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´╗┐Title: Salt Water - The Sea Life and Adventures of Neil D'Arcy the Midshipman
Author: Kingston, William Henry Giles, 1814-1880
Language: English
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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 "Salt Water - The Sea Life and Adventures of Neil D'Arcy the Midshipman" ***

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Salt Water, The Sea Life and Adventures of Neil D'Arcy the Midshipman,
By W H G Kingston.

________________________________________________________________________

One interesting feature of this book is that it must have been one of
the earliest to be written by Kingston.  It does not appear that there
was another edition for sixty years, by which time the author had been
dead for 35 years.

It is also a very good book of his genre, with lots of battle, murder,
and sudden death.  It deals with the adventures of a young boy who joins
the Royal Navy as a midshipman in the care of his uncle.  Most of the
action takes place in the Mediterranean, even so far as the Ionian sea,
where he visits Zante (now called Zakynthos), Cephalonia, and even
Corfu.

Of course practically everybody appearing in the book is slain, except
the young hero, who survives all.

If you want to read, or listen to, a rattling good yarn, try this one.

________________________________________________________________________

SALT WATER, THE SEA LIFE AND ADVENTURES OF NEIL D'ARCY THE MIDSHIPMAN,
BY W H G KINGSTON.


CHAPTER ONE.

NEIL D'ARCY'S LIFE AT SEA.

MY ANCESTORS--LARRY HARRIGAN, AND MY EARLY EDUCATION--CHOICE OF A
PROFESSION--FIRST START IN LIFE.

"The sea, the sea," if not my mother, has been my nurse (and anything
but a dry one) from the earliest days of my recollection.  I was born
within the sound of old ocean's surges; I dabbled in salt water before I
could run; and I have floated on salt water, and have been well
sprinkled with it too, from that time to the present.  It never occurred
to me, indeed, that I could be anything but a sailor.  In my innocence,
I pictured a life on the ocean wave as the happiest allowed to mortals;
and little did I wot of all the bumpings and thumpings, the blows and
the buffetings, I was destined to endure in the course of it.  Yet, even
had I expected them, I feel very certain they would not have changed my
wishes.  No, no.  I was mightily mistaken with regard to the romance of
the thing, I own; but had I to begin life again, with all its dangers
and hardships, still I would choose the ocean for my home--the glorious
navy of England for my profession.

But now for my antecedents.  I will not trouble the reader with many of
them.  I was born at the family seat in the south of Ireland.  My mother
died while I was very young, and my father, Colonel D'Arcy, who had seen
much service in the army and had been severely wounded, after a
lingering illness, followed her to the grave.  During this time I was
committed to the charge of Larry Harrigan, the butler and family
factotum; and, in truth, I desired no better companion, for well did I
love the old man.  He was a seaman every inch of him, from his cherished
pigtail to the end of the timber toe on which he had long stumped
through the world.  He had been coxswain to my maternal grandfather, a
captain in the navy, who was killed in action.  Larry had gone to sea
with him as a lad, and they had seldom been separated.  A few minutes
before his commander, in the moment of victory, lost his life, Larry had
his leg shot away; and on being paid off, he repaired to where my
mother's family were residing.  When my father married, he offered the
old seaman an asylum beneath his roof.  He certainly did not eat the
bread of idleness there, for no one about the place was more generally
useful.  There was nothing he could not do or make, and in spite of his
loss of a limb, he was as active as most people possessed with the usual
complement of supporters.

Larry had loved my mother as his own child, and for her sake he loved me
more than anything else on earth.  As he considered it a part of his
duty to instruct me in his own accomplishments, which being chiefly of a
professional character, I at a very early age became thoroughly
initiated in the mysteries of knotting, bending, and splicing, and
similar nautical arts.  I could point a rope, work a Turk's-head, or
turn in an eye, as well as many an A.B.  Not content with this, he built
me a model of a ship, with her rigging complete.  He then set to work to
teach me the names of every rope and spar; and when I knew them and
their uses, he unrigged the ship and made me rig her again under his
inspection.  This I did several times, till he considered I was perfect.
He next bought fresh stuff for a new suit of rigging, and made me cut
it into proper lengths and turn it all in correctly before I set it up.

"Now you see, Master Neil," said he, "we've just got the lovely _Psyche_
out of the hands of the shipwrights, and it's our duty to get the
rigging over her mastheads, and fit her for sea as fast as the work can
be done; so let's see how soon we can do the job."

Such were our indoor amusements, and thus I rapidly acquired an amount
of knowledge which most midshipmen take a long time to get stowed away
in their heads.  Larry also used to take me out on the waters of the
bay, and taught me to row and to manage the sails of a small boat with
tolerable dexterity.  I learned also to swim; and had it not been for my
possession of that art, I should probably long ago have been food for
fishes.  And here I must endeavour strongly to impress on the minds of
my young readers the importance of learning to swim well; for not only
may they thus be enabled to save their own lives, but they may have the
happiness of preserving those of their fellow-creatures.

While my poor father lived, he attended to the more intellectual
branches of my education.  My mother taught me to read, and for her sake
I loved reading.  She also instilled those religious principles into me
which have been my support through life.  Short and fleeting as was the
time she remained on earth, inestimable were the blessings she bestowed
on me.  Whatever of the milk of human kindness flows round my heart,
from her gentle bosom I drew it forth; and surely I do not err when I
believe that her earnest prayers before the throne of mercy have caused
watchful spirits to shield me from the perils of the stormy ocean, and
from still greater dangers, the treacherous quicksands and dark rocks
which have laid in my course through life.

I was ten years old before it occurred to any one that a little of the
discipline of a school might be beneficial to me, to prepare me somewhat
better than I could be prepared at home to rough it in the rude world
into which I was ere long to be plunged.  To the academy, therefore, of
a certain Doctor Studdert, near Cork, I was sent, where I contrived to
pick up a few crumbs of knowledge and some experience of life.  I had no
great dislike to school, but liked home much better; and no one sung--

  "Packing up and going away,
  All for the sake of a holiday,"

more joyously than did I when my first midsummer holiday came round.

Larry was on the watch for me as I jumped out of the carriage which had
been sent over to Kerry to meet me.  The old seaman had expected me to
come back a prodigy of learning; but was horrified to discover that I
was puzzled how to make a carrick-bend, and had nearly forgotten the
length of the _Psyche's_ main-top bowline.

"And that's what the Doctor calls schooling, does he, Master Neil?" he
exclaimed, indignantly.  "Now I'll make bold to say that among all the
bigwigs he has under him, including himself, there isn't one on 'em
knows how to gammon a bowsprit or turn in a dead-eye.  Now, to my mind,
if they can't give you more larning than you've got since you've been
away, you'd better stop at home altogether."

I agreed with Larry, but the higher authorities ruled otherwise; so back
to school I went at the end of the holidays, having regained all the
nautical knowledge I before possessed, with a little in addition.

I will pass over the sad time of my brave father's death.  I was left to
the guardianship of my uncle, Counsellor D'Arcy, the great Dublin
barrister, and of Doctor Driscoll.  I was removed to the house of the
latter, with poor Larry, who threatened to do all sorts of dreadful
deeds, if he were not allowed to accompany me.  My patrimony, which had
become somewhat attenuated, was in the meantime put out to nurse.  I was
rather surprised at not being sent back to school, when one day the
Doctor, as he sat cross-legged before the fire after dinner, rubbing his
shins, called me to him.

"Neil, my boy, your uncle, Counsellor D'Arcy, has requested me to speak
to you on a very important subject.  It is time, he thinks, that your
studies should be directed to fit you for the profession you may select.
What would you wish to be, now?  Have you ever thought on the matter?
Would you like to follow his steps, and study the law; or those of your
honoured father, and enter the army; or those of your grandfather, and
go to sea; or would you like to become a merchant, or a clergyman; or
what do you say to the practice of medicine?"

"That I would never take a drop, if I could help it, Doctor; or give it
to others either," I answered.  "I fear that I should make a bad
minister, and a worse merchant; and as for the law, I would not change
places with the Counsellor himself, if he were to ask me.  I should have
no objection to the army; but if I'm to choose my profession, I'll go to
sea, by all means.  I've no fancy for any but a sea life; but I'll just
go and talk the matter over with Larry, and hear what he thinks about
it."

The Doctor said nothing.  He considered, I conclude, that he had obeyed
my uncle's wishes in proposing the matter to me, and his conscience was
at rest.  I forthwith ran off and broached the subject to Larry; not
that I doubted what his advice would be.  The old seaman gave a hitch to
the waistband of his trousers, as he replied, with no little animation--

"Why, you see, Master Neil, to my mind there's only one calling which a
man, who is anything of a man, would wish to follow.  The others are all
very well in their way: the parsons, and the soldiers, and the
big-wigged lawyers, and the merchants, and the doctors, and the
`'plomatics'--them who goes abroad to desave the furriners, and takes up
so much room and gives themselves such airs aboard ship; but what, just
let me ax, is the best on 'em when you puts him alongside a right
honest, thorough-bred seaman?  What's the proudest on 'em, when it comes
to blow half a capful of wind?  What's the boldest on 'em in a dark
night, on a lee shore?  Not one on 'em is worth that!" and he snapped
his fingers to show his contempt for landsmen of every degree.  "On
course, Master Neil, dear, you'll be a seaman.  With my will, the navy
is the only calling your blessed mother's son should follow.  Your
grandfather died in it, and your great-grandfather before him; and I
hope to see you in command of one of His Majesty's ships before I die--
that I do.  But I was forgetting that you were growing so big, and that
you would be going off to sea so soon," continued the old man, in an
altered tone.  "You'll remember, for his sake, all the lessons Larry
gave you, Master Neil?  And you'll think of your old friend sometimes in
a night watch, won't you, now?"

I assured him that I would often think of him, and try not to forget any
of his lessons.  I then went back to the Doctor, to inform him that
Larry agreed with me that the navy was the only profession likely to
suit me.

My future calling being thus speedily settled, Doctor Driscoll, who was
aware that knowledge would not come by intuition, sent me to an old
master in the navy, who fortunately resided in the neighbourhood, to be
instructed in the rudiments of navigation.  As I was as wide awake as
most youngsters of my age, I very soon gained a fair insight into its
mysteries; and by the time the spring came round, I was pronounced fit
for duty.

A brother of my mother's, who commanded a large revenue cutter on the
south coast of England, having been applied to for advice by the Doctor,
answered by the following short note:--

"Dear Sir,--I'll make a seaman of Neil, with all my heart, if you will
send him across to Portsmouth.  Let him inquire for me at the `Star and
Garter.'  Should I be away on a cruise, I will leave word with the
landlady what is to be done with him.  My craft is the _Serpent_.

"I remain, faithfully yours,--

"Terence O'Flaherty."

"What! send the child all the way over to Portsmouth by himself!"
exclaimed good Mrs Driscoll, the Doctor's wife, on hearing the contents
of this epistle.  "Why, he might be spirited off to the Plantations or
the Black Hole of Calcutta, and we never hear any more about him.  What
could Mr O'Flaherty be thinking about?"

"That his nephew is about to be an officer in His Majesty's service, and
that the sooner he learns to take care of himself, the better," replied
the Doctor.

"Let him begin, then, by slow degrees, as birds are taught to fly,"
urged the kind dame.  "He has never been out of the nest yet, except to
school, when he was put in charge of the coachman, like a parcel."

"He will find his way safe enough," muttered the Doctor.  "Won't you,
Neil?"

To speak the truth, I would gladly have undertaken to find my way to
Timbuctoo, or the Antipodes, by myself; but I had just formed a plan
which I was afraid might be frustrated, had I agreed with the Doctor.  I
therefore answered, "I'll go and ask Larry;" and without waiting for any
further observations, off I ran, to put it in train.  It was, that Larry
should accompany me to Portsmouth; and I had also a notion that he might
be able to go to sea with me.  He was delighted with my plan, and
backing Mrs Driscoll's objections to my being sent alone, it was
finally arranged that he should take charge of me till he had handed me
over to my uncle.  Such parts of my outfit as could be manufactured at
home, Mrs Driscoll got ready for me, and Larry was empowered to procure
the rest for me at Portsmouth.

I confess that I did not shed a tear or cast a look of regret at my
birthplace; but with a heart as light as a skylark taking his morning
flight, I mounted alongside Larry on the top of the coach bound for
Dublin.  While in that city we saw my uncle, the Counsellor.  I do not
remember profiting much by the visit.  He, however, shook me kindly by
the hand, and wishing me every success, charged Larry to take care of
me.

"Arrah!" muttered the old man as we walked away, "his honour, sure,
would be after telling a hen to take care of her chickens now."

In London we put up at an inn at the west end, near Exeter 'Change; and
while dinner was getting ready, we went to see the wild beasts which
dwelt there in those days.  I thought London a very smoky, dismal city,
and that is all I can remember about it.

Larry was rigged for the journey in a suit of black; and though he would
have been known, however dressed, by every one for a seaman, he was
always taken for an officer of the old school, and was treated
accordingly with becoming respect.  Indeed, there was an expression of
mild firmness and of unassuming self-confidence in his countenance,
added to his silvery locks and his handsome though weather-beaten
features, which commanded it.

We spent only one night in London; and by five o'clock in the afternoon
of the day we left it we were rattling down the High Street of
Portsmouth, on the top of the fast coach, while the guard played "See
the Conquering Hero Comes"--which I had some notion he did in compliment
to me.

I thought Portsmouth a much nicer place than London (in which idea some
people, perhaps, will not agree with me); while I looked upon the "Star
and Garter," where we stopped, as a very fine hotel, though not equal in
dignity to the "George."  My chest, made under Larry's superintendence,
showed that its owner was destined for the sea.  Taking my hand, Larry
stumped up the passage, following the said chest and the bag which
contained his wardrobe.

"What ship has your son come to join?" asked good Mrs Timmins, the
landlady, curtseying, as she encountered us.

"Faith, marm, it's not after being the son of the likes of me is Master
D'Arcy here," he answered, pleased at the same time at the dignity thus
conferred on him.  "This is the nephew, marm, of Lieutenant O'Flaherty
of His Majesty's cutter, the _Serpent_; and I'll make bold to ax whether
she's in the harbour, and what directions the Lieutenant has left about
his nephew?"

"Oh dear, now, the cutter sailed this very morning for the westward,"
answered the landlady; "that is unfortunate!  And so this young
gentleman is Lieutenant O'Flaherty's nephew.  Well, then, we must take
good care of him, as she won't be back for a week; and you know, mister,
you needn't trouble yourself more about him."

"Faith, marm, it's not I will be after leaving the young master till I
see him safe in his uncle's hands," answered Larry, with a rap on his
thigh.  "So I'll just trouble you to give us a room with a couple of
beds in it, and we'll take up our quarters here till the cutter comes
back."

This arrangement of course pleased the worthy Mrs Timmins, as she got
two guests instead of one; and I thus found myself established for a
week at Portsmouth.  Having selected our chamber, we went into the
coffee-room and ordered dinner.  There were several youngsters there,
and other junior officers of the profession, for the "Star and Garter"
was at that time more frequented than the far-famed "Blue Posts."  At
first some of the younger portion of the guests were a little inclined
to look superciliously at Larry and me; but he stuck out his timber toe,
and returned their glances with such calm independence, that they soon
suspected he was not made of the stuff to laugh at; and they then showed
an evident disposition to enter into conversation with him to discover
who he could be.  This, for my sake, he did not wish them to do; for, as
he was to act the part of guardian, he thought it incumbent on him to
keep up his dignity.

We passed, to me, a very interesting time at Portsmouth.  We constantly
visited the dockyard, which was my delight.  He took me over the
_Victory_, and showed me the spot where Nelson fell; and with old
associations many a tale and anecdote which, long since forgotten, now
returned to his memory, he poured into my eager ear.

Some people declare, and naval men even do so, that there's no romance
in a seafaring life--that it's all hard, dirty, slaving work, without
anything to repay one, except prize-money in war time and promotion in
peace.  Now, to my mind, there's a great deal of romance and chivalry
and excitement, and ample recompense in the life itself; and this Larry,
who ought to have known, for he had seen plenty of hard service, had
himself discovered.  It is that some do not know where to look for the
romance, and if found, cannot appreciate it.  The stern realities of a
sea life--its hardships, its dangers, its battles, its fierce contests
with the elements, its triumphs over difficulties--afford to some souls
a pleasure which ignobler ones cannot feel: I trust that my adventures
will explain what I mean.  For my own part, I can say that oftentimes
have I enjoyed that intense pleasure, that joyous enthusiasm, that high
excitement, which not only recompenses one for the toil and hardships by
which it is won, but truly makes them as nothing in comparison to the
former.  All I can say is, let me go through the world sharing the rough
and the smooth alike--the storms and sunshine of life; but save me from
the stagnant existence of the man who sleeps on a feather bed and always
keeps out of danger.



CHAPTER TWO.

DON THE TRUE BLUE--ROMANCE OF THE SEA--LARRY AND HIS WIFE.

My uniform was to be made at Portsmouth.  Of course I felt myself not a
little important, and very fine, as I put it on for, the first time, and
looked at myself in the glass, with my dirk buckled to my side, and a
round hat with a cockade in it on my head.  We were sitting in the
coffee-room, waiting for dinner, on that eventful day, when a number of
youngsters belonging to a line-of-battle ship came into the inn.  They
had not been there long, when the shiny look of my new clothes, and the
way I kept handling my dirk, unable to help looking down at it,
attracted the attention of one of them.

"That's a sucking Nelson," he exclaimed, "I'll bet a sixpence!"

"Hillo, youngster! to what ship do you belong?" asked another, looking
hard at me.

"To the _Serpent_ cutter," I answered, not quite liking the tone in
which he spoke.

"And so you are a cutter's midshipman, are you?" he asked.  "And how is
it you are not on board, I should like to know?"

I told him that the cutter was away, and that I was waiting for her
return.

"Then I presume that you haven't been to sea at all yet?" observed the
first who had spoken, in a bland tone, winking at his shipmates, with
the intention of trotting me out.

I answered simply that I had not.  Larry, I must observe, all the time
was sitting silent, and pretending not to take any notice of them, so
that they did not suspect we belonged to each other.

"Poor boy, I pity you," observed the young gentleman, gravely, and
turning up his eyes.  "I'd advise you seriously to go back to your
mamma.  You've no idea of all the difficult things you'll have to learn;
of which, how to hand, reef, and steer isn't the hundredth part."

"In the first place, I have not a mamma to go to," I replied, in an
indignant tone; for I did not like his mentioning her, even.  "And
perhaps I know more about a ship than you think of."

"You! what should you know about a ship, I should like to know?"
exclaimed the midshipman, contemptuously.

"Why, I know how to gammon a bowsprit," I replied, looking at him very
hard.  "I can work a Turk's-head, make a lizard, or mouse a stay--can't
I, Larry?"  I asked, turning to the old sailor.  "And as for steering,
I've steered round Kilkee Bay scores of times, before you knew how to
handle an oar, I'll be bound--haven't I, Larry?"

The old man, thus appealed to, looked up and spoke.  "Faith, you may
well say that same, Master Neil; and proud am I to have taught you.  And
I'll just tell you, young gentlemen, I'll lay a gold guinea that Master
D'Arcy here would get the rigging over the mastheads of a ship, and fit
her for sea, while either of you were looking at them, and thinking how
you were to sway up the topmasts.  No offence, you know; but as for
gammoning--I don't think any one would beat you there."

Several of the midshipmen muttered murmurs of applause at what Larry and
I had said, and in a very short time we were all excellent friends, and
as intimate as if we were shipmates together.  They at once respected
him, for they could not help recognising him as a true sailor; and they
also saw that, young and inexperienced as I appeared, I was not quite as
green as they had at first supposed.  And we all parted excellent
friends.

We had been waiting some time at the "Star and Garter," and there were
no signs of the _Serpent_, and from the information Larry gained from
those who were likely to know, he was led to believe that several days
more might elapse before her return; so he proposed that we should look
out for lodgings, as more economical, and altogether pleasanter.  I
willingly agreed to his plan, so out we set in search of them.  We saw
several which did not suit us.  At last we went to Southsea, which we
agreed would be more airy and pleasant; and seeing a bill up at a very
neat little house, we knocked at the door, and were admitted.  There was
a nice sitting-room and bed-room, and a small room which Larry said
would do for him.  The landlady, who was a pleasant-looking, buxom dame,
asked only fifteen shillings a week, including doing for us; so we
agreed to take it.  By some chance we did not inquire her name.

"Good-bye, Missis," said Larry.  "I'll send the young gentleman's traps
here in half an hour, and leave him mean time as security.  I suppose
you'll have no objection to stay, Master D'Arcy?" he added, turning to
me.

I had none, of course, and so it was arranged.  While Larry was gone,
the good lady took me into the sitting-room, and begging me to make
myself at home, was very inquisitive to know all about me.  I had no
reason for not gratifying her, so I told her how my mother and then my
father had died and left me an orphan, and how I had come all the way
from Kerry to Portsmouth, and how I belonged to a cutter which I had not
yet seen, and how I intended one day to become a Nelson or a
Collingwood.  Of my resolution the kind lady much approved.

"Ah, my good, dear man, if he had lived, would have become a captain
also; but he went to sea and died, and I never from that day to this
heard any more of him," said she, wiping the corner of her eye with her
apron, more from old habit than because there were any tears to dry up,
for she certainly was not crying.  "Those things on the mantel-piece
there were some he brought me home years and years ago, when he was a
gay young sailor; and I've kept them ever since, for his sake, though
I've been hard pushed at times to find bread to put into my mouth, young
gentleman."

The things she spoke of were such as are to be found in the
sitting-rooms of most sailors' wives.  There were elephants' teeth, with
figures of men and women carved on them, very cleverly copied from very
coarse prints; and there were shells of many shapes, and lumps of
corals, and bits of seaweed, with the small model of a ship, very much
battered, and her yards scandalised, as if to mourn for her builder's
loss.  She was placed on a stand covered with small shells, and at
either end were bunches of shell flowers, doubtlessly very tasteful
according to the widow's idea.  The room was hung round with coloured
prints, which even then I did not think very well executed.  One was a
sailor returning from a voyage, with bags of gold at his back and
sticking out of his pockets.  I wondered whether I should come back in
that way; but as I did not know the value of money, there was nothing
very exciting in it to me.  There were two under which was written "The
lover's meeting."  In both cases the lady was dressed extravagantly
fine, with a bonnet and very broad ribbons; and the lover had on the
widest trousers I ever saw.  Another represented a lady watching for her
lover, whose ship was seen in the distance; and one more I remember was
a seaman cast upon the shore, with a female bending over him; while
there were several pictures of ships, some of which were on the tops of
waves running truly mountains high, and curling over in a very terrific
way indeed.  I had time to inspect all these things while my landlady
was getting my bed-room ready.  I had not dined; and when Larry, who was
rather longer than I had expected, returned, I found that he had
purchased all sorts of necessary provisions, and that they only wanted
cooking for me to eat them.  While he laid the cloth, the landlady
performed the office of cook; and in a little time a very nice dinner of
veal cutlets, ham, and fried potatoes made its appearance.  When Larry
had nothing to do but to look about him, I observed him fix his eyes in
a strange sort of way on the model of the ship, and then at the shells
and the other things in the room.  At last he turned to the landlady.

"Please, marm," said he, "where did you get all them things from?"

"Oh, sir," answered the landlady, "they were given to me by my poor dear
man, who has been dead and gone this many a long year."

"May I be bold to ask, and no offence, what is your name, marm?" said
Larry.

"My husband was an Irishman, like you, and my name is Harrigan,"
answered the landlady, who held at the moment a jug of beer, from which
she was going to pour me out a tumblerful.

"Faith, you may well say that he was like me, marm, for, curious enough,
that's my name too," answered Larry.

"Your name!" exclaimed the landlady, standing still and looking
doubtfully at him.

"Yes, my name--it is, indeed," said Larry.  "And may I ask what is your
Christian name, marm?"

"Jane is my name, and yours is Lawrence!" shrieked Mrs Harrigan,
letting fall the jug of beer, which was smashed to pieces, and rushing
towards him.

"By the pipers, you're right now; but if you're yourself--my own Jane
Harrigan, whom I thought dead and buried, or married long ago to another
man, it's the happiest day of my life that I've seen for a long time,"
cried Larry, throwing his arms round her and giving her a hug which I
thought would have squeezed all the breath out of her body.

I looked up at the pictures on the wall, and fancied he was imitating
one of the persons there represented; though, to be sure, my friends
were rather aged lovers.

"And I thought you were lost at sea long, long ago," cried Mrs
Harrigan, now sobbing in earnest.

"Faith, so I was, Jane, and it's a long time I've been being found
again," said Larry; "and how we've both come to life again is more than
I can tell."

"Oh, I never forgot you, and wouldn't listen to what any other man had
to say to me," said Mrs Harrigan.

"Nor I, faith, what the girls said to me," returned Larry.  "But for the
matter of that, my timber toe wasn't much to their liking."

"I see, Larry, you've lost your leg since I lost you, and it was that
puzzled me, or I should have known you at once--that I should," observed
Mrs Harrigan, giving him an affectionate kiss on his rough cheek.

They did not mind me at all, and went on talking away as if I was not in
the room, which was very amusing.

Larry afterwards confessed to me that he should not have recognised his
wife, for when he went to sea and left her for the last time, she was a
slim, pretty young woman; and though she was certainly not uncomely, no
one could accuse her of not having flesh enough.  Larry, as many another
sailor has done, had married at the end of a very short courtship, his
wife, then a nursery-maid in an officer's family at Portsmouth; and a
few weeks afterwards he had been pressed and sent out to the East
Indies.  While there, he had been drafted into another ship, and the
ship in which he had left home had been lost with all hands.  Of this
event his wife became acquainted, and having come from an inland county,
and not knowing how to gain further information about him, she had
returned to her parents in the country.  They died, and she went again
into service.

Meantime, Larry, having lost his leg, came home, and notwithstanding all
his inquiries, he could gain no tidings of her.  At last he came to the
conclusion that she must have married again, probably another sailor,
and gone away with him--no uncommon occurrence in those days; so he
philosophically determined to think no more about her, but to return to
the land of his birth to end his days.

She had gone through the usual vicissitudes of an unprotected female,
and at last returned to Portsmouth with a family in whose service she
acted as curse.  Here, having saved up a little money, she determined to
settle as a lodging-house keeper, and she had taken the house in which
we found her.

This event, caused me very great satisfaction, for it had occurred to me
that Larry would find himself very forlorn going back to Ireland without
me to look after, and no one to care about; and now, instead, he would
have a good wife, and a comfortable house to live in.  She also would be
the gainer, for he had saved some money when in our service; and as he
was a sober, temperate man, he would be able to assist her very much in
her business.  On my own account also I was very glad, because I should
now have many opportunities of seeing him whenever I returned to
Portsmouth.

Several days passed away after this, during which time I must say no one
could have taken better care of me than did good Mrs Harrigan; and I
felt convinced that my old friend would likewise be well looked after
during my absence.



CHAPTER THREE.

LIEUTENANT O'FLAHERTY--MY SHIP AND SHIPMATES--THE PILOT'S BOAT--RESULTS
OF DRUNKENNESS--MY FIRST COMMAND.

One day, on going with Larry, according to custom, to the "Star and
Garter" to learn tidings of the cutter, I saw a fine sailorlike-looking
man, with an intelligent and good-humoured expression of countenance,
talking to the landlady.

"There's the young gentleman himself," she exclaimed, pointing at me.

"What, my lad, are you indeed my nephew?" said the officer, kindly,
putting out his hand and pressing mine warmly.  "Faith, I needn't ask
that, though; you are the very picture of your poor mother.  Well, Neil,
the sooner you get on board and begin learning your duty, the better."

I answered that I was perfectly ready, for I at once took a great fancy
to him, and thought I should be very happy in the cutter.

He now observed Larry for the first time.

"What! old shipmate," he exclaimed, shaking him warmly by the hand, "are
you the trustworthy person Dr Driscoll told me he would send to look
after the youngster?  I'm delighted to see you again, and wish I could
give you a berth on board my craft, but I'm afraid the service won't
permit that.  You must, however, come and take a cruise with us, and
talk over old times."

"Faith, your honour, I'm not much fit for duty, I own, with my timber
toe, afloat, and I've just found a snug berth on shore, which I intend
to keep till Master D'Arcy settles down in the halls of his fathers, and
wants my services; but I'll gladly take a cruise with your honour, and
just see how he practises all I've taught him.  You'll find him in a few
days, I'll warrant, as smart a seaman as many who've been two or three
years afloat."

To make a long story short, while Larry remained on shore with his
new-found wife, I went on board the cutter; and the following day we ran
out of harbour, round by Saint Helen's, and stood down Channel in search
of a smuggling craft, of whose movements the Commander had received
notice.

I found my uncle, on further acquaintance, to be what his looks
betokened him, a thoroughly honest, hearty sailor.  His first officer
was a very old mate who had long given up all hopes of promotion in the
service.  He was married; and his wife and family lived near Portsmouth.
His name was John Hanks.  There was a second master and a clerk in
charge; so that, for a cutter, we made up an unusually large mess.  We
had no surgeon, as we could always run into harbour if any of us
required doctoring.

My uncle, who was a poor man, had taken the command of the cutter for
the sake of his wife and family; and when I came to know my sweet young
aunt, I felt, with her smiles to welcome him when he got home,
Lieutenant O'Flaherty was a happier man far than many who roll in their
easy carriages about the streets of smoky London.

Mrs O'Flaherty, with the two children she then had, lived in a pretty
little cottage near Ryde, where he was able every now and then to go and
see her.  Of course he was never wanting in an excuse, when duty would
allow him, to be off Ryde; and on one of these occasions he first
introduced me to his wife.  I loved her at once, for she was a
thoroughly genuine, graceful woman, young and pretty, with a kind, warm
heart, and a sweet expression of countenance, which her character did
not belie.  My little cousins and I also became great friends, and I
confess that I felt I would much rather stay with her than have to go to
sea and knock about in all weathers in the cutter; but duty sent us both
on board again, and it was a long time before I had another opportunity
of paying a visit to Daisy Cottage.

But I have been going ahead of my narrative.

We were standing down Channel in the _Serpent_.  Our cruising ground was
chiefly from Saint Helen's to the Start; but we were liable to be sent
elsewhere, or might go wherever our Commander had notice there was a
chance of catching a smuggler.

We had been out some days, keeping a sharp look-out off Portland Point
for a noted fellow, Myers by name, the owner of a fast lugger, the
_Kitty_, who was expected to try and run a cargo of tubs in that
neighbourhood.

The smugglers played us all sorts of tricks, and I must own we were more
than once taken in by them.  On one occasion, while it was blowing very
fresh, a cutter hailed us and told us that she had just passed over a
number of tubs, pointing out the direction where we should find them.
While we were engaged in picking them up, she made sail for the shore;
and we afterwards learned, to our mortification, that she had run a very
large cargo of contraband goods.

Thanks to Larry's instructions, as I was very handy in a boat, and
understood the duties of a midshipman tolerably well, I was, to my great
delight, soon placed in charge of one of the gigs.

A few days after the occurrence I have described, when we were about mid
Channel, we observed a vessel whose appearance was suspicious.  It had
just gone two bells, in the forenoon watch.  It was blowing pretty fresh
from the south-west, and there was a lop of a sea, but not enough to
endanger a boat.  We made sail towards the stranger, and as we neared
her we perceived that she was veering about, apparently under no
control.

"Her main-boom has gone," observed Hanks, "and there doesn't seem to be
a soul on deck; her crew have been knocked or washed overboard, I
suspect."

"I am afraid so," said the Commander.  "She looks to me like a
pilot-boat.  She was probably struck by a squall, with only a couple of
hands left in her."

"Lubberly work somehow, at all events," remarked Hanks.

In another ten minutes we were close to the pilot-boat, and the cutter
being hove-to, a boat was lowered, and Hanks and I were ordered to go in
her and see what was the matter.  When we gained the deck, we found that
the boom had knocked away part of the bulwarks and companion-hatch, and
committed other damage.  The first thing we did was to lower down the
mainsail and to secure the boom, which task, after some difficulty, we
accomplished.  We next set about searching the vessel, thinking that no
one was on board.  The main hatch was on, but there was a little cabin
aft, with a small stove in it, and six berths, in which the crew lived.
There was a table in the cabin, and on it were a couple of tumblers, a
thick-necked, square-sided glass bottle, on its side, a broken pipe, and
wet marks, and ashes of tobacco, as if people had very lately been
drinking there.

"What's wrong here?" said Hanks.  "It could not have been long ago since
some one was on board."

Our eyes soon began to get accustomed to the sombre light of the cabin,
which was darkened by the mainsail hanging over it.  I happened to stoop
down, and my eyes glanced under the table, where we had not before
looked.

"Hillo," I exclaimed, "why here are a man's legs."

"There seems to be two brace of them," said Hanks, laughing.  "Come out,
my hearties, and give an account of yourselves."

Saying this, he began to drag towards the companion-ladder one of the
men; I following his example with regard to the other.

"Why, Jim, we ain't got in yet; so let us alone, will ye," grunted out
one, as he turned on his side, without opening his eyes.

The other was too drunk to speak; indeed, had we not loosened his
neckcloth, I believe he would have died of apoplexy, for he was already
getting black in the face.  We placed them near the companion-ladder,
where they could obtain some air; and then, getting off the main hatch,
we proceeded to search the vessel.  In the hold were several casks of
French brandy, immensely strong spirit, intended to be diluted before
being sold.  From one of these the crew had evidently been helping
themselves, and not being accustomed to so potent a liquid, fancying it
of the ordinary strength, it had overcome their senses before they were
aware of what was happening to them.  We found, also, Dutch drops,
several bales of tobacco, and sundry other things, amply sufficient to
condemn the craft as a smuggler, but which also proved that it was an
unusual venture, and that the people were not adepts in the contraband
trade.  We searched the vessel throughout, but no one else was
discovered.

"Who, then, could Jim be?" we asked ourselves.

The drunken men were still too fast locked in a state of stupor to
answer.  When nothing more could be done, Hanks sent me back to the
cutter, to report proceedings, hoping to be ordered to take the prize in
himself.

When I had made my report, "Very well," said the Commander, "I wish to
try what amount of discretion you possess, Neil; so you shall take the
prize up to Portsmouth, and deliver her and the people over to the
proper authorities.  Take Thole and four hands with you.  Look out that
the prisoners do not escape, and I dare say you will do well.  I shall
be up at Portsmouth in a day or so, to take you off.  Now get on board,
and assume your command as fast as you like.  Send Mr Hanks on board
again."

A change of things was soon put up in a bundle, and I and it bundled on
board the prize.

"And so you are to go, youngster, are you?" remarked Hanks, as I got on
board.  "It's all my ill luck, for I thought to go myself; but good-bye,
youngster, and a pleasant trip to you."

Saying this, he stepped into the boat alongside, and returned to the
cutter, leaving me in possession of my new-fledged honours.  The
pilot-boat belonged to some place on the Dorsetshire coast, and had
drifted up off Saint Alban's Head, where we found her.  The Needles were
just in sight ahead, or rather the end of the Isle of Wight, off which
they extend, so it seemed an easy matter to run in; but I suspect,
without Thole I should have made some slight mistake or other, which
might have laid my charge on the rocks.  Thole showed me the proper
marks, and by keeping the two lighthouses on Hurst Point in one, we ran
in between the Needles and the shoal of the shingles.  I felt very
grand, as I walked the deck with my spy-glass under my arm, and watched
the chalk-white cliffs of Alum Bay rising high above us on the right,
and the curiously-coloured strata of sand at the eastern end of it, the
wood-covered heights of Freshwater, and the little town of Yarmouth; on
the left, the old castle of Hurst, and the long extent of the forest
shores of Hampshire, with the picturesque town of Lymington rising among
the green trees and green fields.  I had, I confess, a feeling--grand as
I had to appear--that I knew less than anybody else on board about
affairs nautical; but modesty is the frequent companion of merit, and
though I was very little, I might have been remarkably good.

By this time one of the prisoners began to come to himself, and his
astonishment was only equalled by his alarm when, on sitting up and
rubbing his eyes, he found himself surrounded by strange faces, and
discovered that the craft was running up the Solent Channel.  My uniform
at once told him the truth.

"Where's Jim?" he asked, on seeing only his drunken companion near him.

"Jim--I don't know who you mean," answered Thole.  "If it was any one
you left on deck, master, why, all I can say is, he wasn't there when we
boarded you."

On hearing this announcement, he started to his feet, instantly throwing
off all appearance of drunkenness, except that his eye was haggard and
his cheek discoloured.  He was a man of about fifty, of a stout build
and a weather-beaten, bronzed face, rather full and good-humoured,
certainly not giving one the notion that he was an habitual drunkard.
His hair was somewhat long, and dishevelled and grizzled, from exposure
to the atmosphere.

"What!  Jim not on board?" he exclaimed, rushing on deck.  "Where is my
boy--what has happened to him?"

He stood for a few seconds leaning against the companion-hatch, while
his eye scanned the condition of the vessel, and he seemed instinctively
to comprehend what had happened.

"Where is Jim?" he repeated, in a hollow voice.

"I don't know, master," answered one of our men, whom he seemed to
address.  "We only found you two below.  If there was another of you, he
must have been washed overboard while you lay drunk in the cabin."

"Drunk!" he ejaculated; "then, my son, I've murdered you."  As he
uttered these words he sprang to the side, and would have thrown himself
overboard, had not Thole, who just then came on deck, caught him by the
legs and dragged him forcibly back.  The unhappy man struggled violently
in his endeavour to perpetrate his intention.  "Jim, Jim, my son! you
gone--gone for ever; how can I go home and face your mother, my boy?" he
cried, his bosom heaving with the passion raging within.  Then he turned
frantically to us, swearing oaths too frightful to repeat.  "You've been
murdering him, some of you, you bloody-handed king's officers.  I know
you of old.  It's little you care for the life of a fellow-creature.
Where is he, I say?  I left him on deck sound and well, as fine a lad as
ever stepped.  How could he have gone overboard?  He hadn't touched a
drop; he was as sober as any one of you; but I know how it was, you
chased him and he wouldn't give in--he stood at the helm like a man; so
you, you cowardly hounds, shot him down as if he were a brute.  There's
his blood on the deck--the brave lad's blood, and you dabbling your feet
in it--you, his murderers,--and laughing at me, his father."

Thus the unhappy man went raving on, conjuring up, in his excited
imagination, scenes the most dreadful.  Of course we heeded not his
raving abuse, for we pitied him most sincerely.  There was now no doubt
that, while the father and his smuggling companion were drunk below, the
son had been knocked overboard.  In vain had the voice of the poor lad
implored aid from those whose brutal intoxication prevented them even
from hearing his death-shriek ere he sunk for ever.  It was with the
greatest difficulty we could hold the wretched man as we dragged him
below and lashed him into one of the standing bed-places.  He there
still continued raving as before, now calling on his son to come to him,
and then accusing us of his murder.  His cries and groans at last awoke
the other man out of his drunken trance, but it was some time before he
could comprehend what had happened.  He was not a father, and when at
length he came to his senses, he, with brutal indifference abused his
companion for disturbing him.  As I stood over the skylight which had
been got off to give air to the little stifling cabin, I heard him growl
out, "Jim's gone, has he? his own fault then, not to keep a better
look-out.  It's he, then, who's brought us into this scrape; and I don't
see why you should make such a jaw for what can't be helped.  There now,
old man, just belay all that, and let me finish my snooze.  We can't
hang for it, you know; there, there, now,"--and he actually turned on
his side and went off to sleep again.  At length the father of the
drowned lad wore himself out and fell off, it seemed, into a sort of
stupor.

"I never knew no good come of smuggling," observed Thole, rather
sententiously.  "What they makes they spends as fast as they gets, and
no one's the better for it."

Nobody had a better right than had he to know this, for he had been
somewhat addicted to the practice in his youth, and had in consequence
been sent on board a man-of-war.  The flood and fair wind carried us
right into Portsmouth Harbour, where I dropped my anchor and pulled on
shore to report my arrival to the custom-house authorities.  I was in
one respect sorry that my cruise was over, because I was obliged to
descend from my rank as commander to that of midshipman; but as I hoped
some day to regain it, I did not grieve much about it, especially as I
expected to be soon able to set off and pay Larry a visit.  The two
smugglers were sent to prison; one afterwards entered on board of a
man-of-war; the unhappy father died raving mad in the hospital, calling
himself the murderer of his son.

Thus ended what I may consider my first cruise.



CHAPTER FOUR.

MYERS THE SMUGGLER--I LEARN TO PLAY THE FIDDLE--SMELL GUNPOWDER--ACTION
WITH A LUGGER--LEFT IN THE LURCH.

The cutter soon after came in, and after seeing my men safe on board
her, I got leave for a day to pay a visit to Larry.  On ringing, I heard
him stumping downstairs to open the door.  When he saw me, he could
scarcely contain his delight; and forgetting etiquette and all rules and
precedents, he seized me in his arms as if I had been a baby, and almost
squeezed the breath out of my body.  Though I had not been away six
weeks, he vowed that I had grown wonderfully, and looked like a man
already.  Mrs Harrigan was equally complimentary, and I could not help
feeling myself a person of mighty importance.  I was very glad to find
that my old friend was perfectly contented with his wife, and that he
made himself very useful to her, so that there was every prospect of
their being comfortable together.  The house was full of lodgers; but
there was a little room which they insisted on my occupying.  They
themselves lived in a back parlour, where I spent the evening with them.
I slept at their house, and the next morning returned on board the
cutter.  We were ordered to keep an especial look-out for Myers, whose
lugger was reported to have run more cargoes than any free-trader among
the vast numbers engaged in the illicit traffic.  She belonged to Beere,
a small town on the Dorsetshire coast, in West Bay.  It is a pretty,
quiet little place, and consists of one long, broad street, built in the
centre of a valley reaching close down to the water's edge, with white
cliffs on either side of it.  The lugger was often seen off there; but
we could not then touch her, as she was never found with anything in her
to enable us to prove that she was engaged in smuggling.  Myers,
whenever on these occasions we paid him a visit, was always the politest
of men; and a stranger might suppose that he had a vast regard for all
king's officers, and for us especially; and yet in reality no man hated
us more cordially, or would more readily have worked us harm.

Cruising after smugglers is not the noblest work, perhaps, in which one
can be engaged; but it is necessary, not altogether unprofitable, and at
times highly exciting.  In the war time, the smugglers had large armed
vessels, which set the king's cruisers at defiance, and seldom failed to
show fight.  When I was in the _Serpent_, they were frequently armed;
but their business was to run, and they never fired unless in hopes of
knocking away the spars of a pursuer, or, at the last extremity, to
defend themselves.

I should be very ungrateful to old Hanks if I omitted to mention his
kindness to me, and the pains he took to give me instruction in my
profession.  Among other accomplishments, he taught me one of which he
was not himself a little proud.

"D'Arcy," said he one day to me, "I've a regard for you, and I'll put
you in the way, my lad, of gaining your bread, should other trades
fail."

"What is it, Hanks?"  I asked.  "I am glad to learn anything you will
teach me."

"It is to perform on the violin, my boy," he answered.  "I learned the
art for the reason I mention.  I have never yet been called upon to gain
a livelihood by it; but I do not know how soon I may be, if things don't
mend with me."

"Is it to learn the fiddle you mean?" said I.  "Faith, with all my
heart, Hanks; and the sooner I begin then, the better."

Hanks was delighted at gaining so willing a scholar, though I suspect
our shipmates would rather have had us both securely moored at the
bottom of Fiddler's Race, off Yarmouth.  Whenever duty permitted us, our
fiddles were never idle.  My performance was not very scientific,
certainly; but I learned to play, after some months' scraping, many a
merry tune, such as would make the men kick up their heels irresistibly
when they heard it.

"There, D'Arcy," said my kind instructor, at the end of the tune; "now,
my boy, whatever happens, and wherever you go, provided you can save
your arms and your fiddle, you'll be a welcome guest, and will never
want a morsel to put in your mouth."

I found his words true; and on parting, he gave me one of his two
fiddles, which he valued as much as any piece of property he
possessed.--But I am forestalling events.  We had been cruising about
for several days in search of Myers, when one morning at daybreak, we
found ourselves in the midst of a dense fog.  It was literally so thick
that one could not see from one end of the cutter to the other.  Just
the sort of weather, indeed, when, without unusual care, vessels are apt
to run into each other.  There was about wind sufficient to send us
gliding through the water at the rate of three to four knots an hour;
but the sea was perfectly smooth,--kept down, it seemed, by the very
weight of the fog.  One hand was stationed forward on the look-out, and
two others on either quarter, to guard against our being run into, or
our running into something else.  The wind was about west, and our
whereabouts was as nearly as could be half-way between Portland Bill and
Berry Head.  We were all on deck in our thick Flushing coats, for the
fog in its effects was nearly like a shower-bath in regard to wetting
us, and it hung in large drops like heavy dew on many a tarpaulin hat,
bushy whisker, and shaggy jacket; while the sails were stiff and wet as
if it had been raining hard all night.  It was not a pleasant morning,
but it might certainly have been very much worse in a hundred ways.  We
ran on for a couple of hours, with our main-boom over the larboard
quarter, the tack triced up, and the peak-halyards eased off, for we had
no reason to hurry.  It was just about striking five-bells in the
morning-watch, when, as I happened to cast my eyes ahead, I thought I
saw a dark object looming through the mist.  The look-out saw her at the
same moment.  "A sail on the starboard bow," he sung out in a low
voice--for revenue men learn to be cautious.  On hearing this, the
Commander stepped forward, and I followed him.  We could just
distinguish through the mist the three sails of a long, low lugger,
standing close-hauled to the northward.

"By Jupiter, there's the _Kitty_ at last!" exclaimed my uncle, rubbing
his hands.  "We'll have her this time, however."

There could be little doubt that if she was the _Kitty_, her people
would be keeping too bright a look-out not to have seen us; but probably
they fancied we had not observed them, for they did not alter their
course, which would have carried them clear across our bows.  For
another minute we stood on as before, thus rapidly drawing nearer the
stranger.  During this time, our guns were cast loose, loaded and
primed, ready to fire, in case she should prove to be the smuggler, and
refuse to heave-to.

"Let the mainsail jibe over; down with the tack; hoist the foresail,"
sung out the Commander in a brisk tone.  "Be smart, my lads; set the
gaff-topsail.  Stand by, to haul in the mainsheet."

These orders were issued just as the lugger was about to cross our bows;
but our helm being put down, prevented her from accomplishing this
purpose; and a shot, sent skimming along the sea ahead of her, showed
her that we were wide awake.  All hands who had time to turn their heads
in her direction, were peering at her through the fog; and the general
opinion was that she was no other than the long-sought-for _Kitty_.  To
the shot she paid not the slightest attention, hoping to forereach us,
probably, and to get away in the fog.  The chances were much in her
favour, unless we could wing her, for some little time to come; but
after that, we should get her into the bay, and then we might jam her
down into the bight, and catch her.

"Give her another shot across her fore-foot, Mr Waddilove," cried the
Commander.  "If she does not pay attention to that, fire right into her,
and we will try to knock away some of her spars."

"Ay, ay, sir," answered the gunner, right willingly, as he hurried to
perform his duty.

She did not seem to regard the second shot with more respect than the
first.  There was now no doubt that she was a smuggler, and that she
knew her to be a royal cruiser, but whether the _Kitty_ or not still
remained to be discovered.  We accordingly, without ceremony, set to
work in earnest to make her a target for our shot; but though we
believed that we hulled her several times, we could not manage to knock
away any of her rigging or spars.  Fast as we fancied the _Serpent_, the
chase, whatever she was, could, we soon found, show as fleet a pair of
heels; and this made us doubly anxious to wing her, lest, by the fog
coming down thicker, she might disappear altogether.  Not a sound was
heard from her except the sharp pat as our shot at intervals struck her;
nor did she offer other than the passive resistance of refusing to
heave-to.  At last, so faint was her outline as she glided onwards on
our starboard bow, that I could scarcely help fancying that we were
attacking a mere unsubstantial phantom.  It was only from the large size
she appeared to be, that one could judge of her nearness to us.  For
some minutes we ran on without a syllable being uttered, except the
necessary words of command for loading and firing the guns.

"Now let me see if I can hit the fellow," exclaimed Hanks, growing
impatient at our want of success; and stooping down and taking a steady
look along the gun, he fired.  A fearful shriek was the answer sent back
from the lugger's deck.  She was standing on as before, her rigging
untouched, and her hull apparently unharmed.  That sound must have been
the death-cry of some of her crew.  An almost solemn silence followed,
and then, as if slumbering hitherto, the fury of the smugglers burst
forth, and a shower of shot from great guns and musketry came flying
about us.  It was evident that she was prepared to resist to the last.
We now found that we had been under-rating her strength.  Our two other
guns were run over to the starboard side, the small-arms were got up on
deck and loaded, and cutlasses were buckled on, and all hands not
required to work the guns began blazing away with the muskets.

"How do you like the smell of gunpowder, my boy?" asked Hanks, as he was
driving down his ramrod.

"As for the smell, I can't say that I have any objection to it," I
replied, laughing; "and for the shot, they don't seem likely to do us
much harm."

"Don't be too sure of that till the guns of the enemy are silenced," he
replied.

Scarcely had he spoken, when I heard a deep groan; and oh, how my heart
turned sick within me, as I saw a poor fellow writhing in agony on the
deck.  A round-shot had torn away his chest and ribs.  He gave a few
convulsive struggles, and all was over.  It was the first time I had
ever seen death in any form, or even blood spilt, and for the moment I
felt so faint that I thought I should have fallen; but Hanks roused me
by calling for a loaded musket, and in a few moments those dreadful
sensations went off, never again to return.  Two of his messmates drew
the dead body out of the way, and then returned to their gun without
apparently taking further notice of the matter.  Our Commander was all
life and ardour, urging on the men to activity, while he kept a watchful
eye on our opponent, to take advantage of any accident which might
happen to her, or to follow any change in her course.  It is difficult
to describe the scene our decks presented.  Though our guns were light,
the men, from habit, had stripped themselves to the waist, and each one
had bound a silk handkerchief round his loins and another round his
head; their figures, even at a little distance, being obscured by the
thick fog and smoke from their guns and the small-arms.  All the guns
were over on the starboard side, and those not required to work them or
tend to the sails were either loading or taking aim over the bulwarks at
our phantom foe.  I did not dare to look at the dead body which lay near
me, and was praying that no one else might be hit, when I heard a sharp
tap, and old Thole, who was standing with his musket at his shoulder by
my side, fell to the deck.  I stooped down, shuddering, for I expected
to see such another ghastly spectacle as the other poor wretch had
presented; but he looked as calm as possible, as if nothing was the
matter with him, and I began to wonder why he had fallen.  He had not
even uttered a cry or groan.

"What is the matter, Thole; are you hit?"  I asked.

Hanks heard me speak, and seeing Thole on the deck, he knelt down by his
side and took his hand.

"There's no use, my lad, in talking to the poor fellow, for he'll never
speak another word," he said, in a calm tone, as if nothing strange or
awful had occurred; and rising quickly, he seized a musket and
recommenced firing away at the lugger with renewed earnestness.

"Come, my lads, fire away; we must put a stopper on this work as soon as
possible," he exclaimed.

"Hurrah! see, we've shot away his mizen-halyards."

I did not see it, for I could make nothing out through the fog but a
dark mass moving along on our beam.  The order had been given to keep
the helm up and to stand by the mainsheet, in expectation of the
lugger's running off the wind, when, quick almost as thought, the
mizen-halyards were spliced, and the sail was again hoisted up.

"Never mind, my lads; try and wing him again," cried my uncle.

The men answered with a cheer, and several of our shot told.  Unhappily,
two more of our people were wounded, though not badly; and as yet we
were no nearer victory than we had been at the commencement of the
fight.  I heard my uncle tell Hanks that he had some hopes that the
smugglers were not aware how deep we were running into the bay.

"I'm afraid, sir, those fellows are far too wide awake not to know
exactly where they are," answered Hanks.

"I rather am inclined to think that they have some dodge or other they
intend to practise if they can; and if we don't soon manage to stop
them, they will be wishing us good morning without our leave."

For an instant after he spoke there was a cessation of firing, and then
came a whole broadside of great guns and small-arms concentrated in one
focus, crashing among our rigging.  Several of the shot told--the head
of the mainsail was riddled, and down came our peak, the halyards shot
away in two places.  The smugglers were not long in discovering our
disaster and the advantage they had gained, and a loud derisive cheer
showed us the triumph they felt.  Without the loss of a moment, hands
were sent aloft to reeve fresh halyards; but before the peak could be
got up, the lugger had shot ahead of us, and was rapidly edging up to
windward.  Every exertion was made again to set the mainsail; but as we
were swaying up the peak, another iron shower came rattling among us.
One of the hands aloft was hit, and would have fallen on deck, had not
another caught him and helped him down the rigging.  It was the last
broadside the smuggler fired, and the next instant we saw him shoot by
our bows, and before we could get a gun over to bear on him, he
disappeared in the fog to the northward.  Once well to windward he would
have a decided advantage over us on a long stretch.  Luffing as close to
the wind as we could, we stood on for a few minutes in the hope of again
seeing him; and then we tacked, on the chance, should he also have
tacked, as he probably would do, of overhauling him on the other board.
We now more earnestly than ever wished the fog to clear away to give us
a wider view; but yet minute after minute passed away, and still it
would pertinaciously hang down over us like a thick canopy, shutting out
the surrounding world.  My uncle and Hanks, who both had seen much of
gun-shot wounds, did their best to doctor the poor fellows who had been
hit; the bodies of the two men who were killed, were placed side by side
abaft the mast, and covered up with a union jack; and we then piped to
breakfast.  I had not recovered my appetite, which the scenes I had
witnessed during the morning had taken away.  Hanks rallied me on my
sensibility.  "Why, my boy, you should get over all those sort of
feelings at a leap, or you'll never be fit for the service.  I remember
once upon a time having some of the queer sensations you talk of; but
now, whatever happens, I never let it interfere with my meals, provided
I can get the food to make them of."  Instigated by his example and
remarks, I took a little tea, and then a slice of beef and bread; and I
confess that in a few minutes I began to experience my usual
midshipman-like state of perfect health, with perhaps a little weight
about the region of the heart, as if some calamity had happened to me,
but that very soon wore off.  We were speedily on deck again, looking
out for the chase; while in the meantime the carpenter and most of the
crew were busily employed in repairing damages.  The sun as he rose
higher in the sky, was every instant gaining power, and in almost an
hour after we lost sight of the smuggler, he victoriously darted through
the mass of vapour which in thick wreaths rolled away before it, our
hitherto confined horizon every instant increasing, while the bright
beams of the luminary struck down on our blood-stained deck.  No vessel,
however, appeared in the direction we expected; but as Hanks was
glancing round the horizon, his eye fell on a sail, hull down to the
eastward.  "There she is," he exclaimed; "I should know her among a
hundred other craft.  D'Arcy, run below and tell the Commander that to
my belief the _Kitty_ is in sight down to leeward."

My uncle had gone to take his breakfast.  I descended to the cabin.  I
found him sitting with his face resting on his hands on the table.  He
did not notice my entrance.  I heard him groan deeply.

"I hope, sir, you are not ill or wounded," said I; for I thought he must
be hurt.

"No, lad, no," he answered; "but it's a sad thing to have so many of
one's men killed and hurt by a rascally smuggler.  But we must try and
catch the fellow, and then get the doctor's aid as fast as we can for
those to whom it may yet be of use.  But what do you come for?"

I made my report.  In an instant he shook off the feeling which was
oppressing him, and springing on deck, he ordered the helm to be kept up
and the mainsheet eased off till we were standing after the supposed
smuggler.  This was our best point of sailing, and probably the lugger's
worst; at all events that rig of vessel has generally the greatest
advantage on a wind.  Our square-sail, square-topsail, and every sail
the cutter could carry was now set, to overtake the chase; and the
breeze freshening as the day advanced, we bowled away at a famous rate.

"Do you think, Hanks, we have a chance of catching her?"  I asked, as
the old mate and I were intently watching her.

"As to catching her, depends upon circumstances.  If we get the strength
of the breeze before her, and she doesn't hide away in another fog; but
she has a long start, and we are out of luck this time, to my mind.
However, why is it, D'Arcy, you are so anxious to have another brush
with the chap?  I thought you had had sufficient taste of his quality."

"To punish him for killing poor Thole there," answered I, for I felt
very bitter against the smugglers for the harm they had done.

"I thought so," answered Hanks.  "It's the way with most people.  Before
a blow is struck, they are all peaceable enough; but the moment blood is
drawn, they are all as blood-thirsty as a savage."

"I hope you don't think me a blood-thirsty savage," said I.

"I wouldn't trust you, D'Arcy, my boy," he replied.  "When the blood
boils, all the ferocity of the heart bubbles up to the top, and we feel
more like wild beasts than men."

"Are we gaining on the chase, Mr Hanks, think you?" sung out my uncle
at this moment.

"A little, sir; but the sky has got so much clearer thereaway in the
last half-hour, that perhaps she only appears nearer," was the answer;
and then Hanks went aft, to walk the quarter-deck with his Commander.

There is off Portland Bill a race, or overfall of water, caused by a
shallow and rocky bottom, where the sea at times breaks so violently
that vessels have been known to be swamped, and to go down amid the
turmoil, with scarcely a possibility of any of the hapless crew
escaping.  During south-westerly gales, and with an ebb tide, the race
runs the highest; but sometimes, even in moderate weather, without any
apparent cause, there is a strange chopping and leaping of the sea,
which makes it dangerous for a small vessel to pass through.  The faint
outline of the well-known headland was now seen on our larboard bow, and
it was pretty evident that the lugger was getting her starboard tacks
aboard, to haul off round the outside of the race, if not to stand away
towards the French coast.  We, accordingly, had to alter our course
after her; but I suspected that there was no very great chance of our
being able to overtake her.  Still we stood on, our main hope being that
another cruiser might fall in with her, and turn her again towards us.
After the fog had disappeared, the sky overhead became beautifully
clear; but, as the day drew on, clouds began to gather, and by the time
I went down to dinner they were coming up pretty thick from the
south-west and south, rather an unusual circumstance after the sort of
morning we had had.  While we were discussing our meal, the cutter
heeled over, and nearly sent our scanty dinner-service away to leeward.

"Hillo, what's the matter now?"  I asked.

"Matter! why the breeze is freshening, to be sure," said old Growl, our
acting master.  "Look out for your plates, and when you go on deck it
will be time enough to learn all about it."

Old Growl was in many respects not dissimilar to Hanks.  He was of the
same age, if not older; as fond of spirits, if not fonder; and as
addicted, indeed I think more so, to grumbling.  He was not a gentleman
by birth, education, or manners; but he was kind of heart, and I liked
him very well.  I think I remarked that all the officers were very old
for their standing.  Growl's hair was white, and so was Scriven's, the
clerk in charge.  I was young enough to be the son of any of them, in
fact, and was treated almost as such.  Fortunately, my uncle did his
best to throw responsibility on my shoulders, so that, in spite of the
pains they took to spoil me, I gradually learned to think and act for
myself.  Dinner was over, for the best of reasons--that we had eaten up
all our boiled beef and potatoes, and the greater portion of our last
cheese, and I was thinking how much pleasanter it was to be sitting
there quietly, and nibbling biscuit and sipping my glass of grog, than
standing up to be shot at, as I had to do all the morning, when Hanks,
whose watch it had been on deck, came below.  His eye immediately fell
on my tumbler of grog, which was, I own, stiffer than usual; and without
saying a word, he emptied half the contents into another, and drinking
them off, filled my glass with water.  I dared not remonstrate, for I
had been transgressing his orders in taking more than the quantity he
allowed me.

"Neil, my child," he used to say, "drink is a bad thing; and it grows
upon a fellow.  If you were to take your full allowance now, by the time
you grow up you would be a drunkard, so for your sake I shall swallow
your grog; besides, you know, what is bad for a little chap like you, is
good for an old worn-out follow like me, who wants something to keep his
soul alive in his body."

I did not exactly understand his reasoning; but as, notwithstanding his
peculiarities, I was fond of my old messmate, I was well content to
yield him up part of my allowance, for the sake of keeping him alive.

"Well, Hanks, are we gaining on the chase?"  I asked.

"No, boy; but our ill-luck has gained upon us," he replied.  "The wind
has taken it into its head to veer round to the south-west, and given
the rascally lugger an advantage she doesn't deserve.  Boy, bring me
dinner."

The boy who acted as steward brought him in his portion of beef, which
had been saved, and I followed Growl, whose watch it was on deck.  The
sea had got up considerably, and the cutter was heeling over to the
rapidly increasing breeze.  An exclamation from Growl made me look
anxiously ahead for the lugger.

"Where is she?" he asked of the quartermaster, who had charge of the
deck.

"Just slipped into that bank of clouds gathering in the southward, sir,"
was the answer.

"Can any of you see her," he inquired of the people on deck.

"No, sir, no; not a sign of her," said several voices.

"Then we shan't see her again this cruise," he exclaimed.

No more we did.  We followed her, notwithstanding, for some hours, when
darkness approaching and the wind increasing, we were obliged to bear up
and run into Weymouth, where we anchored at a late hour in the night.
The next day we buried our two shipmates, and a surgeon came off to
attend to the wounded ones, whom he took on shore with him.  A gale got
up, which lasted three days, during which time we remained at anchor,
ready, as soon as it should moderate, to put to sea again in quest of
Myers.  The engagement with the smuggler made a good deal of noise, we
heard.  Some said that we ought to have taken her; others, that our
Commander was not a man to leave undone what could have been done.
However, as no one had any doubt that Myers was in command of the
lugger, a large reward was offered to whoever would give information
that might lead to his apprehension, and a still larger to the person
who should place him, bound, in the hands of justice.  One evening,
after dark, a small boat came alongside, with a single man in her.  I
was on deck.

"Is Lieutenant O'Flaherty on board?" asked the man.

I told him he was.

"Then," said the stranger, springing on board, "take this note to him,
young gentleman, and say the bearer waits to see him."

The stranger was of a strongly-built, stout figure, and had the
appearance of a rough seafaring man.  I took a paper he handed me into
the cabin.  My uncle read it attentively two or three times over, as if
puzzled to comprehend its meaning.

"I must see the rascal, and hear what he has to say," he muttered.  "But
I never like to trust a traitor.  Show the man below, D'Arcy."

I did as I was ordered.  The man bowed as he entered, and then I saw him
take a chair and seat himself, without being asked to do so.  I longed
to hear what he had to say, so I lingered in the cabin, as if waiting
for orders.  The stranger looked at me hard.

"What I have to say is for your ear, Lieutenant; so I can't speak with
another present, though he is but a little one," he remarked, in a tone
I thought remarkably impudent.

"Neil, go on deck," said my uncle.

In about half an hour the stranger appeared on deck, and without saying
a word, jumped into his boat and pulled away.  I observed that he did
not pull directly for the shore, but that he steered for a considerable
distance to the northward before attempting to land, thus not allowing
any one who might meet him to suspect that he had visited us.  The
mysterious stranger afforded considerable matter for surmise among all
on board, the general opinion being that he had brought off some
important information, which might lead to the capture of Myers or of
some of his smuggling confederates.



CHAPTER FIVE.

EXPEDITION ON SHORE--THE INFORMER'S FATE--THE SMUGGLERS CAVE--JACK
STRETCHER--THE SMUGGLER'S REVENGE--OUR DREADFUL POSITION.

The _Serpent_ was again in West Bay, just near enough to Portland Bill
to be distinguished by any one looking out for her; and she was standing
with a light breeze from the north-east, as if bound across Channel.  We
stood on till dusk, and then tacked and worked back into the bay, till
we got close in with the Dorsetshire coast.  The cutter was now hove-to,
and the boats were lowered and manned, all hands being well-armed.

"Mr Hanks," said my uncle, as he came on deck, "you will take charge of
the ship, and keep her as near as possible to where she now is: I expect
to be absent about an hour."

Hanks gave the usual "Ay, ay, sir," and then continued the duty he was
about in superintending the lowering the boats.  I seized the
opportunity, while he was waiting for the final preparations, to go up
and speak to my uncle.

"May I go, sir?"  I asked.  "If there is anything to be done, I should
like to see it."

"We shall only find hard knocks and little glory," he replied.
"However, a midshipman should see everything.  Can you spare Mr D'Arcy,
Mr Hanks?"

"Oh yes, sir, if you please," said Hanks, laughing.

I had at first felt very grand at the way my uncle spoke of me; but
there was something in Hanks' tone of voice which considerably lowered
my pride.  However, I gained my object, and jumping into the first gig
with my Commander, the order was given to shove off, and away we pulled
towards the shore.

There was no moon, but the sky was clear, and the stars overhead shone
brightly forth into the calm, silent water beneath them.  I never saw
the water smoother; and the little wind there was came off the shore,
gently sighing as it passed over the dry grass and low bushes which
fringed the edge of the cliffs above our heads.  Not a word was spoken,
and our oars were muffled, as we pulled along shore, a considerable
distance to the westward of where we left the cutter.  There were three
boats, so we all knew it was possible some considerable opposition might
be expected.

After we had pulled about three or four miles, our Commander ordered two
of the boats to remain off shore, the crews resting on their oars, till
they should see a blue light burned; they were then to give way as fast
as they could, and support us if necessary.  We then pulled slowly in,
our people being told to make as little noise as possible on beaching
the boat.

"Neil," said my uncle, "we have a chance of catching that accomplished
rascal, Myers, through the means of another rascal, who has offered to
betray him, and who is to meet us off that point yonder, and to conduct
us where Myers and his gang are to be found.  If we come to blows at any
time, just keep behind me, boy, and don't be after getting yourself
killed or hurt, or I'll never take you to see any more fun, remember
that."

It was clear, by this remark, that my uncle had not forgotten the old
country; and I promised to obey his directions.

In a few minutes the bow of the boat touched the shore, and we, by aid
of a boat-hook, jumped on the sand.  Ordering two of the men to
accompany him, and giving directions to the others to keep silence, and
on no account to quit the boat, our commander advanced towards the foot
of the cliff.  We went on some little way without meeting anybody.

"It is very extraordinary," he observed, in a low voice.  "I cannot have
mistaken the spot or the hour.  It was just here the man Langdon
appointed to meet me."  We halted for some minutes and listened
attentively, but not a sound was to be heard except the low, soft, and
musical lap of the tide as it glided by the shingly beach.  Above us was
the lofty cliff beetling over our heads, its dark outline well-defined
against the brilliant sky.

"Something, I'm afraid, is wrong," remarked my uncle; "or can the fellow
have been imposing on me?"

Having waited for some time in vain, we again advanced.  We had not gone
many paces when a figure was seen leaning against the cliffs.  The
person, apparently, from his not moving at our approach, was fast
asleep.

"That must be the fellow Langdon," said my uncle.  "Why, what can he be
about?"  On this he whistled twice, very softly, but there was no
answer.  We then hurried up to the spot where the figure was observed.
It was no optical illusion; there certainly was a person, but he took no
notice of our presence.  Our two men then went up to him, thinking to
awake him; but as they took him by the arms he slipped from their grasp,
and fell to the ground.  An exclamation of horror made us hurry up to
them.  It was a corpse we saw.  A dark spot on the forehead, from which
a stream of blood, rapidly coagulating, oozed forth.  His singed hair,
and the black marks on one side of his face, showed how the deed had
been done.  It was evident that he had been shot by a pistol placed
close to his head.

"He hasn't been dead above a quarter of an hour," observed Stretcher,
one of the men, feeling his heart.  "He is still warm, sir."

"Then his murderers cannot be far off," said my uncle.  "I'll land our
people, and we will hunt them down.  The poor wretch could scarcely
expect any other fate were he discovered."

"What--do you know the man, sir?"  I asked.  "Yes, he is the informer,
Langdon; the very man who was to have conducted us to Myers' retreat,"
was the answer.

"Here, sir, is a bit of card tied round the man's neck, and close to him
was this pistol and handkerchief," said Tomkins, who had placed the body
on the sands, bringing him the articles.

"Very well; do you take charge of those things, Tomkins, and on no
account lose them.  D'Arcy, do you go back with Sims to the boat; burn a
blue light close down to the water, shade it by the boat's side so that
it may not be seen from the cliffs above; and then, as soon as the boats
come in, order two hands to remain in each, and bring the rest up here."

"Ay, ay, sir," I replied with alacrity, for I was always proud of having
any orders given me by my uncle; and away I and Sims hurried towards the
boat.  We had not got many paces before a shout from Jack Stretcher made
us turn back, and at the same moment several men came leaping down by a
narrow path in the side of the cliff.

"Run in--they are smugglers--run in!" cried Sims, setting the example,
and shouting to our people in the boat.  It was the wisest thing he
could do to get help, for the man was no coward; but before I had time
to think whether or not I could run down to my uncle, I found myself
knocked down by one of the foremost of the new comers, with a not very
complimentary remark to midshipmen in general, and to me in particular.
What became of Sims I could not tell, for the blow on my head made me
feel inclined to keep my eyes shut.  When, after a moment or so, I
attempted to rise, I found myself seized by a couple of men.  My arms
were lashed behind me in a very uncomfortable way, and which reminded me
of the necessity of not tumbling down, if I was anxious to preserve the
regular outline of my nose; while a handkerchief was secured tightly
over my eyes.  Directly afterwards I heard a scuffle, and my uncle's
voice among that of many others; blows were struck, and two or three
pistols were fired; and then there appeared more scuffling, and all was
quiet except the suppressed murmur of apparently many voices as I was
dragged forward by the people who held me.  We went along the seashore
for some way, and then up the cliffs; and next we descended, and I was
led along what seemed a narrow path by the careful way in which my
conductors stepped.  We went over certainly more than a mile of ground,
and then we halted till other parties came up, and I was led down a
gentle declivity on a soft, sandy soil; but I no longer felt the light
cool wind blowing on my cheek, from which I conjectured we were leaving
the open air.

Scarcely a word had been spoken to me the whole of this time by any one
of the party.  I once ventured to ask my conductors where they were
going to take me; but the answer I got in a low growl--"Hold your
tongue, you young whelp!" and the click of a pistol lock--made me
unwilling to enter on another question.  I was more seriously alarmed
about my uncle.  For myself I feared nothing, as I did not think that
the smugglers would hurt a young boy like me; but from the manner of
their proceeding, and the few words they let fall of concentrated hate
and anger, I was afraid that, supposing they were the crew of the
_Kitty_, they might wreck their vengeance on his head and murder him.  I
had become deeply attached to him.  I felt miserable at the thought of
his danger, and I earnestly, though silently, prayed for his
preservation.  After we had gone a little way, I was almost convinced,
from the damp, stagnant feel of the atmosphere, that we were in a cavern
or a large vault of some sort or other.  I was confirmed in this opinion
by hearing a voice before me say, "Stoop down your head or you will hit
the rock."

I thought he addressed me, so I bent down as if I were passing under a
very low archway, when my conductors laughed, and one observed to the
other, "The youngster thinks himself a giant; howsomever, he won't ever
be much bigger than he now is, will he, Jim?"

"No; he's nibbled his last biscuit," growled out his companion.  "Come,
heave ahead, master."

On hearing these last observations I had stopped, scarcely able to make
my feet move on; for I thought the villains were going to treat me as
they had treated the poor wretch we had just found, for I had no doubt
they were his murderers.  They again urged me forward, and I presently
found myself in a place surrounded by a number of people--at least so I
judged by the suppressed hum of voices which I heard.

"Cast off the handkerchiefs from the prisoners' eyes," said a voice in
an authoritative tone.

I felt a fellow fumbling at the handkerchief round my head; but
pretending, I suspect, that he could not undo it, he forced it down over
my face, to the considerable damage of my nose, and then, giving his
knuckles a turn with the dexterity of a Thug, very nearly throttled me.
When I had somewhat recovered, and the stars had done flying about
before my eyes, I perceived that I was in a large cave, standing at the
foot of a rude table, at the further end of which sat a
powerfully-built, bold-looking man, dressed in a nautical costume, while
a number of other men, mostly seamen, sat on either side of him.

I looked anxiously round for my uncle, and my mind was much relieved to
see him standing, unhurt apparently, a few paces from me.  However, my
satisfaction was much mitigated when, being able to distinguish objects
more clearly, I perceived that there were two men standing on either
side of him, with pistols in their hands; and it instantly occurred to
me that they were there to act the part of executioners, and to blow his
brains out, at the command of the ruffian I saw sitting as judge in this
lawless court.  We recognised each other at the same moment; and if I
could judge by the expression of his countenance, he had more compassion
for me than fear for himself.  He made no attempt to speak to me, but
instantly resumed his former undaunted attitude, with his arms folded on
his bosom, and his eye resting on the leader of the smugglers.

But there was another object which was, indeed, well calculated to fill
me with horror.  It was the corpse of the murdered man, stretched out on
some rough planks, resting on four casks placed on end; the face
uncovered and bloody; the eyes staring wide open, for no one had taken
the trouble to close them; and the features distorted by the wound or,
perhaps, by fear of the fate which he saw prepared for him when his
murderers appeared.  The corpse was close to me, and I could not keep my
eyes from it, dreadful as it was.  It seemed to possess a terrible
fascination; and every time I turned my eyes away, it attracted them
back again; so that, wild and remarkable as was the whole scene, that
horrible object is to this day the most prominent to my mental vision,
and all the rest is but an indistinct background to the picture.

I found that Jack Stretcher was close to me, on my left side, also in
custody of two smugglers.  The cave itself was a complete storehouse of
goods of every description.  There were arms--swords, pistols, and
muskets; and bales of silks, boxes of laces and ribbons, and casks of
spirits: indeed, everything with a high duty on it was here collected,
ready to be sent up to London or through the country, to the _highly
respectable_ shops which dealt in such things.  I had not time, however,
to make many observations, when the fierce ruffian at the head of the
table commenced the proceedings by inquiring who we were and what was
our object in coming on shore that night.

"You know perfectly well who we are, and with regard to our object on
shore, you certainly are not qualified to question me," answered my
uncle, with a firm voice.

"Then I must answer for you," replied the smuggler.  "You came,
instigated by a wretch whose body lies there, under the hopes of taking
me and my men in our nest.  He has received his reward.  The very moment
he was thinking he had got us secure, a pistol bullet went through his
head.  What do you think you deserve?"

My uncle did not answer.

"Speak, and answer me!" exclaimed the ruffian, levelling a pistol at
him.

I tried to spring forward to throw myself before him, but the smugglers
held me back, though the action, instead of making them angry, seemed to
gain we more respect from them, as they held me less rudely than before,
and no longer amused themselves by twisting the handkerchief, Thug
fashion, round my gullet.

My uncle looked calmly at the smuggler and answered, "I came on shore in
pursuit of my lawful duty, to apprehend you, or any others, breaking the
revenue laws.  Further than that, I have no feeling of ill-will against
you, or any of those connected with you."

"Very fine talking, Mr Lieutenant; but that won't do here.  You came to
injure us; there's no doubt about that, from what you own yourself; and
you must take the consequences."

"You will suffer for it, if you injure me or any of my people!"
exclaimed my uncle, indignantly.

"We don't want to hurt any of your people; but you and that young cub of
an officer must be prepared to die this very night.  Your man there we
don't intend to hurt; and he may, if he likes, join us, which he
probably will be glad enough to do; if not, we carry him away over the
water, far enough from this."

"No, that I won't, you cold-hearted scoundrels, you!" exclaimed Jack
Stretcher, vehemently.  "My Commander there, I tell you, is a truer and
braver man than any one of you; and you to think of murdering him
because he is doing his duty, and that young innocent boy, his nephew--a
mere baby to any of you,--it just shows what a white-livered crew you
smugglers are; but, howsomdever, if you'll let them go without harm, you
may make a shot fast to my feet and heave me over the cliffs outside
here, or do what you like with me; you can but kill me, and I don't fear
you--so heave ahead, my hearties."

This address of Jack Stretcher created some considerable sensation among
the smugglers; but their chief seemed immovable.  What surprised me most
was, that they were not in the slightest degree enraged at the abuse
showered so liberally on their heads; but, on the contrary, they
infinitely admired him for his fearlessness and fidelity to his
superior.

"What you say, my man, can't be done; those two die, for conspiring with
a traitor to betray us.  We shall keep you shut up for some time, and
then carry you over to America, perhaps, or some distant part; but we
shan't take your life; so now you know what you have to expect.  Take
those two off, and heave them over High-Peak Cliff.  Be sharp about it,
now."

Before my uncle could speak a word or attempt to free himself, he was
dragged back and pinioned, and I was treated in the same way; our eyes
were tightly bandaged, as before; and we were forced out of the cavern
by a large body of the smugglers.

"Never fear, sir," shouted Stretcher.  "They'll hang for it yet, and I
shall live to see you revenged."

Extraordinary as it may appear, I had no particular dread of the fate
which was awaiting me.  Perhaps it was a presentiment that I should
escape.  I cannot now explain the cause of the feeling; indeed, at the
time, I could not probably have done so.  I thought much more of my
brave uncle being thus brought to an untimely end, and of the grief of
my sweet young aunt at Ryde, when she should hear of his barbarous
murder.  The atrocity of the deed was increased by the cold-blooded
manner in which the wretches proceeded, by dragging us to their
pretended court, and then condemning us, with scarcely even the mockery
of a trial.  Indeed the affair seemed so unusual, that I could hardly
believe in the reality.  My most absorbing feeling was bitter
indignation, and a burning desire to break from my guards, and to rescue
my uncle.  However, as I wriggled about helplessly in their grasp, I
must own that I was very like an unhappy cockchafer stuck through with a
pin by a cruel schoolboy, without the remotest chance of escaping.  My
uncle was dragged away first, and I followed him closely, as I judged by
the voices of the villains who had him in charge.  What became of
Stretcher I could not learn, though I supposed that he was detained in
the cavern.  Even now, I could scarcely have believed that the smugglers
were going really to put their threat into execution, had it not been
for their acknowledgment of the murder they had committed, and the
perfect confidence with which they exhibited their cavern, and the
smuggled goods it contained; for, though taken blindfold to the place,
we could, of course, have little difficulty in finding it again; and
they must have been well aware that, if we escaped, we should do our
best to discover them and bring them to justice.  They appeared to me to
be dragging us for a very long distance.  We went up and down hill, and
along the seashore, and then we again mounted, it seemed, to the top of
the cliffs, and went over several miles of ground.  I thought we should
never get to High-Peak Cliff.  I cannot say that I was in any hurry to
get there, which is not surprising, considering the pleasant prospect
which I had before me.  At length we ascended a considerable height, it
seemed; and I concluded, from what I heard some of the smugglers remark,
that we had reached the place of the intended murder.  I shuddered as I
felt that I was standing at the edge of the precipice from which I was
in a few minutes to be hurled; a cold perspiration burst out over me,
and I felt an awful horror, such as I had never before experienced.  I
was aware that any instant, without a moment's preparation, a shove
might send me rolling over and over down to the rocks below, where I
must instantly be dashed to pieces, as I judged that I was standing
close to the very edge of the precipice; and I even fancied that I could
hear the sound of the water breaking on the sands, many hundred feet
beneath, borne upward on the calm night air.  Still, there I stood, as
yet unharmed, and I found the delay was caused by some of the party,
whose voices I could hear at a little distance, holding a consultation
in a whisper.  I was hoping that they, more merciful than their leader,
were proposing not to execute his directions, when I was undeceived by
their return.  One of them then addressed us.

"We give you and the youngster, Lieutenant, three minutes more to
prepare for death," said the villain, in a diabolically cold tone;
"after that, we intend to hang you over the cliff by your hands, and
when you can't gripe on any longer, you may let go.  Just understand,
now, we do this in mercy to you, that you may not say we sent you out of
the world without warning.  Youngster, you hear what is said, so just
make ready, for you haven't many moments of life in you."

To appeal to the mercy of the wretches was, I knew, hopeless; so I did
my best to prepare for the fate awaiting me.

"The time's up," said a voice, and I found myself urged back a few
paces, and my feet lifted over the edge of the cliff.  It is impossible
to describe my sensations of horror at this moment.  I was then lowered
down, every instant expecting to be let drop, till I found my hands
clutching the grass, and my nails digging into the uncertain soil which
fringed it.  I judged that my uncle had been treated in the same way,
from what the smugglers said.  They then left us, satisfied that we
could not release ourselves.  Bad as they were, perhaps they did not
wish to witness our death, though I could hear their mocking laughter as
they quitted the spot.  I was light, and I held on for dear life.

"Uncle, are you there?"  I exclaimed.

"Yes, Neil, I am," he answered; "but I am afraid of using any exertion
to lift myself up, lest the earth should give way.  You are light,
though; so try to drag yourself slowly up by your arms, then get your
elbows on the turf, and tear the bandage from your eyes, and come to my
assistance."

"Oh, I cannot, uncle, I cannot!"  I cried, in an agony of fear; for I
found it impossible to move without almost a certainty of missing my
hold altogether.  Again I tried all I could to lift myself up, but it
would not do.  I shouted at the top of my voice.  Every instant my
strength was failing me.

"I must let go, uncle, indeed I must," I exclaimed.  "Good-bye, uncle."

"So must I, my boy," he answered.  "Good-bye, if we do not succeed; but
make a final effort, and spring up.  So now--"

I tried to spring up, and so did he, I conclude.  Alas! the earth
crumbled beneath his hands; a deep groan escaped his bosom--not for
himself, but for his wife and children, and all he held dear in the
world.  He could hold on no longer.  I also failed in my attempt to
spring up.  Down I went; but what was my surprise, instead of being
dashed to pieces, to find that I had reached a bottom of some sort,
rather splashy certainly, only a few feet below where I had been
hanging.  An exclamation at the same moment from my uncle reached my
ears.  I tore off the bandage from my eyes, and looking round, I saw him
but a short distance from me, and discovered that we were at the bottom
of a chalk-pit, with all our limbs safe and sound, instead of being both
of us mangled corpses at the foot of High-Peak Cliff.  Our position was
not dignified; and certainly, though it was much less romantic and full
of horror than it would have been had the catastrophe we expected really
occurred, and had we figured in the newspapers as the subjects of a
dreadful accident, it was, I must own, far more agreeable to my
feelings.

"Uncle," I sung out, "are you hurt?"

"No, Neil, my boy; but rather wet, from a puddle I've fallen into," he
answered.  "So those confounded rascals have been playing us a trick all
the time.  However, it's better thus than we expected, and it proves
that they are not as bad as we thought them."

"So I was thinking," I replied, moving up to him.  "But, I say, uncle,
how are we to get out of this?"

He was sitting down on a ledge of the chalk rock, endeavouring to
recover from the shock which his nervous system had received.

"Why, as I have not a notion where we are, we had better wait till
daylight, or we shall run a great chance of going over the cliffs in
reality," said he.  "The sun will rise in little more than an hour
hence, I hope, and then we shall be able to ascertain whereabouts we
are."

In accordance with his advice, I sat myself down by his side, and
remained silent for some time, while I watched the stars glittering
overhead.  At length I remarked, "It is very odd, uncle, that Myers did
not murder us, as he did the poor wretch we found under the cliff."

"I fully expected he would; but, after all, there are several reasons
against such an act," he answered.

"He put the spy to death, both for the sake of vengeance and that he
might not betray any more of his secrets, or show us the smugglers'
hides.  Myers, however, knew that if he murdered a king's officer, the
Government authorities would not rest till they had brought him to
punishment.  There is also a wild notion of justice among these outlaws;
and as they know we are but doing our duty in pursuing them, they have
not the same bitter feeling towards us as they have towards any of their
companions who turn traitors.  Myers, perhaps, might have wished to
secure a friend, in case of need.  The fellows who had charge of us,
however, could not resist the temptation of playing us a trick, and
trying to frighten us out of our wits.  Some years ago, also, Myers was
in my custody, and I treated him, as I should any fellow-creature, with
some kindness and consideration.  I spoke to him seriously, and
endeavoured to win him from his evil courses.  I did not consider myself
either as his judge or executioner.  Perhaps, therefore, gratitude may
have induced him to spare our lives."

"I have no doubt of it," said I.  "I have to thank you, therefore,
uncle, for my life."

"I don't suppose they would have hurt you, Neil, had you been alone," he
observed, laughing.

"Do you think that we shall be able to discover the cavern?"  I asked.

"I fear not," he replied.  "Even if we did, it would be emptied of its
contents.  Depend on it, the smugglers were prepared to carry off
everything into the interior, and all the valuable goods are by this
time a long way on their road to London.  At all events, whatever were
the motives of the smugglers, let us offer our thanks to God for the
preservation of our lives, for they have been in great peril."

We knelt and prayed.  I hope I did so sincerely.  What other remarks he
made I do not remember, for I soon after this felt very drowsy, and
quickly fell asleep.  I dreamed all the time that I was tumbling head
over heels down precipices, but never reached the ground.  So I shall
end this chapter at the bottom of a chalk-pit.



CHAPTER SIX.

WE GET OUT OF THE PIT--JACK STRETCHER'S ADVENTURE--SEARCH FOR MYERS--
HANKS' ADVICE--LOSE OUR SHIP IN A FOG--MINUTE-GUNS HEARD.

I was awoke by my uncle, and looking up, I saw that the stars had grown
dim, and that the rosy dawn was rapidly spreading over the sky.  When
there was sufficient light to enable us to see distinctly, we discovered
that we were in an unusually large and deep chalk-pit.  We had, however,
but little difficulty in climbing out of it, and in reaching the top of
the down in which it was situated.  What was our surprise, on looking
seaward, to discover the cutter riding at anchor below us, and the boats
just going off to her!  We therefore went to the most conspicuous
height, and waved our caps and handkerchiefs, in the hopes that some one
might by chance be on the look-out with a telescope, and perceive us.
We waited for some time, and were just giving up the case in despair,
when one of the boats put off from the cutter, and pulled directly for
the beach, above which we were standing; so we hurried down by a rough
zigzag path cut in the cliff, and were ready on the shore to receive her
when she pulled in.  Who should we see in the boat but Stretcher, whom
we fancied all the time held in durance vile by the smugglers.  The
honest fellow's satisfaction at seeing us was even greater than our
surprise; for he had fully believed that we had been murdered, and had
reported our death on board.  The boat's crew gave three cheers as they
ran up on the beach; and in their delight they almost lifted my uncle
and me into the boat.  We were not long in getting on board again, when
the cheers were repeated by all hands; and I must do honest old Hanks
the justice to say, that, though he had doubtless begun to indulge in
dreams of getting his promotion and the death vacancy, his pleasure was
as genuine as that of the rest.  He had, we found, been already
arranging a plan to search for us, and to discover and capture the
smugglers.  The latter part of it, our Commander determined forthwith to
execute.  Before we went to breakfast, Stretcher was sent for to make
his report--a proceeding of which I did not approve, for I was very
sharp-set; but midshipmen's appetites are seldom much thought of on such
occasions.  Jack soon made his appearance, with his hat in one hand,
while he smoothed down his hair most pertinaciously with the other.

"Well, Stretcher, my man; I wish to know how you managed to escape so
well out of the fangs of those rascals," said my uncle.

"Why, your honour," he answered, "I scarcely know how it all happened
myself, for after the blackguards dragged off you and Mr D'Arcy, I was
in such a taking, thinking that they were going to heave you over the
cliff, that I didn't seem to know where I was or what I was doing.  At
last they made the handkerchief fast round my eyes again, so that I
couldn't see a wink; and they began to haul me along, till I found that
I was out of the cave and in the open air.  On I went, up and down hill,
some way inland, it seemed; and then back again through a chine down to
the seashore.  After a bit they led me up hill, and making me sit down
on a rock, they told me that if I stirred an inch before daylight, I
should meet with the same fate my master had done.

"`How am I to tell when daylight comes, you lubbers, if you leave me
with my eyes blinded,' said I.

"No one answered, but I fancied I heard some one laugh close to me.
They then lashed my arms behind me, so that I could not cast off the
bandage from my eyes.

"`So you are not going to carry me to foreign parts,' said I, for I
thought, as they didn't mind killing my officer, they would think
nothing of sending me over the cliffs also.

"`We've changed our minds,' said they, `and can't be troubled with you;
so ask no questions.'

"I didn't like the answer at all, for I made sure they was going to do
away with me somehow; but, as I couldn't help myself, I was not going to
show them what a funk I was in; so I pretended to whistle, quite happy
like.  I had been whistling away some time, when I thought I heard their
footsteps moving off; and so it proved; for when I next sung out to
them, no one answered.  I called them all manner of names, and
blackguarded them like fun; but it didn't make them angry, because, you
see, there was no one there to hear me.  At last, when I'd grown hoarse
with hallooing after them, I thought I might as well go to sleep a bit,
seeing as how I couldn't manage to move, or to cast off the lashings
round my arms.  How long I slept I don't know; but I was woke up by
hearing some one hail me, and I soon knew that they were some of the
cutter's people.  When they got up to me, and cast off the handkerchief
from my eyes, then I found I had been sitting not ten feet above the
beach, and directly opposite where the cutter is brought up.  That, your
honour, is all I know about it; but who the people are who played us the
trick, or whereabouts the cave is, is more than I can say."

"Do not you think that we might manage to discover the cave, though?"
asked the Commander.

"No, sir, certainly not," answered Stretcher, positively.  "It may be
close to us, or it may be five miles off.  To my mind, it's some very
clever hide; and those who took us there knew very well we should never
find it again."

"We must see about that," observed my uncle.  "By-the-bye, Stretcher, I
gave you some things to take charge of; where are they?"

"Here, sir; they never overhauled my pockets, which shows that they have
some manners, at all events," said Jack, producing a pistol, a
handkerchief, and a card.  My uncle took the card, and on it were
written the words, "This is the way we punish informers and traitors."

"Perhaps, sir, you don't know who the man was who took the lead of the
rest in the cave," said Stretcher.

"Who was he?" asked the Commander.

"No other than Bill Myers himself," answered Jack.  I knew him directly,
and several of those with him; but I thought it better to keep a silent
tongue in my head, so they didn't suspect me.  To my mind, Myers
murdered the man as a warning to others not to attempt to play a like
trick upon him.  From what I happened to hear, I suspect the lugger has
run her cargo, and is by this time off again; for I am certain some of
the people we saw belonged to her, and they wouldn't be likely to stay
in this place after the work which has been done.

Nothing more of importance being elicited from Jack, he was dismissed;
and my uncle arranged with Hanks that all the boats should visit the
shore, and that a strict search should be made to discover the cave;
while we should communicate with the authorities, and state what had
occurred.  The mist of the morning having cleared off, a look-out was
kept at the masthead for the lugger, should she be in sight, but not a
sign of her appeared; and as soon as breakfast was over, a large party
of officers and seamen went on shore to hunt for the cave.  My uncle,
Stretcher, and I, meantime, went off to the nearest magistrate, to make
our depositions.  Mr Gibson, the magistrate, received us very politely,
and expressed his anxiety to sift the affair to the bottom, and to bring
the offenders to justice.  He took charge of the things we had found;
and while he entertained us at luncheon, he sent about to make inquiries
on the subject.  The man, whose corpse we believed we had seen, was
found to be missing, and we learned that he was well-known to be
connected with the smugglers; but of the cave, and the cargo which we
suspected to have been run, no one could, or rather would, afford any
information.  When, however, it was known that murder had been
committed, several persons, who had no objection to assist in simple
smuggling, but had a prejudice against murdering people, came
voluntarily forward to state all they knew and suspected about the
matter.  By several, Myers had been seen on shore during the previous
day; and, what is extraordinary, one of the witnesses, an
alehouse-keeper, swore that he had seen him use the very handkerchief we
had found to sweep the crumbs off a table at which he had been eating
bread and cheese, in order to have it clean for writing.  He had also
given him a letter to post, which he had forgotten to do.  The
handwriting was exactly like that on the card.  Another witness said
that he knew Myers by sight perfectly; that later in the day, as he was
taking a cut across some fields near the cliffs, he had seen him seated
under a tree, and that he was either loading or cleaning a pistol of the
size and shape of the one now produced.  Indeed there was ample
circumstantial evidence to enable Mr Gibson to issue a warrant for the
apprehension of Myers on a charge of murder, whenever and wherever he
could be found.  A reward was afterwards offered to whoever should
capture him.  It is very extraordinary that the cave could not be
discovered, nor could we gain any information about the goods which had
been seen.  Of Myers himself no tidings could be obtained.  There was no
doubt that he had committed the murder, and he must have been aware that
many of his old friends might be tempted by the prospect of the reward
to deliver him up, should he venture again among them.  The general
opinion was, therefore, that we should hear nothing more of him.  We,
however, continued cruising in search of his lugger; but, though we
chased at different times several craft which we thought might be his,
we never got them within range of our guns.  We, however, captured
several other smuggling vessels, and made prize of a considerable number
of tubs.  The latter we picked up, either floating out at sea, or we got
them by groping after they had been sunk.  Smuggling vessels carry a
considerable portion of their cargo lashed along outside, just above the
water.  When hard pressed these are cut away, and the rest are thrown
overboard, so that when overhauled, nothing contraband may be found on
board.  When within a short distance of land, so that marks on the shore
can be seen, weights are attached to the tubs, which are all fastened
together; and the marks being observed, so that the spot should be known
again, they are sunk.  Sometimes we saw them being hove overboard and
sunk; and then, of course, we did our best to get them again.  We at
length took a longer cruise than usual, and were for some time knocking
about in the longitude of Plymouth, and that turbulent portion of the
aqueous world--the Chops of the Channel.  There was a light wind and a
smooth sea, and we were dodging along under easy sail, being in no hurry
to get anywhere.  I was walking the deck with Hanks, talking on matters
doubtless very erudite and abstruse; but I now forget what they were.
Scriven was casting up his accounts--literally, not metaphorically, be
it understood; Growl was endeavouring to forget his cares, with eyes
fast closed, on two chairs in the gun-room; and our Commander was below,
reading.

"D'Arcy, I have taken a fancy to you, and I want to give you some good
advice," remarked my companion, after some time.  "Just remember what I
say, and it will be useful to you in elbowing your way, as you must,
through this crowded world.  First, then, keep that potato-trap of yours
shut, except when you want to catch potatoes in it; and your eyes and
ears open on all occasions.  There is little harm in knowing a thing,
but there is a very great deal in repeating it; and much harm often in
letting others be aware that you do know it.  Then, my boy, always
remember to look before you leap, and not to let go one rope before you
have a firm gripe of another.  You pretty boys from green Erin's Isle
are too apt to do things in a hurry--to knock a fellow down, and then to
ask his pardon, on finding that he wasn't the man you intended to floor;
like the Irish soldier officer who declared that anchovies grew on the
walls of Gibraltar, and when he had shot his friend for doubting his
statement, recollected that it was capers he meant."

I laughed at Hanks' old story, though it was a hit against my
countrymen; for I have always found it far better to laugh off anything
said against one's self, than to put on the dignities and to look grand.
Laughter and good humour are like polished shields, which make the
shafts of satire glance off on either side; but sulkiness and dignity
are sure to bring them thick around them.

Our conversation was interrupted by the cry of "A sail on the weather
bow!"  The wind was about south-east, and the cutter's head was up
Channel.  I went to report her to the Commander, who immediately came on
deck, and, looking at her attentively through his glass, ordered a boat
to be lowered.  He then returned below, and brought up a package.

"Mr D'Arcy," said he--and I felt very grand to be so called,--"take
this parcel on board yonder ship.  I think I know her.  If she is bound
to ---, leave it with the master, to be delivered immediately on his
arrival; if not, bring it back."  I forget now the name of the place he
mentioned.

"Ay, ay, sir," I answered; and jumping into the boat, shoved off.  Jack
Stretcher, who, in consequence of his behaviour with the smugglers, had
gained the estimation of all on board, was with me in the boat.  Away we
pulled towards the ship with rapid strokes, for we knew that the faster
we pulled the less distance we should have to go.  We were about
half-way between the cutter and the ship, when a bank of mist came
rolling slowly along from the southern horizon, the opposite extremities
seeming to close in, till a circle was formed around us, still, however,
having the cutter and the ship within its confines.  On we rowed, the
circle growing smaller and smaller, till, by the time we reached the
ship, our own vessel was completely shrouded from view.  As I knew
exactly where she was, that did not trouble me.  The ship proved to be
the one I was sent to board--the _Ajax_, I think, was her name.

I delivered my despatches.  The master asked me down into the cabin to
take a glass of wine, which it would have been against the principles of
a midshipman to refuse.  I took two or three, and ate some cold chicken
and ham into the bargain.  There were, I remember, a number of
passengers, who were very civil, and some gave me letters to take on
shore; indeed it is just possible that one of the reasons why I was so
hospitably entertained was that time might be obtained to finish and
close the said letters.  At last the package of farewells, last words,
and before-forgotten directions, being ready, I tumbled with it into the
boat, and shoved off to return to the cutter.

I calculated that she bore about north-north-west from the ship; and not
having a compass, the last thing I did was to take a careful glance at
the one on board.  I then pulled away, thinking that I should not lose
sight of the merchantman before we got hold of our own craft.  In about
ten minutes I found that I was not a little mistaken.  I had told
Stretcher, who was pulling stroke-oar, to keep his eye on the ship,
while I, meantime, was looking out for the cutter.  Every moment I
expected to see her; but, as we advanced, the fog appeared to rise up
with redoubled thickness around us; and my difficulty was still further
increased when Jack Stretcher exclaimed--

"I can't see the ship nowhere, sir!  She was there not a moment ago, and
just as I passed my hand over my brow, she was gone."

"Well, we must pull on," I exclaimed.  "If we keep the breeze on the
starboard quarter, we cannot be far wrong."

However, not many minutes afterwards, the wind, true to its proverbial
character of fickleness, died away, and we were left without any guide
by which to steer our course across the trackless deep.  Still we pulled
on, I fancied, in the direction of the coast.  We should have been wise
had we laid on our oars, and gone to sleep.  As I could not see ahead, I
steered by the wake astern, and was under the impression that I was
keeping a wonderfully straight line.  How long we had gone on I can
scarcely tell, when we heard the sound of a gun booming along the water;
but, instead of coming from the direction in which we were steering, it
seemed to be astern of us.  Still we thought it must be the cutter
firing.  The men even declared that they knew the sound of the gun.  The
probability was, certainly, that it was her gun, as she would be sure to
fire to show her whereabouts to us; and it was not likely that any other
vessel near us would be firing for a similar purpose.  Although I was
very confident, from the straight wake I fancied I had kept, that Jack
was mistaken, and that the sound of the gun had come from some other
vessel, yet I yielded to his opinion, and pulled in the direction whence
we thought it proceeded.  We had not made good a quarter of a mile when
we again heard the sound; but still, to our surprise and vexation, it
was indubitably right astern.

"That gun's from the cutter, sir," said Jack; "but I can't make it out
how it comes from away there."

No more could I; but determined this time, at all events, not to miss
our vessel, we pulled away directly towards the spot whence we were
certain the sound proceeded.

"Give way, my lads, we shall soon be up with her," I shouted; and the
crew sent the boat flying through the smooth water.  I kept looking out
on either bow for the cutter, expecting every instant to see her looming
through the fog; when, for the third time, a gun was heard, but in spite
of all our hopes and expectations, and almost against our belief, it
also sounded right astern, and further away than any of the others.  I
was ready to cry with vexation.  It seemed like the work of magic, and
as if a set of mischievous imps or spirits, like those on Prospero's
island, were employed in trying our tempers and patience.  There seemed
no use in going on thus, to be constantly baulked; so I ordered the men
to lay on their oars, resolved to wait either till the mist cleared off,
or till we could devise some better means of finding our way to the
shore than we now possessed.  Thus for an hour or more we floated
listlessly on the water.



CHAPTER SEVEN.

FALL IN WITH A WRECK--DREADFUL SCENE ON BOARD--MR. MARLOW AND HIS
DAUGHTER--ALICE MARLOW'S ACCOUNT OF THE VOYAGE--BRING THE SHIP INTO
HARBOUR.

"Hillo! where does that come from?"  I exclaimed, as the low deep boom
of a gun came rolling over the calm water.

Another and another report followed, and then, as if affected by the
concussion, the mist on a sudden lifted a few feet from the surface, and
revealed, about three miles off, the hull of a large ship on which the
rays of the now setting sun glittered brightly for an instant, ere she
sank beneath the wave.  It was sufficient to show us our position, and
we might easily have found our way towards the shore; but, as I was
about putting the boat's head in that direction, Jack observed--

"There's something wrong with that ship yonder, sir, or she wouldn't be
firing in the way she does."

I listened attentively.  There could be no doubt--those were
minute-guns, the well-known signal of distress at sea.  We could do but
little good, probably; but what good we could do I determined to
attempt.  My men needed no encouragement.  The fact that
fellow-creatures wanted help was sufficient to nerve their arms.  Had an
enemy been in sight, and had there been heads to be cracked, it would
have been much the same.  Round spun the boat, and away they pulled as
hard as they could lay their backs to the oars.  The breeze which had
cleared off the mist, had likewise got up the sea a little, and the
spray flew over our bows as we dashed through the dancing waves.  Away
we went; the big sea-serpent could not have beaten us.  Every minute the
low, dull sound of the gun reached our ears, growing louder and louder
as we drew nearer the ship.  Her distress was evidently great.  From the
somewhat irregular way the gun was fired, and from its tone, Jack
pronounced the ship to be a merchantman, as he remarked that minute-guns
from a man-of-war would have been far louder and more regular.  The
mist, fortunately, did not again settle down thickly over the ship, so
that, although twilight was coming on, we could still distinguish her
whereabouts.  As we drew near, we saw that she was of considerable size,
and that all her masts had gone by the board.  We were evidently not
perceived, even though we had got close up to her, for she continued
firing as before.

"Now, my lads, we'll let the poor fellows know that we are at hand to
help them," I exclaimed; and on this my men joined me in raising a right
hearty cheer, which must have given the people on board no unpleasing
notice of our approach.  There was a pause, as if they were recovering
from their surprise; and then it was answered by a shout so feeble, that
it sounded more like the sighing of the wind among the crumbling walls
of some old building, than a cheer of welcome.  It was now too dark to
distinguish any one, but I fancied that I saw the heads of several
people over the taffrail, as if eagerly watching us.  We were soon
alongside, when some one attempted to heave us a rope, but it fell short
of the boat.  We, however, hooked on to the main-chains, and, followed
by Jack, I was not long in scrambling on board.  A seaman stood there,
holding a ship's lantern, which shed a feeble light around, where all
was wreck and confusion; and it besides exhibited more strongly his own
countenance, which looked haggard and emaciated in the extreme.  The
greater part of the bulwarks, the spare spars, the caboose, and the
boats had been carried away,--indeed, the sea must have made a clean
sweep over her; and it seemed not a little surprising, from the
appearance of the deck, that any human beings should have remained, and
that the ship herself should have escaped foundering.  Besides the man
who held the lantern, three equally wretched-looking beings came to meet
us.  I observed that some others were lying on the deck, round one of
the chain-pumps, as if they had sunk down with fatigue; while two more
were stretched out alongside the only remaining gun, the report of which
we had heard.  I thought to myself, Can those poor fellows be dead? but
I dared not ask the question.

"You seem in a bad plight," I observed, as I looked round.

"Bad enough," answered one of the seaman; "and if you don't bear a hand,
we shall have the ship sinking under us."

"We'll do our best for you; but how can our boat carry all your ship's
company?"  I asked, for I thought I saw other people moving aft, and
fancied that some must be below.

"Oh, she'll carry all of us that's alive," returned the same
rough-spoken seaman.  "But, sir," he continued, "we have two aboard here
whom we must get out of harm's way before we look after ourselves."

"Where are they?"  I asked.

"Right aft, sir," he answered, leading the way along the deck.

As I followed him, I passed two bodies stretched out at full length.

"They'll never break biscuit again," observed one of the men.  "We were
near thirty souls in all, and this night there only remain six of us
alive."

There was no time just then to ask questions.  The companion-hatch had
not been washed away, and as the seaman held up the lantern, its light
fell on the figure of a man kneeling on the deck, bending over the fair
face of a young girl, who reclined on a seat by the side of it.

"Rouse up a bit, sir; there's help come when we didn't expect it," said
the seaman.

The gentleman, for such I saw that he was, had not his voice proved it,
rose from his knees.  "Heaven be praised, my child may yet be saved!" he
exclaimed, clasping his daughter in his arms, and scarcely appearing to
notice my presence.  "Alice, dearest, bear up but a little longer; we
may once more hope to reach the shore."

The young girl endeavoured, to raise herself, and feebly returned his
embrace.

Then turning to me, he said, "You have arrived most opportunely.  We had
well nigh abandoned all hope of escaping death.  What do you propose we
should do?"

"As the people on board seem to say that the ship may go down any moment
with slight warning," I replied, "I think, sir, the sooner you and the
young lady get into the boat, the better.  We will follow you when it
becomes absolutely necessary.  Meantime we must see what can be done on
board."

I then told him that I belonged to a cutter, which could not be far off,
and that I hoped by daylight we should see her, and that she would come
to our assistance.

The gentleman, on this, took his daughter in his arms and carried her to
the gangway.

"How are the poor men who were so ill?"  I heard her ask.

"They are free from all pain," was the evasive answer; but it seemed to
satisfy her.

We soon got them safely placed in the boat, in which I left two
boat-keepers, with orders to be ready to shove off at a moment's notice.
The rest of the boat's crew came on board to lend a hand to what might
be required.

I then set to work to see what was best to be done.  There was no time
to ask questions as to how the ship had got into her present condition.
My first care was to attend to the wants of the sick.  The seaman who
had received us and my own people went round with me.  Unhappily, we
found that most of the other poor fellows were beyond human aid.  Three
only were still alive, verging on the portals of death.  We fortunately
had a flask of spirits, a keg of water, and some biscuits in the boat;
of these I served out sparingly among the crew.  The food had the effect
of speedily reviving them.  I next took a lantern, and, accompanied by
Jack, went below to discover, if I could, how much water the ship had in
her.  I was not quite comfortable during the time, for I thought she
might take it into her head to go down before we could regain the deck.
The water we found was over the cabin floors; but, as far as we could
judge, it was not gaining on her.  Half of it might have got in while
the sea broke over the ship.  The contents of the cabin, bedding, and
tables, and chairs, and crockery, and books, and clothing, were washing
about together.  Returning on deck, we went forward.  The forepeak was
much in the same condition.

"She'll not sink yet awhile, sir," said Jack.  "Hark, now! don't you
hear a bubbling sound right forward, there?  Now, to my mind, if we were
to get a sail thrummed and brought across her bows, we might carry her
into harbour yet."

"If you think so, we'll try it, by all means," I answered, feeling no
little pride at the prospect of saving the ship.

No time was to be lost in setting about the work, if it was to be done.
I had only three men; and the four we found able to move about on board
were still too weak to be of much use.  Officers there were none.  I
shall have to tell a sad tale on that subject, by-and-by.  We had no
little difficulty in getting at the sail-room; but, after much rummaging
about, we discovered a spare topsail, with which we set to work as we
proposed.  What with searching for the ropes and getting the sail ready,
it took us an hour before it was brought under the ship's bows.
Meantime the water gained very slowly on us.  It was nervous work, for
we could not tell at what moment the last bucketful might come in which
would send her to the bottom.

"That will do, sir, I think," said Jack Stretcher, who, I must own, was
the prime mover.  "The leak seems to suck in the sail, and we may now
try to clear her of the water."

With a will we manned the chain-pumps, and after an hour's hard work it
became evident that we had materially lessened its depth.  In the
meantime the little girl and her father, with the weakest of those we
found on board, had remained in the boat.

"You may come on board again, sir; I don't think the ship is going to
sink this time," I sung out, as I looked down on them.

At first the gentleman would not venture to quit the boat, for he could
not believe that the ship was not on the point of sinking.  After some
persuasion, however, I got him and his daughter on deck, and we wrapped
her up comfortably, and placed her on the seat by the companion-hatch,
for the cabin was too damp for her to occupy.  The sick men we placed on
the poop, with a sail stretched over them, to shelter them somewhat from
the night air.  The dead were carried forward.  We had no time, however,
to spare from the pumps; but, with the aid of the fresh hands, we again
set to for a spell, the gentleman helping, as far as his strength would
allow him.  As may be supposed, I was curious to know who he was; and
while we were pumping away, I bethought me I would ask him his name.

"You may call me Marlow," he answered.  "I ought to have mentioned that
before."

The reply made me fancy that there was some mystery or other, and my
imagination conjured up all sorts of romantic stories.  "And that young
lady," thought I, "is Miss Alice Marlow."  "Alice Marlow--Alice Marlow;
what a very pretty name," I kept repeating to myself, while my arms were
aching with the exertion of pumping.  Fortunately it remained very calm,
or I suspect we should not have gained on the leak.  Mr Marlow was
anxious to get on shore for the sake of his daughter, and would
willingly have abandoned the ship; but at the same time he was glad to
save some valuable property he had on board.  All hands worked with a
will, spelling each other, till we were almost knocked up.  I thought
the night the longest I had ever spent.  We had no time for
conversation, so I was still ignorant of how the ship had been brought
into her present condition.  At last the cold grey light of the coming
day appeared.  I looked out in the hope of discovering the blue line of
the land on the northern board; but the dull, leaden sea surrounded us
on every side, fortunately, unruffled as a looking-glass.  Neither the
cutter nor any other sail was in sight.  We had given our own provisions
to the half-famished crew, and were becoming very sharp-set ourselves.
Some nutritious food had, I found--much to the credit of those on
board,--been reserved for the exclusive use of the little girl, and this
had been the means of preserving her life, notwithstanding all the
hardships she had undergone.  Mr Marlow, overcome with fatigue, had
wrapped himself in a cloak, and lay asleep at his daughter's feet.  Two
of the ship's crew had fairly given in, and dropped off also; but my own
fellows, urged on by Jack, worked away like Trojans at the pump.

"Do ye see, lads, if we get this here craft into harbour, we shall make
a better job of it than of any prize we are ever likely to pick up in
the whole course of our lives; but if she sinks, why, do ye see, we
shall get nothing," he remarked, whenever he saw them inclined to flag
in their exertions; and each time he spoke, the water always seemed to
flow faster than before out of the scuppers.

Our prospect was not a very pleasant one.  We had a boat certainly; but
with any sea running she would scarcely carry the remnant of the crew
and passengers; and while the ship floated I would on no account desert
her.

The beams of the sun, as he rose out of the ocean, fell on the little
girl's face.  I had fancied her rather pretty at night, but I now
thought her very lovely.  While my arms were resting I stood watching
her, when the dazzling light of the sun aroused her from her sleep, and
opening a very bright pair of blue eyes, she fixed them on me with a
look of extreme surprise.  It may be laid down as a general rule that a
midshipman, especially an Irish one, does not take a long time to fall
in love, nor, it must be confessed, to fall out again--which latter,
taking all things into consideration, will be considered a very
fortunate circumstance.  I, accordingly, instantly conceived a very
ardent affection for Miss Alice Marlow, and felt ready to go right round
the world, and to perform all sorts of prodigies for her sake.  She
looked at me, and then around her, as if trying to collect her scattered
senses.

"Where are we--where are we going?" she asked, in a very sweet and
musical voice.

"We are in the Chops of the Channel; and we are going nowhere at
present, but we hope soon to be," I answered.  "We must try to rig a
sort of a jury-mast, and if we get a little breeze from the southward,
we may hope to fetch Plymouth."

The idea of getting up a jury-mast had only just occurred to me.

Her voice aroused Mr Marlow.  It was pleasant to see the way in which
the father and daughter greeted each other.  I left them together,
offering up their thanks to Heaven for having preserved them to see
another day, while I went forward to propound my idea to Jack.  He was
about to propose the same to me, the only want being the spars with
which to make the mast.  A few remained, certainly, on deck, but they
were short and broken.  On putting them, however, together, we found
that we might splice them so as to form a mast and a yard of sufficient
length to answer our purpose.  All hands set to with a will, in the
hopes that a breeze might spring up from the southward or westward, and
blow us on to the English coast.  The ebb, I found, had drifted us down
Channel, and the flood, now again making strong, sent us the way we
wished to go.  As the sun also rose, and the mist which had so long hung
over the sea cleared off somewhat, we at length made out the land to the
northward, which we had no doubt was the coast of Cornwall.

Things now began to wear a much more cheering aspect.  We had to knock
off mast building, however, every now and then, to take a spell at the
pumps.  Mr Marlow assisted us at either work to the best of his power;
and even little Miss Alice seemed very anxious to lend a hand, and,
though I own she could have been but of slight use, her presence
encouraged us to perseverance.  It did me at all events.  I have all my
life felt doubly energetic in the presence of a lady, and fancy, at all
events, that there is not a deed which I would not dare for the sake of
winning the smile of an amiable girl.

At last we got something like a mast built, and lashed to the stump of
the foremast.  We stayed it up, got a yard across it, and bent a topsail
to it, which we fortunately found below.  This was but very little sail:
but it was all we could hope to be able to set, and without a wind even
that was of no use to us.

The pumps, in the meantime, kept us fully occupied; clang--clang--clang
they went, till I thought I never should get the sound out of my ears.
Jack every now and then turned his eye over the smooth, glassy sea to
the northward, as if he observed some sign which I did not.  Before long
he gladdened our ears by exclaiming, "Here it comes!  We'll stand by,
sir, if you please, to hoist the sail."  I went aft to the helm.  A nice
fresh, laughing breeze came rippling and curling up briskly the hitherto
sullen waters.  It struck us abeam on the larboard side.  The sail was
hoisted, the ship answered her helm, and I steered her in the direction
in which I believed that Plymouth was to be found.

As the binnacle had been swept off the deck, and the only compass I
could find in the cabin had been so damaged by water as to be of no use,
I had only the distant blue land to steer by.

Our sail, fortunately, required but little attention, so that my whole
ship's company were at liberty to work at the pumps, which was very
necessary, as, whenever they relaxed in their efforts, the water again
rapidly gained on us.

Miss Alice, being of no assistance to them, came and stood by me to help
me to steer the ship, which, I assured her, was very kind of her.

As all danger appeared past, and the sun shone forth bright and warm,
her spirits revived.  Her voice was very sweet and low, and I thought
that I had never heard anything more musical.

"What is your name, little officer?" she asked, putting her hands on the
spokes of the wheel, and imitating my attitude as I stood on the other
side of it.

"Neil D'Arcy, little lady," I answered, not quite liking the epithet she
bestowed on me.

"Oh, I so much wished to know it; for papa and I are so very, very
grateful to you for coming to save our lives, and we can never thank you
enough," said she.

"Oh, I have done nothing at all to be thanked for; I wish that I had," I
replied.  "I wouldn't mind any trouble or danger to serve you; and I
would go right round the world for your sake, that I would."

"It's very kind of you to say so," said Miss Alice.  "And I know that I
shall like you some day very much--indeed I do so now--for the service
you have been to us; but tell me, Mr Neil D'Arcy, are you a captain of
a ship?"

"No, I am a midshipman," I replied, modestly.

"Is a midshipman higher than a captain?" she inquired, innocently.

"Sometimes; when he's mast-headed," I answered.  This seemed to satisfy
her; and I, not wishing to be lowered in her estimation, was anxious to
change the subject.  I therefore said, "It seems very odd that though
I've been on board so many hours, and seem to be so well acquainted with
you, I do not know where you have come from, or how you got into this
terrible plight."

"Oh, I will tell you all about it, then," she replied.  "You must know
that papa has been a great merchant in the Brazils, where we have lived
almost since I can remember.  Dear mamma died there; and if it had not
been for my sake, I believe papa would have died too.  You cannot tell
how fond he is of me, for I have no brothers or sisters, and there was
no one else in that country for him to love.  At last the doctor told
him he must come to England, so he took a passage in this ship, which is
called the _Poictiers_.  There were some other passengers, and I had an
old black nurse to take care of me.  At first we had fine weather, and
things seemed to go pretty well; but, sad to say, the captain was a very
tipsy man, and we, I believe, lost our way, and the wind blew against us
and kept us back a long time."

"Oh, I see! the master got out of his reckoning, and met with a
succession of foul winds," I remarked.

"I don't know, but I know we were very uncomfortable, and had very
little to eat, and what we had was very bad," she continued.  "It was
very horrid, was it not?  A fever also, which one of the passengers had
brought from Rio, spread among the people on board.  Several of the
other passengers and many of the crew died of it, and among others, my
poor nurse Josefa.  God was very kind, and saved dear papa and me.  I do
not think the captain caught it; but he was always very tipsy, and now
was worse than ever.  One night he fell into the sea and was drowned."

"Drinking brought on _delirium tremens_, and in his madness he jumped
overboard probably," I remarked.  "No wonder his ship was in so bad a
condition; but go on."

"Both the mates died, and we were left without any officers.
Fortunately the crew were very steady, and behaved well; and at last the
fever went away, and those who were sick recovered.  The carpenter was
the only person on board who had any idea how we should steer, so the
rest made him act as captain."

"It was a mercy, under such circumstances, that you found your way into
the Chops of the Channel."

"Where is that?" asked Miss Alice, naively.

"Where we now are," said I; and I should probably have gone on to
explain the reason of the name, but that I was very anxious to hear more
of her account.  As far as I could make out, three very anxious weeks
passed by while the ship remained in this condition, when, as they were
getting near soundings, a gale sprang up and drove her furiously before
it.  "One evening," continued the little girl, "papa and I were in our
cabins, when suddenly the ship rolled over dreadfully on her side, and--
most horrible!--the water came rushing down into them.  At the same time
there was a frightful crash, and we heard sad shrieks and cries.  Poor
papa flew into my cabin, and seized me in his arms, for he thought the
ship was sinking, so did I, and we wished to die together."

"The ship had broached to, and had been thrown on her beam-ends, and the
masts had gone by the board," I remarked.  "It was fortunate they did
so, or she would have been sent to the bottom to a certainty.  When the
masts went the ship righted, and you saw there was a chance of escape."

"I was too frightened to think anything just then," said she.  "All I
know is, that papa, carrying me in his arms, found his way in the
darkness to the companion-ladder, and then up on deck.  When we got
there, I wished that we were in our cabin again.  We were in the midst
of high, black, foaming waves and bright flashes of lightning; and when
I looked up, there were no masts and no sails, but the deck was covered
with their broken remains.  It was so very dreadful, I cannot talk more
about it now.  I did not cry or faint, but I felt my heart beat very
quick as I clung to papa, while he held tight to the companion-hatches,
which, as you see, still remain firm."

"But where have you lived all the time you have been on the wreck?"  I
asked.

"Oh, I remained where you first found me," she answered.  "At night they
covered me up with cloaks and a sail, and in the daytime I was able to
walk about, for the sea, fortunately, was tolerably smooth.  The kind
sailors also, though suffering much from hunger, I heard papa say,
brought me all I required to eat, which was not much, you may suppose."

This was all about the shipwreck I heard from Miss Alice at the time.
It appeared that when the masts had been carried away, the mizen-mast
had hung on by some of the rigging, and by dragging astern had assisted
in making the head of the ship pay off.  This caused her to drive before
the gale, and saved the decks from being swept by the seas, which would
otherwise have cleared them of every human being.  As soon as all the
damage had been committed, the wind and sea began to go down, and by the
morning there was only a moderate breeze.  The carpenter, however,
discovered that the ship had sprung a leak, and all hands were now
summoned to work the pumps; but weakened by disease and famine, and
overcome with fatigue, they were soon obliged to give up the almost
hopeless task.  Three days of horror passed away without any ship coming
near them, while several of them died from sheer starvation.
Fortunately, at last they discovered some gunpowder which, being in tin
cases, was not spoilt, and with it they managed to fire the guns which
had attracted our attention.

Miss Alice told me many more incidents, which I now forget.  Our
conversation was interrupted by Jack Stretcher, who came aft.

"Sir," said he, touching his hat, "I'm afraid we shall have to take to
the boat, for the people are almost all knocked up; and, do all we can,
the ship won't float much longer."

"I'm sorry to hear that, for I should have liked to have got her safe
into harbour," I answered.  "But I suppose there is no help for it."

"We'll take another spell at the pumps before we give in," he replied.
"But I wanted to tell you, sir, that to my mind that poor gentleman will
be killing himself if he works away as he does; and as he is of no great
use to us, it would be better if he sat down and rested himself."

On hearing this, Miss Marlow darted forward to her father, and seizing
him by the arm, tried to force him away from the pumps.  He soon yielded
to her entreaties, and almost fainting with fatigue, came and sat down
aft.

"Now, my lads," cried Jack to the men, who, one after the other, had
thrown themselves down on the deck, "we'll see if we can't keep the old
craft afloat till we get her into harbour."

But no one responded to his summons.  Just then my eye fell on the white
sail of a vessel appearing above the dark horizon right ahead of us.  I
pointed it out to Jack.

"It's the cutter, sir, to a certainty," he exclaimed, after scrutinising
it attentively.  "Huzza! my lads, there's help at hand, if you will but
hold out an hour longer."

The men, encouraged by his words and example, resumed their labours, and
again sent the water gushing through the scuppers.  It was an anxious
time; for after all I felt that the sail in sight might not prove to be
the cutter, or she might be crossing our course and not see us.  Our
last remnant of food and water had been served out, with the exception
of a biscuit, which I had kept for the little girl and her father; so
that all hands were very hungry as well as fatigued.  I had tightened my
belt round my waist to serve me for my breakfast.  I watched the vessel
as she rose higher and higher above the horizon; and, to my great joy, I
at length saw that she was, at all events, a large cutter, beating up
towards us.  I called Jack to look at her again.

"She's the _Serpent_, and no mistake," he exclaimed.  "She'll be down to
us in another hour, if the wind holds.  My doubt is if the ship will
swim as long," he added in a whisper to me; "but we'll do our best,
sir."

"Let me know in time if the water gains much on us, that we may get the
young lady and the gentleman into the boat," said I.

"Ay, ay, sir," he answered, as he went forward, and with a loud cheer,
resumed his labours.

The minutes dragged slowly on; for, though I had no fear for our lives,
I was anxious to get fresh hands to keep the ship afloat.

"Is that little vessel yours?" asked Miss Marlow, pointing to the cutter
as she approached.

"Yes," said I.  "I hope before long to take you on board her."

"That will be very nice; for dear papa and I want to leave this dreadful
ship.  You will carry us home to Old England, will you!" she said.

"If the cutter makes us out, I hope to get you on shore this evening or
to-morrow," I replied.  "But I am not quite certain that she sees us."

She had just then tacked, and was apparently standing away from us.  I
watched her eagerly.  Again she tacked, and I was certain she saw us.  I
steered towards her, and now, the breeze freshening, we rapidly neared
each other.  She stood on, and passing under our stern, kept alongside
of us.

"Hillo, D'Arcy, my boy, how did you get there?" hailed my uncle, as he
recognised me at the helm.

"Fell in with her, sir.  Pray send some fresh hands, for we are sinking;
and some prog, for we are starving," I shouted, in return.

The cutter flew by us, and hove-to a short distance ahead.  A boat was
lowered, and as we came up, she hooked on to our main-chains, and my
uncle stepped on board.  I was thus speedily shorn of the honour of
command.  As soon as I had introduced Mr Marlow and his daughter to
him, and given him a brief account of what had occurred, he invited them
on board the cutter, ordering me to take charge of them, and to send
Hanks with another boat's crew to assist in working the ship.  He had
brought some provisions, which very soon restored my hungry people, and
enabled them to pull me and my charges on board the cutter, while the
fresh hands took their places at the pumps.  Even when Miss Alice
discovered my unexalted position, she did not seem to esteem me the
less, for I had already, I rather fancy, established myself in her good
graces.  I did my best to make her and her father comfortable in my
uncle's cabin; and Flitch, his steward, soon placed before them such a
breakfast as they had not seen for many a long day, to which I, at all
events, did not fail to do ample justice.  The young lady appeared to
think that naval officers were very hungry mortals, as she saw
numberless slices of bacon and eggs disappear down my throat.

"We have no lady's maid on board to attend on you, Miss Marlow," said I,
as I got up to leave the cabin; "but Flitch will put your berth to
rights; and if you'll follow my advice, you'll turn in and take a good
snooze, for you want it, I think."

The poor little girl was almost falling asleep at table.  Mr Marlow
thanked me for my good advice, which he said he and his daughter would
follow.

When I went on deck I found that the cutter had taken the ship in tow,
and that we were running up Channel.  My uncle soon came on board, and
praising me for my behaviour, said he should try and carry our prize
into Portsmouth.  He was in high spirits, for he expected to get a good
round sum for salvage.  The breeze held favourable, and in two days we
were steering safely through the Needles passage.



CHAPTER EIGHT.

ALICE AT DAISY COTTAGE--A BOAT'S CREW CAPSIZED--PICK UP DICKY SHARPE--
OUR FRIENDSHIP COMMENCED.

I may as well say that my uncle got a fair round sum for the salvage of
the good ship the _Poictiers_, and a very welcome addition to his year's
pay.  Our passengers went on shore at Portsmouth, and as soon as we
arrived there, I thought I was to see no more of them, when, having
accompanied them to the door of the George Hotel, I was about to bid
them farewell.

"What! we are not going to part yet," said Mr Marlow.  "Come in, young
gentleman--come in."

There was the usual bustle consequent on the arrival of a party at an
inn.  It soon subsided.  Rooms were selected, and we found ourselves
seated in a parlour, which looked doubly comfortable after the deck of
the dismasted ship and the small cabin of the cutter.

"You will come and dine with us to-day, Mr D'Arcy; and I must beg you
to convey an invitation to your uncle," said Mr Marlow.

As midshipmen are not always their own masters, I had to explain that I
would, if I could; though I did not think my uncle would refuse me
leave.  I was not disappointed; and at six o'clock I found myself seated
at Mr Marlow's dinner-table, and opposite my Commander.  I thought the
little lady, Miss Alice, still looked very much fatigued.

"She is scarcely yet fit to perform the journey to London," observed her
father.  "Still I am anxious to be there, and must also visit Liverpool
in the course of a few days."

"If you will allow her to remain with Mrs O'Flaherty, I can answer for
my wife being most happy to receive her," said my uncle.

To my great joy, though I was afraid of showing if, Mr Marlow at once
acceded to the proposal.

"I will, then, bring Mrs O'Flaherty over to fetch her," added my uncle.
"You will, I suspect, agree very well, Miss Alice."

"Indeed, my dear sir, you are laying me under a tenfold obligation,"
said Mr Marlow.  "All our connections are, I believe, in the North, and
in dreary London there is no one with whom I could leave the dear
child."

I don't remember the rest of our conversation.  I know that I discussed
a very good dinner; and that same evening we got under weigh and ran
over to Ryde, and my uncle went up to Daisy Cottage.  The next morning
my aunt accompanied him on board, and we returned to Portsmouth.  She
received little Alice, as I knew she would, most kindly, and before many
hours had passed they became great friends; and, to make a long story
short, Miss Marlow became an inmate for several weeks of Daisy Cottage.

We were lying one day soon after this in Portsmouth Harbour, off Haslar
Creek, ready to start for the westward.  It was Sunday.  My uncle had
gone over to Ryde, and I was in hopes of getting across in the afternoon
to visit my aunt and her guest.  I had turned out in full fig; and while
all the people were below dressing for muster, I walked the deck as
officer of the watch, with my spy-glass under my arm, looking out for
the signal from the flag-ship to make it eight-bells.  I felt very
important, but I have reasons to doubt whether I looked proportionably
consequential.  All the ships in the harbour and at Spithead ran up
their bunting at the same moment; and I had just belayed our signal
halliards when I saw a boat, crowded with seamen and marines, putting
off from a frigate lying right ahead of us.  The tide was running strong
out of the harbour.  A young midshipman was at the helm, and he did not
seem to have made due allowance for the strength of the current.  The
consequence was that the boat drifted down some way below the intended
place of landing, and while he was putting her head up the harbour to
regain his lost ground, her keel struck the mast of a barge which had
sunk the day before, and which scarcely showed above the water.  In an
instant over she went, and the people in her were spilt out into the
eddying, rushing tide-way.  Some struck out for the shore, a few clung
on the boat, and others came drifting down helplessly with the current.

So suddenly had the accident occurred, that I had not a moment to
consider what was best to be done, nor to call any one from below.
Fortunately we had a punt alongside.  Casting off the painter, I jumped
into her, and shoved off to where three men were struggling, close ahead
of the cutter.  I caught hold of one who was just sinking, and hauled
him over the bows, while the other two got in without my help.  I looked
round to see what had become of the rest of the people.  Two marines
were clinging to the keel of the boat, and she was on the point of
striking our stern, by which she would have been carried under our
bottom, when I sculled alongside and got the two jollies on board.  By
the glance I had had at her just before, I observed that another person
had been with them, while, as I was getting in the three first men, a
cry for help had reached my ears.

"Oh! sir, there's Mr --- gone, poor fellow!" exclaimed one of the
marines saved.  "There he is, though!"

Directly under the water, where he pointed, I saw a head of hair or a
bunch of seaweed, I could not tell which; but, on the chance of its
being the former, I sculled up to it.  The sun shone forth brightly, and
I caught a glimpse of a human face convulsed with agony beneath the
tide.  Twice it eluded me; but stretching out my arm, and almost going
overboard and capsizing our already over-crowded boat, I got firm hold
of a person by the hair, who, I saw, had a midshipman's patch on the
collar of his jacket.  I had some difficulty in getting the seemingly
lifeless body of my brother officer into the boat.

Seeing that there was no one else to be saved--for several boats had
shoved off from the shore and vessels at anchor near at hand to pick up
the rest of the people--I paddled my nearly sinking boat alongside the
cutter.  Hearing my hail as I jumped into the punt, the crew had rushed
on deck, and were standing ready to hand on board the half-drowned
midshipman and the men I had been the means of saving.  The latter were
none the worse for their ducking, except that their clothes were
wettish.

"You'll want a clean shirt, mate," said one of our people to a Patlander
from the frigate.

"Arrah! now didn't I put a dry one in my pocket this blessed morning; so
it will be all handy for me," he exclaimed, diving into the recesses of
his dripping peacoat.

The midshipman, who was still insensible, was, by Hanks' advice, carried
down into the gun-room.  We were unwilling to run the risk of the delay
which must have occurred had he been conveyed on board his own ship.

"Bring a glass of hot grog; and let it be pretty stiff, steward!" said
Hanks, as we were engaged in stripping our patient and putting him into
my berth between the blankets.

We then set to work to rub his body with a coarse worsted sock, the
first suitable thing which came to hand.  Having got some of the salt
water he had swallowed out of his mouth, Hanks poured a little warm grog
into it instead.  This, with the rubbing, had the effect of speedily
restoring animation.  In a few minutes he opened his eyes, and tried to
sit up and look about him.

"Hillo! where am I?  I say, are the poor fellows all picked up?" he
asked, in a weak tone.

I liked him at once for thinking of his men.

"All right, mate," I answered; "no harm has come of the capsize, except
a few wet jackets."

Just then, on looking round, I saw a man, who by his uniform I knew to
be a naval surgeon, standing near me.  "So I see you've saved me my
work, gentlemen," he said, smiling.  "You could not have acted better
than you appear to have done; and, thanks to you, we shall soon have him
all right again."

"Thank'ee, Doctor, I've come round pretty well already," sung out the
midshipman.  "But, I say, mate, I just want another glass of your stuff.
It's prime physic."

The medico smelt the tumbler, which stood on the table full of grog, and
then felt the youngster's pulse and looked at his tongue.

"You may take half a glass--it's quite enough for you, and then we'll
have you wrapped up in blankets, and carried on board," he answered.

"Oh, thank'ee, Doctor, I'm very comfortable where I am, and my clothes
ain't dried yet; so if you'll let me stay here, I think it would be the
better for me," said the midshipman.

The Doctor's objections, if he had any, were soon overruled; and,
telling the midshipman to return on board the frigate as soon as his
clothes were dry, he quitted the cutter.

"What's your name, mate?" asked my new friend, as he was sipping his
glass of grog.

I told him.

"Mine's Richard Sharpe; but I'm mostly called Dicky Sharpe," he
answered.  "Some of my messmates give me all sorts of names; but I don't
mind them.  As long as they don't cob me, it's all very well.  I'm a
happy fellow, and ready for all the ups and downs of life.  I'm pretty
well wide awake, and know my duty, so I don't often get mast-headed.  If
I happen to get a fall, I generally manage to pitch on my feet; and as
I'm some day or other to come into a fortune, I'm not troubled about the
future.  If the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty give me my
promotion, it will be all very well; if not, why they'll have to
dispense with my valuable services, and the country will be the loser."

I was highly edified by Master Dicky's philosophy, and I at once
conceived a great regard and respect for him.

"Now, D'Arcy, my boy," he continued, in his free and easy tone, "it's
stupid work lying here between the blankets; so if you'll just give me
the loan of some of your toggery till mine are dry, I'll sit up at table
and crack a bottle of wine with you."

I had to remind him of the early hour, and to confess that wine our mess
did not possess, but that he should have some breakfast and hot tea,
which would be better for him, and that he should be welcome to my
clothes.

While he was seated at table, Hanks, who had gone on deck to see the
medico off, returned.  "Well, D'Arcy, I told him how you had saved the
youngster and the other men," he said.  "It will be a feather in your
cap, my lad, and you deserve to wear it."

"What!" exclaimed my volatile young friend, grasping my hand, while the
tears came into his eyes, "you saved me from drowning.  On my word, I'm
very much obliged to you.  I shouldn't like to have become food for
fishes just yet.  I'd rather eat a few dinners off them first."

"Oh, faith, I could not have done less if you'd been only a sheep or a
pig," I answered, laughing; "so you've little to thank me for."

"I suppose, though, even a sheep or a pig would have tried to show their
gratitude, unless you had intended to turn them into mutton and pork
directly afterwards," replied Dicky Sharpe.  "So, D'Arcy, I must look
upon you as my friend and preserver; and I just wish, when you can get
leave, that you would come down and see my governor and mother and
sisters.  They won't make much of you, won't they, that's all."

I told him that I should be very glad to accept his invitation if I
could; but at the time I was thinking that my aunt and Miss Alice would
admire the feather Hanks said I might wear in my cap more than anybody
else.  I never met a merrier or more contented fellow than Dicky Sharpe.
I was quite sorry to lose him when his clothes were dry and a boat came
alongside to take him on board his ship, the _Cynthia_, What was my
surprise to receive by her, at the same time, a note from the captain of
the frigate, inviting me to dine with him on the following day, stating
that he wished to thank me for the presence of mind I had displayed in
saving the lives of one of his midshipmen and several of his people.

"I'm glad to hear it," exclaimed Hanks.  "It shows your talents are not
hid under a bushel; and now get away over to Ryde with that note in your
pocket, and explain its meaning in the best way you can."

I jumped into a wherry just then passing, and in less than an hour
landed at Ryde Pier, whence I found my way up to Daisy Cottage.  My aunt
was delighted to hear my story, which, I flatter myself, I told with all
the innate modesty of an Irishman.  Alice, I thought, blushed her
approval most sweetly; and my uncle congratulated me warmly.  I spent a
very pleasant evening, some of the time walking with Alice on the shore,
and resting under the trees, which come almost close down to the water's
edge.  I found that I could not dine with Captain Bruff, as we were to
sail next morning for the westward; so I was obliged to be content with
the empty honour of the invitation; and, I dare say, my absence did not
break his heart.  I was more sorry to miss seeing Dicky Sharpe again, as
I should have liked to have had another palaver with him; and before our
return the _Cynthia_ would probably have sailed.



CHAPTER NINE.

A CHASE--A PRIZE--CAPTURE A FRENCH SMUGGLER--OUR PRISONER'S POLITENESS--
DO NOT TRUST A GREEK, EVEN WHEN POLITE.

At the hour I was asked to dine with Captain Bruff we were running out
at the Needles, with a fresh breeze and a thick, drizzling rain, which
called pea-coats and sou'westers into requisition.  We cruised about for
three or four days without seeing anything suspicious; not a tub afloat,
nor a craft with a smuggling look about her.  At last we found something
to give us employment.  One evening a mist settled down over the water,
which, though there was a good breeze, was perfectly calm.  Although the
night was in no ways dark, yet the density of the fog prevented our
seeing beyond the bowsprit end, or even so far.  It was just such a
night as a smuggler delights in.  The cutter was on her old ground, off
Portland Bill.  We were slipping through the water at the rate of some
five or six knots an hour, when Stretcher, who was standing close to me,
exclaimed, "Ah! see there, sir; there's a craft of some sort right away
to leeward, trying to steal off from us."  I looked, and could just
distinguish the shadowy form of a sail through the mist.  The Commander
was called, and the cutter was instantly kept away in chase.  Jack
pronounced her to be a wherry; but I thought her something much larger.
The wind was from the southward, and she, choosing what was probably her
best point of sailing, made for the English coast.  She sailed well; but
we kept her in sight, for daylight had just broke, and the mist had
partially cleared away.  As soon as my uncle came on deck he ordered a
shot to be fired wide of her, to make her heave-to.  She paid no
attention to it.

"Fire another, Stretcher, right into her this time, and we will make her
show her quality," said he.

The mists had now cleared off sufficiently to show that she was a
wherry, though rather a small one.  The shot went through her foresail,
but still she held on.  She was heavily laden, and her crew must have
seen that her chance of escape was small, if not impossible.  To render
this still more difficult, it was every instant growing lighter and
lighter.  There were numerous sharp eyes on board the cutter fixed on
her, and we now perceived her crew heaving the tubs overboard as fast as
they could.  They fancied, probably, that we could not see them.  There
were no weights attached to them, so they floated; but as we had no time
to stop and pick them up, we noted carefully our course as we passed
them, so as to be able to find them again.

"Fire away at her, my lads, till she heaves-to," cried my uncle, seeing
that she still held on.

"Surely she'll not get away from us," I remarked to Jack.

"Not so sure of that, Mr D'Arcy," he answered.  "Now she's got her
cargo out of her, should the wind fall on a sudden, and the fog come on
thicker, she may contrive to hide herself away in it before we can get
our boats out."

The fog deceived us as to her true distance from us, for after the
first, none of our shot struck her, though that mattered nothing, for
the breeze freshening, we were now coming up with her hand over hand.

"Lower your canvas!" shouted my uncle, as we got near.

Her people thought it wise to obey, to avoid the shot, which could not
now well miss its aim.  She was next ordered to pull alongside, which
she immediately did; but there was not a symptom of a cask or keg of
spirits in her.  She had five hands in her.  They were desired to come
on board.  One of them acknowledged himself the skipper.

"We want to know why you chased and fired at us, sir," he said, in the
most innocent manner possible, addressing my uncle.

"For having contraband goods on board," he answered.

"Lord love ye, sir--we have contraband goods aboard, sir!" replied the
skipper, with a feigned look of surprise.  "We was just taking our
pleasuring, and didn't know but what you was an enemy, or a pirate, or
some chap of that sort, so we runned away, sir, do ye see."

"Very well; you'll remain on board the cutter for the present, and
perhaps I may prove to the contrary," said my uncle.

The smugglers were compelled, with a very bad grace, to go below; the
wherry was dropped astern, and the cutter stood back over the ground we
had before crossed.  Before eight-bells we had picked up fifty tubs of
brandy.  As plenty of our people could swear that they saw a number of
tubs thrown overboard from the wherry, there was no doubt of her being
condemned.  When our prisoners perceived that their escape was
impossible, they seemed to screw themselves up to bear their reverses
like brave men.  Though somewhat down in the mouth, they apparently felt
no ill-will, but were obedient and respectful.  Luck was against them.
They had tried to smuggle, and we, as in duty bound, had stopped them.
The worst they had to expect was a few months' residence in Winchester
gaol.  My uncle had each of them down separately in his cabin, to try
and obtain any information they might be inclined to give, especially
about Myers, whom he was most anxious to get hold of.  From one of them
he learned that a large lugger was to run across the following night but
one, from Cherbourg; and he resolved to intercept her.  A course was
immediately shaped for that port.  He had explained his plan to Hanks,
who was to take the wherry with four hands and to keep a bright look-out
for the lugger, and to board her if he met her, as soon as she was
half-way across Channel.  I obtained leave to accompany him, for though
I could not be expected to do much while blows were being given and
taken, I was considered a good hand at steering; and my uncle was glad
to let me see as much service as possible, holding the opinion that in
that way only could I become a good practical officer.

When we had got about mid Channel between Saint Catharine's and
Cherbourg, the cutter was hove-to and the wherry hauled up alongside.

"Success attend you," said my uncle, as Hanks and I stepped into the
wherry.  "Mind, Mr Hanks, keep a sharp look-out for the lugger; but do
not let anything else with a smuggling air about her escape unexamined."

"Ay, ay, sir," answered Hanks, as we shored off.  "I hope to get hold of
the lugger, and Myers in her."

We had in the boat provisions for four or five days; cloaks, blankets, a
compass, and lantern; with three muskets, and pistols and cutlasses for
each person.  Our directions were to cruise about for three days, should
the weather remain moderate, and then to rejoin the cutter off the
Needles.  We started away with a light breeze and a smooth sea, and
stood for a short way towards Cherbourg, while the cutter returned over
part of the course she had come.  The weather was very pleasant, and the
sunbeams sparkled cheerily on the rippling wavelets caused by the
meeting of the tide and wind, as we ran through the water at the rate of
some five or six knots an hour.  Hanks lighted his favourite short black
pipe, such as in Ireland we should call a "dodeen."  He never indulged
in a cigar, except one was given him.  While he leaned back, with his
legs stretched along the seats, I steered.  I used to think it very hard
that he would never let me smoke, but I have since been much obliged to
him.

"This is what I call comfort, Neil," said he.  "One of the smooths of
life; but it won't last, so let us enjoy it while we can.  Before long
we may be getting broken heads, with a gale of wind into the bargain."

So he smoked his pipe, took ever and anon a sip from the rum-bottle,
sang a snatch from a song, and joked and talked away till the sun began
to hasten his descent into the ocean.  We were all the time keeping a
look-out for any suspicious craft.

At last the sails of a lugger appeared against the evening sky as she
got clear of the land.  We made sure it was the vessel we were in search
of, and prepared for action.

"D'Arcy, do you stay at the helm, and keep the wherry alongside, while
the rest of us jump aboard," said Hanks.  "Stretcher, you must knock
down the fellow at the helm; I'll grapple with the skipper, if they show
fight."

On came the lugger.  I thought it very unlikely if Myers was on board,
from his well-known character, that he would fail to show fight; indeed,
it seemed much more probable that he would do his best to knock us all
on the head, and heave us overboard again, should we manage to set foot
on his deck.  However, I said nothing, and felt just as eager for the
fray as if such an idea had not crossed my mind.

Hanks had been taking a steady look at the lugger through his spy-glass.
"Well!" he exclaimed, "hang me if I don't think, after all, that she's
one of those French _chasse marees_.  Our lugger hasn't yet come out."

"D'ye think, sir, that they chaps was deceiving of us?" said Jack.
"They be up to all sorts of dodges."

"Oh, hang it, no; I hope not," answered Hanks, with considerable doubt,
notwithstanding, in his tone.  "The Commander cross-questioned them a
great deal too close for them to deceive us.  We shall see the right
craft by-and-by."

We were soon convinced, however, that the lugger in sight was a _chasse
maree_.  She hauled her wind, and stood along shore.  Had she observed
us she would probably have had no little suspicion of our business out
there.

After watching for the lugger to no purpose for three hours or more, the
moon rose out of the dark water, and gave us a wider range of vision.
Hour after hour passed away, and still she did not appear.  We began at
last to be afraid either that the smugglers had deceived us, or that she
had slipped out and passed us unobserved.  As our blockade might be
somewhat long, Hanks divided the crew into watches; he taking command of
one, and I of the other.  When it was my turn to sleep, I rested as
soundly as I usually did in my own berth, though I dreamed that I had
caught sight of Myers, and that I was chasing him round and round the
world with a pair of ten-league boots on my legs.  How he kept ahead of
me I could not tell.  Hanks awoke me to take some breakfast, and then
let me go to sleep again, for I was so drowsy that I could not keep my
eyes open.  While I was still more asleep than awake, I heard Jack's
voice exclaim--

"That's her, sir, I'll take my davy."

"Yes, that's her, and no mistake, this time," added Hanks.

I was on my feet in a moment, and looking towards the French coast, I
saw a lugger about two miles off, running down to us.  All hands were on
the alert, and every preparation was made to ensure the success of our
enterprise.  We hauled our wind, and steered a course so as to intercept
her, without, if possible, exciting the suspicion of the smugglers till
we were alongside.  As the sea was perfectly smooth and the wind light,
we should have no difficulty in getting on board.  Hanks, Jack, and I
alone showed ourselves; the rest were ordered to lie down in the bottom
of the boat.  The lugger, we could see, was heavily laden, and her
general appearance betokened her to be French.

"Remember, my lads, we shall have to give and take some hard blows; but
sharp's the word, and she'll be ours before her people know what we are
after," exclaimed Hanks, in an inspiriting tone.  It was an exciting
moment.  As we drew near, we could count some twelve men or more on her
deck.  We were by this time well over on the British half of the
Channel.

"Keep her away a little, D'Arcy," said Hanks.  The smugglers had been
watching us without apparently suspecting our intentions.  "Now, hard
up!--ease off the mainsheet!--hook on!--follow me, my lads!"

As Hanks uttered the last words we had run alongside.  The next moment
he leaped over the bulwarks of the lugger on to her deck, and grappling
with her captain, a Frenchman, tripped him up.  Jack at the same time
knocked down the man at the helm with a boat's stretcher.  There was a
mighty deal of jabbering and swearing in French, and some round oaths
uttered in English, when, as Hanks was working his way forward, some of
the crew, plucking courage, made a rush, and, seizing him, bore him
overboard, fortunately on the larboard side, on the same which the
wherry was: small thanks to the smugglers on that account.  We were
going through the water, it must be remembered, though not very quick.
Hanks made a desperate attempt to clamber on board again by the lugger's
forechains, but missed his aim; then, giving a glance of defiance at the
rascals, he kept himself afloat while he sung out, "Hillo, D'Arcy, lend
me a hand here!"

Directly I saw what had happened I seized an oar, and thrust it out
towards him.  He grasped it as we passed by, and quickly clambered into
the wherry.  The moment after, with the stretcher, which he had never
let out of his grasp, he was again on the lugger's deck, belabouring
both right and left those of the crew who still resisted.  As none of
the smugglers had seen him get out of the water, they were completely
taken by surprise, and without striking another blow, sung out for
quarter.

"You don't deserve it, you blackguards, for daring to resist a king's
officer in the execution of his duty," cried Hanks, flourishing his
stretcher.  "But, forward with you, there, and don't move till I give
you leave."  The Frenchmen did not understand him, but the English
smugglers did, and his action showed what he desired.  The crew were
soon penned up in the fore part of the vessel, with the exception of the
captain and the man Jack had knocked down, who were sitting on deck
rubbing their eyes, hardly yet recovered.  Scarcely three minutes had
passed since we ran alongside, and the lugger was ours.  I was still in
the boat, waiting for orders.

"Come on board, D'Arcy," said Hanks at length, looking over the side.
"We'll lower the wherry's sails, and tow her astern."

I gladly jumped out of her when we had stowed her canvas and made fast
the painter.  Our prize turned out to be a valuable one, for she had not
only spirits, but silk and lace on board.  Her papers clearly proved
also that these goods were intended to be smuggled, so I remember Hanks
saying; but how that was I did not trouble myself, nor do I to this day
know.  The smugglers, as well as they might, were certainly sulky; and
Hanks, as a gentle hint for them to behave themselves, stationed a man
with a double-barrelled pistol in his hand close to them, while they
stood huddled together on the little forecastle.  I took the helm, while
the sails were trimmed and a course shaped for the Needles.  In a short
time a breeze sprang up, and we spanked along at a furious rate.  The
French skipper had now recovered, and getting on his legs, with a polite
bow, expressed a hope, in tolerable English, that we would make
ourselves at home on board his vessel.

"No fear of that, monsieur," answered Hanks.  "Cool, is he not, D'Arcy?"

"You no have taken dinner, sare," continued the skipper.  "I will tell
de cook to make dinner ready."

"Not a bad idea, monsieur," said Hanks.  "Which of you chaps is cook?"

The Frenchman pointed to the fellow whose head Jack had nearly broken.
He spoke a few words to him, and the man--having got up and stretched
himself to ascertain, I suppose, that no bones were broken--dived below,
and presently returned with a white cap and apron, and several pans and
dishes, and began busying himself in the mysteries of his art.  Again he
dived, the fire in the forepeak burned up brightly, and savory smells
began to ascend therefrom.  In about an hour the skipper, with another
bow, invited us into his little well-like cabin aft, where a collation,
such as an epicure might envy, was placed before us.  What were its
component parts I did not inquire.  They may have been cats and frogs,
but neither Hanks nor I were in any way particular, and no dreadful
surmises crossed my mind.  An Englishman would have broached a keg of
brandy, but our friend, Monsieur Didot, placed a bottle of
fine-flavoured claret and a variety of first-rate liqueurs before us,
not that either Hanks or I was well able to appreciate the former.

"Come, monsieur, hand us out a bottle of some real stuff or other; I'm
not fond of your pink vinegars," exclaimed Hanks, as he tossed off a
tumbler of the claret.  "This isn't bad for washing the dust out of a
fellow's throat on a hot day, but there's no life-blood in it."

The skipper, with a twinkle of his eyes which betokened mischief, though
unfortunately Hanks did not perceive it, produced a large square bottle,
thick at the top, from which he poured out a glass of first-rate
Scheidam.  Hanks smacked his lips as he tasted it.

"Take care, Neil, my child," said he, "you don't swallow much of that
stuff; it's too good.  I'll just smack at another glass, and then we'll
go on deck out of the way of temptation."

The Frenchman looked mightily disappointed when he saw that Hanks was
not so easily taken in as he doubtless expected he would be.  I happened
to look round as we left the cabin, and saw him shrugging his shoulders
and making hideous grimaces, and no very complimentary gestures at us.
Before this little incident I had thought him the pink of politeness.
He wore love-locks and rings in his ears, and was dressed with the most
accurate French nautical precision; in fact he looked thoroughly unlike
an English seaman.  In his manners he was a very mild man, and certainly
he had nothing of the ruffian about him.  I cannot say as much for his
crew, some of whom were very ill-looking dogs.  It would have been wiser
in Hanks to have handcuffed them all, including the skipper and cook
(though we should thereby have gone without a good dinner), and
stationed a sentry with a loaded musket over them, with orders to shoot
the first who should attempt to escape.

The French skipper, when he found that his plan to obfuscate the brains
of the knowing old Hanks had totally failed, went and sat himself down
forward among his people, apparently in a fit of the sulks.

Hanks, who was in high spirits at the success of our enterprise, walked
the deck with me, looking out for the high land of the Isle of Wight
above the Needle rocks, which we were approaching.  The breeze had
increased and kicked up a little sea, and we were running fast through
the water.

"D'Arcy, my boy, this is a fine haul, isn't it?" exclaimed my superior,
rubbing his hands.  "Credit and prize-money together.  Both good things.
When I was a youngster I thought something about the first; but now, do
you see, Mrs Hanks and I have a fancy for t'other.  It keeps the pot
boiling, do ye see?  I should think your uncle, by this time, was much
of my way of thinking, though he's a round number of years younger than
I am."

"I'm not so sure of that," said I.  "My uncle thinks a good deal of
gaining honour, and I believe he'd rather take an enemy's frigate after
a hard-fought action, than capture a Spanish galleon without a blow."

"Well, it's the proper spirit," said Hanks, with a sigh.  "The revenue
service don't nourish it much, though.  Take my advice; get out of it as
soon as you can; or," he continued with much feeling, "it will spoil you
otherwise, depend on it."

We continued walking the deck for some time longer.  We then sat down to
rest, watching the coast, from which we were about three miles distant.

Jack was at the helm, and the rest of our people were giving a hand to
the sheets, as the wind had veered a little to the westward.

The smugglers were seemingly fast asleep, with the exception of the
skipper, who had lighted a cigar to console himself under his mishap.



CHAPTER TEN.

THE TABLES TURNED--CONSOLE MYSELF WITH THE FIDDLE--SET THE FRENCHMEN
DANCING--CAPTAIN DIDOT--MY PLACE OF IMPRISONMENT--ESCAPE--GREATER
DANGER--FRIGHTEN MY FRIENDS.

Everything was going on as tranquilly as possible.  Hanks was sweeping
the horizon with his glass, looking out for the cutter, when suddenly,
without the slightest warning, I saw the sentry's pistol knocked out of
his fist, and he himself hove headlong into the sea.  Away flew the
skipper's cigar, and up he jumped as lively as a cricket, and, with two
of his men, threw himself upon Hanks, who, taken unawares (his eyes
engaged in his telescope), was bundled overboard.  I tried to catch him
by the leg, but his old blue trousers tore in my grasp, and a big
Frenchman dealt me such a blow on the head that I was for an instant
stunned.

When I came to my senses, I saw the wherry dropping astern, and the
Frenchmen, with pump-handles and boat-hooks, striking at the poor
fellows they had hove overboard, with the foul intent of drowning them.
I observed that somebody was in the wherry, for her sails were being
hoisted, and I was bolting aft for the purpose of jumping into the water
and swimming to her, when the skipper caught me by the arm.  "Stay, my
little fellow," he exclaimed; "we don't want to hurt you, and don't want
witnesses to this work.  You must go with us."

While he was speaking, some of the smugglers had got hold of the muskets
which our people had brought on board, and presenting them at the
wherry, snapped the locks.  Fortunately they were not loaded, or the
priming had fallen out, and the villains were saved from the
perpetration of further crimes.

The men in the water swam towards the wherry, and I judged from her
movements that those in her were engaged in picking them up.  I sang out
and struggled in vain; but the Frenchman held me fast, and finally, to
save himself further trouble, lifted me up by the collar and shoved me
down the companion-hatch into the cabin, closing the slide over me.
There was I, like a mouse caught in a trap.  At first I burst into a fit
of tears, more from rage and indignation at being outwitted and
surprised by the Frenchman than from the prospect in store for me, which
was not, however, very pleasant.  I might expect to be kept a prisoner
in some out-of-the-way place in France, or perhaps, to be shipped to the
other side of the globe and to be unable to return home for years to
come.  I made ineffectual attempts to get on deck to see what had become
of Hanks and our men; but as I could not move the slide, I was obliged
to sit down quietly in the cabin.  My melting mood was soon over.
"Better now," thought I to myself.  "I won't let these big blackguards
of Frenchmen see me down-hearted, any how.  For the honour of old
Ireland and the name of D'Arcy, I'll put a bold face on the matter," and
I began to sing.

There was a row on deck, and a great deal of jabbering; and the little
vessel heeled over to the breeze; but I had no means of discovering what
was taking place, nor where we were going.

The only light let into the vessel was through a bulls-eye in the deck,
so that at first I thought I was shut up in darkness.  As, however, my
sight got accustomed to the glimmer, I discovered a fiddle and bow hung
up against the bulkhead.

"Come," thought I, "I'll show the froggies that, though they may shut me
up, they can't damp my spirits in a hurry," and seizing the instrument,
I struck up an Irish jig.  It was the most jolly tune I could recollect,
and seldom failed to move the heels of all who heard it.  I played away
for some time without any notice being taken of my music; then I heard
one fellow begin to shuffle away overhead, and then another, and
presently it appeared as if the whole crew were toeing and heeling it in
fine style.  Then there were loud fits of laughter; and afterwards the
slide was withdrawn and the skipper descended into the cabin.

"Vell, you are, _bon garcon_, one merry fellow," he said, laughing.
"You make good use of my violin."

"I am fond of music, and play when I can," I answered in an indifferent
tone; "but I'm tired now, and intend to go to sleep."

"Well, but I have come to take you on deck to play to my people," said
he.  "They are pleased with you, and it will be better for you if you
do."

"What! you ask me to play for the amusement of the men who have been
ill-treating my shipmates, and murdering them, for what I know to the
contrary," I answered, indignantly.  "No!  I played for my own
amusement, and do not intend to play any more."

"Your shipmates attacked us first; and besides, my little man, we have
not murdered them, or done them much harm either, except depriving them
of your company, and of a few muskets and pistols," he answered.  "Take
my advice: be as obliging as you can; they will be civil to you in
return."

"Well, monsieur, I believe you are right," I replied.  "If they really
have not hurt my brother officer and our men, I will fiddle for them as
long as they like."

Saying this, I followed him on deck, where I seated myself on the
companion-hatch; and as I played away, in spite of the tumbling of the
little vessel in the heavy sea running, all the Frenchmen, including
Monsieur Didot, kept skipping, and jumping, and whirling about, hugging
each other like bears, and shouting with glee at having saved their
cargo from the clutches of the revenue people.  We were standing,
close-hauled, towards the French coast.  I looked anxiously for the
wherry, for I thought Hanks would have followed; but she was nowhere in
sight.  One of the Englishmen was at the helm, and the other two were
forward.  They were sulky brutes, and seemed much more bitter against me
than were the Frenchmen.  Whenever I ceased playing, the skipper gave me
a hint to go on again; and there sat I, one of His Majesty's officers,
scraping away on an old Cremona for the amusement of a set of smugglers
and outlaws.  The scene struck me as so ludicrous that I burst into a
loud fit of laughter till the tears began to stream down my cheeks.  I
fiddled all the faster, till the delight of the Frenchmen knew no
bounds; and as a proof of their regard, some of them came up and
actually almost hugged the breath out of my body, calling me a brave
_garcon_, a jolly _garcon_ and an ornament to my country.  This fun
continued till we made the land, about dark.  Some time afterwards, I
found that we were running into a small harbour, with a pier on one side
and a lighthouse on it.  Its name I could not learn; but I supposed it
was somewhere to the eastward of Cherbourg.  I was trying to make out
the look of the place, when the captain, touching me on the shoulder,
said, "Go down below, _my boy_; when I want you I will come for you."
There was that in his tone which showed me that it would be useless to
dispute his orders; so I returned to the cabin.  Finding a berth with
some bed-clothes in it, I crept in, and coiling myself away, was soon,
fast asleep.  I was awoke after some time by the skipper's voice.  He
was holding up a lantern, and looking round, seemingly much surprised at
not seeing me.  He laughed as I poked my head out of my crib.

"Ah, _mon petit_, you make yourself at home wherever you go," he
exclaimed.  "But get up; you must come with me, and I will find a worthy
lady who will take good care of you for some time to come."

I answered that I was very much obliged to him, but that I wanted to
return home as soon as possible.

"Ah, that cannot be," said he, in a quiet tone.  "I am sorry to
inconvenience you; but you will allow that it is better to be kept a
prisoner than to have been thrown overboard as food for the fish."

"Much obliged to you, monsieur," I replied.  "I cannot dispute your
reasoning; so just be good enough to tell me what you want me to do."

"To get up and come with me," said he; "and listen, my young friend,--if
you attempt to run away, I will simply blow your brains out.  I don't
wish you any harm, as I have proved; but necessity compels me to be
explicit."

I did not know whether or not he was in earnest; but as it is dangerous
to trifle with a man who has the power to put so unpleasant a threat in
execution, I thought it wisest to obey him.  I accordingly followed him
on deck, when he took my hand and led me along a plank which was thrown
from the vessel to the shore.  We walked through the narrow street of a
village odoriferous of fish, and then out into the country, which in
agreeable contrast smelt of fresh grass and flowers.  Proceeding along a
road which, by looking at the stars overhead, I judged ran inland, we
reached a farm-house, standing a little back from the road.  The
smuggler knocked with his fist at the floor, but no one answered, nor
was any light seen through the windows.  We waited some further time
without receiving any answer to our summons.

"_Morbleu_!  I forgot the hour; they have all gone to bed.  I must knock
again," said he, giving several thundering blows on the door.

At length a female voice asked who was there.

"It is Captain Didot and a friend; open quick, good Madeleine," he said
in French.  "We are tired and hungry and sleepy, and wish to be inside
instead of outside your door."

"Ah! it is you, Monsieur Didot, I know full well," answered the voice.
"I will let you in."

We were, however, kept some time longer, and at last the door opened,
and a young woman made her appearance, dressed in a high white cap and
short petticoats, dark woollen stockings, and wooden shoes, but very
neat and trim.  I had never before seen a woman in so odd a rig.  She
smiled a welcome to my companion, and shutting the door behind us, a
good deal of talking took place; but though I could manage to make out
Captain Didot's French, I did not understand a word she said.  We then
went into a nice clean parlour, with a red-brick floor, and sat down and
talked again.  Suddenly, up jumped the lady in the high cap, and after
an absence of ten minutes or so, returned with a tray covered with
eatables and drinkables.  I instinctively drew my chair to the table at
the sight without waiting to be bid, whereat our hostess smiled, and
observed that the _pauvre enfant_ was hungry.  Captain Didot took the
hint and helped me; nor did he forget himself; and setting to work, we
made a very capital supper.

"I must now be off," observed Monsieur Didot, as he came to an anchor;
"but before I go, I must give you a caution, Monsieur Englishman.  You
are not to make your appearance outside these garden walls for the next
fortnight.  If you attempt to get away, ill-will come of it.  Remember
that madame here will take care of you, and you may have as much fruit
to eat and wine to drink as you like; and now, good night, my friend.
You hear, do you not?"

I did hear; but I was so very sleepy that I could not recollect enough
French to answer him.  While he continued talking to madame, I dropped
off asleep in my chair, and for long in my dreams I heard the buzz of
their voices.  When I was at last awoke, by feeling a hand placed on my
shoulder, the smuggling captain was gone.

"Come," said the good-natured woman; "you want rest, my boy;" and taking
a candle, she led me into a neat little room with a comfortable bed in
it, where I very soon forgot myself in slumber.

The next morning, when I turned out, I found that I was an occupant of a
comfortable farm-house, with a garden attached, full of fruit-trees and
vegetables.  An old man and his wife made their appearance, and I
discovered that the young woman who had received us the previous night
was their daughter.  While we were at breakfast, I heard the old couple
complaining of Captain Didot for having brought me there.  They
evidently fancied that I did not understand French.

"He will be getting us into trouble with his tricks, one of these days,"
remarked the old lady.  "Ah!  Madeleine, my daughter, it would be much
wiser in you to have nothing more to say to him."

Mademoiselle looked very glum, as if she did not like the counsel.  I
pretended to be deeply absorbed, discussing the fresh eggs and other
eatables placed before me.

"Ha, ha!" thought I to myself; "I see how the wind blows.  They will not
dare, then, to keep me a prisoner longer than I like to stay.  Well, I'm
very comfortable here at present; so I will spend a day or so with the
good people."

I saw that I was narrowly watched wherever I went; but I did not forget
the French skipper's advice to take advantage of the fine fruit with
which the garden abounded.  When Madeleine saw that I was apparently
contented, we became very good friends; and I must own that I spent the
day not unpleasantly.  I began, however, to reflect that I had no
business to remain where I was if I had the power of getting away; so I
turned in my mind how I could best make my escape.  I guessed that to do
so would not be quite so easy as at first appeared; for I had observed a
labourer continually near me, and I remarked that whenever I went to a
distant part of the garden his occupation invariably took him in the
same direction.

"Somehow or other I must manage to make a run for it," thought I to
myself; but when I came to examine the locality, I found that the garden
was surrounded with fields and ditches; and though I might swim across
the latter, I should certainly have been caught and made very
uncomfortable and dirty into the bargain.  I therefore gave up that
idea, and amused myself in the best way I could.  I helped Mademoiselle
Madeleine in her poultry-yard and dairy, looked in on the old lady
employed in her culinary affairs, walked over the farm with the old man,
and chatted in my somewhat unintelligible French, with every one I met.
Happening to go into my own room in the evening, I found the window
open, and looking out, I saw that the height from the sill to the ground
was not more than from twelve to fifteen feet.

"Ho, ho!" thought I; "it will be a foolish bird which can't get out of a
cage like this; but I will bide my time."  I hurried away, and ran
downstairs, where I was soon after summoned to supper.  I made myself
quite at home, and did not fail to do justice to the meal.  The
household went to rest early, and as soon as I fancied every one was
asleep I got up from my bed, where I had thrown myself, and reconnoitred
the ground.  To avoid the risk of laming myself by a jump, I tied my
sheets together, and secured them to the leg of a table, which I managed
to jam between the shutter and the wall so as to prevent its slipping;
and placing my hat tightly on my head, and buttoning up my coat, I let
myself quietly down to the ground.  I was afraid of awakening some one
in the house should I run, as I felt inclined to do; so I crept softly
away, till I had got to some distance, and then took to my heels, as
fast as I could go, in the direction of the town or fishing village
where I had landed.  After going for some distance, I thought that I
must have missed my way; but the murmur of the water on the beach
assured me that I had taken the right direction.  At last I found myself
among some straggling cottages, my nose helping me to find the locality
I was in search of.  My first care was to look out for the lugger, to
avoid her.  Much to my satisfaction, she was not there, neither was any
one moving on the quay; so I walked about till I found a shed somewhat
less odorous than its neighbours, where I determined to take up my abode
till daylight.  Here I quickly made myself a nest with some ropes and
spars--albeit not a very soft one,--and fell fast asleep.  Having the
necessity of being alert on my mind, I awoke just as dawn was breaking,
and, jumping up, I ran down to the quay.  The flapping of a sail told me
that some one was astir, and, looking round, I saw at the end of the
quay a cutter preparing to get under weigh.

"Cutter ahoy!"  I sung out, running the chance of anybody understanding
me.  "Where are you bound for?"

"Hillo; who are you?" asked a voice in English.

"I want a cast across the Channel," I answered.

"Well, come aboard, and we'll see what we can do for you," said the same
speaker.

I accordingly ran along the quay, and jumped on the cutter's deck just
as her last warp was cast off.  I had a rough Flushing coat buttoned up
close round me; and as I had on also a low tarpaulin hat, I thought I
looked the character I wished to assume.  The people on board were
likewise too busy to afford me more than a passing glance as I sprung on
deck.  A rough, weather-beaten old fellow, with one eye, who, from the
orders he issued, I knew to be the master, stood at the helm.  His crew
consisted of seven hands--strong, active-looking fellows,--many more
than the craft required to work her.  This circumstance at once made me
suspect that she was not over honest.

"Faith," thought I to myself, "this isn't the best place in the world
for a revenue officer to find himself in."

But it was now too late to get oh shore again.  The headsheets were let
draw, the main eased off a little, the peak hoisted up, and, with a fair
breeze, the cutter glided out of the harbour.

"Well, youngster, you were not long in making up your mind about
coming," said the old skipper, scrutinising me, I thought, pretty
narrowly from head to foot.  "What place are you bound for, eh?"

I told him Ryde, in the Isle of Wight.

"Well, we'll put you ashore at the back of the Wight; I suppose that
will do for you?" he answered, in a good-natured tone.

I thanked him for his offer; and we went on talking very amicably for
some time, till we had run some fifteen miles from the coast.  I think,
from the first, the old man had some suspicions of me; but I had acted
my part well, and I fancied that I had succeeded in lulling them.

Just as I thought all was right, as ill-luck would have it, I happened
to want to use my pocket-handkerchief, and in searching for it I
incautiously threw open my jacket and exposed my uniform buttons to
view.

In the first place, the sort of boy I pretended to be would not have
possessed such an article as a pocket-handkerchief; and I ought to have
remembered that the sight of the crown and anchor would not be
acceptable to persons of my friends' vocation.

"Why--hullo, youngster! who are you, I should like to know?" exclaimed
the old skipper, seizing me by the arm, and giving me no gentle shake.

"He's a spy, surely, and no mistake," cried several of the crew.  "Heave
the young shrimp overboard."

"Overboard with him!" exclaimed the rest in chorus.  "We'll teach the
Government to send their whelps to hunt us out in this fashion."

I own that I began to feel very uncomfortable; for the threatening looks
of the fellows were in no way calculated to lessen my apprehensions.
Now my feelings always prompt me to try and escape from a dilemma by at
once candidly confessing the truth.  I therefore acknowledged that I
belonged to a revenue cutter, and explained what had occurred.

"I only obeyed the orders of my superior officers in attacking the
lugger," I observed, in as bold a tone as I could manage to muster.
"Her people carried me off against my will; and, as I wanted to get
home, I came aboard you; but I never thought of doing you or any of your
friends harm, if I could help it.  How am I to blame, then?"

"Never listen to his chaff; heave him overboard, I say," growled out one
of the men.

"Thank you all the same, master," said I, looking him as boldly as I
could in the face; "but I'd rather stay aboard till I can get put
decently on shore, and not have to swim there, as you would have me do."

"Swim!  By God, you wouldn't swim long, I expect," said the ruffian.

"Faith, I've no fancy for trying, either," I answered.  "If I intended
treachery, do you think, masters, I should have put myself in your power
as I have done? just answer me that."

"Well, now, I don't think as how you would," exclaimed the old skipper.
"You're a brave lad anyhow, and deserve a better calling than trying to
injure poor fellows who are just doing their best to make a honest
livelihood for their families."

"Well," said I, seeing the favourable impression I was making, "I'm
going soon to be appointed to a frigate on a foreign station, so there's
little chance of my falling in with you again.  If you kill me you will
be hung, that's certain, for murder is always out some day or other."

"Don't be coming any of your Irish blarney over us," growled out a
sour-looking ruffian.  "If you're a spy, overboard you go, that's all."

"I'm no spy," I answered in an indignant tone.  "All I ask of you is to
put me on shore anywhere at the back of the Wight, and I'll give you my
word none of you will be the worse for my being here."

The skipper gave an approving nod as I pleaded for my life.  Some of the
ruffians seemed to give way.

"Just tell me, then, what harm can a small chap like me do you?"  I
continued.  "How do I know what you've got on board, or what you're
going to do with it.  Be good-natured fellows now, and if I can ever do
you a good turn, I will."

"Oh, come, let the little chap alone; there's no harm in him, I'm sure!"
exclaimed one of the smugglers, slapping me on the shoulder.  "Cheer up,
my lad; we'll do you no harm."

The others soon came round, and shaking me by the hand, declared that I
was a brave little cock, and they only wished I was one of them.

A coarse but plentiful dinner was soon afterwards placed on the deck,
the chief part of it appearing in a square iron pot, round which we sat
as merry as crickets; and there was I hob-nobbing with a band of
smugglers as if we were the best friends in the world.

Towards evening we made the land, no cutter being in sight.  I had a
sovereign and a few shillings in my pocket, which I offered the old
skipper, but he would receive nothing; and, as good as his word, as soon
as it was dark, he ran in and put me on shore not far from Shanklin.  As
there was some sea on the beach, all hands got not a little wet, but
they took it in good part, and wished me a hearty good-bye as I set off
to clamber up the cliffs.  I at length found a path which took me into
the high road; as soon as I reached it I began to make the best of my
way towards Ryde.  My legs ached, but I ran and walked as fast as I
could.  I had not proceeded far when I heard the sound of wheels coming
along the road.  A cart soon overtook me.

"Is this the road to Ryde?"  I asked.

"Yes, it be," said the driver.  "Be you going there?"

"If I can manage to get as far," I answered.

"Well, if you be tired, jump in, and I'll gie ye a lift; I be going most
of the way," replied the good Samaritan.  I obeyed with alacrity, and
took my seat by his side.  He was one of the substantial farmers who
abound in the island.  I gave him an account of my adventures, at which
he was much amused; nor did he seem to have any very great antipathy to
my smuggling friends.

"Lord bless 'e! they wouldn't have hurt your little fingers," he
remarked, when I told him how the crew of the cutter had threatened my
life.  He would not part from me till he had deposited me at the gates
of Daisy Cottage.  The lights were shining through the drawing-room
windows.  My aunt was sitting working, and sweet Alice Marlow had a book
before her.  They both looked very sad, I thought.  I tapped at the
window, which opened to the ground, to call their attention, and grinned
a "How-d'ye-do" through the glass.  No sooner did Alice see my face,
than letting her book fall, she gave a loud scream, as if she had seen a
spectre.

"Hillo! what's the matter?"  I exclaimed, shaking the handle of the
window.  "Let me in, aunt, please; I'm not a thief or a ghost, on my
word."  My aunt, more courageous than the little girl, had risen from
her seat, and my voice assuring her of my identity, she opened the door,
and I very soon convinced her and Alice that I was a living being by
kissing them both, and then devouring every scrap of supper she set
before me.  I found that, from Hanks' report, they had been led to
believe that the Frenchmen had knocked me on the head; and were mourning
for me accordingly.  My aunt was, I verily believe, employed in making a
black gown to put on for my sake.  My uncle had sailed again to look
after the lugger, so that I was able to enjoy the height of a
midshipman's felicity, a holiday on shore.  Three days afterwards the
_Serpent_ came back, having re-captured the lugger and two hundred tubs.
I saw Captain Didot, who was very angry at finding that I had escaped,
and vowed he would pay me off in a different coin, if he ever caught me
again.  I told him he might, if he ever did.



CHAPTER ELEVEN.

HANKS AND MY GHOST--HANKS' LEARNING--MYERS AGAIN--ESCAPES ONCE MORE--
APPOINTED TO A FRIGATE--PREPARE FOR SEA--MY SHIPMATES--SAIL FROM
ENGLAND--MESSRS. TRUNDLE AND CHISSEL--DICKY SHARPE AND A TALE OF A
BEEF-BONE.

On reaching Portsmouth, I took a boat and pulled off to the cutter,
which was lying out in the middle of the harbour.  Hanks was walking the
deck as I came alongside, but something having attracted his attention
in the direction of Gosport, he did not observe me.  Handing the boatman
a shilling, I jumped on board unnoticed, and just as Hanks turned round,
I stood before him, with my hand out ready to grasp his.  For an instant
the colour forsook his cheeks, and he stared at me without speaking,
rolling his eyes round as if he saw my wraith.

"Why, Hanks, old fellow! don't you know me?"  I exclaimed, bursting into
a loud laugh at his extraordinary way of receiving me.  My voice
convinced him that it was not my ghost which was offering to shake hands
with him.

"What, D'Arcy, my boy! is it you, indeed, come back to us after all?" he
cried, seizing both my hands in his own well-hardened paws.  "I'm glad
to see you, that I am, lad; we thought those scoundrel smugglers had
done for you.  It would have been just like them, to kill the smallest
of the lot.  But how did you escape?  Come, tell us all about it.  We've
had another brush with that rascal Myers: we are certain it was him.  He
had the daring to fire into us; killed one of our people, poor Tom
Darling, and wounded two, getting off into the bargain.  But we will be
even with him before long, and when we do catch him, we'll pay him off,
that's all.  Well I'm glad you escaped, that I am; but come below, and
let us hear the whole story."

In this way the kind-hearted fellow ran on.  Having been welcomed by
Growl, Scriven, and the rest of my shipmates, I went to report myself to
my uncle, who was in his cabin.  He seemed truly glad to find that I had
not become food for fishes, though he did not exhibit his pleasure
exactly in the same way Hanks had done.  When I was dismissed by him, I
dived down into our berth, and there, over a glass of his too-favourite
beverage, old Hanks listened to an account of my adventures.  "It was
the Cremona did it, after all!" he exclaimed, slapping my shoulder.  "I
told you it would stand you in good stead.  Stick to it, my lad, and
you'll become as great a man as that old chap Orpheus, I've heard tell
of, who made the beasts jig when he fiddled.  Who the gentleman was, I
can't say, except that he was one of Julius Caesar's generals, wasn't
he?"

I must observe that Hanks' knowledge of history, both ancient and
modern, was somewhat limited and confused; indeed he was impressed with
a notion that Julius Caesar, for whom he had a high respect, came over
to England somewhere in the last century, and having taken possession of
the country, was in his turn thrashed by William the Conqueror.  Of all
subsequent events till the time of Nelson, he professed total ignorance.

"Ah, Nelson was the chap who made the English!" he used to exclaim in
triumph; "and as for Nap, whom they talk so much about, what was he to
him, I should like to know.  Why, the little Frenchman couldn't put a
ship about in a steady breeze, I'll warrant; and as for handling her in
a gale, I doubt if he could have done it even if his crown depended on
it."

Hanks had no very great respect for science either.

"What do I care for your algebra and your trigonometry?" he one day
observed.  "I take my John Norie and my Gunter's Scale, and I work out
my day's work as well as any man; and what more should I want to know,
tell me?  Your mathematicians are all humbugs in my opinion, and that's
a fact."

I mention these little traits in Hanks' character, because I shall now
have to bid him farewell for a season.  He was a worthy fellow,
nevertheless; not without sense of a practical sort; a curious specimen
of a school now rapidly becoming obsolete.

Soon after this we were once more on our old cruising ground, to the
westward.  We had been a week or more knocking about, when it came on to
blow very hard from the south-west.  My uncle was not a man to be
frightened by a capful of wind; so, getting our storm-sails, we stood
off shore, and faced the gale like men; for this was just the weather
smugglers would choose to run across Channel, when they think no one
will be on the look-out for them.  Towards evening, however, it came on
to blow harder than before; so that at last we were obliged to up-helm
and run for shelter into harbour; but just as we were bearing up, a sea
struck the cutter, carried away our stern-boat, and stove in one of
those on our quarter.  In this squall the wind seemed to have worn
itself out; for before we had made the land it suddenly fell, and by
daylight a dead calm came on, followed by a dense fog.  When it cleared
somewhat, we found close to us another revenue cutter.  Her commander,
Lieutenant Simmons, came on board and told my uncle that he had been
directed to cruise in search of the _Kitty_ lugger, commanded by the
notorious smuggler Bill Myers.  "He has been adding wholesale murder to
his other performances," observed the lieutenant.  Two weeks ago, a boat
from the _Hawk_ cutter fell in with him at night.  He gave her the stem
and cut her in two.  Three of her crew climbed up the lugger's bows, but
were instantly knocked on the head and hove overboard.  The rest were
drowned, with the exception of one who clung to the wreck and was picked
up by the cutter the next morning.  This account made us more eager than
ever to catch Myers.  Another cruiser was sent down to assist us in our
search; but, though for several weeks we kept a sharp look-out after
him, he managed to escape us; and neither he nor the _Kitty_ was again
heard of on that coast.  I was destined, however, to fall in with him
again in another clime.

We were not sorry to get back to Portsmouth after all this knocking
about.  The first person I met on going on shore was Larry Harrigan.  He
had seen the cutter coming in, and had hurried down to the Point to meet
me.

"Oh, Master Neil, I've good news for you," he exclaimed, as I jumped out
of the boat and found myself in his arms, for he still looked on me as
the baby he had so carefully watched over.  "You are no longer to be
kept in that tub-hunting service, saving his honour your uncle's pardon;
but you are to go to sea in reality, in a fine, smart frigate, which
won't be letting the grass grow under her keel, I'll warrant."

"That's good news, indeed, Larry; where did you learn it?"  I asked.

"From no less a man than the Captain himself, and that's good authority,
you'll allow," he answered, in a tone of no little satisfaction.  "He's
a friend of your honoured grandfather's, and was a midshipman and
lieutenant on board two ships I served in.  He has been lodging in my
house for some months back; and when he heard who you were and who had
brought you up and given you your sea-learning, says he, `Larry, you've
made a seaman of him, that I'll answer for.  The lad shall go along with
me when I get a ship, for his grandfather's sake and yours too, old
friend.'  Those were his last words, Master Neil, they were indeed; and
he's kept his promise, as I knew he would."

This very satisfactory information Larry communicated on our way to
Southsea.  It was confirmed soon afterwards by my uncle, who followed me
up to Larry's house.  He, as I suspected, had also made an application
in my favour, and had just received a letter from Captain Poynder--which
was, I found, my future commander's name,--desiring me forthwith to join
his ship, the _Harold_, which was, however, still in the hands of the
dockyard people.  Though I would rather have gone afloat at once, this
was, I found, a great advantage, as I had thus an opportunity of seeing
her masted, rigged, and fitted for sea.  Officers are often glad to
shirk this, for it is far from pleasant work, and Portsmouth is not the
most delectable of residences.  I should advise all midshipmen not to
miss an opportunity of seeing a ship fitted out, if they possibly can.
They will find it will save them an immense deal of after trouble, and
prove the quickest way of gaining a knowledge of their future home.
Meantime Larry was as busy as a bee in getting my kit in order, aided by
his better half; and few midshipmen ever obtained so good an insight at
so cheap a rate.  I got leave to run over to Ryde for a couple of days
to wish my aunt and young cousins good-bye.  I asked after Alice Marlow.
I was in hopes of hearing that she was coming back to Ryde, that I
might see her before I sailed.  I blushed as I mentioned her name, and
had a curious palpitation about the region of the heart.  My aunt smiled
as she replied, "I am afraid, Neil, that I shall not be able to get my
young friend to come here again for a long time.  Mr Marlow writes me
word that he proposes going abroad and taking her with him.  But cheer
up; she will return here some day, I hope; and when you came back from
one of your voyages, you will find her with us, perhaps.  I should be,
indeed, very sorry if I did not expect to see the dear little girl
again."

My aunt was the kindest creature alive; and I was very certain that she
regretted that Alice was not there to bid me farewell.  I wished her and
my cousins good-bye.  They all cried a little, and so, in truth, did I;
for they were the only creatures I had to love in the world.  I,
however, quite recovered my spirits before I got half-way across to
Portsmouth.  My uncle came several times on board the frigate, and, had
I been his own son, he could not have taken more interest in me than he
did.  As for Larry Harrigan, he was on board every day, and all day
long, following me about to show me how everything was done, and why it
was done.  The first-lieutenant was a very worthy, kind man; and as soon
as he had heard Larry's history, he used to talk to him and encourage
him to come on board.  Greatly to Larry's delight, he gave me leave to
spend an evening sometimes at his house, and very pleasant evenings they
were.  The officers now began to join fast.  Lieutenants, mates, and
midshipmen were every day arriving.  We soon had our full complement of
men, and having got clear of the dockyard people, were ready to go out
to Spithead.

I was now to turn over a new page in the history of my career.  Although
I had gained a considerable amount of nautical knowledge, my experience
of life was somewhat limited; but henceforth it was to be enlarged and
extended, I trusted, over the greater part of the surface of the globe.
For the present, the lands of the myrtle and vine were to be our
destination--the shores of the Mediterranean; and the man must indeed be
difficult to satisfy who is not pleased with their varied and glowing
beauties.  Our gallant ship; our berth, so long our home; my messmates,
as well as our superior officers and men, merit description.  I will
touch on each of them in their turn.  First I will speak of our berth,
which was in truth somewhat different to the abodes of the naval heroes
of Great Britain of the rank of midshipmen, with which the public are
familiar.  Few, perhaps, are like it, though after we had been a year or
two at sea it had sadly been shorn of its glory.  Its brilliancy had
departed, and its polish was no more.  We happened to have a caterer,
who liked to have everything very natty about him, and who had
accordingly taken on himself to spend a few pounds in having our berth
neatly done up.  The bulkheads were painted of a salmon colour; there
was a gilt and blue moulding; a neat oilcloth over the table and
lockers; and at one end a buffet filled with plated dish-covers and
dishes, tumblers and wine-glasses, forks and spoons, and China teacups;
while two swing-lamps hung from the deck above.  It afforded a contrast,
certainly, to the times of the old school, when a purser's dip was stuck
in a black bottle, and battered tin cups served alternately for grog and
tea and soup; but though the language of the occupants of our berth was
somewhat more refined, and our opinions more liberal, I will venture to
say that the spirit to will and to do deeds of daring burnt not the less
brightly in our bosoms than in those of midshipmen of former times.
While I was at Ryde the ship's company moved out of the old _Topaze_,
alongside of which we were lashed, into the frigate; and the day after
several mates and midshipmen, with somewhat aristocratic pretensions,
joined us.  I got a hint, when I came back from Ryde, that they were
rather inclined to look down upon me as having been a cutter's
midshipman.

"They shan't cut me, at all events," said I to myself.  So as soon as I
got on board I went below, and taking the fiddle old Hanks had given me,
I sat myself down on my chest, and began playing away with all my might
a merry Irish jig.

"Hillo; who is the jolly fellow out there?" asked one of the new mates
from the berth.

"Oh, that's the Irish midshipman, D'Arcy," answered Onslow, a mate who
had sometime joined.  "Give us another tune, Paddy, that's a good boy."

On this I forthwith struck up "Saint Patrick's Day in the Morning," and
half a dozen other Irish airs.

"If no one objects, I'll sing, too, mates," said I, when I had played
out my tunes.

Without waiting for an answer, I locked up my fiddle, and taking my seat
at one end of the berth, I trolled out, with a very fair voice, several
songs which used to delight old Hanks and my other shipmates in the
cutter.  The effect was evidently good.  I showed my wish to please; and
though afterwards a few attempts were made to snub me, I took them all
in good humour, as if they were intended as jokes, and finally
established myself as a favourite with the mess, and I may, I believe,
honestly say, with nearly everybody on board.

As soon as possible we went out to Spithead, and joined a large squadron
under command of Sir Peppery Portfire.  We mustered altogether some
eighteen sail of vessels or more, and a very warlike appearance we made.
We were bound, we knew, for the Mediterranean; and we all looked
forward with no little satisfaction to our visit to that most favourite
of stations.

Our powder was next taken on board, with a further supply of stores, and
more midshipmen.  Among the latter, who should climb up the side but my
quondam friend Dicky Sharpe.  He did not see me, as I was aloft at the
time, and before I came on deck, he and his traps had gone below.  When
my watch on deck was over, I descended to our berth, where I found him
busily employed in cramming his new messmates, and endeavouring to raise
himself to a high position in their estimation.

"You see, my good fellows, it isn't everybody has got a Minister for a
cousin, and a Lord of the Admiralty for an uncle," he remarked in a
consequential tone, as I got to the door of the berth.

"And I don't think you have either, Dicky, my boy," said I, laughing.
"But I am very glad to see you, notwithstanding; but don't be after
bamboozling us jolly greens now."

At first he attempted to look very indignant at the attack made on his
veracity; but no sooner did he recognise me than his good feelings got
the better of his love of trying to make himself of importance; and
jumping up, he seized my hand and wrung it warmly.

"Why, D'Arcy, is it you yourself, indeed?" he exclaimed.  "I am
delighted to find you here, I am indeed.  Why, messmates, if it hadn't
been for D'Arcy I should have been food for fishes; I should, on my
word.  Think what a loss the service would have had."

A loud laugh from all hands followed this remark, though I verily
believe Dicky spoke in all gravity; but the fact that I had been the
means of saving his life thus came out.  It raised me, I had afterwards
reason to know, in the good opinion of all on board; and Dicky himself
gained many friends by the feeling way in which he spoke of it.  I was
very soon seated alongside him in the berth, and our tongues were
rattling away as fast as they could wag.

Dicky's propensity to brag, amusing as it was to others, was continually
getting him into scrapes.  We had an old mate, Adam Stallman by name,
who was proportionably as tall, grave, and silent, as Dicky was little,
merry, and loquacious.

One day Dicky having thrown a biscuit at me, which, unfortunately, hit
Adam's nose, the latter looked at him sternly.

"Sharpe, you are small," he exclaimed; "but cobbing was invented to make
midshipmen grow, and I intend to make you grow."

"Then, faith, Stallman, I suspect your mother began cobbing you as soon
as you were born," answered the undaunted Dicky.

Adam's hands had been busy under the table with his handkerchief; now,
suddenly leaning forward, he grasped Dicky by the crop of the neck, and
before he had time to expostulate, he had him in such a position that he
could apply with the greatest effect the instrument of torture he had
manufactured.  As all the oldsters sided with Adam, the youngsters dared
not interfere; and poor Dicky was held in that undignified position
while other handkerchiefs were knotted, and before he was cast loose he
received a cobbing which made him treat ever afterwards all the oldsters
with abundant respect.  But Dicky, if he did not forget, did what was as
wise, he forgave; and I do not think he nourished the slightest ill-will
against his cobbers.

Of Captain Poynder I have spoken.  He was a worthy man and a good
officer; and if he had a fault, it was not being sufficiently strict.

Then comes Johnny Du Pre, our gallant First.  I have still an
affectionate regard for Johnny, though many an hour have I spent at our
masthead at his instigation; while Dicky, promoted by the like
authority, was taking sights at me from another.  We were sent there not
without cause, I own, and still the amount of moral turpitude which
gained us that elevated distinction was not such as to make me blush as
I think of it, or to make me anxious to conceal it from the public.
Neither as a first-lieutenant nor as a man was Lieutenant Du Pre
perfect; but who is there with whom one cannot find a fault.  He was
kind-hearted, a fair seaman, and anxious to do his duty.

But our second lieutenant, Basil Vernon, was still more worthy of
notice.  Refined and elegant both in person and manners, he appeared, at
first sight, to be what is called a fine gentleman; but kind-hearted,
brave, and generous almost to a fault, a first-rate seaman and officer,
a better fellow never stepped, nor one more beloved by all classes
afloat, as well as by all who knew him on shore.  I soon became very
much attached to him, and would have gone round the world to do him a
service.  Many times did he save me from punishment when I specially
deserved it.  He was indeed very far from being one of those fine
fellows whom no ordinary mortals can approach; for he had a heart tender
as a woman's, and he would as readily sympathise with the grief of the
smallest middy, as with the sorrow or suffering of the roughest tar on
board.  He was a sincere Christian too, and, what was more, was not
ashamed of his Christianity.  He exhibited his principles in his
practice--in the daily duties of life,--till he taught the most profane
and profligate to respect him, if not to adopt them.  I wish there were
more Basil Vernons in the service.  Thank Heaven! there are some shining
lights to lighten us in our darkness--leaven, which gradually, though
slowly, may, by God's providence, leaven the whole mass.

Our third lieutenant, Hugh Summers, wrote poetry, talked sentiment, and
dreamed dreams, and required a flapper to remind him when to put the
ship about at times; but when once aroused into action, he was as
energetic as any one, and had plenty of resources on an emergency.

The master, surgeon, and purser, were also very good fellows in their
way, and if not shining ornaments, were no disgrace to His Majesty's
service.

At last the pay-clerks came on board, and paid the ship's company.  A
fine bright morning saw the signal flying from the admiral's ship for
the fleet to weigh and work out to Saint Helen's.  There was a nice
working breeze, a blue sky, and the water just rippled enough to reflect
with more dazzling splendour the rays of the glorious sun, as he shed
them almost along the path we were to pursue.  It was, in truth, a
beautiful sight; and considering the number of ships--some eighteen sail
or more, all beating out together within so narrow a channel,--it was
surprising that much damage was not done, especially when it is
remembered that the crews of half the ships had never been to sea
before, and that the ropes were stiff and new, and did not work well.
One ship, I believe, carried away her flying jib-boom against the stern
of another; and with that slight loss, and a small expenditure of abuse
from the respective crews, who thought each other to blame, we reached
Saint Helen's.  The next day we were fairly off to sea; the fleet formed
in two lines, the White and the Blue Squadrons, which Sir Peppery
manoeuvred with much skill, to the no small trouble of the signal
midshipmen.  The second day, Ned Lenny, the young gentleman on board the
_Harold_ who held that office, vowed he must leave the service and go
into the Dragoons, if it was to be carried on in that way; though the
following morning he thought better of it.  He gained, however, the
_sobriquet_ of the Heavy, which, as he was a cocksparrow of a fellow, he
retained ever afterwards.  Captain Poynder was not inclined to save
either officers or crew till we got into good order, which we
accordingly did our best to accomplish.

After cruising for six weeks, we were ordered to Spithead to complete
our provisions, water, and stores; and then, having taken some
passengers on board, made all sail for our station in Mediterranean.

We had not been long at sea when Dicky and I, wearying of the daily
routine of duty, began to play pranks which were calculated to bring us
into trouble.  The boatswain, who rejoiced in the name of Timotheus
Trundle, was one of the most extraordinary of his class, though not a
bad boatswain for all that.  His appearance in foul weather was that of
a short lump of big coats and trousers, with a small red pumpkin growing
out of them.  On a nearer approach, one discovered in the said pumpkin a
pair of red, ferrety eyes, an excrescence for a nose, and a hole into
which his whistle fitted for a mouth, and on either side of it, on a
Sunday morning, two very high shirt-collars, they towards the end of the
week gaining a darker hue and an outward curve.  On the top of the
pumpkin was a round Spanish hat, the fluff of the catskin which composed
it being long enough to make a dozen beavers.  He wore, with
considerable pride, round his neck a handsome silver call and chain.
But with all his oddities, his enemies--and he had a few--were obliged
to confess that he knew and did his duty as well as any man in the ship.
Among his other qualifications, he was a bit of a sea-lawyer; not of
the cantankerous sort, however, for it might be more justly said that he
preferred sitting on the judicial bench, and he was ever ready to settle
all disputes either by arbitration or the rope's-end; indeed, in most
cases he had recourse to the latter, as being the most summary mode of
proceeding.  When his duty did not require his presence on his own
territory, the forecastle, he was fond of taking a walk on the
main-deck, alongside the carpenter's bench, for he was of a social
disposition, and delighted in what he called `rasheral' conversation.

Now, Ichabod Chissel, our carpenter, was another of those heroes of the
tongue, who pretend to know everything, and never fail in a story for
want of a little invention.  By his own crew, who looked up to him and
esteemed him for his sterling qualities, he was considered a first-rate
politician.  The two officers were tolerably good friends in general;
but a very slight thing would make them fall out, though they as
speedily patched up their quarrels again.

One day there was a light breeze and a smooth sea, and Trundle, not
expecting to be wanted, had repaired to the main-deck, where Chissel was
superintending his crew at work.  Dicky Sharpe and I happened to be
near, and observing that they were both more than usually excited, we
drew closer to see the fun going forward.

"Well, that was a storm as fierce as ever I did see," remarked Chissel.
"Why, there was a thunderbolt as big as six of my fists put together,
fell right through the decks, and out through the ship's bottom; and if
I hadn't been there to plug the hole, we should all have gone to Davy
Jones' locker, as sure as fate.  You was there, Trundle, and you know,
old ship, that I speak true."

"I was there!  Yes; but I know you speak a hanged lie, if you say that,"
exclaimed Trundle.

"What's that you say?" shouted Chissel, highly indignant at being told
he lied before all his crew, though he doubtless would have cared very
little about the matter, had the polite remark been made when the two
were alone.

Just then Mr Summers, who was the officer of the watch, sung out,
"Hands about ship!  Where's the boatswain?"

"Never in his station," observed Chissel, as Trundle, call in mouth, was
making his way forward.  "And very little use when he is there," he
added, either thinking the boatswain would not hear him, or caring very
little if he did.

Trundle caught the words just as he was going up the fore-ladder, and
though he could not just then take his pipe from his mouth to utter a
retort, he gave a fierce look with one of his ferrety eyes, which showed
that he acknowledged himself deeply in his messmate's debt.  His pipe
sounded more shrill than usual, as he could not give any other vent to
his feelings.

"There'll be a row before long between those two heroes, just you mark
that," said I to Dicky, as we both hurried off to our stations.

"Ay," said he, giving me a wink; "and I think I can put a spoke in their
wheel to help them along."

It was near twelve o'clock, the ship being put about, the decks cleared
up, and grog served out preparatory to dinner, when the boatswain made
his appearance before the carpenter, his anger in no way appeased.

"What's that you were saying about me, Mr Ichabod Chissel, I should
like to know?" he exclaimed, in an irate tone.

"Why, Mr Trundle, no man likes to have his ferocity (veracity?)
doubted, and if you goes for to affirm that I'm a liar--I don't mince
matters, you'll understand me,--why, all I've got to say is, that you're
the biggest speaker of untruths as ever was born, whoever the mother was
who got you.  Put that in your pipe, Mr Trundle, and smoke it."

This most insulting of all remarks increased tenfold the boatswain's
rage, and the two would have come instantly to fisticuffs, but that,
fortunately, at that moment the order to pipe to dinner was given.  The
boatswain's call came into requisition, and all hands, except the watch
on deck, were soon busily employed in discussing the contents of a cask
of beef, boasting of but a small proportion of fat or lean and a
considerable superfluity of bone.

Now it happened to be Dicky Sharpe's watch on deck while dinner was
going on, and at one o'clock, being relieved, he came down to his own
repast, which he was not long in discussing.  While he sat turning a
large rib-bone over and over, in disgust at finding so little meat on
it, and waiting for the boy to clear away, the boatswain, whose cabin
could be seen from the berth on the larboard side, roused up from a nap,
and began to contemplate his visage in his glass, to discover if he
looked in any way as if he had been asleep.  It must be understood that
it is contrary to the principles of a boatswain worthy of the rank ever
to require sleep.  He would consider himself disgraced in the eyes of
the whole crew, if he were caught taking a wink.  A regular-built
boatswain is often on deck from half-past three in the morning till
eleven at night, and should it be bad weather, or from any other cause,
frequently two or three times during the night also; and as to his
cabin, he merely looks in occasionally and keeps his donnage there.

Now, to do him justice, Trundle was a thoroughgoing boatswain.  While he
was rubbing his eyes, to get the sleepiness out of them, pulling up his
shirt-collar, and brushing back his hair, the demon of mischief put a
thought into Dicky Sharpe's head.  To conceive, with Dicky, was to
execute.  I happened to be descending from the main-deck, when I saw
Dicky standing at the door of the berth, with the rib-bone in hand, and
a wicked look in his eye.  I instantly perceived the state of affairs,
and divined what was to happen.  Away flew the bone across the deck,
with so good an aim that it made a cannon against the boatswain's nose
and his glass, breaking both one and the other with a loud crash, which
was followed by a volley of oaths.  The steerage of a frigate, even when
a sunbeam penetrates through a scuttle, is not over and above
brilliantly lighted; and on the present occasion a purser's dip here and
there just enabled us to grope our way about the deck.  Now it happened
that the carpenter at that moment was coming out of his berth, which was
nearly opposite the boatswain's.

"Oh! you blessed Chissel; I saw you heave that, you aggrawating
so-and-so," exclaimed Trundle, in a towering rage, exhibiting his
bleeding nose and broken glass.

"I never hove anything, and that you know, you so-and-so," answered
Ichabod, drawing near to his adversary.

"You did, though, you so-and-so," cried Trundle, doubling his fist, and
dealing Ichabod a hit on the eye which almost stove it in.

The blow was given back, and returned with interest, with expressions
not fit for ears polite, till the noses of both heroes were streaming
with blood, and their voices were hallooing away at the highest pitch.
Dicky was rubbing his hands in high glee at the successful result of his
experiment, when the captain, aroused by the hubbub, rang his bell to
know what was the matter.  This sound, like that of Oberon's magic horn,
instantly paralysed the combatants; and the sentry having put his head
into the cabin, and made some report which apparently satisfied the
skipper, the two warriors, like a couple of lions growling defiance at
each other, retired to their berths, to staunch their bleeding wounds,
and wash away the stains of the fight from their faces.

Here the first thing which met the eye of the boatswain, as he stooped
to pick up the fragments of his glass, was the missile which had
inflicted the injury.  Now, as the officers generally choose the long
ribs of beef for roasting, for which they pay one pound in six for the
good of the ship's company, and the boatswain had actually seen the
carpenter's servant carrying a piece of rib-beef for his master's
dinner, he felt perfectly satisfied who had thrown the bone.  Seizing
it, therefore, in his hand, with the fragments of his glass, and his
nose still bleeding, he rushed on deck, and halted, quivering with rage,
on the quarter-deck, in presence of the first-lieutenant.

"By Jupiter, what a wigging I shall get," whispered Dicky, in a terrible
funk.  "I say, D'Arcy, my boy, don't 'peach, though."

I cocked my eye, and, pointing to the masthead,--"Six hours a day for
the next week, eh!--pleasant, Dicky," I answered.

Master Dicky dared not show his face, lest his consciousness of guilt
might betray itself; for, though unable to resist doing a piece of
mischief when the temptation came in his way, he had not got the brazen
front of a hardened sinner.  I also, anxious as I was to learn the
result of the trial, was afraid of showing too great an interest in it,
lest suspicion should fall on me, and therefore walked the quarter-deck
at a respectful distance, picking up what information I could on the
way.

"What is this you have to complain of, Mr Trundle?" asked the
first-lieutenant, as he stood at the capstern-head, with the enraged
boatswain before him.

"Why, sir, as I was a-cleaning myself just now in my cabin, a-thinking
no harm of nobody, Mr Ichabod Chissel, the carpenter of this here ship,
sir, and my brother officer, thinks fit to heave this here rib-bone
right across the steerage against my nose and my glass, and breaks both
on 'em.  If that ain't enough to aggrawate and perwoke and--and--
and--(he stopped for a word) flabbergast any one, I don't know what is,
sir, you'll allow."

"Very much so, I grant," observed Mr Du Pre, taking the bone between
his fingers and holding it behind his back.  "Send Mr Chissel here."

The carpenter soon made his appearance.

"Pray, Mr Chissel, what part of the meat had you for your dinner,
to-day?" asked Mr Du Pre.

"The tail, sir," said the carpenter.

"What became of the bone after dinner?" asked the first-lieutenant.

"The boy cleared it away with the rest of the things, sir," was the
answer.

"Let the boy be sent for," said Mr Du Pre.

Bobby Smudge soon came rolling along, hitching up his trousers as he
approached the capstern.

There was a wicked look in the young rascal's eye, which made me suspect
he knew all about the matter.  He was the most complete little Pickle in
the ship, and was continually getting punished, and most deservedly too,
by his master.  The very day before, the carpenter had reported him, and
he had got eleven finnams on the hand for having, in conveying Mr
Chissel's grog from the tub to his cabin, being detected in the very act
of taking a hatchway nip--the said hatchway nip, let it be understood,
being a sip snatched furtively by the bearer of a glass of grog on the
ladder descending from the main to the lower deck.  A finnam, I must
also explain, is a blow inflicted on the hand, with a cane generally, by
the master-at-arms or the ship's corporal.  To the said finnams poor
Bobby Smudge's black paws were well accustomed.

"Boy, what was done with the bone after your master's dinner?" asked Mr
Du Pre, in a severe tone.

"I'm sure I don't know, sir," replied Bobby Smudge, in a long drawl,
worthy of a London professional street-beggar.

"Should you know it again if you saw it?" asked the first-lieutenant.

"Oh yes, sir; I'm sure I should," replied Master Smudge, brightening up
and looking the picture of innocent simplicity.

"Well, my boy, what do you say to this?" said Mr Du Pre, producing the
bone from behind his back.

All eyes turned towards Bobby Smudge: the carpenter's fate hung on his
decision.  The young monkey felt his importance, and determined to exert
it.  Chissel knew it was the very sort of bone he had scraped not an
hour before.  Bobby took it, and, turning it round, examined it
narrowly.

"Oh yes, sir; I'll swear to it, that I will," he exclaimed, holding up
his blistered hand behind his back so that the carpenter might observe
it.  "As I was a-trying to get my dinner off it, I notched it with my
knife, I knowed I did, 'cause there was so little meat on it."

"Oh, you wretched young liar," muttered the carpenter, for he dared not
speak aloud; "won't I pay you off, that's all?"

The boy heard him, and gave a grin of defiance.

"Mr Chissel, go to your cabin, and consider yourself under arrest,"
said the first-lieutenant; "I must report this affair to the captain.
The discipline of the ship cannot be thus trifled with; and officers
especially, who ought to know better, must not be allowed to set the men
so bad an example with impunity."

Saying this, Mr Du Pre resumed his walk on the quarter-deck, and I
hurried down to report what had occurred, to my chum Dicky.  At first he
was highly delighted at having escaped detection.

"Stop a bit, Dicky," said I; "I don't think you are quite out of the
fire yet.  It will never do to let the carpenter be disrated or
dismissed the ship for conduct of which he is innocent.  The truth must
come out; and, to my mind, honesty is the best policy."

"Well, but don't you see, D'Arcy, I shall get mast-headed and have my
leave stopped, and I don't know what else--all for shying a bone across
the steerage," argued Dicky.  "What business had the boatswain and
carpenter to hit each other, I should like to know.  If that stupid
Trundle had taken the joke in good part, there wouldn't have been all
this row."

I laughed outright at Master Richard's style of reasoning.

"That argument won't stand good with the skipper," said I.  "Now, come,
let me do the only thing which can set matters to rights; because it is
the right thing.  I'm a bit of a favourite with Mr Du Pre, I suspect;
and I'll go up to him at once, and tell him the truth.  If anything can
get you off, that will; and if the affair reaches the ears of the
captain, there will be a very serious row, I'm certain."

At last Dicky consented to my plan, and without waiting to let him
change his mind, I went on deck, where I found the first-lieutenant.

"I've got something to say about that beef-bone, sir," I began.

"What's that, Mr D'Arcy," he exclaimed, turning sharp round.  "When am
I to hear the last of that beef-bone?"

"Why, sir, it wasn't the carpenter threw it, but one of the midshipmen;
he couldn't help it, though.  No one could, I'm sure," I rapped out.

"Why, Master D'Arcy, I verily believe you're the culprit," he exclaimed,
looking at me steadfastly.

I detected, however, a smile in his eye, which showed that his anger was
not very serious; so I at once told him exactly how the matter had
occurred, and that Dicky had begged me to come and confess the truth and
intercede for him.  Master Sharpe was therefore sent for; and having
been severely reprimanded, was told that as soon as we got into harbour
his leave would be stopped, and was then ordered to the masthead for a
couple of hours, to sit there instead of on the stool of repentance.
The carpenter was released from arrest, on condition that he should keep
the peace.  The boatswain's nose mended in the course of a few days; and
though reminded of the outrage every time he attempted to shave before
his broken bit of looking-glass, he and Chissel soon patched up their
quarrel and resumed their former intimacy.  The person who fared worst
was Bobby Smudge, who, never a favourite with his master, now obtained a
double allowance of finnams, and a sly rope's-ending whenever
opportunities offered.  Bobby began to discover that revenge, though
sweet, may recoil on the head of the avenger, and become very bitter.
More ultimately came out of the beef-bone affair.



CHAPTER TWELVE.

REACH THE MEDITERRANEAN--MALTA--A RIDE ON SHORE--A BALL--A HEROINE--OUR
PARTNERS--MR. NIP AND HIS PARTNER--AN ODD EGG HATCHED--ADAM STALLMAN'S
ADVICE--THE RIGHT THING THE BEST THING.

Nothing of importance occurred that I remember during our passage across
the Bay of Biscay.  We had the usual heavy swells (though I have found
it as level as a fish-pond), a stiffish breeze for a day or so, which
gave us a cheery shove on our way, and light and variable winds and
calms, which latter let us roll till our yard-arms almost touched the
water, and effectually turned the landsmen inside out.  Ten days after
leaving Plymouth, we were in the latitude of Lisbon.  It was early
morning, and the land we were approaching was shrouded to common eyes by
a soft silvery haze, which allowed only a circle of blue sea to be
perceived round the ship, and a patch of about the same size of clear
sky overhead.  On the larboard bow was perceived a darker mass of mist,
which after some time resolved itself into the well-known form of the
Rock of Lisbon.  The wind being light and variable, we drew very
gradually inshore, till the mist suddenly lifting, as if at the command
of a magician, disclosed to us the splendid and fantastic scenery of
those rocky heights, as they rose proudly from the glittering ocean,
which was dotted with numerous sails of fishing-boats and coasters, and
here and there the canvas of some loftier merchantmen, making for the
mouth of the Tagus.  On the lower land, to the north of the Rock, was
seen the royal palace of Mafra--a curious huge pile, imposing from its
height and the large extent of ground it covers.  I do not, however,
intend to bother my readers with accounts of places and scenery, which
they may find much better described in numberless books of voyages and
travels.  The wind freshening and coming fair, we continued our course,
and, passing the Capes of Ortegal and Finisterre on the second day after
leaving the Rock, were off Cape Saint Vincent, immortalised in naval
memories by Sir John Jervis' great action, and since then, by the way,
by a very pretty bit of fighting under Charlie Napier, when he took
possession of Don Miguel's fleet with one half its size.  Cape Trafalgar
next came in sight, and was eagerly viewed by all hands, for, often as
one may gaze on its dark blue cliffs, the deep interest they inspire can
never fail; one is reminded that in their neighbourhood the glorious
navy of England, under the greatest of its chiefs, secured the freedom
of the world, and struck the blow which stopped the victor of
continental Europe in his wild career of conquest.  Peace to the names
of England's gallant defenders, who died for their country off
Trafalgar's Cape! and sacred be the memory of the immortal Nelson, our
meteor-flag of victory!--But, little Neil D'Arcy, where are you steering
for?  Has the sight of Trafalgar made you fancy you can do a bit of fine
writing?  Just get back, boy, to your usual style, and leave such
attempts to the pens of novelists and travellers.

It was near nightfall when we made the Rock of Gibraltar; and as we
passed through the Straits when I was snug below in my hammock, my
journal contains no description of that wonderful fortress.  When the
morning dawned, the high mountains of Spain were just visible in the
horizon; and the next land we sighted was the coast of Barbary,
somewhere to the westward of Tunis.  Six days after that we were in
sight of Sicily, when, after hauling off the coast, a gale sprung up,
and such thick and cloudy weather came on, that we could take no
observations.  The ship was therefore hove-to; and while sail was being
taken off her I got an ugly fall, which laid me up in my hammock for
several days.  During my illness, Dicky Sharpe was constantly with me,
whenever he was off duty, and we became greater friends than ever.

"Do you know, D'Arcy, I am really very much obliged to you for having
got me so well out of that scrape with the boatswain and the beef-bone!"
he said to me in a tone of confidence one day, after we had reached
Valetta harbour.  "I have not ventured to ask Mr Du Pre leave to go on
shore.  Do you think he would give it me?"

"I rather think not, Dicky," said I.  "Don't say a word about it for
some time to come, and then you can begin to look dull and melancholy,
and to pine for the shore; and perhaps his heart will soften with
compassion, and he will give you leave."

"Capital advice!  Won't I look melancholy, that's all, when the time
comes?" he exclaimed.  "How soon ought I to begin?"

"Not till I'm well and can go on shore to look after you," I answered.

The fact was, I wanted Dicky's company when I could go on shore myself,
which the surgeon told me I might do in a few days; and when asking for
myself, I intended putting in a word with Mr Du Pre in his favour.
When I crawled on deck I found the ship had taken up her moorings in
Dockyard Creek, a branch of the Grand Harbour, from which it runs at
right angles, on the opposite side to Valetta.  Most deservedly is the
Grand Harbour so called, for in beauty, size, and security it is
unsurpassed; and it is singular that it should exist in an island of
dimensions so limited.  Malta has an individuality of its own.  It is
like no other spot in the world; and when one looks at the magnificent
lines of batteries, bristling with cannon, and the mass of churches,
monasteries, and houses, which towers above them, one can scarcely
believe that the whole has been hewn out of the solid rock of which the
island is composed.  But I am not going to describe Malta.  In three or
four days more I was quite well, and having succeeded in obtaining leave
from Mr Du Pre for Dicky to accompany me on shore, we landed at the Nix
Mangiare steps, and took our way through the town.  The first thing we
did was to hire horses to take a ride into the country.  Both of us
could stick on pretty well (what midshipman cannot?); but as for
science, we had none of it.  At first we trotted on gaily enough, and
then our horses broke into a gallop, which we enjoyed very much.

"Capital goers, these!" exclaimed Dicky.  "If they keep up at this rate,
I vote we take a regular circuit of the island."

"Faith, then, I'm ready for that same," said I; and on we galloped.

So delighted were we at the way our steeds went, that we sat the saddles
and held our reins rather loosely.  On a sudden they both came to a full
stop, and up simultaneously went their heels in the air.  Over their
heads we flew, and alighted some dozen yards off; while the well-trained
beasts, with neighs of derision which were truly provoking, galloped
back to their stables, leaving us to find our way into Valetta as best
we could.  By-the-bye, the horse-master had taken very good care to get
paid first.  Dicky sat up on the ground and rubbed his head, to discover
if it was broken.  I followed his example, and finding no bones
dislocated, my spirits rose again.  We looked at each other, when there
appeared something so ludicrously forlorn in the expression of our
countenances, that we both burst out into fits of laughter.  We indulged
in our mirth for some time, and then got up and commenced our walk back
into the town.  Fortunately we had not got any very great distance from
the walls, so the walk was easy of accomplishment.  We had proceeded
about a mile or so, when two midshipmen hove in sight, galloping along
in high glee on the very horses which had just disburdened themselves of
us.

"Hillo! you fellows, those are our horses," sang out Dicky; "just get
off now, will you?"

But he might as well have called a whirlwind to halt; for
helter-skelter, past us they dashed, without minding us a bit.  Dicky
was highly indignant.

"Well, I never was so treated in my life!" he exclaimed.

"Wait a bit," said I; for I had a shrewd suspicion that the horses would
play their present riders the same trick they had served us; and sure
enough, in about ten minutes, we heard a clattering of hoofs behind us,
and, looking round, saw the knowing old steeds coming, galloping along
by themselves.

"Now, now's the time, Dicky," I sang out.  "You catch one and I'll catch
the other, and we'll still have our ride out.  The horses are ours,
there's no doubt of it."

Sooner said, however, than done.  The beasts came on very steadily till
they got close to us, and then they began rearing and frisking, and
kicking up such a dust that it was impossible to catch hold of their
bridles; and, it must be confessed, we were glad enough to get out of
their way without being trampled over.

"Where are the brutes?"  I asked, feeling very foolish.

"Where are they?" echoed Dicky, looking the same.  "There they go, as
steady as cart-horses.  Hang it! they knew we were midshipmen."

Our only satisfaction was to see a third set of riders come out on the
same brutes, and to be able to laugh in our sleeves, while we wished
them a pleasant ride across the island.  What became of all the riders I
don't know.  The steeds again passed us just before we reached the
gates.--Three or four evenings after this, the officers of the ship were
asked to a ball, and the captain took Dicky and me.  We did not know
anybody, and were hard up for partners, till the skipper introduced us
each to a Maltese girl.  They were both very short, though that was a
fault on the right side; but they were also very fat and very dark, and
could not speak a word of English; and one squinted, and the other had
lost an eye.  Their noses turned up, and their lips were thick and
large.  They were not beauties, certainly; but we danced with them all
the evening, changing every now and then for variety, though I had to
look hard to make out which was my original partner, as I only knew them
apart by the defect in their eyes.  Dicky asked me if I didn't think
them as pretty as Alice Marlow, at which I very nearly knocked him down
in the ball-room.  But he appeased me by assuring me with the greatest
gravity, that he admired the squinting one very much, and should
certainly, if he were older, make her Mrs Sharpe.  He did nothing but
talk about her for two days afterwards; and, as we did not know her real
name, we called her Miss Smaitch, which, though not euphonious, did as
well as any other.  On the third day he dined with an officer in the
dockyard who had a numerous family of daughters, to one of whom he
transferred his affections, and they remained steady for nearly a week,
about which time we left Malta.  To return to the ball, however.  When
Dicky and I were not dancing, we amused ourselves by watching what was
going forward, especially in observing the occupations of our superior
officers.

"I say, D'Arcy, who is that young lady Mr Vernon is dancing with, I
wonder?  She is a stunner, isn't she, my boy?" said Dicky, sidling up to
me, and pointing with his chin towards a very beautiful girl, to whom
our second lieutenant had just then given his hand, and was leading up
to form a quadrille.

There was a roseate blush on her cheek, and a brightening glance in her
eye, as she looked up at the gallant officer, which betokened more than
ordinary satisfaction at being chosen his partner in the dance.  The
colour increased, and the eyes brightened still more, while a smile
played round her ruby lips, as Mr Vernon uttered, in a low tone, a few
words in her ear.

Dicky observed it.  "I twig something there," he whispered.  "What will
you bet me, D'Arcy, that Mr Vernon doesn't splice that same young lady,
now?  It's a regular case, depend on it.  I thought there was something
going on, he's been so constantly on shore since we came into harbour.
He's a right good fellow, and I wish him joy."

"I hope, if it is a case, that he'll not marry till the ship is out of
commission," I remarked.  "I should be sorry indeed to lose him.  But we
must not talk so loud, or we shall be overheard."

Just then the captain came up, to make Dicky dance with Miss Smaitch.  I
was left alone to watch proceedings.  From what I saw, I was fully
convinced that Master Sharpe's conjectures were well founded, and that
Mr Vernon and the fair unknown were certainly deeply in love with each
other, and most probably engaged.  She certainly, as far as I could
judge from mere appearance, was well worthy the love of any man.  Young
as I was, she made a deep impression on me; and even at this distance of
time I can bring her Hebe-like figure before me, with almost the vivid
colours of reality.  She was not tall, but her figure was full of grace
and life.  Her complexion was beautifully fair; her eyes were blue; and
the expression of her countenance was soft, feminine, and full of
sweetness; at the same time, the arch smile which occasionally played
over it showed that she was not destitute of sense and wit.

While I was looking on, I was joined by Adam Stallman, one of the senior
mates of the _Harold_.  I have slightly mentioned him before.  He was of
a somewhat grave and taciturn disposition, but generous and kind, and as
brave and honourable as any knight _sans peur et sans reproche_.  He
read much and thought more, and was ready to give good advice when asked
for it; but innate modesty prevented him from volunteering to afford it,
except on rare occasions, when he saw that it was absolutely necessary
to preserve a person from following a path which might lead him to ruin.

Dicky and I were favourites of his; for though he kept us in order, and
more than once had inflicted a sound cobbing on my chum (certainly well
deserved), he was very kind to us.

"I say, Stallman, can you tell me who the young lady is with whom Mr
Vernon is dancing?" said I.

"Why do you ask?" he inquired.

"Because she is very beautiful," I replied.

The colour heightened on his generally impassive, well-bronzed features,
as his eye fell on the lady whom I indicated.  "Yes," he answered, with
a firm voice, "that lady is Miss Blanche Norman, the daughter of Major
Norman, who is out here for his health.  But wouldn't you like to dance,
youngster?"

I told him that I had been engaged by the captain to dance with Miss
Smaitch Number 2.

"Well, come to me if you want a partner," he said, and moved on.

I saw him soon afterwards go up and shake hands with Miss Norman.  His
lip momentarily quivered, I saw; but his countenance otherwise remained
firm.  She received him as an old acquaintance, and seemed glad to see
him.

I took it into my head that Adam was in love with her, or had been; but
that, as he had little besides his pay to depend on, he could not
indulge a dream of marrying.  From what I afterwards learned, I was
right in this conjecture.  Poor fellow! he had loved her well and
deeply, but he had never told his love.  She might have suspected his
attachment, but with the tact and delicacy of a right-minded woman, she
did not allow him to discover that she did so, but endeavoured, by the
frank kindness of her words and manner, to take away the bitterness from
the wound she was inflicting.  I do not mean to say, however, that at
the time I knew this, but I made a pretty shrewd guess at the truth.

In a little time Dicky came hurrying up to me with a look full of
importance.

"I say, D'Arcy, I've found out all about it.  I heard our medico tell
Old Nip (meaning the purser) that Vernon proposed a few days ago to Miss
Norman, and was accepted; so they are regularly engaged, you know, and
he has a right to dance with her as often as he likes.  What fun for
him!  I know that I should like to be in his place.  That's her father:
not the tall man with the white hair, but the shorter one next him.  He
looks almost too young to be her father, doesn't he?  Perhaps his being
ill makes him look so.  They are soon going home; but they are to stop
at Gibraltar, so the doctor says."

"I am afraid you've been an eavesdropper, Dicky, to hear all this," I
observed; "and that, you know, is not a very creditable character."

"I know that as well as you do," he answered; "but I could not help
myself, for I was jammed up in the refreshment room between two fat
Maltese ladies and the supper-table, and I couldn't have moved without
the risk of staving in their sides with my elbows.  Old Nip and the
medico were on the other side of them, sipping their negus, and didn't
see me."

"That's all right; and small blame to you, Dicky," said I.  "Well, I
heartily wish Mr Vernon joy; and if his love don't run smooth, and he
ever wants a helping hand, I only hope he'll let me give it him."

"There's nothing I should like better too, independent of my regard for
Mr Vernon," observed Dicky, pompously.

I remember that we long discussed the probabilities of Mr Vernon's
requiring our services; and we came to the conclusion that, though we
should be delighted to help him to obtain the lady's hand in any way he
might require, in principle the running away with a lady was decidedly
wrong.

The subject was changed by our seeing the purser lead out one of the fat
ladies, behind whom Dicky had been hid, to attempt a waltz.  Never was
there a more extraordinary performance.  Neither of them had a notion of
the dance.  They floundered and flolloped, and twisted and turned, and
tumbled against all the other couples, till they spread consternation
around; and at last found themselves the sole performers in the room.
As poor Nip went twirling round, much in the way that a child's
humming-top does when it begins to stagger preparatory to stopping, he
perceived a suppressed laugh on the lips and in the eyes of the
surrounding spectators; and suspecting that he might be the cause of it,
gave a convulsive gripe at his partner's waist, or at the part where her
waist should be, in order to bring himself to an anchor.  The effort was
too great for his powers, and both he and she came with a run to the
floor, close to where Dicky and I were standing.  There they kicked and
struggled in vain efforts to rise.  At this Dicky could no longer
contain himself, but, regardless of the purser's anger, burst into a
loud fit of laughter.  However, we ran forward to do our best to get the
hero and heroine on their legs again, though we were too much convulsed
to be of much assistance.

"I'll pay you off for this, Master Sharpe," whispered the purser,
looking up fiercely.

"I couldn't help it, indeed I could not," answered Dicky in an
apologetic tone; "you did look so funny."

"I'll wring your ears off, you young puppy," cried poor Nip, rising and
shaking himself, in his rage forgetting the fair sharer of his
misfortune.

"Look to your partner, Mr Cheesnip," said Captain Poynder, coming up,
and guessing the cause of the purser's anger.  "Here, Sharpe, help me to
put the lady on her legs."

By some pulling and hauling, and by others shoving behind, we got Madame
Cheesnip, as we ever after called her, into a perpendicular position;
but she was too much shaken to dance again, especially with the cause of
her misfortune.  Indeed, for the rest of the evening the ladies fought
very shy of poor Nip, and we took good care to keep out of his way.
Dicky and I stayed to the last, spending our time very satisfactorily
between our two partners and the refreshment and supper rooms; and I am
afraid to mention the vast amount of sandwiches, cakes, and bonbons
which Dicky consumed, washed down by cups of coffee, lemonade, and
negus.  At length, when nearly everybody was gone, with the exception of
a few other midshipmen, and the musicians could no longer wag their
bows, we deemed it time also to retire.  We had got leave to stay on
shore, but it just then occurred to us that we had forgot to order our
beds.

"Never mind," said Dicky; "we are certain to find them at some hotel or
other."

As we were putting on our cloaks, we found that there were five or six
more midshipmen belonging to other ships in the same predicament as
ourselves.  To get beds at that hour of the morning, we discovered was
not so easy, as all the Hotels, from some cause or other, were full.  We
hunted about for some time, and were proposing trying to get on board
our ships,--though Dicky Sharpe declared he should take up his berth
inside one of the casks generally found down on the shore of the
harbour, with their heads off; but we advised him not, as they are the
usual abode of the beggar boys who infest Nix Mangiare stairs, and would
be apt to have more inhabitants than one,--when some of the party who
were on ahead, shouted out that they had found as cozy a place of
shelter as they could wish.  We were in the upper part of the town,
which, as most of my readers probably know, is at a considerable
elevation above the water.  As it had lately begun to rain hard, and we
had no desire to wander farther, there was a general rush made to the
front.  The cozy place to which we were invited, turned out to be an old
family coach, which was standing at the top of a narrow lane intended to
be used only by foot passengers.  However, it was a place where some
midshipmen had lately amused themselves by galloping up and down; but,
to prevent such an exhibition of horsemanship, a guard had been
stationed at the bottom, to prevent any similar attempt for the future.
But to return to the coach.  The first comers had taken possession, and
one after the other the rest scrambled in, till by the time Dicky and I,
who were rather behind, got up, it could hold no more: at all events
those inside decided that such was the case.  This was not what we had
bargained for, and neither of us was inclined to yield his right to a
share and shelter without a struggle.  The doors had not been shut; and
while Dicky boarded on one side, I tried to get in on the other.  Wet
caps and fists were dashed in our faces, but, undaunted, we strove on.
I had actually forced my way in, and was stretching over my hand to my
chum, who had got his feet on the step, when some one exclaimed, "By
Jupiter! she is under way."  And, sure enough, our struggles had set the
lumbering old vehicle moving.  On it went, rolling and rattling down the
steep pathway, which we had totally forgotten.  To get out was
impossible, without the certainty almost of knocking our heads against
the walls of the houses on either side, of being jammed between them and
the wheels, or of being run over.  We hauled Dicky in to save his life,
and away we all went together, the vehicle every moment increasing its
velocity.  The path, from sloping from each side to the centre, kept her
on a straight course, or we should have brought up against some steps,
or a kerbstone, and been saved from the approaching catastrophe.  But no
such good fortune was in store for us.  Rolling and rattling, and
screeching and creaking, and bumping and thumping, downward went the
carriage, we inside keeping up a chorus of shouts and shrieks.  Most of
us laughed; but one or two, who were strangers to the place, were in a
mortal fright, not knowing whether we might find a precipice at the
bottom, and be shot over, perhaps into the sea.  Very soon, too, we
reached some steps, down which we went, of course faster than ever, with
terrific bounds, till the cranky old vehicle could no longer stand the
unusual movement.

"Who goes there?" shouted the sentry at the bottom of the steps.

"Turn out the guard," echoed the sergeant, not able to make out the
cause of the unusual commotion.  Just then the carriage split asunder,
and sent us flying, with swords, dirks, and hats, in different
directions.

"Arrah, was ever such an egg hatched before?" exclaimed the sergeant,
who was an Irishman, running up and seizing hold of the first he could
lay hands on.  "Come, young gentlemen, I must march you off to the
guard-house."

"March the coach off, if you please, sergeant; but we are innocent, like
the new-hatched babes which we are," cried Dicky Sharpe, who was one of
those in custody.  "The order is against people on horseback coming this
way: we hadn't even horses to our egg-shell."

The sergeant, amused by the way Dicky took up his joke, and seeing there
was no use detaining us, consented not to molest us.  We then invited
ourselves to go to the guard-house, where we passed the remainder of the
night, with our cigars to comfort us.  I am sorry to say that we did not
go back to try and find the owners of the coach, that we might apologise
to them for having inflicted so much injury on their property, which we
ought certainly to have done.  We none of us thought anything more would
come of it.

"Oh!" said Dicky Sharpe, rubbing his hands, "the owners will think that
the old coach grew tired of waiting all by itself, so ran down the hill
to get warm."

We resolved therefore to say nothing about the matter.  The next day,
while it was my watch on deck, we were ordered to send a boat to bring
off a party of ladies from the shore.  Dicky, who belonged to the boat,
went in her.  As they reached the ship, and the sides were manned to
receive them, I saw that Mr Vernon was in the boat, accompanied by
Major and Miss Norman, and several other ladies and gentlemen.  The care
with which he handed her up the side, and the attention he paid her, as
he showed the party round the decks, convinced me still further that
what I had heard last night was the truth.  Adam Stallman accompanied
them; he was grave, but kind and courteous as usual, and seemed to take
great pains to answer all the questions, some of them not a little
ridiculous, which were put to him.  Mr Vernon invited him to join the
luncheon-party in the ward-room, so I did not see what followed.

As soon as the boat was hoisted in, Dicky came up to me.

"I say, D'Arcy," said he, "it's all blown, and we are in for it, I
guess."

"What's blown?"  I asked.

"Why, the coach affair, of course," he replied.  "As we were coming off
they were all talking of it, and Mr Vernon said he was very sure I was
one of the chickens, so there was no use denying it.  If it gets to the
captain's ears we shall have our leave stopped, and I shan't have a
chance of seeing little Miss Smaitch again."

We consulted long what was to be done, but could come to no decision on
the subject.  After the guests were gone, Adam Stallman came down into
the berth.

"Youngsters," said he, "I suspect both of you were engaged in the
destruction of the coach last night.  Is it not so?"

We confessed the truth, and told him exactly how it happened.

"Did you endeavour to find out the owners, and to make them all the
amends in your power for the mischief you had committed?"

We owned that we had not.

"You neglected your bounden duty, then," he observed.  "You should
recollect that every act of meanness committed by a British officer
brings discredit on the cloth.  When a man is guilty of a fault, he but
increases it if he neglects to make reparation for it.  Now, if I get
leave for you to accompany me on shore, will you follow my directions?"
We promised we would.  "Well then, we will find out the owners of the
coach, and you must go and tell them that you are very sorry for the
mischief you committed, explain how it happened, and beg their pardon.
I do not think you can exactly offer to give them a new coach; nor would
they expect it, probably."

At this Dicky looked very blue; but he could not escape from his
promise, and he soon mustered a sufficiency of moral courage to carry
him through the work.  I was, I own, very glad in being thus supported
in doing what I felt was right.

In the afternoon we went on shore, and set off at once to the scene of
our adventure: The fragments of the coach had been removed.  Climbing up
the lane, we made inquiries at the top--at least Adam, who spoke
Italian, did--for any family from the country who might be stopping at a
house near at hand.

"Oh, you want Signora Faranelli, whose coach was run away with last
night by some ragamuffins!" said the master of a small shop where we
inquired.

"The same," answered Adam.

"She and her daughters are staying with Signor Bianconi at the big
house, there."

Adam led us to the house indicated.

"I feel in a great funk," whispered Dicky; "don't you, D'Arcy?  What
shall we say?"

"The truth," said I.  "It's the only thing we can say.  Tell our tale
from beginning to end."

We sent in our cards, with a message to say that two naval officers
wished to speak to Signora Faranelli.  Adam said he should wait outside
for us, and told us to make haste.  We were speedily requested to walk
upstairs, and were ushered into a room full of company, when a very
pleasing, kind-looking lady came forward and inquired to what cause she
was indebted for the honour of our visit.  As I knew Sharpe would make
some mistake, I had offered to act as spokesman, and at once told the
whole of our tale.

"Oh, it was very naughty in the carriage to run away with you," she
replied, in a good-natured tone, in somewhat broken English; "and it was
very stupid in my servants to leave it standing on the top of the hill,
though but natural that you, on a rainy night, should take shelter
within it.  I had been told that it was purposely sent rolling down the
hill by a party of tipsy naval officers, and I was resolved to complain
of them; but the frank way in which you have come forward to explain the
matter removes all disagreeable feeling on the subject, and I am very
happy to make your acquaintance."

Dicky Sharpe drew a deep breath, as if some dire forebodings were
removed.  I don't know what he thought was going to happen to us.

"I must now introduce you to Signor Bianconi, and I am sure he will have
great pleasure if you can remain and spend the evening with us,"
continued the lady.  "I shall hope also to see you shortly at my house
in the country."

We thanked Signora Faranelli very much for her kindness, but explained
that we had a friend waiting outside for us, who had, however, nothing
to do with the carriage affair.  Of course Adam Stallman was requested
to come in, and, to my surprise, he consented.

"I like what you tell me of the people, D'Arcy, and their acquaintance
must be worth making," he observed.

We spent a very pleasant evening, got on board in good time, and the
next day, meeting some of our companions in the carriage adventure, were
able to relieve their minds from certain apprehensions of the
consequences, and to tell them of the satisfactory results; nor did we
fail to give Stallman credit, which was his due.  They, the rogues, were
now in a great hurry to go and apologise also; but their impudence, for
a wonder, would not carry them up to the point for action.

Whenever we put into Malta, Dicky and I did not fail to call on Signora
Faranelli and Signor Bianconi: and many a happy day we spent at their
houses.  Often and often I have since seen that, by acting with
truthfulness and candour, very much inconvenience, and even misery and
suffering, might have been saved, and much good obtained.  There is a
golden rule I must urge on my young friends ever to follow: _Do right,
and leave the result to God_.



CHAPTER THIRTEEN.

SAILING OF THE ARIADNE--CHISSEL'S CRUELTY--LOSS OF BOBBY SMUDGE--A HEAVY
SQUALL--BOBBY SMUDGE'S GHOST--REFLECTIONS THEREON.

Shortly after this we were ordered to get ready for sea, though our
destination was not known.  Before we sailed, Major and Miss Norman
again came on board, and we heard that, his health being re-established,
they had taken their passage in a brig bound for England.  We were very
sorry for this, as we feared that Mr Vernon would be wishing to go home
to marry, and that we should thus lose him.  The next morning the
_Ariadne_, the brig in question, a remarkably fine vessel for an English
merchantman of those days (for a more detestable fleet of tubs were
never sent afloat), was seen to be getting up her anchor and loosing
topsails.  Mr Vernon had gone away in the second gig at an early hour;
and she was now alongside, while he, with his boat's crew, were on
board.  We could see him standing with Miss Blanche Norman on deck.

"More gallant knight or fairer lady never trod this mortal world," quoth
our poetical Third, as he took a sight at his brother officer through
his spy-glass.

I heard a deep sigh, and looking round, I saw Adam Stallman standing
near me; but his countenance was unmoved, and turning on his heel, he
continued pacing the deck as if he had been an unconcerned spectator of
what was going on.  The anchor of the brig was run up to the bows and
catted; sail after sail was dropped from its brails and quickly sheeted
home; and under a wide spread of canvas the gallant craft came standing
out of the harbour.

"A prosperous voyage to you," shouted Mr Du Pre through his
speaking-trumpet, as she passed us.

He and all the officers took off their caps.  Major Norman and the
master of the _Ariadne_ did the same, and Miss Norman bowed.  It was a
trying moment for her, poor girl; for in a few minutes he whom she had
so lately learned to love must quit her for an indefinite period, to
buffet the rude winds and waves of the ocean, or, perchance, to endure
the dangers of the fight,--so said our third lieutenant, or something to
that effect.  We watched the _Ariadne_, as long as her topsails appeared
above the horizon, with no little interest, for Mr Vernon's sake.  He
at length came back, after a long pull, and was for several days
somewhat grave and abstracted at times; but that mood wore off by
degrees, and there was a buoyancy in his step, and a light in his eye,
which showed that he loved, and was conscious of being beloved in
return.

It would be impossible to give an account of all the minor adventures I
met with in the Mediterranean; but such as I can I will narrate.
Captain Poynder was very anxious to make his midshipmen gentlemen, and
to give us a knowledge of polite literature, as well as to instruct us
in navigation and seamanship.  Accordingly he got a Maltese on board to
teach us Italian.  Poor Signor Mezzi had never, I believe, been at sea
before; and though we tried to make him comfortable, and Dicky Sharpe
generally resisted the temptation to play him tricks--for he was certain
to be cobbed by the oldsters if he did,--I fear that his life was far
from a pleasant one.  When we had completed our refit, and had stowed
away a supply of provisions, despatches were sent on board, and we were
ordered to proceed to Tripoli and Tunis.  We made a very quick passage
to Tripoli, which is the capital of the most easterly of the Barbary
States.  It boasts of a castle and port, and has a large harbour,
defended by a moat and batteries, capable of containing a considerable
fleet of merchantmen.  We remained there a very short time, so I do not
remember much about the place, nor exactly for what purpose we went
there.  There is another town of the same name in Syria, and they are
often confounded.  Leaving Tripoli, we made sail for Tunis.  It was on
this trip, if I remember rightly, that a circumstance occurred, which
for some time appeared wrapped in mystery.  The adventure of the
rib-bone, in which Dicky Sharpe played so prominent a part, will be
remembered.  Since that time, Ichabod Chissel, the carpenter, had led
his unfortunate boy, Bobby Smudge, a very dog's life.  I fully believe,
however, that Master Smudge richly deserved every rope's-ending he got.
He was always dirty: he loved dirt, and nothing could keep him clean.
His honesty also was doubtful.  While in Malta harbour, some of our
plate had disappeared.  Our boy accused Bobby of taking it, though he
denied this, and, to our surprise, confessed that he knew where it was.

"Why, do you see, sir," he said to Stallman, who sat as judge on his
trial, "it somehow or other got into my tub of hot water, and I never
knowed it; and when I went to heave the water overboard, I then see'd
the glitter of it in the sea, as it sunk to the bottom."

The defence was ingenious, and as there was no witness to prove to the
contrary, Bobby escaped punishment on that occasion; though, as he had
been seen in deep confabulation with an ill-looking Jew a short time
afterwards, suspicion went much against him.  From bad, things grew to
worse with Bobby Smudge.  Not a day passed, scarcely an hour, that he
did not taste the flavour of a rope's-end--most frequently bestowed by
his master, the carpenter.

"You will be the death of me, I know you will, Master Chissel," he
groaned out one day, when his castigator was even severer than usual.
"I'll go and drown myself, that I will, if this goes on much longer--
you'll see if I don't.  I won't stand it, that I won't;" and he
blubbered as few have blubbered before.

"You will, will you, you young scamp?" exclaimed the carpenter, seizing
a rope's-end.  "Take that, then, and remember, when you come back from
the drowning of yourself, I'll give you six times as much."  And poor
Bobby got it worse than ever.

I think Chissel was very wrong in the way he treated the poor wretch.
Had he been tolerably kind and considerate, he might, I am certain, have
worked on his good feelings, and certainly have improved him; but the
unhappy lad had from his earliest days been so constantly knocked about,
and so accustomed to receive more kicks than halfpence, that all his
better feelings had been pretty well beaten out of him.

It so happened that one evening, as the ship was running pretty fast
through the water, and as darkness was coming rapidly on, a loud splash
was heard alongside, and that cry, so startling to a seaman's heart, was
raised--"A man overboard!"

"Silence, fore and aft," sang out Captain Poynder, who at the same
moment appeared on deck.  "Does anybody see him?"

There was no answer.

"Does anybody hear him?"

There was an ominous silence.  A pin might have been heard to drop on
deck.  The life-buoy had been let go at the first by the officer of the
watch.  Its signal fire now burned bright astern, but no one was seen
clinging to it.  There could be little doubt that the poor fellow,
whoever he was, had sunk at once.  The ship had been running at the time
a few points off the wind.  She was now brought close on a wind, and
then the helm was put down, and she was hove about with her head towards
the life-buoy.  While she was in stays, the two quarter-boats were
manned and lowered.  Mr Vernon jumped into one of them, and the master
into another; and as the frigate lost her way, they shoved off and
pulled in the direction of the spot where the man was supposed to have
fallen.

"Who can it be?  Who is missing?" was asked by all hands, while we were
anxiously looking out towards the boats, to see if they were picking up
anybody.

When the ship reached the same locality, she was hove-to, and there we
remained till the boats, having picked up the life-buoy, returned on
board.  They brought, however, too probable a sign of some one having
been lost--a boy's hat.  It had been picked up exactly at the spot where
the ship was supposed to have been when the alarm was first given.  The
ship's muster-roll was now called over, to ascertain who of the ship's
company was missing.  One after the other had answered to their names,
and it had so nearly reached the end, that we began to hope there might
be some mistake after all, when that of Bobby Smudge was called.  There
was no answer.  Poor Bobby!  There could be but little doubt that the
unfortunate wretch had put his threat of making away with himself into
execution, rather than longer endure the tyranny of Mr Chissel.  I
hoped that the carpenter's accusing conscience would make him repent of
his cruelty.  This surmise as to the poor boy's fate was confirmed the
next morning, when some of his clothes were discovered under the
forechains.  The next day the chief conversation among the men was about
Bobby Smudge's suicide, and of the threats he had uttered of haunting
the ship.  This led to the recounting of similar circumstances; and many
a forecastle yarn was spun that evening, abounding in horrors sufficient
to make the hairs of a less stout-hearted auditory stand on end.  From
the extraordinary remarks I heard as I passed about the decks, I
declared, when I went to the berth, that I believed that some of the men
fully expected to see poor Bobby Smudge come in at one of the ports and
drive all hands out of the ship.  A seaman will encounter anything
living and tangible with a hearty good-will; but he has a mortal
antipathy to meet any spirit, black, blue, white, or green, from the
nether world.

"I say, D'Arcy, it would be great fun if we could just manage to give
some of these fellows a fright," whispered Dicky Sharpe.  "A white sheet
and a howl would do it.  I could manage to imitate Bobby Smudge's voice,
and I should just like to look in on old Chissel when he is taking his
first snooze.  I'd just mutter, `Bobby Smudge's ghost come to fetch you
away, you old sinner,' and his villainous conscience would do the rest."

"Don't play any such foolish trick, Dicky," said I.  "You would
certainly be found out in the first place, and get severely punished
into the bargain.  Besides, the matter is too serious to be turned into
a joke.  Think of that poor unfortunate wretch, driven to despair, and
plunged suddenly into another world, through the cruelty and tyranny of
one who ought to have protected him, and tried to make him better!"

"But he was plunged into the sea," said Dicky, interrupting me; "and as
for the cruelty he received, I don't think he was so very much worse off
than numbers of other fellows in his position."

"I tell you, it is not a subject for joking on.  Perhaps poor Bobby
Smudge had a mother and sisters who will mourn bitterly when the ship
returns home, and they find he is not in her."

"Dirty drabs, in all probability, who won't care a rap what has become
of him," persisted the incorrigible Dicky.

"For shame, Sharpe--for shame," said I; thinking how my cousins would
grieve for me if I were to be lost overboard.  I began to feel a strange
sort of satisfaction at the idea.  Sentiment, or whatever it might be
called, was very quickly put to flight by the shrill sound of the
boatswain's whistle, and the hoarse cry of "All hands--shorten sail!"

We were hurrying to our stations aloft as fast as our legs could carry
us--for the tones in which the order was issued showed us that there was
not a moment to be lost,--when, just as we were springing into the
rigging, a squall, which had but the moment before been perceived by the
officers of the watch, struck the ship.  As ill-luck would have it, it
was the third lieutenant who had the first watch, and he happened to be
in a poetical mood, and deeply absorbed in composing an ode to Queen
Dido, or the Dodo--I don't remember which it was reported was the case--
one or the other, I know.  The squall was a very heavy one: if not a
white squall, not inferior to it in strength and suddenness.  The ship
rushed through the water, which was lashed in an instant into a sheet of
foam; the masts bent like wands, and looked as if they would instantly
go by the board.  The helm was ordered to be put up; but before she
could answer it--stiff as she generally was--over she went, as if she
had been a mere skiff, till her yard-arms almost touched the water.  It
appeared as if she would never right herself again.  Then many a stout
heart quailed, and many a brave man gave himself up for lost; but,
dreadful as was the scene, discipline triumphed speedily over all
unworthy fears.  Some of the ports were open, and the water rushed
through them in torrents.  Such was the case with the one in our berth.
Poor Signor Mezzi, our Italian master, was sitting there.  Never was a
poor wretch more completely horrified.  He gave up all for lost, and
fancied that every moment the ship, and all in her, were going to the
bottom.  The assistant-surgeon and captain's clerk, who were at the time
in the berth, each seized a pillow from the hammocks, which had just
before been piped down, and cramming them into the port with tolerable
effect, stopped the gush of water; but terror had too completely
mastered the poor dominie to allow him to observe what was going
forward.  He shrieked out for mercy from every saint in the calendar,
and entreated one or all of them to carry him on shore, even if it was
but to the sandy coast of Africa.  "_Ah! misericordia, misericordia,
misericordia_!" was the burden of his plaint.

"_E impossible_, signor.  If you do go to the bottom, heretics though we
are, you will be in very goodly company," exclaimed Tourniquet.  "And
then think of the magnificent feast we shall make for the fishes.  Let
that be your consolation."

But poor Signor Mezzi refused to be comforted even by such a prospect;
and even our medico himself, when he found the ship still remaining in
her unusual position, and heard the uproar going on overhead, began to
entertain some very disagreeable doubts as to the possibility of the
event to which he was alluding actually occurring, and looked very blue
about the gills; whereat little Scribble, the clerk, laughed heartily at
him, and seated himself on the table, with his feet on the side of the
ship, affirming that he was not afraid, and was as contented and happy
as ever--the truth being, not that the young donkey was a bit more brave
than the other two, but that he had not the sense to know the danger he
was in, and that not a seaman on board but saw that the next moment
might be his last.  Tourniquet had not the heart to move and give
Scribble a thrashing, or he would have done so.  But to return on deck.
The instant the squall struck the ship, Captain Poynder hastened from
his cabin, and, seizing his speaking-trumpet, in a calm tone issued the
necessary orders.

"Down, every youngster, from the rigging.  Clue up--haul down--let fly
of all!"

It was too late.  Before the words were out of his mouth, the ship was
over on her beam-ends, and lay like a log, neither sails nor rudder
having longer power over her.  To describe the wild horror of the scene
would be almost impossible.  The rent sails flashing and flapping in the
gale; the ropes lashing furiously, as if in an attempt to seize some one
within their deadly coils; every timber quivering and groaning; the wind
roaring; and the foam in thick sheets flying over us.  Though the helm,
as I have said, was hard up, still she lay in the trough of the sea,
without a hope of once more rising.

"Send the carpenter and his crew aft, with their axes," shouted the
captain.

Chissel and his mates quickly obeyed the summons, for he had seen from
the first that his services would too probably be required.

"Stand by, to cut away the masts," added Captain Poynder.

It was a melancholy alternative, but the only one to save the ship from
foundering.  Afterwards we must trust to our anchors; and if they failed
to hold with the wind as it then was, we could not fail of being driven
on the inhospitable coast of Africa.  And who could tell how many might
reach the shore alive!--perhaps none.  The uplifted axes gleamed in the
hands of Chissel and his mates, as they stood round the mizen-mast;
others were sent to cut away the shrouds, and clear the wreck of the
mast as it fell.  Once more Captain Poynder raised his trumpet to his
lips.  It was to give the dire orders to cut, when, at that moment, the
ship with a violent jerk righted herself, and, speedily answering to the
helm, away she flew before the wind.  As such a course would very
quickly have brought us up, sail was taken off her; and then, merely
under her spanker and fore-staysail, she was brought to the wind, for it
was discovered that the bowsprit was badly sprung, and that the topsail
sheets were carried away.  Happily the squall, having vented its fury on
our heads, quickly passed over, and we were left with much less wind
than before.

"This is all that young beggar Bobby Smudge's doing, I'll warrant," I
heard Ned Grummit, a topman, exclaim, as he came down from aloft.  "I
never knowed a chap of that sort who went for to go for to drown
hisself, if he threatened to do mischief, but found means to do it.  I
knowed it would be so from the first, and we shall be lucky if worse
doesn't come of it."

I tried to expostulate with the man, for whom I had a liking, for he was
an honest fellow; but to no purpose.  He still persisted in the belief
that poor Bobby, who, while alive, had never done anybody harm, was
destined to work us all sorts of mischief.

Everything had been made as snug as circumstances would allow.  The
watch below had been piped down, and had turned in; and silence reigned
on board, and on the face of the ocean around us.  It had been my watch
on deck, and I was just about being relieved, when the silence was
broken by a loud, unearthly cry; and the carpenter rushed on deck in his
shirt, his hair standing on end, and his eyeballs starting from their
sockets.  Had not several men laid hold of him, I believe he would have
thrown himself overboard.  He was carried back to his cabin, and the
doctor was summoned.  All Chissel could say was, "Bobby Smudge!  Bobby
Smudge! you young villain, be off with you!"  The doctor gave him some
stuff or other, and the carpenter went off into a sound sleep; but a man
was ordered to sit up by his side, and watch him.

"Now," thought I, "this has been one of Dicky Sharpe's tricks, and all
my good advice has been thrown away."  But when I looked into Dicky's
hammock, he was sleeping away with such unfeigned soundness that I could
scarcely fancy that he had played any trick; and the next morning he
assured me, on his word of honour, that he knew nothing whatever about
the matter.  I had never known Dicky to tell an untruth, and I felt very
sure that he would not conceal anything he had done from me; indeed, the
great pleasure he had in playing any mischievous prank was, to tell me
of it afterwards, if I happened not to be a partaker of it,--a very rare
occurrence, by-the-bye.

"Suppose you had played your trick on old Chissel, and what he has seen
was really an evil spirit, how very dreadful it would have been for you
to have met the unnameable thing at his bedside!" said I.

"Oh! don't talk of such a thing," exclaimed Dicky, shuddering.  "I am
sure I will never again think of carrying out such a joke as I
contemplated.  The idea is too frightful."

I advised him not; and, after talking the subject over, and turning it
in every way, we came to the conclusion that, as no one else was likely
to have tried to frighten old Chissel, if he had not really seen a
ghost, his terror had been the result of his own evil conscience.

"Yes, it is a dreadful thing to have a bad conscience," said Dicky, with
a sigh.  "Do you know, D'Arcy, I sometimes wish that I had not played so
many wild pranks in my life.  I know that they will some time or other
bring me into trouble; and yet, when the fit seizes me, I cannot help
it.  I wish that you would remind me of my good resolutions when I next
propose anything of the sort."

I promised that I would, but suggested that unless he had some higher
motive than the fear of being brought into trouble, he would in all
probability continue as great a pickle as ever, if he did not go on from
bad to worse.  Indeed I read my chum a very severe lecture, which he
took with perfect composure, feeling at the time that he fully deserved
it; though I fear that he was not in the end very much the better for my
sage advice.

We were busy all day repairing damages as well as we could at sea; but
it was found that they were so considerable that the captain resolved to
return to Malta, instead of pursuing our course to Tunis.  While the
work was going forward, a man in the forechains discovered a jacket and
waistcoat, which were known to have belonged to Bobby Smudge.  This was
considered still stronger proof that the poor lad had destroyed himself,
as no doubt he had hung them there before jumping into the sea.  Seamen
are certainly the most superstitious beings alive, for this trifling
matter made them talk the whole evening after they had knocked off work
about Bobby and his ways; and scarcely one but believed that his spirit
would haunt the ship as long as she remained in commission.  The
crippled state of the ship prevented our making much sail on her, and as
we had frequently baffling winds, our voyage to Malta was considerably
prolonged.

Dirty Bob, as poor Bobby Smudge was generally called, excited far more
interest after his death than he had done during his lifetime, as is not
unfrequently the case with much greater men.  The night succeeding the
squall passed off, as far as I know, quietly enough; but the next
morning I saw several groups of men talking together, as if something
mysterious had occurred.

"I knowed it would be so," said Ned Trunnion, as I passed by.  "He was
as bold a topman as ever stepped.  I knowed the little chap wouldn't let
us alone, after he'd given Mr Chissel a taste of his quality.  No, no;
depend on't he'll haunt the ship for many a long day, if he don't manage
to run her ashore, or to send her to Davy Jones' locker outright."

"What's that about?"  I asked, for I suspected the observation was
intended for my ears.

"Why, sir," said Tom Barlow, another topman, "Dirty Bob (saving your
presence) has been aboard again, a playing off his pranks, and many of
us see'd him as clear as we see you."

"Nonsense, man," said I.  "If you mean Bobby Smudge, he's snug enough at
the bottom of the sea, fifty miles astern of us, by this time; besides,
if any of you saw him, why did you not catch him?"

"It wasn't 'xactly him we saw, sir," blurted out Ned.  "It was his
spirit or ghost like; and a chap might just as well try to catch one of
them things as to grip an eel with greased fingers."

"How do you know it was his spirit, though?"  I asked; for I suspected
that the men had been working on each other's imagination till all
fancied they had seen what perhaps only one had dreamed of.

"Why, sir," replied Tom Barlow, with a hitch to his waistband, "we
knowed it was him, because it was as like him as he could stare, only a
good deal blacker and dirtier even than he was in his lifetime.  It had
just gone two bells in the middle watch, when three or four of us who
was awake saw him as plainly as we do you, sir, now--creeping about for
all the world like a serpent, in and out among the hammocks.  It was
more, just then, than any one of us wished to do, to speak to him; but,
thinks I, there can't be any harm telling him to cut his stick, just
civilly like; so I lifts up my head, and sings out, `Be off, you dirty
son of a sea cook!'  But scarcely was the words out of my mouth, than he
was away like a shot up the main-hatchway, and through one of the ports,
or right through the bottom of the ship, for what I knowed; for I
couldn't see, you may suppose.  All the others who saw him said, too,
there was a strong smell of sulphur, wherever he'd been, and that he
vanished away in a flame of fire; but I can't 'xactly swear to that
myself."

I laughed outright at the absurdity of the story, and was more convinced
than ever that the men had allowed their imaginations to be worked up to
a pitch which would make them believe anything.

Dicky Sharpe and I talked the matter over, and agreed not to say
anything about it, as were the circumstances to get to the ears of the
captain, it would certainly make him very angry.

I thought we should hear no more about the matter; but two days after
this I found the people more busy than ever talking about Bobby Smudge's
ghost.  Numbers declared they had seen it.  Some described it as having
one shape, some another.  Not a few gave it a tail, and horns, and fiery
eyes.  All described it as black; and several were ready to affirm on
oath that it smelt strongly of sulphur and other horrible odours.  At
length many of the men showed a great unwillingness to go below, and to
turn into their hammocks.

Old Chissel had become a completely altered character.  His conscience
told him that he was the cause of poor Bobby's death.  He grew thin and
pale; his voice was no longer heard in loud dispute with his brother
officer, the boatswain; and even his manner was softened towards his
inferiors.  The men remarked the change; and all argued that the ghost
had done him some good at all events, though it certainly confirmed them
in their belief of its existence.  Night after night, no sooner was it
dark, and the watch below turned in, than Dirty Bob's ghost was sure to
appear to some one or other; till at length the gun-room officers heard
of the matter, and ultimately the captain himself was informed of it.

At the same time a curious circumstance occurred.  Every morning one or
other of the messes had to complain that their bread-bags had been
rifled, and different sorts of eatables had disappeared in a most
unaccountable manner.  None of the men suggested for a moment that the
ghost had anything to do with the matter--for what could a ghost want
with biscuit, bacon, or cheese; but Captain Poynder, who at length heard
of this also, had, it appeared, formed a different notion on the
subject.

Two of the marines--steady old hands--who were ready to believe or
disbelieve in ghosts or spirits, and to fight carnal or spiritual
enemies in any shape or of any colour, as their superior officers might
command them, were sent for into the cabin.  What their orders were I do
not know; but one of them, Jabez Cartridge, was placed that night as
sentry on the lower deck.

The first watch had nearly run out, and Jabez, who had his eyes about
him in every direction, had seen nothing of the ghost, when, as it had
just gone seven bells, he fancied that he observed a dark object gliding
about under the hammocks.  He stood as upright and stiff as his own
ramrod.  So immovable was he, that any one might have supposed him
asleep on his post; but his little black eyes were not the less
vigilant.  The dark object moved slowly and cautiously on till it
reached the lockers, where the men's mess things were kept.

Jabez saw that it had hands, and, by the peculiar movement of those
hands, he came to the conclusion that it had pockets.  Still a ghost
might have hands, and trousers too, for what he knew to the contrary.
To convince himself, he sprang forward, and the ghost, with an unearthly
shriek, took to flight; but Jabez was too quick for the phantom, and
grasping him tight, he sung out, "I don't care if you be a ghost or not,
but I've got you, at all events."

"Oh, let me go, let me go! and I'll lie snug and quiet till we get into
harbour, and then I'll leave the ship and never come back--that I
won't," answered the ghost, in piteous accents.

But Jabez was inexorable, and dragging him to the sentry's lantern, by
its sickly light discovered features which belonged to no other than
Bobby Smudge.

"Why, where have you been, you young scoundrel, all the time?" asked
Jabez.

"In the coal-hole," blubbered out poor Bobby.  "I never thought of doing
harm to no one; but I can't live without eating.  Oh! let me go back,--
oh! do, now."

"My order is to take you to the captain," replied Jabez, unmoved; and
forthwith to the captain's cabin the unhappy Smudge was led captive.

He was soon, however, sent out again under charge of the sentry, and
kept in durance vile till the next morning.

After breakfast the men were called aft; and the captain appeared on the
quarter-deck with Bobby, in the same garb and condition in which he had
been captured.  He was truly a wretched object, as he stood trembling,
and blubbering, and covered with coal dust and dirt, before all the
crew.

"I have called you aft, my men, to show you how foolish you have been to
allow yourselves to be frightened by the equally foolish trick of this
miserable lad," said Captain Poynder.  "I am not angry with you; but I
wish you to learn, from this event, that all the ghosts you are ever
likely to see will turn out to be no more ghosts than is this poor
fellow at the present moment.  He confesses that to avoid punishment,
and in the hopes of ultimately escaping from the ship, he devised the
scheme for making it appear that he had destroyed himself.  He managed,
it seems, to get a lump of coal in the forechains, and after heaving it
into the water, and crying out that a man was overboard, to get in at a
port, and to stow himself away in the coal-hole.  Trusting to the
superstition and folly which the people have exhibited, he thought he
might venture out at night to supply himself with food.  His plan
succeeded; and had the story not come to my ears, I conclude he would
have kept up the farce till the ship got into port.  I ask, my men, do
you think it possible that God, who made this mighty universe, and
governs it by just and wise laws, would allow a mischievous imp, who
could do no harm while alive, to return to earth, merely for the sake of
wreaking his own petty malice, or for troubling and frightening a number
of grown men such as you are.  To believe such a thing is both wicked
and absurd, for it is mistrusting God's wisdom and providence; and I
hope, when you come calmly to consider the matter over, you will think
as I do.  I have another word to say, both to petty-officers and men.
The lad must have received much cruel treatment to make him attempt to
escape from it by the expedient he followed.  Remember, for the future,
I will have no bullying.  The discipline of the ship will be kept up far
better by strict justice.  Had it not been for this, I should have
punished the lad severely for the prank he has played.  As it is, he has
pretty well suffered already.  But beware.  If anybody attempts to
imitate his example, he will find I do not overlook the matter so
easily.  Now pipe down."

The captain's speech did much good in several ways.  It put a stop to
any outrageous bullying for some time; for the men knew perfectly well
that what he threatened he would effectually carry out.  It also tended
to cure some of them of their superstitious belief in ghosts and
goblins.

"Well, I never heard the like afore," said Tom Barlow, as he and his
messmate, Ned Trunnion, were talking over the affair of the previous
day.  "The skipper says as how there is no such thing as ghosts; and I
suppose, seeing as how he has as much larning as a parson, he knows all
about it.  It don't come within my category, though."

"What he says is all shipshape," replied Ned.  "I never yet met the man
who really did see a ghost, though I've met scores who've heard of some
one who's seen them, and for that matter come to fisticuffs with them;
and certain sure I never see'd one myself till that young cheese-nibble
made himself into one.  Then, if he hadn't been found out, I'd have
staked my davy that he was one in reality."

"That is what the captain says," I remarked, as I stopped a moment.
"All the ghosts which have been seen will turn out to be only shams
after all."

But enough of Bobby Smudge and his ghost.



CHAPTER FOURTEEN.

LETTER FROM MY UNCLE--CHASE OF MYERS--SUPPOSED LOSS IN PORTLAND RACE--
GOOD ADVICE--THE ARIADNE MISSING--MR. VERNON'S ANXIETY.

Two days after this, much shorn of the pride and beauty with which we
left it, we entered Malta harbour.  As may be supposed, Mr Vernon
hastened to the post-office as soon as he could get on shore.  I
accompanied him, with a note Captain Poynder had to send to the
governor.  His eye brightened as it glanced at the superscription of a
letter which was handed to him.  He read it over eagerly.

"I hope, sir, that you have good accounts from your friends," I said.

"They have had most provoking light winds and calms; and, when this
letter was written, had not made good half the distance.  Heaven grant
that the _Ariadne_ may have escaped any squall such as crippled us."

"Indeed, sir, I trust so," I replied; but as he again turned to his
letter, I made no further remark.  I found a letter also for myself, to
my no little surprise, for I thought no one would take the trouble of
writing to me.  I did not deserve a letter, I felt, for I had not
written a line to any one since I left England.  It was from my uncle.
I put it in my pocket, to read at my leisure when I returned on board.
It ran as follows:--

"My Dear Nephew,--As a word or two now and then from those who are
deeply interested in your welfare, will but tend to keep them in your
remembrance, and to cheer your spirits, should you find yourself
surrounded by troubles or hardships, your aunt and I hope occasionally
to send you a sheet of paper, with an account of what is going on at
home; and I must beg you in return to let us know how the world speeds
with you.  Your aunt and cousins are well, and one day passes with them
so like another, that I have little to tell of them.  Terence grows
apace, and seems resolved to go to sea.  I will not baulk the lad of his
wish when he is big enough; and I hope better times will come in the
navy, both for you and him, than I have seen for some time past.  I have
given the cutter plenty of work, and have made several captures; but the
prize I most covet, that villain Myers, has again slipped through my
fingers.  I must tell you all about it.  It is supposed, indeed, that he
has at length gone to render up his final account in another world; but
even now I can scarcely believe but that he will yet turn up somewhere
or another in this.  I had received notice that he had been again seen
in England, and that he had got command of a cutter of about sixty
tons,--a very fast craft, which nothing could come up to; so, of course,
I resolved to try and catch him.  I soon found that he was visiting his
old haunts.  I conclude that he fancied no one would believe he would
have the audacity to go there after all the crimes he had committed, and
that therefore no one would be on the watch for him.  He had succeeded
in running two cargoes, and all the goods were got up to London.  He had
gone away for a third, and I learned that preparations were made to
receive it in West Bay, not far from Beere.  For two days and nights we
had been cruising about, just far enough out not to be seen from the
shore, in the best spot for cutting him off, when it came on to blow
very hard from the north-west.  It had blown long enough to kick up a
heavy sea, when, just as it had gone three bells, in the middle watch,
we caught sight of a cutter standing in for the shore, and going along
at a tremendous rate, not the eighth of a mile to the eastward of us.
We were on the larboard tack; but we were instantly about, and in chase
of her.  We could just make her out through the darkness; but I do not
think many eyes could have seen her, but those long accustomed to such
work as ours.  It was some time before she perceived us; for, from the
way we were standing, we were end on to her.  As soon, however, as she
saw us, she kept away, and off she went like a shot before the wind.  We
packed everything on the cutter she could carry, and rather more canvas,
as you may suppose, than under ordinary circumstances I should like to
set; but the stranger, at all events, seemed resolved not to be outdone;
and though by this time it was blowing half a gale of wind, had not only
his whole mainsail, but his square-sail and gaff-topsail all set.  This
circumstance made me pretty certain that Myers was on board, for he knew
well that a halter would be his lot if he was caught.  I think he would
have done better by keeping on a wind, for before the wind her larger
size gave the _Serpent_ a decided advantage over him.  After an hour's
chase, if we had not overhauled him, he certainly had not increased his
distance from us; and we had great hopes, should the wind increase, or
the sea get up any more, that we should at last catch him.  It was a
trial of the strength of our sticks, and the goodness of our rigging.  I
had every confidence in ours; but I also knew that the smuggler would
not fail to have got a tough stick for a mast, and sound rigging also.
Another half-hour passed, and Hanks agreed with me that we were
certainly gaining on the chase.  To give us a chance of winging him, we
now ran a gun forward; but with the heavy sea there was, and the way
both vessels were pitching into it, there was very little probability
that we should do so.  We, however, fired several times; but with no
effect.  Only think! the fellow had the audacity to run out a couple of
guns, and to return the fire.  To be sure, it was his only chance of
escaping; for if he could manage to knock away any of our spars, he
would, he thought, show us a clean pair of heels.  His practice was not
a bit better than ours; indeed, it would only have been by chance that a
shot could have hit its mark.  However, we both of us kept blazing away
at each other with hearty good-will.  In the meantime the wind and sea,
already high, were getting up very much.  At any other time I should
have hove the cutter to; but now, follow I must; and I hoped, from our
greater power, we should be able to hold out the longest, and that at
last the smuggler must give in.  We were now nearing Portland Race, and
never in my life had I observed the sea running higher on it than it now
did.  `The fellows will never attempt to cross it,' observed Hanks:
`they'll be swamped if they do; and if they haul up to round it, we
shall catch them to a certainty.'  `Cross it they will try, at all
events,' I replied; `they can never carry canvas on a wind, in a breeze
and with a sea like this.  See, they are standing into the very thickest
of the breakers.'  Sure enough, there was the cutter approaching the
most dangerous part of the Race.  The spring-tide was making down, and
the wind, meeting it, threw the foaming breakers higher up than usual.
Still it was possible, if everything was battened down, that the cutter
might shove through them.  We all held our breath.  If she got through,
we also must follow.  We had everything secured, and were better
prepared than she was.  On she went--her white sails appearing against
the dark sky--her whole hull enveloped in foam.  For some seconds she
pushed on bravely.  I never took my eye off her.  Suddenly the white
canvas seemed to bend low down--the breakers danced on as before.  I
rubbed my eyes, but without avail: the sail had disappeared.  There was
a cry of horror on board the cutter, but no shout of triumph, though our
long-sought-for foe was no more.  He and everybody on board must have
been swallowed up in those foaming billows.  We had barely time to
shorten sail and to haul off, to avoid sharing the same fate; for I
scarcely think, on that day, that even we could have run through the
race.  Some days after this I was on shore on Portland Bill, and the
lighthouse-keeper told me that he had witnessed the catastrophe.  He
told me, also, that several planks and spars had shortly after come on
shore, and with these the body of a man.  When, however, he went down to
the beach to look for the body, he could nowhere find it; so he
concluded that it had been swept away by the tide.  Such is the fate of
the smuggler Myers, and certainly no one ever deserved it more richly.
I have no other events to narrate.

"I should like to give you some good advice, Neil; but I am so little
accustomed to lecture others, I cannot find words to do it.  I will try,
however.  Never forget that you were sent into this world to do your
duty to Heaven and to man; not to amuse yourself, but to obey God's
laws,--to prepare for another world, which will last for ever.  Remember
always that this world is only a place of trial--of probation.  Trials
of all sorts are sent on purpose to prove us.  When man, through
disobedience, fell, and sin entered the world, the devil was allowed to
have power over him.  He would have gained entire power, and man in his
fallen state would have been inextricably lost for ever; but Christ in
his mercy interfered, and by His obedience, His sufferings on earth,--by
His death on the cross,--was accepted by God as a recompense for all
sinners who believe in Him.  By His resurrection, He became a mediator
for us, showing us also that we too shall rise, like Him, from the dead,
in the bodies in which we died.  Thus a pure and just God, who cannot
otherwise than hate sin, was able at the same time to show forth his
justice and his mercy,--to punish those who go on in their wickedness,
but to pardon those who believe in their great Mediator, and repent of
their sins.  I remind you of these important truths, Neil, because I
know all men are too apt to forget them.  Endeavour always to remember
them, and I am sure that they will keep you from evil more than any
other safeguards which I can offer you.  I do not tell you, my boy, not
to do this, or not to do that; but I remind you that Christ came down on
earth, on account of the sins of mankind, to teach men His laws; that He
suffered pain, toil, and disgrace, and a dreadful death; and that, in
gratitude to Him, we are bound to do our utmost to obey Him.  Read your
Bible constantly--not now and then, but every day; learn what His will
is, and do your best to follow it.  Remember, also, that the devil is
ever at your elbow, endeavouring to persuade you not to follow it,--
telling you that sin is sweet and pleasant; that God will not be angry
with you if you sin a little; that hell is far off; that God would not
be so cruel as to send you there; and that it is cowardly to be afraid.
Oh, my boy, let me entreat you to pray to God for grace to enable you to
resist those temptations.  Come they will, assuredly; and never trust in
your own strength to resist them.  Christ will give you strength.  Fly
to Him in prayer.  Go to your Bible,--read that, and you will be strong
to resist all temptations.  Of course, never mind what your companions
may say or think on the subject.  I ask, are you to be biassed by the
opinions of poor, weak, sinful mortals; or to obey the laws of the great
all-powerful God, who made the whole universe--the innumerable globes
you see in the sky--the world we inhabit, with all its wonders--man,
with his proud intellect--the animals of the forest, the birds of the
air, the creeping things innumerable, scarcely the nature of one of
which you can comprehend,--of the merciful Saviour, who died for you,
and who is eager to preserve you and all who believe on him?  Still I
know that, with a full consciousness of God's greatness and goodness--of
Christ's mercy--man is so weak that nothing but constant prayer for
grace will enable him to keep in the right way.  I feel, my dear nephew,
that I could not write too much on this all-important subject; but still
I must conclude.  Keep my letter by you, and look at it at times when
you are inclined to forget its advice.  Your aunt joins me in earnest
prayer for your welfare.

"Your affectionate uncle,--

"Terence O'Flaherty."

I am most grateful to my kind uncle for having sent this letter to me.
It had a very beneficial effect on my mind.  I do not mean to say that
at the time I received it I thought as seriously of its contents as I
did afterwards; yet I tried somewhat to follow its advice,--not as I
might have done; but I read my Bible more frequently, and prayed more
earnestly than I had ever done before.  I do not mean to say that I
knelt down by the side of my hammock to pray, as those on shore are able
to do by the side of their beds; but I found many an opportunity to
offer up my prayers during a watch on deck at night, and on those
occasions I felt more freedom and earnestness.  Also I often would do so
after I had turned into my hammock, and before I turned out in a
morning.  I own that when I was first observed to read my Bible I was
frequently called by my messmates a Methodist and a saint, and Dicky
Sharpe was especially liberal in his application of such epithets to me;
but Adam Stallman soon silenced him as well as others.

"Let me ask you, Master Dicky, what you mean by a Methodist?" he
inquired.  "If it is applied to a man who acts the part of a consistent
Christian, and does his duty methodically--with system, and not by fits
and starts,--it is a very high compliment you pay him; and as for the
term saint, let me assure you that those who do not become saints have
their souls in a very perilous condition."

These remarks of Stallman's, though my young messmate tried to look
unconcerned and indifferent to them at the time, had, I believe, a very
beneficial effect on him.  I will not, however, dwell longer on this
subject, important though it is, or my readers may declare that, instead
of writing my adventures for their amusement, I am giving them a book of
sermons.  I will not do that; but still I must urge them to pay
attention to what I have said--never to be ashamed of their religion;
far, far rather to be proud of it, and ever to make God's word the rule
of their conduct.--To return to my narrative.  The repairs of the
frigate having been completed, we once more put to sea, and made sail
for Tripoli and Tunis.  Our poor Italian master, Signor Mezzi, had
declared most positively that nothing would ever again tempt him to
venture on the treacherous ocean; but a few weeks on the smooth water of
Malta harbour had wonderfully reassured him, and he continued therefore
with us, to our somewhat problematical benefit.  Nothing occurred on our
passage to and from those places.

We were once more entering Malta harbour.  Mr Vernon at once went on
shore, and I again accompanied him.  He repaired to the post-office, but
there were, to his evident disappointment, no letters for him.  He
considered for a moment.  "We'll go to the agents of the _Ariadne_; she
must have arrived at Gibraltar long before the last mails left."

The agent's office was close to the harbour.  We threaded our way to it
among bales, and casks, and packages.

The senior partner, Mr Dunnage, received us very politely; and when Mr
Vernon inquired for the brig, his countenance assumed a grave look.

"We must hope for the best," he replied; "but she is, I own, very long
overdue, and we have had no tidings whatever of her.  She may have put
into some little-frequented port, with the loss of her spars or masts,
and the master may not have been able to communicate with us."

"Nay, I am sure it must be so," he continued, seeing the agitation into
which the information had thrown my lieutenant.

"Was the master a steady and good seaman?" asked Mr Vernon, in a voice
husky with emotion.

"Not a steadier man nor a better seaman comes to this port," replied Mr
Dunnage.  "If his craft was caught by a squall, or got into any other
difficulty, I am sure he would have done all that could be done for
her."

"We fell in with a terrific squall soon after she was at sea," mused Mr
Vernon.  "Heaven grant that she was not exposed to it."

"It is impossible to say," answered the merchant in a kind tone.  "I
feel more than usually anxious, on account of her passengers, I own.
Sailors are accustomed to hardships; they expect to meet them in their
career; and they are aware, when they go afloat, that they must be
prepared to lose their lives in the gale or the battle."

Mr Vernon shuddered.  He began to realise the possibility of the loss--
the dreadful death of her he loved.  Still he was a right-minded, brave
man, and what is more, a sincere Christian; and he resolved not to give
way to despair.

Mr Dunnage perceived, at length, the effect his information had
produced, and he now did his best to mitigate the anxiety of my
lieutenant, entering warmly into all his plans for gaining information
as to the fate of the brig.

It was agreed that he should write round to all the ports on the shores
of the Mediterranean, near which it was possible the _Ariadne_ could
have been driven; and that his correspondents there should send boats
along the coast from port to port, so that no part should remain
unexplored.

"I should advise you also to see the Admiral; he will, I am sure, take a
warm interest in the matter."

No sooner said than done.  When sensible men are in earnest about an
affair, they do not lose time by talking, the plan of action being at
once decided on.

Mr Dunnage having penned the draft of a circular letter to be sent to
the ports, left it to be copied by his clerks, while we set forth to see
the Admiral, who was, fortunately, at Malta.

The worthy old man at once entered into all the proposed plans for
searching for the brig, and suggested others.

"We'll send the _Harold_ to sea at once; and I'll despatch all the small
craft I can spare on the search.  Stay,--you shall take an order to
Captain Poynder to sail forthwith.  I suppose he's ready to go?" said he
to Mr Vernon.

"We are well supplied with provisions, and can soon fill up with water;
we can be off this evening, I know," replied Mr Vernon.

"Away with you! and may your search be prosperous," said the Admiral,
with much feeling.

The order to go to sea again was at first received with no little
surprise on board; but the fact that the _Ariadne_ was missing being
generally known on shore, and the blue-peter being hoisted, the officers
who had gone on leave came hurrying back.

That night, with a fine breeze we had run Malta out of sight.



CHAPTER FIFTEEN.

SAIL IN SEARCH OF THE ARIADNE--FALL IN WITH A BOAT AND CREW--THE MASTER
OF THE HELEN--HIS NARRATIVE--ATTACK OF PIRATES--CAPTAIN DELANO--CAN HE
HAVE SEIZED THE ARIADNE?

"Something black and low over the starboard bow," sung out the man
stationed on the main-topgallant-masthead.

"How far off is it?" hailed the first-lieutenant.

"Two miles or thereabout, sir," was the reply.

"What does it look like?" was again asked.

"A boat, I think, sir, as much as anything," answered the look-out.

Scarcely had the seaman aloft hailed the deck, than Mr Vernon, his
countenance paler than usual, showing the agitation within, had slung
his glass over his shoulder, and was on his way up the rigging.  At the
topgallant-masthead he now sat, eagerly looking out towards the point
indicated.  The ship's course was instantly directed towards it.  It was
an exciting moment.  It might prove to be a boat, keel uppermost, and
have no tale to tell, except to let us surmise that she had proved no
ark of safety to those who had trusted to her; or she might have living
beings on board, whom our discovery of her might rescue from starvation
and death.  Other officers followed Mr Vernon aloft.

"She is a boat afloat, and pulling towards us," sung out one of them.

Everybody on board was looking over the sides or out of the ports at the
boat, which we neared rapidly.  We soon made out that there were several
people in her besides those who were pulling; but whether there was a
lady or not, we could not discover.  I pitied poor Mr Vernon's feelings
all the time very much.  He came down on deck again, and stood at the
gangway pale as death, but manfully suppressing his emotion.  The boat
drew near us.  She was evidently belonging to a merchantman, and, from
her build, and the appearance of the people, they were English; but
there was no female form among them.  Mr Vernon scrutinised the
countenances of those in the boat as she came alongside; but he soon,
apparently, recognised none as those he had seen on board the _Ariadne_,
for he drew a deep breath, and, I thought, seemed more composed.

The people from the boat now came up the side, and she was hoisted up.
She was in a very battered condition, and had evidently been lately
repaired in a hurried manner.

They were received at the capstern by Captain Poynder.  An honest,
sturdy-looking gentleman stepped forward as spokesman.

"I see that I am fortunate enough to have got on board a British
man-of-war," he began.  "Well, sir, I have a pretty account of piracy
and attempted wholesale murder to give."

"Let me hear it at once, sir, that I may judge what is to be done," said
Captain Poynder.

"Yes, sir, certainly.  My name is Hudson, sir.  You must know that I am,
or rather was, master of the _Helen_ brig.  We sailed from Liverpool,
where we took in a valuable cargo of manufactured goods, chiefly silks
and fine cottons.  We were bound for Leghorn.  While we were taking in
our cargo, there lay alongside of us a fine new brig, the _William_,
owned by some very respectable merchants of our port.  Her master was a
certain Captain Delano, a very well-spoken, fine-looking man.  I cannot
say that I ever liked him.  There was something in his eye, and way of
talking, which made me doubt him.  Not but that he said many things that
were very good and right, but there was nothing hearty in them; and now
and then he let out opinions which made me sure he was a bad man,
notwithstanding the way he had managed to come over his owners.  There
were several suspicious things which I had heard of him from time to
time.  He was an American, hailing from New York; yet he fought very shy
of all masters coming from thence, and had refused, on some excuse or
other, to take charge of a vessel going there.  He, two years ago, had
command of a barque, the _Brunswick_, trading up the Straits.  Some
queer things were said to have taken place in her; and I'm very much
mistaken if the black flag did not fly aboard her more than once.  At
last this Mr Delano was caught attempting to carry out a large
smuggling transaction in Malta harbour, as, perhaps, you may have heard,
sir, when you have been there.  He was convicted, and thrown into
prison.  After having been shut up for a year, he was liberated, ruined
in character, and without a penny in his pocket.  Any other man, almost,
would never again have been able to lift up his head; but his tongue
served him in good stead, and finding his way to Liverpool, he had the
impudence to present himself before his owners, and the wit to persuade
them that he was a much-injured individual, and innocent as the new-born
babe of all the charges brought against him.  They gave him in
consequence, as I said, the command of the _William_, a new brig just
off the stocks.  On some pretext or other, he was constantly aboard us
as we were taking in our cargo; and, with the thoughts I had of him, I
cannot say that I quite liked it.  I understood also, from my people,
that four of the _Brunswick's_ crew had found him out, and shipped with
him; and the night before he sailed another very suspicious-looking
character shipped aboard, and, as the vessel went out of harbour, was
seen doing duty as mate.  I mention these things, sir, that you may
judge whether I am likely to be right in my conjectures as to what
afterwards occurred.  I will not now keep you longer than I can help.
We had a fine passage to the Gut, though with three or four days of
light and baffling winds.  We had got through the Straits; and about a
couple of days after we had passed them, we made out on our weather-bow,
a brig, under easy canvas, standing across our course.

"`Where can she be bound to?' says I to my mate, here.

"`Only to the coast of Africa,' says he; `for you see, sir, she had a
fair wind up or down the Mediterranean.'

"`She is in no hurry, at all events,' says I, `with that sail she has
set.'

"`I can't make it out,' says he.  `See, sir, she looks as if she
intended to speak us.  She has altered her course a couple of points.
Ay, I see how it is--she is short-handed, by the way those sails are
set, and the ropes, too, are all hanging slack about her.  Perhaps she
has lost some of her people by fever, or maybe they have been washed
overboard in a squall.'

"As I looked at the brig more attentively, there was a strange foreign
look about the paint on her sides and figure-head which puzzled me, and
still the cut of her sails and the rake of her masts was English.
Presently, however, an ensign, with the stars and stripes of the United
States, flew out at her peak.  That seemed to set the matter at rest.
The stranger soon bore down on us, and I hailed her to know who she was,
and what she wanted.

"`The _Crescent_, from New York, bound for the Levant,' was the answer.
`We've lost more than half our ship's company in trying to save some
people off a wreck, and have ourselves sprung a leak.  Can you send any
of your people aboard to help us to try and stop it?'

"`Ay, ay,' I answered; for you see, sir, I am always glad to lend a hand
to any other ship's company requiring assistance.  To show that what he
stated was true, three or four hands were working at the pumps, though I
did not see that they were forcing much water over the sides.  We
lowered a boat accordingly, and I jumped in, with four hands, and pulled
aboard the stranger.  As the bowman caught hold of the main-chains--

"`Why, she has canvas over her sides,' he remarked.

"`Shove off, my lads; it's not all right,' I sung out.

"But before the bowman could clear his boat-hook, a couple of cold shot
were hove into the boat, and she began to fill rapidly.  We had no
choice but to scramble on board, or to go down with her.  As soon as we
were on the deck of the stranger, we found ourselves knocked over; and
before we could get on our legs, we were bound hand and foot.  The men
who acted as officers, as well as the crew of the vessel, were rigged
out in so odd a fashion, and their faces so covered up with hair and
black patches, that I could not have recognised them had I known them
ever so well; but still, at the time, it struck me that the fellow who
seemed to be the captain, had a figure very like that of Delano.  Of
course I did not say anything, as I knew that to do so would be a sure
way of getting knocked on the head, and made food for fishes.  Leaving
my people and me on the deck to think what we might, the villains, who
had now got a boat in very good condition, lowered her, and, with
pistols hid under their shirts, and cutlasses and muskets stowed away
underneath the thwarts, went aboard my brig.  In a few minutes they
hailed, which showed me that they had made quick work in taking
possession.  The two vessels were now brought alongside each other, and
lashed together, and my men and I were then handed on board our own
craft, and carried below--I into my cabin, and the rest into the
forepeak, where others of the crew had been already conveyed.  I won't
attempt to tell you how I felt, as I saw the villains rifling my boxes
and lockers, and carrying off everything worth having.  They made quick
work of it, being hurried on by their captain; and then they set-to to
take possession of our cargo.  They left me in my own sleeping-berth, on
my back, so that I could see nothing; but, from the sounds I heard, I
judged that they were handing bale after bale of our cargo into their
own craft.  Their cargo, if they had one, I suppose they hove overboard,
to make room for ours.  How long they continued at this work, I don't
know.  It seemed to me an age, you may be sure, sir.  At last they
knocked off, and there was silence for some time.  I thought they were
going to leave us, when I heard them return on board; and there was a
sound which I could not mistake.  The murderous villains were boring
holes in the ship's bottom.  I felt it was all up with us.  They
intended to let the brig founder, with all her crew, so that there
should be no witnesses to their robbery.  In vain I tried to get my
hands loose.  They were too well secured, and I had, therefore, nothing
to do but to resign myself to my fate.  It was not the first time that I
had faced death; and, sirs, I knew in whom to trust.  He had before
preserved my life.  Gentlemen, I should be an ungrateful wretch if I did
not thus at once acknowledge God's great mercy to us.  He has preserved
our lives, and we are here."

The reverential way in which the worthy master spoke made a deep
impression on me.  There was no ostentation, no hypocrisy, no cant; but
heartfelt gratitude, and humble reliance on God's protecting hand.

"No excuse necessary.  What you say is right--perfectly right.  You
speak as a Christian should, and I honour you for it; but go on,"
replied Captain Poynder, who was evidently anxious to arrive at the
conclusion of the master's somewhat prolix narrative.

"Well, sir," he continued, "of one thing I felt pretty certain, that
Delano was the perpetrator of this horrible outrage.  It was the very
trick he was reported to have played before, and which, from what I had
seen of him, I judged he would be ready to play again.  I could hear the
water begin to rush into the ship, but it did not reach the deck of the
cabin so soon as I expected.  There was a good deal of noise on deck, as
if the pirates were knocking things to pieces; and then I judged that
the vessels had separated, and that the pirate had sheered off to leave
us to our fate.  All was silent, and I could not tell whether my poor
fellows had been carried off or been left to share my fate with the
brig.  Some twenty minutes or half an hour had passed in this state of
uncertainty, when I heard a noise, as if bulkheads were being knocked
in, and my own name was called by a voice which I recognised as that of
my mate.  I shouted joyfully in return, and in a few seconds he and some
of the crew rushed into the cabin and released me.  `The brig seems in
no way inclined to go down, captain,' they exclaimed.  `If we could but
get the pumps rigged, we might save her as well as our lives; but the
pirate has only sheered off to a short distance, and if the villains on
board were to catch sight of our faces on deck, they would soon return
and put a finishing stroke to us.'  `Let's see if we can do anything to
keep the water out,' said I, though I had little hope of success.  On
going into the hold, which was pretty well free of cargo, on examination
I discovered that the holes had been bored through the timbers, instead
of through the planks.  `Either a friend or a lubber has done this,'
exclaimed my mate.  `I think the former,' I observed.  `Get some plugs
as fast as you can, my lads, and we'll soon stop these leaks, and yet
keep the old barkie afloat.'  The holes were bored mostly high up, so
that they were easily got at, and we thus had the greater number of them
quickly plugged.  There is no doubt in my mind that the man who bored
the holes hoped by that means to save our lives.  One of the crew, who
had all been shut up in the forepeak, told me that the man who had
lashed his hands took occasion to pass him, when he whispered, `Don't
move till we're clear off.  Things are not so bad for you as they look.'
When I heard this, I was sure that all on board the pirate were not as
great villains as their leaders.  As soon as this man had got his hands
free--which he did without difficulty, for they were purposely ill
secured--he loosed the rest; and then, afraid to show themselves on
deck, lest the pirates should see them, they worked their way aft to my
cabin.  A strong confirmation to my suspicions that the pirate brig is
no other than the _William_, commanded by Delano, is, that as one of my
people lay bound on her deck, when we were knocked down on boarding her,
he observed the name of the sailmaker on her fore-topsail--John
Reynolds, of Liverpool.  He remarked the name particularly, because he
was the maker who had furnished the sails of the last vessel he had
sailed in; and he remembered that he had observed the same name on the
_William's_ sails.  We remained below for some little time after we had
plugged the holes, and then we managed to wrench off the hatches of the
forepeak.  When we had done this, I crept cautiously out, and looking
over the bulwarks, I saw the pirate about a quarter of a mile off,
laying by us apparently to watch till we should go down.  This made our
position very perilous, for any moment the pirates might return and
knock us all on the head, though, for that matter, I resolved that if
they attempted it, we would sell our lives at no cheap rate.  As I
glanced my eyes along our deck and up aloft, a sad scene of havoc and
destruction met them.  Our running rigging was un-rove and carried off,
our standing rigging was cut through, and what sails remained on the
yards were hanging in shreds.  On deck, our boats were stove in, the
caboose knocked to pieces, and the cooking things gone.  Indeed I could
scarcely have supposed that so much mischief could have been committed
by a few people in so short a time.  Having made these observations, I
again went below to hold a consultation with my mates as to what was
best to be done.  We made up our minds that as long as the water did not
gain on us, and the pirate lay near us, all we could do was to remain
quiet below; but we agreed to arm ourselves in the best way we could,
and, if the pirates returned, to rush out on them in a body, and to
attempt to take them by surprise.  The arms from my cabin had been
carried off; but there were three brace of pistols and a couple of
fowling-pieces in a chest in the after-hold, which had escaped their
notice; as also some ammunition.  We had also among us a couple of axes,
and some thick ends of crowbars; so that we were likely to prove pretty
formidable in a close scuffle.  When we were ready, we almost wished
that the fellows would come back, that we might punish them for what
they had done, and I believe that we should have rendered a good account
of them.  But at the same time, as bloodshed must have followed--and
that in any case is bad,--and we could not have regained our property, I
cannot say but what I am glad they did not make the attempt.  If we had
had the brig under control, we might have done something; but without
sails, and almost sinking, we were helpless.  I now returned on deck, to
watch the movements of the pirate.  All this time the water kept coming
in, and I began to fear that our brig would not keep afloat till the
pirate had sheered off, when suddenly I saw her sheet home her topsails,
let fall her courses, and make sail away to the eastward.  After
watching her for a quarter of an hour--which seemed four times as long a
period,--to make sure that the pirates could no longer see us, I called
the people up from below to rig the pumps.  The pirates had, however,
done their utmost to render them useless, and we soon found that we must
give up all hopes of clearing the ship of water.  We then turned-to to
examine the boats.  One was so completely stove in that she was
perfectly useless; and we made up our minds that we should have to take
to a raft, when the carpenter reported that he could in a very short
time render the other boat seaworthy.  We accordingly did our best to
make her fit to float, though darkness came down upon us before we had
finished.  We could only find one lantern, which enabled us to continue
our work, but very slowly.  We made a rough sort of a raft to keep us
afloat, in case the brig should go down suddenly; but I never passed a
more anxious night.  It was noon the next day before the boat was ready.
Scarcely had we got clear of the brig before she went down; and
certainly it was from no mercy of Delano's that we did not sink in her.
I at once shaped a course for Malta, as the wind had shifted round to
the westward, and it was the British port we could most easily reach,
and where we could at the same time get aid to go in search of the
pirate.  What with baffling winds, we have been a long time knocking
about, and might have been still longer, had we not fallen in with you,
sir.  All I can say more is, that the sooner a stop is put to the career
of those villains, the better.  It is impossible to tell what other
atrocities they may have committed."

While the master of the _Helen_ was giving his narrative, I saw Mr
Vernon turn very pale; and as he made this last observation, I thought
he would have fallen.  It had evidently occurred to him that the
_Ariadne_ might have been seized by Delano.  By a mighty effort of
self-command, however, he recovered himself.

"I am much pleased with your clear statement, Mr Hudson," said Captain
Poynder.  "We will return to Malta immediately, and take steps to
discover what has become of the _William_, or rather the pirate which
plundered you.  I cannot doubt that they are one and the same craft."

"Thank you, sir; that's what I think should be done," said the worthy
master.  "I've no doubt the pirate will be found before long."

"Captain Poynder, is it possible that the pirate could have fallen in
with the _Ariadne_?" said Mr Vernon in a hollow voice, trembling with
agitation.

"I trust not--I trust not," replied the captain.  "We'll hope for the
best: at the same time we will do our utmost to ascertain the truth."



CHAPTER SIXTEEN.

RETURN TO MALTA--SAIL IN A SCHOONER--SEARCH FOR THE WILLIAM--THE IONIAN
ISLANDS--REACH SMYRNA--SURPRISE THE PIRATES--I PRESERVE THE SHIP FROM
BEING BLOWN UP--MYERS AND HIS TRICKS.

We had a foul wind, and it took us three days to beat back into Malta
harbour.  Our return caused much surprise, for it was deemed prudent to
keep Captain Hudson's narrative a secret till we had ascertained what
had become of Delano, lest any of his friends should hear of it, and, by
giving him notice, might enable him to escape.  I was again Mr Vernon's
companion on shore, where we went as soon as we had dropped our anchor.
We first bent our steps to the office of Mr Dunnage, as he seemed to
take a warmer and more active interest than anybody else in the
mysterious disappearance of the _Ariadne_.  We were shown into the
worthy merchant's private room, where he sat surrounded by piles of tin
boxes, with long bygone dates marked on their sides, and heaps of old
ledgers and journals; with pictures of ships on the walls, and a model
of one of antique build, fully rigged, over an old dark oak press at his
back.  Mr Dunnage had a full fresh, Anglo-Saxon countenance, which,
though I at first thought rather grave and cold, after a few minutes'
conversation seemed to beam with kindness and good nature.  He looked
grave as we entered, and having motioned us to be seated, shook his head
as he remarked, "I have no news, lieutenant, of the brig, I am grieved
to say.  Have you anything to report."

"The worst surmises only, sir," said Mr Vernon; and he then gave him an
account of our having picked up the master and crew of the _Helen_, and
of the outrage they had suffered.

Mr Dunnage listened with deep interest.

"Ah! that fully accounts for a circumstance which has puzzled me
exceedingly.  That very brig, the _William_, belongs to my friends,
Hodge, Podge, and Company, of Liverpool; and I am sure they would have
consigned her to me, had they intended her to come here.  Here she came,
however, consigned to a Jew, a man of very disreputable character; and I
understand that she discharged but a very small part of her cargo.  We
must try and find out what has become of it, and see if Captain Hudson
can identify any portion of it.  When I sent down to inquire about her,
I found that she had sailed again, and, it was reported, had proceeded
up to the Levant.  Altogether my suspicions were very much excited,
especially when I found, on inquiry, that Delano was her master.  Her
crew, also, were said to have come on shore in gay-coloured silk
waistcoats, and to have spent more money than seamen are likely to have
lawfully possessed."

"Oh, let us at once try and find out what was the nature of the cargo
sold by Delano," exclaimed Mr Vernon.  "Can you tell me what the
_Ariadne_ had on board?"

"I see the drift of your question," answered Mr Dunnage; "but I do not
think that, foolhardy as Delano may be, he would have ventured to offer
for sale articles which had been shipped from this, and would be so
easily recognised.  No; all that we can hope to prove without a doubt
is, that the _William_ is the brig which plundered the _Helen_; and we
must then take means to find out, without delay, what has become of her,
and to put a stop to her career.  Stay; let me consider what is best to
be done.  The Admiral will, I am sure, gladly send all the men-of-war
that can be spared to look out for her."

"I have thought of that already," said Mr Vernon; "but, my dear sir, I
suspect that such would not be the best way to capture the pirate crew.
They would very likely hear of our being on the search for them, or
would become suspicious at the sight of a man-of-war, and contrive to
make their escape.  We shall require to use great caution to get hold of
so clever a fellow as Delano is described to be.  I would propose rather
to fit out a small merchantman, a xebeque or schooner, and to man her
with men-of-war's men.  We may, in a craft of that description, be able
to get alongside the _William_, unsuspected, and to capture her without
loss of life."

"A capital idea," exclaimed Mr Dunnage.  "I have a craft in my eye,
which I think you will consider suitable for the object; and I am
certain the merchants here will gladly defray all expenses."

So the matter was settled; and as neither Mr Dunnage nor my lieutenant
were men who would allow the anchor to block up Mr Neptune's cottage
door for many days together, we immediately set off to have a look of
the vessel proposed.  She was a small schooner, the _Thisbe_,--most
vessels in the Mediterranean have classical names; and the result of the
examination was the opinion that she was well suited for the purpose.

"Now, my dear lieutenant," said Mr Dunnage, "do you go on board and
beat up for a crew.  I will run round to the merchants to get them to
share the expenses.  By this evening she shall have her stores on board
and be ready for sea.  Don't suppose I'm bragging.  Where there is a
will there is a way."

Off ran our excellent friend, while Mr Vernon and I hastened on board
to describe the proposed plan to Captain Poynder, and to get his leave
to borrow some of the _Harold's_ men.  As may be supposed, there were
plenty of volunteers for the expedition,--indeed, everybody wanted to
go; but we had to wait patiently till Mr Dunnage came on board, as he
promised to do, to announce what arrangements he had made.  When I got
back into the berth, I found all the youngsters discussing the subject
of the disappearance of the _Ariadne_.  It was the general opinion that
it was possible Delano and his crew might have fallen in with her; but
still she had had ample time to reach Gibraltar.  We made up our minds
that Mr Vernon would be placed in command of the expedition, and we
each of us hoped to be selected to accompany him.  Adam Stallman, who
was in the berth, did not make any remark; but after a time he got up
and went on deck.  He looked, I observed, more sad and full of care than
even Mr Vernon.  At last Mr Dunnage came on board with a despatch from
the Admiral to Captain Poynder.  Mr Vernon was soon afterwards sent for
into the cabin.  The consultation was very short.  When he came out, he
informed Adam Stallman that he had applied for him as his mate, and, to
my great satisfaction, told me that I was also to accompany him.  I was
very anxious to get Dicky Sharpe; so, mustering up all my courage, I
boldly asked Captain Poynder if he might be of the party.

"I suppose Mr Du Pre can dispense with his valuable services in the
ship for a time," replied the captain; "so, if Mr Vernon will take
charge of him, and you, Mr D'Arcy, will undertake that he gets into no
mischief, he has my leave to go."

The truth was, the captain was glad to allow the mates and youngsters to
go away in small craft, as he considered that they thus gained more
knowledge of seamanship, and confidence in their own resources, than
they could have done by remaining on board.  Twenty picked men were
selected from among the volunteers to man the schooner.  Mr Hudson, and
four of his crew, were also asked to go, to identify, if they could, the
pirates.  As soon as the volunteers had got their bags ready, and been
mustered, we were ordered away in the boats to bring the schooner down
to the frigate, from up a creek in the harbour where she lay; while the
purser was directed in the meantime to get provisions and stores in
readiness for her.  Where a body of disciplined men labour with a will,
a large amount of work can be done in a short time; and thus, before
night set in, we had the _Thisbe_ fitted for sea, provisioned, stored,
and watered.  We shipped, likewise, four light guns, and a supply of
small-arms and cutlasses, that we might make sure of mastering the
pirates, in case the plan of taking them by surprise should miscarry.
We were also ordered to take with us our rough clothes, that we might
look as much as possible like merchant seamen.  Our shipmates in the
_Harold_ gave us three cheers as we cast off from her side, and, with a
light breeze and a clear sky, stood out of the harbour.  The merchants
had left full discretion to Mr Vernon to proceed as he judged best from
the information he might obtain; but they suggested, at the same time,
that he should run through the Greek islands, among which it was
probable the pirate would have gone; and, not finding her there, proceed
to Smyrna, where it was reported one of the pirates had said they were
going.  Both Mr Vernon and Adam Stallman had been on shore all day
picking up what information they could.  Among other things, they found
that the crew of the _William_ had been very profuse in their
expenditure on shore; and, as if to account for the quantity of cash
they possessed, had said that they had the luck to fall in with an
abandoned vessel.  To show, however, how difficult it is for rogues to
agree in a false story, one had said that they had met her in the Bay of
Biscay, and another, inside the Straits, while a third had the audacity
or blind folly to declare that the name was the _Helen_, though the
others gave her different names.  As soon as it was known that
suspicions were attached to the crew of the _William_, several tradesmen
came forward to say what they knew about them.  One of these gentlemen
said that he thought it rather odd, as I think indeed he might, when one
of the men ordered twenty silk waistcoats of him of different gay
patterns, and paid the price down at once, while another bought six
green coats.  I dare say Mr Snip charged him a full price.  He declared
that he had not sufficient reason to give any information to the police
about the matter, as seamen were curious fellows, and sometimes fond of
displaying fine clothes.  Another had spent large sums in a jeweller's
shop, and had gone out with several gold chains about his neck.  From
what was reported, indeed, it appeared that the wretched crew had spent
a large part of their ill-gotten wealth.  To account for their having so
much cash, it was ascertained that they had at first gone to Leghorn,
where Delano had doubtless disposed of some part of the cargo.  It is
only surprising that the authorities at Leghorn had not detained her,
when there were so many suspicious circumstances about her.  Thus, all
the time that the wretches were under the idea that their crime was
unknown, and themselves unsuspected, they were insuring the means of
their own detection and capture.  I kept the first watch, with Adam
Stallman, the night we sailed, when he made the above remark, and many
others.

"You will observe, D'Arcy," said he, "as you go through life, that
evil-doers nearly always lay nets for their own destruction: I might, I
think, safely say always.  These men have already given us evidence
which must be sufficient to convict them; and, if not, depend on it, we
shall find it before long.  Now, how do you think this happens?
Because, as I believe the Evil Spirit is ever going about seeking whom
he may devour, he tempts men to commit sin; and then so blinds their
minds, that they can no longer form a right judgment, even to save
themselves from the detection of their fellow men.  His temptations,
also, are so weak and frivolous, when viewed in their proper light,
that, did not one know the folly of man, one would be surprised that he
could venture to make use of them.  His baits are always of a tinselly
or shadowy nature, either worthless when caught, or altogether
illusions, as useless to people in general as the gold chains and silk
waistcoats are to these rough pirates.  Should it not make our hearts
sink with sorrow, when we see the worthless wealth, the empty titles,
for which men barter away their souls?"

I agreed with Stallman as to the correctness of his remarks.  My
excellent messmate was very fond of endeavouring, in a similar mode, to
give instruction to the youngsters brought in contact with him.  To do
him justice, he contrived to do so in a more interesting way than my
account might leave my readers to suppose.  We had a fair wind, though
light, for the first twenty-four hours, and the schooner made good way;
but at the end of that time it shifted round to the eastward, a regular
sneezer came on, the sea got up, and, close-hauled, the little schooner
was soon ploughing her way through the foaming waves.  My long service
in the cutter made me perfectly at home; but Dicky Sharpe, who had never
been in a small craft in his life, was very soon done up.  He threw
himself down on a locker in the little cabin aft, looking the very
picture of misery.

"Oh!  D'Arcy, my dear fellow, do have the kindness to heave me
overboard," he groaned out.  "I can be of no further use to any one in
this world, and it would be a charity to put me out of it.  It would,
indeed, I assure you."

"Oh, nonsense, Sharpe," I answered.  "You are speaking gross folly: only
your sea-sickness excuses you."

"Now, don't scold me, Neil,--don't," he replied.  "If you felt as I do,
you would not be inclined to be very sensible."

"Well, then, get up, and be a man," said I.  "If you give in like that,
and fancy yourself dying, and all sorts of things, you deserve to be
thrown overboard; though I'm not the person going to do it."

"All hands shorten sail!" sung out Adam Stallman, who had charge of the
deck.

I sprang up the companion-ladder, followed by Dicky, and from that
moment he forgot all about his sea-sickness.

We soon got the little craft under snug canvas, and time it was to do
so; for, as man-of-war's men often do small craft, we had been treating
her like a big ship, and carrying on till the last moment.  Never had
the _Thisbe_ been shoved through the water, probably, at the rate we had
lately been going; but more haste the worst speed, as we ran a great
chance of proving to our cost, for we were very near carrying the masts
over the sides, or making the small craft turn the turtle.

For two days we beat up against the gale, not one of us keeping a dry
thread on our backs; but after forty-eight hours of a good honest blow,
the wind seemed to have done enough for the present, and turning into a
light baffling breeze, left us to make an easy, though slow, passage
across the blue calm sea.  This sort of weather continued till we made
the mountainous and wild-looking coast of the island of Cephalonia.  We
ran in close along shore, as there are no rocks to bring up a vessel;
and, standing up a deep bay on the western side, with Guardiana, or
Lighthouse Island, on the north, dropped our anchor off Argostoli, the
chief town.  Most of the people were ordered to keep quiet below, while
Mr Vernon, in plain clothes, went on shore in the dinghy.  He came back
in a short time, and reported that he could gain no tidings answering to
the description of the _William_.

My own knowledge of Cephalonia is but slight; but Stallman, who had been
there before, gave me some information about it.  It is one of the
Ionian Islands, under the protection of England, and had an English
garrison, at that time consisting of about five hundred of the rifle
brigade.  Thanks to Sir Frederick Adams, the country appears to be in a
flourishing condition; the roads are excellent, and the inhabitants
cultivate not only the fertile valleys, but every inch of soil to be
found among its rocky heights.  There is another neatly-built and
pleasantly--situated town, called Luxuria, about three miles from
Guardiana.

If we thought Cephalonia interesting, Zante, the next place at which we
touched, was far more so.  Its citadel occupies a lofty hill, situated
at the head of a deep bay.  The citadel, bristling with guns,--the town,
with its steeples and domes,--and the surrounding country, with its
groves of olives, its fields of waving corn, and its villas and hamlets,
presented to our eyes a scene of surpassing loveliness.  Not a word of
information could we obtain of the objects of our search; so we again
weighed anchor and stood on towards Corfu, the most beautiful and
interesting of all the Ionian Islands, within sight of the lofty and
picturesque mountains of Albania.  The citadel of Corfu, standing on an
island on the southern side of the town, may, from its lofty position,
surmounted by a lighthouse, be discovered at a considerable distance out
at sea.  Its southern side is completely inaccessible, and art has
rendered the other sides equally difficult to ascend; so that it is
almost, if not entirely, impregnable.  The island is connected to the
mainland by a bridge, at the end of which is the fine open place called
the Esplanade, extending from the west side of the bay, to the palace of
the Lord High Commissioner on the east.  Most of the streets run at
right angles to each other; the principal, the Strada Real, runs to the
gate which forms the chief entrance to the town.  The houses are for the
most part built in an irregular and slovenly manner; and even the public
buildings cannot boast of much beauty.  The inhabitants, of the town
especially, are a mixture of Greeks and Venetians.  In the country the
population is more purely Greek.  The roads, constructed chiefly by
fatigue parties from the garrison, are excellent, and extend to every
corner of the island, and must contribute much to its material
prosperity.  At all events, British rule has been of great benefit to
the Ionian people.  It might have been of greater.  More might have been
done to educate and improve the people, both morally and religiously;
but had they been left to themselves, they would most probably be in a
far worse position than they now are.

Our inquiries here were as little satisfactory as at other places; and
we were just tripping our anchor, when a merchant-brig, coming up the
harbour, passed us.  Mr Vernon hailed her, to learn where she came
from.

"Smyrna," was the reply.

She brought up near us, and he went on board.  He returned shortly with
more animation in his countenance than I had long seen there.

"I have at last notice of the fellow," he said.  "A vessel answering the
description of the _William_ was in Smyrna harbour when the brig came
out.  The crew, by their conduct, seem to have excited some suspicion;
and my only fear is that they may find it not safe for them to remain,
and will, therefore, take their departure."

This information put us all in spirits, for we had begun almost to
despair of catching the pirate after all.  Not a moment was lost in
getting under weigh, and in making all sail the schooner could carry.

We had a fair wind, and nothing worthy of note occurred on the passage,
till we made the entrance of Smyrna harbour, in the outer port of which
we dropped anchor.  Mr Vernon then dressed himself like the mate of a
merchantman, and with one of our own people, and one of the crew of the
_Helen_, prepared to leave the schooner's side in the dinghy.  Just at
the last moment I mustered courage to beg that he would let me accompany
him.  I had rigged myself in plain clothes, and might, I fancied, have
been taken for a steward, or the captain's son.  Mr Vernon considered
for a moment.

"Yes, come along, D'Arcy," said he.  "You will not do us any harm in
that dress, and your eyes and judgment may be of service."

I was delighted at the permission I had gained, and eagerly jumped into
the boat.  Away we then pulled up the harbour, in the lazy fashion of a
collier's crew.  We scrutinised narrowly each vessel in our course, but
none answered the description of the _William_.  At last John Norris,
the seaman from the _Helen_, exclaimed--

"There, sir, that's her; inside the barque there.  See, she's got her
fore-topsail loosed, and there's the name of the maker on it--the very
thing which first let us know that she was the _William_."

To make more sure that the man was not mistaken, we pulled up the
harbour a little way, and then touching the shore, so as not to excite
the suspicion of the pirates, should they by chance observe us, we
passed close by the vessel on our return.  There was, I thought, as I
watched her, a dark, ill-boding look about her; but that might have been
fancy.  One man only was to be seen.  He was walking the deck, with his
hands in his pockets, and occasionally looking over the side.  He caught
sight of us as we pulled by, and seemed to be watching us narrowly.  I
felt almost sure that he suspected something was wrong; but probably he
had got a habit of scrutinising everything which approached him, as a
London pickpocket does when he knows that the police are aware of his
course of life.  As we dropped past the brig's quarter, I got a better
view of his countenance, and I felt sure that I had seen it before.  It
was that of a man I supposed to have been hidden long ago, with all his
crimes, beneath the waves--no other than Bill Myers.  It was a
countenance I could not readily forget, after our encounter in the
cavern.  Then, in spite of all probabilities, he had contrived to escape
from the breakers of the Portland Race.  I was afraid to look up again,
lest he should also recognise me, and give the alarm to his shipmates;
indeed, I was not at all satisfied that he had not already suspected our
intentions.  A small boat was floating astern of the brig.  He watched
us for some time, as we returned towards the schooner, and as long as I
could observe him, he was keeping his eye on us.  We lost not a moment,
on returning on board, in getting out a merchantman's long-boat, which
we had brought with us.  She pulled four oars, and was a large, roomy
boat.  Besides the hands to pull her, eight of our men were stowed away
under a tarpaulin, which was thrown over them, to look exactly as if it
were covering up some merchandise.  All hands under the tarpaulin were
strongly armed, and arms were placed in readiness, stowed away for the
use of those who were pulling.

Mr Vernon again changed his dress, and I followed his example, lest
Myers--or the man I took for him--might recognise us.  With beating
hearts we once more left the schooner.  We pulled slowly up the harbour,
and soon came in sight of the pirate brig.  The people, who had probably
been at their dinners when we before passed, were now some of them
aloft, fitting the rigging, and others working on deck.  It required,
therefore, careful management on our part to take them by surprise.  We
pulled up, as if we were going to pass them at some little distance on
the starboard side.  The men imitated admirably the lubberly, sluggish
fashion in which some merchant seamen handle their oars.  Just as we
were abeam, each of the two men pulling our port oars pretended to catch
crabs, and this suddenly brought the boat broadside on to the brig's
side.  Before, however, we could hook on, even the hands aloft seemed to
suspect that something was not right, and came sliding down the rigging.
But notwithstanding this, we were too quick for them, and before they
could get below to alarm the rest, the party under the tarpaulin had
thrown it off, and we all together sprung up the sides, and attacked
every one we encountered.  Some fought desperately.  One fellow tried to
throw himself overboard; but we soon overpowered them, and had them
lashed hands and feet.  To rush into the cabin was the work of a moment.
The door was locked, but we burst it open.  The noise made the captain,
who was in his hammock, start up.  He gazed at us for a moment, wildly
and fiercely, and then drawing a pistol from under his pillow, fired it
at us.  The ball passed close to Mr Vernon's ear, and buried itself in
the bulkhead.  With a savage oath, the pirate was drawing out another
pistol, when we threw ourselves on him and seized his arms.  The weapon
went off in the struggle, and very nearly finished my career--the ball
actually taking off the rim of my tarpaulin hat.  Before he could make
any further resistance, three of our people followed us into the cabin,
and we soon had him, with his arms lashed behind him, and his feet
secured together.  While the operation was going on, he glanced at us
like a tiger, but did not utter a word.  The remaining few of the
pirates, who had been asleep forward in their hammocks, had been secured
without resistance.  I looked round for Myers, or the man I had taken
for him, but he was nowhere to be seen.

Just as we had finished securing Delano, I bethought me that I smelt an
unusual sulphurous odour.  A dreadful suspicion had seized me.  Outside
the main cabin was a door, leading to a smaller one.  I forced it open,
with a strength I did not think myself capable of exerting.  I felt that
there was not a moment to be lost.  On the deck were a couple of casks,
and a slow match, burning at one end, communicated with one of them.  I
cannot say that I thought, and yet I was conscious, that in another
moment I and all on board might be blown into eternity.  I know not what
impulse moved me; but, bending down my mouth, I seized the burning match
between my teeth, and, though it much burned my lips and tongue, held it
there till it was extinguished.  Then, overcome by the excitement of my
feelings, I sunk down over one of the casks.  There I lay for a moment,
almost unconscious of anything.  I need scarcely say that the casks were
filled with gunpowder.  I should have fainted had not Mr Vernon come
in, and had me carried on deck.

"Your presence of mind has saved all our lives, D'Arcy, and I can never
forget it," he exclaimed.  "But we have still more work to do.  Lift off
the hatches, my lads."

This order was quickly obeyed.  With eager haste he hunted through every
part of the ship.  I guessed at length what was in his mind.  He was
seeking to discover any property of the Normans, or any articles which
might have been on board the _Ariadne_.  It was a moment of dreadful
anxiety.  Nothing, however, was to be found which could lead us to
suppose that the _Ariadne_ had fallen into the power of Delano.  Mr
Vernon had directed Adam Stallman to get the schooner under way, and to
bring her up alongside the pirate brig, as soon as he calculated we
could have taken possession.  She now appeared, and, furling sails,
dropped her anchor close to us.  The scuffle on board the _William_ had
attracted the attention of the crews of the vessels lying near, several
boats from which presently came alongside; and it was, I fancy, at first
believed that we were a band of pirates, attempting to cut out a British
merchantman.  Mr Vernon explained to them what had occurred, and after
a little time satisfied them that we had full authority for what we were
doing.  I can scarcely describe events in the order they occurred.  Our
search over the brig having been concluded, and no one else being
discovered, we made inquiries among the pirate crew, to learn who had
laid the plan for blowing up the ship; but one and all denied having any
knowledge of it.  Even Delano was taken by surprise when he was told of
it by Mr Vernon.

"Ah! that's the work, then, of that unhung scoundrel, my mate, Dawson,"
he exclaimed.  "It was a thought worthy of him.  What! and has he
escaped?"

"We found no one who appears to be your mate," said Mr Vernon.  "But
what could have induced him to commit such an atrocious act?"

"To try and save his own neck by sending us all to perdition before our
time," exclaimed Delano, evidently for the moment forgetting all
caution, from his feeling of exasperation, and thus clearly inculpating
himself.

"Where do you think he has gone, then?" inquired Mr Vernon, quickly,
hoping to gain further information from the pirate in his present mood.

"That's not for me to say," he replied; but not another word could we
elicit from him on the subject.

He kept his fierce eyes glaring on us as we searched the cabin.  We came
on a box of cigars in one of the lockers.

"Ah! bring me one of those," he growled out.  "You will let a man make
himself comfortable in his own cabin, at all events."

A seaman, as sentry, had been placed over him, with a pistol in his
hand.

"May I give it him, sir?" asked the man.

"No; not on any account," replied Mr Vernon; "but do you, D'Arcy, light
one and put it in his mouth."

As I stooped down to follow my superior's directions, I fancied the
pirate would have tried to bite off my fingers, he gave so vindictive
and fierce a look at me.  As I stood by him, I asked, "Has your mate,
whom you call Dawson, ever been known by the name of Myers?"

"What's that to you, youngster?  Most men have more than one name," was
his somewhat equivocal answer.

His manner, however, rather confirmed me in my suspicion that the man I
had seen on deck was no other than the daring smuggler we had so often
tried in vain to capture in the cutter.  Having thoroughly examined the
ship, we transferred Delano and five of his crew into the schooner,
while the remainder were secured on board the brig, into which Adam
Stallman and Sharpe, with ten of our people, were sent as a prize crew.
Before sailing, Mr Vernon went on shore to report to the English
Consul, as well as to the Turkish authorities, what had occurred.  He
got great credit from the merchants for the mode in which he had
captured the pirate.  It appeared that even there the conduct of the
crew had begun to excite suspicion; but as it happened to be nobody's
business to inquire into the affair, they would have escaped, had we not
opportunely arrived, that very day.

No information could be obtained of the missing mate.  He had not been
seen to land, and no one had heard of him.  The dinghy, however, having
disappeared from the brig's stern, was sufficient proof that he had
effected his escape in her.  I was too much occupied all the time I was
at Smyrna, to make many observations about the place.  Figs are the
great staple produce and subject of conversation for the greater part of
the year, enlivened now and then by a visit from the plague, and then
people talk about that; but at the time I speak of, I do not know that
it had ever occurred to the inhabitants that they had the means in their
own hands of avoiding its constant presence by properly draining their
city.  I have since, from the observations I have made in my course
through life, come to the belief that there is not an ill which afflicts
mankind which they have not the means of mitigating, if not of avoiding
altogether.--But to return to my narrative.  As there was nothing more
to detain us at Smyrna, the two vessels made sail, and shaped a course
for Malta.



CHAPTER SEVENTEEN.

VOYAGE TO MALTA--THE REPENTANT PIRATE--THE PLAGUE--A SQUALL--BOBBY
SMUDGE PROVES USEFUL--ATTEMPT TO CAPTURE THE SCHOONER--TRIAL OF THE
PRISONERS--THEIR EXECUTION--THE YOUNG PIRATE'S DYING COUNSEL.

We had been five days at sea, and a fair breeze, though somewhat light
at times, had sent us tolerably well on our course.  A strict watch had
been kept on the prisoners.  All seemed very unconcerned as to the
almost certain fate which awaited them.  They ate and drank, and laughed
and conversed among themselves, as if they were to be released at the
end of the voyage.  One of their number, however, who had received a
severe hurt in the scuffle when they were captured, was in a very
different temper.  He kept as far apart from them as he could, and
joined neither in their jokes nor conversation.  He was far younger than
the rest; and as I watched him I observed an expression in his
countenance which would not have been there had he been a hardened
villain.  He seemed grateful to me also for noticing him, and I
consequently frequently took an opportunity of saying a word to him
appropriate to his situation.

"I should like to read, sir, if I had a book," he said to me one day.
"I once was used to reading, and it would be a great comfort."

I promised to try and get him a book.  When I told Mr Vernon of the
man's request, he advised me to lend him my Bible.  "He may not care for
it at first," he observed; "but as he wishes to read, he may draw
instruction and comfort from it; and it may, by God's grace, enable him
to perceive the evil of his career."

I accordingly took the pirate my Bible--it had been my sainted mother's.
The unhappy man's eye brightened as he saw it.

"Well, sir, I was ashamed to ask for it, and I knew not if one might be
on board; but that is the book I wanted."

I left it with him, and he was constantly reading it attentively and
earnestly; nor did he allow the sneers and jeers of his companions to
interrupt him.  I had perceived a considerable change in him since he
was brought on board; and he every day seemed to grow thinner and
weaker.  I thought that he was dying; and I believe that he was of the
same opinion.

Some bulkheads had been run up in the after-part of the hold to form a
cabin for Delano--not for his own comfort and convenience, because he
was the greatest villain of the gang; but in order not to allow him an
opportunity of communicating with his companions.  He lay there on a
mattress, with his heavy handcuffs, and his legs chained to staples in
the deck, like a fierce hyaena, glaring on all who looked at him.  I
should not, however, picture him properly if I described him as a
wild-looking savage.  On the contrary, there was nothing particularly
objectionable in his face and figure.  His face was thin and sallow,
without much whisker; his features were regular, and could assume a very
bland expression; his figure, too, was slight and active, and his
address not ungentlemanly: but it was his eye, when either sullen or
excited, which was perfectly terrible.  Conscience he seemed to have
none: it was completely dead, as were all the better feelings of which
our nature is capable: they were destroyed, too, by his own acts--his
long unchecked career of wickedness.  Once he had been gay, happy, and
innocent; but no good principles had ever taken root in his heart.  Very
early, those a mother's care had endeavoured to instil into him had been
eradicated; and step by step--slow at first, perhaps--he had advanced
from bad to worse, till he became the consummate villain he now was.
But I am forestalling the account I afterwards got of him.

We had three officers' watches on board the schooner.  Mr Vernon kept
one, I kept another, and an old quartermaster we had with us kept the
third.  Mr Vernon, in compassion to poor Bobby Smudge, had applied for
him as cook's boy, to get him out of the way of Chissel the carpenter,
his master, and in hopes of improving him by a somewhat different
treatment to what he had been accustomed.  The good effect of
considerate kindness was already apparent; and the poor lad seemed most
grateful for any encouraging word spoken to him.  The best of our men
had been sent on board the brig, and we remained only with eight and the
_Helen's_ crew--a very fair complement, had we not always required two
to stand sentry over the prisoners.  We had another and a more insidious
enemy on board, of whom we wot not, and whom no sentry could control--
the plague--that fell scourge of Asiatic cities.  How it came on board
we could not discover.  It might have been in some of the pirates'
clothes, or some of our men might have caught it while they were on
shore for a short time; or it might have been concealed in the schooner
long before, and only brought forth by a congenial state of the
atmosphere.  There it was, however.  It made its appearance on the fifth
day, and in two days carried off three of our people and one of the
_Helen's_ crew.  The pirates escaped unscathed.  It seemed, indeed, in
no way to alarm them.  They laughed and talked, and blasphemed more than
ever.  We hailed the brig, which had hitherto kept us company, and found
that she was free from the affliction; so that, of course, except at a
distance, we could hold no communication with her.  I will not attempt
to describe the appearance of that dreadful disease.  It was sad to see
the poor fellows attacked, with so little prospect of their recovery;
while no one could tell who would be the next victim.  As they died they
were sewn up in their hammocks, with a shot at their feet, and at once
consigned to the deep.  Mr Vernon read the funeral service appointed by
the Church of England for such an occasion.

After the first man was buried--a fine, active young fellow two days
before, apparently full of life and strength--he addressed the crew:--

"Do not suppose the prayers I have read can do any good to him who has
just gone for ever from our sight.  For your benefit they were offered
up.  A like fate to his may be that of any one of us before another day
has passed; and I would earnestly urge you, for the short time which yet
may remain for you, to turn your hearts to God--to prepare for
eternity."

Something more he said to the same effect.  It was good advice at the
proper time.  I am sorry to say that it was very little heeded, or, at
all events, very quickly forgotten.  Two of those who stood by and heard
it, were themselves, within two days, called to their last and dread
account.  Mr Vernon took it very much to heart; anxious and agitated as
he had been of late, his nerves were much shaken, and I feared that he
would be the next victim.  He bore up bravely, like a Christian, for
some time; but, as one after another of the crew was taken ill, he
succumbed, not to the malady itself, but to very weariness, and was
compelled to take to his cot.  My commander's illness threw a larger
amount of responsibility on me than I had ever before enjoyed.  I felt
on a sadden grown wonderfully manful, and did my best to be up to my
duty.  Watson, the quartermaster, was a great aid to me.  The old man
seemed never to want sleep.  He was on deck at all hours, constantly on
the look-out, or seeing that the sentries were on the alert.  Perhaps he
did not place full confidence in my experience.  We had had light winds
or calms, with a hot burning sun, and sultry nights, for nearly a week.
When this weather commenced, the plague appeared.  The barometer had
been falling for some hours; but still there was no other indication of
a change of weather.  A fourth man was taken ill.  I had gone below to
report the case to Mr Vernon, when I heard Watson's voice, in quick
eager tones, calling the people on deck to shorten sail.  I sprang up
the companion-ladder.  The sea was as smooth as glass, and the sky was
bright and clear enough in the south-east, whence a small dark cloud
came sweeping up at a rapid rate towards us.  I perceived that there was
not a moment to lose.  The people sprang to the halyards and brails; but
before all the sail could be taken off the vessel, the squall had struck
her.  Over she went on her beam-ends.  A cry of terror was heard above
the roar of the wind in the rigging, and the rattling of ropes and
blocks, and the dash of the surging waves.  The water almost reached the
combings of the hatches: everybody on deck thought we were gone.  Two of
the men were washed overboard.  Watson, who was aft, hove one of them a
rope.  He seized it with convulsive energy: his life, dear to the
meanest, depended on the firmness of his grasp.  We hauled him in out of
the seething cauldron; but the other poor fellow drifted far away.  To
the last he kept his straining eyes fixed on the vessel.  He was a
strong swimmer, and struck out bravely--lifting himself, every now and
then, high out of the water, as if that useless exertion of strength
could bring him nearer to us.  Perhaps he was looking for a plank, or
something to make for, to support himself.  Unhappily, none was hove to
him in time.  All hands were too much occupied in the means for
preserving their own lives.  Weak and ill as he was, Mr Vernon had
rushed on deck as he felt the vessel going over.  He had ordered the
helm to be put up; and Watson had seized an axe, waiting his directions
to cut away the mainmast, when the throat-halyard block parted, the
peak-halyards had already been let go, and the mainsail coming in of
itself, the vessel righted in an instant; then, feeling her helm, and
the headsail being yet set, she flew off before the squall.  While we
were rejoicing at our own preservation, we almost forgot our poor
shipmate.  Never can I forget the cry of despair he gave as he saw us
flying from him.  He knew full well that it was impossible for us to
return; not a spar or plank was near to support him, to prolong his life
even for a few short hours.  The brig, also, was too far away to leeward
to render him any help; so that aid from man he had none.  Lifting up
his arms, with eyeballs starting from his head, he gave one last look at
us; and then, uttering a cry of agony, sunk for ever.  It had been
dreadful to see strong men struck down by the plague, and die by rapid
degrees; but I know not whether a scene like this was not still more
harrowing.  In the course of an hour we had run out of the squall, and
the weather had become cool and refreshing.  The squall had one very
beneficial result, for no other persons were attacked with the plague,
and the man who was suffering from it began rapidly to recover.  Vernon
also sensibly felt the change in the weather, and every day I saw an
improvement; though the causes of his illness were too deeply seated to
callow the atmosphere to have much effect on him.  We very soon repaired
the damages which the schooner had sustained, and by the next morning we
were all to rights.  Our chief anxiety was for the brig.  We had lost
sight of her in the squall, and we could not tell whether she had been
more prepared than we were to meet its fury.  Even had she not suffered
from the gale, the plague might have broken out in her.  Mr Vernon came
occasionally on deck, but he was compelled, from weakness, to spend the
greater part of the day in his cot, though this was very much against
his inclination.  We had in vain questioned and cross-questioned our
prisoners, to discover if they knew anything of the fate of the
_Ariadne_, but not a particle of information could we obtain; and I was
myself satisfied that they really knew nothing about her.  Our late
peril suggested a new cause of alarm to the mind of Mr Vernon, which
apparently had not before occurred to him; and he began to fear that the
vessel in which the Normans had sailed might have been overtaken by one
of those white squalls so common in the Mediterranean, and might have
suffered the fate we so narrowly escaped.  Since the squall, our
prisoners had remained unusually quiet; though, while the plague was
aboard, they were as noisy and blasphemous in their conversation as
ever.  The sick man continued in the same state as before, though he
seemed more reserved when I spoke to him than he had been at one time.
He continued reading all day, as long as there was light, and asked to
be allowed to have a candle to read at night; but this, of course, could
not be permitted.  There was evidently something working in his mind,
which he would gladly be rid of, but could not.  Having lost so many
hands, the duty fell, naturally, more severely on the survivors; and we
had enough to do to keep watch on deck, and a vigilant guard over our
prisoners.

One night I had charge of the deck.  Besides the man at the helm there
was the look-out forward, and two hands lying down by the windlass.
There was no moon, and the sky was covered with clouds, so that it was
very dark.  As I kept moving about, now looking out to windward, now
over the lee-side, and then at the binnacle, to see that the schooner
was kept on her proper course, I fancied that I saw a dark figure come
up the main-hatchway; and while I stopped at the waist, I heard a voice,
in a low whisper, say--

"Hist, sir, hist!  I want to speak to you."

"Who is it?" said I, in the same low tone.

"Bobby Smudge, sir; listen: there are not many moments to lose, before
we shall all have our throats cut, if we don't take care."

This piece of intelligence put me on the _qui vive_, though, remembering
Master Smudge's pranks, I own that I did not much credit it.

"Come here," said I, rather impatiently, "and let me know all about it."

"I didn't like to be seen, sir," he replied, coming cautiously up to me,
and looking round to ascertain that no one was near.  "I don't know,
sir, who's a friend and who's an enemy aboard here, just now."

"What do you mean, boy?"  I asked.

"Why, just this, sir.  That thundering scoundrel below there, is just
trying hard to turn all the men's heads; and if we don't look alive,
he'll do it, too."

I now felt that there might be some truth in poor Smudge's information.

"Go on, my lad," said I.

"Well, sir, I has to confess that he first tried it on with me.  While
the people were dying with the plague, and no one was looking on, he
called me to him, and told me that he knowed where loads of gold was
stowed away--enough to sink the ship and freight another twice the size;
and that if I would help him to get his liberty, he'd show it to me, and
that I might have as much as I wanted.  I listened to him, and thought
there would be no great harm if I was to help him to get free, and save
his neck; so I agreed to take a message to the rest of the brig's
people, to tell them to keep up their spirits, and to try and get their
arms and legs out of limbo.  He then told me to hunt in the carpenter's
chest for a file, and a cold-chisel and hammer.  While I was looking one
night for the tools, the thought struck me, all of a heap like--if this
chap was to get free, what would he do with Mr Vernon and you, sir, who
had been so kind to me, and saved me from so many of that Mr Chissel's
finnams?  Why, he'll be cutting their throats, to be sure, and making
off with the schooner; and where should I then be, I should like to
know.  So I goes back to Captain Delano, and tells him I couldn't find
the tools.  He swears a great deal at this, and tells me to go and look
for them again; and that if I didn't bring them, he'd be the death of
me.  How he was to do me any harm while he was chained hand and foot, I
couldn't tell; but still I was very much frightened.  Well,
howsomedever, I keeps a watch on him, and I soon seed that he was trying
it on with some of the _Helen's_ crew; and at last, that he'd got one of
our people to listen to him.  How far he had succeeded in getting them
over to his plans, I couldn't tell till just now.  I had stowed myself
away in the coil of the hawser, just before the bulkhead of his cabin,
where I lay in a dark shadow, so that no one could see me, when I heard
a man talking to him.  I made out that he had almost got his fetters off
his limbs, and that the other people would be shortly free of theirs;
and that they knew where the arms were to be found; and that as soon as
they had got them, they would make a rush on deck, and throw overboard
all who wouldn't join them.  Then they were to carry the schooner to the
coast of Africa, to the very place where all Captain Delano's gold is
stowed away."

How much of this story might be true, and how much imagination, I could
not tell; but it was too serious a matter to allow any risk to be run;
so I ordered him to slip below, and to beg Mr Vernon would at once join
me on deck with his pistols.  He was then to make his way forward, and
to rouse up Watson, with directions to him to come to us.  Bobby was so
quick in his movements, that before a minute had passed they both joined
me.  They were but just in time, when some dark heads were seen rising
up above the combings of the hatchway.  Before, however, they had time
to make their footing good on the deck, Mr Vernon, Watson, and I had
sprung on them, and knocked them below again with the butt-ends of our
pistols.  At the same time, before they could make another attempt, the
three men forward came running aft, and we quickly got the hatches on
over them.  There they and the two wretched traitors Delano had
inveigled to release them remained, like wild beasts shut up in a
cage,--much more dangerous, however, for they had the sentries' muskets,
and perhaps other arms which might have been conveyed to them.  They
were, moreover, driven to desperation, and it therefore required great
caution in dealing with them.  Mr Vernon had recourse to a _ruse_ to
assist in damping their spirits.

"Brig ahoy!" he sung out, "send your boat aboard here well-armed; our
prisoners have broken loose.  Watson," he whispered, "go and get the
people up from forward.  I suppose you can trust them."

"Ay, ay, sir, they are all true enough," he replied; "it's only one of
the merchant-brig's crew, and that poor fellow, Nolan, who was always
weak-like.  They ought never to have been placed as sentries."

When all the people were mustered, we outnumbered the pirates; but,
though we had arms in our hands, so had they; and if we took the hatches
off, we could scarcely hope that they would yield without a struggle,
which would very probably prove a bloody one.  Still, if we let them
remain below, they might commit some mischief--very probably set the
ship on fire, or force their way out through the bulkheads, either
forward or aft, when we were not expecting them.  While this state of
things was continuing, I happened to look over the side: my eyes caught
sight of an object looming through the darkness.

"A sail on the weather bow!"  I sung out, with no little satisfaction.

We hauled up a little, and stood for her.  She had seen us and shortened
sail.

"What vessel is that?"  I inquired.

"A prize to his Majesty's ship _Harold_," answered the voice of Adam
Stallman.

"All right; we want your aid.  Heave-to, and send your boat aboard, with
the people well-armed," I sung out.

In a few minutes Adam himself stood on our deck, with four well-armed
followers.  The inconvenience of a lengthened quarantine, to which he
would be exposed, was not, under the circumstances, to be taken into
consideration.  A plan of operations was soon settled on.  We agreed to
have lanterns ready, and by swinging them down into the hold the moment
the hatches were off, we hoped to discover where the pirates were
stationed, and thus, if they attempted to fire, to be able to take
better aim at them in return.  It was an anxious moment.  At a signal
the hatches were in a moment thrown off.  Delano stood like a lion at
bay, with a musket in his hand.  He fired it at Stallman, and then
attempted to spring up on deck.  Happily the ball missed its aim, and he
was knocked over by several stout fists, which his head encountered, and
fell like a log back into the hold.  Several shots were exchanged, and
the four pirates fought desperately in their hopeless attempt to regain
their freedom.  They were soon, however, overpowered, and borne down on
the deck, without loss of life to either party.  The only people who did
not fight were the two traitors and the sick pirate, and he remained
bound as before, having refused to be liberated.  Delano had been
stunned by his fall, and when he regained his senses, he found himself
again in irons, with additional chains round his arms.  This showed him
probably that all that had passed was not a dream, as it might otherwise
have appeared to him.  He growled out curses against his ill-luck, but
he had no other means of venting his rage and disappointment.  The other
men took the matter very coolly.  It appeared to me that their minds
were too dull and brutalised, and their hearts too callous, to
comprehend their awful position.  Seared in their consciences, they were
truly given over to a reprobate mind.  The two men who had been gained
over by Delano to assist him we sent on board the brig, exchanging them
for two who could be relied on; and now our misfortunes seemed to have
come to an end.  The young man I have spoken of belonging to the
pirate's crew, after this seemed to sink faster than ever.  Mr Vernon,
in consideration of his condition, had him removed from the immediate
neighbourhood of the others, and placed within a screen in the
after-part of the hold.  I then, at his request, went to visit him one
afternoon.  He was sitting up, with the Bible on his knees, and his back
resting against the bulkhead, so that the light which came down the
hatchway-glanced on his forehead and the leaves of the sacred book.  His
hair, which was of a light brown (almost auburn, it had probably been,
as a lad), was very long, and hung down on either side of his high,
smooth, and sunburnt brow.  His dress was that of an ordinary seaman,
and when he was first captured it was perfectly neat and clean.  I went
and sat down on a bucket by his side.

"I have asked to see you again, sir, for you are the best friend I have
found for many a year," he began, in a weak voice, speaking apparently
not without pain and difficulty.  "From this book I have discovered, at
length, the cause of all my crimes, my sufferings, and ultimate doom.
Disobedience brought me to what I now am.  I never learned to obey or to
fear God or man.  I was born in the same rank of life in which you move,
perhaps with far greater expectations; and when I think of what I might
have been and what I am, it drives me to madness, and I wish that I had
never been born.  My father was a man of property and position, and much
esteemed for many virtues.  My mother was highly educated and refined,
and of religions feeling.  It might be supposed that a child of such
parents could not but turn out well.  Unhappily for me, they loved me
much, but not wisely.  I was allowed to have my own way in all things, I
was never taught to obey.  As I grew up, my self-willed disposition
became more and more developed.  I could not bear constraint of any
sort.  Too late they discovered their error.  I had received at home
some little religious instruction; I even knew something about the
contents of the Bible, but its spirit was totally beyond my
comprehension.  At last it was determined to send me to school.  I went
willingly enough, for the sake of the change; but, not liking it, ran
away.  I was not sent back, but instead a tutor was provided for me.  He
was totally unfitted for his occupation, and was unable, had he tried,
to make any good impression on me.  We quarrelled so continually, that
he was dismissed, and I was persuaded to go to school again.  Once more
I ran away; but this time I did not run home.  I wanted to see the
world, and I was resolved to become a sailor.  I cannot bear to dwell on
my ingratitude and heartlessness.  I knew that my disappearance would
almost break my mother's heart, and that my father would suffer equally;
yet I persevered.  I little thought what I was to go through.  A fine
brig was on the point of sailing for the coast of Africa.  I fell in
with the master, and offered to go with him.  He asked no questions as
to who I was, or where I came from; but, wanting a boy, he shipped me at
once.  The next day we were at sea, and all means of tracing me were
lost.  I was not ill-treated; for the captain, though bad enough in many
respects, had taken a fancy to me.  We were to engage, I found, in the
slave-trade.  At first I was shocked at the barbarities I witnessed, but
soon got accustomed to them.  We did not always keep to that business.
The profits were not large enough to satisfy our avarice; and even
piracy we did not hesitate to commit at times, when opportunity offered.
At length the brig was cast away, and many of the crew and all our
ill-gotten gains were lost.  I, with two or three others, who escaped,
shipped on board a Spanish slaver.  We changed from bad to worse.
Knives were in constant requisition; more than once I dyed my hands in
blood.  I gained a name, though a bad one; and was feared, if not loved.
Such was the training--such the scenes of my youth.  After a time I
began to weary of the life, and wished to see English faces, and to hear
English spoken once more; so, finding a vessel short of hands returning
home, I ran from the slaver, and shipped on board her.  We were cast
away on the south coast of England; many of my shipmates never reached
the land.  I was picked up by a boat's crew when almost exhausted, and
was carried by them into a cave near the shore.

"They belonged to a large band of smugglers,--their leader one of the
most daring and successful on the coast.  I was too much hurt to be
moved for some days, and passed the time listening to their adventures,
which they were at no pains to conceal.  I became so much interested in
their mode of life, that a few words of encouragement from their chief,
who was known under the name of Myers, induced me to join them.  I
thought I would take a few cruises with him before I paid a visit to my
home, to inquire for my father and mother.  A wild life I spent for some
time.  Our lawless occupation led us into many acts of violence, in
which I was never backward.  One you are cognisant of.  I was in the
cavern when you and your commanding officer were brought there, and I
assisted in hanging you over the pit.  I was a favourite with Myers; and
he trusted me entirely.  When he was obliged to leave the country, I had
resolved to start homeward; but was engaged in running a cargo on shore,
when I was captured by the revenue men, and after an imprisonment of
some months, sent on board a man-of-war.  She was bound for the coast of
Africa.  I laughed at the climate which carried off many of my
shipmates; but the discipline of a king's ship did not suit me, and I
took an early opportunity of running from her.

"I lived among the blacks for some time; but it was a weary life, and
finding a trader homeward bound, I got on board, and at length reached
Liverpool.  I went to my father's house.  Both he and my mother were
alive, but I had great difficulty in persuading them of my identity.
When they were convinced of it, they were ready to receive me like the
Prodigal.  But I had not repented.  I was not fit to dwell with them.  I
felt like a wild beast among lambs.  I had not an idea in common with
them.  When the novelty wore off, my evil habits came uppermost.  I
asked my father for money.  He told me that he wished me to embrace some
regular calling, and desired to know what I would choose.  I laughed at
the notion.  He still declined giving me the sum I asked for, but I
insisted that I must have it.  My looks alarmed him, and at length he
reluctantly gave it me.  With it I set off for Liverpool, where I soon
spent it.  Then the first pang of remorse came across me.  I thought of
the calm quiet of that home for which I had so completely unfitted
myself.  I was meditating returning to it once more, and asking my
father to explain his wishes, when, as I was sauntering along the quays,
I encountered Myers.  He was much disguised, but he knew me and stopped
me.  He told me that he was engaged in a scheme by which a rapid fortune
was to be made; that he could not then unfold it; but that, if I would
ship on board a vessel with him, he would explain it when we were at
sea.  My impulse was to refuse; but I was tired and weary, and consented
to enter a tavern with him.  He there plied me with liquor till all my
scruples vanished, and I became once more his slave.

"What occurred on board that vessel I cannot now tell; but you will
probably know ere long.  But the favour I have to ask of you is, that if
I die, as I hope to do before our trial, you will find out my parents,
and tell them, not all the truth, but how you encountered me on the
point of death, and that I died repentant."

I promised the unhappy young man that I would do as he desired, and, at
his request, I took down the name and address of his parents.

I have often since thought, as I recollected this story, that if parents
did but consider the misery they were storing up for themselves and
their children by neglecting the precepts of the wise King of Israel,
they would, oftener than they do, search that book for counsel and
advice, and would teach their children also to seek instruction from its
copious pages.

Oh! my young friends, remember that you cannot live well without some
rule of conduct, any more than you can steer a ship across the ocean
without a compass or knowledge of the stars.  Then, let me urge you to
take the best rule you can find; and where, let me ask, does there exist
one comparable, in any way, to that found in the Proverbs of Solomon?
If you would be truly wise, learn them by heart, and remember them
always.

We were very thankful when, at length, we reached Malta harbour.  Of
course we were put into quarantine, but we were relieved from the charge
of our prisoners.  To his own surprise, as well as mine, Charles Adams--
so he called himself--the young man whose short history I have just
narrated, still survived, and there appeared every probability that he
would be able to undergo his trial.  Our first inquiry was to ascertain
if any news had been received of the _Ariadne_; but nothing had been
heard of her, and poor Mr Vernon was doomed still longer to endure the
tortures of suspense.

At last our quarantine was concluded, the pirates were carried off to
prison, and we returned on board our ship, which had come in from a
cruise just in time to receive us.  For several days we did nothing but
talk about our adventures with our own messmates, as well as with
various people who came off to see us.  I got great credit for the way
in which I had saved the brig from being blown up; though, as I was as
much interested as any one else in the success of the performance, I
cannot say that I thought I had done any great thing.

Poor Bobby Smudge came in, too, for his share of praise for having
informed us of the plot of the pirates to retake the schooner; and most
certainly he had been the means of saving all our lives.  No one after
this attempted to bully him, and I observed a marked improvement in his
appearance and character.

The trial of the pirates came on at once; and the _Harold_ was kept in
harbour, that we might attend it as witnesses.  I will not enter into
minute particulars.  The leading facts of the case will be of sufficient
interest.  Evidence had been collected to prove that the _William_ had
sailed from England with one description of cargo, and that her master
had disposed of various articles not among it.  To account for this,
Captain Delano replied that he had fallen in with an abandoned ship, and
had taken part of her cargo out of her.  He stood bold and unabashed, as
if confiding in his innocence; but his countenance fell when two of his
own crew appeared in the witness-box, and he was informed that they had
turned King's evidence.

"Then there is a conspiracy against me, and my life will be sworn away,"
was his reply.

Nothing that he could say, however, made any one doubt his guilt.

I was in hopes that the young man in whom I had taken so much interest
would have been allowed to turn King's evidence, but I found that he had
refused to do so.

"No," said he, when asked the question; "I do not wish to preserve my
own worthless life by aiding in the condemnation of others.  If I am
found guilty, I am ready to suffer with them."

Nothing, I found, would alter his determination.  When brought into
dock, he was far too weak to stand; but there was a look of calm
contentment in his countenance--I might describe it almost as
happiness--seldom borne by a person in his awful position.  His
appearance excited much interest in all those who saw him, though few
were aware of the mighty change which had taken place within his bosom,
and still less of the cause of that change.  How different did he look
from the rest!  No ferocity, no callousness, no stoical indifference, no
assumption of innocence could be traced in any one of his features.
Calm and thoughtful, he sat watching the proceedings, as one deeply
interested in their result.  People could scarcely believe their senses
when they heard the evidence given against him.  Who more blood-thirsty,
who more eager for plunder, who so regardless of the terror and
sufferings of others, as Charles Adams?

From the evidence brought out in court, it appeared that Delano, late
master of the _William_ brig, belonged to New York, in the United States
of America.  Though of most respectable parents, at an early age he had
taken to evil courses, and was at length compelled to leave his native
city for some notorious act of atrocity.  His plausible manners,
however, enabled him after a time to get command of several merchantmen
in succession.  One after another, they were cast away under very
suspicious circumstances.  The underwriters suffered, and the owners
built larger and finer vessels, while he had evidently more money than
ever at command.  It now appeared, by the evidence of one of the
prisoners who had sailed with him, that one at least he had purposely
cast away, for the purpose of obtaining the insurance, she being insured
for a far larger amount than she was worth.  After this he got into the
employment of a highly respectable firm in Liverpool, and sailed in
command of a fine brig for the Mediterranean.  Here was a good opening
for making an honest livelihood; but such a course did not suit the
taste of Delano.  Several of his crew, brought up in the slave-trade, or
as smugglers, were ill-disposed men; others were weak, ignorant, and
unprincipled, and were easily gained by his persuasions to abet him in
his evil designs.  Finding, after they had been some time at sea
together, that neither his mates nor his crew were likely to refuse
joining in any project he might suggest, he boldly proposed to them to
turn pirates; and not only to plunder any vessels they might fall in
with, whose crews were unable to offer resistance, but, by putting them
out of the way, to prevent all chance of detection.  They waited,
however, till they got into the Mediterranean, and they there fell in
with a fine brig, out of London, laden with a valuable cargo.  They
surprised and overpowered the crew, whom they confined below, while they
plundered her of everything valuable.  Some of her crew had recognised
them.  To let them live would certainly lead to their own detection; so
they scuttled the ship, and remained by her till she sunk beneath the
waves, with the hapless people they had plundered on board.  Then they
went on their way rejoicing, and confident that no witnesses existed of
their crime.  They knew not of the Eye above which had watched them;
they thought not of the avenging witness in their own bosoms.  In the
wildest revels and debauchery they spent their ill-gotten wealth.  This
time they were true to each other, and if any one suspected that their
gold was obtained by unfair means, it was found impossible to prove
anything against them.  It was before this, I believe, that Delano had
attempted to carry out some smuggling transaction at Malta, and had been
thrown into prison; on being liberated from which, ruined in fortune, he
had taken to the desperate courses I have described.  He next got
command of the _William_ brig, in which he was joined by four of his old
crew.  Two were put in by the owners,--the carpenter and another man.
He would willingly have sailed without them.  He was also joined by an
old comrade, Bill Myers, who had just lost his cutter off Portland.  He
had no fears of finding any opposition to his projects from his
scruples.  The _William_ lay alongside the _Helen_, which vessel was
taking in a rich cargo.  He easily excited the cupidity of his crew by
pointing it out to them.  His own vessel had a cargo of very inferior
value--chiefly, I believe, of earthenware.  The _William_ sailed a short
time before the _Helen_.  He first proposed the plan of plundering her
to the four old pirates.  They did not offer the slightest objection,
but expressed their doubts whether all the crew would join them.

"They must be made to do it," answered Delano, fiercely.

Myers at once acceded to Delano's proposal.  Charles Adams was the next
to join them.  They now felt themselves strong enough to talk openly of
their project.  Each man boasted of the deeds of atrocity he had
committed with impunity, especially of their last act of piracy, and of
the mode in which they had spent the proceeds of their crime.  They told
tales of the buccaneers of old--of the adventures of pirates in their
own day, of which they had heard, and of some with which they were
acquainted--of the hoards of wealth they had acquired.  When they found
that these stories had not sufficient effect with some of their
shipmates, they applied to Delano, and liquor was freely served out.
Most of those who had before resisted now consented, in their drunken
state, to join in the proposed scheme.  The most persevering and eager
tempter was the mate.  If he could not persuade, he laughed away the
scruples of the more honest or more timid.

"Detection! nonsense!" he exclaimed.  "Who can ever find it out?  Who
can know it, unless you go and talk of it yourselves?  What's the reason
against it?  Let's be men!  Let's be above such folly!  If they go to
the bottom--why, a gale of wind and a started butt might easily send
them there; so, where's the difference?  In one case, their rich cargo
would go with them; now, you see, shipmates, we shall get it.  So, hurra
for the black flag, and overboard with all scruples!"

Now, however glaring the folly and wickedness of such reasoning may
appear to us, it seemed very tempting and sensible to the miserable men
to whom it was addressed.  The carpenter only, and another man, refused
to drink, or to participate in any way in the project.  They could not,
however, turn the rest from their intentions.  The treacherous mode in
which the _Helen_ was taken possession of, I have already described.
The carpenter alone held out; the other man pretended to join them, with
the hope, it appeared, of saving the lives of their prisoners.  When
they had mastered the crew of the _Helen_, the pirates jeered and
laughed at them, as they were removing the cargo, and, bound as they
were, even kicked and struck them, and treated them with every
indignity.  They then compelled the carpenter to accompany them on board
with his tools, and, holding a pistol at his head, made him bore holes
in the ship's bottom.  No one appeared to have been wilder or more
savage than Adams.  Having completed this nefarious work, as they
thought, effectually, the pirates left their victims to their fate.
They would certainly have returned to remedy their mistake, and to send
the _Helen_ more speedily to the bottom, when they caught sight of a
ship of war in the distance.  They watched impatiently, but still the
_Helen_ floated.  At length the strange sail drew near, and, fearful of
being found by her in the neighbourhood of the plundered vessel, they
stood away under every stitch of canvas they could set.  Scarcely had
the deed been committed, than each began to fear that the other would
betray him; and, as if oaths could bind such wretches effectually, they
all agreed to swear, on crossed swords, that they would never divulge
what had occurred.  They compelled the carpenter and the other honest
man to join them in their profane oath, threatening to blow out their
brains forthwith, if they refused.  It seems strange that men guilty of
such crimes should make use of the sign of the cross to confirm their
oaths, and call God especially to witness their misdeeds.  What
extraordinary perversity such is of reason!  Yes; but are not those we
mix with every day guilty of similar wickedness and madness, when in
their common conversation they call on the name of the most high God to
witness to some act of folly, if not of vice, of extravagance, of
cruelty, or senselessness?

The pirates sailed first for Leghorn, where they sold part of the
plundered cargo, and spent the proceeds in a way to excite much
suspicion.  They then sailed for the island of Sardinia; but they there
found that they were already suspected.  Nothing could be more foolhardy
than their visit to Malta, where the crew spent their money in rigging
themselves out in gold chains, silk waistcoats, and green coats.  How
their conduct should not have excited suspicion, I cannot say; but it
does not appear that the people with whom they dealt thought anything
was wrong.  It is one of the numberless examples to prove that criminals
are deprived even of ordinary wisdom.  Delano, however, saw, from the
way his crew were behaving, that if he remained long at Malta, they
would inevitably bring destruction on themselves.  Having, therefore,
got them on board, he sailed for Smyrna.  On the voyage Myers tried to
induce them to plunder other vessels; but none they could venture to
attack fell in their way.  Their rage against Myers was excessive when
they found that he had attempted to blow them up, and that he had done
so doubtless for the purpose of getting possession of a considerable
amount of treasure which had been left on shore in the hands of an agent
of Delano's.  I afterwards heard that he had in all probability
succeeded, as the agent had stated that he had presented an order from
Delano for its payment about the very moment we were taking possession
of the brig, and, as he thought, being blown into the air.  Search was
made for him throughout Smyrna before we left the place, and continued
for some time afterwards; but the last accounts had brought no
intelligence of him, and it was concluded that he had escaped in
disguise.

During the greater part of the trial, Delano had maintained his
confidence and composure; but at length the evidence of his own people,
and the master and crew of the _Helen_, became so overwhelming that he
lost all hope, and, overcome by the most abject fear, sunk down, and
would have fallen, had he not been supported.  Recovering himself a
little, he broke forth into earnest petitions that his life might be
spared.  He made the most trivial and weak excuses for his conduct,
utterly unlikely to avail him anything.  He declared that he had been
led on by Myers; that his crew had forced him to consent to the piracy;
that he had endeavoured to dissuade them from it, and that the fear of
death alone had induced him to consent.  Nothing he could say could, of
course, alter the decision of his judges; and he, with six of his
companions, was condemned to be hung at the fore-yard-arms of the
_William_, then lying in Quarantine Harbour.  It was dreadful to hear
the shriek of despair to which Delano now gave vent.

"Mercy! mercy! mercy!" he cried.  "Oh, spare my life!  I am unfit to
die!  Send me to toil from day to day in chains, with the meanest in the
land; but, oh, take not away that which you cannot restore!"

"Let him be removed," said the judge of the court; and he was borne
away, still crying out for mercy.

The miserable man, who had never shown mercy to others, still besought
it for himself.  The other prisoners said not a word in their defence.
One only voice was heard when all others were hushed in the court.  It
was solemn, though hollow and weak.

"Our doom is most just.  We suffer rightly; and may God have mercy on
our souls," were the words spoken.

I recognised the voice of Charles Adams.  I saw him the night before his
execution.  He was calm and happy.

"O that my fate," said he, "might be a warning to others! and I should
feel still more contented to die."

He begged to keep my Bible to the last, promising to give it to the
chaplain to be delivered to me.  I will not dwell on the dreadful
particulars of the execution.  No Maltese could be found willing to
perform the office of executioner.  The chief of the police, therefore,
ordered a swinging stage to be formed on either side of the vessel, on
which the criminals were placed with ropes round their necks, secured to
the fore-yard-arms, three on each side.  These stages were secured in
their horizontal position by ropes rove through blocks made fast to the
fore-rigging, with lanyards at the end.  As the chaplain reached a
certain word in the Service, the seamen stationed at the lanyards were
ordered to cut them.  This was done, and the stages sinking from under
their feet, the miserable men were launched into eternity.  A barge was
then brought alongside, into which the bodies were lowered, and carried
to Fort Ricasoli, at the entrance of the great harbour.  Four of the
bodies, being sewn up in tarred canvas, were hung in chains to a lofty
gibbet; while two were buried beneath it.  For many long months
afterwards the four pirates hung there,--a terrible and disgusting
sight, and an awful warning to all who might be inclined to pursue the
same evil course.

The chaplain returned me my Bible the following day.  Within it I found
a note from Adams, first, thanking me warmly for my attention to him;
and it then continued,--"Shameful as is my merited fate, I would that
all my young countrymen may know it.  Tell all you meet that they are
sent into this world, not to live for themselves, but for others,--as a
place of trial, not of amusement; that if they would secure contentment
now, and happiness for the future, they must, first of all things, learn
to conquer themselves; they must overcome their tempers--their
passions--their love of ease--of self-indulgence; they must remember
that they are surrounded by snares and temptations of all sorts, all
allowed to exist for the purpose of trying them; that the devil is
always going about, ever ready to present the bait most likely to lure
them to destruction.  I entreat you--I adjure you--to make this known
wherever you can.  The knowledge of this may save numbers from ruin.  It
cannot too often be brought before the minds of the young.  I was
ignorant of it.  I thought that I had a right to follow my own
inclinations,--that it was manly to do so; and, oh! how sorely have I
suffered for my ignorance!--how bitterly do I repent my infatuation.
Yet, miserable as is my fate, if I can but prove a warning to others, I
shall not have lived in vain."



CHAPTER EIGHTEEN.

CAN SHE BE THE ARIADNE?--SAIL FOR THE REEF COAST--DISCOVER THE LOST
VESSEL--MAKE A PRISONER--ADVENTURES ON SHORE--VISIT THE OLD SHEIKH--FIND
JACK STRETCHER--HOW WE DID THE REEFIANS--JACK AND HIS HORNPIPE--OUR
FLIGHT--PURSUED--ESCAPE.

So completely had Mr Vernon's health and spirits given way, that we on
board the _Harold_ were afraid he would have to leave the ship and go
home.  At this juncture a merchant-brig came in from the westward, and
the master reported that, having been driven close in on the African
coast, he had seen a vessel, apparently a complete wreck, on shore.  He
stated that he had stood-in to examine her more closely, when, seeing
through his glass a number of armed men come down and prepare to launch
their boats, he judged it prudent to stand-off out of their reach.  Mr
Dunnage obtained this important information, and instantly brought it on
board.  Mr Vernon's eye brightened as he heard it; for hope, almost
extinguished, once more dawned within him.

Captain Poynder, who felt a deep interest in the fate of Major Norman
and his daughter, easily managed to get ordered down to the Barbary
coast to examine into the matter.  Having ascertained from the master of
the merchantman the spot, as nearly as he could describe it, where he
had seen the wreck, we made sail for the westward.  We came off the
coast about dusk, and then hove-to.  "Boats away!" was on this occasion
a welcome sound; for we knew that it portended that there was work to be
done.  Mr Vernon commanded one of the boats, and I went with him.
Stallman had charge of a second, and Dicky Sharpe, who since our trip to
Smyrna had much improved in steadiness, accompanied him; while
Stanfield, another mate, went in a third.  A light gun was placed in the
bow of each boat; and each man had a musket and brace of pistols, as
well as his cutlass; so that we were well-armed and ready for anything.
We were in high spirits, though we knew full well that it was no party
of pleasure we were on; for, if discovered, we might expect some pretty
sharp fighting, as the inhabitants of that part of the coast are the
most warlike and determined pirates along the shores of the
Mediterranean.  With muffled oars and in perfect silence we pulled
towards where the wreck was supposed to be.  There was no moon; but the
stars of a southern clime were shining--as they well know how to do in
that region,--so that we could distinguish the dark outline of the
coast, backed by a range of high mountains.  The only sound was from the
splash of our oars, which, as they rose rapidly from the water, let drop
a sparkling shower of phosphorescent fire.  I steered, while Mr Vernon
with his night-glass swept the coast, in the hopes of discovering the
wreck.  We got close in with the shore; but not a sign of her was to be
seen.

"Avast pulling, and let the other boats close up," he whispered.

When the boats had got near enough, he ordered Stallman to pull to the
eastward, and directed me to steer to the west, and Stanfield to follow
us.  That the coast was pretty thickly inhabited we had strong evidence;
for so close in with it were we, that we could hear dogs barking, and
music, and even human voices; while now and then the report of firearms
showed that some Arabs were coming home from hunting, or were firing off
their muskets at some festival or other.  We had pulled at least five
miles along the coast, when I fancied that I discerned, still further
on, some dark object on the sands.  We pulled up to it, and there, sure
enough, lay a stranded vessel.  Mr Vernon now directed Stanfield to
wait off about a quarter of a mile, while we went in and tried to board
the vessel, to ascertain positively what she was.

"Should any accident happen to us, or should we be taken prisoners," he
continued, "you will wait till nearly dawn to render us assistance, in
case you have an opportunity, and then make the best of your way back to
the ship.  Captain Poynder will then, without doubt, devise some plan
for rescuing us or any other persons we may find on shore."  Stanfield,
of course, knew very well what he meant by this, and promised to keep a
bright look-out, whatever might occur.  Using still more caution than
ever, we approached the vessel.  She lay with her head inshore, in a
small inlet, and it appeared much more likely that she had purposely
been hauled in there, than that she had been driven on shore.  There was
ample water for our boat right under her stern.  The stern-windows were
open.  Holding on by the rudder-chain, Mr Vernon climbed up, and got in
at a sternport.  Without asking leave, I followed his example, and the
bowman then handed us up a lantern.  I had a match-box in my pocket.  We
struck a light and lighted the lantern, and then commenced an
examination of the cabin.  At the first glance we saw it was that of an
English merchantman.  There were the state-cabins on either side, the
buffets for plate and crockery, the neat book-case, the racks for charts
and telescopes, the sofa at one end, and the fireplace, all showing an
attention to the comfort of any passengers who might be on board.
Everything valuable had, however, been carried away, the more cumbrous
articles alone remaining.  Mr Vernon looked round with deep anxiety
depicted on his countenance.  "Yes, D'Arcy, this is indeed the
_Ariadne_.  I know her well," he whispered.  "I myself put up that
book-case, and screwed in those hooks for a cot in the state-cabin.  Oh!
what can their fate be?  I must ascertain it without delay."

"It would never do to go on shore as you are at present, sir.  You would
be taken prisoner or murdered outright, to a certainty," I replied.  He
was silent for a minute.

"You are right, D'Arcy, you are right," he replied, in a dejected tone.
"The affair requires time and great circumspection.  These people are
not to be trifled with, I know.  Force alone will not succeed, or I am
certain Captain Poynder would land every man who can be spared from the
ship, and would compel these Reefians to let us know what has become of
their captives."

"Yes, sir, and every man would gladly follow, wherever you might lead,"
I replied.

"I know they would--I know they would, D'Arcy," said he.  "But let us
take a look over the ship, and perhaps we may find out something to
direct our proceedings."

We opened the cabin-door cautiously, and crept up the companion-ladder.
The hatch was off.  We got on deck: no one was there.  Shrouding the
lantern, we crept along the deck, and descended into the main-hold.  The
entire cargo had been removed.  We concluded that the vessel had no one
on board, and were about to return, when I suggested that we should look
into the forepeak.  We therefore moved cautiously, as before, along the
deck, and were descending the ladder, when Mr Vernon touched my leg.

"There is some one breathing down here," he said.  "Be prepared for a
rush."

When we got to the bottom of the ladder, as he threw the rays of the
lantern round the place, they fell on the sleeping form of a young Arab,
dressed in a turban, and his white haick folded gracefully round him.
The instant the light fell on his eyes, he started up with a look of
mute astonishment, and laid his hand on the hilt of a dagger by his
side.  Before he could unsheath it, Mr Vernon had thrown himself upon
him, and wrenched it from his grasp, while, I following, we without much
difficulty secured him; for, though graceful and active in appearance,
he had not much muscular power.  He did not call out.  Perhaps he
disdained to do so.  But to prevent him, should he show any inclination
to call for help, Mr Vernon rather unceremoniously thrust a
handkerchief into his mouth.

"Now, hurry, D'Arcy, and call up one of the men to help carry this lad
into the boat.  Here is a prize worth having indeed," he said.  "He may
be of incalculable service to us."  I did as I was ordered, and he
quickly got the lad securely bound and up on deck.  As we were dragging
him along, the handkerchief fell out of his mouth, and he gave a shriek,
which showed that he was no willing prisoner.  The noise, however, only
made us hurry him along the faster down the companion-ladder, and out at
the port into the boat.  We handed him along into the stern-sheets, and
then, Mr Vernon giving the order to shove off, we backed out of the
creek, and got the boat's head round, to pull out to sea.  We were only
just in tune, for the lad's cry had attracted the notice of his friends;
and we could hear people shouting, as they ran down to the beach, to
learn who it was that had cried out.  Unfortunately the splash of our
oars attracted their notice, and they began firing away at us, as fast
as they could load their matchlocks.  "Give way, my lads, give way!"
cried Mr Vernon, more from habit than that the men required any
inciting to pull fast, as the shot came splattering about us.  The young
Moor made one or two attempts to rise, evidently with the intention of
springing into the water, and swimming on shore again; but we held him
down; and, as we got further off, he either saw that the attempt would
be useless, or, from something he learned from the shouts of his
countrymen, he thought it wiser to remain quiet.  We were congratulating
ourselves on none of the shot reaching us, and fancied that we were
getting out of danger, when we saw a dark object glide out from a creek
or harbour to the westward, followed by another, and then another, which
we at once made out to be row-boats, pulling probably some twenty oars
or so, and famed for their speed.  We had the start of them, however, by
half a mile or more; and, as our two gigs were far from slow coaches, we
did not altogether despair of escaping.  Still the odds were fearfully
against us; and, even if we were not killed outright, potato-digging and
water-drawing for the rest of our days was not a pleasant prospect for
contemplation, independent of failing in the object we had in view.
This made all hands bend to their oars with redoubled vigour.  Happily
the row-boats had no guns in their bows, or if they had, the people had
forgotten their powder or shot, as the few bullets which reached us now
and then were the only missiles we had to dread.  Well, away we pulled,
with the Reefian row-boats after us, our great hopes being that we
should decoy them within range of the _Harold's_ guns, and then, if we
could bag a boat-load, we might hope to treat advantageously for any
prisoners they might have taken.  We made the dark, smooth water hiss
and bubble under our bows, as we clove our rapid way through it,
throwing up a mass of shining foam before us, and leaving a line of
liquid fire in our wake.  We soon gained more hope of escape, from the
rate at which our pursuers came on; and we began to suspect that the
boats, probably in the hurry of the moment, were manned with old men and
lads, and any one who was at hand; and that they were likely rather to
fall off than to increase their speed.  This proved to be the case.  We
gained on them slowly at first, but more rapidly by degrees, till we
actually ran them out of sight.  Our next business was to find our ship;
and I kept a bright look-out for her.  Our young captive, meantime, lay
at the bottom of the boat, and when he found that we had escaped from
his countrymen, he seemed to take things very coolly; and when Mr
Vernon assured him that we meant him no injury, he replied, that if we
took his life, his tribe would some day cut us up piecemeal, and throw
the bits to the jackals.  As we were pulling along, we heard a shout,
which proved to come from Stallman, who had, of course, seen no wreck;
but he had discovered a spot where the water was deep up to the shore,
and where there appeared to be no inhabitants, so that he had been able
to pull close in, and could have landed, if necessary.  We now
altogether pulled out to sea, and in another hour fell in with the
frigate.  She then stood off shore, and by daylight we were out of sight
of land, so that the Reefians could not have guessed who their visitors
could have been.  I think that I before have said that Mr Vernon was a
great linguist.  He spoke Arabic perfectly, and was thus able to hold
communication with our young prisoner, whose fears, before long, he
succeeded completely in silencing, and whose confidence also he soon
appeared to have gained.  All the morning Mr Vernon was in earnest
conversation with the young Reefian, and, by his countenance, he
appeared to be gaining information of a highly interesting character.
He then went into the captain's cabin, and after a long conversation
with him, the ship's course was shaped for Tangiers.

Just before we reached that place, he called me to him.

"D'Arcy," he said, "I have remarked your steadiness and discretion above
your years; and as I have a difficult and--I will not conceal it from
you--a hazardous expedition to make, in which a companion to assist me
would be very valuable, I wish to know whether, if the captain will
allow you, you would be willing to accompany me?"

Where is the midshipman who would not have answered as I did, and say
that I should be delighted, and that the more danger the better fun?  In
fact, my heart almost came into my mouth at the proposal; and my only
fear was that the captain might put his veto on it.

"Oh! just tell him, sir," said I, "that I have neither father nor
mother, nor brother nor sister; and I don't think that the great
Counsellor D'Arcy would break his heart if anything happened to me, nor
bring an action against him for expending a midshipman uselessly.  My
other uncle is a naval officer, and he would never dream of objecting."

I do not know if these reasons had any weight with the captain, but he
granted his consent to my accompanying Mr Vernon, who forthwith gave me
a sketch of his proposed plan of proceeding.

"You must know, D'Arcy," said he, "that the young Reefian informs me
that the _Ariadne_ was driven inshore by a heavy gale; and that before
she had time to haul off, a calm came on, when several boats, manned by
his people, pulled off to her.  The master, who seems to have been a
brave fellow, had no notion of yielding without a blow, and, arming his
crew, gave them a warm reception.  Several of the Reefians were killed
and wounded before they could make good their footing on board.  The
gallant master was killed, and so were more than half his crew.  Major
Norman and the rest of the people escaped without a wound, though they
expected to be cut to pieces; but their defence had so excited the
admiration of their captors, that they were, instead, treated with
considerable kindness, though ultimately marched off as prisoners.  Miss
Norman was discovered in the cabin; but when it was known who was her
father, he was allowed to accompany her.  The people who captured the
brig belong to a tribe ruled over by a powerful chief, who resides some
miles along the coast.  He seems to have claimed the brig as his own
perquisite; and this youth, who is a relation of his, was living on
board to take care of her.  Miss Norman and her father likewise became
his property, but I cannot speak my gratitude to Heaven, on finding that
she is treated with the most perfect respect, while her father is
employed in the gardens of the Kaid.  His young nephew describes him as
a fierce, despotic old fellow, not at all likely to give up his
captives, unless compelled by force.  He says that he is so very
wealthy, that no temptation of a high ransom will influence him.  This,
however, I am resolved, without delay, to ascertain, and to employ every
means in my power to liberate my friends.  He seems to owe no allegiance
to the Emperor of Morocco, or to any other acknowledged potentate; so
that I will not attempt the long business of negotiation, which would,
too probably, end in disappointment.  At first I thought of taking the
lad with me, but then I considered that he would be of more service as a
hostage on board; and I have promised him that, if his information be
correct, and I succeed in recovering my friends, I will give him an
unerring rifle and a silver-mounted dagger, so that I have won him over
completely to our interest.  As I speak Arabic as well as any Turk, I
have resolved to assume the character of a Turkish jewel-merchant on a
journey to buy precious stones for the Sultan.  I feel that I can act
the part very well.  How does the plan strike you?"

"Very good; capital, sir," I answered, the romance of the thing taking
my fancy immensely.  "But, as I do not speak a word of Arabic, or any
Eastern language, I do not see how I am to help you."

"I have thought of that," said Mr Vernon.  "You must pretend to be
dumb; I hope that you will not have to hold your tongue long.  I wish
you also to take your violin.  I do not know that the Turks ever play
it; but you must be my slave, you know--a Christian slave, not long
captured,--and that will account for your knowledge of so Nazarene-like
an instrument.  Miss Norman heard you play once on board, and you will
thus certainly attract her notice, and be able to hold communication
with her."

"Oh! excellent--excellent," I exclaimed, enchanted at finding the very
event I had once dreamed of about to be realised.  "When are we to
commence our adventure?"

"As soon as I can arrange our costumes, and make other necessary
preparations.  Captain Poynder, after he has landed us, intends to watch
off the coast, and to stand in at night, to be ready to render us any
assistance we may require."

Two days after this conversation, a party of travellers were seen
issuing from the ancient gates of the city of Tangiers,--in days long
gone by, when Charles the Second ruled the land, held by a British
garrison, till delivered over to the Portuguese.  He who seemed to be
the leader of the party rode a strong, active horse, and was habited in
long, dark, flowing robes, a turban of many folds of muslin, long yellow
boots, and spurs of great size.  A large moustache, and a beard bushy
and long, almost concealed his month.  The ink-horn at his waist, and
his want of weapons of defence, showed that he was a peaceable
character.  A lad also, in an Eastern dress, though of simple and
somewhat coarse materials, followed him on a stout mule, which likewise
carried a pair of saddle-bags, and a small square chest secured in
front.  Slung over the back of the youth was a long case, of curious
form.  A dagger at his side was the only arm he wore.  A tall man,
well-armed with matchlock and scimitar, rode ahead on a stout nag.  On
his head was the high red Moorish cap, with many folds of muslin twisted
round it.  The flowing hair fell over his shoulders, above which he wore
a soolham of red cloth, while gaily-worked yellow boots, and a pair of
spurs of cruel length and sharpness, adorned his feet.  He evidently
felt his importance, as the protector and fighting-man of the party.
Another personage followed, of inferior rank, with a mule, which carried
the chief part of the baggage.  The country through which they travelled
was of an undulating character, but parched by the suns of summer, the
beds of the winter torrents being now stony ravines, and the only green
visible being furze and palmetto, and here and there patches of Indian
corn not quite ripe, though the stubble of fine wheat and barley
extended over a considerable portion of the ground.

"D'Arcy, my boy, how do you like being turned into a young Turk?" said
Mr Vernon, calling me up to him, after we had proceeded some way.

I touched my mouth, and pointed to out escort.

"Never mind them," he replied; "they are, I am assured, faithful to the
backbone, and know how matters stand.  There is little use of giving
such men half-confidences."

"Then," said I, "I'll make play with my tongue while I can.  I like the
fun amazingly.  What do you propose to do, sir, next?"

"In the first place, when we get up to the territory of the old chief,
Mulai Mohamed, we must leave our escort and proceed alone to his
village.  We must present ourselves at his residence, and, inquiring
whether he has jewels to sell or wishes to buy others, must endeavour to
gain access to the inmates of his harem; or, at all events, we must try
to meet with Major Norman, or some of the crew of the _Ariadne_.
However, we must be guided entirely by circumstances."

It was a great satisfaction to me to be able to talk, for I fancied that
I should have had to hold my tongue from the moment I set foot on shore.
I wish that my space would allow me to describe my journey, for it
lasted a considerable number of days, and was very amusing.  We pushed
on as rapidly as the strength of our steeds would allow, though that was
far from fast enough to suit Mr Vernon's impatience.  We met with a
variety of adventures also.  At night we used to halt, and pitch our
tent, and fetch water, and cook our supper; while our followers would
sit before the fire, recounting their adventures, or boasting of the
deeds of their ancestors or friends, or telling tales of genii or
ghouls, and a variety of other beings, in whose existence they firmly
believe.  As we journeyed on, we killed a quantity of game, chiefly
partridges, which crossed our path in great numbers; and now and then we
got a shot at a wild boar, and knocked him over.  At night, watch was
always kept with a good fire, or we should have had the jackals, who
were always howling round us, paying us a visit.  These beasts the Moors
do not object to eat, though they will not touch pig.  We one day fell
in with an encampment of a powerful tribe, the Sheikh of which insisted
on my master, Taleb Moostafa, otherwise Lieutenant Vernon, dining with
him.  I accompanied him for the pleasure of looking on, though, of
course, I was not expected to eat likewise.  On arriving at the tent of
the Sheikh, we found him seated within it, on a cushion, covered with
thick skin, another being placed for the Taleb, or scribe, for to that
learned profession Mr Vernon thought he might venture to belong.  A
variety of compliments having passed, a table was brought in and placed
between them.  It was circular, about two feet in diameter, and scarcely
more than six inches from the ground, richly inlaid and painted in
arabesque.  A large bowl, full of a highly-seasoned soup, with some sort
of macaroni in it, was first placed on the table.  The bowl contained
spoons, with which the guests were to help themselves at the same time.
Next came a plate of beef, much stewed, and garnished with melons; and
lastly a huge dish of kesksoo,--a thick porridge, made of wheaten flour
piled up, which the Sheikh attacked most vigorously, while my master
attempted to follow his example.  When dinner was over, some of the
tribe assembled on horseback, and played all sorts of pranks.  Some
stood on their heads while their horses went; they charged each other at
a rapid speed; they changed places with their companions at full gallop;
then they would dash up to where we stood, and, discharging their
muskets, wheel about and give place to others, who followed at their
heels.  Some would dash their haicks or turbans on the ground, and
leaning from their horses, would pick them up, without for an instant
slackening their speed.  Next they shot at a mark, a flower on a pile of
stones being their target; and certainly they managed to hit it in a
wonderful way.  The same men, however, would probably have but a poor
bag of game to show after a day's walk over the moors in Scotland.  Our
friendly Sheikh accompanied us some way on our journey on the following
day, with many good wishes for our welfare.  I must leave out the rest
of our adventures, till one evening, Hamed, our chief guide, pointing to
a line of lofty mountains which fringed the coast, exclaimed--

"There, most learned Taleb, at the foot of yonder mountains, you will
find the residence of the fierce Sheikh you seek.  Further we dare not
go, as we have no wish to feel our throats being cut.  Here we will
remain till you return, if you ever do return, which Allah grant may
soon be, though I am doubtful of it.  If you do not come back, we will
report your loss to your friends, and trust they may find means to
avenge you."

Taleb Mohammed laughed at this speech, though he saw the difficulties in
our way; and next morning, leaving our tents and heavy baggage, we
entered the district of the Reefian chief.  It was towards evening that
we approached his dwelling, which we discovered from its superior size
to the rest of the neighbouring sun-dried brick cottages, thatched with
reeds.  It was surrounded by a garden, full of melon plants and vines,
and many other fruits, delicious in a hot climate; and backed by fields
of Indian corn.  Before entering the village, we ascended a height,
whence Mr Vernon took a long anxious glance over the blue sea with his
telescope, which he had brought with him.

"There she is, D'Arcy," he exclaimed at length, in an animated tone,
pointing to a white speck just seen above the horizon, which I made out
to be a ship's royal.  "I knew that Captain Poynder would be up to his
time.  Now we can depend on help from without, if we can but find our
friends."

It was near the time that the voice of the Mueddin, from the summit of
the village mosque, announced that the hour of evening prayer had
arrived, and called on the faithful to worship Allah, when we entered
the village.  Without halting, we rode at once up to the entrance-gate
of the great man's abode.  Cool confidence afforded us the best chance
of success.  We were brought up at a porch, with a closed gate, in a
high wall which ran round the mansion.  We knocked loudly, and after a
time the gate was opened by a slave, who salaamed low as he demanded our
business.

"To see your great, powerful, and most illustrious master, etcetera,
etcetera, etcetera," said Mr Vernon, in Arabic.  "Tell him that I have
come to treat with him about a matter of great importance."

The slave on this disappeared, keeping us outside, though he shortly
returned, with two or three more slaves and a couple of armed men.  Two
of the slaves taking our steeds, the first signed us to advance, and led
the way through a garden full of sweet-scented plants, the verbena, the
jessamine, and rose, and shaded by luxuriant vines, trailed on bamboo
trellice-work over head, the fruit hanging down in tempting bunches
within our reach.  In front of an alcove, or summer-house, on a rich
carpet, sat a stout old man, in flowing robes, and long white beard,
which hung down over his breast.  We bowed low, and then stood still
before him, for he did not offer us cushions to sit on; while Mr
Vernon, paying the fullest compliments his knowledge of the language
could command, opened his business.

"I do not understand clearly what all this is about," said the old
Sheikh, in reply.  "Jewels to sell and jewels to buy.  Perhaps to-morrow
I may understand better.  Come again in the forenoon, and show me your
wares, and we will see what is to be done."

Taking this remark as a signal that we were dismissed, we salaamed as
before, and retired down the garden.  We had reached the entrance, when
a slave overtook us, and informed us that his master would allow us to
sleep in a guest-room, opening into an outer court-yard, on one side of
the main entrance.  Mr Vernon told me afterwards, that not having any
definite plan, he thought it would be wise to accept the Sheikh's offer
with a good grace, as more likely not to excite suspicion.  The room to
which we were shown was a small one, without windows or furniture, some
little apertures over the entrance alone admitting light and air when
the door was shut.  It had the advantage, however, of enabling us to get
out without being observed.  Still a great difficulty remained--how we
were to obtain any information about Miss Norman in the first place, and
how we were to gain access to her in the second.  In my character of a
slave, I assisted the Sheikh's slaves in bringing in the box of jewels,
the saddle-bags, and saddles, and horse-cloths, as well as our blankets,
which we had brought to form our beds at night.  Our room being
arranged, Mr Vernon told me to remain within, while he went out to try
and obtain some information in the village, advising me in the meantime
to amuse myself with my fiddle, which had already delighted the ears of
many of the believers of the Prophet of Mecca during our long journey.
I had some misgivings about his going, for I was afraid that the
villagers might suspect his character, and might ill-treat him.  For
myself I had no fear as long as I could continue to feign dumbness, as
my character was easily kept up.  He had told the Sheikh's people that I
was a Nazarene lad, who was ignorant of their language.  Being dumb,
they considered me under the peculiar care of Providence.

After a little time, having recovered my spirits and cast all
forebodings from me--which are, after all, but the result of a morbid
imagination, or of a want of trust in God's providence,--I sat myself
down on the chest, and pulling my fiddle out of its case, began playing
away most vigorously some of the old tunes Hanks had taught me.  I had
gone through some five or six of them, when a voice, which I felt sure I
had often heard, hailed--

"Hillo! shipmate, what part of the world do you come from?"  The faint
light which came through the door was obscured by the figure of a
seaman.

"Why!"  I exclaimed, forgetting that I was dumb, as he stepped into the
room,--"why, if I can believe my senses, there is Jack Stretcher
himself."

"What! is that you, Mr D'Arcy?" he answered; coming up to me, and
taking my hand.  "I should not have known you in that rum rig, sir, if
it hadn't been for your voice, I declare."

Our errand was soon explained; and he then told me that, having been
offered a berth as second mate of the _Ariadne_, he had obtained his
discharge from the cutter.  To my great satisfaction, he told me that
Major Norman was really a slave in the Sheikh's house, and that his
daughter was in the harem.  What had become of the rest of the crew he
could not tell.

While I had been speaking, I had been scraping away to drown my voice,
in case anybody came near.  I now urged Jack to go and find the major,
to let him know that help was at hand.

"Time enough by-and-by, when he comes in from the fields, where they've
sent the poor gentleman to work.  They put me to field labour at first,
but they found out that I was handy as a rigger, so they've put me to
refitting some of their craft.  They've given me to understand that if
I'll consent to turn Moor or Turk, or somewhat of that sort, and worship
their Prophet, they'll make me a captain, or admiral for what I know,
and will give me one of their black-eyed young women for a wife; but
I'll see them all triced up at their own yard-arms before I changes my
religion, or forgets my own faithful rosy-cheeked Poll at home."

I applauded his resolution, and charged him to adhere to it in ease he
should not escape.

"No fear of me, sir, I hope," he answered.  "But, I say, sir," he added,
in a serious tone, "I hope Mr Vernon, who used to be a very nice young
gentleman when I knew him in the _Turtle_, ain't turned Turk in
earnest."

I assured him that he was only acting the part for a short time, which,
I believed, was lawful.

"Well, I'm glad of that, sir," he replied.  "But, I say, sir, what do
you think?"  He looked out of the door, and then came back, and
continued,--"I see a number of these Moorish fellows coming here, drawn,
it's pretty clear, by your music.  Now I'll just see if we can't
astonish the natives.  Do you strike up a right jolly hornpipe, and I'll
toe and heel it till all's blue, and see if I don't make them understand
what a real sailor can do with his feet when he's inclined."

The idea pleased me amazingly; so I came to the door, and began to
scrape away right merrily, while Jack commenced one of the wildest
hornpipes I ever saw danced.  How he cut and shuffled,--how he crossed
his feet and sprang up in the air, and kicked and capered,--it is almost
impossible to describe.  I could scarcely forbear laughing myself,
especially when I saw a number of grave long-bearded Moors assembled
round him, with looks of mute astonishment and admiration at his
agility.

Mr Vernon soon joined them, and was as much astonished, evidently, as
the rest.  At last even Jack's physical powers could hold out no longer,
and, exhausted, he threw himself down on one of our horse-rugs near the
door.  He had, however, not remained there long, when one of the
Sheikh's slaves made his appearance, and, salaaming Mr Vernon, said
that his master had been informed that his young follower possessed a
wonderful instrument, and a wonderful talent for playing on it, and that
he wished to hear him.  He intimated also to Jack that he must get up
and go through his hornpipe again.  Jack, nothing loth, sprang to his
feet, and, as he passed Mr Vernon he whispered, "Now's your time, sir;
look about you."

We and several of the spectators were now forthwith ushered into the
presence of the great chief.  We found him seated in the garden-porch of
his house, a number of lamps hanging from the trees around him.  It was
a picturesque and romantic scene.  Four or five persons--mostly grave
old gentlemen with long white beards--sat on cushions on either side of
him; while others, in rich dresses, which betokened some rank, stood
behind him.  He had evidently been having a dinner party, and now wanted
an evening entertainment.  Mr Vernon salaamed before him, and asked
what was the pleasure of so generous, magnificent, and grand a chief.

"Why, this: Understanding your young slave can play in a wondrous
manner, I wish to hear him," said the Sheikh.  "But tell me, O merchant!
how is it that he can communicate with my captive, as I am told he does.
They must have been acquainted before."

This question at first puzzled the pretended Turk, but he promptly
replied, "O most wise and sagacious chief, worthy of being monarch of
the faithful, know that these Nazarenes are in their youth instructed in
many arts and sciences.  Some play on instruments, some dance, others
sing, or paint likenesses of men and beasts, strange abomination as that
may appear.  Now my slave is one who has learned to play on an
instrument, and he who has the happiness to be owned by your highness,
is one who has learned to dance."

"I see, I see," exclaimed the chief; "and it is a sin that two such
accomplished slaves should belong to different masters; therefore,
merchant, what price do you fix on yours? for, if he answers my
expectations, I intend to become his purchaser."

This announcement puzzled Mr Vernon somewhat; but, of course, he could
not refuse at once.

"He is unworthy of being possessed by your highness," he replied; "for
nature has not allowed him the power of speech.  But, rather than speak
of that matter, let him show you a specimen of his art."

He then made a sign to me, and I struck up Jack's favourite hornpipe;
the Moors, old and young, black beards and grey, short and long, forming
a circle round him.  Up he jumped, and, with arms akimbo, commenced his
dance.  If he had before shuffled, and kicked, and capered, he now
redoubled his efforts, snapping his fingers, clapping his hands, turning
and twisting in every conceivable way.  Scarcely ever before was such a
hornpipe danced.  It drew forth rounds of applause from even the gravest
of the spectators.  The chief was delighted.  Turning to one of his
attendants, he gave an order, which I did not then comprehend.  Mr
Vernon had kept outside the circle, to be ready for any emergency which,
as Jack hinted, might occur.  I, meantime, played away a variety of
other tunes, till Jack, jumping up from the spot where he had thrown
himself, made a sign to me to begin another hornpipe.  This time he even
outdid either of his former attempts; indeed, before, I believe that he
was only shamming being tired; for my fingers and elbows began to ache
before his legs or breath gave any signs of his wish to end the dance.

"Change the tune, Mr D'Arcy.  Wallop-ahoo-aboo!  I'll just give them an
Irish jig to keep them staring."

A jig I played, and a jig he danced, with agility enough to win the
heart of any Nora Creina in old Ireland.  Then I tried a Scotch reel,
and he almost outdid the jig: nor did he cease till he saw Mr Vernon
rejoin the circle.

"Now if we haven't bamboozled the old gentleman famously, my name's not
Jack Stretcher!" he exclaimed with a loud laugh, slapping his thigh; an
action which was naturally supposed by his audience to mark the _finale_
of his barbaric dances.

Exclamations of wonder broke from the lips of all around; and I, having
played a few more airs, we were dismissed, graciously, to our dormitory.

Mr Vernon then told me that, while Jack was dancing, he had managed to
speak both to Major Norman and his daughter, the chief having sent for
the inmates of his harem to witness the strange seaman's dancing.

It was arranged that we should the following night try to communicate
with the frigate's boats; and if they could manage to send a party on
shore, that we should scale the walls of the harem, and carry off Miss
Norman--they being ready to support us.  She, at at all events, would be
prepared for the emergency.

Mr Vernon told me that, from what he heard, there would be no use
negotiating, as the old chief boasted that he never had given up a slave
he had taken, and never would.  He was also subject to fits of fury, so
that no time was to be lost in carrying out our plans.  The great
difficulty was to communicate with the boats, but Jack undertook the
task.  While employed in the harbour he had observed where some small
skiffs lay, and he declared that he could easily steal off with one of
them, and should without difficulty fall in with the boats.  The next
day was to be spent in marking out our line of retreat, and in settling
the spot at which the boats were to land.

In the afternoon Mr Vernon was sent for to exhibit his jewels, and I
went with him.  The Sheikh laughed at the idea of he himself having any
to sell, but he had no objection to buy some; and that the ladies of the
harem might select for themselves, we were ushered to the entrance of
its sacred precincts.  I kept my eyes very sharp about me, and I saw
that, by scaling a not very high wall, we could easily get up to the
very door of the harem, which was separated from the main building.  I
at once recognised Miss Norman, though she was veiled like the rest of
the ladies.  She came forward to examine the jewels, and looked at
several which the Sheikh offered her.  One after the other she put them
back into the box, till at last Mr Vernon contrived, unobserved, to
slip a paper into her hand.

"It's all right," thought I.  "Miss Norman will now be prepared when we
are ready to help her to escape."

A few jewels were bought; but Mr Vernon signifying that he would be
happy to return on the following day, should any of the ladies desire to
change their mind, they unanimously declared that he must certainly
come.

Several times during the day Jack made excuses for coming up from the
harbour, and each tune brought his ample pockets full of rope.  As soon
as it was dark he came cautiously into our chamber, where we all set to
work, and in a short time had manufactured a rope-ladder quite long
enough to go over the garden wall.

"Now," said he, "I must be off, and try and fall in with the frigate's
boats.  I have a skiff all ready, but I may have some way to pull; so
don't, sir, make a start till I come back and let you know all's right."

Several very anxious hours passed away after Jack's departure, and Mr
Vernon and I at last began to fear that some accident had occurred to
him, or that he had missed the boats, and that we should have to risk
another day within the old Sheikh's power.  Major Norman and his
daughter must have been still more anxious, for they were separated from
each other, and less able to account for the delay than we were.  At
length our anxious ears caught the sound of a light footstep, and Jack
poked his head in at the door.

"All right," he whispered.  "The boats are ready to pull in when I
signalise them.  While you, gentlemen, go and get the young lady, I'll
be off and call the major."

Eagerly Mr Vernon and I hurried out, carrying the ladder between us.
It was a wonder some of the numerous dogs, found in every Moorish
village, did not give tongue at us.  We reached the part of the wall
nearest the harem.  Mr Vernon soon clambered up it, and, hoisting up
the ladder, secured one end on the garden side, by pegs in the ground,
which we had before prepared; while I held down the outer side.  I heard
him give a low whistle, as he had arranged.  While I was anxiously
waiting his return, I felt a hand placed on my shoulder.  I started with
horror, and almost let go the ladder, for I thought it was a Moor come
to capture me, and that our enterprise had failed; but, looking up, I
saw Jack's honest face, and Major Norman behind him.

"I think, sir," said Jack, "if you were to go over the wall, and help
the lady up, it would make quicker work, and it won't take you long to
follow."

His advice seemed so good that I did as he recommended.  Fortunately I
did so, for I do not think otherwise the ladder would have kept in its
place.  I found Mr Vernon waiting at the door of the harem, in despair
almost at the non-appearance of Miss Norman.  At length the bars within
were gently removed, and, the door opening, she stepped forth into the
garden.  There was no time for greeting.  Closing the door, Mr Vernon
took her hand, and hurried on to the ladder.  Climbing up, he had lifted
her over the wall, and placed her in safety in her father's arms, and I
was following, when a door in another part of the building flew open,
and a bright light streaming forth, I saw the old chief and a number of
his attendants, with arms in their hands, rush out into the garden.  I
was over the wall in an instant, pulling the ladder after me, and not
waiting to see which way they came.

"Fly, sir, fly!"  I exclaimed.  "The old tiger is after us."

No second warning was necessary, and Mr Vernon and her father, lifting
Miss Norman between them, hurried along the road towards the beach, Jack
and I bringing up the rear, to keep our pursuers at bay.  Lights now
appeared in different parts of the village, and just as we turned a
corner we saw the old Sheikh and his people in hot pursuit of us.

"Run, sir! run as fast as your legs can carry you, and bring up the
people from the boats," cried Jack, as he saw our enemies coming after
us, and drawing a cutlass with which he had provided himself from the
boats, and buckled to his side.  "I'll keep these chaps off from the
young lady till help comes to us, I'll warrant."

I darted forward as fast as my legs could carry me.  I was afraid every
instant of being stopped by some Moor who might dart out from his house;
but happily at that time the inhabitants of the village were fast
asleep, and as yet there had been no noise to awaken them.  Fortunately
the old Sheikh was too fat to move fast; and his slaves, probably, had
no fancy to encounter the formidable Englishman, whose agility of heel
had made them fancy him little short of a Gin, or evil spirit of some
sort.  At last I reached the little creek where the boats were lying,
the men resting on their oars, ready to shove off at a moment's warning.

"Help! help!"  I exclaimed, panting for breath.  "Help! or Mr Vernon
will be retaken."

In a moment Adam Stallman, and a dozen men from the different boats,
were by my side.  All had been arranged for the emergency which had
occurred.  On we ran, in close order, at a double-quick step.  Scarcely
were we in time.  The Moors were up to our friends, but Jack was laying
about him in such gallant style, that no one could manage to lay hold
upon them.  His sword flew round his head like a flash of lightning; and
though his opponents cut and thrust at him from all sides, he remained
unhurt, while he had drawn blood from several of their sides.  He
shouted, and shrieked, and leaped about, springing now on one side, now
on the other, yet back again in the middle of the road, if they
attempted to press too much forward.  Stallman, seeing at a glance how
affairs stood, divided his people, so that they could encircle Mr
Vernon and his friends; and then, coming up to Jack's assistance, for a
moment entirely drove back his assailants.  By this time the whole
village was aroused, and the Moors, collecting in numbers from the
houses, attacked us furiously on all sides.  Our brave fellows, however,
kept them at bay, and retreated in good order towards the boats.  We had
no time to lose, in truth, for they were making for the boats
themselves, and, if they got in our rear, might cut us off, and
overpower also the party left in the boats.  It was with no small
satisfaction that I heard the voice of Dicky Sharpe shouting out to us
to come on; and then a brisk fire from the men with him cleared the
intervening space of Reefians, who had got ahead of us.  The old chief
and his slaves had hitherto not fired, either for fear of hurting Miss
Norman, or because they had no powder or firearms.  Now, however, the
blood of all parties was up, and pistols began to flash, and sabres to
clash, and a hot fight was going on, as we made a dash for the boats,
and Miss Norman was lifted safely in.  The Reefians now rushed furiously
down on us.  Adam Stallman and Jack Stretcher were the last men in, they
keeping a whole host of Moors at bay, while the boats were being shoved
off; then, by a desperate leap, Jack, by Stallman's order, got into one
of the boats, while he himself sprang into another.  Alas! at that
moment a volley came rattling down among us, and before Stallman could
take his seat he fell into the bottom of the boat.  It was the one I had
reached.  I stooped down.

"Where are you hurt, Stallman?  Oh! tell me, tell me," I exclaimed,
taking his hand.

"In my side; lend me a handkerchief, pray," he answered, faintly.  "But
give way, my lads--give way; never mind me."

The men had stopped in their exertions for a moment, and were leaning
forward to discover if he was much hurt.  They needed not, however, a
second order, for volley after volley came rattling over us; while the
foremost and more daring Reefians in their rage rushed into the water,
in the hope of seizing us.  Some who grasped the gunnel had reason to
repent their temerity; for we dealt them such blows with our cutlasses,
that they were compelled to let go, every wound they received increasing
their fury.  Others waded after us up to their arm-pits, firing their
pistols, and cutting at us with their scimitars, shouting fiercely at us
all the time, and grinding their teeth with rage and disappointment.  It
was no child's play; for, had they caught us, they would have destroyed
every one of the party.  By dint of great exertion the boats were at
length got clear and into deep water.  By the flashes of the firearms I
could see the old Sheikh standing on the beach, and trying to urge his
followers to pursue us still further.  When they found that all hope of
preventing our embarkation had gone, they hurried of to the harbour to
launch their own boats for the pursuit.  We had a long way to pull,
several of our people were hurt, and the boats were likewise full of
men; so that we felt we were far from certain of escaping after all.
Mr Vernon ordered the gun in the bow of his boat to be fired, to draw
the attention of the frigate, should she not have heard the sound of the
musketry; and I followed his example.  By this time we were a couple of
miles or more away from the shore, but the frigate was still some five
or six miles from us.  Before long, by the light of the dawn just
breaking, we could see the Reefian boats stealing out from the land; but
we had now no great fear of being caught.  Still our enemies pulled very
fast, and were animated with every feeling of rage and revenge to excite
them to exertion.  Hitherto there had been a dead calm, which much
facilitated our progress; and as the gloom of night cleared away, we
could see, in the grey of the morning, the frigate's topsails hanging
uselessly in the brails.  I kept anxiously looking back at our pursuers.

"Do they gain on us?" asked Stallman, who sat propped up in the
stern-sheets.

"I fear so," I replied; "but the frigate is still not so very far off."

"If they overtake us, I will ask you, D'Arcy, to drop astern a little,
and try and keep them at bay, so as to afford the first gig a better
chance of escaping," he said, faintly.

This was the boat Miss Norman was in.

"Of course, Stallman," I answered, "every one here will do their best to
defend the young lady.  Won't you, my lads?"

"Ay, ay, sir; never fear," replied the men, with one voice, at the same
time giving a cheer.  "Hurra! hurra!"

The enemy's boats were now drawing uncomfortably near, and the headmost
ones had begun to fire, though their shot did not reach us.  Still it
was too evident that they would be up to us before the frigate could
come to our assistance.  There she still lay, like a log on the water.
I did not much fear the enemy; but I knew if they overtook us, even if
we escaped, it would be the cause of much more bloodshed.  Presently, as
I was thinking of this, I saw a light ripple curling over the smooth,
shining surface of the leaden-coloured sea.  Another and another
cat's-paw followed; the frigate let fall her topsails--they were sheeted
home; sail after sail was set; and just then, as the sun rose in a blaze
of glory, our gallant ship was seen standing towards us--a magnificent
and welcome sight--under a press of canvas, lighted up by the bright
rays of the warmth-giving luminary.  A simultaneous cheer rose from the
boats' crews as they beheld the spectacle; and, with redoubled efforts,
they gave way to meet the ship.  The Reefians saw that their prospect of
catching us was gone; and giving us a parting, though happily harmless
volley, they pulled round, and made all haste to the shore, to avoid
being themselves in their turn pursued and captured.  We were, soon
after this, on board, and heartily welcomed.  The poor fellows--there
were four or five of them who had been badly wounded--were carried to
their hammocks, and tended carefully by the surgeon.  Adam Stallman was
conveyed to Mr Vernon's berth in the gun-room.  He was evidently more
hurt than anybody else.  The doctor gave a very unfavourable report of
his case to the captain from the first.  Every one on board grieved much
to hear of his danger, for he was much beloved; but he seemed calm and
contented.  When I saw him his looks were cheerful--a smile was on his
lips.  Few would have believed that he was a person about shortly to
die, and that he full well knew it.  It was not a stoical indifference
to death; not the courage of a man endowed with physical hardihood; but
true Christian fortitude and resignation to the will of God, trust in
his Maker's promises, hope in the future, which supported him.  We were
now returning to Malta; for Captain Poynder saw that there would be no
use of attempting to punish the Reefians for their late acts, and that
we should certainly only be the chief sufferers if we attacked them.

One day Adam Stallman sent for Dicky Sharpe and me.

"My dear boys," he said, "I have sometimes given you good advice, and I
much regret that I have not given you more, as you always took it well.
I may never have an opportunity of speaking to you again."

"Oh! don't say so, Stallman," sobbed my young messmate.  "Don't die!
You must recover, and stay with us."

"Life and death are in God's hands alone," replied Adam Stallman.  "As
you have a regard for me, promise me that you will try not to forget
what I say to you.  Remember always that you were sent into this world
as a place of trial--that you have numberless bad propensities existing
in you, and many temptations constantly offered to you--that your trial
consists in the way you conquer the one and resist the other; but also
recollect that you have no power whatever of yourselves to do this--that
of yourselves you would not even know how to resist--you would not know
that it was necessary to resist.  But then you must know that God is
just, merciful, and kind; that He has given mankind a guide, not only to
tell them that they must resist, but to show them how to resist
temptation--how to conquer evil propensities; that if they will pray to
Him, He will give them knowledge and grace, and strength sufficient for
all their wants.  In that guide--that Book of books--He tells them that
He sent His only Son, that His sufferings and death might be accepted
instead of their eternal suffering and death, to which their sins would
most justly have consigned them.  Therefore, my dear boys, I want you to
study, that book, day after day--never give it up.  But, at the same
time, do not fancy that you are doing a meritorious act by merely
reading it.  You must examine it, and treasure it, as you would a
precious gift.  You should read it with thankfulness and joy that God
has given you that precious gift.  You are not doing him any service by
reading it.  The acts alone which result from reading it do him any
service; and, after all, those acts are only your bounden duty.  Common
gratitude demands them from you.  Never forget.  You must pray daily--
pray for grace, and faith, and strength, and knowledge; and be assured
that God will give them to you at last.  Never cease praying.  What I
have said may seem hard to you, my dear boys; but it is the truth; and I
could not have died happy without saying it, as I felt that it was my
duty to say it.  Be religious, and never be ashamed of your religion.
Hoist your colours in sight of the enemy, and fight bravely under them
wherever you go."

Much more our friend said, but the above was the pith of his discourse.
I believe that neither my young messmate nor I ever forgot what he said.
By following his advice, we have found a comfort, a joy, a strength,
which we should never otherwise have known.  Our kind friend's
forebodings were speedily fulfilled; and before we reached Malta he had,
in perfect peace, yielded up his life to the God who gave it.

"What! did the good Adam Stallman really die?" some of my young readers
may ask.  Yes; good and bad, rich and poor, of all ranks and stations in
society, are often summoned in their joyous youth, their flowering
manhood, by a just God, to render up an account of their mode of life.
Oh! my young friends, remember that you, too, may be summoned away from
this bright world, and all you hold dear, in an hour, a day, a year--at
a moment you think not of; and that you, too, must render up an account
of how you have lived on earth before the great, the just, the
All-seeing Judge; that every thought of your heart, every action you
have performed, will then be laid bare; and that, unless you can say, I
did my duty to the best of my power and knowledge, and I trusted to
Christ to save me, it were better, far better, that you had never been
born.  I shall be glad to find that my adventures amuse you, but I
should also deeply blame myself if I did not try and make you understand
these things; and I should feel that it were also far better that my
book had not been written.



CHAPTER NINETEEN.

RETURN TO ENGLAND--APPOINTED TO THE OPOSSUM--THE COMMANDER'S OATH--HOW
HE KEPT IT--THE GALE--LOSS OF MASTS--OLD POPPLES--DEATH OF COMMANDER--
THE PIRATE--END OF MYERS.

I forgot to say in the last chapter, that before shaping our course for
Malta, we ran a little way down the coast, and landed our young Reefian
prisoner.  It might have been better had Captain Poynder endeavoured,
through his means, to treat with the old Sheikh for the liberation of
his captives; but, probably, the success of such a plan was considered
too doubtful to be attempted.  What became of Mr Vernon's jewel-box I
do not know: I fancy the contents were of very little intrinsic value.
We carried Major Norman and his daughter to Gibraltar, whence they went
to England.  Mr Vernon did not marry for upwards of a year after this.
He and his wife are among my most intimate friends.  We met with no more
adventures worth recording in the old _Harold_.  At length we returned
to Portsmouth, and being paid off, I was once more a gentleman at large.
I did not long remain so, for my kind uncle took care to get me another
ship as soon as possible.  In the meantime, I accompanied Dicky Sharpe
to the home of his father and mother, Sir John and Lady Sharpe.  They
were excessively kind, and made a great deal of me; and so did the
Misses Sharpe, who, being a good deal older than Dicky, treated us
somewhat like little children, petting and humouring our fancies, which
did not altogether please me.  It made me much more inclined to act like
a child, and to join Dicky in any pranks he proposed.  I was very sorry,
however, to have to go away.  It was, at the same time, no little
satisfaction to both of us, that we found ourselves appointed to the
same ship--a fine sixteen-gun brig, just fitting out--the _Opossum_,
Captain Cranley.  Dicky, however, got leave for two or three weeks,
while I had to join at once.  His friends got him the appointment
because it was considered better that he should see some service in a
small craft, with a smart officer, which our commander was said to be;
while I joined because I was not likely to get a better.  I had gone to
see Larry as soon as I reached England, and found him and his wife
flourishing.  When I got back to Portsmouth, while the brig was fitting
out, I paid him frequent visits, to the old man's great delight; and he
used to tell everybody he met what a first-rate sailor I had become,
winding up invariably, with a look of no little pride, "Ay, sir, and
'twas I taught him--didn't I, Master Neil?"

I must not forget to mention my kind uncle and aunt, and Daisy Cottage,
where I was always a welcome guest.  He had paid the cutter off, but
expected soon to obtain another appointment.  Of the Marlows I could
only hear that they had gone abroad; but as Miss Alice had promised to
write to my aunt as soon as they had settled, I was in hopes of hearing
about them.  But I must get on with my story.  The _Opossum_ was at sea,
running down Channel, with orders to wait at Falmouth for despatches and
mails for Halifax, Nova Scotia.  With the exception of Dicky Sharpe, all
my brother officers were strangers to me, and mostly to each other, so
it took a little time before we became acquainted and shook into our
places.  Captain Cranley, I found, was somewhat of the old school--very
kind-hearted and simple-minded, and not less strict towards himself than
towards others--with a nice sense of honour, and very sensitive of
rebuke.  I was very glad to find that my old friend Jack Stretcher had
volunteered, with the hope of one day becoming a warrant-officer.  I
must also mention the boatswain, who, though an oldish man, had not long
taken out his warrant.  He was a prime seaman, with nothing very
remarkable in his appearance, except that he was tall and thin, and had
a long bushy beard, now somewhat grizzled.  The aforesaid individual,
Mr Popples, was neat and clean, and had really good manners; his great
ambition being to rise in the world, though he had begun to ascend
rather late in life.  We youngsters had a great respect for him,
notwithstanding some of his peculiarities, and should never have dreamed
of playing him the tricks we did old Chissel and Trundle in the
_Harold_.  Two days after we left Falmouth, the wind, which had been
from the eastward and moderate, chopped round to the westward and
north-west, and began to blow very heavily.  Our commander, however, was
not a man to be frightened by a capful of wind; so we close-reefed the
topsails, and lay upon our course as near as we could.  The gallant
little brig headed the seas bravely, and gave us every reason to hope
that we might weather out the gale without damage.  Towards the evening
of the third day, however, it came on to blow harder than ever; the
clouds came gathering up in thick masses, as if hurried one on the
other, without the means of escaping, and the sea rose higher and
higher.  Mr Pullen, the master, kept glancing to windward in a
significant manner.

"What do you think of it, master?" asked Captain Cranley.

"Why, sir, the sooner that we up-helm, and run into port, the better for
the ship and ourselves," replied Mr Pullen.  "There's no use straining
a vessel till every timber in her creaks and groans with pain,--that's
my opinion."

"A very just one, master, and I'll follow your advice," said the
captain.  "All hands wear ship."

The delicate, operation was successfully performed.  The helm was put
up--the aftersails were brailed up and furled--more headsail was got on
her.  For an instant she rolled heavily in the trough of the sea; then
her headsail, feeling the full force of the wind, carried her head away
from it, and, like a sea-bird released from imprisonment, off she flew
on rapid wings before it.  A number of vessels, driven in by stress of
weather, were collected in Falmouth Harbour as we entered.  We ran by
them, past the flag-ship, for the purpose of bringing up, when we were
hailed with--

"What!  Captain Cranley, are you afraid of a capful of wind?  There's
nothing to hurt you now outside; so go to sea again without bringing
up."

These words stung our old captain to the quick.

"It's the first time James Cranley was ever taunted for being afraid of
anything, much less a gale of wind; and it shall be the last time, too,
whatever comes of it, so help me Heaven!"

Fearfully did the old man keep his vow.  Accordingly, we forthwith stood
out again to sea.  When we were clear of the land, we found the gale
completely abated, and we had a very fine passage, till within about a
hundred miles of our port, when it fell calm.  Never do I recollect a
more perfect calm.  The sea was like lead in colour, but as smooth as
glass, though every now and then there came a long, slow, gently-moving
undulation, as if there were some unseen power beneath the water.  There
was something, I thought, very ominous in the whole appearance of the
atmosphere.  The barometer, the seaman's warning friend, began also to
sink, and each hour the quicksilver got lower and lower.  Thus passed
two days, but not a breath of wind came.  Captain Cranley paced his deck
with uneasy steps.  The master likewise looked far from satisfied, I
thought, with the appearance of the weather, and kept continually
glancing round the horizon, in search of the expected sign of a change.
The sails hung idly down against the masts, every now and then flapping
loudly, as the vessel rolled slowly in the swell.  It would have been
more seamanlike had they been furled; but, to tell the truth, our
commander appeared seized with a fit of infatuation, which deprived him
of his usual clear judgment on professional matters.  He had not got
over his late unjust reprimand.  With a morbid feeling of injured
honour, he allowed it to rankle in his bosom.  People are apt to have a
foreboding of evil; but on the present occasion there were ample reasons
for dreading mischief.

"To my mind, if we were to furl every stitch of canvas, and send down
our topmasts, we should be acting like seamen," said old Popples, as I
was forward, attending to some duty.

"Why do you say that?"  I asked.  "The sea is like glass, and there's no
wind, nor chance of any, as far as I can judge."

"Because I haven't sailed round the world for the last forty years with
my eyes shut, Mr D'Arcy," he replied.  "Be sure, when the weather's
like this, there's no slight gale coming on; but the commander is a good
seaman, and I suppose he'll give the order soon."

The commander, however, did not seem to apprehend any immediate change
of weather.  Not so Mr Pullen.  Whenever he went into the cabin, he
found that the silver in the barometer had sunk lower than ever; and
each time he came on deck, looking more anxious than before.  After some
time spent in watching the sky to the northward, he walked up to the
commander.

"Captain Cranley, sir," said he, "it's my duty to tell you that, in my
opinion, this weather won't last many hours longer--not to say minutes,
perhaps; and if the squall I look for catches us with all this canvas
set, it will carry the masts over the side to a certainty."

"It's the custom in the service generally for officers to wait till
their opinion is asked," replied the commander, turning on his heel, and
taking a few more turns on the quarter-deck.  At last he stopped, and
looked out towards the northward and westward, where a thick mass of
clouds was banking up, each instant rising higher and higher.

"Mr Fairman," he said, to the first-lieutenant, "call all hands to
shorten sail; put the brig under double-reefed topsails.  Whichever way
the squall comes, we mustn't be frightened at it this time, eh?"

The command was quickly obeyed, but the air remained as stagnant as
ever.  Still old Popples was not satisfied.

"We are better so than we were before, I'll allow," he remarked; "but
the gale, when it does begin to blow, will, to my mind, be a regular
hurricane, and we shall be glad to run before it under bare poles.  Mark
my words, Mr D'Arcy!"

Boatswains do not always deliver their opinion thus freely about their
captain; but old Popples was privileged, at all events with us
midshipmen.  Mr Pullen shrugged his shoulders and said nothing, though
he evidently held the same opinion as the boatswain.  The commander had
just retired to his cabin, while the master continued his walk, turning
his eye every now and then towards the quarter whence he expected the
wind to come.  Suddenly he stopped.

"Here it is!" he exclaimed.  "Up with the helm--square away the
afteryards."

Scarcely had he spoken, than a terrific roar was heard, and down came
the gale upon us with unbridled fury, driving before it vast masses of
spoondrift, and tearing up the water into huge waves, which every
instant rose higher and higher.  Off flew the brig's head, however,
before it, and it seemed like a race between her and the dense sheets of
spray which careered over the seas, and the clouds of scud which chased
each other across the sky.  Her course, however, was to be suddenly
arrested.  The commander made his appearance hurriedly on deck.

"What means this?" he exclaimed.  "There's our port, sirs," pointing to
the north-west.  "Bring the ship on a wind--down with the helm--brace up
the yards!"

The officers stood aghast, but the order was not to be disputed.

No sooner did the brig feel the full force of the wind, than she heeled
over, till her lee guns were buried in the waves, and the spray came
flying over us, fore and aft.  Still we looked up to it, and, had the
wind not increased, we might have weathered it very well; but it was
evident that the gale had not yet come to its height.  Magnificently the
brave little brig dashed through it; but it was fearful work,--the
timbers groaned, and the masts bent, every instant threatening to go by
the board.  Once more Mr Pullen urged the commander to bear up.

"No, no, master," he answered, shaking his head; "I've sworn that no
power shall ever again turn me away from the port to which I am bound;
and James Cranley is not a man you would ask to break his oath, I hope."

"Well, sir, but the brig will hold her own better under closer canvas,
you'll allow," urged the master.

After some time the commander permitted the topsails to be close-reefed,
but not another stitch would he take off her.  Still the brig had too
much sail set; and wearily and heavily she laboured through the yet fast
rising seas.

I had been on deck for some hours, and, drenched to the skin, was
shivering with cold, when Mr Pullen, with whom I was a favourite, told
me to go and lie down in his berth, our own not being tenable, from the
water which the straining of the ship allowed to run into it.  All the
officers and the watch were on deck.  In spite of the heavy pitching of
the ship, I soon fell asleep.  How long I remained so I know not, when a
terrific noise awoke me.  I felt the suffocation of drowning, and for a
moment saw the water in dark green masses rushing into the cabin.  In
another instant it was all dark.  I uttered a prayer for mercy, for I
felt that the brig was on her side and sinking.  Still the love of life
did not desert me.  Through the darkness I discerned one bright spot
overhead.  I made for it, and as I found my hands grasping the combings
of the gun-room skylight, the brig, with a sudden jerk, righted again.
I thought it was only preparatory to going down.  Still I held on.  The
water rolled away, and disappeared from above and beneath me, and I was
able to obtain a clear view along the deck.  What a scene of destruction
and horror met my view!  Of all those living men who lately peopled her
decks, not a soul was there--not a mast was standing--not a boat
remained--as if the destroying sword of the Archangel had swept over
them.  The decks were swept clear of everything; while the green
foam-topped seas, in mountain masses, rose above them, threatening every
instant to overwhelm my hapless vessel.  A glance showed me all this.
Looking forward, I saw another head rising from the fore-hatchway; it
was that of old Popples, the boatswain.

"What! are they all gone?" he shouted; "then I'm captain.  Lend a hand,
Mr D'Arcy, and we'll try and get the ship before the wind."

"Captain of a sinking ship you may be, Mr Popples," I answered, amused,
even in that moment of horror, at the old man's extraordinary ambition.

But there was no time for talking.  I sprang on deck, as he had done,
and at the same instant a cry reached our ears, and looking to leeward,
we saw the faces of several of our shipmates, clinging to the spars and
rigging, which still hung on to the ship.

At first, surrounded as they were with the seething foam, their
countenances convulsed with terror or agony, as they clung with their
death-grasp to the rigging, it was difficult to recognise them; while,
one by one, they were torn from their uncertain hold, and borne far away
to leeward.  Still some clung on.  I trusted my friend Dicky Sharpe
might be of the number; for even then, strange as it may seem, I
pictured to myself the grief and misery his loss would cause at that
home where I had lately seen him the hope and joy of a loving mother and
affectionate sisters.  These thoughts occupied scarcely a second.  In a
few moments I recovered from the sensation of almost overwhelming horror
which the scene had caused; and, as I gazed more attentively, I
recognised Dicky himself, with Captain Cranley, and the master, yet
clinging to the rigging.

The watch below, whom the boatswain had summoned, joined us without
delay; and I must do him the justice to say, that no one could more
nobly have exerted himself than he did in trying to save those who would
speedily deprive him of his new-fledged honours.  The foremast and its
rigging, in falling, had torn away the chain-plates and everything which
secured it forward; and the whole tangled mass of spars and ropes now
hung on by the after-shrouds, and had both served to put the brig before
the wind, by holding back her stern, while it allowed her head to pay
off, and acted also as a sort of breakwater, which saved us from being
pooped.  The poor fellows in the water were crying loudly for help as
they caught sight of us on deck.  One of the nearest was Dicky Sharpe.
Calling Jack Stretcher to my aid, I got him to heave a rope with a bight
at the end which I had made.  It fell close to Dicky's head.  He grasped
it with one hand, and slipped it over his shoulders.  We hauled on it
till we got him near the side.  Just then the foreyard came surging up,
and I thought would strike him.

"Give me your hand!"  I shrieked out.

I caught it barely in time.  Stretcher leaned through a port, and we got
Dicky in at the moment that the yard came thundering against the side,
almost grazing his foot.  All this was but the work of a second.
Popples had in the meantime, by great exertions, managed to get the
master on board; and his next attempt was to save Captain Cranley.  He,
however, was much further out, hanging on to one of the topmasts.  None
of the ropes near him which we could reach would come home.  There
appeared to be no means of saving him.  Two other men were, however, got
in.

"Come, I can't bear to see our old skipper washed away before our eyes.
What will his wife and children do?" exclaimed Jack Stretcher.  "I've no
one at home to care for me; so some on you clap on here, while I just
make a fly out, and see if I can't get hold of him."

The gallant fellow had made a rope fast to his waist, and was on the
point of making his perilous attempt by springing into the raging sea,
when a terrific wave came rolling up astern.  Its curling crest lifted
high the spar to which the commander clung.  I fancied that I could see
his starting eyes take one last earnest glance at the ship, and his lips
moved as if imploring us to save him.  Then down came the wave; and as
the ship was hurried on before it, its broken waters tore away his
already failing grasp, and in a moment he was buried from our sight.  We
had no time to mourn for him then.  Mr Pullen instantly took command,
and Popples was fain to act as his first-lieutenant; while Sharpe and I
did our utmost to make ourselves useful.

The wreck of the masts, as I have said, kept the brig before the wind.
While some hands set to work to rig the pumps, others got up a bit of a
jury-mast, secured to the stump of the foremast.  On this we managed to
spread a topgallant-sail, which helped her along famously.  All hands
who could possibly be spared were required to work the pumps, spell and
spell; and the wonder was, when we found the immense quantity of water
she had taken on board, that she had not gone down.  As it was, her deck
and upper works leaked in every direction; and we all felt that such,
even now, might be our fate.  I shall never forget the anxiety of that
first night, as, amid the raging seas, with the gale howling round us,
our near sinking ship, battered and dismasted, ran through the darkness,
every sea, as, foam-crested, it came rolling up astern, threatening to
overwhelm us.  Who but fools would not, on such occasions, feel the
utter helplessness of their own arm to help them, or would fail to put
their trust alone in Him who is all-powerful to save.  Yes; it is amid
the raging storm and on the battered wreck that the seaman, if his mind
be but directed aright, gains a practical knowledge of the value of
religion.  But alas! how few--how very few--are taught religious truths;
and the very men who wander round the globe, and might act as important
pioneers of civilisation and Christianity among the heathen, are
allowed, for the most part, to remain ignorant and profane--a disgrace,
instead of an honour, to the Christian nation to which they belong.
Such a state of things ought not to exist; and I ask you, my young
friends, to aid in conveying the blessings of the gospel to our gallant
seamen, and, through their means, to the far distant nations of the
earth.  But to return to the brig.  For two days we ran to the
southward, without any change in the weather.  At length it began to
moderate, and in three days more we had run into comparatively a smooth
sea.

No one would willingly have blamed our late unfortunate commander; but
we all felt that, had he bore up in time, as a seaman should have done,
instead of obstinately persisting in holding his ground, he would have
saved his own and many valuable lives, and the brig would have escaped
the disaster she had suffered.

Mr Pullen had shaped a course for the Bermudas; but, low as they are,
it was necessary to keep a very sharp look-out, to prevent running past
them, or on to the coral reefs by which they are surrounded.  Our
landfall, however, was better than we expected; and one of the fine
pilot-boats, for which the islands are so deservedly noted, coming off
to us, we were safely towed into harbour.  The brig was some months in
the hands of the dockyard people before we were ready for sea, our
despatches, after some weeks' detention, being sent on to their
destination.

During the period of our stay, the merchants, as well as the military
officers, were very kind to Dicky and me.  The Bermudas are also called
Somers' Islands, because Sir George Somers was cast away on them in
1609, since when they have been inhabited by English settlers.  Their
productions are very similar to those of the West Indies.  There are a
number of blacks on them, who at the time I speak of were slaves, but
are now, of course, free.  They consist of four principal islands, the
chief of which is called Saint George, and other smaller ones.  They
take their name from Juan Bermudez, who discovered them in 1522.  I have
no time to say more about the place.

Before we were ready for sea, a new commander was sent out from
England--Captain Idle.  His name was very far from appropriate to his
character.  He brought us the pleasing information that we were destined
for the coast of Africa, where some fast cruisers were much wanted to
put down the slave-trade.

Captain Idle had seen some service.  He had been thirty years at sea,
out of which time he had not probably spent two on shore.  He had been
in the North Seas and West Indies, in the Antarctic Ocean, and on the
coast of Africa, in the Indian seas, and in every part of the Pacific.
There was not an unhealthy station in which he had not served.  He had
served for ten years as a first-lieutenant.  He had been three times
wounded, and had obtained his rank, both as lieutenant and commander,
for two remarkable deeds of gallantry; and now, as a special reward for
his services, I suppose, he was sent out to the coast of Africa.

A first-lieutenant also joined us--Reuben Spry by name,--and two mates,
the senior of whom did duty as second lieutenant--Holland and Waller.
The very day we were ready for sea we went out of harbour, and made the
best of our way towards the coast of Africa.  A succession of easterly
winds had kept the _Opossum_ more to the west than she would otherwise
have been.  We were about the latitude of Barbadoes, when, having run on
during most of the night with a fair breeze, towards morning it dropped
altogether, and we found ourselves rolling away in a tropical calm.  As
we were already in the seas where slavers are to be found, a bright
look-out was kept, in the hopes of our falling in with a prize, though
as yet not a sail had been seen to which it was thought worth while
giving chase.  As morning broke, of a day I shall not easily forget,
there appeared to the southward, not four miles from us, two vessels
becalmed like ourselves.  One, a large barque, somewhat the nearest to
us, was clearly an English merchantman; the other, a low, black
schooner, had the wicked, rakish appearance of a Spanish slaver.  The
look-out from the foretopmast-head gave notice at the same time that he
could see two boats pulling from one vessel to the other.  The captain
and all the officers were speedily on deck.

"There's some mischief going on there," exclaimed Captain Idle, after a
look at the vessels.  "Mr Spry, call the boats away; we must send and
overhaul these fellows."

Three boats, under the command of the first-lieutenant, were speedily in
the water, and manned, all hands being well-armed.  Waller had charge of
one boat, I of the third,--and not a little proud did I feel of the
honour.  A cup of cocoa and some biscuit being first served out to each
of us, to give us strength for the work to be accomplished, away we
pulled towards the barque.  It was hot enough when we started, but as
the sun rose higher it grew hotter still, and the glare on the smooth
water became so bright as almost to blind us; but nothing relaxed our
exertions, all hands feeling that there was some work before us.  The
other boats had reached the barque when we were yet three miles off, and
very probably had not observed us, although the people from the rigging
of the merchantman must have done so.  The report of firearms was now
heard, and this made us redouble our efforts to get up.

"The merchantman is attacked by pirates; there is not a doubt of it,"
shouted Mr Spry.  "Fire off your muskets, my lads; it will give both
parties notice that we are coming to put a stop to their fun."

Those not pulling blazed away right merrily for a few minutes, and then
watched for the result.  It seemed to have encouraged one party and to
have disheartened the other, for the boats we had before seen were
observed pulling back to the schooner.

"Follow me, Waller.  After the boats, my lads!" shouted Mr Spry.
"D'Arcy, do you board the barque.  See if any assistance is required,
and if not, pull for the schooner."

It took me but a short time to find myself alongside the barque, while
the rest of our party were in chase of the strange boats.  So eagerly
were those on board looking out at the chase, that they did not observe
me step on board.  Alas! the appearance of the deck showed too plainly
that mischief had already been done.  One man lay dead, and two more sat
on the deck, supported by their shipmates.  But there were two persons
in a group standing aft, whom I thought I recognised.  I looked again.
I was sure I could not be mistaken, and running up to them, I found
myself shaking hands most warmly with Mr Marlow and his daughter.  He
did not recognise me; but she did in a moment, and told him who I was.

"Again you have helped to save our lives, Mr D'Arcy," he exclaimed;
"for, thanks to our brave captain here, we were able to resist a band of
villainous pirates who attacked us, till your appearance frightened them
off."

I of course told them how happy I was to be of service, and then,
finding that my presence on board the barque was not required, I tumbled
into my boat, and gave way after my shipmates.  The pirates' boats had
gained the schooner about ten minutes before they had.  I was not long
behind them, and the aid of my boat's crew was very welcome.  The deck
of the schooner was crowded with men, who were making a desperate
resistance.  The most prominent of them fought more like a demon than a
human creature.  With desperate energy he wielded a huge cutlass, with
which he kept the deck clear around him.  His men, however, a mixture of
Spanish, Portuguese, blacks, and a few English or Americans, were
falling thick on either side, and several had actually been driven
overboard.  My gallant fellows gave a loud shout as we scrambled on
deck, and, led by Jack Stretcher, they cleared everything before them.
Some of the pirates were forced down the hold, others overboard, and
several sunk on the deck to rise no more.  Still the captain stood at
bay.  I now had a better opportunity of observing him, and at once I
recognised my old enemy, the villain Myers.

"Your time is come at last, Bill Myers," I shouted.

The words seemed to have a paralysing effect.  What thoughts they called
up, I know not.  Perhaps he had not for long been known by that name.
He made a few steps backward, and then, with one bound, cleared the side
of the vessel and leaped overboard.  There was no land to swim to--no
boat to pick him up--but ravenous sharks surrounded the scene of strife,
already collected by the taste of blood.  In another instant the
long-sought-for smuggler, murderer, and pirate was their prey.  The
remainder of the pirates yielded without another blow.  We found that
they had shipped for a slave voyage only; but had been induced by Myers,
who had lately got command, to commence a course of piracy, which, by
our appearance, had happily been cut short.  After some hours, a breeze
springing up, we brought the vessels together.  Waller and I were
ordered to take the prize into Barbadoes, where the barque also was
bound; while the _Opossum_ cruised outside to look out for slavers.

Mr Marlow was going to spend some time at Bridgetown, where he had a
house of business.  He received Waller and me most kindly, and nothing
could exceed the hospitality of the inhabitants generally when they
heard of our exploit.  Captain Curtis, also, the master of the barque,
got great credit for the way he had defended his vessel till we came to
his assistance.  Miss Alice Marlow had grown somewhat, but still she was
very little for her age.  She was, however, as kind as ever, and I, for
one, was very sorry when the _Opossum_ came in with another prize.  The
survivors of the men who had boarded the barque were hung, and the
schooner herself was condemned.  This business being accomplished, the
_Opossum_ once more made sail for the coast of Africa.



CHAPTER TWENTY.

LOOK OUT FOR SLAVERS IN A BOAT--WEARY OF WAITING--A SAIL IN SIGHT--
CAPTURE HER--ATTACKED BY A LARGER SLAVER--DESPERATE FIGHT--BEAT HER OFF.

We had been some weeks on the coast without having taken a prize,
although we had chased several suspicious-looking craft, which had
contrived to get away from us.  At Sierra Leone we had shipped a dozen
Kroomen, to get wood and water for the ship, a work which Europeans in
that climate are unable to perform without great risk.  At length
Captain Idle began to grow impatient.  One day he sent for Waller, who
had been on the coast before with him, and was a very clever, active
fellow.

"Waller," said he, "I want you to go away in the pinnace, and while some
of these slaving gentlemen are running away from us, perhaps you may be
able to render a good account of them.  You will require a companion.
Will you like to take D'Arcy with you?"

Waller expressed his readiness to go, and to have my society; and so it
was settled.  Among his other accomplishments, he was a first-rate shot
with a rifle, and it was reported, when he was before on the coast, that
he used to pick off the men at the helm, and any of the crew who went
aloft or appeared above the bulwarks, and had thus caused the capture of
several slavers.  I was to see this talent exerted.  Jack Stretcher, who
was a capital companion, went with us as coxswain.  We were all dressed
in thick flannel shirts, and had blankets in which to wrap ourselves at
night.  We had water and provisions for ten days, and a small stove,
with which to warm up our cocoa and tea, and to make a stew or a broil
on occasion.  I do not remember that we had any other luxuries.  Towards
the end of the afternoon watch we shoved off from the brig's side,
having wished our shipmates "Good-bye!" with a sort of feeling that we
might not meet again.  While the _Opossum_ stood away on a bowline to
the northward, we shaped a course for the mouth of the Gaboon river.  We
arrived at our cruising ground before daybreak.  Waller then ordering
the men to lay in their oars, which had hitherto been kept going, and
lowering the sail, told them to wrap themselves in their blankets, and
to lie down under the thwarts.  I kept watch while he also slept.  The
night was bright and beautiful, and the sea, smooth as a mirror,
reflected the glittering stars which shone forth from the dark blue
heavens, while our boat lay floating idly on its slumbering bosom.  So
deep was the silence which reigned around, that the breathing of the
sleepers sounded strangely loud, and I fancied that I could hear
vessels, even though out of sight, passing by, or fish rising to the
surface to breathe, or cleaving the water with their fins.  At other
times my imagination made me fancy that I could hear beings of another
world calling to each other as they flew through the air or floated on
the ocean; and I almost expected to see their shadowy forms glide by me.
About an hour before dawn, Waller got up and told me to take some rest.
I was not sorry to lie down, albeit my rest was far from refreshing.  I
soon began to dream, and dreamed that I was a plum-pudding, and that
Betty, the cook at Daisy Cottage, had fastened me up in a flannel
pudding-bag, and put me into a pot to boil.  The water soon began to
simmer, and I to swell and swell away, till the string got tighter and
tighter round my throat, while a thick black smoke arose from some coals
which she had just put on.  I was looking out of the pot, and meditating
on the proverb, "Out of the frying-pan into the fire," when, being
unable to stand it any longer, I jumped out of the pudding-bag, and
found myself rolling at the bottom of the boat.

"Why, D'Arcy, I thought you were going to spring overboard," said
Waller.  When I told him my dream, he laughed heartily, and agreed there
was ample cause for it.

Our blankets were wet through and through, and a dense black fog hung
over us, through which it was impossible to discover the position of the
sun, which had some time been up, or of any object ten fathoms off;
while the sea was as smooth as a sheet of glass, and as dull-coloured as
lead.  As I awoke I found my throat sore from the unwholesome moisture I
had inhaled.  We had nothing, therefore, to do but cook and eat our
breakfast, and practise patience.  There was little use exhausting the
men's strength by pulling, as we were as likely to pull from, as
towards, a vessel.  Hour after hour thus passed away, till at length the
sun conquered the mist, and gradually drew it off from the face of the
deep, discovering a wide expanse of shining water, unbroken by a single
dot or speck which was likely to prove a sail; while to the eastward
arose a long dark line of mangrove-trees, at the mouth of the Gaboon
river.  The land-breeze came off to us, smelling of the hot parched
earth; and we turned our eyes anxiously whence it blew, in the hope of
seeing some white sail dancing before it over the bar of the river; but
we were doomed to disappointment.  The hot sun struck down on our heads,
and tanned and scorched our cheeks, and the upper works of the boat
cracked with the heat, till a beefsteak might have been broiled on the
gunwale.  At last the land-wind died away; there was again a dead calm,
in which we roasted still faster, till the sea-breeze set in and
somewhat cooled our parched tongues.  Now we looked out seaward, in the
hopes of finding some slaver, unsuspectingly standing in, either to ship
the whole or the portion of a cargo, having already, perhaps, taken some
on board at another part of the coast.  Nothing is more trying to the
temper than to have to sit quiet and do nothing; yet such was our fate
from day to day, as we lay like a snake ready to spring on its prey.
The sun rose, and roasted us, and set, leaving us to be parboiled, and
rose again, without a sail appearing.  We ate our breakfasts, and
dinners, and suppers, and smoked our pipes, and sat up, and went to
sleep again, in the same regular manner for several successive days.

At length, one morning, a light breeze sprang up; and, as the fog was
blown off in dense wreaths, the topsails of a schooner were seen rising
above them.

"Out oars, my men, and give way with a will!" exclaimed Waller, in an
animated voice.  "We are not yet seen, and may get alongside before they
find us out."

The men, in their delight at the prospect of having something to do,
would have cheered, but he silenced them.  We hoped that she was a
slaver; but she might, after all, be only an honest Liverpool trader.
When first seen, she was little more than a mile off, to the south-west
of us, running in for the land with the wind, which was from the
northward abeam.

"What do you think of her, Jack?" asked Waller, after Stretcher had been
eyeing her narrowly.

"Why, sir, to my mind, those topsails have only been cut by Spanish
fingers; so I make pretty sure she's nothing else than a nigger
passage-vessel."

This announcement made the men give way still more heartily, for, though
the wind was fair, we did not make sail, as we should thereby have been
more quickly seen.  Away we pulled, the water bubbling and hissing under
our bows as we cut through it.  When we got within a quarter of a mile
of the chase, she saw us, we judged, by hearing a musket fired and
seeing a bullet strike the water near us.

"That proves he has got no guns on board.  Give way, my lads!" shouted
Waller.

The men cheered, and bent to their oars with greater vigour.  We then
hoisted the British ensign, and fired a musket to make the fellow
heave-to; but, taking no notice of the signal, he held on his course.
The wind continued so light, however, that we were overhauling him fast;
but there were signs, both on the sky and water, that it might again get
up, and afford him a better chance of escaping.  At all events, he was
evidently not inclined to give in.

"I must teach the fellow that the British flag is not to be trifled
with," said Waller, taking up his rifle.  "I have no compassion on these
slaving villains."

Scarcely had he spoken, when a man, whom we both took to be the captain,
jumped into the netting abaft the main-rigging, and made some very
significant gestures to us to be off; and directly afterwards, seeing
that we continued our course, several of his crew let fly their muskets
at us.

"You've brought it on your own head," exclaimed Waller, loading his
rifle.  He fired.  The next moment we saw the man fall back upon his
deck.  There was then a great deal of shouting on board the schooner;
her helm was put up, and, the breeze freshening, she began to pay off
before the wind.  She had not got round, though, before we were under
her quarter.

"Hook on to her main-chains, my lad,--hook on fast!" cried Waller.

Unfortunately the bowman missed his aim; and the schooner, falling off,
brought the stern of our boat in contact with her counter.  Without a
moment's thought, Waller had sprung over her low bulwarks, followed by
Stretcher and me.  In an instant we were attacked by the whole of the
slaver's crew, who, with loud shouts and ferocious gestures, rushed aft,
fully hoping, as they saw that the pinnace had dropped astern, to make
us an easy prey.

The mainsheet of the schooner had been eased off, the foreyards had been
squared, and, with the now strengthening breeze, the schooner was
running fast through the water.  Waller took one glance over his
shoulder, and that showed him that there was scarcely a chance of the
boat overtaking us.  Our fate was sealed: no mercy could we expect from
the slaver's crew.  One hope only remained,--Waller had thought of it.

"Knock down the man at the helm, and jam the tiller down hard!" he sung
out to Stretcher.  "We will keep the other fellows at bay in the
meantime."

"Ay, ay, sir," answered Jack, as coolly as if he had been merely ordered
to give a pull at the main-brace.

There was a cry, and the next moment the body of the helmsman dropped on
the deck.  Jack had literally cut his head off with a sweep of his
cutlass.  The sight had the effect of making the Spaniards hang back for
a moment, when Jack, putting the helm hard down, made the sails all
shiver, and finally got her fore-topsail aback.  Seeing what had
occurred, the crew of the pinnace cheered, and, giving way, were soon
clambering over the counter, while we made a dash at the Spaniards, few
of whom attempted to oppose us even for a moment; most of them, indeed,
throwing away their arms, made their escape to the forecastle.  The rest
followed their example; and in two minutes the schooner _Zerlina_, with
a hundred and fifty slaves on board, was ours.  Besides the captain, and
the other man who was killed, there were twenty stout fellows, two or
three only being out of fighting order with their wounds.  We had
difficulty enough to keep the rest quiet.  They were, in truth, very
sulky, and inclined to revolt, when they had recovered from their
fright, and saw to how few they had succumbed.  Curses, loud and many,
escaped their lips, and showed that, if they had an opportunity, they
would murder us, and retake their vessel, without scruple.  We therefore
kept four of our men as a watch over them, with loaded muskets, with
orders to shoot the first who showed signs of proving mutinous.  Having
made these arrangements, we turned our attention to the living cargo
crowded between her decks.  It was a sickening sight, as we got the
hatches off and looked down upon the mass of black faces which, with
their white eyeballs rolling and mouths agape, gazed up at us, wondering
what was next to happen.  There sat a hundred and fifty human beings
chained down to iron bars running across the deck--men and women of all
ages, their chins resting on their knees, without space to stretch out
their limbs, or to alter their position in any way; a rag round their
loins being their only covering.  They were in good health, not having
been out many days; and there was a good supply of water and farina on
board.  We did our best to make them understand that we were friends,
and would set them on shore again, and make them free, as soon as we
could.

During our examination of the schooner, we had discovered a number of
spare handcuffs.  Jack Stretcher brought them from below, and threw them
on the deck, with a significant look at the Spaniards, who, in defiance
of orders, had made several attempts to come out on deck.

"I think if we was to clap 'em on to them Spanish lubbers, it wouldn't
be amiss, sir," said he to me, holding up a pair before me.

I mentioned the suggestion to Waller, who at length agreed that it would
be safe to follow it, taking one-half at a time, while the rest remained
in their berth under the forecastle.  Jack received the necessary
orders.

"Ay, ay, sir," he answered.  "Senhor Dons, understando, move forewardo
instanto, or I'll drive the pointo of my cutlasho into vostros
sternosos."

The prisoners understood his actions more than his words, for he fully
suited the one to the other, and they showed no inclination to dispute
them, he having evidently made them respect him, from his strength, and
the daring he had displayed on boarding.  Some we confined forward--some
in the after-cabin; and most fortunate it was that we did so.

It was some time before all our arrangements were made.  About an hour
before dark we tacked, to stand inshore again, Waller intending, should
we not fall in with the brig, to shape a course for Sierra Leone.  We
tacked again about midnight; but when daylight came, not a sign was
there of the _Opossum_; and, accordingly, towards the above-mentioned
place we steered.  We had the pinnace in tow; but we had taken the gun
out of her, and placed it amidships on the deck of the schooner.
Overcome with fatigue, Waller had thrown himself down aft, wrapped up in
his blanket, while I stood near him, with my eyes winking, and trying in
vain to be wide awake, when I was startled by the cry of "A sail on the
weather-bow!"

"Which way is she standing?" asked Waller, springing to his feet.

"Right down for us," answered Jack, who had gone aloft.  "I was hoping
she might be the brig, at first; but she's a large square-topsail
schooner, and, by the cut of her canvas, she looks like a Spanish or a
Portuguese slaver."

As the stranger drew near, no doubt as to what she was remained on our
minds.  Waller took his measures accordingly, with perfect coolness.
Seeing that the prisoners were thoroughly secured, we got ready all our
arms, and supplied ourselves with ammunition.  The gun amidships was
also loaded to the muzzle, and covered with a tarpaulin.  With the calm
courage which British seamen on all occasion display, our men waited the
approach of the stranger.  As she drew near, we made out that she had
three guns on each side, and that her decks were crowded with men.
Notwithstanding this overpowering disparity of force, our men looked at
her in no way daunted; and I felt sure that what men could do they would
for our defence.  Waller, however, judged that it would be as well to
animate their courage with a few words.

"Now, my men," said he, "we are but ten of us on board this craft, but
we are true and honest; and though there are probably fifty or sixty
Spaniards in yonder schooner, they are a set of slaving scoundrels, who
cannot stand up a moment before British seamen.  They will not attempt
to hull us with their shot, because they will wish to get back the
schooner uninjured; so they will try to take us by boarding.  I hope
they may, that we may show them that they have caught a Tartar.  All we
have to do is to blaze away with our muskets till we can give them a
taste of our cutlasses.  Our big gun we'll keep for a last dose; so now,
my boys, trust in a righteous cause, and huzza for Old England and
victory."

Our men cheered long and lustily, and the sound must have reached the
ears of the Spaniards, and at once showed them, had they before doubted
it, that the schooner was a prize to a British cruiser.  They forthwith
began to blaze away with their guns; but, as we had expected, they fired
high, in the hope of cutting away some of our rigging, that they might
the more easily lay us aboard.  We replied with our musketry as soon as
they got within range, and Waller picked off several of their people
with his rifle, so that they probably fancied we had some good marksmen
concealed under our bulwarks.  When they drew nearer, however, they
could not have failed to discover the smallness of our numbers.  As they
sailed faster than we did, all we could do to prevent their raking us,
which more than once they attempted to do, was to keep away when they
endeavoured to cross our bows, and to luff up again when they threatened
to pass under our stern.  Seeing, therefore, that the quickest way of
deciding the engagement was to run us on board, they bore right down
upon us; and, unable to avoid them, the fluke of our anchor became
hooked on to their fore-rigging.  At the same instant full thirty
swarthy figures were seen crowding into the Spaniard's riggings and
nettings, brandishing their swords, with fierce cries of vengeance,
thinking to terrify us into surrendering.

"Now, my lads! give them the dose I spoke of," shouted Waller.

The enemy leaped down on our deck, and were already in possession of the
forecastle.  The tarpaulin was cast off from the gun, and the muzzle,
loaded as it was with missiles of all sorts, was turned towards them,
and fired right in among them where they mustered the thickest.
Scarcely a man escaped being hit; five were killed outright; and so
astonished were the rest, that, thinking probably that the vessel
herself was blowing up, they tumbled, scrambled, and clambered back into
their own schooner in the greatest confusion.

"On! my boys, on!" shouted Waller; and, making a dash at the fellows, we
much expedited their movements.  In an instant not an enemy was left
alive on our decks.

"Up with the helm!" sung out Waller; and at the same time Jack and
another man cutting away at the fore-rigging of the enemy, we sheered
clear of him; while he, backing his fore-topsail, dropped under our
stern without firing a shot.  We therefore hauled our wind, and kept on
our course, and soon afterwards he filled his sails, and stood away to
the southward.  He had enjoyed a sufficient taste of our quality.  Not
one of us was hurt, while a quarter of his people must have been killed
or wounded.

Our men gave a loud huzza as they found themselves free.  To me it
seemed like a wild dream.  A few minutes before we were engaged in a
desperate struggle for life; and now, uninjured, we were sailing gaily
over the calm water, victors in the strife.  Had it not been for the
dead bodies of our foes remaining on the deck, we could scarcely have
believed our senses.  This action is considered one of the most gallant
that has occurred on the coast.

The next day, to our great satisfaction, the _Opossum_ hove in sight.
Captain Idle, having taken our prisoners out of us, ordered us to
proceed forthwith with the negroes to Sierra Leone for adjudication.



CHAPTER TWENTY ONE.

BLOWN OFF THE COAST--WALLER'S KINDNESS TO THE NEGROES--RUN SHORT OF
PROVISIONS AND WATER--VESSEL LEAKING--AMERICAN HARD-HEARTEDNESS--
WALLER'S NOBLE RESOLVE--BEACH BAHIA--AUDACIOUS TRICK OF BRAZILIAN
SLAVE-DEALERS.

We had parted from the _Opossum_ about a couple of days, when we
observed signs of one of those terrific easterly gales which sometimes
blow off the coast of Africa.  Waller, from his previous experience,
knew them, and remarked them in time, so that we were able to get all
snug to meet the wind when it came.  On a sudden the hitherto calm
leaden water was covered with a foam-drift, like the fine sand swept
across the stony desert.  The only sail we had set was a close-reefed
topsail and storm-jib; the helm was put up, and away she flew before the
gale, swift as the albatross on its snowy wing.  Away, away we sped, and
soon, leaving the African coast far astern, were ploughing the water of
the South Atlantic.  The _Zerlina_, though a beautiful model, as are
most of her class, was flimsily built, and far from a good sea-boat,
speed only having been cared for in her construction.  As we got away
from the land, we met a good deal of sea, in which she laboured much;
and Ned Awlhole, one of the carpenter's mates, who was acting carpenter,
came one afternoon with a very long face into the cabin, where Waller
and I were sitting at dinner, to inform us that she was making far more
water than was satisfactory.

"Get the pumps rigged, then, and we must try and keep her clear till we
can manage to beat back to Sierra Leone," said Waller, as coolly as if
it were a matter of slight importance.

"It is rather a serious thing this, is it not?"  I observed.  "I wonder
you make so light of it."

"Very serious; and on that account it behoves us, as officers, to keep
up our own spirits, and to cheer up the men," he replied.  "I am sorry
to say also, that I very much fear we shall fall short of water before
we get into port, if this wind continues; and, with all these poor
blacks on board, that will indeed be a very serious thing.  Good
seamanship may enable us to keep, the ship afloat, but God only can
provide us with water."

"What must we do, then?"  I asked.

"We must place all hands on short allowance, and we may fall in with
some vessel which may supply us; or showers may come, and we may collect
enough for our more pressing wants," he replied.  "We must keep the poor
negroes on deck as much as possible--with fresh air they may exist with
less water."

Waller had speedily won the confidence and affection of the negroes, by
his kindness and considerate conduct.  At first, when we had taken
possession of the vessel, they looked upon us as enemies, for the
Spaniards had told them that we should cook and eat them; but Waller,
who could speak a few words of their language, soon tranquillised their
fears on that account.  He then got upon deck the sick, and those whose
limbs were chafed or bruised, and gave them medicines, and dressed their
wounds with his own hands.  He told them that they should be set free to
go where they wished, and should, if possible, be enabled to return to
their own country.  Few, however, had any hope of being enabled to do
the latter, for they had mostly all been taken in war, or kidnapped from
districts away from the coast, the wars being undertaken by the chiefs
nearer the sea for the express purpose of making prisoners to sell into
slavery.  Two or three of those who had been kidnapped had already been
at Sierra Leone, or other British settlements, and as they understood a
good deal of English, we were able to communicate pretty freely with
them.  We found them, poor children of Ham, very intelligent fellows,
and as capable of receiving instruction as the people of any other race
I have ever met.  Waller's good example was followed by the crew, and at
last each man vied in showing kindness to the poor wretches, so that
they learned to look on us truly as their friends and protectors.  We
did but our duty.  They were our fellow-creatures, and we were soon to
be fellows in suffering.  At first I own it was very trying, and more
than once, as I was dressing their wounds, I turned sick; but I
recollected that they were fellow-beings, with human feelings, and souls
to be saved, like ours, and I returned to my duty with renewed strength
to perform it.  At length we found that we could, with perfect safety,
allow all the blacks to come on deck as they liked.  Whenever Waller
appeared, they shouted after him--"How do, Masser Waller?  Bless 'um,
Masser Waller!"  And some would come and kneel down, and put his hand on
their heads, with a look of affection which was unmistakeable.

"I believe, sir, it's all very right with these poor fellows, and
there's no harm in them," said Jack Stretcher to me one day.  "But, to
my mind, it doesn't do to trust these strange niggers too much.  They
sometimes, I've heard, rises and cuts the throats of their friends."

I agreed with Jack that it was necessary, in most cases, to be cautious;
but in the present instance it was evident, as things turned out, that
it was owing to Waller's judicious treatment of the negroes that all our
lives were preserved.

All this time the wind was blowing so strongly from the eastward, that
we found it impossible to beat up against it, so we had nothing else to
do but to continue running before it.  Every day matters were getting
more and more serious; our own provisions were growing shorter.  Of
anything like luxuries we had none--salt beef and pork, hard biscuit and
rice, and a little tea and sugar, with a cask of rum--none of the best
either, by-the-bye.  Waller called me into the cabin for a consultation.

"To get back to the coast is now impossible," he remarked.  "If this
wind holds, and we can keep the craft afloat, our best chance is to try
and make the coast of Brazil.  The port of Bahia is the nearest, and I
propose steering for that place."

I agreed with him; but we neither of us had any very strong hopes of
being really able to make it in time to save our own lives and those of
the negroes.  On carefully examining our stock of provisions, we found
that only by the most economical expenditure of them, and with the most
favourable weather, should we be able to reach our destination in time.
A foul wind, or a day or two of calm, would ruin us; and a gale would in
all probability send us to the bottom.  The blacks, of their own accord,
took their spell at the pumps, and finally relieved our men entirely of
the labour.  Had they been compelled to continue pumping, it would, I am
certain, have worn them out.  We most dreaded a want of water.  Not a
cloud appeared from which we might draw it forth, and scarcely could we
expect a shower.  Though constantly on the look-out, not a vessel could
we see, from whence we might get provisions.  At length, one morning, as
Jack Stretcher had gone aloft--

"A sail on the weather-bow!" he sung out, in a cheery tone, which gave
hope to all our hearts.  "She's standing across our course, so we can
speak her without altering it."

In about two hours we were up to her.  She was a good sized brig, and
the ensign, with the stars and stripes, which flew out at her peak,
showed that she hailed from the United States.  We had a signal of
distress flying, in addition to the British ensign.

"Hillo! what are you?" sung out a man in her main-rigging.

"A prize to His Britannic Majesty's brig of war _Opossum_," answered
Waller.  "What are you?"

"The _Go-along_, from Baltimore, bound for Rio," answered a person on
board the brig, through a speaking-trumpet.

"Heave-to, if you please, sir, and I will pay you a visit--we are in
great distress," said Waller.

"Ay, ay, sir," was the reply from the brig, as she was speedily brought
up on a wind and hove-to.

So soon as we could get a boat in the water, leaving Jack in charge,
Waller and I went on board the brig.  The master, a tall, thin, sallow
man, with a pointed beard, no whiskers, and a hooked nose, with a huge
cigar in his mouth, a straw hat on his head, loose nankeen trousers, and
a gingham swallow-tailed coat, received us at the gangway.

"Walk into the cabin, gentlemen, and let's liquor a bit," said he, as we
stepped on board, showing us the way before we had time to reply.

The cabin, to our eyes, looked luxuriously furnished, and not unwelcome
was the repast of cold beef and ham and fine biscuits which the steward
placed speedily before us, not forgetting a spirit-stand with four tall
bottles.  We did ample justice to the good things placed before us.

"And now, what's your pleasure, Mr Lieutenant?" laid the master of the
brig.

Waller explained exactly what had occurred.  "And now," he continued,
"we are in a sinking state; we have neither provisions nor water to last
us till we can reach a port; and the destruction of all these poor
people is sealed if you do not help us."

"What! take all them dirty niggers aboard my craft?" exclaimed the
skipper, with a look of ineffable disgust.  "You Britishers have rum
notions, I calculate."

"No, pardon me," said Waller.  "I only ask you to preserve from almost
certain destruction a number of our fellow-creatures; and any
remuneration which you may require will certainly be paid you."

"What! do you call them black niggers fellow-creatures, master?  That's
a rum joke, I guess," exclaimed the skipper.  "I should be happy to be
of service to you, but you are so unreasonable,--that you are."

"Scarcely unreasonable, sir," urged Waller, mildly.  "Can you not name a
sum for which you could land all the people I have on board at Bahia, or
the nearest port we can make."

"No, sir; I guess no sum would pay me to defile my vessel in the way you
propose," said the Yankee.  "I'll take you and your own crew with
pleasure; but the niggers are out of the question."

"What! would you leave the poor wretches to perish in the most horrible
way, with thirst and starvation?" exclaimed Waller, shuddering at the
thought.

"They are niggers," said the Yankee, coolly puffing forth a cloud of
smoke, and leaning back in his chair with a self-satisfied look.

"Hear me, sir!" exclaimed Waller, rising, a flush mantling on his brow.
"I have six thousand pounds of my own in this world.  That sum I will
make over to you, by every legal means you can devise, if you will take
these poor people on board your brig, and land them in a place of
safety.  This shall be over and above what my Government may award you.
I entreat you, as you hope for mercy here and hereafter, to do as I
ask."

"Not if you were to go down on your knees and pray till to-morrow
morning," replied the Yankee, slowly.  "Niggers are niggers, and they
can't be otherwise.  If you and your people like to come aboard, you are
welcome.  You've got my answer, Sir."

"Then, sir," exclaimed Waller, rising from his seat, "I'll trust to the
negroes' God, to mine, and to yours, for that help which you deny them.
May you never be in the same strait and seek in vain for help.  Good
day, sir."

The Yankee looked at us with an expression more of surprise than anger
as we left the brig's deck.

"Stay! you are not a bad chap, I guess.  Here, just take these things;
you are welcome to them."

Saying this he ordered a cask of water, some beef and biscuits, and a
few little luxuries, to be put into the boat.  We were not in a position
to decline the gift; and, to do the Yankee full justice, he would
receive no remuneration.  We thanked him sincerely; and assured him that
we regretted deeply our opinions on the nature of negroes did not
coincide; at which he shrugged his shoulders, and we pulled back to the
schooner.

We again made sail for the westward.

When I told Jack Stretcher what had occurred, he slapped his hand on his
thigh, and exclaimed:

"Mr Waller was right, sir, that he was, not to think of deserting the
poor niggers; and there isn't a man of us but would gladly stick by him
to the last."

I told Waller what Jack had said, and he replied that he was sure all
our people would have refused to have deserted the poor blacks, even if
he had proposed so cruel a proceeding to them.  We husbanded to the
utmost the provisions we had brought from the brig; though, divided
among all the people, there was scarcely more than enough to sustain
life for a day.  Still, not a seaman grumbled.  Far from so doing, he
willingly shared his own scanty allowance with any negro who appeared
more particularly to require sustenance.  It was amusing to see the
weather-beaten, thick-bearded men carrying about the little black
children, whose mothers were too weak to bring them on deck.

Though these Africans had hitherto been taught, with good reason, to
look upon white men as incarnations of devils, they began to consider
our gallant fellows as something approaching to angels; and, like
savages in general, always in extremes, they were ready now to worship
us.  Providentially the easterly wind continued, and the sea remained
calm, so that we made very good way, and were able to keep the leak
under.  It was with a sense of deep gratitude that we at length made the
land, when we had not a drop of water remaining, and with scarcely food
enough to sustain life for another day.  We fondly believed that all our
troubles were over.  The negroes shouted, and clapped their hands, and
laughed with joy: some of them fancied, I believe, that they had got
back to Africa.  The next morning we dropped our anchor in the harbour
of Bahia.  Waller proposed to get the schooner repaired, to take in a
supply of provisions, and to return to Sierra Leone, intending, if
necessary, to bear all the expenses himself.  Now I am going to relate a
circumstance which may seem very strange, but is, nevertheless,
perfectly true.  As soon as we brought up, Waller went on shore,
intending to report all that had occurred to the British Consul, and to
get his assistance in carrying out his intentions.  I was in the
meantime left in charge on board.  Waller had been gone a couple of
hours, and I was looking anxiously for his return, hoping that he would
bring some provisions and water, when, as I was walking the deck, I
observed three boats pulling off towards us.  As they came near, I saw
that one of them contained several men in uniform.  They stepped on
board without ceremony; and one of them presented a paper, in
Portuguese, which looked like an official document, though, of course, I
could not make it out.  I shook my head to signify this, when he
commenced explaining in broken English that he and his party were sent
by the Governor to convey the negroes on shore, that the vessel might be
the more speedily hove-down to be repaired.  I was somewhat surprised
that Waller had not first returned; but it never occurred to me to
suspect a fraud in the matter.

While the Portuguese were speaking, three more boats came alongside, and
in a very few minutes all the blacks were transferred from the schooner
into them.  Without an instant's delay, the boats left the schooner's
sides; but instead of making towards the town, they pulled away to a
spot some distance from it, where the negroes were landed, and I lost
sight of them.  About an hour after this, Waller returned.

"I have settled with the Consul, who will have a large store, where our
poor blackies can be housed comfortably while the schooner is repaired;
but he says we must keep a strict watch over them, for the people here
are such determined slave-dealers, that they will kidnap them before our
eyes."

My heart sunk as I heard these words, and I felt like a culprit.

"Why," I exclaimed, "the Governor has sent and had them all conveyed on
shore."

Waller could scarcely believe his senses when he found all the negroes
gone.  He hurried back to the Consul, who went with him to the Governor.
The Governor knew nothing whatever of the matter, nor did any of the
officials of the town.  The Consul and some of the British in the place
made every inquiry in their power, but no information whatever could
they obtain.  There could, however, be no doubt that some slave-dealers
had carried out the nefarious plot, while, by the employment of bribes,
they easily contrived to escape detection.  Waller felt the matter very
severely.  To have the poor negroes, in whom he took so great an
interest, carried into slavery, after all the toil and danger he had
gone through, was almost heartbreaking.  For long afterwards he could
scarcely bear to speak on the subject.

It was not without difficulty that we got the schooner repaired; but at
last she was ready for sea, and without further delay we made sail for
Sierra Leone.  We had a very fine run across.  Within a day's sail of
the coast, we fell in with a slaver, which, supposing us to be of the
same kidney as herself, allowed us to ran alongside; so that, without
the slightest opposition, we took possession of her.  Although she had
no slaves on board, she was in every respect fitted to carry them.  She
had but a small crew, it being evidently intended to take more men on
board when the slaves were shipped.  Waller thought it best to remove
them into the _Zerlina_, while he sent me and three hands, with Jack
Stretcher as my first-lieutenant, to navigate the prize into port.  As
may be supposed, I felt very proud of my new command, and pictured to
myself the satisfaction I should have in reporting my arrival at Sierra
Leone.



CHAPTER TWENTY TWO.

MY NEW COMMAND--A HEAVY SQUALL AND CAPSIZE--SAVED ON THE BOTTOM OF THE
SCHOONER--TAKEN OFF BY A SLAVER--CHASED BY THE OPOSSUM--THE SPANIARD'S
THREAT--A HURRICANE--SHIPWRECK--MY FRIENDS THE MARLOWS--CONCLUSION.

There is a common saying that "there's many a slip between the cup and
the lip."  I experienced the truth of it on the present occasion.
Scarcely had I got on board my new command, when one of the thick fogs I
have before described came on.  The _Zerlina_ was leading, and being by
far the faster vessel of the two, was already a mile ahead of us.
However, I was pressing on all sail to keep up with her, while Waller
shortened sail to enable me to effect this object.  The fog grew thicker
and thicker, and at last night came on, and we lost sight of our
consort.  The fog lasted two days.  When at length it partially cleared,
we saw a sail hull down to the southward; but not another speck was
visible in the whole circle of the horizon.

"We must pack on her, and try and overtake Mr Waller," said I to Jack
Stretcher.  "He will heave-to for us, probably, when he finds we are so
far astern."

Pack on her we did, in truth.  If Jack had a fault as a seaman, it was a
too great fondness for carrying on to the last.  We neither of us took
warning from our misfortune in the _Opossum_.  The faster the little
schooner ran through the water, the greater was our satisfaction.

"If we continue to make as good way as we do at present, we shall soon
overtake the _Zerlina_," said I to Jack.

"She's got a clean pair of heels of her own, I'll allow; but we have
taught our little craft to go along too," he answered, looking up with
no small amount of pride at our well-set canvas.

A true sailor has a pride in the good behaviour of any craft he happens
to be on board.  Thus a couple of hours passed, and we certainly were
gaining on our consort.  I own that I had not been keeping that look-out
to mark any change in the weather which I ought to have done.  In a
tropical climate, especially, a seaman cannot be too careful--the
changes are so very sudden.  I had gone below to dinner, that meal
consisting of some cold salt beef and hard biscuit, washed down with
rum-and-water drunk out of a tin cup.  I had been off the deck rather
more than half an hour, and was just putting my head up the
companion-hatch, when I heard Jack Stretcher sing out, "Let go the
fore-sheet!--down with the helm!--down with the--"

Before he could finish the sentence, there came the rushing sound of a
heavy squall.  Down bent the schooner to its fury--over, over she went.
To spring on deck and to clamber up to the weather-bulwarks was the work
of a moment.  Still the vessel rose not: the helm had lost its power;
the sheets remained fast; her sails reached the water.

"She's gone!--she's gone!" shouted my crew.

I still had a faint hope she might right herself again; but when she
made the attempt, the furious wind beat her back, the sea washed over
her sails, and in another moment she turned completely over.  I can
scarcely describe my sensations.  I had no time, I fancy, to experience
any; at all events, I do not remember what they were.  I never lost
hope; for, bad as things were, I did not expect to be drowned.  In the
meantime I had clambered to the outside of the bulwarks.

"Give me your hand here, sir!"  I heard Jack Stretcher sing out, and
looking up, I saw that he was hanging on to the main-chains.  With his
assistance, as the vessel went over, I managed to climb up on her keel,
and there we together sat for the moment in comparative security.  Like
a true sailor, he had caught hold of a rope, and brought the end up with
him.  Our first thought was to look out for our shipmates.  One had,
unhappily, been below; the other two had been washed off the deck.  They
were, however, supporting themselves in the water, at no great distance
from the vessel.  When they saw us they shouted to us to help them, for
neither of them were good swimmers.

"Keep up, my lads!" cried Jack, in return.  "Get a little nearer, and
I'll lend you a hand."

Meantime he was hauling in on the rope, and coiling it up ready to heave
to them.

Just then I saw something dark moving under the water close astern of
the vessel.  Jack saw it also, as I guessed by the glance of his eye.

"What's that!"  I asked, a thrilling sensation of horror creeping over
me, for I knew too well.

"One of those sea-devils--a shark, sir," he answered, in a low tone.
Then he shouted out, "Strike away, my lads!--strike away! you'll soon be
within reach.  Never say die!  Strike away!  Hurra!"

Inspirited by these words of encouragement, one of the men at length got
within reach of the rope.  Jack hove it to him.  He made a spring and
grasped the end, and without difficulty we hauled him up, he little
suspecting the terrific danger he had for the present escaped.  The
strength of the other poor fellow was evidently fast failing.  The
dreaded monster of the deep was not far from him.  Still, happily, he
did not know of its presence, and the exertions he made kept it at a
distance.

"I'm afraid poor Sandy will never reach us, sir," said Jack, looking at
him compassionately.  "Just do you, sir, and Jim Dore, lay hold of the
end of the rope, and I'll try and carry it out to him.  There isn't much
fear of Jack Shark as long as one keeps moving; and I see a bit of a
stick down there, which I'll catch hold of, and give him such a rap on
the nose if he attempts to meddle with me, that he'll remember it for
many a day to come."

He said this as he was coiling up the rope again.  I could not dissuade
him from his gallant resolve, and yet so dreadful seemed the risk of his
being destroyed by the shark, that I almost wished he had not thought of
it.

Jim and I caught hold of the other end of the rope, and seizing it
without another word, he plunged into the sea, encouraging Sandy to
perseverance with his loud shouts.  He first grasped the piece of wood
he had seen, and with it in his hand he swam towards Sandy, every now
and then stopping to strike the water vehemently with it.  Although the
foam was flying over the tops of the waves all the time, and the sea was
washing up the sides and almost sweeping as off from where we sat, under
the lee of the vessel it was comparatively calm.  Anxiously indeed did I
watch my brave shipmate's proceeding.  Every moment I expected to see
the shark make a dash at him, but his splashings and kickings kept the
monster at bay.  He was almost up to poor McTavish, when the latter
threw up his arms and disappeared from our sight.  Jack was after him,
though; and, diving down, in another instant appeared holding him by the
hair.  Throwing the bight of the rope under his arms, he sang out to us
to haul away on it.  We did so, while he supported the man with one
hand, and kept slashing the water with the stick which he held in the
other.

Meantime I saw the fin of the shark as the monster kept swimming about
in his neighbourhood, eager evidently to make a dash at him, yet afraid
of approaching.  At length we got the almost drowned man up to the side
of the vessel, and were hauling him up, Jack still being in the water,
when some feeling, I scarcely know what, prompted me to look in the
direction where I had just before seen the shark.  The monster was no
longer there.  I instantly cried out to Jack.  The words were scarcely
out of my mouth, when he made a spring and scrambled out of the water by
the main-chain-plates.  Then, turning round, he dealt a tremendous blow
at the tail of the shark, who had closely followed him.

"I'll teach you to play such a sneaking trick as that, my boy!" he
shouted, as the greedy fish swam off discomfited.

I breathed more freely when brave Jack was once more seated alongside of
me on the keel of the vessel Sandy McTavish, whose life he had thus so
gallantly preserved, now came to his senses, and in a short time was
sufficiently recovered to take care of himself.  Our position, however,
was far from enviable.  Here were we, four human beings, seated on the
keel of a vessel which might any moment go down, with neither land nor a
sail in sight.  For some time, after all our exertions, we sat silent,
collecting our thoughts.

"Well, Jack," said I, "what are we to do?"

"Wait patiently, till God sends us help, sir," he replied.  "We can't
help ourselves.  It's fortunate we've just had our dinners.  We shall
hold out the longer."

We scarcely exchanged another word for some hours, but kept wistfully
glancing our eyes round the horizon, in the hopes of a sail appearing.
Shortly before darkness came on, and the hour of ten passed by, I began
to feel rather hungry.  At the same time I happened to put my hand into
my pocket, and there I found the greater part of a ship's biscuit,
which, as I was quitting the cabin, I had mechanically thrust into it.
I almost shouted for joy as I found the prize--though it was not much to
be divided among four men.  The discovery made the rest fumble in their
pockets.  McTavish had a tobacco-box, which he had only just filled, and
Jack found a huge lump of grease, which, though not very savoury, was
not to be despised.  How it had come there he could not recollect.
These treasures, however, we determined not to begin to consume till the
following morning, for that night we had no hopes of being taken off the
wreck.  The squall had rapidly passed off, and the ocean was now as calm
as before.  The sky was clear, and the sun went down in a blaze of
glory, shedding a bright ruddy hue over the wide expanse which
surrounded us.  Night came on, and the stars burst forth from the blue
vault of heaven, and cast their reflection on the smooth, mirror-like
water, as we sat on, hour after hour, afraid of going to sleep, lest we
should slip from our hold, yet longing for repose.  At last it occurred
to me to have the rope passed from one to the other, and secured round
our waists, so that if one fell asleep and began to slip, the rest might
support him.  Thus we got through the longest night I had ever then
passed.

The grey dawn came at length, and as the light rapidly increased, we
looked anxiously around the horizon, but nothing but the smooth glassy
sea met our sight.  Oh, then, well do I remember it!  There came over me
a deep sense of our utter helplessness, and of the palpable necessity of
dependence on a higher power.  Of what use was our strength?  Of what
use was our seamanship?  Our strength without food would quickly leave
us; while all we could do was to sit still.  I spoke my thoughts to my
companions.  They listened attentively, and we all knelt down together
on our unstable support, and prayed to God for preservation from our
great peril.  After this act we felt refreshed and encouraged; and I
observed that the voices of my companions assumed a more cheerful tone
than before.  Our trials, however, were but commencing.  As the sun rose
in the sky, his beams struck down on our undefended heads and scorched
us dreadfully, till Jack bethought him of fastening his handkerchief
over the top of his, and we followed his example.  Instead of breakfast,
we each of us took a quid from Sandy's box, and that had the effect of
staying our appetites for some hours.  This, however, did not satisfy
our stomachs entirely, and a short time after noon we could no longer
resist attacking our scanty store of provisions.  My biscuit I broke in
two, and returning one-half to my pocket, I divided the other into four
parts, Jack treating his lump of grease in the same way.  We ate it with
a relish I can scarcely describe.  It was the only food we consumed for
the whole of the day.  Again the sun went down without a sail having
appeared.  That night passed away as had the former one, though each of
us got rather more sleep.  The next morning there was the same dull
calm.  Noon came, and with a heavy heart I served out the remainder of
our provisions, but none of us seemed to care much for food.  Water was
what we craved for.  A thimbleful to moisten our tongues would have been
worth its bulk in gold.  A raging thirst was growing on us.  I urged the
men to abstain from drinking salt water, for I well knew that if they
did, it would only increase their sufferings.  Earnestly did I pray that
we might not have to endure another night on the wreck, for I thought
that we could never exist through it; but the night came, and we passed
it, how, I scarcely know, for, though not asleep, I was certainly not
fully awake, except to a sense of some overpowering misfortune.  The day
came, a day which we must pass without food or water.  Our sufferings
hitherto had not been great, but this morning they became very intense.
Hope, which had till now never deserted us, began to grow faint, and
alas! even trust in God's providence to wane.  I tried to pray, but my
thoughts were confused.  I could not for two consecutive minutes fix
them on the same subject, and I experienced practically the folly of
attempting to wait for a death-bed repentance, for sickness, or for such
a moment as the present, for reconciliation with God.  I speak of my own
feelings, and I believe that they were not far different from those of
my men.  Hour after hour we sat gazing stupidly at each other.  The hot
sun rose and scorched us as before, while the bright glare his rays cast
on the smooth ocean almost blinded our eyes.  Several times I tried to
rouse myself to talk to my men, and to encourage them; but I own that I
failed miserably in the attempt, and, from weakness, I was scarcely able
to refrain from giving way to a flood of tears.  It was some time past
noon, when I saw Jack's countenance brighten up.

"What is it?"  I asked.

He pointed eagerly to the southward.  I turned round, and looked, and
there I saw in the horizon a long, thin, well-defined, dark blue line,
and in the centre of it a white speck.

"A breeze! a breeze!"  I cried.

"Ay, and a sail, too," added Jack.  "She is standing this way.  Huzza!
my lads."

Jim and Sandy cheered faintly.  They were the first words they had
uttered for some hours.  We now all found our tongues, a fillip had been
given to our spirits, and we thought scarcely of our hunger or thirst.
The dark blue line advanced, and grew wider and wider, till it spread
itself over the ocean; and the white speck grew higher and higher, till
the topsails of a vessel were seen rising out of the water.  Oh! with
what intense anxiety did we watch her, fearing every moment to see her
alter her course, or pass by without noticing us.

"Can she be the _Zerlina_?" said I to Jack.  "I think when Mr Waller
found that we were not following him, he would have put back to look for
us."

"No, sir; she has too wide a spread of canvas, to my mind, for the
_Zerlina_," answered Jack.  "I'm doubtful what she is."

"Maybe she's the _Opossum_ hersel'," remarked Sandy.  "I ken she ought
to be found hereabouts."

"No, no, my boy; that craft is a square-rigged schooner, and a big one
too," said Jack, positively.

Less than an hour showed us he was right, and a long, low, black,
rakish-looking schooner, with a wide spread of canvas, everything set
alow and aloft, to catch the breeze, came sweeping past us.

"She's a slaver," I exclaimed, with dismay.

"Ay, and has as wicked a look as I ever wish to see," said Jack.

He was right in his description, and as she glided by us, a villainous
set of ruffians of every shade of colour, of every variety of costume,
appeared looking at us over her bulwarks.  Still, ruffians as they might
be, it appeared better to be taken off by them than to remain and perish
where we were.  We waved to them to come to us, and Jack and Jim Dore
sung out, "_Misericordia_! _misericordia_!"

They appeared, however, to take no notice, either of our signs or our
cries, and our hearts sank within us.  Happy would it have been for us
had they left us where we were (so it seemed a short time afterwards).
However, directly they had passed us, their studding-sails were taken
in, the yards braced up, and in fine seamanlike style the schooner was
rounded-to, close to leeward of us.  A boat was instantly lowered, and
pulled up alongside the wreck.  Her crew did not improve in appearance
on a nearer inspection.  As they made signs to us to get into the boat,
we slid off the bottom of the schooner, when they hauled us in, and
placed us in the stern-sheets.

While they were pulling on board their own vessel I saw them eyeing my
uniform with suspicious glances, and they made remarks which I did not
understand.  Our condition was sad enough to excite the compassion of
anything human.  When we were lifted on deck we could scarcely stand,
and even Jack, with drooping head, had to support himself against the
bulwarks, and little would any of those who saw him have supposed the
gallant deeds of which his brawny arm was capable.  Our lack-lustre eyes
and parched lips showed what we most needed, and at last some of the
crew brought us some water in a bowl, which speedily revived us, while
others came with a mixture of soup and beans.  I never ate anything I
thought so delicious, in spite of its being redolent of garlic, and
containing no small quantity of grease.  While we were being fed, the
boat was hoisted in, the schooner put before the wind, and the
studding-sails again set.  She was a powerful vessel, and, from several
unmistakeable signs, I perceived that she was full of slaves.  I had
done eating, and was beginning to look about me, when a little, dark,
one-eyed man, who by his dress I saw was an officer, came up to me, and
taking me by one of my uniform buttons, asked--

"What for this?"

"It's the button of my coat," said I, in a simple tone.

"I know.  You officer, then?" asked my friend.  "English ship?"

"I have that honour," I replied.

"What ship, then?" he inquired.

I told him.

"How came you, then, there?" he asked, pointing to the wreck, which we
were fast leaving astern.

I told him the truth.

"What say you, then, if we cut your throats, and heave you overboard?"
he asked; and as I looked at the twinkle of his one eye, and the
expression of his lips, I thought that he was capable of any act of
atrocity; but I determined to put a good face on the matter.

"I do not see why you should murder us," I replied, calmly.  "We neither
wish to harm you, nor can we; and as you have just preserved our lives,
it would be something like destroying your own work."

"We will see about that," he remarked.  "You might find us sometimes in
a humour when there would not be much doubt about the matter.  Your men
are safe enough, as they will doubtless join us, and three stout hands
will be welcome.  You may think yourself fortunate, if you ever set foot
ashore alive."

I saw Jack, who was listening, put his tongue in his cheek, as much as
to say, "Do not reckon on my joining your villainous crew."  I had
remarked that the captain of the slaver, for such I guessed the little
man to be, improved in his way of speaking English as he proceeded, and
I therefore warned Jack and the others to be careful what they said,
lest they should offend him.  After this conversation we were left
alone, and sitting down on deck, I was very soon fast asleep.  I was
awoke by a man bringing me a mess of some sort to eat, and when I had
devoured it I should have fallen asleep again, but the captain came up
and told me that I might turn into a spare cabin on deck.  Taking off my
clothes, I threw myself on the bed, and slept without moving till the
grey light of dawn came in at the scuttle.  I was awoke by a loud
jabbering and swearing, and presently the sound of a gun came booming
over the water.  There was then the noise of blocks creaking and ropes
rattling, denoting that more sail was being made on the vessel.  I
dressed quickly and opened the door of my cabin, but scarcely had I
stepped out on deck when my shoulder was roughly seized by the captain
of the slaver, while with his other hand he pointed to a large brig
about three miles off, under all sail, standing directly for our
larboard quarter.

"What craft is that?" he asked, fiercely.  "Your men say they do not
know her.  Do you?"

I looked again.  I had no doubt she was the _Opossum_.  "If I am not
mistaken, she is the ship to which I belong," I replied, calmly.

"Is she fast?" he asked.

"She is reputed so," I answered.  "But I doubt it she is so fast as this
vessel."

"For your sakes, as well as for ours, it is to be hoped not," he
observed, with a grin which I thought perfectly demoniacal.  "If she
overhauls us, we shall be obliged to put into execution a trick we play
at times, when too hotly pursued by your cruisers; only, instead of
expending our negroes, who are valuable, we shall be compelled to make
use of you and your people.  It will be happy for you, if there are no
sharks ready to grab you before your ship lowers a boat to pick you up.
You understand me?"

I did, too well.  The slavers, when hotly pressed by a cruiser, will
throw overboard some of their blacks, one by one, lashed to something to
float them, trusting that the humanity of the British commander will
induce him to heave-to, and to pick them up, although thus delaying him
in his chase.

I felt very sure my one-eyed friend would put his threat into execution;
and though it certainly afforded us a way of getting back to our ship,
the risk in the interim of being caught by a shark was far too great to
be contemplated with equanimity.

"If you do throw us overboard, I only hope that you will provide us with
sticks, or some weapons with which to defend ourselves against the
sharks," said I.

"You are a brave boy," said he, "and deserve a better fate; but it
cannot be helped."

There was a fine breeze, but nothing more; and by the time the
schooner's sails were trimmed, as I looked over the side I saw that she
was making good way through the water.  I doubted whether the _Opossum_
could go faster; and I saw, at all events, that, like other stern
chases, this would be a long one.  It very probably would last two or
three days, perhaps longer.  I scarcely knew what to wish.  Were it not
for those dreadful sea monsters, we all of us might be able to get on
board the brig, and help to capture the schooner afterwards, I thought
to myself.  We were allowed perfect liberty to walk about the decks as
we liked; so I went up to Jack, and asked him what he thought about the
probability of the brig overtaking us.

"Why, sir," he replied, after contemplating her, and looking over the
schooner's side for some time, "this craft has got as clean a pair of
heels as any vessel I was ever aboard; and though our brig, I'll allow,
is no laggard, I doubt if she'll overtake her, if the wind holds steady,
before we reach the West Indies, where, I take it, we are bound."

Jack was right, with regard to the relative speed of the two vessels, at
all events.  As I kept my eye on the brig, I could not but acknowledge
that we were slowly but surely increasing our distance from her.  This
put the captain in good humour.

"Ah! my young friend," he said, tapping me on the shoulder, "you have
escaped the sharks this time, I believe."  At night I turned in and went
to sleep, for I had not yet recovered from my want of rest and unusual
anxiety.  The next morning, there, however, was the brig, right astern
of us, though we had much increased our distance from her.  When I
appeared, the captain gave me no friendly look; and it was only towards
the evening, when we had brought her topsails beneath the horizon, that
his good humour was re-established.  Another night passed, and the brig
was out of sight.  I thought it more than probable, however, that
Captain Idle was still following, in the hopes of finding us becalmed,
or in some other way falling in with us.  I cannot stop to describe the
scenes of gambling and fighting continually going on among the
schooner's lawless crew, though their outbreaks of fury were generally
repressed, before arriving at extremities, by the energy of the little
captain.  We got on tolerably well with them.  Jack danced his hornpipe,
I sang, and the other two men made themselves generally useful.  I,
therefore, no longer had any great fears about our present safety.

A dreadful doom was, however, prepared for most on board.  One night I
was awoke by a terrific noise, and, rushing on deck, I found that one of
those fierce hurricanes which occur at times in the tropics had just
commenced.  Amid a mass of spoondrift the schooner drove helplessly
before it.  The night was dark as pitch, except when vivid flashes of
forked lightning darted from the clouds and shed a bright blue glare on
our decks, exhibiting a scene of horror and confusion seldom surpassed.
The seamen ran to and fro shrieking with terror, calling on their saints
to help them, and vowing candles and other offerings at their shrines,
the fiercest and most quarrelsome generally showing the most abject
fear.  The little captain, to do him justice, kept his presence of mind,
and endeavoured to restore order, but he had lost all control over his
crew.  Jack found his way aft to where I was standing, and I was truly
glad to have him near me.

"It's to be hoped there's no land under our lee, or it will fare ill
with us," said he.  "But I'm not quite certain.  Just now, when there
was a bright flash of lightning, I thought I saw something very like it
right ahead of us.  We must be ready for the worst, I'm thinking, Mr
D'Arcy."

I felt this to be the case, and prayed earnestly to God to stretch forth
His hand to save us.  Scarcely a minute had elapsed after Jack had
spoken, when the tempest, thundering down on the accursed slave ship
more violently than before, the lightning flashing more vividly, a
terrific shock was felt, which made her tremble as if about to part
asunder; the tall masts bent like willow wands, and fell with a crash
into the sea; and the voracious waves came curling up, foam-crested,
astern, and sweeping everything before them.  The howling of the fierce
hurricane overpowered the agonised shrieks of the drowning crew, as they
were carried overboard; while from the hold arose the heart-piercing
cries of despair and terror of the helpless negroes who were confined
there, deprived of even a chance of escape.  Our two shipmates had found
their way aft, to where Jack and I were holding on for our lives,
sheltered partly by the raised poop.  Still we drove on.  We had
evidently been forced over a reef, and we hoped that we might reach
smooth water.  The sea no longer broke over us.

"What say you, lads?  Let's try to give those poor fellows down there a
chance for their lives," cried Jack.

All agreed to the proposal.  There were scarcely any Spaniards left to
stop us; and had there been, I do not think they would have ventured to
interfere.  I had observed some axes hung up inside the cabin-door, and
seizing them, we tore off the hatches, and leaped down among the
terror-stricken wretches below.  Sandy had bethought him of securing
some lanterns, for in the dark we could do nothing.  As soon as he had
brought them, and we had got them lighted, Jack singing out,
"_Amigos_!--_amigos_!--have no fear, my hearties!" we set to work with a
right good will, and knocked the fetters off a considerable number of
the unfortunate negroes.  The operation was nearly completed, when we
felt another terrific shock vibrate through the ship.  Again and again
she struck.  We had just time to spring up the main-hatchway, followed
by the howling terrified blacks, when the sides of the ship seemed to
yawn asunder; a foaming wave rushed towards us, and at the same moment a
vivid flash of lightning showed us the shore, not a hundred yards off.

"There's hope yet," I heard Jack exclaim.

There is, after that, a wild confusion in my mind of shrieks and groans;
of foaming, tossing waters; of pieces of plank driven to and fro; of
arms outstretched; of despairing countenances, some pale or livid, some
of ebon hue, lighted up ever and anon by a flash of lightning.  I was
clinging, I found, to a small piece of timber torn from the wreck.  Now
I was driven near the sands; now carried out to sea; tossed about on the
tops of the foaming waves, rolled over and over, and almost drowned with
the spray.  Still I held on convulsively, half conscious only of my
awful position.  It seemed rather like some dreadful dream than a
palpable reality.  How long I had been tossing about in this way, I knew
not.  Daylight had been stealing on even before the final catastrophe
had occurred.  At length I know that I felt myself carried near the
sands, and while I was trying to secure a footing, some black figures
rushed into the water and dragged me on shore.  My preservers were, I
discovered, some of the negroes who had escaped from the wreck.  I was
too much exhausted to stand; so they carried me up out of the reach of
the waves, and laid me on the sands, while they returned once more to
the edge of the water.  Their object was evident.  By the increasing
light I saw several figures clinging to the rocks, against which I
concluded the vessel had struck.  Full twenty negroes were on the beach,
which was strewed with bits of plank and spars, and coils of rope, and
other portions of the wreck.  Presently I saw four or five of them
plunge into the water together, holding the end of a rope.  They struck
out bravely, and though more than once driven back, they still made way,
till they reached the rock, up which they clambered.  The people on the
rock helped them out of the water.  There were several negroes, a few of
whom were women, and three white men.  One of the white men held a black
infant in his arms, and as the light increased, I recognised my friend
Jack Stretcher.  "Just like the gallant fellow!" thought I.  At that
dreadful moment, when most people would have been thinking only of their
own preservation, he looked out for the most helpless being, that he
might try and save it, even at the risk of his own life.  I hope the
mother of the infant has escaped to thank him; but, at all events, he
will have his reward.  The other two men were my shipmates.  Of the
slaver's crew, not a man had escaped.  After this I remember nothing;
for, from exhaustion, consequent on the blows I had received in the
water, I fainted.  I had a dreamy notion of being lifted up and carried
along some distance, and of the hot sun scorching me; and then of
entering the cool shade of a house, and of hearing a voice which I
fancied I recollected, and thought very sweet, say, "Why, papa, it's
that little officer again.  Poor, poor fellow! how ill and wretched he
looks!"  I tried to open my eyes to look at the speaker, but had no
strength left to lift even my eyelids.  How long I had remained in a
state of unconsciousness I could not tell, though I afterwards found it
was some weeks.  The next time I recollect opening my eyes, they rested
on the features of Miss Alice Marlow, and by her side was a young man in
a lieutenant's uniform while at the foot of my couch stood Jack
Stretcher.  "Where am I?  How's all this?"  I asked, in a faint voice.

"You are in Mr Marlow's house, in the island of Barbadoes," said the
young officer.  "As to the rest, it's a long yarn, and we'll spin it
another time."

"Ah, and now I know you.  You are Waller," replied I.  "Well, old
fellow, I'm glad you've got your promotion."

"But the doctor says we must on no account have any talking; so come
away, Henry; and here, Jack, is the fruit for Mr D'Arcy.  He may eat as
much of it as he likes," said Miss Alice.

I recollect this scene; but I fancy after it I got a relapse, through
which, however, I was mercifully carried, after a tough contest with
death.  Oh! how tenderly and kindly I was nursed; every want was
attended to--every wish gratified, almost before expressed--by an old
black woman, who, day or night, scarcely ever left my bedside.  I quite
loved her good, old, ugly face--for ugly it was, without the possibility
of contradiction, according to all European notions of beauty, though
some of the descendants of Ham, in her own torrid land, might at one
time have thought it lovely.  She was assisted in her labours by a
damsel of the same ebon hue, who had been saved out of the slave ship;
and I believe that the attention of the two women was redoubled on
account of the way I had treated their unhappy countrymen on board that
vessel.  Jack Stretcher had been obliged to rejoin the brig, and had
gone away in her.  I was, however, frequently favoured by a visit from
Miss Alice Marlow and her kind father, in whose house I remained for
many months, treated as if I had been a well-loved son.  At length I was
one morning riding down by the seashore, when the wide-spread canvas of
a man-of-war caught my sight, standing in for the land.  I recognised
her at once as the _Opossum_, and was therefore not surprised when, some
hours afterwards, Waller walked into Mr Marlow's drawing-room.  Captain
Idle and the doctor followed soon afterwards, and a consultation having
been held, I was pronounced fit for duty, and compelled, with many
regrets, to leave my kind friends, and to go on board.  The brig soon
afterwards returned to the coast of Africa, where we took some slavers,
went through various adventures, and lost several officers and men with
fever; and I again fell sick, so that my life was despaired of.  Now,
entertaining as these sort of things may be to read about, no one was
sorry when, one fine morning, another brig-of-war hove in sight,
bringing us orders to return home.  "Hurra for old England!" was the
general cry, fore and aft.  "Hurra! hurra!"

At length I once more found myself an inmate of Daisy Cottage, and many
happy weeks I spent there--perhaps the happiest in my life--in the
society of my uncle and aunt and young cousins.  I there slowly, but
effectually, recovered from the effects of the African climate, and the
hardships I had lately gone through, and was ultimately pronounced as
fit as ever for service.  When Larry Harrigan heard that I was ill, he
came over to Ryde, and could scarcely be persuaded to leave me for a
moment, till assured by the doctor that I was in no danger whatever, but
even he seemed much to doubt the judgment of the learned disciple of
Galen.  Afterwards he allowed very few days to pass without coming to
set me, till I was strong enough to return his visits, which I did not
fail to do.  The good, kind old man!  He never went back to Ireland, but
lived on at Southsea, in perfect comfort, till he and his wife reached a
green old age.  He used to tell me, confidentially, that there was an
honest navy agent, who had found him out, and insisted on paying him a
wonderful interest for a certain share of prize-money, which he had
fortunately neglected to claim in his younger days.  It was, in truth, a
way I took of contributing to maintain the old man in comfort, without
his feeling that he was a pensioner on my bounty.

Some time after I had been at home, I heard from my gallant friend
Waller, who had gone back to Barbadoes.  He gave me a piece of
information, at which I own I was not very much surprised, namely, that
he was on the point of bringing Miss Alice Marlow to England as his
bride.  "I hope that she will prove worthy of him, for a finer fellow
does not exist," said I.

A short time before I left Daisy Cottage to join my next ship, I was
sitting in the drawing-room, when Sir Richard Sharpe was announced, and
in walked Dicky himself.  We almost wrung each other's hands off before
we could speak, and then we did indeed rattle away.  His father was
dead, he told me.

"I have been compelled to deprive the navy of my services," said he,
with perfect gravity.  "But you see that I have my estates to look
after, and my mother and sisters' welfare to attend to; and I could not
fulfil my duties in these respects were I to remain afloat.  Do you
know, D'Arcy, I am very glad indeed that I went to sea," he continued,
more seriously.  "It made me think much less of myself, and cured me of
many faults; for I am very sure that I should have been spoiled had I
remained at home.  They always let me have too much of my own way, and
that is bad for the best of us.  Now in the service I got cobbed and
mast-headed, and made to do what I was told; and I'm all the better for
the discipline, though I did not like it at the time.  Then I learned a
very important lesson,--that every man, whatever his position, has his
duties to perform; and that, if he does not do them to the best of his
power, he must certainly expect to be disrated."

"You mean to say that you learned this out of the man-of-war's
Homily-book,--the Station Bill," said I, smiling at my own conceit.

I must explain that this Station Bill is a book in which is entered the
place which every man on board is to occupy, as well as the duties he is
especially to attend to, though at the same time he is expected to do
his very utmost in performing any other work which may be necessary.

"That's just it," replied Sir Richard.  "I used to think that the
captain of a man-of-war had a good deal to do to keep his ship in good
order; but I can tell you that I feel that the owner of a large estate
has many more and multifarious duties; and that in a great degree every
soul upon it is committed by God to his care, and at his hands will they
be required."

I fully agreed with my old messmate in these matters, and was rejoiced
to find that he had really discovered the true object of life.  I am
happy to say that he was after this a very frequent visitor at Daisy
Cottage, and that ultimately one of my cousins became Lady Sharpe.
They, the Vernons and the Wallers, are among my most valued friends; and
at the houses also of Admiral Poynder and Captain Idle, and most of my
subsequent commanders, I am a welcome guest.

I must not forget to mention, once more, my gallant companion in so many
adventures, honest Jack Stretcher.  He volunteered into the next ship to
which I was appointed, to my very great satisfaction; and afterwards
taking out his warrant as a boatswain, he was with me for several years,
and a better boatswain there is not in the service.  I have never
revisited my ancestral halls since I left them with Larry to go to sea;
and, to say the truth, the Encumbered Estates Court knows more about
them than I do.  The ocean is my only heritage; my ship is my wife, and
I look on my crew as my children.  I went to sea again as a midshipman;
then, after passing, I spent four years as a mate, and six as a
lieutenant; during which time I saw a good deal of hard service.  At
length I got my promotion as a commander, and have still to look for my
post step.

Every career has its trials.  A naval life has many; but we must always
bear in mind that we were sent into this world for the express purpose
of undergoing them, and that while some persons are proved by hardships
and poverty, others are so by abundance of ease and wealth.  I, for my
own part, feel that I have much for which to be grateful; and though I
have neither rank nor riches, I do not consider myself unfortunate nor
ill-treated.  And once more I say, that, had I to begin my career again,
I should prefer to every other a life on Salt Water.

THE END.





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