakeable message that she must strike, or run for it.
Hitherto she had shown no colours.  Presently the French ensign was run
up at her peak.  Immediately afterwards a flash issued from her stern,
and a shot came bounding over the water towards us; but we were not yet
within range.

"That's a long gun," observed Nettleship.  "If she keeps ahead, she may
do us some damage with it before we get alongside of her."

"Give her the starboard bow gun, Mr Saunders," cried the captain.

The gun being trained as far forward as possible, we yawed slightly to
port.  We watched the shot as it flew across the water.  It was well
aimed, for it struck the counter of the chase; but its force must have
been nearly expended, for it fell back into the sea.

All the sails of the chase were now drawing, and away she went before
the wind.

"She may still lead us a long dance, unless we can knock away some of
her spars," observed Nettleship.  "She's evidently a fast craft, or her
commander would not attempt to escape.  We are, however, as yet gaining
on her; and, if we can once get her under our broadside, we shall soon
bring down her colours."

While he was speaking, another shot was fired from the Frenchman's
stern.  Ricochetting over the surface, it passed close to our side.
After this she continued firing shot after shot.  Two went through our
canvas, others missed us.  At last one came on board, and carried off a
man's head.

Captain Macnamara, anxious to get up to her, would not lose way by again
yawing to fire; and we had to receive her shot without returning the
compliment.

"It's very annoying to be bothered by a small craft like that," said
Tom.  "However, we'll pay her off when we do get up with her."

Fast as she was, our wider spread of canvas enabled us before long to
bring our foremost guns to bear.  They were fired in rapid succession.
The first discharge produced no apparent damage; but at the second, down
came her mizen-yard.  On seeing this, our crew cheered lustily, and our
guns were quickly run in and reloaded.  The enemy, however, showed no
intention of striking.

Just as we were again about to fire, putting her helm to starboard, she
brought the whole of her larboard broadside to bear on us, and a dozen
round shot came crashing aboard the frigate.

Three of our men fell, and several others were wounded, mostly by the
splinters which flew about the deck.  None of our spars, however, were
shot away.

Before she could again keep before the wind the whole of our starboard
broadside was poured into her.  It was better aimed even than hers.  The
sound of the shrieks and cries rising from her deck told us of its
fearful effects.  Still her colours were flying.

Again keeping before the wind, she stood on, blazing away at us from two
long guns in her stern.  The loss of her mizen told on her sailing.
Slowly but surely we got nearer and nearer.

"Shall we not soon be up with her?"  I asked Nettleship; for it was
trying work to be peppered at without being able to return more than a
single shot occasionally.

"As surely as the sun sets and rises again, unless she knocks away one
of our masts, or brings down our main or fore-yard; and then it's
possible that she may get off after all."

"I made sure we should have her before many minutes were over," I
observed.

I remarked the eager countenances of the men as they stood at their
guns, expecting every moment the order to fire.  It came at last.  Once
more we kept away.

"Give it them now!" cried the captain, and every gun sent forth a sheet
of flame.

Our shot told with fearful effect on the enemy's deck.  There seemed to
be confusion on board, and then a man was seen to spring aft, and down
came the colours.

A cheer rose from our men at the sight.  We stood on, however, till we
were close enough to hail, when the captain ordered through the
speaking-trumpet the Frenchman to heave to, threatening to fire another
broadside if he failed to do so.  The order was obeyed; and we also
having hove-to, a boat was lowered to send on board and take possession.
Mr Bramston went in her, and I accompanied him.

On reaching the deck of the prize, a glance showed me the fearful damage
our guns had produced.  In all directions lay numbers of dead seamen,
the deck slippery with gore.  The bulwarks were shattered, two of the
boats knocked to pieces, and the ship was otherwise severely damaged.

A lieutenant stepped up to us.

"My captain lies there," he said, and he pointed to a body concealed
beneath a flag; "another of my brother officers is killed, the rest are
wounded, and I alone am unhurt."

Mr Bramston complimented him on his bravery, and told him to prepare
for going on board the frigate.

Meantime other boats came alongside and removed the crew of the prize,
which proved to be the _Soleil_ carrying eighteen guns and six
carronades, with a crew of one hundred and eighty men, upwards of thirty
of whom were killed or wounded.

Mr Bramston sent me back with this information.  The captain at once
decided to remove the prisoners, and send the prize to Port Royal.

As no time was to be lost, the boats were lowered, and the prisoners
soon brought on board.

The captain at once sent for Nettleship, Tom, and me.

"I intend to send you in charge of the prize, Mr Nettleship," he said,
"and these two youngsters can accompany you.  Fifteen men are all I can
spare you, so you must make the most of them.  All the prisoners will be
removed, with the exception of about a dozen, who may volunteer to
assist in working the ship, so that you'll easily look after them."

"Thank you, sir, for the confidence you place in me," said Nettleship,
who would gladly have accepted the command, even if he had had but half
a dozen men.

Tom and I promised to do our best, and hurried below to get our traps
ready.

I took care to apply for Larry, and to remind him to bring his riddle
with him, but I didn't hear what other men were selected to form the
prize crew.  Ten of the Frenchmen only could be induced to promise their
assistance.  Tom and I, without loss of time, accompanied Nettleship on
board.  As soon as the dead were put overboard, the decks washed down,
and the damages the prize had received were repaired, the men who had
come from the frigate to assist us returned to her.  She stood to the
southward, and we made sail for Port Royal.  Among the first men on whom
my eyes fell was Dan Hoolan, looking as sulky and morose as ever, though
he was going about his work with more activity than he generally
displayed.  As I caught sight of the rest of the crew, I found that
three more of the Irishmen pressed with him were among them.

"I hope that by this time they are content with their lot, and will do
their duty like men," I thought to myself; "still I would rather have
had any others."

"We are terribly short-handed, I must confess," said Nettleship, as he
and I were seated at dinner in the captain's cabin, while Tom Pim was
acting as officer of the watch.  "I know I can trust you two fellows,
however, and we must make the most of the men we've got.  There are many
of them about the worst on board; but if we have fine weather, they
won't have much to do, and we may hope not to catch a Tartar on the way.
We must take to our heels if we see a suspicious stranger, and the
_Soleil_ appears to have a fast pair, at all events, so we may hope to
escape.  Though I would rather be in a condition to fight than have to
run away."

"The Frenchmen only promised to assist in navigating the ship.  We
mustn't trust them to man the guns," I said.

"We'll see what our own men can do without them, then," said Nettleship
in a cheery tone.

We hurried over our dinner to let Tom come down and take his, while
Nettleship and I went on deck.  The weather looked favourable, and
Nettleship was in high spirits at finding himself in command of a fine
ship.  Should he take her to Port Royal in safety, he might reasonably
expect to obtain his long waited-for promotion.  Although the majority
of the men sent with us were the least reliable of the crew, we had an
old quartermaster, Ben Nash, and three other seamen, who were first-rate
hands, and we took care to put two of them into each watch.  Of course
there was plenty of work to do in getting the ship to rights.  As soon
as the men knocked off we heard Larry's riddle going.  Stepping forward,
I found that he had set all the Frenchmen dancing, and some of our own
men, too, who were enjoying themselves to their hearts' content.  "Larry
will take good care to keep the people in good temper," I thought to
myself, as I turned aft.

When night came on, Nettleship thought it prudent to shorten sail, as is
the custom of careful merchant skippers, who can't perform that
operation in a hurry.  We lost nothing by so doing, as for some hours it
was a stark calm.  Tom and Ben Nash were in one watch, Nettleship and I
in another.  Night passed quickly away.  Towards morning we got a
breeze, and were once more standing on our course.  We kept a bright
look-out, not, as we should have liked, to watch for a prize, but to run
away should a suspicious sail be sighted.  We kept no colours flying,
for should a Frenchman see us, we might have a better chance of avoiding
an encounter.  At daylight, as we had a fair breeze, all sail was again
set, and we stood gaily on our course.

"If this weather holds, we shall be safe at anchor in a couple of days
in Port Royal," said Nettleship.

"A sail ahead!" shouted the look-out, from aloft.

"We must continue on our course till we see what she is," said
Nettleship.

Tom Pim, who went aloft to have a look at her, on his return said that
she was a brig, standing to the westward, but too far off at the time to
judge of her size.  She appeared to be almost becalmed, while we,
carrying the breeze along with us, rapidly neared her.  At length we
could see her clearly from the deck.

"She has hoisted her colours," observed Nettleship.  "Though from the
cut of her canvas she's English, as far as I can make out, her flag is
French."

We had not yet hoisted our colours; indeed, as we were standing, the
Frenchman could not have seen them even if we had.

"There's no doubt about the flag," observed Tom, who had taken the
glass; "that is French, though she's an English merchantman, if I ever
saw one.  The people on board her recognise this ship as one of their
own cruisers, and take us for a friend."

"I believe you're right, Tom," said Nettleship, "and we'll not undeceive
them."

The stranger, having now got a breeze, hove-to, apparently wishing to
speak us.  We had to luff up a little to reach her.

"Hoist the French ensign," said Nettleship to me; and I ran it up to the
peak.

As we got nearer it became necessary to shorten sail, that we might
lower a boat to send on board and take possession, should it be found
that the brig had been captured by the French.  Whether or not it was
from the slow way in which we performed the operation, the suspicions of
the Frenchmen were aroused, and putting up their helm, they filled their
sails and ran off before the wind.  We immediately let fall our courses,
and hauling down the French flag and hoisting the English, stood away in
chase.

"Give her a shot, Tom," said Nettleship.  "We mustn't let her lead us
out of our course."

Tom and I hurried forward, and, training the gun ourselves, fired.  The
chase took no notice of the first shot, but we quickly again loaded, and
managed to send a second plump on board her.  To our satisfaction, she
immediately rounded to, when we were soon up to her, we also heaving to
to windward.

"You shall board her, Paddy," said Nettleship.  "Take care to let the
Frenchmen understand that it was fortunate for them we didn't sink the
brig."

Larry, Hoolan, and four other men, formed my boat's crew, all of us of
course being armed to the teeth.  We found only ten men on board, three
of whom were blacks, the rest French, under the command of a young
French midshipman.  He at once handed me his sword, with a polite bow.
As I understood French,--I forget if I before said so,--I learnt from
him that the brig was, as we supposed, English; that she had been
captured a week before by a French corvette; and that he was on his way
to Saint Domingo.  He looked a little downcast on losing his command,
but shrugged his shoulders, and observed that it was "_la fortune de la
guerre_."  I requested him and five of his white crew to accompany me on
board my ship.  He replied that he was ready, and begged that he might
be allowed to carry his traps with him.

"Certainly, monsieur," I replied; and he dived down below, as he said,
to pack them up.  As he was much longer in the cabin than I considered
necessary, I grew impatient, and followed him.  I found him talking to a
person in bed in one of the side-berths.

"I ought, monsieur, to have told you that I have a brother aspirant, who
is very ill; and I fear that it might cause his death were he to be
removed.  Your captain would be conferring a great favour on us both,
were he to allow me to remain with him, as no one else is so well able
to nurse him as I am."

"I'll ask him," I said, looking at the sick youth, who certainly
appeared very ill.  I regret, however, that I cannot delay longer, so
you must come with me.

"I'll obey you, monsieur," said the midshipman; and exchanging a few
more words with his sick companion, he followed me on deck.

Leaving Larry and two other men on board, I made three of the Frenchmen
take their places in the boat, and returned to the _Soleil_ with the
young Frenchman.  I told Nettleship of the request he had made.

"I don't like to refuse him, as what he says is no doubt true," said
Nettleship; "but we must take care that he plays us no tricks."

"Then am I to tell him that he may return on board the brig?"  I asked.

"Yes, you may take him with you, for I intend to send you in charge of
the prize, as I can't spare Tom; but Nash shall go with you,--you
couldn't have a better man;--and so with five hands, and the help of the
blacks you speak of, and a couple of the Frenchmen, you'll be able to
work the vessel, and by keeping in our wake you'll easily find your way
to Port Royal."  I was highly pleased at the confidence Nettleship
placed in me, especially as Tom was not a bit jealous.

"Nettleship thinks that as I'm a little chap I shouldn't inspire the
same respect among the Frenchmen that you will," he said, as we shook
hands before I went down the side.

The brig was the _Good Luck_, bound from Barbadoes to Halifax when she
had been captured.  The French midshipman, who was profuse in his
expressions of gratitude for being allowed to return to look after his
sick messmate, told me that his name was La Touche.

As soon as the boat which had brought me on board had gone back to the
_Soleil_ she made sail, and I followed in her wake.  I at once mustered
my crew.  The two Frenchmen said that they were perfectly ready to do as
their officer wished.

"I desire you, then, to obey monsieur, who is in command of this
vessel," said La Touche.

"Certainly we will obey him," answered the Frenchmen, making flourishing
bows.

The blacks, two of whom spoke English, said also that they were ready to
obey me.

On looking at the men, I saw that not only Dan Hoolan, but two of the
men who had been pressed with him, had also been sent; but then I had
Ben and Larry, on whom I could thoroughly rely; and the others, while we
kept close to the _Soleil_, would not venture to attempt any treachery.

In less than an hour the wind fell very light.  I saw, notwithstanding
this, by the way in which the brig slipped through the water, that she
was remarkably fast for an English merchant vessel.  This was
satisfactory, as I felt sure that during the night I was not likely to
fall behind the _Soleil_.

As the day drew on the wind fell altogether, and we lay becalmed at a
short distance from each other.  I divided my crew into two watches.  I
took one with Larry, two of our own crew, a Frenchman, and a black.  Ben
had charge of the other, with the remainder.  I did not think it prudent
to let La Touche take a watch, though he politely offered to do so.  The
night was excessively hot, and I felt more inclined to remain on deck
than below.  After La Touche and I had had supper, he said he would
remain in the cabin to look after his sick friend.  One of the Frenchmen
acted as steward, and the other as cook.  The former frequently came
into the cabin to bring us our meals, and to take food to the sick
midshipman.

I kept the first watch, and Ben relieved me at midnight, when I lay down
on deck, on a mattress I had brought up from the cabin, under a small
awning rigged near the after-part of the vessel.  I had been asleep for
a couple of hours or more, when I was awakened by feeling the vessel
heel suddenly over.

"All hands on deck!  Shorten sail!" shouted Ben in a lusty voice.

I sprang to my feet.  There was not a moment to lose.  La Touche, who
had been awakened at the same time, rushed up on deck, followed by
another person, who appeared to be as active as any one.  As rapidly as
we could, we let fly the topgallant sheets, lowered the peak, and
brailed up the foresail, while the helm was put up.  The brig righted,
fortunately not carrying away the masts, and off we flew before the
wind.  The Frenchmen and blacks behaved remarkably well, and ran aloft
to reef the topsails, and stow the lighter sails, which were flapping
loudly as they blew out with the wind.

The sky had become overcast; the scud flew rapidly along, just above our
heads, as it seemed, while the spoon-drift, blown off from rising seas,
covered the ocean with a sheet of white.

When all immediate danger was over, the stranger who had so mysteriously
shown himself slipped down the companion ladder, and I was too busy to
ask La Touche who he was.  I naturally concluded that he was the sick
midshipman La Touche had been so tenderly nursing.

As soon as we had got the brig to rights, I looked out for the _Soleil_
but could nowhere distinguish her.  Had she borne up? or having
shortened sail in time, was she still keeping her course?  I hoped that
the latter was the case, and resolved to attempt hauling to the wind,
and steering for Port Royal.  I told Ben of my intention, as he, I
considered, was the best seaman among my crew.

"It will be as much as we can do, sir, if we could do it at all," he
answered.  "The brig is not particularly stiff, or she would not have
heeled over as sharply as she did just now."

"The French officer knows better than we can what sail the brig will
bear.  I might ask his opinion," I remarked.

"Beg pardon, sir, but I would not ask him if I were you," said Ben.
"He'll of course say, `Keep before the wind; but he won't say that if we
do we shall chance to run right into the midst of a Spanish or French
fleet, or up to one of their cruisers, if so be this is only a passing
gale."

"I fear that it is not merely a passing gale; but still, if we can keep
the brig on a wind, we'll try and do it," I said.

I gave the order to man the braces, waiting for an opportunity to put
the helm down and bring the brig up to the wind.  Scarcely was the order
given, however, than a blast more furious than before struck the brig,
and which, had I not delayed carrying out my intention, would either
have hove her on her beam-ends or carried away the masts.  On we flew
before the wind, which was every moment increasing; while the seas rose
higher and higher, and came roaring up around us.  Even now we had more
sail set than we could safely carry, and I at once ordered the hands
aloft to furl the main-topsail, and to closely reef the fore-topsail.
Yet even when this was done, the brig flew on at a tremendous pace.

"To my mind, we've got old Harry Cane on board, sir," said Ben; "and the
sooner we get our fore-topsail stowed the better, to save it from being
blown out of the bolt ropes, and the less likely we shall be to lose the
masts.  If the foremast goes, the mainmast will be pretty sure to
follow."

"You're right, Ben," I answered, and I gave the order to furl the
fore-topsail.

Ben and Larry led the way aloft, and most of our own men followed; but
the two Frenchmen didn't seem to like the look of things, and remained
on deck.  I ordered them up, but they stood holding on to the bulwarks
without moving, and I had no power to compel them.  My own men, however,
were able to perform the operation without their aid, and at length,
having stowed the sail, they came down on deck.

Even now the brig dashed on at a furious rate, while the sea, roaring up
astern, threatened constantly to poop her.  Fortunately, we had plenty
of sea-room, and unless the wind should suddenly shift round to the
opposite quarter, as I knew it might do, I hoped that we should keep
afloat till the hurricane had abated.

Consulting with Ben, I did everything he advised to secure the masts and
spars.

When La Touche saw how we were employed, he went to the Frenchmen and
blacks, and induced them to assist; indeed, without their help we could
scarcely have done what was necessary.

As soon as we had finished all that was required, I went into the cabin,
and asked La Touche to find me a chart, and calculating where we had
been when the hurricane first struck us, I marked down as well as I
could the course we had since run, that I might better be able to find
my way back to Port Royal.  I was not a very experienced navigator,
still, having the exercise of my wits, I hoped to succeed, and I felt
not a little proud at the thought that I must trust to my own resources.
I could not expect assistance from La Touche, and no one else on board,
except the sick midshipman knew anything about navigation.

Expecting to follow close in the wake of the _Soleil_ I had not brought
a quadrant with me, but I found one in the cabin, as well as a French
nautical almanack; and I hoped, when the hurricane was over and the sky
had cleared, to be able to use them.

La Touche had hitherto occupied the state-room, but supposing that I
should turn him out, he had removed his things to a berth on the
opposite side, close to that of his messmate.

Having placed the chart and quadrant with the almanack in what was now
my cabin, I locked the door, and returned on deck.

The hurricane showed no signs of abating; but the brig, which was
fortunately not fully laden, behaved beautifully, and literally bounded
over the waves as she ran before the wind.  The crew continued on deck,
holding fast on to the stanchions, belaying-pins, and the rigging, to
save themselves from being washed away; for every now and then a sea
tumbled on board, and swept along the deck, sometimes over one quarter,
sometimes over another, and frequently over the bows; but the hatches
had been battened down, and no water got below.

"We shall do well, I hope, and carry the brig safely into Port Royal," I
observed to La Touche.

He shrugged his shoulders, and answered--

"For your sake I may wish it, though I shall not be sorry if we fall in
with one of our own cruisers before the voyage is ended."

"Very naturally; but should she appear, we will try our best to get away
from her," I said, laughing.

At length daylight broke.  A wild scene the ocean presented; the foaming
seas dancing up on all sides, through which the brig was struggling
onwards.  It seemed to me that the wind was blowing stronger than ever,
and I began to fear that we should be driven over towards the reefs and
shoals upon the American coast before it had ceased.  If so, shipwreck
was almost certain, and the chance of saving our lives would be small
indeed.  Still I kept up my spirits, and took care not to express my
fears to my shipmates.

Suddenly about noon the wind dropped, but whether or not it was gaining
strength for a fresh blow I was not certain.  I asked La Touche.  He
replied that he could not tell, but that it might be so, and that it
would be wise to be prepared for it.  The seas tumbled about so much
that I could not bring the brig to the wind.  I, however, first set the
fore, and then the main-topsail, and kept her before it to avoid the
risk of the seas pooping us.  The clouds at length began to disperse,
and in a short time the sea itself went down.

I lost no time in bringing the brig to the wind, making more sail, and
shaping a course for Jamaica.  Before nightfall the clouds had entirely
disappeared; and the setting sun cast a radiant glow over the sky and
sea, as the brig, heeling over to the breeze, sped on her way.

"I congratulate you, monsieur, on the change of weather, for I should
have been grieved as much as you would, had the brig been lost," said La
Touche, coming up to me.  "Still there's many a slip between the cup and
the lip,"--he gave an equivalent proverb in French.  "If one of our
cruisers appears, you'll have to congratulate me, though I hope you'll
receive the same courteous treatment that I have enjoyed from you, and
for which I have to thank you."

"I have no fear of that," I replied.  "Your cruiser has not yet
appeared.  The _Good Luck_ is fortunately a fast craft, and we'll do all
we can to put her at her best speed."

We had been unable to sit down to table during the hurricane, and had
had no time to take a regular meal since; but me of the French seamen,
who acted as steward, now placed a very substantial one on the table.  I
played the part of host, and La Touche that of guest.  His messmate was
too ill to get up, he said, but notwithstanding, though a sick man, he
managed to consume a fair quantity of the viands La Touche took to him.

"There ought to be some good wine in this locker, if the bottles were
not broken during the hurricane," said La Touche, rising and lifting up
the lid.  Groping about, he produced a couple of bottles of claret, and
another of cognac.

"There are several more here, so that we need not stint ourselves," he
said, laughing.

A corkscrew was soon found.  I took a couple of glasses.  The wine was
excellent, there was no doubt about that.  La Touche pressed me to take
a third.  "Come, we must pledge each other," he said, replenishing my
glass, and filling up his own.  "Here's to the continuance of our
friendship."

I felt pretty well tired, as I had been up the whole of the last night,
and a good portion of the previous one, so I was not sorry to have
something to set me up.  We struck our glasses together, and wished each
other health, prosperity, and promotion.

"You like the wine," said La Touche.  "Come--another glass; now we must
finish the bottle, and I don't wish to take a larger share than you
have."

"No, no, my friend," I answered, thinking there was something peculiar
in his manner.  "I command this craft, and must keep a cool head on my
shoulders, but I have no objection to your finishing the bottle, and
taking a second, if you like."

In vain he pressed me, for the more he pressed, the more determined I
became not to take another drop.  I found the wine indeed stronger than
I had supposed it was.  Besides which, I recollected the major's advice,
which strengthened me in my resolution.



CHAPTER FOURTEEN.

TREACHERY.

After supper we rose to go on deck.  I observed as we did so, that La
Touche replaced the bottle in the locker.  I felt more inclined to go to
sleep than to pace the deck, but I resolved to take the first watch,
that Nash might have the middle one.  The wind had fallen still more,
the moonbeams cast a silvery light over the ocean.  La Touche, who had
followed me out of the cabin, joined me, and we walked up and down for
some time.  At length, giving a yawn, he said--

"If monsieur does not wish me to keep watch, which I shall be happy to
do, I shall turn in, for I can scarcely keep my eyes open."

"Thank you," I said; "but I cannot disobey my orders, though I should
place perfect confidence in your honour."

"I am much obliged to you for the compliment," he replied in a
hesitating tone; and wishing me good-night, and a pleasant watch, he
dived below.

I continued walking up and down the deck, doing my utmost to keep myself
awake.  Seeing Larry, I called to him to come to me.  One of our men was
at the helm.  I asked Larry how the people were getting on forward.

"We're all as friendly as bees, Mr Terence.  Shure the Frenchmen are
mighty pleasant fellows, though I wouldn't be after trusting to them too
much.  The steward has got some bottles of the crathur, and he's been
serving it out pretty freely.  I have been afraid that Dan Hoolan and
Mat would be after taking more than is good for them, though Dan's head,
to be sure, could stand lashins of liquor, and be none the worse for
it."

"Take care, and not be tempted yourself, Larry," I said.

"No, no, Mr Terence, I know my duty too well for that, though the
Frenchmen in their love of me tried to force it down my throat."

"I wish you could manage to find the bottles of liquor, and bring them
aft, or heave them overboard; it would be putting temptation out of the
men's way," I said.

"Shure, Mr Terence, I'll obey your orders, though the Frenchmen won't
be loving me so much, if they find out it was myself that did it."

While Larry went forward to carry out my directions, I continued my
solitary walk.  I was afraid even to rest against the bulwarks for a
moment, or I should have been off to sleep like a shot.  Even as it was,
as I stood on deck watching the canvas, to see that the man at the helm
was steering properly, I more than once became unconscious of where I
was.  Though my eyes might not have closed, I lost the power of seeing,
now fancying myself on the deck of the frigate, now on board the
_Soleil_, and I heard the voices of Nettleship and Tom Pim talking to
each other, though except that they were speaking about me, I could not
make out what they said.  Now I opened my eyes.  "No higher!"  I sang
out, as I saw the head-sails almost aback.  The helmsman turned the
spokes of the wheel, and the sails filled I continued my walk, but soon
again stopped.  I went to the binnacle lamp to look at my watch.  It
still wanted half an hour to midnight.  I would have given much to have
had that half hour over; and it was with the greatest difficulty that I
managed to stand upright.  Once more as I stood, now looking out
forward, now at the sails, strange voices sounded in my ears, and my
senses wandered.

"Faith, Mr Terence, the spalpeens have been too sharp for me; I could
only find one bottle of spirits, and that was empty.  The blacks are as
drunk as fiddlers, and the Frenchmen seem to have lost their senses,
while Dan Hoolan and the rest of our men are much the same, barrin' Tim
Logan here, at the helm, and Ben Nash, and he's fast asleep, waiting for
me to call him, and relieve you."

"Well, then, Larry, go and rouse him up at once, for if he doesn't come
down soon there'll be only you and Logan to look after the ship, as I'm
pretty well done up."

"Hush, Mr Terence!  I'd like to see Logan kept at the helm," said
Larry, putting his hand to his mouth; "for when he goes forward I am
after thinking that the Frenchmen will be tempting him with the liquor,
and he's not the boy to refuse a glass of the crathur when it's put
before his nose."

"I'll speak to Nash when he comes," I said.  "Take a look-out ahead
before you go below."

In a short time Ben Nash came aft, hitching up his trousers and rubbing
his eyes as if just awakened out of sleep.  I gave him my directions,
and inquired about the rest of the crew.

"Why, sir, the watch below don't seem inclined to turn out and the men
forward seem more asleep than awake," he answered.  "It seems to me that
they have been having a drop too much; I only hope we shan't have to
shorten sail, or there won't be many of them fit to go aloft."

Ben's reply confirmed what Larry told me.  It made me very unwilling to
turn in, but so overpowerful was my sleepiness, that I knew it would be
impossible for me to keep awake much longer.

"I must lie down for half an hour or so," I said, "and if you observe
anything unusual, send Larry down to call me.  Let him stay by you if he
can manage to keep awake, while Logan remains at the helm a short while
longer."

"Never fear, sir," answered Nash.  "I'll do as you order me."

Under other circumstances I should have myself gone forward and roused
up the watch, but from the reports Nash and Larry had given me, I knew
that it would be useless, as I had no power to enforce obedience.  I
therefore very unwillingly went below, and threw myself on the bed all
standing, and in half a minute was fast asleep.

I didn't dream; not a thought passed through my brain till I was at
length partly awakened by a noise overhead.  What it was I couldn't make
out.  Presently I heard some one come down, as I supposed, to call me.
Now fully awake, I was on the point of jumping up to hurry on deck, when
I became aware that two persons were standing close to my berth.

"_Soyez tranquille, monsieur_," said the voice of La Touche.  "The brig
is no longer under your command; most of your people have joined my men,
and they insist on carrying her into the Havanna."

"Impossible!"  I exclaimed.  "My men would not have turned traitors.
I'll go on deck and see how matters stand."

"That we cannot allow.  I did not instigate my men to recapture the
vessel, they managed it themselves; but now that they have possession, I
dare not order them to give her up."

"I know that two of my people would have fought to the death rather than
have turned traitors," I exclaimed.

"Those two you speak of--the old man and the Irish lad--were
overpowered, and are stowed safely below, with handcuffs on their
wrists," he answered.  "Have I your word that you'll not interfere?  You
treated me with courtesy, and I wish you to be allowed to remain at
liberty; but if you decline to give me your word, I cannot prevent you
being treated as they are."

While he was speaking, I felt for my pistols, which I had placed at the
head of the berth, intending to spring up suddenly, knock him and his
companion over, and gain the deck, but they were gone.  My sword had
also been taken away.

I observed by the light of the lantern that his companion held, that
both of them were fully armed, and prepared to resist any attack I might
make on them.  The countenance of the other person, who wore the uniform
of a lieutenant, I did not recognise, but I guessed he must be the sick
messmate to whom La Touche had been so attentive.  I could not help
thinking also that La Touche was not so ignorant altogether of the
intentions of his crew as he asserted.

"I'll consider the subject, and let you know in the course of a few
minutes, if you'll give me that time for reflection," I answered.

I was anxious to gain time, for I still had a lingering hope that Nash
and Larry had managed to retain their liberty, and that if I could once
get on deck, we might recover possession of the brig.

"I'll not hurry you, monsieur, but shall be very much grieved if you
will not give me your word, as I shall be under the painful necessity of
subjecting you to an indignity such as I would willingly avoid,"
observed the lieutenant.

I spent the time in considering what I would do, and finally came to the
conclusion that it would be useless to refuse the freedom offered me,
as, were I handcuffed and imprisoned below, I could not assist my two
faithful men, or make any attempt to recover the brig.

I therefore said, with as good a grace as I could command, "I accept
your offer, Monsieur La Touche."

"You must give your word to this gentleman, who is my superior officer,"
said La Touche, turning to the supposed sick man.

I said nothing; but I had a shrewd suspicion that he had remained on
board for the purpose of carrying out the plan which had been so
completely successful.  I felt, however, very much downcast, and very
foolish at being outwitted, and indignant at the treacherous conduct of
my own men.  Yet what more could I have expected from Hoolan and his
associates?

"Monsieur, I promise not to interfere with the discipline of the brig,
provided I am allowed to retain my liberty," I at length said,
addressing the lieutenant.

"That is well," he replied.  "I would advise you to lie down again and
finish your sleep.  You will be in better heart to-morrow to bear your
misfortune, and we wish to return the courtesy which we have received at
your hands.  It is the fortune of war, and we have acted fairly."

I was not so clear about that, but there was no use in complaining, so I
at once threw myself into the berth, and in a minute was in happy
forgetfulness of all that had occurred.

Next morning, when I went on deck, I found the brig was steering to the
north-west.  How different I felt to the day before; then I was in
command, now I was a prisoner.  As I cast my eye along the deck, I
caught sight of Hoolan and the other mutineers.  He scowled at me
maliciously, but did not approach, and the others continued the work on
which they were engaged.  La Touche had charge of the deck.  I had my
misgivings as to how it had fared with Larry and Nash.

I turned to the French midshipman, and said--

"I should like to see my people who did not mutiny.  Where are they?"

"Two are in the hold, and the one who was at the wheel was struck down
and killed with an axe, and is overboard.  It was a case of necessity,
and the fortune of war."

I made no answer, for I was too indignant to speak.  At last I said--

"Will you give me permission to go down and see my poor men?  It will be
a consolation to them to know that I am safe, for one who is my
foster-brother is much attached to me, and the other is a faithful
fellow."

The midshipman seemed struck at hearing this, and at once said that he
would obtain permission from his lieutenant.  He went into the cabin,
and quickly returned, saying that I might go and see the men.  Taking a
lantern which he ordered one of the crew to bring me, I went down into
the hold, and there, in a small space on some planks placed on the
cargo, and surrounded by casks, I found Larry and Ben Nash, with
handcuffs on their wrists, and their legs tied, seated side by side.

"Is it yourself, Mr Terence?" exclaimed Larry, as I appeared.  "Have
you come to set us free?  Have you got the brig again?"

"I wish that I had," I answered, "but there's no such good luck for us.
I'm a prisoner at large, and I have obtained permission to come and see
you, as I wanted to know how you're getting on, and how it all
happened."

"Shure it's bad enough for myself, Mr Terence, but it's worse for poor
Ben here, for just look at him,--he's got a mighty ugly prong in his
side, another in his shoulder, and a knock in his head, which was enough
to do for him.  Tim Logan was killed entirely; but don't mind me, just
look to Ben, he can scarcely speak."

Ben's face was pale as death.

"Where are you hurt, Nash?"  I asked.

He groaned as he told me.

"But it's water I want, sir; the fellows haven't brought us any since we
were down here.  Once Dan Hoolan came to look at us, and when I asked
him for some, he turned away with a growl, swearing I might die of
thirst before he would bring me any."

Immediately on hearing this I sprang on deck, and begged La Touche to
let me have a jug of water.  He ordered one of the Frenchmen to bring it
to me, and I returned with it.  I first gave some to Nash, who, though
he eagerly bent forward his head as I lifted the jug to his lips, seemed
to have a difficulty in swallowing.  I next put it to Larry's mouth, and
he quickly gulped down the contents.

"Shure, that does a boy good," he exclaimed, drawing breath.  "I
wouldn't have taken it all, if I had been after thinking that Ben would
have been wanting it."

"I hope easily to get some more if he requires it," I said; but on
looking at poor Ben it appeared to me that neither water nor food would
restore him.  He was leaning back, gasping violently.  His eyes, as I
held the lantern to them, appeared to have lost all animation.  I put
the lantern down on the deck, and supported him in my arms.

"It's cruel in those fellows to keep the manacles on him while he's
suffering thus," I exclaimed.  "I'll ask La Touche to have them taken
off.  He could no longer, even if he had a will, interfere with them."

Springing on deck, I made my request to La Touche; he replied that he
would go below and consult his commanding officer.  He soon returned.

"If you think that the man is really dying, Lieutenant Dubois will give
you leave to do as you desire," he said, "but you must be answerable for
him."

"I feel certain that he will die unless he is properly cared for," I
answered.

He called to one of the blacks who belonged to the armourer's crew on
board the French frigate, and told him to go below and knock off the
Englishman's irons.  I thought I might put in a word for Larry.

"May they release my foster-brother?"  I asked.  "Poor fellow, he did
but his duty in defending the brig, and I'll be responsible for his good
conduct."

"Yes.  Lieutenant Dubois fancied that I spoke of both of them, and for
my part, I am very willing to do as you wish," he answered.

I hurried below, accompanied by the black.  Nash was still breathing
hard, and scarcely had the armourer commenced operations, when the poor
fellow fell back in my arms, his spirit set free before his body was
liberated from the irons.  The black continued knocking away, quite
indifferent to what had occurred.

"It's all over with poor Ben," exclaimed Larry, who was eagerly watching
the operation.

"Yes, he's gone," I answered, as I felt the honest seaman's wrist.

The black finished his work, and then stretched the body out on the
deck.

"And now, my friend, I'll beg of you to release this young fellow," I
said.  "You wouldn't like to have irons on your wrists longer than you
could help."

"Not de first time I hab dem on, and big chain too; but dis nuttin',"
said the black, and a few blows sufficed to set Larry free.

He sprang to his feet, knocking his head against the deck above him with
a force which brought him down again, but fortunately the crown of an
Irishman's head is thicker than that of most people, and he quickly
recovered himself.

Telling him to sit quiet till I got leave for him to appear, I went on
deck to report the death of Nash.

"Ah, they told me the man was badly hurt," said La Touche.  "He was a
brave fellow, for he fought desperately.  We will bury him forthwith."

"And my follower, may he return on deck?"  I asked.  "Both of us will be
glad to assist in navigating the ship, if our services are required."

"Yes, you can do so; but I do not think that you will return the
compliment we paid you, by attempting to retake the brig from us," he
answered, laughing.

"You are right, monsieur," I answered.  "I have given you my word to
that effect, and the word of an English officer is never broken."

La Touche winced.  "I took no part," he observed, "in capturing the
brig; you'll understand that."

I made no reply, though I was convinced that all along he was cognisant
of the plot and plans of his lieutenant.  The treachery of Hoolan and
his companions enabled him to succeed with greater ease than he could
otherwise have expected.

With the assistance of the black armourer, Larry and I sewed Ben up in a
piece of canvas which he obtained for us, with a shot at the feet.  We
then together carried the body to a port, and launched it overboard, no
one offering to render assistance, but at the same time not interfering
with our proceedings.  When Lieutenant Dubois came on deck, he bowed
politely to me, and we exchanged a few words, but he didn't appear
inclined to enter into conversation.  Perhaps he felt conscious that he
was guilty of treachery in allowing his men to mutiny, even if he had
not instigated them to do so, after the kind way in which he had been
treated.  Of course Nettleship made a great mistake in allowing him and
the midshipman to remain on board; but judging them by his own sense of
honour, he could not suppose it possible they would take advantage of
his generosity, and even dream of attempting to recapture the brig.

Larry, when I was on deck, always kept close to me, and he asked whether
I could obtain permission for him to sleep under the companion ladder,
or anywhere aft, so that he might be within call.

"In truth, Mr Terence, I'm not fond of the looks Dan Hoolan casts at me
when I go forward," he said.  "I shouldn't be surprised on waking some
night to find him after cutting my throat or giving me a knock on the
head, for he knows that if it hadn't been for poor Ben and Tim Logan and
me, he would have tried to kill you, Mr Terence, that you might not
appear against him; but we fought as long as we could, till the French
lieutenant came on deck, and there was only myself remaining unhurt."

I felt very certain that what Larry said was true, and La Touche
afterwards corroborated the account.  How Larry had escaped seemed a
wonder, till I heard that he had seized a handspike, and using it as a
shillelah, or rather as a singlestick, had kept his enemies at bay, and
defended himself.  Whenever I saw Hoolan on deck, I observed that he
cast sinister looks at Larry and me, and I felt very sure that if he had
an opportunity he would carry out his threat of putting an end to us.
When I told La Touche of Larry's wish, and his reason for it, after
speaking to the lieutenant, he said it should be complied with.  At
meal-time the officers invited me into the cabin, and, to do them
justice, treated me with as much courtesy as if I had been a willing
guest.

"We have changed places, but we hope that you don't bear us any
ill-will," said La Touche, filling up my glass with claret.  "Here's to
your health, and may our friendship endure as long as our lives.  When
peace is established between our two countries which I suppose will be
some day or other, I shall be enchanted if you will pay me a visit at my
father's chateau in Normandy."

"With the greatest pleasure in the world," I answered; "though I confess
I didn't think you would play me so cruel a trick."  I didn't wish to
use a harsher expression.

"Believe me, monsieur, that it was from no design of mine.  I but
performed my duty.  Until the vessel was in the hands of the mutineers,
I was not aware myself of what was going to happen.  Monsieur Dubois
will corroborate what I state."

"La Touche speaks but the truth," said the lieutenant.  "He acted under
my orders, for, knowing his sense of honour, I didn't confide my plan to
him."

I was very glad to hear this, as I was much inclined to like La Touche,
and was grieved to suppose that I had been disappointed in him.

The weather, after the hurricane which had been the chief cause of my
misfortune, rapidly moderated, and became very fine; and though the wind
was generally light, the brig made good way to the south-westward.
During the day one of the Frenchmen, or La Touche himself, was
constantly at the masthead, on the look-out for vessels, either to avoid
suspicious strangers, or hoping to fall in with one of their cruisers.
The lieutenant had at first intended to steer for Havanna, on the
northern coast of Cuba; but just as we passed the latitude of Jamaica
the wind shifted to the westward, and he determined to run for
Port-au-Prince, at the westward end of Saint Domingo.  He didn't conceal
his intentions from me; indeed there was no object in his doing so.  He
asked me whether we were likely to fall in with English cruisers between
Jamaica and Cuba.  I told him what I believed to be the case, that they
would most probably be found on the south or west side of the island,
looking out for the French and Spanish fleets expected to be coming from
Havanna.

"I am surprised, indeed, that we have not fallen in with one of our
cruisers already," I said.

"There is a reason for that," he remarked.  "The hurricane, of which we
only felt the edge, will have driven them into port, or have sent them
ashore, or to the bottom.  I thought of that before I ventured here, and
calculated that it must have been some days before they could put to sea
again."

I believed that the lieutenant was right, and it lessened my hopes of
the brig being retaken; still I did not abandon them altogether, and the
thought contributed to keep up my spirits.

Supper over, after a few turns on deck I begged leave to turn in and
finish out the sleep which had been so disagreeably interrupted the
previous morning.  Both the officers begged I would return to the berth
I had previously occupied.  I thought it best to accept their courtesy.
When Larry saw me go below, he came down the companion ladder, and after
attending on me, as I told him he might do, he stowed himself away under
it.  When I awoke next morning, finding myself in my old berth, for a
few seconds I forgot all that had occurred, and fancied myself still in
command of the brig, but the reality soon came back to me.  With
anything but pleasant feelings I turned out, and having dressed, went on
deck.  Larry, who had slept undisturbed, followed me up.

"I'm after thinking, Mr Terence, that Dan was looking for me, but, as
good fortune would have it, I found an empty biscuit cask, so what did I
do but poke my head into it, and cover my neck up with a thick
handkerchief," said Larry, as he stood by my side.  "Thinks I to myself,
if Master Dan wants to be after giving me a whack on the skull, I shall
have had time to jump up before he has done for me; but the spalpeen did
not find me out, I've a notion, and I'll be on the watch for him if he
does, another night."

I found La Touche on deck, and we exchanged salutations.  The brig was
under all sail, standing to the eastward.  I cast my eye eagerly astern,
half hoping to see a British man-of-war in chase of us; but I found that
the Frenchmen were carrying all sail, as was but natural, to reach their
destination as fast as possible.  I could just distinguish to the
southward the distant mountains of Jamaica, rising like a blue irregular
line above the horizon.  Nothing could be more beautiful than the
weather.  The sky was bright; the ocean glittered in the rays of the
rising sun.

In spite of this, I could not keep my spirits up, and put away the
thoughts of the fate in store for me.  Instead of serving my country,
gaining honour and promotion, and passing my time in the society of
shipmates to whom I was much attached, I was doomed to be imprisoned in
some out-of-the-way part of Saint Domingo, or sent across the Atlantic
to be shut up in a French fortress, as I knew that other officers had
been.

Now that their hopes of escaping increased, the Frenchmen became still
more courteous, and did their best to make my stay on board pleasant.  I
should have been glad to have regained my liberty, but certainly should
have pitied them if we had been captured.

At length we made the west side of Saint Domingo, and, entering the Bay
of Gonavez, ran up to the harbour at its eastern extremity.  Here we
found a considerable number of men-of-war at anchor.  We were at once
visited by several officers, who seemed surprised to hear that we had
been at sea and escaped being wrecked, every ship in the harbour having
lost masts or spars, or received other serious damage.

Lieutenant Dubois had promised that he would keep us on board as long as
possible, as we should, on being landed, have been moved away into the
interior.  I was, of course, very glad to take advantage of his kind
offer.

We had not been long at anchor before an officer came off from the shore
with an official-looking packet.  I was in the cabin when he delivered
it to Lieutenant Dubois.

"The governor has heard of your arrival, and of the undamaged condition
of your vessel," said the officer.  "He is desirous of sending important
information to Admiral the Count de Grasse, who will probably be found
at the island of Guadaloupe, and he desires that you will sail
forthwith, and convey these despatches.  There is no vessel in harbour
fit to go, and he considers your arrival a fortunate circumstance."

Dubois at once expressed his satisfaction, and promised to sail without
a moment's delay.  I was afraid that he might consider it necessary to
send Larry and me on shore; but I thought it prudent to say nothing, and
continued seated as if I belonged to the vessel.  The French officer
from the shore made no remark, and having performed his commission,
speedily took his departure.

"All right," said Dubois to me; "I'm not compelled to land you, and if
you like we can continue our voyage together.  It will give you a better
chance of escape if the fortune of war should throw me into the hands of
one of your ships; but I have no intention of being caught if I can help
it."

I thanked him very much, and assured him that nothing would give me
greater pleasure than being once more able to play the host to him.

Before we sailed, however, six more hands, whom he had asked for, were
sent on board to strengthen his crew; but Hoolan and the other mutineers
were allowed to remain, for which I was sorry.  Perhaps they would
rather have gone on shore, for if the brig were recaptured, they would,
to a certainty, have to grace her yard-arms before many days had passed
over their heads.

We had to beat out of the harbour, but rounding Cape Tiburon we got a
fair wind, and stood away for Guadaloupe.

We had a long passage before us, and I was continually thinking of what
the fortune of war might bring about.  My fear was that we might fall in
with a French cruiser, to which Lieutenant Dubois might consider it his
duty to deliver up his despatches, that they might be conveyed more
speedily to their destination, and that we might have to return to Saint
Domingo.  Still I did my utmost to look at the bright side of the
picture; and I fancied how pleasant it would be to find the brig under
the guns of an English frigate,--perhaps the _Liffy_ herself.

I had another secret source of satisfaction: I had given my word to La
Touche simply not to interfere with the discipline of the ship, and I
had made myself answerable that Larry would not; although I had said
nothing about not attempting to make my escape, should an opportunity
occur, though that was very remote indeed.  In a French port it would be
useless, as I should only tumble out of the frying-pan into the fire, or
find myself among enemies.  I could not speak French well enough to pass
for a Frenchmen, and Larry's tongue would at once have betrayed him.
Still hope kept me up, although what to hope for was indistinct and
uncertain.

Larry, having somewhat got over his unpleasant suspicions of Hoolan's
intentions, was as merry as usual, and in the evening kept his fiddle
going, and the Frenchman and blacks dancing to their heart's content.
He, however, was disinclined to remain forward after dark, and came back
to his hiding-place under the companion ladder, where he was allowed to
sleep under the supposition that he was there to attend on me.

I should have said that when the officer from the shore had delivered
his despatches to Lieutenant Dubois, the latter, instead of locking them
up in his own berth, put them into a drawer in the cabin table.  Of
their contents I, of course, was kept in ignorance,--indeed, I was not
certain that Lieutenant Dubois himself knew their purport.

I do not even now like to speak of the thoughts which passed through my
mind about these despatches.  I was greatly troubled by them.  Sometimes
the idea occurred to me that when no one was in the cabin, I might throw
them out of the stern port, and take the consequences of my act; but
then I should be making an ungrateful return to the young French
officers who had treated me so courteously.  I dreaded to commit an act
which might be dishonourable; at the same time, it was evident that by
destroying the despatches I should be benefiting my country.  From the
eagerness which the officer who brought the packet had shown to get it
off, I was convinced that it was of great importance, and that perhaps
the fate of some of our islands might depend on its delivery.  I was
surprised at Dubois' carelessness at leaving it exposed, though less at
La Touche, who, though a good-natured fellow, was harum-scarum and
thoughtless in the extreme.  Perhaps he might have returned me the
compliment.

The wind was light; and there seemed every probability that we should
make a long passage.  So much the better, I thought.  While we were at
sea I was in good spirits, for I knew that there was a good chance of
the brig being recaptured.  Larry kept the crew alive with his fiddle
forward, and even Dan Hoolan looked somewhat less surly than usual; at
the same time Larry kept out of his way, and never trusted himself at
night on deck when I was not there.  Whether he was right in his
suspicions or not was uncertain, but at all events Hoolan was a ruffian,
and a traitor to his country.

I treated Larry as, of course, an officer does not usually treat an
ordinary seaman.  He was one night walking the deck with me, and we were
talking of Ballinahone and our early days, when he suddenly said,
"Shure, Mr Terence, there's something on your mind.  I've thought so
more than once.  Just say now what it is."

"You are clever, Larry, to find that out," I answered.  "It's your love
for me enables you to do it.  It's nothing you would think much about.
I'm troubled with the thoughts that we are carrying despatches to the
French admiral, which, if delivered, may cause some serious injury to
our country.  They are kept in the drawer of the cabin table, and I
might at any moment throw them overboard, and defeat the Frenchmen's
object."

The moment I said this I regretted it, as it struck me that it was like
instigating Larry to do what I would not do myself.  The effect on him
was what I supposed my words would produce, for he at once replied,
"Thin, shure, overboard they go before the world's many hours older."

"No, no, Larry! you mistake me," I exclaimed.  "That's just what I don't
want you to do.  If it has to be done, I'll do it myself, and I forbid
you to touch the packet I insist on your promising me that you will
not."

Very unwillingly Larry gave the promise, and I knew that I could trust
him.  I then let the subject drop, regretting that I had broached it to
my faithful follower.

"If the Frenchman choose to hang me, I will not bring the same fate on
him," I thought.



CHAPTER FIFTEEN.

LIFFY AHOY!

Day after day went by.  Though we occasionally saw a sail, we kept out
of her way.

At length, one morning the look-out shouted, "A sail on the starboard
quarter!"

We were just then setting royals, which we did not carry at night.  We
watched the stranger.  "She has borne up in chase," cried La Touche, who
had gone aloft.

Dubois immediately ordered the brig to be kept before the wind, and
studding-sails to be set on either side.  The wind freshened, and away
we flew before it.  The brig being lightly laden, it was her best point
of sailing, as I had observed.  It took us out of our course, however.
I sincerely hoped that the wind would increase, and that it should carry
away some of our spars, and thus enable our pursuer to come up with us,
for I took it for granted that she was English.  The Frenchmen watched
her eagerly, for we could see her topsails from the deck.

"Do you think we shall get away from her?"  I asked La Touche in an
indifferent tone, as if it were a matter of no consequence to me.

"I hope so," he replied.  "This brig is a regular little fly-away, and
your frigates are not generally fast sailers."

"But why do you think she is one of our frigates?"  I asked.  "She may
be French after all, and you may be running away from a friend."

"I think she is English, because none of our cruisers are likely to be
hereabouts at present," he answered; and then, as if he had said
something without thought, correcting himself, he added, "Of course she
may be French; but we think it safest to keep out of the way of all
men-of-war."

The topsails of the stranger rose gradually above the horizon; she was
evidently a large vessel--a frigate, if not a line-of-battle ship.  The
little brig flew on gaily, as if feeling as eager to get away as were
those on board.

"Ah, my friend! a stern chase is a long chase," observed Dubois, who saw
me watching the stranger.  "You are not going to rejoin your ship just
yet."

"I have made up my mind to be content with whatever happens," I said.

"You are wise," answered Dubois.  "It is the best thing under all
circumstances."

Still I did not despair of being overtaken.  Perhaps she might be the
_Liffy_ herself, which had gone back to Jamaica, and was now returning
to the south.  We had a brisk breeze, though it did not increase, and
the brig continued running on at her utmost speed.  When I looked again,
some time afterwards, it did not appear to me that the stranger had
gained on us.  The hours passed slowly on; evening, however, at length
approached, and I was afraid that during the night Dubois would alter
the brig's course, and that we should manage to escape.  When I went
below for our meals, I endeavoured to maintain as calm a countenance as
I could, and to appear as cheerful as usual.

"You are a brave _garcon_," said Dubois, as we sat at supper.  "We
should be very sorry to lose your society, and I'll endeavour to keep
you on board as long as I can."

I thanked him, and said that I hoped to have the satisfaction of
returning his courtesy, should the tables once more be turned.  At last
darkness came on, and our pursuer was lost to sight.  As it was useless
to remain on deck, I turned in, and Larry as usual followed me below.
Whether it was from the excitement I had gone through, or from having
remained on deck all day, I cannot say; but I fell asleep immediately my
head touched the pillow, and slept as soundly as a top.  When I awoke, I
saw by the dim light coming through the bull's-eye that the day had
broken, and I hurried on deck, anxious to know if our pursuer was still
in sight Dubois and La Touche were there.  I saluted them as usual.
They did not appear quite as cheerful as they did on the previous day.
The brig was still before the wind, with every stitch of canvas she
could carry set.  On looking astern, there was our pursuer, though hull
down, but considerably nearer than before.

"Do not be too sanguine that she will come up with us.  When the breeze
freshens, we shall again get away from her," said Dubois.

"It is of course what you wish, monsieur," I observed.

"I've been after dreaming, Mr Terence, that that craft is the _Liffy_,
and that we were again on board her, as merry as crickets," said Larry,
coming to my side.

"But dreams, they say, go by contraries," I answered.  "It would have
been better not to have dreamed that."

"Shure, thin, I wish that I had dreamed that we had run her out of
sight," he answered.

Soon after the wind got up, and was soon blowing as freshly as on the
day before.  The Frenchmen's spirits once more rose.  Larry's and mine
fell.  The big ship, however, continued about the same distance off; but
as long as she did not gain on us, our captors did not mind.  At length
it seemed to me that we were actually drawing ahead.  Perhaps we might
be leading our pursuer further out of her course than she wished to go,
and she would give up the chase.  The Frenchmen, from their remarks,
seemed to think so.

Mid-day arrived; an observation was taken.  I found that we were in the
latitude of the Virgin Islands, still a long way from Guadaloupe.  When
once among the islands, we should very easily escape during the night.
Dubois and La Touche were congratulating themselves, when the look-out
aloft shouted, "Several sail in sight to the south-east!"

La Touche, immediately on hearing this, went to the masthead.  I should
have liked to have followed him, eager to know what they were.  He said
nothing till he came down.  I then saw by the way he spoke to Dubois
that he considered them to be enemies.  After a short consultation the
helm was put to starboard, and the brig headed more to the north; the
yards were braced up, though the studding-sails were still set.  In my
eagerness to ascertain what the strangers were, I sprang aloft without
waiting to ask leave of Dubois.  He did not, however, call me down.  As
I got to the topgallant masthead I looked eagerly to the southward, and
I made out what I took to be a large fleet standing to the eastward,
while here and there ships were scattered about, which I took to be
frigates.  I had no doubt that Dubois concluded they were English, and
had therefore no wish to run in among them.  We had heard before we left
Jamaica that Sir George Rodney was expected out to join Sir Samuel Hood,
and I had little doubt but that the fleet in sight was that of either
the one or the other of those admirals.  Whether the brig would escape
them or not was doubtful, and I expected every instant to see either a
frigate or corvette coming in chase of us.  Our other pursuer could not
have seen the ships visible from our masthead, and would therefore not
understand the reason for our change of course.  Had it been earlier in
the day, our capture by either one or the other would have been certain;
but Dubois might now manage, by good seamanship, to slip between the
two.  The wind increased, and our starboard studding-sails were taken
in; we carried those on our larboard side to the last.  Having satisfied
myself, I returned on deck.

"Do you know what those ships are away to the southward?" asked Dubois.

"Yes, monsieur, I believe them to be English," I answered.  "And you
expect them to catch us, do you?" he said.

"That depends on circumstances," I replied; "but I know your
determination, and believe that you will make every effort to escape."

"You may be sure of that," he said, laughing.  "See how I'm carrying on.
Many would have shortened sail before this."

I made no reply, but looked aloft.  The brig was literally tearing
through the water; the breeze was increasing; the sails were bulging
out, every rope stretched out to its utmost tension; the studding-sails
pulled and tugged as if eager to fly away.  Presently there came a loud
crack, and both studding-sail booms broke off close to the irons.  The
men attempted to get in the fluttering canvas.

"Cut! cut!" cried Dubois.  "Let them go!"

The wind shifted a point or two, and we had to haul still more up.  As I
had been unable lately to look at the chart, I could not make out
exactly for what place we were steering, but I could distinguish several
blue hillocks rising out of the ocean, which I knew must be small
islands, either the Virgin Islands or others in their neighbourhood.  We
were now steering due north.  I again went aloft.  The main body of the
fleet was no longer in sight, but three or four white sails could be
seen shining brightly in the rays of the setting sun far away astern,
while our pursuer could still be distinguished over our larboard
quarter, yet apparently no nearer than before.  On returning on deck
Dubois looked at me with a smile of satisfaction.

"We are not caught yet," he said.  "But bear it patiently, my young
friend.  We all have our trials."

I made no reply, but walked to the other side of the deck.  It was again
night; the steward came and invited me down to supper, in which I joined
Dubois, while La Touche remained on deck.  He did not think fit to tell
me what were his intentions, and though I should have liked to have
known, I did not ask him.  At last I turned in, and tried to go to
sleep.  I should not have minded hearing the brig go crash on shore, so
vexed did I feel at the idea of her having escaped.  Still I could not
but admire the determination of the two young French officers, and again
better feelings rose in my breast.  At length I fell fast asleep.  As I
had no watch to keep, I slept on, as usual, until daylight streamed in
through the bull's-eye over my head, when, to my surprise, I heard the
sound of the cable slipping out, and knew that the brig had come to an
anchor.  I dressed as speedily as I could, and went on deck.  We were in
a fine harbour with numerous vessels of all sizes and nations--Spanish,
French, Dutch, and Danish (the latter predominating)--floating on its
bosom, and among them a frigate, with the colours of England flying at
her peak.  I knew, therefore, that we were in a neutral port, for which
Dubois had steered when he found he could not otherwise escape.  On
examining the frigate more narrowly, my heart gave a bound, for I felt
almost sure that she was the _Liffy_, but as several vessels were
between us I could not make her out very clearly.

Dubois, who had probably been on deck most of the night, had gone below;
and La Touche was engaged in issuing his orders to the crew.  I took
care to conceal my feelings, and on speaking to Larry I found he had not
suspected that the frigate was the _Liffy_.  Still he might do so, and I
told him that I believed her to be our ship, charging him on no account
to exhibit his feelings.

"Shure, Mr Terence, that's a hard matter," he exclaimed.  "I half feel
inclined to leap out of my skin and get aboard her."

"We must try to do that by some means or other," I said; "but how to
accomplish it is the question.  Even if Captain Macnamara knew that we
were on board this brig, he could not come and take us by force."

"Why not, Mr Terence?" exclaimed Larry in surprise.  "Shure if I see
one of our boats pulling by, I'll be after shouting at the top of my
voice, to tell them we're here, and to axe them to come and take us off.
Our captain's not the man to desert us, nor Mr Saunders either; and as
soon as they know that we're prisoners, they'll be after sending a
couple of boats to release us; or maybe they'll bring the frigate round,
and blaze away at the brig till they sink her."

"That would be an unpleasant way of proceeding for us, at all events," I
answered, laughing.  "The reason they can't take us by force is, that
this is a neutral port, and all vessels in here must keep the peace
towards each other; so that if Monsieur Dubois refuses to give us up,
our captain can't compel him.  We must therefore manage to get away by
ourselves if we are to be free."

"Thin, Mr Terence, that's just what we will be after doing," said
Larry, taking off his hat and scratching his head while he considered
how the undertaking could be accomplished.  "Couldn't we just slip
overboard at night and swim to the frigate?  It wouldn't be further than
I have swum many a time in the Shannon."

"But the Shannon and this place are very different," I answered.  "Jack
Shark keeps as sharp a look-out here as he does in Port Royal harbour;
and we may chance to have our legs nipped off before we can get up the
side of the frigate."

"Shure, Mr Terence, thin I never thought of that," said Larry; "but
maybe the officers will go on shore, and they don't keep very strict
watch aboard here, so I might just manage to slip a grating and a spar
or two over the side, to make a raft; then we might paddle on it to the
frigate."

"I don't see any better plan than you propose," I answered; "though I
would risk a swim and the chances of encountering a shark rather than
not make the attempt to escape; for, even supposing the frigate on the
other side of those merchantmen should not prove to be the _Liffy_, we
should be welcome on board.  It is of the greatest importance that the
captain should know of the despatches the brig is carrying to
Guadaloupe, so that a watch may be kept on her movements, and that she
may be pursued and captured outside the harbour."

"Thin, Mr Terence, let me go alone; I'd have no difficulty in slipping
overboard, and there's less chance of my being missed," said Larry.
"When her captain knows that you're aboard the brig, he'll be after her
in a jiffy."

"No, no, Larry; I can never let you go alone.  Whatever we do, we'll do
together."

"That's like you, Mr Terence.  Just trust to me, thin; only do you be
ready for a start directly it's dark, and I'll be keeping a look-out on
deck for the chance of one of the _Liffy's_ boats coming near, to let
them know that we're aboard."

Tantalising as it was to see the ship, as I supposed, to which I
belonged within a short distance of me, and yet not be able to
communicate with her, I felt that I could do nothing for the present,
and that it was prudent not to be seen talking too much with Larry.  I
therefore told him to keep away from me during the day, unless he had
something particular to say, while I went below again, to finish my
toilet and wait for breakfast.

La Touche had been too busy to speak to me, and Dubois was still asleep.
I remained in my berth until the steward announced that breakfast was
ready, when I met the two officers, who had just come below.  They
politely invited me to take a seat at the table.

"Well, you see, we have managed to escape your cruisers," said Dubois,
as he poured me out a cup of coffee.  "We have reason to congratulate
ourselves, as we were very hard pressed."

"I must compliment you, monsieur, on your skilful seamanship," I said.
"I do so with sincerity, although I should have been very glad had you
been caught.  However, I am prepared to bear my disappointment
philosophically.  We have not yet reached Guadaloupe, and I don't
despair of regaining my liberty, though I conclude you'll not consider
yourself justified in letting me leave the brig?"

"For your sake I wish that we could," said La Touche; "but you are known
to be on board, and we should have to account for you; so I'm afraid you
must exercise the philosophy you speak of."  Imitating the Frenchman, I
shrugged my shoulders, as if I was perfectly resigned to my fate.  I
made no remark about the English frigate in the harbour, as the
Frenchmen didn't allude to her, though they could not have supposed that
I was ignorant of her being there.

I saw that the brig was riding at single anchor and hove short, and I
expected that Dubois was waiting for an opportunity of slipping out of
the harbour before the frigate was prepared to follow him.  That she
would do so, should the brig be discovered to be an English vessel, a
prize to the French, there could be no doubt, unless detained by some
matter of more importance.

After breakfast we walked the deck for some time, and then Dubois
ordered La Touche to take a boat and pull round the harbour.

"See as you pass yonder frigate there, how she's riding," he said;
"whether she appears to be ready to put to sea, and learn, if you can
ascertain, what brought her in here.  I wouldn't have come in had I
known that we should have found so unpleasant a neighbour."

"Do you know what frigate she is?" he asked, turning to me.

"As I can't see her hull clearly, were I perfectly acquainted with her I
should be unable to answer your questions, monsieur," I replied.

"Well, then, favour me by going aloft with my telescope, and you'll
then, by looking down on her deck, be able to tell me whether you
recognise any of those on board, or have to your knowledge seen the
frigate before."

From his manner I believed he had not an idea that I suspected the
frigate to be the _Liffy_.

I willingly agreed; and, taking the glass, went aloft.  All my doubts
were at an end.  I at once made out Captain Macnamara walking the
starboard side of the quarter-deck with Mr Saunders.  On the opposite
side, I distinguished several of my messmates by their figures.  Some of
the men were forward, but the greater number were below, and I could see
no signs of any intentions of getting under way.  I waited a
considerable time, and heartily I wished for a pair of wings, that I
might fly over the masts of the other vessels, and pitch down on her
deck.  No sight could have been more tantalising.  I descended at last,
and returning the telescope to Dubois, said--

"I confess frankly that I know the frigate.  She is the one to which I
belong."

"Is she a fast vessel?" inquired Dubois.

"She is considered so, monsieur," I answered.

"Faster than this brig?" he asked.

"Certainly, unless in a very light wind," I said.  "If you expect to be
chased, you have very little chance of escape from her, I should think."

"I must hope for the best," he said.  "There's a fine breeze out of the
harbour, and we may be off again before the frigate finds we are moving.
We have the advantage of being concealed from her sight, and she dare
not fire a gun or send a boat after us, even should she wish it, till
we're three leagues outside the harbour."

Dubois spoke in a confident tone, as if he did not think that there was
the slightest chance I should even try to make my escape.  I was
dreading all the time that he would ask me to give my word not to do so.
He didn't, however, appear to think of that.  In a short time La Touche
came back, and reported, as I knew he would, that the frigate didn't
appear to be preparing to sail.  Scarcely had he come on board than the
wind began to drop, till it became a stark calm.  I saw the officers
exchange looks with each other as they observed the dog vane hanging
right up and down.  It was very certain that we could not move, for we
had not boats sufficient to tow the brig out of the harbour.  There was
every prospect of the calm continuing for many hours.  The Frenchmen, by
the way they paced the deck, showed their vexation, every now and then
giving an impatient stamp with their feet.

At last La Touche stopped and said--

"Wouldn't it be well to go on shore and try and pick up some news?  We
may gain intelligence which may be of importance; at all events, we
shall pass the time more pleasantly than on board."

"A good idea," answered Dubois.  "We will go.  You'll be content to
remain on board?" he added, turning to me.  "It might be inconvenient to
take you with us, as we might meet some of your brother officers; but I
brought a few books of light literature in my portmanteau, besides my
nautical almanack, and you can read them while we're on shore."

I thanked him, and was very glad to find that he didn't wish me to go;
as, although by landing I might have a chance of making my escape, I
would not do so without Larry.

They did not wait for dinner; but telling the steward to bring me mine
at the usual hour, pulled away in one of the boats, leaving the brig
under the charge of a quartermaster, who had come on board at Gonavez
Bay.  He was a sharp-eyed old fellow, and had evidently been directed to
keep a watch on Larry and me.  Several shore-boats came alongside, but
after some fresh provisions had been purchased, the others were ordered
to keep off.

Soon after the officers had gone Larry came up to me.

"Hwist, Mr Terence," he said in a low voice.  "Dan Hoolan and the other
boys know that the frigate out there is the _Liffy_, and I heard Dan say
to one of them that they must take care we don't get away to her, for
he's afraid, if we do, that Captain Macnamara, when he hears of the
mutiny, will consider that he has a right to retake the brig, and that
they'll all be triced up to the yard-arm before many hours are over
afterwards."

"We must try, then, to throw them off their guard, Larry," I said.
"Have you thought of any other plan for escaping?"

"Not just yet, Mr Terence; but I'm still hoping that something will
turn up.  I'll tell you all about it presently; but I mustn't stop long
aft, for I have a notion that Dan and the rest have got something into
their heads, and that they won't be stopping aboard if they can help it,
to run the risk of hanging."

Larry again went forward, and I returned to the cabin.  I cannot say
that the books Dubois left me were edifying; and after I had turned over
a few pages, I threw them aside as abominable trash, not fit for any
gentleman's eyes to rest on.  They were such works as contributed to
prepare the way for the French Revolution.  The steward brought me an
excellent dinner, and placed a bottle of claret on the table, of which,
however, I partook very moderately.  I passed the afternoon as best I
could, now and then going on deck to have the pleasure of taking a look
at the _Liffy_, and hoping to see one of her boats passing.  I
determined, should one pull by, to hail her and say who I was; for I was
afraid that Nettleship might suppose the brig had been lost, and that
the report of my death might, by ill-luck, reach Ballinahone.  I
watched, however, in vain.  As evening approached I expected that Dubois
and La Touche would return.  Something kept them on shore; probably,
finding the calm continue, they were carrying out their intentions of
amusing themselves.  At last darkness came on, and I went back into the
cabin.  I should have said that the brig carried a small boat hoisted up
astern, but which was in a dilapidated condition, and considered not fit
to put into the water.  As we had no carpenter on board able to repair
her, she was allowed to remain hoisted up.  I had been in the cabin some
time, and I believe I must have dropped off into a doze, when I heard a
sound of blocks creaking, and presently there was a splash in the water.
Springing up, I looked out of one of the stern ports, which was open,
and could distinguish a boat just below me with a man in her, moving
round the quarter.  At first I thought he was Larry, and then I felt
sure that Larry would not have taken a boat without first giving me
notice of his intentions.  In less than a minute afterwards, however, he
poked his head into the cabin.

"Hwist, Mr Terence, it's just as I thought it would be," he whispered.
"Dan Hoolan and the rest are going to pull on shore.  They have made the
watch below drunk, and they have seized the anchor watch and put them in
limbo.  They fancy that if they can get away up the country, they'll be
safe, and I have a mind to go with them and pull the boat back, and take
you off.  Keep a look-out of the cabin window, Mr Terence; maybe I'll
come under the counter, and you can squeeze through the port without
anybody on deck finding us out.  Now I'm off."

Larry hurried out of the cabin, leaving me in a state of anxious doubt
as to whether he would succeed.  I was afraid of going on deck lest I
should be seen by the mutineers, and I at once therefore went to the
port, hoping that I might catch a glimpse of them pulling away.  Even if
Larry got off with them, there might be many chances against his
returning.  The boat even might fill before she could reach the shore,
or she might encounter the French officers returning to the brig, and be
seized.  I wondered at their carelessness in leaving the vessel with
such a crew as theirs; for those who had proved traitors to me might
have been expected to turn traitors to them.

Scarcely a minute had elapsed before, to my surprise, I heard a "hwist"
come from under the counter, and Larry's voice saying--

"Lend a hand, Mr Terence, and catch the painter as I chuck it up."

I did as he desired, and presently he climbed up in at the port.

"Hold fast there, Mr Terence," he said, as he squeezed through, and
springing forward locked the cabin door.  "I'll tell you all about it
when we're free of the brig," he whispered.

Quick as thought he made the painter fast to an eye-bolt, used to secure
the dead-light.  "Now jump into the boat, Mr Terence, and we'll be
off," he added.

As he bid me, I slid down the painter, expecting him to follow
immediately.  For a few seconds he didn't come, and I feared that
something had happened to him; but he soon appeared, and slid down as I
had done, holding in his mouth a knife, with which he quickly cut the
rope.

I had taken one of the oars, he seized another, and giving a shove
against the counter, sent the boat off from the brig.  We paddled away
with might and main, making, however, as little noise as we could.
Scarcely, however, had we gone half a cable's length than I heard a
gruff voice, which I recognised as Dan Hoolan's, uttering a fearful
oath, and inquiring what had become of the boat.  Several others replied
in the same tones; and one of them, who had apparently run aft,
exclaimed, "Shure there she is, and that so-and-so Larry Harrigan has
gone off with her."

"Come back, come back, you villain!" shouted the men.

"It's mighty likely we'll be after doing that," Larry was on the point
of shouting out, when I told him to be silent; and there being now less
necessity for caution, we bent to our oars with all our might.

"I wonder the villains don't fire at us," I said.

"Shure the cabin door's locked, and they can't get at the muskets, or
they would be after doing the same," answered Larry.

We had ample reason to pull hard, for the water was leaking in through
every seam in the boat; but I hoped that she might keep afloat long
enough to enable us to reach the side of the frigate.  Hoolan and his
companions, finding that it was of no use, had ceased hailing us.  We
had gone a short way when I saw a boat coming off from the shore.  "A
hundred to one the French officers are in her," I thought; "and if they
have heard the shouting from the brig, they will fancy that something
has happened, and be on the look-out.  However, we are in for it."  We
were at first pulling ahead of the vessels which were at anchor between
us and the frigate; but, on seeing the boat, I told Larry we would pass
under the stern of the one nearest us, and thread our way in and out
among them, so that we might be concealed from the sight of those coming
off from the shore, in case they should make chase after us.  In a short
time, however, the boat was half full of water.

"We must get this out, or we shall be sinking," I said.

There was no bailer; but I had seized my hat before I had got out of the
cabin window, and putting in our oars we bailed away as hard as we
could.  We had succeeded in partly freeing the boat of water, when we
heard the splash of oars coming from the direction of the brig.  Once
more we gave way, the water still coming in.  I very much doubted that
we should reach the frigate without having again to stop.  The boat,
however, was gaining on us.  Should she come up before we could get
under our own flag, we might lawfully be recaptured; the water was
already up to the thwarts, and the boat pulled heavily; our pursuers
were getting closer and closer.  We were nearing the frigate.

I looked round.  I saw her high sides and tall masts against the sky.

I shouted at the top of my voice, "_Liffy_ ahoy! help, help here!"

Larry shouted still louder, for he had a voice of his own when he tried
to exert it.  The boat pulled more heavily than ever.  If it had not
been for the dread of the sharks, I should have jumped overboard and
tried to swim to the frigate.  Still we made her move.  I can't say what
a leap my heart gave as we ran up against her side.  Some ropes were
hove to us, for our shouts had attracted attention, and, swirming up
them, we each reached a port in time to see our boat's gunwale flush
with the water, and our pursuers turning round to pull away.  As we got
on deck the quartermaster brought a lantern, which he held so as to
throw a light on our faces, and at the same time a midshipman ran up.

"Who have we here?" he exclaimed, and I recognised Chaffey's voice.
"What!  Paddy Finn, my boy, where in the world have you come from?"

"From a brig--a prize to the French," I answered.  "But I say, Chaffey,
I want to see the captain at once.  If there comes a breeze she'll be
slipping out of the harbour, and we must be ready to go after her."

"Why, we thought you were on board the _Soleil_, and expected she would
be put into commission, and be sent out to rejoin us, as we want small
craft to watch the movements of the French."

I briefly told him what had happened.  He in return told me what I was
sorry to hear, that nothing had been heard of the _Soleil_, though the
idea was that she had got safely into Port Royal harbour.

"The captain doesn't like to be roused up; but I suppose as your
information is of importance, he won't give me a wigging for disturbing
him," he said, as we reached the cabin door.  Mentioning his object, the
sentry stationed there allowed him to pass, and I stood for a time
outside, trying to squeeze the water out of my nether garments.  I had
formed a little pool round my feet by the time Chaffey returned.

"You're to go into the captain, Paddy," he said.  "He fired off his
great guns and small arms at me, so he'll receive you pleasantly, I
hope."

Giving a final wring to my coat tails, I made my way to the after cabin.
The captain, with night-cap on head, had just got into his breeches.

"Glad to see you safe on board, Finnahan," he said.  "Now give me the
information you have brought.  I'll hear about your adventures
afterwards."

"I have just escaped from a brig, sir, that is carrying despatches to
the French admiral at Guadaloupe, and as she may at any moment slip out
of the harbour, I thought you would like to know of it, that you may
follow and capture her as soon as she gets to a sufficient distance from
this place."

"How do you know she has despatches?" he asked.

"I heard the French officer who came on board tell the lieutenant in
command of the brig what they were, and I saw them in the drawer of the
cabin table.  I supposed that the lieutenant put them there that they
might be handy to throw overboard, should he find at any time that the
brig was likely to be recaptured."

"Then why didn't you bring them away with you?" asked the captain.  "You
made your own escape--you might easily, I should have thought, have got
hold of them."

"I felt in honour bound not to do so, sir.  I was trusted on board; but
as I had not given my word not to escape, I felt justified in getting
away when the opportunity offered."

"I consider you acted rightly," said the captain.  "A man cannot have
too nice a sense of honour; at the same time I believe you would have
gained great credit if you had brought them off.  Much may depend on our
getting hold of them.  However, we must do our best to capture the brig,
and prevent her delivering them to the French admiral.  You deserve
credit as it is for making your escape, and I'm glad you got off without
breaking your parole.  I should have regretted to find that you had done
that.  Now call Mr Saunders, and--hillo! my lad, you're dripping wet!
Go and shift into dry clothes, or rather, if you're not wanted, turn
into your hammock and get some sleep.  You have not had much of that
to-night, I conclude."

Getting a lantern from the sentry, I at once repaired to old
"Rough-and-Ready's" cabin.

"Mr Saunders," I shouted, "the captain wants to see you."  He jumped up
in a moment wide awake--a good first lieutenant always sleeps with one
eye open.

"Why, where do you come from, youngster?" he asked, as, throwing his
night-cap on the pillow, he rapidly slipped into his clothes.

I very briefly told him while he finished dressing, which took him
scarcely a minute, and he then hastened to the captain's cabin, while I
gladly went below and had my marine roused up to get me out some dry
clothes from my chest and to sling my hammock.  I inquired for Larry,
who I found had gone forward.  In a short time he came aft, having also
got into dry clothes.

"Mighty glad we've got away from the brig, Mr Terence," he said; "but
still I'm as sorrowful as a pig in a gale of wind.  The first thing the
men axed me for was my fiddle, and bedad I left it aboard the brig; so
if she gets away I'll never be after seeing it again."

"We must hope to take her," I said.  "Depend on it the captain will keep
a look-out on her movements, and we shall then recover your fiddle,
though I'm afraid we shall not get hold of the despatches."

"Is it them bundle of papers in the drawer you're speaking of?" asked
Larry.  "I was after thinking it would be as well to bring them away, in
case the captain should like to have a look at them, so I just put them
in my shirt before I slipped out of the cabin window.  I hope I won't be
called a thief for taking them.  Here they are, Mr Terence;" and he
handed me the packet which I had seen in the drawer.

I hurried aft with it to the captain.  I found him and the first
lieutenant in the cabin.

"Why, what's this?" exclaimed the captain, as I gave him the packet.

I told him that I believed it contained the despatches sent from
Port-au-Prince; and that my companion, Larry Harrigan, unknown to me,
had brought them away.

"What! and you gave him a hint to do so?" said the captain.

"No, indeed I didn't, sir," I answered firmly, though I blushed as I
then explained, that although I had spoken to Larry about them, it was
with no intention of inducing him to do what I was unwilling to do
myself.  "I had told him of them, sir," I said; "but I give you my word
of honour that I had no thought at the time of his getting hold of them.
I did meditate, I confess, throwing them overboard; but under the
circumstances I came to the conclusion that I had no right to do that,
independent of the risk of being severely dealt with by the Frenchmen,
should my act be discovered."

"Well, well, I believe you, Finnahan," said the captain in a kind tone.
"We have got them, and we must take them at once to Sir Samuel Hood.  We
need care very little about the brig now."



CHAPTER SIXTEEN.

OLD FRIENDS.

"Hadn't you better, sir, see what they contain?" observed Mr Saunders.
"It's just possible, too, that the commander of the brig knows their
contents, and will communicate it verbally to the French admiral, or
perhaps he may have duplicates on board."

"I don't think he has that, sir," I remarked.  "I saw the packet
delivered to the French lieutenant, and he certainly did not open it,
though I can't say whether he knows the purport of the despatches."

"It's likely enough that he does, though; and at all events we must
prevent him, if we can, from communicating with his admiral," said
Captain Macnamara.  "When he finds that you have made your escape, he'll
be eager to be off, and still more so if he discovers that the
despatches are missing.  Send a boat, Mr Saunders, at once to watch the
movements of the brig.  Heave the cable short, and be ready to sail the
moment we get a breeze."

Mr Saunders left the cabin to carry out the orders he had received.  I
hadn't yet told the captain of the way the brig was taken from me, and
of the mutiny.  I now, by his desire, gave him a detailed account of the
circumstances.

"There's no blame attached to you, Finnahan," he said; "though as far as
I can make out, the French officers didn't behave in an honourable way,
and I hope those mutinous scoundrels will get their deserts before long.
I'm sorry they are our countrymen, but I can show them no favour on
that account.  If we take the brig, every one of them will be hanged."

"I rather think, sir, that the French officers will have saved us the
trouble; for when they get on board and find what Hoolan and his mates
have been about, they won't be inclined to treat them leniently."

"I wish that we had left them ashore at Cork," observed the captain.
"We should have been better without such scoundrels.  Now, with regard
to these despatches.  I don't understand a word of French, nor does the
first lieutenant, nor any other officer in the ship except yourself,
Finnahan; still it may be necessary to act immediately on them.  I'll
open them, and you must translate their contents."

I would thankfully have excused myself; for though I could jabber French
pretty glibly, I was very little accustomed to write or translate it.
The captain got out pens and paper from his desk and, telling me to sit
down, opened the packet, and put it into my hands.  The hand-writing
greatly puzzled me, for it was not a style to which I was accustomed.  I
spelt out the words, however, as well as I could, and tried to get at
the sense.  It contained an account of the intended sailing of the
Marquis de Boullie with four thousand troops for the relief of
Guadaloupe, which was at that time being attacked by the English under
General Prescott.  There were also various directions for the guidance
of the French forces in those seas; but the most important was a plan
for the concentration of the fleet, carrying a large body of soldiers,
so that they might pounce down on Jamaica while the English squadrons
were being led away in opposite directions.  It was some time before I
arrived at the gist of the matter.

"This is important," exclaimed the captain.  "You would have rendered
essential service to the country by bringing these on board, and I must
see that Harrigan is rewarded; while the part you have played must not
be forgotten, as, though your sense of honour prevented you from taking
the packet, it is owing to your courage and determination that we have
obtained it.  However, we will talk of that by and by.  We must look
out, in the meantime, that the brig doesn't escape us; for though I have
got the information to put Sir Samuel Hood on his guard, the French may
obtain it also, and act accordingly."

While we were speaking, Mr Saunders came in to say the boat was ready,
and the cable hove short; but that, as it was still a stark calm, there
was no chance at present of the brig getting under weigh.

"You must go in the boat, Finnahan, and make sure that we watch the
right brig.  As we can't see her from the ship, we may be following the
wrong vessel," said the captain.

Though I would much rather have turned in and gone to sleep, I of course
obeyed orders.

Mr Harvey, the third lieutenant, was in charge of the boat, and as I
stepped into her, I found that Larry Harrigan formed one of the crew.
They pulled away under my directions, and soon gained sight of the brig.

"It's mighty hard that we can't jump aboard and take her," I heard Larry
say to the stroke oar, behind whom he was sitting.  "I'd be after
getting back my fiddle, at all events, if we could."

"It's agen' the law of nations," answered the man; "though I should like
to punish the rascal Hoolan for murdering poor Ben Nash and Tim Logan."

"Silence, men," said Mr Harvey; "we must not let the people on board
the brig find out that we are watching them.  They'll probably take us
for a guard-boat, but if they hear our English voices, they'll know who
we are."

We kept under the shade of one of the neighbouring vessels.  All was
quiet on board the brig.  There were no signs of her being about to trip
her anchor.  I wondered whether Dubois had put Hoolan and the rest in
irons when he discovered how they had behaved.  I could scarcely suppose
that they would have contrived to seize him and his boat's crew when
they returned on board; yet such was possible, and would have been
retributive justice on him for having taken the brig from us.  Still I
should have been very sorry indeed to hear that he and La Touche had met
with any injury.

We waited and waited, till it appeared that we were not likely to wait
to any purpose.

At last Larry, who seemed to have forgotten the order he had received to
keep silence, suddenly exclaimed--

"Couldn't we go aboard just to axe the Frenchmen to give me back my
fiddle.  That wouldn't be agen' the law of nations, would it, Mr
Terence?"

"Silence there," said Mr Harvey, scarcely able to restrain his
laughter.  "I ordered you men not to speak."

"Shure I forgot the same," said Larry in a suppressed tone.  "Och! my
fiddle, my fiddle! what will I be after doing without it!"

At length daylight dawned; and according to the orders Mr Harvey had
received, we returned on board.  As the sun rose, a light breeze began
to play over the surface of the harbour.  A look-out was sent aloft to
keep watch on the brig, while every preparation was made for heaving up
the anchor and making sail, should she be seen to get under weigh.

Dubois, knowing that Larry and I had gone aboard the frigate, must have
been aware that the captain was acquainted with the character of his
vessel, and also that she was carrying despatches.  He would certainly,
I thought, suppose that we should follow him, should he put to sea.  I
therefore scarcely fancied that he would venture out of the harbour
during daylight, but fully expected that he would wait another night, on
the chance of there being a breeze during the time to enable him to get
away.  I was therefore greatly surprised when the look-out hailed--

"The brig is loosing her topsails, and heaving up her anchor."

The breeze at this time had freshened considerably.  Scarcely had the
words been uttered than I saw, between the other vessels, the brig, with
her topsails and courses set, steering towards the narrow entrance,
through which only small or light vessels could venture.

The capstan was instantly manned; the hands were ordered aloft, and
topsails, and topgallant-sails were let fall; but before we could cant
the right way, the brig had passed us, and had already reached the
passage, when, the head-sails filling, the anchor was tripped, and being
run up to the bows, we steered for the broader and only safe channel.

What had induced Dubois to put to sea, and leave the safe shelter of the
harbour, I could not divine.  It made me suspect that he had not
discovered the loss of the despatches, and knowing the importance of
delivering them without delay, he had determined to run every risk for
that object.  He probably expected, by getting the first of the breeze,
to be a long way ahead before we could follow, trusting to the various
chances which might occur to effect his escape.  Had we been able to go
through the narrow passage, he must have known that he would to a
certainty have been caught; but our captain, from remarks I heard,
seemed to think that the brig might possibly succeed in getting off,
though he was resolved to use every exertion to overtake her, provided
we were not led out of our course, for it was of still greater
importance to get down to Barbadoes, or wherever the English admiral
might be.

During the stay of the _Liffy_ in the harbour, information had been
obtained of the movements of the French fleet, as also that they had a
large number of troops on board.  Their object was to capture as many of
our West India Islands as they could, and several had already fallen
into their hands.  Saint Christopher's, however, had hitherto held out;
Jamaica was prepared to resist to the last; and Barbadoes, our pet
island, was strongly protected by Sir Samuel Hood's fleet.

The French were, I should have said, vastly superior in numbers to the
English.  We had, however, brave and vigilant commanders, who took good
care not to let the grass grow beneath their feet.

Had Captain Macnamara been certain that Lieutenant Dubois was ignorant
of the contents of the packet Larry had carried off, he would have cared
very little about letting the brig escape.  He thought, however, that
Dubois might possibly have duplicates, or might have learned the
information they contained.

The wind freshened as we got outside.  We could now see the brig about
five or six miles away to the southward, for she had got the first of
the breeze, and had carried it along while we were getting under weigh.
All sail being made, however, we rapidly gained on her.

"It'll be a bad job for Dan Hoolan if we come up with the little hooker,
Mr Terence," said Larry.  "If the Frenchmen haven't shot him already,
our captain will be shure to run him up to the yard-arm, with the poor
fellows he decaived."

"It's what he richly deserves," I replied; "but I wish that he had never
been pressed.  It would have been better to have left him on shore, to
stand his chance of hanging, or turning honest."

"Ah, shure there's but little honesty likely to come out of Dan Hoolan,"
observed Larry, who disliked him more than ever since he had caused the
deaths of Tim Logan and Ben Nash.

The brig was steering south-east directly for Guadaloupe, and we
followed in the same direction; but as there were numerous islands in
her course, she might, if she could retain her distance ahead till dark,
escape by keeping round them, or if hard pressed, run on shore, when the
French officers would probably endeavour to forward the information they
were conveying by some other vessel.  She was, as I have said, very
fast, and she was now carrying every stitch of canvas she could set.
The _Liffy_ was no laggard, and we pressed after her.  The chase was as
exciting as it could well be.  Scarcely any of the officers left the
deck, except to take a hurried breakfast, and every glass on board was
in requisition.  Now, when the breeze freshened, we appeared to be
gaining on her; now, when it fell, she seemed to draw ahead of us.  We
passed between the islands of Saint John and Tortola; we sighted the
east end of Santa Cruz, and then made out the curious conical hill of
Saba, to the north of Saint Eustatia.  Noon had passed, and the wind
again freshening, we gained rapidly on the chase.  The look-out aloft
hailed that he saw several sail right ahead.  It was a question whether
they were English or French.  If the latter, the brig might lead us
under their guns, and it was necessary to be cautious.  Dubois must have
seen them also, but probably was as uncertain about their character as
we were.  He might, after all, be captured should he stand on.  At
length he altered his course, and appeared to be making for Saint
Eustatia, and from this it was pretty evident that he took the fleet
ahead to be English.  Whether he was right in that respect or not we
could not tell, but he made a mistake in hauling his wind.  In another
half hour we got near enough to send a shot, which fell aboard him;
another and another followed, when, letting fly his head sheets, he put
his helm to starboard, and hauled down his colours.  We at once hove-to.
A boat was lowered, and I, being able to speak French, was sent with
Mr Harvey to take possession.  We were soon alongside.  Dubois must
have recognised me when in the boat.  As we stepped on deck he and La
Touche advanced, and presented their swords to Mr Harvey, at the same
time each of them made me a very formal bow.  I returned it, and said,
as I stepped forward--

"What is the meaning of this, Monsieur Dubois?  You have made a gallant
attempt to escape.  It's the fortune of war that you have failed; but
why do you treat me as a stranger?  I wish to behave towards you as old
friends, and will do all in my power to help you."

"We do not desire the friendship of one who has been guilty of such an
act as you have committed," answered Dubois stiffly.

"What act do you speak of?"  I asked, suspecting, however, to what he
alluded.

"You were trusted.  You made your escape, and carried off the
despatches," he answered.

"I had a right to make my escape, for I had not given you my word to
remain," I said.  "I did not carry off the despatches, nor did I
instigate any one to do so.  You'll find that I speak the truth."

"I have, then, to beg your pardon," said Dubois, with French politeness,
though he looked doubtfully at me.

There was little time for conversation, however.  Mr Harvey desired the
two French officers to prepare for going on board the frigate.  "I
understand that you have some English seamen on board.  Where are they?"
he asked.

"Two of them lie there," said Dubois, "and the third, in trying to swim
on shore, was seized by a shark.  We are well rid of them, for they were
mutinous rascals."

I looked forward; there, on the deck, lay Dan Hoolan and the other
mutineer.  A shot had struck him on the chest, and nearly knocked the
upper part of his body to pieces, while it had cut his companion almost
in two, but I recognised his features, grim and stern, even in death.
One of the French seamen had also been killed, and his countrymen,
without ceremony, hove his body overboard.  Mr Harvey ordered our men
to dispose of the mutineers in the same manner, and to wash down the
deck, for the sight was not such as any of us cared to look at longer
than was necessary.  Dubois and La Touche, who had gone below to get
their valises, now returning with them, stepped into the boat, and Mr
Harvey left me in charge of the brig.  I felt somewhat elated at finding
myself on board the craft of the command of which I had been so suddenly
deprived, and began to hope that I was to retain it.  I resolved, at all
events, should any of the Frenchmen be left in her, to be careful that
they didn't again take her out of my hands.

I was sorry that I didn't know rather more about navigation, but I
thought that I could manage, by carrying on, to keep in sight of the
frigate.  I was especially thankful that we had not been compelled to
hang Dan Hoolan and the other men, for ruffians as they were, and
outlaws as they had been, I felt for them as countrymen, and should have
been sorry to see them suffer so ignominious a fate.  The brig was still
hove-to, and I was pacing the deck with all the dignity of a commanding
officer, when I saw another boat come off from the frigate, full of men.
In a short time, Sinnet stepped up the side.

"I have come to supersede you, Paddy," he said.  "The captain doubts
your capabilities as a navigator; besides which, he wants you as an
interpreter, so you need not consider yourself slighted."

"Not a bit of it," I answered.  "Only look out that the Frenchmen don't
take the brig from you."

"The captain has made sure that that won't be the case, by ordering all
the prisoners to be sent to the frigate," he replied.

I saw Larry step on deck with the new arrivals, and fancied that he had
been sent to form part of the brig's crew.  I asked him if we were to be
separated.

"No, Mr Terence, I'm thankful to say; but I axed leave of Mr Saunders
to come and look for my fiddle.  `To be shure,' said he; `it puts life
into the men, and you may go.'  So I've come, Mr Terence.  If Dan
Hoolan hasn't hove it overboard, I'll be after setting the men a-jigging
this very evening, supposing we haven't to fight the French, or do any
other trifle of that sort!"

"Be smart, then, Larry, about it," I said, "for I have to be off;" and
Larry dived below.  I ordered the Frenchmen to tumble into the boat,--
they obeying in their usual light-hearted manner, not in any way looking
as if they were prisoners.  The last man had got into the boat, when
Larry came up from below with his fiddle-case under his arm.

"Hooray, Mr Terence! shure I'm in luck, for I've got back my Cremona!"
he exclaimed, as he came down the side, "I'll set your heels going,
mounseers, so don't be down-hearted, my boys," he said, addressing the
French prisoners.

They seemed to understand him.  Some exclaimed, "_Bon garcon_!" snapping
their fingers, and moving their feet, to show that they were ready
enough to dance notwithstanding that they were prisoners.

"It's a wonder, Mr Terence: I've been after looking for Dan Hoolan, but
never a sight could I get of him, or Phelan, or Casey," said Larry.

When he heard of their fate, he'd scarcely believe it, till I told him
that I had seen two of them dead on the deck, and that Dubois had
accounted for the other.

"Well, I'm mighty thankful, for they might have had a worse ending, and
it wasn't to be supposed that they'd come to a good one," he remarked.

Soon after I got back to the ship the captain sent for me into the
cabin.

"I wish you, Finnahan," he said, "to try and ascertain from these two
young French officers what they know about the proceedings of their
fleet, and also learn whether they suppose the ships ahead are those of
our country or theirs."

I promised to do as he desired.  I found Dubois walking the deck,
looking somewhat disconsolate.  He received me as before, in a cold
manner, though La Touche held out his hand when I offered him mine.

"It's of little consequence now," he said; "but I confess that we
suspect you of carrying off the packet.  We only discovered that it was
gone after we left the harbour."

I told him exactly how it had happened, and that I myself considered
that under the circumstances I should not have been justified in taking
it.

"You have acted honourably, monsieur.  I apologise for our wrong
suspicions, and I hope Dubois will do the same," he said.

"Certainly," said Dubois.  "I vowed, when I discovered our loss, that I
would never trust an English officer again."

"You will now acknowledge, then, that though we are compelled to be
enemies, we act honourably towards you," I remarked.  "However, all is
said by you to be fair in love or war--is it not?"

"We have got the saying, though it may not be a true one, for all that,"
he answered.

I now tried to carry out the captain's instructions, but I confess that
I could gain very little either from Dubois or La Touche.  Perhaps they
didn't know much about the movements of their own fleet.  Their opinion
was that the ships they had seen ahead were English, or they would not
have gone out of their course to avoid them.  Captain Macnamara was not
quite satisfied on that point.

We continued standing to the southward, with the brig following in our
wake, while a bright look-out was kept aloft, that we might haul our
wind, and get out of their way, in case they should prove enemies.  It
was fortunate that we were cautious, for, just before dark, the ships in
sight were made out to be certainly French, and we immediately stood
away to the southward to avoid them.  Two frigates were seen coming in
chase, but we made all sail, and night hid them from our sight.  Whether
or not they were still pursuing us we could not tell, but no lights were
shown, and it was important to avoid an engagement, especially with
enemies of a superior force.  A careful look-out, however, was kept,
lest they should come up with us during the night.  When morning dawned
we found that we had run them out of sight, and we now once more steered
our course for Barbadoes.

On reaching Carlisle Bay, we found the fleet under Sir Samuel Hood
moored in order of battle.  It was evident from this that the admiral
expected an attack from the French fleet, and we afterwards learned that
he had gained information that it had sailed from Martinique in great
force for the purpose of attacking the island.  In an hour afterwards
Sinnet brought in the brig in safety, when he had to deliver her up to
the prize agents.

It was a fine sight to me, for I had never seen so many line-of-battle
ships together, with their broadsides pointed in the same direction,
sufficient, it seemed, to blow the whole navy of France into the air.
Captain Macnamara, immediately on bringing up, sent Mr Harvey with the
despatches to the admiral, and directed him to ask for instructions as
to our future course.

We waited hour after hour in expectation of the French fleet.

"We shall have a good stand-up fight for it," observed Sinnet to me.  "I
only wish that I had kept command of the brig, and I would have blazed
away at the Frenchmen with my pop-guns."

The night passed away.  Early the next morning a sail was seen in the
offing, standing towards the bay.  We all supposed her to be one of the
advance frigates of the French, sent ahead to ascertain our strength;
but as the light increased she was seen to be a corvette, though at the
same time she had a French appearance.  She came steering directly for
the admiral, and hove-to inside him.

"Why, I do believe it's the craft we took soon after we left Jamaica,
and Nettleship and you were sent away in charge of," exclaimed Sinnet,
who had been watching her.

I had also been examining her minutely, and had come to the same
conclusion.

Directly she had furled sails, a boat went off from her to the admiral,
and remained alongside for some time.  We were thus left in doubt as to
whether we were right.  At length the boat, which had returned to the
corvette, came pulling towards us.

Sinnet was watching her through a telescope.

"Why, I say, Paddy, I'm nearly certain I see old Nettleship in the
stern-sheets, and Tom Pim alongside him," he said.

"Then there can be no doubt that the corvette is the _Soleil_; but
Nettleship hoped to get his promotion, and if so, he has been made one
of her lieutenants," I remarked.

"He hasn't got on a lieutenant's uniform, at all events," said Sinnet,
looking through the telescope.

In a short time the boat was alongside, and our doubts were solved, by
seeing Tom Pim and Nettleship come on deck.  They went aft at once, and
reported themselves to Captain Macnamara.  As soon as they were
dismissed they joined us.  They both gave a start of surprise at seeing
me.

Tom grasped my hand and said, "Well, I am glad, Paddy, to find you safe
aboard.  We fully believed that the brig was lost in the hurricane, and
never expected to set eyes on you again."

Nettleship also greeted me warmly, though he looked somewhat down in the
mouth.  The cause of this soon came out.

"Why, Nettleship," I said, "I thought you would have been made long
before this."

"It's my ill-luck that I'm not, Paddy," he answered.  "I thought so too.
I got highly complimented for bringing the prize into Port Royal, and I
was then told to rejoin my ship as soon as possible; while the _Soleil_
was commissioned, and a commander and two lieutenants, who had just come
out from England with strong recommendations from the Admiralty, were
appointed to her."

"Well, cheer up, old fellow; we are very glad to have you still with
us," said Sinnet.

Tom afterwards told me that Nettleship got blamed by the admiral at
Jamaica for sending me aboard the brig with so few hands, and for
allowing the prisoners to remain on board, as he shrewdly suspected what
had really happened, that if we had managed to escape the hurricane,
they had risen on us and taken possession of the vessel.

The _Soleil_ had brought intelligence which she had gained from the crew
of a prize she had captured a few days before, that the Count de Grasse
had borne away for Saint Christopher's, where he had landed a force
under the Marquis de Boullie, which it was feared would overpower
General Fraser.  The news soon ran through the fleet that, instead of
waiting to be attacked, we were forthwith to sail in search of the
French, to attack them.  In a short time, at a signal thrown out from
the flag-ship, the fleet, consisting of twenty-two sail of the line and
several frigates, got under way, and stood out from Carlisle Bay.  We
first proceeded to Antigua, where we obtained fresh provisions, and took
on board the 28th regiment of foot and two companies of the 13th, under
the command of General Prescott; and on the evening of the same day we
sailed for Saint John's Roads, and stood under easy sail for Basse
Terre, two of our frigates going ahead to give timely notice of what the
French were about.  We and the _Nymph_ frigate were on one flank, and
two others on the opposite side.  We were fully expecting that we should
have warm work in the morning.  Few of the officers turned in.  When a
large fleet is sailing together, it is necessary to keep a very bright
look-out.  We could dimly see the other ships, with their lights
burning, as we glided over the water.

Presently Nettleship, near whom I was standing, remarked--

"There are two of them closer together than they should be;" and the
next instant he exclaimed, "They're foul of each other!  I feared that
it would be the case."

Signals of distress were now thrown out from both the ships.  We on this
closed with them; and Captain Macnamara ordered the boats to be lowered,
to ascertain what had happened, and to render assistance.  I went in one
of them with our second lieutenant.  The first we boarded proved to be
the _Nymph_.  She had been run into by the _Alfred_.  She was dreadfully
knocked about, being almost cut in two.  We heard aboard her that the
_Alfred_ herself had also been severely damaged.  A boat was at once
sent to report what had happened to the admiral, and as soon as daylight
dawned he threw out signals to the whole fleet to lay to while the
injuries the _Alfred_ had received were being repaired.  The _Nymph_
herself was too severely damaged to proceed, and was ordered at once to
return to Antigua.

While we were lying to, a sail was seen in the distance, when the
admiral ordered by signal the _Liffy_ to chase.  Before long we came up
with her.  She proved to be a large French cutter, laden with shells and
ordnance stores for the besieging army.

Nearly the whole day was spent in repairing the damages the _Alfred_ had
received, and on our approaching Basse Terre, to our bitter
disappointment, we found that the Count de Grasse had put to sea.  The
next night was spent in doubt as to what had become of him, but in the
morning the French fleet, consisting of about twenty-nine sail of the
line, was perceived about three leagues to leeward, formed in order of
battle.  Sir Samuel Hood immediately ordered the British fleet to bear
down as if to attack him.  This had the effect of driving him still
farther to leeward, when, to our surprise, the admiral threw out another
signal, directing the fleet to stand for Basse Terre.

In the evening we entered Frigate Bay, and anchored in line of battle.
The object of this was to cut off the French from all communication with
their forces on shore.  Before we had brought up, the Count de Grasse
stood towards us, and commenced a furious attack on the rear of our
fleet, commanded by Commodore Affleck.  He, supported by the _Canada_,
Captain Cornwallis, and the _Resolution_, Lord Robert Manners, kept up
so incessant a fire on the French, that, finding they could make no
impression on us, their squadron bore up and stood again to sea.  I
mention these events to show the sort of work in which we were engaged.

The night passed quietly, but in the morning the French fleet was seen
again approaching.  On they came, passing along our line, and pouring
their broadsides into us.  Though superior to us in numbers, we returned
so furious a fire, that after a time, finding we remained firm, they
wore, and again stood out to sea.  In the afternoon the French again
appeared, but we again pounded them so severely that they at length,
having had enough of it, once more retired, evidently having suffered
severe loss.

The French flag-ship, the _Ville de Paris_, was seen to be upon the
heel, blocking up the shot-holes she had received between wind and
water.

All this time on shore the French were attacking General Fraser, who had
been compelled to retire to a fort on Brimstone Hill, and with whom it
had become exceedingly difficult to communicate.  I was in the berth
when I received a message from the captain, to go to his cabin.

"I have just come from the admiral," he said.  "He wishes to send some
one on shore to communicate with General Fraser at Brimstone Hill.  I
told him at once that you would be able to succeed if any one could;
though I warn you that the risk of being shot or captured by the enemy
is considerable.  Are you, notwithstanding, ready to go?"

"With all the pleasure in the world, sir," I answered, "if I am likely
to be able to find my way to the fort."

"You'll not have much difficulty in doing that," he said, unless you're
stopped, for you'll be furnished with an exact plan.

"Am I to go in uniform, sir, or in disguise?"  I asked.

"I wouldn't have you risk your life by going in disguise," he replied.
"If you were caught you would be shot as a spy.  You must make the
attempt at night, and by wearing a cloak you may escape detection,
unless you happen to encounter any of the French soldiers; in that case
you'll have to yield yourself a prisoner."

"Whatever the difficulties, I'm ready to go through with them, sir," I
said; "and as I speak French, though not very well, should I meet any
French soldiers, I may perhaps be able to make my escape from them."

"The captain told me that the object of the admiral was to establish a
communication between the fleet and Brimstone Hill, by means of signals,
which I was to carry with me, the general not being supplied with them.
It will be safer to take a man with you to convey the flags, while you
carry the code of signals, which you must endeavour to destroy should
you be made prisoner," he said.

I had still some hours to wait, however, before it was dark enough for
me to land.  I soon afterwards met La Touche.  Both he and Dubois made
themselves very happy on board, caring apparently very little about
being prisoners.  I told him of my intended expedition.

"If you succeed, well and good," he said; "but if you are taken
prisoner, I hope you'll mention Dubois and me to the Marquis de Boullie,
and suggest that he should make an offer to exchange you for me.
Perhaps he has captured another English officer, who would gladly be
exchanged for Dubois.  Not that we are weary of our captivity, as you
all do your best to make it as light and agreeable as possible."

I told La Touche that I should be happy to carry out his wishes should I
be taken prisoner, though I had no intention of being made one if I
could help it.

When I told Tom Pim of what I had to do, he declared that he was jealous
of me, and that he thought he should try to get leave to go.  I said
that I should like to have his company, and accordingly we went together
to the captain to ask leave.  He, however, refused, saying that he would
not risk the loss of two midshipmen at the same time.

"You may, however, take Harrigan with you," he said; "he is a sharp lad,
and will serve you better than any other man in the ship."

Though I should have been unwilling to ask for Larry, for fear of
exposing him to danger, I was very glad to have him with me.

Just before dark a boat was lowered and manned, and Nettleship was
ordered to take me and Harrigan on shore.  I shook hands with my
messmates.

"We hope you'll get back, Paddy," said Sinnet.  "If you're killed or
taken prisoner, we will mourn over your hard fate.  However, you're too
sharp to be caught, and we shall see you back again before long, I
daresay."

The captain desired to see me before I started, and gave me further
instructions, making me study well a plan of the road to the fort, so I
did not fear that I should lose my way.  At length we shoved off.
Instead, however, of pulling directly for the shore, we steered over to
the opposite side of the bay to that where the enemy were encamped.

Nettleship seemed very anxious about me.

"I wish that an older man had been sent, Paddy," he said; "and I'm
ashamed of myself that I don't understand French, or I might have been
employed in the service.  I envy you for the opportunity you have of
distinguishing yourself."

"I don't see that I shall have much to boast of, having only to creep
along in the dark up to the fort and back again.  There's no great
difficulty in the undertaking, besides having to keep out of the way of
the French pickets."

"It's not so much what you have to do, as the object to be attained, and
the danger of doing it, which will bring credit on you," he answered.

It was perfectly dark before we reached the place which had been fixed
on for landing, so that we ran no risk of being observed from the shore.
It was arranged that Nettleship was to wait off it until I made the
signal for him to come in and take me aboard.  Not a word was spoken as
Larry and I stepped on to the beach, he carrying the signals and I the
book and the admiral's letter.  We kept first to our right till we found
a path leading inland through a wood.  We went on as rapidly as the
nature of the ground would allow.  The snake-like roots ran across the
path, and creepers hung low down in festoons, forming nooses, which
might have brought us sharply up if we had run our heads into them.  Now
and then I fancied that I saw a huge snake winding its way along before
me; and tree-frogs, crickets, and other nocturnal insects, kept up a
noisy chorus as we went on.  Sometimes it was so dark that it was with
the greatest difficulty I could make my way with the stick I carried.  I
was very glad when, getting out of the wood, we found ourselves on the
borders of a sugar-cane plantation.  This I knew I should have to skirt
till I reached another path leading almost directly up to the fort.



CHAPTER SEVENTEEN.

THE LAST OF THE "LIFFY."

We had proceeded some distance when the voice of a sentry hailing a
passer-by struck my ear.  The challenge was in French, as was the
answer.  It appeared to be some way off, and I hoped might come from one
of the extreme outposts.  Still I knew that it was necessary to proceed
with caution, or we might suddenly find ourselves close upon another.
We went on and on, occasionally stopping to listen.  No other sounds
besides those of noisy insects broke the silence of night.  Already we
could see the top of Brimstone Hill rising against the dark sky.  In
another quarter of an hour or so we might reach it.  I hoped that we
might find nothing to stop us in passing over the intervening space.  We
continued on, concealing ourselves as much as possible beneath the
hedges of cacti, or the trunks of trees.  We had got close to a thick
copse, as we should call it, only that the plants were of a very
different character, when I heard a sound of feet passing apparently
before us.  Then I heard a remark made in French by one person to
another, who answered it in the same tongue.  Grasping Larry's arm, I
dragged him towards the wood.  Fortunately we found some thick bushes,
behind which we crouched down.  Presently the sounds of the footsteps
grew louder, and I could just distinguish the dim outline of a party of
men and several officers, passing along the road towards the left, where
the French army were supposed to be encamped.  They had evidently been
out on a reconnoitring expedition, and were now returning.  Had we gone
on we should certainly have fallen into their hands.  I waited until
they were out of hearing, and then, whispering to Larry, we got up and
made our way directly towards the fort, with much less fear than before
of meeting any one.  Still I knew that we were not safe until we had
actually gained our destination.

At last we were hurrying on, when I heard a voice say, "Who goes there?"
and I answered, "A friend from the fleet, with a letter for the
general."  The sentry told us to pass on.  In another minute we reached
the picket, a soldier from which was sent up with us to the fort.  We
were at once admitted into the presence of General Fraser, to whom I
delivered the despatches and signals.

"You have performed your service well, young gentleman," said the
general.  "Are you to remain here, or to return to the fleet?"

I told him that my directions were to get back as soon as possible.

"I'll detain you, then, but a short time, while I write a letter to Sir
Samuel Hood," he said.  "I hope that you'll be as successful on your
journey back, as you were in coming here."

Before he began to write, he ordered a servant to bring me refreshments,
and to look after my companion.  The walk had given me an appetite; and
I did justice to the food placed before me.

The general had soon finished his letter; and, giving it to me, with a
warm shake of the hand, told me that I was at liberty to set out when I
was ready.

"My orders are to return without delay, sir," I answered, and took my
leave.

The sentry accompanied Larry and me to the outer picket, thence we
hurried on as fast as we could manage to get along.  Still I maintained
the same caution as in coming, for at any moment we might fall in with
some of the enemy, who might be watching the fort from a distance.  The
farther we got, the more my hopes of succeeding increased.  I could
already make out the lights of the ships in the bay, and the sheen of
the intermediate water.  We reached the wood through which we had before
passed, and had just made our way to the outside, when I caught sight of
a body of men, apparently a patrol, a short distance to the right.  We
were still under the shade of the trees, and I hoped that we should not
be discovered.  We drew back to see in what direction they were coming.
It appeared to me that they had already passed, and that we might gain
the landing-place, even should they see us making towards it.  We
accordingly, after waiting a short time, darted forward, running at our
full speed.  Scarcely, however, had we begun to run, than I heard a
shout of--

"_Arretez la_!"--Stop there, stop!

It was an order we were not likely to obey.  It was too late to return
to the wood, so, scampering as fast as our feet could move, we ran on to
where we expected to find the boat.

Again the Frenchmen shouted to us, and presently a shot came whistling
by my ear.

"Stoop down, Larry," I cried, "as low as you can; it doesn't do to
present a larger target to the enemy than is necessary."

I hoped that the shots would attract the attention of Nettleship, and
that he would pull in to take us aboard.  I turned my head for a moment,
and saw the soldiers running towards us; still, as we were some way
ahead, I expected that we should have time to reach the boat, and to
shove off to a distance before they came up.

To make sure, I shouted out--

"Nettleship, ahoy!  Pull in as hard as you can."

Though I could see lights on board the ships, close to the water as it
was, I could not distinguish the boat, and I was afraid that, not
expecting us so soon, Nettleship had pulled to a distance.  Should he
not arrive our capture was certain.  We had nearly gained the rocks on
which we had landed, when I made out a dark object on the water
approaching.  That must be the boat, I thought, and again hailed.
Nettleship, recognising my voice, answered, and I guessed by the sound
of the oars that the men were bending to them with all their might.
Larry and I stood ready to spring in.  We could hear the footsteps of
the Frenchmen approaching rapidly.  By stooping down we managed to
conceal ourselves, and to avoid several more shots which were fired.
The moment the bowman touched the rock with his boat-hook, Larry and I
sprang on board.  I scrambled aft, while Nettleship shouted out--

"Back oars all.  Now, starboard oars, give way."

The boat was quickly got round, but we had pulled to no great distance
before the Frenchmen, reaching the beach, began to blaze away at us.  We
returned the compliment by firing the only two muskets which had been
brought.  The Frenchmen standing up on the rock presented a good target.
First one shot struck the stern, and another the blade of an oar, but
no one was hurt, and the Frenchmen, finding that they were the greatest
sufferers, prudently retired from the beach.

After a long pull we got back to the frigate.  The captain, to whom I
delivered General Fraser's letter, complimented me on having performed
the duty.

"Your conduct will be noted, Finnahan, and you may depend upon obtaining
your promotion as soon as you are old enough."

I expected to be able to turn in, but he sent me with the letter at once
on board the flag-ship, and I delivered it in person to Sir Samuel Hood.

The admiral almost repeated what the captain had said; and I had good
reason to congratulate myself at the success of my adventure.

Next day, General Prescott's division was re-embarked, as it was not a
sufficient force to fight its way to General Fraser at Brimstone Hill.
Other attempts were made to communicate with him, and two officers were
captured; so that I had good cause to be thankful that I had escaped.

Dubois and La Touche confessed that they were very sorry to see me back.

"I felt sure that you would be made prisoner, and fully expected to have
had the satisfaction of being exchanged for you," said the latter.  "But
we have to practise patience and laugh at our misfortunes, to get on in
this world."

"I'm very glad you were not caught, Paddy," said Tom Pim.  "I envy you
your success, and only wish that I could talk French as you do, to be
employed on the same sort of service.  La Touche is teaching me, and I'm
trying to teach him English, but we make rum work of it without a
grammar or dictionary, or any other book.  I suspect he gets more out of
me than I do out of him, though I try very hard to pronounce the words
he says."

We could hear the French guns thundering away at the fort, and those of
the fort replying, hour after hour, without intermission, but the
signals made by General Fraser were not supposed to be satisfactory.

At last, one day, we saw the flag hauled down; the guns at the same time
ceased, and we knew that all was over, and the gallant garrison had been
compelled to capitulate.  Information of this was sent on board to the
admiral, with a flag of truce, by the Marquis de Boullie.

That evening we sailed on a cruise to ascertain the movements of the
French fleet.  We had not been to sea many hours when we saw them
standing in for Nevis Point, where they came to an anchor; and counting
them, we found that they numbered no less than twenty-four sail of the
line, several ships having lately joined them.  We at once returned with
the information to Sir Samuel Hood.  It was now discovered that the
French had been throwing up gun and mortar batteries on a hill, which
would completely command the fleet.

We were seated in the berth after we had brought up, discussing the
state of affairs.

"We're in a nice position," said Chaffey.  "We shall be pounded at from
the shore, and shall have the French fleet, with half as many more ships
as we possess, down upon us before long, and it will be a tough job to
fight our way out from among them."

"Just trust our admiral," answered Tom; "he knows what he's about,
depend on that; he won't let us be caught like rats in a trap."

As he was speaking, Nettleship came into the berth.

"The captain was sent for on board the flag-ship, and he's just
returned," he said.  "I hear that he met all the captains of the fleet
on board, and the admiral told them to set their watches by his
timepiece, and directed all the ships to slip or cut their cables at
eleven o'clock.  The sternmost and leewardmost ships are to get under
weigh first, and so on in succession, and we're to stand on under easy
sail, in sight of each other, till we receive further orders from the
admiral."

No one turned in; the crews were at their stations; not a sign was shown
which might allow the French--who were of course watching us from the
shore--to discover that any movement was in contemplation.  At the
appointed time, the _Alfred_, the most leeward of our ships, was seen to
get under weigh, followed in rapid succession by the _Canada_ the
_President_, and the rest of the line-of-battle ships, which stood out
of the bay, accompanied by the frigates, before probably the French were
aware what we were about.

It was a masterly movement, as it would have been madness to have
stopped to be attacked by so superior a force as the French possessed;
for though we might have driven them off, we must have suffered
severely, and have had to return into harbour to refit.  At this time we
were outnumbered, and even out-manoeuvred, by the French, who took
possession of several of our islands, which we were unable to protect.

We were not to be idle, for there was plenty of work for the frigates in
watching the enemy, and occasionally in engaging their frigates.

We had not been long at sea when our captain received orders from Sir
Samuel Hood to stand in towards where the French fleet were supposed to
be, and ascertain what they were about.

We had sighted the island of Antigua on our starboard bow, and were
standing in towards Nevis, when three sail appeared to the westward.
One of the lieutenants went aloft to examine them.  On returning on
deck, he reported that one was a line-of-battle ship, and the other two
frigates.  As there could be no doubt, from their position, that they
were enemies, the captain ordered our course to be altered, intending to
pass to the northward of Antigua.  We had been seen by the enemy, who
were making all sail in chase.  I saw Dubois and La Touche watching them
eagerly.

"You expect this time to gain your liberty, my friend?"  I said to La
Touche.  "Don't be too sure that your countrymen will come up with us,
or if they do, that they will make the _Liffy_ strike her flag."

"I would rather be set at liberty in any other way," he answered, in his
usual cordial tone; "but they appear to me to be gaining on us."

"Perhaps they are, and if so we must fight them, and drive them off," I
observed.

"It would be madness to do that," he remarked.  "You cannot cope with a
line-of-battle ship alone, independent of two frigates, each of which is
a match for the _Liffy_."

It was soon seen that our captain had no intention of striking his flag
without striking very hard first at the enemy.  The strangers appeared
to have a stronger breeze than filled our sails, and were coming up hand
over hand with us.  Still we might get the wind, and run into an English
harbour.  It was the first time the _Liffy_ ever had to run, and we
didn't like it.  I asked Nettleship what he thought about the matter.

"We shall have a tough fight, at all events; but if we can save our
spars, I don't think, notwithstanding, the enemy will take us."

This was the general feeling of all on board.

We had sighted Nevis, when two other ships were made out to the
south-east.  Presently several more appeared in that direction.  It was
a question, however, whether they were friends or foes.  Had we been
certain that they were friends, we should have stood towards them, but
our captain was unwilling to run the risk of finding that he had made a
mistake.  A look-out was kept on them from aloft; and before long they
were pronounced to be enemies.  I saw by the looks of our captain that
he didn't like it, though he tried to appear as confident as usual.  The
rest of the officers kept up their spirits.

It was very evident that we were now in a difficult position.  The
line-of-battle ship was the closest; the two frigates, one to the north
of us, the other some way to the south of her; while the new enemies we
had discovered prevented us escaping in the opposite direction.  Our
only hope was to knock away some of the spars of the line-of-battle
ship, and then fight our way past the two frigates.  The line-of-battle
ship was rapidly approaching.  A single broadside, should we be exposed
to it, would almost sink us.

Every preparation had been made for fighting; and not a man flinched
from his gun.  The officers were at their stations; the powder-monkeys
seated on their tubs; the surgeons below, preparing for the wounded; and
we, the younger midshipmen, ready for any duty we might be called on to
perform.

At length a puff of smoke was seen issuing from the line-of-battle ship.
The shot fell close to our counter.

"That was fired from her forecastle," observed Nettleship, "from a long
gun, too.  It will play Old Harry with us if well served, before we can
return the compliment."

A second shot quickly followed, and struck the hammock-nettings on the
starboard side, knocking several overboard.

We at length luffed up; and the captain ordered the whole of our
starboard broadside to be fired.  Our guns were well aimed, and
immediately we had fired we again kept away.  Our shot did considerable
damage to our pursuer, but she still kept on, while we expected every
moment to have her broadside crashing into us.

Fortunately for us the wind fell, and our light frigate moved rapidly
through the water.  The other frigates were, however, coming up.

"What does the captain intend to do?"  I asked of Nettleship.

He pointed ahead where the island of Nevis rose green and smiling out of
the blue water.

"Depend on it he won't let the enemy have our tight little frigate if he
can help it," he answered.  "My idea is that he'll try and get close in,
and stand round the island, to give a chance to our big enemy to run on
shore."

Shortly after this I heard Nettleship involuntarily exclaim, "See! see!
here it comes!" and as I looked aft I saw the line-of-battle ship
luffing up, and as she did so her whole broadside was discharged at us.

With a fearful uproar the shot came crashing on board.  Cries and
shrieks arose from all sides.  Well-nigh a dozen of our men were struck
down, and many more were wounded.  The most severely hurt of the latter
were carried below.  Comparatively little damage, however, had been done
to our spars and rigging, though the rents in our sails showed where the
shot had passed through; while blocks came rattling down on deck, and
several ropes hung in festoons from the yards.  Still our stout-hearted
captain held on.

To return the enemy's fire would have been useless, and only the sooner
insure our destruction.  We got nearer and nearer the island.  The men
were ordered into the chains to heave the lead.  The captain and master
examined the chart, which had been brought from the cabin.  We had no
doubt of what their intentions were, but we couldn't hear a word they
said.  We were gaining on our pursuer, but at the same time the two
frigates were not far astern, while the other ships, which had last been
seen, were coming up rapidly.  The men in the chains were heaving the
lead.  We were shoaling our water.

"By the mark, nine," was called, and immediately followed by "By the
mark, eight."  Before the men in the chains could again cry out, a loud
crash was heard,--every timber in the ship trembled,--the tall masts
quivered.

"We're on shore," I cried out.

"No doubt about that," said Nettleship, "and likely to remain there
too."

The captain at once ordered the men aloft to furl sails.

Our pursuer, not wishing to meet with the same fate, hauled her wind,
and stood to a distance, which left us beyond the reach of her guns.

"Roll them up anyhow.  Be smart about it," cried Mr Saunders.

It was done.  Then the order came,--"Out boats!"

Every boat was got into the water, and brought over to the starboard
side, with a few hands in each.

"We shall have to cut away the masts," said Nettleship, whom I again
passed.

The ship was still forging over the ledge on which she had struck,
closer and closer towards the shore.  The order which he expected
quickly came.

"Stand from under," shouted Mr Saunders.  Some of the men sprang below,
others forward.  We, the officers, rushed aft.  The carpenter, with his
mates, and the boatswain, stood ready, with their gleaming axes in their
hands.

"Cut!" cried the captain.

The shrouds were severed at one side, then the axes descended.  A few
strokes, and the masts in rapid succession fell overboard.  We had all
been so engaged in this operation that we had not watched our enemies.
We now saw the line-of-battle ship signalling the frigates.  Shortly
after they were seen to stand in, apparently for the object of attacking
us.

"It must be done," cried Captain Macnamara.  "Lads, I'm sorry to say we
must leave our stout ship.  We must not allow her, however, to fall into
the hands of the enemy.  Get your clothes, and anything you value most,
as I have resolved to destroy her."

Every one now hurried below to get their clothes, and such other things
as they desired to preserve.  The purser appeared with the ship's
papers, the master with the ship's log, and the captain with a few
instruments.  Muskets and ammunition, pistols and cutlasses, were then
served out, so that we might have the means of resisting the enemy
should they attempt to land.  All were now ready for embarking.  He
would allow none of us to take larger sized packages than the men were
permitted to carry away.  The crew were now all told off to take their
places in the boats.  The midshipmen and boys, as in the case of fire or
shipwreck, were sent first.  Larry was in my boat.

"It's a sad day this, Mr Terence, which I never thought to see," he
said; "but arrah!  I've not forgotten my fiddle, and it will be mighty
convenient to cheer the hearts of our poor fellows when we get ashore."

Most of the men took the matter very philosophically.  Those who
suffered most were the unfortunate wounded, who had previously been
lowered into the boats, with the surgeons to look after them.  Our two
prisoners, Dubois and La Touche, had, I fancied, formed some plan for
remaining on board, but a hint from Rough-and-Ready made them very
quickly follow me into the boat, accompanied by a marine.

"Take care, Finnahan, those two foreigners don't give you the slip,"
shouted the first lieutenant.  "Let them understand that they must
remain under charge of the sentry, and that if they give leg-bail he has
orders to shoot them.  Now shove off."

I told my friends what Mr Saunders had said.

"Ah, that lieutenant of yours is very suspicious," remarked Dubois.  "We
wish to get away!  What folly to think of it."

I said nothing more, but there was a twinkle in Dubois' eye, which made
me fancy he did think of it.

The shore was soon reached; providentially there was no surf, and the
men quickly landed.  On this the boats at once put off to bring away the
remainder of the crew.  The men bent to their oars.  There was no time
to be lost, for the French frigates were approaching, and would soon be
blazing away at our ship.  On they came under all sail.

"We'll have them right enough if they run ashore," cried one of the men;
"there'll then be fair play maybe."

"I wish that our captain would only just let us go back and fight them,"
exclaimed another; "we'd soon show them that the saucy _Liffy_ hasn't
done barking yet."

But the Frenchmen seemed to have no intention of running ashore if they
could help it.  As we got alongside they had come almost within range of
our guns.  The remainder of the crew and officers stood ready to embark.
Just at that moment I recollected that I had come away without my
grandfather's sword, which was hung up in the berth.  I sprang on deck
and rushed down below to obtain it.  Having got it in my hand, I was
hurrying out of the berth, when I saw the captain, accompanied by Mr
Saunders with the gunner and his crew, just coming aft.  At the same
time I observed a dense smoke issuing from the fore-hold.  They had
matches in their hands, with which they had lighted some trains which
had been laid leading to the after-part of the ship.  I sprang back into
the boat, into which the gunner and his crew followed me, the captain's
gig still waiting alongside.  Mr Saunders came down and took his seat.
The captain stood for some moments gazing along the deck, then, lifting
up his hat, he also descended.  "Shove off!"  I heard him cry out, in a
husky voice, just as we were pulling away.

He was the last man to leave the frigate.  As he did so several shot
came crashing aboard her from the opposite side.  We pulled away as fast
as we could lay our backs to the oars, for we had a good chance of being
hit.  The shot dropped round us pretty thickly, but we escaped
uninjured.  As we looked astern thick wreaths of smoke were issuing from
every part of our gallant frigate.

"Her fighting days are over," I observed.

"Not just yet, sir,--not just yet.  Wait a minute and you'll see,"
exclaimed the coxswain.

He was right.  Before we landed the flames had reached the guns, and her
whole broadside, pointed towards the Frenchmen, went off in rapid
succession.

"Hurrah! hurrah!" shouted all the men; "the old girl dies game to the
last."

What damage the guns of our ship effected on the French frigates we
could not discover, but they were seen to haul their wind and to stand
off as fast as they could from the land.  We soon gained the shore,
which was as captivating in appearance as any shipwrecked mariner has
ever landed on.  It seemed like a perfect garden, with churches and
planters' houses peeping out from among the trees, in the midst of the
most picturesque scenery.  In the centre rose a lofty cone, surrounded
by a ruff of trees, below which all was one mass of verdure.  We had
little time or inclination just then to admire the beauties of nature.
The crew having been mustered, none being missing except the poor
fellows who were known to have been killed, the wounded were placed on
litters formed of sails, and we were set off to march towards
Charlestown, the smart little capital of the island, whence Captain
Macnamara expected to be able to send intelligence of the disaster to
the admiral.

We had gone some distance, and were all feeling hungry and thirsty, when
we came in sight of the house of a planter.  Our approach was perceived.
The master of the mansion came forth, and, addressing Captain
Macnamara, insisted on our halting, and taking such refreshment as he
could provide.  His offer was gladly accepted.  As the house wouldn't
hold us all, we youngsters stopped in the shade of of a grove of trees
close to it, the captain and gun-room officers being invited inside.
The men threw themselves on the ground, in every variety of attitude,
waiting for the expected feast.  We of the midshipmen's berth formed a
group by ourselves a little way from the men, close to a fountain, which
sent up a jet of water into the quivering air.  The sight of it alone
was calculated to cool us, and we needed cooling, for our march had been
hot and fatiguing.  Some of the men suffering most from thirst rushed to
the fountain, and baled the water into their mouths, or lapped it up
like dogs.

"I say, Paddy, what has become of your French friends?" asked
Nettleship, looking round.  "I thought La Touche would at all events
have been with us, though Dubois might have considered himself
privileged to go in with the gun-room officers."

"I haven't set eyes on them--since--since--let me see--not since we left
the shore," I answered.  "I suppose they must be in the house."

Just then I saw the marine who had had charge of the prisoners.  I asked
him what had become of them.  He had been ordered to fall into the ranks
with his comrades, and had handed them over, he said, to the second
lieutenant,--Simon Silk,--known among us as Softy.  I told Nettleship
this.

"Oh, then of course they are in the house," he remarked.

"Not so sure of that, if Softy had charge of them," said Tom.

In a short time a number of blacks came out, bringing provisions of all
sorts.  Huge jugs of sangaree, baskets of pink shaddocks, bananas,
oranges, pomegranates, figs, and grapes, in addition to the more
substantial fare.  How we did peg into the fruit, which we enjoyed the
more from having been lately on salt provisions.  To the poor wounded
fellows the fruit was especially refreshing, and I believe the lives of
several were saved who would otherwise have succumbed.

"Well, I shouldn't mind being shipwrecked occasionally, if I could
always land in such a place as this," said Chaffey, devouring a superb
shaddock, while the rest of us were similarly employed, or sucking
oranges, or popping grapes into our mouths.

As we were at no great distance from Charlestown, our kind host advised
the captain to remain, and to pursue his march in the cool of the
evening, undertaking to send on to the authorities that quarters might
be provided for us.  We were not at all sorry to hear this, as all of us
needed rest.  We ate the delicious fruit till we could eat no more, and
then threw ourselves on the ground.  Our host came out and invited us
into the house, but Nettleship, who considered that he might have done
so at first, declined his offer; indeed, we were far better off under
the trees than between walls, and certainly more at our ease.  At length
Mr Saunders came out, and ordered us to get ready for marching; the men
were formed in ranks, and, giving a cheer for our host, we set out.

I had been looking about for Dubois and La Touche, when I saw Lieutenant
Silk.  I asked him if he knew where they were.

"Bless me! why, have they not been with you all this time?" he
exclaimed.  "I understood them to say that they would join you when we
arrived at Mr Ballahoo's, and I never dreamed of their not doing so."

The marine officer looked somewhat aghast on hearing that we had not
even seen the Frenchmen.

"Whether he dreamed it or not, they are off as sure as a gun," observed
Nettleship, when I told him.

Such proved to be the case; and though Softy had to march back with a
party of his men to look for them, they were nowhere to be found.  I do
not think that the captain was very much put out, though I was sorry to
part from my polite friends without saying good-bye.  As the enemy were
in the neighbouring island, it was probable that they would send a force
across to capture Nevis, so that we fully expected to have work to do,
as the governor was resolved to oppose them.

We arrived at Charlestown just at sunset, and were hospitably received
by the inhabitants, among whom we were billeted, the wounded being sent
to the hospital.  We were expecting to have a pleasant stay in the town,
but next day a frigate appeared off the place and sent her boat ashore,
when our captain applied for a passage for himself and men to join the
admiral.  We had at once, therefore, to embark on board the _Thisbe_.
Next day we stood across to Antigua, and, having passed that island, we
beat to the southward, when a large fleet was seen ahead.  We approached
cautiously till we got within signalling distance, when the fleet was
found to be that of Sir Samuel Hood, steering for Antigua.  We were
ordered to join it, and the next day brought up in Saint John's roads.
We here remained at anchor for some time, till we were joined by Sir
George Rodney, who had come out from England with several sail of the
line.  Sir George Rodney became commander-in-chief, and now considered
himself strong enough to cope with the French and Spanish.

While the officers and crew of the _Liffy_ were together, we were merry
enough; but after we had undergone the trial for her loss, and our
captain and his subordinates had been honourably acquitted, the time
came for our separation.  We were distributed among the different ships
of the fleet.  Nettleship, Tom Pim, and I were ordered to join the
_Cerberus_, 74, with a portion of our men, among whom was Larry.  Tom
and I agreed that we felt lost in so big a ship.  We soon, however, got
accustomed to her, and became intimate with our new messmates, several
of whom were very good fellows.  Tom declared that he should never like
the gun-room after our snug little berth, for, should he once fetch
away, he shouldn't bring up again until he had cracked his head against
a gun or against the ship's side.  For some time we had fine weather, so
that he had no opportunity of experiencing the inconvenience he
anticipated.  We heard that the very day we left Nevis the French had
thrown an overwhelming force across and taken possession of the island.

"I don't know that we should have prevented that," said Tom, "so I am
glad that we got away, or we might have been killed or made prisoners."

The fleet being strengthened as I have described, we proceeded to Saint
Lucia to complete our water.  We now had to sail in search of a large
French convoy which was expected to arrive from Europe, and anticipated
a rich prize; but the French were too sharp for us, for though a
vigilant look-out was kept by the frigates, they managed, by sailing
close under Dominique and Guadaloupe, to reach Port Royal Bay
unperceived by any of our ships.  When Sir Samuel Hood got information
of this unlucky event, the line-of-battle ships returned to Saint Lucia
to refit, while the frigates were employed in watching the movements of
the enemy.  The object of the French and Spaniards was well known.  It
was to unite their fleets, and thus, forming a powerful force, to
proceed to the conquest of Jamaica.  Our object was to prevent them from
doing this.  The frigates had ample work in watching their movements,
and many ran a great risk of being captured in the anxiety of their
captains to keep a vigilant watch on them.  Our fleet lay ready for a
start as soon as information was brought of the enemy having put to sea.



CHAPTER EIGHTEEN.

LUCY TALBOYS AGAIN.

At length, at daylight on the 8th of April, when I, acting as signal
midshipman, was on the look-out, I saw a frigate standing towards us and
making signals.  I immediately communicated the information to the
commander, who was on deck.

"The _Andromache_, Captain Byron," he exclaimed.  "She tells us that she
has seen the enemy's fleet with a large convoy coming out of Port Royal
Bay, and standing to the north-west."

Tom Pim was immediately sent down to call the captain, and, as he
appeared, the admiral threw out a signal from the _Formidable_ to put to
sea in chase of the enemy.  Cheers resounded from ship to ship, and
never did fleet get under weigh with more alacrity.  By noon we were
clear of Gros Islet Bay, when we stretched over to Port Royal, but,
finding none of the French ships there or at Saint Pierre, we stood
after them in the direction they were supposed to have taken.  We
continued on for some hours during the night, still uncertain as to
whether we should overtake the enemy, when, to our joy, we discovered
their lights right ahead.

As morning broke, a large portion of the convoy was discovered under
Dominique, while to windward we could see the French fleet forming the
line of battle.  As the light increased, the admiral threw out signals
to prepare for action and to form the line.

It was welcomed by a hearty cheer from ten thousand throats.  As,
however, we got under Dominique, to our bitter disappointment the sails
flapped against the masts, and most of the ships lay becalmed, unable to
obey the orders which had been received.  It was tantalising in the
extreme.  At length, however, the lighter canvas filled, and the
sea-breeze freshened.  The _Barfleur_, Sir Samuel Hood's flag-ship, then
our ship, then the _Monarch_ and _Warrior_, the _Valiant_ and _Alfred_
got the wind, and the whole of the van division, of which we formed a
part, stretched to the northward on the starboard tack in chase, while
the central and rear divisions, under Sir George Rodney, lay still
becalmed and unable to join us.  Our gallant admiral, however, anxious
to bring on an action, continued his course, when we saw the French
fleet also forming their line on the starboard tack, in the hope of
attacking us before we could be joined by Sir George Rodney.

"Now, Paddy, we shall see what a real fight is like," said Tom Pim, as
we stood on the quarter-deck.

"I hope we shall see what a victory is like, too," I answered, as I eyed
the approaching enemy, numbering fifteen ships, to oppose which we had
but eight.  Sir Samuel Hood, however, knew what he was about, and the
order was given to heave to, which brought our broadsides to bear upon
the French, and at the same time would allow the other two frigates to
come up with us as soon as they could get the wind.  The first shot was
fired from the _Barfleur_ a few minutes before 10 a.m., and then all our
eight stout ships began blazing away at the French, as they stood down
intending to break our line; but so tremendous was the fire with which
they were received, that they found the attempt hopeless.  They,
however, returned it vigorously, and for a full hour we were pounding
away at each other, not a few of our brave fellows being killed, and
many more wounded.  Towards the end of the time, as the smoke cleared
away, I saw the rest of our fleet coming up with the breeze, which had
at length reached them.  The French admiral also saw them, and, having
had a taste of how eight ships could treat him, he stood away under all
sail after the remainder of his fleet.  Sir George Rodney now threw out
a signal for a general chase, but the Frenchmen beat us hollow in
running away, and we in vain attempted to come up with them.  For two
whole days we were engaged in chasing.

"I'm afraid, after all, the mounseers will get off, and reach Jamaica
before us," said Tom Pim to me; "and if they do, what will become of Mr
Talboys and his family?  Poor Lucy! she will be marrying a French count,
perhaps, and I shall never see her again."

"They are not quite out of sight, and though they're gaining on us, the
wind may change, or some other accident may occur, and we shall have
another stand-up fight," I answered.

This was soon after sunrise on the 12th of April, when our fleet was
standing to the northward, about five leagues north-west of Prince
Rupert's Bay, with a light breeze.  The French were upon the same tack
to windward of the Saintes, with a fresh sea-breeze.  The light
increasing, we saw a ship which had lost her foremast and bowsprit, in
tow of a frigate standing in for Guadaloupe.  On perceiving this the
admiral threw out a signal for us and three other ships to chase; and,
disabled as the French line-of-battle ship was, we made sure of
capturing her.

"We shall get hold of one ship, at all events, and the frigate too, if
she doesn't up stick and run," said Nettleship, as he watched the two
Frenchmen ahead.

Presently he exclaimed, "Not so sure of that, though.  I see the French
admiral making signals, and we shall know what he has been saying
presently."

A short time afterwards he added, "His fleet is bearing up for the
purpose of protecting the wounded bird."

We stood on, however.  The captain told Tom Pim, who was signal
midshipman, to keep a sharp eye on our admiral.

"If he keeps on that course he'll give us the weather gage, and we shall
catch him as sure as his name is De Grasse," cried Nettleship.

Our crew of course were at their quarters, and we expected ere long to
be exchanging broadsides with the enemy.  Presently the French again
altered their course, and formed their line on the larboard tack.

"The admiral has hoisted the recall signal," cried Tom.  Directly
afterwards we saw the signal made for our ships to form the line of
battle on the starboard tack.  Rear-Admiral Drake's division was now
leading, the _Marlborough_ being ahead.  The island of Dominique was on
our starboard hand, the wind coming off the land, and the French between
us and it.  Thus they were to windward of us, standing almost directly
for Guadaloupe.  We were now gradually nearing each other.  Just at 8
a.m. the _Marlborough_, in gallant style, opened fire on the rear of the
French.  At the same time Rodney made the signal for close action.  Soon
after it was hoisted all the other ships and Rear-Admiral Drake's
division commenced firing their broadsides.  For a time Admiral Hood's
division was almost becalmed, as were many of Sir George Rodney's ships,
but as they drew ahead they got the wind much stronger clear of the
land.  After the action had continued for some time, the wind shifted,
enabling us to get to windward of the enemy.

"Look out there, Paddy, at the _Duke_.  See, that gallant fellow Gardner
is endeavouring to force the Frenchman's line," cried Nettleship.

We watched for some minutes, when a shot carried away the _Duke's_
main-topmast, and she dropped to leeward, and Sir George Rodney,
followed by the _Namur_ and _Canada_, stood right in between the enemy's
ships, not far from the _Ville de Paris_, carrying their admiral's flag.
Others quickly followed, when Rodney wore and doubled upon the enemy,
all the time, it must be understood, keeping up a tremendous and
incessant fire.  By this gallant manoeuvre the French line was
completely broken, and thrown into the utmost confusion.  Their van bore
away, and endeavoured to form to leeward, but our division, under Sir
Samuel Hood, now getting the breeze, came up, and joined in the close
fight which had long been going on.  To describe it so that my account
should be understood would be difficult in the extreme.  All the time
the shot of the enemy came crashing aboard.  Our object was to catch
sight of the hulls of the Frenchmen amid the clouds of smoke, and to
pound away at them.  Each of our ships did the same.  Amongst the ships
was the _Glorieux_, commanded by the Vicomte d'Escar.  Though surrounded
by enemies, he continued to fire his broadsides until his masts and
bowsprit were shot away by the board, and not till he saw that he must
abandon all hope of rescue did he haul down his colours.  We almost
immediately afterwards came up with another ship, which we found to be
the _Caesar_, Captain M. de Marigney.  We got so close up to her that
our guns almost touched, and began furiously pounding away at her sides.
She had already been severely battered before we attacked her.  The
gallant Frenchman, however, continued to engage us, and, looking up, as
for an instant the smoke was blown aside, we saw that he had nailed his
colours to the mast.

"We must knock them away notwithstanding," said Nettleship.

Soon afterwards down came the enemy's mainmast, followed by her
mizzenmast, fortunately falling over on the opposite side.

Still the Frenchmen continued working their guns, but one after the
other ceased firing, and at last an officer waved a handkerchief, to
show that they surrendered.  As he did so the foremast went by the
board.  We immediately ceased firing, and our second lieutenant was sent
to take possession in one of the few of our boats which could swim.  I
accompanied him.  I by this time had seen a good deal of fighting, but I
had never yet witnessed any scene so dreadful as the decks of the
_Caesar_ presented.  On reaching the upper deck, one of the first
objects which met our eyes was the body of the gallant captain, who had
just breathed his last.  Near him lay three or four other officers, and
a little farther off two young midshipmen; while fore and aft lay the
dead and wounded, their shipmates having had no time as yet to carry the
latter below.  Everywhere there was wreck and confusion, masts and
rigging trailing overboard, the stumps alone remaining, the bulwarks
shattered, the guns upset, the carriages of some knocked to pieces,
every boat damaged, while it was impossible, as we stepped along, to
avoid the pools of blood and gore.  The third lieutenant, his head bound
up, stepped forward, saying that he was the officer of the highest rank
remaining, and offered his sword.  In the meantime the fight continued
raging: the _Ardent_ struck to the _Belliqueux_, and the _Hector_ to the
_Canada_; but the gallant Cornwallis, leaving his prize, made sail after
the Count de Grasse, who, together with his second, was endeavouring to
rejoin his flying and scattered ships.  We were fast approaching.
Notwithstanding this, the Count de Grasse held out till the _Barfleur_
came up, and poured in so tremendous and destructive a fire, that at
length the gallant Frenchman, deserted by his ships, was compelled to
haul down his flag, just as the sun sank beneath the horizon.

The French fleet were now going off before the wind, pursued by some of
our ships.  Others would have joined in the chase, but Sir George
Rodney, wishing to collect the fleet and secure his prizes, made the
signal to the fleet to bring to.

Our captain meantime had ordered us at once to commence removing the
prisoners.

I had shoved off with one boat-load, and just got alongside the
_Cerberus_, when I heard the cry, "The _Caesar_ is on fire!"  I hurried
the prisoners up the side, eager to assist in extinguishing the flames,
or to bring away as many as I could of those on board.  Several of the
other ships were also sending their uninjured boats to the rescue; but
before they could reach the blazing ship, we heard a fearfully loud
explosion.  Up went her decks.  Fragments of planks and timbers, and
even heavy guns, with human bodies torn and rent asunder, rose in the
air; the whole ship blazed furiously, lighting up the surrounding
vessels with a lurid glare, when suddenly her hull sank, and all was
dark around.  In her perished our third lieutenant and boatswain, and
fifty of our gallant crew, besides four hundred Frenchmen.

Our most valuable prize was the _Ville de Paris_, as she had on board a
quantity of specie, and she was considered the finest ship afloat; but
we had a heavy price to pay for our victory: Captain Bayne, of the
_Alfred_, and Captain Blair, of the _Anson_, were killed, besides
several lieutenants and other officers.  Altogether we lost two hundred
and fifty-three men killed, and eight hundred and sixteen wounded.  The
French ships, having numerous troops on board, and carrying more men
than ours, suffered more severely in proportion, and it was generally
believed that three thousand were killed, and double the number wounded.
On board the _Ville de Paris_ alone four hundred were slain.

We remained three days under Guadaloupe, repairing damages, when Sir
George Rodney ordered Sir Samuel Hood to proceed with his division in
search of stragglers.  In spite of the fighting we had had, with
cheerful alacrity we stood away; and on the 19th sighted five of the
enemy's ships.  They were standing for the Mona passage.

"They hope to escape us," said Nettleship.  "But never fear, if they can
get through, so can we."

This proved to be the case.  Just then Sir Samuel Hood threw out the
signal for a general chase.  A shout rose from our deck when it was seen
that the wind had died away, and that the enemy lay becalmed.

The _Valiant_ early in the afternoon got alongside the _Caton_, which
immediately struck.  Captain Goodall then stood on, leaving us to pick
her up, and attacked the _Jason_, of the same force, with so much
impetuosity, that after a stout resistance of twenty minutes she also
hauled down her colours.  Two other smaller ships were shortly
afterwards captured, and only one, which got through the passage,
effected her escape.

A few days afterwards we rejoined Sir George Rodney under Cape Tiberoon,
and with him proceeded to Jamaica.

Great was the rejoicing of the inhabitants.  Guns were thundering, flags
flying on steeples and houses and hundreds of flagstaff's; and the whole
town of Kingston turned out, with the military and civic authorities at
their head, to receive the conqueror as he landed, accompanied by the
Count de Grasse, the admiral who had threatened their subjugation.

We aboard the _Cerberus_ saw little of the festivities which took place,
as we were engaged in repairing her, and fitting her for sea,--it being
understood that in consequence of the damages she had received she was
to be sent home.

Tom and I got leave only for one day to go up to Kingston, in the hopes
of seeing our friends the Talboys.  Tom was in a great state of
excitement.

"I say, Paddy, I wonder whether Lucy still cares for me," he said.
"Perhaps she'll have forgotten all about me by this time; and if that
fellow Duffy has been stationed at Kingston, as soon as we left he'll
have done his best to cut me out."

"I don't think her papa, at all events, would prefer an ensign to a
midshipman; and depend upon it, that if she has transferred her
affections, it would be to a post-captain or a colonel," I answered.
"But cheer up, Tom, don't be down-hearted; we'll hope for the best."

Almost the first gentlemen we saw on landing were two French officers,
strolling along arm in arm.  As we got close to them they turned their
heads, and I recognised Lieutenant Dubois and La Touche.  They knew me
in a moment, and held out their hands with more cordiality than I should
have expected.

"You see us again prisoners to your brave nation; but we have given our
parole, and are allowed to be at large during the day," said Dubois.

"You'll come to our lodgings, I hope, and allow us to show you some
hospitality," added La Touche.  "In this life we have many ups and
downs.  One day you are prisoners to us, and the next day we are
prisoners to you.  What matters it if we retain our honour and our
lives.  It's a miracle that we're alive."

"How is that?"  I asked.

"We were aboard the _Ville de Paris_," he said, "and were doing duty on
the lower deck.  We fought to the last, and fully believed that the ship
would go down.  At one time the admiral was the only person left
unwounded on the upper deck.  Officer after officer was killed as they
went up to join him.  We were about to follow, when our flag was hauled
down.  However, we expect to be exchanged soon, when, for my part, I
intend to return to France."

This was said as we walked along with the young Frenchmen.

The lodgings to which they introduced us consisted of a single room, in
which they slept and took their meals; but they didn't seem a bit
ashamed of it, and did the honours with as great an air as if they were
receiving us in a magnificent saloon.  They had evidently won the heart
of their mulatto landlady, who placed an elegant repast on the table,--
indeed, in a country where fruits and delicacies are abundant, that is
not any difficult matter.

"The English are very polite to us here; and some of the young ladies
are charming," observed Dubois.  "There is one family especially
polite,--that of a Monsieur Talboys.  Ah! _ma foi_! his little daughter
is perfectly charming."

On hearing the name of Talboys, Tom Pim pricked up his ears and looked
at me, for he was not able to understand all that was said.

"We are acquainted with Mr Talboys," I observed, "and all must admire
his daughter.  Is she not engaged to be married yet?"

"Ah, yes, there's the pity," said Dubois, shrugging his shoulders; "to a
military officer, I'm told,--the Capitaine Duffy.  He has lately
obtained his promotion, and appeared at a ball in a bright new uniform,
which completely captivated the young lady's heart."

"I'll not believe it until I see her, and she tells me so," exclaimed
Tom, starting up.  "You must have been misinformed, monsieur."

"_Ma foi_!  I hope so," said Dubois; "for I thought I was making great
way, and resolved, if her father would accept me as his son-in-law, to
give up the sea and settle down as a planter in Jamaica."

On hearing this Tom became very fidgety, and proposed that we should go
in search of our friends.  As I was afraid that he might say something
which might annoy our hosts, I agreed, and, wishing them good-bye, Tom
and I started for Mr Talboys' town house.

We had no great difficulty in finding it.  Just as we reached the
entrance, who should I see but Duffy himself, strutting out in a
captain's uniform.  He didn't know me at first, until I hailed him.

"What, Duffy!"  I exclaimed.  "It must be yourself or your elder
brother.  Let me congratulate you on obtaining your captain's
commission.  You have faster promotion in your service than we have in
the navy."

"Ah, Paddy! is it you?" he cried, taking me by the hand.  "It's myself,
I can assure you.  Thanks to this torrid climate, sangaree, and Yellow
Jack, you're right, my boy.  All the fine fellows you knew at Savannah
are invalided home, or are under the sod; but as I eschew strong drinks,
and keep in the shade as much as I can, I have hitherto escaped the fell
foe.  I suppose you're going to call on my friends the Talboys?  They
will be very glad to see you.  We often talk about you, for the gallant
way in which you, Pim, and your other messmates behaved when the house
was attacked."

"Here is Pim," I said.

"What!  I beg your pardon," said he; "I really did not recognise you;"
and he put out his hand, which Tom took rather coldly.  "We all owe you
a debt of gratitude which none of us know how to repay."

"I don't require payment," said Tom, drawing himself up stiffly.  "Good
morning, Captain Duffy!  I don't wish to detain you."

"Well, as I have to go on guard, I mustn't stop, or I should like to go
back and join Lucy in thanking you."

"I don't require thanks," said Tom, gulping down his rising anger.
"Come along, Paddy."

As I saw that the sooner the interview was brought to an end the better,
we entered the house.  Tom was even half inclined to turn back, and I
think he would have done so had not Mr Talboys seen us, and insisted on
our coming into the drawing-room.

Both of us followed him over the slippery floor, and nearly pitched down
on our noses, making a somewhat eccentric entrance into the room.

Mrs Talboys, with Lucy and her younger girls, were seated on
cane-bottomed sofas, dressed in white, with fans in their hands.  The
weather was unusually hot.  A blush rose to Lucy's cheek as she saw Tom.
She, however, came frankly forward, and we all shook hands.  Nothing
was said about Duffy.  They were all eager to hear our adventures, which
we narrated as briefly as we could.  They knew Dubois and La Touche, and
Mr Talboys thought them very agreeable Frenchmen, but they didn't
appear to be much in Lucy's good graces.  I was much inclined to speak
of Duffy, but Lucy evidently didn't wish to mention him.  We had
observed the marks of fire on some of the houses as we came along, and
Mr Talboys told us that since we had been there there had been a
fearful conflagration; and had not the wind shifted, the whole town
would have been burned down.  He and his family were at that time in the
country, and so escaped the alarm which the fire caused.

Mrs Talboys invited us to spend the evening at the house, but Tom at
once answered for himself and me, and said that we had to return on
board, and we were not pressed to stay.  At last we got up to take our
leave.

"Lucy is very anxious again to thank you, Mr Pim, for your brave
conduct in saving her from the blacks.  Perhaps you'll meet in England,
as she expects to go there shortly, should peace be established; but we
are unwilling to allow her to risk the danger of the passage in war
time."

Lucy had managed to get Tom to the window, so I didn't hear what she
said, but he looked far from happy.

"I must tell you, Mr Finnahan, that my daughter will probably be soon
married.  Captain Duffy," said Mrs Talboys, "her intended, is an
excellent young man, and heir to a good estate, with a sufficient
fortune already in possession; and she could not expect to make a more
satisfactory match.  It has our entire approval.  You know him well, he
tells me?"

I of course said that I did, that he had treated me very kindly at
Savannah, and that I must congratulate him on his good fortune.

While we were speaking, Tom came up, and said somewhat abruptly, "Paddy,
we must not delay longer."  He didn't again turn towards Miss Lucy, to
whom I went up and wished good-bye.  Tom and I then paid our adieus to
the rest of the family.  Lucy was well-nigh crying, I thought, but the
yellow light admitted through the blinds prevented me from seeing
clearly.

"It's all over," cried Tom, as we got outside.  "I thought it would
happen.  I've been and made a fool of myself, and I'll never do so again
as long as I live; no, never--never!"

I comforted Tom as well as I could, and indeed he soon recovered his
equanimity.  I told him I was sure that Miss Lucy was very grateful,
though she was not inclined to wait till he had become a post-captain,
or even a commander, to marry him.

We looked in on our way down to the harbour on our two French friends.
We found them in high spirits, for they had just received information
that they were to accompany the Count de Grasse, and other French
officers, who were about to return home, on board the _Sandwich_, Sir
Peter Parker's flag-ship, on their parole.  As Sir Peter was on the
point of sailing in charge of a homeward-bound convoy, Sir George Rodney
remained as commander-in-chief at Jamaica.  A short time after, Admiral
Pigot arrived out from England to supersede him, and Sir George returned
home in the _Montague_.

At length, after lying idle for some time, Admiral Pigot, with his flag
on board the _Formidable_ made the signal for the whole fleet to put to
sea.

A report reached us just before this that we and the other ships were to
return to England, and highly delighted every one was at the thoughts of
going home.  We were, however, kept cruising for some time, till we fell
in with the fleet of Admiral Graves off Havanna; thence we proceeded to
Bluefields, on the south coast of Jamaica, towards its western end.

Here Admiral Graves, whose flag was flying aboard the _families_,
received orders to convoy a hundred sail of merchantmen, together with
the French prizes, consisting of the _Ville de Paris_, no guns, the
_Glorieux_ and _Hector_; of 74 guns each, and the _Ardent_ and _Jason_,
of 64 guns each.  The men-of-war accompanying them were the _Canada_,
our ship the _Cerberus_, of 74 guns each, and the _Pallas_, of 36 guns.

"It's to be hoped that we shall have fine weather," said Nettleship one
day at mess.  "Even now we're obliged to keep the pumps going every
watch.  It's a wonder the hull and rigging hold together; while we're
terribly short-handed, and, as far as I can judge, the rest of the ships
are in no better condition, and the prizes are still more battered."

"What an old croaker you've become," cried Tom.  "I thought you would
have been the last person to talk in that way."

Others, joining Tom, made the same sort of remarks.

"I'm not croaking.  I only say that never fleet put to sea in a worse
condition; but I do hope we shall be blessed with fine weather, and not
meet with a heavy gale, or have to encounter an enemy of superior
force."

Those watching us from the shore could certainly not have supposed that
the fine-looking fleet sailing along the coast of Jamaica was unable to
cope with the fiercest gale that it was likely to encounter.

As we got away from land we found that the _Jason_ had not joined us,
being employed in completing her water, while during a calm the officers
of the _Ardent_ sent a memorial to the admiral stating that she was
totally unseaworthy; and they had therefore the good fortune to be
ordered back to Jamaica to refit.

For some time the fine weather lasted, and few doubted that we should
convoy the merchantmen committed to our charge, and the trophies of our
hard-earned victory, in safety to England.  We had got about the
latitude of the Bermudas, when some of the convoy parted company, on
their way to New York, leaving us, including the men-of-war and
merchantmen, with only ninety-two sail,--the _Ville de Paris_, under an
experienced navigator, leading the van through the Gulf Stream.  The
wind and sea, however, shortly after this got up, and two ships, the
_Caton_ and _Pallas_, made signals of distress, each having sprung a
leak.  The admiral therefore ordered them to bear away for Halifax, then
less than a hundred leagues distant.  Scarcely were they out of sight
than the wind shifted to the south-east, blowing strongly, while a still
heavier sea got up.  The admiral on this made signals for the whole
fleet to collect together, and prepare for a heavy gale.  He hove-to on
the larboard tack under his mainsail, with topgallant masts struck.  We
and the other ships followed his example, with all our other canvas
furled.

Nettleship, Tom Pim, and I, being in the same watch, were on deck
together.  We had just got the ship snug, and, our duties for the moment
performed, were standing together, watching the fast-rising seas.

"I say, Nettleship, we have got that gale you hoped we should escape,
and no mistake about it," said Tom Pim; "but the old barkie rides
easily, and the wind must blow a good deal harder than it does yet to
hurt her."

"But we can't say that it won't blow harder, youngster," said
Nettleship, who was much graver than usual.  "To my mind the weather
looks as threatening as it well can be, and those in authority would
have shown more wisdom had they waited till the equinox was over to send
us to sea.  Just look round; now did you ever see a wilder sky?"

Nettleship was right.  The clouds were rushing madly on overhead, while
to the southward and east it had a peculiarly angry appearance.
Foam-capped waves were tossing and tumbling, the spoon-drift flying off
their heads covering the ocean with a sheet of white, while a lurid
light occasionally gleamed forth from the point where the sun was going
down, tinging for a moment the crests of the seas and here and there a
tossing ship on which it fell.  The sea with thundering blows struck our
bows and washed along our high sides, the blocks rattled, the wind
whistled in the rigging, the masts groaned, the bulkheads creaked.  We
had to speak at the top of our voices to make each other hear, while the
lieutenants had to shout their loudest through their speaking-trumpets
as they issued their orders.  We were the leewardmost of the men-of-war
who were in sight, the merchantmen scattered around, all pitching and
rolling together, in a way which threatened to send their masts
overboard.  The latter we could see had now a yard, now a topmast
carried away, but as far as we could make out, no great damage had been
done.  Each dog-watch the pumps were manned.  Their clanking was heard
amid the uproar as night closed in.  My old shipmates and I had to keep
the morning watch, so as soon as the hammocks were piped down, we turned
in to get some sleep first.  Seldom that I had my head on the pillow
many seconds before my eyes closed, but this night the fearful uproar,
the violent swinging of my hammock, and the plunges which I felt the
ship making, kept me awake.  My watch below seemed twice as long as
usual.  At length I heard eight bells strike.  I turned out, and with my
two messmates went on deck.

"Things haven't mended since sundown," observed Nettleship, as he, Pim,
and I were together on the quarter-deck.

Indeed, the wind was howling more furiously than ever, and the big ship
plunged and rolled in a way which made it difficult to keep our feet.

"We've plenty of sea-room, that's one satisfaction, at all events," said
Nettleship.  "I shouldn't like to be on a lee shore on a night like
this."

"Faith, nor should I, unless there was a good harbour to run into," said
I.

"It must have a broad entrance, and be well lighted, then," he answered,
"or we shouldn't be much better off than we are at present."

Two--four bells struck in the morning watch, and there appeared to be no
improvement in the weather.  The captain and second and third
lieutenants came on deck, and, by the way they stood talking together, I
saw that they considered matters growing serious.  The pumps were kept
going twice as long as usual.  Six bells had just struck, when there
came a sound like thunder breaking over our heads.  Looking up, I saw
the mainsail aback.

The captain shouted out, "Man the clew garnets, let fly tacks and
sheets;" but the words were scarcely out of his mouth before the ship
heeled over, with a suddenness which nearly took us all off our feet.

There was no need for the officers to cry out, "Hold on for your lives."
We struggled to windward, grasping whatever we could clutch.  More and
more the ship heeled over; then there came another loud report, the
mainmast went by the board, the fore-topmast fell over the starboard
bow, and the next instant the mizzenmast was carried away half up from
the deck, while the sound of repeated blows which came from the
after-part of the ship, showed us that the rudder had been wrenched from
the pintles, and was battering away under the counter.  All these
accidents happened in such rapid succession that it was impossible to do
anything to avert them.  The utmost vigilance was required to save
ourselves from being crushed by falling yards and blocks, while cries
and shrieks arose from many of our poor fellows, some of whom had been
struck down, and others carried overboard, vainly endeavouring to regain
the ship.  Suddenly she righted, with a violence which tore away the
guns from their lashings, and jerked the shot out of the lockers.  The
captain, not for a moment losing his self-possession, shouted to the
crew to clear away the wreck of the masts,--himself, axe in hand,
setting the example.  Before, however, many strokes had been given, the
sea came roaring up astern, and, bursting into the captain's cabin,
swept everything before it.  The doctor, purser, and several other
officers who had remained below, came rushing up, some only in their
shirts and trousers, others in their shirts alone, believing very
naturally that the ship was going down.  Tom Pim and I, with the other
midshipmen, were exerting ourselves to see that the men obeyed the
orders received.  I met Larry, axe in hand, chopping away vigorously at
the shrouds.

"Ah, then, Mr Terence, things have come to a bad pass, I'm after
fearing," he exclaimed.  "Will you be letting me keep by you, if you
please?  If the ship goes down, I'd like to see how we could save
ourselves on a boat, or a raft, or one of the masts, if we can't get
into a boat."

"If it comes to that, Larry, I'm afraid we shall have little chance of
saving our lives," I answered; "at all events, however, I should like to
have you near me."

I can scarcely find words to describe the fearful condition of the ship.
Gun after gun broke loose, crushing several of the men against whom
they were cast; shot, hove out of the lockers, were rolling about
between decks, injuring many others.  The water from below rushed from
side to side, making a clean sweep of everything it encountered, doing
almost as much mischief as the seas which broke aboard on the upper
deck.  The officers who had last come from below were unable to return,
and stood shivering in their scanty clothing, no one having even a coat
to spare.  While some of the crew were clearing away the masts, which
were striking with every surge against the ship's side, tearing off the
copper, and, as the oakum washed out, increasing the leaks, others,
encouraged by their officers, were labouring at the pumps, while a third
party was endeavouring to bale out the water with buckets.  I didn't
expect to see another dawn; but the morning came notwithstanding, and a
fearful sight it presented to us.  Away to leeward we discovered the
_Canada_, with her main-topmast and mizzenmast gone.  The flag-ship,
more to windward, seemed in no better condition.  The _Glorieux_ had
lost her foremast, bowsprit, and main-topmast.  The _Ville de Paris_
still proudly rode the waves, as far as we could judge, uninjured, yet
ere long she was to share the fate of many others, for after that day
she was never again seen, and must have foundered with all her crew.  Of
the merchantmen several had already gone down, others had lost many of
their spars, and some their masts, while out of the whole fleet not
twenty remained in sight.  Not far off from us lay a large ship on her
beam-ends.  Nettleship pointed her out to me.  "Poor fellows, they're
worse off than we are," he said.  The crew were attempting to wear her.
First they cut away the mizzenmast, then shortly the mainmast went;
still she lay helpless.

"See, she's hoisting the ensign, Union downwards," said Nettleship.
"It's her last despairing signal for help."

No help could any one give her.  We watched her for a few minutes, when
her stern rose, the sea rolled up and plunged into it; down she went,
the fly of her ensign the last object visible.

She was the _Dutton_ formerly an East Indiaman, and then a storeship.
Her fate might soon be ours.

"Some of her poor fellows have escaped," cried Nettleship.

He pointed out to me a boat under sail, not far from where the _Dutton_
had foundered.  We watched the boat.  Now she was hid from sight in the
trough of the sea, now she rose to the summit of a billow.  Still it
seemed impossible that she could escape being swamped.  Yet on she went,
driving before the gale.

"That boat is well handled, or she would have been under water before
this time," observed my messmate.  "What she can do others can do, and
some of us may have a chance for our lives if our old ship goes down.
Paddy, my boy, if that happens, do you try and get aboard a boat.
You're young, with a good chance of promotion.  I'm old, and have none;
and I should like to have you and Tom Pim save yourselves."

"But I can't go without Larry," I answered; "and you too, Nettleship, if
you have any hope of a boat living in this sea, you must try to get
off."

He shook his head.

"No, no, Paddy.  I have long made up my mind for the worst, and am ready
for it.  I should be thankful, though, to see you and Pim escape, and
your honest fellow, Larry.  There are two or three boats still
uninjured.  It's a pity that the lives of some of us should not be
saved, if we can but manage to launch them."

While he was speaking I was watching the progress of the _Dutton's_
boat.  First she steered for a ship some way to the eastward, but those
on board at length saw that they should have to haul up to reach her,
and again she kept away for a large merchantman to leeward.  Presently
the boat ran alongside the merchantman, from whose deck a number of
ropes were hove into her, and the men, clutching them as the boat surged
by, were hauled up, and, as far as we could see, none were lost, though
the boat herself almost immediately rilled and disappeared.  In other
directions most melancholy spectacles met our sight.  The whole sea was
literally covered with pieces of wreck and human beings clinging to
them, among whom we observed several women lashed to spars or gratings,
probably by brave fellows who themselves had perished after in vain
attempting to preserve those they loved.  No help could be given to the
unfortunate wretches; and even had we been able to haul some who came
near us on board our ship, it would only have been to prolong their
lives for a few short hours.

Our captain and officers were making all possible efforts to save our
ship, but from the first, I suspect, they must have seen they were
hopeless.  Every possible weight was got rid of.  The anchors were cut
away; then the upper deck guns were hove overboard, though the operation
in itself was a dangerous one, for, after the gun tackles were cut
loose, there was the risk of the guns upsetting and crushing those
standing near.  All this time the pumps were being worked.  The captain
ordered all hands not otherwise engaged to bale, and we were formed in
gangs to pass the buckets up and down and along the deck.



CHAPTER NINETEEN.

THE WRECK OF THE "CERBERUS."

We were thus employed when the carpenter came to the captain with
consternation in his countenance, and told him that the pumps would no
longer work, for, the shot-lockers being destroyed, the shot as well as
the ballast had got into the well, and completely choked it up.

"Well, my lads," cried the captain, "we must try what baling will do,
and lightening the ship by every means in our power."

Those who had been working at the pumps, and some others, were now
divided into gangs under different officers, and were employed in
getting rid of the heaviest things which could be reached.  Some hove
the guns overboard, others got up the weightier stores, the boatswain's
party being engaged in chopping up the cables and throwing them into the
sea.

While my messmates and I were hard at work with the rest, I saw the
captain beckon Nettleship to him.  They talked for a minute or more.
Directly afterwards Nettleship came to where Tom and I were at work with
Larry and some of the men.  "The captain has given me charge to try and
save some of you youngsters," he said.  "Life is sweet, and I won't deny
that I am glad to have the chance of preserving my own with honour.  You
tell Tom Pim and your boy Larry.  I'll speak to some of our other
messmates, and try to pick out a few trusty men who I know are cool
hands, and we will try and get a boat into the water.  It will be no
easy matter,--it may, I warn you, hasten our deaths; but the captain is
satisfied that the ship can't float many hours longer.  He argued the
point, and showed me that if we don't get off as he directed, we shall
not escape at all, as numbers will be rushing for the boats when they
discover that the ship must go down."

Matters were growing rapidly worse.  Even now I don't like to think of
that dreadful night which followed.  When morning broke, the number of
ships in sight had much diminished.  The sea raged as furiously as ever,
the wind blew with fearful force.  All hands had been toiling away.
Nearly every one began to see that our efforts had been in vain.  A loud
noise was heard like that of an explosion coming from far down in the
depths of the ship.  The carpenter reported that the water in the hold
had blown up the orlop deck.  It was very evident that the ship was
settling down.  Many of the men who had been looked upon as the bravest
now gave way to despair, and went below, crying out to their messmates
to come and lash them into their hammocks.  Other stout fellows were in
tears as they thought of their country and those dear to them, whom they
were never to see again.  Some, though they must have known it would be
of no use, were lashing themselves to gratings and small rafts, which
they had formed of spars.  Larry wanted me to do the same.

"Shure, Mr Terence, you and Mr Pim and I will be able to manage a raft
between us, and we'll get aboard one of the ships in better plight than
we are," he said.

I pointed out to him the distance the ships were from us, and the
impossibility of reaching one of them.  Some of the poor fellows
launched their rafts overboard, but were quickly swallowed up by the
sea.  Even the lieutenants went below; and, strange as it may seem, few
of the men remained on deck.  Tom Pim and I, however, kept together,
with Larry, who would not leave me.  Presently Nettleship came up.

"Now is our time, lads, if we're to save our lives.  I have spoken to
those whom the captain named, but none of them will come.  They shake
their heads, and declare it useless."

One of the quarter boats still remained uninjured.  We went to her and
found six of our men, one of whom was Larry, standing by the falls ready
to lower her.  Nettleship told us to jump in, there was not a moment to
be lost.  We found that he had put masts, and sails, and oars, and
provisions aboard.  Waiting till a sea surged up alongside, he and the
men sprang into her.

"Cut, cut!" he cried.

The next instant I found that the boat was some fathoms from the ship.
All was done so rapidly, and it seemed only by a miracle we got clear,
that I can scarcely explain how it happened.  I looked around, when what
was my dismay to find that Tom was not with us.  Looking up, I saw him
on the deck.

"Leap! leap!" shouted Nettleship, though in the uproar his voice could
not have been heard so far.  Next instant Tom was in the water, striking
out towards us.

"We have already as many aboard as the boat will carry," cried some of
the men.

What we had been about had been discovered by our unfortunate shipmates,
who were now crowding to the side and shouting to us to return.  Several
in their fear leaped into the sea, but immediately disappeared.  I
caught sight of one head still above water.  It was Tom Pim.

"Oh, take him in--take him in!"  I cried out.

The men were getting out the oars.  We were still, it must be
understood, under the lee of the ship, or we should instantly have been
swamped.

"We must have that lad aboard," exclaimed Nettleship sternly.  "I'll not
try to save you if you desert him."

Tom struck out bravely.  Larry and I stretched out our arms, and,
catching hold of him, hauled him on board the boat.  Several others, now
leaping into the water, tried to reach us, but, had we attempted to save
them, we should to a certainty have perished together.

Nettleship sprang aft to the helm.

"Now, lads, step the mast and hoist the sail," he shouted.  "Get out the
starboard oars."

In another instant the boat was before the wind, a cable's length from
the ship.  We could scarcely believe that we were saved; indeed, every
moment it seemed as if the fierce foaming seas would break aboard us and
send us to the bottom.  I could not resist still looking at the ship,
nor could Tom Pim.  He presently exclaimed--

"There's another boat being launched."

We both saw her for a moment, but she presently disappeared.

"She's gone," cried Tom.

"No--no, there she is," I exclaimed, as I caught sight of her on the
summit of a sea, and again she sank out of view.  As far as I could make
out, there were several people in her, but she had no sail hoisted, and
consequently in those foaming seas rising up between us was scarcely
visible.

We ran on, steering to the southward.  Most of the hands were employed
all the time in baling out the water, while Nettleship's whole attention
was engaged in steering the boat, for he well knew that with the
slightest want of care she would have filled in an instant.  It seemed a
wonder, indeed, that she could float in the midst of those foaming seas.
Tom and I still kept looking at the ship.

"She is sinking lower and lower," said Tom.

I hoped that he was mistaken, and that she appeared to be so only
because we were getting farther from her.

Not many minutes afterwards, as I looked, a huge sea rolled up towards
her.

The next instant Tom cried out, "She's gone!"  I rubbed my eyes.  The
foaming waters raged over the spot where the old _Cerberus_ had floated;
and I knew too well that every one of our helpless shipmates had
perished, unless the other boat had got safely off.  Their fate might be
ours before long, we all knew, though we did not despair.

Nettleship's first care was to see what provisions we had got.  We found
that we had but two quart bottles of water, a bag of biscuits, a small
ham, a single piece of pork, and three bottles of French cordials.
These he had placed in the stern-sheets, that they might be kept dry,
and that none of the men might be tempted to take more than their share.
We might be days, or even weeks, before we were picked up or reached
land.  Nettleship pointed out to us the importance of husbanding our
stores.  The afternoon was far gone before we left the ship, and night
was now approaching, while the gale had shown no signs of abating.

Humanly speaking, our lives depended on Nettleship's steering.  There
was everything to try the skill and nerves of a man; but it was
difficult in the darkness to watch the seas coming up so as to avoid
those likely to break aboard.

He sat in the stern-sheets like a figure of iron, his countenance fixed,
his eyes turned now ahead, now on one, now on the other side.  He seldom
spoke, for his attention was occupied with the task he had undertaken.
Older seamen had given in, while his courage and resolution had remained
unshaken.

I had always liked him, ever since I joined the _Liffy_, but now I
admired and respected him above all men, barring my uncle the major, who
would, I am sure, have acted in the same way, though he might not have
had the nautical skill to steer the boat.

"Stretch yourselves as best you can, youngsters, in the stern-sheets,
and go to sleep," said Nettleship; "I intend to steer till daylight, and
then let either Hunt or Ray (they were two quartermasters) take the
helm."

"But I don't like to leave you without company," I said.

"Don't trouble yourself about that, Paddy," he answered; "the seas are
my company, and precious rough company they are too; they'll prevent me
nodding."

He laughed at his own remark.

At last Tom and I did as he advised us; indeed, we couldn't keep our
eyes open longer, for we had had no sleep, lashed as we had been to the
bulwarks on the previous night.

We both of us slept on right through the night.  I awoke with a weary
heart-sinking feeling.  Dawn was already casting a grey light over the
still troubled ocean.  Clouds hung thickly overhead; the seas seemed to
reach them as they rose up on either side.

There sat Nettleship, wide awake, his hand on the tiller, his eyes
wearing a pained expression, as well they might, looking round watching
the waves as they hissed up, threatening to overwhelm us.  No one was
speaking.  Most of the men sat with their arms folded and their heads
bent down, still fast asleep.  I believe that Nettleship had been the
only one awake among us during the night.

"The wind has fallen, and the sea has gone down considerably, Paddy," he
said, looking at me.  "Cheer up, lad; we shall save our lives after all,
I believe."

Tom, hearing him speak, awoke.

"I wish you would let me take the helm, Nettleship," he said.

"No, no, Tom!  The responsibility is too much to impose on you; I'll let
Hunt steer presently."

First one man woke up, then another, and another; but they all looked
round with lack-lustre eyes and gloomy countenances.  After some time,
Tom shouted out that there was a break in the clouds to the eastward.

Just then a ray of bright light streamed across the ocean, tinging the
foam-topped seas with a ruddy hue.

"It's the harbinger of better weather," I said.

"You're right, sir," observed Hunt.  "It will be our own fault if we
don't manage to keep the boat afloat."

I saw Nettleship for the first time showing signs of sleepiness.  He
aroused himself for the moment, and called to Hunt to take the helm.
The quartermaster stepped aft, and Nettleship, resigning his seat to
him, a moment afterwards was fast asleep.

The men now cried out that they were very hungry, and Pim and I agreed
that it would be better to serve out some food without awaking
Nettleship.  We gave each man a biscuit and a small piece of ham.  The
neck of a broken bottle was the only measure we had for serving out the
water.  The quantity was but just sufficient to moisten our lips, but
not to quench our thirst.  The men asked for more, but Tom told them
that until Nettleship awoke he couldn't give them any.

Though the weather was moderating, the wind went down very slowly, and
the seas tossed and tumbled with almost as much violence as before.  It
was noon when Nettleship awoke.  He approved of the allowance Tom and I
had served out.

"But, my lads," he said, "you see these two bottles of water.  We don't
know how long we may have to go before we get more, so you must make up
your minds to do with the allowance you have already had to-day.  I'll
take no more."

He then told Tom and me to give him what we had given the rest; and,
after eating the biscuit and bit of ham, he drank the bottle-neck full
of water.  My own sensations made me hope that we should not have many
days to live on so small an allowance.  Still, though my throat felt
like a dust-bin, I determined to support Nettleship, and I knew Tom
would do so, in whatever he thought necessary.  We ran on all day, the
wind going down very slowly.  At noon, Ray took the helm.  Whether he
steered with less care, or, as I think, the seas broke in a different
way, two in succession came aboard, and we had to bale as fast as we
could, to get the water out of the boat.  As it came in, it washed right
aft and wetted through our bag of biscuits, which Tom and I in vain
tried to save.  Nettleship didn't blame Ray, but warned him to be more
careful.

"I intend to steer to-night," he said, "so I'll finish out my snooze,
and call me at sundown."

Both Hunt and Ray asked him to let them steer during part of the night,
but he was firm.

"No," he answered; "your lives are entrusted to me, and it's my duty to
keep at the helm while there's most likely to be danger."

Tom and I, however, determined to have our eyes open, so as to make
company for him during part of the night, which, it being summer time,
was fortunately not long.  Had it been in the winter, none of us could
have survived.  Nettleship appeared to have completely recovered
himself.  I sat up through part of the night, and Tom through the
remainder.  We talked cheerfully and hopefully.  When I lay down, I
slept as soundly as I ever did in my bed.  Towards morning, I suppose it
was, I dreamed of the various scenes I had gone through since I came to
sea, among others of the earthquake at Savannah, and then I was looking
out into the barrack-yard, and there was Larry fiddling away, with
soldiers and blacks dancing to his music,--everything seemed so vivid
that I had no doubt about its reality.  Then Mr Talboys and Lucy and
Captain Duffy came in and joined in the dance.  I thought it very good
fun, so I ran down and began to dance, and who should I see but the
admiral and captain and old Rough-and-Ready, each with a black partner,
and there we were jigging away right merrily, till I awoke, to find
myself in the stern-sheet of the boat, and to see Nettleship steering,
while the notes of Larry's fiddle sounded in my ears.  There, sure
enough, he was, seated on the after-thwart, with the fiddle at his chin,
working away with right good-will.  I sat up and looked at him with
amazement.

"Shure, Mr Terence, I wasn't going to leave that behind after it had
been saved from fire and water, so I took it into the boat the first
thing, and Mr Nettleship gave me leave to play it, just to cheer up he
boys a bit."

The music had certainly had that effect, for all the people wore more
cheerful countenances than they did the day before.  Larry, however, put
his fiddle back in its case while breakfast was served out.  It
consisted only of wet biscuit, a modicum of ham, and a small taste of
liquor.  The water Nettleship said he should keep till mid-day, to serve
out with the pork.

The sea was still rough, though there was much less than on the previous
day, and careful steering was necessary to keep the boat free from
water.  As there was nothing for the men to do, Nettleship advised us to
spin yarns and sing songs in the intervals of Larry's playing.  He was
ready enough to go on moving his bow as long as he had leave.

During the day the clouds cleared away, and the sea went down still
more.  We were thankful for this, as we could now dry our clothes, and,
what was of more importance, our biscuits, and move about in the boat to
stretch our limbs.  But then, again, with a calm we might be delayed,
and, after all, perish from hunger and thirst.  Nettleship, I daresay,
thought this, but notwithstanding cheered us up with the hopes of
reaching land or being taken on board some vessel.  Next night passed
much as the others had done.  The sun rose in a clear sky, and as it got
above the horizon the wind dropped, and there appeared every likelihood
of a perfect calm.  Our scanty provisions were served out, and then
Nettleship, as he had done the day before, set us to spinning yarns and
singing; but even those who had the best voices could scarcely bring out
a note, and several appeared but little inclined to talk.  Larry,
however, kept his fiddle going, and Tom and I talked, and tried to draw
out the men to tell something about themselves.  At last my throat felt
like a dust-bin, and I suspect the rest were very much in the same
condition.  There we were, floating out in the Atlantic, hundreds of
miles away from help, as far as we could tell, and the calm might
continue after the gale for a week or more.  At last Nettleship ordered
the men to get out the oars.

"We may pull into a breeze, lads, perhaps," he said.  "At all events, we
shall get so much nearer land."

Tom and I each took an oar to encourage the rest, half of us pulling at
a time.  We had been at the oars for some five or six hours, when
towards evening, Nettleship, who had been standing up shading his eyes,
said--

"Lads, there's a sail in sight; she has a light breeze, and is standing
to the northward.  We shall, I hope, get up to her; but mark you, she
may be English, but she may be French, and in that case we shall be made
prisoners."

"That won't be much odds," said one of the men; "better be made
prisoners than die of hunger and thirst out here."

That was true enough, but I didn't like the thoughts of the alternative.
When Nettleship, however, said that he was determined to try and come
up with the stranger, the men bent to their oars.  Tom and I, at the
time, were now pulling, and I was surprised to see the strength the men
still possessed.

Gradually the stranger's topgallant-sails, and then the heads of her
topsails, rose above the horizon.

"She's a large ship, no doubt about that," said Nettleship.  "Cheer up,
lads! my belief is she's English, but we shall be better able to judge
when we see her courses."

We were now steering west-and-by-north, so as to cut her off.  After
going some distance, Nettleship called to Tom Pim to stand up in the
stern-sheets, and take a look at the stranger.

"What do you think of the cut of her canvas, Tom?" he asked.  "Is that
English or French?"

"I should say English," answered Tom, "but we must get nearer to be
certain."

"Have you made up your minds to a French prison, lads, if we're
mistaken?" again said Nettleship.

"Better a French prison with food and water, than out here starving to
death," answered the men.  "And we'll ask you, Mr Nettleship, for a
drink of water apiece.  We'll get aboard her before dark, and our
throats are terribly dry."

"I warn you, lads, that a breeze may spring up, and that even now we may
miss her; and what shall we do if we have no water left?" said
Nettleship.

Still the men cried out for water.  I could judge how my companions felt
by my own sensations.  Nettleship reluctantly served out a double
allowance, leaving scarcely a quarter of a bottleful,--the other had
before been exhausted.  The sun was sinking low, and we had not yet seen
the hull of the ship.  Nettleship looked more anxious than before.  The
men strained every nerve, for they believed that their lives depended on
their getting up to the ship before dark.

Some of them now called out for food, and declared that they could pull
no longer without it; others asked for the remainder of the water.

Accordingly, while one half rested, Nettleship served out a portion of
our remaining stock of provisions.  The other half then took a meal.
This, however, only made us all more thirsty, and again the cry rose
of--

"Water! water!  We must have it, or we shall have to give in!"

Nettleship seemed to think that it would be useless to resist their
entreaties, and with a look of desperation he divided the remainder of
the water, leaving not a drop at the bottom of the last bottle.

Rapidly the sun sank towards the horizon.  In a short time it would be
dark, and we should have no chance of being seen from the ship.  The men
cried out for the remainder of the liquor, saying that they could pull
all the better if they could get it.  This, also, to my surprise,
Nettleship served out to them,--the bottle-neck full to each of us, for
we all shared alike,--and again they pulled as lustily as before for a
short time; but we all felt our thirst increased.  Few of them spoke;
but Larry every now and then gave a shout, or made some comic remark to
encourage his companions.  Nettleship also did his best to keep up our
spirits.

Darkness, however, was fast approaching; the wind appeared to be
freshening, and, should a strong breeze fill the stranger's sails, all
hope of getting alongside her before she passed us would be lost.  Not a
word was now uttered; but every now and then the men turned their heads
to ascertain what progress we were making.

Nettleship now steered the boat rather more to the northward.

Presently a light streamed out towards us across the water.  Again our
hopes of getting on board increased.  The wind once more dropped.

"We shall reach her, lads!" cried Nettleship at length, in a confident
tone.

The men cheered, though their voices sounded husky, the ring of a
British seaman's voice sadly wanting.  They pulled bravely on, however.

The light rose higher above the surface.  It was now almost ahead.  Then
another streamed forth from a port.  Presently Nettleship's voice rang
out clear and loud--

"Ship ahoy!  What ship is it?"

"His Britannic Majesty's ship _Hector_.  What boat is that?" came over
the water.

Nettleship replied.

Presently the order sounded out from aboard the ship--

"Raise tacks and sheets! clew up mainsail and foresail!  Let fly
topgallant-sheets!"

The wind having fallen, the ship soon lost her way, and we pulled up
alongside.  A light gleamed through the entrance port, and ready hands,
coming down, quickly assisted us up on deck, while the boat was secured,
for none of us had much strength left to help ourselves.

Nettleship, Tom, and I were at once conducted to the upper deck, where
we found the gallant commander of the _Hector_, Captain Bouchier, to
whom Nettleship at once gave a brief account of what had happened.

"We have reason to be thankful that we escaped the gale, Drury," said
the captain, turning to an officer in a captain's uniform standing near
him.  "We should to a certainty have shared the fate of many others."

Captain Bouchier made this remark, I found, in consequence of the
unseaworthy condition of his ship.  To enable her to perform the voyage,
before she sailed from Jamaica she had had twenty-two of her guns taken
out of her, and her masts replaced by others of smaller dimensions.  Her
crew amounted in all to scarcely three hundred men, many of whom were
invalids, and others French and American prisoners, who had volunteered
to assist in working the ship.

As soon as Nettleship had finished his account, the captain directed
that we should be taken below, and hammocks slung for us.

"I would advise you to turn in, young gentlemen, as soon as you have had
some food," he said, as we were leaving.

He also ordered that our boat's crew should be well looked after.  The
surgeon, who was summoned, went to attend to them, and to prevent them
from being overfed, or overdosed with grog, which to a certainty they
would otherwise have been by the seamen of the ship.  As I was going
down to the orlop deck, Larry came aft, supported by two men, with his
fiddle-case under his arm.

"Och, Mr Terence," he said, "I'm mighty glad to find ourselves safe
aboard a big ship again, and to see you all right.  It is more than I
thought to do since our own went down with all her brave boys, barrin'
ourselves."

The doctor, finding that we did not require much of his assistance,
attended to Larry and the other men, who appeared far more knocked up
than we were, and they were at once sent to their hammocks.  We were
ushered into the gun-room by the master's mate, who accompanied us.
Here we found a number of midshipmen seated at a table, employed in
various ways.  They greeted us warmly, and were all eager to know our
adventures, which we told them while discussing the meal placed before
us.  Scarcely, however, had I finished eating, when my head dropped on
the table, and there I should have sat, had not one of the
assistant-surgeons aroused me and advised me to turn in.  I slept on, as
did Nettleship and Tom, till the hammocks were piped up next morning,
and, if left alone, should not have awoke for hours afterwards.

We all three, though still weak, felt pretty well able to get about, and
were in reality in a better state than many of the officers and men, who
were suffering from the effect of the West Indian climate.  I never saw
so pale and haggard a crew.  We were treated with the greatest kindness
by our new messmates, and Nettleship was asked into the ward-room, to
give a further account of what had happened to us.  We had indeed ample
reason to be thankful for our preservation, when so many on board our
own and other ships had perished.

In a couple of days we were as well as ever, and, as many of the mates
and midshipmen were too ill to do duty, we were directed to take their
places.  Larry, as usual, made himself at home with his fiddle, and soon
set the seamen and French prisoners jigging away, as he had done on
board other ships.

We were standing on with all the canvas the battered old _Hector_ could
carry, with the wind from the southward, when the look-out aloft
announced two sail away to leeward.  One of the lieutenants, with his
telescope on his back, immediately went to the main-topmast cross-trees
to have a look at them.

"As far as I can make out, they are two frigates, sir, coming up before
the wind," he said to the captain when he came down.

"Are they English or French?" asked the captain.  "According to my
judgment, sir, they are French," was the answer.

The captain took a few turns on deck, and then again sent aloft.  The
lieutenant, on his return, pronounced his opinion more decidedly that
they were French, and both large frigates.  The captain on this ordered
the drum to beat to quarters, and the usual preparations were made for
battle.  Evening was approaching, and it might be well on in the night
before the enemy could be up to us.

Although the _Hector_ was a 74-gun ship, she in reality only carried
fifty-two guns, and, from her battered condition, was not fit to cope
even with a single frigate.  Still our brave captain determined to
struggle to the last.  She being a heavy sailer, the two frigates came
rapidly up with us, and there was no doubt from their appearance that
they were enemies, although we could not as yet see their ensigns.  All
doubt on that score was dissipated, when, in a short time, French flags
were run up at their peaks.  The prisoners were accordingly ordered
below and placed under sentries, while the captain went along the decks
encouraging the men.  They received him with cheerful countenances as he
appeared, promising to do their best to beat the enemy.  I asked
Nettleship what he thought would be the result of the contest.

"Heaven only knows!" he answered; "but there's one thing, I'm certain
that our fellows will fight to the last.  I never saw a crew, though so
many of them are sick, more resolute or full of pluck."

The leading frigate, now coming up on our starboard quarter, opened
fire, and we, luffing up, returned it with our aftermost guns.  She then
ranged up abeam, while her consort placed herself on our larboard
quarter, so that we could not luff up again without being raked by the
other.  We, however, could fight our starboard broadside, and
occasionally could bring some of our larboard guns to bear on the enemy
on that side.  We could now see that each frigate mounted forty guns,
their decks being crowded with men; indeed, they together mustered more
than double our complement.  These were fearful odds, but Captain
Bouchier and his crew seemed in no way daunted.  The men ran the guns in
and out as fast as they could load them, but the enemy's shot came
crashing aboard, committing fearful havoc in all parts of the ship.  The
French must have known, from our smaller masts and spars, that we were
likely to be short-handed, and also soon discovered the small number of
guns we carried.

Though I saw numbers struck down around me, I never for one instant
thought of myself or expected to be killed.  The surgeons below soon had
their hands full, as one poor fellow after another was carried down to
the cockpit.  The dead were left where they fell, for all were too busy
to remove them.  The enemy generally fired at our hull rather than at
our spars.

I was standing near Nettleship, when I heard him exclaim--

"Here comes one of them alongside us."

I looked out of a port, and there saw the frigate on the starboard beam
dropping so close that I could distinguish the countenances of the
people on her deck.

Presently the voice of the captain sounded loud and clear--

"Boarders! repel boarders!"

Our crew, leaving the guns on the starboard side, seized their weapons;
some stood armed with cutlasses and pistols, others with pikes, at the
place where the Frenchmen were likely to try and gain a footing on our
deck.  Our larboard guns were still replying to the fire of the frigate
on that quarter; but she now making sail, ranged up alongside,
receiving, however, a heavy fire from our guns as she did so.  A large
body of her men, with the soldiers, stood on the forecastle, ready to
leap aboard.

"You must drive those fellows back," cried Nettleship.  "Come on, my
lads," he shouted to such of the men as were near him, among whom was
Larry.  Tom also, who saw what we were about, quickly joined us.

Just as the first Frenchman sprang on to our deck, Nettleship's sword
cut him down.  Others, however, followed, but our men fought
desperately.  Though the enemy came rushing on board, not an inch of
ground did they gain.

Presently, a big fellow--the boatswain, apparently, from his dress--
joined his shipmates, and attacked Nettleship.  I saw another close
behind him, aiming a pistol at his head.  I sprang forward and knocked
it up just as it exploded, and the next moment dealt the Frenchman a
blow on his sword arm, which saved Nettleship's life.  The fellow whose
pistol I had knocked up, however, had his cutlass uplifted to strike me
down, when Larry, who was by my side, parried the blow with his cutlass,
and, though he got a severe wound, he brought the man to the deck by a
blow which he gave the next moment.  Others of our crew now coming to
our assistance, we drove back the enemy, who had nearly gained a
footing.

The fight all the time was going on fiercely on the starboard side, and
we could not tell whether the Frenchmen were getting the best of it.

As we had begun the action with but three hundred men, many of whom had
been killed or wounded, and invalids who had scarcely strength to handle
their weapons, and the French had upwards of six hundred, it might be
seen that our chance of success was very small indeed.  Our men,
however, fought with the most desperate courage.  Captain Bouchier, with
Captain Drury--who was a passenger--and several of the lieutenants,
headed the men on the starboard side in repelling the enemy; while the
master and two of the other lieutenants and the purser encouraged those
on our side of the deck.

Directly the Frenchmen had been driven back, the second lieutenant,
calling off a portion of the men, hurried to the guns, when their
thundering roar, with the crashing sounds which followed, showed us that
their shot were creating a dire effect on the bows of our antagonist.
All this time a withering fire of musketry had been kept up on us from a
body of troops stationed on the forecastles of the French frigates, and
many of our poor fellows had been struck down.

Again and again the Frenchmen attempted to gain a footing on our deck,
some springing down from the fore-rigging, others clambering up from the
forecastle, and all the time the guns roaring, the musketry and pistols
rattling, the cutlasses clashing, the men shouting and shrieking, while
the ships surged against each other with tremendous crashes,--many of
the Frenchmen who were driven overboard being crushed to death between
them.  This continued, not for the few minutes which it has taken me to
describe the scene, but for an hour or more, and it seemed sometimes
that all the three ships must go down together.

Our marines were not idle, for some stationed on the forecastle, and
others on the poop, kept up a hot fire on the enemy.

At length our ship tore herself from her two antagonists almost at the
same moment; and they apparently gave up all hopes of taking us by
boarding, as they didn't attempt again to come close alongside, though
their fire was even more destructive than at first, for now one passed
under our stern and raked us, now the other performed the same
manoeuvre; while we, with our braces shot away, our masts and yards
injured, and our sails shot through and torn, were unable to move with
sufficient swiftness to avoid them.

Already numbers of our men had fallen.  I frequently looked round to see
how it fared with Larry, Tom Pim, and Nettleship, and was thankful to
find them still actively engaged at the guns, at which most of the
officers were assisting the men.



CHAPTER TWENTY.

OLD ENGLAND AGAIN.

Occasionally, as the French ships were manoeuvring, alternately passing
either ahead or astern of us, there was a cessation of firing, but it
was only for a short time.  Again their shot came crashing aboard.

I observed Captain Bouchier not far from me, when, just as we were
receiving a raking broadside, he staggered, and would have fallen to the
deck, had not the purser sprang forward and caught him.  Directly
afterwards, the latter, summoning two men, the captain was carried
below.

On this, Captain Drury, shouting, "Keep at it, my lads!  We'll beat them
off yet!" took his place, and issued the necessary orders.

Again the Frenchmen ranged up as before,--one on our beam and the other
on our quarter,--and made another attempt to board.  Captain Drury,
leading our men on the starboard side, while our first lieutenant
commanded those on the other, drove them back, many falling dead on our
deck and others overboard.  In a few minutes we again separated.

For four hours the action had continued (it appeared to me to be much
longer), when, as the smoke from the guns cleared away, I saw that day
was breaking.

As it showed the enemy more clearly than before our shattered and weak
condition, I could not help fearing that they would again renew the
attack, with every prospect of success.

From the numbers of the poor fellows who had been carried below wounded,
and the many who lay stretched dead on the deck in all directions, I
fancied that we must have lost half of our crew, while it seemed to me
that at any moment our shattered spars would come tumbling down on deck.
The fore-topmast hung over the bows, the main-yard was nearly cut in
two, and not a sail remained whole.  Still Captain Drury and the other
officers went about encouraging the men to persevere.

When daylight increased, however, and we saw our two antagonists in
comparison to our ship but slightly injured, we knew how desperate was
our condition, yet our men stood sturdily to their guns, and blazed away
as they could be brought to bear.

While watching the two frigates, I observed signals exchanged between
them, and almost immediately afterwards, to our astonishment, they
hauled their tacks aboard, and stood away from us.  Our nearly exhausted
crew, on seeing this, cheered again and again.

"We must not be too sure that they don't intend to come back again when
they have repaired damages, and renew the fight," said Nettleship to me.

"We will hope for the best, and if they do, try to beat them off again,"
I answered.

"That's the right spirit, Paddy," said Nettleship.  "Please Heaven, we
shall do so."

"Hurrah! hurrah!  We've licked the Frenchmen," I heard Larry shouting.
"Give them another cheer, boys!  Hurrah! hurrah!" and the men round him
joined in his hurrahs.

The men were still allowed to remain at their quarters, for it was yet
difficult to say what the enemy would do next.  We watched them
anxiously, for even the most fire-eating of our men had no wish for more
fighting, as by no possibility could we hope to capture either of the
frigates.  When some way astern they joined company, and we saw them
standing to the westward.  They got farther and farther off, and
gradually their hulls sank below the horizon.  We were now ordered to
secure the guns.  This done, the dead hove overboard, and the decks
washed down, all hands were employed in knotting and securing the
running and standing rigging, and strengthening the wounded spars.  I
asked one of the assistant-surgeons, who came on deck to get a little
fresh air, if he knew how the captain was going on.

"He has a desperate wound in the arm, but is likely to do well," he
answered.

He told me, besides, that there were six-and-twenty wounded men below,
while nineteen had been killed.  From the number of shot the Frenchmen
fired at us, I supposed that we had lost many more.  A large proportion
of the shot, however, had flown over our heads, and injured only our
sails and rigging.  The ship was but partially put to rights when
another night closed in.  I found it difficult enough even during my
watch to keep my eyes open, and the moment I turned in to my hammock I
was fast asleep.  I suspect that all on board, both officers and men,
were equally drowsy.  I had not to turn out again till the hammocks were
piped up.

When I came on deck I found that the weather had changed.  Dark clouds
were rushing across the sky, the sea had got up, and the ship was
rolling and pitching into it.  The wind was from the southward.  Two
reefs had been taken in the topsails, but from the way the ship heeled
over it was evident that she had more canvas on her than she could
carry.

Captain Drury had just come on deck.

"We must shorten sail," he said to the first lieutenant.

"Hands aloft," he shouted.

Just at that moment, as the men were about to spring into the rigging, a
tremendous blast struck the ship, and over she heeled.

"Up with the helm!" cried Captain Drury.

The ship did not answer it, but heeled over more and more.  I thought
she was about to share the fate of the _Cerberus_, The moment afterwards
a heavy sea came roaring up, a succession of crashes was heard, the
masts went by the board, and she rose on an even keel, the wheel flying
round and sending the men at it across the deck.  The rudder had been
carried away, and the ship lay a helpless wreck on the stormy ocean.

The men looked at each other, with blank dismay in their countenances,
but our brave commander did his best to conceal his anxiety, and the
officers followed his example.

"Clear away the wreck, lads; the gale won't last long, and when the wind
goes down we must try to get up jury-masts and repair the rudder," he
cried out.

All hands were now employed in trying to save some of the spars, and to
cut the masts clear, for their butts were striking with fearful force on
our larboard side, already shattered by the shot of the enemy.  While we
were thus employed, the carpenter and his mates, who had been below,
came on deck, and went up to the captain.  I saw by his looks as he
passed me that something was the matter.  Directly afterwards the order
was given to man the pumps, and they were set clanging away as fast as
they could be made to work.  The quantity of water gushing out showed
that the ship must be leaking at a rapid rate.  There was so much work
to do that but few words were spoken.  I happened to meet Larry.

"Cheer up, Mr Terence," he exclaimed.  "Things look mighty bad; but
though our ship went to the bottom we were saved, and I'm after hoping
that we'll be saved again.  It would be hard to have beaten the enemy
and yet to lose her."

"I don't expect that we shall do that," I answered.  "The wind is fair
for Nova Scotia, and when we get up jury-masts and rig a new rudder, we
may be able to get her along."

Though I said this, I confess that I was not very sure about it.  Things
didn't improve.  The sea increased, the wind blew stronger and stronger,
and though the pumps were kept going without cessation, we could not get
the water under.  It came in faster and faster.  The reports from the
sick bay were also disheartening.  Several of the poor fellows who had
left their hammocks to fight had since succumbed, and many others were
following them.  The wounded, who might have done well under other
circumstances, dropped off one by one.  The only satisfactory
intelligence was the state of the captain, who, though so badly wounded,
was progressing favourably.  The day after the gale commenced ten men
died, and the following a still larger number.  It was sad to see them
lashed in their hammocks as they were slid overboard.  There was no time
for any funeral ceremonies.  Even the healthiest among us looked pale
and broken in spirits.  On the fourth or fifth day, I think it was, from
that on which the gale commenced, the purser's steward, on getting up
provisions, found that the salt water had spoiled all the bread, while
many of the casks with fresh water had broken loose and their contents
were lost.

To try and stop the leaks, Captain Drury ordered the only spare mainsail
to be fothered and drawn under the ship's bottom.  To prepare it a
quantity of oakum was spread over the sail, and stitched down by the
sail-makers, thus forming what seemed like an enormous mat.  This was
lowered over the bows, and gradually hauled under the ship's bottom,
where the leaks were supposed to be the worst.  We all looked anxiously
for the result.  Though, in addition to the pumps, a gang of men were
set to bale, the water still continued to gain on us.  In spite of this,
neither officers nor men appeared to lose heart.

"The gale will come to an end some day," cried Captain Drury, "and we
must keep the ship afloat till then.  We should be cowards to give in."

He did his best to speak in his usual cheery tone, but even his voice
was more husky than usual, and it was easy to see that he didn't say
what he thought.  At last many of the men were seen to desert the pumps.

"Come, Paddy," said Tom Pim, "we must not let them do that.  You and I
will take their places and shame them back."

We turned to, and worked away till our arms ached.  "Spell ho!" we
cried, and, catching hold of two men, we dragged them back to the pumps.
Nettleship did the same with others.  The lieutenants were constantly
going about trying to keep the crew at work.  Some of them behaved
exactly as those aboard the _Cerberus_ had done before she was lost, and
were about to lash themselves into their hammocks.  The first lieutenant
and the boatswain, going round, quickly routed them out, and they
returned to their duty, either to pump or bale.

The carpenter and his mates, assisted by the boatswain, were attempting
to get at the leaks, but even they at last abandoned their efforts on
finding them hopeless.

Captain Drury, who had been to visit Captain Bouchier, now returned on
deck, and ordered the guns to be hove overboard to lighten the ship.
All hands not engaged in pumping were employed in this duty.  One by one
they were sent plunging into the sea, and the big seventy-four was left
at the mercy of the smallest privateer afloat.  This gave the ship
relief, and our hopes rose of saving her.  Of late we had been on the
smallest possible allowance of water, and now, to our dismay, the purser
announced that the last cask was expended.  Nor could wine or spirits be
got at owing to the quantity of water in the hold.  We had beef and
pork, but the bread was all spoiled; thus, even should we keep the ship
afloat, we ran the risk of dying of hunger and thirst.  Of the crew of
the _Hector_, which had consisted of three hundred men when my
companions and I got on board, nearly one hundred had been killed in
action, or had since died, and still others were dropping off fast.

Day after day went by.  We had known when in the boat what it was to
suffer from thirst, but I now felt it more severely.  Even Nettleship
owned to me that he didn't think he could get through another day.

"I don't know whether either of us will survive, Paddy," he said, "but
if you do, I want you to write to my mother and sister, who live near
Plymouth, to tell them what happened to me, and that I thought of them
to the last; and should be thankful if you could just get some one to
let the Admiralty know that Jack Nettleship did his duty while life
remained."

I tried to cheer him up, at the same time promising to carry out his
wishes if I should survive him.  I fancy a good many, both of officers
and men, were feeling as he did.  Still, no one I saw showed any signs
of cowardly apprehension.  Our chief work was now to keep the men at the
pumps and baling.  It was only by the constant efforts of the officers
that they could be induced to remain at their stations; and when "Spell
ho!" was cried, and a fresh gang was ordered to take their places, the
people relieved staggered away, and fell down on the deck like drunken
men.  The others, after labouring away for some time, relaxed in their
exertions.  Nettleship and I were standing near, occasionally taking a
turn to help them.  One poor fellow fell down.  We ran forward to lift
him up, but he was dead.  We could only just drag him out of the way and
call to another to take his place.  Before many minutes were over
another fell in the same way, dying at the post of duty, as heroically
as if he had been standing at his gun.  One of the lieutenants, who just
then came up, called the surgeon to examine them.  He came at once, but
his efforts proved ineffectual to restore the men, and they were soon
sent to join a number of their shipmates in their ocean grave.  Two or
three others, I heard, died in the same manner, when I was not present.
The gun-room had become uninhabitable from the water washing through it.
We had to move up to the ward-room.  The deck below us was fast
sinking.  The carpenter reported that some of the beams of the orlop
deck had fallen into the hold, though they must have done so gradually,
for we had heard no sound to account for what had taken place.  Indeed,
the loud noise of the seas beating against the ship, and the water
washing about in the hold, prevented any noises except the loudest from
being heard.  We all now knew that the ship was sinking.  Only by the
greatest exertions could she be kept afloat to prolong our lives for a
few hours.  Still no one talked of giving in.

Captain Bouchier, wounded as he was, got up and went about, encouraging
both officers and men.  The spirit he and Captain Drury displayed
encouraged us all.  For three days we had none of us tasted a drop of
water or spirits.  We could judge by our own sufferings the fearful
agonies the sick and wounded must be enduring.  Not one would have
survived, had not the surgeon discovered a few bottles of claret, which
the captain insisted should be reserved for them, and though he required
it as much as any one, he would not touch a drop himself.

The third day since the water had been exhausted came to an end, and few
of us expected to see another sunrise.  That night was a dreadful one.
The loud lashing of the sea against the side, the creaking of the
bulkheads, the ominous sounds which came from the depths of the ship,
the groans and cries of the sick and dying, heard at intervals, the
ceaseless clanging of the pumps, rang in our ears as we lay, during our
watch below, on our damp beds extended on the ward-room deck.  The
night, however, did come to an end, and we found ourselves still alive,
though the ship had evidently sunk lower since the previous day.  I
joined Nettleship on deck, for we naturally kept together as much as we
could.  I found that the wind was still blowing strongly, and the sea
running high, although it had lately somewhat gone down.  Nothing could
be seen around but the leaden-coloured foaming seas rising and sinking
between us and the horizon.  On comparing notes, my two messmates and I
agreed that we didn't suffer nearly so much from thirst as we had done
in the boat.  Such provisions as could be got at were served out, but
none of us cared much for food, though we ate what we could to keep up
our strength.  We were soon summoned to watch and assist the men at the
pumps and buckets, for even now, not for an instant were they allowed to
relax in their exertions.  Captain Bouchier, weak as he was, went
frequently amongst them.

"Keep at it, my lads!" cried Nettleship; "while there's life there's
hope.  If we can keep the ship afloat for a short time longer, it may
make all the difference whether we save our lives or perish.  Cheer up,
lads, cheer up!  Show that you're British seamen to the last!"

The men uttered a faint cheer when the captain, leaning on the purser's
arm, returned.

Captain Drury, who had fought the ship so bravely after Captain Bouchier
was wounded, was the life and soul of all on board.

Noon had passed, and still the stout ship lay rolling in the trough of
the sea.  Inch by inch the water was rising, and we knew that if we were
to cease pumping and baling, it would gain upon us still more rapidly.

Already despair could be seen on nearly every countenance.
Notwithstanding, few, if any, flinched from their work.  Those who
spoke, talked of home and friends whom they never expected to see again.
Some shook hands, believing that at any moment the ship might make the
last fatal plunge, and sink beneath the waves.

Larry was now like my shadow, wherever I went, he followed, no one
preventing him, except when he had to take his turn at the pumps or
buckets.

Some of the officers had written letters addressed to friends or
relatives, and were enclosing them in bottles headed up in small casks,
so that some record might be preserved of our fate.  Nettleship had
prepared one.

"Have you anything to say to your friends at Ballinahone, Paddy?" he
asked.

"Yes; beg your mother to write to them, and say that I send my love to
all, not forgetting my uncle the major, and that I have been thinking
much of them to-day," I answered, as well as I could speak with the
choking sensation in my throat.

"And please, Mr Nettleship, may I be so bold as to axe you to put in a
word about Larry Harrigan, and to say that he stuck to Mr Terence to
the last, and that if he couldn't save him, it wasn't the will that was
wanting, but the cruel say was too much for us at last."

"And put in a word to my family,--you know their address," said Tom;
"just my love, and that I was thinking of them.  They'll know that I was
likely to have done my duty as far as I could, so I won't trouble you
with a longer message."

Just as Nettleship had returned to the gun-room to add the messages to
his letter, there came a shout from the poop--

"A sail! a sail!"

Many of the officers rushed up to take a look at her.  Tom Pim and I
followed them.  We could make her out clearly,--a small vessel, right
away to windward.  The question was whether she would see us.

Captain Drury also had his telescope on her.

Now she was hidden by the seas which rose up between us; now she came
clearly into view, her hull almost visible.

"She's standing this way," said Captain Drury, "and I believe has made
us out, but of that we can't be certain.  However, we must not relax in
our efforts to keep the ship afloat, for it may be many hours before we
can get aboard her."

I should have said that we had had a spar secured to the stump of the
mainmast, to which an ensign with a jack downwards had been nailed from
the first, in the hopes of attracting the attention of any passing
vessel.

Captain Bouchier, who had been informed that a sail was in sight, now
came up to have a look at her, but almost immediately went down again
among the men.

"Lads," he said, "your exertions will be rewarded, I hope; but you must
not slacken in them, or your labours may be thrown away.  We may keep
the ship afloat many hours longer if you bale and pump as sturdily as
heretofore.  By that time the sea may have gone down, and we may manage
to get aboard the vessel in her boats, though she probably will not
venture alongside."

The men received his address with a faint cheer, and turned to again at
the pumps, while those employed in baling passed the buckets to and fro
with greater alacrity even than before.

I occasionally ran up on deck to see how near she was getting.  I know
my heart bounded when I saw the English flag flying out at her peak.
She appeared to be a good-sized merchantman, a "snow," and I heard some
of the officers who had been looking through their glasses say that she
had guns aboard.

On hearing my report when I returned, some of the men burst into tears,
others shouted for joy and shook each other by the hand, believing that
our deliverance was near.

Night was now coming on.  The sea still ran too high to allow of boats
laden with men to pass from one vessel to the other.  For the same
reason it was impossible for the stranger to come near enough to take
any of us off.  Many would very probably perish in the attempt, even if
the snow should escape being hove against us and stove in.

Again I ran up.  All those on deck were now stretching out their hands
towards her.  She came close enough for the voice of her captain--who
stood on the poop--to be heard through his speaking-trumpet.

"I'll stay by you during the night," he shouted.  "The sea is going
down.  In the morning I'll take you off,--please God."

The last words reached us as the stranger surged by, close under our
lee.  She then hove-to at a safe distance.  Eager eyes were turned
towards her before the light altogether faded away, and many looked as
if they were tempted to leap overboard and swim to her.  Thirsty,
hungry, and weary as we were, we would gladly have knocked off baling;
but the captain wisely ordered us to keep at it as long as we remained
on board.

"You can't tell, my lads, when the bucketful will leak in that will send
her to the bottom," he said, and the men again turned to.  He ordered,
however, the carpenter to patch up such of the boats as could be made
serviceable enough to float even for a short time, so that they might be
employed in carrying us aboard the snow.  Without the masts the launch
could not be got off the deck, but we had three other boats fit to be
repaired; all the others had been completely knocked to pieces.  No one
slept at all events during that night, for we were all kept spell and
spell at the pumps and buckets.  The certainty that relief was at hand
if we kept afloat, inspired us with renewed strength.  When morning
dawned the snow came as close as she could venture.  Three of her boats
approached and pulled towards us.  The order was now given for the men
to prepare for leaving the ship.  Sentries were placed at the gangways
to prevent any crowding in till they received the order to go down the
side, but this was unnecessary.  The few survivors of the sick and
wounded were first lowered into the boats, with the surgeons to attend
them.  The boys and midshipmen were then ordered to go down the side,
the names of all being called in succession.  As soon as the snow's
boats were filled and had pulled away, ours were lowered.  Tom Pim and I
went, with Larry, in one of them, Nettleship having charge of her.  I
looked up at the old ship.  She seemed to be settling fast.  The water
came out of the scuppers, showing that, according to the captain's
orders, the hands were still at the pumps.  There was no hurry, yet all
was done rapidly.  The moment we shoved off our crew gave way, and we
were soon aboard the snow.  While Nettleship returned for more men, Tom
and I stood watching them anxiously.  It seemed even now that before
they could escape the ship would go down.  Though the sea had much
decreased, there was no little danger, while the boats were alongside
the _Hector_, of their being swamped.  As fast as they could the boats
went backwards and forwards, taking their cargoes in through the lower
ports.  I saw Captain Drury and the first lieutenant pressing Captain
Bouchier to leave the ship, but in spite of his wound he insisted on
remaining to the last.  Our men, as they arrived, stood watching the
ship from the deck of the snow, and gave a cheer as they saw him
descending, the last man, into the cutter, for they knew that not a soul
was left on board the gallant _Hector_, Scarcely had the captain been
helped up the side, than we saw the ship's head begin to sink.  Lower
and lower it went, then down she plunged, her ensign flying from the
spar secured to the stump of her mainmast, streaming upwards, alone
showing us the spot where she was sinking into the depths of the ocean.
A groan escaped from the breasts of many of those who had long sailed in
her.  We found that we were on board the _Hawk_ snow, a letter-of-marque
belonging to Dartmouth, Captain John Hill, and bound from Lisbon to
Saint John's, Newfoundland.  When Captain Bouchier expressed his
gratitude to the master for receiving him and his people, the reply
was--

"Don't talk of it, sir; I'm but doing my duty.  I would wish to be
treated the same way by others."

Besides his own crew of five-and-twenty men, he had now two hundred of
the _Hector's_ on board.  We had brought neither provisions nor water,
and were still many a long league from our port.  The _Hawk_ had
fortunately hitherto had a quick passage.  We had, therefore, more
provisions and water on board than would otherwise have been the case.
Still two hundred mouths in addition was a large number to feed, yet
neither the captain nor his ship's company grumbled or made the
slightest complaint.  To stow us all away was the difficulty.  To solve
it, the captain at once ordered his men to heave overboard the more
bulky portion of his cargo.  His owners, he said, would not complain,
for he himself was the principal one, and he trusted to the justice of
his country to replace his loss.  We were, of course, put on an
allowance, but after the starvation we had endured, it appeared
abundance.  Even when the cargo had been got rid of it was unpleasantly
close stowing for most of us, but we had great reason to be thankful to
Heaven for having escaped with our lives.  The officers and crew of the
_Hawk_ treated us with the greatest kindness; most of our poor fellows,
indeed, required help, and were unable to move about the deck by
themselves.  The wind, however, continued fair, and those who had
abundant sleep recovered their spirits.  Still several died, worn out by
fatigue and sickness.  We were safe for the present, and we did not
allow ourselves to recollect that another gale might spring up before we
could reach Saint John's, to which port we were bound, or that contrary
winds might keep us from our port, and that, after all, we might perish
from hunger and thirst.  I was talking of what we should do when we got
ashore.

"Wait till we are there, Paddy," said Nettleship.  "I don't say that we
shall not reach it, but we may not.  That noble fellow, Hill, knows that
such may be the case as well as I do; and I admire his calmness, and the
care he takes not to show us that he fears he and his people may suffer
the fate from which they rescued our ship's company.  You see they are
all put on the same allowance that we are, yet not one of them
complains."

I heartily agreed with him.  Shortly afterwards I asked Nettleship what
he had done with his letter.

"I left it in the cask aboard, Paddy," he answered.  "So in case we're
lost, our friends will know our whereabouts, though they'll not hear of
our being rescued, and the chance we have had of escaping; but that
won't matter much, though I should like to have made Hill's conduct
known."

Never, perhaps, did seamen watch the weather more anxiously than we did.
Our lives, as far as we could see, depended on the winds.  Already the
stock of provisions and water was getting low, and it was necessary to
diminish the allowance of both.  Still the crew of the _Hawk_ would only
receive the same quantity that we did.  The sun rose and set, and again
rose, and we sailed on.  Mr Hill met us each morning at breakfast, his
honest countenance beaming with kindness, and jocularly apologised for
the scantiness of the fare.  Even he, however, one morning looked grave;
the wind had fallen, and we lay becalmed.  He had good reason to be
grave, for he knew what we did not, that he had only one cask of water
left, and provisions scarcely sufficient for a couple of days.

"I have come away without fish-hooks," he observed.  "If I had had them,
gentlemen, I might have given you cod for dinner; and I promise you I'll
never be without them again, when I make this voyage."

"Then I only hope, captain, that you'll take us up again if we happen to
have our ship sinking under us," I said, at which there was a general
laugh.

As we had nothing else to do, all hands employed themselves in whistling
for a breeze.  Just before the sun again rose, a cheering shout was
heard from the masthead--

"Land! land!"

In a short time the rocky coast of Newfoundland rose on the larboard
bow, and we stood along to the northward for Saint John's harbour, on
the east coast.  Before evening we were passing through the Narrows, a
passage leading to the harbour, with perpendicular precipices rising to
a considerable height on either side.  Passing under Fort Amhurst, a
voice came off hailing--

"Where are you from?  What length of passage?"

The answer announcing, "We have on board the officers and crew of H.M.S.
_Hector_," evidently caused considerable excitement, and signals were
made to a post on the top of a lofty hill on the right side, whence the
information was conveyed to the town.

Before we dropped our anchor, the last cask of water was emptied, the
last particle of food consumed.

The moment we brought up, the vessel was surrounded by boats, the news
of our arrival having preceded us.  Before landing, all the officers
again expressed their thanks to our gallant preserver, who, I hope,
received the reward he so well merited, from our Government, we
ourselves being unable to offer him any.  None of us, indeed, had more
than the clothes we wore, and a few articles we had been able to carry
off with us from the wreck.

We were received with the greatest kindness and hospitality by the
inhabitants of Saint John's.  Nettleship, Tom, and I were lodged
together in the house of a merchant, whose wife and daughters, pitying
our condition, did everything they could to restore us to health.
Certainly we were very unlike the gay midshipmen we appeared when we
sailed from Jamaica.  Both the young ladies were very nice girls; but
Tom confided to me that his heart had become hard as adamant since
Lucy's cruel treatment of him.

"It will soften by and by, Tom," I answered, laughing, though I could
not say that I felt mine inclined to yield to their attractions.

We agreed, however, that Nettleship, as we thought, would knock under.
What might have been the case I don't know; but as soon as the men had
somewhat recovered from their hardships,--there being no man-o'-war
likely to call off the place,--the captain chartered two merchant brigs
to convey himself and the survivors of the _Hector_ to Halifax, Nova
Scotia, whence he expected to get a passage home for us to England.
Nettleship, Tom, and I, accompanied by Larry, had to go on board the
_Jane_, one of the vessels, of which Captain Drury went in charge; while
Captain Bouchier, though still not recovered from his wound, went in the
other, the _John Thomas_.

I did not mention it at the time, but Larry had managed to save his
riddle uninjured when he left the _Hector_, and his appearance with it
under his arm afforded no small amount of satisfaction to the crew of
the _Jane_.

The _John Thomas_ proved a much faster sailer than the brig, and soon
ran ahead of us.  We had just lost sight of Cape Race when a sail was
made out, standing towards us from the southward.

"I don't like her looks," observed Nettleship to me, as she approached.
"I shouldn't be surprised if she proves to be a French privateer."

The captain appeared to be of this opinion, for, after: examining the
stranger through his glass, he ordered all the sail we could carry to be
set, and stood away right before the wind, to the north-west.  The
stranger, however, came up with us hand over hand.  In a short time the
French ensign was seen blowing out at her peak, leaving no doubt as to
her character.

"We must not be taken, lads.  I trust to you to fight to the last,
before we strike our flag," cried the captain.

The crew cheered, and promised to do their best.

The _Jane_ had six nine-pounders, while the enemy carried twice as many
guns, evidently of much heavier metal.  As a few men only were required
to work them, the captain ordered the rest to go under shelter.  Tom and
I were among those ordered below.  In a short time we heard our guns go
off, and the shot of the enemy came rattling on board.  Presently there
came a crash, and we guessed that the privateer had run us alongside.

"On deck, lads!" cried the captain.  "Boarders, repel boarders."

At the summons we eagerly rushed up through every hatchway, to see a
number of Frenchmen swarming on board; but they didn't get far beyond
the bulwarks before they were driven back, we in return boarding them.
Tom and I led our men into the fore part of the vessel.  More and more
of our fellows followed.  The Frenchmen gave way, some leaped below,
others ran aft, where they encountered Nettleship and his party; in less
than five minutes the privateer was ours, and Larry, shouting--

"Wallop-a-hoo-aboo!  Erin go bragh!" hauled down her colours.

The enemy had so completely been taken by surprise, that they had
offered but a slight resistance, and few, therefore, had lost their
lives, while we had only half a dozen wounded.  Captain Drury, with
two-thirds of our men, went on board the prize, retaining the larger
number of our prisoners; while Nettleship, Tom, and I remained in the
_Jane_, with orders to follow close astern.

"We must take care, Paddy, that our prisoners don't play us the same
trick yours played you," said Nettleship.  "They would like to try it,
no doubt."

We had thirty prisoners to look after.

"I'll take remarkably good care that they don't do that," I answered;
"and to make sure, it would be as well to keep them in durance vile till
we reach Halifax."

The Frenchmen grumbled at finding that they were to have their arms
lashed behind them, and be kept below under charge of a couple of
sentries.  They were somewhat more contented when we fed them carefully,
and told them that it was because we considered them brave fellows, and
felt sure that if they had the opportunity they would take the brig from
us, that we were obliged to treat them so unceremoniously.  Fortunately
the wind held fair, and we had a quick passage to Halifax, where we
arrived before the harbour was frozen up.  Of course we gained great
credit for our last exploit at that favourite naval station.

We found the _Maidstone_ frigate just about to sail for England, on
board of which all who were well enough were ordered home.  We were
pretty considerably crowded, but we were a merry set, and had plenty to
talk about.  The midshipmen of the _Maidstone_, which had been for some
time at Halifax, spoke warmly of the kindness they had received, and of
the fascinations of the young ladies of the place, except an old mate
and an assistant-surgeon, who declared that they had been abominably
treated, and jilted by half-a-dozen whose hearts they thought they had
won.

Old Grumpus, the master's mate, was especially bitter.  "Look here," he
said, producing a sketch which he had made.  "See these old ladies
seated on chairs on the quay, watching their daughters fishing.  There
are a dozen girls at least, with long rods and hooks, baited with all
sorts of odds and ends.  And see what sort of fish they're after,--naval
officers--marine officers--and of all ranks, from an admiral down to a
young midshipman.  And there's a stout dame--she can't be called a young
lady exactly--casting her hook towards a sturdy boatswain.

"`Look here,' one of them cries out, `mother, mother, I've got a bite.'

"`Play him, my dear,' cries the mother, `till you see what he is.'

"`Oh, mother, mother!' she cries out presently, `I've caught a
midshipman.'

"`Throw him in, my dear, he's no good,' answered the old lady.

"Presently another sings out, `Mother, I've got a bite.  I'm sure it's
from a lieutenant, from the way he pulls.'

"`Let him hang on a little, my dear,' says the mother; `may be if you
see a commander or a post-captain swimming by, you may cast him off, and
hook one of the others instead.'

"Presently a fourth cries out, `Oh, mother, I've hooked a captain!'

"`Run, Jane, run, and help your sister to land him,' cries Mrs
Thingamebob; and just see the way they're doing it, so as not to
frighten him, and make him turn tail.

"At last another shouts, `Mother, I've hooked a master's mate.'

"`Then go and cut the line, Susan.  Don't let Nancy land that brute, on
any account.  He's the worst of the lot.'

"And so it goes on," exclaimed old Grumpus.  "However, to my mind
they're all alike.  Why, while we have been there a dozen officers from
different ships have been and got spliced.  It's lucky for you fellows
that you were not there long, or you would have been and done it, and
repented it all your lives afterwards."

During the voyage old Grumpus brought out his sketch a score of times,
and repeated his story as often, with numerous variations, which
afforded us all much amusement.  He had anecdotes of other descriptions
without end to tell, most of them hingeing on the bad way the junior
officers of the service were treated.  He didn't say that most of those
junior officers were rough diamonds like himself, who would have been
much better off if they had not been placed on the quarter-deck.

We had a somewhat long and stormy passage, and were half frozen to death
before it was over, most of us who had been for years in the West Indies
being little prepared for cold weather.  We should have been much worse
off, however, in a line-of-battle ship, but in the midshipmen's berth we
managed to keep ourselves tolerably warm when below.  At length we
sighted the coast of Ireland.

"Hurrah, Mr Terence!  There's the old country," said Larry, throwing up
his hat in his excitement, and nearly losing it overboard.  "If the
captain would only put into Cork harbour, we would be at home in two or
three days, and shure they'd be mighty pleased to see us at Ballinahone.
What lashings of whisky, and pigs, and praties they'd be after eating
and drinking in our honour, just come home from the wars.  Och!  I wish
we were there, before a blazing turf fire, with the peat piled up, and
every one of them red and burning, instead of being out here with these
cold winds almost blowing our teeth down our throats."

The picture Larry drew made me more than ever wish to get home.  Not
that I was tired of a sea life, though I had found it a pretty hard one
in some respects; but I longed to see my father, and mother, and
brothers, and sisters again, and my kind uncle the major, as I had not
heard from them for many a long day.  Letters in those days were
conveyed to distant stations very irregularly.  I had only received two
all the time I had been away.  Indeed, friends, knowing the great
uncertainty which existed of letters reaching, thought it scarcely worth
while to write them.  We could just see the land, blue and indistinct,
over our larboard bow, when the wind veered to the eastward, and instead
of standing for Plymouth, as we expected to do, we were kept knocking
about in the Chops of the Channel for three long weeks, till our water
was nearly exhausted, and our provisions had run short.  There we were,
day after day, now standing on one tack, now on another, never gaining
an inch of ground.  Every morning the same question was put, and the
same answer given--

"Blowing as hard as ever, and right in our teeth."

We sighted a number of merchant vessels, and occasionally a man-of-war,
homeward-bound from other stations, but all were as badly off as we
were.

At last one morning the look-out at the masthead shouted, "A sail to the
eastward coming down before the wind."  It was just possible she might
be an enemy.  The drum beat to quarters, and the ship was got ready for
action.  On getting nearer, however, she showed English colours, and we
then made out her number to be that of the _Thetis_ frigate.  As soon as
we got near each other we both hove-to.  Though there was a good deal of
sea running, two of our boats were soon alongside her to obtain water,
and some casks of bread and beef, for, as far as we could tell to the
contrary, we might be another month knocking about where we were.  In
the meantime, one of her boats brought a lieutenant on board us.

"Peace has been signed between Great Britain and France," were almost
the first words he uttered when he stepped on deck.  "I can't give
particulars, but all I know is, that everything we have been fighting
for is to remain much as it was before.  We are to give up what we have
taken from the French, and the French what they have taken from us, and
we are to shake hands and be very good friends.  There has been great
rejoicing on shore, and bonfires and feasts in honour of the event."

I can't say that the news produced any amount of satisfaction to those
on board the _Maidstone_.

"Then my hope of promotion has gone," groaned Nettleship; "and you,
Paddy, will have very little chance of getting yours, for which I'm
heartily sorry; for after the creditable way in which you have behaved
since you came to sea, I fully expected to see you rise in your
profession, and be an honour to it."

"What's the use of talking to sucking babies like Paddy and Tom here
about their promotion, in these piping times of peace which are coming
on us," cried old Grumpus, "if we couldn't get ours while the war was
going on?"



CHAPTER TWENTY ONE.

FESTIVITIES AT HOME.

The news of peace was received perhaps with more satisfaction by the men
who had no promotion to look for, and who now expected to visit their
families, or enjoy themselves in spending their prize-money according to
their own fashion on shore.

Parting from the _Thetis_, we continued beating backwards and forwards
for another week, when the wind shifting suddenly to the southward, we
ran up to Plymouth, and at last dropped anchor in Hamoaze.  We lived on
board till the ship was paid off.  In the meantime, I wrote home to say
that Larry and I would return as soon as we could manage to get a
passage to Cork.  Tom Pim was uncertain of the whereabouts of his
family, so he also waited till he could hear from them.  Nettleship had
told us that his mother and sister lived near Plymouth, and he got leave
to run over and see them.

"It won't be a good thing for you youngsters to be knocking about this
place by yourselves," he said, on his returning; "and so, having told my
mother this, she has invited both of you, with Larry, to come up and
stay with us till you can go home.  You'll be much better off than in
lodgings, or stopping at an inn, even though you may find it somewhat
dull."

Tom at once accepted the invitation, and persuaded me to do so, though I
wanted to see some of the fun of Plymouth, which my other shipmates had
talked about.  I won't describe the scenes which took place on board,--
the noise and uproar,--the characters of all descriptions who crowded
the ship, eager to take possession of the sailors, or rather of the
money which lined their pockets.  I saw very much the contrary of fun in
it.  We had then a midshipman's paying-off dinner on shore, to which
some of the ward-room officers were invited.  The wine flowed freely.
Healths were drunk and sentiments given, and in a short time most of the
party became very uproarious, those who were sober enough on shore being
as bad as the rest.

"Come, Paddy," said Nettleship, "we have to get home to my mother's
house to-night, and I can't introduce you, remember, if you're not quite
yourself."

Tom Pim was ready.

"So am I," I said.  "I'll not take another drop."

Our intended departure being discovered, we were assailed with hoots,
and shouts, and groans.

"Never mind them," said Nettleship.  "If we were to be moved by that
sort of stuff, those very fellows would be the first to laugh at us
another day."

On seeing us gaining the door, several jumped up, intending to bring us
back.

"Run for it, Paddy; run, Tom," cried Nettleship.  "I'll guard your
retreat.  They'll not stop me."

"Hands off," he shouted, as Grumpus and some others attempted to seize
him.  "I have made up my mind to go, and go I will, though every one in
the room were to jump up and try to bar my passage."

Tom and I got safe into the street, where we were joined by Larry, who
had been waiting for us; and Nettleship came up, saying that he had got
clear off, at the cost of flooring two or three of his assailants.

"Not a satisfactory way of parting from old friends," he said, "but the
only one which circumstances would permit."

We at once set off, walking briskly, to get as soon as possible away
from the scene of our shipmates' revels.  We at length reached a pretty
little cottage, a short way out of Plymouth, where Mrs Nettleship and
her daughter received us in the kindest manner possible.  I was struck
by the appearance of the two ladies, so nicely dressed, and quiet in
their manners, while the house seemed wonderfully neat and fresh,
greatly differing from the appearance of Ballinahone.  It was the first
time in my life that I had ever been in an English house.  When
Nettleship talked of his mother's cottage, I had expected to see
something like the residence of an Irish squireen.  Both inside and out
the house was the same,--the garden full of sweetly-scented flowers, the
gravel walks without a weed in them, and the hedges carefully trimmed.
Then when Tom and I were shown to the room we were to occupy, I was
struck by the white dimity hangings to the beds, the fresh curtains and
blinds, the little grate polished to perfection, and a bouquet of
flowers on the dressing-table.  Tom was not so impressed as I was,
though he said it reminded him of his own home.  Miss Fanny was
considerably younger than Nettleship, a fair-haired, blue-eyed,
sweetly-smiling, modest-looking girl, who treated Tom and me as if we
were her brothers.

Nettleship and Tom accompanied me into Plymouth each morning, that I
might learn if any vessel was sailing for Cork, and thus be saved the
journey to Bristol, with which place and Ireland, as there was a
considerable amount of trade carried on, I was told that I should have
no difficulty in obtaining a vessel across.  I was so happy where I was,
however, that I was less in a hurry than might have been supposed.  I
had no want of funds for the purpose, for I had received my pay; and a
good share of prize-money for the vessels we had captured was also due
to me, though, as Nettleship told me, I must not count upon getting that
in a hurry.

At last, one morning, on going to a shipbroker, who had promised to let
me know of any vessel putting into Plymouth on her way to Cork, he told
me that one had just arrived, and would sail again in a few hours.  I at
once went on board the _Nancy_ schooner, and engaged a passage for Larry
and myself, and then hurried back to wish Mrs Nettleship and her
daughter good-bye.  My old shipmates returned with me, and Larry carried
our few traps over his shoulder, as I had not possessed a chest since
mine was lost in the _Liffy_.

"Good-bye, Paddy, old fellow," cried Nettleship.  "If I get appointed to
a ship I'll let you know, and you must exert your interest to join her;
and I hope Tom also will find his way aboard.  We have been four years
together without so much as a shadow of a quarrel; and if we were to
spend another four years in each other's company, I'm sure it would be
the same."

Tom merely wrung my hand; his heart was too full to speak.

"Good-bye, Mr Pim," said Larry, as the schooner's boat was waiting for
us at the quay.  "Your honour saved my life, and I would have been after
saving yours, if I had had the chance, a dozen times over."

"You saved it once, at least, Larry, when you helped to get me out of
the water as the boat was leaving the _Cerberus_ and I hope that we may
be again together, to give you another chance."

"There's nothing I'd like better.  May Heaven's blessing go with your
honour," said Larry, as Tom held out his hand and shook his warmly.

Our friends stood on the shore as we pulled across the Catwater to the
schooner, which lay at the entrance.  Directly we were on board she got
under weigh, and with a fair breeze we stood down Plymouth Sound.  She
was a terribly slow sailer, and we had a much longer passage to Cork
than I had expected.  We had no longer any fear of being snapped up by a
privateer, but, seeing her style of sailing, I hoped that we should not
be caught in a gale on a lee shore, or we should have run a great chance
of being wrecked.

Larry made friends with all on board, keeping them alive with his
fiddle, which he was excessively proud of having saved through so many
and various dangers.

"Shure, I wouldn't change it for all the gold in the _Ville de Paris_,
if it could be fished up from the bottom of the say," he exclaimed, "for
that couldn't cheer up the hearts of my shipmates as my old fiddle can
be doing.  Won't I be after setting them toeing and heeling it when we
get back to Ballinahone!"

At length our eyes were rejoiced by a sight of the entrance to Cork
Harbour, and the wind being fair, we at once ran up to Passage, where I
engaged a boat to take us to Cork.  As we had no luggage except what
Larry could carry, and he wouldn't let me lift an article, we proceeded
at once to the inn at which my uncle and I had put up.

I was just about to enter through the doorway, when I saw a tall figure
standing before me, not older by a wrinkle than when I, a stripling, had
last seen him, standing on the quay waving me a farewell; his hat and
coat, the curl of his wig, every article of dress, was the same.  For a
moment he looked at me as if I were a stranger; then, recognising my
features, though in height and breadth I was so changed, he stretched
out his arms, exclaiming--

"Terence, my nephew!  Is it you, indeed?" and embracing me, his feelings
overcame him, and he could say no more for some minutes.  "I came on the
chance of meeting you, though I knew not when you would arrive," he said
at length.  "I have been waiting day after day, every hour in
expectation of seeing you; but faith, when my eyes first fell on your
figure I forgot the change that four years would have produced in you,
and took you for a stranger.  And you have brought back Larry safe from
the wars?  Glad to see you, boy.  I thought you would be taking care of
the young master."

"Faith, your honour, I should have been mighty grieved at myself if I
hadn't done the best I could; and it's a pleasure to hand him back to
you, major, without a wound or a scratch, though the round shot and
bullets have been flying about pretty quickly round him; and we've
escaped from fire and hurricane, and shipwrecks and earthquakes, and a
mighty lot of other things besides."

"And you, uncle, don't look a day older than when I went away," I said.

"You must not trust too much to appearances, Terence," he answered,
shaking his head.  "The enemy has been sapping the foundations, though
he has not as yet taken the fortress.  I have a good many things to try
me.  Matters at home are not in a satisfactory state."

"It was about them all I was going to ask, uncle," I said.  "How are my
father and mother, the girls and the boys?"

"Your mother is not so strong as she was, though she bears up bravely;
but your poor father has greatly changed.  Though he has given up his
claret, he still sticks to his potations of rum shrub and whisky punch,
which are rapidly bringing him to his grave, though he won't believe it
Kathleen and Nora are married; Kathleen to Eustace Fitzgerald, and Nora
to Tim Daley.  I would rather they had found steadier husbands, but
they'll bring the boys into order, I hope, in time.  Your brother
Maurice got his commission soon after you left home, and, having seen
some service in America, has lately returned home on leave.  I was in
hopes that he would have fallen in with you.  Denis stops at home to
help me mind the house and keep things in order.  The rest have grown
into strapping lads, and it's time to be sending them out into the world
to seek their fortunes.  The Fitzgeralds and the Daleys are staying at
the Castle, and they'll be mightily pleased to see you.  We will start
to-morrow morning at daylight.  I brought horses for you and Larry, with
Tim Sweeney to look after them, for I suppose that Larry will scarcely
know the head from the tail of one by this time."

"Och, your honour, I'll soon be after remembering which is which when I
see the bastes again, though I haven't crossed a horse's back since I
left," said Larry, in answer to my uncle's remark.

"I'll trust you for that, my lad," said the major; "and now, Terence, we
will go in and order supper, and while it's coming, you shall give me an
account of your adventures."

I was soon seated before the fire, briefly describing what I had gone
through, in as clear a way as I could.  My uncle was deeply interested,
and constantly stopped me to put questions, when he did not clearly
understand my descriptions.  Even when we were at supper he made me talk
on, appearing scarcely to think about what he was eating, so eager was
he to listen to me.  He was much struck on hearing of Dan Hoolan's fate.

"I can't say the country is much the quieter, for unfortunately there
are too many boys of the same character to take his place," he remarked,
"but I hope we shall reach Ballinahone without meeting any of them."

At last, seeing that I was getting sleepy, he advised me to turn in, to
be ready to start in the morning.

Larry in the meantime had been well taken care of by Tim Sweeney,--
indeed, too much taken care of; for when he came into my room to see if
I wanted anything, he stood balancing himself with difficulty, and
talking away, until I was obliged to turn him out and bid him go to bed
as fast as he could.

The next morning we were on the road, the major sitting his horse as
firmly as ever; and indeed, except that we were going in an opposite
direction, I might have fancied, until I looked at Larry and felt the
change that had come over myself, that we were but continuing our
journey of four years back.

Having plenty to talk about, I rode alongside my uncle, Larry and Tim
following us, the latter listening with eager ears to the wonderful
accounts Larry was giving him.  We pushed on as fast as our horses would
carry us, but as the roads were none of the best, our progress was much
slower than I liked.

The afternoon of the second day my uncle proposed that, instead of
stopping at the village through which we were then passing, we should
push on to a little roadside inn, that we might be so much the further
on our way next morning.  It was almost dark when we arrived, but the
landlord, Pat Casey, who knew my uncle well, received us warmly,
promising to give us all the accommodation we could desire, and a supper
and breakfast not to be despised.  Pat at once fulfilled his promise by
placing some rashers of bacon and fresh eggs, and actually a white loaf,
which with several others he said he had received that morning, on the
table.

"I would be after having some tay for breakfast, but I wouldn't dream of
giving it to your honours for supper," he said, as he placed instead on
the table a bottle of the cratur, from which, he observed with a wink,
the revenue had not in any way benefited, while a bowl of smoking hot
potatoes formed the chief dish of the feast.  I remember doing good
justice to it, and was not sorry when my uncle proposed that we should
retire to our downy couches.  Unpretending as was the outside of the
inn, they were far superior to what I should have expected; mine was a
feather bed to which many hundreds of geese must have contributed, while
the curtains were of silk, faded and patched, to be sure, but showing
that they had come from some grand mansion.  I slept like a top, till my
uncle roused me up in the morning with the announcement that breakfast
was nearly ready.  To that I was prepared to do more ample justice than
I did to the supper.

"Come, Terence, let us take our seats," said my uncle.  "Biddy has just
placed the things on the table, and they will be getting cold."

The breakfast looked tempting.  There was a pile of buttered toast,
plenty of new-laid eggs, a beautiful griskin broiled to perfection, and
water boiling on the hot turf fire in a saucepan.  The teapot having
taken to leaking, as Biddy said, she had made the tea in the potheen
jug.  I was just about to follow my uncle's example, when there came a
rap at the outside door of the paved parlour in which we were sitting.

"Come in," said my uncle.

No one answered.

"Go and see who it is, Terence; maybe it's some modest fellow who
doesn't like to open the door."

No sooner had I lifted the latch than I felt a heavy shove.  The door
flew open, and before I could get out of the way, in rushed a huge sow,
knocking me over in a moment; and while I was kicking my heels in the
air, over my body came nearly a dozen young pigs, their amiable mother
making her way round the room, grunting, snorting, and catching the air
through her enormous proboscis.

"Jump up, Terence! jump up, or she'll be at you!" said my uncle, coming
to my assistance; but the sow was too rapid in her movements, and, ere
he could reach me, charged furiously at his legs.  Fortunately he
escaped her by springing with wonderful agility out of her way, and,
mounting on a chair, got up on the top of a chest of drawers, which
formed a convenient place of retreat.  In the meantime I got on my legs,
and, seeing the savage sow was inclined to attack me, I sprang on to the
chest of drawers, the only safe place I could discover.  Here we sat,
regularly besieged, for our weapons of offence and defence had been left
on the table.  The sow, seeming to know the advantage she had gained,
kept eyeing us savagely.  Indeed, unless we had thought it worth while
to run the risk of an attack from her, we saw that we must make up our
minds to remain where we were.  The louder we shouted for help, the more
enraged the sow became, thirsting, as we had reason to believe, for our
blood.  She was the lankiest, the tallest, and grisliest beast I ever
saw; her back, arching higher than a donkey's, resembled a rustic
bridge; her loose-flapping ears nearly hid her small sunken, fiery eyes,
their ends just covering one half of her mouth, which divided her head,
as it were, into an upper and under storey, clearly showing that she had
the means of taking a huge bite out of our legs, could she get at them.
Her tusks, like those of a boar, projected from under her nostrils, and
the ring and hook in her nose was a formidable weapon of offence, though
intended to prevent her from digging up the ground.  Her promising
family were not little pigs, but had nearly attained the age when they
would be turned out to shift for themselves, regular hobbledehoys of
swinehood.

After rampaging round the room, sniffing the air, and vainly attempting
to get at us, the sow ran under the table, which she unceremoniously
upset, when, with a peculiar grunt summoning her progeny to the feast,
she and they immediately commenced gobbling up our viands.  Seeing this,
I jumped down, intending to drive her away, but scarcely had I reached
the ground when she made so savage a rush at me that I was glad to
regain my former position.

"This is too bad," cried the major; and, slipping off the drawers, he
seized a chair, with the intention of belabouring our assailant, when
just at that moment one of the young pigs, of an inquisitive
disposition, hearing the bubbling water on the fire, attempting to look
into the pot, brought the scalding contents down upon itself.  On
feeling its tender bristles getting loose, it set up the most terrific
cries, louder even than the most obstinate of its race when the butcher
is making preparations for manufacturing it into corned pork.  The sow,
attributing the cries of her darling to some torture inflicted by us,
rushed to the drawers, making several savage attempts to rear up against
them so that she could seize us by the legs.  Every moment we expected
to be caught hold of by the hook in her nose, when we should have
inevitably been brought down.  In vain we kicked and stamped at her to
drive her off, while we shouted loudly for assistance.

As it turned out, Larry and Tim were in the stables attending to the
horses, while the landlord and his family, having performed, as they
supposed, all their required duties in attending on us, had gone to the
potato garden.  Not for some minutes did Pat hear our voices, and then
in he rushed, with astonishment depicted on his countenance.  Seizing a
stick, he began belabouring the sow, bestowing on her epithets
numberless and profuse.

"Och! the curse of Crummell light on you for a greedy old sow as ye
are," he exclaimed, whacking away at the creature, who didn't care for
his blows, though she dared not attack him.  At length Tim and Larry
came in, and, seizing the sow by the tail, attempted to drag her out;
she, supposing that they wanted her to go into the room, in the usual
swinish spirit of contradiction turned to snap at their legs, and,
followed by her hopeful progeny, bolted out of the door.  My uncle and I
burst into fits of laughter, though in reality it was no laughing
business as far as our breakfast was concerned.  Pat expressed his fear
that there was not another morsel of food in the house; however, Biddy
and her assistant, coming in from the potato garden, soon set matters to
rights, and put some water on to boil, hunted up some fresh eggs, and
produced another loaf.  We were too hungry to let them toast and butter
it, however.  We made a very good breakfast after all, our appetites
being sharpened by the exercise of our lungs, not to speak of the alarm
we had been in.  The occurrence delayed our departure till a later hour
than we intended, and we pushed on to try and make up for lost time.

I confess that I occasionally looked round, half expecting to see some
of Dan Hoolan's successors come out from behind the rocks or bushes, and
demand our valuables; but if any were lying in wait in the
neighbourhood, they probably thought four well-armed men too formidable
to be assailed, and we proceeded towards our journey's end without
molestation.  I had at first felt a sort of callousness about reaching
home, and should have been indifferent had any delay occurred; but as I
approached Castle Ballinahone I became more and more eager to be there,
and could scarcely restrain my feelings when I saw the towers rising
beyond the trees in the distance, and the Shannon shining brightly in
the rays of the setting sun.  My uncle and I gave our horses the rein,
and our two attendants clattered after us.  The gate of the park was
open, and as we dashed up the avenue at full speed, the sounds of our
horses' hoofs attracted the attention of the inmates of the castle.  The
door was thrown open, and my mother and sisters, and Maurice and Denis
and my two brothers-in-law, appeared on the steps, down which the
younger boys came springing towards us; while from the servants' wing
out rushed a whole posse of men and girls and dogs,--tumbling over each
other, the dogs barking, the girls shrieking, and the men shouting with
delight, as they surrounded Larry, and half pulled him off his horse.
Dismounting, I sprang up the steps into my mother's arms, where she held
me for some time before she was willing to let me go.  I received a
similar welcome from my sisters.  "You see I have brought him back safe
after all," said the major, benignantly smiling.  My hands were next
seized by my brothers and brothers-in-law, who wrung their fingers after
receiving the grips which I unconsciously bestowed upon them.

"And my father?"  I asked, not seeing him.

"He is in the parlour," answered my mother in an altered tone; and she
led me in.  He was seated in his wheelchair, a look of dull imbecility
on his countenance.

"What! are you Terence?" he asked in a quavering tone.  "Come back from
the wars, eh?  I suppose you are Terence, though I shouldn't have known
you.  We will drink your health, though, at supper in whisky punch, if
he'll let me have it, for we can't afford claret now,--at least so he
says, and he knows better than I do."

I was much pained, but tried to conceal my feelings from my mother,
though my father's changed appearance haunted me, and prevented me from
being as happy as otherwise would have been the case.  His state had
been that of many of his neighbours, whom he was fond of boasting he had
seen under the sod,--once fine intelligent men, who might have lived out
their natural course of years in health and happiness, with everything
to make their lives pleasant, had it not been for the drinking habits so
general among their class.  After the greetings with my family were
over, I went into the servants' hall to have a talk with the old
domestics.  Larry was in the height of his glory, just getting out his
fiddle to give them a tune in honour of our return.  They all crowded
round me, each eager to grasp my hand, and congratulate me on having
escaped the dangers of the wars.  I felt myself more of a hero than I
had ever done before.  The moment I retired I heard Larry's fiddle
going, and the boys and girls beginning to make use of their feet, for
it was impossible to keep them quiet while such notes sounded in their
ears.  After a visit to my chamber, which had long been prepared for me,
accompanied by Denis, who wanted to hear all I had got to tell him, I
returned to the drawing-room.  I there found the family assembled, fully
as anxious as my brother to have a narrative of my adventures.  My
mother, taking my hand, which she held in hers, led me to the sofa, and
fondly looked in my face as I described the battles I had been engaged
in and the shipwrecks I had encountered.  My uncle nodded approvingly as
I described the actions in which I had taken a prominent part.  My poor
father, who had been wheeled into the room, stared with lack-lustre
eyes, evidently only comprehending a portion of what I said.  The rest
of the family occasionally uttered exclamations of surprise and
astonishment, now and then putting questions to help me along, when I
stopped for want of breath or to recollect myself.  I had never in my
life talked so much at a stretch.

At last we went in to supper.  My poor father, lifting his glass with
trembling hands to his lips, drank my health.  My brothers-in-law,
Maurice and Denis, followed his example.  The major kindly nodded.

"You have done well, Terence, and I'm proud of you," he exclaimed; "and
though the war is over, I hope you'll still find means to climb up the
rattlings, as you say at sea."

Several neighbours looked in, hearing of my arrival, to congratulate me
and my family.  The whisky-toddy flowed fast.  I as usual drank but
little; in truth, I had no taste for the stuff, though probably it would
have grown upon me, as it does upon others.

My uncle looked at me approvingly.  "I'm glad to see, Terence," he said,
"that you possess one of the qualities of a good officer, and that even
when off duty you retain the habit of sobriety."

My brothers-in-law glanced at each other and laughed, but took care that
the major should not observe them.  The guests took no notice of my
uncle's remark, evidently intending to make the whisky punch flow
freely, the great object for which they had come.  Toasts and
sentiments, according to the fashion of the day, were given.  My father
tried to sing one of his old songs, but soon broke down.  Several of the
other gentlemen, however, took up his stave, and soon began to be
uproarious.  My mother on this got up, and beckoned to my sisters to
follow her.  They whispered to their husbands, who, however, only nodded
and laughed.  My uncle's object was rather to guide than to suppress the
hilarity, and when he observed anything like a dispute arising, he put
in a word or two nipping it in the bud in a calm, determined way, to
soothe irritated feelings.  In a short time Dan Bourke came in, and,
putting his hands on the back of my father's chair, said, "By your
leave, gentlemen, I'm come to wheel the master away;" and without more
ado, though my poor father stretched out his hand trying to grasp his
glass, before he could reach it he was at a distance from the table.  It
was a melancholy spectacle, and I almost burst into tears as I saw him
moving his arms like a child, and trying to kick out with his gouty
feet.  As Dan wheeled him round towards the door, he shouted and cried,
"Just let me have one glass more, Dan, only one; that can't be after
doing me harm."

One of the guests exclaimed, "Can't you be leaving the master alone, and
let him have a glass to comfort his soul?  Just one glass can make no
matter of difference."

But Dan was obdurate, and, looking over his shoulder, he said, "It's the
orders of the mistress, and they're to be obeyed."

Had the major's eye not been upon him, I don't know how Dan would have
behaved, but without another word he wheeled my poor father out of the
room, and closed the door behind him.  It was almost the last time he
appeared at table.  His state made a deep and lasting impression on me.

As soon as he was gone, the guests went on talking and singing as
before, and would probably have kept up their revels till a late hour,
had not my uncle reminded them that he and I had just come off a long
journey.

"As I've been playing the part of host, I can't be so rude as to leave
you at table, gentlemen."

The hint, as he intended it to be, was too broad not to be taken, and
those whose brains had still some sense left in them rose to take their
departure, hoisting the others in a friendly way out of their seats,
when arm-in-arm they staggered to the door.

"The ladies have retired, so you need not stop to pay your farewell
respects to them," said my uncle; and he told Dan Bourke, who was in the
hall, to order the gossoons to bring round the gentlemen's horses.  Some
mounted without difficulty, but others had to be helped up on their
steeds by my brothers-in-law and Denis.  I thought they would have
tumbled off.

"They'll be all to rights when once in their saddles," said Denis.
"They're accustomed to ride home in that state.  To be shure, one of
them now and then dislocates his neck or breaks his head, but that's a
trifle.  It's too common a way for an Irish gentleman to end his mortal
career for anything to be thought of it."

"I hope, Denis, that you'll not be after following their example," I
remarked.

"Faith, the major keeps me in too strict order for that at present," he
said; "I don't know what I should do if I hadn't his eye upon me, but
I'll acknowledge I have no wish to become a brute beast, as some of them
are."

My first day at home was over.  I felt less happy than I had expected.
My father's melancholy condition,--my mother's sorrow, which she in vain
tried to conceal,--and the fallen fortunes of the family, damped my
spirits.  My brothers-in-law were fine young fellows, but not altogether
what I liked; and my sisters were graver than they used to be.
Everything about the house looked in a dilapidated condition.  My mother
and sisters wore old dresses; the furniture was faded; the servants, if
not ragged, were but poorly habited.  Had it not been for the major, the
family, I suspect, would long ere this have been turned out of house and
home.  I must not spend much time in describing my life at Castle
Ballinahone.  I soon got tired of it, and began to wish myself at sea
again, for I knew that my only chance of promotion was to keep afloat.
I told the major.  He said that he perfectly agreed with me, and that he
would at once write to Captain Macnamara, who was in London, and to two
or three other friends, and ask them to try and get me appointed to a
ship without delay.  After I had been at home a few days, Fitzgerald and
Daley invited me to accompany them to the fair at Mullyspeleen, where
they wished to dispose of some horses they had bred on my father's
property.  Larry begged that he might come, just to see the fun.  I
observed, as he mounted, that he had strapped his fiddle-case on his
back.  My journey had made me as much at home as ever on horseback, so
that I was enabled to keep up with my brothers.  The distance we had to
go was about fifteen miles, through beautiful country, with a range of
hills in the distance, below which is situated the old castle of
Tullinhoe, once the seat of a powerful family, many of the descendants
of whom were now probably selling pigs at the fair.  We met people
wending their way towards the place of meeting, some on foot, some on
horseback, others in cars and carts of primitive construction, all
grinning and shouting in high glee at the thoughts of the fun to be
enjoyed.  What that fun was we were soon to witness.  Not only were
there men, but women and children, down to small babies in arms,--the
men with frieze coats, with shillelahs in hands, the women in cloaks and
hoods, and caps under them.  Others had gaily-coloured handkerchiefs
tied over their heads.  As we got near the fair the crowd increased,
till we sometimes had a difficulty in making our way among the people.
As we pushed them aside, however, they were in no way offended, but
good-humouredly saluted us with jokes of all sorts.  There were tents
and booths of various descriptions, the most common among them being
formed of wattles,--that is, young saplings cut from some neighbouring
estate, the thick ends stuck in the ground some distance apart, and the
thin ends bent down till they met, when they were fastened together with
haybands.  Some twenty or thirty of such arches having been formed, and
further secured by a long pole at the top, were covered over with
blankets, sheets, and quilts, borrowed from the nearest cottages,
occasionally eked out with petticoats and cloaks of varied hue; the
quilts, being of every variety of pattern, and of all the colours of the
rainbow, had a very gay appearance.  The tables were composed of doors
carried off from farm buildings and cottages, elevated on hillocks of
clay dug from underneath.  The benches on either side generally
consisted of doors cut longitudinally in two or three parts, and to be
nailed together again when done with.  Outside several of the tents were
huge turf fires, on which pots were boiling, some containing lumps of
salt beef and cabbage, while fried herrings were sending up a fragrant
odour attractive to hungry visitors.  There were cold viands also
displayed, to tempt those disposed for a snack, rounds or rumps of beef,
hams, bread and cheese, and whisky enough to make every soul in the fair
moderately drunk if equally divided.  Here and there were booths
containing toys and trinkets; but the great object of the fair was for
the sale of horses, cows, pigs, and poultry.  Besides these were the
more pretentious booths of the frieze merchants, who were likely to run
a good trade to supply the place of the garments which would be torn
into shreds before the fair was over.  In other booths, earthenware,
knives, and agricultural implements were to be procured.  My
brothers-in-law having disposed of their horses at a good price,--
especially good to them, as the animals had cost them nothing since they
were foals,--we agreed to ride round the fair and see the fun, which had
now been going on for some time, while, as the eating and drinking
booths had been constantly filled and emptied, a large portion of the
visitors were already in a hilarious condition.  We were passing a
booth, when a man came out, who, taking off his long frieze coat, which
he trailed along behind him on the ground, at the same time flourishing
his shillelah, shouted out--

"Who'd be after daring to put a foot on that, I should like to know?"

He hadn't gone far, when from another tent out sprang a stout fellow,
holding a cudgel big enough to fell an ox with.  Rapidly whirling it in
the air, he exclaimed--

"That's what I'll dare to do!" and he made a fierce blow at the head of
the owner of the coat, which would have felled him in a moment, had he
not been prepared to defend himself with his shillelah.  A clatter of
blows succeeded, when the owner of the coat fell, stunned, to the
ground.

At the same instant numbers of fellows in frieze coats, brogues, and
battered hats, rushed forth from the various tents, flourishing their
shillelahs, and shouting at the tops of their voices, some siding with
the fallen man, others with the victor, till a hundred or more were
ranged on either side, all battering away, as fast as they could move
their arms, at each other's heads.  Now one party would scamper off as
if in flight; then they would meet again, and begin cudgelling each
other, apparently with the most savage fury, while the women and
children stood around, the latter forming a squalling orchestra, which
kept time to the blows.  When matters were becoming serious, a number of
the women, handing their babies to their companions, sprang into the
fight, shrieking out, "Come out o' that, Pat!"

"Come out o' that, Tim!" and dragged their husbands, or sons, or lovers,
away from each other.

The men mostly, however, endeavoured to release themselves by leaving
their coats in the women's hands, exclaiming--

"Let me get at them, Biddy.  I'll not be held back!"

The women succeeded in dragging but a very few out of the fray, and
again the combatants went at it, till one after the other was stretched
on the ground.

At length a priest arrived, and exhorted those who were of his flock to
desist; and, rushing in among them, where words were ineffectual, dealt
them pretty hard blows with his own cudgel.  I was inclined to go and
assist his reverence, but Fitzgerald advised me to do nothing of the
sort.

"They treat him with some sort of respect," he observed, "but they would
treat you with none, and a broken head would be the consequence."

The tumult and uproar had made our horses restive; and as a party of the
combatants, with loud shrieks and clashing of shillelahs, came rushing
against mine, he began to kick and plunge, and at length bolted with me,
scattering the people in his course right and left.

Shouts and imprecations followed me, but though I pulled at the rein
with all my might, I could not stop him.  On he went, upsetting a booth
of crockery and scattering the contents; he dashed in among a herd of
pigs, which scampered off in all directions; when finally, attempting to
leap over a tent in our course, he went through one side of it, pitching
me before him, and down he came on to the middle of the table, with his
hind legs under the bench, and very nearly on the top of me.

I scrambled out of the way, bruised and scratched, receiving no very
friendly greeting from the owner of the booth.  Larry, who had seen what
was going on, followed, and assisted to extricate my steed as well as
me.

Its knees were cut and hind legs sprained, and I felt as if every bone
in my body was broken, though I managed to get on my feet, and, giving
myself a shake, had the satisfaction of discovering that nothing of the
sort had occurred.

My brothers-in-law, coming up, paid the men for the damage done to the
crockery booth and the tent my steed had upset, out of the proceeds of
their sale; and I, to show that I was not daunted, remounted my horse.

"Have you sufficiently enjoyed the humours of the fair, Terence?" asked
Fitzgerald.

"Faith, indeed I have, and sufficient to last me a mighty long time," I
answered.

In one place there were a dozen fellows piled up, one upon another,
struggling and kicking, with their heads cut and their noses bleeding;
but few of them had lost their voices, and not one of them was mortally
wounded.

I had charged Larry not to join in any of the fights; and though he
confessed that he had been sorely tempted, he had become too well
disciplined at sea to disobey me.  He came out of the fair, therefore,
with a whole skin, having employed himself for a good portion of the
time in amusing the boys and girls with some tunes on his fiddle.  I
took care to see him clear of the fair, and free from danger, before we
put our horses into a trot.

The whole scene gave me some idea of the state of my native country, to
become still more unhappy before many more years were over, owing to the
misguiding of hot-headed men, and the cruel treatment of a Government
whose only notion of ruling was by stern suppression and terrorism.

We rode too fast to allow of Larry playing his fiddle, so he was obliged
to put it in its case, and trot after us.

I felt dreadfully stiff for several days after this adventure, and but
little inclined to ride, though I managed to walk about.

Denis begged me to go with him to fish in a stream which ran into the
Shannon three or four miles from the house.  I agreed, for the sake of
having his society, although no adept in the art of throwing a fly.
Larry accompanied us, to carry our baskets, and the fish we intended to
bring home.  We started later in the day than we had intended, so that
the best part of it had gone by before we could reach the stream.

I was more successful than I had expected, and succeeded in hooking and
landing a brace of tolerably-sized salmon,--Denis having caught twice as
many.  This encouraged us to go on, and the shades of evening had
already begun to spread over the beautiful landscape before we thought
of giving in.  At length Larry came up to me.

"I wouldn't be after wishing to frighten you, Mr Terence," he said in a
whisper, "but I have just now seen something I don't like."

"What is it, Larry?"  I asked.  "Is it in human shape, or with four
legs, a couple of horns, and a tail?"

"Don't be laughing at it, Mr Terence.  I'm thinking you don't know
where we are, or you wouldn't be after doing that," he whispered.

"We are fishing in the stream of Corregan," I said.

"But does your honour know what happened here?" he asked, in a low
voice.  "It's his ghost I've seen, as sure as I'm a living man, just
behind yon clump of trees there hanging over the water; and I'm thinking
he'll be showing himself again if we stop here longer."

"I shall be very happy to make his acquaintance, whoever he is," I said.
"Does Mr Denis know anything about him?"

"Master Denis would be only laughing at me if I were to speak to him
about it," said Larry.

I called to Denis, and said that I was ready to put up my rod, as I
wished to make the acquaintance of a suspicious individual who was said
to be lurking about the stream.  He replied that he would be ready to
come as soon as he had landed a salmon he had lately hooked.

"Come, Larry, tell me all about this ghost, or spirit, or whatever it
was, you fancy you saw just now," I said, while engaged in winding up my
line.

"Hish! your honour; we mustn't speak loud about him, if you plaise, and
I'll tell you," he answered.  "It's just this, your honour: while we
were away in foreign parts, there was a broth of a boy,--I knew him
well,--Dominic Brian.  Well, Nick was one evening going home from
reaping, along this very part of the stream, when what did he do but cut
his own head off.  Why he did it no one to this day can tell; but
certain sure his body was found on the bank, with his bloody scythe
beside him, but his head was gone.  They say he comes every evening at
the same hour to look out for his head, since he doesn't rest quiet in
his grave without it.  When they told me about it I laughed, thinking it
couldn't be true; but seeing's believing, and as sure as I'm a living
man, I saw Dominic Brian this very evening with his head under his arm."

"I thought you said that he always came to look for his head?"  I
observed.

"Shure so I did, Mr Terence; but the ghost I saw had his head tucked
under his arm, just as if it had been a keg of potheen."

"Whether he has his head under his arm or has got it on at all, I'll
rout him out," I exclaimed.

"Oh, don't, Mr Terence, don't!" cried Larry.  "No one can tell what
he'll be after doing to you.  Shure it will be safer for us to be away
from this as fast as our legs can carry us.  Just shout to Master Denis
to make haste, or we don't know what will be happening."



CHAPTER TWENTY TWO.

A GHOST AND A WEDDING.

Laughing at Larry's fears, I, having just finished winding up my line
and disconnecting my rod, bade him take up the fish, while I walked
towards the clump of trees where he had seen the headless ghost.

I didn't feel altogether sure that something would not appear.  I had
not gone many paces before I caught sight of a white object.  Larry saw
it also, and my gallant follower, who would have tackled a dozen
Frenchmen with a cutlass in his hand, fairly turned tail and scampered
away, shouting out--

"The ghost! the ghost!  It's Nick Brian himself, barring his head.  Run,
Mr Terence!  Run, Mr Denis! or he'll be taking hold of us, and
carrying us off into the river to help him to look for it."

In spite of Larry's shouts, I still went on, although not feeling over
comfortable, when, as I got nearer, out flew, with a loud hiss, a large
white swan, whose nest was probably thereabouts.  Though I might have
defended myself with the end of my rod, I thought it prudent to beat a
retreat and leave her in quiet possession of the locality.  On seeing
this she also returned to her nest.  When I overtook Larry,--who,
finding that I was not following him, had halted,--I assured him that
the ghost was only a swan.  He, however, still remained incredulous,
declaring that it might have appeared like a swan to me in the gloom of
the evening, but he felt sure it was Nick Brian, and no one else.  In
vain I endeavoured to induce him to return with me.

"I'd rather not, Mr Terence, if it's the same to you," he answered.
"It's not wise to be hunting up them sorts of things."

Denis now joined us, and though he laughed at the idea of a ghost, he
remarked that it would be as well, while there was sufficient light to
see our way, to commence our return home, which, as it was, we should
not reach till long after dark.  I saw Larry every now and then turning
his head round, evidently expecting that Nick Brian the headless would
be following us.

We got home without any other adventure, where Larry gave a full account
of our encounter with Nick Brian's ghost, and the gallant way in which
Mr Terence had faced him, though he was not ashamed to confess that he
had not backed me up as he should have done, had I been attacked by a
human foe.

Though Denis had not seen the ghost, and I assured every one that it was
only a white swan, I found that Larry's account was believed in
preference to mine; the general opinion being that I fancied I had seen
the bird, though it was a ghost notwithstanding.

To do honour to my return, and to keep up the dignity of the family, my
mother and sisters considered it necessary to give a ball to the
neighbours, and invitations were issued accordingly.  The major was
rather against the matter, on the score of expense, but he didn't hold
out as stoutly as usual.  The preparations, however, were not on a very
extensive scale.  Such flags and banners as were to be found in the
castle--many of them tattered and torn--were arranged so as to decorate
the entrance hall.  The furniture was carried out of the dining-room--
the largest room in the house--and piled up in the dingy study.
Supper-tables were placed on one side of the hall; and my mother and
sisters, and all the females in the establishment, were engaged for some
days in manufacturing pasties, tarts, and jellies; while at the same
time sundry pieces of beef, ham, turkeys, and poultry were boiling and
roasting at the kitchen fire.

At the usual hour the guests began to arrive,--some in family coaches,
once covered with paint and gilt, but now battered and dingy; others
came in cars and gigs, and a considerable number of the fair sex on
horseback, having sent their ball dresses on before, by the invitation
of my sisters, who had promised their assistance in bedecking them.  My
father complained that he was hurried away from the dinner-table that
due time might be obtained for making the necessary preparations.  He
was left in his chair in the corner of the room, whence he watched the
proceedings with an expression which showed that he could not make out
exactly what was being done.  I went up to him several times and tried
to make him understand.

At last the O'Maleys, the O'Flahertys, the Frenches, the Fitzgeralds,
the Burkes, the Geraldines, and the members of numerous other families
began to arrive, and Larry, habited in a sky-blue coat, a huge frill to
his shirt, pink breeches and green stockings, with four or five other
musicians, similarly attired, playing various instruments, took their
places on a raised platform which served as an orchestra.

A country dance was speedily formed, the couples standing opposite each
other, reaching from the top to the bottom of the room, and I had the
honour of leading out Miss Nora O'Flaherty, who was considered one of
the beauties of the county, though in many respects I doubt whether Tom
Pim would have looked upon her with the same eyes as he had done on Lucy
Talboys.  Taking my partner, I led her prancing down the centre, and
proud enough I felt as I heard the remarks made upon us.  Then we had to
come back and turn each couple, and so on in succession till we reached
the bottom.  It was pretty hard work, though my fair partner seemed to
enjoy it amazingly.  Of course, as was the custom of those days, I could
not take another partner, and I had every reason to congratulate myself
on having obtained so good a one.  I suspect that many envied me.  I was
naturally over head and ears in love with her before the evening was
over.  There was very little rest between the dances.  As soon as one
was over another was started, the musicians playing away with might and
main.  We got through a few minuets, but such dances were too tame for
my fair countrywomen; indeed, but few of the men were able to perform
them, whereas all took to the country dances as if by instinct.

While we younger ones were thus amusing ourselves, the older people
passed the time playing cards, and afterwards did ample justice to the
supper.  Indeed, very few of the young ladies were very backward at
that.  Even Nora managed to discuss the wing and breast of a chicken,
with ham and a slice of beef, not to speak of tartlets and other
delicacies, without the slightest difficulty.

I saw her to her family coach, which conveyed her mamma, two sisters,
and a he cousin besides, of whom I felt prodigiously jealous.  I could
think of nothing and talk of nobody but Nora O'Flaherty all the next
day, and proposed riding over to pay my respects to the family.

"You'll do nothing of the sort, Terence!" said my uncle.  "I should be
the first to say `Go,' if I thought it would add to your happiness; but,
to the best of my belief, the young lady is engaged to her cousin; and
even supposing that she cared for you, and would consent to wait till
you became a post-captain, you would then only have your pay, and she
has not a stiver in the world, and you would thus be doing her a great
injustice.  Talk of her as you like, think of her as a perfect angel;
but angels don't make good wives down here on earth, whatever they might
do in ethereal regions."

In fine, my uncle talked and laughed me out of my first love.  Instead
of going over to Castle Moirty, I employed myself in fishing, shooting,
and other rural sports with my brothers and my brothers-in-law, and
occasionally with the major.  This sort of life, however, didn't suit my
taste, and I began to wish myself once more afloat.

Among the young ladies present at the ball given in honour of my return
was a Miss Kathleen O'Brien, to whom I observed my brother Maurice paid
the most devoted attention, and I guessed, as I afterwards discovered,
that he was over head and ears in love with her.  It was not a matter of
surprise, considering that she was among the prettiest of the very
pretty girls present.  As she was an only daughter, and heiress of a
very fine estate, my family were highly delighted at the prospect of his
winning her; and as he was supposed to be crowned with laurels, had a
couple of honourable wounds in his arms, and our family was equal to
hers, it was hoped that no impediment would be thrown in the way of
their marriage, provided the young lady would accept him.  Young ladies
in those days in Ireland had a free will of their own, and Maurice
acknowledged that he was not certain what way he had made in her
affections.  My mother and sisters, however, encouraged him, and,
considering that there was no young man like him in that part of the
country, assured him that he had no cause to fear.  Thus it appeared to
me that the battle was half won, and I had no doubt, when he set out the
next morning, attired in his red military suit, to pay his respects at
Castle Blatherbrook, that he would return back an accepted lover.  We
cheered him as he set forth.

"Good luck go with you," cried Denis.  "We will welcome you as an
intended Benedict when you come back again.  Kathleen's tender heart
will never stand that gay coat and clashing sword.  Talk of your
laurels, Maurice, and tell her how beautiful she will look with a wreath
of orange-blossoms across that fair brow of hers."

Maurice, a good-natured fellow, took all our jokes in good humour, and,
waving his hand as he put spurs to his steed, galloped off; while Denis
and I went to amuse ourselves with our fishing-rods, in hopes of
obtaining some variety to our usual fare.  On our return we found that
Maurice had not come back from his wooing.  This was considered a good
sign, as it was hoped that he was detained at the castle as an accepted
suitor.  Our own meal was over, and evening was approaching; still
Maurice did not appear.  My mother and sisters were very positive that
he had won the lady.  At length, just as it grew dark, his horse's hoofs
were heard clattering up the avenue.

"You must not be disappointed," said the major, as we were all rushing
out to welcome him.  "Girls are not always to be won by once asking."

Maurice threw his rein to Larry, who had taken up his old office of
groom, with what we thought a disconsolate air.

"Well, my dear boy, has she accepted you?"

"Yes, I'm sure she has.  She could not have said no," exclaimed my
mother, taking him by the hand.

"Faith, then, she has," cried Maurice, "and I ought to be, and fancy I
am, the happiest man under the sun.  But I am to quit the army, and turn
my sword into a ploughshare, and gather oats instead of laurels; and I
am not quite certain how I shall take to that sort of life."

We all congratulated him on his good fortune, and assured him that he
would soon get accustomed to a domestic state of existence.

After this I had very little of his society, as he rode off every
morning to Blatherbrook.  He used to look bright and happy enough when
he came back, and Denis and I agreed that he was by degrees getting
accustomed to the thoughts of his expected change of life.  This was
very good fun for Maurice, but I began to find it rather dull, and even
to wish myself afloat again.  However, I wanted to wait for the wedding,
which, to my great satisfaction, I found was fixed for an early day.  I
managed to spend the intermediate time much as before,--fishing or
sailing and shooting on the Shannon, with Larry as crew and old Mike
O'Hagan as pilot, when we explored not only the banks of the beautiful
river, but the various lochs which opened out of it.  At last the happy
day arrived which was to see my brother united to his lady love.  The
ceremony was to take place at her father's house, as was the custom of
those days among people of rank and fashion.  Everything was arranged on
a splendid scale.  All our neighbours from far and near assembled at
Castle Ballinahone, to see the bridal party set off, and to wish us good
luck.  We had wedding favours down from Dublin, and wedding clothes of
resplendent hue, no one just then troubling themselves much as to how
they were to be paid for.  My sisters were adorned with silks and
satins, and looked unusually handsome; but my mother, as became her
position, was attired in a costume of silver satin, so that when she put
it on the evening before, the light of the lamps made her resemble a
moving constellation.  My brother, as became his military character, was
habited in a scarlet uniform, to which the tailor had added a sufficient
amount of gold lace to adorn the coats of half a dozen field-marshals,
white satin breeches, silk stockings, and diamond buckles in his shoes,
setting him off to great advantage, and we all agreed that a more
gallant bridegroom never set forth on a matrimonial expedition.  The
family coach had been burnished up for the occasion, and was drawn by
four of the sleekest steeds in the stable, Larry and the other boys
having been employed for many a day previously in currying them down.
Dan Bourke was turned into coachman for the occasion, dressed in a
magnificent bright blue coat and hat adorned with gold lace.  The
footboys, Mick Kelly and Tim Daley, were habited in new liveries, of the
same colour as Dan's, and stood behind the coach, in which were
ensconced my mother, two sisters, and the happy bridegroom.  My uncle,
disdaining to enter a coach, led the way on horseback, dressed also in
full uniform; and amid the shouts and good wishes of the assembled
spectators, the family coach set off, those who had horses or vehicles
immediately following at a respectful distance.  Denis, my two
brothers-in-law, and I had a vehicle to ourselves, which it had not been
thought necessary to furbish up.  It was an old travelling chaise, which
had long rested in an out house, covered with dust and cobwebs, and
often the roosting-place of poultry.  It was drawn by two sorry hacks,
and driven by Phil Kearney, the gamekeeper, for so he was called, though
there was but little game on the estate to keep, he being our usual
attendant on all sporting expeditions; while Larry, dressed in the
attire in which he had appeared at our ball, mounted the rumble with his
beloved fiddle, all ready, as he said, for setting the heels of the boys
and girls going in the kitchen, while their betters were dancing in the
hall.  Denis and our two brothers-in-law were habited, as became the
attendants of the happy bridegroom, in white cloth coats with blue
capes, waistcoats and breeches of blue satin, spangled and laced all
over, while their heads were adorned with large paste curls, white as
snow, and scented with bergamot.  I was more modestly attired in a new
naval uniform, carefully made from the pattern of my last old one under
my uncle's inspection.  As we wished to reach Blatherbrook Castle before
the rest of the party, we took a short cut across the country, so as to
get into another high road, which would lead us directly to our
destination.  Phil lashed on our steeds, when, with a pull and a jerk,
our horses, not being accustomed to work together, dashed forward at a
rapid pace over the stones, in a way calculated not only to dislocate
our limbs, but to shake the vehicle to pieces, but we held on to the
sides, trying to keep it together as best we could.

When we settled to take this route, we forgot that there existed a
turnpike on the road, an institution to which Irishmen have a decided
objection.  The old turnpike-keeper, a discharged soldier, who had only
lately been sent there, and was thus unacquainted with any of us,
cautiously closed the gate, knowing that travellers often forgot to pull
up and pay.  We, as loyal subjects of His Majesty, were ready to
disburse whatever was demanded of us.  I accordingly put my hand in my
pocket, but not a coin could I find in it, and, knowing that my
brothers-in-law were not over-willing to draw their purse-strings if
there was any one else ready to do it, I desired Denis to give the
gate-keeper the toll.

"I quite forgot to put any money in my pocket," he observed.  "But you
can pay him, Daley."

"I have not a stiver," said Daley, feeling first in one pocket, then in
the other.

"Well, we must come upon you, Fitz," I said.

"Faith, I left my purse in my other small-clothes," he answered.

"Is there any cash in it?" asked Daley, with a wink.

"Well, but the man must be paid," I said.  "I'll tell Phil Kearney,"
and, looking out of the window, I called to him.

"Sorra a ha'p'orth of coppers there are in my pocket, seeing not a sight
of coin have I got from the master this many a day," he answered.

I then turned to Larry, hoping that he might be better off than the rest
of us.

"Faith, Mr Terence, it's a long time since I have had a coin to boast
of, and if I had that same, I'd not be after chucking it to an old
spalpeen for just opening a gate."

Phil at this juncture, observing that the gate was swinging slowly back,
lashed on his horses, and attempted to pass through, on which the old
soldier seized them by their heads; but Phil, not inclined to be
stopped, furiously flourishing his whip, bestowed his lashes, not only
on their backs, but on the shoulders of the gate-keeper.  Fitzgerald,
who was the most peppery of the party, tried to get out to join in the
fight, but fortunately could not open the carriage door.  Just then the
gate-keeper's wife hurried out, and joined her husband in hurling abuse
at us.

"I see who you are," she exclaimed, "a party of vagabond stage-players
running away from Cork, where you haven't paid your bills, and going to
wheedle the people at Limerick out of their money."

"That's true enough, mistress," said Fitzgerald, who had a soft tongue
in his head when he chose to use it; "but we're coming back soon, and
we'll pay you double for the beating your husband has got, and remember,
the next time he deserves it you'll pardon him for our sakes, and it
will save you the trouble of giving it to him.  It's not to Limerick
we're going, but only to Castle Blatherbrook, where we're to play for
the entertainment of the wedding guests, for it's Mr Maurice O'Finnahan
is to marry Miss Kathleen O'Brien; and Mr O'Brien, the lady's father,
will be after paying us well, for he's as rich as Croesus, and we'll
bring away a bottle or two of the cratur to comfort your old soul."

As Phil had by this time ceased beating his horses, which stood quietly
enough while Fitz was giving this address, the old man let go their
heads and came to listen.

"Shure then you look like dacent stage-players, for certain; and as I'm
mighty fond of a good tune, now just give us one, and maybe if I like
it, I'll let you off this time, and thank you into the bargain," said
the old soldier.

"With all the pleasure in the world," answered Fitz.  "There's our
musician sitting behind the coach, and he'll tune up his fiddle while we
tune up our pipes, and just consider what's likely to please you."

Larry, on hearing this, shouted out--

"I'll be after giving you what'll make your old hearts bump right
merrily, if it doesn't set your heels agoing," and, putting his riddle
to his chin, he began playing one of his merriest airs.

"Arrah now, but that's a brave tune," cried the old woman, beginning to
shuffle her feet, though she hadn't much elasticity in her limbs.

"It's a song we're after wanting," cried the gate-keeper; "shure you'll
give us a song, gentlemen?"

"Well, you shall have one to begin with, and you shall have a dozen when
we come back from the wedding," cried Fitz, and he struck up--

  "As beautiful Kitty one morning was tripping
  With a pitcher of milk from the fair of Coleraine,
  When she saw me she stumbled,
  The pitcher it tumbled,
  And all the sweet buttermilk water'd the plain.

  "`Och! what shall I do now?
  'Twas looking at you now;
  Sure, sure, such a pitcher I'll ne'er meet again;
  'Twas the pride of my dairy,
  Och, Barney McCleary,
  You're sent as a plague to the girls of Coleraine.'"

So Fitz ran on, verse after verse, and tune after tune, till he stopped
for want of breath.

Highly delighted, the old pikeman insisted on shaking us all round by
the hand, and then, running in, brought us out a glass of whisky each.
He was much surprised to find Denis and I declined taking it.  Daley,
however, prevented his feelings being offended by singing another song.
Then Larry gave them a second tune on the fiddle, which pleased him
still more, and he set to work with Phil to put to rights the harness,
which had been considerably disarranged by the prancing of our steeds.

Then he exclaimed--

"Good luck to you.  You'll give us some more tunes when you come back.
Off with you now.  Success! success!"

Phil lashing on the horses, away we went, laughing heartily at our
adventure.  We soon arrived at the castle, where we found the guests
rapidly assembling.  I won't describe the ceremony.  My brother and
Kathleen O'Brien were indissolubly united.  No sooner was it over than
every one rushed forward to kiss the blushing bride, and then we all
heartily congratulated each other at the happy event.  My mother took
charge of her new daughter-in-law, who cried a little, but, soon
recovering, looked as bright and blooming as any of her fair
bridesmaids.

Plum-cake and wine were then handed round, just to stay our appetites
till dinner was announced,--a substantial repast, to which all did good
justice.  Then the ball commenced, the bride leading off the dance.  It
was kept up, with an interval for a hot supper, until three or four in
the morning.  It was lucky for me that Nora O'Flaherty, for some reason
or other, was not present, or I believe that in spite of my uncle's
advice I should have forgotten my poverty and confessed my love.  But
there's luck in odd numbers, and there were so many charming girls
present that my heart was pretty evenly divided among them.  The whole
of the guests were put up in the house,--and pretty close stowing it
was, but no one complained,--and, after a breakfast as substantial as
the supper, we set off to return home.  We purposely went back by the
way we came, and greatly astonished the old pike-keeper by not only
paying him his toll, but treble the value of the whisky he had bestowed
on us, as well as two or three additional songs.  He had by this time
discovered who we were, and was profuse in his apologies for the way in
which he had behaved.  We assured him that he had but done his duty, and
as we had chosen to pass for stage-players we could not complain of him
for believing us.  For a few days things went on much as usual.  At last
my uncle received a letter from Captain Macnamara, saying that he had
not been appointed to a ship himself, but had applied to Lord Robert
Altamont, who had just commissioned the _Jason_ at Plymouth, and who had
agreed to receive me on board on his recommendation.  "Your nephew will
meet some of his old shipmates, who, I have no doubt, will be glad to
have him among them," he added.

At first I was highly delighted at this news, but when the time came for
parting I wished that I had been able to remain longer at home.  It
appeared to me very unlikely that I should ever see my father again, and
the state of our pecuniary affairs was evidently telling on my mother,
though my brave uncle was doing his utmost to keep things together.  It
was settled, of course, that Larry was to accompany me.

"I should like to go with you," said my uncle; "but you're old enough to
take care of yourself, and affairs at home require my presence.  Two men
will, however, attend you, to look after the horses and bring them
back."

I will not describe our leave-takings a second time, or my journey to
Cork.  I found there was a vessel just about to sail for Plymouth, and I
therefore secured berths on board her for myself and Larry.  Nothing
particular occurred during the passage.  We dropped anchor in the
Catwater at Plymouth five days after leaving Cork.  I at once repaired
on board the _Jason_, lying in Hamoaze.

Who should I find walking the deck as first lieutenant but old
Rough-and-Ready.  He put out his hand and shook mine cordially.

"Glad to have you aboard, my lad," he said.  "You see, their Lordships,
knowing my value as a first lieutenant, have taken good care not to
promote me, lest my peculiar qualities should be lost to the service."

"I should have been glad to have served under you, had you been in
command of a corvette, sir," I said; "and I'm very happy to be with you
again."

"You'll find two or three old shipmates on board, for Lord Robert, being
a friend of Captain Macnamara, applied to him to recommend such officers
as he thought well of.  He has immense interest, and I hope that we
shall all get our promotion when he's done with us, though he'll take
very good care it will not be till then."

I begged Mr Saunders to let me go ashore again to procure an outfit, as
I had not got one at Cork.

"Have you brought another family chest with you?" he asked.

"No, sir; I'll get one of the proper dimensions this time, knowing the
size you approve of," I answered.

On going into the berth, I found, to my infinite satisfaction, my old
friends Nettleship and Tom Pim.

"Glad to see you, Paddy," they exclaimed in the same voice, each
grasping a hand.

"We heard rumours that you were appointed to the _Jason_, but could not
ascertain the fact for certain," said Nettleship.  "Well, here you see
me, after all the actions I have taken part in, still an old mate.  Lord
Robert assures me that he will look after my interests; but he has said
the same to everybody else, and will probably tell you so likewise."

Tom Pim accompanied me on shore, and assisted me by his advice in
getting the outfit I required, and I took care to choose the smallest
chest I could find, that there might be no risk of its being cut down.
In the evening Nettleship joined us, and we accompanied him to pay his
respects to his mother and sister.  I was more than ever struck by the
sedate manner of the young lady, after having been so lately accustomed
to those of Irish girls.  Though Miss Nettleship was very pretty, I
didn't lose my heart to her.  Tom Pim, however, seemed to admire her
greatly, though it was impossible to judge of how her feelings were
affected towards him.  We spent a very pleasant evening, and I took
greatly to Mrs Nettleship, who seemed to me to be a very kind and
sensible old lady.  We had to return on board at night, to be ready for
duty the next morning, for the frigate was now being rapidly fitted out
Old Rough-and-Ready was in his true element, with a marline-spike hung
round his neck, directing everywhere, and working away with his own
hands.  He made us do the same.

"We don't want dainty young gentlemen on board," he said, "but fellows
who are not afraid of the tar-bucket."

Though not pleasant, this was useful, and I learned a good many things
which I had before not known perfectly.  The ship was completely fitted
for sea before Lord Robert Altamont made his appearance on board.  We
all turned out in full fig to receive him as he came up the side.  He
had sent down a pattern of the dress he wished his crew to wear, and the
men as they joined had to put it on.  It consisted of a blue jacket, a
red waistcoat, white or blue trousers, slippers of white leather, and a
hat with the ship's name in gold letters under a crown and anchor.  All
the men wore pigtails, to the arrangement of which they devoted a
considerable portion of Sunday morning.  They might then be seen in
groups, combing and brushing each other's hair, which hung down very
long behind, and then tying up the tails with a bit of blue cotton tape.
The captain was a young man, tall and slight, with a very effeminate
air, and as unlike his first lieutenant as he well could be.  Still his
countenance was not bad, and he smiled in a pleasant way as he returned
our salutes.

"Very well done, Mr Saunders," he said, looking aloft, and then
glancing round the deck.  "You have got the ship into good order, and I
hope to find the crew in the same satisfactory state.  If not, we must
take measures to make them so.  Though it's peace time, we must maintain
the discipline of the service."

After a few more remarks he retired to his cabin, where he had ordered
dinner to be prepared.  He now sent to invite the first and second
lieutenants, the lieutenant of marines, the doctor, and three of the
young gentlemen, to dine with him.  Such an invitation was like a royal
command.  Nettleship and I, with Dick Larcom, who had just joined the
frigate, and who was a _protege_ of the captain, were the favoured ones.
The repast was sumptuous in my eyes, and unlike anything I had seen
before.  Lord Robert was all courtesy and kindness.  He inquired of each
of us what service we had seen, and particulars about our family
history.

"My father was a lieutenant, killed in action, and my mother lives in a
cottage near Plymouth," answered Nettleship.

"And I came in at the hawse-holes, and worked my way up.  I have been in
ten general actions, and five-and-twenty engagements with single ships,
or cutting-out expeditions in boats," said Mr Saunders.  "Here I am a
first lieutenant; and a first lieutenant I suppose I shall remain until
I'm too old to keep at sea, when perhaps I shall be rewarded with my
master's and commander's commission."

"Long before that period arrives, I hope," said Lord Robert, smiling
blandly.  "I trust before many years are over to see you posted to a
ship like this."

I answered his lordship's questions with all due modesty, and he seemed
well pleased at hearing about my family.  His lordship happened to look
at Dicky Larcom, who, supposing that he had to give an account of
himself, said--

"I haven't done anything yet, Lord Robert, because I have only been two
days in the navy; but I intend to do as much as Admiral Benbow, Lord
Rodney, or Sir Samuel Hood, if I have the chance."

"No doubt about it, youngster," said his lordship, laughing.  "While I
think of it, I wish two of you young gentlemen to breakfast with me
every morning.  I wish you all to learn manners, in which I find
occasionally a great deficiency among the junior officers of the
service.  I'll say nothing about their seniors.  You'll let it be known
in the berth, Finnahan.  You can all come in rotation."

"Thank you, my lord," I answered, for I found that he always liked to be
thus addressed.

The announcement did not afford as much pleasure as I had expected.  The
oldsters voted it a great bore, though Dicky Larcom and the other
youngsters looked upon the invitation as an especial honour, and
anticipated the good breakfasts they were to enjoy several times a week.

Where we were to be sent to was now the question, for as yet that
important information had not transpired.  The bumboat-woman, the great
authority as far as midshipmen were concerned, could not enlighten us,
though some of the more knowing expressed an opinion that we should be
attached to the Channel squadron, which, in other words, meant that Lord
Robert intended to remain in harbour as much as possible, to save
himself from the perils and discomforts he might be exposed to at sea.

We waited day after day, while the captain, it was understood, was
transacting important business on shore, though it was shrewdly
suspected that he was amusing himself as he thought fit.  At length he
received a peremptory order to proceed to sea.  When he came on board,
he complained to old Rough-and-Ready of the hardships to which he was
subjected.

"Don't you think, Mr Saunders, that it's a shame that men of rank like
myself should be at the beck and call of such old fogies as my Lords
Commissioners of the Admiralty?" he exclaimed.  "I have had positively
to give up Lady Seacombe's ball on the 15th.  Putting my own feelings
aside, there will be several sweet girls who will be bitterly
disappointed."

"I don't know anything about balls, except round shot and musket-balls,"
answered the first lieutenant.  "For my part, if I'm asked the use of a
ship-of-war, I should say that it is to be afloat, looking after the
interests of the country.  I don't know, however, since the Government
have thought fit to shake hands with the French and Spaniards, and to
knock under to the Yankees, what we have got to do; only I do know that
we shall never get the ship into a proper state of discipline till we're
at sea, and can exercise the men at their guns, reefing and shortening
sail."

"Oh, yes, to be sure! that's a very proper matter for you to think
about, Mr Saunders," said the captain; "but for my part, I esteem that
sort of thing as a great bore.  However, understand that I want you to
do whatever you consider right and proper."

"Thank you, my lord.  If you leave the matter to me, I'll do my best to
make the ship's company the smartest in the service," answered the first
lieutenant.

"Well, I'm much obliged to you, and will support you to the best of my
ability," said the captain.

I overheard this conversation; indeed, his lordship was not at all
particular as to what he said, or as to who was present when he
expressed his opinions.

That afternoon, the wind being fair, we went out of harbour, and by dark
were well to the south-west of the Eddystone.  As Lord Robert said he
preferred having plenty of sea-room, we at once steered out into the
Atlantic.

"We may thus, you see, Mr Saunders, be able to get a fair breeze from
whatever quarter the wind blows, which is far better than having to
batter away against a head-wind, and make ourselves uncomfortable.  I
wrote some lines on the subject:--

  "We're rovers where'er rolls the fetterless sea,
  For the boundless blue ocean was made for the free.

"They are fine, are they not?  Shall I go on with them?"

"They may be, my lord, but I'm no judge of pottery," answered Mr
Saunders; "indeed, I never read a line in my life, except some old
sea-songs.  And as to being free, we should soon get the ship into a
pretty state of disorder if the men were to get that notion into their
heads; they may not be slaves, but they must do what they're ordered,
and pretty smartly too, or look out for squalls, I've a notion.  That's
what we must do at present.--All hands, shorten sail!" he shouted.  "Be
smart about it, lads."

Lord Robert put his paper into his pocket, and threw himself into an
attitude of command, while he glanced up at the straining canvas, and
Mr Saunders shouted the necessary orders, which he did not receive from
the captain.

The hands flew aloft.  My station was in the main-top, to which I
quickly ran up.  Royals and topgallant sails were speedily taken in, two
reefs in the topsails, the yards were squared, and we ran off before the
fast-rising gale.  We pitched and rolled pretty considerably as it was;
it would have been much worse if we had been close-hauled.  As the gale
was from the northward, we ran south all the night.

In the morning it was my turn, with Dicky Larcom, to breakfast with the
captain, which, according to his lordship's orders, the young gentlemen
in the berth had taken their turns to do with considerable, regularity.
We had to dress in our best, and at the appointed hour we made our
appearance at the cabin door.

The captain treated us with his usual urbanity.  We took our seats, and
had got through some slices of ham and toast, when Lord Robert told us
to help ourselves to coffee.  As the ship was rolling and pitching, I,
knowing what might happen if I filled my cup, poured out only a small
quantity.  Poor Dicky, not aware of the necessity of taking the same
precaution, filled his to the brim; when, just as he was about to lift
it to his lips, out flew the contents over the fine blue damask
table-cloth.  On this Lord Robert jumped up, his countenance exhibiting
anything but an amiable expression, and, seizing poor Dicky by the
collar, he gave him a kick which sent him flying to the cabin door, with
an expression which sounded very unlike a blessing, exclaiming--

"Who is to wash breakfast-cloths for such a young powder-monkey as you?
Remember that in future you only breakfast with me once a month."  Then
turning to me, he said in a gentle tone, "You see, Finnahan, I must
maintain discipline."

I of course said nothing, but bolted the remainder of my breakfast as
fast as I could, thinking it prudent to take my leave, lest his lordship
should, with or without reason, find fault with anything I might do, and
treat me in the same way.



CHAPTER TWENTY THREE.

A MIDDY FLOGGED.

On returning to the berth, I found poor Dicky blubbering, and looking
very melancholy.

"It was not the loss of my breakfast, for I don't care if I never have
another with him, but it was the indignity with which I was treated," he
exclaimed.  At this most of our messmates laughed.

"Indignity, do you call it, Dicky, to be kicked by a lord?  It's a high
honour," said old Grumpus, who had joined us just before we sailed, and
did duty as mate of the lower deck.  "Look out, youngster, that you
don't get treated with greater indignity before long.  I took the
skipper's measure the day I first set eyes on him.  With all his mincing
manners and fine talk, depend upon it he'll prove a Tartar at bottom."

Besides Dicky, another youngster had come to sea for the first time, and
was related, it was supposed, to the captain.  Alfred de Lisle was
somewhat older than Dicky Larcom, and a refined, nice fellow.  I took a
great liking to him, though he had his faults.  He was excessively
indignant when he heard how Dicky had been treated.

"It's a great shame.  I wouldn't stand it," he exclaimed.  "If he treats
me in the same way, I'll leave the ship and go home."

"Bravo, youngster," cried Grumpus, backing him up.  "There'll be one
less in the service to be placed over my head one of these days, and so
I approve of your resolution; only just stick to it.  When the captain
next orders you to do anything you don't like, just let it alone.  Don't
say you won't, or you'll be guilty of mutiny."

De Lisle took what Grumpus said in downright earnest, though I didn't
fancy he would have done so, or I should have given him better counsel.

As the gale increased, the captain, as we heard, sent for the first
lieutenant, and said he should like to bear up for the Cove of Cork or
Plymouth Sound.

"There's just one objection to our doing that," observed old
Rough-and-Ready.  "You see, my lord, they happen to be right away to
windward, and we can no more get there until the wind shifts, than we
can reach the moon.  We'll heave the ship to, if your lordship pleases,
and she'll be so much nearer Portsmouth than if we run on as we're
doing."

"Oh, pray heave to; it is the best thing we can do under the
circumstances," answered his lordship.

The hands were accordingly turned up, and the ship brought to the wind
at the risk of carrying away some of our bulwarks and boats.  We thus
rode, hove-to, for a couple of days, when, the gale moderating, we were
able to make sail, and steer for the Channel.

As soon as the weather was fine enough, old Rough-and-Ready, according
to promise, kept all hands exercising at the guns and shortening and
reefing sails for hours together.  He was in no hurry to get into port
again, as he wanted before then to have a smart ship's company.

This evidently gave the captain great satisfaction, for he knew he would
gain the credit, and he was not above wishing that for himself, if it
could be obtained without too much trouble.  He had come on deck with
his arms akimbo to give his orders, in a voice very different from that
in which he spoke when in his cabin or ashore, introducing as many
expletives and adjurations as the boatswain himself could have done.  No
sooner had the sails been again loosed, and tacks and sheets hauled
down, than he sang out once more--

"Shorten sail.  If you're not smart enough about it, I'll flog the last
man in off the yards."

The midshipmen had to furl the mizzen-topsail.  We consequently flew
aloft with the rest.  De Lisle, though active enough in general, didn't
at all like this, and chose to take his time about it.  He was
consequently the last on deck.  The captain had marked several of the
men for punishment, which they got the next morning, and took it as a
matter of course.  The captain, however, said nothing to De Lisle, who
did not dream, therefore, that he would carry out his threats.  He was
in the morning watch the next day, and had to turn out at eight bells to
assist in holy-stoning and washing down decks.  This was always done
under the supervision of the first lieutenant, who appeared on such
occasions in an old sou'-wester, a jacket patched and darned, a
comforter round his throat, and a pair of blue trousers tucked up at the
knee, without shoes or stockings.  The midshipmen had also to go about
with bare feet, as of course had the men.  They, with buckets in hand,
were dashing the water over the decks to carry off the sand through the
scuppers, and then they had to dry the decks with huge swabs, which they
swung about, now bringing them down on one side, now on another, with
loud flops.  When old Rough-and-Ready's eye was off them, all sorts of
larks would take place.  One would heave a bucket of water over a
messmate, the other would return it with interest, and a battle royal
would ensue, till every one was soused through.  Then one fellow would
bring his swab across the back of another, and a swab fight would
generally follow, till the first lieutenant would turn round and call
them to order.

De Lisle on this morning had not made his appearance.  At length
Rough-and-Ready, recollecting him, sent below.  He came up dressed in
full uniform.

"What are you after?" exclaimed the first lieutenant staring at him.
"Turn to at once, and attend to your duty."

"I don't consider it my duty, sir, to engage in such dirty work as
washing down decks; I should spoil my dress if I did," answered De
Lisle.

"What I order you is your duty; and if I tell you to put your hands in
the tar-bucket and black down the rigging, you'll have to do it," said
the first lieutenant, for once in a way growing angry.

"I'll go and change my clothes, then, sir," said De Lisle.

He was so long about this that when he came on deck the operations were
concluded, and the men were flemishing down the ropes.  Rough-and-Ready
said nothing at the time, and De Lisle attended to his duty as usual.
Before noon, however, the captain sent for several of us youngsters into
the cabin.  Though I had been so long at sea I was still considered a
youngster.  The master-at-arms was standing with a small cat in his
hand, a weapon of punishment capable of inflicting a considerable amount
of pain, but not of so formidable a character as the large cat used on
delinquents among the crew.  By the captain's side stood his clerk, with
a printed document in his hand.

"Read the Articles of War," said the captain, "and do you youngsters
listen."

When he came to the part referring to obedience to the orders of
superior officers, he looked at De Lisle, and exclaimed in a thundering
voice--

"Do you hear that, youngster?  Prepare to receive the punishment you
merit for disobedience to orders."

On the port side was a gun which Lord Robert had chosen to have painted
green, carriage and all, to make it harmonise with the furniture.

"Strip," he said.

De Lisle, trembling, seemed disinclined to obey; but the master-at-arms
seized him, and quickly had his jacket off, and his back exposed.  He
then, in spite of the boy's struggles, secured him to the gun.

"Give him half-a-dozen lashes," said the captain.

The cat descended till the blood came.

"I'll tell my father and mother," sang out poor De Lisle in his agony.

"Two more for that," cried the captain.

"Oh! could my brothers and sisters see my disgrace!" cried out poor De
Lisle, scarcely knowing what he said.

"Two more for that," shouted Lord Robert.

Again the cat descended.  He thus got ten instead of six lashes.  He did
not again speak.  Overcome by his feelings rather than by the pain, he
had fainted.  The captain sent for the doctor, who soon brought him to,
when he was led off to the surgery to have his wounds attended to.

"That's a lesson for you all, young gentlemen," said Lord Robert in a
subdued tone, differing greatly from that which he had lately used.
"I'm determined to maintain discipline aboard my ship; and you'll
understand that though I wish to treat you all with consideration, I
will certainly punish any disobedience to orders."

We looked at each other, and then at the captain, and, supposing that we
were not required to stay longer, I led the way out of the cabin,
followed by the rest, my feelings boiling over with indignation, for I
had never before seen a midshipman flogged.  Still I could not but
acknowledge that De Lisle merited punishment, and he confessed as much
to me afterwards, though he did not expect to receive it in that
fashion.  He harboured no ill-will towards the captain in consequence,
and became far smarter than he had ever been before in attending to his
duties.  The lesson was not thrown away on any of us, and we took good
care not to run the risk of incurring the captain's displeasure.
Notwithstanding the captain's effeminate looks and manners, he managed
to gain the respect of the men, who liked to have a lord to rule over
them, though they knew well enough that it was old Rough-and-Ready who
had got the ship into such prime order; and for him they would have gone
through fire and water, though they might not have wished to have him in
supreme command.  The captain having abundance of stores on board, our
cruise continued for a longer period than we had expected, and we in the
midshipmen's berth had run short of all our luxuries, and were condemned
to exist on salt junk and hard biscuits.  This gave old Grumpus,
Nettleship, and other oldsters the opportunity of grumbling, which made
them, as Tom said, perfectly happy.  We enjoyed, however, an occasional
blow-out, when we breakfasted or dined with the captain.  We were
beginning to wish, however, that another war would break out, or that we
might return into port and have a spree on shore.

Besides making and shortening sail, we were constantly exercised at the
guns, as well as the small arms.  Our chief employment was firing at a
cask with a flag at the top of it, in doing which we expended as much
powder and shot as would have enabled us to fight a couple of pitched
battles; but it made the men expert gunners, and would have enabled
them, as old Rough-and-Ready observed, to take an enemy's frigate in
half the time they would otherwise have done.

At length we sighted the coast of Ireland, and, with a westerly breeze,
stood up Channel under all sail.  We expected to put into Plymouth, and
Nettleship invited Tom and me to come and pay his mother and sister a
visit, but, to our disappointment, we found the ship passing the
Eddystone, and heard that we were to go on to Portsmouth, where the
captain had his reasons for wishing to remain, namely, that he might be
so much the nearer to London.  On a fine bright morning we stood in
through the Needles, and steered for Spithead, where the fleet was lying
at anchor.  We carried on in fine style as we stood up the Solent,
between the Isle of Wight and the mainland, exciting the admiration of
all beholders on shore.

"Now, my lads, let's show the admiral how smartly we can shorten sail
and bring the ship to an anchor," said the captain, who appeared in full
fig on deck.

We were all on the alert, and the moment "Away aloft!" reached our ears
we flew up the rigging.  The boatswain's pipe sounded shrill, the
topsails came down smartly with a loud whirr.  The ship was rounded to,
the men lay out on the yards and briskly handed the canvas, and the
anchor was let go, a short distance from the flag-ship.  Directly
afterwards a signal was made for Lord Robert to go aboard her.  I had
the honour of accompanying him.  The boats were newly painted, the men
wearing white trousers and shirts, the oars without a speck; and in good
style we dashed alongside.

The admiral received Lord Robert on the quarter-deck, and desired to
compliment him on the splendid way in which he had brought his ship to
an anchor.  Lord Robert bowed, and, with a self-satisfied smile, replied
he was glad to find that his efforts to bring his crew into a state of
good discipline met with approval, and his only regret was that, it
being peace time, he was unable to bring in a prize in tow, which, as he
pleasantly observed, he should otherwise without doubt have done.

I thought that he might possibly refer to the assistance he had received
from old Rough-and-Ready, but not a word escaped his lips to allow the
admiral to suppose that all was not due to his own admirable system.  He
then hinted that the ship had been in some heavy weather, and that it
might be necessary to go into harbour, to have her damages made good.
The admiral made no objection, and we accordingly, the next morning, got
under weigh, and stood in to Portsmouth harbour, where we brought up
some distance from the dockyard.  We found two or three other frigates
lying there, and several sloops-of-war and corvettes and brigs.

We had not been there long before our captain received invitations from
the residents in the neighbourhood, who had known him as a lieutenant
and commander, and were accustomed to make much of him.  He was
acquainted with most of the captains of the other ships, and they were
constantly dining on shore in each other's company.  They had all been
invited to dinner at the house of a baronet some miles out of
Portsmouth, and their boats were ordered to be in waiting for them at
about half-an-hour after midnight.  All the commanders and most of the
post-captains were young men, full of life and spirits, two or three of
them noted for their harum-scarum qualities.

I had been sent to bring off Lord Robert, and a midshipman was in each
of the other boats belonging to the different ships.  We waited and
waited for our respective captains, sitting in the stern-sheets wrapped
in our thick cloaks, afraid to go ashore lest our men should take the
opportunity of slipping off into one of the public-houses on the Common
Hard, standing temptingly open.

At last we heard the voices of a party of revellers coming along, and I
recognised among them that of my captain, who seemed to be in an
especially jovial mood.

In those days there stood on the Hard a sentry-box, furnished with a
seat inside, on which the sentry was accustomed to sit down to rest his
legs between his turns.

Presently I heard Lord Robert sing out--

"Hillo! where's the sentry?"

He and the other captains then gathered round the box.  The sentry was
fast asleep.  They shouted to him.  He made no reply.  There was a good
deal of laughing and talking.  Then they called several of the men, and
in another minute they brought the sentry-box, with the sentry in it
still fast asleep--or rather dead drunk--down to the boats.  Securing
two together, the sentry-box was placed across them, and, the order
being given, we shoved off.  Instead, however, of returning to our
ships, we made our way across the harbour to the Gosport side, when the
sentry-box was safely landed, and placed with the sentry, his head
fortunately uppermost, and his musket by his side, on the beach.

We then left him, the boats casting off from each other amidst shouts of
laughter, and we pulled back to the _Jason_.  The captain didn't say
much, for the best of reasons, he was not very well able to use his
tongue, but rubbed his hands, chuckling at the thoughts of what he had
done.  I helped him up the side, and assisted him to his cabin.

I believe most of the other captains were also, as he was, three sheets
in the wind, or they probably would not have engaged in the proceeding.

Next morning, soon after daybreak, Nettleship and I were sent ashore by
the first lieutenant to look out for three men who had not come off on
the previous evening, and who, it was supposed, might have deserted.

"Something like looking for a needle in a bundle of hay," said
Nettleship, as we pulled towards the Hard.  "The chances are we shall
find them drunk in some house or other, or perhaps in the gutter with
black eyes and broken heads.  It's not pleasant work, but it must be
done."

I said nothing about the condition in which the captains had come off
the previous evening, but I thought to myself if captains set such an
example, no wonder if the men follow it in their own fashion.

On landing we found an unusual number of people on the Hard for that
early hour, while parties of soldiers, headed by sergeants, were passing
at the double-quick march.  We inquired of one of the men we met what
had happened.  He said that on the relief coming to the spot where the
sentry-box had stood, and finding neither box nor sentry, they had been
seized with alarm.  The captain of the guard had immediately reported
the circumstance to the fort major, and, forgetting that peace had been
established, he roundly asserted that the French squadron was at
Spithead, that the Isle of Wight had been captured, and that Portsmouth
would be attacked.  The whole garrison was aroused, and the telegraphs
on the hills set to work to communicate the intelligence far and wide.
As I was the only person in the boat who knew what had actually
occurred, I thought it prudent to hold my tongue and let things take
their course.  Nettleship and I therefore proceeded in search of the
men, and before long found them, much in the condition we had expected,
though sufficiently recovered to walk.  Helped along by their shipmates,
we got them down to the boats.  The excitement was still at its height,
when, just as we were shoving off, a boat arrived from the Gosport side,
with the astounding intelligence that the missing sentry-box, with the
sentry in it, was standing upright on the beach.  Immediately a number
of boats, one of which contained the captain of the guard and several
other officials, pulled across to investigate the matter.

"We may as well go to see the fun," said Nettleship; "the first
lieutenant won't find fault with us when I explain the object."

Away we pulled with the rest, and lay off the beach, while Captain
Bouncer and his party landed.

The sentry, who was standing in his box, stepped out, and saluted in due
form.

"How did you get here, my man?" inquired Captain Bouncer in an angry
tone.

"Faith, captain, that's more than I can be after telling you," answered
the sentry, whom I recognised as a countryman.

"You don't mean to tell me that you don't know how you and your
sentry-box were transported across the harbour in the middle of the
night!" exclaimed Captain Bouncer.

"That's just what I'm saying I can't do, captain dear," replied the
sentry.

"You must have been drunk as a fiddler," shouted the captain.

"I can swear, your honour, by all the holy saints, that I was sober as a
judge," answered Pat.  "Shure it's my belief I was lifted up by a couple
of witches riding on broomsticks, and carried across without so much as
wetting my feet, for my boots are as dry as if they had been roasting
before the fire."

"If witches carried the man across, they must be hunted up and
punished," cried one of the bystanders.

"Witches be hanged!" exclaimed the captain; "the man must give a better
account than that of the way he came across."

"Then, captain, if it was not witches, it must have been a score of
will-o'-the-wisps, who just upset the sentry-box and towed it across the
harbour while I was sitting quiet, not dreaming of what was happening,
and only just looking up at the stars shining brightly above me," said
Pat in a wheedling tone.

"You must have been asleep, at all events, or you would have discovered
that your box was being moved," said the captain.

"Asleep is it, your honour!" exclaimed the sentry; "shure Pat Donovan,
and that's myself, never went to sleep on guard since he listed in His
Majesty's army."

"Whether the sentry was drunk or asleep, whether transported across by
witches or imps, we must have the sentry-box back again," said Captain
Bouncer, and he gave orders to have it lifted into a boat.  This was
found, from its weight, not to be an easy matter, confirming the people
in their belief that the sentry had been carried across as he stated,
for if heavy when empty, it must have been much heavier with him in it.

Poor Pat meantime was placed under arrest, and carried away to be
further examined by the town major, and dealt with as might seem
expedient, while we pulled back to our ship.  There were many among the
crowd who believed that Pat Donovan, of her Majesty's 3---th regiment,
had been spirited across Portsmouth harbour by a couple of witches
riding on broomsticks, though where they were to be found was more than
one could say.  We heard afterwards that a dozen old women had been
seized and accused of the crime, and that had it not been for the
interference of certain naval officers, whose names were not mentioned,
they would have been subjected to the ordeal of being ducked in the
harbour, or tossed in a blanket.  It was reported that our captain had
seen what he took to be a sentry-box floating across the harbour on the
night in question, and he could swear that no such agency as was
reported had been employed.  Whatever the educated might have believed,
the lower classes were still forcibly impressed with the idea that the
sentry-box and sentry had been carried across by witches; but on board
ship the real state of the case was soon known, and the men, who kept
the secret, chuckled over the credulity of their friends on shore.

Portsmouth had become very dull, I was told, since the war was over, and
we certainly at times found a difficulty in knowing how to pass our
time.  Our captain occasionally posted up to London, but, having no
business there, received a hint from the Admiralty that he must remain
on board his ship, and therefore had to post down again as fast as he
could.  He consoled himself by spending nearly all the day on shore,
generally at the houses of people in the neighbourhood.  He had one
evening gone to dine at a house situated some way in the country, on the
Gosport side, and he had ordered his boat to be waiting for him at the
nearest landing-place to it, punctually at ten o'clock.  As he had a
picked crew, not likely to desert, no midshipman went in the boat.  As
it happened, the doctor, the second lieutenant, and the lieutenant of
marines had been invited to spend the evening close to Gosport, and I
was ordered to go and bring them off at half-past ten, not far from the
place where the captain had intended to embark.  When I got in I found
his boat still there.  The men had been talking and laughing, and had
evidently managed to get some liquor on board.  They did not see me, and
as I was afraid that they might send over some to my men, I kept my boat
as far off as I could get.

Presently the steward came down, and told the coxswain that his lordship
had made up his mind to stay on shore, and that the boat was to return
to the ship.  Just then, however, I saw an animal of some sort, but what
it was I could not distinguish through the gloom of night, come close
down to the water.  A couple of the men instantly jumped ashore, and,
catching hold of it, lifted it into the boat, laughing and chuckling
loudly.  I had a short time longer to wait before the officers came
down.

Of course I said nothing of what I had seen.  We pulled alongside the
frigate, the boats were hoisted up, and my watch being over, I turned in
to my hammock.  I had not been long asleep when my ears were saluted by
the most unearthly sounds, so it seemed to me, that ever broke the
stillness of night.  A universal panic seemed to be prevailing.  Men
were rushing up on deck, shouting out that Old Nick himself had gained
possession of the ship, some carrying their clothes with them, but
others only in their shirts, leaving in their terror everything else
behind.

The alarm which had begun forward extended aft; the marines, headed by
their sergeant and corporal,--though the sentries still remained at
their posts,--ever mindful of their duty, and ready to do battle with
foes human or infernal.  I and the other midshipmen, thus awakened from
our sleep by the fearful sounds, jumped out of our hammocks, and began
dressing as fast as we could.  It was not until I was half-way up the
ladder, and still not quite awake, that I recollected the occurrence at
the landing-place.  Again the sounds which had alarmed us came forth
from the lower depths of the ship.  Many of the men in their terror
seemed inclined to jump overboard.

Before long, however, old Rough-and-Ready came hurrying on deck, with
his small-clothes over his arm and night-cap on head; his voice rang out
above the uproar, inquiring what was the matter.  The drum beat to
quarters, the boatswain's whistle sounded shrilly, piping all hands on
deck, though the greater number were there already.  No one answered the
first lieutenant's question.

Again the sound was heard.  The men who were at their stations seemed
inclined to desert them, when it struck me that only one animal in
existence could make that fearful noise, and as matters were getting
serious, I went up to the first lieutenant and said--

"I fancy, sir, that it's a donkey's bray."

"Of course it is," exclaimed Mr Saunders.  "How in the name of wonder
came a donkey on board the ship?"

I thought it prudent not to reply; and the second lieutenant and other
officers who had come off with me of course said that they knew nothing
about it.

The first lieutenant, having now got into his breeches, calling the mate
of the lower deck, the master-at-arms, and others, to bring lanterns,
descended to the fore-hold.  None of the men, however, except those who
were summoned, appeared inclined to follow them.  I, however, expecting
to have my suspicions verified, went forward with Tom Pim.  We heard old
Rough-and-Ready shouting out for a tackle, and in another minute up came
an unfortunate donkey.  The poor brute, having fallen into the hold, had
given expression to its dissatisfaction by the sounds which had driven
the ship's company well-nigh out of their wits.

How the donkey had come on board was still to be discovered.  My boat's
crew knew nothing about the matter; and it was surprising that the
captain's crew, including the coxswain, were equally unable to account
for the mysterious occurrence.  As they had been engaged in transporting
the sentry-box across the harbour, it was just possible that they might
have taken it into their heads to imitate the example of their
superiors, and play a trick on their own account.

Whatever the first lieutenant might have thought on the subject, he took
no steps in the matter, but awaited the return of the captain.  The
first thing the next morning, however, he sent the poor donkey ashore.

Late in the afternoon Lord Robert came on board, and received due
information of what had occurred.  Perhaps he might have suspected how
the donkey had entered the ship; at the same time it is possible that
his conscience may have smote him for having set the example of
practical joking.  At all events, he made no strenuous attempts to
discover the culprits.  The next day he issued an order that, even if
his satanic majesty and a thousand of his imps should come aboard, the
men were not to turn out of their hammocks till piped up by the
boatswain.



CHAPTER TWENTY FOUR.

A TRIP TO LONDON.

While we lay in harbour, three ships of Sir Edward Hughes' squadron from
the East Indies came home and were paid off, the crew not only receiving
their pay, but large sums for prize-money.  Scarcely had they dropped
their anchors than the ships were boarded by hundreds of harpies in all
shapes, eager to fleece the crew,--or rather, to win their confidence,
in order to fleece them as soon as they had received their hard-earned
wages.  Pinchbeck watches, copper chains which passed for gold, huge
rings for the fingers and ears, trinkets of all sorts, and cutlery made
of tin, were pressed upon Jack as loans, to be paid for as soon as he
landed; and the moment he got his pay, no time was lost in commencing
the operation of fleecing him.  Some sturdy fellows, who had been played
that trick often before, attempted to resist the importunities of their
pretended friends, and kept their hands in their pockets, turning
scornful glances on either side, as they rolled along; but most of them,
unless they could resist the grog-shop, were very soon doomed to fall
into more warily-laid traps.

Tom and I were on shore the day the _Hero_ was paid off, one of the
ships which had so often encountered the squadron of the French Admiral
de Soufryen.  The whole of Portsmouth was in an uproar.  We met dozens
of stout fellows rolling along, with massive chains hung from their
fobs, rings on their fingers, their heads adorned with lovelocks,
pigtails, and earrings, with female companions hung on to each of their
arms, rolling and shouting as they went, paying no respect to anybody
out of uniform, in the height of good humour as long as they could have
their way, but evidently ready to quarrel with any one whom they might
fancy wished to interfere with them.

At the door of one of the principal inns we found a couple of coaches,
with four horses each, prepared for starting, and surrounded by some
twenty or thirty seamen.  Some quickly clambered up on the roof and into
the front seats, and others behind; those who had climbed outside
shouting out that the ship would be top-heavy if the rest did not stow
themselves away below, the last half-dozen or so got inside.

"Drive on, coachee," cried one of the men in front; "let's see how fast
your craft can move along."

The coachman smacked his whip, and off galloped the horses, the men
cheering and waving their hats at the same time, and throwing showers of
silver among the boys in the street, who had gathered to look on, and
who were soon engaged in a pretty scrimmage to pick up the coins thus
profusely bestowed on them.  Tom and I could with difficulty refrain
from joining in the scramble.

The junior officers were at a paying-off dinner at the "Blue Posts," to
which Tom and I, and Nettleship, who afterwards joined us, were invited.
The wine of course flowed freely.  Before the feast was over, the
larger number of the party scarcely knew what they were about.

At last it was proposed that we should sally forth, and out we went,
arm-in-arm, in good humour with ourselves, and ready for anything that
might turn up.  One of the party commenced a sea-song, in the chorus of
which we all joined at the top of our voices, awaking the sleeping
inhabitants, who, however, were not unaccustomed to such interruptions
to their slumbers.  We were becoming more and more uproarious, when we
encountered a party of watchmen in greatcoats, carrying lanterns and
rattles.  Having been lately reprimanded for allowing disturbances in
the streets, they took it into their heads to disperse us, telling us in
no very courteous manner to return on board our ships.  They were
received with shouts of laughter, and, as they still persisted in
interfering, our leader cried out--

"Charge them, lads."

At the word we rushed forward, scattering the old gentlemen right and
left.

"Chase them, boys! chase them!" cried our leader.

As they went up one street, and then down another, this was no easy
matter, and we became quickly dispersed.

"I say, Paddy, this sort of thing doesn't do," said Tom.  "It may be all
very well for those fellows who are paid off, and are going home, but we
shall be getting into a row before long, and it would look foolish to
return on board with broken heads and black eyes."

Just then we met Nettleship, who had been looking for us, and who, being
perfectly sober, fully agreed with Tom.  We accordingly directed our
course to the Point, where we knew we should find a boat to take us off.

Just as we were turning out of the High Street, however, we encountered
three of the guardians of the night who had been assailed by our party.
They instantly accused us of attacking them, and I fully expected that
we should be carried off into durance vile.

"How dare you say anything of that sort?" said Nettleship.  "We belong
to the _Jason_, Lord Robert Altamont, and his lordship will take very
good care to bring you to justice should you venture to detain us.  Make
way there.  Let us pass."

The watchmen were overawed by his manner, and we walked steadily on.
Seeing that we were perfectly sober, they supposed that we did not
belong to the party, as they had at first fancied, and we reached the
water's edge without further interruption.

"You see the dangerous consequences of being in bad company," observed
Nettleship.  "We might have been kept locked up all night, and had our
leave stopped for a month when we returned on board."

"But you joined us," said Tom.

"I know I did," said Nettleship, "and I am more to blame than you are,
in consequence of setting you so bad an example; but that does not
prevent me from reading you a lecture.  It's easier to preach than to
practise."

"You are right, I see," said Tom; "and I am very glad we haven't lost
our senses, as most of the other fellows have done."

We roused up a waterman who was sleeping in the bottom of his boat, and
got on board the frigate in time to keep the middle watch.

Lord Robert Altamont being fond of amusing himself on shore, was willing
to allow his officers the same liberty, provided a sufficient number
remained on board to maintain the discipline of the ship, for which he
was at all times a great stickler.

"You have never been in London, Paddy," said Nettleship to me one day.
"I have some business that calls me up there.  It's a legal affair, and
if I am successful it will add some fifty pounds or more a year to my
mother's income.  I have obtained leave, and if you like to accompany
me, I'll ask leave for you to go, and promise to take charge of you."

It was not likely that I should refuse such an offer, and, leave being
obtained, we set off by the coach as Nettleship intended.  We had inside
places, for there was only room outside for four persons besides the
coachman, and on the hinder part, on a little box of his own, sat the
guard, arrayed in a scarlet coat, a three-cornered hat, a brace of
pistols in his belt, a hanger by his side suspended by a sash over his
shoulder, while a couple of blunderbusses were stuck into cases on
either side of him ready to his hand.

"Why does the man carry all these arms?"  Tasked.

"If he didn't, the chances are that the coach, when passing over
Hounslow Heath, would be attacked by highwaymen or footpads, and the
passengers robbed, if not murdered," answered Nettleship.  "As it is,
occasionally some bold fellows stop the coach and cry, `Your money or
your lives,' and the guard is either shot down or thinks it wise not to
interfere, and the passengers have to deliver up their purses."

"I hope that sort of thing won't happen to us," I said.

"When they look in and see two naval officers, with a brace of pistols
and swords by their sides, the highwaymen will probably ride on.  They
are generally, I fancy, arrant cowards, and prefer pillaging old
dowagers, who are likely to afford good booty without any risk," said
Nettleship.

Notwithstanding Nettleship's assertions, I half expected to be stopped,
but we reached London in safety.  When he had time Nettleship
accompanied me about to see the sights, but when he was engaged I had to
go out by myself, and consequently very often lost my way.  I always,
however, managed to get back to our lodgings without having to obtain a
guide.  I will not here describe the adventures I met with.  As,
according to Nettleship's advice, I looked upon every one who spoke to
me as a rogue, I escaped being fleeced, as some of my shipmates were who
ventured into the metropolis by themselves.  Our leave had nearly
expired, and we had to be down at Portsmouth the following evening.
When we went to the coach office to secure our places, we were told that
the whole coach had been engaged, it was supposed by a gentleman who was
going to take down his family.

"But we must go," said Nettleship to me, "even if we travel in the boot,
for I've not got money enough left to pay for posting, and I should not
like to expend it so even if I had."

We waited until the coach drove up to the office, expecting to see a
dignified gentleman with his wife and daughters inside, and his sons and
servants on the outside.  What was our surprise, then, to behold only a
jovial Jack Tar, with his arms akimbo, seated on the roof, looking as
dignified and independent as the Sultan on his throne.

"Come, there's plenty of room," I said to Nettleship.  "No one else
seems to be coming; the gentleman who took the coach has probably
delayed his journey."

Nettleship put the question to the coachman.

"There's the gentleman who's taken the coach," he replied, pointing with
his thumb over his shoulder.  "He says it's his, and that no one else is
to ride, inside or out.  He has paid his money, and we can't interfere."

All this time Jack was regarding us with supercilious glances.  I felt
very indignant, and proposed opening the door and getting inside,
whatever the seaman might say, but the doors were locked, and the
shutters drawn up.

"That will never do," observed Nettleship.  "Let me tackle him, though
it won't do to give him soft sawder.  I say, my man, you lately belonged
to the _Hero_, didn't you?" he asked.

"Yes, I did, but I'm free of her now," answered Jack.

"You fought some pretty smart actions in her, I've a notion.  We have
heard speak of them.  My young messmate and I were out in the West
Indies, and belonged to the _Liffy_.  She ran ashore.  Then we joined
the old _Cerberus_, which went down in the Atlantic; and then we went on
board the _Hector_, which fought the two French frigates.  We had a
narrow squeak for our lives, for she went the way of our former ship.
And now we belong to the _Jason_, and shall have to keep the middle
watch to-night, which is what you'll not have to do, I fancy.  Now if we
overstay our leave and don't get down, you know what the consequences
will be."

"I've some notion of it," said Jack.  "What is it you're driving at?"

"If you'll just let us get inside your coach we'll say you're a mighty
good fellow; and if you don't, we'll leave you to call yourself what you
think you would be," answered Nettleship.

"Come, I like an outspoken fellow," said Jack.  "Jump in, youngsters;
I'll give you a passage down, and nothing to pay for it.  You guard
there, with your long horn, open the door and let the young gentlemen
in, but mind you, you take up nobody else, not if the First Lord and all
the Admiralty come and axe for places."

In we sprang with our valises, and we heard Jack shout--

"Make sail, coachee, and see how many knots you can run off the reel."

The coachman smacked his whip, and away we rattled through the villages
of Knightsbridge, Kensington, and Hammersmith.  The coach pulled up at
the "Green Dragon" at the latter place, and some parcels were offered,
but Jack kept his eyes about him, and would not let one be taken on
board.  In an authoritative tone he ordered the landlord to bring us out
a tankard of ale, and likewise treated the coachman and guard.  As we
knew it would please him, we did not refuse the draughts.  He flung the
landlord a sovereign.

"There's payment for you, old boy," he cried out.  "Don't mind the
change; and, I say, you may treat as many thirsty fellows as you like
with it.  Now drive on, coachee."

Thus Jack went on at each stage, sitting, while the coach was in motion,
with his arms folded, looking as proud as a king on his throne.  I
thought at one time that he would have quarrelled with us because we
declined to taste any more of the ale he offered.  He was pretty well
half-seas over by the time we arrived at Portsmouth.  When he came to
the door to help us out, Nettleship began to thank him.

"I don't want your thanks, young masters," he answered gruffly.  "I've
had my spree, and maybe before long I shall be at your beck and call;
but I'm my own master now, and intend to remain so as long as the gold
pieces jingle in my pocket.  Maybe I'll have another ride up to London
in a day or two, and if you like the trip, I'll give it you.  You may
thank me or not as you like."

Nettleship and I saw that it would be no use saying more, so, wishing
him good evening, we took our way down to the Hard.  I turned for a
moment, and saw our friend rolling up the middle of the street with his
hands in his pockets, as proud as the grand bashaw.

A few nights after this Tom Pim and I, having leave on shore, took it
into our heads to go to the theatre.  In the front row of seats sat our
friend who had given us so seasonable a lift down from London.  The
seats on either side of him were vacant, and when any one attempted to
occupy them he told them to be off.  He had taken three seats that he
might enjoy himself.  There he was, with his arms folded, looking as if
he thought himself the most important person in the house.  There were a
good many more seamen on the other benches,--indeed, the house was more
than half filled with them, some in the pit, others in the upper boxes
and galleries.  The play was "The Brigand's Bride."  The lady evidently
had a hard time of it, and appeared to be in no way reconciled to her
lot, her great wish being clearly to make her escape.  In this attempt
she was aided by a young noble in silk attire, who made his appearance
whenever the brigand, a ferocious-looking ruffian, was absent.  The lady
made piteous appeals to the audience for sympathy, greatly exciting the
feelings of many of them, though Tom and I were much inclined to laugh
when we saw the brigand and the lover hob-nobbing with each other behind
a side scene, which, by some mischance, had not been shoved forward
enough.  At length the young count and the brigand met, and had a
tremendous fight, which ended in the death of the former, who was
dragged off the stage.  Soon afterwards, the lady rushed on to look for
him, and the brigand, with his still reeking sword, was about to put an
end to her existence, when, stretching out her hands, she exclaimed--

"Is there no help for me on earth?  Am I, the hapless one, to die by the
weapon of this cruel ruffian?"

"No, that you shan't, my pretty damsel," cried our friend Jack,
forgetting all the stern selfishness in which he had been indulging
himself,--"not while I've got an arm to fight for you."

Just as he was speaking, a dozen of the brigand's followers had appeared
at the back of the stage.

"Hurrah, lads!  Boarders! repel boarders!" he exclaimed, starting up.
"On, lads, and we'll soon put this big blackguard and his crew to
flight."

Suiting the action to the word, he sprang over the footlights, followed
by the seamen in the pit.  The lady shrieked at the top of her voice,
not at all relishing the interruption to her performance, and far more
afraid of the uproarious seamen than of the robber from whom she had
just before been entreating protection.  Bestowing a hearty box on
Jack's ear, she freed herself from his arms, and rushed off the stage,
while the brigand and his companions, turning tail, made their escape.

"Blow me if ever I try to rescue a young woman in distress again, if
that's the way I'm to be treated," cried Jack.  "Shiver my timbers, if
she hasn't got hold of that vagabond.  There they are, the whole lot of
them, carrying her off.  No, it's impossible that she can be wanting to
go with such a set of villains.  On, lads! on! and we'll soon drive them
overboard, and just bring her back to learn what she really wants."

Saying this, Jack, followed by a score of seamen, rushing up the stage,
disappeared behind the side scenes.  We heard a tremendous row going on
of mingled cries and shouts and shrieks.  Presently the seamen returned,
dragging with them the perfidious heroine, and well-nigh a dozen of the
brigands whom they had captured.  In vain the latter protested that they
were not really brigands, but simply scene-shifters and labourers, who
had been hired to represent those formidable characters.  The lady also
asserted that she was the lawful wife of the robber chief, and the
mother of six children, and that she didn't stand in the slightest fear
of him, but that he was the kindest and most indulgent of husbands.

At length the manager came on the stage, leading forward the murdered
youth and the brigand himself, who now, having laid aside his beard and
wig, looked a very harmless individual.  The manager, politely
addressing the seamen, requested them to return to their seats and allow
the performance to continue.  After some persuasion they complied, but
the illusion was gone, and by the loud remarks which issued from their
lips they evidently took very little interest in the plot of the piece.

"I say, Smith, how are the babies at home?" shouted one.

"You know if you was such a villain as you say, you would be triced up
to the yard-arm in quarter less than no time," cried another.

The poor actress, as she reappeared, was saluted with, "How goes it with
you, Mrs Smith?  Have you been to look after the babies?" while the
carpenters and scene-shifters were addressed as Jones and Brown and
other familiar names.

In vain the manager protested against the interruption of the
performance.  He was desired to dance a hornpipe or sing a sea-song.  To
the latter invitation he at last acceded, and at length restored
somewhat like order in the theatre.  Tom and I, having to return on
board, left the house before the performance was concluded, so I can
give no further account of what happened on that memorable evening.

Some days after this, the boatswain, with a party of men, having gone
ashore to obtain some fresh hands to fill up our complement,--there was
no need of the press-gang at that time,--returned on board with six
stout fellows.  Among them I recognised the seaman who had given us a
passage down in the coach from London, and who had taken so prominent a
part in the defence of the brigand's bride.  They were at once entered,
the man I speak of under the name of John Patchett.  He looked at
Nettleship and me as if he had never before seen us in his life, and I
at first almost doubted whether he could really be the same man; but
when I observed the independent way in which he went rolling along the
deck, evidently caring for no one, and heard the tone of his voice, I
was certain that he was the fellow I had supposed; so also was
Nettleship, who said that he would have a talk with him some day, under
pretence of learning what ships he had served aboard.  He told me
afterwards that he had done so, but that Patchett didn't allude to his
journey in the coach.  His only answer when he asked him if he knew
anything about it was--

"Well, the fellow had his spree, but he was a fool for all that."

At last Lord Robert, whose name had appeared very frequently at balls
and entertainments given in London, received peremptory orders from the
Admiralty to put to sea.  He came back in very ill-humour, complaining
as before to Mr Saunders of the harsh treatment he received from the
Admiralty.  In a cheerful tone the following day old Rough-and-Ready,
who was always happier at sea than in harbour, gave the order to unmoor
ship.  Visitors were sent on shore, and sail being made, we stood out of
Portsmouth harbour to Spithead.  We there dropped our anchor near the
spot where, four years before, the _Royal George_ with brave Admiral
Kempenfeldt and upwards of four hundred men, went down.  A large buoy
marked the place where the stout ship lay beneath the waves.

Some cases of claret and other stores which Lord Robert expected had not
arrived, and he declared that it would be impossible to put to sea
without them.  It was a matter of perfect indifference to us in the
midshipmen's berth how long we remained, or where we went, for in those
piping times of peace we expected to have very little to do.  In that
respect we were not mistaken.  After waiting three days, the expected
stores, which had come down from London by waggon, were brought
alongside, and, going out by Saint Helen's, we stood down Channel.  We
put into Plymouth Sound, where we remained a whole week, while Lord
Robert went on shore; but as it was impossible to say at what moment we
might be ordered to sea, no leave was granted.  We all wished for a gale
of wind from the south-west, which might compel us to run into Hamoaze,
as the Sound itself afforded no shelter.  Lord Robert had better have
kept at sea if he had wished to remain on the home station, for by some
means or other information was sent to the Admiralty of our being at
Plymouth, and a courier came down post haste from London, with
despatches for the _Jason_ to convey to the Mediterranean.  We were well
pleased when the news was brought aboard.  The captain, however, looked
in not very good humour at having to go so far from home.  The wind
being to the eastward, we immediately got under weigh, and proceeded on
our course down Channel.  Old Rough-and-Ready tried his best to restore
the men to their former discipline, by exercising them at the guns, and
repeatedly shortening and making sail.  The despatches, I suppose, were
of no great importance, as Lord Robert appeared not to be in a hurry to
deliver them.  We took it easily, therefore, and at times, when the wind
was light or contrary, furling everything, and then making all sail
again; that done, we had once more to reef and furl sails, and to brace
the yards about.  However, at last we got a strong breeze and continued
our course.  About a month after leaving Plymouth, we came in sight of
the Rock of Gibraltar, and brought up in the bay.  Lord Robert delivered
the despatches he had brought out to the governor.  We got leave to land
and visit the wonderful galleries hewn out in the Rock, which had bid
defiance to the fleets and armies of France and Spain when General
Elliot was in command of the place, in 1782, while we were in the West
Indies.  We heard many particulars of the gallant defence.  General
Elliot had comparatively a small force of troops to garrison the
fortress, but they were reinforced by the seamen of the fleet, who were
landed, and formed into a brigade under the command of Captain Robert
Curtis, of the _Brilliant_ frigate.  The French and Spaniards had a
fleet of forty-seven sail of the line, besides floating batteries of a
peculiar construction, frigates, zebecks, gun and mortar boats, and
upwards of 40,000 troops, who besieged the fortress on the land side.
The naval brigade had charge of the batteries at Europa Point, and so
ably did they work their guns, that they soon compelled the Spanish
squadron to retire out of the reach of their shot.  Besides the vessels
I have mentioned, the Spaniards had 300 large boats, collected from
every part of Spain, which were to be employed in landing the troops.
Early in the morning on the 13th September, the fleet, under the command
of Admiral Moreno, got under way, and, approaching to a distance of
about a thousand yards, commenced a heavy cannonade, the troops on the
land side opening fire at the same time.  It was replied to by the
garrison with tremendous showers of red-hot shot, which, falling on
board the Spanish ships, set that of the admiral and another on fire.
The Spaniards were seen in vain attempting to extinguish the flames.
The fiery shower was kept up, and during the night seven more vessels
took fire in succession.  The Spaniards were seen making signals of
distress, and the boats of their fleet came to their assistance, but
were so assailed by the showers of shot, that they dared no longer
approach, and were compelled to abandon their ships and friends to the
flames.



CHAPTER TWENTY FIVE.

IN THE MEDITERRANEAN.

When morning broke, a scene of fearful havoc was exhibited.  Numbers of
men were seen in the midst of the flames imploring relief, others
floating on pieces of timber; and even those on board the ships where
the fire had made but little progress were entreating to be taken off.
Captain Curtis, on seeing this, regardless of the danger he was running,
or that those in distress were enemies, embarked with several of his
boats to their assistance.  They boldly boarded the burning ships and
rescued the perishing crews.  While engaged in this glorious service,
one of the largest of the ships blew up, scattering its fragments far
and wide around.  One English gunboat was sunk, and another was
considerably damaged.  A piece of timber falling struck a hole in the
bottom of the barge in which was Captain Curtis.  His coxswain was
killed, and two of his crew wounded, and the boat would have sunk had
not the seamen stuck their jackets into the hole.  By these means she
was kept afloat till other boats came to their assistance.  Don Moreno
left his flag flying on board his ship, and it was consumed with her.
The English garrison had sixty-five killed and four hundred wounded, and
the naval brigade only one killed and five wounded.  Soon after this a
heavy gale from the southward sprang up, dispersing the enemy's fleet.
A fine seventy-four was driven close under the Rock, when, after a few
shots, she struck.  Others received much damage.  The garrison was
finally relieved by the fleet under Lord Howe, who attacked the French
and Spaniards, and gave them a severe drubbing.  They managed, however,
to escape, and stood up the Mediterranean, where Lord Howe didn't
consider it prudent to follow them.  Tom Pim and I agreed that we wished
we had been there.  When we had gone over the place, we were not so much
surprised as we might have been at its having been able, with so small a
garrison, to resist the enormous force brought against it.  The
Spaniards received a lesson at that time which they have never since
forgotten.

All now looked peaceable and quiet.  The country people came jogging on
their mules across the neutral ground up to the forts, and seemed on
perfectly good terms with their old enemies.  After spending a week at
Gibraltar, we steered for the Bay of Naples, Lord Robert intending, we
heard, to pay his respects to the king and queen of that very
insignificant state, and to give an entertainment to their majesties.
Cork harbour is a fine place, but the Bay of Naples, we all agreed, beat
it hollow.

Lord Robert went on shore, and was, we suppose, received by the king and
queen, for two days afterwards we were ordered to dress the ship with
flags, and to rig an awning over the quarter-deck, so as to turn it into
what looked very much like a tent.  Old Rough-and-Ready grumbled as if
he were not at all pleased at what he had to do, but he did it
notwithstanding.  All the officers then turned out in full uniform, and
shortly afterwards we saw a magnificent barge coming off, followed by a
number of smaller boats.  The barge came alongside, and the captain went
down the accommodation ladder which had been rigged to receive his royal
guests.  They seemed highly pleased with the appearance of the ship,
and, it was said, did good justice to the banquet which had been
prepared for them.  We then very quickly unrigged the tent and hauled
down the flags, and, getting under weigh, took a cruise round the bay.
As the water was perfectly smooth, their majesties seemed to enjoy
themselves, and the king remarked that he was not surprised that the
King of England's son should become a sailor.

"I've a notion that the prince has a very different sort of life to
this," remarked old Rough-and-Ready, "though I have no doubt they make
it as easy for him as they can."

When we came to an anchor, their majesties, with their courtiers, went
ashore, and we had the ship to ourselves.  We got leave to visit a
number of ruins and other places.  As far as we could judge, we should
have time to become well acquainted with the neighbourhood, as our
captain was evidently intent on enjoying himself after his own fashion,
and showed no inclination to put to sea.  Lord Robert knew, however,
that even he must not remain there for ever, and, fearing that the
commodore might come in and send him off, with orders not to return,
reluctantly came on board; the anchor was weighed, and we sailed on a
cruise along the African coast.  At that time the Barbary States, as
they were called, were nominally at peace with England, but their
cruisers didn't object to capture English merchantmen when they could
fall in with them, and carry off their crews into slavery.  In the
daytime we stood close to the coast, and at night kept at a respectful
distance.  We had one night been standing to the eastward, about nine
miles off the land.

Just as day dawned the look-out from aloft shouted, "Two sail ahead!"

"What are they like?" inquired the first lieutenant.

"I can't make out, sir," was the answer.  "One seems to me as if she had
boarded the other, for she's close alongside."

Mr Saunders at once sent me aloft to have a look at the strangers.  I
was also at first puzzled, till the light increased, when I made out an
English merchant vessel, and a foreign-looking ship alongside her.  Soon
after I came down, and had reported what I had seen, we made them out
clearly from the deck.

"We must overhaul those fellows," said the first lieutenant, and he
instantly gave orders to make all sail.

The breeze was increasing, and we soon neared them.  At last we saw the
larger ship make sail, and stand in for the land, while the other
remained, with her yards some one way some another.  As she was not
likely to move, we steered after the first.  The captain had been
called, and now made his appearance on deck.  Our fear was that the
stranger would run on shore, or get into some harbour before we could
come up with her.  That she was an Algerine pirate, and had been engaged
in plundering the brig, we had no doubt.  However, she was not a very
fast sailer, and we soon got her within range of our guns.

"Give her a shot across the forefoot, and make her heave to," cried the
captain, who was more animated than I had ever yet seen him.

Our larboard bow-chaser was fired, but the Algerine took no notice of
it.  We now sent our shot as fast as our guns could be run in and
loaded.  Several struck her, and at last her main-yard was knocked away.
Still she stood on, her object being, apparently, to induce us to
follow till we ran ashore.  The men were sent into the chains to heave
the lead.  Occasionally the chase fired at us, but her shot did us no
damage.

"She will escape us after all," cried the captain, stamping with
impatience.

Scarcely had he uttered the words than there came a loud roar.  Up rose
the masts of the Algerine, with her deck, and fragments of wreck and
human bodies, and then down they fell into the water, and, except a few
spars and planks, the fine vessel we had just seen vanished from sight.
The frigate's head was at once put off shore; the boats were lowered,
and pulled away to rescue any of the unfortunate wretches who had
escaped destruction.  I went in one of the boats, and we approached the
scene of the catastrophe.  We saw two or three people clinging to the
spars, but as they perceived us they let go their hold and sank from
sight, afraid, probably, of falling into our hands alive.  As soon as
the boats returned on board, the frigate's sails were filled, and we
stood for the brig alongside which we had seen the Algerine, hoping to
find that her crew had escaped with their lives, even though the vessel
might have been plundered.  As we again caught sight of her, however, we
observed that her yards were braced, some one way, some another, and she
lay like a boy's model vessel on a pond, without a hand to guide the
helm.

"That looks bad," observed Nettleship.

"Perhaps the poor fellows are below, thinking the Algerine still in
sight, and are afraid to return on deck," I remarked.

"Very little chance of that," he replied; "however, we shall see
presently."

On getting near the brig, the frigate was hove-to, and I was sent in a
boat with the second lieutenant to board her.  A fearful sight met our
eyes.  On her deck lay stretched the bodies of her officers and crew,
almost cut to pieces by the sharp scimitars of their assailants.  We
hurried below, hoping to find some still alive, but not a voice answered
to our shouts.  Finding a couple of lanterns, we explored the vessel
fore and aft, but the wretches who had just met their doom had made
certain work of it, having killed every human being who had attempted to
resist them.  Many of the sufferers whom they had captured must have
perished when their vessel blew up.  The lieutenant sent me back to
report the state of things to the captain.  After a short talk with Mr
Saunders, Lord Robert sent for Nettleship.

"I put you in charge of the brig," he said.  "You may take Pim and
Finnahan with you, and follow close in our wake, I intend to steer for
Gibraltar, and will there ascertain whether it is necessary for me to
send the brig to England or not."

On receiving the captain's orders through Mr Saunders, we immediately
got our traps ready, and the boat carried us on board the brig, with
eight hands to form our crew.  Among them was Larry, who jumped into the
boat in the place of another man, who was glad enough to escape having
to go, and Jack Patchett, our coach friend, who proved himself, though a
sulky, self-conceited fellow, a prime seaman.  As we were short-handed
we were not sorry to have him.  On getting on board the brig we had
first to bury the bodies of the murdered crew.  Her ship's papers showed
her to be the _Daisy_ of London, John Edwards, master.  The pirates had
rifled his pockets, and those of his mates, so that we were unable to
identify them.  We at once, therefore, set to work to sew the murdered
men up in canvas, when, without further ceremony, they were launched
overboard.  We then washed down decks, to try and get rid of the dark
red hue which stained them; but buckets of water failed to do that.

The lieutenant and his men having assisted us in knotting and splicing
the rigging, and in bracing the yards the proper way, returned on board
the frigate, which directly made sail, we following in her wake.  The
_Daisy_ was not a fast craft, and though we made all sail we could
carry, we found she was dropping astern of the frigate.

"It matters very little," said Nettleship, who had brought his quadrant
and Nautical Almanac; "we can find our way by ourselves."

We saw the frigate's lights during the early part of the night, but
before morning they had disappeared.  This being no fault of ours, we
did not trouble ourselves about the matter.  As daylight approached the
breeze fell, and became so light that we scarcely made more than a knot
an hour.  As soon as it was daylight, we turned to with the holy-stones
to try and get the blood-stains out of the deck before they had sunk
deeply in.  We were thus employed till breakfast.  By this time the wind
had completely dropped, and it became a stark calm, such as so often
occurs in the Mediterranean.  The brig's head went boxing round the
compass, and chips of wood thrown overboard lay floating alongside,
unwilling to part company.  The heat, too, was almost as great as I ever
felt it in the West Indies.  Still we tried to make ourselves as happy
as we could.  We were out of sight of the African coast, and were not
likely to be attacked by Salee, Riff, or Algerine corsairs; and Tom
observed that if we were, it would be a pleasing variety to our day's
work, as we should to a certainty beat them off.

"We must not trust too much to that," observed Nettleship.  "We have
only six small pop-guns, and as we muster only eleven hands, all told,
we might find it a hard job to keep a crew of one hundred ruffians or
more at bay."

We kept the men employed in putting the brig to rights, and setting up
the rigging, which had become slack from the hot weather.  As the vessel
was well provisioned, and one of the men sent with us was a tolerable
cook, we had a good dinner placed on the table.  Nettleship and I were
below discussing it, while Tom Pim had charge of the deck.  I hurried
over mine, that I might call him down, and was just about to do so,
having a glass of wine to my lips, when there came a roar like thunder,
and over heeled the brig, capsizing everything on the table, and sending
Nettleship and me to the lee side of the cabin.  We picked ourselves up,
and rushed to the companion ladder, but it was upset.

While we were endeavouring to replace it, I heard Tom's voice shouting--

"Cut, lads, cut!"

Just as he had uttered the words, a succession of crashes reached our
ears, and the brig righted with a suddenness and force which threw us
off our legs.  We quickly, however, had the ladder replaced, and sprang
up on deck.  We found that both the masts had been carried away by the
board and were trailing alongside.  Tom Pim was holding on to the
starboard bulwarks, while Jack Patchett was at the helm, steering the
brig before the gale.  None of the men appeared to have been lost or
injured, but were standing forward, looking very much astonished at what
had happened.

"The first thing to do is to clear the wreck," cried Nettleship, and he
called the men aft; while I ran down to get up some axes which we had
seen in the cabin.

When I returned on deck, to my surprise I found that the wind had
suddenly fallen.  The brig had been struck by a white squall, which
frequently occurs in the Mediterranean, and either whips the masts out
of a vessel, or sends her to the bottom.

We accordingly, under Nettleship's directions, began hauling the masts
alongside, to obtain such spars as we could that might serve us to form
jury-masts.  We could scarcely hope, with the limited strength we
possessed, to get the masts on deck.  We were thus employed till dark.
We had saved the spars and some of the sails, though it was rather
difficult to avoid staving in the boats, which had been lowered that we
might effect our object.  The weather might again change, and it was
important to get up jury-masts as soon as possible.

During the night, however, we could do but little, as the men required
rest.  One half, therefore, were allowed to turn in.  The night was as
calm as the greater part of the day had been.  At dawn we all turned out
and set to work.  We were thus employed, when I saw several sail
standing down towards us, and bringing a breeze with them.  I pointed
them out to Nettleship.

"It's to be hoped the wind will continue moderate," he said, "or we may
be driven nearer to the African coast than may be pleasant."

We were at this time just out of sight of land, to the northward of
Algiers.  As the ships got nearer, we made them out to be a large fleet,
several being line-of-battle ships, others frigates, and vessels of
various rigs.  In a short time many more came in sight, till we could
count upwards of one hundred.  These appeared not to be all.  The larger
number had lateen sails and long tapering yards.

"What can they be about?" asked Tom.

"That's more than I can say," said Nettleship; "but I suspect they are
bound upon some expedition or other,--perhaps to attack the Algerines."

As we got near enough to make out their flags, we distinguished four to
be Spanish ships, two had Maltese flags flying; there were two
Portuguese, and one Sicilian.

"Then I have no doubt about it," said Nettleship, "for the Dons and
Portingales have the chief trade up the Levant, and are likely to suffer
most from those rascally corsairs.  Since Blake gave them a good
drubbing they have generally been pretty careful how they interfere with
English vessels; but we have strong proof in this unfortunate craft that
they want another thrashing to keep them in order."

As we had not as yet got up our jury-masts, we were unable to move out
of their way, and there appeared to be some risk of our being run down.
Every now and then Jack Patchett hailed with his stentorian voice, and
warned the vessels approaching us that they might pass ahead or astern,
as the case might be.  At last a Spanish man-of-war, carrying an
admiral's flag, was sailing quite close to us, when a voice asked from
her deck in English--

"Can we render you any assistance?"

"The best assistance you can give us, is to take us in tow, and carry us
to Gibraltar," answered Nettleship.

He said this without the slightest expectation of its being done.

"We'll heave to and send a tow-rope on board," was the answer; and
presently the line-of-battle ship, shortening sail, hove-to under our
lee.  A couple of boats being lowered, came rowing towards us.  Their
object, we found, was to tow us close enough to receive a hawser on
board.

As one of them came alongside, an officer stepped on to our deck, and,
advancing towards Nettleship, said--

"I am an Englishman, and have joined an expedition to attack Algiers,
for my hatred and detestation of the cruelty the Algerians inflict on
the unfortunate Europeans they capture.  An English vessel in which I
sailed lately up the Levant was attacked, and not until we had lost
several men did we succeed in beating off the Algerines."

Nettleship explained that the _Daisy_ had also been plundered and her
people murdered.

"That is a good reason why you should join us in our proposed attack on
Algiers," said the officer.  "I must introduce myself to you as Henry
Vernon, a name not unknown to fame.  I am a nephew of the admiral, and
my desire is to emulate his deeds."

Nettleship at once agreed to accompany the fleet, and expressed his
readiness to take part in the expected engagement.

"We have no help for it," he said to Tom and me; "and I think I am
justified in agreeing to Mr Vernon's proposal.  We shall, I expect, see
some heavy work.  Algiers is a strong place, I'm told, and the Algerines
are not likely to knock under without trying to defend themselves."

Tom and I were of course well pleased with this.

The Spanish ship, the _Guerrero_ having taken us in tow, continued her
course after the fleet.  We waited just out of sight of land till
nightfall, when, some of the smaller vessels piloting ahead, we stood in
towards the Bay of Algiers.

Before daybreak the troops were embarked on board a number of galleys
and gunboats, which landed them a short distance from the town.

By Harry Vernon's advice we dropped our anchor out of range of the
Algerine guns, as the brig could not be of any assistance in the attack.
Nettleship had resolved to go on board the flag-ship to assist.  Tom
and I asked him to take us with him.  He replied that it was impossible
for both of us to go, but that Tom Pim should remain in charge of the
brig with four hands, while the rest of us should go on board the
_Guerrero_ to assist in working her guns.  Tom did not at all like this
arrangement, but Nettleship replied that as he was senior to me, he was
the proper person to take charge of the brig.  We shook hands with him
as we went down the side to go on board the flag-ship.

"Never mind, Tom," said Nettleship, "you're doing your duty by remaining
where you are."

The Admiral Don Antonio Barcelo expressed his pleasure, through Harry
Vernon, at having the assistance of so many English officers and men,
whose noted courage, he said, would animate his crew.

The wind being fair at daybreak, the line-of-battle ships stood slowly
in, each having to take up an appointed position before the town.  The
ships were stationed as close as they could venture, the gun and mortar
boats being placed in the intervals between them, but still closer to
the shore.

Scarcely had the anchors been dropped and the sails furled, than the
Algerines began blazing away along the whole line of their batteries,
the ships discharging their broadsides at the same moment.  The troops
had been ordered to make an assault at the same time; and it was hoped
by the combined efforts of the land and sea forces that the pirates
would soon be compelled to yield.

After some hours of firing, however, news was brought to the admiral
that the assault made by the troops had failed, and as far as we could
judge from what we could see through the wreaths of smoke which
enveloped the ships, no impression had been made on the walls of the
city, though the flames bursting forth here and there showed that some
of the houses inside had been set on fire.  Don Antonio Barcelo, thus
finding that his efforts were unavailing, the wind having shifted,
ordered the ships to get under weigh, and stand out of the reach of the
Algerine shot.

We had lost a few men, but had not been at sufficiently close quarters
to receive much damage.  Vernon was much disappointed, and so were we;
but the admiral assured him that he would go at it again the next day,
after the troops had had a little breathing-time.

He was as good as his word; and soon after dawn the fleet again stood
in, and recommenced the attack.  The Algerines, however, kept up so
tremendous a fire, that some of the ships, being much damaged, withdrew
to a safer distance.  The admiral also received information that the
enemy had made a sortie on the troops, and had driven them back with
fearful slaughter.  Still he was undaunted, and declared his intention
of succeeding.

"If he would dismiss a few of the Maltese and Sicilian ships, he would
have a better chance of doing so," said Vernon.  "The Spaniards and
Portuguese are brave enough, but they are not much given to coming to
close quarters, while the others would keep out of the fight altogether
if they could."

Another attack was accordingly planned, and Don Antonio ordered the
smaller craft to stand closer in than before.  The other ships, however,
brought up at a respectful distance when they found the Algerine shot
came rattling aboard them.  Judging by the thunder of the guns and the
amount of the smoke, it seemed to me impossible that the Algerines could
long stand out against our assaults.  In all directions houses were seen
in flames; and I thought that the whole city must be burned down, for
the flames were extending, yet the guns and batteries replied with as
much briskness as at first.  Again news was brought from the shore that
the troops had made another assault, but that the Algerines had sallied
out, and were cutting them fearfully up.  On this Don Barcelo notified
his intention of going himself to lead them, and invited Vernon to
accompany him.

"If you like to come and see what is going on, I can give you a seat in
the boat," said Vernon, an offer I was delighted to accept.

We at once pulled off from the side of the flag-ship.  The admiral had
promised Vernon the command of one of the ships, the captain of which
had shown the white feather, and he expected to have the honour of
leading the attack and taking the ships in closer.  Away we pulled, but
we had not gone very far when a couple of shots struck the boat herself,
killing three men.  I remember hearing two distinct crashes, and the
next moment found myself in the water, and about to sink.  I believe I
should have gone down, had not a friendly hand held me up; and, looking
to see who it was, I recognised the face of my faithful follower, Larry
Harrigan.

"It's all right, Mr Terence, and I'll not let you go while I can keep
my feet moving," he cried out, energetically treading water.  "We will
swim back to the big ship, and there'll be plenty of ropes hung over the
sides by this time."

The distance, however, was considerable, and, independent of the chances
of being hit by the round shot which were plunging into the water around
us, I doubted whether we could swim as far, even though I did my best to
second his efforts to keep me afloat.  We were now joined by Patchett,
who came swimming up, and offered to assist Larry in supporting me.

"Hurrah! here comes a boat," cried Patchett.

Looking round, I saw one approaching, and soon made out Nettleship
standing up in the stern-sheets; but as the shots from the Algerine
batteries came plunging into the water close to her, it seemed doubtful
whether she would reach us.  She soon, however, got up uninjured, and I
and my companions were taken on board.  We then went on to where two
persons were still floating.  The one was Vernon.  He had been gallantly
supporting the Spanish admiral.

"Take him aboard first," cried Vernon; "he's unable to help himself."

We accordingly hauled in the Don, while Vernon held on with one hand to
the gunwale of the boat.  Nor till the admiral was safe would Vernon
allow us to lift him in.  He sat down, looking very ghastly.

"Why, my dear fellow, you are yourself wounded," said Nettleship,
examining his shoulder, from which the blood was flowing.

"Yes, I fancy I was hit," answered Vernon, though I have not had time
yet to think about it.

"The sooner you're under the doctor's care the better," said Nettleship,
as he got the boat round.  "Now give way, lads."



CHAPTER TWENTY SIX.

A MIRACULOUS ESCAPE.

The Spanish crew understood his gestures more than his words, and with
might and main pulled back to the flag-ship.  As we went on, the shot
fell like hail around us, but providentially none of us were hit.  On
getting to the opposite side of the ship, the admiral and Vernon were
lifted on board.  The rest of us quickly followed.  Vernon was at once
carried below to be placed under the care of the surgeon; while, without
waiting to change our wet clothes, we hurried to the guns, to encourage
the Spanish crew, some of whom appeared to think they had had enough of
it.  Don Barcelo, however, retired to his cabin, and, having changed his
uniform, shortly afterwards reappeared.  He showed no wish, however, to
make another attempt to land, but sent off despatches by an officer to
the commander of the land forces.  What were their contents did not at
the time transpire.  He continued, however, pacing the deck, watching,
as far as the smoke would allow, the other ships, and the forts opposed
to us.

"I very much doubt whether we shall thrash the Algerines after all,"
said Nettleship to me.  "The villains fight desperately, and I can't see
that we have made a single breach in any part of the walls.  See! two
more of our galleys have sunk; and I have seen half-a-dozen gun or
mortar boats go down.  Several of the ships and frigates are already
tremendously cut about.  The old Don is a plucky fellow, or he wouldn't
keep at it so long."

While he was speaking the admiral came up, pointing first towards a
sinking vessel, and then at one of the boats alongside.

"Just ask him, Paddy, if he doesn't want me to go and rescue the
fellows," said Nettleship.  I addressed the admiral in French, which he
understood tolerably well.

"Yes, I shall be obliged to him if he will.  My officers and men are
required to fight the ship," answered the admiral.

"They don't exactly like the sort of work," observed Nettleship; "but
I'll go willingly."

"And I will go with you," I said.

We ran down and got into the boat, followed by Larry and Patchett, the
rest of our crew being made up of Spaniards, who were ordered by their
officers to man the boat.  Away we pulled, and had time to save a good
many people from the vessel, which had sunk before we reached her.  We
were exposed all the time to the shot, which came splashing into the
water close to us.  I heartily hoped that none would come aboard, for,
crowded as the boat was, a number of the people must have been killed.
There was no necessity to tell the Spanish crew to give way, for they
were eager enough to get back.

Soon after returning on board, the admiral, having received intelligence
from the shore that the attack had again failed, threw out a signal to
his ships to discontinue the action.  Fortunately the wind enabled us to
stand off the shore, in spite of the shattered condition of many of the
ships, when we anchored out of range of the enemy's guns.  As soon as we
had brought up, Nettleship and I went down to see Vernon.  Though the
surgeon had told him that the wound was a bad one, he didn't complain.

"I fear, after all, that we shall not succeed, and I advise you,
Nettleship, to return on board your brig, and get her into a condition
to put to sea," he said.  "The admiral may not be able to help you as I
could wish, and you will have to look out for yourself."

Nettleship thanked him for his advice, saying that he intended to follow
it, as we could not further assist the cause, and that it was our duty
to get the brig to Gibraltar as soon as possible.

The admiral had invited both of us to supper in the cabin.  He spoke in
the highest terms of Vernon, and said that he had intended to give him
command of one of his ships, that he might lead the next attack.

"I wish, gentlemen, also to show you my high sense of the assistance you
have rendered me by coming on board," he added.

When I translated this to Nettleship, he said--

"Tell the old fellow that I shall be obliged to him if he'll send a
dozen of his best hands, with such spars and rigging as we require, to
set up jury-masts."

"It shall be done to-morrow," replied the admiral.  "I intend to give
the crew of my ships a short breathing-time before I again renew the
attack."

Though we were ready enough to fight, we were not sorry to find the next
day that the old Don was as good as his word, and had sent us on board a
sufficient number of spars, which, with the aid of his men, enabled us
to set up jury-masts, and to get the brig into condition for putting to
sea.  The Spaniards worked very well, and as soon as their task was
accomplished, Larry offered to give them a tune on his fiddle.

When, however, he began scraping away, instead of jumping up, and toeing
and heeling it as Frenchmen would have done, they stood with their arms
folded, gravely listening to his strains.

"Arrah, now, my boys, there is no quicksilver in your heels," he
exclaimed, observing their apathy.  "What's the use of playing to such
grave dons as you?"  We then tried them with a song, but with no better
effect.  At last their officer, who took supper with us in the cabin,
ordered them into the boat, and they pulled back to their ship.

"I say, Paddy," said Tom, "I wish that you would let me go instead of
you to-morrow, if the dons make another attack on the city.  I daresay
Nettleship will consent, if you ask him."

I did not like to disappoint Tom, but at the same time, as I should
thereby be avoiding danger, it was just the request to which I could not
well agree.

Nettleship, however, settled the matter.  "To tell you the truth," he
answered, "I have been thinking over what is our duty, and have arrived
at the conclusion that, now the brig is ready for sea, we ought to make
the best of our way to Gibraltar.  As far as I can judge, no impression
has been made on the city; and if the Spaniards and their allies could
not succeed while their ships were in good order, they are less likely
to do anything now.  Had the Spanish admiral requested our assistance,
we should have been bound to afford it; but as he said nothing on the
subject, I don't feel called upon to offer it again."

We, however, remained at anchor during the night.  The next day the
fleet showed no signs of renewing the attack, though righting was taking
place on shore.  Nettleship, however, having desired me to accompany
him, we pulled on board the flag-ship to bid farewell to Don Barcelo and
Henry Vernon.  The admiral again thanked us, but, from the remarks he
made, I judged that he was rather anxious than otherwise that we should
go away, so as not to witness his defeat.  When I wished him success, he
looked very gloomy, and made no reply.  Having paid him our respects, we
went down into the cockpit to see Vernon, who was, we were sorry to
find, suffering greatly.  The surgeon, however, who was present, assured
me that his wound was not mortal, though it would be some time before he
recovered.  When Nettleship told him his intention of leaving the fleet,
he replied that it was the wisest thing he could do.

"If you could speak Spanish you might have taken the command of the ship
which was to have been given to me; but as it is, the men would not
place confidence in you, and you could do nothing with them; so, to tell
you the truth, I think you are well out of it.  Our success is very
uncertain.  The troops on shore have again been defeated with heavy
loss, and I suspect have been so demoralised that they'll take to flight
whenever the enemy rush out upon them."

These remarks strengthened Nettleship in his resolution, and, wishing
our new friend good-bye, we pulled back to the brig.  The wind was from
the south-east, and Nettleship thought it prudent to get a good offing
before night, lest it should again shift and blow us back towards the
land.  The brig sailed under her reduced canvas tolerably well, and
before daybreak the next morning we had made fair progress towards
Gibraltar.  As the sun rose, however, the weather gave signs of
changing.  The wind veered round to the north-west, and blew heavily
directly towards the Bay of Algiers.

"Don Barcelo and his fleet will catch it, I'm afraid, if they don't
manage to get out of the bay before this gale reaches them," remarked
Nettleship.  "I'm very thankful that we put to sea, or we should have
fared ill."

As it was, we ran a great risk of losing our masts; but they were well
set up, and we shortened sail in good time, and were able to keep our
course.  Our chief anxiety, however, was for the gallant Henry Vernon;
for should the flag-ship drive on shore, he would to a certainty lose
his life.

"We must hope for the best," observed Nettleship; "the _Guerrero_ was
less damaged than many of the other ships, and may be able to ride it
out at anchor, or claw off shore."

As we could never manage to get more than four knots an hour out of the
brig, we were a considerable time reaching Gibraltar.  To our
satisfaction we found the _Jason_ was still there.  We were warmly
congratulated on our return on board, as from our non-appearance for so
long a time it was supposed that we had either been lost in a squall, or
that the brig had been taken by another pirate.  We were much
disappointed to find that the brig had to be delivered up to the
authorities at Gibraltar, as we fully expected that Nettleship would
have been ordered to take her home.  Though she was an especially
detestable craft, yet he and Tom Pim and I were very happy together, and
we had enjoyed an independence which was not to be obtained on board the
frigate.  When Lord Robert got tired of Gibraltar, we sailed to the
eastward, and again brought up in the Bay of Naples.  We here heard of
the failure of the expedition against the Algerines.  Nearly half the
troops had been cut to pieces in the repeated and resolute sallies made
by the Moors.  During the gale we had encountered, the ships narrowly
escaped being wrecked.  Several smaller vessels sank, and all were
severely damaged.  The troops were finally embarked, and the ships got
back to the ports from which they had sailed, with neither honour nor
glory to boast of.  Their ill success encouraged the pirates in their
warfare against civilised nations.  The people of Tripoli, Tunis, and
other places imitated their example, so that the voyage up the Straits
became one of considerable danger in those days.  After leaving Naples
we stood up the Mediterranean to Alexandria, where we saw Pompey's
Pillar and Cleopatra's Needle, and other wonderful things in the
neighbourhood, of which I will not bother my readers with a description.
On our way we kept a sharp look-out for Tunisian or Algerine rovers;
but as we were known to be in those seas, they took good care that we
should not get a sight of them, and our cruise was bootless as far as
prizes were concerned.  Lord Robert managed to eke out a few more weeks
at Naples, the pleasantest place, he observed, at which he could bring
up.  Thence we sailed to Gibraltar, where we found orders awaiting us to
return to England.

"I have managed it very cleverly," said Lord Robert to Mr Saunders.
"When I was last here, I wrote to some private friends in the Admiralty,
telling them I was getting heartily tired of the Mediterranean, and
requesting that we might be sent home; and you see how readily their
Lordships have complied with my wishes.  Their willingness arose from
the fact that I'm going to stand for one of our family boroughs, and
have promised the Ministry my support."

"It would be a good job for Dick Saunders if he had a friend at court to
look after his interests," said the first lieutenant; "but as he knows
not a soul who would lift a finger to help him, he must be content to
remain at the foot of the rattlins, till a lucky chance gives him a lift
up them."

"Don't be down-hearted, my dear fellow," said Lord Robert in a
patronising tone.  "When once I'm in Parliament I'll look after your
interests.  The First Lord is sure to ask me to name some deserving
officers for promotion, and I'll not forget you."

We had contrary winds, and then we were hove-to for two or three days,
during a heavy gale in the Bay of Biscay.  After that we were kept
knocking about in the Chops of the Channel for a week, when, the wind
shifting, we ran for Plymouth Sound, and came to an anchor in Hamoaze.

Lord Robert immediately went on shore, and we all wondered what would
next happen to us.

We had no reason to complain.  We got plenty of leave.  Tom and I
accompanied Nettleship to pay a visit to his family.  I won't describe
it just now, except to say that we were received in as kind a way as
before.

We guessed that if Lord Robert was returned to Parliament we should have
no further chance of seeing any foreign service while the ship remained
in commission.  Nettleship, indeed, was of opinion that before long she
would be paid off.

I wrote home to say where we were, and in the course of a fortnight
received a letter from the major, telling me to come to Ballinahone if I
wished to see my father alive.  I with difficulty obtained leave on
urgent family affairs, and next day, going to the Catwater, I found a
small hooker belonging to Cork, just about to return there.  Although
she was not the sort of craft aboard which I should have chosen to take
a passage, yet as she was likely to afford the most speedy way of
getting to my destination, I forthwith engaged berths for myself and
Larry, for whom I also got leave.

Nettleship and Tom went on board with me.  There was a little cabin aft,
about eight feet square, with a sleeping place on either side, one of
which was occupied by the skipper, while I was to enjoy the comforts of
the other.  The crew, consisting of three men and a boy, were berthed
forward, in a place of still smaller dimensions, and only just affording
room for Larry.

"I would rather you had gone to sea in a stouter craft," said
Nettleship; "but as the skipper tells me he has made the passage a dozen
times a year for the last twenty years, I hope he'll carry you across in
safety."

The wind was light, and my messmates remained on board, while the hooker
towed their boat some way down the Sound.

Wishing me farewell, they then pulled back to Hamoaze, and we stood on,
fully expecting to be well on our voyage by the next morning.  During
the night, however, a strong south-westerly breeze sprang up, and the
skipper considered it prudent to put back to Cawsand Bay, at the
entrance to the Sound.

Here, greatly to my disgust, we lay the best part of a week, with a
number of other weather-bound vessels.  I dared not go on shore lest the
wind should change, and had nothing to do but to take a fisherman's walk
on deck,--three steps and overboard.

Larry had, of course, brought his fiddle, with which he entertained the
crew, who were as happy as princes, it being a matter of indifference to
them where they were, provided they had the privilege of being idle.

The skipper, who had remained on board all the time, at last one day
went ashore, saying that he must go and buy some provisions, as our
stock was running short.  We had hitherto been supplied by bumboats with
vegetables and poultry, so that I had not supposed we were in want of
any.

I had fortunately brought two or three books with me, and had been
sitting reading by the light of the swinging lamp in the small cabin,
when, feeling sleepy, I went to bed.  I was awakened by hearing some one
entering the cabin, and, looking out of my berth, I observed that it was
the skipper, who, after making a lurch to one side, then to another,
turned in, as far as I could see, all standing.  This, however, did not
surprise me, as I thought he might be intending to sail early in the
morning.

Soon after daylight I awoke, and, having dressed, went on deck, when
what was my surprise to find that all the other vessels had got under
weigh, and were standing out of the bay.

I tried to rouse up the skipper, but for some time could not succeed.
When he opened his eyes, by the stupid way he stared at me, it was very
evident that he had been drunk, and had scarcely yet recovered.  I told
him that a northerly breeze had sprung up, and that we had already lost
some hours of it.  At last, getting up, he came on deck, and ordered his
crew to heave up the anchor and make sail; but this they could not have
done without Larry's and my assistance.

As I hoped that the skipper would soon recover, I did not trouble myself
much about the matter.  He had brought the stores he had procured in a
couple of hampers, which I found on deck.  They contained, as I
afterwards discovered, not only provisions, but sundry bottles of
whisky.

There being a fresh breeze, the little hooker ran swiftly along over the
blue ocean; the Eddystone being soon left astern and the Lizard sighted.
The skipper told me he intended to run through the passage between the
Scilly Islands and the main.

"If the wind holds as it does now," he said, "we'll be in Cork harbour
in a jiffy.  Shure the little hooker would find her way there if we were
all to turn in and go to sleep till she gets up to Passage."

"As I'm not so confident of that same, captain, I must beg you to keep
your wits about you till you put me ashore," I observed.

He gave me a wink in reply, but said nothing.

During the day I walked the deck, going into the cabin only for meals.
The skipper spent most of his time there, only putting up his head now
and then to see how the wind was, and to give directions to the man at
the helm.  From the way the crew talked, I began to suspect that they
had obtained some liquor from the shore, probably by the boat which
brought the skipper off.  Not being altogether satisfied with the state
of things, I offered to keep watch.  The skipper at once agreed to this,
and suggested that I should keep the middle watch, while he kept the
first.

Before I went below the wind veered round almost ahead.  The night, I
observed, was very dark; and as there was no moon in the sky, while a
thick mist came rolling across the water, had I not supposed that the
skipper was tolerably sober I should have remained on deck; but, feeling
very sleepy, I went below, though thinking it prudent not to take off my
clothes.  I lay down in the berth just as I was.  I could hear the
skipper talking to the man at the helm, and it appeared to me that the
vessel was moving faster through the water than before.  Then I fell off
to sleep.

How long I had slept I could not tell, when I was awakened by a loud
crash.  I sprang out of my berth, and instinctively rushed up the
companion ladder.  Just then I dimly saw a spar over me, and, clutching
it, was the next moment carried along away from the deck of the vessel,
which disappeared beneath my feet.  I heard voices shouting, and cries
apparently from the hooker.  The night was so dark that I could scarcely
see a foot above me.  I scrambled up what I found must be the dolphin
striker of a vessel, and thence on to her bowsprit.

"Here's one of them," I heard some one sing out, as I made my way on to
the forecastle of what I supposed was a ship of war.

My first thought was for Larry.

"What has become of the hooker?"  I exclaimed.  Has any one else been
saved?

The question was repeated by the officer of the watch, who now came
hurrying forward.

No answer was returned.

"I fear the vessel must have gone down.  We shouted to her to keep her
luff, but no attention was paid, and she ran right under our bows," said
the officer.

"I'm not certain that she sank," I answered.  "She appeared to me to be
capsizing, and I hope may be still afloat."

"We will look for her, at all events," said the officer; and he gave the
necessary orders to bring the ship to the wind, and then to go about.

So dark was the night, however, that we might have passed close to a
vessel without seeing her, though eager eyes were looking out on either
side.

Having stood on a little way we again tacked, and for three hours kept
beating backwards and forwards; but our search was in vain.

The vessel which had run down the hooker was, I found, H.M. brig of war
_Osprey_, commander Hartland, on her passage home from the North
American station.

"You have had a narrow escape of it," observed the commander, who came
on deck immediately on being informed of what had occurred.  "I am truly
glad that you have been saved, and wish that we had been able to pick up
the crew.  I have done all I can," he said at length, "and I feel sure
that if the hooker had remained afloat, we must have passed close to
her."

"I am afraid that you are right, sir," I said, and I gave vent to a
groan, if I did not actually burst into tears, as I thought of the
cheery spirits of my faithful follower Larry being quenched in death.



CHAPTER TWENTY SEVEN.

A VISIT TO FRANCE.

"What is the matter?" asked the commander in a kind tone.

"I had a man on board who had been with me ever since I went to sea," I
answered.  "We had been through dangers of all sorts together, and he
would have given his life to save mine."

"Very sorry, very sorry to hear it," he said in a kind tone.  "Come into
my cabin; I'll give you a shake-down, and you must try to go to sleep
till the morning."

I gladly accepted his offer.  The steward soon made up a bed for me; but
after the dreadful event of the night, I found it more difficult than I
had ever done before to close my eyes.  I kept thinking of poor Larry,
and considering if I could have done anything to save him.  I blamed
myself for turning in, when I saw the half-drunken condition of the
skipper.  His crew probably were in the same state, and had neglected to
keep a look-out.  I at last, however, went to sleep, and didn't awake
till the steward called me, to say that breakfast would be on the table
presently.

I jumped up, and, having had a wash, went on deck.  The officers of the
brig received me very kindly, and congratulated me on my escape.
Presently a master's mate came from below, and looked hard at me for a
moment, and then, stretching out his hand, exclaimed, "Why, Paddy, my
boy! is it yourself?  I'm delighted to see you."

I recognised Sinnet, my old messmate on board the _Liffy_.

"Why, I thought you were a lieutenant long ago," he said, after we had
had a little conversation.  "For my part I have given up all hopes of
promotion, unless we get another war with the French, or Dutch, or
Spaniards; but there's no use in sighing, so I take things as they
come."

"That's much as I must do, and as we all must if we would lead happy
lives," I answered.

It cheered me up to meet Sinnet, and we had plenty of talk about old
times.  A strong north-westerly breeze was blowing, and the brig, under
plain sail, was slashing along at a great rate up Channel.  I hoped that
she would put into Plymouth, but somewhat to my disappointment I found
that she was bound for Portsmouth.  I was now summoned by the captain's
steward to breakfast, and a very good one I enjoyed.  When I told the
commander where I was going when the hooker was run down, he said that
he thought it very likely he should be sent round to the Irish coast,
and that if I liked to remain on board he would land me at the first
port we might touch at near my home.  Next day we ran through the
Needles' passage, and brought up at Spithead, where the _Osprey_ had to
wait for orders from the Admiralty.  As we might sail at any moment, we
were unable to go on shore.  Though I was the commander's guest, I
several times dined with the midshipmen, or spent the evening in the
berth.

Our berth in the _Liffy_ was not very large, but this was of much
smaller dimensions, and had in it the assistant-surgeon, two master's
mates, the master's assistant, all grown men, besides two clerks and
four midshipmen.  It was pretty close stowing, when all hands except
those on watch were below, and the atmosphere, redolent of tobacco-smoke
and rum, was occasionally somewhat oppressive.  As the brig had been
some time in commission, the greater part of the glass and crockery had
disappeared.  There were a few plates of different patterns, which were
eked out with platters, saucers, and two or three wooden bowls.  The
bottoms of bottles, two or three tea-cups without handles, and the same
number of pewter mugs, served for glasses.  Three tallow dips stuck in
bottles gave an uncertain light in the berth.  Salt beef and pork with
pease-pudding, cheese with weevilly biscuits, constituted our fare till
we got to Spithead, when we obtained a supply of vegetables, fresh meat,
and soft tack, as loaves are called at sea.  The ship's rum, with water
of a yellowish hue, formed our chief beverage; but the fare being what
all hands were accustomed to have, no one, except the assistant-surgeon,
a Welshman, who had lately come to sea, grumbled at it.

I wrote to my uncle to tell him I was safe; for, having said I was
coming by the hooker, as she would not arrive, my family, I conjectured,
might be alarmed at my non-appearance.  I also mentioned the loss of
poor Larry, and begged the major to break the news to his family.  Their
great grief, I knew, would be that they would not have the opportunity
of waking him.  I also wrote to Nettleship to tell him of my adventure,
and enclosed a letter to the captain, begging that in consequence my
leave might be prolonged.

After we had been three days at anchor, the commander, who had been on
shore, told me on his return that he had received orders to proceed at
once to Cork, and that he would land me there.  We had a quick passage,
and as soon as we had dropped our anchor in the beautiful bay, Captain
Hartland very kindly sent me up, in a boat under charge of Sinnet, to
Cork.

Having fortunately my money in my pocket when the hooker went down, I
was able to hire a horse through the help of the landlord of the
"Shamrock" hotel, and as I knew the road thoroughly I had no fear about
finding my way.  Having parted from my old messmate Sinnet, I started at
dawn the next morning, intending to push on as fast as my steed would
carry me.  I had somewhat got over the loss of Larry, but it made me
very sad when I had to answer the questions put to me about him by the
people of the inns where we had before stopped.

"And to think that him and his fiddle are gone to the bottom of the say!
Och ahone! och ahone!" cried Biddy Casey, the fair daughter of the
landlord of the inn, the scene of our encounter with the irate sow.

It was late in the evening when I reached Ballinahone, and as I rode up
the avenue I saw a tall figure pacing slowly in front of the house.  It
was my uncle.  I threw myself from the saddle, and led my knocked-up
steed towards him.  He started as he turned and saw me.

"What, Terence, is it you yourself?" he exclaimed, stretching out his
hands.  "You have been a long time coming, and I fancied your ship must
have sailed, and that you could not obtain leave."

I told him that I had twice written, but he said that he had not
received either of my letters.

"You come to a house of mourning, my boy," he continued, "though I doubt
not you'll have been prepared for what I have to tell you."

"My father!"  I exclaimed.

"Yes, he's gone; and really from the condition into which he had fallen,
it was a happy release, at all events to the rest of the family, who
could not watch him without pain."

"And my mother?"  I answered anxiously.

"She is slowly recovering, and I think that your arrival will do her
good," he said.  "Maurice and his young wife have come to live at the
castle, and they get on very well with your sisters and their husbands.
But what has become of Larry?" he asked, looking down the avenue,
expecting to see him following me.

When I told him, and had to mention how I had been so nearly lost, he
was greatly grieved.

"I am thankful we did not get your letter saying you were coming, or we
should have been very anxious about you," he said.  "Now take your horse
round to the stables, while I go in and prepare your mother for your
arrival.  It's better not to give her a sudden surprise."

I did as my uncle told me.  As soon as I had entered the courtyard I met
Tim Daley, who gave a loud shout as he saw me, and at once, as I knew he
would do, inquired for Larry.

"Don't be asking questions," I said, fearing that there would be a wild
hullaballoo set up in the kitchen, which might reach my mother's ears
before my uncle had time to tell her of my arrival.

"But isn't Larry come with your honour?" asked Tim.

"Seamen can't always get leave from their ships," I answered, wishing to
put him off.  "I'll tell you all about it by and by.  And now just take
that poor brute into the stable.  Rub him down well, and give him some
oats, for he's scarcely a leg left to stand on."

"Ah! shure your honour knows how to ride a horse smartly," said Tim, as
he led off the animal, while I hurried round to the front door.  One of
my sisters let me in, and I had the opportunity of talking to her before
I was summoned to my mother.  She appeared sad and much broken, but the
sight of me cheered her up, and as I talked on with her I was inclined
to hope that she would recover her usual health and spirit.  As soon as
I could I mentioned my own narrow escape, and Larry's loss, for I knew
that, should my uncle tell any one, there would soon be an uproar of
wild wailing in the kitchen, which might alarm her if she did not know
the cause.  I was right, for, as the major had thought it best to
mention what had happened, the news soon spread throughout the house.
As I went down-stairs a chorus of shrieks and cries reached my ears,
expressive of the domestics' grief at Larry's loss.  It was some time
before I ventured down among them to give an account of what had
happened; and as I narrated the circumstances, between each sentence
there arose a chorus of cries and sighs.

"Och ahone! och ahone! and we'll never be after seeing Larry Harrigan
again," cried Biddy and Molly together.

Similar exclamations burst from the lips of the other domestics, and I
confess that my feelings were sufficiently sensitive to make me thankful
to get away to the parlour.  The supper was more cheerful than I
expected it would be.  Maurice and his young wife did the honours of the
house with becoming grace.  Of course I had plenty of accounts to give
of my adventures in the Mediterranean.  They were highly amused at my
account of Lord Robert; and Fitzgerald exclaimed that he wished he could
get him to Ballinahone, and they would soon knock his dignity out of
him.  As Maurice had sheathed his sword, Denis had determined to take
his place as one of the defenders of his country.  My uncle told me that
he hoped soon to get a commission for him in the same regiment.

"Maurice stood well among his brother officers, and that will give Denis
a good footing as soon as he joins," he observed to me.  "He is a
steady, sensible boy, and with his Irish dash and pluck he is sure to
get on in the army.  We have plenty of fellows with the latter
qualities, but too few with the former, for they fancy if they're
tolerably brave they may be as harum-scarum, rollicking, and careless as
they like.  I wish that Denis had seen something of the world before he
joins his regiment, for he's as green as a bunch of shamrock.  If it
could be managed, I should like him to take a cruise with you, Terence,
and to run up to Dublin for a few weeks, but funds are wanting for the
purpose, though, as you observe, we have managed to get the house into
better order than it has been of late years."

"I have some prize-money, though not much pay, due to me," I answered,
"and I shall be very glad to hand it over to Denis for the purpose you
name."

"No! no!  I could not allow that.  It's little enough you'll get out of
the estate, and you mustn't deprive yourself of funds, my boy," answered
the major.  "We will think of some other plan."

I observed the next day a great improvement in the general state of
things about the house.  The furniture had been repaired and furbished
up.  There were clean covers to the sofas and chairs in the
drawing-room, and a new carpet in my mother's chamber, while the
servants had a less dingy and untidy look than formerly, showing that
they had received their wages.

I had spent a few pleasant days with my relations, when I received a
letter from old Rough-and-Ready, peremptorily ordering me to return.  I
concluded that the letter I wrote from Portsmouth had not reached
Nettleship, and consequently that my request for prolonged leave of
absence had not been received.

As there was no time if I wrote to receive an answer, which very
probably would not reach its destination, my uncle advised me to set off
at once.  I must pass over my parting with my mother and other members
of my family.  My mother had greatly recovered, and I had no reason to
be apprehensive about her health.  The major announced his intention of
accompanying me, with Denis, as far as Cork.

"I wish that we could make the journey with you to Plymouth; but to say
the truth, I find it prudent not to be longer away from Ballinahone than
can be helped," he observed.  "My superintendence is wanted there as
much as ever."

We accordingly the following morning set out, Denis in high spirits at
having to make the journey, for hitherto his travels had not extended
farther than Limerick.  The major rode ahead, and he and I followed,
talking together, though occasionally we rode up when we thought that
our uncle wanted company.  A journey in those days was seldom to be made
without some adventures.  None, however, occurred that I think worth
mentioning.  On our arrival at Cork, I found a vessel sailing direct for
Bristol.  My uncle advised me to go by her as the surest means of
reaching Plymouth quickly.

Wishing him and Denis, therefore, good-bye, I hurried on board, and two
days afterwards was on my journey from the great mart of commerce to
Plymouth.

Part of the distance I performed by coach, part by post-chaise, the rest
on horseback.

I felt somewhat anxious lest my ship should have sailed, and I might
have to kick my heels about Plymouth until she came back, or have to
make another journey to get aboard her.  Great was my satisfaction,
therefore, when I saw her at anchor in Hamoaze.  I at once went aboard.
Old Rough-and-Ready received me with a somewhat frowning brow when I
reported myself.  On my explaining, however, what had happened, he said
that he would make things all right with Lord Robert, who was expected
on board every hour.  As soon as his lordship appeared, we went out of
harbour.  We found that Parliament being prorogued, we were to take a
short summer cruise.  It was shorter than we expected.

After knocking about for a couple of weeks, we put back again into the
Sound, where we received a packet of letters, which had been waiting for
us at the post office.  I got one from my uncle, stating that all things
were going on well at Ballinahone, and enclosing another in an unknown
hand, and bearing a foreign post-mark.  On opening it I found that it
was from La Touche, reminding me of my promise to pay him a visit when
peace was restored, and inviting me over to his chateau in the
neighbourhood of Vernon.  It appeared to me that I had but little chance
of being able to accept his invitation.  I at once wrote him a letter,
stating that I was still on board, but that, should I be at liberty, I
would without fail endeavour to go over and see him; that though we had
been fighting with his nation, I had met so many brave men among them,
nothing would give me greater pleasure than to become acquainted with La
Belle France, and to see him again.  I at once sent the letter on shore
to be posted.  The same mail brought despatches to the captain.  Their
tenor was soon announced.  It was that the ship was to sail immediately
for Portsmouth, where she had been fitted out, to be paid off.

As his lordship was never addicted to doing anything in a hurry, he
waited, before obeying the order he had received, till he could get a
supply of fresh butter and eggs and other comestibles on board.  We
therefore did not sail till the next day.  We had a fair breeze going
out of the Sound, but the wind headed us when we got into the Channel,
and we made a tack towards the French coast.  The wind continued light
and baffling, and we were three days before, having gone round by Saint
Helen's, we came to an anchor at Spithead.  Here we had to wait until
the wind again shifted, when we ran into Portsmouth harbour.

I have already given a description of the scenes which occurred when I
was last paid off, so I need not repeat it.  Lord Robert made us a
speech, promising to attend to the interests of all the officers who had
served with him, and especially to bear in mind the strong claims of his
first lieutenant to promotion.  He took down all our addresses, saying
we should hear from him before long.

"I'll buy a golden frame to put his letter in, if I receive one,"
growled old Rough-and-Ready.

"I doubt whether he'll put pen to paper for my sake," said Nettleship.

Most of the rest of us made similar remarks.  We were not wrong in our
conjectures, and, as far as I could learn, his lordship forgot all about
us and his promises from the moment he started for London; and we were
cast adrift to shift for ourselves.

Nettleship intended to go down to Plymouth, and wanted Tom Pim and me to
accompany him; but Tom's family were expecting him at home, and I hoped
to get round direct from Portsmouth to Cork by sea.

The _Osprey_, which had returned to Portsmouth, was paid off at the time
we were, and as there was no vessel sailing for Cork, I accepted an
invitation from Sinnet to go over to Cowes, where his family were
staying.  We ran across in a wherry he had engaged.

As we were entering the harbour, we saw a fine-looking lugger at anchor,
and while passing I inquired where she was bound to.

"Over to France, to the port of Grisnez or thereabouts," answered a man
who was walking the forecastle with his hands in his pockets.

"When do you sail?"  I asked.

"May be to-morrow, may be next day," was the answer.

"I say, Sinnet, I've a great mind, if the lugger remains here long
enough, to take a passage in her, and go and pay my promised visit to La
Touche.  I wish you could come too; I am sure he will be glad to see
you."

"I wish I could, for I'm certain we should have good fun; but you see I
have not been with my family for a long time, and they would look upon
me as destitute of natural feeling if I went away so soon.  If you,
however, have a wish to go, don't stand on ceremony.  Should the lugger,
however, remain long enough, I'll take advantage of your proposal," he
said, as I accompanied him up to his house.

I was introduced to his father and mother and sisters, who were all such
nice people that I was half inclined to give up my idea.  Sinnet,
however, mentioned the matter to the old gentleman, who at once told me
not to stand on ceremony.

"You could not have a better opportunity of seeing France; and perhaps
before long we shall be at loggerheads again, when no Englishman will be
able to set foot in the country except as a prisoner; therefore go, and
come back to us when you have got tired of frogs' legs and _soup
maigre_."

In the evening I went down with Sinnet to the quay, where a man was
pointed out to us as skipper of the lugger.  We at once went up to him,
and I told him that I wished to get across to France.

"I have no objection to take you, young gentleman, though we do not
generally like having king's officers on board our craft," he answered.

"But I'm not on service now," I observed, guessing the meaning of his
allusion.  "What sum do you expect for passage money?"

"Five guineas," he answered.  "I do not care to take less."

"Five guineas you shall have, if you land me where I wish to go," I
said.  "Now, when shall I be on board?"

"To-morrow morning at six o'clock.  The tide will serve to carry us out
at the Needles; and I don't intend to wait a moment longer."

"At six o'clock I will be on board, then; and, by the by, what is your
name, captain?"

"Jack Long, though some call me little Jack," answered the skipper, with
a laugh.

"And your vessel, that there may be no mistake?"

"The _Saucy Bet_," he said; "and now you know all you need know about
her."

"Then, Captain Long, I'll be aboard the _Saucy Bet_ at the hour you
name," I said, as I took Sinnet's arm.

We strolled back to his house, and a very pleasant evening I spent with
my messmate's family.  We had music and singing.  Two or three girls and
some young men came in, and we got up a dance.  Altogether, I began to
regret that I had not arranged to remain longer.

My old messmate turned out at an early hour to accompany me down to the
quay.  As soon as I got on board the lugger, the anchor was hove up, and
we made sail.  I found a roughish looking crew, several of them being
Jerseymen or Frenchmen.  We soon got a fresh breeze from the northward,
when the _Saucy Bet_ walked along at a great rate, with large square
topsails set above her lower lugs.  She had a small cabin aft, neatly
fitted up, and a large hold, but now perfectly clear.  She could mount
eight guns, all of which were now below.  Soon after we got outside the
Needles, however, they were hoisted up and placed on their carriages.

"What sort of a cargo do you generally carry, Captain Long?"  I asked.

"That depends on what we stow away in the hold," he answered, with a
knowing wink.  "Silks, satins, and ribbons, sometimes; and at others
tobacco and brandy, a few cases of gloves or lace, and such articles as
English ladies are fond of, and are glad to get without paying duty."

"Then you acknowledge yourself to be a smuggler, captain?"

"I intend to be as long as I can make an honest living by it," he
answered, laughing.  "I'm not ashamed of it.  It is fair play, you see.
If I'm caught I lose my goods and vessel, and am sent to prison, or
serve His Majesty on board a man-of-war.  If I land my cargo, as I
generally contrive to do, I make a good profit."

As he was thus open I argued the point, trying to show that the
Government must have a revenue to pay their expenses, and that his
proceedings were lawless.

"That's their business, not mine," he answered, not in the least degree
moved by my observations.  "The Government could not think very ill of
us," he remarked; "for if they want information about what is going on
in France, or have to send over anybody secretly, they are ready enough
to apply to me, and pay well too.  Why, in the war time, if it hadn't
been for us smugglers, they couldn't have managed to send a messenger
across Channel.  Bless you!  I've carried over a queer lot of characters
now and then.  But you must be getting hungry, young gentleman, and it's
time for dinner.  Come below."

I found a plentiful repast, which, though somewhat roughly cooked, I did
ample justice to.  The skipper produced a bottle of claret and another
of cognac, and pressed me to drink, but he himself, I observed, was very
moderate in his potations.

"If I did not keep a cool head on my shoulders, the _Saucy Bet_ would
soon get into trouble," he remarked; "still, that need not stop you from
making yourself happy if you like."

He seemed very much surprised when I told him that I had no fancy for
making myself happy in that fashion.

In the afternoon the wind fell, and we lay becalmed, floating down
Channel with the ebb.  The smugglers swore terribly at the delay, as
they were in a hurry to get over to the French coast.

In the evening I walked the deck some time with the skipper, who was
full of anecdotes.  In the war time he had commanded a privateer, which
had been tolerably successful, but his vessel had been captured at last,
and he had spent some months a prisoner in France.  He had on that
occasion picked up a fair knowledge of French, which much assisted him,
he said, in his present vocation.  He was always on good terms with the
mounseers, he told me, though he amused himself sometimes at their
expense.

"Some of my chaps and I were ashore one night, not long ago, taking a
glass at a wine shop near the harbour, when a frigate came in, and a
beauty she was, no doubt about that."  He continued: "The Frenchmen
began to praise her, and says one of them to me--

"`There, you haven't got a craft like that in the whole of your navy.'

"`I don't know what we've got,' says I; `but if there comes a war we
should precious soon have one, for we should have she.'

"You should have seen the rage the Frenchmen were in when I said that,
and heard how they _sacred_ and swore.  But I calmed them down by
reminding them that they had taken some of our frigates, and that it was
only to be expected that we should take some of theirs in return."

The captain gave me a side-berth in the little cabin, occupied
generally, I found, by one of the mates.  It was somewhat close, but I
was soon asleep, and slept soundly until daylight the next morning.

By noon a breeze sprang up from the eastward, and under all sail we
stood away to the southward.  By nightfall we were well in with the
French coast, but farther to the west than I expected.

"The tide will soon make in shore, and we must beat back to the
eastward," observed the skipper.  "You mustn't hope, howsomdever, young
gentleman, to get ashore till to-morrow morning."

This mattered little to me, as I had no great objection to spend a few
hours more on board.

During the night I awoke, and found the vessel perfectly motionless.

"Can another calm have come on?"  I thought.

I was going off to sleep again, when I heard a footstep in the cabin,
and, looking out of my bunk, by the light from the swinging lamp I saw
the skipper examining some papers at the table.

"Has the wind dropped again?"  I inquired.

"No, we are at anchor; we have been chased by a _chasse-maree_, and so,
to escape her, we slipped in here; and here we shall remain perhaps for
some days, till the coast is clear," he answered.

"In that case, captain, I shall prefer going on shore, and making my way
overland to my friend's house.  I shall find conveyances of some sort, I
suppose?"  I said.

"As to that I can't say.  It isn't much of a place, but you may get
along in a country cart, or hire a nag."

As I had no objection to seeing something of the country, I did not
complain of this, and as soon as it was daylight I turned out.

Being anxious not to lose time, I got Captain Long to send me ashore
with my valise.  A small cabaret being open, I intended to take up my
quarters there until I could obtain some means of conveyance to the
Chateau La Touche.  A cup of coffee, which was at once offered me,
enabled me to wait until a more substantial breakfast was prepared.

In the meantime I took a stroll through the village.  It was a small
place, and, as far as I could judge, primitive in the extreme.  It was
the first time I had been in France, yet, as I spoke the language pretty
well, I felt myself perfectly at home.  Indeed, the people I addressed
took me for a Frenchman, and were extremely civil.

On getting back to the inn, the landlady asked me if I had been to see
the wonderful animal which had been landed some time before by a
fisherman, who had found him, she said, on board a vessel, navigating
her all by himself.

"What sort of an animal?"  I inquired.

"Ah, monsieur, they say it is a bear.  It certainly looks like one, for
it has a bear's head and claws, and a tail; but it does all sort of
things that no other bear that I have heard of can do; and what is more
strange, it can talk, though no one can understand what it says."

"I must go and have a look at this bear after breakfast," I said.

"Certainly monsieur would not leave our village without seeing so great
a wonder," she replied.  "My boy Pierre can show you the way.  Jacques
Chacot, who is the fortunate possessor of the bear, lives not more than
a quarter of a league away to the west.  He charges half a franc to each
person to whom be shows his wonder, and the people come from far and
near.  He talks of taking his bear to Paris to exhibit it, and if he
does he will surely make a fortune."

Though I was somewhat incredulous as to whether the bear could really
speak, and had also a doubt as to the way the woman said the animal had
been found, I felt curious to see it; and as soon as I had breakfasted,
conducted by Pierre, I set out for the cottage of Jacques Chacot.  On
the way the boy amused me by giving further accounts of the strange
animal we were to see.

We found a number of other people going in the same direction, for my
landlady had given no exaggerated account of the curiosity which it had
excited.  Jacques Chacot evidently possessed the talent of a showman.
He had enlarged the front of his cottage so as to form a sort of
theatre, the inner part serving as a stage.  We found him standing at
the door with a couple of stout young fellows, his sons, ready to
receive visitors, for he allowed no one to go in until he had obtained
payment.  A strong bar was run across in front of the stage, which
Jacques Chacot explained was to prevent the spectators from approaching
too close to the bear, who, he observed, was sometimes seized with
sudden fits of ferocity, and might, he was afraid, do some injury.  The
room was already half full when Pierre and I entered, and a considerable
number of people came in afterwards.  They were all country people,
decently dressed, who behaved with the usual politeness the French
exhibit when not excited by any special cause.



CHAPTER TWENTY EIGHT.

LARRY'S DISGUISE.

At last Jacques Chacot, looking round the room, gave notice that his
bear would at once commence his performance.  In a short time a door
opened, and he appeared, leading out what looked like a large brown
bear, followed by one of his sons, carrying a couple of chairs.  Jacques
Chacot, who had in his hand a long pole with a sharp point to it, took
his seat on one chair, and made signs to the bear to sit down on the
other, which it immediately did.  The lad then handed a glass of wine to
the bear, which, making a bow to the audience, it drank off, putting the
glass, it seemed to me, almost down its throat, in a very curious
fashion.

Its keeper then ordered it to stand on its head, which it did with
seeming unwillingness, kicking its hind legs up in the air.

"Now show mesdames and messieurs how you can dance," cried Chacot.
"Strike up, Jean," he added to his son, who, getting down a riddle from
the wall, commenced scraping away, and producing a merry tune.  Up got
the bear, and began shuffling and leaping about, in a fashion which
strangely resembled an Irish jig, at the same time singing in a voice
which sounded remarkably like that of a human being.  The audience
applauded; but the bear at length, getting tired from its exertions,
took a chair and sat itself down in a corner.  On this Chacot shouted to
it to go on; but the bear, being seized with sulkiness, refused, till
the fellow, giving it a poke with his pole, the bear sprang up and
recommenced its performance, Jean fiddling away as before.

"Now address the company, and give them an account of your adventures,"
said Chacot.

The bear on this got up, and, making another bow, uttered some words
which certainly no one present could have understood.  Listening
attentively, I caught several words which sounded remarkably like Irish.

"Who are you, and where in the world do you come from?"  I exclaimed in
my native tongue.

No sooner had I uttered the words, than the bear made a spring right off
the stage, and rushed towards me, exclaiming, "Arrah!  I'm Larry
Harrigan, Mr Terence dear! and shure you've found me at last?"

At the first movement the bear made the audience rushed from all parts
of the room, trying to effect their escape through the door, while
Jacques Chacot endeavoured to seize it, and to drag it back on the
stage.  Larry, however, was not to be hindered, and, grasping my hand,
he held it in his shaggy paws, his voice alone assuring me who he was.

"Hands off from him, Chacot!"  I cried out.  "He is an honest Irishman
whom I know well.  If you injure him it will be at your peril.  Stop,
friends, stop!"  I shouted to the people as they were escaping.  "The
bear will do you no harm; come and assist me."  Jacques Chacot, however,
fearing that the chance of making further gains by his prisoner would be
lost, dragged him back by main force, while poor Larry, closely encased
as he was in a skin, and padded out with pillows, was unable to help
himself.  At the same time, one of the sons, seizing his pike,
threatened to run me through if I interfered.

I in vain called to the people to help me; they seemed to think that I
was as mad as the bear, or that I was a mere bearish Englishman, who had
lived so long amongst animals of that description that I very naturally
took it for an old friend Larry continued to shout out to me for help,
until Jacques Chacot seized his jaws, and, closing them, prevented his
voice from coming out, while the young Frenchmen dragged him away.

"Keep up your spirits, Larry," I cried.  "If there's justice in the
country, I'll obtain it for you."  As I found it would be impossible at
that moment to set Larry free, I followed the people out of the show,
and endeavoured to explain to them that the bear was no bear at all, but
a human being, whom I had known all my life.  This, however, I found
they were by no means inclined to believe.  It was a very strange bear,
they acknowledged, but they had no reason to doubt that bears could
speak; and the words he had uttered were just such as might be expected
to proceed from a bear.

Young Pierre had bravely stuck by me all the time, and was more inclined
to believe me than any one else.

"I have heard say that Jacques Chacot is a great rascal, and if monsieur
will take my advice he will go to Monsieur Jules Pontet, the mayor, who
will compel him to allow the bear to be properly examined, and if it
proves to be a man have him set at liberty," he observed.

"You are a sensible little fellow," I answered; "and if you will show me
the way to the mayor's house, we will go to him at once.  But don't let
any one know, or Chacot will take means to hide the bear, or carry him
off, or perhaps throw him into the sea and drown him, so that there may
be no evidence of his knavery."

"That's just what I was thinking, monsieur," said Pierre, as he led the
way.  We hurried on, for I was very anxious about Larry's safety,
fearful that Chacot would play him some trick.  In about twenty minutes
we reached the most respectable-looking house in the village.

"Monsieur the mayor lives here," said Pierre.  "He is at home, I know,
for he never leaves so early in the day."

I knocked at the door, and, being admitted by a neat-looking woman in a
high cap, was ushered into a room, where I found Monsieur Jules Pontet,
the mayor, seated, with number of papers before him.  I explained that,
having been induced to go and see a strange animal said to be a bear, I
had discovered a countryman, an old acquaintance of my own, who had been
compelled by some means or other to play the part, that he was being
cruelly treated, and desired to be set free.

The mayor listened politely.

"I have heard of this strange animal, and suspected that there was some
trick," he observed; "I will accompany you forthwith, and if you are
right in your conjectures, we will have the man set free."

"They are more than conjectures, they are certainties, monsieur," I
answered.

I then thanked him for his courtesy, when, getting his hat and cane, he
immediately set out with me, followed by Pierre, who was eager to see
the end.

We found a number of people collected round Chacot's cottage, which made
me hope that during my absence he had not been able, had he contemplated
violence, to carry his intention into effect.

"I wish to see this strange animal I have heard of," said the mayor in
an authoritative tone.  "Go, some of you, and tell Chacot that I desire
him to bring the creature out on the stage, and let him perform his
tricks before me.  Come, my friends, come in, you shall see the sight
without payment this time."

Whether Chacot was aware or not that I had brought the mayor, I could
not tell, as he might not have observed me among the crowd.

In a short time the door of the stage opened, and Chacot appeared,
dragging in the bear, who came very reluctantly, urged on by one of the
young fellows from behind with a pike.

Larry was going through his performances, when the mayor said, turning
to me--

"Speak to him, and tell him to come down quickly.  I see the whole
trick; no bear would walk as that creature does."

No sooner did Larry hear my voice than he sprang off the stage, before
Chacot or his sons could stop him, and I rushed forward to meet him,
followed by Monsieur Pontet.

"Have any of you a knife?" asked the worthy magistrate.  "Hand it to me
at once."

A knife was given him, and he began forthwith to cut away at the
bear-skin, Larry standing patiently while the operation was going
forward.

He soon got the head off, when Larry's honest countenance was displayed
beneath it.

Loud shouts of laughter burst from the people, mingled with no small
amount of abuse hurled at Chacot for the trick he had played them.

As the mayor proceeded, a quantity of hay tumbled out, which had served
to stuff out poor Larry to the required proportions.

"Faith, Mr Terence dear, you'd better not take it off altogether before
so many decent people; for, to say the truth, I've got nothing under it
but my bare skin," said Larry to me in a subdued voice.

Such, indeed, I perceived to be the case, as did the mayor.

"Bring the man's clothes at once, and let him have a room in which he
may dress himself properly," he exclaimed to Chacot, who had, by the
mayor's orders, remained on the stage, and had been watching our
proceedings.

Chacot, with no very good grace, obeyed, and I, fearing that some
violence might be offered, accompanied him into the room.

Chacot soon appeared with a seaman's dress, which Larry, jumping out of
his bear-skin, quickly put on.

As yet he had had no time to tell me how he had come into the power of
the French fisherman; and as I also did not wish to keep the mayor
waiting, as soon as Larry was ready, we hurried out to join him.

"I'll have my revenge on you one of these days," I heard Chacot exclaim,
but I thought it as well to take no notice of his remark.

"Come with me to my house," said Monsieur Jules Pontet.  "I want to hear
how that fellow Jacques Chacot got hold of the English seaman.  He must
have been a stupid fellow to have allowed himself to be so ill-treated."

"I have not yet had time to make inquiries, monsieur," I said, "but I
will, if you wish it, at once ask him how it happened."

"By all means," replied the mayor; so I desired Larry to tell me how he
had escaped from the hooker, and been turned into a bear.

"It is a long yarn, Mr Terence, but I'll cut it short to plase the
gintleman.  You'll remember the night we were aboard the hooker.  I was
asleep forward, just dreaming of Ballinahone, an' thinking I was leading
off a dance with Molly Maguire, when down came the whole castle tumbling
about our heads.  Opening my eyes, I jumped out of my bunk, and sprang
up the fore hatchway, just in time to see that the masts had been
carried away, and that the hooker was going to the bottom.  How it all
happened I couldn't for the life of me tell.  I sang out at the top of
my voice for you, Mr Terence, and rushed aft to the cabin, where I
expected to find you asleep.  But though I shouted loud enough to waken
the dead, you didn't answer, and not a soul was aboard but myself.  For
a moment I caught sight of the stern of a vessel steering away from us,
which made me guess that we had been run down.  The water was rushing
into the little craft, and I knew that she must go to the bottom.  Her
masts and spars were still hanging to her side, an' so, thinks I to
meself, I'll have a struggle for life.  I had seen an axe in the
companion hatch, and, getting hold of it, I cut away the rigging, and
had time to get hold of a cold ham and some bread and a bottle of water,
which I stowed in a basket.  Thinks I, I'll make a raft, and so I hove
overboard some planks, with part of the main hatch and a grating, and,
getting on them, lashed them together in a rough fashion, keeping my eye
all the time on the hooker, to see that she didn't go down, and catch me
unawares.  I was so mighty busy with this work, that if the vessel which
had run the hooker down had come back to look for us I shouldn't have
seen her.  I had just got my raft together, when I saw that the hooker
was settling down, so I gave it a shove off from her side; and faith I
was only just in time, for it made a rush forward, and I thought was
going down with the vessel, but up it came again, and there I was,
floating all alone on the water.

"During the night a light breeze from the northward sprang up, and I
began to fear that I might be drifted out into the Atlantic.  However, I
couldn't help myself, and was not going to cry die.  I was mighty
thankful that the sea was smooth, and so I sat on my raft, trying to be
as happy as I could; but the thinking of you, Mr Terence, and not
knowing if you had escaped, often made me sad.  I wished, too, that I
had had my fiddle, when I would have played myself a tune to keep up my
spirits.  I can't say how many days I spent on the raft, sleeping when I
could not keep my eyes open, till all the provisions and the water I had
brought were gone.  Then I got very bad, and thought I was going to die.
The weather, too, was changing, and the sea getting up.  I was just
lying down on the raft, not long before the bright sun sank into the
ocean, and not expecting to see it rise again, when I heard a shout,
and, opening my eyes, I saw a small craft, which I guessed was a French
fishing-boat from her look, coming towards me.  She having hove-to,
presently a boat was lowered from her deck, and I was taken on board,
more dead than alive.  The Frenchmen gave me some food, and, taking me
down into the cabin, put me to bed.

"It came on to blow very hard that night.  For some days we were
knocking about, not able to get back to port.  From the heavy seas which
broke over the little vessel, and from the way I heard the Frenchmen
speaking, I thought that after all we should be lost, but I was too weak
to care much about the matter just then.

"However, at last the weather moderated, and after several days I found
that we were at anchor in smooth water.  I was still very bad, so the
French skipper carried me ashore to his cottage.  He fed me pretty well,
and I at last got strong enough to walk about.  By this time I had
managed somehow to make him understand me, and I asked him to tell me
how I could cross over to Ireland, as I wanted to get home and learn if
you had escaped.  He laughed at me, however, and said that I owed him a
hundred francs for taking care of me, and that I must pay him.  I
answered that I would be glad enough to pay him, like an honest man, as
soon as I could get any prize-money, and that I would send it over to
him.  To this, however, he would not agree, but said that if I would
help him in a trick he wanted to play off on the people, he would be
satisfied.  He then explained that I must dress up like a bear, and that
he would show me off as a wonder.  As I had no help for it, I consented.
He at once made me get into the bear-skin which you, Mr Terence, cut
me out of, and showed me how I was to behave myself.  After I had had
some days' practice, he sent round to let it be known that he had picked
up a bear at sea, which could talk and play all sorts of tricks; and in
a short time people came to look at me.  At first I thought it a good
joke, but at last he treated me so like a real bear, for he chained me
up at night and never let me get out of my skin, that I began to grow
heartily tired of the fun; and it's my belief, if you hadn't found me
out, he'd have been after making away with me, lest the people should
discover the trick he had played them."

I translated Larry's story to the mayor, who, being a humane man, was
very indignant, but said that he had no power to punish Chacot, as Larry
confessed that he had consented to be dressed up.

When I told this to Larry, he said that he should be very sorry to have
Chacot suffer, as, whatever his motive, he had certainly saved his life.

In a couple of days Larry was fit to set out.  With the aid of Monsieur
Pontet, I purchased two horses.  They were sorry steeds to look at, but
had more go in them than I expected from their appearance.  Larry
carried my valise, and I had my sword and a brace of pistols, though
Monsieur Pontet assured me I should have no necessity for their use.  I
had become intimate with him, and he kindly gave me a letter of
introduction to a friend of his at Vernon, a Monsieur Planterre, who, he
said, would dispose of my horses for me, and afford me any other
assistance I might require, in case La Touche should be absent from
home.

Bidding farewell to Monsieur Pontet, I started on my journey at an early
hour in the morning, fully expecting to enjoy the trip, as all was new
and strange to me.  The people I met with were primitive in their
habits, and invariably treated me with civility.  The inns I stopped at
were small, and not over comfortable, but as they afforded sufficient
accommodation for man and beast, I did not complain.

I must pass over the incidents of the journey.  It was towards evening
when the towers of Vernon, situated on the banks of the Seine, appeared
in sight, and, passing across the boulevards which surrounded the town,
I entered the narrow, crooked streets, with timber-framed houses on
either side, and kept clean by running streams.  On my way I inquired
for the house of Monsieur Planterre, which I found situated at the
entrance of an avenue which leads to the Chateau de Bizy, belonging to
the Duc de Penthievre.

The house, though of a primitive style of architecture, was better than
most of those I had passed.  Being admitted, Larry having taken charge
of my horse, Monsieur Planterre received me with much courtesy, and,
telling me that I could not possibly reach the Chateau La Touche that
evening, invited me to take up my quarters at his house.  I of course
was glad to accept his invitation, and Larry was at once sent round to
the stables with the horses.  I took no further concern for him, being
well aware that he could make himself at home wherever he was.

Monsieur Planterre told me that he was acquainted with my friend La
Touche, and should be happy to accompany me to the chateau the next day.
I learned from him more of the state of things in France than I had
before known.  He told me that republican principles were gaining ground
in all directions, and that the people were everywhere complaining of
the taxes imposed on them by the Government.

"Discontent indeed prevails everywhere, and unless reforms take place, I
know not what will be the result," he said, with a deep sigh.  "Even in
this place the people are in an unsatisfactory state of mind."

I was introduced to Madame Planterre and her daughters, bright, pretty
young ladies, who seemed much attached to their parents.  They gave me a
very pleasant idea of a French family of the upper middle class.

Next morning Monsieur Planterre asked me to defer starting for a couple
of hours, as he had to attend a meeting at the Town Hall, where he hoped
to propose some measure for the benefit of the poorer inhabitants.  He
suggested that I should pass the intermediate time in taking a turn
through the town, and visiting an ancient tower and hospital founded by
Saint Louis, and other objects of interest.

Giving Larry directions to have the horses ready, I set out.  Having
spent nearly two hours in visiting different parts of the town, I
ascended to the top of the ancient tower I have mentioned, from which I
obtained a fine view, not only of the picturesque old town, but along
the Seine for a considerable distance up and down, and also of the
Chateau de Bizy, with the fine avenue leading to it.  I was about to
descend, when I saw a vast number of people emerging from the various
streets into a broad space called the Place, a short distance below me.
From their movements they appeared highly excited, for loud cries and
shouts reached my ears.  The greater number were armed, either with
muskets, pikes, scythes, swords, or other weapons.  As I was curious to
know what they were about, I hastened down, and made my way along the
street leading to the Place.  I had no fear of going among the people,
for I did not suppose that they would interfere with me.  Many of those
I passed were of respectable appearance, and as I got into the Place I
inquired of one of them what they were about to do.

"They have just tried and condemned to death one of our principal
citizens, Monsieur Planterre, who has always proved himself one of their
best friends," was the reply.

"Monsieur Planterre!"  I exclaimed.  "Where is he?"

My friend was pointed out to me, in the midst of a band of ruffians, who
were dragging him forward, shouting, "_A la lanterne! a la lanterne_!"

Seized with an impulse I could not control, to preserve, if I could, the
life of my kind host, I dashed forward through the crowd.  The people
made way for me, until I reached his side.

"Good people of Vernon, what are you about to do?"  I exclaimed.  "I
hear every one speaking in favour of Monsieur Planterre, and yet you
threaten him with instant death."

My friend, whilst I was speaking, stood pale and trembling; the rope was
round his neck, and the ruffians had hold of the end, as if eager to
strangle him.

"What has he done to outweigh his kind deeds?"  I asked.

No answer was vouchsafed, the mob only shouting the louder, "_A la
lanterne! a la lanterne_!"

"Who are you, young stranger?  Be off with you, or you shall share his
fate," cried out a big ruffian; and many of them pressing on, shoved me
aside, endeavouring to separate me from their intended victim.

I saw that it was a moment for action,--that should I exhibit the
slightest hesitation the life of a worthy man would be sacrificed; and,
regardless of the danger I myself ran from the fury of the excited
crowd, again dashing forward, I succeeded in reaching Monsieur
Planterre, round whom I threw my arms, and held him fast.

"You shall not injure him.  Back, all of you!"  I shouted.  "I will not
allow you to destroy an honest man.  There must be some mistake.  You
are not executioners, you are assassins, and are about to commit a deed
of which you will repent."

Notwithstanding what I said, the ruffians still pressed upon us, and
attempted to drag Monsieur Planterre away, shouting, "_A la lanterne_!"
but I held him fast.

"My friends," I cried,--"for I will not call you enemies,--if you hang
this man you must hang me, for alive I will not be separated from him,
and you will be guilty of the murder of two honest men instead of one."

As I spoke a reaction suddenly took place; my words had even more effect
than I expected on the volatile crowd.  One of them rushed forward and
removed the rope from Monsieur Planterre's neck.

"You have saved his life!" cried another.

"You are a brave fellow!" shouted a third.  "Long live the noble
Englishman! he is worthy of our regard."

These and similar cries burst from the throats of numbers standing
round, and were echoed by the would-be executioners.  Before I knew what
was about to happen, a number of them, rushing forward, lifted me on
their shoulders, and carried me along in triumph, shouting and singing,
while Monsieur Planterre's friends, who had been watching the
opportunity, pressing forward, hurried him away in another direction.
To my infinite satisfaction, I saw him carried off, while I was borne
along by the crowd, who shouted and sang in my praise until their voices
were hoarse.

I thought it wise to submit to the honours paid me; at the same time I
could not tell at what moment the feelings of the fickle mob might
change, and perhaps they might carry me to the _lanterne_ instead of the
man I had rescued.  I made the best of my position, and kept bowing to
the mob right and left, expressing my admiration for France and
Frenchmen in the most glowing terms I could command.

This seemed to please them mightily; but I was curious to know what they
were going to do with me.  They appeared highly delighted at having an
object on which to bestow their admiration.  First they carried me round
and round the Place, shouting and cheering, while they told all who came
up what I had done.  Perhaps they found it quite as amusing as hanging
their townsman.

At last some one proposed that they should carry me to the Hotel de
Ville.  The proposal was received with acclamations by the crowd, and my
bearers set off, several of them going before cheering and
gesticulating, while, as we passed through the narrow, crooked streets,
the people looked out from the windows, waving coloured handkerchiefs
and shawls, for by this time the whole town had heard, with perhaps a
few exaggerations, of the act I had performed.  On arriving at the Town
Hall, I saw a number of gentlemen in full dress, with various insignia,
whom I suspected to be the civic authorities, standing on the steps,
drawn up to welcome me.  My bearers halted when a small gentleman, in a
powdered wig and cocked hat, who was, I found, the mayor, stepping in
front of the rest, made me a long oration, at which the mob cheered and
cheered again.  I then found, from all eyes being turned towards me,
that it was expected I should say something in return.  I accordingly
expressed, in the best French I could command, my sense of the honour
done me, and my satisfaction at having been the means of saving the life
of one who, from his many virtues, was esteemed by his fellow-citizens;
and I added I felt sure that those who had intended to put him to death
were under an erroneous impression, as was shown by the generous way in
which they treated me.  I now begged to thank my bearers for having
carried me so long on their shoulders, and, unwilling though I was to
descend from so honourable a position, I requested that they would have
the goodness to put me down on my feet that I might see their faces, so
that I might be able at any future time to recognise them, which I owned
I should at present be unable to do.

After some demur, they at last acceded to my request, letting me down on
my feet.  When I did see their countenances, it struck me that they were
as hideous a set of ruffians as any of those I had before seen.

Concealing my feelings, however, I shook each of them by the hand,
calling them my dear brothers, and assuring them that I should never
forget the honour done me.  After they had shaken themselves and
stretched their brawny limbs, they appeared inclined to get hold of me
again and carry me off on another round of the Place.  Feeling
especially unwilling, for the reason I have before given, to undergo
another ovation, I stepped back among the civic authorities, and got
inside the Town Hall, conducted by a gentleman, who whispered that he
was a friend of Monsieur Planterre's, and that he had been sent by him
to escort me back to his house.

"Monsieur Planterre is anxious to get out of the town as soon as
possible, and advises you to do the same, for we cannot tell at what
moment the mob may change their minds, and perhaps take it into their
heads to hang you and him together," he said, as, leading me through the
Town Hall, he conducted me out by a back door.

"We are going by a somewhat circuitous route to the house of Monsieur
Planterre, where he himself is waiting for us," he continued, as we
walked on together.  "Your horses are in readiness, and he has had one
prepared for himself, so that you may start as soon as you arrive."

As we passed through the streets we could hear the shouts of the people
in the distance, but what they were about we could not tell.  My guide
appeared to be in a somewhat agitated state, as if he feared that they
would commit some other deed of violence, to recompense themselves for
losing the pleasure of hanging Monsieur Planterre.

On arriving before the house I found Larry holding three horses.
Presently a serving-man came out and took hold of the rein of one of the
animals.  On looking at him, to my surprise I recognised Monsieur
Planterre himself.

"I think it wise to leave the town in this disguise, lest the mob should
suddenly regret having allowed me to escape, and, seeing me go, pursue
me," he said.

I immediately mounted, and Monsieur Planterre, pointing out the road I
was to take, I moved forward, followed by him and Larry, they appearing
in the characters of my two lackeys.  They kept close behind me, in
order that Monsieur Planterre might tell me when to turn to the right or
left.  He evidently expected that we should be pursued, but though I
looked round occasionally, I could see no one following us.

Upon the road Monsieur Planterre rode up to my side, and gave me a good
deal of information, both about my friend's family and that of other
families in the neighbourhood.

"I am grateful to you," he continued, "for the service you have rendered
me, and I am anxious for your safety.  I would advise you, therefore, to
make no long stay in France.  The whole country is, I can assure you,
like a volcano, ready to burst forth at any moment.  The people are
generally imbued with republican principles, and they have lost all
respect for the priests; they complain of the heavy taxes which go to
support a profligate court; and are weary of the tyranny under which
they have so long groaned."

"But has not the king a powerful army to keep them in order?"  I
inquired.

"The army cannot be depended on," answered my friend.  "It is thoroughly
disorganised, and at any moment may side with the people.  The only
reliable troops are the Swiss, and other foreigners.  We are coming upon
troublous times, of that I am confident."

Until now I had known nothing of France, and had fancied that Frenchmen
were a light-hearted race, thoroughly contented with themselves and
their country; indeed, I even now scarcely believed what Monsieur
Planterre told me.

In less than a couple of hours we caught sight of an ancient mansion,
with a high roof, and towers at the corners, standing up amid the trees.

"There is the Chateau la Touche," said my companion.  "I will not
present myself in this disguise at the front gate, but when you descend
will accompany your servant, who has not discovered who I am, and takes
me for one of his fellows."

On arriving at the gate, Monsieur Planterre, having given his horse to
Larry, went up the steps and rang the bell, and then came down and held
my steed whilst I dismounted.  As soon as the door opened he led my
horse off.

La Touche, who had been advised of my arrival, hurried out to meet me,
and embraced me affectionately according to the French fashion.

"Overjoyed to see you, my dear friend," he exclaimed.  "I have been long
looking for you, and am delighted that you have been induced to come.  I
have been preparing various entertainments, as I wish to show you how we
Frenchmen enjoy life."

I said everything that was proper in return, when, after he had made
many inquiries as to how I had come to France, and the adventures I had
met with on my journey, he added--

"Now I must introduce you to madame _ma mere_ and my young sister.  They
are prepared to receive you as a friend, and are delighted to find that
you possess the accomplishment of speaking French."

He forthwith led me into a handsome _salon_, or drawing-room, in which I
saw two ladies seated, engaged in embroidery work.  They both rose as we
entered.  The eldest was a stately and handsome dame, but my eyes were
naturally attracted by the younger.  It was fortunate, perhaps, that
Monsieur Planterre had described her, or I do not know how I should have
behaved myself.  She was in truth the most lovely little damsel I had
ever seen, fair, and of exquisite figure, with blue, laughing eyes.
They received me without any form, as if I had been an old friend, and I
at once felt myself perfectly at home.  Without speaking of my
adventures at Vernon, I told them of my landing, and highly amused them
with the description of the way in which I had found my follower Larry
compelled to act the part of a bear.  I said how grateful I felt to the
worthy mayor for the assistance he had given me, as also for his
introduction to Monsieur Planterre.  While I was speaking, La Touche was
summoned out of the room by a servant.  He in a short time returned, and
then, to my surprise, gave his mother and sister a full account of the
way I had rescued Monsieur Planterre from the hands of the mob.

Mademoiselle Sophie appeared to be highly interested, and kept looking
at me while her brother was speaking, and, although she did not join in
the praises her mother lavished upon me for what she called my gallant
conduct, evidently regarded me as a hero.

"You have come into our country in what I fear will prove troublous
times," observed La Touche, as we were seated at the supper table.  "The
people are inclined to take the law into their own hands in other places
besides Vernon, and are specially ill-disposed towards the _noblesse_,
who, they declare, have been living on the fat of the land, while they
have been starving.  Our friend Monsieur Planterre, after what has
occurred, not considering his life safe in the town, has come out here,
but thought it wiser not to appear as a guest, lest it should be
reported that I have entertained him.  My people suppose him to be a
lackey, as he acts the part to admiration; and he will take his
departure to-morrow morning, without, I hope, being discovered, so that
they will all be ready to declare that Monsieur Planterre has not come
to the chateau."

"Yes, there is a sad time coming for France, from what I hear is taking
place in Paris," said Madame La Touche.  "The people have already got
the upper hand, and the king himself is, I fear, in hourly peril of his
life."

"Ah! we must not think or talk about such things too much," said La
Touche.  "My object at present is to make our guest's stay in France
pleasant, and not to speak of disagreeable subjects.  Sophie will, I am
sure, aid me in that object."

Sophie smiled, and said that such an occupation would afford her much
pleasure.



CHAPTER TWENTY NINE.

CONCLUSION.

As the supper was at a comparatively early hour, we retired to the
drawing-room, where the young lady played and sang, with much spirit,
several lively airs, which her brother selected.  She then chose one for
herself of a more plaintive character, which had, as she intended it
should have, a strange effect upon me.  I listened in raptures, for her
voice was sweet and melodious.

"I am indeed glad that you understand French so well," she said.  "When
I heard that an Englishman was coming some day, I thought that we should
have had to carry on a conversation by signs, and that would have been
very stupid."

"I fear that I do not speak it very correctly, but I must try to improve
myself," I remarked.

"You do make a few mistakes now and then, but I shall be delighted to
instruct you, and to correct your errors, if you will allow me to do
so."

That night, although somewhat tired from the exertions I had gone
through in the morning, it was some time before I felt inclined to turn
in; and when I did at length go to bed, I remained awake far longer than
usual, thinking of the beautiful Sophie, her sweet voice still sounding
in my ears.

I was awakened next morning by Larry, who accompanied one of the
servants to my room.

"I did not see you last night, Mr Terence, and I couldn't tell what had
become of your honour," he exclaimed.  "Faith, I tried to tell the
people of the house that I wanted to find you, but not a word of my best
French did they understand."

I told Larry how well I had been treated, and that he need not have any
apprehensions about me.  The servant had brought a cup of coffee, which
I found was the custom of the French to take in the morning, and he told
me that breakfast would not be ready for an hour or more.  As soon,
therefore, as I had dressed I descended to the garden, which was of
considerable extent, with lawns, fish-ponds, fountains, statues, and
labyrinths.  I had not gone far, when I saw a small figure tripping on
lightly before me.  I was tempted to hasten my steps.  She turned--it
was Sophie.

"I will show you the garden," she said, "and my favourite spots.  You
might lose yourself without my guidance, and perhaps you will accept
it."

I of course had but one answer to give.  We walked on in the fresh
morning air.  I thought her lovely in the evening, but she appeared
still more so now, looking as fresh and bright as the gay flowers which
adorned the parterres.  I felt that I had entered into a new existence;
it was no wonder, for we were both young, and she had lived a secluded
life, she told me, since her father's death.  We very naturally forgot
all about breakfast, and when we arrived at the house Madame La Touche
chided her for her thoughtlessness in allowing me to starve.

Such was the commencement of my stay.  My friend insisted that I should
go out with him to shoot, believing that such was the only amusement I
was likely to care for; but the preserves were full of game, and we had
to do little more than stand still and shoot the birds as they were put
up by the dogs.  We returned to dinner, and as La Touche gave me the
choice, I preferred a stroll in the garden with him and his sister to a
more extended excursion.

The following days were spent in the same delightful manner.  Every hour
I became more and more attached to Sophie.  I could not but feel a
desire that she should return my affection.  I forgot my poverty, and
that until I could obtain my promotion, I should have nothing on which
to support a wife, as the Ballinahone property had been entailed on my
brother.  I ought, I knew, to have assumed an indifference to the young
lady, and speedily taken my departure, and I was in consequence much to
blame.  Still La Touche should not have invited me to the chateau; but
in throwing me into the society of so charming a being as his sister, he
did no perhaps think of the consequences, or, if he did, fancied that I
was possessed of wealth, or at least a competency.

We were living all the time a peaceful secluded life, for we never went
beyond the walled grounds of the chateau, and few visitors came to the
house.  We heard occasionally, however, what was going forward both in
Paris and other parts of the country.  Matters were growing more and
more serious.  Risings had occurred in various places, and lives had
been lost.  An army of fishwives, and other women of the lowest orders,
had marched to Versailles, and threatened the King and Marie Antoinette,
if food was not given them.

We were one evening seated at supper when a servant rushed into the
room, with terror depicted in his countenance.

"Oh, monsieur! oh, madame!" he exclaimed, "I have just received notice
that a vast array of people are marching this way, threatening to
destroy all the chateaux in the neighbourhood, and the Chateau La Touche
in particular.  They declare that you are an aristocrat."

"Are you certain that this is true?" exclaimed La Touche, starting from
his seat.

"If monsieur will come to the northern tower, he will hear the voices of
the people in the distance," replied the servant.

"Do not be alarmed, my mother and sister," said La Touche.  "The report
may be exaggerated, but it is as well to be prepared.  We will close all
the lower doors and windows, and set the ruffians at defiance if they
come.  Will you accompany me, Finnahan, and as we go give me your advice
as to the best way of defending the house?"

I would willingly have stopped to try and tranquillise the alarm of
Madame La Touche and Sophie, but I could not refuse my friend's request.
I set off with him, and we soon reached the tower.  We looked out from
a narrow window towards the north, but at first could see no one
approaching, though on listening attentively we fancied that we could
distinguish the murmur of voices far off.

Presently a bright light appeared on the left, rising, it seemed, out of
the midst of a forest at some distance from the banks of the Seine.  The
light rapidly increased in size, and flames began to ascend, while
clouds of smoke darkened the sky.

"Ah! that must come from the Chateau l'Estrange!" exclaimed La Touche.
"The rabble have attacked the house, and set it on fire.  Fortunately,
none of the family are at home except the old domestics, and they, poor
people, will too probably be sacrificed.  The villains would like to
treat my chateau in the same way, and will before long make the
attempt."

"But we will defend it, and drive them back," I exclaimed.  "Have you a
sufficient supply of arms and ammunition for its defence?  We must
barricade all the doors and windows; and, unless they have cannon, they
will not succeed in getting in, I trust."

"We have plenty of arms, and I obtained a supply of ammunition a short
time since," said La Touche.  "I doubt, however, the courage of some of
my domestics; they would rather yield to the rabble than risk their
lives in the defence of my property."

"Larry and I will try to make up, as far as we can, for their want of
bravery," I said.

"Thank you, my friends; you will be a host in yourselves.  Now let us
see about preparing to give the insurgents a warm reception should they
attack the chateau."

On descending from the tower, La Touche entered the supper room singing
and laughing.

"There is not much to be afraid of, so you need not be anxious, _ma
chere mere_; or you either, Sophie," he said in a cheerful tone of
voice.  "We are going to shut the doors and windows in case any of the
rabble may try to creep in at them.  You can retire to your rooms or
stay here, as you think best.  You will oblige me, however, by keeping
the women quiet, or they may be running about and interfering with our
proceedings."

"We will do more than keep them quiet," exclaimed Sophie; "we will make
them useful by setting them an example; only tell us what you want us to
do."

"The best thing you can do is to close all the shutters and windows
looking to the front in the upper storey, and to place chests of drawers
and bedding against them, so that if bullets are fired they will do no
harm."

"That we will do, my son," said Madame La Touche, rising from her seat;
and she hurried off, accompanied by Sophie.

La Touche at once summoned his _maitre d'hotel_ and the other servants.

"My friends," he said, "I have no intention of letting the insurgents
destroy my chateau, as they have done those of other persons, and I will
trust to you to defend it to the last."

A party of Englishmen would have cheered.  They, however, merely said,
"_Oui! oui! monsieur_; we are ready to do what you tell us."

Among the servants came Larry.  I told him what we expected would
happen, and what he was to do.

"Shure we'll be after driving the `spalpeens' back again," he answered.
"I was little thinking that we should have this sort of fun to amuse us
when we came to France."

We lost no more time in talking, but immediately set to work to shut all
the doors on the ground floor, and to nail pieces of timber and strong
planks against them.  The windows were closed with such materials as
could be obtained.  There were more forthcoming than I expected; and La
Touche acknowledged that he had laid in a store some time before.

He then summoned the _maitre d'hotel_ and two other servants, and led
the way--accompanied by Larry and me--down a steep flight of stone steps
to a vault beneath the house.  Opening the door of what was supposed to
be a wine cellar, he showed us a stand of twenty muskets, with pistols
and pikes, several casks of powder and cases of bullets.  Larry, at once
fastening a belt round his waist, and tucking a couple of muskets under
each arm, hurried off, the servants following his example.  La Touche
and I each took as many more, and returned to the hall.

His first care was to place his men two and two at each of the parts of
the building likely to be attacked.

"These countrymen of mine fight better together than singly," he
observed.  "And now let us go round and examine our defences, to
ascertain that no part is left insecure."

Some time was spent in making these various arrangements.  Every now and
then La Touche ran in to see his mother and sister, and to assure them
that they need not be alarmed.

"I have no fears," said Sophie, on one of these occasions, when I
accompanied him.  "With the help of this brave Englishman and his
follower, I am sure that you will drive back the insurgents."

"_Ma foi_!  I hope so," said La Touche to me, as we left the room.  "But
they are the same sort of ruffians as those who destroyed the Bastile."

The news of that event had a short time before reached us.

"Now let us return to the watch-tower, and try to make out what the
_canaille_ are about."

The mob, as far as we could observe, were not as yet approaching.  They
were probably dancing and singing round the burning chateau, the flames
from which were ascending in all directions, its towers forming four
pyramids of fire.

"They are waiting to see the result of their handiwork," said La Touche.
"When the roof has fallen in and the towers come to the ground, they
will be satisfied, and will probably make their way in this direction.
Ah! what are those lights there?" he suddenly exclaimed.

I looked towards the spot he pointed at, when I saw advancing along the
road a number of men bearing torches.

"They are coming, as I expected, fully believing that they will destroy
this chateau as they have the Chateau l'Estrange," said La Touche.
"Now, my friend, it is possible that they may succeed, notwithstanding
all our preparations.  I will therefore have a carriage prepared, and
the horses put to, with two others for riding.  I know, should I be
unable to go, that you will protect my mother and sister, and endeavour
to conduct them to a place of safety, either to the coast or to the
house of a friend whom they will name to you."

"You may trust me indeed, although I hope for your sake that there will
be no necessity for such a proceeding," I answered, my heart beating
strangely at the thought of having Sophie and her mother committed to my
charge.  I resolved, of course, to protect them to the last, and I hoped
that in my character as a foreigner I might be able to do this more
effectually than La Touche himself.  Madame should pass as my mother,
and Sophie for my sister, and I hoped that we might thus pass through
the fiercest mob, whose rage, being turned against the aristocrats,
would not interfere with an Englishman, whom they would imagine was
merely travelling through the country for the sake of seeing it, as many
had been doing for some time past.  We had very little longer time to
wait, when some hundreds of persons appeared coming along the road
directly for the chateau.  We could see them from the tower, where we
had remained.  A large number were carrying torches.  The entrance gate
was locked and barred, and the chateau itself, all lights being
concealed, must have appeared shrouded in darkness.

"Let them exhaust their strength in breaking down the gate," said La
Touche.

Scarcely a moment after, the mob reached the gate, waving their torches,
and shrieking and shouting out--

"Down with the aristocrats!  Down with the tyrants!  Down with those who
pillage us, and live upon the product of our toil?"

"Let them shout themselves hoarse," remarked La Touche.  "They will not
find it a very easy matter to break down that stout old gate, or to
climb over the wall."

On discovering the impediment in their way, their shouts and threats
increased in fury.  A number of them, rushing against the bar of the
gate, endeavoured to force it from its hinges.

Not a word all this time was uttered by any of our garrison.  The
insurgents, finding that the gate would not yield, shouted for some one
in the chateau to open it.  No one replied.  Again and again they shook
it.  At last we heard the sound of loud blows, as if it were being
struck by a sledge hammer, while several figures appeared on the top of
the wall, ladders having been procured to assist them up.

"Why do you come here, my friends?" demanded La Touche abruptly.  "The
gate is locked as a sign that I wished to be in private."

"It is the residence of an aristocrat, and all such we have resolved to
level to the ground," shouted one of the mob.

"I warn you that you will pay dearly if you make the attempt," cried La
Touche.  "We are well-armed, and are resolved to defend the place."

"We are not to be stopped by threats.  On, comrades, on!" exclaimed
another voice among those who were clambering over the wall.  "If one of
our number falls, remember that every one of those inside the house will
be destroyed."

"You have been warned,--the consequence will be on your own heads if you
attack us," said La Touche.

By this time a considerable number of persons had got into the yard by
clambering over the wall, but the stout iron gate had hitherto resisted
all attempts to force it open.

"We might kill or wound all the fellows in front of the house," said La
Touche to me, "but I am unwilling to shed the blood of my countrymen if
it can be avoided; I will give them another chance.  You are in our
power, friends," he shouted out; "if we fire, not one of you will
escape.  Go back to where you came from, and your lives will be spared."

Derisive shouts were the only answers given to what La Touche had said.
More people were all the time clambering over the wall, while continued
blows on the gate showed that the mob had not given up the idea of
forcing an entrance.  Presently there was a loud crash, the gate was
thrown open, and in rushed a number of savage-looking fellows, all armed
with some weapon or other, many of them carrying torches, which they
waved wildly above their heads, shouting all the time, "Down with the
aristocrats!  Revenge! revenge for the wrongs they have done us!"

"They are in earnest, of that there can be no doubt," said La Touche.
"We must drive them back before they become more daring.  It is useless
to hold further parley with them;" and he gave orders to our small
garrison to open fire.

Loud shrieks and cries rent the air, several people were seen to fall,
but this only increased the rage of the rest, who, running up to the
front door with axes and other weapons, began hacking away at it,
probably expecting quickly to force it open.

More and more people followed, until the whole yard was full of men
surging here and there, some firing, others waving their torches,
apparently to distract our attention, while the more determined assailed
the doors and windows.

"Are there no troops likely to come to our assistance?"  I asked, seeing
that matters were growing serious.

"No; we must defend ourselves, and I fear that if these ruffians
persevere, they will succeed at last," whispered La Touche to me.  "We
must endeavour to save my mother and sister, for the mob, if they once
get in, will sacrifice them as well as the rest of us.  I am resolved to
stop and defend my house to the last, but I must provide for their
safety by committing them to your charge.  The carriage is in readiness,
and there are two faithful servants to whom I have given orders how to
act.  Go, I beseech you, at once, and request my mother and Sophie to
enter the carriage and set out without a moment's delay.  Two
saddle-horses are in readiness for you and your servant.  You will go as
their escort.  Tell them I will retreat in time to follow them.  Take
the road towards Paris, and wait for me.  Should any one attempt to
interfere with you, say that you are an English officer, and that the
ladies are under your charge.  I do not apprehend that you will be
molested; go, therefore, lose no time."

He wrung my hand as if he would take no denial.  I of course, although
unwilling to leave him, was ready to carry out his wishes.  I hastened
to the room where I had left Madame La Touche and Sophie, and explained
to them what La Touche wished them to do.

"But will he follow us?" asked Madame La Touche in an agitated tone.

"He has promised to do so, madame," I answered; "but let us not delay,
lest the mob should get round to the other side of the house and cut off
our retreat."

Madame La Touche hesitated no longer, but allowed me to lead her and her
daughter down to the yard at the back of the house, where we found the
horses already put to, and I handed the ladies into the carriage.  The
coachman mounted the box; another servant was holding the two riding
horses; and I was preparing to mount, when Larry, sent by La Touche,
came springing down the steps and was in his saddle in a moment.  The
French servant mounted behind the carriage; and the coach drove off down
an avenue which led along the banks of a stream running through the
pleasure-grounds.  I was in hopes that La Touche would have followed at
once, for I saw that there was very little probability of his being able
successfully to defend the house against the savage mob who had resolved
to destroy it.  I could hear the wild shrieks and shouts and cries of
the assailants, the rattle of musketry, and the loud thundering against
the doors and windows; but, anxious as I felt about my friend, my duty
was to push on with my charges, and with all possible speed to convey
them out of danger.  The coachman was equally desirous to preserve his
mistress, and lashed on his horses at their utmost speed.  Fortunately
he knew the road, which was an unusually good one.

We were soon outside the grounds belonging to the chateau.  Proceeding
along a road which ran parallel with the river, we soon got beyond the
sounds of the strife; but on looking round I saw a bright light suddenly
appear in the direction of the chateau.  It increased in size.  Another
and another appeared; and I could distinguish the flames bursting out
from several windows.  Could the mob so soon have broken into the
chateau, and set it on fire?  I feared the worst, and that my gallant
friend and his servants had been overwhelmed, and too probably
massacred.  I felt thankful, however, that Madame La Touche and Sophie
had escaped in time.  Had they remained a few minutes longer, they might
have been too late.  Had I been alone, I should have been unable to
restrain myself from galloping back to ascertain what had occurred; but
to protect them was now my great object.  I kept as close as possible to
the carriage, not knowing what might at any moment occur.  I was afraid
that they might look out of the window and see the flames; but they were
too much overcome with grief and terror to do that, and sat back in the
carriage, clasped in each other's arms.  When the road would allow, I
rode up and spoke a few words to try and comfort them, although it was
no easy matter to do that.

"When will Henri come?" exclaimed Madame La Touche.  "He ought to have
overtaken us by this time."

"You forget, madame, we have been travelling at a rapid rate," I
observed.  "He promised to retreat in time, should he find it necessary
to abandon the chateau.  He will probably overtake us when we stop for
the night.  There is no fear that the mob will follow him to any
distance."

The coachman said he knew of an inn about six leagues on the Paris road,
where madame and Sophie might rest securely, as the mob could not get so
far that night.  It was where Monsieur La Touche had ordered him to
remain.  I bade him therefore go on as his master told him, although he
proceeded at a slower rate than at first, for fear of knocking up his
horses.

I was very thankful when the little inn was reached.  It was kept by a
buxom dame, who received Madame La Touche and Sophie politely, and
offered the best accommodation her house would afford.  I handed the
ladies from the carriage.  Madame entered the house at once, but Sophie
lingered for a moment.

"Oh, tell me, Monsieur Finnahan, has Henri come yet?  I dread lest he
should have done anything rash, and lost his life.  It would break
mamma's heart if he were to be killed; and she will not rest, I am
convinced, until she knows he is safe.  I cannot ask you to go back to
look for him, but will you send your servant to gain intelligence, and
bring it to us?"

"I would go back myself, but my duty is to remain and guard you," I
said.  "What do you wish?--tell me."

"We shall be perfectly safe here, and I desire for my mother's sake to
know what has happened to Henri," she answered.

I thought that Sophie was right, and my own anxiety made me desire to
ride back.

I accordingly mounted my horse, leading Larry's.  I left my faithful
retainer with instructions that in the event of the mob approaching, he
was to drive off with the ladies.  I galloped on at full speed, anxious
without loss of time to reach the chateau.  If La Touche had escaped, he
would probably require my assistance.  I had no expectation of finding
he had beaten back the insurgents; indeed, I was not free from the
fearful apprehension that he and his people had been surprised by them,
and massacred before they could make good their retreat; still, as the
insurgents, when I left the chateau, appeared to have no intention of
making their way round to the back of the building, I hoped that he
would have contrived to escape in time.  That they would have murdered
him if caught I had not the shadow of a doubt.

I had marked the road as I came along, and had no fear as to finding my
way.  The moon, too, had risen, which enabled me to do this with less
difficulty.  As I galloped on, I looked carefully about on either side,
for I knew that the clatter of my horses' hoofs would attract the
attention of any one coming along the road.  But I met no one along the
whole length of my ride.  At last I could distinguish the tall towers
with the flames bursting out from their summits, and I knew that the
chateau was doomed to destruction.  Suddenly both horses started, and I
heard a voice say--

"Who goes there?"

It was La Touche.  He was wounded badly, and unable to proceed farther.
Had I not gone to look for him, he would most probably have perished.

"The chateau will be burned to the ground," he observed.  "But I care
not for that, now that I know, thanks to you, Finnahan, that my mother
and Sophie have escaped."

Having bound up his wounds, I assisted him to mount the spare horse, and
we set out for the inn where I had left Madame La Touche and her
daughter.

We met with many adventures and hair-breadth escapes before I ultimately
succeeded in escorting them on board the _Saucy Bet_, and seeing them
safely landed in England I shortly afterwards obtained my promotion.
And though I have much more to narrate which my readers may like to
hear, I was now lieutenant, and my adventures as a midshipman therefore
come to a conclusion at this period of my life.

THE END.





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