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´╗┐Title: Mr. Midshipman Easy
Author: Marryat, Frederick, 1792-1848
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 "Mr. Midshipman Easy" ***

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



Mr Midshipman Easy, by Captain Marryat.

________________________________________________________________________

[See also etext #6629, a different print edition of this book

Captain Frederick Marryat was born July 10 1792, and died August 8 1848.
He retired from the British navy in 1828 in order to devote himself to
writing.  In the following 20 years he wrote 26 books, many of which are
among the very best of English literature, and some of which are still
in print.

Marryat had an extraordinary gift for the invention of episodes in his
stories.  He says somewhere that when he sat down for the day's work, he
never knew what he was going to write.  He certainly was a literary
genius.

"Mr Midshipman Easy" was published in 1846, the ninth book to flow from
Marryat's pen.

This e-text was transcribed in 1998 by Nick Hodson, and was reformatted
in 2003, and again in 2005.

________________________________________________________________________

MR. MIDSHIPMAN EASY, BY CAPTAIN FREDERICK MARRYAT.



CHAPTER ONE.

WHICH THE READER WILL FIND VERY EASY TO READ.

Mr Nicodemus Easy was a gentleman who lived down in Hampshire; he was a
married man, and in very easy circumstances.  Most couples find it very
easy to have a family, but not always quite so easy to maintain them.
Mr Easy was not at all uneasy on the latter score, as he had no
children; but he was anxious to have them, as most people covet what
they cannot obtain.  After ten years, Mr Easy gave it up as a bad job.
Philosophy is said to console a man under disappointment, although
Shakespeare asserts that it is no remedy for toothache; so Mr Easy
turned philosopher, the very best profession a man can take up, when he
is fit for nothing else; he must be a very incapable person indeed who
cannot talk nonsense.  For some time, Mr Easy could not decide upon
what description his nonsense should consist of; at last he fixed upon
the rights of man, equality, and all that; how every person was born to
inherit his share of the earth, a right at present only admitted to a
certain length that is, about six feet, for we all inherit our graves,
and are allowed to take possession without dispute.  But no one would
listen to Mr Easy's philosophy.  The women would not acknowledge the
rights of men, whom they declared always to be in the wrong; and, as the
gentlemen who visited Mr Easy were all men of property, they could not
perceive the advantages of sharing with those who had none.  However,
they allowed him to discuss the question, while they discussed his port
wine.  The wine was good, if the arguments were not, and we must take
things as we find them in this world.

While Mr Easy talked philosophy, Mrs Easy played patience, and they
were a happy couple, riding side by side on their hobbies, and never
interfering with each other.  Mr Easy knew his wife could not
understand him, and therefore did not expect her to listen very
attentively; and Mrs Easy did not care how much her husband talked,
provided she was not put out in her game.  Mutual forbearance will
always ensure domestic felicity.

There was another cause for their agreeing so well.  Upon any disputed
question Mr Easy invariably gave it up to Mrs Easy, telling her that
she should have her own way--and this pleased his wife; but, as Mr Easy
always took care, when it came to the point, to have his way, he was
pleased as well.  It is true that Mrs Easy had long found out that she
did not have her own way long; but she was of an easy disposition, and
as, in nine cases out of ten, it was of very little consequence how
things were done, she was quite satisfied with his submission during the
heat of the argument.  Mr Easy had admitted that she was right, and if
like all men he would do wrong, why what could a poor woman do?  With a
lady of such a quiet disposition, it is easy to imagine that the
domestic felicity of Mr Easy was not easily disturbed.  But, as people
have observed before, there is a mutability in human affairs.  It was at
the finale of the eleventh year of their marriage that Mrs Easy at
first complained that she could not enjoy her breakfast.  Mrs Easy had
her own suspicions, everybody else considered it past doubt, all except
Mr Easy; he little "thought, good easy man, that his greatness was
ripening;" he had decided that to have an heir was no easy task, and it
never came into his calculations that there could be a change in his
wife's figure.  You might have added to it, subtracted from it, divided
it, or multiplied it, but as it was a zero, the result would be always
the same.  Mrs Easy also was not quite sure--she believed it might be
the case, there was no saying; it might be a mistake, like that of Mrs
Trunnion's in the novel, and, therefore, she said nothing to her husband
about the matter.  At last Mr Easy opened his eyes, and when, upon
interrogating his wife, he found out the astounding truth, he opened his
eyes still wider, and then he snapped his fingers, and danced, like a
bear upon hot plates, with delight, thereby proving that different
causes may produce similar effects in two instances at one and the same
time.  The bear dances from pain, Mr Easy from pleasure; and again,
when we are indifferent, or do not care for anything, we snap our
fingers at it, and when we are overjoyed and obtain what we most care
for, we also snap our fingers.  Two months after Mr Easy snapped his
fingers, Mrs Easy felt no inclination to snap hers, either from
indifference or pleasure.  The fact was, that Mrs Easy's time was come,
to undergo what Shakespeare pronounces "the pleasing punishment that
women bear;" but Mrs Easy, like the rest of her sex, declared, "that
all men were liars," and most particularly poets.

But while Mrs Easy was suffering, Mr Easy was in ecstasies.  He
laughed at pain, as all philosophers do when it is suffered by other
people, and not by themselves.

In due course of time, Mrs Easy presented her husband with a fine boy,
whom we present to the public as our hero.



CHAPTER TWO.

IN WHICH MRS. EASY, AS USUAL, HAS HER OWN WAY.

It was the fourth day after Mrs Easy's confinement that Mr Easy, who
was sitting by her bedside in an easy-chair, commenced as follows: "I
have been thinking, my dear Mrs Easy, about the name I shall give this
child."

"Name, Mr Easy! why, what name should you give it but your own?"

"Not so, my dear," replied Mr Easy; "they call all names proper names,
but I think that mine is not.  It is the very worst name in the
calendar."

"Why, what's the matter with it, Mr Easy?"

"The matter affects me as well as the boy.  Nicodemus is a long name to
write at full length, and Nick is vulgar.  Besides, as there will be two
Nicks, they will naturally call my boy young Nick, and of course I shall
be styled old Nick, which will be diabolical."

"Well, Mr Easy, at all events then let me choose the name."

"That you shall, my dear, and it was with this view that I have
mentioned the subject so early."

"I think, Mr Easy, I will call the boy after my poor father--his name
shall be Robert."

"Very well, my dear, if you wish it, it shall be Robert.  You shall have
your own way.  But I think, my dear, upon a little consideration, you
will acknowledge that there is a decided objection."

"An objection, Mr Easy?"

"Yes, my dear; Robert may be very well, but you must reflect upon the
consequences; he is certain to be called Bob."

"Well, my dear, and suppose they do call him Bob?"

"I cannot bear even the supposition, my dear.  You forget the county in
which we are residing, the downs covered with sheep."

"Why, Mr Easy, what can sheep have to do with a Christian name?"

"There it is; women never look to consequences.  My dear, they have a
great deal to do with the name of Bob.  I will appeal to any farmer in
the county, if ninety-nine shepherds' dogs out of one hundred are not
called Bob.  Now observe, your child is out of doors somewhere in the
fields or plantations; you want and you call him.  Instead of your
child, what do you find?  Why, a dozen curs at least, who come running
up to you, all answering to the name of Bob, and wagging their stumps of
tails.  You see, Mrs Easy, it is a dilemma not to be got over.  You
level your only son to the brute creation by giving him a Christian name
which, from its peculiar brevity, has been monopolised by all the dogs
in the county.  Any other name you please, my dear, but in this one
instance you must allow me to lay my positive veto."

"Well, then, let me see--but I'll think of it, Mr Easy; my head aches
very much just now."

"I will think for you, my dear.  What do you say to John?"

"Oh, no, Mr Easy, such a common name?"

"A proof of its popularity, my dear.  It is scriptural--we have the
apostle and the baptist--we have a dozen popes who were all Johns.  It
is royal--we have plenty of kings who were Johns--and, moreover, it is
short, and sounds honest and manly."

"Yes, very true, my dear; but they will call him Jack."

"Well, we have had several celebrated characters who were Jacks.  There
was--let me see--Jack the Giant Killer, and Jack of the Bean Stalk--and
Jack--Jack--"

"Jack Spratt," replied Mrs Easy.

"And Jack Cade, Mrs Easy, the great rebel--and three-fingered Jack,
Mrs Easy, the celebrated negro--and, above all, Jack Falstaff, ma'am,
Jack Falstaff--honest Jack Falstaff--witty Jack Falstaff--"

"I thought, Mr Easy, that I was to be permitted to choose the name."

"Well, so you shall, my dear; I give it up to you.  Do just as you
please; but depend upon it that John is the right name.  Is it not now,
my dear?"

"It's the way you always treat me, Mr Easy; you say that you give it
up, and that I shall have my own way, but I never do have it.  I am sure
that the child will be christened John."

"Nay, my dear, it shall be just what you please.  Now I recollect it,
there were several Greek emperors who were Johns; but decide for
yourself, my dear."

"No, no," replied Mrs Easy, who was ill, and unable to contend any
longer, "I give it up, Mr Easy.  I know how it will be, as it always
is: you give me my own way as people give pieces of gold to children,
it's their own money, but they must not spend it.  Pray call him John."

"There, my dear, did not I tell you, you would be of my opinion upon
reflection?  I knew you would.  I have given you your own way, and you
tell me to call him John; so now we're both of the same mind, and that
point is settled."

"I should like to go to sleep, Mr Easy; I feel far from well."

"You shall always do just as you like, my dear," replied the husband,
"and have your own way in everything.  It is the greatest pleasure I
have when I yield to your wishes.  I will walk in the garden.  Good-bye,
my dear."

Mrs Easy made no reply, and the philosopher quitted the room.  As may
easily be imagined, on the following day the boy was christened John.



CHAPTER THREE.

IN WHICH OUR HERO HAS TO WAIT THE ISSUE OF AN ARGUMENT.

The reader may observe that, in general, all my first chapters are very
short, and increase in length as the work advances.  I mention this as a
proof of my modesty and diffidence.  At first, I am like a young bird
just out of its mother's nest, pluming my little feathers and taking
short flights.  By degrees I obtain more confidence, and wing my course
over hill and dale.

It is very difficult to throw any interest into a chapter on childhood.
There is the same uniformity in all children until they develop.  We
cannot, therefore, say much relative to Jack Easy's earliest days; he
sucked and threw up his milk, while the nurse blessed it for a pretty
dear, slept, and sucked again.  He crowed in the morning like a cock,
screamed when he was washed, stared at the candle, and made wry faces
with the wind.  Six months passed in these innocent amusements, and then
he was put into shorts.  But I ought here to have remarked, that Mrs
Easy did not find herself equal to nursing her own infant, and it was
necessary to look out for a substitute.

Now a commonplace person would have been satisfied with the
recommendation of the medical man, who looks but to the one thing
needful, which is a sufficient and wholesome supply of nourishment for
the child; but Mr Easy was a philosopher, and had latterly taken to
craniology, and he descanted very learnedly with the doctor upon the
effect of his only son obtaining his nutriment from an unknown source.
"Who knows," observed Mr Easy, "but that my son may not imbibe with his
milk the very worst passions of human nature."

"I have examined her," replied the doctor, "and can safely recommend
her."

"That examination is only preliminary to one more important," replied
Mr Easy.  "I must examine her."

"Examine who, Mr Easy?" exclaimed his wife, who had lain down again on
the bed.

"The nurse, my dear."

"Examine what, Mr Easy?" continued the lady.

"Her head, my dear," replied the husband.  "I must ascertain what her
propensities are."

"I think you had better leave her alone, Mr Easy.  She comes this
evening, and I shall question her pretty severely.  Dr Middleton, what
do you know of this young person?"

"I know, madam, that she is very healthy and strong, or I should not
have selected her."

"But is her character good?"

"Really, madam, I know little about her character; but you can make any
inquiries you please.  But at the same time I ought to observe, that if
you are too particular in that point, you will have some difficulty in
providing yourself."

"Well, I shall see," replied Mrs Easy.

"And I shall feel," rejoined the husband.

This parleying was interrupted by the arrival of the very person in
question, who was announced by the housemaid, and was ushered in.  She
was a handsome, florid, healthy-looking girl, awkward and naive in her
manner, and apparently not overwise; there was more of the dove than of
the serpent in her composition.

Mr Easy, who was very anxious to make his own discoveries, was the
first who spoke.  "Young woman, come this way, I wish to examine your
head."

"Oh! dear me, sir, it's quite clean, I assure you," cried the girl,
dropping a curtsey.

Dr Middleton, who sat between the bed and Mr Easy's chair, rubbed his
hands and laughed.

In the meantime, Mr Easy had untied the string and taken off the cap of
the young woman, and was very busy putting his fingers through her hair,
during which the face of the young woman expressed fear and
astonishment.

"I am glad to perceive that you have a large portion of benevolence."

"Yes," replied the young woman, dropping a curtsey.

"And veneration also."

"Thanky, sir."

"And the organ of modesty is strongly developed."

"Yes, sir," replied the girl, with a smile.

"That's quite a new organ," thought Dr Middleton.

"Philo-progenitiveness very powerful."

"If you please, sir, I don't know what that is," answered Sarah, with a
curtsey.

"Nevertheless you have given us a practical illustration.  Mrs Easy, I
am satisfied.  Have you any questions to ask?  But it is quite
unnecessary."

"To be sure, I have, Mr Easy.  Pray, young woman, what is your name?"

"Sarah, if you please, ma'am."

"How long have you been married?"

"Married, ma'am?"

"Yes, married."

"If you please, ma'am, I had a misfortune, ma'am," replied the girl,
casting down her eyes.

"What, have you not been married?"

"No, ma'am, not yet."

"Good heavens!  Dr Middleton, what can you mean by bringing this person
here?" exclaimed Mrs Easy.  "Not a married woman, and she has a child!"

"If you please, ma'am," interrupted the young woman, dropping a curtsey,
"it was a very little one."

"A very little one!" explained Mrs Easy.

"Yes, ma'am, very small indeed, and died soon after it was born."

"Oh, Dr Middleton!--what could you mean, Dr Middleton?"

"My dear madam," exclaimed the doctor, rising from his chair, "this is
the only person that I could find suited to the wants of your child, and
if you do not take her, I cannot answer for its life.  It is true that a
married woman might be procured; but married women who have a proper
feeling will not desert their own children; and, as Mr Easy asserts,
and you appear to imagine, the temper and disposition of your child may
be affected by the nourishment it receives, I think it more likely to be
injured by the milk of a married woman who will desert her own child for
the sake of gain.  The misfortune which has happened to this young woman
is not always a proof of a bad heart, but of strong attachment, and the
overweening confidence of simplicity."

"You are correct, doctor," replied Mr Easy, "and her head proves that
she is a modest young woman, with strong religious feeling, kindness of
disposition, and every other requisite."

"The head may prove it all for what I know, Mr Easy, but her conduct
tells another tale."

"She is well fitted for the situation, ma'am," continued the doctor.

"And if you please, ma'am," rejoined Sarah, "it was _such a little
one_."

"Shall I try the baby, ma'am?" said the monthly nurse, who had listened
in silence.  "It is fretting so, poor thing, and has its dear little
fist right down its throat."

Dr Middleton gave the signal of assent, and in a few seconds Master
John Easy was fixed to Sarah as tight as a leech.

"Lord love it, how hungry it is--there, there, stop it a moment, it's
choking, poor thing!"

Mrs Easy, who was lying on her bed, rose up, and went to the child.
Her first feeling was that of envy, that another should have such a
pleasure which was denied to herself, the next that of delight, at the
satisfaction expressed by the infant.  In a few minutes the child fell
back in a deep sleep.  Mrs Easy was satisfied; maternal feelings
conquered all others, and Sarah was duly installed.

To make short work of it, we have said that Jack Easy in six months was
in shorts.  He soon afterwards began to crawl and show his legs; indeed,
so indecorously, that it was evident that he had imbibed no modesty with
Sarah's milk, neither did he appear to have gained veneration or
benevolence, for he snatched at everything, squeezed the kitten to
death, scratched his mother, and pulled his father by the hair;
notwithstanding all which, both his father and mother and the whole
household declared him to be the finest and sweetest child in the
universe.  But if we were to narrate all the wonderful events of Jack's
childhood from the time of his birth up to the age of seven years, as
chronicled by Sarah, who continued his dry nurse after he had been
weaned, it would take at least three volumes folio.  Jack was brought up
in the way that every only child usually is--that is, he was allowed to
have his own way.



CHAPTER FOUR.

IN WHICH THE DOCTOR PRESCRIBES GOING TO SCHOOL AS A REMEDY FOR A CUT
FINGER.

"Have you no idea of putting the boy to school, Mr Easy?" said Dr
Middleton, who had been summoned by a groom with his horse in a foam to
attend immediately at Forest Hill, the name of Mr Easy's mansion, and
who, upon his arrival, had found that Master Easy had cut his thumb.
One would have thought that he had cut his head off by the agitation
pervading the whole household--Mr Easy walking up and down very uneasy,
Mrs Easy with great difficulty prevented from syncope, and all the
maids bustling and passing round Mrs Easy's chair.  Everybody appeared
excited except Master Jack Easy himself, who, with a rag round his
finger, and his pinafore spotted with blood, was playing at bob-cherry,
and cared nothing about the matter.

"Well, what's the matter, my little man?" said Dr Middleton, on
entering, addressing himself to Jack, as the most sensible of the whole
party.

"Oh, Dr Middleton," interrupted Mrs Easy, "he has cut his hand; I am
sure that a nerve is divided, and then the lockjaw--"

The doctor made no reply, but examined the finger: Jack Easy continued
to play bob-cherry with his right hand.

"Have you such a thing as a piece of sticking-plaster in the house,
madam?" observed the doctor, after examination.

"Oh, yes--run, Mary--run, Sarah!"  In a few seconds the maids appeared,
Sarah bringing the sticking-plaster, and Mary following with the
scissors.

"Make yourself quite easy, madam," said Dr Middleton, after he put on
the plaster, "I will answer for no evil consequences."

"Had I not better take him upstairs, and let him lie down a little?"
replied Mrs Easy, slipping a guinea into the doctor's hand.

"It is not absolutely requisite, madam," said the doctor; "but at all
events he will be kept out of more mischief."

"Come, my dear, you hear what Dr Middleton says."

"Yes, I heard," replied Jack; "but I shan't go."

"My dear Johnny--come, love--now do, my dear Johnny."

Johnny played bob-cherry, and made no answer.

"Come, Master Johnny," said Sarah.

"Go away, Sarah," said Johnny, with a back-hander.

"Oh, fie, Master Johnny!" said Mary.

"Johnny, my love," said Mrs Easy, in a coaxing tone, "come now--will
you go?"

"I'll go in the garden and get some more cherries," replied Master
Johnny.

"Come, then, love, we will go into the garden."  Master Johnny jumped
off his chair, and took his mamma by the hand.

"What a dear, good, obedient child it is!" exclaimed Mrs Easy: "you may
lead him with a thread."

"Yes, to pick cherries," thought Dr Middleton.  Mrs Easy, and Johnny,
and Sarah, and Mary went into the garden, leaving Dr Middleton alone
with Mr Easy, who had been silent during this scene.  Now Dr Middleton
was a clever, sensible man, who had no wish to impose upon any one.  As
for his taking a guinea for putting on a piece of sticking-plaster, his
conscience was very easy on that score.  His time was equally valuable,
whether he were employed for something or nothing; and, moreover, he
attended the poor gratis.  Constantly in the house, he had seen much of
Mr John Easy, and perceived that he was a courageous, decided boy, of a
naturally good disposition; but from the idiosyncrasy of the father and
the doting folly of the mother, in a sure way of being spoiled.  As
soon, therefore, as the lady was out of hearing, he took a chair, and
made the query at the commencement of the chapter, which we shall now
repeat.

"Have you no idea of putting the boy to school, Mr Easy?"

Mr Easy crossed his legs, and clasped his hands together over his
knees, as he always did when he was about to commence an argument.

"The great objection that I have to sending a boy to school, Dr
Middleton, is, that I conceive that the discipline enforced is, not only
contrary to the rights of man, but also in opposition to all sound sense
and common judgment.  Not content with punishment, which is in itself
erroneous and an infringement of social justice, they even degrade the
minds of the boys still more by applying punishment to the most degraded
part, adding contumely to tyranny.  Of course it is intended that a boy
who is sent to school should gain by precept and example but is he to
learn benevolence by the angry look and the flourish of the vindictive
birch--or forbearance by the cruelty of the ushers--or patience, when
the masters over him are out of all patience--or modesty, when his
nether parts are exposed to general examination?  Is he not daily
reading a lesson at variance with that equality which we all possess,
but of which we are unjustly deprived?  Why should there be a
distinction between the flogger and the flogged?  Are they not both
fashioned alike after God's image, endowed with the same reason, having
an equal right to what the world offers, and which was intended by
Providence to be equally distributed?  Is it not that the sacred
inheritance of all, which has tyrannously and impiously been ravished
from the many for the benefit of the few, and which ravishment, from
long custom of iniquity and inculcation of false precepts, has too long
been basely submitted to?  Is it not the duty of a father to preserve
his only son from imbibing these dangerous and debasing errors, which
will render him only one of a vile herd who are content to suffer,
provided that they live?  And yet are not these very errors inculcated
at school, and impressed upon their mind inversely by the birch?  Do not
they there receive their first lesson in slavery with the first lesson
in A B C; and are not their minds thereby prostrated, so as never to
rise again, but ever to bow to despotism, to cringe to rank, to think
and act by the precepts of others, and to tacitly disavow that sacred
equality which is our birthright?  No, sir, without they can teach
without resorting to such a fundamental error as flogging, my boy shall
never go to school."

And Mr Easy threw himself back in his chair, imagining, like all
philosophers, that he had said something very clever.

Dr Middleton knew his man, and therefore patiently waited until he had
exhausted his oratory.

"I will grant," said the doctor at last, "that all you say may have
great truth in it; but, Mr Easy, do you not think that by not
permitting a boy to be educated, you allow him to remain more open to
that very error of which you speak?  It is only education which will
conquer prejudice, and enable a man to break through the trammels of
custom.  Now, allowing that the birch is used, yet it is at a period
when the young mind is so elastic as to soon become indifferent; and
after he has attained the usual rudiments of education, you will then
find him prepared to receive those lessons which you can yourself
instil."

"I will teach him everything myself," replied Mr Easy, folding his arms
consequentially and determinedly.

"I do not doubt your capability, Mr Easy; but unfortunately you will
always have a difficulty which you never can get over.  Excuse me, I
know what you are capable of, and the boy would indeed be happy with
such a preceptor, but--if I must speak plain--you must be aware as well
as I am, that the maternal fondness of Mrs Easy will always be a bar to
your intention.  He is already so spoiled by her, that he will not obey;
and without obedience you cannot inculcate."

"I grant, my dear sir, that there is a difficulty on that point; but
maternal weakness must then be overcome by paternal severity."

"May I ask how, Mr Easy, for it appears to be impossible?"

"Impossible!  By heavens, I'll make him obey, or I'll--" Here Mr Easy
stopped before the word "flog" was fairly out of his mouth--"I'll know
the reason why, Dr Middleton."

Dr Middleton checked his inclination to laugh, and replied, "That you
would hit upon some scheme, by which you would obtain the necessary
power over him, I have no doubt; but what will be the consequence?  The
boy will consider his mother as a protector, and you as a tyrant.  He
will have an aversion to you, and with that aversion he will never pay
respect and attention to your valuable precepts when he arrives at an
age to understand them.  Now it appears to me that this difficulty which
you have raised may be got over.  I know a very worthy clergyman who
does not use the birch; but I will write, and put the direct question to
him; and then if your boy is removed from the danger arising from Mrs
Easy's over-indulgence, in a short time he will be ready for your more
important tuition."

"I think," replied Mr Easy, after a pause, "that what you say merits
consideration.  I acknowledge that in consequence of Mrs Easy's
nonsensical indulgence, the boy is unruly, and will not obey me at
present; and if your friend does not apply the rod, I will think
seriously of sending my son John to him to learn the elements."

The doctor had gained his point by flattering the philosopher.

In a day he returned with a letter from the pedagogue in answer to one
supposed to be sent to him, in which the use of the birch was
indignantly disclaimed, and Mr Easy announced to his wife, when they
met that day at tea-time, his intentions with regard to his son John.

"To school, Mr Easy? what, send Johnny to school! a mere infant to
school!"

"Surely, my dear, you must be aware that at nine years it is high time
that he learned to read."

"Why he almost reads already, Mr Easy; surely I can teach him that.
Does he not, Sarah?"

"Lord bless him, yes, ma'am, he was saying his letters yesterday."

"Oh, Mr Easy, what can have put this in your head?  Johnny dear, come
here--tell me now what's the letter A.  You were singing it in the
garden this morning."

"I want some sugar," replied Johnny, stretching his arm over the table
to the sugar-basin, which was out of his reach.

"Well, my love, you shall have a great lump if you will tell me what's
the letter A."

"A was an archer, and shot at a frog," replied Johnny, in a surly tone.

"There now, Mr Easy; and he can go through the whole alphabet--can't
he, Sarah?"

"That he can, the dear--can't you, Johnny dear?"

"No," replied Johnny.

"Yes, you can, my love; you know what's the letter B.  Now don't you?"

"Yes," replied Johnny.

"There, Mr Easy, you see what the boy knows, and how obedient he is
too.  Come, Johnny dear, tell us what was B."

"No, I won't," replied Johnny, "I want some more sugar;" and Johnny, who
had climbed on a chair, spread himself over the table to reach it.

"Mercy!  Sarah, pull him off--he'll upset the urn," screamed Mrs Easy.
Sarah caught hold of Johnny by the loins to pull him back, but Johnny,
resisting the interference, turned round on his back as he lay on the
table, and kicked Sarah in the face, just as she made another desperate
grasp at him.  The rebound from the kick, given as he lay on a smooth
mahogany table, brought Johnny's head in contact with the urn, which was
upset in the opposite direction, and, notwithstanding a rapid movement
on the part of Mr Easy, he received a sufficient portion of boiling
liquid on his legs to scald him severely, and induce him to stamp and
swear in a very unphilosophical way.  In the meantime Sarah and Mrs
Easy had caught up Johnny, and were both holding him at the same time,
exclaiming and lamenting.  The pain of the scald and the indifference
shown towards him were too much for Mr Easy's temper to put up with.
He snatched Johnny out of their arms, and, quite forgetting his equality
and rights of man, belaboured him without mercy.  Sarah flew in to
interfere, and received a blow which not only made her see a thousand
stars, but sent her reeling on the floor.  Mrs Easy went off into
hysterics, and Johnny howled so as to be heard at a quarter of a mile.

How long Mr Easy would have continued it is impossible to say; but the
door opened, and Mr Easy looked up while still administering the
punishment, and perceived Dr Middleton in mute astonishment.  He had
promised to come in to tea, and enforce Mr Easy's arguments, if it were
necessary; but it certainly appeared to him that in the argument which
Mr Easy was then enforcing, he required no assistance.  However, at the
entrance of Dr Middleton, Johnny was dropped, and lay roaring on the
floor; Sarah, too, remained where she had been floored, Mrs Easy had
rolled on the floor, the urn was also on the floor, and Mr Easy,
although not floored, had not a leg to stand upon.

Never did a medical man look in more opportunely.  Mr Easy at first was
not certainly of that opinion, but his legs became so painful that he
soon became a convert.

Dr Middleton, as in duty bound, first picked up Mrs Easy, and laid her
on the sofa.  Sarah rose, picked up Johnny, and carried him kicking and
roaring out of the room; in return, for which attention she received
sundry bites.  The footman, who had announced the doctor, picked up the
urn, that being all that was in his department.  Mr Easy threw himself
panting and in agony on the other sofa, and Dr Middleton was
excessively embarrassed how to act: he perceived that Mr Easy required
his assistance, and that Mrs Easy could do without it; but how to leave
a lady who was half really and half pretendedly in hysterics, was
difficult; for if he attempted to leave her, she kicked and flounced,
and burst out the more.  At last Dr Middleton rang the bell, which
brought the footman, who summoned all the maids, who carried Mrs Easy
upstairs, and then the doctor was able to attend to the only patient who
really required his assistance.  Mr Easy explained the affair in a few
words broken into ejaculations from pain, as the doctor removed his
stockings.  From the applications of Dr Middleton, Mr Easy soon
obtained bodily relief; but what annoyed him still more than his scalded
legs, was the doctor having been a witness to his infringement of the
equality and rights of man.  Dr Middleton perceived this, and he knew
also how to pour balm into that wound.

"My dear Mr Easy, I am very sorry that you have had this accident, for
which you are indebted to Mrs Easy's foolish indulgence of the boy; but
I am glad to perceive that you have taken up those parental duties which
are inculcated by the Scriptures.  Solomon says, `that he who spares the
rod, spoils the child,' thereby implying that it is the duty of a father
to correct his children, and in a father, the so doing does not
interfere with the rights of man, or any natural equality, for the son
being a part or portion of the father, he is correcting his own self
only; and the proof of it is, that a father, in punishing his own son,
feels as much pain in so doing as if he were himself punished.  It is,
therefore, nothing but self-discipline, which is strictly enjoined us by
the Scriptures."

"That is exactly my opinion," replied Mr Easy, comforted at the doctor
having so logically got him out of the scrape.  "But--he shall go to
school tomorrow, that I'm determined on."

"He will have to thank Mrs Easy for that," replied the doctor.

"Exactly," replied Mr Easy.  "Doctor, my legs are getting very hot
again."

"Continue to bathe them with the vinegar and water, Mr Easy, until I
send you an embrocation, which will give you immediate relief.  I will
call tomorrow.  By-the-bye, I am to see a little patient at Mr
Bonnycastle's: if it is any accommodation, I will take your son with
me."

"It will be a great accommodation, doctor," replied Mr Easy.

"Then, my dear sir, I will just go up and see how Mrs Easy is, and
to-morrow I will call at ten.  I can wait an hour.  Good-night."

"Good-night, doctor."

The doctor had his game to play with Mrs Easy.  He magnified her
husband's accident--he magnified his wrath, and advised her by no means
to say one word, until he was well, and more pacified.  The next day he
repeated this dose, and, in spite of the ejaculations of Sarah, and the
tears of Mrs Easy, who dared not venture to plead her cause, and the
violent resistance of Master Johnny, who appeared to have a presentiment
of what was to come, our hero was put into Dr Middleton's chariot, and
with the exception of one plate of glass, which he kicked out of the
window with his feet, and for which feat, the doctor, now that he had
him all to himself, boxed his ears till he was nearly blind, he was,
without any further eventful occurrence, carried by the doctor's footman
into the parlour of Mr Bonnycastle.



CHAPTER FIVE.

JACK EASY IS SENT TO A SCHOOL AT WHICH THERE IS NO FLOGGING.

Master Jack had been plumped down in a chair by the doctor's servant,
who, as he quitted him, first looked at his own hands, from which the
blood was drawn in several parts, and then at Master Jack, with his
teeth closed and lips compressed, as much as to say, "If I only dared,
would not I, that's all?" and then walked out of the room, repaired to
the carriage at the front door, when he showed his hands to the
coachman, who looked down from his box in great commiseration, at the
same time fully sharing his fellow-servant's indignation.  But we must
repair to the parlour.  Dr Middleton ran over a newspaper, while Johnny
sat on the chair all of a heap, looking like a lump of sulks, with his
feet on the upper front bar, and his knees almost up to his nose.  He
was a promising pupil, Jack.

Mr Bonnycastle made his appearance--a tall, well-built, handsome, fair
man, with a fine powdered head, dressed in solemn black, and knee
buckles; his linen beautifully clean, and with a peculiar bland
expression of countenance.  When he smiled he showed a row of teeth
white as ivory, and his mild blue eye was the _ne plus ultra_ of
beneficence.  He was the beau-ideal of a preceptor, and it was
impossible to see him and hear his mild pleasing voice, without wishing
that all your sons were under his protection.  He was a ripe scholar,
and a good one, and at the time we speak of had the care of upwards of
one hundred boys.  He was celebrated for turning them out well, and many
of his pupils were rising fast in the senate, as well as distinguishing
themselves in the higher professions.

Dr Middleton, who was on intimate terms with Bonnycastle, rose as he
entered the room, and they shook hands.  Middleton then turned to where
Jack sat, and pointing to him, said, "Look there."

Bonnycastle smiled.  "I cannot say that I have had worse, but I have
almost as bad.  I will apply the Promethean torch, and soon vivify that
rude mass.  Come, sit down, Middleton."

"But," said the doctor, as he resumed his chair, "tell me, Bonnycastle,
how you will possibly manage to lick such a cub into shape, when you do
not resort to flogging?"

"I have no opinion of flogging, and therefore I do not resort to it.
The fact is, I was at Harrow myself, and was rather a pickle.  I was
called up as often as most boys in the school, and I perfectly recollect
that eventually I cared nothing for a flogging.  I had become
case-hardened.  It is the least effective part that you can touch a boy
upon.  It leaves nothing behind to refresh their memory."

"I should have thought otherwise."

"My dear Middleton, I can produce more effect by one caning than twenty
floggings.  Observe, you flog upon a part for the most part quiescent;
but you cane upon all parts, from the head to the heels.  Now, when once
the first sting of the birch is over, then a dull sensation comes over
the part, and the pain after that is nothing; whereas a good sound
caning leaves sores and bruises in every part, and on all the parts
which are required for muscular action.  After a flogging, a boy may run
out in the hours of recreation, and join his playmates as well as ever,
but a good caning tells a very different tale; he cannot move one part
of his body without being reminded for days by the pain of the
punishment he has undergone, and he is very careful how he is called up
again."

"My dear sir, I really had an idea that you were excessively lenient,"
replied Middleton, laughing; "I am glad that I am under a mistake."

"Look at that cub, doctor, sitting there more like a brute than a
reasonable being; do you imagine that I could ever lick it into shape
without strong measures?  At the same time, allow me to say, that I
consider my system by far the best.  At the public schools, punishment
is no check; it is so trifling that it is derided: with me punishment is
punishment in the true sense of the word, and the consequence is, that
it is much more seldom resorted to."

"You are a terrorist, Bonnycastle."

"The two strongest impulses in our nature are fear and love.  In theory,
acting upon the latter is very beautiful; but in practice, I never found
it to answer,--and for the best of reasons, our self-love is stronger
than our love for others.  Now I never yet found fear to fail, for the
very same reason that the other does, because with fear we act upon
self-love, and nothing else."

"And yet we have many now who would introduce a system of schooling
without correction; and who maintain that the present system is
degrading."

"There are a great many fools in this world, doctor."

"That reminds me of this boy's father," replied Dr Middleton; who then
detailed to the pedagogue the idiosyncrasy of Mr Easy, and all the
circumstances attending Jack being sent to his school.

"There is no time to be lost then, doctor.  I must conquer this young
gentleman before his parents call to see him.  Depend upon it, in a week
I will have him obedient and well broke in."

Dr Middleton wished Jack good-bye, and told him to be a good boy.  Jack
did not vouchsafe to answer.  "Never mind, doctor, he will be more
polished next time you call here, depend upon it," and the doctor
departed.

Although Mr Bonnycastle was severe, he was very judicious.  Mischief of
all kinds was visited but by slender punishment, such as being kept in
at play hours, etcetera; and he seldom interfered with the boys for
fighting, although he checked decided oppression.  The great _sine qua
non_ with him was attention to their studies.  He soon discovered the
capabilities of his pupils, and he forced them accordingly; but the idle
boy, the bird who "could sing and wouldn't sing," received no mercy.
The consequence was, that he turned out the cleverest boys, and his
conduct was so uniform and unvarying in its tenor, that if he was feared
when they were under his control, he was invariably liked by those whom
he had instructed, and they continued his friends in after life.

Mr Bonnycastle at once perceived that it was no use coaxing our hero,
and that fear was the only attribute by which he could be controlled.
So, as soon as Dr Middleton had quitted the room, he addressed him in a
commanding tone, "Now, boy, what is your name?"

Jack started; he looked up at his master, perceived his eye fixed upon
him, and a countenance not to be played with.  Jack was no fool, and
somehow or another, the discipline he had received from his father had
given him some intimation of what was to come.  All this put together
induced Jack to condescend to answer, with his forefinger between his
teeth, "Johnny."

"And what is your other name, sir?"

Jack, who appeared to repent his condescension, did not at first answer,
but he looked again in Mr Bonnycastle's face, and then round the room:
there was no one to help him, and he could not help himself, so he
replied "Easy."

"Do you know why you are sent to school?"

"Scalding father."

"No; you are sent to learn to read and write."

"But I won't read and write," replied Jack sulkily.

"Yes, you will and you are going to read your letters now directly."

Jack made no answer.  Mr Bonnycastle opened a sort of book-case, and
displayed to John's astonished view a series of canes, ranged up and
down like billiard cues, and continued, "Do you know what those are
for?"

Jack eyed them wistfully; he had some faint idea that he was sure to be
better acquainted with them but he made no answer.

"They are to teach little boys to read and write, and now I am going to
teach you.  You'll soon learn.  Look now here," continued Mr
Bonnycastle, opening a book with large type, and taking a capital at the
head of a chapter, about half an inch long.  "Do you see that letter?"

"Yes," replied Johnny, turning his eyes away, and picking his fingers.

"Well, that is the letter B.  Do you see it?  Look at it, so that you
may know it again.  That's the letter B.  Now tell me what that letter
is."

Jack now determined to resist, so he made no answer.

"So you cannot tell; well, then, we will try what one of these little
fellows will do," said Mr Bonnycastle, taking down a cane.  "Observe,
Johnny, that's the letter B.  Now, what letter is that?  Answer me
directly."

"I won't learn to read and write."

Whack came the cane on Johnny's shoulders, who burst out into a roar as
he writhed with pain.

Mr Bonnycastle waited a few seconds.  "That's the letter B.  Now tell
me, sir, directly, what that letter is."

"I'll tell my _mar_."  Whack!  "O law!  O law!"

"What letter is that?"

Johnny, with his mouth open, panting, and the tears on his cheeks,
answered indignantly, "Stop till I tell Sarah."

Whack came the cane again, and a fresh burst from Johnny.

"What letter's that?"

"I won't tell," roared Johnny; "I won't tell--that I won't."

Whack--whack--whack, and a pause.  "I told you before, that's the letter
B.  What letter is that?  Tell me directly."

Johnny, by way of reply, made a snatch at the cane.  Whack--he caught
it, certainly, but not exactly as he would have wished.  Johnny then
snatched up the book, and dashed it to the corner of the room.  Whack,
whack.  Johnny attempted to seize Mr Bonnycastle with his teeth.
Whack, whack, whack, whack; and Johnny fell on the carpet, and roared
with pain.  Mr Bonnycastle then left him for a little while, to recover
himself, and sat down.

At last Johnny's exclamations settled down in deep sobs, and then Mr
Bonnycastle said to him, "Now, Johnny, you perceive that you must do as
you are bid, or else you will have more beating.  Get up immediately.
Do you hear, sir?"

Somehow or another, Johnny, without intending it, stood upon his feet.

"That's a good boy; now you see, by getting up as you were bid, you have
not been beaten.  Now, Johnny, you must go and bring the book from where
you threw it down.  Do you hear, sir? bring it directly!"

Johnny looked at Mr Bonnycastle and the cane.  With every intention to
refuse, Johnny picked up the book and laid it on the table.

"That's a good boy; now we will find the letter B.  Here it is: now,
Johnny, tell me what that letter is."

Johnny made no answer.

"Tell me directly, sir," said Mr Bonnycastle, raising his cane up in
the air.  The appeal was too powerful.  Johnny eyed the cane; it moved,
it was coming.  Breathlessly he shrieked out, "B!"

"Very well indeed, Johnny--very well.  Now your first lesson is over,
and you shall go to bed.  You have learned more than you think for.
To-morrow we will begin again.  Now we'll put the cane by."

Mr Bonnycastle rang the bell, and desired Master Johnny to be put to
bed, in a room by himself, and not to give him any supper, as hunger
would, the next morning, much facilitate his studies.  Pain and hunger
alone will tame brutes, and the same remedy must be applied to conquer
those passions in man which assimilate him with brutes.  Johnny was
conducted to bed, although it was but six o'clock.  He was not only in
pain, but his ideas were confused; and no wonder, after all his life
having been humoured and indulged--never punished until the day before.
After all the caresses of his mother and Sarah, which he never knew the
value of--after stuffing himself all day long, and being tempted to eat
till he turned away in satiety, to find himself without his mother,
without Sarah, without supper--covered with weals, and, what was worse
than all, without his own way.  No wonder Johnny was confused; at the
same time that he was subdued; and, as Mr Bonnycastle had truly told
him, he had learned more than he had any idea of.  And what would Mrs
Easy have said, had she known all this--and Sarah too?  And Mr Easy,
with his rights of man?  At the very time that Johnny was having the
devil driven out of him, they were consoling themselves with the idea,
that, at all events, there was no birch used at Mr Bonnycastle's, quite
losing sight of the fact, that as there are more ways of killing a dog
besides hanging him, so are there more ways of teaching than _a
posteriori_.  Happy in their ignorance, they all went fast asleep,
little dreaming that Johnny was already so far advanced in knowledge as
to have a tolerable comprehension of the _mystery of cane_.  As for
Johnny, he had cried himself to sleep at least six hours before them.



CHAPTER SIX.

IN WHICH JACK MAKES ESSAY OF HIS FATHER'S SUBLIME PHILOSOPHY AND ARRIVES
VERY NEAR TO TRUTH AT LAST.

The next morning Master Jack Easy was not only very sore but very
hungry, and as Mr Bonnycastle informed him that he would not only have
plenty of cane, but also no breakfast, if he did not learn his letters,
Johnny had wisdom enough to say the whole alphabet, for which he
received a great deal of praise, the which if he did not duly
appreciate, he at all events infinitely preferred to beating.  Mr
Bonnycastle perceived that he had conquered the boy by one hour's
well-timed severity.  He therefore handed him over to the ushers in the
school, and as they were equally empowered to administer the needful
impulse, Johnny very soon became a very tractable boy.

It may be imagined that the absence of Johnny was severely felt at home,
but such was not the case.  In the first place, Dr Middleton had
pointed out to Mrs Easy that there was no flogging at the school, and
that the punishment received by Johnny from his father would very likely
be repeated--and in the next, although Mrs Easy thought that she never
could have survived the parting with her own son, she soon found out
that she was much happier without him.  A spoiled child is always a
source of anxiety and worry, and after Johnny's departure, Mrs Easy
found a quiet and repose much more suited to her disposition.  Gradually
she weaned herself from him, and, satisfied with seeing him occasionally
and hearing the reports of Dr Middleton, she at last was quite
reconciled to his being at school, and not coming back except during the
holidays.  John Easy made great progress; he had good natural abilities,
and Mr Easy rubbed his hands when he saw the doctor, saying, "Yes, let
them have him for a year or two longer, and then I'll finish him
myself."  Each vacation he had attempted to instil into Johnny's mind
the equal rights of man.  Johnny appeared to pay but little attention to
his father's discourses, but evidently showed that they were not
altogether thrown away, as he helped himself to everything he wanted,
without asking leave.  And thus was our hero educated until he arrived
at the age of sixteen, when he was a stout, good-looking boy, with
plenty to say for himself,--indeed, when it suited his purpose, he could
outtalk his father.

Nothing pleased Mr Easy so much as Jack's loquacity.--"That's right;
argue the point, Jack--argue the point, boy," would he say, as Jack
disputed with his mother.  And then he would turn to the doctor, rubbing
his hands, and observe, "Depend upon it, Jack will be a great, a very
great man."  And then he would call Jack and give him a guinea for his
cleverness; and at last Jack thought it a very clever thing to argue.
He never would attempt to argue with Mr Bonnycastle, because he was
aware that Mr Bonnycastle's arguments were too strong for him, but he
argued with all the boys until it ended in a fight which decided the
point; and he sometimes argued with the ushers.  In short, at the time
we now speak of, which was at the breaking up of the Midsummer holidays,
Jack was as full of argument as he was fond of it.  He would argue the
point to the point of a needle, and he would divide that point into as
many as there were days of the year, and argue upon each.  In short,
there was no end to Jack's arguing the point, although there seldom was
point to his argument.

Jack had been fishing in the river, without any success, for a whole
morning, and observed a large pond which had the appearance of being
well stocked--he cleared the park palings, and threw in his line.  He
had pulled up several fine fish, when he was accosted by the proprietor,
accompanied by a couple of keepers.

"May I request the pleasure of your name, young gentleman?" said the
proprietor to Jack.

Now Jack was always urbane and polite.

"Certainly, sir; my name is Easy, very much at your service."

"And you appear to me to be taking it very easy," replied the gentleman.
"Pray, sir, may I inquire whether you are aware that you are
trespassing?"

"The word trespass, my dear sir," replied Jack, "will admit of much
argument, and I will divide it into three heads.  It implies, accordng
to the conventional meaning, coming without permission upon the land or
property of another.  Now, sir, the question may all be resolved in the
following.  Was not the world made for all? and has any one, or any
portion of its inhabitants an exclusive right to claim any part of it,
as his property?  If you please, I have laid down the proposition, and
we will now argue the point."

The gentleman who accosted Jack had heard of Mr Easy and his arguments;
he was a humorist, and more inclined to laugh than to be angry; at the
same time he considered it necessary to show Jack that under existing
circumstances they were not tenable.

"But, Mr Easy, allowing the trespass on the property to be venial,
surely you do not mean to say that you are justified in taking my fish;
I bought the fish, and stocked the pond, and have fed them ever since.
You cannot deny but that they are private property, and that to take
them is a theft?"

"That will again admit of much ratiocination, my dear sir," replied
Jack; "but--I beg your pardon, I have a fish."  Jack pulled up a large
carp, much to the indignation of the keepers and to the amusement of
their master, unhooked it, placed it in his basket, renewed his bait
with the greatest _sang froid_, and then throwing in his line, resumed
his discourse.  "As I was observing, my dear sir," continued Jack, "that
will admit of much ratiocination.  All the creatures of the earth were
given to man for his use--man means mankind--they were never intended to
be made a monopoly of.  Water is also the gift of heaven, and meant for
the use of all.  We now come to the question how far the fish are your
property.  If the fish only bred on purpose to please you, and make you
a present of their stock, it might then require a different line of
argument; but as in breeding they only acted in obedience to an instinct
with which they are endowed on purpose that they may supply man, I
submit to you that you cannot prove these fish to be yours more than
mine.  As for feeding with the idea that they were your own, that is not
an unusual case in this world, even when a man is giving bread and
butter to his children.  Further--but I have another bite--I beg your
pardon, my dear sir.  Ah! he's off again--"

"Then, Mr Easy, you mean to say that the world and its contents are
made for all."

"Exactly, sir, that is my father's opinion, who is a very great
philosopher."

"How then does your father account for some possessing property and
others being without it?"

"Because those who are the strongest have deprived those who are
weaker."

"But would not that be always the case even if we were in that state of
general inheritance which you have supposed.  For instance, allowing two
men to chase the same animal, and both to come up to it at the same
time, would not the strongest bear it off?"

"I grant that, sir."

"Well, then, where is your equality?"

"That does not disprove that men were not intended to be equal; it only
proves that they are not so.  Neither does it disprove that everything
was not made for the benefit of all; it only proves that the strong will
take advantage of the weak, which is very natural."

"Oh! you grant that to be very natural.--Well, Mr Easy, I am glad to
perceive that we are of one mind, and I trust we shall continue so.
You'll observe that I and my keepers being three, we are the strong
party in this instance, and admitting your argument, that the fish are
as much yours as mine, still I take advantage of my strength to
repossess myself of them, which is, as you say, very natural.--James,
take those fish."

"If you please," interrupted Jack, "we will argue that point--"

"Not at all; I will act according to your own arguments--I have the
fish, but I now mean to have more--that fishing-rod is as much mine as
yours, and being the stronger party, I will take possession of it.--
James, William, take that fishing-rod--it is ours."

"I presume you will first allow me to observe," replied Jack, "that
although I have expressed my opinion that the earth and the animals on
it were made for us all, that I never yet have asserted that what a man
creates by himself, or has created for him for a consideration, is not
his own property."

"I beg your pardon; the trees that that rod was made from were made for
us all, and if you, or any one for you, have thought proper to make it
into a rod, it is no more my fault than it is that I have been feeding
the fish with the supposition that they were my own.  Everything being
common, and it being but natural that the strong should take advantage
of the weak, I must take that rod as my property, until I am
dispossessed by one more powerful.  Moreover, being the stronger party,
and having possession of this land, which you say does not belong to me
more than to you--I also shall direct my keepers to see you off this
property.  James, take the rod--see Mr Easy over the park palings.  Mr
Easy, I wish you a good morning."

"Sir, I beg your pardon, you have not yet heard all my arguments,"
replied Jack, who did not approve of the conclusions drawn.

"I have no time to hear more, Mr Easy: I wish you a good morning."  And
the proprietor departed, leaving Jack in company with the keepers.

"I'll trouble you for that rod, master," said William.  James was very
busy stringing the fish through the gills upon a piece of osier.

"At all events you will hear reason," said Jack.  "I have arguments--"

"I never heard no good arguments in favour of poaching," interrupted the
keeper.

"You're an insolent fellow," replied Jack.  "It is by paying such
vagabonds as you that people are able to be guilty of injustice."

"It's by paying us that the land an't poached--and if there be some
excuse for a poor devil who is out of work, there be none for you, who
call yourself a gentleman."

"According to his 'count, as we be all equal, he be no more a gentleman
than we be."

"Silence, you blackguard, I shall not condescend to argue with such as
you: if I did I could prove that you are a set of base slaves, who have
just as much right to this property as your master or I have."

"As you have, I dare say, master."

"As I have, you scoundrel; this pond is as much my property, and so are
the fish in it, as they are of your master, who has usurped the right."

"I say, James, what do you say, shall we put the young gentleman in
possession of his property?" said William, winking to the other.

William took the hint; they seized Jack by the arms and legs, and soused
him into the pond.  Jack arose after a deep submersion, and floundered
on shore blowing and spluttering.  But in the meantime the keepers had
walked away, carrying with them the rod and line, fish, and tin-can of
bait, laughing loudly at the practical joke which they had played our
hero.

"Well," thought Jack, "either here must be some mistake in my father's
philosophy, or else this is a very wicked world.  I shall submit this
case to my father."

And Jack received this reply--"I have told you before, Jack, that these
important truths will not at present be admitted--but it does not the
less follow that they are true.  This is the age of iron, in which might
has become right--but the time will come when these truths will be
admitted, and your father's name will be more celebrated than that of
any philosopher of ancient days.  Recollect, Jack, that although in
preaching against wrong and advocating the rights of man, you will be
treated as a martyr, it is still your duty to persevere; and if you are
dragged through all the horse-ponds in the kingdom, never give up your
argument."

"That I never will, sir," replied Jack; "but the next time I argue it
shall be, if possible, with power on my side, and, at all events, not
quite so near a pond."

"I think," said Mrs Easy, who had been a silent listener, "that Jack
had better fish in the river, and then, if he catches no fish, at all
events he will not be soused in the water, and spoil his clothes."

But Mrs Easy was no philosopher.

A few days afterwards, Jack discovered, one fine morning, on the other
side of a hedge, a summer apple-tree bearing tempting fruit, and he
immediately broke through the hedge, and climbing the tree, as our first
mother did before him, he culled the fairest and did eat.

"I say, you sir, what are you doing there?" cried a rough voice.

Jack looked down, and perceived a stout, thick-set personage in grey
coat and red waistcoat, standing underneath him.

"Don't you see what I'm about," replied Jack, "I'm eating apples--shall
I throw you down a few?"

"Thank you kindly--the fewer that are pulled the better; perhaps, as you
are so free to give them to others as well as to help yourself, you may
think that they are your own property!"

"Not a bit more my property than they are yours, my good man."

"I guess that's something like the truth; but you are not quite at the
truth yet, my lad; those apples are mine, and I'll trouble you to come
down as fast as you please; when you're down we can then settle our
accounts; and," continued the man, shaking his cudgel, "depend upon it
you shall have your receipt in full."

Jack did not much like the appearance of things.

"My good man," said he, "it is quite a prejudice on your part to imagine
that apples were not given, as well as all other fruit, for the benefit
of us all--they are common property, believe me."

"That's a matter of opinion, my lad, and I may be allowed to have my
own."

"You'll find it in the Bible," says Jack.

"I never did yet, and I've read it through and through all, bating the
'Pocryfar."

"Then," said Jack, "go home and fetch the Bible, and I'll prove it to
you."

"I suspect you'll not wait till I come back again.  No, no; I have lost
plenty of apples, and have long wanted to find the robbers out; now I've
caught one I'll take care that he don't 'scape without apple-sauce, at
all events--so come down, you young thief, come down directly--or it
will be all the worse for you."

"Thank you," said Jack, "but I am very well here.  I will, if you
please, argue the point from where I am."

"I've no time to argue the point, my lad; I've plenty to do, but do not
think I'll let you off.  If you don't choose to come down, why then you
may stay there, and I'll answer for it, as soon as work is done I shall
find you safe enough."

"What can be done," thought Jack, "with a man who will not listen to
argument?  What a world is this!--however, he'll not find me here when
he comes back, I've a notion."

But in this Jack was mistaken.  The farmer walked to the hedge, and
called to a boy, who took his orders and ran to the farm-house.  In a
minute or two a large bull-dog was seen bounding along the orchard to
his master.  "Mark him, Caesar," said the farmer to the dog, "mark him."
The dog crouched down on the grass, with his head up, and eyes glaring
at Jack, showing a range of teeth, that drove all our hero's philosophy
out of his head.

"I can't wait here, but Caesar can, and I will tell you, as a friend,
that if he gets hold of you, he'll not leave a limb of you together--
when work's done I'll come back."  So saying, the farmer walked off,
leaving Jack and the dog to argue the point, if so inclined.  What a sad
jade must philosophy be, to put her votaries in such predicaments!

After a while the dog laid his head down and closed his eyes as if
asleep, but Jack observed, that at the least movement on his part one
eye was seen to partially unclose; so Jack, like a prudent man, resolved
to remain where he was.  He picked a few more apples, for it was his
dinner-time, and as he chewed he ruminated.

Jack had been but a few minutes ruminating before he was interrupted by
another ruminating animal, no less a personage than a bull, who had been
turned out with full possession of the orchard, and who now advanced,
bellowing occasionally, and tossing his head at the sight of Caesar,
whom he considered as much a trespasser as his master had our hero.
Caesar started on his legs and faced the bull, who advanced pawing, with
his tail up in the air.  When within a few yards the bull made a rush at
the dog, who evaded him and attacked him in return, and thus did the
warfare continue until the opponents were already at some distance from
the apple-tree.  Jack prepared for immediate flight, but unfortunately
the combat was carried on by the side of the hedge at which Jack had
gained admission.  Never mind, thought Jack, there are two sides to
every field, and although the other hedge joined on to the garden near
to the farm-house, there was no option.  "At all events," said Jack,
"I'll try it."  Jack was slipping down the trunk, when he heard a
tremendous roar; the bull-dog had been tossed by the bull; he was then
high in the air, and Jack saw him fall on the other side of the hedge;
and the bull was thus celebrating his victory with a flourish of
trumpets.  Upon which Jack, perceiving that he was relieved from his
sentry, slipped down the rest of the tree and took to his heels.
Unfortunately for Jack, the bull saw him, and, flushed with victory, he
immediately set up another roar, and bounded after Jack.  Jack perceived
his danger, and fear gave him wings; he not only flew over the orchard,
but he flew over the hedge, which was about five feet high, just as the
bull drove his head into it.  "Look before you leap," is an old proverb.
Had Jack done so, he would have done better; but as there were cogent
reasons to be offered in extenuation of our philosopher, we shall say no
more, but merely state that Jack, when he got on the other side of the
hedge, found that he had pitched into a small apiary, and had upset two
hives of bees, who resented the intrusion; and Jack had hardly time to
get upon his legs before he found them very busy stinging him in all
quarters.  All that Jack could do was to run for it, but the bees flew
faster than he could run, and Jack was mad with pain, when he stumbled,
half-blinded, over the brickwork of a well.  Jack could not stop his
pitching into the well, but he seized the iron chain as it struck him
across the face.  Down went Jack, and round went the windlass, and after
a rapid descent of forty feet our hero found himself under water, and no
longer troubled with the bees, who, whether they had lost scent of their
prey from his rapid descent, or being notoriously clever insects,
acknowledged the truth of the adage, "leave well alone," had certainly
left Jack with no other companion than Truth.  Jack rose from his
immersion, and seized the rope to which the chain of the bucket was made
fast--it had all of it been unwound from the windlass, and therefore it
enabled Jack to keep his head above water.  After a few seconds Jack
felt something against his legs, it was the bucket, about two feet under
the water; Jack put his feet into it and found himself pretty
comfortable, for the water, after the sting of the bees and the heat he
had been put into by the race with the bull, was quite cool and
refreshing.

"At all events," thought Jack, "if it had not been for the bull, I
should have been watched by the dog, and then thrashed by the farmer;
but then again, if it had not been for the bull, I should not have
tumbled among the bees; and if it had not been for the bees, I should
not have tumbled into the well; and if it had not been for the chain, I
should have been drowned.  Such has been the chain of events, all
because I wanted to eat an apple."

"However, I have got rid of the farmer, and the dog, and the bull, and
the bees--all's well that ends well but how the devil am I to get out of
the well?--All creation appears to have conspired against the rights of
man.  As my father said, this is an iron age, and here I am swinging to
an iron chain."

We have given the whole of Jack's soliloquy, as it will prove that Jack
was no fool, although he was a bit of a philosopher; and a man who could
reason so well upon cause and effect, at the bottom of a well up to his
neck in water, showed a good deal of presence of mind.  But if Jack's
mind had been a little twisted by his father's philosophy, it had still
sufficient strength and elasticity to recover itself in due time.  Had
Jack been a common personage, we should never have selected him for our
hero.



CHAPTER SEVEN.

IN WHICH JACK MAKES SOME VERY SAGE REFLECTIONS, AND COMES TO A VERY
UNWISE DECISION.

After all, it must be acknowledged that although there are cases of
distress in which a well may become a place of refuge, a well is not at
all calculated for a prolonged residence--so thought Jack.  After he had
been there some fifteen minutes, his teeth chattered, and his limbs
trembled; he felt a numbness all over, and he thought it high time to
call for assistance, which at first he would not, as he was afraid he
should be pulled up to encounter the indignation of the farmer and his
family.  Jack was arranging his jaws for a halloo, when he felt the
chain pulled up, and he slowly emerged from the water.  At first he
heard complaints of the weight of the bucket, at which Jack was not
surprised, then he heard a tittering and laughing between two parties,
and soon afterwards he mounted up gaily.  At last his head appeared
above the low wall, and he was about to extend his arms so as to secure
a position on it, when those who were working at the windlass beheld
him.  It was a heavy farming-man and a maid-servant.

"Thank you," said Jack.

One never should be too quick in returning thanks; the girl screamed and
let go the winch; the man, frightened, did not hold it fast: it slipped
from his grasp, whirled round, struck him under the chin and threw him
over it headlong, and before the "Thank you" was fairly out of Jack's
lips, down he went again like lightning to the bottom.  Fortunately for
Jack, he had not yet let go the chain, or he might have struck the sides
and have been killed; as it was, he was merely soused a second time, and
in a minute or two regained his former position.

"This is mighty pleasant," thought Jack, as he clapped his wet hat once
more on his head: "at all events, they can't now plead ignoranc; they
must know that I'm here."

In the meantime the girl ran into the kitchen, threw herself down on a
stool, from which she reeled off in a fit upon sundry heaps of dough
waiting to be baked in the oven, which were laid to rise on the floor
before the fire.

"Mercy on me, what is the matter with Susan?" exclaimed the farmer's
wife.  "Here--where's Mary--where's John?--Deary me, if the bread won't
all be turned to pancakes."

John soon followed, holding his under-jaw in his hand, looking very
dismal and very frightened, for two reasons; one, because he thought
that his jaw was broken, and the other, because he thought he had seen
the devil.

"Mercy on us, what is the matter?" exclaimed the farmer's wife again.
"Mary, Mary, Mary!" screamed she, beginning to be frightened herself,
for with all her efforts she could not remove Susan from the bed of
dough, where she lay senseless and heavy as lead.  Mary answered to her
mistress's loud appeal, and with her assistance they raised up Susan;
but as for the bread, there was no hopes of it ever rising again.  "Why
don't you come here and help Susan, John?" cried Mary.

"Aw-yaw-aw!" was all the reply of John, who had had quite enough of
helping Susan, and who continued to hold his head, as it were, in his
hand.

"What's the matter here, missus?" exclaimed the farmer, coming in.
"Highty-tighty, what ails Susan, and what ails you?" continued the
farmer, turning to John.  "Dang it, but everything seems to go wrong
this blessed day.  First there be all the apples stolen--then there be
all the hives turned topsy-turvy in the garden--then there be Caesar
with his flank opened by the bull--then there be the bull broken through
the hedge and tumbled into the saw-pit--and now I come to get more help
to drag him out, I find one woman dead like, and John looks as if he had
seen the devil."

"Aw-yaw-aw!" replied John, nodding his head very significantly.

"One would think that the devil had broke loose to-day.  What is it,
John?  Have you seen him, and has Susan seen him?"

"Aw-yaw."

"He's stopped your jaw, then, at all events, and I thought the devil
himself wouldn't have done that--we shall get nothing of you.  Is that
wench coming to her senses?"

"Yes, yes, she's better now.--Susan, what's the matter?"

"Oh, oh, ma'am! the well, the well--"

"The well!  Something wrong there, I suppose: well, I will go and see."

The farmer trotted off to the well; he perceived the bucket was at the
bottom and all the rope out; he looked about him, and then he looked
into the well.  Jack, who had become very impatient, had been looking up
some time for the assistance which he expected would have come sooner;
the round face of the farmer occasioned a partial eclipse of the round
disc which bounded his view, just as one of the satellites of Jupiter
sometimes obscures the face of the planet round which he revolves.

"Here I am," cried Jack, "get me up quick, or I shall be dead;" and what
Jack said was true, for he was quite done up by having been so long
down, although his courage had not failed him.

"Dang it, but there be somebody fallen into the well," cried the farmer;
"no end to mishaps this day.  Well, we must get a Christian out of a
well afore we get a bull out of a saw-pit, so I'll go call the men."

In a very short time the men who were assembled round the saw-pit were
brought to the well.

"Down below there, hold on now."

"Never fear," cried Jack.

Away went the winch, and once more Jack had an extended horizon to
survey.  As soon as he was at the top, the men hauled him over the
bricks and laid him down upon the ground, for Jack's strength had failed
him.

"Dang it, if it bean't that chap who was on my apple-tree," cried the
farmer--"howsomever, he must not die for stealing a few apples; lift him
up, lads, and take him in--he is dead with cold--no wonder."

The farmer led the way, and the men carried Jack into the house, when
the farmer gave him a glass of brandy; this restored Jack's circulation,
and in a short time he was all right again.

After some previous conversation, in which Jack narrated all that had
happened, "What may be your name?" inquired the farmer.

"My name is Easy," replied Jack.

"What, be you the son of Mr Easy, of Forest Hill?"

"Yes."

"Dang it, he be my landlord, and a right good landlord too--why didn't
you say so when you were up in the apple-tree?  You might have picked
the whole orchard and welcome."

"My dear sir," replied Jack, who had taken a second glass of brandy, and
was quite talkative again, "let this be a warning to you, and when a man
proposes to argue the point, always, in future, listen.  Had you waited,
I would have proved to you most incontestably that you had no more right
to the apples than I had; but you would not listen to argument, and
without discussion we can never arrive at truth.  You send for your dog,
who is ripped up by the bull--the bull breaks his leg in a saw-pit--the
bee-hives are overturned and you lose all your honey--your man John
breaks his jaw--your maid Susan spoils all the bread--and why? because
you would not allow me to argue the point."

"Well, Mr Easy, it be all true that all these mishaps have happened
because I would not allow you to argue the point, perhaps, although, as
I rent the orchard from your father, I cannot imagine how you could have
proved to me that the apples were not mine; but now, let's take your
side of the question, and I don't see how you be much better off.  You
get up in a tree for a few apples, with plenty of money to buy them if
you like--you are kept there by a dog--you are nearly gored by a bull--
you are stung by the bees, and you tumble souse into a well, and are
nearly killed a dozen times, and all for a few apples not worth
twopence."

"All very true, my good man," replied Jack; "but you forget that I, as a
philosopher, was defending the rights of man."

"Well, I never knew before that a lad who stole apples was called a
philosopher--we calls it petty larceny in the indictments; and as for
your rights of man, I cannot see how they can be defended by doing
what's wrong."

"You do not comprehend the matter, farmer."

"No, I don't--and I be too old to learn, Master Easy.  All I have to say
is this, you are welcome to all the apples in the orchard if you please,
and if you prefers, as it seems you do, to steal them, instead of asking
for them, which I only can account for by the reason that they say, that
`stolen fruit be sweetest,' I've only to say that I shall give orders
that you be not interfered with.  My chaise be at the door, Master Easy,
and the man will drive you to your father's--make my compliments to him,
and say that I'm very sorry that you tumbled into our well."

As Jack was much more inclined for bed than argument, he wished the
farmer good-night, and allowed himself to be driven home.

The pain from the sting of the bees, now that his circulation had fully
returned, was so great, that he was not sorry to find Dr Middleton
taking his tea with his father and mother.  Jack merely said that he had
been so unfortunate as to upset a hive, and had been severely stung.  He
deferred the whole story till another opportunity.  Dr Middleton
prescribed for Jack, but on taking his hand found that he was in a high
fever, which, after the events of the day, was not to be wondered at.
Jack was bled, and kept his bed for a week, by which time he was
restored; but during that time Jack had been thinking very seriously,
and had made up his mind.

But we must explain a circumstance which had occurred, which was
probably the cause of Jack's decision.  When Jack returned on the
evening in question, he found seated with his father and Dr Middleton,
a Captain Wilson, a sort of cousin to the family, who but occasionally
paid them a visit, for he lived at some distance; and having a wife and
large family, with nothing but his half-pay for their support, he could
not afford to expend even shoe-leather in compliments.  The object of
this visit on the part of Captain Wilson was to request the aid of Mr
Easy.  He had succeeded in obtaining his appointment to a sloop of war
(for he was in the king's service), but was without the means of fitting
himself out, without leaving his wife and family penniless.  He
therefore came to request Mr Easy to lend him a few hundred pounds,
until he should be able, by his prize-money, to repay them.  Mr Easy
was not a man to refuse such a request, and, always having plenty of
spare cash at his banker's, he drew a cheque for a thousand pounds,
which he gave to Captain Wilson, requesting that he would only repay it
at his convenience.  Captain Wilson wrote an acknowledgment of the debt,
promising to pay upon his first prize-money, which receipt, however
binding it may be to a man of honour, was, in point of law, about as
valuable as if he had agreed to pay as soon "as the cows came home."
The affair had been just concluded, and Captain Wilson had returned into
the parlour with Mr Easy, when Jack returned from his expedition.

Jack greeted Captain Wilson, whom he had long known; but, as we before
observed, he suffered so much pain, that he soon retired with Dr
Middleton, and went to bed.

During a week there is room for much reflection, even in a lad of
fourteen, although at that age we are not much inclined to think.  But
Jack was in bed; his eyes were so swollen with the stings of the bees
that he could neither read nor otherwise amuse himself; and he preferred
his own thoughts to the gabble of Sarah, who attended him.  So Jack
thought, and the result of his cogitations we shall soon bring forward.

It was on the eighth day that Jack left his bed and came down into the
drawing-room.  He then detailed to his father the adventures which had
taken place, which had obliged him to take to his bed.

"You see, Jack," replied his father, "it's just what I told you: the
world is so utterly demoralised by what is called social compact, and
the phalanx supporting it by contributing a portion of their unjust
possessions for the security of the remainder, is so powerful, that any
one who opposes it, must expect to pass the life of a martyr; but
martyrs are always required previous to any truth, however sublime,
being received, and, like Abraham, whom I have always considered as a
great philosopher, I am willing to sacrifice my only son in so noble a
cause."

"That's all very good on your part, father, but we must argue the point
a little.  If you are as great a philosopher as Abraham, I am not quite
so dutiful a son as Isaac, whose blind obedience, in my opinion, is very
contrary to your rights of man: but the fact, in few words, is simply
this.  In promulgating your philosophy, in the short space of two days,
I have been robbed of the fish I caught, and my rod and line--I have
been soused into a fish-pond--I have been frightened out of my wits by a
bull-dog--been nearly killed by a bull--been stung to death by bees, and
twice tumbled into a well.  Now, if all that happens in two days, what
must I expect to suffer in a whole year?  It appears to be very unwise
to attempt making further converts, for people on shore seem determined
not to listen to reason or argument.  But it has occurred to me, that
although the whole earth has been so nefariously divided among the few,
that the waters at least are the property of all.  No man claims his
share of the sea--every one may there plough as he pleases, without
being taken up for a trespasser.  Even war makes no difference; every
one may go on as he pleases, and if they meet, it is nothing but a
neutral ground on which the parties contend.  It is, then, only upon the
ocean that I am likely to find that equality and rights of man, which we
are so anxious to establish on shore; and therefore I have resolved not
to go to school again, which I detest, but to go to sea, and propagate
our opinions as much as I can."

"I cannot listen to that, Jack.  In the first place, you must return to
school; in the next place, you shall not go to sea."

"Then, father, all I have to say is, that I swear by the rights of man I
will not go back to school, and that I will go to sea.  Who and what is
to prevent me?  Was not I born my own master?--has any one a right to
dictate to me as if I were not his equal?  Have I not as much right to
my share of the sea as any other mortal?  I stand upon perfect
equality," continued Jack, stamping his right foot on the floor.

What had Mr Easy to offer in reply?  He must either, as a philosopher,
have sacrificed his hypothesis, or, as a father, have sacrificed his
son.  Like all philosophers, he preferred what he considered as the less
important of the two, he sacrificed _his_ son; but--we will do him
justice--he did it with a sigh.

"Jack, you shall, if you wish it, go to sea."

"That, of course," replied Jack, with the air of a conqueror, "but the
question is, with whom?  Now it has occurred to me that Captain Wilson
has just been appointed to a ship, and I should like to sail with him."

"I will write to him," said Mr Easy mournfully, "but I should have
liked to have felt his head first;" and thus was the matter arranged.

The answer from Captain Wilson was, of course, in the affirmative, and
he promised that he would treat Jack as his own son.

Our hero mounted his father's horse, and rode off to Mr Bonnycastle.

"I am going to sea, Mr Bonnycastle."

"The very best thing for you," replied Mr Bonnycastle.

Our hero met Dr Middleton.

"I am going to sea, Dr Middleton."

"The very best thing for you," replied the doctor.

"I am going to sea, mother," said John.

"To sea, John, to sea? no, no, dear John, you are not going to sea,"
replied Mrs Easy, with horror.

"Yes, I am; father has agreed, and says he will obtain your consent."

"My consent!  Oh, my dear, dear boy!"--and Mrs Easy wept bitterly, as
Rachel mourning for her children.



CHAPTER EIGHT.

IN WHICH MR. EASY HAS HIS FIRST LESSON AS TO ZEAL IN HIS MAJESTY'S
SERVICE.

As there was no time to lose, our hero very soon bade adieu to his
paternal roof, as the phrase is, and found his way down to Portsmouth.
As Jack had plenty of money, and was very much pleased at finding
himself his own master, he was in no hurry to join his ship, and five or
six companions not very creditable, whom either Jack had picked up, or
had picked up Jack, and who lived upon him, strongly advised him to put
it off until the very last moment.  As this advice happened to coincide
with Jack's opinion, our hero was three weeks at Portsmouth before any
one knew of his arrival, but at last Captain Wilson received a letter
from Mr Easy, by which he found that Jack had left home at the period
we have mentioned, and he desired the first-lieutenant to make
inquiries, as he was afraid that some accident might have happened to
him.  As Mr Sawbridge, the first-lieutenant, happened to be going on
shore on the same evening for the last time previous to the ship's
sailing, he looked into the Blue Posts, George, and Fountain Inns, to
inquire if there was such a person arrived as Mr Easy.  "Oh, yes,"
replied the waiter at the Fountain--"Mr Easy has been here these three
weeks."

"The devil he has," roared Mr Sawbridge, with all the indignation of a
first-lieutenant defrauded three weeks of a midshipman; "where is he; in
the coffee-room?"

"Oh dear no, sir," replied the waiter, "Mr Easy has the front
apartments on the first floor."

"Well, then, show me up to the first floor."

"May I request the pleasure of your name, sir?" said the waiter.

"First-lieutenants don't send up their names to midshipmen," replied Mr
Sawbridge; "he shall soon know who I am."

At this reply the waiter walked upstairs, followed by Mr Sawbridge, and
threw open the door.

"A gentleman wishes to see you, sir," said the waiter.

"Desire him to walk in," said Jack: "and, waiter, mind that the punch is
a little better than it was yesterday; I have asked two more gentlemen
to dine here."

In the meantime Mr Sawbridge, who was not in his uniform, had entered,
and perceived Jack alone, with the dinner-table laid out in the best
style for eight, a considerable show of plate for even the Fountain Inn,
and everything, as well as the apartment itself, according to Mr
Sawbridge's opinion, much more fit for a commander-in-chief than a
midshipman of a sloop of war.

Now Mr Sawbridge was a good officer, one who had really worked his way
up to the present rank, that is to say, that he had served
seven-and-twenty years, and had nothing but his pay.  He was a little
soured in the service, and certainly had an aversion to the young men of
family who were now fast crowding into it--and with some grounds, as he
perceived his own chance of promotion decrease in the same ratio as the
numbers increased.  He considered that in proportion as midshipmen
assumed a cleaner and more gentlemanly appearance, so did they become
more useless, and it may therefore be easily imagined that his bile was
raised by this parade and display in a lad, who was very shortly to be,
and ought three weeks before to have been, shrinking from his frown.
Nevertheless, Sawbridge was a good-hearted man, although a little
envious of luxury, which he could not pretend to indulge in himself.

"May I beg to ask," said Jack, who was always remarkably polite and
gentlemanly in his address, "in what manner I may be of service to you?"

"Yes, sir, you may--by joining your ship immediately.  And may I beg to
ask in return, sir, what is the reason you have stayed on shore three
weeks without joining her?"

Hereupon Jack, who did not much admire the peremptory tone of Mr
Sawbridge, and who during the answer had taken a seat, crossed his legs
and played with the gold chain to which his watch was secured, after a
pause very coolly replied:

"And pray, who are you?"

"Who am I, sir?" replied Sawbridge, jumping out of his chair--"my name
is Sawbridge, sir, and I am the first-lieutenant of the _Harpy_.  Now,
sir, you have your answer."

Mr Sawbridge, who imagined that the name of the first-lieutenant would
strike terror to a culprit midshipman, threw himself back in the chair,
and assumed an air of importance.

"Really, sir," replied Jack, "what may be your exact situation on board,
my ignorance of the service will not allow me to guess, but if I may
judge from your behaviour, you have no small opinion of yourself."

"Look ye, young man, you may not know what a first-lieutenant is, and I
take it for granted that you do not, by your behaviour; but depend upon
it, I'll let you know very soon.  In the meantime, sir, I insist upon
it, that you go immediately on board."

"I'm sorry that I cannot comply with your very moderate request,"
replied Jack coolly.  "I shall go on board when it suits my convenience,
and I beg that you will give yourself no further trouble on my account."

Jack then rang the bell; the waiter, who had been listening outside,
immediately entered, and before Mr Sawbridge, who was dumb with
astonishment at Jack's impertinence, could have time to reply:

"Waiter," said Jack, "show this gentleman downstairs."

"By the god of war!" exclaimed the first-lieutenant, "but I'll soon show
you down to the boat, my young bantam; and when once I get you safe on
board, I'll make you know the difference between a midshipman and a
first-lieutenant."

"I can only admit of _equality_, sir," replied Jack; "we are all born
equal--I trust you'll allow that."

"Equality--damn it, I suppose you'll take the command of the ship.
However, sir, your ignorance will be a little enlightened by-and-by.  I
shall now go and report your conduct to Captain Wilson; and I tell you
plainly, that if you are not on board this evening, to-morrow morning,
at daylight, I shall send a sergeant, and a file of marines, to fetch
you."

"You may depend upon it, sir," replied Jack, "that I also shall not fail
to mention to Captain Wilson that I consider you a very quarrelsome,
impertinent fellow, and recommend him not to allow you to remain on
board.  It will be quite uncomfortable to be in the same ship with such
an ungentlemanly bear."

"He must be mad--quite mad," exclaimed Sawbridge, whose astonishment
even mastered his indignation.  "Mad as a March hare--by God."

"No, sir," replied Jack, "I am not mad, but I am a philosopher."

"A _what_?" exclaimed Sawbridge, "damme, what next?--well, my joker, all
the better for you; I shall put your philosophy to the proof."

"It is for that very reason, sir," replied Jack, "that I have decided
upon going to sea: and if you do remain on board, I hope to argue the
point with you, and make you a convert to the truth of equality and the
rights of man."

"By the Lord that made us both, I'll soon make you a convert to the
thirty-six articles of war--that is, if you remain on board; but I shall
now go to the captain, and report your conduct, sir, and leave you to
your dinner with what appetite you may."

"Sir, I am infinitely obliged to you; but you need not be afraid of my
appetite; I am only sorry, as you happen to belong to the same ship,
that I cannot, in justice to the gentlemanly young men whom I expect,
ask you to join them.  I wish you a very good morning, sir."

"Twenty years have I been in the service," roared Sawbridge, "and,
damme,--but he's mad--downright, stark, staring mad."  And the
first-lieutenant bounced out of the room.

Jack was a little astonished himself.  Had Mr Sawbridge made his
appearance in uniform it might have been different, but that a
plain-looking man, with black whiskers, shaggy hair, and old blue
frock-coat and yellow casimere waistcoat, should venture to address him
in such a manner, was quite incomprehensible;--he calls me mad, thought
Jack, I shall tell Captain Wilson what is my opinion about his
lieutenant.  Shortly afterwards, the company arrived, and Jack soon
forgot all about it.

In the meantime, Sawbridge called at the captain's lodgings, and found
him at home: he made a very faithful report of all that had happened,
and concluded his requests by demanding, in great wrath, either an
instant dismissal or a court-martial on our hero, Jack.

"Stop, Sawbridge," replied Captain Wilson, "take a chair.  As Mr Easy
says, we must argue the point, and then I will leave it to your better
feelings.  As for the court-martial, it will not hold good, for Mr
Easy, in the first place, has not yet joined the ship, and in the next
place, could not be supposed to know that you were the first-lieutenant,
or even an officer, for you went to him out of uniform."

"Very true, sir," replied Sawbridge, "I had forgotten that."

"Then, as for his dismissal, or rather, not allowing him to join, Mr
Easy has been brought up in the country, and has never seen anything
aquatic larger than a fish-pond, perhaps, in his life; and as for the
service, or the nature of it, I believe he is as ignorant of it as a
child not a year old--I doubt whether he knows the rank of a lieutenant;
certainly, he can have no idea of the power of a first-lieutenant, by
his treatment of you."

"I should think not," replied Sawbridge dryly.

"I do not think, therefore, that conduct which must have proceeded from
sheer ignorance, should be so severely punished--I appeal to you,
Sawbridge."

"Well, sir, perhaps you are right--but still he told me he was a
philosopher, and talked about equality and rights of man.  Told me that
he could only admit of equality between us, and begged to argue the
point.  Now, sir, if a midshipman is to argue the point every time that
an order is given, the service will come to a pretty pass."

"That is all very true, Sawbridge; and now you remind me of what never
occurred to me at the time that I promised to take Mr Easy in the ship.
I now recollect that his father, who is a distant relation of mine, has
some very wild notions in his head, just like what have been repeated by
his son on your interview with him.  I have occasionally dined there,
and Mr Easy has always been upholding the principles of natural
equality and of the rights of man, much to the amusement of his guests,
and I confess, at the time, of mine also.  I recollect telling him that
I trusted he would never be able to disseminate his opinions in the
service to which I belonged, as we should have an end of all discipline.
I little thought, at the time, that his only son, who has no more
occasion to go to sea than the Archbishop of Canterbury, for his father
has a very handsome property--I believe seven or eight thousand a year--
would ever have sailed with me, and have brought these opinions with him
into any ship that I commanded.  It is a pity, a great pity--"

"He never could have brought his pigs to a worse market," observed
Sawbridge.

"I agree with you, and, as a father myself, I cannot but help feeling
how careful we should be how we inculcate anything like abstract and
philosophical idea to youth.  Allowing them to be in themselves correct,
still they are dangerous as sharp instruments are in the hands of a
child; allowing them to be erroneous, they are seized upon with an
avidity by young and ardent minds, and are not to be eradicated without
the greatest difficulty, and very often not until they have accomplished
their ruin."

"Then you think, sir, that these ideas have taken deep root in this
young man, and we shall not easily rid him of them."

"I do not say so; but still, recollect they have been instilled,
perhaps, from the earliest period, by one from whom they must have been
received with all confidence--from a father to a son; and that son has
never yet been sufficiently in the world to have proved their fallacy."

"Well sir," replied Sawbridge, "if I may venture to offer an opinion on
the subject, and in so doing I assure you that I only shall from a
feeling for the service--if, as you say, these opinions will not easily
be eradicated, as the young man is independent, would it not be both
better for himself, as well as for the service, that he is sent home
again?  As an officer he will never do any good for himself, and he may
do much harm to others.  I submit this to you, Captain Wilson, with all
respect; but as your first-lieutenant, I feel very jealous at any chance
of the discipline of the ship being interfered with by the introduction
of this young man, to whom it appears that a profession is no object."

"My dear Sawbridge," replied Captain Wilson, after taking one or two
turns up and down the room, "we entered the service together, we were
messmates for many years, and you must be aware that it is not only long
friendship but an intimate knowledge of your unrewarded merit, which has
induced me to request you to come with me as my first-lieutenant.  Now,
I will put a case to you, and you shall then decide the question--and,
moreover, I will abide by your decision.

"Suppose that you were a commander like myself, with a wife and seven
children, and that, struggling for many years to support them, you found
yourself, notwithstanding the utmost parsimony, gradually running into
debt.  That, after many long applications, you had at last succeeded in
obtaining employment by an appointment to a fine sloop, and there was
every prospect, by prize-money and increased pay, of recovering yourself
from your difficulties, if not realising a sufficient provision for your
family.  Then suppose that all this prospect and all these hopes were
likely to be dashed to the ground by the fact of having no means of
fitting yourself out, no credit, no means of paying debts you have
contracted, for which you would have been arrested, or anything
sufficient to leave for the support of your family during your absence,
your agent only consenting to advance one-half of what you require.
Now, suppose, in this awkward dilemma, without any one in this world
upon whom you have any legitimate claim, as a last resource you were to
apply to one with whom you have but a distant connection, and but an
occasional acquaintance--and that when you had made your request for the
loan of two or three hundred pounds, fully anticipating a refusal (from
the feeling that he who goes a-borrowing goes a-sorrowing)--I say,
suppose, to your astonishment, that this generous person was to present
you with a cheque on his banker for one thousand pounds, demanding no
interest, no legal security, and requests you only to pay it at your
convenience--I ask you, Sawbridge, what would be your feelings towards
such a man?"

"I would die for him," replied Sawbridge, with emotion.

"And suppose that, by the merest chance, or from a whim of the moment,
the son of that man was to be placed under your protection?"

"I would be a father to him," replied Sawbridge.

"But we must proceed a little further: suppose that you were to find the
lad was not all that you could wish--that he had imbibed erroneous
doctrines, which would probably, if not eradicated, be attended with
consequences fatal to his welfare and happiness, would you therefore, on
that account, withdraw your protection, and leave him to the mercy of
others, who had no claims of gratitude to sway them in his favour?"

"Most certainly not, sir," replied Sawbridge; "on the contrary, I would
never part with the son until, by precept or otherwise, I had set him
right again, and thus had, as far as it was possible, paid the debt of
gratitude due to the generous father."

"I hardly need say to you, Sawbridge, after what has passed, that this
lad you have just come from, is the son, and that Mr Easy of Forest
Hill is the father."

"Then, sir, I can only say, that not only to please you, but also from
respect to a man who has shown such goodwill towards one of our cloth, I
shall most cheerfully forgive all that has passed between the lad and
me, and all that may probably take place before we make him what he
ought to be."

"Thank you, Sawbridge; I expected as much, and am not disappointed in my
opinion of you."

"And now, Captain Wilson, pray what is to be done?"

"We must get him on board, but not with a file of marines--that will do
more harm than good.  I will send a note, requesting him to breakfast
with me to-morrow morning, and have a little conversation with him.  I
do not wish to frighten him: he would not scruple to run back to Forest
Hill--now I wish to keep him if I possibly can."

"You are right, sir; his father appears his greatest enemy.  What a pity
that a man with so good a heart should be so weak in the head!  Then,
sir, I shall take no notice of this at present, but leave the whole
affair in your hands."

"Do, Sawbridge; you have obliged me very much by your kindness in this
business."

Mr Sawbridge then took his leave, and Captain Wilson despatched a note
to our hero, requesting the pleasure of his company to breakfast at nine
o'clock the ensuing morning.  The answer was in the affirmative, but
verbal, for Jack had drunk too much champagne to trust his pen to paper.



CHAPTER NINE.

IN WHICH MR. EASY FINDS HIMSELF ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE BAY OF BISCAY.

The next morning Jack Easy would have forgotten all about his engagement
with the captain, had it not been for the waiter, who thought that,
after the reception which our hero had given the first-lieutenant, it
would be just as well that he should not be disrespectful to the
captain.  Now Jack had not, hitherto, put on his uniform, and he thought
this a fitting occasion, particularly as the waiter suggested the
propriety of his appearance in it.  Whether it was from a presentiment
of what he was to suffer, Jack was not at all pleased, as most lads are,
with the change in his dress.  It appeared to him that he was
sacrificing his independence however, he did not follow his first
impulse, which was to take it off again, but took his hat, which the
waiter had brushed and handed to him, and then set off for the captain's
lodgings.  Captain Wilson received him as if he had not been aware of
his delay in joining his ship, or his interview with his
first-lieutenant, but before breakfast was over, Jack himself narrated
the affair in a few words.  Captain Wilson then entered into a detail of
the duties and rank of every person on board of the ship, pointing out
to Jack that where discipline was required, it was impossible, when duty
was carried on, that more than one could command; and that that one was
the captain, who represented the king in person, who represented the
country; and that, as the orders were transmitted from the captain
through the lieutenant, and from the lieutenant to the midshipmen, who,
in their turn, communicated them to the whole ship's company, in fact,
was the captain alone who gave the orders, and that every one was
_equally_ obliged to obey.  Indeed, as the captain himself had to obey
the orders of his superiors, the admiral and the admiralty, _all_ on
board might be said to be _equally_ obliged to obey.  Captain Wilson
laid a strong emphasis on the word _equally_, as he cautiously
administered his first dose; indeed, in the whole of his address, he
made use of special pleading, which would have done credit to the Bar;
for at the same time that he was explaining to Jack that he was entering
a service in which _equality_ could never for a moment exist, if the
service was to exist, he contrived to show that all the grades were
levelled, by all being equally bound to do their duty to their country,
and that, in fact, whether a seaman obeyed _his_ orders, or he obeyed
the orders of _his_ superior officer, they were in reality only obeying
the orders of the country, which were administered through their
channels.

Jack did not altogether dislike this view of the subject, and the
captain took care not to dwell too long upon it.  He then entered upon
other details, which he was aware would be more agreeable to Jack.  He
pointed out that the articles of war were the rules by which the service
was to be guided, and that everybody, from the captain to the least boy
in the ship, was _equally_ bound to adhere to them--that a certain
allowance of provisions and wine was allowed to each person on board,
and that this allowance was the same to all; the same to the captain as
to the boy: the same in quantity as in quality; every one _equally_
entitled to his allowance;--that, although there were, of necessity,
various grades necessary in the service, and the captain's orders were
obliged to be passed and obeyed by all, yet still, whatever was the
grade of the officer, they were _equally_ considered as gentlemen.  In
short, Captain Wilson, who told the truth, and nothing but the truth,
without telling the whole truth, actually made Jack fancy that he had at
last found out that equality he had been seeking for in vain on shore,
when, at last, he recollected the language used by Mr Sawbridge the
evening before, and asked the captain why that personage had so
conducted himself.  Now, as the language of Mr Sawbridge was very much
at variance with equality, Captain Wilson was not a little puzzled.
However, he first pointed out that the first-lieutenant was, at the time
being, the captain, as he was the senior officer on board, as would Jack
himself be if he were the senior officer on board; and that, as he
before observed, the captain or senior officer represented the country.
That in the articles of war, everybody who absented himself from the
ship, committed an error, or breach of those articles; and if any error
or breach of those articles was committed by any one belonging to the
ship, if the senior officer did not take notice of it, he then himself
committed a breach of those articles, and was liable himself to be
punished, if he could not prove that he had noticed it; it was therefore
to save himself that he was obliged to point out the error; and if he
did it in strong language, it only proved his _zeal_ for his country.

"Upon my honour, then," replied Jack, "there can be no doubt of his
zeal; for if the whole country had been at stake, he could not have put
himself in a greater passion."

"Then he did his duty; but depend upon it it was not a pleasant one to
him: and I'll answer for it, when you meet him on board, he will be as
friendly with you as if nothing had happened."

"He told me that he'd soon make me know what a first-lieutenant was:
what did he mean by that?" inquired Jack.

"All zeal."

"Yes, but he said, that as soon as he got on board, he'd show me the
difference between a first-lieutenant and a midshipman."

"All zeal."

"He said my ignorance should be a little enlightened by-and-by."

"All zeal."

"And that he'd send a sergeant and marines to fetch me."

"All zeal."

"That he would put my philosophy to the proof."

"All zeal, Mr Easy.  Zeal will break out in this way; but we should do
nothing in the service without it.  Recollect that I hope and trust one
day to see you also a zealous officer."

Here Jack cogitated considerably, and gave no answer.

"You will, I am sure," continued Captain Wilson, "find Mr Sawbridge one
of your best friends."

"Perhaps so," replied Jack: "but I did not much admire our first
acquaintance."

"It will perhaps be your unpleasant duty to find as much fault yourself;
we are all equally bound to do our duty to our country.  But, Mr Easy,
I sent for you to say that we shall sail to-morrow: and, as I shall send
my things off this afternoon by the launch, you had better send yours
off also.  At eight o'clock I shall go on board, and we can both go in
the same boat."

To this Jack made no sort of objection, and having paid his bill at the
Fountain, he sent his chest down to the boat by some of the crew who
came up for it, and attended the summons of the captain to embark.  By
nine o'clock that evening, Mr Jack Easy was safe on board his Majesty's
sloop _Harpy_.

When Jack arrived on board, it was dark, and he did not know what to do
with himself.  The captain was received by the officers on deck, who
took off their hats to salute him.  The captain returned the salute, and
so did Jack very politely, after which the captain entered into
conversation with the first-lieutenant, and for a while Jack was left to
himself.  It was too dark to distinguish faces, and to one who had never
been on board of a ship, too dark to move, so Jack stood where he was,
which was not far from the main bitts; but he did not stay long; the
boat had been hooked on to the quarter davits, and the boatswain had
called out:

"Set taut, my lads!"

And then with the shrill whistle, and "Away with her!" forward came
galloping and bounding along the men with the tackles; and in the dark
Jack was upset, and half a dozen marines fell upon him; the men, who had
no idea that an officer was floored among the others, were pleased at
the joke, and continued to dance over those who were down, until they
rolled themselves out of the way.  Jack, who did not understand this,
fared badly, and it was not till the calls piped belay, that he could
recover his legs, after having been trampled upon by half the starboard
watch, and the breath completely jammed out of his body.  Jack reeled to
a carronade slide, when the officers, who had been laughing at the lark
as well as the men, perceived his situation--among others, Mr
Sawbridge, the first-lieutenant.

"Are you hurt, Mr Easy?" said he kindly.

"A little," replied Jack, catching his breath.

"You've had but a rough welcome," replied the first-lieutenant, "but at
certain times, on board ship, it is every man for himself, and God for
us all.  Harpur," continued the first-lieutenant to the doctor, "take
Mr Easy down in the gun-room with you, and I will be down myself as
soon as I can.  Where is Mr Jolliffe?"

"Here, sir," replied Mr Jolliffe, a master's mate, coming aft from the
booms.

"There is a youngster come on board with the captain.  Order one of the
quartermasters to get a hammock slung."

In the meantime Jack went down into the gun-room, where a glass of wine
somewhat recovered him.  He did not stay there long, nor did he venture
to talk much.  As soon as his hammock was ready, Jack was glad to go to
bed--and as he was much bruised he was not disturbed the next morning
till past nine o'clock.  He then dressed himself, went on deck, found
that the sloop was just clear of the Needles, that he felt very queer,
then very sick, and was conducted by a marine down below, put into his
hammock, where he remained during a gale of wind of three days,
bewildered, confused, puzzled, and every minute knocking his head
against the beams with the pitching and tossing of the sloop.

"And this is going to sea," thought Jack; "no wonder that no one
interferes with another here, or talks about a trespass; for I'm sure
any one is welcome to my share of the ocean; and if I once get on shore
again, the devil may have my portion if he chooses."

Captain Wilson and Mr Sawbridge had both allowed Jack more leisure than
most midshipmen, during his illness.  By the time that the gale was
over, the sloop was off Cape Finisterre.  The next morning the sea was
nearly down, and there was but a slight breeze on the waters.  The
comparative quiet of the night before had very much recovered our hero,
and when the hammocks were piped up, he was accosted by Mr Jolliffe,
the master's mate, who asked, "whether he intended to rouse and bit, or
whether he intended to sail to Gibraltar between his blankets."

Jack, who felt himself quite another person, turned out of his hammock
and dressed himself.  A marine had, by the captain's orders, attended
Jack during his illness, and this man came to his assistance, opened his
chest, and brought him all that he required, or Jack would have been in
a sad dilemma.

Jack then inquired where he was to go, for he had not yet been in the
midshipmen's berth, although five days on board.  The marine pointed it
out to him, and Jack, who felt excessively hungry, crawled over and
between chests, until he found himself fairly in a hole infinitely
inferior to the dog-kennels which received his father's pointers.

"I'd not only give up the ocean," thought Jack, "and my share of it, but
also my share of the _Harpy_, unto any one who fancies it.  Equality
enough here! for every one appears equally miserably off."

As he thus gave vent to his thoughts, he perceived that there was
another person in the berth--Mr Jolliffe, the master's mate, who had
fixed his eye upon Jack, and to whom Jack returned the compliment.  The
first thing that Jack observed was, that Mr Jolliffe was very deeply
pockmarked, and that he had but one eye, and that was a piercer; it
appeared like a little ball of fire, and as if it reflected more light
from the solitary candle than the candle gave.

"I don't like your looks," thought Jack--"we shall never be friends."

But here Jack fell into the common error of judging by appearances, as
will be proved hereafter.

"I'm glad to see you up again, youngster," said Jolliffe; "you've been
on your beam ends longer than usual, but those who are strongest suffer
most--you made your mind up but late to come to sea.  However, they say,
`Better late than never.'"

"I feel very much inclined to argue the truth of that saying," replied
Jack; "but it's no use just now.  I'm terribly hungry--when shall I get
some breakfast?"

"To-morrow morning at half-past eight," replied Mr Jolliffe.
"Breakfast for to-day has been over these two hours."

"But must I then go without?"

"No, I do not say that, as we must make allowances for your illness; but
it will not be breakfast."

"Call it what you please," replied Jack.  "Only pray desire the servants
to give me something to eat.  Dry toast or muffins--anything will do,
but I should prefer coffee."

"You forget that you are off Finisterre, in a midshipman's berth: coffee
we have none--muffins we never see--dry toast cannot be made, as we have
no soft bread; but a cup of tea, and ship's biscuit and butter, I can
desire the steward to get ready for you."

"Well then," replied Jack, "I will thank you to procure me that."

"Marine," cried Jolliffe, "call Mesty."

"Pass the word for Mesty," cried the marine--and the two syllables were
handed forward until lost in the fore part of the vessel.

The person so named must be introduced to the reader.  He was a curious
anomaly--a black man who had been brought to America as a slave, and
there sold.

He was a very tall, spare-built, yet muscular form, and had a face by no
means common with his race.  His head was long and narrow, high
cheek-bones, from whence his face descended down to almost a point at
the chin; his nose was very small, but it was straight and almost Roman;
his mouth also was unusually small; and his lips thin for an African;
his teeth very white, and filed to sharp points.  He claimed the rank of
prince in his own country, with what truth could not of course be
substantiated.  His master had settled at New York, and there Mesty had
learned English, if it could be so called: the fact is, that all the
emigrant labourers at New York being Irishmen, he had learned English
with the strong brogue and peculiar phraseology of the sister kingdom
dashed with a little Yankeeism.

Having been told that there was no slavery in England, Mesty had
concealed himself on board an English merchant vessel, and escaped.  On
his arrival in England he had entered on board of a man-of-war.  Having
no name, it was necessary to christen him on the ship's books, and the
first lieutenant, who had entered him, struck with his remarkable
expression of countenance, and being a German scholar, had named him
Mephistopheles Faust, from whence his Christian name had been razeed to
Mesty.  Mesty in other points was an eccentric character; at one moment,
when he remembered his lineage, he was proud to excess, at others he was
grave and almost sullen--but when nothing either in daily occurrences or
in his mind ran contrary, he exhibited the drollery so often found in
his nation, with a spice of Irish humour, as if he had caught up the
latter with his Irish brogue.

Mesty was soon seen coming aft, but almost double as he couched under
the beams, and taking large strides with his naked feet.

"By the powers, Massa Yolliffe, but it is not seasonable at all to send
for me just now, anyhow, seeing how the praters are in the copper, and
so many blackguard 'palpeens all ready to change net for net, and better
themselves by the same mistake, `dam um.'"

"Mesty, you know I never send for you myself, or allow others to do so,
unless it is necessary," replied Jolliffe; "but this poor lad has eaten
nothing since he has been on board, and is very hungry--you must get him
a little tea."

"Is it tay you mane, sir?--I guess, to make tay, in the first place I
must ab water, and in the next must ab room in the galley to put the
kettle on--and 'pose you wanted to burn the tip of your little finger
just now, it's not in the galley that you find a berth for it--and den
the water before seven bells.  I've a notion it's just impassible."

"But he must have something, Mesty."

"Never mind the tea, then," replied Jack, "I'll take some milk."

"Is it milk massa manes, and the bumboat woman on the oder side of the
bay?"

"We have no milk, Mr Easy; you forget that we are on blue water,"
replied Jolliffe, "and I really am afraid that you'll have to wait till
dinner-time.  Mesty tells the truth."

"I tell you what, Massa Yolliffe, it just seven bells, and if the young
gentleman would, instead of tay, try a little out of the copper, it
might keep him asy.  It but a little difference, _tay_ soup and _pay_
soup.  Now a bowl of that, with some nuts and a flourish of pepper will
do him good, anyhow."

"Perhaps the best thing he can take, Mesty; get it as fast as you can."

In a few minutes the black brought down a bowl of soup and whole peas
swimming in it, put before our hero a tin bread-basket full of small
biscuit, called midshipmen's nuts, and the pepper-castor.  Jack's
visions of tea, coffee, muffins, dry toast, and milk, vanished as he
perceived the mess; but he was very hungry, and he found it much better
than he expected; and he moreover found himself much the better after he
had swallowed it.  It struck seven bells, and he accompanied Mr
Jolliffe on deck.



CHAPTER TEN.

SHOWING HOW JACK TRANSGRESSES AGAINST HIS OWN PHILOSOPHY.

When Jack Easy had gained the deck, he found the sun shining gaily, a
soft air blowing from the shore, and the whole of the rigging and every
part of the ship loaded with the shirts, trousers, and jackets of the
seamen, which had been wetted during the heavy gale, and were now
hanging up to dry; all the wet sails were also spread on the booms or
triced up in the rigging, and the ship was slowly forging through the
blue water.  The captain and first lieutenant were standing on the
gangway in converse, and the majority of the officers were with their
quadrants and sextants ascertaining the latitude at noon.  The decks
were white and clean, the sweepers had just laid by their brooms, and
the men were busy coiling down the ropes.  It was a scene of
cheerfulness, activity, and order, which lightened his heart after the
four days of suffering, close air, and confinement, from which he had
just emerged.

The captain, who perceived him, beckoned to him, asked him kindly how he
felt: the first lieutenant also smiled upon him, and many of the
officers, as well as his messmates, congratulated him upon his recovery.

The captain's steward came up to him, touched his hat, and requested the
pleasure of his company to dinner in the cabin.  Jack was the essence of
politeness, took off his hat, and accepted the invitation.  Jack was
standing on a rope which a seaman was coiling down; the man touched his
hat and requested he would be so kind as to take his foot off.  Jack
took his hat off his head in return, and his foot off the rope.  The
master touched his hat, and reported twelve o'clock to the first
lieutenant--the first lieutenant touched his hat, and reported twelve
o'clock to the captain--the captain touched his hat, and told the first
lieutenant to make it so.  The officer of the watch touched his hat, and
asked the captain whether they should pipe to dinner--the captain
touched his hat and said, "If you please."

The midshipman received his orders, and touched his hat, which he gave
to the head boatswain's mate, who touched his hat, and then the calls
whistled cheerily.

"Well," thought Jack, "politeness seems to be the order of the day, and
every one has an equal respect for the other."  Jack stayed on deck; he
peeped through the ports, which were open, and looked down into the deep
blue wave; he cast his eyes aloft, and watched the tall spars sweeping
and tracing with their points, as it were, a small portion of the clear
sky, as they acted in obedience to the motion of the vessel; he looked
forward at the range of carronades which lined the sides of the deck,
and then he proceeded to climb one of the carronades, and lean over the
hammocks to gaze on the distant land.

"Young gentleman, get off those hammocks," cried the master, who was
officer of the watch, in a surly tone.

Jack looked round.

"Do you hear me, sir?  I'm speaking to you," said the master again.

Jack felt very indignant, and he thought that politeness was not quite
so general as he supposed.

It happened that Captain Wilson was upon deck.

"Come here, Mr Easy," said the captain; "it is a rule in the service,
that no one gets on the hammocks, unless in case of emergency--I never
do--nor the first lieutenant--nor any of the officers or men--therefore,
upon the principle of equality, you must not do it either."

"Cerainly not, sir," replied Jack, "but still I do not see why that
officer in the shining hat should be so angry, and not speak to me as if
I were a gentleman, as well as himself."

"I have already explained that to you, Mr Easy."

"Oh, yes, I recollect now, it's zeal; but this zeal appears to me to be
the only unpleasant thing in the service.  It's a pity, as you said,
that the service cannot do without it."

Captain Wilson laughed, and walked away; and shortly afterwards, as he
turned up and down the deck with the master, he hinted to him that he
should not speak so sharply to a lad who had committed such a trifling
error through ignorance.  Now Mr Smallsole, the master, who was a surly
sort of a personage, and did not like even a hint of disapprobation of
his conduct, although very regardless of the feeling of others,
determined to pay this off on Jack, the very first convenient
opportunity.  Jack dined in the cabin, and was very much pleased to find
that every one drank wine with him, and that everybody at the captain's
table appeared to be on an equality.  Before the dessert had been on the
table five minutes, Jack became loquacious on his favourite topic; all
the company stared with surprise at such an unheard-of doctrine being
broached on board of a man-of-war; the captain argued the point, so as
to controvert, without too much offending, Jack's notions, laughing the
whole time that the conversation was carried on.

It will be observed, that this day may be considered as the first in
which Jack really made his appearance on board, and it also was on this
first day that Jack made known, at the captain's table, his very
peculiar notions.  If the company at the captain's table, which
consisted of the second lieutenant, purser, Mr Jolliffe, and one of the
midshipmen, were astonished at such heterodox opinions being started in
the presence of the captain, they were equally astonished at the cool,
good-humoured ridicule with which they were received by Captain Wilson.
The report of Jack's boldness, and every word and opinion that he had
uttered (of course much magnified) was cirulated that evening through
the whole ship; it was canvassed in the gun-room by the officers, it was
descanted upon by the midshipmen as they walked the deck; the captain's
steward held a levee abreast of the ship's funnel, in which he narrated
this new doctrine.  The sergeant of marines gave his opinion in his
berth that it was damnable.  The boatswain talked over the matter with
the other warrant officers, till the grog was all gone, and then
dismissed it as too dry a subject: and it was the general opinion of the
ship's company, that as soon as they arrived at Gibraltar Bay, our hero
would bid adieu to the service, either by being sentenced to death by a
court-martial, or by being dismissed, and towed on shore on a grating.
Others, who had more of the wisdom of the serpent, and who had been
informed by Mr Sawbridge that our hero was a lad who would inherit a
large property, argued differently, and considered that Captain Wilson
had very good reason for being so lenient--and among them was the second
lieutenant.  There were but four who were well inclined towards Jack--to
wit, the captain, the first lieutenant, Mr Jolliffe, the one-eyed
master's mate, and Mephistopheles, the black, who, having heard that
Jack had uttered such sentiments, loved him with all his heart and soul.

We have referred to the second lieutenant, Mr Asper.  This young man
had a very high respect for birth, and particularly for money, of which
he had very little.  He was the son of an eminent merchant who, during
the time that he was a midshipman, had allowed him a much larger sum for
his expenses than was necessary or proper; and, during his career, he
found that his full pocket procured him consequence, not only among his
own messmates, but also with many of the officers of the ships that he
sailed in.  A man who is able and willing to pay a large tavern bill
will always find followers--that is, to the tavern; and lieutenants did
not disdain to dine, walk arm in arm, and be "hail fellow well met" with
a midshipman, at whose expense they lived during the time they were on
shore.  Mr Asper had just received his commission and appointment, when
his father became a bankrupt, and the fountain was dried up from which
he had drawn such liberal supplies.  Since that, Mr Asper had felt that
his consequence was gone: he could no longer talk about the service
being a bore, or that he should give it up; he could no longer obtain
that deference paid to his purse, and not to himself; and he had
contracted very expensive habits, without having any longer the means of
gratifying them.  It was therefore no wonder that he imbibed a great
respect for money; and, as he could no longer find the means himself, he
was glad to pick up anybody else at whose cost he could indulge in that
extravagance and expense to which he had been so long accustomed, and
still sighed for.  Now, Mr Asper knew that our hero was well supplied
with money, as he had obtained from the waiter the amount of the bill
paid at the Fountain, and he had been waiting for Jack's appearance on
deck to become his very dearest and most intimate friend.  The
conversation in the cabin made him feel assured that Jack would require
and be grateful for support, and he had taken the opportunity of a walk
with Mr Sawbridge, to offer to take Jack in his watch.  Whether it was
that Mr Sawbridge saw through the design of Mr Asper, or whether he
imagined that our hero would be better pleased with him than with the
master, considering his harshness of deportment; or with himself, who
could not, as first lieutenant, overlook any remission of duty, the
offer was accepted, and Jack Easy was ordered, as he now entered upon
his duties, to keep watch under Lieutenant Asper.

But not only was this the first day that Jack may be said to have
appeared in the service, but it was the first day in which he had
entered the midshipman's berth, and was made acquainted with his
messmates.

We have already mentioned Mr Jolliffe, the master's mate, but we must
introduce him more particularly.  Nature is sometimes extremely
arbitrary, and never did she show herself more so than in insisting that
Mr Jolliffe should have the most sinister expression of countenance
that ever had been looked upon.

He had suffered martyrdom with the small-pox, which probably had
contracted his lineaments: his face was not only deeply pitted, but
scarred, with this cruel disorder.  One eye had been lost, and all
eyebrows had disappeared--and the contrast between the dull, sightless
opaque orb on one side of his face, and the brilliant, piercing little
ball on the other, was almost terrifying.  His nose had been eaten away
by the disease till it formed a sharp but irregular point: part of the
muscles of the chin were contracted, and it was drawn in with unnatural
seams and puckers.  He was tall, gaunt, and thin, seldom smiled, and
when he did, the smile produced a still further distortion.

Mr Jolliffe was the son of a warrant officer.  He did not contract this
disease until he had been sent out to the West Indies, where it swept
away hundreds.  He had now been long in the service, with little or no
chance of promotion.  He had suffered from indigence, from reflections
upon his humble birth, from sarcasms on his appearance.  Every contumely
had been heaped upon him at one time or another, in the ships in which
he served; among a crowd he had found himself desolate--and now,
although no one dared treat him to his face with disrespect, he was only
respected in the service from a knowledge of his utility and exemplary
performance of his duties--he had no friends or even companions.  For
many years he had retired within himself, he had improved by reading and
study, had felt all the philanthropy of a Christian, and extended it
towards others.  Silent and reserved, he seldom spoke in the berth,
unless his authority, as caterer, was called for; all respected Mr
Jolliffe, but no one liked, as a companion, one at whose appearance the
very dogs would bark.  At the same time every one acknowledged his
correct behaviour in every point, his sense of justice, his forbearance,
his kindness, and his good sense.  With him life was indeed a
pilgrimage, and he wended his way in all Christian charity and all
Christian zeal.

In all societies, however small they may be, provided that they do but
amount to half a dozen, you will invariably meet with a bully.  And it
is also generally the case that you will find one of that society who is
more or less the butt.  You will discover this even in occasional
meetings, such as a dinner-party, the major part of which have never met
before.

Previous to the removal of the cloth, the bully will have shown himself
by his dictatorial manner, and will also have selected the one upon whom
he imagines that he can best practise.  In a midshipman's berth this
fact has become almost proverbial, although now perhaps it is not
attended with that disagreeable despotism which was permitted at the
time that our hero entered the service.

The bully of the midshipman's berth of H.M. sloop _Harpy_ was a young
man about seventeen, with light, curly hair, and florid countenance, the
son of the clerk in the dockyard at Plymouth, and his name was Vigors.

The butt was a pudding-face Tartar-physiognomied boy of fifteen, whose
intellects, with fostering, if not great, might at least have been
respectable, had he not lost all confidence in his own powers from the
constant jeers and mockeries of those who had a greater fluency of
speech without perhaps so much real power of mind.  Although slow, what
he learned he invariably retained.  This lad's name was Gossett.  His
father was a wealthy yeoman of Lynn, in Norfolk.  There were at the time
but three other midshipmen in the ship, of whom it can only be said that
they were like midshipmen in general, with little appetite for learning,
but good appetites for dinner, hating everything like work, fond of
everything like fun, fighting _a l'outrance_ one minute, and sworn
friends the next--with general principles of honour and justice, but
which were occasionally warped according to circumstances; with all the
virtues and vices so heterogeneously jumbled and heaped together, that
it was almost impossible to ascribe any action to its true motive, and
to ascertain to what point their vice was softened down into almost a
virtue, and their virtues from mere excess degenerated into vice.  Their
names were O'Connor, Mills, and Gascoigne.  The other shipmates of our
hero it will be better to introduce as they appear on the stage.

After Jack had dined in the cabin he followed his messmates Jolliffe and
Gascoigne down into the midshipmen's berth.

"I say, Easy," observed Gascoigne, "you are a devilish free and easy
sort of a fellow, to tell the captain that you considered yourself as
great a man as he was."

"I beg your pardon," replied Jack, "I did not argue individually, but
generally, upon the principles of the rights of man."

"Well," replied Gascoigne, "it's the first time I ever heard a middy do
such a bold thing; take care your rights of man don't get you in the
wrong box--there's no arguing on board of a man-of-war.  The captain
took it amazingly easy, but you'd better not broach that subject too
often."

"Gascoigne gives you very good advice, Mr Easy," observed Jolliffe;
"allowing that your ideas are correct, which it appears to me they are
not, or at least impossible to be acted upon, there is such a thing as
prudence, and however much this question may be canvassed on shore, in
his Majesty's service it is not only dangerous in itself, but will be
very prejudicial to you."

"Man is a free agent," replied Easy.

"I'll be shot if a midshipman is," replied Gascoigne, laughing, "and
that you'll soon find."

"And yet it was the expectation of finding that equality that I was
induced to come to sea."

"On the first of April, I presume," replied Gascoigne.  "But are you
really serious?"

Hereupon Jack entered into a long argument, to which Jolliffe and
Gascoigne listened without interruption, and Mesty with admiration: at
the end of it, Gascoigne laughed heartily and Jolliffe sighed.

"From whence did you learn all this?" inquired Jolliffe.

"From my father, who is a great philosopher, and has constantly upheld
these opinions."

"And did your father wish you to go to sea?"

"No, he was opposed to it," replied Jack, "but of course he could not
combat my rights and free-will."

"Mr Easy, as a friend," replied Jolliffe, "I request that you would as
much as possible keep your opinions to yourself: I shall have an
opportunity of talking to you on the subject, and will then explain to
you my reasons."

As soon as Mr Jolliffe had ceased, down came Mr Vigors and O'Connor,
who had heard the news of Jack's heresy.

"You do not know Mr Vigors and Mr O'Connor," said Jolliffe to Easy.

Jack, who was the essence of politeness, rose and bowed, at which the
others took their seats, without returning the salutation.  Vigors had,
from what he had heard and now seen of Easy, thought he had somebody
else to play upon, and without ceremony he commenced.

"So, my chap, you are come on board to raise a mutiny here with your
equality--you came off scot free at the captain's table; but it won't
do, I can tell you, even in the midshipman's berth some must knock
under, and you are one of them."

"If, sir," replied Easy, "you mean by knock under, that I must submit, I
can assure you that you are mistaken.  Upon the same principle that I
would never play the tyrant to those weaker than myself, so will I
resent oppression if attempted."

"Damme, but he's a regular sea lawyer already: however, my boy, we'll
soon put your mettle to the proof."

"Am I then to infer that I am not on an equality with my messmates?"
replied Jack, looking at Jolliffe.  The latter was about to answer him,
but Vigors interrupted.

"Yes, you are on an equality as far as this--that you have an equal
right to the berth, if you are not knocked out of it for insolence to
your masters; that you have an equal share to pay for the things
purchased for the mess, and an equal right to have your share, provided
you can get it; you have an equal right to talk, provided you are not
told to hold your tongue.  The fact is, you have an equal right with
every one else to do as you can, get what you can, and say what you can,
always provided that you can do it; for here the weakest goes to the
wall, and that is midshipmen's berth equality.  Now, do you understand
all that; or will you wait for a practical illustration?"

"I am then to infer that the equality here is as much destroyed as it
even will be among savages, where the strong oppress the weak, and the
only law is club law--in fact, much the same as it is at a public or
large school on shore?"

"I suspect you are right for once.  You were at a public school: how did
they treat you there?"

"As you propose treating people here--`the weakest went to the wall.'"

"Well, then, a nod's as good as a wink to a blind horse, that's all, my
hearty," said Vigors.

But the hands being turned up, "Shorten sail" put an end to the
altercation for the present.

As our hero had not yet received orders to go to his duty, he remained
below with Mesty.

"By de powers, Massa Easy, but I lub you with my hole soul," said Mesty.
"By Jasus, you really tark fine, Massa Easy; dat Mr Vigor--nebber care
for him, wouldn't you lik him--and sure you would," continued the black,
feeling the muscle of Jack's arm.  "By the soul of my fader, I'd bet my
week's allowance on you anyhow.  Nebber be 'fraid, Massa Easy."

"I am not afraid," replied Jack; "I've thrashed bigger fellows than he;"
and Jack's assertion was true.  Mr Bonnycastle never interfered in a
fair fight, and took no notice of black eyes, provided the lessons were
well said.  Jack had fought and fought again, until he was a very good
bruiser, and although not so tall as Vigors, he was much better built
for fighting.  A knowing Westminster boy would have bet his half-crown
upon Jack, had he seen him and his anticipated adversary.

The constant battles which Jack was obliged to fight at school had been
brought forward by Jack against his father's arguments in favour of
equality, but they had been overruled by Mr Easy's pointing out that
the combats of _boys_ had nothing to do with the rights of man.

As soon as the watch was called, Vigors, O'Connor, Gossett, and
Gascoigne, came down from the berth.  Vigors, who was strongest in the
berth, except Jolliffe, had successively had his superiority
acknowledged, and, when on deck, he had talked of Easy's impertinence,
and his intention of bringing him to his senses.  The others, therefore,
came down to see the fun.

"Well, Mr Easy," observed Vigors, as he came into the berth, "you take
after your name, at all events; I suppose you intend to eat the king's
provision, and do nothing."

Jack's mettle was already up.

"You will oblige me, sir, by minding your own business," replied Jack.

"You impudent blackguard, if you say another word I'll give you a good
thrashing, and knock some of your equality out of you."

"Indeed," replied Jack, who almost fancied himself back at Mr
Bonnycastle's; "we'll try that."

Whereupon Jack very coolly divested himself of his upper garments,
neckerchief, and shirt, much to the surprise of Mr Vigors, who little
contemplated such a proof of decision and confidence, and still more to
the delight of the other midshipmen, who would have forfeited a week's
allowance to see Vigors well thrashed.  Vigors, however, knew that he
had gone too far to retreat; he therefore prepared for action; and, when
ready, the whole party went out into the steerage to settle the
business.

Vigors had gained his assumed authority more by bullying than fighting;
others had submitted to him without a sufficient trial; Jack, on the
contrary, had won his way up in school by hard and scientific combat:
the result, therefore, may easily be imagined.  In less than a quarter
of an hour Vigors, beaten dead, with his eyes closed, and three teeth
out, gave in; while Jack, after a basin of water, looked as fresh as
ever, with the exception of a few trifling scratches.

The news of this victory was soon through the ship; and before Jack had
resumed his clothes, it had been told confidentially by Sawbridge to the
captain.

"So soon!" said Captain Wilson, laughing; "I expected that a
midshipman's berth would do wonders; but I did not expect this, yet
awhile.  This victory is the first severe blow to Mr Easy's equality,
and will be more valuable than twenty defeats.  Let him now go to his
duty: he will soon find his level."



CHAPTER ELEVEN.

IN WHICH OUR HERO PROVES THAT ALL ON BOARD SHOULD EQUALLY SACRIFICE
DECENCY TO DUTY.

The success of any young man in a profession very much depends upon the
occurrences at the commencement of his career, as from those is his
character judged, and he is treated accordingly.  Jack had chosen to
enter the Service at a much later period than most lads; he was tall and
manly for his age, and his countenance, if not strictly handsome, wore
that expression of honesty and boldness which is sure to please.  His
spirit in not submitting to, and meeting Vigors when he had hardly
recovered from his severe prostration of sea-sickness, had gained him
with the many respect, and with all, except his antagonist and Mr
Smallsole, goodwill.  Instead of being laughed at by his messmates, he
was played with; for Jolliffe smiled at his absurdities, and attempted
to reason him out of them, and the others liked Jack for himself and his
generosity, and, more over, because they looked up to him as a protector
against Vigors, who had persecuted them all; for Jack had declared, that
as might was right in a midshipman's berth, he would so far restore
equality, that if he could not put down those who were the strongest, at
all events he would protect the weak, and, let who would come into the
berth, they must be his master before they should tyrannise over those
weaker than he.

Thus did Jack Easy make the best use that he could of his strength, and
become, as it were, the champion and security of those who, although
much longer at sea and more experienced than he was, were glad to
shelter themselves under his courage and skill, the latter of which had
excited the admiration of the butcher of the ship, who had been a
pugilist by profession.  Thus did Jack at once take the rank of an
oldster, and soon became the leader of all the mischief.  We
particularly observe this, because, had it so happened that our hero had
succumbed to Vigors, the case would have been the very reverse.  He then
would have had to go through the ordeal to which most who enter the
naval service are exposed, which cannot be better explained than by
comparing it to the fagging carried to such an iniquitous extent in
public schools.

Mr Asper, for his own reasons, made him his companion: they walked the
night-watch together, and he listened to all Jack's nonsense about the
rights of man.  And here Mr Asper did good without intending it, for,
at the same time that he appeared to agree with Jack, to secure his
favour, he cautioned him, and pointed out why this equality could not
exist altogether on board of a man-of-war.

As for himself, he said, he saw no difference between a lieutenant, or
even a captain, and a midshipman, provided they were gentlemen: he
should choose his friends where he liked, and despised that power of
annoyance which the service permitted.  Of course, Jack and Mr Asper
were good friends, especially as, when half the watch was over, to
conciliate his good will and to get rid of his eternal arguing, Mr
Asper would send Jack down to bed.

They were now entering the Straits, and expected to anchor the next day
at Gibraltar, and Jack was forward on the forecastle, talking with
Mesty, with whom he had contracted a great friendship, for there was
nothing that Mesty would not have done for Jack, although he had not
been three weeks in the ship; but a little reflection will show that it
was natural.

Mesty had been a great man in his own country; he had suffered all the
horrors of a passage in a slave ship; he had been sold as a slave twice;
he had escaped--but he found that the universal feeling was strong
against his colour, and that on board of a man-of-war he was condemned,
although free, to the humblest of offices.

He had never heard any one utter the sentiments, which _now_ beat in his
own heart, of liberty and equality--we say _now_, for when he was in his
own country before his captivity, he had no ideas of equality; no one
has who is in power: but he had been schooled; and although people
talked of liberty and equality at New York, he found that what they
preached for themselves, they did not practise towards others, and that,
in the midst of liberty and equality, he and thousands more were
enslaved and degraded beings.

Escaping to England, he had regained his liberty, but not his equality;
his colour had prevented the latter, and in that feeling all the world
appeared to conspire together against him, until, to his astonishment,
he heard those sentiments boldly expressed from the lips of Jack, and
that in a service where it was almost tantamount to mutiny.  Mesty,
whose character is not yet developed, immediately took a fondness for
our hero, and in a hundred ways showed his attachment.  Jack also liked
Mesty, and was fond of talking with him, and every evening, since the
combat with Vigors, they had generally met in the forecastle to discuss
the principles of equality and the rights of man.

The boatswain, whose name was Biggs, was a slight, dapper, active little
man, who, as captain of the foretop, had shown an uncommon degree of
courage in a hurricane, so much so, as to recommend him to the admiral
for promotion.  It was given to him; and after the ship to which he had
been appointed was paid off, he had been ordered to join H.M. sloop
_Harpy_.  Jack's conversation with Mesty was interrupted by the voice of
the boatswain, who was haranguing his boy.  "It's now ten minutes, sir,
by my repeater," said the boatswain, "that I have sent for you;" and Mr
Biggs pulled out a huge silver watch, almost as big as a Norfolk turnip.
A Jew had sold him the watch; the boatswain had heard of repeaters, and
wished to have one.  Moses had only shown him watches with the hour and
minute hands; he now produced one with a second hand, telling him it was
a repeater.

"What makes it a repeater?" inquired the boatswain.

"Common watches," said the cunning Jew, "only tell the minutes and the
hours; but all repeaters tell the seconds."

The boatswain was satisfied--bought the watch, and, although many had
told him it was no repeater, he insisted that it _was_, and would call
it so.

"I swear," continued the boatswain, "it's ten minutes and twenty seconds
by my repeater."

"If you please, sir," said the boy, "I was changing my trousers when you
sent for me, and then I had to stow away my bag again."

"Silence, sir; I'd have you to know that when you are sent for by your
officer, trousers or no trousers, it is your duty to come up directly."

"Without trousers, sir!" replied the boy.

"Yes, sir, without trousers; if the captain required me, I should come
without my shirt.  Duty before decency."  So saying, the boatswain lays
hold of the boy.

"Surely, Mr Biggs," said Jack, "you are not going to punish that boy
for not coming up without his trousers!"

"Yes, Mr Easy, I am--I must teach him a lesson.  We are bound, now that
newfangled ideas are brought into the ship, to uphold the dignity of the
service; and the orders of an officer are not to be delayed ten minutes
and twenty seconds because a boy has no trousers on."  Whereupon the
boatswain administered several smart cuts with his rattan upon the boy,
proving that it was quite as well that he had put on his trousers before
he came on deck.  "There," said Mr Biggs, "is a lesson for you, you
scamp--and, Mr Easy, it is a lesson for you also," continued the
boatswain, walking away with a most consequential air.

"Murder Irish!" said Mesty--"how him cut caper.  De oder day he hawl out
de weather ear-ring, and touch him hat to a midshipman.  Sure enough,
make um cat laugh."

The next day, the _Harpy_ was at anchor in Gibraltar Bay; the captain
went on shore, directing the gig to be sent for him before nine o'clock;
after which hour the sally-port is only opened by special permission.
There happened to be a ball given by the officers of the garrison on
that evening, and a polite invitation was sent to the officers of H.M.
sloop _Harpy_.  As those who accepted the invitation would be detained
late, it was not possible for them to come off that night.  And as their
services were required for the next day, Captain Wilson allowed them to
remain on shore until seven o'clock the next morning, at which hour, as
there was a large party, there would be two boats sent for them.

Mr Asper obtained leave, and asked permission to take our hero with
him; to which Mr Sawbridge consented.  Many other officers obtained
leave, and, among others, the boatswain, who, aware that his services
would be in request as soon as the equipment commenced, asked permission
for this evening.  And Mr Sawbridge, feeling that he could be better
spared at this than at any other time, consented.  Asper and Jack went
to an inn, dined, bespoke beds, and then dressed themselves for the
ball, which was very brilliant, and, from the company of the officers,
very pleasant.  Captain Wilson looked on at the commencement, and then
returned on board.  Jack behaved with his usual politeness, danced till
two o'clock, and then, as the ball thinned, Asper proposed that they
should retire.  Having once more applied to the refreshment-room, they
had procured their hats, and were about to depart, when one of the
officers of the garrison asked Jack if he would like to see a baboon,
which had just been brought down from the rock; and, taking some of the
cakes, they repaired to the court where the animal was chained down to a
small tank.  Jack fed the brute till all the cakes were gone, and then,
because he had no more to give him, the baboon flew at Jack, who, in
making his retreat, fell back into the tank, which was about two feet
deep.  This was a joke; and having laughed heartily, they wished the
officer good-night, and went to the inn.

Now, what with the number of officers of the _Harpy_ on shore, who had
all put up at the same inn, and other occupants, the landlord was
obliged to put his company into double and treble bedded rooms; but this
was of little consequence.  Jack was shown into a doubled-bedded room,
and proceeded to undress; the other was evidently occupied, by the heavy
breathing which saluted Jack's ear.

As Jack undressed, he recollected that his trousers were wet through,
and to dry them he opened the window, hung them out, and then jammed
down the window again upon them, to hold them in their position, after
which he turned in and fell fast asleep.  At six o'clock he was called,
as he had requested, and proceeded to dress, but to his astonishment
found the window thrown open and his trousers missing.  It was evident
that his partner in the room had thrown the window open during the
night, and that his trousers, having fallen down into the street, had
been walked off with by somebody or another.  Jack looked out of the
window once more, and perceived that whoever had thrown open the window
had been unwell during the night.  A nice drunken companion I have had,
thought Jack; but what's to be done?  And in saying this, he walked up
to the other bed, and perceived that it was tenanted by the boatswain.
Well, thought Jack, as Mr Biggs has thought proper to lose my trousers,
I think I have a right to take his, or at least the wear of them, to go
on board.  It was but last night he declared that decency must give way
to duty, and that the orders of a superior officer were to be obeyed,
with or without garments.  I know he is obliged to be on board, and now
he shall try how he likes to obey orders in his shirt tails.  So
cogitating, Jack took the trousers of the boatswain, who still snored,
although he had been called, and, putting them on, completed the rest of
his dress, and quitted the room.  He went to that of Mr Asper, where he
found him just ready, and, having paid the bill--for Asper had forgotten
his purse--they proceeded down to the sally-port, where they found other
officers waiting, sufficient to load the first boat, which shoved off,
and they went on board.  As soon as he was down below, Jack hastened to
change his trousers, and, unobserved by any one, threw those belonging
to Mr Biggs on a chair in his cabin, and, having made a confidant of
Mesty, who was delighted, he went on deck, and waited the issue of the
affair.

Before Jack left the hotel, he had told the waiter that there was the
boatswain still fast asleep, and that he must be roused up immediately;
and this injunction was obeyed.  The boatswain, who had drunk too much
the night before, and, as Jack had truly imagined, had opened the window
because he was unwell, was wakened up, and, hearing how late it was,
hastened to dress himself.  Not finding his trousers, he rang the bell,
supposing that they had been taken down to be brushed, and, in the
meantime, put on everything else, that he might lose no time: the waiter
who answered the bell denied having taken the trousers out of the room,
and poor Mr Biggs was in a sad quandary.  What had become of them, he
could not tell: he had no recollection of having gone to bed the night
before; he inquired of the waiter, who said that he knew nothing about
them--that he was very tipsy when he came home, and that when he called
him, he had found the window open, and it appeared that he had been
unwell--he supposed that he had thrown his trousers out of the window.
Time flew, and the boatswain was in despair.  "Could they lend him a
pair?"

"He would call his master."

The master of the inn knew very well the difference of rank between
officers, and those whom he could trust and those whom he could not.  He
sent up the bill by the waiter, and stated that, for a deposit, the
gentleman might have a pair of trousers.  The boatswain felt in his
pockets and remembered that all his money was in his trousers' pocket.
He could not only not leave a deposit, but could not pay his bill.  The
landlord was inexorable.  It was bad enough to lose his money, but he
could not lose more.

"I shall be tried by a court-martial, by heavens!" exclaimed the
boatswain.  "It's not far from the sally-port; I'll make a run for it,
and I can slip into one of the boats and get another pair of trousers
before I report myself as having come on board;" so, making up his mind,
the boatswain took to his heels, and with his check shirt tails
streaming in the wind, ran as hard as he could to where the boat was
waiting to receive him.  He was encountered by many, but he only ran the
faster the more they jeered, and, at last, arrived breathless at his
goal, flew down the steps, jumped into the boat, and squatted on the
stern sheets, much to the surprise of the officers and men, who thought
him mad.  He stated in a few words that somebody had stolen his trousers
during the night; and as it was already late, the boat shoved off, the
men as well as the officers convulsed with laughter.

"Have any of you a pea-jacket?" inquired the boatswain of the men--but
the weather was so warm that none of them had brought a pea-jacket.  The
boatswain looked round; he perceived that the officers were sitting on a
boat-cloak.

"Whose boat-cloak is that?" inquired the boatswain.

"Mine," replied Gascoigne.

"I trust, Mr Gascoigne, you will have the kindness to lend it to me to
go up the side with."

"Indeed I will not," replied Gascoigne, who would sooner have thrown it
overboard and have lost it, than not beheld the anticipated fun;
"recollect I asked you for a fishing-line, when we were becalmed off
Cape St. Vincent, and you sent word that you'd see me damned first.  Now
I'll see you the same before you have my boat-cloak."

"Oh, Mr Gascoigne, I'll give you three lines, directly I get on board."

"I dare say you will, but that won't do now.  `Tit for tat,' Mr
Boatswain, and hang all favours," replied Gascoigne, who was steering
the boat, having been sent on shore for the others.  "In bow--rowed of
all."  The boat was laid alongside--the relentless Gascoigne caught up
his boat-cloak as the other officers rose to go on board, and rolling it
up, in spite of the earnest entreaties of Mr Biggs, tossed it into the
main chains to the man who had thrown the stern-fast, and to make the
situation of Mr Biggs still more deplorable, the first lieutenant was
standing looking into the boat, and Captain Wilson walking the quarter
deck.

"Come, Mr Biggs, I expected you off in the first boat," cried Mr
Sawbridge; "be as smart as you please, for the yards are not yet
squared."

"Shall I go ahead in this boat, and square them, sir?"

"That boat, no; let her drop astern, jump up here and lower down the
dinghy.  What the devil do you sit there for, Mr Biggs?--you'll oblige
me by showing a little more activity, or, by Jove, you may save yourself
the trouble of asking to go on shore again.  Are you sober, sir?"

The last observation decided Mr Biggs.  He sprung up from the boat just
as he was, and touched his hat as he passed the first lieutenant.

"Perfectly sober, sir, but I've lost my trousers."

"So it appears, sir," replied Mr Sawbridge, as Mr Biggs stood on the
planeshear of the sloop where the hammock netting divides for an
entrance, with his shirt tails fluttering in the sea breeze; but Mr
Sawbridge could not contain himself any longer; he ran down the ship
ladder which led on the quarter deck, choked with laughter.  Mr Biggs
could not descend until after Mr Sawbridge, and the conversation had
attracted the notice of all, and every eye in the ship was on him.

"What's all this?" said Captain Wilson, coming to the gangway.

"Duty before decency," replied Jack, who stood by, enjoying the joke.

Mr Biggs recollected the day before--he cast a furious look at Jack, as
he touched his hat to the captain, and then dived down to the lower
deck.

If anything could add to the indignation of the boatswain, it was to
find that his trousers had come on board before him.  He now felt that a
trick had been played him, and also that our hero must have been the
party, but he could prove nothing; he could not say who slept in the
same room, for he was fast asleep when Jack went to bed, and fast asleep
when Jack quitted the room.

The truth of the story soon became known to all the ship, and "duty
before decency" became a by-word.  All that the boatswain could do he
did, which was to revenge himself upon the poor boy--and Gascoigne and
Jack never got any fishing-tackle.  The boatswain was as obnoxious to
the men as Vigors, and in consequence of Jack's known opinions upon the
rights of man, and his having floored their two greatest enemies, he
became a great favourite with the seamen, and, as all favourites are
honoured by them with a sobriquet, our hero obtained that of _Equality
Jack_.



CHAPTER TWELVE.

IN WHICH OUR HERO PREFERS GOING DOWN TO GOING UP; A CHOICE, IT IS TO BE
HOPED, HE WILL REVERSE UPON A MORE IMPORTANT OCCASION.

The next day being Sunday, the hands were turned up to divisions, and
the weather not being favourable, instead of the Service, the articles
of war were read with all due respect shown to the same, the captain,
officers, and crew with their hats off in a mizzling rain.  Jack, who
had been told by the captain that these articles of war were the rules
and regulations of the service, by which the captain, officers, and men
were equally bound, listened to them as they were read by the clerk with
the greatest attention.  He little thought that there were about five
hundred orders from the admiralty tacked on to them, which, like the
numerous codicils of some wills, contained the most important matter,
and to a certain degree make the will nugatory.

Jack listened very attentively, and, as each article was propounded,
felt that he was not likely to commit himself in that point, and,
although he was rather astonished to find such a positive injunction
against swearing, considered quite a dead letter in the ship, he thought
that, altogether, he saw his way very clear.  But to make certain of it,
as soon as the hands had been piped down he begged the clerk to let him
have a copy of the articles.

Now the clerk had three, being the allowance of the ship, or at least
all that he had in his possession, and made some demur at parting with
one; but at last he proposed--"some rascal," as he said, "having stolen
his tooth-brush"--that if Jack would give him one he would give him one
of the copies of the articles of war.  Jack replied that the one he had
in use was very much worn, and that unfortunately he had but one new
one, which he could not spare.  Thereupon the clerk, who was a very
clean personage, and could not bear that his teeth should be dirty,
agreed to accept the one in use, as Jack could not part with the other.
The exchange was made, and Jack read the articles of war over and over
again, till he thought he was fully master of them.

"Now," says Jack, "I know what I am to do, and what I am to expect, and
these articles of war I will carry in my pocket as long as I'm in the
service; that is to say, if they last so long; and, provided they do
not, I am able to replace them with another old tooth-brush, which
appears to be the value attached to them."

The _Harpy_ remained a fortnight in Gibraltar Bay, and Jack had
occasionally a run on shore, and Mr Asper invariably went with him to
keep him out of mischief; that is to say, he allowed him to throw his
money away on nobody more worthless than himself.

One morning Jack went down in the berth, and found young Gossett
blubbering.

"What's the matter, my dear Mr Gossett?" inquired Jack, who was just as
polite to the youngster as he was to anybody else.

"Vigors has been thrashing me with a rope's end," replied Gossett,
rubbing his arm and shoulders.

"What for?" inquired Jack.

"Because he says the service is going to hell--(I'm sure it's no fault
of mine)--and that now all subordination is destroyed, and that upstarts
join the ship who, because they have a five-pound note in their pocket,
are allowed to do just as they please.  He said he was determined to
uphold the service, and then he knocked me down--and when I got up again
he told me that I could stand a little more--and then he took out his
colt, and said he was determined to ride the high horse--and that there
should be no Equality Jack in future."

"Well," replied Jack.

"And then he colted me for half an hour, and that's all."

"By de soul of my fader, but it all for true, Massa Easy--he larrap, um,
sure enough--all for noteing, bad luck to him--I tink," continued Mesty,
"he hab debelish bad memory--and he want a little more of Equality
Jack."

"And he shall have it too," replied our hero; "why, it's against the
articles of war, `all quarrelling, fighting, etc.'  I say, Mr Gossett,
have you got the spirit of a louse?"

"Yes," replied Gossett.

"Well, then, will you do what I tell you next time, and trust to me for
protection?"

"I don't care what I do," replied the boy, "if you will back me against
the cowardly tyrant."

"Do you refer to me?" cried Vigors, who had stopped at the door of the
berth.

"Say yes," said Jack.

"Yes, I do," cried Gossett.

"You do, do you?--well then, my chick, I must trouble you with a little
more of this," said Vigors, drawing out his colt.

"I think that you had better not, Mr Vigors," observed Jack.

"Mind your own business, if you please," returned Vigors, not much
liking the interference.  "I am not addressing my conversation to you,
and I will thank you never to interfere with me.  I presume I have a
right to choose my own acquaintance, and, depend upon it, it will not be
that of a leveller."

"All that is at your pleasure, Mr Vigors," replied Jack, "you have a
right to choose your own acquaintance, and so have I a right to choose
my own friends, and further, to support them.  That lad is my friend,
Mr Vigors."

"Then," replied Vigors, who could not help bullying even at the risk of
another combat which he probably intended to stand, "I shall take the
liberty of giving your friend a thrashing;" and he suited the action to
the word.

"Then I shall take the liberty to defend my friend," replied Jack; "and
as you call me a leveller, I'll try if I may not deserve the name"--
whereupon Jack placed a blow so well under the ear, that Mr Vigors
dropped on the deck, and was not in condition to come to the scratch,
even if he had been inclined.  "And now, youngster," said Jack, wresting
the colt out of Vigors's hand, "do as I bid you--give him a good
colting--if you don't I'll thrash you."

Gossett required no second threat--the pleasure of thrashing his enemy,
if only for once, was quite enough--and he laid well on.  Jack with his
fists doubled ready to protect him if there was a show of resistance,
but Vigors was half stupified with the blow under the ear, and quite
cowed; he took his thrashing in the most passive manner.

"That will do," said Jack, "and now do not be afraid, Gossett; the very
first time he offers to strike you when I am not present, I will pay him
off for it as soon as you tell me.  I won't be called Equality Jack for
nothing."

When Jolliffe, who heard of this, met our hero alone, he said to him,
"Take my advice, boy, and do not in future fight the battles of others,
you'll find very soon that you will have enough to do to fight your
own."

Whereupon Jack argued the point for half an hour, and then they
separated.  But Mr Jolliffe was right.  Jack began to find himself
constantly in hot water, and the captain and first lieutenant, although
they did not really withdraw their protection, thought it high time that
Jack should find out that, on board a man-of-war, everybody and
everything must find its level.

There was on board of his Majesty's sloop _Harpy_, a man of the name of
Easthupp, who did the duty of purser's steward; this was the second ship
that he had served in; in the former he had been sent with a draft of
men from the Tender lying off the Tower.  How he had come into the
service was not known in the present ship, but the fact was, that he had
been one of the swell mob--and had been sent on board the Tender with a
letter of recommendation from the magistrates to Captain Crouch.  He was
a cockney by birth, for he had been left at the workhouse of St. Mary
Axe, where he had, been taught to read and write, and had afterwards
made his escape.  He joined the juvenile thieves of the metropolis, had
been sent to Bridewell, obtained his liberty, and by degrees had risen
from petty thieving of goods exposed outside of the shops and
market-stalls, to the higher class of gentlemen pickpockets.  His
appearance was some what genteel, with a bullying sort of an impudent
air, which is mistaken for fashion by those who know no better.  A
remarkable neat dresser, for that was part of his profession; a very
plausible manner and address; a great fluency of language, although he
clipped the king's English; and, as he had suffered more than once by
the law, it is not to be wondered at that he was, as he called himself,
a _hout-and-hout_ radical.  During the latter part of his service, in
his last ship, he had been employed under the purser's steward, and
having offered himself in this capacity to the purser of H.M. sloop
_Harpy_, with one or two forged certificates, he had been accepted.

Now, when Mr Easthupp heard of Jack's opinions, he wished to cultivate
his acquaintance, and with a bow and a flourish, introduced himself
before they arrived at Gibraltar, but our hero took an immediate dislike
to this fellow from his excessive and impertinent familiarity.

Jack knew a gentleman when he met one, and did not choose to be a
companion to a man beneath him in every way, but who, upon the strength
of Jack's liberal opinions, presumed to be his equal.  Jack's equality
did not go so far as that; in theory it was all very well, but in
practice it was only when it suited his own purpose.

But the purser's steward was not to be checked--a man who has belonged
to the swell mob is not easily repulsed; and although Jack would plainly
show him that his company was not agreeable, Easthupp would constantly
accost him familiarly on the forecastle and lower deck, with his arms
folded, and with an air almost amounting to superiority.  At last, Jack
told him to go about his business, and not to presume to talk to him,
whereupon Easthupp rejoined, and after an exchange of hard words, it
ended by Jack kicking Mr Easthupp, as he called himself, down the
after-lower-deck hatchway.  This was but a sorry specimen of Jack's
equality--and Mr Easthupp, who considered that his honour had been
compromised, went up to the captain on the quarter-deck, and lodged his
complaint--whereupon Captain Wilson desired that Mr Easy might be
summoned.

As soon as Jack made his appearance, Captain Wilson called to Easthupp.
"Now, purser's steward, what is this you have to say?"

"If you please, Captain Vilson, I am wery sorry to be obliged to make
hany complaint of hany hofficer, but this Mr Heasy thought proper to
make use of language quite hunbecoming of a gentleman, and then to kick
me as I vent down the atchvay."

"Well, Mr Easy, is this true?"

"Yes, sir," replied Jack; "I have several times told the fellow not to
address himself to me, and he will.  I did tell him he was a radical
blackguard, and I did kick him down the hatchway."

"You told him he was a radical blackguard, Mr Easy?"

"Yes, sir; he comes bothering me about his republic, and asserting that
we have no want of a king and aristocracy."

Captain Wilson looked significantly at Mr Sawbridge.

"I crtainly did hoffer my political opinions, Captain Vilson; but you
must be avare that ve hall ave an hequal stake in the country--and it's
a Hinglishman's birthright."

"I'm not aware what your stake in the country may be, Mr Easthupp,"
observed Captain Wilson, "but I think that, if you used such
expressions, Mr Easy was fully warranted in telling you his opinion."

"I ham villing, Captain Vilson, to make hany hallowance for the eat of
political discussion--but that is not hall that I ave to complain hof.
Mr Easy thought proper to say that I was a swindler and a liar."

"Did you make use of those expressions, Mr Easy?"

"Yes, sir, he did," continued the steward, "and, moreover, told me not
to cheat the men, and not to cheat my master the purser.  Now, Captain
Vilson, is it not true that I am in a wery hostensible sitevation, but I
flatter myself that I ave been vell edecated, and vos vonce moving in a
wery different society--misfortains vill appin to us hall, and I feel my
character has been severely injured by such impertations;" whereupon Mr
Easthupp took out his handkerchief, flourished, and blew his nose.  "I
told Mr Heasy that I considered myself quite as much of a gentleman as
himself, and at hall hewents did not keep company with a black feller
(Mr Heasy will understand the insinevation), vereupon Mr Heasy, as I
before said, your vorship, I mean you, Captain Vilson, thought proper to
kick me down the atchvay."

"Very well, steward, I have heard your complaint, and now you may go."

Mr Easthupp took his hat off with an air, made his bow, and went down
the main ladder.

"Mr Easy," said Captain Wilson, "you must be aware that, by the
regulations of the service by which we are all equally bound, it is not
permitted that any officer shall take the law into his own hands.  Now,
although I do not consider it necessary to make any remark as to your
calling the man a radical blackguard, for I consider his impertinent
intrusion of his opinions deserved it, still you have no right to attack
any man's character without grounds--and as that man is in an office of
trust, you were not at all warranted in asserting that he was a cheat.
Will you explain to me why you made use of such language?"

Now our hero had no proofs against the man; he had nothing to offer in
extenuation, until he recollected, all at once, the reason assigned by
the captain for the language used by Mr Sawbridge.  Jack had the wit to
perceive that it would hit home, so he replied, very quietly and
respectfully:

"If you please, Captain Wilson, that was all zeal."

"Zeal, Mr Easy?  I think it but a bad excuse.  But pray, then, why did
you kick the man down the hatchway?--you must have known that that was
contrary to the rules of the service."

"Yes, sir," replied Jack demurely, "but that was all zeal too."

"Then allow me to say," replied Captain Wilson, biting his lips, "that I
think that your zeal has in this instance been very much misplaced, and
I trust you will not show so much again."

"And yet, sir," replied Jack, aware that he was giving the captain a
hard hit, and therefore looked proportionally humble, "we should do
nothing in the service without it--and I trust one day, as you told me,
to become a very zealous officer."

"I trust so too, Mr Easy," replied the captain.  "There, you may go
now, and let me hear no more of kicking people down the hatchway.  That
sort of zeal is misplaced."

"More than my foot was, at all events," muttered Jack, as he walked off.

Captain Wilson, as soon as our hero disappeared, laughed heartily, and
told Mr Sawbridge "he had ascribed his language to our hero as all
zeal.  He has very cleverly given me it all back again; and really,
Sawbridge, as it proves how weak was my defence of you, you may gain
from this lesson."

Sawbridge thought so too--but both agreed that Jack's rights of man were
in considerable danger.

The day before the ship sailed, the Captain and Mr Asper dined with the
governor, and as there was little more to do, Mr Sawbridge, who had not
quitted the ship since she had been in port, and had some few purchases
to make, left her in the afternoon in the charge of Mr Smallsole, the
master.  Now, as we have observed, he was Jack's inveterate enemy--
indeed Jack had already made three, Mr Smallsole, Mr Biggs the
boatswain, and Easthupp, the purser's steward.  Mr Smallsole was glad
to be left in command, as he hoped to have an opportunity of punishing
our hero, who certainly laid himself not a little open to it.

Like all those who are seldom in command, the master was proportionally
tyrannical and abusive--he swore at the men, made them do the duty twice
and thrice over on the pretence that it was not smartly done, and found
fault with every officer remaining on board.

"Mr Biggs--by God, sir, you seem to be all asleep forward; I suppose
you think that you are to do nothing, now the first lieutenant is out of
the ship?  How long will it be, sir, before you are ready to sway away?"

"By de holy poker, I tink he sway away finely, Massa Easy," observed
Mesty, who was in converse with our hero on the forecastle.

Mr Smallsole's violence made Mr Biggs violent, which made the
boatswain's mate violent--and the captain of the forecastle violent
also; all which is practically exemplified by philosophy in the laws of
motion, communicated from one body to another: and as Mr Smallsole
swore, so did the boatswain swear--also the boatswain's mate, the
captain of the forecastle, and all the men; showing the force of
example.

Mr Smallsole came forward--"Damnation, Mr Biggs, what the devil are
you about? can't you move here?"

"As much as we can, sir," replied the boatswain, "lumbered as the
forecastle is with idlers;" and here Mr Biggs looked at our hero and
Mesty, who were standing against the bulwark.

"What are you doing here, sir?" cried Mr Smallsole to our hero.

"Nothing at all, sir," replied Jack.

"Then I'll give you something to do, sir.  Go up to the mast-head, and
wait there till I call you down.  Come, sir, I'll show you the way,"
continued the master, walking aft.  Jack followed till they were on the
quarter-deck.

"Now, sir, up to the main-top gallant mast-head; perch yourself upon the
cross trees--up with you."

"What am I to go up there for, sir?" inquired Jack.

"For punishment, sir," replied the master.

"What have I done, sir?"

"No reply, sir--up with you."

"If you please, sir," replied Jack, "I should wish to argue this point a
little."

"Argue the point," roared Mr Smallsole.  "By Jove, I'll teach you to
argue the point--away with you, sir."

"If you please, sir," continued Jack, "the captain told me that the
articles of war were the rules and regulations by which every one in the
service was to be guided.  Now, sir," said Jack, "I have read them over
till I know them by heart, and there is not one word of mast-heading in
the whole of them."  Here Jack took the articles out of his pocket, and
unfolded them.

"Will you go to the mast-head, sir, or will you not?" said Mr
Smallsole.

"Will you show me the mast-head in the articles of war, sir," replied
Jack; "here they are."

"I tell you, sir, to go to the mast-head if not, I'll be damned if I
don't hoist you up in a bread-bag."

"There's nothing about bread-bags in the articles of war," replied Jack;
"but I'll tell you what there is, sir," and Jack commenced reading:

"All flag officers, and all persons in or belonging to his Majesty's
ships or vessels of war, being guilty of profane oaths, execrations,
drunkenness, uncleanness, or other scandalous actions, in derogation of
God's honour, and corruption of good manners, shall incur such
punishment as--"

"Damnation," cried the master, who was mad with rage, hearing that the
whole ship's company were laughing.

"No, sir, not damnation," replied Jack, "that's when he's tried above;
but according to the nature and degree of the offence--"

"Will you go to the mast-head, sir, or will you not?"

"If you please," replied Jack, "I'd rather not."

"Then, sir, consider yourself under an arrest--I'll try you by a
court-martial, by God.  Go down below, sir."

"With the greatest of pleasure, sir," replied Jack, "that's all right,
and according to the articles of war, which are to guide us all."  Jack
folded up his articles of war, put them into his pocket, and went down
into the berth.

Soon after Jack had gone down, Jolliffe, who had heard the whole of the
altercation, followed him.  "My lad," said Jolliffe, "I'm sorry for all
this; you should have gone to the mast-head."

"I should like to argue that point a little," replied Jack.

"Yes, so would everybody; but if that were permitted, the service would
be at a standstill--that would not do;--you must obey an order first,
and then complain afterwards, if the order is unjust."

"It is not so in the articles of war."

"But it is so in the service."

"The captain told me that the articles of war were the guides of the
service, and we were all equally bound to obey them."

"Well, but allowing that, I do not think your articles of war will bear
you out.  You observe, they say any officer, mariner, etcetera, guilty
of disobedience to any lawful command.  Now are you not guilty under
that article?"

"That remains to be argued still," replied Jack.  "A lawful command
means an order established by law; now where is that law?--besides, the
captain told me when I kicked that blackguard down the hatchway, that
there was only the captain who could punish, and that officers could not
take the law into their own hands; why then has the master?"

"His doing wrong as superior officer is no reason why you as an inferior
should disobey him.  If that were permitted--if every order were to be
cavilled at and argued upon, as just or unjust, there would be an end of
all discipline.  Besides, recollect, that in the service there is
custom, which is the same as law."

"That admits of a little argument," replied Jack.

"The service will admit of none, my dear boy: recollect that, even on
shore, we have two laws, that which is written, and the _lex non
scripta_, which is custom; of course we have it in the service, for the
articles of war cannot provide for everything."

"They provide a court-martial for everything though," replied Jack.

"Yes, with death or dismissal from the service--neither of which would
be very agreeable.  You have got yourself into a scrape, and although
the captain is evidently your friend, he cannot overlook it:
fortunately, it is with the master, which is of less consequence than
with the other officers; but still, you will have to submit, for the
captain cannot overlook it."

"I'll tell you what, Jolliffe," replied Jack, "my eyes now begin to be
opened to a great many things.  The captain tells me, when I am
astonished at bad language, that it is all zeal, and then I found out
that what is all zeal in a superior to an inferior, is insolence when
reversed.  He tells me, that the articles of war are made to equally
guide us all--the master breaks what is positively mentioned in the
second article twenty times over, and goes scot free, while I am to be
punished, because I do not comply with what the articles do not mention.
How was I to know that I ought to go to the mast-head for punishment?
particularly when the captain tells me that he alone is to punish in the
ship.  If I obey an order in opposition to the captain's order, is not
that as bad as disobeying the captain?  I think that I have made out a
very strong case, and my arguments are not to be confuted."

"I'm afraid that the master will make out a very strong case, and that
your arguments will never be heard."

"That will be contrary to all the rules of justice."

"But according to all the rules of service."

"I do believe that I am a great fool," observed Jack, after a pause.
"What do you imagine made me come to sea, Jolliffe?"

"Because you did not know when you were well off," replied the mate
dryly.

"That's true enough; but my reason was, because I thought I should find
that equality here that I could not find on shore."

Jolliffe stared.

"My dear boy, I heard you say that you obtained those opinions from your
father; I mean no disrespect to him, but he must be either mad or
foolish, if at his age he has not yet discovered that there is no such
thing in existence."

"I begin to think so," replied Jack; "but that does not prove that there
ought not to be."

"I beg your pardon; the very non-existence proves that it ought not to
be--`whatever is, is right'--you might as well expect to find perfect
happiness or perfection in the individual.  Your father must be a
visionary."

"The best thing that I can do is to go home again."

"No, my dear Easy, the best thing that you can do is to stay in the
service, for it will soon put an end to all such nonsensical ideas; and
it will make you a clever, sensible fellow.  The service is a rough, but
a good school, where everybody finds his level--not the level of
equality, but the level which his natural talent and acquirements will
rise or sink him to, in proportion as they are plus or minus.  It is a
noble service, but has its imperfections, as everything in this world
must have.  I have little reason to speak in its favour, as far as I am
concerned, for it has been hard bread to me, but there must be
exceptions in every rule.  Do not think of quitting the service until
you have given it a fair trial.  I am aware that you are an only son,
and your father is a man of property, and, therefore, in the common
parlance of the world, you are independent; but, believe me, no man,
however rich, is independent, unless he has a profession, and you will
find no better than this, notwithstanding--"

"What?"

"That you will be, most certainly, sent to the mast-head to-morrow."

"We'll argue that point," replied Jack; "at all events, I will go and
turn in to-night."



CHAPTER THIRTEEN.

IN WHICH OUR HERO BEGINS TO ACT AND THINK FOR HIMSELF.

Whatever may have been Jack's thoughts, at all events they did not spoil
his rest.  He possessed in himself all the materials of a true
philosopher, but there was a great deal of weeding still required.
Jolliffe's arguments, sensible as they were, had very little effect upon
him, for, strange to say, it is much more easy to shake a man's opinions
when he is wrong than when he is right; proving that we are all of a
very perverse nature.  "Well," thought Jack, "if I am to go to the
mast-head, I am, that's all; but it does not prove that my arguments are
not good, only that they will not be listened to;" and then Jack shut
his eyes, and in a few minutes was fast asleep.

The master had reported to the first lieutenant, and the first
lieutenant to the captain, when he came on board the next morning, the
conduct of Mr Easy, who was sent for in the cabin, to hear if he had
any thing to offer in extenuation of his offence.  Jack made an oration,
which lasted more than half an hour, in which all the arguments he had
brought forward to Jolliffe in the preceding chapter were entered fully
into.  Mr Jolliffe was then examined, and also Mr Smallsole was
interrogated: after which the captain and the first lieutenant were left
alone.

"Sawbridge," said Captain Wilson, "how true it is that any deviation
from what is right invariably leads us into a scrape.  I have done
wrong: wishing to get this boy out of his father's hands, and fearful
that he would not join the ship, and imagining him to be by no means the
shrewd fellow that he is in reality, I represented the service in a much
more favourable light than I should have done; all that he says I told
him I did tell him, and it is I who really led the boy into error.  Mr
Smallsole has behaved tyrannically and unjustly; he punished the lad for
no crime; so that what between the master and me, I am now on the horns
of a dilemma.  If I punish the boy, I feel that I am punishing him more
for my own fault and the fault of others, than his own.  If I do not
punish him, I allow a flagrant and open violation of discipline to pass
uncensured, which will be injurious to the service."

"He must be punished, sir," replied Sawbridge.

"Send for him," said the captain.

Jack made his appearance, with a very polite bow.

"Mr Easy, as you suppose that the articles of war contained all the
rules and regulations of the service, I take it for granted that you
have erred through ignorance.  But recollect, that although you have
erred through ignorance, such a violation of discipline, if passed
unnoticed, will have a very injurious effect with the men, whose
obedience is enforced by the example shown to them by the officers.  I
feel so convinced of your zeal, which you showed the other day in the
case of Easthupp, that I am sure you will see the propriety of my
proving to the men, by punishing you, that discipline must be enforced,
and I shall therefore send for you on the quarter-deck, and order you to
go to the mast-head in presence of the ship's company, as it was in the
presence of the ship's company that you refused."

"With the greatest pleasure, Captain Wilson," replied Jack.

"And in future, Mr Easy, although I shall ever set my face against it,
recollect that if any officer punishes you, and you imagine that you are
unfairly treated, you will submit to the punishment, and then apply to
me for redress."

"Certainly, sir," replied Jack, "now that I am aware of your wishes."

"You will oblige me, Mr Easy, by going on the quarter-deck, and wait
there till I come up."

Jack made his best bow, and exit.

"Old Jolliffe told me that I should have to go," said Jack to himself,
"and he was right, so far; but hang me if I hadn't the best of the
argument, and that's all I care about."

Captain Wilson sent for the master, and reprimanded him for his
oppression, as it was evident that there was no ground for punishment,
and he forbade him ever to mast-head another midshipman, but to report
his conduct to the first lieutenant or himself.  He then proceeded to
the quarter-deck, and, calling for Mr Easy, gave him what appeared to
be a very severe reprimand, which Jack looked upon very quietly, because
it was all _zeal_ on the captain's part to give it, and all _zeal_ on
his own to take it.  Our hero was then ordered up to the mast-head.

Jack took off his hat, and took three or four steps, in obedience to the
order--and then returned and made his best bow--inquired of Captain
Wilson whether he wished him to go to the fore or to the main-mast head.

"To the main, Mr Easy," replied the captain, biting his lips.

Jack ascended three spokes of the Jacob's ladder, when he again stopped,
and took off his hat.

"I beg your pardon, Captain Wilson--you have not informed me whether it
is your wish that I should go to the topmast, or the top-gallant
cross-trees."

"To the top-gallant cross-trees, Mr Easy," replied the captain.

Jack ascended, taking it very easy: he stopped at the main-top for
breath; at the main-topmast head, to look about him; and, at last,
gained the spot agreed upon, where he seated himself, and, taking out
the articles of war, commenced them again, to ascertain whether he could
not have strengthened his arguments.  He had not, however, read through
the seventh article before the hands were turned up--"up anchor!" and
Mr Sawbridge called, "All hands down from aloft!"  Jack took the hint,
folded up his documents, and came down as leisurely as he went up.  Jack
was a much better philosopher than his father.

The _Harpy_ was soon under way, and made all sail, steering for Cape de
Gatte, where Captain Wilson hoped to pick up a Spanish vessel or two, on
his way to Toulon to receive the orders of the admiral.

A succession of light breezes and calms rendered the passage very
tedious; but the boats were constantly out, chasing the vessels along
shore, and Jack usually asked to be employed on this service: indeed,
although so short a time afloat, he was, from his age and strength, one
of the most effective midshipmen, and to be trusted, provided a whim did
not come into his head; but hitherto Jack had always been under orders,
and had always acquitted himself very well.

When the _Harpy_ was off Tarragona, it so happened that there were
several cases of dysentery in the ship, and Mr Asper and Mr Jolliffe
were two of those who were suffering.  This reduced the number of
officers; and, at the same time, they had received information from the
men of a fishing-boat, who, to obtain their own release, had given the
intelligence, that a small convoy was coming down from Rosas as soon as
the wind was fair, under the protection of two gun-boats.

Captain Wilson kept well off-shore until the wind changed, and then,
allowing for the time that the vessels would take to run down the
distance between Tarragona and Rosas, steered in the night, to intercept
them; but it again fell calm, and the boats were therefore hoisted out,
with directions to proceed along the shore, as it was supposed that the
vessels could not now be far distant.  Mr Sawbridge had the command of
the expedition in the pinnace; the first cutter was in charge of the
gunner, Mr Minus; and, as the other officers were sick, Mr Sawbridge,
who liked Jack more and more every day, at his particular request gave
him the command of the second cutter.  As soon as he heard of it, Mesty
declared to our hero that he would go with him; but without permission
that was not possible.  Jack obtained leave for Mesty to go in lieu of a
marine: there were many men sick of the dysentery, and Mr Sawbridge was
not sorry to take an idler out of the ship instead of a working man,
especially as Mesty was known to be a good hand.

It was ten o'clock at night when the boats quitted the ship; and, as it
was possible that they might not return till late the next day, one
day's biscuit and rum were put on board each, that the crews might not
suffer from exhaustion.  The boats pulled in-shore, and then coasted for
three hours, without seeing anything: the night was fine overhead, but
there was no moon.  It still continued calm, and the men began to feel
fatigued, when, just as they were within a mile of a low point, they
perceived the convoy over the land, coming down with their sails
squared, before a light breeze.

Mr Sawbridge immediately ordered the boats to lie upon their oars,
awaiting their coming, and arranging for the attack.

The white lateen sails of the gun-boat in advance were now plainly
distinguishable from the rest, which were all huddled together in her
wake.  Down she came like a beautiful swan in the water, her sails just
filled with the wind, and running about three knots an hour.  Mr
Sawbridge kept her three masts in one, that they might not be perceived,
and winded the boats with their heads the same way, so that they might
dash on board of her with a few strokes of the oars.  So favourable was
the course of the gun-boat, that she stood right between the launch on
one bow and the two cutters on the other; and they were not perceived
until they were actually alongside; the resistance was trifling, but
some muskets and pistols had been fired, and the alarm was given.  Mr
Sawbridge took possession, with the crew of the launch, and brought the
vessel to the wind, as he perceived that at the alarm all the convoy had
done the same, directing the cutters to board the largest vessels, and
secure as many as they could, while he would do the same with the
launch, as he brought them to: but the other gun boat, which had not yet
been seen, and had been forgotten, now made her appearance, and came
down in a gallant manner to the support of her comrade.

Mr Sawbridge threw half his men into the launch, as she carried a heavy
carronade, and sent her to assist the cutters, which had made right for
the gun-boat.  A smart firing of round and grape was opened upon the
boats, which continued to advance upon her; but the officer commanding
the gun-boat, finding that he had no support from his consort, and
concluding that she had been captured, hauled his wind again, and stood
out in the offing.  Our hero pulled after her, although he could not see
the other boats; but the breeze had freshened, and all pursuit was
useless: he therefore directed his course to the convoy, and, after a
hard pull, contrived to get on board of a one-masted xebeque, of about
fifty tons.  Mesty, who had eyes as sharp as a needle, had observed that
when the alarm was given, several of the convoy had not rounded the
point, and he therefore proposed, as this vessel was very light, that
they should make short tacks with her, to weather the point, as if they
were escaping, and by that means be able, particularly if it fell calm
again, to capture some others.  Jack thought this advice good.  The
convoy who had rounded the point had all stood out to seaward with the
gun-boat, and had now a fresh breeze.  To chase them was therefore
useless; and the only chance was to do as Mesty had proposed.  He
therefore stood out into the breeze, and, after half an hour, tacked in
shore, and fetched well to windward of the low point; but finding no
vessels, he stood out again.  Thus had he made three or four tacks, and
had gained, perhaps, six or seven miles, when he perceived signals of
recall made to leeward, enforced with guns.

"Mr Sawbridge wants us to come back, Mesty."

"Mr Sawbridge mind him own business," replied Mesty, "we nebber take
all dis trubble to ply to windward for noting."

"But, Mesty, we must obey orders."

"Yes, sar, when he have him thumb upon you; but now, must do what tink
most proper.  By de powers, he catch me 'fore I go back."

"But we shall lose the ship."

"Find her again, by-and-bye, Massa Easy."

"But they will think that we are lost."

"So much the better, nebba look after us, Massa Easy; I guess we have a
fine cruise anyhow.  Morrow we take large vessel--make sail, take more,
den we go to Toulon."

"But I don't know my way to Toulon; I know it lies up this way, and
that's all."

"Dat enough, what you want more?  Massa Easy, 'pose you not find fleet,
fleet soon find you.  By God, nobody nebba lost here.  Now, Massa Easy,
let um go 'bout gain.  Somebody else burn biscuit and boil kettle
to-morrow for de gentlemen.  Murder Irish! only tink, Massa Easy--I boil
kettle, and prince in my own country!"

Easy was very much of a mind with Mesty; "for," argued Jack, "if I go
back now, I only bring a small vessel half full of beans, and I shall be
ashamed to show my face.  Now it is true, that they may suppose that we
have been sunk by the fire of the gun-boat.  Well, what then? they have
a gun-boat to show for their night's work, and it will appear that there
was harder fighting than there has been, and Mr Sawbridge may benefit
by it."  (Jack was a very knowing fellow to have learned so much about
the service already.) "Well, and when they discover that we are not
lost, how glad they will be to find us, especially if we bring some
prizes--which I will do, or I'll not go back again.  It's not often that
one gets a command before being two months at sea, and, hang me, now
I've got it if I won't keep it; and Mr Smallsole may mast-head whom he
pleases.  I'm sorry for poor Gossett though; if Vigors supposes me dead
how he will murder the poor little fellow--however, it's all for the
good of the service, and I'll revenge him when I come back.  Hang me if
I won't take a cruise."

"I talk to the men, they say thay all tick to you like leech.  Now dat
job settled, I tink we better go 'bout again."

A short time after this decision on the part of our hero, the day broke:
Jack first looked to leeward, and perceived the gun-boat and convoy
standing in for the shore about ten miles distant, followed by the
_Harpy_, under all sail.  He could also perceive the captured gun-boat
lying to in-shore to prevent their escape.

"_Harpy_ hab um all, by Gosh!" cried Mesty; "I ab notion dat she soon
settle um hash."

They were so busy looking at the _Harpy_ and the convoy, that, for some
time, they quite forgot to look to windward.  At last Mesty turned his
eyes that way.

"Dam um, I see right last night; look, Massa Easy--one chip, one brig
tree lateen--dem for us.  By de power, but we make _bon_ prize
to-night."

The vessels found out by Mesty were not above three miles to windward;
they were under all sail, beating up for the protection of a battery not
far distant.

"Now, Massa, suppose dey see our boat, dey tink something; keep boat
alongside, and shift her when we go 'bout every time: better not sail so
fast now--keep further off till they drop anchor for de night; and den,
when it dark, we take 'em."

All Mesty's advice was good, with the exception perhaps of advising our
hero how to disobey orders and take a cruise.  To prevent the vessel
from approaching too near the others, and at the same time to let her
have the appearance of doing her best, a sail was towed overboard under
the bows, and after that they watched the motions of the _Harpy_.

The distance was too great to distinguish very clearly, but Mesty
shinned up the mast of the vessel, and reported progress.

"By Jasus, dare one gun--two gun--go it, _Harpy_.  Won't she ab um, sure
enough.  Now gun-boat fire--dat our gun-boat--no, dat not ours.  Now our
gun-boat fire--dat pretty--fire away.  Ah, now de _Harpy_ cum up.  All
'mung 'em.  Bung, bung, bung--rattle de grape, by gosh.  I ab notion de
Spaniard is very pretty considerable trouble just now, anyhow.  All
hove-to, so help me gosh--not more firing; _Harpy_ take um all--dare gun
boat hove-to, she strike um colours.  By all powers, but suppose dey
tink we no share prize-money--they find it not little mistake.  Now, my
lads, it all over, and," continued Mesty, sliding down the mast, "I tink
you better not show yourself too much; only two men stay on deck, and
dem two take off um jackets."

Mesty's report was correct; the _Harpy_ had captured the other gun-boat,
and the whole convoy.  The only drawback to their good fortune was the
disappearance of Mr Easy and the cutter: it was supposed that a shot
from the gun-boat must have sunk her, and that the whole crew were
drowned.  Captain Wilson and Mr Sawbridge seriously regretted the loss
of our hero, as they thought that he would have turned out a shining
character as soon as he had sown his wild oats; so did Mr Asper,
because our hero's purse went with him; so did Jolliffe, because he had
taken an affection for him; so did little Gossett, because he
anticipated no mercy from Vigors.  On the other hand, there were some
who were glad that he was gone; and as for the ship's company in
general, they lamented the loss of the poor cutter's crew for
twenty-four hours, which, in a man-of-war, is a very long while, and
then they thought no more about them.  We must leave the _Harpy_ to make
the best of her way to Toulon and now follow our hero.

The cutter's crew knew very well that Jack was acting contrary to
orders, but anything was to them a change from the monotony of a
man-of-war; and they, as well as Mesty, highly approved of a holiday.

It was, however, necessary that they should soon proceed to business,
for they had but their allowance of bread and grog for one day, and in
the vessel they found nothing except a few heads of garlic, for the
Spaniards coasting down shore had purchased their provisions as they
required them.  There were only three prisoners on board, and they had
been put down in the hold among the beans; a bag of which had been
roused on deck, and a part put into the kettle to make soup.  Jack did
not much admire the fare of the first day--it was bean-soup for
breakfast, bean-soup for dinner, and if you felt hungry during the
intervals it was still bean-soup, and nothing else.

One of the men could speak a little Lingua Franca, and the prisoners
were interrogated as to the vessels to windward.  The ship was stated to
be valuable, and also one of the brigs.  The ship carried guns, and that
was all that they knew about them.  As the sun went down the vessels
dropped their anchors off the battery.  The breeze continued light, and
the vessel which contained Jack and his fortunes was about four miles to
leeward.  As for the _Harpy_, they had long lost sight of her, and it
was now time to proceed to some arrangement.  As soon as it was dark
Jack turned his hands up and made a very long speech.  He pointed out to
the men that his zeal had induced him not to return to the ship until he
had brought something with him worth having--that they had had nothing
but beans to eat during the whole day, which was anything but agreeable,
and that, therefore, it was absolutely necessary that they should better
their condition; and there was a large ship not four miles off, and that
he intended to take her; and as soon as he had taken her he intended to
take some more; that he trusted to their zeal to support him on this
occasion, and that he expected to do a great deal during the cruise.  He
pointed out to them that they must consider themselves as on board of a
man-of-war, and be guided by the articles of war, which were written for
them all--and that in case they forgot them, he had a copy in his
pocket, which he would read to them to morrow morning, as soon as they
were comfortably settled on board of the ship.  He then appointed Mesty
as first lieutenant; the marine as sergeant; the coxswain as boatswain;
two men as midshipmen to keep watch: two others as boatswain's mates,
leaving two more for the ship's company, who were divided into the
larboard and starboard watch.  The cutter's crew were perfectly content
with Jack's speech, and their brevet rank, and after that they commenced
a more important topic, which was, how they were to take the ship.
After some discussion, Mesty's advice was approved of; which was, that
they should anchor not far ahead of the ship, and wait till about two
o'clock in the morning, when they would drop silently down upon her in
the cutter, and take possession.

About nine o'clock the vessel was anchored as they proposed, and Jack
was a little astonished to find that the ship was much larger that he
had any idea of; for, although polacca-rigged, she was nearly the same
tonnage as the _Harpy_.  The Spanish prisoners were first tied hand and
foot, and laid upon the beans, that they might give no alarm, the sails
were furled, and all was kept quiet.

On board of the ship, on the contrary, there was noise and revelry; and
about half-past ten a boat was seen to leave her and pull for the shore;
after which the noise gradually ceased, the lights one by one
disappeared, and then all was silent.

"What do you think, Mesty?" said Jack; "do you think we shall take her?"

"It is take her, you mane; sure enough we'll take her, stop a bit--wait
till um all fast asleep."

About twelve o'clock there came on a mizzling heavy rain, which was very
favourable for our hero's operations.  But as it promised soon to clear
up, by Mesty's advice they did not delay any longer.  They crept softly
into the boat, and with two oars to steer her dropped under the bows of
the vessel, climbed up the forechains, and found the deck empty.  "Take
care not fire pistol," said Mesty to the men as they came up, putting
his finger to their lips to impress them with the necessity of silence,
for Mesty had been an African warrior, and knew the advantage of
surprise.  All the men being on deck, and the boat made fast, Jack and
Mesty led the way aft; not a soul was to be seen: indeed, it was too
dark to see anybody unless they were walking the deck.  The
companion-hatch was secured, and the gratings laid on the after-hatch
ways, and then they went aft to the binnacle again, where there was a
light burning.  Mesty ordered two of the men to go forward to secure the
hatches, and then to remain there on guard--and then the rest of the men
and our hero consulted at the wheel.

"By the power we ab the ship!" said Mesty, "but must manage plenty yet.
I tink der some damn lazy rascal sleep 'tween the guns.  A lilly while
it no rain, and den we see better.  Now keep all quiet."

"There must be a great many men in this ship," replied our hero; "she is
very large, and has twelve or fourteen guns--how shall we manage to
secure them?"

"All right," replied Mesty, "manage all dat by-and-bye.  Don't care how
soon daylight come."

"It has left off raining already," observed Easy; "there is a candle in
the binnacle--suppose we light it and look round the decks."

"Yes," replied Mesty, "one man sentry over cabin hatch, and another over
after-hatch.  Now den we light candle, and all the rest go round the
deck.  Mind you leave all your pistols on capstern."

Jack lighted the candle, and they proceeded round the decks: they had
not walked far, when, between two of the guns, they discovered a heap
covered with gregos.  "There de _watch_," whispered Mesty; "all fast--
not ready for dem yet."

Mesty blew out the candle, and they all retreated to the binnacle, where
Mesty took out a coil of the ropes about the mizzen-mast, and cutting it
into lengths, gave them to the other men to unlay.  In a few minutes
they had prepared a great many seizings to tie the men with.

"Now den we light candle again, and make sure of them lazy hounds," said
Mesty; "very much oblige to dem all de same; they let us take de ship--
mind now, wake one at a time, and shut him mouth."

"But suppose they get their mouths free and cry out?" replied Jack.

"Den, Mr Easy," replied Mesty, changing his countenance to an
expression almost demoniacal--"there no help for it"--and Mesty showed
his knife which he held in his right hand.

"Oh, no! do not let us murder them."

"No, massa--suppose can help it; but suppose they get upper hand--what
become of us?  Spaniards hab knives, and use dem too, by de power!"

The observation of Mesty was correct, and the expression of his
countenance when he showed his knife proved what a relentless enemy he
could be, if his blood was once roused--but Mesty had figured in the
Ashantee wars in former days, and after that the reader need not be
surprised.  They proceeded cautiously to where the Spaniards lay.  The
arrangements of Mesty were very good.  There were two men to gag them
while the others were to tie their limbs.  Mesty and Easy were to kneel
by them with the candle, with raised knives to awe them into silence, or
to strike home, if their own safety required it.

The gregos were removed off the first man, who opened his eyes at the
sight of the candle, but the coxswain's hand was on his mouth--he was
secured in silence.  The other two men were awaked, and threw off their
coverings, but they were also secured without there being occasion to
resort to bloodshed.

"What shall we do now, Mesty?"

"Now, sar," said Mesty, "open the after-hatch and watch--suppose more
men come up, we make them fass; suppose no more come up, we wait till
daylight--and see what take place."

Mesty then went forward to see if the men were watchful on the
forecastle; and having again gone round the whole of the deck to see if
there were any more men on it, he blew out the candle, and took his
station with the others at the after-hatchway.

It was just at break of day that the Spaniards who had to keep the
morning watch having woke up, as people generally do at that hour at
which they expect to be called, dressed themselves and came on deck,
imagining, and very truly, that those of the middle watch had fallen
asleep, but little imagining that the deck was in possession of
Englishmen.  Mesty and the others retreated, to allow them all to come
up before they could perceive them, and fortunately this was
accomplished.  Four men came on the deck, looked round them, and tried
to make out in the dark where their shipmates might be.  The grating was
slapped on again by Jack, and before they could well gain their
eyesight, they were seized and secured, not, however, without a scuffle
and some noise.

By the time that these men were secured and laid between the guns it was
daylight, and they now perceived what a fine vessel they had fairly
taken possession of--but there was much to be done yet.  There was, of
course, a number of men in the ship, and, moreover, they were not a mile
from a battery of ten guns.  Mesty, who was foremost in everything, left
four men abaft and went forward on the forecastle, examined the cable,
which was _coir_ rope, and therefore easily divided, and then directed
the two men forward to coil a hawser upon the fore-grating, the weight
of which would make all safe in that quarter, and afterwards to join
them on the quarter-deck.

"Now, Mr Easy, the great ting will be to get hold of captain; we must
get him on deck.  Open cabin-hatch now, and keep the after-hatch fast.
Two men stay there, the others all come aft."

"Yes," replied Jack, "it will be a great point to secure the captain--
but how are we to get him up?"

"You no know how to get captain up?  By de holy, I know very well."

And Mesty took up the coils of rope about the mizzen-mast, and threw
them upon deck, one after another, making all the noise possible.  In a
short time there was a violent pull of a bell at the cabin door, and in
a minute afterwards a man in his shirt came up the cabin-hatchway, who
was immediately secured.

"Dis de captain's servant," said Mesty, "he come say no make such damned
noise.  Stop a little--captain get in passion, and come up himself."

And Mesty renewed the noise with the ropes over the cabin.  Mesty was
right; in a few minutes the captain himself came up, boiling with
indignation.  At the sound of the cabin door opening, the seamen and our
hero concealed themselves behind the companion-hatch, which was very
high, so as to give the captain time to get fairly on deck.  The men
already secured had been covered over with the gregos.  The captain was
a most powerful man, and it was with difficulty that he was pinioned,
and then without his giving the alarm, had there been anyone to assist
him, but as yet no one had turned out of his hammock.

"Now we all right," said Mesty, "and soon ab de ship; but I must make
him 'fraid."

The captain was seated down on the deck against one of the guns, and
Mesty, putting on the look of a demon, extended above him his long
nervous arm, with the sharp knife clutched, as if ready every instant to
strike it into his heart.  The Spanish captain felt his situation
anything but pleasant.  He was then interrogated as to the number of men
in the ship, officers, etcetera, to all which questions he answered
truly: he cast his eyes at the firm and relentless countenance of Mesty,
who appeared but to wait the signal.

"I tink all pretty safe now," said Mesty.  "Mr Easy, we now go down
below and beat all men into the hold."

Our hero approved of this suggestion.  Taking their pistols from the
capstern, they rushed down with their cutlasses, and leaving two men to
guard the cabin door, they were soon among the crew, who were all naked
in their hammocks: the resistance, although the numbers were more than
double of the English, was of course trifling.  In a few minutes, the
Spaniards were all thrown down into the hold of the vessel, and the
hatches placed over them.  Every part of the ship was now in their
possession except the cabin, and to that they all repaired.  Our hero
tried the door, and found it fast; they beat it open, and were received
with loud screams from one side of the cabin, and the discharge of two
pistols from the other, fortunately without injury: those who had fired
the pistols were an elderly man and a lad about the age of our hero.
They were thrown down and secured; the cabin was searched, and nobody
else found in it but three women; one old and shrivelled, the other two,
although with their countenances distorted with terror, were lovely as
Houris.  So thought Jack, as he took off his hat, and made them a very
low bow with his usual politeness, as they crouched, half dressed, in a
corner.  He told them in English that they had nothing to fear, and
begged that they would attend to their toilets.  The ladies made no
reply, because, in the first place, they did not know what Jack said,
and in the next, they could not speak English.

Mesty interrupted Jack in his attentions, by pointing out that they must
all go upon deck--so Jack again took off his hat and bowed, and then
followed his men, who led away the two prisoners taken in the cabin.  It
was now five o'clock in the morning, and there was movement on board of
the other vessels, which lay not far from the ship.

"Now then," said Jack, "what shall we do with the prisoners?--could we
not send the boat and bring our own vessel alongside, and put them all
in, tied as they are?  We should then get rid of them."

"Massa Easy, you be one very fine officer one of dese days.  Dat damn
good idea, anyhow;--but suppose we send our own boat, what they _tink_
on board of de oder vessel?  Lower down lilly boat from stern, put in
four men, and drop vessel 'longside--dat it."

This was done; the cutter was on the seaward side of the ship, and, as
the ship was the outermost vessel, was concealed from the view of the
Spaniards on board of the other vessels, and in the battery on shore.
As soon as the lateen vessel was alongside, the men who had already been
secured on deck, amounting to seven, were lowered into her, and laid
upon the beans in the hold; all, except the captain, the two cabin
prisoners, and the captain's servant.  They then went down below, took
off one part of the hatches, and ordered the Spaniards up from the hold:
as they came on deck they were made fast and treated in the same manner.
Mesty and the men went down to examine if there were any left
concealed, and finding that they were all out, returned on deck.  The
men who had been beaten down in the hold were twenty-two in number,
making the whole complement of thirty.  As soon as they had all been put
into the xebeque, she was again hauled off and anchored outside, and
Jack found himself in possession of a fine ship of fourteen guns, with
three prisoners male and three prisoners female.

When the men returned in the boat from the vessel in which the prisoners
had been confined (the hatches having been secured over them, by way of
further precaution), by the advice of Mesty they put on the jackets and
caps of the Spanish seamen, of which there was a plentiful supply below.

"Now what's to be done, Mesty?" inquired Jack.

"Now, sar, we send some of the men aloft to get sails all ready, and
while they do that I cast loose this fellow," pointing to the captain's
servant, "and make him get some breakfast, for he know where to find
it."

"Capital idea of yours, Mesty, for I'm tired of bean-soup already, and I
will go down and pay my respects to the ladies."

Mesty looked over the counter.

"Yes, and be quick too, Massa Easy; damn the women, they toss their
handkerchief in the air to people in the battery--quick, Massa Easy."

Mesty was right--the Spanish girls were waving their handkerchiefs for
assistance; it was all that they could do, poor things.  Jack hastened
into the cabin, laid hold of the two young ladies, very politely pulled
them out of the quarter gallery, and begged that they would not give
themselves so much trouble.  The young ladies looked very much confused,
and as they could no longer wave their handkerchiefs, they put them up
to their eyes and began to weep, while the elderly lady went on her
knees, and held her hands up for mercy.  Jack raised her up, and very
politely handed her to one of the cabin lockers.

In the meantime Mesty, with his gleaming knife and expressive look, had
done wonders with the captain's steward, for such the man was: and a
breakfast of chocolate, salt meat, hams and sausages, white biscuit and
red wine, had been spread on the quarter-deck.  The men had come from
aloft, and Jack was summoned on deck.  Jack offered his hand to the two
young ladies, and beckoned the old one to follow: the old lady did not
think it advisable to refuse his courtesy, so they accompanied him.

As soon as the females came on deck, and found the two cabin prisoners
bound, they ran to them and embraced them with tears.  Jack's heart
melted, and as there was now no fear, he asked Mesty for his knife, and
cut loose the two Spaniards, pointing to the breakfast, and requesting
that they would join them.  The Spaniards made a bow, and the ladies
thanked Jack with a sweet smile; and the captain of the vessel, who
still lay pinioned against the gun, looked, as much as to say, Why the
devil don't you ask me? but the fact was, they had had such trouble to
secure him, that Jack did not much like the idea of letting him loose
again.  Jack and the seamen commenced their breakfast, and as the ladies
and prisoners did not appear inclined to eat, they ate their share and
their own too; during which the elderly man inquired of Jack if he could
speak French.

Jack, with his mouth full of sausage, replied that he could; and then
commenced a conversation, from which Jack learned as follows:--

The elderly gentleman was a passenger with the young man, who was his
son, and the ladies, who were his wife and his two daughters, and they
were proceeding to Tarragona.  Whereupon Jack made a bow and thanked
him; and then the gentleman, whose name was Don Cordova de Rimarosa,
wished to know what Jack intended to do with them, hoping, as a
gentleman, he would put them on shore with their effects, as they were
non-combatants.  Jack explained all this to Mesty and the men, and then
finished his sausage.  The men, who were a little elevated with the wine
which they had been drinking, proposed that they should take the ladies
a cruise, and Jack at first did not dislike the idea, but he said
nothing; Mesty, however, opposed this, saying, that ladies only made a
row in a ship, and the coxswain sided with him, saying, that they should
all be at daggers drawn.  Whereupon Jack pulled out the "articles of
war," and informed the men, that there was no provision in them for
women, and therefore the thing was impossible.

The next question was, as to the propriety of allowing them to take
their effects; and it was agreed, at last, that they might take them.
Jack desired the steward to feed his master the captain, and then told
the Spanish Don the result of the consultation; further informing him,
that as soon as it was dark, he intended to put them all on board the
small vessel, when they could cast loose the men and do as they pleased.
The Don and the ladies returned thanks, and went down to pack up their
baggage; Mesty ordering two men to help them, but with a caution, that
they were not to encumber themselves with any of the money, if there
should happen to be any on board.

The crew were busy during the day making preparations for sailing.  The
coxswain had examined the provender in the ship, and found that there
was enough for at least three months, of water, wine, and provisions,
independent of luxuries for the cabin.  All thoughts of taking any more
of the vessels were abandoned, for their crew was but weak to manage the
one which they had possession of.  A fine breeze sprang up, and they
dropped their fore-topsails, just as a boat was shoving off from the
shore; but seeing the fore-topsails loosed, it put back again.  This was
fortunate, or all would have been discovered.  The other vessels also
loosed their sails, and the crews were heard weighing the anchors.

But the _Nostra Senora del Carmen_, which was Jack's prize, did not
move.  At last the sun went down, the baggage was placed in the cutter,
the ladies and passengers went into the boat, thanking Jack for his
kindness, who put his hand to his heart and bowed to the deck; and the
captain was lowered down after them.  Four men well armed pulled them
alongside of the xebeque, put them and their trunks on deck, and
returned to the ship.  The cutter was then hoisted up, and as the anchor
was too heavy to weigh, they cut the cable, and made sail.  The other
vessels followed their example.  Mesty and the seamen cast longing eyes
upon them, but it was of no use; so they sailed in company for about an
hour, and then Jack hauled his wind for a cruise.



CHAPTER FOURTEEN.

IN WHICH OUR HERO FINDS THAT DISAGREEABLE OCCURRENCES WILL TAKE PLACE ON
A CRUISE.

As soon as the ship had been hauled to the wind, Jack's ship's company
seemed to think that there was nothing to do except to make merry, so
they brought some earthen jars full of wine, and emptied them so fast
that they were soon fast asleep on the deck, with the exception of the
man at the helm, who, instead of thirty-two, could clearly make out
sixty-four points in the compass, and of course was able to steer to a
much greater nicety.  Fortunately, the weather was fine, for when the
man at the helm had steered till he could see no more, and requested to
be released, he found that his shipmates were so overpowered with
fatigue, that it was impossible to wake them.  He kicked them one by one
most unmercifully in the ribs, but it was of no use: under these
circumstances, he did as they did, that is, lay down with them, and in
ten minutes it would have taken as much kicking to awake him as he gave
his shipmates.

In the meantime the ship had it all her own way, and not knowing where
she was to go she went round and round the compass during the best part
of the night.  Mesty had arranged the watches, Jack had made a speech,
and the men had promised everything, but the wine had got into their
heads, and memory had taken that opportunity to take a stroll.  Mesty
had been down with Jack, examining the cabin, and in the captain's
state-room they had found fourteen thousand dollars in bags: of this
they determined not to tell the men, but locked up the money and every
thing else of value, and took out the key.  They then sat down at the
cabin table, and after some conversation, it was no matter of surprise,
after having been up all the night before, that Jack laid his head on
the table and fell fast asleep.  Mesty kept his eyes open for some time,
but at last his head sank down upon his chest, and he also slumbered.
Thus, about one o'clock in the morning, there was not a very good watch
kept on board of the _Nostra Senora del Carmen_.

About four o'clock in the morning, Mesty tumbled forward, and he hit his
head against the table, which roused him up.

"By de mass, I tink I almost fall asleep," cried he, and he went to the
cabin window, which had been left open, and found that there was a
strong breeze blowing in.  "By de Lord, de wind ab come more aft," said
Mesty, "why they not tell me?"  So saying, he went on deck, where he
found no one at the helm; every one drunk, and the ship with her yards
braced up running before the wind, just by way of a change.  Mesty
growled, but there was no time to lose; the topsails only were set--
these he lowered down, and then put the helm a-lee, and lashed it, while
he went down to call our hero to his assistance.  Jack roused up, and
went on deck.

"This nebber do, Massa Easy; we all go to devil together--dam drunken
dogs--I freshen um up any how."  So Mesty drew some buckets of water,
with which he soused the ship's company, who then appeared to be
recovering their senses.

"By heavens!" says Jack, "but this is contrary to the `articles of war';
I shall read them to them to-morrow morning."

"I tell what better ting, Massa Easy; we go lock up all de wine, and
sarve out so much, and no more.  I go do it at once, 'fore they wake
up."

Mesty went down, leaving Jack on deck to his meditations.

"I am not sure," thought Jack, "that I have done a very wise thing.
Here I am with a parcel of fellows who have no respect for the articles
of war, and who get as drunk as David's sow.  I have a large ship, but I
have very few hands; and if it comes on bad weather, what shall I do?--
for I know very little--hardly how to take in a sail.  Then--as for
where to steer, or how to steer, I know not--nor do any of my men; but,
however, as it was very narrow when we came into the Mediterranean,
through the straits, it is hardly possible to get out of them without
perceiving it: besides, I should know the rock of Gibraltar again, if I
saw it.  I must talk to Mesty."

Mesty soon returned with the keys of the provision-room tied to his
bandana.

"Now," says he, "they not get drunk again in a hurry."

A few more buckets of water soon brought the men to their senses: they
again stood on their legs, and gradually recovered themselves.  Daylight
broke, and they found that the vessel had made an attempt for the
Spanish coast, being within a mile of the beach, and facing a large
battery _fleur d'eau_; fortunately they had time to square the yards,
and steer the ship along shore under the top-sails, before they were
perceived.  Had they been seen at daylight in the position that they
were in during the night, the suspicions of the Spaniards would have
been awakened; and had a boat been sent off, while they were all drunk,
they must have been recaptured.

The men, who perceived what danger they had been in, listened very
penitently to Jack's remonstrances; and our hero, to impress them more
strongly on their minds, took out the articles of war, and read that on
drunkenness from beginning to end; but the men had heard it read so
often at the gangway, that it did not make a due impression.  As Mesty
said, his plan was better, and so it proved; for as soon as Jack had
done, the men went down to get another jug of wine, and found, to their
disappointment, that it was all under lock and key.

In the meantime, Jack called Mesty aft, and asked him if he knew the way
to Toulon.  Mesty declared that he knew nothing about it.

"Then, Mesty, it appears to me that we have a better chance of finding
our way back to Gibraltar; for you know the land was on our left side
all the way coming up the Mediterranean; and if we keep it, as it is
now, on our right, we shall get back again along the coast."

Mesty agreed with Jack that this was the _ne plus ultra_ of navigation:
and that old Smallsole could not do better with his "pig-yoke" and
compasses.  So they shook a reef out of the top-sails, set
top-gallant-sails, and ran directly down the coast from point to point,
keeping about five miles distant.  The men prepared a good dinner; Mesty
gave them their allowance of wine, which was just double what they had
on board the _Harpy_--so they soon appeared to be content.  One man,
indeed, talked very big and very mutinously, swearing that if the others
would join him, they would soon have liquor enough, but Mesty gave him
his look, opened his knife, and swore that he would settle him, and Jack
knocked him down with a handspike; so that, what with the punishment
received, and that which was promised, the fellow thought he might as
well say no more about it.  The fact is, that had it not been from fear
of Mesty, the whole of the men would, in all probability, have behaved
equally as bad; nevertheless, they were a little staggered, it must be
owned, at seeing Jack play so good a stick with the handspike.

After this night Jack and Mesty kept watch and watch, and everything
went on very well until they were nearly abreast of Carthagena, when a
gale came on from the northward, and drove them out of sight of land.
Sail after sail was reduced with difficulty from their having so few
hands, and the gale blew for three days with great fury.  The men were
tired out and discontented.  It was Jack's misfortune that he had but
one good man with him: even the coxswain of the boat, although a
fine-looking man, was worth nothing.  Mesty was Jack's sheet-anchor.
The fourth day the gale moderated, but they had no idea where they were:
they knew that they had been blown off, but how far they could not tell;
and Jack now began to discover that a cruise at sea without a knowledge
of navigation was a more nervous thing than he had contemplated.
However, there was no help for it: at night they wore the ship, and
stood on the other tack, and at daylight they perceived that they were
close to some small islands, and much closer to some large rocks,
against which the sea beat high, although the wind had subsided.  Again
was the helm put up, and they narrowly escaped.  As soon as the sails
were trimmed, the men came aft, and proposed that if they could find
anchorage, they should run into it, for they were quite tired out.  This
was true; and Jack consulted with Mesty, who thought it advisable to
agree to the proposal.  That the islands were not inhabited was very
evident.  The only point to ascertain was if there were good anchorage.
The coxswain offered to go in the boat and examine; and, with four men,
he set off, and in about an hour returned, stating that there was plenty
of water, and that it was as smooth as a mill-pond, being land-locked on
every side.  As they could not weigh the bower-anchor, they bent the
kedge, and, running in without accident, came to in a small bay, between
the islands, in seven fathoms water.  The sails were furled, and
everything put in order by the seamen, who then took the boat and pulled
on shore.  "They might as well have asked leave," thought Jack.  In an
hour they returned, and, after a short discussion, came aft to our hero
in a body.

The coxswain was spokesman.  He said that they had had hard work, and
required now to have some rest,--that there were provisions on board for
three months, so that there could not be any hurry,--and that they had
found they could pitch a tent very well on shore, and live there for a
short time,--and that as there was no harm in getting drunk on shore,
they expected that they might be allowed to take provisions and plenty
of wine with them; and that the men had desired him to ask leave,
because they were determined to go, whether or no.  Jack was about to
answer with the handspike; but perceiving that the men had all put on
their cutlasses, and had their pistols at their belts, he thought proper
to consult Mesty, who, perceiving that resistance was useless, advised
Jack to submit, observing, that the sooner all the wine was gone the
better, as there would be nothing done while it lasted.  Jack,
therefore, very graciously told them, that they should have their own
way, and he would stay there as long as they pleased.  Mesty gave them
the keys of the provision-hatch, and told them, with a grin, to help
themselves.  The men then informed Jack that he and Mesty should stay on
board, and take care of the ship for them, and that they would take the
Spaniard on shore to cook their victuals; but to this Jack observed,
that if he had not two hands, he could not obey their orders, in case
they wished him to come on shore for them.  The men thought there was
good argument in that observation, and therefore allowed Jack to retain
the Spaniard, that he might be more prompt to their call from the beach:
they then wished him good day, and begged that he would amuse himself
with the "articles of war."

As soon as they had thrown a spare sail into the boat, with some spars
to make a tent, and some bedding, they went down below, hoisted up two
pipes of wine out of the three, a bag or two of biscuit, arms and
ammunition, and as much of the salt provisions as they thought they
might require.  The boat being full, they shoved off, with three cheers
of derision.  Jack was sensible to the compliment: he stood at the
gangway, took off his hat, and made them a polite bow.

As soon as they were gone, Mesty grinned with his sharp-filed teeth, and
looking at our hero, said:

"I tink I make um pay for all dis--stop a little; by de piper as played
before Moses, but our turn come by-and-by."

As for Jack, he said nothing, but he thought the more.  In about an hour
the men returned in the boat: they had forgotten many things they
wanted--wood to make a fire, and several utensils; they helped
themselves freely, and having now everything that they could think of,
they again went on shore.

"How damn lucky we never tell dem about the dollars," said Mesty, as
Jack and he were watching the motions of the men.

"It is, indeed," replied Jack, "not that they could spend them here."

"No, Massa Easy, but suppose they find all that money, they take boat
and go away with it.  Now, I hab them in my clutch--stop a little."

A narrow piece of salt pork had been left at the gangway: Jack, without
knowing why, tossed it over board; being almost all fat it sank very
gradually: Jack watched it as it disappeared, so did Mesty, both full of
thought, when they perceived a dark object rising under it: it was a
ground shark, who took it into his maw, sank down, and disappeared.

"What was that?" said Jack.

"That ground shark, Massa Easy,--worst shark of all; you neber see him
till you feel him;" and Mesty's eyes sparkled with pleasure.  "By de
powers, they soon stop de mutiny; now I hab 'em."

Jack shuddered and walked away.

During the day, the men on shore were seen to work hard, and make all
the preparations before they abandoned themselves to the sensual
gratification of intemperance.  The tent was pitched, the fire was
lighted, and all the articles taken on shore rolled up and stowed away
in their places; they were seen to sit down and dine, for they were
within hail of the ship, and then one of the casks of wine was spiled.
In the meantime the Spaniard, who was a quiet lad, had prepared the
dinner for Easy and his now only companion.  The evening closed, and all
was noise and revelry on shore; and as they danced, and sung, and tossed
off the cans of wine by the light of the fire, as they hallooed and
screamed, and became more and more intoxicated, Mesty turned to Jack
with his bitter smile, and only said:

"Stop a little."

At last the noise grew fainter, the fire died away, and gradually all
was silent.  Jack was still hanging over the gangway when Mesty came up
to him.  The new moon had just risen, and Jack's eyes were fixed upon
it.

"Now, Massa Easy, please you come aft and lower down little boat; take
your pistols and then we go on shore and bring off the cutter; they all
asleep now."

"But why should we leave them without a boat, Mesty?" for Jack thought
of the sharks, and the probability of the men attempting to swim off.

"I tell you, sar, this night they get drunk, to morrow they get drunk
again, but drunken men never keep quiet--suppose one man say to others,
`Let's go aboard and kill officer, and then we do as we please,' they
all say yes, and they all come and do it.  No, sar--must have boat--if
not for your sake, I must hab it, save my own life anyhow, for they hate
me and kill me first;--by de powers, stop a little."

Jack felt the truth of Mesty's observation; he went aft with him,
lowered down the small boat, and they hauled it alongside.  Jack went
down with Mesty into the cabin and fetched his pistols--"And the
Spaniard, Mesty, can we leave him on board alone?"

"Yes, sar, he no got arms, and he see dat we have--but suppose he find
arms he never dare do any thing--I know de man."

Our hero and Mesty went down into the boat and shoved off, pulling
gently on shore; the men were in a state of intoxication, so as not to
be able to move, much less hear.  They cast off the cutter, towed her on
board, and made her fast with the other boat astern.

"Now, sar, we may go to bed; to-morrow morning you will see."

"They have everything they require on shore," replied Easy; "all they
could want with the cutter would be to molest us."

"Stop a little," replied Mesty.

Jack and Mesty went to bed, and as a precaution against the Spaniard,
which was hardly necessary, Mesty locked the cabin door--but Mesty never
forgot anything.

Jack slept little that night--had melancholy forebodings which he could
not shake off; indeed, Jack had reflected so much since he had left the
ship, he had had his eyes so much opened, and had felt what a
responsibility he had taken by indulging himself in a whim of the
moment, that it might be almost said that in the course of one fortnight
he had at once from a boy sprung up into a man.  He was mortified and
angry, but he was chiefly so with himself.

Mesty was up at daylight and Jack soon followed him: they watched the
party on shore, who had not yet left the tent.  At last, just as Jack
had finished his breakfast, one or two made their appearance: the men
looked about them as if they were searching for something, and then
walked down to the beach, to where the boat had been made fast.  Jack
looked at Mesty, who grinned, and answered with the words so often
repeated:

"Stop a little."

The men then walked along the rocks until they were abreast of the ship.

"Ship ahoy!"

"Halloo," replied Mesty.

"Bring the boat ashore directly, with a breaker of water."

"I knew dat," cried Mesty, rubbing his hands with delight.  "Massy Easy,
you must tell them No."

"But why should I not give them water, Mesty?"

"Because, sar, den they take boat."

"Very true," replied Easy.

"Do you hear on board?" cried the coxswain, who was the man who
hailed--"send the boat immediately, or we'll cut the throats of every
mother's son of you, by God!"

"I shall not send the boat," replied Jack, who now thought Mesty was
right.

"You won't--won't you?--then your doom's sealed," replied the man,
walking up to the tent with the other.  In a short time all the seamen
turned out of the tent, bringing with them four muskets, which they had
taken on shore with them.

"Good heavens! they are not, surely, going to fire at us, Mesty."

"Stop a little."

The men then came down abreast of the ship, and the coxswain again
hailed, and asked if they would bring the boat on shore.

"You must say No, sar," replied Mesty.

"I feel I must," replied Jack, and then he answered the coxswain, "No."

The plan of the mutineers had been foreseen by the wily negro--it was to
swim off to the boats which were riding astern, and to fire at him or
Jack, if they attempted to haul them up alongside and defend them.  To
get into the boats, especially the smaller one, from out of the water,
was easy enough.  Some of the men examined their priming and held the
muskets at their hips all ready, with the muzzles towards the ship,
while the coxswain and two men were throwing off their clothes.

"Stop, for God's sake, stop!" cried Jack "The harbour is full of ground
sharks--it is, upon my soul!"

"Do you think to frighten us with ground sharks?" replied the coxswain,
"keep under cover, my lad; Jack, give him a shot to prove we are in
earnest, and every time he or that nigger show their heads, give them
another, my lads."

"For God's sake, don't attempt to swim," said Jack, in an agony; "I will
try some means to give you water."

"Too late now--you're doomed;" and the coxswain sprang off the rock into
the sea, and was followed by two other men: at the same moment a musket
was discharged, and the bullet whistled close to our hero's ear.

Mesty dragged Jack from the gangway, who was now nearly fainting from
agonising feelings.  He sank on the deck for a moment, and then sprang
up and ran to the port to look at the men in the water.  He was just in
time to see the coxswain raise himself with a loud yell out of the sea,
and then disappear in a vortex, which was crimsoned with his blood.

Mesty threw down his musket in his hand, of which he had several all
ready loaded, in case the men should have gained the boats.

"By the powers, dat no use now!"

Jack had covered his face with his hands.  But the tragedy was now
complete: the other men, who were in the water, had immediately turned
and made for the shore; but before they could reach it, two more of
those voracious monsters, attracted by the blood of the coxswain, had
flown to the spot, and there was a contention for the fragments of their
bodies.

Mesty, who had seen this catastrophe, turned towards our hero, who still
hid his face.

"I'm glad he no see dat, anyhow," muttered Mesty.

"See what?" exclaimed Jack.

"Shark eat 'em all."

"Oh, horrid, horrid!" groaned our hero.

"Yes, sar, very horrid," replied Mesty, "and dat bullet at your head
very horrid.  Suppose the sharks no take them, what then?  They kill us,
and the sharks have our body.  I think that more horrid still."

"Mesty," replied Jack, seizing the negro convulsively by the arm, "it
was not the sharks--it was I--I who have murdered these men."

Mesty looked at Jack with surprise.

"How dat possible?"

"If I had not disobeyed orders," replied our hero, panting for breath,
"if I had not shown them the example of disobedience, this would not
have happened.  How could I expect submission from them?  It's all my
fault--I see it now--and, O God! when will the sight be blotted from my
memory?"

"Massa Easy, I not understand that," replied Mesty: "I think you talk
foolish--might as well say, suppose Ashantee men not make war, this not
happen; for suppose Ashantee not make war, I not slave--I not run away--
I not come board _Harpy_--I not go in boat with you--I not hinder men
from getting drunk--and that why they make mutiny--and the mutiny why
the shark take um?"

Jack made no reply, but he felt some consolation from the
counter-argument of the negro.

The dreadful death of the three mutineers appeared to have had a
sensible effect upon their companions, who walked away from the beach
with their heads down and with measured steps.  They were now seen to be
perambulating the island, probably in search of that water which they
required.  At noon, they returned to their tent, and soon afterwards
were in a state of intoxication, hallooing and shouting as the day
before.  Towards the evening they came down to the beach abreast of the
ship, each with a vessel in their hands, and perceiving that they had
attracted the notice of our hero and Mesty, tossed the contents of the
vessels up in the air to show that they had found water, and hooting and
deriding, went back, dancing, leaping, and kicking up their heels, to
renew their orgies, which continued till after mid night, when they were
all stupified as before.

The next day Jack had recovered from the first shock which the
catastrophe had given him, and he called Mesty into the cabin to hold a
consultation.

"Mesty, how is this to end?"

"How do you mean, sar?--end here, or end on board of de _Harpy_?"

"The _Harpy_!--there appears little chance of our seeing her again--we
are on a desolate island, or what is the same thing; but we will hope
that it will be so: but how is this mutiny to end?"

"Massa Easy, suppose I please I make it end very soon, but I not in a
hurry."

"How do you mean, Mesty, not in a hurry?"

"Look, Massa Easy, you wish take a cruise, and I wish the same ting: now
because mutiny you want to go back--but, by all de powers, you tink that
I, a prince in my own country, feel wish to go back and boil kettle for
de young gentlemen.  No, Massa Easy, gib me mutiny--gib me anyting--
but--once I was prince," replied Mesty, lowering his voice at the last
few emphatic words.

"You must one of these days tell me your history, Mesty," replied Jack;
"but just now let us argue the point in question.  How could you put an
end to this mutiny?"

"By putting an end to all wine.  Suppose I go shore after they all
drunk, I spile the casks in three or four places, and in the morning all
wine gone--den dey ab get sober, and beg pardon--we take dem on board,
put away all arms 'cept yours and mine, and I like to see the mutiny
after dat.  Blood and 'ounds--but I settle um, anyhow."

"The idea is very good, Mesty--why should we not do so?"

"Because I not like run de risk to go ashore--all for what? to go back,
boil de kettle for all gentlemans--I very happy here, Massa," replied
Mesty carelessly.

"And I am very miserable," replied Jack; "but, however, I am completely
in your power, Mesty, and I must, I suppose, submit."

"What you say, Massa Easy--submit to me?--no, sar, when you are on board
_Harpy_ as officer, you talk with me as a friend, and not treat me as
negro servant.  Massa Easy, I feel--I feel what I am," continued Mesty,
striking his bosom, "I feel it here--for all first time since I leave my
country, I feel dat I am someting; but, Massa Easy, I love my friend as
much as I hate my enemy--and you neber submit to me--I too proud to
allow dat, 'cause, Massa Easy--I am a man--and once I was a prince."

Although Mesty did not perhaps explain by words half so well as he did
by his countenance, the full tide of feeling which was overflowing in
his heart, Jack fully understood and felt it.  He extended his hand to
Mesty, and said:

"Mesty--that you have been a prince, I care little about, although I
doubt it not, because you are incapable of a lie; but you are a man, and
I respect you, nay, I love you as a friend--and with my will we never
part again."

Mesty took the hand offered by Jack.  It was the first peace-offering
ever extended to him, since, he had been torn away from his native
land--the first compliment, the first tribute, the first acknowledgment,
perhaps, that he was not an inferior being; he pressed it in silence,
for he could not speak; but could the feelings which were suffocating
the negro but have been laid before sceptics, they must have
acknowledged that at that moment they were all and only such as could do
honour, not only to the prince, but even to the Christian.  So much was
Mesty affected with what had happened, that when he dropped the hand of
our hero, he went down into the cabin, finding it impossible to continue
the conversation, which was not renewed until the next morning.

"What is your opinion, Mesty?--tell me, and I will be governed by it."

"Den, sar, I tell you I tink it right that they first come and ask to
come on board before you take them--and, sar, I tink it also right, as
we are but two and they are five, dat they first eat all their
provision--let 'em starve plenty, and den dey come on board tame
enough."

"At all events," replied Jack, "the first overtures of some kind or
another must come from them.  I wish I had something to do--I do not
much like this cooping up on board ship."

"Massa, why you no talk with Pedro?"

"Because I cannot speak Spanish."

"I know dat, and dat why I ask de question.  You very sorry when you
meet the two pretty women in the ship, you not able to talk with them--I
guess that."

"I was very sorry, I grant," replied Jack.

"Well, Massa Easy, by-and-by we see more Spanish girl.  Why not talk all
day with Pedro, and den you able to talk with dem."

"Upon my word, Mesty, I never had an idea of your value.  I will learn
all the Spanish that I can," replied Jack, who was glad to have
employment found for him, and was quite disgusted with the articles of
war.

As for the men on shore, they continued the same course, if not as
before, one day succeeded another, and without variety.  It was,
however, to be observed, that the fire was now seldomer lighted, which
proved their fuel scarce, and the weather was not so warm as it had
been, for it was now October.  Jack learnt Spanish from Pedro for a
month, during which there was no appearance of submission on the part of
the mutineers, who, for the first fortnight, when intoxicated, used to
come down and fire at Jack or Mesty, when they made their appearance.
Fortunately drunken men are not good marksmen, but latterly this had
been discontinued, because they had expended their ammunition--and they
appeared to have almost forgotten that the ship was there, for they took
no notice of her whatever.

On the other hand, Jack had decided that if he waited there a year, the
overtures should come from them who had mutinied; and now, having an
occupation, he passed his time very quietly, and the days flew so fast
that two months had actually been run off the calendar, before he had an
idea of it.

One evening, as they were down in the cabin, for the evenings had now
become very cold, Jack asked Mesty whether he had any objection to give
him a history of his life.  Mesty replied, that if he wished he was
ready to talk; and at a nod from our hero, Mesty commenced as follows.



CHAPTER FIFTEEN.

IN WHICH MUTINY, LIKE FIRE, IS QUENCHED FOR WANT OF FUEL AND NO WANT OF
WATER.

Although we have made the African negro hitherto talk in his own mixed
jargon, yet, as we consider that, in a long narration, it will be
tedious to the reader, we shall now translate the narrative part into
good English, merely leaving the conversation with which it may be
broken in its peculiar dialect.

"The first thing I recollect," said Mesty, "is that I was carried on the
shoulders of a man with my legs hanging down before, and holding on by
his head.

"Every one used to look at me, and get out of the way, as I rode through
the town and market place, so loaded with heavy gold ornaments that I
could not bear them, and was glad when the women took them off: but, as
I grew older I became proud of them, because I knew that I was the son
of a king--I lived happy, I did nothing but shoot my arrows, and I had a
little sword which I was taught to handle, and the great captains who
were about my father showed me how to kill my enemies.  Some times I lay
under the shady trees, sometimes I was with the women belonging to my
father, sometimes I was with him and played with the skulls, and
repeated the names of those to whom they had belonged, for in our
country, when we kill our enemies, we keep their skulls as trophies.

"As I grew older, I did as I pleased; I beat the women and the slaves; I
think I killed some of the latter--I know I did one, to try whether I
could strike well with my two-handed sword made of hard and heavy wood--
but that is nothing in our country.  I longed to be a great captain, and
I thought of nothing else but war and fighting, and how many skulls I
should have in my possession when I had a house and wives of my own, and
I was no longer a boy.  I went out in the woods to hunt, and I stayed
for weeks.  And one day I saw a panther basking in the sun, waving his
graceful tail.  I crept up softly till I was behind a rock within three
yards of it, and drawing my arrow to the head I pierced him through the
body.  The animal bounded up in the air, saw me, roared and made a
spring, but I dropped behind the rock, and he passed over me.  He turned
again to me, but I had my knife ready, and, as he fixed his talons into
my shoulder and breast, I pierced him to the heart.  This was the
happiest day of my life; I had killed a panther without assistance, and
I had wounds to show.  Although I was severely hurt, I thought nothing
of it.  I took off the skin as my blood dropped down and mixed with that
of the beast--but I rejoiced in it.  Proudly did I go into the town
dripping with gore and smarting with pain.  Every one extolled the feat,
called me a hero and a great captain.  I filed my teeth, and I became a
man.

"From that day I ranked among the warriors, and, as soon as my wounds
were healed, I went out to battle.  In three fights I had gained five
skulls, and when I returned they weighed me out gold.  I then had a
house and wives, and my father appointed me a Caboceer.  I wore the
plume of eagle and ostrich feathers, my dress was covered with fetishes,
I pulled on the boots with bells, and with my bow and arrows slung on my
back, my spear and blunderbuss, my knives and my double-handed sword, I
led the men to battle and brought back skulls and slaves.  Every one
trembled at my name, and, if my father threatened to send me out,
gold-dust covered the floor of his hall of council--Now, I boil the
kettle for the young gentlemen.

"There was one man I liked.  He was not a warrior, or I should have
hated him, but he was brought up with me in my father's house, and was a
near relative.  I was grave and full of pride, he was gay and fond of
music; and although there was no music to me equal to the tom-tom, yet I
did not always wish for excitement.  I often was melancholy, and then I
liked to lay my head in the lap of one of my wives, under the shady
forest behind my house, and listen to his soft music.  At last he went
to a town near us where his father lived, and as he departed I gave him
gold-dust.  He had been sent to my father to be formed into a warrior,
but he had no strength of body, and he had no soul; still I loved him
because he was not like myself.  There was a girl in the town who was
beautiful; many asked for her as their wife, but her father had long
promised her to my friend; he refused even the greatest warrior of the
place, who went away in wrath to the fetish-man, and throwing him his
gold armlets asked for a fetish against his rival.  It was given, and
two days before he was to be married my friend died.  His mother came to
me, and it was enough.  I put on my war dress, I seized my weapons, sat
for a whole day with my skulls before me, working up my revenge, called
out my men, and that night set off for the town where the warrior
resided, killed two of his relatives and carried off ten of his slaves.
When he heard what I had done, he trembled and sent gold; but I knew
that he had taken the girl home as his wife, and I would not listen to
the old man who sought to pacify me.  Again I collected a larger force,
and attacked him in the night: we fought, for he was prepared with his
men, but after a struggle he was beaten back.  I fired his house, wasted
his provision ground, and taking away more slaves, I returned home with
my men, intending soon to assault him again.  The next day there came
more messengers, who knelt in vain, so they went to my father, and many
warriors begged him to interfere.  My father sent for me, but I would
not listen; the warriors spoke, and I turned my back: my father was
wroth and threatened, the warriors brandished their two-handed swords--
they dared to do it; I looked over my shoulder with contempt, and I
returned to my house.  I took down my skulls, and I planned.  It was
evening, and I was alone, when a woman covered up to the eyes
approached; she fell down before me as she exposed her face.

"`I am the girl who was promised to your relation, and I am now the wife
of your enemy.  I shall be a mother.  I could not love your relation,
for he was no warrior.  It is not true that my husband asked for a
fetish--it was I who bought it, for I would not wed him.  Kill me and be
satisfied.'

"She was very beautiful, and I wondered not that my enemy loved her--and
she was with child--it was his child, and she had fetished my friend to
death.  I raised my sword to strike, and she did not shrink: it saved
her life.  `Thou art fit to be the mother of warriors,' said I, as I
dropped my sword, `and thou shalt be my wife, but first his child shall
be born, and I will have thy husband's skull.'

"`No, no,' replied she, `I will be the mother of no warriors but my
present husband, whom I love; if you keep me as your slave I will die.'

"I told her she said foolish things, and sent her to the women's
apartment, with orders to be watched--but she hardly had been locked up
before she drew her knife, plunged it into her heart, and died.

"When the king my father heard this he sent me a message--`Be satisfied
with the blood that has been shed, it is enough'--but I turned away, for
I wished for mine enemy's skull.  That night I attacked him again, and
met him hand to hand; I killed him, and carried home his skull, and I
was appeased.

"But all the great warriors were wroth, and my father could not restrain
them.  They called out their men, and I called out my men, and I had a
large body, for my name was terrible.  But the force raised against me
was twice that of mine, and I retreated to the bush--after a while we
met and fought and I killed many, but my men were too few and were
overpowered--the fetish had been sent out against me, and their hearts
melted; at last I sank down with my wounds, for I bled at every pore,
and I told my men who were about me to take off my feathers, and my
dress and boots, that my enemies might not have my skull: they did so,
and I crawled into the bush to die.  But I was not to die; I was
recovering, when I was discovered by those who steal men to sell them: I
was bound, and fastened to a chain with many more.  I, a prince and a
warrior, who could show the white skulls of his enemies--I offered to
procure gold, but they derided me; they dragged me down to the coast,
and sold me to the Whites.  Little did I think, in my pride, that I
should be a slave.  I knew that I was to die, and hoped to die in
battle: my skull would have been more prized than all the gold in the
earth, and my skin would have been stuffed and hung up in a
fetish-house--instead of which, I now boil the kettle for the young
gentlemen."

"Well," replied Jack, "that's better than being killed and stuffed."

"Mayhap it is," replied Mesty, "I tink very different now dan I tink
den--but still, its women's work and not suit me.

"They put me with others into a cave until the ship came, and then we
were sent on board, put in irons, and down in the hold, where you could
not sit upright--I wanted to die, but could not: others died every day,
but I lived--I was landed in America, all bone, and I fetched very
little money--they laughed at me as they bid their dollars: at last a
man took me away, and I was on a plantation with hundreds more, but too
ill to work, and not intending to work.  The other slaves asked me if I
was a fetish-man; I said yes, and I would fetish any man that I did not
like: one man laughed, and I held up my finger; I was too weak to get
up, for my blood had long boiled with fever, and I said to him, `_you
shall die_;' for I meant to have killed him, as soon as I was well.  He
went away, and in three days he was dead.  I don't know how, but all the
slaves feared me, and my master feared me, for he had seen the man die,
and he, although he was a white man, believed in fetish, and he wished
to sell me again, but no one would buy a fetish-man, so he made friends
with me; for I told him, if I was beat he should die, and he believed
me.  He took me into his house, and I was his chief man, and I would not
let the other slaves steal, and he was content.  He took me with him to
New York, and there after two years, when I had learned English, I ran
away, and got on board of an English ship--and they told me to cook.  I
left the ship as soon as I came to England, and offered myself to
another, and they said they did not want a cook; and I went to another,
and they asked me if I was a good cook: everybody seemed to think that a
black man must be a cook, and nothing else.  At last I starve, and I go
on board man-of-war, and here I am, after having been a warrior and a
prince, cook, steward and everyting else, boiling kettle for de young
gentlemen."

"Well," replied Jack, "at all events that is better than being a slave."

Mesty made no reply: any one who knows the life of a midshipman's
servant will not be surprised at his silence.

"Now, tell me, do you think you were right in being so revengeful, when
you were in your own country?" inquired Jack.

"I tink so den, Massa Easy, sometimes when my blood boil, I tink so
now--oder time, I no know what to tink--but when a man love very much,
he hate very much."

"But you are now a Christian, Mesty."

"I hear all that your people say," replied the negro, "and it make me
tink--I no longer believe in fetish, anyhow."

"Our religion tells us to love our enemies."

"Yes, I heard parson say dat--but den what we do with our friends, Massy
Easy?"

"Love them too."

"I no understand dat, Massa Easy--I love you, because you good, and
treat me well--Mr Vigors, he bully, and treat me ill--how possible to
love him?  By de power, I hate him, and wish I had him _skull_.  You
tink little Massa Gossett love him?"

"No," replied Jack, laughing, "I'm afraid that he would like to have his
skull as well as you, Mesty--but at all events we must try and forgive
those who injure us."

"Then, Massa Easy, I tink so too--too much revenge very bad--it very
easy to hate, but not very easy to forgive--so I tink that if a man
forgive he hab _more soul_ in him, he more of a _man_."

"After all," thought Jack, "Mesty is about as good a Christian as most
people."

"What that?" cried Mesty, looking out of the cabin window--"Ah! damn
drunken dogs--they set fire to tent."

Jack looked, and perceived that the tent on shore was in flames.

"I tink these cold nights cool their courage any how," observed
Mesty--"Massa Easy, you see they soon ask permission to come on board."

Jack thought so too, and was most anxious to be off, for, on looking
into the lockers in the state-room, he had found a chart of the
Mediterranean, which he had studied very attentively--he had found out
the rock of Gibraltar, and had traced the _Harpy's_ course up to Cape de
Gatte, and thence to Tarragona--and, after a while, had summoned Mesty
to a cabinet council.

"See, Mesty," said Jack, "I begin to make it out; here is Gibraltar, and
Cape de Gatte, and Tarragona--it was hereabout we were when we took the
ship, and, if you recollect, we had passed Cape de Gatte two days before
we were blown off from the land, so that we had gone about twelve
inches, and had only four more to go."

"Yes, Massa Easy, I see all dat."

"Well, then, we were blown off shore by the wind, and must of course
have come down this way; and here you see are three little islands,
called Zaffarine Islands, and with no names of towns upon them, and
therefore uninhabited; and you see they lie just like the islands we are
anchored among now--we must be at the Zaffarine Islands--and only six
inches from Gibraltar."

"I see, Massa Easy, dat all right--but six debbelish long inches."

"Now, Mesty, you know the compass on the deck has a flourishing thing
for the north point--and here is a compass with a north point also.  Now
the north point from the Zaffarine Islands leads out to the Spanish
coast again, and Gibraltar lies five or six points of the compass to
this side of it--if we steer that way we shall get to Gibraltar."

"All right, Massa Easy," replied Mesty; and Jack was right, with the
exception of the variation, which he knew nothing about.

To make sure, Jack brought one of the compasses down from deck, and
compared them.  He then lifted off the glass, counted the points of the
compass to the westward, and marked the corresponding one on the
binnacle compass with his pen.

"There," said he, "that is the way to Gibraltar, and as soon as the
mutiny is quelled, and the wind is fair, I'll be off."



CHAPTER SIXTEEN.

IN WHICH JACK'S CRUISE IS ENDED, AND HE REGAINS THE HARPY.

A few more days passed, and, as was expected, the mutineers could hold
out no longer.  In the first place, they had put in the spile of the
second cask of wine so loosely when they were tipsy that it dropped out,
and all the wine ran out, so that there had been none left for three or
four days; in the next, their fuel had long been expended, and they had
latterly eaten their meat raw the loss of their tent, which had been
fired by their carelessness, had been followed by four days and nights
of continual rain.  Everything they had had been soaked through and
through, and they were worn out, shivering with cold, and starving.
Hanging they thought better than dying by inches from starvation; and,
yielding to the imperious demands of hunger, they came down to the
beach, abreast of the ship, and dropped down on their knees.

"I tell you so, Massa Easy," said Mesty: "damn rascals, they forget they
come down fire musket at us every day: by all de powers, Mesty not
forget it."

"Ship ahoy!" cried one of the men on shore.

"What do you want?" replied Jack.

"Have pity on us, sir--mercy!" exclaimed the other men, "we will return
to our duty."

"Debbil doubt 'em!"

"What shall I say, Mesty?"

"Tell 'em no, first, Massa Easy--tell 'em to starve and be damned."

"I cannot take mutineers on board," replied Jack.

"Well, then, our blood be on your hands, Mr Easy," replied the first
man who had spoken.  "If we are to die, it must not be by inches--if you
will not take us, the sharks shall--it is but a crunch, and all is over.
What do you say, my lads? let's all rush in together: good-bye, Mr
Easy, I hope you'll forgive us when we're dead it was all that rascal
Johnson, the coxswain, who persuaded us.  Come, my lads, it's no use
thinking of it, the sooner done the better--let us shake hands, and then
make one run of it."

It appeared that the poor fellows had already made up their minds to do
this, if our hero, persuaded by Mesty, had refused to take them on
board.  They shook hands all round, and then walking a few yards from
the beach, stood in a line while the man gave the signal--one--two.

"Stop," cried Jack, who had not forgotten the dreadful scene which had
already taken place,--"stop."

The men paused.

"What will you promise if I take you on board?"

"To do our duty cheerfully till we join the ship, and then be hung as an
example to all mutineers," replied the men.

"Dat very fair," replied Mesty; "take dem at their word, Massa Easy."

"Very well," replied Jack, "I accept your conditions; and we will come
for you."

Jack and Mesty hauled up the boat, stuck their pistols in their belts,
and pulled to the shore.  The men, as they stepped in, touched their
hats respectfully to our hero, but said nothing.  On their arrival on
board Jack read that part of the articles of war relative to mutiny, by
which the men were reminded of the very satisfactory fact, "that they
were to suffer death;" and then made a speech which, to men who were
starving, appeared to be interminable.  However, there is an end to
everything in this world, and so there was to Jack's harangue; after
which Mesty gave them some biscuit, which they devoured in thankfulness,
until they could get something better.  The next morning the wind was
fair, they weighed their hedge with some difficulty, and ran out of the
harbour: the men appeared very contrite, worked well, but in silence,
for they had no very pleasant anticipations; but hope always remains
with us; and each of the men, although he had no doubt but that the
others would be hung, hoped that he would escape with a sound flogging.
The wind, however, did not allow them to steer their course long; before
night it was contrary, and they fell off three points to the northward.
"However," as Jack observed, "at all events we shall make the Spanish
coast, and then we must run down it to Gibraltar: I don't care--I under
stand navigation much better than I did."  The next morning they found
themselves, with a very light breeze, under a high cape, and, as the sun
rose, they observed a large vessel inshore, about two miles to the
westward of them, and another outside, about four miles off.  Mesty took
the glass and examined the one outside, which, on a sudden, had let fall
all her canvas, and was now running for the shore, steering for the cape
under which Jack's vessel lay.  Mesty put down the glass.

"Massa Easy--I tink dat de _Harpy_."

One of the seamen took the glass and examined her, while the others who
stood by showed great agitation.

"Yes, it is the _Harpy_," said the seaman.  "Oh Mr Easy, will you
forgive us?" continued the man, and he and the others fell on their
knees.  "Do not tell all, for God's sake, Mr Easy."

Jack's heart melted; he looked at Mesty.

"I tink," said Mesty apart to our hero, "dat with what them hab suffer
already, suppose they get _seven dozen apiece_, dat quite enough."

Jack thought that even half that punishment would suffice; so he told
the men, that although he must state what had occurred, he would not
tell all, and would contrive to get them off as well as he could.  He
was about to make a long speech, but a gun from the _Harpy_, which had
now come up within range, made him defer it till a more convenient
opportunity.  At the same time the vessel in shore hoisted Spanish
colours, and fired a gun.

"By de powers, but we got in the middle of it," cried Mesty; "_Harpy_
tink us Spaniard.  Now, my lads, get all gun ready, bring up powder and
shot.  Massa, now us fire at Spaniard--Harpy not fire at us--no ab
English colours on board--dat all we must do."

The men set to with a will; the guns were all loaded, and were soon cast
loose and primed, during which operations it fell calm, and the sails of
all three vessels flapped against their masts.  The _Harpy_ was then
about two miles from Jack's vessel, and the Spaniard about a mile from
him, with all her boats ahead of her, towing towards him; Mesty examined
the Spanish vessel.

"Dat man-o'-war, Massa Easy--what de debbil we do for colour? must hoist
someting."

Mesty ran down below; he recollected that there was a very gay
petticoat, which had been left by the old lady who was in the vessel
when they captured her.  It was of green silk, with yellow and blue
flowers, but very faded, having probably been in the Don's family for a
century.  Mesty had found it under the mattress of one of the beds, and
had put it into his bag, intending probably to cut it up into
waistcoats.  He soon appeared with this under his arm, made it fast to
the peak halyards and hoisted it up.

"Dere, massa, dat do very well--dat what you call _all nation colour_.
Everybody strike him flag to dat--men nebber pull it down," said Mesty,
"anyhow.  Now den, ab hoist colour, we fire away--mind you only fire one
gun at a time, and point um well, den ab time to load again."

"She's hoisted her colours, sir," said Sawbridge, on board of the
_Harpy_; "but they do not show out clear, and it's impossible to
distinguish them; but there's a gun."

"It's not at us, sir," said Gascoigne, the midshipman; "its at the
Spanish vessel--I saw the shot fall ahead of her."

"It must be a privateer," said Captain Wilson, "at all events, it is
very fortunate, for the corvette would otherwise have towed into
Carthagena.  Another gun, round and grape, and well pointed too; she
carries heavy metal, that craft; she must be a Maltese privateer."

"That's as much as to say that she's a pirate," replied Sawbridge; "I
can make nothing of her colours--they appear to me to be green--she must
be a Turk.  Another gun--and devilish well aimed; it has hit the boats."

"Yes, they are all in confusion: we will have her now, if we can only
get a trifle of wind.  That is a breeze coming up in the offing.  Trim
the sails, Mr Sawbridge."

The yards were squared, and the _Harpy_ soon had steerage way.  In the
meantime Jack and his few men had kept up a steady, well-directed,
although slow, fire with their larboard guns upon the Spanish corvette;
and two of her boats had been disabled.  The _Harpy_ brought the breeze
up with her, and was soon within range; she steered to cut off the
corvette, firing only her bow-chasers.

"We ab her now," cried Mesty, "fire away--men take good aim.  Breeze
come now; one man go to helm.  By de power, what dat?"

The exclamation of Mesty was occasioned by a shot hulling the ship on
the starboard side.  Jack and he ran over, and perceived that three
Spanish gun-boats had just made their appearance round the point, and
had attacked them.  The fact was, that on the other side of the cape was
the port and town of Carthagena, and these gun-boats had been sent out
to the assistance of the corvette.  The ship had now caught the breeze,
fortunately for Jack, or he would probably have been taken into
Carthagena; and the corvette, finding herself cut off by both the
_Harpy_ and Jack's vessel, as soon as the breeze came up to her, put her
head the other way, and tried to escape by running westward along the
coast close in shore.  Another shot, and then another, pierced the hull
of the ship, and wounded two of Jack's men; but as the corvette had
turned, and the _Harpy_ followed her, of course Jack did the same, and
in ten minutes he was clear of the gun-boats, which did not venture to
make sail and stand after him.  The wind now freshened fast, and blew
out the green petticoat, but the _Harpy_ was exchanging broadsides with
the corvette, and too busy to look after Jack's ensign.  The Spaniard
defended himself well, and had the assistance of the batteries as he
passed, but there was no anchorage until he had run many miles farther.
About noon the wind died away, and at one o'clock it again fell nearly
calm; but the _Harpy_ had neared her distance, and was now within three
cables' length of her antagonist, engaging her and a battery of four
guns.  Jack came up again, for he had the last of the breeze, and was
about half a mile from the corvette when it fell calm.  By the advice of
Mesty, he did not fire any more, or otherwise the _Harpy_ would not
obtain so much credit, and it was evident that the fire of the Spaniard
slackened fast.  At three o'clock the Spanish colours were hauled down,
and the _Harpy_, sending a boat on board and taking possession, directed
her whole fire upon the battery, which was soon silenced.

The calm continued, and the _Harpy_ was busy enough with the prize,
shifting the prisoners and refitting both vessels, which had very much
suffered in the sails and rigging.  There was an occasional wonder on
board the _Harpy_ what that strange vessel might be which had turned the
corvette and enabled them to capture her, but when people are all very
busy, there is not much time for surmise.

Jack's crew, with himself, consisted but of eight, one of whom was a
Spaniard, and two were wounded.  It therefore left him but four, and he
had also some thing to do, which was to assist his wounded men, and
secure his guns.  Moreover, Mesty did not think it prudent to leave the
vessel a mile from the _Harpy_ with only two on board; besides, as Jack
said, he had had no dinner, and was not quite sure that he should find
anything to eat when he went into the midshipmen's berth; he would
therefore have some dinner cooked, and eat it before he went on board in
the meantime, they would try and close with her.  Jack took things
always very easy, and he said he should report himself at sunset.  There
were other reasons which made Jack in no very great hurry to go on
board; he wanted to have time to consider a little what he should say to
excuse himself, and also how he should plead for the men.  His natural
correctness of feeling decided him, in the first place, to tell the
whole truth, and in the next, his kind feelings determined him to tell
only part of it.  Jack need not have given himself this trouble, for, as
far as regarded himself, he had fourteen thousand good excuses in the
bags which lay in the state-room; and as for the men, after an action
with the enemy, if they behave well, even mutiny is forgiven.  At last
Jack, who was tired with excitement and the hard work of the day,
thought and thought till he fell fast asleep, and instead of waking at
sunset did not wake till two hours afterwards; and Mesty did not call
him, because he was in no hurry himself to go on board and _boil de
kettle for de young gentlemen_.

When Jack woke up he was astonished to find that he had slept so long:
he went on deck; it was dark and still calm, but he could easily
perceive that the _Harpy_ and corvette were still hove-to, repairing
damages.  He ordered the men to lower down the small boat, and leaving
Mesty in charge, with two oars he pulled to the _Harpy_.  What with
wounded men, with prisoners, and boats going and coming between the
vessels, every one on board the _Harpy_ were well employed; and in the
dark Jack's little boat came alongside without notice.  This should not
have been the case, but it was, and there was some excuse for it.  Jack
ascended the side, and pushed his way through the prisoners, who were
being mustered to be victualled.  He was wrapped up in one of the
gregos, and many of the prisoners wore the same.

Jack was amused at not being recognised: he slipped down the main
ladder, and had to stoop under the hammocks of the wounded men, and was
about to go aft to the captain's cabin to report himself, when he heard
young Gossett crying out, and the sound of the rope.  "Hang me, if that
brute Vigors an't thrashing young Gossett," thought Jack.  "I dare say
the poor fellow had had plenty of it since I have been away; I'll save
him this time at least."  Jack, wrapped up in his grego, went to the
window of the berth, looked in, and found it was as he expected.  He
cried out in an angry voice, "_Mr Vigors, I'll thank you to leave
Gossett alone_."  At the sound of the voice Vigors turned round with his
colt in his hand, saw Jack's face at the window, and, impressed with the
idea that the reappearance was supernatural, uttered a yell and fell
down in a fit--little Gossett also trembling in every limb, stared with
his mouth open.  Jack was satisfied, and immediately disappeared.  He
then went aft to the cabin, pushed by the servant, who was giving some
orders from the captain to the officer on deck, and entering the cabin,
where the captain was seated with two Spanish officers, took off his hat
and said:

"Come on board, Captain Wilson."

Captain Wilson did not fall down in a fit, but he jumped up and upset
the glass before him.

"Merciful God!  Mr Easy, where did you come from?"

"From that ship astern, sir," replied Jack.

"That ship astern! what is she?--where have you been so long?"

"It's a long story, sir," replied Jack.

Captain Wilson extended his hand and shook Jack's heartily.

"At all events, I'm delighted to see you, boy: now sit down and tell me
your story in a few words; we will have it in detail by-and-bye."

"If you please, sir," said Jack, "we captured that ship with the cutter
the night after we went away--I'm not a first-rate navigator, and I was
blown to the Zaffarine Islands, where I remained two months for want of
hands: as soon as I procured them I made sail again--I have lost three
men by sharks, and I have two wounded in to-day's fight--the ship mounts
twelve guns, is half laden with lead and cotton prints, has fourteen
thousand dollars in the cabin, and three shot-holes right through her--
and the sooner you send some people on board of her the better."

This was not very intelligible, but that there were fourteen thousand
dollars, and that she required hands sent on board, was very
satisfactorily explained.  Captain Wilson rang the bell, sent for Mr
Asper, who started back at the sight of our hero--desired him to order
Mr Jolliffe to go on board with one of the cutters, send the wounded
men on board, and take charge of the vessel, and then told Jack to
accompany Mr Jolliffe, and to give him every information; telling him
that he would hear his story to-morrow, when they were not so very busy.



CHAPTER SEVENTEEN.

IN WHICH OUR HERO FINDS OUT THAT TRIGONOMETRY IS NOT ONLY NECESSARY TO
NAVIGATION, BUT MAY BE REQUIRED IN SETTLING AFFAIRS OF HONOUR.

As Captain Wilson truly said, he was too busy even to hear Jack's story
that night, for they were anxious to have both vessels ready to make
sail as soon as a breeze should spring up, for the Spaniards had vessels
of war at Carthagena, which was not ten miles off, and had known the
result of the action: it was therefore necessary to change their
position as soon as possible.  Mr Sawbridge was on board the prize,
which was a corvette mounting two guns more than the _Harpy_, and called
the _Cacafuogo_.

She had escaped from Cadiz, run through the straits in the night, and
was three miles from Carthagena when she was captured, which she
certainly never would have been but for Jack's fortunately blundering
against the cape with his armed vessel, so that Captain Wilson and Mr
Sawbridge (both of whom were promoted, the first to the rank of
post-captain, the second to that of commander), may be said to be
indebted to Jack for their good fortune.  The _Harpy_ had lost nineteen
men, killed and wounded, and the Spanish corvette forty-seven.
Altogether, it was a very creditable affair.

At two o'clock in the morning, the vessels were ready, everything had
been done that could be done in so short a time, and they stood under
easy sail during the night for Gibraltar, the _Nostra Senora del
Carmen_, under the charge of Jolliffe, keeping company.  Jolliffe had
the advantage over his shipmates, of first hearing Jack's adventures,
with which he was much astonished as well as amused--even Captain Wilson
was not more happy to see Jack than was the worthy master's mate.  About
nine o'clock the _Harpy_ hove-to, and sent a boat on board for our hero
and the men who had been so long with him in the prize, and then hoisted
out the pinnace to fetch on board the dollars, which were of more
importance.  Jack, as he bade adieu to Jolliffe, took out of his pocket
and presented him with the _articles of war_, which, as they had been so
useful to him, he thought Jolliffe could not do without, and then went
down the side: the men were already in the boat, casting imploring looks
upon Jack, to raise feelings of compassion, and Mesty took his seat by
our hero in a very sulky humour, probably because he did not like the
idea of having again "to boil de kettle for de young gentlemen."  Even
Jack felt a little melancholy at resigning his command, and he looked
back at the green petticoat, which blew out gracefully from the mast,
for Jolliffe had determined that he would not haul down the colours
under which Jack had fought so gallant an action.

Jack's narration, as may be imagined, occupied a large part of the
forenoon; and, although Jack did not attempt to deny that he had seen
the recall signal of Mr Sawbridge, yet, as his account went on, the
captain became so interested that at the end of it he quite forgot to
point out to Jack the impropriety of not obeying orders.  He gave Jack
great credit for his conduct, and was also much pleased with that of
Mesty.  Jack took the opportunity of stating Mesty's aversion to his
present employment, and his recommendation was graciously received.
Jack also succeeded in obtaining the pardon of the men, in consideration
of their subsequent good behaviour; but notwithstanding this promise on
the part of Captain Wilson, they were ordered to be put in irons for the
present.  However, Jack told Mesty, and Mesty told the men, that they
would be released with a reprimand when they arrived at Gibraltar, so
all that the men cared for was a fair wind.

Captain Wilson informed Jack that after his joining the admiral he had
been sent to Malta with the prizes, and that, supposing the cutter to
have been sunk, he had written to his father, acquainting him with his
son's death, at which our hero was much grieved, for he knew what sorrow
it would occasion, particularly to his poor mother.  "But," thought
Jack, "if she is unhappy for three months, she will be overjoyed for
three more when she hears that I am alive, so it will be all square at
the end of the six; and as soon as I arrive at Gibraltar I will write,
and, as the wind is fair, that will be to-morrow or next day."

After a long conversation Jack was graciously dismissed, Captain Wilson
being satisfied from what he had heard that Jack would turn out a very
good officer, and had already forgotten all about equality and the
rights of man; but there Captain Wilson was mistaken--tares sown in
infancy are not so soon rooted out.

Jack went on deck as soon as the captain had dismissed him, and found
the captain and officers of the Spanish corvette standing aft, looking
very seriously at the _Nostra Senora del Carmen_.  When they saw our
hero, who Captain Wilson had told them was the young officer who had
barred their entrance into Carthagena, they turned their eyes upon him
not quite so graciously as they might have done.

Jack, with his usual politeness, took off his hat to the Spanish
captain, and, glad to have an opportunity of sporting his Spanish,
expressed the usual wish that he might live a thousand years.  The
Spanish captain, who had reason to wish that Jack had gone to the devil
at least twenty-four hours before, was equally complimentary, and then
begged to be informed what the colours were that Jack had hoisted during
the action.  Jack replied that they were colours to which every Spanish
gentleman considered it no disgrace to surrender, although always ready
to engage, and frequently at tempting to board.  Upon which the Spanish
captain was very much puzzled.  Captain Wilson, who under stood a little
Spanish, then interrupted by observing:

"By-the-bye, Mr Easy, what colours did you hoist up? we could not make
them out.  I see Mr Jolliffe still keeps them up at the peak."

"Yes, sir," replied Jack, rather puzzled what to call them, but at last
he replied that it was the banner of equality and the rights of man.

Captain Wilson frowned, and Jack, perceiving that he was displeased,
then told him the whole story, whereupon Captain Wilson laughed, and
Jack then also explained, in Spanish, to the officers of the corvette,
who replied that it was not the first time, and would not be the last,
that men had got into a scrape through a petticoat.

The Spanish captain complimented Jack on his Spanish, which was really
very good (for in two months, with nothing else in the world to do, he
had made great progress), and asked him where he had learned it.

Jack replied, "At the Zaffarine Islands."

"Zaffarine Isles," replied the Spanish captain; "they are not
inhabited."

"Plenty of ground sharks," replied Jack.

The Spanish captain thought our hero a very strange fellow, to fight
under a green silk petticoat, and to take lessons in Spanish from the
ground sharks.  However, being quite as polite as Jack, he did not
contradict him, but took a huge pinch of snuff, wishing from the bottom
of his heart that the ground sharks had taken Jack before he had hoisted
that confounded green petticoat.

However, Jack was in high favour with the captain, and all the ship's
company, with the exception of his four enemies--the master, Vigors, the
boatswain, and the purser's steward.  As for Mr Vigors, he had come to
his senses again, and had put his colt in his chest until Jack should
take another cruise.  Little Gossett, at any insulting remark made by
Vigors, pointed to the window of the berth and grinned; and the very
recollection made Vigors turn pale, and awed him into silence.

In two days they arrived at Gibraltar--Mr Sawbridge rejoined the ship--
so did Mr Jolliffe--they remained there a fortnight, during which Jack
was permitted to be continually on shore--Mr Asper accompanied him, and
Jack drew a heavy bill to prove to his father that he was still alive.
Mr Sawbridge made our hero relate to him all his adventures, and was so
pleased with the conduct of Mesty, that he appointed him to a situation
which was particularly suited to him--that of ship's corporal.  Mr
Sawbridge knew that it was an office of trust, and provided that he
could find a man fit for it, he was very indifferent about his colour.
Mesty walked and strutted about, at least three inches taller than he
was before.  He was always clean, did his duty conscientiously, and
seldom used his cane.

"I think, Mr Easy," said the first lieutenant, "that as you are so
particularly fond of taking a cruise"--for Jack had told the whole
truth--"it might be as well that you improve your navigation."

"I do think myself, sir," replied Jack, with great modesty, "that I am
not yet quite perfect."

"Well, then, Mr Jolliffe will teach you; he is the most competent in
this ship: the sooner you ask him the better, and if you learn it as
fast as you have Spanish, it will not give you much trouble."

Jack thought the advice good: the next day he was very busy with his
friend Jolliffe, and made the important discovery that two parallel
lines continued to infinity would never meet.

It must not be supposed that Captain Wilson and Mr Sawbridge received
their promotion instanter.  Promotion is always attended with delay, as
there is a certain routine in the service which must not be departed
from.  Captain Wilson had orders to return to Malta after his cruise.
He therefore carried his own despatches away from England--from Malta
the despatches had to be forwarded to Toulon to the admiral, and then
the admiral had to send to England to the Admiralty, whose reply had to
come out again.  All this, with the delays arising from vessels not
sailing immediately, occupied an interval of between five and six
months--during which time there was no alteration in the officers and
crew of his Majesty's sloop _Harpy_.

There had, however, been one alteration; the gunner, Mr Minus, who had
charge of the first cutter in the night action in which our hero was
separated from his ship, carelessly loading his musket, had found
himself minus his right hand, which, upon the musket going off as he
rammed down, had gone off too.  He was invalided and sent home during
Jack's absence, and another had been appointed, whose name was Tallboys.
Mr Tallboys was a stout dumpy man, with red face, and still redder
hands; he had red hair and red whiskers, and he had read a good deal--
for Mr Tallboys considered that the gunner was the most important
personage in the ship.  He had once been a captain's clerk, and having
distinguished himself very much in cutting-out service, had applied for
and received his warrant as a gunner.  He had studied the _Art of
Gunnery_, a part of which he understood, but the remainder was above his
comprehension: he continued, however, to read it as before, thinking
that by constant reading he should understand it at last.  He had gone
through the work from the title-page to the finis at least forty times,
and had just commenced it over again.  He never came on deck without the
gunner's vade-mecum in his pocket, with his hand always upon it to refer
to it in a moment.

But Mr Tallboys had, as we observed before, a great idea of the
importance of a gunner, and, among other qualifications, he considered
it absolutely necessary that he should be a navigator.  He had at least
ten instances to bring forward of bloody actions, in which the captain
and all the commissioned officers had been killed or wounded, and the
command of the ship had devolved upon the gunner.

"Now, sir," would he say, "if the gunner is no navigator, he is not fit
to take charge of his Majesty's ships.  The boatswain and carpenter are
merely practical men; but the gunner, sir, is, or ought to be,
scientific.  Gunnery, sir, is a science--we have our own disparts and
our lines of sight--our windage and our parabolas and projectile
forces--and our point blank, and our reduction of powder upon a
graduated scale.  Now, sir, there's no excuse for a gunner not being a
navigator; for knowing his duty as a gunner, he has the same
mathematical tools to work with."  Upon this principle Mr Tallboys had
added John Hamilton Moore to his library, and had advanced about as far
into navigation as he had in gunnery, that is, to the threshold, where
he stuck fast, with all his mathematical tools, which he did not know
how to use.  To do him justice, he studied for two or three hours
everyday, and it was not his fault if he did not advance--but his head
was confused with technical terms; he mixed all up together, and
disparts, sines and cosines, parabolas, tangents, windage, seconds,
lines of sight, logarithms, projectiles and traverse sailing, quadrature
and Gunter's scales, were all crowded together, in a brain which had not
capacity to receive the rule of three.  "Too much learning," said Festus
to the apostle, "hath made thee mad."  Mr Tallboys had not wit enough
to go mad, but his learning lay like lead upon his brain: the more he
read, the less he understood, at the same time that he became more
satisfied with his supposed acquirements, and could not speak but in
"mathematical parables."

"I understand, Mr Easy," said the gunner to him one day, after they had
sailed for Malta, "that you have entered into the science of
navigation--at your age it was high time."

"Yes," replied Jack, "I can raise a perpendicular, at all events, and
box the compass."

"Yes, but you have not yet arrived at the dispart of the compass."

"Not come to that yet," replied Jack.

"Are you aware that a ship sailing describes a parabola round the
globe?"

"Not come to that yet," replied Jack.

"And that any propelled body striking against another flies off at a
tangent?"

"Very likely," replied Jack, "that is a _sine_ that he don't like it."

"You have not yet entered into _acute_ trigonometry?"

"Not come to that yet," replied Jack.

"That will require very sharp attention."

"I should think so," replied Jack.

"You will then find out how your parallels of longitude and latitude
meet."

"Two parallel lines, if continued to infinity, will never meet," replied
Jack.

"I beg your pardon," said the gunner.

"I beg yours," said Jack.

Whereupon Mr Tallboys brought up a small map of the world, and showed
Jack that all the parallels of latitude met at a point at the top and
bottom.

"Parallel lines never meet," replied Jack, producing Hamilton Moore.

Whereupon Jack and the gunner argued the point, until it was agreed to
refer the case to Mr Jolliffe, who asserted, with a smile, that those
lines were parallels and not parallels.

As both were right, both were satisfied.

It was fortunate that Jack would argue in this instance: had he believed
all the confused assertions of the gunner, he would have been as puzzled
as the gunner himself.  They never met without an argument and a
reference, and as Jack was put right in the end, he only learned the
faster.  By the time that he did know something about navigation he
discovered that his antagonist knew nothing.  Before they arrived at
Malta Jack could fudge a day's work.

But at Malta Jack got into another scrape.  Although Mr Smallsole could
not injure him, he was still Jack's enemy; the more so as Jack had
become very popular: Vigors also submitted, planning revenge; but the
parties in this instance were the boatswain and purser's steward.  Jack
still continued his forecastle conversation with Mesty; and the
boatswain and purser's steward, probably from their respective ill-will
towards our hero, had become great allies.  Mr Easthupp now put on his
best jacket to walk the dog-watches with Mr Biggs, and they took every
opportunity to talk at our hero.

"It's my peculiar hopinion," said Mr Easthupp, one evening, pulling at
the frill of his shirt, "that a gentleman should behave as a gentleman,
and that if a gentleman professes hopinions of hequality and such
liberal sentiments, that he is bound as a gentle man to hact up to
them."

"Very true, Mr Easthupp; he is bound to act up to them; and not because
a person, who was a gentleman as well as himself, happens not to be on
the quarter-deck, to insult him because he only has perfessed opinions
like his own."

Hereupon Mr Biggs struck his rattan against the funnel, and looked at
our hero.

"Yes," continued the purser's steward, "I should like to see the fellow
who would have done so on shore however, the time will come when I can
hagain pull on my plain coat, and then the insult shall be vashed out in
blood, Mr Biggs."

"And I'll be cursed if I don't some day teach a lesson to the blackguard
who stole my trousers."

"Vas hall your money right, Mr Biggs?" inquired the purser's steward.

"I didn't count," replied the boatswain magnificently.

"No--gentlemen are above that," replied Easthupp; "but there are many
light-fingered gentry habout.  The quantity of vatches and harticles of
value vich were lost ven I valked Bond Street in former times is
incredible."

"I can say this, at all events," replied the boatswain, "that I should
be always ready to give satisfaction to any person beneath me in rank,
after I had insulted him.  I don't stand upon my rank, although I don't
talk about equality, damme--no, nor consort with niggers."  All this was
too plain for our hero not to understand, so Jack walked up to the
boatswain, and taking his hat off, with the utmost politeness, said to
him:

"If I mistake not, Mr Biggs, your conversation refers to me."

"Very likely it does," replied the boatswain.  "Listeners hear no good
of themselves."

"It appears that gentlemen can't converse without being vatched,"
continued Mr Easthupp, pulling up his shirt-collar.

"It is not the first time that you have thought proper to make very
offensive remarks, Mr Biggs; and as you appear to consider yourself
ill-treated in the affair of the trousers, for I tell you at once, that
it was I who brought them on board, I can only say," continued our hero,
with a very polite bow, "that I shall be most happy to give you
satisfaction."

"I am your superior officer, Mr Easy," replied the boatswain.

"Yes, by the rules of the service; but you just now asserted that you
would waive your rank--indeed, I dispute it on this occasion; I am on
the quarter-deck, and you are not."

"This is the gentleman whom you have insulted, Mr Easy," replied the
boatswain, pointing to the purser's steward.

"Yes, Mr Heasy, quite as good a gentleman as yourself, although I av ad
misfortune--I ham of as hold a family as hany in the country," replied
Mr Easthupp, now backed by the boatswain; "many the year did I valk
Bond Street, and I ave as good blood in my weins as you, Mr Heasy,
halthough I have been misfortunate--I've had hadmirals in my family."

"You have grossly insulted this gentleman," said Mr Biggs, in
continuation; "and notwithstanding all your talk of equality, you are
afraid to give him satisfaction--you shelter yourself under your
quarter-deck."

"Mr Biggs," replied our hero, who was now very wroth, "I shall go on
shore directly we arrive at Malta.  Let you, and this fellow, put on
plain clothes, and I will meet you both--and then I'll show you whether
I am afraid to give satisfaction."

"One at a time," said the boatswain.

"No, sir, not one at a time, but both at the same time--I will fight
both or none.  If you are my superior officer, you must _descend_,"
replied Jack, with an ironical sneer, "to meet me, or I will not descend
to meet that fellow, whom I believe to have been little better than a
pickpocket."

This accidental hit of Jack's made the purser's steward turn pale as a
sheet, and then equally red.  He raved and foamed amazingly, although he
could not meet Jack's indignant look, who then turned round again.

"Now, Mr Biggs, is this to be understood, or do you shelter yourself
under your _forecastle_?"

"I'm no dodger," replied the boatswain, "and we will settle the affair
at Malta."

At which reply Jack returned to Mesty.

"Massa Easy, I look at um face, dat feller, Eastop, he no like it.  I go
shore wid you, see fair play, anyhow--suppose I can?"

Mr Biggs having declared that he would fight, of course had to look out
for a second, and he fixed upon Mr Tallboys, the gunner, and requested
him to be his friend.  Mr Tallboys, who had been latterly very much
annoyed by Jack's victories over him in the science of navigation, and
therefore felt ill-will towards him, consented; but he was very much
puzzled how to arrange that _three_ were to fight at the same time, for
he had no idea of there being two duels; so he went to his cabin and
commenced reading.  Jack, on the other hand, dared not say a word to
Jolliffe on the subject: indeed, there was no one in the ship to whom he
could confide but Gascoigne: he therefore went to him, and although
Gascoigne thought it was excessively _infra dig_ of Jack to meet even
the boatswain, as the challenge had been given there was no retracting:
he therefore consented, like all midshipmen, anticipating fun, and quite
thoughtless of the consequences.

The second day after they had been anchored in Vallette harbour, the
boatswain and gunner, Jack and Gascoigne, obtained permission to go on
shore.  Mr Easthupp, the purser's steward, dressed in his best blue
coat with brass buttons and velvet collar, the very one in which he had
been taken up when he had been vowing and protesting that he was a
gentleman, at the very time that his hand was abstracting a pocket book,
went up on the quarter-deck, and requested the same indulgence, but Mr
Sawbridge refused, as he required him to return staves and hoops at the
cooperage.  Mesty also, much to his mortification, was not to be spared.

This was awkward, but it was got over by proposing that the meeting
should take place behind the cooperage at a certain hour, on which Mr
Easthupp might slip out and borrow a portion of the time appropriated to
his duty, to heal the breach in his wounded honour.  So the parties all
went on shore, and put up at one of the small inns to make the necessary
arrangements.

Mr Tallboys then addressed Mr Gascoigne, taking him apart while the
boatswain amused himself with a glass of grog, and our hero sat outside
teasing a monkey.

"Mr Gascoigne," said the gunner, "I have been very much puzzled how
this duel should be fought, but I have at last found it out.  You see
that there are _three_ parties to fight; had there been two or four
there would have been no difficulty, as the right line or square might
guide us in that instance; but we must arrange it upon the _triangle_ in
this."

Gascoigne stared; he could not imagine what was coming.

"Are you aware, Mr Gascoigne, of the properties of an equilateral
triangle?"

"Yes," replied the midshipman, "that it has three equal sides--but what
the devil has that to do with the duel?"

"Everything, Mr Gascoigne," replied the gunner; "it has resolved the
great difficulty: indeed, the duel between three can only be fought upon
that principle.  You observe," said the gunner, taking a piece of chalk
out of his pocket, and making a triangle on the table, "in this figure
we have three points, each equidistant from each other; and we have
three combatants--so that placing one at each point, it is all fair play
for the three: Mr Easy, for instance, stands here, the boatswain here,
and the purser's steward at the third corner.  Now, if the distance is
fairly measured, it will be all right."

"But then," replied Gascoigne, delighted at the idea, "how are they to
fire?"

"It certainly is not of much consequence," replied the gunner, "but
still, as sailors, it appears to me that they should fire with the sun;
that is, Mr Easy fires at Mr Biggs, Mr Biggs fires at Mr Easthupp,
and Mr Easthupp fires at Mr Easy, so that you perceive that each party
has his shot at one, and at the same time receives the fire of another."

Gascoigne was in ecstasies at the novelty of the proceeding, the more so
as he perceived that Easy obtained every advantage by the arrangement.

"Upon my word, Mr Tallboys, I give you great credit; you have a
profound mathematical head, and I am delighted with your arrangement.
Of course, in these affairs, the principals are bound to comply with the
arrangements of the seconds, and I shall insist upon Mr Easy consenting
to your excellent and scientific proposal."

Gascoigne went out, and pulling Jack away from the monkey, told him what
the gunner had proposed, at which Jack laughed heartily.

The gunner also explained it to the boatswain, who did not very well
comprehend, but replied:

"I dare say it's all right--shot for shot, and damn all favours."

The parties then repaired to the spot with two pairs of ship's pistols,
which Mr Tallboys had smuggled on shore; and, as soon as they were on
the ground, the gunner called Mr Easthupp out of the cooperage.  In the
meantime, Gascoigne had been measuring an equilateral triangle of twelve
paces--and marked it out.  Mr Tallboys, on his return with the purser's
steward, went over the ground, and finding that it was "equal angles
subtended by equal sides," declared that it was all right.  Easy took
his station, the boatswain was put into his, and Mr Easthupp, who was
quite in a mystery, was led by the gunner to the third position.

"But, Mr Tallboys," said the purser's steward, "I don't understand
this.  Mr Easy will first fight Mr Biggs, will he not?"

"No," replied the gunner, "this is a duel of three.  You will fire at
Mr Easy, Mr Easy will fire at Mr Biggs, and Mr Biggs will fire at
you.  It is all arranged, Mr Easthupp."

"But," said Mr Easthupp, "I do not understand it.  Why is Mr Biggs to
fire at me?  I have no quarrel with Mr Biggs."

"Because Mr Easy fires at Mr Biggs, and Mr Biggs must have his shot
as well."

"If you have ever been in the company of gentlemen, Mr Easthupp,"
observed Gascoigne, "you must know something about duelling."

"Yes, yes, I've kept the best company, Mr Gascoigne, and I can give a
gentleman satisfaction; but--"

"Then, sir, if that is the case, you must know that your honour is in
the hands of your second, and that no gentleman appeals."

"Yes, yes, I know that, Mr Gascoigne; but still I've no quarrel with
Mr Biggs, and therefore, Mr Biggs, of course you will not aim at me."

"Why, you don't think that I'm going to be fired at for nothing,"
replied the boatswain; "no, no, I'll have my shot anyhow."

"But at your friend, Mr Biggs?"

"All the same, I shall fire at somebody; shot for shot, and hit the
luckiest."

"Vel, gentlemen, I purtest against these proceedings," replied Mr
Easthupp; "I came here to have satisfaction from Mr Easy, and not to be
fired at by Mr Biggs."

"Don't you have satisfaction when you fire at Mr Easy," replied the
gunner; "what more would you have?"

"I purtest against Mr Biggs firing at me."

"So you would have a shot without receiving one," cried Gascoigne: "the
fact is, that this fellow's a confounded coward, and ought to be kicked
into the cooperage again."

At this affront Mr Easthupp rallied, and accepted the pistol offered by
the gunner.

"You ear those words, Mr Biggs; pretty language to use to a gentleman.
You shall ear from me, sir, as soon as the ship is paid off.  I purtest
no longer, Mr Tallboys; death before dishonour.  I'm a gentleman,
damme!"

At all events, the swell was not a very courageous gentleman, for he
trembled most exceedingly as he pointed his pistol.

The gunner gave the word, as if he were exercising the great guns on
board ship.

"Cock your locks!"--"Take good aim at the object!"--"Fire!"--"Stop your
vents!"

The only one of the combatants who appeared to comply with the latter
supplementary order was Mr Easthupp, who clapped his hand to his
trousers behind, gave a loud yell, and then dropped down: the bullet
having passed clean through his seat of honour, from his having
presented his broadside as a target to the boatswain as he faced towards
our hero.  Jack's shot had also taken effect, having passed through both
the boatswain's cheeks, without further mischief than extracting two of
his best upper double teeth, and forcing through the hole of the farther
cheek the boatswain's own quid of tobacco.  As for Mr Easthupp's ball,
as he was very unsettled, and shut his eyes before he fired, it had gone
the Lord knows where.

The purser's steward lay on the ground and screamed--the boatswain spit
his double teeth and two or three mouthfuls of blood out, and then threw
down his pistols in a rage.

"A pretty business, by God," sputtered he; "he's put my pipe out.  How
the devil am I to pipe to dinner when I'm ordered, all my wind 'scaping
through the cheeks?"

In the meantime, the others had gone to the assistance of the purser's
steward, who continued his vociferations.  They examined him, and
considered a wound in that part not to be dangerous.

"Hold your confounded bawling," cried the gunner, "or you'll have the
guard down here: you're not hurt."

"Han't hi?" roared the steward.  "Oh, let me die, let me die; don't move
me!"

"Nonsense," cried the gunner, "you must get up and walk down to the
boat; if you don't we'll leave you--hold your tongue, confound you.  You
won't? then I'll give you something to halloo for."

Whereupon Mr Tallboys commenced cuffing the poor wretch right and left,
who received so many swinging boxes of the ear, that he was soon reduced
to merely pitiful plaints of "Oh, dear!--such inhumanity--I purtest--oh,
dear! must I get up?  I can't, indeed."

"I do not think he can move, Mr Tallboys," said Gascoigne; "I should
think the best plan would be to call up two of the men from the
cooperage, and let them take him at once to the hospital."

The gunner went down to the cooperage to call the men.  Mr Biggs, who
had bound up his face as if he had a toothache for the bleeding had been
very slight, came up to the purser's steward.

"What the hell are you making such a howling about?  Look at me, with
two shot-holes through my figure-head, while you have only got one in
your stern: I wish I could change with you, by heavens, for I could use
my whistle then--now if I attempt to pipe, there will be such a wasteful
expenditure of his Majesty's stores of wind, that I never shall get out
a note.  A wicked shot of yours, Mr Easy."

"I really am very sorry," replied Jack, with a polite bow, "and I beg to
offer my best apology."

During this conversation, the purser's steward felt very faint, and
thought he was going to die.

"Oh, dear! oh, dear! what a fool I was; I never was a gentleman--only a
swell: I shall die; I never will pick a pocket again--never--never--God
forgive me!"

"Why, confound the fellow," cried Gascoigne, "so you were a pickpocket,
were you?"

"I never will again," replied the fellow, in a faint voice: "Hi'll
hamend and lead a good life--a drop of water--oh! _lagged_ at last!"

Then the poor wretch fainted away: and Tallboys coming up with the men,
he was taken on their shoulders and walked off to the hospital, attended
by the gunner and also the boatswain, who thought he might as well have
a little medical advice before he went on board.

"Well, Easy," said Gascoigne, collecting the pistols and tying them up
in his handkerchief, "I'll be shot, but we're in a pretty scrape;
there's no hushing this up.  I'll be hanged if I care, it's the best
piece of fun I ever met with."  And at the remembrance of it Gascoigne
laughed till the tears ran down his cheeks.  Jack's mirth was not quite
so excessive, as he was afraid that the purser's steward was severely
hurt, and expressed his fears.

"At all events, you did not hit him," replied Gascoigne; "all you have
to answer for is the boatswains's mug--I think you've stopped his jaw
for the future."

"I'm afraid that our leave will be stopped for the future," replied
Jack.

"That we may take our oaths of," replied Gascoigne.

"Then look you, Ned," said Easy; "I've lots of dollars; we may as well
be hanged for a sheep as a lamb, as the saying is; I vote that we do not
go on board."

"Sawbridge will send and fetch us," replied Ned; "but he must find us
first."

"That won't take long, for the soldiers will soon have our description
and rout us out--we shall be pinned in a couple of days."

"Confound it, and they say that the ship is to be hove down, and that we
shall be here six weeks at least, cooped up on board in a broiling sun,
and nothing to do but to watch the pilot fish playing round the rudder,
and munch bad apricots.  I won't go on board; look ye, Jack," said
Gascoigne, "have you plenty of money?"

"I have twenty doubloons, besides dollars," replied Jack.

"Well, then we will pretend to be so much alarmed at the result of this
duel, that we dare not show ourselves, lest we should be hung.  I will
write a note, and send it to Jolliffe, to say that we have hid ourselves
until the affair is blown over, and beg him to intercede with the
captain and first lieutenant.  I will tell him all the particulars, and
refer to the gunner for the truth of it; and then I know that, although
we should be punished, they will only laugh; but I will pretend that
Easthupp is killed, and we are frightened out of our lives.  That will
be it; and then let's get on board one of the speronares which come with
fruit from Sicily, sail in the night for Palermo, and then we'll have a
cruise for a fortnight, and when the money is all gone we'll come back."

"That's a capital idea, Ned, and the sooner we do it the better.  I will
write to the captain, begging him to get me off from being hung, and
telling him where we have fled to, and that letter shall be given after
we have sailed."

They were two very nice lads--our hero and Gascoigne.



CHAPTER EIGHTEEN.

IN WHICH OUR HERO SETS OFF ON ANOTHER CRUISE, IN WHICH HE IS NOT BLOWN
OFF SHORE.

Gascoigne and our hero were neither of them in uniform, and they
hastened to Nix Mangare stairs where they soon picked up the padrone of
a speronare.  They went with him into a wine-shop, and with the
assistance of a little English from a Maltese boy, whose shirt hung out
of his trousers, they made a bargain, by which it was agreed that, for
the consideration of two doubloons, he would sail that evening and land
them at Gergenti or some other town in Sicily, providing them with
something to eat and gregos to sleep upon.

Our two midshipmen then went back to the tavern from which they had set
off to fight the duel, and ordering a good dinner to be served in a back
room, they amused themselves with killing flies, as they talked over the
events of the day, and waited for their dinner.

As Mr Tallboys did not himself think proper to go on board till the
evening, and Mr Biggs also wished it to be dark before he went up the
ship's side, the events of the duel did not transpire till the next
morning.  Even then it was not known from the boatswain or gunner, but
by a hospital mate coming on board to inform the surgeon that there was
one of their men wounded under their charge, but that he was doing very
well.

Mr Biggs had ascended the side with his face bound up.

"Confound that Jack Easy," said he, "I have only been on leave twice
since I sailed from Portsmouth--once I was obliged to come up the side
without my trousers, and show my bare stern to the whole ship's company,
and now I am coming up, and dare not show my figure-head."  He reported
himself to the officer of the watch, and hasting to his cabin, went to
bed, and lay the whole night awake from pain, thinking what excuse he
could possibly make for not coming on deck next morning to his duty.

He was, however, saved this trouble, for Mr Jolliffe brought the letter
of Gascoigne up to Mr Sawbridge, and the captain had received that of
our hero.

Captain Wilson came on board, and found that Mr Sawbridge could
communicate all the particulars of which he had not been acquainted by
Jack; and after they had read over Gascoigne's letter in the cabin, and
interrogated Mr Tallboys, who was sent down under an arrest, they gave
free vent to their mirth.

"Upon my soul, there's no end to Mr Easy's adventures," said the
captain.  "I could laugh at the duel, for after all, it is nothing--and
he would have been let off with a severe reprimand; but the foolish boys
have set off in a speronare to Sicily, and how the devil are we to get
them back again?"

"They'll come back, sir," replied Sawbridge, "when all their money's
gone."

"Yes, if they do not get into any more scrapes--that young scamp
Gascoigne is as bad as Easy, and now they are together there's no saying
what may happen.  I dine at the Governor's to-day; how he will laugh
when I tell him of this new way of fighting a duel!"

"Yes, sir, it is just the thing that will tickle old Tom."

"We must find out if they have got off the island, Sawbridge, which may
not be the case."

But it was the case.  Jack and Gascoigne had eaten a very good dinner,
sent for the monkey to amuse them till it was dark, and there had waited
till the padrone came to them.

"What shall we do with the pistols, Easy?"

"Take them with us, and load them before we go--we may want them: who
knows but there may be a mutiny on board of the speronare?--I wish we
had Mesty with us."

They loaded the pistols, took a pair each and put them in their waists,
concealed under their clothes--divided the ammunition between them, and
soon afterwards the padrone came to tell them all was ready.

Whereupon Messrs. Gascoigne and Easy paid their bill and rose to depart,
but the padrone informed them that he should like to see the colour of
their money before they went on board.  Jack, very indignant at the
insinuation that he had not sufficient cash, pulled out a handful of
doubloons, and tossing two to the padrone, asked him if he was
satisfied.

The padrone untied his sash, put in the money, and with many thanks and
protestations of service, begged our young gentlemen to accompany him:
they did so, and in a few minutes were clear of Nix Mangare stairs, and,
passing close to his Majesty's ship _Harpy, _were soon out of the
harbour of Vallette.

Of all the varieties of vessels which float upon the wave, there is not,
perhaps, one that bounds over the water so gracefully or so lightly as a
speronare, or any one so picturesque and beautiful to the eye of those
who watch its progress.

The night was clear, and the stars shone out brilliantly as the light
craft skimmed over the water, and a fragment of a descending and waning
moon threw its soft beams upon the snow-white sail.  The vessel, which
had no neck, was full of baskets, which had contained grapes and various
fruits brought from the ancient granary of Rome, still as fertile and as
luxuriant as ever.  The crew consisted of the padrone, two men and a
boy; the three latter, with their gregos, or night greatcoats with
hoods, sitting forward before the sail, with their eyes fixed on the
land as they flew past point after point, thinking perhaps of their
wives, or perhaps of their sweethearts, or perhaps not thinking at all.

The padrone remained aft at the helm, offering every politeness to our
two young gentlemen, who only wished to be left alone.  At last they
requested the padrone to give them gregos to lie down upon, as they
wished to go to sleep.  He called the boy to take the helm, procured
them all they required, and then went forward.  And our two midshipmen
laid down looking at the stars above them, for some minutes, without
exchanging a word.  At last Jack commenced.

"I have been thinking, Gascoigne, that this is very delightful.  My
heart bounds with the vessel, and it almost appears to me as if the
vessel herself was rejoicing in her liberty.  Here she is capering over
the waves instead of being tied by the nose with a cable and anchor."

"That's a touch of the sentimental, Jack," replied Gascoigne; "but she
is no more free than she was when at anchor, for she now is forced to
act in obedience to her steersman, and go just where he pleases.  You
may just as well say that a horse, if taken out of the stable, is free,
with the curb and his rider on his back."

"That's a touch of the rational, Ned, which destroys the illusion.
Never mind, we are free, at all events.  What machines we are on board
of a man-of-war!  We walk, talk, eat, drink, sleep, and get up, just
like clock-work; we are wound up to go the twenty-four hours, and then
wound up again; just like old Smallsole does the chronometers."

"Very true, Jack; but it does not appear to me, that, hitherto, you have
kept very good time: you require a little more regulating," said
Gascoigne.

"How can you expect any piece of machinery to go well, so damnably
knocked about as a midshipman is?" replied our hero.

"Very true, Jack; but sometimes you don't keep any time, for you don't
keep any watch.  Mr Asper don't wind you up.  You don't go at all."

"No; because he allows me to go _down; _but still I do _go, _Ned."

"Yes, to your hammock--but it's _no go_ with old Smallsole, if I want a
bit of _caulk_.  But, Jack, what do you say--shall we keep watch
to-night?"

"Why, to tell you the truth, I have been thinking the same thing--I
don't much like the looks of the padrone--he squints."

"That's no proof of anything, Jack, except that his eyes are not
straight; but if you do not like the look of him, I can tell you that he
very much liked the look of your doubloons--I saw him start, and his
eyes twinkled, and I thought at the time it was a pity you had not paid
him in dollars."

"It was very foolish in me; but at all events he has not seen all."

"He saw quite enough, Ned."

"Very true, but you should have let him see the pistols, and not have
let him see the doubloons."

"Well, if he wishes to take what he has seen, he shall receive what he
has not seen--why, there are only four of them?"

"Oh, I have no fear of them, only it may be as well to sleep with one
eye open."

"When shall we make the land?"

"To-morrow evening with this wind, and it appears to be steady.  Suppose
we keep watch and watch, and have our pistols out ready, with the
greatcoats just turned over them, to keep them out of sight?"

"Agreed--it's about twelve o'clock now--who shall keep the middle
watch?"

"I will, Jack, if you like it."

"Well, then, mind you kick me hard, for I sleep devilish sound.  Good--
night, and keep a sharp lookout."

Jack was fast asleep in less than ten minutes; and Gascoigne, with his
pistols lying by him all ready for each hand, sat up at the bottom of
the boat.

There certainly is a peculiar providence in favour of midshipmen
compared with the rest of mankind; they have more lives than a cat--
always in the greatest danger, but always escaping from it.

The padrone of the vessel had been captivated with the doubloons which
Jack had so foolishly exposed to his view, and he had, moreover,
resolved to obtain them.  At the very time that our two lads were
conversing aft, the padrone was talking the matter over with his two men
forward, and it was agreed that they should murder, rifle, and then
throw them overboard.

About two o'clock in the morning, the padrone came aft to see if they
were asleep, but found Gascoigne watching.  He returned aft again and
again; but found the young man still sitting up.  Tired of waiting,
anxious to possess the money, and supposing that the lads were armed, he
went once more forward and spoke to the men.  Gascoigne had watched his
motions; he thought it singular that, with three men in the vessel, the
helm should be confided to the boy--and at last he saw them draw their
knives.  He pushed our hero, who woke immediately Gascoigne put his hand
over Jack's mouth, that he might not speak, and then he whispered his
suspicions.  Jack seized his pistols--they both cocked them without
noise, and then waited in silence, Jack still lying down while Gascoigne
continued to sit up at the bottom of the boat.  At last Gascoigne saw
the three men coming aft--he dropped one of his pistols for a second to
give Jack a squeeze of the hand, which was returned, and as Gascoigne
watched them making their way through the piles of empty baskets he
leaned back as if he was slumbering.  The padrone, followed by the two
men, was at last aft--they paused a moment before they stepped over the
strengthening plank, which ran from side to side of the boat between
them and the midshipmen, and as neither of them stirred they imagined
that both were asleep--advanced and raised their knives, when Gascoigne
and Jack, almost at the same moment, each discharged their pistols into
the breast of the padrone and one of the men, who was with him in
advance, who both fell with the send aft of the boat, so as to encumber
the midshipmen with the weight of their bodies.  The third man started
back.  Jack, who could not rise, from the padrone lying across his legs,
took a steady aim with his second pistol, and the third man fell.  The
boy at the helm, who, it appeared, either was aware of what was to be
done, or seeing the men advance with their knives, had acted upon what
he saw, also drew his knife and struck at Gascoigne from behind.  The
knife fortunately, after slightly wounding Gascoigne on the shoulder,
had shut on the boy's hand--Gascoigne sprang up with his other pistol,
the boy started back at the sight of it, lost his balance, and fell
overboard.

Our two midshipmen took a few seconds to breathe.

"I say, Jack," said Gascoigne at last, "did you ever--"

"No, I never--" replied Jack.

"What's to be done now?"

"Why, as we've got possession, Ned, we had better put a man at the
helm--for the speronare is having it all her own way."

"Very true," replied Gascoigne; "and as I can steer better than you, I
suppose it must be me."

Gascoigne went to the helm, brought the boat up to the wind, and then
they resumed their conversation.

"That rascal of a boy gave me a devil of a lick on the shoulder; I don't
know whether he has hurt me--at all events it's my left shoulder, so I
can steer just as well.  I wonder whether the fellows are dead."

"The padrone is, at all events," replied Jack.  "It was as much as I
could do to get my legs from under him--but we'll wait till daylight
before we see to that--in the meantime, I'll load the pistols again."

"The day is breaking now--it will be light in half an hour or less.
What a devil of a spree, Jack!"

"Yes, but how can one help it?  We ran away because two men are
wounded--and now we are obliged to kill four in self-defence."

"Yes, but that is not the end of it; when we get to Sicily what are we
to do? we shall be imprisoned by the authorities--perhaps hung."

"We'll argue that point with them," replied Jack.

"We had better argue the point between ourselves, Jack, and see what
will be the best plan to get out of our scrape."

"I think that we just have got out of it--never fear but we'll get out
of the next.  Do you know, Gascoigne, it appears to me very odd, but I
can do nothing but there's a bobbery at the bottom of it."

"You certainly have a great talent that way, Jack.  Don't I hear one of
these poor fellows groan?"

"I should think that not impossible."

"What shall we do with them?"

"We will argue that point, Ned--we must either keep their bodies or we
must throw them overboard.  Either tell the whole story or say nothing
about it."

"That's very evident; in short, we must do something, for your argument
goes no further.  But now let us take up one of your propositions."

"Well then, suppose we keep the bodies on board, run into a seaport, go
to the authorities, and state all the facts, what then?"

"We shall prove, beyond all doubt, that we have killed three men, if not
four; but we shall not prove that we were obliged so to do, Jack.  And
then we are heretics--we shall be put in prison till they are satisfied
of our innocence, which we never can prove, and there we shall remain
until we have written to Malta, and a man-of-war comes to redeem us, if
we are not stabbed, or something else in the meantime."

"That will not be a very pleasant cruise," replied Jack.  "Now let's
argue the point on the other side."

"There is some difficulty there--suppose we throw their bodies
overboard, toss the baskets after them, wash the boat clean, and make
for the first port.  We may chance to hit upon the very spot from which
they sailed, and then there will be a pack of wives and children, and a
populace with knives, asking us what has become of the men of the boat."

"I don't much like the idea of that," said Jack.

"And if we don't have such bad luck, still we shall be interrogated as
to who we are, and how we were adrift by ourselves."

"There will be a difficulty about that again--we must swear that it is a
party of pleasure, and that we are gentlemen yachting."

"Without a crew or provisions--yachts don't sail with a clean-swept
hold, or gentlemen without a spare shirt--we have nothing but two
gallons of water and two pairs of pistols."

"I have it," said Jack--"we are two young gentlemen in our own boat who
went out to Gozo with pistols to shoot sea-mews, were caught in a gale,
and blown down to Sicily--that will excite interest."

"That's the best idea yet, as it will account for our having nothing in
the boat.  Well then, at all events, we will get rid of the bodies; but
suppose they are not dead--we cannot throw them overboard alive--that
will be murder."

"Very true," replied Jack; "then we must shoot them first, and toss them
overboard afterwards."

"Upon my soul, Easy, you are an odd fellow: however, go and examine the
men, and we'll decide that point by-and-bye--you had better keep your
pistol ready cocked for they may be shamming."

"Devil a bit of sham here, anyhow," replied Jack, pulling at the body of
the padrone, "and as for this fellow you shot, you might put your fist
into his chest.  Now for the third," continued Jack, stepping over the
strengthening piece--"he's all among the baskets.  I say, my cock, are
you dead?" and Jack enforced his question with a kick in the ribs.  The
man groaned.  "That's unlucky, Gascoigne, but, however, I'll soon settle
him," said Jack, pointing his pistol.

"Stop, Jack," cried Gascoigne, "it really will be murder."

"No such thing, Ned; I'll just blow his brains out, and then I'll come
aft and argue the point with you."

"Now do oblige me by coming aft and arguing the point first.  Do, Jack,
I beg of you--I entreat you."

"With all my heart," replied Jack, resuming his seat by Gascoigne; "I
assert, that in this instance killing's no murder.  You will observe,
Ned, that by the laws of society, any one who attempts the life of
another has forfeited his own; at the same time, as it is necessary that
the fact should be clearly proved and justice be duly administered, the
parties are tried, convicted, and then are sentenced to the punishment."

"I grant all that."

"In this instance the attempt has been clearly proved; we are the
witnesses, and are the judges and jury, and society in general, for the
best of all possible reasons, because there is nobody else.  These men's
lives being therefore forfeited to society, belong to us; and it does
not follow because they were not all killed in the attempt, that
therefore they are not now to be brought out for punishment.  And as
there is no common hangman here, we, of course, must do this duty as
well as every other.  I have now clearly proved that I am justified in
what I am about to do.  But the argument does not stop there--
self-preservation is the first law of nature, and if we do not get rid
of this man, what is the consequence?--that we shall have to account for
his being wounded, and then, instead of judges, we shall immediately be
placed in the position of culprits, and have to defend ourselves without
witnesses.  We therefore risk our lives from a misplaced lenity towards
a wretch unworthy to live."

"Your last argument is strong, Easy, but I cannot consent to your doing
what may occasion you uneasiness hereafter when you think of it."

"Pooh! nonsense--I am a philosopher."

"Of what school, Jack?  Oh, I presume you are a disciple of Mesty's.  I
do not mean to say that you are wrong, but still hear my proposition.
Let us lower down the sail, and then I can leave the helm to assist you.
We will clear the vessel of everything except the man who is still
alive.  At all events, we may wait a little, and if at last there is no
help for it, I will then agree with you to launch him overboard, even if
he is not quite dead."

"Agreed; even by your own making out, it will be no great sin.  He is
half dead already--I only do _half _the work of tossing him over, so it
will be only _quarter _murder on my part, and he would have shown no
quarter on his."  Here Jack left off arguing and punning, and went
forward and lowered down the sail.  "I've half a mind to take my
doubloons back," said Jack, as they launched over the body of the
padrone, "but he may have them--I wonder whether they'll ever turn up
again?"

"Not in our time, Jack," replied Gascoigne.

The other body, and all the basket lumber, etcetera, were then tossed
over, and the boat was cleared of all but the man who was not yet dead.

"Now let's examine the fellow, and see if he has any chance of
recovery," said Gascoigne.

The man lay on his side; Gascoigne turned him over, and found that he
was dead.

"Over with him, quick," said Jack, "before he comes to life again."

The body disappeared under the wave--they again hoisted the sail,
Gascoigne took the helm, and our hero proceeded to draw water and wash
away the stains of blood; he then cleared the boat of vine-leaves and
rubbish, with which it was strewed, swept it clean fore and aft, and
resumed his seat by his comrade.

"There," said Jack, "now we've swept the decks, we may pipe to dinner.
I wonder whether there is anything to eat in the locker?"

Jack opened it, and found some bread, garlic, sausages, a bottle of
aquadente, and a jar of wine.

"So the padrone did keep his promise, after all."

"Yes, and had you not tempted him with the sight of so much gold, might
now have been alive."

"To which I reply, that if you had not advised our going off in a
speronare, he would now have been alive."

"And if you had not fought a duel, I should not have given the advice."

"And if the boatswain had not been obliged to come on board without his
trousers, at Gibraltar, I should not have fought a duel."

"And if you had not joined the ship, the boatswain would have had his
trousers on."

"And if my father had not been a philosopher, I should not have gone to
sea; so that it is all my father's fault, and he has killed four men off
the coast of Sicily, without knowing it--cause and effect.  After all,
there's nothing like argument; so having settled that point, let us go
to dinner."

Having finished their meal, Jack went forward and observed the land
ahead; they steered the same course for three or four hours.

"We must haul our wind more," said Gascoigne; "it will not do to put
into any small town: we have now to choose, whether we shall land on the
coast and sink the speronare, or land at some large town."

"We must argue that point," replied Jack.

"In the meantime, do you take the helm, for my arm is quite tired,"
replied Gascoigne: "you can steer well enough; by-the-bye, I may as well
look at my shoulder, for it is quite stiff."  Gascoigne pulled off his
coat, and found his shirt bloody and sticking to the wound, which, as we
before observed, was slight.  He again took the helm, while Jack washed
it clean and then bathed it with aquadente.

"Now take the helm again," said Gascoigne; "I'm on the sick list."

"And as surgeon--I'm an idler," replied Jack; "but what shall we do?"
continued he; "abandon the speronare at night and sink her, or run in
for a town?"

"We shall fall in with plenty of boats and vessels if we coast it up to
Palermo, and they may overhaul us."

"We shall fall in with plenty of people if we go on shore, and they will
overhaul us."

"Do you know, Jack, that I wish we were back and alongside of the
_Harpy; _I've had cruising enough."

"My cruises are so unfortunate," replied Jack; "they are too full of
adventure; but then, I have never yet had a cruise on shore.  Now, if we
could only get to Palermo, we should be out of all our difficulties."

"The breeze freshens, Jack," replied Gascoigne; "and it begins to look
very dirty to windward.  I think we shall have a gale."

"Pleasant--I know what it is to be short-handed in a gale; however,
there's one comfort, we shall not be blown _off shore _this time."

"No, but we may be wrecked on a lee shore.  She cannot carry her whole
sail, Easy; we must lower it down, and take in a reef; the sooner the
better, for it will be dark in an hour.  Go forward and lower it down,
and then I'll help you."

Jack did so, but the sail went into the water, and he could not drag it
in.

"Avast heaving," said Gascoigne, "till I throw her up and take the wind
out of it."

This was done; they reefed the sail, but could not hoist it up: if
Gascoigne left the helm to help Jack, the sail filled; if he went to the
helm and took the wind out of the sail, Jack was not strong enough to
hoist it.  The wind increased rapidly, and the sea got up; the sun went
down, and with the sail half hoisted, they could not keep to the wind,
but were obliged to run right for the land.  The speronare flew, rising
on the crest of the waves with half her keel clear of the water: the
moon was already up, and gave them light enough to perceive that they
were not five miles from the coast, which was lined with foam.

"At all events, they can't accuse us of running away with the boat,"
observed Jack; "for she's running away with us."

"Yes," replied Gascoigne, dragging at the tiller with all his strength;
"she has taken the bit between her teeth."

"I wouldn't care if I had a bit between mine," replied Jack; "for I feel
devilish hungry again.  What do you say, Ned?"

"With all my heart," replied Gascoigne; "but, do you know, Easy, it may
be the last meal we ever make."

"Then I vote it's a good one--but why so, Ned?"

"In half an hour, or thereabouts, we shall be on shore."

"Well, that's where we want to go."

"Yes, but the sea runs high, and the boat may be dashed to pieces on the
rocks."

"Then we shall be asked no questions about her or the men."

"Very true, but a lee shore is no joke; we may be knocked to pieces, as
well as the boat--even swimming may not help us.  If we could find a
cove or sandy beach, we might, perhaps, manage to get on shore."

"Well," replied Jack, "I have not been long at sea, and, of course,
cannot know much about these things.  I have been blown off shore, but I
never have been blown on.  It may be as you say, but I do not see the
great danger--let's run her right up on the beach at once."

"That's what I shall try to do," replied Gascoigne, who had been four
years at sea, and knew very well what he was about.

Jack handed him a huge piece of bread and sausage.

"Thank ye, I cannot eat."

"I can," replied Jack, with his mouth full.

Jack ate while Gascoigne steered; and the rapidity with which the
speronare rushed to the beach was almost frightful.  She darted like an
arrow from wave to wave, and appeared as if mocking their attempts as
they curled their summits almost over her narrow stern.  They were
within a mile of the beach, when Jack, who had finished his supper, and
was looking at the foam boiling on the coast, exclaimed:

"That's very fine--very beautiful, upon my soul!"

"He cares for nothing," thought Gascoigne; "he appears to have no idea
of danger."

"Now, my dear fellow," said Gascoigne, "in a few minutes we shall be on
the rocks.  I must continue at the helm, for the higher she is forced up
the better chance for us; but we may not meet again, so if we do not,
good-bye, and God bless you."

"Gascoigne," said Jack, "you are hurt and I am not; your shoulder is
stiff, and you can hardly move your left arm.  Now I can steer for the
rocks as well as you.  Do you go to the bow, and there you will have a
better chance.  By-the-bye," continued he, picking up his pistols, and
sticking them into his waist, "I won't leave them, they've served us too
good a turn already.  Gascoigne, give me the helm."

"No, no, Easy."

"I say yes," replied Jack, in a loud, authoritative tone, "and what's
more, I will be obeyed, Gascoigne.  I have nerve, if I haven't
knowledge, and at all events I can steer for the beach.  I tell you,
give me the helm.  Well, then, if you won't--I must take it."

Easy wrested the tiller from Gascoigne's hand, and gave him a shove
forward.

"Now do you look out ahead, and tell me how to steer."

Whatever may have been Gascoigne's feelings at this behaviour of our
hero's, it immediately occurred to him that he could not do better than
to run the speronare to the safest point, and that therefore he was
probably more advantageously employed than if he were at the helm.  He
went forward and looked at the rocks, covered at one moment with the
tumultuous waters, and then pouring down cascades from their sides as
the waves recoiled.  He perceived a chasm right ahead, and he thought if
the boat was steered for that, she must be thrown up so as to enable
them to get clear of her, for at every other part escape appeared
impossible.

"Starboard a little--that'll do.  Steady--port it is--port.  Steer
small, for your life, Easy.  Steady now--mind the yard don't hit your
head--hold on."

The speronare was at this moment thrown into a large cleft in a rock,
the sides of which were nearly perpendicular; nothing else could have
saved them, as, had they struck the rock outside, the boat would have
been dashed to pieces, and its fragments have disappeared in the
undertow.  As it was, the cleft was not four feet more than the width of
the boat, and as the waves hurled her up into it, the yard of the
speronare was thrown fore and aft with great violence, and had not Jack
been warned, he would have been struck overboard without a chance of
being saved; but he crouched down and it passed over him.  As the water
receded, the boat struck, and was nearly dry between the rocks, but
another wave followed, dashing the boat farther up, but, at the same
time, filling it with water.  The bow of the boat was now several feet
higher than the stern, where Jack held on; and the weight of the water
in her, with the force of the returning waves, separated her right
across abaft the mast.  Jack perceived that the after-part of the boat
was going out again with the wave; he caught hold of the yard which had
swung fore and aft, and as he clung to it, the part of the boat on which
he had stood disappeared from under him, and was swept away by the
returning current.

Jack required the utmost of his strength to maintain his position until
another wave floated him, and dashed him higher up: but he knew his life
depended on holding on to the yard, which he did, although under water,
and advanced several feet.  When the wave receded, he found footing on
the rock, and still clinging, he walked till he had gained the fore-part
of the boat, which was wedged firmly into a narrow part of the cleft.
The next wave was not very large, and he had gained so much that it did
not throw him off his legs.  He reached the rock, and as he climbed up
the side of the chasm to gain the ledge above, he perceived Gascoigne
standing above him, and holding out his hand to his assistance.

"Well," says Jack, shaking himself to get rid of the water, "here we
are, ashore at last--I had no idea of anything like this.  The rush back
of the water was so strong that it has almost torn my arms out of their
sockets.  How very lucky I sent you forward with your disabled shoulder.
By-the-bye, now that it's all over, and you must see that I was right,
I beg to apologise for my rudeness."

"There needs no apology for saving my life, Easy," replied Gascoigne,
trembling with the cold; "and no one but you would ever have thought of
making one at such a moment."

"I wonder whether the ammunition's dry," said Jack; "I put it all in my
hat."

Jack took off his hat, and found the cartridges had not suffered.

"Now then, Gascoigne, what shall we do?"

"I hardly know," replied Gascoigne.

"Suppose, then, we sit down and argue the point."

"No, I thank you, there will be too much cold water thrown upon our
arguments--I'm half dead; let us walk on."

"With all my heart," said Jack, "it's devilish steep, but I can argue up
hill or down hill, wet or dry--I'm used to it--for, as I told you
before, Ned, my father is a philosopher, and so am I."

"By the Lord! _you are_," replied Gascoigne, as he walked on.



CHAPTER NINETEEN.

IN WHICH OUR HERO FOLLOWS HIS DESTINY AND FORMS A TABLEAU.

Our hero and his comrade climbed the precipice, and, after some minutes'
severe toil, arrived at the summit, when they sat down to recover
themselves.  The sky was clear, although the gale blew strong.  They had
an extensive view of the coast, lashed by the angry waves.

"It's my opinion, Ned," said Jack, as he surveyed the expanse of
troubled water, "that we're just as well out of that."

"I agree with you, Jack; but it's also my opinion that we should be just
as well out of this, for the wind blows through one.  Suppose we go a
little farther inland, where we may find some shelter till the morning."

"It's rather dark to find anything," rejoined our hero; "but, however, a
westerly gale on the top of a mountain with wet clothes in the middle of
the night with nothing to eat or drink, is not the most comfortable
position in the world, and we may change for the better."

They proceed over a flat of a hundred yards, and then descended--the
change in the atmosphere was immediate.  As they continued their march
inland, they came to a high-road, which appeared to run along the shore,
and they turned into it; for, as Jack said very truly, a road must lead
to something.  After a quarter of an hour's walk, they again heard the
rolling of the surf, and perceived the white walls of houses.

"Here we are at last," said Jack.  "I wonder if any one will turn out to
take us in, or shall we stow away for the night in one of those vessels
hauled up on the beach?"

"Recollect this time, Easy," said Gascoigne, "not to show your money;
that is, show only a dollar, and say you have no more, or promise to pay
when we arrive at Palermo; and if they will neither trust us, nor give
to us, we must make it out as we can."

"How the cursed dogs bark!  I think we shall do very well this time,
Gascoigne: we do not look as if we were worth robbing, at all events,
and we have the pistols to defend ourselves with if we are attacked.
Depend upon it I will show no more gold.  And now let us make our
arrangements.  Take you one pistol, and take half the gold--I have it
all in my right-hand pocket--my dollars and pistarenes in my left.  You
shall take half of them too.  We have silver enough to go on with till
we are in a safe place."

Jack then divided the money in the dark, and also gave Gascoigne a
pistol.

"Now then, shall we knock for admittance?--Let's first walk through the
village, and see if there's anything like an inn.  Those yelping curs
will soon be at our heels; they come nearer and nearer every time.
There's a cart, and it's full of straw--suppose we go to bed till
to-morrow morning--we shall be warm, at all events."

"Yes," replied Gascoigne, "and sleep much better than in any of the
cottages.  I have been in Sicily before, and you have no idea how the
fleas bite."

Our two midshipmen climbed up into the cart, nestled themselves into the
straw, or rather Indian corn-leaves, and were soon fast asleep.  As they
had not slept for two nights, it is not to be wondered at that they
slept soundly--so soundly, indeed, that about two hours after they had
got into their comfortable bed, the peasant, who had brought to the
village some casks of wine to be shipped and taken down the coast in a
felucca, yoked his bullocks, and not being aware of his freight, drove
off without, in any way, disturbing their repose, although the roads in
Sicily are not yet macadamised.

The jolting of the roads rather increased than disturbed the sleep of
our adventurers; and, although there were some rude shocks, it only had
the effect of making them fancy in their dreams that they were again in
the boat, and that she was still dashing against the rocks.  In about
two hours, the cart arrived at its destination--the peasant unyoked his
bullocks and led them away.  The same cause will often produce contrary
effects: the stopping of the motion of the cart disturbed the rest of
our two midshipmen; they turned round in the straw, yawned, spread out
their arms, and then awoke.  Gascoigne, who felt considerable pain in
his shoulder, was the first to recall his scattered senses.

"Easy," cried he, as he sat up and shook off the corn-leaves.

"Port it is," said Jack, half dreaming.

"Come, Easy, you are not on board now.  Rouse and bitt."

Jack then sat up and looked at Gascoigne.  The forage in the cart was so
high round them that they could not see above it; they rubbed their
eyes, yawned, and looked at each other.

"Have you any faith in dreams," said Jack to Gascoigne, "because I had a
very queer one last night."

"Well, so had I," replied Gascoigne.  "I dreamt that the cart rolled by
itself into the sea, and went away with us right in the wind's eye back
to Malta; and, considering that it never was built for such service, she
behaved uncommonly well.  Now what was your dream?"

"Mine was, that we woke up and found ourselves in the very town from
which the speronare had sailed, and that they had found the fore-part of
the speronare among the rocks, and recognised her, and picked up one of
our pistols.  That they had laid hold of us, and had insisted that we
had been thrown on shore in the boat, and asked us what had become of
the crew--they were just seizing us, when I awoke."

"Your dream is more likely to come true than mine, Easy; but still I
think we need not fear that.  At the same time, we had better not remain
here any longer; and it occurs to me, that if we tore our clothes more,
it would be advisable--we shall, in the first place, look more wretched;
and, in the next place, can replace them with the dress of the country,
and so travel without exciting suspicion.  You know that I can speak
Italian pretty well."

"I have no objection to tear my clothes if you wish," replied Jack; "at
the same time give me your pistol; I will draw the charges and load them
again.  They must be wet."

Having reloaded the pistols and rent their garments, the two midshipmen
stood up in the cart and looked about them.

"Halloo!--why, how's this, Gascoigne? last night we were close to the
beach, and among houses, and now--where the devil are we?  You dreamt
nearer the mark than I did, for the cart has certainly taken a cruise."

"We must have slept like midshipmen, then," replied Gascoigne: "surely
it cannot have gone far."

"Here we are, surrounded by hills on every side, for at least a couple
of miles.  Surely some good genius has transported us into the interior,
that we might escape from the relatives of the crew whom I dreamt
about," said Jack, looking at Gascoigne.

As it afterwards was known to them, the speronare had sailed from the
very seaport in which they had arrived that night, and where they had
got into the cart.  The wreck of the speronare had been found, and had
been recognised, and it was considered by the inhabitants that the
padrone and his crew had perished in the gale.  Had they found our two
midshipmen and questioned them, it is not improbable that suspicion
might have been excited, and the results have been such as our hero had
conjured up in his dream.  But, as we said before, there is a peculiar
providence for midshipmen.

On a minute survey, they found that they were in an open space which,
apparently, had been used for thrashing and winnowing maize, and that
the cart was standing under a clump of trees in the shade.

"There ought to be a house hereabouts," said Gascoigne; "I should think
that behind the trees we shall find one.  Come, Jack, you are as hungry
as I am, I'll answer for it; we must look out for a breakfast
somewhere."

"If they won't give us something to eat, or sell it," replied Jack, who
was ravenous, clutching his pistol, "I shall take it--I consider it no
robbery.  The fruits of the earth were made for us all, and it never was
intended that one man should have a superfluity and another starve.  The
laws of equality--"

"May appear very good arguments to a starving man, I grant, but still,
won't prevent his fellow creatures from hanging him," replied Gascoigne.
"None of your confounded nonsense, Jack; no man starves with money in
his pocket, and as long as you have that, leave those that have none to
talk about equality and the rights of man."

"I should like to argue that point with you, Gascoigne."

"Tell me, do you prefer sitting down here to argue, or to look out for
some breakfast, Jack?"

"Oh, the argument may be put off, but hunger cannot."

"That's very good philosophy, Jack, so let's go on."

They went through the copse of wood, which was very thick, and soon
discovered the wall of a large house on the other side.

"All right," said Jack; "but still let us reconnoitre.  It's not a
farm-house; it must belong to a person of some consequence--all the
better--they will see that we are gentlemen, notwithstanding our
tattered dress.  I suppose we are to stick to the story of the sea-mews
at Gozo?"

"Yes," replied Gascoigne; "I can think of nothing better.  But the
English are well received in this island; we have troops at Palermo."

"Have we?  I wish I was sitting down at the mess-table--but what's that?
a woman screaming?--Yes, by heavens!--come along, Ned."  And away dashed
Jack towards the house, followed by Gascoigne.  As they advanced the
screams redoubled; they entered the porch, burst into the room from
whence they proceeded, and found an elderly gentleman defending himself
against two young men, who were held back by an elderly and a young
lady.  Our hero and his comrade had both drawn their pistols, and just
as they burst open the door, the old gentleman who defended himself
against such odds had fallen down.  The two others burst from the women,
and were about to pierce him with their swords, when Jack seized one by
the collar of his coat and held him fast, pointing the muzzle of the
pistol to his ear: Gascoigne did the same to the other.  It was a very
dramatic tableau.  The two women flew to the elderly gentleman and
raised him up; the two assailants being held just as dogs hold pigs by
the ear, trembling with fright, with the points of their rapiers
dropped, looked at the midshipmen and the muzzles of their pistols with
equal dismay; at the same time, the astonishment of the elderly
gentleman and the women, at such an unexpected deliverance, was equally
great.  There was a silence for a few seconds.

"Ned," at last said Jack, "tell these chaps to drop their swords, or we
fire."

Gascoigne gave the order in Italian, and it was complied with.  The
midshipmen then possessed themselves of the rapiers, and gave the young
men their liberty.

The elderly gentleman at last broke the silence.

"It would appear, signors, that there was an especial interference of
Providence, to prevent you from committing a foul and unjust murder.
Who these are that have so opportunely come to my rescue, I know not,
but thanking them as I do now, I think that you will yourselves, when
you are calm, also thank them for having prevented you from committing
an act which would have loaded you with remorse and embittered your
future existence.  Gentlemen, you are free to depart: you, Don Silvio,
have indeed disappointed me; your gratitude should have rendered you
incapable of such conduct: as for you, Don Scipio, you have been misled;
but you both have, in one point, disgraced yourselves.  Ten days back my
sons were both here--why did you not come then?  If you sought revenge
on me, you could not have inflicted it deeper than through my children,
and at least you would not have acted the part of assassins in attacking
an old man.  Take your swords, gentlemen, and use them better
henceforth.  Against future attacks I shall be well prepared."

Gascoigne, who perfectly understood what was said, presented the sword
to the young gentleman from whom he had taken it--our hero did the same.
The two young men returned them to their sheaths, and quitted the room
without saying a word.

"Whoever you are, I owe to you and thank you for my life," said the
elderly gentleman, scanning the outward appearance of our two
midshipmen.

"We are," said Gascoigne, "officers in the English navy, and gentlemen;
we were wrecked in our boat last night, and have wandered here in the
dark, seeking for assistance, and food, and some conveyance to Palermo,
where we shall find friends, and the means of appearing like gentlemen."

"Was your ship wrecked, gentlemen?" inquired the Sicilian, "and many
lives lost?"

"No, our ship is at Malta; we were in a boat on a party of pleasure,
were caught by a gale, and driven on the coast.  To satisfy you of the
truth, observe that our pistols have the king's mark, and that we are
not paupers, we show you gold."

Gascoigne pulled out his doubloons--and Jack did the same, coolly
observing:

"I thought we were only to show silver, Ned!"

"It needed not that," replied the gentleman; "your conduct in this
affair, your manners and address, fully convince me that you are what
you represent--but were you common peasants, I am equally indebted to
you for my life, and you may command me.  Tell me in what way I can be
of service."

"In giving us something to eat, for we have had nothing for many, many
hours.  After that we may, perhaps, trespass a little more upon your
kind offices."

"You must, of course, be surprised at what has passed, and curious to
know the occasion," said the gentleman; "you have a right to be informed
of it, and shall be, as soon as you are more comfortable; in the
meantime, allow me to introduce myself as Don Rebiera de Silva."

"I wish," said Jack, who, from his knowledge of Spanish, could
understand the whole of the last part of the Don's speech, "that he
would introduce us to his breakfast."

"So do I," said Gascoigne; "but we must wait a little--he ordered the
ladies to prepare something instantly."

"Your friend does not speak Italian," said Don Rebiera.

"No, Don Rebiera, he speaks French and Spanish."

"If he speaks Spanish my daughter can converse with him; she has but
shortly arrived from Spain.  We are closely united with a noble house in
that country."

Don Rebiera then led the way to another room, and in a short time there
was a repast brought in, to which our midshipmen did great justice.

"I will now," said the Don, "relate to you, sir, for the information of
yourself and friend, the causes which produced this scene of violence,
which you so opportunely defeated.  But first, as it must be very
tedious to your friend, I will send for Donna Clara and my daughter
Agnes to talk to him; my wife understands a little Spanish, and my
daughter, as I said before, has but just left the country, where, from
circumstances, she remained some years."

As soon as Donna Clara and Donna Agnes made their appearance and were
introduced, Jack, who had not before paid attention to them, said to
himself, "I have seen a face like that girl's before."  If so, he had
never seen many like it, for it was the quintessence of brunette beauty,
and her figure was equally perfect; although, not having yet completed
her fifteenth year, it required still a little more development.

Donna Clara was extremely gracious, and as, perhaps, she was aware that
her voice would drown that of her husband, she proposed to our hero to
walk in the garden, and in a few minutes they took their seats in a
pavilion at the end of it.  The old lady did not talk much Spanish, but
when at a loss for a word she put in an Italian one, and Jack understood
her perfectly well.  She told him her sister had married a Spanish
nobleman many years since, and that before the war broke out between the
Spanish and the English, they had gone over with all their children to
see her; that when they wished to return, her daughter Agnes, then a
child, was suffering under a lingering complaint, and it was thought
advisable, as she was very weak, to leave her under the charge of her
aunt, who had a little girl of nearly the same age; that they were
educated together at a convent near Tarragona, and that she had only
returned two months ago; that she had a very narrow escape, as the ship
in which her uncle, and aunt, and cousins, as well as herself, were on
board, returning from Genoa, where her brother-in-law had been obliged
to go to secure a succession to some property bequeathed to him, had
been captured in the night by the English; but the officer, who was very
polite, had allowed them to go away next day, and very handsomely
permitted them to take all their effects.

"Oh, oh," thought Jack; "I thought I had seen her face before; this then
was one of the girls in the corner of the cabin--now, I'll have some
fun."

During the conversation with the mother, Donna Agnes had remained some
paces behind, picking now and then a flower, and not attending to what
passed.

When our hero and her mother sat down in the pavilion she joined them,
when Jack addressed her with his usual politeness.

"I am almost ashamed to be sitting by you, Donna Agnes, in this ragged
dress--but the rocks of your coast have no respect for persons."

"We are under great obligations, signor, and do not regard such
trifles."

"You are all kindness, signora," replied Jack; "I little thought this
morning of my good fortune--I can tell the fortunes of others, but not
of my own."

"You can tell fortunes!" replied the old lady.

"Yes, madam, I am famous for it--shall I tell your daughter hers?"

Donna Agnes looked at our hero, and smiled.

"I perceive that the young lady does not believe me; I must prove my
art, by telling her of what has already happened to her.  The signora
will then give me credit."

"Certainly, if you do that," replied Agnes.

"Oblige me, by showing me the palm of your hand."

Agnes extended her little hand, and Jack felt so very polite, that he
was nearly kissing it.  However, he restrained himself, and examining
the lines:

"That you were educated in Spain--that you arrived here but two months
ago--that you were captured and released by the English, your mother has
already told me; but to prove to you that I knew all that, I must now be
more particular.  You were in a ship mounting fourteen guns--was it not
so?"

Donna Agnes nodded her head.

"I never told the signor that," cried Donna Clara.  "She was taken by
surprise in the night, and there was no fighting.  The next morning the
English burst open the cabin door; your uncle and your cousin fired
their pistols."

"Holy Virgin!" cried Agnes, with surprise.

"The English officer was a young man, not very good-looking."

"There you are wrong, signor; he was very handsome."

"There is no accounting for taste, signora; you were frightened out of
your wits, and with your cousin you crouched down in the corner of the
cabin.  Let me examine that little line closer--you had--yes, it's no
mistake, you had very little clothes on."

Agnes tore away her hand and covered her face.

"E vero, e vero; Holy Jesus! how could you know that?"

Of a sudden Agnes looked at our hero, and after a minute appeared to
recognise him.

"Oh, mother, 'tis he--I recollect now, 'tis he!"

"Who, my child?" replied Donna Clara, who had been struck dumb with
Jack's astonishing power of fortune-telling.

"The officer who captured us, and was so kind."

Jack burst out into laughter, not to be controlled for some minutes, an
then acknowledged that she had discovered him.

"At all events, Donna Agnes," said he at last, "acknowledge that, ragged
as I am, I have seen you in a much greater deshabille."

Agnes sprang up and took to her heels, that she might hide her
confusion, and at the same time go to her father and tell him who he had
as his guest.

Although Don Rebiera had not yet finished his narrative, this
announcement of Agnes, who ran in breathless to communicate it,
immediately brought all the parties together, and Jack received their
thanks.

"I little thought," said the Don, "that I should have been so doubly
indebted to you, sir.  Command my services as you please, both of you.
My sons are at Palermo, and I trust you will allow them the pleasure of
your friendship when you are tired of remaining with us."

Jack made his politest bow, and then with a shrug of his shoulders,
looked down upon his habiliments, which, to please Gascoigne, he had
torn into ribands, as much as to say, We are not provided for a
lengthened stay.

"My brothers' clothes will fit them, I think," said Agnes to her father;
"they have left plenty in their wardrobes."

"If the signors will condescend to wear them till they can replace their
own."

Midshipmen are very condescending--they followed Don Rebiera, and
condescended to put on clean shirts belonging to Don Philip and Don
Martin; also to put on their trousers--to select their best waistcoats
and coats--in short, they condescended to have a regular fit-out--and it
so happened that the fit-out was not far from a regular _fit_.

Having condescended, they then descended, and the intimacy between all
parties became so great that it appeared as if they not only wore the
young men's clothes, but also stood in their shoes.  Having thus made
themselves presentable, Jack presented his hand to both ladies, and led
them into the garden, that Don Rebiera might finish his long story to
Gascoigne without further interruption, and resuming their seats in the
pavilion, he entertained the ladies with a history of his cruise in the
ship after her capture.  Agnes soon recovered from her reserve, and Jack
had the forbearance not to allude again to the scene in the cabin, which
was the only thing she dreaded.  After dinner, when the family,
according to custom, had retired for the siesta, Gascoigne and Jack, who
had slept enough in the cart to last for a week, went out together in
the garden.

"Well, Ned," said Jack, "do you wish yourself on board the _Harpy_
again?"

"No," replied Gascoigne; "we have fallen on our feet at last, but still
not without first being knocked about like peas in a rattle.  What a
lovely little creature that Agnes is!  How strange that you should fall
in with her again!  How odd that we should come here!"

"My good fellow, we did not come here.  Destiny brought us in a cart.
She may take us to Tyburn in the same way."

"Yes, if you sport your philosophy as you did when we awoke this
morning."

"Nevertheless, I'll be hanged if I'm not right.  Suppose we argue the
point?"

"Right or wrong, you will be hanged, Jack; so instead of arguing the
point, suppose I tell you what the Don made such a long story about."

"With all my heart; let us go to the pavilion."

Our hero and his friend took their seats, and Gascoigne then
communicated the history of Don Rebiera, to which we shall dedicate the
ensuing chapter.



CHAPTER TWENTY.

A LONG STORY, WHICH THE READER MUST LISTEN TO, AS WELL AS OUR HERO.

"I have already made you acquainted with my name, and I have only to
add, that it is one of the most noble in Sicily, and that there are few
families who possess such large estates.  My father was a man who had no
pleasure in the pursuits of most young men of his age; he was of a
weakly constitution, and was with difficulty reared to manhood.  When
his studies were completed he retired to his country-seat, belonging to
our family, which is about twenty miles from Palermo, and shutting
himself up, devoted himself wholly to literary pursuits.

"As he was an only son, his parents were naturally very anxious that he
should marry; the more so as his health did not promise him a very
extended existence.  Had he consulted his own inclinations he would have
declined, but he felt that it was his duty to comply with their wishes;
but he did not trouble himself with the choice, leaving it wholly to
them.  They selected a young lady of high family, and certainly of most
exquisite beauty.  I only wish I could say more in her favour, for she
was my mother; but it is impossible to narrate the history without
exposing her conduct.  The marriage took place, and my father, having
woke up as it were at the celebration, again returned to his closet, to
occupy himself with abstruse studies; the results of which have been
published, and have fully established his reputation as a man of
superior talent and deep research.  But, however much the public may
appreciate the works of a man of genius, whether they be written to
instruct or to amuse, certain it is that a literary man requires, in his
wife, either a mind congenial to his own, or that pride in her husband's
talents which induces her to sacrifice much of her own domestic
enjoyment to the satisfaction of having his name extolled abroad.  I
mention this point as some extenuation of my mother's conduct.  She was
neglected most certainly, but not neglected for frivolous amusements, or
because another form had more captivated his fancy; but, in his desire
to instruct others, and I may add, his ambition for renown, he applied
himself to his literary pursuits, became abstracted, answered without
hearing, and left his wife to amuse herself in any way she might please.
A literary husband is, without exception, although always at home, the
least domestic husband in the world, and must try the best of tempers,
not by unkindness, for my father was kind and indulgent to excess, but
by that state of perfect abstraction and indifference which he showed to
everything except the favourite pursuit which absorbed him.  My mother
had but to speak, and every wish was granted--a refusal was unknown.
You may say, what could she want more; I reply, that anything to a woman
is preferable to indifference.  The immediate consent to every wish took
away, in her opinion, all merit in the grant; the value of everything is
only relative, and in proportion to the difficulty of obtaining it.  The
immediate assent to every opinion was tantamount to insult; it implied
that he did not choose to argue with her.

"It is true that women like to have their own way; but they like, at the
same time, to have difficulties to surmount and to conquer; otherwise,
half the gratification is lost.  Although tempests are to be deplored,
still a certain degree of oscillation and motion are requisite to keep
fresh and clear the lake of matrimony, the waters of which otherwise
soon stagnate and become foul, and without some contrary currents of
opinion between a married couple such a stagnation must take place.

"A woman permitted always and invariably to have her own way without
control, is much in the same situation as the child who insists upon a
whole instead of half a holiday, and before the evening closes is tired
of himself and everything about him.  In short, a little contradiction,
like salt at dinner, seasons and appetises the repast; but too much,
like the condiment in question, spoils the whole, and it becomes
unpalatable in proportion to its excess.

"My mother was a vain woman in every sense of the word--vain of her
birth and of her beauty, and accustomed to receive that homage to which
she considered herself entitled.  She had been spoiled in her infancy,
and as she grew up had learned nothing, because she was permitted to do
as she pleased; she was therefore frivolous, and could not appreciate
what she could not comprehend.  There never was a more ill-assorted
union."

"I have always thought that such must be the case," replied Gascoigne,
"in Catholic countries, where a young person is taken out of a convent
and mated according to what her family or her wealth may consider as the
most eligible connection."

"On that subject there are many opinions, my friend," replied Don
Rebiera.  "It is true, that when a marriage of convenience is arranged
by the parents, the dispositions of the parties are made a secondary
point; but then, again, it must be remembered, that when a choice is
left to the parties themselves, it is at an age at which there is little
worldly consideration: and, led away, in the first place, by their
passions, they form connections with those inferior in their station,
which are attended with eventual unhappiness; or, in the other, allowing
that they do choose in their own rank of life, they make quite as bad or
often a worse choice than if their partners were selected for them."

"I cannot understand that," replied Gascoigne.

"The reason is, because there are no means, or if means, no wish, to
study each other's disposition.  A young man is attracted by person, and
he admires; the young woman is flattered by the admiration, and is
agreeable; if she has any faults she is not likely to display them--not
concealing them from hypocrisy, but because they are not called out.
The young man falls in love, so does the young woman; and when once in
love, they can no longer see faults; they marry, imagining that they
have found perfection.  In the blindness of love, each raises the other
to a standard of perfection which human nature can never attain, and
each becomes equally annoyed on finding, by degrees, that they were in
error.  The reaction takes place, and they then underrate, as much as
before they had overrated, each other.  Now, if two young people marry
without this violence of passion, they do not expect to find each other
perfect, and perhaps have a better chance of happiness."

"I don't agree with you," thought Gascoigne; "but as you appear to be as
fond of argument as my friend Jack, I shall make no reply, lest there he
no end to the story."

Don Rebiera proceeded.

"My mother, finding that my father preferred his closet and his books to
gaiety and dissipation, soon left him to himself, and amused herself
after her own fashion, but not until I was born, which was ten months
after their marriage.  My father was confiding, and, pleased that my
mother should be amused, he indulged her in everything.  Time flew on,
and I had arrived at my fifteenth year, and came home from my studies,
it being intended that I should enter the army, which you are aware is
generally the only profession embraced in this country by the heirs of
noble families.  Of course, I knew little of what had passed at home,
but still I had occasionally heard my mother spoken lightly of, when I
was not supposed to be present, and I always heard my father's name
mentioned with compassion, as if an ill-used man, but I knew nothing
more: still this was quite sufficient for a young man, whose blood
boiled at the idea of anything like a stigma being cast upon his family.
I arrived at my father's--I found him at his books; I paid my respects
to my mother--I found her with her confessor.  I disliked the man at
first sight; he was handsome, certainly: his forehead was high and
white, his eyes large and fiery, and his figure commanding; but there
was a dangerous, proud look about him which disgusted me--nothing like
humility or devotion.  I might have admired him as an officer commanding
a regiment of cavalry, but as a churchman he appeared to be most
misplaced.  She named me with kindness, but he appeared to treat me with
disdain; he spoke authoritatively to my mother, who appeared to yield
implicitly, and I discovered that he was lord of the whole household.
My mother, too, it was said, had given up gaieties and become devout.  I
soon perceived more than a common intelligence between them, and before
I had been two months at home I had certain proofs of my father's
dishonour; and what was still more unfortunate for me, they were aware
that such was the case.  My first impulse was to acquaint my father;
but, on consideration, I thought it better to say nothing, provided I
could persuade my mother to dismiss Father Ignatio.  I took an
opportunity when she was alone to express my indignation at her conduct,
and to demand his immediate dismissal, as a condition of my not
divulging her crime.  She appeared frightened, and gave her consent; but
I soon found that her confessor had more power with her than I had, and
he remained.  I now resolved to acquaint my father, and I roused him
from his studies that he might listen to his shame.  I imagined that he
would have acted calmly and discreetly; but, on the contrary, his
violence was without bounds, and I had the greatest difficulty from
preventing his rushing with his sword to sacrifice them both.  At last
he contented himself by turning Father Ignatio out of the house in the
most ignominious manner, and desiring my mother to prepare for seclusion
in a convent for the remainder of her days.  But he fell their victim;
three days afterwards, as my mother was, by his directions, about to be
removed, he was seized with convulsions and died.  I need hardly say,
that he was carried off by poison; this, however, could not be
established till long afterwards.  Before he died he seemed to be almost
supernaturally prepared for an event which never came into my thoughts.
He sent for another confessor, who drew up his confession in writing at
his own request, and afterwards inserted it in his will.  My mother
remained in the house, and Father Ignatio had the insolence to return.
I ordered him away, and he resisted.  He was turned out by the servants.
I had an interview with my mother, who defied me, and told me that I
should soon have a brother to share in the succession.  I felt that, if
so, it would be the illegitimate progeny of her adultery, and told her
my opinion.  She expressed her rage in the bitterest curses, and I left
her.  Shortly afterwards she quitted the house and retired to another of
our country-seats, where she lived with Father Ignatio as before.  About
four months afterwards, formal notice was sent to me of the birth of a
brother; but as, when my father's will was opened, he there had inserted
his confession, or the substance of it, in which he stated, that aware
of my mother's guilt, and supposing that consequences might ensue, he
solemnly declared before God that he had for years lived apart, I cared
little for this communication.  I contented myself with replying that as
the child belonged to the church, it had better be dedicated to its
service.

"I had, however, soon reason to acknowledge the vengeance of my mother
and her paramour.  One night I was attacked by bravos; and had I not
fortunately received assistance, I should have forfeited my life; as it
was, I received a severe wound.

"Against attempts of that kind I took every precaution in future, but
still every attempt was made to ruin my character, as well as to take my
life.  A young sister disappeared from a convent in my neighbourhood,
and on the ground near the window from which she descended, was found a
hat, recognised to be mine.  I was proceeded against, and
notwithstanding the strongest interest, it was with difficulty that the
affair was arranged, although I had incontestably proved an _alibi_.

"A young man of rank was found murdered, with a stiletto, known to be
mine, buried in his bosom, and it was with difficulty that I could
establish my innocence.

"Part of a banditti had been seized, and on being asked the name of
their chief, when they received absolution, they confessed that I was
the chief of the band.

"Everything that could be attempted was put into practice; and if I did
not lose my life, at all events I was avoided by almost everybody as a
dangerous and doubtful character.

"At last a nobleman of rank, the father of Don Scipio, whom you
disarmed, was assassinated; the bravos were taken, and they acknowledged
that I was the person who hired them.  I defended myself, but the king
imposed upon me a heavy fine and banishment.  I had just received the
order, and was crying out against the injustice, and lamenting my hard
fate, as I sat down to dinner.  Latterly, aware of what my enemies would
attempt, I had been accustomed to live much alone.  My faithful valet
Pedro was my only attendant.  I was eating my dinner with little
appetite, and had asked for some wine.  Pedro went to the beaufet behind
him, to give me what I required.  Accidentally I lifted up my head, and
there being a large pier-glass opposite to me, I saw the figure of my
valet, and that he was pouring a powder in the flagon of wine which he
was about to present to me.  I recollected the hat being found at the
nunnery, and also the stiletto in the body of the young man.

"Like lightning it occurred to me that I had been fostering the viper
who had assisted to destroy me.  He brought me the flagon.  I rose,
locked the door, and drawing my sword, I addressed him:--

"`Villain; I know thee; down on your knees, for your life is forfeited.'

"He turned pale, trembled, and sank upon his knees.

"`Now, then,' continued I, `you have but one chance--either drink off
this flagon of wine, or I pass my sword through your body.'  He
hesitated, and I put the point to his breast--even pierced the flesh a
quarter of an inch.

"`Drink,' cried I--`is it so very unjust an order to tell you to drink
old wine?  Drink,' continued I, `or my sword does its duty.'

"He drank, and would then have quitted the room.  `No, no,' said I, `you
remain herd, and the wine must have its effect.  If I have wronged you I
will make amends to you--but I am suspicious.'

"In about a quarter of an hour, during which time I paced up and down
the room, with my sword drawn, my servant fell down, and cried in mercy
to let him have a priest.  I sent for my own confessor, and he then
acknowledged that he was an agent of my mother and Father Ignatio, and
had been the means of making it appear that I was the committer of all
the crimes and murders which had been perpetrated by them, with a view
to my destruction.  A strong emetic having been administered to him, he
partially revived, and was taken to Palermo, where he gave his evidence
before he expired.

"When this was made known, the king revoked his sentence, apologised to
me, and I found that once more I was visited and courted by everybody.
My mother was ordered to be shut up in a convent, where she died, I
trust, in grace, and Father Ignatio fled to Italy, and I have been
informed is since dead.

"Having thus rid myself of my principal enemies, I considered myself
safe.  I married the lady whom you have just seen, and before my eldest
son was born, Don Silvio, for such was the name given to my asserted
legitimate brother, came of age, and demanded his succession.  Had he
asked me for a proper support, as my uterine brother, I should not have
refused; but that the son of Friar Ignatio, who had so often attempted
my life, should, in case of my decease, succeed to the title and
estates, was not to be borne.  A lawsuit was immediately commenced,
which lasted four or five years, during which Don Silvio married, and
had a son, that young man whom you heard me address by the same name;
but after much litigation, it was decided that my father's confessor and
will had proved his illegitimacy, and the suit was in my favour.  From
that time to this there has been a constant enmity.  Don Silvio refused
all my offers of assistance, and followed me with a pertinacity which
often endangered my life.  At last he fell by the hands of his own
agents, who mistook him for me.  Don Silvio died without leaving any
provision for his family; his widow I pensioned, and his son I have had
carefully brought up, and have indeed treated most liberally, but he
appears to have imbibed the spirit of his father, and no kindness has
been able to imbue him with gratitude.

"He had lately been placed by me in the army, where he found out my two
sons, and quarrelled with them both upon slight pretence; but, in both
instances, he was wounded and carried off the field.

"My two sons have been staying with me these last two months, and did
not leave till yesterday.  This morning Don Silvio, accompanied by Don
Scipio, came to the house, and after accusing me of being the murderer
of both their parents, drew their rapiers to assassinate me.  My wife
and child, hearing the noise, came down to my assistance--you know the
rest."



CHAPTER TWENTY ONE.

IN WHICH OUR HERO IS BROUGHT UP ALL STANDING UNDER A PRESS OF SAIL.

Our limits will not permit us to relate all that passed during our
hero's stay of a fortnight at Don Rebiera's.  He and Gascoigne were
treated as if they were his own sons, and the kindness of the female
part of the family was equally remarkable.  Agnes, naturally perhaps,
showed a preference or partiality for Jack: to which Gascoigne willingly
submitted, as he felt that our hero had a prior and stronger claim, and
during the time that they remained a feeling of attachment was created
between Agnes and the philosopher, which, if not love, was at least
something very near akin to it; but the fact was, that they were both
much too young to think of marriage; and, although they walked and
talked, and laughed, and played together, they were always at home in
time for their dinner.  Still, the young lady thought she preferred our
hero even to her brothers, and Jack thought that the young lady was the
prettiest and kindest girl that he had ever met with.  At the end of the
fortnight our two midshipmen took their leave, furnished with letters of
recommendation to many of the first nobility in Palermo, and mounted on
two fine mules with bell bridles.  The old Donna kissed them both--the
Don showered down his blessings of good wishes, and Donna Agnes's lips
trembled as she bade them adieu; and, as soon as they were gone, she
went up to her chamber and wept.  Jack also was very grave, and his eyes
moistened at the thoughts of leaving Agnes.  Neither of them were aware,
until the hour of parting, how much they had wound themselves together.

The first quarter of an hour our two midshipmen followed their guide in
silence.  Jack wished to be left to his own thoughts, and Gascoigne
perceived it.

"Well, Easy," said Gascoigne, at last, "if I had been in your place,
constantly in company of, and loved by, that charming girl, I could
never have torn myself away."

"Loved by her, Ned!" replied Jack; "what makes you say that?"

"Because I am sure it was the case; she lived but in your presence.
Why, if you were out of the room, she never spoke a word, but sat there
as melancholy as a sick monkey--the moment you came in again she beamed
out as glorious as the sun, and was all life and spirit."

"I thought people were always melancholy when they were in love,"
replied Jack.

"When those that they love are out of their presence."

"Well, then, I am out of her presence, and I feel very melancholy, so I
suppose, by your argument, I am in love.  Can a man be in love without
knowing it?"

"I really cannot say, Jack, I never was in love myself, but I've seen
many others _spooney_.  My time will come, I suppose, by-and-bye.  They
say that for every man made there is a woman also made to fit him, if he
could only find her.  Now, it's my opinion that you have found yours--
I'll lay my life she's crying at this moment."

"Do you really think so, Ned? let's go back--poor little Agnes--let's go
back; I feel I do love her, and I'll tell her so."

"Pooh, nonsense! it's too late now; you should have told her that
before, when you walked with her in the garden."

"But I did not know it, Ned.  However, as you say, it would be foolish
to turn back, so I'll write to her from Palermo."

Here an argument ensued upon love, which we shall not trouble the reader
with, as it was not very profound, both sides knowing very little on the
subject.  It did, however, end with our hero being convinced that he was
desperately in love, and he talked about giving up the service as soon
as he arrived at Malta.  It is astonishing what sacrifices midshipmen
will make for the objects of their adoration.

It was not until late in the evening that our adventurers arrived at
Palermo.  As soon as they were lodged at the hotel, Gascoigne sat down
and wrote a letter in their joint names to Don Rebiera, returning him
many thanks for his great kindness, informing him of their safe arrival,
and trusting that they should soon meet again: and Jack took up his pen,
and indited a letter in Spanish to Agnes, in which he swore that neither
tide nor time, nor water, nor air, nor heaven, nor earth, nor the first
lieutenant, nor his father, nor absence, nor death itself, should
prevent him from coming back and marrying her, the first convenient
opportunity, begging her to refuse a thousand offers, as come back he
would, although there was no saying when.  It was a perfect love-letter,
that is to say, it was the essence of nonsense, but that made it
perfect, for the greater the love the greater the folly.

These letters were consigned to the man who was sent as their guide, and
also had to return with the mules.  He was liberally rewarded; and, as
Jack told him to be very careful of his letter, the Italian naturally
concluded that it was to be delivered clandestinely, and he delivered it
accordingly, at a time when Agnes was walking in the garden thinking of
our hero.  Nothing was more opportune than the arrival of the letter;
Agnes ran to the pavilion, read it over twenty times, kissed it twenty
times, and hid it in her bosom; sat for a few minutes in deep and placid
thought, took the letter out of its receptacle, and read it over and
over again.  It was very bad Spanish and very absurd, but she thought it
delightful, poetical, classical, sentimental, argumentative, convincing,
incontrovertible, imaginative, and even grammatical, for if it was not
good Spanish, there was no Spanish half so good.  Alas!  Agnes was,
indeed, unsophisticated, to be in such ecstasies with a midshipman's
love-letter.  Once more she hastened to her room to weep, but it was
from excess of joy and delight.  The reader may think Agnes silly, but
he must take into consideration the climate, and that she was not yet
fifteen.

Our young gentlemen sent for a tailor and each ordered a new suit of
clothes; they delivered their letters of recommendation, and went to the
banker to whom they were addressed by Don Rebiera.

"I shall draw for ten pounds, Jack," said Gascoigne, "on the strength of
the shipwreck; I shall tell the truth, all except that we forgot to ask
for leave, which I shall leave out; and I am sure the story will be
worth ten pounds.  What shall you draw for, Jack?"

"I shall draw for two hundred pounds," replied Jack; "I mean to have a
good cruise while I can."

"But will your governor stand that, Easy?"

"To be sure he will."

"Then you're right--he is a philosopher--I wish he'd teach mine, for he
hates the sight of a bill."

"Then don't you draw, Ned--I have plenty for both.  If every man had his
equal share and rights in the world, you would be as able to draw as
much as I; and, as you cannot, upon the principles of equality, you
shall have half."

"I really shall become a convert to your philosophy, Jack; it does not
appear to be so nonsensical as I thought it.  At all events it has saved
my old governor ten pounds, which he can ill afford, as a colonel on
half-pay."

On their return to the inn, they found Don Philip and Don Martin, to
whom Don Rebiera had written, who welcomed them with open arms.  They
were two very fine young men of eighteen and nineteen, who were
finishing their education in the army.  Jack asked them to dinner, and
they and our hero soon became inseparable.  They took him to all the
theatres, the conversaziones of all the nobility, and, as Jack lost his
money with good humour, and was a very handsome fellow, he was
everywhere well received and was made much of: many ladies made love to
him, but Jack was only very polite, because he thought more and more of
Agnes every day.  Three weeks passed away like lightning, and neither
Jack nor Gascoigne thought of going back.  At last, one fine day, H.M.
frigate _Aurora_ anchored in the bay, and Jack and Gascoigne, who were
at a party at the Duke of Pentaro's, met with the captain of the
_Aurora_, who was also invited.  The duchess introduced them to Captain
Tartar, who, imagining them, from their being in plain clothes, to be
young Englishmen of fortune on their travels, was very gracious and
condescending.  Jack was so pleased with his urbanity that he requested
the pleasure of his company to dinner the next day: Captain Tartar
accepted the invitation, and they parted, shaking hands, with many
expressions of pleasure in having made his acquaintance.  Jack's party
was rather large, and the dinner sumptuous.  The Sicilian gentlemen did
not drink much wine, but Captain Tartar liked his bottle, and although
the rest of the company quitted the table to go to a ball given that
evening by the Marquesa Novara, Jack was too polite not to sit it out
with the captain: Gascoigne closed his chair to Jack's, who, he was
afraid, being a little affected with the wine, would "let the cat out of
the bag."

The captain was amazingly entertaining.  Jack told him how happy he
should be to see him at Forest Hill, which property the captain
discovered to contain six thousand acres of land, and also that Jack was
an only son; and Captain Tartar was quite respectful when he found that
he was in such very excellent company.  The captain of the frigate
inquired of Jack what brought him out here, and Jack, whose prudence was
departing, told him that he came in his Majesty's ship _Harpy_.
Gascoigne gave Jack a nudge, but was of no use, for as the wine got into
Jack's brain, so did his notions of equality.

"Oh!  Wilson gave you a passage; he's an old friend of mine."

"So he is of ours," replied Jack; "he's a devilish good sort of a
fellow, Wilson."

"But where have you been since you came out?" inquired Captain Tartar.

"In the _Harpy_," replied Jack, "to be sure, I belong to her."

"You belong to her! in what capacity may I ask?" inquired Captain
Tartar, in a much less respectful and confidential tone.

"Midshipman," replied Jack; "so is Mr Gascoigne."

"Umph! you are on leave then."

"No, indeed," replied Jack; "I'll tell you how it is, my dear fellow."

"Excuse me for one moment," replied Captain Tartar, rising up; "I must
give some directions to my servant which I forgot."

Captain Tartar hailed his coxswain out of the window, gave orders just
outside of the door, and then returned to the table.  In the meantime,
Gascoigne, who expected a breeze, had been cautioning Jack, in a low
tone, at intervals, when Captain Tartar's back was turned; but it was
useless, the extra quantity of wine had got into Jack's head, and he
cared nothing for Gascoigne's remonstrance.  When the captain resumed
his seat at the table, Jack gave him the true narrative of all that had
passed, to which his guest paid the greatest attention.  Jack wound up
his confidence by saying that in a week or so he should go back to Don
Rebiera and propose for Donna Agnes.

"Ah!" exclaimed Captain Tartar, drawing his breath with astonishment and
compressing his lips.

"Tartar, the wine stands with you," said Jack, "allow me to help you."

Captain Tartar threw himself back in his chair, and let all the air out
of his chest with a sort of whistle, as if he could hardly contain
himself.

"Have you had wine enough?" said Jack, very politely; "if so, we will go
to the Marquesa's."

The coxswain came to the door, touched his hat to the captain, and
looked significantly.

"And so, sir," cried Captain Tartar, in a voice of thunder, rising from
his chair, "you're a damned runaway midshipman, who, if you belonged to
my ship, instead of marrying Donna Agnes, I would marry you to the
gunner's daughter, by God!  Two midshipmen sporting plain clothes in the
best society in Palermo, and having the impudence to ask a post-captain
to dine with them!  To ask me, and address me as _Tartar_, and _my dear
fellow_! you infernal young scamps!" continued Captain Tartar, now
boiling with rage, and striking his fist on the table so as to set all
the glasses waltzing.

"Allow me to observe, sir," said Jack, who was completely sobered by the
address, "that we do not belong to your ship, and that we are in plain
clothes."

"In plain clothes--midshipmen in mufti--yes, you are so: a couple of
young swindlers, without a sixpence in your pocket, passing yourselves
off as young men of fortune, and walking off through the window without
paying your bill."

"Do you mean to call me a swindler, sir?" replied Jack.

"Yes, sir, you--"

"Then you lie," exclaimed our hero, in a rage.  "I am a gentleman, sir--
I am sorry I cannot pay you the same compliment."

The astonishment and rage of Captain Tartar took away his breath.  He
tried to speak, but could not--he gasped and gasped, and then sat or
almost fell down in his chair--at last he recovered himself.

"Matthews--Matthews!"

"Sir," replied the coxswain, who had remained at the door.

"The sergeant of marines."

"Here he is, sir."

The sergeant entered, and raised the back of his hand to his hat.

"Bring your marines in--take charge of these two.  Direct you are on
board, put them both legs in irons."

The marines with their bayonets walked in and took possession of our
hero and Gascoigne.

"Perhaps, sir," replied Jack, who was now cool again, "you will permit
us to pay our bill before we go on board.  We are no swindlers, and it
is rather a heavy one--or, as you have taken possession of our persons,
you will, perhaps, do us the favour to discharge it yourself;" and Jack
threw on the table a heavy purse of dollars.  "I have only to observe,
Captain Tartar, that I wish to be very liberal to the waiters."

"Sergeant, let them pay their bill," said Captain Tartar, in a more
subdued tone--taking his hat and sword, and walking out of the room.

"By heavens, Easy, what have you done?--you will be tried by a
court-martial, and turned out of the service."

"I hope so," replied Jack; "I was a fool to come into it.  But he called
me a swindler, and I would give the same answer to-morrow."

"If you are ready, gentlemen," said the sergeant, who had been long
enough with Captain Tartar to be aware that to be punished by him was no
proof of fault having been committed.

"I will go and pack up our things, Easy, while you pay the bill," said
Gascoigne.  "Marine, you had better come with me."

In less than half an hour, our hero and his comrade, instead of finding
themselves at the Marquesa's ball, found themselves very comfortably in
irons under the half-deck of H.M. frigate _Aurora_.

We shall leave them, and return to Captain Tartar, who had proceeded to
the ball, to which he had been invited.  On his entering he was accosted
by Don Martin and Don Philip, who inquired what had become of our hero
and his friend.  Captain Tartar, who was in no very good humour, replied
briskly, "that they were on board his ship in irons."

"In irons! for what?" exclaimed Don Philip.

"Because, sir, they are a couple of young scamps who have introduced
themselves into the best company, passing themselves off as people of
consequence, when they are only a couple of midshipmen who have run away
from their ship."

Now the Rebieras knew very well that Jack and his friend were
midshipmen; but this did not appear to them any reason why they should
not be considered as gentlemen, and treated accordingly.

"Do you mean to say, signor," said Don Philip, "that you have accepted
their hospitality, laughed, talked, walked arm in arm with them, pledged
them in wine, as we have seen you this evening, and after they have
confided in you that you have put them in irons?"

"Yes, sir, I do," replied Captain Tartar.

"Then, by Heaven, you have my defiance, and you are no gentleman!"
replied Don Philip, the elder.

"And I repeat my brother's words, sir," cried Don Martin.

The two brothers felt so much attachment for our hero, who had twice
rendered such signal service to their family, that their anger was
without bounds.

In every other service but the English navy there is not that power of
grossly insulting and then sheltering yourself under your rank; nor is
it necessary for the discipline of any service.  To these young
officers, if the power did exist, the use of such power under such
circumstances appeared monstrous, and they were determined, at all
events, to show to Captain Tartar, that in society, at least, it could
be resented.  They collected their friends, told them what had passed,
and begged them to circulate it through the room.  This was soon done,
and Captain Tartar found himself avoided.  He went up to the Marquesa
and spoke to her--she turned her head the other way.  He addressed a
count he had been conversing with the night before--he turned short
round upon his heel, while Don Philip and Don Martin walked up and down
talking, so that he might hear what they said, and looking at him with
eyes flashing with indignation.  Captain Tartar left the ball-room and
returned to the inn, more indignant than ever.  When he rose the next
morning he was informed that a gentleman wished to speak with him; he
sent up his card as Don Ignatio Verez, colonel commanding the fourth
regiment of infantry.  On being admitted, he informed Captain Tartar
that Don Philip de Rebiera wished to have the pleasure of crossing
swords with him, and requested to know when it would be convenient for
Captain Tartar to meet him.

It was not in Captain Tartar's nature to refuse a challenge; his courage
was unquestionable, but he felt indignant that a midshipman should be
the cause of his getting into such a scrape.  He accepted the challenge,
but having no knowledge of the small-sword, refused to fight unless with
pistols.  To this the colonel raised no objections, and Captain Tartar
despatched his coxswain with a note to his second lieutenant, for he was
not on good terms with his first.  The meeting took place--at the first
fire the ball of Don Philip passed through Captain Tartar's brain, and
he instantly fell dead.  The second lieutenant hastened on board to
report the fatal result of the meeting, and shortly after, Don Philip
and his brother, with many of their friends, went off in the Governor's
barge to condole with our hero.

The first lieutenant, now captain _pro tempore_, received them
graciously, and listened to their remonstrances relative to our hero and
Gascoigne.

"I have never been informed by the captain of the grounds of complaint
against the young gentlemen," replied he, "and have therefore no change
to prefer against them.  I shall therefore order them to be liberated.
But, as I learn that they are officers belonging to one of his Majesty's
ships lying at Malta, I feel it my duty, as I sail immediately, to take
them there and send them on board of their own ship."

Jack and Gascoigne were then taken out of irons and permitted to see Don
Philip, who informed him that he had revenged the insult, but Jack and
Gascoigne did not wish to go on shore again after what had passed.
After an hour's conversation, and assurances of continued friendship,
Don Philip, his brother, and their friends, took leave of our two
midshipmen, and rowed on shore.

And now we must be serious.

We do not write these novels merely to amuse,--we have always had it in
our view to instruct, and it must not be supposed that we have no other
end in view than to make the reader laugh.  If we were to write an
elaborate work, telling truths, and plain truths, confining ourselves
only to point out errors and to demand reform, it would not be read; we
have therefore selected this light and trifling species of writing, as
it is by many denominated, as a channel through which we may convey
wholesome advice a palatable shape.  If we would point out an error, we
draw a character, and although that character appears to weave naturally
into the tale of fiction, it becomes as much a beacon, as is a vehicle
of amusement.  We consider this to be the true art of novel-writing, and
that crime and folly and error can be as severely lashed, as virtue and
morality can be upheld, by a series of amusing causes and effects, that
entice the reader to take a medicine, which, although rendered agreeable
to the palate, still produces the same internal benefit as if it had
been presented to him in its crude state, in which it would either be
refused or nauseated.

In our naval novels, we have often pointed out the errors which have
existed, and still do exist, in a service which an honour to its
country; for what institution is there on earth that is perfect, or into
which, if it once was perfect, abuses will not creep?  Unfortunately,
others have written to decry the service, and many have raised up their
voices against our writings, because they felt that, in exposing error,
we were exposing them.  But to this we have been indifferent; we felt
that we were doing good, and we have continued.  To prove that we are
correct in asserting that we have done good, we will, out of several,
state one single case.

In "The King's Own," a captain, when requested to punish a man
_instanter_ for a fault committed, replies that he never has and never
will punish a man until twenty-four hours after the offence, that he may
not be induced by the anger of the moment to award a severer punishment
than in his cooler moments he might think commensurate--and that he
wished that the Admiralty would give out an order to that effect.

Some time after the publication of that work, the order was given by the
Admiralty, forbidding the punishment until a certain time had elapsed
after the offence; and we had the pleasure of knowing from the First
Lord of the Admiralty of the time, that it was in consequence of the
suggestion in the novel.

If our writings had effected nothing else, we might still lay down our
pen with pride and satisfaction; but they have done more, much more, and
while they have amused the reader, they have improved the service; they
have held up in their characters a mirror, in which those who have been
in error may see their own deformity, and many hints which have been
given, have afterwards returned to the thoughts of those who have had
influence, have been considered as their own ideas, and have been acted
upon.  The conduct of Captain Tartar may be considered as a libel on the
service--is it not?  The fault of Captain Tartar was not in sending them
on board, or even putting them in irons as deserters, although, under
the circumstances, he might have shown more delicacy.  The fault was in
stigmatising a young man as a swindler, and the punishment awarded to
the error is intended to point out the moral, that such an abuse of
power should be severely visited.  The greatest error now in our
service, is the disregard shown to the feelings of the junior officers
in the language of their superiors: that an improvement has taken place
I grant, but that it still exists, to a degree injurious to the service,
I know too well.  The articles of war, as our hero was informed by his
captain, were equally binding on officers and crew; but what a dead
letter do they become if officers are permitted to break them with
impunity!  The captain of a ship will turn the hands up to punishment,
read the article of war for the transgressing of which the punishment is
inflicted, and to show at that time their high respect for the articles
of war, the captain and every officer take off their hats.  The moment
the hands are piped down, the second article of war, which forbids all
swearing, etcetera, in derogation of God's honour, is immediately
disregarded.  We are not strait-laced,--we care little about an oath as
a mere _expletive_; we refer now to swearing at _others_, to insulting
their feelings grossly by coarse and intemperate language.  We would
never interfere with a man for damning his _own_ eyes, but we deny the
right of his damning those of _another_.

The rank of a master in the service is above that of a midshipman, but
still the midshipman is a gentleman by birth, and the master, generally
speaking, is not.  Even at this moment, in the service, if the master
were to damn the eyes of a midshipman, and tell him that he was a liar,
would there be any redress, or if so, would it be commensurate to the
insult?  If a midshipman were to request a court-martial, would it be
granted?--certainly not: and yet this is a point of more importance than
may be conceived.  Our service has been wonderfully improved since the
peace, and those who are now permitted to enter it must be gentlemen.
We know that even now there are many who cry out against this as
dangerous and injurious to the service; as if education spoiled an
officer, and the scion of an illustrious house would not be more careful
to uphold an escutcheon without blemish for centuries, than one who has
little more than brute courage; but those who argue thus are the very
people who are injurious to the service, for they can have no other
reason, except that they wish that the juniors may be tyrannised over
with impunity.

But it remembered that these are not the observations of a junior
officer smarting under insult--they are the result of deep and calm
reflection.  We have arrived to that grade, that, although we have the
power to inflict, we are too high to receive insult, but we have not
forgotten how our young blood has boiled when wanton, reckless, and
cruel torture has been heaped upon our feelings, merely because, as a
junior officer, we were not in a position to retaliate, or even to
reply.  And another evil is, that this _great error_ is _disseminated_.
In observing on it, in one of our works, called _Peter Simple_, we have
put the following true observation in the mouth of O'Brien.  Peter
observes, in his simple, right-minded way:

"I should think, O'Brien, that the very circumstance of having had your
feelings so often wounded by such language when you were a junior
officer would make you doubly careful not to use it towards others, when
you had advanced in the service?"

"Peter, that's just the first feeling, which wears away after a time,
till at last, your own sense of indignation becomes blunted, and becomes
indifferent to it; you forget, also, that you wound the feelings of
others, and carry the habit with, you, to the great injury and disgrace
of the service."

Let it not be supposed that in making these remarks we want to cause
litigation, or insubordination.  On the contrary, we assert that this
error is the cause, and eventually will be much more the cause, of
insubordination; for as the junior officers who enter the service are
improved, so will they resist it.  The complaint here is more against
the officers, than the captains, whose power has been perhaps already
too much curtailed by late regulations: that power must remain, for
although there may be some few who are so perverted as to make those
whom they command uncomfortable, in justice to the service we are proud
to assert that the majority acknowledge, by their conduct, that the
greatest charm attached to power is to be able to make so many people
happy.



CHAPTER TWENTY TWO.

OUR HERO IS SICK WITH THE SERVICE, BUT RECOVERS WITH PROPER MEDICINE--AN
ARGUMENT, ENDING, AS MOST DO, IN A BLOW UP--MESTY LECTURES UPON
CRANIOLOGY.

The day after the funeral, H.M. ship _Aurora_ sailed for Malta, and on
her arrival the acting captain sent our two midshipmen on board the
_Harpy_ without any remark, except "victualled the day discharged," as
they had been borne on the ship's books as supernumeraries.

Mr James, who was acting in the _Aurora_, was anxious to join the
admiral at Toulon, and intended to sail the next day.  He met Captain
Wilson at the Governor's table, and stated that Jack and Gascoigne had
been put in irons by order of Captain Tartar; his suspicions, and the
report that the duel had in consequence taken place; but Gascoigne and
Jack had both agreed that they would not communicate the events of their
cruise to anybody on board of the _Aurora_; and therefore nothing else
was known, except that they must have made powerful friends somehow or
another; and there appeared in the conduct of Captain Tartar, as well as
in the whole transaction, somewhat of a mystery.

"I should like to know what happened to my friend Jack, who fought the
duel," said the Governor, who had laughed at it till he held his sides;
"Wilson, do bring him here to-morrow morning, and let us have his
story."

"I am afraid of encouraging him, Sir Thomas--he is much too wild
already.  I told you of his first cruise.  He has nothing but
adventures, and they all end too favourably."

"Well, but you can send for him here and blow him up just as well as in
your own cabin, and then we will have the truth out of him."

"That you certainly will," replied Captain Wilson, "for he tells it
plainly enough."

"Well, to oblige me, send for him--I don't see he was much to blame in
absconding, as it appears he thought he would be hung--I want to see the
lad."

"Well, Governor, if you wish it," replied Captain Wilson, who wrote a
note to Mr Sawbridge, requesting he would send Mr Easy to him at the
Governor's house at ten o'clock in the morning.

Jack made his appearance in his uniform--he did not much care for what
was said to him, as he was resolved to leave the service.  He had been
put in irons, and the iron had _entered into his soul_.

Mr Sawbridge had gone on shore about an hour before Jack had been sent
on board, and he had remained on shore all the night.  He did not
therefore see Jack but for a few minutes, and thinking it his duty to
say nothing to him at first, or to express his displeasure, he merely
observed to him that the captain would speak to him as soon as he came
on board.  As Gascoigne and our hero did not know how far it might be
safe, even at Malta, to acknowledge to what occurred on board the
speronare, which might get wind, they did not even tell their messmates,
resolving only to confide it to the captain.

When Jack was ushered into the presence of the captain, he found him
sitting with the Governor, and the breakfast on the table ready for
them.  Jack walked in with courage, but respectfully.  He was fond of
Captain Wilson, and wished to show him respect.  Captain Wilson
addressed him, pointed out that he had committed a great error in
fighting a duel, a greater error in demeaning himself by fighting the
purser's steward, and still greater in running away from his ship.  Jack
looked respectfully to Captain Wilson, acknowledged that he had done
wrong, and promised to be more careful another time, if Captain Wilson
would look over it.

"Captain Wilson, allow me to plead for the young gentleman," said the
Governor; "I am convinced that it has only been an error in judgment."

"Well, Mr Easy, as you express your contrition, and the Governor
interferes in your behalf, I shall take no more notice of this; but
recollect, Mr Easy, that you have occasioned me a great deal of anxiety
by your mad pranks, and I trust another time you will remember that I am
too anxious for your welfare not to be uncomfortable when you run such
risks.  You may now go on board to your duty, and tell Mr Gascoigne to
do the same; and pray let us hear of no more duels or running away."

Jack, whose heart softened at this kind treatment, did not venture to
speak; he made his bow, and was about to quit the room, when the
Governor said:

"Mr Easy, you have not breakfasted."

"I have, sir," replied Jack, "before I came on shore."

"But a midshipman can always eat two breakfasts, particularly when his
own comes first--so sit down and breakfast with us--it's all over now."

"Even if it was not," replied Captain Wilson, laughing, "I doubt whether
it would spoil Mr Easy's breakfast;--come, Mr Easy, sit down."

Jack bowed, and took his chair, and proved that his lecture had not
taken away his appetite.  When breakfast was over, Captain Wilson
observed:

"Mr Easy, you have generally a few adventures to speak of when you
return; will you tell the Governor and me what has taken place since you
left us."

"Certainly, sir," replied Jack; "but I venture to request that it may be
under the promise of secrecy, for it's rather important to me and
Gascoigne."

"Yes, if secrecy is really necessary, my boy; but I'm the best judge of
that," replied the Governor.

Jack then entered into a detail of his adventures, which we have already
described, much to the astonishment of the Governor and his captain, and
concluded his narration by stating that he wanted to leave the service;
he hoped that Captain Wilson would discharge him and send him home.

"Pooh, nonsense!" said the Governor, "you shan't leave the Mediterranean
while I am here.  No, no; you must have more adventures, and come back
and tell them to me.  And recollect, my lad, that whenever you come to
Malta, there is a bed at the Governor's house, and a seat at his table,
always ready for you."

"You are very kind, Sir Thomas," replied Jack, "but--"

"No buts at all, sir--you shan't leave the service; besides, recollect
that I can ask for leave of absence for you to go and see Donna Agnes--
ay, and send you there too."

Captain Wilson also remonstrated with our hero, and he gave up the
point.  It was harsh treatment which made him form the resolution, it
was kindness which overcame it.

"With your permission, Captain Wilson, Mr Easy shall dine with us
to-day, and bring Gascoigne with him; you shall first scold him, and
I'll console him with a good dinner--and, boy, don't be afraid to tell
your story everywhere: sit down and tell it at Nix Mangare stairs, if
you please--I'm Governor here."

Jack made his obeisance, and departed.

"The lad must be treated kindly, Captain Wilson," said the Governor; "he
would be a loss to the service.  Good heavens, what adventures! and how
honestly he tells everything.  I shall ask him to stay with me for the
time you are here, if you will allow me: I want to make friends with
him; he must not leave the service."

Captain Wilson, who felt that kindness and attention would be more
effectual with our hero than any other measures, gave his consent to the
Governor's proposition.  So Jack ate at the Governor's table, and took
lessons in Spanish and Italian until the _Harpy_ had been refitted,
after heaving down.  Before she was ready a vessel arrived from the
fleet, directing Captain Wilson to repair to Mahon, and send a
transport, lying there, to procure live bullocks for the fleet.  Jack
did not join his ship very willingly, but he had promised the Governor
to remain in the service, and he went on board the evening before she
sailed.  He had been living so well that he had, at first, a horror of
midshipman's fare, but a good appetite seasons everything, and Jack soon
complained that there was not enough.  He was delighted to see Jolliffe
and Mesty after so long an absence; he laughed at the boatswain's
cheeks, inquired after the purser's steward's shot-holes, shook hands
with Gascoigne and his other mess-mates, gave Vigors a thrashing, and
then sat down to supper.

"Ah, Massa Easy, why you take a cruise without me?" said Mesty; "dat
very shabby--by de power, but I wish I was there; you ab too much
danger, Massa Easy, without Mesty, anyhow."

The next day the _Harpy_ sailed, and Jack went to his duty.  Mr Asper
borrowed ten pounds, and our hero kept as much watch as he pleased,
which, as watching did not please him, was very little.  Mr Sawbridge
had long conversations with our hero, pointing out to him the necessity
of discipline and obedience in the service, and that there was no such
thing as equality, and that the rights of man secured to every one the
property which he held in possession.  "According to your ideas, Mr
Easy, a man has no more right to his wife than anything else, and any
other man may claim her."  Jack thought of Agnes, and he made matrimony
an exception, as he continued to argue the point; but although he
argued, still his philosophy was almost upset at the idea of any one
disputing with him the rights of man, with respect to Agnes.

The _Harpy_ made the African coast, the wind continued contrary, and
they were baffled for many days; at last they espied a brig under the
land, about sixteen miles off; her rig and appearance made Captain
Wilson suspect that she was a privateer of some description or another,
but it was calm, and they could not approach her.  Nevertheless, Captain
Wilson thought it his duty to examine her; so at ten o'clock at night
the boats were hoisted out: as this was merely intended for a
reconnoitre, for there was no saying what she might be, Mr Sawbridge
did not go.  Mr Asper was on the sick-list, so Mr Smallsole the master
had the command of the expedition.  Jack asked Mr Sawbridge to let him
have charge of one of the boats.  Mr Jolliffe and Mr Vigors went in
the pinnace with the master.  The gunner had the charge of one cutter,
and our hero had the command of the other.  Jack, although not much more
than seventeen, was very strong and tall for his age; indeed, he was a
man grown, and shaved twice a week.  His only object in going was to
have a yarn for the Governor when he returned to Malta.  Mesty went with
him, and, as the boat shoved off, Gascoigne slipped in, telling Jack
that he was come to take care of him, for which considerate kindness
Jack expressed his warmest thanks.  The orders to the master were very
explicit; he was to reconnoitre the vessel, and if she proved heavily
armed not to attack, for she was embayed, and could not escape the
_Harpy_ as soon as there was wind.  If not armed he was to board her,
but he was to do nothing till the morning: the reason for sending the
boats away so soon was, that the men might not suffer from the heat of
the sun during the day-time, which was excessive, and had already put
many men on the sick-list.  The boats were to pull to the bottom of the
bay, not to go so near as to be discovered, and then drop their grapnels
till daylight.  The orders were given to Mr Smallsole in presence of,
the other officers who were appointed to the boats, that there might be
no mistake, and the boats then shoved off.  After a three hours' pull,
they arrived to where the brig lay becalmed, and as they saw no lights
moving on board, they supposed they were not seen.  They dropped their
grapnels in about seven fathoms water and waited for daylight.  When
Jack heard Captain Wilson's orders that they were to lie at anchor till
daylight he had sent down Mesty for fishing-lines, as fresh fish is
always agreeable in a midshipman's berth: he and Gascoigne amused
themselves this way, and as they pulled up the fish they entered into an
argument, and Mr Smallsole ordered them to be silent.  The point which
they discussed was relative to boat service; Gascoigne insisted that the
boats should all board at once--while our hero took it into his head
that it was better they should come up one after another; a novel idea,
but Jack's ideas on most points were singular.

"If you throw your whole force upon the decks at once, you overpower
them," observed Gascoigne; "if you do not, you are beaten in detail."

"Very true," replied Jack, "supposing that you have an overpowering
force, or they are not prepared; but recollect, that if they are, the
case is altered; for instance, as to fire-arms--they fire theirs at the
first boat, and they have not time to reload, when the second comes up
with its fire reserved; every fresh boat arriving adds to the courage of
those who have boarded, and to the alarm of those who defend; the men
come on fresh and fresh.  Depend upon it, Gascoigne, there is nothing
like a _corps de reserve_."

"Will you keep silence in your boat, Mr Easy, or will you not?" cried
the master; "you're a disgrace to the service, sir."

"Thank ye, sir," replied Jack, in a low tone.  "I've another bite, Ned."

Jack and his comrade continued to fish in silence till the day broke.
The mist rolled off the stagnant water, and discovered the brig, who, as
soon as she perceived the boats, threw out the French tricolour and
fired a gun of defiance.  Mr Smallsole was undecided; the gun fired was
not a heavy one, and so Mr Jolliffe remarked; the men, as usual,
anxious for the attack, asserted the same, and Mr Smallsole, afraid of
retreating from the enemy, and being afterwards despised by the ship's
company, ordered the boats to weigh their grapnels.

"Stop a moment, my lads," said Jack to his men, "I've got a bite."  The
men laughed at Jack's taking it so easy, but he was their pet; and they
did stop for him to pull up his fish, intending to pull up to the other
boats and recover their loss of a few seconds.

"I've hooked him now," said Jack; "you may up with the grapnel while I
up with the fish."  But this delay gave the other boats a start of a
dozen strokes of their oars, which was a distance not easy to be
regained.

"They will be aboard before us, sir," said the coxswain.

"Never mind that," replied Jack; "some one must be last."

"But not the boat I am in," replied Gascoigne; "if I could help it."

"I tell you," replied Jack, "we shall be the _corps de reserve_, and
have the honour of turning the scale in our favour."

"Give way, my lads," cried Gascoigne, perceiving the other boats still
kept their distance ahead of them, which was about a cable's length.

"Gascoigne, I command the boat," said Jack, "and I do not wish my men to
board without any breath in their bodies--that's a very unwise plan.  A
steady pull, my lads, and not too much exertion."

"By heavens, they'll take the vessel before we get alongside."

"Even if they should, I am right, am I not, Mesty?"

"Yes, Massa Easy, you are right--suppose they take vessel without you,
they no want you--suppose they want you, you come."  And the negro, who
had thrown his jacket off, bared his arm, as if he intended mischief.

The first cutter, commanded by the gunner, now gained upon the launch,
and was three boats'-lengths ahead of her when she came alongside.  The
brig poured in her broadside--it was well directed, and down went the
boat.

"Cutter's sunk," exclaimed Gascoigne, "by heavens!  Give way, my men."

"Now, don't you observe, that had we all three been pulling up together,
the broadside would have sunk us all?" said Jack, very composedly.

"There's board in the launch--give way, my men, give way," said
Gascoigne, stamping with impatience.

The reception was evidently warm; by the time that the launch had poured
in her men, the second cutter was close under the brig's quarter--two
more strokes and she was alongside; when of a sudden a tremendous
explosion took place on the deck of the vessel, and bodies and fragments
were hurled up in the air.  So tremendous was the explosion, that the
men of the second cutter, as if transfixed, simultaneously stopped
pulling, their eyes directed to the volumes of smoke which poured
through the ports, and hid the whole of the masts and rigging of the
vessel.

"Now's your time, my lads, give way and alongside," cried our hero.

The men, reminded by his voice, obeyed--but the impetus already given to
the boat was sufficient.  Before they could drop their oars in the water
they grazed against the vessel's sides, and, following Jack, were in a
few seconds on the quarter-deck of the vessel.  A dreadful sight
presented itself--the whole deck was black, and corpses lay strewed;
their clothes on them still burning, and among the bodies lay fragments
of what once were men.

The capstern was unshipped and turned over on its side--the binnacles
were in remnants, and many of the ropes ignited.  There was not one
person left on deck to oppose them.

As they afterwards learned from some of the men who had saved their
lives by remaining below, the French captain had seen the boats before
they anchored, and had made every preparation; he had filled a large
ammunition chest with cartridges for the guns, that they might not have
to hand them up.  The conflict between the men of the pinnace and the
crew of the vessel was carried on near the capstern, and a pistol fired
had accidentally communicated with the powder, which blew up in the very
centre of the dense and desperate struggle.

The first object was to draw water and extinguish the flames, which were
spreading over the vessel; as soon as that was accomplished, our hero
went aft to the taffrail, and looked for the cutter which had been
sunk.--"Gascoigne, jump into the boat with four men--I see the cutter
floats a quarter of a mile astern: there may be some one alive yet.  I
think now I see a head or two."

Gascoigne hastened away, and soon returned with three of the cutter's
men; the rest had sunk, probably killed or wounded by the discharge of
the broadside.

"Thank God, there's three saved!" said Jack, "for we have lost too many.
We must now see if any of these poor fellows are yet alive, and clear
the decks of the remnants of those who have been blown to pieces.  I
say, Ned, where should we have been if we had boarded with the pinnace?"

"You always fall upon your feet, Easy," replied Gascoigne; "but that
does not prove that you are right."

"I see there's no convincing you, Ned, you are so confoundedly fond of
argument.  However, I've no time to argue now--we must look to these
poor fellows; some are still alive."

Body after body was thrown through the ports, the habiliments, in most
cases, enabling them to distinguish whether it was that of a departed
friend or foe.

Jack turned round, and observed Mesty with his foot on a head which had
been blown from the trunk.

"What are you about, Mesty?"

"Massa Easy, I look at dis, and I tink it Massa Vigor's head, and den I
tink dis skull of his enemy nice present make to little Massa Gossett;
and den I tink again, and I say, no, he dead and nebber thrash any
more--so let him go overboard."

Jack turned away, forgiving Vigors in his heart, he thought of the petty
animosities of a midshipman's berth, as he looked at the blackened
portion of a body, half an hour before possessing intellect.

"Massy Easy," said Mesty, "I tink you say right, anyhow, when you say
forgive: den, Massa Vigors," continued Mesty, taking up the head by the
singed hair, and tossing it out of the port, "you really very bad man--
but Ashantee forgive you."

"Here's somebody alive," said Gascoigne to Jack, examining a body, the
face of which was black as a cinder and not to be recognised, "and he is
one of our men too, by his dress."

Our hero went up to examine, and to assist Gascoigne in disengaging the
body from a heap of ropes and half-burned tarpaulings with which it was
entangled.  Mesty followed, and looking at the lower extremities said,
"Massa Easy, dat Massa Jolliffe, I know him trousers; marine tailor say
he patch um for ever, and so old dat de thread no hold; yesterday he had
dis patch put in, and marine tailor say he damn if he patch any more,
please nobody."

Mesty was right; it was poor Jolliffe, whose face was burned as black as
a coal by the explosion.  He had also lost three fingers of the left
hand, but as soon as he was brought out on the deck he appeared to
recover, and pointed to his mouth for water, which was instantly
procured.

"Mesty," said Jack, "I leave you in charge of Mr Jolliffe; take every
care of him till I can come back."

The investigation was then continued, and four English sailors found who
might be expected to recover, as well as about the same number of
Frenchmen; the remainder of the bodies were then thrown overboard.  The
hat only of the master was picked up between the guns, and there were
but eleven Frenchmen found below.

The vessel was the _Franklin_, a French privateer, of ten guns and
sixty-five men, of which eight men were away in prizes.  The loss on the
part of the vessel was forty-six killed and wounded.  On that of the
_Harpy_, it was five drowned in the cutter, and eighteen blown up
belonging to the pinnace, out of which total of twenty-three, they had
only Mr Jolliffe and five seamen alive.

"The _Harpy_ is standing in with a breeze from the offing," said
Gascoigne to Easy.

"So much the better, for I am sick of this, Ned; there is something so
horrible in it, and I wish I was on board again.  I have just been to
Jolliffe; he can speak a little; I think he will recover.  I hope so,
poor fellow; he will then obtain his promotion, for he is the commanding
officer of all us who are left."

"And if he does," replied Gascoigne, "he can swear that it was by having
been blown up which spoiled his beauty--but here comes the _Harpy_.  I
have been looking for an English ensign to hoist over the French, but
cannot find one; so I hoist a wheft over it--that will do."

The _Harpy_ was soon hove-to close to the brig, and Jack went on board
in the cutter to report what had taken place.  Captain Wilson was much
vexed and grieved at the loss of so many men: fresh hands were put in
the cutter to man the pinnace, and he and Sawbridge both went on board
to witness the horrible effects of the explosion as described by our
hero.

Jolliffe and the wounded men were taken on board, and all of them
recovered.  We have before stated how disfigured the countenance of poor
Mr Jolliffe had been by the smallpox--so severely was it burned that
the whole of the countenance came off in three weeks like a mask, and
every one declared that, seamed as it still was, Mr Jolliffe was better
looking than he was before.  It may be as well here to state that Mr
Jolliffe not only obtained his promotion, but a pension for his wounds,
and retired from the service.  He was still very plain, but as it was
known that he had been blown up, the loss of his eye as well as the
scars on his face were all put down to the same accident, and he excited
interest as a gallant and maimed officer.  He married, and lived
contented and happy to a good old age.

The _Harpy_ proceeded with her prize to Mahon.  Jack, as usual, obtained
a great deal of credit; whether he deserved it, or whether, as Gascoigne
observed, he always fell upon his feet, the reader may decide from our
narrative; perhaps there was a little of both.  The seamen of the
_Harpy_, if summoned in a hurry, used very often to reply, "Stop a
minute, I've got a bite"--as for Jack, he often said to himself, "I have
a famous good yarn for the Governor."



CHAPTER TWENTY THREE.

JACK GOES ON ANOTHER CRUISE--LOVE AND DIPLOMACY--JACK PROVES HIMSELF TOO
CLEVER FOR THREE, AND UPSETS ALL THE ARRANGEMENTS OF THE HIGH
CONTRACTING POWERS.

A few days after the arrival of the _Harpy_ at Port Mahon, a Cutter came
in with despatches from the admiral.  Captain Wilson found that he was
posted into the _Aurora_ frigate, in which a vacancy had been made by
the result of our hero's transgressions.

Mr Sawbridge was raised to the rank of commander, and appointed to the
command of the _Harpy_.  The admiral informed Captain Wilson that he
must detain the _Aurora_ until the arrival of another frigate, hourly
expected, and then she would be sent down to Mahon for him to take the
command of her.  Further, he intimated that a supply of live bullocks
would be very agreeable, and begged that he would send to Tetuan
immediately.

Captain Wilson had lost so many officers that he knew not whom to send:
indeed, now he was no longer in command of the _Harpy_, and there was
but one lieutenant, and no master or master's mate.  Gascoigne and Jack
were the only two serviceable midshipmen, and he was afraid to trust
them on any expedition in which expedition was required.

"What shall we do, Sawbridge? shall we send Easy or Gascoigne, or both,
or neither?--for if the bullocks are not forthcoming, the admiral will
not let them off as we do."

"We must send somebody, Wilson," replied Captain Sawbridge, "and it is
the custom to send two officers, as one receives the bullocks on board,
while the other attends to the embarkation."

"Well, then send both, Sawbridge, but lecture them well first."

"I don't think they can get into any mischief there," replied Sawbridge;
"and it's such a hole that they will be glad to get away from it."

Easy and Gascoigne were summoned, listened very respectfully to all
Captain Sawbridge said, promised to conduct themselves with the utmost
propriety, received a letter to the vice-consul, and were sent with
their hammocks and chests in the cabin on board the _Eliza Ann_, brig,
of two hundred and sixteen tons, chartered by government--the master and
crew of which were all busy forward heaving up their anchors.

The master of the transport came aft to receive them: he was a short
red-haired young man, with hands as broad as the flappers of a turtle;
he was broad-faced, broad-shouldered, well-freckled, pug-nosed; but if
not very handsome he was remarkably good-humoured.  As soon as the
chests and hammocks were on the deck, he told them that when he could
get the anchor up and make sail, he would give them some bottled porter.
Jack proposed that he should get the porter up, and they would drink it
while he got the anchor up, as it would save time.

"It may save time mayhap, but it won't save porter," replied the master;
"however, you shall have it."

He called the boy, ordered him to bring up the porter, and then went
forward.  Jack made the boy bring up two chairs, put the porter on the
companion hatch, and he and Gascoigne sat down.  The anchor was weighed,
and the transport ran out under her fore-topsail, as they were
light-handed, and had to secure the anchor.  The transport passed within
ten yards of the _Harpy_, and Captain Sawbridge, when he perceived the
two midshipmen taking it so very easy, sitting in their chairs with
their legs crossed, arms folded, and their porter before them, had a
very great mind to order the transport to heave-to, but he could spare
no other officer, so he walked away, saying to himself, "There'll be
another yarn for the Governor, or I'm mistaken."

As soon as sail was made on the transport, the master, whose name was
Hogg, came up to our hero, and asked him how he found the porter.  Jack
declared that he never could venture an opinion upon the first
bottle--"So, Captain Hogg, we'll trouble you for a second"--after which
they troubled him for a third--begged for a fourth--must drink his
health in a fifth, and finally, pointed out the propriety of making up
the half-dozen.  By this time they found themselves rather light-headed,
so, desiring Captain Hogg to keep a sharp lookout, and not to call them
on any account whatever, they retired to their hammocks.

The next morning they awoke late; the breeze was fresh and fair: they
requested Captain Hogg not to consider the expense, as they would pay
for all they ate and drank, and all he did, into the bargain, and
promised him a fit-out when they got to Tetuan.

What with this promise and calling him captain, our hero and Gascoigne
won the master's heart, and being a very good-tempered fellow, they did
what they pleased.  Jack also tossed a doubloon to the men for them to
drink on their arrival, and all the men of the transport were in a
transport, at Jack's coming to "reign over them."  It must be
acknowledged that Jack's reign was, for the most part of it, "happy and
glorious."  At last they arrived at Tetuan, and our Pylades and Orestes
went on shore to call upon the vice-consul, accompanied by Captain Hogg.
They produced their credentials and demanded bullocks.  The vice-consul
was a very young man, short and thin, and light-haired; his father had
held the situation before him, and he had been appointed his successor
because nobody else had thought the situation worth applying for.
Nevertheless Mr Hicks was impressed with the immense responsibility of
his office.  It was, however, a place of some little emolument at this
moment, and Mr Hicks had plenty on his hands besides his sister, who,
being the only English lady there, set the fashion of the place, and
usurped all the attention of the gentlemen mariners who occasionally
came for bullocks.  But Miss Hicks knew her own importance, and had
successively refused three midshipmen, one master's mate, and an acting
purser.  African bullocks were plentiful at Tetuan, but English ladies
were scarce; moreover, she had a pretty little fortune of her own, to
wit, three hundred dollars in a canvas bag, left her by her father, and
entirely at her own disposal.  Miss Hicks was very like her brother,
except that she was more dumpling in her figure, with flaxen hair; her
features were rather pretty, and her skin very fair.  As soon as the
preliminaries had been entered into, and arrangements made in a small
room with bare walls, which Mr Hicks denominated his office, they were
asked to walk into the parlour to be introduced to the vice-consul's
sister.  Miss Hicks tossed her head at the two midshipmen, but smiled
most graciously at Captain Hogg.  She knew the relative ranks of
midshipman and captain.  After a short time she requested the honour of
Captain Hogg's company to dinner, and begged that he would bring his
midshipmen with him, at which Jack and Gascoigne looked at each other
and burst out in a laugh, and Miss Hicks was very near rescinding the
latter part of her invitation.  As soon as they were out of the house,
they told the captain to go on board and get all ready whilst they
walked round the town.  Having peeped into every part of it, and stared
at Arabs, Moors, and Jews, till they were tired, they proceeded to the
landing-place, where they met the captain, who informed them that he had
done nothing, because the men were all drunk with Jack's doubloon.  Jack
replied that a doubloon would not last for ever, and that the sooner
they drank it out the better.  They then returned to the vice-consul's,
whom they requested to procure for them fifty dozen of fowls, twenty
sheep, and a great many other articles, which might be obtained at the
place; for, as Jack said, they would live well going up to Toulon, and
if there were any of the stock left, they would give them to the
admiral, for Jack had taken the precaution to put his _father's
philosophy_ once more to the proof, before he quitted Mahon.  As Jack
gave such a liberal order, and the vice-consul cheated him out of at
least one-third of what he paid, Mr Hicks thought he could do no less
than offer beds to our midshipmen as well as to Captain Hogg; so, as
soon as dinner was over, they ordered Captain Hogg to go on board and
bring their things on shore, which he did.  As the time usual for
transports remaining at Tetuan before they could be completed with
bullocks was three weeks, our midshipmen decided upon staying at least
so long if they could find anything to do, or if they could not, doing
nothing was infinitely preferable to doing duty.  So they took up their
quarters at the vice-consul's, sending for porter and other things which
were not to be had but from the transport; and Jack, to prove that he
was not a swindler, as Captain Tartar had called him, gave Captain Hogg
a hundred dollars on account, for Captain Hogg had a large stock of
porter and English luxuries, which he had brought out as a venture, and
of which he had still a considerable portion left.  As, therefore, our
midshipmen not only were cheated by the vice-consul, but they also
supplied his table, Mr Hicks was very hospitable, and everything was at
their service except Miss Julia, who turned up her nose at a midshipman,
even upon full pay; but she made great advances to the captain, who, on
his part, was desperately in love: so the mate and the men made all
ready for the bullocks, Jack and Gascoigne made themselves comfortable,
and Captain Hogg made love, and thus passed the first week.

The chamber of Easy and Gascoigne was at the top of the house, and
finding it excessively warm, Gascoigne had forced his way up to the flat
roof above (for the houses are all built in that way in most Mahomedan
countries, to enable the occupants to enjoy the cool of the evening, and
sometimes to sleep there).  Those roofs, where houses are built next to
each other, are divided by a wall of several feet, to insure that
privacy which the Mahomedan customs demand.

Gascoigne had not been long up there before he heard the voice of a
female, singing a plaintive air in a low tone, on the other side of the
wall.  Gascoigne sang well himself, and having a very fine ear, he was
pleased with the correctness of the notes, although he had never heard
the air before.  He leaned against the wall, smoked his cigar, and
listened.  It was repeated again and again at intervals; Gascoigne soon
caught the notes, which sounded so clear and pure in the silence of the
night.

At last they ceased, and having waited another half-hour in vain, our
midshipman returned to his bed, humming the air which had so pleased his
ear.  It haunted him during his sleep, and rang in his ears when he
awoke, as it is well known any new air that pleases us will do.  Before
breakfast was ready, Gascoigne had put English words to it, and sang
them over and over again.  He inquired of the vice-consul who lived in
the next house, and was answered, that it was an old Moor, who was
reported to be wealthy, and to have a daughter, whom many of the people
had asked in marriage, but whether for her wealth or for her beauty he
could not tell; he had, however, heard that she was very handsome.
Gascoigne made no further inquiries, but went out with Jack and Captain
Hogg, and on board to see the water got in for the bullocks.

"Where did you pick up that air, Gascoigne? it is very pretty, but I
never heard you sing it before."

Gascoigne told him, and also what he had heard from Mr Hicks.

"I'm determined, Jack, to see that girl if I can.  Hicks can talk Arabic
fast enough; just ask him the Arabic for these words--`Don't be afraid--
I love you--I cannot speak your tongue,'--and put them down on paper as
they are pronounced."

Jack rallied Gascoigne upon his fancy, which could end in nothing.

"Perhaps not," replied Gascoigne; "and I should have cared nothing about
it, if she had not sung so well.  I really believe the way to my heart
is through my ear;--however, I shall try to-night, and soon find if she
has the feeling which I think she has.  Now let us go back: I'm tired of
looking at women in garments up to their eyes, and men in dirt up to
their foreheads."

As they entered the house they heard an altercation between Mr and Miss
Hicks.

"I shall never give my consent, Julia; one of those midshipmen you turn
your nose up at is worth a dozen Hoggs."

"Now, if we only knew the price of a hog in this country," observed
Easy, "we should be able to calculate our exact value, Ned."

"A hog, being an unclean animal, is not--"

"Hush," said Jack.

"Mr Hicks," replied Miss Julia, "I am mistress of myself and my
fortune, and I shall do as I please."

"Depend upon it, you shall not, Julia.  I consider it my duty to prevent
you from making an improper match; and, as his Majesty's representative
here, I cannot allow you to marry this young man."

"Mercy on us!" said Gascoigne, "his Majesty's representative!"

"I shall not ask your consent," replied the lady.

"Yes, but you shall not marry without my consent.  I have, as you know,
Julia, from my situation here, as one of his Majesty's _corps
diplomatick_, great power, and I shall forbid the banns; in fact, it is
only I who can marry you."

"Then I'll marry elsewhere."

"And what will you do on board of the transport until you are able to be
married?"

"I shall do as I think proper," replied the lady; "and I'll thank you
for none of your indelicate insinuations."  So saying, the lady bounced
out of the room into her own, and our midshipmen then made a noise in
the passage, to intimate that they had come in.  They found Mr Hicks
looking very red and vice-consular indeed, but he recovered himself; and
Captain Hogg making _his_ appearance, they went to dinner; but Miss
Julia would not make _her_ appearance, and Mr Hicks was barely civil to
the captain, but he was soon afterwards called out, and our midshipmen
went into the office to enable the two lovers to meet.  They were heard
then talking together, and after a time they said less, and their
language was more tender.

"Let us see what's going on, Jack," said Gascoigne; and they walked
softly, so as to perceive the two lovers, who were too busy to be on the
lookout.

Captain Hogg was requesting a lock of his mistress's hair.  The plump
Julia could deny him nothing; she let fall her flaxen tresses, and
taking out the scissors cut off a thick bunch from her hair behind,
which she presented to the captain: it was at least a foot and a half
long and an inch in circumference.  The Captain took it in his immense
hand, and thrust it into his coat pocket behind, but one thrust down to
the bottom would not get it in, so he thrust again and again, until it
was all coiled away like a cable in a tier.

"That's a liberal girl," whispered Jack; "she gives by _wholesale_ what
it will take some time to _retail_.  But here comes Mr Hicks, let's
give them warning; I like Hogg and as she fancies pork, she shall have
it, if I can contrive to help them."

That night Gascoigne went again on the roof, and after waiting some
time, heard the same air repeated: he waited until it was concluded, and
then, in a very low tone, sang it himself to the words he had arranged
for it.  For some time all was silent, and then the singing recommenced,
but it was not to the same air.  Gascoigne waited until the new air had
been repeated several times, and then giving full scope to his fine
tenor voice, sang the first air again.  It echoed through the silence of
the night air, and then he waited, but in vain; the soft voice of the
female was heard no more, and Gascoigne retired to rest.

This continued for three or four nights, Gascoigne singing the same airs
the ensuing night that he had heard the preceding, until at last it
appeared that the female had no longer any fear, but changed the airs so
as to be amused with the repetition of them next evening.  On the fifth
night she sang the first air, and our midshipman responding, she then
sang another, until she had sung them all, waiting each time for the
response.  The wall was not more than eight feet high, and Gascoigne now
determined, with the assistance of Jack, to have a sight of his unknown
songstress.  He asked Captain Hogg to bring on shore some inch line, and
he contrived to make a ladder with three or four poles which were
upstairs, used for drying linen.  He fixed them against the wall without
noise, all ready for the evening.  It was a beautiful clear moonlight
night, when he went up, accompanied by Jack.  The air was again sung,
and repeated by.  Gascoigne, who then softly mounted the ladder, held by
Jack, and raised his head above the wall; he perceived a young Moorish
girl, splendidly dressed, half lying on an ottoman, with her eyes fixed
upon the moon, whose rays enabled him to observe that she was indeed
beautiful.  She appeared lost in contemplation; and Gascoigne would have
given the world to have divined her thoughts.  Satisfied with what he
had seen, he descended, and singing one of the airs, he then repeated
the words, "Do not be afraid--I love you--I cannot speak your language."
He then sang another of the airs, and after he had finished he again
repeated the words in Arabic; but there was no reply.  He sang the third
air, and again repeated the words, when, to his delight, he heard an
answer in Lingua Franca.

"Can you speak in this tongue?"

"Yes," replied Gascoigne, "I can, Allah be praised.  Be not afraid--I
love you."

"I know you not; who are you? you are not of my people."

"No, but I will be anything that you wish.  I am a Frank, and an English
officer."

At this reply of Gascoigne there was a pause.

"Am I then despised?" said Gascoigne.

"No, not despised, but you are not of my people or of my land; speak no
more, or you will be heard."

"I obey," replied Gascoigne, "since you wish it, but I shall pine till
to-morrow's moon.  I go to dream of you.  Allah protect you!"

"How amazingly poetical you were in your language, Ned," said Easy, when
they went into their room.

"To be sure, Jack, I've read the _Arabian Nights_.  You never saw such
eyes in your life: what a houri she is!"

"Is she as handsome as Agnes, Ned?"

"Twice as handsome by moonlight."

"That's all moonshine, and so will be your courting, for it will come to
nothing."

"Not if I can help it."

"Why, Gascoigne, what would you do with a wife?"

"Just exactly what you would do, Jack."

"I mean, my dear Ned, can you afford to marry?"

"Not while the old governor lives, but I know he has some money in the
funds.  He told me one day that I could not expect more than three
thousand pounds.  You know I have sisters."

"And before you come into that you'll have three thousand children."

"That's a large family, Jack," replied Gascoigne, bursting out into
laughter, in which our hero joined.

"Well, you know I only wanted to argue the point with you."

"I know that, Jack; but I think we're counting our chickens before they
are hatched, which is foolish."

"In every other case except when we venture upon matrimony."

"Why, Jack, you're becoming quite sensible."

"My wisdom is for my friends, my folly for myself.  Good-night."

But Jack did not go to sleep.  "I must not allow Gascoigne to do such a
foolish thing," thought he--"marry a dark girl on midshipman's pay, if
he succeeds--get his throat cut if he does not."  As Jack said, his
wisdom was for his friends, and he was so generous that he reserved none
for his own occasions.

Miss Julia Hicks, as we before observed, set the fashions at Tetuan, and
her style of dress was not unbecoming.  The Moorish women wore large
veils, or they may be called what you will, for their head-dresses
descend to their heels at times, and cover the whole body, leaving an
eye to peep with, and hiding everything else.  Now Miss Julia found this
much more convenient than the bonnet, as she might walk out in the heat
of the sun without burning her fair skin, and stare at everybody and
everything without being stared at in return.  She therefore never went
out without one of these overalls, composed of several yards of fine
muslin.  Her dress in the house was usually of coloured sarcenet, for a
small vessel came into the port one day during her father's lifetime,
unloaded a great quantity of bales of goods with English marks; and as
the vessel had gone out in ballast, there was a surmise on his part by
what means they came into the captain's possession.  He therefore cited
the captain up to the Governor, but the affair was amicably arranged by
the vice-consul receiving about one quarter of the cargo in bales of
silks and muslins.  Miss Hicks had therefore all her dresses of blue,
green, and yellow sarcenet, which, with the white muslin overall, made
her as conspicuous as the only Frankish lady in the town had a right to
be, and there was not a dog which barked in Tetuan which did not know
the sister of the vice-consul, although few had seen her face.

Now it occurred to Jack, as Gascoigne was determined to carry on his
amour, that in case of surprise it would be as well if he dressed
himself as Miss Hicks.  He proposed it to Gascoigne the next morning,
who approved of the idea, and in the course of the day, when Miss Hicks
was busy with Captain Hogg, he contrived to abstract one of her dresses
and muslin overalls--which he could do in safety, as there were plenty
of them, for Miss Hicks was not troubled with mantua-maker's bills.

When Gascoigne went up on the roof the ensuing night, he put on the
apparel of Miss Hicks, and looked very like her as far as figure went,
although a little taller.  He waited for the Moorish girl to sing, but
she did not--so he crept up the ladder and looked over the wall--when he
observed that she was reclining, as before, in deep thought.  His head
covered with the muslin caught her eye, and she gave a faint scream.

"Fear not, lady," said Gascoigne, "it is not the first time that I have
beheld that sweet face.  I sigh for a companion.  What would I not give
to be sitting by your side?  I am not of your creed, 'tis true--but does
it therefore follow that we should not love each other?"

The Moorish girl was about to reply, when Gascoigne received an answer
from a quarter whence he little expected it.  It was from the Moor
himself, who, hearing his daughter scream, had come swiftly up to the
roof.

"Does the Frankish lily wish to mingle her perfumes with the dark
violet?" said he, for he had often seen the sister of the vice-consul,
and he imagined it was she who had come on the roof and ascended the
wall to speak with his daughter.

Gascoigne had presence of mind to avail himself of this fortunate
mistake.

"I am alone, worthy Moor," replied he, pulling the muslin more over his
face, "and I pine for a companion.  I have been charmed by the
nightingale on the roof of your dwelling; but I thought not to meet the
face of a man, when I took courage to climb this ladder."

"If the Frankish lily will have courage to descend, she can sit by the
side of the dark violet."

Gascoigne thought it advisable to make no reply.

"Fear not," said the old Moor; "what is an old man but a woman?" and the
Moor brought a ladder, which he placed against the wall.

After a pause, Gascoigne said, "It is my fate;" and he then descended,
and was led by the Moor to the mattress upon which his daughter
reclined.  The Moor then took his seat near them, and they entered into
conversation.  Gascoigne knew quite enough of the vice-consul and his
sister to play his part--and he thought proper to tell the Moor that her
brother wished to give her as wife to the captain of the ship, whom she
abhorred, and would take her to a cold and foggy climate; that she had
been born here, and wished to live and die here, and would prefer
passing her life in his women's apartments, to leaving this country.  At
which Abdel Faza, for such was his name, felt very amorous; he put his
hand to his forehead, salaamed, and told Gascoigne that his zenana, and
all that were in it, were hers, as well as his house and himself.  After
an hour's conversation, in which Azar, his daughter, did not join, the
old Moor asked Gascoigne to descend into the women's apartment; and
observing his daughter's silence, said to her:

"Azar, you are angry that this Frankish houri should come to the
apartments of which you have hitherto been sole mistress.  Fear not, you
will soon be another's, for Osman Ali has asked thee for his wife, and I
have listened to his request."

Now Osman Ali was as old as her father, and Azar hated him.  She offered
her hand tremblingly, and led Gascoigne into the zenana.  The Moor
attended them to the threshold, bowed, and left them.

That Gascoigne had time to press his suit, and that he did not lose such
a golden opportunity, may easily be imagined, and her father's
communication relative to Osman Ali very much assisted our midshipman's
cause.

He left the zenana, like most midshipmen, in love, that is, a little
above quicksilver boiling heat.  Jack, who had remained in a state of
some suspense all this time, was not sorry to hear voices in an amicable
tone, and in a few minutes afterwards he perceived that Gascoigne was
ascending the ladder.  It occurred to our hero that it was perhaps
advisable that he should not be seen, as the Moor, in his gallantry,
might come up the ladder with the supposed lady.  He was right, for
Abdel Faza not only followed her up the ladder on his side, but assisted
her to descend on the other, and with great ceremony took his leave.

Gascoigne hastened to Jack, who had been peeping, and gave him a detail
of what had passed, describing Azar as the most beautiful, fascinating,
and fond creature that ever was created.  After half an hour's relation
he stopped short, because he discovered that Jack was fast asleep.

The visits of Gascoigne were repeated every night; old Abdel Faza became
every time more gallant, and our midshipman was under the necessity of
assuming a virtue if he had it not.  He pretended to be very modest.

In the meantime Captain Hogg continued his attentions to the real Miss
Hicks; the mate proceeded to get the bullocks on board, and as more than
three weeks had already passed away, it was time to think of departing
for Toulon; but Captain Hogg was too much in love, and as for Gascoigne,
he intended, like all midshipmen in love, to give up the service.  Jack
reasoned with the Captain, who appeared to listen to reason, because
Miss Hicks had agreed to follow his fortunes, and crown his transports
in the transport _Mary Ann_.  He therefore proposed that they should get
away as fast as they could, and as soon as they had weighed the anchor,
he would come on shore, take off Miss Hicks, and make all sail for
Toulon.

Jack might have suffered this; the difficulty was with Gascoigne, who
would not hear of going away without his lovely Azar.  At last Jack
planned a scheme, which he thought would succeed, and which would be a
good joke to tell the Governor.  He therefore appeared to consent to
Gascoigne's carrying off his little Moor, and they canvassed how it was
to be managed.  Jack then told Gascoigne that he had hit upon a plan
which would succeed.  "I find," said he, "from Captain Hogg, that he has
an intention of carrying off Miss Hicks, and when I sounded him as to
his having a lady with him, he objected to it immediately, saying, that
he must have all the cabin to himself and his intended.  Now, in the
first place, I have no notion of giving up the cabin to Miss Hicks or
Mrs Hogg.  It will be very uncomfortable to be shut out because he
wishes to make love; I therefore am determined that he shall not take
off Miss Hicks.  He has proposed to me that he shall go on board, and
get the brig under way, leaving me with a boat on shore to sign the
vouchers, and that Miss Hicks shall slip into the boat when I go off at
dusk.  Now I will not bring off Miss Hicks; if he wants to marry her,
let him do it when I am not on board.  I have paid for everything, and I
consider the cabin as mine."

"Look you, Ned, if you wish to carry off your little Moor, there is but
one way, and that is a very simple one; leave her a dress of Miss
Hicks's when you go there to-morrow night, and tell her to slip down at
dusk, and come out of the house: all the danger will be in her own
house, for as soon as she is out she will be supposed to be the
vice-consul's sister, and will not be observed or questioned.  I will
look out for and bring her on board instead of Miss Hicks.  Hogg will
have the brig under way, and will be too happy to make all sail, and she
shall lock the cabin inside, so that the mistake shall not be discovered
till the next morning, and we shall have a good laugh at Captain Hogg."

Gascoigne pronounced that Jack's scheme was capital, and agreed to it,
thanking him and declaring that he was the best friend that he ever had.
"So I will be," thought Jack, "but you will not acknowledge it at
first."  Jack then went to Captain Hogg, and appeared to enter warmly
into his views, but told him that Hicks suspected what was going on, and
had told him so, at the same time declaring that he would not lose sight
of his sister until after Hogg was on board.

"Now," says Jack, "you know you cannot do the thing by main force; so
the best plan will be for you to go on board and get under way, leaving
me to bring off Miss Hicks, when her brother will imagine all danger to
be over."

"Many thanks, Mr Easy," replied Captain Hogg; "it will be capital, and
I'll arrange it all with my Julia.  How very kind of you!"

"But, Hogg, will you promise me secrecy?"

"Yes," replied the captain.

"That Gascoigne is a very silly fellow, and wants to run away with a
girl he has made acquaintance with here; and what do you think he has
proposed? that after the ship was under way, I should carry her off in
the boat; and he has borrowed one of the dresses of Miss Hicks, that it
may appear to be her.  I have agreed to it, but as I am determined that
he shall not commit such a folly, I shall bring off Miss Hicks instead;
and observe, Hogg, he is that sort of wild fellow, that if he was to
find that I had cheated him, he would immediately go on shore and be
left behind; therefore we must hand Miss Hicks down in the cabin, and
she will lock the door all night, so that he may not observe the trick
till the next morning, and then we shall have a fine laugh at him."

Captain Hogg replied it would be an excellent joke, as Gascoigne did
before him.

Now it must be observed, that the water and the bullocks, and the sheep
and fowls, were all on board; and Mr Hicks, having received his money
from Jack, had very much altered his manner; he was barely civil, for as
he had got all he could out of our hero, he was anxious to get rid of
him as well as of Captain Hogg.  Our hero was very indignant at this,
but as it would not suit his present views, pretended not to notice it--
on the contrary, he professed the warmest friendship for the
vice-consul, and took an opportunity of saying that he could not return
his kindness in a better way than by informing him of the plot which had
been arranged.  He then told him of the intended escape of his sister,
and that he was the person intended to bring her off.

"Infamous, by heavens!" cried the vice-consul; "I shall write to the
Foreign Office on the subject."

"I think," said Jack, "it will be much better to do what I shall
propose, which will end in a hearty laugh, and to the confusion of
Captain Hogg.  Do you dress yourself in your sister's clothes, and I
will bring you off instead of her.  Let him imagine that he has your
sister secure; I will hand you down to the cabin, and do you lock
yourself in.  He cannot sail without my orders, and I will not sign the
vouchers.  The next morning we will open the cabin door and have a good
laugh at him.  Desire your boat to be off at daylight to take you on
shore, and I will then make him proceed to Toulon forthwith.  It will be
a capital joke."

So thought the vice-consul, as well as Gascoigne and Captain Hogg.  He
shook hands with Jack, and was as civil to him as before.

That night Gascoigne left one of Miss Hicks's many dresses with Azar,
who agreed to follow his fortunes, and who packed up all the jewels and
money she could lay her hands upon.  Poor little Child, she trembled
with fear and delight.  Miss Hicks smuggled, as she thought, a box of
clothes on board, and in the box was her fortune of three hundred
dollars.  Mr Hicks laughed in his sleeve, so did Jack; and every one
went to bed, with expectations that their wishes would be realised.
After an early dinner, Captain Hogg and Gascoigne went on board, both
squeezing Jack's hand as if they were never to see him again, and looks
of intelligence passed between all the parties.

As soon as they were out of the door the vice-consul chuckled, and Miss
Hicks, who thought he chuckled at the idea of having rid himself of
Captain Hogg, chuckled still more as she looked at our hero, who was her
confidant, and our hero, for reasons known to the reader, chuckled more
than either of them.

A little before dark, the boat was sent on shore from the brig, which
was now under way, and Mr Hicks, as had been agreed, said that he
should go into the office and prepare the vouchers--that is, put on his
sister's clothes.  Miss Hicks immediately rose, and wishing our hero a
pleasant voyage, as had been agreed, said that she should retire for the
night, as she had a bad headache--she wished her brother good-night, and
went into her room to wait another hour, when our hero, having shoved
off the boat to deceive the vice-consul, was to return, meet her in the
garden, and take her off to the brig.  Our hero then went into the
office and assisted the vice-consul, who took off all his own clothes
and tied them up in a handkerchief, intending to resume them after he
had gone into the cabin.

As soon as he was ready, Jack carried his bundle and led the supposed
Miss Hicks down to the boat.  They shoved off in a great hurry, and Jack
took an opportunity of dropping Mr Hicks's bundle overboard.  As soon
as they arrived alongside, Mr Hicks ascended, and was handed by Jack
down into the Cabin: he squeezed Jack's hand as he entered, saying in a
whisper, "To-morrow morning what a laugh we shall have!" and then he
locked the door.  In the meantime the boat was hooked on and hoisted up,
and Jack took the precaution to have the dead-lights lowered that Mr
Hicks might not be able to ascertain what was going on.  Gascoigne came
up to our hero and squeezed his hand.

"I'm so much obliged to you, Jack.  I say, tomorrow morning what a laugh
we shall have!"

As soon as the boat was up, and the mainyard filled, Captain Hogg also
came up to our hero, shaking him by the hand and thanking him; and he,
too, concluded by saying, "I say, Mr Easy, to-morrow morning what a
laugh we shall have!"

"Let those laugh who win," thought Jack.

The wind was fair, the watch was set, the course was steered, and all
went down to their hammocks, and went to sleep, waiting for to-morrow
morning.  Mr Hicks, also, having nothing better to do, went to sleep,
and by the morning dawn, the transport _Mary Ann_ was more than a
hundred miles from the African shore.



CHAPTER TWENTY FOUR.

OUR HERO PLAYS THE VERY DEVIL.

We must leave the reader to imagine the effect of the next morning's
_denouement_.  Every one was in a fury except Jack, who did nothing but
laugh.  The captain wanted to return to obtain Miss Hicks, Gascoigne to
obtain Azar, and the vice-consul to obtain his liberty--but the wind was
foul for their return, and Jack soon gained the captain on his side.  He
pointed out to him that, in the first place, if he presumed to return,
he would forfeit his charter bond; in the second, he would have to pay
for all the bullocks which died; in the third, that if he wished to take
Miss Hicks as his wife, he must not first injure her character by having
her on board before the solemnity; and lastly, that he could always go
and marry her whenever he pleased; the brother could not prevent him.
All this was very good advice, and the captain became quite calm and
rational, and set his studding-sails below and aloft.

As for Gascoigne, it was no use reasoning with him, so it was agreed
that he should have satisfaction as soon as they could get on shore
again.  Mr Hicks was the most violent; he insisted that the vessel
should return, while both Jack and the captain refused, although he
threatened them with the whole Foreign Office.  He insisted upon having
his clothes, but Jack replied that they had tumbled overboard as they
pulled from the shore.  He then commanded the mate and men to take the
vessel back, but they laughed at him and his woman's clothes.  "At all
events, I'll have you turned out of the service," said he to our hero,
in his fury.  "I shall be extremely obliged to you," said Jack--and
Captain Hogg was so much amused with the vice-consul's appearance in his
sister's clothes, that he quite forgot his own disappointment in
laughing at his intended brother-in-law.  He made friends again with
Jack, who regained his ascendancy, and ordered out the porter on the
capstern-head.  They had an excellent dinner, but Mr Hicks refused to
join them; which, however, did not spoil the appetite of Jack or the
captain: as for Gascoigne, he could not eat a mouthful, but he drank to
excess, looking over the rim of his tumbler as if he could devour our
hero, who only laughed the more.  Mr Hicks had applied to the men to
lend him some clothes, but Jack had foreseen that, and he was
omnipotent.  There was not a jacket or a pair of trousers to be had for
love or money.  Mr Hicks then considered it advisable to lower his
tone, and he applied to Captain Hogg, who begged to be excused without
he consented to his marriage with his sister, to which Mr Hicks gave an
indignant negative.  He then applied to Gascoigne, who told him in a
very surly tone to go to hell.  At last he applied to our hero, who
laughed, and said that he would see him damned first.  So Mr Hicks sat
down in his petticoats, and vowed revenge.  Gascoigne, who had drunk
much and eaten nothing, turned in and went to sleep--while Captain Hogg
and our hero drank porter on the capstern.  Thus passed the first day,
and the wind was famously fair--the bullocks lowed, the cocks crew, the
sheep baa'd, and the _Mary Ann_ made upwards of two hundred miles.  Jack
took possession of the other berth in the cabin, and his Majesty's
representative was obliged to lie down in his petticoats upon a topsail
which lay between decks, with a bullock on each side of him, who every
now and then made a dart at him with their horns, as if they knew that
it was to him that they were indebted for their embarkation and being
destined to drive the scurvy out of the Toulon fleet.

We cannot enter into the details of the passage, which, as the wind was
fair, was accomplished in ten days without the loss of a bullock.
During this time Mr Hicks condescended to eat without speaking,
imagining that the hour of retribution would come when they joined the
admiral.  Gascoigne gradually recovered himself, but did not speak to
our hero, who continued to laugh and drink porter.  On the eleventh
morning they were in the midst of the Toulon fleet, and Mr Hicks smiled
exultingly as he passed our hero in his petticoats, and wondered that
Jack showed no signs of trepidation.

The fleet hove-to, Jack ran under the admiral's stern, lowered down his
boat, and went on board, showed his credentials, and reported his
bullocks.  The general signal was made, there was a fair division of the
spoil, and then the admiral asked our hero whether the master of the
transport had any other stock on board.  Jack replied that he had not;
but that having been told by the Governor of Malta that they might be
acceptable, he had bought a few sheep and some dozen of fowls, which
were much at his service, if he would accept of them.  The admiral was
much obliged to the Governor, and also to Jack, for thinking of him, but
would not, of course, accept of the stock without paying for them.  He
requested him to send all of them on board that he could spare, and then
asked Jack to dine with him, for Jack had put on his best attire, and
looked very much of a gentleman.

"Mr Easy," said the flag-captain, who had been looking at the transport
with his glass, "is that the master's wife on board?"

"No, sir," replied Jack; "it's the vice-consul."

"What, in petticoats! the vice-consul?"

"Yes, the vice-consul of Tetuan.  He came on board in that dress when
the brig was under way, and I considered it my duty not to delay, being
aware how very important it was that the fleet should be provided with
fresh beef."

"What is all this, Mr Easy?" said the admiral; "there has been some
trick here.  You will oblige me by coming into the cabin."

Easy followed the admiral and flag-captain into the cabin, and then
boldly told the whole story how he tricked them all.  It was impossible
for either of them to help laughing, and when they began to laugh it was
almost as impossible to stop.

"Mr Easy," said the admiral at last, "I do not altogether blame you; it
appears that the captain of the transport would have delayed sailing
because he was in love--and that Mr Gascoigne would have stayed behind
because he was infatuated; independent of the ill-will against the
English which would have been excited by the abduction of the girl.  But
I think you might have contrived to manage all that without putting the
vice-consul in petticoats."

"I acted to the best of my judgment, sir," replied Jack, very humbly.

"And altogether you have done well.  Captain Malcolm, send a boat for
the vice-consul."

Mr Hicks was too impatient to tell his wrongs to care for his being in
his sister's clothes: he came on board, and although the tittering was
great, he imagined that it would soon be all in his favour, when it was
known that he was a diplomatic.  He told his story, and waited for the
decision of the admiral, which was to crush our hero, who stood with the
midshipmen on the lee-side of the deck; but the admiral replied, "Mr
Hicks, in the first place, this appears to me to be a family affair
concerning the marriage of your sister, with which I have nothing to do.
You went on board of your own free will in woman's clothes.  Mr Easy's
orders were positive, and he obeyed them.  It was his duty to sail as
soon as the transport was ready.  You may forward your complaint if you
please, but, as a friend, I tell you that it will probably occasion your
dismissal, for these kind of pranks are not understood at the Foreign
Office.  You may return to the transport, which, after she has touched
at Mahon, will proceed again to Tetuan.  The boat is alongside, sir."

Mr Hicks, astonished at the want of respect, paid to a vice-consul,
shoved his petticoats between his legs and went down the side amidst the
laughter of the whole of the ship's company.  Our hero dined with the
admiral, and was well received.  He got his orders to sail that night
for Minorca, and as soon as dinner was over he returned on board, where
he found Captain Hogg very busy selling his porter--Gascoigne walking
the deck in a brown study--and Mr Hicks _solus_ abaft, sulking in his
petticoats.

As soon as they were clear of the boats, the _Mary Ann_ hoisted her
ensign and made sail, and as all the porter was not yet sold, Jack
ordered up a bottle.

Jack was much pleased with the result of his explanation with the
admiral, and he felt that, for once, he had not only got into no scrape
himself, but that he had prevented others.  Gascoigne walked the deck
gloomily; the fact was that he was very unhappy; he had had time to
reflect, and now that the first violence had subsided, he felt that our
hero had done him a real service, and had prevented him from committing
an act of egregious folly; and yet he had summoned this friend to meet
him in the field--and such had been his gratitude.  He would have given
the world to recall what had passed and to make friends, but he felt
ashamed, as most people do, to acknowledge his error; he had, however,
almost made up his mind to it, and was walking up and down thinking in
what manner he might contrive it, when Jack, who was sitting, as usual,
in a chair by the capstern, with his porter by him, said to himself,
"Now I'll lay my life that Ned wants to make friends, and is ashamed to
speak first; I may be mistaken, and he may fly off at a tangent, but
even if I am, at all events it will not be I who am wrong--I'll try
him."  Jack waited till Gascoigne passed him again, and then said,
looking kindly and knowingly in his face:

"I say, Ned, will you have a glass of porter?"

Gascoigne smiled, and Jack held out his hand; the reconciliation was
effected in a moment, and the subject of quarrel was not canvassed by
either party.

"We shall be at Minorca in a day or two," observed Jack, after a while;
"now I shall be glad to get there.  Do you know, Ned, that I feel very
much satisfied with myself; I have got into no scrape this time, and I
shall, notwithstanding, have a good story to tell the Governor when I go
to Malta."

"Partly at my expense," replied Gascoigne.

"Why, you will figure a little in it, but others will figure much more."

"I wonder what has become of that poor girl," observed Gascoigne, who
could not refrain from mentioning her; "what hurts me most is, that she
must think me such a brute."

"No doubt of that, Ned--take another glass of porter."

"Her father gave me this large diamond."

"The old goat--sell it, and drink his health with it."

"No, I'll keep it in memory of his daughter."

Here Gascoigne fell into a melancholy reverie, and Jack thought of
Agnes.

In two days they arrived at Mahon, and found the _Aurora_ already there,
in the command of Captain Wilson.  Mr Hicks had persuaded Captain Hogg
to furnish him with clothes, Jack having taken off the injunction as
soon as he had quitted the admiral.  Mr Hicks was aware that if the
admiral would not listen to his complaint, it was no use speaking to a
captain: so he remained on board a pensioner upon Captain Hogg, and
after our midshipmen quitted the transport they became very good
friends.  Mr Hicks consented to the match, and Captain Hogg was made
happy.  As for poor Azar, she had wandered about until she was tired in
Miss Hicks's dress, and at last returned broken-hearted to her father's,
and was admitted by Abdel Faza himself; he imagined it was Miss Hicks,
and was in transports--he discovered it was his daughter, and he was in
a fury.  The next day she went to the zenana of Osman Ali.

When Jack reported himself he did not tell the history of the
elopements, that he might not hurt the feelings of Gascoigne.  Captain
Wilson was satisfied with the manner in which he had executed his
orders, and asked him, "whether he preferred staying in the _Harpy_ or
following him into the _Aurora_."

Jack hesitated.

"Speak frankly, Mr Easy; if you prefer Captain Sawbridge to me I shall
not be affronted."

"No, sir," replied Easy, "I do not prefer Captain Sawbridge to you; you
have both been equally kind to me, but I prefer you.  But the fact is,
sir, that I do not much like to part with Gascoigne, or--"

"Or who?" said the captain, smiling.

"With Mesty, sir; you may think me very foolish--but I should not be
alive at this moment, if it had not been for him."

"I do not consider gratitude to be foolish, Mr Easy," replied Captain
Wilson.  "Mr Gascoigne I intend to take with me, if he chooses to come,
as I have a great respect for his father, and no fault to find with him,
that is, generally speaking--but as for Mesty--why, he is a good man,
and as you have behaved yourself very well, perhaps I may think of it."

The next day Mesty was included among the boat's crew taken with him by
Captain Wilson, according to the regulations of the service, and
appointed to the same situation under the master-at-arms of the
_Aurora_.  Gascoigne and our hero were also discharged into the frigate.

As our hero never has shown any remarkable predilection for duty, the
reader will not be surprised at his requesting from Captain Wilson a few
days on shore, previous to his going on board of the _Aurora_.  Captain
Wilson allowed the same licence to Gascoigne, as they had both been
cooped up for some time on board of a transport.  Our hero took up his
quarters at the only respectable hotel in the town, and whenever he
could meet an officer of the _Aurora_, he very politely begged the
pleasure of his company to dinner.  Jack's reputation had gone before
him, and the midshipmen drank his wine and swore he was a trump.  Not
that Jack was to be deceived, but upon the principles of equality he
argued that it was the duty of those who could afford dinners to give
them to those who could not.  This was a sad error on Jack's part; but
he had not yet learned the value of money; he was such a fool as to
think that the only real use of it was to make other people happy.  It
must, however, be offered in his extenuation that he was a midshipman
and a philosopher, and not yet eighteen.

At last Jack had remained so long on shore, keeping open house, and the
first lieutenant of the _Aurora_ found the officers so much more anxious
for leave, now that they were at little or no expense, that he sent him
a very polite message, requesting the pleasure of his company on board
that evening.  Jack returned an equally polite answer, informing the
first lieutenant that not being aware that he wished to see him, he had
promised to accompany some friends to a masquerade that night, but that
he would not fail to pay his respects to him the next day.  The first
lieutenant admitted the excuse, and our hero, after having entertained
half a dozen of the _Auroras_, for the _Harpy_ had sailed two days
before, dressed himself for the masquerade, which was held in a church
about two miles and a half from Mahon.

Jack had selected the costume of the _devil_, as being the most
appropriate, and mounting a jackass, he rode down in his dress to the
masquerade.  But, as Jack was just going in, he perceived a yellow
carriage, with two footmen in gaudy liveries, draw up, and, with his
usual politeness, when the footmen opened the door, offered his arm to
hand out a fat old dowager covered with diamonds; the lady looked up,
and perceiving Jack covered with hair, with his trident and his horns
and long tail, gave a loud scream, and would have fallen had it not been
for Captain Wilson, who, in his full uniform, was coming in, and caught
her in his arms: while the old lady thanked him, and Captain Wilson
bowed, Jack hastily retreated.  "I shall make no conquests to-night,"
thought he, so he entered the church, and joined the crowd; but it was
so dense that it was hardly possible to move, and our hero soon got
tired of flourishing his trident, and sticking it into people, who
wondered what the devil he meant.

"This is stupid work," thought Jack, "I may have more fun outside:" so
Jack put on his cloak, left the masquerade, and went out in search of
adventures.  He walked into the open country about half a mile, until he
came to a splendid house, standing in a garden of orange-trees, which he
determined to reconnoitre.  He observed that a window was open and
lights were in the room; and he climbed up to the window, and just
opened the white curtain and looked in.  On a bed lay an elderly person,
evidently dying, and by the side of the bed were three priests, one of
whom held the crucifix in his hand, another the censer, and a third was
sitting at a table with a paper, pen, and ink.  As Jack understood
Spanish, he listened, and heard one of the priests say:

"Your sins have been enormous, my son, and I cannot give you extreme
unction or absolution unless you make some amends."

"I have," answered the moribund, "left money for ten thousand masses to
be said for my soul."

"Five hundred thousand masses are not sufficient: how have you gained
your enormous wealth? by usury and robbing the poor."

"I have left a thousand dollars to be distributed among the poor on the
day of my funeral."

"One thousand dollars is nothing--you must leave all your property to
holy church."

"And my children!" replied the dying man faintly.

"What are your children compared to your salvation?--reply not: either
consent, or not only do I refuse you the consolation of the dying, but I
excommunicate--"

"Mercy, holy father--mercy!" said the old man, in a dying voice.

"There is no mercy, you are damned for ever and ever.  Amen.  Now hear:
_excommunicabo te_--"

"Stop--stop--have you the paper ready?"

"'Tis here, all ready, by which you revoke all former wills, and endow
the holy church with your property.  We will read it, for God forbid
that it should be said that the holy church received an involuntary
gift."

"I will sign it," replied the dying man; "but my sight fails me; be
quick, absolve me."  And the paper was signed, with difficulty, as the
priests supported the dying man.  "And now--absolve me."

"I do absolve thee," replied the priest, who then went through the
ceremony.

"Now this is a confounded rascally business," said Jack to himself; who
then dropped his cloak, jumped upon the window-sill, opened wide the
window-curtains with both hands, and uttered a yelling kind of "ha! ha!
ha! ha!"

The priests turned round, saw the demon, as they imagined--dropped the
paper on the table, and threw themselves with their faces on the floor.

"_Exorciso te_," stammered one.

"Ha! ha! ha! ha!" repeated Jack, entering the room, and taking up the
paper, which he burned by the flame of the candle.  Our hero looked at
the old man on the bed; his jaw had fallen, his eyes were turned.  He
was dead.  Jack then gave one more "ha! ha! ha! ha!" to keep the priests
in their places, blew out the candles, made a spring out of the window,
caught up his cloak, and disappeared as fast as his legs could carry
him.

Jack ran until he was out of breath, and then he stopped, and sat down
by the side of the road.  It was broad moonlight, and Jack knew not
where he was; "but Minorca has not many high-roads," thought Jack, "and
I shall find my way home.  Now let me see--I have done some good this
evening.  I have prevented those rogues from disinheriting a family.  I
wonder who they are; they ought to be infinitely obliged to me.  But if
the priests find me out, what shall I do?  I never dare come on shore
again--they'd have me in the inquisition.  I wonder where I am," said
Jack; "I will get on that hill, and see if I can take a departure."

The hill was formed by the road being cut perpendicularly almost through
it, and was perhaps some twelve or fourteen feet high.  Jack ascended
it, and looked about him.  "There is the sea, at all events, with the
full moon silvering the waves," said Jack, turning from the road, "and
here is the road; then that must be the way to Port Mahon.  But what
comes here?--it's a carriage.  Why, it's the yellow carriage of that old
lady with her diamonds, and her two splashy footmen!"  Jack was watching
it as it passed the road under him, when, of a sudden, he perceived
about a dozen men rush out, and seize the horses' heads--a discharge of
fire-arms, the coachman dropped off the box, and the two footmen dropped
from behind.  The robbers then opened the door, and were hauling out the
fat old lady covered with diamonds.  Jack thought a second--it occurred
to him, that, although he could not cope with so many, he might frighten
them, as he had frightened one set of robbers already that night.  The
old lady had just been tumbled out of the carriage door, like a large
bundle of clothes tied up for the wash, when Jack, throwing off his
cloak, and advancing to the edge of the precipice, with the full moon
behind him throwing out his figure in strong relief, raised his trident,
and just as they were raising their knives, yelled a most unearthly "ha!
ha! ha! ha!"  The robbers looked up, and forgetting the masquerade, for
there is a double tremor in guilt, screamed with fear; most of them ran
away, and dropped after a hundred yards; others remained paralysed and
insensible.  Jack descended the hill, went to the assistance of the old
lady, who had swooned, and had to put her into the carriage; but
although our hero was very strong, this was a work of no small
difficulty.  After one or two attempts, he lowered down the steps, and
contrived to bump her on the first, from the first he purchased her on
the second, and from the second he at last seated her at the door of the
carriage.  Jack had no time to be over-polite.  He then threw her back
into the bottom of the carriage, her heels went up to the top, Jack
shoved in her petticoats as fast as he could, for decency, and then
shutting the door seized the reins, and jumped upon the box.  "I don't
know the way," thought Jack, "but we must needs go when the _devil
drives_;" so sticking his trident into the horses, they set off at a
rattling pace, passing over the bodies of the two robbers, who had held
the reins, and who both lay before him in a swoon.  As soon as he had
brought the horses into a trot, he slackened the reins, for, as Jack
wisely argued, they will be certain to go home if I let them have their
own way.  The horses, before they arrived at the town, turned off, and
stopped at a large country house.  That he might not frighten the
people, Jack had put on his cloak, and taken off his mask and
head-piece, which he had laid beside him on the box.  At the sound of
the carriage wheels the servants came out, when Jack, in a few words,
told them what had happened.  Some of the servants ran in, and a young
lady made her appearance, while the others were helping the old lady out
of the carriage, who had recovered her senses, but had been so much
frightened that she had remained in the posture in which Jack had put
her.

As soon as she was out, Jack descended from the coach-box and entered
the house.  He stated to the young lady what had taken place, and how
opportunely he had frightened away the robbers, just as they were about
to murder her relation; and also suggested the propriety of sending
after the servants who had fallen in the attack, which was immediately
done by a strong and well-armed party collected for the occasion.  Jack,
having made his speech, made a very polite bow and took his leave,
stating that he was an English officer belonging to a frigate in the
harbour.  He knew his way back, and in half an hour was again at the
inn, and found his comrades.  Jack thought it advisable to keep his own
secret, and therefore merely said that he had taken a long walk in the
country; and soon afterwards went to bed.

The next morning our hero, who was always a man of his word, packed up
his portmanteau, and paid his bill.  He had just completed this heavy
operation, when somebody wanted to speak to him, and a sort of
half-clerical, half-legal sort of looking gentleman was introduced, who,
with a starched face and prim air, said that he came to request in
writing the name of the officer who was dressed as a devil in the
masquerade of the night before.

Jack looked at his interrogator, and thought of the priests and the
inquisition.  "No, no," thought he, "that won't do; a name I must give,
but it shall be one that you dare not meddle with.  A midshipman you
might get hold of, but it's more than the whole island dare to touch a
post-captain of one of his Majesty's frigates."  So Jack took the paper
and wrote Captain Henry Wilson, of his Majesty's ship _Aurora_.

The prim man made a prim bow, folded up the paper, and left the room.

Jack threw the waiter half a doubloon, lighted his cigar, and went on
board.



CHAPTER TWENTY FIVE.

IN WHICH THE OLD PROVERB IS ILLUSTRATED, "THAT YOU MUST NOT COUNT YOUR
CHICKENS BEFORE THEY ARE HATCHED."

The first lieutenant of the _Aurora_ was a very good officer in many
respects, but, as a midshipman, he had contracted the habit of putting
his hands in his pockets, and could never keep them out, even when the
ship was in a gale of wind; and hands are of some use in a heavy lurch.
He had more than once received serious injury from falling on these
occasions, but habit was too powerful; and, although he had once broken
his leg by falling down the hatchway, and had moreover a large scar on
his forehead, received from being thrown to leeward against one of the
guns, he still continued the practice; indeed, it was said that once,
when it was necessary for him to go aloft, he had actually taken the two
first rounds of the Jacob's ladder without withdrawing them, until,
losing his balance, he discovered that it was not quite so easy to go
aloft with his hands in his pockets.  In fact, there was no getting up
his hands, even when all hands were turned up.  He had another
peculiarity, which was, that he had taken a peculiar fancy to a quack
medicine, called Enouy's Universal Medicine for all Mankind; and Mr
Pottyfar was convinced in his own mind that the label was no libel,
except from the greatness of its truth.  In his opinion, it cured
everything, and he spent one of his quarterly bills every year in
bottles of this stuff; which he not only took himself every time he was
unwell, but occasionally when quite well, to prevent his falling sick.
He recommended it to everybody in the ship, and nothing pleased him so
much as to give a dose of it to every one who could be persuaded to take
it.

The officers laughed at him, but it was generally behind his back, for
he became very angry if contradicted upon this one point, upon which he
certainly might be considered to be a little cracked.  He was
indefatigable in making proselytes to his creed, and expatiated upon the
virtues of the medicine for an hour running, proving the truth of his
assertion by a pamphlet, which, with his hands, he always carried in his
trousers pocket.

Jack reported himself when he came on board, and Mr Pottyfar, who was
on the quarter-deck at the time, expressed a hope that Mr Easy would
take his share of the duty, now that he had had such a spell on shore;
to which Jack very graciously acceded, and then went down below, where
he found Gascoigne and his new messmates, with most of whom he was
already acquainted.

"Well, Easy," said Gascoigne, "have you had enough of the shore?"

"Quite," replied Jack, recollecting that after the events of the night
before he was just as well on board; "I don't intend to ask for any more
leave."

"Perhaps it's quite as well, for Mr Pottyfar is not very liberal on
that score, I can tell you; there is but one way of getting leave from
him."

"Indeed," replied Jack; "and what is that?"

"You must pretend that you are not well, take some of his quack
medicine, and then he will allow you a run on shore to work it off."

"Oh! that's it, is it? well then, as soon as we anchor in Valette, I'll
go through a regular course, but not till then."

"It ought to suit you, Jack; it's an equality medicine; cures one
disorder just as well as the other."

"Or kills--which levels all the patients.  You're right, Gascoigne, I
must patronise that stuff--for more reasons than one.  Who was that
person on deck in mufti?"

"The mufti, Jack? in other words, the chaplain of the ship; but he's a
prime sailor, nevertheless."

"How's that?"

"Why, he was brought up on the quarter-deck, served his time, was acting
lieutenant for two years, and then, somehow or other, he bore up for the
church."

"Indeed--what were his reasons?"

"No one knows--but they say he has been unhappy ever since."

"Why so?"

"Because he did a very foolish thing, which cannot now be remedied.  He
supposed at the time that he would make a good parson, and now that he
has long got over his fit, he finds himself wholly unfit for it--he is
still the officer in heart, and is always struggling with his natural
bent, which is very contrary to what a parson should feel."

"Why don't they allow parsons to be broke by a court-martial, and turned
out of the service, or to resign their commissions, like other people?"

"It won't do, Jack--they serve Heaven--there's a difference between that
and serving his Majesty."

"Well, I don't understand these things.  When do we sail?"

"The day after to-morrow."

"To join the fleet off Toulon?"

"Yes; but I suppose we shall be driven on the Spanish coast going there.
I never knew a man-of-war that was not."

"No; wind always blows from the South going up the Mediterranean."

"Perhaps you'll take another prize, Jack--mind you don't go away without
the articles of war."

"I won't go away without Mesty, if I can help it.  Oh, dear, how
abominable a midshipman's berth is after a long run on shore!  I
positively must go on deck and look at the shore, if I can do nothing
else."

"Why, ten minutes ago you had had enough of it."

"Yes, but ten minutes here has made me feel quite sick.  I shall go to
the first lieutenant for a dose."

"I say, Easy, we must both be physicked on the same day."

"To be sure; but stop till we get to Malta."

Jack went on deck, made acquaintance with the chaplain and some of the
officers whom he had not known, then climbed up into the maintop, where
he took a seat on the armolest, and, as he looked at the shore, thought
over the events that had passed, until Agnes came to his memory, and he
thought only of her.  When a mid is in love, he always goes aloft to
think of the object of his affection; why, I don't know, except that his
reverie is not so likely to be disturbed by an order from a superior
officer.

The _Aurora_ sailed on the second day, and with a fine breeze, stood
across, making as much northing as easting; the consequence was, that
one fine morning they saw the Spanish coast before they saw the Toulon
fleet.  Mr Pottyfar took his hands out of his pockets, because he could
not examine the coast through a telescope without so doing; but this, it
is said, was the first time that he had done so on the quarter-deck from
the day that the ship had sailed from Port Mahon.  Captain Wilson was
also occupied with his telescope, so were many of the officers and
midshipmen, and the men at the mast-heads used their eyes, but there was
nothing but a few small fishing-boats to be seen.  So they all went down
to breakfast, as the ship was hove-to close in with the land.

"What will Easy bet," said one of the midshipmen, "that we don't see a
prize to-day?"

"I will not bet that we do not see a vessel--but I'll bet you what you
please, that we do not take one before twelve o'clock at night."

"No, no, that won't do--just let the teapot travel over this way, for
it's my forenoon watch."

"It's a fine morning," observed one of the mates, of the name of Martin;
"but I've a notion it won't be a fine evening."

"Why not?" inquired another.

"I've now been eight years in the Mediterranean, and know something
about the weather.  There's a watery sky, and the wind is very steady.
If we are not under double-reefed topsails to-night, say I'm no
conjuror."

"That you will be, all the same, if we are under bare poles," said
another.

"You're devilish free with your tongue, my youngster.  Easy, pull his
ears for me."

"Pull them easy, Jack, then," said the boy, laughing.

"All hands make sail!" now resounded at the hatchways.

"There they are, depend upon it," cried Gascoigne, catching up his hat
and bolting out of the berth, followed by all the others except Martin,
who had just been relieved, and thought that his presence in the waist
might be dispensed with for the short time, at least, which it took him
to swallow a cup of tea.

It was very true; a galliot and four lateen vessels had just made their
appearance round the easternmost point, and, as soon as they observed
the frigate, had hauled their wind.  In a minute the _Aurora_ was under
a press of canvas, and the telescopes were all directed to the vessels.

"All deeply laden, sir," observed Mr Hawkins, the chaplain; "how the
topsail of the galliot is scored!"

"They have a fresh breeze just now," observed Captain Wilson to the
first lieutenant.

"Yes, sir, and it's coming down fast."

"Hands by the royal halyards, there."

The _Aurora_ careened with the canvas to the rapidly increasing breeze.

"Top-gallant sheet and halyards."

"Luff you may, quarter-master; luff, I tell you.  A small pull of that
weather maintop-gallant brace--that will do," said the master.

"Top-men aloft there;--stand by to clew up the royals--and, Captain
Wilson, shall we take them in?--I'm afraid of that pole--it bends now
like a coach-whip," said Mr Pottyfar, looking up aloft, with his hands
in both pockets.

"In royals--lower away."

"They are going about, sir," said the second lieutenant, Mr Haswell.

"Look out," observed the chaplain, "it's coming."  Again the breeze
increased, and the frigate was borne down.

"Hands reef topsails in stays, Mr Pottyfar."

"Ay, ay, sir--'bout ship."

The helm was put down and the topsails lowered and reefed in stays.

"Very well, my lads, very well indeed," said Captain Wilson.

Again the topsails were hoisted and top-gallant sheets home.  It was a
strong breeze, although the water was smooth, and the _Aurora_ dashed
through at the rate of eight miles an hour, with her weather leeches
lifting.

"Didn't I tell you so?" said Martin to his mess-mates on the gangway;
"but there's more yet, my boys."

"We must take the top-gallant sails off her," said Captain Wilson,
looking aloft--for the frigate now careened to her bearings, and the
wind was increasing and squally.  "Try them a little longer;" but
another squall came suddenly--the halyards were lowered, and the sails
clewed up and furled.

In the meantime the frigate had rapidly gained upon the vessels, which
still carried on every stitch of canvas, making short tacks in-shore.
The _Aurora_ was again put about with her head towards them, and they
were not two points on her weather bow.  The sky, which had been clear
in the morning, was now overcast, the sun was obscured with opaque white
clouds, and the sea was rising fast.  Another ten minutes, and then they
were under double-reefed topsails, and the squalls were accompanied with
heavy rain.  The frigate now dashed through the waves, foaming in her
course and straining under the press of sail.  The horizon was so thick
that the vessels ahead were no longer to be seen.

"We shall have it, I expect," said Captain Wilson.

"Didn't I say so?" observed Martin to Gascoigne.  "We take no prizes
this day, depend upon it."

"We must have another hand to the wheel, sir, if you please," said the
quarter-master, who was assisting the helmsman.

Mr Pottyfar, with his hands concealed as usual, stood by the capstern.
"I fear, sir, we cannot carry the mainsail much longer."

"No," observed the chaplain, "I was thinking so."

"Captain Wilson, if you please, we are very close in," said the master:
"don't you think we had better go about?"

"Yes, Mr Jones.  Hands about ship--and--yes, by heavens, we must!--up
mainsail."

The mainsail was taken off, and the frigate appeared to be immediately
relieved.  She no longer jerked and plunged as before.

"We're very near the land, Captain Wilson; thick as it is, I think I can
make out the loom of it--shall we wear round, sir?" continued the
master.

"Yes--hands wear ship--put the helm up."

It was but just in time, for, as the frigate flew round, describing a
circle, as she payed off before the wind, they could perceive the
breakers lashing the precipitous coast not two cables' length from them.

"I had no idea we were so near," observed the captain, compressing his
lips--"can they see anything of those vessels?"

"I have not seen them this quarter of an hour, sir," replied the
signalman, protecting his glass from the rain under his jacket.

"How's her head now, quarter-master?"

"South south-east, sir."

The sky now assumed a different appearance--the white clouds had been
exchanged for others dark and murky, the wind roared at intervals, and
the rain came down in torrents.  Captain Wilson went down into the cabin
to examine the barometer.

"The barometer has risen," said he on his return on deck.  "Is the wind
steady?"

"No, sir, she's up and off three points."

"This will end in a south-wester."

The wet and heavy sails now flapped from the shifting of the wind.

"Up with the helm, quarter-master."

"Up it is--she's off to south-by-west."

The wind lulled, the rain came down in a deluge--for a minute it was
quite calm, and the frigate was on an even keel.

"Man the braces.  We shall be taken aback directly, depend upon it."

The braces were hardly stretched along before this was the case.  The
wind flew round to the south-west with a loud roar, and it was fortunate
that they were prepared--the yards were braced round, and the master
asked the captain what course they were to steer.

"We must give it up," observed Captain Wilson, holding on by the
belaying pin.  "Shape our course for Cape Sicie, Mr Jones."

And the _Aurora_ flew before the gale, under her foresail and topsails
close reefed.  The weather was now so thick that nothing could be
observed twenty yards from the vessel; the thunder pealed, and the
lightning darted in every direction over the dark expanse.  The watch
was called as soon as the sails were trimmed, and all who could went
below, wet, uncomfortable, and disappointed.

"What an old Jonah you are, Martin," said Gascoigne.

"Yes, I am," replied he; "but we have the worst to come yet, in my
opinion.  I recollect, not two hundred miles from where we are now, we
had just such a gale in the _Favourite_, and we as nearly went down,
when--"

At this moment a tremendous noise was heard above, a shock was felt
throughout the whole ship, which trembled fore and aft as if it were
about to fall into pieces; loud shrieks were followed by plaintive
cries, the lower deck was filled with smoke, and the frigate was down on
her beam ends.  Without exchanging a word, the whole of the occupants of
the berth flew out, and were up the hatchway, not knowing what to think,
but convinced that some dreadful accident had taken place.

On their gaining the deck it was at once explained; the foremast of the
frigate had been struck by lightning, had been riven into several
pieces, and had fallen over the larboard bow, carrying with it the main
topmast and jib-boom.  The jagged stump of the foremast was in flames,
and burned brightly, notwithstanding the rain fell in torrents.  The
ship, as soon as the foremast and main topmast had gone overboard,
broached-to furiously, throwing the men over the wheel and dashing them
senseless against the carronades; the forecastle, the fore part of the
main deck, and even the lower deck, were spread with men, either killed
or seriously wounded or insensible from the electric shock.  The frigate
was on her beam ends, and the sea broke furiously over her; all was dark
as pitch, except the light from the blazing stump of the foremast,
appearing like a torch, held up by the wild demons of the storm, or when
occasionally the gleaming lightning cast a momentary glare, threatening
every moment to repeat its attack upon the vessel, while the deafening
thunder burst almost on their devoted heads.  All was dismay and
confusion for a minute or two: at last Captain Wilson, who had himself
lost his sight for a short time, called for the carpenter and axes--they
climbed up, that is, two or three of them, and he pointed to the
mizzen-mast; the master was also there, and he cut loose the axes for
the seamen to use; in a few minutes the mizzen-mast fell over the
quarter, and the helm being put hard up, the frigate payed off and
slowly righted.  But the horror of the scene was not yet over.  The
boatswain, who had been on the forecastle, had been led below, for his
vision was gone for ever.  The men who lay scattered about had been
examined, and they were assisting them down to the care of the surgeon,
when the cry of "Fire!" issued from the lower deck.  The ship had taken
fire at the coal-hole and carpenter's storeroom, and the smoke that now
ascended was intense.

"Call the drummer," said Captain Wilson, "and let him beat to quarters--
all hands to their stations--let the pumps be rigged and the buckets
passed along.  Mr Martin, see that the wounded men are taken down
below.  Where's Mr Haswell?  Mr Pottyfar, station the men to pass the
water on by hand on the lower deck.  I will go there myself.  Mr Jones,
take charge of the ship."

Pottyfar, who actually had taken his hands out of his pockets, hastened
down to comply with the captain's orders on the main deck, as Captain
Wilson descended to the deck below.

"I say, Jack, this is very different from this morning," observed
Gascoigne.

"Yes," replied Jack, "so it is; but I say, Gascoigne, what's the best
thing to do?--when the chimney's on fire on shore, they put a wet
blanket over it."

"Yes," replied Gascoigne; "but when the coal-hole's on fire on board,
they will not find that sufficient."

"At all events, wet blankets must be a good thing, Ned, so let us pull
out the hammocks; cut the lanyards and get some out--we can but offer
them, you know, and if they do no good, at least it will show our zeal."

"Yes, Jack, and I think when they turn in again, those whose blankets
you take will agree with you that zeal makes the service very
uncomfortable.  However, I think you are right."

The two midshipmen collected three or four hands, and in a very short
time they had more blankets than they could carry--there was no trouble
in wetting them, for the main deck was afloat--and followed by the men
they had collected, Easy and Gascoigne went down with large bundles in
their arms to where Captain Wilson was giving directions to the men.

"Excellent, Mr Easy! excellent, Mr Gascoigne;" said Captain Wilson.
"Come, my lads, throw them over now, and stamp upon them well;" the
men's jackets and the captain's coat had already been sacrificed to the
same object.

Easy called the other midshipmen, and they went up for a further supply;
but there was no occasion, the fire had been smothered: still the danger
had been so great that the fore magazine had been floated.  During all
this, which lasted perhaps a quarter of an hour, the frigate had rolled
gunwale under, and many were the accidents which occurred.  At last all
danger from fire had ceased, and the men were ordered to return to their
quarters, when three officers and forty-seven men were found absent--
seven of them were dead--most of them were already under the care of the
surgeon, but some were still lying in the scuppers.

No one had been more active or more brave during this time of danger
than Mr Hawkins the chaplain.  He was everywhere, and when Captain
Wilson went down to put out the fire he was there, encouraging the men
and exerting himself most gallantly.  He and Mesty came aft when all was
over, one just as black as the other.  The chaplain sat down and wrung
his hands--"God forgive me!" said he, "God forgive me!"

"Why so, sir?" said Easy, who stood near, "I am sure you need not be
ashamed of what you have done."

"No, no, not ashamed of what I've done; but, Mr Easy--I have sworn so,
sworn such oaths at the men in my haste--I, the chaplain!  God forgive
me!--I meant nothing."  It was very true that Mr Hawkins had sworn a
great deal during his exertions, but he was at that time the
quarter-deck officer and not the chaplain; the example to the men and
his gallantry had been most serviceable.

"Indeed, sir," said Easy, who saw that the chaplain was in great
tribulation, and hoped to pacify him, "I was certainly not there all the
time, but I only heard you say, `God bless you, my men! be smart,' and
so on; surely, that is not swearing."

"Was it _that_ I said, Mr Easy, are you sure?  I really had an idea
that I had damned them all in heaps, as some of them deserved--no, no,
not deserved.  Did I really bless them--nothing but bless them?"

"Yes, sir," said Mesty, who perceived what Jack wanted; "it was nothing,
I assure you, but `God bless you, Captain Wilson!--Bless your heart, my
good men!--Bless the king!' and so on.  You do noting but shower down
blessing and wet blanket."

"I told you so," said Jack.

"Well, Mr Easy, you've made me very happy," replied the chaplain; "I
was afraid it was otherwise."

So indeed it was, for the chaplain had sworn like a boatswain; but, as
Jack and Mesty had turned all his curses into blessings, the poor man
gave himself absolution, and shaking hands with Jack, hoped he would
come down into the gun-room and take a glass of grog; nor did he forget
Mesty, who received a good allowance at the gun-room door, to which Jack
gladly consented, as the rum in the middy's berth had all been exhausted
after the rainy morning--but Jack was interrupted in his third glass, by
somebody telling him the captain wanted to speak with Mr Hawkins and
with him.

Jack went up and found the captain on the quarter-deck with the
officers.

"Mr Easy," said Captain Wilson, "I have sent for you, Mr Hawkins, and
Mr Gascoigne, to thank you on the quarter-deck, for your exertions and
presence of mind on this trying occasion."  Mr Hawkins made a bow.
Gascoigne said nothing, but he thought of having extra leave when they
arrived at Malta.  Jack felt inclined to make a speech, and began
something about when there was danger that it levelled every one to an
equality even on board of a man-of-war.

"By no means, Mr Easy," replied Captain Wilson, "it does the very
contrary, for it proves which is the best man, and those who are the
best raise themselves at once above the rest."

Jack was very much inclined to argue the point, but he took the
compliment and held his tongue, which was the wisest thing he could have
done; so he made his bow, and was about to go down into the midshipmen's
berth when the frigate was pooped by a tremendous sea, which washed all
those who did not hold on down into the waist.  Jack was among the
number, and naturally catching at the first object which touched him, he
caught hold of the chaplain by the leg, who commenced swearing most
terribly, but before he could finish the oath, the water, which had
burst into the cabin through the windows--for the dead-lights, in the
confusion, had not yet been shipped--burst out the cross bulkheads,
sweeping like a torrent the marine, the cabin-door, and everything else
in its force, and floating Jack and the chaplain with several others
down the main hatchway on to the lower deck.  The lower deck being also
full of water, men and chests were rolling and tossing about, and Jack
was sometimes in company with the chaplain, and at other times
separated; at last they both recovered their legs, and gained the
midshipmen's berth, which, although afloat, was still a haven of
security.  Mr Hawkins spluttered and spit, and so did Jack, until he
began to laugh.

"This is very trying, Mr Easy," said the chaplain: "very trying indeed
to the temper.  I hope I have not sworn--I hope not."

"Not a word," said Jack--"I was close to you all the time--you only
said, `God preserve us!'"

"Only that?  I was afraid that I said `God damn it!'"

"Quite a mistake, Mr Hawkins.  Let's go into the gun-room, and try to
wash this salt water out of our mouths, and then I will tell you all you
said, as far as I could hear it, word for word."

So Jack by this means got another glass of grog, which was very
acceptable in his wet condition, and made himself very comfortable,
while those on deck were putting on the dead-lights, and very busy
setting the goose-wings of the mainsail, to prevent the frigate from
being pooped a second time.



CHAPTER TWENTY SIX.

IN WHICH OUR HERO BECOMES EXCESSIVELY UNWELL, AND AGREES TO GO THROUGH A
COURSE OF MEDICINE.

The hammocks were not piped down that night: some were taken
indiscriminately for the wounded, but the rest remained in the nettings,
for all hands were busy preparing jury-masts and jury-rigging, and Mr
Pottyfar was so well employed that, for twelve hours, his hands were not
in his pockets.  It was indeed a dreadful night: the waves were
mountains high, and chased the frigate in their fury, cresting,
breaking, and roaring at her taffrail; but she flew before them with the
wings of the wind; four men at the helm assisted by others at the
relieving tackles below.  Jack, having been thanked on and washed off
the quarter-deck, thought that he had done quite enough; he was as deep
as he could swim before he had satisfied all the scruples of the
chaplain, and stowing himself away on one of the lockers of the
midshipmen's berth, was soon fast asleep, notwithstanding that the
frigate rolled gunwale under.  Gascoigne had done much better; he had
taken down a hammock, as he said, for a poor wounded man, hung it up,
and turned in himself.  The consequence was, that the next morning the
surgeon, who saw him lying in the hammock, had put him down in the
report; but as Gascoigne had got up as well as ever, he laughed, and
scratched his name out of the list of wounded.

Before morning, the ship had been pumped out dry, and all below made as
secure and safe as circumstances would permit; but the gale still
continued its violence, and there was anything but comfort on board.

"I say, Martin, you ought to be thrown overboard," said Gascoigne; "all
this comes from your croaking you're a Mother Carey's chicken."

"I wish I had been any one's chicken," replied Martin; "but the devil a
thing to nestle under have I had since I can well remember."

"What a bore to have no galley fire lighted," said one of the
youngsters, "no tea, and not allowed any grog."

"The gale will last three days," replied Martin, "and by that time we
shall not be far from the admiral; it won't blow home there."

"Well, then, we shall be ordered in directly, and I shall go on shore
to-morrow," replied Easy.

"Yes, if you're ill," replied Gascoigne.

"Never fear, I shall be sick enough: we shall be there at least six
weeks, and then we'll forget all this."

"Yes," replied Martin, "we may forget it, but will the poor fellows
whose limbs are shrivelled forget it? and will poor Miles, the
boatswain, who is blind for ever?"

"Very true, Martin, we are thinking about ourselves, not thankful for
our escape, and not feeling for others," replied Gascoigne.

"Give us your hand, Ned," said Jack Easy.  "And, Martin, we ought to
thank you for telling us the truth--we are a selfish set of fellows."

"Still we took our share with the others," replied one of the
midshipmen.

"That's more reason for us to be grateful and to pity them," replied
Jack; "suppose you had lost your arm or your eyesight--we should have
pitied you; so now pity others."

"Well, so I do, now I think of it."

"Think oftener, youngster," observed Martin, going on deck.

What a change from the morning of the day before!--but twenty-four hours
had passed away, and the sea had been smooth, the frigate dashed through
the blue water, proud in all her canvas, graceful as a swan.  Since
that, there had been fire, tempest, lightning, disaster, danger, and
death; her masts were tossed about on the snowy waves hundreds of miles
away from her--and she, a wreck, was rolling heavily, groaning and
complaining in every timber as she urged her impetuous race with the
furious-running sea.

How wrong are those on shore who assert that sailors are not
religious!--how is it possible, supposing them to be possessed of
feeling, to be otherwise?  On shore, where you have nothing but the
change of seasons, each in his own peculiar beauty--nothing but the
blessings of the earth, its fruit, its flowers--nothing but the bounty,
the comforts, the luxuries which have been invented, where you can rise
in the morning in peace, and lay down your head at night in security--
God may be neglected and forgotten for a long time; but at sea, when
each gale is a warning, each disaster acts as a check, each escape as a
homily upon the forbearance of Providence, that man must be indeed
brutalised who does not feel that God is there.  On shore we seldom view
Him but in all His beauty and kindness; but at sea we are as often
reminded how terrible He is in His wrath.  Can it be supposed that the
occurrences of the last twenty-four hours were lost upon the mind of any
one man in that ship?  No, no.  In their courage and activity they might
appear reckless, but in their hearts they acknowledged and bowed unto
their God.

Before the day was over a jury-foremast had been got up, and sail having
been put upon it, the ship was steered with greater ease and safety--the
main brace had been spliced to cheer up the exhausted crew, and the
hammocks were piped down.

As Gascoigne had observed, some of the men were not very much pleased to
find that they were minus their blankets, but Captain Wilson ordered
their losses to be supplied by the purser and expended by the master;
this quite altered the case, as they obtained new blankets in most cases
for old ones; but still it was impossible to light the galley fire, and
the men sat on their chests and nibbled biscuit.  By twelve o'clock that
night the gale broke, and more sail was necessarily put on the scudding
vessel, for the sea still ran fast and mountains high.  At daylight the
sun burst out and shone brightly on them, the sea went gradually down,
the fire was lighted, and Mr Pottyfar, whose hands were again in his
pockets, at twelve o'clock gave the welcome order to pipe to dinner.  As
soon as the men had eaten their dinner, the frigate was once more
brought to the wind, her jury-mast forward improved upon, and more sail
made upon it.  The next morning there was nothing of the gale left
except the dire effects which it had produced, the black and riven stump
of the foremost still holding up a terrific warning of the power and
fury of the elements.

Three days more, and the _Aurora_ joined the Toulon fleet.  When she was
first seen it was imagined by those on board of the other ships that she
had been in action; but they soon learned that the conflict had been
against more direful weapons than any yet invented by mortal hands.
Captain Wilson waited upon the admiral, and of course received immediate
orders to repair to port and refit.  In a few hours the _Aurora_ had
shaped her course for Malta, and by sunset the Toulon fleet were no
longer in sight.

"By de holy poker, Massa Easy, but that terrible sort of gale the other
day anyhow--I tink one time we all go to Davy Joney's lacker."

"Very true, Mesty; I hope never to meet with such another."

"Den, Massa Easy, why you go to sea?  When man ab no money, noting to
eat, den he go to sea, but everybody say you ab plenty money--why you
come to sea?"

"I'm sure I don't know," replied Jack thoughtfully; "I came to sea on
account of equality and the rights of man."

"Eh, Massa Easy, you come to wrong place anyhow; now I tink a good deal
lately, and by all de power, I tink equality all stuff."

"All stuff, Mesty, why? you used to think otherwise."

"Yes, Massa Easy, but den I boil de kettle for all young gentleman.  Now
dat I ship's corporal and hab cane, I tink so no longer."

Jack made no reply, but he thought the more.  The reader must have
perceived that Jack's notions of equality were rapidly disappearing; he
defended them more from habit, and perhaps a wilfulness which would not
allow him to acknowledge himself wrong; to which may be added his love
of argument.  Already he had accustomed himself to obedience to his
superiors, and, notwithstanding his arguments, he would admit of no
resistance from those below him; not that it was hardly ever attempted,
for Jack was anything but a tyrant, and was much beloved by all in the
ship.  Every day brought its lesson, and Captain Wilson was now
satisfied that Jack had been almost cured of the effects of his father's
ridiculous philosophy.

After a few minutes, Mesty tapped his cane on the funnel, and
recommenced.

"Then why you stay at sea, Massa Easy?"

"I don't know, Mesty; I don't dislike it."

"But, Massa Easy, why you stay in midshipman berth--eat hard biscuit,
salt pig, salt horse, when you can go shore, and live like gentleman?
Dat very foolish!  Why not be your own master?  By all power! suppose I
had money, catch me board ship.  Little sea very good, Massa Easy--open
one eyes; but tink of the lightning t'other night: poor massa boatswain,
he shut um eyes for ebber!"

"Very true, Mesty."

"Me hope you tink of this, sar, and when you go on shore, you take Mesty
wid you: he sarve you well, Massa Easy, long as he live, by de holy St.
Patrick.  And den, Massa Easy, you marry wife--hab pickaninny--lib like
gentleman.  You tink of this, Massa Easy."

The mention of the word marriage turned the thoughts of our hero to his
Agnes, and he made no reply.  Mesty walked away, leaving our hero in
deep thought.

This conversation had more effect upon Jack than would have been
imagined, and he very often found he was putting to himself the question
of Mesty--"Why do you stay at sea?"  He had not entered the service with
any particular view, except to find equality; and he could not but
acknowledge to himself that, as Mesty observed, he had come to the wrong
place.  He had never even thought of staying to serve his time, nor had
he looked forward to promotion, and one day commanding a ship.  He had
only cared for the present, without indulging in a future anticipation
of any reward, except in a union with Agnes.  Mesty's observations
occasioned Jack to reflect upon the future for the first time in his
life; and he was always perplexed when he put the question of Mesty, and
tried to answer to himself as to what were his intentions in remaining
in the service.

Nevertheless, Jack did his duty very much to the satisfaction of Mr
Pottyfar; and after a tedious passage, from baffling and light winds,
the _Aurora_ arrived at Malta.  Our hero had had some conversation with
his friend Gascoigne, in which he canvassed his future plans; all of
which, however, ended in one settled point, which was that he was to
marry Agnes.  As for the rest, Gascoigne was of opinion that Jack ought
to follow up the service, and become a captain, but there was plenty of
time to think about that, as he observed, now all they had to consider
was how to get on shore; for the refitting of the ship was an excuse for
detaining them on board, which they knew Mr Pottyfar would avail
himself of.  Jack dined in the gun-room on the day of their arrival, and
he resolved that he would ask that very evening.  Captain Wilson was
already on shore at the Governor's.  Now, there had been a little
difference of opinion between Mr Pottyfar and Mr Hawkins, the
chaplain, on a point of seamanship; and most of the officers sided with
the chaplain, who, as we have before observed, was a first-rate seaman.
It had ended in high words, for Mr Hawkins had forgotten himself so far
as to tell the first lieutenant that he had a great deal to learn, not
having even got over the midshipman's trick of keeping his hands in his
pockets; and Mr Pottyfar had replied that it was very well for him as
chaplain to insult others, knowing that his cassock protected him.  This
was a bitter reply to Mr Hawkins, who at the very time that the
insinuation made his blood boil, was also reminded that his profession
forbade a retort: he rushed into his cabin, poor fellow, having no other
method left, vented his indignation in tears, and then consoled himself
by degrees with prayer.  In the meantime, Mr Pottyfar had gone on deck,
wroth with Hawkins and his messmates, as well as displeased with
himself.  He was, indeed, in a humour to be pleased with nobody, and in
a most unfortunate humour to be asked leave by a midshipman.
Nevertheless, Jack politely took off his hat, and requested leave to go
on shore and see his friend the Governor.  Upon which Mr Pottyfar
turned round to him, with his feet spread wide open, and thrusting his
hands to the very bottom of his pockets, as if in determination, said,
"Mr Easy, you know the state of the ship; we have everything to do--new
masts, new rigging, everything almost to refit--and yet you ask to go on
shore!  Now, sir, you may take this answer for yourself and all the
other midshipmen in the ship, that not one soul of you puts his foot on
shore until we are all a-taunto."

"Allow me to observe, sir," said our hero, "that it is very true that
all our services may be required when the duty commences, but this being
Saturday night, and to-morrow Sunday, the frigate will not be even moved
till Monday morning; and as the work cannot begin before that, I trust
you will permit leave until that time."

"My opinion is different, sir," replied the first lieutenant.

"Perhaps, sir, you will allow me to argue the point," replied Jack.

"No, sir, I never allow argument; walk over to the other side of the
deck, if you please."

"Oh, certainly, sir," said Jack, "if you wish it."

Jack's first idea was to go on shore without leave, but from this he was
persuaded by Gascoigne, who told him that it would displease Captain
Wilson, and that old Tom, the Governor, would not receive him.  Jack
agreed to this, and then, after a flourish about the rights of man,
tyranny, oppression, and so forth, he walked forward to the forecastle,
where he found his friend Mesty, who had heard all that had passed, and
who insidiously said to him in a low tone:

"Why you stay at sea, Massa Easy?"

"Why, indeed," thought Jack, boiling with indignation, "to be cooped up
here at the will of another?  I am a fool--Mesty is right--I'll ask for
my discharge to-morrow."  Jack went down below and told Gascoigne what
he had determined to do.

"You'll do no such thing, Jack," replied Gascoigne "depend upon it,
you'll have plenty of leave in a day or two.  Pottyfar was in a pet with
the chaplain, who was too much for him.  Captain Wilson will be on board
by nine o'clock."

Nevertheless, Jack walked his first watch in the _magnificents_, as all
middies do when they cannot go on shore, and turned in at twelve
o'clock, with the resolution of sticking to his purpose, and quitting
his Majesty's service; in fact, of presenting his Majesty with his
between two and three years' time, served as midshipman, all free,
gratis, and for nothing, except his provisions and his pay, which some
captains are bold enough to assert that they not only are not worth, but
not even the salt that accompanies it; forgetting that they were once
midshipmen themselves, and at the period were, of course, about the same
value.

The next morning Captain Wilson came off; the ship's company were
mustered, the service read by Mr Hawkins, and Jack, as soon as all the
official duties were over, was about to go up to the captain, when the
captain said to him:

"Mr Easy, the Governor desired me to bring you on shore to dine with
him, and he has a bed at your service."

Jack touched his hat, and ran down below, to make his few preparations.

By the time that Mesty, who had taken charge of his chest, etcetera, had
put his necessaries in the boat, Jack had almost made up his mind that
his Majesty should not be deprived yet awhile of so valuable an officer.
Jack returned on deck, and found that the captain was not yet ready; he
went up to Mr Pottyfar, and told him that the captain had ordered him
to go on shore with him; and Mr Pottyfar, who had quite got over his
spleen, said:

"Very well, Mr Easy--I wish you a great deal of pleasure."

"This is very different from yesterday," thought Jack; "suppose I try
the medicine?"

"I am not very well, Mr Pottyfar, and those pills of the doctor's don't
agree with me--I always am ill if I am long without air and exercise."

"Very true," said the first lieutenant, "people require air and
exercise.  I've no opinion of the doctor's remedies; the only thing that
is worth a farthing is the universal medicine."

"I should so long to try it, sir," replied Jack; "I read the book one
day, and it said that if you took it daily for a fortnight or three
weeks, and with plenty of air and exercise, it would do wonders."

"And it's very true," replied Mr Pottyfar, "and if you'd like to try it
you shall--I have plenty--shall I give you a dose now?"

"If you please, sir," replied Jack; "and tell me how often I am to take
it, for my head aches all day."

Mr Pottyfar took Jack down, and putting into his hand three or four
bottles of the preparation, told him that he was to take thirty drops at
night, when he went to bed, not to drink more than two glasses of wine,
and to avoid the heat of the sun.

"But, sir," replied Jack, who had put the bottles in his pocket, "I am
afraid that I cannot take it for long; for as the ship is ready for
fitting, I shall be exposed to the sun all day."

"Yes, if you are wanted, Mr Easy; but we have plenty here without you;
and when you are unwell you cannot be expected to work.  Take care of
your health; and I trust, indeed I am sure, that you will find this
medicine wonderfully efficacious."

"I will begin to-night, sir, if you please," replied Jack, "and I am
very much obliged to you.  I sleep at the Governor's--shall I come on
board to-morrow morning?"

"No, no; take care of yourself, and get well; I shall be glad to hear
that you get better.  Send me word how it acts."

"I will, sir, send you word by the boat every day," replied Jack,
delighted; "I am very much obliged to you, sir.  Gascoigne and I were
thinking of asking you, but did not like to do so: he, poor fellow,
suffers from headaches almost as bad as I do, and the doctor's pills are
of no use to him."

"He shall have some, too, Mr Easy.  I thought he looked pale.  I'll see
to it this afternoon.  Recollect, moderate exercise, Mr Easy, and avoid
the sun at midday."

"Yes, sir," replied Jack, "I'll not forget;" and off went Jack,
delighted.  He ordered Mesty to put up his whole portmanteau instead of
the small bundle he put into the boat, and telling Gascoigne what a
spoke he had put into his wheel, was soon in the boat with the captain,
and went on shore, where he was cordially greeted by the Governor.



CHAPTER TWENTY SEVEN.

IN WHICH CAPTAIN WILSON IS REPAID WITH INTEREST FOR JACK'S BORROWING HIS
NAME; PROVING THAT A GOOD NAME IS AS GOOD AS A LEGACY.

"Well, Jack, my boy, have you any long story ready for me?" inquired the
Governor.

"Yes, sir," replied Jack, "I have one or two very good ones."

"Very well, we'll hear them after dinner," replied old Tom.  "In the
meantime find out your room and take possession."

"That must not be for very long, Governor," observed Captain Wilson.
"Mr Easy must learn his duty, and there is a good opportunity now."

"If you please, sir," replied Jack, "I'm on the sick-list."

"Sick-list," said Captain Wilson; "you were not in the report that Mr
Wilson gave me this morning."

"No, I'm on Mr Pottyfar's list; and I'm going through a course of the
universal medicine."

"What's all this, Jack--what's all this?--there's some story here--don't
be afraid of the captain--you've me to back you," said the Governor.

Jack was not at all afraid of the captain, so he told him how the
first-lieutenant had refused him leave the evening before, and how he
had now given him permission to remain, and try the universal medicine,
at which the Governor laughed heartily, nor could Captain Wilson refrain
from joining.

"But, Mr Easy," replied the captain, after a pause, "if Mr Pottyfar
will allow you to stay on shore, I cannot--you have your duty to learn.
You must be aware that now is your time, and you must not lose
opportunities that do not occur every day.  You must acknowledge the
truth of what I say."

"Yes, sir," replied Jack, "I admit it all, provided I do intend to
follow the profession;" and so saying, our hero bowed, and left the
veranda where they had been talking.

This hint of Jack's, thrown out by him more with the intention of
preventing his being sent on board than with any definite idea, was not
lost upon either the captain or the Governor.

"Does he jib, then?" observed the Governor.

"On the contrary, I never knew him more attentive and so entirely
getting rid of his former notions.  He has behaved most nobly in the
gale, and there has not been one complaint against him--I never was more
astonished--he must have meant something."

"I'll tell you what he means, Wilson--that he does not like to be sent
on board, nothing more.  He's not to be cooped up--you may lead him, but
not drive him."

"Yes, but the service will not admit of it.  I never could allow it--he
must do his duty like the rest, and conform to the rules."

"Exactly, so he must; but look ye, Wilson, you must not lose him: it's
all easily settled--appoint him your orderly midshipman to and from the
ship; that will be employment, and he can always remain here at night.
I will tell him that I have asked, as a favour, what I now do, and leave
me to find out what he is thinking about."

"It may be done that way, certainly," replied Captain Wilson, musing;
"and you are more likely to get his intentions from him than I am.  I am
afraid he has too great a command of money ever to be fond of the ship;
it is the ruin of a junior officer to be so lavishly supplied."

"He's a long way from ruin yet, Wilson--he's a very fine fellow, even by
your own acknowledgment.  You humoured him out of gratitude to his
father, when he first came into the service; humour him a little now to
keep him in it.  Besides, if your first lieutenant is such a fool with
his universal medicine, can you wonder at a midshipman taking advantage
of it?"

"No, but I ought not to allow him to do so with my eyes open."

"He has made it known to you upon honour, and you ought not to take
advantage of his confidence: but still what I proposed would, I think,
be the best, for then he will be at his duty in a way that will suit all
parties.  You, because you employ him on service--the first lieutenant,
because Jack can take his medicine--and Jack, because he can dine with
me every day."

"Well, I suppose it must be so," replied Captain Wilson, laughing; "but
still, I trust, you will discover what is working in his mind to induce
him to give me that answer, Governor."

"Never fear, Jack shall confess, and lay his soul as bare as that of a
Catholic bigot before his padre."

The party sat down to dinner, and what with the Governor's aide-de-camp
and those invited, it was pretty numerous.  After the cloth had been
removed, the Governor called upon Jack for his stories, whereupon, much
to the surprise of Captain Wilson, who had never heard one word of it,
for the admiral had not mentioned anything about it to him during the
short time the _Aurora_ was with the Toulon fleet, our hero gave the
Governor and the company the narrative of all that happened in the _Mary
Ann_ transport--the loves of Captain Hogg and Miss Hicks--the adventures
of Gascoigne--and his plan, by which he baulked them all.  The Governor
was delighted, and Captain Wilson not a little astonished.

"You prevented a very foolish thing, Mr Easy, and behaved very well,"
observed the captain, laughing again at the idea; "but you never told me
of all this."

"No, sir," replied Jack, "I have always reserved my stories for the
Governor's table, where I am sure to meet you, and then telling once
does for all."

Jack received his appointment as orderly midshipman, and everything went
on well; for, of his own accord, he stayed on board the major part of
the day to learn his duty, which very much pleased the captain and Mr
Pottyfar.  In this Jack showed a great deal of good sense, and Captain
Wilson did not repent of the indulgence he had shown him.  Jack's health
improved daily, much to Mr Pottyfar's satisfaction, who imagined that
he took the universal medicine night and morning.  Gascoigne also was a
patient under the first lieutenant's hands, and often on shore with our
hero, who thought no more of quitting the service.

For seven weeks they had now remained in harbour, for even the masts had
to be made, when, one day, Captain Wilson opened a letter he received at
breakfast-time, and having read it, laid it down with the greatest
surprise depicted in his countenance.  "Good heavens! what can this
mean?" said he.

"What's the matter, Wilson?" said the Governor.

"Just hear its contents, Sir Thomas."

Captain Wilson then read in Spanish as follows:--

"HONOURABLE SIR:--

"It is my duty to advise you that the Honourable Lady Signora Alforgas
de Guzman, now deceased, has, in her testament, bequeathed to you the
sum of one thousand doubloons in gold as a testimony of your kind
services on the night of the 12th of August.  If you will authorise any
merchant here to receive the money, it shall be paid forthwith, or
remitted in any way you please to appoint.  May you live a thousand
years.

"Your most obedient servant:--

"ALFONZO XEREZ."

Jack heard the letter read, rose quietly, whistled low, as if not
attending to it, and then slipped out of the room, unperceived by the
Governor or Captain Wilson.

The fact was, that although Jack had longed to tell the Governor about
his adventures after the masquerade, he did not like yet awhile, until
he was sure that there were no consequences--because he had given the
captain's name instead of his own.  As soon as he heard the letter read,
he at once perceived that it had been the old lady, and not the priests,
who had made the inquiry, and that by giving Captain Wilson's name he
had obtained for him this fine legacy.  Jack was delighted, but still
puzzled, so he walked out of the room to reflect a little.

"What can it mean?" said Captain Wilson.  "I never rendered any services
to any one on the 12th of August or after it.  It is some mistake--12th
of August--that was the day of the grand masquerade."

"A lucky one for you, at all events--for you know, mistake or not, no
one else can touch the legacy.  It can only be paid to you."

"I never heard of anything taking place at the masquerade--I was there,
but I left early, for I was not very well.  Mr Easy," said Captain
Wilson, turning round, but Jack was gone.

"Was he at the masquerade?" asked the Governor.

"Yes, I know he was, for the first lieutenant told me that he requested
not to come on board till the next day."

"Depend upon it," replied the Governor, striking his fist upon the
table, "that Jack's at the bottom of it."

"I should not be surprised at his being at the bottom of anything,"
replied Captain Wilson, laughing.

"Leave it to me, Wilson, I'll find it out."

After a little more conversation, Captain Wilson went on board, leaving
Jack on purpose that the Governor might pump him.  But this Sir Thomas
had no occasion to do, for Jack had made up his mind to make the
Governor his confidant, and he immediately told him the whole story.
The Governor held his sides at our hero's description, especially at his
ruse of giving the captain's name instead of his own.

"You'll kill me, Jack, before you've done with me," said old Tom, at
last; "but now what is to be done?"

Our hero now became grave; he pointed out to the Governor that he
himself had plenty of money, and would come into a large fortune, and
that Captain Wilson was poor, with a large family.  All Jack wished the
Governor to manage was, that Captain Wilson might consent to accept the
legacy.

"Right, boy, right! you're my own boy," replied the Governor; "but we
must think of this, for Wilson is the very soul of honour, and there may
be some difficulty about it.  You have told nobody?"

"Not a soul but you, Sir Thomas."

"It never will do to tell him all this, Jack, for he would insist that
the legacy belonged to you."

"I have it, sir," replied Jack.  "When I was going into the masquerade,
I offered to hand this very old lady, who was covered with diamonds, out
of her carriage, and she was so frightened at my dress of a devil, that
she would have fallen down had it not been for Captain Wilson, who
supported her, and she was very thankful to him."

"You are right, Jack," replied the Governor, after a short pause; "that
will, I think, do.  I must tell him the story of the friars, because I
swore you had something to do with it--but I'll tell him no more: leave
it all to me."

Captain Wilson returned in the afternoon, and found the Governor in the
veranda.

"I have had some talk with young Easy," said the Governor, "and he has
told me a strange story about that night, which he was afraid to tell to
everybody."

The Governor then narrated the history of the friars and the will.

"Well, but," observed Captain Wilson, "the history of that will afford
no clue to the legacy."

"No, it does not; but still, as I said, Jack had a hand in this.  He
frightened the old lady as a devil, and you caught her in your arms and
saved her from falling, so he had a hand in it, you see."

"I do now remember that I did save a very dowager-like old personage
from falling at the sight of a devil, who, of course, must have been our
friend Easy."

"Well, and that accounts for the whole of it."

"A thousand doubloons for picking up an old lady!"

"Yes, why not?--have you not heard of a man having a fortune left him
for merely opening the pew-door of a church to an old gentleman?"

"Yes, but it appears so strange."

"There's nothing strange in this world, Wilson, nothing at all--we may
slave for years and get no reward, and do a trifle out of politeness and
become independent.  In my opinion, this mystery is unravelled.  The old
lady, for I knew the family, must have died immensely rich: she knew you
in your full uniform, and she asked your name; a heavy fall would have
been to one so fat a most serious affair; you saved her, and she has
rewarded you handsomely."

"Well," replied Captain Wilson, "as I can give no other explanation, I
suppose yours is the correct one; but it's hardly fair to take a
thousand doubloons from her relations merely for an act of civility."

"You really are quite ridiculous; the old lady owned half Murcia, to my
knowledge.  It is no more to them than any one leaving you a suit of
mourning in an English legacy.  I wish you joy; it will help you with a
large family, and in justice to them you are bound to take it.
Everybody does as he pleases with his own money,--depend upon it, you
saved her from breaking her leg short off at the hip joint."

"Upon that supposition I presume I must accept of the legacy," replied
Captain Wilson, laughing.

"Of course, send for it at once.  The rate of exchange is now high.  I
will give you government bills, which will make it nearly four thousand
pounds."

"Four thousand pounds for preventing an old woman from falling," replied
Captain Wilson.

"Devilish well paid, Wilson, and I congratulate you."

"For how much am I indebted to the father of young Easy!" observed
Captain Wilson, after a silence of some minutes; "if he had not assisted
me when I was appointed to a ship, I should not have gained my
promotion--nor three thousand pounds I have made in prize-money--the
command of a fine frigate--and now four thousand pounds in a windfall."

The Governor thought that he was more indebted to Jack than to his
father for some of these advantages, but he was careful not to point
them out.

"It's very true," observed the Governor, "that Mr Easy was of service
to you when you were appointed; but allow me to observe that for your
ship, your prize-money, and for your windfall, you have been wholly
indebted to your own gallantry in both senses of the word; still Mr
Easy is a fine generous fellow, and so is his son, I can tell you.
By-the-bye, I had a long conversation with him the other day."

"About himself?"

"Yes, all about himself.  He appears to me to have come into the service
without any particular motive, and will be just as likely to leave it in
the same way.  He appears to be very much in love with that Sicilian
nobleman's daughter.  I find that he has written to her, and to her
brother, since he has been here."

"That he came into the service in search of what he never will find in
this world, I know very well; and I presume that he has found that out--
and that he will follow up the service is also very doubtful; but I do
not wish that he should leave it yet; it is doing him great good,"
replied Captain Wilson.

"I agree with you there--I have great influence with him, and he shall
stay yet awhile.  He is heir to a very large fortune, is he not?"

"A clear eight thousand pounds a year, if not more."

"If his father dies he must, of course, leave: a midshipman with eight
thousand pounds a year would indeed be an anomaly."

"That the service could not permit.  It would be as injurious to himself
as it would to others about him.  At present, he has almost, indeed I
may say quite, an unlimited command of money."

"That's bad, very bad.  I wonder he behaves so well as he does."

"And so do I: but he really is a very superior lad, with all his
peculiarities, and a general favourite with those whose opinions and
friendship are worth having."

"Well, don't curb him up too tight--for really he does not require it.
He goes very well in a snaffle."



CHAPTER TWENTY EIGHT.

"PHILOSOPHY MADE EASY" UPON AGRARIAN PRINCIPLES, THE SUBJECT OF SOME
UNEASINESS TO OUR HERO--THE FIRST APPEARANCE, BUT NOT THE LAST, OF AN
IMPORTANT PERSONAGE.

The conversation was here interrupted by a mail from England which they
had been expecting.  Captain Wilson retired with his letters; the
Governor remained equally occupied; and our hero received the first
letter ever written to him by his father.  It ran as follows:--

"MY DEAR SON:--

"I have many times taken up my pen with the intention of letting you
know how things went on in this country.  But as I can perceive around
but one dark horizon of evil, I have as often laid it down again without
venturing to make you unhappy with such bad intelligence.

"The account of your death, and also of your unexpectedly being yet
spared to us, were duly received, and I trust, I mourned and rejoiced on
each occasion with all the moderation characteristic of a philosopher.
In the first instance I consoled myself with the reflection that the
world you had left was in a state of slavery and pressed down by the
iron arm of despotism, and that to die was gain, not only in all the
parson tells us, but also in our liberty; and, at the second
intelligence, I moderated my joy for nearly about the same reasons,
resolving, notwithstanding what Dr Middleton may say, to die as I have
lived, a true philosopher.

"The more I reflect the more am I convinced that there is nothing
required to make this world happy but equality, and the rights of man
being duly observed--in short, that everything and everybody should be
reduced to one level.  Do we not observe that it is the law of nature--
do not brooks run into rivers--rivers into seas--mountains crumble down
upon the plains?--are not the seasons contented to equalise the parts of
the earth?  Why does the sun run round the ecliptic, instead of the
equator, but to give an equal share of his heat to both sides of the
world?  Are we not all equally born in misery? does not death level us
all _aequo pede_, as the poet hath? are we not all equally hungry,
thirsty, and sleepy, and thus levelled by our natural wants?  And such
being the case, ought we not to have our equal share of good things in
this world, to which we have an undoubted equal right?  Can any argument
be more solid or more level than this, whatever nonsense Dr Middleton
may talk?

"Yes, my son, if it were not that I still hope to see the sun of Justice
arise, and disperse the manifold dark clouds which obscure the land--if
I did not still hope, in my time, to see an equal distribution of
property--an Agrarian law passed by the House of Commons, in which all
should benefit alike--I would not care how soon I left this vale of
tears, created by tyranny and injustice.  At present, the same system is
carried on; the nation is taxed for the benefit of the few, and it
groans under oppression and despotism; but I still do think that there
is, if I may fortunately express myself, a bright star in the west; and
signs of the times which comfort me.  Already we have had a good deal of
incendiarism about the country, and some of the highest aristocracy have
pledged themselves to raise the people above themselves, and have
advised sedition and conspiracy; have shown to the debased and
unenlightened multitude that their force is physically irresistible, and
recommended them to make use of it, promising that if they hold in
power, they will only use that power to the abolition of our farce of a
constitution, of a church, and of a king; and that if the nation is to
be governed at all, it shall only be governed by the many.  This is
cheering.  Hail, patriot lords! all hail!  I am in hopes yet the great
work will be achieved, in spite of the laughs and sneers and shakes of
the head which my arguments still meet with from that obstinate fellow
Dr Middleton.

"Your mother is in a quiet way; she has given over reading and working,
and even her knitting, as useless; and she now sits all day long at the
chimney corner twiddling her thumbs, and waiting, as she says, for the
millennium.  Poor thing! she is very foolish with her ideas upon this
matter, but as usual I let her have her own way in every thing, copying
the philosopher of old, who was tied to his Xantippe.

"I trust, my dear son, that your principles have strengthened with your
years and fortified with your growth, and that, if necessary, you will
sacrifice all to obtain what in my opinion will prove to be the real
millennium.  Make all the converts you can, and believe me to be, your
affectionate father and true guide:--

"NICODEMUS EASY."

Jack, who was alone, shook his head as he read this letter, and then
laid it down with a pish!  He did it involuntarily, and was surprised at
himself when he found that he had so done.  "I should like to argue the
point," thought Jack, in spite of himself; and then he threw the letter
on the table, and went into Gascoigne's room, displeased with his father
and with himself.  He asked Ned whether he had received any letters from
England, and it being dinner-time, went back to dress.  On his coming
down into the receiving-room with Gascoigne, the Governor said to them:

"As you two both speak Italian, you must take charge of a Sicilian
officer who has come here with letters of introduction to me, and who
dines here to-day."

Before dinner they were introduced to the party in question, a
slight-made, well-looking young man, but still there was an expression
in his countenance which was not agreeable.  In compliance with the
wishes of the Governor, Don Mathias, for so he was called, was placed
between our two midshipmen, who immediately entered into conversation
with him, being themselves anxious to make inquiries about their friends
at Palermo.  In the course of conversation Jack inquired of him whether
he was acquainted with Don Rebiera, to which the Sicilian answered in
the affirmative, and they talked about the different members of the
family.  Don Mathias, towards the close of the dinner, inquired of Jack
by what means he had become acquainted with Don Rebiera, and Jack, in
reply, narrated how he and his friend Gascoigne had saved him from being
murdered by two villains; after this reply the young officer appeared to
be less inclined for conversation, but before the party broke up
requested to have the acquaintance of our two midshipmen.  As soon as he
was gone, Gascoigne observed in a reflective way, "I have seen that face
before, but where I cannot exactly say; but you know, Jack, what a
memory of people I have, and I have seen him before, I am sure."

"I can't recollect that ever I have," replied our hero, "but I never
knew any one who could recollect in that way as you do."

The conversation was then dropped between them, and Jack was for some
time listening to the Governor and Captain Wilson, for the whole party
were gone away, when Gascoigne, who had been in deep thought since he
had made the observation to Jack, sprang up.

"I have him at last!" cried he.

"Have who?" demanded Captain Wilson.

"That Sicilian officer--I could have sworn that I had seen him before."

"That Don Mathias?"

"No, Sir Thomas!  He is not Don Mathias!  He is the very Don Silvio who
was murdering Don Rebiera, when we came to his assistance and saved
him."

"I do believe you are right, Gascoigne."

"I'm positive of it," replied Gascoigne; "I never made a mistake in my
life."

"Bring me those letters, Easy," said the Governor, "and let us see what
they say of him.  Here it is--Don Mathias de Alayeres.  You may be
mistaken, Gascoigne; it's a heavy charge you are making against this
young man."

"Well, Sir Thomas, if that is not Don Silvio, I'd forfeit my commission
if I had it here in my hand.  Besides, I observed the change in his
countenance when we told him it was Easy and I who had come to Don
Rebiera's assistance; and did you observe after that, Easy, that he
hardly said a word?"

"Very true," replied Jack.

"Well, well, we must see to this," observed the Governor; "if so, this
letter of introduction must be a forgery."

The party then retired to bed, and the next morning, while Easy was in
Gascoigne's room talking over their suspicions, letters from Palermo
were brought up to him.  They were in answer to those written by Jack on
his arrival at Malta: a few lines from Don Rebiera, a small note from
Agnes, and a voluminous detail from his friend Don Philip, who informed
him of the good health of all parties and of their good-will towards
him; of Agnes being as partial as ever; of his having spoken plainly, as
he had promised Jack, to his father and mother relative to the mutual
attachment; of their consent being given, and then withheld, because
Father Thomas, their confessor, would not listen to the union of Agnes
with a heretic; but, nevertheless, telling Jack this would be got over
through the medium of his brother and himself, who were determined that
their sister and he should not be made unhappy about such a trifle.  But
the latter part of the letter contained intelligence equally important,
which was, that Don Silvio had again attempted the life of their father,
and would have succeeded, had not Father Thomas, who happened to be
there, thrown himself between them.  That Don Silvio in his rage had
actually stabbed the confessor, although the wound was not dangerous.
That, in consequence of this, all further lenity was denied to him, and
that the authorities were in search of him to award him the punishment
due to murder and sacrilege.  That up to the present they could not find
him, and it was supposed that he had made his escape to Malta in one of
the speronares.

Such were the contents of the letter, which were immediately
communicated to the Governor and Captain Wilson, upon their meeting at
breakfast.

"Very well, we must see to this," observed the Governor, who then made
his inquiries as to the other intelligence contained in the letters.

Jack and Gascoigne were uneasy till the breakfast was over, when they
made their escape: a few moments afterwards Captain Wilson rose to go on
board, and sent for them, but they were not to be found.

"I understand it all, Wilson," said the Governor; "leave them to me; go
on board and make yourself quite easy."

In the meantime our two midshipmen had taken their hats and walked away
to the parapet of the battery, where they would not be interrupted.

"Now, Gascoigne," observed Jack, "you guess what I'm about--I must shoot
that rascal this very morning, and that's why I came out with you."

"But, Easy, the only difference is this, that I must shoot him, and not
you; he is my property, for I found him out."

"We'll argue that point," replied Jack: "he has attempted the life of my
is-to-be, please God, father-in-law, and therefore I have the best claim
to him."

"I beg your pardon, Jack, he is mine, for I discovered him.  Now let me
put a case: suppose one man walking several yards before another, picks
up a purse, what claim has the other to it?  I found him, and not you."

"That's all very well, Gascoigne; but suppose the purse you picked up to
be mine, then I have a right to it, although you found it; he is my bird
by right, and not yours."

"But I have another observation to make, which is very important: he is
a blood relation of Agnes, and if his blood is on your hands, however
much he may deserve it, depend upon it, it will be raised as an obstacle
to your union; think of that."

Jack paused in thought.

"And let me induce you by another remark--you will confer on me a most
particular favour."

"It will be the greatest I ever could," replied Jack, "and you ought to
be eternally indebted to me."

"I trust to make him _eternally_ indebted to me," replied Gascoigne.

Sailors, if going into action, always begin to reckon what their share
of their prize-money may be, before a shot is fired--our two midshipmen
appear in this instance to be doing the same.

The point having been conceded to Gascoigne, Jack went to the inn where
Don Silvio had mentioned that he had taken up his quarters, and sending
up his card, followed the waiter upstairs.  The waiter opened the door,
and presented the card.

"Very well," replied Don Silvio, "you can go down and show him up."

Jack, hearing these words, did not wait, but walked in, where he found
Don Silvio very busy removing a hone upon which he had been whetting a
sharp double-edged stiletto.  The Sicilian walked up to him, offering
his hand with apparent cordiality; but Jack with a look of defiance
said, "Don Silvio, we know you; my object now is to demand, on the part
of my friend, the satisfaction which you do not deserve, but which our
indignation at your second attempt upon Don Rebiera induces us to offer;
for if you escape from him you will have to do with me.  On the whole,
Don Silvio, you may think yourself fortunate, for it is better to die by
the hands of a gentleman than by the gibbet."

Don Silvio turned deadly pale--his hand sought his stiletto in his
bosom, but it was remaining on the table; at last he replied, "Be it
so--I will meet you when and where you please, in an hour from this."

Jack mentioned the place of meeting, and then walked out of the room.
He and Gascoigne then hastened to the quarters of an officer they were
intimate with, and having provided themselves with the necessary
fire-arms, were at the spot before the time.  They waited for him till
the exact time, yet no Don Silvio made his appearance.

"He's off," observed Gascoigne; "the villain has escaped us."

Half an hour over the time had passed, and still there was no sign of
Gascoigne's antagonist, but one of the Governor's aides-de-camp was seen
walking up to them.

"Here's Atkins," observed Jack; "that's unlucky, but he won't
interfere."

"Gentlemen," said Atkins, taking off his hat with much solemnity, "the
Governor particularly wishes to speak to you both."

"We can't come just now--we'll be there in half an hour."

"You must be there in three minutes, both of you.  Excuse me, my orders
are positive--and to see them duly executed I have a corporal and a file
of men behind that wall--of course, if you walk with me quietly there
will be no occasion to send for their assistance."

"This is confounded tyranny," cried Jack.  "Well may they call him King
Tom."

"Yes," replied Atkins, "and he governs here _in rey absoluto_--so come
along."

Jack and Gascoigne, having no choice, walked up to the government-house,
where they found Sir Thomas in the veranda, which commanded a view of
the harbour and offing.

"Come here, young gentlemen," said the Governor, in a severe tone; "do
you see that vessel about two miles clear of the port?  Don Silvio is in
it, going back to Sicily under a guard.  And now remember what I say as
a maxim through life.  Fight with gentlemen, if you must fight, but not
with villains and murderers.  By _consenting_ to fight with a
_blackguard_, you as much disparage your cloth and compromise your own
characters, as by refusing to give satisfaction to a _gentleman_.
There, go away, for I'm angry with you, and don't let me see you till
dinner-time."



CHAPTER TWENTY NINE.

IN WHICH OUR HERO SEES A LITTLE MORE SERVICE, AND IS BETTER EMPLOYED
THAN IN FIGHTING DON SILVIO.

But before they met the Governor at his table, a sloop-of-war arrived
from the fleet with despatches from the Commander-in-Chief.  Those to
Captain Wilson required him to make all possible haste in fitting, and
then to proceed and cruise off Corsica, to fall in with a Russian
frigate which was on that coast; if not there, to obtain intelligence,
and to follow her wherever she might be.

All was now bustle and activity on board of the _Aurora_.  Captain
Wilson, with our hero and Gascoigne, quitted the Governor's house and
repaired on board, where they remained day and night.  On the third day
the _Aurora_ was complete and ready for sea, and about noon sailed out
of Valette harbour.

In a week the _Aurora_ had gained the coast of Corsica, and there was no
need of sending look-out men to the mast-head, for one of the officers
or midshipmen was there from daylight to dark.  She ran up the coast to
the northward without seeing the object of her pursuit, or obtaining any
intelligence.

Calms and light airs detained them for a few days, when a northerly
breeze enabled them to run down the eastern side of the island.  It was
on the eighteenth day after they had quitted Malta that a large vessel
was seen ahead about eighteen miles off.  The men were then at
breakfast.

"A frigate, Captain Wilson, I'm sure of it," said Mr Hawkins the
chaplain, whose anxiety induced him to go to the mast-head.

"How is she steering?"

"The same way as we are."

The _Aurora_ was under all possible sail, and when the hands were piped
to dinner, it was thought that they had neared the chase about two
miles.

"This will be a long chase; a stern chase always is," observed Martin to
Gascoigne.

"Yes, I'm afraid so--but I'm more afraid of her escaping."

"That's not unlikely either," replied the mate.

"You are one of Job's Comforters, Martin," replied Gascoigne.

"Then I'm not so often disappointed," replied the mate.  "There are two
points to be ascertained; the first is, whether we shall come up with
the vessel or lose her--the next is, if we do come up with her, whether
she is the vessel we are looking for."

"You seem very indifferent about it."

"Indeed I am not: I am the oldest passed midshipman in the ship, and the
taking of the frigate will, if I live, give me my promotion, and if I'm
killed, I shan't want it.  But I've been so often disappointed, that I
now make sure of nothing until I have it."

"Well, for your sake, Martin, I will still hope that the vessel is the
one we seek, that we shall not be killed, and that you will gain your
promotion."

"I thank you, Easy--I wish I was one that dared hope as you do."

Poor Martin! he had long felt how bitter it was to meet disappointment
upon disappointment.  How true it is that hope deferred maketh the heart
sick! and his anticipations of early days, the buoyant calculations of
youth, had been one by one crushed, and now, having served his time
nearly three times over, the reaction had become too painful, and, as he
truly said, he dared not hope: still his temper was not soured but
chastened.

"She has hauled her wind, sir," hailed the second-lieutenant from the
topmast cross-trees.

"What think you of that, Martin?" observed Jack.

"Either that she is an English frigate, or that she is a vessel
commanded by a very brave fellow, and well manned."

It was sunset before the _Aurora_ had arrived within two miles of the
vessel; the private signal had been thrown out, but had not been
answered, either because it was too dark to make out the colours of the
flags, or that these were unknown to an enemy.  The stranger had hoisted
the English colours, but that was no satisfactory proof of her being a
friend; and just before dark she had put her head towards the _Aurora_,
who had now come stem down to her.  The ship's company of the _Aurora_
were all at their quarters, as a few minutes would now decide whether
they had to deal with a friend or a foe.

There is no situation perhaps more difficult, and demanding so much
caution, as the occasional meeting with a doubtful ship.  On the one
hand, it being necessary to be fully prepared and not allow the enemy
the advantage which may be derived from your inaction; and on the other,
the necessity of prudence, that you may not assault your friends and
countrymen.  Captain Wilson had hoisted the private night-signal, but
here again it was difficult, from his sails intervening, for the other
ship to make it out.  Before the two frigates were within three cables
length of each other, Captain Wilson, determined that there should be no
mistake from any want of precaution on his part, hauled up his courses
and brailed up his driver that the night-signal might be clearly seen.

Lights were seen abaft on the quarter-deck of the other vessel, as if
they were about to answer, but she continued to keep the _Aurora_ to
leeward at about half a cable's length, and as the foremost guns of each
vessel were abreast of each other, hailed in English--

"Ship ahoy; what ship's that?"

"His Majesty's ship _Aurora_," replied Captain Wilson, who stood on the
hammocks.  "What ship's that?"

By this time the other frigate had passed half her length clear of the
beam of the _Aurora_, and at the same time that a pretended reply of
"His Majesty's ship--" was heard, a broadside from her guns, which had
been trained aft on purpose, was poured into the _Aurora_ and, at so
short a distance, doing considerable execution.  The crew of the
_Aurora_, hearing the hailing in English, and the vessel passing them
apparently without firing, had imagined that she had been one of their
own cruisers.  The captains of the guns had dropped their lanyards in
disappointment, and the silence which had been maintained as the two
vessels met was just breaking up in various ways of lamentation at their
bad luck, when the broadside was poured in, thundering in their ears,
and the ripping and tearing of the beams and planks astonished their
senses.  Many were carried down below, but it was difficult to say
whether indignation at the enemy's ruse, or satisfaction at discovering
that they were not called to quarters in vain, most predominated.  At
all events it was answered by three voluntary cheers, which drowned the
cries of those who were being assisted to the cockpit.

"Man the larboard-guns and about ship!" cried Captain Wilson, leaping
off the hammocks.  "Look out, my lads, and rake her in stays!  We'll pay
him off for that foul play before we've done with him.  Look out, my
lads, and take good aim as she pays round."

The _Aurora_ was put about, and her broadside poured into the stern of
the Russian frigate--for such she was.  It was almost dark, but the
enemy, who appeared as anxious as the _Aurora_ to come to action, hauled
up her courses to await her coming up.  In five minutes the two vessels
were alongside exchanging murderous broadsides at little more than
pistol-shot--running slowly in for the land, than not more than five
miles distant.  The skin-clad mountaineers of Corsica were aroused by
the furious cannonading, watching the incessant flashes of the guns, and
listening to their reverberating roar.

After half an hour's fierce combat, during which the fire of both
vessels was kept up with undiminished vigour, Captain Wilson went down
on the main deck, and himself separately pointed each gun after it was
loaded; those amidships being direct for the main-channels of the
enemy's ship, while those abaft the beam were gradually trained more and
more forward, and those before the beam more and more aft, so as to
throw all their shot nearly into one focus, giving directions that they
were all to be fired at once, at the word of command.  The enemy, not
aware of the cause of the delay, imagined that the fire of the _Aurora_
had slackened, and loudly cheered.  At the word given the broadside was
poured in, and, dark as it was, the effects from it were evident.  Two
of the midship ports of the antagonist were blown into one, and her
main-mast was seen to totter, and then to fall over the side.  The
_Aurora_ then set her courses, which had been hauled up, and, shooting
ahead, took up a raking position while the Russian was still hampered
with her wreck, and poured in grape and cannister from her upper deck
carronades to impede their labours on deck, while she continued her
destructive fire upon the hull of the enemy from the main-deck battery.

The moon now burst out from a low bank of clouds, and enabled them to
accomplish their work with more precision.  In a quarter of an hour the
Russian was totally dismasted, and Captain Wilson ordered half of his
remaining ship's company to repair the damages, which had been most
severe, whilst the larboard men at quarters continued the fire from the
main deck.  The enemy continued to return the fire from four guns, two
on each of her decks, which she could still make bear upon the _Aurora_;
but after some time even these ceased, either from the men having
deserted them, or from their being dismounted.  Observing that the fire
from her antagonist had ceased, the _Aurora_ also discontinued, and the
jolly-boat astern being still uninjured, the second lieutenant was
deputed to pull alongside of the frigate to ascertain if she had struck.

The beams of the bright moon silvered the rippling water as the boat
shoved off; and Captain Wilson and his officers who were still unhurt,
leant over the shattered sides of the _Aurora_, waiting for a reply:
suddenly the silence of the night was broken upon by a loud splash from
the bows of the Russian frigate, then about three cables' length
distant.

"What could that be?" cried Captain Wilson.  "Her anchor's down.  Mr
Jones, a lead over the side, and see what water we have."

Mr Jones had long been carried down below, severed in two with a round
shot--but a man leaped into the chains, and lowering down the lead,
sounded in seven fathoms.

"Then I suspect he will give us more trouble yet," observed Captain
Wilson; and so indeed it proved, for the Russian captain, in reply to
the second lieutenant, had told him in English, "that he would answer
that question with his broadside," and before the boat was dropped
astern, he had warped round with the springs on his cable, and had
recommenced his fire upon the _Aurora_.

Captain Wilson made sail upon his ship, and sailed round and round the
anchored vessel, so as to give her two broadsides to her one, and from
the slowness with which she worked at her springs upon her cables, it
was evident that she must be now very weak-handed.  Still the
pertinacity and decided courage of the Russian captain convinced Captain
Wilson that, in all probability, he would sink at his anchor before he
would haul down his colours; and not only would he lose more of the
_Aurora's_ men, but also the Russian vessel, without he took a more
decided step.  Captain Wilson, therefore, resolved to try her by the
board.  Having poured in a raking fire, he stood off for a few moments,
during which he called the officers and men on deck, and stated his
intention.  He then went about, and himself conning the _Aurora_, ran
her on board the Russian, pouring in his reserved broadside as the
vessels came into collision, and heading his men as they leaped on the
enemy's decks.

Although, as Captain Wilson had imagined, the Russian frigate had not
many men to oppose to the _Aurora's_, the deck was obstinately defended,
the voice and the arm of the Russian captain were to be heard and seen
everywhere, and his men, encouraged by him, were cut down by numbers
where they stood.

Our hero, who had the good fortune to be still unhurt, was for a little
while close to Captain Wilson when he boarded, and was about to oppose
his unequal force against that of the Russian captain, when he was
pulled back by the collar by Mr Hawkins, the chaplain, who rushed in
advance with a sabre in his hand.  The opponents were well matched, and
it may be said that, with little interruption, a hand-to-hand conflict
ensued, for the moon lighted up the scene of carnage, and they were well
able to distinguish each other's faces.  At last, the chaplain's sword
broke; he rushed in, drove the hilt into his antagonist's face, closed
with him, and they both fell down the hatchway together.  After this,
the deck was gained, or rather cleared, by the crew of the _Aurora_, for
few could be said to have resisted, and in a minute or two the frigate
was in their possession.  The chaplain and the Russian captain were
hoisted up, still clinging to each other, both senseless from the fall,
but neither of them dead; although bleeding from several wounds.

As soon as the main-deck had been cleared, Captain Wilson ordered the
hatches to be put on, and left a party on board while he hastened to
attend to the condition of his own ship and ship's company.

It was daylight before anything like order had been restored to the
decks of the _Aurora_; the water was still smooth, and instead of
letting go her own anchor, she had hung on with a hawser to the prize,
but her sails had been furled, her decks cleared, guns secured, and the
buckets were dashing away the blood from her planks and the carriages of
the guns, when the sun rose and shone upon them.  The numerous wounded
had, by this time, been put into their hammocks, although there were
still one or two cases of amputation to be performed.

The carpenter had repaired all shot-holes under or too near to the
water-line, and then had proceeded to sound the well of the prize; but
although her upper works had been dreadfully shattered, there was no
reason to suppose that she had received any serious injury below, and
therefore the hatches still remained on, although a few hands were put
to the pumps to try if she made any water.  It was not until the
_Aurora_ presented a more cheerful appearance that Captain Wilson went
over to the other ship, whose deck, now that the light of heaven enabled
them to witness all the horrors even to minuteness, presented a shocking
spectacle of blood and carnage.  Body after body was thrown over; the
wounded were supplied with water and such assistance as could be
rendered until the surgeons could attend them; the hatches were then
taken off, and the remainder of her crew ordered on deck; about two
hundred obeyed the summons, but the lower deck was as crowded with
killed and wounded as was the upper.  For the present the prisoners were
handed over down into the forehold of the _Aurora_, which had been
prepared for their reception, and the work of separation of the dead
from the living then underwent.  After this such repairs as were
immediately necessary were made, and a portion of the _Aurora's_ crew,
under the orders of the second lieutenant, were sent on board to take
charge of her.  It was not till the evening of the day after this
night-conflict that the _Aurora_ was in a situation to make sail.  All
hands were then sent on board of the _Trident_, for such was the name of
the Russian frigate, to fit her out as soon as possible.  Before
morning--for there was no relaxation from their fatigue, nor was there
any wish for it--all was completed, and the two frigates, although in a
shattered condition, were prepared to meet any common conflict with the
elements.  The _Aurora_ made sail with the _Trident_ in tow; the
hammocks were allowed to be taken down, and the watch below permitted to
repose.

In this murderous conflict the _Trident_ had more than two hundred men
killed and wounded.  The _Aurora's_ loss had not been so great, but
still it was severe, having lost sixty-five men and officers.  Among the
fallen there were Mr Jones the master, the third lieutenant Mr
Awkwright, and two midshipmen killed.  Mr Pottyfar, the first
lieutenant, severely wounded at the commencement of the action.  Martin,
the master's mate, and Gascoigne, the first mortally, and the second
badly, wounded.  Our hero had also received a slight cutlass wound,
which obliged him to wear his arm, for a short time, in a sling.

Among the ship's company who were wounded was Mesty: he had been hurt
with a splinter before the _Trident_ was taken by the board, but had
remained on deck, and had followed our hero, watching over him and
protecting him as a father.  He had done even more, for he had with Jack
thrown himself before Captain Wilson, at a time that he had received
such a blow with the flat of a sword as to stun him and bring him down
on his knee.  And Jack had taken good care that Captain Wilson should
not be ignorant, as he really would have been, of this timely service on
the part of Mesty, who certainly, although with a great deal of
_sang-froid_ in his composition when in repose, was a fiend incarnate
when his blood was up.

"But you must have been with Mesty," observed Captain Wilson, "when he
did me the service."

"I was with him, sir," replied Jack, with great modesty, "but was of
very little service."

"How is your friend Gascoigne this evening?"

"Oh, not very bad, sir--he wants a glass of grog."

"And Mr Martin?"

Jack shook his head.

"Why, the surgeon thinks he will do well."

"Yes, sir, and so I told Martin; but he said that it was very well to
give him hope--but that he thought otherwise."

"You must manage him, Mr Easy; tell him that he is sure of his
promotion."

"I have, sir, but he won't believe it.  He never will believe it till he
has his commission signed.  I really think that an acting order would do
more than the doctor can."

"Well, Mr Easy, he shall have one to-morrow morning.  Have you seen Mr
Pottyfar?  He, I am afraid, is very bad."

"Very bad, sir; and, they say, is worse every day, and yet his wound is
healthy, and ought to be doing well."

Such was the conversation between Jack and his captain, as they sat at
breakfast on the third morning after the action.

The next day Easy took down an acting order for Martin, and put it into
his hands.  The mate read it over as he lay bandaged in his hammock.

"It's only an acting order, Jack," said he; "it may not be confirmed."

Jack swore, by all the articles of war, that it would be; but Martin
replied that he was sure it never would.

"No, no," said the mate, "I knew very well that I never should be made.
If it is not confirmed, I may live; but if it is, I am sure to die."

Every one that went to Martin's hammock wished him joy of his promotion;
but six days after the action poor Martin's remains were consigned to
the deep.

The next person who followed him was Mr Pottyfar, the first lieutenant,
who had contrived, wounded as he was, to reach a packet of the universal
medicine, and had taken so many bottles before he was found out, that he
was one morning found dead in his bed, with more than two dozen empty
phials under his pillow, and by the side of his mattress.  He was not
buried with his hands in his pockets, but when sewed up in his hammock,
they were, at all events, laid in the right position.



CHAPTER THIRTY.

MODERN PHILANTHROPY WHICH, AS USUAL, IS THE CAUSE OF MUCH TROUBLE AND
VEXATION.

In three weeks the _Aurora_, with her prize in tow, arrived at Malta.
The wounded were sent to the hospital, and the gallant Russian captain
recovered from his wounds about the same time as Mr Hawkins, the
chaplain.

Jack, who constantly called to see the chaplain, had a great deal to do
to console him.  He would shake his hands as he lay in his bed,
exclaiming against himself.  "Oh," Would he say, "the spirit is willing,
but the flesh is weak.  That I, a man of God, as they term me, who ought
to have been down with the surgeons, whispering comfort to the
desponding, should have gone on deck (but I could not help it), and have
mixed in such a scene of slaughter!  What will become of me?"

Jack attempted to console him by pointing out that not only chaplains
but bishops have been known to fight in armour from time immemorial.
But Mr Hawkins's recovery was long doubtful, from the agitation of his
mind.  When he was able to walk, Jack introduced to him the Russian
captain, who was also just out of his bed.

"I am most happy to embrace so gallant an officer," said the Russian,
who recognised his antagonist, throwing his arms round the chaplain, and
giving him a kiss on both cheeks.  "What is his rank?" continued he,
addressing himself to Jack, who replied, very quietly, "that he was the
ship's padre."

"The padre!" replied the captain, with surprise, as Hawkins turned away
with confusion.  "The padre--par exemple!  Well, I always had a great
respect for the church.  Pray sir," said he, turning to Easy, "do your
padres always head your boarders?"

"Always, sir," replied Jack; "it's a rule of the service--and the duty
of a padre to show the men the way to heaven.  It's our ninety-ninth
article of war."

"You are a fighting nation," replied the Russian, bowing to Hawkins, and
continuing his walk, not exactly pleased that he had been floored by a
parson.

Mr Hawkins continued very disconsolate for some time; he then invalided
and applied himself to his duties on shore, where he would not be
exposed to such temptations from his former habits.

As the _Aurora_, when she was last at Malta, had nearly exhausted the
dockyard for her repairs, she was even longer fitting out this time,
during which Captain Wilson's despatches had been received by the
admiral, and had been acknowledged by a brig sent to Malta.  The
admiral, in reply, after complimenting him upon his gallantry and
success, desired that, as soon as he was ready, he should proceed to
Palermo with communications of importance to the authorities, and having
remained there for an answer, was again to return to Malta to pick up
such of his men as might be fit to leave the hospital, and then join the
Toulon fleet.  This intelligence was soon known to our hero, who was in
ecstasies at the idea of again seeing Agnes and her brothers.  Once more
the _Aurora_ sailed away from the high-crowned rocks of Valette, and
with a fine breeze dashed through the deep blue waves.

But towards the evening the breeze increased, and they were under
double-reefed topsails.  On the second day they made the coast of
Sicily, not far from where Easy and Gascoigne had been driven on shore;
the weather was then more moderate, and the sea had, to a great degree,
subsided.  They therefore stood in close to the coast, as they had not a
leading wind to Palermo.  As they stood in, the glasses, as usual, were
directed to land; observing the villas with which the hills and valleys
were studded, with their white fronts embowered in orange groves.

"What is that, Gascoigne," said Easy, "under that precipice?--it looks
like a vessel."

Gascoigne turned his glass in the direction--"Yes, it is a vessel on the
rocks: by her prow she looks like a galley."

"It is a galley, sir--one of the row galleys--I can make out her bank of
oars," observed the signal-man.

This was reported to Captain Wilson, who also examined her.

"She is on the rocks, certainly," observed he; "and I think I see people
on board.  Keep her away a point, quarter-master."

The _Aurora_ was now steered right for the vessel, and in the course of
an hour was not more than a mile from her.  Their suppositions were
correct--it was one of the Sicilian government galleys bilged on the
rocks, and they now perceived that there were people on board of her,
making signals with their shirts and pieces of linen.

"They must be the galley-slaves; for I perceive that they do not one of
them change their positions: the galley must have been abandoned by the
officers and seamen, and the slaves left to perish."

"That's very hard," observed Jack to Gascoigne; "they were condemned to
the galleys, but not to death."

"They will not have much mercy from the waves," replied Gascoigne; "they
will all be in kingdom come to-morrow morning, if the breeze comes more
on the land.  We have already come up two points this forenoon."

Although Captain Wilson did not join in this conversation, which he
overheard as he stood on the forecastle gun, with his glass over the
hammocks, it appears he was of the same opinion; but he demurred: he had
to choose between allowing so many of his fellow-creatures to perish
miserably, or to let loose upon society a set of miscreants, who would
again enter a course of crime until they were recaptured, and by so
doing probably displease the Sicilian authorities.  After some little
reflection he resolved that he would take his chance of the latter.  The
_Aurora_ was hove-to in stays, and the two cutters ordered to be lowered
down, and the boat's crew to be armed.

"Mr Easy, do you take one cutter and the armourers; pull on board of
the galley, release those people, and land them in small divisions.  Mr
Gascoigne, you will take the other to assist Mr Easy, and when he lands
them in his boat, you will pull by his side ready to act, in case of any
hostile attempt on the part of the scoundrels; for we must not expect
gratitude: of course, land them at the nearest safe spot for
debarkation."

In pursuance of these orders, our two midshipmen pulled away to the
vessel.  They found her fixed hard upon the rocks, which had pierced her
slight timbers, and, as they had supposed, the respectable part of her
crew, with the commander, had taken to the boats, leaving the
galley-slaves to their fate.  She pulled fifty oars, but had only
thirty-six manned.  These oars were forty feet long, and ran in from the
thole-pin with a loom six feet long, each manned by four slaves, who
were chained to their seat before it, by a running chain made fast by a
padlock in amidships.  A plank, of two feet wide, ran fore and aft the
vessel between the two banks of oars, for the boatswain to apply the
lash to those who did not sufficiently exert themselves.

"Viva los Inglesos," cried the galley-slaves, as Easy climbed up over
the quarter of the vessel.

"I say, Ned, did you ever see such a precious set of villains?" observed
Easy, as he surveyed the faces of the men who were chained.

"No," replied Gascoigne; "and I think if the captain had seen them as we
have, that he would have left them where they were."

"I don't know--but however, our orders are positive.  Armourer, knock
off all the padlocks, beginning aft; when we have a cargo we will land
them.  How many are there?--twelve dozen; twelve dozen villains to let
loose upon society.  I have a great mind to go on board again and report
my opinion to the captain--one hundred and forty-four villains, who all
deserve hanging--for drowning is too good for them."

"Our orders are to liberate them, Jack."

"Yes; but I should like to argue this point with Captain Wilson."

"They'll send after them fast enough, Jack, and they'll all be in limbo
again before long," replied Gascoigne.

"Well, I suppose we must obey orders; but it goes against my conscience
to save such villainous-looking rascals.  Armourer, hammer away."

The armourer, who, with the seamen, appeared very much of Jack's
opinion, and had not commenced his work, now struck off the padlocks,
one by one, with his sledge-hammer.  As soon as they were released the
slaves were ordered into the cutter, and when it was sufficiently loaded
Jack shoved off, followed by Gascoigne as guard, and landed them at the
point about a cable's length distant.  It required six trips before they
were all landed: the last cargo were on shore, and Easy was desiring the
men to shove off, when one of the galleriens turned round, and cried out
to Jack in a mocking tone, "Addio signor, a reveder la."  Jack started,
stared, and in the squalid, naked wretch who addressed him, he
recognised Don Silvio!

"I will acquaint Don Rebiera of your arrival, signor," said the
miscreant, springing up the rocks, and mixing with the rest, who now
commenced hooting and laughing at their preservers.

"Ned," observed Easy to Gascoigne, "we have let that rascal loose."

"More's the pity," replied Gascoigne; "but we have only obeyed orders."

"It can't be helped, but I've a notion there will be some mischief out
of this."

"We obeyed orders," replied Gascoigne.

"We've let the rascals loose not ten miles from Don Rebiera's."

"Obeyed orders, Jack."

"With a whole gang to back him, if he goes there."

"Orders, Jack."

"Agnes at his mercy."

"Captain's orders, Jack."

"I shall argue this point when I go on board," replied Jack.

"Too late, Jack."

"Yes," replied Easy, sinking down on the stern sheets with a look of
despair.

"Give way, my lads, give way."

Jack returned on board and reported what he had done; also that Don
Silvio was among those liberated; and he ventured to mention his fears
of what might take place from their contiguity to the house of Don
Rebiera.  Captain Wilson bit his lips: he felt that his philanthropy had
induced him to act without his usual prudence.

"I have done a rash thing, Mr Easy, I am afraid.  I should have taken
them all on board and delivered them up to the authorities.  I wish I
had thought of that before.  We must get to Palermo as fast as we can,
and have the troops sent after these miscreants.  Hands 'bout ship, fill
the main-yard."

The wind had veered round, and the _Aurora_ was now able to lay up clear
of the island of Maritimo.  The next morning she anchored in Palermo
Roads--gave immediate notice to the authorities, who, wishing Captain
Wilson's philanthropy at the devil, immediately dispatched a large body
of troops in quest of the liberated malefactors.  Captain Wilson,
feeling for Jack's anxiety about his friends, called him over to him on
deck, and gave him and Gascoigne permission to go on shore.

"Will you allow me to take Mesty with me, sir, if you please?" said
Jack.

"Yes, Mr Easy: but recollect that, even with Mesty, you are no match
for one hundred and fifty men, so be prudent.  I send, you to relieve
your anxiety, not to run into danger."

"Of course, sir," replied Jack, touching his hat, and walking away
quietly till he came to the hatch-way, when he darted down like a shot,
and was immediately occupied with his preparations.

In half an hour our two midshipmen, with Mesty, had landed, and
proceeded to the inn where they had put up before: they were armed up to
the teeth.  Their first inquiries were for Don Philip and his brother.

"Both on leave of absence," replied the landlord, "and staying with Don
Rebiera."

"That's some comfort," thought Jack.  "Now we must get horses as fast as
we can.--Mesty, can you ride?"

"By all de power can I ride, Massa Easy; suppose you ride Kentucky
horse, you ride anyting."

In half an hour four horses and a guide were procured, and at eight
o'clock in the morning the party set off in the direction of Don
Rebiera's country-seat.

They had not ridden more than six miles when they came up with one of
the detachments sent out in pursuit of the liberated criminals.  Our
hero recognised the commanding officer as an old acquaintance, and
imparting to him the release of Don Silvio, and his fears upon Don
Rebiera's account, begged him to direct his attention that way.

"Corpo di Bacco--you are right, Signor Mid," replied the officer, "but
Don Philip is there, and his brother too, I believe.  I will be there by
ten o'clock to-morrow morning; we will march almost the whole night."

"They have no arms," observed Easy.

"No, but they will soon get them: they will go to some small town in a
body, plunder it, and then seek the protection of the mountains.  Your
captain has given us a pretty job."

Jack exchanged a few more words, and then, excusing himself on account
of his haste, put the spurs to his horse and regained his own party, who
now proceeded at a rapid pace.

"O Signor!" said the guide, "we shall kill the horses."

"I'll pay for them," said Jack.

"Yes, but we shall kill them before we get there, Jack," replied
Gascoigne, "and have to walk the rest of the way."

"Very true, Ned; let's pull up, and give them their wind."

"By de holy poker, Massa Easy, but my shirt stick to my ribs," cried
Mesty, whose black face was hung with dewdrops from their rapid course.

"Never mind, Mesty."

It was about five o'clock in the afternoon when they arrived at the seat
of Don Rebiera.  Jack threw himself off his jaded steed, and hastened
into the house, followed by Gascoigne.  They found the whole family
collected in the large sitting-room, quite ignorant of any danger
threatening them, and equally astonished and pleased at the arrival of
their old friends.  Jack flew to Agnes, who screamed when she saw him,
and felt so giddy afterwards that he was obliged to support her.  Having
seated her again, he was kindly greeted by the old people and the two
young officers.  After a few minutes dedicated to mutual inquiries, our
hero stated the cause of their expeditious arrival.

"Don Silvio with one hundred and fifty galleriens, let loose on the
coast yesterday afternoon!" exclaimed Don Rebiera; "you are right, I
only wonder they were not here last night.  But I expect Pedro from the
town; he has gone down with a load of wine: he will bring us
intelligence."

"At all events, we must be prepared," said Don Philip, "the troops you
say will be here to-morrow morning."

"Holy Virgin!" exclaimed the ladies in a breath.

"How many can we muster?" said Gascoigne.

"We will have five men here, or we shall have by the evening," replied
Don Philip--"all, I think, good men--my father, my brother and myself."

"We are three--four with the guide, whom I know nothing about."

"Twelve in all--not one too many; but I think that now we are prepared,
if they attack, we can hold out till the morning."

"Had we not better send the ladies away?" said Jack.

"Who is to escort them?" replied Don Philip; "we shall only weaken our
force: besides, they may fall into the miscreants' hands."

"Shall we all leave the house together? they can but plunder it,"
observed Don Rebiera.

"Still we may be intercepted by them, and our whole force will be
nothing against so many," observed Don Philip, "if we are without
defence, whereas in the house we shall have an advantage."

"E vero," replied Don Rebiera, thoughtfully; "then let us prepare, for
depend upon it Don Silvio will not lose such an opportunity to wreak his
vengeance.  He will be here to-night: I only wonder he has not been here
with his companions before.  However, Pedro will arrive in two hours."

"We must now see what means we have of defence," said Philip.  "Come,
brother--will you come, sir?"



CHAPTER THIRTY ONE.

A REGULAR SET-TO, IN WHICH THE PARTIES BEATEN ARE NOT KNOCKED DOWN, BUT
RISE HIGHER AND HIGHER AT EACH DISCOMFITURE--NOTHING BUT THE TROOPS
COULD HAVE PREVENTED THEM FROM GOING UP TO HEAVEN.

Don Rebiera and his two sons quitted the room, Gascoigne entered into
conversation with the senora, while Easy took this opportunity of
addressing Agnes.  He had been too much occupied with the consultation
to pay her much attention before.  He had spoken, with his eyes fixed
upon her, and had been surprised at the improvement which had taken
place in less than a year.  He now went to her, and asked her, in a low
voice, "whether she had received his letter?"

"Oh, yes!" replied she, colouring.

"And were you angry with what I said, Agnes?" in a low tone.

"No," replied she, casting her eyes down on the floor.

"I repeat now what I said, Agnes--I have never forgotten you."

"But--"

"But what?"

"Father Thomaso."

"What of him?"

"He never will--"

"Will what?"

"You are a heretic," he says.

"Tell him to mind his own business."

"He has great influence with my father and mother."

"Your brothers are on our side."

"I know that, but there will be great difficulty.  Our religion is not
the same.  He must talk to you--he will convert you."

"We'll argue that point, Agnes.  I will convert him if he has common
sense; if not, it's no use arguing with him.  Where is he?"

"He will soon be at home."

"Tell me, Agnes, if you had your own will, would you marry me?"

"I don't know; I have never seen any one I liked so well."

"Is that all?"

"Is it not enough for a maiden to say?" replied Agnes, raising her eyes,
and looking reproachfully.  "Signor, let me go, here comes my father."

Notwithstanding, Jack cast his eyes to the window where Gascoigne and
the senora were in converse, and perceiving that the old lady's back was
turned, he pressed Agnes to his bosom before he released her.  The
gentlemen then returned with all the fire-arms and destructive weapons
they could collect.

"We have enough," observed Don Philip, "to arm all the people we have
with us."

"And we are all well armed," replied Jack, who had left Agnes standing
alone.  "What now are your plans?"

"Those we must now consult about.  It appears"--but at this moment the
conversation was interrupted by the sudden entrance of Pedro, who had
been despatched to the town with the load of wine.  He rushed in,
flurried and heated, with his red cap in his hand.

"How now, Pedro, back so early!"

"O signor!" exclaimed the man--"they have taken the cart and the wine,
and have drawn it away up to the mountains."

"Who?" inquired Don Rebiera.

"The galley-slaves who have been let loose--and by the body of our
blessed saint, they have done pretty mischief--they have broken into the
houses, robbed everything--murdered many--clothed themselves with the
best--collected all the arms, provisions, and wine they could lay their
hands on, and have marched away into the mountains.  This took place
last night.  As I was coming down within a mile of the town, they met me
with my loaded cart, and they turned the bullocks round and drove them
away along with the rest.  By the blessed Virgin! but they are stained
with blood, but not altogether of men, for they have cut up some of the
oxen.  I heard this from one of the herdsmen, but he too fled and could
not tell me more.  But, signor, I heard them mention your name."

"I have no doubt of it," replied Don Rebiera.  "As for the wine, I only
hope they will drink too much of it to-night.  But, Pedro, they will be
here, and we must defend ourselves--so call the men together; I must
speak to them."

"We shall never see the bullocks again," observed Pedro mournfully.

"No; but we shall never see one another again, if we do not take care.
I have information they come here to-night."

"Holy Saint Francis! and they say there are a thousand of them."

"Not quite so many, to my knowledge," observed Jack.

"They told me that a great many were killed in their attack upon the
town, before they mastered it."

"So much the better.  Go now, Pedro, drink a cup of wine, and then call
the other men."

The house was barricaded as well as circumstances would permit; the
first story was also made a fortress by loading the landing-place with
armoires and chests of drawers.  The upper story, or attic, if it might
be so called, was defended in the same way, that they might retreat from
one to the other if the doors were forced.

It was eight o'clock in the evening before all was ready, and they were
still occupied with the last defence, under the superintendence of
Mesty, who showed himself an able engineer, when they heard the sound of
an approaching multitude.  They looked out of one of the windows and
perceived the house surrounded by the galley-slaves, in number,
apparently, about a hundred.  They were all dressed in a most fantastic
manner with whatever they could pick up: some had fire-arms, but the
most of them were supplied with only swords or knives.  With them came
also their cortege of plunder: carts of various descriptions, loaded
with provisions of all sorts, and wine; women lashed down with ropes,
sails from the vessels and boats to supply them with covering in the
mountains, hay and straw and mattresses.  Their plunder appeared to be
well chosen for their exigencies.  To the carts were tied a variety of
cattle, intended to accompany them to their retreat.  They all appeared
to be under a leader, who was issuing directions--that leader was soon
recognised by those in the house to be Don Silvio.

"Massa Easy, you show me dat man?" said Mesty, when he heard the
conversation between Easy and the Rebieras; "only let me know him."

"Do you see him there, Mesty, walking down in front of those men? he has
a musket in his hand, a jacket with silver buttons, and white trousers."

"Yes, Massa Easy, me see him well--let me look little more--dat enough."

The galley slaves appeared to be very anxious to surround the house that
no one should escape, and Don Silvio was arranging the men.

"Ned," said Jack, "let us show him that we are here.  He said that he
would acquaint Don Rebiera with our arrival--let us prove to him that he
is too late."

"It would not be a bad plan," replied Gascoigne; "if it were possible
that these fellows had any gratitude among them, some of them might
relent at the idea of attacking those who saved them."

"Not a bit; but it will prove to them that there are more in the house
than they think for; and we can frighten some of them by telling them
that the soldiers are near at hand."

Jack immediately threw up the casement, and called out in a loud voice,
"Don Silvio! galley-slave!  Don Silvio!"

The party hailed turned round, and beheld Jack, Gascoigne, and Mesty,
standing at the window of the upper floor.

"We have saved you the trouble of announcing us," called out Gascoigne.
"We are here to receive you."

"And in three hours the troops will be here, so you must be quick, Don
Silvio," continued Jack.

"_A reveder la_," continued Gascoigne, letting fly his pistol at Don
Silvio.

The window was then immediately closed.  The appearance of our heroes,
and their communication of the speedy arrival of the troops, was not
without effect.  The criminals trembled at the idea; Don Silvio was mad
with rage--he pointed out to the men the necessity of immediate attack--
the improbability of the troops arriving so soon, and the wealth which
he expected was locked up by Don Rebiera in his mansion.  This rallied
them, and they advanced to the doors, which they attempted to force
without success, losing several men by the occasional fire from those
within the house.  Finding their efforts, after half an hour's repeated
attempts, to be useless, they retreated, and then bringing up a long
piece of timber, which required sixty men to carry it, they ran with it
against the door, and the weight and impetus of the timber drove it off
its hinges, and an entrance was obtained.  By this time it was dark, the
lower story had been abandoned, but the barricade at the head of the
stairs opposed their progress.  Convenient loop-holes had been prepared
by the defenders, who now opened a smart fire upon the assailants, the
latter having no means of returning it effectually, had they had
ammunition for their muskets, which fortunately they had not been able
to procure.  The combat now became fierce, and the galley-slaves were
several times repulsed with great loss during a contest of two hours;
but, encouraged by Don Silvio, and refreshed by repeated draughts of
wine, they continued by degrees removing the barriers opposed to them.

"We shall have to retreat!" exclaimed Don Rebiera; "very soon they will
have torn down all.  What do you think, Signor Easy?"

"Hold this as long as we can.  How are we off for ammunition?"

"Plenty as yet--plenty to last for six hours, I think."

"What do you say, Mesty?"

"By holy St. Patrig--I say hold out here--they got no fire-arms--and we
ab um at arm-length."

This decision was the occasion of the first defence being held for two
hours more, an occasional relief being afforded by the retreat of the
convicts to the covered carts.

At last, it was evident that the barricade was no longer tenable, for
the heavy pieces of furniture they had heaped up to oppose entrance were
completely hammered to fragments by poles brought up by the assailants,
and used as battering-rams.  The retreat was sounded; they all hastened
to the other story, where the ladies were already placed, and the
galley-slaves were soon in possession of the first floor--exasperated by
the defence, mad with wine and victory, but finding nothing.

Again was the attack made upon the second landing, but, as the stairs
were now narrower, and their defences stronger in proportion, they for a
long while gained no advantage.  On the contrary, many of their men were
wounded and taken down below.

The darkness of the night prevented both parties from seeing distinctly,
which was rather in favour of the assailants.  Many climbed over the
fortress of piled-up furniture, and were killed as soon as they appeared
on the other side, and, at last, the only ammunition used was against
those who made this rash attempt.  For four long hours did this assault
and defence continue, until daylight came, and then the plan of assault
was altered: they again brought up the poles, hammered the pieces of
furniture into fragments, and gained ground.  The defenders were worn
out with fatigue, but flinched not; they knew that their lives, and the
lives of those dearest to them, were at stake, and they never relaxed
their exertions; still the criminals, with Silvio at their head,
progressed, the distance between the parties gradually decreased, and
there was but one massive chest of drawers now defending the
landing-place, and over which there was a constant succession of blows
from long poles and cutlasses, returned with the bullets from their
pistols.

"We must now fight for our lives," exclaimed Gascoigne to Easy, "for
what else can we do?"

"Do?--get on the roof and fight there, then," replied Jack.

"By-the-bye, that's well thought of, Jack," said Gascoigne.  "Mesty, up
and see if there is any place we can retreat to in case of need."

Mesty hastened to obey, and soon returned with a report that there was a
trap-door leading into the loft under the roof, and that they could draw
the ladder up after them.

"Then we may laugh at them," cried Jack.  "Mesty, stay here while I and
Gascoigne assist the ladies up," explaining to the Rebieras and to their
domestics why they went.

Easy and Gascoigne hastened to the signora and Agnes, conducted them up
the ladder into the loft, and requested them to have no fear; they then
returned to the defences on the stairs, and joined their companions.
They found them hard pressed, and that there was little chance of
holding out much longer; but the stairs were narrow, and the assailants
could not bring their force against them.  But now, as the defences were
nearly destroyed, although the convicts could not reach them with their
knives, they brought up a large supply of heavy stones, which they threw
with great force and execution.  Two of Don Rebiera's men and Don Martin
were struck down, and this new weapon proved most fatal.

"We must retreat, Jack," said Gascoigne, "the stones can do no harm
where we are going to.  What think you, Don Philip?"

"I agree with you; let those who are wounded be first carried up, and
then we will follow."

This was effected, and as soon as the wounded men were carried up the
ladder, and the arms taken up to prevent their falling into the hands of
their assailants, for they were now of little use to them, the
ammunition being exhausted, the whole body went into the large room
which contained the trap-door of the loft, and, as soon as they were up,
they drew the ladder after them.  They had hardly effected this, when
they were followed with the yells and shoutings of the galley-slaves,
who had passed the last barriers, and thought themselves sure of their
prey: but they were disappointed--they found them more secure than ever.

Nothing could exceed the rage of Don Silvio at the protracted resistance
of the party, and the security of their retreat.  To get at them was
impossible, so he determined to set fire to the room, and suffocate
them, if he could do no otherwise.  He gave his directions to his men,
who rushed down for straw, but in so doing he carelessly passed under
the trap-door, and Mesty, who had carried up with him two or three of
the stones, dashed one down on the head of Don Silvio, who fell
immediately.  He was carried away, but his orders were put in execution;
the room was filled with straw and fodder, and lighted.  The effects
were soon felt.  The trap-door had been shut, but the heat and smoke
burst through; after a time, the planks and rafters took fire, and their
situation was terrible.  A small trap-window in the roof on the side of
the house was knocked open, and gave them a temporary relief; but now
the rafters burned and crackled, and the smoke burst on them in thick
columns.  They could not see and with difficulty could breathe.
Fortunately the room below that which had been fired was but one out of
four on the attics, and, as the loft they were in spread over the whole
of the roof they were able to remove far from it.  The house was slated
with massive slate of some hundredweight each, and it was not found
possible to remove them so as to give air, although frequent attempts
were made.  Donna Rebiera sank exhausted in the arms of her husband, and
Agnes fell into those of our hero, who, enveloped in the smoke, kissed
her again and again; and she, poor girl, thinking that they must all
inevitably perish, made no scruple, in what she supposed her last
moment, of returning these proofs of her ardent attachment.

"Massa Easy, help me here--Massa Gascoigne, come here.  Now heab wid all
your might: when we get one off we get plenty."

Summoned by Mesty, Jack and Gascoigne put their shoulders to one of the
lower slates; it yielded--was disengaged, and slid down with a loud
rattling below.  The ladies were brought to it, and their heads put
outside; they soon recovered; and now that they had removed one, they
found no difficulty in removing others.  In a few minutes they were all
with their heads in the open air, but still the house was on fire below,
and they had no chance of escape.  It was while they were debating upon
this point, and consulting as to their chance of safety, that a breeze
of wind wafted the smoke that issued from the roof away from them, and
they beheld the detachment of troops making up to the house; a loud
cheer was given, and attracted the notice of the soldiers.  They
perceived Easy and his companions; the house was surrounded and entered
in an instant.

The galley-slaves, who were in the house searching for the treasure
reported by Don Silvio to be concealed, were captured or killed, and in
five minutes the troops had possession.  But how to assist those above
was the difficulty.  The room below was in flames, and burning fiercely.
There were no ladders that could reach so high, and there were no means
of getting to them.  The commandant made signs from below, as if to ask
what he was to do.

"I see no chance," observed Don Philip mournfully.  "Easy, my dear
fellow, and you, Gascoigne, I am sorry that the feuds of our family
should have brought you to such a dreadful death; but what can be done?"

"I don't know," replied Jack, "unless we could get ropes."

"You quite sure, Massa Easy, that all galley-rascals below gone?" asked
Mesty.

"Yes," replied Easy, "you may see that; look at some of them bound
there, under charge of the soldiers."

"Den, sar, I tink it high time we go too."

"So do I, Mesty; but how?"

"How? stop a little."

"Come, help me, Massa Easy; dis board (for the loft was floored) is
loose, come help, all of you."

They all went, and with united strength pulled up the board.

"Now strike like ---!--and drive down de plaster," said Mesty,
commencing the operation.

In a few minutes they had beaten an opening into one of the rooms below
not on fire, pulled up another board, and Mesty having fetched the
ladder, they all descended in safety, and, to the astonishment of the
commandant of the troops, walked out of the door of the house, those who
had been stunned with the stones having so far recovered as to require
little assistance.

The soldiers shouted as they saw them appear, supporting the females.
The commanding officer, who was an intimate friend of Don Philip, flew
to his arms.  The prisoners were carefully examined by Mesty, and Don
Silvio was not among them.  He might however, be among the dead who were
left in the house, which now began to burn furiously.  The galley-slaves
who were captured amounted in number to forty-seven.  Their dead they
could not count.  The major part of the plunder and the carts were still
where they had been drawn up.

As soon as the culprits had been secured, the attention of the troops
was directed to putting out the flames, but their attempts were
ineffectual; the mansion was burned to the bare walls, and but little of
the furniture saved; indeed, the major part of it had been destroyed in
the attack made by Don Silvio and his adherents.

Leaving directions with Pedro and his people, that the property
collected by the miscreants should be restored to the owners, Don
Rebiera ordered the horses, and with the whole party put himself under
the protection of the troops, who, as soon as they had been refreshed,
and taken some repose, bent their way back to Palermo with the
galley-slaves, bound and linked together in a long double row.

They halted when they had gone half-way, and remained for the night.
The next day, at noon, Don Rebiera and his family were once more in
their palazzo, and our two midshipmen and Mesty took their leave, and
repaired on board to make themselves a little less like
chimney-sweepers.

Captain Wilson was not out of the ship.  Jack made his report, and then
went down below, very much pleased at what had passed, especially as he
would have another long yarn for the Governor on his return to Malta.



CHAPTER THIRTY TWO.

IN WHICH OUR HERO AND GASCOIGNE OUGHT TO BE ASHAMED OF THEMSELVES, AND
DID FEEL WHAT MIGHT BE CALLED MIDSHIPMITE COMPUNCTION.

The _Aurora_ continued three weeks at Palermo, during which the most
active search had been made for the remainder of the galley-slaves, and
some few had been captured, but still Don Silvio, and a considerable
number, were at large; and it was said that they had returned to the
fastnesses in the mountains.  Our hero was constantly on shore at Don
Rebiera's house, and, after what had passed, he was now looked upon as
soon to become a member of the family.  The difference of religion was
overlooked by Don Rebiera and the relations--by all but the confessor,
Father Thomaso, who now began to agitate and fulminate into the ears of
the Donna Rebiera all the pains and penalties attending heretical
connection, such as excommunication and utter damnation.  The effects of
his remonstrances were soon visible, and Jack found that there was
constraint on the part of the old lady, tears on the part of Agnes, and
all father confessors heartily wished at the devil ten times a day on
the part of Don Philip and his brother.  At last he wormed the truth out
of Agnes, who told her tale, and wept bitterly.

"Ned, I don't much like the appearance of things," observed Jack; "I
must get rid of that Father Thomaso."

"You'll find that rather difficult," observed Gascoigne; "besides, if
you get rid of him you would have his place filled up with another."

"He has frightened that poor old woman into the dismals, and she has the
pains of purgatory on her already.  I shall go and talk to Mesty."

"How can Mesty help you?"

"I don't know, but you can't; so, for want of better advice, I'll try
the Ashantee."

Our hero went to Mesty, and laid the difficult affair open to him.

"I see," said Mesty, showing his filed teeth, "you want him skull."

"No, I don't, Mesty; but I want him out of the way."

"How dat possible, Massa Easy?--ship sail day after to-morrow.  Now
'pose I ab time, I soon manage all dat.  Stop a little."

"Confound it! but there's no stopping," replied Jack.

"Suppose, Massa Easy, you get leave go on shore--not come off again."

"That will be deserting, Mesty."

"By holy poker, I ab it--you go on shore and break your leg."

"Break my leg!--break my leave, you mean?"

"No, Massa Easy--you break your leg--den captain leave you shore, and
leave me take care of you."

"But why should I break my leg, and how am I to break my leg?"

"Only pretend break leg, Massa Easy.  Go talk Massa Don Philip, he
manage all dat.--Suppose man break his leg in seven pieces, it is not
possible to take him board."

"Seven pieces, Mesty! that's rather too many.  However, I'll think of
this."

Jack then went back and consulted Gascoigne, who approved of Mesty's
advice, and thought the scheme feasible.

"If we could only pretend that we were thrown out of a caricola, you
break your leg, a compound fracture of course--I break my arm--both left
on shore at sick quarters, with Mesty to take care of us."

"Capital indeed," replied Jack; "I really would not mind it if it really
took place; at all events we'll overturn the caricola."

"But shall we get leave the last day?"

"Yes, it's two days since I have been on shore, for I have not liked to
go to Don Rebiera's since what Agnes told me.  Besides, my clothes are
all on shore, and that will be an excuse for a few hours."

Our two midshipmen applied for leave the next morning to be off in the
afternoon.  The first lieutenant gave them permission.  They hastened to
the hotel, sent for Don Philip, and made him a party to their plan.  He
readily promised his assistance, for he had resolved that our hero
should marry his sister, and was fearful of the effect of his absence,
coupled with Friar Thomaso's influence over his mother.  He went to the
surgeon of his regiment, who immediately entered into the scheme.

Our two midshipmen got into a caricola, rattled up and down the streets,
and perceiving Captain Wilson at his window flogged the horse into a
gallop: when abreast of the barracks Jack ran the wheel against a bank,
and threw himself and Gascoigne out.  Midshipmen are never hurt by these
accidents, but fortunately for the success of the enterprise their faces
were cut and bruised.  Don Philip was standing by: he called the men to
pick up our two scamps, carried them into the barracks, and sent for the
surgeons, who undressed them, put Jack's left leg into a multitude of
splints, and did the same to Gascoigne's arm.  They were then put to
bed, their contused faces with the blood, left _in statu quo_, while Don
Philip sent an orderly, as from the commandant, to Captain Wilson, to
acquaint him that two of his officers had been thrown out of a caricola,
and were lying dangerously hurt at the barracks.

"Good heavens, it must be Mr Easy and Mr Gascoigne!" said Captain
Wilson, when the intelligence was communicated; "I saw them galloping
down the street like two madmen just now.  Coxswain, take the gig on
board and tell the surgeon to come on shore immediately, and bring him
up to me at the barracks."

Captain Wilson then put on his hat, buckled on his sword, and hastened
to ascertain the extent of the injury.  Don Philip kept out of the way,
but the captain was ushered into the room by one of the officers, where
he found, in two beds, our two midshipmen stretched out, the surgeon of
the forces and the regimental surgeon in consultation between them,
while attendants were standing by each bed with restoratives.  The
medical gentlemen saluted Captain Wilson, and looked very grave, talked
about fractures, contusions, injuries, in the most interminable manner--
hoped that Mr Easy would recover--but had doubts.  The other gentleman
might do well with care; that is, as far as his arm was concerned, but
there appeared to be a concussion of the brain.  Captain Wilson looked
at the cut and blood-smeared faces of the two young men, and waited with
anxiety the arrival of his own surgeon, who came at last, puffing with
the haste he had made, and received the report of the brothers of the
faculty.

The leg of Mr Easy fractured in two places--had been set--bone
protruding--impossible to move him.  Gascoigne, arm, compound fracture--
concussion of the brain not certain.  Now, that all this would have been
discovered to be false if the surgeon had been able to examine, is true;
but how could he not credit the surgeon of the forces and the regimental
surgeon, and how could he put the young men to fresh tortures by
removing splints and unsetting limbs?  Politeness, if nothing else,
prevented his so doing, for it would have been as much as to say that
either he did not credit their report, or that he doubted their skill.
He looked at our hero and his companion, who kept their eyes closed, and
breathed heavily with their mouths open, put on a grave face as well as
his brothers in the art, and reported to Captain Wilson.

"But when can they be moved, Mr Daly?" inquired the latter; "I cannot
wait; we must sail to-morrow, or the next day at the farthest."

The surgeon, as in duty bound, put the question to the others, who
replied that there would be great risk in removing before the fever,
which might be expected the next day, and which might last ten days; but
that Captain Wilson had better not think of removing them, as they
should have every care and attention where they were and could rejoin
the ship at Malta.  Mr Daly, the surgeon, agreed that this would be the
most prudent step, and Captain Wilson then gave his consent.

That being settled, he walked up to the bed of Gascoigne, and spoke to
him; but Gascoigne knew that he was to have a concussion of the brain,
and he made no reply, nor gave any signs of knowing that Captain Wilson
was near him.  He then went to our hero, who, at the sound of Captain
Wilson's voice, slowly opened his eyes without moving his head, and
appeared to recognise him.

"Are you in much pain, Easy?" said the captain kindly.

Easy closed his eyes again, and murmured, "Mesty, Mesty!"

"He wants his servant, the ship's corporal, sir," said the surgeon.

"Well," replied Captain Wilson, "he had better have him: he is a
faithful fellow, and will nurse him well.  When you go on board, Mr
Daly, desire the first lieutenant to send Mesty on shore with Mr
Gascoigne's and Mr Easy's chests, and his own bag and hammock.  Good
heavens!  I would not for a thousand pounds that this accident had
occurred.  Poor foolish boys--they run in couples, and if one's in a
scrape the other is sure to share it.  Gentlemen, I return you many
thanks for your kindness, and I must accept of your promised care for my
unfortunate officers.  I sail to-morrow at daylight.  You will oblige me
by informing their friends, the Rebieras, of their mischance, as I am
sure they will contribute all they can to their comfort."  So saying,
Captain Wilson bowed and quitted the room, followed by the surgeon.

As soon as the door was closed the two midshipmen turned their heads
round and looked at each other, but they were afraid to speak at first,
in case of the return of the surgeon.  As soon as it was announced to
them that Captain Wilson and Mr Daly were outside the barrack gates our
hero commenced--"Do you know, Ned, that my conscience smites me, and if
it had not been that I should have betrayed those who wish to oblige us,
when poor Captain Wilson appeared so much hurt and annoyed at our
accident, I was very near getting up and telling him of the imposition,
to relieve his mind."

"I agree with you, Jack, and I felt much the same--but what's done
cannot be undone.  We must now keep up the imposition for the sake of
those who, to help us, have deceived him."

"I don't think that you would find an English surgeon who would have
consented to such an imposition."

"No, that is certain; but after all, it is an imposition that has hurt
nobody."

"Oh, I do not wish to moralise--but I repent of my share in the deceit;
and had it to be done over again I would not consent to it."

"Not even for ---? but I won't mention her name in barracks."

"I don't know," replied Jack; "but let's say no more about it, and thank
these gentlemen for their kindness."

"Yes, but we must keep it up until we see the _Aurora_ under all sail."

"And longer too," replied Jack; "we must not let the affair get wind
even on shore.  We must not recover quickly, but still appear to
recover.  Don Rebiera and his wife must be deceived.  I have a plot in
my head, but I cannot work it out clear until I see Mesty."

Don Philip now came in.  He had seen Captain Wilson, who had requested
him to look after the two invalids, and stated his intention to sail the
next morning.  They consulted with him, and it was agreed that no one
should be acquainted with the real fact but his brother Martin, and that
all Palermo should be as much deceived as Captain Wilson, for if not, it
would put Father Thomaso on the _qui vive_, and make him fulminate more
than ever.  Our midshipmen ate an excellent dinner, and then remained in
bed conversing till it was time to go to sleep; but long before that,
Mesty had made his appearance with their clothes.  The eyes of the
Ashantee said all that was necessary--he never spoke a word, but
unlashed his hammock and lay down in a corner, and they were soon all
three asleep.

The next morning Captain Wilson called to ascertain how our hero and his
companion were, but the room had been darkened, and he could not see
their faces plainly.  Easy thanked him for his kindness in allowing
Mesty to attend them, and having received his orders as to their joining
the ship as soon as they recovered, and having promised to be very
cautious in their behaviour and keep out of all scrapes, he wished them
a speedy recovery, and departed.

In little more than half an hour afterwards, Mesty, who had been peeping
out of the shutters, suddenly threw them open with a loud laugh.

The _Aurora_ was under way, with studding sails below and aloft,
standing out of the roads.  Jack and Gascoigne got up, threw off the
splints, and danced about in their shirts.  As soon as they were quiet
again, Mesty said in a grave tone, "Den why you stay at sea, Massa
Easy?"

"Very true, Mesty, I've asked myself that question often enough lately;
because I'm a fool, I suppose."

"And I, because I can't help it," replied Gascoigne; "never mind, we are
on shore now, and I look for a famous cruise."

"But first we must see what the ground is we are to cruise on," replied
Jack; "so, Mesty, let us have a palaver, as they say in your country."

The two midshipmen got into their beds, and Mesty sat on the chest
between them, looking as grave as a judge.  The question was, how to get
rid of the padre Thomaso.  Was he to be thrown over the molehead to the
fishes--or his skull broke--was Mesty's knife to be resorted to--was he
to be kidnapped or poisoned--or were fair means to be employed--
persuasion, bribery?  Every one knows how difficult it is to get rid of
a priest.

As our hero and Gascoigne were not Italians, they thought that bribery
would be the more English-like way of doing the thing; so they composed
a letter, to be delivered by Mesty to the friar, in which Jack offered
to Father Thomaso the moderate sum of one thousand dollars, provided he
would allow the marriage to proceed, and not frighten the old lady with
ecclesiastical squibs and crackers.

As Mesty was often on shore with Jack, and knew the friar very well by
sight, it was agreed that the letter should be confided to his charge;
but, as it was not consistent that a person in such a state as our hero
was represented to be should sit up and write letters, the delivery was
deferred for a few days, when, after waiting that time, Mesty delivered
the letter to the friar, and made signs that he was to take back the
answer.  The friar beckoned him that he was to accompany him to his
room, where he read the letter, and then again made signs to him to
follow him.  The friar led the way to his monastery, and as soon as
Mesty was in his cell, he summoned another who could speak English to
act as interpreter.

"Is your master recovering?"

"Yes," replied Mesty, "he is at present doing well."

"Have you served him long?"

"No," replied Mesty.

"Are you very fond of him? does he treat you well, give you plenty of
money?"

At these questions, the artful black conceived that there was something
in the wind, and he therefore very quietly replied, "I do not care much
for him."

The friar fixed his keen eye upon Mesty, and perceived there was a
savage look about the black, from which he augured that he was a man who
would suit his purpose.

"Your master offers me a thousand dollars; would you wish to gain this
money for yourself?"

Mesty grinned and showed his sharp-filed teeth.

"It would make me a rich man in my own country."

"It would," replied the friar; "now you shall have it, if you will only
give your master a small powder."

"I understand," replied Mesty; "hab those things in my country."

"Well--do you consent?--if so, I will write the letter to get the
money."

"Suppose they find me out?" replied Mesty.

"You will be safe, and you shall be sent away as soon as possible--say,
will you consent?"

"The whole thousand dollars?"

"Every one of them."

"Den give me the powder?"

"Stay a little," replied the friar, who went out of the cell, and, in
about ten minutes, returned with an answer to our hero's letter and a
paper containing a grayish powder.

"Give him this in his soup or anything--spread it on his meat, or mix it
up with his sugar if he eats an orange."

"I see," replied Mesty.

"The dollars shall be yours.  I swear it on the holy cross."

Mesty grinned horribly, took his credentials, and then asked, "When I
come again?"

"As soon as you have received the money bring it to me at Don
Rebiera's--then give the powder: as soon as it is given you must let me
know, for you must not remain in Palermo.  I will myself conduct you to
a place of safety."

Mesty then quitted the cell and was shown out of the monastery.

"By de holy poker he one damn rascal!" muttered Mesty, as he was once in
the open air.  "But stop a little."

The Ashantee soon arrived at the barracks, and repeated the whole of the
conference between him and the Friar Thomaso.

"It must be poison, of course," observed Gascoigne; "suppose we try it
upon some animal?"

"No, Massa Gascoigne," replied Mesty, "I try it myself, by-and-bye.  Now
what we do?"

"I must give you the order for the thousand dollars, Mesty," replied
Jack.  "The rascal here writes to me that for that sum he will consent
not only not to oppose me, but agrees to assist my cause; but the great
question is, whether he will keep his word with you, Mesty; if not, I
shall lose my money.  So therefore we must now have another palaver and
argue the point."

The point was argued between Jack and Gascoigne.  A thousand dollars was
a large sum, but Jack's father was a philosopher.  After many _pros_ and
_cons_, it was as last decided that the money should be given to Mesty;
but that Mesty should state, when he took the money to the friar, that
he had administered the powder, and claim it when he presented it.

The next day the order for the money was given to Mesty, and he went to
the Friar Thomaso with it.  The friar hastened with Mesty to the
monastery and sent for the interpreter.

"You have given it?" inquired the friar.

"Yes--not one hour ago.  Here de order for de money."

"You must run for the money before he is dead, for the powder is very
rapid."

"And me," replied Mesty, apparently much alarmed, "where am I to go?"

"As soon as you bring the money here, you must go back to the barracks.
Remain there till he is dead, and then return here.  I will have all
ready, and take you, as soon as it is dusk, to a monastery of our order
in the mountains, where no one will think of looking for you till the
affair is blown over; and then I will find you a passage in some vessel
out of the island."

Mesty hastened for the money, and taking it in a large bag to the
monastery, delivered it to the friar's charge, and then returned to the
barracks to Easy and Gascoigne.  It was agreed that he should go with
the friar, who would probably remain away some time; indeed, Mesty
insisted upon so doing.  Mesty stayed two hours, and then returned about
dusk to the monastery, and reported the death of our hero.  He remained
there until it was dark, and then the friar ordered him to tie the bag
of dollars to his saddle-bow.  They mounted two mules, which stood
already caparisoned, and quitted Palermo.

In the morning, Don Philip, as usual, made his appearance, and told our
hero that the friar had been summoned away by the abbot, and would not
return for some time.

"I came to tell you this news," said Don Philip, "as I thought it would
please you; the sooner you are now well, the better.  I mean to propose
your both being removed to my father's palazzo, and then you can recover
your lost ground during the confessor's absence."

"And I have the means," replied Jack, showing the friar's letter.  Don
Philip read it with astonishment, but was still more surprised when he
heard the whole story from Jack.  He was for a time silent: at last he
said:

"I am sorry for your poor black."

"Why so?" replied Jack.

"You will never see him again, depend upon it.  A thousand dollars would
sign the death-warrant of a thousand blacks; but there is another
reason--they will put him out of the way that he may not give evidence.
Where is the powder?"

"Mesty has it; he would not part with it."

"He is a shrewd fellow, that black; he may be too much for the friar,"
replied Don Philip.

"He means mischief, I'm sure," replied Gascoigne.

"Still I feel a great deal of alarm about him," replied Easy; "I wish
now that I had not let him go."

"Are you sure that he went?"

"No, I am not; but the friar told him that he should take him to the
mountains as soon as it was dark."

"And probably he will," replied Don Philip, "as the best place to get
rid of him.  However, the whole of this story must be told both to my
father and my mother; to the former that he may take the right measures,
and to my mother that it may open her eyes.  Give me the copy of the
letter you wrote to the friar, and then I shall have it all."

The report of the accident which had occurred to Easy and Gascoigne had
been spread and fully believed throughout Palermo.  Indeed, as usual, it
had been magnified, and asserted that they could not recover.  To Agnes
only had the case been imparted in confidence by Don Philip, for her
distress at the first intelligence had been so great that her brother
could not conceal it.

Two days after Don Philip had made his parents acquainted with the
villainy of the friar, the midshipmen were transported to the palazzo,
much to the surprise of everybody, and much to the renown of the
surgeons, who were indemnified for their duplicity and falsehood by an
amazing extension of their credit as skilful men.

After their arrival at the palazzo, Don Rebiera was also entrusted with
the secret, but it went no further.  As now there was no particular
hurry for our hero to get well, he was contented and happy in the
society of Agnes and her parents; the old lady, after she had been
informed of the conduct of Friar Thomaso, having turned round in our
hero's favour, and made a vow never to have a confessor in the house
again.  Jack and Gascoigne were now as happy as could be; all their
alarm was about Mesty, for whose return they were most anxious.

To Don Rebiera Jack made known formally his intentions with regard to
Agnes.  He fully satisfied him as to his qualifications and his
property, and Don Rebiera was fully aware of his debt of gratitude to
our hero.  But all he required was the consent of Jack's father, and
until this was obtained, he would not consent to the marriage taking
place.  Jack attempted to argue the point; his father, he said, had
married without consulting him, and therefore he had a right to marry
without consulting his father.  But Don Rebiera, not having any
acquaintance with the rights of man and equality, did not feel the full
force of Jack's argument, and made it a _sine qua non_ that his parents
should write and consent to the alliance before it took place.



CHAPTER THIRTY THREE.

IN WHICH MESTY SHOULD BE CALLED THROUGHOUT MEPHISTOPHELES, FOR IT
ABOUNDS IN BLACK CLOAKS, DISGUISES, DAGGERS, AND DARK DEEDS.

On the fourth evening after the removal of our two midshipmen to the
palazzo of Don Rebiera, as they were sitting in company with Agnes and
Don Philip in their own room, a friar made his appearance at the door.
They all started, for by his height they imagined him to be the Friar
Thomaso, but no one addressed him.  The friar shut the door without
saying a word, and then lifting up his cowl, which had been drawn over
it, discovered the black face of Mesty.  Agnes screamed, and all sprang
from their seats at this unusual and unexpected apparition.  Mesty
grinned, and there was that in his countenance which said that he had
much to communicate.

"Where is the friar, Mesty?" inquired Easy.

"Stop a little, Massa--suppose we lock door first, and den I tell all."

Taking this precaution, Mesty threw off the friar's gown, and appeared
in his own dress, with the bag of dollars slung round his body.

"Now, Massa Easy, I hab a long tory to tell--so I tink I better begin at
the beginning."

"It is the most approved method," replied Jack; "but stop when I hold up
my finger, that we may translate what you say to the lady and Don
Philip."

"Dat all right, sar.  Friar and I get on two mule as soon as it quite
dark.  He make me carry all tousand dollars--and we ride out of town.
We go up mountain and mountain, but the moon get up shine and we go on
cheek by jowl--he nebber say one word, and I nebber say one word, 'cause
I no speak his lingo, and he no understand my English.  About two
o'clock in de morning, we stop at a house and stay dere till eight
o'clock, and den we go on again all next day, up all mountain, only stop
once, eat a bit bread and drink lilly wine.  Second night come on, and
den we stop again, and people bow very low to him, and woman bring in
rabbit for make supper.  I go in the kitchen, woman make stew smell very
nice, so I nod my head, and I say very good, and she make a face, and
throw on table black loaf of bread and garlic, and make sign dat for my
supper; good enough for black fellow, and dat rabbit stew for friar.
Den I say to myself, stop a little; suppose friar hab all de rabbit, I
tink I give him a lilly powder."

"The powder, Mesty?" exclaimed Jack.

"What does he say?" inquired Don Philip.

Gascoigne translated all that Mesty had communicated.  The interest of
the narrative now became exciting.  Mesty continued:

"Well, Massa Easy, den woman she go for dish to put stew in, and I take
de powder and drop it in de pot, and den I sit down again and eat black
bread, she say good enough for black man.  She stir up de stew once
more, and den she pour it out into dish, and take it to friar.  He lick
um chops, by all de powers, and he like um so well he pick all de bones,
and wipe up gravy with him bread.  You tink it very nice, Massa Friar,
tink I; but stop a little.  After he drink a whole bottle of wine he
tell em bring mules to de door, and he put him hands on de woman head,
and dat de way he pay for him supper.

"The moon shone bright, and we go up all mountain, always go up, and
'bout two hour, he got off him mule and he put him hand so, and set down
on de rock.  He twist, and he turn and he groan for half an hour, and
den he look at me, as much as to say, you black villain, you do this?
for he not able to speak, and den I pull out de paper of de powder, and
I show him, and make him sign he swallow it: he look again, and I laugh
at him--and he die."

"Oh Mesty, Mesty," exclaimed our hero; "you should not have done that--
there will be mischief come from it."

"Now he dead, Massa Easy, so much less mischief."

Gascoigne then interpreted to Don Philip and Agnes, the former of whom
looked very grave and the latter terrified.

"Let him go on," said Don Philip; "I am most anxious to hear what he did
with the body."

Mesty, at the request of our hero, proceeded: "Den I thought what I
should do, and I said I would hide him, and I tink I take his coat for
myself--so I pull off him coat and I pull off all his oder clothes--he
not wear many--and I take the body in my arm and carry him where I find
a great split in de rock above all road.  I throw him in, and den I
throw plenty large pieces rock on him till I no see him any more; den I
take de two mules and get on mine wid de dollars, and lead the other
three four mile, till I come to a large wood--take off him saddle and
bridle, turn him adrift.  Den I tear up all clothes all in lilly bits,
hide one piece here, noder piece dere, and de saddle and bridle in de
bush.  All right now, I say; so put on friar cloak, hide my face, get on
my mule, and den I look where I shall go--so I say, I not be in dis road
anyhow.  I passed through wood till I find nother.  I go 'bout two
mile--moon go down, all dark, and five six men catch hold my bridle, and
they all got arms, so I do nothing--they speak to me, but I no answer,
and neber show my face.  They find all dollars (damn um) fast enough,
and they lead me away through the wood.  Last we come to large fire in
de wood, plenty of men lie 'bout, some eat and some drink.  They pull me
off, and I hold down my head and fold my arms, just like friar do.  They
bring me along to one man, and pour out all my dollar before him.  He
give some order, and they take me away, and I peep through the cloak,
and I say to myself, he that damn galley--slave rascal Don Silvio."

"Don Silvio!" cried Jack.

"What does he say of Don Silvio?" demanded Don Philip.

Mesty's narrative was again translated, and he continued.

"Dey lead me away 'bout fifty yards, tie me to tree, and den dey leave
me, and dey all drink and make merry, neber offer me anyting; so I hab
noting den to eat.  I eat de ropes and gnaw them through, and den I stay
there two hour until all go asleep, and all quiet; for I say to myself,
stop a little.  Den when dey all fast asleep, I take out my knife and I
crawl 'long de ground, as we do in our country sometime--and den I stop
and look 'bout me; no man watch but two, and dey look out for squarl,
not look in board where I was.  I crawl 'gain till I lay down 'longside
that damn galley-slave Don Silvio.  He lie fast asleep with my bag
thousand dollars under him head.  So I tink, `you not hab dem long, you
rascal.'  I look round--all right, and I drive my knife good aim into
him heart, and press toder hand on him mouth, but he make no noise; he
struggle little and look up, and den I throw off de head of de gown and
show him my black face, and he look and he try to speak; but I stop dat,
for down go my knife, again, and de damn galley-slave dead as herring."

"Stop, Mesty, we must tell this to Don Philip," said Gascoigne.

"Dead, Don Silvio dead! well, Mesty, we are eternally obliged to you,
for there was no safety for my father while he was living.  Let him go
on."

"So when I put de knife through his body, I lie down by him, as if
noting had happened, for ten minute, and den I take de bag of dollars
from under him head, and den I feel him all over, and I find him pistols
and him purse, which I hab here, all gold.  So I take them and I look--
all asleep, and I crawl back to de tree.  Den I stay to tink a little;
de man on watch come up and look at me, but he tink all right and he go
away again.  Lucky ting, by de power, dat I go back to tree.  I wait
again, and den I crawl and crawl till I clear of all, and den I take to
my heel and run for um life, till daylight come, and den I so tired I
lie down in bush: I stay in bush all day, and den I set off again back
here, for I find road and know my way.  I not eat den for one day and
one night, and come to house where I put my head in and find woman
there.  I not able to speak, so I help myself, and not show my face.
She not like dat and make a bobbery, but I lift up my cloak and show my
black face and white teeth, and den she tink me de debil.  She ran out
of de house and I help myself very quick, and den set off and come close
here yesterday morning.  I hide myself all day and come in at night, and
now, Massa Easy, you ab all de whole truth--and you ab your tousand
dollars--and you ab got rid of de rascal friar and de damn galley-slave
Don Silvio."

"Tell them all this, Ned," said Jack, who, whilst Gascoigne was so
employed, talked with Mesty.

"I was very much frightened for you, Mesty," said Jack; "but still I
thought you quite as cunning as the friar, and so it has turned out; but
the thousand dollars ought to be yours."

"No, sar," replied Mesty, "the dollars not mine; but I hab plenty of
gold in Don Silvio's purse--plenty, plenty of gold.  I keep my property,
Massa Easy, and you keep yours."

"I'm afraid that this affair may be found out, Mesty; the woman will
spread the report of having been attacked by a black friar, and that
will lead to suspicion, as the other friars of the convent knew that you
left with Friar Thomaso."

"So I tink dat, but when a man starve, he quite forget his thought."

"I don't blame you; but now I must talk to Don Philip."

"Suppose you no objection, while you talk I eat something from the table
then, Massa Easy; for I hungry enough to eat de friar, mule and all."

"Eat, my good fellow, and drink as much as you please."

The consultation between our two midshipmen and Don Philip was not long:
they perceived the immediate necessity for the departure of Mesty, and
the suspicion which would attach to themselves.  Don Philip and Agnes
left them, to go to Don Rebiera, and make him acquainted with what had
passed, and to ask his advice.

When they went into the room, Don Rebiera immediately accosted his son.

"Have you heard, Philip, that Friar Thomaso has returned at last?--so
the servants tell me."

"The report may be fortunate," replied Don Philip; "but I have another
story to tell you."

He then sat down and imparted to Don Rebiera all the adventures of
Mesty.  Don Rebiera was for some time in deep thought; at last he
replied:

"That Don Silvio is no more is fortunate, and the negro would be
entitled to reward for his destruction--but for the friar, that is a bad
business.  The negro might remain and tell the whole story, and the
facts might be proved by the evidence of Signor Easy and the letters;
but what then? we should raise the whole host of the clergy against our
house, and we have suffered too much from them already; the best plan
would be the immediate departure, not only of the negro, but of our two
young friends.  The supposition of Friar Thomaso being here, and their
departure with the negro servant to rejoin their ship, will remove much
suspicion and destroy all inquiry.  They must be off immediately.  Go to
them, Philip, and point out to them the absolute necessity of this
measure, and tell our young friend that I rigidly adhere to my promise,
and as soon as he has his father's sanction I will bestow upon him my
daughter.  In the meantime I will send down and see if a vessel can be
chartered for Malta."

Our hero and Gascoigne fully admitted the wisdom of this measure, and
prepared for their departure; indeed, now that Don Rebiera's resolution
had been made known to our hero, he cared more for obtaining his
father's consent than he did for remaining to enjoy himself at Palermo,
and before noon of the next day all was ready, the vessel had been
procured, Jack took his leave of Agnes and her mother, and accompanied
by Don Rebiera and Don Philip (for Don Martin was on duty a few miles
from Palermo), went down to the beach, and having bid them farewell
embarked with Gascoigne and Mesty on board of the two-masted lateen
which had been engaged, and before sunset not a steeple of Palermo was
to be seen.

"What are you thinking of, Jack?" said Gascoigne, after our hero had
been silent half an hour.

"I have been thinking, Ned, that we are well out of it."

"So do I," replied Gascoigne; and here the conversation dropped for a
time.

"What are you thinking of now, Jack?" said Gascoigne after a long pause.

"I've been thinking that I've a good story for the old Governor."

"Very true," replied Gascoigne; and both were again silent for some
time.

"What are you thinking of now, Jack?" said Gascoigne, after another long
interval.

"I've been thinking that I shall leave the service," replied Jack.

"I wish you would take me with you," replied Gascoigne, with a sigh; and
again they were both in deep contemplation.

"What are you thinking of now, Jack?" said Gascoigne again.

"Of Agnes," replied our hero.

"Well, if that's the case I'll call you when supper's ready.  In the
meantime I'll go and talk with Mesty."



CHAPTER THIRTY FOUR.

JACK LEAVES THE SERVICE, IN WHICH HE HAD NO BUSINESS, AND GOES HOME TO
MIND HIS OWN BUSINESS.

On the fourth day they arrived at Malta, and our two midshipmen, as soon
as they had settled with the padrone of the vessel, went up to the
government-house.  They found the Governor in the veranda, Who held out
both his hands, one to each.

"Glad to see you, my lads.  Well, Jack, how's the leg, all right? don't
limp.  And your arm, Gascoigne?"

"All right, sir, and as sound as ever it was," replied they both.

"Then you're in luck, and have made more baste than you deserve, after
your mad pranks; but now sit down, and I suppose, my friend Jack, you
have a story to tell me."

"Oh, yes, Sir Thomas, and a very long one."

"Then I won't have it now, for I expect people on business; we'll have
it after dinner.  Get your things up and take possession of your rooms.
The _Aurora_ sailed four days ago.  You've had a wonderful recovery."

"Wonderful, sir!" replied our hero; "all Palermo rings with it."

"Well, you may go now--I shall see you at dinner.  Wilson will be
delighted when he hears that you have got round again, for he was
low-spirited about it, I can tell you, which is more than you deserve."

"He's right there," said our hero to Gascoigne as they walked away.

When dinner was over, Jack narrated to the Governor the adventures of
Mesty, with which he was much interested; but when they were quite alone
in the evening, the Governor called our two midshipmen into the veranda,
and said:

"Now, my lads, I'm not going to preach, as the saying is, but I've been
long enough in the world to know that a compound fracture of the leg is
not cured in fourteen or sixteen days.  I ask you to tell me the truth.
Did not you deceive Captain Wilson on this point?"

"I am ashamed to say that we did, sir," replied Easy.

"How did you manage that, and why?"

Jack then went into further details relative to himself and his amour,
stating his wish to be left behind and all that had passed.

"Well, there's some excuse for you, but none for the surgeons.  If any
surgeon here had played such a trick, I would have hung him, as sure as
I'm Governor.  This affair of yours has become serious.  Mr Easy, we
must have some conversation on the matter to-morrow morning."

The next morning the packet from England was reported off the harbour's
mouth.  After breakfast the letters were brought on shore, and the
Governor sent for our hero.

"Mr Easy, here are two letters for you, I am sorry to say with black
seals.  I trust that they do not bring the intelligence of the death of
any very near relative."

Jack bowed without speaking, took the letters, and went to his room.
The first he opened was from his father.

"My Dear John--

"You will be much grieved to hear that your poor mother, after sitting
in the corner for nearly two years waiting for the millennium, appeared
to pine away; whether from disappointment or not I do not know; but at
last, in spite of all Dr Middleton could do, she departed this life;
and, as the millennium would not come to her as she expected, it is to
be hoped she is gone to the millennium.  She was a good wife, and I
always let her have her own way.  Dr Middleton does not appear to be
satisfied as to the cause of her death, and has wished to examine; but I
said no, for I am a philosopher, and it is no use looking for causes
after effects; but I have done since her death what she never would
permit me to do during her life.  I have had her head shaved, and
examined it very carefully as a phrenologist, and most curiously has she
proved the truth of the sublime science.  I will give you the result.
Determination, very prominent; Benevolence, small; Caution, extreme;
Veneration, not very great; Philo-progenitiveness, strange to say, is
very large, considering she has but one child; Imagination very strong:
you know, my dear boy, she was always imagining some nonsense or
another.  Her other organs were all moderate.  Poor dear creature! she
is gone, and we may well wail, for a better mother or a better wife
never existed.  And now, my dear boy, I must request that you call for
your discharge, and come home as soon as possible.  I cannot exist
without you, and I require your assistance in the grand work I have in
contemplation.  The time is at hand, the cause of equality will soon
triumph; the abject slaves now hold up their heads; I have electrified
them with my speeches, but I am getting old and feeble; I require my son
to leave my mantle to, as one prophet did to another, and then I will,
like him, ascend in glory.--Your affectionate Father:--

"NICODEMUS EASY."

From this it would appear, thought Jack, that my mother is dead, and
that my father is mad.  For some time our hero remained in a melancholy
mood; he dropped many tears to the memory of his mother, whom, if he had
never respected, he had much loved; and it was not till half an hour had
elapsed, that he thought of opening the other letter.  It was from Dr
Middleton.

"My Dear Boy,--

"Although not a correspondent of yours, I take the right of having
watched you through all your childhood, and from a knowledge of your
disposition, to write you a few lines.  That you have by this time
discarded your father's foolish, nonsensical philosophy, I am very sure.
It was I who advised your going away for that purpose, and I am sure
that, as a young man of sense and the heir to a large property, you will
before this have seen the fallacy of your father's doctrines.  Your
father tells me that he has requested you to come home, and allow me to
add any weight I may have with you in persuading you to do the same.  It
is fortunate for you that the estate is entailed, or you might soon be a
beggar, for there is no saying what debts he might, in his madness, be
guilty of.  He has already been dismissed from the magistracy by the
lord lieutenant, in consequence of his haranguing the discontented
peasantry, and, I may say, exciting them to acts of violence and
insubordination.  He has been seen dancing and hurrahing round a stack
fired by an incendiary.  He has turned away his keepers, and allowed all
poachers to go over the manor.  In short, he is not in his senses; and,
although I am far from advising coercive measures, I do consider that it
is absolutely necessary that you should immediately return home and look
after what will one day be your property.  You have no occasion to
follow the profession with eight thousand pounds per annum.  You have
distinguished yourself--now make room for those who require it for their
subsistence.  God bless you.  I shall soon hope to shake hands with you.

"Yours most truly:--

"G. Middleton."

There was matter for deep reflection in these two letters, and Jack
never felt before how much his father had been in the wrong.  That he
had gradually been weaned from his ideas was true, but still he had, to
a certain degree, clung to them, as we do to a habit; but now he felt
that his eyes were opened; the silly, almost unfeeling, letter of his
father upon the occasion of his mother's death opened his eyes.  For a
long while Jack was in a melancholy meditation, and then, casting his
eyes upon his watch, he perceived that it was almost dinner-time.  That
he could eat his dinner was certain, and he scorned to pretend to feel
what he did not.  He therefore dressed himself and went down, grave, it
is true, but not in tears.  He spoke little at dinner, and retired as
soon as it was over, presenting his two letters to the Governor, and
asking his advice for the next morning.  Gascoigne followed him, and to
him he confided his trouble; and Ned, finding that Jack was very
low-spirited, consoled him to the best of his power, and brought a
bottle of wine which he procured from the butler.  Before they retired
to bed, Jack had given his ideas to his friend, which were approved of,
and wishing him a good-night, he threw himself into bed, and was soon
fast asleep.

"One thing is certain, my good fellow," observed the Governor to our
hero, as he gave him back his letters at the breakfast table the next
morning; "that your father is as mad as a March hare.  I agree with that
doctor, who appears a sensible man, that you had better go home
immediately."

"And leave the service altogether, sir?" replied Jack.

"Why, I must say that I do not think you exactly fitted for it.  I shall
be sorry to lose you, as you have a wonderful talent for adventure, and
I shall have no more yarns to hear when you return: but, if I understand
right from Captain Wilson, you were brought into the profession because
he thought that the service might be of use in eradicating false
notions, rather than from any intention or necessity of your following
it up as a profession."

"I suspect that was the case, sir," replied Jack; "as for my own part, I
hardly know why I entered it."

"To find a mare's nest, my lad; I've heard all about it; but never mind
that, the question is now about your leaving it to look after your own
property, and I think I may venture to say that I can arrange all that
matter at once, without referring to admiral or captain.  I will be
responsible for you, and you may go home in the packet which sails on
Wednesday for England."

"Thank you, Sir Thomas, I am much obliged to you," replied Jack.

"You, Mr Gascoigne, I shall, of course, send out by the first
opportunity to rejoin your ship."

"Thank you, Sir Thomas, I am much obliged to you," replied Gascoigne,
making a bow.

"You'll break no more arms, if you please, sir," continued the Governor;
"a man in love may have some excuse for breaking his leg, but you had
none."

"I beg your pardon, sir; if Mr Easy was warranted in breaking his leg
out of love, I submit that I could do no less than break my arm out of
friendship."

"Hold your tongue, sir, or I'll break your head from the very opposite
feeling," replied the Governor, good-humouredly.  "But observe, young
man, I shall keep this affair secret, as in honour bound; but let me
advise you, as you have only your profession to look to, to follow it up
steadily.  It is high time that you and Mr Easy were separated.  He is
independent of the service, and you are not.  A young man possessing
such ample means will never be fitted for the duties of a junior
officer.  He can do no good for himself, and is certain to do much harm
to others: a continuance of his friendship would probably end in your
ruin, Mr Gascoigne.  You must be aware that if the greatest indulgence
had not been shown to Mr Easy by his captain and first lieutenant, he
never could have remained in the service so long as he has done."

As the Governor made the last remark in rather a severe tone, our two
midshipmen were silent for a minute.  At last Jack observed, very
quietly:

"And yet, sir, I think, considering all, I have behaved pretty well."

"You have behaved very well, my good lad, on all occasions in which your
courage and conduct, as an officer, have been called forth.  I admit it;
and had you been sent to sea with a mind properly regulated, and without
such an unlimited command of money, I have no doubt but that you would
have proved an ornament to the service.  Even now I think you would, if
you were to remain in the service under proper guidance and necessary
restrictions, for you have, at least, learned to obey, which is
absolutely necessary before you are fit to command.  But recollect, what
would your conduct have brought upon you if you had not been under the
parental care of Captain Wilson?  But let us say no more about that: a
midshipman with the prospect of eight thousand pounds a year is an
anomaly which the service cannot admit, especially when that midshipman
is resolved to take to himself a wife."

"I hope that you approve of that step, sir."

"That entirely depends upon the merit of the party, which I know nothing
of, except that she has a pretty face, and is of one of the best
Sicilian families.  I think the difference of religion a ground of
objection."

"We will argue that point, sir," replied Jack.

"Perhaps it will be the cause of more argument than you think for, Mr
Easy; but every man makes his own bed, and as he makes it, so must he
lie down in it."

"What am I to do about Mesty, sir?  I cannot bear the idea of parting
with him."

"I am afraid that you must; I cannot well interfere there."

"He is of little use to the service, sir; he has been sent to sick
quarters as my servant: if he may be permitted to go home with me, I
will procure his discharge as soon as I arrive, and send him on board
the guard-ship till I obtain it."

"I think that, on the whole, he is as well out of the service as in it,
and therefore I will, on consideration, take upon myself the
responsibility, provided you do as you say."

The conversation was here ended, as the Governor had business to attend
to, and Jack and Gascoigne went to their rooms to make their
arrangements.

"The Governor is right," observed Gascoigne; "it is better that we part,
Jack.  You have half unfitted me for the service already; I have a
disgust of the midshipmen's berth; the very smell of pitch and tar has
become odious to me.  This is all wrong; I must forget you and all our
pleasant cruises on shore, and once more swelter in my greasy jacket.
When I think that if our pretended accidents were discovered, I should
be dismissed the service, and the misery which that would cause to my
poor father, I tremble at my escape.  The Governor is right, Jack: we
must part, but I hope you never will forget me."

"My hand upon it, Ned.  Command my interest, if ever I have any--my
money--what I have, and the house, whether it belongs to me or my
father--as far as you are concerned at least, I adhere to my notions of
perfect equality."

"And abjure them, I trust, Jack, as a universal principle."

"I admit, as the Governor asserts, that my father is as mad as a March
hare."

"That is sufficient; you don't know how glad it makes me to hear you say
that."

The two friends were inseparable during the short time that they
remained together.  They talked over their future prospects, their hopes
and anticipations, and when the conversation flagged, Gascoigne brought
up the name of Agnes.

Mesty's delight at leaving the service, and going home with his patron,
was indescribable.  He laid out a portion of his gold in a suit of plain
clothes, white linen shirts, and in every respect the wardrobe of a man
of fashion; in fact, he was now a complete gentleman's gentleman; was
very particular in frizzing his woolly hair--wore a white neckcloth,
gloves, and cane.  Every one felt inclined to laugh when he made his
appearance; but there was some in Mesty's look, which, at all events,
prevented their doing so before his face.  The day for sailing arrived.
Jack took leave of the Governor, thanking him for his great kindness,
and stating his intention of taking Malta in his way out to Palermo in a
month or two.  Gascoigne went on board with him, and did not go down the
vessel's side till it was more than a mile clear of the harbour.



CHAPTER THIRTY FIVE.

MR. EASY'S WONDERFUL INVENTION FULLY EXPLAINED BY HIMSELF--MUCH TO THE
SATISFACTION OF OUR HERO, AND, IT IS TO BE PRESUMED, TO THAT ALSO OF THE
READER.

At last the packet anchored in Falmouth Roads.  Jack, accompanied by
Mesty, was soon on shore with his luggage, threw himself into the mail,
arrived in London, and waiting there two or three days to obtain what he
considered necessary from a fashionable tailor, ordered a chaise to
Forest Hill.  He had not written to his father to announce his arrival,
and it was late in the morning when the chaise drew up at his father's
door.

Jack stepped out and rang the bell.  The servants who opened the door
did not know him; they were not the same as those he left.

"Where is Mr Easy?" demanded Jack.

"Who are you?" replied one of the men, in a gruff tone.

"By de powers, you very soon find out who he is," observed Mesty.

"Stay here, and I'll see if he is at home."

"Stay here! stay in the hall like a footman?  What do you mean, you
rascal?" cried Jack, attempting to push by the man.

"Oh, that won't do here, master; this is Equality Hall; one man's as
good as another."

"Not always," replied Jack knocking him down.  "Take that for your
insolence, pack up your traps, and walk out of the house to-morrow
morning."

Mesty in the meantime, had seized the other by the throat.

"What I do with this fellow, Massa Easy?"

"Leave him now, Mesty; we'll settle their account to-morrow morning.  I
presume I shall find my father in the library."

"His father!" said one of the men to the other; "he's not exactly a chip
of the old block."

"We shall have a change, I expect," replied the other, as they walked
away.

"Mesty," cried Jack, in an authoritative tone, "bring those two rascals
back to take the luggage out of the chaise; pay the postilion, and tell
the housekeeper to show you my room and yours.  Come to me for orders as
soon as you have done this."

"Yes, sir," replied Mesty.  "Now come here, you damn blackguard, and
take tings out of chaise, or by de holy poker I choke your luff, both of
you."

The filed teeth, the savage look, and determination of Mesty, had the
due effect.  The men sullenly returned and unloaded the chaise.  In the
meantime, Jack walked into his father's study; his father was there--the
study was lighted up with argand lamps, and Jack looked with
astonishment.  Mr Easy was busy with a plaster cast of a human head,
which he pored over, so that he did not perceive the entrance of his
son.  The cast of the skull was divided into many compartments, with
writing on each; but what most astonished our hero was the alteration in
the apartment.  The book-cases and books had all been removed, and in
the centre, suspended from the ceiling, was an apparatus which would
have puzzled any one, composed of rods in every direction, with screws
at the end of them, and also tubes in equal number, one of which
communicated with a large air-pump, which stood on a table.  Jack took a
short survey, and then walked up to his father and accosted him.

"What!" exclaimed Mr Easy, "is it possible?--yes, it is my son John!
I'm glad to see you, John--very glad indeed," continued the old
gentleman, shaking him by both hands--"very glad that you have come
home: I wanted you--wanted your assistance in my great and glorious
project, which, I thank Heaven, is now advancing rapidly.  Very soon
shall equality and the rights of man be proclaimed everywhere.  The
pressure from without is enormous, and the bulwarks of our ridiculous
and tyrannical constitution must give way.  King, lords, and
aristocrats; landholders, tithe-collectors, church and state, thank God,
will soon be overthrown, and the golden age revived--the millennium, the
true millennium--not what your poor mother talked about.  I am at the
head of twenty-nine societies, and if my health lasts, you will see what
I will accomplish now that I have your assistance, Jack;" and Mr Easy's
eyes sparkled and flashed in all the brilliancy of incipient insanity.

Jack sighed, and to turn the conversation he observed, "You have made a
great change in this room, sir.  What may all this be for?  Is it a
machine to improve equality and the rights of man?"

"My dear son," replied Mr Easy, sitting down, and crossing his legs
complacently, with his two hands under his right thigh, according to his
usual custom when much pleased with himself--"why, my dear son, that is
not exactly the case, and yet you have shown some degree of perception
even in your guess; for if my invention succeeds, and I have no doubt of
it, I shall have discovered the great art of rectifying the mistakes of
nature, and giving an equality of organisation to the whole species, of
introducing all the finer organs of humanity, and of destroying the
baser.  It is a splendid invention, Jack, very splendid.  They may talk
of Gall and Spurzheim, and all those; but what have they done? nothing
but divided the brain into sections, classed the organs, and discovered
where they reside; but what good result has been gained from that? the
murderer by nature remained a murderer--the benevolent man, a benevolent
man--he could not alter his organisation.  I have found out how to
change all that."

"Surely, sir, you would not interfere with the organ of benevolence?"

"But indeed I must, Jack.  I myself am suffering from my organ of
benevolence being too large; I must reduce it, and then I shall be
capable of greater things, shall not be so terrified by difficulties,
shall overlook trifles, and only carry on great schemes for universal
equality and the supreme rights of man.  I have put myself into that
machine every morning for two hours, for these last three months, and I
feel now that I am daily losing a great portion."

"Will you do me the favour to explain an invention so extraordinary,
sir," said our hero.

"Most willingly, my boy.  You observe that in the centre there is a
frame to confine the human head, somewhat larger than the head itself,
and that the head rests upon the iron collar beneath.  When the head is
thus firmly fixed, suppose I want to reduce the size of any particular
organ, I take the boss corresponding to where that organ is situated in
the cranium, and fix it on it.  For you will observe that all the bosses
inside of the top of the frame correspond to the organs as described in
this plaster-cast on the table.  I then screw down pretty tight, and
increase the pressure daily, until the organ disappears altogether, or
is reduced to the size required."

"I comprehend that part perfectly, sir," replied Jack; "but now explain
to me by what method you contrive to raise an organ which does not
previously exist."

"That," replied Mr Easy, "is the greatest perfection of the whole
invention, for without I could do that, I could have done little.  I
feel convinced that this invention of mine will immortalise me.  Observe
all these little bell-glasses which communicate with the air-pump.  I
shave my patient's head, grease it a little, and fix on the bell-glass,
which is exactly shaped to fit the organ in length and breadth.  I work
the air-pump, and raise the organ by an exhausted receiver.  It cannot
fail.  There is my butler, now; a man who escaped hanging last spring
assizes on an undoubted charge of murder.  I selected him on purpose; I
have flattened down murder to nothing, and I have raised benevolence
till it's like a wen."

"I am afraid my poor father's head is an exhausted receiver," thought
Jack, who then replied, "Well, sir, if it succeeds it will be a good
invention."

"If it succeeds!--why, it has succeeded!--it cannot fail.  It has cost
me near two thousand pounds.  By-the-bye, Jack, you have drawn very
liberally lately, and I had some trouble, with my own expenses, to meet
your bills; not that I complain--but what with societies, and my
machine, and tenants refusing to pay their rents on the principle that
the farms are no more mine than theirs, which I admit to be true, I have
had some difficulty in meeting all demands."

"The Governor was right," thought Jack, who now inquired after Dr
Middleton.

"Ah, poor silly man! he's alive yet--I believe doing well.  He is one
who will interfere with the business of others, complains of my
servants--very silly man indeed--but I let him have his own way.  So I
did your poor mother.  Silly woman, Mrs Easy--but never mind that."

"If you please, sir, I have also a complaint to make of the servants for
their insolence to me: but we will adjourn, if you please, as I wish to
have some refreshment."

"Certainly, Jack, if you are hungry; I will go with you.  Complain of my
servants, say you?--there must be some mistake--they are all shaved, and
wear wigs, and I put them in the machine every other morning; but I mean
to make an alteration in one respect.  You observe, Jack, it requires
more dignity: we must raise the whole machinery some feet, ascend it
with state as a throne, for it is the throne of reason, the victory of
mind over nature."

"As you please, sir; but I am really hungry just now."

Jack and his father went into the drawing-room and rang the bell; not
being answered, Jack rose and rang again.

"My dear sir," observed Mr Easy, "you must not be in a hurry; every man
naturally provides for his own wants first, and afterwards for those of
others.  Now my servants--"

"Are a set of insolent scoundrels, sir, and insolence I never permit.  I
knocked one down as I entered your house, and, with your permission, I
will discharge two, at least, to-morrow."

"My dear son," exclaimed Mr Easy, "you knocked my servant down!--are
you not aware by the laws of equality--"

"I am aware of this, my dear father," replied Jack, "that by all the
laws of society we have a right to expect civility and obedience from
those we pay and feed."

"Pay and feed!  Why, my dear son--my dear Jack--you must recollect--"

"I recollect, sir, very well; but if your servants do not come to their
recollection in a very short time, either I or they must quit the
house."

"But, my dear boy, have you forgotten the principles I instilled into
you?  Did you not go to sea to obtain that equality foiled by tyranny
and despotism here on shore?  Do you not acknowledge and support my
philosophy?"

"We'll argue that point to-morrow, sir--at present I want to obtain my
supper;" and Jack rang the bell furiously.

The butler made his appearance at this last summons, and he was followed
by Mesty, who looked like a demon with anger.

"Mercy on me, whom have we here?"

"My servant, father," exclaimed Jack, starting up; "one that I can trust
to, and who will obey me.  Mesty, I wish some supper and wine to be
brought immediately--see that scoundrel gets it ready in a moment.  If
he does not, throw him out of the door, and lock him out.  You
understand me."

"Yes, massa," grinned Mesty; "now you hab supper very quick, or Mesty
know the reason why.  Follow me, sar," cried Mesty, in an imperative
tone to the butler; "quick, sar, or by de holy poker, I show you what
Mesty can do;" and Mesty grinned in his wrath.

"Bring supper and wine immediately," said Mr Easy, giving an order such
as the butler had never heard since he had been in the house.

The butler quitted the room, followed by the Ashantee.

"My dear boy--my Jack--I can make every allowance for hunger, it is
often the cause of theft and crime in the present unnatural state of
society--but really you are too violent.  The principles--"

"Your principles are all confounded nonsense, father," cried Jack in a
rage.

"What, Jack! my son--what do I hear?  This from you--nonsense!  Why,
Jack, what has Captain Wilson been doing with you?"

"Bringing me to my senses, sir."

"Oh, dear, oh, dear! my dear Jack, you will certainly make me lose
mine."

"Gone already," thought Jack.

"That you, my child, so carefully brought up in the great and glorious
school of philosophy, should behave this way--should be so violent--
forget your sublime philosophy, and all--just like Esau, selling your
birthright for a mess of pottage.  Oh, Jack, you'll kill me! and yet I
love you, Jack--whom else have I to love in this world?  Never mind,
we'll argue the point, my boy--I'll convince you--in a week all will be
right again."

"It shall, sir, if I can manage it," replied Jack.

"That's right, I love to hear you say so--that's consoling, very
consoling--but I think now I was wrong to let you go to sea, Jack."

"Indeed you were not, father."

"Well, I'm glad to hear you say so; I thought they had ruined you,
destroyed all your philosophy--but it will be all right again--you shall
come to our societies, Jack--I am president--you shall hear me speak,
Jack--you shall hear me thunder like Demosthenes--but here comes the
tray."

The butler, followed by Mesty, who attended him as if he was his
prisoner, now made his appearance with the tray--laid it down in a sulky
manner and retired.  Jack desired Mesty to remain.

"Well, Mesty, how are they getting on in the servants' hall?"

"Regular mutiny, sar--ab swear dat dey no stand our nonsense, and dat we
both leave the house to-morrow."

"Do you hear, sir, your servants declare that I shall leave your house
to-morrow."

"You leave my house, Jack, after four years' absence!--no, no.  I'll
reason with them--I'll make them a speech.  You don't know how I can
speak, Jack."

"Look you, father, I cannot stand this; either give me a carte-blanche
to arrange this household as I please, or I shall quit it myself
to-morrow morning."

"Quit my house, Jack! no, no--shake hands and make friends with them; be
civil, and they will serve you--but you know upon the principles--"

"Principles of the devil!" cried Jack in a rage.

"Of the devil, Jack; dear me!  I wish you had never gone to sea."

"In one word, sir, do you consent, or am I to leave the house?"

"Leave the house!  Oh, no; not leave the house, Jack.  I have no son but
you.  Then do as you please--but you must not send away my murderer, for
I must have him cured, and shown as a proof of my wonderful invention."

"Mesty, get my pistols ready for to-morrow morning, and your own too--do
ye hear?"

"All ready, massa," replied Mesty; "I tink dat right."

"Right!--pistols, Jack!  What do you mean?"

"It is possible, father, that you may not have yet quite cured your
murderer, and therefore it is as well to be prepared.  I will now wish
you goodnight; but before I go, you will be pleased to summon one of the
servants that he may inform the others that the household is under my
control for the future."

The bell was again rung, and was this time answered with more
expedition.  Jack told the servant, in the presence of his father, that,
with the consent of the latter, he should hereafter take the whole
control of the establishment, and that Mesty would be the major-domo
from whom they would receive their orders.  The man stared, and cast an
appealing look to Mr Easy, who hesitated, and at last said:

"Yes, William; you'll apologise to all, and say that I have made the
arrangement."

"You apologise to none, sir," cried Jack; "but tell them that I will
arrange the whole business to-morrow morning.  Tell the woman to come
here and show me my bedroom.  Mesty, get your supper and then come up to
me; if they dare to refuse you, recollect who does, and point them out
to-morrow morning.  That will do, sir; away with you, and bring flat
candlesticks."



CHAPTER THIRTY SIX.

IN WHICH JACK TAKES UP THE OTHER SIDE OF THE ARGUMENT, AND PROVES THAT
HE CAN ARGUE AS WELL ON ONE SIDE AS THE OTHER.

This scene may give some idea of the state of Mr Easy's household upon
our hero's arrival.  The poor lunatic, for such we must call him, was at
the mercy of his servants, who robbed, laughed at, and neglected him.
The waste and expense were enormous.  Our hero, who found how matters
stood, went to bed, and lay the best part of the night revolving what to
do.  He determined to send for Dr Middleton, and consult him.

The next morning Jack rose early; Mesty was in the room, with warm
water, as soon as he rang.

"By de power, Massa Easy, your fader very silly old man."

"I'm afraid so," replied Jack.

"He not right here," observed Mesty, putting his fingers to his head.

Jack sighed, and desired Mesty to send one of the grooms up to the door.
When the man knocked he desired him to mount a horse and ride over to
Dr Middleton, and request his immediate attendance.

The man, who was really a good servant, replied, "Yes, sir," very
respectfully, and hastened away.

Jack went down to breakfast, and found it all ready, but his father was
not in the room: he went to his study, and found him occupied with a
carpenter who was making a sort of a frame as the model of the platform
or dais to be raised under the wonderful invention.  Mr Easy was so
busy that he could not come to breakfast, so Jack took his atone.  An
hour after this Dr Middleton's carriage drove up to the door.  The
doctor heartily greeted our hero.

"My dear sir--for so I suppose I must now call you--I am heartily glad
that you have returned.  I can assure you that it is not a moment too
soon."

"I have found that out already, doctor," replied Jack: "sit down.  Have
you breakfasted?"

"No, I have not; for I was so anxious to see you, that I ordered my
carriage at once."

"Then sit down, doctor, and we will talk over matters quietly."

"You, of course, perceive the state of your father.  He has been some
time quite unfit to manage his own affairs."

"So I am afraid."

"What do you intend to do then--put them in the hands of trustees?"

"I will be trustee for myself, Dr Middleton.  I could not do the other
without submitting my poor father to a process and confinement which I
cannot think of."

"I can assure you that there are not many in Bedlam worse than he is;
but I perfectly agree with you; that is, if he will consent to your
taking charge of the property."

"A power of attorney will be all that is requisite," replied Jack; "that
is, as soon as I have rid the house of the set of miscreants who are in
it, and who are now in open mutiny."

"I think," replied the doctor, "that you will have some trouble.  You
know the character of the butler."

"Yes, I have it from my father's own mouth.  I really should take it as
a great favour, Dr Middleton, if you could stay here a day or two.  I
know that you have retired from practice."

"I would have made the same offer, my young friend.  I will come here
with two of my servants; for you must discharge these."

"I have one of my own who is worth his weight in gold--that will be
sufficient.  I will dismiss every man you think I ought, and as for the
women, we can give them warning, and replace them at leisure."

"That is exactly what I should propose," replied the doctor.  "I will
now go, if you please, procure the assistance of a couple of constables,
and also of your father's former, legal adviser, who shall prepare a
power of attorney."

"Yes," replied Jack, "and we must then find out the tenants who refuse
to pay upon the principles of equality, and he shall serve them with
notice immediately."

"I am rejoiced, my dear young friend, to perceive that your father's
absurd notions have not taken root."

"They lasted some time nevertheless, doctor," replied Jack, laughing.

"Well then, I will only quit you for an hour or two, and then, as you
wish it, will take up my quarters here as long as you find me useful."

In the forenoon, Dr Middleton again made his appearance, accompanied by
Mr Hanson, the solicitor, bringing with him his portmanteau and his
servants.  Mr Easy had come into the parlour, and was at breakfast when
they entered.  He received them very coolly; but a little judicious
praise of the wonderful invention had its due effect; and after Jack had
reminded him of his promise that in future he was to control the
household, he was easily persuaded to sign the order for his so doing--
that is, the power of attorney.

Mr Easy also gave up to Jack the key of his secretary, and Mr Hanson
possessed himself of the books, papers, and receipts necessary to
ascertain the state of his affairs, and the rents which had not yet been
paid up.  In the meantime the constables arrived.  The servants were all
summoned; Mr Hanson showed them the power of attorney empowering Jack
to act for his father, and in less than half an hour afterwards all the
men-servants, but two grooms, were dismissed: the presence of the
constables and Mesty prevented any resistance, but not without various
threats on the part of the butler, whose name was O'Rourke.  Thus, in
twenty-four hours, Jack had made a reformation in the household.

Mr Easy took no notice of anything; he returned to his study and his
wonderful invention.  Mesty had received the keys of the cellar, and had
now complete control over those who remained.  Dr Middleton, Mr
Hanson, Mr Easy, and Jack, sat down to dinner, and everything wore the
appearance of order and comfort.  Mr Easy ate very heartily, but said
nothing till after dinner, when, as was his usual custom, he commenced
arguing upon the truth and soundness of his philosophy.

"By-the-bye, my dear son, if I recollect right, you told me last night
that you were no longer of my opinion.  Now, if you please, we will
argue this point."

"I'll argue the point with all my heart, sir," replied Jack; "will you
begin?"

"Let's fill our glasses," cried Mr Easy triumphantly; "let's fill our
glasses, and then I will bring Jack back to the proper way of thinking.
Now then, my son, I trust you will not deny that we were all born
equal."

"I do deny it, sir," replied Jack; "I deny it _in toto_--I deny it from
the evidence of our own senses, and from the authority of Scripture.  To
suppose all men were born equal is to suppose that they are equally
endowed with the same strength and with the same capacity of mind, which
we know is not the case.  I deny it from Scripture, from which I could
quote many passages; but I will restrict myself to one--the parable of
the Talents: `To one he gave five talents, to another but one,' holding
them responsible for the trust reposed in them.  We are all intended to
fill various situations in society, and are provided by Heaven
accordingly."

"That may be," replied Mr Easy; "but that does not prove that the earth
was not intended to be equally distributed among all alike."

"I beg your pardon; the proof that that was not the intention of
Providence is that that equality, allowing it to be put in practice,
could never be maintained."

"Not maintained!--no, because the strong oppress the weak, tyrants rise
up and conquer--men combine to do wrong."

"Not so, my dear father; I say it could not be maintained without the
organisation of each individual had been equalised and several other
points established.  For instance, allowing that every man had, _ab
origine_, a certain portion of ground, he who was the strongest or the
cleverest would soon cause his to yield more than others would, and thus
the equality be destroyed.  Again, if one couple had ten children, and
another had none, then again would equality be broken in upon, as the
land that supports two in the one instance, would have to feed twelve in
the other.  You perceive, therefore, that without rapine or injustice
your equality could not be preserved."

"But, Jack, allowing that there might be some diversity from such
causes, that would be a very different thing from the present monstrous
state of society, in which we have kings, and lords, and people, rolling
in wealth, while others are in a state of pauperism, and obliged to
steal for their daily bread."

"My dear father, I consider that it is to this inequality that society
owes its firmest cementation, that we are enabled to live in peace and
happiness, protected by just laws, each doing his duty in that state of
life to which he is called, rising above or sinking in the scale of
society according as he has been entrusted with the five talents or the
one.  Equality can and does exist nowhere.  We are told that it does not
exist in heaven itself--how can it exist upon earth?"

"But that is only asserted, Jack, and it is not proof that it ought not
to exist."

"Let us argue the point, father, coolly.  Let us examine a little what
would be the effect if all was equality.  Were all equal in beauty,
there would be no beauty, for beauty is only by comparison--were all
equal in strength, conflicts would be interminable--were all equal in
rank, and power, and possessions, the greatest charms of existence would
be destroyed--generosity, gratitude, and half the finer virtues would be
unknown.  The first principle of our religion, charity, could not be
practised--pity would never be called forth--benevolence, your great
organ, would be useless, and self-denial a blank letter.  Were all equal
in ability, there would be no instruction, no talent--no genius--nothing
to admire, nothing to copy, to respect--nothing to rouse emulation or
stimulate to praiseworthy ambition.  Why, my dear father, what an idle,
unprofitable, weary world would this be, if it were based on equality!"

"But, allowing all that, Jack," replied Mr Easy, "and I will say you
argue well in a bad cause, why should the inequality be carried so far?
king and lords, for instance."

"The most lasting and imperishable form of building is that of the
pyramid, which defies ages, and to that may the most perfect form of
society be compared.  It is based upon the many, and rising by degrees,
it becomes less as wealth, talent, and rank increase in the individual,
until it ends at the apex, or monarch, above all.  Yet each several
stone from the apex to the base is necessary for the preservation of the
structure, and fulfils its duty in its allotted place.  Could you prove
that those at the summit possess the greatest share of happiness in this
world, then, indeed, you have a position to argue on; but it is well
known that such is not the case; and, provided he is of a contented
mind, the peasant is more happy than the king, surrounded as the latter
is by cares and anxiety."

"Very well argued indeed, my dear sir," observed Dr Middleton.

"But, my dear boy, there are other states of society than monarchy; we
have republics and despotisms."

"We have, but how long do they last, compared to the first?  There is a
cycle in the changes which never varies.  A monarchy may be overthrown
by a revolution, and republicanism succeed, but that is shortly followed
by despotism, till, after a time, monarchy succeeds again by unanimous
consent, as the most legitimate and equitable form of government; but in
none of these do you find a single advance to equality.  In a republic
those who govern are more powerful than the rulers in a restricted
monarchy--a president is greater than a king, and next to a despot,
whose will is law.  Even in small societies you find that some will
naturally take the lead and assume domination.  We commence the system
at school, when we are first thrown into society, and there we are
taught systems of petty tyranny.  There are some few points in which we
can obtain equality in this world, and that equality can only be
obtained under a well-regulated form of society, and consists in an
equal administration of justice and of laws to which we have agreed to
submit for the benefit of the whole--the equal right to live and not be
permitted to starve, which has been obtained in this country.  And when
we are all called to account, we shall have equal justice.  Now, my dear
father, you have my opinion."

"Yes, my dear, this is all very well in the abstract; but how does it
work?"

"It works well.  The luxury, the pampered state, the idleness--if you
please, the wickedness of the rich, all contribute to the support, the
comfort, and employment of the poor.  You may behold extravagance--it is
a vice; but that very extravagance circulates money, and the vice of one
contributes to the happiness of many.  The only vice which is not
redeemed by producing commensurate good, is avarice.  If all were equal
there would be no arts, no manufactures, no industry, no employment.  As
it is, the inequality of the distribution of wealth may be compared to
the heart, pouring forth the blood like a steam-engine through the human
frame, the same blood returning from the extremities by the veins, to be
again propelled, and keep up a healthy and vigorous circulation."

"Bravo, Jack!" said Dr Middleton.  "Have you anything to reply, sir?"
continued he, addressing Mr Easy.

"To reply, sir?" replied Mr Easy with scorn, "why, he has not given me
half an argument yet--why, that black servant even laughs at him--look
at him there, showing his teeth.  Can he forget the horrors of slavery?
can he forget the base unfeeling lash?--no, sir, he has suffered, and he
can estimate the divine right of equality.  Ask him now, ask him if you
dare, Jack, whether he will admit the truth of your argument."

"Well, I'll ask him," replied Jack, "and I tell you candidly that he was
once one of your disciples.  Mesty, what's your opinion of equality?"

"Equality, Massa Easy?" replied Mesty, pulling up his cravat; "I say
damn equality, now I major domo."

"The rascal deserves to be a slave all his life."

"True, I ab been slave--but I a prince in my own country--Massa Easy
tell how many skulls I have."

"Skulls--skulls--do you know anything of the sublime science; are you a
phrenologist?"

"I know man's skull very well in Ashantee country, anyhow."

"Then if you know that, you must be one.  I had no idea that the science
had extended so far--maybe it was brought from thence.  I will have some
talk with you to-morrow.  This is very curious, Dr Middleton, is it
not?"

"Very, indeed, Mr Easy."

"I shall feel his head to-morrow after breakfast, and if there is
anything wrong I shall correct it with my machine.  By-the-bye, I have
quite forgot, gentlemen; you will excuse me, but I wish to see what the
carpenter has done for me, and after that I shall attend the meeting of
the society.  Jack, my boy, won't you come and hear my speech."

"Thank you, sir, but I cannot well leave your friends."

Mr Easy quitted the room.

"Are you aware, my dear sir, that your father has opened his preserves
to all the poachers?" said Mr Hanson.

"The devil he has!"

"Yes, he has allowed several gangs of gipsies to locate themselves in
his woods, much to the annoyance of the neighbourhood, who suffer from
their depredations," continued Dr Middleton.

"I find, by the receipts and books, that there is nearly two years'
rental of the estate due; some tenants have paid up in full, others not
for four years.  I reckon fourteen thousand pounds still in arrear."

"You will oblige me by taking immediate steps, Mr Hanson, for the
recovery of the sums due."

"Most certainly, Mr John.  I trust your father will not commit himself
to-night as he has done lately."

When they rose to retire Dr Middleton took our hero by the hand.  "You
do not know, my dear fellow, what pleasure it gives me to find that, in
spite of the doting of your mother and the madness of your father, you
have turned out so well.  It is very fortunate that you have come home;
I trust you will now give up the profession."

"I have given it up, sir; which, by-the-bye, reminds me that I have not
applied for either my discharge or that of my servant; but I cannot
spare time yet, so I shall not report myself."



CHAPTER THIRTY SEVEN.

IN WHICH OUR HERO FINDS HIMSELF AN ORPHAN, AND RESOLVES TO GO TO SEA
AGAIN, WITHOUT THE SMALLEST IDEA OF EQUALITY.

The next morning, when they met at breakfast, Mr Easy did not make his
appearance, and Jack inquired of Mesty where he was?

"They say down below that the old gentleman not come home last night."

"Did not come home!" said Dr Middleton, "this must be looked to."

"He great rascal dat butler man," said Mesty to Jack; "but de old
gentleman not sleep in his bed, dat for sure."

"Make inquiries when he went out," said Jack.

"I hope no accident has happened," observed Mr Hanson; "but his company
has lately been very strange."

"Nobody see him go out, sar, last night," reported Mesty.

"Very likely he is in his study," observed Dr Middleton; "he may have
remained all night, fast asleep, by his wonderful invention."

"I'll go and see," replied Jack.

Dr Middleton accompanied him, and Mesty followed.  They opened, the
door, and beheld a spectacle which made them recoil with horror.  There
was Mr Easy, with his head in the machine, the platform below fallen
from under him, hanging, with his toes just touching the ground.  Dr
Middleton hastened to him, and, assisted by Mesty and our hero, took him
out of the steel collar which was round his neck; but life had been
extinct for many hours, and, on examination, it was found that the poor
old gentleman's neck was dislocated.

It was surmised that the accident must have taken place the evening
before, and it was easy to account for it.  Mr Easy, who had had the
machine raised four feet higher, for the platform and steps to be placed
underneath, must have mounted on the frame modelled by the carpenter for
his work, and have fixed his head in, for the knob was pressed on his
bump of benevolence.  The framework, hastily put together with a few
short nails, had given way with his weight, and the sudden fall had
dislocated his neck.

Mr Hanson led away our hero, who was much shocked at this unfortunate
and tragical end of his poor father, while Dr Middleton ordered the
body to be taken up into a bedroom, and immediately despatched a
messenger to the coroner of the county.  Poor Mr Easy had told his son
but the day before that he felt convinced that this wonderful invention
would immortalise him, and so it had, although not exactly in the sense
that he anticipated.

We must pass over the few days of sorrow, and closed shutters, which
always are given to these scenes.  The coroner's inquest and the funeral
over, daylight was again admitted, our hero's spirits revived, and he
found himself in possession of a splendid property, and his own master.

He was not of age, it is true, for he wanted nine months; but on opening
the will of his father, he found that Dr Middleton was his sole
guardian.  Mr Hanson, on examining and collecting the papers, which
were in the greatest confusion, discovered bank-notes in different
corners, and huddled up with bills and receipts, to the amount of two
thousand pounds, and further, a cheque signed by Captain Wilson on his
banker, for the thousand pounds advanced by Mr Easy, dated more than
fifteen months back.

Dr Middleton wrote to the Admiralty, informing them that family affairs
necessitated Mr John Easy, who had been left at sick quarters, to leave
his Majesty's service, requesting his discharge from it forthwith.  The
Admiralty was graciously pleased to grant the request, and lose the
services of a midshipman.  The Admiralty were also pleased to grant the
discharge of Mesty, on the sum required for a substitute being paid in.

The gipsies were routed out of their abodes, and sent once more to
wander.  The gamekeepers were restored, the preserves cleared of all
poachers, and the gentry of the county were not a little pleased at
Jack's succession, for they had wished that Mr Easy's neck had been
broken long ago.  The societies were dissolved, since, now that Mr Easy
paid no longer for the beer, there was nothing to meet for.  Cards and
compliments were sent from all parts of the county, and every one was
anxious that our hero should come of age, as then he would be able to
marry, to give dinners, subscribe to the fox-hounds, and live as a
gentleman ought to do.

But, during all these speculations, Jack had made Dr Middleton
acquainted with the history of his amour with Agnes de Rebiera, and all
particulars connected therewith, also with his determination to go out
to bring her home as his wife.  Dr Middleton saw no objection to the
match, and he perceived that our hero was sincere.  And Jack had made
inquiries when the packet would sail for Malta, when Mesty, who stood
behind his chair, observed:

"Packet bad vessel, Massa Easy.  Why not go out in man-of-war?"

"Very true," replied Jack; "but you know, Mesty, that is not so easy."

"And den how come home, sar.  Suppose you and Missy Agnes taken
prisoner--put in prison?"

"Very true," replied Jack; "and as for a passage home in a man-of-war
that will be more difficult still."

"Den I tink, sar, suppose you buy one fine vessel--plenty of guns--take
out letter of marque--plenty of men, and bring Missy Agnes home like a
lady.  You captain of your own ship."

"That deserves consideration, Mesty," replied Jack, who thought of it
during that night; and the next day resolved to follow Mesty's advice.
The Portsmouth paper lay on the breakfast-table.  Jack took it up, and
his eye was caught by an advertisement for the sale of the _Joan d'Arc_,
prize to H.M. ship _Thetis_, brigantine of 278 tons, copper-bottomed,
armed _en flute_, with all her stores, spars, sails, running and
standing rigging, then lying in the harbour of Portsmouth, to take place
on the following Wednesday.

Jack rang the bell, and ordered post-horses.

"Where are you going, my dear boy?" inquired Dr Middleton.

"To Portsmouth, doctor."

"And pray what for, if not an impertinent question?"

Jack then gave Dr Middleton an insight into his plan, and requested
that he would allow him to do so, as there was plenty of ready-money.

"But the expense will be enormous."

"It will be heavy, sir, I grant; but I have calculated it pretty nearly,
and I shall not spend at the rate of more than my income.  Besides, as
letter of marque, I shall have the right of capture; in fact, I mean to
take out a privateer's regular licence."

"But not to remain there and cruise?"

"No, upon my honour; I am too anxious to get home again.  You must not
refuse me, my dear guardian."

"As a lady is in the case, I will not, my dear boy; but be careful what
you are about."

"Never fear, sir, I will be back in four months, at the furthest; but I
must now set off and ascertain if the vessel answers the description
given in the advertisement."

Jack threw himself into the chariot.  Mesty mounted into the rumble, and
in two hours they were at Portsmouth; went to the agent, viewed the
vessel, which proved to be a very fine fast-sailing craft, well found,
with six brass carronades on each side.  The cabins were handsome,
fitted up with bird's-eye maple and gilt mouldings.

This will do, thought Jack; a couple of long brass nines, forty men and
six boys, and she will be just the thing we require.  So Mesty and Jack
went on shore again, and returned to Forest Hill to dinner, when he
desired Mr Hanson to set off for Portsmouth, and bid at the sale for
the vessel, as he wished to purchase her.  This was Monday, and on
Wednesday Mr Hanson purchased her, as she stood, for 1750 pounds, which
was considered about half her value.

Dr Middleton had, in the meantime, been thinking very seriously of
Jack's project.  He could see no objection to it, provided that he was
steady and prudent, but in both these qualities Jack had not exactly
been tried.  He therefore determined to look out for some steady naval
lieutenant, and make it a _sine qua non_ that our hero should be
accompanied by him, and that he should go out as sailing-master.  Now
that the vessel was purchased, he informed Jack of his wish; indeed, as
Dr Middleton observed, his duty as guardian demanded this precaution,
and our hero, who felt very grateful to Dr Middleton, immediately
acquiesced.

"And, by-the-bye, doctor, see that he is a good navigator; for although
I can fudge a day's work pretty well, latterly I have been out of
practice."

Every one was now busy.  Jack and Mesty at Portsmouth, fitting out the
vessel, and offering three guineas a head to the crimps for every good
able seaman--Mr Hanson obtaining the English register, and the letters
of licence, and Dr Middleton in search of a good naval dry-nurse.  Jack
found time to write to Don Philip and Agnes, apprising them of the death
of his father, and his intentions.

In about six weeks all was ready, and the brigantine, which had taken
out her British register and licence under the name of the _Rebiera_,
went out of harbour, and anchored at Spithead.  Dr Middleton had
procured, as he thought, a very fit person to sail with Jack, and our
hero and Mesty embarked, wishing the doctor and solicitor good-bye, and
leaving them nothing to do but to pay the bills.

The person selected by Dr Middleton, by the advice of an old friend of
his, a purser in the navy who lived at Southsea, was a Lieutenant
Oxbelly, who, with the ship's company, which had been collected,
received our hero as their captain and owner upon his arrival on board.
There certainly was no small contrast between our hero's active slight
figure and handsome person, set-off with a blue coat, something like the
present yacht-club uniform, and that of his second in command, who
waddled to the side to receive him.  He was a very short man, with an
uncommon protuberance of stomach, with shoulders and arms too short for
his body, and hands much too large, more like the paws of a Polar bear
than anything else.  He wore trousers, shoes, and buckles.  On his head
was a foraging cap, which, when he took it off, showed that he was quite
bald.  His age might be about fifty-five or sixty; his complexion
florid, no whiskers and little beard, nose straight, lips thin, teeth
black with chewing, and always a little brown dribble from the left
corner of his mouth (there was a leak there, he said).  Altogether his
countenance was prepossessing, for it was honest and manly, but his
waist was preposterous.

"Steady enough," thought Jack, as he returned Mr Oxbelly's salute.

"How do you do, sir?" said Jack, "I trust we shall be good shipmates,"
for Jack had not seen him before.

"Mr Easy," replied the lieutenant, "I never quarrel with any one,
except (I won't tell a story) with my wife."

"I am sorry that you have ever domestic dissensions, Mr Oxbelly."

"And I only quarrel with her at night, sir.  She will take up more than
her share of the bed, and won't allow me to sleep single; but never mind
that, sir; now will you please to muster the men?"

"If you please, Mr Oxbelly."

The men were mustered, and Jack made them a long speech upon
subordination, discipline, activity, duty, and so forth.

"A very good speech, Mr Easy," said Mr Oxbelly, as the men went
forward; "I wish my wife had heard it.  But, sir, if you please, we'll
now get under way as fast as we can, for there is a Channel cruiser
working up at St. Helen's, and we may give him the go-by by running
through the Needles."

"But what need we care for the Channel cruiser?"

"You forget, sir, that as soon as she drops her anchor she will come on
board and take a fancy to at least ten of our men."

"But they are protected."

"Yes, sir, but that's no protection nowadays.  I have sailed in a
privateer at least three years, and I know that they have no respect for
letters of marque or for privateers."

"I believe you are right, Mr Oxbelly, so if you please we will up with
the anchor at once."

The crew of the _Rebiera_ had been well chosen; they were prime
men-of-war's men, most of whom had deserted from the various ships on
the station, and, of course, were most anxious to be off.  In a few
minutes the _Rebiera_ was under way with all sail set below and aloft.
She was in excellent trim, and flew through the water; the wind was
fair, and by night they had passed Portland Lights, and the next morning
were steering a course for the Bay of Biscay without having encountered
what they feared more than an enemy--a British cruiser to overhaul them.

"I think we shall do now, sir," observed Mr Oxbelly to our hero; "we
have made a famous run.  It's twelve o'clock, and if you please I'll
work the latitude and let you know what it is.  We must shape our course
so as not to run in with the Brest squadron.  A little more westing,
sir.  I'll be up in one minute.  My wife--but I'll tell you about that
when I come up.

"Latitude 41 degrees 12 minutes, sir.  I was about to say that my wife,
when she was on board of the privateer that I commanded--"

"Board of the privateer, Mr Oxbelly?"

"Yes, sir, would go; told her it was impossible, but she wouldn't listen
to reason--came on board, flopped herself into the standing bed-place,
and said that there she was for the cruise--little Billy with her--"

"What! your child, too?"

"Yes, two years old--fine boy--always laughed when the guns were fired,
while his mother stood on the ladder and held him on the top of the
booby-hatch."

"I wonder that Mrs Oxbelly let you come here now?"

"So you would, sir, but I'll explain that--she thinks I'm in London
about my half-pay.  She knows all by this time, and frets, I don't
doubt; but that will make her thin, and then there will be more room in
the bed.  Mrs Oxbelly is a very stout woman."

"Why you are not a little man!"

"No, not little--tending to be lusty, as the saying is--that is, in good
condition.  It's very strange that Mrs Oxbelly has an idea that she is
not large.  I cannot persuade her to it.  That's the reason we always
spar in bed.  She says it is I, and I know that it is she, who takes the
largest share of it."

"Perhaps you may both be right."

"No, no, it is she who creates all the disturbance.  If I get nearer to
the wall she jams me up till I am as thin as a thread-paper.  If I put
her inside and stay outside, she cuts me out as you do a cask, by the
chine, till I tumble out of bed."

"Why don't you make your bed larger, Mr Oxbelly?"

"Sir, I have proposed, but my wife will have it that the bed is large
enough if I would not toss in my sleep.  I can't convince her.  However,
she'll have it all to herself now.  I slept well last night, for the
first time since I left the _Boadicea_."

"The _Boadicea_?"

"Yes, sir, I was second lieutenant of the _Boadicea_ for three years."

"She's a fine frigate, I'm told."

"On the contrary, such a pinched-up little craft below I never saw.
Why, Mr Easy, I could hardly get into the door of my cabin--and yet, as
you must see, I'm not a large man."

"Good heavens! is it possible," thought Jack, "that this man does not
really know that he is monstrous?"

Yet such was the case.  Mr Oxbelly had no idea that he was otherwise
than in good condition, although he had probably not seen his knees for
years.  It was his obesity that was the great objection to him, for in
every other point there was nothing against him.  He had, upon one
pretence and another, been shifted, by the manoeuvres of the captains,
out of different ships, until he went up to the Admiralty to know if
there was any charge against him.  The First Lord at once perceived the
charge to be preferred, and made a mark against his name as not fit for
anything but harbour duty.  Out of employment, he had taken the command
of a privateer cutter, when his wife who was excessively fond, would, as
he said, follow him with little Billy.  He was sober, steady, knew his
duty well; but he weighed twenty-six stone, and his weight had swamped
him in the service.

His wish, long indulged, had become, as Shakespeare says, the father of
his thought, and he had really at last brought himself to think that he
was not by any means what could be considered a fat man.  His wife, as
he said, was also a very stout woman, and this exuberance of flesh on
both sides, was the only, but continual, ground of dispute.



CHAPTER THIRTY EIGHT.

IN WHICH OUR HERO, AS USUAL, GETS INTO THE VERY MIDDLE OF IT.

On the eleventh day the Rebiera entered the Straits, and the Rock of
Gibraltar was in sight as the sun went down; after which the wind fell
light, and about midnight it became calm, and they drifted up.  At
sunrise they were roused by the report of heavy guns, and perceived an
English frigate about eight miles farther up the Straits, and more in
the mid-channel, engaging nine or ten Spanish gunboats, which had come
out from Algesiras to attack her.  It still continued a dead calm, and
the boats of the frigate were all ahead towing her, so as to bring her
broadside to bear upon the Spanish flotilla.  The reverberating of the
heavy cannon on both sides over the placid surface of the water--the
white smoke ascending as the sun rose in brilliancy in a clear blue
sky--the distant echoes repeated from the high hills--had a very
beautiful effect for those who are partial to the picturesque.  But Jack
thought it advisable to prepare for action instead of watching for
tints--and in a short time all was ready.

"They'll not come to us, Mr Easy, as long as they have the frigate to
hammer at; but still we had better be prepared, for we cannot well pass
them without having a few shot.  When I came up the Straits in the
privateer we were attacked by two, and fought them for three hours;
their shot dashed the water over our decks till they were wet fore and
aft, but somehow or another they never hit us--we were as low as they
were.  I'll be bound but they'll hull the frigate though.  Mrs Oxbelly
and Billy were on deck the whole time--and Billy was quite delighted,
and cried when they took him down to breakfast."

"Why, Mrs Oxbelly must be very courageous."

"Cares neither for shot nor shell, sir, laughs when they whiz over her
head, and tells Billy to hark.  But, sir, it's not surprising; her
father is a major, and her two brothers are lieutenants in the
bombardiers."

"That, indeed," replied Jack--"but see, there is a breeze springing up
from the westward."

"Very true, Mr Easy, and a steady one it will be, for it comes up dark
and slow; so much the better for the frigate, for she'll get little
honour and plenty of mauling at this work."

"I hope we shall take it up with us," observed Jack; "how far do you
reckon the gun-boats from the shore?"

"I should think about five miles, or rather less."

"Trim sails, Mr Oxbelly--perhaps we may cut one or two of these off--
steer inshore of them."

"Exactly.  Up there, my lads, set top-gallant studding sails, top-mast
studdings to hand-rig out the booms--keep as you go now, my lad--we
shall be well inshore of them, and out of the range of the batteries."

The breeze came down fresh, and all sail was set upon the _Rebiera_.
She took the wind down with her, and it passed her but little--half a
mile ahead of them all was still and smooth as a glass mirror, and they
neared and gained inshore at the same time.  The gun-boats were still
engaging the frigate, and did not appear to pay any attention to the
_Rebiera_ coming down.  At last the breeze reached them and the frigate,
light at first and then gradually increasing, while the _Rebiera_ foamed
through the water and had now every chance of cutting off some of the
gun-boats.  The frigate trimmed her sails and steered towards the
flotilla, which now thought proper to haul off and put their heads
inshore, followed by the frigate firing her bow-chasers.  But the
_Rebiera_ was now within half gun-shot, inshore, and steering so as to
intercept them.  As she rapidly closed, the flotilla scarcely knew how
to act; to attack her would be to lose time, and allow the frigate to
come up and occasion their own capture; so they satisfied themselves
with firing at her as she continued to run down between them and the
land.  As they neared, Jack opened his fire with his eighteen-pound
carronades and long nines.  The gun-boats returned his fire, and they
were within a quarter of a mile, when Jack shortened sail to his
top-sails, and a warm engagement took place, which ended in one of the
gun-boats being in a few minutes dismasted.  The frigate, under all
canvas, came rapidly up, and her shot now fell thick.  The flotilla then
ceased firing, passing about two cables' lengths ahead of the _Rebiera_,
and making all possible sail for the land.  Jack now fired at the
flotilla as they passed, with his larboard broadside, while with his
starboard he poured in grape and canister upon the unfortunate gun-boat
which was dismasted, and which soon hauled down her colours.  In a few
minutes more the remainder were too far distant for the carronades, and,
as they did not fire, Jack turned his attention to take possession of
his prize, sending a boat with ten men on board, and heaving-to close to
her to take her in tow.  Ten minutes more and the frigate was hove-to a
cable's length from the _Rebiera_, and our hero lowered down his other
quarter boat to go on board.

"Have we any men hurt, Mr Oxbelly?" inquired Jack.

"Only two; Spearling has lost his thumb with a piece of langrage, and
James has a bad wound in the thigh."

"Very well; I will ask for the surgeon to come on board."

Jack pulled to the frigate and went up the side, touched his hat in due
form, and was introduced by the midshipmen to the other side, where the
captain stood.

"Mr Easy!" exclaimed the captain.

"Captain Sawbridge?" replied our hero with surprise.

"Good heavens! what brought you here!" said the captain; "and what
vessel is that?"

"The _Rebiera_, letter of marque, commanded and owned by Mr Easy,"
replied Jack, laughing.

Captain Sawbridge gave him his hand.  "Come down with me in the cabin,
Mr Easy; I am very glad to see you.  Give you great credit for your
conduct, and am still more anxious to know what has induced you to come
out again.  I knew that you had left the service."

Jack, in a very few words, told his object in fitting out the _Rebiera_;
"but," continued Jack, "allow me to congratulate you upon your
promotion, which I was not aware of.  May I ask where you left the
_Harpy_, and what is the name of your frigate?"

"The _Latona_!  I have only been appointed to her one month, after an
action in which the _Harpy_ took a large corvette, and am ordered home
with despatches to England.  We sailed yesterday evening from Gibraltar,
were becalmed the whole night, and attacked this morning by the
gun-boats."

"How is Captain Wilson, sir?"

"I believe he is very well, but I have not seen him."

"How did you know, then, that I had left the service, Captain
Sawbridge?"

"From Mr Gascoigne, who is now on board."

"Gascoigne!" exclaimed our hero.

"Yes, he was sent up to join the _Aurora_ by the Governor, but she had
left the fleet, and having served his time, and a passing day being
ordered, he passed, and thought he might as well go home with me and see
if he could make any interest for his promotion."

"Pray, Captain Sawbridge, is the gun-boat our prize or yours?"

"It ought to be wholly yours; but the fact is, by the regulations, we
share."

"With all my heart, sir.  Will you send an assistant-surgeon on board to
look after two of my men who are hurt?"

"Yes, directly; now send your boat away, Easy, with directions to your
officer in command.  We must go back to Gibraltar, for we have received
some injury, and, I am sorry to say, lost some men.  You are going then,
I presume, to stay on board and dine with me: we shall be at anchor
before night."

"I will, with pleasure, sir.  But now I will send my boat away and shake
hands with Gascoigne."

Gascoigne was under the half-deck waiting to receive his friend, for he
had seen him come up the side from his station on the forecastle.  A
hurried conversation took place, after our hero had dismissed his boat
with the assistant-surgeon in it to dress the two wounded men.  Jack
then went on deck, talked with the officers, looked with pleasure at the
_Rebiera_ with the gun-boat in tow, keeping company with the frigate,
although only under the same canvas--promised Gascoigne to spend the
next day with him either on shore or on board of the _Rebiera_, and then
returned to the cabin, where he had a long conference with Captain
Sawbridge.

"When you first entered the service, Easy," said Captain Sawbridge, "I
thought that the sooner the service was rid of you the better; now that
you have left it, I feel that it has lost one, who, in all probability,
would have proved a credit to it."

"Many thanks, sir," replied Jack; "but how can I be a midshipman with
eight thousand pounds a year?"

"I agree with you that it is impossible:--but dinner is serving; go into
the after-cabin and the steward will give you all you require."

Our hero, whose face and hands were not a little grimed with the
gunpowder, washed himself, combed out his curly black hair, and found
all the party in the fore-cabin.  Gascoigne, who had not been asked in
the forenoon, was, by the consideration of Captain Sawbridge, added to
the number.  Before dinner was long off the table, the first lieutenant
reported that it was necessary to turn the hands up, as they were close
to the anchorage.  The party, therefore, broke up sooner than otherwise
would have been the case; and as soon as the _Latona's_ sails were
furled Captain Sawbridge went on shore to acquaint the Governor with the
results of the action.  He asked Jack to accompany him, but our hero,
wishing to be with Gascoigne, excused himself until the next day.

"And now, Easy," said Gascoigne, as soon as the captain had gone over
the side, "I will ask permission to go on board with you--or will you
ask?"

"I will ask," replied Jack; "a gentleman of fortune has more weight with
a first lieutenant than a midshipman."

So Jack went up to the first lieutenant, and with one of his polite bows
hoped, "if duty would permit, he would honour him by coming on board
that evening with some of his officers, to see the _Rebiera_ and to
drink a bottle or two of champagne."

The first lieutenant, as the _Rebiera_ was anchored not two cables'
lengths from him, replied, "that as soon as he had shifted the prisoners
and secured the gun-boat, he would be very glad;" so did three or four
more of the officers, and then Jack begged as a favour that his old
friend, Mr Gascoigne, might be permitted to go with him now, as he had
important packages to entrust to his care to England.  The first
lieutenant was very willing, and Gascoigne and our hero jumped into the
boat, and were once more in all the confidence of tried and deserved
friendship.

"Jack, I've been thinking of it, and I've made up my mind," said
Gascoigne.  "I shall gain little or nothing by going home for my
promotion: I may as well stay here, and as I have served my time and
passed, my pay is now of little consequence.  Will you take me with
you?"

"It is exactly what I was thinking of, Ned.  Do you think that Captain
Sawbridge will consent?"

"I do; he knows how I am circumstanced, and that my going home was
merely because I was tired of looking after the _Aurora_."

"We'll go together and ask him to-morrow," replied Jack.

"At all events, you'll have a more gentlemanly companion than Mr
Oxbelly."

"But not so steady, Ned."

The first lieutenant and officers came on board, and passed a merry
evening.  There's nothing passes time more agreeably away than
champagne, and if you do not affront this regal wine by mixing him with
any other, he never punishes you next morning.



CHAPTER THIRTY NINE.

A COUNCIL OF WAR, IN WHICH JACK DECIDES THAT HE WILL HAVE ONE MORE
CRUISE.

As Captain Sawbridge did not return on board that evening, Easy went on
shore and called upon him at the Governor's, to whom he was introduced,
and received an invitation to dine with him.  As Gascoigne could not
come on shore, our hero took this opportunity of making his request to
Captain Sawbridge, stating that the person he had with him was not such
as he wished and could confide everything to; that is, not one to whom
he could talk to about Agnes.  Jack, as he found that Captain Sawbridge
did not immediately assent, pressed the matter hard; at last Captain
Sawbridge, who reflected that Gascoigne's interest hereafter would be
much greater through his friend Easy than any other quarter, and that
the more the friendship was cemented the more advantageous it might
prove to Gascoigne, gave his consent to our hero's wish, who called on
board the _Latona_ to acquaint Gascoigne and the first lieutenant of
Captain Sawbridge's intentions, and then went on board of _Rebiera_ and
ordered Mesty to come with his portmanteau on shore to the inn, that he
might dress for dinner.  Gascoigne, now considered as not belonging to
the _Latona_, was permitted to accompany him; and Jack found himself
looking out of the window at which he had hung out his trousers upon the
memorable occasion when the boatswain had to follow his own precept, of
duty before decency.

"What scenes of adventure I have passed through since that," thought
Jack; "not much more than four years ago, then not three weeks in the
service."  Whereupon Jack fell into a deep reverie, and thought of the
baboon and of Agnes.

The repairs of the _Latona_ were all made good by the next day, and
Gascoigne, having received his discharge-ticket, went on board the
_Rebiera_.  The gun-boat was put into the hands of the agent, and
shortly afterwards purchased by Government.  The _Rebiera's_ crew did
not, however, obtain their prize-money and share of the head-money, for
she had seventy men on board, until their return, but, as they did, they
had broken the ice, and that was everything.  Moreover, it gave them
confidence in themselves, in their vessel, and in their commander.  Our
hero weighed a short time after the _Latona_, having first taken leave
of Captain Sawbridge, and committed to his care a letter to Dr
Middleton.

Once more behold the trio together--the two midshipmen hanging over the
taffrail, and Mesty standing by them.  They had rounded Europa Point,
and with a fine breeze off the land, were lying close-hauled along the
Spanish shore.  Mr Oxbelly was also walking near them.

"When I was cruising here it was very different," observed Jack; "I had
a vessel which I did not know how to manage, a crew which I could not
command, and had it not been for Mesty, what would have become of me?"

"Massa Easy, you know very well how to get out of scrapes, anyhow."

"Yes, and how to get into them," continued Gascoigne.

"And how to get others out of them, too, Ned."

"`No more of that Hal, an thou lovest me,'" quoted Gascoigne.  "I have
often wondered what has been the lot of poor Azar."

"The lot of most women, Ned, in every country--prized at first,
neglected afterwards--the lot she might have had with you."

"Perhaps so," replied Ned, with a sigh.

"Massa Easy, you get eberybody out of scrape; you get me out of scrape."

"I do not recollect how, Mesty."

"You get me out from boil kettle for young gentlemen--dat devil of
scrape."

"And I'm sure I've got you out of a scrape, Mr Oxbelly."

"How so, Mr Easy?"

"How so!--have I not prevented your quarrelling with your wife every
night?"

"Certainly, sir, you have been the means.  But, do you know, when we
were engaging the other day, I could not help saying to myself, `I wish
my wife was here now, holding little Billy at the hatchway.'"

"But at night, Mr Oxbelly."

"At night!--why, then I'm afraid I should have wished her home again--
it's astonishing how comfortable I sleep now every night.  Besides, in
this climate it would be intolerable.  Mrs Oxbelly is a very large
woman--very large indeed."

"Well, but now we must hold a council of war.  Are we to run up the
coast, or to shape our course direct for Palermo?"

"Course direct, and we shall take nothing, that is certain," said
Gascoigne.

"If we take nothing we shall make no prize-money," continued Oxbelly.

"If we make no prize-money the men will be discontented," said Easy.

"If no ab noting to do--it will be damned 'tupid," continued Mesty.

"Now then the other side of the question.  If we steer for Palermo, we
shall be sooner there and sooner home."

"To which I reply," said Gascoigne, "that the shorter the cruise is, the
less I shall have of your company."

"And I shall have to sleep with Mrs Oxbelly," continued Oxbelly.

"Hab fine ship, fine gun, fine men, and do noting," cried Mesty.  "By de
power, I no like dat, Massa Easy."

"You want eight months of coming of age, Jack," observed Gascoigne.

"It won't make a difference of more than three or four weeks," said Mr
Oxbelly; "and the expenses have been very great."

"But--"

"But what, Jack?"

"Agnes."

"Agnes will be better defended going home by men who have been
accustomed to be in action.  And, as for her waiting a little longer, it
will only make her love you a little more."

"Sleep single a little longer, Mr Easy, it's very pleasant," said Mr
Oxbelly.

"That's not very bad advice of yours," observed Gascoigne.

"_Stop a little_, Massa Easy," said Mesty, "you know dat very good
advice."

"Well, then," replied Jack, "I will, as I am quite in the minority.  We
will work up the whole coast--up to Toulon.  After all, there's
something very pleasant in commanding your own ship, and I'm not in a
hurry to resign it--so that point's decided."

The _Rebiera_ was steered in to the land, and at sunset they were not
four miles from the lofty blue mountains which overhang the town of
Malaga.  There were many vessels lying at the bottom of the bay, close
in with the town; the wind now fell light, and the _Rebiera_, as she
could not fetch the town, tacked as if she were a merchant vessel
standing in, and showed American colours, a hint which they took from
perceiving three or four large vessels lying in the outer roads, with
the colours of that nation hoisted at the peak.

"What is your intention, Jack?" said Gascoigne.

"I'll be hanged if I know yet.  I think of working up to the outer
roads, and anchoring at night--boarding the American vessels, and
gaining intelligence."

"Not a bad idea; we shall then learn if there is anything to be done,
and if not, we may be off at daylight."

"The pratique boat will not come off after sunset."

"And if they did, we could pass for an American, bound to Barcelona or
anywhere else--the outer roads where the vessels lie are hardly within
gun-shot."

Mesty, who had resumed his sailor's clothes, now observed, "What we do,
Massa Easy, we do quickly--time for all ting, time for show face and
fight--time for hide face, crawl, and steal."

"Very true, Mesty, we'll crawl this time, and steal if we can.  It's not
the warfare I like best of the two."

"Both good, Massa Easy; suppose you no steal board of polacca ship, you
not see Missy Agnes."

"Very true, Mesty.  'Bout ship, Mr Oxbelly."

"Mr Oxbelly not good for boat sarvice," observed Mesty, showing his
teeth.

It was dark before the _Rebiera_ was anchored in the outer roads, a
cable's length astern of the outermost American vessel.  One of her
quarter-boats was lowered down, and Gascoigne and our hero pulled
alongside, and, lying on their oars, hailed, and asked the name of the
vessel.

"So help me Gad, just now I forget her name," replied a negro, looking
over the gangway.

"Who's the captain?"

"So help me Gad, he gone on shore."

"Is the mate on board?"

"No, so help me Gad--he gone shore too."

"Who is aboard then?"

"So help me Gad, nobody on board but Pompey--and dat me."

"Good ship-keepers, at all events," said Jack.  "A ship in the outer
roads with only a black fellow on board!  I say, Pompey, do they always
leave you in charge of the vessel?"

"No, sar; but to-night great pleasure on shore.  Eberybody dance and
sing, get drunk, kick up bobbery, and all dat."

"What, is it a festival?"

"So help me Gad, I no know, sar."

"Is there any one on board of the other vessels?"

"Eberybody gone on shore.  Suppose they have black man, he stay on
board."

"Good-night, Pompey."

"Good-night, sar.  Who I say call when captain come on board?"

"Captain Easy."

"Captain He-see, very well, sar."

Our hero pulled to another ship, and found it equally deserted; but at
the third he found the second mate, with his arm in a sling, and from
him they gained the information that it was a great festival, being the
last day of the carnival; and that every one was thinking of nothing but
amusement.

"I've a notion," said the mate, in reply, "that you're American."

"You've guessed right," replied Jack.

"What ship, and from what port?"

"Rhode Island, the _Susan and Mary_," replied Gascoigne.

"I thought you were north.  We're of New York.  What news do you bring?"

"Nothing," replied he, "we are from Liverpool last."

A succession of questions was now put by the American mate, and answered
very skilfully by Gascoigne, who then inquired how the market was?

It was necessary to make and reply to all these inquiries before they
could ask apparently indifferent questions of American traders; at last
Gascoigne inquired:

"Do you think they would allow us to go on shore? the pratique boat has
not been on board."

"They'll never find you out if you are off before daylight; I doubt if
they know that you are anchored.  Besides, from Liverpool you would have
a clean bill of health, and if they found it out, they would not say
much; they're not over-particular, I've a notion."

"What are those vessels lying inshore?"

"I guess, they have olive oil on board, the chief on 'em.  But there are
two double lateens come in from Valparaiso the day before yesterday,
with hides and copper.  How they 'scaped the British, I can't tell, but
they did, that's sure enough."

"Good-night, then."

"You won't take a glass of sling this fine night, with a countryman?"

"To-morrow, my good fellow, to-morrow; we must go on shore now."

Our hero and Gascoigne returned on board the _Rebiera_, consulted with
Oxbelly and Mesty, and then manned and armed the two quarter and stern
boats.  They thought it advisable not to hoist out their long-boat; no
fire-arms were permitted to be taken lest, going off by accident or
otherwise, an alarm should be given.  Our hero and Mesty proceeded in
the first boat, and pulled in for the town; Gascoigne shortly after in
the second, and the boatswain, in the jolly-boat, followed at some
distance.

There was no notice taken of them; they pulled gently down to the
landing-place, which was deserted.  There was a blaze of light, and the
sounds of revelry in every quarter on shore; but the vessels appeared
equally deserted as the American ones in the offing.

Finding themselves unobserved, for they had taken the precaution to pull
only two oars in each boat, they dropped gently alongside one of the
double-masted lateen vessels, and Mesty stepped on board.  He peeped
down in the cabin, and perceived a man lying on the lockers; he came up
in his stealthy manner, closed the hatch softly, and said, "all right."
Jack left Gascoigne to take out this vessel, which he did very
successfully, for it was very dark; and although there were sentries
posted not far off, their eyes and ears were turned towards the town,
listening to the music.

A second vessel, her consort, was boarded in the same way, but here they
found a man on deck, whom they were obliged to seize and gag.  They put
him down in the cabin, and Mesty, with another boat's crew, cut her
cables and swept her gently out towards the American vessels.  One more
vessel was required, and Jack, pulling two oars as usual, saluted a
galliot heavily laden, but of what her cargo consisted was not known.
In this vessel they found two men in the cabin playing cards, whom they
seized and bound, and cutting her cables were obliged to make sail upon
her, as she was much too large to sweep out.  As they were making sail
they, however, met with an interruption which they did not expect.  The
crew belonging to the vessel, having had enough amusement for the
evening, and intending to sail the next morning, had thought it right to
come off sooner than the others: it was then about midnight or a little
later, and while some of Jack's men were aloft, for he had six with him,
Jack, to his annoyance, heard a boat coming off from the shore, the men
in her singing a chorus.  The galliot was at that time just under
steerage way, her topsail had been loosed and her jib hoisted, but the
former had not been sheeted home, for the three men below could not, in
the dark, find the ropes.  The other three men were on the foreyard
loosing the foresail, and Jack was undetermined whether to call them
down immediately or to allow them to loose the sail, and thus get good
way on the vessel, so as to prevent the boat, which was loaded with men,
from overtaking them.  The boat was not more than twenty yards from the
galliot, when, not finding her where they left her, they pulled to the
right and lay on their oars.  This gave a moment of time, but they very
soon spied her out.  "Carambo!" was the exclamation--and the head of the
boat was pulled round.

"Down, my lads, in a moment by the swifters," cried Jack.  "Here's a
boat on board of us."

The men were in a few seconds on deck, and the others, who had now
sheeted home the topsails, hastened aft.  The vessel soon gathered way,
but before that her way was sufficient, the boat had pulled under the
counter, and the Spaniards, letting their oars swing fore and aft, were
climbing up, their knives in their teeth.  A scuffle ensued, and they
were thrown down again, but they renewed their attempt.  Our hero,
perceiving a small water or wine cask lashed to the gunwale, cut it
loose with his cutlass, and, with one of the men who was by his side,
pushed it over, and dropped it into the boat.  It struck the gunwale,
stove a plank, and the boat began to fill rapidly; in the meantime the
galliot had gained way--the boat could not longer be held on, from its
weight, and dropped astern with the men in it.  Those who were half in
and half out were left clinging to the gunwale of the vessel, and as
they climbed up were secured and put down in the cabin.  Fortunately, no
fire-arms having been used on either side, the alarm was not given
generally, but the sentry reported fighting on board one of the vessels,
and the people of the guard-boat were collected, and pulled out; but
they only arrived in time to see that the galliot was under way, and
that the two other vessels from Valparaiso were not in their berths.

They hastened on shore, gave the alarm; the gunboats, of which there
were three at the mole, were ordered out, but half the crew and all the
officers were on shore, some at balls, others drinking at taverns or
posadas; before they could be collected all three vessels were alongside
of the _Rebiera_; and not aware that anything had been discovered, our
hero and his crew were lulled in security.  Jack had gone on board,
leaving fourteen of his men on board the galliot--Gascoigne had done the
same--Mesty still remained on board his vessel; and they were
congratulating themselves, and ordering the men on board to the
windlass, when they heard the sound of oars.

"Silence!--what is that?" exclaimed Oxbelly.  "The gun-boats or
row-boats, as sure as I'm alive!"

At this moment Mesty jumped up the side.

"Massa Easy, I hear row-boat not far off."

"So do we, Mesty.  Gascoigne, jump into the boat--tell the men in the
prizes to make all sail right out, and leave us to defend their
retreat--stay on board of one and divide your men."

"Dat all right, Massa Easy.--Mr Gascoigne, be smart--and now, sar, cut
cable and make sail; no time get up anchor."

This order was given, but although the men were aloft in a moment, and
very expeditious, as the _Rebiera_ payed her head round and the jib was
hoisted, they could perceive the boom of the three gun-boats pulling and
sailing not five cables' length from them.  Although rather
short-handed, topsails, courses, and top-gallant sails were soon set,
the men down to their quarters, and the guns cast loose, before the
gun-boats were close under their stern.  Then Jack rounded to, braced
up, and the _Rebiera_ stood across them to the westward.

"Why the devil don't they fire?" said Jack.

"I tink because they no ab powder," said Mesty.

Mesty was right--the ammunition chests of the gun-boats were always
landed when they were at the mole, in case of accidents, which might
arise from the crew being continually with cigars in their mouths, and
in the hurry they had quite forgotten to put them on board.

"At all events, we have powder," said Jack, "and now we'll prove it.
Grape and canister, my lads, and take good aim."

The commanders of the gun-boats had hailed each other, and agreed to
board the _Rebiera_, but she now had good way on her, and sailed faster
than they pulled.  A well-directed broadside astonished them--they had
no idea of her force; and the execution done was so great, that they
first lay on their oars and then pulled back to the mole with all speed,
leaving the _Rebiera_ in quiet possession of her prizes, which had
already gained two miles in the offing.

The _Rebiera_, as soon as Jack perceived that the gun-boats had
retreated, was put before the wind, and soon closed with her captures,
when she was hove-to till daylight with the three vessels in company.
Gascoigne returned on board, prize-masters were selected, and Jack
determined to keep them all with him, and take them to Palermo.



CHAPTER FORTY.

IN WHICH THERE IS ANOTHER SLIGHT DIFFERENCE OF OPINION BETWEEN THOSE WHO
SHOULD BE FRIENDS.

The two lateen vessels proved of considerable value, being laden with
copper, hides, and cochineal.  The galliot was laden with sweet oil, and
was also no despicable prize.  At daylight they were all ready, and, to
the mortification of the good people of Malaga, sailed away to the
eastward without interruption.

"Me tink we do dat job pretty well, Massa Easy," observed Mesty, as he
laid the breakfast table.

"Nothing like trying," replied Gascoigne; "I'm sure when we stood into
the bay I would have sold all my prize-money for a doubloon.  How do I
share, Jack?"

"Only as one of the crew, Ned, for you are a supernumerary, and our
articles and agreement for prize-money were signed previous to our
sailing."

"I ought to share with Mr Oxbelly's class by rights," replied
Gascoigne.  "That would be to take half my prize-money away.  I shall
want it all, Mr Gascoigne, to pacify my wife for giving her the slip."

"Ah, very well; I'll get all I can."

For ten days they ran down the coast, going much too fast for the wishes
of the crew, who were anxious to make more money.  They seized a fishing
boat and put on board of her the four prisoners, whom they had found in
the vessels, and arrived off Barcelona, without falling in with friend
or foe.  The next morning, the wind being very light, they discovered a
large vessel at daylight astern of them to the westward, and soon made
her out to be a frigate.  She made all sail in chase, but that gave them
very little uneasiness, as they felt assured that she was a British
cruiser.  One fear, however, came over them, that she would, if she came
up with them, impress a portion of their men.

"As certainly as I'm here, and Mrs Oxbelly's at Southsea," said
Oxbelly, "they'll take some of the men--the more so as, supposing us to
be a Spanish convoy, they will be disappointed."

"They will hardly take them out of the prizes," observed Easy.

"I don't know that; men must be had for his Majesty's service somehow.
It's not their fault, Mr Easy--the navy must be manned, and as things
are so, so things must be.  It's the king's prerogative, Mr Easy, and
we cannot fight the battles of the country without it."

"Yes," replied Gascoigne, "and although, as soon as the services of
seamen are no longer wanted, you find that there are demagogues on shore
who exclaim against impressment, they are quiet enough on the point when
they know that their lives and property depend upon sailors' exertions."

"Very true, Mr Gascoigne, but it's not our fault if we are obliged to
take men by force; it's the fault of those who do not legislate so as to
prevent the necessity.  Mrs Oxbelly used to say that she would easily
manage the matter if she were Chancellor of the Exchequer."

"I dare say Mrs Oxbelly would make a very good Chancellor of the
Exchequer," replied Gascoigne, smiling; "one thing is certain, that if
they gave the subject half the consideration they have others of less
magnitude, an arrangement might be made by which his Majesty's navy
would never be short of men."

"No doubt, no doubt, Mr Gascoigne; but nevertheless, the king's
prerogative must never be given up."

"Then I agree with you, Mr Oxbelly; it _must be held_ in case of sudden
emergency and absolute need."

"We'll argue that point by-and-bye," replied Jack; "now let us consult
as to our measures.  My opinion is, that if I made more sail we should
beat the frigate, but she would come up with the prizes."

"That's the best thing we can do, Mr Easy; but let us send a boat on
board of them, and take out all the men that can possibly be spared,
that there may be no excuse for impressing them."

"Yes," replied Gascoigne; "and as the wind is falling it is possible it
may fall calm, and they may send their boats; suppose we separate a mile
or two from each other."

"Dat very good advice, Massa Gascoigne," observed Mesty.

This plan was acted upon; only three men were left in the lateens, and
four in the galliot, and the vessels, in obedience to the orders,
sheered off on both sides of the _Rebiera_, who made all sail and
started ahead of the prizes.  This manoeuvre was perceived on board of
the frigate, and made them sure that it was a Spanish convoy attempting
to escape.  The fire-engine was got on deck, sails wetted, and every
exertion made to come up.  But about four o'clock in the afternoon, when
the frigate was eight or nine miles off, it fell calm, as Gascoigne had
predicted, and the heads of all the vessels, as well as the frigate,
were now round the compass.

"There's out boats," said Mr Oxbelly; "they will have a long pull, and
all for nothing."

"How savage they will be!" observed Gascoigne.

"Never mind that," replied Jack; "Mesty says that dinner is ready."

After dinner, they all went on deck, and found that the boats had
separated, one pulling for each of the prizes, and two for the
_Rebiera_.  In less than an hour they would probably be alongside.

"And now let us decide how we are to act.  We must not resist, if they
attempt to impress the men?"

"I've been thinking upon that matter, Mr Easy, and it appears to me
that the men must be permitted to act as they please, and that we must
be neuter.  I, as a lieutenant in his Majesty's service, cannot of
course act, neither can Mr Gascoigne.  You are not in the service, but
I should recommend you to do the same.  That the men have a right to
resist, if possible, is admitted; they always do so, and never are
punished for so doing.  Under the guns of the frigate, of course, we
should only have to submit; but those two boats do not contain more than
twenty-five men, I should think, and our men are the stronger party.  We
had better leave it to them, and stand neuter."

"Dat very good advice," said Mesty; "leab it to us;" and Mesty walked
away forward where the seamen were already in consultation.

Jack also agreed to the prudence of this measure, and he perceived that
the seamen, after a consultation with Mesty, were all arming themselves
for resistance.

The boats were now close on board, and English colours were hoisted at
the gaff.  This did not, however, check the impetus of the boats, which,
with their ensigns trailing in the still water astern of them, dashed
alongside, and an officer leaped on board, cutlass in hand, followed by
the seamen of the frigate.  The men of the _Rebiera_ remained collected
forward--Easy, Gascoigne, and Oxbelly aft.

"What vessel is this?" cried the lieutenant who commanded the boats.

Jack, with the greatest politeness, took off his hat, and told him that
it was the _Rebiera_ letter of marque, and that the papers were ready
for his inspection.

"And the other vessels?"

"Prizes to the _Rebiera_, cut out of Malaga Bay," replied Jack.

"Then you are a privateer," observed the disappointed officer.  "Where
are your papers?"

"Mr Oxbelly, oblige me by bringing them up," said Jack.

"Fat Jack of the bone house," observed the lieutenant, looking at
Oxbelly.

"A lieutenant in his Majesty's service, of longer standing than
yourself, young man," replied Oxbelly firmly;--"and who, if he ever
meets you in any other situation--will make you answer for your insolent
remark."

"Indeed!" observed the lieutenant ironically; "now, if you had said you
were once a boatswain or gunner."

"Consider yourself kicked," roared Oxbelly, losing his temper.

"Hey day! why, you old porpoise!"

"Sir," observed Jack, who listened with indignation, "Mr Oxbelly is a
lieutenant in his Majesty's service, and you have no right to insult
him, even if he were not."

"I presume you are all officers," replied the lieutenant.

"I am, sir," retorted Gascoigne, "an officer in his Majesty's service,
and on board of this vessel by permission of Captain Sawbridge of the
_Latona_."

"And I was, until a few months ago, sir," continued Jack; "at present I
am captain and owner of this vessel--but here are the papers.  You will
have no obstruction from us in the execution of your duty--at the same
time, I call upon the two young gentlemen by your side, and your own
men, to bear witness to what takes place."

"Oh, very well, sir--just as you please.  Your papers I perceive are all
right.  Now you will oblige me by mustering your men."

"Certainly, sir," replied Jack; "send all the men aft to muster, Mr
Oxbelly."

The men came aft to the mainmast, with Mesty at their head, and answered
to their names.  As the men passed over, the lieutenant made a
pencil-mark against ten of them, who appeared the finest seamen; and,
when the roll had been called, he ordered those men to get their bags
and go into the boat.

"Sir, as you must observe, I am short-handed, with my men away in
prizes; and I, as commander of this vessel, protest against this
proceeding: if you insist upon taking them, of course I can do nothing,"
observed Jack.

"I do insist, sir; I'm not going on board empty-handed, at all events."

"Well, sir, I can say no more," said Jack, walking aft to the taffrail,
to which Oxbelly and Gascoigne had retreated.

"Come, my lads, get those men in the boat," said the lieutenant.

But the men had all retreated forward in a body, with Mesty at their
head, and had armed themselves.  Some of the seamen of the frigate had
gone forward, in obedience to their officer, to lead the men selected
into the boat; but they were immediately desired to keep back.  The
scuffle forward attracted the notice of the lieutenant, who immediately
summoned all his men out of the boats.

"Mutiny, by heavens!  Come up, all of you, my lads."

Mesty then came forward, with a sabre in one hand and a pistol in the
other, and thus addressed the seamen of the frigate:

"I tell you dis, my lads--you not so strong as we--you not got better
arms--we not under gun of frigate now, and we ab determination not to go
board.  'Pose you want us, come take us--'pose you can.  By all de
power, but we make mince-meat of you, anyhow."

The seamen paused--they were ready to fight for their country, but not
to be killed by or kill those who were their own countrymen, and who
were doing exactly what they would have done themselves.  The lieutenant
thought otherwise; he was exasperated at this sensation.

"You black scoundrel, I left you out because I thought you not worth
having, but now I'll add you to the number."

"Stop a little," replied Mesty.

The lieutenant would not take the Ashantee's very prudent advice; he
flew forward to seize Mesty, who striking him a blow with the flat of
his sabre, almost levelled him to the deck.  At this the men and other
officers of the frigate darted forward; but after a short scuffle, in
which a few wounds were received, were beaten back into the boats.  The
lieutenant was thrown in after them, by the nervous arm of Mesty--and,
assailed by cold shot and other missiles, they sheered off with
precipitation, and pulled back in the direction of the frigate.

"There will be a row about this," said Oxbelly, "as soon as they come
clear of the vessel.  If the frigate gets hold of us she will show us no
mercy.  There is a breeze coming from the north-west.  How fortunate! we
shall be three leagues to windward, and may escape."

"I doubt if she could catch us at any point of sailing: they may come up
with the prizes, but can do nothing with them."

"No, the boats which boarded them are already returned to the frigate;
she must wait for them, and that will give us a start and it will be
night before they can even make sail."

"Fire a gun for the prizes to close," said Jack; "we will put the men on
board again, and then be off to Palermo as fast as we can."

"We can do no better," said Oxbelly.  "If ever I chance to meet that
fellow again, I will trouble him to repeat his words.  Trim the sails,
my lads."

"His language was unpardonable," observed Jack.

"Since I've been in the service, Mr Easy, I have always observed that
some officers appear to imagine that, because they are under the king's
pennant, they are warranted in insulting and tyrannising over all those
who have not the honour to hoist it; whereas the very fact of their
being king's officers should be an inducement to them to show an example
of courtesy and gentlemanly conduct in the execution of their duty,
however unpleasant it may be."

"It is only those who, insignificant themselves, want to make themselves
of importance by the pennant they serve under," replied our hero.

"Very true, Mr Easy; but you are not aware that a great part of the
ill-will shown to the service, is owing to the insolence of those young
men in office.  The king's name is a warrant for every species of
tyranny and unwarrantable conduct.  I remember Mrs Oxbelly telling one
of them, when--"

"I beg your pardon, Mr Oxbelly," interrupted Jack, "but we have no time
to chat now; the breeze is coming down fast, and I perceive the prizes
are closing.  Let us lower down the boat, send the men on board again,
and give them their orders--which I will do in writing, in case they
part company."

"Very true, sir.  It will be dark in half an hour, and as we are now
standing inshore, they will think that we intend to remain on the coast.
As soon as it is quite dark we will shape our course for Palermo.  I
will go down and look at the chart."



CHAPTER FORTY ONE.

WHICH WINDS UP THE NAUTICAL ADVENTURES OF MR. MIDSHIPMAN EASY.

In half an hour the prizes were again alongside, the men put on board,
and the boat hoisted up.  The frigate still remained becalmed to
leeward, and hoisted in her boats.  They watched until she was hid by
the shades of night, and then wearing round stood away, with the wind
two points free, for the coast of Sicily.  The next morning when the sun
rose there was nothing in sight.  Strange anomaly, in a state of high
civilisation, where you find your own countrymen avoided and more
dreaded than even your foes!

The run was prosperous, the weather was fine, and the prizes did not
part company.

On the sixteenth day the _Rebiera_ and her convoy anchored in Palermo
Bay.  The wind was light in the morning that they stood in, and as Jack
had a large blue flag with _Rebiera_ in white letters hoisted at the
main, Don Philip and Don Martin were on board and greeting our hero,
before the _Rebiera's_ anchor had plunged into the clear blue water.

The information which our hero received, after having been assured of
the health of Agnes and her parents, was satisfactory.  The
disappearance of the friar had, at first, occasioned much surprise;--but
as the servants of Don Rebiera swore to his return without the black,
and the letter of Don Rebiera, sent to the convent, requesting his
presence, was opened and read, there was no suspicion against the
family.  A hundred conjectures had been afloat, but gradually they had
subsided, and it was at last supposed that he had been carried off by
the banditti, some of whom had been taken, and acknowledged that they
had seized a friar on a day which they could not recollect.  The reader
will remember that it was Mesty.

The _Rebiera_ received pratique, and Jack hastened on shore with Don
Philip and his brother, and was once more in company of Agnes, who, in
our hero's opinion, had improved since his departure.  Most young men in
love think the same after an absence, provided it is not too long.  The
prizes were sold and the money distributed, and every man was satisfied,
as the cargoes fetched a larger sum than they had anticipated.

We must pass over the _pros_ and _cons_ of Don Rebiera and his lady, the
pleading of Jack for immediate nuptials, the unwillingness of the mother
to part with her only daughter, the family consultation, the dowry, and
all these particulars.  A month after his arrival Jack was married, and
was, of course, as happy as the day was long.

A few days afterwards, Mr Oxbelly advised departure, as the expenses of
the vessel were heavy, and it was his duty so to do.  Don Philip and Don
Martin obtained leave to go to England, with their sister and her
husband.  Nevertheless, Jack, who found Palermo a very pleasant
residence, was persuaded by the Don and his wife to remain there a
month, and then there was crying and sobbing, and embracing, and
embarking; and at last the _Rebiera_, whose cabins had been arranged for
the reception of the party, weighed and made sail for Malta, Jack having
promised to call upon the Governor.

In four days they anchored in Valette harbour, and Jack paid his
respects to his old friend, who was very glad to see him.  The Governor
sent his own barge for Mrs Easy, and she was installed in the state
apartments, which were acknowledged to be very comfortable.  Our hero
had, as usual, a long story to tell the Governor, and the Governor
listened to it very attentively, probably because he thought it would be
the last, which opportunity Jack employed to narrate the unfortunate end
of his father.

"I would not have said so at the time, Mr Easy, but now the wound is
healed, I tell you that it is the best thing that could have happened--
poor old gentleman! he was mad, indeed."

Our hero remained a fortnight at Malta, and then Signora Easy was
re-embarked, and once more the _Rebiera_ made sail.

"Fare you well, my lad; what I have seen of your brothers-in-law pleases
me much; and as for your wife, it will be your own fault if she is not
all that you would wish.  If ever I come to England again, I will pay my
first visit to Forest Hill.  God bless you!"

But Sir Thomas never did go back to England, and this was their final
adieu.  Once more the _Rebiera_ pursued her course, stopped a day or two
at Gibraltar, shared the proceeds of the captured gun-boat, and then
made sail for England, where she arrived without adventure or accident
in three weeks.

Thus ended the last cruise of Mr Midshipman Easy.  As soon as their
quarantine at the Mother-bank was over, they disembarked, and found Dr
Middleton and Mr Hanson waiting for them at the George Hotel.  Our hero
had scarcely time to introduce his wife, when the waiter said that a
lady wished to speak to him.  She did not wait to know if Jack was
visible, but forced her way past him.  Jack looked at her large
proportions, and decided at once that it must be Mrs Oxbelly, in which
conjecture he was right.

"Pray, sir, what do you mean by carrying off my husband in that way?"
exclaimed the lady, red with anger.

"God forbid that I should have to carry your husband, Mrs Oxbelly; he
is rather too heavy."

"Yes, sir, but it's little better than kidnapping, and there's a law for
kidnapping children at all events.  I shall send my lawyer to you, that
you may depend upon."

"You hardly can consider your husband as a child, Mrs Oxbelly," replied
Jack, laughing.

"Very well, sir, we shall see.  Pray, where is he now?"

"He is on board, Mrs Oxbelly, and will be delighted to see you."

"I'm not quite so sure of that."

"He's very anxious to see little Billy," said Gascoigne.

"What do you know of little Billy, young man?"

"And more than anxious to be on shore again.  He's quite tired of
sleeping single, Mrs Oxbelly."

"Ah, very well, he has been talking, has he? very well," exclaimed the
lady in a rage.

"But," said Easy, "I am happy to say that, with pay and prize-money,
during his short absence, he has brought home nearly five hundred
pounds."

"Five hundred pounds--you don't say so, sir?" exclaimed Mrs Oxbelly;
"are you sure of that?"

"Quite sure," rejoined Gascoigne.

"Five hundred pounds!--Well, that is comfortable--dear me! how glad I
shall be to see him!  Well, Mr Easy, it was hard to part with him in so
unhandsome a way--but all's for the best in this world.  What a dear,
nice lady your wife is, Mr Easy--but I won't intrude--I beg pardon.
Where is the brig, Mr Easy?"

"Now coming into the harbour," replied Gascoigne: "if you bargain you
can get off for twopence."

"Five hundred pounds!" exclaimed Mrs Oxbelly, whose wrath was now
appeased.

"By all power, she no fool of a woman dat," said Mesty, as she retreated
curtseying; "I tink Mr Oxbelly very right sleep tingle."

We have now come to the end of our hero's adventures; that afternoon
they all started for Forest Hill, where everything was ready for their
reception.  The _Rebiera's_ men were paid off, and were soon distributed
on board of his Majesty's ships; the vessel was sold, and Mr Oxbelly
retired to Southsea, to the society of his wife and little Billy.
Whether he obtained from his wife a divorce _de thoro_, is not handed
down.

Our hero, who was now of age, invited all within twenty miles of home to
balls and dinners; became a great favourite, kept a pack of hounds, rode
with the foremost, received a deputation to stand for the county on the
conservative interest, was elected without much expense, which was very
wonderful, and took his seat in parliament.  Don Philip and Don Martin,
after two months' stay, took their passage back to Palermo, fully
satisfied with the prospects of their sister as to competence and
happiness.  Jack had no occasion to argue the point with Agnes; she
conformed at once to the religion of her husband, proved an excellent
and affectionate wife, and eventually the mother of four children, three
boys and a girl.

Mesty held his post with dignity, and proved himself trustworthy.
Gascoigne, by the interest of the conservative member, soon obtained the
rank of post-captain, and was always his devoted and sincere friend.
And thus ends the history of Mr Midshipman Easy.





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