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´╗┐Title: Will Weatherhelm - The Yarn of an Old Sailor
Author: Kingston, William Henry Giles, 1814-1880
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Will Weatherhelm - The Yarn of an Old Sailor" ***

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



Will Weatherhelm, The Yarn of an Old Sailor, by W.H.G. Kingston.

________________________________________________________________________

This is quite a long book, estimated to take sixteen hours forty minutes
to read.  It was also quite difficult to transcribe, since the type was
probably a bit old.  Certainly it was a rather small typeface, and was
broken up in places.  Nevertheless we think we have got the text to
better than the prescribed 99.95% accurate, with an expected error rate
of less than eighty words in the 164,896 of the text.

The action takes place at the end of the eighteenth century, and ends at
the Battle of Trafalgar.  Will's family originate from Shetland, a group
of islands to the north of mainland Britain.  Kingston mistakenly
believes that they speak Erse on Shetland, which is not the case: Erse
is spoken in Ireland, being similar to the Gaelic spoken in parts of
Scotland.

The story moves along well, and is well-written. The most outstanding
part of the story is the number of times the hero is in a ship-wreck of
one kind or another, so much so that it is muttered that he must be some
kind of Jonah--an opportunity used by the author to put the religious
view of such a string of coincidences.

I think you'll enjoy the book.  I know I have enjoyed transcribing it
for you.

________________________________________________________________________

WILL WEATHERHELM, THE YARN OF AN OLD SAILOR, BY W.H.G. KINGSTON.



CHAPTER ONE.

MY FATHER'S LAND--BORN AT SEA--MY SCHOOL LIFE--AUNT BRETTA--SPOILT BY
OVER-INDULGENCE--ENTICED TO SEA--THE KITE SCHOONER--CONTRAST OF A VESSEL
IN PORT WITH A VESSEL AT SEA--MY SHIPMATES--MY NAME FIXED IN MORE WAYS
THAN ONE--A GALE--REPENTANCE COMES TOO LATE--SUSPICIOUS CUSTOMERS--A
NARROW ESCAPE--NAPLES AND ITS BAY.

My father, Eric Wetherholm, was a Shetlander.  He was born in the Isle
of Unst, the most northern of those far-off islands, the Shetlands.  He
loved his native land, though it might be said to be somewhat backward
in point of civilisation; though no trees are to be found in it much
larger than gooseberry bushes, or cattle bigger than sheep; though its
climate is moist and windy, and its winter days but of a few hours'
duration.  But, in spite of these drawbacks, it possesses many points to
love, many to remember.  Wild and romantic, and, in some places, grand
scenery, lofty and rocky precipices, sunny downs and steep hills, deep
coves with clear water, in which the sea-trout can be seen swimming in
shoals, and, better still, kind, honest, warm hearts, modest women with
sweet smiles, and true, honest men.

Once only in my youth was I there.  I remember well, on a bright
summer's day, standing on one of the highest of its lofty hills,
sprinkled with thousands of beautiful wild-flowers, and as I looked over
the hundreds of isles and islets of every variety of form, grouping
round the mainland, as the largest island is called, I thought that in
all my wanderings I had never seen a greener or more lovely spot
floating on a surface of brighter blue; truly I felt proud of the region
which my poor father claimed as the place of his birth.  I knew very
little of his early history.  Like the larger proportion of Shetland
men, he followed the sea from his boyhood, and made several voyages, on
board a whaler, to Baffin's Bay.  Once his ship had been nipped by the
ice, whirled helplessly against an iceberg, when he alone with two
companions escaped the destruction which overwhelmed her.  Finally he
returned home, and, sickened of voyages in icy regions, became mate of a
merchantman trading out of the port of Hull round the English coast.  On
one occasion, his brig having received severe damage in a heavy gale,
put into Plymouth harbour to obtain repairs.  He there met an old
shipmate, John Trevelyn, who had given up the sea and settled with his
family on shore.

John had a daughter, Jannet Trevelyn, and a sweet, good girl I am very
certain she must have been.  Before the brig sailed my father obtained
her promise to marry him.  He shortly returned, when she became his
wife, and accompanied him to Shetland.  But the damp, cold climate of
that northern land was a sore trial to her constitution, accustomed, as
she had been, to the soft air of her native Devonshire, and she
entreated that he would rather take her with him to sea than leave her
there.  Fortunately, as he considered it, the owners of the brig he had
served in offered him the command of another of their vessels, and he
was able to fulfil the wishes of his wife, as well as to please his own
inclination, though for her sake he would rather have left her in safety
on shore, for he too well knew all the dangers and hardships of the sea
to desire to expose her to them.

My father had very few surviving relatives.  His mother and sister were
the only two of whom I know.  His father and two brothers had been lost
in the Greenland fishery, and several of his uncles and cousins had been
scattered about in different parts of the world, never to return to
their native islands.  When, therefore, he found that Shetland would not
suit my mother's health, he tried to persuade my grandmother and Aunt
Bretta to accompany him to Devonshire.  After many doubts and misgivings
as to how they could possibly live in that warm country far away to the
south among a strange people, who could not understand a word of Erse,
they at length, for love of him and his young wife, agreed to do as he
wished.  As soon as he was able he fetched them from Shetland to Hull,
whence he conveyed them to Plymouth in his own vessel, and left them
very comfortably settled in a little house of their own in the outskirts
of the town.  Though small, it was neat and pleasant, and they soon got
accustomed to the change, though they complained at first that the days
in summer were very short compared to those in their own country.  This
was the year before I was born.  My mother, though she had now a home
where she could have remained, was so reconciled to a sea life, and so
fond, I may say, of my father, that she preferred living on board his
vessel to the enjoyment of all the comforts of the shore.  On one
memorable occasion, a new brig he commanded, called the _Jannet
Trevelyn_, in compliment to my mother, was bound round from Hull to Cork
harbour in Ireland, and was to have put into Plymouth to land her,
seeing that she was not in a fit state to continue the voyage, when a
heavy south-westerly gale came on, and the brig was driven up channel
again off the Isle of Wight.  During its continuance, while the brig was
pitching, bows under, with close-reefed topsails only on her, with a
heavy sea running, the sky as black as pitch, the ocean a mass of foam,
and with the wind howling and whistling as if eager to carry the masts
out of her, I was born.  My poor mother had a heavy time of it, and it
was a mercy she did not die.  But oftentimes delicate, fragile-looking
women go through far more than apparently strong and robust persons.
She had a fine spirit and patient temper, and what is more, she put a
firm trust in One who is all-powerful to save those who have faith in
him, both for this life and for eternity.

The brig was hove-to, and though more than once she narrowly escaped
being run down by ships coming up Channel, she finally reached Plymouth,
and my mother and I were landed in safety.  Thus I may say that I have
been at sea from my earliest days.  Old Mrs Wetherholm was delighted to
receive my poor mother and me, and took the very fondest care of us, as
did Aunt Bretta, while my father proceeded on his voyage.

Soon after this I was christened under a name which may sound somewhat
fine to southern ears, Willand Wetherholm; but, as will be seen, I did
not very long retain it.

My mother had another trial soon after this.  My grandfather, John
Trevelyn, who had for some time been ailing, died and left her without
any relations that I ever heard of on his or her mother's side of the
house.  Thus she became more than ever dependent on my father and his
mother and sister.  She had no cause to regret this, however, for
kinder, gentler-hearted people never existed.

Two years more passed away, and I throve and grew strong and fat, and
what between grandmother, and mother, and aunt, ran a great chance of
being spoilt.  My father had been so frightened about my mother before,
that he would never take her to sea again; but he often said that he
would endeavour, when he had laid by a little more money, to give it up
himself and to come and live with her on shore.  It is a dream of
happiness in which many a poor sailor indulges, but how few are able to
realise!  He was expected round at Plymouth, on his way to the
Mediterranean, but day after day passed and he did not arrive.  My
mother began to grow very anxious, so did my grandmother and aunt.  A
terrific gale had been blowing for some days, when the Eddystone was
nearly washed away, and fearful damage was done to shipping in various
parts.

At length the news reached them that the brig had put into Salcombe
range.  It is a wild-looking yet land-locked harbour on the Devonshire
coast.  Black rocks rise sheer up out of the water on either side of the
entrance, and give it a particularly melancholy and unattractive
appearance.  One of the owners had come round in the brig, but he had
landed and taken a post-chaise back towards London.  In the morning the
brig sailed, and by noon the gale was blowing with its fiercest
violence.  In vain my poor mother watched and waited for his return;
from that time to the present neither my father nor any of his crew were
again heard of.  The brig with all hands must have foundered, or, as
likely as not, been run down at no great distance from Plymouth itself.
My mother, who had borne so bravely and uncomplainingly her own personal
sufferings, sunk slowly but surely under this dispensation of
Providence.  She never found fault with the decrees of the Almighty, but
the colour fled from her cheeks, her figure grew thinner and thinner.
Scarce a smile lighted up her countenance, even when she fondly played
with me.  Her complaint was incurable, it was that of a broken heart,
and I was left an orphan.

Most of my father's property had gone to purchase a share in the brig,
which had been most fatally uninsured, and thus an income remained
barely sufficient for the support of my grandmother and aunt.  They,
poor things, took in work, and laboured hard, night and day, that they
might supply me with the food and clothing they considered I required,
and, when I grew older, to afford me such an education as they deemed
suitable to the son of one holding the position my father had in life
Aunt Bretta taught me to read pretty well, and to write a little, and I
was then sent to a day-school to pick up some knowledge of arithmetic
and geography.  Small enough was the amount I gained of either, and
whether it was owing to my teacher's bad system or to my own stupidity,
I don't know, but I do know that I very quickly lost all I gained, and
by the time I was twelve years old I was a strong, stout lad, with a
large appetite and a very ill-stored head.

Though I had not picked up much information at school, I had some
companions, and they were generally the wildest and least manageable of
all the boys of my age and standing.  The truth was, I am forced to
confess, my grandmother and aunt had spoilt me.  They could not find it
in their hearts to deny me anything, and the consequence was that I
generally got my own way whether it was a good or bad one.  I should
have been altogether ruined had they not set me a good example, and
instilled into my mind the principles of religion.  Often the lessons
they taught me were forgotten, and years passed away, when some
circumstance recalled them to my mind, and they brought forth a portion,
if not all, of the fruits they desired.  Still I grew up a wayward,
headstrong boy.  I heard some friends say that my heart was in its right
place, and that I should never come to much harm, and that satisfied me;
so I did pretty well what I liked without any qualms of conscience or
fears for the consequences.

I am not going to describe any of my youthful pranks, because I suspect
that no good will come from my so doing.  If I did not reap all the evil
consequences I deserved, others might fancy that they may do the same
with like impunity and find themselves terribly mistaken.  One of my
chief associates was a boy of my own age, called Charles Iffley.  His
mother, like mine, was a Devonshire woman, and his father was mate of a
merchantman belonging to the port of Hull, but trading sometimes to
Plymouth, and frequently to ports up the Straits of Gibraltar.  Charley
and I had many tastes in common.  He was a bold dashing fellow, with
plenty of pluck, and what those who disliked him called impudence.  One
thing no one could deny, that he was just the fellow to stand by a
friend at a pinch, and that, blow high or blow low, he was always the
same, merry-hearted, open-handed, and kind.  These qualities, however,
valuable as they are, if not backed by right principle and true
religion, too often in time of temptation have been known miserably to
fail.  On a half-holiday, or whenever we could get away from school,
Charley and I used to steal down to the harbour, and we generally
managed to borrow a boat for a sail, or we induced one of our many
acquaintances among the watermen to take us along with him to help him
pull, so that we soon learned to handle an oar as well as any lads of
our age, as also pretty fairly to sail a boat.  When we returned home
late in an evening, and I went back to supper, my poor old grandmother
would complain bitterly of the anxiety I had caused her; and when I saw
her grief, I used to promise to amend, but I am sorry to say that when
temptation came in my way I forgot my promise and repeated my fault.

At length the schooner to which Charley's father belonged came into
Plymouth harbour.  I went on board with my friend, and he showed me all
over her; I thought her a very fine vessel, and how much I should like
to go to sea in her.  The next day he appeared at our house in great
glee, and told my grandmother and Aunt Bretta that he had come to wish
them good-bye, that his father had bound him apprentice to the owners of
the schooner, and that he was to go to sea in her that very voyage.  I
was sorry to part with him, and I could not help envying him for being
able to start at once to see the world.  When he was gone, I could talk
of nothing else but of what Charley was going to see, and of what he was
going to do; and I never ceased trying to persuade my grandmother and
aunt to let me go and be a sailor also.  Poor things, I little thought
of the grief I was causing them.

"Willand, my dear laddie, ye ken that your father, and your grandfather,
and two uncles were all sailors, and were lost at sea,--indeed, I may
well say that such has been the hard lot of all the males of our line,--
then why should ye wish without reason or necessity to go and do the
same, and break your old grandmother's heart, who loves ye far better
than her own life's blood," said the kind old lady, taking me in her
arms and pressing me to her bosom.  "Be content to stay at home, laddie,
and make her happy."

"Oh, that ye will, Willand dear," chimed in Aunt Bretta; "we'll get a
wee shoppie for ye, and may be ye'll become a great merchant, or we'll
just rent a croft up the country here, and ye shall keep cows, and
sheep, and fowls, and ye shall plough, and sow, and reap, and be happy
as the day is long.  Won't that be the best life for Willand, grannie?
It's what he is just fitted for, and there isn't another like it."

I shook my head.  All these pictures of rural felicity or of mercantile
grandeur had no charms for me.  I had set my heart on being a rover, and
seeing all parts of the world, and I believe that had I been offered a
lucrative post under Government with nothing to do, without a moment's
hesitation I should have rejected it, lest it might have prevented me
from carrying my project into execution.  Still for some time I did not
like to say anything more on the subject, and the kind creatures began
to hope that I had given up my wishes to their remonstrances.  Had they
from the first taught me the important lessons of self-denial and
obedience, they might have found that I was willing to do so; but I had
no idea of sacrificing my own wishes to those of others, and I still
held firmly to my resolution of leaving home on the first opportunity.

I was one day walking down High Street, Plymouth, when I saw advancing
towards me a fine sailor-like looking lad, with a well-bronzed jovial
countenance.

"Why, Will, old boy, you don't seem to know me," he exclaimed,
stretching out his hand, which seemed as hard as iron.

"Why, I scarcely did, Charley, till I heard your voice," I answered,
shaking him warmly by the hand.  "You've grown from a boy almost into a
man.  There's nothing like the life of a sailor for hardening a fellow,
and making him fit for anything.  I see that plainly."

"Then come to sea with me at once," he replied; "I can get you a berth
aboard our schooner, and we'll have a merry life of it altogether, that
we will."

I liked his confident and self-satisfied way of talking; but I said I
was afraid I could not take advantage of his offer, though I would try
and get leave from my grandmother.

"Leave from your grandmother!" he exclaimed with a taunting laugh; "take
French leave from the old lady.  You are far better able to judge what
you like than she is, and she can't expect to tie you to her
apron-strings all your life, can she?"

"No, but she is very kind and good to me, and I'm young yet to leave her
and Aunt Bretta.  Perhaps, when I am older, she will not object to my
going away," I replied.

"Pooh, pooh! feeds you with bread and milk, and lollipops; and as to
being too young--why, you are not much more than a year younger than I
am, and fully as stout, and I should like to know who would venture to
say that I am not fit to go to sea.  I would soon show him which was the
best man of the two."

These remarks, for I will not call them reasons, had a great effect on
me.  I thought Charley the finest fellow I had ever known, and I
promised to be guided by him entirely.  I did not consider how
ungrateful and foolish I was.  How could he really care about me, or
know what was for my best interests?  He only thought of pleasing
himself by getting a companion whom he knew from experience he could
generally induce to do what he liked.  I forgot all the love and
affection, all the tender care I had received from my grandmother and
aunt since my birth, and that I ought on every account to have consulted
their feelings and opinions on the most important step I had hitherto
taken in life.  Instead of this, I made up my mind if they should say
no, as Charley expressed it, to cut my stick and run.  Many have done as
I did, and bitterly repented their folly and ingratitude every day
afterwards to the end of their lives.  It stands to reason that those
who have brought us up and watched over us in helpless infancy or in
sickness, instructed us and fitted us to enter on the active duties of
life, must feel far greater interest in our future welfare than can any
other person.  We, as boys, are deeply interested in a shrub or a tree
we have planted, in a dog we have brought up from a puppy; and we may be
certain that our parents or guardians are far more interested in our
welfare, and therefore I repeat, do not go and follow my example, and
run counter to their advice and wishes.

I spent the afternoon with Charley Iffley on board the _Kite_ schooner,
of which his father was mate.  She was a fine craft, with a handsomely
fitted up cabin.  She had been a privateer in the last war, and still
carried six brass guns on deck, which were bright and polished, and took
my fancy amazingly.  She also had a long mahogany tiller bound with
brass, and with a handsomely carved head of a kite which I much admired.
These things, trifles as they were, made me still more desire to belong
to so dandy-looking a craft.  The captain was on shore, but Mr Iffley,
the mate, did the honours of the vessel, and talked largely of all her
good qualities, and finally told me that for the sake of his son, who
was my best friend, if I had a mind to go to sea, he would make interest
to get me apprenticed to her owners.  I did not exactly understand what
that signified; but I thanked him very much, and said that I left the
matter in his and his son's hands.

"All right, Will, we'll make a sailor of you before long!" exclaimed
Charley, clapping me on the back.

Mr Iffley was not a person, from his appearance, very well calculated
to win the confidence of a young lad.  He was a stout, short man, with
huge, red, carroty whiskers, and a pock-marked face, small ferretty
eyes, a round knob for a nose, and thick lips, which he smacked loudly
both when speaking and after eating and drinking.  However, Charley
seemed to hold him in a good deal of respect and awe, an honour my
friend did not pay to many people.  This I found was owing much to the
liberal allowance of rope-end which the mate dealt out to his son
whenever he neglected his duty, or did anything else to displease him;
but of course Master Charley did not confide this fact to me, but
allowed me to discover it for myself.  In the evening I went back to my
grandmother's.  I wanted Charley to accompany me, but he said that he
thought he had better keep out of the way, or out of sight.  This I have
since found the Tempter--that great enemy of man--always does when he
can.  He does his best to hide the hook with which he angles for souls,
as well as to conceal himself; and we may justly be suspicious of people
who dare not come forward to explain their objects and intentions
regarding us.  Even in a worldly point of view, the caution I give is
very necessary.  It was not, however, till long, long after that I found
all this out.  I had not been seated at the tea-table many minutes
before I opened the subject which lay nearest my heart.  My kind
grandmother and Aunt Bretta used all the arguments they could think of
to induce me to stay at home, and so powerful and reasonable did they
seem, that had I not been ashamed of facing Charley and confessing that
I was defeated, I should, at all events for the time, have yielded to
their wishes.  They pictured to me all the horrors of being shipwrecked
and being cast on a barren island, or tossed about at sea on a raft, or
having to live among savages, or being half starved or parched with
thirst,--indeed, they had little difficulty in finding subjects on which
to enlarge.  They also reminded me that, as I had no friends and no
interest, if I went to sea they could do nothing for me, and that though
Mr Iffley might be a very kind man, he could not be expected to care so
much for me as he would for his own son, and perhaps I might have to
remain before the mast all my life.  All this I knew was very true, but
I could not bear the idea of being laughed at by Charley and his father,
and in my eagerness I swore vehemently that go to sea I would, in spite
of everything they could say; and I declared that I didn't mind though I
might be cast away a dozen times, or go wandering about the ocean and
never come back,--indeed, I scarcely know what wicked and foolish things
I said on the occasion.

My poor grandmother and aunt were dreadfully shocked at the way I had
expressed myself.  They had too much respect for an oath themselves,
even though it was as rash as mine, to endeavour to make me break it,
and with tears streaming down her face my grandmother told me, that if
such was my resolution, she had no longer the wish to oppose it.  There
was something very sad in her countenance, and the words trembled on her
lips as she spoke, I remember.  It was not so much, however, because of
my wish to go to sea, as of my rank ingratitude and want of tenderness.

"Oh, Willand! ye dinna ken what harm ye have done, laddie," said Aunt
Bretta, as I parted from her to go to roost in my little attic room,
which she had fitted up so neatly for my use.

At first I was inclined to exult at having made the first step towards
the accomplishment of my wishes, and I was thinking how proud I should
be when I met Charley the next morning, to be able to tell him that I
had triumphed over all difficulties and was ready to accept his offer;
but then the recollection of what Aunt Bretta had said, and a
consciousness of the nature of my own conduct came over me, and I began
to be sorry for what I had done.  In the morning, however, before
breakfast, Charley called for me, and when I told him that I had got
leave to go, he said he would come in and comfort the poor women.  This
he did in a rough kind of way.  He told them that we were going to make
only a short summer voyage--out to the Mediterranean and back; that if I
liked it I might then be apprenticed, and if not, that I might come on
shore; that I should have seen a little of the world, and that no great
harm would be done.

The matter once settled, no people could have exerted themselves more
than did my two kind relatives to get me ready for sea.  They knew
exactly what was wanted, and in three or four days my entire kit was
ready and stowed away in a small sea-chest, which had belonged to some
member of my family who had escaped drowning.  It received no little
commendation when it was hoisted up the side of the _Kite_.

"That's what I like," said Mr Iffley; "traps enough, and no more.  It
speaks well for your womankind, and shows that you come of a sea-going
race."

I told him that I was born at sea, and that my father was drowned at
sea.

"That's better than being hung on shore," he answered with a loud laugh;
and I afterwards found that such had been the fate of his father, who
was a noted pirate, and that he himself had enjoyed the doubtful benefit
of his instruction for some time.

While we lay at Plymouth we received orders to call in at Falmouth, to
carry a cargo of pilchards, which was ready for us, to Naples, in the
south of Italy.  The people in that country, being Roman Catholics and
having to fast, eat a great quantity of salt-fish.  They have plenty of
fish in their own waters, but they are so lazy that they will not be at
the trouble of catching them in sufficient quantities to supply their
wants.  Falmouth was a great fishing place in those days, and full of
vessels going to all parts of the world.  There had been some heavy rain
in the night, and as they lay with their sails loosed and the flags of
all the civilised nations in the world flying from their peaks, I
thought that I had never seen a more beautiful sight.

Mr Tooke, our captain, was a very good sailor.  He was a tall, fine
man, with black hair and huge whiskers, like his mate's, and a voice,
when he liked, as loud as thunder--a quality on which he not a little
prided himself.  I thought when I went on board that I was to live in
the cabin and be treated like a young gentleman.  Charley had not said
anything about the matter, but he had showed me the state rooms, as they
were called, and I had sat down in the cabin and taken a glass of wine
with him there, so I took it for granted that I was to be a sort of
midshipman on board.

The first night, when the middle watch was set, and I began to grow very
sleepy, I asked Charley in which of the cabins I should find my bed.  He
laughed, and told me to follow him.  I did so, and he slipped down a
little hatchway forward, just stopping a minute, with his head and
shoulders above the deck, to tell me that I must not be too squeamish or
particular, and that I should soon get accustomed to the place to which
he was going to take me.  He then disappeared, and I went after him.  I
found myself in a dark hole, lighted by a very dim lantern, with shelves
which are called standing bed-places, one above the other, all round it,
and sea-chests lashed below.  In the fore part were two berths, rather
darker and closer than the rest.

"That's where you and I have to sleep, old boy," said Charley.  "I
didn't like it at first; but now I would just as soon sleep there as
anywhere else.  But, I say, don't make any complaints; no one will pity
you if you do, and you will only be laughed at for your pains."

I found that he was right with regard to my getting accustomed to the
place, though sheets were unknown, and cleanliness or decency were but
little attended to.  Not only were the habits of many of the crew dirty,
but their manners and ideas were bad, and their language most foul and
obscene; cursing and swearing went on all day long, just as a thing of
course.  It might seem strange to some who don't know much about human
nature, that I, a lad decently brought up by good, religious people, and
fairly educated, should have willingly submitted to live along with such
people.  At first I was startled,--I won't say shocked,--but then I
thought it fine and manly, and soon got not only accustomed to hear such
language, but to use it with perfect indifference myself.

We are all of us more apt to learn what is bad than what is good I have
mentioned Captain Tooke and our first mate.  We had a second mate, old
Tom Cole by name.  He was close upon sixty years of age.  He had been at
sea all his life, and had been master of more than one vessel, but lost
them through drunkenness, till he got such a name that no owners would
entrust him with the command of another.  He was a good seaman and a
fair navigator, and when he was sober there wasn't a better man in the
ship.  He had been to sea as first mate, but lost the berth through his
besetting sin.  I believe Captain Tooke engaged him from having known
him when he himself was a young man, and from believing that he could
keep him sober.  He succeeded pretty well, but not always; and more than
once, in consequence of old Cole's neglect of his duty, we very nearly
lost our lives, as many lives have been lost before and since.  The two
mates messed with the captain, but the apprentices lived entirely with
the men forward.  Besides Charles Iffley, there was another, Jacob La
Motte, a Guernsey lad.  He was a far more quiet and steady fellow than
either of us.  In my wiser moments I learned to like him better than
Iffley; and perhaps because I was better educated than most of the men,
and, except when led away by bad example, more inclined to be rational,
he associated more with me than with them.  The best educated and the
most steady among the hands forward was a young man, Edward Seton.  He
was very well-mannered and neat in his person, and I never heard him
giving way to profane swearing or any other gross conduct, and he tried,
but in vain to check those who indulged in it.

I had not been long at sea, though time enough to have any pride I might
have possessed knocked out of me, when I was accosted by old Ned
Toggles, one of the roughest of the rough hands on board, and generally
considered the wit of the crew, with, "And what's your name, youngster?
Did any one ever think it worth while to give one to such a shrimp as
you?"

"Yes," said I, firing up a little; "I should have thought you knew it by
this time."

"Know it!  How should I know whether your name is Jack, or Tom, or Bill?
Any one on 'em is too good for you, I should think, to look at you,"
remarked old Toggles, with a grin and a wink at his companions.

"Thank you for nothing," said I, feeling very indignant at the
gratuitous insult, as I considered it, thus offered to me.  "If you want
to know my name, I'll tell it you.  It is Willand Wetherholm."  The last
words I uttered with no little emphasis, while I looked at my shipmates
as much as to say, "There!  I should like to know who has got as good a
name as that!"  I saw a grin on the countenance of old Toggles as I
spoke.

"Will Weatherhelm!" he ejaculated.  "A capital name, lad.  Hurrah for
Will Weatherhelm.  Remember, Will Weatherhelm is to be your name to the
end of your days.  Come, no nonsense, we'll mark it into you, my boy.
Come, give us your arm."  What he meant by this I could not tell; but
after a little resistance, I found that I must give in.  "Come, it's our
watch below, and we have plenty of time to spare; we'll set about it at
once," said he, taking my arm and baring it up to the elbow.  One of the
other men then held me while Toggles procured a sharp needle, stuck in a
handle, and began puncturing the thick part of my arm between the elbow
and wrist.  The operation cost me some little pain; but there was no use
crying out, so I bore it patiently.  When he had done he brought some
powdered charcoal or gunpowder, and rubbed it thoroughly over the arm.
"There, my lad," said he, "don't go and wash it off, unless you want a
good rope's-ending, and you'll see what will come of it."

I waited patiently as I was bid, though my arm smarted not a little, and
in three days Toggles told me I might wash as much as I liked.  I did
wash, and there I found on my arm, indelibly marked, my new name, "Will
Weatherhelm!" and at sea, wherever I have been, it has ever since stuck
to me.

Note.  Weather helm is a sea term.  A vessel, when not in perfect trim
and too light aft, has a tendency, when on a wind, to luff of her own
accord, or to fly up into the wind.  To counteract this tendency it is
necessary to keep the helm a-weather, and she is then said to carry a
_weather helm_.  It is not surprising, therefore, that Toggles should at
once catch at my name, and turn it into one which is so familiar to a
seaman's ear.  Indeed, to this day, I have often to stop and consider
which is my proper name, and certainly could not avoid answering to that
of Will Weatherhelm.

If one of my old shipmates were to be asked if he knew Willand
Wetherholm, he would certainly say, "No; never heard of such a man."

"But don't you remember Will Weatherhelm?"

"I should think so, my boy," would be his reply, and I hope he would say
something in my favour.

We had a quick run to the southward till we were somewhere off the
latitude of Lisbon, when a gale sprung up from the eastward which drove
us off the land, and not only carried every stitch of canvas clear of
the bolt-ropes, but very nearly took the masts out of the vessel.  It
was my watch below when the gale came on, and I was awoke by the
terrific blows which the schooner received on her bows; and what with
the darkness and the confusion caused by the noise of the sea and the
rattling of the blocks aloft, the stamp of feet overhead, and the
creaking of the bulk-heads, I fully believed the ship was going down,
and that my last moment had come.  I thought of my poor old
grandmother's warnings, and I would have given anything if I could have
recalled my oath and found myself once more safe by her side.  "All
hands shorten sail!" soon sounded in my ears.  I slipped into my clothes
in a moment, and hastened on deck.  The sky overhead was as black as
pitch, and looked as if it was coming down to crush the vessel between
it and the ocean, and every now and then vivid flashes of lightning
darted forth from it, playing round the rigging and showing the huge
black seas as they came rolling up like walls capped with white foaming
tops, with a loud rushing roar, as if they were about to overwhelm us.
A rope's-end applied to my back made me start, and I heard the voice of
old Cole, saying, "Hillo, youngster, what are you dreaming about?  Up
aloft there, and help furl the topsails."  Aloft I went, though I
thought every moment that I should be blown away or shaken from the
shrouds; and when I got on the yards, I had to hold with teeth and
eyelids, as the saying is, and very little use I suspect I was of.
Still the sails, or rather what remained of them, were furled, and I had
been aloft in a gale.  I very soon learned to think nothing of it.

We were many days regaining our lost ground, and it was three weeks
after leaving Falmouth before we sighted the Rock of Gibraltar.  We did
not stop there, but the wind being then fair, ran on through the Gut
towards our destination.  Inside the straits, we had light and baffling
winds, and found ourselves drifted over to the African shore, not far
from the Riff Coast.  We kept a sharp look-out and had our guns ready
shotted, for the gentry thereabouts have a trick of coming off in their
fast-pulling boats if they see an unarmed merchantman becalmed; and, as
a spider does a fly caught in his web, carrying her off and destroying
her.  They are very expeditious in their proceedings.  They either cut
the throats of the crew or sell them into slavery, carry all the cargo,
and rigging, and stores on shore, and burn the hull, that no trace of
their prize may remain.  Charley told me this; but we agreed, as we were
well armed, if they came off to us, they might find that they had caught
a Tartar.

The captain and mates had their glasses constantly turned towards the
shore.  The sun was already sinking towards the west, when I heard the
captain exclaim, "Here they come!  Now, my lads, let's see what you are
made of."  We all, on this, gave a loud cheer, and I could see six or
eight dark specks just stealing out clear of the land.  Charley and I
were in high glee at the near prospect of a skirmish, for we both of us
had a great fancy for smelling gunpowder.

Old Cole heard us boasting of what we would do.  "Just wait, my boys,
till you see some hundreds of those ugly blackamoors, with their long
pikes, poking away at you, and climbing up the side of the schooner, and
you will have reason to change your tone, I suspect," said he, as he
turned on his heel away from us.

"Here comes a breeze off the land!" exclaimed Mr Iffley; "we may wish
the blackguards good-bye before they come up with us."  The breeze came
and sent us a few fathoms through the water, and then died away and left
the sails flapping as before idly against the masts, while at the same
time the row-boats came nearer and nearer.  The captain walked the deck
with his glass under his arm, every now and then giving a glance at the
approaching boats, and then holding up his hand to ascertain if the
breeze was coming back again.  Once more the sails filled, and his
countenance brightened.  Stronger and stronger came the breeze.  The
schooner felt its force, and now began to rush gaily through the water.
"Hurrah! she walks along briskly!" he exclaimed, looking over the side.
"We may wish the gentlemen in the boats good evening."

I was surprised to find the captain so glad to get away from the
pirates.  I thought it was somewhat cowardly of him, and that he would
rather have stopped and fought them.  Charley laughed when I told him
this.  "He is as brave a man as ever stepped," he answered.  "He has his
own business to attend to, and that is to carry his cargo to the port we
are bound for.  What good would he have got had he fought the pirates,
even though he had knocked them to pieces?"

The breeze continuing, and darkness coming on, we very soon lost sight
of the boats.  It was nearly a fortnight after this that we made the
coast of Sicily, and saw Mount Etna towering up with a flaming top into
the clouds.  We stood on towards the Bay of Naples.  A bright mist hung
over the land as we approached it soon after sunrise, like a veil of
gauze, but still thick enough entirely to conceal all objects from our
view.  Suddenly, as if obeying the command of an enchanter's wand, it
lifted slowly before us and revealed a scene more beautiful that any I
ever expected to behold.  On the right was the bright green island of
Capri, with Sorrento and its ruined columns beyond it.  Before us was
the gay white city of Naples, with its castles and moles below rising
upwards out of the blue sparkling waters on the side of a hill, amid
orange groves and vineyards, and crowned at its summit by a frowning
fortress, while on the left was the wildly picturesque island of Procida
and the promontory of Baiae, every spot of which was full of classic
associations, which, however, the little knowledge I had picked up was
scarcely sufficient to enable me to appreciate, and in which even now, I
must own, I could not take the interest they deserve.  Still the beauty
of the scene fixed itself on my memory never to be eradicated.



CHAPTER TWO.

GREEK PIRATES--A SUSPICIONS STRANGER--MY FIRST FIGHT--DESPERATE
ENCOUNTER--OUR FATE SEALED--THE SINKING VESSEL--THE MATE'S DEATH--WE
SECURE A BOAT--DOWN SHE GOES--OUR PERILOUS VOYAGE--LOSS OF ANOTHER
SHIPMATE--DEATH OF EDWARD SETON--MY PROMISE--A STRONG BREEZE--A GALE
SPRINGS UP--A HEAVY SEA.

Having discharged our cargo at Naples, the captain, finding that we
could get no freight home from thence at the time, determined to go to
Smyrna, where he knew that he could obtain one of dried fruit, figs,
currants, and raisins.  We spent ten days there, and on our homeward
voyage, keeping somewhat to the northward of our course, got among the
islands of the Greek Archipelago.  At that time a great many of the
petty Greek chiefs, driven by the Turks from their hereditary domains,
had established themselves on any rocky island they could find, with as
many followers as they could collect, and nothing loth, used to carry on
the respectable avocation of pirates.  Some possessed only lateen-rigged
craft, or open boats, but others owned fine large vessels, ships and
brigs, strongly armed and manned.  Though they attacked any Turkish
vessels wherever they could find them, they were in no respect
particular, if compelled by necessity to look out for other prey, and
the merchantmen of any civilised nation which came in their way had but
a small chance of escape.

I observed some little anxiety on the countenances of the officers, and
a more careful watch than usual was kept on board at night, while in the
day-time the captain or first mate was constantly aloft, and more than
once the course was changed to avoid a strange sail.  The winds were
light and baffling, so that we were detained among the islands for some
time.  At last we got a fair breeze from the northward, though it was
light, and we were congratulating ourselves that we should have a quick
run to the westward.  We had been standing on for a couple of hours or
so, when I saw the master and mates looking out anxiously ahead.  I
asked Charley Iffley what it was they saw.

"An ugly-looking big brig, which has a cut they don't like about her,"
was the answer.  "When we were out here the last time, we sighted just
such another chap.  A hundred or more cut-throat-looking fellows were
dancing on her decks, and we had every expectation that they would lay
us aboard, when a man-of-war hove in sight, and she prudently cut her
stick.  The man-of-war made chase, but a Thames barge might as well have
tried to catch a wherry.  The pirate was out of sight in no time."

"But if this stranger should prove to be a gentleman of the same
profession, what shall we do, Charley?"  I asked.

"Run away if we can, and fight him if he comes up with us," he replied.

I thought he did not seem quite so anxious about fighting as he had been
when we were off the Riff coast.  Indeed, from what I could learn,
should the vessel in sight prove to be a Greek pirate, we might find a
struggle with her no joking matter.  That she was so, I found the
captain and officers entertained not the slightest doubt.  The schooner
was brought on a wind and stood away to the southward, but the brig
immediately afterwards changed her course for the same direction.  The
captain on this called the crew aft, and told us that he intended to try
and make his escape, but that if he did not succeed, we must fight for
our lives, for if overcome we should all have our throats cut.  Charley
and I, and La Motte, gave a shrill cheer, in which we were joined by two
or three of the other men, but the old hands merely growled out, "Never
fear; no man wants to get his throat cut, so we'll fight."  I was
surprised at their want of enthusiasm; but when men have been much
knocked about in the world, and have all their finer feelings blunted,
that, among other sentiments, is completely battered out of them.

When Captain Tooke saw the brig change her course, he hauled the
schooner close on a wind, but the brig instantly hauled her wind also,
and we very soon saw that she was rapidly overhauling us.  The truth is,
that English merchantmen of those days were mere tubs compared to those
of foreign nations; and even the _Kite_, though a fast vessel of her
class, was very inferior to the craft of the present day of the same
rig.  Thus we saw that there was little chance of escaping a fight
should the stranger prove to be a pirate, unless a man-of-war or large
merchantman, able to help us, might heave in sight.

While we were trying the speed of our heels, every possible preparation
was made for fighting; boarding nettings were triced up; our two guns
were carefully loaded; the small arms were got up and distributed among
the people, who fastened on the cutlasses round their waists and stuck
the pistols in their belts.  Charley and I had got hold of a pistol
a-piece, and purposed committing great execution with them, but I was
condemned to help La Motte to hand up powder and shot from below,
greatly to Master Charley's amusement, who looked down and asked how I
liked being a powder-monkey.  As I every now and then shoved my head
through the hatchway, I saw that the brig was coming up rapidly after
us.  I had been down some little time, when just as I came up and was
looking about me, my ears were saluted with a loud hissing whirl, and I
saw our main gaff shot away at the jaws and come tumbling down on deck.
This made the schooner fall off the wind somewhat.

"Fire, my lads! fire!" shouted Captain Tooke, "and see if we can't repay
them in kind."

Our lee-gun had been run over to the weather side, and both guns were
fired at once, discharged by some of our best hands, old men-of-war's
men.  Still, as no cry of satisfaction followed, I suspected that they
had not succeeded in damaging the enemy.  A whole broadside from the
Greek now came rattling down upon us.  I could not resist giving a look
up on deck.  Several of our poor fellows had been knocked over, and lay
writhing in agony.  Some were binding up their wounds, and one lay half
hanging over the hatchway shot through the body.  Such another iron
shower would speedily clear our decks of every living being.  As to
striking our flag, or crying out for mercy, that was out of the
question; we were contending with people who had received none from
their oppressors, and had not learned to show it to others.  Those not
required to work the two guns, began blazing away with the muskets, but
in that arm also the pirate was infinitely our superior.  Her shot from
another broadside came rushing fiercely over us.  This time no one on
deck was hit, but the effects aloft were disastrous.  Both our
topsail-yards were wounded, and several braces and much of our standing
rigging shot through.  Our people fought as well as any men-of-war's
men, and our captain showed that though he was a rough diamond he was a
brave fellow.  A third broadside reduced our rigging to a perfect wreck,
and masts, and spars, and blocks came tumbling down from aloft in
melancholy confusion.  All this time the wind had been increasing, and
it now blew a pretty smart breeze.  We might have still a chance if we
could knock away some of the enemy's spars, and keep him from boarding
us.  Our hull had received no material injury, and if a gale came on we
might weather it out till perhaps some ship might come to our rescue.
Having got up all the powder and shot required, I came on deck.  I asked
Charley what he thought of the state of things.  He was looking very
pale; his shirt-sleeve was tucked up at the elbow, and there was blood
on his arm, which a musket-ball had just grazed.

"Don't ask me, Will," said he.  "What can we do against that big fellow?
We shall all be food for fishes before long, I suppose."

I looked at the brig, which was twice our size and uninjured in rigging,
and was closely approaching us, while I could make out that her decks
were crowded with men in a variety of Eastern costumes, mostly such as I
had seen on board the Greek vessels at Smyrna.  By this time it was
blowing fresh, and a good deal of sea had got up.  The schooner, having
no canvas aloft to steady her, was pitching and tumbling about in an
awful way.  Our fate was sealed.  I remembered all the dreadful stories
I had heard, and the atrocities committed by these Greek pirates; but I
had little time for thought.  On came the pirate; showers of
musket-balls swept our decks, and round shot came crashing through our
side.  In another instant her grappling-irons were thrown aboard, and as
a huge spider catches a miserable fly, so did our big antagonist hold us
struggling and writhing in his grasp.

We had fought as long as we could; but what could we do against such
overwhelming numbers?  We did not strike to the villains at all events,
for we had not a man by this time left on his legs to haul down the
flag, even had we wished to do so.  The pirates, with fierce shouts,
waiting till the sides of the vessels rolled together, leaped, sword in
hand, on our decks.  The captain and mates continued fighting to the
last, as if resolved to sell their lives dearly.  Some were driven
overboard, several were knocked down below, and so saved their lives for
the moment, while the greater number were unable to lift hand or foot in
their defence.  I was among them.  A shot grazed me, I could scarcely
tell where, my whole body was in such agony; but overcome with it I lay
without power of moving.  This was fortunate, for had any of us shown
signs of life, the pirates would have despatched as at once.  As it was,
they merely shoved us out of the way, while they set to work to get out
the cargo.  Though I could not move, my eye was able to follow them, and
from the expeditious way in which they proceeded about their work, they
were evidently well practised in it.  Every moment I expected to find my
existence finished by having the point of a sword or a pike run into me.
I suppose after this that I went off into a swoon, for when I again
looked up, the pirates had left the vessel, and I could see the topsails
of their brig, just as they were sheering off.  My first impulse was
that of joy to think that I was saved.  I tried to rise, and fancied
that I might have strength sufficient to do so; but then I thought it
better to be perfectly still, lest the pirates should see me moving
about, and take it into their heads to fire and perhaps finish me.  My
feelings were very dreadful.  I knew not how many of my companions might
have escaped.  Perhaps I might be soon the only survivor left alone on
the shattered wreck, for the groans of my companions still alive showed
that they were desperately wounded; or perhaps my doom was already
fixed, and my hours were drawing to a close.  I could scarcely bear to
hear those sounds of pain, yet I dared not move to render assistance.  I
waited for some time, and then I slowly turned round my head, and
ventured to look if the vessel could be seen from where I lay.  She was
not visible, so I crawled to a port through which I could see her about
a mile off, standing away to the eastward.  I now felt that, provided no
one showed their heads above the bulwarks, we should be safe.  A cask of
water stood on the deck for daily use.  I crawled to it, and swallowed
some of the precious fluid, which much revived me.  I never tasted a
more delicious draught in my life.  I took the tin cup, and crawled to
the nearest person who appeared to be alive.  It was the captain.  He
was groaning heavily, "Here's a cup of water, sir," I said; "it will do
you good.  The pirates are off, and I do not think they are coming back
again."

At first he did not seem to understand me; then he took the mug of
water, and drained it to the bottom.

"What, gone, are they?" he at length exclaimed.  "Ah, lad, is that you?
Well, what has happened?  Oh!  I know.  Help me up, and we'll see about
it."

I did my best, hurt as I was, to raise him up.  In a short time he very
much recovered.  Both he and I, it appeared, had been knocked over by
the wind of a round shot, and had been rather stunned than seriously
hurt.

The captain, as he lay on the deck, bound up my wound for me with a
kindness I did not expect from him.  As soon as he was somewhat
recovered, he told me to come with him and examine into the state of
affairs.  Many of the crew lay stiff and stark on deck--their last fight
over.  We carried the water to the few who remained alive, and very
grateful they were for it.  Among the killed was the first mate; but
poor Charley I did not see.  I observed another man moving forward.  I
crawled up to him.  He was Edward Seton.  I gave him the mug of water.
He thanked me gratefully.

"I'm afraid that I am in a bad way, Weatherhelm," said he; "but see what
you can do for me, and I'll try and get about and help the captain: tell
him."

Under his directions I bound up his wounds as well as I could, and in a
little time he began to crawl about, though it seemed to give him great
pain to do so.  On looking into the hold we found that several men were
there.  The captain hailed them, and gave the welcome news that the
pirate was off, and that they might venture on deck.  As soon as they
heard his voice they sprang up, but looks of horror were on their
countenance.

"It's all over with us, sir," said they.  "The villains have bored holes
in the ship's bottom, and the water is rushing in by bucketsful."

I accompanied the captain below.  Unhappily he found that what they said
was too true, and at the first appearance of things it looked as if the
schooner could not swim another half hour.  On further examination,
however, it appeared that, whatever might have been the intention of the
villains, they had not bored the holes very cleverly.  Some of them were
through the timbers, and others were even above the water line, and they
had providentially been prevented from finishing their work by breaking
their auger, the iron of which was sticking in one of the timbers.  When
this had occurred they made the attempt to knock a hole through the
ship's side; but they had found the ribs and planking too strong for
their axes, and had been compelled to desist before accomplishing their
purpose.  They had, however, effectually destroyed the pumps,--a few
strokes of their axes had done that,--so that we had little hope of
freeing the vessel of water, as it would take long to repair them.  Why
they did not set her on fire I do not know.  Perhaps because they were
afraid that the blaze might attract the attention of any ship of war
which might be in the neighbourhood, and bring her down upon them.  At
all events, they refrained from no tender feeling of love or mercy for
us.

"Don't give in, my lads," cried the captain, after he had examined the
state of affairs.  "All who can manage to move, come with me; we may
still have a chance of saving our lives.  See if any of you can find an
axe and wood to make plugs to drive into these holes."

The pirates had of course intended to heave overboard everything of the
sort; but fortunately, without loss of time, a hatchet was found under
the windlass forward, where one of the men recollected he had left it,
after chopping wood for firing, and another discovered an axe in the
carpenter's store-room, under a number of things which had been routed
out of the chests by the pirates in their search for money.  With these
two tools we set to work, and as soon as a plug was cut, we drove it
into such of the holes as let in the greatest quantity of water.  There
was no difficulty in finding them, for the water spouted up in jets in
all directions in the hold.

It must be understood that what was already inside had not yet got to a
level with the sea.  Indeed, if it had, we should very soon have gone
down.  We succeeded in stopping the greater number, but unfortunately
two or three had been bored low down, and some of the cargo having
washed over them, we could not contrive to reach the places to plug
them.  I guessed, when the fact was discovered, that all hopes of
ultimately saving the vessel must be greatly diminished, though what we
had done would enable her to float for some time longer.

I have before been prevented mentioning anything respecting those of my
shipmates who had escaped with their lives.  The first person I saw
below was old Cole.  He was unhurt, and seemed to take matters as coolly
and quietly as if they were of ordinary occurrence.  He had, as I
afterwards discovered, directly he saw the pirate brig running us
aboard, gone below and stowed himself away.  I ventured to ask him, on a
subsequent occasion, how it was that he had not remained on deck and
fought on like the rest.  "Why, I will tell you, Will," said he; "I have
found out, by a pretty long experience, that if I don't take care of
Number one, no one else will; so, when I saw that nothing more could be
done to beat off the pirates, I thought to myself, there's no use
getting killed for nothing, so I'll just keep in hiding till I see how
things go."  La Motte, the Guernsey lad, was unhurt, but we picked up
poor Charley Iffley with an ugly knock on his head, which had stunned
him.  He didn't know that his father was killed.  We let him perfectly
recover before we told him.  I wished to have kept back the knowledge of
this fact from him, but of course as soon as he came on deck he could
not fail to discover it, so La Motte and I broke it to him gently.  I
was somewhat shocked to find how little effect it had on him.

"What, father dead, is he?  Well, what am I to do then, I wonder?" was
his unfeeling observation.

"And this is the person whom I thought so fine a fellow, and by whom I
was guided rather than by those who loved me best in the world," I
thought to myself.  Still, I could not help feeling compassion for my
friend, and I believe he really did feel his father's loss more than his
words would have led me to suppose.

Having done what we could below, the captain called us all on deck to
examine into the state of the boats, and to see if any of them were fit
to carry us to the nearest shore.  A glance showed us their condition.
The spars which had fallen from aloft, and the shot of the enemy, had
done them no little damage, and the villainous pirates, before leaving
us, had stove in their sides and hove the oars overboard, to prevent any
of us who might survive from making use of them.  I felt my heart sink
within me when I saw this, but none of us gave way to despair.  It is
not the habit of British seamen, while a spark of life remains in them,
to do so.  The long-boat was in the best condition, but with our yards
gone we could not hoist her out, even had we had all the crew fit for
the work, so that we were obliged to content ourselves with trying to
patch up the jolly-boat, which we might launch over the side.

The carpenter was among the killed, so that had the pirates left us all
his tools, we could not have repaired the boat properly, and the captain
therefore ordered us to set to work to cover her over with tarred
canvas, and to strengthen her with a framework inside.  Thus prepared,
there were some hopes that she might be able to float us, provided the
weather did not grow worse.

While the captain and old Cole, with the more experienced hands, were
patching up the boat, he sent La Motte and me to try and find a
spy-glass in the cabin.  After some search we discovered one and took it
to him.  He watched the pirate brig through it attentively.  "Hurra, my
lads, she'll not come back!" he exclaimed.  "She's standing under all
sail to the eastward, and soon will be hull down."  This announcement
gave us all additional spirits to proceed with our work.  La Motte and I
were next sent to get up some mattresses from below on which to put the
wounded men; we also bound up their hurts as well as we could, and kept
handing them round water, for they seemed to suffer more from thirst
than anything else.

My own wound hurt me a good deal, but while I was actively employed for
the good of others, I scarcely thought about it.  I found that much
progress was being made with the boat.  There was plenty of canvas, and
a cask of Stockholm tar was found.  After paying both the boat and a
piece of canvas sufficiently large to cover her over with the tar, the
canvas was passed under her keel and fastened inside the gunwale on
either side.  It went, of course, from stem to stern, and the thickly
tarred folds nailed over the bows served somewhat to strengthen them.
In our researches La Motte and I had found a hammer and a pair of
pincers, which were very useful, as they enabled us to draw out the
nails from the other boat with which to fasten on the canvas.  As the
boat would require much strengthening inside, a framework of some small
spars we had on board was made to go right round her gunwale, from which
other pieces were nailed down to the seats, and two athwart, inside the
gunwale, to prevent her upper works from being pressed in.  Besides
this, some planks were torn from the long-boat, and with them a weather
streak was made to go round the jolly-boat, and this made her better
able to contend with a heavy sea.

When we had performed our first task, the captain sent us with the
second mate to get up such provisions and stores as we might require,
with some small beakers to fill with water.  He then came himself to
judge how fast the water was gaining on us, and seeing that the schooner
would swim some time longer, he had another thick coat of tar put on,
and an additional coat of canvas nailed over the boat.  It was lucky
this was done, for as the tar had not time to sink into the canvas, I do
not think the first would for any length of time have kept the water
out.  We had still much to do, for we had neither oars, spars, nor sails
fitted for the boat.  In half an hour more, however, we had fashioned
two pairs of oars, in a very rough way certainly, but such as would
serve in smooth water well enough.  We had stepped two masts and fitted
two lugs and a jib.  Fortunately the rudder had not been injured, so
that we were saved the trouble of making one.  I felt my heart somewhat
lighter when the work was finished, and we were able to launch the boat
over the side where the bulwarks had been knocked away when the enemy
ran us aboard.  She swam well, and we at once began putting what we
required into her.  The pirates had carried off all the compasses they
could find, but the captain had a small spare one in a locker which had
not been broken open, and this he now got out, with a chart and quadrant
they had also overlooked.  Thus we might contrast our condition very
favourably with that of many poor fellows, who have been compelled to
leave their sinking ships in the mid Atlantic or Pacific hundreds of
miles from any known coast, without chart or compass, and with a scant
supply of water and provisions.

We had no difficulty in stowing water and provisions for the remnant of
the crew to last us till we could reach Zante or Cephalonia, or some
part of the Grecian coast; for that, I heard the captain say, would be
the best direction to steer.  We first put the wounded who could not
help themselves into the boat, and the rest were following, when the
captain stopped us.

"Stay, my lads," said he.  "The schooner will float for some time
longer, and we must not leave the bodies of our poor shipmates aboard
her to be eaten by the fish with as little concern as if they were
animals."

"All right, sir," answered the men, evidently pleased.  "We wouldn't
wish to do so either, sir, but we thought you were in a hurry to be
off."

We set to work at once, for all hands knew what he meant, and we sewed
each of the bodies up in canvas, with shot at their feet.  "Can anybody
say any prayers?" asked the captain.  No one answered.  Of all the crew,
no one had a prayer-book, nor was a Bible to be found.  I had one, I
knew, which had been put into my chest by my grandmother, but I was
ashamed to say it was there, and I had not once looked at it since I
came to sea.  Edward Seton, however, who had been put into the boat,
heard the question.  "I have a prayer-book, sir," he said.  "If I may be
hoisted on deck, I will read the funeral service."  The captain accepted
his offer.  He was taken out of the boat and propped up on a mattress.
He read the Church of England burial service with a faltering voice (he
himself looking like death itself) over the bodies of those whom it
appeared too probable that he would shortly follow.

It might, perhaps, have been more a superstitious than a religious
feeling which induced my rough, uneducated shipmates to attend to the
service, but it seemed to afford them satisfaction, and it may, perhaps,
at all events, have done some of us good.  Then the poor fellows were
launched overboard, with a sigh for their loss, for they were brave
fellows, and died fighting like British seamen.  Charley stood by while
his father's body was committed to the deep, and he cried very heartily,
as if he really felt his loss.  Then, slowly, one after the other of us
went into the boat.  The captain was the last to quit the schooner.  For
some time we held on.  The captain evidently could not bring himself to
give the order to cast off--indeed, it was possible that the vessel
might still float for some time longer; still it is difficult to say
when a water-logged vessel may go down.  Had we hung on during the dark,
we might have been taken by surprise, and not have been able to get
clear in time.  I heard the captain propose to Mr Cole to set her on
fire, in the hopes that the blaze might bring some vessel down to our
relief; but I suspect that he had not the heart to do it.  At last, as
night was coming on, he gave the order, "Cast off."  I suspect he never
gave a more unwilling one.  Not another word did he say, but he gave a
last lingering look at the craft he had so long commanded, and then
turned away his head.

Our lugs were hoisted, for the wind had come round to the southward, and
away we stood for Cephalonia.  It was a beautiful night, the sea was
smooth and the wind was light,--indeed, we would rather have had more of
it,--the stars came brightly out of the clear sky, and there was every
appearance of fine weather.  There seemed no reason to doubt that all
would go well, if the wind did not again get up; and, as we had just had
a strong blow, there was a prospect of its continuing calm till we got
to our destination.  The night passed away pretty well--all hands slept
by turns, and, for my own part, I could have slept right through it, had
it not been that the groans of one of my companions, who lay close to
me, sounded in my ears and awoke me.  I sat up and recognised the voice
of poor Edward Seton.  La Motte and I, who were closest to him, did all
we could to assuage his pain.  We bathed his wounds and supplied him
with drink, but his tortures increased till towards the morning, when on
a sudden he said that he felt more easy.  At first, I fancied that all
was going right with him; but soon the little strength he had began to
fail, and as the sun rose, and fell on his pale cheeks, I saw that the
mark of death was already there.  I spoke to him and asked him what I
could do for him.  He was perfectly conscious of his approaching death.

"You have done all you could for me, Will," he answered, in a low faint
voice, not audible to the rest.  "It is all over with me in this world.
I am glad that you are near me, for you think more as I do, and you know
better what is right than the rest of our shipmates; but, Weatherhelm,
let a dying man warn you, as you know better than others what is right,
so are your responsibilities greater, and thus more will be demanded of
you by the Great Judge before whom I am about to stand, and you will
have to stand ere long.  Oh! do not forget what I have said.  And now I
would ask a favour for myself.  I have a mother living near Hull, and
one I love still better, a sweet young girl I was to have married.  Find
out my mother--she will send for her--see them both--tell them how I
died--how I was doing my duty faithfully as a seaman, and how I thought
of them to the last."

"Yes, yes," I answered, "I'll do my best to fulfil your wishes."  I took
his hand and pressed it.  A fearful change came over his countenance,
and he was a corpse.  I hoped to be able to keep my promise, for often
the only satisfaction a dying seaman has, is to know that his shipmates
will faithfully carry his last messages to those he loves best on earth.
The body was dragged forward into the bow of the boat, for rough as
were the survivors, all esteemed Edward Seton, and no one liked to
propose without necessity to throw his remains overboard before they
were cold.

At noon the captain took an observation, and found that since leaving
the schooner the previous evening we had run about forty miles, which
showed that we had been going little more than two and a half knots an
hour--for the wind had been very light all the time.  Still we were far
better off than if it had been blowing a gale.  As, however, the day
drew on, clouds began to collect in the horizon, forming heavy banks
which grew darker and darker every instant.  I saw the captain and mate
looking at them anxiously.

"We are going to have another blow before long," observed Mr Cole.  "If
we could have got under the lee of some land before it came on, it would
have been better for us."

"No doubt about that, Mr Cole; but as we have no land near us, if the
gale catches us we must weather it out as men best can," answered the
captain.

The mate was unfortunately right, and somewhere about the end of the
afternoon watch a strong breeze sprung up from the southward, which soon
caused a good deal of sea.  The boat was hauled close to the wind on the
larboard tack, but she scarcely looked up to her course, besides making
much lee-way.  She proved, however, more seaworthy than might have been
expected, but we shipped a good deal of water at times, to the great
inconvenience of the wounded men, and we had to keep constantly baling
with our hats, or whatever we could lay hold of.  As it became necessary
to lighten the boat as much as possible, the captain ordered us to sew
the body of poor Seton up in his blanket, and to heave it overboard.  No
one present was able to read the burial service over him, and he who had
so lately performed that office for his shipmates was committed to the
deep without a prayer being said over him.  I thought it at the time
very shocking; but I have since learned to believe that prayers at a
funeral are uttered more for the sake of the living than the dead, and
that to those who have departed it matters nothing how or where their
body is laid to rest.  Of course we had no shot to fasten to poor
Seton's body.  For a short time it floated, and as I watched it with
straining eyes, surrounded by masses of white foam blown from the
summits of the rising waves, I thought of the awful warning he had
lately uttered to me, and felt that I, too, might be summoned whither he
was gone.

The wind and sea were now rapidly rising.  In a short time it had
increased very much, and as the waves came rolling up after us, they
threatened every instant to engulf the boat.  She had begun to leak also
very considerably, and do all we could, we were unable to keep her free
of water.

"We must lighten the boat, my lads," said the captain.  "Don't be
down-hearted, though; we shall soon make the land, and then we shall
find plenty of provisions to supply the place of what we must now cast
away."

Some of the men grumbled at this, and said that they had no fancy to be
put on short allowance, and that they would keep the provisions at all
risks.  I never saw a more sudden change take place in any man than came
over the countenance of the captain at this answer.  Putting the tiller
into the mate's hand, he sprung up from his seat.  "What, you thought I
was changed into a lamb, did you?" he exclaimed in a voice of thunder.
"Wretched idiots! just for the sake of indulging for a few hours in
gluttony, you would risk your own lives and the lives of all in the
boat.  The first man who dares to disobey me, shall follow poor Seton
out there--only he will have no shroud to cover him.  You, Storr,
overboard with that keg; Johnston, do you help him."  The men addressed
obeyed without uttering another word, and the captain went back to the
stern-sheets, and issued his orders as calmly as if nothing had
occurred.

"The captain was like himself, as I have been accustomed to see him," I
thought to myself.  "Sorrow for the loss of his vessel and his people
changed him for a time, and now he is himself again."

I was not quite right, though.  Rough as he looked, he was born with a
tender heart; but habit, example, and independent command, and long
unconstrained temper, made him appear the fierce savage man I often
thought him.  A large quantity of our water and provisions, and stores
of all sorts, were thrown overboard, as was everything that was not
absolutely necessary, to lighten the boat as much as possible.  Yet, do
all we could, there appeared to be a great probability that we should
never manage to reach the shore.  The water had also somehow or other
worked its way between the canvas at the joints in the fore and after
parts of the boat, in addition to the seas which came in over the
gunwale.  To assist in keeping it out we stuffed everything soft we
could find, bits of blanket, our shirt-sleeves and handkerchiefs, into
the holes in the planks, though of course but little good was thus
effected.  In vain we looked round on every side, in the hope that our
eyes might rest on some object to give us cause for hope.  Darker and
more threatening grew the sky, louder roared the wind, and higher and
higher rose the seas.  Scarcely half an hour more remained before
darkness would come down on us.  With no slight difficulty the boat had
been kept steadily before the seas with the advantage of daylight; at
night, with the sea still higher, we could scarcely expect that she
could be kept clear.  It was indeed with little hope of ever again
seeing it rise that we watched the sun sinking towards the western
horizon.



CHAPTER THREE.

VOYAGE IN THE BOAT CONTINUED--GALE BLOWING STRONG--A SAIL IN SIGHT--WILL
SHE PASS US?--A FRENCH BRIG--LIFE ON BOARD--REACH SMYRNA--SAILORS'
FRIENDSHIP--OUR PRANKS ON SHORE--THE PLAGUE--CHARLEY'S FEARS--SENT ON
BOARD THE FATE--ONCE MORE AFLOAT--HOMEWARD-BOUND.

A look of blank, sullen despair was stealing over the countenances of
most of the crew.  Charley Iffley sat with his hands before him and his
head bent down, without saying a word, and seemingly totally unconscious
of what was taking place.  When I spoke to him he did not answer or look
up.  I suppose that he was thinking of his father, and grieving for his
loss, so, after two or three trials, I did not again attempt to rouse
him up.  La Motte and I occasionally exchanged remarks; but when the
wind again got up and we expected every moment that the boat would
founder, we felt too much afraid and too wretched to talk.  The captain
was the only person who kept up his spirits.  Once more he rose from his
seat, and stepped on to the after-thwart, holding on by the mainmast.  I
watched his eye as he cast it round the horizon.  I saw it suddenly
light up.  "A sail! my lads, a sail!" he exclaimed, pointing to the
westward.  Not another word was spoken for some time.  We kept on our
course, and we were soon able to ascertain that the stranger was
standing almost directly for us.  The captain at once resolved to try
and get on board her, whatever she might prove, rather than run the risk
of passing the night in the boat.  He on this put the boat about, for
had we continued on the course we were then steering she might have gone
ahead of us.  Our great anxiety was now to make ourselves seen before
the night closed down upon us.  We had a lantern, but its pale light
would not have been observed at any distance.  Just before the sun sank
into the ocean we were near enough the stranger to make out that she was
a large brig, apparently a ship of war, and by the cut of her canvas,
and her general appearance, she was pronounced to be French.  Though all
my younger days we were at loggerheads with them, there happened just
then, for a wonder, to be a peace between our two nations, so there was
no fear but what we should be treated as friends.

The sun sank ahead of us with a fiery and angry glow, while the clouds
swept by rapidly overhead, and every now and then a flash of lightning
and a loud roar of thunder made us anxious to find ourselves on board a
more seaworthy craft than the frail boat in which we floated.  We had no
firearms with us, for the pirates had carried away or thrown overboard
all they found on board the schooner, so we had no means of making a
night signal.  However, as there was still a little light remaining, we
lashed two oars together, and made fast at one end an ensign, which had
fortunately been thrown into the boat.  The captain then stood up and
waved it about to try and attract the attention of those on board the
brig.  I felt inclined to shout out, under the feeling that far off as
she was my feeble voice would be heard.  On we flew through the water at
a rate which threatened every instant to tear the canvas off the boat's
bottom, while the seas at the same time constantly came on board and
nearly swamped us.  Time passed away; the gloom of evening thickened
around us.  Our hearts sank within our bosoms.  It seemed too probable
that the stranger would pass without observing us.  We were again almost
in despair, when the boom of a gun came rolling over the water towards
us.  To our ears it was the sweetest music, a sign that we were seen,
and a promise, we believed, that we should not be deserted.  On stood
the man-of-war directly for us; but it had now grown so dark, that
though we could see her from her greater bulk, we could scarcely hope
that those on board her could see us.  We had two serious dangers to
avoid.  If we stood directly in her course, so rapidly was she going
through the water, she might run over us before we could possibly make
ourselves heard; while, if we kept too much out of her way, she might
pass us, and we might miss her altogether.  Fortunately we succeeded in
getting our lantern lighted, and the captain sent me to hold it up
forward as soon as we drew near her.  On she came; another minute would
decide our fate; when we saw her courses hauled up, her topgallant sails
furled, and coming up on the wind, she hove-to on the larboard tack,
scarcely a cable's length from us.  We stood on a little, and then
putting the boat about, we fetched up under her lee quarter and ran
alongside.  A rope was hove to us, and lights were shown to enable us to
get on board.

Our captain spoke a little French, though it was of a very free-and-easy
sort, I suspect.  The brig proved to be, as he had thought, of that
nation; and such a jabbering and noise as saluted our ears I never have
in all my life heard on board of a man-of-war.  However, they wished to
deal kindly by us.  They at once sent us down ropes with which the
wounded men were hauled up, though there was great risk of getting them
hurt in the operation.  When this was done, the rest of us set to work
to hand up all the more valuable things we had in the boat,--not that
the pirates had left us much, by the by.  While we were thus engaged, a
squall struck the brig, and almost laid her on her beam-ends.  We had
just time to clamber up on board, when a sea swamped the boat, which was
directly afterwards cut adrift; the helm being then put up, the brig
righted, and off she flew before the wind.  The squall was quickly over
(we had reason to be grateful that we had not been compelled to
encounter it in the boat), and the brig was once more brought up on her
course.  We found that she was the _Euryale_, of eighteen guns, and then
bound for Smyrna.  Though we would rather have been put on shore at
Cephalonia, we were certain of their finding a vessel to carry us to
Malta, if not home direct to England.

The French captain and officers treated us very kindly, and the surgeon
paid the greatest attention to the wounded; but though I have been on
board many a man-of-war since, I must say that I never have seen one in
a worse state of discipline.  One-half of the officers did not know
their duty, and the other half did not do it; and the men did just what
they liked.  They smoked and sang and danced the best part of the day,
while the officers played the fiddle or the guitar, or gambled with
cards and dice, and very often danced and smoked with the men, which at
all events was not the way to gain their respect.  The captain was a
very gentlemanly man, but had not been to sea since the war, and could
not then have known much about a ship, so he did nothing to keep things
right, and the great wonder to us was how he had managed not to cast her
away long before we got on board her.

We had no reason to complain.  Both the officers and men treated us very
kindly, and were thoroughly good-natured.  Since those days, too, a very
great change has taken place in the French navy.  Their officers are, as
a rule, very gentlemanly men, and the crews are as well disciplined as
in our own service--indeed, should we unhappily again come to blows, we
shall find them the most formidable enemies we have ever encountered.

We arrived at Smyrna without any adventure worthy of note.  Just as we
entered the port, the _Ellen_ brig, belonging to Messrs. Dickson,
Waddilove, and Burk, the owners of the _Kite_, came in also, and we at
once went on board her.  Captain Mathews was her master; he was one of
the oldest and most trusted captains of the firm, and acted as a sort of
agent for them at foreign ports.  Whatever he ordered was to be done.
He could send their vessels wherever he thought best, and had full
control, especially over the apprentices.  Thus Charley, La Motte, and I
at once found ourselves under his command.  He was a good-natured, kind
sort of a man, therefore I had no reason to complain.  We found lying
there another brig belonging to the same owners.  She was called the
_Fate_.  It was the intention of Captain Tooke to return home in the
_Ellen_, and to take us three apprentices with him, while of course the
rest of the men would be left to shift for themselves; but there is a
true saying that man proposes, but God disposes.

We soon recovered from our fatigues and hardships, and got into fine
health and spirits.  The crews of the two brigs were allowed a
considerable amount of liberty, and did not fail to take advantage of
it.  Altogether we had a good deal of fun on shore.  Charley and I were
generally together.  We had not much money between us, but we contrived
to muster enough to hire a horse now and then; and as we could not
afford to have one a-piece, we used to choose a long-backed old nag,
which carried us both, and off we set in high glee into the country.
The grave old Turks looked on with astonishment, and called us mad
Giaours, or some such name; and the little boys used to throw stones at
us, or spit as we passed, but we did not care for that; we only laughed
at them, and rode on.  Once we rode into a village, and seeing an
odd-looking building, we agreed that we should like to have a look
inside.  We accordingly tied up our long-backed horse to a tree, and as
there was no one near of whom to ask leave, in we walked.  It was a
building with a high dome, and lamps burning, which hung down from the
ceiling, and curtains, but there was not much to see, after all.
Presently some old gentlemen in odd dresses appeared at the further end,
and as soon as they saw us standing and looking as if we did not think
much of the place, they made towards us with furious gestures, so we
agreed that the sooner we took our departure the better.  When we turned
to run, they came on still faster, and as we bolted out of the mosque--
for so we found the building was called--they almost caught us.  We ran
to our horse; while Charley leaped on his back, I cast off the tow-rope,
and then he caught my hand and helped me up behind him, and away we
galloped as hard as we could go through the village.  The old gentlemen
could not run fast enough to overtake us, but they sang out at the top
of their voices to some men in the street, and they called out to
others, and very soon we had the whole population after us with sticks
in their hands, heaving stones at our heads, and shouting and shrieking
at us.  Luckily the hubbub frightened the old horse, and he went faster
than he had done for many a day, and amid the barking of dogs, the
shouts of boys, the crying of children, and the shrieking of women, we
made our escape from the inhospitable community.  I had a good thick
stick with which I belaboured the poor beast to urge him onward.  After
some time the Turks, seeing that they could not overtake us, gave up the
chase, and we agreed that we had better not enter into their village
till they had forgotten all about the circumstance.  When we got on
board, we were told that we were very fortunate to have escaped with our
lives, as many Englishmen had been killed by the Turks for a similar act
of folly.

Two days after this, one of the _Ellen's_ men came on board, complaining
of being very ill.  In a short time another said he felt very queer, and
both of them lay down on their chests and could eat no food or keep
their heads up.  Before long, Captain Mathews came below, and finding
that they both had something seriously the matter with them, sent on
shore for an English doctor who resided at the place.  After some time
the doctor came, and told the men to turn up their shirt-sleeves and to
show him their arms.

"I thought so," said he, turning to the captain; "it is my unpleasant
duty to tell you that you have got the plague on board.  We have it bad
enough on shore."

I thought the captain would have fallen when he heard the news.  "The
plague!" he gasped out.  "What is to be done, doctor?"

"Send the men on shore; purify your ship, and get to sea as soon as you
can," was the answer.

But the plague is a conqueror not easily put down.  Before night two
more men were seized, and the two first were corpses.  The captain of
the _Fate_ heard of what had happened, and sent his boats alongside to
inquire how we were doing, but with strict orders that no one should
come on board.  No boat came the next day; the plague had paid her a
visit, and three of the crew were corpses.  The moans and shrieks of the
poor fellows were very dreadful when the fever got to its height.  One
moment they might have been seen walking the deck in high health and
spirits, and the next they were down with the malady and utterly unable
to move.  Sometimes three or four hours finished their sufferings, and
the instant the breath was out of their bodies we were obliged to heave
them overboard.  One after the other, the greater part of the crews of
the two brigs sickened and died.  We three apprentices had escaped, and
so had our captain and Mr Cole.  The mate said he was not afraid of the
plague or any other complaint, as he had got something which would
always keep it away.  Charley Iffley and I frequently asked him what it
was.  It was a stuff in a bottle which he used to take with his grog,
and we suspected that he took it as an excuse for an extra glass of
spirits.  One cause why he escaped catching the plague was, that he
never was afraid of it,--either he trusted to his specific, or felt sure
that he should not catch it; also, he never went on shore among the
dirty parts of the town the men had frequented, and also lived separate
from them on board.

At length my companion Charley got ill.  We lads had been removed to
some temporary berths, put up in the hold, where we could have more air
than forward.  One day after I had gone on shore with the captain to
bring off the doctor, not finding Charley on deck, I went down to look
for him.  I found him in the berth tumbling about in bed and his eyes
staring wildly.

"Oh, Will!  I am going to die, and there's one thing weighs so heavy on
my mind that I cannot die easy till I tell it to you!" he exclaimed, in
a tone of anguish.  "Just for my own pleasure I persuaded you to come to
sea, and ever since you have had nothing but danger and trouble.  You'll
forgive me, won't you?  That's what I want to know."

I told him, of course, that I forgave him heartily; indeed, that I had
never accused him of being the cause of the sufferings which I had
endured, in common with him and others.  Then I told him that he must
not fancy that he was going to die just because he felt a little ill,
and that as the doctor was on board I would go and fetch him at once.

The doctor came immediately, and, after examining him, applied some very
strong remedies.  I followed him on deck to inquire whether Charley
really had the plague.  "No doubt about it," was his reply; "but if he
drops into a sound sleep, I think he may throw it off without further
evil consequences."

Anxiously I watched at the side of poor Charley's bed.  He talked a
little--then was silent--and I found that he slept.  I did not dare to
leave his side lest any one should come into the berth and awake him.
Hour after hour I waited, till at last I sank back on the chest on which
I was sitting and fell fast asleep.  When I awoke the sun was shining
down through the main hatchway into the berth.  I heard Charley's voice.
It was low but quiet.

"I am quite well now, Will," he said.  "If the doctor, when he comes,
will let me get up, I think I could go about my duty without
difficulty."

I was very glad to hear him speak in that way, but I told him that his
strength had not returned, and that he must remain quiet for a day or
two.  From that moment, however, he got rapidly better, and in a week
was almost as well as ever.  He was the last person seized with the
complaint on board the two brigs.  On board the _Fate_, the master, and
mates, and half the crew died; and had not we and the other survivors of
the _Kite's_ crew arrived at Smyrna, it would have been difficult to
find hands to take her to sea.  Captain Mathews, however, directed
Captain Tooke to take command of her, and sent Mr Cole as mate, with
Charley Iffley and me, while most of our men shipped on board her.  I
thought that we were to go home, but I found that my summer cruise was
to be a very much longer affair than I had expected.  Had I gone home
then, I think that I should have followed my kind grandmother's wishes
and given up the sea.  Instead, however, of returning to England, the
brig was employed running from place to place, wherever she could secure
a freight.  In that way I visited nearly every part of the coast of the
Mediterranean.  Sometimes we went up the Adriatic; then across to
Alexandria; then to some port in Greece, or to one in Italy; then up to
Constantinople, and away over to the ports on the northern coast of
Africa.  I saw a number of strange people and strange sights, but have
not now time to describe them.

I wrote home several times to my grandmother and aunt, but, as I was
always moving about, I got no answers.  I thought very likely that my
letters or their replies had been wrongly directed; still I began to
grow very anxious to hear what had become of the only two relatives I
had on earth, and whom alone I had really learned to love.  After I had
been out about a year I asked leave, if I could find the chance to go
home.  The captain on this laughed at me, and reminded me that
apprentices were not their own masters, and that I must make up my mind
to stay where I was till the owners wanted the brig home.

Three years passed away so rapidly that I was astonished to find how
long I had been out in those seas.  During all that time no accident had
happened, and I began to hope that I was not going to suffer any further
misfortunes in consequence of my rash oath.  I expressed my feelings to
Charley Iffley.  He laughed at me, and said that had nothing to do with
the matter, that there was no great harm in what I had said, and that,
consequently, I could not expect to be punished for it.  I thought
differently.  I knew that there was harm, and felt that I might justly
be punished.  At first, after Charley had recovered from the plague, he
appeared to have become a thoughtful and serious character, but
unhappily he very soon fell off again, and was now as reckless as ever.
At length the order came for us to return home.  Merrily we tramped
round at the capstan bars to a jolly song, as we got in our anchor for
the last time, and made sail from the port of Leghorn.  We passed the
Straits of Gibraltar, and with a smooth sea and southerly wind we had a
quick run to the Land's End, while our crew sang--

  "To England we with favouring gale
  Our gallant ship up Channel steer;
  While running under easy sail,
  The snow-white western cliffs appear."



CHAPTER FOUR.

COME IN SIGHT OF OLD ENGLAND--MANY A SLIP BETWEEN THE CUP AND THE LIP--
THE THOUGHTS OF HOME--EFFECTS OF DRUNKENNESS--BREAKERS AHEAD--SHIP ON
SHORE--SAVED IN A BOAT--THE SCILLY ISLES--ADVANTAGE OF LOSING MY SHOES--
BOAT LOST--I AM AGAIN PRESERVED--A NIGHT IN A CAVE--GO IN SEARCH OF
ASSISTANCE--HOSPITABLE RECEPTION IN THE ISLAND--THE OLD MATE'S DEATH--
SAIL FOR PLYMOUTH--SPRING A LEAK--LOSS OF THE ELLEN--THE WAVE-TOSSED
RAFT--DEATH OF OUR COMPANIONS.

We made the Land's End one morning in the middle of March, when a strong
north-easterly gale sprung up in our teeth, and threatened to drive us
back again into the middle of the Atlantic.  After the bright sunny
skies and blue waters of the South, how cold and bleak and uninviting
looked our native land!  But yet most of us had friends and relations
whom we hoped to see, and whom we believed would welcome us with warm
hearts and kindly greetings; and we pictured to ourselves the green
fields, and the shady woods, and the neat cottages, and picturesque
lanes to be found inside those rocky barriers, and we longed to be on
shore.  The captain was as eager as any of us to reach home; so, the
brig being close-hauled, with two reefs in her topsails, we endeavoured
to beat up so as to get close under the land in Mount's Bay.  It was a
long business, though--tack and tack--no rest and wet jackets for all of
us; but what cared we for that?  We had an important object to gain.
Old England, our native land, was to windward.  There we hoped to find
rest from our toils for a season; there each man hoped to find what in
his imagination he had pictured would bring him pleasure, or happiness,
or satisfaction of some sort.  I've often thought how strange it is,
that though men will toil, and labour, and undergo all sorts of
hardships, to obtain some worldly advantage, some fancied fleeting good,
and to avoid some slight ill or inconvenience, how little trouble do
they take to obtain perfect happiness--eternal rest--and to avoid the
most terrific, the most lamentable of evils, the being cast out for ever
from the presence of the great, the glorious Creator of the universe, to
dwell with the spirits of the lost.

I gave a short account of Captain Tooke and Mr Cole, as they appeared
to me when I first joined the unfortunate _Kite_.  They had in no way
altered.  The captain was the same bold, daring seaman as ever, without
any religious principle to guide him; and though his heart was not
altogether hard or unkind, his manners were rough and overbearing, and
he was often harsh and unjust to those below him.  I have met numbers of
merchant masters just like him from the same cause.  They are sent early
to sea, without any proper training, and without any right principles to
guide them.  If they are sharp, clever lads, they soon are made mates,
and before they have learned to command themselves they are placed in
command over others.  In most instances, their fathers, or relatives, or
friends are masters or owners of vessels, and are in a hurry to get them
employed.  The vessels are insured, so that if, through their
carelessness or ignorance, the vessels are cast away, that matters
little, they consider.  If the crew are lost, that is the fate of
sailors.  If the master escapes, they can easily get him a new vessel;
and as he has learned a lesson of caution, he will be all the better
master for some time to come till the vessel is worn out, and then there
will be no great harm if she is lost also.  I speak of things as they
were in my day.  I am glad to say that a very great improvement has
taken place of late years.

Our old mate held the master in great awe and respect.  This was
fortunate, as it generally kept him sober; still the old man never lost
an opportunity of getting hold of his favourite liquor, and he would
seldom leave the bottle while a drop remained.  However, he generally
contrived to get tipsy in harbour just before he was going to bed, so
that he could turn in and sleep off the effects; and when now and then
he was overtaken at sea, the men knew how to manage him; and, as he was
good-natured and indulgent, they generally contrived to conceal his
state and save him from the anger of the captain.  Something of this
sort had occurred the very day we made the land.  While the captain was
on deck, he had gone into the cabin, where, in an open locker, he had
discovered two bottle of rum.  It was too tempting a prize not to be
seized, and he carried off both the bottles to his own cabin, carefully
closing the locker.  The captain did not discover his loss.  The old man
went on deck, but soon making an excuse to go below, broached one of the
bottles.  He had made some progress through it before he wag recalled on
deck, and the condition on which he was verging did not then appear.
The brig was kept beating away across the seas, the wind shifting about
and every now and then giving us a slant which enabled us to creep up
closer to the land.  We continued gaining inch by inch, showing the
advantage of perseverance, till just about nightfall we got fairly into
Mount's Bay.  We thought ourselves very fortunate in so doing, for just
then a strong breeze which had before been blowing grew into a downright
heavy gale, against which we could not possibly have contended.  It
seemed, however, to be veering round more to the northward, and the
captain, hoping that it would come round sufficiently to the westward of
north to enable us to stand up Channel, instead of running in and
bringing the ship to an anchor, determined to keep her standing off and
on the land during the night, that he might be enabled to take immediate
advantage of any change which might occur.

As he had been on deck for many hours, he went at last below, leaving
the brig in charge of the mate.  Now the old man found the weather cold,
and bethought him of his bottles of rum.  He knew the importance of
keeping sober on such an occasion especially, but he thought that a
little more rum would do him no harm, and would make him comfortable, at
all events.  He did not like to send for a bottle, so he went below
himself to fetch it.  It was his business to keep a constant watch on
the compass, so as to observe any change of wind.  He was not long gone
below, that I remember.  When he came on deck, he brought a glass and a
bottle, but he had brought the full bottle instead of the half-emptied
one.  He asked Charley to bring him a can of hot water.  Of course the
fire had long been out, and there was none at that hour of the night.
He stowed his glass and bottle away in a pigeon-hole under the
companion-hatch, but every time he took a turn on deck he went back to
it and had a taste of the liquor.  He very soon forgot that he had put
no water to it.  This went on for some time till he sat himself down and
forgot another thing--that was, that he was in charge of a vessel on a
dark night, with a heavy gale blowing, and close in on a dangerous
coast.  We had gone about several miles without any difficulty, when, as
we were once more standing in for the shore, a squall heavier than any
we had yet experienced struck the vessel and laid her over almost on her
beam-ends.  At that moment the captain rushed on deck with the look of a
half-frantic man.  He cast one hurried glance forward.  "About ship!
about ship! down with the helm!" he shrieked out in a voice of terrific
loudness.

"All right--no fear, cap'en," cried the old mate, staggering up to him.
"I've taken very good care of the barkie."

At that instant a loud, grating, crushing sound was heard, and the brig
seemed to be about to spring over some obstacle in her way.  Then she
stopped.  Loud cries of horror arose from all hands, and the watch below
rushed on deck.  All knew full well what had occurred.  The brig was on
the rocks, and the sea, in dark masses with snowy crests, came roaring
up around us, threatening us with instant destruction.  What reply the
captain made to the old man I dare not repeat.  Before I thought of
anything else, I remembered my own rash oath.  "Am I doomed to cause the
destruction of every vessel I sail aboard?"  I said to myself, with a
groan of anguish, and a voice within me seemed to reply, "Yes--that is
to be your fate; but leap overboard and end it, and you will disappoint
the malignity of the monarch of the tempest."  Happily the prayers my
good grandmother had taught me had not all been forgotten.  At that
moment I uttered a prayer for mercy and forgiveness, and I knew then for
certainty that the instigation had come from the evil one for the
purpose of destroying me body and soul.  "O God, have mercy on me; do
what is best," I cried.  Just then I was aroused by hearing the loud
voice of the captain ordering the crew to get out the long-boat.  I
hurried to lend a hand at the work.  It seemed, however, almost a
hopeless undertaking, so high ran the sea around us.  Fortunately the
masts still stood.  We got the tackles hooked on to the yards, and,
casting in oars and boat-hook and sails, hoisted away with a will.  The
boat swung clear of the side, and the moment she touched the water, the
old mate, with Charley and I, and the greater number of the men, leaped
into her.  We were expecting the captain and the rest of the crew to
follow, when a heavy sea, with a terrific roar, came rolling up towards
us.  We heard shrieks and cries for help from our shipmates.  Both the
masts went by the board, the boat narrowly escaping being crushed by the
mainmast, and the brig instantly began to break up.  We got out our
oars, and pulled back the distance we had drifted, shouting out to the
captain, and to any who might have remained on board, but no reply
reached us.  Again and again we shouted louder than ever, still there
was no response.  The old mate sat like one stupefied; but the
catastrophe his neglect had caused had had the effect of sobering him.
One of the men who was more intelligent than the rest, and often had
charge of the deck at sea in the place of a second mate, said that he
thought we had struck on the Rundle Stone, which is near the shore,
between Mount's Bay and the Land's End, though we ought to have been a
long way to the eastward of it.

We had hard work to keep our own near the wreck; but still we did not
like to pull away while there was a chance of picking up any of those
who might have remained on board.  We did our best to keep our eyes on
it through the darkness, with the wind and rain and spray dashing in our
faces.  Another huge sea came rolling on.  The crashing and tearing of
the timbers reached our ears, and the water which washed round us was
covered with fragments of the wreck, among which we ran a great risk of
having the boat stove in; but no voice was heard, nor could we see any
one clinging to them.  We had now to abandon all hope of saving any more
of our unfortunate shipmates, and had to think of our own safety.  Just
as we had come to this resolve, another sea rolled towards the wreck,
and when it passed over not a fragment of her remained hanging together.
We were in a sad plight.  None of us had saved more than the clothes we
had on our backs, and some of the watch below had not had time even to
put on all theirs.  In getting into the boat I had lost my shoes, which
I thought a great misfortune, as my feet felt very cold, and I fancied
when I got on shore that I should not be able to walk.  We bent manfully
to our oars, and tried to pull in for the shore; but the gale came down
stronger than ever on us, and we could not help being conscious that at
all events we were making very little way.  Still we persevered.  We
hoped there might be a lull--indeed, we had nothing else to do but to
pull on.  Bitter, however, was the disappointment which awaited us when
the morning broke, and we looked out eagerly for the land.  Instead of
being nearer we were much further off (six or seven miles at least), and
were still rapidly drifting away to sea.  The further we got off the
land, the greater danger there would be of the boat being swamped;
besides, we had saved no provisions, and we had the prospect of a
fearful death staring us in the face from hunger and thirst.  The old
mate had by this time been sufficiently aroused to comprehend clearly
the state of affairs.  As I have said, he was, when sober, a good
seaman, and thoroughly acquainted with the coast.  As day drew on, it
cleared a little, and looking round, he made out the Scilly Islands
directly to leeward of us.  He watched them earnestly for some time, and
throwing off his hat and putting back his grey hairs with his hand, he
sat upright, and exclaimed, "Never fear, my lads, we've got a good port
under our lee!  I know the passage through the channel leading to it.
Trust to me, and I'll carry you safely there."

Though after what had occurred we had no great confidence in him, yet as
none of us knew anything about the islands, we had his judgment and
experience alone to trust to.  So we watched our opportunity, and
bringing the boat's head carefully round, pulled in the direction he
pointed out.  A break in the clouds, through which the gun gleamed forth
glancing over the white foam-topped seas, showed us the land in bold
relief against the black sky.

"Ah! there's Saint Martin's and Saint Mary's Islands," observed the old
man.  "Ah!  I know them well.  Many's the time I've run between them up
Crow Sound.  Let's see--what's the time of day?  There will be plenty of
water over the bar.  We shall soon have a glimpse of the Crow rock, when
we get in with the land; and if only the Big Crow shows his head above
water, we may cross the bar without fear of breakers.  Once through it,
we shall soon be on shore at Grimsby, and there are several people I
know there who will give us all we can want to make us comfortable."

The Crow, to which old Cole alluded, is a somewhat curious rock at the
entrance of the Sound.  It has three heads, called the Great Crow, the
Little Crow, and the Crow Foot.  When the Great Crow is even with the
water's edge there will be twenty-one feet of water on the bar, when the
second point appears there will be sixteen, and when the Crow's Foot is
visible there will be ten feet only.  These are the sort of particulars
which a good coast pilot has to keep in his memory, with the appearance
of the numberless landmarks on the shore, and their distances one from
the other.

As we drew near the entrance of the Sound, through which if we passed we
hoped all our misfortunes would end, the weather came on to be very
thick again, so that we could scarcely see a dozen yards ahead.  Still
the mate seemed so sure of the passage that we steered on without fear.

"Are you certain, sir, that we are heading in for the right channel?"
asked Wilson, the man I before spoke of, looking round over his shoulder
at the mass of foam which he saw leaping up just ahead of us.  "Round
with her! round with her, lads!" he shouted, "this isn't the channel."

"All right, all right," persisted the old mate.  But it was all wrong.
A sea came roiling up, and hove us in among a mass of rocks over which
the breakers dashed with terrific fury.  In vain we endeavoured to pull
round.  Over went the boat, and we were all thrown here and there,
shrieking in vain for aid, among the foaming mass of broken waters.  I
struck out to keep my head above water if I could, and in another
instant found myself hove against a steep rock to which I clung with all
the strength of despair.  I had thought the loss of my shoes a great
misfortune.  I now found it the cause of my preservation.  Had not my
feet been naked, I never could have clung to the slippery rock, or freed
my legs from the tangled seaweed which clung round them.  I struggled
on--now a sea almost tore me off, and then I made a spring, and
scrambled and worked my way up, not daring to look back to watch the
following wave, or to observe what had become of my companions.  At
length I reached the top of the rock.  It seemed an age to me, but I
believe it was not a minute from the time I first grasped hold of the
rock till I was in comparative safety.  Then I looked round for my
companions in misfortune.  Dreadful was the sight which met my eyes.
There they were, still struggling in the waves--now touching some
slippery rock, and hoping to work their way on to where I was, and then
borne back again by the hungry sea.  In vain they struggled.  I could
afford them no help.  One by one, their heavy boots impeding all their
efforts, they sank down, and were hid to view beneath the waters.  Two
or three still remained alive, though at some little distance.  One I
recognised as our old mate, the cause of our disaster.  He had contrived
to kick off his shoes, and was swimming towards the rock.  Poor old man,
he struggled hard for life.  In a moment I forgot all the mischief he
had caused, and considered how I might help to save him.  Undoing my
neck-handkerchief, I fastened it to another I had in my pocket, and
secured the two to the sleeve of my jacket.  I watched him anxiously as
he drew near, crying out to encourage him.  Then I lowered the
handkerchiefs, and as a sea washed him up towards the rock he caught
hold of them, and with great care, lest we should both fall in, I helped
him up the side of the rock.  I had not time to say anything, for I saw
another person struggling in the water.  I was afraid that he would
never reach the rock, for his strength seemed almost exhausted.  I
shouted to him.  He looked up.  It was Charley Iffley.  I own that I was
now doubly anxious for his safety.  Just then an oar washed by him.  He
was just able to grasp it.  It enabled him to recover his strength, and
in a short time another sea drove him close up to the rock.  I hove the
end of my handkerchief to him, he caught it; and the old mate and I
leaning over, hauled him, almost exhausted, out of the reach of the sea.
We looked round.  We were the only survivors out of all the crew.  The
strong men had lost their lives.  The oldest and weakest, and the two
youngest, had alone been saved.  Whether we should ultimately escape
with our lives seemed, however, very doubtful.  There was barely space
enough for us to sit clear out of the wash of the sea; and should the
tide be rising we might be washed off.  We found, however, that the tide
was falling, and this restored our hopes of being saved.  As the tide
ebbed, the water got a good deal smoother, and the weather once more
clearing, we were able to consider our position and what was best to be
done.  We judged that we were, three-quarters of a mile from the island
of Saint Mary's, but we could make out no habitations, and we thought it
very probable night might come on before anybody would see us, while we
felt if we remained on the rock that we could scarcely hope to survive.

We were already benumbed with the cold, and almost perishing with
hunger.  "We must try and reach the island," said Mr Cole; "are you
inclined to try it, lads?"  We of course said we were.  He looked at his
watch, which being an old silver hunting one, was, in spite of the wet,
still going, and found that it was two o'clock.  "In another half hour
we must make the attempt," said he; "so, lads, prepare as best you can.
It won't be an easy job."  The time to wait seemed very long.  We
watched the tide ebbing, and rock after rock appearing.  At last he
said, "We cannot hope for a better opportunity than now.  I'll lead the
way.  Lend me a hand, lads, if I want it."

We promised him that we would, and slipping down the rock on the land
side a much greater distance than we had come up, we found our feet
touching the bottom.  There was no sea to speak of, so on we went pretty
confidently.  The old man advanced very cautiously, but Charley Iffley,
thinking that we might move faster, said he would go ahead.  He did, and
went head under also immediately afterwards.  He came up again directly,
and struck out towards the next rock.  We took to swimming at once, to
save the loss of breath, and all reached the next rock without
difficulty.  After resting a little, we started again.  We had no wish
to remain longer than we could help with a north-easterly gale blowing
on us in the month of March.  The cold, too, was very bitter.  Yet at
the time I fancy I scarcely thought about it.  Thus on we went,
sometimes wading, sometimes swimming, and sometimes scrambling along the
ledge which the receding water had left bare.  Often we had to assist
each other, and I believe none of us alone could have performed the
task.  Once Mr Cole was very nearly giving in, and twice Charley
declared he could not go on, and must stay on the rock where we were
resting till we could send him aid.  We soon showed him that the rock
would be covered long before assistance could reach him, and in another
instant he was as ready as either of us to proceed.  Once I almost gave
in, but my companions roused me up, and again I set forward with renewed
strength.

It was not, however, till six o'clock in the evening that we reached the
shore, and as we found ourselves on dry land we staggered up the beach,
and the old mate fell down on his knees, and in a way I did not expect
of him, thanked the Almighty for the mercy He had shown us.  It was a
wild, desolate place, with only high rocks about on every side, without
trees, and no roads that we could discover to guide us to any
habitation.  We went on a little way, and then the mate and Charley said
they could go no further.  I also felt my strength almost exhausted, but
I knew that it would not do for all of us to give in, so I roused myself
to exertion.  That I might try and learn our position before night
completely overtook us, I climbed up to the top of the highest rock I
could find and looked around me.  Not a habitation or a sign of one
could I discover, or a road or path of any sort,--while wild heath, or
sand, or rock stretched away on every side, looking cold and bleak as
well could be, in that dark, dreary March evening.  With this uncheering
information I found my way back to my companions.  We could not attempt
to move on in the dark, so we looked about for some place where we might
find shelter during the night.

"Oh, Will, I wish we had some food, though," said Charley; "I am dying
of hunger."

So was I, and before moving further I returned to the beach, and with my
knife cut off a number of shell-fish from the rocks, and filled my
pockets with them.  With this provision I returned to my companions, and
sat down by their side.  We ate a few, which much refreshed us, and
Charley said he could go on, but the old mate declared his inability to
move further.

Accordingly, Charley and I hunted about in every direction, and at last
came on a shallow cave on the lee side of a rock.  The sand inside was
dry, and after being exposed so long to the cold wind we thought the air
warm, so we helped the old man into it, and placed him in the warmest
and driest spot we could find out.  He did not seem to care about
eating, but complained bitterly of thirst.  Charley could no longer
move, so I went out to try and find some water.  As I was groping about,
almost giving up the search in despair, I felt my foot splash into a
puddle.  I knelt down.  It was clear, pure water, and I drank as much as
I required.  How grateful I felt!  I thought that I had never tasted a
more delicious draught.  I had saved my hat, and filling it from the
pool, I carried the water to my two companions.  We longed to be able to
light a fire, but we had in the first place no flint and steel to
produce a flame, so of course it was not worth while to search about for
fuel.  At last, finding I could do nothing else for the comfort of my
companions, I sat down beside them and opened some more of the
shell-fish, which we ate raw.  They served to stay our hunger, but I
cannot say that eaten raw, without vinegar, or pepper, or bread, they
were particularly palatable.

We had promise of a dreary night, and this was only the commencement.
The poor old mate was very ill.  Deprived of his usual stimulants, he
could badly support the cold and wet to which he had been so long
exposed.  He began to shiver all over, and complained of pains in every
part of his body.  Then he was silent, and would do little more than
groan terribly.  At last his mind began to wander; he did not know where
he was nor what had happened, and he talked of strange scenes which had
occurred long ago, and of people he had known in his youth.  I could not
help listening with much interest to what he said.  By it I made out
that he was by birth a gentleman; that he had gone to sea in the navy
with every prospect of rising in it, and that he had been in one or two
actions in which he had distinguished himself.  But a change came over
him.  He had begun by small degrees, just taking a nip now and then,
till he had become--and that very rapidly--a hard drinker.  From that
time all his prospects in life were blighted.  From some misconduct he
was dismissed the ship to which he belonged, and soon afterwards, for
similar behaviour, the navy itself.  Then he squandered away in vice and
sensual indulgence the whole of his patrimony, and at last went to sea
in the merchant service as the only means of obtaining support.

His career has been that of many young men who have begun life with as
fair prospects, and ruined them all from their own folly and imprudence.
Poor old man, when I heard all this, and feared that he was dying, I
could not help pitying him, and feeling still more sad when I thought
that the last act of his life was a strong evidence that he had in no
way reformed as he advanced in years.

At length he slept more quietly, and, overcome by weariness, I too fell
fast asleep.  I did not awake till the sun was up and glancing on the
tops of the rocks before our cave.  Charley awoke at the same time, and
began to rub his eyes and to wonder where he was.  The old mate was
awake.  There was a dull, cold look in his eye, and his brow was
wrinkled with pain.  He groaned when I spoke to him, but after a little
time he aroused himself and spoke.  He said that he could not move a
limb, much less walk; but he begged that Charley and I would try and
find our way to the nearest village and bring him assistance.

"Make haste, that's good lads," said he, in a trembling voice; "my days
are numbered, I fear; but I am not fit to die.  I don't want to die, and
I would give all I own to save my life."

I did not want any pressing.  I got up, and though my limbs were stiff,
after moving them about a little I found that I could walk.  Charley at
first thought that he could not move, but on making one or two trials he
discovered that he was able to accompany me.  So we set off together to
try and find our way to Grimsby, which the mate told as was the nearest
village he knew of.

After wandering about and missing our way, and having to sit down
frequently from weakness, we reached Grimsby.  Our appearance excited a
good deal of compassion among the people, who came out of their houses
to inquire about the wreck.  The chief man of the place was a Mr Adams;
he took us into his house and sent for shoes and clothing for us, and
had us washed, and dressed in fresh dry clothes, and put food before us.
When I told him about the old mate, he said that he knew the place, and
that he could not let us go back, but that he would send some men with a
litter who would bring him in much sooner than if we were to go for him.
He was as good as his word, for not long after we had done breakfast
Mr Cole appeared; he seemed very ill, but he was able to take a little
food, and drink some spirits and water.  He was put at once to bed, and
Mr Adams sent over to Saint Mary's, the chief town in the island, for a
doctor to see him.  The doctor came, and shook his head and said that he
saw very little prospect of his recovery.  All the time we remained at
Grimsby, we were treated with the greatest kindness.  We had the best of
everything, comfortable beds, and nothing to do.  Charley and I sat up
by turns by the side of the old man's bed.  He grew worse and worse; we
soon saw that his days were drawing to a close.

A week passed away, and still he lingered on.  I asked the doctor if he
did not think that he might recover.

"No; it is impossible," he answered.

"Does he know, sir, that he is going to die?"  I asked.

"Every man knows that such will be his lot, one day or other," he
replied, "though many try very hard to forget it."

"Shall I tell him, sir, what you think?" said I; for I could not bear
the idea of allowing the old man to go out of the world without any
preparation.

"It will do him no harm," said the doctor.  "If it would.  I could not
allow it.  My duty is to keep body and soul together as long at I can."

I thought even at the time that something more was to be done.  It was
not, however, till many years afterwards that I discovered it was far
more important to prepare the soul for quitting the body, than to detain
it a few hours or days longer in its mortal frame, with the risk of its
losing all the future happiness it is so capable of enjoying.  When I
went back to the old mate I told him that the doctor thought he was in a
very bad way, and that he would never be on his feet again.

"Well, Will," said he, "it's a hard case; but I've known men as ill as I
am get well again, and I don't know why I shouldn't recover."

"But if you don't recover,--and the doctor, who ought to know, thinks
you won't,--wouldn't it be well to prepare for death, sir?" said I
boldly; for, having made up my mind to speak, I was not going to be put
off it by any fear of consequences.  He was silent for a long time.

"I'll think about it," he said at last.

He little thought how short a time he had to think about it.  So it is
with a great number of people.  They'll tell you that they will not
think about dying, but think whether they will make preparation for
death; and they go on thinking, till death itself cuts the matter short,
and the right preparations are never made.  So it was with the poor old
mate.  He said that he had no friends,--no relations who would care to
hear of him,--and that he had no message to send to any one.  He
intended, however, to get well and to look after his own affairs.  In
the evening he got worse.  I suspected that he thought he was dying,
because he gave his watch to Mr Adams, who had been so kind to us, and
divided a few shillings he had in his pockets between Charley and me.
The next day he died.  Though I had no respect for him, I felt a blank
as if I had lost an old friend.  Charley and I saw the poor old man
buried, and then we agreed that it was time for us to be looking out for
a vessel to get back to our masters.

The next day a brig called the _Mary Jane_ put into the harbour, bound
round from Bridgewater to London.  Though I wanted to get to Plymouth to
see my grandmother and aunt, and Charley wished to go to Hull, to stay
with his widowed mother, as another chance might not occur for some
time, we shipped aboard her.  Before going we told Mr Adams the name of
the firm to which we were apprenticed, that he might recover from them
the sums he had expended on us; but he replied, that he had taken care
of us because it was right to succour the distressed, and that he
required no reward or repayment.  He was a good man, and I hope he
enjoys his reward.

The desire to see my only relations grew stronger every day, and I
thought how happy I should feel if I could but get landed at Plymouth,
to run up and take them by surprise.  This, however, could not be.  When
we reached London I found that the _Mary Jane_, as soon as she had
discharged her cargo, was to sail again for the westward; and as she
this time was to touch at Plymouth, so the captain said, I asked him to
give me a passage.  He replied, that as I had behaved very well while
with him he would, so I remained on board.  Here I parted from Charley,
who got a berth on board a vessel bound for Hull, where he wanted to go.
We sailed, and I hoped in a few days to have my long-wished-for desire
gratified.  When, however, we got abreast of the Isle of Wight, we met
with a strong south-westerly gale, which compelled us to run for shelter
to the Motherbank.  While lying there the captain received orders from
his owners not to touch at Plymouth, but to go on to Falmouth.  This was
a great disappointment to me.  Still I thought that I could easily get
back from Falmouth to Plymouth, so that it would be wiser to stick by
the ship.

The old brig was not much of a sailer, but still, after running through
the Needles, we had a quick passage till we got a little to the westward
of the Eddystone.  The captain, for some reason or other, expecting a
south-westerly breeze, had been giving the land a wide berth, when the
wind, instead of coming out of the south-west, blew suddenly with
terrific violence from the north-east.  The old tub of a brig did her
best to beat up towards the land, but without avail.  A squall took all
her sails out of her, and away we went driving helplessly before it, as
if we were in a hurry to get across the Atlantic.  Our master, Captain
Stunt, though a good seaman, was nothing of a navigator, and we could
scarcely tell even where we were driving to.  The vessel also was old,
and had seen a good deal of hard service.  Our condition, therefore, was
very unsatisfactory.  We had no quadrant on board, and if we had
possessed one there was no one to use it--indeed, it was many days
before the sun appeared, and all we knew was that, by the course we had
drifted and the rate we had gone, we were a considerable distance from
any land.  Still the captain hoped, when the weather moderated, to be
able to beat back and get hold of the Irish coast, as the phrase is.  At
length the wind lulled a little, and we once more made sail on the brig.
We got on pretty well for a few hours, when down came the gale once
more on us, and before we could shorten sail, a heavy sea struck the
vessel, and she was turned over on her beam-ends, a sea at the same time
knocking our boats to pieces and washing everything loose off the deck.
There she lay like a log, the water rushed into her hold, and every
moment we expected she would go down.  Terror was depicted on every
countenance.  The only person who remained cool and collected was the
old master.

"My lads, we must cut away the masts--there's no help for it!" he sang
out in a clear voice.  He himself appeared directly afterwards with an
axe in his hand, but it was some time before others could be found.  The
first thing was to cut away the lee rigging and then the weather, that
the masts might fall clear of the hull.  A few well-directed strokes cut
nearly through them, and with a crash the remaining part broke off, and
the vessel lay a dismasted hull amid the high-leaping and foaming waves.
She righted, however, and we had now to hope that, if she weathered out
the gale, some vessel might fall in with us and tow the brig into
harbour, or at all events take us off the wreck.  The next thing to be
done was to rig the pumps to get the vessel clear of the water which had
washed into her.  We all pumped away with a will, for we knew that our
lives depended on our exertions.  Pump as hard as we could, however, we
found that we made no progress in clearing the wreck of water.  At last
the mate went down to ascertain the cause of this.  In a few minutes he
rushed on deck with a look of dismay.

"What's the matter, Ellis?" asked the captain.

"It's all up with us, sir," answered the mate.  "A butt has started, and
it is my belief that the brig will not swim another half hour."

"Then let us get some grog aboard, and die like men," cried some of the
crew.

"Die like brutes, you mean, my lads!" exclaimed the old master.  "No,
no, we will have none of that.  Let us see what we can do to save our
lives.  What, do you call yourselves British seamen, and talk of giving
in like cowards!  Don't you know that there's `a sweet little cherub
that sits up aloft' to take care of the life of poor Jack.  That means
that God Almighty watches over us, and will take care of those who trust
in Him."

These remarks from the old man had a good deal of effect with the
sailors.  "What is it you want us to do, sir?" they asked.

"Why, build a raft, my lads, and see if it won't float us."  Encouraged
by the spirited old man, we all set to work with a will.  With our axes
some of us cut up the deck and bulwarks, and collected all the remaining
spars, while the rest lashed them together.  The mate and a boy were
employed meantime in collecting all the provisions and stores he could
get at and in stowing them away in a couple of chests, which formed the
centre of our raft.  In a very short time nearly everything was ready.
The raft was, however, so large that we could not attempt to launch it,
but we hoped that it would float when the brig sank under us.  We had
all been so busy that we had not observed how rapidly the vessel was
sinking.  Suddenly the old master gave a loud shout, "Now, my lads, now,
my lads! to the raft, to the raft!"  Some of the men had gone forward to
get hold of their clothes or some money, or anything they could find,
against his advice.  Some of them were seen at this moment leisurely
coming up the fore-hatchway.  Even when he shouted to them they did not
hurry themselves, any more than sinners are apt to do when warned by
their faithful pastors to flee from the wrath to come.  Mr Ellis and I,
with two other men, were near him at the time.  We leaped on to the raft
as he spoke, and seizing some oars which had been placed on it, we stood
ready to shove it clear of the wreck as she sank.  The vessel gave a
plunge forward.  The other men on deck rushed aft with frantic haste,
but the waters were around them before they could catch hold of the
raft.  The look of horror on their countenances I cannot even now
forget.  One was a little before the others: he clutched at one of the
oars.  With our united strength we hauled him in.  Then down went the
brig.  The cry of our companions was quickly stifled.  The raft rocked
to and fro as the wild seas tossed up fiercely round us.  Now one came
sweeping on.  "Hold on! hold on!" shouted the old master.  One of our
number did not attend to him.  The sea passed over the raft, almost
blinding us When we looked up, the man was gone.  Five of us only
remained alive.  How soon more of our number might be summoned from the
world, who could tell?  I dare not dwell on the dreadful thoughts which
passed through my mind.  Was I truly under the ban of Heaven?  Was I to
prove the destruction of every vessel I sailed aboard?  This was the
fourth time I had been shipwrecked.  "Oh, my oath! my oath!"  I
ejaculated.  "Could I but retract it!  But how is that to be done?"
Uttered once, there it must remain engraven in the book of heaven.  As I
lay on that sea-tossed raft, in the middle of the Atlantic, I pondered
deeply of those things in my own wild untutored way.  Did but men
remember always that every word they utter, every thought to which they
give expression, is entered on a page never to be erased till the day of
judgment, how would it make them put a bridle on their tongues, how
should it make them watch over every wandering emotion of their minds,
and pray always for guidance and direction before they venture to speak!

For several days the gale continued.  We scarcely ventured to move for
fear of being washed away.  Now the raft rose on the side of a sea--now
rocked on its summit--now sunk down into the trough, but still was
preserved from upsetting--had which event occurred, we must have been
inevitably lost.  We had food in the chests, but we had little
inclination to taste it.  Water was our great want.  Our supply was very
scanty.  By the master's urgent advice, we took only sufficient at a
time to moisten our tongues.  For a few days we bore this with patience.
Then the wind went down, and the sea grew calm, and the hot sun came
out and struck down on our unprotected heads.  The weather grew hotter
and hotter.  The men declared they could stand it no longer.  One seized
the cask of water, and before the master could prevent him, took a huge
draught: then the others followed his example.  The mate for some time
withstood the temptation, but at length he yielded to it.

"Are we to die without a prospect of prolonging existence, because these
men consume all the water?"  I said to myself, and taking the cask, drew
enough to quench my thirst.  I offered it to the master.  "Come, sir,"
said I, "take the water, it may revive you, and perhaps to-morrow help
may come."

He could not withstand the appeal.  Perhaps some men might have done so,
from a high sense of the necessity of adhering to a resolution once
formed.  In two days we had not a drop of water left.  Then came horrors
unspeakable.  Madness seized the poor mate.  Before he could be
restrained, he leaped from the raft and sunk below the waves.  The other
two men sickened.  First one, then the other died.  The captain, though
the oldest of all, kept his senses and his strength.  He was a calm,
even-tempered, abstemious man.  Still, as he sat on the chest in the
middle of the raft, of which he and I were the only occupants, he spoke
encouragingly and hopefully to me.  I listened, but could scarcely
reply.  I felt a sickness overcoming me.  I thought death was
approaching.  I sank down at his feet with a total unconsciousness of my
miserable condition.



CHAPTER FIVE.

AGAIN PRESERVED--CHARLEY'S ACCOUNT OF HIMSELF--A NIGHT AT SEA--THE WEST
INDIES--A HURRICANE--SHIP ON FIRE--AGAIN ON A RAFT--LOOK OUT FOR HELP--
THE HAPPY RELIEF--THE BREAKING OUT OF WAR--PURSUED--ENDEAVOUR TO
ESCAPE--CAPTURED BY FRIENDS--THE MAN-OF-WAR--OUR MATE PRESSED--DUTY ON
BOARD--MR. MERTON'S GALLANTRY--OLD ENGLAND AT LAST--A BITTER
DISAPPOINTMENT--FRIENDS GONE--MISS RUNDLE--SHE TELLS ME WHAT HAS BECOME
OF AUNT BRETTA--VISIT MY GRANDMOTHER'S GRAVE.

My last thoughts had been, before I lost all consciousness, that death
was about to put an end to my sufferings.  I remember then hearing a
rush of waters--a confused sound--rattling of blocks--human voices--
cries and shrieks.  I looked up--it was night.  A dark object was
lowering above my head.  I fancied it was a huge black rock, and that it
was going to fall down and crush me.  "To what strange shore have we
drifted?"  I thought.  I cried out with terror.  "Never fear, my lad,"
said a voice.  "It's all right."  I found myself gently lifted up in the
arms of a person, and when I next opened my eyes, I discovered that I
was on the deck of a large ship and several people standing round me.
The light of a lantern fell on the face of one of them.  I looked hard
at the person.  Was it only fancy?  I was certain that it was the
countenance of Charley Iffley.  I pronounced his name.  He had not
before recognised me.

"Why, Will Weatherhelm, how did you come out here?" he exclaimed, in a
tone of surprise.  But a gentleman, whom I found to be doctor, told him
that he must not now talk to me, and that he would find out all about it
by and by.

I was then carried below, and placed in a berth, and very kindly
treated.  In a few days I was sufficiently recovered to go on deck.  I
was glad to see old Captain Stunt there also, looking well and fresh.  I
found that we were on board a large West India trader, the _Montezuma_,
belonging to the firm to which I was apprenticed, Messrs. Dickson,
Waddilove, and Buck.  I little knew what additional cause for gratitude
we had for our escape, for the ship coming on the raft at night while
Mr Stunt was asleep, we were not observed till she actually grazed by
it.  The noise awoke him, when he shouted out, and the ship being
close-hauled, and having little way, was immediately luffed up, and
without difficulty we were taken on board.

"Well, Charley, how did you come to be on board the _Montezuma_?"  I
asked.

"That question is very simply answered," said he.  "When I got home I
found that my uncles and aunts and all my first cousins looked upon me
as a very troublesome visitor, and hinted that the sooner I took myself
off to sea again the better.  It is not comfortable to feel that
everybody is giving one the cold shoulder, so I begged to have a new
kit, and offered to look out for a ship.  It was wonderful how willingly
everybody worked, and how soon my outfit was ready.  My eldest uncle
hurried off to Mr Dickson, and as they were just sending the
_Montezuma_ to sea, and had room for an apprentice, I was immediately
sent on board, and here I am.  Now you know all about me.  I thought I
was going to change and become a better character.  I was sorry for many
things I had done, and if my relations had treated me kindly at first, I
think they would have found me very different to what I was.  How ever,
give a dog a bad name and it sticks to him like pitch."

"But I am afraid, Charley, from what you have told me, that you gave
yourself the bad name," said I.  "You should not blame others."

"I do not," he answered.  "All I blame them for is, that they did not
soften their hearts toward me, and try to reform me.  They might have
done it, and I could have loved some of them tenderly; but others are
harsh, stiff, cold, very good people, who have no sympathy for any who
do not think like themselves, and make no allowances for the follies and
weaknesses of those who have not had the advantages they have enjoyed."
And Charley put his head between his hands and burst into tears.

I was very glad to see this.  It made me like him more than I had ever
before done.  I have since often thought how very different many young
people would turn out if they were spoken to by their elders with
gentleness and kindness--if sympathy was shown them, and if their faults
were clearly pointed out.

Our owners were very respectable people, and understood their business,
so they were generally well served.  Captain Horner, of the _Montezuma_,
was a good sailor.  The crew consequently looked up to him, though he
kept himself aloof from them.  He was what the world calls a very good
sort of man, but as to his religion and morals I was not able to form an
opinion.  It may seem strange that I, a young apprentice, should have
thought at all on the subject.  Perhaps, if those in command knew how
completely their conduct and behaviour are canvassed by those under
them, they would behave very differently to what they do.  Our second
mate, Josias Merton by name, was a man worthy of remark.  He was a very
steady, serious-minded person, and yet full of life and fun.  He prided
himself on his knowledge of his profession in all its details.  His
heart was kind and gentle, and he was at the same time brave and
determined, active and prompt in action.  He never undertook what he did
not believe, after due consideration, he could accomplish, and therefore
seldom failed in what he undertook.  Both Charley and I owed him much,
for he spared no pains to improve us and to instruct us in our
profession.

As soon as I was well, I was placed in a watch and had begun to know and
to do my duty.  The Atlantic afforded me the sight of many objects to
which I had been unaccustomed in the Mediterranean.  I remember one
night coming on deck, and after I had looked to set what sail was set,
and how the ship was steering, I cast my eyes over the calm ocean.  It
was very dark.  There was no moon, and clouds obscured the stars.  I
gazed with amazement.  The whole surface of the deep, far as the eye
could reach, was lighted with brilliant flashes.  I bent over the side.
The sea was alive with fish of every size and shape.  Some were leaping
up, ever and anon, out of the water; others were chasing their smaller
brethren through it; others, again, rolled over in it, or lay floating
idly near, as if looking up with their bright eyes to watch the ship,
the invader of their liquid home.  People talk of the lack-lustre of a
fish's eye.  They are acquainted only with a dead fish.  Did they ever
remark the keen, bright, diabolical eye of a shark watching for his
expected victim?  I know nothing in nature more piercing, more
dread-inspiring.  Here were collected sharks, and pilot-fish, and
albicores, bonettas, dolphins, flying-fish, and numberless others, for
which old Mr Stunt, to whom I applied, could give me no name.  The very
depths of the ocean seemed to have sent forth all their inhabitants to
watch our proceedings.

"I suppose that it is the shining copper on the ship's bottom attracts
them," said the old man.  "They take it to be some big light, I
conclude."  Whether he was right or not I have never since heard any one
give an opinion.

The first place at which we touched was Bridgetown, in the island of
Barbadoes.  I thought the Bay of Carlisle, with the capital Bridgetown
built round its shores, and the fertile valleys, and rich fields of
sugar-cane, altogether a very lovely spot.  The West India Islands are
divided into what are called the Windward and Leeward Islands.  The
wind, it must be understood, blows for nine months of the year from the
east.  The most eastern islands are therefore called the Windward
Islands, and those in the western group the Leeward Islands.  Of all the
Caribbean Islands, Barbadoes is the most windward, and the Havannah the
most leeward.  We had to land cargo and passengers, and to take in cargo
at several islands.  We commenced, therefore, at the windward ones.  In
that way I became acquainted with a considerable portion of the West
India Islands, and very beautiful places I saw on them.  The _Montezuma_
was not long in getting a full cargo, and then she prepared to return
home.  The last place at which we touched was Kingston in Jamaica.  At
length, I thought to myself, I shall once more see Old England, and
satisfy my kind grandmother and Aunt Bretta that I am still alive.  I
hope that I may leave this vessel without her being shipwrecked, as has
been the fate of every one I have yet been on board.  Just as this idea
had crossed my mind the captain sent for me, and said that he was going
to leave Mr Merton in charge of a small schooner, which was to be
employed in running between the different islands to collect cargo to be
ready for the return of the ship, and that he wished me to remain.

"You will be soon out of your indentures, and if you behave well, as I
have no doubt you will, I will promise you a mate's berth," he added.

This was indeed more than I could have expected; and though I was
disappointed in not going home, I thanked the captain very much for his
good opinion of me and kind intentions, and accepted his offer.  The
_Montezuma_ sailed for England, and I found myself forming one of the
crew of the _Grogo_ schooner.  We had a very pleasant life of it,
because the black slaves did all the hard work, taking in and
discharging cargo, and bringing water and wood off to us.

I might fill pages with descriptions of the curious trees and plants and
animals I saw in the West Indies.  There is one, however, which I must
describe.  I was asking Mr Merton one day the meaning of the name of
our schooner.  He laughed, and said that grogo is the name of a big
maggot which is found in the Cockarito palm or cabbage tree.  This
maggot is the grub of a large black beetle.  It grows to the length of
four inches, and is as thick as a man's thumb.  Though its appearance is
not very attractive, it is considered a delicious treat by people in the
West Indies, when well dressed, and they declare that it has the flavour
of all the spices of the East.  These maggots are only found in such
cabbages as are in a state of decay.  The Cockarito palm often reaches
fifty feet in height.  In the very top is found the most delicate
cabbage enclosed in a green husk, composed of several skins.  These are
peeled off, until the white cabbage appears in long thin flakes, which
taste very like the kernel of a nut.  The heart is the most delicate,
and, being sweet and crisp, is often used as a salad.  The outside when
boiled is considered far superior to any European cabbage.  One of the
most important trees in the West Indies is the plantain tree.  It grows
to the height of about twenty feet, and throws out its leaves from the
top of the stem so as to look something like an umbrella.  The leaves
when fresh are of a shining sea-green colour, and have the appearance of
rich satin.  When the young shoots come out, they split and hang down in
tatters.  From the top grows a strong stalk about three feet long, which
bends down with the weight of its purple fruit, each of which is in
shape like a calf's heart--a considerable number form one bunch.  Each
tree produces but one bunch at a time.  The plantain, when ripe, forms a
delicious fruit, and when boiled or roasted, it is used instead of
potatoes.  It forms a principal portion of the food of the negroes.  The
cassava forms another important article of the food of the blacks.  The
plant grows about four feet high; the stem is of a grey colour, and
divides near its top into several green branches, from which spring red
stalks with large leaves.  There are two species, the sweet and bitter
cassava.  The bitter is excessively poisonous till exposed to the heat
of fire.  The root is like a coarse potato.  It is dried and then grated
on a grater formed by sharp pebbles stuck on a board, and the juice
which remains is then pressed out by means of an elastic basket, into
which the grated root is stuffed.  The farina thus produced is made into
thin cakes and baked.  Tapioca is the finer portion of the farina.

I might, as I was saying, fill my pages with an account of the wonderful
productions of those fertile islands, of the value of which I do not
think even now my countrymen are fully aware.  One curious circumstance
I must mention in connection with them and my paternal country,
Shetland, though I did not hear it till very many years afterwards.  It
shows how intimately the interests of distant parts of the world are
united.  The slaves in the West Indies were supplied by their masters
with salt-fish, which fish were caught by the Shetlanders off their
coasts.  When the slaves were emancipated, they refused any longer to
eat the description of food which they had been compelled to consume
during their servitude, and the Shetland fish-dealers had not thought in
the meantime of looking out for fresh markets.  The consequence was,
they were ruined; the herring boats were laid up, and the fishermen had
to go south in search of employment.

However, that has nothing to do with my story.  The _Grogo_ was very
successful, and we were looking forward every day for the return of the
_Montezuma_.  I could not help telling Mr Merton one day of my rash
oath which I had made in the presence of my grandmother, and how I had
been wrecked in every vessel I had sailed in from the time I came to
sea.  He tried to reason me out of the belief that I was the cause of
the loss of the vessels.  He said the oath was wicked, there was no
doubt of that, but that others had lost their lives and some their
property, while I each time had suffered less than anybody else.  I saw
the strength of his reasoning, but still I was not convinced.  I felt
that I had deserved all the hardships I had endured, and I fully
expected to be wrecked again.  What followed may seem very strange.  All
I can do is to give events as they occurred.  Two days after this we lay
becalmed about ten miles from the land off Port Morant, to the eastward
of Kingston in Jamaica.  We had an old man of colour, who acted as pilot
and mate on board.  He had been below asleep.  At last he turned out of
his hot, stifling berth, and came on deck.  He looked round the horizon
on every side.

"Captain," said he, "I wish we were safe in port.  There's something bad
coming."

"What is it, Billy?" asked Mr Merton.

"A hurricane!" was the answer.

The hurricane came.  The spirit of the whirlwind rode triumphantly
through the air.  Earth and ocean felt his power; trees were torn up by
the roots; houses were overthrown; the water rose in huge waves--
hissing, and foaming, and leaping madly around us.  Our topmasts had
been struck; every stitch of canvas closely furled, and everything on
deck securely lashed.  The fierce blast of the tempest struck the little
vessel; round and round she was helplessly whirled.  Away we drove out
to sea, and we thought we were safe; but our hopes were to prove vain.
Once more we approached the shore with redoubled speed; the frowning
rocks threatened our instant destruction; we could do nothing for our
preservation.  To anchor was utterly useless.  We shook hands all round;
on, on we drove.  A yellow sandy bay appeared between two dark rocks; a
huge sea carried us on; safely between the two rocks it bore us; up the
beach it rolled.  The schooner drew but little water.  High up the sea
carried us stem on.  We rushed forward, and springing along the
bowsprit, leaped on to the sand, and before another sea could overtake
us we were safe out of its reach.  We fell down on our knees and uttered
a prayer of thanksgiving for our preservation.  In ten minutes not a
fragment of the schooner held together.  We had truly reason to be
grateful.

"Another time wrecked," said I to Mr Merton.

"Yes, Will; but another time saved," was his answer.

We got safe to the village of Morant Bay, where we were very kindly
received, and the next day were forwarded over land to Kingston, there
to await the arrival of the _Montezuma_.  She came into Port Royal
Harbour in about a week, not having felt the hurricane.  As the agent
had a full cargo for her, she only remained a short time, and at length
I found myself on the way to the shores of old England.

"There is no fear now but what I shall get to Plymouth at last," I
thought to myself as I walked the deck in my watch the first wight after
we had got well clear of the land, and were standing out into the broad
Atlantic.  Then I remembered my rash oath, and in spite of all Mr
Merton's reasonings, I could not help believing that its consequences
would still follow me.  "Home! home! with all its endearments, is not
for you.  The time of your probation is yet unfulfilled!--your
punishment is not accomplished!"--a voice whispered in my ear.  I could
not silence it.  Still I thought that it was only fancy.  Just then
Charley Iffley joined me in my walk; we were in the same watch.
Hitherto I had never told him of my belief that a curse was pursuing me.
I should have been wiser not to have mentioned the subject to him;
still I thought that he was so much changed that he would sympathise
with me.  I told him all that had occurred from the moment when I first
expressed my wish to go to sea to my grandmother and aunt, and reminded
him of all the sufferings I had endured, and the number of times I had
been shipwrecked.  Instead, however, of treating the subject in the
gentle, serious way Mr Merton had done, he burst into a loud fit of
laughter.

"Nonsense, Will," he exclaimed, "you'll next accuse me of being your
evil spirit, and of tempting you to sin.  Many a man has been
shipwrecked as often as you have who has been sent to sea against his
own will; and if he swore at all, it was that he might speedily get on
shore.  Get that idea out of your head as soon as possible."

I was anxious enough to follow Charley's advice, but do all I could, the
idea came back and back again whenever I found myself during my watch at
night taking a turn by myself on deck.

Charley was already out of his indentures, and as he had become a steady
fellow and a good seaman, he hoped to be made mate on his next voyage.
At last the day arrived when the term of my apprenticeship expired, and
I was to be a free man, able to take any berth offered to me.  My only
wish, however, after I had paid my family a visit, was to be employed in
the service of my present owners.  To commemorate the event, Charley
proposed having a feast in our mess, and he managed to purchase from the
third mate, who acted as a sort of purser, various articles of luxury
and an additional bottle of rum.  We were very jolly, and very happy we
thought ourselves, and blew all care to the winds.  The passengers and
the captain were making merry in the same way in the cabin, drinking
toasts, and singing songs, and making speeches, and telling funny
stories, so the cabin-boy told us as he came forward convulsed with
laughter.  The wind was fair and light, the sea was smooth, and no ship
floating on the ocean could have appeared more free from danger.
Suddenly there was a cry--a cry which, next to "Breakers ahead," is the
most terror-inspiring which can strike on a seaman's ear.  It was,
"Fire! fire! fire!"  Who uttered it?  A man with frantic haste--horror
in his countenance--rushed up from the after hold.  "Fire! fire! fire!"
he repeated.  In an instant fore and aft the revellers in dismay sprang
from their seats and hurried on deck.  The captain was calm and
collected, had he lost his presence of mind, who could have hoped to
escape?  With rapid strides he reached the after-hatchway, out of which
streams of smoke were gushing forth.  He summoned the passengers and
some of the crew to provide themselves with buckets, and to heave water
down upon the spot whence the smoke seemed to come, while the rest of
the crew were employed in pumping water into the hold.  Wet sails and
blankets were brought, and, led by Mr Merton, some of the more daring
of the men leaped down with them, in the hopes of stifling the flames
before they burst forth.  I followed the second mate; I knew the risk,
but I resolved to share it with him.  "More blankets! more sails!" we
shouted.  They were hove down to us; but in vain we threw them over the
lower hatchway.  Thicker and thicker masses of smoke came gushing forth,
and we were obliged to cry out to be drawn up, and were almost
overpowered before we reached the deck.  Two of our number had been left
behind.  Mr Merton and I were about to return, when a loud explosion
was heard.  Part of the deck was torn up, and flames burst fiercely
forth through the hatchway.  It was very evident that some of the rum
casks had ignited, as was afterwards ascertained, by a candle having
been carelessly left burning in the hold.

All hopes of saving the ship were now abandoned.  The boats could not
carry the entire crew and passengers.  They were, however, instantly
lowered into the water with a boat-keeper in each, while the rest of the
people were told off, some to get up provisions and water, and others to
construct a raft.  I was engaged on the raft, but remembering what I had
suffered on former occasions, I urged the people to take an ample supply
of water in each of the boats.  Scarcely was the long-boat in the water
than the flames burst forth through the main hatchway, and had not the
captain been prompt in his orders, the boat itself would have been lost.
Provisions for the raft were put into the long-boat, while we were
working away at its construction.  Every moment we expected to see the
flames burst forth from under our feet.  We worked with might and main;
with our axes we cut away the after-bulwarks, so as to launch it
overboard.  We had crowbars in our hands.  It was barely finished.

"Heave away, my lads, heave away!" shouted the captain.  "Now,
gentlemen; now, my men; those told off for the boats, be smart!  Get
into them!  No crowding, though."

The orders were obeyed, for everybody had learned to confide in the
captain's judgment.  We meantime were urging the raft over the side.
"Quick! quick!" was the cry.  With reason, too.  The flames burst forth
close to our heels.  With mighty efforts, by means of our crowbars, we
prized on the raft, it being balanced over the sea, yet the flames
almost caught it.  One effort more.  It plunged into the water.  A rope
brought it up.  Almost before it again rose to the surface we were
compelled by the devouring element behind us to leap on to it.  The deck
gave way with a crash as we left it, and two more poor fellows sank back
into the flames.  The painter was cut, and as the ship drove slowly away
from us, another loud explosion was heard, and fore and aft she was
wrapped in flames, which rose writhing and twisting up to her topgallant
masts.

"And there's an end of the fine old _Montezuma_.  Well, she was a happy
ship!" exclaimed a seaman near me, passing his hand across his brow.
"You know, Weatherhelm, I've sailed in her since I was a boy, and I have
learned to look upon her pretty much as if she was my mother."  I never
heard warmer praise bestowed on a merchantman.

Thus was I once more floating on a raft in the middle of the Atlantic.
"I thought it would be so," I muttered to myself.  "My oath, my oath?"

While watching the conflagration of the ship, we had had no time to
think of our own condition.  The boats had pulled off to some distance
from the burning ship, and we were left without oars, or sails, or
provisions.  Night, too, was coming on.  The dreadful idea occurred to
some of us, that those in the boats with their eyes dazzled by the glare
of the burning ship might not see the raft.  The captain, by the urgent
request of the people, had gone in the long-boat.  Mr Merton had
remained with us.  We shouted--but in vain--the boats were too far off
to allow our voices to be heard.  The night came on, but still we could
see the burning wreck, and we felt sure that while that beacon was in
sight, the boats would not give up their search for us.  We forgot how
fast the wreck had been drifting away.  Ours seemed a hard fate.
Without food or water, unless picked up we must evidently soon perish.
Mr Merton addressed us in a spirited, manly way.  He told us not to
despair--that many poor fellows had been much worse off than we were,
and that certainly by daylight we should be seen by our shipmates in the
boats, and be supplied with what we wanted.  If not, we were exactly in
the track of homeward-bound vessels coming from America, and that we
should be certainly fallen in with.

It was a very dreary night, though.  All we could do was to sit quiet
and watch the burning wreck.  Gradually the flames burnt lower and
lower.  Then a huge glowing ember appeared, and that suddenly sank from
sight.  In spite of our position, I had fallen asleep, when I was
aroused by a loud shout from my companions.  It was in answer to a cry
which came floating over the water from a distance.  We waited eagerly
listening.  Again the far-off cry was repeated.  Loudly we cheered in
return, for we were very hungry, and had not yet had time to grow weak
from hunger.  In less than twenty minutes the boats came dashing up
round us, and we found ourselves amply supplied with provisions, which
we discussed with no small appetites.  The captain then addressed us
all; he told us that we must husband our provisions and water, as we
could not tell when any vessel might fall in with us.  He then urged the
people in the other boats to remain by the raft, and suggested that in
the day-time they should extend themselves about ten miles on either
side so as to have a wider field of observation, but in the night that
they should come back and hang on to the raft.

I ought to have said there were four boats, and thus we were able to
command a range of vision of at least fifty miles.  That is to say--the
raft being in the centre--the boats were twenty miles apart, and from
each boat a sail of fifteen miles off could at all events be seen.  The
plan was agreed on.  We had secured a long spar, which we set up as a
mast in the centre of the raft, with a flag at its head, so that the
boats could always have us in view; besides which, several compasses had
been saved which would enable them to find us even in thick weather.
All we had now, therefore, much to fear from was bad weather and a long
detention, when we might run short of provisions.  The day passed away,
and no sign of a vessel was perceived.  The mate kept up our spirits by
every means in his power.  He encouraged us to sing songs and tell
stories to each other, and to give an account of our adventures, and
then he told us some stories, and some of them were very funny, and made
us laugh, and I must say that I have passed many duller days than were
those which I spent on that raft.  "And now, my lads," said he, "as we
cannot steer our course across the ocean without a compass, no more can
we our course through life without principles to guide us.  Now the only
book which can give us right principles--can show us how to live--the
port we are bound for, and how to gain it, is one I have in my pocket."
We all wondered what he was aiming at, and he was silent for some little
time to allow our thoughts to settle down after the joking we had had.
Then he pulled out of his pocket a Bible, and took his seat on a cask in
the middle of the raft.  "I am going to read to you from this Holy Book,
my lads, and I hope that you will listen to what I read--try to
understand it--think over it--and do what it tells you."  I've often
since heard the word of God read to sailors, but never more
impressively; never to better effect, I believe, than I did on that raft
in the Atlantic.

Just at nightfall all the boats came back, and hung on to us during the
night, and nearly all the people went soundly to sleep.  The captain in
the morning proposed that those in the boat should change places with
those on the raft, but we said that we were contented to be where we
were, and that we preferred remaining with Mr Merton.  The next day
passed away much as the first, so did a third and fourth.  In the
evening, however, of that last day, three boats only came back; the
whale-boat, commanded by the fourth mate, did not make her appearance.
Various were the surmises about her.  Some thought that an accident had
happened to her; many expressed their fears that the mate had deserted
us, and abuse of no gentle nature was heaped on his and his companions'
heads.  The only people who made no complaints, and only seemed anxious
to find excuses for him, were those on the raft.  Why was this?
Because, as I fully believe, they were influenced by the principles of
Christian charity which the mate had been explaining to us, that
principle which thinketh no wrong, until evidence indubitable is brought
that wrong has been committed.  Although we on the raft did not abuse
the first mate and those with him, we could not help feeling anxious for
his return.  An hour of darkness passed away, and then another and
another, and still the whale-boat did not appear.  She had gone, I ought
to have said, on the lee side of the raft; but the wind was light, so
that she could have had no difficulty in pulling up to it.  No one this
night felt inclined to go to sleep.  We were all too anxious about our
companions.  I saw Mr Merton turning his eyes with a steady gaze away
to the south-east.  I looked in the same direction.  Gradually I saw
emerging out of the darkness an opaque, towering mass.  At first I
thought it was a mere mark in the clouds, and then it resolved itself
into the form of a tall ship close-hauled under all canvas.  A shout
from the boats showed that they had discovered the stranger.  Again we
shouted, and a cheer came up from her to show us that we were seen and
heard.  In a few minutes she hove-to, and our own whale-boat appeared
from alongside her, accompanied by another boat.  The mate explained, as
he made a tow-rope fast to the raft to tow us alongside the ship, that
he had seen her just before nightfall, and by pulling away to the
southward had happily succeeded in cutting her off.

We soon found ourselves on board a large ship, the _Happy Relief_--and a
happy relief she was to us--bound homeward from Honduras with logwood.
They were a rough set on board, from the master to the apprentices, but
they treated us kindly, as most sailors treat others in distress, and we
had every reason to be grateful to them.  We had still greater reason to
be thankful that we got on board their ship that night, for before the
morning a gale began to blow, and a heavy sea soon got up, which would
have swept us all off the raft, and in all probability swamped the
boats.  It continued blowing for several days.  The ship laboured very
much, and soon all hands were called to the pumps.  She had proved a
fortunate ship to us, and it was a fortunate circumstance for her that
she had fallen in with us; for all hands had to keep spell and spell at
the pumps, and even so we were only just able to keep the leaks under.
Had she not had us on board, she would very soon, I suspect, have been
water-logged.  At length the gale abated, but we notwithstanding, had to
keep the pumps going night and day.  By the time we reached the Chops of
the Channel, having a fair breeze, we were looking out every instant to
make the land, when a big ship hove in sight, standing directly across
our course.  The people on board the Honduras ship had told us that a
few days before they fell in with us, they had spoken an outward-bound
brig, from which they gained the news that war had broken out between
England and France and Spain.  We made out the stranger to be a heavy
frigate, but as she showed no colours, to what nation she belonged we
could not tell.  Some on board thought we ought to haul our wind on the
opposite tack to that she was on, so as to avoid her altogether.  She
was standing with her head to the north.  Our captain soon after gave
the order to brace up the yards on the larboard tack, hoping to run into
Mount's Bay or Falmouth harbour.  We soon had proof that those on board
the frigate had their eyes on us.  The smoke of a gun was seen to issue
from one of her bow ports, as a sign for us to heave-to, but the captain
thought he should first like to try the fleetness of his heels before he
gave in.  So we continued our course to the northward.  The frigate on
this braced her yards sharp up, and showed that she was not going to
allow us to escape her, and, by the way she walked along, we soon saw
that we should without fail become her prize.

All the men who had got two suits of clothes went and put them on, and
stowed away all their money and valuables in their pockets, and we all
of us began to think how we should like to see the inside of a Spanish
or French prison.  For my part, I had heard such stories about the
cruelty of the Spaniards and French that I began to wish I was back
again on the raft in the middle of the Atlantic.  One thing is
certain,--there is nothing harder than to become a prisoner at the
beginning of a war, to an enemy who hates you, with very little prospect
of being exchanged.  All the glasses in the ship were turned towards the
frigate as she drew near, to try and make out what she was.  Presently
she fired another gun across our bows, and this time she was within shot
of us, and at the same moment up went the British ensign.  Seeing that
there was no chance of escape, our captain hove-to.  I thought that as
she was an English ship, all was right, and could not make out the
reason of the agitation some of the older hands were in.  In a quarter
of an hour or so, a boat with a lieutenant and a pretty strongly armed
crew came alongside.  As he stepped on board, he went up to the captain
and told him about the war, and asked where he had come from, and
whether he had fallen in with any strange ships.  "And now, captain,"
said he, quite calmly, "I should just like to see your crew.  Muster
them on deck, if you please.  You've a large number," he remarked, as
soon as we all appeared.  The captain told him how he had picked so many
of us up at sea.  "Ho, ho!" said the lieutenant; "come here, my lads;
you'd be glad to serve his Majesty, I know."

And he told all the crew of the _Montezuma_, except the captain and
first mate, to get into his boat.

There was no little grumbling at this, but he did not appear like a man
who would stand any nonsense of this sort, so it went no further.  "But
those two are apprentices," said Captain Horner, pointing to Charley and
me, and forgetting that we were both out of our indentures.

"Stout lads for apprentices," remarked the lieutenant.  "Let me see your
papers."  Now it might have been said, as we had been wrecked, that we
had lost them, but I would not tell a lie to gain any object.

"Please, sir," said I, "the captain makes a mistake.  I was out of my
indentures a few days ago.  I've no protection, and I don't want any.
I, for one, am ready to serve his Majesty and to fight for my country."

Charley hearing me say this, declared himself of the same mind, and
wishing Captain Horner and the captain of the Honduras ship good-bye,
and thanking them, we went over to the side ready to step into the boat.
The lieutenant said he liked our spirit, and that he should keep his
eye on us, and if we behaved well he should recommend us for promotion.
This was satisfactory, but still I felt that all my prospects of
becoming a mate were blown to the wind.  The person who felt it most was
Mr Merton.  From being an officer (and a gentleman he always was) he
was reduced to the rank of a common seaman.  What was far worse, too, he
was engaged to be married, as soon as he returned home, to the daughter
of a clergyman, who, Charley told me, was quite a lady.  Now, poor
fellow, for what he could tell, years might pass before he would be able
to return on shore.

"Well, my man, are you ready to go?" said the lieutenant to him.

"I was second mate of the ship, and have private affairs which require
my presence in England, sir," he answered, quite calmly; and his voice
showed that he was a man of education.

"That is no protection, I am afraid," said the lieutenant.  "Duty is not
always pleasant, but it must be done."

"Very true, sir," said Mr Merton; "but let me write a line to send
home, and speak a few words to my late captain.  I will not detain you."

"I can give you five minutes," said the lieutenant, pulling out his
watch.

Mr Merton thanked him and hurried below.

Poor fellow!  What words of anguish and sorrow did he pour out in that
letter; yet, I doubt not, he expressed his own resignation, and
endeavoured to encourage her to whom it was addressed to hope that yet
happy days were in store for them.  He entrusted the letter to the
captain, and begged him to go and see and comfort the lady to whom it
was addressed.  Then with a calm countenance he appeared on deck, and
signified to the lieutenant that he was ready to accompany him, I doubt
not he felt like a brave man going to execution.

The frigate we were on board was the _Brilliant_, of forty guns, and, as
I looked round and saw what perfect order she was in, I thought her a
very fine ship, and except that I regretted not being able to return
home, I was perfectly content to belong to her.  Men-of-war in those
days were very different to what they are at present.  Men of all
classes were shipped on board, often out of the prisons and hulks, and
the sweepings of the streets.  Quantity was looked-for because quality
could not be got.  An able seaman was a great prize.  The pressgangs
were always at work on shore, and they thought themselves fortunate when
such could be found.  Now, with such a mixture of men, the bad often
outnumbering the good, very strict and stern discipline was necessary.

The very first day I got on board I saw five men flogged for not being
smart enough at reefing topsails.  I thought it very cruel, and it set
me against the service.  I did not inquire who the men were.  I found
afterwards that they were idle rascals who deserved punishment, and
always went about their duty in a lazy, sluggish way.  However, there
was no doubt that our captain was a very taut hand.  The ship had just
come out of harbour.  He had found out that the greater part of his crew
were a bad lot, and he was getting them into order.  He treated us who
had belonged to the _Montezuma_ in a very different way.  He saw that we
were seamen, and he valued us accordingly.  Still I think there was more
punishment on board than was absolutely necessary.  We had nine powerful
fellows doing duty as boatswain's mates on board, and there was starting
and flogging going on every day and all day long.  The first time I ever
saw a man punished I felt sick at heart, and thought I should have
fallen on deck, but I recovered myself and looked out afterwards with
very little concern.

The frigate I found was bound on a six months' cruise in the Bay of
Biscay, not the quietest place in the world in the winter season.  Mr
Merton was very soon made captain of the fore-top, and Charley and I
were stationed on the top with him.  Owing to him, I believe, we avoided
being flogged, for he was always alive and brisk and kept us up to our
duty.  After all, there's nothing like doing things briskly.  There's no
pleasure in being slow and sluggish about doing a thing, and a great
waste of time.  Mr Merton soon attracted the notice of the officers,
and they used to address him very differently to the way they spoke to
the other men.  There was in the top with us a young midshipman: he was
a fine little lad--full of life, and fun, and daring.  He was the son or
heir of some great lord or other, and a relation of the captain's, who
had promised especially to look after him.  Well, one day the ship was
running before the wind with studden sails set alow and aloft and every
sail drawing, so that she was going not less than eight or ten knots,
when this youngster, with two or three others, was skylarking aloft.  He
had gone out on the fore-topsail yard-arm, when somehow or other he lost
his hold and down he fell.  Fortunately, he struck the belly of the
lower studden sail, which broke his fall and sent him clear of the ship
into the sea.  Just at that moment Mr Merton was coming up into the
top.  He saw the accident.  Almost before the sentry at the gangway
could cry out, "A man overboard!" he was in the water striking out to
catch hold of the youngster, who couldn't swim a stroke.  At that moment
the captain came on deck.  He was in a great state of agitation when he
heard who it was who had fallen overboard.  Studden sail-sheets were let
fly.  No one minded the spars, though they were all cracking away; the
helm was put down, the yards were braced sharp up, and the ship was
brought close on a wind.

Meantime Mr Merton was striking out towards where young Mr Bouverie
had gone down.  All eyes were directed to the spot.  "Now he sees him.
He strikes out with all his might to catch him before the youngster
sinks again.  He has him--he has him, hurra!"  Such were the cries
uttered on every side, for the youngster was a favourite with all hands.
A boat was instantly lowered, and Mr Merton was brought on board with
the youngster he had rescued, both of them nearly exhausted.  The
midshipman was carried into the captain's cabin.  Mr Merton, when he
had shifted his wet things, returned on deck to his duty.  The captain,
however, immediately sent for him, and told him that he could not find
words to express his gratitude.  Mr Merton thanked him, and said that
he had merely done his duty, and did not consider which of the
midshipmen it was he was going to try to save.

"Well, you have prevented a mother's heart from being wrung with agony,
and a noble house from going into mourning," said the captain.  "You
deserve to be rewarded."  Mr Merton thanked him, and went about his
duty, thinking little more of the matter.

Now, although seamen know how to value a man who has leaped overboard,
at the risk of his own life, to save a fellow-creature from drowning,
they do not make much fuss about it, because most of them would be ready
to do the same thing themselves.  Still, it was easy to see that Joe
Merton, as he was called by the ship's company, was raised yet higher in
their estimation.

After we had been at sea some time we stood away to the westward.  One
forenoon, a shout from the masthead announced a sail in sight.

"Where away?" asked the officer of the watch.

"On the weather bow," was the answer.  "There are two--three--four--the
whole horizon is studded with them," cried the look-out.

The officers were pretty quickly aloft to see what the strangers could
be, for some thought perhaps it was an enemy's fleet.  As they drew
near, however, they were pronounced to be merchantmen, and before long
we ascertained by their signals that they were part of a homeward-bound
West India convoy, which had been separated in a gale of wind, off the
banks of Newfoundland, from the ships of war in charge of them.  Finding
that they were totally unprotected, our captain made up his mind that it
was his duty to see them safe into port, and signalling to them to keep
together and put themselves under his orders, he invited some of the
masters of the vessels near him to come on board to give him the news.
Among other things, he learned that a fast-sailing French privateer had
been hovering about them for some time, and had already picked off two,
if not more, of their number, both heavily laden and valuable ships
belonging to London; and the masters were of opinion that she had
carried them into Santa Cruz, a harbour in the island of Teneriffe, one
of the Canaries, because they had spoken an American vessel, the master
of which told them that he had passed two such ships, accompanied by a
craft answering to the description of the privateer, steering for that
place.  This information made the captain in a greater hurry than ever
to get back to England, as he had made up his mind, as it afterwards
appeared, to go and try to cut the ships out.

A strong westerly wind sprang up soon after this, and carried us in five
days, with all our convoy, safe into Plymouth Sound.  Now, for the first
time after so many years, I found myself back at the place where I had
passed my childhood, and where the only relations I had ever known, the
only beings whose love I had any right to claim, resided.  How eagerly I
gazed on the shore, and I thought even that I could make out the little
neat white row of cottages outside the town, in one of which my
grandmother and aunt lived!  But now came the question, how could I hope
to get on shore?  It was not likely that any leave would be granted, as
we guessed that the frigate would not remain more than a day or two in
harbour.  The captain had gone on shore to we the admiral, and the first
lieutenant was also called away, so that the ship was left in charge of
the second lieutenant, who had pressed me.  I knew that I was not likely
to get what I wanted by holding back, so I made bold and went up to him
and told him how I had left my grandmother when I was a boy, and had
been kept knocking about ever since, and had only once, for a few hours,
set my foot on English ground in the London docks, and how I would give
anything if I might just run up and see how the old lady and my aunt
were, and show them that I was alive.

"I think I may trust you, my lad," said the lieutenant, looking hard at
me.  "But who will be answerable for you?"

"Mr Merton, sir.  I know he will.  He has known me for some time," I
answered earnestly.  The lieutenant smiled; he was not accustomed to
hear a topman have a mister put to his name.  "I mean Joe Merton--beg
pardon, sir," said I, "he was my officer for some years."

"No offence, my man; I like to hear a person speak respectfully of those
above him," answered the lieutenant.  "He is your officer still, I
fancy.  Well, if you can get him to be answerable for you, you may go on
shore for ten hours.  I cannot give you longer leave than that."

"Thank you, sir; thank you," said I, and I hurried below to look for Mr
Merton.  I found him hard at work writing a letter to send on shore; but
he instantly jumped up, and accompanied me on deck to assure the
lieutenant that I would return.  So on shore I went with great joy; but
my knees almost trembled as I walked up the steep streets towards the
part of the town where my grandmother and aunt lived.  I had seen a good
many strange places since last I walked down those streets on my way to
join the _Kite_, and though, after thinking a moment, I easily found the
road without asking, the houses seemed changed somehow or other.  They
were lower and narrower and less fine-looking than I expected.  At last
I reached the quiet little house I knew so well.  By climbing up an iron
railing before it I could, when a boy, look into the parlour over the
blind.  There wag no necessity to climb now.  By holding on by the rail,
and stretching myself upon my toes, I could easily look in; I could not
help doing so before knocking.  There I saw an old lady with a neat
white cap and dressed in black, bending over her knitting.  Her back was
towards me; but somehow or other I did not think that it could be
Granny.  Her figure was too small and slight for that of Aunt Bretta.
Who could it be then?  My heart sank within me.  It was some minutes
before I could muster courage to knock.  At last I went up to the door.
A little girl opened it.  She was deaf and dumb, so she did not
understand what I said, and I could not understand her signs.

"Come in," said a voice from the parlour.  "Who is that? what does he
want?"

On this I pushed open the parlour door, and then I saw the old lady whom
I had observed through the window, seated in an arm-chair, with her
knitting in her hand.  I looked at her very hard.  "I am Willand, your
grandchild, Granny!"  I exclaimed, springing across the room.

"Young man, you have made a strange mistake," said the old lady, in a
voice which sent a chill through my heart.  "I never had a grandchild.
You take me for some one else."

"Beg pardon, marm," said I, trying to recover myself.  "I took you for
my grandmother, Mrs Wetherholm, who once lived here.  I have been at
sea for many years, and have never heard from her or my aunt.  Can you
tell me where they are gone?"

"Sit down, young man, and let me think.  I cannot answer all in a
hurry," said she, and I thought her tone was much pleasanter than at
first.  "Your name is Wetherholm, is it? and what ship did you go to sea
in?"  I told her.  "The _Kite_!  That is strange," said she.  "I should
know something about that vessel.  If Margaret were here, she would tell
me, but my memory is not as good as it was.  You want to know where your
relatives are.  Now I come to think of it, the old lady who lived in
this house before me had a daughter.  They came, I have heard, like my
poor niece's family, from Shetland.  Wetherholm was her name.  Then I am
sorry to say, young man, that she is dead."

"Dead!"  I exclaimed.  "Dear Granny dead!"  And my heart came all of a
sudden into my throat, and I fairly burst out crying as I should have
done when a boy.  For some time I could not stop myself; but I put my
face between my hands, and bent down as I sat, trying to prevent the
tears finding their way through my fingers.  I hadn't had such a cry
since I was a little boy, and then I felt very differently, I know.  The
old lady did not say a word, but let me have it out.

"That will do you good, young man," said she at length.  "I don't think
the worse of you for those tears, remember that."

I thanked her very much for her sympathy, and then asked her if she
could tell me anything about Aunt Bretta.

"I can't tell you myself," she answered; "but Miss Rundle, who lives
next door, knew her well; and I'll just send and ask her to step in, and
she will give you all the information you want."

The old lady summoned her little deaf and dumb girl, and signing to her,
in two minutes Miss Rundle made her appearance.  I remembered Miss
Rundle, and used to think her a very old woman then, but she did not
look a day older, but rather younger than when I went away.  I had no
little difficulty in persuading her who I was, and at first I thought
she seemed rather shocked at seeing a common sailor sitting down in her
friend's parlour.  However, at last I convinced her that I was no other
than the long-lost Willand Wetherholm.  She told me how my grandmother
had long mourned at my absence, still believing that I was alive and
would return, and always praying for my safety.  At length she
sickened--to the last expecting to see me.  She had died about two years
before; "and then," added my old acquaintance, "the good old lady sleeps
quietly in the churchyard hard by.  I often take a look at her
tombstone.  Her name is on it; you may see it there."

"That I will," said I.  "It will do my heart good to go and see dear
Granny's tombstone, as I cannot ever set eyes on her kind face again."
When I asked about Aunt Bretta, Miss Rundle bridled up a little, I
thought.

"Well, she was my friend," said she; "and she was a very good woman, and
I used to have a great respect for her.  Nobody made orange marmalade
better than she did, or raspberry jam; and as for knitting, there was no
one equalled her in all the country round.  I have several of the bits
of work she gave me, and I value them; but still I don't see what right
one's friends have to go and demean themselves."

Rather astonished at these remarks, I asked what had happened.

"Why, young man, she went and got married," said Miss Rundle, drawing
herself up.

"I don't see any great harm in her doing that," remarked the old lady.

"No, marm, not in marrying," answered Miss Rundle, somewhat sharply.
"It's a very lawful state to get into, I dare say; but I find fault with
her in respect to the person to whom she got married.  I don't want to
offend the feelings of this young man, her nephew; but what was he but a
common sailor, and more than that, he had a wooden leg."

"Aunt Bretta married to a common sailor with a wooden leg!" said I,
scarcely knowing what I was saying, yet not thinking that there was
anything very shocking in the matter.  "What sort of a man was he, marm?
and can you tell me where they are gone, and where I shall find them?  I
long to see Aunt Bretta again."

"I won't deny that he was a pretty good-looking man enough, and as we do
now and then exchange letters, I can tell you where she is to be found,"
answered Miss Rundle, softening down a little.  "They live at Southsea,
near Portsmouth.  Her husband was an old shipmate of one of her
brothers--your father, perhaps--and that is the way they became
acquainted.  His name is Kelson; you'll find them without difficulty."

"Aunt Bretta hasn't any family?" said I.  "I should like to have a dozen
little cousins to play with when I go to see her."

Miss Rundle looked very much shocked at the question, and said that as
she had not been married much more than a year, that wasn't very likely.

Well, though all Miss Rundle's talk had for the moment driven away my
sad thought, as soon as we were silent I felt very low-spirited and
melancholy.  I said that I would go up and have a walk through the
churchyard, and the old lady begged that I would come back and take tea
with her, when her niece would be there, who would be glad to hear me
talk about the sea.  Miss Rundle said that she had an engagement, and
was very sorry she could not stop; but the old lady signed to the little
girl to accompany me to point out my grandmother's tomb, remarking that
I might otherwise have some difficulty in finding it.

The child tripped away before me, and we soon reached the churchyard.
She pointed out an unpretending white little slab of stone in a quiet
corner, with a number of wild-flowers growing round it, and then,
looking up into my face with an earnest, commiserating look, she nodded
and ran off.  I walked up to the stone and read a short inscription--

                    "ELLA WETHERHOLM LIES BENEATH.
                 HOPE, IF ON ME YOUR HOPE IS PLACED."

I felt very sad and grave, but I had no longer an inclination to cry.
"She wrote that for herself," I thought.  "I'll try and hope as she
hoped, and perhaps her prayers may lighten, if they do not remove, the
heavy curse I brought down on my head."

With regard to the curse I fancied was following me, I now know that I
was entirely mistaken.  Our loving Father in Heaven does not curse His
creatures, though He permits for their benefit the consequences of sin
to fall on their heads.

I will not repeat all the ideas which passed across my mind.  I was not
nearly so sad as I might have expected.  I had met with sympathy and
kindness, though from a stranger, and that lightened the burden; and
then, though Miss Rundle was an odd creature, I could not help feeling
pleased at seeing her again, and hearing from her about my aunt.  I had
little fear about her marriage, and I had every expectation of finding
the sailor she had married, some fine old fellow well worthy of her,
even though he had been all his life before the mast.  While I was
sitting down beside my grandmother's grave, and thinking of the years
that were past, the days of my childhood, and the many strange things
which had since occurred to me, every now and then reading over the
words on the tombstone: "Hope!--if on me your hope is placed," and
trying to understand their full meaning, and very full I found it, I
happened to look up, and then I saw at a little distance a young woman
who seemed to have been passing along a path across the churchyard,
regarding me attentively.  She was dressed in black, which made her look
very fair and pale, and certainly I had never seen anybody else in all
my life who came up in appearance to what I should fancy an angel in
heaven would look like.  This is what I thought at the moment.  When she
saw that she was observed, she drew her shawl instinctively closer
around her, and moved on.



CHAPTER SIX.

FIRST INTRODUCTION TO MISS TROALL--HAPPY EVENING--RETURN ON BOARD--AN
EXPEDITION PLANNED--ATTACK ON PRIVATEERS--THE BOAT SINKS UNDER ME--MEET
AN OLD FRIEND--FOLLOW HIS ADVICE--JOIN AN AMERICAN VESSEL--CHASED
AGAIN--THE ACTION BETWEEN THE BRITISH AND FRENCH SHIPS--LAND OUR
PASSENGERS--LOSS OF OUR VESSEL--GET ON SHORE AT GUERNSEY--LA MOTTE AND
HIS FAMILY--SAIL FOR PORTSMOUTH.

And so at length the dream in which I had so long indulged was realised.
Once more I trod my native shores.  Once more I had visited the home of
my childhood.  What a blank I had found!  My lot has been that of
thousands of seamen--of thousands of poor wanderers over the face of the
globe, of every rank and in every clime.  It is the tale which many and
many a shipmate has told me in our midnight watch:--"I got back to the
place where I was born.  I thought to find it a home, but most of those
I left were dead! the rest removed.  All were gone.  The spot which once
I knew so well, knew me no more; so I fell in with an old messmate.  We
had a jovial spree on shore, and then, when all our cash was gone, we
went to sea again."  Such was not my lot, though.  Had I been inclined
for a spree, which I was not, I had not time to indulge in it.  I took a
walk through some of the beautiful green lanes about Plymouth, and
filled my hat full of wild-flowers, and then came back to the old lady's
house to take my tea, as I had promised.  I opened the door without
ceremony, for I forgot entirely that it was not my own home, and walked
into the parlour, expecting to find the old lady.  Instead of her, what
was my surprise to see seated at the tea-table the very young woman who
had been watching me in the churchyard.  I was regularly taken aback,
and stammered out--

"Beg pardon, Miss, I didn't know that there was anybody here but the old
lady who asked me to tea."

"You need not offer any excuse; my aunt told me you were coming," she
answered, in just such a voice as I should have expected to hear when
looking at her.

In a very few minutes she made me quite at home, and her aunt came in,
and we soon were talking away just as if we were old friends.  I will
not say that I forgot my grandmother and aunt, but I should be wrong if
I did not confess that my sorrow was very much soothed, and what is
more, that in some respects I felt happier than I had done for a very
long time.  Tea was made, and I began to talk to them about my
adventures and my shipwrecks.

"The most dreadful," said I, "was the first, when I and all my
companions nearly lost our lives aboard the _Kite_."

"The _Kite_!" exclaimed the young lady, "the _Kite_!  What do you know
about her?  Oh, in mercy tell me, young man!"

I saw she was very much agitated, but as I could not tell what part of
the narrative to pass over or to touch on slightly, I told her all about
the vessel from the time we left Plymouth till we got aboard the French
brig; especially I could not help speaking of Seton and his bravery, and
how he was wounded, and how he entreated me to bear his dying messages
to his family, and to the girl to whom he was to be married.  She seemed
almost breathless as I proceeded with my story, but every now and then
she would say, "Go on--in mercy go on."  So I continued with my story to
the end; "and," said I, "the first time I have freedom on shore, I will,
please heaven, go and fulfil my promise to poor Seton.  I remember the
young lady's name--Margaret Troall."

"You have fulfilled it already," said the young lady, with a faltering
voice, and bursting into tears; "I am Margaret Troall.  And oh, believe
me, I am most grateful to you."

I was astonished, I found that the rest of her family in England were
dead, and that she and her aunt had come to live at Plymouth just as my
aunt and her husband had left the place, and they had taken my
grandmother's house, which was then vacant.  At first, after all this,
the young lady was very sad, but by degrees she recovered her spirits,
and we talked on very pleasantly till Miss Rundle came in.

She wasn't half as stiff as at first, when she saw how well I was
received by Mrs Sandon (that was the name of the old lady) and her
niece, and she promised to write to my aunt to tell her that I was alive
and well, and that she might expect to see me some day.

"When you see her, as I hope you will soon," said she, "remember to tell
her that I am looking well, and that you knew me at once."

"That I will, Miss Rundle," said I; "I'll tell her that you look as
young and handsome as you ever did, and for that matter younger to my
eyes,--and that's the truth."

So it was, for a boy always thinks an oldish woman older than she really
is.  Miss Rundle drew herself up, and looked quite pleased, and smiled
and smirked, and I saw that my joking had gained me a place in her good
graces which I never enjoyed in my boyish days.  Well, I was very sorry
when the time came for me to get up and return on board the frigate.  I
put my chair back against the wall, and shook hands with all the ladies
round, and they charged me to come and see them without fail when I
returned to Plymouth.  Somehow or other I found myself shaking hands
twice with Miss Troall, and she again thanked me for bringing her the
message from him who was gone; and I heard Miss Rundle remark as I went
out, that I was a very well-mannered young man, though I was a common
sailor.

It was rather later than I intended.  I hurried down to the harbour,
jumped into a wherry, and promised the waterman half-a-guinea if I got
on board before dark.

"Why, lad, there's no great hurry, I should think," said he; "the
frigate won't sail without you."

"No; but a shipmate pledged his word for me that I would be back, and I
must not let him break it, you know."

"Well, we wasn't so particular in my time," said the old man.  "But as
your gold is as good as that of any other man, I'll do my best to put
you on board."

The wind was against us, so his mate and I took the oars while he
steered, and by dint of hard pulling we got on board just about ten
minutes before my time was up.  I told Mr Merton how it was I had run
the time so short, and gave him an account of all that had happened to
me.  He was very much pleased with me at finding that I had been so
anxious to come off in good time, and urged me on all occasions to make
every sacrifice, rather than break a pledge of any description.  Charley
and I were in the same watch, and he was very anxious to hear how I had
fared on shore.  Of course, he could not care about my grandmother's
death, but he was very much amused with my account of Miss Rundle, whom
he remembered well.

"I must go and pay her a visit the next time I can get on shore, and if
I can take her some wonderful present from the other side of the world,
I expect to cut you out in her good graces," he said, laughing.  I asked
him what he proposed taking.  "An alligator, or a shark, or a mermaid,
or an orang-outang, or something of that sort--stuffed, I mean," he
answered.

I remembered Charley's love of a practical joke in our younger days, and
I did not wish to interpose between him and the venerable spinster.  I
thought that he would not do anything really to annoy her.

Our captain came on board the next morning in high spirits.  He had got
leave to go to Teneriffe, in company with his Majesty's sloop-of-war
_Talbot_, to cut out the two West Indiamen taken by the French
privateer.  No sooner, however, did we get out of the Channel than we
met with strong westerly winds, which nearly blew us back into its chops
again.  However, not to be daunted, we kept hammering away at it, and
though we in the frigate made tolerably fine weather, those on board the
sloop had wet jackets for many a day.  We had been out about ten days
when two sails hove in sight, running with canvas set before the wind.
One we made out to be a large brigantine, the other was a ship,
evidently an English merchantman.  The ship stood on, and when we fired
a gun to make her heave-to, let all fly, while the brigantine hauled her
wind and tried to make off.  We sent a boat aboard the ship, and found
that she was an English merchantman belonging to Bristol, which had been
captured by the brigantine.  The privateer herself belonged to Saint
Malo, and was the very vessel which had taken the two West Indiamen we
were going to cut out.  The Frenchmen taken in the prize gave us some
useful information as to where the two West Indiamen were lying.

The _Talbot_ meantime was proceeding in chase of the privateer, and very
soon coming within shot, knocked away the head of her mainmast and
brought her to.  She was an important capture, for she had committed a
great deal of mischief, and, to our no small satisfaction, she had a
considerable sum of money on board her, which she had taken from various
captured vessels.  Prize crews being put on board the two vessels, we
proceeded on our course, thrashing away in the teeth of the
south-westerly gale.  However, at last, in about three weeks, we sighted
the island of Teneriffe, and hove-to that we might make arrangements for
the attack.  This was on the 8th of December.  At about four o'clock in
the afternoon, all the boats assembled round the frigate under the
command of our first lieutenant.  We had four boats, and there were
three belonging to the corvette.  I was in the boat with the first
lieutenant.  She was a very fine, fast boat, pulling six oars.  Merton,
who had volunteered, was in one of the other boats, under the command of
one of the master's mates of the frigate, and Charley Iffley was with
him.  When all was ready, the signal was given, and with three hearty
cheers we shoved off from the frigate's side.  We acted as a sort of
whipper-in to the other boats, and we kept pulling about among them to
keep them together, our lieutenant dropping a word to one and then to
another, just to make the people laugh and to keep them in good spirits.
It was some hours after dark, and nearly ten o'clock, as we approached
the harbour of Santa Cruz.  We then had all our oars muffled, and in
perfect silence we entered the harbour, all keeping close together.  As
we got well in we lay on our oars for a minute, to make sure which were
the two ships to be attacked.  We made them out through the darkness.
Four boats were to attack one ship, under the command of our lieutenant,
while the three others pulled away to the second ship.  The signal was
given, and dashing off at full speed, we were alongside in a moment.

The Frenchmen little expected us, but they flew to their arms and made a
stout resistance.  Some were cut down--others were hove overboard--the
cables were cut--our men flew aloft to loosen sails, and as quickly
almost as I take to tell the story the ship was under weigh and standing
out of the harbour.  The other three boats were not so fortunate.  The
noise we made in attacking the first ship, our shouts, and the cries and
curses of the enemy, aroused the people of the second ship, so that they
had time to man their guns, of which she carried ten, before the boats
got alongside.  Our commanding officer, seeing this, ordered one of the
midshipmen to take charge of his boat, in which I was, and of another in
which was Mr Merton, to go to the assistance of our shipmates.  With
hearty cheers, to show that aid was coming, we pulled away towards them,
but as we advanced we were received with a hot fire of musketry and
round shot.  The officer in the other boat, which was close to us, was
killed, but Merton sprang to the helm, and cheering on the men, they
pulled up towards the ship.  Just then a round shot struck our boat,
cutting her right in two, killing one man, and wounding two.  Instantly
she began to fill, and very soon we could not move her through the
water.  She was sinking under us.  The shot came round us thick as hail.
I could not see where the other boats were, or what had become of my
shipmates, but I caught a glimpse of the ship standing out of the
harbour.  I thought I heard Mr Merton's voice shouting out to the
people, and I was pretty certain he was doing something; but what with
the darkness, and the firing, and the confusion and noise, it was some
little time before I could decide in which way to strike out.  What
became of my companions in the boat I could not tell.  Looking up, I saw
a vessel not far off from me, and so I swam away with all my strength
towards her.  I got hold of her cable and rested myself, hoping to see
some of the boats, or perhaps the second ship; but when I looked found I
saw that there was little chance of our people taking her, for she
mounted, as we knew beforehand, ten guns, and that a strong crew had
been put on board her was evident from the hot fire she kept up.

The Spaniards had aroused at last, and the forts were blazing away at
the boats which were pulling with all their might down the harbour.  All
hope of regaining the frigate must therefore, I saw, be abandoned.  The
vessel I was hanging on to was a large schooner.  Her people were all on
deck, and, to my great satisfaction, I heard them talking English.  By
this I knew that she was an American, and I determined to trust to their
kindness.  I therefore hailed, "Schooner, ahoy!  Just heave me a rope,
will you, to save me from drowning."

"Well, I don't mind if I do," said a man, looking over the bows; and he
heaving me a rope's-end, I quickly hauled myself up on board.

I found myself among three or four of the schooner's crew.  "You must
come along aft to the mate," said one of them.

I accordingly accompanied them aft, where we found the mate, who asked
all about me, and I told him how we had come into the harbour to cut out
the two West Indiamen.

"Well, small blame to you, my man," said the mate.  "We don't wish you
ill, but we must see what the captain has to say to you."

The captain was on shore, but as soon as the firing was over he came on
board.  Meantime I watched as far as I could what was taking place, and
I had the satisfaction of seeing one of the ships get out of the
harbour, and I hoped the boats had reached her also.  The American crew
seemed inclined to treat me very civilly; and when the captain came off,
and I told him all that I had told the mate, "Well, my man," said he, "I
am sorry for it, but I am afraid that I must take you before the Spanish
governor to-morrow morning; because if I do not, I may get myself into
trouble.  However, go below, and get your wet clothes shifted.  You
shall have some food and a glass of grog, and we'll see about it in the
morning."

I went below.  I was soon rigged out in warm, dry things, had a jolly
hot supper, and I must say was never more kindly treated in my life.
When I turned in, I felt that I ought to be thankful that I had not been
killed like some of my shipmates.  But still I could not help thinking,
"The curse is still following me--the boat I was aboard was the only one
destroyed."

The next morning, when I went on deck, I saw one of the officers doing
duty.  I looked at him hard.  I was certain I knew his face.  I put out
my hand.  "La Motte," said I, "do you know me?"

"I should think I did indeed, Weatherhelm," he answered, laughing, and
shaking my fist warmly; "it is a good many years since we saw each
other."  I told him that the captain said he would have to take me to a
Spanish prison.  "Oh, that is all nonsense," he answered; "I'll soon
manage that.  All you have to do is to join this craft, and we can
protect you.  I'll just say that you are an old shipmate of mine, and
I'll soon make it all right."

Accordingly he took me to the captain, who was too glad to get an able
seaman on board his vessel, and he promised me if I would sign the
articles that I should have thirty dollars a month.  I had not much
difficulty in balancing this offer against the prospect of a Spanish
prison.  Now I honestly believe, that had she been a privateer, and I
should have had to fight against my own countrymen, nothing would have
tempted me to accept the offer.  However, I decided at once.  "I'll join
you," said I, "and am ready to sign the articles whenever you like."

That evening I found myself, like many other British seamen, converted
suddenly into an American.  La Motte told me that he had been wrecked on
the American coast, and having been kindly treated, he had joined one of
their merchantmen, when shortly afterwards he was made a mate.  The
schooner was called the _Skylark_, and was a remarkably fine and fast
vessel.  At that time, while all the rest of the world were at war, the
Americans remained neutral, and their merchantmen made a great deal of
money by becoming the carriers for all the belligerent parties.  This
was a wise policy in all respects, but still wiser would they have
proved themselves had they adhered to it.  While it brought wealth and
prosperity to their newly established republic, it laid the foundation
of that naval power which enabled them to contend for a time even with
England herself, and has since enabled them to take an important part in
the transactions of the world.  The schooner had been employed to bring
out a new governor for the islands from Cadiz, and she was waiting to
convey the former one back to Spain.  He, however, was not ready, and
the schooner was detained a long time.  Still I had no reason to
complain.  Teneriffe was a very pleasant place; the captain and first
mate of the schooner were very kind sort of men, and La Motte, for old
friendship's sake, did his best to make my life agreeable.  Perhaps, had
we been less idle, it would have been better for us all.  The great
difficulty the officers had, was to find work for the men.  We painted
and polished, and scrubbed and used up every particle of rope-yarn, and
turned in all the rigging afresh before Senor Don Longwhiskerandos
announced that he was ready to take his departure.

The voyage was not to be without danger, for there were English cruisers
watching all the Spanish and French ports; and though they could not
have touched us on the high seas, they would have made prize of us, had
they caught us trying to enter an enemy's port.  I never heard the real
name of the governor.  We called him Don Longwhiskerandos just for
shortness' sake, for it was fully three times as long as that.  He
looked a very important personage, and awfully fierce, and did little
else than smoke cigars, and let a black man attend on him as if he was a
mere baby.  We had fine weather, and the Don sat on the deck in great
state, when a sail was made out on our weather quarter.  As she drew
near there could be little doubt from her appearance that she was an
English frigate.  I borrowed a glass from La Motte.  I took a long,
steady look at her, and I felt certain that she was my old ship the
_Brilliant_.  Meantime our helm was put up, and off we went before the
wind to endeavour to increase our distance.  She made sail of course in
chase, and I began to consider whether it would not have been better to
have gone to a Spanish prison than be taken as a deserter, and cruelly
flogged, if not hung.  I pictured all sorts of dreadful things to
myself, and earnestly prayed that the schooner might escape the frigate.
If I was in a fright, Don Longwhiskerandos was in a still greater.  He
tore his hair and wrung his hands, and walked about the deck uttering
all sorts of extraordinary expressions, calling on I don't know how many
saints to come and help him--while blackie followed him with his
snuff-box and a handkerchief, and seemed trying to console him.  La
Motte, however, laughed at my apprehensions.  He said that of course it
was known that I had not willingly left the ship, and that I had a right
to save my life in the best way I could.  Still I was not satisfied.  On
came the frigate.  We pressed the schooner with all the canvas she could
carry.  She walked along at a great rate, and so did the frigate.  A
stern chase is a long chase, but I had very little expectation that we
should escape.  If we could keep ahead till night, then we might have a
better chance.

It was well on in the afternoon when we saw two sail ahead.  From the
whiteness of their canvas and the squareness of their yards, they were
evidently men-of-war.  If they should prove English cruisers, we were
fairly caught in a net, and Don Whiskerandos would have very little
chance of seeing his wife and family for a long time to come.  Still our
captain was a resolute man, and one who would never give in while a
prospect of escape remained.  The helm was put down, and we kept up five
or six points towards the French coast, thinking that we might keep
clear of them all till night set in, and might then escape in the
darkness.  The officers kept their glasses on the strangers.  One was a
frigate, the other a corvette.  They made sail when they saw us.
Evening was closing in.  "Hurra, my lads," shouted our captain, "up go
the French colours.  I thought by the cut of their canvas they were
Frenchmen, and our friends!"  How strangely those words sounded in my
ears!  To be glad to fall in with Frenchmen, and to call them our
friends!

Once more we altered our course.  In a short time the ships of war made
out the English frigate, and allowing us to go ahead, then clewed up
their topsails and waited for her.  She saw them, and nothing daunted,
under all sail stood on to close them before nightfall.  Now, for the
first time, I felt a little regret that I was not on board my own ship,
she looked so proud and bold going into action against so superior a
force.  Oh, how I wished that I could find myself on her deck alongside
my former shipmates, whom I pictured to myself standing at their guns,
bared to the waist, with handkerchiefs round their heads, looking stern
and grim as became men about to fight with heavy odds, yet every now and
then cutting a joke with each other in the exuberance of their spirits.
I thought if I could now but jump overboard with something to float me
till she came up, and then I would climb up her side, and say that I had
come to join them.  Still, when I thought again, I knew that she was not
likely, even if I was seen, to heave-to to pick me up, and I abandoned
the idea as too hazardous.  As the frigate got up to them, the two
French ships let fall their canvas, and began to manoeuvre to gain the
weather-gage; but she was too quick for them, and getting up to the
corvette first, gave her such a dose from her broadside as must have
made the Frenchmen dance to a double-quick tune.  Our captain's object
was to land his passengers, so of course he could not stop to see the
result of the action.  As we ran out of sight, all three ships were
hotly engaged.  "Well, if there's one man on board who will do his duty,
and show what real Englishmen are made of, its Joe Merton," I said to
myself.

For some time after nightfall I could hear the sound of their guns borne
over the calm waters, and then all was silent, and we continued our
course to the French coast.  Two days after this we were again chased by
an English sloop of war; but the _Skylark_ showed a faster pair of heels
than she did, and we ran her out of sight.  At length, after being
chased away from various ports, we entered the mouth of the Gironde
river in France, which runs down from Bordeaux.  We were some days
getting up to Bordeaux, where we landed Don Longwhiskerandos and his
black slave and all his property, and hoped to get a return cargo.  But
there were no freights to be had; so, as the Don described the schooner
as being a very fast craft, the French Government offered a large sum
for her, which our captain was too glad to accept.  The mates and crew
accordingly received their wages, and we were all turned adrift.  Now I
found that there was a great chance of my being in a much worse
condition than ever.  Of course I hailed as an American, and if the
police had found me on shore without a ship, I should have been seized
and sent to serve on board a French man-of-war.  On every account I must
avoid that, I felt.  In the first place, I did not wish to serve with
Frenchmen; and in the second, had any ship I might have been in been
captured, I should have been looked upon as a deserter and a traitor,
and very likely shot.

La Motte, as an English subject, was in the same condition, except that
he had never served on board a man-of-war.  Accordingly he and I talked
the matter over before we left the schooner, and agreed that it would
never do to trust ourselves on shore.  We saw ahead of us a ship under
Hamburguese colours, taking in a cargo of wine for Hamburg, which was a
free port.  When, therefore, we left the schooner, we pulled alongside,
and asked if she wanted hands.  The captain said yes; he would ship us
at once.  He spoke very good English, and the mate we had reason to
suspect was an Englishman, as were several of the crew.  So much the
better, we thought.  I at all events was very glad to get to sea.  Four
or five days afterwards, just as we got into the English Channel, the
captain called us aft, and told us that, instead of going to Hamburg, he
expected to proceed to London; but that he had received directions to
put into the Island of Guernsey first to wait for orders.  I was very
glad to hear this news, for I thought there was a chance of my seeing
old England again sooner than I had expected.

"Yes, that may be very true," observed La Motte.  "But how will you see
it?  The first night you put your foot on shore you will be pressed to a
certainty, and quickly find yourself on board a man-of-war, and a slave
as before."

"No, not a slave," said I indignantly.  "I'd rather go and serve
willingly than be pressed, that's the truth; but no one has a right to
call British men-of-war's men slaves.  They may be pretty hardly tasked
sometimes; but they get pay and prize-money and liberty, and if they did
but know how to take care of their money, and would but conduct
themselves like rational beings, the good men would have no reason to
complain."  The truth was, that La Motte had got the notion entertained
by most merchant seamen, and encouraged by shipowners as well as masters
and mates, that men-of-war were all alike, little better than hells
afloat; that all naval officers were tyrants, and all men-of-war's men
miserable, spiritless slaves.  Why, even in those times they were
generally better treated than merchant seamen, and now the lot of the
two cannot be compared.  There's no class of men better cared for,
better fed, better clothed, and more justly treated, than the British
man-of-war's man.  I don't want to cry down the merchant service, or
owners or officers of merchant ships, but this I will say, that the most
comfortable, happy merchantmen I have seen have been those commanded by
naval officers.

We were within half-a-day's sail of Guernsey, and were expecting to get
in there next morning, when a heavy gale sprang up from the north-west,
and before we could take the canvas off the ship--for we were very
short-handed--every yard of it was blown out of the bolt-ropes.  We were
in a bad way, for we were already too much to the southward.  Still our
captain hoped, if we could bend fresh sails, to weather the islands; but
all that nook of the coast is full of rocks and dangers, and tides
setting here and there, so that it is difficult to tell where a ship
will be drifted to.  Twice we tried to bend fresh sails; but each time
they were blown away, before we could hoist them to the yards.  Darkness
came on.  Two of our shipmates were hove off from the lee yard-arm, and
their despairing shrieks reached our ears as they drifted away, a
warning to us of what might be our fate.

"We have some Jonah on board," I heard the first mate observe to the
second.  He was a rough sailor, such as are not often met with
now-a-days, though then they were common.  "If we could find him, we
would heave him overboard."

I remembered too well what I had often thought about myself, and felt
thankful that I had kept my own counsel since I was on board, and had
not told my story.  The night came on very dark.  I do not believe
anybody in the ship knew exactly where we were.  Several hours of deep
anxiety passed away.  The ship began to labour dreadfully.  All we could
hope was that, when daylight returned, we might find ourselves clear to
the northward of all dangers, and then with tolerable sea-room we might
expect to make sail so as to carry the ship into an English port.  Vain
were our hopes.  Suddenly there was a cry, "Breakers ahead! breakers on
the lee beam!"  The ship struck, again and again, with terrific
violence.  The masts went by the board; then she seemed to be lifted
over the ledge, and we found her floating in smoother water.  We hoped
that we were in some bay where we could bring up and ride out the gale;
but it was too dark for us to distinguish our position.  The captain had
just given the order to let go an anchor, when the fearful cry was
uttered, "The ship is sinking! the ship is sinking!"

"Get the boats out, my men; no hurry, now!" cried the captain; but it
was not quite so easy to obey the order or to follow the advice.  The
long-boat was stove in; but we had a gig and a whale-boat hanging to the
ship's quarters.  We ran to the falls.  La Motte and I, with some
others, leaped into the whale-boat just as the ship sank beneath our
feet.  We shouted out to the rest of our shipmates that we would try to
pick them up, but we could see no one.  Though I said the sea was calmer
than on the other side of the reef, still we had no little difficulty in
keeping the boat from swamping.  We could not tell either in which
direction to pull.  All we could do, therefore, was to keep the boat's
head to the sea, and wait till daylight, which we knew was not far off.
At length it came, as it always comes at last to the weary and the
watchful, if they will but patiently wait for it.  As the dawn gradually
broke we found that we had been drifted into a bay, and that the shore
was not four hundred fathoms from us.  There was a good deal of surf
breaking on it, so that it was necessary to use caution in landing.
Waiting out opportunity, we gave way and drove the boat high up on the
beach.  A sad sight met our view; the sand on each side was covered with
portions of the wreck and casks of wine, many of them stove in; but
sadder far it was to see the bodies of our late shipmates hove up dead
on the beach, while one or two were still washing to and fro in the
surf, as if the sea were yet loth to give up its dead.  Perhaps there is
no more melancholy sight than that for a seaman to behold.  We examined
the bodies; they were all dead; but as we looked about we came upon some
marks of feet in the sand, leading up the beach, and this gave us hopes
that some of our companions had escaped.  I saw La Motte looking
inquiringly about him.  I asked him if he knew where we were.

"Yes, that I do," he answered.  "At no great distance from my home.
Come along with me, Weatherhelm.  My family will be glad to welcome an
old shipmate."

Just as the sun got up we saw several people approaching, and were truly
glad to find among them our captain and three of the crew.  They took
charge of the men who had been saved with us, while I set off with La
Motte to his home.  It was a large farm-house standing by itself.  He
looked round the building, and in at one or two of the windows, but
could not make up his mind how to announce himself.  "I am afraid of
giving some of them a fright if I were to appear too suddenly," he said.
At last he told me that I must go in and tell them that I was a
shipmate of his, and that he would be there soon.  So I opened the door,
and an old lady came out and spoke to me, but I could not understand a
word she said, and then an old gentleman made his appearance, with white
hair, with a long red waistcoat and greatcoat, but he could not help on
the conversation.  At last they went to the back of the house, and
called "Janette!  Janette!" and a young girl, with her petticoats tucked
up, came tripping in, as if she had just been milking the cows, and she
asked me, in broken English, what I wanted; and when I replied that I
knew Jacob La Motte, and was a shipmate of his, they seemed very much
interested, and not a little agitated.  When I saw this, I thought the
sooner I told them that he was all right and well the better, and then,
to their astonishment, I ran out of the house and called him, and he
soon had both them and several other young boys and girls all hanging
round his neck, and kissing him and asking him all sorts of questions.
I envied him--I could not help it.  I had no father or mother, or
brothers or sisters, to care for me, so even at that moment I felt very
desolate and forlorn.  However, they soon recollected me, and then they
all did their best to make me happy and comfortable.

The days passed very quickly away.  I never had been so happy and merry
in my life.  Though the old people could not speak English, they
understood it a little, and I soon picked up French enough to make out
what I wanted to say; and then all the younger people could talk
English, though among themselves they always spoke French.  As we lived
on so quietly and peaceably in that pretty farm-house, no one would have
supposed that all the horrors of war were being enacted in the
surrounding seas.  It might have been supposed that neither of us would
ever have wished to leave those quiet scenes, but after a time La Motte
began to grow fidgety, and said he must think of getting employment.  At
last away he went to Peter-le-port, the only town in the island.  He was
away three or four days, and when he came back he told me that he had
taken service on board a privateer, one of the fastest craft out of the
island.  "She is called the _Hirondelle_," he said.  "You never set eyes
on a more beautiful craft.  She is lugger-rigged, mounts sixteen guns,
and will carry a hundred and twenty hands, all told, fore and aft.
There is nothing will look up to her.  I could not resist the temptation
of joining her.  Her crew will have six months' protection from the
pressgang.  That alone is worth something.  Now is your opportunity,
Will, for making your fortune.  Don't throw it away.  By the time you
are paid off you'll have your pockets full of money, and then come and
settle down here.  That is what I intend to do."

His reasonings and arguments seemed irresistible.  Still I held off.  I
was balancing between my wish to go and see Aunt Bretta at Southsea and
the old lady and her niece at Plymouth, and trying to find my way back
to my ship.  I had an idea that the latter was the right thing to do.
Still, unhappily, I had not always been accustomed to do what was right,
and now found it easy to do what was wrong.  I told him, in reply, what
I wished to do, and what I thought I ought to do; but he laughed at all
my reasonings, and before the day was over I had consented to go and
enter on board the lugger.  In those days not many people thought there
was any harm in privateering.  Many do not think so now.  Still there
were some who looked upon it as little better than a sort of lawful
piracy, and made but little scruple in running down an enemy's
privateer.

I found the _Hirondelle_ everything La Motte had described her.  We had
not been out a week before we had taken a couple of prizes, and we
recaptured a number of English vessels which had been taken by the enemy
and were on their way into French ports.  As we were low in the water
and had short stumps for masts, by lowering our sails we could lie
concealed till we could make out what sort of craft were heaving in
sight.  We therefore ran but little risk of catching a Tartar, as
privateers very often do.

I remained in the privateer upwards of a year and a half, and at last
peace came, and the crew were paid off, and she was laid up.  Though I
had spent my money pretty freely when I was on shore, still I found
that, what with wages and prize-money, I had fully four hundred pounds
in my pocket.  This I might well look on as a handsome fortune to begin
life with on shore, and carefully managed it was enough to set a young
man up in business.  I have known numbers of seamen go on shore with far
larger sums, and spend the whole in the course of a few days, but then
they have never--poor ignorant fellows!--read the book of Solomon, or,
if they have, profited by the wise advice contained in it.  I spent a
few days with the La Motte family, but the thoughts of Aunt Bretta, and
still more, perhaps, that quiet evening spent at Plymouth, were
constantly coming into my mind; and wishing him and them good-bye, I
shipped myself and my fortune aboard a cutter bound for Portsmouth.



CHAPTER SEVEN.

ENCOUNTER MY NEW UNCLE--AUNT BRETTA'S HOME--HAPPY MEETING--SETTLE AT
HOME--A DESCRIPTION OF MY UNCLE--OLD JERRY VINCENT--HIS STORIES--THE
SMOKE-WORMS, AND HIS CRUISE ROUND THE ISLE OF WIGHT.

On reaching Portsmouth, I buttoned my money tight up in my pockets, for,
thought I, "I'll have no land-sharks taking it from me in the way many
poor fellows have lost all the profits of their toils."  I had no
difficulty in finding my way through the gate under the ramparts to
Southsea Common, and then I turned to the left till I reached a number
of small, neat little houses.  The fine big mansions and great hotels
which stand there now were not built in those days.  I walked up and
down for some time trying to discover the house my aunt lived in from
what Miss Rundle had told me, but I could not make up my mind to knock
at any door by chance to inquire.  At last I saw a stout, fine
sailor-like looking man come stumbling along the road on a wooden leg.
I looked at his face.  He had a round, good-natured countenance,
somewhat weather-beaten, with kind-looking eyes, and a firm mouth, full
of fine white teeth.

"You're the man who will give me a civil answer at all events, and maybe
help me to find my aunt, so I'll just speak to you," I thought to
myself.  "Please, sir," said I, stepping up to him, "can you tell me if
a young woman called Bretta Wetherholm lives any way handy here?"  He
looked at me very hard as I spoke, with some surprise in his
countenance.  Then I recollected myself; "that was her name, I mean,
sir," said I; "it's now Mrs Kelson, I am told.  Her husband is Tom
Kelson.  Yes, that's his name."

"I think I can show you the house, young man," said the stranger,
casting his eye all over me.  "You are a stranger here."

"Yes, sir," said I, "this is the first time I have been at Portsmouth.
I've been knocking about at sea all my life.  There are very few days in
which I have set foot in England since I was a little boy."

"Just paid off from a ship, I suppose."

"Yes, sir," said I, "a few days ago."

"Ah, I see, come round from Plymouth," he remarked, stumping on at a
pace which kept me at a quick walk.

I always addressed him as sir, for I thought very likely he was a
post-captain, or perhaps an admiral.  I did not like, therefore, to say
that I had just come from Guernsey, as he would at once have guessed
that I had been serving on board a privateer, and I knew that many
officers did not at all like the calling.  I therefore said, "I beg
pardon, sir, but I fear that I am taking you out of your way."

"Not in the least, young man," he answered in a good-natured tone.
"Your way is my way."

"Well, you are indeed a very civil, kind gentleman," I thought.  Then
all of a sudden I remembered the land-sharks I had been warned against,
but when I looked in his face I felt certain that he was not one of
them.

"And so you have heard speak of Tom Kelson," said he, looking at me.

"Not much, sir," I answered.  "There's a lady down at Plymouth whom I
know, Miss Rundle, who just spoke about him, and told me about my aunt's
marriage, and how she didn't quite think--"

"Oh, never mind what Miss Molly Rundle thought," said he, laughing, as
he pushed open the door of a house and walked in.  "You'll find Mrs
Kelson in there," and he pointed to a parlour on one side of the
passage.  "Here, Bretta, come down; here's a young man come to see you.
Who he is I don't know.  He's a friend of Molly Rundle's, that is all I
can make out," I heard my new friend hail at the foot of the stairs.

I found myself in a very pretty, neat little sitting-room, with the
picture of a ship over the mantelpiece, and lumps of coral and large
shells, and shell flowers, on it, and bows and arrows, and spears and
models of eastern craft, and canoes from the Pacific, and some stuffed
birds and snakes, and, indeed, all sorts of curious things arranged in
brackets on the walls, or nailed up against them, or filling the shelves
of cabinets.  Indeed, the room was a perfect museum, only much better
arranged than museums generally are.  I had some little time to look
about me.  "Well, Aunt Bretta is comfortably housed at all events," I
thought to myself.

At last the door opened, and a portly fair dame, with fair hair and a
pleasant smile on her countenance, entered the room.  "Who are you
inquiring for, young man?" said she, dropping a sort of curtsey.

I looked at her very hard without answering.  "Yes, it must be Aunt
Bretta," I thought.  "But if it is her, she is a good deal changed.  And
yet I don't know.  Those kind eyes and that smile are just the same.
Oh, yes, it is her."

"Aunt Bretta," I exclaimed, running towards her; "don't you know me?
I'm Willand Wetherholm, your nephew!"

"You my nephew!  I heard that without doubt he was dead.  Yet let me
look at you, boy!" she exclaimed, taking both my hands and fixing her
eyes on my countenance.  "Yes, you are Willand--you are my own dear
boy--welcome, welcome back to life, and to one who loved you as her own
son!"  And she flung her arms round my neck and burst into tears.  "Oh,
Willand, had but dear mother been alive, how it would have done her
heart good to see you!  She never ceased talking of you, and always felt
sure that you would come back when you could."

I will not describe the scene any farther.  I pretty nearly cried too--
indeed I am not certain that I did not, but they were tears of
happiness, and not yet entirely of happiness.  There was sorrow for one
I had lost--regret for my own obstinacy and thoughtlessness, and many
other emotions mingled with the satisfaction of finding myself under the
roof of one in whom I had the most perfect confidence, who I knew loved
me sincerely.  I think I have said it before, but if not, I now urge
those who are blessed with real friends, to prize the lore their hearts
bestow as a jewel above price, which wealth cannot purchase, and which,
let them wander the world round, they may never find again.

After my aunt and I had sat a little time, in came the fine old
gentleman I had met.  I now guessed who he must be.  He very quickly
understood who I was.  "You are not the first seaman I have known who
has been lost for years, and has at last turned up again when he was
least expected," said he; "but welcome, Willand, I'm very glad to see
you, and to own you for my nephew."  He very soon gave evidence of the
sincerity of his words, for a kinder, better-hearted man I never met,
and I felt thankful that Aunt Bretta had married a man so well worthy of
her.

My uncle accompanied me back to the inn where I had left my chest and
bag, and we got a porter to carry them to his house; and now, for the
first time since I went to sea, I found myself settled with my relations
quietly on shore.  I had been very happy with the La Mottes, but still
they were strangers.  My kind aunt never seemed tired of trying to find
out what would please me.  She had done something to spoil me as a boy--
it appeared as if there was a great probability of her spoiling me as a
man.  We had much to talk about.  I told her of my falling in with the
old lady at Plymouth, and of my visit to my grandmother's tomb.  I found
that Miss Rundle had never written to her, or if she had written, the
letter had not reached her.

"I suspect that she was afraid I might answer her letter, and she did
not like the idea of having to pay the return postage.  It shows that
she does not consider my friendship worth ninepence."

Still I was surprised that Miss Rundle had not written, as she had so
positively promised to do.  I could not exactly make it out.  I found
that my aunt knew nothing of old Mrs Sandon and her niece.  She was
very much interested with my description of the young lady.  "So,
Willand," said she, "I hope you will go back to Plymouth and find her
out again.  There are very many good girls in the world, but, like sweet
violets, they often bloom unseen, and it is not so easy to find them.
From what you tell me of her, and I can bring her clearly before my
mind's eye, she is just the sort of person to make a man a good wife,
and I hope that you may be able to win her."  Now, when my aunt spoke
thus, I laughed, and said that I had not thought of settling, and that
it was not likely I should win a young lady like her, who was a great
deal too good to be the wife of a foremast man like me, and anything
else I never expected to be.

"You need not say that, Willand," replied Aunt Bretta.  "I have
something to say to you on that subject.  You must know, Willand, that
your father left some money to your grandmother for her life, and
afterwards it was to go to you; but when you were supposed to be dead I
took possession of it.  Now, my dear boy, that you have come back, your
uncle and I have been preparing to give it up to you.  It is yours by
every law of right, so do not say a word about it.  We can manage very
well without it."

"Indeed, I will not deprive you of a farthing of it, dear aunt!"  I
exclaimed.  "I would rather go to sea for a dozen years longer and never
come back again, than take the bread out of your mouths.  I won't take
it, so don't be pressing it on me.  I have got plenty without it.
There, take care of that."  And I gave her the cash I had been carrying
in my pocket.  "You can make me your heir, if you like, and I hope it
will be a very long time before I come into my fortune."

My uncle soon after came in, and we had a long talk over the matter.  I
succeeded at last in making them keep the money.  The fact was, I knew
myself better than they knew me, and I felt pretty certain that some day
or other I might spend it all, and nobody would be the better for it.
This affair settled, we lived together still more pleasantly than ever,
for they had it off their minds, and I felt that I had done what was
right.  I found that my uncle had once been what Miss Rundle called a
common sailor--that is to say, he had been mate of a merchantman, and
had been pressed on board a man-of-war, where he had obtained a warrant
as boatswain.  While acting as such, he had lost his leg.  After he had
recovered he got command of a large merchantman, for he was a good
navigator as well as a first-rate seaman.  He was not very refined,
according to some people's notions, I dare say, nor were some of his
acquaintance.  He valued them, as he did all things, for their sterling
qualities, and cared very little for their outside.  A good many of his
old friends and shipmates used to look in on him, and I was much struck
by the kind and hospitable way in which my aunt always received them.
"They are my husband's friends, and I inquire no further," she used to
say.  "I know that he will never ask anybody I shall not be glad to
receive."

Scarcely an evening passed without our having one or more guests, and
this made it very pleasant.  Just as we were sitting down to tea one
evening, a ring was heard, and on my uncle's opening the door (I found
that he always did that sort of work), I heard him exclaim, "Come in,
Jerry! come in, old boy!  There is only my nephew here, and he won't be
sorry to hear you talk, I'm sure."  There was a shuffling and cleaning
of shoes, and then my uncle ushered in as odd a looking old man as I
ever saw.  He was of diminutive figure, very wizened and wiry, with long
grizzly hair and small bright eyes, with a wonderfully roguish
expression in them.

"This is Jerry Vincent, an old shipmate of mine, nephew," observed my
uncle, as he placed a chair for the old man.  "He can tell you more
curious things than most people when he has a mind.  Can you not,
Jerry?"

Our guest nodded, and his eyes twinkled curiously.

"Sarvant, missus; sarvant, all," said he, pulling a lock of his hair and
putting his tarpaulin hat under the seat which had been offered him.
"Why, old ship, I've seen some rum things in the course of my life, and
I don't forget them, like some does," he remarked, smoothing down his
hair with his long, rough, bony hand.

I told him that I should much like to hear some of his adventures, but
he did not become loquacious till my aunt had served him out three or
four cups of tea, into which she poured, as if it was a usual thing, a
few drops of cordial, a proceeding which always made the old man's eyes
twinkle cheerily.  During the course of conversation, I found that Jerry
Vincent was not only peculiar in his appearance but in his habits also.
He never by any chance, from choice, slept in a bed.  When at sea, a
caulk on a locker was the only rest he took, and most of his nights, in
summer, were passed under the thwarts of his boat.  My uncle told a
story of him, to the effect that one cold winter's night he had gone to
sleep under his boat, which had been hauled up and turned over on the
beach, and that when he awoke in the morning his dog had been frozen to
death, while he was only a little stiff in the neck.  At all events, it
was evident that he was a very hardy old man.

"There are many like to hear my yarns," he observed.  "Now, for example,
there was a gentleman down here from Lunnon, and he used to go out in my
boat off to Spithead, and sometimes across to the Wight.  One day I
thought I would try one of my yarns on him, so I spun it off the reel.
He said, when I had finished, that it was a very good one, though it was
very short, and when he stepped out of the boat he tipped me
half-a-crown.  The next day I took him out again, and spun him another
yarn rather tougher than the first, and he gave me three shillings.  Ho,
ho, thought I to myself.  If you pay according to the toughness of a
yarn, I'll give you something worth your money.  Well, the third day
down he came, and said he wanted to go across to Cowes, if the tide
would suit, and I told him it would; and now, I thought, here's a fine
time for spinning a long yarn.  I'll give you a tough one, and no
mistake.  Well, I spun away, and my eye if it didn't beat the two others
hollow!  We had a pretty quick run to the Wight and back, and just
before I landed him, `I hope you liked the story, sir,' says I.  `Very
much,' says he.  `And by the by, I should pay you for it.  Here's a
couple of shillings.'  I looked at the coin with disdain.  `Pardon,
sir,' says I; `that story's worth five shillings if it's worth a penny,
and I can take nothing less.'

"`Are you in earnest, my man?' says he.  `Yes, sir,' says I; `the story,
if written down, would be worth ten times the money.'

"`Then you are an extortionate old scoundrel, without a scrap of a
conscience,' says he.  `Hard words, sir,' says I; `but it can't be
helped.  We poor fellows must submit to great people.'  But all I could
say wouldn't do.  He vowed that he would never give me anything again,
and what is more, he never did, and never again would take my boat."

"Served you right too, old ship," said my uncle.  "You learned by that,
I hope, that moderation is the best policy.  But heave ahead.  You are
not to charge us at the rate of a shilling a fathom for your yarns,
remember that."

Old Jerry cocked his eye with a knowing wink, and began.  "Well then,
one morning after I had been sleeping up at my uncle's, for some reason
or other--it might have been that I'd had a drop too much the night
afore, but I can't say, as it's some time ago--I don't score those
things down in my log, d'ye see--I was going down the street with my
boat-hook in my hand--I know that I had the boat-hook because I took it
up with me.  It was rather dusky, so to speak, because the sun wasn't
up, nor would be for some hours to come, when, as I was passing a house
with a deep porch before the door, what should I see but a big pair of
fiery eyes glaring out at me like hot coals from a grate in a dark room.
Never in all my life did I see such fierce red sparklers, but I never
was a man to be daunted at anything, not I, so I gripped my boat-hook
firmly in both hands and walked towards it.  I wasn't given to fancy
things, and I had never seen any imps of Satan, or Satan himself, and
never wished to see them, so I thought this might be a dog or a cat,
maybe, troubled with sore eyes, which made them look red.  On I marched,
therefore, as steady as a judge or a grenadier on parade, when, just as
I got near the door, a dark shaggy form rose up right before me, the
eyes glowing redder and hotter than ever.  It grew, and it grew, and
grew, every moment getting taller and bigger, till it reached right up
to the top of the house.  I kept looking at it, thinking when it would
have done growing; but as for running away, even if I had had any fancy
for running, I knew that it would have come after me and would overhaul
and gobble me up, in a quarter less no time, so I stood where I was,
considering what would happen next.  At last, thinks I to myself, you
are not going to look at me in that way whatever you are; so, shutting
my eyes, for I couldn't for the life of me bear its glare any longer, I
made a desperate dash at it with my boat-hook.  You should have heard
the hullabaloo there was, and I found the boat-hook dragged right out of
my hands.  I opened my eyes just in time to see the monster, big as he
was, bolt right through the door, carrying my boat-hook with him.  I
rushed after him to try and get it back, for it was a new ash one I had
bought but a few days before, and I did not want to lose it, but I only
knocked my head a hard rap against the door, and though I looked about
everywhere I never could find it from that day to this; and that, mates,
mind you, is the circumstantial and voracious way Jerry Vincent lost his
boat-hook."  And the old man gave one of his comical and expressive
winks, and a pull at the glass of swisell which my uncle had placed by
his side.

"Don't you all acknowledge that that story was well worth half-a-crown
to a Lonnoner, seeing as how it was quite new, and he could never have
heard it afore?  Of course you'll all agree with me, now, to my mind,
those Lonnoners are generally such know-nothing sort of chaps, though
they think themselves so wise that they never will believe what you tell
'em.  They are just like the old lady whose nevy had just come from sea.
When he told her that he'd seen flying-fish scores of times, she said
he was trying to hoax her, and wouldn't listen to him, but when he said
he'd been up the Red Sea, and that the water there was the colour of a
soldier's coat, she said that she had no doubt about that, and that she
was glad to listen to him when he spoke the truth.  But," continued
Jerry, who had now got into his talkative vein, "what I have been
telling you is as nothing to what happened to me soon after then.  I had
been ill for some time, and could not tell what was the matter with me,
when I happened one day to go to Portsdown fair.  I thought the walk
would do me good, and I wanted to see some of the fun going on.  Well,
after I had been to see the beasts and the raree shows, and the
tumblers, and theatres, and conjurers, and taken a turn in a roundabout,
on a wooden horse, which I found more easy to ride than a real one,
because, do ye see, the wooden one never kicks, while, to speak the
truth, whenever I've got on a regular-built animal, he to a certainty
has shied up his stern and sent me over his bows, sometimes right into a
hedge, or a ditch, or a pond, or through a window, into a shop, or
parlour, I happened to catch sight of a man standing at the end of an
outlandish sort of a cart or a van, painted all over with red and
yellow, and blue and gold, with a sort of a Chinaman's temple at one end
of it.

"`Now, ladies and gentlemen,' says he, for he was a very polite sort of
a chap, `here's the universal 'lixier of life; it cures all complaints,
and takes a man, if he has a mind to it and has proper faith in what it
will do for him, right clear away to the end of the world.  It's as
infallible as the Pope of Rome and all his cardinals, and is patronised
by all the first haristocracy and clergy in the country.  Only one
shilling a bottle, ladies and gentlemen; taken how you will and when you
will--it's all the same--in a glass of grog, a bowl of punch, or a basin
of pap; for old or young, for boys or girls, it will cure them all, and
they will never feel ill again as long as they continue to take it.
Take enough of it, and take it long enough, and you will see the wonders
it will work.'

"On hearing all this, I asked of those who were looking on, who the chap
was, and they told me he was the celebrated Doctor Gulliman, who was
going to send all the old regular practitioners to the right about, and
it was wonderful what good he did, and how much more he would do if
people would but trust him.  I afterwards found out that the fellow who
told me this was a friend of the doctor's, and stood there on purpose to
say a good word in his favour, though he pretended to have nothing at
all to do with him.

"Well, thinks I to myself, maybe he'll know how to cure me; so I made
bold and went up to him.

"When he saw me he stooped down from his carriage, and says he, `Well,
my good fellow, what's the matter with you?  But never mind; whatever it
is I'll cure you.  Trust Doctor Gulliman for that.'

"I didn't much fancy having to tell my complaint among so many hearers.
You see my modesty stood in my way.

"`Come, come, tell me all about it, my good man,' says he in an
encouraging tone.

"So I put my hand on my bread-basket, and told him that I was troubled
with pains in them parts, and that for the life of me I couldn't get
well, though there was seldom a night I didn't take half-a-dozen
tumblers of grog to set me to rights.

"`Put out your tongue, my man,' says he.

"I stuck it out so that from where he stood he could look right down my
throat.

"`Oh, oh! my dear man, I guessed what it was that ails you.  But never
fear, I'll cure you in a jiffy.  You're troubled with smoke-worms.
That's it.  And they are very dangerous things if you don't get rid of
them, mind that.  You see this invaluable stuff which I hold in my hand.
If you want to get cured you must take six bottles of it.  I don't say
but that it would be safer for you if you took twelve.  But do as you
like about that.  Mix each of them in a stiff glass of grog.  You may
take three a day if you like, and then come back to me for more.  At the
end of three days--trust the word of an honest man and a true friend of
the whole human race--you will be clear of them all, and every complaint
you have at the same time.'

"Well," thinks I to myself, "`in for a penny, in for a pound,' though
there is a difference between the shilling my friend in the crowd said I
should have to pay and the twelve shillings the doctor demands.  But
then, to be sure, the stuff can't be unpleasant, and the grog, at all
events, is no bad thing.  `Well, doctor,' says I, `I'll take the twelve
bottles, but I should like to know what the stuff you give me is made
of?'

"`What!' he sings out, drawing himself up and looking as proud as a
prince.  `What!  Do you just imagine for one quarter of a moment that I
would tell you, or any man like you, alive on this terrestrial sphere,
what my infallible Obfucastementi-scoposis is composed of?  No; not to
satisfy the gaping curiosity of twenty such wretched creatures as you
are would I reveal that golden, all-important, mysterious secret.  If
you are not content, go!  Give me back my invaluable 'lixier and cut.'

"`Yes, doctor,' says I, going to give him the twelve bottles, `and just
do you in return hand me out my twelve shillings.'

"`Your twelve shillings! you audacious rascal.  Here's a man asks me for
twelve shillings in exchange for my 'lixier, which is worth twelve
pounds at least.  Ladies and gentlemen, he ain't fit to be among such as
you.  Hoot him--hoot him--hiss him--kick him out from among you.'

"On this my friend in the crowd, who advised me to buy the stuff, began
to hoot and to hiss and to shove me about, and others followed his
example, till I saw that there was no use of attempting to hold my own,
and I wasn't sorry to be able to get clear of them, and to bolt with a
whole skin on my body, though two of the bottles were broken in the row.

"I got home at last, not over well pleased with Doctor Gulliman and the
way I had been treated.  However, as I had paid for my whistle, I
thought I might as well try if the stuff would do me any good.  As soon
as I got into Portsmouth I bought a bottle of old rum; for, thinks I to
myself, if I am to take the stuff, the sooner I begin the better.

"When I reached my boat, I recollected that I was engaged to go out to
Spithead to bring on shore an officer from one of the ships lying there,
so I stowed away a glass and a can of water, not forgetting the rum and
'lixier, and shoved off.  I just paddled down the harbour, for I was in
no hurry, and the ebb was making strong.  At last says I to myself, just
as I got off the kickers, `I'll just take a bottle of the 'lixier and
see how I feel after it.'  So I got a bottle, and poured it out, and put
in some old rum, just on the top of it, to take the taste away, and then
I took the can of water, but I found that there was a hole at the bottom
of it, and that most of the water had leaked out.  So, do you see, I was
obliged to be very careful of the water, and couldn't put much of it at
a time in the glass.  If I had, you see, I shouldn't have had any of the
precious fluid, as they calls it, left for another glass.  Well, I
tossed off the liquid, and when I had smacked my lips, I began to think
much better of the doctor.  His stuff, you see, wasn't so bad after all.
Thinks I to myself, `If one glass is good, two must be better; so,
before I take to the oars again, I'll have another.'  Somehow the second
was even better than the first.  Then it struck me all of a heap like,
that the doctor said I should take three bottles of his stuff in a day;
so, as it was now getting towards sundown, thinks I, `The sooner I takes
the third the better.'

"Howsomedever, when I came to look at the can, I found that every drop
of water had leaked out, so I had no help for it but to fill the tumbler
up with the rum.  I can't say it tasted bad, though it was, maybe,
rather stiffish.  Well, as the tide was sending me along nicely, I
didn't get out the oars again, but sat in the boat meditating like, when
all of a sudden I felt myself very queer in the inside, and pains came
on just for all the world as if I had swallowed a score or two of big
mackerel, and they were all kicking and wriggling about in my
bread-basket.  `They are the smoke-worms the doctor told me about,'
thinks I.  `They don't like the taste of his stuff, that's the truth of
it.'  Well, I felt queerer and queerer, and Southsea Castle began to
spin round and round, and the kickers went dancing up and down, and the
ships in the harbour were all turning summersets, and every sort of
circumvolution and devilment you could think of took place.  Thinks I to
myself, `There's something in that doctor's stuff, there's no doubt
about that, though whether its worth a shilling a bottle is another
matter.'  Just then I felt more queer than ever.  `Heugh! heugh!'  There
was a rattling and a kicking, and such commotion in my inside, and up
came what I soon knew was the smoke-worms right out of my mouth, and
overboard they went as I put my head over the gunwale.  There was a
bushel of them if there was one.

"Never afore nor since have I seen such things, for every mother's son
had hairy backs and forked tails.  Yes, gentlemen and ladies, forked
tails and hairy backs.  Believe Jerry Vincent for the truth of what he
says.  The moment they got into the water they began to frisk and frolic
about as if it was natural to them, and to grow bigger and bigger and
bigger, till the first which came up was as big as a frigate's
jolly-boat.  I made short work of it, and threw them all up till I felt
there wasn't another morsel of any one of them in my locker.  Then
thinks I to myself, `It's time to look out sharp, or some of these merry
chaps with forked tails will be playing me a trick;' for you see that
they'd already begun to open their mouths very wide, and to splash the
water right over me as they whisked about round the boat, just like
sharks in the West Indies.  So I got out my oars pretty sharp, and began
to pull away towards Spithead, thinking to get clear of them, and to
carry my freight ashore as I'd engaged to do.  But I soon found that the
smoke-worms weren't quite so ready to part company with me, and as my
boat began to gather way, they began to swim after her.  The big fellow
led, and all the others followed.  There was hundreds of them, of all
sizes, and one little chap, who brought up the rear, was no bigger than
a sprat.  After me they came with open months and big red eyes, all the
hair on their backs standing up, and their tails whisking about like the
flukes of a whale in a flurry.  Didn't I just pull for dear life, for I
knew what they'd be after if they once grappled me.  They would have
swallowed me, every one of them.  I soon gave up all thoughts of
fetching up the ship I was bound for.  It would never have done to have
gone alongside one of his Majesty's crack frigates with such a train
after me.  I should have lost my character, you know.  On I pulled; I
didn't spare the oars, depend upon it; but, somehow or other, the way in
which the tide set, and the manner in which the brutes dodged me, made
me go right out to Spithead, and there I found myself pulling among a
whole fleet of men-of-war and Indiamen.  The officers and ships'
companies crowded into the hammock nettings and rigging to see me pass,
and never have I heard such shouts of laughter as they raised as I
pulled by.  Neither to the one side nor to the other could I turn; for
if I did, as surely one of the beasts would instantly swim up, with open
mouth, and make a grab at my oar to keep me going straight ahead.  I
sung out to the people aboard the ships in mercy's name to take a shot
at some of the bigger brutes, for I thought that I could grapple with
the little ones; but either they didn't or wouldn't hear me; so away I
pulled right out towards the Nab.  Thinks I to myself, `Perhaps the
people in the lightship will lend a helping hand to an old seaman;' but
not a bit of it.  When they saw me coming with my train of forked-tailed
brutes after me, they sung out that I must sheer off, or they would let
fly at me.  So there I was fairly at sea, followed by as disagreeable a
set of customers as a man ever had astern of him.

"I didn't bless Doctor Gulliman exactly, for I could not help thinking
that somehow or other he had had a hand in the mystification.  I now
pulled up my larboard oar a little, and found that I was going right
round by the Culver cliffs.  `Well, I'll get on shore at the back of the
Wight anyhow, and do them,' I thought to myself.  But what do ye think;
the moment I tried the dodge, the cunning brutes kept edging me off the
land, till I saw that there was no hope for me but to go on.  All the
time they made such a tremendous hissing and splashing and whisking,
that you'd have thought a whole ship's company was washing decks above
your head, and heaving water about in bucketsful.  It was now night, but
there was light enough and to spare to enable me to see the beasts as
they kept way with me.  I passed Sandown and Ventnor and Steephill, and
could see the lights in the houses all along the shore; but as to being
able to land, the wriggling brutes in my wake, as I said, took good care
that I shouldn't do that.  By the time I got off Saint Catherine's my
arms began to ache a bit, and I felt as if I couldn't pull another
stroke; but when I just lay on my oars to take breath and to knock the
drops off my brow, which were falling down heavy enough to swamp the
boat, the look of their wicked eyes and big mouths, as they came hissing
up open-jawed alongside, set me off again pretty fast.  I passed
Blackgang Chine, and caught a sight of Brooke, and then I thought I
would try to pull into Freshwater Gate, when I would beach the boat, and
have a run for my life on shore, for I didn't think they would come out
of the water after me.  The truth was that I couldn't bear the look of
them any longer; but the wriggling beasts were up to me, and before I
had so much as turned the boat's head towards the Gate, three or four of
the biggest fellows ranged up on my starboard side, and cut me off.  I
sung out in my rage and disappointment, but this only made matters
worse, and my eyes if they didn't begin to laugh at me, and such a laugh
I never did hear before, and hope I never may again.  It was like ten
thousand donkeys troubled with sore throats trying which would sing out
the loudest, and twice as many jackals mocking them, all joined in
chorus.  At last I got to Scratchell's Bay.  `Now's my time,' thinks I,
`if they once get me on a course down Channel, they may drive me right
round the world, or over to the coast of America at shortest.'  I knew
well the passage through the Needle rocks.  The flood was about making.
There might be just water for the boat, but none to spare.  `No odds,'
thinks I.  So, while I pretended to be steering for Portland, I shoved
the boat round, and then gave way with a will.  `If I knock the boat to
pieces against the rocks, I shall not be worse off than I am now,' I
said to myself, as I pulled for the passage.  I just hit it.  The keel
of the boat grazed over a rock below water; but the tide was running
strong, and I shot through like an arrow, and there I was in Alum Bay.
Now the passage was too narrow, you see, for the forked-tailed beasts to
get through, and they had a good chance of hurting themselves on the
rocks if they attempted it; so, if they had been as wise as I took them
for, I knew that they would go all the way round the outer Needle rock,
and that this would give me a great start.  Instead of that, in their
eagerness to follow me, what should they do but bolt right at the
passage.  The big fellow stuck fast, and the little ones couldn't get by
him, and there they were, to my great delight, all knocking their noses
against the rocks, and wriggling and hissing and struggling and kicking
up such a row, that I thought the people at Milford and Yarmouth, and
all along the coast, would be awoke up out of their quiet sleep to
wonder what it was all about.  However, it would never have done for me
to lay on my oars to watch the fun, because I thought it just as likely
as not, when the tide rose, that the noisy brutes might shove through
and be after me again, so I pulled away as hard as ever right up the
Solent, till I got safe back again into Portsmouth harbour.  Luckily, I
had the whole of the flood with me, or I never could have done it.  My
arms ached as it was not a little.  I moored my boat securely, and as it
wasn't yet daybreak, I lay down in the bottom of the boat, and fell
asleep.  I never slept so soundly in my life, and no wonder, after the
pull I had had.

"When I awoke the sun was shining out brightly, and I heard some one on
board a vessel coming up the harbour hail and call somebody or other a
drunken old rascal.  Who he meant of course I couldn't tell; that was
nothing to me.  At last I sat up in my boat, and rubbed my eyes, and
there was the doctor's bottles and the empty rum bottle and the can,
without any water in it, just as I left them when I was taken ill.  I
half expected to see the whole troop of wriggling, twisting,
forked-tailed smoke-worms coming up the harbour with the last of the
flood; but though I looked out till the tide had done, they didn't come,
and it's my belief that they knocked themselves about so much against
the Needle rocks, that they put about and went down Channel; and all I
can say is that I hope that every one of 'em was drowned or came to some
other bad end out at sea, and that I may never as long as I live have
such a night as the one I spent after taking Doctor Gulliman's physic.
Sarvant, marm and gentlemen, you'll agree that story is worth five
shillings.  Howsomedever, I never charges my friends, but gives them all
free gratis and for nothing."  And old Jerry gave one of his most
knowing winks as he finished off his glass and took up his hat to
prepare for his departure.

I ought perhaps to apologise for giving such a story; but it is a fair
specimen of the style of narrative in which old seamen of Jerry
Vincent's stamp are apt to indulge, and I have heard many such, though
seldom told with so much spirit, during my career at sea.



CHAPTER EIGHT.

VISIT TO PLYMOUTH--BITTER DISAPPOINTMENT--MISS RUNDLE'S ACCOUNT OF
CHARLEY--VOYAGE TO SHETLAND--WRECKED AGAIN--FALL AMONG FRIENDS--NEAR
DEATH'S DOOR--HAPPY ENCOUNTER--DESCRIPTION OF SHETLAND--MY RESIDENCE
THERE--MARRIED--SUMMONED SOUTHWARD.

I did not think that I should ever have got tired of living at Southsea
with my kind aunt and fine hearty old uncle, but I had been so
accustomed to a roving life and active employment, that in a little time
I began to consider that I ought to be looking out for something to do.
What to do was the question.  I had a fancy for staying on shore after
having been knocked about at sea for so many years, and setting up in
some business.

"What, have you forgotten Margaret Troall?" said my aunt to me one day.

The chord was struck.  "No, indeed, I have not," said I; "I'll go and
find her, and bring her back to you as my wife if she will have me."

I had given all my money to my uncle to have put safe in a bank for me.
The next day I drew thirty pounds of it, and shipped myself aboard a
smack bound for Plymouth.

Strange as it may seem, all the time I had been on shore I had never
once thought of my oath and its consequence, but scarcely had I got to
sea than the recollection of it came back, and I fully expected that
some accident would happen to me before I reached my destination.  It
did not, however.  I landed in safety, and walked immediately up to the
house where I hoped to find the old lady and her niece.  How strange it
seemed!  I never felt in such a way before in my life.  A child might
have knocked me down.  I got to the house.  How well I knew it!  I
looked in, as I had done before, at the parlour window.  I fully
expected to see the old lady sitting in her arm-chair and knitting, as I
had when I was last there.  My heart jumped up right into my throat, and
then down it went I don't know where.  There was no old lady there; but
there were three little children, fat, chubby, merry things, tumbling
about head over heels on the floor, and shouting and shrieking with
laughter, while a young woman sat on a low chair knitting and
encouraging them in their gambols, while she rocked a cradle with her
foot.  "All sorts of strange thoughts came into my head.  Who can she
be, I wonder?  Can it be?"  I said.  I looked at her very hard, but the
glass was thick and dirty, and I could not make out her features.  With
a trembling hand I knocked at the door.  A servant girl, after a little
delay, opened it.

"Does Mrs Sandon live here?"  I asked.

"No, she doesn't," was the short answer.

"Can you tell me where she lives?"  I said.

"No; she does not live anywhere, she's dead," said the girl, who seemed
determined not to throw a word away.

"Dead!" said I.  "Dead! just like Granny," I muttered, scarcely knowing
what I was saying.  The girl was going to slam the door in my face.
"Can you tell me, my good girl, who that lady is in the parlour?" said
I, stopping her.

"Yes, that's Mrs Jones," was the answer.

I was no wiser than before.  "Can you tell me what her maiden name was?"
said I, in a low, trembling voice.

"Missus never was a maid-servant; she was always a lady, as she is now,"
answered the girl, with a toss of her head, again attempting to slam to
the door.

"Stop, stop!"  I exclaimed, in an agitated manner.  "Can you tell me
whether she was Mrs Sandon's niece?"

"She'd nothing to do with Mrs Sandon that I knows on," said the girl;
"you're asking a lot of questions.  You wouldn't, if master was at
home."

I was fairly beaten.  Just then I heard a footstep behind me, and on
looking round, who should I see but Miss Rundle, tripping along the
pavement up to her own door, looking as brisk and young as ever.

"Oh, Miss Rundle, I'm so glad to see you!"  I exclaimed, forgetting all
the proprieties, and running after her.  "Can you tell me anything about
my kind friends who lived in our old house, and where I met you last at
tea?"  I thought she would have shrieked out when she saw me--she looked
so astonished.

"Why, who are you? where did you come from?  What do you want?  Why, I
thought you were dead.  You are not alive, are you?"

"I hope so, Miss Rundle.  I fancy I am.  I've done nothing to kill me
lately, and I know that I was alive a short time ago," I answered,
laughing in spite of my agitation.

"Well, if you are sure that you are alive, come in here and sit down and
tell me all about it," said the little old lady, opening the door of her
house with a latch-key which she drew from her pocket, and pointing to
the parlour, which she signed to me to enter.

I took off my hat and sat down, wondering what strange news I was to
hear.  She presently made her appearance, having laid aside her walking
dress.  I felt myself completely at home in a moment, she looked so
exactly as she had done when I last saw her on that delightful evening I
spent at Plymouth, and I so well remembered her in the days of my
boyhood.

"Well, Willand, I am glad to see you," said she in a kinder tone than
usual.  "A young man whom you know, and whose name I would rather not
repeat,--indeed I do not like thinking about him,--told us that you were
dead--drowned or killed somehow or other at sea.  Perhaps he had his own
selfish ends to serve, or perhaps he believed it; we will hope for the
best."

"Who do you mean!  What do you speak of, Miss Rundle?"  I exclaimed, in
a voice full of agitation.

"I speak of that false deceiver, that bad, heartless fellow, Charles
Iffley," she answered, in a tone which showed her strong dislike to my
former friend.  "Do you know, some time after you were here he returned
from sea, and came up here to visit me, and talked of old times and old
friendships, and how I had known his poor mother and his friends, till I
was quite taken with him; and then he presented me with a stuffed parrot
and two little pets of Java sparrows he called them (which certainly
were very merry and hopped about gaily in their cage), and a dried
snake, which he told me was a great curiosity; and he used to drop in to
tea nearly every evening, and certainly he used to talk very pleasantly.
However, it is not always the talkers that are the best doers or the
best people.  Then he began to inquire about the ladies next door, and I
invited them in to meet him, and he made himself still more agreeable
than ever.  This went on for some time, till I saw that he admired Miss
Margaret, old Mrs Sandon's niece; however, as he had plenty of money,
that was no business of mine.  I must say that by this time I did not
think so well of him as at first.  Many things he said were very
incorrect, and the snake he gave me began to be so disagreeable that I
was obliged to throw it away, and my maid told me that she was certain
the sparrows were no great things, so we examined them carefully, and
there could be no doubt about it, they were merely common English
sparrows painted.  When he came in and was waiting for me sometimes (for
he used to watch when I was out on purpose), he used to give them a
touch up, and tell me that he had been washing them and restoring their
plumage, and in that way he kept up the deception so long.  An old
gentleman, a friend of mine, who used to be fond of poking about and
looking into old curiosity shops, happened to call, and I showed him the
parrot which Charles Iffley told me had come from some part of Africa or
South America round Cape Horn, only that it had died before he could
give it to me.  When my friend saw the stuffed parrot, he turned it
about and examined it, and then showing me a ticket fastened to its
claw, told me that he knew the old Jew's shop where that bad fellow had
bought it, and to a certainty that he had not given more than a shilling
for it.  All this was very provoking, and made me begin to think very
differently of him to what I had done at first.  I did fancy that he
might have had some regard for an old friend."  And the old lady drew
herself up and uttered a gentle sigh.  "Such a dream was soon blown to
the winds," she continued.  "I found that he was constantly going and
calling at Mrs Sandon's, and very often he did not look in on me at
all.  It did not seem to me, however, that Margaret liked him, though I
think her aunt thought well of him, and encouraged him to come to the
house.  He had never spoken of you, I found, till one day I mentioned
your name, when he said, `Ah, poor fellow! he was a great friend of
mine.  I first got him a ship, and helped to make a sailor of him.  I
was very sorry to lose him.'

"`How lose him?' asked Miss Margaret gently.  Then he told them how you
had been sent away in a boat expedition in Teneriffe, to cut out some
prizes, and that the boat you were in had been knocked to pieces, and
that you had been either killed by the shot of the enemy or drowned, and
that nothing since had been heard of you."

"I cannot blame Charley, then," said I to Miss Rundle.  "I have no doubt
that he fully believed the statement he made.  Had I not succeeded in
getting on board another vessel, I should have been drowned, and we have
never met since.  But what occurred after this?--go on."

"You shall hear.  When he saw that Miss Margaret took some interest in
you, he began to talk of you in a disparaging way, as a poor sort of a
fellow, easily led, and that you had all sorts of strange fancies, which
he said he supposed had come to you with the northern blood which flowed
in your veins, and then he spoke in no complimentary way of Scotland and
the Orkney and Shetland people.  He said he forgot to which you
belonged.  I saw the colour come into Miss Margaret's cheeks.  `I belong
to Shetland myself,' said she.  `It is a country I love dearly.'  On
this, the young man began to apologise, and said that he was speaking
without consideration; that he had known one bad Orkney man, and that
was all, whereas he had known hundreds of bad Englishmen, and he hoped
Miss Margaret would pardon him.  She bowed, but said nothing.  He did
his best to make amends for what he had said, and certainly if attention
would have won a woman, he would have won her.  I could not help seeing
that was his aim.  However, his behaviour to me had not made me wish to
give him any help.  And, do you know, I found that he had been speaking
in a very disrespectful way of me.  I cannot repeat the names he called
me.  It showed me clearly what he was, and, though I did not like to
interfere, still I only hoped he would not succeed in winning that sweet
girl."

"Did he succeed, though?"  I exclaimed, in a voice choking with
agitation.  "Oh! tell me, Miss Rundle."

"You shall hear," answered the old lady, who was not to be hurried with
her narrative.  "Of course, having won the good opinion of the aunt was
a great point in his favour.  So he used to continue to go to the house
as often as ever.  He took the aunt all sorts of pretty presents, though
he did not venture to offer them to Margaret.  At last, however, he
seemed to think that the time was come when he must try his chance.  So
he walked in and found Margaret in the room alone, and he told her, in
an off-hand sort of way, that he loved her, and that, if she would marry
him, he would give up the sea and live on shore, and make her
comfortable and happy for the rest of her days."

"Did she accept him? did she marry him?"  I exclaimed, interrupting the
old lady.

"You shall hear, Mr Wetherholm," she answered quietly.  "What woman
does not feel flattered by receiving a proposal of marriage from a
fine-looking, free-spoken young man.  I'm sure I should."  And she put
her hand mechanically before her face to hide the gentle blush which the
thought conjured up on her cheek.  "She thanked him, but entreated him
not to persist in his offers.  Then she frankly told him that one she
had loved had died at sea; that her heart was buried with him in his
ocean grave; and that she could not marry a man she did not love.  She
was very firm, and Charles Iffley could not help seeing that he had very
little chance of success.  She told me this shortly afterwards.  He, it
seems, did not give up his attempt to win her.  Somehow or other, he had
taken it into his head that she was speaking of you, though he was
puzzled to know how you had won her heart.  He returned several times to
the house, but his chief occupation seems to have been in abusing you.
This made poor Miss Margaret fancy that you all the time were alive, and
that he knew it; and this, of course, made her still less inclined
towards him.  The less way he made in her affections, the more bitter he
became against you, till at last she had to tell him that his
conversation was disagreeable, and that he must never come to the house
again.  He still did come to the door several times, but the maid told
him that he must not come in, and that she would scream out murder if he
attempted it.  Soon after this, poor old Mrs Sandon fell ill and died,
and poor Miss Margaret was left alone without any one to assist her or
protect her.  I asked her to come and live with me till she could make
arrangements what to do.  She had friends in Shetland, though that is a
long way off, and I could not think what help they could afford her.
They wrote back begging that she would come to them, and that she should
be like their daughter, and they would be parents to her.  Well, against
my advice, she resolved to set off, and away she went.  She kindly wrote
to me once, to tell me of her safe arrival, and she thoughtfully paid
the postage, which was just like her, and very right.  You shall see her
letter, for I do not think she would object to my showing it to you."

I thanked Miss Rundle very much for the account she had given me, but I
could with difficulty reply to her for thinking what I would do.  All
sorts of ideas crowded into my mind.  I scarcely, however, recollected
Charley Iffley and his behaviour.  My thoughts flew off to Shetland, and
to Margaret Troall.  Miss Rundle gave me her letter.  I read it over and
over again.  I made a note of the place from which she dated it.  Miss
Rundle saw me, and asked me if I was going to write to her.

"No; I intend to go to Shetland," I answered promptly.  "I have made up
my mind to that.  After all you have told me, I shall not rest happy
till I have seen her.  Perhaps I shall take up my abode there
altogether.  My father's family come from Shetland, and if I could get
Aunt Bretta to come up there also, we might all be very happy."

I was much pleased by the kind way in which Miss Rundle seemed to
sympathise with me, and entered into all my views and plans, though she
herself had no personal interest in them.  She told me, in course of
conversation, that she had not since seen Charles Iffley, but that she
believed he belonged to some man-of-war or other, at the time of which
she had been speaking, and that she understood he was still in the
service.

My plan once formed, I lost no time in putting it into execution.  That
very evening I found a smack sailing for Portsmouth, and took my passage
by her.  On reaching Southsea, and telling my aunt all that had
occurred, she very much approved of my plans, and encouraged me to set
off at once for Shetland.  She sent all sorts of messages to old
friends, and to the children of old friends; for, as she remarked with a
sigh, it was too probable that many of the parents would have been
called away from the world.

Drawing a further supply of money from the bank, I went up to London by
the coach next morning.  I won't stop to describe how I was bothered and
confused in London, and how heartily I wished myself out of it.  I found
my way to London Bridge, and, after making many inquiries, I reached a
place where there were several Leith smacks moored together.  One was
going to sail the next tide.  I joyfully stepped aboard of her, and
still more happy was I to find myself clear of the Thames and out at
sea.  We were just a week making the passage, which was very well,
considering that we had a foul wind for some hours and had to bring up
in Yarmouth Roads.  From Leith I got on by another vessel to Aberdeen.
In that port I found a regular trader which sailed once a month to
Lerwick, in Shetland.  She was a smack, but not equal in size to the
craft in which I had come down from London to Leith.

We had been out about three days when very heavy thick weather came on,
and a south-westerly gale sprung up, which came sweeping through the
passage between Orkney and Shetland, kicking up a terrific sea.  The
smack behaved very well, but at last all that could be done was to set a
try-sail and to heave her to, and away we drifted we knew not where.  I
had never before been in the North Seas, so I was not accustomed to such
dark gloomy weather--not but what it is bad enough in the English
Channel now and then--still it does not often last so long as it does up
in the north.

Day after day the clouds hung down over our heads, and the wind howled,
and the dark green seas kept leaping up around, as if eager to draw us
down under their angry foaming bosoms.  We had a hard matter to cook our
provisions, and no very easy one to eat them raw or cooked.  Suddenly
the wind shifted and blew as strongly as ever from the eastward, and
then from the northward, and then got back again into the old quarter,
and the master confessed that, for the life of him he could not tell
where he had drifted to.

"On which side of Shetland are we, do you think?" said I.

"I only hope that we are still to the eastward, but at all events I
believe we are well away to the northward of the islands."

"I hope so," I answered.  "But look, captain, what huge and unbroken
seas come rolling in from the west; if we are not to the northward, it
is my opinion that we have got the islands under our lee, and if this
gale is to continue, I would rather have them anywhere else than there."

"So would I, young man; but I have made this trip pretty often, and I
don't think that I can be so far out in my calculation," was the answer.

All I could say was that I hoped that I was wrong and he was right, as,
whichever was the case, there was nothing we could do till the weather
moderated.  On we drove.  I did not like the look of things.  When night
came on I did not turn in, but sat down below out of the cold, ready to
spring on deck in a moment.  I had fastened my money in a belt round my
waist, and kept my shoes ready to kick off, and my jacket loose to throw
easily aside.  I was certain that the vessel would be wrecked.  I felt
no fear for my own life, though I remembered my rash oath and what had
occurred so often before, and the gloomy weather had indeed increased
the conviction that I was under a sort of curse, and that I should have
no rest till it was fulfilled.  I am just saying what I then thought.  I
cannot even now be surprised at the idea gaining such powerful
possession of my mind, while everything that had happened to me had
tended to strengthen it.

Night came on.  Pitchy darkness surrounded the storm-driven little
smack.  The cry of "Breakers! breakers!" and piercing shrieks made me
spring on deck.  At that moment the vessel struck.  The foaming seas
came hissing and roaring up after her.  We were among a dark mass of
rocks; no fabric formed by human hands could have withstood the violence
of those terrific waves.  I held on to the last moment, while the huge
foaming seas washed over my head, almost drowning me, as I clung to the
wreck.  Then I felt the deck quiver and shake, and the stout beams and
timbers were wrenched and torn asunder under my feet, and I was hurled
onward among the broken fragments by a roaring sea, which must have
well-nigh completed the destruction of the craft.  I lost all
consciousness.

My last thought had been that at length the angry sea was about to claim
me as a victim.  There was a hissing, roaring sound in my ears; I felt
myself tossed to and fro, knocked and battered, but I made no attempt,
that I am aware of, to save myself.  At length I opened my eyes.  It was
daylight.  Some men were bending over me.

I heard a voice say, "Here is one who seems to have still some life in
him."  And another person came and took my hand, and after waiting a
minute, said, "Yes, carry him up to the house."  And I was put on a
litter and borne up a steep path among some cliffs; and then across a
high, wild down till I reached a substantial, strongly-built stone
house.  The movement of the litter had a very good effect on me, so that
by the time I reached the house, my chest was relieved from the salt
water I had swallowed, and my senses had completely returned.  I was
therefore saved the ceremony, very common in those days, by which a good
many people were killed, of hanging nearly drowned men up by the heels,
under the idea that the water would more quickly run out of their
mouths.  I was carried into a large boarded room, out of which several
others opened.  In one of those there was a bed.  After my wet clothes
had been taken off me I was placed in bed, carefully wrapped up in
blankets, and directly after some warm drink was brought me.

I remember struggling somewhat when I found my money-belt being removed,
and trying to possess myself of it.

"Never fear, young man; it will be all safe," said a voice.  "We are not
wreckers, and we no longer fancy that you will work us harm because we
help to save your life."

This satisfied me.  I knew that there were honest people as well as
rogues in the world, but I had often met with honest ones, so I hoped
that I had now fallen among such.  One thing, at all events, was very
evident, they seemed anxious to save my life.  After this I fell into a
sound sleep.

It was nine o'clock in the evening when I awoke; but the summer days are
very long in those regions, and even then the evening sun was shining
into the window.  A stout, white-haired, kindly-looking old gentleman
came in to see me with a younger man, whom I took to be his son, and a
servant girl brought in a tray with some tea, and some barley scones,
hot and buttered.  I thought that I had never tasted anything nicer in
my life.

"I hope you are better now after your sleep, young man," said the old
gentleman.  "If fever can be kept off, I think you will do well; but we
have sent for the doctor to look at your hurts.  There are two or three
other people who want his aid."

"What, only two or three escaped out of all those on board the smack?"
said I.

"It is a mercy that any one came on shore alive; and you will say so
when you see the place in day-time," said the younger man.

"We won't speak about it at present," said the old gentleman.  "The less
he talks or hears others talk, the better just now.  We bid you
good-night.  Sleep again, if you can; some one will look in on you to
see how you are going on, now and then."

With these words my hospitable friends left me once more to myself.

I suspected, indeed, that I should be better for a doctor's care, for I
felt that I had been bruised and battered dreadfully; my head had been
bandaged, and when I tried to stir I found all my limbs sore and
stiff,--indeed, it was not without great pain that I could move either
an arm or a leg.  I slept through most of the night.  When I did awake,
I began to wonder where I had got to, for the old gentleman had remained
in the room so short a time, that I had not been able to ask any
questions.

I had little doubt that I had been cast away on the coast of Shetland,
but whether on the northern or southern end I could not tell, any more
than I could who was my kind host.

The next day the doctor arrived.  He had ridden over from Lerwick, with
only the rest of half-an-hour for his steed, he said; so I knew that I
must be at some distance from that town, and yet on the big island
called the mainland.  He dressed my wounds and bruises, and told me that
one or two of my ribs were broken, but that I might consider myself
fortunate that matters were no worse; and remarked that he had no doubt
I had lived a prudent, careful life, as I was perfectly free from all
signs of fever, which would not otherwise have been the case; and then
giving me some bottles of medicine to take, he left me to look after his
other patients.  He spent two or three days in the house, for the
islands are generally so healthy that there was not much demand for his
services elsewhere.

One of my poor shipmates died, I was told, from his hurts.  I rapidly
got better.  Besides the old gentleman and his son and the doctor, an
old lady looked in now and then to see me.  She was a very neat, pretty
old woman, so cheerful and cheery, always having something pleasant to
say, so that she contributed much to raise my spirits.  I will say that
I was most thankful for all the mercies which had been shown me, and for
my preservation from so great a danger.

At last I was pronounced well enough and strong enough to get up and
appear in public.  A barber, who was going his rounds, came in, and
shaved me and cut my hair, and my head and face were all to rights, so
that I looked as well as ever, only my ribs hurt me a little, and my
limbs felt somewhat stiff.

The old gentleman came to my room when I was ready.  "Take my arm," said
he kindly; "you will find it rather strange walking at first, and your
knees will shake a little."

I could not refuse his kind offer, though I thought that I could have
walked very well by myself.  He led me into the large hall, and there,
seated by a window at the further end, looking out on the sea, I
observed two young women.  One was dressed in black, the other in some
sober colour or other.  They were both at the moment bending down over
their knitting, and talking in a low voice to each other, so that they
did not observe our entrance.

We had got three-quarters of the way across the room, and the old
gentleman was giving me a chair to sit down on, when the noise it made
over the floor caused them to look up.  There sat one I had so long
thought of, whom I had come to search for, Margaret Troall.

She looked at me in a strange, bewildered way, still she knew me, and
yet she could not believe her senses.  She tried to rise from her chair
to come towards me, but something seemed to keep her back.  She drew her
breath quickly, as if she would have wished to have spoken, but could
not.  I felt that I ought to speak first.

"They told you I was dead, Miss Margaret," said I, and I know my voice
trembled very much, and I know that had I not leant on the chair I
should have fallen.  "They were mistaken; I went to Plymouth only
lately, and found you were no longer there; and when I discovered that
you had gone north, I came here to seek you."

She recovered herself while I was speaking, and rising from her seat,
came up and gave me her hand.  I do not say that there was anything very
extraordinary in the action, but I know that it made me very happy.  Her
friends at first looked very much astonished; but a few words served to
explain matters, and then they were doubly glad that they had had the
opportunity of being of so much service to an old friend of their young
relative.

I found that the name of my host, the uncle of Miss Troall, was David
Angus, and that the place where the smack had been wrecked was in Saint
Magnus Bay, in the parish of North Morven.  My friends were the holders
of one of the largest farms in the district, and lived in a very
comfortable, though what people in the south would call a rough way.  I
am not going to talk of all that passed between Margaret and me.  I
should not have believed that she had thought so much of me as she had
done, it seemed; but our first meeting had been under peculiar
circumstances.  She had seen me mourning deeply for a lost relative, and
she had discovered thus that I had a tender heart, so I may venture to
say, and now my coming all the way north to look for her showed her that
she had made no little impression on it.

Well, all that has passed and gone.  I got every day better and better,
and was soon able to walk out with her along the tops of the high
cliffs, and to visit the wild scenes to be found especially in that part
of the island.  I especially remember one place we visited, called the
Navis Grind.  It is a gap in the cliffs formed by the whole force of the
western ocean rolling against them during a succession of heavy gales,
age after age, till vast fragments of the rock have been forced in for
hundreds of yards over the downs, and now lie like the fragments of some
ruined city scattered over the plain.  We delighted in returning to
those scenes of wild grandeur, because they contrasted so strongly with
our own quiet happiness.

This was only the second time in my life that I had enjoyed what might
be properly called idleness.  The first was during my short stay with
Aunt Bretta, and then I confess that I often did at times feel weary
from not knowing what to do with myself.  Now I never felt anything like
weariness, I was too happy to spend the greater part of the day in the
society of Margaret.  Sometimes I used to walk by myself over the downs
by the edge of the cliffs, and at others visit the different parts of
his farm with my host, and assist him to look after his cattle and
horses and sheep, which were scattered far and wide over the peninsula.

I have scarcely mentioned his daughter Minna.  She was a fair-haired,
smiling, good-natured lassie, who was contented with her lot, because
she had sense enough to discover that it was a very happy one.

There was one person, however, who would, I soon with some pain
discovered, have been better pleased had I not come to the islands.
That was John Angus, my host's son.  He did not treat me uncivilly or
unkindly, but I saw that it cost him an effort to be as cordial as the
rest of his family.  He was a good-natured, frank, kind-hearted man,
whom under other circumstances I should have hoped to have made my
friend.  I cannot but think, too, that in time he would have won
Margaret's regard, and he was certainly a man to have made any woman
happy.

In two weeks or so I was Margaret's acknowledged suitor, or rather, I
may say, her affianced husband.  I was so happy that I thought sorrow
could never again come near me.  Now Margaret herself reminded me that I
was a Shetlander,--indeed, as I was born at sea, no other people would
claim me,--and that I ought to try and find out some of my family.  I
talked the subject over with Mr Angus.  He remembered many of them, but
when he came to consider, every one of my near relations were gone.
Some cousins of my father's were the nearest remaining, and then there
were several of Aunt Bretta's old friends, the companions of her youth
whom she wished me to see.  John Angus volunteered to accompany me, and
he provided two strong, shaggy little ponies for our journey.

We started away one morning soon after daybreak over the wild tracks,
the only substitute for roads through the islands in those days, and
crossed into the chief part of the mainland by a causeway so narrow that
I could have thrown a biscuit across it.  On one side of us was Rowe
Sound, and on the other Hagraseter Voe, a long, narrow voe running out
of Yell Sound.  It would be difficult to describe the wild, and often
beautiful scenery through which we passed.  Long, deep voes, full of
inlets and indentations, with high heathery hills on either side, was
the most characteristic feature, and quiet, little inland lochs, with
wildfowl resting on their bosoms, was another, and then high rocky
cliffs, the habitation of innumerable sea-birds, and hundreds of green
islands and rocks scattered about on every side on the surface of the
blue ocean.

John Angus did his best to point out to me the various points of
interest we passed.  Among the most curious were the Pictie towers,
little round edifices built with rough stone, beautifully put together,
with passages inside winding up to the top without steps.  They were
built by a race who inhabited those islands long before the time of
which history gives any account.  Whence they came, or how they
departed, no one knows.  Every hamlet throughout Shetland is called a
toun.  The cottages composing them are very far from attractive-looking
edifices, generally built of mud, of one storey, and thatched; with a
midden on one side of the door, and a pool of a very doubtful colour and
contents on the other.  The insides were often large and clean, and tidy
enough, and in such I found many of my aunt's friends residing.

Wherever I went, I was hospitably received, and I delivered my messages,
and rode on.  I cannot say that my cousins appeared very highly
delighted at seeing me, which was natural enough, considering that till
I made my appearance, and announced myself, they had never heard there
was such a person in existence.  However, Aunt Bretta was remembered by
all her contemporaries with affection.  I should have enjoyed my visits
more had I not been anxious to return to Hillswick.

We were altogether five days away, and in that period, sometimes by
means of boats, and sometimes on the backs of ponies, and at others on
our own feet, we visited the greater portion of the islands.  I often
felt that had I been born among them, I should never have desired to
leave their quiet shores, and more than once contemplated the
probability of spending the remainder of my days there.  I spoke my mind
on the subject to John Angus.

"Do, Weatherhelm, do," he answered; "we shall be glad to have you among
us: but you've heard the old notion we islanders have, that he who is
saved from drowning by any one of us is certain to work us ill?"

"I've heard of the idea not only as held by the people of Shetland, but
by those of many other countries," I answered.  "Like many other ideas,
to my mind, it is not only false, but wrong and wicked.  Depend upon it,
the idea was invented by those who wanted an excuse for killing the
unfortunate people wrecked on their coast in order to obtain their
property."

"That may be," said Angus; "still, for my part, I cannot help believing
that it is in some respects true.  However, sometimes a man may work
another harm without intending it.  But come along, put your nag into a
trot, we have a good many miles of this heavy peat land to get over
before we reach home."

It was not till some time afterwards that I knew what John Angus meant
by his remarks.  He volunteered to take the ponies round to the stable,
while I went into the house.  It was worth going away for a few days for
the pleasure of being received as I was by Margaret.  I thought her
looking more sweet and lovely than ever.  As I said before, I am not
going to repeat all that occurred between us.  The day was fixed for our
marriage, and friends from far and near were invited to it.  They came,
some by water and others on ponies; the women on pack-saddles, with
their head-gear in baskets hung over their arms.  Mr Angus had told me
that he hoped, since I was to become his nephew, that I would live on
with him and help him in his croft, as there was work enough both for me
and his son.  John, indeed, had a mind to go and see something of the
world, and was proposing a trip to Aberdeen, if not to Edinburgh, before
the winter.  He would be away, at all events, during the winter, so that
my services would be of great value.

This proposal exactly suited my wishes.  I was certain that Margaret
would be happy with her friends, and I should find plenty of the sort of
employment which suited me.  I should be out of doors during all the
hours of daylight, and I knew that I should be handy in the various
occupations in which the family passed their time during the long
evenings of winter.  Well, then, Margaret and I were married, and the
guests who had welcomed me back as a countryman to Shetland, took their
departure, and we all settled down into a very regular, happy state of
existence.  John Angus went away to Scotland, and I took his place as
his father's assistant.  The winter came round pretty quickly, and
though we had fogs and damp sometimes, I did not find the weather nearly
so cold as I expected.  Even in mid-winter, with a south-westerly wind,
it was always quite warm; but when the wind shifted round and came out
of the north-east or east, it was cold enough.  Still there was very
little ice, and not often much snow.  As I have often remarked when
wandering over the globe, every country has its advantages, and those
far northern islands have theirs.  They have their long days in summer,
and bright skies, and fragrant wild-flowers, and fine wild scenery, and,
thanks to the hot waters of the Gulf Stream which wash their shores, a
tolerably temperate climate all the year round.  The winter passed
rapidly away.  I could often scarcely believe in my happiness, after all
the hardships and dangers I had undergone, and I am afraid that I was
not sufficiently grateful for it.  One thing I felt, that Margaret did
not repent the choice she had made.  Though I had had rather more
education than generally falls to the lot of those of my class, I knew
that I was but a rough, untutored seaman, and so I did my utmost to be
tender and gentle to my wife, and to study how I best could please her
in everything.  I did not forget my old friend Miss Rundle,--my wife and
I wrote her a long letter between us, fall of all sorts of fun; we also
took good care to pay the postage.  Of course, also, we wrote to Aunt
Bretta.  She sent back a letter in return, hoping that we would soon
come south to see her.  We expected John Angus in the spring, but he did
not return.  He wrote instead, to say that he had got some employment in
the south, which suited him for the present, and that he was very happy.

A whole year passed away.  During the second winter, I thought that my
wife, who had been so long accustomed to the soft air of Devonshire, was
suffering from the long continuance of damp fogs.  While I was balancing
in my mind whether I ought not to take her south, I received another
letter from Aunt Bretta.  She told me that she was quite sickening to
see me and my wife, and that my uncle hoped to be able to find some
employment on shore which would suit my taste.  When I laid the proposal
before my wife, she at once acceded to it.  "I am afraid," said she,
"that as long as we remain here, we keep poor John away from his family.
If we go south, he will return home."  David Angus, and the old lady,
and our kind-hearted cousin, were most unwilling to part with us, but we
had written to Aunt Bretta to say that we were coming, and we could not
again change our plans.  About the middle of June we sailed in a smack
bound direct for Leith, and once more I found myself on salt water.



CHAPTER NINE.

VOYAGE IN THE SMACK--GALE SPRINGS UP--WASHED OVERBOARD--SAVED ON A
SPAR--DREADFUL FEARS FOR MY WIFE'S SAFETY--THE KIND-HEARTED FISHERMAN--
FIND THE SMACK--ACCOUNT OF HER ESCAPE--JOURNEY ON LAND--COACH UPSET--
AGAIN PRESERVED--REACH HOME--OLD JERRY AGAIN--HIS ADVENTURE WITH THE
BEARS.

I was walking the deck one night, while my wife was below, and thinking
of the events of my past life, when the recollection of my rash oath
came across me like a thunder-clap in summer, when just before the whole
sky overhead has appeared of the purest blue.  "Is my dreadful fate
still to pursue me?"  I thought.  "Rather than she should be torn from
me, let me perish with her."  The weather was fine, the wind was light
and fair, and there was not the slightest cause for any apprehension of
danger.  Had I been by myself, such an idea would not, I believe, have
crossed my mind; but now that I had so precious a being under my charge,
I was timid as a mother with her first-born child.  At last I went
below, and the night passed away in quietness.  The next morning was
bright and lovely as ever an early summer has had to exhibit, and I felt
ashamed of my thoughts of the previous evening, as if I had been
ungrateful for the blessings I had received, and mistrustful of God's
merciful providence.  Still the ideas I had entertained came back again
during the forenoon, and haunted me at times throughout the day.  Had I
been able to speak to my wife on the subject, I doubt not I should have
relieved my mind; but I was afraid of frightening her and making her
nervous, so I kept them to myself.  As the evening drew on, dark clouds
were seen banking up on the horizon.  I watched them with an anxiety I
had never before experienced at sea, for I had never before been on the
ocean with a freight I prized so much.  They continued rapidly to
increase, and before night closed in had formed a thick canopy overhead,
while dark heaving seas came rolling in towards us across the full width
of the German Ocean, and the increasing breeze moaned and whistled in
our rigging.  The smack heeled over to the force of the wind till her
lee-bulwarks were under water, but still the master was unwilling to
shorten sail.  We were on a lee shore, and he was anxious to haul off
sufficiently to make his passage good for the Firth of Forth.  We might
even then have run back for the Moray Firth, where, as the wind was from
the southward of east, we should have got under the lee of the land; but
then we might have been detained there, very certainly for many days and
perhaps for several weeks, so he resolved, at all hazards, to keep the
sea.  Under a close-reefed mainsail and storm-jib, the little vessel
continued her course, looking bravely up to the increasing gale.  Still,
at times she plunged heavily into the seas, and it often seemed, as I
stood on her deck, as if she would never rise again above them.  I sat,
while I could, by my wife in the cabin, to try and comfort and protect
her; but I could not help rushing on deck every now and then to
ascertain how matters were proceeding.  The report, however, I had to
give when I returned below was anything but encouraging.  I had no idea
of deceiving people, as some persons do, when danger is threatening.  I
am certain that the more a person can contemplate the possibility of
danger, the better able they will be to encounter it when it comes, if
they have employed the meantime in reflection and in considering the
best means to meet it.

We were off the Scotch coast, somewhere between Stonehaven and Montrose,
I fancy, when the gale came down upon us with greater force than ever,
and the old master thought if he could get the try-sail on the vessel,
as we had by this time gained a considerable offing, that he should be
able to heave her to and weather it out till it blew over.  As he was
about to shift the sails the wind lulled a little, and once more he
hoped that he should be able to hold on his course.  He forgot that all
this time, though he was certainly getting more to the southward, the
vessel was also drifting nearer and nearer inshore.  At last the gale,
as if it had rested merely to gain strength, breezed up again with
greater fury than ever.  I was below at the time.  "We must get the
try-sail on her, my lads," I heard the old man sing out.  Securing my
wife to a sofa in the cabin, I sprang on deck to lend a hand, for I knew
that all the strength that could be obtained would be required, and that
every moment of delay added to our danger.  Many as were the gales I had
been in, I had never beheld a more terrific-looking scene than that by
which I now found myself surrounded.  Vivid flashes of lightning every
now and then revealed the dark wall-like waves which rose up with their
crests of foam on every side around us, and threatened to engulf the
little craft struggling helplessly among them.  Still no one stopped a
moment to think of all this--the work to be done was to get the mainsail
off her and to set the try-sail.  I thought at the time that we were
much nearer inshore than the old master fancied.  The try-sail was
almost set, and we were hauling out the sheet, when I heard the old man
sing out, "Hold on, my lads! hold on!  Here comes a sea which will give
her a shake."  On it came.  I was to leeward.  I felt myself torn from
the rope to which I held, and my feet lifted off the deck.  The wild
waves surrounded me.  There was a tumult in my ears.  With horror and
agony I discovered that the sea had carried me overboard.  I shrieked
out instinctively for help, though I knew that none could be afforded.
In vain I struggled to regain the vessel.

My real condition presented itself with terrific clearness to my mind.
For my own life I cared not, but I thought of my wife--of her agony and
despair when she discovered that I was lost.  I would have given worlds
to have got once more on board that little sea-tossed bark.  I was
always a good swimmer.  Even amid those tossing waves I found that I
could keep my head above water.  Still the unequal struggle could not
have lasted long, when at the moment I was losing the dim outline of the
little vessel in the darkness, I found myself thrown against some
floating object.  A hope that I might possibly preserve my life sprung
up in my bosom.  I grasped the object, and found that it was part of the
mast and top of a large vessel.  I clambered upon it and held fast while
I recovered my breath.  Though it was violently tossed about by the
seas, which threatened every moment to sweep me off from it, still I
held on.  My first thought was to endeavour to discover how far off was
the smack, on board which was all I prized in life.  I could nowhere see
her.  I have heard of people's hair turning white in a single night from
grief--I felt that mine might have done so from the agony of mind I
endured.  Would the smack weather out the gale? or would my dear wife
survive the shock when she discovered that I had been so suddenly torn
from her?  "I have often been punished, and justly, but this is the most
severe punishment of all," I thought to myself.  A voice whispered in my
ear, "Curse God, and die,"--the same voice which had whispered the same
words into the ear of the Patriarch Job many ages ago, and has been
whispering the like into the ears of thousands of human beings ever
since.  "Oh God, have mercy on me and support me!"  I ejaculated, and
the tempter fled from me.

Scarcely able to breathe from the dense masses of spray surrounding me,
and from the waves which kept continually washing over me, I still clung
on to the wreck.  I fancied that the shattered mast was being floated
onward.  I do not remember now what reason I had for supposing so.  It
contributed, at all events, to keep up my hope of being ultimately
rescued.  How slowly and painfully the hours passed by!  Often I thought
that, from very exhaustion and cold, I must be swept from my hold.  At
length, as I was looking upwards at the sky to try and discover any
break in the clouds which might afford me an indication that the gale
was abating, I beheld the first faint streaks of dawn appearing in the
eastward.  The clouds seemed to lift like a thick curtain to let in the
light of day.  I looked round towards the land; I could distinguish its
dim outline through the darkness which still hung over it.  This
convinced me that the mast must have drifted much nearer than when I
first got hold of it.  This fact, however, tended to increase my anxiety
for the fate of the smack.  What if she has been driven on the rocks,
and, as would probably be the case, all on board have perished!  "Oh,
why, why was not I allowed to remain with my dear wife, to perish with
her, or to be the means of saving her!"  I exclaimed, in the agony of my
spirit.  The intensity of my feelings almost overcame me.  As daylight
increased, I saw that the summer gale had considerably lessened, and
every minute the wind seemed to be going down.  I could now clearly make
out the shore, the yellow sands, with their fringe of dark rocks, over
which the surf was breaking with almost unabated fury.  "What chance of
escaping with my life will there be, if I am drifted in among those wild
rocks?"  I thought to myself.  Now there could be no doubt that I was
drifting, and rapidly too, towards the shore.  With an anxious, piercing
gaze, I looked round to the southward to see if I could discover any
signs of the smack, half dreading to find her driven in among the rocks,
yet still praying and hoping that she might be riding safely at anchor
behind some sheltering reef, or within some little harbour on the coast.
Not a sign of her could I discover.  I looked seaward.  Two or three
sails were seen, rising and falling in the offing, but too far off to
allow me to hope that she could be one of them.  On drove the mast; its
course was altered, and it was evidently drifting along shore to the
southward.  I judged that I was not more than three or four hundred
fathoms from the breakers.  I discovered that by climbing a little
further on the mast, I could stand upright without its turning over with
me.  Finding this, I untied a silk handkerchief I had about my neck, and
waved it around my head.  I continued waving, hoping that some one would
see my signal.  I waited anxiously, looking along the shore.  At so
early an hour few people were out.  At last the head of a man appeared
above a sand-hill.  I waved more vehemently, and shouted, forgetting
that my voice could not be heard above the roar of the breakers.  Soon I
saw him standing on the top of the hill, and looking through a spy-glass
at me, and then he waved his hand in return, and, pointing to the
southward, ran on.  Directly afterwards I saw two or three other people
running in the same direction, carrying oars over their shoulders, and a
boat-hook.  I guessed that they were making for some little harbour or
sandy cove, where their boats were drawn up.  I prayed that they might
come to my aid quickly, for every instant the wreck of the mast drove
nearer and nearer to the rocks.  Still I cannot say that I felt much
doubt about being saved after having already been so mercifully
preserved during the night from dangers so terrific.  Yet it appeared an
age before I saw a boat darting out from an opening in the rocks.
Putting her head to the seas, she dashed up towards me.  She had not
come a minute too soon.

"Stand by, mon! stand by to leap aboard!"  I heard a voice sing out, as
the bow of the boat came up close to where I was hanging on.

I did not require a second order; at the same time, my limbs were so
stiff and benumbed that I could scarcely have obeyed, had not two of the
men in the bow of the boat caught me by the collar, and hauled me on
board.

"Noo, round wi' her, laddies! round wi' her! we'll hear a' aboot it by
and by," cried the man at the helm.

The boat was at the time scarcely half-a-dozen fathoms from the surf,
and any sea rolling in, and breaking sooner than usual, might have
rolled her over and over and drowned all hands.  With hearty tugs the
men who had so bravely rescued me pulled the boat round and out to sea,
while the mast was directly afterwards carried among the surf, and
hurled round and round, till it was cast in fragments on the rocks.  I
shuddered when I saw what my fate might have been.  There was little
time to exchange many words with the fishermen before the boat was
pulled into a little sandy cove, and they all, springing out, ran her up
high and dry on the beach.

"You maun be weet, laddie," said the old master of the boat, helping me
out of her with the aid of two of the other men.  "Come up to my hoose,
and we'll put dry duds on ye, and then you'll tell us how ye came to be
floating on that bit of wreck there.  She maun hae been a large ship ye
belonged to, I'm thinking, and ye were the only one saved? it's sad to
think of it."

Under some circumstances I should have been amused by the eagerness of
the old man to hear the account I had to give, at the same time that his
kind heart prompted him not to fatigue me by asking questions.  I was
still more anxious to know if he could give me any account of the smack.
As we were going up to the cottage I described her exactly, but he
shook his head.

"We were up late last night, looking along the shore on account of the
gale, and we were not out so early this morning as usual," was the
reply.

Having satisfied the curiosity of my host with an account of my own
adventure, I entreated that, as soon as my clothes were dried, I might
be allowed to proceed to the southward along the coast, to try and gain
tidings of the smack.  My hopes revived within me when the fisherman
told me that we were not far from the mouth of the Firth of Tay, and
that perhaps the smack might have been driven in there.

"Still ye should know that there is a danger there which has proved
fatal to many a tall ship," said the old man.  "It is called the
Inchcape Rock.  There's a bell made fast to it, which, whenever a gale
is blowing, tolls by the tossing of the seas as they drive against it.
You've heard tell, maybe, of the pirate, who, in the wantonness of his
wickedness, carried the bell away, and who, although another was placed
in its stead, was lost, with all his companions, on that very rock.
Heaven finds out sinners of high and low degree, at some time or other,
however they may endeavour to escape its vengeance."

I thought to myself, "True, indeed, is that.  How often have I been
found out and punished for my one great sin!"

Ill and weak as I was, I insisted, as I had had some food on starting,
to proceed along the coast to try and obtain tidings of the smack.  If
she had not foundered, she must have been cast on shore or taken shelter
in some harbour at the mouth of the Tay.

"No, no," said the old man; "young blood fancies that it can do
anything, but I tell ye that ye have no strength to go on now without
rest.  I'll send my laddies along the coast, both north and south, and
they will make inquiries and bring back any tidings they can obtain; you
will have news of the vessel more speedily in that way than any other."

Still I insisted on putting on my own clothes and setting off; but when
I attempted to get up, I found that I could scarcely walk across the
room, much less could I hope to trudge over the links, and rough rocks
and sand which lined the shore along which I wished to proceed.  I was
obliged, therefore, to consent to go to bed, and to try and sleep.  At
first I thought that would be impossible, but my old sailor habits
triumphed over the anxiety I felt, and the rest I so much needed came to
me.

In less than four hours I awoke.  I found myself alone; so I sprang up
and put on my clothes, resolved that nothing should stop me from
proceeding on my journey.  I felt far stronger than I could have
expected.

"Stay till my laddies come in, and hear what account they have to give
ye," said the kind-hearted old fisherman, making me sit down once more
in the porch in front of his cottage.

The roof was the bow of a small boat, which made a good shelter from the
sun, and the supporting-posts the jawbones of a whale which had been
stranded on the shore.

That I might have something to distract my mind he gave me a stick that
I might fashion it to support my steps as I walked along.  When I had
cut it to the required length I sprang up, saying I would go on some
little way, at all events, begging his son to follow me; when we saw the
young man approaching the cottage from the north, I ran forward to meet
him.

"Have you heard anything of the smack?"  I inquired, in breathless
haste.

"No; not a sign of her.  There was a big ship lost with all hands--not a
soul escaped--in the early part of the night; but often when the big
ship goes down the small one swims; ye ken that, mon," was the answer.

Although he had been out for some hours, he insisted on accompanying me
when he found that I had resolved on proceeding, till we should fall in
with his brothers.  The old man gave me his blessing, and the old wife
and the rest of the family parted most kindly with me--they were all so
much interested in the account I had given them of myself.  As to
receiving any remuneration, they would not hear of it.

We toiled on over the links; sometimes I thought that my knees would
have given way under me.  At last the old weather-beaten tower of
Broughty Castle appeared in sight, the ancient guardian to the entrance
of the Tay.  "We'll just sit down here till the ferry-boat is ready to
cross," said my companion, throwing himself on the grass bank under the
crumbling walls.  "Maybe my brother will be coming over just now, and he
will tell us what he has learned."

I suggested that the smack might have run up to Dundee, but he said that
was not in the least likely.  If she had come in there she would have
brought up off Broughty itself.  We made inquiries, before sitting down,
of some fishermen who had been on the shore all the morning, and
certainly no vessel, they said, answering the description of the smack
had come in.  At any other time my eye would have dwelt with pleasure on
the scenery which is presented by the beautiful estuary of the Tay, but
now I could only think of the object of my search.  I was leaning back
on the grass, hoping to recover strength to proceed, when my companion
jumped up and ran down toward the water's edge.

"What news, Sandy! what news do ye bring?"

"The vessel is safe," was the answer.  "Thank Heaven for its mercy!"  I
ejaculated; and springing up and running towards the young fisherman,
"Tell me, lad, tell me, how is my wife!"

"The puir young leddy was taken very bad--very bad indeed, when she
found that you had gone overboard, and all on board thought that she
could not live.  No one could give her any comfort, for no one thought
you could have escaped.  The rest on board, indeed, had soon to think of
themselves.  The vessel drove past the Inchcape Rock, and all heard the
tolling of the bell, and believed that they were going to strike on it.

"While others were bemoaning their fate, and crying out for mercy, and
expecting to be drowned, she sat up and seemed to have forgotten the
cause of her own grief.

"`Ah,' she said with a smile, `what makes you miserable, gives me joy.
You fear death.  I look forward to it as a happiness, because I shall
soon be joined to him who has been torn from me.'

"Ay, sir, the bell tolled louder and louder, and each toll that it gave
made her heart beat quicker with joy, while it drove the life-blood away
from the hearts of those who feared death as the greatest of evils.  On
drifted the vessel--darkness was around them--still that solemn bell
kept tolling and tolling, but yet the expected shock was not felt.  The
bell tolled on, but the sounds grew fainter and fainter, and the master
told them that they had no longer cause to fear, and might thank Heaven
for their preservation, for that he knew where they were, and could take
them into a port in safety.  Well, but of your wife, I know that you
will want to hear."

"Yes! yes!"  I exclaimed, "tell me how is she--where is she!"  We wore
all the time the young fisherman was speaking hurrying down towards the
ferry-boat.

"That is just what I was about to tell ye," he answered, with the
deliberate way in which the inhabitants of that part of Scotland of his
rank generally speak.  "The young leddy, they told me, no sooner heard
that the vessel was in safety, than she gave way to a sorrow which it
was pitiful to witness.  They tried to comfort her, but she was not to
be comforted.  She had gone off into a sort of trance when the vessel
brought up this morning under Saint Ann's Head.

"The master was thinking about putting to sea when I got on board.  He
and all the people were very much surprised to hear that you had
escaped; but the difficulty seemed to be to break the news to your wife.
The master promised not to sail till you appeared, and I promised to
come and hurry you on."

"Thank ye, thank ye, my kind friend!"  I exclaimed, shaking him by the
hand.  "But my wife--tell me about my wife.  How did she bear the sudden
reaction?"

"It did her all the good in the world," he answered cheerfully.  "The
old master, who is a canny man, went down into the cabin and began to
talk of the wonderful things which had occurred to his knowledge at
sea--how people had been kept alive floating on a spar for a couple of
days, and how others had swam a dozen miles or more, or been washed from
the deck of one vessel right aboard another, and fallen overboard, and
been picked up floating on a grating, or an oar, by a vessel coming up
astern hours afterwards.

"Suddenly the young lady lifted herself up, showing, that though she had
appeared to be asleep, she had been listening to every word that had
been said.

"`Captain,' said she, `in mercy tell me whether you believe that my
husband's life has been preserved by any of the means you speak of.  Do
not deceive me.  Do not keep me in doubt.'

"`Not for all the world would I deceive you, young leddy,' said the
master; `I will tell you what I believe to be the truth, that your
husband got floated on shore last night, and that he is not a great way
off, to prove to you that what I say is true.'

"Oh, did not she cry out with joy and thankfulness, and then the old
master told me what he had said, and charged me to come on here as fast
as I could to bring you on board."

My two young friends insisted on accompanying me all the way back to the
vessel, about three miles along the southern shores of the Firth, and
thankful indeed was I for their support.  It showed me how an old man
must feel when his strength is failing him, and he has a long journey to
perform.  It taught me always to have more compassion for advancing age
than I had before been inclined to feel.

I cannot describe the unspeakable joy it was to my wife and me to meet
each other again, after the dreadful anxiety we had both of us
experienced, and the dangers we had gone through.  I was unwilling to
trust her again on the treacherous ocean, even for the short passage
round to Leith; but she entreated me not to be so mistrustful of
Providence, who had been so merciful to us, and urged me to continue the
voyage.  I felt at the time that she was right, and that, instead of
considering myself as under a curse, I ought to acknowledge that each
time I had been shipwrecked, I had received a special mark of God's
favour, for my life had been preserved, while so many others of my
fellow-creatures had lost theirs.  Instead, therefore, of taking her on
shore, and going on to Saint Andrews, as I had at first proposed doing,
I agreed to remain on board the smack.  I could not sufficiently thank
the two young fishermen for the labour and trouble they had taken for my
sake.  They laughed when I talked about it.

"Hoot! it's just nothing.  We ken by your looks that you would do the
same for us, so say no more about it, mon," was the answer they both
gave.  I hope they were right in the favourable opinion they had formed
of me.

In the afternoon, the weather having completely moderated, we sailed.
What a contrast did the next night afford to the previous one!  The
stars came out, and the moon shone forth, playing brightly on the
tranquil waters, just rippled over with a light breeze, which sent us
along smoothly on our course.  Margaret sat on the deck with me,
watching the scene with a delighted eye and thankful heart.  Our
conversation was far too solemn for repetition.

"Oh, Willand, never let us again doubt God's mercy and kindness towards
us.  At this hour last night how stormy and dark was the ocean; how full
of anguish and misery were our hearts; how utterly hopeless did
everything appear; not a gleam burst forth to give us consolation!  We
were violently torn from each other, it seemed, never to be united again
on earth, neither of us knowing what had become of the other; and now
see how the face of nature smiles!  Once more we are united, and all our
prospects appear bright and happy."

Thus we talked on, and, thankful for the present, did not dream that
storms of adversity might yet be in store for us, yet not sent without a
gracious and merciful object to try and improve our hearts.

We reached Leith in safety, and as neither of us had before been in
Edinburgh, we spent some days there to view that beautiful and
interesting city.  Such it was even in those days; but though it has
lost somewhat in picturesque effect, it has since then been greatly
improved.

It may seem strange that a sailor should be afraid of trusting himself
at sea; but reason as I might, I could not bring myself to take my wife
to the south by water.  I therefore prepared to convey her to London by
coach, and from thence to Portsmouth.  The expense was very great; but I
promised her that I would toil hard in whatever occupation I undertook
to make it up, and at last she acceded to my wishes.  We calculated that
we should be about a week or ten days getting to London, for those were
times when even the coaches on the great northern road went very
leisurely along, and it was not for some time after that they were
superseded by the fast London and Edinburgh mail.  Times have indeed
changed with all of us.

We left Edinburgh one morning at daybreak, and proceeded south to
Berwick, where we stopped.  Our next stage was York.  There we rested
the greater part of the day, for my wife seemed very much fatigued, and
when I saw how fine the weather continued, I began to repent that I had
not gone, as she wished, by sea.  I had placed her inside, while I went
on the top of the coach.  I observed that our fat old coachman, who,
although it was summer weather, was muffled up in a greatcoat, with a
red comforter up to his eyes, whenever we stopped to change horses went
into the bar of the roadside inn and took a pretty stiff glass of brandy
and water to keep out the damp, as he told his passengers.  At last four
rather frisky horses were brought out and harnessed to the coach.

"Steady now, Mr Currycomb; we have some ugly hills to go up and down,"
remarked one of the passengers who had watched his drinking proceedings
with some little anxiety.

"Oh, never fear me, sir," answered the old man, in a thick, husky voice.
"I've driven this road, man and boy, for the last fifty years, and I
should think I know how to take a coach along it without anybody telling
me how to do it, do you see.  If I thinks it's best to trot down a hill,
why I'll do it, and no one shall tell me not.  That's what I've got to
say."

I have frequently met the same sort of obstinate characters among
seamen, the very men who manage to get their ships cast away; but I
fancied that they were not to be found among those who live among the
civilising influences of the shore.

For some time we went on pretty well, though now and then the overloaded
coach going down a hill rocked to and fro pretty violently.  When we
stopped the next time, a gentleman who had gone in the inside, because
there was no place on the outside, said that he had never been
accustomed to travel inside, and that it made him very ill, and asked if
any gentleman would be willing to change places with him, and that, as
he had already paid his fare, it would not put anybody who would so
oblige him to further cost.

I at once said, that as my wife was inside, I should be very happy to be
the means of accommodating him, so he mounted on the top of the coach,
and I joined Margaret inside.  Away we went once more rattling along
over the road.  The gentleman, I found, whose seat I had got had no idea
that the coachman was the worse for liquor, but fancied that the rocking
of the coach, which I had observed so palpably from the outside, was
only the usual motion, and that he would be free from it outside.
Suddenly I felt that we were going on much faster than usual.

"What is the matter?" exclaimed Margaret, as clouds of dust arose on
each hand, and we saw people starting aside and looking anxiously after
us as we were whirled along.  "Oh, the horses have run away!"

We heard the passengers hallooing and shouting to the coachman to stop
his horses, to pull up; but he either did not heed them or could not
obey them.  On we dashed at a furious rate.  We saw by the appearance of
some small, red-brick houses, scattered here and there, that we were
approaching a town.  I placed myself by Margaret's side, and held her
tightly down.

On we whirled.  Round went the huge vehicle with a swing.  There was a
terrific crash.  We felt the coach dragged some little way; groans and
shrieks and cries arose around us.  The coach stopped.  The traces had
been cut, and the horses galloped off.  I looked with intense anxiety at
my wife's countenance.  She was pale, but she assured me that she was
unhurt.  I had held her firmly, so as to break the shock when the coach
went over.

People came to help us out, and my wife was conducted into a house close
at hand, to which the owner invited us.  But dreadful indeed was the
scene which met my eyes as I glanced round over the wreck of the coach.
The gentleman who had just changed places with me was lying dead on the
pavement, with three or four other passengers; the old coachman lay a
corpse, mangled horribly by the heels of the horses, over which he had
been thrown, and not one of the passengers had escaped some severe
injury; while the poor guard had his arm broken, and his horn doubled up
under him.

I went into the house, and sat down.  "Wife," said I, "you are right;
God watches over us at sea as well as on land, and accidents may occur
on shore as well as on the ocean.  Why He has thought fit to preserve
us, while others have been allowed to perish, I know not; I can only
take the cup of blessing and be thankful.  I will never again attempt to
escape out of His hand by endeavouring to avoid a possible danger."

The gentleman and his wife were very much interested in the account
Margaret and I gave of ourselves, and invited us to remain a whole day
with them, that she might recover from her fatigue.  It is one of the
pleasantest things in life to thus receive unexpected kindness from
strangers, who can have no thought or hope of recompense.  It is
satisfactory at the time, and makes one think better of the common human
nature which unites us to our fellow-beings.  I told our new friend of
all the shipwrecks I had suffered.

"Ah! there are as many on shore, depend upon it, as on the ocean," he
answered.  "On shore they are the worst, because they occur generally
through our own folly and ignorance and vice.  How many a young man has
started fairly in life, and yet before many years have passed he has
made a complete shipwreck of all the bright promises on which his
friends trusted, with himself alone to blame, because he refused to
consult or to be guided by the only sure chart and compass which could
guide him aright!  For what purpose did the wise King of Israel--the
wisest of the kings of the earth--write his proverbs, do you think?  Not
for his own satisfaction or amusement, but because he felt it a sacred
duty he owed to posterity to give the result of his own meditations, of
his observations, and of his own bitter experience.  Yet how few men,
comparatively, go to that book of books for counsel, for guidance, and
direction?  Where can be found more ample directions for getting on in
life, as the phrase is, for making money, for becoming great in this
world even, than the Book of Solomon affords?"

I agreed with my kind and thoughtful host, and promised to study that
work more than I had ever before done.  I ought to have said that I
would begin and study it--for, alas! how completely had I before
neglected it.

After this extraordinary incident, I believe that had I been near a
port, I should have again embarked for London; but as it was, we agreed
to continue our journey by land.  We reached London in safety.

We did not stay there long.  The bustle and noise, and seeming
confusion, after the complete quiet of our Shetland life, was so
wearying, that, having seen some of the chief lions of that great city,
we were glad to set off by the coach for Portsmouth.

Aunt Bretta was delighted to receive us, and my jovial, kind-hearted
uncle welcomed us most cordially.  I thought Aunt Bretta would never
have ceased asking questions about dear old Shetland.  A stranger would
have supposed from her expressions about it, that there did not exist a
more delightful spot on earth.

Margaret, however, was never weary of replying to all the inquiries
made.  I never saw two people suit each other so well as my aunt and
wife,--the one so hearty, full of life and spirits, and brimming over
with the milk of human kindness,--the other so tranquil, so sensible,
and sweet-tempered.

My uncle and I also got on capitally together.  I admired his jovial,
frank, hearty, and kind disposition, his thorough uprightness and hatred
of deceit, while he found in me enough good qualities to like, and was
pleased because I admired him and was able to talk with him frankly and
openly on all subjects.  That is, I believe, the great secret of
friendship.  Mutual esteem and perfect confidence is the only foundation
on which it can be built up and made perfect.  Both parties to the bond
must feel that they appreciate each other's motives and objects, and
that every allowance will be made for what they say, and the best
possible construction put on their words.  When two people meet between
whom such qualifications exist, their friendship is lasting.

My uncle told me, that as he knew I should not wish to be idle, he had
obtained a situation for me, which he thought I should like, as suitable
to my former habits.

"It is in a private dockyard, where, if you are steady and attentive you
will, I am certain, obtain a still more lucrative employment," he
remarked; "had it been war time I should have tried to obtain an
appointment in the Royal Dockyard, because you would then have had
protection from the pressgang; but now you need have no fear of that."

Two days after that, war again broke out with France!  It was arranged
to our mutual satisfaction that Margaret and I should permanently take
up our abode with our relatives.  They had a couple of spare rooms,
which they had at times let to lodgers, so that we in no way incommoded
them.

Never was there a more happy family party.  We were not over-refined; we
did not set up for people of that sort, it must be remembered, or call
ourselves gentlemen and ladies.  Nor did our guests.  They were,
however, always well-behaved, civil people, who would on no account have
committed any real solecism in good manners.

Old Jerry Vincent used to look in, as before, very frequently, with a
budget of his funny stories, to which other neighbours gladly came to
listen.  There was invariably much laughter, and no small amount of tea
and tobacco consumed, not to speak occasionally of some more potent
compound; but my uncle took good care that none of his guests should
pass the limits of sobriety, though he had at times some little
difficulty in keeping old Jerry in order.  I should remark that old
Jerry was an exception to the general character of our guests, who were
as a rule of a much higher rank in the social scale.  I remember
especially one of the old man's stories which is worth recording.

"You must know, mates," said he, "once upon a time I belonged to a brig
of war on the Newfoundland station.  It isn't just the place, in my
opinion, that a man would wish to spend his life in.  Too much frost and
fog, and wind and rain, to be pleasant.  But bad as it was, I thought
there was a worse place to be in, and that was aboard my own ship.  We
never know when we are well off.  I don't think I was right, do ye see;
but rather, I am very well convinced, that I was a fool.  Young men
sometimes don't find that out till it's too late.  Howsomedever, I found
another fool as big as myself, which is never very difficult when you
look for him, and he and I agreed to run from the ship.  Now, before I
go on with my story, I'll just ask one or two of you young men, have any
of you ever seen the biggest fool in the world?  Well, I thought not;
you can't say that you have, and, what's more, you never will.  If you
think that you have got hold of him, you may be sure that you'll fall in
with a bigger before long somewhere else.  That is my philosophy, and I
am not far wrong, depend on it.

"Well, where was I?  Oh, I know.  My mate's name--t'other fool, I mean--
was Abraham Coxe.  The ship had put into Saint John's, Newfoundland.  He
and I belonged to the same boat's crew.  Soon after we got there we were
sent on shore to water.  After some time, as the rest of our party were
rolling the casks down to the beach, we managed to slip away, and made a
run of it for a mile or more, till we could stow ourselves snug inside
the walls of an old cottage.  As soon as it was dark we came out, and
set off as hard as we could go right into the country.  We thought some
one was following us, but we were wrong.  The officers knew better than
we did what sort of a place we had got into, and calculated that we
shouldn't be long before wishing ourselves back again.

"At night we reached a cottage, where the good people treated us kindly,
for, do ye see, we spun them a long yarn, which hadn't a word of truth
in it, about our being sent away up there to look after a shipmate who
had lost his senses.  So, after we had eaten and drunken and taken a
good snooze, we set off again towards the mountains, for we had a notion
that we should find our way somehow or other into America.  We expected
to fall in with another village, but we were mistaken, and by
dinner-time we began to feel very peckish.  There was no use standing
still, so we walked on and on till we got further up among the
mountains, and as the sun was hid by clouds, and there was no wind, we
very soon lost our way.

"Now, do ye see, to lose your way with a full stomach is not altogether
pleasant, but to lose it on an empty one, and not to know where a dinner
is to be found, is worse any day than to get three dozen.  That's got
quickly over, and you know the worst.  We had no baccy neither, and the
air up there sharpened our teeth till we were ready to bite our tongues
out.

"`Well, mate,' says I to Abraham Coxe, `I wish that I were safe aboard
again.  I don't by no manner of means like these short commons.'

"`Wait a bit till we have been knocking about for two or three days
more, and then cry out, my bo',' says he, for he was a regular Job's
comforter, that he was.

"Well, evening was coming on, and as we couldn't find our way out of the
mountains, nor get any food either, we thought that we might as well
look out for a warm berth to sleep in at night.  At last we saw a small
hole in a rock, which looked like the mouth of a cave.

"`There will be a comfortable bed-place inside that place, mate,' says
I, as I poked my head into the hole, while Abraham stood outside.  It
was almost dark inside, but still there was light enough to make out
that, there was a good big place further in.  I was going along on my
hands and knees, when what should I see but several animals like biggish
pigs crawling about.  I was wondering what they were, when I heard
Abraham Coxe sing out.

"`Quick, Jerry, quick, get out of the cave, for there is a great big
bear coming along the valley, and she's close aboard of us!'

"It was all very well for Coxe to say, get out of the cave; but that was
more than I could do in a hurry without turning round, when I might have
had all the young bears attacking my rump, saving your presence, ladies.
Coxe also didn't stop to help me, but scampered off as hard as his legs
could carry him.  I was going to make the best of my way after him, when
I saw a big white bear not three fathoms off, evidently steering for the
very place itself.

"There was no use trying to get out, for to a certainty the brute would
have grappled me in a moment; so I drew back, thinking to remain
concealed.  Just then I remembered the beasts I had seen inside, and I
guessed that they were the bear's cubs, and that I had taken possession
of her abode.  It was not a pleasant idea, certainly, but there was no
help for it.  In another minute the great big she-bear came snuffing up
to the hole where I lay.  I thought that it was all up with me, and
expected every moment to be made into a supper for the bear and her
cubs.  The little beasts were all the time licking my heels just to have
a taste, I thought, of what was to come.  The bear began to growl, I
fancied because she found me inside; but I believe it was just her way
of talking to her cubs.  Thinks I to myself, I'll have a fight for it;
so I doubled my fists, intending to give her a good lick on the eye
before she ate me, when, just as I thought that she was going to make a
grab at me, she slewed round and began to back into the cave stern
foremost.

"`Ho! ho!' says I to myself, `if you goes to make a stern-board, old
gal, I'll rake you before you shows your broadside to me again;' so on
that I whips out my long knife, which I had tucked away in my belt, with
a lanyard round my neck, and drove it with all my force right into her.
The more she backed, and the louder she growled, the harder and faster I
drove in the knife.  Still she came backing and backing, and I didn't
like the prospect at all.  I thought to myself, `If she drives me up
against the end of the cave, she'll squeeze all the breath out of my
body, to a certainty.'

"At last, however, when she got to the narrowest part of the hole, she
sank down from loss of blood.  I thought she would perhaps begin to move
on again, but she didn't.  After she had given a few growls, which grew
fainter and fainter, I made sure she was dead.

"As I was pretty nigh famished, thinks I to myself, `I'll have some
steaks out of you, old gal, at all events;' so I cut three or four fine
steaks out of her rump (saving your pardon, Mrs Kelson, and ladies
all), and precious juicy and nice to look at they were; but how to dress
them was the job.  At first I thought that I should have to eat them
raw, as I had often done salt beef; but on hunting about on a higher
part of the cave, I found a quantity of dry sticks and leaves which had
served the bears for a bed, I suppose.  Piling up some of them, I struck
a light, and made a fire to dress the steaks, while the young cubs kept
rubbing against me, and couldn't make out whether I was their mother or
their daddy I believe.  I gave them each a bit of steak, which they
seemed to think not bad sucking.

"You see I was inside the cave, though there was just room to look out
over the body of the dead bear, but scarcely space enough for me to have
squeezed myself out if I had wished it.  I didn't just then wish to go
out, for I was very comfortable; I had a dry roof over my head, and
company too, and plenty to eat; only I should have liked a glass of grog
to wash down the food.

"Well, as I was eating the bear's steak, I thought to myself, `It would
have been better for Abraham Coxe if he had stuck to his old shipmate
instead of running away at sight of danger.'

"I had just finished supper, and was thinking of turning in for the
night, when I heard a loud growl at the mouth of the cave.  I made sure
that it was the she-bear come to life again, for I was getting drowsy,
and I began to think what she would say to me for having stolen her
steaks.  However, at last I got up and looked out, and there I saw a
great big he-bear walking about in front of the cave, and I have no
doubt scolding his wife for not getting out of his way to let him in.
At last he began to back astern, but he couldn't make her move.

"`Growl away, my bo',' says I.  `If you keep on at that game, I'll make
steaks of you before long.'

"I sat as quiet as possible, picking my teeth with the point of my
knife, for the steaks were rather tough, you may guess.  The little
bears, playful like, were running about round me, while the old bear was
grumbling away outside, thinking maybe that his wife had taken a drop
too much, and couldn't get up.  All of a sudden I heard a great
hullabaloo, and several shots were fired, and down came the old bear as
dead as a door nail in front of the cave.

"Among other voices, I recognised that of Abraham Coxe.  `My poor mate
is killed, and eaten by the bears,' says he; `but I may as well have his
knife, and his baccy-box and buttons, if they ain't eaten too.'

"`No, I ain't eaten nor dead either, you cowardly rascal, and I hope a
better man nor you may have my traps when I do go,' I sings out, for I
was in a towering rage at being deserted.

"At first the people were going to run away, thinking it was my ghost
that was speaking; but when I sang out again, and told them that I was a
living man, some of them took courage, and came and dragged the two old
bears out of the way.  At last I crawled out, followed by the young
cubs, to the great astonishment of all who saw us.  To make a long story
short, this was the way how the people had come to my rescue.  When Coxe
ran away, not knowing where he went, he ran right into the village,
which was all the time close to us.  When the villagers heard what had
happened, they all came out to have a shot at the bears, not expecting
to find me alive.  They seemed very glad I had escaped, and carried me
back in triumph to the village.  As it was through our means they got
two bears and a number of cubs, they treated us very kindly, and pressed
us to stay with them.  When, however, we found that we should never
reach America by going over the mountains, and as we had no fancy to
spend a winter in this outlandish sort of a place, seeing that the
summer wasn't very pleasant, we judged it best to go back to our ship
and give ourselves up.  We got three dozen a-piece, which I can only say
we richly deserved, and neither of us ever attempted to desert again.
`Let well alone,' I used to say.  `If I do get away, I shall only find
myself before long on board another ship, and worse off than before,
probably.'"

Jerry's advice was very sound.  Many a man deserts to obtain an
uncertain good, and finds, when too late, that he has secured a certain
ill.

Those truly were pleasant evenings at our quiet little house.  I wish
that I could recollect all old Jerry's stories I may perhaps call to
mind a few more another day, for I think that they are well worthy of
repetition.



CHAPTER TEN.

HAPPINESS AT HOME--WAR BREAKS OUT AGAIN--PRESSGANGS ABROAD--MYSTERIOUS
APPEARANCE OF CHARLEY IFFLEY--HIS UNACCOUNTABLE CONDUCT--ANECDOTES ABOUT
SMUGGLERS--THE OLD COUPLE AND THEIR LOST SON--SEA-YARNS.

No happiness could be more complete than ours, and I saw no reason why
it should not be permanent.  Happy it undoubtedly is that we do not see
the dark clouds of adversity gathering in the horizon, yet it would be
wiser in men if they would still recollect that, however bright the sky
and fine the weather, storms may arise, and thick mists may overshadow
them--perhaps sent as punishments, perhaps in mercy to try and purify
them.  I was actively engaged all day in the duties of my office, and in
the evening, when I returned home, I was welcomed by the smiles of my
wife, and the cordial kindness of Aunt Bretta.  I desired no change--I
should have been content to live the same sort of life to the end of my
days.  I had a few little rubs and annoyances to contend with in my
employment, but I did not allow them to vex me, and went on steadily
doing my duty, neither turning to the right hand nor to the left.

War with France had again broken out, and England was making every
effort to renew the struggle with the numerous foes which her prosperity
and greatness had won for her.  A difficulty existed then, as now, in
manning the navy, and the pressgangs were always hard at work
endeavouring to secure by force or stratagem the necessary crew for the
ships.

I knew that I was not exempt from the risk of being taken, but as I
dressed in shore-going clothes, and as I was not likely to meet any of
my old shipmates or other people who knew me to have been a seaman, I
had little fear on the subject.  Had I been single and without the ties
of home, I would gladly have once more gone afloat to serve my country;
but how could I be expected to tear myself from all I loved on earth to
do duty before the mast among rough and uneducated men, subject to all
the rigours of the naval discipline of those days?  I talked the subject
over with my uncle.

"If the time comes when every man who can handle a rope is wanted, I
shall be the first to say `Go,'" said he.  "Till then, my boy, stay at
home, do your duty, and look after your wife."

I was too glad to follow his advice.  There was no grass growing in the
streets of Portsmouth in those days.  The place swarmed with seamen and
officers; troops were marching in and out; carriages-and-four were
dashing down from London; bands were playing; the hotels swarmed with
visitors come to see their friends off; ships were being commissioned
and fitted out with unwonted rapidity; and all was life, activity, and
energy.  I now and then, on my way home, took a walk up High Street, for
the amusement of observing the bustling, laughing, talking, busy throng.

One evening, as I turned to go back, my eye fell on the countenance of a
man whose features I felt sure I knew.  In an instant I recollected that
they were those of Charles Iffley.  Forgetting all I had heard to his
disparagement, I was going to follow him, when he turned into a cross
street among a crowd who were looking on at some itinerant tumblers, and
I lost sight of him.  I felt very sorry, for I should have been glad to
have shaken him again by the hand and invited him to our house.  My wife
and aunt used constantly to walk out a little way on the common to meet
me.

Two days after that, when they met me, they told me that, in the
morning, as they were returning home, they had suddenly encountered
Charles Iffley.  He knew them at once, but did not speak.  He stopped
for an instant, stared hard at them, and then moved on.  When, however,
they reached our house door, they observed that he had followed them at
a distance and remarked where they had gone in.  Just as they had
finished their account, the very person we were speaking of appeared at
the further end of the road coming towards us.  Directly, however, he
saw us, he stopped short and looked at me with an astonished and
inquiring gaze.  He remained long enough, apparently, to ascertain
positively who it was.  At first he evidently was in doubt.  He had
heard of my death, and believed that I was dead, I concluded, and that
when he saw me alive, and, as he might have suspected, married to the
very woman who had refused to become his wife, he at first could not
trust his senses.

My impulse was immediately to run forward to meet him, but my wife
pressed my arm so tightly that I could not leave her.

"No, no, do not go," she whispered.  "I do not like his look.  He means
us mischief."  She must have felt very strongly, I knew, before she
could have given way to such an expression.  Of course, I yielded to her
wish, though it went much against my feelings to turn away from my old
associate, ill as I had too much reason to think of him.  I could not
help agreeing with my wife, as I watched him, that I did not like his
look.  There was something very evil in his expression as he watched us
proceeding towards our home, and I could no longer have any doubt that
he recognised me.  I never before had seen his countenance wear so
malignant an expression, and I feared, not without reason, that even at
that moment he was plotting to do us some mischief.  A picture I had
once seen was forcibly recalled to my memory.  It represented Satan
watching our first parents in Paradise, and when he is envying them the
happiness he can never enjoy, he is considering how he may the most
effectually destroy it.

When we got home, we talked the matter over.  I did not express my own
suspicions to my wife, as they could not fail to agitate her, but I
endeavoured rather to make light of it, and to appear as if I hoped,
should Charles Iffley feel any desire of revenge, that he would be
unable to effect it.  I felt regret, also, that I had not hurried after
Iffley.  Whatever were his feelings, I thought that I might perhaps have
turned his heart to better thoughts by talking of bygone days and of our
early friendship.  "Well, it may not yet be too late," I thought to
myself; "I will seek him out and try to persuade him to discard those
feelings of jealousy and envy which are now influencing him."  When,
however, I mentioned my intentions to Uncle Kelson, he rather laughed at
my notion.

"An idle, conceited young puppy.  What business has he to interfere with
you or yours?" he exclaimed.  "Because a girl, of whom he is utterly
unworthy, does not choose to have anything to say to him, is he to set
himself up and to look daggers at any man she may happen to marry?  Let
him alone.  Let him go his own gait, as your Aunt Bretta would say.
He'll find a rope long enough to hang himself, depend on it."

My uncle thought he was giving good advice, but even at the time I felt
that better is given elsewhere.  "Therefore, if thine enemy hunger, feed
him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals
of fire on his head.  Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with
good."  I felt that if I could have met with Iffley, I might have heaped
coals of fire on his head.  I might have softened his heart, just as the
contents of a pot are melted by piling up coals, not only around it, but
on the very head or top of it.  I did not do what I felt and knew was
right, and the result of my neglect will be seen.

Aunt Bretta was more indignant than any of us with Iffley.  "If he does
come to the door, in my opinion, he ought to be turned away!" she
exclaimed.  "The idea of a person whom I knew as a little boy, glad to
receive a slice of gingerbread, giving himself such airs!  I have no
notion of it."  This was very severe for Aunt Bretta, whose heart was
kindness itself.

On making inquiries of the servant, she discovered that a man exactly
answering his description had, while they were out, knocked at the door
and asked all sorts of questions.

"She could not mind what exactly," she said.  "They were about Mr
Wetherholm.  Where he had come from!  When he had got married?  What he
was doing?  And all sorts of such like things."  After I had heard this
account of the servant girl, I could not help feeling somewhat
suspicious of Iffley's object.  The mere asking them was very natural,
and had he come frankly forward to meet us, I should not have
entertained any ill thoughts of him; but now, in spite of all my
resolution, I could not help dreading that he contemplated doing me some
mischief or other.  Still I did my best to get rid of such thoughts of
an old friend, for they were not pleasant.

When the evening came, I forgot all about the matter.  Old Jerry Vincent
looked in, and several other friends, among them two former shipmates of
Uncle Kelson's, and anecdotes and stories innumerable were told.  We got
on the subject of smuggling.  In those days it was certainly not looked
on in its proper light, and a smuggler, if he was bold and daring, was
considered a very fine fellow.  Most of our guests were Hampshire or
Isle of Wight men, and had been personally acquainted with many of the
smugglers in their day, and might, perhaps, not have refused to purchase
any of the goods they had to offer.

"Some of you may have known Jim Dore?" began Jerry.

One or two nodded.

"I thought so," said Jerry.  "Well, then, when he began the work he was
very young, and there wasn't a bolder or more daring hand in the trade.
We were boys together, and a braver fellow or better seaman never
stepped.  He was a Yarmouth man, born and bred, just inside the Needles
there.  There was a large family of them.  He wasn't always as prudent
as he might be, and one day he and the cutter he was in was taken with
three hundred tubs on board.  Of course he was sent to serve his
Majesty.  When he found that there was no help for it, he vowed that he
would do his duty like a man, and he kept his word.

"He was sent aboard a brig of war employed in looking after smugglers,
and though before she had never taken one, now scarcely a month passed
that through his means she did not make a prize.

"Once upon a time the brig attacked a large armed smuggler, the crew of
which had vowed that they never would be taken alive.  There was a
desperate fight for more than three hours, and in the end the smugglers
kept their word, for they went down with colours flying, under the guns
of the brig which was just about to board them.  On this occasion, as on
every other, Dore behaved so bravely that the captain put him on the
quarter-deck, and if he had chosen to follow it, there was the road open
to him to become an admiral.  But you know there are people who cannot
give up habits, so to speak, born and bred with them, as one may say.

"Well, Dore's time of servitude was up for the smuggling affair, and
soon after that the brig put into Portsmouth harbour.  The next day Dore
got leave to go and see his friends, so he hired a wherry, and got ready
for a start for Yarmouth.  Just as he was shoving off, I saw him and
asked him for a cast down there, as I had some friends in those days in
the same place.  Now, though he was an officer with a cocked hat on his
head, and a sword by his side, I knew that he was in no way proud, at
all events.  He told me to jump into the boat, by all means.  On our way
down I asked him if he was going to be long away from his ship.

"`Long away, do you say?' he answered, in an indignant tone.  `I'll tell
you what it is, Vincent, it will be long, I'm thinking, before I go back
again.  I've been made an officer of, it's true, but I haven't been
treated as one or looked on as one, because I wasn't born a gentleman,
and slavery in a cocked hat I, for one, will not bear.'

"In that way he talked till we got pretty nearly down to Yarmouth.  At
last he worked himself up into a regular rage, for he was a passionate
man, do you see.

"`Give us a knife, some one of you,' he sang out.

"I handed him mine.  When he got it, he began cutting off the buttons
from his coat.  Then he unbuckled his sword, and took off his hat.  He
jumped up, and holding all the things together, as it were in a lump, he
hove them away into the sea as far from him as he could, uttering at the
same time a loud and deep curse.  `There goes the last link of the chain
that binds me to slavery!' he exclaimed.  `Now, my lads, I'm once more
Jim Dore, the bold smuggler.'

"The men in the boat thought what he had done was very fine, and so did
I in those days, and so we all cheered him over and over again.  When he
landed at Yarmouth, every one turned out to welcome him as if he had
been an admiral just come home after a great victory; and certainly the
people did make much of him.  Those Yarmouth men are great smugglers,
there's no doubt about it.  I don't think, however, myself, as I did in
those days.  Dore was a brave man, and it's a great pity he had not been
taught better, and he might have been an ornament to the service he
deserted.

"When his leave was up, and he did not return, an officer with a boat's
crew was sent to look for him.  He got notice of their coming, and got
stowed out of the way, for there were plenty of people to help him.  He
had to keep in hiding for a long time, and often, I dare say, he wished
himself back aboard the brig.  When the war was over he took to
smuggling again, and he soon got command of a large cutter.  At last he
and some other Yarmouth men went away in her, and from that day to this
have never been heard of.  It is supposed that the cutter was run down
or foundered in a tremendous gale of wind, which sprung up soon after
she was last seen."

One of our friends who came from Poole in Dorsetshire, told us a very
good story, when Jerry Vincent and one or two others sang out in chorus,
"Howe! howe! howe!"

I asked what they meant.

"That is what we always say to a Poole man," answered Jerry.  "Did you
never hear tell of the Poole man and the owl?"

I told him that I never had, and asked him for the story.

"Well, you must know that once upon a time there was a homeward-bound
Poole man just coming up Channel, and not far off the land, when, the
night being somewhat dark, do ye see, an old owl flew by `Howe! howe!
howe!' cried the owl.

"The master, who had been dozing aft, thinking all the time, exactly as
many another man does, that he was wide awake, just heard the sound as
he roused up, and fancied that another skipper was hailing him.

"`From Newfoundland!' he sang out, rubbing his eyes, and dreaming that
he saw the strange ship abeam.

"`Howe! howe! howe!' hooted the owl again.

"`With fish,' answered the Poole man.

"`Howe! howe! howe!' once more cried the old owl, as he was flying off.

"`Over Poole bar with the next tide, please the pigs,' sang out the
skipper at the top of his voice, for fear those in the other craft
wouldn't otherwise hear him.  Nothing would ever persuade him that he
hadn't been talking all the time with the skipper of some outward-bound
craft.

"That's all very well, and it is not a bad story, and may be true, or it
may not; but you Hampshire men are not all of you so very clever,"
answered Mr Bexley, our Poole friend, who had himself been skipper of a
merchantman.  "Have none of you ever heard speak of Botley assizes, eh?"

I asked him what he meant.

"Why," he answered, "you know Botley isn't very far from Southampton.
Once upon a time a party of young chaps belonging to Botley were
returning from a merry-making of some sort, and as it happened, all of
them but one were more than three sheets in the wind.  For some reason
or other, nothing would make this one touch a drop of liquor.  As they
were walking along they began to jeer him, and at last they declared
that he had been guilty of a capital offence, because he had let the
glass pass by, and they agreed that they would try him.  Well, they came
to a place near a wood, where there were a number of trees cut down, and
there they all sat round, and the accused was placed in the middle.  The
most drunk of the party was chosen as judge, and the others were the
counsel, some to accuse and the others to defend him.

"The poor fellow tried to get away, but his friends would not let him.
He, of course, had nothing to say for himself, except that he did not
choose to drink, and the upshot of his trial was that he was condemned
to be hung.

"Unfortunately one of them had a rope with him, and without more ado
they ran up the culprit to the nearest tree.  To be sure, they did
intend to put the rope round his waist, but they were too drunk to know
exactly what they were about, and by mistake slipped it, Jack Ketch
fashion, round his neck.  Having done this wise trick, they all ran
away, shrieking with laughter at the cleverness of their joke.

"They were very much surprised to find, the next morning, that the poor
fellow was missing.  At last they went out to look for him, and found
him hanging where they had left him, but as dead as a church door.

"So, gentlemen, you see that the people in those parts are very clever
chaps, and if you take them at their own value, there are none to be
found like them in all the world.  I have another story for you to prove
this.

"One day a poor Jew fell into the Itchen.

"`Oh, shave me! shave me! vil no one shave me?' he sang out; but of all
the people standing round there wasn't one who would touch him with his
fingers, because they looked on him as a dirty old Jew.

"At last they thought that though he was a Jew it was a shame to let him
drown, so half-a-dozen or more of them ran off to get a rake to haul him
out.  One couldn't find a rake, and another couldn't find a rake; so,
long before they came back, the poor Jew was drowned.  That is the
reason why we say, when a chap is a long time doing a thing that he
ought to have done in a hurry, `He's gone for a rake to haul out the
Jew.'"

"Ay, ay, Mr Bexley, but you know what the Poole man did when his pig
got his head through the bars of the gate?" exclaimed Jerry Vincent,
with a good-natured laugh.  "Why, you see, mates, when he found that he
couldn't haul it out, to save trouble he cut off the beast's head.  Some
people in our parts would have sawed through the bars, but we don't
pretend to be wise, you know.

"I don't mind telling a story against ourselves.  Did any of you ever
hear why the Downton people are called `Moonrakers'?  They themselves
don't mind hearing the story.  Once upon a time, some Downton men had
sunk some tubs in a big pond, and they were hard at work all night
raking them up.  While they were still engaged, who should come by but a
party of custom-house people.

"`What are you doing there, men?' they asked.  `Some mischief, no
doubt.'

"`Oh, no! please, kind gentlemen, we are only trying to rake the moon
out of this pond,' answered the Downton men, quite in a simple voice.
You see that the moon was at the time shining brightly down into the
pond.

"`Oh! is that all?' said the custom-house people, thinking that they
were a few simpletons escaped out of a madhouse.  On went the
custom-house people.  After a little time they came back.  The smugglers
had just got out their last tub.  Some clouds meantime had come over the
moon.  `Well, my men, have you got the moon at last?' said the
custom-house officer.

"`Oh, yes! there's little doubt about it, for it's no longer there.  If
we haven't got it, perhaps you can tell us who has.'

"This made the custom-house people feel sure that they were right in
their conjectures; so on they went, little dreaming of the prize they
had lost."

We all laughed heartily at Jerry Vincent's and Mr Bexley's stories.

"I'll tell you a story, for the truth of which I can vouch," said Uncle
Kelson.  "The circumstance only lately happened.  So, strange as it may
seem, there is no doubt about it.  You all have heard speak of Sir Harry
Burrard Neale, who commands just now the King's yacht, the _Royal
Charlotte_.  The boatswain of her is a friend of mine, and last summer
he got me a cast down to Weymouth, where I wanted to go to see the widow
of an old shipmate I had promised to look after.  We were just clear of
the Needles.  There was a light breeze and a smooth sea, when we made
out a small boat standing towards us, seemingly as if she had come out
of Poole harbour or Swanage.

"`She seems to me to be a fishing-boat, and as if she wanted to speak
us, Sir Harry,' said the first lieutenant, who had been spying at her
through his glass.

"`So I see,' answered the captain.  `There seem to be two people in her
making signals.  It will not delay us much, so heave the ship to, and
let us learn what they want.'

"This was just like Sir Harry.  Many a captain would have stood on and
taken no notice of a poor fisherman's boat, even had there been a dozen
people waving in her.  In a little time the boat came alongside, with a
man and a woman in her, and they were certainly the rummest old couple
you ever saw in your life.

"A midshipman hailed them, and asked them what they wanted.  As well as
we could make out, for they spoke very broad Scotch, they said that they
wanted their son.

"`Let them come aboard,' said Sir Harry kindly, `and we will hear what
they have to say.'

"With no little difficulty, after a good deal of pulling and hauling, we
got the old couple upon deck, and led them aft to Sir Harry.

"`For whom are you inquiring, my good people?' asked the captain.

"`Our bairn, sir--our ain bairn,' answered the old lady.  `For many a
weary week have we been looking for him, and never have our eyes rested
on his bonnie face since the black day, near five long years ago, when
he was carried away from us.  Ah! it was a sair day, sirs.'

"`What is your son's name, my good people?' asked Sir Harry.

"`David, sir--Davie Campbell.  He was so called after his grandfather,
who died in '45, with mony other brave men,' answered the old dame.

"`We have a man of that name on board, sir,' remarked the first
lieutenant to the captain.  `He is in the watch below.  It will be
strange if he should prove to be the man these poor souls are searching
for.'

"`Let him be called on deck, and we will see if they acknowledge him as
their son,' said Sir Harry.  `There must be many hundred David Campbells
in the world, I suspect, so do not raise their hopes too high by letting
them know that at all events we know the name on board.'

"`David Campbell!  David Campbell!' was passed along the decks, and in a
minute a fine active young fellow came tumbling up from below.

"A mother's eye was not to be deceived.  She knew him in an instant, and
toddled off as fast as her legs would carry her, followed by her
husband, to meet him.  `He is, he is my ain bairn!  There's none like
him!' she cried; and not caring a fig for the officers and men standing
around,--before even he knew who she was,--she had him clasped in her
arms, and was covering his cheeks with kisses, while the old father had
got hold of his hand and was tagging away at it just as a man in a hurry
does at a bell-rope.

"Now comes the extraordinary part of the story.  Campbell had been
rather a wildish sort of a chap, and getting into some scrape, had gone
on board a tender, at Leith I think it was, and entered the navy.  He
could not write, and was ashamed to get any one to write for him, so his
old father and mother did not know where he was, or whether he was alive
or dead.

"At last their hearts grew weary at not hearing tidings of him, and they
resolved to set out together to look out for their lost sheep; for you
see they were decent people and well to do in the world, so they had
money to bear the expense, which was not slight.  They had very little
information to guide them.  All they knew was, that their son had gone
on board one of the King's ships.  A mother's deep love and a father's
affection was the only compass by which they could steer their course.
That did not fail them.  They went from port to port, and visited every
ship in harbour, and asked every seaman they met about their son, but
nothing could they hear of him.  At last, that very morning, a waggon
had brought them to Poole, and seeing a ship in the offing, which was no
other than the _Royal Charlotte_, they had got a boatman to take them
out to us.

"That, now, is what I call a providential circumstance; indeed, from all
I have seen and learned since I came into the world, I am convinced that
there is nothing happens in it by chance.  The God of heaven orders all
for the best in kindness to us.  Sometimes, it is true, things do not
occur exactly as we could wish, but that does not alter the rule; for if
we could but see the end, we should discover that the very thing of
which we most complain was in reality most for our good.  Remember that,
nephew, whenever you get into danger or difficulty; be sure that you do
your duty, and all will come right at last.  But I have not told you the
end of my story.

"The Poole boatman was sent on shore, and the traps of the old couple
were handed up on board.  Like canny Scotch people, they had not let
their property remain out of their sight, but had brought it with them.
It was delightful to see their pleasure when Sir Harry invited them to
go on to Weymouth, and to live on board as long as the ship remained
there; and he gave orders to have a screen put up for their
accommodation.  That, too, was just like him.  There is not another man
in the service more considerate or kind to all below him.  All, too, who
know him love him; and his Majesty, I believe, trusts him more, and
loves him more, than he does all his courtiers put together.

"Never have I seen a pair of old folks look more happy, as their son
went about showing them round the ship, and when all the officers and
crew spoke kindly to them as they passed.

"The king, too, when he came on board and heard the story, was very much
interested, and sent for them to have a talk with them.  They did not
know who he was, but when they came out of the cabin they said that he
was one of the kindest old gentlemen they had ever seen; that he had had
a long crack with them all about bonnie Scotland and Scotch people; and
that he had asked them a heap of questions about their adventures.

"You should have seen their look of surprise when they heard that it was
his gracious Majesty himself.  [Note.  Admiral Sir Harry Burrard Neale
was a great-uncle of the author, and the account is given as it was
narrated to him many years ago.] They wanted to go back to fall down on
their knees, and to ask his pardon for talking so freely with him, and
it was not till we assured them that the king talked just in the same
way with any of the crew, that we could quiet them and make them believe
that all was right.

"At last, having assured themselves that their son was well and happy,
they returned with contented hearts to Scotland, and many has been the
long yarn they have spun, I doubt not, about King George and all the
wonders they have seen on their travels."

Every one was very much interested in my uncle's story.  A young man who
was present, a friend of mine, belonging to a revenue cutter, observed,
"We were talking of smugglers just now.  There is no end to the dodges
they are up to.

"Not long ago, soon after I joined the _Lively_, it had come on to blow
pretty fresh, and we had had a dirty night of it, when just as morning
broke we made out a cutter standing in for the land to the eastward of
Weymouth, and about two miles from us.  The wind was from the
north-west, and it had kicked up a nasty sea, running pretty high, as it
well knows how to do in that part of the Channel.

"Our old mate, Mr Futlock, had the morning watch.  It was never his
brightest time, for though he did not actually get tipsy, the reaction
following the four or five pretty stiff glasses of grog which he drank
at night, generally at this time took place.  I was in his watch.

"`Youngster,' said he to me, `hand me the glass, and let us see if we
can make out what that fellow is.'

"I brought him the glass, which was kept hung up in beckets within the
companion-hatch.  I had got my sea-legs aboard pretty well, but I
confess that I felt very queer that morning in certain regions, ranging
from the top of my head to the soles of my feet, and I doubt not looked
very yellow in the cheeks, with every instant an irresistible drawing
down of the mouth, and that worst of signs, a most unyoungsterlike
disinclination to eat.

"Mr Futlock took the glass, and with his lack-lustre eye had a long
look at the cutter, which was bobbing away into the seas, while she kept
her course on a wind as if in no manner of a hurry.

"`She is honest, I believe,' he observed, with a wise nod.  `Probably a
Poole or Exmouth trader; but we must overhaul her notwithstanding.
Shake a reef out of the mainsail, my lads.'

"This was quickly done, and the sail hoisted up.  `Now, keep her away a
couple of points more, and we shall about fetch her.'

"Our mate's orders being executed, away we went tearing through the
foaming, hissing water, now looking, in the morning's pale light, of a
dark, melancholy hue.  The stranger continued on as steady as before.

"`Oh, there's no use in the world giving ourselves the trouble of
boarding her,' muttered Mr Futlock; and he was just going to order the
cutter to be kept on a wind, when we saw the stranger haul up his
foresail, and let fly his jib sheets, evidently intending to wait our
coming.

"`What cutter is that?' shouted old Futlock.

"`The _Polly_ of London, bound for Weymouth,' answered a man, who stood
at the taffrail, through a speaking-trumpet.  `We hove-to, sir, that we
might tell you we have just run over a large number of tubs away there
to the southward.'

"`Thank you, thank you,' shouted Mr Futlock in return, as we ran by and
were soon out of speaking distance.  `I knew that fellow was honest,' he
observed to me, rubbing his hands at the thought of making some
prize-money.  `Come, rouse aft the main-sheet.  We must haul up a little
again.  Can any one see the tubs?'

"There were plenty of busy eyes looking out for the prize, and it was
not long before we discovered them on the weather bow.  By keeping our
luff we were quickly up to them.

"The commander was by this time called, and now came a difficulty.  With
the heavy sea there was running, it was a work not free from danger to
lower a boat.  We first shortened sail; the helm was put down, and the
cutter hove-to, and then, after several attempts by waiting for a lull,
we got the boat with a crew safe in water.

"Mr Futlock jumped into the boat, and pulled towards the tubs which
were first seen, we meantime keeping a bright look-out for any more
which might be floating near.

"Not being accustomed to this sort of work, I felt not a little alarmed
for the safety of my shipmates, as I saw the boat tumbling about among
the white-crested waves.

"Mr Futlock soon got hold of ten tubs, lashed together, and hauled them
into the boat.  A little further on he made a prize of ten more.  This
was no bad beginning.  He was returning with them, having in vain
searched for others, when we made out another collection just ahead of
the cutter.  We soon had them all aboard, though the boat was nearly
swamped alongside.  We hoisted her in at last, and seeing no more tubs,
let draw the foresail, and again stood on.  When at last we looked about
for our communicative friend, he was not visible; but some of the men
said they thought they had seen him standing in for the land.

"We cruised about all the morning in the neighbourhood, but not a tub
more could we discover.  Three days after that we dropped our anchor in
Weymouth roads.  The commander went on shore to communicate with the
officer of the coast-guard on the station.

"`We were looking out for a cutter with a large cargo the other day, but
somehow or other we managed to miss her, and she managed to land every
tub.  We understand that there has not been such a run for years,'
observed the coast-guard officer.

"Something made our commander fancy that she might have been the very
craft we spoke, and which had been so ready with information.

"`A cutter of about fifty tons, with her bulwarks painted yellow
inside?' he asked.

"`The very same,' answered the lieutenant.  `That cunning rascal, Dick
Johnstone, was on board of her himself.  Hearing that we were on the
look-out for his craft, the _Seagull_, he shifted his cargo into her.'

"`Then we were cleverly done!' exclaimed our commander, stamping his
foot with vexation.  `The very fellow old Futlock thought looked so
honest that he would not take the trouble to board him.  It is the very
last time in my life that I will trust to outside appearances.'

"All hands of us aboard the cutter felt very foolish when we found that
we had lost so good a chance of taking one of the richest prizes we were
ever likely to fall in with.  However, revenue officers must have all
their seven senses wide awake to compass the artful dodges of determined
smugglers.  After that, we took very good care to be smart about
boarding every vessel we fell in with."

After the conclusion of this yarn we had several other accounts of
smugglers and their daring deeds.  Some even, it was asserted, had
ventured to defend themselves against king's ships, and had fought
severe actions, one or two having gone down with their colours flying
rather than surrender.  On one point all were agreed, that no smugglers
had ever become permanently wealthy men.  As my uncle observed, they
take a great deal of trouble and undergo great risk to obtain a very
uncertain advantage.

All the rest of the guests were gone; old Jerry remained behind.  We
told him what had occurred in the morning, and I asked him if he could
find out anything about Charley Iffley; what was his rank, and to what
ship he belonged.  I begged him, if he could find him, to take a message
to him from me, and to assure him that far from bearing him any
ill-will, I would gladly welcome him as an old friend.



CHAPTER ELEVEN.

OLD JERRY'S REPORT OF IFFLEY--FEARS OF THE PRESSGANG--RESOLVE TO GO
INLAND--COMMENCE OUR JOURNEY--SEIZED BY MEN-OF-WAR'S MEN--IFFLEY'S
TREACHERY--FIND MYSELF ABOARD A MAN-OF-WAR BOUND FOR INDIA--IFFLEY'S
CONDUCT--A GALE--FALL OVERBOARD--SAVED--PUNISHMENT ABOARD--ACCUSED OF
STEALING--SENTENCED TO BE FLOGGED--IFFLEY'S TRIUMPH.

Several days passed by, and I heard nothing of Iffley.  The fears of my
dear wife in consequence at length subsided, and she began to see that,
after all, she had probably thought worse of my old shipmate than he
deserved.  We agreed that he must have been somewhat astonished at
seeing me alive, and the husband of one whom he had hoped to marry
himself, and that chiefly through bashfulness he had not been able to
bring himself to come up and address us.

"Bashfulness!" said Aunt Bretta, when she heard this remark; "I cannot
say that I should ever have given Charles Iffley the credit for a
superabundance of that quality.  However, strange things happen.  He may
have picked it up at sea, or among his associates on shore; but I doubt
it."

So did I, on reflection.  Still, I was glad by any means to calm my
wife's apprehensions, which were the more painful because they were so
very indefinite.  In the evening there was a knock at the door, and old
Jerry Vincent walked in.

"Sarvant, ladies; sarvant all," said he, pulling off his hat to Aunt
Bretta and my wife, who handed him a chair.

"Have you heard anything of that young man we told you of?" asked my
wife.  It was evidently the question she was most anxious to put.

"Yes, I have, marm, and not much good either," was the answer.  "I've
found out that he is aboard the _Royal William_; she's the flagship just
now at Spithead.  He doesn't often come ashore, and that made me so long
hearing of him."

"What is he on board?  Is he an officer?" asked Aunt Bretta.

"An officer, indeed, whew!" exclaimed Jerry.  "Well, he is a sort of
one, maybe.  Not a very high rating, though.  He's neither more nor less
than a boatswain's mate.  What do you think of that, marm?"

"Charles Iffley a boatswain's mate!" said my wife in a tone of pity.  "I
thought he was an officer long ago."

"Well, marm, I made inquiries on board, and among several people who
knew him on shore, and from what I could learn, he would have been an
officer long ago if he had conducted himself well.  He was placed on the
quarter-deck, for you see he has plenty of education, and knows how to
act the gentleman as well as any man.  But there are some men who never
get up the tree but what they slip down again, and never can keep a
straight course long together.  Charles Iffley is of that sort.  For
something or other he did, he got disrated and dismissed the service;
but he entered it again, and, from what I am told, I shouldn't be
surprised but what, if his early history isn't known, he'll work his way
up again.  The thing that is most against him is his extravagance.
Every farthing he makes in prize-money or pay he spends on shore, in
acting the fine gentleman.  People can't, indeed, tell how he gets all
the money he spends.  Of course, if it was known on board the pranks he
plays on shore, his leave would be stopped; but he is so clever that he
humbugs the officers, and they think him one of the most steady and best
men.  You see there's another thing which brings him into favour with
the captain and first lieutenant; he has a knack of finding men and
getting them to join the ship, by making her out to be the most
comfortable ship in the service, and there's no man knows better how to
ferret out seamen, and to lead a pressgang down upon a score of them
together.  I learned all these things from different people, do ye see,
but putting this and that together, I made out my story as I tell it to
you.  To my mind, Charles Iffley is a man I would stand clear of.
Depend on't, he's a deep one."

Jerry Vincent stayed with us some time, and then he said he had an
engagement and must go away.  As he did so he beckoned me out of the
room, and I accompanied him to the door.

"I'll tell you what it is, Mr Weatherhelm," said he, "you have been
bred a seaman, and the pressgangs are very hot at work just now.  They
take everybody who has been at sea, no matter what his present calling--
whether he has a wife and family depending on him or not.  Now Iffley
knows that you have no protection, and he has the power of getting hold
of you.  From what I hear, he's just the man to use it.  If you was his
bosom friend, he'd do it; but if he owes you a grudge, depend on it
he'll not let you slip out of his gripe.  He'd have been down on you
before now, but he got a broken head the other night, in attacking the
crew of a merchantman just come home from a three years' cruise round
the Horn, and had no fancy to be sent off to sea again when they had
only just put their foot on shore.  However, he is now on his legs
again.  If you stay here, you'll hear something of him before long; but
take my advice, just rig out as an old farmer, or a black-coated
preacher, or something as unlike yourself as you can, and take your wife
and go and live away somewhere up in the country.  It's your only
chance.  If you stay you'll be nabbed, as sure as my name is Jerry
Vincent."

I thanked the old man very much for his advice, and replied that I had
no doubt, on consideration, I should follow it.

"Oh, there's a good lad!  Don't be waiting and considering.  There's no
good comes of that.  When a thing is to be done which must be done, go
and do it at once."

"Well, I will, Jerry, I will," I answered, shaking him by the hand.  I
waited at the door, and while I watched him down the street I considered
what course I would pursue.  I was unwilling to tell my wife what he had
said, because I knew it would agitate her very much, and I hoped that
Jerry thought worse of Iffley than he deserved.  Of course, however, I
determined to consult Uncle Kelson, and to abide by his advice.  It was
a serious consideration whether I would, on the mere chance of Iffley's
being able to get hold of me, give up my occupation, in which I was
succeeding so well, and go and live, for I knew not how long, in
comparative poverty, without anything to do.  I made an excuse for
stepping out of the room to talk to Jerry, and my wife did not appear to
suspect that he had had anything more to say about Iffley.  As soon as
she and my aunt had gone upstairs, I told Uncle Kelson all that I had
learned.  He looked graver than usual while he listened to the account.

"Well, he must be a scoundrel if he could do it!" he exclaimed at last,
clenching his fist.  "Still, such things have been done, but I did hope
that no seaman would be guilty of them."  He was silent for some time,
and lost in reflection.  "I'll tell you what, Will," said he at last,
"you must follow old Jerry's advice.  It's sound, depend on it.  That
old man has more wisdom in his little finger than many a man has in the
whole of his head.  Go to your work to-morrow morning, and I'll look
down in the course of the day and see your employer, and explain matters
to him frankly.  He, I have no doubt, will give you leave of absence for
a few weeks, and when you come back you can work double tides.  If you
stay, you see, you'll be lost to him probably altogether."

So the matter was arranged.  I was rather ashamed, however, at the
thought of having to go into hiding, as it were; but still I felt that
my wife's mind would be relieved from apprehension when once I was safe
away out of Portsmouth.  Uncle Kelson had a sister married to a farmer
living in the north of Hampshire, and there we resolved to go.

The next day I went to my work as usual, and my uncle came down and had
a talk with my employer, and the whole matter was arranged to the
satisfaction of all parties.

"Come," said Uncle Kelson, "you had better at once take your places by
the coach, and start to-morrow.  There is no time to be lost."

We found on getting to the coach-office that all the coaches were full.
At that time there was an immense traffic between Portsmouth and London.
A post-chaise was somewhat beyond our means, but we found a light
waggon starting, which took passengers, and Uncle Kelson and I agreed
that this would prove a convenient and very pleasant conveyance, as we
were in no hurry, and would not object to being some time on the road.
It was to start pretty early in the morning.  My dear wife was delighted
at the thoughts of the journey, and speedily made the necessary
preparations.  We sent on our trunk by a wheelbarrow, while we followed,
accompanied by Uncle Kelson.  Even at that early hour the High Street
was astir,--indeed, in those busy times, both during day and night,
something or other was going forward.  We passed several gangs of
men-of-war's men.  Three or four men evidently just pressed, and who
showed a strong disinclination to go and serve their country, were being
dragged along by one of the gangs.  I could not help pitying the poor
fellows; so did my wife.

"Oh, Willand," said she, "how thankful I am that you are not among
them!"

Our waggon was a very nice one, covered over with a clean white tilt,
and our waggoner, I saw at a glance, was an honest, good-hearted
chaw-bacon.  He was dressed in the long white frock, thickly plaited in
front, which has been worn from time immemorial by people of his
calling.  Our trunk and bags were put in; we shook hands with Uncle
Kelson, and having taken our seats just inside in the front part, with
plenty of straw for our feet to rest on, the waggoner whipped up his
four sturdy horses, and we began to move on.  My dear wife pressed
closer to my side, and we began to breathe more freely; she thought I
was safe from the pressgang.  We were just clear of the fortifications,
and were getting into the open country, when I saw the waggoner turn
round once or twice, and look over his shoulder behind him.

"What can they be after?"  I heard him say.  A minute more passed.
"Hillo, men, what does ye want here?" he exclaimed suddenly, as half a
dozen or more seamen sprang forward, and seized the horses' heads, while
others leaped up into the waggon.

"We are looking for a deserter," cried two or three of them.  "Turn out,
my hearty; where are you stowed away?"

I felt, the instant the seamen appeared, that they had come to press me,
but these words revived my hopes of escape.

"There is no one here, my men, besides my wife and me that I know of," I
observed.  "You have made a mistake, I suspect."

"Well, we must look," said the men; "we are not quite so green as to
take your word for it."

"You may look as much as you like, measters," said the waggoner; "you'll
find no one among my goods, unless he's stowed hesself away unknowest to
me."

The seamen began to poke their cutlasses in between the packages, and
would undoubtedly have run any one through who had been inside them.
While they were thus employed, three or four other men came up.

"What are you about, mates?" exclaimed one of them, whose voice I felt
sure I knew.  "The man you want is sitting in the front of the waggon!"

On hearing these words my poor wife uttered a piercing shriek, and fell
fainting into my arms.  She, too, had recognised the voice, though the
speaker had kept out of her sight; it was that of Charles Iffley.  The
seamen instantly sprang on me, and seized me by the arms.

"Hillo, mate, you were going to give us the go-by," said one of them as
they passed a rope round my elbows before I could lift an arm in my
defence.

They literally dragged me from my poor wife.  She would have fallen, but
the waggoner humanely scrambled up into his waggon, and placed her
securely at the bottom of it.  She was still, I saw, completely
insensible.  I scarcely regretted that she was so, for I did not at the
moment foresee the consequences.  The honest carter was in vain
expostulating with the seamen for seizing one whom he considered placed
under his especial charge, to be delivered safe at the journey's end.

"I don't think as how you have any right to take that gentleman; he's no
more a sailor nor I bes," I heard him say.

"Not a sailor!  Why, the man has been at sea all his life till the last
year or so," said Iffley, now coming up, and throwing off all disguise;
"he's, moreover, to my certain knowledge, a deserter from his Majesty's
ship _Brilliant_, so attempt to detain him if you dare."

These words had a great effect on the honest waggoner, who did not
attempt to make any further efforts to detain me.

Generally speaking, the most ruffian-like and least scrupulous of the
crew were employed in the pressgangs, for they often had very brutal
work to perform.  The men into whose hands I had fallen were as bad as
any I had ever met.  They seized me with the greatest ferocity, dragged
me out of the waggon, and would not listen to my prayers and entreaties
to be allowed to wait till my wife came to her senses; and before even I
had time to speak to the waggoner, in spite of all the violent struggles
I made to free myself, they hauled me off along the road as if I had
been one of the worst of malefactors.  In this they were encouraged by
Iffley, who seemed to take a malignant pleasure in seeing me
ill-treated, though he did not himself attempt to lay hands on me.  When
I tried to cry out, I found a gag thrust into my mouth, and thus I was
rendered speechless as well as in every other way powerless.

My captors hurried me away, and with a feeling amounting to agony, I
lost sight of the waggon.  At first it occurred to me that Iffley had
gone back for the purpose, as I dreaded, of speaking to my wife, and
perhaps adding to her misery; but had he entertained such a thought, he
had not dared to face her, for I saw him directly afterwards following
close behind me, encouraging the other men to hasten along.

Though I made all the resistance of which I was capable, in the hopes
that something or other might occur to enable me to free myself, we soon
reached the entrance to Portsmouth.

Instead, however, of proceeding down the High Street, Iffley led the way
down one of the by-streets to the right.  Just as we were passing under
the ramparts I looked up, and there I saw walking up and down, as if to
enjoy the breeze, a person whom I recognised at a glance as Uncle
Kelson.  The moment I saw him, hope revived in my breast.  I could at
all events tell him to go in search of my wife.  Perhaps he might even
find means to liberate me; but when I tried to sing out, the horrible
gag prevented me speaking.  I could only utter inarticulate cries and
groans.

In vain I shrieked.  He did not even turn his head; the sounds were too
common.  He thought, probably, that it was only some drunken seaman, who
had outstayed his leave, dragged back to his ship.

At length, for a moment, he looked round.  I struggled more vehemently
than before.  I fancied that he must recognise me, but, urged by Iffley,
my captors dragged me on faster than ever, and turning a corner we were
hid from his sight.  My strength was now almost exhausted.  I could
offer but a faint resistance.  Hope, too, had abandoned me.  Still I
tried to make myself heard, on the possibility of some one knowing me
and undertaking to carry a message to my uncle and aunt.  People stopped
and looked, but the same idea occurred to all--my frantic gestures made
them believe that I was a miserable drunken sailor.

We reached the water's edge.  I was shoved into a boat with several
other men who had been captured during the night.  They all were sitting
stunned, or drunken, or sulky (or some too probably broken-hearted and
miserable), at the bottom of the boat, not exchanging a word with each
other or with those who had pressed us.  I also fell down stunned and
unconscious.  Who could have discovered the difference between me and my
companions in misfortune?  When I again opened my eyes, I found that the
boat was almost at Spithead.  I tried to sit up to look about me, but I
could not, and, after a feeble attempt to rise, I again sank back, and
once more oblivion of all that had passed stole over my senses.  I had a
sort of dreamy feeling that I was lifted up on the deck of a big ship,
and then handed below and put into a hammock.  Then I was aware that
some one came and felt my pulse and gave me medicine, but I had no power
to think, to recollect the past or to note the present.

At last, by degrees, I found that I was becoming more alive to what was
taking place.  I felt the movement of the ship.  She was heeling over to
a strong breeze.  Then suddenly the recollection of my wife, of the way
I had been torn from her, of the wretchedness I knew she must suffer, of
the uncertainty she must feel for my fate, burst like a thunder-clap on
me, and almost sent me back into the state from which I was recovering.
I groaned in my agony.  I wished that death might kindly be sent to
relieve me of my misery.  But the instant after I felt that such a wish
was impious.

I lay quiet for some time, thinking and praying that strength might be
given for my support.  No, no, I'll try to live, that I may get back to
comfort her.  What joy it would be once more to return to her!  The very
contemplation of such an idea revived me.  "Whatever comes, I'll do my
duty like a man."

"That's right, my lad; that's the proper spirit in which to take our
misfortunes," said a voice near me.

Unconsciously, I had spoken aloud.  I turned round my head, and saw a
gentleman I knew at once was the doctor of the ship.

"I know your story.  You have told me a good deal about yourself while
you have been lying there," he remarked, in a kind voice.  "I pity you
from my heart, and will do what I can for you."

"Thank you, sir, thank you," I answered warmly, and almost melting into
tears, for I was very weak.  "Where are we?  Where are we going?  What
ship is this?  Is Iffley here?"

"One question at a time, my lad, and you will have a better chance of an
answer, as a general rule," he answered, smiling.

He was a Scotchman, and as warm-hearted, generous a man as the north
ever produced, though somewhat peculiar in his manners.  To a stranger
he appeared slow; but, when time would allow it, he knew the advantage
of deliberation.

"First, then, I will tell you that you are on board the _Albion_, and
that we have under our convoy a large fleet of merchantmen.  We are
somewhere to the southward of Cape Finisterre.  What you are thinking
about is, how you can write home to let your wife know what has become
of you.  You'll very likely soon have an opportunity.  Let that comfort
you."  He said all this that he might break more gradually all that was
coming.

"But where are we going, sir?"  I asked, in a trembling voice.

"You may perhaps have an opportunity of getting home," he answered.
"But you see, my lad, we are bound for the East Indies, and shall
probably have a somewhat long cruise of it."

"To the East Indies!"  I cried, my voice sinking almost to a whisper.
"When, when, Margaret, may I ever meet you again?"

"Cheer up, my lad, it's a long road which has no turning, ye ken," cried
the kind doctor.  "Remember your resolution to do your duty like a man.
You'll be well in a few days, I hope."

He did not reply to my question about Iffley.  Somehow or other, I could
not bring myself again to repeat that man's name.  I did not forget the
command to forgive our enemies, but I felt that flesh and blood--the
depravity of human nature--must be struggled with and overcome, before
the divine precept could be obeyed.

Once more I was on my feet again, and a man who attended on the sick
helped me up on deck.  It was a fine day--the sky was blue, the sea was
calm, and some thirty ships, with all their canvas set, were grouped
close around us.  They were huge lumbering tea-chests, as we used to
call Indiamen, but they were fine-looking craft for all that.  The fresh
sea-breeze revived me.  Every hour I felt myself growing stronger and
better.  I looked round for Iffley.  I had a nervous dread of meeting
him, and yet I felt anxious to ascertain that he was on board.

A person may be on board a big ship like the _Albion_ for several days
without meeting another, provided they are not on duty together.  Such
was my case.  I had been for two days on deck, an hour or so at a time,
without seeing the man who had proved himself so bitterly my enemy.  The
doctor told me he thought that in a day or two more I might go to my
duty, and that I should be the better for having work to do.  I looked
forward to work with satisfaction, and begged that I might as soon as
possible be struck off the sick list.  He told me that I should be so on
the following day, and that he would speak to the first lieutenant about
me, as he was a very kind man, and would see that I was not sent aloft
till I had sufficiently recovered my strength.  I thanked him with a
hearty blessing for his kindness and consideration.

The very first man on whom my eyes rested when I went on deck returned
fit for duty was Charles Iffley.  He was going along the deck with his
cat-o'-nine-tails in his hand.  I knew by this that he still held only
the rating of boatswain's mate on board.  My heart turned sick at the
sight; in a moment my vivid imagination pictured all I might have to
suffer at his hands.

He saw me, but pretended not to know me, and went on his way as if I was
a stranger.  I was immediately sent for aft, and found that I had been
entered in the ship's books as an able seaman and a deserter from his
Majesty's ship the _Brilliant_.

"What have you to say to this, my man?" said the captain, looking
sternly at me.

"That I am not a deserter, sir," I answered in a firm voice; and I then
gave him a clear and succinct account of the cutting-out expedition in
Santa Cruz harbour, in which I had been engaged, and the way in which my
life had been preserved on that occasion.

The captain, after a moment's consideration, sent a midshipman down into
his cabin for a printed book.  When it was brought to him he turned over
the pages and asked me a few more questions.  "I find that your account
agrees exactly with the description I here have of the affair, and I
believe you."

I saw Dr McCall, who came up at the moment and heard the captain's
words, look evidently pleased.  They exchanged glances, I thought.  At
all events, I fancied that I had just and kind-hearted superiors, and
that my condition was far better than I might have expected to find it.
Still this reflection could not mitigate the great source of my grief--
my sudden separation from my wife and my ignorance of her fate.  After
this I was placed in a watch, and went regularly about my duty.  I did
my best to perform it, and quickly recovered my strength.

Ours had always been considered a smart ship, and though our captain was
a kind man, he sacrificed a great deal to smartness.  The most active
and bustling men who could make the most show of doing things smartly,
often gained more credit than they deserved.

It was one forenoon my watch below when I heard the cry of "All hands
shorten sail!"  I had been stationed in the fore-top.  I sprang on deck
as fast as my strength would allow, but I had not recovered my usual
activity.  "Fly aloft, there! fly aloft, you lazy scoundrel, or a
rope's-end will freshen your way a bit!"  I heard a voice cry, close to
my ear.  It was Iffley's.  His countenance showed that he was capable of
executing his threats.  My blood boiled.  I could do nothing.  I could
say nothing.  In a moment I understood the bitter enmity which he had
allowed to enter and to rankle in his bosom.  I scarcely dared again to
look at him.  I hurried on.  A sudden squall had struck the ship--
unexpected after the long calms to which we had been subject.  She was
heeling over to her lower deck ports.  The exertion of all hands was
indeed required to shorten sail.  I found Iffley following close after
me.  I sprang up the rigging and quickly reached the fore-top.  I could
not help seeing his face as he came up.  It wore the expression of most
malignant hatred.  "Lay out; be smart about it, my lads!" cried the
captain of the top, as the fore-topsail-yard came rattling down.

In an instant the yard was covered with active forms hurrying out to its
extreme ends.  I made a spring to get out to the weather-earing.  I had
got it in my hand and was hauling on it, when I saw the countenance of
Iffley, wearing the same expression as before, close to me.  There was
now in it a triumphant expression, as if he hoped that his vindictive
feelings were about to be gratified.  Still not a word did he utter.  No
one on board would have guessed that we had ever before met.  I still
kept to my resolution.

The gale came down on us stronger than ever.  The officers were urging
the men to greater speed.  Suddenly I felt the earing in my hand give
way, and before I could grasp at the yard to save myself I lost my
balance, and to my horror found myself falling into the seething ocean
raging beneath me.  A strange, hideous, mocking strain of laughter
sounded in my ears as I fell, and after that I knew no more till I
discovered that I was struggling in the foaming waters.

I had gone down once, but had quickly come up again.  I threw myself on
my back till I had somewhat recovered my senses, and then turned myself
round and kept treading the water while I looked out to see how far I
was from the ship.

Away she flew, close-hauled though, with the foam dancing round her, and
already at some distance.  "And is this to be my fate?"  I thought; "to
die thus a victim to the foul revenge of that man?"

I resolved to struggle for life.  I looked round me on every side.  The
Indiamen were scattered far and wide, none of them were coming up on our
track.  Still I swam on, but I felt how hopeless was the struggle.

Just then my eye fell on a grating, floating not five fathoms from me,
and which had evidently been thrown to me by some one on board, when I
was seen to fall from aloft.  I exerted all my strength, and at length
reached it.  The time appeared to be very long.  It is impossible, on
such occasions, to measure it.  Moments appeared minutes--minutes hours.
I threw myself on the grating in a position to avoid being washed off
it or thrown under it; but it required no slight exertion to hold on.
As the dark seas came rolling up, and breaking, with a loud, crashing
sound, above my head, I felt as if they must inevitably overwhelm me.
Still I did not give up hope.

Unhappy as I had thought myself, I desired life that I might return home
once more and ascertain the fate of my wife.  I prayed that for this
object I might be preserved; that we might once more be united, and once
again be happy on earth.  Even at that moment, surrounded by the boiling
seas, with my ship flying fast away from me, I pictured, with all the
vividness of reality, the unspeakable joy of once again being restored
to her.  I remembered the numberless dangers to which I had been
exposed, and the merciful way in which I had been preserved from them.

Not for an instant did I think of Iffley.  I forgot that he had been the
cause of my present position, and thus I was prevented from harbouring
any feeling of revenge against him.

As I was saying, I could not judge how long I was clinging to the
grating.  Tossed about as I was--now lifted to the summit of a foaming
sea--now sinking down into the trough--I kept my eye constantly turning
towards my ship.

Suddenly I saw the fore-topsail thrown aback--a boat was lowered--my
shipmates were coming to my rescue.  I felt even then that I was to be
saved.  I forgot the distance they had to pull and the heavy sea which
might both endanger them and hide me from their sight.  Still more
eagerly did I try to make out the boat, as she laboured among the
foaming seas.  I caught a glimpse of her as I rose to the top of a wave,
but she was not pulling towards me.  Those in her could not have seen
me.

Then suddenly the horrid thought came across me, that Iffley might have
pretended to have seen where I was and to have guided the boat wrongly.
Then I blamed myself for thinking even Iffley capable of an act so
atrocious.  Still, I thought if he had purposely thrown me into the sea,
he would be as likely to play the foul trick of which I now suspected
him.

Again I sank down into a deep trough of the sea, and could only for a
time distinguish the topsails of the ship above the masses of foam which
flew around.  When I next rose again, there was the boat pulling away
from me.

I shrieked out, I raised my voice louder and louder, as if I could by
possibility be heard.  I might as well have tried to howl down the
hurricane in its fiercest mood.  This was more trying than all that had
gone before.

At length, exhausted by my exertions, I threw myself back on the
grating, scarcely attempting to hold on.  I was then in the trough of a
sea.  In another moment I was raised again to the summit of a sea, and,
though hopeless, my eyes mechanically turned towards the boat.

Some one on board had seen me--she was pulling towards me.  I felt
conscious in a moment how wrong I had been to despair.  I again exerted
all my strength to keep myself on the grating.  I saw some one standing
up in the bows looking out for me.  He pointed to where I floated, that
the helmsman might steer the boat aright.

"Hurra! hurra!"  A shout reached my ears.  I knew that my shipmates had
given it to encourage me.  A few minutes more, and I found myself hauled
into the boat.

The first person on whom my eyes rested was Iffley.  He looked, I
fancied, conscience-struck and defeated.

"Charley said as how he thought he saw you away to the eastward there;
but Tom Potts caught sight of you, and now we know he was right," said
one of the men who were hauling me in.

I was placed in the bottom of the boat, for there was little time in
that heavy sea to attend to me, and she pulled back towards the ship.  I
felt that I was saved.  I did not expect to be much the worse for my
ducking, and I knew when I got back to the ship that the doctor would
look after me.  I had now no doubt that Iffley had endeavoured to
prevent the boat from coming to my assistance.  How bitter must be his
hatred to allow me--his shipmate--to die thus horribly, struggling in
the sea, when he had the power to save me!

As I was helped up the side, I caught his eye fixed on me, and again I
observed that evident look of baffled vengeance which I had before
remarked.  I felt sure that he would take the first opportunity of
giving further proof of his hatred of me.  I did not see any means of
escaping from it.  Had he even spoken to me, I might have expostulated
with him; but he kept aloof as if I were a total stranger to him.  He
carefully avoided even addressing me directly.  I felt sure, indeed,
that had I spoken to him, he would have stoutly denied all former
knowledge of me, and who was to prove it?  No one whom I knew on board.
I felt as if I were pursued by some monster with supernatural powers,
from whom I could not get free.

When I got on board, Dr McCall kindly ordered me to go to my hammock,
and he came and gave me some medicine.  He said that after the illness
from which I had so long been suffering, the consequences might be
serious if I caught cold from my ducking.  However, I turned out the
next morning not in the slightest degree the worse for what had occurred
I resolved to be as attentive and exact in my duty as possible; I wished
to behave thus, at all events; but I also knew that in that case I
should give my enemy less opportunity of injuring me.

Two days after this a man was convicted of stealing on board.  He was
sentenced to receive fifty lashes.  Iffley was one of the boatswain's
mates chosen to inflict the punishment.  The crew were mustered on deck,
and the man was led forward.  He was one of those wretched men who are
both rogues and cowards.

Iffley and the other boatswain's mates stood with their cats, those
dreadful instruments of power, in their hands ready for use.  While
preparations were being made, the miserable wretch looked round on every
side, as if seeking for some one who could save him from the punishment
he was about to receive.  Not a glance of pity did he get from his
messmates.  They knew him too well.  At last he looked towards Iffley.
I saw them exchange glances.  Iffley, of course, did not speak, but his
looks said something which gave the other courage.

"Captain," said the man, turning round to our captain, "you are going to
make the innocent suffer for the guilty.  I wanted to shield a shipmate;
but he will be found out at last, I know, and I shall only suffer
without doing any one any good, otherwise I could have borne the
punishment willingly."

I at the time thought that the man spoke in that whining tone which a
person in spite of himself uses when he is uttering a falsehood, or
saying what has been put into his mouth by another.

"Cast him loose," said the captain; "I'll inquire into this.  Bring him
aft here.  Now tell me at once who is the man who has committed this
theft, if you are not guilty of it."

"I'd rather not say, sir," replied the culprit.  "I don't like to peach
on another.  He'll be found out before the day is over, and then I
shan't be accused of having told of him."

"That excuse will not serve your turn, my man," answered the captain
sternly.  "Unless you can point out the real culprit, you will have to
suffer the punishment awarded you."

"Oh no, sir, I'd rather not.  Do not be hard on me.  I don't like to
hurt another man, even to save myself," again whined out the man.  "Let
me off, sir, let me off, and the real thief will be found--that he will;
you have my word for it."

"Trice him up again," said the captain to the boatswain.  "The true
thief is about to be punished, I am very certain of that."

"I'll tell, sir, I'll tell!" shrieked out the wretched man.  "He's one
who has been skulking his duty ever since he came on board.  I'd rather
not speak his name."

The captain shook his head, and made a sign to the boatswain to proceed.

"Well, if I must tell," cried out the man, Saull Ley by name, "the thief
is Will Weatherhelm."

I almost fainted when I heard the accusation, and I am sure that I must
have looked as guilty as if I had committed the theft.

A triumphant smile flitted across Iffley's features, and he passed the
knotted tails of his cat, as if mechanically, through his fingers, while
he cast a glance at me which I too well understood.  The captain turned
towards me.

"What is this I hear?" he asked.  "Do you acknowledge the theft,
Weatherhelm?"

"No, sir; certainly not," I answered, with as firm a voice as I could
command, though I felt conscious that it was faltering as I spoke.

"What proof have you that Weatherhelm committed the theft?" asked the
captain of the culprit.

"Because two men, if not more, watched him, and knew that it was him,"
was the answer; and now the man spoke in a firmer voice than I had done,
and I fancied looked more innocent.

"Produce your witnesses," said the captain.

The man hesitated for a minute, and his eye ranged with an uneasy glance
along the lines of men drawn up on deck, as if anxiously scanning their
countenances, for he must have felt that they knew him, and that he was
not generally believed.  At last his eyes rested on two who were
standing together.

"Bill Sykes and Dick Todd saw him, sir; they know all about it.  They'll
tell you; they'll prove I am innocent."

The theft had been committed on the purser's stores.  Some tobacco and
sugar and some other things had been stolen.  Now Saull Ley, the
accused, had been seen coming out of the store-room on one occasion when
the purser's clerk had left the keys in the door for a short time and
gone away.  The purser, on his return, had missed some tobacco and
sugar, and that same evening a small quantity of both those articles had
been found in Ley's possession.

"Stand out, Bill Sykes and Dick Todd, and let me hear what you know
about this matter."

Bill Sykes was a landsman, and had soon shown that he was totally unfit
for a sailor.  Dick Todd had entered as a boy.  He was not worth much,
and had become a great chum of Sykes'.  Still, from the little I had
seen of them, I did not think that they would have been guilty of
falsely accusing a shipmate.  I had therefore little fear of what they
could say against me.

I was, however, somewhat startled when they stepped forward, and Sykes,
as the eldest, began in a clear way to state that he had seen a man,
whom he took to be me, open the door of the purser's room with a key,
and, after being absent for a minute or more, return and lock it.  He at
once knew this was wrong, so he watched what the man he took to be the
thief would next do.  He said that he met with Todd, and told him as a
friend what he had observed.  The thief crept along the deck, and the
two then saw him go to his bag and deposit something which he took out
of his pockets.  Both the men acknowledged that they might be mistaken,
but that they thought that it was me.

"What have you got to say to this, Weatherhelm?" asked the captain.
"You are accused by the mouths of two witnesses."

"The accusation is false, sir," I answered calmly.  "I was not long ago
at my bag, and I observed neither tobacco nor sugar in it.  If you will
send for it, you will find that I speak the truth."

"Very well.  Mr Marvel, take a couple of hands with you, and bring up
Weatherhelm's bag," said the captain, addressing the mate of the lower
deck.

I felt very little anxiety during the time the officer was absent, for I
was sure that nothing would be found among my things.  He soon returned,
bringing the bag.  It was placed before the captain.

"Open it," said he.  It was opened on deck in sight of all the officers
and ship's company.  What was my horror and dismay, to see drawn forth,
wrapped up in a shirt, a large lump of tobacco and a paper containing
several pounds of sugar!  "Now what have you got to say?" asked the
captain, turning to me.

"That I have not the slightest notion how those things came into my
bag," was my prompt answer.

"That is the sort of reply people always give when they are found out,"
said the captain.  "It will not serve your turn, I fear."

"I cannot help it, sir," I replied, with a feeling of desperation.
"Appearances are certainly against me, sir; I know not by whom those
things were put into my bag.  I did not put them in, and I did not know
that they were there."

"You said that another man was a witness of this affair," said the
captain, turning to Ley.  "Who is he?"

Ley began to hum and haw and look uncomfortable.  "I'd rather not say,
sir," whined out Ley, "if it is not necessary."

"But it is necessary," thundered out the captain, evidently annoyed at
the man's coolness and canting hypocrisy.  "Who is he? or you get the
four dozen awarded you."

I had watched all along the countenance of Iffley.  I felt sure that a
plot had been formed against me, and that he was its framer and
instigator.  I saw that he began to grow uneasy at this stage of the
proceedings.

"Who is this other man?" repeated the captain.

Ley saw that he must speak out, or that he would still get the
punishment he was so anxious to escape.  "There he is; Charles Iffley is
the man, sir, who, besides those two, saw Weatherhelm go to his bag and
put the stolen things into it."

"How is this, Iffley?  If you saw a man committing a robbery, it wag
your duty to give notice of it, sir," exclaimed the captain, in an angry
voice, turning towards him.

"I am very sorry, sir," replied Iffley.  "I am aware of what I ought,
strictly speaking, to have done, but I did not like to hurt the
character of a shipmate.  He always seemed a very respectable man, and I
fully believed that I must have been mistaken.  It is only now that the
things are found in his bag that I can believe him guilty."

"You are ready to swear to this?" asked the captain.

"Quite ready, sir, certainly," replied Iffley calmly.  "I add nothing
and withhold nothing on the subject."

Even I was startled by what Iffley said, and the way he said it.  I
could not help supposing that he believed what he said.

"Have you anything more to say in your defence, Weatherhelm?" said the
captain.

"Nothing, sir, except that those men are mistaken.  I can only hope that
they believe what they say," I answered, with a firmer voice than I had
before been able to command.

"I am very sorry for it, and do not just now altogether believe it," I
heard Dr McCall observe as he walked off.  "You will expect your
punishment--six dozen," said the captain.  "Pipe down."

Could a painter at that moment have observed Iffley's countenance, it
might have served him as a likeness of Satan when he is assured that Eve
has fallen.  The officers walked aft, the crew dispersed, and I was
placed under charge of the master-at-arms.

Two days passed by.  How full of agony and wretchedness they were!  The
pain I was to expect was as nothing compared to the disgrace and
degradation.  I who had always borne an unsullied name, whose character
had always stood high both with my officers and messmates, to be now
branded as a thief!  How could I ever face those I loved, conscious of
the marks of the foul lash on my back?  There was no one on board to
speak in my favour; no one who had known me before--and how incapable I
was of the act imputed to me--except Iffley; and he, I felt too well
assured, would do his utmost to destroy me.

The two days passed--no circumstance occurred, as I had hoped it might,
to prove that I was innocent--when the boatswain's call summoned all
hands on deck to witness punishment.  This time I was to be the victim.

The boatswain's mates stood ready.  One of them was Iffley.  He played
eagerly with his cat as I was led forward.  "If come it must."  I
ejaculated, "the Lord have mercy on me--I will bear my punishment as a
man."



CHAPTER TWELVE.

PUNISHMENT INTERRUPTED--PREPARATIONS FOR ACTION--BOAT OFF THE ENEMY--A
CONFESSION--I AM PROVED TO BE INNOCENT--CAPTURE TWO PRIZES--ORDERED HOME
IN ONE OF THEM--DESERTED BY OUR CONSORT--SPRING A LEAK--MUTINY OF
PRISONERS.

"Strip!" said the captain.

I prepared to lay my shoulders bare to receive the lash.

"The Indiamen to windward are signalling to us, sir," shouted the signal
midshipman, turning over the pages of the signal-book.  "An enemy in
sight on the weather-beam."

"Master-at-arms, take charge of the prisoner; punishment is deferred,"
cried the captain, springing on to the poop.

I was led below.  I almost wished that the punishment was over.  I had
nerved myself up to bear it, dreadful as it was, without flinching.  Now
I knew not for how long it might be postponed, but I had no hopes of
escaping it altogether.

In another minute, the stirring cry of "Prepare ship for action!" was
passed along the decks.  Every one in a moment was full of activity.
The cabin bulk-heads were knocked away, fire-screens were put up, the
doors of the magazine were thrown open, and powder and shot were being
handed up on deck.

For some time I was left alone, with a sentry only stationed over me.  I
longed to be set free.  I trusted that I was not to remain a prisoner
during the action which it was expected was about to take place.  I
thought that if I could but send a message to the captain, and entreat
that I might be allowed to do my duty at my gun, he would liberate me
while the action lasted.

For a long time, not an officer came near me.  At length, to my great
satisfaction, I saw Dr McCall.  He was on his way to see that all
proper preparations had been made in the space devoted to his service on
the orlop deck for the reception of the wounded.

"Dr McCall," I cried out to him.  "I would not have ventured to have
spoken to you, situated as I now am, under any other circumstances, but
I have a great favour to ask of you, sir."

He stopped and listened.

"I need not say that I trust you do not believe me guilty, and I would
entreat you to go to the captain and to ask him to allow me to return to
my duty during the action.  Tell him only what you think of me, and he
will, I am sure, give me my freedom till the fight is over.  I do not
wish to avoid punishment, but it would be a double one to remain
manacled here while my shipmates are fighting the enemy."

"I'll go," said the doctor, who had quietly listened to all I said.  "I
do not believe you guilty.  There is little time to lose, though."

How anxiously I awaited the result of my petition!  Every moment I
expected to hear the first shot fired, and to find that the action had
begun.  About three minutes passed.  I fancied six times the period had
elapsed, when a master's mate and two men came below.

"The captain gives you leave, Weatherhelm, to return to your duty," said
the officer.  "He hopes that you will show you are worthy of the
favour."

"Indeed I will, sir," I answered as the men knocked the handcuffs off my
wrists.

"We've a tough job in hand, depend on that."

"Thank you, sir, thank you," I exclaimed, as I sprang to my feet and
followed my liberators to the upper deck, where the sentry joined his
comrades.

The moment I reached the deck I looked out for the enemy.  Just out of
gun-shot appeared a seventy-four gun ship and two frigates.  They were
firing away at the Indiamen, which were still within range of their
guns.  The greater number were, however, clustering together, and
standing down to leeward of us, so that those nearer the Frenchmen were
not idle, and were bravely returning shot for shot.

The three ships came on, the Frenchmen little doubting that we should
continue on the same course we were then holding; but our captain was
determined to get the weather-gage, and just as their shot came aboard
us, he tacked and stood to the northward, which brought the two frigates
nearer to us than the line-of-battle ship.  One of them bravely stood on
till she got close under our guns.  The order was given to fire.  Our
shot took the most deadly effect on her, and she completely heeled over
as our whole broadside went crashing in through her decks and sides.  Of
the three hundred men or more, who an instant before stood up full of
life and strength, fall fifty must have been struck down, many never to
rise again, while her spars and rigging went tumbling down in terrible
confusion over her deck.

Again we tacked, and this brought our starboard broadside to bear on the
second frigate.  While we were especially engaged with the first, she
had fired two or three broadsides at us, and as we tacked she managed to
rake us, to our no little damage.  The success attending our first
effort inspirited us to give due effect to the second.  Every shot we
fired seemed to tell.  Besides numbers of men killed and wounded, the
foremast of the frigate came toppling down on her deck almost before the
smoke which hung around us had cleared away.

Seldom had greater execution been effected in so short a time, but our
ship was thoroughly well maimed, and every one of us had been well
trained at our guns.  We knew what we were about, and had strength to do
it.  Leaving the two frigates almost helpless, we stood on to meet our
larger opponent.  With her, to all appearance, we were thoroughly well
matched.  While we had been engaged with the frigates, she had severely
handled some of the Indiamen.  She had now, however, to look after
herself.

Our captain, as soon as we got clear of the frigates, signalled to the
Indiamen to go and attack them.  This he did in the hope that they would
be prevented from repairing damages and be enabled to escape.  The
Indiamen to leeward, in the most spirited way, instantly began to beat
up towards the frigates.

We had not escaped altogether free of harm.  Though no material damage
had been done to the ship, we had already several men killed and wounded
by the shot from our two first antagonists.  As we closed with the
line-of-battle ship she opened fire on us.  We soon found that we had an
opponent which would require all our strength and perseverance to
overcome, but every man stood to his gun, as British seamen always will
stand when well commanded, however great may be the odds against them.

We passed each other on opposite tacks as the line-of-battle ship stood
on towards the frigates.  As our respective guns were brought to bear,
we discharged them into each other's sides.  We all cheered loudly and
heartily as we saw the result of our fire, but the enemy were not idle.
The shot from their broadside came crashing on board us with fearful
effect, while the marines in the tops, poop, and forecastle, kept up a
heavy fire of musketry.  Blocks and spars came tumbling down from aloft;
splinters were flying in every direction; round shot were whizzing
through the ports and across the decks; the smoke from the guns hung
over us in dense masses, obscuring the sky and scarcely enabling us to
see from one side of the ship to the other.

Many a poor fellow sank to rise no more; numbers were sorely wounded;
the heads of some, the arms and legs of others, were shot away; groans
and shrieks arose from those who were struck, while the rest of the crew
uttered shouts of defiance and anger.  All of us were stripped to the
waist, begrimed with smoke, and often sprinkled with our own blood or
that of our comrades; our handkerchiefs bound round our heads, and our
countenances, with the muscles strained to the utmost, exhibiting the
fierce passions which animated our hearts.

Yet, though I have attempted to describe the scene, no words can do
adequate justice to its savage wildness.  I felt, I doubt not, like the
rest.  In a moment all recollection of the past vanished; I thought only
of punishing the foe, of gaining the victory.  I saw others killed and
wounded near me, but it never occurred to me that at any moment their
fate might be mine.  As our foremost guns had been fired, they had been
instantly run in and loaded, and directly the enemy had passed us,
putting down our helm, we luffed up and passed under her stern, raking
her fore and aft, to the very great surprise of the Frenchmen, who
little expected that we should so quickly again be able to deliver our
fire.

The rapidity with which we worked our guns was the chief cause of our
success.  Instead of tacking, as the enemy fancied we were going to do,
we once more filled and ran after him.  A loud shout burst from our
crew.  The Frenchman's fore-topmast came tumbling down on deck.  We
quickly came up after him and gave him a full dose of our larboard
broadside.

The two frigates, seeing how their consort had been handled, and that
several of the Indiamen were crowding sail towards them, now set all the
canvas they could spread in the hope of making their escape, very
indifferent to the fate of their big consort, whom they seemed to think
was powerful enough to take very good care of herself.  She, meantime,
was signalling to them to remain to render her assistance while she
brought us up towards them.

We, by this time, had been pretty severely handled.  We had fully twenty
killed and twice as many wounded, while several of our spars had been
shot away, and we were much cut up in sails and rigging.  Night, too,
was coming on, and it was important to keep our convoy together.  We
could not tell whether other French ships were near at hand, and if so,
not only we, but many of the merchantmen under our charge might have
been captured.  All these things I thought of afterwards, but not then,
depend on it.  Flushed with our success, we fully expected that we were
going to make all the three Frenchmen strike.  The enemy's
line-of-battle ship sailed well, and she quickly led us up in chase, so
that we were exposed to the fire of her consorts as well as to hers.

Under other circumstances, I believe that our captain was the last man
to have left a victory half won; but just as we were once more getting
within range of the enemy's guns, we hove-to, and he signalled to the
convoy to collect together and to continue their course to the
southward.

All on board were eager to see what was to happen.  We thought that we
were going to make sail after the Indiamen, but we had not yet quite
done with the enemy.  We replied by a loud cheer as the ship's head was
once more kept towards them, and then running along their line we
delivered another crashing broadside into them.  We got something in
return, though, and the shot from all the three ships came more thickly
about us than ever.

Not far from the gun at which I was serving I saw Saull Ley.  Once he
had disappeared, and I thought he had been wounded, but when the firing
ceased he had come back to his gun.  He had evidently attempted the same
trick a second time, when we were once more unexpectedly brought into
action, for a couple of men with rope's ends were driving him back to
his station.  He had no help for himself but to remain, though fear had
rendered his services of very little avail.

At last the shot he so much dreaded reached him, and I saw him struck
down bleeding on the deck.  He shrieked out with terror and pain when he
found himself wounded.

"Oh, help me! help me!  I shall die!  I shall die!  What will become of
me?" he cried out.

"Why, you'll have to go where many a better man has gone before you,"
answered the rest of the crew of his gun, who, on account of his arrant
cowardice, had no feeling of compassion for him.  He was, however,
lifted from the deck and carried below, to be placed under the doctor's
care.

The enemy, who had laid to for us, seeming to consider that nothing was
to be gained by them if they continued the fight, but that they were far
more likely to have to haul down their flags or to be sunk, once more
filled and stood away from us to the northward.  It seemed a question
whether we should follow or not, and I am very certain that no one felt
more regret than did our captain at having to allow the enemy to escape
when he had almost secured the victory.

The property, however, entrusted to his care on board the fleet of
Indiamen was of such vast amount that he could not venture to run the
risk of any disaster.  We had gallantly done our duty by beating off so
far superior a force.  The enemy was in fall flight--we might have
overtaken them--but if we had, and captured them all, we should have so
completely weakened our crew that we could not have ventured to continue
our voyage, and should certainly have had to put into port to refit.
Our helm was accordingly put up, and once more we stood to the southward
after our convoy.

Having to leave the enemy was, I believe, a far greater trial and
exertion of moral courage in our captain, than having to follow and
attack them once more would have been.

Some officers I have known would have gone after them, and perhaps have
risked the loss of the richly-laden merchantmen under their charge.  Our
crew, to a man, felt this, and not a complaint or a growl was heard at
our allowing the enemy to escape.

Darkness soon hid them from our sight.  The battle was over, but our
work was not.  All night long we were busy in repairing damages, and
daylight still found us engaged in the same occupation.  The magazine
was once more closed, the blood-stained decks were washed down, and in
the course of the day the ship resumed much of her wonted appearance,
though it was no easy work to get rid of the traces of the severe
conflict in which we had lately been engaged.

At length the hands were piped below, the watch on deck was set, and the
others allowed to turn in and get some of that rest we so much needed.
Then it was that the recollection of my painful position returned to me.
I was a prisoner released for a time, with a severe punishment hanging
over me.  Suppose even the captain were to remit my punishment, in
consequence of the way in which I knew that I had behaved in the fight,
I should still be loaded with disgrace.  I should be looked upon as a
convicted thief.  Such were the feelings with which I went to my
hammock.  I was just about to turn in, when I heard my name called.

"The doctor has sent for you, Weatherhelm," said the messenger, who was
one of the hospital attendants.  "There is a man dying, and he wants to
see you."

I slipped on my clothes and hurried down to the orlop deck.  I found the
purser, with the chaplain, standing near the hammock of a seaman.  The
surgeon came up at the same time.  "I am glad to see you, Weatherhelm,"
he said in his usual kind way.  "That poor wretch exonerates you from
the charge he made against you, and begged to set you that he might ask
your forgiveness."

I drew near the hammock, and in the features of the dying man I
recognised those of Saull Ley.

"Weatherhelm, I'm a great villain, I know I am," he cried out as soon as
he saw me.  "There's a greater, though, and he put me up to it.  I would
have let you be punished to save my own worthless carcase, and, oh! now
I'm suffering greater pain than ever the cat could give me.  I stole all
the things--I've been telling Mr Nips.  Then we persuaded those two
silly lads that it was you, and when they saw me go and put them into
your bag, they had no doubt about it, and so Iffley made them believe
that they had seen you coming out of the store-room.  That's all about
it.  I've been speaking the truth and nothing but the truth.  But you'll
forgive me, won't you, Weatherhelm, and let me die easy?"

"I forgive you with all my heart, and I believe that I should have
forgiven you even had I suffered the punishment awarded me," I answered.
"I would ask you but one thing.  Why do you fancy that Iffley is
desirous to get me falsely accused?"

"Because he hates you, he told me so," he said.  "He has a long score to
wipe off against you, and he vowed if you escaped him this time, he
would find means, before long, to be revenged on you."

"You hear what the man says," observed Dr McCall to the other officers
present.  "This is what I suspected, but had not the means of proving.
We must not allow that ruffian Iffley to obtain his ends; for ruffian he
is, notwithstanding his plausible manners.  It's an old story--
Weatherhelm would rather it were not told--but there is nothing in it to
do him discredit."

"All I desire, sir, is, that I may be freed from the imputation cast on
me, and that, thanks to your consideration in calling witnesses to hear
this poor man's dying confession, will, I am sure, be done."

"Rest assured of that," remarked the chaplain.  "And now I would say a
few words to Saull Ley.  You spoke of dying with a quiet conscience if
you got forgiveness from the man you might have so cruelly injured, had
you not been struck down by the hand of an avenging God; but you have
not only forgiveness to seek from man, but from One who is mighty to
save, who has the power and the will to wash away all your sins, if you
put your entire faith and trust in Him, and repent you heartily of your
former life."

"I cannot, I dare not.  He wouldn't listen to such a wretch as me.
Don't tell me to go to Him.  Find some other means of saving me--isn't
there?  There must be.  Do tell me of it!"

"There is none--none whatever," answered the chaplain.  "Do not refuse
the only means--a sure means--by which even the greatest of sinners may
be saved."

"Oh, go on, sir, go on; tell me all about it," moaned the unhappy man.
"I've often before now thought of giving up my bad ways.  I wish that I
had done it long ago."

The chaplain looked at Dr McCall, to learn whether he might continue
talking to the wounded man.  The doctor signified that he might, but
that it would be better if there were fewer persons present.

"Yes; but he must first sign the evidence he has given," observed the
purser, who was of necessity a good man of business.  "Not only must the
innocent escape punishment, but the guilty must be punished."

He accordingly wrote down the statement made by the wounded seaman, and,
after reading it to him, put a pen into his hand to sign it.  Ley took
the pen and hurriedly wrote his name.  He did not speak.  Suddenly the
pen fell from his hand--a shudder came over his frame--without a groan
he fell back in his hammock.

"What has happened?" asked the chaplain.

"He has gone to his long account," answered Dr McCall.

Alas! how many die like him, talking and thinking about repentance, and
saying that they will put their trust in Christ, but never go to Him,
never repent!

With a heart truly thankful for the dangers I had escaped and the
mercies vouchsafed to me, I returned to my hammock, and slept more
soundly than I had done for many a night.  The next morning, after
breakfast was over, all hands were piped on deck, and the captain sent
for me.  I found him and all the officers assembled on the quarter-deck.

"I have sent for you, Weatherhelm," said the captain, "to tell you that
I am very glad you have escaped what would have been a very cruel and
unjust punishment.  My lads, you know that this man was accused not long
ago of a very great crime.  I rejoice to say that I have proof,
undoubted, that he is entirely innocent.  The man who accused him is
dead, but he left evidence not only that this man is innocent, but that
a most vile attempt has been made to accuse him falsely.  I know the
man; let him beware that he is not caught in the trap he has laid for
another."

While the captain was speaking, I caught sight of Iffley's countenance.
Again I observed on it that expression of hatred and baffled vengeance,
and when he himself was so palpably alluded to, there was mixed with it
no small amount of craven apprehension.  The stern eye of the captain
ranged over the countenances of the crew, it rested a moment on him.  He
quailed before it.

"Pipe down!" cried the captain.

Those of the crew not on duty went below.  Many of the more steady men
came up to me, and congratulated me on my escape, and I found in a short
time that I had numbers of friends on board.  Had it not been for the
thought of my wife, and of my wish to return home, I should have been
happy.

Iffley never came near me.  He seemed to dread me far more than I
dreaded him.  I could not conceive what harm he could possibly do me now
that he was known, and must have been aware that he was watched.  Still
I felt that it would be wiser to be on my guard against him.

When the excitement of the occurrences I have described had passed away,
a reaction took place, and I once more began to feel the misery of my
position.  It seemed like some horrid dream, and sometimes I almost
hoped that I should awake and find that I was at home all the time, and
that the scenes I was going through were but the effects of a dreadful
nightmare.

I frequently found myself reasoning on the subject, but there was a
vividness and reality about everything which made me too justly doubt
the soundness of my hopes.  I had, before I was pressed, more than once
been afflicted with a dream so like the present reality, that, as I say,
I nearly persuaded myself that I was dreaming now.  I had been torn away
from my wife without being able to tell her where I was going.  I sailed
over strange seas without a kit, and without any preparation for the
voyage; cast upon strange lands among savages, and had barely escaped
with my life; I had wandered about among a variety of extraordinary
scenes, and I had found on awaking that scarcely an hour had passed
since I fell asleep.  But day after day went by, and at length I felt
very well assured that I was not dreaming a dream, but living through
the sad reality.  My great desire was to write home, at least to say
where I was, and that I was well; but no opportunity occurred, not a
homeward-bound ship did we pass.

We had been several weeks at sea, when one morning two sail were
reported in sight from the masthead.  They were standing towards us.
The idea was that they were two homeward-bound English merchantmen.  I
accordingly got ready a letter to send home by one of them to my wife.

As they drew near, however, they showed French colours.  It was clear,
we thought, that they had mistaken us for a French squadron.  We
accordingly hoisted French colours, and they ran on close under our
guns.  We then changed our colours for English, and fired a shot across
their bows.  They were evidently taken by surprise, and did not seem to
know what to do.  We fired another shot to quicken their imagination.
On this they hove-to and hauled down their colours.

Directly afterwards a boat came alongside from each or the strangers.
The masters of the ships apparently were in them.  They came on deck,
and inquired what we wanted, and why we fired at them?  They spoke
tolerably good English, though in the French fashion.

"Why, gentlemen, I am sorry for your sakes to say that war has again
broken out between England and France, and that we purpose to make
prizes of your ships."

The poor Frenchmen looked very indignant, and then very unhappy, and
stamped and swore and plucked the hair in handfuls from their heads.  I
thought they would have gone out of their minds, they seemed so
miserable and furious; but they were allowed to rage on, and no one
interfered with them.

At last our captain observed that it was the fortune of war, and a
misfortune to which many brave men were subject; whereon they re-echoed
the sentiment, shrugged their shoulders, and in ten minutes were
laughing and singing as if everything had turned out exactly as they
could have wished it.

The captain ordered two of the midshipmen to go on board the prizes to
carry them home.  How the sound of the order set my heart beating!  I
had my letter ready to send.  Could I but form one of their crews.  I
could scarcely venture to ask the favour.

Several men were chosen for each vessel.  I understood that their
numbers were complete.  Again my heart sank within me.  My hopes had
vanished.  I was standing with my letter in my hand, when I saw Dr
McCall go up to the captain.  Directly afterwards I was called up.

"I understand, my man," said our captain, "that you have strong reasons
for wishing to return home.  You shall go in one of the prizes; get your
bag ready."

How I blessed him for his kind words.  In ten minutes I was on board the
largest prize.  She was ship-rigged, called the _Mouche_, and bound from
the Isle of France to Bordeaux.  Mr Randolph was the name of the
midshipman sent in charge of her.

As I left the side of the _Albion_, I saw Charles Iffley looking out at
one of the ports.  His features bore more strongly than ever the marks
of hatred and anger, and when he saw that I was for a time beyond his
reach, he shook his fist at me with impotent rage.

The mates and some of the French crews were sent on board the _Albion_;
but two or three blacks and several Frenchmen remained on board the
ships to help to navigate them.  Still we were all together but very
short-handed.

The other prize was the _Nautile_.  She was a very handsome ship, and
soon gave evidence that her sailing qualities were superior to those of
the _Mouche_.

I could scarcely believe my senses when I found myself actually on board
a ship homeward-bound.  I might in a few short weeks once more be united
to my wife, instead of being kept away from her as I expected perhaps
for years.  The sudden turn of fortune almost overcame me.

As I had had some difficulty in believing in the reality of my misery,
now I felt it scarcely possible to trust in the reality of my happiness.
Too great for me seemed the joy.  Yet I never anticipated for a moment
that any evil could possibly be in store for me at the end of my voyage.
I brought what I thought would be the reality clearly before my eyes.
I pictured to myself my wife in our quiet little home, looking out on
the ever-animated waters of the Solent, and the fleets of men-of-war and
Indiamen and large merchantmen of all sorts brought up at Spithead.  I
thought of her, anxiously waiting to receive news of me; and then she
rose up to my sight, as I thought she would be when she received notice
that I had once more returned safe in limb and health to my native land.
I had no doubt that I should be able to pay for a substitute, and thus
be free from the risk of being again pressed and sent to sea.  All
before me appeared bright and encouraging.

Mr Randolph, the officer sent in charge of the _Mouche_, although still
a midshipman, had seen a good deal of service, and was a brave young
man.  He had a difficult duty to perform.  The _Mouche_ turned out a
very slow sailer, and was excessively leaky, so that we always had to
keep three or four hands employed at a time at the pumps.  Of course we
made the Frenchmen do this work, at which they grumbled not a little;
but we told them that had their ship not been leaky, they would not have
had to pump, and that they had no reason to complain.  They did not much
like our arguments, for they said that if we had not made prize of their
vessel, they should have been quietly continuing their voyage.

Including the blacks, there were eight Frenchmen on board, while, with
Mr Randolph, we only mustered seven in all.  We had therefore to keep a
very constant look-out over them, lest they should attempt to take the
vessel from us, a trick which more than once had before been played, and
sometimes with success.

I had always thought Mr Randolph a good-natured, merry, skylarking
youngster; but the moment he took charge of the prize, he became a most
diligent, careful officer.  He was always on deck, always on the
look-out, at all hours of the day and night.

I cannot say so much in favour of the officer who had charge of the
_Nautile_.  He was a mate, and consequently superior in rank to Mr
Randolph.  Unfortunately they had had some dispute of long standing, and
Mr Simon, the mate I speak of, never lost an opportunity of showing his
enmity and dislike to his younger brother officer.  Here we had a
practical example of how detrimental to the interest of the service are
any disputes between officers.

To return, however, to the time when we first got on board our
respective prizes, as they lay hove-to close to the _Albion_.  The
signal to us to make sail to the northward was hoisted from her
masthead, and while she stood away after the tea-chests, we shaped a
course for England.

How different must our feelings have been to those of the unfortunate
Frenchmen, who saw the ships sailing away from them, while they had to
go back to be landed they could not tell where, many months elapsing
before they would again return to their families!

The trade winds were at this time blowing across our course,--indeed
almost ahead, so that we made but very slow progress.  At first we kept
close enough together, though there was no interchange of civilities
between the two crews.  When we were within hail, and the _Nautile_ was
going along with her main-topsail yard on the cap, while we had every
sail set, and our yards braced sharp up, her people jeered and laughed
at us, and called us slow coaches, and offered to give us a tow, and
asked what messages they should take to our wives and families in
England.  This they only did when the officers were below.  We replied
that it was no fault of ours, that if they liked to exchange ships, we
could say the same to them, but that we would not, for we could tell
them that it was not pleasant to be taunted for nothing.

At last Mr Simon, standing one day on his taffrail, speaking-trumpet in
hand, hailed and asked Mr Randolph if he could not manage to make his
ship walk along somewhat faster, for at this rate they would never get
to England.

"Greater haste, worst speed, Simon," answered Mr Randolph.  "I've been
doing my best to make the _Mouche_ move faster, but she's a slow fly,
and I cannot do it.  Besides, she is very leaky, and we have had hard
work to keep her afloat."

"Let her sink, then," answered Mr Simon; "I do not see why she should
be delaying us, and giving us a double chance of being retaken by the
enemy."

"While I live and have a man who will stick by me, I'll stick by the
ship put under my charge," replied Mr Randolph; "still I must beg you
to remain by us.  My own people and I will do our best to keep he
afloat.  When we find we can do so no longer, we will claim your
assistance, and get you to take us on board."

"Oh, is that what you calculate on?  We'll see about it," was Mr
Simon's very unsatisfactory reply.

"We'll trust to you not deserting us," sung out Mr Randolph.  "If a
gale were to spring up, we should have hard work to keep her afloat;
remember that."

"What's that you say?  I can't hear," answered Mr Simon, as his ship
shot ahead of ours.

"He heard well enough, but does not intend to heed, I fear," said Mr
Randolph, turning round and walking hurriedly up and down the deck.  "We
must trust to our own energies, and my lads will stick by me, I know
that."

Our cargo consisted of sugar, coffee, and rice, and other valuable but
bulky articles produced in the East, so that we could not move them to
get at the leaks.  A very steady man, Thomas Andrews, a quarter-master,
was acting as first mate, and he having spoken well of me to Mr
Randolph, I was appointed to do duty as second mate, or, I might say
more justly, to take charge of a watch.  Mr Randolph seemed to put a
good deal of confidence in me, and he now summoned Andrews and me, and
consulted us what it might be best to do towards stopping the leaks.

"It is bad enough now," he observed, "but it will be much worse should a
gale spring up and cause the ship to labour heavily."

Andrews and I offered to hunt about to try and find out where the worst
leaks existed.  We accordingly worked our way down into the bows of the
ship in every direction, at no little risk of being suffocated, and at
length we assured ourselves from the appearance of the planking, which
looked as if the bows had been stove in, that she had run against the
butt-end of a piece of timber.  It seemed a miracle how the ship could
have kept afloat with so large a fracture in her bottom.  We reported
our discovery to Mr Randolph, who descended with us to examine the
danger.

"Well, if the worst comes to the worst, we can but get on board the
_Nautile_," he observed.  "In the meantime, we'll do our best to keep
the old ship afloat."

Mr Randolph directed me to take charge of the ship, and to keep an eye
on the proceedings of the Frenchmen, while he and Andrews, with two men,
descended below with all the planks and carpenter's tools to be found,
to try and repair, as far as they could, the damage.  Night was coming
on, so that it was important to get the work done as speedily as
possible.  I meantime turned my eye every now and then at our consort,
for she was evidently getting further ahead than she was accustomed to
do.  I hoped, however, that she would soon shorten sail or lay to for
us, as she had always done at nightfall.  Still she stood on.

Darkness was coming down rapidly on us, and at length I could scarcely
distinguish her.  I did not like to tell Mr Randolph, for of course
this would only interrupt the work in which he was engaged; but I marked
well the point by the compass in which I had last seen the _Nautile_,
that we might know where to look for her in the morning.

Three hours passed away before Mr Randolph and Andrews returned on
deck.  They said that they had been able to patch up the leak far better
than they expected, and that, if the weather held moderate, we might
hope to carry the ship into Plymouth.

The night passed by much as usual.  The French prisoners had hitherto
behaved very well, and seemed so inclined to be peaceable and orderly
that insensibly our vigilance over them relaxed.  It was my morning
watch on deck, I looked out anxiously for the _Nautile_ when daylight
dawned.  Brighter and brighter grew the day, but in vain I rubbed my
eyes.  Not a sign of her was to be seen.

Mr Simon had, then, cruelly and shamefully deserted us.  Complaints,
and more than complaints, both loud and deep, were uttered.  He knew our
condition,--he knew that we were any moment liable to founder,--and
still he had made sail and left us merely to get home a few days sooner,
or to run some little less risk himself of recapture.  It is very seldom
that I have heard of conduct so selfish in the navy, or, indeed, in the
merchant service.

I do not want to make out that seamen are better than other men, but I
maintain that they are certainly not worse, and that in many respects
they are as honest and free from vice as any other class of men.  One
thing was very certain, we could not hope to overtake him.  We must
therefore take care of ourselves as best we could.  The leak had been
partially stopped, and if we continued to enjoy fine weather, we might
get into port very well; and, as Andrews observed, "The prize is not
always to the strong, nor the race to the swift."  Our consort might run
his head into the very dangers he was so anxious to avoid.

We went on very well for two or three days longer, and then I could not
help remarking that there was a considerable change in the manner of the
Frenchmen.  They were far less obedient and civil than they had been,
and when ordered to perform any duty, they went about it in a sulky,
disagreeable manner.

Mr Randolph, I thought, did not observe the change, but I mentioned the
subject to Andrews.

"I'll keep my eye on the fellows," said he.  "They'll find it rather
difficult to catch a weasel asleep."

A few days after this we fell in with a westerly breeze, which increased
rapidly into a strong gale, and away we ran before it much faster than
the old _Mouche_ had yet been made to fly.

Unfortunately the sea got up, and the ship began to labour very much.
The consequence was, as we had expected, the leak we had patched up once
more burst open, and it became necessary to keep all hands, watch and
watch, at the pumps.  Mr Randolph took his spell like the rest of us,
and no one seemed to work with a more hearty goodwill.

I watched with some anxiety to see what the Frenchmen would do.  First
one of them fell down while working at the pumps, and when we picked him
up he said that he was so ill he could not labour any more, but must go
to his hammock.  Then another followed his example, and then a third,
and a fourth, till only one remained besides the three blacks, who went
on working away as merrily as ever.

The fifth Frenchman seemed suddenly to get into very good humour, and to
exert himself as much as any of us.  Had the gale continued, I believe
that we should all of us really have been knocked up, but happily we
very quickly ran out of it, and once more we had smooth water and a fair
breeze.

While the sea was still running high, the only Frenchman who remained on
deck, as he was coming aft, slipped and fell.  Two of the blacks only
were near him.  They picked him up, while he cried out with pain,
asserting that he had either broken his arm or put it out of joint.  He
insisted on being carried to his hammock, and when Mr Randolph offered
to try and doctor him, he shrieked out and declared that he could not
bear the pain of being touched.  At last we were obliged to let him
alone, and then we had all our five prisoners laid up and apparently
useless.

It thus became more important than ever to try once more to stop the
leak.  Mr Randolph and Andrews accordingly set about it as they had
done the first time, taking with them two hands.  This left only two
others, besides me, on deck, and the three blacks.  Negroes have, I have
always fancied, very little command over their countenances, and if a
person is accustomed to watch them, he will always be able to discover,
almost as easily as he would among a party of children, whether there is
anything in the wind.  Now, as I saw the negroes moving about the decks,
I felt very sure from the roll of their eyes and the way in which every
now and then they exhibited their teeth, that they had a grand secret
among them.  I stepped aft, and telling the man at the helm to be on his
guard, I called Sam Jones, the only other man left on deck, and sent him
down into the cabin to collect all the arms he could find, to load the
pistols and muskets, and to place them just inside the companion-hatch,
so that I could get at them in a moment.

"Now," said I to Jones, "just go forward as if you were thinking of
nothing particular, and then slip quietly down below and tell Mr
Randolph that I think there's something wrong, that he had better be on
his guard and return on deck as quickly as possible.  Do you jump up
again without a moment's delay.  Get a handspike or anything you can lay
hold of, and keep guard over the fore-hatchway, and see that neither the
blacks nor any of the Frenchmen go down there."

"But the Frenchmen, they can't do any harm; they are all sick in bed,"
observed Jones.

"Don't be too certain of their sickness," I observed.  "They may be
sick, but it is just possible that they are shamming, and it is well to
be on the safe side."

Without further delay, Jones went forward to do as I directed him.  I
meanwhile stood by the companion-hatch, ready to hand a musket up to
Thompson, the man at the helm, should occasion arise to require it.  The
Frenchmen, I ought to have said, all slept together in a part of the
hold which was planked off for their accommodation.  I kept watching the
blacks narrowly.  I saw their eyes turned every now and then towards the
main hatchway.  I was convinced that no time was to be lost if bloodshed
was to be prevented.

"A heavy squall coming on," I shouted out.  "Hands aloft and furl
topsails!  Here, Sambo, Julius, Quasha, aloft with you quickly and furl
the main-topsail."  They pretended not to hear me, but once more looked
down the hatchway.  "Do you hear?  Up with you, you scoundrels!"  I
shouted out at the top of my voice, loud enough, I thought, at all
events, for Jones to hear me.  At that moment the heads of three
Frenchmen appeared above the combing of the main hatchway.



CHAPTER THIRTEEN.

OVERPOWER MUTINEERS--A SUSPICIOUS SAIL--CHASED--CAPTURED BY FRENCH
PRIVATEER--CARRIED INTO SAINT MALO--PLAN FOR ESCAPING--CAROUSE OF
PRIVATEER'S CREW--LA MOTTE'S DANGEROUS EXPEDITION--ESCAPE FROM HARBOUR.

The moment I saw the heads of the Frenchmen, I handed out a musket from
the companion-hatch, and gave it to Thompson, while I took one myself
and levelled it at them.  "Ah, my friends, understand that I will fire
at the first man of you who steps on deck!"  I sang out.  "Return to
your beds, if you are sick, but on deck you must not venture."

Thompson imitated my example, and we both stood with our muskets
levelled and ready to put our threats into execution.  At first the
Frenchmen popped down again very quickly, but gaining courage, they all
five put their heads up again at the same moment.

Looking round and seeing only Thompson and me on deck, they sprang up as
if they were about to make a desperate rush towards us, thinking of
course that they could easily overcome two men.

Telling Thompson to aim at the blacks in the rigging to keep them there,
I covered the foremost Frenchman with my musket.  I could have killed
him on the spot, but I was most unwilling to shed blood except in the
very last necessity.  Once more I sang out.  He continued advancing.

"I have given you ample warning!"  I cried out.  My finger was on the
trigger.

At that moment Mr Randolph, followed by Andrews and the other men,
sprang on deck, and seeing the state of affairs, each of them grasping a
handspike, they ran towards the Frenchmen.

The latter soon saw that their opportunity was lost.  The negroes, for
the sake of being more out of the way, as they fancied, of Thompson's
musket, had climbed as high as they could up the rigging, so that he was
able to hold another Frenchman in check.  The Frenchman nearest to me,
seeing my resolute bearing, and having no fancy for throwing his life
away even for the sake of his companions, very wisely backed against
them, and they seeing Mr Randolph and his party advancing from forward,
to avoid getting their heads broken, leaped precipitately down the
hatchway, whence they had but just before emerged.

Leaving Thompson to keep the blacks aloft with his musket, I sprang to
the hatchway and sang out, "We do not want to do you any harm, but if
you attempt any trick, for our own sakes we must shoot every one of
you!"  I said this because I saw one of them striking away over a
tinder-box, with the intention, I had little doubt, of trying to set the
ship on fire.

Mr Randolph highly applauded me for what I had done.  On looking below
and seeing what the Frenchmen were about, he and Andrews, with Jones and
another man, leaped down among them, and seizing the first they could
lay hands on, lifted him up crop and heels to me.  The move so much
astonished his companions, that they did not come to his assistance; and
another being treated in the same way, we had their forces divided, and
very speedily brought them to terms.  We first lashed the hands of the
two we had on deck behind them, and made them sit down with their backs
against the bulwarks on the starboard side, and then we got up the other
three one by one, and placed them, bound in the same way, on the
opposite side.  Next we called down the blacks, and arranged them round
the mainmast.

"Now, my friends, by all the laws of war you ought to be shot!" said Mr
Randolph.  "We treated you very kindly; we gave you of the best of
everything on board, and in return you have attempted to knock us on the
head, and to take the ship from us.  However, it was natural that you
should wish to recover what was once your own, so that if you will
promise, on the honour of Frenchmen, not to make another attempt of the
sort, we will allow you your freedom during the day-time, on certain
conditions.  Three of you must remain forward, and never come abaft the
foremast unless I call you; and two must never go before the
mizzen-mast; at night we must shut you all up.  I warn you, also, that
as surely as any one of you attempts to infringe these regulations, I
will shoot him.  We are very good friends; I do not bear you the
slightest enmity, but our own safety demands this."

Our prisoners shrugged their shoulders.  "_C'est la fortune de la
guerre_," was the only answer they at first made.  They most of them
understood pretty clearly what Mr Randolph had said; besides, one, who
understood English the best, interpreted to the rest.

Mr Randolph waited a little time.  "Do you agree to my terms?" he
asked.

"_Oui, monsieur_; _oui, oui_," was answered by all of them
simultaneously.

"If I grant you your freedom at once, will you give me your honour to
act as I desire?" asked Mr Randolph.  "I do not wish you to do so while
you sit there bound like slaves."

The idea seemed to take their fancy amazingly, and as soon as we had
unlashed their arms, by Mr Randolph's orders, they got up, and all
together, putting their hands on their breasts, swore solemnly not again
to attempt to retake the ship.  It is impossible to describe their
manner, or the air with which they uttered the words.

They did not seem, however, much to like being kept separate from each
other, but Mr Randolph very wisely would not abate in any way the
regulations he had formed.  He allowed one of them at a time to go into
the caboose to cook, for they did not at all approve of our style of
cooking, and one of them, who spoke English, remarked that it was only
fit for bears and wolves.  We laughed, and observed, in return, that
people have different tastes, and that we had no fancy for the kickshaws
and trifles which satisfied them.  (_Quelque chose_ and _troufles_,
perhaps I ought to have written.)

When a Frenchman is asked what he will have for dinner, he begins by
saying _quelque chose au troufles_, and then goes on to enumerate all
sorts of things, just as an Englishman replies, a mutton-chop or
beefsteak, and finally orders turtle-soup, salmon, and a venison pasty;
not that I can own to having ever been guilty of such a proceeding.

After we had settled with the Frenchmen, we allowed the blacks to come
down, and ordering them into the waist, told them to keep there on pain
of being shot, and on no account to communicate with any one else.
They, grinning, pointed to our muskets, and assured us that while we
kept those in our hands they would most implicitly obey us.

These matters being arranged, we each of us stuck a brace of pistols in
our belts, and hung cutlasses to our sides, while a musket was placed so
that the man at the wheel could get hold of it in a moment.  The rest of
the arms and powder were locked up in the after-cabin.

These precautions were, I am convinced, not greater than were necessary.
When the Frenchmen saw that we had taken them, and that we were wide
awake, they did not dream of breaking their word; but had we exhibited
any carelessness, or any undue confidence in them, the honour they had
pledged would not, I suspect, have resisted the temptation which they
would have felt again to try and take the ship from us.

As it was, all went on very quietly.  We soon got once more into the way
of joking and talking with the Frenchmen, and apparently were on as good
terms as ever, but Mr Randolph every now and then gave us a hint to be
on our guard.

"Don't trust them, my men," said he.  "The more they laugh, and chatter,
and smile, the more they are inclined for mischief, depend on that."

He was right, and I think, considering his youth, that he deserved great
credit for his discretion and judgment; for I believe that many an older
man might have been deceived by the plausibility of their manners and
their apparent cordiality.

Fortunately we had very fine weather, and a fair wind, and in about a
week after the occurrence I have described we struck soundings in the
chops of the Channel.  Our difficulties and dangers, however, were not
over; we had to keep a stricter watch than ever on our prisoners, for
they could tell by the colour of the water that we were near home, and
that if they did not at once regain their liberty they must give up all
hopes of so doing.  We had likewise to keep a constant look-out for
strange sails.  The enemy's privateers abounded, we knew, in the mouth
of the Channel, though their men-of-war were not so fond at the time of
showing themselves in those latitudes where they were very likely to be
picked up by British cruisers.

With the few hands we had on board, we could scarcely hope to make a
successful resistance against any armed vessel; still, when Mr Randolph
asked us if we would stick by him should we fall in with an enemy, we
promised to do our best.

"Never fear, then," said he; "though we might not be able to beat them
off, we'll try and frighten them away.  As we cannot expect the
Frenchmen to help us, we'll make their clothes serve some purpose at all
events."

We had discovered some chests of clothes in the ship, and most of the
prisoners had more than one suit; these we instantly set to work to fill
with straw, and in a short time we had manufactured a crew of forty men
at least.  We rigged out some as officers, and put spy-glasses in their
hands, and, knocking out the flints of some of the muskets, we put them
into the hands of others, and stuck them about the ship.  We then loaded
all the guns and ran them out, and got ready also all the remainder of
the firearms.

"Had the _Nautile_ stuck by us we might have put a very good face on the
matter, whatever craft we might have fallen in with, if she had done as
we have," Mr Randolph observed to me as I stood at the helm.

"It is a pity, sir; but I hope we may still run the gauntlet of our
enemies and get safe into port," I answered; and earnestly, indeed, did
I pray that such might be our lot.

As I drew nearer home, still more intense had become my anxiety to
ascertain the fate of my beloved wife.  I will not here dwell on the
subject.  Sometimes the thought of all she must have suffered on my
account and on her own became almost insupportable.  I felt that it was
wiser not to dwell on it, and yet I could not cast it from me.  My only,
my great resource was prayer--great and supporting it was.  Let any one,
placed as I was, try it, and they will find that I in no way overrate
it.  Whenever I felt the miserable depressing feeling coming on, I fled
instantly to that great source of comfort, of all true happiness, and it
never failed me.

However, as I say, I will not dwell on that subject now.  I may be
inclined thus to write, but all who read may not be in a proper frame of
mind to reflect on the matter, and thus I may perchance do more harm
than good.

As I was saying, we had been keeping a bright look-out, even before we
struck soundings, both day and night.  If the wind should hold fair, in
two or three days we might hope to be in Plymouth Sound.

All hands were talking of home, of those they expected to meet, and of
the delights of a run on shore.  The night was very fine, but towards
morning a thin mist settled down over the sea, and though it did not
obscure the bright stars which glittered overhead, it prevented us from
seeing to any great distance around.  However, we every now and then
hove the lead, and we were convinced that we were in the fairway up
Channel.

At length, when daylight slowly broke, the mist assumed a white, silvery
appearance, the smooth water close alongside could clearly be perceived,
and the mist was seen as it were skirmishing round us, broken away, it
seemed, by our coming against it, and then it grew thicker and thicker,
till the eye could no longer penetrate through it.  We might have been,
for what we could tell, in the centre of an enemy's fleet.  I made the
remark to Mr Randolph.

"Should such be the case, the mist will prove our best friend," he
answered.  "I only wish that it may continue till we get abreast of
Plymouth; it may help us to run the gauntlet of our enemies."

We glided steadily and swiftly on for about an hour or more after this,
with everything set alow and aloft, and studden sails rigged out on
either side, there being a light air from the westward.

Suddenly, I felt a puff of wind from the northward just fan my left
cheek as I stood at the helm.  Again it came, and I had to keep the ship
away to prevent her being taken aback.  We, however, got a pull at the
lee braces, and again kept her on her course without taking in the
studden sails; again the wind came from the nor'ard of west, and most
reluctantly we had to take in all our studden sails, one after the
other, and to brace the yards up on the larboard tack.  Scarcely had we
done so when the breeze increased still more.

I was looking to leeward trying to pierce the mist, when, as if by
magic, a wide rent was made in it.  Upward it lifted, rolling away
rapidly on either side, and revealing in the space thus made clear, a
long, low craft floating in the water, without a stitch of canvas set on
her short stumps of masts.  I pointed her out to Mr Randolph.

"I am afraid that she is mischievous, sir," said I.  "There's a wicked
look about her which does not at all please me.  She is more like a
French privateer than any other craft I know of."

"She is not a big one, at all events," he answered.  "We ought to be
able to tackle her, and our dummies may do us good service by keeping
her at a respectful distance.  However, she may be a Jersey or a
Guernsey-man, they have many lugger privateers.  What do you think,
Andrews?"

"She may be a Jersey-man, but, to my mind, that craft was built and
fitted out in France, whoever now owns her," answered Andrews.
"Weatherhelm ought to know, he has served aboard some of them."

"I am afraid she is French, sir," said I, after I had taken a steady
look at her.  "And whatever she is, there is up sail and after us.  If
the fellow has a quickish pair of heels, he'll very soon cut us off."

While I was speaking, the square-headed sails of the lugger were run up
on her short, stumpy masts.  Above them quickly appeared their topsails,
almost as big as the lower sails, and away she came bowling after us, at
a rate which gave us not the slightest hope of escape, if she should
prove an enemy, unless some bigger friend might appear to assist us.

Now we more than ever felt the desertion of the _Nautile_.  Had she
remained with us, we two together might have been able to give a very
good account of so small an enemy,--indeed, we should probably not have
been attacked.  Our only resource was, however, to put as bold a face on
the matter as we could.  The Frenchmen had not yet come on deck, so Mr
Randolph ordered them to be kept down below that they might not make any
signs to the enemy.  He took the helm, and ordered us to stand to our
guns.  Each of us had a musket by our sides, and he ordered us first to
let fly a volley, and then, without a moment's delay, to fire a
broadside.

We hoped thus to prevent the enemy from discovering the smallness of our
numbers, and we trusted that we might by chance knock away some of his
spars and prevent him from following us.  I could not help admiring the
gallant way in which the little craft dashed on towards us.  It looked
as if we might have run over her, and sent her to the bottom without the
slightest difficulty.

"Be ready, my men," shouted Mr Randolph, as she got within musket-shot
of us.  Leaving the helm, he sprang on the taffrail, and, cap in hand,
waved the lugger off, pointing to his guns as if he was about to fire.

We had meantime hoisted the English ensign to our peak.  The lugger paid
not the slightest heed to his signals, but stood on edging up to us.
Again he waved.  A musket-ball came whizzing by and very nearly knocked
him over.  Had it been sent from a rifle his moments would have been
numbered.  I never saw a cooler or braver young man.

"Give it them, then, my lads, and with a will," he shouted.  "They
think, perhaps, we are not in earnest."

We each of us took steady aim, and, as the men were exposed on the
decks, we believed that we had knocked several of them over.  Some of us
had a couple of muskets, and as we fired one after the other as rapidly
as we could, we hoped that we had given the enemy a respectful idea of
our numbers.  Mr Randolph had three muskets, and as soon as he had
fired them he began to reload, tending the wheel at the same time.

"Now give them a taste of the big guns!" he shouted out.  With a shout
we let fly our whole broadside, but the way in which of necessity we ran
the guns in again to reload might have betrayed us.

We had hoped that after the hot reception we had given the lugger she
would have sheered off, but not a bit of it.  On she came as boldly as
at first, and before we had time to run one of our guns out again she
had come alongside, and hove her grappling-irons aboard us.

To hope to defend ourselves was useless, so retreating aft we rallied
round Mr Randolph, while we allowed the enemy, who swarmed in numbers
up the side, to expend their rage on our dummies.  They seemed highly
amused at our trick, for loud shouts of laughter broke from them when
they discovered the enemy to whom they had been opposed.  As we made no
further resistance, they did not attempt to injure us.  Their officer
came aft and put out his hand to Mr Randolph.

"You are a brave young man," said he, in very fair English.  "You have
defended your ship nobly, and had I not before perfectly known the
number of people you had on board, and your means of defence, you would
have deceived me, and I should have sheered off."

Mr Randolph took the hand offered to him, and thanking the captain of
the French privateer (for such he was) for the good opinion he
entertained of him, inquired how he came to know anything about us.

"I took your consort, the _Nautile_, three days ago, and have ever since
been on the look-out for you," was the answer.  "They told me on board
when to expect you, and how many you were in crew.  When, therefore, I
saw the figures you had dressed up, I watched them narrowly, and seeing
that they did not move, suspected a trick.  But what have you done with
my countrymen?  You have several as prisoners."

Mr Randolph assured him that they were safe, and that we had shut them
up that they might be out of harm's way, and might not interfere with
the defence of the ship.

Altogether, the French captain was so delighted with his success in
capturing us and the rich prizes he had obtained (for we found that he
had already taken several other vessels besides the _Nautile_), that he
promised we might depend upon being treated with every courtesy.  He
then went below and released the other Frenchmen, who were so overjoyed
at their escape from the English prison in which they expected in a few
days to be lodged, that they rushed into the arms of their countrymen,
and such a scene of hugging, and kissing, and shouting, and jabbering I
never before beheld.  We could not tell what they might say of us, and
we were afraid that the tide which had been in our favour might turn,
but they apparently gave a fair report of the way we had treated them,
and our captors were as friendly as before.

No longer time than was necessary was lost.  We Englishmen were
transferred to the lugger, and a few more Frenchmen were sent on board
the ship, and together we stood away before the wind for Saint Malo, on
the French coast.

I need not say that, independently of having to go to a French prison,
how wretched I was at finding in a moment all the hopes I had
entertained of once more returning home completely blasted.  I could
have sat down and wept bitterly, but tears would not come to my eyes.  I
thought my heart would indeed break.

Mr Randolph had been invited into the captain's cabin, and was treated
with every courtesy.  Some of the men had gone forward, but I felt no
inclination to leave the deck.  I sat down on a gun-carriage, turning my
eyes in the direction of the shore on which I had hoped so soon to land,
and which now I might not visit for many a day.  I cannot picture my
wretchedness.  I only hope that none of my readers may feel the same.  I
rested my head upon my hands in a vain endeavour to drive away thought.
It was truly a dark moment of my existence.  I felt even as if I could
not pray.  I had sat thus for some time, when I felt a hand pressed on
my shoulder.

"Willand, is it you--you indeed, lad?" said a voice, in a kindly tone
which I felt I ought to know.

I looked up.  Before me stood a fine, sailor-like looking fellow.  I
scanned his countenance narrowly, and then springing to my feet put out
my hand.  "La Motte, my dear fellow, it is you yourself, I am sure of
it!"  I exclaimed.  "Where did you come from?  How did you find yourself
on board here?"

"I have been to, and come from, all parts of the world since we parted,
and I'll tell you all about that another time," he answered.  "And as to
being on board here, I am a prisoner like yourself.  The craft I
belonged to, of which I was first mate, was captured two days ago and
sent into Saint Malo.  I have no greater reason to be happy than you
have.  However, the Frenchmen treat us very civilly on board, and that
is a satisfaction; we might have been much worse off."

We might indeed, for very often the French privateers treated their
prisoners with great cruelty, robbing them of their money and clothes,
and half starving them.  They were then sent on shore, and thrust into
some wretched, dirty prison, where they were allowed to linger out their
days till the end of the war.  Such we had expected to be our fate.

The Frenchmen believed that the English did not treat their prisoners
any better.  They had a story written by one of their countrymen, a
French officer, who had broken his parole and got back to France, to the
effect that French prisoners were fed in England on horse-flesh and
beans.  He declared that on one occasion the inspecting officer of
prisons rode into a court-yard of a prison, where he left his horse, and
that as soon as he had disappeared, the famished prisoners set upon it,
and tearing the horse to pieces, devoured it and the saddle also; and
that when the officer got back, he found only the stirrup-iron and the
bit in the horse's mouth.

Whatever we may think of the digestibility of the morsels carried off by
the hungry prisoners, the tale seems to have been eagerly swallowed by
the countrymen of the narrator.

La Motte endeavoured to cheer me up, by talking of old times and of our
adventures in the Mediterranean and elsewhere,--indeed, I felt his
presence a very great comfort.  He was of a most cheerful, happy
disposition, and allowed nothing to put him out.

"I was on my way home from the West Indies in a fine brig, the _Ann_,
and I had a little venture on board of my own, with which I hoped to
make a good addition to my fortune, and perhaps, before long, to settle
down and marry.  Well, it's all gone; but what's the use of sighing?
What has happened to me has happened to a thousand other better men much
less able to bear it.  So I say to myself, `Better luck next time.'  I
never can abide those people who sigh, and moan, and groan if any mishap
overtakes them, as if they were the only unfortunate people in the
world.  To everybody they meet they tell their woes, as if nothing else
was of so much consequence.  You are not one of those, Weatherhelm, I
know, nor am I.  Everything comes right in the mill at last, if we will
but wait patiently till the mill turns round."

La Motte rattled on in this way till he talked me into better spirits
again.  At all events, he prevented me from dwelling on my misfortunes.

"Now, in reality, we ought to consider ourselves _very_ fortunate," he
continued.  "We might have been captured by a set of ruffianly fellows,
who would have robbed us and ill-treated us in every way.  Instead of
that, the crew are the best sort of privateer's-men I ever fell in with.
The captain and first mate are very good, kind-hearted men.  They have
both of them been made prisoners themselves, and have spent a year or
more in England.  They tell me that they lore the English, for that they
were treated with the greatest kindness all the time they were in
England, and that they wish to repay that kindness, though I must say
they take an odd way to show their lore by fitting out a vessel to go
and rob them on the high seas; but I suppose that is their profession,
and they cannot help it."

While La Motte was speaking, a fine-looking man came up, and, taking him
by the arm, addressed him as his _bon ami_, and told him that dinner was
ready.

La Motte thanked him, and then told him that I was an old shipmate, and
hoped that he would extend the same kindness to me that he had done to
him.

My new friend was, I found, the mate of the privateer.  He said
certainly, and begged that I would at once come down and join them at
dinner.  At first I was inclined to refuse, as I thought Mr Randolph
would consider me presuming if I was to go and sit down at table with
him; but La Motte, finding that he was a sensible, good-natured young
officer, undertook to explain matters to him.

We found Mr Randolph and the captain already seated at the table.  La
Motte, in a few words, explained that I was an old friend and shipmate
of his, and that if I was not, I ought to be an officer, and hoped that
he would not be offended.

Mr Randolph laughed, and said certainly not, and I soon felt at my
ease.

The Frenchmen were in high glee at the number of prizes they had taken,
and, as they had a fair wind, they folly expected in a couple of days,
at furthest, to be safe within the harbour of Saint Malo.  I knew from
sad experience that there is many a slip between the cup and the lip,
and I hoped that we might yet, before we reached the looked-for harbour,
fall in with a man-of-war or a bigger privateer and be recaptured; of
course I did not give expression to my wishes, but in such a chance my
only hope rested of reaching home.

After dinner I went on deck again, and continued pacing up and down,
anxiously scanning the horizon in the hope of discovering some sail
coming in pursuit of us.  Though I was aware that my presence on deck
could not in any way bring about this result, still I could not tear
myself away again till night closed down upon us.

La Motte then insisted on my coming below.  "I told the Frenchmen
something of your story," said he; "if I had not done so, they would
have thought you discourteous, and your conduct somewhat strange.
However, they now enter into your feelings and pity you heartily."

"I am indeed obliged to you, La Motte," said I.  "But somehow or other I
do not like to have myself talked about.  My feelings appear to me to be
too sacred to be mentioned except to a friend."

"That is very natural and right," he answered.  "But, believe me,
Weatherhelm, I did what was for the best, and I am certain you will
benefit by it."

At last I turned in for the night, and, wearied out with anxiety, fell
asleep.  I was conscious that I was on board the privateer, but I
dreamed that we were chased and overtaken by a ship of war, and that
just as her boat was boarding us we blew up.  Then I found myself, with
many of my companions, floating about in the water, without any ship in
sight or means of escape.

At length I awoke, and the recollection of all that had occurred came
pressing down on my heart like a heavy weight.  Feeling that the cool,
fresh air might revive me, I dressed and went on deck.  It was bitterly
cold, with a sharp northerly breeze blowing, the sky was of one uniform
grey, while the water, which rose and fell without breaking, was of a
dull leaden hue.

No prospect could have been more cheerless and uninviting.  The
_Mouche_, under all sail, was bowling on ahead, (I suspected that the
French crew would have no little difficulty in keeping her afloat) while
the lugger was acting the part of a whipper-in.  I cast my eyes round
the horizon.  Away to the eastward they encountered a sail just rising
above the water.  I watched her for some time, till I was convinced that
she was a large ship, and standing towards us.

At length she attracted the attention of the second mate, who was the
officer of the watch.  He began to eye her somewhat anxiously, and in a
short time he sent down and called up the first mate.  They looked at
their own sails, and then at the stranger, and then at the _Mouche_, as
if consulting what was to be done, and then finally called up the
captain.  They evidently could not at all satisfy themselves as to the
character of the approaching ship.

I anxiously scanned their countenances; as I observed them falling, so
my own hopes rose, that the sail in sight might prove an English ship of
war.  I tried in vain to conceal my own anxiety by walking up and down
the deck, as I had done the day before.

The French officers seemed at length to have decided on some plan which
satisfied them.  The _Mouche_ had already made all the sail she could
carry; she had royals set and studden sails out on either side, while
the lugger followed, under her ordinary canvas, in her wake.  While I
was walking up and down, the first mate joined me.

"Ah, my friend!" said he, in very good English, "you hope the vessel in
sight is a countryman.  That is very natural.  We hope that if she is,
we shall escape her.  We intend to do our best to get away, be assured
of that.  If, however, we are taken, you will remember that all
Frenchmen are not savages, and that we were kind to you when you were
our prisoners."

"Indeed we all shall," I replied.  "I hope, indeed, whenever Frenchmen
fall into the hands of the English, that my countrymen will always treat
them with kindness and consideration."

"That is good; that is the right thing," said the mate.  "If go to war
we must, we need not make it more barbarous than it must be of
necessity."

I was surprised to find these expressions proceeding from the mouth of a
privateer's man.  However, I believe that there were not many people of
his class like him.  I certainly hoped that I might have an opportunity
of showing him that I meant what I said, and that we should very soon
again change our relative positions.

Mr Randolph, and La Motte, and the rest of the English prisoners, soon
afterwards came on deck, and eagerly watched with me the progress of the
stranger.  There seemed to us very little doubt that she would cut us
off before we could possibly reach Saint Malo.

As the day drew on, however, the weather gave signs of changing.  The
wind, which had been blowing steadily from the northward, chopped round
to the north-west, and then to the westward, growing stronger and
stronger, and very quickly kicking up an ugly sea, while thick rain
began to fall, increasing every instant in density.

We Englishmen looked at each other, and as the rain fell thicker, so did
our countenances fall lower and lower.  The change of wind placed the
lugger and her prize to windward, and the stranger far away to leeward,
the thick rain almost shutting her out from sight.

The Frenchmen rubbed their hands, and blessed the wind and the rain, and
commiserated us on our prospects of being carried to France.  All we
could hope was, that it would clear up again before the evening, and
that the wind would shift back into its old quarter.

We waited in vain for the change.  Hour after hour passed by.  The wind
blew great guns and small arms, and the rain came down in dense masses,
which completely shut out the stranger from our sight.  I thought that
probably the Frenchmen would alter their course, but we stood steadily
on, only keeping up a little to be well to windward of our port, in case
the wind should veer round more to the north-west.  Evening at length
came.  It grew darker and darker; and with heavy hearts we prisoners had
to abandon all hopes of rescue.

The night passed away, while it was blowing and raining all the time
till near the morning.  As soon as it was daylight I hurried on deck.
The horizon was clear.  With what eagerness I looked around; not a sail
was in sight!  The English ship, if such she was, finding herself so far
to leeward, had probably abandoned all hope of overtaking us.

At length the coast of France hove in sight.  We looked at it as likely
to prove our home for many a weary day.  It was past noon when we
anchored in the harbour of Saint Malo, and I could not be surprised at
the exultation of the Frenchmen, when they found themselves surrounded
by no less than five prizes, which they had taken in the course of two
or three weeks.

Their friends in numbers came off to welcome them, and brought all sorts
of wines and spirits, and provisions from the shore, far more indeed
than the crew could by possibility consume.  The wine and spirits,
however, seemed to be most welcome, and the crew, having an abundance of
wherewithal to carouse, sat down to make themselves happy.  Never have I
heard a set of human beings jabber away at the rate they did; they
laughed, and sang, and pledged each other without cessation.

La Motte, who was listening to them, told me that they were boasting of
all the deeds they had done, or would do, or had heard of being done,
till they were satisfied that their nation was not only the greatest,
the richest, the wisest, the most happy in the world, but that none ever
had or would come up to her.

Just before dark, the captain took Mr Randolph on shore; but he
observed that he could not take us there, and that we must wait on board
till the following morning.

The first mate came up to La Motte and me, and observed that he should
have to go on shore likewise.  "If you go, remember that you will have
to be shut up in a prison, and that you will not find very pleasant," he
remarked significantly.  He looked aft as he spoke, when we observed
hanging on at the stern one of the boats belonging to the prize.  "Wise
men know how to take a hint.  All I can say is, that I feel most kindly
disposed towards you; and if you land in France, I will do my best to
ameliorate your condition, but that will be but little, remember."

We thanked him cordially for his kindness, and then he called the only
two sober men of the crew, and ordered them to pull him on shore in
another boat.  Of course there was not the slightest doubt as to what he
meant.  The means of escape were offered us.  The only question
remaining was how to make use of them.  The boat hanging on astern was
about 25 feet long.  I had often examined her on board the _Mouche_.
She was in good condition, and not a bad sea-boat, I judged from her
appearance.  Her sails and oars were in her, and I had little doubt that
our good friend the mate had had them put into her on purpose to aid us.
Thus far, all was well, but we had many difficulties still to contend
with.  Our next care was to ascertain who would accompany us in our
adventure.

There were altogether fifteen prisoners remaining on board besides
ourselves.  I knew that I could depend on Andrews, and so I could on
Jones.  They both eagerly jumped at our proposal, and expressed
themselves ready to run all risks for the sake of reaching England.
Their only regret was, that Mr Randolph was not on board to accompany
us.  We concluded that the captain had been compelled to take him on
shore, as English officers were always looked on as great prizes by the
French, and he might have got into trouble had he escaped.

We went quietly round among all the prisoners, and invited them one by
one to join us, with the exception of three or four, who had accepted
the invitations of the Frenchmen to drink with them, and had now as
little sense remaining in their heads as their hosts.

When La Motte and I went up to them to see what could be done, they
could only exclaim, holding up their glasses, "Come here, old fellows!
The Frenchmen's liquor is good, and they are jolly cocks, and we never
wish for better companions.  Come now, take a glass, you'll not taste
finer anywhere."

When we declined joining them, they jeered and laughed at us, and called
us milksops, so that we soon saw that they would in all probability
betray us if we attempted to induce them to join us.

Two men, who were sober, declined, saying that they would rather go to a
French prison than trust themselves in a small open boat in mid-winter
in the Channel.  As they were somewhat sickly, perhaps they were right
in their decision.  They promised, however, to help us as far as they
were able, and vowed that they would rather die than betray us.

The carouse of the Frenchmen continued.  First, they made long speeches
about liberty, equality, and fraternity, and then they sang till they
were hoarse, and then they began hugging each other and shrieking, and
lastly, they got up and danced and skipped and frisked about, till
tripping up their heels they toppled down on deck, and lay sprawling
about unable to move.  Now and then one tried to rise, but all he could
do was to reach a bottle, and to pour a little more liquor down his
throat, which soon finished him off completely, and he, like the rest,
lay utterly senseless and inanimate.

It was now night, and time to make our preparations.  The
privateer's-men's friends had brought on board a large supply of
provisions.  These we set to work to collect, and we calculated that we
should have enough to last us for several days.  But without water we
could not venture to sea.  There was none on deck, so we had to grope
about below to find it.  Great indeed was our satisfaction, therefore,
when we suddenly came upon two breakers, each holding nine or ten
gallons, and full of water.  We soon had them up on deck, and rolled
them to the side, ready to be lowered into the boat.  We now hauled her
up alongside, and got everything we had collected stowed away in her.

"But we must not go without a compass," said La Motte, "I remember
seeing one in the captain's cabin.  I am sure that he would let us have
it.  Perhaps he has left it out on purpose."

Such we had every reason to believe was the case, for in a minute La
Motte returned bringing a well-fitted boat compass, which was just
suited for our purpose.  We also got hold of a lantern and a quantity of
candles, and we threw as many greatcoats and blankets into the boat as
we could collect, for it was bitterly cold, and we had reason to dread
its effects more than anything else.

We should have started at once, but La Motte told us that he had
overheard some of the Frenchmen talking of a guard-boat which came round
the harbour once, at all events, during the night, somewhere about ten
o'clock, and that it would be wiser in us to wait till she had gone by.
Accordingly we veered our boat astern, and agreed to wait till then.

We all went below and lay down, hoping to get a little sleep and rest
before it was time to start.  La Motte volunteered to remain on deck
till the guard-boat came round, and as he spoke French like a Frenchman,
he said that he should lead the officers to suppose that all the
prisoners had gone on shore, and that might prevent them from keeping
any strict watch on the lugger.  He told me also that he was very
anxious on another account.  He had observed a fort which we should have
to pass close by on our starboard hand on going out.  The sentry was
certain to hail us, and unless we could give the password and
countersign, he would, as in duty bound, fire at us, and then give
notice of our escape.  In all probability, boats would be sent in
pursuit of us, and we should be recaptured.  This suggestion came like a
blow, sufficient to upset all our hopes of escaping.

"Well," observed La Motte, "there is only one thing to be done.  I must
find out the watchword and countersign.  There is some risk, but it must
be run."

There was a small boat, a dinghy, belonging to the lugger, which was
sometimes carried aft, but she was now placed inside the long-boat on
deck.  She was so light that two men could easily lift her.  La Motte
said he must have her in the water, and that he would go on shore and
steal up to where any sentinels were stationed, and that he would listen
when the patrols came round to relieve them.  He should thus be certain
to obtain the information he required.  Dangerous as I thought the
adventure, of course I would not hinder him from going, as, could I have
spoken French, I would have gone myself.  Accordingly I helped him to
get the dinghy into the water, which we did without any noise.

"Now, Weatherhelm, my dear fellow," said he, "go and lie down and wait
patiently till I come back; a little sleep will do you good--you want
it."

I thanked him cordially, and wrung his hand as he stepped into the punt,
for my heart misgave me that I should never see him again.  As to going
to sleep, that was, I felt, out of the question; I could scarcely bring
myself to lie down.  I watched the little boat with intense anxiety as
he pulled away towards the shore.  I felt much for him, but I must
confess that for my own sake I was still more anxious for his success.
I was indeed enduring a bitter trial.  May none of those who read my
history have to go through the same!  The thought of being a second time
disappointed in my hopes of returning home, and of learning the fate of
my beloved wife, was more than I could bear.  My movements showed the
agitation of my mind.  Sometimes I sat down on a gun; then I rose and
walked the deck; then I went below and threw myself on a locker in the
cabin; but I was quickly on deck again looking out for La Motte.  Then I
recollected that he was not at all likely to return so soon, so I once
more went below to try and warm my chilled limbs.

Another fear assailed me.  I was afraid that if we delayed, some of the
drunken Frenchmen might recover from their stupor and find out our
project.  All of a sudden another idea occurred to me,--if we got the
watchword, could we not carry the lugger and all her senseless crew away
together?  We might handcuff them all without the slightest difficulty.
I own that for the moment I forgot how ungrateful such an act would be
to her captain and mate, who had treated us so kindly.  While I was
thinking on the subject, Andrews woke up and looked about him.

"Is it time yet for us to be off!" he asked, in a whisper.

"No, not yet.  But I say, Andrews, are you ready to carry a bold project
into execution?"  I asked in a low voice.  I then told him what I had
thought of.  He jumped at the idea.

"With all my heart!" he answered.  "Nothing I should like better.  I
hate these Frenchmen, and as for the drunken rascals on board, we can
soon settle them; if they are likely to be troublesome, as soon as we
get clear of the harbour, we may heave them all overboard."

"What are you thinking about?"  I exclaimed, horrified at the
cold-blooded way in which he spoke of murdering so many of our
fellow-creatures.  Suddenly, the proposal I had made burst on me in its
true light.  Of what black ingratitude should we have been guilty in
depriving the men who had trusted us, of their property; and then, had
we followed the suggestion offered by Andrews, of destroying in cold
blood a number of our fellow-men, who at all events had committed no
crime against us!

"No, Andrews, no!"  I answered, after a little reflection; "I would
rather remain a prisoner than run away with the lugger, even if we could
accomplish the undertaking; much less would I injure any of the poor
fellows remaining on board.  Just consider, what should we say if a set
of Frenchmen treated us in that way?"

"Anything is lawful in war," he answered, not agreeing with my notion.
"The Frenchmen should have kept a better look-out after us."

"You forget that the captain and mate left us intentionally with the
means of escape at our disposal, and which they clearly pointed out to
us.  I am sorry that I even thought of carrying off the lugger, and much
more that I mentioned it to you."

At length I brought Andrews round to see the proposal in the light I
did, and he promised not to mention it to any one else.  Thus
conversing, the time passed by much more rapidly than it had done when I
was left to my own thoughts.  I felt sure it must be getting late.  I
looked at my watch; it was nearly ten o'clock, the hour at which La
Motte had told me the guard-boat made her rounds.  I became very anxious
about him; I felt almost sure that he must have been seized, and if so
he ran a great risk of being considered a spy, in which case he would
have been immediately shot.  We, however, could do nothing; we must sit
still and wait.  There is no greater trial for men than this.  If we had
had any work to do, we could have borne it much better.  It wanted but
ten minutes to ten.

"Some accident must have befallen your old shipmate," said Andrews; "if
he does not come back, we must make the attempt without him.  I marked
well the entrance of the harbour.  If we muffle our oars, and keep close
under the fort, we may slip out without being observed.  Are you
inclined to make the attempt?"

"Certainly," I answered; "I would run any risk to be free.  Ah! what is
that?  I saw something moving on the water.  It is the guard-boat
coming.  What shall we reply?"

"We had better slip down below, and let them hail us till they are
hoarse," replied Andrews.  "But no; that is not the guard-boat; it is
the dinghy."

In another instant La Motte was alongside.  He sprang on board.  "I have
it!" he exclaimed; "but I have had a sharp run for it, and was very
nearly taken.  Even now I am not certain that I am not pursued, I have
been thinking of an explanation to give for being on shore, if I am
found out.  I must pass for a Frenchman belonging to the lugger.  Do you
two go below, and pretend to be drunk, or asleep, like the rest.  There
will be no fear then.  I will call you as soon as the guard-boat has
gone away.  We must all then be ready to start in a moment."

Andrews and I immediately followed La Motte's directions, and going
below threw ourselves on the lockers.  I heard La Motte's measured tread
overhead, as if he was walking the deck as officer of the watch.  I
listened for every sound.  Presently I heard him reply in a clear, sharp
voice, apparently to a hail given from a boat at a little distance.
There could be no doubt that it was the guard-boat.  The answer
satisfied the officers.  Another minute elapsed, and La Motte sprang
down below.  "It is all right, Weatherhelm," he whispered; "the
guard-boat is away, and now is our time to be off.  Call up the other
men."

It was quickly done, and all those who had resolved to venture on the
undertaking were speedily on deck.  We hauled up the boat, and silently
took our seats on the thwarts.  I pulled the after oar; La Motte steered
and acted as captain; indeed, had it not been for him, we could not have
made the attempt.  It was a hazardous affair, for we might have to
encounter another guard-boat, and we had to pass among a number of
vessels on our way to the mouth of the harbour.

"If we are seen, I hope that we may be mistaken for the guard-boat,"
said La Motte, as we were preparing to shove off.  "Now, my lads, shove
off, and try and row as much like Frenchmen as you can."

The advice was not unnecessary, for the steady, measured pull of English
men-of-war's men would have inevitably betrayed us.  The night was dark,
but not sufficiently so to prevent us from distinguishing the outline of
the harbour.  Away we pulled, rapidly but with irregular strokes.  We
had to pass close to several privateers, but their crews were either on
shore or drunk, and no notice was taken of us.

More than once it occurred to me, that although we should not have
wished to run off with the vessel of the people who had treated us so
well, yet that we might be able successfully to cut out one of the other
craft brought up nearer the mouth of the harbour; but I reflected that
the experiment would be too hazardous.  Should we fail, we should in all
probability lose our lives; as it was, we might well be contented with
the advantages we possessed.  We had a good boat, though she was small,
an ample supply of provisions, fine weather, and a fair wind from the
southward.

We were about half-way down the harbour, when the sound of oars reached
our ears.  A large ship was near us; we paddled softly in, and lay close
alongside under the shelter of her dark shadow.  Not a sound was heard
aboard her; every one was asleep.  The noise of oars drew near; I
trembled, lest some of her crew might be returning on board, and if they
discovered us, all would be lost.  We listened breathlessly; the sound
of the oars passed by; it was the guard-boat going her rounds.  Had we
continued pulling a minute longer, we should have been discovered.  I
looked up as we lay on our oars; the sky was clear; the stars were
twinkling brightly overhead; there seemed every probability of the fine
weather continuing.  In a couple of days at most we might hope once more
to tread our native shores, and be free to go where we might wish.

I need scarcely repeat all the anxious thoughts which crowded on my
mind; the joy, the happiness unspeakable I anticipated.  I would not, I
dared not, dwell on the reverse.  The sound of the oars was lost in the
distance.  La Motte gave a sign to us to shove off, and letting our oars
glide into the water, we again continued our course.  Out hearts beat
quick as we approached the fort.  The sharp tones of the sentry's
challenge rung on our ears as he saw us passing.  "Liberte!" answered La
Motte promptly; another question was asked.  "Victoire!" he replied.
"We are ordered out by the captain of the port with a despatch to a
vessel in the offing, I know no more."

"_C'est bien_! you may pass," said an officer, whom the sentry's voice
had summoned from the guard-room.

We pulled on as before; away we glided; now we hoisted our sail.
Gradually the fort was concealed by the darkness from our sight.  We
were free!



CHAPTER FOURTEEN.

HAPPY PROSPECT OF REACHING ENGLAND--WEATHER CHANGES--HEAVY GALE--EXPECT
TO BE LOST--DAYS AND NIGHTS OF SUFFERING--OUR GREATEST COMFORT--A SHIP
IN SIGHT--DISAPPOINTED AGAIN--ANOTHER SHIP APPEARS--OUR HOPES AND
FEARS--A SNOW-STORM--GET ON BOARD AN EMIGRANT SHIP--CARRIED FAR AWAY
FROM HOME--DEATH OF SHIPMATES.

Once clear of the harbour, without any sail in sight, we all gladly
loosened our tongues.  In spite of the cold of a winter's night, our
spirits rose, and all hands laughed and chatted, and talked of what they
would do when they got on shore.  We had no necessity to look at our
compass, for the stars enabled us to steer a course for the northward.

With the wind as it was, we thought that we should probably make the
land somewhere about the Dorsetshire coast, should we not in the
meantime fall in with any homeward-bound ship.

From the position of Saint Malo on the coast of France, far down in the
deep bay or bight in which is found the islands of Jersey and Guernsey,
it will be seen that we had a long voyage before us to perform in an
open boat of so small a size and in the middle of winter.  However, not
one of us thought about that.  By daylight we had made such progress
that we were completely out of sight of land.  A difference of opinion
now arose among us.  La Motte very naturally wished to put into
Guernsey.  It was his own country; he knew it well, and he undertook to
pilot us in there.  Most of the men were anxious, as the breeze was
fair, to stand on at once for the coast of England.

"Now, mates," said he, "just listen to what I have to say.  If the wind
continues fair, and we do not fall in with an enemy's cruiser, all well
and good, we may hit some harbour, or we may beach the boat with safety,
and get on shore; but now just look at the other side of the question.
We may be picked up by an enemy, and as we are in a French boat with the
name of her port on her stern, we shall be sent back from whence we have
come, and be much worse off than if we had remained aboard the lugger.
That's one thing which may occur; or the wind may change, and a gale
spring up, and instead of making the English coast in a couple or three
days, as you expect, we may be swamped, or be knocked about for a week
or ten days, and perhaps after all be driven back on to the coast of
France.  Now, what I say is this?  Here is Guernsey on our starboard
bow.  We may be there by to-morrow morning at farthest.  I've friends
who'll treat you kindly.  You'd have time to look about you, and you'll
have no fear of being pressed; whereas if you land in England, after
all, before you get to your homes you may find yourselves in the hands
of a pressgang, and once more aboard a man-of-war."

I thought that there was so much reason in what La Motte urged, that,
anxious as I was to be in England, I could not help siding with him.
All the rest of the men were, however, dead against us.  They had talked
so much of the delights of being on shore, that, in spite of all risks,
they were unwilling that any delay should occur.

"No, no; hurrah for Old England!" they cried.  "As long as the breeze
holds, let us stand on.  We are not likely to fall in with an enemy.  If
we see a stranger which looks suspicious, we'll douse sail, and let her
pass by.  The weather, too, promises to be fine.  Why think of evils
which may never occur?"

Perhaps La Motte and I did not resist as much as we might have done.  At
all events, we yielded to the wishes of the rest, and stood on.  The day
passed away pleasantly enough.  The sun came out and shone brightly, and
for the time of the year it was tolerably warm; so that we all kept our
spirits up, and, congratulating ourselves on our good fortune, did not
think of coming disaster.

As is usual on such occasions, we soon got to telling the various
adventures we had met with in our past lives.  I have not here time to
describe them, but I remember one remarkable thing was, that nearly all
had been wrecked just as often as I had.  Instead of looking at such
disasters as punishments, they all agreed that they ought to consider
themselves very fortunate in escaping, instead of losing their lives, as
had so many of their shipmates.  I could not help thinking the same
thing, and I now began to be more convinced than ever that I was
mistaken in my youthful idea that a curse hung over me.  When I came to
consider the matter, I perceived that I had brought on myself nearly all
the misfortunes which had happened to me, or they could be very clearly
traced to ordinary causes, which had affected in most instances others
as well as myself.  I talked the subject over with La Motte, who was a
right-thinking man, and not without some wit.

"I perfectly agree with you, Weatherhelm," said he.  "It is in my
opinion, far better to be wrecked a dozen times than drowned once,
especially if you escape the twelfth time, and live happy ever
afterwards.  I hope sincerely that your disasters have now come to an
end.  You seem to have suffered a good many since we parted."

"I have enjoyed some very great blessings, too," I answered.  "I am sure
I ought not to complain."

"That is just the sentiment I like to hear," he observed.  "People think
that they are to have all the plums and suet, and none of the hard
dough, which makes up the pudding of life.  We ought to be contented to
take the two together--the sweets and the bitter, the rough and the
smooth.  That is what I have done, and I have saved myself a great deal
of disappointment by not expecting more than I was likely to get."

I have often thought since of La Motte's practical philosophy.

We had every one of us soon need of all the courage and resignation we
possessed.  The wind, which had been steady all the day, began towards
the afternoon to chop about.  First it flew round to the north-east, and
blew pretty hard, and we none of us liked the look of the weather.
Still we hoped that it might not grow worse.  We took a reef in the
mainsail, and brought the boat close up to the wind.

Before long, however, it came on to blow still harder, and the sea got
up very much, and the spray came flying over us, and now and then a sea
broke on board, and we had to keep a couple of hands baling to prevent
the boat from filling.  Night was coming on: we close-reefed the
mainsail, and took a reef in the foresail, and continued our course
close-hauled.  By degrees the wind shifted round to the
north-north-east, and though close-hauled as we lay, we were fully four
points off our course, and if it held on that way, it seemed a chance
even if we should fetch the coast of Cornwall.  Night was coming on, but
there was no improvement in the weather.

Having taken a cheerless supper, for our spirits had sunk very low, we
sat still in our places without speaking.  The rain came down on us and
wetted us through and chilled us to the bones, and the weather grew
thicker and thicker.  Sometimes we could scarcely see a yard ahead, and
we ran a great risk of being run down by a vessel, or of running into
one.  Still we could do nothing further to help ourselves.

Away we flew into the pitchy darkness, the seas hissing and roaring
around us, the boat tumbling and tossing about, now in the trough of a
sea, now on the summit, surrounded by dense masses of foam, which seemed
at times completely to wrap us up--the wind howling, and the rain coming
down in torrents, sufficient of itself to swamp the boat.

Either La Motte or Andrews or I sat at the helm, and very nice steering
it required to keep the boat from swamping.  We lighted the binnacle
lamp to enable us to keep as near as we could to our proper course.  We
had also our lantern ready to show as a signal in case we were able to
make out any vessel approaching us.

I had been in many perils, as I have described, but none of them seemed
greater than those I went through on that night.  Often I thought that
the boat could not possibly swim another minute.  Often she was almost
gunwale under before we could luff up in time to ease her.  Now a huge
black sea came roaring up, which I thought must come down and swamp us;
but it broke just before it reached the boat and merely sent the foam
flying over our heads.  Thus hour after hour passed slowly away.  Some
of the men began to grumble, and to blame themselves for their folly in
leaving the privateer.

Andrews declared that it would have been better if we had cut out a
vessel, as at all events we should have been on board a craft fit to
combat the gale.  La Motte, with more justice, remarked, that it was a
pity they had not consented to follow his suggestion, and to run for
Guernsey while we could have done so.

"But why not run there now?" asked some one.

"Because the whole island is surrounded by rocks, and it would be next
to a miracle if we escaped running on them," he answered.  "Our only
course now is to stand on.  Perhaps the wind will once more shift, and
we may be able, after all, to keep our course for England."

Never have I felt the hours draw on so slowly as they did during that
dreadful night.  Still no new hour brought any change for the better.  I
thought the morning never would come.  As for sleep, that was out of the
question, nor did any of us feel an inclination for food.  I believe
that not one of the party ever expected to see the sun rise again to
cheer our hearts.

Yet, in spite of our apprehensions, the little boat behaved beautifully.
Each sea, as it came roaring up, she surmounted like a wild fowl, and
though down she plunged into the trough, it was but to rise again in
triumph to the summit.

At length the rain ceased, but it blew as hard as ever.  I was looking
eastward, when a pale, thin line appeared in the sky, just above the
horizon.  It grew broader and broader, and brighter and brighter, and we
know it was dawn.  Those who had thought that they should never again
see the sun rise, now felt that they ought not to have desponded.
First, more cold, silvery lines appeared in the sky, and then yellow
lines, which warmed into orange, and pink, and red; and a small portion
of the sun himself broke forth between the clouds, and sent a bright
beam of glittering gold across the dancing waves, but quickly again he
was hidden above the leaden canopy which hung over us.

Few of us had ever passed a more trying night, and we all felt grateful
for the mercy which had been shown us, and, as if by common agreement,
we all with one accord offered up our thanks to Heaven, and prayed that
we might yet further be preserved through the dangers which surrounded
us.  Wild and careless as sailors too often are, there are times when
they exhibit a true and unaffected piety, and when they are not ashamed
of exhibiting their feelings to their fellow-men.  This was one of those
occasions.

We were all aware that we had passed through a night of great peril, and
we knew that we had, in all probability, many more dangers to go
through, in which all our knowledge, and strength, and bravery could
avail us nothing.  Our weakness and helplessness was thus forcibly
brought home to us--our own utter insufficiency to help ourselves.  It
is this feeling, which every seaman must at times have to experience,
which has so beneficial an effect on him in turning his heart to God, in
making him, in spite of himself, acknowledge the superintending care of
the Creator.

As daylight came on, we looked round the horizon, more especially to the
southward, but not a sail was in sight.  We felt sure that, at all
events, we were not pursued.  Had the wind continued from the southward,
we might have fallen in with some homeward-bound ship, but it was not
likely that we should now meet with one.  Having assured ourselves that
no change was likely to take place immediately in our prospects, we
served out our frugal breakfast.

La Motte and I agreed that it would be wiser at once to put ourselves on
short allowance, for we could not tell how long we might be kept out.
To this all the rest cheerfully assented.  I had for some time been
watching the sky to the eastward.  When the sun rose, the wind went
down, but I did not like a wide break in the clouds which suddenly
appeared.  The rent I had observed grew larger and larger, till the
whole eastern sky was bright and clear.  I felt too sure that it
betokened an easterly gale.  I pointed out what I had observed to La
Motte.  He was of my opinion.

We were not mistaken.  Down it came before long, strong and bitterly
cold, tearing up the surface of the sea, and sending the foam flying
like vast snowdrifts before it.  We were almost frozen with the cold and
wet.  We wrapped ourselves up as best we could in our blankets and
greatcoats, but even with this aid we were well-nigh perished.  We had
no means of lighting a fire and warming up anything by which we might
restore circulation.  The gale increased.  Away the boat flew before it,
out to sea, away from land, away from all help.

Bitter was our disappointment.  How could we hope to get back? how
obtain relief?  Our condition was bad indeed.  Some of the men had been
expressing a wish to endeavour to reach Guernsey.  They now, with
reproaches on themselves, acknowledged their folly in not having, when
at the proper time, accepted La Motte's offer to take them there.
Fiercer and fiercer blew the easterly gale, every cloud disappeared, but
yet the sky was not bright, nor did the rays of the sun give any warmth.
A gauze-like veil overspread the sky, while we were surrounded by a
thin mist of spray, which together completely prevented the sun's beams
from reaching us.

Our utmost exertions were required to keep the boat before the sea, and
to bale out the water which continually washed into her.  Those of us
who were not thus actively employed sat with our greatcoats and blankets
huddled up round us, the pictures of misery.  Want of sleep and warm
food made us feel the cold still more severely, and, in spite of our
wraps, we were chilled to the very bones.  Our teeth chattered and our
limbs shook as if we had been afflicted with the ague.  We could no
longer keep up our spirits by conversation.  What possible grounds had
we for hope.  All we could expect was to run on till the boat was
swamped, or till one after the other of us dropped off and died from
cold, starvation, and exhaustion.

La Motte struggled on bravely to prevent himself from giving in, while
at the same time he exerted himself to keep up the spirits of the rest.
His example inspired me to arouse myself, and I endeavoured to aid him
in encouraging our companions.

"Hurrah, my lads!" he suddenly shouted.  "As long as there's life
there's hope--remember that.  Death's door is not open yet.  Don't be
knocking to get in before you are invited.  What are we afraid of?  We
have a tight boat under us, and provisions enough to last us for several
days to come.  We had got a long way to the nor'ard before this easterly
gale sprung up, and we can't be so very far off the Land's End or the
Scilly Islands.  This sort of gale never lasts long.  It will blow
itself out in a day or two, and then we may haul up and stand in for the
land.  Many men have been in a far worse state than that we are in, and
have got well out of it.  Why should we fancy that we are going to be
lost?  Cheer up, I say.  Can any of you sing?  Andrews, you can.  Come,
out with a song, lad.  You shake your head.  Come, I'll help you."  And,
with a voice which sounded full and clear amid the hissing roar of the
gale, La Motte struck up a cheering, merry song, well calculated to
arouse even the most apathetic from the lethargy into which they were
sinking.

Andrews, inspired by the strains, followed his example, as did several
other of the men, and away we flew over the waves, singing cheerfully,
with, as it were, the jaws of death gaping wide on either side to catch
us.

Now La Motte sang a more solemn strain; it was a psalm.  All of us
joined heartily in it.  We prayed that God would protect us amid the
dangers which surrounded us, and then we expressed our full confidence
in His mercy and goodness.  That did us more good than the lighter
songs.  It was certainly more in accordance with our feelings; yet,
perhaps, La Motte took the best means for arousing the people from the
lethargy which was overpowering them.

It has often struck me that people, when they are singing psalms, are
too apt to forget that they are praying, or praising God, or returning
thanks for mercies received.  They seem to forget the meaning of the
words, and to think only of the music.  They do not sing sufficiently
with their hearts.  That was not the case with us in that storm-driven
boat.  The music was, I daresay, very imperfect, but never did men enter
more heartily into the spirit of the psalm than did we on that occasion.

Andrews and another man belonged to Cornwall, and had in their youth
been accustomed to sing psalms in the congregations of their people, as
had two or three of the other men, though for many a long year of their
sea life the custom had been sadly neglected.  Now, when they felt
conscious that they might never have an opportunity of again singing
while alive, they joined with their whole heart and soul in the work.
Thus the day passed away.

The night was approaching.  We had reason to dread it as much as we had
the previous one, except that the sky being clear, there was more light
to enable us to avoid any danger in our course.  We took a frugal supper
and a cup of cold water, all we dared consume of our scanty stores.
Drowsiness now began to overcome most of us.  I felt myself capable of
keeping awake better than any of the rest, for I saw that even La Motte
was giving way.  I therefore urged him to let me take the helm while he
lay down.  To this he consented.  Andrews and I wrapped him up in a
blanket, and in an instant he was fast asleep showing how much
self-command he must have exercised to keep awake at his post.  In the
meantime, while two men continued baling and one kept a look-out ahead,
the rest stretched their limbs as well as they could along the thwarts
of the boat and went to sleep.  My fear was that they might not be able
again to arouse themselves.  Strange, indeed, were my feelings as I sat
in the stern of the boat while she flew hissing along over the foaming
waves and plunging into the dark unknown.  I looked up into the clear
sky, glittering with innumerable stars, and my mind wandered from the
present world to the wonders of eternity, which the scene I gazed on
seemed to picture forth.  I forcibly felt the insufficiency of this
world to satisfy to the full the aspirations of man's soul; and the
reality of the life to come, and all that that life will have to show,
impressed itself more vividly on my mind than it had ever before done.
The glories of the eternal future put to flight all fears for the
present perishable body.

Still, I did not neglect my duty to my companions.  I did my best to
keep my mates of the watch awake.  I watched the seas as they came
rolling up on either side, so that I might keep the boat steadily before
the wind.  Thus the first watch passed by.  I had not the heart to call
La Motte.  I told the other three men to arouse up their companions, and
I resolved to keep awake for a couple of hours more.  An hour after this
it might have been, as I turned my head over my right shoulder, I caught
sight of a huge towering mass close aboard, as it seemed.

It was a large ship.  On she came.  I felt sure that our last moments
had arrived.  There was no use shouting.  The other men looked up.
Terror kept them dumb.  Had we indeed strained our voices till they
cracked, no one would have heard us on board the ship.  The dark pyramid
of canvas seemed to reach up to the very clouds as she flew along,
careering before the gale.

In another moment I thought we should have been run down, and struggling
under her vast keel, but my eye had deceived me.  She dashed on; but
instead of her stem striking us, her broadside appeared on our starboard
hand.  She was a line-of-battle ship of the largest class.  Then,
indeed, we found our voices and shouted, and perhaps the sentries or
look-outs might have heard us; but away she rushed, like some monstrous
phantom of a dream, and, mighty as she was, she quickly disappeared in
the darkness ahead.  Our companions, who had been awoke by our shouting,
lifted up their heads, but as the ship passed by, lay them down again,
probably under the belief that what they had seen was merely the effect
of their imagination.

La Motte remained awake.  "What is the hour?" he asked.  I told him.  He
therefore insisted on my taking his place, though I saw that he had some
difficulty in unbending his limbs from the position they had assumed
while he was sleeping.  In an instant I was asleep.  It was daylight
when I was once more aroused to take the helm.  I found that there was a
sail in sight, just rising above the horizon in the north-east, but we
could not tell in what direction she was standing.

The morning passed as had the former one.  Our attention was kept awake
by watching the progress of the strange sail.  Her topsails rose above
the horizon, then her courses appeared, and it became very clear that
she was sailing on a parallel course with us.  At the distance we were
from her, we could not have been distinguished from the white crest of a
rising wave, so that we knew it was useless to hope for any assistance
from her.  Trying, indeed, it was to watch her gliding by us.
Sometimes, when she rose on the top of a sea, and rolled from side to
side as she ran before the wind, we could see her copper glancing
brightly in the sunbeams, and could almost count her ports; yet we
ourselves, we knew, could scarcely have been seen, even had any on board
been looking out for us.  On she went, her crew rejoicing in the fair
breeze which was carrying them on to their destined port, while we were
grieving at being driven away from ours.

"`It's an ill wind that blows no one good,' remember that, mates," said
La Motte.  "We may get the fair breeze before long."

Scarcely had the stranger disappeared in the western horizon when
another sail rose in the east out of the water.  We watched her even
with greater eagerness than before.  We fancied that we could not again
be doomed to disappointment.

"She is more, I think, to the southward than the other ship," said
Andrews.  "She'll pass not far to the nor'ard of us, and can't help
seeing us."

I watched the new-comer attentively, but could not agree with Andrews.
She appeared to me to be following exactly in the track of the former
vessel.  I earnestly hoped that I might be wrong in my opinion.  The
ship came on, rapidly overtaking us.  We ought to have found cause for
satisfaction when we thus had evidence that we could not be driving fast
to the eastward, and that when we came to haul up we should still find
ourselves at no great distance from the Cornish coast.

We waited, anxiously watching the ship; but all differences of opinion
were soon settled when she appeared abeam, fully as far off as the
former one.  As our hopes had risen to a high pitch, so they now fell
proportionately low.  I began to fear that despondency would seize on
all hands.  The ship came up on our quarter; then she got abeam of us.
We could see her as clearly as we had seen the former one.  Some of our
people shouted and waved their hats and caps.  No answering signal was
made.  Again they shouted and shrieked out till they were hoarse.  Their
cries and their signals were equally vain.  Those on board could
probably scarcely have seen the boat even had they been looking for her,
and of course our shouts would not have reached one-tenth part of the
distance.  The ship glided quickly on.  She passed us altogether, and,
like her predecessor, disappeared in the western horizon.  As she was
leaving us, some of the men lost all command of their feelings and broke
forth into imprecations loud and deep, and abused the ship and all on
board her, as if they were to blame for not having seen us.  I saw that
in their present state of mind there would be no use finding fault with
them, so I tried to cheer them up.

"Never mind, mates," said I.  "We should not have been much better off
if we had got on board those ships.  They are outward-bound, and must
have carried us wherever they are going, and perhaps we might have had
to go half-way round the world before we could get home again.  Let us
wait till we sight a ship bound up Channel, and then if we miss her we
may have reason to complain."

The remarks I made seemed to have some effect, for I heard no more
complaints for some time.  The day wore on and no other vessel passed
us.  A change in the weather began to take place as the evening drew on.
The wind lessened considerably during the afternoon, and as night
approached it dropped into a perfect calm.  Still there was a good deal
of sea, and we had more difficulty than ever in keeping the boat from
being swamped.  We got the oars out, but we found that we had lost so
much strength that we could scarcely use them.  However, we managed to
pull the boat's head round, and once more endeavoured to keep a course
towards the north-east.

Yet exert ourselves as we might, we found that we could only just keep
the boat's head to the sea, and that we were utterly unable to move her
through the water.  Gradually the sea went down, and at last most of the
men declared that they neither would nor could pull any longer, and that
we should gain nothing by it, as very likely the wind would shift again
to its old quarter, and drive us back once more all the distance we had
thus made good.

La Motte and I endeavoured to cheer them up, but all our attempts were
vain.  We saw ourselves that they were too likely to be right, and
indeed we could not help sharing in their despondency.  I scarcely know
how the night passed.  It did pass, however, and so did another day.  It
was a perfect calm; we did not move.  All our oars were laid in, and the
men threw themselves along the thwarts, and declared that they should
sleep there till some vessel should pass near enough to take us on
board.

Our stock of food had diminished very much, and I feared, on examining
it, that we should scarcely have enough to carry us to the English
coast, even should a breeze spring up from the southward to help us
along.  No one now took much count of time.  I fell asleep during the
night, and so did La Motte, and I believe that no look-out was kept.  We
might have been run over without our making an attempt to save our
lives.

Another day broke at last.  There was a light wind, but it was from the
south-east.  We hoisted our sail, though we had scarcely sufficient
strength to get it up.  However, we made but little progress.  I had
fallen asleep, when I was aroused by the voices of my companions
shouting as loudly as their strength would allow.  The tones sounded
strangely hollow and weak.  I was scarcely aware that my own voice was
much like theirs.

I looked up to see what had produced these shouts.  A large ship was
bearing down towards us from the eastward.  We had our whole sail set,
and as the sun shone on it, I hoped that we might now possibly be seen.
I was not so sanguine as some of the men had suddenly become on seeing
the ship.  I knew that too often a very slack look-out is kept on board
many ships, and even then only just ahead to see that no vessel is in
the way or likely to get there.  The topsails and more than half the
courses of the stranger had already appeared above the horizon.  We rose
them rapidly.  By the time that we could see her hull, I judged from the
cut of her sails that she was certainly not an English ship.

"She is very like a French vessel," observed La Motte after watching her
earnestly for some time.  "Still, she does not look like a ship of war,
that is one comfort."  It was very certain, at all events, that she was
standing directly for us, and that there was no chance of our missing
her.

"Now, mates, just make up your minds what we shall do," said La Motte;
"shall we go on board her whatever she is, or wherever she is going, or
shall we remain in the boat and still endeavour to make the English
coast?"

"Let us get clear of the boat!" exclaimed all the men; "we may be
knocking about here for some days to come, till we are all starved."

"But we may obtain provisions from the ship sufficient to last us for a
week, or more, perhaps," observed La Motte; "she is evidently
outward-bound, and many a long day may pass before we get back to
England."

"Better that than being swamped or dying by inches," was the answer.

Finally, we discovered that all the men, including Andrews, had made up
their minds to be quit of the boat at all events.  La Motte told me that
he knew how anxious I was to return home, and that he was ready, if I
wished it, to remain with me in the boat, and to endeavour to make the
shore.

Sincerely I thanked him for this mark of his friendship and kindness, I
debated in my mind whether I ought to accept his offer.  In my anxiety
to reach home, I would have risked everything; still I thought that I
ought not to expose the life of another person for my sake.  How I might
have decided, I scarcely know.  I suspect that I should have accepted
his offer, but the matter was pretty well settled for us.

Clouds had been gathering for some time in the sky, and while we were
speaking, thin flakes of snow began to fall, and continued increasing in
density, so that we could scarcely see the approaching ship.  We could
not ascertain whether we had been seen by those on board before the
snow-storm came on, and, if not, there was too great a probability that
she would pass us.  At all events, she was now completely hidden from
our view.

We calculated that if she kept on the exact course she was on when last
seen, we should be rather to the southward of her.  We therefore got out
our oars, and endeavoured to pull up to her.  Every one, however, was so
weak, that it was with difficulty we could urge the boat through the
water.  Our last morsel of food had been consumed that morning; indeed,
for the two previous days we had taken barely enough to support life.

We looked about--we could not see the ship--we shouted at the top of our
voices--all was silent--we pulled on--again we shouted, or rather
shrieked out.  A hail came from the eastward.  It sounded loud and clear
compared to the hollow tones of our voices.  Presently the dark hull and
wide-spreading sails of a ship broke on our sight through the veil of
falling snow, and directly afterwards we dropped alongside her.

She hailed us in German.  I understood a little of the language, but La
Motte spoke it perfectly.  Great indeed was our satisfaction to find
from this that she belonged to a friendly power.  She appeared to have a
great number of passengers on board, for they crowded the sides and
gangway to look at us, and very miserable objects, I daresay, we
appeared.

Thinking probably that we were afraid of them, they told us that the
ship was the _Nieuwland_, belonging to Bremen, bound for Baltimore, in
the United States, and that the people we saw were Hanoverian emigrants.

When we told them in return that we were Englishmen escaping from a
French privateer which had captured us, they warmly pressed us to come
on board.  When, however, we tried to get up to climb up the sides, we
found that we could scarcely stand on our legs, much less help ourselves
on deck.  Three or four of our companions were so weak and ill that they
could not rise even from the bottom of the boat, and it was sad to see
them, as they lay on their backs, stretching out their hands for help to
those who were looking down on them over the ship's side.

Certainly we all must have presented a perfect picture of woe and
misery--half-frozen and famished--pale, haggard, shivering, with our
beards unshaven, and our hair hanging lank and wet over our faces, our
lips blue, our eyes bloodshot, our clothes dripping with moisture.  Our
condition was bad enough to excite the compassion of any one.

The master and seamen of the ship and the emigrants evidently felt for
us, by the exclamations we heard them utter.  They quickly fitted
slings, which were lowered to hoist us up, and the seamen came into the
boat to help us.  One after the other we were conveyed on board, and at
once carried below.  Not one of us could have stood, had it been to save
our lives.

I felt grateful for the looks of pity which were cast on us as we were
lifted along the deck, while many of the emigrants volunteered to give
up their berths.  I remember how delightful I felt it to find myself
stripped of my damp clothing, lying between dry blankets, with a bottle
of hot water at my feet and another on my chest, while kind-hearted
people were rubbing my limbs to restore circulation.  It was some time,
however, before anything like the proper amount of heat came back to my
chilled frame.  Then some warm drink was given me, and I fell into a
deep slumber.

I believe that I slept nearly twenty-four hours on a stretch without
once waking.  At last, when I opened my eyes, daylight was streaming
down on me through the open hatchway.  The doctor came and felt my
pulse.  He spoke a little English, and told me to keep up my spirits,
and that I should do very well.  Then some broth was brought me by one
of the emigrants, and after I had taken it I felt very much better.  I
inquired after my companions.

"They are not all in as good case as you are," said the doctor.  "Two
poor fellows have died, and a third, I fear, will not be long with us."

"Which of them have gone?"  I asked.  "I trust the officer, La Motte, is
doing well."

"He is weak, and suffers much, but still I have hopes that he may
recover," was the answer.

I was very sad on hearing this, yet I felt what cause I had to be
thankful that I had escaped with my life, and was not likely to suffer
in my health, as was the case with some of my companions.

With returning strength, however, came more forcibly on me the
consciousness of the postponement once more of all my hopes of
happiness.  I had risked everything; I had gone through the most trying
hardships to reach home, and now I found myself being carried away far
from that home, without any immediate prospect of reaching it.  I turned
round in my berth and burst into tears.

The kind-hearted German who was attending on me inquired, in his broken
English, what was the matter.  I felt that it would be a relief to me,
and would gratify him, if I were to tell him my history.  He was much
interested in it, and warmly sympathised with me.  He did not consider
my tears unmanly.  I do not think they were, either.  I was weak and
ill, too.  Perhaps otherwise, as is the English custom, I should have
kept my feelings and my history to myself.  Yet I think that English
habit of hiding our thoughts and feelings, shows a want of confidence in
the sympathy and kind feeling of our fellow-men which is altogether
wrong.  Nothing could surpass the kindness and sympathy of my German
friends, especially of Karl Smitz, the young man who attended on me.

We had a fair breeze and fine weather, so that in three days I was able
to get out of my berth.  My first visit was to La Motte.  He was unable
to move.  With fear and trembling I looked at him, for he seemed to me
sadly changed from what he had been when we left the lugger: I had not
seen myself, and I was not aware how haggard and ill I even then
appeared.

He told me that he only felt weak and bruised, and that he had hopes he
should soon be well.  I found that three of our late companions had been
committed to the deep, and that a fourth was in a dying state.  This
made me feel still more anxious about La Motte.  From our old
friendship, now cemented by the hardships we had gone through together,
I could not help regarding him with the affection of a brother.  I sat
by the side of his berth till the doctor came and told me I must go on
deck, as fresh air was now the only medicine I required.

The captain welcomed me on deck when I appeared in the kindest way, and
said that he was glad to find even one of his guests on the fair road to
recovery.  He, it appeared, had heard my story, and he came up to me and
told me that he had no doubt I was anxious to get to England, and that
if we fell in with any homeward-bound ship, he would put me on board
her.  I told this to La Motte when I went below, and he said that if he
had strength even to move he would accompany me.

Two days after this I was sitting on a gun-carriage enjoying the fresh
breeze, when there was a movement on deck among the crew and passengers,
and I saw four men coming up the main hatchway, bearing between them
what I saw at once was a human form, wrapped up in a fold of canvas.  It
was placed on a plank near a port at the opposite side of the ship.  A
union-jack was thrown over it, and I guessed from that circumstance that
the dead man was another of my companions.  I called to Karl Smitz, who
was passing.

"Ah! they did not know that you were on deck, or they would have told
you before the poor fellow was brought up," he observed.  "Yes, he was
another of those we saved out of the boat.  We are now going to bury him
as we would wish to be buried ourselves."

Soon after this the captain came into the waist with a Lutheran
prayer-book, from which, with an impressive voice, he read some prayers.
Then both the seamen and emigrants--men, women, and children--stood
round and burst forth into a hymn most sweet and melodious; first it was
sad in the extreme, and then it rose by degrees to tones of joy, as it
pictured the spirit of the departed borne by angels into Abraham's
bosom; while another prayer was being uttered, the body of my shipmate
was launched into the deep.  Thus four of us had been taken and six
remained.

I was long very anxious for La Motte; he, however, slowly recovered, and
in about a fortnight was able to come on deck.  By that time Andrews and
the other men had recovered, and were able to do duty.  We are all of us
anxious to be of use, for no honest seaman, or any other true man for
that matter, likes to eat the bread of idleness.  The ship was rather
weak-handed, and the captain was very glad of our services.

La Motte and I consulted together, and we agreed that we ought to make
him some recompense for the trouble and expense he had been at, and all
the care he had taken of us.  The other men agreed to what we proposed.
We accordingly, when he was on deck one day, went up to him and told him
how grateful we felt for his kindness, and begged him to accept our
boat.  He smiled at our warmth.

"No, indeed, my good men, I can accept nothing from you," he answered;
"I have only done what is the duty of every seaman to do when he finds
his fellow-men tossed about on the ocean in distress.  What was your lot
may be mine another day; and I should expect others to do for me what I
have done for you."

"Well, sir," said La Motte, "we feel the truth of what you say.
Unhappily, some seamen do not act as you have done; and there are
wretches who will pass a ship in distress, and never attempt to relieve
her.  However, what I am going to say is this; our clothes are in a very
bad condition, and if you will supply us, we will consider them as
payment for the boat."

This proposal pleased our kind captain, and he forthwith gave us a suit
of clothes, and a warm cap, a pair of shoes, and a couple of shirts, out
of his slop-chest.  We were thus all of us able to put on a decent and
comfortable appearance.  I am very certain no good action ever goes
unrewarded in one way or another, though, perhaps, through our
blindness, we do not always find it out.

A few days after this a terrific gale sprung up.  All hands were roused
up in the middle watch to reef topsails.  We Englishmen, hearing the cry
and roar of the tempest which had suddenly struck the ship, sprang on
deck.  The crew were aloft in vain struggling with the bulging topsails.
At that moment the fore-topsail, with a report like thunder, blew out
of the bolt-ropes, carrying with it two men off the lee yard-arm.  The
poor fellows were sent far away to leeward into the boiling sea.

Any attempt to help them was utterly hopeless; we heard their despairing
shrieks, and for an instant saw their agonised countenances as the ship
swept by them, and all trace of them was lost.  We hurried on to the
main-topsail-yard just in time to save the people there from sharing the
fate of their messmates.  The courses were furled, the main-topsail
closely reefed, and the ship flew onward on her course.



CHAPTER FIFTEEN.

THE EMIGRANT SHIP AND OUR KIND CAPTAIN--GET ON BOARD A HOMEWARD-BOUND
SHIP--AN UNEXPECTED ENCOUNTER--MY OLD CAPTAIN--A CONVERTED MAN--A
CRIPPLED SHIP--LAND AT BERMUDA--ONCE MORE SAIL FOR ENGLAND--PRESSED
AGAIN.

The good ship _Nieuwland_ made rapid progress.  Though I was flying away
from home and all I longed to be with, yet anything was better than
moving slowly.  If we did not fall in with any ship in which I might
return, I felt that the sooner I got to the end of the voyage, the
sooner I might be starting back again.  The gale continued for several
days; the wind at length dropped and then came ahead, blowing stronger
than ever.  It was now necessary to heave the ship to.

In performing the operation, a heavy sea struck her bows, and two more
of the crew were washed overboard.  Happily the emigrants were below, or
many would probably have shared the same fate.

I had now what I much required, abundance of work as a seaman.  When it
is well for a person to fly from his own thoughts, there is nothing like
useful occupation to help him along; nothing is so bad as to allow
oneself to dwell on one's misfortunes.  The best advice I can give to a
man when he is unhappy, is to go and help others.  He will find plenty
of people requiring his aid, and numbers far more unhappy than himself.

The ship had suffered a good deal during the gale, and we began to be
apprehensive for her safety should the weather continue bad; but it soon
cleared up, and we had every hopes of reaching our port in a week or ten
days at the farthest.  The day after the fair weather set in, a sail was
reported ahead.  As we drew near each other, we saw that she was in a
very shattered condition.  She was a brig, we perceived, but only one
mast was standing.  Her bowsprit was carried away, and her foremast was
gone by the board.

Our captain made a signal to ask what assistance was required.  The
answer was, "Some spars for our foremast and bowsprit, and some hands
who may be willing to return to England to help navigate the ship.  We
have lost five overboard."

Our kind captain called us all aft.  "Here is an opportunity for those
who may desire it to return home," said he.  "The brig is in no very
good plight, as you see; but many a vessel in a worse condition has made
a safe voyage.  I will not advise you either way.  I shall be very sorry
to lose you, but you are at liberty to go."

We thanked him very much for this additional proof of his love of
justice and fair dealing, and La Motte and I consulted together what we
would do.  I at all events was ready to run every risk for the sake of
returning home.  I also felt that we might be the means of saving the
brig and the people on board her.

La Motte agreed to accompany me; so we told the captain that we would
go.  Andrews and another man said that they would accompany us.  Our
captain therefore signalled that he would afford all the help asked for,
and told the people in the brig in the meantime to send a boat on board
us.  As we passed under the counter of the brig, previous to heaving to,
a man standing on her taffrail hailed us through his speaking-trumpet:

"We cannot do what you ask; we have not a boat that can swim, and we
have only four hands remaining on board."

It struck me as I looked at the man that I knew his figure, and even the
tone of his voice; but where I had seen him I could not tell.  While the
ship was being hove-to, we went round to bid farewell to the numerous
friends we had found on board.  Had we been brothers, we could not have
been treated more kindly, and to no one was our gratitude more due than
to the honest Bremen captain.

The boat was ready; we stepped into her, with a couple of spars towing
astern.  The captain took his seat in the stern-sheets.

"I'll go on board and see my brother skipper," said he.  "Now, my sons,
farewell.  I shall not forget you, and you will not forget me, I hope.
We may never meet together again in this world, or we may; but I hope
that we shall all be steering the same course to that world which will
last for ever and ever.  Don't ever forget that world, my sons.
Whatever you do, wherever you go, always keep it in view.  It is of more
value than gold or much fine gold.  Get, I say, on that course, and do
not let any one ever tempt you to alter it.  In fair weather or foul,
steadily steer for it, and you will be sure to make it at last."

We all listened attentively to the good man's words; he spoke with so
much earnestness, and had given us so strong a proof of his practical
Christianity, that we could not but feel that they merited our respect.
The captain of the brig--the same man who had hailed us with the
speaking-trumpet--stood at the gangway to receive us when we pulled
alongside.

I rubbed my eyes as I looked at him.  I rubbed and rubbed again.

There stood, scarcely altered, it appeared to me, a man I had believed
long since swallowed up by the hungry waves, Captain Tooke, once the
master of the _Fate_, the brig in which I had been wrecked off the
Scilly Islands.  If it was not him,--saved by some wonderful means,--I
felt sure that it was a brother or near relative; for if he was not my
old captain, no two people could be more alike.  The sea had gone down
completely, so that we without difficulty boarded the brig.  Her master
thanked the Bremen captain very warmly for the assistance he had brought
him, and welcomed us.

"You are brave lad? for coming on board such a wreck of a craft as mine
is," said he, looking at us, and putting out his hand to La Motte.
"However, if we are mercifully favoured by fine weather, we will get her
all ataunto before long."

We told him that if the ship was sound in hull, we had no fears about
the matter; we should soon get her to rights.

"That's the spirit I liked to see," he answered, and then turning to the
Bremen captain, he continued, "Tell me, my friend, how much am I to pay
you for these spars?  Ask your own price.  They are invaluable to me."

"Nothing," was the answer.  "I had several to spare, and none have been
lost during the voyage.  Well, if you press the point, you may pay the
value over to these men when you reach your own country.  They have lost
their all from being taken prisoners, and will require something to take
them to their homes."

"That I will, with all my heart," answered the captain of the brig.

While he was speaking, I kept looking at him.  Though his features were
the same, his way of expressing himself was so different to that of
Captain Tooke, that I felt I must be mistaken.

Farewells were said between the two captains, and once more the Bremen
captain shook hands with us all round.  The emigrants cheered as the
ship bore up round us, and away she went to the west, while we lay as
near the wind as our dismasted state would allow us.

I was anxious to settle the question as to the identity of the captain,
so I asked one of the men what his name was.  He somewhat startled me by
answering "Tooke."  He, however, could tell me nothing about his past
history; so I went up to the captain himself, and asked him if he had
not been on board the _Fate_ when she was wrecked?

"Yes," he replied; "I was the sole survivor of all on board that
unfortunate craft."

"No, sir, you were not," I answered, and I told him how a number of us
had got away in the boat, and how all, with the exception of old Cole,
Iffley, and I, had been lost, and how the old mate had died, and we were
the only ones left.  He told me that when the mast went overboard, he
had clung to it, and that the tide had carried it out into mid-channel.
When morning broke, he found himself close to a vessel hove-to.  The
wind then began to fall, and the sea to go down, and in a short time
they sent a boat and picked him up.  He by that time was very much
exhausted, and could scarcely have held out another quarter of an hour.

He himself had been all his life utterly careless about religion; but
while he was hanging on to the mast amid the raging ocean, he had been
led to think of the future, towards which he felt that he was probably
hastening, and he could not help discerning the finger of God in thus
bringing him directly up to the only vessel within many miles of him.
When he got on board, however, he was struck by the utter want of
respect shown by the master and all the crew for anything like religion.
He and they were scoffers and blasphemers and professed infidels.  He
said that he was so horrified and shocked at all he heard, that he
trembled lest he might have become like them.

From that time forward he prayed that he might be enlightened and
reformed, and he felt truly a new heart put into him.  He had never
since gone back.  He had met with many misfortunes and hardships.  He
had been frequently shipwrecked; had lost all his property; had been
taken prisoner by the enemy; had been compelled to serve as mate instead
of master; and had scarcely ever been able to visit his family on shore.
Still he went on, trusting in God's mercy, and feeling sure that
whatever happened to him was for the best.

"And, sir," said I, when he had finished his account of himself, "I
heartily agree with you.  I have often fainted and often doubted, but I
have always come back to the same opinion, that what is, is best--that
is, that whatever God does is best for us."

This conversation, by the bye, did not take place at once.  We first set
to work to get the ship to rights.  We got sheers up, and, the weather
being calm, we without difficulty got the new mast stepped, and another
bowsprit rigged.  The mast was only a jury-mast, but we set it up well
with stays, and it carried sail fairly.

While we were working away, I observed the countenance of one of the men
who was doing duty as mate, he being the most experienced of the three
survivors of the crew.

"I am certain that you must be an old shipmate of mine," said I as we
were hauling away together.  "Is not your name Flood, and were you not
on board the _Kite_ schooner when we were attacked by pirates?"

"The very same, lad," said he.  "And you--I remember you, too, very well
now--you are Will Weatherhelm."

"The same; and is it not extraordinary that thus, in the middle of the
Atlantic, I should meet with two men whom I have not heard of for years,
and one of whom I thought was dead?"

"Not more extraordinary than that those two men should have become
thoroughly changed characters," he answered.  "I was a careless
reprobate, Weatherhelm, when you knew me, and now I have learned to
think and to pray, and to strive to do well."

It certainly was surprising to me to hear John Flood speak as he did,
for, unhappily, in those days there were not many seamen who could say
the same for themselves.  But, poor fellows, their opportunities were
few of hearing anything about religion, and I believe men will be judged
according to the advantages they may have possessed.  Let those take
heed, therefore, who have them, that they do not throw them away.

Flood gave me an account of the way the brig--the _Fair Rosamond_ was
her name--met with her accident.  It was indeed providential that she
and all on board had not perished.  She had sailed from Port Royal, in
Jamaica, bound for Liverpool, with several other vessels, under convoy
of a frigate.  The first part of the voyage was favourable, but the
_Fair Rosamond_ was very deeply laden with sugar and rum and other West
India produce, and being then out of trim, she proved herself a very
dull sailer.

To avoid the risk of capture, the convoy had steered a more northerly
course than is usual, and had not kept east till nearly in the latitude
of Newfoundland.

"We were constantly lagging behind, and the frigate had to come and whip
us up so often that we completely lost our character in the fleet,"
continued Flood.  "We did our best to keep up with the rest of the
convoy, by setting every stitch of canvas we could carry; but nothing
would do, and we should have had to heave part of the cargo overboard to
have enabled her to keep up with the rest.  At length we were overtaken
by a gale of wind, and we had to heave-to.  We thought that the rest of
the fleet were doing the same near us.  It was night.  When morning
broke not a sail was to be seen.  We were more likely to fall into the
hands of the enemy, but still we could take our own time, and we thought
that we were less likely to meet with an accident than when, blow high
or low, we had to press her with canvas.  However, we were mistaken.  We
had been driven a long way to the nor'ard of the Gulf Stream, and the
weather was cold and bad, when one night, just as I had come on deck to
keep the middle watch, and had gone to the wheel, I looked up and
thought I saw a great white glittering cloud right ahead of us.  I sang
out, and the first mate, who was officer of the watch, crying, `Hard
a-lee!' ran forward.  I put down the helm, but scarcely had I done so
before I saw what I knew to be a huge iceberg rising up directly ahead
of us.  I fully believed that our last moments were come.  It appeared
to me as if the ship was running into a cavern in the side of some vast
mountain of marble.  I held my breath.  If my hair ever stood on end, I
believe that it did on that occasion.  My eyeballs seemed starting from
their sockets.  I felt the blood leave my cheeks and rush round my
heart, as if it would burst.  A terrific crash came.  There were
despairing shrieks and cries.  I thought the brig was lost.  The
bowsprit was carried away; the foremast came toppling down, and at the
same time a sea struck the ship, and swept over the decks.  I held on by
the wheel.  The captain rushed on deck just as the sea had passed over
us.  I felt the brig rebound as it were from the iceberg, and I found
that we were drifting away from it.  The two men who were below came on
deck at the same time the captain did.  We shouted to our companions.
We looked about aboard and around us, on either side where the wreck of
the foremast was still hanging on to the channels, but no voice
replied--not a glimpse of them could be seen.  We four were left alone
on that stormy ice-surrounded sea, with a shattered, almost unmanageable
ship.  We did not fear.  Our captain was a host in himself.  We could
not get the wreck of the mast on board, so we had to cut it away.
Happily the wind came round from the nor'ard, and by rigging a stay from
the head of the mainmast to the stump of the bowsprit, we were able to
set a sail and to get the brig's head round.  We had been knocking about
ten days when you fell in with us.  Two vessels passed us, and must have
seen our condition, but they did not alter their course.  All who sail
the ocean are not good Samaritans, like your friend the Bremen captain."

Such was the brief account Flood gave me of their disaster.  I have
always designated the good man of whom he spoke as the Bremen captain,
for I could not pronounce his name, and did not write it down.  I hope
we shall meet in heaven.

I must hurry on with my adventures.  Once more I indulged in the hope of
being speedily restored to my wife and home.  The weather was fine, and,
considering her crippled state, the brig made fair way.  In some
respects we were better off than on board the Bremen ship, for we had
ample and good provisions and plenty of room, and as our supply of
clothes was small, Captain Tooke distributed among us those belonging to
the poor fellows who had been lost.

I had one night turned in, after keeping the first watch, under the
belief that all was going well.  I was roused up with the so often heard
cry, "All hands shorten sail!"  I hurried on deck to find the brig
plunging into a heavy sea, which was straining every timber in her.  A
fierce north-easter was blowing.  To attempt to face it was impossible,
and it was not without difficulty that we got the brig's head round from
it.  Away we went before the wind, and away from England and my home.
By the captain's computation we were only three hundred miles or so to
the northward of the Bermudas.  The brig had for some time been in a
leaky state, and we had frequently to turn to at the pumps, but, with
fine weather, we had had no fear of keeping her clear.  Now, however,
the case was altered, and Captain Tooke resolved to run for the
Bermudas.

It is no easy matter to hit a small spot in the middle of the ocean,
after dark and blowing weather, when no observation has lately been
taken.  We had to keep a bright look-out not to miss the islands.  I
felt especially anxious about the matter.  Should we run past them, we
might, after all, be compelled to put into an American port to repair
the ship, and my return home might be still further postponed.

The morning came; the day wore on.  No land was in sight.  My heart sank
within me.  Over and over again I went to the main-topmast-head to look
out for the group of rocks I so anxiously desired to see.

At length, just on the starboard bow, I caught sight of a blue mound
rising out of the water.  I hurried below to tell the captain.  In a
couple of hours we were safely at anchor within Saint George's harbour.

I was in hopes that the brig would be quickly repaired, and that we
should be allowed to proceed on our voyage.  However, as it turned out,
an agent of the owner's resided there.  He ordered the brig to be
surveyed.  The surveyor was connected with the chief shipbuilder of the
place.  He pronounced her unfit to proceed on her voyage without a
thorough repair.  The cargo was consequently discharged, and the crew
were paid off.  Captain Tooke regretted this exceedingly, but could not
help it.  He said that he should have been perfectly ready to take the
brig home, with a new mast and a little caulking in her upper works,
which could be got at simply by heeling her over.  However, he had to
submit.

He not only paid us our wages, but the wages which were due to the poor
fellows who were lost, and also the value of the spars which had been
given to him by the Bremen captain.  Thus I found myself possessed of
more money than I had had in my pocket since I had been pressed.  The
question was now, how I could most speedily reach England.  I took
counsel with La Motte.  He observed, that the longest way round is often
the shortest way there; and that, perhaps, by going to some port in the
United States, we might more quickly get to Europe, as there was no
vessel in harbour bound there at that time.

Just as we had arrived at this determination, a homeward-bound West
Indiaman, which had parted from her convoy, put into the harbour.  She
had lost several men by yellow fever, and her captain, who came on
shore, was very glad to ship us the moment we offered.  He took all the
men who had been paid off from the _Fair Rosamond_.

Once more we were under weigh for Old England.  The _Jane_ was a fine
ship, belonging to London.  She was in good repair, and well found, and
with the fresh hands taken on board, well manned.  We had no reason to
dread gales of wind or disasters of any sort.  The wind came fair, and
we had a fine run till we were not far off the chops of the Channel,
when it fell a dead calm.  There we lay for a couple of days, well-nigh
rolling our masts out, when a light breeze sprung up from the eastward.
Though it was against us, anything was better than a calm.  Oh, how I
longed to be at home!  Again almost in sight of England, I could not
help every moment conjuring up pictures of the scenes that home might
present.  Sometimes they were bright and happy, but then they would
become so sad and painful that I grew sick at heart by their
contemplation.  "At all events," I said to myself, "all my doubts will
soon be at an end.  I shall know what has occurred."

Such thoughts were passing through my mind, when the look-out from the
masthead reported several sail in sight, coming down before the wind.
The report caused considerable excitement on board.  They might be
friends, but they might be enemies; and if so, there was too great a
probability of our finding ourselves entering a French port as
prisoners, instead of returning home as we had expected.  Our captain
resolved to stand on close-hauled, till he could ascertain whether they
looked suspicious, and if so, to keep away to the northward.  As they
drew nearer, we did not doubt from the breadth of canvas they showed
that they were men-of-war.  In a short time we got near enough to them
to exchange signals, when we made out that they were British ships.  The
headmost one, a frigate, signalled to us to heave-to, an order our
captain very unwillingly obeyed.

"Perhaps she only wants to send some message home, but I doubt it.
Lads, look out for yourselves," said he.

I knew too well to what his remark referred.  We, as ordered, hove to,
and a lieutenant and midshipman with a boat's crew strongly armed came
aboard us.

"Turn the hands up, captain," said the lieutenant briskly.  The order
was obeyed, and we all had to appear on deck.  "You are strongly manned,
captain," observed the officer, running his eye over us.  "You can
easily manage to get into port with half the number of hands you now
have."

"Could not work my ship without all the hands I have," answered the
captain gruffly.

"There is nothing like trying," observed the lieutenant.  "Let me see
your papers.  Ah, I observe you entered some of these men when part of
your voyage was accomplished.  You can do very well without them, at all
events.  They none of them have protection.  No, I see that clearly.
Come, lads, get your bags up; I can take no excuses.  Our ships must
have men; I know nothing more about the matter.  Be smart now."

I endeavoured in vain to expostulate.  I entreated the officer to allow
me to proceed in the ship.  He replied that it was his duty to take me.
He could not stop to argue about duty.  I must go.  I knew that he was
right; but, oh, how grievous was this new trial to bear!  I thought that
I should have been beside myself.

La Motte was doing duty as mate of the ship, and he escaped.  All I
could do was to tell him where to find my wife, and to entreat him to
lose no time in visiting her, and in assuring her of my safety.  He
promised faithfully to fulfil my wishes, and with a heavy, almost
breaking heart, I stepped into the man-of-war's boat.

I felt inclined to curse the country which could allow of such a system.
Happily, I did not.  I knew that it arose from the ignorance of those
in authority as to how to get seamen for the king's ships, and not from
cruelty or heartlessness.  It may seem surprising to those who live in
happier times that no better plan could be thought of.

I found myself conveyed on board the _Nymph_, a thirty-six
twelve-pounder gun frigate, commanded by Captain Edward Pellew.  When
questioned, I did not deny that I had before served on board a
man-of-war, and having given an account of my adventures, I was rated at
once as an able seaman.  I went about my duty, and did it to the best of
my power, but it was mechanically, without any spirit or heartiness.

Month after month passed away.  I felt as if I was in a trance.  I could
not think.  I tried to forge, the past; I dared not meditate on the
future.  How I lived through that time I scarcely know.  I never laughed
or smiled, I scarcely spoke to any one; even the active duties of the
ship did not arouse me.



CHAPTER SIXTEEN.

ON BOARD THE NYMPH--A HOT ENGAGEMENT--ESCAPE OF THE ENEMY--I AM
TRANSFERRED TO THE PELICAN--ACTION OFF THE ISLE OF BAS--I FANCY MYSELF
WITH A WOODEN LEG--WE PUT INTO PLYMOUTH--WRITING UNDER DIFFICULTIES--A
SAD DISAPPOINTMENT--WE SAIL--A CHASE--TRYING TIME--ACTION BETWEEN THE
VENUS AND SEMILLANTE--IN SEARCH OF THE ENEMY.

Captain Edward Pellew, who commanded the _Nymph_, was, I was told, one
of the smartest officers in the British navy.

"Where there is anything to do, he'll do it; and if there is nothing to
do, he'll find something," was the opinion expressed of him on board.

He had during the last war been first lieutenant of the _Apollo_,
Captain Pownoll.

"I belonged to her at the time," said my messmate Dick Hagger.  "We were
in company with the _Cleopatra_, Captain Murray, who, one morning, sent
us in chase of a cutter seen in the north-west quarter.  About half-past
ten, when we had got nearly within gun-shot of the cutter, we saw a
large ship standing out from the land.  That she was an enemy, there was
no doubt; so Captain Pownoll at once did his best to close her.  The
wind was about north-east, and the stranger, standing to the nor'ard on
the starboard tack, was enabled to cross our bows.  Soon afterwards she
tacked to the eastward, and we also hove about until, she being on our
weather quarter, we again tacked, as did also the stranger.  We
exchanged broadsides with her in passing, when we once more tacked and
brought her to close action about noon.  It was the hottest fight I had
ever then been engaged in.  We tossed our guns in and out, determined to
win.  It was sharp work; numbers of our men were falling, several killed
and many wounded.  Among the former was our brave captain, who was shot
down about an hour after the action commenced, when our first
lieutenant, Edward Pellew, who was now our captain, took command of the
ship.  You may be sure that he continued the fight bravely, cheering us
on.  What we might have thought about the matter had another man been in
his place, I don't know; but we knew him, and felt sure that he would
keep it up as long as we had a stick standing or a shot in the locker.

"We were now edging away off the wind towards Ostend.  It was soon seen
that it was the intention of the enemy to run ashore.  We had by this
time made her out to be the _Stanislaus_, a French thirty-two gun
frigate, though she was only carrying at the time, so we afterwards
found out, twenty-six long twelve-pounders, so that she was no match for
us.

"Our young commander now did his best to prevent the _Stanislaus_ from
running ashore by crossing and recrossing her bows; but on heaving the
lead, we found that we were in little more than twenty feet of water,
and that if we stood on, we ourselves must be aground before long.

"The master and other officers now came up to Mr Pellew, and strongly
advised him to wear ship.  You may be sure we were very sorry when we
had to bring the _Apollo_ to the wind, with her head off shore; and a
few minutes afterwards the _Stanislaus_ took the ground, when her
foremast and main-topmast fell over the side.  Still greater was our
disappointment when we heard that Ostend was neutral ground, and that we
should be violating what was called the neutrality of the port by
renewing the engagement.  I am not certain that our commander would not
have run all risks, had not the enemy fired a gun to leeward to claim
the protection of the Dutch.  It is but right to say that the French
fought well, for besides our captain, we hid five poor fellows killed
and twenty wounded.  Our rigging was cut to pieces, and we had three
feet of water in the hold.  The French loss was much more severe.

"Mr Pellew got his promotion to the rank of commander for this action.
I next served with him on board the _Pelican_, a fourteen gun brig to
which he was soon afterwards appointed.  We were off the Isle of Bas,
towards the end of April 1782, I mind, when we made out several vessels
at anchor in the roads.

"Our commander at once resolved to attack them, and for this purpose
stood inshore, when we saw two privateers--a brig and a schooner, each
of equal force to the _Pelican_--spring their broadsides towards the
entrance of the roads, to prevent us entering.  Our commander was not
the man to be stopped by threats of that sort.  Standing on, we opened a
brisk fire on the two privateers, and soon drove them, as well as a
third which appeared inside, on shore, close under the shelter of some
heavy batteries, whose guns at once began blazing away at us.  We were
struck several times, and two of our men were wounded, but no one was
killed.  It was about as pretty and well-executed an affair as I ever
saw, and we were all right glad to hear that our commander had obtained
his post rank for it.  So you see, Will, we've got a man to be proud
of."

I agreed with Hagger, but yet my heart was too sore to feel any
satisfaction at knowing this, and I would a thousand times rather have
been on shore with my dear wife; and who, under my circumstances, would
not?  Still I might hope by some means or other to be able to rejoin
her.  The frigate, I found, had been fitted out at Portsmouth, and to
Portsmouth she would in all probability return.  I would thankfully have
received a wound sufficiently severe to have sent me to hospital.  Then,
if I once got home, discharged from the ship, I determined to take very
good care not again to be pressed.  It would be hard indeed if Charles
Iffley should discover me.  In the meantime, I resolved, as I had done
before, to perform my duty.

I prayed, for my wife's sake, should we go into action, that my life
might be preserved.  For myself, just then, I cared very little what
might become of me.

I remember, however, laughing as I thought, if my right leg were to be
shot away, how Uncle Kelson and I should go stumping about Southsea
Common together,--he had lost his left leg,--now our heads almost
knocking against each other, now going off at tangents.  I pictured to
myself the curious figure we should cut.

Hagger thought, as he looked at me, that I had gone daft.

"What is the matter, Will?" he asked.  I told him.

"Don't let such fancies get hold of your mind, man," he answered.
"You'll keep your two legs and get safely on shore one of these days,
when we have well trounced the mounseers.  Ever bear in mind that
`there's a sweet little cherub who sits up aloft, to take care of the
life of poor Jack.'

"He'll take care of both your legs for your wife's sake, as I doubt not
it would be better for you to keep them on."

After cruising up and down the Channel for some time, we put into
Plymouth, where we found the _Venus_ frigate.  Commander Israel Pellew,
our captain's brother, came on board to keep his brother company, he
having no command at the time.

No leave was granted, and very little communication held with the shore.
I was unable to obtain a sheet of paper and a pen, the officers only
having writing materials.  I would willingly have given a guinea for a
sheet of paper, a pen, and some ink; but it was not until we had been at
anchor some time that I got a sheet from the purser's steward, with a
wretched pen and a small bottle of ink, for which I paid him five
shillings.  I was thankful to get it at that price, and immediately
hurried down to write a letter to my wife.  Bitterly to my
disappointment, before I had finished it, I heard the boatswain's shrill
call summoning all hands on deck to heave up the anchor and make sail.
Placing the half-finished letter in my bag, which I had brought from the
_Jane_, I followed my shipmates.

We sailed in company with the _Venus_, Captain Faulknor, and stood down
Channel in search of French cruisers.  My earnest prayer was, that we
might put into Spithead, whence I should have an opportunity of sending
my letter on shore, even though I should be unable to get leave to go
myself.  As a pressed man, I knew that I should have a difficulty in
obtaining that.

The _Venus_ had been hurriedly fitted out.  She had no marines on board,
while she was twenty seamen short of her complement.  She was rated as a
thirty-two gun frigate, mounting twenty-four long twelve-pounders on the
main-deck, with six eighteen-pounder carronades and eight long
six-pounders on her quarter-deck and forecastle, which gave her a total
of thirty-eight guns.  Thus, except her carronades, her guns were of
light calibre.  We were somewhere about a hundred leagues north-west of
Cape Finisterre when a sail was seen to the south-east.  Captain Pellew,
as senior officer, ordered Captain Faulknor (the _Venus_ being much the
nearer) to chase.  We at the same time made out another sail to the
eastward.  Hoping that she might be an enemy, we immediately steered for
her.  She proved, however, to be an English frigate bound out with
despatches to the West Indies.  As her captain could not go out of his
way to look after the Frenchman, we bore up alone to follow the _Venus_,
hoping to get up in time to take part in the engagement, should she be
fortunate enough to bring the stranger to action.  We could calculate
pretty accurately whereabouts to find our consort, when about noon the
next day it came on calm for some hours, and though we set all sail, the
ship made but little progress through the water.

Late in the evening, the sound of rapid firing reached our ears, and we
knew that the _Venus_ must be engaged, but whether or not with a ship of
superior force, it was impossible to decide.  It greatly tried our
patience to hear the sound of the battle and yet not be able to take
part in it.  Even I was aroused, and for a time forgot my own troubles.
The midshipmen went aloft to the mastheads, but still they were unable
to catch sight of the combatants.  The fast-coming gloom concealed the
clouds of smoke which might have risen above the horizon and shown their
position.

The officers walked the deck with hurried strides, their glasses in
their hands, every now and then turning them in the direction from which
the sound came, though they knew they were not likely to see anything.

The men stood about whistling for a wind until it seemed as if their
cheeks would crack.

At last the breeze came; the order was given to trim sails.  Never did
men fly to their stations with more alacrity.

The days were long, and as night came down at last on the world of
waters, we could hear the firing more distinctly than ever, but still we
could not see the flashes of the guns.

Next morning a sail was sighted to the south-east.  She was standing
towards us, but alone.

"She may be the _Venus_, or she may be an enemy which has captured her,
and is now coming on to fight us," I observed to Dick Hagger.

He laughed heartily.  "No, no, Will," he answered.  "Depend upon it, the
_Venus_, if she is taken, which I don't believe, would have too much
knocked about an enemy to leave her any stomach for fighting another
English ship."

"But suppose she is not the ship with which the _Venus_ engaged, but a
fresh frigate standing out to fight us."

"I only hope she may be; we'll soon show her that slip has caught a
Tartar.  Depend on't, we'll not part company till we've taken her."

The matter was soon set at rest, when, the stranger nearing us, we
observed her crippled state, and recognised her as our consort.

"She's had a pretty tough fight of it," said Hagger as we gazed at her.
Her fore-topgallant main and cross-jack yard were shot away, her yards,
rigging, and sails sadly cut up, but what injuries her hull had received
we could not make out.

On closing with each other, both ships hove-to, and our third
lieutenant, Mr Pellowe, whose name curiously enough was very like that
of our captain (we used to call the one the Owe, the other the Ew), went
on board, accompanied by Commander Israel Pellew.  I was one of the
boat's crew.  We found, on getting up to her, that no small number of
shot had struck her hull, some going through her sides, others her
bulwarks, besides which she had received other damages.

Her people told us that they had had an action, which had lasted the
best part of three hours, with a French frigate of forty guns, the
_Semillante_; and that, though they had suffered sharply, the Frenchman
had been much more knocked about.

After engaging her for two hours, they had got up to within half a
cable's length of her, when, trimming their sails as well as they were
able, they ranged up alongside with double-shotted guns and gave her a
broadside.

Having shot ahead, they were going about to repeat their fire, when they
discovered to leeward a large ship under French colours.  The
_Semillante_, recognising the stranger, bore up to join her, when their
captain, seeing that he should have no chance of victory, considering
the way their ship had suffered, and that they might be taken, hauled
close to the wind, and, making all the sail they could carry, stood away
from their new enemy.

If it had not been for that, they declared they would have taken the
_Semillante_, and of this there seemed little doubt.  They had had two
seamen killed, and the master and nineteen seamen wounded.

We afterwards learned that the enemy had had twelve killed and twenty
wounded.

Considering the disparity of force, the action was a gallant one, and we
more than ever regretted that we had been prevented taking part in it;
for we should, we felt sure, have captured one or both of the French
ships.

As soon as the shot-holes in the _Venus_ had been stopped and her
rigging repaired, we made sail together in search of the enemy, we
hoping to have an opportunity of tackling the fresh ship, while our
consort attacked her old opponent.



CHAPTER SEVENTEEN.

IN SIGHT OF THE FOE--THE ENEMY GET CLEAR--RETURN TO ENGLAND--I LOSE MY
LETTER TOO LATE--WE AGAIN SAIL--ACTION WITH THE CLEOPATRA--TOUGH WORK
WITH BRITISH TARS--A LAST EFFORT--DEATH OF THE FRENCH CAPTAIN--ON BOARD
THE PRIZE--STEER A COURSE FOR THE ISLE OF WIGHT--OUR RECEPTION--MY HOPES
AND FEARS--LEAVE OR NO LEAVE?--WE RUN INTO PORTSMOUTH HARBOUR.

We continued our course under all sail to the eastward, and next evening
caught sight of two sail, which we took to be French, standing up
Channel.

We made chase, but lost sight of them in the night.  Next morning,
however, there they were, hull down, right ahead.  We continued the
pursuit along the French coast, but had the disappointment of seeing
them at last take refuge in Cherbourg harbour.  Knowing that they were
not likely to come out again, we stood across channel, the _Venus_
running into Plymouth to land her wounded men and repair damages, while
we stood on for Falmouth.

Again I was disappointed in not being able to despatch my letter, for
after we knew where the _Venus_ was bound for, no communication was held
with her.

I had got the letter written and addressed, but had not closed it, as I
wished to add a few more words at latest.  For safety's sake, I kept it
in my bag, as it might have got wetted and soiled in my pocket.  Until
we were off Falmouth, I did not know that we were to stand in.  I was
then too much engaged in shortening sail to get out my letter.  When I
was at last able to go below, I hurried to my bag, intending to add a
postscript, but what was my dismay to be unable to find it.

I felt again and again, and then turned out all my things, but could
nowhere discover the missing epistle.  I hastened to try and obtain
another sheet of paper from the purser's steward, but he was just then
too much engaged to attend to me, and directly after I got it my watch
was called and I had to return on deck.

The moment my watch was over, I went below and, as well as I could,
began writing.  It was no easy matter in the dim light and hubbub going
on around me.  I finished it, however, telling my dear wife all that had
occurred, how miserable I was at being separated from her, and my hopes,
while I remained in the Channel cruiser, of being allowed to get on
shore some day, even though we might be together but for a few short
hours.  The letter was closed and wafered; I rushed on deck with it, but
only to find that the last boat from the shore had shoved off, and the
next instant the hands were turned up to make sail.

I felt more inclined than I had ever done since my childhood to burst
into tears.  I think I should have done so from very vexation and
disappointment, had I not been obliged to hurry to my station, putting
my letter in my pocket as I did so.

It was trying, every one will allow, for all this time my dear wife
could not tell what had become of me.  My other friends might think me
dead, but I knew that she would never believe that to be the case until
she had strong evidence of the fact.  Even if she had, I felt sure
nothing would ever induce her to marry again.

The wind was fair up Channel.  Arriving nearly abreast of the Start
Point, we ran out to the southward, the captain hoping to fall in with
one of the two French frigates which a short time before we and the
_Venus_ had chased into Cherbourg.  One of the two was, as I before
said, the _Semillante_, the other was the _Cleopatra_.

On the morning of the 18th of June, just as day broke, the Start bearing
east by north, distant five or six leagues, we discovered a sail in the
south-east quarter, and immediately afterwards bore up in chase,
carrying all the canvas we could set.  As we approached the stranger, we
felt nearly sure that she was the very French frigate we were in search
of.  She was under all sail, some of us thought, for the purpose of
getting away.

"We shall have another long chase, and if that there craft has a fast
pair of heels, she'll get into Cherbourg and make us look foolish," said
Dick Hagger as we watched her.

We stood on, and soon had the satisfaction of discovering that we were
sailing faster than the stranger.  The captain and several of the other
officers were examining her through their glasses.

In a short time they formed the opinion that she was no other than the
_Cleopatra_ which had before got away from us, and such we afterwards
found to be the case.

A shout rose from our deck when we observed her haul up her foresail and
lower her topgallant sails, showing that she had made up her mind to
fight us.

In about two hours and a half, we got so near that we heard some one
from her quarter-deck hail us.

Captain Pellew, on this, not making out distinctly what was said,
shouted, "Ahoy! ahoy!" when our crew gave three cheers, and right hearty
ones they were, and shouted, "Long live King George."

As yet, not a shot had been fired, and it might have been supposed that
we were two friendly ships meeting.  On hearing our cheer, the French
captain--his name we afterwards heard was Mullon--came on to the
gangway, and waving his hat, exclaimed, "_Vive la Nation_!" on which his
crew tried to give three cheers, as we had done; but it was a very poor
imitation, I can vouch for it.

They had no one to lead them off, and they uttered shrieks rather than
cheers, which, when we gave them, came out with a hearty ringing sound.

We saw the French captain talking to his crew, and waving a cap of
liberty which he held in his hand.  He then gave it to one of the men,
who ran up the rigging and screwed it to the masthead.

"We'll soon bring that precious cap of yours down, my boys," cried Dick.

We were all this time at our guns, stripped to the waist, ready and
eager to begin the game; and if the Frenchmen behaved as they seemed
inclined to do, it would be, we felt sure, pretty sharp work.

The French captain now coming to the gangway, waved his hat.  Our
captain did the same, and passed the word along the deck that we were
not to fire until we saw him raise his hat to his head.

Eagerly watching for the signal, we stood on, gradually nearing the
French frigate, both of us running before the wind, until our foremost
larboard guns could be brought to bear on the starboard quarter of the
_Cleopatra_.

The captain raised his hat.  Almost before it was on his head, the
foremost gun was fired, the others being rapidly discharged in
succession.

We were not to have the game all on our own side, for the French ship at
once returned the compliment, and her shot came crashing on board of us.

We now, being within rather less than hailing distance of each other,
kept blazing away as fast as we could run our guns in and out.  We were
doing considerable damage to the Frenchman, we could sea, but we were
suffering not a little ourselves.  Two of our midshipmen had fallen,
killed while steadily going about their duty.  Soon afterwards I saw
another poor young fellow knocked over.  Then the boatswain, in the act
of raising his whistle to his mouth, had his head shot away; and some of
the men declared that they heard it sounding notwithstanding, as it flew
overboard.  I saw three or four of our jollies--as we called the
marines--drop while firing away from the forecastle.  A round shot also
striking our mainmast, I every instant expected to see it fall.

Though badly wounded, it was not cut through, however, and the carpenter
and his crew set to work immediately to fish it.

We had been engaged some twenty minutes or so, when we saw the
_Cleopatra_ haul up some eight points from the wind.

We followed her closely, having no intention of allowing her to escape,
if such was the expectation of her commander.

After blazing away some little time longer, down came her mizenmast;
directly afterwards her wheel was shot away.  She was thus rendered
unmanageable, though for some time her crew endeavoured to keep her on
her course by trimming sails; but our shot soon cutting away her braces,
she played round off, and came stem on towards us, her jibboom passing
between our fore and main masts, pressing so hard against the already
wounded mainmast that I expected every instant to see it fall,
especially as we had lost the main and spring stays.  It was a question
which would first go, our mainmast or the Frenchman's jibboom.

Fortunately for us, the latter was carried away, and our mainmast stood.
The moment our captain saw the stem of the _Cleopatra_ strike us,
supposing that the French were about to board, he shouted out,
"Boarders, repel boarders!"  But the Frenchmen hadn't the heart to do
it, and instead of their boarding us, we boarded them.

One party, led by our first lieutenant, rushed on the enemy's
forecastle; while another division, headed by the master, got through
his main-deck ports.

Although the _Cleopatra's_ jibboom had given way, her larboard
main-topmast studding-sail boom-iron had hooked on to the leech rope of
our main-topsail, and was producing so powerful a strain on the mast
that it seemed as if it could not possibly stand a minute longer.
Seeing this, a brave fellow named Burgess, a maintop man, sprang aloft,
and, in spite of the bullets aimed at him by some of the French marines
stationed aft, cut the leech rope from the end of the main-yard.

Our third lieutenant had in the meantime cut away our best bower anchor,
which had hooked on to the enemy's ship.

I was one of those who had got through the main-deck ports.  Following
our gallant master, we fought our way aft, the Frenchmen for some time
defending themselves bravely; but they could not resist the impetuosity
of our charge, our cutlasses slashing and hewing, and our pistols going
off within a few inches of their heads.  At last many of them began to
cry for quarter.

Although they numbered eighty more men than we did, most of them,
throwing down their weapons, leapt below, tumbling head over heels upon
each other.  The rest fled aft, and seeing we had won the day, made no
further resistance.  Remarking that the Frenchman's flag was still
flying, I sprang aft to the halyards, and down I hauled it, cheering
lustily as I did so, the cheer being taken up by the remaining crew of
the _Nymph_.

The _Cleopatra_ was ours.  Never did I witness a more fearful sight.
The decks fore and aft were slippery with gore, and covered with the
dead and dying.  During the short time we had been engaged, upwards of
sixty had been struck down who, not an hour before, full of health and
spirits, had attempted to reply to our cheer.  Among them, on one side
of the quarter-deck, lay the gallant Captain Mullon, surrounded by a
mass of gore, for a round shot had torn open his back and carried away
the greater part of his left hip.  In one hand he was holding a paper,
at which, strange as it may seem, he was biting away and endeavouring to
swallow.  I, with two other men, went up to him to ascertain what he was
about.  In the very act his hand fell, his jaw dropped, and there was
the paper sticking in his mouth.  He was dead.  It evidently, however,
was not the paper he intended to destroy, but, as it turned out, was his
commission; for in his right pocket was found the list of coast signals
used by the French, which, with his last gasp, he was thus endeavouring
to prevent falling into the hands of the British.

Without loss of time one hundred and fifty prisoners were removed on
board the _Nymph_, and just as the last had stepped on board the ships
separated.

The third lieutenant, who had been sent on board with a prize crew, at
once set to work to repair the damages which the _Cleopatra_ had
received, while all hands in the _Nymph_ were actively employed in the
game way.  When we came to look at our watches, we found that we had
dished up the enemy in just fifty minutes from the time the first shot
had been fired at her until her flag was hauled down.

"Pretty quick work," said Dick Hagger to me as we were working together
repairing the rigging.  "I told you the captain would be sharp about it;
he always is at all he undertakes."

On making up the butcher's bill, however, as the purser called it, we
found that although the Frenchmen out of three hundred and twenty men
and boys had lost sixty-three, we, out of our two hundred and forty, had
had no less than twenty-three killed and twenty severely wounded, making
fifty in all.  Of these, the gentlemen belonging to the midshipmen's
berth had suffered most severely, for four of them had been killed and
two wounded.  Of the senior officers, none had been killed; but the
second lieutenant had been wounded, as was the lieutenant of marines,
with six of his men.

As soon as sail could be got on the two frigates, we, to my great joy,
steered a course for the Isle of Wight.  I now felt more thankful than
ever that I had escaped, as there seemed every probability that I should
be able to see my dear wife, or at all events communicate with her.  As
soon as I went below, though I could with difficulty keep my eyes from
closing, I opened my letter and added a few lines describing the action,
and then placed it in my pocket, ready to send off on the first
opportunity.

In spite of the poor fellows suffering below, and the number of
shipmates we had lost, we felt very happy as with a fair breeze we
sailed in through the Needles, our well-won prize following in our wake.

Never did those high-pointed rocks look more white and glittering or the
downs more green and beautiful, while the blue sea sparkling in the
sunlight seemed to share our joy.  The people on the shore, as we passed
the little town of Yarmouth, waved to us, and threw up their hats, and
the flags from many a flagstaff flew out to the breeze.

As soon as we brought up at Spithead, I eagerly looked out for a boat
going to the shore, by which to send my letter, hoping to have it
delivered at once, instead of letting it go through the post office;
but, as it was late in the evening, no shore boats came off, and I had
to wait all the night, thinking how little my dear wife supposed I was
so near her.

I turned out at daybreak, before the hammocks were piped up, that I
might take a look at the spot where I thought she was living.  Suddenly
a sickness came over me.  What if she should have been taken ill when I
was so rudely torn from her!  Perhaps she had never recovered, and was
even now numbered among the dead.  I could scarcely refrain from jumping
overboard and trying to swim to Southsea beach.  It seemed so near, and
yet I knew that I could not do it.  Then I thought I would go boldly up
to the first lieutenant and tell him how treacherously I had been
carried off,--snatched, as it were, from the arms of my young wife,--and
ask him to give me leave for a few hours, promising faithfully to come
back at the time he might name.  Then I reflected that the ship was
short-handed, that we had the prisoners to guard, and that until she had
been brought up safe in Portsmouth harbour, every man would be required
for duty.

"It would be useless to ask him," I groaned out.  "He'll remember I'm a
pressed man, and would not trust me.  It is too common for men to break
their word and desert, indifferent to what others may suffer in
consequence.  No," I thought, "I'll try to send my letter first, and
then wait with all the patience I can muster until I can get an answer."

Before long the hands were turned up, and we all set about our usual
duties, washing down decks and giving them a double allowance of
holystoning, to try and get out more of the blood stains before,
visitors should come on board.

Scarcely was this work over than the order was given to get up the
anchor and make sail, as, tide and wind being favourable, we were to run
into harbour.

My heart bounded at the thought, I sprang with eagerness to my station,
the ship gathered way and, followed by our prize, we stood towards the
well-known entrance of Portsmouth harbour.



CHAPTER EIGHTEEN.

THE SHIP MADE SNUG--VISITORS COME ON BOARD--JERRY VINCENT--NEWS OF MY
WIFE, AND HOME--HOW MY UNCLE BECAME INDIGNANT--JERRY WISHES ME TO TAKE
FRENCH LEAVE--I REFUSE, I ASK FOR AND OBTAIN PERMISSION TO GO ASHORE--
MEETING WITH UNCLE KELSON--JERRY PREPARES MY WIFE FOR THE INTERVIEW--
TEMPTED TO DESERT--A HAPPY TIME--JERRY'S RECOLLECTIONS--ON BOARD THE
ARETHUSA--YARNS--A GHOST STORY--A SLIPPERY DECK--THE PIRATES' HEADS.

The _Nymph_ under all plain sail, our prize following in our wake,
glided on past Southsea Castle--the yellow beach, the green expanse of
the common, the lines of houses and cottages beyond the Postdown hills
rising in the distance, the batteries of Gosport and Portsmouth ahead,
the masts of numberless vessels of all sizes seen beyond them.

I waited at my station in the fore-top for the order to shorten sail I
cast many a glance towards the shore, where she whom I loved best on
earth was, I fancied, gazing at the two ships with thousands of other
spectators, little supposing that I was on board one of them.  As we
entered the harbour, we heard with joyous hearts the order given to
shorten sail.  The boatswain's pipe sounded shrilly; the topmen flew
aloft.  Never did a ship's crew pull and haul, and run out on the yards,
with greater alacrity to furl the canvas.

The water was covered with boats, the people standing up and waving and
cheering.  It was no easy matter to steer clear of them as we stood up
the harbour.  When rounding to off the dockyard, the anchor was dropped,
the cable running out like lightning, as if eager to do its duty and
help to bring us safe home.  The prize then massing us, brought up close
under our stern.

Scarcely was the cable stoppered, and the ship made snug, than hundreds
of boats pulled up alongside, those on board anxious to hear all about
the victory we had gained.

Among the first was a somewhat battered-looking wherry, with a little
wizened old man and a boy pulling.  The former, catching sight of me as
I stretched my neck through a port, throwing in his oar, uttered a shout
of astonishment, and then, with the agility of a monkey, quickly
clambered up the side by a rope I hove to him.

"What!  Will, Will, is it you yourself?" exclaimed Jerry Vincent,
wringing my hand and gazing into my face.  "We all thought you were far
away in the East Indies, and Mistress Kelson made up her mind that you'd
never come back from that hot region where they fry beefsteaks on the
capstan-head."

"But my wife--my wife! is she well?  Oh, tell me, Mr Vincent," I
exclaimed, interrupting him.  "She expected me to come back."

"She's well enough, if not so hearty as we'd be wishing; for, to say the
truth, the roses don't bloom in her cheeks as they used to do."

I cannot describe the joy and relief this reply brought to my heart.
The gratitude which I felt made me give old Jerry a hug, which well-nigh
pressed the breath out of his body.

"Why, Will, my boy, you are taking me for Mrs Weatherhelm," he
exclaimed, bursting into a fit of laughter.  "You'll soon see her, and
then you can hug her as long as you like, if you can get leave to go on
shore; if not, I'll go and bring her here as quick as I can pull back to
the point and toddle away over to Southsea."

"Oh, no, no; I wouldn't have her here on any account," I answered as I
thought of the disreputable characters who in shoals would soon be
crowding the decks, and who were even now waiting in the boats until
they were allowed to come on board.

"Tell me, Jerry, about my uncle and Aunt Bretta; how are they both?"

"Hearty, though the old gentleman did take on when you were carried away
by the pressgang.  If ever I saw him inclined to run a-muck, it was
then.  We had a hard matter, I can tell you, to prevent him from posting
off to London to see the First Lord of the Admiralty, to grapple him by
the throat if he did not send an order down at once to have you
liberated.  I don't know, indeed, what he'd have done; but at last we
persuaded him that if he made up his mind to proceed to such
extremities, the First Lord would either laugh in his face or order the
porters to kick him down stairs.  He in time came to that conclusion
himself, and so quieted down, observing that you would do your duty and
bear yourself like a man."

"I must try and get leave from the first lieutenant.  He could not
refuse me, when I tell him I was torn away from my wife, and I will
promise to be back again at any time he may name."

"You may try it, Will, but I'm not so sure about the matter.  If he
doesn't, why, I'd advise you to take French leave and slip into my
wherry as soon as it's dark.  I'll have a bit of canvas to cover you up,
and pull you ashore in a jiffey.  You can land at the yard of a friend
of mine, not far from the point, and disguise yourself in shore-going
toggery.  Every one knows me, and I'll get you through the gates; and if
I'm accused of helping you off, I'll stand the consequences.  It can
only be a few months in gaol, and though I'd rather have my liberty, I
can make myself happy wherever I am."

"No, Jerry, I would not let you run that risk for my sake on any
account; nor would I run it myself, much as I love my liberty and my
wife," I answered.  "You stay here and I'll go and ask the first
lieutenant at once; if he refuses me now, he'll be sure to give me leave
another day."

"Well go Will,--go," said Jerry.  "I'm much afraid that your first
lieutenant, unless he is very much unlike others I have known, won't
care a rap about your wife's feelings or yours.  He'll just tell you
it's the same tale half the ship's company have to tell, and if your
wife wants to see you, she may come aboard like the rest of the women."

Without waiting to hear more of what Jerry might say, I hurried aft, and
found the first lieutenant issuing his orders.

"What is it you want, my man?" he asked as I approached him, hat in
hand.

"Please, sir, I've got a young wife ashore at Southsea, and I was torn
away from her by a pressgang.  May I have leave to go and see her, and I
promise to be back at any time you may name."

"A pressed man!--no, no, my fine fellow, no pressed men can be allowed
out of the ship.  They may take it into their heads not to return at
all," he answered, turning away.

"Pardon me, sir," I said, "but I give you my word of honour that I will
come back as soon as you order me."

He glanced round with a look of astonishment, muttering, "Your word of
honour!  Who are you, my man?"

"I am a Shetlander, sir.  I have been brought up to keep my word.
Though I was pressed, I have done my duty.  It was I, sir, who hauled
down the flag of the _Cleopatra_ when we took her."

While he was speaking, a midshipman brought him a letter.  He opened it,
and glancing over the few lines it contained, his eye brightened.  I
stood watching, resolved not to be defeated.

As soon as he had folded the letter and put it into his pocket, I again
stepped up.

"May I go, sir?"  I said.

"Well," he answered, smiling, "you hauled down the Frenchman's flag.  I
am to have my reward, and you shall have yours.  You may go ashore, but
you must be back in three days.  All the crew will be required for
putting the ship to rights, to take the mainmast out of her and replace
it by a new one," and he ordered one of the clerks to put down my name
as having leave.

I found afterwards that the letter I saw him read contained an
intimation that he was forthwith to be made a commander.

In a few days the news was received that the great Earl of Chatham had
presented our captain and his brother to King George, who had been
pleased to knight our captain, and to make Commander Pellew a
post-captain.

No one else, that I know of, obtained any honours or rewards, though
each man and boy received his share of prize-money, and with that we had
no cause to complain.

However, to go back to the moment when the first lieutenant gave me
leave.  "Thank you, sir! thank you!"  I exclaimed, with difficulty
stopping myself from tossing up my hat for joy.

As soon as the words were out of his mouth, I rushed below, and, taking
the things I wanted out of my bag, I tumbled into Jerry's wherry.

The old man pulled as fast as he and his boy could lay their backs to
the oars.

"Stop, stop, my lad! wait for me!" he exclaimed as I jumped ashore and
was preparing to run to Southsea.  "You'll frighten your wife and send
her into `high strikes' if you pounce down upon her as you seem inclined
to do.  Wait till I go ahead and tell her to be looking out for you.
You won't lose much time, and prevent a great deal of mischief, though I
can't move along quite at the rate of ten knots an hour, as you seem
inclined to do."

I at once saw the wisdom of Jerry's advice, and waited, though somewhat
impatiently, until he and his boy had secured the boat.

"Come along, Will, my lad," he said at length, stepping ashore; "I'll
show you what my old legs can do," and off he set.

We soon crossed the High Street, and made our way through the gate
leading out of the town on to Southsea Common.

The village of Southsea was but a small, insignificant place in those
days.  We had not gone far when we caught sight of a person with a
wooden leg stumping along at a good rate some way ahead.  Although his
back was towards us, I at once felt sure that he was Uncle Kelson.

"All right!" cried Jerry, "that's Mr Kelson.  He always carries a press
of sail.  It couldn't have been better.  I'll go on and make him
heave-to, and just tell him to guess who's come back; but I don't think
there's much fear of his getting the `high strikes' even though he was
to set eyes on you all of a sudden."

I brought up for a moment so as to let Jerry get ahead of me.

"Heave-to, cap'en! heave-to!  I ain't a thundering big enemy from whom
you've any cause to run," I heard him shouting out.  "Just look round,
and maybe you'll see somebody you won't be sorry to see, I've a notion."

My uncle, hearing Jerry's voice, turned his head, and instantly catching
sight of me, came running along with both his arms outstretched, his
countenance beaming all over like a landscape lighted up by sunshine.  I
was somewhat fearful lest he should fall, but I caught him, and we shook
hands for a minute at least, his voice almost choking as he exclaimed,
"I am glad!  I am glad!  Bless my heart, how glad I am!  And your wife,
Will?  You'll soon make her all to rights.  Not that she is ill, but
that she's been pining for you, poor lass; but no wonder: it's a way the
women have.  Glad I hadn't a wife until I was able to live on shore and
look after her.  Come along! come along!" and he took my arm, almost
again falling in his eagerness to get over the ground, which here and
there was soft and sandy, and full of holes in other places.

"Please, Mr Kelson, as I was a-telling of your nevvy, it won't do just
to come down on the lass like a thunder-clap, or it may send her over on
her beam-ends," said Jerry as he ranged up alongside, puffing and
blowing with his exertions.  "Just you stop and talk to him when we get
near the house, and let me go ahead and I'll break the matter gently,
like a soft summer shower, so that they'll be all to rights and ready
for him when he comes."

Jerry, I guessed, wanted to undertake the matter himself, suspecting
that my uncle would, notwithstanding his good intentions, blurt out the
truth too suddenly.

I therefore answered for him, that we would wait till Jerry had gone to
the house and summoned us, though I had to exert no small amount of
resolution to stop short of the door when we got in sight of it.

Jerry ran on at first, but went more deliberately as he approached the
door, when, knocking, he was admitted.

He must be spinning a tremendous long yarn, I thought, for it seemed to
me as if he had kept us half an hour, though I believe it was only two
or three minutes, when at length he appeared and beckoned.

"Come along, Will! come along, my boy!" cried my uncle, keeping hold of
my arm; but, no longer able to restrain my impatience, I sprang forward
and, brushing past old Jerry, rushed into the house.

There was my Margaret, with Aunt Bretta by her side to support her; but
she needed no support except my arm.  After a little time, though still
clinging with her arms round my neck, she allowed me to embrace my good
aunt.  My uncle soon joined us, and Old Jerry poked his head in at the
door, saying with a knowing nod, "All right, I see there's been no `high
strikes.'  I shall be one too many if I stop.  Good-day, ladies;
good-day, friends all.  I'll look in to-morrow, or maybe the next
evening; but I shall have plenty of work in the harbour, taking off
people to see the prize and the ship which captured her."

"Stop, Jerry, stop!" cried my uncle; "have a glass of grog before you
go?"

"No, thankee, cap'en," answered Jerry.  "I must keep a clear head on my
shoulders.  If I once takes a taste, maybe I shall want another as I
pass the Blue Posteses."

Uncle Kelson did not press the point, and the old man took his
departure.

Of course it required a long time to tell all that had happened to me,
but I need not describe those happy days on shore.  My dear wife would
scarcely allow me for a moment to be out of her sight.  She once asked
the question, "Must you go back?"

"I have given my word that I would," I answered.  I knew full well what
her heart wished, though she had too much regard for my honour even to
hint at the possibility of my breaking my word.

Aunt Bretta and Uncle Kelson were of the same way of thinking; but old
Jerry, who paid us a visit the second evening according to his promise,
looked at the matter in a very different light.

"Now, Will, I've been thinking over this here business of yours every
day since I first clapped eyes on you, and I've made up my mind that as
they had no right to press you aboard that 'ere frigate, you have every
right to make yourself scarce.  I've got the whole affair cut and dry.
There's a friend of mine who is as true as steel.  He's got a light
cart, and we intend to bundle you in soon after dark, and drive away,
maybe to Chichester, and maybe to some country place where you can lie
snug till the frigate has sailed, and the hue and cry after you is over.

"It's all as smooth as oil.  There'll only be one man less aboard, as
there would be if a shot was to take your head off; so it can't make any
odds to the captain and officers.  And let me tell you, you'll have a
different set over you; for Mr Morris the first lieutenant, has got his
promotion, Mr Lake is too badly wounded to allow him to return on board
for some time, and the captain is sure to get a better ship; so you
don't know what double-fisted fellows you'll get in their places.

"Follow my advice, Will; escape from all the tyranny and floggings, for
what you can tell, that are in store for you.  Run, and be a free man."

"No, no, Mr Vincent; the advice you give is well meant, but I dare not
even ask my husband to do as you propose," answered Margaret in a firm
voice, though she looked very sad as she spoke.  "He would not be a
happy man if he broke his word, and he has given that word to return.
Even I can say, `Go back to your duty.'"

"So do I," said Uncle Kelson, "though, if he had not given his word, I
don't know what I might have advised."

"We can all pray for him," said Aunt Bretta, "and I trust that we shall
see him again before long, when he is free and can with a clean
conscience remain with us."

"I thank you, Jerry, for your good wishes," I put in.  "It cannot be,
you see.  I wish I could get away from the ship; but until I am paid
off, and properly discharged, though I was pressed, I am bound to
remain; so if you care for me, do not say anything more on the subject."

"Well, well, if it must be, so it must," answered Jerry with a deep
sigh.  "Some people's notions ain't like other people's notions, that's
all I've got to say; and now I think it's time for me to be tripping my
anchor."

"No, no, not until you have wetted your whistle," said Uncle Kelson,
beginning to mix a glass of grog.

The old man's eyes glistened as he resumed his seat, replacing his hat
under the chair; and putting his hand out to take the tumbler which my
uncle pushed towards him across the table, and sipping it slowly, he
looked up and said:

"I forgot to tell you that Sir Edward Pellew, as we must now call him
since he got the sword laid across his shoulders by the king, has been
appointed to the command of the _Arethusa_, a fine new frigate which
will make a name for herself, if I mistake not, as the old one did.  You
remember her, cap'en, don't you!  It was her they writ the song about,"
and he began singing:--

  "Come all ye jolly sailors bold
  Whose hearts are cast in honour's mould,
  While English glory I unfold:
  Huzza! to the _Arethusa_;
  She is a frigate tight and brave
  As ever stemmed the dashing wave,
  Her men are staunch to their fav'rite launch.
  And when the foe shall meet our fire,
  Sooner than strike, we'll all expire
  On board of the _Arethusa_!

  "'Twas with the spring fleet she went out,
  The English Channel to cruise about,
  When four French sail, in show so stout,
  Bore down on the _Arethusa_.
  The famed _Belle Poule_ straight ahead did lie,
  The _Arethusa_ seemed to fly,
  Not a sheet or a tack or a brace did she slack,
  Though the Frenchman laughed and thought it stuff,
  But they knew not the handful of men how tough
  On board of the _Arethusa_!

  "On deck five hundred men did dance,
  The stoutest they could find in France;
  We with two hundred did advance,
  On board of the _Arethusa_!
  Our captain hail'd the Frenchman, `Ho!'
  The Frenchman then cried out `Hullo!'
  `Bear down, d'ye see, to our Admiral's lee.'
  `No, no,' says the Frenchman; `that can't be.'
  `Then I must lug you along with me,'
  Says the saucy _Arethusa_!

  "The fight was off the Frenchman's land.
  We forced them back upon their strand,
  For we fought till not a stick would stand
  Of the gallant _Arethusa_.
  And now we've driven the foe ashore,
  Never to fight with Britons more,
  Let each fill a glass to his fav'rite lass,
  A health to our captain and officers true,
  And all who belong to the jovial crew
  On board of the _Arethusa_!"

"I mind," continued Jerry after another sip at his grog, "that she
carried thirty-two guns, and was commanded by Captain Marshall.  It was
in the year 1778, just before the last war broke out.  We hadn't come to
loggerheads with the mounseers, though we knew pretty well that it
wouldn't be long before we were that.  We and two other frigates sailed
down Channel with a fleet of twenty sail of the line under Admiral
Keppel.

"When off the Lizard, on the 17th of June, we made out two frigates and
a schooner to the southward.  On seeing them, and guessing that they
were French, the Admiral ordered us and the _Milford_ to go in chase.
The strangers separated, the _Milford_ frigate and _Hector_, a
seventy-four, following the other ship, which turned out to be the
_Licorne_, and took her; while the _Albert_ cutter pursued the schooner,
and captured her by boarding after a sharp struggle.  We meantime alone
followed the other stranger, which was the French forty gun frigate
_Belle Poule_.

"On getting within hailing distance, our captain, in the politest manner
possible, invited the French captain to sail back with him to the
English fleet.

"`No, no,' answered the French skipper, `that it cannot be, seeing I am
bound elsewhere.'

"`Then, mounseer, I must obey orders and make you come with me,' says
our captain just as politely as before, and without further ado he
ordered the crew of the foremost main-deck gun to fire a shot across the
French ship's bows.  It was the first shot fired during the war.  We in
return got the Frenchman's whole broadside crashing aboard us.

"We then began pounding away at each other as close as we could get.  It
seemed wonderful to me that we were not both of us blown out of the
water.  Our men were falling pretty thickly, some killed and many more
wounded, while our sails and rigging were getting much cut up.

"You see the enemy had twenty guns on a side to our sixteen, but we
tossed ours in and out so sharply that we made up for the difference.
For two mortal hours we kept blazing away, getting almost as much as we
gave, till scarcely a stick could stand aboard us; but our captain was
not the man to give in, and while he could he kept at it.  At last, our
rigging and canvas being cut to pieces, and our masts ready to fall, so
that we could not make sail, the _Belle Poule_ having had enough of it,
shot ahead, and succeeded in getting under the land where we were unable
to follow her.

"The song says that we drove her ashore; but though we did no exactly do
that, we knocked her well about, and she had forty-eight men and
officers killed and fifty wounded.  As it was, as I have said, the first
action in the old war, it was more talked about than many others.  We
lost our captain, not from his being killed, but from his getting a
bigger ship, and Captain Everitt was appointed in his stead.

"The old _Arethusa_, after this, continued a Channel cruiser.  We had
pretty sharp work at different times, chasing the enemy, and capturing
their merchantmen, and cutting-out vessels from their harbours; but we
had no action like the one the song was wrote about.

"At last, in the March of the next year, when some fifty leagues or more
off Brest, we made out a French frigate inshore of us.  Instead of
standing bravely out to fight the saucy _Arethusa_, she squared away her
yards and ran for that port.  We made all sail in chase, hoping to come
up with her before she could get into harbour.  We were gaining on her,
and were expecting that we should have another fight like that with the
_Belle Poule_, when, as we came in sight of the outer roads of Brest,
what should we see but a thumping seventy-four, which, guessing what we
were, slipping her cable, stood out under all sail to catch us.

"We might have tackled the seventy-four alone, with a good breeze; but
we well knew that if we did not up stick and cut, we should either be
knocked to pieces or be sent to the bottom; so our captain, as in duty
bound, ordered us to brace up the yards and try to make the best of our
way out of danger.  We might have done so had there been a strong breeze
blowing, but we could not beat the ship off shore as fast as we wanted.

"Night came down upon us, and a very dark night it was.  We could not
see the land, but we knew it was under our lee, when presently thump
goes the ship ashore.  Our captain did his best to get her off, but all
our attempts were of no use.  The saucy _Arethusa_ was hard and fast on
the rocks.

"The word was given to lower the boats.  I was one of the first cutter's
crew.  We had got her into the water, and the master, as good a seaman
as ever stepped, came with us, and two young midshipmites.

"`We'll not be made prisoners if we can help it, lads,' said the master.
`Here, lower down these two casks of bread, and this breaker of water.'

"We had no time to get more, and we hoped the other boats would follow
our example, but they would have to be sharp about it.  We got round
from under the lee of the ship, against which the surf was already
breaking heavily, and pulled away to the windward out to sea.  You may
be sure we pulled as men do who are pulling for their lives and liberty.
If we had been a minute later, we shouldn't have done it.  No other
boats that we could see followed us.  Next morning we were twenty miles
off shore.

"We felt very downcast at the thoughts that we had lost our little
frigate, but were thankful to have got away from a French prison.  We
learned afterwards that the captain, fearing for the lives of his
people, sent the other boats at once to the shore, and establishing a
communication, managed to land the whole crew, who were forthwith made
prisoners.  It was fortunate that we had the biscuit and water, or we
should have been starved to death; for it was a week or more before we
fell in with an English homeward-bound West Indiaman, when we had not a
gill of liquid left, and not a biscuit a-piece.  I learned the value of
water at that time, but I have always held to the opinion that a little
good rum mixed with it adds greatly to its taste," and Jerry winked at
my uncle with one eye, and with the other looked at his tumbler, which
was empty.

Uncle Kelson mixed him another glass.

"Ladies both," he said, looking round at my aunt and Margaret, "here's
to your health, and may Will be with you a free man before many months
are over.  Maybe you haven't heard of the ghost we had on board the old
_Cornwall_, some years before the time I am speaking of?  If you
haven't, I'll tell you about it.  Did you ever have a ghost aboard any
ship you sailed in, cap'en?  Maybe not.  They don't seem to show
themselves now-a-days, as they used to do.

"Dick Carcass was the boatswain of the old _Cornwall_ when I served
aboard her.  He was a tall spare man with high shoulders and a peculiar
walk, so that it was impossible to mistake him meet him where you might.
He was also a prime seaman, and had a mouth that could whistle the
winds out of conceit.  If he did use a rope's-end on the backs of the
boys sometimes, it was all for their own good.  We were bound out one
winter time to Halifax, Nova Scotia.  It isn't the pleasantest time of
the year to be sailing across the North Atlantic.  We had had a pretty
long passage, with westerly gales, which kept all hands employed.  The
boatswain was seldom off deck, and a rough life he had of it.

"At last, what with the hard work he had to do, and having been in
hospital too before we sailed, he fell sick, and one night the doctor
came out of his cabin and told us he was dead.  Now our captain was a
kind-hearted man; and as he expected to be in port in two or three days,
instead of sewing the boatswain up in a hammock and lowering him
overboard, he gave notice that he should keep him to give him decent
Christian burial on shore, and let the parson pray over him, for, d'ye
see, we had none aboard.  To pay him every respect, a sentry was placed
at the door of his cabin in the cockpit.  He had been dead three or four
days, and we had expected to get into port in two or three at the
furthest; so as the wind continued foul, and might hold in the same
quarter a week longer, the captain, thinking the bo'sun wouldn't keep
much longer, at last determined to have him buried the next morning.
That night I had just gone below, and was passing close to the sentry,
when he asked me if I couldn't make his lantern burn brighter.  He was a
chum of mine, d'ye see.  I took it down from the hook where it was
hanging, and was trying to snuff it, when all of a sudden the door of
Mr Carcass's cabin opened with a bang like a clap of thunder, and, as
I'm a living man, I heard the bo'sun's voice, for you may be sure I knew
it well, shout out:--

"`Sentry, give us a light, will ye!'

"Somehow or other--maybe I nipped the wick too hard--the candle went
out, and down fell the lantern.  I did not stop to pick it up, nor did
the sentry who got the start of me, and off we set, scampering away like
rats with a terrier at their tails, till we gained the upper step of the
cockpit ladder.  We then stopped and listened.  There were steps
thundering along the deck.  They came to the very foot of the ladder.
Presently we heard something mounting them slowly.  The sentry moved on.
So did I, but looking round I saw as surely as I sit here, the head of
old Dick Carcass's ghost rising slowly above the deck.

"We did not stop to see more of him, but walked away for'ard.  Again we
stopped, when there he was, standing on the deck--eight feet high he
looked at least--rubbing his eyes, which glared out at us like balls of
fire.

"We made for the fore-ladder, and there thought to get out of its way by
moving aft as fast as our legs could carry us.  Presently, as I looked
over my shoulder, I saw the ghost come up the ladder on to the
forecastle.  The men there saw him too, for they scuttled away on either
side, and left him to walk alone.  For five minutes or more he kept
pacing up and down the deck, just as he was accustomed to do when he was
alive.  By this time the men were crowding aft, the sentry among them,
when the lieutenant of the watch, thinking maybe there was going to be a
mutiny, or something of that sort, sings out and axes what we were
about.

"`Sir,' answers the sentry, who was bold enough now; `there's the ghost
of Mr Carcass a walking the fo'c'stle.'

"`The ghost of Mr Carcass be hanged! he is quiet enough in his cabin,
poor man.  What are all you fools thinking about?' says the lieutenant.
`Be off for'ard with you.'

"`He is there, sir! he is there!  It is the bo'sun's ghost,' we all sung
out, one after the other, none of us feeling inclined to go near him.

"`Blockheads!' cried the lieutenant, beginning to get angry.

"`It is him, sir; it is him,' cried others.  `He's got on the hat and
monkey jacket he always wears.'

"The lieutenant now became very angry, and ordering us out of the way,
boldly steps forward.  When, however, he gets abreast of the barge, he
stops, for there he sees as clearly as we did the bo'sun's tall figure
pacing the deck, with his hands behind his back, looking for all the
world just as he had done when he was alive.

"Now the lieutenant was as brave a man as ever stepped, but he did not
like it, that was clear; still he felt that go on he must, and so on he
went until he got up to the foremast, and then he sings out slowly, as
if his words did not come up readily to his mouth:--

"`Mr Car-car-car-cass, is that you?'

"`Sir!' said the ghost, turning round and coming aft.

"`Mr Car-car-car-cass, is that you?' again sings out the lieutenant.

"`Sir!' answers the boatswain, and he came nearer.

"The lieutenant stepped back, so did we, all the whole watch tumbling
over on each other.  Still facing for'ard, the gallant lieutenant kept
retreating, and the ghost kept coming on slowly, as ghosts always do,
I'm told, though I can't say as I've had much experience with those sort
of gentry.  At last the ghost sings out:--

"`Pardon me, Mr Pringle, what's the matter? have all the people gone
mad?'

"`Who are you?' asked the lieutenant.

"`I am Richard Carcass, bo'sun of this here ship, to the best of my
knowledge, and was never anybody else, sir.'

"`What! ain't you dead?' says the lieutenant.

"`Not that I knows on,' answers the ghost.  `I was alive when it struck
eight bells in the middle watch, and its now only just gone two.  I take
it it is the morning watch, for I heard it strike just before that
stupid sentry put out his light, and for some reason or other I couldn't
make out, took to his heels.'

"`Why, the doctor said you were dead,' says the lieutenant.

"`The doctor, then, doesn't know a dead bo'sun from a live one,'
answered Mr Carcass.

"`Well, I wish you'd let him see you, and hear what he's got to say on
the subject;' and he ordered the midshipman of the watch to call the
doctor, who came on deck, grumbling not a little at being roused out
from his berth.  When he saw the bo'sun he seemed mighty pleased, and
taking him by the hand told us all that he was as alive as ever he was,
and advised him to turn in again and get some sleep, as the night was
cold, and he was on the sick list.

"Well, ladies, that was the only ghost I ever saw.  He was not dead
either, but had been in a sort of trance, and when he heard two bells
strike, not knowing how many days had passed since he had gone to sleep,
he called for a light, but not getting it, he dressed in the dark and
came on deck, thinking he ought to be there."

Jerry spun other yarns before he took his leave.  He was once, he
declared, on board a trader bound out from Ireland to the West Indies
with butter and cheese, "The _Jane and Mary_, that was her name," he
continued.  "We were off the coast of Saint Domingo, almost becalmed,
when we made out a couple of suspicious--looking craft sweeping off
towards us.  That they were pirates we had no doubt.  At that time those
sort of gentry used to cut the throats of every man on board if there
was the slightest resistance.

"Our skipper, Captain Dillon, was a determined fellow, and had proved
himself a good seaman during the passage.

"`Lads,' he sang out, `do you wish to be taken and hove overboard to
feed the sharks, or will you try to save the ship if those scoundrels
come up to us?  I'll promise you we'll beat them if they venture
aboard.'

"We all answered that we were ready to stick by him, for I believe there
was not one of us that did not think we should be dead men before the
day was an hour older.  The mates promised also to fight to the last.

"`Be smart then, my lads, get up some of the cargo from the hold.'  We
soon had a dozen butter casks hoisted up, knocked in their ends, and
payed the decks, and sides, and ropes, and every part of the ship over
with the butter.  We chucked our shoes below, and got the cutlasses,
boarding pikes, and pistols ready.  In a few minutes the deck was so
slippery, that a man, unless without his shoes, could not stand upon it.
We were all ready, with our cutlasses at our sides and the pikes handy,
to give the scoundrels a warm reception.  Meantime the _Jane and Mary_
did her best, as far as the breeze would help her, to keep moving
through the water.

"The pirates crept up, and kept firing away at us, one on one quarter
and one on the other.

"We answered them with the few guns we carried, though each of them had
nearly twice as many as we had, while their decks were crowded with men.
Presently they ranged up alongside, and both boarded together, a score
or more villainous-looking rascals leaping down on our decks, expecting
to gain an easy victory; but they never made a greater mistake in their
lives, and it was the last most of them had the chance of making.  The
moment their feet touched our deck, over they fell flat on their faces,
while we with our cutlasses, rushing in among them, killed every
mother's son of their number.  Others following, shouting, shrieking,
and swearing, met the same fate; when the rest of the pirates, seeing
what was happening, though not knowing the cause, but fancying, I
suppose, that we had bewitched them, sheered off, and the breeze
freshening we stood away, leaving the two feluccas far astern.  Forty
men lay dead on our decks, and not one of us was hurt.

"`Heave the carcases overboard, and swab up the decks,' cried our
skipper, as coolly as if nothing had happened.

"We had a pretty job to clean the ship afterwards, but we didn't mind
the trouble, seeing that we had saved our lives, and the skipper was
well content to lose the dozen casks of batter which had served us so
good a turn.

"That skipper of ours had no small amount of humour in his composition,
though it was somewhat of a grim character.  Before we hove the bodies
overboard, he ordered us to cut off the heads of those who had fallen,
forty in number, and to pickle them in the empty butter casks, lest, as
he said, his account of the transaction might be disbelieved by the good
people of Jamaica.

"We arrived safely in Kingston harbour, where the merchants and a lot of
other persons came on board.  Many of our visitors, when they heard the
skipper describe the way we had beaten off the pirates, looked
incredulous.

"`Seeing is believing,' says he, and he ordered the casks which had been
kept on deck to be opened.  It was mightily amusing to watch the way our
visitors looked at each other, when our skipper forthwith produced the
gory heads, among which was that of the captain of one of the piratical
craft and that of the first mate of the other.

"Some of them started back with horror, as well they might, for the
heads looked dreadful enough as they were pulled out in succession.

"`There's the whole score,' says the skipper, as we arranged them along
each side of the quarter-deck.  `Now, gentlemen, what have you got to
say about my veracity?'

"After that, you may be sure the captain's word was never doubted.  The
heads were then hove overboard, and it was said that Old Tom, the big
shark which used to cruise about between Port Royal and Kingston, got
the best part of them for his supper.  I'm pretty sure he did, because
for many a day after that he was not seen, and some thought he had died
of indigestion by swallowing those pirates' heads.  Howsomdever, he
wasn't dead after all, as poor Bob Rattan, an old messmate of mine,
found out to his cost.  Just about two months had gone by, and Bob one
evening was trying to swim from his ship to the shore, when Old Tom
caught, him by the leg and hauled him to the bottom.  His head was
washed ashore three days afterwards, bitten clean off, a certain proof
that Old Tom had swallowed the pirates' heads, and not finding them
agree with him, had left poor Bob's alone.

"Taking in a cargo of sugar we sailed homewards; but I can tell you,
till we were well clear of the West Indies we didn't feel comfortable,
lest we should fall in again with the pirates, when, as we had no butter
aboard to grease our decks, the chances were, we knew, that in revenge
they would have cut all our throats and sent the ship to the bottom.

"You see, ladies, that a man may go through no end of dangers, and yet
come scot free out of them.  So I hope will our friend here, and have
many a yarn to spin, and that I may be present to hear them, although I
don't think he'll beat mine; and now, as it's getting late, I'll wish
you good evening;" and Jerry, taking his hat from under the chair, shook
hands with all round.

"You won't take my advice then, Will?" he whispered, as he came to me.
"Well, well, it's a pity.  Good-night, lad, good-night, I'll see you
aboard the _Nymph_;" and he hurried away across the common towards the
beach where he had left his boat, intending to pass the night under her,
as was his general custom in the summer.



CHAPTER NINETEEN.

A SAD PARTING--I SET OUT TO REJOIN MY SHIP--HOW OUR FLEET WAS MANNED--
SCENE AT THE POINT, PORTSMOUTH--AN EXPLOSION--A NARROW ESCAPE--I AM
TRANSFERRED WITH DICK HAGGER AND OTHERS TO THE CULLODEN, 74--A BAD
CREW--INTELLIGENCE RECEIVED OF THE SAILING OF THE FRENCH FLEET--WE
SAIL--LOOKING OUT FOR THE ENEMY--A GENERAL CHASE--LORD HOWE'S VICTORY OF
THE FIRST OF JUNE--BEHAVIOUR OF THE CULLODEN--RETURN TO ENGLAND--
DISCONTENT ON BOARD OUR SHIP--THE LORD MAYOR'S MEN--MY SIGNATURE IS
OBTAINED--WHAT CAME OF IT--MUTINY BREAKS OUT--AMONG THE MUTINEERS.

The time for which I had obtained leave came soon, far too soon, to
amend.  It seemed as if I had been but a few hours with my dear wife,
and now I must part again from her for an indefinite period, how long I
could not tell.  I knew that while I had health and strength, no sum
could obtain my discharge.  Men were wanted for the service, and every
effort was made to get them, while strict watch was kept on those who
had been obtained.  Pressgangs were sent on shore every day all along
the coast where there was a chance of picking up men.  Agents even
visited the mines, and people who had been working under ground all
their lives, were suddenly transferred to the deck of a man-of-war, and
very fine seamen they made too, for they were hardy, intelligent
fellows, and liked the change, and no wonder.

Captain Nelson, and other officers, had thus picked up from the Cornish
mines a number of prime seamen.  However, as I was saying, the time came
for me to part from my wife and my kind uncle and aunt.  I would not let
Margaret accompany me on board, though she wanted to do so, for the
reason I have before stated.  She and Uncle Kelson, however, came with
me down to the Point, where Jerry had promised to be on the look-out to
take me on board.  Even there the scene was such as it must have pained
any right-minded woman to witness.

Drunken seamen and marines, and women, and Jews, and crimps, all crowded
together so that it was difficult to get through the surging mass of
human beings, many of them fighting and wrangling and swearing, while
the Jews were trying to sell their trumpery wares to such of the poor
ignorant sailors as had any money left in their pockets, and the more
sober of the men were endeavouring to lift their tipsy shipmates into
the boats.

I led Margaret back up the street; "Go home with uncle, dearest," I
said, "I cannot be happy with you in this fearful crowd.  The sooner you
are out of Portsmouth the better."

Uncle Kelson took her arm, and led her along the street, while I hurried
back to the Point, for I had not many minutes to spare, as I would not
have been a moment behind-hand on any account.

I remember seeing an old Irish woman with a pipe in her mouth, seated on
one of several casks placed close together in the middle of the Point.
I fought my way through the crowd, and seeing Jerry's wherry, jumped
into her, begging him at once to shove off as I was late.  He and his
boy pulled away; but scarcely had we got half a dozen fathoms from the
Point when there was a dreadful explosion.  Flames burst up from the
midst of the crowd, arms and legs and human bodies were lifted into the
air, while others were shot out into the water or on board the boats,
while fearful shrieks and screams rose from the scene of the
catastrophe.  Almost immediately afterwards not a single person could be
seen standing on the Point, but many lay there dead, or fearfully
mangled.  Boats full of people were pulling away from the spot, and the
rest of the crowd were flying up towards the street.

It turned out that the old Irishwoman I had noticed seated on the cask,
not dreaming that it contained gunpowder, had shaken out the ashes from
her pipe on it.  How the casks of powder came to be left there is more
than I can say.  All I know is, that great carelessness prevailed in all
departments of the navy in those days, and it's only a wonder that more
accidents did not occur.

Numbers of persons were killed by the explosion, others were dreadfully
mutilated, and scarcely a scrap of the old woman herself could be
discovered.  I felt grateful to Heaven that my dear wife and uncle had
escaped.  Had they come on with me, we should have been close to the
spot and among the sufferers.  I could not go back, though Jerry wanted
to do so, as I had to be on board by noon, and there were but a few
minutes to get alongside the ship.

I reported myself to the first lieutenant as having come on board.

"Very well," he said, and just then it struck eight bells.  I had not
been long on board when I heard it reported that the _Nymph_ was to go
into dock, and that the crew would be turned over to other ships wanting
hands.  It was but too true, and I found that Dick Hagger, I, and others
were to be transferred to the _Culloden_, 74, forming one of the Channel
fleet, under Earl Howe, and then commanded by Captain Schomberg.  She
was soon ready for sea, and we went out to Spithead, where the ships
were rapidly collecting.  I had never seen so many men-of-war together,
for there were thirty-four sail of the line, eight frigates, and smaller
vessels.

No leave was granted, so I could not get on shore, for we were to be
ready to start at a moment's notice, directly intelligence should arrive
from the numerous cruisers off the French coast that the Brest fleet had
put to sea.

We had a mixed crew, and a bad lot many of them were--jailbirds,
smugglers, who were good, however, as far as seamanship was concerned,
longshore men, and Lord Mayor's men, picked up from the London streets,
the only difference between the two last being that the latter had tails
to their coats,--one slip of the tailor made them both akin,--and we
dubbed them K.H.B., or king's hard bargains.  Then we had a lot of
ordinary seamen, and very ordinary they were.  We A.B.'s were in the
minority by a long chalk.  Lastly came the marines; they were mostly
steady men, and, as they had been at sea before, were better sailors
than the ordinary seamen, besides which they knew their duty and did it.
Without them I am very sure the crew could never have been kept under.

Flogging was the order of the day; scarcely a morning passed but we had
two or three triced up, and the boatswain's mates swore that they had
never worn out so many cats-o'-nine-tails before.

I don't know that it was the officers' fault, for they knew no better
way of maintaining discipline.  It was because some hundreds of men, few
of whom had ever served on board a man-of-war, were brought together.

I had been on board some days when I caught sight of a face I knew too
well; it was that of Charles Iffley.  I was certain it was him, though
when I inquired I found that he had entered under the name of Charles
Trickett.

I saw him start when he first recognised me, but he kept out of my way,
and I had no wish to speak to him.  His presence, I feared, boded me no
good.  Whether his feelings of revenge were satisfied, I could not tell;
but if not, I was very sure that he would wreak them on my head if he
could.

During the early spring, merchant vessels of all sizes, but mostly large
ones, kept coming in until nearly a hundred were assembled, when the
whole fleet, including men-of-war, amounted to one hundred and
forty-eight sail,--three being of a hundred guns, four of ninety-eight,
while a large number were seventy-fours.  The merchantmen were bound out
either to the West Indies or Newfoundland, and some of the men-of-war
were intended to convoy them.

At last, on the 2nd of May, a frigate came in with the news that the
Brest fleet had put to sea.  We immediately made sail from Saint Helen's
and stood down Channel.

Besides looking out for the French fleet, which Lord Howe had determined
to attack, we had to see the merchantmen clear of the Channel, and
besides that to try and intercept a French convoy coming from America,
said to consist of three hundred and fifty sail, laden with provisions
and stores, the produce of the West Indian islands, of which the French
Republic stood greatly in need.

On arriving off the Lizard, eight of the large ships and six of the
frigates were detached to see the merchantmen clear of the latitude of
Cape Finisterre, while the Channel fleet, thus reduced to twenty-six
sail of the line, besides seven frigates and smaller vessels, stood for
Ushant.  Before long the frigates made the signal that the French fleet
were at sea.

We after this kept cruising up and down looking for them, though our
Admiral knew that many of the ships were far larger than ours, but our
numbers were equal.

To describe all that took place is more than I can do.  I know that it
was on the 28th of May that the Admiral heard through some prizes which
had been taken that the French fleet of which he was in search were
close to us.

Soon after sunrise we made them out bearing down towards us with
topgallant sails set.  The signal was at once thrown out by the Admiral
to prepare for battle.  It was a fine sight to see them coming down upon
us; but though there was a strong breeze blowing and a heavy sea on,
they did not near us as fast as we had expected, and we were ordered to
go to dinner.  It was the last many a fine fellow on board some of the
ships was to take, but I do not believe that any one, on account of the
thoughts of the coming battle, ate a worse meal than usual.

Greatly to our disappointment, a short time after we returned on deck,
the French fleet were seen making off, but our spirits revived when Lord
Howe threw out the signal for a general chase, followed, almost
immediately afterwards, by another to engage the enemy's ships as soon
as we should arrive up with them.  Only our leading ships were, however,
able to do so, and we saw them blazing away at the Frenchmen till night
closed in on us.

The _Audacious_ got most fighting, and being terribly knocked about, was
nearly taken by the enemy.  She gave as much as she received, and so
battered the _Revolutionnaire_ that the French ship had to be taken in
tow by one of her own frigates.

Next day we had some more fighting, much in the same fashion as on the
first, but more severe, several of our ships having lost their topmasts
and yards, and two or three of the French being completely disabled.

Thus we kept manoeuvring for two days, till, to our great
disappointment, we lost sight of the French fleet during the night of
the last of May.  We had been standing to the westward, when at daybreak
on the first of June, latitude 47 degrees 48 minutes north, longitude 18
degrees 30 minutes west, the wind a moderate breeze, south by west, and
the sea tolerably smooth, we descried the French fleet, carrying a press
of sail about six miles off on our starboard or lee bow, and steering in
a line of battle on the larboard tack.  At 5 a.m. our ships by signal
bore up together and steered north-west.  At about 7 a.m., we having
again hauled to the wind on the larboard tack, plainly saw the French
fleet, consisting of twenty-six sail of the line, the whole, with the
exception of one or two, complete in their masts and rigging.

Shortly after this we saw the welcome signal flying, ordering us to
breakfast, and as soon as it was over, the still more welcome one to
bear down on the enemy.  The next signal thrown out was for each ship to
steer for and independently engage the ship opposite to her in the
enemy's line, the _Caesar_ leading the van.  The _Bellerophon_, or Billy
Ruffian, as she used to be called, followed her; next came the
_Leviathan_.  We were about the thirteenth in line.  The ships of both
fleets were carrying single-reefed topsails.  Of those of the French,
some were lying to, and others backing and filling to preserve their
stations.  We were steering about north-west, with a fresh breeze south
by west, and going little more than five knots an hour.

We were standing on, every ship keeping regularly in line, when what was
the disgust of the true men on board the Culloden to hear the captain
give the order to back the fore and main-topsails, three other ships
having done the same, though we were not even yet within range of the
enemy's guns.  We soon, however, saw the Admiral speaking with his
signals, and ordering us to make more sail.  Our brave old chief was at
the same time setting topgallant sails, and letting fall his foresail in
order that the _Queen Charlotte_ might be first through the enemy's
line.  In a short time that noble ship was engaged singlehanded with
three of the enemy, for neither the _Gibraltar_ nor the _Brunswick_
were near enough to aid her.  She was opposed to one French
hundred-and-twenty gun ship, and two of eighty guns.  In a short time,
down came her fore-topmast, followed shortly afterwards by her
main-topmast, while so damaged were her lower yards and rigging, that
she was almost unmanageable.  Notwithstanding this, she kept blazing
away, till she beat off the two eighty gun ships, which made their
escape, and had now only the biggest opposed to her.

The action had now become general, a few of our ships had cut their way
through the French line, and engaged the enemy to leeward; the remainder
hauled up to windward and opened their fire, some at a long, others at a
more effectual distance.  I am sorry to say the _Culloden_ was among the
former.  Perhaps our captain thought, with his undisciplined crew, that
it would be hazardous to venture alongside an enemy's ship.  He was
wrong if he thought so.  Bad as our fellows were, we had enough good men
to load and fire the guns and the others were able at all events to haul
them in and run them out again.  It was impossible to see what was
taking place.  Each captain had to act for himself, and the greater
number were doing their duty nobly.  The _Brunswick_ for some time was
hooked by her anchors alongside a French ship, which she almost knocked
to pieces.  Another, coming up to rescue her friend, received so
tremendous a fire that her three masts were speedily cut away by the
board.

One ship after another of the French struck, and several were almost
dismasted.  Of these, four were recovered by the French Admiral, who now
stood away to the northward, leaving Earl Howe in possession of six
line-of-battle ships which had been captured.  The victory was an
important one, for although many of our ships had suffered severely, we
had not lost one, while besides the six we had taken from the French, we
had fearfully knocked about a large number of others.

The old Earl, as far as I know, made no complaint of the way in which
some of the ships had disobeyed his orders and kept out of action.  We
in the _Culloden_, who knew what ought to have been done, felt ashamed
of ourselves, that's all I can say.

As soon as the worst damages could be repaired, the whole fleet made
sail and stood up Channel, steering for Spithead, where we arrived early
on the morning of the 13th, and brought up with our six prizes.

I felt very little of the enthusiasm which animated most of the
thousands of visitors who came off to see us; but many were mourners,
anxious to obtain information of the loved ones they had lost, and
others to see their wounded relatives and friends groaning in pain
below.  My great desire was to let my wife know that I had escaped, and
I was very thankful when Jerry Vincent came alongside, and I was able to
despatch a letter by him, he promising to deliver it immediately, and to
tell her that I looked well and hearty.

A few days afterwards the King and Queen came down to Portsmouth, and
went on board the _Queen Charlotte_, to present the old Admiral--for he
was then seventy years of age--with a diamond-hilted sword, and to hang
a gold chain round his neck.  They then dined with him, and returned on
shore in the evening.  One of the vice-admirals was made Lord Graves,
and the other Viscount Bridport.  The rear-admirals were created
baronets, and the first lieutenant of every line of battle ship in the
action was made a commander.  The rest got empty thanks, and a small
share of prize-money, which was spent by the greater number of the men
the first time they got ashore, so that the grog-sellers, lodging-house
keepers, and Jews, benefited chiefly by that.  The ships which had
suffered went into Portsmouth harbour to refit; but as the _Culloden_
had no honourable wounds to show, we were kept at Spithead, and no leave
was granted.

The men grumbled and growled, complaining that they were ill-treated,
and that it was not their fault that they had not taken a more active
part in the battle.  The captain and officers best knew the reason why,
and they also were out of sorts, for they heard it whispered that they
had shown the white feather.  They consequently, being out of temper,
bullied us, and we were kept at work, exercising at the guns, and making
and shortening sail.

Our former captain being removed, Captain Thomas Trowbridge, well-known
as a good officer, took command of the ship, and we put to sea for a
cruise.

The state of the crew, however, had become too bad to be amended in a
hurry.  Discontent of all sorts prevailed on board.

As we lay at Spithead, one day Hagger came to me and said:

"Will, I don't like the look of things, there's something going to
happen.  The men complain that the provisions are bad, and we don't get
fresh meat and vegetables from shore as we ought, and there's no leave
given, and flogging goes on just as it did before, and that our present
captain is as severe as the last.  There's a knot of them got together,
and they are plotting something.  That fellow, Charles Trickett, is at
the bottom of it, though he takes good care not to be too forward.  They
have won a good many men over, and they tried to win me, but I'm not
going to run my head into a noose to make bad worse."

"I know all you tell me," I replied, "except that I was not aware there
was any plotting going on.  No one has spoken to me, and Trickett is the
last person to do so, though he would be ready to get me into a scrape
if he could.  I don't think they would be mad enough to attempt anything
when they must know what would be the upshot.  The leaders will be
taken, and either flogged round the fleet, or hung at the yard-arm.  I'm
glad that you've kept clear, Dick."

Next day a man I had seldom spoken to came up while I was writing a
letter to my wife, and asked me to put my name to a paper which he said
wanted a witness, and he could not find any man just then who could sign
his name.  He was one of the Lord Mayor's men, but notwithstanding by
this time had become a pretty smart hand.  He had been a pickpocket or
something of that sort it the streets of London, and always spoke of
himself as being a gentleman, and was fond of using fine language.

"You'll render me an essential service, Weatherhelm, if you'll just do
as I request.  Here is the paper," and he produced a large sheet folded
up.  "You'll see me write my name, and you'll just write yours as a
witness under it.  There's the word `witness,' you see, in pencil, you
need not cover it up."

He wrote down his own name as Reginald Berkeley, and I attached my
signature.

"Thank you extremely," he said, taking up the paper before I had time,
notwithstanding what he said, to write down the word "witness," which I
knew ought to be in ink.  "That is all I require.  It may, I hope, be
the means of bringing me a nice little income of a thousand a year or
so, to which I am entitled if I obtain my rights, as my solicitor tells
me I am sure to do.  I'll not forget you, Will, depend upon it.  You
shall come and stay with me at a snug little box I own down at
Richmond,--that is to say, as soon as I come into possession of it, for
I have not, properly speaking, got it yet,--or if you want a few pounds
at any time, they are at your service.  Thank you, thank you, go on with
your letter.  I must apologise for interrupting you;" and putting the
paper in his pocket, he walked away.

I thought no more about the matter, and having finished and closed my
letter, went on deck to get it sent on shore, as I knew my wife would be
anxiously expecting to hear from me.

A short time after this another fellow, very much the same sort of man
as Berkeley, as he called himself, addressed me, and invited me to come
forward and take a glass of grog with him.

"I've got a little store of liquor of my own, and I like to share it
with honest fellows like you, Weatherhelm," he said.  "You and I haven't
had much talk together, but I have heard of you from Hagger and others,
and seen what a prime seaman you are."

"I'm much obliged to you, Pratt," I answered, for that was his name,
"but I am not over fond of spirits, and never take a glass except when
they are served out, and even then I had as soon, on most occasions, go
without it as have it."

"I dare say you are right," answered Pratt, "there's nothing like
keeping a cool head on your shoulders; we want cool heads now to guide
us.  You see we have been barbarously treated, and I am sure you will
agree that we ought to get our rights, if we are worthy of being called
men.  I am told that some of the best hands in the ship have made up
their minds on the subject, and they have asked me to join them; but I
want to know what your opinion is, for I do not suppose, as you are a
fellow of spirit, that you'll be hanging back."

I guessed what he was driving at, and was cautious in what I said.  I
advised him not to join any mad attempt to gain by force what he called
our rights, saying that I had made up my mind to have nothing to do with
anything of the sort.  On this I endeavoured to get clear of him, but he
stuck to me, and managed somehow or other to lead me among a knot of men
who were all talking eagerly together.  Several of them spoke to me, and
one of the party began to go on much in the same strain that Pratt had
done.  As he held me fast by the arm, I could not get away from him
without using violence, and that I did not want to use.  The men were
talking away, many of them together, speaking of their grievances, and
complaining of the treatment they had received.  Some swore that they
had been flogged unjustly for things they had never done, others
complained of their leave being stopped, some of the badness of their
provisions, others of the tyranny of the officers, and the hard work
they had to do.  I made no observation, for I did not wish to have
myself mixed up with them.

There was some truth in what they said, but a great deal of
exaggeration, and I observed that the King's Hard Bargains were the very
men to make most to do of what they suffered.  Except that I had escaped
a flogging, and being an able seaman never had to perform what is called
dirty work, I had to suffer as much as any of them.

All this time, neither Trickett, or rather Charles Iffley, nor the
fellow who called himself Reginald Berkeley, had appeared among us.

They came at last, as if sauntering by, and joining in, asked the men
what they were talking about.  Several again went over the list of their
grievances.

"It's not to be borne!" cried Iffley.

"I should think not!" exclaimed Berkeley; "I've heard tell of a crew
taking the ship from their officers, and sailing away, either to live
the life of free rovers of the ocean, or to carry her into some foreign
port where they have sold her for a large sum of money, and divided the
profits among themselves.  I don't say this is what we should do, or
what we should be compelled to do, if things don't mend."

Soon after Berkeley had spoken, half-a-dozen of the most ruffianly
fellows in the ship, two of whom boasted of the murders they had
committed,--others had been smugglers or pirates for what I know,--came
among us, and proposed that we should begin work that very night.

"Now is our opportunity," they said.  "The captain is on shore, so are
many of the officers, including the lieutenant of marines."

I soon found that matters had proceeded much farther than I had
supposed, and that Berkeley and Pratt had spoken to me merely to try and
get me to join them, their plans being already formed.  Still, what
those plans were I could not tell, or I ought, I considered, to go aft
and tell the first lieutenant.  If I went now, he would think that I had
got hold of some cock-and-bull story, and very likely take no notice,
while, should the mutineers suspect me, I might have been knocked on the
head and have been hove overboard by them in revenge.

I told Hagger, however, what I feared.  He acknowledged that he had been
spoken to on the subject, but did not think it would be wise, without
more certain information, to take any steps in the matter.

The long evening drew on, the hammocks were piped down as usual, and the
watch below pretended to turn in; but I observed that they merely kicked
off their shoes, and slipped under the blankets all standing.

It had just gone four bells in the first watch, when every man turned
out of his hammock.  The watch on deck came springing down below and
immediately unshipped the ladders.  While some were engaged in lashing
up the hammocks, others rushed aft and secured the warrant and petty
officers.

Another more daring band made their way down to the magazine, took out a
quantity of ammunition, and as many muskets and tomahawks as they could
lay hands on.  They then set to work to form a barricade across the deck
between the bits with the hammocks, and shifted the two second guns from
forward, which they loaded with grape and canister, and pointed them
towards the hatchway.  Hunting about, I found Dick Hagger, and he agreed
with me that we should try to get on deck; but the ladders being
unshipped, we had no means of doing so, and several of the men, seeing
what we were about, swore that they would cut us down if we made the
attempt.  There were several others who also wished to escape, and
observing what we had been trying to do, came and joined us.  I saw a
few marines among the mutineers, but the larger body of the "jollies,"
on turning out of their hammocks, retreated aft with their sergeants and
corporals; but as the guns were pointed at them, they could do nothing.

The whole lower part of the ship was thus in possession of the
mutineers, together with the magazine, stores, and water, though they
could not prevent the officers from getting away or sending on shore to
give information of what had occurred.

All night long things continued in this state.  No one slept.  Councils
were held among the men, who swore that until their grievances were
redressed they would not give in, and they would rather, if force were
used, blow the ship up, and go to the bottom.  There was nothing to
prevent them doing this except their unwillingness to destroy
themselves.  There were some daring spirits among them, but the greater
part had cowardly hearts.  They thus fortunately took half measures.
They might have destroyed all the officers, overpowered the marines, and
carried the ship off.  They knew well enough, however, that there was
not a man among them capable of navigating her, and that there was a
great chance that they would run her ashore before they got away from
Saint Helen's.  They were sure also that there was not an officer who
would have taken charge of her, even if they had held a pistol to his
head to try and compel him to navigate the ship.



CHAPTER TWENTY.

A LONG NIGHT--AN ATTEMPT TO ESCAPE--THREATS OF MY SHIPMATES--THREE
ADMIRALS VISIT THE SHIP--INTERVIEW WITH THE MUTINEERS--REFUSAL TO GIVE
IN--HOLDING OUT--CAPTAIN PAKENHAM ADDRESSES THE MEN--RETURNING TO DUTY--
I AM TAKEN AS A MUTINEER--AWAITING TRIAL--CONDUCT OF THE RINGLEADERS--
THE COURT-MARTIAL--MY SIGNATURE PRODUCED IN EVIDENCE AGAINST ME--A PLOT
TO DESTROY ME FRUSTRATED--CAPTAIN PAKENHAM PROVES MY FRIEND--EXAMINATION
OF DICK HAGGER ON MY BEHALF--I AM ACQUITTED--EXECUTION OF THE MUTINEERS.

I have spent many a trying night, waiting anxiously for day, but this
was as trying as any.  It was, if I recollect rightly, the 3rd or 4th of
December.  When at length the morning broke, the mutineers seemed as
determined as ever.  At last it was proposed to let the warrant and
petty officers go on deck.  On hearing this, Hagger and I with a few
others crept along to the after-hatchway, pretending that our object was
merely to ship the ladder to allow the officers to reach the upper deck.
The officers hurried up as fast as they could, glad to get away out of
the power of the mutineers.  Several of the men followed them, and
Hagger and I had got our feet on the ladder, when we were seized hold of
and dragged back, and the ladder was again unshipped.

Ten or twelve of the men had made themselves most active, and were
looked upon as the ringleaders of the conspiracy, Berkeley and Pratt
being among the number; but Iffley, if he had really been at the bottom
of the affair, pretended to be led by the others.  Whenever he spoke, he
counselled mild measures, though he managed, some way or other, that
they should not be adopted.

Having command of the store-rooms, the mutineers served out among those
below as many provisions as were required.  Dividing themselves into two
watches, one stood guard with fifty or sixty muskets, and the guns
pointed aft, while the rest either slept or sat on deck and smoked.

There were hot discussions as to what should be done, and occasionally
there were quarrels, for enough grog was served out to excite the men's
spirits; but the ringleaders took care that they should get no more, for
if once drunkenness began, they were aware that they would very speedily
be overpowered.  In the course of the afternoon, the first lieutenant
hailed down the after-hatchway, saying that three admirals whom we all
knew had come on board to hear what grievances we had to complain of,
and to endeavour to redress them.

On hearing this, the ringleaders went aft, each man armed with a musket,
a tomahawk or cutlass by his side, looking as brazen-faced and impudent
as could be, trusting to the numbers at their backs.

Among the officers who addressed us were Lord Bridport and Admiral
Cornwallis.  Lord Bridport inquired, in a kind way, what the mutineers
had to complain of, and pointed out the folly and wickedness of their
proceedings, "What would become of our country if other ships were to
follow your bad example, my lads?" he asked.  "The honour and glory of
England, of which you are so justly proud, would be humbled in the dust,
and we should have the Frenchmen coming over to England with their
guillotine and their Republican notions, and the ruin of all we hold
dear would be the consequence.  But I am not afraid of that.  I know
English seamen too well to suppose for a moment that others would
imitate you.  They may have grievances to complain of, but would disdain
to adopt the mode you have of showing your dissatisfaction."

Admiral Cornwallis spoke in a more indignant strain.  "I am ashamed of
you, lads," he exclaimed; "you call yourselves British seamen, and yet
upset all discipline, and act the part of rascally buccaneers who turn
against their officers the moment they have anything to complain of."

He said a good deal more in the same strain, but the men would scarcely
listen to him.  Some of them shouted out together what they wanted, but
even on those points they were not all agreed.

"Are you going to return to your duty, lads!" asked Admiral Bridport at
last.

"No, we are not," shouted several of the men.  "We don't return to our
duty until we get our rights."

On this the admirals walked away, and we saw them shortly afterwards,
through the ports, leaving the ship for Portsmouth.

The second night went by much as the first had done.  The mutineers,
numbering about two hundred and fifty men, retained possession of the
lower deck, and would allow no one to come down, and none of the
better-disposed men whom they doubted to go up.  Hagger and I, with
others, were thus kept prisoners.  They had opposed to them the
commissioned, warrant, and petty officers, all the marines except six,
who, silly fellows, had been persuaded to join them, and about thirty
seamen who had managed to escape on deck.  They might thus quickly have
been subdued by force, but then the lives of many on both sides must
have been sacrificed; and if once blood had been shed, the mutineers,
knowing that they fought with ropes round their necks, would have
struggled desperately to the last, and would very likely have blown the
ship up when they found all hope had gone.  At length the watch off duty
lay down on deck to sleep, for they had used all the hammocks to form a
barricade.  Hagger and I followed their example, hoping that next
morning they would come to a better state of mind; but we were mistaken,
and all day they held out, just as they had done before, and so they did
the next and the next.

At last two or three of the petty officers, who were the least
obnoxious, came and asked them to allow water and provisions to be got
up, saying "that if those below were badly off in one way, they
themselves were worse off in another, as neither had come off from the
shore, and they were pretty well starving."

Though some of the ringleaders would have prevented this if they could,
the greater part of the men were ready enough to let those on deck have
the provisions, and accordingly they set to work and sent up whatever
was wanted.

Though they did this, they seemed as resolved as ever to resist.  The
heavy guns and small arms were kept loaded, and some of the ringleaders
talked as big as ever, but I saw that the greater number were getting
heartily weary of their confinement and their state of uncertainty.  The
authorities must have well-known that this would be the case.  At last,
on the morning of the 11th, word was received that Captain Pakenham
(with whom a good many of the men had served) wanted to speak to them.

Coming to the hatchway, he addressed the men in firm but gentle terms.
I forget exactly what he said, but I know it at once had a good effect
with many of them, notwithstanding that the ringleaders tried to
persuade them to hold out longer.

I was trying to persuade some of my shipmates to listen to what Captain
Pakenham was saying, and to return to their duty, when Berkeley and
Pratt, seizing hold of me, swore that they would shoot me through the
head if I uttered another word, and dragged me forward.

At the same moment Hagger, who had been nearer the hatchway, with some
of the better-disposed men, getting hold of the ladders, suddenly
shipped them, and sprang up on deck, followed by nearly the whole of the
rest of the crew, who were glad of the opportunity of escaping, as they
hoped, born the consequences they had brought upon themselves.  Only
nine besides myself remained below, including Trickett and the two men I
have spoken of.

Captain Pakenham at once asked the men who had escaped, if they were
prepared to return to their duty, and in one voice they declared that
they were.  He had before taken his measures, and the marines, who were
drawn up ready to act, coming down the ladder, made a rush forward.

Three or four of the more desperate of the ringleaders sprang to the
guns, with the intention of firing them; but before they had time to do
so, the marines, forcing their way over the barricade, seized every man
they could find, I being among the number.

As two of them got hold of me, I assured them that I had been prevented
from the first by force from going on deck, and that I had not joined
the mutineers.  They laughed at my assertion, and I was dragged along
the deck and brought before Captain Pakenham.

Though he had spoken mildly enough to the other men, he was stern when
addressing us, and being speedily handcuffed, we were committed to the
charge of the lieutenant-at-arms, and placed under a guard of marines.

I begged Captain Pakenham to listen to me, asserting as before that I
had never joined the mutineers, and called upon Hagger and the others to
bear witness to the truth of what I said, Hagger, stepping out from
among the men drawn up on either side of the deck, declared that what I
said was the truth; that we had both tried to escape from the first, but
had been prevented; and that, as the officers knew, I was among the
best-conducted men in the ship.

"All you have to say will be heard at the trial, which will, depend upon
it, be held in a few days," answered Captain Pakenham.  "You were found
among the ringleaders, who refused, when summoned at the last, to come
up and return to their duty; you must therefore, meantime, abide by the
consequences."

No words can describe the grief and dismay I felt, not on my own
account, but lest my wife and uncle and aunt should hear what, had
happened.  They would be confident that I was innocent, but at the same
time they would know the risk I ran of being inculpated with the guilty.
How could I prove that I had taken no part in the mutiny?  I had been
below all the time, and except on the evidence of Hagger, I could not
prove that I had made any attempt to escape.  His evidence, indeed,
might not be of any value, as he had been with me, and had himself
remained below.  I had been found with the ringleaders, and very
probably two such utter scoundrels as were Berkeley and Pratt would not,
unless it could benefit themselves, be induced to confess that they had
kept me back by force.

I entreated to be supplied with paper and pen and ink, that I might
write to Uncle Kelson to tell him what had happened, and beg him to
break the news to Margaret, as also to ask him if he could procure legal
advice; but the boon was refused me, and I was told that before the
trial I should not be allowed to hold communication with anybody.

The prisoners in vain tried to keep up their spirits.  Most of them soon
broke down altogether, and sat with their heads bent, resting on their
manacled hands, except two desperate fellows who had long faced death in
every form, and were not afraid of him now, though they well knew what
the punishment of their crime must be.  Men were hung for lesser crimes
than theirs, and the maintenance of discipline being the great object of
the authorities, they were not likely to be let off.

So great was the agony of my mind that I thought I should go mad.  At
last I dropped into a dreamy state, my great wish being that the day of
the trial should come on.  Had I been called to suffer alone I should
not have complained, but it was the thought of the trouble, the distress
and sorrow it would be to Margaret and my uncle and aunt, to hear that I
had died an ignominious death at the yard-arm, assured though they might
be of my innocence, which caused me the greatest grief.

At last, on the 15th of December, several admirals and captains
assembled to hold a court-martial on board the _Culloden_, and we ten
men, accused of mutiny, were brought up for trial.  It was quickly
proved that four of our number had been captured while attempting to
fire the guns behind the barricade, and that the whole of us had been
found below when the rest of the ship's company had returned to their
duty.  We were asked singly what we could say for ourselves.

Trickett was the first who spoke.  He pleaded that he had been led away
by others, that he did not know their object, and had no idea that
matters would have proceeded to extremities.  "I wished to see my
shipmates righted, but I should have advised them, had they allowed me,
to employ only legal means.  As a proof that I was not one of the
ringleaders, permit me to present this paper which came into my
possession, and which, as you will see, does not contain my name."

As he spoke, he produced a paper, and presented it to the President,
who, after glancing over it, read it aloud.  It began, I remember, "We,
the undersigned, bind ourselves to hold fast to each other, and to take
all the means in our power to obtain our rights, and have our grievances
redressed; we resolve that no consideration shall hinder us, and that if
our petition is not listened to, we will take possession of the ship,
and carry her over to the French."  The paper wound up with terrible
oaths, calling God to witness that nothing should make them give up
their object.

"I see by the names attached to this precious document," said the
President, "that they are all those of the prisoners on trial, with the
exception of that of the man who handed it in, which doesn't appear,"
and he slowly read out the names.  Among the last was that of Pratt,
then came that of Reginald Berkeley, and lastly, to my horror and
dismay, was my own.

"I never signed that paper!"  I exclaimed; "nothing should have induced
me to put my hand to it."

"Can you swear that your name is not Willand Wetherholm, and that this
is not your signature?" asked the President, and the paper was shown me,
"That is my name, and that is my signature, but I didn't put it to any
document of that sort.  I was writing a letter to my wife, just before
the mutiny broke out, when the man whose name appears above mine, came
and asked me to put my name as a witness to his signature, stating that
it was required for legal purposes, in order to enable him to obtain a
property to which he was entitled."

"A likely story," observed one of the members of the court.  "Reginald
Berkeley, as you call yourself, is this man's story correct?  Did you
ask him to witness your signature for such a purpose as he states?"

I saw Iffley and Berkeley exchange glances.

"I don't remember the circumstance, my lord," he answered with the
greatest effrontery.  "I know that the paper was passed round for
signature, and that I put my name to it; and I suppose Wetherholm put
his, knowing what was written above it."

When again allowed to speak, I once more acknowledged that the signature
was mine, but that through carelessness, not having looked at the
document, which was doubled back, I had simply acceded to Berkeley's
request to sign as a witness.

"The word `witness' was written in pencil at the time, and I was about
to write over it in ink when I was interrupted," I said.

The President examined the paper through his spectacles, but declared
that he could see no traces of any pencil marks.  It was passed round to
two or three other officers, who agreed with his lordship.

At last it was handed to Captain Pakenham, who, holding it up against
the light, produced a magnifying glass from his pocket, through which he
examined the paper.

"I see traces of pencil marks.  Yes; and the letters `w-i-t,' then there
is a blank, and `e-s,' though an attempt has been made to rub it out,
and probably the person who tried to do so fancied that he had
succeeded.  Sergeant, examine that man's pockets," and he pointed to
Iffley.

The sergeant, after fumbling about, produced a piece of india-rubber.

"I thought so," observed the Captain.  "There has been some knavery at
work.  This is greatly in the man's favour."

I breathed more freely at this than I had for many a day.  He then
turned to Dick Hagger, and told him to make his statement.

Dick, pulling his hair, at once stepped forward, and in a clear voice
began: "My lords, and cap'ens, and gentlemen, I'll speak the truth and
nothing but the truth.  I hated the notion of this here mutiny directly
I got an inkling of it, and so did my messmate Will Weatherhelm, and we
had made up our minds, if it was likely to come to anything, to get away
aft and tell the commander or first lieutenant; but when we was agoing,
quite unbeknown to us, before we had time to get on deck, the mutiny
broke out, the ladders were unshipped, an' we was kept prisoners.  We
were both of us marked men, and when we again tried to join the officers
we was held back.  Every one who has ever served with Weatherhelm knows
him to be a good seaman, and an orderly, well-conducted chap, who
wouldn't, for to get a pocketful of gold, have become a rascally
mutineer."  The warrant and petty officers who were called, gave both
Hagger and me good characters, and his evidence appeared to weigh
greatly in my favour; still I could see that most of the members of the
court-martial considered it necessary to make an example of the whole of
those who had been captured, and one after the other the ringleaders
were condemned to death.  Berkeley and Pratt fell on their knees on
hearing their sentence, and implored for mercy.

"It was through the treachery of that man that Wetherholm's signature
was obtained," said Captain Pakenham, pointing to the former; "I am not
inclined to grant him it."

The other members of the court were of his opinion.

Charles Iffley, though he had been the chief instigator of the mutiny,
was pardoned, in consequence of his having produced the paper with the
signature of the ringleaders.  My fate still hung in the balance, for
Captain Pakenham alone seemed to consider me innocent.  I saw my judges
conferring together.  How my heart bounded with joy when the President
at length acquitted me!

Iffley cast a glance of disappointed spite towards me as he heard this,
and walked away.  I was again a free man.  My first act, after returning
thanks to Heaven from the bottom of my heart for my merciful
deliverance, was to obtain a sheet of paper, and write an account of
what had happened and my happy acquittal to Uncle Kelson, and beg him to
break the matter to my wife, for I was afraid that she would be overmuch
agitated should I address her directly.

Several boats were returning to the shore, and I, without difficulty,
got a man I knew to take it.  The first to come up and congratulate me
was Dick Hagger.

"I was sure, Will, that they couldn't bring you in guilty.  It would
have been against all right and reason; and if they had, why, I would
have gone up and axed to be hung too, and told them you was no more a
mutineer than I was!"

Many other shipmates came up, and expressed themselves much in the same
way.  No one, however, spoke to Iffley, for they well knew that he was
at the bottom of the whole affair, and deserved hanging more than any of
the rest.  He was from that day forward shunned by all in the ship, for
even the men who had mutinied would not trust him.

This made him more morose and ill-tempered than ever, and I could not
help suspecting that if he had an opportunity, he would still try to do
me an injury.  Discipline was now perfectly restored, but the ship was
still not a happy one.  No liberty was allowed, and we were kept hard at
work exercising the guns and reefing sails.  When I asked for leave to
go on shore, I was refused.

"If we grant it to one, we must to another," was the answer.

So I had to stop on board, and as Dick observed, "grin and bear it."

Thus nearly a month went by.  The condemned men had been sent on board
various ships for safe keeping, there to remain until the day they were
doomed to die.  On the 13th of January, early in the morning, they were
brought on board the _Culloden_, heavily handcuffed, and looking the
picture of misery and despair.  At the same time boats from every ship
in the fleet came alongside to witness the execution.

The wretched men, still with their irons on, were now conducted to the
upper deck.  Ropes were rove through the main, fore, and
mizzen-yard-arms.  The whole eight were thus standing, with the
chaplains by their sides, giving them the last consolations of religion,
when our captain appeared with a paper in his hand.  It was a pardon for
the three youngest.  The other five looked up with imploring glances,
and an expression of hope lighted up their countenances, but there was
no pardon for them.  The three having been led on one side by the
marines who had them in charge, the preparations for the execution of
the other five were continued.  They were shortly finished.  The gun,
the signal for their execution, was fired, and in another instant they
were all run up in sight of the whole fleet, and of the crews of the
boats who were compelled to witness their punishment.  It was an awful
sight.  I felt that but for God's great mercy I might have been among
the hapless men who were struggling now in mid air.  I sickened as I
gazed at them, and hid my eyes with my hands, as did many another
stout-hearted fellow.

After a time they were lowered down.  The doctor pronounced them dead,
and they were placed in shells and taken on shore to be buried.  The
ropes were unrove, the hands were piped down, and the boats returned to
their respective ships.  The fearful drama was over.



CHAPTER TWENTY ONE.

THE CREW OF THE CULLODEN DISTRIBUTED--DICK AND I HAVE TO GO ON BOARD THE
MARS--CRUISE OFF USHANT--FALL IN WITH THE ENEMY--A NARROW ESCAPE--
MASTERLY RETREAT OF ADMIRAL CORNWALLIS--A RUSE DE GUERRE--A SEVERE
STRUGGLE--THE MARS RESCUED BY THE QUEEN CHARLOTTE--RETURN TO ENGLAND--
STATE OF THE SHIPS--MY EXPECTATIONS OF LEAVE DISAPPOINTED--WE ARE
DRAFTED ON BOARD THE GALATEA.

The _Culloden_ having gained a bad name for herself, in consequence of
the late event and her behaviour on the 1st of June, her officers and
crew were distributed among several ships; I, with Dick Hagger and other
men, being sent on board the _Mars_, seventy-four, one of the squadron
under Vice-Admiral the Honourable William Cornwallis, whose flag was
flying on board the _Royal Sovereign_, of one hundred guns.  The other
ships were the _Triumph, Sir Erasmus Gower_, the _Brunswick_, and
_Bellerophon_, seventy-fours, the _Phaeton_ and _Pallas_ frigates, and
the _Kingfisher_, an eighteen gun brig.

We sailed at the end of May from Spithead, for a cruise off Ushant.  On
the 8th of June we made the land about the Penmarcks on the French
coast, and soon after the _Triumph_ threw out the signal of six sail
east by north.

We immediately gave chase.  After some time, one of the frigates, with
the little _Kingfisher_ and the _Triumph_, being considerably ahead,
commenced firing at the enemy, while we were crowding all sail to get up
with them, the admiral having made the signal to close.

Before we had done so, however, the admiral ordered us and the
_Bellerophon_ to chase two French frigates to the south-west, one of
which had a large ship in tow.  This, after a short time, they abandoned
to us, and we took possession of her.  We stood so close in that the
batteries at Belle Isle opened upon us, and shoaling our water, the
signal for danger was made.

Thereupon Admiral Cornwallis recalled us, and we stood off the land with
the prizes we had taken, and eight others, captured by the frigates,
laden with wine and brandy.  A good many small vessels, however, escaped
us by plying to windward under the land, to gain the anchorage in Palais
Roads.

The next day it was calm, so that the enemy could not, even if they had
had a mind to do so, come out and attack us, and in the evening a breeze
springing up, we took the prizes in tow, and stood away for the Channel.

Sighting Scilly, Admiral Cornwallis ordered the _Kingfisher_ to convoy
the prizes into port, while we stood back to the southward and eastward
to look after the French squadron.  Several days had passed when the
_Phaeton_, our look-out frigate, made the signal of a French fleet in
sight; but as nothing was said about the enemy being of superior force,
and as she did not haul her wind and return to us, Admiral Cornwallis
must have concluded, as did our captain, that the signal had reference
to the number rather than to the apparent strength of the French ships,
and we accordingly stood on nearer than we should otherwise have done.
It was not indeed until an hour afterwards that we got a sufficiently
clear sight of the French fleet to make out that it consisted of one
very large one-hundred-and-twenty gun ship, eleven seventy-fours, and
the same number of frigates, besides smaller craft.  Dick Hagger, who
had been sent aloft, told me that he had counted thirty at least.

"Never mind!  If we can't out-sail them, we'll fight them, and show the
mounseers that `hearts of oak are our ships, British tars are our men,'"
he exclaimed with a gay laugh, humming the tune.

All hands on board our ship were in the same humour, and so were the
crews of the rest of the squadron.  We knew that we could trust our
stout old admiral, for if he was at times somewhat grumpy, he was as
gallant a man and as good an officer as any in the service.  I heard it
said, many years after, that when some of the Government gentlemen
offered to make a lord of him, he declined, saying, "It won't cure the
gout."

The admiral now threw out the signal to the squadron to haul to the wind
on the starboard tack under all sail, and form in line ahead, the
_Brunswick_ leading, and we in the _Mars_ being last.  Thus we stood on
for about three hours, when we saw the French fleet on the same tack
separate into two divisions, one of which tacked and stood to the
northward, evidently to take advantage of the land wind, while the other
continued its course to the southward.  Of course it was the object of
our admiral to escape if possible; for, fire-eater as he was, he had no
wish to expose his ships to the risk of being surrounded and sunk, as he
knew, well enough might be the case should the French get up with us.

After this we twice tacked, and then we saw the French north division
tack to the southward, when the wind shifted to the northward, and this
enabled that division to weather on us, and the south division to lie
well up for our squadron.

The first division now bore east by north about eight or nine miles, and
the south division south-east, distant about ten miles on our larboard
quarter.  Night soon came on, and we could not tell but that before it
was over we might have the French ships close aboard, and thundering
away at us, "Well, if they do come," cried Dick, "we'll give them as
good as we take, although we may have three to fight; but what's the
odds if we work our guns three times as fast as they do?"

To our surprise the watch was piped down as usual, for the admiral knew
better than we did, that the enemy could not be up with us until the
morning while the wind held as it then did.

We slept like tops, not troubling our heads much about the battle we
might have to fight before another day was over, but I doubt whether
many of the officers turned in.

The middle watch got their sleep like the first.  After that the
hammocks were piped up, and every preparation made for battle.  Two of
our ships, the _Bellerophon_ and _Brunswick_, which were always looked
upon as fast sailers, had, somehow or other, got out of trim, and during
the night had to cut away their anchors and launches, and to start a
portion of their water and provisions.  The old "Billy Ruffian,"
however, do all they could, would not move along, and they were
compelled to heave overboard her four poop carronades with their
carriages, and a large quantity of shot.  Notwithstanding this, and that
they were carrying every stitch of canvas they could set, we and the
other ships had to shorten sail occasionally to keep in line with them.
It may be supposed that we had been keeping a bright look-out for the
French fleet, and when daylight broke we saw it coming up very fast,
formed in three divisions.

The weather division, consisting of three ships of the line, and five
frigates, was nearly abreast of our ships.  In the centre division we
counted five ships of the line and four frigates, and in the lee
division four sail of the line, five frigates, two brigs, and two
cutters.  These were somewhat fearful odds, but notwithstanding, as far
as I could judge, the hearts of none on board our ship, and we were the
most exposed, quailed for a moment.  We had made up our minds to a
desperate fight, but we had confidence in our old admiral, and we knew
that if any man could rescue us, he would do it.

Stripped to the waist, we stood at our quarters, waiting the order to
fire, and resolved to fight to the last.  At that moment I did not think
of my wife, or home, or anything else, but just the work we had in hand.
At such times it does not do to think.  We all knew that it was our
business to run our guns in as fast as possible and fire when ordered.
We watched the approach of the French ships, eager for the moment when
we should begin the fight.

A seventy-four was the van ship of the weather division, and a frigate
led the centre division.  We had had our breakfast and returned to our
guns, when the seventy-four opened her fire upon our ship, the _Mars_.
We immediately hoisted our colours, as did the rest of our squadron, and
returned it with our stern-chasers.  Directly afterwards the French
frigate ran up on our larboard and lee quarter, and yawing rapidly,
fired into us.  This sort of work continued for nearly half an hour.
Several of our men by that time had been struck down, though none that I
could see were killed, while our standing and running rigging was
already a good deal cut up.  We had been blazing away for some time, and
the enemy's shot were coming pretty quickly aboard, when I heard a
crash, and looking up saw that our main-yard was badly wounded.  Now for
the first time I began to fear that we should get crippled, and, being
surrounded by the enemy, should be unable to fight our way out from
among them.

Two other ships, the _Triumph_ and _Bellerophon_, were now warmly
engaged, and soon afterwards the remainder of the squadron began firing
their stern or quarter guns as they could bring them to bear on the
enemy.  The _Brunswick_, it should be understood, was leading, then came
the _Royal Sovereign_, next the _Bellerophon_ and _Triumph_, we being,
as I before said, the sternmost.  We now saw the _Royal Sovereign_
making signals to the two ships to go ahead, while she, shortening sail,
took her station next in line to the _Brunswick_.

We had kept up so hot a fire on the first ship which had attacked us,
that we had at length knocked away her main-topgallant mast and had done
considerable damage to her rigging.  To our great satisfaction we saw
her sheer off and drop astern.

"Hurrah! there's one done for," cried Dick Hagger.

"So there is, my boy, but one down another came on," remarked a wag
among the crew of our gun, pointing as he spoke to a French
seventy-four, which, crowding all sail, was approaching to open directly
afterwards a brisk cannonade on our larboard quarter.

"Never mind, lads, we will treat her as we did t'other, and maybe we'll
capture both of them," cried Dick.

I did not see there was much chance of that, considering that the whole
French fleet was at hand to support the crippled ships.  Had we been
more nearly matched we might have done it.

We were now getting pretty severely mauled.  First one and then another
got up under our quarter, and blazed away at us.  More men were wounded,
and our fore-topsail yard was badly damaged, in addition to our
main-topsail yard, while we had to cut away the stern galleries the
better to train our guns, run through the after ports.  The other
ships--especially the _Triumph_, Sir Erasmus Gower--were keeping up a
tremendous fire from their stern-ports.  Notwithstanding this, the
French were getting closer and closer.

Four hours thus passed away.  While we were thus engaged, it must be
remembered we were pressing on with all sail, so that we kept ahead of
the enemy.  While our sticks stood we had no fear of making our escape,
but we well knew that at any moment a shot might carry away one of our
masts, and then, too probably, our brave chief would have to leave us to
our fate for the sake of the safety of the rest of the squadron, not
that we supposed for an instant that he would do so until compelled by
the most dire necessity.  Strange to say, I had not the slightest fear
of being shot, but I did dread the thought of being captured and shut up
in a French prison, to be treated as we heard that English prisoners
were treated by the French Republicans.  The wretches who had cut off
the heads of their king and beautiful queen, and had guillotined
thousands of innocent persons, until the very streets of Paris ran with
blood, were not very likely to be over kind to the English they got into
their power.  As yet, to be sure, they had not made many prisoners, but
those they had made we heard were treated barbarously.

The expectation of what we should receive should we be defeated did not
make us fight with the less determination.  Still, as day wore on, the
French ships in greater numbers crowded up astern, and the chances that
we should escape seemed to diminish.  Not a man, however, quitted his
gun.  We should have a tremendously hard fight before we were taken--of
that we were certain; and many said, and believed it too, that Sir
Charles would let the ship sink under his feet rather than strike our
flag.  Matters seemed getting worse and worse.  We saw the _Royal
Sovereign_ throw out signals to us to alter our course to starboard, and
get away from the ships most annoying us.

Immediately afterwards we saw her keep away in our direction,
accompanied by the _Triumph_.  We cheered lustily as she opened her
powerful broadside upon the enemy, when we running down were brought
into close order of battle, thus being saved from the mauling we were
getting.

Our two friends did not arrive a moment too soon; for just then four of
the French van ships had borne up, hoping to secure us.  On seeing the
approach of a three-decker, they again hauled their wind.

While this work had been going on, the _Phaeton_ frigate, which had been
sent by the admiral in the morning to a distance of some miles, was seen
approaching, making the signal of a strange sail west-north-west, soon
afterwards for four sail, and finally she let fly her topgallant-sheets,
and fired two guns in quick succession, which we all well knew was the
signal for fleet, probably that of Lord Bridport.  This cheered up our
hearts, as may be supposed, for we fancied that the tables would soon be
turned, and that instead of being chased, we should be chasing the
Frenchmen, with the prospect of a stand-up fight, ending in the capture
of a part, if not the whole of their fleet.

No one thought at the time that the _Phaeton_ was carrying out a _ruse
de guerre_, which had shortly before been arranged by Admiral
Cornwallis.

In the afternoon, about three o'clock, we saw the _Phaeton_ making
private signals to the supposed fleet; and then using the tabular
signals with which the French were well acquainted, she communicated to
our admiral the fact that the fleet seen were friends.

About an hour and a half afterwards, she signalled that they were ships
of the line.  She then hoisted the Dutch ensign, as if replying to a
signal made by the admiral in the distance to Admiral Cornwallis,
ordering him to join company.

Shortly afterwards she shortened sail, then wore, and stood back towards
us.  We had been all day retreating, most of the time warmly engaged
with our overpowering enemy, when soon after 6 p.m. the French ships
suddenly ceased firing; and shortly afterwards, their admirals making
signals to them, they shortened sail and stood to the eastward.  By
sunset they were nearly hull down in the north-east, while we sailed on,
rejoicing in having escaped from as dangerous a position as squadron was
ever placed in.  I don't know if I have succeeded in explaining the
position of our ships sufficiently well to be understood by shore-going
persons.  So close were the French ships upon us, that had they not
given up the chase when they did, it would have been scarcely possible
for us and the _Triumph_, which, if she had not suffered as much as we
had, was too much cut up to have afforded us any assistance, to have
effected our escape.  I am very certain that our old admiral would not
have deserted us, nor was it likely that the other two ships would have
done so.  We should all, therefore, after a desperate fight, either have
gone down, been blown up, or captured.  As it was, our brave admiral's
masterly retreat excited general admiration.  Every seaman on board was
well able to judge of our danger, and of the way in which we had been
rescued.  Had he not so gallantly bore up to save us in the _Mars_, our
ship must inevitably have been taken.  He might, as some officers would
have done, have left us to our fate, for the sake of preserving the rest
of the squadron; but he had no notion of doing anything of the sort, and
gallantly determined that if he could help it, not a single one of his
squadron should fall into the hands of the enemy.  In his despatch,
giving an account of the transaction, he spoke in the handsomest way of
the behaviour of the officers and ships' companies engaged, saying very
little of the manner in which he had come to our rescue.  He and all of
us got the thanks of both Houses of Parliament for what had been done,
and all will acknowledge that he richly deserved them.  As soon as we
lost sight of the French fleet, we steered a course for Plymouth, to
carry the intelligence that it was at sea.  From the way the stern of
our ship had been knocked about, we were compelled to remain for some
time at Hamoaze to refit, and were therefore unable to sail with the
fleet under Lord Bridport, which went out to look for the French fleet
from which we had effected our escape.  He came up with the enemy off
Isle-groix; and after a tough fight, in which a good many officers and
men were killed and wounded, three French ships were captured.  One of
them was the _Alexander_, but she was so knocked about by the _Queen
Charlotte_, that she was worth little.  The two others, the _Tigre_ and
_Formidable_, were fine new seventy-fours.  The former was allowed to
retain her name, but we already having a _Formidable_ in the service,
her name was changed to the _Belle Isle_, near which the action was
fought.

We and the _Triumph_ were at once ordered up to Hamoaze to get our
damages repaired.  We were much injured aloft, and when I looked at the
stern of our ship, she had the appearance of having received a dreadful
pounding.  The _Triumph_ had suffered still more, as from her position
in the line she had to keep up the heaviest stern fire.  In order to
train her guns, the stern galleries, bulk-heads, and every part of the
stern of the ward-room, except the timbers, had been cut away, and it
was said that from her three stern batteries--namely, her first deck,
her second deck, and quarter-deck--she had expended in single shots five
thousand pounds of powder.

I now hoped that I might be able to get leave in sufficient time to
reach Southsea, and spend a few days with my wife, and I resolved to
make bold and ask for it as soon as I could see the commander.
Meantime, the moment I was off duty I hurried below and began a letter
to my wife.  While thus engaged, all hands were piped on deck.

"What can it be for?" exclaimed Dick.  "We are not going to sea, I
suppose, in this state?"

On reaching the deck, we found numerous boats alongside, and besides
them also several lieutenants not belonging to our ship.  As soon as we
were mustered, our commander addressed us.  He said that as the _Mars_
would be some time refitting, the Admiralty had ordered part of our crew
to be drafted on board a line-of-battle ship and two frigates requiring
hands, the _Thunderer, Arethusa_, and _Galatea_.  He did not ask for
volunteers, but said that those whose names were called over must get
their bags at once and go off in the boats waiting alongside to receive
them.  I don't know what my shipmates felt, but I hoped earnestly that I
should not be among those selected.  I listened almost breathlessly as
the names were called over, and as they did so, the men were sent down
for their bags.  A hundred and fifty or more had been chosen, about two
hundred were wanted.  At last, what was my dismay on hearing my own name
called!  It was vain, I knew, to expostulate; I had to submit.  Before
going below, I stopped to speak to Hagger.  Taking out the almost
finished letter, I begged him to add a postscript, saying how I had been
sent off, but that I trusted I might return before long.  Scarcely were
the words out of my mouth when his name was called.

"It can't be helped, Will," he said; "bear up, lad, I'm thankful I'm
going with you.  You must try and finish your letter, and send it off
when we get aboard the ship we're ordered to join."

I made no reply, my heart was too full to speak.  I wanted to do my
duty, but this disappointment was almost more than I could bear.

"Move on, be smart now, lads!"  I heard one of the officers sing out,
"there's not a moment to lose."

Dick and I hurried below, shouldered our bags and returned on deck, when
we found that we were both to go on board the _Galatea_ frigate,
commanded by Captain Keats.  The boats immediately shoved off, and away
we pulled down the Sound.



CHAPTER TWENTY TWO.

I FAIL TO SEND A LETTER TO MY WIFE--WE SAIL WITH TRANSPORTS AND
EMIGRANTS FOR QUIBERON--EARLY SUCCESS OF THE EXPEDITION--ACTION BETWEEN
THE ROYALISTS AND REPUBLICANS--I ACCOMPANY A MIDSHIPMAN TO FORT
PENTHIEVRE WITH AN IMPORTANT MESSAGE--I WITNESS SOME STRANGE SCENES--A
ROUGH NIGHT--SURPRISED BY THE REPUBLICANS--ATTACK AND CAPTURE OF THE
FORT--WE ESCAPE--CONDUCT OF THE ROYALISTS--STEADINESS OF THE BRITISH
MARINES--ADVANCE OF THE ARMY UNDER GENERAL HOCHE--THE FLEET RESCUE THE
PARTY--RETURN OF THE EXPEDITION.

The _Galatea_, we found, formed one of a squadron under the command of
Commodore Sir John Warren.  It consisted of the _Robust, Thunderer_, and
_Standard_, seventy-fours; the frigates _Pomone_, on board which the
commodore's flag was flying, the _Anson, Artois, Arethusa, Concorde_,
and our frigate the _Galatea_, convoying fifty sail of transports with
about two thousand five hundred French Royalists.  The expedition was
bound for Quiberon, the inhabitants of which district had remained
faithful to their king, and it was hoped that from thence the
Republicans could be attacked, and a large part of the country gained
over to the royal cause.

The _Galatea_ was a smart frigate, and now that she was well manned was
likely to make a name for herself.  On being sent below to stow away my
bag, I managed to sign my name in pencil to my letter, by placing it on
a gun, and to add a few lines describing what had happened, and then I
hurried on deck, but the boatswain's pipe was already shrilly sounding,
and his voice shouting, "All hands up anchor!"

The commodore's frigate was letting fall her topsails, and the other
ships were following her example.  The capstan went merrily round, the
anchor was away, the sails were sheeted home, and we stood out of
Plymouth Sound, steering for the southward.

My poor wife would have to wait some time now before she could hear from
me, or know indeed where I was.  There was nobody on board the _Mars_ to
whom I could have entrusted the duty of writing to her.  I had to bear
it, therefore, as I had to bear many another trial.  Hope still
supported me.  As far as we could learn, we were not likely to be long
away.  Lord Bridport had driven the French fleet into harbour and was
watching them, although we, of course, might on our return fall in with
an enemy and have a fight.

The weather was fine and the wind fair, but we had plenty to do in
keeping the transports together.  There were many of them very slow
sailers, merchant vessels hired for the purpose, some of them brigs of a
hundred and fifty to two hundred tons, which must have afforded very
miserable accommodation to the unfortunate emigrants.  The troops were
under the command of a royalist officer, the Comte de Puisaye, who had
as his lieutenants the Comtes d'Hervilly and de Sombreuil.

On the 25th of June we entered the capacious bay of Quiberon, which
affords one of the most secure anchorages on the French coast.  On one
side is the Peninsula of Quiberon, which extends out some way from the
mainland, and seaward are two small, well-cultivated islands, so that it
is completely protected from westerly and south-westerly gales.  The
next day was spent in preparations for landing, and to allow the
laggards to come up; and on the 27th, at daybreak, the troops, conveyed
in a large flotilla of boats, escorted by six of the squadron, pulled
for the village of Carmac, where they landed.  A small body of about two
hundred Republicans attempted to oppose them, but were quickly driven
back, leaving several dead on the field, while the Royalists did not
lose a man.

This slight success encouraged the royalist inhabitants, who came down
to the number of sixteen thousand, eager to receive the arms and
ammunition which we landed from the ships for their use.

The troops were at once cantoned among the inhabitants, who gladly
supplied them with everything they required.  The French officers and
soldiers we put on shore were in high spirits, laughing and joking, and
seemed confident of success, and the people who came down to help to
unload the boats were equally merry, declaring that they had only to
attack the Republicans to compel them to lay down their arms.

Some days passed by, daring which the Royalists on shore were drilling
and preparing for action.  At length an expedition was planned to attack
the Peninsula of Quiberon.  Two thousand Royalists, and five hundred
emigrants, supported by three hundred British marines, were disembarked.
They at once marched towards the Port of Penthievre, situated on a
commanding eminence on the northern extremity of the peninsula, which
was invested at the same time on the other side by the Comte d'Hervilly.

Without much fighting, its garrison of six hundred men soon surrendered.
We immediately set to work to land stores and provisions for the supply
of the royalist troops.

A day or two after this, the Comte led a body of five thousand men,
including two hundred British marines, against the right flank of the
army of General Hoche, which was strongly posted on the heights of Saint
Barbe.  At the same time, for their support, five launches, each armed
with a twenty-four pounder carronade, manned from the ships of war, were
sent in and stationed close to the beach.  I was in one of them, and
could see what was going forward.

We watched the small body of red-coats and the motley dressed Royalists
marching on to the attack.  At first they advanced with considerable
firmness, but being met by a withering fire from the heights, and being
ill-disciplined, they began to beat a hasty retreat.  The marines were
compelled, of course, to retire too, but they did so with their faces to
the foe, defending the fugitives as well as they could.

On this, Captain Keats, who commanded the boats, ordered us to open
fire, and we began to blaze away at the Republicans in a fashion which
considerably retarded them in their pursuit of the retreating force.  So
well-directed were our shot on their flanks, that beyond a certain line
they were unable to advance.

Both the marines and Royalists got back to the beach, though not without
considerable loss.  Among the badly wounded was their brave leader, who
was conveyed on board our frigate, and placed under the care of our
surgeon.  Though he suffered much from his wound, his thoughts were
still with his friends ashore.

It was, I think, about two days afterwards, being anxious to communicate
with his friend the Comte de Sombreuil, at Fort Penthievre, which was
under the command of the Comte de Puisaye, he requested that a messenger
might be sent on shore with a letter.  Captain Keats accordingly ordered
Mr Harvey, one of the senior midshipmen, to take the letter, and
allowed him to select a man to accompany him.  He chose me, I having
served with him already in two ships, and being well-known to him.

We at once, shoving off in the second gig under charge of another
midshipman, pulled for the beach nearest the fort, towards which, as
soon as we landed, we made our way.  We remarked six transports, laden,
as we were told, with provisions and stores of all sorts, come to an
anchor as close to the fort as they could bring up.

As we stepped on shore, Mr Harvey directed the gig to return without
delay to the frigate.  "I don't like the look of the weather," he
observed, "and depend upon it, before nightfall, it will come on to blow
hard."

We were to remain at the fort until the following morning, when the boat
was to come in again and take us off.

Mr Harvey delivered his despatch to the young Comte, who received him
very graciously, and gave him the best accommodation he could for the
night, while I, that I might be ready to attend to his wants, was
allowed to sleep on a sofa in a little ante-room outside of the one he
occupied.

Mr Harvey told me that the Count was greatly out of spirits in
consequence of the numerous desertions which had taken place from the
fort.  Various causes were at work.  Some of the garrison were
Republicans at heart, and others, hopeless of the success of the
Royalists, were afraid of the consequences should they remain.  One or
two plots had been discovered, but the conspirators had been seized, and
it was hoped that those who had been won over would be deterred from
carrying out their plans.

Notwithstanding these forebodings of evil, the officers met, as I
suppose was their custom, at an early supper.  I looked in with some of
the attendants to see what was going forward.  The table was covered
with all sorts of good things, such as French cooks know well how to
prepare.  Wine flowed freely, and conversation seemed to be carried on
with great animation.  Speeches were made, and compliments paid to Mr
Harvey, who spoke very good French, for which reason he had been
selected to convey the letter to the Count.  The major commanding the
marines, a captain, and two lieutenants, were also present, but as none
of them spoke French, Mr Harvey had to reply for the whole party.

After supper the marine officers went to their quarters, which happened
to be on the side of the fort nearest the sea, in rooms prepared for
them.

I remember we had to run across an open space, and were nearly wetted
through by the tremendous rain which poured down upon us.  It was
blowing very hard too, the wind howled and shrieked among the buildings
of the fort, while the windows and doors rattled till I thought that
they would be forced in.

"I was afraid, Wetherholm, that we were going to have a dirty night of
it," observed Mr Harvey.  "I hope the gig got back safely, but I doubt
very much whether she will be able to return for us to-morrow if this
weather continues.  However, it may only be a summer gale, though from
the appearance of things it might be mid-winter."

I looked out; the sky seemed as black as ink, and the night was so dark
that had it not been for the light in the window above the door we had
to make for, we could not have found our way.

Mr Harvey, of course, wore his sword, and, as was customary for the men
sent on shore, I had my cutlass slung to my side and a brace of pistols;
for, as we were before the enemy, we might at any moment be called upon
to fight.

I having hung up Mr Harvey's coat to dry, and his sword against the
wall, went to the ante-room, and taking off my wet jacket lay down on
the sofa, all standing.  At sea, I should not have been two minutes in
my hammock before I had fallen asleep, but the howling and shrieking
wind sounded very different on shore, and seemed to make its way through
every chink and crevice, producing all sorts of strange sounds, a
mingling of moanings, shriekings, whistlings, and howlings.  Frequently
the building itself would shake, until I fancied that it was about to
come down upon our heads.  Notwithstanding this, I was just dozing off,
when I was aroused by still stranger sounds.  I listened; I felt sure
they could not be caused by the wind.  They were human voices.  I could
distinguish shrieks and shouts and cries.  Almost at the same instant
there came the sharp report of pistols.

I sprang into Mr Harvey's room to awaken him.  Fortunately he had a
light burning on the table.

"There's something fearful happening, sir," I said, as he started up,
looking very much astonished.  I got down his coat and sword, which I
helped him to put on.

"The treachery the Count spoke of is at work, I fear, but I hope the
conspirators will quickly be put down.  We must go to the help of our
friends if we can manage to find them," he said, while he was quickly
slipping into his clothes.

We hurried down stairs; the rest of the people in the house were rushing
out, but, as far as I could discover, they were hurrying off, away from
the direction of the firing and shouts.

Presently I could hear the cry of "Vive la Republique," then came a
sharp rattle of musketry, some of the bullets pinging against the walls
above our heads.

"Come on, Wetherholm, I think I can find out where the Count is
quartered; we may be in time to help him."

As we were about to leave the house, the cry of "Vive la Republique"
again echoed from all parts of the fort in front of us, the shouting and
shrieking continuing, mingled with cries and groans and fierce
exclamations, with the constant report of pistols.  Still Mr Harvey was
pushing on, when through the darkness we could distinguish a number of
persons flying towards the rear of the fort.

At length we made out others following them, the flash from their
pistols showing that they had swords in their hands.  They fortunately
turned away from where we were standing.

"There can be no doubt that the fort has been surprised, and that it
will go hard with the Count and his soldiers," said Mr Harvey.  "I
should like to have assisted him in defending his post, but perhaps the
best thing I can do is to bring up the marines to his support.  I think
we may find their quarters, though I am not very certain about the
direction."

I agreed with Mr Harvey, for I saw that it would be madness to rush
among a number of people fighting, when we could not distinguish between
friends and foes.

We accordingly made our way across the fort to where we believed we
should find the major of marines.  Mr Harvey thought we ought to keep
more to the left, but I felt certain that if we turned to the right we
should reach the building.

"Who goes there?"  I heard a voice shout out.

It was that of the sentry stationed in front of the building used for
the marine barracks, and finding who we were, he told us that the men
were mustering in the court-yard.  Hurrying forward, we there found the
major ready to lead them out.

On Mr Harvey telling him the state of things in front, he directed us
to proceed to the quarters of the Comte de Puisaye, to say that he would
endeavour to drive back the Republicans and to hold the fort until the
Count should come up with all the troops he could collect.

Mr Harvey and I accordingly hastened forward on the errand.  As we went
on, we heard several of the fugitives passing us.  One, from the clatter
of his scabbard, was evidently an officer.  Mr Harvey stopped him, and
told him that the English marines were ready to hold their ground, and
that we were going to the General's quarters, begging him, if he knew
the way, to conduct us.

This information seemed somewhat to restore his confidence; but he
expressed his fears that unless assistance could be brought immediately
to the Comte de Sombreuil, he would be overwhelmed.  He was, he
believed, defending the building in which he was quartered with several
of the leading officers, but that many who were in their houses, as well
as all those on guard, had been shot by traitorous soldiers who had
revolted.  He himself had had a narrow escape from a party of assassins,
among whom he distinguished the voices of some of his own men; but he
had cut down several of them, and then, favoured by the darkness, had
effected his escape.  We owed our safety to the brave defence made at
this time by the Comte de Sombreuil, who was thus preventing the
Republicans from advancing farther across the fort.

Conducted by the officer, whose name I forget, we at length reached the
quarters of the Comte de Puisaye.  He was issuing orders to the officers
who were coming and going, to collect the troops under his immediate
command.

As they came in they were formed up into various companies.  Being
imperfectly disciplined, they were much longer assembling than they
ought to have been, and I greatly feared that the fort would be lost.
Before the troops were ready to march.

Mr Harvey waited until he believed that they would follow in another
minute or two, and then set off with me, intending to return to where we
had left the marines.

As we got near his quarters, we heard a rapid firing, returned evidently
by a large number of men, for, as they fired their pieces, they shouted
again and again, "Vive la Republique!"  When, however, they discovered
that these were English troops in their front, they did not venture to
rush upon the bayonets they would have had to encounter.

Mr Harvey, after some difficulty, found Major Stubbs, who commanded the
marines, and told him what the General proposed doing.

"He must come pretty quickly, or we shall be overpowered," he answered.
"If it was daylight we should know what we were about, but in this
pitchy darkness, with the rain clattering down upon us, the wind howling
in our ears, and hosts of enemies pouring in on the other side of the
fort, we may get separated and cut to pieces, and I will not sacrifice
my men if I can help it."

The bullets came whistling past our heads, and it seemed to me that the
men were dropping fast, but as one marine fell the others closed up
their ranks and bravely held their ground.  What would become of them
and us I did not know; but at last the officer to whom Mr Harvey had
spoken, found us, and informed him that the Comte de Puisaye, seeing the
hopelessness of endeavouring to regain the fort, had determined to
retreat with his troops, and to save the lives of as many of the
Royalist inhabitants as he could collect, advising Major Stubbs to draw
off his men, and at the same time saying he should be obliged to him if
he would cover his retreat.

The darkness and the howling of the storm prevented the movements of the
marines being discovered.  The stout old major passed the order along
the line, and his men, facing about, made their retreat towards the rear
of the fort, which was gained before the enemy attempted to pursue them.

I don't know what the major said, but I suspect it was not complimentary
to the Comte de Puisaye.

We remained with the marines, who had, as far as I could make out, lost
a large number of men.  What had become of the young Comte de Sombreuil
and the other French officers, we could not tell; but probably, as the
firing had ceased from the building in which they had been defending
themselves, they had all been put to death.

Major Stubbs halted for some time, during which a number of inhabitants
of the houses and cottages in the neighbourhood came in entreating his
protection.

At length, escorting them, we again advanced towards the south-east
point of the peninsula, which afforded the easiest landing-place, and
which, from the nature of the ground, could be defended should the
Republicans advance in force to attack us.  We found that the Comte de
Puisaye, with upwards of a thousand of his troops, and more than double
that number of Royalists, had arrived there before us.  The Comte had
received intelligence of the attack on the fort and its capture, and
believing that de Sombreuil and his companions inside had at once been
cut to pieces, had considered it useless to go to his assistance.

He had, therefore, mustering his troops, formed an escort to the
fugitive Royalists, and immediately commenced his march to the point.

Mr Harvey expressed his fear that, in consequence of the gale, the
ships would be unable to get up to embark the people, and advised him to
make preparation foe a determined resistance should the Republicans
follow and attack him.

Scarcely had the troops been drawn up in position, to make the best
defence possible, and to protect the landing-place, than several
terror-stricken fugitives arrived, bringing the alarming intelligence
that the Republicans, in great force, under Hoche, were advancing.  The
darkness, increased by the gloomy state of the weather, continued much
longer than usual, and prevented us from ascertaining the truth of these
statements.  The unfortunate people were in the greatest alarm, for they
well knew the barbarous treatment the Royalists had received throughout
the country from the Republicans.  As their comparatively small force
could not hope to hold out long should they be attacked by the
overwhelming army of General Hoche, they fully expected to be massacred
to a man.  In vain they turned their eyes seaward; no ships could be
seen through the gloom coming to their relief, nor were there any boats
on the shore.  The wind, however, was falling, and daybreak was close at
hand.  I felt sure, also, that the marines, who were posted in a
position which would certainly first be attacked, would hold their
ground.  This gave confidence to the Royalist troops.

I was standing near Mr Harvey, who was looking seaward.  One after
another, the fugitives who had escaped from the massacre came in,
bringing further intelligence of the nearer approach of the Republicans.
One of them, an officer, told Mr Harvey that the Comte de Sombreuil,
the Bishop of Doll, and other emigrants of distinction, after holding
out in their quarters until all their ammunition had been expended, and
many of them killed, had capitulated to the Republicans on the condition
that they should be allowed to retire on board the English ships.

"This is better news than I expected," observed Mr Harvey; "I feared
that the Count and all his companions had been killed.  I wish I could
believe that the Republicans are likely to keep their word."  A short
time after this, while I was standing close to Mr Harvey on an elevated
spot overlooking the bay, the dawn broke.  He gave a shout of
satisfaction as we saw dimly through the gloom, or rather the grey light
of early morning, the whole squadron beating up.  On they came.

As the wind fell they shook out the reefs in their topsails.  There was
no time to spare if they were to save the lives of the unfortunate
people gathered on the shore.

The _Galatea_ was leading.  In fine style she came on and dropped her
anchor with a spring on her cable, so as to bring her broadside to bear
in the direction by which the Republicans would approach.

The other ships of the squadron brought up in succession, and directly
afterwards a large flotilla of boats was seen approaching the beach.

To account for the opportune arrival of the squadron at this moment, I
may state what I afterwards heard, that directly the fort was captured,
the Comte de Puisaye had sent off a boat, though she ran a great risk of
being swamped, to the commodore, who had, immediately the gale abated,
got under weigh.

The leading columns of the Republicans appeared in the distance, just as
the _Galatea's_ guns had been brought to bear on the shore.

A few shots made the enemy beat a hasty retreat, and allowed us to
embark the troops and fugitive Royalists without molestation.

The boats were under the command of Captain Keats, and by his good
management nearly four thousand people were embarked without a casualty,
leaving behind, however, for the benefit of the Republicans, ten
thousand stand of arms, ammunition of all sorts, and clothing for an
army of forty thousand men.



CHAPTER TWENTY THREE.

A FEW PARTICULARS OF THE EXPEDITION--I LEARN TO BE PATIENT--A STRANGE
SAIL--CHEATED OF A PRIZE--WE DESTROY A FRENCH FRIGATE--CHASE A BRIG--
BECALMED AT AN AWKWARD TIME--OUR CAPTAIN PLANS A CUTTING-OUT
EXPEDITION--SUCCESS OF OUR EFFORTS--DICK HAGGER AND I WITH OTHERS ARE
PUT ON BOARD A PRIZE UNDER MR. HARVEY--SAIL FOR ENGLAND.

We were now kept actively engaged, but my readers would not be
interested were I to give a detailed account of the various incidents of
the unfortunate expedition to Quiberon.  After taking possession of two
islands commanding the bay, we were despatched, in company with the
_Standard_, sixty-four, to summon the Governor of Belle Isle to deliver
up the island for the use of the French king.

The boat proceeded to the shore with a flag of truce, carrying a long
letter from the captain of the _Standard_.  A very short reply was
received, we heard, from the Republican general, who declared that, as
he was well supplied with provisions and artillery, we might come when
we liked, and he should be ready for us.

I know that we sailed away and left him alone.  Soon after this we were
joined by the _Jason_ frigate, escorting a fleet of transports,
containing four thousand British troops, under command of Major-General
Doyle, who was accompanied by the Comte d'Artois and several other
French noblemen.  The troops were landed on the Isle d'Yeu with
provisions, stores, and clothing, and there they remained doing nothing,
for nothing could be done.  The Republicans, under their clever, daring
chiefs, had completely gained the upper hand, and the Royalist cause was
lost.  We meantime had to enjoy the luxuries of salt pork and mouldy
biscuit, either blockading the enemy's ports or looking out for their
cruisers or merchantmen.

Thus we continued week after week, month after month, until my heart
grew sick at the long delay.  We had occasional opportunities of writing
home, and I always availed myself of them, but I got very few letters in
return, though my wife wrote frequently.  The packet was often carried
on to the Mediterranean, or to other more distant parts of the world.

At last, while cruising with three other frigates and an eighteen gun
brig, the _Sylph_, off the mouth of the river Gironde, we one morning
made out a French frigate in the south-south-west, standing in towards
the entrance of the river, the wind being at the time north-north-west.
Our frigate and the _Sylph_ were close in with the land, while our
consorts were considerably astern of us.  We immediately crowded all
sail to cut off the French frigate from the mouth of the river, while
our captain ordered several signals to be made, intended to deceive her
and induce her to suppose that we were also French.  Dick Hagger and I
were on the forecastle.

"She'll take the bait, I hope," he observed, glancing up at the strange
bunting which was being run up at the fore royal masthead and quickly
lowered.  "See, she's answering.  Well, it may be all ship-shape, but I
don't like telling lies, even to an enemy.  Hurrah!  I suppose the
signals were to tell her to come to an anchor, for see, she is
shortening sail."

Presently the French frigate rounded to and brought up.  It was just
what we wanted, for if she had stood on, she might have run up the river
and escaped us.  All we now had to do was to get up alongside her, and
we trusted to our guns to make her ours.  We carried on, therefore, as
we had been doing to reach her.

This probably made her suspect that all was not right, for in a few
minutes, letting fall her topsails, she stood away to the southward.

"She has cut her cable, and is off again," cried Dick; "however, she
can't get up the river, that's one comfort, and we shall have her before
long."

The French ship was now under all the canvas she could spread, standing
to the southward.  We had the lead going, for we were running through a
narrow channel, with a lighthouse on one side on some rocks, and a
sandbank on the other.  We had a pilot on board, however, who knew the
coast, and our captain was a man of firm nerve.  The men in the chains
were singing out all the time.  For my part, I know I was very glad when
we cleared the danger, and once more ran off before the wind, followed
by the commodore in the _Pomone_ and the _Anson_ frigate.  Meanwhile the
commodore sent off the _Artois_ frigate and _Sylph_ brig to examine two
suspicious ships seen away to the south-west.  Night was approaching,
and just before darkness came down on the ocean, we were not more than
two miles astern of the chase.  We could still see her dimly through the
gloom ahead, and we hoped to keep sight of her during the night.
Suddenly, however, about nine o'clock, a heavy squall struck us,
accompanied by thunder and lightning, with tremendous showers of rain.
The order was given to shorten sail.  We flew aloft; there was no time
to be lost.  The thunder rattled, almost deafening us, and the lightning
flashed in our eyes.  Between the flashes it was so dark that we had to
feel our way on the yards, for as to seeing six inches from our noses,
that was out of the question.  For nearly an hour it blew fearfully
hard, and when we came down from aloft and looked ahead, we could
nowhere see the chase, nor were either of our consorts visible astern.
We, however, continued standing to the southward as before.  What had
become of the other ships we could not tell.

"The weather seems to be clearing," observed Dick; "if we keep a sharp
look-out, the chances are we catch sight of the chase again."

The third lieutenant, who was forward peering out with his hands on
either side of his eyes, asked if any of us could see her.

"Yes, there she is!" cried Dick immediately afterwards, "away a little
on the starboard bow."

The lieutenant, looking again to assure himself that Dick was right,
sung out to the captain.  Immediately the order was given to make all
sail.  We were, during this time, scarcely more than a mile from the
shore, but the wind held fair, and there were no rocks to bring us up.
Thus we stood on until daybreak, when we found that we were about the
same distance from the chase as we had been at sunset, while, looking
round, we discovered the frigate and brig, hull down, in the north-west.

As the other vessels were so far off, we now fully expected that the
Frenchman would make a stand-up fight of it, and that before many
minutes were over we should be blazing away at her, for, as far as we
could judge, she was as big if not bigger than our ship.  All this time,
however, she had neither hoisted ensign nor pennant.  This seemed
strange, as there was no doubt about her being a Government ship.  For
some time she stood on, edging away towards the land.  "Perhaps there is
danger ahead, and the Frenchmen hope to lead us upon it," I observed to
Dick.

"We are all right as to that," he answered.  "Our master knows the coast
too well to run the ship ashore.  I only wish we could see the enemy
haul her wind to, and wait for us."

"She is going to haul her wind, see!"  I exclaimed, as I saw the French
frigate brace up her yards.

"Yes, she is, but she's putting her head towards the land; I do think
she's going to run ashore!"

That such was the case there appeared every probability; still there was
room enough for her to come about, and as we eagerly watched her, I
hoped she would do so.

She stood on and on, and presently what was my amazement to see her
mizzen-mast go by the board!

"The Frenchman must have cut it away," cried Dick.  "I was right, then."

So he was; of that there could be no doubt.  Soon afterwards down came
her mainmast.  On she went, however, until we saw that she was ashore,
and then her foremast followed the other masts, and the sea catching
her, drove her broadside on to the beach, where she heeled over away
from us, so that it was difficult to see what her crew were about.  As
the seas kept striking her, it seemed that her people must be in
considerable danger.

Our men bestowed no small amount of abuse on the French for trying to
deprive us of the frigate, when they could not keep her for themselves.

Our captain ordered three guns to be fired at her as we passed within a
quarter of a mile of the shore; but though some of hers might have been
brought to bear on us, not one was discharged.  We then stood off and
hove-to.  The boats were lowered and manned, our first lieutenant going
in command of them, with directions to effect the destruction of the
frigate.  The heavy surf breaking against her bottom, and sweeping round
towards the side turned to the shore, made it difficult and dangerous
work to attempt boarding her.

The tide was now falling, and a considerable number of the French crew
seeing us coming, in spite of the risk of being swept away, plunged into
the water, and partly by swimming and partly by wading, managed to reach
the beach.  None of them made any attempt to defend the ship, nor did we
molest the poor fellows who were making for the land.

At length we managed to get up to the ship, when the captain and several
of his officers surrendered themselves as prisoners.  We also took off a
few Portuguese seamen, who had been taken out of two captured Brazil
ships.  We were soon joined by the boats of the _Artois_ and the
_Sylph_, which had in the meantime approached.  The former was now
standing off the shore, while the _Sylph_ came close in to protect the
boats should the French seamen venture to attack us.

Having put the prisoners on board the _Artois_ and _Galatea_, we
returned once more to effect the destruction of the frigate.  The
rollers, however, went tumbling in on shore with so much fury that the
boats would probably have been lost had we made the attempt.  We
therefore had to wait patiently until the rising tide should enable us
with less hazard to get up to the ship.  Meantime we took the _Sylph_ in
tow, and carried her to within seven hundred yards of the shore, where,
dropping her anchor, she got a spring on it, and began firing away at
the frigate, so as to riddle her bottom and prevent the possibility of
her floating off at high water.  At last we once more pulled in, the
tide allowing us to approach close to the beach, when Mr Harvey, in
whose boat I was, went on shore with a flag of truce to tell the French
seamen, who were gathering in considerable numbers on the sand-hills,
that we were about to destroy their ship, and to advise them to keep out
of the way.  I was very glad when my young officer came back to the
boat.

They did not attend to the warning they received, but as soon as we
pulled for the ship they came down, threatening us in considerable
numbers.  On this the _Sylph_ opened her fire, and soon sent them to the
right about.  We now boarded the ship, which I should have said was the
_Andromaque_, and having searched every part of her to ascertain that
none of her crew or any prisoners she might have taken remained on
board, we set her on fire fore and aft, so effectually that even had the
Frenchmen returned and attempted to put out the flames they would have
found it impossible to do so.  She burned rapidly, and as we pulled away
towards the _Sylph_ the flames were bursting out through all the ports.
The _Sylph_ then got under weigh, and, taking the boats in tow, stood
off the land and rejoined the frigates.

We had not got far when a tremendous roar was heard, and we could see
the whole after-part of the ship blown into fragments, some flying
seawards, others towards the land, many rising high into the air.

We gave a cheer of satisfaction, for since we could not carry off the
frigate as a prize, the next best thing was to prevent her doing any
farther harm to our commerce.

This exploit performed, we separated from our consorts, and after
cruising about for some time, we one morning, when about twenty miles
off the land, just at daybreak, saw, inside of us, a large brig, which,
from the squareness of her yards, we knew to be a vessel of war.  The
wind was from the southward, and she was close-hauled.  We instantly
made all sail, and stood after her, hoping to get her within range of
our guns before she could run on shore, or seek for safety in port.  She
at once kept way, and was evidently steering for a harbour, though I
forget its name, which lay some short distance to the northward.  She
soon showed that she was a fast craft, for though the _Galatea_ sailed
well, she maintained her distance.  At length, getting her within range
of our long guns, we made sure of capturing her.  Two shots struck her,
but did not produce any serious damage.

"Never mind, she'll be ours in a few minutes," observed Dick, as he
stood near me at our gun.  We expected in a few minutes to send a
broadside into her.

Just then our topsails flapped loudly against the masts, and we lay
becalmed.  The brig almost immediately got out some long sweeps, and
with her boats towing ahead, quickly crept away from us.  I thought our
captain would have ordered out the boats to attack her, but I suppose
that he thought it was not worth risking the lives of the men by
boarding a vessel with a crew so strong as she probably possessed.  Thus
we lay for some hours, rolling our sides into the smooth, shining
waters.  I heard some of the officers say that they could see through
their glasses several other craft at anchor in a small bay protected by
a fort.  As evening approached a breeze sprang up, and making sail, we
stood off the land.  As soon as it was dark, however, the ship was put
about, and we stood back again for some distance, when we hove-to, and
the boats were lowered.  The captain then announced that he intended to
send four boats in, under the command of the first lieutenant; the third
lieutenant taking charge of one, Mr Harvey of another, and the
boatswain of a fourth.  Dick and I were in Mr Harvey's boat.  The
object was to cut out the brig we had chased into port, as well as any
other vessels we could get hold of.  It was just the sort of work
sailors are fond of, though at the same time often as dangerous as any
they can engage in.  They like it all the better, however, for the
danger.

The brig was to be the first attacked, and we hoped to surprise her, as
probably some of her officers and crew were ashore.  If we could take
her, we had little doubt about cutting-out one or two of the others
which had been seen at anchor.

The night was very dark, and just suited for our purpose.  The first
lieutenant took the lead in one of the gigs.  The two cutters and
pinnace followed close astern, to prevent the risk of separating.  In
perfect silence we pulled away from the frigate with muffled oars.  As
yet we could see no light to guide us, but we expected to catch sight of
some of those on shore as we drew nearer.  To get up to the anchorage we
had a point to round.  There was the risk, should any sentry be posted
there, that we should be discovered.  The lieutenant accordingly gave it
as wide a berth as he could.  Once round it, we could see the masts of
the brig against the sky, but there was no light visible, nor was any
movement perceptible on board her.  We pulled on steadily, hoping to get
up to her without being discovered.  We fancied that the Frenchmen must
be keeping a bad look-out.  On and on we glided, like spirits of evil
bent on mischief, when, as we were within a cable's length of the brig,
suddenly a flame of fire burst from her ports, with the loud reports of
six heavy guns, followed by the rattle of musketry.

"On, lads, on!" cried our commanding officer; and the boats casting off
from each other, we pulled away as hard as we could.

The first lieutenant and Mr Harvey in our boat, pulled for her bows,
one on either side, while the other boats were to board on her quarters.
Our boat was to go round to the starboard side, which was the inner
one.  The instant we hooked on, we clambered up, Mr Harvey gallantly
leading, Dick and I being close to him.  We reached the deck without
opposition, for the Frenchmen were all over on the other bow, attempting
to beat back the lieutenant and his people, so that we took them
completely by surprise, and were cutting and slashing at them before
they knew we were on deck.  They quickly turned, however, to defend
themselves, and this allowed the lieutenant and the gig's crew to
clamber on board.  United, we drove them back from the forecastle.
Some, to save themselves, tumbled down the fore-hatchway, but others,
unable to get down, retreated aft.  Here they joined the rest of the
crew, who were fighting desperately with the third lieutenant and
boatswain's party, but were being driven slowly back.

The uproar we made, the flash of the pistols, the clash of our
cutlasses, the shouts and shrieks of the combatants, served to arouse
the garrison in the fort and the crews of the other vessels.  The guns
in the fort had not opened upon us, probably because the Frenchmen were
afraid of hitting their friends, not knowing whether we had captured the
brig or been driven back.

The Frenchmen, as they generally do, fought bravely, but they could not
withstand the desperate onslaught we made.  Attacked as they were on
both sides, they were unable to retreat, and those who had been aft
leapt down the hatchways, crying out for quarter.  Mr Harvey told them
that if they made further resistance they would be shot.  He then called
his boat's crew away, as had been arranged, to cut the cable, and began
to tow the brig out of harbour, while the crew of another boat flew
aloft to loose the sails.  The canvas was let fall and rapidly sheeted
home.  The moment we began to move the fort opened fire.  One of the
first shot struck our boat, which at once commenced to fill.  Strange to
say, not a man among us was hit.  We on this dropped alongside the brig
and scrambled on board, just as the boat sank beneath our feet.  On this
the lieutenant, seeing that the brig had got good way on her, calling
his own boat's crew and that of the pinnace, shoved off, with the
intention of taking one of the other vessels, leaving the third
lieutenant and Mr Harvey to carry out the brig.  The shot from the fort
came pitching about us, and we were hulled several times.  One shot
struck the taffrail, and as the splinters flew inboard, the third
lieutenant, who was at the helm, fell.  I at once ran to help him, while
Mr Harvey took his place.  He was badly wounded, I feared; but on
recovering he desired to be left on deck, observing that should he be
taken below, the French prisoners might, he feared, get hold of him, and
hold him as a hostage, until we promised to liberate them, or restore
the brig.

Soon after this we got out of range of the guns from the fort.  Looking
astern, we could see the flashes of pistols, and could hear the rattle
of musketry, as if a sharp fight were going on.  It was very evident
that the first lieutenant was engaged in warm work.  Possibly we thought
he might have caught a tartar and been getting the worst of it.  Mr
Harvey proposed going back to his assistance, but the lieutenant feared
that if we did so, we should run a great risk of getting the brig
ashore, and might probably be captured.  We therefore stood on until we
were clear of the harbour.  Just as we were rounding the point, and
looking aft, I made out a vessel under weigh.

"Hurrah, Mr Lloyd has made a prize of another vessel," I shouted.

Some of the men doubted this, and declared that she was coming in chase
of us.  I could not deny that such might possibly be the case, but
presently the fort opened upon her, which proved, as we supposed, that
she was another prize.  We accordingly hove-to, out of range of the guns
of the fort, to wait for her; still some of the men fancied that she
might be after all, as they had at first supposed, an armed vessel
coming out to try and retake us.  To guard against this, Mr Harvey
ordered us to load the guns.  We found plenty of powder and shot, so
that we felt sure, if she was an enemy, of beating her off.  The breeze
freshened as she got clear of the harbour and stood towards us.  We were
at our guns, ready to fire should she prove an enemy.  All doubt was
banished when, on approaching, a British cheer was raised from her deck,
to which we replied, and making sail, we stood on together.

In about half an hour we were up to the frigate, when both prizes
hove-to to windward of her, that we might send our prisoners as well as
our wounded men on board.  Besides the third lieutenant, we had had only
two hurt in capturing our prize, the _Aimable_; but the first
lieutenant, in capturing the other, the _Flore_, had had two men killed
and three wounded, besides the boatswain and himself slightly.  Not only
had the crew of the _Flore_ resisted toughly, but boats had come off
from the shore and attempted to retake her, after her cable had been
cut.  The _Flore_ had, however, escaped with fewer shot in her hull than
we had received.

During the night we ran off shore, and as soon as it was daylight the
carpenters came on board to repair our damages.  The captain had
meantime directed Mr Harvey to take charge of the _Aimable_, and to
carry her into Plymouth.

"I have applied for you, Wetherholm and Hagger, to form part of my
crew," he said, on returning on board.  "I know you are anxious to get
home, as it will be some time probably before the frigate herself
returns to port."

I thanked him heartily, and Hagger, I, and the other men, sent for our
bags.  As soon as all the arrangements had been completed, we made sail
and stood for the British Channel.  The _Flore_, which sailed in our
company, had been placed under charge of the second master.  We had been
directed to keep close together so that we might afford each other
support.  The wind being light, we did not lose sight of the frigate
until just at sundown, when we saw her making sail, apparently in chase
of some vessel, to the southward.  Our brig was a letter of marque, and
had a valuable cargo on board, so that she was worth preserving, and
would give us, we hoped, a nice little sum of prize-money.

For long I had not been in such good spirits, as I hoped soon to be able
to get home and to see my beloved wife, even if I could not manage to
obtain my discharge, for which I intended to try.  When it was my watch
below, I could scarcely sleep for thinking of the happiness which I
believed was in store for me.

We had kept two Frenchmen, one to act as cook, the other, who spoke a
little English,--having been for some time a prisoner in England,--as
steward.  They were both good-natured, merry fellows.  The cook's name
was Pierre le Grande, the other we called Jacques Little.  He was a
small, dapper little Frenchman, and played the violin.  He would have
fiddled all day long, for he preferred it to anything else; but he could
not get any one to dance to him except Le Grande, who, as soon as he had
washed up his pots and kettles, came on deck, and began capering about
to Jacques' tunes in the most curious fashion possible.

The rest of us had plenty to do in getting the brig into order, and
occasionally taking a spell at the pumps, for she leaked more than was
pleasant.  We tried to discover where the water came in, but could not
succeed.  However, as the leak was not serious it did not trouble us
much.

As we were so small a crew, we were divided into only two watches.  Mr
Harvey had one and gave me charge of the other, at which I felt pleased,
for it showed that he placed confidence in me.  I understood navigation,
which none of the other men did, and I had a right to consider myself a
good seaman.



CHAPTER TWENTY FOUR.

WE ARE CHASED BY A LARGE VESSEL--OVERTAKEN BY A STORM--A STERN CHASE--
THE STRANGER IS DISMASTED--WE ARE IN A DANGEROUS POSITION--LOSS OF OUR
CREW--THE GALE MODERATES--THE BRIG GIVES SIGNS OF SINKING--WE SET ABOUT
BUILDING A RAFT--AN UNEXPECTED APPEARANCE--JACQUES AND HIS FIDDLE--THE
RAFT COMPLETED AND LAUNCHED--THE FIRST NIGHT--DICK AND I COMPARE NOTES--
TROUBLED SLEEP--A DREADFUL REALITY--MY COMPANIONS SWEPT OVERBOARD--
CLINGING ON FOR LIFE.

Two days had passed by since we left the frigate.  It was my middle
watch below, and I fancied that the greater part of it had passed by
when I heard Mr Harvey's voice shouting, "All hands on deck, and make
sail."

I was on my feet in a moment, and looking astern as I came up, I saw
through the gloom of night a large vessel to the southward, apparently
standing to the eastward, while a smaller one, which I took to be the
_Flore_, had hauled her wind, and was steering west.

"She is taking care of number one," observed Dick to me, as we together
went aloft to loose the topgallant sails, for, like a careful officer,
being short-handed, Mr Harvey had furled them at sundown.  We then
rigged out studden sail booms, hoping, should the stranger not have
perceived us, to get a good distance before daylight.  Soon after the
first streaks of dawn appeared in the eastern sky, we saw her alter her
course in pursuit of us.  We had, however, got a good start, and, unless
the wind fell, we might still hope to escape her.

At first it was doubtful whether she would follow us or the _Flore_.  If
she should follow her, we should be safe, as she would have little
chance of capturing us both.  As the day drew on the wind increased, and
at length it became evident that the stranger intended to try and take
us.

"She may, after all, be an English frigate," said Dick to me.

"Mr Harvey doesn't suppose so, or he wouldn't be so anxious to escape
her," I answered.  "He thinks it best to be on the safe side and run no
risk in the matter."

We were all at our stations, including the cook and steward, who were
told to stand by and pull and haul as they might be ordered.

I asked the latter whether he thought the ship in chase of us was
English or French.

He shrugged his shoulders, observing that he was not much of a sailor,
and could not tell one ship from another unless he saw her flag.

Mr Harvey stood with his glass in his hand, every now and then giving a
look through it astern.  Then he glanced up at the sails.  The
topgallant masts were bending like willow wands.  Every instant the wind
was increasing, and the sea was getting up; still he was unwilling to
shorten sail while there was a possibility of escaping.

At last, after taking another look through his telescope, he shut it up,
observing to me, "She's French! there's no doubt about it.  We'll hold
on as long as we can, she hasn't caught us yet."

Scarcely two minutes after this there came a crash.  Away went both our
topgallant masts, and as I looked aloft, I was afraid that the top masts
would follow.  Still the wreck must be cleared.  Dick and I sprang up
the main rigging, and I hurried aloft to clear the main-topgallant mast,
while two others, imitating our example, ascended the fore rigging.  The
brig was now plunging her bows into the fast-rising seas.  It was a
difficult and dangerous work we had undertaken, but getting out our
knives, we succeeded in cutting away the rigging, and the masts and
yards with their canvas fell overboard.

"That's one way of shortening sail," said Dick as we came on deck.  "To
my mind, the sooner we get a couple of reefs in the topsails, the
better."

This was indeed very evident.  Mr Harvey taking the helm, the rest of
us went aloft and performed the operation.  We were too much occupied to
look at the frigate.  When we came down off the yards, we saw that she
had shortened sail, but not before she also had carried away her
fore-topgallant mast.  We were still going as rapidly as before through
the water, but the increase of wind gave the advantage to the larger
ship, which kept drawing closer.

I have not spoken of time.  The day was passing, and Mr Harvey ordered
the steward and cook to bring us some food on deck, for no one could be
spared below to obtain it.  Already it was some hours past noon.  If we
could keep ahead until darkness came down, we might still manage to
escape by altering our course, as soon as we had lost sight of the
frigate.  At length, however, we saw her yaw.  She had got us within
range of her guns.  She fired, and two shot came whizzing past us.  On
this Mr Harvey ordered us to run out two long guns, brass six-pounders,
through the stern-ports, and to fire in return.

We blazed away as fast as we could run them in and load, but it was a
difficult matter to take aim with the heavy sea on through which we were
plunging.  We managed, however, to pitch two or three of our shot on
board, but what damage we caused we could not tell.

Again the frigate yawed and fired all her foremost guns.  One of the
shot came crashing into the mainmast, and two others hulled us.  I
sprang towards the mast to ascertain the extent of damage it had
received.  It seemed a wonder, with so large a piece cut out of it, that
it could stand, and I expected every moment to see it go.  Still, should
the wind not increase, I thought it might be preserved, and Mr Harvey
calling all the hands not engaged at the guns to bring as many spars as
could be collected, we began fishing it.  We were thus engaged when two
more shot pitched on board, carrying away part of the bulwarks and
capsizing one of the guns.

Another followed, bringing one of our men to the deck with his head
shattered to pieces.  Our position was becoming desperate.  Presently
two more shot struck us between wind and water.  Several of the men, who
had before shown no lack of courage, cried out that we had better strike
before we were sent to the bottom.

"Not while our masts stand," answered Mr Harvey firmly.

We had had but slight experience in fishing masts, so I had little
confidence in its strength.  Mr Harvey then called me aft to work one
of the guns.

I again pitched a shot into the frigate.  My great hope was that I might
knock away one of her spars, and give us a better chance of escaping.
The wind had been drawing round to the westward of south.  We still kept
before it.  Presently the frigate braced up her yards, intending
apparently to fire her whole broadside at us.  As she did so, the wind
suddenly increased.  Over she heeled.  She was almost concealed from
sight by the clouds of spray and dense masses of rain which came
suddenly down like a sheet from the sky.

Even before Mr Harvey could give the word we were letting fly
everything.  The brig rushed on through the foaming seas.  When I looked
aft, I could just distinguish the dark hull of the frigate rolling
helplessly from side to side, her masts gone by the board.

On we flew, soon losing sight of her altogether.  Though our masts were
standing, our canvas, except the fore-topsail, was blown to ribbons.
The storm showed no signs of abating, for although there was a short
lull, the wind again blew as hard as ever.  The thunder roared, the
lightning flashed from the clouds, and the night became pitchy dark.
The seas increased, and, as they came rolling up, threatened to poop us.

How long the gale might last it was impossible to say.  Before it had
abated we might have run on the Irish coast.  It would be wiser to heave
the brig to while there was time; but the question wag whether the
mainmast would stand.  The fore-topsail was closely reefed, the helm was
put down; but as the vessel was coming up to the wind, a sea struck us,
a tremendous crash followed, the mainmast, as we had feared, went at the
place where it had been wounded, and, falling overboard, was dashed with
violence against the side, which it threatened every moment to stave in.

Mr Harvey, seizing an axe and calling on us to follow and assist in
clearing away the wreck before more damage was done, sprang forward.  At
any moment the sea, striking the vessel, might sweep us off the deck.
With the energy almost of despair, we worked away with axes and knives,
and at length saw the mast drop clear of the side.  While we were still
endeavouring to clear away the wreck of the mast, Mr Harvey had sent
one of the crew below to search for some more axes, as we had only three
among us.  Just at this juncture he came on deck, exclaiming, in a voice
of alarm, "The water is rushing in like a mill sluice!"

"Then we must pump it out," cried Mr Harvey, "or try and stop it if we
can.  Man the pumps!"

We had two each, worked by a couple of hands, and we began labouring
away, knowing that our lives might depend upon our exertions.

The brig lay to more easily than I should have supposed possible, though
we were still exposed to the danger of an overwhelming sea breaking on
board us.  We got the hatches, however, battened down, and kept a
look-out, ready to catch hold of the stanchions or stump of the
mainmast, to save ourselves, should we see it coming.

As soon as the pumps had been manned, Mr Harvey himself went below,
accompanied by Dick and another hand, carrying a lantern to try and
ascertain where the water was coming in, with the greatest rapidity.

It appeared to me that he was a long time absent.  He said nothing when
he at last came up, by which I guessed that he had been unable to
discover the leak.  "As long as there is life there's hope, lads," he
said: "we must labour on to the last;" and he took the place of a man
who had knocked off at the pumps.  He worked away as hard as any man on
board.  After some time I begged that I might relieve him, and he went
and secured himself to a stanchion on the weather side.  I at last was
obliged to cry "Spell ho!" and let another man take my place.

I had just got up to where Mr Harvey was seated on deck, and having
taken hold of the same stanchion, remarked that the brig remained
hove-to better than I should have expected.

"Yes," he observed; "the foremast is stepped much further aft than in
English vessels, but I wish that we had been able to get up preventer
stays; it would have made the mast more secure."

Scarcely had he uttered the words than a tremendous sea came rolling up
and burst over the vessel.

"Hold on for your lives, lads!" shouted Mr Harvey.

Down came the sea, sweeping over the deck.  I thought the brig would
never rise again.  At the same instant I heard a loud crash.  Covered as
I was with water, I could, however, see nothing for several seconds; I
supposed, indeed, that the brig was sinking.  I thought of my wife, my
uncle and aunt, and our cosy little home at Southsea, and of many an
event in my life.  The water roared in my ears, mingled with fearful
shrieks.  Chaos seemed round me.  Minutes, almost hours, seemed to go
by, and I continued to hear the roar of the seas, the crashing of
timbers, and the cries of my fellow-men.

It must have been only a few seconds when the brig rose once more, and
looking along the deck I saw that our remaining mast had gone as had the
bowsprit, while, besides Mr Harvey, I could distinguish but one man
alone on the deck, holding on to the stump of the mainmast.  At first I
thought that Mr Harvey might have been killed, but he was only stunned,
and speedily recovered.  He got on his feet and looked about him, as if
considering what was to be done.

"We're in a bad state, Wetherholm, but, as I before said, while there's
life there's hope.  We must try to keep the brig afloat until the
morning and perhaps, as we are in the track of vessels coming in and out
of the Channel, we may be seen and taken off.  Where are the rest of the
men?"

"I am afraid, sir, they are washed overboard, except the man we see
there; who he is I can't make out."

"Call him," said Mr Harvey.

"Come aft here!"  I shouted.

"Ay, ay!" answered a voice which, to my great satisfaction, I recognised
as that of Dick Hagger.  He did not, however, move, but I saw that he
was engaged in casting himself loose.  He at length staggered aft to
where we were holding on.

"Did you call me, sir?" he asked.

"Yes, my man.  Where are the rest of the people?" said Mr Harvey.

"That's more than I can tell, sir," answered Dick.  "I saw the sea
coming, and was making myself fast, when I got a lick on the head which
knocked the senses out of me."  After saying this, he looked forward,
and for the first time seemed to be aware that we three, as far as we
could tell, were the only persons left on board.

The blast which had carried away the foremast seemed to be the last of
the gale.  The wind dropped almost immediately, and though the seas came
rolling up and tumbled the hapless brig about, no others of the height
of the former one broke over us.  Our young officer was quickly himself
again, and summoned Hagger and me to the pumps.

We all worked away, knowing that our lives might depend upon our
exertions.  Though we did not gain on the water, still the brig remained
buoyant.  This encouraged us to hope that we might keep her afloat until
we could be taken off.  It was heavy work.  Dick and I tried to save our
officer, who had less physical strength than we had, as much as
possible.

Hour after hour we laboured on, the brig rolling fearfully in the trough
of the sea, and ever and anon the water rushed over us, while we held
fast to save ourselves from being carried away.  At length we could
judge by the movement of the vessel that the sea was going down, as we
had expected it would do since there was no longer any wind to agitate
it.

At length daylight broke, but when we looked out over the tumbling,
lead-coloured ocean, not a sail could we discern.  We sounded the well,
and found eight feet of water.  Our boats had all been destroyed,--
indeed, had one remained, she would even now scarcely have lived.

"We may keep the brig afloat some hours longer, but that is uncertain,"
said Mr Harvey, after he had ceased pumping to recover strength.  "We
must get a raft built without delay, as the only means of saving our
lives.  At present we could scarcely hold on to it, but as the sea is
going down, we will wait to launch it overboard till the brig gives
signs of being about to founder."

We agreed with him.  He told us to take off the main hatch, and get up
some spars which we knew were stowed below.  While we were thus
occupied, my head was turned aft.  The companion-hatch was drawn back,
and, greatly to our surprise, there appeared the head of Jacques Little.
He was rubbing his eyes, looking more asleep than awake.

"_Ma foi_!" he exclaimed, gazing forward with an expression of horror on
his countenance, "vat hav happened?"

"Come along here and lend a hand, you skulking fellow!" cried Dick.
"Where have you been all this time?"

"Sleep, I suppose, in de cabin," answered Jacques.  "Vere are all de
rest?"

"Gone overboard," said Dick.  "Come along, there's no time for
jabbering."

"Vat an Le Grande?" exclaimed Jacques.  "_Oh! comme je suis fache_!  Dat
is bad, very bad."

Jacques had evidently been taking a glass or two of cognac to console
himself, and even now was scarcely recovered from its effects.  We made
him, however, help us, and once aroused, he was active enough.  Between
whiles, as we worked at the raft, we took a spell at the pumps.  At last
Mr Harvey told us that our time would be best spent on the raft.  We
sent Jacques to collect all the rope he could find, as well as to bring
up some carpenter's tools and nails.  Having lashed the spars together,
we fixed the top of the main hatch to it, and then brought up the doors
from the cabin, and such portions of the bulk-heads as could be most
easily knocked away.  We thus in a short time put together a raft,
capable of carrying four persons, provided the sea was not very rough.
Most of the bulwarks on the starboard or lee side had been knocked away;
it was therefore an easy task to clear a space sufficient to launch the
raft overboard.  We hauled it along to the side, ready to shove into the
water directly the brig should give signs of settling.  Still she might
float for an hour or two longer.

Dick, while searching for the spars, had found a spare royal, which,
after being diminished in size, would serve as a sail should the wind be
sufficiently light to enable us to set one.  We put aside one of the
smaller spars to fit as a mast, with sufficient rope for sheets and
halyards.

Mr Harvey gave an anxious look round, but not a sail appeared above the
horizon.  He then ordered Jacques to go below and bring up all the
provisions he could get at, and a couple of beakers of water.
Fortunately there were two, both full, kept outside the cabin for the
use of the pantry.  We soon had these hoisted up, and Jacques speedily
returned with a couple of baskets, in which he had stowed some biscuits,
several bottles of wine, some preserved fruits, and a few sausages.

"Come, lads, we are not likely to be ill provisioned," said Mr Harvey,
making the remark probably to keep up our spirits.

Once more he sounded the well while we were giving the finishing strokes
to our raft.  He did not say the depth of water in the hold, but
observed, in a calm tone, "Now we'll get our raft overboard."  We had
secured stays with tackles to the outer side, so as to prevent it
dipping into the water.  By all four working together, and two easing
away the tackles, we lowered it without accident.  We had found some
spare oars, and had secured a couple of long poles to enable us to shove
it off from the side.  There were also beckets fixed to it, and
lashings, with which to secure ourselves as well as the casks and
baskets of provisions.

"Be smart, lads, leap on to the raft!" cried Mr Harvey.

Dick and I obeyed, and he lowered us down the baskets, but Jacques,
instead of following our example, darted aft and disappeared down the
companion-hatchway.

"Comeback, you mad fellow!" exclaimed Mr Harvey, still standing on the
deck, wishing to be the last man to leave the brig.

"You had better come, sir," I could not help saying; for I feared, from
the depth the brig already was in the water, that she might at any
moment take her last plunge.

We were not kept long in suspense.  Again Jacques appeared, carrying his
fiddle and fiddlestick in one hand, and a bottle of cognac in the other,
and, making a spring, leapt on the raft.  Mr Harvey leapt after him.

"Cast off," he cried, "quick, quick!"

We let go the ropes which held the raft to the brig, and, seizing the
poles, shoved away with all our might; then taking the paddles in hand,
we exerted ourselves to the utmost to get as far as we could away from
the sinking vessel.

We were not a moment too soon, for almost immediately afterwards she
settled forward, and her stern lifting, down she glided beneath the
ocean, and we were left floating on the still troubled waters.  Yet we
had cause to be thankful that we had saved our lives.  We were far
better off than many poor fellows have been under similar circumstances;
for we had provisions, the sea was becoming calmer and calmer, and the
weather promised to be fine.  We could scarcely, we thought, escape
being seen by some vessel either outward or homeward-bound.  There was
too much sea on to permit us, without danger, to set the sail, but we
got the mast stepped and stayed up in readiness.  The wind was still
blowing from the southward, and we hoped it would continue to come from
that direction, as we might thus make the Irish coast, or if not, run up
Saint George's Channel, where we should be in the track of numerous
vessels.

The day was now drawing to a close, and we prepared to spend our first
night on the raft Mr Harvey settled that we should keep watch and
watch, he with Jacques in one and Dick and I in the other.  The weather
did not look altogether satisfactory; but as the sea had gone down, we
hoped that we should enjoy a quiet night, and get some sleep, which we
all needed.

Jacques seemed in better spirits than the rest of us; he either did not
understand our dangerous position, or was too light-hearted to let it
trouble him.

"Why should we be dull, Messieurs," he said, "when we can sing and
play!"  And he forthwith took his fiddle, which he had stuck up in one
of the baskets, and began scraping away a merry air, which, jarring on
our feelings, had a different effect to what he had expected.  Still he
scraped on, every now and then trolling forth snatches of French songs.
At last, Mr Harvey told him to put up his fiddle for the present, and
to lie down and go to sleep.

"I shall want you to look out by and by, when I keep my watch," he said;
"and meantime you, Wetherholm and Hagger, take charge of the raft, and I
hope in a short time to be able to let you lie down."

Saying this, Mr Harvey laid down on a small platform which we had built
for the purpose of enabling two of us at a time to be free of the wash
of the water.  Dick and I kept our places, lashed to the raft with our
paddles in our hands.  Our young officer was asleep almost immediately
he placed his head upon the piece of timber which ran across the
platform and served to support the mast.

"What do you think of matters, Will?" asked Dick, after a long silence.
"If it comes on to blow, will this raft hold together?"

"I fear not," I answered; "at all events, we should find it a hard job
to keep alive on it if the sea were to get up, for it would wash over
and over us, and although we might hold on, our provisions would be
carried away.  I hope, however, before another day is over that we shall
be picked up by some homeward-bound craft; but don't let such thoughts
trouble you, Dick.  Having done our best, all we can do is to pray that
we may be preserved."

"I don't let them trouble me," answered Dick, "but still they will come
into my head.  I've fought for my king and country, and have done my
duty, and am prepared for the worst."

"You should trust rather to One who died for sinners," I felt myself
bound to say.  "He will save our souls though our bodies perish."

"I have never been much of a scholar, but I know that," answered Dick,
"and I believe that our officer knows it too.  If he didn't, he would
not be as sound asleep as he is now."

I was very glad to hear Dick say this, for although we were at present
much better off than we might have been, I was fully alive to our
precarious situation.  Even should the weather prove fine, we might not
reach the shore for many a day, and our provisions and water would not
hold out long, while, should it come on to blow, they might be lost, and
we should be starved, even if the raft should hold together and we had
strength to cling on to it.

Dick and I occasionally exchanged remarks after this, but still the time
went on very slowly.  Neither of us had the heart to call up Mr Harvey;
but about midnight, as far as I could judge, he started up, and calling
Jacques, told Dick and me to lie down.  We did so thankfully securing
ourselves with lashings one on either side of the mast.  Before I closed
my eyes, I observed that not a star was twinkling in the sky which
seemed overcast down to the horizon.  Though there was not much wind,
there was rather more than there had been, and there was still too much
sea on to allow us to set sail.

I was never much given to dreaming, but on this occasion, though I
closed my eyes and was really asleep, I fancied all sorts of dreadful
things.  Now the raft appeared to be sinking down to the depths of the
ocean, now it rose to the top of a tremendous sea, to sink once more
amid the tumbling waters.  I heard strange cries and shrieks, and then
the howling of a gale as if in the rigging of a ship.  I thought I was
once more on board the brig, and saw the sea which had swept away my
shipmates come rolling up towards us.  Again the shrieks which I had
heard sounded in my ears, and I felt the wild waters rushing over me.  I
started up to find that it was a dreadful reality.  The portion of the
raft to which I was clinging was almost submerged.  The larger part
appeared broken up.  I looked round for my companions.  The night was
pitchy dark, I could see no one.  I called to them, there was no reply.
I felt across to where Dick had been--he was gone!

"Dick Hagger, Mr Harvey, Jacques, where are you?"  I shouted.

Dick's voice replied, "Heave a rope and haul us in."  I felt about for
one, but not a line could I find, except the lashings attached to the
raft.

"Where are you?"  I again cried out.

"Here, with Mr Harvey; I tried to save him," was the answer.

Alas, how helpless I felt!  With frantic haste I endeavoured to draw out
some of the lashings, in the hopes of forming a line long enough to
reach Dick, but my efforts were in vain.  The raft was tossing wildly
about.  It was with the greatest difficulty I could cling on to it,
pressing my knees round one of the cross timbers.  I heard once more the
cry:

"Good-bye, Will, God help you!" and then I knew that Dick and the young
officer he was trying to save had sunk beneath the waves.

Again and again I shouted, but no voice replied.  Though thus left
alone, I still desired to live, and continued clinging to the shattered
raft, tossed about by the foaming seas.  Frequently the water rushed
over me; it was difficult to keep my head above it long enough to regain
my breath before another wave came rolling in.  It seemed to me an age
that I was thus clinging on in pitchy darkness, but I believe the
catastrophe really occurred only a short time before daylight.  In what
direction the wind was blowing I could not tell.  When the raft rose to
the top of a sea I endeavoured to look round.  No sail was in sight, nor
could I distinguish the land.  I felt that I could not hold out many
hours longer.  One of the baskets still remained lashed to the raft, but
its contents had been washed out, and the casks of water had been
carried away.  Hour after hour passed by.  There was less sea running,
and the wind had somewhat gone down.  The thoughts of my wife still kept
me up, and made me resolve to struggle to the last for life, but I was
growing weaker and weaker.  At length I fell off into a kind of stupor,
though I still retained sufficient sense to cling to the rail.



CHAPTER TWENTY FIVE.

AT THE LAST GASP--TAKEN ON BOARD THE SOLWAY CASTLE INDIAMAN--
HOMEWARD-BOUND--HOPES OF FREEDOM AT LAST--WE ENTER THE THAMES--SHIP
BRINGS UP AT THE MOUTH OF THE MEDWAY--VISITED BY A PRESSGANG--CARRIED ON
BOARD THE GLATTON, 56 GUNS, CAPTAIN HENRY TROLLOPE--SAIL TO JOIN THE
NORTHERN FLEET UNDER ADMIRAL DUNCAN--REACH YARMOUTH ROADS--SENT TO JOIN
A SQUADRON OFF HELVOETSLUIS--THE GLATTON ENCOUNTERS A FRENCH SQUADRON OF
FOUR FRIGATES, TWO CORVETTES, A BRIG, AND CUTTER--WE ENGAGE THEM, AND
OUR HEAVY CARRONADES FEARFULLY CUT THEM UP--THEY TAKE TO FLIGHT AND
ESCAPE--WHILE RETURNING TO YARMOUTH I FALL OVERBOARD--FIND A BOAT--
PICKED UP BY A CUTTER BOUND TO PLYMOUTH--BECALMED OFF THE EDDYSTONE--AM
AGAIN SEIZED BY A PRESSGANG AND TAKEN ON BOARD THE CLEOPATRA--MY
DESPAIR--SAIL FOR THE WEST INDIES--A DESPERATE BATTLE--OVERPOWERED BY
NUMBERS--WE STRIKE OUR FLAG--MISERABLE CONTEMPLATIONS.

How long I had remained thus I could not tell, when I was aroused by
hearing a man's voice, and looking up, saw a boat close to me, beyond
her a ship hove-to.  One of the crew sprang on to the raft, and casting
off the lashings, he and others leaning over the bow of the boat,
dragged me on board.  After this I knew nothing until I found myself in
a hammock on board a large merchantman.  A surgeon soon afterwards came
to me.

"You will do well enough now, my man," he said to me in a kind voice;
"but you were almost gone when we picked you up."

I inquired what ship I was on board.

"The _Solway Castle_, homeward-bound East Indiaman," he answered.

This was indeed satisfactory news, as I should now, I trusted, be able
to get back to my dear wife without the necessity of asking leave.  I
might indeed almost consider myself a free man, for I did not feel that
it would be my duty to return to the _Galatea_, considering that the
prize I had been put on board had gone down.  After the doctor had left
me, the sick bay attendant brought me a basin of soup which wonderfully
revived me, and in shorter time than the doctor said he expected I could
not help acknowledging that I was almost myself again.

I felt very sad as I thought of the loss of young Mr Harvey and my old
friend Dick Hagger; still the hopes of so soon being at home again made
me think less of them than I might otherwise have done, and contributed
greatly to restore my strength.  I was treated in the kindest way by the
doctor, and many others on board, who, having heard my history,
commiserated my hitherto hard fate.  A fair breeze carried us up
Channel.  When I was able to go on deck I kept a look-out, half
expecting to see an enemy's ship bear down on us, although, unless she
should be a powerful frigate or line-of-battle ship, she would have had
a hard job to capture the _Solway Castle_, which was well armed, and
carried a numerous crew.  Still I could not help recollecting the old
saying, "There's many a slip between the cup and the lip."  The truth
was, I had not yet recovered my full strength, and the doctor remarked
that I required tonics to set me up and drive gloomy thoughts out of my
head.  We kept well over to the English coast to avoid the risk of
falling in with French cruisers.  We had got abreast of Portland when a
strange sail was made out to the southward, which, as she was seen
edging in towards the land, it was supposed without doubt was an enemy.
The passengers, of whom there were a good number returning after a long
absence from India, began to look very blue.

"Never fear, ladies and gentlemen," I heard the captain observe, "we'll
show the Frenchman that we're not afraid of him, and the chances are,
make him afraid of us."  Saying this, he ordered the studden sails we
had carried to be taken in, and the royals to be set, and then bringing
the ship on a wind, boldly stood out towards the stranger.  The effect
was as desired.  The stranger, hauling her wind, stood away to the
southward, taking us probably for a line-of-battle ship, which the stout
old "tea chest" resembled at a distance.  By yawing and towing a sail
overboard, we stopped our way, until the captain thought the object had
been answered, when once more, squaring away the yards, we continued our
course up the Channel.

As we passed the Isle of Wight, I cast many a look at its picturesque
shores, hoping that a pilot boat might put off at the Needles, and that
I might have the opportunity of returning in her, but none boarded us
until we were near the Downs, when, unfortunately, I was below, and
before I could get on deck the boat was away.  However, I consoled
myself with the reflection that in another day or two we should be safe
in the Thames, and I resolved not to lose a moment in starting for
Portsmouth as soon as I stepped on shore.  I thought that I might borrow
some money from my friend the doctor, or some of the passengers, who
would, I believed, willingly have lent it me, or if not, I made up my
mind to walk the whole distance, and beg for a crust of bread and a
drink of water should there be no other means of obtaining food.  My
spirits rose as the lofty cliffs of Dover hove in sight, and rounding
the North Foreland, we at length, the wind shifting, stood majestically
up the Thames.  When off the Medway, the wind fell, and the tide being
against us, we had to come to an anchor.  We had not been there long
when a man-of-war's boat came alongside.  I observed that all her crew
were armed, and that she had a lieutenant and midshipman in her, both
roughish-looking characters.  They at once stepped on board with an
independent, swaggering air.  The lieutenant desired the captain to
muster all hands.  My heart sank as I heard the order.  I was on the
point of stowing myself away, for as I did not belong to the ship, I
hoped to escape.  Before I had time to do so, however, the midshipman, a
big whiskered fellow, more like a boatswain's mate than an officer, with
two men, came below and ordered me up with the rest.  The captain was
very indignant at the behaviour of the lieutenant and the midshipman,
declaring that his crew were protected, and had engaged to sail in
another of the Company's ships after they had had a short leave on
shore.

"Well and good for those who are protected, but those who are not must
accompany me," answered the lieutenant.  "We want hands to man our
men-of-war who protect you merchantmen, and hands we must get by hook or
by crook."  Having called over the names, he selected twenty of the best
men who had no protection.  I was in hopes I should escape, when the
midshipman pointed me out.

The lieutenant inquired if I belonged to the ship.  I had to acknowledge
the truth, when, refusing to hear anything I had to say, though I
pleaded hard to be allowed to go free, he ordered me with the rest into
the boat alongside.  Having got all the men he could obtain, the
lieutenant steered for Sheerness, and took us alongside a large ship
lying off the dockyard, where she had evidently been fitting out.  She
looked to me, as we approached her, very much like an Indiaman, and such
I found she had been.  She was, in truth, the _Glatton_, of one thousand
two hundred and fifty-six tons, which had a short time before been
purchased, with several other ships, from the East India Company by the
British Government.  She was commanded, I found, by Captain Henry
Trollope, and carried fifty-six guns, twenty-eight long
eighteen-pounders on the upper deck, and twenty-eight carronades,
sixty-eight pounders, on the lower deck.  Her crew consisted in all of
three hundred and twenty men and boys, our arrival almost making up the
complement.  The ship's company was superior to that of most ships in
those days, although somewhat scanty considering the heavy guns we had
to work.

We were welcomed on board, and I heard the lieutenant remark that he had
made a good haul of prime hands.  It was a wonder, men taken as we had
been, could submit to the severe discipline of a man-of-war, but all
knew that they had do help for it.  They had to run the risk of being
flogged or perhaps hung as mutineers if they took any steps to show
their discontent, or to grin and bear it.

Most of them, as I did myself, preferred the latter alternative.  I had
never before seen such enormous guns as were our sixty-eight pounder
carronades, larger than any yet used in the service,--indeed, their
muzzles were almost of equal diameter with the ports, so that they could
only be pointed right abeam.  We had neither bow nor stern-chasers,
which was also a great drawback.  Some of the men, when looking at the
guns, declared that they should never be able to fight them; however, in
that they were mistaken.  Practice makes perfect, and we were kept
exercising them for several hours every day.

The ship was nearly ready for sea, and soon after I was taken on board
we sailed from Sheerness, for the purpose of reinforcing the North Sea
Fleet under Admiral Duncan.  In four or five days, during which we were
kept continually exercising the guns, we arrived in Yarmouth Roads.
Scarcely had we dropped anchor than we were ordered off again to join a
squadron of two sail of the line and some frigates, commanded by Captain
Savage of the _Albion_, sixty-four, supposed to be cruising off
Helvoetsluis.

Next morning, long before daylight,--it had gone about two bells in the
middle watch,--we made the coast of Flanders, and through the gloom
discovered four large ships under the land.  The wind, which had
hitherto been fresh, now fell, and we lay becalmed for some hours in
sight of Goree steeple, which bore south by east.  We and the strangers
all this time did not change our relative positions.  That they were
enemies we had no doubt, but of what force we could not make out.  As
the day wore on, a breeze sprang up from the north-west; at the same
time we saw two other good-sized ships join the four already in view.
We instantly made all sail, and stood towards the strangers, making
signals as soon as we got near enough for them to distinguish our
bunting.  No reply being made, we were satisfied that they were an
enemy's squadron.  There were four frigates and two ship corvettes,
while a large brig corvette and an armed cutter were seen beating up to
join them from leeward.

"We're in a pretty mess.  If all those fellows get round us, they'll
blow us out of the water, and send us to the bottom," I heard one of the
sailors who had been pressed out of the Indiaman observe.

"Our captain doesn't think so, my boy," answered an old hand.  "Depend
upon it, he intends trying what the mounseers will think of our big
guns."

The order was now given to clear for action, and we stood on with a
light breeze in our favour towards the enemy.  The wind freshening, the
four frigates, in close line of battle, stood to the north-east.
Shortly afterwards they shortened sail, backing their mizzen-topsails
occasionally to keep in their stations.  We were nearing them fast.  Up
went the glorious flag of Old England, the Saint George's ensign, just
as we arrived abreast of the three rearmost ships, the two corvettes and
the smallest of the frigates.  Our captain ordered us, however, not to
fire a shot until we had got up to the largest, which he believed from
her size to be the commodore's, and intended to attack.

"I wonder what we are going to be after?"  I heard the man from the
Indiaman inquire.  "We seem to be mighty good friends; perhaps, after
all, those ships are English."

"Wait a bit, my bo', you'll see," answered the old hand, "our captain
knows what he's about.  If we can knock the big one to pieces, the
others will very soon give in."

The ship next ahead of the commodore had now fallen to leeward, so that
the latter formed the second in the line.  Not a word was spoken.  I
should have said that as we had not men sufficient for our guns, for
both broadsides at the same time, we were divided into gangs, one of
which, having loaded and run out the gun, was directed to leave it to be
pointed and fired by the others, picked hands, and we were then to run
over and do the same to the gun on the other side.  We thus hoped to
make amends for the smallness of our numbers.

The ship we were about to attack was evidently much larger than the
_Glatton_, upwards of three hundred tons as it was afterwards proved,
but that did not daunt our gallant captain.  We continued standing on
until we ranged close up alongside her, when our captain hailed and
desired her commander to surrender to his Britannic Majesty's ship.  No
verbal reply was made, but instead, the French colours and a broad
pendant were hoisted, showing that the ship we were about to engage was,
as we had supposed, that of the commodore.  Scarcely had the colours
been displayed, than she opened her fire, her example being followed by
the other French ships.  We waited to reply until we were within twenty
yards of her.  Then we did reply with a vengeance, pouring in our
tremendous broadside.  The shrieks and cries which rose showed the
fearful execution it had committed.

Still the French commodore continued firing, and we ran on, keeping
about the same distance as before, exchanging broadsides.  Meantime the
van ship of the enemy tacked, evidently expecting to be followed by the
rest of the squadron, and thereby drive us upon the Brill shoal, which
was close to leeward.  The van ship soon after arrived within hail of us
on our weather-beam, and received our larboard guns, which well-nigh
knocked in her sides, while the groans and shrieks which arose from her
showed that she had suffered equally with her commodore.  Anxious to
escape a second dose of the same quality of pills, she passed on to the
southward, while we cheered lustily at seeing her beaten.  We had not
much time for cheering; we were still engaged with the commodore on our
lee bow, while the second largest frigate lay upon our lee quarter,
blazing away at us.  Just then our pilot shouted out, "If we do not
tack, in five minutes we shall be on the shoal!"

"Never mind," answered the captain; "when the French commodore strikes
the ground, put the helm a-lee."

Just as he spoke, the French ship tacked, evidently to avoid the shoal,
and while she was in stays, we poured in another heavy raking fire which
well-nigh crippled her.  Meantime the other French ships had gone about.

"Helm's a-lee!"  I heard shouted out, but as our sails and rigging were
by this time terribly cut about, it seemed as if we should be unable to
get the ship round.  The wind, however, at last filled our sails, and
round she came.  We, as well as the Frenchmen, were now all standing on
the starboard tack.  The three largest frigates had fallen to leeward,
and could do us but little damage, but the three smaller ones kept up a
harassing long-shot fire, to which we, on account of the distance, could
offer but a very slight return.  All our topmasts being wounded, and the
wind freshening, it became necessary to take a reef in the topsails.  In
spite of the risk we ran, the moment the order was issued we swarmed
aloft, though we well knew that at any moment the masts might fall,
while the enemy's shot came flying among us.

The frigates and the two corvettes to leeward, seeing us cease firing,
stood up, hoping to find us disabled; but springing below, we were soon
again at our guns, and gave them such a dose, knocking away several of
their yards, that they soon stood off again to join the other ships,
which had already had enough of it.  I forgot to say that latterly we
had had the brig and the cutter close under our stern, and as we had no
guns with which to reply to the smart fire they opened, we could only
fire at them with musketry.  After a few volleys, however, they beat a
retreat, and as night closed down upon us, all firing ceased on both
sides.  The Frenchmen had fired high, and our sails and rigging were too
much cut up to enable us to follow them.  Strange as it may appear,
scarcely a dozen shot had struck the hull, and in consequence,
notwithstanding the tremendous fire to which we had been exposed, we had
not had a single man killed, and two only, the captain and corporal of
marines, wounded.  The former, however, poor man, died of his wounds
shortly afterwards.  During the night every effort was made to get the
ship into a condition to renew the action.  At daybreak we saw the
French squadron draw up in a close head and stern line.  By eight
o'clock, having knotted and spliced our rigging, bent new sails, and
otherwise refitted the ship, we stood down to offer battle to the enemy,
but they had swallowed enough of our sixty-eight pounders, and about
noon they bore away for Flushing.  We followed until there was no hope
of coming up with them, when our ship's head was turned northward, and
we steered for Yarmouth Roads, to get the severe damages we had received
more effectually repaired than we could at sea.

I afterwards heard that the large French frigate we had engaged was the
_Brutus_, which had been a seventy-four cut down, and now mounted from
forty-six to fifty guns.  We saw men and stages over the sides of the
French ships stopping shot-holes, and we heard that one of them had sunk
in harbour.

I was in hopes that we should go back to Sheerness to refit, and that I
might thus have an opportunity of getting home.  I had done my duty
during the action, so had every one else.  The wind freshening during
the night, the hands were ordered up aloft to shorten sail.

"Be smart, my lads," I heard the officer of the watch sing out, "or we
may have the masts over the sides."

I was on the main-topsail yard-arm to leeward, when, just as I was about
to take hold of the ear-ring, the ship gave a lurch, the foot rope,
which must have been damaged, gave way, and before I could secure
myself, I was jerked off into the sea.  It was better than falling on
deck, where I should have been killed, to a certainty.  I sang out, but
no one heard me, and to my horror, I saw the ship surging on through the
darkness, and I was soon left far astern.  I shouted again and again,
but the flapping of the sails, the rattling of the blocks, and the
howling of the wind drowned my voice.

At the same time the main-topgallant mast with its sail and yard was
carried away.  I saw what had happened, and I feared that two poor
fellows who had been handing the sail must have been killed.  Their fate
made me for the moment forget my own perilous condition.  When I saw
that I had no hope of regaining the ship, I threw myself on my back to
recover my breath, and then looked about, as I rose to the top of a sea,
to ascertain if there was anything floating near at hand on which I
might secure myself.  Though I could see nothing, I did not give way to
despair, but resolved to struggle to the last for life.  Having rested,
I swam on until a dark object appeared before me.  It was a boat, which,
though filled with water, would, I hoped, support me.  I clambered into
her, and after resting, examined her condition.  She was, as far as I
could ascertain, uninjured.  I had my hat on, secured by a lanyard, and
immediately set to work to bale her out with it.  I succeeded better
than I could have expected, for though the sea occasionally washed into
her, I managed by degrees to gain upon the water.  At length I found
that her gunwale floated three or four inches above the surface.  This
encouraged me to go on, and before daybreak she was almost clear.  When
dawn broke I looked out, but no land was in sight, nor was a sail to be
seen.  I was without food or water, but I hoped to be able to endure
hunger and thirst for some hours without suffering materially.

The day went on, the hot summer's sun beat down upon my head, and dried
my clothes.  Several sail passed in the distance, but none came near me.
There was nothing in the boat with which I could form even a paddle.  I
looked round again and again, thinking it possible that I might find
some spar which might serve cut in two as a mast and yard.  I would
then, I thought, try to steer this boat to land, with the help of one of
the thwarts, which I would wrench out to make a rudder, using my clothes
tacked together as a sail.

Such ideas served to amuse my mind, but no spar could I see.  Another
night came on, and, overcome by hunger, thirst, and weariness, I lay
down in the bottom of the boat to sleep.  At length I awoke.  Some time
must have passed since I lay down.  I felt so low, that I scarcely
expected to live through another day should I not be picked up.  I
looked about anxiously to ascertain if any sail was near; none was
visible, and I once more sank back in a state of stupor.  I knew nothing
more until I found myself in the fore peak of a small vessel, a man
sitting by the side of the bunk in which I lay feeding me with broth.
In a few hours I had recovered sufficiently to speak.  I asked the
seaman who had been attending me, what vessel I was on board.

"The _Fidelity_, collier, bound round from Newcastle to Plymouth," he
answered.  "We picked you up at daybreak.  The captain and mate thought
you were gone, but I saw there was life in you, and got you placed in my
bunk.  You'll do well now, I hope."

I replied that I already felt much better, thanks to his kind care, and
asked his name.

"Ned Bath," he answered.  "I've only done to you what I'd have expected
another to do for me, so don't talk about it."

He then inquired my name.  I told him, giving him an outline of my
history, how I had been carried off from my wife, and how cruelly I had
been disappointed in my efforts to get back to her.

"You shan't be this time if I can help it, Will," he said, "and as soon
as we get into Plymouth, I'll help you to start off for Portsmouth.
I've got some wages due, and you shall have what money you want, and pay
me back when you can."

I thanked him heartily, feeling sure that Uncle Kelson would at once
send him the money, and accepted his generous offer.  I could not help
hoping that we might meet with a foul wind and be compelled to put into
some nearer port; but the wind held fair, and we at length sighted the
Eddystone, when, however, it fell calm.  Not far off lay a frigate which
had come out of the Sound.  Several other vessels were also becalmed
near us.  I was looking at the frigate, when a boat put off from her and
pulled towards one of the other vessels.  She then steered for another
and another, remaining a short time only alongside each.

"She's after no good," observed Ned; "I shouldn't be surprised if she
was picking up hands.  We've all protections aboard here.  You'd better
stow yourself away, Will.  Jump into my berth and pretend to be sick,
it's your only safe plan."

This I did not like to do, and I guessed if Ned was right in his
conjectures, that the officer who visited us would soon ascertain there
was one more hand on board than the brig's complement.  Unhappily he was
right--the boat came alongside.  It was the old story over again.  Just
as I had expected to obtain my freedom, I was seized, having only time
to give Ned the address of my wife, to whom he promised to write, and to
wish him and my other shipmates good-bye, when I was ordered to get into
the boat waiting alongside.  She, having picked up three or four more
men from the other vessels becalmed, returned to the frigate, which was,
I found, the _Cleopatra_, of thirty-two twelve-pounder guns, commanded
by Captain Sir Robert Laurie, Bart., and bound out to the West Indies.

I very nearly gave way altogether.  In vain, however, I pleaded to be
allowed to go on shore.  I acknowledged that I belonged to the
_Glatton_, and promised faithfully to return to her as soon as I had
visited my wife.  My petition was disregarded, my statement being
probably not even believed.  A breeze springing up, all sail was made,
and the _Cleopatra_ stood down Channel.

I must pass over several weeks.  They were the most miserable of my
existence.  Three times I had been pressed, when on the very point, as I
supposed, of getting free.  I began at last to fancy that I never should
return on shore.  Though my spirits were low, I retained my health, but
I did my duty in a mechanical fashion.  My shipmates declared that for
months together they never saw me smile.

At length, after we had visited the West Indies, we were cruising in
search of an enemy, when soon after daybreak we sighted a ship standing
to the eastward, we having the wind about north-west.  Instantly we made
all sail in chase.  Every one was sure that she was an enemy, and from
her appearance we had no doubt that she was a big ship.  She, observing
that she was pursued, stood away from us before the wind.  All day we
continued the chase.  Everything was done to increase our speed.  We
began to be afraid that the enemy would escape us.  The sun went down,
but there was a bright moon, and numbers of sharp eyes were constantly
on the watch for her.  We marked well the course she was steering.
Anxiously the night passed away.  When daylight returned, the watch on
deck gave way to a shout of satisfaction, as in the cold grey light of
dawn she was seen right ahead rising out of the leaden waters.  One
thing was clear, we were overhauling her surely, though slowly.  We went
to breakfast, the meal was quickly despatched, and we were all soon on
deck again to look out for the stranger.  In a short time there was no
doubt about her character.  The order was given to clear the ship for
action.  As I heard the words, I felt more cheerful than I had done
since I came on board.  Strange as it may seem, my spirits rose still
higher when the stranger was made out to be a forty gun frigate.  By
half-past eleven he shortened sail, and hauled his wind to allow us to
come up with him, and hoisting his colours at the same time, we now knew
him to be a Frenchman.  Probably he had run away at first thinking that
we were the biggest ship, whereas in reality, as we afterwards
discovered, he was vastly our superior, not only in the number of his
guns but in weight of metal, for they were eighteen-pounders, and while
we had only 200 men fit to work our guns, he had 350.  The _Cleopatra_
measured only 690 tons, while the enemy's ship, which was the _Ville de
Milan_, measured 1100, and carried forty-six guns.  We also shortened
sail ready for action, and directly afterwards began to fire our
bow-chasers, which the enemy returned with his after-guns.  Thus a
running fight was carried on for some time, we in no way daunted by the
vastly superior force with which we were engaged.

At about half-past two we were within a hundred yards of the _Ville de
Milan_, when she luffed across our bows and poured in a crashing
broadside, while we, passing under her stern, returned her fire with
good interest.  We now ranged up within musket-shot, on the starboard
side of our big antagonist, and thus we kept running parallel to each
other, sometimes on a wind and sometimes nearly before it--we trying to
prevent her from luffing again across our bows or under our stern, and
she not allowing us to perform the same manoeuvre.  Never in a single
combat was there a fiercer fight.  We worked our guns with desperate
energy--not that we ever doubted that we should be the victors, but we
knew that we must fight hard to win the victory.

For upwards of a couple of hours we had been hotly engaged, when a loud
cheer broke from us.  We had shot away the enemy's main-topsail-yard.
We, however, had suffered greatly, not only in spars, but our running
rigging had been literally cut to pieces.  A number of our men, also,
lay killed and wounded about our decks; and though the latter were
carried below as fast as possible, their places were rapidly supplied by
others doomed to suffer the same fate.

The loss of the enemy's main-topsail-yard caused us to forge ahead, but
unhappily, from the condition of our running rigging, we could neither
shorten sail nor back our main-topsail.  Our captain therefore resolved
to endeavour to cross the bows of the _Ville de Milan_.

The order was given to put the helm down.  At that moment a shot struck
the wheel, knocking it to pieces and killing one of the men standing at
it.  There we lay, with the ship utterly unmanageable and at the mercy
of our opponent.  It was enough to make us weep with sorrow, but instead
of that we set to work to try and get tackles on to the tiller to steer
by.

"Look out, my lads! stand by to repel boarders!" sang out our captain.

At that moment the enemy bore up and ran us on board, her bowsprit and
figure-head passing over our quarter-deck, abaft the main rigging.  I
was on the quarter-deck.  As I saw the bows of our huge enemy grinding
against our sides, our ship rolling terrifically, while the other was
pitching right at us as it were, I felt that never were British courage
and resolution more required than at that moment.  It was put to the
test.

"Repel boarders!" was the shout.  On came the Frenchmen, streaming in
crowds over their forecastle.  We met them, cutlass and pistol in hand,
and with loud shouts drove them back to their own ship.  They must not
have been sorry to get there, for every instant it appeared that our
gallant frigate would go down under the repeated blows given us by our
opponent.  I do not believe, though, that such an idea occurred to many
of us.  We only thought of driving back the enemy, of striving to gain
the victory.  All this time our great guns were blazing away, and the
marines were keeping up a hot fire of musketry, while the enemy were
pounding us as sharply in return.

Not a minute of rest did they afford us.  Led on by their officers, with
shouts and shrieks they rushed over their bows and down by the bowsprit
on to our deck.  Every inch of plank was fiercely contested, and
literally our scuppers ran streams of blood.

Try and picture for a moment the two ships rolling, tumbling, and
grinding against each other, the wind whistling in our rigging (for it
was blowing heavily), the severed ropes and canvas lashing about in
every direction; the smoke and flames from our guns, their muzzles
almost touching, the cries, and groans, and shouts; spars and blocks
tumbling from aloft; the decks slippery with gore; the roar of big guns,
the rattle of musketry, the flash of pistols, the clash of cutlasses as
we met together; and some faint idea may be formed of the encounter in
which we were engaged.

Once more the enemy were driven back, leaving many dead; but we also
suffered fearfully.  Still we persevered.  For an instant I had time to
look round.  I saw the shattered condition of our ship, my brave
companions dropping rapidly around me, several of our lieutenants
severely wounded, and for the first time the dread came over me that we
must strike our flag or sink at our quarters, for I felt convinced that
the ship could not stand much longer the sort of treatment she had been
undergoing.

Again the shout was raised, "Repel boarders!"

"Steady, my brave lads, meet them!" cried our gallant captain.  We saw
the Frenchmen hurrying along the waist, leaping up on the forecastle,
and then in dense masses they rushed down on our decks.  We met them as
bravely as men can meet their foes, but already we had nearly sixty men
(more than a quarter of our crew) either killed or wounded, and,
terribly overmatched, we were borne back by mere force of numbers.

The way cleared, the Frenchmen continued pouring in on us till our
people were literally forced down the hatchways or against the opposite
bulwarks, while our cutlasses were knocked out of our hands, no longer
able to grasp them.  The bravest on board must have felt there was no
help for it, and no one was braver than our captain.  The British
colours were hauled down.

When I saw what had happened, I felt as if a shot had gone through me--
grief and shame made my heart sink within my bosom.  The Frenchmen
cheered; we threw down our weapons, and went below.  We were called up,
however, to assist in getting the ships free of each other.  This was a
work of no little difficulty.  Some of our people were removed aboard
the _Ville de Milan_, and she sent about forty men, including officers,
to take possession of the _Cleopatra_.

Some of the Frenchmen told us that their captain had been killed by one
of the last shots we fired.  We had four lieutenants, the master, and
the lieutenant of marines wounded, as well as the boatswain and a
midshipman, though not an officer was killed.  Of the seamen and
marines, we had twenty-two killed and thirty wounded.  Another proof
that we did not give in while a chance of victory remained was, that
scarcely were we free of the Frenchman than our main and fore masts went
over our side, and very shortly afterwards the bowsprit followed, and
our gallant frigate was left a miserable wreck on the waters.

The French lost a good many men, and their ship was so knocked about,
that her main and mizzen-masts both went over the side during the night,
and when day broke, to all appearance she was not much better off than
the _Cleopatra_.

We at once were summoned to assist the prize crew in getting up
jury-masts, and the weather moderating, we were able to do this without
difficulty.  Both frigates then shaped a course for France.  Even now I
scarcely like to speak of what my feelings were when once more all my
hopes were cruelly dashed to the ground, and I found myself carried away
to become the inmate of a French prison.

I sat most of the day with my head bent down on my knees, brooding over
my grief.  I certainly felt ripe for any desperate adventure; but
nothing else would, I think, have aroused me.  The Frenchmen did not
like our looks, I conclude, for they kept a strict watch over us lest we
should attempt to play them a trick, and would only allow a few of us on
deck at a time.  This was very wise in them, for had they given up the
chance, we should certainly not have let it slip.



CHAPTER TWENTY SIX.

A FRIEND IN NEED--THE FRENCHMEN CATCH A TARTAR--THE TABLES TURNED--
RETURN TO OLD ENGLAND--OFF AGAIN TO SEA--ENGLAND EXPECTS THAT EVERY MAN
WILL DO HIS DUTY--BATTLE OF TRAFALGAR--WRECK OF OUR PRIZE--MY ENEMY
FOUND--HOME--CONCLUSION.

I ought to have said that the larger portion of the ship's company and
all the officers had been removed at once on board the _Ville de Milan_.
I, with about sixty or seventy others, remained on board the
_Cleopatra_.  I would rather have been out of the ship, I own.  I could
not bear to see her handled by the Frenchmen.  Often and often I felt
inclined to jump up and knock some of them down, just for the sake of
giving vent to my feelings.  Of course I did not do so, nor did I even
intend to do so.  It would have been utterly useless, and foolish in the
extreme.  I only describe my feelings, and I dare say they were shared
by many of my shipmates.

Nearly a week thus passed, when one morning, as I was on deck, I saw a
large ship standing towards us.  What she was I could not at first say.
The Frenchmen, at all events, did not like her looks, for I observed a
great commotion among them.  The two frigates had already as much sail
set on their jury-masts as it was in any way safe to carry, so nothing
more could be done to effect their escape should it be necessary to run
for it, by the sail in sight being, what I hoped she was, a British
man-of-war.

How eagerly I watched to see what would be done!  The French officers
kept looking out with their glasses, and constantly going aloft.

Soon the two frigates put up their helms and ran off before the wind,
and almost at the same instant I had the satisfaction of seeing the
stranger make all sail in chase.

One, at all events, was certain of being captured, for, knocked about as
they had been, they made very little way.  Anxiously I watched to
ascertain to a certainty the character of the stranger.  The Frenchmen,
I doubted not, took her to be an English man-of-war, and I prayed that
they might be right, but still I knew that their fears might cause them
to be mistaken.

Most of the English prisoners were sent below, but I managed to stow
myself away forward, and so was able to see what took place.  On came
the stranger.  Gradually the foot of her topsails, and then her courses
rose out of the water, and when at length her hull appeared I made out
that she was not less than a fifty gun ship, and I had little doubt that
she was English.  The Frenchmen looked at her as if they would like to
see her blow up, or go suddenly to the bottom.  I watched her in the
hope of soon seeing the glorious flag of Old England fly out at her
peak.  I was not long kept in doubt.

As soon as the ship got near enough to make out the French ensign flying
on board the _Cleopatra_ and _Ville de Milan_, up went the British
ensign.  Forgetting for the moment by whom I was surrounded, I could
scarcely avoid cheering aloud as I watched it fluttering in the breeze.
The Frenchmen, in their rage and disappointment, swore and stamped, and
tore their hair, and committed all sorts of senseless extravagances, and
I felt that it would be wise to keep out of their sight as much as
possible, as some of them might, perchance, bestow on me a broken head,
or worse, for my pains.

The two frigates closed for mutual support, but when I came to consider
the condition they were in, I had little doubt that the English ship
would be more than a match for them.  The stranger had first been seen
soon after daybreak.  The people had now just had their breakfasts.
They were not long below, for all were anxious to watch the progress of
their enemy.  The weather had been all the morning very doubtful, and
thick clouds were gathering in the sky.  My earnest prayer was that it
would continue moderate; I began, however, to fear that my hopes would
be disappointed.  The clouds grew thicker and seemed to descend lower
and lower, while a mist arose which every instant grew denser.

At length, when I had for a short time turned my head away from our big
pursuer, I again looked out.  What was my horror and disappointment not
to be able to see the English ship in any direction!  I looked around
and tried to pierce the thick mist which had come on, but in vain; and
again my heart sank within me.  The Frenchmen also searched for their
enemy; but when they could not find her, they, on the contrary, began to
sing and snap their fingers, and to exhibit every sign of satisfaction
at the prospect of escaping her.

One or two of my shipmates had slipped up on deck, and they returned
with the sad tidings below.  After a little time I joined them.  I found
them all deep in a consultation together.  It was proposed that we
should rise upon the French prize crew, and, taking the frigate from
them, go in search of the English ship.  Some were for the plan, some
were against it.  It was argued that the _Ville de Milan_ would, at
every risk, attempt to stop us--that, short-handed as we were, we could
not hope to hold out against her--that we might very probably miss the
English ship, and then, if we fell in with another Frenchman, we should
very likely be treated as pirates.

I rather agreed with these last-mentioned opinions; still, as I have
said, I felt ready to undertake any enterprise, however desperate.  Hour
after hour passed away.  The Frenchmen kept walking the deck and rubbing
their hands, as the prospect of escape increased.

Suddenly we heard them stop.  I slipped up again on deck; a breeze had
carried away the mist, and there, right away to windward, was the
English ship, much nearer than when she had last been seen.  I did cheer
now, I could not help it.  The Frenchmen were too much crestfallen to
resent by a blow what they must have looked upon as an insult, but an
officer coming up, ordered me instantly to go below.

I was obliged to comply, though I longed to remain on deck to see what
course events would take.  The people below, as soon as they heard that
a friend was in sight, cheered over and over again, utterly indifferent
to what the Frenchmen might say or do.  They did utter not a few
_sacres_ and other strange oaths, but we did not care for them.

The two frigates were, as I said, at the time I went below, close
together, with the French ensigns hoisted on the main-stays.  The
British ship was coming up hand over hand after them.  We tried to make
out what was going forward by the sounds we heard and the orders given.
Our ship was before the wind.  Presently a shot was fired to leeward
from each frigate, and a lad who had crept up, and looked through one of
the ports, reported that the _Ville de Milan_ had hauled her wind on the
larboard tack, and that we were still running before it.  We all waited
listening eagerly for some time, and at last a gun was fired, and a shot
struck the side of our ship.  Then we knew full well that our
deliverance was not far off.  The Frenchmen _sacre'd_ and shouted at
each other louder than ever.  Our boatswain had been left on board with
us.  He was a daring, dashing fellow.

"Now, my lads, is the time to take the ship from the hands of the
Frenchmen!" he exclaimed.  "If we delay, night is coming on, and the
other frigate may get away.  If we win back our own ship, it will allow
our friend to go at once in chase of the enemy."

The words were scarcely out of his mouth when we all, seizing handspikes
and boat-stretchers, and indeed anything we could convert into weapons,
knocked over the sentry at the main hatchway, and springing on deck,
rushed fore and aft, and while the Frenchmen stood at their guns,
looking through the ports at their enemy and our friend, we overpowered
them.  Scarcely one of them made any resistance.  In an instant we were
on the upper deck, where the officers, seeing that the game was up,
cried out that they gave in, and hauled down the French flag.

On this, didn't we cheer lustily!  The ship which had so opportunely
come to our rescue was the fifty gun ship _Leander_, the Honourable John
Talbot.  Her crew cheered as she came up to us, and her captain asked us
if we could hold our own against the Frenchmen without assistance.  We
replied that we could, and against twice as many Frenchmen to boot.  We
thought then that we could do anything.  He told us we were fine
fellows, and ordering us to follow him, he hauled his wind in chase of
the _Ville de Milan_.

We took care to disarm all the Frenchmen; and, you may believe me, we
kept a very sharp look-out on them, lest they should attempt to play us
the same trick we had just played them.

The _Ville de Milan_ had by this time got some miles away, but the
_Leander_ made all sail she could carry, and we had little doubt would
soon come up with her.  Still we could not help keeping one eye on the
two ships, and the other on our prisoners.  In little more than an hour
after the French flag had been hauled down aboard the _Cleopatra_, as we
hoped, never to fly there again, the _Leander_, with her guns ready to
pour forth her broadside, ranged up alongside the _Ville de Milan_.  The
Frenchmen were no cowards, as we had found to be the case, but they
naturally didn't like her looks; and not waiting for her to fire, wisely
hauled down their colours.  Then once more we cheered, and cheered
again, till our voices were hoarse.  People have only to consider what
the anticipation of a prison must be to British sailors, to remember
that we fancied that we had lost our gallant ship, and that we were
smarting under a sense of defeat, to understand our joy at finding
ourselves once more at liberty.  I had a joy far greater than any one,
or at least than any one not situated as I was (and perhaps there were
some as anxious as I was to return home), of feeling that I had now a
far greater chance than had before occurred of once more setting foot on
the shores of Old England, and of returning to my beloved wife.

The three ships all hove-to close together, while arrangements were made
for our passage to England.  The _Leander_ put a prize crew on board the
_Ville de Milan_, strengthened by some of our people, and our gallant
captain, Sir Robert Laurie, and his officers once more took possession
of their own ship.  It was a happy meeting on board the _Cleopatra_, you
may depend on that; and on the first Saturday afterwards, as may be
supposed, there was not a mess in which `Sweethearts and wives' was not
drunk with right hearty goodwill.  Some, and I trust that I was among
them, felt that we owed our deliverance to a power greater than that of
men, and thanked with grateful hearts Him who had in His mercy delivered
us from the hand of our enemies.  And oh! my fellow-countrymen, who read
this brief account of my early days, I, now an old man, would urge you,
when our beloved country is, as soon she may be, beset with foes,
burning with hatred and longing for her destruction, that while you
bestir yourselves like men and seize your arms for the desperate
conflict, you ever turn to the God of battles, the God of your fathers,
the God of Israel of old, and with contrite hearts for our many national
sins, beseech Him to protect us from wrong, to protect our native land,
our pure Protestant faith, our altars, our homes, the beloved ones
dwelling there, from injury.  Pray to Him--rely on Him--and then surely
we need not fear what our enemies may seek to do to us.

Once more, then, we were on our way to England.  I did believe that this
time I should reach it, I could not fancy that another disappointment
was in store for me.  The weather, notwithstanding the stormy time of
the year, proved moderate, and we made good way on our homeward voyage.
While the boats were going backwards and forwards between the ships, I
had observed in one of them a man whose countenance bore, I thought, a
remarkable resemblance to that of Charles Iffley.  Still I could not
fancy it was Iffley himself.  I asked some of the _Leander's_ people
whether they had a man of that name on board, but they said that they
certainly had not, and so I concluded that I must have been mistaken.
The man saw me, but he made no sign of recognition, but neither, I felt,
would Iffley have done so had he been certain of my identity.  Still the
countenance I had seen haunted me continually, and I could not help
fancying that he was still destined again to work me some evil.

"Land! land ahead!" was sung out one morning, just as breakfast was
over.  The mess-tables were cleared in a moment, and every one not on
duty below was on deck in a moment looking out for the shores we all so
longed to see.  It was the coast of Cornwall, not far from the Land's
End.  Point after point was recognised and welcomed, as, with a fair
breeze, we ran up Channel.  Then the Eddystone was made, and the wind
still favouring us, we at length dropped our anchor close together in
Plymouth Sound.  I could scarcely believe my senses when I found myself
once more in British waters.  Oh! how I longed to be able to go on shore
and to set off at once for Portsmouth; but, in spite of all my
entreaties, I could not obtain leave to go.  The captain was very kind,
and so was the first lieutenant, but they were anxious to get the ship
refitted at once, to be able to get to sea to wipe out the discredit, as
they felt it, of having been captured even by so superior a force.  All
I could do, therefore, was to sit down and write a letter to my wife to
tell her of my arrival, and to beg her to send me instantly word of her
welfare.  I entreated her, on no consideration, to come to meet me; I
did not know what accident might occur to her if she attempted to come
by land or by sea.  Travelling in those days was a very different matter
to what it is at present.  Even should no accident happen to her, I knew
that before she could reach Plymouth I might be ordered off to sea.  I
felt bitterly that I was not my own master.  I did not blame anybody.
Who was there to blame?  I could only find fault with the system, and
complain that such a system was allowed to exist.  Fortunate are those
who live in happier days, when no man can be pressed against his will,
or be compelled to serve for a longer time than he has engaged to do.

The three ships as we lay in the Sound were constantly visited by people
from the shore, and the action between the _Cleopatra_ and the _Ville de
Milan_ was considered a very gallant affair, and instead of getting
blamed, the captain, officers, and crew were highly praised for their
conduct.  Our captain, Sir Robert Laurie, was presented with a sword of
the value of a hundred guineas by the Patriotic Fund, as a compliment to
his distinguished bravery, and the skill and perseverance which he
exhibited in chasing and bringing the enemy to action.  Indeed, we
obtained more credit for our action, though we lost our ship, than
frequently has been gained by those who have won a victory.  The _Ville
de Milan_ was added to the British Navy under the name of the _Milan_,
and classed as an eighteen-pounder thirty-eight gun frigate, and Sir
Robert Laurie was appointed to command her.  Our first lieutenant, Mr
William Balfour, was also rewarded by being made a commander.

Day after day passed away, and I did not hear from my wife.  Dreadful
thoughts oppressed me.  I began to fear that she was dead, or that, not
hearing from me, or perhaps believing me lost, she had removed from
Southsea.  Indeed, I cannot describe all the sad thoughts which came
into my head, and weighed down my heart.  Then the tempter was always
suggesting to me, "Why not run and learn all about the matter!  What
harm is there in deserting?  Many a man has done it before.  Who will
think the worse of you if you do?"  But I resisted the temptation,
powerful as it was.  I had undertaken to serve my country, and to obey
those placed in authority over me; and I knew that their reasons were
good for not allowing me to go on shore.  Still I own it was very, very
hard to bear.  I had yet a sorer trial in store for me.

Things were done in those days which would not be thought of at the
present time.  Men were wanted to work the ships which were to fight
England's battles, and men were to be got by every means, fair or foul.
Often, indeed, very foul means were used.  While we were expecting to be
paid off, down came an order to draft us off into other ships.  In spite
of the bloody battles we had fought, in spite of all we had gone
through, our prayers were not heard--we were not even allowed to go on
shore; and, without a moment's warning, I found myself on board the
_Spartite_, 74, commanded by Sir Francis Laforey, and ordered off at
once to sea.  I had barely time to send a letter on shore to tell my
wife what had occurred, and no time to receive one from her.  Well, I
did think that my heart would break this time; but it did not.  I was
miserable beyond conception, but still I was buoyed up with the feeling
that I had done my duty, and that my miseries, great as they were, would
come some day to an end.

We formed one of a large squadron of men-of-war, under Lord Collingwood,
engaged in looking out for the French and Spanish fleets.  We
continually kept the sea cruising off the coast of Spain and Portugal,
and occasionally running out into the Atlantic, or sweeping round the
Bay of Biscay.  From August to September of this memorable year, 1805,
we were stationed off Cadiz to watch the enemy's fleet which had taken
shelter there, and in October we were joined by Lord Nelson in his
favourite ship the _Victory_.  We all knew pretty well that something
would be done, but we little guessed how great was the work in which we
were about to engage.  The French and Spanish fleets were inside Cadiz
harbour, and we wanted to get them out to fight them.  This was a
difficult matter, for they did not like our looks.  That is not
surprising, particularly when they knew who we had got to command us.
Lord Nelson, however, was not to be defeated in his object.  Placing a
small squadron inshore, he stationed other ships at convenient distances
for signalling, while the main body of the fleet withdrew to a distance
of eighteen leagues or so from the land.

The enemy were deceived, and at length, on the 19th and 20th, their
whole fleet had got out of the harbour.  No sooner was Lord Nelson
informed of this, than he stood in with his entire fleet towards them.

At daybreak on the memorable 21st October 1805, the combined French and
Spanish fleets were in sight, about twelve miles off, the centre of the
enemy's fleet bearing about east by south of ours.  At 6 a.m. we could
from the deck see the enemy's fleet, and, as I afterwards learned, the
_Victory_ was at that time about seven leagues distant from Cape
Trafalgar.  At about 10 a.m. the French Admiral Villeneuve had managed
to form his fleet in close order of battle; but owing to the lightness
of the wind, some of the ships were to windward and some to leeward of
their proper stations--the whole being somewhat in the form of a
crescent.  We had at an early hour formed into two columns, and bore up
towards the enemy.  The _Victory_ led the weather division, in which was
our ship.  We had studden sails alow and aloft; but the wind was so
light that we went through the water scarcely more than two knots an
hour.  I am not about to give an account of the battle of Trafalgar, for
that is the celebrated action we were then going to fight.  It has been
too often well described for me to have any excuse for making the
attempt.  Indeed, when once it began, even the officers knew very little
about the matter, and the men engaged in working the guns knew nothing
beyond what they and their actual opponents were about.  All I know is,
that Lord Nelson was afraid the enemy would try and get back into Cadiz,
and in order to prevent him, he resolved to pass through the van of his
line.

At 11:40 a.m. Lord Nelson ordered that ever-memorable signal to be
made--"England expects that every man will do his duty."

Nobly, I believe, one and all did their duty; and, oh! may Englishmen
never forget that signal in whatever work they may be engaged.  It was
received with loud cheers throughout the fleet both by officers and men.
The _Royal Sovereign_, Lord Collingwood's ship, led the lee division,
and at ten minutes past noon commenced the action, by passing close
under the stern of the _Santa Anna_, discharging her larboard broadside
into her, and her starboard one at the same time into the _Fougueux_.
These two ships fired at her in return, as did the _San Leandro_ ahead,
and the _San Justo_ and _Indomitable_, until other ships came up and
engaged them.  The action was now general.  All that could be seen were
wreaths of smoke, masts and spars falling, shattered sails, shot
whizzing by, flames bursting out with a tremendous roar of guns, and a
constant rattle of musketry; ships closing and firing away at each
other, till it appeared impossible that they could remain afloat.

In the afternoon I know that we and the _Minotaur_ bore down on four
heavy ships of the combined squadron, which we hotly engaged, and
succeeded in cutting off the Spanish _Neptuno_.  She was bravely
defended; but in two hours we compelled her to strike her flag, with the
loss of her mizzen-mast and fore and main-topmast.  No seamen could have
fought more bravely than did the Spaniards on this occasion; but their
bravery did not avail them.  As the spars of the enemy's ship went
tumbling down on deck, and his fire slackened, we one and all burst into
loud cheers, which contributed not a little to damp his courage.  I
forgot my own individuality, my own sorrows and sufferings, in the joy
of the crew at large.  I felt that a great and glorious victory was
almost won--the most important that English valour, with God's blessing,
had ever achieved on the ocean.  I felt certain that the victory would
be gained by us.  My spirits rose.  I cheered and cheered away as loudly
as the rest.  Many of our people had been struck down and carried below,
though comparatively few had been killed outright.  I saw my messmates
wounded; but it never for a moment occurred to me that I should be
called on to share their fate.  Suddenly, as I was hauling away at my
gun, I felt a stunning terrific blow.  I tottered and fell I was in no
great pain, only horribly sick.  The blood left my checks.  It seemed to
be leaving me altogether.  "Carry him below," I heard some one say.
"He's not dead, is he?"  Then I knew that I was badly wounded; I did not
know how badly.  I was almost senseless as I was conveyed below, where I
found myself with a number of my shipmates, who had lately been full of
life and activity, strong, hearty men, now lying pale and maimed or
writhing in agony.  One of the surgeons soon came to me and gave me
restoratives, and I then knew where I was, and that my left arm was
shattered, and my side wounded.  I thought at that time that I had
suffered a very great misfortune; but I had reason afterwards to believe
that I ought to have been thankful for what had occurred.  I said that
we were engaged with the Spanish ship the _Neptuno_.  In spite of the
hammering we gave her, her people continued to serve her guns with
undaunted courage.  At length, when we had knocked away her mizzen-mast
and main and fore-top masts, and killed and wounded a number of her
people, and sent many a shot through her hull, her crew, seeing that
numbers of the combined fleet had already succumbed to British valour,
hauled down their colours.  I heard the cheering shout given by my
shipmates, and discovered the cessation of the firing from no longer
experiencing the dreadful jar which the guns caused each time they were
discharged.  As soon as any of our boats could be got into a condition
to lower, the prize was taken possession of.  I found afterwards that my
name was called over to form one of the prize crew; but when it was
known that I was wounded, another hand was sent in my place.  I had been
selected by the first lieutenant, who looked on me as a steady man, and
wished to recommend me for promotion.  I give an account of what befell
the prize as narrated to me by a shipmate.

"You know, Weatherhelm," said he, when I met him some months afterwards,
"that I formed one of the prize crew sent to take possession of her.
Before we got her sufficiently into order to be manageable, we fell on
board the _Temeraire_, one of our own squadron.  We little thought at
that time that our beloved chief was lying in the cockpit of the
_Victory_ mortally wounded.  He had been struck by the fatal bullet at
1:25, while walking his quarter-deck, and at 4:30 he expired without a
groan.  Lord Nelson had directed that the fleet with the prize should
anchor as soon as the victory was complete; but Lord Collingwood, who
now took the command, differed on the subject, and ordered the ships to
keep under way, being of opinion that the less injured ships might the
better help the crippled ones.  Our ship was less injured than most; for
we only had our main-topmasts wounded.  Our prize, however, was in a
very crippled condition.  She had lost her fore and mizzen-masts by the
board, and as it was late in the afternoon before we took possession of
her, after which we had to secure the prisoners and send them on board
our ship and the _Minotaur_, it was nearly night before we could begin
putting the ship to rights.  We had then in the dark to work away to set
up a jury, fore, and mizzen-mast.  We laboured all night, and by the
morning had them both standing.  The morning after that
never-to-be-forgotten battle broke dark and lowering, giving every
indication of a gale.  How little prepared to encounter it were the
greater portion of the ships which had been engaged in the desperate
struggle!  Down came the gale upon us from the westward.  Every instant
it increased, and very soon our two jury-masts were carried away,
leaving us a helpless wreck on the raging waters.  The Spanish coast was
under our lee, and towards it we were rapidly driving.

"A lee shore, on any occasion, is not a pleasant object of
contemplation, but still worse was it for us when we remembered that it
was inhabited by our enemies, whose ships we had just so soundly
thrashed.  We tried to range one of our cables to bring up, but it was
useless to trust to it a moment, it had been so much injured by the
shot.  It soon became evident that if the gale continued, we should
drive ashore or go down.  Anxiously we looked out to windward, but in
the prospect on that side there was very little to cheer us, and still
less was there on the other side, where a few miles off only the sea
broke on the rock-bound, inhospitable shore.  Towards that shore we were
rapidly driving.  The gale came down on us stronger and stronger.
`There's no help for it!' exclaimed our commanding officer with a deep
sigh, for he felt, as we all did, that it was very hard to win a prize
and to have helped to win a great victory, and then to lose our prize
and perhaps our lives.  `Up with the helm--keep her dead before the
wind!' he added, going forward with his glass, as did the other
officers, looking out for a spot free from rocks into which to run the
ship.  Evening was coming on, and he saw that it was better to go on
shore in the day-time, when we might take advantage of any chance of
saving ourselves, instead of at night, when our chance would be small
indeed.  Orders were given for every man to prepare as best he could to
save himself.  On we drove towards the shore.  We had a large number of
prisoners on board.  As we approached the land they were all released,
the danger pointed out to them, and they were told to try and save
themselves, the officers promising that they would try and help them.

"There was little time for preparation.  Every moment the gale was
increasing.  The roar of the surf on the shore was terrific, sadly
warning us of the fate of the ship once cast within its power.  Even the
bravest turned pale as they saw the danger.  The Spaniards, bravely as
they had fought, tore their hair, shrieked, and called on their saints
to help them, but did little to make ready for the coming catastrophe.
We, with our axes, tore up the decks, and each man provided himself with
a spar or bit of timber on which he might float when washed overboard,
as we expected soon to be.  Darkness overtook us sooner even than we had
calculated.  In thick gloom, with a driving rain and a howling wind, the
ship was hove in among the breakers.  She struck with terrific violence.
The sea broke furiously over us.  I know little more.  I received a
blow on my head, I suppose.  When I came to myself, I was lying on the
beach and unable to move.  Then I saw lights approaching, and I found
myself lifted up and carried to a cottage, where my head was bound up
and food was given me.  I found the next day that not ten of the prize
crew had escaped, but that of the Spaniards upwards of forty had been
washed safely on shore.  I was treated kindly, but afterwards carried
off to prison.  A Spanish prison is one of the last places in which a
man would like to take up his abode; and, my dear Weatherhelm, you may
believe me, I am right glad to find myself exchanged and once more
treading the shores of Old England."  Such was the account my old
shipmate gave me; and then I felt, as I have said, that I should be
thankful for what had happened to me.  To return to my own adventures.
Our ship had a long passage home, for in her crippled condition we could
carry very little sail.  This gave me a longer time to recover before
landing.  From my abstemious habits, I did not suffer as much as many of
my companions in misfortune, several of whom died of their wounds from
inflammation setting in, caused by their previous intemperate mode of
life.

We at last reached Plymouth, and I was carried to the hospital.  I
longed to write to my wife, and yet my heart sank within me when I
thought that I should have to tell her what a maimed and altered being I
was.  I fancied that she would not know me, and would look on me with
horror.  When the surgeon saw me, directly I was carried to the
hospital, he bid me cheer up, and said that he thought I should soon be
strong enough to move.  Scarcely had he left me, when I heard a man
groaning heavily in the bed next to mine.  The groans ceased.  I asked
the sufferer what was the matter with him.  I was startled when he
answered in a voice which I knew at once, "I am dying, and going I know
not where, with a thousand sins on my head unrepented of and
unforgiven."  It was Iffley who spoke.  I was not certain whether he
knew me.  I answered, "There is forgiveness for the greatest of sinners.
Repent.  Trust in Christ.  His blood will wash away all your sins."
There was no reply for some time.  I thought that he had ceased to
breathe.

"Who are you who says that?" he exclaimed suddenly; "you think that I do
not know you.  I knew you from the first, and I believe you know me.
Can you forgive one who has injured you so severely--who would have
injured you still more had he found the opportunity?  Weatherhelm, I ask
you, can you forgive me?"

I was silent for some minutes.  There was a severe strife in my bosom.
I prayed earnestly for God's Holy Spirit.  I uttered the words, "Forgive
us our trespasses as we forgive them that trespass against us."  I felt
that I could reply with sincerity, "Iffley, I do forgive you--from my
heart--truly and freely."

"Then I can believe that God will forgive me," he cried out with almost
a shriek of joy.  "Yes, the chaplain here and others have talked to me
about it.  I could not believe them.  I felt that I was far too guilty,
and too wretched an outcast; but I am sure that what man can do, God
will do.  Yes, Weatherhelm, you have given a peace to my heart I never
expected to dwell there.  Go on, talk to me on that subject.  Pray with
me.  I have no time to talk on any other subject, to tell you of my past
career.  That matters not.  My hours are numbered.  Any moment I feel
may be my last on earth.  Go on, go on."

I did talk long and earnestly to him, and what I said seemed to increase
his comfort.  Our conversation was interrupted by a visitor who came
round and read and talked to the poor wounded occupants of the wards.
He came to my bed.  I looked up in his face, and recognised in him my
old friend and commander, Captain Tooke.  He had left the sea, I found,
and having a competence, thus employed himself in visiting hospitals,
especially those which contained seamen, and in other works of a
labouring Christian.  I told him what had occurred between me and
Iffley.  He sat by the bedside of my former shipmate, and talked, and
read to him, and prayed with him.  His voice ceased.  I saw him bending
over Iffley.  Slowly he turned round to me.  "He is gone," he said in a
low voice.  "He placed his hope on One who is ready and able to forgive,
and I am sure that he is forgiven."  Captain Tooke promised to write to
my wife to break to her the news of my wound.  I got rapidly round,--
indeed, the doctors said I might venture to move to my home whenever I
pleased.  Just then business called Captain Tooke to Portsmouth, and he
invited me to accompany him.  We found a vessel on the point of sailing
there.  We had a quick and smooth run, and in two days we were put on
shore at the Point at the entrance of the harbour.  A hackney coach was
sent for, and we drove to Southsea.  When I got near the house where I
had left my uncle and aunt, and where I hoped to find my beloved wife, I
felt so faint that I begged to be put down, thinking that the fresh air
would revive me.  Captain Tooke thought the same, and so, getting out of
the carriage, he told me to sit down on a low wall near at hand, while
he went on to announce my coming.  While there, a little rosy,
fair-haired boy ran laughing by, as if trying to escape from some one.
I sprang forward, and putting out my hand, he took it and looked up in
my face.  I cannot describe the tumultuous feelings which came rushing
into my bosom when I saw that child.  "Who are you, my little fellow?
What's your name?"  I asked, with a tremulous voice.

"Willand--Willand Wetherholm," he answered plainly.

Yes, my feelings had not deceived me.  I took him up, he nothing loth,
though he looked inquiringly at my empty sleeve.  "And your mother, boy,
where is she?"  I asked, still more agitated.

"In there," he answered, pointing to our old abode.  "She no guess I run
away."

I now went up to the house with the child hanging round my neck.  I was
blessed indeed.  There was my own dear wife, still pale from her anxiety
about me, weeping, but it was with joy at seeing me; and there were my
kind uncle and dear Aunt Bretta, just as I had always known her.

My tale is ended.  I never went to sea again, but in a short time
obtained the same employment in which I was engaged when I was pressed.
Never after that did I for a moment doubt God's good providence and
loving-kindness to all those who put their trust in Him.  He afflicts us
for our good.  He tries us because He loves us.  Reader, whatever may
occur, trust in God and in His Son, whose blood can alone wash away all
your sins.  Love Him, confide in Him, and let your great hope, your
chief aim, be to dwell with Him for eternity.

THE END.





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search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



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