Home
  By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon


We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

´╗┐Title: Percival Keene
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 "Percival Keene" ***

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



Percival Keene, by Captain Marryat.

________________________________________________________________________

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.

"Percival Keene" was published in 1842, the nineteenth 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.

________________________________________________________________________

PERCIVAL KEENE, BY CAPTAIN FREDERICK MARRYAT.



CHAPTER ONE.

A few miles from the town of Southampton there is an old mansion-house,
which has been for centuries known as Madeline Hall, in the possession
of the de Versely family.  It is a handsome building, surrounded by a
finely timbered park of some extent, and, what is more important, by
about 12,000 acres of land, which also appertain to it.  At the period
in which I commence this history, there resided in this mansion an
elderly spinster of rank, named the Honourable Miss Delmar, sister of
the late Lord de Versely and aunt to the present earl, and an Honourable
Captain Delmar, who was the second son of the deceased nobleman.  This
property belonged to the Honourable Miss Delmar, and was at her entire
disposal upon her decease.

The Honourable Captain Delmar, at the time I am speaking of, commanded a
frigate employed upon what was designated channel service, which in
those days implied that the captain held a seat in the House of Commons
and that he voted with the ministry; and further, that his vote might,
when required, be forthcoming, the frigate was never sea-going, except
during the recess.  It must be admitted that H.M. ship Paragon did
occasionally get under weigh and remain cruising in sight of land for
two or three days, until the steward reported that the milk provided for
the captain's table was turning sour; upon which important information
the helm was immediately put up, and the frigate, in a case of such
extreme distress, would drop her anchor at the nearest port under her
lee.  Now as the Paragon was constantly at Spithead, Captain Delmar was
very attentive in visiting his aunt, who lived at Madeline Hall;
ill-natured people asserted, because she had so fine an estate in her
own gift.  Certain it is, that he would remain there for weeks, which
gave great satisfaction to the old lady, who liked her nephew, liked
attention, and was even so peculiar as to like sailors.  But it must be
observed that there was another person at the mansion who also liked the
captain, liked attention, and liked sailors; this was Miss Arabella
Mason, a very pretty young woman of eighteen years of age, who
constantly looked in the glass merely to ascertain if she had ever seen
a face which she preferred to her own, and who never read any novel
without discovering that there was a remarkable likeness between the
heroine and her pretty self.

Miss Arabella Mason was the eldest daughter of the steward of the old
Lord de Versely, brother to the Honourable Miss Delmar, and was much
respected by his lordship for his fidelity and his knowledge of
business, in the transaction of which he fell, for he was felling trees,
and a tree fell upon him.  He left a widow and two daughters: it was
said that at his death Mrs Mason was not badly off, as her husband had
been very careful of his earnings.  Mrs Mason, however, did not
corroborate this statement; on the contrary, she invariably pleaded
poverty; and the Honourable Miss Delmar, after Lord de Versely's death--
which happened soon after that of his steward--sent both the daughters
to be educated at a country school, where, as everything that is taught
is second-rate, young ladies, of course, receive a second-rate
education.  Mrs Mason was often invited by the Honourable Miss Delmar
to spend a month at Madeline Hall, and used to bring her eldest
daughter, who had left school, with her.  Latterly, however, the
daughter remained as a fixture, and Mrs Mason received but an
occasional invitation.  It may be inquired in what capacity Miss
Arabella Mason remained at the Hall; she was not a servant, for her
position in life was above that of a menial; neither was she received
altogether in the saloon, as she was of too humble a grade to mix with
gentry and nobility; she was, therefore, betwixt and between, a sort of
humble companion in the drawing-room, a cut above the housekeeper in the
still-room, a fetcher and carrier of the honourable spinster's wishes, a
sort of link between the aristocratic old dame and her male attendants,
towards whom she had a sort of old maidish aversion.  However this
position might be found useful to her mistress, it must be admitted that
it was a most unfortunate position for a young, thoughtless, and very
pretty girl, moreover, who was naturally very lively, very smart in
repartee, and very fond of being admired.

As the Honourable Captain Delmar was very constant in his visits to his
aunt, it was but natural that he should pay some little attention to her
humble companion.  By degrees the intimacy increased, and at last there
were reports in the servants' hall, that the captain and Miss Bella
Mason had been seen together in the evergreen walk; and as the captain's
visits were continually repeated during the space of two years so did
the scandal increase, and people became more ill-natured.  It was now
seen that Miss Bella had been very often found in tears, and the old
butler and the older housekeeper shook their heads at each other like
responsive mandarins; the only person who was ignorant of the scandal
afloat was the old lady spinster herself.

I must now introduce another personage.  The Honourable Captain Delmar
did not, of course, travel without his valet, and this important
personage had been selected out of the marine corps which had been
drafted into the frigate.  Benjamin Keene, for such was his name, was
certainly endowed with several qualities which were indispensable in a
valet; he was very clean in his person, very respectful in his
deportment, and, after the sovereign of Great Britain, looked upon the
Honourable Captain Delmar as the greatest person in the world.
Moreover, Benjamin Keene, although only a private marine was, without
exception, one of the handsomest men that ever was seen and being
equally as well made and well drilled as he was handsome in person, he
was the admiration of all the young women.  But Nature, who delights in
a drawback, had contrived to leave him almost without brains; and
further, he was wholly uneducated--for he was too stupid to learn--his
faculties were just sufficient to enable him, by constant drilling, to
be perfect in the manual exercise, and mechanically to perform his
duties as a valet.

Ben always accompanied his master to the hall, where the former was at
one and the same time the admiration and laughter of all the servants.
It hardly need be observed, that the clever and sprightly Miss Arabella
Mason considered Ben as one much beneath her, that is, she said so on
his first arrival at Madeline hall; but, strange to say, that two years
afterwards, just at the time that reports had been raised that she had
been frequently discovered in tears, there was a change in her manner
towards him; indeed some people insinuated that she was setting her cap
at the handsome marine: this idea, it is true, was ridiculed by the
majority; but still the intimacy appeared rapidly to increase.  It was
afterwards asserted by those who find out everything after it has taken
place, that Ben would never have ventured to look up to such an unequal
match had he not been prompted to it by his master, who actually
proposed that he should marry the girl.  That such was the fact is
undoubted, although they knew it not; and Ben, who considered the wish
of his captain as tantamount to an order, as soon as he could comprehend
what his captain required of him, stood up erect and raised his hand
with a flourish to his head, in token of his obedience.  Shortly
afterwards, Captain Delmar again came over to Madeline Hall, accompanied
as usual, by Ben, and the second day after their arrival it was made
known to all whom it might concern, that Miss Arabella Mason had
actually contracted a secret marriage with the handsome Benjamin Keene.

Of course, the last person made acquainted with this interesting
intelligence was the Honourable Miss Delmar, and her nephew took upon
himself to make the communication.  At first the honourable spinster
bridled up with indignation, wondered at the girl's indelicacy, and much
more at her demeaning herself by marrying a private marine.  Captain
Delmar replied, that it was true that Ben was only a private, but that
every common soldier was a gentleman by profession.  It was true that
Bella Mason might have done better--but she was his aunt's servant, and
Keene was his valet, so that the disparity was not so very great.  He
then intimated that he had long perceived the growing attachment; talked
of the danger of young people being left so much together; hinted about
opportunity, and descanted upon morals and propriety.  The Honourable
Miss Delmar was softened down by the dexterous reasoning of her nephew;
she was delighted to find so much virtue extant in a sailor; and, after
an hour's conversation, the married couple were sent for, graciously
pardoned, and Mrs Keene, after receiving a very tedious lecture,
received a very handsome present.  But if her mistress was appeased,
Mrs Keene's mother was not.  As soon as the intelligence was received,
old Mrs Mason set off for Madeline Hall.  She first had a closeted
interview with her daughter, and then with Captain Delmar, and as soon
as the latter was over, she immediately took her departure, without
paying her respects to the mistress of the Hall, or exchanging one word
with any of the servants; this conduct gave occasion to more
innuendoes--some indeed ascribed her conduct to mortification at her
daughter's having made so imprudent a match, but others exchanged very
significant glances.

Three weeks after the marriage, the Parliament having been prorogued,
the admiral of the port considered that he was justified in ordering the
frigate out on a cruise.  Ben Keene, of course accompanied his master,
and it was not until three months had passed away that the frigate
returned into port.  As usual, the Honourable Captain Delmar, as soon as
he had paid his respects to the admiral, set off to visit his aunt,
accompanied by his benedict marine.  On his arrival, he found that
everything appeared to be in great confusion; indeed an event was
occurring which had astonished the whole household; the butler made a
profound bow to the captain; the footmen forgot their usual smirk when
he alighted.  Captain Delmar was ushered in solemn silence into the
drawing-room, and his aunt, who had notice of his arrival received him
with a stiff, prim air of unwonted frigidity, with her arms crossed
before her on her white muslin apron.

"My dear aunt," said Captain Delmar, as she coldly took his proffered
hand, "what is the matter?"

"The matter is this, nephew," replied the old lady--"that marriage of
your marine and Bella Mason should have taken place six months sooner
than it did.  This is a wicked world, nephew; and sailors, I'm afraid,
are--"

"Marines, you should say, in this instance, my dear aunt," replied
Captain Delmar, insinuatingly.  "I must confess that neither sailors nor
marines are quite so strict as they ought to be; however, Ben has
married her.  Come, my dear aunt, allow me to plead for them, although I
am very much distressed that such an event should take place in your
house.  I think," added he, after a pause, "I shall give Mr Keene seven
dozen at the gangway, for his presumption, as soon as I return on
board."

"That won't mend the matter, nephew," replied Miss Delmar.  "I'll turn
her out of the house as soon as she can be moved."

"And I'll flog him as soon as I get him on board," rejoined the captain.
"I will not have your feelings shocked, and your mind harassed in this
way, by any impropriety on the part of my followers--most infamous--
shameful--abominable--unpardonable," interjected the captain, walking
the quarter-deck up and down the room.

The Honourable Miss Delmar continued to talk, and the honourable captain
to agree with her in all she said, for an hour at least.  When people
are allowed to give vent to their indignation without the smallest
opposition they soon talk it away; such was the case with the Honourable
Miss Delmar.  When it was first announced that Bella Keene was safely in
bed with a fine boy, the offended spinster turned away from the
communication with horror; when her own maid ventured to remark that it
was a lovely baby, she was ordered to hold her tongue; she would not see
the suffering mother, and the horrid marine was commanded to stay in the
kitchen, lest she should be contaminated by meeting him on the stairs;
but every day softened down her indignation, and before a fortnight was
over the Honourable Miss Delmar had not only seen but admired the baby;
and at last decided upon paying a visit to the mother, who was now
sufficiently recovered to undergo a lecture of about two hours' length,
in which the honourable spinster commented upon her _in_decency,
_in_discretion, _in_considerateness, _in_correctness, _in_decorum,
_in_continence, and _in_delicacy; pointing out that her conduct was most
inexcusable, iniquitous, and most infamous.  The Honourable Miss Delmar
having had such a long innings then gave it up, because she was out of
breath.  Bella, who waited patiently to make her response, and who was a
very clever girl, then declared, with many tears, that she was aware
that her conduct was _in_excusable, her faults had been _in_voluntary,
and her sorrow was _in_expressible; her _in_experience and her
_in_fatuation her only apology; that her _in_felicity at her mistress's
displeasure would _in_evitably increase her sufferings; assured her that
she was not _in_corrigible, and that if her mistress would only indulge
her with forgiveness, as she hoped to _in_herit heaven she would never
_in_cur her anger by committing the same fault again.  Satisfied with
this assurance, the Honourable Miss Delmar softened down, and not only
forgave, but actually took the child into her lap that Bella might read
the Bible which she had presented her with.  Reader, the child who had
this great honour conferred upon him, who actually laid in the
immaculate lap, on the apron of immaculate snowy whiteness of the
immaculate Honourable Miss Delmar, was no other person than the narrator
of this history--or, if you please it, the Hero of this Tale.

That my mother had so far smoothed things pretty well must be
acknowledged; but it was to be presumed that her husband might not be
pleased at so unusual an occurrence, and already the sneers and
innuendoes of the servants' hall were not wanting.  It appeared,
however, that an interview had taken place between Ben and Captain
Delmar shortly after my making my appearance: what occurred did not
transpire, but this is certain that, upon the marine's return to the
kitchen, one of the grooms, who ventured to banter him, received such a
sound thrashing from Ben that it put an end to all further joking.  As
Ben had taken up the affair so seriously, it was presumed that if there
had been anticipation of the hymeneal rites he was himself the party who
had been hasty; and that now he was married, he was resolved to resent
any impertinent remarks upon his conduct.  At all events, the question
now became one of less interest, as the scandal was of less importance;
and as Ben had made known his determination to resent any remarks upon
the subject, not a word more was said, at all events when he was
present.

In due time I was christened, and so completely was my mother
reinstalled in the good graces of her mistress, that as Captain Delmar
had volunteered to stand my sponsor, the Honourable Miss Delmar gave the
necessary female security; at the particular request of my mother, the
captain consented that I should bear his own Christian name, and I was
duly registered in the church books as Percival Keene.



CHAPTER TWO.

There is no security in this world.  A dissolution of Parliament took
place, and on the following election the Honourable Captain Delmar's
constituents, not being exactly pleased at the total indifference which
he had shown to their interests, took upon themselves to elect another
member in his stead, who, as Captain Delmar had previously done,
promised everything, and in all probability would follow the honourable
captain's example by performing nothing.  The loss of his election was
followed up by the loss of his ship, his majesty's government not
considering it necessary that Captain Delmar (now that he had leisure to
attend to his professional duties) should retain his command.  The
frigate, therefore, was paid off, and recommissioned by another captain
who had friends in Parliament.

As Ben Keene belonged to the marine corps, he could not, of course,
remain as valet to Captain Delmar, but was ordered, with the rest of the
detachment, to the barracks at Chatham; my mother, although she was
determined that she would not live at barracks, was not sorry to leave
the Hall, where she could not fail to perceive that she was, from her
imprudent conduct, no longer treated with the respect or cordiality to
which she had been previously accustomed.  She was most anxious to quit
a place in which her disgrace was so well known; and Captain Delmar
having given her his advice, which coincided with her own ideas, and
also a very munificent present to enable her to set up housekeeping,
took his departure from the Hall.  My mother returned to her room as the
wheels of his carriage rattled over the gravel of the drive, and many
were the bitter tears which she shed over her unconscious boy.

The following day the Honourable Miss Delmar sent for her; as usual,
commenced with a tedious lecture, which, as before, was wound up at
parting with a handsome present.  The day after my mother packed up her
trunks, and with me in her arms set off to Chatham, where we arrived
safely, and immediately went into furnished lodgings.  My mother was a
clever, active woman, and the presents which she had at different times
received amounted to a considerable sum of money, over which her husband
had never ventured to assert any claim.

Indeed, I must do Ben Keene the justice to say that he had the virtue of
humility.  He felt that his wife was in every way his superior and that
it was only under peculiar circumstances that he could have aspired to
her.  He was, therefore, submissive to her in everything, consenting to
every proposal that was made by her, and guided by her opinion.  When,
therefore, on her arrival at Chatham, she pointed out how impossible it
would be for one brought up as she had been to associate with the women
in the barracks, and that she considered it advisable that she should
set up some business by which she might gain a respectable livelihood,
Ben, although he felt that this would be a virtual separation _a mensa
et thoro_, named no objections.  Having thus obtained the consent of her
husband, who considered her so much his superior as to be infallible, my
mother, after much cogitation, resolved that she would embark her
capital in a circulating library and stationer's shop; for she argued
that selling paper, pens, and sealing-wax was a commerce which would
secure to her customers of the better class.  Accordingly, she hired a
house close to the barracks, with a very good-sized shop below, painting
and papering it very smartly; there was much taste in all her
arrangements, and although the expenses of the outlay and the first
year's rent had swallowed up a considerable portion of the money she had
laid by, it soon proved that she had calculated well, and her shop
became a sort of lounge for the officers, who amused themselves with her
smartness and vivacity, the more so as she had a talent for repartee,
which men like to find in a very pretty woman.

In a short time my mother became quite the rage, and it was a mystery
how so pretty and elegant a person could have become the wife of a
private marine.  It was however, ascribed to her having been captivated
with the very handsome person and figure of her husband, and having
yielded to her feelings in a moment of infatuation.  The ladies
patronised her circulating library; the officers and gentlemen purchased
her stationery.  My mother then added gloves, perfumery, canes, and
lastly cigars, to her previous assortment and before she had been a year
in business, found that she was making money very fast, and increasing
her customers every day.  My mother had a great deal of tact; with the
other sex she was full of merriment and fond of joking, consequently a
great favourite; towards her own sex her conduct was quite the reverse;
she assumed a respectful, prudish air, blended with a familiarity which
was never offensive; she was, therefore, equally popular with her own
sex, and prospered in every sense of the word.  Had her husband been the
least inclined to have asserted his rights, the position which she had
gained was sufficient to her reducing him to a state of subjection.  She
had raised herself, unaided, far above him; he saw her continually
chatting and laughing with his own officers, to whom he was compelled to
make a respectful salute whenever they passed by him; he could not
venture to address her, or even to come into the shop, when his officers
were there, or it would have been considered disrespectful towards them;
and as he could not sleep out of barracks, all his intercourse with her
was to occasionally slink down by the area, to find something better to
eat than he could have in his own mess, or obtain from her an occasional
shilling to spend in beer.  Ben, the marine, found at last that somehow
or another, his wife had slipped out of his hands; that he was nothing
more than a pensioner on her bounty a slave to her wishes, and a fetcher
and carrier at her command, and he resigned himself quietly to his fate,
as better men have done before.



CHAPTER THREE.

I think that the reader will agree with me that my mother showed in her
conduct great strength of character.  She had been compelled to marry a
man whom she despised, and to whom she felt herself superior in every
respect; she had done so to save her reputation.  That she had been in
error is true but situation and opportunity had conspired against her;
and when she found out the pride and selfishness of the man to whom she
was devoted, and for whom she had sacrificed so much,--when her ears
were wounded by proposals from his lips that she should take such a step
to avoid the scandal arising from their intimacy--when at the moment
that he made such a proposition, and the veil fell down and revealed the
heart of man in its selfishness, it is not to be wondered that, with
bitter tears, arising from wounded love, anger, and despair at her
hopeless position, she consented.  After having lost all she valued,
what did she care for the future?  It was but one sacrifice more to
make, one more proof of her devotion and obedience.  But there are few
women who, like my mother, would have recovered her position to the
extent that she did.  Had she not shown such determination, had she
consented to have accompanied her husband to the barracks, and have
mixed up with the other wives of the men, she would have gradually sunk
down to their level; to this she could not consent.  Having once freed
herself from her thraldom, he immediately sunk down to his level, as she
rose up to a position in which, if she could not ensure more than
civility and protection, she was at all events secure from insult and
ill-treatment.

Such was the state of affairs when I had arrived at the important age of
six years, a comic-looking, laughing urchin, petted by the officers, and
as fall of mischief as a tree full of monkeys.  My mother's business had
so much increased, that, about a year previous to this date, she had
found it necessary to have some one to assist her, and had decided upon
sending for her sister Amelia to live with her.  It was, however,
necessary to obtain her mother's consent.  My grandmother had never seen
my mother since the interview which she had had with her at Madeline
Hall shortly after her marriage with Ben the marine.  Latterly, however,
they had corresponded; for my mother, who was too independent to seek
her mother when she was merely the wife of a private marine, now that
she was in flourishing circumstances had first tendered the olive
branch, which had been accepted, as soon as my grandmother found that
she was virtually separated from her husband.  As my grandmother found
it rather lonely at the isolated house in which she resided, and Amelia
declared herself bored to death, it was at last agreed that my
grandmother and my aunt Amelia should both come and take up their
residence with my mother, and in due time they arrived.  Milly, as my
aunt was called, was three years younger than my mother, very pretty and
as smart as her sister, perhaps a little more demure in her look, but
with more mischief in her disposition.  My grandmother was a cross,
spiteful old woman; she was very large in her person, but very
respectable in her appearance.  I need not say that Miss Amelia did not
lessen the attraction at the circulating library, which after her
arrival was even more frequented by the officers than before.

My aunt Milly was very soon as fond of me as I was of mischief; indeed
it is not to be wondered at, for I was a type of the latter.  I soon
loved her better than my mother, for she encouraged me in all my tricks.
My mother looked grave, and occasionally scolded me; my grandmother
slapped me hard and rated me continually; but reproof or correction from
the two latter were of no avail; and the former, when she wished to play
any trick which she dared not do herself, employed me as her agent; so
that I obtained the whole credit for what were her inventions, and I may
safely add, underwent the whole blame and punishment; but that I cared
nothing for; her caresses, cakes, and sugar-plums, added to my natural
propensity, more than repaid me for the occasional severe rebukes of my
mother, and the vindictive blows I received from the long fingers of my
worthy grandmother.  Moreover, the officers took much notice of me, and
it must be admitted, that, although I positively refused to learn my
letters, I was a very forward child.  My great patron was a Captain
Bridgeman, a very thin, elegantly-made man, who was continually
performing feats of address and activity; occasionally I would escape
with him and go down to the mess, remain at dinner, drink toasts, and,
standing on the mess-table, sing two or three comic songs which he had
taught me.  I sometimes returned a little merry with the bumpers, which
made my mother very angry, my old grandmother to hold up her hands, and
look at the ceiling through her spectacles, and my aunt Milly as merry
as myself.  Before I was eight years old, I had become so notorious,
that any prank played in the town, any trick undiscovered, was
invariably laid to my account; and many were the applications made to my
mother for indemnification for broken windows and other damage done, too
often, I grant, with good reason, but very often when I had been
perfectly innocent of the misdemeanour.  At last I was voted a common
nuisance, and every one, except my mother and my aunt Milly, declared
that it was high time that I went to school.

One evening the whole of the family were seated at tea in the back
parlour.  I was sitting very quietly and demurely in a corner, a sure
sign that I was in mischief, and so indeed I was (for I was putting a
little gunpowder into my grandmother's snuff-box, which I had purloined,
just that she might "smell powder," as they say at sea, without danger
of life or limb), when the old woman addressed my mother--

"Bella, is that boy never going to school? it will be the ruin of him."

"What will be the ruin of him, mother?" rejoined my aunt Milly; "going
to school?"

"Hold your nonsense, child: you are as bad as the boy himself," replied
granny.  "Boys are never ruined by education; girls sometimes are."

Whether my mother thought that this was an innuendo reflecting upon any
portion of her own life, I cannot tell; but she replied very tartly.

"You're none the worse for my education, mother, or you would not be
sitting here."

"Very true, child," replied granny; "but recollect, neither would you
have married a marine--a private marine, Bella, while your sister looks
up to the officers.  Ay," continued the old woman, leaving off her
knitting and looking at her daughter, "and is likely to get one, too, if
she plays her cards well--that Lieutenant Flat can't keep out of the
shop."  (My granny having at this moment given me an opportunity to
replace her snuff-box, I did not fail to profit by it; and as I
perceived her knitting-pin had dropped on the floor, I stuck it into the
skirt of her gown behind, so that whenever she looked for it, it was
certain ever to be behind her.)

"Mr Flat is of a very respectable family, I hear say," continued my
grandmother.

"And a great fool," interrupted my mother.  "I hope Milly won't listen
to him."

"He's an officer," replied my granny, "not a private."

"Well, mother, I prefer my private marine, for I can make him do as I
please; if he's a private, I'm commanding officer, and intend so to be
as long as I live."

"Well, well, Bella, let us say no more on the old score; but that boy
must go to school.  Deary me, I have dropped my needle."

My grandmother rose, and turned round and round, looking for her needle,
which, strange to say, she could not find; she opened her snuff-box, and
took a pinch to clear her optics.  "Deary me, why, what's the matter
with my snuff? and where can that needle be?  Child, come and look for
the needle; don't be sticking there in that corner."

I thought proper to obey the order and pretended to be very diligent in
my search.  Catching aunt Milly's eye, I pointed to the knitting-needle
sticking in the hind skirts of my grandmother's gown, and then was down
on my knees again, while my aunt held her handkerchief to her mouth to
check her laughter.

A minute afterwards, Ben the marine first tapped gently, and then opened
the door and came in; for at that late hour the officers were all at
dinner, and the shop empty.

"There are three parcels of books for you to take," said my mother; "but
you've plenty of time, so take down the tea-things, and get your tea in
the kitchen before you go."

"You haven't got a shilling, Bella, about you?  I want some 'baccy,"
said Ben, in his quiet way.

"Yes, here's a shilling, Ben; but don't drink too much beer," replied my
mother.

"Deary me, what can have become of my needle?" exclaimed my grandmother,
turning round.

"Here it is, ma'am," said Ben, who perceived it sticking in her skirt.
"That's Percival's work, I'll answer for it."

My granny received the needle from Ben, and then turned to me: "You
good-for-nothing boy; so you put the needle there, did you? pretending
to look for it all the while; you shall go to school, sir, that you
shall."

"You said a needle, granny; I was looking for a needle: you didn't say
your knitting-pin; I could have told you where that was."

"Yes, yes, those who hide can find; to school you go, or I'll not stay
in the house."

Ben took the tea-tray out of the room.  He had been well drilled in and
out of barracks.

"I'll go down in the kitchen to father," cried I, for I was tired of
sitting still.

"No, you won't, sir," said my mother, "you naughty boy; the kitchen is
not the place for you, and if ever I hear of you smoking a pipe again--"

"Captain Bridgeman smokes," replied I.

"Yes, sir, he smokes cigars; but a child like you must not smoke a
pipe."

"And now come here, sir," said my granny, who had the lid of her
snuff-box off, and held it open in her hand; "what have you been doing
with my snuff?"

"Why, granny, have I had your snuff-box the whole day?"

"How should I know?--a boy like you, with every finger a fish-hook; I do
believe you have; I only wish I could find you out.  I had fresh snuff
this morning."

"Perhaps they made a mistake at the shop, mother," said aunt Milly;
"they are very careless."

"Well, I can't tell: I must have some more; I can't take this."

"Throw it in the fire, granny," said I; "and I'll run with the box and
get it full again."

"Well, I suppose it's the best thing I can do," replied the old woman,
who went to the grate, and leaning over, poured the snuff out on the
live coals.  The result was a loud explosion and a volume of smoke,
which burst out of the grate into her face--the dinner and lappets
singed, her spectacles lifted from her nose, and her face as black as a
sweep's.  The old woman screamed, and threw herself back; in so doing,
she fell over the chair upon which she had been sitting, and, somehow or
another, tripped me up, and lay with all her weight upon me.  I had been
just attempting to make my escape during the confusion--for my mother
and Milly were equally frightened--when I found myself completely
smothered by the weight of my now almost senseless granny, and, as I
have before mentioned, she was a very corpulent woman.  Had I been in
any other position I should not have suffered so much; but I had
unfortunately fallen flat on my back, and was now lying with my face
upwards, pressed upon by the broadest part of the old woman's body; my
nose was flattened, and my breath completely stopped.  How long my
granny might have remained there groaning I cannot tell; probably, as I
was somewhat a spoiled child before this, it might have ended in her
completely finishing me; but she was roused up from her state of half
syncope by a vigorous attack from my teeth, which, in the agony of
suffocation, I used with preternatural force of jaw from one so young.
I bit right through everything she had on, and as my senses were fast
departing, my teeth actually met with my convulsive efforts.  My granny,
roused by the extreme pain, rolled over on her side, and then it was
that my mother and aunt, who supposed that I had made my escape from the
room, discovered me lifeless, and black in the face.  They ran to me,
but I still held on with my teeth, nor could I be separated from my now
screaming relative, until the admission of fresh air, and a plentiful
sprinkling of cold water brought me to my senses, when I was laid on the
sofa utterly exhausted.  It certainly was a narrow escape, and it may be
said that the "biter was nearly bit."  As for my granny, she recovered
her fright and her legs, but she did not recover her temper; she could
not sit down without a pillow on the chair for many days, and, although
little was said to me in consequence of the danger I had incurred, yet
there was an evident abhorrence of me on the part of the old woman, a
quiet manner about my mother, and a want of her usual hilarity on the
part of my aunt, which were to me a foreboding of something unpleasant.
A few days brought to light what was the result of various whisperings
and consultations.  It was on a fine Monday morning, that Ben made his
appearance at an unusually early hour; my cap was put on my head, my
cloak over my shoulders; Ben took me by the hand, having a covered
basket in the other, and I was led away like a lamb to the butcher.  As
I went out there was a tear in the eyes of my aunt Milly, a melancholy
over the countenance of my mother, and a twinkling expression of
satisfaction in my grandmother's eyes, which even her spectacles could
not conceal from me: the fact was, my grandmother had triumphed, and I
was going to school.



CHAPTER FOUR.

As soon as I was clear of the door, I looked up into Ben's face and
said, "Father, where are we going?"

"Well," replied he, "I am going to take you to school."

"School!  What am I going to school for?" replied I.

"For biting your grandmother, I expect, in the first place, and to get a
little learning, and a good deal of flogging, if what they say is true!
I never was at school myself."

"What do you learn, and why are you flogged?"

"You learn to read, and to write, and to count; I can't do either--
more's the pity; and you are flogged, because without flogging, little
boys can't learn anything."

This was not a very satisfactory explanation.  I made no further
inquiries, and we continued our way in silence until we arrived at the
school door; there was a terrible buzz inside.  Ben tapped, the door
opened, and a volume of hot air burst forth, all the fresh air having
been consumed in repeating the fresh lessons for the day.  Ben walked up
between the forms, and introduced me to the schoolmaster, whose name was
Mr Thadeus O'Gallagher, a poor scholar from Ireland, who had set up an
establishment at half-a-guinea a quarter for day scholars; he was
reckoned a very severe master, and the children were kept in better
order in his school than in any other establishment of the kind in the
town; and I presume that my granny had made inquiries to that effect, as
there were one or two schools of the same kind much nearer to my
mother's house.  Ben, who probably had a great respect for learning, in
consequence of his having none himself, gave a military salute to Mr
O'Gallagher, saying, with his hand still to his hat, "A new boy, sir,
come to school."

"Oh, by the powers! don't I know him?" cried Mr O'Gallagher; "it's the
young gentleman who bit a hole in his grandmother; Master Keene, as they
call him.  Keen teeth, at all events.  Lave him with me; and that's his
dinner in the basket I presume; lave that too.  He'll soon be a good
boy, or it will end in a blow-up."

Ben put down the basket, turned on his heel, and left the schoolroom,
and me standing by the throne of my future pedagogue--I say throne,
because he had not a desk, as schoolmasters generally have, but a sort
of square dais, about eighteen inches high, on which was placed another
oblong superstructure of the same height, serving him for a seat; both
parts were covered with some patched and torn old drugget, and upon
subsequent examination I found them to consist of three old claret cases
without covers, which he had probably picked up very cheap; two of them
turned upside down, so as to form the lower square, and the third placed
in the same way upside down, upon the two lower.  Mr O'Gallagher sat in
great dignity upon the upper one, with his feet on the lower, being thus
sufficiently raised upon an eminence to command a view of the whole of
his pupils in every part of the school.  He was not a tall man, but very
square built, with carroty hair and very bushy red whiskers; to me he
appeared a most formidable person, especially when he opened his large
mouth and displayed his teeth, when I was reminded of the sign of the
Red Lion close to my mother's house.  I certainly never had been before
so much awed during my short existence as I was with the appearance of
my pedagogue, who sat before me somewhat in the fashion of a Roman
tribune, holding in his hand a short round ruler, as if it were his
truncheon of authority.  I had not been a minute in the school before I
observed him to raise his arm; away went the ruler whizzing through the
air, until it hit the skull of the lad for whom it was intended at the
other end of the schoolroom.  The boy, who had been talking to his
neighbour, rubbed his poll, and whined.

"Why don't you bring back my ruler, you spalpeen?" said Mr O'Gallagher.
"Be quick, Johnny Target, or it will end in a blow-up."

The boy, who was not a little confused with the blow, sufficiently
recovered his senses to obey the order, and whimpering as he came up,
returned the ruler to the hands of Mr O'Gallagher.

"That tongue of yours will get you into more trouble than it will
business, I expect, Johnny Target; it's an unruly member, and requires a
constant ruler over it."  Johnny Target rubbed his head and said
nothing.

"Master Keene," said he, after a short pause, "did you see what a
tundering tump on the head that boy got just now, and do you know what
it was for?"

"No," replied I.

"Where's your manners, you animal?  No `If you plase.'  For the future,
you must not forget to say, `No, sir,' or, `No, Mr O'Gallagher.'  D'ye
mind me--now say yes--what?"

"Yes, what!"

"Yes, what! you little ignoramus; say `yes, Mr O'Gallagher,' and
recollect, as the parish clerk says, `this is the last time of asking.'"

"Yes, Mr O'Gallagher."

"Ah! now you see, there's nothing like coming to school--you've learn't
manners already; and now, to go back again, as to why Johnny Target had
the rap on the head, which brought tears into his eyes?  I'll just tell
you, it was for talking; you see, the first thing for a boy to learn, is
to hold his tongue, and that shall be your lesson for the day; you'll
just sit down there and if you say one word during the whole time you
are in the school, it will end in a blow-up; that means, on the present
occasion, that I'll skin you alive as they do the eels, which being
rather keen work, will just suit your constitution."  I had wit enough
to feel assured that Mr O'Gallagher was not to be trifled with, so I
took my seat, and amused myself with listening to the various lessons
which the boys came up to say, and the divers punishments inflicted--few
escaped.  At last, the hour of recreation and dinner arrived, the boys
were dismissed, each seized his basket, containing his provisions, or
ran home to get his meal with his parents: I found myself sitting in the
school-room _tete-a-tete_ with Mr O'Gallagher, and feeling very well
inclined for my dinner I cast a wistful eye at my basket, but I said
nothing; Mr O'Gallagher, who appeared to have been in thought, at last
said--

"Mr Keene, you may now go out of school, and scream till you're hoarse,
just to make up for lost time."

"May I take my dinner, sir?" inquired I.

"Is it your dinner you mane?--to be sure you may; but, first, I'll just
look into the basket and its contents; for you see, Mr Keene, there's
some victuals that don't agree with larning; and if you eat them, you'll
not be fit for your work when your play-hours are over.  What's easy of
digestion will do; but what's bad for little boys' stomachs may get you
into a scrape, and then it will end in a blow-up; that is, you'll have a
taste of the ferrule or the rod--two assistants of mine, to whom I've
not yet had the pleasure of introducing you--all in good time.  If what
I've hear of you be true, you and they will be better acquainted afore
long."

Mr O'Gallagher then examined the contents of my basket; my aunt Milly
had taken care that I should be well provided: there was a large paper
of beef sandwiches, a piece of bread and cheese, and three or four
slices of seed-cake.  Mr O'Gallagher opened all the packages, and,
after a pause, said--

"Now, Master Keene, d'ye think you would ever guess how I came by all my
larning, and what I fed upon when it was pumped into me?  Then I'll tell
you; it was dry bread, with a little bit of cheese when I could get it,
and that wasn't often.  Bread and cheese is the food to make a scholar
of ye; and mayhap one slice of the cake mayn't much interfere, so take
them, and run away to the play-ground as fast as you can; and, d'ye hear
me, Master Keene, recollect your grace before meat--`For what we have
received, the Lord make us truly thankful.'  Now, off wid you.  The rest
of the contents are confiscated for my sole use, and your particular
benefit."

Mr O'Gallagher grinned as he finished his oration; and he looked so
much like a wild beast, that I was glad to be off as fast as I could.  I
turned round as I went out of the door, and perceived that the
sandwiches were disappearing with wonderful rapidity; but I caught his
eye: it was like that of a tiger's at his meal, and I was off at
redoubled speed.



CHAPTER FIVE.

As soon as I gained the play-ground, which was, in fact, nothing more
than a small piece of waste land, to which we had no more claim than any
other people, I sat down by a post, and commenced my dinner off what Mr
O'Gallagher had thought proper to leave me.  I was afraid of him, it is
true, for his severity to the other boys convinced me that he would have
little mercy upon me, if I dared to thwart him; but indignation soon
began to obtain the mastery over my fears and I began to consider if I
could not be even with him for his barefaced robbery of my dinner; and
then I reflected whether it would not be better to allow him to take my
food if I found out that by so doing he treated me well; and I resolved,
at all events, to delay a little.  The hour of play was now over, and a
bell summoned us all to school; I went in with the others and took my
seat where Mr O'Gallagher had before desired me.

As soon as all was silent, my pedagogue beckoned me to him.

"Now, Mr Keene," said he, "you'll be so good as to lend me your ears--
that is, to listen while I talk to you a little bit.  D'ye know how many
roads there are to larning?  Hold your tongue.  I ask you because I know
you don't know, and because I'm going to tell you.  There are exactly
three roads: the first is the eye, my jewel; and if a lad has a sharp
eye like yours, it's a great deal that will get into his head by that
road; you'll know a thing when you see it again, although you mayn't
know your own father--that's a secret only known to your mother.  The
second road to larning, young spalpeen, is the ear; and if you mind all
people say, and hear all you can, you'll gain a great many truths and
just ten times as much more in the shape of lies.  You see the wheat and
the chaff will come together, and you must pick the latter out of the
former at any seasonable future opportunity.  Now we come to the third
road to larning, which is quite a different sort of road; because, you
see, the two first give us little trouble, and we trot along almost
whether we will or not: the third and grand road is the head itself,
which requires the eye and the ear to help it; and two other assistants,
which we call memory and application; so you see we have the visual,
then the aural, and then the mental roads--three hard words which you
don't understand, and which I shan't take the trouble to explain to such
an animal as you are; for I never throw away pearls to swine, as the
saying is.  Now, then, Mr Keene, we must come to another part of our
history.  As there are three roads to larning, so there are three manes
or implements by which boys are stimulated to larn: the first is the
ruler, which you saw me shy at the thick skull of Johnny Target, and you
see'd what a rap it gave him; well, then, the second is the ferrule--a
thing you never heard of, perhaps; but I'll show it you; here it is,"
continued Mr O'Gallagher, producing a sort of flat wooden ladle with a
hole in the centre of it.  "The ruler is for the head, as you have seen;
the ferrule is for the hand.  You have seen me use the ruler; now I'll
show you what I do with the ferrule."

"You Tommy Goskin, come here, sir."

Tommy Goskin put down his book, and came up to his master with a good
deal of doubt in his countenance.

"Tommy Goskin, you didn't say your lesson well to-day."

"Yes I did, Mr O'Gallagher," replied Tommy, "you said I did yourself."

"Well then, sir, you didn't say it well yesterday," continued Mr
O'Gallagher.

"Yes I did, sir," replied the boy, whimpering.

"And is it you who dares to contradict me?" cried Mr O'Gallagher; "at
all events, you won't say it well to-morrow, so hold out your right
hand."

Poor Tommy held it out, and roared lustily at the first blow, wringing
his fingers with the smart.

"Now your left hand, sir; fair play is a jewel; always carry the dish
even."

Tommy received a blow on his left hand, which was followed up with
similar demonstrations of suffering.

"There sir you may go now," said Mr O'Gallagher, "and mind you don't do
it again; or else there'll be a blow-up.  And now Master Keene, we come
to the third and last, which is the birch for the tail--here it is--have
you ever had a taste?"

"No, sir," replied I.

"Well, then, you have that pleasure to come, and come it will, I don't
doubt, if you and I are a few days longer acquainted.  Let me see--"

Here Mr O'Gallagher looked round the school, as if to find a culprit;
but the boys, aware of what was going on, kept their eyes so attentively
to their books, that he could not discover one; at last he singled out a
fat chubby lad.

"Walter Puddock, come here, sir."

Walter Puddock came accordingly; evidently he gave himself up for lost.

"Walter Puddock, I just have been telling Master Keene that you're the
best Latin scholar in the whole school.  Now, sir, don't make me out to
be a liar--do me credit,--or, by the blood of the O'Gallaghers, I'll
flog ye till you're as thin as a herring.  What's the Latin for a cocked
hat, as the Roman gentlemen wore with their _togeys_?"

Walter Puddock hesitated a few seconds, and then, without venturing a
word of remonstrance, let down his trousers.

"See now the guilty tief, he knows what's coming.  Shame upon you,
Walter Puddock, to disgrace your preceptor so, and make him tell a lie
to young Master Keene.  Where's Phil Mooney?  Come along, sir, and hoist
Walter Puddock: it's no larning that I can drive into you, Phil, but
it's sartain sure that by your manes I drive a little into the other
boys."

Walter Puddock, as soon as he was on the back of Phil Mooney, received a
dozen cuts with the rod, well laid on.  He bore it without flinching,
although the tears rolled down his cheeks.

"There, Walter Puddock, I told you it would end in a blow-up; go to your
dictionary, you dirty blackguard, and do more credit to your education
and superior instruction from a certain person who shall be nameless."

Mr O'Gallagher laid the rod on one side, and then continued--

"Now, Master Keene, I've just shown you the three roads to larning, and
also the three implements to persuade little boys to larn; if you don't
travel very fast by the three first, why you will be followed up very
smartly by the three last--a nod's as good as a wink to a blind horse,
any day; and one thing more, you little spalpeen, mind that there's more
mustard to the sandwiches to-morrow, or else it will end in a blow-up.
Now you've got the whole theory of the art of tuition, Master Keene;
please the pigs, we'll commence with the practice to-morrow."

My worthy pedagogue did not address me any more during that day; the
school broke up at five, and I made haste home, thinking over all that
had passed in the school-room.

My granny and mother were both anxious to know what had passed; the
first hoped that I had been flogged, the second that I had not, but I
refused to communicate.  I assumed a haughty, indifferent air, for I was
angry with my mother, and as for my grandmother, I hated her.  Aunt
Milly, however, when we were alone, did not question me in vain.  I told
her all that had passed; she bade me be of good heart, and that I should
not be ill-treated if she could help it.

I replied, that if I were ill-treated, I would have my revenge somehow
or another.  I then went down to the barracks, to the rooms of Captain
Bridgeman, and told him what had occurred.  He advised me to laugh at
the ruler, the ferrule, and the rod.  He pointed out to me the necessity
of my going to school and learning to read and write, at the same time
was very indignant at the conduct of Mr O'Gallagher, and told me to
resist in every way any injustice or tyranny, and that I should be sure
of his support and assistance, provided that I did pay attention to my
studies.

Fortified by the advice and protection of my two great friends, I made
up my mind that I would learn as fast as I could, but if treated ill,
that I would die a martyr, rather than yield to oppression; at all
events, I would, if possible, play Mr O'Gallagher a trick for every
flogging or punishment I received; and with this laudable resolution I
was soon fast asleep, too fast even to dream.



CHAPTER SIX.

When my aunt Milly called me in the morning, that I might be up and have
my breakfast in time for school, I felt as if two years had passed over
my head during the last twenty-four hours.  I had never witnessed
tyranny until the day before, and my blood was heated with indignation:
I felt myself capable of anything and everything.

My anger was about as great towards my mother and grandmother for having
sent me to such a place, as it was against Mr O'Gallagher.  Instead of
going up and kissing my mother, I paid no attention to either her or my
grandmother, much to the mortification of the former and surprise of the
latter, who said, in a very cross manner, "Where's your manners, child?
why don't you say good morning?"

"Because I have not been long enough at school to learn manners,
granny."

"Come and kiss me before you go, my child," said my mother.

"No, mother; you have sent me to school to be beat, and I never will
kiss you again."

"Naughty, good-for-nothing boy!" exclaimed my granny; "what a bad heart
you must have."

"No, that he has not," cried my aunt Milly.  "Sister should have
inquired what sort of a school it was before she sent him."

"I made every inquiry," replied my granny; "he can't play tricks there."

"Won't I?" cried I, "but I will; and not only there but here.  I'll be
even with you all; yes, I'll be even with you, granny, if I die for it."

"Why, you audacious wretch, I've great a mind to--"

"I dare say you have, but recollect I can bite; you'd better be quiet,
granny, or, as the master says, `it will end in a blow-up.'"

"Only hear the little wretch," said my granny, lifting up her hands; "I
shall see you hanged yet, you ungrateful child."

"I'm not ungrateful," replied I, throwing my arms round Milly's neck,
and kissing her with fervour; "I can love those who love me."

"Then you don't love me?" said my mother, reproachfully.

"I did yesterday, but I don't now; but it's time for me to go, aunt; is
my basket ready?  I don't want father to take me to school, I can do
without him, and when I don't choose to go any more, I won't; recollect
that, mother."  So saying, I seized my basket and quitted the room.
There was a long consultation, I found, after my departure: my mother,
when my aunt had informed her of Mr O'Gallagher's conduct, wished to
remove me instantly; my grandmother insisted upon it that there was not
a word of truth in what I had said, and threatened that if I did not
remain at that very school, she would leave Chatham, and take my aunt
with her.  As my mother could not part with aunt Milly, the consequence
was, that my grandmother gained the day.

I arrived in good time, and took my seat near my master.  I preferred
doing this, as I had had a long conversation with Captain Bridgeman who
told me that although Mr O'Gallagher had put the ruler down as
punishment Number 1, the ferrule Number 2, and the birch as Number 3,
and of course they were considered to be worse as the number rose, that
he considered it to be the very contrary, as he had had them all well
applied when he was at school; he ordered me, therefore, never to hold
out my hand to the ferrule, by which refusal I should, of course, be
flogged; but he assured me that the birch, especially when it is given
often, was a mere nothing.  Now I considered that the surest way to
avoid the ruler was to sit close to my master, who could then have no
pretence for sending it at my head; the fact was I had determined to
save the more noble portions of my body, and leave Mr O'Gallagher to do
what he pleased with the other: to do him justice, he lost no time.

"Come here, Mr Keene," said he, "where's your manners? why don't you
say good morning to your preceptor?  Can you read at all?"

"No, sir."

"D'ye know your letters?"

"Some of them--I think I do, sir."

"Some of them--I suppose about two out of six-and-twenty.  It's
particular attention that's been paid to your education, I perceive;
you've nothing to unlearn anyhow, that's something.  Now, sir, do you
think that a classical scholar and a gentleman born, like me, is to
demane myself by hearing you puzzle at the alphabet?  You're quite
mistaken, Mr Keene, you must gain your first elements second-hand; so
where's Thimothy Ruddel?  You, Timothy Ruddel, you'll just teach this
young Master Keene his whole alphabet, and take care, at the same time,
that you know your own lessons, or it will end in a blow-up; and you,
Master Keene, if you have not larnt your whole alphabet perfect by
dinner time, why you'll have a small taste of Number 2, just as a hint
to what's coming next.  Go along, you little ignorant blackguard; and
you, Timothy Ruddel, look out for a taste of Number 3, if you don't larn
him and yourself all at once, and at the same time."

I was very well pleased with this arrangement; I had resolved to learn,
and I was doubly stimulated to learn now, to save poor Timothy Ruddel
from an unjust punishment.

In the three hours I was quite perfect, and Timothy Ruddel, who was
called up before me, was also able to say his lesson without a blunder
very much to the disappointment of Mr O'Gallagher, who observed, "So
you've slipped through my fingers, have you, this time, Master Timothy?
Never mind, I'll have you yet; and, moreover, there's Master Keene to go
through the fiery furnace."  Just before dinner time I was called up;
with my memory of many of the letters, and the assistance I had received
from Timothy Ruddel, I felt very confident.

"What letter's that, sir?" said Mr O'Gallagher.

"A B C D E."

"You little blackguard, I'll dodge you; you think to escape, you?"

"V, X, P, O."

Much to Mr O'Gallagher's surprise I said them all without one mistake.
Instead of commendation I received abuse.  "By all the powers,"
exclaimed my pedagogue, "but everything seems to go wrong to-day; my
hand has been completely idle; this will never do; didn't you tell me,
Mr Keene, that you didn't know your letters?"

"I said I knew some of them, sir."

"If my memory is correct, Mr Keene, you told me that you knew two out
of twenty-six."

"No, sir, you said that."

"That's just as much as to tell me, your preceptor, a classical scholar,
and a Milesian gentleman to boot, that I lie, for which I intend to have
satisfaction, Mr Keene, I assure you.  You're guilty in two counts, as
they say at the Old Bailey, where you'll be called up to some of these
days, as sure as you stand there; one count is in telling me a lie, in
saying you did not know your alphabet, when it's quite clear that you
did; and, secondly, in giving me the lie, by stating that I said what
you said.  You thought to escape me, but you're mistaken, Mr Keene; so
now, if you please, we will just have a taste of Number 2.  Hould out
your hand, Mr Keene: d'ye hear me sir? hould out your hand."

But this I positively refused to do.  "You won't, won't you?  Well,
then, we must increase the punishment for our contempt of court, and at
once commence with Number 3, which we intended to reserve till
to-morrow.  Come along, Phil Mooney, there's fresh mate for you to
carry, and come out Number 3, here's fresh ground for you to travel
over."

Phil Mooney and the birch soon made their appearance: I was hoisted by
the one and scourged by the other.

The first taste of the birch is anything but agreeable; I could only
compare it to the dropping of molten lead.  I tried all I could to
prevent crying out, but it was impossible, and at last I roared like a
mad bull; and I was as mad as a bull, and as dangerous.  Could I have
picked up any weapon at the moment that I was dropped from the shoulders
of Phil Mooney, it would have gone hard with Mr O'Gallagher.  My rage
was greater than my agony.  I stood when I had been landed, my chest
heaving, my teeth set fast, and my apparel still in disorder.  The
school was dismissed, and I was left alone with the savage pedagogue,
who immediately took up my basket, and began to rummage the contents.

"Make yourself decent, Mr Keene, and don't be shocking my modesty, and
taking away my appetite.  Did you mention the mustard, as I desired you?
Upon my faith, but you're a nice boy and do justice to the
representations of your grandmother, and when you see her you may tell
her that I did not forget the promise she exacted from me.  You forgot
all about the mustard, you little blackguard.  If Phil Mooney was here I
would give you another taste to freshen your memory for to-morrow;
however, to-morrow will do as well, if the mistake's not corrected.
Here, take your victuals, and good appetite to you, you little monster
of iniquity."

Mr O'Gallagher tossed me some bread but this time reserved the cheese
for his own eating.  I had adjusted my dress, and I therefore left the
school-room.  I could not sit down without pain, so I leant against a
post: the bread remained in my hand untouched; had it been the greatest
delicacy in the world I could not have tasted a morsel; I was giddy from
excess of feeling, my thoughts were rapidly chasing each other when I
heard a voice close to me; I looked round, it was Walter Puddock, who
had been flogged the day before.

"Never mind, Keene," said he, kindly; "it hurts at first, but the more
you get it the less you care for it; I don't mind it a bit now; I cries,
because he goes on flogging till you do, and it's no use having more
than you can help."

"I didn't deserve it," replied I.

"That's not necessary; you'll get it, as we all do, whether you deserve
it or not."

"Well, I'll try to deserve it in future," replied I, clenching my fist;
"I'll be even with him."

"Why, what can you do?"

"Wait a little, and you'll see," said I, walking away, for an idea had
come into my head which I wished to follow up.

Soon afterwards the bell rang, and we returned to the schoolroom.  I was
put under the tuition of another boy, and took care to learn my lesson.
Whether it was that he was tired with the exercise, for he flogged and
ferruled a dozen during that afternoon, or that he thought that my
morning dose had been sufficient, I received no more punishment on that
day.



CHAPTER SEVEN.

As soon as school was dismissed, I went straight to the rooms of Captain
Bridgeman, and told him how I had been treated.  As soon as he heard it,
he exclaimed, "This is really too bad; I will go with you, and I will
consult with your aunt Amelia."

It so happened that aunt Milly was alone in the shop when we arrived,
and after a detail of what had passed, she told Captain Bridgeman that
my grandmother had put me to that school out of feelings of ill-will for
the tricks I had played, and had threatened that if I were removed she
would leave Chatham and take her away with her.  My mother required
assistance in the shop, and was afraid to affront my grandmother, who
was a very dictatorial, positive old woman, and would certainly keep her
resolution; but that rather than I should be treated in such a barbarous
manner she would insist upon my mother taking me away, or would herself
leave the place.

"It would never do for you to leave us, Miss Amelia," replied Captain
Bridgeman, "there are but few attractions in this place, and we cannot
spare you; the whole corps would go into deep mourning."

"I don't want to leave the school," interrupted I; "I would not leave it
till I am revenged, for all the world.  Now, I'll tell you what I want
to do--and do it I will, if he cuts me to pieces.  He eats my
sandwiches, and tells me if there's not more mustard to-morrow, he'll
flog me.  He shall have plenty of mustard, but he shall have something
else.  What can I put into the sandwiches, so as to half kill him?"

"Not a bad idea, my little Percival," said Captain Bridgeman; "I'll just
ask the doctor how much calomel a man may take without a coroner's
inquest being required."

"Yes, that will do nicely," said my aunt; "I'll take care he shall have
mustard enough not to perceive it."

"Well, I'll go to the barracks and be back directly," said Captain
Bridgeman.

"And I'm ready for the flogging as soon as the sandwiches are down his
throat," replied I, laughing, "I don't care a fig for it."

Captain Bridgeman soon returned with forty grains of calomel, which he
delivered into aunt Milly's hands.  "That is as much as we dare give the
strongest man without running great danger; we'll try the effect of that
upon him, and if he don't improve, I think I shall go up to the school
myself and threaten him."

"As for that," replied aunt Milly, "I'm sure that sister, if she hears
what's going on, as she cannot take Percival away, will order her
husband, Ben, to go up and thrash him."

"Not a bad idea, Miss Amelia, we'll try that if we find it necessary; at
all events, we'll see who can persecute most."

"Granny has told him to treat me ill," said I, "that's very clear, from
what he said; never mind, I'll make her sorry for it."

"Oh Percival! you must not do anything to granny," said aunt Milly,
looking very archly; "I must not hear anything of the kind."

The next morning I set off with a full conviction that I should be
flogged before night, and notwithstanding that, as full of joy as if I
was going to the fair.

The morning passed as usual; I said my lesson, but not very well; I was
thinking so much of my anticipated revenge, that I could not pay
attention to my teacher, who was, as usual, one of the boys.

"Master Keene," said Mr O'Gallagher, "we'll let the account stand over
till the evening, and then I'll give you a receipt in full; I may have
one or two lines to add to it before the sun goes down; you'll not
escape me this time, anyhow."

The boys went out at the dinner hour, leaving me, as before, to wait for
my basket, after the tyrant had helped himself.  I stood by him in
silence while he was rummaging its contents.

"Now, Mr Keene, I'll see if you've remembered my particular injunction
relative to the mustard."

"I told my aunt to put more mustard, sir," replied I, humbly, "it she
that cuts the sandwiches."

"Well, then, if your aunt has not complied with your request, see if I
don't flay you alive, you little imp of abomination."

The sandwiches were pulled out of the paper and tasted.  "Down on your
knees, Mr Keene, and thank all the blessed saints that your aunt has
saved you from at least one-half of what I intended to administer to you
this blessed afternoon, for she has doubled the mustard, you tief," said
Mr O'Gallagher, speaking with his mouth as full as it could hold.  Down
went sandwich after sandwich, until they had all disappeared.  Oh! what
joy was mine!  I could have tossed up my cap and leapt in the air.
Having received the bread and cheese, for he permitted me to have the
latter on this occasion I went out and enjoyed my meal, delighted with
Mr O'Gallagher's having fallen into the trap I had laid for him.

The bell summoned us in, and all went on as usual for the first two
hours, when I thought Mr O'Gallagher changed countenance and looked
very pale.  He continued, however, to hear the lessons, until at last I
perceived him pass his hand up and down and across his stomach, as if he
had had a twinge; a few minutes afterwards, he compressed his thick
lips, and then put his hands to his abdomen.

"Ah! he begins to feel it now," thought I; and sure enough he did; for
the pain increased so rapidly that he lost all patience, and vented his
feelings by beating with his ruler, on the heads of the whole class of
boys standing up before him, till one or two dropped down, stunned with
the blows.  At last he dropped the ruler, and, pressing both hands to
his stomach, he rolled himself backwards and forwards, and then twisted
and distorted his legs till he could bear the pain no longer; and he
gave vent to a tremendous Irish howl--grinning and grinding his teeth
for a few seconds, and then howling again, writhing and twisting in
evident agony--while the perspiration ran off his forehead.

"Och! murder!  I'm poisoned sure.  Lord save my sinful soul!  Oh--oh--
oh! eh--eh--eh! mercy, mercy, mercy, mercy, mercy!  Oh holy St. Patrick!
I'm kilt entirely:"--and so subdued was he at last by the pain, that he
burst out into a flood of tears, crying and roaring like a child.

Again the paroxysms came on--"Murder, murder, murder!" shrieked the
wretch at the highest pitch of his voice, so that he was heard at some
distance, and some of the neighbours came in to inquire what was the
matter.

Mr O'Gallagher was now in a fainting state, and leaning against the
table, he could merely say in a low voice, "A doctor--quick--a doctor."

The neighbours perceiving how ill he was, led him out of the
school-rooms into his own apartment, one going for a doctor, and the
others telling the boys they might all go home, a notice of which they
gladly availed themselves.

I need hardly say, that I made all the haste I could to communicate the
successful result of my trick to Milly and Captain Bridgeman.  The
medical man who was summoned, gave Mr O'Gallagher some very active
medicine, which assisted to rid him of the calomel; of his having taken
which, of course, the medical man was ignorant.  The violence of the
dose was, however, so great, and left him in such a state, that Mr
O'Gallagher could not leave his room for three days, nor resume his seat
in the school until a week had elapsed, during which I remained at home
plotting still further mischief.

Mr O'Gallagher resumed his occupations, and I was again sent off to
school.  When I entered the school-room I found him looking very pale
and cadaverous; as soon as he saw me his lips were drawn apart, and he
showed his large white teeth, reminding me of the grinning of a hyena;
he did not, however, say anything to me.  My studies were resumed; I
said my lesson perfectly, but was fully prepared for punishment.  I was,
however, agreeably disappointed; he did not punish either me or any of
the other boys.

I afterwards found out the reason was, that, although necessity
compelled him to re-open his school as soon as he could, he was too weak
to undergo the fatigue of following up his favourite diversion.

When the dinner-hour arrived, and the boys were dismissed, I waited
patiently to see what he would do with my basket, which stood beside
him.  "Take your basket, and eat your dinner, Master Keene," said he,
walking out of the school-room into his own apartments.  I could not
help saying, "Won't you have the sandwiches, sir?"

He turned round and gave me a look so penetrating and so diabolical,
that I felt sure that he knew to whom he had been indebted for his late
severe illness.

From this day forward Mr O'G never interfered with the contents of my
basket and I had my dinner all to myself.  The shock which had been
given to his constitution was so great, that for three or four months he
may be said to have crawled to his school room, and I really began to
think that the affair would turn out more serious than was intended; but
gradually he regained his strength, and as he recovered his vigour, so
did he resume his severity.

But I was a great gainer during the three or four months of quiet which
reigned during Mr O'Gallagher's convalescence.  Since I have been grown
up, I have often thought, and am indeed confirmed in my opinion, that we
lose rather than gain by being educated at too early an age.  Commence
with one child at three years, and with another at seven years old, and
in ten years, the one whose brain was left fallow even till seven years
old, will be quite as far, if not further advanced, than the child whose
intellect was prematurely forced at the earlier age; this is a fact
which I have since seen proved in many instances, and it certainly was
corroborated in mine.

In six months I could read and write very fairly, and had commenced
arithmetic; true, I was stimulated on by the advice of Captain
Bridgeman, the love I bore my aunt Milly, and the hatred which I had for
my master, which made me resolve that I would not deserve punishment on
that score.

It was in May that I administered the dose to Mr O'Gallagher; in
September he was quite well again, and the ruler, the ferrule, and the
rod, were triumphantly at work.  It is useless to say how often I was
punished, for it was every day; always once, sometimes twice; I became
completely callous to it, nay, laughed at it, but my mind was ever at
work upon some mischief, in the way of retaliation.

I put little pancakes of cobblers' wax on Mr O'Gallagher's throne, and
he had the pleasure of finding himself stuck fast by the breeches when
he rose up to punish.  I anointed the handle of the ferrule and rod with
bird-lime; put dead cats under the claret cases, which composed his seat
of authority, so that the smell would drive him distracted before he
found it out.  I drew up with a squirt, all the ink which was in the
inkstands fixed in the writing-desks, so as not to be taken out of the
sockets, and made good the deficiency with water, which put him to no
little expense.

I once made him almost frantic, by rubbing his handkerchief which always
laid by his side, and with which he was accustomed to wipe his face
every five minutes (for he was profuse in his perspiration), with what
is called cow-itch: not being aware of what was the cause, he wiped his
face more and more, until he was as red as a peony, and the itching
became intolerable.

On such occasions he never inquired who was the party, but called me and
Phil Mooney.  I, on the other hand, never said a word in way of
expostulation.  I took my flogging, which was as severe as he could give
it, as a matter of course, quite satisfied with the exchange.

As Walter Puddock had told me, and, as I have no doubt, the Eton boys
will confirm, after a certain quantity of flagellations, the skin
becomes so hard as to make the punishment almost a matter of
indifference and so I found it.  So passed the time until the month of
November, when I was fully enabled to pay off my worthy pedagogue for
all that I was indebted to him.



CHAPTER EIGHT.

The boys had been saving up all their money to purchase fireworks for
the celebrated 5th of November--a day on which it was said that certain
persons, finding it impossible to reform the Lords and Commons, had
determined to get rid of them at once: why they have not been in similar
danger every year since the first attempt was made, I know not; certain
it is, that it is the only reform measure that can ever be effectual.
Guy Fawkes and his confederates, whether Popish or Protestant, from the
disregard of human life, certainly proved themselves the founders of a
party, still existing, whose motto is, "Measures and not Men."

But to proceed: Mr O'Gallagher had never before attempted to interfere
with the vested rights of urchins on that day; being, however, in a most
particular irascible humour, instead of a whole, he made it known that
there would only be a half, holiday, and we were consequently all called
in for morning lessons instead of carrying about, as we had intended,
the effigy of the only true reformer that ever existed in this country.

This made us all very sulky and discontented in the first place, and our
anxiety to get out of school was so great, that the lessons were not
very perfect in the second.  The ferrule and rod were called out and
liberally administered; but what was our horror and dismay when Mr
O'Gallagher, about an hour before dinner, announced to us that all the
squibs and crackers, with which our pockets were crammed, were to be
given up immediately; and that, as we had not said our lessons well,
there would be no half-holiday, the whole school were in mute despair.

One by one were the boys summoned up to the throne of Mr O'Gallagher,
and their pockets searched by Phil Mooney, who emptied them of their
pyrotechnical contents, all of which were deposited on the dais of Mr
O'Gallagher's throne, which, I have before observed, was composed of two
empty claret cases turned upside down, surmounted by another, on which
Mr O'Gallagher sat, all three covered with old green baize.

By the time that the whole school had been rifled, the heap of fireworks
was very considerable, and Mr O'Gallagher, to prevent any of them being
recovered by the boys, lifted up the claret case on which he sat, and
which was on the top of the other two, and desired Phil Mooney to put
them all underneath it.  This was done; Mr O'Gallagher resumed his
seat, and the lessons continued till the dinner hour arrived, but, alas!
not the half-holiday or the fireworks.

The boys went out; some mournful, some angry, some sulky, some
frightened; a few, a very few, declaiming against such injustice.

I was in a rage; my blood boiled; at last my invention came to my aid,
and, without considering the consequences, I determined how to act.

As it was an hour and a half before school would commence, I hastened
home, and, having spent all my money, begged aunt Milly to give me some;
she gave me a shilling, and with that I bought as much gunpowder as I
could procure, more than a quarter of a pound.

I then returned to the school, looked into the school-room, and found it
empty; I quickly raised up the claret case, under which the fireworks
had been placed, put the powder under it, leaving only sufficient for a
very small train, which would not be perceived in the green baize
covering; having so done, I left the school-room immediately, and
rejoined my companions.  I had a piece of touch-wood, as all the boys
had, to let off their fireworks with, and this I lighted and left in a
corner until the bell should summons us into school.

Oh! how my heart beat when I heard the sound, so full was I of anxiety
lest my project should fail.

Once more we were all assembled.  Mr O'Gallagher surveying, with the
smile of a demon, the unhappy and disappointed faces of the boys, was
again perched upon his throne, the rod on one side, the ferrule on the
other, and the ruler, that dreaded truncheon of command, clenched in his
broad fist.

I had the touchwood lighted and concealed in my hand; gradually I moved
downwards, until at last, unperceived by Mr O'Gallagher, I was behind
him, and close to my train of gunpowder.  I gave one look to ascertain
if he had observed me; his eye was roving over the school for some
delinquent to throw his ruler at; fearful that he might turn round to
me, I no longer hesitated, and the touchwood was applied to the train.

Ignorant as I was of the force of gunpowder, it was with astonishment,
mingled with horror, that I beheld, in a second, the claret case rise up
as if it had wings, and Mr O'Gallagher thrown up to the ceiling
enveloped in a cloud of smoke, the crackers and squibs fizzing and
banging, while the boys in the school uttered a yell of consternation
and fear as they rushed from from the explosion, and afterwards,
tumbling over one another, made their escape from the school-room.

The windows had all been blown out with a terrible crash, and the whole
school-room was now covered by the smoke.  There I stood in silent
dismay at the mischief which I had done.  The squibs and crackers had
not, however, all finished popping, before I heard the howling of Mr
O'Gallagher, who had fallen down upon the centre school-room table.

I was still in the school-room, half-suffocated, yet not moving away
from where I stood, when the neighbours, who had been alarmed by the
explosion and the cries of the boys, rushed in, and perceiving only me
and Mr O'Gallagher, who still howled, they caught hold of us both, and
bore us out in their arms.  It was high time, for the school-room was
now on fire, and in a few minutes more the flames burst out of the
windows, while volumes of smoke forced through the door and soon
afterwards the roof.

The engines were sent for, but before they could arrive, or water be
procured, the whole tenement was so enveloped in flames that it could
not be saved.  In an hour, the _locale_ of our misery was reduced to
ashes.  They had put me on my legs as soon as we got clear of the
school-room, to ascertain whether I was hurt, and finding that I was
not, they left me.

I never shall forget what my sensations were, when I beheld the flames
and volumes of smoke bursting out; the hurry, and bustle, and confusion
outside; the working of the engines, the troops marched up from the
barracks, the crowd of people assembled, and the ceaseless mingling of
tongues from every quarter; and all this is my doing, thought I--mine--
all mine.

I felt delighted that I had no partner or confederate; I could, at all
events, keep my own secret.  I did, however, feel some anxiety as to Mr
O'Gallagher, for, much as I detested him, I certainly had no intention
to kill him; so after a time, I made inquiries, and found that he was
alive: and in no danger, although very much bruised and somewhat burnt.

No one could explain how the catastrophe occurred, further than that Mr
O'Gallagher had collected all the squibs and crackers from the boys, and
that they had exploded somehow or another--most people said that it
served him right.  My grandmother shook her head and said, "Yes, yes,
gunpowder will go off, but--" and she looked at me--"it requires a match
to be put to it."  I looked up very innocently, but made no reply.

Mr O'Gallagher's favourite expression, to wit, "that it would end in a
blow-up," proved, as far as his school was concerned, literally true.
He had not the means of procuring another suitable tenement in Chatham,
and as soon as he had recovered from the injuries he had received, he
quitted the town.

It was not until he had left, that I ventured to make known to Captain
Bridgeman, and my aunt Milly, the trifling share I had in the
transaction; and they, perceiving the prudence of keeping my secret,
desired me on no account to let it be known to any one else.



CHAPTER NINE.

As soon as it was ascertained that Mr O'Gallagher was gone, my
grandmother insisted upon my being sent to another school, and on this
occasion my mother made the inquiries herself, and I was despatched to
one much nearer home, and being treated well, not only played fewer
tricks, but advanced rapidly in my education; so rapidly indeed, that my
grandmother began to think that I was not so bad a boy as I used to be.

As she treated me more kindly, I felt less inclined to teaze her
although the spirit of mischief was as undiminished as ever, and was
shown in various ways.

I may as well here observe, that out of the many admirers of my aunt
Milly, there were only two who appeared to be at all constant in their
attention.  One was Lieutenant Flat, who was positively smitten, and
would have laid his pay and person at her feet, had he received anything
like encouragement; but my aunt disliked him in the first place, and,
moreover, had a very strong feeling towards Captain Bridgeman.

Mr Flat was certainly a very fine-looking soldier, being tall, erect,
and well-made, but he was at the same time not over-brilliant; he was,
as an officer, the very sort of person my father Ben was as a private.

But the other party, Captain Bridgeman, did not come forward; he
appeared to be in doubt, and not at all able to make up his mind.

The fact was, that my mother being married to a private, made any match
with the sister objectionable to the whole corps, as it would be
derogatory that one sister should be the wife of a private, and the
other of an officer.  Ben would have been able to say, "My
brother-in-law, the captain of my division," which would never have
done; and this Captain Bridgeman felt, and therefore resisted, as well
as he could, the inroads which my aunt's beauty and mirth had made into
his heart.  My aunt was exactly a person to suit Captain Bridgeman as a
helpmate, had it not been for this unfortunate alliance of my mother's.

Lieutenant Flat was too stupid and indifferent to the opinion of the
other officers, to care anything about what they thought; he would have
married Milly long before, but my aunt, who had made up her mind to
marry an officer, did not yet despair of obtaining the captain; and
although she would not positively dismiss Lieutenant Flat, she merely
kept him as a sort of reserve, to fall back upon when every other chance
was gone.

I should like, if I possibly could, to give the reader some idea of my
mother's circulating-library and sort of universal commodity shop: it
was a low-windowed building, one story high, but running a long way
back, where it was joined to a small parlour, in which we generally sat
during the day, as it was convenient in case of company or customers,
the little parlour having a glass door, which permitted us to look into
the shop.

In the front windows, on one side, were all the varieties of tapers,
sealing-wax, inkstands, and every kind of stationery, backed by
children's books, leather writing-cases, prints, caricatures, and
Tonbridge ware.  In the other windows were ribbons, caps, gloves,
scarfs, needles, and other little articles in demand by ladies, and
which they required independent of their milliners.

At the entrance were sticks and canes; on the counter a case of gold and
more moderate-priced trinkets.  On the shelves of the millinery side
were boxes of gloves, ribbons, buttons, etcetera.  On the opposite side,
perfumes, cigars, toothbrushes, combs, scented soaps, and other
requisites for the toilet.

About ten feet on each side of the shop was occupied with the above
articles; the remainder of the shelves were reserved for the
circulating-library.

At the back of the shop were some seats round a small table, on which
was laid the newspaper of the day, and on each side of the parlour-door
were hoops, bats, balls, traps, skittles, and a variety of toys for
children.

My mother usually attended to the millinery, and my aunt Milly to what
might be termed the gentlemen's side of the shop; the remainder of the
goods and circulating-library were in the hands of both.

There were few hours of the day in which the chairs at the counter and
round the table were not taken possession of by some one or another,
either reading the paper or a book, or talking, to pass away the time.
In fact, it was a sort of rendezvous, where all who met knew each other,
and where the idle of our own sex used to repair to get rid of their
time.  Captain Bridgeman and Mr Flat were certainly the two most
constantly to be found there, although few of the marine officers were a
day without paying us a visit.

Such was the _locale_; to describe the company will be more difficult,
but I will attempt it.

My mother, remarkably nicely dressed, is busy opening a parcel of new
books just arrived.  My aunt Milly behind the counter, on the
gentlemen's side, pretending to be working upon a piece of muslin about
five inches square.  Mr Flat sitting near the table, fallen back in his
chair, apparently watching the flies on the ceiling.  Captain Bridgeman,
a very good-looking man, very slight, but extremely active, is sitting
at the counter opposite to where my aunt is standing, a small black
cane, with a silver head to it, in his hand, and his gloves peculiarly
clean and well-fitting.  He has an eye as sharp as an eagle's, a slight
hook to his nose, thin lips, and very white teeth; his countenance is as
full of energy and fire as that of lieutenant Flat is heavy and
unmeaning.

"Miss Amelia, if I may take the liberty," said Captain Bridgeman,
pointing with his cane to the bit of muslin she is employed upon; "what
are you making? it's too small for any part of a lady's dress."

"It is quite large enough for a cuff, Captain Bridgeman."

"A cuff; then you are making a cuff, I presume?"

"Indeed she is not, Captain Bridgeman," replies my mother; "it is only
to keep herself out of mischief.  She spoils a bit like that every week.
And that's why it is so small, Captain Bridgeman; it would be a pity to
spoil a larger piece."

"I really was not aware that such a mere trifle would keep you out of
mischief," said the captain.

"You know," replied Aunt Milly, "that idleness is the root of all evil,
Captain Bridgeman."

"Flat, do you hear that?" says Captain Bridgeman.

"What?" replies Flat.

"That idleness is the root of all evil; what an evil-disposed person you
must be."

"I was thinking," replied Flat.

"I suspect it's only lately you've taken to that.  Who or what were you
thinking about?"

"Well, I believe I was thinking how long it would be before dinner was
ready."

"That's very rude, Mr Flat; you might have said that you were thinking
about me," replied my aunt.

"Well, so I was at first, and then I began to think of dinner-time."

"Don't be offended, Miss Amelia; Flat pays you a great compliment in
dividing his attentions; but I really wish to know why ladies will spoil
muslin in such a predetermined manner.  Will you explain that, Mrs
Keene?"

"Yes, Captain Bridgeman: a piece of work is very valuable to a woman,
especially when she finds herself in company with gentlemen like you.
It saves her from looking down, or looking at you, when you are talking
nonsense; it prevents your reading in her eyes what is passing in her
mind, or discovering what effect your words may have upon her; it saves
much awkwardness, and very often a blush; sometimes a woman hardly knows
which way to look; sometimes she may look any way but the right.  Now a
bit of muslin with a needle is a remedy for all that, for she can look
down at her work, and not look up till she thinks it advisable."

"I thank you for your explanation, madam; I shall always take it as a
great compliment if I see a lady very busy at work when I'm conversing,
with her."

"But you may flatter yourself, Captain Bridgeman," replied my mother;
"the attention to her work may arise from perfect indifference, or from
positive annoyance.  It saves the trouble of making an effort to be
polite."

"And pray, may I inquire, Miss Amelia, what feeling may cause your
particular attention to your work at this present moment?"

"Perhaps in either case to preserve my self-possession," replied Amelia;
"or perhaps, Captain Bridgeman, I may prefer looking at a piece of
muslin to looking at a marine officer."

"That's not very flattering," replied the captain; "if you spoil the
muslin, you're determined not to spoil me."

"The muslin is of little value," said Amelia, softly, walking to the
other side of the shop, and turning over the books.

"Mr Flat," said my mother, "your subscription to the library is out
last month; I presume I can put your name down again?"

"Well, I don't know; I never read a book," replied Mr Flat, yawning.

"That's not at all necessary, Mr Flat," said my mother; "in most
businesses there are sleeping partners; besides, if you don't read, you
come here to talk, which is a greater enjoyment still, and luxuries must
be paid for."

"Well, I'll try another quarter," replied Mr Flat, "and then--"

"And then what?" said my aunt Milly, smiling.

"Well, I don't know," says Flat.  "Is that clock of yours right, Mrs
Keene?"

"It is; but I am fearful that your thoughts run faster than the clock,
Mr Flat; you are thinking of the dress-bugle for dinner."

"No, I was not."

"Then you were thinking of yourself?"

"No, I wasn't, Mrs Keene," said Flat, rising, and walking out of the
shop.

"I'll tell you," said he, turning round as he went out, "what I was
thinking of, Mrs Keene; not of myself,--I was thinking of my bull pup."

My mother burst out a laughing as the lieutenant disappeared.  "I was
not far wrong when I said he was thinking of himself," said she, "for a
_calf_ is a sort of _bull pup_."

At this sally Captain Bridgeman laughed, and danced about the shop; at
last he said, "Poor Flat!  Miss Amelia, he's desperately in love with
you."

"That's more than I am with him," said Amelia, calmly.

Here two ladies came in.

Captain Bridgeman made a most polite bow.  "I trust Mrs Handbell is
quite well and Miss Handbell--I hardly need ask the question with the
charming colour you have?"

"Captain Bridgeman, you appear to live in this library; I wonder Mrs
Keene don't take you into partnership."

"If I were not honoured with the custom of Mrs Handbell and other
ladies; I fear that my shop would have little attraction for gentlemen,"
replied my mother, with a courtesy.

"Mrs Keene is quite correct in her surmise, Miss Handbell," said
Captain Bridgeman, "now that I have seen you, I shall not think my
morning thrown away."

"If report says true, Captain Bridgeman," replied Mrs Handbell, "you
would be quite as often here, even if no ladies were to be customers of
Mrs Keene.  Mrs Keene, have you any of that narrow French ribbon
left?"

"I think I have, madam; it was off this piece, was it not?"

"Yes; but I really don't know exactly how much I require; perhaps you
will measure it and allow me to return what is left?"

"Certainly, madam; will you take it with you, or shall I send it?"

"I wish for it directly; will you be very long in measuring it, for I
ought to be home now?"

"Perhaps you'll have the kindness to measure what you take off yourself,
madam," replied my mother, "and then you need not wait."

"You put confidence in me, I observe, Mrs Keene," replied Mrs
Handbell; "well, I will do you justice."

My mother smiled most graciously, put the piece of ribbon in paper, and
handed it to Mrs Handbell, who, bowing to Captain Bridgeman, quitted
the shop.

"I wonder whether you would trust me in that way?" said Captain
Bridgeman to my mother.

"I don't think I should; Amelia says you will help yourself to cigars
and that she is sure you cheat when you count them."

"Does she really say that?  Well, I did think that if there was any one
who would have upheld my character, it would have been Miss Amelia."

"Perhaps, Captain Bridgeman, she is getting tired of so doing."

"Or tired of me, Mrs Keene, which would be worse still.  Here comes a
fair young lady--Miss Evans, if I mistake not; I believe she is a good
customer to your library?"

"She reads a great deal, and is therefore only a customer to the
library."

"Ladies who are fond of reading are seldom fond of working."

"Good morning Miss Evans," said Captain Bridgeman; "you come for more
food for the mind, I presume?"  (Miss Evans gave a bob, and turned to my
mother.)

"Have you anything new, Mrs Keene?  I have brought back the three
volumes of Godolphin."

"Yes, miss, I have some books down to-day."

While Miss Evans was selecting from the new books, enter Mr Jones, Mr
Smith, and Mr Claville, of the marine corps, for cigars.  Amelia comes
out to attend them--they purchase a few articles, and are talking very
loud, when three more ladies enter the shop, all for books.

It being now about three o'clock, the customers and loungers come in
fast.  Captain Bridgeman saunters away in company with his brother
officers; other parties enter, who are succeeded by fresh claimants for
books or the other articles to be procured in the repository.

This demand continues till about five o'clock, when the library becomes
empty; I come home from school, my father slinks in from barracks, and
my mother and sister return to the back parlour, where they find my
grandmother, as usual, very busy with her knitting.

Such is a fair sample of what took place at our shop every succeeding
day.  My mother made few bad debts, and rapidly added to her savings.
My aunt Milly still balancing between the certainty of Lieutenant Flat
and the chance of Captain Bridgeman, and I dividing my time and talents
between learning and contriving mischief.



CHAPTER TEN.

About six months after I had blown up the school of Mr O'Gallagher, the
company to which my father Ben belonged was ordered afloat again, and
shortly afterwards sailed for the East Indies, in the Redoubtable, 74.
That my mother was very much pleased at his departure, I do not scruple
to assert; but whether she ever analysed her feelings, I cannot pretend
to say; I rather think that all she wished was, that the chapter of
accidents would prevent Ben's reappearance, as she was ashamed of him as
a husband, and felt that he was an obstacle to her sister's advancement.

So one fine day Ben wished us all good bye; my mother was very generous
to him, as she could well afford to be.  I rather think that Ben himself
was not sorry to go, for, stupid as he was, he must have felt what a
cypher he had become, being treated, not only by my mother, but by
everybody else, even by me, as a sort of upper servant.

It so happened, that about a month after Ben's departure, Captain Delmar
had, through the interest of his uncle, Lord de Versely, been appointed
to a ship which was lying in the Medway, and he came down to Chatham to
join her.  He had no idea that my mother was there, for he had lost
sight of her altogether, and had it not been for me, might very probably
have left the town without having made the discovery.

Among other amusements, I had a great partiality for a certain bull pup,
mentioned by Lieutenant Flat in the former chapter, and which he had
made me a present of; the pup was now grown up, and I had taught it many
tricks; but the one which afforded me most amusement (of course, at
other people's expense) was, that I had made out of oakum a sham
pigtail, about a foot and a half long, very strong and think, with an
iron hook at the upper end of it.

The sham tail I could easily hook on to the collar of any one's coat
from behind, without their perceiving it; and Bob had been instructed by
me, whenever I told him to fetch it (and not before), to jump up at the
tail wherever it might be, and hang on to it with all the tenacity of
the race.

As it may be supposed, this was a great source of mirth in the barracks;
it was considered a good joke, and was much applauded by Captain
Bridgeman; but it was not considered a good joke out of the barracks;
and many an old woman had I already frightened almost out of her senses,
by affixing the tail to any portion of the back part of her dress.

It so happened, that one afternoon, as I was cruising about with Bob at
my heels, I perceived the newly-arrived Captain Delmar, in all the pomp
of pride of full uniform, parading down the street with a little middy
at his heels; and I thought to myself, "Law! how I should like to hang
my tail to his fine coat, if I only dared;" the impulse had become so
strong, that I actually had pulled up my pinafore and disengaged the
tail ready for any opportunity, but I was afraid that the middy would
see me.

Captain Delmar had passed close to me, the middy at his heels was
passing, and I thought all chance was gone, when, suddenly, Captain
Delmar turned short round and addressed the little officer, asking him
whether he had brought the order-book with him?  The middy touched his
hat, and said, "No;" upon which Captain Delmar began to inflict a most
serious lecture upon the lad for forgetting what he had forgotten
himself, and I again passed by.

This was an opportunity I could not resist; while the captain and middy
were so well employed giving and receiving I fixed my oakum tail to the
collar of the Captain's gold-laced coat, and then walked over to the
other side of the street with Bob at my heels.

The middy being duly admonished, Captain Delmar turned round again and
resumed his way; upon which I called Bob, who was quite as ready for the
fun as I was, and pointing to the captain, said, "Fetch it, Bob."  My
companion cleared the street in three or four bounds, and in a few
seconds afterwards made a spring up the back of Captain Delmar, and
seizing the tail, hung by it with his teeth, shaking it with all his
might as he hung in the air.

Captain Delmar was, to use a sailor's term, completely taken aback;
indeed he was nearly capsized by the unexpected assault.  For a short
time he could not discover what it was; at last, by turning his head
over his shoulder and putting his hand behind him, he discovered who his
assailant was.

Just at that time, I called out "Mad dog! mad dog!" and Captain Delmar,
hearing those alarming words, became dreadfully frightened; his cocked
hat dropped from his head, and he took to his heels as fast as he could,
running down the street, with Bob clinging behind him.

The first open door he perceived was that of my mother's library; he
burst in, nearly upsetting Captain Bridgeman, who was seated at the
counter, talking to Aunt Milly, crying out "Help! help!"  As he turned
round, his sword became entangled between his legs, tripped him up, and
he fell on the floor.  This unhooked the tail, and Bob galloped out of
the shop, bearing his prize to me, who, with the little middy, remained
in the street convulsed with laughter.  Bob delivered up the tail, which
I again concealed under my pinafore, and then with a demure face
ventured to walk towards my mother's house, and, going in at the back
door, put Master Bob in the wash-house out of the way; the little middy
who had picked up the captain's hat, giving me a wink as I passed him,
as much as to say, I won't inform against you.

In the meantime Captain Delmar had been assisted to his legs by Captain
Bridgeman, who well knew who had played the trick, and who, as well as
Aunt Milly, had great difficulty in controlling his mirth.

"Merciful heaven! what was it?  Was the animal mad?  Has it bitten me?"
exclaimed Captain Delmar, falling back in his chair, in which he had
been seated by Captain Bridgeman.

"I really do not know," replied Captain Bridgeman; "but you are not
hurt, sir, apparently, nor indeed is your coat torn."

"What dog--whose dog can it be?--it must be shot immediately--I shall
give orders--I shall report the case to the admiral.  May I ask for a
glass of water?  Oh, Mr Dott! you're there, sir; how came you to allow
that dog to fasten himself on my back in that way?"

"If you please," said the middy, presenting his cocked hat to the
captain, "I did draw my dirk to kill him, but you ran away so fast that
I couldn't catch you."

"Very well, sir, you may go down to the boat and wait for orders,"
replied the captain.

At this moment my mother, who had been dressing herself, made her first
appearance, coming out of the back parlour with a glass of water, which
aunt Milly had gone in for.  Perceiving a gold-laced captain, she
advanced all smiles and courtesies, until she looked in his face, and
then she gave a scream, and dropped the tumbler on the floor, much to
the surprise of Captain Bridgeman, and also of aunt Milly, who, not
having been at the Hall, was not acquainted with the person of Captain
Delmar.

Just at this moment in came I, looking as demure as if, as the saying
is, "butter would not melt in my mouth," and certainly as much
astonished as the rest at my mother's embarrassment; but she soon
recovered herself, and asked Captain Delmar if he would condescend to
repose himself a little in the back parlour.  When my mother let the
tumbler fall, the captain had looked her full in the face and recognised
her, and, in a low voice, said, "Excessively strange,--so very
unexpected!"  He then rose up from the chair and followed my mother into
the back room.

"Who can it be?" said Aunt Milly to Captain Bridgeman, in a low tone.

"I suppose it must be the new captain appointed to the Calliope.  I read
his name in the papers,--the Honourable Captain Delmar."

"It must be him," replied Milly; "for my sister was brought up by his
aunt, Mrs Delmar; no wonder she was surprised at meeting him so
suddenly.  Percival, you naughty boy," continued Milly, shaking her
finger at me, "it was all your doing."

"Oh, Aunt Milly! you should have seen him run," replied I, laughing at
the thought.

"I'd recommend you not to play with post captains," said Captain
Bridgeman, "or you may get worse than you give.  Mercy on us!" exclaimed
he, looking at me full in the face.

"What's the matter?" said aunt Milly.

Captain Bridgeman leant over the counter, and I heard him whisper, "Did
you ever see such a likeness as between the lad and Captain Delmar?"

Milly blushed a little, nodded her head, and smiled, as she turned away.
Captain Bridgeman appeared to be afterwards in a brown study; he tapped
his boot with his cane, and did not speak.

About a quarter of an hour passed, during which Captain Delmar remained
with my mother in the parlour, when she opened the door, and beckoned me
to come in.  I did so not without some degree of anxiety, for I was
afraid that I had been discovered: but this doubt was soon removed;
Captain Delmar did me the honour to shake hands with me, and then patted
my head saying, he hoped I was a good boy, which, being compelled to be
my own trumpeter, I very modestly declared that I was.  My mother, who
was standing up behind, lifted up her eyes at my barefaced assertion.
Captain Delmar then shook hands with my mother, intimating his intention
of paying her another visit very soon, and again patting me on the head,
quitted the parlour, and went away through the shop.

As soon as Captain Delmar was gone, my mother turned round, and said,
"You naughty, mischievous boy, to play such pranks.  I'll have that dog
killed, without you promise me never to do so again."

"Do what again, mother?"

"None of your pretended innocence with me.  I've been told of the
pigtail that Bob pulls at.  That's all very well at the barracks with
the marines, sir, but do you know _who_ it is that you have been playing
that trick to?"

"No mother, I don't.  Who is he?"

"Who is he, you undutiful child? why, he's--he's the Honourable Captain
Delmar."

"Well, what of that?" replied I.  "He's a naval captain, ain't he?"

"Yes; but he's the nephew of the lady who brought me up and educated me.
It was he that made the match between me and our father: so if it had
not been for him, child, you never would have been born."

"Oh that's it," replied I.  "Well, mother, if it had not been for me,
he'd never have come into the shop, and found you."

"But, my child, we must be serious; you must be very respectful to
Captain Delmar, and play no tricks with him; for you may see him very
often, and, perhaps, he will take a fancy to you; and if he does, he may
do you a great deal of good, and bring you forward in the world; so
promise me."

"Well, mother, I'll promise you I'll leave him alone if you wish it.
Law, mother, you should have seen how the middy laughed at him; it was
real fun to make a gallant captain run in the way he did."

"Go along, you mischievous animal, and recollect your promise to me,"
said my mother, as she went into the shop where she found that Captain
Bridgeman, to whom she intended to explain how it was that she had
dropped the tumbler of water, had gone away.

There was a great deal of consultation between my grandmother and my
mother on that evening; my aunt and I were sent out to to take a walk,
that we might not overhear what passed, and when we returned we found
them still in close conversation.



CHAPTER ELEVEN.

The Honourable Captain Delmar was now a frequent visitor to my mother,
and a good customer to the library.  He did, however, generally contrive
that his visit should be paid late in the afternoon, just after the
marine officers had retired to dress for dinner; for he was a very
haughty personage, and did not think it proper for any officers of an
inferior grade to come "between the wind and his nobility."

I cannot say that I was partial to him; indeed, his pomposity, as I
considered it, was to me a source of ridicule and dislike.  He took more
notice of me than he did of anybody else; but he appeared to consider
that his condescending patronage was all that was necessary; whereas,
had he occasionally given me a half-crown I should have cherished better
feelings towards him: not that I wanted money, for my mother supplied me
very liberally, considering my age: but although you may coax and
flatter a girl into loving you, you cannot a boy, who requires more
substantial proofs of your good-will.

There were a great many remarks not very flattering to my mother, made
behind her back, as to her former intimacy with Captain Delmar; for,
somehow or another, there always is somebody who knows something,
wherever doubts or surmises arise, and so it was in this case; but if
people indulged in ill-natured remarks when she was not there, they did
not in her presence; on the contrary, the friendship of so great a man
as the Honourable Captain Delmar appeared rather to make my mother a
person of more consequence.

She was continually pointing out to me the propriety of securing the
good will of this great personage, and the more she did so, the more I
felt inclined to do the reverse; indeed, I should have broke out into
open mutiny, if it had not been for Captain Bridgeman, who sided with my
mother, and when I went to him to propose playing another trick upon the
noble captain, not only refused to aid me, but told me, if I ever
thought of such a thing, he would never allow me to come to his rooms
again.

"Why, what good can he do to me?" inquired I.

"He may advance you properly in life--who knows?--he may put you on the
quarter-deck, and get you promoted in the service."

"What, make a middy of me?"

"Yes, and from a midshipman you may rise to be a post-captain, or
admiral,--a much greater rank than I shall ever obtain," said Captain
Bridgeman; "so take my advice, and do as your mother wishes; be very
civil and respectful to Captain Delmar, and he may be as good as a
father to you."

"That's not saying much," replied I, thinking of my father Ben; "I'd
rather have two mothers than two fathers."  And here the conversation
ended.

I had contracted a great alliance with Mr Dott, the midshipman, who
followed Captain Delmar about, just as Bob used to follow me, and
generally remained in the shop or outside with me, when his captain
called upon my mother.  He was a little wag, as full of mischief as
myself, and even his awe of his captain, which, as a youngster in the
service, was excessive, would not prevent him from occasionally breaking
out.  My mother took great notice of him, and when he could obtain leave
(which, indeed, she often asked for him), invited him to come to our
house, when he became my companion during his stay; we would sally out
together, and vie with each other in producing confusion and mirth at
other people's expense; we became the abhorrence of every old
fruit-woman and beggar in the vicinity.

Captain Delmar heard occasionally of my pranks, and looked very majestic
and severe; but as I was not a middy, I cared little for his frowns.  At
last an opportunity offered which I could not resist; and, not daring to
make known my scheme either to Captain Bridgeman or Aunt Milly, I
confided it to Tommy Dott, the little middy, who, regardless of the
consequences, joined me in it heart and soul.

The theatre had been opened at Chatham, and had met with indifferent
success.  I went there once with my aunt Milly, and twice with Mr Dott;
I, therefore, knew my _locale_ well.  It appeared that one of the female
performers, whose benefit was shortly to take place, was very anxious to
obtain the patronage of Captain Delmar, and, with the usual tact of
women, had applied to my mother in the most obsequious manner,
requesting her to espouse her cause with the gallant captain.

My mother, pleased with the idea of becoming, as it were, a patroness
under the rose, did so effectually exert her influence over the captain,
that, in a day or two afterwards, play-bills were posted all over the
town, announcing that the play of _The Stranger_, with the farce of
_Raising the Wind_, would be performed on Friday evening, for the
benefit of Miss Mortimer under the patronage of the Honourable Captain
Delmar, and the officers of his Majesty's ship Calliope.  Of course the
grateful young lady sent my mother some tickets of admission, and two of
them I reserved for Tommy Dott and myself.

Captain Delmar had made a large party of ladies, and of course all the
officers of the ship attended: the house was as full as it could hold.
My mother and aunt were there in a retired part of the boxes; Tommy Dott
and I entered the theatre with them, and afterwards had gone up to what
is, at the theatres at seaports, usually denominated the slips, that is,
the sides of the theatre on the same range as the gallery.  There was
Captain Delmar with all his ladies and all his officers, occupying
nearly the whole of the side of the dress circle below us, we having
taken our position above him, so that we might not be observed.

The performance commenced.  Miss Mortimer, as _Mrs Haller_, was very
effective; and in the last scene was compelling the eyes of the company
to water, when we thought we would produce a still greater effect.

We had purchased a pound of the finest Scotch snuff, which we had
enclosed in two pasteboard cases, similar in form to those of squibs,
only about six times the size, and holding half a pound of snuff each.
Our object was, in doing this, that, by jerking it all out with a heave,
we might at once throw it right into the centre of the theatre above, so
that in its descent it might be fairly distributed among all parties.

There was no one in the slips with us, except midshipmen, and a
description of people who would consider it a good joke, and never would
peach if they perceived we were the culprits.

At a signal between us, just as _Mrs Haller_ was giving a paper to her
husband did we give our shower of snuff to the audience, jerking it
right across the theatre.  In a few minutes the effect was prodigious;
Captain Delmar's party being right beneath us, probably received a
greater share, for they commenced sneezing fast, then the boxes on the
other side, the pit followed, and at last _Mr and Mrs Haller_ and the
_Stranger_ were taken with such a fit of sneezing that they could no
longer talk to each other.

The children were brought out to their parents to effect their
reconciliation, but they did nothing but sneeze, poor things; and at
last the uproar was tremendous, and the curtain was dropped, not to loud
plaudits, but to loud sneezings from every part of the theatre.

Never was there anything so ludicrous; the manager sent officers up to
discover the offenders but no one could tell who had played the trick;
he then came before the curtain to make a speech upon the occasion, but,
having sneezed seven or eight times, he was obliged to retire with his
handkerchief to his nose; and the audience, finding it impossible to
check the titillation of the olfactory nerves, abandoned the theatre as
fast as they could, leaving the farce of _Raising the Wind_ to be
performed to empty beaches.

I hardly need say, that as soon as we had thrown the snuff, Mr Dott and
I had gone down and taken our places very demurely in the box by the
side of my mother, and appeared just as astonished, and indeed added as
much as possible to the company of sneezers.

Captain Delmar was very furious at this want of respect of certain
parties unknown, and had we been discovered, whatever might have been my
fate, it would have gone hard with Tommy Dott; but we kept our own
counsel, and escaped.

That I was suspected by Aunt Milly and Captain Bridgeman is certain, and
my aunt taxed me with it, but I would not confess; my mother also had
her suspicions, but as Captain Delmar had none, that was of no
consequence.

The success of this trick was a great temptation to try another or two
upon the noble captain.  He was, however saved by the simple fact of
H.M. ship Calliope being reported manned and ready for sea; orders were
sent down for his going round to Portsmouth to await the commands of the
Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty, and Captain Delmar came to pay his
farewell visit.

The report from the schoolmaster had been very favourable and Captain
Delmar then asked me, for the first time, if I would like to be a
sailor.  As Captain Bridgeman had advised me not to reject any good
offer on the part of the honourable captain, I answered in the
affirmative; whereupon the captain replied, that if I paid attention to
my learning, in a year's time he would take me with him on board of his
frigate.

He then patted my head, forgot to give me half a crown, and, shaking
hands with my mother and aunt, quitted the house, followed by Tommy
Dott, who, as he went away, turned and laughed his adieu.

I have not mentioned my grandmother lately.  The fact is, that when
Captain Delmar made his appearance, for some cause or another, which I
could not comprehend, she declared her intention of going away and
paying a visit to her old acquaintances at the Hall.  She did so.  As I
afterwards found out from what I overheard, she had a very great
aversion to the noble captain: but the cause of her aversion was never
communicated to me.  Soon after the sailing of the Calliope, she again
made her appearance, took her old seat in the easy-chair, and resumed
her eternal knitting as before.



CHAPTER TWELVE.

Another year of my existence passed rapidly away; I was nearly thirteen
years old, a sturdy bold boy, well fitted for the naval profession,
which I now considered decided upon, and began to be impatient to leave
school, and wondered that we heard nothing of Captain Delmar, when news
was received from another quarter.

One morning Captain Bridgeman came much earlier than usual, and with a
very grave face put on especially for the occasion.  I had not set off
for school, and ran up to him; but he checked me, and said, "I must see
your mother directly, I have very important news for her."

I went in to tell my mother, who requested Captain Bridgeman to come
into the parlour, and not being aware of the nature of the
communication, ordered Aunt Milly and me into the shop; we waited for
some minutes, and then Captain Bridgeman made his appearance.

"What is the matter?" said Milly.

"Read this newspaper," said he; "there is a despatch from India, it will
tell you all about it, and you can show it to your sister, when she is
more composed."

Curious to know what the matter could be, I quitted the shop, and went
into the parlour, where I saw my mother with her face buried in the sofa
pillow, and apparently in great distress.

"What's the matter, mother?" said I.

"Oh! my child, my child!" replied my mother, wringing her hands, "you
are an orphan, and I am a lonely widow."

"How's that?" said I.

"How's that?" said my grandmother, "why, are you such a fool, as not to
understand that your father is dead?"

"Father's dead, is he?" replied I, "I'll go and tell Aunt Milly;" and
away I went out of the parlour to Milly, whom I found reading the
newspaper.

"Aunt," said I, "father's dead, only to think!  I wonder how he died!"

"He was killed in action, dear," said my aunt; "look here, here is the
account, and the list of killed and wounded.  D'ye see your father's
name--Benjamin Keene, marine?"

"Let me read all about it, Aunt Milly," replied I, taking the paper from
her; and I was soon very busy with the account of the action.

My readers must not suppose that I had no feeling, because I showed none
at my father's death; if they call to mind the humble position in which
I had always seen my father, who dared not even intrude upon the
presence of those with whom my mother and I were on familiar terms, and
that he was ordered about just like a servant by my mother, who set me
no example of fear or love for him, they will easily imagine that I felt
less for his death than I should have for that of Captain Bridgeman, or
many others with whom I was on intimate terms.

What did puzzle me was, that my mother should show so much feeling on
the occasion.  I did not know the world then, and that decency required
a certain display of grief.  Aunt Milly appeared to be very unconcerned
about it, although, occasionally, she was in deep thought.  I put down
the paper as soon as I had read the despatch, and said to her, "Well, I
suppose I must go to school now, aunt?"

"Oh no, dear," replied she, "you can't go to school for a few days now--
it wouldn't be proper; you must remain at home and wait till you have
put on mourning."

"I'm glad of that, at all events," replied I; "I wonder where Captain
Delmar is, and why he don't send for me; I begin to hate school."

"I dare say it won't be long before you hear from him, dear," replied my
aunt; "stay here and mind the shop, while I go in to your mother."

If the truth was told, I am afraid that the death of Ben was a source of
congratulation to all parties who were then in the parlour.  As for me,
I was very glad to have a few days' holiday, being perfectly indifferent
as to whether he was dead or alive.

When I went in I found them in consultation as to the mourning: my
mother did not, in the first place, wish to make any a parade about a
husband of whom she was ashamed; in the second, she did not like widow's
weeds, and the unbecoming cap.  So it was decided, as Ben had been dead
six months, and if they had known it before they would have been in
mourning for him all that time, that half-mourning was all that was
requisite for them; and that, as for me, there was no reason for my
going into mourning at all.

Three days after the intelligence, my mother re-appeared in the shop;
the reason why she did not appear before was, that her dress was not
ready--she looked very pretty indeed in half-mourning, so did my Aunt
Milly; and the attentions of the marine corps, especially Captain
Bridgeman and Lieutenant Flat, were more unremitting than ever.

It appeared that, as the death of Ben had removed the great difficulty
to my aunt's being married to an officer, my grandmother had resolved to
ascertain the intentions of Captain Bridgeman, and if she found that he
cried off, to persuade Milly to consent to become Mrs Flat.  Whether
she consulted my mother or my aunt on this occasion, I cannot positively
say, but I rather think not.

My mother and my aunt were walking out one evening, when Captain
Bridgeman came in, and my grandmother, who remained in the shop whenever
my mother and Milly went out together, which was very seldom, requested
him to walk into the back parlour, desiring me to remain in the shop,
and let her know if she was wanted.

Now when they went into the parlour, the door was left ajar, and, as I
remained at the back part of the shop, I could not help over-hearing
every word which was said; for my grandmother being very deaf, as most
deaf people do, talked quite as loud as Captain Bridgeman was compelled
to do, to make her hear him.

"I wish, Captain Bridgeman, as a friend, to ask your advice relative to
my daughter Amelia," said the old lady.  "Please to take a chair."

"If there is any opinion that I can offer on the subject, madam, I shall
be most happy to give it," replied the captain, sitting down as
requested.

"You see, my daughter Amelia has been well brought up, and carefully
educated, as was, indeed, my daughter, Arabella, through the kindness of
my old patron, Mrs Delmar, the aunt of the Honourable Captain Delmar,
whom you have often met here, and who is heir to the title of de
Versely; that is to say, his eldest brother has no children.  I have
been nearly fifty years in the family as a confidential, Captain
Bridgeman; the old lord was very fond of my husband, who was his
steward, but he died, poor man, a long while ago; I am sure it would
have broken his heart, if, in his lifetime, my daughter Arabella had
made the foolish marriage which she did with a private marine--however,
what's done can't be helped, as the saying is--that's all over now."

"It was certainly a great pity that Mrs Keene should have been so
foolish," replied Captain Bridgeman, "but, as you say, that is all over
now."

"Yes; God's will be done, Captain Bridgeman; now you see, sir, that this
marriage of Bella's has done no good to the prospects of her sister
Amelia, who, nevertheless, is a good and pretty girl though I say it,
who am her mother; and moreover, she will bring a pretty penny to her
husband whoever he may be; for you see, Captain Bridgeman, my husband
was not idle during the time that he was in the family of the Delmars,
and as her sister is so well to do, why little Amelia will come into a
greater share than she otherwise would--that is, if she marries well,
and according to the wishes of her mother."

At this interesting part of the conversation Captain Bridgeman leant
more earnestly towards my grandmother.

"A pretty penny, madam, you said; I never heard the expression before;
what may a pretty penny mean?"

"It means, first and last, 4,000 pounds, Captain Bridgeman; part down,
and the other when I die."

"Indeed," replied Captain Bridgeman; "I certainly never thought that
Miss Amelia would ever have any fortune; indeed, she's too pretty and
accomplished to require any."

"Now, sir," continued my grandmother, "the point on which I wish to
consult you is this: you know that Lieutenant Flat is very often here,
and for a long while has been very attentive to my daughter; he has, I
believe, almost as much as proposed--that is, in his sort of way; but my
daughter does not seem to care for him.  Now, Captain Bridgeman, Mr
Flat may not be very clever, but I believe him to be a very worthy young
man; still one must be cautious, and what I wish to know before I
interfere and persuade my daughter to marry him is, whether you think
that Mr Flat is of a disposition which would make the marriage state a
happy one; for you see, Captain Bridgeman, love before marriage is very
apt to fly away, but love that comes after marriage will last out your
life."

"Well, madam," replied the captain, "I will be candid with you; I do not
think that a clever girl like Miss Amelia is likely to be happy as the
wife of my good friend Mr Flat--still there is nothing against his
character, madam; I believe him harmless--very harmless."

"He's a very fine-looking young man, Captain Bridgeman."

"Yes; nothing to be found fault with in his appearance."

"Very good-natured."

"Yes; he's not very quick in temper, or anything else; he's what we call
a slow-coach."

"I hear he's a very correct officer, Captain Bridgeman."

"Yes; I am not aware that he has ever been under an arrest."

"Well, we cannot expect everything in this world; he is handsome,
good-tempered, and a good officer--I cannot see why Amelia does not like
him, particularly as her affections are not otherwise engaged.  I am
satisfied with the answer you have given, Captain Bridgeman, and now I
shall point out to Amelia that I expect she will make up her mind to
accept Mr Flat."

Here Captain Bridgeman hesitated.

"Indeed, madam, if her affections are not otherwise engaged--I say--are
not engaged, madam, I do not think she could do better.  Would, you like
me to sound Miss Amelia on the subject?"

"Really, Captain Bridgeman, it is very kind of you; you may, perhaps,
persuade her to listen to your friend Mr Flat."

"I will, at all events, ascertain her real sentiments, madam," said the
captain, rising; "and, if you please, I will say farewell for the
present."

As my grandmother anticipated, the scale, which had been so long
balanced by Captain Bridgeman, was weighed down in favour of marriage by
the death of my father Ben, and the unexpected fortune of 4,000 pounds.

The next day the captain proposed and was accepted, and six weeks from
that date my aunt Milly became his wife.

The wedding was very gay: some people did sneer at the match, but where
was there ever a match without a sneer?  There are always and everywhere
people to be found who will envy the happiness of others.  Some talked
about the private marine; this attack was met with the 4,000 pounds (or
rather 8,000 pounds per annum, for rumour, as usual, had doubled the
sum); others talked of the shop as _infra dig_; the set-off against
which was, the education and beauty of the bride.  One or two subs'
wives declared that they would not visit Mrs Bridgeman; but when the
colonel and his lady called to congratulate the new-married couple, and
invited a large party in their own house to meet them, then then subs'
wives left their cards as soon as they could.

In a few weeks all was right again: my mother would not give up her
shop--it was too lucrative; but she was on more intimate terms with her
customers; and when people found that, although her sister was a
captain's lady, my mother had too much sense to be ashamed of her
position; why they liked her the better.  Indeed, as she was still very
handsome, one or two of the marine officers, now that she was a widow,
paid her very assiduous court; but my mother had no intention of
entering again into the holy state--she preferred STATE _in quo_.  She
had no one to care for but me, and for me she continued her shop and
library, although, I believe, she could have retired upon a comfortable
independence, had she chosen so to do.

My mother, whatever she might have been when a girl, was now a
strong-minded, clever woman.  It must have been a painful thing for her
to have made up her mind to allow me to go to sea; I was her only child,
her only care; I believe she loved me dearly, although she was not so
lavish of her caresses as my aunt Milly; but she perceived that it would
be for my advantage that I should insure the patronage and protection of
Captain Delmar, and she sacrificed self to my interest.



CHAPTER THIRTEEN.

About a month after my aunt's marriage, a letter was received from
Captain Delmar, who had arrived at Spithead, requesting my mother to
send me to Portsmouth as soon as she could, and not go to the trouble or
expense of fitting me out, as he would take that upon himself.

This was but short notice to give a fond mother, but there was no help
for it; she returned an answer, that in three days from the date of the
letter I should be there.

I was immediately summoned from school that she might see as much of me
as possible before I went; and although she did not attempt to detain
me, I perceived, very often, the tears run down her cheeks.

My grandmother thought proper to make me very long speeches every three
or four hours, the substance of which may be comprehended in very few
words--to wit, that I had been a very bad boy, and that I was little
better now; that I had been spoiled by over-indulgence, and that it was
lucky my aunt Milly was not so much with me; that on board a man-of-war
I dare not play tricks, and that I would find it very different from
being at home with my mother; that Captain Delmar was a very great man,
and that I must be very respectful to him; that some day I should thank
her very much for her being so kind to me; that she hoped I would behave
well, and that if I did not, she hoped that I would get a good beating.

Such was the burden of her song, till at last I got very tired of it,
and on the third evening I broke away from her, saying, "Law, granny how
you do twaddle!" upon which she called me a good-for-nothing young
blackguard, and felt positively sure that I should be hanged.  The
consequence was, that granny and I did not part good friends; and I
sincerely hoped that when I had come back again, I should not find her
above ground.

The next morning I bade farewell to my dear Aunt Milly and Captain
Bridgeman, received a very ungracious salute from granny, who appeared
to think, as she kissed me, that her lips were touching something
poisonous, and set off with my mother in the coach to Portsmouth.

We arrived safe at Portsmouth, and my mother immediately took lodgings
on the Common Hard at Portsea.  The next day, having dressed herself
with great care, with a very thick veil on her bonnet, my mother walked
with me to the George Hotel, where Captain Delmar had taken up his
quarters.

On my mother sending up her card, we were immediately ushered upstairs,
and on entering the room found the Honourable Captain Delmar sitting
down in full uniform--his sword, and hat, and numerous papers, lying on
the table before him.  On one side of the table stood a lieutenant, hat
in hand; on the other, the captain's clerk, with papers for him to sign.
My friend Tommy Dott was standing at the window, chasing a blue-bottle
fly, for want of something better to do; and the steward was waiting for
orders behind the captain's chair.

My mother, who had pulled down her veil, so that her face was not
visible, made a slight courtesy to Captain Delmar, who rose up and
advanced to receive her very graciously, requesting that she would be
seated for a minute or two, till he had time to speak to her.

I have thought since, that my honourable captain had a mind to impress
upon my mother the state and dignity of a captain in his Majesty's
service, when in commission.  He took no notice whatever of me.  Tommy
Dott gave me a wink of his eye from the window, and I returned the
compliment by putting my tongue into my cheek; but the other parties
were too much occupied with the captain to perceive our friendly
recognition.  Captain Delmar continued to give various orders, and after
a time the officers attending were dismissed.

As soon as we were alone, my mother was addressed in, I thought, rather
a pompous way, and very much in contrast with his previous politeness
before others.  Captain Delmar informed her that he should take me
immediately under his protection, pay all my expenses, and, if I behaved
well, advance me in the service.

At this announcement, my mother expressed a great deal of gratitude,
and, shedding a few tears, said, that the boy would in future look up to
him as a parent.  To this speech Captain Delmar made no reply; but,
changing the conversation, told her that he expected to sail in about
three or four days, and that no time must be lost in fitting me out;
that, all things considered, he thought it advisable that she should
return at once to Chatham, and leave the boy with him as she could not
know what was requisite for me, and would therefore be of no use.

At the idea of parting with me, my mother cried bitterly.  Captain
Delmar did then rise off his chair, and taking my mother by the hand
speak to her a few words of consolation.  My mother removed her
handkerchief from her eyes and sighed deeply, saying to Captain Delmar,
with an appealing look, "Oh!  Captain Delmar, remember that for you I
have indeed made great sacrifices; do not forget them, when you look at
that boy, who is very dear to me."

"I will do him justice," replied the captain, somewhat affected, "but I
must insist upon inviolable secrecy on your part; you must promise me
that under any circumstances--"

"I have obeyed you for thirteen years," replied my mother; "I am not
likely to forget my promise now; it is hard to part with him, but I
leave him in the hands of--"

"You forget the boy is there," interrupted Captain Delmar; "take him
away now; to-morrow morning I will send my coxswain for him, and you
must go back to Chatham."

"God bless you, sir," replied my mother, weeping, as Captain Delmar
shook her hand, and then we left the room.  As we were walking back to
our lodging, I inquired of my mother--"What's the secret between you and
Captain Delmar, mother?"

"The secret, child!  Oh, something which took place at the time I was
living with his aunt, and which he does not wish to have known; so ask
me no more questions about it."

After our return, my mother gave me a great deal of advice.  She told me
that, as I had lost my father Ben, I must now look upon Captain Delmar
as a father to me; that Ben had been a faithful servant to the captain,
and that she had been the same to Mrs Delmar, his aunt; and that was
the reason why Captain Delmar was interested about me, and had promised
to do so much for me; begging me to treat him with great respect and
never venture to play him any tricks, or otherwise he would be highly
offended, and send me home again; and then I should never rise to be an
officer in his Majesty's service.

I cannot say the advice received the attention it deserved, for I felt
more inclined to play tricks to my honourable captain than any person I
ever met with; however, I appeared to consent, and, in return begged my
mother to take care of my dog Bob, which she promised to do.

My mother cried a great deal during the night; the next morning she gave
me five guineas as pocket-money, recommending me to be careful of it,
and telling me I must look to Captain Delmar for my future supply.  She
tied up the little linen I had brought with me in a handkerchief, and
shortly after the coxswain knocked at the door, and came upstairs to
claim me for his Majesty's service.

"I'm come for the youngster, if you please, marm," said the coxswain, a
fine, tall seaman, remarkably clean and neat in his dress.

My mother put her arms round me, and burst into tears.

"I beg your pardon, marm," said the coxswain, after standing silent
about a minute, "but could not you _do the piping_ after the youngster's
gone?  If I stay here long I shall be blowed up by the skipper, as sure
as my name's Bob Cross."

"I will detain you but a few seconds longer," replied my mother; "I may
never see him again."

"Well, that's a fact; my poor mother never did me," replied the
coxswain.

This observation did not raise my mother's spirits.  Another pause
ensued, during which I was bedewed with her tears, when the coxswain
approached again--

"I ax your pardon, marm; but if you know anything of Captain Delmar, you
must know he's not a man to be played with, and you would not wish to
get me into trouble.  It's a hard thing to part with a child, I'm told,
but it wouldn't help me if I said anything about your tears.  If the
captain were to go to the boat, and find me not there, he'd just say,
`What were my orders, sir?' and after that, you know, marm, there is not
a word for me to say."

"Take him, then, my good man," replied my mother, pressing me
convulsively to her heart--"take him; Heaven bless you, my dear child."

"Thanky, marm; that's kind of you," replied the coxswain.  "Come, my
little fellow, we'll soon make a man of you."

I once more pressed my lips to my poor mother's, and she resigned me to
the coxswain, at the same time taking some silver off the table and
putting it into his hand.

"Thanky, marm; that's kinder still, to think of another when you're in
distress yourself; I shan't forget it.  I'll look after the lad a bit
for you, as sure as my name's Bob Cross."

My mother sank down on the sofa, with her handkerchief to her eyes.

Bob Cross caught up the bundle, and led me away.  I was very melancholy,
for I loved my mother, and could not bear to see her so distressed, and
for some time we walked on without speaking.

The coxswain first broke the silence:--"What's your name, my little
Trojan?" said he.

"Percival Keene."

"Well I'm blessed if I didn't think that you were one of the Delmar
breed, by the cut of your jib; howsomever, it's a wise child that knows
its own father."

"Father's dead," replied I.

"Dead!  Well, fathers do die sometimes; you must get on how you can
without one.  I don't think fathers are of much use, for, you see,
mothers take care of you till you're old enough to go to sea.  My father
did nothing for me, except to help mother to lick me, when I was
obstropolous."

The reader, from what he has already been informed about Ben, the
marine, may easily conceive that I was very much of Bob Cross's opinion.

"I suppose you don't know anybody on board--do you?"

"Yes, I know Tommy Dott--I knew him when the ship was at Chatham."

"Oh!  Mr Tommy Dott; I dare say you're just like him, for you look full
of mischief.  He's a very nice young man for a small party, as the
saying is; there is more devil in his little carcase than in two
women's, and that's not a trifle; you'll hunt in couples, I dare say,
and get well flogged at the same gun, if you don't take care.  Now, here
we are, and I must report my arrival with you under convoy."

Bob Cross sent a waiter for the captain's steward, who went up to
Captain Delmar.  I was ordered to go upstairs, and again found myself in
the presence of the noble captain, and a very stout elderly man, with a
flaxen wig.

"This is the lad," said Captain Delmar, when I came into the room and
walked up to him; "you know exactly what he requires; oblige me by
seeing him properly fitted out and the bill sent in to me."

"Your orders shall be strictly obeyed, Captain Delmar," said the old
gentleman, with a profound bow.

"You had better not order too many things, as he is growing fast; it
will be easy to make good any deficiencies as they may be required."

"Your orders shall be most strictly obeyed, Captain Delmar," replied the
old gentleman, with another bow.

"I hardly know what to do with him for to-day and to-morrow, until his
uniforms are made," continued the captain: "I suppose he must go on
board."

"If you have no objection, Captain Delmar," said the old gentleman, with
another low bow, "I am sure that Mrs Culpepper will be most proud to
take charge of any _protege_ of yours; we have a spare bed, and the
young gentleman can remain with us until he is ready to embark in the
uniform of his rank."

"Be it so, Mr Culpepper; let your wife take care of him until all is
complete, and his chest is ready.  You'll oblige me by arranging about
his mess."

"Your wishes shall be most strictly attended to, Captain Delmar,"
replied Mr Culpepper, with another profound inclination, which made me
feel very much inclined to laugh.

"If you have no further orders, Captain Delmar, I will now take the
young gentleman with me."

"Nothing more, Mr Culpepper--good morning," replied Captain Delmar, who
neither said how d'ye do to me when I came in, or good bye when I went
away in company with Mr Culpepper.  I had yet to learn what a thing of
no consequence was a "sucking Nelson."

I followed Mr Culpepper down stairs, who desired me to remain with the
coxswain, who was standing under the archway, while he spoke to the
captain's steward.

"Well," said Bob Cross, "what's the ticket, youngster,--are you to go
abroad with me?"

"No," said I; "I am to stay on shore with that old chap, who does
nothing but bob his head up and down.  Who is he?"

"That's our nipcheese."

"Nipcheese!"

"Yes; nipcheese means purser of the ship--you'll find all that out
by-and-by; you've got lots to larn, and, by way of a hint, make him your
friend if you can, for he earwigs the captain in fine style."

Perceiving that I did not understand him, Bob Cross continued: "I mean
that our captain's very fond of the officers paying him great respect,
and he likes all that bowing and scraping; he don't like officers or men
to touch their hats, but to take them right off their heads when they
speak to him.  You see, he's a sprig of nobility, as they call it, and
what's more he's also a post-captain, and thinks no small beer of
himself; so don't forget what I say--here comes the purser."

Mr Culpepper now came out, and, taking my hand, led me away to his own
house, which was at Southsea.  He did not speak a word during the walk,
but appeared to be in deep cogitation: at last we arrived at his door.



CHAPTER FOURTEEN.

Why is it that I detain the reader with Mr Culpepper and his family?  I
don't know, but I certainly have an inclination to linger over every
little detail of events which occurred upon my first plunging into the
sea of life, just as naked boys on the New River side stand shivering a
while, before they can make up their minds to dash into the unnatural
element; for men are not ducks, although they do show some affinity to
geese by their venturing upon the treacherous fluid.

The door was opened, and I found myself in the presence of Mrs
Culpepper and her daughter,--the heiress, as I afterwards discovered, to
all Mr Culpepper's savings, which were asserted to be something
considerable after thirty years' employment as purser of various vessels
belonging to his Majesty.

Mrs Culpepper was in person enormous--she looked like a feather-bed
standing on end; her cheeks were as large as a dinner-plate, eyes almost
as imperceptible as a mole's, nose just visible, mouth like a round O.
It was said that she was once a great Devonshire beauty.  Time, who has
been denominated _Edax rerum_, certainly had as yet left her untouched,
reserving her for a _bonne bouche_ on some future occasion.

She sat in a very large arm-chair--indeed, no common-sized chair could
have received her capacious person.  She did not get up when I entered;
indeed, as I discovered, she made but two attempts to stand during the
twenty-four hours; one was to come out of her bedroom, which was on the
same floor as the parlour, and the other to go in again.

Miss Culpepper was somewhat of her mother's build.  She might have been
twenty years old, and was, for a girl of her age, exuberantly fat; yet
as her skin and complexion were not coarse, many thought her handsome;
but she promised to be as large as her mother, and certainly was not at
all suited for a wife to a subaltern of a marching regiment.

"Who have we here?" said Mrs Culpepper to her husband, in a sort of low
croak; for she was so smothered with fat that she could not get her
voice out.

"Well, I hardly know," replied the gentleman, wiping his forehead; "but
I've my own opinion."

"Mercy on me, how very like!" exclaimed Miss Culpepper, looking at me,
and then at her father.  "Would not you like to go into the garden,
little boy?" continued she: "there, through the passage, out of the
door,--you can't miss it."

As this was almost a command, I did not refuse to go; but as soon as I
was in the garden, which was a small patch of ground behind the house,
as the window to the parlour was open, and my curiosity was excited by
their evidently wishing to say something which they did not wish me to
hear, I stopped under the window and listened.

"The very picture of him," continued the young lady.

"Yes, yes, very like indeed," croaked the old one.

"All I know is," said Mr Culpepper, "Captain Delmar has desired me to
fit him out, and that he pays all the expenses."

"Well, that's another proof," said the young lady; "he wouldn't pay for
other people's children."

"He was brought down here by a very respectable-looking, I may say
interesting, and rather pretty woman,--I should think about thirty."

"Then she must have been handsome when this boy was born," replied the
young lady: "I consider that another proof.  Where is she?"

"Went away this morning by the day-coach, leaving the boy with the
captain, who sent his coxswain for him."

"There's mystery about that," rejoined the daughter, "and therefore I
consider it another proof."

"Yes," said Mr Culpepper, "and a strong one too.  Captain Delmar is so
high and mighty, that he would not have it thought that he could ever
condescend to have an intrigue with one beneath him in rank and station,
and he has sent her away on that account, depend upon it."

"Just so; and if that boy is not a son of Captain Delmar, I'm not a
woman."

"I am of that opinion," replied the father, "and therefore I offered to
take charge of him, as the captain did not know what to do with him till
his uniform was ready."

"Well," replied Miss Culpepper, "I'll soon find out more.  I'll pump
everything that he knows out of him before he leaves us; I know how to
put that and that together."

"Yes," croaked the fat mother; "Medea knows how to put that and that
together, as well as any one."

"You must be very civil and very kind to him," said Mr Culpepper; "for
depend upon it, the very circumstance of the captain's being compelled
to keep the boy at a distance will make him feel more fond of him."

"I've no patience with the men in that respect," observed the young
lady: "how nobility can so demean themselves I can't think; no wonder
they are ashamed of what they have done, and will not acknowledge their
own offspring."

"No, indeed," croaked the old lady.

"If a woman has the misfortune to yield to her inclinations, they don't
let her off so easily," exclaimed Miss Medea.

"No, indeed," croaked the mamma again.

"Men make the laws and break them," continued Miss Culpepper.  "Mere
brute strength, even in the most civilised society.  If all women had
only the spirit that I have, there would be a little alteration, and
more justice."

"I can't pretend to argue with you, Medea," replied Mr Culpepper; "I
take the world as I find it, and make the best of it.  I must go now,--
my steward is waiting for me at the victualling office.  Just brush my
hat a little, Medea, the wind has raised the nap, and then I'll be off."

I walked very softly from the window; a new light had burst upon me.
Young as I was, I also could put that and that together.  I called to
mind the conduct of my mother towards her husband Ben; the dislike of my
grandmother to Captain Delmar; the occasional conversations I had
overheard; the question of my mother checked before it was finished--"If
I knew who it was that I had been playing the trick to;" the visits my
mother received from Captain Delmar, who was so haughty and distant to
everybody; his promise to provide for me, and my mother's injunctions to
me to be obedient and look up to him as a father, and the remarks of the
coxswain, Bob Cross,--"If I were not of the Delmar breed:" all this,
added to what I had just overheard, satisfied me that they were not
wrong in their conjectures, and that I really was the son of the
honourable captain.

My mother had gone; I would have given worlds to have gained this
information before, that I might have questioned her, and obtained the
truth from her; but that was now impossible, and I felt convinced that
writing was of no use.  I recollected the conversation between her and
the Captain, in which she promised to keep the secret, and the answer
she gave me when I questioned her; nothing, then, but my tears and
entreaties could have any effect, and those, I knew, were powerful over
her; neither would it be of any use to ask Aunt Milly, for she would not
tell her sister's secrets, so I resolved to say nothing about it for the
present; and I did not forget that Mr Culpepper had said that Captain
Delmar would be annoyed if it was supposed that I was his son; I
resolved, therefore, that I would not let him imagine that I knew
anything about it, or had any idea of it.

I remained more than an hour in deep thought, and it was strange what a
tumult there was in my young heart at this discovery.  I hardly
comprehended the nature of my position, yet I felt pleased on the whole;
I felt as if I were of more importance; nay, that I was more capable of
thinking and acting than I was twenty-four hours before.

My reveries were, however, disturbed by Miss Medea, who came to the
back-door and asked me if I was not tired of walking, and if I would not
like to come in.

"Are you not hungry, Master Keene?  Would you like to have a nice piece
of cake and a glass of currant wine before dinner?  We shall not dine
till three o'clock."

"If you please," replied I: for I would not refuse the bribe, although I
had a perfect knowledge why it was offered.

Miss Medea brought the cake and wine.  As soon as I had despatched them,
which did not take very long, she commenced her pumping, as I had
anticipated, and which I was determined to thwart, merely out of
opposition.

"You were sorry to leave your mamma, weren't you, Master Keene?"

"Yes; very sorry, miss."

"Where's your papa, dearest?  He's a very pretty boy, mamma, ain't he?"
continued the young lady, putting her fingers through my chestnut curls.

"Yes; handsome boy," croaked the old lady.

"Papa's dead."

"Dead!  I thought so," observed Miss Medea, winking at her mother.

"Did you ever see your papa, dearest?"

"Oh yes; he went to sea about eighteen months ago, and he was killed in
action."

After this came on a series of questions and cross-questions; I replied
to her so as to make it appear that Ben was my father, and nobody else,
although I had then a very different opinion.  The fact was, I was
determined that I would not be pumped, and I puzzled them, for I stated
that my aunt Milly was married to Captain Bridgeman, of the marines; and
not till then did Miss Medea ask me what my father was.  My reply was
that he had also been in the marines, and they consequently put him down
as a marine officer, as well as Captain Bridgeman.

This added so much to the respectability of my family, that they were
quite mystified, and found that it was not quite so easy to put that and
that together as they had thought.

As soon as they were tired of questioning, they asked me if I would not
like to take another turn in the garden, to which I consented; and,
placing myself under the window as before, I heard Miss Medea say to her
mother--

"Father's always finding out some mare's nest or another; and because
there is some likeness to the captain, he has, in his great wit, made an
important discovery.  It's quite evident that he's wrong, as he
generally is.  It's not very likely that Captain Delmar should have had
an intrigue with the wife of a marine officer, and her sister married
also into the corps.  The widow has brought him down herself, it is
true, but that proves nothing; who else was to bring him down, if it was
not his mother? and the very circumstance of her going away so soon
proves that she felt it improper that she should remain; and, in my
opinion, that she is a modest, interesting young woman, in whom Captain
Delmar has taken an interest.  I wish father would not come here with
his nonsensical ideas, telling us to make much of the boy."

"Very true, Medea," replied the mother; "you might have saved that cake
and wine."

Thinks I to myself, you have not pumped me, and I never felt more
delighted than at having outwitted them.  I thought it, however, prudent
to walk away from the window.

Shortly afterwards, Mr Culpepper returned, accompanied by one of the
numerous Portsmouth fitting-out tailors.  I was summoned; the tailor
presented a list of what he declared to be absolutely necessary for the
outfit of a gentleman.

Mr Culpepper struck out two-thirds of the articles, and desired the
remainder to be ready on the Friday morning, it being then Wednesday.
The tailor promised faithfully, and Mr Culpepper also promised most
faithfully, that if the articles were not ready, they would be left on
his hands.  As soon as the tailor had gone, Miss Medea asked me if I
would not like to take another run in the garden.  I knew that she
wished to speak to her father, and therefore had a pleasure in
disappointing her.  I therefore replied, that I had been there nearly
the whole day, and did not wish to go out any more.

"Never mind whether you wish it or not; I wish you to go," replied Miss
Medea, tartly.

"Medea, how can you be so rude?" cried Mr Culpepper; "surely Mr Keene
may do as he pleases.  I'm surprised at you, Medea."

"And I'm surprised at you, papa, finding out a mystery when there is
none," replied Miss Medea, very cross.  "All you said this morning, and
all your surmises, have turned out to be all moonshine.  Yes, you may
look, papa; I tell you--all moonshine."

"Why, Medea, what nonsense you are talking," replied Mr Culpepper.

"Medea's right," croaked Mrs Culpepper; "all moonshine."

"So you need not be so very particular, papa, I can tell you," rejoined
Miss Medea, who then whispered in her father's ear, loud enough for me
to hear, "No such thing, nothing but a regular marine."

"Pooh, nonsense," replied the purser, in a low voice; "the boy has been
taught to say it--he's too clever for you, Medea."

At this very true remark of her father's, Miss Medea swelled into a
towering passion, her whole face, neck, and shoulders--for she wore a
low gown in the morning--turning to a fiery scarlet.  I never saw such a
fury as she appeared to be.  She rushed by me so roughly, that I was
thrown back a couple of paces, and then she bounced out of the room.

"Medea knows how to put that and that together, Mr Culpepper," croaked
out Mrs Culpepper.

"Medea's wise in her own conceit, and you're a regular old fool,"
rejoined Mr Culpepper, with asperity; "one too knowing and the other
not half knowing enough.  Master Keene, I hope you are hungry, for we
have a very nice dinner.  Do you like ducks and green peas?"

"Yes, sir, very much," replied I.

"Were you born at Chatham, Master Keene?"

"No, sir, I was born at the Hall, near Southampton.  My mother was
brought up by old Mrs Delmar, the captain's aunt."

I gave this intelligence on purpose; as I knew it would puzzle Miss
Medea, who had just returned from the kitchen.

Mr Culpepper nodded his head triumphantly to his daughter and wife, who
both appeared dumb-founded at this new light thrown upon the affair.

Miss Medea paused a moment and then said to me,--"I wish to ask you one
question, Master Keene."

"I will not answer any more of your questions, miss," replied I; "You
have been questioning me all the morning, and just now, you were so rude
as nearly to push me down.  If you want to know anything more, ask
Captain Delmar; or, if you wish it, I will ask Captain Delmar whether I
am to answer you, and if he says I am, I will, but not without."

This was a decided blow on my part; mother and Medea both looked
frightened, and Mr Culpepper was more alarmed than either of the
females.  It proved to them that I knew what they were inquiring for,
which was to them also proof that I also knew who I was; and further, my
reference to Captain Delmar satisfied them that I felt sure of his
support, and they knew that he would be very much irritated if I told
him on what score they had been pumping me.

"You are very right, Master Keene," said Mr Culpepper, turning very
red, "to refuse to answer any questions you don't like; and, Medea, I'm
surprised at your behaviour; I insist upon it you do not annoy Master
Keene with any more of your impertinent curiosity."

"No, no," croaked the old lady; "hold your tongue, Medea, hold your
tongue."

Miss Medea, who looked as if she could tear my eyes out if she dared,
swallowed down her rage as well as she could.  She was mortified at
finding she had made a mistake, annoyed at my answering her so boldly,
and frightened at her father's anger; for the old gentleman was very apt
to vent it in the _argumentum ad feminam_, and box her ears soundly.

Fortunately dinner was served just at this moment, and this gave a turn
to the conversation, and also to their thoughts.  Mr Culpepper was all
attention, and Miss Medea, gradually recovering her temper, also became
affable and condescending.

The evening passed away very agreeably; but I went to bed early, as I
wished to be left to my own reflections, and it was not till daylight
that I could compose my troubled mind so as to fall asleep.



CHAPTER FIFTEEN.

Although the aversion which I had taken to the whole Culpepper family
was so great, that I could have done anything to annoy them, my mind was
now so fully occupied with the information which I had collected
relative to my supposed birth and parentage, that I could not think of
mischief.

I walked on the common or in the little garden during the whole of the
following day, plunged in deep thought, and at night, when I went to
bed, I remained awake till the dawn.  During these last two days I had
thought and reflected more than I had perhaps done from the hour of my
birth.

That I was better off than I should have been if I had been the son of a
private in the marines, I felt convinced; but still I had a feeling that
I was in a position in which I might be subjected to much insult, and
that, unless I was acknowledged by my aristocratic parent, my connection
with his family would be of no use to me;--and Captain Delmar, how was I
to behave to him?  I did not like him much, that was certain, nor did
this new light which had burst forth make me feel any more love for him
than I did before.  Still my mother's words at Chatham rung in my ears,
"Do you know who it is that you have been?" etcetera.  I felt sure that
he was my father, and I felt a sort of duty towards him; perhaps an
increase of respect.

These were anxious thoughts for a boy not fourteen; and the Culpeppers
remarked, that I had not only looked very pale, but had actually grown
thin in the face during my short stay.

As I was very quiet and reserved after the first day, they were very
glad when my clothes were brought home, and I was reported ready to
embark; so was I, for I wanted to go on board and see my friend Tommy
Dott, with whom I intended, if the subject was brought up, to consult as
to my proceedings, or perhaps I thought it would be better to consult
Bob Cross, the captain's coxswain; I was not sure that I should not
advise with them both.

I had made up my mind how to behave to my mother.  I knew that she would
never acknowledge the truth, after what had passed between the captain
and her when I was present; but I was resolved that I would let her know
that I was in the secret; and I thought that the reply to me would be a
guide as to the correctness of the fact, which, with all the hastiness
of boyhood, I considered as incontrovertible, although I had not the
least positive proof.

The day that I was to go on board, I requested Miss Culpepper to give me
a sheet of paper, that I might write to my mother; she supplied me very
readily, saying, "You had better let me see if you make any mistake in
your spelling before the letter goes; your mamma will be so pleased if
you write your letter properly."  She then went down into the kitchen to
give some orders.

As I had not the slightest intention that she should read what I wrote,
and resolved to have it in the post before she came up again, I was very
concise in my epistle, which was as follows:--

  "Dear Mother:--I have found it all out--I am the son of Captain
  Delmar, and everyone here knows what you have kept a secret from me.
  I go on board to-day.

  "Yours truly, P. KEENE."

This was very short, and, it must be admitted, direct to the point.  I
could not perhaps have written one which was so calculated to give my
mother uneasiness.

As soon as it was finished, I folded it up, and lighted a taper to seal
it.  Old Mrs Culpepper, who was in the room, croaked out, "No, no; you
must show it to Medea."  But I paid no attention to her, and having
sealed my letter, put on my hat, and walked out to the post-office.  I
dropped it into the box, and, on returning, found Mr Culpepper coming
home, accompanied by Bob Cross, the captain's coxswain, and two of the
boat's crew.

As I presumed, they were sent for me; I joined them immediately, and was
kindly greeted by Bob Cross, who said:--

"Well, Mr Keene, are you all ready for shipping?  We've come for your
traps."

"All ready," replied I, "and very glad to go, for I'm tired of staying
on shore doing nothing."

We were soon at the house; the seamen carried away my chest and bedding,
while Bob Cross remained a little while, that I might pay my farewell to
the ladies.

The ceremony was not attended with much regret on either side.  Miss
Culpepper could not help asking me why I did not show her my letter, and
I replied, that there were secrets in it, which answer did not at all
add to her good temper; our adieus were, therefore, anything but
affectionate, and before the men with my effects were a hundred yards in
advance, Bob Cross and I were at their heels.

"Well, Master Keene," said Bob, as we wended our way across South Sea
Common, "how do you like the purser's ladies?"

"Not at all," replied I; "they have done nothing but try to pump me the
whole time I have been there; but they did not make much of it."

"Women will be curious, Master Keene--pray what did they try to pump
about?"

I hardly knew how to reply, and I hesitated.  I felt a strong
inclination towards Bob Cross, and I had before reflected whether I
should make him my confidant; still, I was undecided and made no reply,
when Bob Cross answered for me:--

"Look ye, child--for although you're going on the quarter-deck, and I am
before the mast, you are a child compared to me--I can tell you what
they tried to pump about, as well as you can tell me, if you choose.
According to my thinking, there's no lad on board the frigate that will
require good advice as you will; and I tell you candidly, you will have
your cards to play.  Bob Cross is no fool, and can see as far through a
fog as most chaps; I like you for yourself as far as I see of you, and I
have not forgotten your mother's kindness to me, when she had her own
misery to occupy her thoughts; not that I wanted the money--it wasn't
the money, but the way and the circumstances under which it was given.
I told you I'd look after you a bit--a bit means a great deal with me--
and so I will, if you choose that I shall; if not, I shall touch my hat
to you, as my officer, which won't help you very much.  So, now you have
to settle, my lad, whether you will have me as your friend, or not."

The appeal quite decided me.  "Bob Cross," replied I.  "I do wish to
make you my friend; I thought of it before, but I did not know whether
to go to you or to Tommy Dott."

"Tommy Dott!  Well, Master Keene, that's not very flattering, to put me
in one scale, and Tommy Dott in the other; I'm not surprised at its
weighing down in my favour.  If you wish to get into mischief you can't
apply to a better hand than Tommy Dott; but Tommy Dott is not half so
fit to advise you, as you are, I expect, to advise him; so make him your
playmate and companion, if you please, but as to his advice, it's not
worth asking.  However, as you have given me the preference, I will now
tell you that the Culpepper people have been trying to find out who is
your father.  Ain't I right?"

"Yes, you are," replied I.

"Well, then, this is no time to talk about such things; we shall be down
to the boat in another minute, so we'll say no more at present; only
recollect, when you are on board, if they talk about appointing a man to
take charge of your hammock, say that Bob Cross, the captain's coxswain,
is, you understand, to be the person; say that and no more.  I will tell
you why by-and-by, when we have time to talk together and if any of your
messmates say anything to you on the same point which the Culpeppers
have been working at, make no reply and hold yourself very stiff.  Now,
here we are at the sally port, so there's an end to our palaver for the
present."

My chest and bedding were already in the boat, and as soon as Cross and
I had stepped in he ordered the bowman to shove off; in half an hour we
arrived alongside the frigate, which lay at Spithead, bright with new
paint, and with her pennant proudly flying to the breeze.

"You'd better follow me, sir, and mind you touch your hat when the
officers speak to you," said Bob Cross, ascending the accommodation
ladder.  I did so, and found myself on the quarter deck, in the presence
of the first lieutenant and several of the officers.

"Well, Cross," said the first lieutenant.

"I've brought a young gentleman on board to join the ship.  Captain
Delmar has, I believe, given his orders about him."

"Mr Keene, I presume?" said the first lieutenant, eyeing me from head
to foot.

"Yes, sir," replied I, touching my hat.

"How long have you been at Portsmouth?"

"Three days, sir; I have been staying at Mr Culpepper's."

"Well, did you fall in love with Miss Culpepper?"

"No, sir," replied I; "I hate her."

At this answer the first lieutenant and the officers near him burst out
a-laughing.

"Well, youngster, you must dine with us in the gun-room to-day; and
where's Mr Dott?"

"Here, sir," said Tommy Dott, coming from the other side of the
quarter-deck.

"Mr Dott, take this young gentleman down below, and show him the
midshipmen's berth.  Let me see, who is to take care of his hammock?"

"I believe that Bob Cross is to take care of it, sir," said I.

"The captain's coxswain--humph.  Well, that's settled at all events;
very good--we shall have the pleasure of your company to dinner, Mr
Keene.  Why, Mr Dott and you look as if you knew each other."

"Don't we, Tommy?" said I to the midshipman, grinning.

"I suspect that there is a pair of you," said the first lieutenant,
turning aft and walking away; after which Tommy and I went down the
companion ladder as fast as we could, and in a few seconds afterwards
were sitting together on the same chest, in most intimate conversation.

My extreme resemblance to our honourable captain was not unobserved by
the officers who were on the quarter-deck at the time of my making my
appearance; and, as I afterwards heard from Bob Cross, he was sent for
by the surgeon, on some pretence or another, to obtain any information
relative to me.  What were Bob Cross's reasons for answering as he did I
could not at that time comprehend, but he explained them to me
afterwards.

"Who brought him down, Cross?" said the surgeon, carelessly.

"His own mother, sir; he has no father, sir, I hear."

"Did you see her?  What sort of a person was she?"

"Well, sir," replied Bob Cross, "I've seen many ladies of quality, but
such a real lady I don't think I ever set my eyes upon before; and such
a beauty--I'd marry to-morrow if I could take in tow a craft like her."

"How did they come down to Portsmouth?"

"Why, sir, she came down to Portsmouth in a coach and four; but she
walked to the George Hotel, as if she was nobody."

This was not a fib on the part of the coxswain, for we came down by the
Portsmouth coach; it did, however, deceive the surgeon, as was intended.

"Did you see anything of her, Cross?"

"Not when she was with the captain, sir, but at her own lodgings I did;
such a generous lady I never met with."

A few more questions were put, all of which were replied to in much the
same strain by the coxswain, so as to make out my mother to be a very
important and mysterious personage.  It is true that Tommy Dott could
have contradicted all this; but, in the first place, it was not very
likely that there would be any communication upon the point between him
and the officers; and in the next I cautioned him to say nothing about
what he knew, which, as he was strongly attached to me, he strictly
complied with: so Bob Cross completely mystified the surgeon, who, of
course, made his report to his messmates.

Mr Culpepper's report certainly differed somewhat from that of Bob
Cross.  There was my statement of my aunt being married to a marine
officer--but it was my statement; there was also my statement of my
mother residing with Captain Delmar's aunt; altogether there was doubt
and mystery; and it ended in my mother being supposed to be a much
greater person than she really was--everything tending to prove her a
lady of rank being willingly received, and all counter-statements looked
upon as apocryphal and false.

But whoever my mother might be, on one point every one agreed, which
was, that I was the son of the Honourable Captain Delmar, and on this
point I was equally convinced myself.  I waited with some anxiety for my
mother's reply to my letter, which arrived two days after I had joined
the frigate.  It was as follows:--

  "My dear Percival:--

  "You little know the pain and astonishment which I felt upon receipt
  of your very unkind and insulting letter; surely you could not have
  reflected at the time you wrote it, but must have penned it in a
  moment of irritation arising from some ungenerous remark which has
  been made in your hearing.

  "Alas, my dear child, you will find, now that you have commenced your
  career in life, that there are too many whose only pleasure is to
  inflict pain upon their fellow-creatures.  I only can imagine that
  some remark has been made in your presence, arising from there being a
  similarity of features between you and the Honourable Captain Delmar;
  that there is so has been before observed by others.  Indeed your
  uncle and aunt Bridgeman were both struck with the resemblance, when
  Captain Delmar arrived at Chatham; but this proves nothing, my dear
  child--people are very often alike, who have never seen each other, or
  heard each other mentioned, till they have by accident been thrown
  together so as to be compared.

  "It may certainly be, as your father was in the service of Captain
  Delmar, and constantly attended upon him, and indeed I may add as I
  was occasionally seeing him, that the impression of his countenance
  might be constantly in our memory, and--but you don't understand such
  questions, and therefore I will say no more, except that you will
  immediately dismiss from your thoughts any such idea.

  "You forget, my dearest boy, that you are insulting me by supposing
  any such thing, and that your mother's honour is called in question; I
  am sure you never thought of that when you wrote those hasty and
  inconsiderate lines.  I must add, my dear boy, that knowing Captain
  Delmar, and how proud and sensitive he is, if it should ever come to
  his knowledge that you had suspected or asserted what you have, his
  favour and protection would be lost to you for ever: at present he is
  doing a kind and charitable action in bringing forward the son of a
  faithful servant; but if he imagined for a moment that you were
  considered related to him he would cast you off for ever, and all your
  prospects in life would be ruined.

  "Even allowing it possible that you were what you so madly stated
  yourself in your letter to be, I am convinced he would do so.  If such
  a report came to his ears, he would immediately disavow you, and leave
  you to find your own way in the world.

  "You see, therefore, my dear boy, how injurious to you in every way
  such a ridiculous surmise must prove, and I trust that, not only for
  your own sake, but for your mother's character, you will, so far from
  giving credence, indignantly disavow what must be a source of mischief
  and annoyance to all parties.

  "Captain Bridgeman desires me to say, that he is of my opinion, so is
  your aunt Milly: as for your grandmother, of course, I dare not show
  her your letter.  Write to me, my dear boy, and tell me how this
  unfortunate mistake happened, and believe me to be your affectionate
  mother, ARABELLA KEENE."

I read this letter over ten times before I came to any conclusion; at
last I said to myself, there is not in any one part of it any positive
denial of the fact, and resolved some future day, when I had had some
conversation with Bob Cross, to show it to him, and ask his opinion.



CHAPTER SIXTEEN.

The next morning, at daylight, the blue Peter was hoisted at the
foremast, and the gun fired as a signal for sailing; all was bustle--
hoisting in, clearing boats of stock, and clearing the ship of women and
strangers.

At ten o'clock Captain Delmar made his appearance, the hands were piped
up anchor, and in half an hour we were standing out for St. Helen's.
Before night it blew very fresh, and we went rolling down the Channel
before an easterly wind.  I went to my hammock very sick, and did not
recover for several days, during which nobody asked for me, or any
questions about me, except Bob Cross and Tommy Dott.

As soon as I was well enough, I made my appearance on deck, and was
ordered by the first lieutenant to do my duty under the signal
midshipman: this was day duty, and not very irksome; I learnt the flags,
and how to use a spy-glass.

We were charged with despatches for the fleet, then off Cadiz, and on
the tenth day we fell in with it, remained a week in company, and then
were ordered to Gibraltar and Malta.  From Malta we went home again with
despatches, having been out three months.

During this short and pleasant run, I certainly did not learn much of my
profession, but I did learn a little of the ways of the world.  First,
as to Captain Delmar, his conduct to me was anything but satisfactory;
he never inquired for me during the time that I was unwell, and took no
notice of me on my reappearance.

The officers and young gentlemen, as midshipmen are called, were asked
to dine in the cabin in rotation, and I did in consequence dine two or
three times in the cabin; but it appeared to me, as if the captain
purposely took no notice of me, although he generally did say a word or
two to the others; moreover as the signal mids were up in the morning
watch, he would occasionally send to invite one of the others to
breakfast with him, but he never paid me that compliment.

This annoyed me, and I spoke of it to Bob Cross, with whom I had had
some long conversations.  I had told him all I knew relative to myself,
what my suspicions were, and I had shown him my mother's reply.  His
opinion on the subject may be given in what follows:--

"You see, Master Keene, you are in an awkward position; the captain is a
very proud man, and too proud to acknowledge that you are any way
related to him.  It's my opinion, from what you have told me, and from
other reasons, particularly from your likeness to the captain, that your
suspicions are correct; but, what then?  Your mother is sworn to
secrecy--that's clear; and the captain won't own you--that's also very
clear.  I had some talk with the captain's steward on the subject when I
was taking a glass of grog with him the other night in this berth.  It
was he that brought up the subject, not me, and he said, that the
captain not asking you to breakfast, and avoiding you, as it were, was
another proof that you belonged to him; and the wishing to hide the
secret only makes him behave as he does.  You have a difficult game to
play, Master Keene; but you are a clever lad, and you ask advice--mind
you follow it, or it's little use asking it.  You must always be very
respectful to Captain Delmar, and keep yourself at as great a distance
from him as he does from you."

"That I'm sure I will," replied I, "for I dislike him very much."

"No, you must not do that, but you must bend to circumstances; by-and-by
things will go on better; but mind you keep on good terms with the
officers, and never be saucy, or they may say to you what may not be
pleasant; recollect this, and things will go on better, as I said
before.  If Captain Delmar protects you with his interest, you will be a
captain over the heads of many who are now your superiors on board of
this frigate.  One thing be careful of, which is, to keep your own
counsel, and don't be persuaded in a moment of confidence to trust
anything to Tommy Dott, or any other midshipman; and if any one hints at
what you suppose, deny it immediately; nay, if necessary, fight for it--
that will be the way to please the captain, for you will be of his side
then, and not against him."

That this advice of Bob Cross was the best that could be given to one in
my position there could not be a doubt; and that I did resolve to follow
it, is most certain.  I generally passed away a portion of my leisure
hours in Bob's company, and became warmly attached to him; and certainly
my time was not thrown away, for I learnt a great deal from him.

One evening, as I was leaning against one of the guns on the main deck,
waiting for Cross to come out of the cabin, I was amused with the
following conversation between a boatswain's mate and a fore-top man.  I
shall give it verbatim.  They were talking of one that was dead; and
after the boatswain's mate had said--

"Well, he's in heaven, poor fellow."

After a pause, the fore-top man said--

"I wonder, Bill, whether I shall ever go to heaven?"

"Why not?" replied the boatswain's mate.

"Why, the parson says it's good works; now, I certainly have been a
pretty many times in action, and I have killed plenty of Frenchmen in my
time."

"Well, that's sufficient, I should think; I hold my hopes upon just the
same claims.  I've cut down fifty Frenchmen in my life, and if that
ain't good works, I don't know what is."

"I suppose Nelson's in heaven?"

"Of course; if so be he wishes to be there, I should like to know who
would keep him out, if he was determined on it; no, no; depend upon it
he walked _slap_ in."

On our return to Portsmouth, the captain went up to the Admiralty with
the despatches, the frigate remaining at Spithead, ready to sail at a
moment's notice.

I was now quite accustomed to the ship and officers; the conviction I
had of my peculiar position, together with the advice of Bob Cross, had
very much subdued my spirit; perhaps the respect created by discipline,
and the example of others, which produced in me a degree of awe of the
captain and the lieutenants, assisted a little--certain it is, that I
gained the goodwill of my messmates, and had not been in any scrape
during the whole cruise.

The first lieutenant was a stern, but not unkind man; he would blow you
up, as we termed it, when he scolded for half an hour without ceasing.
I never knew a man with such a flow of words; but if permitted to go on
without interruption, he was content, without proceeding to further
punishment.  Any want of respect, however, was peculiarly offensive to
him, and any attempt to excuse yourself was immediately cut short with,
"No reply, sir."

The second day after our return to Spithead, I was sent on shore in the
cutter to bring off a youngster who was to join the ship; he had never
been to sea before; his name was Green, and he was as green as a
gooseberry.  I took a dislike to him the moment that I saw him, because
he had a hooked nose and very small ferrety eyes.  As we were pulling on
board he asked me a great many questions of all kinds, particularly
about the captain and officers, and to amuse myself and the boat's crew,
who were on the full titter, I exercised my peculiar genius for
invention.

At last, after I had given a character of the first lieutenant, which
made him appear a sort of marine ogre, he asked how it was I got on with
him:--

"O, very well," replied I; "but I'm a freemason, and so is he, and he's
never severe with a brother mason."

"But how did he know you were a mason?"

"I made the sign to him the very first time that he began to scold me,
and he left off almost immediately; that is, when I made the second
sign; he did not when I made the first."

"I should like to know these signs.  Won't you tell them to me?"

"Tell them to you! oh no, that won't do," replied I.  "I don't know you.
Here we are on board--in bow,--rowed of all, men.  Now, Mr Green, I'll
show you the way up."

Mr Green was presented, and ushered into the service much in the same
way as I was; but he had not forgotten what I said to him relative to
the first lieutenant; and it so happened that, on the third day he
witnessed a jobation, delivered by the first lieutenant to one of the
midshipmen, who, venturing to reply, was ordered to the mast-head for
the remainder of the day; added to which, a few minutes afterwards, the
first lieutenant ordered two men to be put both legs in irons.  Mr
Green trembled as he saw the men led away by the master-at-arms, and he
came to me:

"I do wish, Keene, you would tell me those signs," said he; "can't you
be persuaded to part with them?  I'll give you any thing that I have
which you may like."

"Well," said I, "I should like to have that long spy-glass of yours, for
it's a very good one; and, as signal-midshipman, will be useful to me."

"I will give it you with all my heart," replied he, "if you will tell me
the signs."

"Well, then, come down below, give me the glass, and I will tell them to
you."

Mr Green and I went down to the berth, and I received the spy-glass as
a present in due form.  I then led him to my chest in the steerage, and
in a low, confidential tone, told him as follows:--

"You see, Green, you must be very particular about making those signs,
for if you make a mistake, you will be worse off than if you never made
them at all, for the first lieutenant will suppose that you are trying
to persuade him that you are a mason, when you are not.  Now, observe,
you must not attempt to make the first sign until he has scolded you
well; then, at any pause, you must make it; thus, you see, you must put
your thumb to the tip of your nose, and extend your hand straight out
from it, with all the fingers separated, as wide as you can.  Now, do it
as I did it.  Stop--wait a little, till that marine passes.  Yes, that
is it.  Well, that is considered the first proof of your being a mason,
but it requires a second.  The first lieutenant will, I tell you
frankly, be or rather pretend to be, in a terrible rage, and will
continue to rail at you; you must, therefore, wait a little till he
pauses; and then, you observe, put up your thumb to your nose, with the
fingers of your hands spread out as before, and then add to it your
other hand, by joining your other thumb to the little finger of the hand
already up, and stretch your other hand and fingers out like the first.
Then you will see the effects of the second sign.  Do you think you can
recollect all this? for, as I said before, you must make no mistake."

Green put his hands up as I told him, and after three or four essays
declared himself perfect, and I left him.

It was about three days afterwards that Mr Green upset a kid of dirty
water upon the lower deck which had been dry holystoned, and the mate of
the lower deck, when the first lieutenant went his round, reported the
circumstance to exculpate himself.  Mr Green was consequently summoned
on the quarter-deck; and the first lieutenant, who was very angry,
commenced, as usual, a volley of abuse on the unfortunate youngster.

Green, recollecting my instructions, waited till the first lieutenant
had paused, and then made the first freemason sign, looking up very
boldly at the first lieutenant, who actually drew back with astonishment
at this contemptuous conduct, hitherto unwitnessed on board of a
man-at-war.

"What! sir," cried the first lieutenant.  "Why, sir, are you mad?--you,
just come into the service, treating me in this manner!  I can tell you,
sir, that you will not be three days longer in the service--no, sir, not
three days; for either you leave the service or I do.  Of all the
impudence, of all the insolence, of all the contempt I have heard of,
this beats all--and from such a little animal as you.  Consider yourself
as under an arrest, sir, till the captain comes on board, and your
conduct is reported; go down below, sir, immediately."

The lieutenant paused, and now Green gave him sign the second, as a
reply, thinking that they would then come to a right understanding--but
to his astonishment, the first lieutenant was more curious than ever;
and calling the sergeant of marines, ordered him to take Mr Green down,
and put him in irons, under the half-deck.

Poor Green was handed down, all astonishment, at the want of success of
his mason's signs.  I, who stood abaft, was delighted at the success of
my joke, while the first lieutenant walked hastily up and down the deck,
as much astonished as enraged at such insulting and insolent conduct
from a lad who had not been a week in the service.

After a time the first lieutenant went down below, when Bob Cross, who
was on deck, and who had perceived my delight at the scene, which was to
him and all others so inexplicable, came up to me and said:--

"Master Keene, I'm sure, by your looks, you knew something about this.
That foolish lad never had dared do so, if he knew what it was he had
done.  Now, don't look so demure, but tell me how it is."

I walked aft with Bob Cross, and confided my secret to him; he laughed
heartily, and said:--

"Well, Tommy Dott did say that you were up to any thing, and so I think
you are; but you see this is a very serious affair for poor Green, and,
like the fable of the frogs, what is sport to you is death to others.
The poor lad will be turned out of the service, and lose his chance of
being a post captain; so you must allow me to explain the matter so that
it gets to the ears of the first lieutenant as soon as possible."

"Well," replied I, "do as you like, Bob; if any one's to be turned out
of the service for such nonsense, it ought to be me, and not Green, poor
snob."

"No fear of your being turned out; the first lieutenant won't like you
the worse, and the other officers will like you better especially as I
shall say that it is by your wish that I explain all to get Mr Green
out of the scrape.  I'll go to the surgeon and tell him--but, Master
Keene, don't you call such matters _nonsense_, or you'll find yourself
mistaken one of these days.  I never saw such disrespect on a
quarter-deck in all my life--worse than mutiny a thousand times."  Here
Bob Cross burst out into a fit of laughter, as he recalled Green's
extended fingers to his memory, and then he turned away and went down
below to speak to the surgeon.

As soon as Cross had quitted the deck, I could not restrain my curiosity
as to the situation of my friend Green; I therefore went down the ladder
to the half-deck, and there, on the starboard side between the guns, I
perceived the poor fellow, with his legs in irons, his hands firmly
clasped together, looking so woeful and woe-begone, every now and then
raising his eyes up to the beam of the upper deck, as if he would appeal
to heaven, that I scarcely could refrain from laughing.  I went up to
him and said:--

"Why, Green, how is all this?--what has happened?"

"Happened?" said the poor fellow; "happened? see what has happened; here
I am."

"Did you make the freemason's signs?" replied I.

"Didn't I?  Yes--I did: Oh, what will become of me?"

"You could not have made them right; you must have forgotten them."

"I'm sure I made them as you told me; I'm quite sure of that."

"Then perhaps I did not recollect them exactly myself: however, be of
good heart; I will have the whole matter explained to the first
lieutenant."

"Pray do; only get me out of this.  I don't want the glass back."

"I'll have it done directly," replied I.

As I went away, Bob Cross came up, and said I was wanted by the first
lieutenant in the gun-room.  "Don't be afraid," said he: "they've been
laughing at it already, and the first lieutenant is it a capital humour;
still he'll serve you out well; you must expect that."

"Shall I make him the sign, Cross?" replied I, laughing.

"No, no; you've gone far enough, and too far already; mind what I say to
you."

I went down into the gun-room, when a tittering ceased as the sentry
opened the door, and I walked in.

"Did you want me, sir?" said I to the first lieutenant, touching my hat,
and looking very demure.

"So, Mr Keene, I understand it was you who have been practising upon
Mr Green, and teaching him insult and disrespect to his superior
officers on the quarter-deck.  Well, sir?"

I made no reply, but appeared very penitent.

"Because a boy has just come to sea, and is ignorant of his profession,
it appears to be a custom--which I shall take care shall not be followed
up--to play him all manner of tricks, and tell him all manner of
falsehoods.  Now, sir, what have you to say for yourself?"

"Mr Green and I have both just come to sea, sir, and the midshipmen all
play us so many tricks," replied I, humbly, "that I hardly know whether
what I do is right or wrong."

"But, sir, it was you who played this trick to Mr Green."

"Yes, sir, I told him so for fun, but I didn't think he was such a fool
as to believe me.  I only said that you were a freemason, and that
freemasons were kind to each other, and that you gave one another signs
to know one another by; I heard you say you were a freemason, sir, when
I dined in the gun-room."

"Well, sir, I did say so; but that is no reason for your teaching him to
be impudent."

"He asked me for the signs, sir, and I didn't know them exactly; so I
gave him the signs that Mr Dott and I always make between us."

"Mr Dott and you--a pretty pair, as I said before.  I've a great mind
to put you in Mr Green's place--at all events, I shall report your
conduct when the captain comes from London.  There, sir, you may go."

I put on a penitent face as I went out wiping my eyes with the back of
my hands.  After I went out, I waited a few seconds at the gun-room
door, and then the officers, supposing that I was out of hearing, gave
vent to their mirth, the first lieutenant laughing the loudest.

"Cross is right," thought I, as I went up the ladder; a minute
afterwards, Mr Green was set free, and, after a severe reprimand, was
allowed to return to his duty.

"You are well out of that trick, my hearty," said Bob Cross; "the first
lieutenant won't say a word to the captain, never fear; but don't try it
again."

But an event occurred a few hours afterwards which might have been
attended with more serious consequences.  The ship was, during the day,
surrounded by shore boats of all descriptions, containing Jews, sailors'
wives, and many other parties, who wished to have admittance on board.
It was almost dusk, the tide was running strong flood, and the wind was
very fresh, so that there was a good deal of sea.  All the boats had
been ordered to keep off by the first lieutenant, but they still
lingered, in hope of getting on board.

I was looking over the stern, and perceived that the boat belonging to
the bumboat woman, who was on board of the ship, was lying with her
painter fast to the stern ladder; the waterman was in her, as well as
one of the sailors' wives, who had left her own wherry in hopes of
getting on board when the waterman went alongside to take in the
articles not sold, when the bumboat woman left the ship, which would be
in a few minutes, as it was nearly gun-fire for sunset.  The waterman,
who thought it time to haul alongside, and wished to communicate with
his employer on board, was climbing up by the stern ladder.

"That's against orders, you know," cried I to the man.

"Yes, sir; but it is so rough, that the boat would be swamped if it were
to remain alongside long, and I hope you won't order me down again;
there's some nice cakes in the boat, sir, just under the stern sheets,
if you would like to have them, and think it worth while to go down for
them."

This was a bribe, and I replied, "No, I don't want your cakes, but you
may come up."

The man thanked me, and walked forward as soon as he had gained the
deck.  On second thoughts, I determined that I would have the cakes; so
I descended by the stern ladder, and desiring the woman who was left in
the boat to haul upon the rope, contrived to get into the boat.

"What is it you want, my dear?" said the woman.

"I come for some of those cakes under the stern sheets," replied I.

"Well, I'll soon rummage them out," said she, "and I hope you will let
me slip on board when the boat is alongside.  Mind, sir, how you step,
you'll smash all the pipes.  Give me your hand.  I'm an old sailor."

"I should not think so," replied I, looking at her.  I could hardly make
out her face, but her form was small, and, if an old sailor, she
certainly was a very young woman.

We had a good many articles to remove before we could get at the cakes,
which were under the stern sheets; and the boat rocked and tossed so
violently with the sea which was running, that we were both on our knees
for some little while before we obtained the basket: when we did, to our
surprise, we found that the boat's painter, somehow or another, had
loosened, and that during our search we had drifted nearly one hundred
yards from the ship.

"Mercy on me!--why, we are adrift," exclaimed the woman.  "What shall we
do?  It's no use hailing, they'll never hear us; look well round for any
boat you may see."

"It is getting so dark that we shall not see far," replied I, not much
liking our position.  "Where shall we go to?"

"Go to!--clean out to St. Helen's, if the boat does not fill before we
get there; and further than that too, if I mistake not, with this gale
of wind.  We may as well say our prayers, youngster, I can tell you."

"Can't we make sail upon her?" replied I.  "Can't we try and pull on
shore somewhere?  Had we not better do that, and say our prayers
afterwards?"

"Well said, my little bantam," replied the woman: "you would have made a
good officer if you had been spared; but the fact is, boy, that we can
do nothing with the oars in this heavy sea; and as for the sail, how can
you and I step the mast, rolling and tossing about in this way?  If the
mast were stepped, and the sail set, I think I could manage to steer, if
the weather was smoother, but not in this bubble and this gale; it
requires older hands than either you or I."

"Well, then, what must we do?"

"Why, we must sit still and trust to our luck, bale out the boat, and
keep her from swamping as long as we can, and between times we may cry,
or we may pray, or we may eat the cakes and red herrings, or the soft
bread and other articles in the boat."

"Let's bale the boat out first," said I, "for she's half full of water;
then we'll have something to eat, for I feel hungry and cold already,
and then we may as well say our prayers."

"Well, and I tell you what, we'll have something to drink, too, for I
have a drop for Jem, if I could have got on board.  I promised it to
him, poor fellow, but it's no use keeping it now, for I expect we'll
both be in Davy's locker before morning."

The woman took out from where it was secreted in her dress, a bladder
containing spirits; she opened the mouth of it, and poured out a portion
into one of the milk-cans; having drunk herself, she handed it to me,
but not feeling inclined, and being averse to spirits, I rejected it,
"Not just now," said I, "by-and-by perhaps."

During the time of this conversation we were swept by a strong tide and
strong wind right out of the anchorage at Spithead; the sea was very
high, and dashed into the boat, so that I was continually baling to keep
it free; the night was as dark as pitch; we could see nothing except the
lights of the vessels which we had left far away from us, and they were
now but as little twinkles as we rose upon the waves.  The wind roared,
and there was every appearance of a heavy gale.

"Little hopes of our weathering this storm," said the woman; "we shall
soon be swamped if we do not put her before the wind.  I'll see if I
cannot find the lines."

She did so after a time, and by means of a rudder put the boat before
the wind; the boat then took in much less water, but ran at a swift rate
through the heavy sea.

"There, we shall do better now; out to sea we go, that's clear," said
the woman; "and before daylight we shall be in the Channel, if we do not
fill and go down; and then, the Lord have mercy upon us, that's all!
Won't you take a drop?" continued she, pouring out some spirits into the
can.

As I felt very cold, I did not this time refuse.  I drank a small
quantity of the spirits; the woman took off the remainder, which, with
what she had previously drunk, began to have an effect upon her.

"That's right, my little Trojan," said she, and she commenced singing.
"A long pull, a strong pull, and a pull altogether; in spite of wind and
weather, boys, in spite of wind and weather.  Poor Jem," continued she,
"he'll be disappointed; he made sure of being glorious to-night, and I
made sure to sleep by his side--now he'll be quite sober--and I'll be
food for fishes; it's a cold bed that I shall turn into before morning,
that's certain.  Hand me the cakes, boy, if you can fumble them out; the
more we fill ourselves, the less room for salt water.  Well, then, wind
and waves are great bullies; they fly slap back in a fright when they
bang against a great ship; but when they get hold of a little boat like
this, how they leap and topple in, as if they made sure of us [here a
wave dashed into the boat].  Yes, that's your sort.  Come along, swamp a
little boat you washy cowards, it's only a woman and a boy.  Poor Jim,
he'll miss me something, but he'll miss the liquor more; who cares?
Let's have another drop."

"Give me the lines, then," said I, as I perceived she was letting them
go, "or we shall be broadside to the waves again."

I took the rudder lines from her, and steered the boat, while she again
resorted to the bladder of spirits.

"Take another sip," said she, after she had filled the milk-can; "it
won't harm you."

I thought the same, for I was wet through, and the wind, as it howled,
pierced me to the bones; I took a small quantity as before, and then
continued to keep the boat before the wind.  The sea was increasing very
much and although no sailor, I felt fully convinced that the boat could
not live much longer.

In the meantime the woman was becoming intoxicated very fast.  I knew
the consequence of this, and requested her to bale out the boat: she did
so, and sang a mournful sort of song as she baled, but the howling of
the wind prevented me from distinguishing the words.

I cannot well analyse my feelings at this time--they were confused; but
this I know, self-preservation and hope were the most predominant.  I
thought of my mother, of my aunt, of Captain Bridgeman, Captain Delmar,
and Bob Cross; but my thoughts were as rapid as the gale which bore us
along, and I was too much employed in steering the boat, and preventing
the seas from filling it, to have a moment to collect my ideas.

Again the woman applied to the bladder of spirits, and offered some to
me; I refused.  I had had enough, and by this time she had had too much,
and after an attempt to bale she dropped down in the stern sheets,
smashing pipes and everything beneath her, and spoke no more.

We had now been more than four hours adrift; the wind was as strong as
ever, and, I thought, the sea much higher; but I kept the boat steady
before the wind, and by degrees, as I became more accustomed to steer,
she did not take in so much water; still the boat appeared to be sinking
deeper down, and after a time I considered it necessary to bale her out.
I did so with my hat, for I found it was half full of water; and then I
execrated the woman for having intoxicated herself, so as to be useless
in such an emergency.

I succeeded in clearing the boat of the major portion of the water,
which was no easy task, as the boat, having remained broadside to the
wind, had taken in the sea continually as I baled it out.  I then once
more resumed the helm, and put the boat before the wind, and thus did I
continue for two hours more, when the rain came down in torrents, and
the storm was wilder than ever, but a Portsmouth wherry is one of the
best boats ever built, and so it proved in this instance.  Still I was
now in a situation most trying for a lad between fourteen and fifteen;
my teeth chattered with the cold, and I was drenched through and
through; the darkness was opaque, and I could see nothing but the white
foam of the waves, which curled and broke close to the gunwale of the
boat.

At one moment I despaired, and looked for immediate death; but my
buoyant spirit raised me up again, and I hoped.  It would be daylight in
a few hours, and oh! how I looked and longed for daylight.  I knew I
must keep the boat before the wind; I did so, but the seas were worse
than ever; they now continually broke into the boat, for the tide had
turned, which had increased the swell.

Again I left the helm and bailed out; I was cold and faint, and I felt
recovered with the exertion; I also tried to rouse the woman, but it was
useless.  I felt for her bladder of liquor, and found it in her bosom,
more than half empty.  I drank more freely, and my spirits and my
courage revived.  After that, I ate, and steered the boat, awaiting the
coming daylight.

It came at last slowly--so slowly; but it did come, and I felt almost
happy.  There is such a horror in darkness when added to danger; I felt
as if I could have worshipped the sun as it rose slowly, and with a
watery appearance, above the horizon.  I looked around me: there was
something like land astern of us, such as I had seen pointed out as land
by Bob Cross, when off the coast of Portugal; and so it was--it was the
Isle of Wight: for the wind had changed when the rain came down, and I
had altered the course of the boat so that for the last four hours I had
been steering for the coast of France.

But, although I was cold and shivering, and worn out with watching, and
tired with holding the lines by which the wherry was steered, I felt
almost happy at the return of day.  I looked down upon my companion in
the boat; she lay sound asleep, with her head upon the basket of tobacco
pipes, her bonnet wet and dripping, with its faded ribbons hanging in
the water which washed to and fro at the bottom of the boat, as it
rolled and rocked to the motion of the waves; her hair had fallen over
her face, so as almost to conceal her features; I thought that she had
died during the night, so silent and so breathless did she lie.  The
waves were not so rough now as they had been, for the flood tide had
again made; and as the beams of the morning sun glanced on the water,
the same billows which appeared so dreadful in the darkness appeared to
dance merrily.

I felt hungry; I took up a red herring from one of the baskets, and tore
it to pieces with my teeth.  I looked around me in every quarter to see
if there was any vessel in sight, but there was nothing to be seen but
now and then a screaming sea-gull.  I tried to rouse my companion by
kicking her with my foot; I did not succeed in waking her up, but she
turned round on her back, and, her hair falling from her face,
discovered the features of a young and pretty person, apparently not
more than nineteen or twenty years old; her figure was slight and well
formed.

Young as I was, I thought it a pity that such a nice-looking person--for
she still was so, although in a state of disorder, and very dirty--
should be so debased by intoxication; and as I looked at the bladder,
still half full of spirits I seized it with an intention to throw it
overboard, when I paused at the recollection that it had probably saved
my life during the night, and might yet be required.

I did not like to alter the course of the boat, although I perceived
that we were running fast from the land; for although the sea had gone
down considerably, there was still too much for the boat to be put
broadside to it.  I cannot say that I was unhappy; I found my situation
so very much improved to what it was during the darkness of the night.
The sun shone bright, and I felt its warmth.  I had no idea of being
lost--death did not enter my thoughts.  There was plenty to eat, and
some vessel would certainly pick us up.  Nevertheless, I said my
prayers, more devoutly than I usually did.

About noon, as near as I could guess, the tide changed again, and as the
wind had lulled very much, there was little or no swell.  I thought
that, now that the motion was not so great, we might possibly ship the
foremast and make some little sail upon the boat; and I tried again more
earnestly to rouse up my companion; after a few not very polite
attempts, I succeeded in ascertaining that she was alive.

"Be quiet, Jim," said she, with her eyes still closed; "it's not five
bells yet."

Another kick or two, and she turned herself round and stared wildly.

"Jim," said she, rubbing her eyes, and then she looked about her, and at
once she appeared to remember what had passed; she shrieked, and covered
her face up with her hands.

"I thought it was a dream, and was going to tell Jim all about it, at
breakfast," said she, sorrowfully, "but it's all true--true as gospel.
What will become of me?  We are lost, lost, lost!"

"We are not lost, but we should have been lost this night if I had been
as drunk as you have been," replied I; "I've had work enough to keep the
boat above water, I can tell you."

"That's truth," replied she, rising up and taking a seat upon the thwart
of the boat.  "God, forgive me, poor wretch that I am: what will Jim
think, and what will he say, when he sees my best bonnet in such a
pickle?"

"Are you quite sure that you'll ever see Jim again, or that you'll ever
want your best bonnet?" replied I.

"That's true.  If one's body is to be tossed about by green waves, it's
little matter whether there's a bonnet or shawl on.  Where are we, do
you know?"

"I can just see the land out there," replied I, pointing astern.  "The
sea is smooth; I think we could ship the foremast, and get sail upon
her."

The young woman stood up in the boat.

"Yes," said she, "I'm pretty steady; I think we could.  Last night in
the dark and the tossing sea I could do nothing, but now I can.  What a
blessing is daylight to cowards like me--I am only afraid in the dark.
We must put some sail upon the boat, or nobody will see us.  What did
you do with the bladder of liquor?"

"Threw it overboard," replied I.

"Had you courage to do that?--and watching through the the night so wet
and cold.  Well you did right--I could not have done it.  Oh! that
liquor--that liquor; I wish there wasn't such a thing in the world, but
it's too late now.  When I first married James Pearson, and the garland
was hung to the main-stay of the frigate, nobody could persuade me to
touch it, not even James himself, whom I loved so much.  Instead of
quarrelling with me for not drinking it, as he used to do, he now
quarrels with me for drinking the most.  If you'll come forward, sir,
and help me, we'll soon get up the foremast.  This is it, you see, with
the jib passed round it.  Jim often says that I'd make a capital sailor,
if I'd only enter in man's clothes--but as I tell him, I should be put
up at the gangway, for not being sober, before I'd been on board a
week."

We contrived to ship the mast, and set the jib and foresail.  As soon as
the sheets were hauled aft, my companion took the steering lines,
saying, "I know how to manage her well enough, now it's daylight, and
I'm quite sober.  You must be very tired, sir; so sit down on the
thwart, or lie down if you please, and take a nap; all's safe enough
now--see, we lie up well for the land;" and such was the case, for she
had brought the boat to the wind, and we skimmed over the waves at the
rate of three or four miles an hour.  I had no inclination to sleep; I
baled the boat out thoroughly, and put the baskets and boxes into some
kind of order.  I then sat down on the thwarts, first looking round for
a vessel in sight; but seeing none, I entered into conversation with my
companion.

"What is your name?" said I.

"Peggy Pearson; I have my marriage lines to show: they can throw nothing
in my face, except that I'm fond of liquor, God forgive me."

"And what makes you so fond of it now, since you say that, when you were
married, you did not care for it?"

"You may well say that: it all came of _sipping_.  James would have me
on his knee, and would insist on my taking a sip; and to please him I
did, although it made me almost sick at first, and then after a while I
did not mind it; and then, you see, when I was waiting at the sallyport
with the other women, the wind blowing fresh, and the spray wetting us
as we stood on the shingle with our arms wrapped up in our aprons,
looking out for a boat from the ship to come on shore, they would have a
quartern, and make me take a drop; and so it went on.  Then James made
me bring him liquor on board, and I drank some with him; but what
finished me was, that I heard something about James when he was at
Plymouth, which made me jealous, and then for the first time I got
tipsy.  After that, it was all over with me; but, as I said before, it
began with sipping--worse luck, but it's done now.  Tell me what has
passed during the night.  Has the weather been very bad?"

I told her what had occurred, and how I had kicked her to wake her up.

"Well, I deserved more than kicking, and you're a fine, brave fellow;
and if we get on board the Calliope again--and I trust to God we shall--
I'll take care to blow the trumpet for you as you deserve."

"I don't want any one to blow the trumpet for me," replied I.

"Don't you be proud; a good word from me may be of use to you and it's
what you deserve.  The ship's company will think highly of you, I can
tell you.  A good name is of no small value--a captain has found out
that before now; you're only a lad, but you're a regular trump, and the
seamen shall all know it, and the officers too."

"We must get on board the ship first," replied I, "and we are a long way
from it just now."

"We're all right, and I have no fear.  If we don't see a vessel we shall
fetch the land somewhere before to-morrow morning, and it don't look as
if there would be any more bad weather.  I wonder if they have sent
anything out to look after us?"

"What's that?" said I, pointing astern, "it's a sail of some kind."

"Yes," said Peggy, "so it is; it's a square-rigged vessel coming up the
Channel--we had better get on the other tack, and steer for her."

We wore the boat round and ran in the direction of the vessel; in three
hours we were close to her; I hailed her as she came down upon us but no
one appeared to hear us or see us, for she had lower studding-sails set,
and there was no one forward.  We hailed again, and the vessel was now
within twenty yards, and we were right across her bows; a man came
forward, and cried out, "Starboard your helm," but not in sufficient
time to prevent the vessel from striking the wherry, and to stave her
quarter in; we dropped alongside as the wherry filled with water, and we
were hauled in by the seamen over the gunwale, just as she turned over
and floated away astern.

"Touch and go, my lad," said one of the seamen who had hauled me on
board.

"Why don't you keep a better look out?" said Peggy Pearson, shaking her
petticoats, which were wet up to the knees.  "Paint eyes in the bows of
your brig, if you haven't any yourself.  Now you've lost a boatful of
red-herrings, eggs, and soft tommy--no bad things after a long cruise;
we meant to have paid our passage with them--now you must take us for
nothing."

The master of the vessel, who was on deck, observed that I was in the
uniform of an officer.  He asked me how it was we were found in such a
situation?  I narrated what had passed in few words.  He said that he
was from Cadiz bound to London, and that he would put us on shore at any
place up the river I would like, but that he could not lose the chance
of the fair wind to land me anywhere else.

I was too thankful to be landed anywhere; and telling him that I should
be very glad if he could put me on shore at Sheerness, which was the
nearest place to Chatham, I asked leave to turn into one of the cabin
bed-places, and was soon fast asleep.

I may as well here observe, that I had been seen by the sentry abaft to
go down by the stern ladder into the boat, and when the waterman came
back shortly afterwards to haul his boat up, and perceived that it had
gone adrift, there was much alarm on my account.  It was too dark to
send a boat after us that night, but the next morning the case was
reported to the admiral of the port, who directed a cutter to get under
weigh and look for us.

The cutter had kept close in shore for the first day, and it was on the
morning after I was picked up by the brig, that, in standing more out,
she had fallen in with the wherry, bottom up.  This satisfied them that
we had perished in the rough night, and it was so reported to the
port-admiral and to Captain Delmar, who had just come down from London.

I slept soundly till the next morning, when I found that the wind had
fallen and that it was nearly calm.  Peggy Pearson was on deck; she had
washed herself and smoothed out with an iron the ribbons of her bonnet,
and was really a very handsome young woman.

"Mr Keene," said she, "I didn't know your name before you told it to
the skipper here; you're in a pretty scrape.  I don't know what Jim
Pearson will say when you go back, running away with his wife as you
have done.  Don't you think I had better go back first, and smooth
things over."

"Oh! you laugh now," replied I; "but you didn't laugh the night we went
adrift."

"Because it was no laughing matter.  I owe my life to you, and if I had
been adrift by myself, I should never have put my foot on shore again.
Do you know," said she to me, very solemnly, "I've made a vow--yes, a
vow to Heaven, that I'll leave off drinking; and I only hope I may have
strength given me to keep it."

"Can you keep it?" said I.

"I think I can; for when I reflect that I might have gone to my account
in that state, I really feel a horror of liquor.  If James would only
give it up, I'm sure I could.  I swear that I never will bring him any
more on board--that's settled.  He may scold me, he may beat me (I don't
think he would do that, for he never has yet); but let him do what he
pleases, I never will; and if he keeps sober because he hasn't the means
of getting tipsy, I am sure that I shall keep my vow.  You don't know
how I hate myself; and although I'm merry, it's only to prevent my
sitting down and crying like a child at my folly and wickedness in
yielding to temptation."

"I little thought to hear this from you.  When I was with you in the
boat, I thought you a very different person."

"A woman who drinks, Mr Keene, is lost to everything.  I've often
thought of it, after I've become sober again.  Five years ago I was the
best girl in the school.  I was the monitor and wore a medal for good
conduct.  I thought that I should be so happy with James; I loved him
so, and do so still.  I knew that he was fond of liquor, but I never
thought that he would make me drink.  I thought then that I should cure
him, and with the help of God I will now; not only him, but myself too."

And I will here state that Peggy Pearson, whose only fault was the
passion she had imbibed for drinking, did keep her vow; the difficulty
of which few can understand who have not been intemperate themselves;
and she not only continued sober herself, but by degrees broke her
husband of his similar propensity to liquor.

It was not till the evening of the fourth that we arrived at the Nore.
I had four pounds in my pocket at the time that I went adrift, which was
more than sufficient, even if I had not intended to go and see my
mother.  A wherry came alongside, and Peggy Pearson and I stepped into
it, after I had thanked the captain, and given a sovereign to the seamen
to drink my health.

As soon as we landed at Sheerness I gave another of my sovereigns to
Peggy, and left her to find her way back to Portsmouth, while I walked
up to Chatham to my mother's house.

It was past eight o'clock and quite dark when I arrived; the shop was
closed, and the shutters up at the front door; so I went round to the
back to obtain admittance.  The door was not fast, and I walked into the
little parlour without meeting with anybody.  I heard somebody upstairs,
and I thought I heard sobbing; it then struck me that my supposed loss
might have been communicated to my mother.  There was a light on the
parlour table, and I perceived an open letter lying near to it.  I
looked at it; it was the handwriting of Captain Delmar.  The candle
required snuffing; I raised the letter to the light that I might read
it, and read as follows:--

  "MY DEAR ARABELLA:--

  "You must prepare yourself for very melancholy tidings, and it is most
  painful to me to be compelled to be the party who communicates them.
  A dreadful accident has occurred, and indeed I feel most sincerely for
  you.  On the night of the 10th, Percival was in a boat which broke
  adrift from the ship in a gale of wind; it was dark, and the fact not
  known until too late to render any assistance.

  "The next day a cutter was despatched by the admiral to look for the
  boat, which must have been driven out to sea; there was a woman in the
  boat as well as _our_ poor boy.  Alas!  I regret to say that the boat
  was found bottom up, and there is no doubt but that _our_ dear child
  has perished.

  "You will believe me when I say that I deeply lament his loss; not
  only on your account, but because I had become most partial to him for
  his many good qualities, and often have I regretted that his peculiar
  position prevented me from showing him openly that regard which, as
  _his father_, I really felt for him.

  "I know that I can say nothing that will alleviate your sufferings,
  and yet I fain would, for you have been so true, and anxious to please
  me in every point since our first acquaintance and intimacy, that
  there is nothing that you do not deserve at my hands.

  "Comfort yourself, dear Arabella, as well as you can with the
  reflection that it has been the will of Heaven, to whose decrees we
  must submit with resignation.  I am deeply suffering myself; for, had
  he lived, I swear to you that I intended to do much more for him than
  ever I had promised you.  He would have made a good and gallant sailor
  had it pleased Heaven to spare him, and you would have been proud of
  him; but it has been decided otherwise, and we must bow in obedience
  to His will.  God bless you, and support you in your afflictions, and
  believe me still,

  "Yours, most sincerely and faithfully,

  "PERCIVAL DELMAR."

"Then it is so," thought I; "here I have it under his own hand."  I
immediately folded up the letter, and put it into my bosom.  "You and I
never part, that is certain," murmured I.  I had almost lost my breath
from emotion, and I sat down to recover myself.  After a minute or two I
pulled the letter out and read it over again.  "And he is my father, and
he loves me, but dare not show it, and he intended to do more for me
than even he had promised my mother."

I folded up the letter, kissed it fervently, and replaced it in my
bosom.  "Now," thought I, "what shall I do?  This letter will be
required of me by my mother, but never shall she get it; not tears, nor
threats, nor entreaties shall ever induce me to part with it.  What
shall I do?  Nobody has seen me--nobody knows that I have been here.  I
will go directly and join my ship; yes, that will be my best plan."

I was so occupied with my own reverie, that I did not perceive a
footstep on the stairs, until the party was so far down that I could not
retreat.  I thought to hide myself.  I knew by the list shoes that it
must be my grandmother.  A moment of reflection.  I blew out the light
on the table, and put myself in an attitude: one arm raised aloft, the
other extended from my body, and with my mouth wide open and my eyes
fixed, I awaited her approach.  She came in--saw me--uttered a fearful
shriek, and fell senseless on the floor; the candle in her hand was
extinguished in the fall: I stepped over her body; and darting out into
the back-yard, gained the door, and was in the street in a minute.



CHAPTER SEVENTEEN.

I was soon in the high road, and clear of the town of Chatham.  As my
object was that it should not be supposed that I had been there, I made
all the haste I could to increase my distance; I therefore walked on in
the direction of Gravesend, where I arrived about ten o'clock.  A return
chaise offered to take me to Greenwich for a few shillings, and before
morning dawned I had gained the metropolis.

I lost no time in inquiring when the coaches started for Portsmouth, and
found that I was in plenty of time, as one set off at nine o'clock.

Much as I wished to see London, my curiosity gave way to what I
considered the necessity of my immediate return to the frigate.  At
seven o'clock in the evening I arrived at Portsmouth; I hastened down,
jumped into a wherry, and was on board of the frigate again by eight.

It may be imagined that my sudden and unexpected appearance caused no
little surprise.  Indeed, the first lieutenant considered it right to
send the gig on shore at that late hour to apprise the captain of my
return, and Bob Cross had just time to give me a wring of the hand
before he jumped into the boat, and went away to make the report.

I gave a history of my adventures to the officers, leaving them,
however, to suppose that I had never been to Chatham, but had gone up to
London in the merchant vessel.

Pearson, the boatswain's mate, came to make inquiries about his wife;
and, soon after, Bob Cross came on board with the captain's orders, that
I should go on shore to him in the gig on the following morning.

I wished very much to consult Bob Cross previous to my seeing the
captain.  I told him so, and he agreed to meet me on the gangway about
ten o'clock, as by that time the officers would be almost all in bed,
and there would be less chance of interruption.

It was a fine, clear night, and as soon as we found ourselves alone I
narrated to him, in a low voice, all that had taken place, and gave him
the contents of the letter which I had taken possession of.  I then
asked him what he thought I ought to do, now that I was certain of being
the son of the captain.

"Why, Master Keene, you have done it very cleverly, that's the truth;
and that letter, which is as good as a certificate from Captain Delmar,
must be taken great care of.  I hardly know where it ought to be put,
but I think the best thing will be for me to sew it in a seal-skin pouch
that I have, and then you can wear it round your neck, and next your
skin; for, as you say, you and that must never part company.  But,
Master Keene, you must be silent as death about it.  You have told me,
and I hope I may be trusted, but trust nobody else.  As to saying or
hinting anything to the captain, you mustn't think of it; you must go on
as before, as if you knew nothing, for if he thought you had the letter
in your possession he would forget you were his son, and perhaps hate
you.  He never would have been induced to acknowledge you under his own
hand as his son had he not thought that you were dead and gone, as
everybody else did; so behave just as respectful and distant as before.
It's only in some great emergency that that letter will do you any good,
and you must reserve it in case of need.  If your mother is suspicious,
why, you must blind her.  Your granny will swear that it was your ghost;
your mother may think otherwise, but cannot prove it; she dare not tell
the captain that she suspects you have the letter, and it will all blow
over after a cruise or two."

I agreed to follow the advice of Bob Cross, as I saw it was good, and we
parted for the night.

The next morning I went on shore to the captain, who received me, very
stiffly, with, "Mr Keene, you have had a narrow escape.  How did you
get back?"

I replied, that the vessel which picked me up was bound to London and
that I had taken the coach down.

"Well, I never had an idea that we should have seen you again and I have
written to your mother, acquainting her with your loss."

"Have you, sir?" replied I; "it will make her very unhappy."

"Of course it will; but I shall write by this post, stating that you
have been so fortunately preserved."

"Thanky, sir," replied I; "have you any further orders, sir?"

"No, Mr Keene; you may go on board and return to your duty."

I made my bow, and quitted the room; went down below, and found Bob
Cross waiting for me.

"Well?" said he, as we walked away.

"Stiff as ever," replied I: "told me to go on board and 'tend to my
duty."

"Well, I knew it would be so," replied Bob; "it's hard to say what stuff
them great nobs are made of.  Never mind that; you've your own game to
play, and your own secret to keep."

"His secret," replied I, biting my lips, "to keep or to tell, as may
happen."

"Don't let your vexation get the better of you, Master Keene; you've the
best of it, if you only keep your temper; let him play his cards, and
you play yours.  As you know his cards and he don't know yours, you must
win the game in the end--that is, if you are commonly prudent."

"You are right, Cross," replied I; "but you forget that I am but a boy."

"You are but a boy, Master Keene, but you've no fool's head on your
shoulders."

"I hope not," replied I; "but here we are at the boat."

"Yes; and, as I live, here's Peggy Pearson.  Well, Peggy, how did you
like your cruise with Master Keene?"

"If I ever go on another, I hope he will be my companion.  Master Keene,
will you allow me to go on board with you to see my husband?"

"Oh, yes, Peggy," replied Cross; "the first lieutenant would not refuse
you after what has happened, nor Captain Delmar either, stiff as he is:
for, although he never shows it, he don't want feeling.  Jim will be
glad to see you, Peggy; you haven't an idea how he took on, when he
heard of your loss.  He borrowed a pocket-handkerchief from the corporal
of marines."

"I suspect he'd rather borrow a bottle of rum from the purser," replied
Peggy.

"Recollect, Peggy," said I, holding up my finger.

"Mr Keene, I do recollect; I pledge you my word that I have not tasted
a drop of spirits since we parted--and that with a sovereign in my
pocket."

"Well, only keep to it--that's all."

"I will, indeed, Mr Keene; and, what's more, I shall love you as long
as I live."

We pulled on board in the gig, and Peggy was soon in the arms of her
husband.  As Pearson embraced her at the gangway--for he could not help
it--the first lieutenant very kindly said, "Pearson, I shan't want you
on deck till after dinner: you may go below with your wife."

"Now, may God bless you, for a cross-looking, kind-hearted gentleman,"
said Peggy to the first lieutenant.

Peggy was as good as her word to me; she gave such an account of my
courage and presence of mind, of her fears and at last of her getting
tipsy--of my remaining at the helm and managing the boat all night by
myself, that I obtained great reputation among the ship's company, and
it was all reported to the officers, and worked its way until it came
from the first lieutenant to the captain, and from the captain to the
port admiral.  This is certain, that Peggy Pearson did do me a good
service, for I was no longer looked upon as a mere youngster, who had
just come to sea, and who had not been tried.

"Well, sir," said Bob Cross, a day or two afterwards, "it seems, by
Peggy Pearson's report, that you're not frightened at a trifle."

"Peg Pearson's report won't do me much good."

"You ought to know better, Master Keene, than to say that; a mouse may
help a lion, as the fable says."

"Where did you learn all your fables, Cross?"

"I'll tell you; there's a nice little girl that used to sit on my knee
and read her fables to me, and I listened to her because I loved her."

"And does she do so now?"

"Oh, no; she's too big for that--she'd blush up to the temples; but
never mind the girl or the fables.  I told you that Peggy had reported
your conduct, as we say in the service.  Now do you know, that this very
day I heard the first lieutenant speaking of it to the captain, and
you've no idea how proud the captain looked, although he pretended to
care nothing about it; I watched him, and he looked as much as to say,
`that's my boy.'"

"Well, if that pleases him, I'll make him prouder yet of me, if I have
the opportunity," replied I.

"That you will, Master Keene, if I'm any judge of fizonomy; and that's
the way to go to a parent's heart: make him feel proud of you."

I did not forget this, as the reader will eventually discover.

I had written to my mother, giving her a long account of my adventures,
but not saying a word of my having been at Chatham.  I made her suppose,
as I did the captain, that I had been carried up to London.  My letter
reached her the day after the one announcing my safety, written to her
by Captain Delmar.

She answered me by return of post, thanking Heaven for my preservation,
and stating how great had been her anguish and misery at my supposed
loss.  In the latter part of the letter was this paragraph:--

  "Strange to say, on the night of the 16th, when I was on my bed in
  tears, having but just received the news of your loss, your
  grandmother went downstairs, and declares that she saw you or your
  ghost in the little back parlour.  At all events, I found her
  insensible on the floor, so that she must have seen something.  She
  might have been frightened at nothing; and yet I know not what to
  think, for there are circumstances which almost make _me_ believe that
  somebody was in the house.  I presume you can prove an _alibi_."

That my mother had been suspicious, perhaps more than suspicious, from
the disappearance of the letter, I was convinced.  When I replied to
her, I said:--

  "My _alibi_ is easily proved by applying to the master and seamen of
  the vessel on board of which I was.  Old granny must have been
  frightened at her own shadow: the idea of my coming to your house, and
  having left it without seeing you is rather too absurd; granny must
  have invented the story, because she hates me, and thought to make you
  do the same."

Whatever my mother may have thought, she did not again mention the
subject.  I had, however, a few days afterwards, a letter from my aunt
Milly, in which she laughingly told the same story of granny swearing
that she had seen me or my ghost.  "At first we thought it was your
ghost, but since a letter from Captain Delmar to your mother has been
missing, it is now imagined that you have been here, and have taken
possession of it.  You will tell me, my dearest Percival, I'm sure, if
you did play this trick to granny, or not; you know you may trust me
with any of your tricks."

But I was not in this instance to be wheedled by my aunt.  I wrote in
return, saying how much I was amazed at my grandmother telling such
fibs, and proved to her most satisfactorily that I was in London at the
time they supposed I might have been at Chatham.

That my aunt had been requested by my mother to try to find out the
truth, I was well convinced: but I felt my secret of too much importance
to trust either of them and from that time the subject was never
mentioned; and I believe it was at last surmised that the letter might
have been destroyed accidentally or purposely by the maid-servant, and
that my grandmother had been frightened at nothing at all--an opinion
more supported, as the maid, who had taken advantage of my mother's
retiring to her room, and had been out gossiping, declared that she had
not left the premises three minutes, and not a soul could have come in.
Moreover, it was so unlikely that I could have been in Chatham without
being recognised by somebody.

My grandmother shook her head, and said nothing during all this
canvassing of the question; but my aunt Milly declared that I never
would have been at Chatham without coming to see her.  And it was her
opinion that the servant girl had read the letter when left on the
table, and had taken it out to show to her associates; and somebody who
wished to have a hold upon my mother by the possession of the letter had
retained it.

I think my mother came to that opinion at last, and it was the source of
much uneasiness to her.  She dared not say a word to Captain Delmar, and
every day expected to have an offer made of returning the letter, upon a
certain sum being paid down.  But the offer was never made, as the
letter had been sewed up by Bob Cross in the piece of seal-skin, and was
worn round my neck with a ribbon, with as much care as if it had been a
supposed bit of the wood of the true cross, possessed by some old female
Catholic devotee.

But long before all these discussions were over, H.M. ship Calliope had
been ordered to sail, and was steering down the Channel before a smart
breeze.



CHAPTER EIGHTEEN.

Although I have so much to say as to oblige me to pass over without
notice the majority of my companions, I think I ought to dedicate one
chapter to a more particular description of those with whom I was now
principally in contact on board of the Calliope.

I have already spoken much of the Honourable Captain Delmar, but I must
describe him more particularly.  When young, he must have been a very
handsome man; even now, although nearly fifty years of age, and his hair
and whiskers a little mixed with grey, he was a fine-looking personage,
of florid complexion, large blue eyes, nose and mouth very perfect: in
height he was full six feet; and he walked so erect that he looked even
taller.

There was precision, I may say dignity, in all his motions.  If he
turned to you, it was slowly and deliberately; there was nothing like
rapidity in his movement.  On the most trifling occasions, he wrapped
himself up in etiquette with all the consequence of a Spanish Hidalgo;
and showed in almost every action and every word that he never forgot
his superiority of birth.

No one, except myself, perhaps, would ever have thought of taking a
liberty with him; for although there was a pomposity about him, at the
same time it was the pomposity of a high-bred gentleman, who respected
himself, and expected every one to do the same.

That sometimes a little mirth was occasioned by his extreme precision is
true; but it was whispered, not boldly indulged in.  As to his qualities
as an officer and seaman, I shall only say, that they were considered
more than respectable.  Long habit of command had given him a fair
knowledge of the duties in the first instance, and he never condescended
(indeed, it would have been contrary to his character) to let the
officers or seamen know whether he did or did not know anything about
the second.

As to his moral character, I can only say, that it was very difficult to
ascertain it.  That he would never do that which was in the slightest
degree derogatory to the character of a gentleman was most certain: but
he was so wrapped up in exclusiveness, that it was almost impossible to
estimate his feelings.  Occasionally, I may say very rarely, he might
express them; but if he did, it was but for a moment, and he was again
reserved as before.

That he was selfish is true; but who is not? and those in high rank are
still more so than others, not so much by nature, but because their self
is encouraged by those around them.  You could easily offend his pride
but he was above being flattered in a gross way.  I really believe that
the person in the ship for whom he had the least respect was the
obsequious Mr Culpepper.  Such was the Honourable Captain Delmar.

Mr Hippesley, the first lieutenant, was a broad-shouldered,
ungainly-looking personage.  He had more the appearance of a master in
the service than a first lieutenant.  He was a thorough seaman; and
really, for a first lieutenant, a very good-natured man.  All that was
requisite, was to allow his momentary anger to have free escape by the
safety-valve of his mouth: if you did not, an explosion was sure to be
the result.

He was, as we use the term at sea, a regular ship husband--that is to
say, he seldom put his foot on shore; and if he did, he always appeared
anxious to get on board again.  He was on good terms, but not familiar,
with his messmates, and very respectful to the captain.  There was no
other officer in the service who would have suited Captain Delmar so
well as Mr Hippesley, who, although he might occasionally grumble at
not being promoted, appeared on the whole to be very indifferent about
the matter.

The men were partial to him, as they always are to one who, whatever may
be his peculiarities, is consistent.  Nothing is more unpleasant to men
than to sail under a person whom, to use their own expression, "they
never knew where to find."

The second and third lieutenants, Mr Percival and Mr Weymss, were
young men of good family, and were admitted to a very slight degree of
familiarity with Captain Delmar: they were of gentlemanly manners, both
good seamen, and kind to their inferiors.

Mr Culpepper, the purser, was my abomination--a nasty, earwigging,
flattering, bowing old rogue.  The master, Mr Smith, was a very quiet
man, plain and unoffending, but perfectly master of, and always
attentive to, his duty.

The marine officer, Mr Tusk, was a nonentity put into a red jacket.
The surgeon was a tall, and very finicking sort of gentleman as to
dress; but well informed, friendly in disposition, and perfectly
acquainted with his profession.

My messmates were most of them young men of good birth, with the
exception of Tommy Dott, who was the son of a warrant officer, and Mr
Green, whose father was a boot-maker in London.  I shall not, however,
waste my reader's time upon them; they will appear when required.  I
shall, therefore, now proceed with my narrative.

It is usually the custom for the midshipmen to take up provisions and
spirits beyond their allowance, and pay the purser an extra sum for the
same; but this Mr Culpepper would not permit--indeed, he was the most
stingy and disagreeable old fellow that I ever met with in the service.
We never had dinner or grog enough, or even lights sufficient for our
wants.

We complained to the first lieutenant, but he was not inclined to assist
us: he said we had our allowance, and it was all we could demand; that
too much grog was bad for us, and as for candles, they only made us sit
up late when we ought to be in bed: he was, moreover, very strict about
the lights being put out.  This, however, was the occasion of war to the
knife between the midshipmen and Mr Culpepper.

But it was of no avail; he would seldom trust his own steward or the
mate of the main deck; whenever he could, he superintended the serving
out of all provisions and mixing of the grog: no wonder that he was said
to be a rich man.  The only party to whom he was civil was Mr
Hippesley, the first lieutenant, and the captain; both of whom had the
power of annoying him, and reducing his profits.

To the captain he was all humility; every expense that he required was,
with his proffered bow, cheerfully submitted to; but he gained on the
whole by this apparent liberality, as the captain was rather inclined to
protect him in all other points of service, except those connected with
his own comforts and luxuries; and many a good job did Mr Culpepper get
done for him, by humbly requesting and obsequiously bowing.

We had been at sea for about a week, and were running down towards the
island of Madeira, which we expected to reach the next morning.  Our
destination was a secret, as our captain sailed with sealed orders, to
be opened when off that island.

The weather was very fine and warm, and the wind had fallen, when at
sundown high land was reported from the mast-head, at about forty miles
distant.  I was, as on the former cruise, signal midshipman, and did day
duty--that is, I went down with the sun, and kept no night watch.

I had been cogitating how I could play some trick to Mr Culpepper: the
midshipmen had often proposed that we should do so, but I had made up my
mind that, whenever I did, I would make no confidant.  Tommy Dott often
suggested an idea, but I invariably refused, as a secret is only a
secret when it is known to one person: for that reason I never consulted
Bob Cross, because I knew that he would have persuaded me not to do so;
but after anything was happily executed, I then used to confide in him.

I observed before that Mr Culpepper wore a flaxen wig, and I felt sure,
from his penuriousness, that he was not likely to have more than one on
board.  I, therefore, fixed upon his wig as the object of my vengeance,
and having made up my mind on the night that we made the island of
Madeira, I determined to put my project in execution.

For convenience, the first lieutenant had a small ladder which went down
through the skylight of the gun-room so that they could descend direct,
instead of going round by the after-hatchway, and entering by the
gun-room doors, where the sentry was placed.

I went to my hammock and slept till the middle watch was called; I then
got up and dressed myself without being perceived.

As soon as the lieutenant of the middle watch had been called by the
mate, who lighted his candle and left him to dress himself, I came up by
the after-ladder, and, watching an opportunity when the sentry at the
captain's cabin door had walked forward, I softly descended by the
skylight ladder into the gun-room.

The light in the cabin of the lieutenant, who was dressing, was quite
sufficient, and the heat of the weather was so great, that all the
officers slept with their cabin doors fastened back, for ventilation; I
had, therefore, no difficulty in putting my hand on the purser's wig,
with which I escaped unperceived, and immediately turned in again to my
hammock, to consider what I should do with my prize.

Should I throw it overboard; should I stuff it down the pump-well, or
slip it into the ship's coppers, that it might re-appear when the
pea-soup was baled out or dinner; or should I put it into the manger
forward, where the pigs were?

In the meantime, while I was considering the matter, the midshipman of
the first watch came down and turned in, and all was again quiet, except
an occasional nasal melody from some heavy sleeper.

At last, quite undecided, I peeped through the clews of my hammock to
see what the sentry at the gun-room door was about, and found that he
had sat down on a chest, and was fast asleep.  I knew immediately that
the man was in my power, and I did not fear him; and then it was that
the idea came into my head, that I would singe the purser's wig.  I went
softly to the sentry's light, took it from the hook, and went down with
it into the cockpit, as being the best place for carrying on my
operations.  The wig was very greasy, and every curl, as I held it in
the candle, flared up, and burned beautifully to within a quarter of an
inch of the caul.

It was soon done, and I replaced the sentry's light; and finding that
the gun-room door was a-jar, I went in softly, and replaced the wig
where I had taken it from, repassed the sentry, who was still fast
asleep, and regained my hammock, intending to undress myself in it; but
I had quite forgotten one thing (I was soon reminded of it)--I heard the
voice of the officer of the watch I calling out to the sentry at the
cabin door--

"Sentry, what's that smell of burning?"

"I don't know, sir," replied the sentry; "I was just thinking of going
forward for the ship's corporal."

The smell, which had gradually ascended from the cockpit, now spread
from deck to deck, and became stronger and stronger.  The gun-room-door
sentry jumped up at the voice of the lieutenant, and called out that
there was a very strong smell in the cockpit.  The lieutenant and mate
of the watch came down, and it was immediately supposed that the
spirit-room had caught fire, for the smell was really very powerful.

The first lieutenant, who had wakened up at the voices, was out in a
minute; he put his head over the cockpit, and ordering the officer of
the watch to call the drummer, and beat to quarters, ran up to inform
the captain.

The drummer was out in a moment, and, seizing his drum, which hung up by
the mainmast, ran up in his shirt and beat the tattoo.

The whole ship's company rose up at the sound, which they knew was the
signal for something important; and the beat of the drum was followed up
by the shrill piping of the boatswain's mates at each hatchway.

At that moment, some frightened man belonging to the watch cried out
that the ship was on fire, and the lower decks were immediately a scene
of bustle and confusion.

Perhaps there is nothing more awful than the alarm of fire at sea; the
feeling that there is no escape--the only choice being by which element,
fire or water, you choose to perish.  But if it is awful in daylight,
how much more so is it to be summoned up to await such peril when you
have been sleeping in fancied bounty.

The captain had hurried on his clothes, and stood on the quarter-deck.
He was apparently calm and collected; but, as usual, the first
lieutenant carried on the duty, and well he did it.

"Where's the gunner?  Mr Hutt, bring up the keys from my cabin, and
have all ready for clearing the magazines if required.  Firemen, get
your buckets to bear; carpenters, rig the pumps.  Silence there, fore
and aft."

But the confusion became very great, and there evidently was a panic.
The captain then interposed, calling out to the boatswain and his mates
to send every man aft on the quarter-deck.

This order was obeyed; the men came thronging like a flock of sheep,
huddling together and breathless.

"Silence there, my men," cried Captain Delmar--"silence.  I say; is this
the conduct of men-of-war's-men?  Every man of you sit down on deck--
pass the word there for every man to sit down."

The order was mechanically obeyed, and as soon as the ship's company
were all seated, the captain said--

"I tell you what, my lads, I'm ashamed of you: the way to put out a fire
is to be cool and calm, obeying orders and keeping silence.  Now collect
yourselves, all of you, for until you are all quiet and cool, you will
sit where you are."

After a pause of a few seconds--

"Now, my men, are you more steady?  Recollect, be cool, and keep
silence.  Carpenter, are the pumps rigged?"

"Yes, sir," replied the carpenter.

"Now, firemen, go for your buckets; let nobody else move.  Silence--not
a word: three foremast guns main-deck, to your quarters.  Silence and
quiet, if you please.  Now, are you all steady?--then, to your quarters,
my men, and wait for orders."

It was astonishing how collected the ship's company became by the
judicious conduct of the captain, who now continued to command.  When
the men had gone down to their stations, he directed the two junior
lieutenants to go and examine where the fire was, and to be careful not
to lift the hatches if they discovered that it was in the spirit-room.

I had been on the quarter-deck some time, and, being aware of the cause,
of course was not at all alarmed: and I had exerted myself very
assiduously in keeping the men cool and quiet, shoving the men down who
were unwilling to sit down on the deck, and even using them very
roughly; showing a great deal more _sang froid_ than any other of the
officers, which of course was not to be wondered at.

Mr Culpepper, who was most terribly alarmed, had come up on deck, and
stood trembling close to the side of the captain and first lieutenant;
he had pulled on his wig without discovering that it had been burnt, and
as I passed him, the burnt smell was very strong indeed; so thought the
captain and the first lieutenant, who were waiting the return of the
officers.

"I smell the fire very strong just now," said the captain to the first
lieutenant.

"Yes, sir, every now and then it is very strong," replied the first
lieutenant.

The purser's wig was just between them,--no wonder that they smelt it.
After two or three minutes the officers came up, and reported that they
could discover no fire, and that there was very little smell of fire
down below.

"And yet I smell it now," said Captain Delmar.

"So do I, sir," said the second lieutenant; "and it really smells
stronger on deck than it does down below."

"It's very odd; let them continue the search."

The search was continued; the first lieutenant now going down, and after
a time they said that the strongest smell was from the purser's cabin.

"Mr Culpepper, they say the smell is in your cabin," said Captain
Delmar; "go down, if you please; they may want to open your lockers."

Mr Culpepper, who still trembled like an aspen, went down the ladder,
and I followed him; but in descending the second ladder his foot
slipped, and he fell down the hatchway to the lower deck.

I hastened down after him; he was stunned, and I thought this a good
opportunity to pull off his wig, which I did very dexterously, and
concealed it.  He was taken into the gun-room, and the surgeon called,
while I walked up on deck, and quietly dropped the wig overboard at the
gangway.

My reason for doing this was, that having no idea that my trick would
have created so much confusion, and have turned up the officers and men
as it did, I thought that the purser's wig would, the next morning,
account for the smell of fire, and an investigation take place, which,
although it might not lead to discovery, would certainly lead to
suspicion; so the wig was now floating away, and with the wig went away
all evidence.

After a search of nearly half an hour, nothing was discovered; the
drummer was ordered to beat the retreat, and all was quiet again.

I went to bed quite satisfied with the events of the night, and slept
the sleep of innocence--at least I slept just as soundly.

This mysterious affair ever remained a mystery: the only loss was the
purser's wig, but that was nothing, as Mr Culpepper acknowledged that
he did not know himself what he was about, and, for all he knew to the
contrary, he might have thrown it overboard.

My conduct on this occasion again gained me great credit.  It had been
remarked by the captain and officers, and I rose in estimation.  How I
might have behaved had I really supposed that the ship was on fire, is
quite another affair--I presume not quite so fearlessly.  As it was, I
was resolved to take all the credit given to me and for that reason it
was not till a long while afterwards, that I hinted the secret even to
Bob Cross.



CHAPTER NINETEEN.

The next morning, when we arrived at Funchal, we found that our orders
were for the West Indies: we stayed one day to take in wine and then
hove up the anchor, and went on to our destination.  We soon got into
the trades, and run them fast down till we arrived at Carlisle Bay,
Barbadoes, where we found the admiral and delivered our despatches.  We
were ordered to water and complete as soon as possible, as we were to be
sent on a cruise.

Tommy Dott, my quondam ally, was in disgrace.  He had several times
during the cruise proposed that I should join him in several plots of
mischief, but I refused, as I did not consider them quite safe.

"You are not the keen fellow I thought you were," said he; "you are up
to nothing now; there's no fun in you, as there used to be."

He was mistaken; there was fun in me, but there was also prudence, and
from what I had latterly seen of Tommy Dott, I did not think he was to
be trusted.

The day after we anchored at Carlisle Bay, Tommy came to me and said,
"Old Culpepper serves out plums and suet this afternoon; I heard him
tell steward.  Now, I think we may manage to get some--I never saw
better plums on board of a ship."

"Well," said I, "I like raisins as well as you do, Tommy--but what is
your plan?"

"Why, I've got my squirt: and old Culpepper never lights more than one
of his purser's dips (small candles) in the steward's room.  I'll get
down in the cockpit in the dark, and squirt at the candle--the water
will put it out, and he'll send the steward for another light, and then
I'll try and get some."

It was not a bad plan, but still I refused to join in it, as it was only
the work of one person, and not two.  I pointed that out to him and he
agreed with me, saying that he would do it himself.

When Mr Culpepper went down into the steward's room, Tommy
reconnoitred, and then came into the berth and filled his squirt.

Although I would not join him, I thought I might as well see what was
going on and therefore descended the cockpit ladder soon after Tommy,
keeping out of the way in the foremost part of the cockpit, where it was
quite dark.

Tommy directed his squirt very dexterously, hit the lighted wick of the
solitary candle, which fizzed, sputtered, and finally gave up the ghost.

"Bless me!" said Mr Culpepper, "what can that be?"

"A leak from the seams above I suppose," said the steward:

"I will go to the gallery for another light."

"Yes, yes, be quick," said Mr Culpepper, who remained in the steward's
room in the dark, until the return of the steward.

Tommy Dott then slipped in softly, and commenced filling all his pockets
with the raisins; he had nearly taken in his full cargo, when, somehow
or another, Mr Culpepper stepped forward from where he stood, and he
touched Tommy, whom he immediately seized crying out, "Thieves!
thieves!--call the sentry!--sentry, come here."

The sentry of the gun-room door went down the ladder as Mr Culpepper
dragged out Tommy, holding him fast by both hands.

"Take him, sentry--take him in charge.  Call the master-at-arms--little
thief.  Mr Dott!  Hah--well, we'll see."

The consequence was, that Mr Tommy Dott was handed from the sentry to
the master-at-arms, and taken up on the quarterdeck, followed by Mr
Culpepper and his steward.

There was no defence or excuse to be made: the pockets of his jacket and
of his trowsers were stuffed with raisins; and at the bottom of his
pocket, when they were emptied by the master-at-arms, was found the
squirt.

As soon as the hue and cry was over, and all the parties were on the
quarter-deck, as the coast was clear, I thought I might as well take
advantage of it; and therefore I came out from my hiding-place, went
into the steward's room, filled my handkerchief with raisins, and
escaped to the berth unperceived; so that while Tommy Dott was
disgorging on the quarter-deck, I was gorging below.

Mr Dott was reported to the captain for this heinous offence; and, in
consequence, was ordered below under arrest, his place in the captain's
gig being filled up by me; so that in every point of view Tommy
suffered, and I reaped the harvest.  What pleased me most was, that,
being midshipman of the captain's boat, I was of course continually in
the company of the coxswain, Bob Cross.

But I must not delay at present, as I have to record a very serious
adventure which occurred, and by which I, for a long while, was
separated from my companions and shipmates.

In ten days we sailed in search of a pirate vessel, which was reported
to have committed many dreadful excesses, and had become the terror of
the mercantile navy.  Our orders were to proceed northward, and to
cruise off the Virgin Islands, near which she was said to have been last
seen.

About three weeks after we had left Carlisle Bay, the look-out man
reported two strange sail from the mast-head.  I was sent up, as signal
mid, to examine them, and found that they were both schooners, hove to
close together; one of them very rakish in their appearance.  All sail
in chase was made immediately, and we came up within three miles of
them, when one, evidently the pirate we were in search of, made sail,
while the other remained hove to.

As we passed the vessel hove to, which we took it for granted was a
merchantman, which the pirate had been plundering, the captain ordered
one of the cutters to be lowered down with a midshipman and boat's crew
to take possession of her.  The men were all in the boat, but the
midshipman had gone down for his spy-glass, or something else, and as it
was merely with a view of ascertaining what the vessel was, and the
chief object was to overtake the pirate vessel, to prevent the delay
which was caused by the other midshipman not being ready, Mr Hippesley
ordered me to go into the boat instead of him, and, as soon as I was on
board of the schooner, to make sail and follow the frigate.

The captain did say, "He is too young, Mr Hippesley; is he not?"

"I'd sooner trust him than many older, sir," was the reply of the first
lieutenant.  "Jump in, Mr Keene."  I did so, with my telescope in my
hand.  "Lower away, my lads--unhook, and sheer off;" and away went the
frigate in pursuit of the pirate vessel, leaving me in the boat, to go
on board of the schooner.

We were soon alongside, and found that there was not a soul on board of
the vessel; what had become of the crew, whether they had been murdered,
or not, it was impossible to say, but there were a few drops of blood on
the deck.

The vessel was an American, bound to one of the islands, with shingle
and fir planks; not only was her hold full, but the fir planks were
piled up on each side of the deck, between the masts, to the height of
five or six feet.  The pirate had, apparently, been taking some of the
planks on board for her own use.

We dropped the boat astern, let draw the foresheet, and made sail after
the frigate, which was now more than a mile from us, and leaving us very
fast.

The schooner was so over-loaded that she sailed very badly, and before
the evening closed in, we could just perceive the top-gallant sails of
the Calliope above the horizon: but this we thought little of, as we
knew that as soon as she had captured the pirate she would run back
again, and take us out.

There were some hams and other articles on board, for the pirates had
not taken everything, although the lockers had been all broken open, and
the articles were strewed about in every direction in the cabin and on
the deck.

Just before dark, we took the bearings of the frigate, and stood the
same course as she was doing, and then we sat down to a plentiful meal
to which we did justice.  I then divided the boat's crew into watches,
went down into the cabin, and threw myself on the standing bed-place, of
which there was but one, with all my clothes on; the men who had not the
watch went down, and turned in in the cuddy forward, where the seamen
usually sleep.

It was not till past midnight that I could obtain any sleep; the heat
was excessive, and I was teased by the cockroaches, which appeared to
swarm in the cabin to an incredible degree, and were constantly running
over my face and body.  I little thought then why they swarmed.  I
recollect that I dreamt of murder, and tossing men overboard; and then
of the vessel being on fire and after that, I felt very cool and
comfortable, and I dreamed no more; I thought that I heard a voice
calling my name: it appeared that I did hear it in my sleep, but I slept
on.

At last I turned round, and felt a splashing as of water, and some water
coming into my mouth: I awoke.  All was dark and quiet; I put my hand
out, and I put it into the water--where was I--was I overboard?  I
jumped up in my fright; I found that was still on the standing
bed-place, but the water was above the mattress.

I immediately comprehended that the vessel was sinking, and I called
out, but there was no reply.

I turned out of the bed-place, and found myself up to my neck in water,
with my feet on the cabin-deck.  Half swimming, and half floundering, I
gained the ladder, and went up the hatchway.

It was still quite dark, and I could not perceive nor hear anybody.  I
called out but there was no reply.  I then was certain that the men had
left the vessel when they round her sinking, and had left me to sink
with her.  I may as well here observe, that when the men had found the
water rising upon them forward they had rushed on deck in a panic,
telling the man at the wheel that the vessel was sinking, and had
immediately hauled up the boat to save their lives; but they did
recollect me, and the coxswain of the boat had come down in the cabin by
the ladder, and called me: but the cabin was full of water, and he,
receiving no answer, considered that I was drowned, and returned on
deck.

The boat had then shoved off, and I was left to my fate; still I hoped
that such was not the case, and I hallooed again and again, but in vain,
and I thought it was all over with me.  It was a dreadful position to be
in.  I said my prayers and prepared to die, and yet I thought it was
hard to die at fifteen years old.

Although I do not consider that my prayers were of much efficacy, for
there was but little resignation in them, praying had one good effect--
it composed me, and I began to think whether there was any chance of
being saved.

Yes, there were plenty of planks on the deck, and if it were daylight I
could tie them together and make a raft, which would bear me up.  How I
longed for daylight, for I was afraid that the vessel would sink before
I could see to do what was requisite.  The wind had become much fresher
during the night, and the waves now dashed against the sides of the
water-logged vessel.

As I watched for daylight, I began to reflect how this could have
happened; and it occurred to me that the pirates had scuttled the bottom
of the vessel to sink her; and in this conjecture I was right.

At last a faint light appeared in the east, which soon broke into broad
day, and I lost no time in setting about my work.

Before I began, however, I thought it advisable to ascertain how much
more water there was in the vessel since I had quitted the cabin which
it appeared to me must have been about two hours.  I therefore went down
in the cabin to measure it.  I know how high it was when I waded through
it.  I found, to my surprise, and, I may say, to my joy, that it was not
higher than it was before.

I thought that perhaps I might be mistaken, so I marked the height of
the water at the cabin ladder, and I sat down on deck to watch it; it
appeared to me not to rise any higher.

This made me reflect, and it then struck me that, as the vessel was
laden with timber, she would not probably sink any lower, so I deferred
my work till I had ascertained the fact.

Three hours did I watch, and found that the water did not rise higher,
and I was satisfied; but the wind increased, and the vessel's sails,
instead of flapping to the wind as she drove without any one at the
helm, were now bellied out, and the vessel careened to leeward.

I was afraid that she would turn over; and finding an axe on the deck, I
mounted the rigging with it, and commenced cutting away the lacing of
the sails from the mast.  I then lowered the gaffs, and cleared away the
canvass in the same way, so that the sails fell on the deck.  This was a
work of at least one hour; but when the canvass was off, the vessel was
steady.

It was well that I had taken this precaution; for very soon afterwards
the wind was much fresher, and the weather appeared very threatening;
the sea also rose considerably.  I was very tired, and sat down for some
time on the deck abaft.

It then occurred to me that the weight of the planks upon the deck must
not only keep the vessel deeper in the water, but make her more
top-heavy, and I determined to throw them overboard; but first I looked
for something to eat, and found plenty of victuals in the iron pot in
which the men had cooked their supper the night before.

As soon as I had obtained from the cask lashed on the deck a drink of
water, to wash down the cold fried ham which I had eaten, I set work to
throw overboard the planks on deck.

When I had thrown over a portion from one side I went to the other, and
threw over as many more, that I might, as much as possible, keep the
vessel on an even keel.

This job occupied me the whole of the day; and when I had completed my
task I examined the height of the water at the cabin ladder, and found
that the vessel had risen more than six inches.  This was a source of
great comfort to me, and what pleased me more was, that the wind had
gone down again, and the water was much smoother.

I made a supper off some raw ham, for the fire had been extinguished,
and committing myself to the protection of Heaven, lay down as the sun
set, and from the fatigue of the day was soon in a sound sleep.

I awoke about the middle of the night.  The stars shone brightly, and
there was but a slight ripple on the water.

I thought of my mother, of my aunt Milly, of Captain Delmar, and I felt
for the seal-skin pouch which was fastened round my neck.  It was all
safe.

I calculated chances, and I made up my mind that I should be picked up
by some vessel or another before long.

I said to myself--"Why, I am better off now than I was when in the
wherry, with Peggy Pearson; I was saved then, why should I not be now?"

I felt no desponding, and lay down, and was soon fast asleep.

It was broad daylight when I awoke; I took my spy-glass, and looking
round the horizon, discovered a vessel several miles off, standing
towards me.  This gave me fresh spirits.

I made a raw breakfast, and drank plenty of water as before.  The wind,
which was very light, increased a little.  The vessel came nearer, and I
made her out to be a schooner.  In two hours she was close to me, and I
waved my hat, and hallooed as loud as I could.

The schooner was full of men, and steered close to me--she was a
beautiful craft, and, although the wind was so light, glided very fast
through the water, and I could not help thinking that she was the pirate
vessel which the frigate had been in chase of.

It appeared as if they intended to pass me, and I hallooed, "Schooner,
ahoy!  Why don't you send a boat on board?"

I must say, that when the idea struck me that she was a pirate vessel,
my heart almost failed me.

Shortly afterwards the schooner rounded to and lowered a boat, which
pulled to the vessel.  The boat's crew were all negroes.

One of them said, "Jump in, you white boy; next jump he take be into the
shark's mouth," continued the man, grinning, as he addressed himself to
the others in the boat.

I got into the boat, and they rowed on board the schooner.  I did then
think that I was done for; for what mercy could I expect, being a king's
officer, from pirates, which the words of the negro convinced me they
were?

As soon as I was alongside of the schooner, they ordered me to go up the
side, which I did, with my spy-glass in my hand.  I leaped from the
gunwale down on the deck, and found myself on board of an armed vessel,
with a crew wholly composed of blacks.

I was rudely seized by two of them, who led me aft to where a negro
stood apart from the rest.  A more fierce, severe, determined-looking
countenance, I never beheld.  He was gigantic in stature and limbed like
the Farnesian Hercules.

"Well, boy, who are you?" said he, "and how came you on board of that
vessel?"

I told him in very few words.

"Then you belong to that frigate that chased us the day before
yesterday?"

"Yes," replied I.

"What is her name?"

"The Calliope."

"She sails well," said he.

"Yes," replied I; "she is the fastest sailer on this station."

"That's all the information I want of you, boy: now you may go."

"Go where?" replied I.

"Go where?--go overboard, to be sure," replied he, with a grin.

My heart died within me; but I mustered courage enough to say, "Much
obliged to you, sir; but I'd rather stay where I am, if it's all the
same to you."

The other negroes laughed at this reply, and I felt a little confidence;
at all events, their good-humour gave me courage, and I felt that being
bold was my only chance.

The negro captain looked at me for a time, as if considering, and at
last said to the men, "Overboard with him."

"Good-bye, sir, you're very kind," said I; "but this is a capital
spy-glass, and I leave it to you as a legacy."  And I went up to him and
offered him my spy-glass.  Merciful Heaven! bow my heart beat against my
ribs when I did this!

The negro captain took the glass, and looked through it.

"It is a good glass," said he, as he removed it from his eyes.  It was
poor Green's spy-glass, which he had given me for showing him the
mason's signs.

"Well, white boy, I accept your present; and now, good bye."

"Good-bye, sir.  Do me one kindness in return," said I, very gravely,
for I felt my hour was come.

"And what is that?" replied the negro.

"Tie a shot to my heels, that I may sink quickly; it won't take them
long."

"You don't ask me to spare your life, then?" replied the negro.

"He de very first white dat not ask it," said one of the negroes.

"Dat really for true," said another.

"Yes, by gum," replied a third.

Oh, how I wished to know what to say at that moment!  The observations
of the negroes made me imagine that I had better not _ask_ for it and
yet how I clung to life!  It was an awful moment--I felt as if I had
lived a year in a few minutes.  For a second or two I felt faint and
giddy--I drew a long breath and revived.

"You don't answer me, boy," said the negro captain.

"Why should I ask when I feel certain to be refused?  If you will give
me my life, I will thank you: I don't particularly wish to die, I can
assure you."

"I have taken an oath never to spare a white man.  For once I am sorry
that I cannot break my oath."

"If that is all, I am a boy, and not a man," replied I.  "Keep me till I
grow bigger."

"By golly, captain, that very well said.  Keep him, captain," said one
of the negroes.

"Yes, captain," replied another; "keep him to tend your cabin.  Proper
you have white slave boy."

The negro captain for some time made no reply; he appeared to be in deep
thought.  At last he said--

"Boy, you have saved your life: you may thank yourself and not me.
Prossa, let him be taken below; give him a frock and trousers and throw
that infernal dress overboard, or I may change my resolution."

The negro who was addressed, and who wore a sort of uniform as an
officer--which he was, being second mate--led me below,--nothing loth, I
can assure my readers.

When I was between decks.  I sat down upon a chest, my head swam, and I
fainted.  The shock had been too powerful for a lad of my age.  They
brought water, and recovered me.  When I revived, I felt that I might
have lost in their good opinion by thus knowing my weakness; and I had
sufficient presence of mind to ask for something to eat.  This deceived
them; they said to one another that I must have been on board that
vessel for two days without food, and of course I did not deny it.

They brought me some meat and some grog.  I ate and drank a little.
They then took off my uniform, and put on me a check frock and white
trousers; after which, I said I wished to lie down a little, and they
left me to sleep on the chest where I had been seated.

I pretended to sleep, although I could not; and I found out by their
conversation that I gained the goodwill not only of the crew, but of the
captain, by my behaviour.

I considered that I had gained my life, at least for the present; but
what security could I have in such company?

After an hour or two I felt quite recovered, and I thought it advisable
to go on deck.  I did so, and went right aft to the negro captain, and
stood before him.

"Well, boy," said he, "why do you come to me?"

"You gave me my life; you're the greatest friend I have here, so I come
to you.  Can I do anything?"

"Yes; you may assist in the cabin, if your white blood does not curdle
at the idea of attending on a black man."

"Not at all.  I will do anything for them who are kind to me, as you
have been."

"And think it no disgrace?"

"Not the least.  Is it a disgrace to be grateful?"

The reader will observe how particularly judicious my replies were,
although but fifteen years old.  My dangerous position had called forth
the reflection and caution of manhood.

"Go down into the cabin; you may amuse yourself till I come."

I obeyed this order.  The cabin was fitted up equal to most yachts, with
Spanish mahogany and gold mouldings; a beaufet full of silver (there was
no glass) occupied nearly one-half of it; even the plates and dishes
were of the same material.  Silver candelabras hung down from the middle
of the beams; a variety of swords, pistols, and other weapons were fixed
up against the bulkhead; a small bookcase, chiefly of Spanish books,
occupied the after-bulkhead, and the portraits of several white females
filled up the intervals; a large table in the centre, a stand full of
charts, half a dozen boxes of cigars, and two most luxurious sofas,
completed the furniture.

A door from the starboard side led, I presumed, to the stateroom, where
the captain slept; but I did not venture to open it.

I surveyed all this magnificence, wondering who this personage could be;
and more still, how it was that the whole of the crew were, as well as
the captain, of the negro race.

We had heard that the pirate we were in search of was a well-known
character--a Spaniard--who went by the name of Chico, and that his crew
consisted of Americans, English, and Spaniards.  That this was the
vessel, I knew, from the conversation of the men when I was below for
they called her the Stella.

Now, it appeared that the vessel had changed masters; the crew were
chiefly Spanish negroes, or other negroes who spoke Spanish, but some of
them spoke English, and a few words of Spanish; these, I presumed, were
American or English runaways.  But the captain--his language was as
correct as my own; Spanish he spoke fluently, for I heard him giving
orders in that language while I was in the cabin; neither was he
flat-nosed, like the majority.  Had he been white, his features would
have been considered regular, although there was a fierceness about them
at times which was terrible to look at.

"Well," thought I, "if I live and do well, I shall know more about it;
yes, if I live, I wish I was on the quarterdeck of the Calliope, even as
Tommy was with his pockets stuffed full of the purser's raisins, and
looking like a fool and a rogue at the same time."

I had been down in the cabin about half an hour, when the negro captain
made his appearance.

"Well," said he, "I suppose you would as soon see the devil as me--eh,
boy?"

"No: indeed," replied I, laughing--for I had quite recovered my
confidence--"for you were about to send me to the devil, and I feel most
happy that I still remain with you."

"You're exactly the cut of boy I like," replied he, smiling.  "How I
wish that you were black!--I detest your colour."

"I have no objection to black my face, if you wish it," replied I: "it's
all the same to me what colour I am."

"How old are you?"

"I was fifteen a few months back."

"How long have you been to sea?"

"About eighteen months."

He then asked me a great many more questions, about the captain, the
officers, the ship, and myself; to all of which I answered in a guarded
way.

A negro brought down his supper; it was hot, and very savoury; without
any order on his part, I immediately attended upon him during his meal.
He told the negro not to wait and conversed with me during the time that
he was eating: at last, he told me how he had doubled the frigate during
the night.  I then remarked that we had been informed that the vessel
was called the Stella, that the captain's name was Chico, and the crew
were composed of white men of different nations.

"A month or two ago, it was the case," replied the captain.  "Now I have
done, and you may clear away," continued he, rising from his chair and
throwing himself down on one of the sofas.  "Stop; you are hungry, I
don't doubt; you can sit down and eat your supper, and remove the things
afterwards."

I did as he told me: it was the first time in my life I had supped off
massive plate--but I was in strange company; however, it did not spoil
my appetite, and I did not forget to drink a goblet of wine by way of
washing down my repast.

"Thank you, sir," said I, rising, and then performing my office of
attendant.

At his order, I rang the bell for the negro, who assisted me in clearing
away, and then went out with the remains of the supper.

"Am I to stay or go?" said I, respectfully.

"You may go now.  Find the man who came in just now--Jose he is called;
tell him to give you something to sleep upon."

"Good-night, sir," said I.

"Good-night, boy."

As I went forward looking for the negro servant, I was accosted more
than once very kindly by the negro seamen.  At last I went up on the
forecastle, and they asked me to tell them how I was left on board the
schooner.  I did so to those who spoke English, and one of them, who
could speak both languages, translated into Spanish for the benefit of
the others.

"You be first white he hab spared, I tell you," said the American negro,
who had translated into Spanish what I had told them, after the other
had left me with him.

"The captain says he wishes I were black," said I to the negro; "I wish
I was, too, while I am on board of this vessel--my colour makes him
angry, I see that.  Could not I be stained black?"

"Well, I do think it will be a very safe thing for you, if it could be;
for you have not seen him sometimes in his moods; and if to-morrow
morning he was chased and hard pressed by the frigate, you would stand a
poor chance, suppose his eyes light upon you.  I can't tink what make
him to let you off, only but cause you give him de spy-glass in dat hold
way.  I tink I know a chap on board who understand dat--I go see--you
wait here till I come back."

The negro left me, and in a few minutes returned, with a sort of
half-Indian, half-negro-looking cut of fellow, with whom he conversed in
Spanish.

"He say he know how to make brown like himself but not dark same as me.
Suppose you wish he do it to-night--begin now?"

"Yes, I do wish it," replied I; and so I did sincerely, for I felt that
it might be the saving of my life; and I had a great aversion to be torn
to pieces by the sharks which followed the vessel, that being anything
but an agreeable mode of going out of the world.

The American black remained with me, and we conversed for about half an
hour, by which time we were joined by the Spanish Main negro, who
brought up with him some decoction or another, boiling hot.  They
stripped me and rubbed me all over with a bit of sponge, not only the
face and hands, but every part of my body and then I was left standing
quite naked to dry; the crew had gathered round us, and were very merry
at the idea of changing my colour.

As soon as the warm air had dried me, the application was created; and
when I was again dry, the American told me to put on my clothes, and
that he would call me early to have two more applications of the stuff,
and that then I should be quite dark enough.

I asked for Jose, and told him what the captain had said; he gave me a
bundle of matting for a bed, and I was soon fast asleep.  About three
o'clock in the morning I was called up, and the staining repeated twice,
and I then lay down again.

When the hands were turned up at five bells (for everything was very
regular on board), Jose brought me a glass to look at myself, and I was
quite satisfied that my colour would no longer annoy the captain.  I was
not as black as a negro, but I was as dark as a mulatto.

I asked the Spanish negro, through Jose, who could speak both languages,
whether I might wash myself?  He replied, all day long if I pleased;
that I should not get the colour off; it would wear off in time, and the
stuff must be applied once a month, and that would be sufficient.

I went to the forecastle, and washed myself; the negro crew were much
amused, and said that I now was a "bel muchaco"--a handsome boy.  I dare
say they thought so--at all events, they appeared to be very friendly
with me, and my staining myself gave them great satisfaction.  I was
sitting with Jose between decks when the cabin bell rang.

"You go," said he, showing his white teeth as he grinned; "I go after,
see what captain tink."

I went into the cabin, and knocked at the state-room door.

"Come in," said the captain.

I went in, and met him face to face.

"What!" said he, looking earnestly at me--"yet it must be--it is you, is
it not?"

"Yes, sir," replied I, "it is me.  I've turned dark to please you, and I
hope it does please you."

"It does, boy, I can look at you now, and forget that you are white.  I
can.  I feel that I can love you now--you've got rid of your only fault
in my eyes, and I'm not sorry.  I'm only glad that I did not--"

"Give me to the sharks," said I, finishing his sentence.

"Exactly so; say no more about it."

I immediately turned the conversation, by asking him what he required;
and I attended him while dressing.  From that time he became very
friendly towards me, constantly conversing with me.  I did my duty as
his servant for more than a fortnight, during which time we became very
intimate, and (I may as well confess it) I grew very fond of my new
master, and thought less about the ship and my shipmates.  We were going
into a port, I knew, but what port I did not know.

I often had conversations with Jose and the American black, and gained a
great deal of information from them; but I could not discover much of
the history of the captain.  On that point they refused to be
communicative; occasionally hints were given, and then, as if
recollecting themselves, they stopped speaking.

It was about three weeks before we made the land of Cuba, and as soon as
we did so, the schooner was hove to till night, when sail was again
made, and before ten o'clock we saw the lights of the Havannah.  When
about three miles off we again hove to, and about midnight we perceived
under the land the white sails of a schooner, which was standing out.
Sail was made, and we ran down to her, and before she was aware that we
were an enemy, she was laid by the board and in the possession of our
crew.  The people belonging to the vessel were handed up, and she was
examined.  She proved to be a vessel fitted out for the slave trade,
with the manacles, etcetera, on board of her, and was just sailing for
the coast.

I was on the deck when the white men, belonging to the slaver, were
brought on board, and never shall I forget the rage and fury of the
captain.

All sail was made upon both schooners, standing right off from the land,
and at daylight we had left it a long way astern.

Jose said to me, "You better not go to captain dis day.  Keep out of his
way--perhaps he recollect dat you white."

From what I had seen the night before, I thought this good advice; and I
not only did not go into the cabin, but I did not show myself on deck.

About eight o'clock in the morning I heard the boat lowered down and
orders given to scuttle the vessel, as soon as she had been well
searched.  This was done, and the boat returned, having found several
thousand dollars on board of her, which they handed upon deck.

I remained below: I heard the angry voice of the negro captain--the
pleadings and beggings for mercy of the prisoners--busy preparations
making on deck; and several men came down and handed up buckets of sand;
an iron grating was handed up.  The countenances of the negroes who were
thus employed appeared inflamed, as if their wrath was excited; now and
then they laughed at each other, and looked more like demons than men.
That some dreadful punishment was about to be inflicted I was certain
and I remained crouched behind the foremast on the lower-deck.

At last the men were all on deck again, and I was left alone; and then I
heard more noise, begging for mercy, weeping and wailing, and
occasionally a few words from the mouth of the negro captain; then rose
shrieks and screams, and appeals to Heaven, and a strong smell, which I
could not comprehend, came down the hatchways.

The shrieks grew fainter, and at last ceased, and something was thrown
overboard.  Then the same tragedy, whatever it was, was acted over
again--more attempts to obtain mercy--more shrieks--again the same
overpowering smell.  What could it be?  I would have given much to know,
but something told me that I must remain where I was.  Ten times was
this repeated, and then, as evening came on, there was a bustle on deck,
and after a time the crew descended the hatchways.

I caught the eye of the American, with whom I was intimate, and as he
passed me, I beckoned to him.  He came to me.

"What has been done?" said I in a whisper.

"Captain punish slave traders," replied he; "always punish them so."

"Why, what did he do to them?"

"Do?--roast 'em alive.  Dis third slave vessel he take, and he always
serve 'em so.  Serve 'em right; captain very savage; no go to him till
morrow morning--you keep close."  So saying, the American negro left me.

As I afterwards found out, the long boat on the booms had been cleared
out, the sand laid at the bottom to prevent the fire from burning the
boat, the captain and crew of the slave vessel laid on one after the
other upon the iron grating, and burnt alive.  This accounted for the
horrible smell that had come down the hatchways.

It may be considered strange that I really did not feel so much horror
as perhaps I ought to have done.  Had this dreadful punishment been
inflicted upon any _other_ persons than slave dealers, and _by_ any
other parties than negroes, I should not have been able to look at the
captain without abhorrence expressed in my countenance; but I know well
the horrors of the slave trade from conversation I had had with Bob
Cross; and I had imbibed such a hatred against the parties who had
carried it on, that it appeared to me to be an act of retaliation almost
allied to justice.  Had the negro captain only warred against slave
dealers, I do not think I should have cared about remaining in the
vessel; but he had told me and fully proved to me, that he detested all
white men, and had never spared them except in my own instance.

I must acknowledge that I felt very much like going into the lion's den,
when the next morning, on his ringing the cabin bell, I presented myself
to the captain; but so far from being in an ill-humour, he was very kind
to me.

After breakfast, as I was going out, he said to me, "You must have a
name: I shall call you Cato--recollect that; and now I have a question
to ask you--What is that which you carry round your neck on a ribbon?"

"A letter, sir," replied I.

"A letter! and why do you carry a letter?"

"Because it is of the greatest importance to me."

"Indeed!  Now, Cato, sit down on the other sofa, and let me know your
history."

I felt that I could not do better than to make this man at once my
confidant.  He might take a strong interest in me, and it was not likely
to go farther.  I therefore told him everything connected with my birth
and parentage, what my suspicions had been, and how the letter had
confirmed them.  I unsewed the seal-skin, and gave him the letter to
read--without being aware that he could read: he took it and read it
aloud.

"Yes," said he, "that's proof under his own hand; and now, Cato, never
be afraid of me, for, however I may wreak my vengeance upon others, I
swear _by my colour_ that I never will hurt you, or permit others to do
so.  I am a tiger--I know it; but you have often seen a little spaniel
caressed by the tiger, whose fangs are turned against every other living
thing.  You are quite safe."

"I feel I am, since you say so," replied I; "and since I am to be your
pet, I shall take liberties, and ask you, in return, to tell me your
history."

"I am glad that you have asked it, as I wish you to know it.  I will
begin at once--

"I was born in America, in the state of Pennsylvania, of free parents.
My father was a sail-maker, and was worth money; bet a free black in
America is even worse treated and more despised than a slave.  I had two
brothers, who went to school with me.

"My father intended to bring me up for the Church.  You look astonished;
but in the States we have clergymen of our colour, as well as white
ones; looked down upon and despised, I grant, although they do teach the
Word of God; but I was very unfit for that profession, as you may
suppose.  I was very proud and haughty; I felt that I was as good as a
white man, and I very often got into scrapes from my resenting injuries.

"However, my education went on successfully, much more so than that of
my brothers, who could not learn.  I could, and learnt rapidly but I
learnt to hate and detest white men, and more especially Americans; I
brooded over the injuries of people of colour, as we were called, and
all my father's advice and entreaty could not persuade me to keep my
thoughts to myself.  As I grew up to manhood, I spoke boldly, and more
than once nearly lost my life for so doing; for most Americans think no
more of taking the life of one like me than of a dog in the street.
More than one knife has been directed to my heart, and more than once
was I then up before the judge, and sentenced to imprisonment for no
fault; my evidence, and the evidence of those of my colour, not being
permitted to be received in a court of justice.  Any white villain had
only to swear falsely--and there is no want of that class in America--
and there was no appeal.  At last I was sentenced to be whipped; then my
blood boiled, and I vowed a vengeance which I have fearfully adhered
to."

"I do not wonder at that," said I; "I would have done the same."

"The man who had sworn falsely against me in this last instance had come
up from the South; I obtained what money I could from my father, and
went away in pursuit of him.  I found him--dogged him, and one evening I
accosted him, and plunged my bowie-knife into his heart.  I fled that
State, and crossed the Mississippi.

"I had not been long in Arkansas before a man--a cotton-grower, who
owned about a hundred and fifty slaves--inquired who I was, and whether
I had a pass; I replied that I was a free man, born in Pennsylvania, and
was there on my own affairs.  The next day I was taken up, brought
before the magistrate, and this scoundrel swore that I was his slave,
and had absconded from him ten years before.

"My defence--the proof which I offered to bring, was not listened to.  I
was made over to him, and the rascal grinned as the constables brought
me away with him.  His plantation was at the Red River.  It was
difficult to escape and indeed, almost useless to attempt it: but the
fact was, that I did not wish to do so; I remained to have my revenge.
I tried to make the other slaves rise against him, but they were too
cowed; they even informed against me, and I was tied down, and flogged
by the drivers until the flesh fell from my shoulders.

"As soon as I recovered, I determined to do--or die.  I heard that there
were some pirate vessels in the Barataria lagoons on the other side of
New Orleans; I resolved to join the crews, but first to have my revenge.
I did so: I set fire to the plantation house--struck the scoundrel who
had made me a slave senseless as he attempted to escape, and threw his
body into the flames; I then made the door fast, and fled.  I was met by
one of the overseers, who was armed, and who would have stopped me: I
beat his brains out with his own musket, and then gained the woods.  You
see that I am powerful; you hardly know how much so.  After several
days' travelling, I arrived at the lagoons.  I found this very vessel at
anchor.  I offered myself, and they accepted me immediately.

"There were several of my colour on board--runaway slaves--and all good
determined men.  These were the people I required, for they understood
me.  Even on board of a pirate vessel, the same contempt was shown
towards us--still considered as inferior beings.  All the heavy work all
the dirty work, was for the negro race; and we often worked like slaves,
while the captain and the rest of the crew caroused.  I was three years
on board of this vessel.  Our rendezvous where we are going to now, is a
small land-locked bay on the island of Cuba.  No vessel in it can be
seen from seaward, and there is but one narrow pass by which it
communicates with the interior, and it is far from any habitation.  A
better retreat for a pirate vessel could not well be found.  We used
very often to go in to refit, and take in provisions and water; for in a
cave there, we keep the provisions which we take from other vessels.

"In a desperate fight which we had with an English man-of-war brig, we
lost nearly forty of our men.  The captain, Chico, as he was called, was
obliged to fill up with black men, until he could procure others.  The
consequence was, that with the ten before on board, there were fifty
blacks to seventy whites.  It was then that I made up my mind that I
would retaliate for all that my race had suffered.  I was sure of the
ten with whom I had sailed so long; I sounded the others, and found them
all willing.

"We sailed from the Mexican Gulf, and made for the Rendezvous Bay, in
Cuba.  As soon as we arrived, of course, as with all pirate vessels, the
first day was dedicated to revelling and intoxication--that is, by the
white portion of the crew.  We negroes were employed in getting the
casks ashore for water.  That very night, when they all lay asleep and
drunk, we put every soul of them to death, and the Stella belonged to me
and my brave black who chose me for their captain, and swore by their
wrongs eternal enmity to the European race.

"As you may suppose, I was short-manned; but we soon found plenty of
men, and have now as fine a crew as ever trod a deck."

"How long is it since you took possession of the vessel?"

"About eight or nine months, during which time I have spared none except
you.  The usual death is drowning; but if I fall in with a slaver,
then--you know what took place yesterday."

I was silent for a time.  "I do not wonder," said I, at last, "at your
hatred of the whites, especially of the Americans.  As for your wreaking
your vengeance upon those employed in the slave trade, dreadful as it
is, I scarcely pity them; but in your general warfare against the
whites, recollect that you may murder those who are your friends, and
who have done all they can to put an end to slavery.  Even in America,
there are many who are opposed to it."

"It is impossible to make a distinction," replied the negro.

"What is your name?" said I, musing.

"Why do you ask?  You may as well know; I wish it to be known: it is
James Vincent."

"But tell me, if you were to meet with a very superior force, what would
you do?"

"Run if I could; if not, fight."

"But you might be captured, and then--"

"Never, boy; never."

"Well," said I, "as you have begun by sparing me, I hope you will spare
others now."

"I don't know why I spared you.  Had you shown any fear of death I
should not have done so; but I felt that you would not care about it.  I
believe it was that."

About ten days after, we made the east end of the island of Cuba, and
ran into the Bay of Rendezvous, as it was named by the pirate.  It was
very small, but completely land-locked, and the land so high on every
side that the masts of the vessel could not be seen from the seaward.
The bay on the land side was met by a deep, narrow ravine, between
mountains which were almost perpendicular, the ravine itself being
accessible from the main land by only one narrow path known to the
pirates, and which they seldom made use of, except when a spy was sent
to the Havannah to ascertain what vessels were about to sail.

On the high land which shut in the bay from the sea, the pirates had a
man constantly on the look-out, to report any vessel which might be in
the offing, and Vincent himself passed much of his time there, as the
breeze was fresh and the air cool to what it was down in the land-locked
bay.  I was, for the same reason, very fond of being on the look-out
hill, and generally followed up the captain when he went out there.  He
certainly now showed a strong affection for me, and I liked him better
than I ever thought I could have done.  He was constantly telling me of
the treatment he and the other poor blacks had received in America, and
I could not help feeling my blood boil, and a conviction that, had I
been so treated, I should probably have been equally under the influence
of revenge.  It is the world, and the treatment we receive from it,
which makes us chiefly what we are.

One day the captain told me he was going that evening to obtain
information, as the spy he had sent had returned unsuccessful, and that
he should be absent for three or four days.

Although I was not discontented with my position, still, as the reader
may well suppose, I had a strong wish to be out of it as soon as
possible, and I had determined to escape if I could; it immediately
occurred to me, that his absence would give me the opportunity.

I replied with a laugh, "Had you not better take me with you?"

"Very likely, indeed, you would be so very useful; I shall have quite
enough to do to take care of myself; besides, you might betray me,"
added he, with a fierce and penetrating look.

"Thank you, for your good opinion," replied I, indignantly.  "So you
think, because you have saved my life, that I would take yours.  I am
not yet such a rascal, whatever I may become by keeping bad company."

"Well, well," replied the negro captain, "I believe I am wrong, so don't
get into a passion; but, at all events, you must see that it is
impossible I can take you with me."

"If you don't choose, I can't help it," said I; "but I don't like
remaining here without you; I shall run away if I can, so I give you
fair warning."

"You won't find that quite so easy," replied he, laughing; "and I
recommend you not to attempt it."

Here the conversation dropped.  About midnight the captain commenced his
ascent of the ravine, and I resolved that I would not lose the
opportunity, if it offered, of following him.  I watched him as long as
I could see him, that I might know the direction of the secret path, and
then I joined the crew, who were lying down by the tents which they had
pitched on the shore.  Shortly afterwards, the Spanish Indian, who had
coloured me, passed by me, and, as I intended to make the attempt before
it was quite dark, I thought that I would remove any suspicion, and I
therefore requested him to stain me again.  This he consented to do, and
in half an hour I was again naked among the negroes and undergoing the
operation.  Having received the two applications, as before, I then
quitted them.

As soon as it was quite dark, I armed myself with a pair of pistols, and
crawled underneath the back of the captain's tent, in which I always
slept, and, without being perceived, gained the narrow path in the
brushwood by which the captain had left.

I continued in the path for some time, by feeling the brushwood on
either side; but before I had crawled half way up the ravine, I found
that the brushwood had not been cut away any farther and I was at a loss
how to proceed.  All traces were gone, and all I had to do was to climb
up to the summit, and to take my chance of finding any egress.  I toiled
on with difficulty, sometimes stopped by a rock which would take me
minutes to climb over at others, holding on by the brushwood for my
life.  By twelve o'clock I had gained more than two-thirds of the
ascent, and then the moon rose, and assisted me with her light.  I must
say, that when I looked up and saw the rocks towering above me, and
overhanging my path, I felt that escape was nearly impossible: however,
I recommenced my labour, and gained some ground, when, as I was clinging
to the side of a rock by a small shrub, it gave way, and I rolled and
fell down many feet, between that rock and another opposite to it.

I was not much hurt, and I regained my legs.  Looking up and about me, I
found that I was in a narrow passage, between the rocks, leading both up
and down--in fact, I had tumbled into the secret path that I had been in
search of.  Delighted with this discovery, I now set off with great
spirit, and in half an hour found myself on the other side of the lull
which formed the ravine, and looking down upon an expanse of country in
the interior.  Being very tired, I sat down, that I might recover my
strength before I continued my journey.

"I am free at last," thought I, and my memory wandered back to my mother
my ship, and my captain--old Culpepper, Tommy Dott, and Bob Cross.  "I
shall see them all," I thought, "and what a story I shall have to tell."
As soon as I had rested myself and recovered my breath, I thought I
might as well start.

I had not proceeded more than a hundred yards before I thought heard a
noise, as if some one was approaching.  I listened--I felt sure that
such was the case, and I also heard the deep baying of a hound.  The
noise increased rapidly--it was that of one forcing his way through the
brushwood, which covered the side of the hill.

In a minute afterwards I perceived a man coming up the hill at a swift
pace, directly towards me.  As he approached I could almost swear that
it was Vincent, the negro captain; but when within ten yards of me, I
perceived, him turn round and flourish his sabre in the air, while, at
the same time, three large bloodhounds sprang at him.  One fell by the
blow of his sabre, but the other two flew at his throat, and fastened on
him, tearing him to the around, and holding him in spite of all his
struggling and his immense strength.

I recollected my pistols: I cocked them, ran up, and putting one to the
head of the nearest dog, blew out its brains.  I was equally successful
with the other--they both lay dead by his side, and Vincent was
released.  He started up.

"It is me, Cato," said I.

"Cato!" replied he; "but there is not a moment to be lost.  I understand
it all."

He seized me by the arm, and dragged me with him to the narrow entrance
of the pass, and as soon as we came in he rolled three large rocks,
which had evidently been used for such purpose before, so as completely
to block up the entrance.

"There," said he, leaning back quite exhausted; "be quiet, Cato.  We are
safe now; they will be on the top of the hill directly."

We remained where we were about ten minutes, when we heard voices not
very far from us.  They were the pursuers of the negro captain who were
evidently baffled.  After a time the sounds receded from us, and we
heard them no more.  Vincent then spoke:--

"You were escaping, Cato."

"I had escaped," replied I: "I told you that I would."

"Strange that you should have discovered the path; did any one betray it
to you?"

"No one," replied I: and I then told him how I had fallen into it.

"Well you have returned all obligations, and more than ever you owed
me," said he: "you have saved my life this time, and that when all
chance was over."

"Then," replied I, "although I shall be very sorry to part with you,
give me that liberty which I had gained, and which I lost in defending
you from the dogs."

"I would have let you go then, Cato," replied he, "but your life would
have been sacrificed.  My pursuers would have hurried you to prison
before you could have explained who you were.  You forget your colour is
changed; they were not seeking me, but a runaway slave, and the
bloodhounds came upon my track.  Those white men show no mercy; they
have more pleasure in seeing a runaway slave torn to pieces by those
dogs than in recovering possession of him.  It is a sort of fox-chase to
them," continued he, grating his teeth after he had said so.  "Cato, I
will give you your liberty, if you wish it, and I know you do wish it,
as soon as I can with any prudence; that I promise you, and you know
that I will keep my word."

"I am quite satisfied," replied I.

"And do you promise me that you will not attempt to escape a second
time?"

"I promise you that I will not," replied I.

"Enough," said Vincent.  "Now let us go down the hill, for I am very
much torn by those infernal brutes, and must have the wounds washed and
attended to."

We descended the hill, in silence, and in a quarter of an hour had
gained the tent.  Vincent was severely bitten and torn: as soon as his
wounds had been dressed he lay down on his mat, and I did the same.

It was some days before Vincent recovered from the severe injuries which
he had received from the bloodhounds; and he did not appear to be
inclined to run any more risks of that sort.  Although he said little, I
could perceive that he was brooding over future vengeance and he was now
nearly the whole of the day with his glass on the look-out hill.

One morning a schooner hove in sight, steering from the Havannah to the
southward and eastward, either for the islands of the Spanish Main.  The
Stella had for many days been ready for instant sailing, and having
watched her till near sunset, Vincent sent down orders for every soul to
be on board, and the anchor hove up.  Just as it was dark we towed out
of the bay, and made all sail.

At daylight the schooner was but a few miles ahead of us and not being a
fast sailer, in little more than an flour we were alongside of her.  She
proved to be bound to the island of Curacao, being the property of an
old Dutch gentleman, who was on board with his daughter, a little girl
about seven years old.  The crew consisted chiefly of negroes, slaves to
the owner; the master of the vessel and the mate being, with the
exception of the old gentleman and the little girl, the only white
people on board.

As usual, the crew were brought on board by the pirates, who reported to
the captain that the vessel was in ballast, and of no value.  As the
crew of the Stella were already more than requisite, Vincent did not
require the negroes; he told them that they might go on board the
schooner again, and take her into any port they pleased; with the white
people, however it was another affair.

I had remained below, not wishing to witness a scene of butchery; but I
was induced to look up the ladder, in consequence of Jose telling me
that there was a little white girl come on board.  At the time that I
did so, Vincent had just done speaking with the negroes belonging to the
captured vessel; they had fallen back, and there was then standing
before Vincent, the master and mate of the vessel, the old Dutch
gentleman, and the little girl.

A more interesting child I never had seen, and my heart bled at the idea
of her being sacrificed.  I could not help hoping that Vincent would
have a similar feeling, but I was mistaken.  The master and mate were
pointed at, and immediately seized by negroes and tossed over into the
sea.  The old gentleman bowed his head over the beautiful child, and she
knelt to him, as if for his blessing before she died.  At that very
moment Vincent gave the sign--I could remain quiet to longer--I sprang
on the deck.

"Stop!" cried I to the men who were about to seize the old
gentleman--"stop!"  The negroes did fall back at my voice.

"What is this?" cried Vincent.

"Captain Vincent," cried I, "do you call yourself a man, to war with
children and old grey-headed men?  You must not, shall not, touch these
two.  You have wreaked your vengeance upon the white men; be content--
let these go."

"Cato," replied Vincent, fiercely, "it is well that it is you that have
dared to snatch the prey from the fangs of the wild beast.  Had it been
another, this pistol should have sent a ball whizzing through his brain;
as it is, go down below immediately."

"I do not fear your pistol, Captain Vincent, nor will I go below; that
very pistol, in my hand, saved you from the fangs of the blood-hound.  I
tell you, therefore, that you must not destroy that innocent child--if
you love me, you must not; for I will hate, detest, and scorn you ever
afterwards.  I entreat you--I implore you to let them go: they are not
fit objects for your vengeance; and if you destroy them, I tell you, you
are a coward."

"What!" roared the tiger, "a coward!" and, no longer able to contain
himself he levelled his pistol at me and drew the trigger.  It missed
fire; Vincent looked very confused--he tossed the pistol on deck, folded
his arms and turned his face away.

There was a dead silence.  The negro crew looked first at me and then at
the captain, as if awaiting orders, and uncertain of the issue.  The
Dutch gentleman seemed to be so lost in surprise, as to almost forget
his impending fate; while the little girl clung to him and stared at me
with her deep blue eyes.  It was what on the theatres they would call a
tableau.

I followed up my advantage.  Stepping forward, and placing myself before
the old man and the child, I first broke the silence.

"Captain Vincent," said I, "you did once promise me that you would never
injure me or attempt my life; that promise you have broken.  Since that,
you have made me another promise--you may recollect it--which was, that
you would allow me to leave you on the first favourable opportunity;
there cannot be any opportunity more favourable than the present.  The
negroes whom you are to send back to the schooner do not know how to
navigate her.  I request, therefore, to know whether you intend to keep
this second promise, or to break it as you have the first?  I ask my
liberty."

"If I broke my promise just now, it was your fault," replied Vincent,
coolly.  "I am sorry for it, and I can say no more; I intended to keep
it, and, to prove so, I now keep my second--you may go."

"I thank you for that.  I only wish that, now I leave you, I could leave
you with feelings of good-will and not of--I must say it--of horror and
disgust.  Captain Vincent, once more let me beg, as a last favour, that
you will spare these poor people."

"Since you are so particularly interested about this useless old man and
still more useless child," replied Vincent, sarcastically, "I will now
make a proposal to you.  You have your liberty.  Do you choose to give
it up and remain here, provided I let them go away in the schooner?
Come now--take your choice; for I swear by my colour, that if you go
away in the schooner, the moment you shove off, they shall go over the
gunwale."

"My choice is then made," replied I; for I knew that when he swore by
his colour he was in earnest: "release them, and I will remain here."  I
little knew what I was to undergo in consequence of this decision.

"Be it so," said Vincent: then turning to one of the mates, "let them go
back with the negroes; hoist the boat up when she returns, and sail for
the Rendezvous."  So saying, he went down into the cabin.

"You are saved," said I, going up to the old Dutch gentleman; "lose no
time; get into the boat as fast as possible, and make sail on your
vessel as soon as you get on board.  Good bye, little girl," said I,
taking her hand.

"I thank you," replied the gentleman in good English--"I cannot say how
much; I am so surprised at what I have seen but recollect the name of
Vanderwelt, of Curacao; and if ever we meet again, you will find me
grateful."

"I will; but ask no more questions now--into the boat--quick," said I,
shaking his proffered hand.  They were handed down into the boat by the
negroes.

I remained on deck until they were put on board; the boat returned, was
hoisted up, the schooner made sail again, and then I went down into the
cabin.  I found the negro captain stretched upon the sofa, his face
covered up with both his hands; he remained in the same position, taking
no notice of my coming down.  Although my confidence in him was
destroyed after his snapping the pistol at me, yet when I reflected how
I had bearded him in his rage, I did make some excuse for him; moreover,
I knew that it was my interest to be on the best terms with him, and, if
possible, make him forget what had passed, for I felt that his proud
spirit would make it difficult for him to forgive himself for having
been induced by his passion to break an oath which he had sworn to by
his colour; I therefore, after a little reflection, went up to him and
said--

"I am sorry that I made you so angry, Captain Vincent; you must forgive
me, but I thought that deed beneath you, and I could not bear to have a
bad opinion of you."

"Do you mean to assert that you have not a bad opinion of me now?"
replied he, fixing his eyes upon me.

"No, certainly not; you have released those I pleaded for, and I am very
grateful to you for having done so."

"You have made me do what I never did before," replied he, raising
himself and sitting with his feet on the deck.

"I know I have; I have made you spare those of my colour."

"I did not mean that; you have irritated me so as to make me break my
oath."

"That was my own doing--my fault rather than yours.  I had no right to
speak as I did; but I was in a great rage, and that is the truth.  I do
believe that, if I had had a pistol in my hand, I should have fired it
at you; so we may cry quits on that score."

"I am angry with myself--the more so, that I little imagined that you
would have remained with me after my breaking my oath.  Either you must
have felt great interest about those people, or you must have great
confidence in me, a confidence winch I have proved that I do not
deserve."

"That you did forget yourself, I grant; but I have that confidence that
it will be a warning to you, and you will not forget yourself again; I
therefore remain with you with perfect confidence, feeling I am quite
safe, until you think proper to give me my liberty."

"You will wish to leave me then?"

"I have relations and friends--a profession to follow.  What can I gain
by remaining here, except your friendship?  I never will be a pirate,
you may be assured, I wish from my heart that you were not one."

"And who should be pirates if the blacks are not?" replied Vincent.
"Have they not the curse of Cain?  Are they not branded?  Ought not
their hands to be against every one but their own race?  What is the
Arab but the pirate of the desert--the sea of sand?  Black is the colour
for pirates.  Even the white pirates feel the truth of this, or why do
they hoist the _black_ flag?"

"At all events, it's a profession that seldom ends well."

"And what matter does that make?  We can die but once--I care not how
soon.  I have not found life so very sweet as to care for it, I assure
you.  Cato, there is but one thing sweet in existence--one feeling that
never clogs and never tires, and that is revenge."

"Are not love and friendship sweet?  I certainly know nothing about the
first."

"I know no more than you do of it.  They say friendship is the more
lasting; and as a proof of how lasting that is I snapped my pistol at
you, and, had it not missed fire, should have killed the only one for
whom I ever felt friendship in this world."

"That's a bad habit you have of carrying your pistols at all times; they
are too handy, and give no time or reflection.  Only suppose, now, you
had blown out my brains, you would have been very sorry."

"Cato, I have many lives on my hands, and hope to have many more before
I die.  I never have repented one act of my life--a murder, as you may
call it--and I never shall.  But I tell you frankly, that had I
destroyed you in my passion I should have been a miserable man.  I know
it; I feel it."

"Let's say no more about it: that I'm just as glad as you are that you
did not kill me, I assure you most positively.  Here's Jose coming with
the dinner."

Here ended our conversation, which I have given just to show the
peculiar disposition of this extraordinary man, with whom I had become
domesticated.  Verily and truly was I, as he said, "like a little dog in
the cage of a tiger," and, from familiarity: just as bold as dogs become
under such peculiar circumstances.

Before morning we were again at anchor in the Rendezvous Bay, and the
tents were pitched as before.  We remained there for more than a
fortnight, during which my intimacy with the captain was even greater
than before.  He appeared to endeavour to do all in his power to restore
my confidence in him, and he succeeded.  Still, I must say, that I began
to be weary of this sort of life.  My dreams were ever of murder and
bloodshed; and more than once I felt inclined to make my escape: but I
had promised, and the remembrance of my promise prevented me.

One afternoon the man on the look-out made the usual signal for a vessel
in sight.  Vincent went up immediately, and I followed him.  It was a
schooner, very long, with very taut, raking masts.  Vincent examined her
for some time, and then gave me the glass, and asked me what I thought
of her.  I replied, that I thought she was a man-of-war schooner.

"You are right," said he, "I know her well; it is the Arrow, and she has
come out to cruise for me.  This is the third time that she has been
sent after me.  Once we exchanged a few broadsides, but another
man-of-war hove in sight, and I was compelled to leave her.  She shall
not accuse me of running from her, now that she is alone, and by
to-morrow morning I will give her the opportunity of making the report
of my capture if she can; but if I capture her, you may guess the rest."

We remained till nearly sunset watching the motions of the schooner.
Vincent then went down the hill to give orders for sailing, leaving me
with the glass.  I again directed it to the schooner, and perceived that
she was making signals.

Then she is not alone, thought I; and Vincent may not capture her quite
so easily as he expects.  I looked in vain for the other vessel; I could
not see her; I therefore concluded that she must be somewhere under the
land, and hidden by it from my sight.

The signals were repeated till dusk when I went down the hill, and found
that all was bustle and activity, Vincent superintending himself the
preparations for sailing.  I did not interrupt him to tell him that I
had perceived the schooner making signals.  I had an idea, somehow or
another, that I should regain my liberty, and was as anxious as Vincent
that the Stella should be under weigh.

Before ten o'clock everything was ready.  Vincent had told his men that
the English man-of-war schooner was outside, and that he intended to
fight her; the men appeared delighted at the proposal, and as resolute
and determined as men should be.

As soon as the Stella was clear of the bay, everything was got ready for
action, and I must say that nothing could be more rapid or more quiet
than their movements.  We stood out until we had gained an offing of
five miles, and then made a reach along the shore towards the Havannah.

As soon as the Stella had laid her head towards the Havannah, Vincent
came down below.  I had latterly slept on one of the cabin sofas, but
had this night remained with my clothes on, for I was not sure that we
might not be in action before the morning.

The Arrow had gained the knowledge that our Rendezvous Bay was somewhere
about the east end of the island, and had cruised accordingly, but could
not discover it.

Vincent threw himself on the other sofa, and I pretended to asleep; as I
did not wish to enter into conversation with him was too much occupied
with my own thoughts, and felt that there would be nothing in common
between us at such a moment.  He was very soon asleep, and he talked in
his sleep.  He was evidently in action, and gave his orders, every now
and then speaking a few words aloud, and then it appeared as if he had
taken the English schooner, and that he was fulfilling his vows of
retaliation.  I shuddered as I heard the half-broken menaces--the
exulting laugh which occasionally burst from his lips.  I arose and
watched him as he slept; his hands were continually in motion, and his
fists clenched, and he smiled.  Merciful Heaven! what a tale of savage
cruelty that smile foretold if he were successful!  I knelt down and
prayed that he might be foiled in his endeavours.  As I rose I heard a
noise and talking on deck, and one of the mates came down in the cabin.

"How does she bear?" cried Vincent, starting up from his couch, as if he
instinctively knew what was to be told.

"Two points on the weather bow, captain," replied the negro.  "I think
she has her foresheet to windward."

"What's the time?"

"One bell in the morning watch; it will be daylight in an hour."

"Very good.  How far is she off?"

"About four miles."

"Pipe to quarters; I will be up directly."

Vincent took down his sword and buckled on his belt; then his pistols,
which after having examined the primings, he fixed in his girdle.  I
still remained as if asleep, and as he was going out of the cabin, he
turned to me.  "He sleeps, poor boy; well, why should I wake him?--the
guns will rouse him up soon enough."  So saying, he went on deck.

I considered what I should do.  To be on deck was hardly safe for me as
a white person; and, indeed, what business had I there?  Why should I
expose myself to the shot of my countrymen, or run the risk of losing my
life from the rage of the negroes?  I therefore resolved on remaining
where I was--at all events, for the present.

The negroes now came into the cabin, for the after-magazine was under
the forepart of it.  The hatch was taken up, the screens let down, and
all was dark.  I had nothing to do but to catch now and then the
commands given by the negro captain, and draw my inference as to what
was taking place.

Although for the first half-hour I gained little information, after that
time had elapsed I knew what was going on.  I heard a voice hailing us
from another vessel, and the reply of the Stella was a broadside.  There
could be no mistake in that.  The Stella was then put about, and the
other broadside given without a return from her opponent.  At last it
came, and as the shot whizzed over or tore up the planking of the
gunwales, I certainly did feel very strangely.  I had never been in
action before, and the sensation was, I confess, that of alarm; but it
was so mingled with curiosity as to what was going on, that it was
impossible to say what my feelings were.  I longed to be on deck, and
certainly would have been, if I had thought that I was safe with the
pirate crew: that alone prevented me; I remained, therefore, in a most
unpleasant state of ignorance and suspense.

The broadsides were now exchanged rapidly and the wounded, brought down
between decks every minute, told me that the action was severe.  The
orders of the negro captain were occasionally heard--they were cool and
determined.  Every minute some fresh manoeuvre was executed, and the
guns still worked as if there was nothing else to attend to.  At last,
the daylight came down the hatchway, and I left the cabin and walked
forward between decks; I found the deck strewed with wounded and dying
men, calling for water.  I was glad to be able to do something which I
could consistently do, and I brought water from the cask and gave it to
them, one after another, as fast as I could; I think there were at least
thirty men lying about the lower deck, some in pools of their own blood,
and sinking fast, for there was no surgeon on board of the Stella.

Some more wounded men were brought down, and a conversation took place
between one of the mates of the schooner, who was hurt, and the men who
brought down the wounded, and listening to them, I found that at
daylight they had discovered that an English frigate was under all sail,
beating up to them, and about five miles to leeward; that in
consequence, the Stella was now carrying on a running fight with the
schooner (who was to windward of her), and trying to escape.  This
accounted for the signals which I had perceived that the English
schooner was making the evening before.  My anxiety at this intelligence
was naturally much increased.  The Stella was trying to escape, and her
sailing powers were so remarkable, that I was afraid she would succeed.

The action was still continued between the two schooners, but now the
shot no longer hit the Stella, nor were there any more wounded men
brought down; it was evident that the two vessels were now firing at
each other's masts and rigging, the one to prevent, and the other to
effect her escape, by dismantling her antagonist.  I felt as if I could
have given my left hand to have gone on deck.  I waited half an hour
more, and then, curiosity conquering my fear, I crept gradually up the
fore ladder.  The men were working the guns to windward, the lee-side of
the deck was clear, and I stepped forward, and got into the head, where
I could see both to windward and to leeward.  To leeward I perceived the
frigate about four miles distant with every stretch of canvass that she
could set on a wind; I knew her directly to be the Calliope, my own
ship, and my heart beat quick at the chance of being once more on board
of her.

To windward, as the smoke occasionally cleared away, I saw the Arrow
schooner close hauled on the same tack as the Stella, and distant about
a mile, every ten seconds the smoke from her guns booming along the
water's surface, and the shot whizzing through our rigging; she had not
suffered much from our fire: her sails were full of shot-holes, it is
true, but her spars were not injured.  I then turned my eyes upon the
masts and rigging of the Stella: apparently, the damage done was about
equal to that received by the Arrow; our sails were torn, but our spars
were unscathed.

The water was smooth, although the breeze was fresh, and both schooners
were running at the rate of six or seven miles an hour; but the Stella
had evidently the advantage of sailing, and fore-reached upon her
opponent.  I perceived that everything depended upon a lucky hit and
having satisfied myself with what I had seen, I hastened down below.

For more than half an hour the firing continued without advantage on
either side, when a yell was given by the negro crew, and I heard them
cry on the deck that the Arrow's foretop-mast was shot away.  I heard
the voice of Vincent cheering his men, and telling them to be steady in
their aim.  My heart sunk at the intelligence, and I sat down on a
chest.

The firing now slackened, for the Stella had shot ahead of the English
schooner, and the negroes on deck were laughing and in high good-humour.
For a few minutes the firing ceased altogether, and I took it for
granted that the Stella had left her pursuers far behind; when of a
sudden, a whole broadside of guns were poured into us, and there was a
terrible crashing and confusion on the deck.

I ran up the ladder to see what had happened.  It appeared that as the
Stella was crossing the bows of the Arrow, the latter had, as a last
chance thrown up in the wind, and discharged her whole broadside into
us: two shots had struck our mainmast, which had fallen by the board.  I
perceived at once that the Stella's chance was over--nothing could save
her; she might resist the schooner but could not escape the frigate.

I ran down below, and went into the cabin; I was afraid that the negroes
might perceive the joy in my countenance.  I heard the angry voice of
the negro captain--I heard him stamping with rage, and I thanked God
that I was not by his side.  The wreck of the mast was soon cleared
away; I heard him address his negroes, point out to them that it was
better to die like men at the guns, than swing at the yard-arm like
dogs.  Some of them came down and took on deck a quarter-cask of
spirits, which was plentifully supplied to all.

The English schooner had borne down upon us, and the action now
commenced at pistol-shot.  Never shall I forget what took place for
nearly three-quarters of an hour; the negroes, most of them intoxicated,
fought with rage and fury indescribable--their shouts--their screams--
their cursing and blasphemy, mingled with the loud report of the guns,
the crashing of the spars and bulwarks, the occasional cry of the
wounded, and the powerful voice of Vincent.  It was terrific between
decks; the smoke was so thick, that those who came down for the powder
could not see, but felt their way to the screen.  Every two seconds, I
heard the men come aft, toss off the can of liquor, and throw it on the
deck, hen they went to resume their labour at their guns.

At the end of the time I have mentioned, the shot flew from to leeward,
as well as from to windward: the frigate had got within range, and was
pouring in her broadside; still the firing and the shouting on the deck
of the Stella continued, but the voices were fewer; and as the firing of
the frigate became more severe, they became fainter and fainter; and at
last but an occasional gun was fired from our decks.

I became so uneasy, that I could remain where I was no longer; I went
forward on the lower deck again, and tumbling over the wounded and the
dead, I crept up the fore-ladder.  I looked over the coamings of the
hatchway; the decks were clear of smoke, for not a gun was being fired.
Merciful Heaven! what a scene of slaughter!  Many of the guns were
dismantled, and the decks were strewed with the splinters and plankings
of the gunwale, broken spars, and negroes lying dead, or drunk, in all
directions--some cut and torn to pieces, others whole, but mixed up with
the fragments of other bodies: such a scene of blood I have never since
witnessed.  Out of the whole crew, I do not think there were twenty men
left unhurt, and these were leaning or lying down, exhausted with
fatigue or overcome with liquor, on various parts of the deck.

The fighting was over; there was not one man at his gun--and of those
who remained still alive, one or two fell, while I was looking up from
the shot, which continued every minute to pierce the bulwarks.  Where
was Vincent?  I dare not go aft to see.  I dare not venture to meet his
eye.  I dived down below again, and I returned aft to the cabin; there
was no more demand for powder; not a soul was to be seen abaft.
Suddenly the after-hatchway grating was thrown off; I heard some one
descend; I knew it was the hurried tread of the negro captain.  It was
so dark, and the cabin so full of smoke, that, coming from the light, he
did not perceive me, although I could distinguish him.  He was evidently
badly wounded, and tottered in his walk: he came into the cabin, put his
hand to his girdle, and felt for his pistol, and then he commenced
pulling down the screen, which was between him and the magazine.  His
intentions were evident; which were to blow up the vessel.

I felt that I had not a moment to lose.  I dashed past him, ran up the
ladder, sprung aft to the taffrail, and dashed over the stern into the
sea.  I was still beneath the surface, having not yet risen from my
plunge, when I heard and felt the explosion--felt it, indeed, so
powerfully, that it almost took away my senses; so great was the shock,
even when I was under the water, that I was almost insensible.  I have a
faint recollection of being drawn down by the vortex of the sinking
vessel, and scrambling my way to the surface of the water, amidst
fragments of timbers and whirling bodies.  When I recovered myself, I
found that I was clinging to a portion of the wreck, in a sort of patch,
as it were, upon the deep blue water, dark as ink, and strewed with
splintered fragments.

There I remained some minutes, during which time I gained my
recollection: I looked around and perceived the Arrow schooner, lying
about one hundred yards off, totally dismantled, and my own frigate
about a quarter of a mile to leeward, as bright and as fresh as if she
had just been refitted.  I observed a signal, made by the Calliope to
the schooner, which was answered.  I looked in vain towards the
schooner, expecting her to lower down a boat.  The fact was, that the
Calliope had made the signal for her to do so, and the schooner had
replied that she had no boat that could swim.  I then perceived that the
frigate had lowered down a boat which was pulling towards me, and I
considered myself as safe.

In a few minutes, during which I had quite recovered myself, the boat
pulled into the mass of floating fragments, and then the sailors ceased
rowing to look about them.  They perceived and pulled towards me--
hoisted me in over the gunwale, and laid me at the bottom of the boat.
I scrambled on my feet, and would have gone _aft_, when the midshipman
of the boat said to the men, "Pass that cursed young pirate forward--
don't let him come aft here."

"Oh, oh, Mr Lascelles," thinks I--"so you don't know me; you shall know
me by-and-by."  I quite forgot that I was stained black, till one of the
men who seized me by the collar to pass me forward, said, "Hand along
the nigger.  He's a young one for the gallows, any how."

They handed me forward, and I did not choose to say who I was.  My love
of fun returned the moment that I was again with my shipmates.  After
looking well round and ascertaining that I was the only one left alive,
they pulled back to the frigate; and the midshipman went up to report.
I was handed up the side and remained at the break of the gangway, while
the captain and first lieutenant were talking with Mr Lascelles: during
which Mr Tommy Dott came up to me, and, putting his finger to his left
ear, gave a cluck with his tongue, as much as to say, "You'll be hanged,
my good fellow."

I could not help giving the first mason's sign which I taught to Mr
Green in return for Tommy's communication; to wit, putting my thumb to
my nose, and extending my finger out towards him; at which Tommy Dott
expressed much indignation, and called me a precious impudent varmin.
The men who were near us laughed, and said that I was game at all
events.  No one knew me; for not only was my face well stained, but I
was covered from head to foot with a solution of salt water and
gunpowder, which made me still more indistinguishable.

I had remained at the gangway about two minutes, when the first
lieutenant said, "Bring the prisoner here."

I immediately went aft; and as soon as I was standing before Captain
Delmar and the first lieutenant--(and behind were all the officers,
anxious to hear what I had to disclose)--I put my hand to my head,
having no hat, as may be supposed, and said, "_Come on board, sir_,"
reporting myself, as is usually the custom of officers when they return
from leave or duty.

"Good Heavens! that voice!--why, who are you?" cried Captain Delmar,
starting back a pace.

"Mr Keene, sir," replied I, again putting my hand to my head.

Bob Cross, who was, with many of the seamen, close to me, quite
forgetting etiquette, ran up and caught me round the waist, looking me
full in the face: "It is him, sir--it is him!  Huzzah! huzzah!" and all
the seamen joined in the huzzahs, which were, however, mingled with a
great deal of laughter.

"Merciful Heaven! and so you have been blown up in that vessel," said
the first lieutenant, coming to me, with great kindness.  "Are you much
burnt?  Why, he's quite black--where's the surgeon?"

"Aren't hurt at all, sir," replied I.

"Let him be taken down and examined," said the captain with some
emotion; "if not hurt, let him come into the cabin to me."

The captain went down the ladder, and then I shook hands with Tommy Dott
and all the other officers and midshipmen; and I will say that my
re-appearance appeared to give unusual satisfaction.  I went down into
the gun-room and was stripped.  They were much surprised to find that I
was not hurt, and even more when they discovered that I was black all
over, and that washing would not restore my colour.

"Why, Keene," said the first lieutenant, "how is it that you have
changed your colour?"

"Oh, sir, I've been playing the nigger for these last three months.  It
is a long story, but I will go with you to the captain, and I will tell
it there."

As soon as I had put on my uniform, I went up with Mr Hippesley to the
cabin, and having, at the captain's request, taken a chair, I entered
into a full explanation, which lasted more than an hour.

As soon as I had finished, Mr Hippesley who had plenty to do on deck,
but who could not leave until he had heard my story, quitted the cabin,
and I found myself alone with the captain.

"I must say that I gave you up for lost," said Captain Delmar; "the
boat's crew were picked up the next morning, and reported that you were
drowned in the cabin of the vessel.  Scoundrels, to desert you in that
way."

"I do not think they were to blame, sir; the water being so high in the
cabin, and my not answering to their call."

"But did they call you?"

"Yes, sir; I heard them call when I was half asleep, and I did not
answer."

"Well, I am glad to hear you say so; but so convinced have we been of
your loss, that I have written to your mother on the subject.  Strange,
this is the second time that she has been distressed in this way.  You
appear to have a charmed life, Mr Keene."

"I hope I shall long live to do credit to your protection, sir," replied
I.

"I hope so too, Mr Keene," replied the captain, very kindly; "I
sincerely hope so too.  In all this business you have conducted yourself
very manfully.  It does you great credit, and your mother ought to be
proud of you."

"Thanky, sir," replied I, for I was overjoyed at such language from
Captain Delmar, and I thought to myself, if he says my mother ought be
proud of me, he feels so himself.

"Of course, you cannot do duty under such a masquerade as you are at
present," continued the captain, who referred to my stained skin.  "I
presume it will wear off by-and-by.  You will dine with me to-day; now
you may go to your messmates."

I left the cabin, bowing very respectfully, and pleased with what had
occurred.  I hastened to join my messmates, not, however, until I had
shaken hands with Bob Cross, who appeared as delighted to see me as if
he was my father.

I leave the reader to imagine the sort of levee which I held both on the
quarter-deck and below.  Mr Hippesley could not get any of the officers
to mind their duty.  I certainly was for two or three days the greatest
personage in the ship.  After that, I had time to tell the whole of my
history quietly to Bob Cross.

Bob Cross, when he had heard me without interruption, said, "Well,
Master Keene, there's no telling what a man's born to till after he's
dead, and then it's all known: but it does appear to me that you are
born to something out of the common.  Here you are, not sixteen, not
only playing a man's part, but playing it manfully.  You have been put
in most difficult situations, and always have fallen upon your feet in
the end.  You appear to have an old head upon very young shoulders; at
one moment to be a scampish boy full of mischief, and at another a
resolute, cool, and clever man.  Sarcumstances, they say, make men, and
so it appears in you; but it does seem strange for one and the same lad
to be stealing the purser's plums at one moment, and twisting a devil of
a nigger pirate round his finger the very next; and then you have had
such escapes--twice reported dead at head-quarters, and twice come to
life again.  Now Master Keene, I've very good news to tell you: you
don't know how high you stand with the captain and officers: there's a
feeling of envy against a lad who goes ahead (as well as a man) which
blinds people to his real merits; but when he is supposed to be dead and
gone, and no longer in the way of others, then every one tells the real
truth; and I do assure you that not only the officers, but the captain
himself, grieved most sorely at your loss.  I saw the captain's eyes
wink more than once when speaking of you, and the first lieutenant was
always telling the other mids that he had not one worth his salt, now
that you were gone.  And now that you have come back and gained so much
credit for what has passed, I do really think that the captain is proud
of you.  I overheard a little conversation between the captain and first
lieutenant the day you came on board, after you had been in the cabin
telling your adventures, and all that I can say is, that the game is in
your own hands, if you only play your cards well, and never let Captain
Delmar have the least idea that you know that you have such claims upon
him."

"That I certainly will not," replied I, "as it might check his feeling
towards me."

"Exactly: I've often thought about you, and now that I like you so much,
I watch the captain for your sake, and listen particularly to what he
says after dinner especially, when I've the opportunity; for you see,
when gentlemen drink wine, they speak more freely as to what they really
think, just as we foremast-men do when we get our grog on board.  The
greatest misfortune which could happen to you in your position would be,
the captain marrying and having children on the right side of the
blanket as they call it.  Now I've often heard the captain express a
dislike to matrimony, and laugh at people's getting married, which has
pleased me very much for your sake, Master Percival.  You see, a man
don't think much of marrying after forty, and the captain must be fifty,
if not more."

"Yes: but if his brother dies--and he is a very infirm man--the captain
will then be Viscount de Versely, and inherit very large estates, and
then he will marry to have an heir to the title and estates even if
there is no love in the case."

"So he may," replied Cross--"there's no saying; but still, even if he
does, it ain't certain that he has a family; chickens must not be
counted before they are hatched.  All you have to pray for then is, that
the brother may prove as tough as our old admirals, whose senses get
tired of staying any longer in their bodies, and leave them long before
their hulks are worn out."

"Why do admirals live so long?"

"Well, I suppose it is for the same reason that salt meat keeps so much
longer than fresh; they have been forty or fifty years with the salt
spray washing in their faces and wetting their jackets, and so in time,
d'ye see, they become as it were pickled with brine.  Talking about
that, how long will it be before you get that tanning off you?"

"I don't know; but as the captain says I'm to do no duty while it lasts,
I hope it won't wear off too soon."

"Spoken like a midshipman: now take my advice, although not ordered to
your duty, come up on deck and take your spy-glass."

"I've lost it, unfortunately.  That was a good glass, for it saved my
life."

"Yes, it turned out as good for you as a Freemason's sign, which is more
than Mr Green can say.  I don't think he'll ever make a sailor--he'd
better bear up for clerk, and then he might do very well for a purser
by-and-by.  There's eight bells, Master Keene, so I think we had better
say good night."



CHAPTER TWENTY.

The Arrow schooner had suffered very severely in the contest, having
lost her commanding officer and thirteen men killed and wounded: indeed,
had not the Calliope been at hand, it was the general opinion that the
Stella would have overpowered her, notwithstanding that the latter had
lost her mainmast, for the Arrow was completely dismantled, and would
not have been able to have made sail.

The Calliope sent her carpenters and best seamen on board to repair her
damages, and the next day we stood away for Port Royal, Jamaica, to
announce the destruction of the pirate vessel.

In the morning Captain Delmar sent for me.

"Mr Keene, as you cannot do duty for the present, and as I do not wish
you to be idle, I think you had better pay a little attention to
navigation.  You send in your day's work, I perceive, but I suppose you
have never regularly gone through a course of study."

"No, sir," replied I; "I fudge my day's work, and I should be very glad
to learn navigation properly."

"So I presume.  Well, then, I have spoken with Mr Smith, the master,
who has promised me to give you the necessary instruction.  You will
commence to-morrow; you can sit at the table in the fore-cabin, where
you will have nothing to distract your attention.  You may go now."

I bowed and left the cabin, and meeting Bob Cross on the main deck, I
told him what the captain had said.

"I'm glad of it, Master Keene; it shows that the captain does now take a
strong interest in you.  He has never taken any trouble of that kind
with any midshipman before.  It will be of great service to you, so pay
attention; it will please the captain if the master gives a good report
of you.  Who knows but you may be sent away in a prize, and I sent with
you to take care of you?  Wouldn't that be a capital spree?"

The next day I commenced accordingly, under the tuition of the master,
and as I had not Tommy Dott to play with, I gave satisfaction, and
continued to do so until our arrival at Port Royal, when the captain
went up to the admiral's, stating all the particulars of the action,
and, by way of sequel, my adventures on board of the pirate vessel.  The
admiral was so much interested that he requested Captain Delmar to bring
me on shore to dine with me the next day.

I was still very black; but that made me, I presume more interesting.  I
told my story over again, and it afforded great amusement to the
company; particularly to the ladies; and I have reason to believe that
many compliments were paid me behind my back, by the admiral and
officers who dined there; at all events, Captain Delmar was much
pleased.

My strange history soon got wind.  The governor heard of it, and asked
Captain Delmar about it.  The consequence was, that I received another
invitation from the governor, and Captain Delmar again informed me that
I might tell my own story, which I did, modestly as before.  I say
modestly, for I never was a boaster at any time; and I really believe
that I thought much less of the circumstances than those did to whom I
narrated them.  I had at that time but one wish, which was to find
favour in the sight of Captain Delmar.  I felt that all my prospects in
life depended upon that; and aware of his disposition, and the deference
that he expected, humility had become, as it were, habitual.

During the time that we remained at Port Royal I continued my studies in
the cabin and as the captain remained almost altogether on shore, I
found the run of the cabin very pleasant; but as I had no inclination to
study the whole of the day, I was not sorry that Tommy Dott was very
often my companion in the cabin, an entrance to which, as he could not
pass the sentry at the door, he obtained by climbing down the mizen
chains, and creeping into the port windows.  As soon as the captain's
boat was seen coming off Tommy was out again by the port as quick as a
monkey, and I was very studiously poring over right-angled triangles.  I
rose, of course, as the captain entered the cabin.  "Sit down, Mr
Keene," he would say--"sit down; the master has reported favourably of
you, and I am glad to hear of it."

One morning, when, as usual, Tommy Dott had come through the port, we
were so busily employed with a caricature which we were making of old
Culpepper, that the captain's boat came alongside without our being
aware of it, and the captain's voice speaking to the first lieutenant as
he was descending the after-ladder was the first intimation we received
of his being on board.

It was impossible for Tommy Dott to escape without being seen as he
climbed out.  The table which was in the centre of the cabin was covered
with a blue cloth, large enough for the table when all the additional
leaves were put to it, and in its present reduced size the cloth fell
down to the deck; I pointed it out to Tommy, as the sentry's hand upon
the handle of the door announced the immediate entrance of the captain,
and he darted underneath the table, that he might escape detection
intending as soon as the captain went into the after-cabin to make his
retreat by the cabin-door or windows.  The captain entered, and I rose,
as usual, from my chair.

"Mr Keene," said he, "I have occasion to speak to the first lieutenant
on important private business; oblige me by leaving the cabin till that
is done.  You may as well tell Mr Hippesley that I wish to see him."

"Yes, sir," replied I making a bow, and leaving the cabin.  I felt very
much alarmed lest Tommy should be discovered in his hiding-place; and
after the captain had stated that he had particular business with the
first lieutenant, it was my duty, knowing that Mr Dott was there, to
have said so.  I hardly knew what to do, or how to act.  After all, it
was no great crime as it stood.  Tommy Dott had come into the cabin
without leave, and had concealed himself; but if I was to allow Tommy to
remain there and listen to important and particular business, evidently
of a secret nature, I should forfeit the good opinion and confidence of
the captain: nevertheless, I was very unwilling to betray him; I was
dreadfully puzzled, and when I went to the first lieutenant he perceived
my confusion.

"Why, what is the matter with you, Mr Keene?--you look quite
frightened," said he.

"Well, sir, I am," replied I; "and I think it my duty to tell you why I
am so."

I then informed him that Tommy Dott was under the cabin-table, and
would, of course, hear the secret communications of the captain.

"You have done very right, Mr Keene, and I know how unpleasant it is to
you to inform against your messmate; but at present there is no harm
done."

He then laughed, and said, "However, Mr Dott shall never know that you
have said anything about it, and I will frighten him out of the cabin
for the future."

He then went down the ladder, and into the fore-cabin.  I expected that
he would have discovered Tommy as if by accident, but such was not the
case.  The captain had just gone into the after-cabin, and Mr Hippesley
immediately followed him, and shutting the door, informed him of Mr
Dott's position, and why I had made it known.  The captain could not
help laughing, as, after all, it was no great offence.

He then gave the necessary information to the first lieutenant, and they
both walked into the fore-cabin; the first lieutenant saying, "If you
please, then, Captain Delmar, I will send a boat immediately with the
letter."

"Certainly," replied the captain, sitting down, and who evidently was
inclined to join in the joke with Mr Hippesley.  "Sentry, send the
officer on deck to man the jolly-boat, and tell Mr Dott to come here
immediately."

I was on deck when the sentry put his head up the ladder and gave the
order, and I immediately perceived the plan of the first lieutenant and
the state of alarm in which Tommy Dott must have been put.

The jolly-boat was manned, and Mr Dott called for in every quarter of
the ship, but he did not make his appearance.  After a delay of several
minutes, the officer on deck went down into the cabin, reporting that
the jolly-boat had been manned some time but that Mr Dott was not to be
found.

"Not to be found!" replied the captain; "why, he can't have fallen
overboard."

"Not he, sir," replied the first lieutenant; "he has gone to sleep
somewhere: either in the tops or the fore-topmast staysail netting."

"He appears to be a very troublesome boy," replied the captain.

"Very useless, indeed, sir," replied the first lieutenant.  "Sentry,
have they found Mr Dott?"

"No, sir; quarter-masters have been everywhere.  He's not in the ship."

"Very odd!" observed the captain.

"Oh! he'll turn up soon, sir; but really, Captain Delmar, if you were to
give him two or three dozen at the cabin gun, it would bring him to his
senses."

"That I most certainly will do," replied Captain Delmar; "and I
authorise you to do it, Mr Hippesley, as soon as he makes his
appearance; it will be of some service to him; but I hope no accident
has happened to him."

"I have no fear of that, sir," replied the first lieutenant: "if the
purser's steward's room had been open to-day, I should have sent to see
if he was not locked up in another attempt to steal raisins, but that
has not been the case.  By-the-by, the spirit-room was open this
morning, and he may have been down there, and may have had the hatches
put over him."

"Well, we must send another midshipman; call Mr Keene," said Captain
Delmar.

The sentry called me, and I made my appearance.

"Mr Keene, you'll go on shore to the dockyard in the jolly-boat: give
that letter to the master attendant, and wait for an answer."

"Yes, sir," replied I.

"Have you seen anything of Mr Dott?" said the first lieutenant; "you
are constantly together."

"I saw him just before Captain Delmar came on board, sir, but I have not
seen him since."

"Well, well, we will settle accounts with the young gentleman as soon as
he turns up," replied the captain: "you may go, Mr Keene."

I perceived that the captain and first lieutenant both smiled as I left
the cabin.  It appeared that soon after they left it and the captain
went on shore; but Tommy was so frightened that he remained in his
hiding-place, as he made sure he would be flogged if he made his
appearance, and he resolved to remain where he was until my return, that
he might consult me.

As soon as I had reported myself, and given the answer to the first
lieutenant, I hastened to the cabin, and then poor Tommy crawled from
under the table; the tears were still wet on his cheeks.

"I shall be flogged, Keene, as sure as I stand here.  Tell me, what can
I do--what can I say?"

"Tell the truth; that's the best way," replied I.

"Tell the captain that I was hid under the table! that would never do."

"Depend upon it, it's the best plan," replied I; "and it is the only
advice I can give you: you may be flogged if you tell the truth, but you
are _sure_ to be flogged if you tell a lie.  It will only add to your
offence."

"Well, I've been thinking about it--I'm sure that Mr Hippesley will
flog me if he catches me to-day or to-morrow; but if I remain hid for a
day or two, they will really think that I have fallen overboard, and
then they will say, `poor Tommy Dott,' and perhaps be so glad when I do
make my appearance, that they will forgive me."

"Yes," replied I, delighted at the idea; "I'm sure they will, if you do
tell the truth when you appear again."

"Then, that is what I'll do.  The first lieutenant said that I might be
in the spirit-room.  Where shall I go to?"

"Why," said I, "you must remain under the table till dark, and then you
may easily slip down into the coal-hole, where it is so dark that they
never will see you, even if they go down for coals.  It is the only
place I know of; stay there all to-morrow and next day, and come up in
the evening; or the next morning perhaps will be better."

"Well, it's a very good place," replied Tommy; "anything better than
being flogged; but will you bring me something to eat and drink?"

"Depend upon me, Tommy," replied I; "I'll contrive to bring you
something every night."

"Well, then, I'll do that," replied he.

"Yes; and tell the truth when you come out," said I.

"Yes, upon my honour I will;" and so saying, Tommy, hearing a noise,
again dived under the cabin table.

Soon afterwards I went out of the cabin.  The first lieutenant beckoned
me to him, and asked me where Mr Dott was, and I told him what had been
arranged between us.  He laughed very much, and said--

"Well, if Master Tommy punishes himself by two days' confinement in the
coal-hole, and tells the truth when he comes out, I think I may promise
he will get off his flogging; but don't you say that I have spoken to
you about it, and let him do as he proposes."

When it was dark, I supplied Tommy with provisions, and he gained the
coal-hole without being discovered.

The next day the speculations at his disappearance were general, and it
was now believed that poor Tommy had fallen overboard, and, as the
sharks are thick enough in Port Royal, that he was safely stowed away in
one of their maws.  I will say that the whole of the ship's company were
very sorry for him, with the exception of Mr Culpepper, who observed
that no good ever came of a boy who stole raisins.

"So you think, that because a lad steals a few of your confounded
plums," observed the second lieutenant, "he deserves to be eaten by the
sharks.  If I were Tommy Dott, I would haunt you if I could."

"I'm not afraid of dead men," replied Mr Culpepper; "they are quiet
enough."

"Perhaps so; but recollect, you make them chew tobacco, and therefore
they ought to rise up in judgment against you, if they do against any
one."

As this conversation passed on the quarter-deck, it put an idea in my
head.  That night I went to Tommy, whom I found terribly tired of
sitting on the coals.  I brought him a bottle of mixed grog, and some
boiled beef and biscuit.  I consoled him by telling him that every one
was sorry at his disappearance, and that I was convinced that he would
not be punished if he told the truth.

Tommy was for leaving the coal-hole immediately, but I pointed out to
him that the captain had not been on board that a and that it was
necessary that the captain should believe that he had fallen overboard
as well as the officers, or his compassion would not be roused.  Tommy
saw the propriety of this, and consented to remain another day.  I then
told him what Mr Culpepper had said, and I added, "Now, Tommy, if Mr
Culpepper should see you by any chance, pretend to be your ghost."

"That I will," replied Tommy, "if I get six dozen for it."  I then left
him.

On my return on deck, I saw Bob Cross; he was on shore during the major
portion of the day, attending upon the captain, and as I was no longer
in the captain's gig, I saw but little of him.

"Well, Mr Keene," said he, "I think you have quite recovered your
colour by this time, and I hope to see you in the gig again."

"I do not think I shall yet awhile--I have not yet learnt navigation
enough; but the master says he will be done with me in a fortnight, if I
go on as well as I do now."

"Yes; I heard him tell the captain that you were very quick, and would
be a good navigator but I can't get over the loss of poor Tommy Dott; he
was a little scampish, that's sartin, but still he was a merry,
kind-hearted boy--too good for the sharks, at all events.  You must feel
his loss, Mr Keene, for you were always together."

"No, I don't, Bob," replied I.

"Well, I'm sorry to hear you say that, Mr Keene; I thought you had a
kinder heart."

"So I have, Bob; but I'll tell you a secret, known only to the first
lieutenant and me; and that is, Tommy's in the coal-hole, very dirty,
but quite safe."

Bob Cross burst into a fit of laughing, which lasted some time.

"Well, Mr Keene, you have really taken a weight off my mind; now tell
me all about it.  You know I'm safe."

I then told Bob what had happened, and of Tommy's intention to make his
appearance on the following evening or the next morning.

"Well," said Bob, "you're mischief itself, Master Keene, and that's a
fact; however, it's all right this time, and you have the captain and
first lieutenant as your confidants and partners in the joke.  You did
perfectly right and I'm sure the captain and first lieutenant must be
pleased with you; but recollect, Master Keene, keep your distance as
before; don't presume."

"Never fear, Bob," replied I: "but now I have told you that, I want you
to assist me."  I then repeated the conversation of Mr Culpepper with
the second lieutenant.

"Now," continued I; "you see, Cross, I can't do anything myself; Mr
Culpepper hates me, and would suspect me; but if we could only frighten
him: you might, for he would not think you were playing him a trick."

"I see," replied Bob; "it will be a good thing for Tommy Dott, and a
nice wind-up of this affair.  Let me alone.  When I come on board
to-morrow evening I'll manage it if I can."

After a little more conversation, we separated for the night.

The next morning the captain came on board.  He remained on deck with
the first lieutenant for some minutes, during which of course, he was
made acquainted with Tommy Dott's position.  When he came down into the
cabin, I moved from my seat, as respectful and serious as before; and
when ordered to sit down again, resumed my studies with great apparent
diligence.  He did not say a word to me about Tommy Dott; and as he was
going out of the cabin, Mr Culpepper was announced by the sentry.

"If you please, Captain Delmar," said Mr Culpepper, with his usual
profound bow, "what are we to do with the effects of Mr Dott, who has
fallen overboard?  By the regulations of the service, they should be
sold before the mast.  And I also wish to know whether he is to be
continued to be victualled, or whether it is your pleasure that he is
discharged as dead?"

The captain smiled, and turned his face towards me; but I continued with
my eyes down on my book.

"Perhaps we had better wait till to-morrow, Mr Culpepper," replied the
captain, "and then you may sell his effects, and put DD to his name,
poor fellow."  And having made this reply, the captain went out of his
cabin.  Mr Culpepper followed; and shortly afterwards the captain went
on shore again.

Before dusk, the captain's gig, as usual, returned on board, and I was
at the gangway to meet Bob Cross; the boat was hoisted up, and then Bob
came to me.

"I must first go down and see Mr Dott, that I may be able to swear to
the fact."  Bob did so, and then returned on deck.  Mr Culpepper was
abaft, walking by himself, when Bob went up and accosted him.

"If you please, sir," said Bob, touching his hat, "did the captain say
anything to you about coals, for I expect we shall not stay here much
longer?"

"No," replied Mr Culpepper.

"Then he must have forgot it, I suppose sir."

"Well, there's plenty of coals," replied Mr Culpepper.

"Well, sir, I don't know; but I think I heard the cook's mate say as how
they were getting rather low."

"Getting rather low! then there must have been great waste," exclaimed
Mr C, who was very careful of his expenses.

"I don't know how far it may be so; but I think it might be as well to
know how matters stand; and if so be there's plenty, why I can tell
Captain Delmar when I go on shore to-morrow."

"I'll see; I'll go down myself to-night," replied Mr Culpepper.  "The
midshipmen are allowed a stove to themselves--very unusual--and they are
cooking all day."

"Talking about midshipmen, sir," replied Cross, "you may think it's very
odd but as I stand here--and you know, Mr Culpepper, I am not easily
scared--I saw that young Tommy Dott, or his ghost, this very evening."

It was now quite dark; and Mr Culpepper stared at the coxswain, and
then replied, "Pooh, nonsense!"

"It's no nonsense, I do assure you.  I saw him with these eyes, sure as
I stand here."

"Where?" exclaimed Mr C.

"Right forward, sir.  I only mention it to you, but don't say a word
about it, for I should only be laughed at; but I do assure you that I
would kiss the Bible to it, if it was required.  I never did before
believe in anything of that sort, that's sartain; but it's no use
talking about it, sir.  I think I had better get a lantern, and get over
this coal business at once."

"Yes, yes," replied Mr Culpepper; "but you won't know how much coals
there are: I must go myself and see."

Bob Cross was soon ready with the lantern, and went forward with Mr
Culpepper.  The hammocks had been piped down, and they were obliged to
bend double under them to get along the lower deck.  I followed
unperceived.

The descent into the coal-hole was by battens, and not very easy for an
old man like Mr C But Cross went down first, holding the light for the
purser to follow, which he did very slowly, and with great caution.  As
soon as they both stood on the coals below, the purser took the light to
make his survey.

"Why, there's plenty of coals for three months, coxswain," said he.  "I
thought there was; you see they are nearly up to the beams abaft."

"Look! sir--look!" exclaimed Cross, starting back; "what's that?"

"Where?" exclaimed Mr C, alarmed.

"There, sir--there he is: I told you so."

The purser's eyes were directed to where Bob pointed, and then he beheld
Tommy Dott standing immovable, with his arms extended, as if denouncing
him--his eyes staring, and his mouth wide open.

"Mercy!--murder!" cried the purser, dropping the lantern, which went out
and left them in the dark; and he tumbled down on the coals.

Bob Cross stepped over him, and hastened up to the lower deck, followed
by Tommy Dott, who first, by way of revenge, jumped several times upon
the purser's face and body before he climbed up.

The cry of the purser had given the alarm.  The master-at-arms hastened
forward with his lantern just as Tommy had made his appearance above the
coamings.  Seeing Tommy as black as a sweep, he too was frightened; the
men had put their heads out of their hammocks and some of them had seen
Tommy.

Bob Cross, as he crawled aft, cried out, "Tommy Dott's ghost!"  I had
pretended to be terrified out of my wits as I ran aft, and all was
confusion on the lower deck.  The first lieutenant had come out of the
wardroom, and seeing me, he inquired what was the matter.  I replied
that Mr Culpepper had gone down into the coal-hole, and had seen Mr
Dott's ghost.  He laughed heartily, and went back.

Tommy had in the mean time made his appearance in the mids' berth, at
which they had all rushed from him in dismay, just as I entered; when I
caught him by the hand saying, "Tommy, my boy, how are you?"  They then
perceived that it was Tommy himself, and order was restored.

Mr Culpepper was hoisted up out of the coal-hole; Master Tommy having
jumped upon his face, he looked a very miserable object, as he was well
blackened, as well as much bruised from the soles of Tommy's shoes, and
his nose had bled profusely.  He was very incoherent for some time; but
the doctor gave him an opiate, and put him to bed.

The next morning the whole affair was explained on the quarterdeck,
Master Tommy well reprimanded, and desired to return to his duty.  The
captain was very much amused at the winding up of this affair, as it was
a capital story to tell at the governor's.  Tommy never had an idea that
I had blown upon him, nor did Mr Culpepper imagine that their meeting
was premeditated.

I had now completed the usual course of navigation under the master, and
had no longer any cause for remaining in the cabin; I therefore returned
to my berth; but as I had taken a liking to navigation, I now was
employed daily in working sights and rating the chronometer.

We remained three weeks longer in Port Royal, and then were ordered out
on a cruise, on the South American coast.  There we continued for nearly
six months without anything occurring worth relating, except our having
captured four good prizes.  We were returning to Jamaica, when we fell
in with a schooner, which gave us the intelligence of the capture of the
island of Curacao by four English frigates.

As we were near to the island and short of water, Captain Delmar
resolved to touch at it, and remained two or three days.

The reader will perhaps recollect that the old Dutch gentleman, whose
life I had saved in the pirate vessel, had stated that his name was
Vanderwelt, and that he lived at Curacao.  The next evening we entered
the harbour, and it was astonishing to every one how so strong a place
could have been taken by so small a force.  The commodore, who had
plenty of work on hand, requested, or rather ordered, our captain to
remain with him for ten days or a fortnight, to assist him.

On the third day after our arrival I obtained leave to go on shore, as I
wished to find out the old Dutch gentleman.  As I was again in the
captain's gig, I had very often landed, but had not had an opportunity
of making inquiries, as I could not leave my boat and boat's crew.

This afternoon I landed in the gig, and went up through the gate into
the town, but I could not find anyone who spoke English.  At last, by
asking for the house of Mynheer Vanderwelt, it was pointed out to me,
and I went up to the door; it was a very large house, with a verandah
all round it, painted bright green and while alternately.  There were
several slaves sitting down at the entrance, and I asked for Mynheer
Vanderwelt; they stared at me, and wondered what I wanted, but as I was
in midshipman's uniform, they were of course very civil, and one of them
beckoned me to follow him, which I did, and was introduced to the old
gentleman, who was sitting in a cane arm-chair with his pipe in his
mouth, and fanned by two slave girls, about twelve years old.

As he had spoken to me in English on board of the pirate, I immediately
went up to him, and said, "How do you do, sir?"

"I am very well, sir," replied he, taking the pipe out of his mouth.
"What do you want? do you come from the English commodore?  What is his
pleasure?"

"No, sir," replied I; "I do not come from the commodore; but I came up
to see you."

"Oh, that is all," replied the old gentleman, putting his pipe in his
mouth again, and resuming his smoking.  I felt rather nettled at his
treatment, and then said--

"Don't you know me, sir?"

"No, sir," replied he, "I have not that honour.  I have never seen you
in my life before, and I do not know you."

My blood was up at this cool declaration.

"Then I wish you a good morning, sir," replied I; and turning on my
heel, I was strutting out with all the dignity of an offended
midshipman, when I was met face to face by the little girl, his
daughter.  She stared at me very much, and I passed her in sovereign
contempt; she followed me timidly, and looked into my face, then panting
for breath, seized me by the arm.  I turned to her at being stopped in
this manner, and was about to shake her off with anything but
politeness, when she screamed out, and in a moment had sprung up, and
was hanging with both arms round my neck.

"Fader, fader," she cried out as I struggled to disengage myself.

The old gentleman came out at the summons.

"Stop him! fader; don't let him go away," cried she in Dutch; "it is he!
it is he!"

"Who, my child?" asked the old gentleman.

"The pirate-boy," replied the little girl, bursting into a paroxysm of
tears, on my shoulders.

"Mein Gott! it cannot be; he was _black_, my child; yet," continued the
old gentleman, looking at me, "he is like him.  Tell me, sir, are you
our preserver?"

"Yes," replied I, "I was; but that is of little consequence now.  Will
you oblige me by removing this young lady?" continued I, for I was
highly offended.

"Sir, I ask your pardon," replied the old gentleman; "but I am not to
blame.  How could I recognise you in a white person when you were so
dark-coloured at our meeting on board of that vessel?  I am not to
blame; indeed I am not, my dear young friend.  I would have given ten
thousand rix dollars to have met you, that I might prove my gratitude
for your noble defence of us, and our preservation at such a risk.
Come, sir, you must forgive the mistake of an old man, who was certainly
not inclined to be civil to an officer who belonged to the squadron, who
had within these few days so humiliated us by their astonishing bravery
and success.  Let my little girl, whose life you saved, persuade you, if
I cannot."

In the mean time the little girl had dropped from my shoulder, and was
on the floor, embracing my knees, and still sobbing.  I felt convinced
that what the old gentleman said was true, and that he had not
recognised me.  I had forgotten that I had been stained dark at the time
that I had met them on board of the Stella.

I therefore held out my hand to the old gentleman, and raising the
little girl, we all three went in together to where we had found the old
gentleman on my first introduction to him.

"If you knew how delighted I am to see you, and be able to express my
thanks," said Mynheer Vanderwelt, "and poor Minnie too.  How often have
we talked over that dreadful day, and wondered if ever we should see you
again.  I assure you, on my honour, that now I no longer regret the
capture of the island."

Minnie stood by me during the time her father was speaking, her large
blue eyes beaming through the tears with which they brimmed; and as I
turned to her, our eyes met, and she smiled.  I drew her towards me.
She appeared as if she only required some encouragement, for she
immediately kissed me several times on the cheek nearest to her, every
now and then saying a word or two in Dutch to her father, which I could
not understand.

I hardly need say, that after this, intimacy was soon brought about.  If
I thought that at first I had been treated with ingratitude, ample
amends was made afterwards.

The old gentleman said during the evening, "Good heaven! if my
daughter's eyes had not been sharper than mine; if you had gone away,
thinking that I did not choose to recognise you--had I found it out
afterwards, it would have broken my heart, and poor Minnie's too.  Oh!
I am grateful--very grateful to God that it was not so."

That I passed a very pleasant evening the reader may imagine.  The
household who had been told who I was, appeared to almost worship me.
The old gentleman asked me a hundred questions as to my parentage,
etcetera, about Captain Delmar and the service, and begged of me to
remain with him altogether while the frigate was in port.  I told him
that was impossible, but that I would come as often as I could obtain
leave.  At nine o'clock I bade them good night, and was escorted to the
boat by six of the slaves carrying lanterns.

Captain Delmar, as well as all the other captains of the frigates, had
taken up his quarters on shore for the harbour was so narrow and
landlocked, that the heat on board was excessive.  I found that the next
day old Mr Vanderwelt had paid his respects to Captain Delmar, giving
him an account of what had occurred on board of the pirate much more
flattering to me than what I had stated myself.  The steward was present
at the time, and he had told Bob Cross, who communicated it to me.
Mynheer Vanderwelt had also begged as a favour that I might be permitted
to stay on shore with him during the time that the frigate was in
harbour, but to this Captain Delmar had not consented, promising,
however, that I should have occasional leave when the service would
permit of it.

The reader may recollect that the island of Curacao had been surrendered
to the English in 1800, and restored to the Dutch in 1802.  During that
interval several English merchants had settled there and remained after
the restoration, and now at the second capture we found them still on
the island.  From these we received the information that Mr Vanderwelt
was the richest man on the island, and that the Dutch government was
indebted to him in very large sums; that he had long retired from
business, although he had large property in the Havannah, which he
received with his wife, who had been a Spanish lady, and that it was his
intention to have gone back to Holland by the first man-of-war which
should have arrived.

We remained three weeks at Curacao, during which time the first
lieutenant gave me leave to go on shore almost every evening after the
captain had dismissed his gig, and to remain at Mr Vanderwelt's till
half-past eight the following morning, when I joined my boat, and
attended on the captain.  By this plan my duty was not interfered with,
and I had many pleasant meetings with my new friends, and became, as may
be imagined, very intimate with little Minnie.

I may as well describe her.  She was about ten years old, tall for her
age; she was very fair, with deep blue eyes, and very dark hair; her
countenance was very animated and expressive, and she promised to be a
very handsome woman.  Her father doted upon her, for he had no other
child; he had married late in life, and his wife had died a few days
after Minnie was born.  She was very affectionate in disposition, and
very sweet-tempered; up to the present she had received but little
education, and that was one principal reason for Mr Vanderwelt's
wishing to return to Holland.  I soon became as one of the family, and
certainly was treated as such.

Minnie was very curious to know what it was that I carried about my neck
in the seal-skin pouch, but I never could tell either her or her father
what it really was.  Mr Vanderwelt very often asked me if I liked being
at sea, and I invariably replied in the affirmative.

At last the frigate was to sail, and I had but one more evening to pass
with them.  Mr Vanderwelt appeared very grave, and little Minnie would
every now and then during the evening burst into tears at the idea of
our separation.

At last the hour of parting arrived--it was very painful.  I promised to
write to them, and Mr Vanderwelt told me that his house was always
ready to receive me, and begged that if I wanted anything I would let
him know.

I cried, myself, when I left the house--the first time that I ever
cried, I believe, on such an occasion.  The next morning we were again
under weigh, to rejoin the admiral at Jamaica.

Bob Cross had told me that he wished to have a little talk with me in
the first watch, and I met him on the gangway, our usual rendezvous.

"Master Keene, I have some news for you, which I gained from the steward
last night.  I will say, that his ears are always open; not that I think
he is generally what is called an eavesdropper but he likes you, and
when you are concerned, he does care to find out what is going on.  Now
you see, sir, that Dutch gentleman whom you saved from the nigger pirate
came to call on Captain Delmar yesterday morning, and, after some
palaver, he told the captain that he wished you to remain with him
altogether, and leave his majesty's service; and he begged the captain
to allow you to be discharged, and then he would be a father to you, as
you had no father.  There was a great deal more which the steward could
not make out, but it was all to that effect.  Well, the captain said
that it was very true that you had lost your father but that he
considered you as _his own_ son, and could not part with you on any
account; and he stated that you were so promising an officer, that it be
very wrong that you should leave the service, and that it must not be
thought of.  The old gentleman said a great deal, and tried very hard to
persuade the captain, but it was of no use.  The captain said he would
never let you go till you were a post-captain and commanded a fine
frigate, and then you would of course be your own master, and act as you
please."

"I am very glad to hear all this, Bob, I can assure you."

"Yes, sir, it is very good news: but, Master Keene, I only hope, knowing
Captain Delmar as you do, that you will act towards him as if you had
never heard it."

"I will, depend upon it, Cross.  As for leaving the service, that I
would not have done even if Captain Delmar had agreed to it.  I'm an
Englishman, and I don't want to be under Dutch protection."

"That's right, sir--that's right--just as I wished you to feel.  How
time flies away.  Why, Master Keene, you have been afloat nearly three
years."

"Within a month, Bob."

"And you're growing such a tall fellow, they won't keep you much longer
in the captain's gig, I expect: I shall be sorry for that.  So Master
Tommy Dott is in another scrape."

"How?--I heard nothing of it."

"No, because it's only within this half-hour that he's got in it."

"Tell me."

"Why, sir, Mr Culpepper had fallen fast asleep on the gunroom table,
under the skylight, which, as you know, is always open, and his head had
fallen back, and his mouth was wide open: there was no other officer in
the gun-room except Mr Culpepper: and Tommy Dott, who perceived him,
asked Timothy Jenkins, the maintop-man, to give him a quid of tobacco;
well, Jenkins takes it out of his cheek, red-hot, as you may suppose,
and hands it to Master Tommy, who takes his perpendicular very
accurately, and drops the quid into the purser's open mouth.

"Mr Culpepper was almost choked, but after a terrible coughing, the
quid comes up again; notwithstanding, he turns as sick as a dog, and is
obliged to run to the basin in his cabin.  Well, sir, as soon as he
comes out again, he goes up under the half deck, and inquires of the
sentry who it was that did it; and the sentry, who is that sulky fellow,
Martin, instead of knowing nothing about it, says directly, it was
Master Tommy; and now there's a formal complaint made by Mr Culpepper
on the quarter-deck, and Master Tommy will get it as sure as a gun."

"He don't know how to play a trick," replied I; "he is always found out
and punished: the great point is, not to be discovered--that's the real
pleasure in playing a trick."

"Well, you certainly do manage well, Master Keene; but I think it's
almost time you left them off now, you're getting an oldster.  Why, you
must be seventeen, sir?"

"Yes, Bob, not very far from it."

"Well, I suppose I must say Mister Keene for the future."

"You may call be what you like, Bob; you have been a good friend to me."

"Well, sir, I only hope that Captain Delmar will make you a
post-captain, as he says, and that you'll get a fine frigate, and I'll
be your coxswain; but that's a long way to look to, and we shan't have
any more councils of war on the gangway then."

"No; but we may in the cabin, Cross."

"A large sail on the starboard bow," cried the look-out man forward.

"A large sail on the starboard bow," reported the mate of the watch.

My glass was on the capstern, and I ran for it, and went forward to
examine the vessel, although my duty as signal midshipman was ended at
sunset.

"What do you make of it, Mr Keene?" said the officer of the watch.

"I think she is a man-of-war; but it is so dark, that I cannot make her
out very clearly."

"Is she standing this way?"

"Yes, sir, under top-sails and top-gallant-sails, I think."

The officer of the watch went down to report to the captain, who had not
yet turned into his cot.  Captain Delmar had been informed that a Dutch
frigate was expected at the island, but not until the following month;
still we had no reason to suppose that there were any of our frigates
down in these latitudes, except those lying in the harbour at Curacao.
The wind was light, about a three knot breeze, and there being no moon
till after twelve o'clock, it was very difficult to make out what she
was.  Some said she was a two-decked vessel.  The captain went down to
look at his private signals for the night, and before he came up I was
all ready with the lanterns.

"Two lights over one in a triangle; be quick, Mr Keene."

"Aye, aye, sir," replied I.

The lights were soon hoisted at the peak, but as they could not well be
seen by the other vessel, as we were standing towards her, we went about
and hove to across her hawse.  For a quarter of an hour she continued to
stand towards us without noticing the signals; at last the captain said,
"They must be all asleep on board of the vessel."

"No, Captain Delmar," replied I, keeping my telescope on the vessel,
"they are not all asleep, for I saw lights on the main-deck through the
bow-ports.  I see them again now."

"So do I," said the first lieutenant.

"Then we'll beat to quarters, Mr Hippesley," rejoined the captain.

The men were summoned to quarters, and hammocks piped up and stowed in a
very short time, the guns cast loose, and every man at his post (but the
ports not opened), waiting the coming down of the stranger, now about a
mile distant, when suddenly she rounded to the wind on the same tack
that we were, and set her royals and flying-jib.

"She does not answer our signals," observed the captain: "I suspect by
that and her present manoeuvre she must be an enemy."

"I have no doubt of it, sir," observed the first lieutenant; "an English
frigate would not behave in that way."

"Open the ports and get up the fighting lanterns, then," said the
captain; for, up to the present, we had been careful not to show any
lights.

It was now plain to see that her men were at their quarters and that she
was prepared for action.  When everything was ready on deck, the royals
and flying-jib were set, and we gave chase.  The strange vessel was
about three-quarters of a mile on our weather-beam; in half an hour we
had gained upon her considerably, and our sailing was so superior that
we were satisfied, should she prove an enemy, that in an hour more we
should be engaged.

Of course, we might have engaged her at the distance we were from her,
but you cannot be too careful in a night action, and ought never to
engage without first hailing the vessel to make sure that she is an
enemy, as circumstances may, and have occurred by which an English
vessel may not be able to answer the private signal, and, of course, a
vessel belonging to a neutral power would be in the same position.

The incertitude which existed as to whether the strange vessel was an
enemy or not created great excitement.  My duty, as signal midshipman,
placed me abaft on the quarter-deck, and Bob Cross, who was really a
quarter-master, although doing duty as captain's coxswain, was at the
wheel.

At last we had brought the chase well on our weather quarter, and when
we tacked we found that we lay well up, she being about a point on our
lee bow.  Another half-hour brought us within two cables' length of her,
when we kept away, so as to pass her to leeward, close enough to have
thrown a biscuit on board.  The stranger still remaining on the opposite
tack, Captain Delmar then hailed from the gangway--

"Ship, a-hoy!"

There was a death-like silence on board of both vessels, and his voice
pierced sonorously through the night wind.

"Ah! yaw!" was the reply.

"What ship is that?" continued Captain Delmar.

During this time every man was at his gun; the captains, with the
lanyards of the locks in their hands, ready to pour in a broadside.

The reply from the other vessel was--"Vat chip is dat?"

"His Britannic Majesty's ship Calliope," replied Captain Delmar; and
then he repeated--"What ship is that?  Let every man lie down at his
quarters," said Captain Delmar.  The order was hardly obeyed, when the
stranger frigate poured in her broadside, and as we were then very
close, with great execution to our hull and rigging: but as the men had
been lying down, very few of them were hurt.

As soon as the crash was over, Captain Delmar cried out--"Up, men, and
fire, as I round to under her stern."

In a few seconds we had passed through the volumes of smoke, and luffed
up under her stern: we poured in our whole broadside.

"Let her go off again--flatten in there forward.  Reedy about," was the
next order given.

We ran away from her about three cables' length, until we had sufficient
way to tack, and then we went about and stood towards her, steering for
her weather quarter, as if we were going to engage her to windward.

"Over to the larboard guns, my lads.  Hands by, after bracings and
howlings, Mr Hippesley."

"Aye, aye, sir, all ready."

As soon as we were near enough, the after-yards were shivered, the jib
sheet to windward, and the helm put up.  The Calliope worked
beautifully; she paid sharp off, and we again passed under her stern,
and gave another raking broadside; very unexpected on the part of the
Dutchman, who presumed that we were going to engage him to windward, and
had his men all ready at his larboard guns in consequence.

The Dutch captain was evidently much annoyed: he stood at the taffrail,
and, much to our amusement, cried out, in bad English, "You coward--not
fight fair."

As we shot ahead of her, to leeward, she gave us a portion of her
starboard broadside: but the men, having been over at the guns on the
other side, were not quick enough, and they did us no injury; whereas,
her mizzen-mast fell over the side a few minutes after we passed her.

She then raid off, and so did we, so that she might not rake us, and
broadsides were exchanged on equal terms; but before we had exchanged
these broadsides, both ships running with the wind on the quarter, we
found that our superiority in sailing free was so great, that we shot
ahead of him out of his fire, and we were enabled to luff up and rake
him again.

The last raking broadside brought down his main-topmast and then she was
all our own, as Bob Cross said; as she could not round to with no after
sail, and we could from our superiority in sailing, take our position as
we pleased, which we did, constantly keeping ahead of him, and raking
him, broadside after broadside, and receiving but one broadside in
return, until his foremast went by the board, and he had nothing but his
main-mast standing.

This bettered his condition on the whole; as, although hardly manageable
with so little wind, he had more power over his vessel, as far as
rounding to the wind, which he did, and the action continued; but our
fighting under sail gave us great advantage, and although an occasional
shot would come in, and we had to carry some men into the cockpit, for
one shot we received, we certainly returned ten.  The action had
continued about an hour, when, by the continual cannonading, the light
wind was beaten down, and it fell dead calm.  This put us again upon a
more equal footing, as the Calliope had not steerage way.

We were then about a quarter of a mile apart, lying head and stern; but
both ships had fallen off during the calm, so that only the quarter guns
of each could be brought to bear.  The major portion of the ship's
company being, therefore, not able to use their guns, were employed in
repairing the damages we had received, which were very considerable,
especially in the sails and rigging.

I was standing by Bob Cross, who was looking out for cats' paws, as we
call slight breaths of wind, when he said in a low voice:--

"Master Keene, I never had an idea that the captain could handle his
ship so well: he really knows what he's about as well as any man in the
service."

"I thought so, too," replied I.  "Whew! there's a nasty shot," cried I,
as one came in and upset half a dozen of the marines, who were hauling
upon the mizzen-topsail sheet, which had just been spliced.

"Yes, sir, that chap is made of good stuff, depend upon it--all the
Dutchmen are: if they could only keep their hands out of their breeches
pockets, they would be rummer customers than they are now; as it is,
they are not to be played with; and, depend upon it, we're a long way
off having him yet: we must pray for wind to come up and he must pray
for the calm to continue."

"Where's Mr Keene?" said the captain, who was on the other side of the
deck.

"Here, sir," said I, running up and touching my hat.

"Mr Keene, go down quietly and ascertain how many men we have hurt: the
doctor will be able to tell you pretty nearly."

"Aye, aye, sir," replied I, and I dived down below; just as I did so, a
shot came in and cut away the lower rail of the copper stanchions which
were round the hatchway, about a foot beyond my hat: had I not gone down
so quickly, it would have taken my head off.

I went down into the gun-room, for the doctor preferred being there to
the cockpit, as there was so much more room to operate, and I gave him
the captain's message.

He was very busy taking off a poor fellow's leg.  It was a horrible
sight and made me sick and faint.  As soon us the bone had been sawed
off, he said--

"You will find all the wounded I have dressed in the steerage; those
they have brought me down dead are in the cockpit.  There have been five
amputations already the master is badly wounded, and Mr Williams the
mate, is killed: those whom I have not been able to attend to yet, are
here in the gun-room.  You must ascertain what the captain wishes to
know yourself, Mr Keene.  I cannot, leave a leg with the arteries not
taken up, to count heads.  Mr Rivers, the tenaculum--ease the
tourniquet, now."

As I felt what the doctor said to be true, I got a lantern and commenced
my examinations.  I found fourteen wounded men waiting the doctor's care
in the gun-room, which was almost a pool of blood.  In the steerage
there were nine who had been dressed, and four in their hammocks, who
had undergone amputation of the arm or leg.  I then went down into the
cockpit, where I counted eleven of our best men lying dead.  Having
obtained the information required, I was proceeding up the cockpit
ladder, when I turned towards the purser's steward's room, and saw Mr
Culpepper, the purser, on his knees before a lantern; he looked very
pale--he turned round and saw me.

"What's the matter?" cried he.

"Nothing, sir; only the captain wishes to know how many men are killed
and wounded."

"Tell him I do not know: surely he does not want me on deck?"

"He wants to know how many men are hurt, sir," replied I, for I
perceived that he thought that the message was sent to him.

"Mercy on me!  Stop a minute, Mr Keene, and I'll send up word by you."

"I can't stop, sir," replied I, going up the ladder.

Mr Culpepper would have called me back, but I preferred leaving him in
his error, as I wished to see which he most dreaded, the captain's
displeasure or the shot of the enemy.

I returned on deck and made my report.  The captain looked very grave,
but made no reply.

I found that the two frigates were now lying stern to stern, and firing
occasional guns, which raked fore and aft.  Except the men who worked
the guns aft, our people were lying down at their quarters, by the order
of the captain.

"If we only had but a capful of wind," said the captain to the first
lieutenant, "but I see no appearance of it."

I touched my hat and said, "The moon will rise in about ten minutes,
sir, and she often brings the wind up with her."

"That's true, Mr Keene, but it's not always the case.  I only hope she
will; if not, I fear we shall lose more of our men."

The firing continued, and our main-mast had received so many shots, that
we were obliged to hold it for its support.  While so employed, the moon
rose, and the two vessels had now a good view of each other.  I directed
my glass to the horizon under the moon, and was delighted to perceive a
black line, which promised wind; I reported it to the master, and the
promise was kept good, for in a quarter of an hour our sails flapped,
and then gradually filled.

"She has steerage way, sir," reported Bob Cross.

"Thank Heaven for that," replied Captain Delmar.  "Jump up, men.  Brace
round the yards, Mr Hippesley."

"The enemy's main yard is cut in two in the slings, sir," reported I,
after I had my glass upon her.

"Then her last hope is gone," replied Mr Hippesley.  "Haul over the
starboard jib-sheet forward--let her come to, quartermaster.  Larboard
guns, my lads."

"Now, my men," cried Captain Delmar, "make short work of her."

This injunction was obeyed.  We had now a good sight of the enemy, and
brought our whole broadside to bear upon her stern; and after a quarter
of an hour more firing I perceived that her ensign was no longer on the
staff, where it had been hoisted after the fall of the mizenmast;
neither had she for the last five minutes given us a gun in return.

"She has struck, sir, I think," said I to Captain Delmar; "her ensign is
down."

"Pass the word `Cease firing,' Mr Hippesley; but let the guns be all
reloaded in case of accidents.  Have we a boat that can swim?  Examine
the cutters, Mr Keene."

I found the cutter on the larboard quarter, with her bottom out: she
could not swim, that was clear.  The starboard one was in better
condition.

"The starboard cutter will float, sir; her gunwale is all torn away, but
there are rollocks enough to pull."

"Let her be cleared away and lowered down, Mr Hippesley.  Send for the
second lieutenant."

"I believe he's not on deck sir," replied the first lieutenant.

"Not much hurt, I hope?"

"A splinter, I was told, sir."

"Where's Mr Weymss, the third lieutenant?  Mr Weymss, jump into the
boat, and take possession of the prize: take as many men as you can;
and, Mr Keene, with Mr Weymss, and as soon as you have gained the
necessary information, come back with the boat and two hands."

I followed the third lieutenant info the boat, and we pulled on board of
our antagonist.  A junior officer received us on the deck, and presented
his sword.  His left arm was bound up, and he was very pale from loss of
blood.  He spoke pretty good English; and we found that we had captured
the Dort, Dutch frigate, of thirty-eight guns, bound to Curacao, with a
detachment of troops for the garrison, and a considerable quantity of
ammunition and specie on board for the use of the colony.

We inquired whether the captain was much hurt, as he did not appear on
deck.

"He is dead, gentlemen," replied the young officer: "he was my father.
Our loss has been very great.  I am only a cadet, yet I am commanding
officer."

A tear rolled down his cheek as he said that the captain was his father,
and I felt for him.  Shortly afterwards he staggered to a carronade
slide, and dropped down on it, and very soon was in a state of
insensibility.

The carnage had been dreadful, and the bulwarks of the vessel had been
shattered to pieces.  The scene was almost as had as the Stella's decks
before she was blown up by the negro captain.  Several of the guns were
dismounted and two of them had burst.  I had only time to go round the
gun-deck, and then I ordered two hands into the boat, that I might make
my report to Captain Delmar.

I asked the third lieutenant to allow me to take on board the young
officer, who still remained lifeless on the carronade slide, and, as it
was proper for me to bring back with me the commanding officer, he
consented.  We lowered him with a rope into the boat, and then I
returned on board of the Calliope, and went up to the captain to make my
report, and present him with the sword of the officer commanding the
prize.

Just as I was commencing my story, Mr Culpepper came up without his
wig, and in a state of great disorder, with a piece of dirty paper in
his hand.  He trembled very much from the effects of his alarm, but made
a very profound bow, and said to Captain Delmar--

"Here is the state of killed and wounded, Captain Delmar, as far as I
have been able to collect them.  I could not possibly get them
ascertained before, although I have been an hour or two employed--ever
since Mr Keene came down."

The captain, who did not like the interruption, replied very haughtily,
"Mr Culpepper, it's the duty of the surgeon to send in the report of
killed and wounded.  You had better go down below, get your dress in a
little better order.  Now, Mr Keene."

Old Culpepper slunk away as I proceeded to give the information, and the
captain now asked the carpenter if the pinnace was sufficiently
repaired.

"In a few minutes, sir," was the reply.

"Mr Hippesley, you must, then, send forty hands on board the prize to
repair her damages, as far as we can.  Mr Weymss must remain on board."

In the meantime the young officer had been taken down below to the
surgeon, who had now some leisure to attend to him.  He was soon
restored, and the surgeon expressed his opinion that it would be
possible to save his arm.  I went down to see him, and I gave him my
hammock to sleep in for the present, and as soon as he was comfortably
arranged under the half-deck I returned to the quarter-deck, and made
myself as useful as I could, for we had plenty to do on board of our own
frigate, knotting and splicing, having only made temporary repairs.

It was now dawn of day, and very soon afterwards broad daylight.  The
men were ordered aft with the buckets, and the decks, which were smeared
and black with powder and the blood of the wounded, were washed down.
That we were all very tired I hardly need say, but it was not yet time
for repose; the magazines had been secured and the fires lighted.

Another boat, with the carpenter and assistant-surgeon, had been sent on
board the prize to remedy any serious damage and to assist in dressing
the wounded.  I was sent with the boat.  Mr Weymss, the third
lieutenant, had not been idle: jury-masts were in preparation, the decks
had been cleared, the dead thrown overboard, and the wounded taken
below.

On mustering the remainder of the Dort's ship's company, and calling
over the muster-roll of the troops on board, we found that she had lost
the captain, 2 lieutenants and 10 officers, 73 seamen and 61 soldiers,
killed; and the first-lieutenant, 13 officers, and 137 wounded--147
killed and 151 wounded: total 298.  She had received several shot
between wind and water, and had a good deal of water in the hold: this
was, however, soon remedied by the carpenter and his crew, and the
frigate pumped out by the prisoners.

I returned on board of the Calliope with this intelligence to the
captain, and found that the surgeon had just sent in the report of our
own loss, which was, 1 officer and 17 men killed--master, 2 lieutenants,
2 midshipmen, and 47 wounded.

"Do you know who are the midshipmen wounded?" said the captain to me.

"I heard that Mr James was killed, sir, but not the names of those who
are wounded; but I think one of them must be Mr Dott, or we certainly
should have seen him about."

"I should not be surprised," replied the captain.  "Sentry, ask who are
the young gentlemen wounded."

The sentry replied, "Mr Castles and Mr Dott."

"Well," replied the captain, "he'll be in no more mischief for some
time; I heard of his trick to the purser."

As the captain was saying this, I perceived the piece of paper which the
purser had brought up as his report of killed and wounded lying on the
table with the other reports.  It had, apparently, not been examined by
the captain, but my eye caught it, and I observed, written in a shaking
hand, "Pieces of beef, 10; ditto pork, 19; raisins, 17; marines, 10."  I
could not help smiling.

"What are you amused with, Mr Keene, may I ask?" said the captain,
rather gravely.

"I beg your pardon, sir, for venturing so in your presence," replied I;
"but it is Mr Culpepper's report of killed and wounded;" which I then
took up, and handed to the captain.

This proof of Mr Culpepper's state of mind during the conflict was too
much for even Captain Delmar, who laughed outright.

"The old fool," muttered he.

"You may go now, Mr Keene.  If breakfast is ready, tell Mr Hippesley
to let the men have it as soon as possible."

"Aye, aye, sir," replied I, and bowing respectfully, I quitted the
cabin; for I felt that Captain Delmar thought that he had not been quite
so reserved towards me as he always wished to be.

As soon as I had given the captain's orders, I went down to find out
Tommy Dott.  He was in his hammock, next to mine, in which I had put the
young Dutch officer.  Dott was wide awake, and, apparently, very
feverish.

"Where are you hurt, Tommy?"

"I am sure I don't know," said he.  "Get me some water, Keene."

I got a pannikin of water, and he drank it.

"Don't you know where you are hurt?"

"I believe it's my side--somewhere about the body, I know; but I'm so
stiff all over, that I can't tell exactly where.  Something hit me, and
I fell right down the hatchway; that's all I know about it until I found
myself in my hammock."

"Well, at all events, you won't be punished now for dropping the quid
into Mr Culpepper's mouth."

"No," replied Tommy, with a smile, in spite of his pain; "but I would
have played him a better trick than that if I had had any idea that we
should have been so soon in action.  I wish I could turn round, Keene--I
think I should be easier."

I turned poor Tommy in his hammock, and then left him.  I looked at the
son of the Dutch captain--he was slumbering; he was a very slight youth,
with very beautiful, but very feminine features.  I felt a kindness
towards him, poor fellow; for he had lost his father, and he was about
to pass his best years in prison.  But the boatswain's mates piped to
breakfast, and I hastened down into the berth to get my share of the
cocoa.

As soon as the men had finished their breakfast, the hands were again
turned up, the lower deck cleared and washed, new sails bent and the
guns properly secured; screens were put up round the half-deck where the
wounded were in their beds.  The dead were brought up and sewed up in
their hammocks, laid out on gratings, and covered with the ensign and
union jack, preparatory to their being committed to the deep.  Another
party was sent to assist on board of the prize, and the prisoners were
brought on board, and put down in the fore-hold, which had been cleared
for their reception.

By noon everything was so far ready that we were enabled to take the
prize in tow, and make sail on the Calliope, after which the men, who
were exhausted, went to dinner, and were permitted to sleep during the
remainder of the day until the evening, when the ship's company was
ordered up, and the dead were committed to the deep blue sea with the
usual ceremonies.

The breeze was steady but the water was smooth during the night, and
glad I was to throw myself on one of the lockers in the midshipmen's
berth, after so many hours of excitement.  I slept till four in the
morning, and finding the planks not quite so soft as they might be, I
then turned into the hammock of the midshipman of the morning watch, and
remained till six hells, when Bob Cross came down and told me that the
captain would soon be on deck.

"Well, Cross," said I, as I came on deck and went aft to look at the
prize in tow, "this is a nice business, and our captain will gain a
great deal of credit."

"And he deserves it, Master Keene," replied Cross: "as I said before, I
never had an idea that he could handle his ship so well--no, nor none of
the ship's company.  We all thought Mr Hippesley the best officer of
the two, but we have found out our mistake.  The fact is, Mr Keene,
Captain Delmar wraps himself an in his dignity like a cloak, and there's
no making him out, till circumstances oblige him to take it off."

"That's very true, Bob," replied I: "it is only this very morning that
he laughed himself, and I laughed also, and he pulled up immediately
afterwards, twice as stiff to me as before."

I then told Bob of Mr Culpepper's report, which amused him very much.

"I am sure that he is pleased with you, Mr Keene, and I must say that
you were very useful and very active."

"Do you know that the carpenter says that we have received injuries that
cannot be well repaired without the ship going into dock, and I should
not be surprised if we were to be sent home, if the survey confirms his
report.  I hope we shall; I am tired of the West Indies, and I should
like to see my mother; we have a nice breeze now, and we are two points
free.  If it lasts, we shall be at Jamaica in a fortnight or less."

The captain coming on deck put an end to our conversation.

Before night the prize had got up jury-masts, and sail set upon them,
and we went through the water more rapidly.  In ten days we arrived at
Port Royal with our prize.  The captain went on shore, and what was
still more agreeable, we got rid of all our prisoners and wounded men.
A survey, in consequence of the carpenter's report was held upon the
Calliope, and the result was, she was ordered home to be repaired.  The
Dort was commissioned by the admiral, and Mr Hippesley received an
acting order to the sloop of war, which had become vacant by the
commander of her being promoted into the Dort, which was now christened
the Curacao.

In ten days after our arrival we were ready, and made sail for Old
England.  Tommy Dott and the second lieutenant remained on board, and
were both convalescent before we entered the Channel.  Tommy Dott's
wound, by the bye, was a splinter in the back, added to severe bruises
from tumbling down the hatchway.

Captain Delmar had shown great kindness to the son of the Dutch captain
and he did not send him on shore with the rest of the prisoners, but
permitted him to remain, and come home in the Calliope.  He recovered
slowly, but was soon out of danger, and was walking about with his arm
in a sling long before we arrived in England.  It appeared to me that,
during the passage home, old Culpepper was not so much in the good
graces of Captain Delmar as he used to be; he was, however, more
obsequious than ever.  We had a fine run home, and in seven weeks from
our leaving Port Royal, we dropped our anchor at Spithead.

I may have been wrung, but it certainly did appear to me that as we
neared the coast of England, the behaviour of Captain Delmar was more
reserved to me (I may say it was harsher) than ever it had been before.
Hurt at treatment which I felt I did not deserve, I tried to analyse the
cause as I walked up and down the deck, and at last I decided that his
pride was again alarmed.  On the one hand he was returning to his own
country, to meet with his aristocratical connections, and on the other
he was reminded of my mother, and his _mesalliance_ with her--if such a
term can be used to a woman who had sacrificed herself to one above her
in rank.  At all events, I was the result of that connection, and I
presumed that he was ashamed of it, and consequently kept me at a
distance, and checked his feelings towards me.  Perhaps he thought that
my mother might be induced to disclose to me that which I had under his
own hand-writing, and wore next my heart; or he might consider I was no
longer a boy, but a tall young man, and one who might be induced to
claim his protection.  Such were my reflections, and my resolutions were
taken accordingly--I wanted no Bob Cross to counsel me now.

When the captain left the ship, I made no request, as did the other
midshipmen, for leave to see my friends; nor even when he returned on
board, which he did several times after the ship had gone into harbour,
and was stripping, preparatory to being docked.  One thing, however,
gave me great satisfaction, which was, that when the despatch which we
brought home was published, I found my name honourably mentioned in
conjunction with other officers, and but three midshipmen were named.

When the Calliope went into dock the report of the dockyard was very
unfavourable.  She required a thorough repair which would take some
months.  She was therefore ordered to be paid off.  In the mean time the
captain had gone to London.  During his sojourn at Portsmouth I had
never spoken to him, except on duty, and he had left me without a word
of explanation as to his intentions towards me.  As soon, however, as
the order came down for paying off the ship, I received a letter from
him, very cold and stiff, stating that I might, if I pleased, join any
other ship, and he would recommend me to the captain; or I might remain
on the books of the guard-ship, and wait until he commissioned another
vessel, when he would be happy to take me with him.

My reply was immediate.  I thanked him for his kindness, and hoped I
might remain on board the guard-ship until he took the command of
another vessel, as I did not wish to sail with any other captain.  I had
been brought forward by him in the service, and preferred waiting for
months rather than lose his kind protection.

The only reply to my letter was an order from the Admiralty, for me to
be discharged into the guard-ship when the Calliope was paid off.

I hardly need say that I had written and received letters from my
mother, who was delighted at my name being mentioned in the despatches;
but I will defer family news till the proper opportunity, as I must
first tell all that occurred in the Calliope before she was paid off.

The reader will recollect that the son of the Dutch captain, whose name
was Vangilt, had been permitted to come home in the ship, instead of
being sent to prison.  He and I were very intimate and when I discovered
that he was the cousin of Minnie Vanderwelt, I became more partial to
him.  He was very melancholy during the passage home; how, indeed, could
he be otherwise, with the prospect of being a prisoner during the
remainder of the war? and he often expressed his feelings on the
subject.

"Could you not escape?" said I, one evening.

"I fear not," replied he.  "If once out of prison, I have no doubt but
that I could get a conveyance over the Channel by means of the
smugglers; indeed, I have connections in England who would assist me."

When Captain Delmar went away to town, he had quite forgotten the poor
fellow, and Mr Weymss, who was the commanding officer, did not make any
special report of him as he thought he might defer it till the last
moment, as every day out of prison would be so much gained by young
Vangilt, who was a general favourite.

In this instance, my regard for the young man made me quite forget my
duty as an officer, and the Articles of War.  I knew that I was about to
do wrong; but I considered that, with so many thousand prisoners which
we had in England, one more or less could be of no consequence, and I
set to work to see if I could not effect his escape.

After much cogitation, I found I could do nothing without Bob Cross and
I consulted with him.  Bob shook his head, and said it was, he believed,
hanging matter; but, after all, it was a pity that such a nice lad
should be peeping between iron bars.  "Besides," continued he, "he lost
his father in the action, and he ought not to lose his liberty also.
Well, Mr Keene, show me how I can help you."

"Why, Bob there's a very pretty little girl, who very often comes
alongside with the old woman, and you go down into the boat and talk
with her."

"Yes, sir," replied Bob, "that's the little girl I told you of, that
used to repeat her fables on my knee.  The fact is, I hope to splice her
some of these days.  It's her mother who is with her, and she will not
let her come on board to mix with the other women, because she is good
and modest; too good for me, I'm afraid, in one sense of the word."

"How do you mean Bob?"

"Why, sir, when I first knew her, she and her mother were living upon
what they could earn, for the father was killed in action many years
ago, and I used to help them as far as I could; but now I find that,
although they are not changed, things are, most confoundedly.  Her uncle
lost his wife; he is considered a rich man, and being stone blind, and
having no one to take care of him after his wife's death, he sent for
this girl and her mother to keep his house and he is very fond of the
girl, and declares that he will leave her all his money, and that she
shall marry well.  Now, sir, if she was to marry me, a petty officer
only, it would not be considered that she married well; so you see, sir,
there's a hitch."

"Who and what was he?"

"He was a smuggler, sir, and a very successful one; he has six or seven
houses, all his own property besides the one he lives in himself.  He
lives about a quarter of a mile out of Gosport.  I know all about him,
although I have never seen him.  Soon after he left off smuggling, he
lost his eyesight, and, somehow or another, he considered it was a
judgment upon him--at least his wife, who had joined the Ranters,
persuaded him so--and so he took a religious turn, and now he does
nothing but pray, and call himself a poor blind sinner."

"Well, Bob, but I do not see why you should give up the girl."

"No, sir; nor will she or her mother give me up.  I could marry her
to-morrow without his consent, but I do not like to do her that injury."

"He is stone-blind, you say?"

"Yes, sir."

"We'll talk your affair over another time.  What I want at present is,
to help this poor young Vangilt to escape.  He says, that if once clear,
the smugglers would put him on the other side of the water.  Now, it
appears to me that it would be very easy for him to get out of the ship
unperceived, if he were dressed in woman's clothes, so many women are
going and coming all day long."

"Very true, sir, especially on pay-day, when nobody keeps any look-out
at all.  I see now, you want some of Mary's clothes for him; they would
fit very well."

"Exactly; and I think that, as her uncle had been a smuggler, we might
go and consult him as to his escape over the water.  Vangilt will pay
100 pounds with pleasure--he told me so.  That will be an introduction
for you as well as for me to the old fellow."

"I think we had better let the old fellow suppose it's a woman--don't
you, sir?  But what shall we call ourselves?"

"Why, I will be a sort of agent for ships, an you shall be a captain."

"A captain!  Mr Keene."

"Yes; a captain, who has had a ship, and expects another.  Why, you were
a captain of the fore-top before you were rated coxswain."

"Well, sir, I must consult Mary and her mother, and then I'll let you
know: they will come this afternoon.  Perhaps in helping Mr Vangilt, I
may help myself."

That night Bob Cross told me that Mary and her mother were quite willing
to assist, and that they thought it would be a very good introduction to
old Waghorn: that we must expect some religious scruples at first, but
we must persevere, and they had no doubt that the old man would contrive
to get the young man over to Cherbourg, or some other place on the other
side; that we had better call on him in the evening, and they would be
out of the way.

As soon as the work was over for the day, Bob Cross and I obtained
leave, and set off for Mr Waghorn's house.  We were met by Mary and her
mother, who pointed it out to us, and then continued their walk.  We
went to the door, and found the old man smoking his pipe.

"Who's there?" cried he, as we lifted the latch of the gate.

"Friends, sir," replied Cross; "two persons who come to talk on
business."

"Business!  I've no business--I've done with business long ago: I think
of nothing but my perishing soul--poor blind worm that I am."

He was a very fine-looking old man, although weather-beaten, and his
silver locks hung down on his collar; his beard was not shaved, but
clipped with scissors: his want of sight gave him a mournful look.

"Nevertheless, sir, I must introduce myself and my friend, the captain,"
replied I, "for we want your assistance."

"My assistance! poor blind beetle--how can I assist you?"

"The fact is, sir, that a young woman is very anxious to return to her
friends, on the other side of the water; and knowing that you have
acquaintance with those who run to and fro, we thought you might help
the poor young woman to a passage."

"That's to say, you've heard that I was a smuggler.  People do say so;
but, gentlemen, I now pay customs and excise--my tea has paid duty, and
so has my tobacco; so does everything--the king has his own.  The Bible
says, `Render under Caesar the things which are Caesar's.'  Gentlemen, I
stand by the Bible.  I am a poor, sinful old wretch--God forgive me."

"We ask nothing against the Bible, Mr Waghorn; it's our duty to assist
those who are in distress; it's only a poor young woman."

"A poor young woman.  If she's poor, people don't do such work for
nothing; besides, it's wrong, gentlemen--I've given up all that,--I've a
precious soul to look after, and I can't divert my attention from it.  I
wish you good-bye, gentlemen."

At this moment Mary and her mother returned, and we rose up.  "Mrs
James, is that you and Mary?  Here's a captain and his friend come to
me; but it's a fool's errand, and so I've told them."

I then stated to Mrs James what we had come for, and begged that she
would persuade Mr Waghorn.

"Well, Mr Waghorn, why won't you?--it's a good action, and will have
its reward in heaven."

"Yes; but she's a poor young woman, and can't pay her passage, so it's
no use."

"On the contrary," replied I, "the captain here will become security,
that 100 pounds shall be paid down as soon as she arrives in any part of
France or Holland."

"Will he?  But who's the captain?"

"I haven't a ship just now, but I expect one soon," replied Bob; "the
money shall be paid at once, if you will only receive the young woman
until she can be sent off."

"Well let me see--there's James Martin; no he won't do.  There's Will
Simpson; yes, that's the man.  Well, it's a good act; and, captain, when
will you bring the money?"

Now the ship was to be paid off on Wednesday and as we had each three
years' pay due, there was no difficulty about that; so I replied, "On
Wednesday, the captain will give the money to this lady, or whoever
comes with us to receive the young woman; will you not, Captain Cross?"

"Oh! certainly; the money is ready at an hour's notice," replied Bob.
"I'm sure that she'll pay me back, if she can; and if she can't, it's of
no consequence."

"Well, well, it's a bargain," replied the old man.  "I'm a poor blind
beetle, a sinful old soul; I've nothing to do but to make my peace with
Heaven.  It's charity--`Charity covereth a multitude of sins,' saith St.
Paul.  Recollect 100 pounds--that's the bargain.  I'll send Mrs James
to you; you must not call again till she's on the other side of the
water."

"Many thanks, sir," replied Bob.  "I won't call till I hear she is safe,
and then I'll bring you some tobacco to smoke, such as you don't often
pick up nowadays."

"Happy to see you, Captain Cross, and your friend there," replied the
old man.

We then took our leave.  Mrs James, after we were gone, praised the
appearance of Captain Cross, as such a nice-looking man, and old Waghorn
evidently thought well of him by the answer he made.  Mary, however,
pretended to prefer me.

As soon as I returned on board, I told young Vangilt what I had been
about.  He wrung my hand, and the tears started in his eyes.  "You, as
an officer, are indeed risking much for me.  As to the money, you know
me, I trust, too well, not to be sure of receiving it as soon as I can
send it; but I never can repay your kindness."

"Perhaps you may be able to help me one of these days," I replied.  "Who
knows?  It's fortune of war, my good fellow; but it's as well not to be
seen too much together."  So saying, I left him.

The next day, Mrs James came off with the necessary garments and bonnet
for his escape, and they were given me by Bob Cross.  The day after was
pay-day; and the ship was in such a state of confusion, and there were
so many people on board, that there was no difficulty whatever.  Vangilt
changed his clothes in the midshipmen's berth, which was empty, and Bob
Cross handed him down the side into the boat, where Mrs James waited to
receive him.  Bob and I had both been paid, and we gave her the 100
pounds for old Waghorn.  The boat shoved off; Vangilt arrived safe at
Waghorn's house, where he was kept concealed for eight days, when, for
the sum of 20 pounds, he was safely landed on the French coast, old
Waghorn having pocketed 80 pounds by the transaction which, considering
he acted out of pure charity, was a pretty good reward.

Having thus successfully managed, by being guilty of high treason, in
aiding and abetting the enemy, I bade farewell to Bob Cross, leaving him
to follow up his amour, while I went to Chatham to pay my respects to my
mother.  I had made up my mind how to act.  I was no longer a child, but
a man in reflection as well as appearance.

I arrived, and hastened to the house from which I had escaped so
mysteriously the last time I was in it.  My mother threw herself in my
arms, embracing me, and then looking at me with surprise and pleasure.
Three years and a half had changed me; she hardly knew me, for her
association of ideas had still pictured me as the smart stripling whom
she had, with so much anguish, consigned into the hands of Bob Cross.
She was proud of me--my adventures, my dangers, my conduct, and my
honourable mention in the Gazette, were all known to her, and she had
been evidently congratulated by many upon my successful career.  My
grandmother, who had grown much older in appearance, seemed to be
softened towards me, and I had sense enough to receive her advances with
great apparent cordiality.  My aunt and the captain were delighted to
see me, and I found that my two cousins, of whose appearance I had been
duly apprised, were very pretty children.  I found that my mother had
two assistants in her business and everything appeared to be on a
grander scale, and more flourishing than ever.

The first two or three days were devoted to narratives, communications,
explanations, and admirations, as is usually the case after so long an
absence; after which we quietly settled down in the relative positions
of mother and son, and she assumed, or rather would have assumed, her
control over me; but this was not my wish; I had made up my mind that,
although a clever woman, I must in future control her, and I took the
first opportunity of a long _tete-a-tete_ to let her know that such was
my intention.

Speaking of Captain Delmar, I at once told her that I knew he was my
father, and that I had his own handwriting to prove it.  She denied it
at first; but I told her that all denial was useless, that I had
possession of the letter he had written to her upon my supposed death,
and that it was no ghost, but I, who had frightened my grandmother.

This was my first blow, and a heavy one, to my poor mother; for what
woman can bear to be humiliated by her offspring being acquainted with
her indiscretion?  I loved my mother, and would fain have spared her
this pang, had it not been that all my future plans were based upon this
one point, and it was necessary she should aid and abet me in them.

My poor mother was bowed to the earth when she found that it was in vain
to deny my parentage; she covered her face with her hands in deep shame
before her child, but I consoled, and caressed, and told her (what I
really felt), that I was indebted to her for not being the son of a
private marine; that, at all events, I had noble blood in my veins, and
would prove myself worthy of my descent, whether it were acknowledged or
not; but from that hour I took the command over her--from that hour it
was I that dictated, and her authority as a parent was gone for ever.
Let it not be imagined that I treated her harshly; on the contrary, I
was more kind, and, before other people, more dutiful than ever I was
before.  She was my only confidant, and to her only did I explain the
reasons of my actions: she was my adviser, but her advice was not that
of a parent, but that of an humble, devoted, and attached friend; and
during the remainder of her days this position was never altered.

As soon as my mother had acknowledged the fact there was no longer any
reservation on my part.  I told her what was the conduct of Captain
Delmar towards me.  I pointed out his checking any display of paternal
feelings towards me, and also the certainty that I had that he was
partial to and proud of me.  I explained to her the line of conduct
which I had pursued, and was determined still to pursue, towards him.

"Percival," said my mother, "I see the judiciousness of what you say and
of your behaviour towards him; but allow me to ask you: What is the
object you are aiming at--I mean particularly aiming at?  Of course you
hope to obtain advancement from his interest, and perhaps, if he becomes
more attached to you, he may not forget you when he dies; but it appears
to me that you have something nearer to your heart than all this--tell
me, am I right?"

"You are, my dear mother; my great end is, that Captain Delmar should
acknowledge me as his son."

"I fear that he will never do that, Percival; nor, indeed, do I think
you would gain by it.  When you are more advanced in the world, your
parentage may be considered as obscure, but still, being born in
wedlock, it will be more respectable than the acknowledgment you would
seek from Captain Delmar.  You are not aware of the affronts you may
meet with by obtaining what you evidently wish; and once known as the
son of Captain Delmar, you may wish that it was never promulgated."

"I was born in wedlock, mother, as you say, and as many others are, who
now are peers of the realm, and in virtue of their being born in
wedlock, succeed to property to which they would otherwise not be
entitled.  Your shame (excuse me for using the word) and my disgrace are
equally covered by that wedlock, which is an answer to any accusations
of illegitimacy.  As to affronts, I do not fear them, or ever shall,
from those who know me.  I can defend and protect myself; but it is a
great difference to me to let the world suppose that I am the son of Ben
the marine, when I know myself to be the son of the future Lord de
Versely.  I wish to be acknowledged by Captain Delmar in such a way as
to convince the world that such is the fact, without the world being
able to throw it up in my face.  That is easily done if Captain Delmar
chooses to do it; and if done as it ought to be done, will lead to my
benefit.  At all events, it will satisfy my pride; for I feel that I am
not the son of your husband, but have blood boiling in my veins which
would satisfy the proudest aristocrat.  I prefer the half relation to
that class, such as it is, with all its penalties to being supposed to
be the son of the man whom, from prudential motives alone, you took to
be your husband."

"Well, Percival, I cannot blame you; and do not you, therefore, blame
your mother too much, when you consider that the same feeling was the
cause of her becoming your mother."

"Far from it my dear mother," replied I; "only let us now act in
concert.  I require your assistance.  Allow me to ask you one question--
Have you not realised a sufficient sum of money to enable you to retire
from our business?"

"I certainly have, my dear Percival, much more than is necessary for me
to live in comfort, and I may say, some little luxury; but I have
thought of you, and for your sake, every year, have continued to add to
my profits."

"Then, my dear mother, for my sake give up your business as soon as
possible; money is not my object."

"Tell me what your reasons are for this demand."

"My dear mother, I will be candid with you.  I wish you to retire from
business, and leave this place for any distant part of England; I wish
you to change your name, and, in one word, I wish Captain Delmar should
believe that you are dead."

"An why so, Percival?  I cannot see how that will benefit you; it was on
my account that he took charge of you.  You are not sure that he may not
be severed from you, and who knows but that my supposed death may
occasion him to desert you altogether?"

"You assist my cause, my dear mother, by what you say, if it is on your
account that Captain Delmar is my friend; and if as you say, he might
desert me when you are dead, or supposed to be so, it is evident that
his motive of action must be fear.  You have the secret of my birth,
which he supposes to be known only to you and to him.  I am convinced
that if you were supposed dead, and that the secret was his own, if he
thought that there was no proof whatever against him, he would then not
care showing towards me that regard which he is inclined to feel as a
father, and which is now checked by his pride.  Captain Delmar is
naturally of a kind and affectionate disposition--that I am sure of.
Your memory would do more for me than your existence ever can, and as
for the rest, leave that to me.  At all events, if he should, as I do
not believe he will, be inclined to throw me off, I have still his
written acknowledgment that I am his son, to make use of in case of
necessity.  Now, my dear mother, you must consent to do as I wish.  Give
up your business as soon as possible, and retire to another part of the
country.  When I consider it a proper time to do so, your death shall be
made known to him.  I have no doubt that he will be afloat again in a
few months, and when we are out of England I will bide the proper time."

"But your grandmother, Percival--must I tell her?"

"No; tell her only that you intend to retire from business and go away
from Chatham; say that you will in future reside in Devonshire, and ask
her to accompany you.  Depend upon it she will be pleased with your
intentions.  As to what we arrange relative to Captain Delmar, say
nothing to her--she hates his very name, and is not likely to talk about
him."

"Well, Percival you will allow me till to-morrow to think about it
before I give a decided answer."

"Certainly, my dear mother; I wish you so to do, as I am convinced that
you will agree with me; and I infinitely prefer that you should decide
on conviction, than be induced by maternal regard."

As I was well assured, my mother's decision was favourable to my wishes.
She consulted with my grandmother, who approved of her intentions, and
then it was made public that Mrs Keene intended to retire from
business, and that the good-will was to be disposed of along with the
stock.  My aunt Milly and Captain Bridgeman appeared well content that
my mother should take the step which she proposed.  In short, all the
family approved of the measure, which is not a very usual circumstance
in this world.  I now employed myself in assisting my mother in her
affairs.  In a month we found a purchaser of the stock and good-will,
and when the sum paid was added to my mother's former accumulations, she
found herself possessed of 12,000 pounds in the Three per Cents, the
interest of which, 360 pounds, was more than sufficient for her living
comfortably in Devonshire, especially as my grandmother had still
remaining an income very nearly amounting to 200 pounds per annum.

In another month everything was arranged, and my mother bade farewell to
her sister and all her friends, and left Chatham, after having resided
there more than seventeen years.

Long before my mother had removed from Chatham I received a letter from
young Vangilt, announcing his safe arrival in Amsterdam, and enclosing
an order to receive the money advanced, from a house in London.  His
letter was very grateful, but, as I had cautioned him, not one word was
in it which could implicate me, had it fallen into other hands.

I may as well here observe, that in the hurry of paying off the ship,
Vangilt was never missed, and although it did occur to the commanding
officer after he had gone on shore that Mr Vangilt had not been sent to
prison, he thought it just as well not to raise a question which might
get himself into a scrape; in short, nothing was thought or said about
it by anybody.

A few days before my mother quitted Chatham I went up to London to
receive the money, and then went to Portsmouth to repay the portion
belonging to Bob Cross.  I found that Bob had made good use of his time,
and that the old smuggler now received him as a suitor to his niece.

As however, Mary was still very young--not yet seventeen--and Bob had
acknowledged that he had not laid by much money as yet, the old man had
insisted that Bob Cross should get another ship, and try a voyage or two
more before he was spliced; and to this arrangement both the mother and
Mary persuaded him to consent.  I went to call upon them with Bob, and
did all I could, without stating what was not true, to give the old man
a favourable opinion of Cross.  I even went so far as to say that if he
could not procure another vessel, I was ready to put down a sum of money
to assist him; and so I was; and had it been requisite, I have no doubt
but that my mother would have advanced it; but Bob, a fine seaman, not
yet thirty years old, was always sure of a ship--that is, a man-of-war.
To save himself from impressment, Cross had dressed himself in long
toggery as a captain of a merchant vessel, and was believed to be such.

Having satisfied myself that everything went on favourably in that
quarter, I again returned to Chatham, that I might escort my mother and
grandmother into Devonshire.  We bade farewell to my aunt and Captain
Bridgeman, and set off for London, where we remained a few days at an
hotel, and then took the day coach down to Ilfracombe, where my mother
had decided upon taking up her future residence, changing her name to
Ogilvie, which had been my grandmother's maiden name.

Ilfracombe was then a beautiful retired spot, and well suited to my
mother from its cheapness: with their joint incomes, my grandmother and
she could command anything they wished.  We soon hired a very pretty
little cottage _ornee_, ready furnished, as my mother would not furnish
a house until she had ascertained whether there were no drawbacks to the
locality.  I ought to observe, that my grandmother now appeared quite as
partial to me as she had before been otherwise.  I treated her with
great respect.

Although it was not difficult to obtain a renewal of leave from a
guard-ship, after I had remained six weeks with my mother, it was
necessary that I should make my appearance at Portsmouth.  It was
arranged that I should take my departure for Portsmouth in three days,
when, on reading the Plymouth newspaper, I learnt that the
newly-launched frigate Manilla, of 44 guns, was put in commission, and
that the Honourable Captain Delmar had come down and hoisted his
pennant.  This, of course, changed my plans.  I resolved to set off for
Plymouth, and wait upon Captain Delmar.  I wrote to Bob Cross, enclosing
an order for my chest and bedding on board of the guard-ship at
Portsmouth, acquainting him with my intention, but requesting him not to
act until he heard from me again.

I had a long conversation with my mother, from whom I obtained a renewal
of her promise to abide and act by my instructions.  I took a respectful
farewell of my grandmother, who gave me 100 pounds, which I did not
want, as my mother had given me a similar sum, and then set off for
Plymouth.

The reader may perhaps inquire how it was that Captain Delmar--as he had
promised to pay my expenses--had not made any offer of the kind, or
communicated with me on the subject?  But the fact was, that he knew I
had three years' pay due, besides the prize-money for the Dutch frigate,
which, however, I had not yet received, although it was payable.  In
pecuniary matters I was certainly well off, as my mother desired that I
would draw for any money that I required, feeling convinced that, being
aware of her circumstances, I should not distress her by any
extravagancies in that she did me justice.

I was now eighteen years old, and just starting again on my career.  As
I grew up, my likeness to Captain Delmar became more remarkable every
day.  My mother could not help observing it even to me.  "I almost wish
that it was not so, my dear mother.  I fear it will be the cause of
annoyance to Captain Delmar; but it cannot be helped.  At all events, it
must satisfy him, allowing that he has any doubt (which I am sure he has
not), that I am his own child."

"That I believe to be quite unnecessary," replied my mother with a deep
sigh.

"I should think so too, my dear mother," replied I, caressing her
kindly.  "At all events, I will prove, whether I ever obtain it or not,
that I am not unworthy of the name of Delmar: but I must wait no
longer--the coach is about to start.  Adieu, and may God bless you."

On my arrival at Plymouth--or Plymouth Dock, as Devonport was then
called--I inquired at which hotel Captain Delmar had taken up his
quarters.  It was the one to which I had intended to have gone myself;
but I immediately had my luggage taken to another, for I really believe
that Delmar would have considered it a great liberty for any one of his
officers to presume, to lie down in the same caravanserai as himself.
The next morning I sent up my name and was admitted.

"Good morning, Mr Keene," said the captain.  "I presume that you have
come down to request to join my ship, and I therefore consent before you
make the request.  I trust you will always show the same zeal and
deference to your officers that you did in the Calliope.  You have grown
very much, and are now a young man.  I shall give you the rating of
mate, and I trust you will not do discredit to my patronage."

"I trust not, Captain Delmar," replied I.  "I have but one wish in the
world, which is to please you, who have so befriended me from my
boyhood.  I should be very ungrateful if I did not do my duty with zeal
and fidelity; I am indebted to you for everything, and I am aware I must
look to you for every future prospect.  I have to thank you, sir, for
your great kindness in publishing my name in the public Gazette."

"You deserved it, Mr Keene, and it certainly will be of great advantage
to you when you have served your time.  Has your time gone on since the
Calliope was paid off?"

"Yes, sir; I am still on the books of the Salvadore?"

"How much time have you served?"

"Nearly four years and a half, sir."

"Well, the rest will soon be over; and if you do your duty, my patronage
shall not be wanting."

Here there was a bow on my part, and a pause, and I was backing out with
another bow, when the captain said, "How is your mother, Mr Keene?"

"She has been advised to retire from business, and to settle in the
country," replied I, mournfully; "her health is such, that--" Here I
stopped, as I preferred deceiving him by implication, or rather allowing
him to deceive himself.

"I am sorry to hear that," replied he; "but she never was strong as a
young woman."  Here the captain stopped, as if he had said too much.

"No, sir," replied I; "when in the service of Mrs Delmar she could not
be put to anything that required fatigue."

"Very true," replied the captain.  "You may go on board, Mr Keene, and
desire my clerk to make out a letter, requesting your discharge from the
Salvadore into the Manilla.  Do you require anything?"

"No, sir, I thank you.  I need not trespass on your generosity just now.
Good morning, sir."

"Good morning, Mr Keene."

"I beg your pardon Captain Delmar," said I, as I held the door ajar;
"but should you like Robert Cross, your former coxswain, should join you
in the same capacity?  I know where he is."

"Yes, Mr Keene, I should like to have him: he was a steady, good man.
You will oblige me by writing to him, and requesting him to join
immediately.  Where is he?"

"At Portsmouth, Captain Delmar."

"Very well; tell him to come round as fast as he can.  By the bye, you
will have two of your old messmates--Mr Smith, the master, and Mr
Dott.  I hope the latter is a little more steady than he was.  I was in
hopes to have had your old acquaintance, Mr Culpepper, with us; but he
died about six weeks back--a fit, or something of that kind."

"Thank heaven for that," thought I.  Again I made my most respectful
bow, and quitted the room.

I returned to my own hotel, and sitting down, I began to reflect upon
the interview.  I recalled all that had passed, and I made up my mind
that I was right in preparing him for the report of my mother's death:
his reception of me was all that I could have expected from him--it was
cordial; but my blood boiled when I called to mind that he had only made
a casual inquiry after my mother, as I was leaving the room; and then
his checking himself because he had inadvertently said that she was not
strong when she was a young woman.  "Yes," thought I; "he cannot bear
the remembrance of the connection; and it is only for myself, and not
from any natural affection of a parent, that he cares for me; or if he
does care for me as his son, it is because I have his blood in my veins;
and he despises and looks down upon the mother.  I am sure that he will
be anything but sorry to hear that my mother is dead, and he shall be
gratified.  I will now write to her."

I could not help observing that there was some change in the appearance
of Captain Delmar.  Strange to say, he looked more youthful; and as I
compared our two faces in the mirror on the mantel-piece behind him,
when I stood up, he appeared more like me in appearance than ever.  What
was it?  "Oh!" thought I, "I have it.  His hair is no longer mixed with
grey: he must wear a wig."  This was the fact, as I afterwards
ascertained; the colour of his wig was, however, much darker than my own
hair.

By the same post I wrote to Bob Cross, acquainting him with what had
passed, and begging him to come round by the first water conveyance, and
bring my chest and bedding with him.  I then walked down to the dockyard
to have a look at the Manilla, which was, as I had heard, a splendid
vessel; went up again to order a mate's uniform, and returned to the
hotel.  It was useless going to the ship at that time, as the marines
and boys had only been drafted into her that morning; and there was
nothing to do until she was clear of the shipwrights, who were still on
board of her, and employed in every part of her.  The first lieutenant
had not yet come down.  The master was the only officer who had joined,
and he had hoisted the pennant.  I was delighted to find that he was to
sail with us; and we passed that evening together.

During the evening the master said, "I hear there are plenty of good men
stowed away by the crimps at different places.  I wish we could only
find out where they are, and get hold of them.  I fear, if we do not, we
shall either be badly manned in haste from the Tower tender, or have to
wait a long while before we sail.  Now, Keene, don't you think you could
manage so as to get us some men?"

"I've got one already," replied I: "Bob Cross, the captain's coxswain."

"And a real good one too," replied the master; "the best helmsman we had
in the Calliope.  You and he were very thick together."

"Yes," replied I: "when I came on board, a mere lad, he was very kind to
me, and I am very partial to him in consequence."

That night after the master and I had parted, I thought over the
question he had put to me, as to obtaining good seamen for the ship, and
I made up my mind that I would wait till Cross arrived, and consult with
him as to a project which I had in my head.  In the mean time I went to
a slop-shop by the dockyard wall, and provided myself with a common
sailor's toggery, of the real cut, with a banyan covered hat, and all
complete.  Three days afterwards Cross joined me, having found a passage
round in a cutter; and as soon as I had talked over his affairs, I
proposed my plan to him, in which he heartily coincided.

That I did this to please the captain is certain: I had no other view.
It was necessary, however, that I obtained the captain's permission, and
I went to him and explained my ideas.  The captain was too willing to
let me try it, and thanked me for my zeal.

"Go on board, Mr Keene, and tell them I have given you six weeks' leave
of absence, and then you can do as you propose."

I did so, for it was absolutely necessary that as few as possible should
be acquainted with what I was about, as I ran a great risk.  I have no
hesitation in saying that I should have been made away with by the
crimps, had they discovered me.

I dressed myself as a common seaman, darkened my face, and dirtied
myself a little, especially on the hands, and Bob Cross and I then went
at night into one of the low public houses, with which the town is
filled; there we pretended to be much alarmed lest we should be pressed,
and asked for a back-room to smoke and drink in.  We called in the
landlord, telling him we were second mates of vessels, and not secure
from the impress; that we never were at Plymouth before, our ships
having put in damaged, and that the crew were discharged; and asked if
there was no safe place where we could be stowed until we could find
another vessel ready to start.

He replied, that there was a house at Stonehouse where we could be quite
safe; but that, of course, we must pay the crimps well for our board and
lodging and that they would find us a ship when we wished to go; and
further, that we must give him something handsome for taking us there.
To this we agreed, and at midnight we set off in company with our
landlord, each of us carrying our bundles, and in less than an hour
arrived at a sort of farm-house detached from the road.

After a short parley we obtained entrance, and were taken into a small
room where the crimp inquired of us what money we had, and then told us
what his charges were.  The reason of his doing this was, because if we
had no money, or very little, he would have disposed of us very soon by
sending us on board of some ship, and obtaining an advance of our wages
from the captain as his indemnification; but if we had plenty of money,
he would then keep us as long as he could that he might make his profit
of us; his charges were monstrous, as may be supposed, and we had
replied that we had very little money.  We contrived to look as careless
and indifferent as we could, agreed to everything, paid the landlord of
the pothouse a guinea each for taking us to the house, and were then
ushered into a large room, where we found about twenty seamen sitting at
a long table, drinking, and playing cards and dominoes.

They did not appear to notice us, they were so busy either playing or
looking on.  Cross called for a pot of ale, and we sat down at the
farther end of the table.

"What a dislike the men must have to the press," said Cross to me, "when
they submit to be mured up here in prison."

"Yes, and cheated by such a scoundrel as the crimp appears to be."

"Don't talk so loud, Jack," replied Cross; for I had insisted upon his
calling me Jack, "lest we should be overheard."

We then asked to go to bed, and were shown by the crimp into a room
which had about fourteen beds in it.

"You may take your choice of those five," said he, pointing to five
nearest the door: "I always come up and take away the candle."

As we found some of the other beds occupied, we did not resume our
conversation, but went to sleep.

The next morning we found that we mustered about thirty-five, many of
the more steady men having gone to bed before we arrived.  After
breakfast, Cross and I each entered into conversation with a man, and
pumped them very cleverly.  Our chief object was, to ascertain the
houses of the other crimps, and, as the men knew most of them, having
invariably resorted to them at the end of their voyages, we obtained the
locality of five or six, all apparently public-houses, but having back
premises for the concealment of seamen: all these were carefully noted
down.

As we became more intimate, the seamen, who were glad to talk, from
weariness of confinement, asked us many questions.  We said that we had
deserted from a man-of-war, and then a hundred questions were asked us
as to our treatment.  I allowed Bob Cross to be spokesman, and his
replies were very sensible.  He told them that all depended upon what
sort of captains and first lieutenants were on board; that he had been
pressed twice: the first time he was comfortable enough, and made 200
pounds prize-money in eight months; but in the last man-of-war he was
very uncomfortable, and had therefore cut and run.  Altogether, he made
the service appear much more favourable than they supposed, although the
crimp, who had stood by, did all he could to persuade the men to the
contrary.

We remained in this house for more than a week, and then declared that
we had no more money, and must find a ship.  The crimp said that he had
a berth for one of us as second mate of a brig, and I agreed to take it,
leaving Bob Cross to get a berth for himself as soon as he could.  As I
raid up, there was no demand upon the owners of the vessel, and it was
arranged that I should be down at a certain wharf at three o'clock in
the morning, when I should find a boat waiting for me.  I waited up with
Bob Cross until the clock had struck two, and then the crimp let me out.
He did not offer to go down with me, as he had no money to receive;
and, as it was pitch-dark, there was little chance of my being picked up
by a press-gang at that hour.  I wished Cross good-bye, and set off for
Plymouth Dock with my bundle on my stick.

Not knowing where to go at such an hour, I walked about to see if I
could perceive a light in any house: I did so at last through the chinks
of the shutters of a small ale-house, and tapped at the door; it was
opened, I was ushered in, and the door closed immediately upon me.  I
found myself in the presence of several marines with their side-arms,
and seamen with cutlasses.  An officer started up from his seat, and
collaring me said, "You're just the fellow we want.  We're in luck
to-night."  In fact, I was in the hands of a press-gang, and I was
pressed myself.

"Yes, he'll do: he'll make a capital maintop-man," said a midshipman,
getting up and surveying me.

I looked at him, and perceived my old acquaintance Mr Tommy Dott, grown
a great deal taller; I perceived that he did not recognise me.  "But,
sir," said I to the officer of the party, who was so disguised that I
could not tell his rank, "suppose I belong to a man-of-war already?"

"That you do not; or if you do, you must be a deserter, my good fellow;
that is evident by your stick and bundle.  Now sit down and drink some
beer, if you like; you are going to serve in a fine frigate--you may as
well make yourself comfortable, for we shall not go on board yet, for
this hour."

I determined to keep up my _incognito_, as it amused me.  I sat down,
and it then occurred to me that my not going on board of the vessel
might lead to an explanation with the crimp, and that an alarm might be
created and the men dispersed in consequence.  There were still two
hours to daylight, and if I could take up the press-gang, we might
secure all the men in the house before the dawn of day.

As I had just made up my mind to act, there was a stamping of feet
outside and a knock at the door.  When it was opened, another portion of
the press-gang, headed by another officer, entered.  I counted heads,
and found that they mustered thirty hands--quite sufficient, as they
were armed, to secure all my late companions.  I therefore went up to
the officer, and begged to speak with him aside.

I then told him that I had just come from a crimp's house near
Stonehouse, where I left in their beds thirty-five as fine men as ever
walked a plank, and that, as I was pressed myself, I did not mind
telling him where they were, and he could take them all.

The officer curled up his lip, as if to say, "You're a pretty scoundrel
to betray your companions," but immediately resolved to act upon it.
Without stating his intentions, he ordered all the men out, and putting
me between two marines, so as to prevent my escaping, I was desired to
lead on.  I did so, and we proceeded in silence until we arrived near to
the house.  I then pointed out to the officer that it must be
surrounded, or the men would escape, and that it must be done very
carefully, as there was a large dog which would be sure to give the
alarm.  My advice was attended to, and when all the men were at their
stations, the whole advanced slowly towards the house.  The dog
commenced baying, as I had foreseen, and shortly afterwards the crimp
put his head out of a window, and perceived that the press-gang were
below.  But all attempts to force an entrance were in vain, every window
below, and the doors, being secured with iron bars.

"Is there no way of getting into this den?" said the officer to me.

"Why sir, I'll try."

As Bob Cross had given another name, I knew that I risked nothing in
calling out his, and I therefore requested the officer to impose
silence, and when it was obtained, I cried out, "Bob Cross!  Bob Cross!!
Where's Bob Cross?"

After that, I went to the small door at the side of the house, which led
to the homestead, and again cried out, "Bob Cross!--where's Bob Cross?"

I then told the officer that we must wait patiently, and that if it was
daylight before we got in, all the better.

About ten minutes after that, as I remained at the small door, I heard
the bars quietly removed; I then requested the officer to attempt to
force the small door, and it yielded almost immediately to their
efforts.

"Now, sir, leave a guard at the other door, that they may not open it,
and escape by it, also five or six hands to catch any who may jump out
of the upper windows, and then enter with the rest of your party."

"You know what you are about, at all events," said he, giving the
directions which I had pointed out, and then entering with the remainder
of his party, with the exception of one marine that held me by the arm,
with his bayonet drawn.

The scuffle within was very severe, and lasted for many minutes: at
last, the armed force, although not so numerous, prevailed, and one by
one, the men were brought out, and taken charge of by the marines, until
the whole of them were discovered in their retreats, and secured.

Day now dawned, and it was time to be off.  To make more secure, the
pressed men were lashed two and two, with small rope, which had been
provided on purpose.  Bob Cross, who, of course, had not mixed in the
affray, gave me a nod of recognition, and we set off as fast as the men
could be persuaded to move; certainly not a very gay procession, for
although the wounds were not dangerous, there was scarcely one of the
party, amounting in all to upwards of sixty men, who was not bleeding.
Hardly a word was exchanged.  We were all put into the boats, and rowed
off to the hulk appropriated to the crew of the frigate, until she was
rigged, and as soon as we were on board, we were put below under the
charge of sentries.

"What! you here?" said some of the pressed men.

"Yes," replied I: "they picked me up as I went to ship myself last
night."  The crimp, who had been brought on board with the others, then
started forward.  "It is he who has blown upon us; I'll swear to it."

"You may swear if you please," replied I; "that will do you no good, and
me no harm."

The crimp talked with the other men, and then indignation was levelled
against me.  Most of them swore they would be even with me, and have my
life if they could; indeed, they could hardly be prevented laying hands
upon me; but Bob Cross told the sentry, and he interfered with his
bayonet; notwithstanding which, fists continued to be shook in my face,
and vengeance threatened every minute.

"I told you, my lads," said Bob Cross, "that I have been on board of a
man-of-war before this, and you'd better mind what you're about, or
you'll repent it; at all events, if one of you touches him, you'll have
five dozen lashes at the gangway before to-morrow morning."

This made the poor fellows more quiet; most of them lay down, and tried
to sleep off their misery.

"Why don't you make yourself known, Mr Keene?" said Cross to me, in a
whisper: "I saw the master go on the quarterdeck just now."

"I think I had better not: there are more houses to examine, and if my
trick was known, it would soon get wind from the women, and I should be
waylaid, and perhaps murdered by the crimps.  The captain will be on
board by ten o'clock, I have no doubt, and then I will contrive to see
him, somehow or another."

"But you could trust the master--why not see him?"

"I'll think of it--but there's no hurry."

I was afraid that Tommy Dott would have discovered me, and I kept out of
his way as much as I could.

"I'll tell you what, sir--as I've not joined the ship, why not let it be
supposed that I am impressed with the other men, and then I can send for
Mr Dott and make myself known?  The commanding officer will, of course,
send for me, and I will enter, and then I shall be allowed to go about,
and can speak to the captain when he comes on board."

"Well, that is not a bad idea.  Talk to the sentry."

"Who's the captain of this ship, sentry?" said Bob Cross.

"Captain Delmar."

"Delmar!--why, he's my old captain.  Did not I see a Mr Dott, a
midshipman?"

"Yes there is a Mr Dott on board."

"Well, I wish you would just pass the word to Mr Dott, to say that one
of the pressed men wishes to speak to him."

The sentry did so, and Mr Dott came down.

"How d'ye do, Mr Dott?" said Bob Cross, while I turned away.

"What Cross, is that you?  Are you dressed?"

"Yes, sir, can't be helped.  I'm glad I'm to sail with you, sir.  What's
become of Mr Keene?"

"Oh, I don't know; but if he's not hanged by this time, I believe that
he's to join the ship."

"Won't I pull your ears for that?" thought I.

"What other officers have we of the Calliope, sir?"

"There's the master, Mr Smith, and the surgeon."

"Well, Mr Dott, one must always make a virtue of necessity.  Tell Mr
Smith that I shall enter for the ship; and I'll put my name down at
once, instead of being penned up here."

"That's right, Cross; and I say, you chaps, you'd better follow a good
example.  Sentry, let this man go with me."

Bob Cross then went with Tommy Dott, and entered for the service.  The
master was very glad to see him again and said, "Why, Cross, Mr Keene
said that you had promised him to join us."

"Why, sir, so I had; but it's a long story.  However, it's all the same
in the end: here I am, and I hope I shall get my old rating."

Soon after, Bob Cross came down and said, "Well, my lads, I'm free now,
and I advise you all to do the same.  Come, Jack," said he to me, "what
d'ye say?"

"No, no," replied I.  "I won't unless all the rest do."

Bob then took me on one side, and told me what had taken place, and
asked me what he should say to the captain.  I told him, and then he
left us.

At ten o'clock the captain came on board.  Bob Cross went up to him and
said he wished to say something to him in the cabin.  He followed the
captain down, and then explained to him that I was among the pressed men
but as a means of obtaining plenty more men, I had remained among them,
and had not made myself known, for fear my trick should get wind; also
that I thought the crimp should be kept on board, although he was of no
use as a seaman.

"Mr Keene has behaved very prudently," replied Captain Delmar.  "I
understand his motives--leave the rest to me."

A few minutes after Bob had communicated to me what the captain had
said, the pressed men were ordered up, and ranged along the
quarter-deck.  A finer set of men I never saw together: and they all
appeared to be, as they afterwards proved to be prime seamen.  The
captain called them one by one and questioned them.  He asked them to
enter, but they refused.  The crimp begged hard to be released.  Their
names were all put down on the ship's book together.

The captain, turning to me--for I had stood up the last of the row--
said, "I understand the officer of the impress agreed to release you if
you would tell him where your comrades were.  I don't like losing a good
man, but still I shall let you go in consequence of the promise being
made.  There, you may take a boat and go on shore."

"Thank your honour," replied I.  I went to the gangway immediately; but
I never shall forget the faces of the pressed men when I passed them:
they looked as if I had a thousand lives, and they had stomach enough to
take them all.

I went on shore immediately, and going to my hotel, washed the colour
and dirt off my face, dressed myself in my mate's uniform, and went to
the hotel where the captain lived.  I found that he had just come on
shore, and I sent up my name, and I was admitted.  I then told the
captain the information which we had received with regard to nine or ten
more houses, and that I thought I might now go on board, and never be
recognised.

"You have managed extremely well," replied Captain Delmar; "we have made
a glorious haul: but I think it will be better that you do not go on
board; the press-gang shall meet you every night, and obey your orders."
I bowed, and walked out of the room.

The next night, and several subsequent ones, the press-gang came on
shore, and, from the information I had received, we procured in the
course of a fortnight more than two hundred good seamen.  Some of the
defences were most desperate: fort as one crimp's house after another
was forced, they could not imagine how they could have been discovered;
but it put them all on their guard; and on the last three occasions the
merchant seamen were armed and gave us obstinate fights; however,
although the wounds were occasionally severe, there was no loss of life.

Having expended all my knowledge, I had nothing more to do than go on
board, which I did, and was kindly received by the master and the other
officers, who had been prepossessed in my favour.  Such was the
successful result of my plan.  The crimp we did not allow to go on
shore, but discharged him into a gun-brig, the captain of which was a
notorious martinet; and I have no doubt, being aware of his character
and occupation, that he kept his word, when he told Captain Delmar that
he would make the ship a hell to him--"and sarve him right too," said
Bob Cross, when he heard of it; "the money that these rascals obtain
from the seamen, Mr Keene, is quite terrible; and the poor fellows,
after having earned it by two or three years' hard work, go to prison in
a crimp-house to spend it, or rather to be swindled out of it.  It is
these fellows that raise such reports against the English navy, that
frighten the poor fellows so; they hear of men being flogged until they
die under the lash, and all the lies that can be invented.  Not that the
masters of the merchant vessels are at all backward in disparaging the
service, but threaten to send a man on board a man-of-war for a
punishment, if he behaves ill--that itself is enough to raise a
prejudice against the service.  Now, sir, I can safely swear that there
is more cruelty and oppression--more ill-treatment and more hard work--
on board of a merchantman, than on board any man-of-war.  Why so?
Because there is no control over the master of a merchant vessel, while
the captain of a man-of-war is bound down by strict regulations, which
he dare not disobey.  We see many reports in the newspapers of the
ill-treatment on of merchant vessels; but for one that is made known,
ninety-nine are passed over; for a seaman has something else to do than
to be kicking his heels at a magistrate's office; and when he gets clear
of his vessel, with his pay in his pocket, he prefers to make merry and
forget his treatment, to seeking revenge.  I say again, sarve that crimp
right, and I hope that he'll get a lash for every pound which he has
robbed from the poor seamen."

I may as well inform the reader that, as it is mostly the case after the
men have been impressed, nearly the whole of them entered the service;
and when, some time afterwards, they ascertained that it was I that had
tricked them, so far from feeling the ill-will towards me that they had
on their first coming on board, they laughed very much at my successful
plan, and were more partial to me than to any other of the officers.

Our frigate was now well manned, and nearly ready for sea.  I wrote to
my mother, enclosing the heads of a letter to her which she should send
to Captain Delmar, and in a day or two I received an answer, with a copy
of what she had sent.  It was to the effect that I was now going away
for the second time, and that it was possible she might never see me or
Captain Delmar again; that she wished him success and happiness, and
begged him, in case she should be called away, not to forget his
promises to her, or what she had undergone for his sake; but she trusted
entirely to him, and that he would watch over me and my interests, even
more out of regard to her memory, than if she were alive to support my
claims upon him.

The letter was given to Captain Delmar when he was on the quarter-deck,
and he went with it down below.  He came on deck shortly afterwards.  I
looked at him but did not perceive that he was in any way put out or
moved by its reception.  Claims for past services, whether upon the
country or upon individuals, are seldom well received; like the payment
of a tavern bill, after we have done with the enjoyments, we seem
inclined to cavil at each separate item--_ainsi va le monde_.

It was reported down at Mutton Cove, that our ship, which sailed with
sealed orders was to be sent to the West Indies.  This the captain did
not expect or wish, as he had had enough of the tropics already.  When
he, however, opened his orders, it was found that Mutton Cove was
correct, and the captain's instructions were, to seek the admiral of the
station with all possible dispatch.

We carried sail day and night, and as the Manilla proved a remarkably
fast sailer, we were very soon in Carlisle Bay, Barbadoes, where we
found the admiral and six sail of the line, and a few smaller vessels.
As soon as the despatches were opened by the admiral, our signal, as
well as that of all the smaller vessels, was made, and before the
evening we had spread our canvas in every direction, being sent to
recall the whole of the disposable force to rendezvous at Carlisle Bay.
We knew that something was in the wind, but what, we had no idea of.
Our orders were to proceed to Halifax, and we had a quick passage.  We
found two frigates there, and we gave them their instructions; and then,
having remained only twenty-four hours, we all made sail together for
Barbadoes.

On our arrival there, we round the bay crowded with vessels:
twenty-eight sail of pennants and a fleet of transports, containing ten
thousand troops.  Three days afterwards the signal was made to weigh,
and the whole fleet stood out from Carlisle Bay, it being now well known
that the capture of the island of Martinique was the object of the
expedition.  On the third day we arrived off the island, and our troops
were disembarked at two points, expecting to meet with strong
opposition.  Such, however, to our surprise, was not the case.  It
appeared that the militia of the island, being composed of slaves, and
who were sent to oppose us, did not consider that slavery was worth
fighting for quite as well as liberty, and therefore very quietly walked
home again, leaving the governor and regular troops to decide the
question as to whether the island was for the future to belong to the
French or English.  But the two following days there was some hard
fighting, and our troops, although they advanced, had a severe loss.
The French retired from the advanced posts to Fort Dessaix, and we
obtained possession of the fort on Point Salamon.

The next point to be attacked was Pigeon Island, and there the navy were
called into action; we had to get the carronades and mortars up a hill
almost inaccessible; we did it, much to the surprise of the troops, who
could hardly believe it when the battery opened fire.  After a brisk
cannonading of ten hours, Pigeon Island surrendered, and then the
admiral stood into, and anchored the fleet in Fort Royal Bay; not,
however, in time to prevent the French from setting fire to the frigates
which were in the harbour.  A few days after, the town of St. Pierre and
the town of Fort Royal surrendered, and Fort Dessaix only held out.  For
more than a week we were very busy constructing batteries and landing
cannon and mortars; and when all was ready, the bombardment of Fort
Dessaix commenced, and five days afterwards the French capitulated, and
the island was formally surrendered to the English.

I have hurried over the capture, as it has oftentimes been described in
detail.  All I can say is, that it was very hard work for the seamen,
and that they had their full share of the fatigue; but, from the
peculiar nature of the service, an affair took place which was of much
importance to me.  I said before that the sailors were employed in the
hard duty of getting the guns, etcetera, on shore, and up to where the
batteries were to be erected--in short, working like slaves in the heat
of the sun, while the troops remained quiet investing the fort.  There
was no objection raised to this, and the seamen worked very willingly;
but the staff and mounted officers of the army, who rode to and fro
giving orders, were not quite as civil as they might be--that is, some
of them; and a certain feeling of dissension and ill-will was created in
consequence.

The junior officers of the navy, and the lieutenants who could be spared
to direct the labour of the seamen on shore, received occasionally very
harsh language from some of the military officers, and did not fail to
give very prompt replies to those who they did not consider had any
right to control them.  Complaints were made to the captains of the
men-of-war, and, on being investigated, the result generally was, that
the captains defended their officers, and the military gentlemen
obtained no redress.  The active service, however, did not admit of any
notice being taken of it at the time; but after the island had
surrendered, these unfortunate animosities were resumed.

A few days after the capture of the island, the prisoners and troops
were embarked an the fleet sailed, a sufficient garrison being left upon
the island for its defence.  The admiral also thought proper to leave
two or three men-of-war in the harbour, and our frigate was one.  For
the first few days everything went on smoothly.  The French inhabitants
were soon on good terms with us, and balls and parties had commenced;
but the seamen and soldiers, when they met at the liquor-stores, began
to quarrel as to which branch of the service had done most towards the
taking the island.  This will always be the case with people so addicted
to intoxication.  Several severe wounds were received in the various
skirmishes which took place, and at last the seamen were interdicted
from going on shore.  Indeed, as they were not armed, and the soldiers
carried their bayonets, it was too unequal a contest when an affray took
place; but the ill-will spread, and at last arrived to the superior
officers.

The consequence was, that a challenge was given to one of the captains
of the frigates by an adjutant.  It was accepted; but not an hour after
it was accepted, the captain was taken with a fever, and on the morning
of the following day, when the duel was to have taken place, he was not
able to quit his bed; and the military gentlemen, on arriving at the
ground, found an excuse instead of an antagonist.  Whether it was really
supposed that the fever was a mere excuse to avoid the duel, or that the
animosity prevailing gave rise to the report, certain it is, that there
were many sneers on the part of the military men, and great indignation
on the tart of the naval officers; who, if they could have so done,
would have gone on shore on purpose to insult every officer they could
meet who wore a red coat; but in consequence of this excitement being
known all leave was prohibited.

Captain Delmar, who was the naval commanding officer, had taken up his
quarters on shore; he had done all he possibly could to prevent the
unpleasant feeling from continuing, and had shown great forbearance and
good sense: but it so happened that, being in company with some of the
military staff, observations were made in his presence, relative to the
conduct of the naval captain ill with the fever, that he could not
permit.  He gave a flat denial to them, and the consequence was, that
language was used which left no alternative but a duel.

This was the Monday night, and as it was too late then, it was agreed
that the meeting should take place on the following evening at sunset.
I believe this was proposed by Captain Delmar, in preference to the
morning, as he knew his antagonist was a regular duellist and he wished
to have the next day to put his affairs in order, previous to the
meeting.  I should here observe that the captain had not been on
anything like intimate terms with his lieutenants.  The surgeon and
master were old shipmates, and with them he was sociable: whether it was
that he did not choose to ask the favour of the commissioned officers,
certain it is, that he sent for the master to be his second on the
occasion, and on the master returning on board, he desired me to go on
shore with the boat and take the captain's pistols with me, but not to
allow them to be seen by any one; a message was also sent for the
surgeon to go on shore to the captain.

When the surgeon and I arrived at the house where the captain resided,
and were ushered up, the sitting-room was empty.  I had put the case of
pistols in a piece of canvas, so as to look like despatches about to be
sent to England, and I uncovered them and placed them on one of the
tables.  A few minutes afterwards the captain came out, and I was very
much surprised at his appearance; he was very flushed and heated in the
face, and appeared to tremble as he walked.  The surgeon also looked at
him with surprise.  We knew him to be incapable of fear, and yet he gave
us the appearance of a person very much troubled.

"Doctor," said he, "I am glad that you are come.  I feel very unwell--
feel my pulse."

"Yes, sir," said the doctor, "that you certainly are; you have the same
fever on you as Captain W. Singular."

"Yes, but it will be rather too singular, doctor.  Poor W had obloquy
enough on account of his illness; and if a second captain in the navy
were to be obliged to send a similar excuse, we should be at a pretty
discount with the red-coats.  If you can do any thing for me, do; but it
must be perfectly understood that fight to-morrow evening I will, even
if I am carried to the ground."

"Certainly, Captain Delmar, if it is possible.  I think that a little
blood must be taken from you immediately, and probably the fever may
subside."

But before his arm could be bound up, the captain became incoherent in
his discourse; and after the bleeding had been performed, when he
attempted to look at his papers, he was so confused that he found it
impossible, and was obliged to be put to bed immediately.  When the
surgeon came out of his bed-room, he said to us, "He'll never get up to
fight that duel, depend upon it; the fever increases--it may be that he
may never rise again--I fear it is the yellow fever."

"A bad job," replied the master--"a very bad job indeed; two captains in
the navy receiving challenges, and both sending excuses on account of
illness.  The service will be disgraced.  I'll fight the soldier
myself."

"That will never do," replied the surgeon; "it will not help the captain
that he has sent one of his officers in his stead.  Steward, make a bed
up here in this room; I shall not leave the house to-night."

"It's of no use my staying here," observed the master: "nor you either,
Keene: let's go on board, and we will be here early to-morrow morning.
Confounded bad job this.  Good-bye."

The master and I returned to the boat.  I had been reflecting a good
deal on the disgrace which would, at all events for a certain period, be
thrown upon the service and Captain Delmar by this unfortunate
circumstance, and before I had gone up the ship's side I had made up my
mind.  As soon as we were on board, I requested the master to allow me
to speak to him in his cabin; and when we were there, after canvassing
the question, and pointing out to him what discredit would ensue, and
working him up into a great state of irritation, I then proposed to him
what I considered to be the best course to pursue.  "Every one says how
like I am to Captain Delmar, Mr Smith," said I.

"If you were his own son, you could not be more so," replied the master.

"Well, sir, I am now as tall as he is: the colour of my hair is lighter,
certainly; but the captain wears a wig.  Now, sir, I am perfectly sure
that if I were to put on the captain's uniform and wig, as the duel is
to take place in the evening, they never could find out that it was not
the captain; and as for a good shot, I think I can hit a button as well
as the best duellist in existence."

The master bit his lips, and was silent for a short time.  At last he
said, "What you propose is certainly very easy; but why should you risk
your life for Captain Delmar?"

"Why, did you not offer to do it just now for the honour of the service?
I have that feeling, and moreover wish to serve Captain Delmar, who has
been my patron.  What's the life of a midshipman worth, even if I were
to fall?--nothing."

"That's true enough," replied the master bluntly; and then correcting
himself, he added, "that is, midshipmen in general; but I think you may
be worth something by-and-by.  However, Keene, I do think, on the whole,
it's a very good plan; and if the Captain is not better to-morrow, we
will then consider it more seriously.  I have an idea that you are more
likely to pin the fellow than the captain, who, although as brave a man
as can be, he has not, I believe, fired twenty pistols in his life.
Good night; and I hardly need say we must keep our secret."

"Never fear, sir.  Good night."

I went to my hammock, quite overjoyed at the half-consent given by the
master to my proposition.  It would give me such a claim on Captain
Delmar, if I survived; and if I fell, at all events he would cherish my
memory; but as for falling, I felt sure that I should not.  I had a
presentiment (probably no more than the buoyant hope of youth) that I
should be the victor.  At all events, I went to sleep very soundly, and
did not wake until I was roused up by the quartermaster on the following
morning.

After breakfast the master requested a boat to be manned, and we went on
shore.  On our arrival at the house, we found the surgeon in great
anxiety: the captain was in a state of delirium, and the fever was at
the highest.

"How is he?" demanded the master.

"More likely to go out of the world himself than to send another out of
it," replied the surgeon.  "He cannot well be worse, and that is all
that I can say.  He has been raving all night, and I have been obliged
to take nearly two pounds of blood from him; and, Mr Keene," continued
the surgeon, "he talks a great deal of you and other persons.  You may
go in to him, if you please; for I have as much as possible kept the
servants away--they will talk."

"Bob Cross is down below, sir," replied I: "he is the safest man to wait
upon him."

"I agree with you, Keene--send for him, and he shall remain at his
bedside."

The master then spoke with the surgeon, and communicated my proposition;
and the surgeon replied, "Well, from what I have learned this night,
there is no person who has so great a right to take his place; and
perhaps it will be as well, both for the captain's sake and his own; at
all events, I will go with you, and, in case of accident, do my best."

The matter was, therefore, considered as arranged, and I went into the
captain's room.  He was delirious, and constantly crying out about his
honour and disgrace; indeed, there is no doubt but that his anxiety to
meet his antagonist was one very great cause of the fever having run so
high; but at times he changed the subject, and then he spoke of me and
my mother.  "Where is my boy--my own boy, Percival?" said he--"my
pride--where is he?  Arabella, you must not be angry with me--no,
Arabella; consider the consequence;" and then he would burst out in such
fond expressions towards me, that the tears ran down my cheeks as I
planted a kiss upon his forehead; for he was insensible, and I could do
so without offence.

Bob Cross, who had for some time been at his bedside, wiped the tears
from his eyes, and said, "Master Keene, how this man must have suffered
to have cloaked his feelings towards you in the way which he has done.
However, I am glad to hear all this, and, if necessary, I will tell him
of it--ay, if I get seven dozen for it the next minute."

I remained with Bob Cross at his bedside for the whole day, during which
he more than twenty times acknowledged me as his son.  As the evening
closed in, I prepared in silence for the duty I had to perform.  To the
surprise of Cross, who was ignorant of what I intended, I stripped off
my own clothes and put on those of the captain, and then put his wig
over my own hair.  I then examined myself in the glass, and was
satisfied.

"Well," said Cross, looking at me, "you do look like the captain
himself, and might almost go on board and read the articles of war; but,
surely, Master Keene," added he, looking at the captain as he lay
senseless in bed, "this is no time for foolery of this sort."

"It is no foolery, Bob," replied I, taking his hand; "I am going to
represent the captain and fight a duel for him, or the service will be
disgraced."

"I didn't know that the captain had a duel to fight," replied Bob,
"although I heard that there had been words."

I then explained the whole to him.  "You are right, Master Keene--right
in everything.  May God bless you, and send you good luck.  I wish I
might go with you."

"No, Bob, that must not be."

"Then, God bless you, and may you floor the soldier.  Lord, what a state
I shall be in till I know what has taken place!"

"It will soon be known, Bob; so good-bye, and I trust we shall meet
again."  I then went out of the bed-room.

The surgeon actually started when I made my appearance, and acknowledged
that the personation was exact.  Taking the arm of the surgeon and the
master, we set off, the master carrying the pistols, which had been
prepared; and in a quarter of an hour we arrived at the place of
meeting.  My disguise was so complete that we had not hesitated to walk
out sooner than we had intended; and we found ourselves the first on the
field of action, which I was glad of.

About dusk, which was the time agreed upon and about five minutes after
our arrival, our antagonists made their appearance.  There was no time
to be lost, as there is little or no twilight in the West Indies; so a
polite bow was exchanged, and the ground marked out at eight paces by
the master and the second of my opponent.  A very short parley then took
place between Mr Smith and the other gentleman, who officiated for the
adjutant, in which it was decided that we should turn back to back, with
our pistols ready, and that on the words, "Make ready--present--fire"
given in succession, we were to turn round to each other, level, and
fire.  This made it more difficult to hit; indeed it was almost
impossible to take aim, as the words were given so quick after each
other; and the great point was, to fire as soon as the word was given.

The first discharge was not lucky for me.  I missed my antagonist, and
received his bullet in my left shoulder; this did not, however, disable
me, and I said nothing about it.  The pistols were again loaded and
handed to us; and on the signal being given, my adversary's pistol went
off a little before the word "fire" was given, and I felt myself again
hit; but I returned the fire with fatal success.  The ball went through
his body, and he fell.  The surgeon, master, and his second, immediately
went up, and raised him in a sitting position; but in a few minutes he
was senseless.

In the meantime I remained where I was, having dropped my pistol on the
ground.  That I had an unpleasant pang at the idea of a fellow-creature
having fallen by my hand in a duel, I acknowledge; but when I called to
mind why I had fought the duel, and that if had saved the honour of the
captain (may I not say at once my father's honour? for that was my
feeling), I could not, and did not, repent the deed.  But I had not time
given me to analyse my feelings; a sensation of faintness rapidly crept
over me.  The fact was that I had been bleeding profusely; and while the
surgeon and the others were still hanging over the expiring adjutant, I
dropped and fell fainting on the ground.  When I recovered I found
myself in bed, and attended on by the surgeon, the master, and Bob
Cross.

"Keep quiet, Keene," said the surgeon, "and all will be well; but keep
quiet, that we may have no fever.  Here, drink this, and try if you
cannot go to sleep."  They raised me up, and I swallowed the mixture; my
head was so confused, and I was so weak, that I felt as if I hardly
dared breathe, lest my breath should leave my body, and I was glad to
find myself again on the pillow.  I was soon in a sound seep, from which
I did not arouse for many hours, and, as I afterwards was told, had had
a very narrow escape, from the exhaustion arising from the excessive
haemorrhage.

When I opened my eyes the next morning, I could scarcely recall my
senses.  I saw Bob Cross sometimes, and I heard moaning and talking.  I
thought the latter was my own voice, but it was Captain Delmar, whose
fever still continued, and who was in an alarming state.  It was not
till the evening, twenty-four hours after the duel, that I could
completely recall my senses; then I did, and motioned to Cross that I
wanted drink.  He gave me some lemonade--it was nectar; he then went out
for the surgeon, who came to the bedside, and felt my pulse.

"You'll do now, my boy," said he; "get another good sleep to-night, and
to-morrow morning you will have nothing to do but to get well."

"Where am I hit?" said I.

"You had a ball in your shoulder and another in your hip, but they are
both extracted; the one in the hip cut through a large vein, and the
haemorrhage was so great before you could be brought here, that at one
time I thought you were gone.  Your life hung upon a thread for hours;
but we may thank God that all is right now.  You have no fever, and your
pulse is getting strong again."

"How's the captain, sir?"

"As bad as bad can be just now; but I have hopes of a change for the
better."

"And Captain W, sir?"

"Poor fellow! he is dead; and has so decidedly proved that his fever was
not a sham, the soldiers are a little ashamed of themselves--and so they
ought to be; but too often good feelings come too late.  Now, Keene, you
have talked quite enough for to-night; take your sedative mixture, and
go to sleep again; to-morrow, I have no doubt, you will be able to ask
as many questions as you like."

"Only one more, sir:--is the adjutant dead?"

"I have not heard," replied the surgeon; "but we shall know to-morrow:
now go to sleep, and good-night."

When the surgeon left the room, "Bob?" said I.

"Not an answer will I give to-night, Mr Keene," said Bob Cross;
"to-morrow morning we'll have the rights and wrongs of the whole story.
You must obey orders, sir, and go to sleep."

As I knew Bob would do as he said, I laid my head down, and was soon
once more in forgetfulness.  It was not daylight.  When I again awoke,
and found Cross snoring in the chair by the bedside; poor fellow, he had
never lain down since he came on shore, when the captain was first taken
ill.  I felt much better, although my wounds tingled a little, and I was
very anxious to know if Captain Delmar was out of danger; but that could
not be ascertained till I saw the surgeon.  I remained thinking over the
events which had passed.  I called to mind that the captain, in his
delirium, had called me his own boy, his Percival and I felt more happy.

About an hour after I had awoke, the surgeon came into the room.  "How
is Captain Delmar, sir?" said I.

"I am glad to say that he is much better; but I must wake up poor Cross,
who is tired out."

Cross, who was awake the moment that we spoke, was now on his legs.

"You must go to the captain, and keep the bed-clothes on him, Cross.  He
is now in a perspiration, and it must not be checked--do you
understand?"

"Yes," replied Bob, walking away into the other room.

"You are all right again, Keene," said the surgeon, feeling my pulse;
"we will look at your wounds by-and-by, and change the dressing."

"Tell me, sir," said I, "how have you managed?  Nobody has found it
out?"

"Oh, no; it is supposed that Captain Delmar is badly wounded, and that
you have the yellow fever, and we must keep it up--that is the reason
why Bob Cross is the only one allowed to come into the sick rooms.  I
have no doubt that Captain Delmar will be sensible in a few hours, and
then we shall be puzzled what to say to him.  Must we tell him the
truth?"

"Not at present, sir, at all events: tell him that he has fought the
duel, and killed his man; he will think that he did it when he was out
of his senses, or else that the fever has driven it from his memory."

"Well, perhaps that will be the best way just now; it will relieve his
mind, for with his return to sensibility will also revive his feelings
of disgrace and dishonour; and if they are not checked, the fever may
come on again."

The surgeon gave me some breakfast this morning, and then dressed my
wounds, which he pronounced were doing quite well; and about twelve
o'clock the master came on shore with the first lieutenant.  The master
came into my room after the first lieutenant went away, who had been
told by the surgeon that he could not see Captain Delmar--and he, of
course, did not wish to come into contact with me, who he supposed had
the yellow fever.  In the afternoon Captain Delmar woke up from his
stupor--the fever had left him, and he had nothing to combat with but
extreme debility.  "Where am I?" said he, after a pause; and,
recollecting himself, he continued to Cross, who was the only person in
the room, and who had received his instructions from the surgeon, "How
long have I lain here?"

"Ever since the duel, sir."

"The duel--how do you mean?"

"I mean ever since your honour fought the duel, and killed the soldger
officer."

"Killed--duel--I can't recollect having fought the duel."

"Dare say not, your honour," replied Bob; "you were in a roaring fever
at the time; but you would not stay in bed, all the surgeon could do--go
you would; but when you had fought, we were obliged to carry you back
again."

"And so I really have fought--I have not the least recollection--I must
have been in a high fever indeed.  Where's the surgeon?"

"He's in the verandah below, sir, speaking to some soldger officers who
have come to inquire after your health.  Here he comes."

The surgeon came in, and Captain Delmar then said to him, "Is this all
true that Cross has been telling me?  Have I really fought a duel and
killed my adversary?"

"I regret to say, sir, that he is dead, and was buried yesterday; but,
if you please, you must not talk any more at present--you must be quiet
for a few hours."

"Well, doctor, so that my honour is saved, I am content to obey you--
it's very odd--" Here the captain was exhausted, and was silent, and in
a few minutes he was again asleep, and remained slumbering till the next
morning, when he was much better.  He then entered into conversation
with the surgeon, making him describe the duel; and the latter did so,
so as to satisfy the captain; and he also informed him that I had been
taken ill with the fever, and was in the next room.

"Next room!" replied the captain: "why was he not sent on board?  Are
all the midshipmen who are taken ill to be brought to my house to be
cured?"

I overheard this reply of the captain, and it cut me to the heart.  I
felt what an invincible pride had to be conquered before I could obtain
my wishes.

The surgeon answered Captain Delmar,--"As only you and Mr Keene were
taken with the fever, I thought it better that he should remain here,
than that the ship's company should take it by his being sent on board.
I trust, Captain Delmar, I have done right?"

"Yes, I see," replied the captain; "you did perfectly right--I did not
think of that.  I hope Mr Keene is doing well?"

"I trust that we shall get him through it, sir," replied the surgeon.

"Pray let him have anything that he requires, Mr ---; let him want for
nothing during his illness and convalescence.  He would be a heavy loss
to the service," added the captain.

"He would, indeed, sir," replied the surgeon.

"Here are the journals of St. Pierre, in which there are several
accounts of the duel, most of them incorrect.  Some say that you were
twice wounded, others once."

"I dare say they thought so," replied the captain, "for Cross tells me
that I was carried home.  It's very singular that I should have fought
in such a condition.  Thank you, Mr ---; I will read them when I have
lain down a little, for I am tired again already."

The surgeon then informed the captain of the death of Captain W.

"Poor fellow!" replied Captain Delmar.  "Well, I will not make any
appointments until I am better."  The captain then lay down again,
leaving the newspapers on the coverlet.

A week now passed, during which both the captain and I became nearly
convalescent: we had both been out of bed, and had remained for a few
hours on the sofas in our respective rooms.  The surgeon told me that it
would be necessary to tell him the truth very soon, and that he thought
he would do so on the following day.  It did, however, happen that the
discovery was not made to him by the surgeon.  In the afternoon, when
the latter was on board, Captain Delmar felt so strong that he resolved
to put on his clothes, and go into the sitting-room.  He desired Cross
to give them to him, and the first articles handed to him were his
trowsers, and Bob quite forgot that I had worn them.

"Why, how's this?" said the captain--"here's a hole through the
waistband, and they are bloody."

Bob was so frightened, that he walked out of the room as if he had not
heard what the captain had said.  It appears that the captain took up
his coat, and discovered another hole in the shoulder, with the same
marks of blood.

"This is quite a dream," said the captain, talking to himself--"I've no
wound, and yet the newspapers say that I was wounded twice.  Cross!
Cross!--Where is Cross?"

Bob, who had taken refuge in my room, where we overheard everything he
said, whispered, "It's no use now, Mr Keene,--I must tell it all; never
fear me, I know how to do it."  And then he obeyed the captain's
summons, leaving me in a state of great nervous anxiety.

"Cross," said the captain sternly, "I insist upon knowing the truth: I
have been deceived by my officers.  Did I, or did I not, fight this
duel?"

"Well, sir," replied Cross, "the truth was only kept back from you till
you were quite well again, and I suppose I must tell it to you now.  You
were too ill, and you raved about our honour, and that you were
disgraced, and that--"

"Well, go on, sir."

"I will, Captain Delmar; but I hope you'll not be angry, sir.  Mr Keene
could not bear to see you in that way, and he said he would lay down his
life for you at any time, and he begged Mr Smith, the master, to allow
him to fight the duel, because he said that he was so like you in person
(which, somehow or other he is, that's certain), that no one would know
it was him if he put on your honour's wig and uniform: that's how it
was, sir."

"Go on," said the captain.

"Well, sir, the master could not bear the sneering of the sogers on
shore, and he consented that Mr Keene should take your place, which he
did, sir; and I hope you will not be angry with Mr Keene, for it's your
old coat, sir, and I think it may have a piece let in, that it won't be
seen."

Cross then went on describing the whole affair--of course praising me--
and told the captain that everybody on board, as well as on shore,
thought that he was wounded and that I had been taken with the yellow
fever, and that nobody knew the real truth except the master, the
surgeon, and himself.

"Is Mr Keene seriously hurt?" inquired the captain, after a pause.

"No, sir; the doctor says he will do very well.  He was as near gone as
ever a man was: at one time his breath would not move a feather--all the
blood was out of his body."

For a minute the captain made no reply; at last he said, in a quiet
tone, "You may leave the room, Cross."

What were the thoughts and feelings of Captain Delmar when he was left
to reflect upon the information which he had received, I cannot tell but
that he was not angry I inferred by the tone in which he desired Cross
to leave the room.  I was absorbed in my own feelings, when the surgeon
entered the room, and gave me a letter.  "Here's a schooner just come in
with despatches from the admiral," said the surgeon: "the second
lieutenant has brought them on shore for the captain, and among the
letters from England I found this one for you.  I have seen Cross,"
continued the surgeon, nodding his head significantly as he left the
room.

"The second lieutenant, with despatches, sir," reported Bob Cross to the
captain in the other room--"Shall I show him in?"

"No, I am not well; desire him to send them in by you," replied the
captain.

While the captain was busy with his despatches, I read my letter, which
was from my mother, enclosing a copy of one from my grandmother,
announcing my mother's death.  Of course there were a great many dying
wishes; but that was a matter of course.  I felt happy that this letter
to the captain arrived at such a propitious time, as I knew that the
announcement of my mother's death would be a great point in my favour.
That it ought not to have been, I confess; but I knew whom I had to deal
with: the captain was ashamed of his intimacy, and the claims of my
mother upon him, but not so much ashamed of me; and, now that she was
removed, probably he might not be at all ashamed.  My mother was no
relation, and below him--I was his own flesh and blood, and half
ennobled by so being.

The captain sent on board orders for getting under weigh.  It appeared
that the admiral had written to him, desiring him to sail for the coast
of South America, to look after a French frigate, and that, as there was
no farther occasion for so large a force at Martinique, he was to leave
the next senior officer in command; but this was Captain W, who had died
of the fever.

As senior in command, Captain Delmar then filled up the vacancy; the
captain of a corvette was appointed to Captain W's ship; our first
lieutenant to the command of the corvette; but the lieutenant's vacancy
was not filled up, much to the surprise of the officers of the squadron.
This was the work of the afternoon; in the evening the master was sent
for, and a consultation held with him and the surgeon, which ended in
the captain's consenting to go on board with his arm in a sling, as if
he had been wounded, and my being put into a cot, and removed on board
to the captain's cabin, as if still too weak with the fever to quit my
bed.  Cross was enjoined silence, and I was made acquainted by the
surgeon with the result of the conference.

The next morning we were all embarked, and we hove the anchor up, and
made sail to the southward.  It must be observed, that I had neither
seen nor had any communications with the captain, during the whole of
this time.  He was informed by the surgeon that I was in great distress
of mind at the news of my mother's death, and that my recovery would be
retarded in consequence.



CHAPTER TWENTY ONE.

IT was not until three or four days after the ship had sailed from
Martinique that the captain spoke to me.  I had during that time
remained in my cot, which was hung up in the fore-cabin, and when the
surgeon dressed my wounds it was only in the presence of Bob Cross.  On
the fourth morning after our sailing, the captain came inside of the
screen, which was hung round my cot:--"Well, Mr Keene," said he in a
very kind voice, "how are you?"

"Much better, sir, I thank you; and hope you will look over the great
liberty I ventured to take for the honour of the service."

"Why," replied the captain, smiling, "I think you have been sufficiently
punished already for your temerity; I appreciate your motive of action
and feel obliged to you for your great zeal towards the service and
towards me.  The only objection (I may say annoyance) I have on the
subject is, the mystery and secrecy compelled to be observed in
consequence of your taking my place; and still more, that one of the
seamen of the ship should be a party to the secret."

"I certainly did not consider the consequences as I ought to have done,
sir, when I ventured to act as I did," replied I.

"Say no more about it, Mr Keene.  I am very sorry to hear of your
mother's death; but it was not, I believe, unexpected."

"No, sir," replied I; "and therefore the shock has not been so great."

"Well, Mr Keene, of course it is from the interest I took in your
mother that I was induced to take you under my protection, and her death
will make no difference in that point, so long as you conduct yourself
as you have hitherto done.  You have now created a strong interest for
yourself by your good conduct, and I shall not lose sight of you.  How
many months have you yet to serve before your time is out?"

"I have served five years and seven months, as far as I can recollect."

"So I thought.  Now, Mr Keene, it was because I thought of you that I
did not fill up the lieutenant's vacancy which was made by the death of
Captain W and the promotion of the commander and my first lieutenant.
As soon as you are well, I will give you an acting order as lieutenant
of this ship; and, as we are now on a sort of roving commission, I have
no doubt but that you will have served your time, and found the means of
passing, before we join the admiral; your promotion will, under such
circumstances, be, I have no doubt, confirmed; so all you have to do now
is to get well as fast as you can.  Good-bye."

The captain gave me a most gracious nod, and then went outside of the
screen, giving me no time for thanks.  I was, indeed, overjoyed; not so
much at the promotion as at the change in the captain's manner towards
me: a change so palpable that it filled me with the fondest
anticipations.  I remained for a long while reflecting upon my future
prospects.  As a lieutenant of the same ship I should be more in contact
with him: he could now converse and take notice of me without its being
considered remarkable; nay, he could be intimate with me.  I resolved to
be most careful of my conduct, so as not to alarm his pride by the least
familiarity, and hoped, eventually, to play my cards so as to obtain my
earnest wish; but I felt that there was a great deal of ground to go
over first, and that the greatest circumspection was necessary.  I felt
that I had still to raise myself in his opinion and in the opinion of
the world to a much higher position than I was in at present, before I
could expect that Captain Delmar would, virtually, acknowledge me as his
son.  I felt that I had to wade through blood, and stand the chance of
thousands of balls and bullets in my professional career, before I could
do all this; a bright vista of futurity floated before me and, in the
far distance, I felt myself in the possession of my ambition, and with
my eyes still fixed upon it I dropped fast asleep, revelling still in
the same dreams which I had indulged in when awake.

In a fortnight I was quite recovered; my wounds had healed up, and I now
walked about.  Having had my uniform altered by the ship's tailor, and
procured an epaulet from one of the lieutenants, I took possession of my
cabin in the gun-room, and was warmly received by my new messmates; but
I did not return to my duty for nearly a month, on account of a little
lameness still remaining, and which the surgeon declared was often the
case after the yellow fever!!

I ought to have observed, that when my mother was so indulgent as to
commit suicide for my sake, she had taken every precaution, and the
letter of my grandmother informed Captain Delmar that my mother had
bequeathed me 12,000 pounds in the three per cents, which she had laid
by from her business, and that therefore there was no longer any
occasion that I should be an expense to Captain Delmar.  It must not,
however, be supposed, from my grandmother stating this, that Captain
Delmar was at all mercenary or stingy; on the contrary, considering
that, as the second son of a nobleman, he had only 1,000 pounds per
annum besides his pay, he was exceedingly liberal (although not
extravagant) in all money matters.

At last I was well enough to return to my duty; and glad I was to be
once more walking the quarter-deck, not as before, on the lee, but on
the weather side, with an epaulet on my shoulder.  Strange to say, there
was not a midshipman in the ship (although there were so many) who had
served so long as I had, and in consequence there was not any
heart-burning or jealousy at my promotion, and I continued on the best
terms with my old mess-mates, although gradually lessening the intimacy
which existed between us.  But that was not intentional on my part; it
was the effect of my promotion, and removal from the berth of a set of
lads to the company of the senior and older officers.  I was now a man,
and had the feelings and thoughts of a man.  My frolics and tricks were
discarded with the midshipman's coat; and in respecting my new rank I
respected myself.

Now that I walked on the same side of the deck, Captain Delmar very
often entered into conversation with me; and although at first it was
with caution on his part, yet, when he found that I never presumed, and
was, invariably, most respectful, he became on much more intimate terms
with me.

During three months we continued cruising about without falling in with
or having received any intelligence of the French frigate which we were
sent in quest of; at last Captain Delmar resolved to change the cruising
ground, and we ran up to ten degrees of latitude further north.

As we were running up, we fell in with an American brig, and brought her
to; a boat was sent for the captain, who, when he came on board, was
interrogated by Captain Delmar, as to his having seen or heard of any
French vessel on that coast.  As the conversation took place on the
quarter-deck, and I was officer of the watch, I can repeat it.

"Well," replied the American through his nose, "I reckon there is a
Frenchman in these parts?"

"Have you fallen in with her?" inquired Captain Delmar.

"Well, I may say I have; for I lay alongside of her in Cartagena when I
was taking in my cargo of hides.  You haven't such a thing as a spar as
will make me a pole top-gallant mast, captain, have you?"

"Is she large or small?"

"Well, captain, I don't care whether the spar be large or small; I've
two carpenters on board, and I'll soon dub it down into shape."

"I inquired about the vessel--I did not refer to the spar," replied
Captain Delmar, haughtily.

"And I referred to the spar, which is my business, and not to the
vessel, which is no consarn of mine," replied the American captain.
"You see, master, we have both our wants; you want information, I want a
spar: I have no objection to a fair swop."

"Well," replied Captain Delmar, rather amused, "give me the information
and you shall have the spar."

"That's agreed."

"Send for the carpenter, and desire him to get out a small spar, Mr
---," said Captain Delmar to the first lieutenant.

"Well, captain, that looks like business, and so now I'll go on.  The
Frenchman is as large as you; may be," said he, looking round the deck,
"he may be a bit larger, but you won't mind that, I suppose."

"Did you leave her in port when you sailed?"

"I reckon she was off two days before me."

"And how many days is it since you sailed?"

"Just four days, I calculate."

"And did you hear where she was going to?"

"Yes, I did, and I've a notion I could put my finger upon her now, if I
choosed.  Captain, you haven't got a coil of two-inch which you could
lend me--I ain't got a topsail brace to reeve and mine are very queer
just now.  I reckon they've been turned end for end so often, that
there's an end of them."

"You say that you know where the vessel is--where is she?"

"Captain, that's telling--can't I have the two inch?"

"We have not a whole coil of two-inch left, sir," said the master,
touching his hat.  "We might spare him enough for a pair of new braces."

"Well, well, I'm reasonable altogether, and if so be you haven't got it,
I don't expect it.  It's very odd now, but I can't just now remember the
place that the French vessel was going to; it's slipped clean out of my
memory."

"Perhaps the two-inch might help your memory," replied the captain.
"Mr Smith, let the rope be got up and put into the boat."

"Well," said the American captain, "as you say, mister, it may help my
memory.  It's not the first time that I've freshened a man's memory with
a bit of two-inch myself," continued he, grinning at his own joke; "but
I don't see it coming."

"I have ordered it to be put in the boat," replied Captain Delmar,
haughtily: "my orders are not disobeyed, nor is my word doubted."

"Not by them as knows you, I dare say, captain, but you're a stranger to
me; I don't think I ask much, after all--a bit of spar and a bit of
rope--just to tell you where you may go and take a fine vessel, and
pocket a nation lot of dollars as prize-money.  Well, there's the rope,
and now I'll tell you.  She was going off Berbice or Surinam, to look
after the West Indiamen, who were on the coast, or expected on it, I
don't know which.  There you'll find her, as sure as I stand here; but I
think that she is a bit bigger than this vessel--you don't mind that, I
dare say."

"You may go on board now, sir," said Captain Delmar.

"Well, thank ye, captain, and good luck to you."

The American captain went down the side; and as soon as our boat
returned, and was hoisted up, we made all sail for the coast of
Demerara.

"She must be a fine vessel," said Captain Delmar to me, as he was
walking the deck,--"a very fine vessel, if she is bigger than we are."

"You will excuse me, Captain Delmar, if I venture to observe that there
was an expression in the eye of the American, when he said a bit bigger,
which made me take it into my head, that in saying so, he was only
deceiving us.  The Americans are not very partial to us, and would be
glad of any revenge."

"That may be, Mr Keene; but I do not see that he can be deceiving us,
by making her out to be larger, as it is putting us on our guard.  Had
he said that she was smaller, it would then have been deceiving us."

"I did not take it in that sense, sir," replied I.  "He said a bit
bigger; now, I can't help thinking that a bit bigger was meant to
deceive us, and that it will prove that the Frenchman is a
line-of-battle ship, and not a frigate: he wished to leave us under the
impression that it was a larger frigate than our own and no more."

"It may be so," replied Captain Delmar, thoughtfully; "at all events,
Mr Keene, I am obliged to you for the suggestion."

The captain took two or three more turns fore and aft in silence and
then quitted the deck.



CHAPTER TWENTY TWO.

In three days we had gained the latitude of Berbice, and on the fourth
morning the men at the mast-head were keeping a sharp look-out for any
strange sail.  Our head was then towards the land, which, being very
low, could not be seen; the breeze was light, the royals had been set,
and the men piped down to breakfast, when the mast-head-man reported
three sail right ahead.  We soon made them out to be merchant vessels,
and as they separated, and made all sail from us, we made sure that they
had been captured; and so it proved when we took possession of them,
which we did not do of the third before night-fall.

Upon interrogating the prisoners and the few English who had been left
on board the prizes, we found out that I had been right in my
conjecture; they had been captured by a French line-of-battle ship,
which they had left in shore the evening before.  The English reported
her a very fast sailer, and believed her to be an eighty gun ship--
indeed the French prisoners acknowledged that such was the case.

This was very important intelligence, and Captain Delmar walked up and
down deck in deep thought: the fact was, he was puzzled how to act.  To
attempt to cope with such a force, unless under peculiarly favourable
circumstances, would be madness: to leave the coast and our mercantile
navy exposed to her depredations, was at the same time very repulsive to
his feelings and sense of duty.  The prizes had been manned, the
prisoners were on board, the boats hoisted up, and the Manilla still
remained hove to.  The fact was, the captain did not know which way to
put the ship's head; and he walked up and down in deep thought.

"Mr Keene, is it your watch?"

"No, sir."

"Oblige me by telling the master to work up the reckoning; I wish to
know exactly where we are."

"It is done already, sir," replied I, "and pricked off on the chart--I
have just left the gun-room."

"Then, Mr Keene, bring the chart into my cabin."  I followed into the
cabin with the chart, which I laid down on the table, and pointed out
the position of the ship.

"You were right in your supposition, Mr Keene," said the captain; "and
really this vessel turning out to be a line-of-battle ship has put me in
a very awkward predicament--I really am puzzled.  Fighting is of no use,
and yet run away I will not, if I can possibly help it."

Now, I had been studying the chart, and had made up my own mind how I
should have acted under the circumstances, had I been in Captain
Delmar's position.  The great point was, to give him my ideas without
appearing to offer advice; I therefore replied, "We have one advantage,
at all events sir; we have been cruising so long that we are flying
light--I don't think we draw sixteen feet water."

"Yes, that may give us the heels of her in light winds, certainly,"
replied the captain.

"I think she cannot draw less than twenty-six or twenty-seven feet of
water, sir," continued I, to put him on the right scent, "which, on this
coast, will be a great advantage.  I think, sir, when I was down below,
I measured from soundings to soundings, and the water is so shallow, and
deepens so gradually, that there is a distance of four miles between
seventeen feet and twenty-eight feet water."

I took up the compass so as to take in the two soundings laid down in
the chart, and then measuring the distance, showed that my assertion was
true.  The captain said nothing for a little while.  At last I perceived
a smile on his lips.  "Tell the officer of the watch to lower down the
cutter, Mr Keene.  Go on board of the prizes, and tell them, in
addition to their present orders, to follow us, that in case of an
enemy, they are to run as close in shore as the water will allow them,
and drop their anchors."

"Aye, aye, sir," replied I, leaving the cabin.

This order satisfied me that the captain perceived what I would suggest,
which was, that if we once got in shore and in shallow water we might
laugh at the line-of-battle ship, which, in all probability would not be
able to get near enough to reach us with her guns; or, if she attempted
it, she would run on shore, and then we should have the best of it.

As soon as I had given the orders to the prize-masters and returned on
board, the boat was hoisted up, and all sail made for the land.  At
twelve o'clock we sounded, and found ourselves in nine-fathom water, by
which we calculated we were about thirty miles from the land.  I hardly
need say that a most careful lookout was kept up, that we might not fall
in with our formidable adversary.

At one o'clock the moon rose, and I, having the middle watch, surveyed
the horizon on every side, but without discovering the enemy; but at
half-past three the day dawned, and before my watch was over it was
broad daylight; and then, just as I was going down, having been relieved
by the second lieutenant, a strange sail was reported about eight miles
to leeward, two points before the beam.

The second lieutenant hastened down to the cabin, to report to the
captain, and I went up to the mast-head to make her out, and I soon
discovered that she was a line-of-battle ship: I immediately descended,
and reported to the captain, who had come on deck.  As we could
distinguish the masts and sails of the enemy very well from the deck,
the glasses were fixed upon her at the gang-way, and she was seen to set
her royals and flying jib in chase of us; but we felt that we were safe,
as we should be in shallow water long before she could beat up to us.
All we had to fear for was the merchant vessels which we had re-taken,
and which were two or three miles astern of us, with all the sail that
they could carry.

It was a five-knot breeze, and the water quite smooth, which was very
favourable for the line-of-battle ship and ourselves, but not for the
merchant vessels, which, with their cargoes, required more wind to
propel them through the water.  The state of affairs, when the hands
were piped to breakfast, was as follows:--

The French line-of-battle ship had stood in for the land, under all
sail, until half-past-seven, being then, as she was when we first saw
her, exactly two points before the beam, when, probably being in shoal
water, she had tacked, and was now a little abaft our beam, and lying
pretty well up for the merchant vessel the furthest astern of us.  Since
she had tacked, she had risen her hull out of water, so as to show her
upper tier of guns.  Two of the merchant vessels were about three miles
astern of us,--the other one, five, and stood a fair chance of being cut
off; the more so, because when we discovered the enemy, we were standing
about two points free, right for the coast; whereas, upon her hauling
her wind in chase, we of course did the same, which made us approach the
shallow water in a more slanting direction, and consequently not get in
quite so soon.  We were now in seven fathoms water, and, by our pricking
off on the chart, about eleven miles from land, which was so low as to
be barely visible from the mast-head.  The men were allowed an hour to
their breakfast, and then we beat to quarters.  The captain did not,
however, put out the fires, so as to prevent the ship's company's dinner
being cooked, as everything was ready, and the magazines could be opened
in a minute.

At ten o'clock we had drawn into six fathoms water; the Frenchman was
now nearly astern of us, still on the opposite tack, and passing about
three miles to leeward of the merchant vessel which lagged most behind.
It was now considered certain that she would re-capture this vessel,
which was at least seven miles astern of us, and not impossible that she
might take one, if not both of the others, as it was evident she was a
prime sailer, as fast almost as our own ship.

At a quarter-past ten, the French line-of-battle ship tacked, and stood
right after us in our wake, being now hull down about twelve miles from
us.

"He'll soon have the starnmost vessel, Mr Keene," said Bob Cross to me.
"Mr Dott has charge of her; he is always in some scrape or other."

"Yes," replied I; "but he gets out of them, and I dare say he will out
of this."

"Helm up there, quarter-master--flatten in forward."

"The wind's heading us, sir," said the master; "she's full again now.
Thus, boy, and nothing off."

"She has broken off two points, sir."

"All the better," replied the captain; "it's a squeak for Mr Dott."

In a few minutes we perceived that the other vessel had met the change
in the wind and had broken off as well as ourselves.  The Frenchman did
not now lay up for the merchant vessel as she did before, and the latter
had some chance of escape.  It was very exciting: for as the time drew
nearer to noon, the wind became more light and more variable, and at one
time all the vessels broke off another point; shortly afterwards, the
wind flew back again to the point which it at first blew from, and the
enemy lay once more right up for the merchant vessels.  The French
line-of-battle ship was still about four miles astern of the merchant
vessel nearest to her.

"I think we shall have a calm soon," observed Captain Delmar.  "Square
the mainyard; we may as well be nearer to her, as not, now; for if it
falls calm she will recapture them with her boats, and we shall be too
far to give any assistance.  Get the yard tackles up: all ready, Mr
---?"

"Aye, aye, sir," replied the first lieutenant.

"Pipe the boat's crew away, and let them get their guns and ammunition
on the gangway."

It was about a quarter to eleven when we hove to, the breeze still
continuing variable and light, and the French line-of-battle ship did
not come up so fast as before.  We sounded after we hove to, and found
that we were in five and a half fathoms water.

At twelve o'clock, in consequence of our having hove to, the relative
positions of the vessels were as follows:--The two merchant vessels
which had been about four miles astern of us were now alongside of us;
the third was about three miles astern of us; and the Frenchman was
about the same distance astern of her; so that our frigate was about six
miles from the French line-of-battle ship.

Captain Delmar had given orders to pipe to dinner at seven bells
(half-past eleven o'clock); that in case the boats were required, the
men might have dined before the were sent away.  A few minutes after
twelve o'clock it fell a dead calm; the hands were turned up, the boats
hoisted out and lowered down, the guns and ammunition put in them, and
everything in readiness; we keeping our glasses upon the enemy, and
watching her manoeuvring, which, at the distance we were, was now easily
to be distinguished.  Captain Delmar was aware that he ran some risk in
sending his boats away, for it might so happen that a breeze might
spring up from the seaward, and the enemy have the advantage of it long
before us; if so, it might bring her up to the vessel astern, and the
boats be captured: indeed it might bring her up nearly alongside of us
before we caught the wind.  It was necessary therefore, to be very
cautious, and not send the boats away till the last moment--that is,
before we saw the French ship hoisting out or lowering down her own.
That the Frenchman knew that our boats had been hoisted out, could not
be doubted, as their eyes were quite as sharp as ours.  They, however,
tried to double us; for all of a sudden, as I had my glass upon the
French ship, I perceived three boats coming round her quarter, and
pulling right for the merchant vessel: the fact was, that she had
lowered down her stern and quarter boats to leeward, which we could not
perceive.  I reported this immediately to the captain, who ordered the
boats' crews to be piped away.

"Who is to command the boats, sir?" said the first lieutenant.

"Mr Keene," said the captain.

"Mr Keene, I wish to speak with you before you go."

Captain Delmar then walked to the capstern, and, in few words, pointed
out what I have just stated as the difficulty which might occur, and the
chances of capture.

"You understand me, Mr Keene?"

"Perfectly, sir," replied I.

"Well, then, I trust to your discretion, Mr Keene, and hope I shall not
be disappointed.  Now you may go."

"The French ship is getting up her yard tackles," said the signal man.

"Then you have no time to lose, Mr Keene.  As for the small boats, they
are of no consequence."

I went down the side, and shoved off.  Our men gave way cheerfully and
manfully; and the three boats of the Frenchmen had but a little start of
us.  In half an hour we were both within less than a mile of the
merchant vessel; but the French boats were the nearest of the two.  The
affair now became very exciting.  In another ten minutes the French
boats had gained the merchant vessel, and the men were clambering up her
sides, while we were not more than three cables' length from them.  That
Tommy Dott was defending himself was to be presumed, as a good deal of
firing took place; but before we could get alongside, it was evident
that he and his men had been mastered, and the French were in possession
of the vessel.  But now our turn came.  Dividing my boats, six in
number, into two divisions, we boarded on both sides, and very soon had
regained the vessel and mastered the French, who did not amount to more
than thirty-five men, while we had more than seventy.

We found that the Frenchmen had not spared our people on board of the
vessel, all of them being wounded or killed; but the fact was that Tommy
Dott had fought most nobly, and resisted to the very last.  He himself--
poor fellow!--lay against the cap-stern, with his head cut open by a
blow of a cutlass, and quite insensible.  As soon as we had secured the
prisoners, I turned my eyes to the line-of-battle ship, and saw that her
large boats had shoved off; they were five in number, but much larger,
and holding more men than we had.

A little reflection decided me that we should have a better chance of
resisting them on board of the vessel than in the boats; and I
determined that I would get my boats' guns up on board of the vessel,
and arm her in that way.  It was necessary, however, to secure our
boats, that they might not cut them away from alongside; I therefore, as
soon as the guns and ammunition were on board, lowered the iron chain
cable down from the bows, and passed it from one boat to the other under
the fixed thwarts of each boat, including those captured from the
French, hauling the end of the cable on board again through the stern
port.  We had plenty of time to do this, and make any other preparation
on board, before the French boats arrived.

It was a dead calm; the sea was like a mirror, and the advancing boats,
as their oars rose and fell in the water, gave you the idea of creatures
possessed of life and volition, as they rapidly forced their way through
the yielding fluid.  The vessel's stern was towards the line-of-battle
ship, and the boats were pulling up a little on the starboard quarter.
The guns which I had hoisted on board had, for want of any other means,
been sufficiently secured by ropes to the slides and breechings to
enable us to fire them with effect.  When the boats were about a quarter
of a mile from us, we opened our fire; not that we expected much from
our guns, as we knew we could not obtain more than two good shots at the
boats before they were alongside; still there was a chance of hitting
and disabling them, and no chance was to be thrown away.

Our first shot was successful; it struck one of the pinnaces, and she
swamped immediately.  Our men cheered, while the other French boats
pulled to it, and took up the men who were floating in the water.
Before they could effect this, another gun was fired with grape and
round, which apparently did some execution, as there appeared to be much
confusion on board of the two boats that had gone to the assistance of
their comrades.  We now fully expected the boats to advance; on the
contrary, they spread out on each quarter, and opened their fire upon us
with their guns--a very foolish act on their part, as it gave us every
advantage; for they were far superior to us in number of men, and should
have boarded us at once, instead of risking the loss of more of their
boats.  So little did we expect this, that at one time I was debating
whether I should not leave the guns in the boats alongside, instead of
getting them on board, that there might be no delay in case wind sprang
up, and it were necessary that we should be off; of course, as it was, I
was very glad that I had decided otherwise.

The action, if it may be so termed, now continued for about half an hour
without any great casualty on either side: we had five or six men
wounded on board of the vessel, but none killed.  I had occasionally
looked round to see if there was any appearance of wind, and just about
this time I perceived a black line in the offing, which promised not
only wind, but wind from the very quarter which would be most disastrous
to us, and I began to feel very anxious, when I heard a bugle sounded
from the largest French boat.  This was the signal to advance, and I was
very glad, as the affair would now be soon decided.

As all our boats were secured on the starboard side of the vessel, the
Frenchmen did not attempt to board on that side, as in so doing it would
have been at a double disadvantage; they had therefore no alternative
but to board all together on the larboard side.  Two of the boats' guns
had been fixed on that side--double shotted and depressed, so as to be
fired at the moment one of the boats should pass beneath them; they were
both fired at the leading boat, the launch, which was very large and
full of men, and the shot went through her bottom.  This did not prevent
her coming alongside: but she filled and sank almost immediately
afterwards, while the men were climbing up the sides of the vessel.  The
sinking of this boat prevented the men of the other boats outside of her
from supporting their companions, and we had therefore only to meet the
force of the launch and the two other boats which had come alongside
ahead of her, and which was in number not equal to our own.

We always had an idea that the French would never do much in the way of
boarding, and so it proved; they were beat down as fast as they made
their appearance above the bulwarks.  The French lieutenant was
attempting to get over the gunwale; he was unsupported, as almost all
his men had tumbled back into the sea.  Instead of cutting him down, I
caught him by the collar, and hauled him on board, and as soon as he was
disarmed, gave him in charge of a marine.  In ten minutes all was over:
two of the French boats remained alongside, and the others shoved off,
half manned, and dropped astern.  We gave them three cheers as a parting
salutation, but we had no time to lose--the wind was evidently springing
up fast; already cat's paws were to be seen here and there rippling the
water, and the line on the horizon was now dark and broad.  I ordered
our boats to be ready for starting, the guns to be got in, and the
wounded men divided among them as fast as possible.  The two large
French boats which remained on the starboard side we cleared of the men
who lay in them, and then had their bottoms beat out to sink them.  The
French lieutenant and two other officers I ordered into our own boats,
to take on board as prisoners; the rest of the French who had been
captured, with their wounded, we put into the three small French boats
which had been captured in the first attack, taking away their oars,
that, when I shoved off and left the vessel, they might drift about till
they were picked up by the French ship.

Every thing being in readiness, I had now to decide what I should do
with the merchant vessel.  The wind coming up so fast from the seaward,
gave her no chance of escape, and I decided that I would set her on
fire.  Having so done in three different parts, to ensure her
destruction, I then shoved off with our boats, having first pushed off
the Frenchmen in their boats without oars, and wished them good-bye;
they certainly did look very foolish, and anything but pleased.

As we pulled for the frigate, I perceived that the line-of-battle ship's
sails were filling, and that it was touch and go with us; but I also
knew that she could not leave her boats and that it would take some time
to pick them up; two were half-manned, and pulling towards her; the
other three were without oars, and must be picked by the other boats;
all of which would occasion delay.  Notwithstanding, we pulled as hard
as we could and were halfway back before the breeze was sufficiently
steady to enable the line-of-battle ship to make much progress through
the water.  Of course we could not well see what was going on when we
had pulled away in the boats, and were at a distance; all we could see
was, that the French line-of-battle ship was not yet in chase, from
which we presumed that she had not yet picked up her boats.  In the
meantime the merchant vessel burnt furiously, and the columns of smoke
very often hid the enemy from our view.

Before we arrived on board the breeze had passed us and caught the sails
of our frigate and the two merchant vessels, so that we were more easy
on that score.  Captain Delmar had been very anxious; the yards,
tackles, and stays, and the tackles for hoisting up the quarter-boats,
were already hanging down as we pulled alongside, and "all hands in
boats" was piped before we could get up the gangway.  There was no time
to be lost: the French line-of-battle ship had picked up her boats, and
was now in chase, with studding-sails below and abaft.  The two merchant
vessels had made all sail, and were running inshore ahead of us.  I
touched my hat to the captain, and said, "Come on board, sir--shall I
see the quarter-boats hoisted up?"

"If you please, Mr Keene," replied he.

The fact was, it was very easy to tell my story after the boats were up
and sail made upon the frigate, and I knew there was no time for
talking.

I never witnessed such a rapidity as was shown on this occasion; in less
than five minutes all the boats were on board, and all sail made.  I
looked at the French line-of-battle ship; she was within four miles of
us, and bringing up a very steady breeze.  But we were now drawing
through the water, and as the re-captured vessels were three miles ahead
of us, there was nothing to fear.  Captain Delmar came aft to look at
the Frenchman, who had already passed by the vessel which I had set on
fire.

"Now, then, Mr Keene," said he, "we will know what has taken place.  Of
course we have seen most of it."

I narrated what the reader already knows.

"What do you suppose to have been the loss?"

"I should say three boats, and about forty men, sir.  I forgot, sir, to
tell you that we have a lieutenant and two officers prisoners, whom I
brought on board with me."

"Desire them to be brought on deck," said the captain.  "Mr Keene, you
have done your work well--with great gallantry and great judgment."

I touched my hat, not a little pleased at such a compliment from.
Captain Delmar.

"What's the last soundings, Mr Smith?" inquired the captain.

"And a quarter four, sir," said the master.

"This chase won't last long," observed the captain.  "Take in the lower
studding-sail."

The French lieutenant was then questioned; but with the exception of the
name of the ship and captain, there was little to be expected from him,
and he was dismissed and sent below.

This affair, however, was not without loss on our side (principally
arising from Tommy Dott's stout defence).  We had two men killed, and we
had altogether fourteen men wounded--some of them very severely.  My
friend Tommy Dott came on board a miserable object, his face and hair
matted with blood; but when it was washed away, he proved to be not so
much hurt as was supposed: the cut was severe, but the bones were not
injured.  He was very soon out of his hammock again, and his chief
pleasure was to put his tongue in his cheek and make faces at the French
lieutenant, who at last became so annoyed, that he complained to Captain
Delmar, who ordered Mr Tommy to leave off these expressions of national
animosity, if he had any wish to obtain his promotion.  But to return.

As the breeze freshened, and the French ship had the first of it; she
rapidly gained upon us, and in an hour and a half was about three miles
from us.  We had now shoaled our water to three fathoms and a half,
which was quite near enough to the ground, as it left but four feet
between our keel and the bottom; the studding-sails were taken in, and
we ranged the cable.  A few minutes afterwards the French line-of-battle
ship was seen to shorten sail, and haul to the wind; she had followed us
into as shoal water as far as she dared to venture in, and as she
rounded to, out of spite, I presume, she fired a gun.  The evening was
now closing in, and as there was every appearance of fine weather, we
stood out till we were again in four fathoms, and then dropped our
anchor.

The next morning, when the day broke, the French line-of-battle ship was
in the offing about eight miles distant.  It may easily be imagined that
the French were very much annoyed at what had taken place; their prizes
re-captured, three boats lost, and their ship's company weakened, and
all by an inferior force close to them, and without any prospect of
their having any revenge.  But we, on the other hand, were not very
pleasantly situated.  It is true that we were safe, but, at the same
time, we were in prison, and could not hope for escape, unless some
vessel came down to our assistance; and how long we might be compelled
to remain where we were, or what the chapter of accidents might bring
about, no one could foresee.

About eight o'clock the French ship again stood in, and when as close as
she dare come to us, she ran up and down, trying for deeper water on one
side or the other, but in vain.  She was within gun-shot of us, it is
true, as we had run out into four fathoms; but we could always trip our
anchor when we pleased and stand further in.  At last she tried a shot
at us, and it fell very close.  Captain Delmar did not, however, get
under weigh and stand further in, although he ordered the capstern bars
to be shipped, and the messenger passed.  A second and a third shot were
fired, and one went over us.  At last the Frenchman anchored, and set to
work in good earnest.  He found that he was within range, and as we did
not move, presumed that we were in as shallow water as we could run
into.

As the wind was still to seaward, we laid head on to him, and one of his
shot struck us in the forefoot; Captain Delmar then ordered the cable to
be hove in and the anchor tripped, by which means we drifted in shore
and increased our distance without his being aware of it, and his firing
still continued, but without injury to us.  The reason for Captain
Delmar's doing this was evident; he wished the French ship to continue
firing, as the report of her guns might be heard and bring down some
vessel to our assistance.  At all events, such was not our good fortune
on the first day, and I began to be tired of our situation; so did
Captain Delmar; for on the second day he sent a boat to the recaptured
vessels, which were at anchor inshore of us, directing them to heave up
as soon as it was dark, and make the best of their way to Barbadoes,
keeping well in shore till they got more to the northward; this they
did, and the following morning they were not in sight.

The French ship still remained at anchor, and it appeared that she had
been lightening so as to get further in; for on that morning she
weighed, and stood in to a mile and a half of us, and we were obliged to
do the same, and run inshore out of his reach.  To effect this we
anchored in three and a quarter fathoms, so that we actually stirred up
the mud.  Towards the evening the wind fortunately shifted to off shore,
and as soon as it was dark the captain ordered the anchor to be weighed,
and we made all sail to the northward, trusting to our heels; the
following morning we had run seventy miles, and as the French ship was
not to be seen, it was to be presumed that she was not aware of our
having so done.

Ten days afterwards we dropped our anchor in Carlisle Bay, Barbadoes.
We found two men-of-war, both captains junior officers to our own, and I
took this opportunity of passing my examination, which was a mere matter
of form.  Having watered and taken in provisions, we then sailed for
Jamaica, to join the admiral, who, upon Captain Delmar's representation,
immediately confirmed the acting order of lieutenant given to me by him.

A few days afterwards a packet arrived from England, and letters were
received by Captain Delmar, informing him of the death of his elder
brother and his succeeding to the title of Lord de Versely; for his
elder brother, although married, had no male issue.  Upon this
intelligence, Captain Delmar immediately resigned the command of the
Manilla, and another Captain was appointed to her.  I did not much like
this, as I wished to remain with Captain Delmar, and gain his good-will.
I was, however, consoled by his sending for me, previous to his sailing
for England in a frigate ordered home, and saying, "Mr Keene, my duties
in the House of Lords, and family affairs, require my presence in
England, and I think it most probable that I now quit the service
altogether; but I shall not lose sight of you.  You have conducted
yourself much to my satisfaction, and I will take care of your
advancement in the service, if you only continue as you have begun.  I
shall be happy to hear from you, if you will write to me occasionally.
I wish you every success.  Is there anything that I can do for you?"

"I am most grateful, my lord," replied I, "for all your kindness.  I had
hoped to have been longer under your protection and guidance; but I am
aware that your high station must now prevent it.  If I might be so bold
as to ask a favour, my lord?"

"Certainly, Keene," replied his lordship.

_Keene_! not _Mr_ Keene, thought I.

"It is, sir, that I--think I should have a better chance of doing
something if I were to obtain the command of the Firefly schooner; the
lieutenant commanding her is about to invalid."

"I agree with you.  I will speak to the admiral this very day.  Is that
all?"

"Yes, my lord; unless you think you could ask for Cross, your coxswain,
to be appointed to her.  I should like to have a man on board whom I
knew, and could trust."

"I will see about it, and so good-bye."

His lordship held out his hand.  I took it very respectfully; he had
never done so before, and the tears ran down my cheeks as I was quitting
him.  His lordship observed it, and turned away.  I left the cabin,
quite overcome with his kindness, and so happy, that I would not have
changed positions with the grand sultan himself.

Lord de Versely was faithful to his promise: the next day I received
from the admiral my appointment to the Firefly, and, what was more
unexpected, Bob Cross received a warrant as her boatswain.  This was a
very kind act of Lord de Versely, and I was as much delighted as Bob
himself.  I also received an invitation to dinner with the admiral on
that day.  On my arrival at the house, a few minutes before dinner, the
admiral called me aside to the verandah, and said to me, "Mr Keene, I
have not forgotten your cruise in the pirate schooner, and Lord de
Versely has told me of your good behaviour in many instances since;
particularly of your conduct in the boats off Berbice.  In his
despatches he has given you great praise, and I have added mine to back
it; so that if you only keep steady, you will command a sloop of war
very soon.  You have now been seven months a lieutenant, for your
commission will be confirmed to your first appointment; a few months
more, and I hope to see you with a commander's commission in your
pocket."

I replied, that I was very grateful, and only hoped that he would send
me out in the schooner to where I might prove myself deserving of his
patronage.

"Never fear.  I'll find something for you to do, Mr Keene.  By-the-bye,
Lord de Versely told me last night, when we were alone, the history of
the duel at Martinique.  You did well, Mr Keene; I thank you in the
name of our service--it won't do for the soldiers to crow over us,
though they are fine fellows, it must be admitted.  However, that secret
had better be kept."

"Most certainly, sir," replied I.

"Now, then, there's that black fellow come up to tell us dinner is
ready; so come along, or you'll be where the little boat was--a long way
astern."



CHAPTER TWENTY THREE.

The admiral was very kind to me, and shook hands with me when I left
him.  I returned on board of the Manilla, took leave of the surgeon, and
master, and other officers, and then of all my mess-mates, and a boat
was manned to take Bob Cross and me on board of the Firefly.  After the
boat shoved off and was a little distance from the frigate, the men
suddenly tossed up their oars.

"What are you about, men?" said I.

"Look there, sir," said Bob Cross, pointing to the frigate.

I turned round, and perceived all the men in the rigging, who gave me
three cheers from a pipe of the boatswain; a compliment which I had not
dreamt of, and which moved me to tears.  I rose, and took off my hat;
the men in the boat returned the cheers, dropped their oars in the
water, and rowed to the schooner.  I stepped on board, ordered the hands
aft and read my commission, and then Cross's warrant; after which I went
down into the cabin, for I wished to be alone.

I was now in command of a vessel, and not more than twenty years old.  I
reflected what a career was before me, if I was fortunate, and never
neglected an opportunity of distinguishing myself; and I vowed that I
never would, and prayed to Heaven to assist my endeavours.  Lord de
Versely's kindness to me had struck deep into my heart, and my anxiety
was, that he should be proud of me.  And then I thought of the chances
for and against me; he might marry and have children; that would be the
worst thing that could happen to me: if he did not marry, his other
brother had a large family, and the title would go to the eldest son;
but that was nothing to me.

While I was summoning up all these contingencies in my mind, there was a
knock at the cabin door.  "Come in," said I.  "Oh! is it you, Cross?
I'm glad to see you.  Sit down there.  You see I command a vessel at
last, Bob."

"Yes, sir; and you'll command a larger one before long, I hope; but as
to your being in command of a vessel--there's nothing very surprising in
that; what is surprising is, to find myself a warrant officer--the idea
never came into my head.  I must write, and tell my little girl of my
good fortune; it will make her and her mother very happy."

"I must do the same, Cross.  My mother will be very much pleased to hear
all I have to tell her."

"I haven't heard it myself yet, Mr Keene, and that's why I came in,"
replied Bob.  "I know you don't want advice now; but I can't help having
a wish to know what took place between you and his lordship."

"No one has a better right to know than you, Cross, who have been such a
sincere friend to me; so now I'll tell you."

I then entered into a detail of all that had passed between Lord de
Versely and me, and also what the admiral had said to me.

"All's right, Mr Keene," replied Bob; "and let the admiral only give us
something to do and I think you'll believe me when I say that the
boatswain of the Firefly will back you as long as he has a pin to stand
upon."

"That I'm sure of, Bob; you will ever be my right-hand man.  There are
two midshipmen on board, I perceive: what sort of lads may they be?"

"I haven't had time to find out; but you have a capital ship's company--
that the gunner and carpenter both say."

"And a very fine vessel, Bob."

"Yes, sir, and a regular flyer, they say, if she is well managed.  You
have never been in a schooner, Mr Keene, but I have, and for nearly
three years, and I know how to handle one as well as most people."

"So much the better, Cross, for I know nothing about it.  Come, I will
ring the bell; I suppose some one will answer it."  A lad made his
appearance.

"Were you Mr Williams's servant?"

"Yes, sir."

"Get me out a bottle of wine and some glasses--there, that will do."

"Now, Bob, let's drink success to the Firefly."

"Here's success to the Firefly, Mr Keene, and success to the captain.
May you do well in her, and be soon out of her."

"Thank you, Bob: here's your health, and may we long sail together."

Bob and I finished the bottle, and then we parted.

The next day, I was very busy in examining my vessel and my ship's
company.  The schooner was a beautiful model, very broad in the beam,
and very low in the water; she mounted one long brass thirty-two-pounder
forward on a circular sweep, so that it could be trained in every
direction; abaft, she had four brass nine-pound carronades.  My ship's
company consisted of sixty men and officers; that is, myself, two mids,
boatswain, gunner, and carpenter.  The mids were young lads of about
sixteen years of age, a Mr Brown and a Mr Black, gawky tall boys, with
their hands thrust too far though the sleeves of their jackets, and
their legs pulled too far through their trowsers; in fact, they were
growing lads, who had nothing but their pay to subsist upon, being both
sons of warrant officers.  They bore very good characters, and I
resolved to patronise them, and the first thing which I did was, to
present them each with a new suit of uniform and a few other
necessaries, so as to make them look respectable; a most unheard-of
piece of patronage, and which it is, therefore, my boast to record.  The
fact is, I was resolved that my schooner should look respectable; my
ship's company were really a very fine body of men, most of them tall
and stout, and I had received a very good character of them from the
officer who had invalided.  I had taken all his stores and furniture off
his hands, for I had plenty of money, and to spare.

As soon as I had examined my ship's company, I made them a speech, the
which, although they were bound to hear it, I shall not inflict upon the
reader, and I then went down and examined every portion of the vessel,
ascertained what there was in her and where everything was.  Bob Cross
accompanied me in this latter duty, which was not over till dinner-time.

The next morning my signal was made, and I went up to the admiral.

"Mr Keene," said the admiral, "here are despatches to take down to the
governor of Curacao.  When can you be ready?"

"Now, sir," replied I; "and if you will make the signal for the Firefly
to weigh anchor, there will be so much time gained."

"Very good, Keene; tell them to make the signal.  You must make all the
haste you can, as they are important.  Here are your orders: after you
have delivered your despatches, you will be allowed to cruise down in
that quarter, as I understand there are some very mischievous vessels in
that direction.  I hope you will give me a good account of one or two of
them, if you fall in with them."

"I will do my best, sir," replied I.

"Well, I sent you on purpose.  I have ordered the senior officer at
Curacao to forward the return despatches by the Mosquito, that you may
have a chance.  I won't ask you to stay to dinner, as it is an affair
that presses, so of course you will carry a press of sail.  Good-bye,
and I wish you success."

I took my leave of the admiral and hastened down to the town.  In an
hour afterwards the Firefly was driving along with a fine breeze on the
quarter, and long before night the vessels in the harbour were not to be
distinguished.  The breeze freshened after the sun went down, and I
remained on deck, carrying on to the last moment.  Bob Cross once or
twice ventured to say, that we had better reduce the sail; but I told
Bob that the admiral was very anxious that I should make a quick
passage.

"Yes, Mr Keene, but `turning the turtle' is not making a quick passage,
except to the other world, and the admiral does not wish his despatches
to go there.  She is a fine boat, sir, but there may be too much sail
carried on a good vessel: the men say she never has been so pressed
before."

"Well, you are right, Bob, and so we will take a little off her."

"Yes, sir; it's my watch coming on now, and I will carry all she can
bear with safety, and I think she will go quite as fast as she does now.
We shall have more wind yet, sir, depend upon it."

"Well, so long as it is fair, I don't mind how much," replied I.  "Send
the watch aft."

We reduced the sail, and then I went down to bed.

At daylight I awoke and went on deck.  The carpenter had the watch, for
the watches were entrusted to the warrant officers, who were all good
seamen, and accustomed to the schooner.  I found that the wind had
freshened, but was steady from the same quarter, and the schooner was
darting through the water at a tremendous rate.

"She sails well, Mr Hayter," said I.

"Yes, sir, that she does," replied he; "and never sailed better than she
does now.  I was a little alarmed for my sticks, last night, until you
shortened sail."

"Admiral's order to carry a press of sail, Mr Hayter."

"Well, sir, then by Jove you obey orders; you half frightened the men,
although they had been so long in the vessel."

I felt, by what the carpenter had said, that I had been rash.  Neither
he nor Bob Cross would have ventured so much if I had not been so; and
they understood the vessel better than I did, so I resolved to be guided
by them until I felt able to judge for myself.  Notwithstanding that
sail was afterwards carried more prudently, we had a most remarkably
rapid passage; for we took the breeze with us down the whole way, not
seeing a vessel during the run.  I had another cause of impatience,
which was, to ascertain if Mr Vanderwelt and Minnie had left the
island.

On my arrival, I went first to the naval commanding officer, and then to
the governor's, delivering my credentials.  They complimented me on my
having been so active.  I accepted the governor's invitation to dinner,
and then went to inquire after Mr Vanderwelt.  I walked first to his
house, but found it occupied by a Scotch merchant, who, however, was
very polite.  He stated that he was an old friend of Mr Vanderwelt, and
could give me every information, as he had received letters from him
very lately; and that, in those letters, Mr Vanderwelt had informed him
that I had said, in my last letter to them, that I was again on the West
India station, and requested him, if I came to the island, to show me
every attention.  "So, my dear sir," continued Mr Fraser, "I trust you
will enable me to comply with my friend Mr Vanderwelt's injunctions,
and consider this house as your home during your stay here."

I thanked Mr Fraser and accepted the offer.  I sent for my portmanteau,
and slept there that night after I had dined with the governor.  At
dinner I met Captain C---, who told me he had orders to send me on a
cruise, and asked when I would be ready.  I replied, that I should like
a day or two to lift my rigging and overhaul it, as I had been very much
strained in my passage down.

"No wonder," replied he; "you must have flown--indeed, your log proves
it.  Well, I will send you as soon as you are ready.  The Naiad sloop is
out, and so is the Driver brig, both in pursuit of three vessels, which
have done a great deal of mischief.  One is a French brig of fourteen
guns, very fast and full of men.  She has her consort, a large schooner,
who is also a regular clipper.  The other vessel is a brigantine, a very
fine vessel, built at Baltimore--of course, under French colours: she
cruises alone.  I don't know how many guns she carries, but I suspect
that both she and the brig will be too much for you; and unless you
could catch the schooner away from her consort, you will not be able to
do much with the Firefly."

"I will do my best, sir," replied I.  "I have a very fine set of men on
board, and I think, very good officers."

"Well, at all events, if you can't fight, you have a good pair of heels
to run with," replied Captain C---; "but dinner's announced."

I left early, that I might have some conversation with Mr Fraser.  On
my return we sat down to some sangoree and cigars; and then he told me
that Mr Vanderwelt had left Curacao about nine months before, and that
my last letter directed to him had been forwarded to Holland.  He had
often heard the history of my saving their lives on board of the pirate
vessel from Mr Vanderwelt who made it a constant theme of his
discourse; and, added Mr Fraser, "You do not know what a regard he has
for you."

"And little Minnie, sir?" inquired I: "it is now nearly five years since
I saw her."

"Little Minnie is no longer little Minnie, Mr Keene, I can assure you.
She was _fifteen_ when she left the island, and had grown a tall and
very beautiful girl.  All the young men here were mad about her and
would have followed her not only to Holland, but to the end of the
world, I believe, if they thought that they had the least chance--but
from my intimacy with the family, I tell you candidly, that I think if
you were to meet again, you would not have a bad one; for she talks
incessantly of you when alone with her father: but I must not divulge
family secrets."

"I fear there is little chance of my meeting again with her," replied I:
"I have to carve my way up in my profession, and this war does not
appear likely to be over soon.  That I should like to see her and her
father again, I grant; for I have made but few friendships during my
life, and theirs was one of the most agreeable.  Where is Mr Vanderwelt
settled?"

"He is not in Holland--he is at Hamburg.  Well there is no saying;
accident may bring you together again, as it did on board of the pirate;
and I hope it may."

Shortly afterwards we went to bed.  I must say, his description of
Minnie, which was even much more in detail than I have narrated to the
reader, did prevent my going to sleep for a long while.  Women, as the
reader may have seen, never once troubled my thoughts!  I had fed upon
one sole and absorbing idea, that of being acknowledged by Captain
Delmar; this was, and had been, the source and spring of every action,
and was the only and daily object of reverie; it was my ambition, and
ambition in any shape, in whatever direction it may be led, is so
powerful as to swallow up every other passion of the human mind; but
still I had a strong affection for Minnie--that is for little Minnie, as
I saw her first, with her beautiful large eyes and Madonna countenance,
clinging to her father.  With the exception of my own relations, who
were so much my seniors, I had had nothing to bestow my affections on--
had not even made the acquaintance, I may say, of a woman, unless my
casual intercourse with Bob Cross's Mary, indeed, might be so
considered.  A passion for the other sex was, therefore, new to me; but,
although new, it was pleasing, and, perhaps, more pleasing, from being,
in the present case, ideal; for I had only a description of Minnie as
she was, and a recollection of what she had been.  I could, therefore,
between the two, fill up the image with what was, to my fancy, the ideal
of perfection.  I did so again and again, until the night wore away;
and, tired out at last, I fell fast asleep.

The next day, after I had been on board of the schooner, and given my
orders to Bob Cross, I returned to Mr Fraser, and sat down to write to
Mr Vanderwelt; I also wrote to Minnie, which I had never done before.
That my night reveries had an effect on me is certain, for I wrote her a
long letter; whereas, had I commenced one before my arrival at Curacao,
I should have been puzzled to have made out ten lines.  I told her I was
sitting in the same chair, that I was sleeping in the same room, that I
could not look around me without being reminded of her dear face, and
the happy hours we passed together; that Mr Fraser had told me how tall
she had grown, and was no longer the little Minnie that used to kiss me.
In fact, I wrote quite romantically as well as affectionately, and when
I read over my letter, wondered how it was that I had become so
eloquent.  I begged Mr Vanderwelt to write to me as soon as possible,
and tell me all about their doings.  I sealed my letter, and then threw
myself back in my chair, and once more indulged in the reveries of the
night before.  I had a new feeling suddenly sprung up in my heart, which
threatened to be a formidable rival to my ambition.

In two days the Firefly was ready, and I reported her as being so to
Captain C---.  He gave me my orders, which were to cruise for six weeks,
and then to rejoin the admiral at Port Royal, unless circumstances
should make me think it advisable to return to the island.  The boats of
the men-of-war were sent to tow me out of the harbour, and I was once
more on the wide blue sea--the schooner darting along like a dolphin.

For a fortnight we cruised without seeing any vessel but the Naiad.  I
was very much afraid that the captain would have ordered me to keep
company; but as he considered his vessel quite a match for the brig and
schooner if he should fall in with them, and did not want the
prize-money to be shared with the crew of the Firefly, he allowed me to
go my own way, saying to me, laughingly, as I went over the side, "They
will certainly take you if they meet you, and we shall have to recapture
you."

"Well, I hope you will not forget your promise, sir," replied I; "I
shall depend upon you."

During the fortnight that I had been out, I had taken great pains in
exercising the men at their guns, the great gun particularly; and I had
had an excellent sight put on it, which it had not, and very much
required.  During two or three days' calm, I had fired shot at a mark
for three or four hours each day, and I found that the men, with this
little practice, were very expert, and could hit a very small object,
now that the sight was put on the gun.  The two best shots, however,
were the gunner and Bob Cross.

The night after we parted from the Naiad, I had run to the southward,
having heard from the captain that the Driver was more to the northward
than he was.  There was nothing in sight on the next day, and when the
evening set in, the wind being very light, and water smooth, I said to
Cross, "Suppose we furl sail at night--it is just as good as running
about; we then shall see them if they come in our way, and they will not
see us."

"A very good idea, Mr Keene; we must keep a good look-out, that's all."

I followed up my own suggestion; we furled the sails, and leaving two
men with the officer of the watch to keep a sharp look-out, allowed the
rest of the ship's company to remain in the hammocks during the whole of
the night.

When day broke we had two look-out men at the mast-head, but remained
with our sails furled as before, for the same reason, that we should
discern a vessel by her sails long before she could discover us.  The
more I thought of it, the more convinced I was of the advantage to be
gained by the following up of this plan.  I was on the exact cruising
ground I wished to be, and therefore could not do better while the
weather remained so fine.



CHAPTER TWENTY FOUR.

Four nights and three days we remained in this way; during which my men
had nothing to do but to exercise at the guns, and of that I took care
they should have a good spell.  On the fourth night the wind was a
little fresher, but the water quite smooth.  I had turned in about
twelve o'clock, and had been asleep about an hour when Cross came and
called me.

"Well, Cross," said I, "what is it?"

"Here they are, sir."

"What?--the privateers?"

"Yes, sir; the brig and schooner both coming down right before the wind;
they are on our weather quarter, and will pass us within two miles, if
not nearer."

I left my bed-place, and was dressed in a minute.  I went on deck with
my glass, and directed it to the vessels, which were quite plain to the
naked eye.

"Put out the binnacle light, Cross," said I; "they might discover us."

The brig, which was the headmost of the two vessels, was now nearly
crossing our stern.  The schooner was about a mile astern of her.

"Turn the hands up, Cross; see all ready for action and making sail."

"Not yet, sir, surely!"

"No, not yet; we will let them run two or three miles dead to leeward,
and then follow them till daylight, or till they see us, when, of
course, they will be after us."

"It's very fortunate, sir, that we did furl the sails; for had they come
down, and we under sail, they would have seen us, and we should have
been to leeward of them, which would have given us a poor chance against
such odds; now we shall have the weather-gage, and may choose, if our
heels are as good as theirs, which I expect they are, if not better."

"I shall fight them in some shape or another, Bob, you may depend upon
it."

"Of course you will, Mr Keene, or you'll disappoint us all.  The ship's
company have every confidence in you, I can tell you."

"Thanks to your long yarns, Bob, I presume."

"Thanks to my telling the truth, Mr Keene.  The schooner is right
astern of us now, so there's the weather-gage gone--thank God!"

We remained as we were till I considered the two vessels sufficiently to
leeward, and the sails were then set upon the Firefly, and first running
to the eastward, so as to get right in the wind's eye of them, I put the
helm up, and followed them.  We had continued our course in their wake
for about an hour, when day dawned, and the schooner, who had discovered
us, fired a gun as a signal to her concert.

"So you've found us out at last, have you?" said Bob Cross--"at all
events, we keep a better look-out than you do, old fellow."

Shortly after the gun was fired, both vessels hauled to the wind on the
larboard tack, and we did the same: being about four miles to windward
of the schooner and five or five and a half of the brig, we could now
examine our adversaries.  The schooner was, apparently, about the same
tonnage as the Firefly, a very beautiful vessel with her masts raking
over her stern.  She was painted black, and we could not ascertain, at
first, how many guns she carried, as her ports were shut; but after a
short time she knocked out her half ports to prepare for action, and
then we discovered that she carried twelve guns, but not a long gun on a
swivel like the one on board of the Firefly.  I observed this to Cross,
who replied, "Then, sir, all we have to do now is to try our rate of
sailing with them, and if we are faster than they are we have not much
to fear--unless we lose a spar, indeed; but luck's all, Mr Keene.  The
schooner has more sail on her than we have; shall we set exactly the
same?"

"No, Cross, for I think we have fore-reached upon her already, and, if
we can beat her with less sail set, it will do just as well.  I think
that the breeze is steady; if anything, we shall have more than less of
it."

For an hour we continued running on the same tack with them, by which
time we found that we had not only brought the schooner one point abaft
our beam, but had weathered her at least half a mile.  We therefore were
fully satisfied that we had sailed better than the schooner.  With the
brig it was not so.  Although we had brought the schooner two points
abaft our beam, the brig was much in her former position, being still
half a point abaft our beam, and moreover had come in much closer to the
schooner, proving that we had neither weathered her, nor fore-reached
upon her.  As near as we could judge, our sailing with the brig was much
upon a par.  Having ascertained this point more satisfactorily by
allowing another hour of trial, I desired the men to get their
breakfasts, while I and the officers did the same, and as soon as that
was done, I ordered the Firefly to be kept away--edging down till within
good range of our long brass thirty-two-pound gun--that is, about one
mile and a half--when we again hauled our wind and hoisted the English
colours.

The tri-colour was immediately thrown up by the two Frenchmen, and a
shot was fired at us by the schooner: it fell exhausted into the water
about half a cable's length from us.

"Now, Cross," said I, "see if we can't return the compliment with a
little better success."

Cross, who had been training the gun, and had his eye on the sight,
waited for a second or two, and fired: we saw the shot pass through the
first reef of his main-sail, and dash into the water to leeward of him.

"Very good that, Cross; but hull him if you can."

The schooner now returned the fire with the whole broadside, apparently
twelve pounders; but they did not throw so far as our long
thirty-two-pounder, and no shot went over us, although one fell close
under the stern.  At the distance, therefore, that we were, we had
everything in our favour and my object was to dismantle the schooner
before any chance enabled the brig to assist her.  We continued to fire
at her, taking the greatest pains in our aim, for the next hour, during
which we ascertained that we had hulled her more than once, and had very
much cut up her spars and rigging.  She continued to return the fire,
but without effect.  One or two shots hit us, but their force was so
much spent by the distance they were propelled, that they did not enter
the sides.  At last a shot fired by the gunner did the job; it struck
her foremast, which shortly afterwards went by the board.  The Fireflies
gave three cheers at the good fortune.

"She's done for, sir," said Cross.  "Now for the brig--we must try what
metal she carries."

"Stop a bit," said I, "Cross; we must give the schooner a little more
before she gets away.  They have lowered down the main-sail and I
presume, intend getting up some head-sail, so as to pay off, and run
under the lee of the brig for shelter.  Put the helm up, and run down so
as to keep the schooner about two points on our larboard bow.  Get the
gun round, and pitch it into her."

As we had supposed, the schooner got a stay up from her bowsprit and to
her mainmast head, and hoisted a fore and aft sail upon it, that she
might pay off, and run down to her consort for support; but as we ran
three feet to her one, and now stood directly for her, we were enabled
to get close to her, and put several shots into her from our long gun as
we advanced.  She did not attempt to round to, to give us her broadside,
and our raking shot must have had great effect.  When within half a mile
of her we rounded to, and gave her our broadside; for had we followed
her any further we should have been closer to the brig than might be
agreeable.  Indeed, we were nearer than we thought, for she had
continued to hug the wind, and was so weatherly, that she was not more
than a mile to leeward of us when we rounded to the wind again; but as
she had fore-reached upon the schooner, she was distant from us about
two miles.  As we rounded to the brig tacked, and we immediately did the
same; and we now had a fair trial of sailing with her.

"Cross, let the men go down and get what they can to eat," said I, "and
get up the grog.  We shall have plenty of work before the night is over,
I expect."

"We must make a running fight of it, sir, I expect, for she is too heavy
for us."

"I shall try her the same way as the schooner, Cross," replied I.  "If I
can only knock away some of her spars without losing my own, I shall
then be able to do something; if, on the contrary, we lose our spars,
and she gets alongside of us, why then we must fight to the last."

"I consider that schooner as our own," replied Bob; "she must haul down
her colours when no longer protected by the brig."

"Yes; I was afraid that she would run away to leeward altogether; but I
see she has rounded to, and is no doubt getting up a jury fore-mast."

I allowed the men to remain an hour at their dinner, and then they were
summoned up.  During the hour we found the rate of sailing between us
and the brig so nearly balanced, that it was impossible to say which had
the best of it.

"Now, my lads, we will wear round, and get a little closer to this
fellow, and see what we can do with him."

The men were full of spirits and hope, and were as anxious to decide the
question as I was.  In ten minutes we passed the brig within a mile on
opposite tacks, and had given her our long gun three times, and had
received her broadside.

"He has long twelve-pounders, I think, sir," said Cross; "smart guns, at
all events.  There's a fore shroud and a back stay gone; but that's no
great matter."

As soon as the brig was three points abaft the beam we tacked, and
recommenced firing.  Not a shot was thrown away by my men.  I believe
the brig was hulled every time; nor was her fire without effect upon us.
Our rigging was much cut up; several of her shots had gone through our
sails, and we had two men hurt.  I was annoyed at this, as we had no
surgeon on board.  The assistant surgeon who had belonged to the
schooner was at the hospital, and there was not one to replace him when
we sailed.  However, we had one of the men belonging to the hospital--a
sort of dispenser--who knew very well how to manage anything that was
not very serious.

The breeze had gradually died away, and we did not go more than three
miles through the water; and as our sails were much torn, we did not
hold so good a wind.  The consequence was that the distance between us
and our antagonist was, by two o'clock, decreased to half a mile, and
the fight became very warm.  Our broadside guns were now called into
play, and assisted us very much, as we directed them chiefly at her
sails and rigging, while our long thirty-two-pounder was fired at her
hull, pointed below her water-line.  She had the advantage in number of
guns, certainly; but our large shots from the long gun were more
destructive.

About three we knocked away her fore-topmast, which enabled us to shoot
ahead about a quarter of a mile, and increase our distance, which was a
boon to us, for we latterly had suffered very much.  We had eight men
wounded and one of my poor middies killed; and we had received several
shots in the hull.  Now that we had increased our distance, we had a
better chance, as our long gun was more effective than those of the
brig.  At five o'clock it fell dead calm, and both vessels lay with
their heads round the compass; this was also in our favour, as we could
train our long gun on its circular bend in any direction we pleased; but
the brig contrived, by getting sweeps out of her bow ports, to bring her
broadside to bear upon us, and the action continued till night closed
in.



CHAPTER TWENTY FIVE.

As it may be supposed, my men were completely worn out with the fatigue
and excitement of the day; and Cross said, "There's no saying how this
will end, Mr Keene; but, at all events, we have not the worst of it at
present."

"No, Bob," replied I.  "I wish the men were not so knocked up."

"Oh, as for that, sir, I'll answer for it, that if you serve out some
more grog, make them eat half a biscuit at the tub before they drink it,
and make them a little bit of a speech, that they'll go on for
twenty-four hours more."

"If that will have the effect, I'm sure I'll try it," replied I.  "Which
shall they have first?"

"Oh, biscuit first, grog next, and then a speech afterwards."

"That fellow has not fired for this last five minutes; perhaps he wishes
to put it off till to-morrow morning; but I'll not; so get up the grog--
make it pretty strong: and I'll get something to eat myself, for I have
had nothing to eat all day."

As soon as the ship's company had had their refreshment, I sent for them
aft, and said, "My lads, you have behaved very well, and I am much
obliged to you.  We have had hard work, and I dare say you are tired
enough; but I will tell you what my opinion is: I think that we have
peppered that Frenchman very well; and I am convinced that you have put
a good many shots into him between wind and water.  Now, that he is
anxious to leave off fighting till to-morrow morning, that he may stop
his leaks and repair his damages, I have no doubt; indeed, he proves it
by his having ceased to fire.  For the very reason that he wants to
leave off, I wish to go on; for he is much heavier armed than we are,
and sails as well; and if we permit him to get all right and all ataunt
by to-morrow morning, he may prove a very awkward customer yet.  Now
what I propose is this, that we should first get up fresh sails, and
bend them, and then renew the action through the night.  There will be
no occasion for all of you to be on deck; we will fight the schooner
watch and watch till daylight."

"That's my opinion, Mr Keene," said Bob Cross.

"And mine," replied the carpenter.

"And all of us, Mr Keene," replied the ship's company with one voice.

"Then, my lads, let's work hard; and when we have settled that fellow,
we shall have plenty of time to sleep."

The men now set to with good-will; and the spare sails were got up, and
those which were shattered by the enemy unbent and replaced.  The new
sails, which we had bent, we furled--it was a dead calm--and then we
recommenced our fire, for we were nearer to her than when we ceased
firing, and could distinguish her very well.  We fired the long gun four
times before she returned a shot; she then opened very briskly, but none
of her shots did us any damage; our sails being furled, prevented her
distinguishing us as well as we could her.  After a time, we manned the
small guns on our broadside, and worked them, for our large gun was so
hot, that it was necessary to let it cool before we could reload it.  At
last one of their shots came in through the bulwarks; the splinters
wounded me and the carpenter; but I was not so much hurt as to oblige me
to leave the deck.  I bound up my leg with my handkerchief; the
carpenter, however, was taken down below.

"Are you much hurt, sir?" said Bob Cross.

"Oh, no; the flesh is lacerated a good deal, but it is not very deep."

"There's a little wind springing up, sir, from the right quarter," said
Bob.

"I'm glad to hear it," replied I, "for it will soon be daylight now."

At this moment another shot struck the hammock rail and a piece of it
about two feet long was sent with great force against Bob Cross's head;
he was stunned, if not worse, and fell immediately.  This was a severe
blow to me, as well as to poor Bob.  I desired two of the men who were
abaft, to take him down into my cabin, and do all they could for him;
and ordered the men to quit the broadside guns, and renew their fire
with the long 32-pounder.  In a quarter of an hour afterwards, the
breeze came down very strong, and I resolved to shoot ahead, farther off
from my antagonist, as I should have a better chance by using my long
gun at a greater distance.  The sails were set, and the schooner went
fast through the water, leaving the brig, who had also the benefit of
the breeze; and for a time the firing again ceased.  On reflection, I
determined that I would wait till daylight, which would appear in less
than half an hour, before I renewed the action.

I contrived with some difficulty--for my leg was so numbed that I could
scarcely feel that I had one--to go down into the cabin and see Bob
Cross.  He was recovering, but very wild and incoherent.  As far as I
could judge, his skull was not injured, although the splinter had torn
off a large portion of the scalp, and he was drenched with his blood.
At all events, he could be of no further assistance to me at present,
nor could I be to him, so I regained the deck, and sat down abaft, for
my leg had become so painful, that I could not stand but for a few
minutes.

At last the day dawned, and I could distinctly make out both brig and
schooner.  I was about a mile and a half distant from the brig; she had,
since the wind sprung up, driven a mile ahead of the schooner, who had
contrived to get up a jury-mast during the night; but as she could not
stir without reducing her after-sail, she had close-reefed her
main-sail, so that she could make but little progress.  The brig was
very much cut up in her sails and rigging, and I saw at once that I had
now the advantage in sailing; I therefore wore round and stood towards
them; the brig did the same, and went down to the schooner that she
might have her support.  We immediately recommenced firing with our long
gun, and as soon as we were within a mile, I hove to.  The brig and
schooner then both bore up and gave us their broadsides; they had just
done so, when the midshipman who was on deck with me cried out, "A large
sail coming down before the wind, Mr Keene."

I caught up my glass.  It was a sloop of war; the cut of her sails and
rigging evidently English.  "It must be the Naiad," said I.  "Well, I'm
glad of it.  We shall lose some prize-money; but at all events we
require her surgeon, and that is of more consequence."

My men, who were quite tired out, were in great spirits at the
appearance of a friend.  The brig had set studding-sails; she had
evidently seen the vessel to windward, and was now trying to escape, and
the schooner was following her as well she could.  I immediately kept
away in pursuit, and when I fired into the schooner she hauled down her
colours.  I did not wait to take possession, but followed the brig, who
appeared to sail as well off the wind as she did when close hauled.
Once or twice she rounded to return my fire, but afterwards she
continued running before the wind, having got two of her guns aft, with
which she attempted to cut away my rigging.  In the meantime, the
strange vessel to windward had hoisted English colours, and was bringing
down with her a spanking breeze: fortunately it was so, for my
fore-topmast was knocked away by the fire of the brig, and I now dropped
fast astern.

We had scarcely got up a new fore-topmast and set sail again, when the
Naiad, who had exchanged numbers with me, passed the schooner without
taking possession of her, and was very soon not a mile from us.  In half
an hour she was alongside and hailing me to haul my wind and take
possession of the schooner, continued in chase of the brig.  I obeyed my
orders, and by the time I had put my men on board of the schooner, the
brig had hove to and hauled down her colours to the Naiad.

We ran down to her in company with the prize, and then sent a boat
requesting immediate surgical attendance.  The Naiad's surgeon and his
assistant were brought on board in one of the sloop-of-war's boats, and
a lieutenant, to obtain from me the particulars of the action, which I
gave to him.  The lieutenant told me that they had heard the firing
about one o'clock in the morning, and had in consequence bore up; but
the brig had so many shot in her, and was making so much water, that
they were almost afraid that they would not be able to get her into
port.  But I was now quite faint with the pain of my wound and
exhaustion, and was carried below to have it dressed.  All our men had
been attended to, and I was glad to hear that Bob Cross was in no
danger, although his wound was very severe.  The surgeon's assistant was
allowed to remain on board, and the captain of the Naiad sent all my men
back and manned the prizes, giving me orders to keep company with him.
As soon as my wound was dressed, and I was put into my bed, I felt much
relieved, and soon afterwards fell fast asleep.



CHAPTER TWENTY SIX.

The prizes proved to be the Diligente brig, of fourteen guns, and two
hundred and ten men, and Caroline schooner, of eight guns, and one
hundred and twenty men--they had done a great deal of mischief, and
their capture was of importance.  The captain of the Naiad's orders were
to return to Curacao, and we all made sail before sunset.  Our loss had
been severe: commanding officer, boatswain, carpenter, and twelve men
wounded--one midshipman and two men killed.

The next morning our signal was made to pass within hail, and the
captain of the Naiad inquired how I was.  The surgeon's assistant
replied that I and all the wounded were doing well, and there was no
more communication till we arrived at Curacao on the fourth day, by
which time I was rapidly recovering.

Mr Fraser, as soon as he heard of my being hurt, immediately came on
board and insisted upon my being taken on shore to his house, and I
gladly consented.  The next day I had a visit from Captain C, the
commanding officer, and the captain of the Naiad.  Captain C asked me if
I was well enough to write the account of the action.  I replied that I
was, and that I would send it the next day.  He and the captain of the
Naiad both paid me many compliments for having fought a superior force
for so long a time, and Captain C said that as soon as I was well enough
he would send me up to Jamaica, as bearer of my own despatches to the
admiral.

I requested, as a particular favour of Mr Fraser, that he would allow
Bob Cross to be sent ashore to his house, and Mr Fraser immediately
consented.  My friend Bob was therefore brought up that evening, and was
soon established in very comfortable quarters.

We had been a fortnight at the island, during which my wound was healing
rapidly, and I was able to hop about with a crutch.  Cross also was out
of bed, and able to sit up for an hour or two on the verandah, in the
cool of which I spent the best part of the day, with my wounded limb
resting upon a sofa.  From the veranda we had a view of the harbour, and
one morning I perceived that there were two additional vessels which had
anchored during the night; they proved to be the Driver and the
brigantine privateer, which she had captured after a chase and running
fight of forty-eight hours.  I was glad of this, as I knew what pleasure
it would give to the admiral.

I now again indulged in my dreams of Minnie, who had been forgotten as
soon as I had left the harbour and been engaged in active service.
Stretched upon a sofa, with my wounded leg, I had nothing else to do, or
rather nothing else which was so agreeable to me.  I wrote to her again,
and also to my mother; neither did I forget that Lord de Versely had
requested at parting that I should write to him.  I did so in a very
respectful manner, detailing what had occurred.

When we had been three weeks at Curacao, all our wounded, as well as
myself, had so far recovered, that there was no reason for the Firefly
not proceeding to Jamaica.  The commanding officer lent an
assistant-surgeon to the schooner.  I received my despatches, took a
grateful leave of Mr Fraser, and the Firefly was once more skimming
over the water.  In three weeks we arrived at Port Royal, and I took up
my despatches.

"Happy to see you, Keene," said the admiral.  "Hollo! what makes you
limp in that way?  Have you hurt your leg?"

"Yes, sir," replied I; "I'm not quite well yet, but the despatches of
Captain C will explain all."

As no vessel had sailed from Curacao, the admiral had no idea of what
had happened.

"Well, then," said he, "sit down on that sofa, Mr Keene, while I read
the despatches."

I watched the admiral's countenance, and was delighted to witness the
evident signs of satisfaction which he expressed as he read on.

"Excellent!" said he, as he closed them.  "Keene, you have done me a
great favour.  The remonstrances of the merchants, the badgering I have
received from the Admiralty by every packet, relative to the
depredations on our commerce by these vessels, have been enough to make
a saint swear.  Now they are happily disposed of, and I have chiefly to
thank you for it.  Captain C informs me that the brig is well adapted
for his Majesty's service, but that the schooner is an old vessel."  The
admiral then left the room.  In a few minutes he returned with a paper
in his hand, which he laid upon the table, and, taking up a pen, he
signed it and presented it to me, saying--"_Captain_ Keene, I trust you
will give me the pleasure of your company to dinner; and, as you are
still very lame, I think you had better make a signal for your servant
and traps, and take up your quarters at the Penn till you are quite
recovered."

Perceiving that I was too much agitated to reply, he continued, "I must
leave you now;" then extending his hand, he said, "Allow me to be the
first to wish you joy on your promotion, which you have so well
deserved."  He then went out of the room.  It really was so unexpected--
so little dreamt of, this sudden promotion, that I was confused.  I had
hoped that, by a continuance of good conduct, I might in a year or two
obtain it; but that I should receive it after only one cruise in the
schooner was beyond all my imagination.  I felt grateful, and as soon as
I was more composed, I returned thanks to Heaven, and vowed eternal
gratitude to the admiral.  I felt that I was a step nearer to Lord de
Versely, and I thought of the pleasure it would give my mother and
Minnie.  I had been alone about half an hour, when the admiral returned.

"I have just sent for an old messmate of yours, Captain Keene, who was
severely wounded in your action with the Dutch frigate; he has now
passed, and Lord de Versely recommended him to me as a deserving young
officer--a Mr Dott."

"Oh, yes, admiral; he was my first acquaintance when I went to sea.  He
has been to sea longer than I have, but he lost a good deal of his
time."

"Well I am going to give him an acting order for your brig.  I hope he
is a good, smart officer."

"Yes, admiral, he is a very good officer indeed," replied I, laughing.
"Will you oblige me by not telling him that I am to be his captain, till
after we have met?"

"Ah, some mischief, I suppose; but if we make captains of such boys as
you we must expect that.  Are your wounded men all going on well?"

"All, sir,--even Bob Cross, the boatswain, whose head was half knocked
off, is quite well again.  He was Lord de Versely's coxswain, sir, and
you were kind enough to give him his warrant."

"I recollect--a good man, is he not?"

"So good, sir, that the only regret I have in leaving the schooner is,
that I cannot take him with me.  He is my right-hand man and I owe much
to him, and it will be a sore blow to him as well as to me."

"I see, you want him made boatswain of your brig--that's it."

"I assure you, admiral, I should be most grateful if you would have that
kindness."

"I am always ready to promote a good man; your recommending him, and his
severe wound, are sufficient.  He shall be your boatswain, Keene."

"You are very kind, sir," replied I.  "I hope I shall do justice to your
patronage."

"I've no fear of that, Keene, and I know that a man, to work well,
should, as far as he can, choose his own tools.  Mr Dott is waiting
now, and as soon as he has his acting order, I will send him in to you."

About ten minutes afterwards Mr Tommy Dott made his appearance; he
extended his hand to me, saying, in a haw-haw way, "Keene, my dear
fellow, I'm glad to see you."  He certainly did look two or three inches
taller, for he walked almost on tiptoe.

"Glad to see you, Tommy," said I; "well, what's the news?"

"Nothing, I believe, except what you have brought.  I hear you had a bit
of a brush, and got winged."

"Even so, Tommy," replied I, pointing to my wounded leg.  "The admiral
has kindly asked me to stay here until I'm better."

"I dine with him to-day," replied Tommy; "but as for staying here, I
should think that rather a bore.  By the bye, Keene, what sort of a
craft is that Diligente brig which the Naiad and you took?"

"A very fine craft, Tommy: sails as well as the Firefly."

"Oh, you, of course, swear by your own vessel; and there's nothing like
the schooner--that's natural enough; now, I must say, I prefer something
a little larger, and, therefore, I'm not sorry that I have my commission
for the new brig."

"Indeed!  Tommy; I wish you joy," replied I.

"Thank ye, Keene," replied Tommy, very dignified.  "I wonder," said he,
"what sort of a skipper we shall have.  There's the first lieutenant of
the Naiad has a good chance.  I saw him: a very sharp sort of gentleman,
and carries his head remarkably high; but that won't do for me.  I'll
not allow any captain to play tricks in a ship that I'm aboard of.  I
know the rules and regulations of the service as well as any one, and
that the captain shall see, if he attempts to go beyond his tether."

"Now, Tommy," replied I, "you know, that although you talk so big, if
you had been appointed a lieutenant into a ship commanded by Lord de
Versely, you would have been as much afraid of him as a lieutenant as
you used to be as a midshipman."

"Lord de Versely," replied Tommy, who felt the truth of what I said:
"he's a peculiar sort of man."

"Take my word for it, Tommy, you'll find all captains peculiar to one
point; which is, that they expect respectful behaviour, and not
cavilling, from their officers; and our service is so peculiar, that it
is absolutely necessary that the officers should set this example to the
men."

"Yes; that may be very well; but who knows but the captain of the brig
may be some young fellow, who has seen no more service than myself--
perhaps, not been to sea so long?"

"That is no reason that you should not obey his orders; indeed, if not
experienced, you ought to do all you can to support him."

"Well, if he was to ask my advice, indeed--"

"But he may not require your advice, Tommy, he may prefer deciding for
himself.  Now, the first lieutenant of the Naiad is a great Tartar, and
I'm certain, if he is your captain, that, on the first word, he would
have you under an arrest.  There's an old saying, Tommy, `It's folly to
kick against tenpenny nails;' and that every officer does who kicks
against his superior.  I can assure you, Tommy, that if ever I am a
captain, my officers shall obey me implicitly.  I will have no cavilling
at my orders.  I will always treat them as gentlemen, and support their
authority, as they ought to support mine; but captain of my own ship I
would be, and I suspect that it would go hard with any officer who
ventured to dispute my rights."

"Well, I dare say you will be a martinet, or rather that you are one
now, as you command a schooner.  However, as I never intend to sail with
you, that's nothing to me.  I'm sure, from what has passed, that you and
I should have a row before we were a week on board; for I'm not to be
played with."

"Well, Tommy, I'm very glad we have had this explanation; for now we
both know what to expect.  I am resolved to be captain, you to resist my
authority."

"No, no, I don't say that--I only say that I won't be played with--I
won't be trifled with."

"Tommy, I will neither play nor trifle with you; nor will you ever play
or trifle with me.  We have done that as midshipmen; in our new relative
situations it is not to be thought of for a moment.  Read this."  I
handed him my appointment as commander of the Diligente: Tommy cast his
eyes over it, and at once saw that his promotion did not prevent his
getting into scrapes, as usual.

"You a commander! you captain of the Diligente!  Why, I came to sea
before you."

"I know you did, Tommy; but, although you have been in the service
longer, you have not seen quite so much service as I have.  At all
events, I'm now your captain.  I flatter myself I shall make a very
tolerable one; and what is more, I have an idea that you will make a
very good lieutenant, as soon as the vanity, with which you have been
puffed up since your receiving your promotion, will have settled down a
little, and that you will find it much pleasanter to be on good terms
with your captain than to be eternally in hot water, especially with one
who, you know, is not a person to be played with."

Tommy looked very confused; he said nothing, but kept his eyes on my
commission, which he still held in his hand.  I had no idea that Tommy
Dott's being ignorant of my being captain of the brig would have
occasioned such a conversation as this.  I only wished to amuse myself
with him, and surprise him at the last.  Tommy perceived that he had
made a mess of it, and he stammered out some explanation as he returned
me the commission; and I replied: "The fact is, Dott, you were merely
cutting a caper upon your new promotion; you never meant what you said;
it was all talk.  You always have been very obedient to proper authority
since I have known you, and I am sure that you always will; so let's say
no more about it.  I wish you joy upon your promotion, and, what's more,
I'm very glad that we are to sail together."  Saying this, I held out my
hand, which Tommy took very readily, and we then began to talk on other
subjects.



CHAPTER TWENTY SEVEN.

I had written to Cross, informing him of my promotion, and his being
appointed to the Diligente.

I had been a fortnight with the admiral when the Naiad arrived with the
prizes in company, and, my wound being now cured, I took leave of the
admiral, and went down, that I might superintend the fitting out of my
new vessel.  As there were supernumerary men expected out of England,
the admiral, at my suggestion, allowed me to turn over the crew of the
Firefly to form the nucleus of my ship's company, and made up my
complement from his own ship.

In two months I was ready for sea, and most anxious to be off.  The
admiral perceived my impatience, but, as there was no other vessel in
the harbour, he would not let me go until another arrived, to be at his
disposal in case of emergency.  The weariness of so long remaining in
harbour was, however, a little relieved by a circumstance which took
place, and which probably will make my readers imagine that my
propensity for playing tricks was not quite eradicated.

I lodged at a sort of hotel, kept by a mulatto woman of the name of
Crissobella, as the negroes termed her, originally Christobela.  She was
of Spanish blood by the father's side, and had come down from the
Havannah.  She was very portly; very proud and dignified in her
carriage, and demanded as much attention from her lodgers as a lady
would who had received us as her guests, so that, to gain and retain
admittance into her hostelry, it was necessary not only to pay a large
bill, but compliments to an equal amount.  She was very rich, possessed
numerous slaves, and was perfectly independent of keeping an hotel.  I
believed she preferred to have something for her slaves and herself to
do, and moreover, probably, she felt that if she retired she should be
thought a person of no consequence, whereas in her present position she
received a great deal of attention.  One thing was certain, that if
those who lodged and boarded with her were very polite, and, on their
return from any other place, brought her small presents, she was very
indifferent as to their paying their bill; nay, to those who were her
favourites, her purse was open, and a handful of doubloons was freely
tendered, if required.

The living was the same as at a boarding-house.  Breakfast was ready in
the large hall by nine o'clock, and remained there until every one had
come down at their own hour.  Dinner was always ready at five o'clock,
and then Crissobella presided at the table.  She admitted civilians,
army officers, and navy, down to midshipmen; but warrant officers and
captains of merchant vessels were considered too low.  On the whole, it
was a very pleasant establishment, as the private rooms were well
furnished, the slaves numerous, and the attendance very good.
Considering the price of most eatables on that island, it could not be
considered as very dear, although the wines, etcetera, made up a
formidable bill at the end of the month.

This kind of exclusiveness on the part of Signora Crissobella made the
hotel quite the fashion, and certainly it was by far the best in the
town.  The inmates of it at this time were besides me Lieut.  Thomas
Dott and Lieut.  William Maxwell, both appointed to the Diligente; three
or four young civilians, on mercantile speculations from New York; three
midshipmen, who had been left behind on account of fever, and who were
promising fair, by the life they were now leading, to be very soon sent
to the hospital again; and one or two planters from the other islands.
The latter and I were very well behaved, but the civilians were noisy,
drinking and smoking from morning till night.  The midshipmen were
equally troublesome; and as for the new-made lieutenants, they were so
authoritative and so disagreeable, and gave themselves such
consequential airs, that Mammy Crissobella, as the slaves called her,
was quite indignant--she had never had such a disorderly set in her
house.

She complained to me, and I spoke to them, but that was of little use.
I had no power over the young merchants, and the three midshipmen did
not belong to my ship.  As for my lieutenants, I could not say much at
their giving themselves airs at an hotel where they paid for what they
had.  It was not an offence that a captain could remonstrate upon.  I
therefore merely said, that Mammy Crissobella could not have them in her
house if they did not leave off their treatment of the slaves, and if
they continued to give her so much trouble and annoyance.  At last our
hostess would stand their behaviour no longer, and ordered them all to
leave the hotel, sending in their bills; but they all were unanimous in
declaring that they would not go, and it was not very easy to use force
on such occasions.  I tried all I could to make matters right, but my
efforts were of little avail.  At last Mammy Crissobella became quite
furious.  She did not make any alteration in the meals, as that would be
punishing all of us; but she refused wine and spirits; this they did not
care for, as they sent for it elsewhere by their own servants, and there
was nothing but noise and confusion all day along.  Mammy often came to
appeal to me, and wished to go to the governor, but I persuaded her not
to do so; and the mutiny continued, and every day there was nothing but
altercation at the meals.

"So help me God, gemmen, you no gemmen.  You make wish me dead, dat you
do.  I tak obeah water some day.  I not live like this," said Mammy
Crissobella.  "I take pepper-pot--I kill myself."

"Pray don't do that," replied Tommy Dott; "we shall be put to the
expense of mourning."

"And I shall weep my eyes out," continued one of the mercantile
gentlemen.

"Weep your eyes out--is that all?  I shall blow my brains out," said
another.

"And I will lie down on your grave and die," said the third.

"Dat all very well, gemmen; you say dat and laugh--but I no slave.
'Pose I not get you out my house, I ab _vengeance_, now I tell you, so
look to that.  Yes," continued Mammy Crissobella, striking the table
with her fist, "I ab revenge."

"I have been thinking," said one of the mids, "what I shall do if Mammy
Crissobella takes pepper-pot; I shall marry Leila, and keep the hotel.
Mammy, you'll leave me the plate and furniture."

Leila was the head female slave--a very well-featured young mulatto
girl, and a great favourite, as she was always laughing, always in good
humour, and very kind and attentive.  At this remark Leila laughed, and
Mammy Crissobella, who observed her showing her white teeth, "You laugh,
you huzzy: what you laugh for, Leila?  Get away--get out of room.  I
give you nice flogging, by-by.  You dare laugh--you take side against
me, you nigger."

I must here observe that Mammy Crissobella had been closeted with me for
some time previous to this scene, and that Leila and the two planters
were in the secret; this was, of course, unknown, and the hostess's
anger appeared now to be extended towards me and the two planters, with
whom she had been on good terms.

Shortly afterwards Mammy rose and left the room, and then I spoke to the
party, and told them that they were driving the poor woman to
extremities.  The planters agreed with me, and we argued the case with
them, but the majority were, of course, against us, and the young
merchants appeared to be very much inclined to be personal with me.  At
last I replied, "Very well, gentlemen--as you please; but as I happen to
be well known both to the admiral and governor I give you fair warning
that, if this continues much longer, I will report the affair.  I should
be very sorry to do so; but the house is now very uncomfortable, and you
have no right to remain when the landlady insists upon your going."

At this reply of mine the naval portion of the guests were silent, but
the civilians more insolent than before.  I did not wish to come to open
war, so I said nothing more, and left the table.  After I was gone, the
refractory parties made more noise than ever.  Just before the dinner
hour on the following day, Mammy Crissobella sent a circular round to
the young men, stating that she could not receive them at dinner.  They
all laughed, and went down to table as before.  The dinner was better
than usual, and they complimented Mammy upon it.  Mammy, who had taken
her seat with a scowl on her brow, and had not spoken a word, merely
bowed her head in reply to their observations.

Dinner was over, and then Mammy desired Leila to bring her a goblet
which was on the sideboard, and a small white jug which was in the
_buffet_.  She appeared much distressed, and hesitated a good deal,
putting the goblet to her lips, and then putting it down on the table
without tasting it.  This conduct induced us all to look seriously at
her.  At last she took it up, sighed deeply, and drank the whole off at
a draught.  For a few seconds she held her hand over her forehead, with
her elbows resting on the table.  At last she looked up and said,
"Gemmen, I got a little speech to make--I very sorry dat I not drink
your health; but it no use--dat why you see me drink; I tell plenty time
you make me mad--you make me drink obeah water--make me kill myself.
Now I ab done it--I drink pison water just now.  In two hour I dead
woman."

At this communication, the truth of which appeared confirmed by the
woman's behaviour, all the company started from their chairs.

"Gemmen, I dare say you all very sorry; you be more sorry by-and-by.
Captain, I beg your pardon; Mr W---, Mr G (the two planters), I beg
your pardon; I not mean hurt you, but could not help it.  Now I tell all
company, all drink the pison water--because I not like die on the
jibbit, I drink de pison water--Gemmen your dinner all pison, and you
all pisoned.  Yes, all pisoned," cried Mammy Crissobella at the highest
pitch of her voice, and rushing out of the room.

At this announcement, I started from my chair and clasped my hands, as
if in agony.  I looked round me--never did I witness such a variety of
horror as was expressed in the different faces at the hotel.  The old
planter; Mr D, who sat next to me, and who was in the secret as well as
Mr G, laid his head on the table with a groan.  "The Lord have mercy on
my sins," exclaimed Mr G; Mr Lieutenant Maxwell looked me in the face,
and then burst into tears; Mr Lieutenant Dott put his fingers down his
throat, and with three or four more getting rid of their dinner as fast
as they could.

At last I sprang up to ring the bell; no one answered.  I rang again
more furiously.  At last a slave appeared.

"Where's my servant?"

"Not here, sar."

"Where's all the people of the house?"

"All with missy, sar; Mammy Crissobella die."

"Run down then to the beach, and desire the surgeon of the brig to come
up immediately."

"Yes, sar," replied the negro, leaving the room.

"Oh, I feel it now--here," exclaimed I, putting my hand to my chest;
"I'm suffocating."

"And so do I," replied one of the midshipmen, weeping.

The girl Leila now entered the room in tears.  "Mammy dead," said she.
"Oh Captain Keene, I very sorry for you: you come with me, I give you
something.  I know how stop pison."

"Do you, Leila? then give it me; quick, quick."

"Yes, yes; give it us quick."

"I not stuff enough but I make more when I gib what I ab to Captain
Keene.  You all stay still, not move; pose you move about, make pison
work.  I come back soon as I can."

Leila then took my arm and led me tottering out of the room, when I went
to Mammy Crissobella, and laughed till I cried; but the punishment was
not over.  After remaining about ten minutes looking at each other, but
neither speaking nor moving, in pursuance of Leila's direction, with the
utmost despair in their countenances, they were gladdened by the return
of Leila with a large jug, out of which she administered a glass of some
compound or another to each of them.  I watched at the door, and the
eagerness with which they jostled and pushed each other to obtain the
dose before the rest was very amusing, and never did they swallow any
liquor with so much avidity, little imagining that, instead of taking
what was to cure them, they were now taking what was to make them very
sick; but so it was; and in a few minutes afterwards the scene of
groaning, crying, screaming, writhing with pain, was quite awful.

After a time, the slaves came in and carried them all to their
respective beds, leaving them to their own reflections, and the violent
effects of the drugs administered, which left them no repose for that
night, and in a state of utter exhaustion on the following morning.

At daylight I went into Mr Dott's room with the surgeon, to whom I had
confided the secret.  Tommy was a miserable object.

"Thank heaven! here is one still alive," said the surgeon to me.

"Oh!  Captain Keene," said Tommy, "I'm glad to see that you are so well;
but you had the remedy given you long before we had."

"Yes," replied I, "it was given me in good time; but I hope it was not
too late with you."

"I feel very bad," replied Tommy.  "Doctor, do you think I shall live?"

The doctor felt his pulse, and looked very grave; at last he said, "If
you get over the next twelve hours, I think you may."

"How many are dead?" inquired Tommy.

"I don't know; you are the first that I have visited; it's a shocking
business."

"I've been thinking that we were very wrong," said Tommy; "we ought not
to have driven the poor woman to desperation.  If I do recover, her
death will be on my conscience."

"I'm glad to hear you say that, Tommy," replied I; "but the doctor says
you must remain very quiet, and therefore I shall leave you.  Good-bye;
I will see you again this evening."

"Good-bye, sir, and I hope you'll forgive me for not having been so
respectful as I should have been."

"Yes, yes, Tommy; we have been friends too long for that."

Mammy Crissobella's dose had certainly put an end to all Tommy's spirit
of resistance.  All the others who had been victims to our plot were
kept in the dark as to the real facts, and, as soon as they were able to
be moved, paid their bills to Leila, and left the house.



CHAPTER TWENTY EIGHT.

On the third day, Tommy Dott and Mr Maxwell went on board, imagining
that they had had a miraculous escape, and the two old planters and I
were left the only inmates of the house to welcome the resurrection of
Mammy Crissobella, who was again as busy as before.  She said to me,
"Massy Keene, I really under great obligation to you; suppose you want
two, three hundred, five hundred pounds, very much at your service;
never mind pay back."

I replied that I did not want any money, and was equally obliged to her.
But the affair had already made a great noise.  It was at first really
supposed that Mammy Crissobella had poisoned them as well as herself,
and I was obliged to refute it, or the authorities would have taken it
up.  As the admiral sent down to make inquiries, I went up to him and
told him the whole story; I was obliged to do the same to the governor,
and it was the occasion of great mirth all over the island, and no small
mortification to those who had been the sufferers.  Mammy Crissobella
was complimented very much upon her successful stratagem to clear her
house, and she was quite in ecstasies at the renown that she obtained.

One day the admiral sent for me, and said--"Keene, I can wait no longer
the arrival of another vessel.  I must send you to England with
despatches: you must sail to-morrow morning."

As I was all ready, I took my leave of the admiral, who promised me
every assistance if on his station, and his good word with the
Admiralty, and said that he would send down my despatches at daylight.
I went on board, gave the necessary orders, and then returned to the
hotel to pack up my portmanteau and pay my bill; but Mammy Crissobella
would not hear of my paying anything; and as I found that she was
beginning to be seriously angry, I gave up the point.  So I gave the old
lady a kiss as a receipt-in-full, and another to Leila, as I slipped a
couple of doubloons into her hand, and went on board.  The next morning
shortly after daylight the despatches were on board, and the Diligente
was under all the sail she could carry on her way to England.

The Diligente sailed as well as ever, and we made a very quick passage.
I found my ship's company to be very good, and had no trouble with my
officers.  Tommy Dott was very well behaved, notwithstanding all his
threats of what he would do.  It was therefore to be presumed that he
was not very ill treated.

We were now fast approaching the end of our passage, being about a
hundred miles to the South West of the Scilly Islands, with a light wind
from the southward when, in the middle watch, Bob Cross, who had the
charge of it, came down and reported firing in the South East.  I went
up, but, although we heard the report of the guns, we could not
distinguish the flashes.  I altered our course to the direction, and we
waited till daylight should reveal what was going on.  Before daybreak
we could see the flashes, and make out one vessel, but not the other.
But when the sun rose the mystery was cleared off.  It was a French
schooner privateer engaging a large English ship, apparently an
East-Indiaman.  The ship was evidently a good deal cut up in her spars
and rigging.

Bob Cross, who was close to my side when I examined them with my glass,
said, "Captain Keene, that rascally Frenchman will be off as soon as he
sees us, if we hoist English colours; but if you hoist French colours,
we may get down and pin him before he knows what we are."

"I think you are right, Bob," says I.  "Hoist French colours.  He will
make sure of his prize then, and we shall laugh at his disappointment."

As Cross turned away to go aft, I perceived a chuckle on his part, which
I did not understand, as there was nothing particular to chuckle about.
I thought it was on account of the Frenchman's disappointment, when he
found that we were not a friend, as he might suppose.

"Hadn't we better fire a gun, Captain Keene, to attract their
attention?"

"Yes," replied I; "it will look as if we really were Frenchmen."  The
gun was fired, and we continued to stand towards them with a good
breeze.  About seven o'clock we were within two miles, and then we
observed the Englishman haul down her colours, and the schooner
immediately went alongside, and took possession.  I continued to run
down, and in half an hour was close to her.  Calling up the boarders, I
laid the brig alongside the schooner; as half her men were on board the
Indiaman, they were taken by surprise, and we gained possession with
very trifling loss on our side, much to the astonishment of the crew of
the privateer, as well as that of the Indiaman.

The captain, who was on deck, informed me that they had engaged the
schooner for nine hours, and that he had some hopes of beating her off,
until he saw me come down under French colours, upon which he felt that
further resistance was vain.  I told him I was afraid the schooner would
escape, if I had not deceived him, and complimented him upon his
vigorous defence.  The schooner was a very fine vessel, mounting
fourteen guns, and of three hundred tons burthen.  In fact, she was
quite as large as the Diligente.

While we were handing the prisoners over to the brig, and securing them,
I accepted the invitation of the captain of the Indiaman to go into the
cabin with him, where I found a large party of passengers, chiefly
ladies, who were very loud in their thanks for my rescue.  In another
hour we were all ready.  I left a party on board the Indiaman to repair
damages, and my surgeon to assist the wounded men, and hauled off the
brig and schooner.  The latter I gave into the charge of Tommy Dott, and
we all made sail.

As I was walking the quarter-deck, delighted with my success, Cross, who
had the watch and was by my side, said, "I think, Captain Keene, you did
very right in hoisting French colours."

"Why, yes, Cross," replied I; "she is a very fast sailer, that is
evident, and she might have escaped us."

"That's not what I mean, Captain Keene."

"What then, Cross?"

"Why, sir, I would not tell you why I wished you to hoist French colours
at the time, because I was afraid that, if I did, you would not have
done so; but my reason was, that it would make a great difference in our
prize-money, and I want some, if you do not."

Even then I could not imagine what Cross meant, for it never came into
my head, and I turned round and looked at him for an explanation.

"Why, Captain Keene, if we had hoisted English colours, the schooner
would have made sail and gone off, and, even if she had not done so, the
Indiaman would have held out till we came down; but as he hauled down
his colours, and was taken possession of by the enemy, he now becomes a
recapture, and I expect the salvage of that Indiaman will be of more
value to us than two or three of such schooners."

"That certainly did not enter my head when I hoisted the colours, Cross,
I must confess."

"No, sir, that I saw it did not, but it did mine."

"It's hardly fair, Cross."

"Quite fair, sir," replied Bob.  "The Company is rich, and can afford to
pay, and we want it in the first place, and deserve it in the next.  At
all events, it's not upon your conscience, and that schooner is such a
clipper, that I really think we should have lost her, if she had run for
it; besides, as she is as strong as we are, we might have lost a good
many men before we took her."

"That's very true, Bob," replied I, "and satisfies me that I was right
in what I did."

The wind had sprung up much fresher from the westward, and we were now
all three running with a fair wind; and as it continued, we did not put
into Plymouth, but continued our course for Portsmouth, and on the third
day, at a very early hour in the morning, anchored at Spithead.



CHAPTER TWENTY NINE.

As it was too soon to present myself to the admiral, I dressed, ready to
go on shore, and hoisted the number of the Diligente as given by the
admiral at Jamaica; but, as I expected, it was not known to the
guard-ship, and there was much surmise among the early risers as to what
might be the large ship, schooner, and brig-of-war, which had entered.

We had just finished the washing of the decks, and I was standing aft
with Cross, who had the morning watch, when he observed to me, "Captain
Keene, we are now at anchor as near as possible to where the Calliope
was when you went adrift in the boat with poor Peggy.  Some difference
between your situation now and then."

"Yes, Bob," replied I; "I was thinking the same when I was dressing this
morning, and I was also thinking that you would be very anxious to go on
shore--so you may take a boat as soon as you please; I will order one to
be given to you."

"Thankey, sir.  I am a little anxious to see the poor girl, and I think
matters will go smooth now."

"I hope so, with all my heart.  Let the gigs be all dressed and cleaned,
and the boat manned at six bells.  Pass the word for them to get their
breakfast."

As it was better that I should wait for the admiral's getting up, than
that he should wait for me, I was on shore, and up at the office at
half-past seven o'clock, and found that the admiral was in his
dressing-room.  The secretary was there, and I delivered my orders and
despatches, with which he went up to the admiral.  In about a quarter of
an hour he came down again with the port-admiral's request that I would
wait for him, and stay to breakfast.  The secretary remained with me,
extracting all the West India intelligence that I could give him.

As soon as the admiral made his appearance, he shook me warmly by the
hand.  "Captain Keene," said he, "I wish you joy: I see you are
following up your career in the West Indies.  We know you well enough by
the despatches, and I am glad to be personally acquainted with you.
This last business will, I have no doubt, give you the next step, as
soon as you have been a little longer as commander.  Mr Charles, desire
them to make the signal for the Diligente and schooner to come into
harbour.  The Indiaman may, of course, do as he pleases.  Now then, for
breakfast."

The admiral, of course, asked me as many questions as the secretary, and
ended, as I rose to take my leave, in requesting the pleasure of my
company to dinner on that day.  As the reader may suppose, I had every
reason to be satisfied with my reception.

As soon as I had left the admiral's office, I put into the post-office,
with my own hands, my letter to my mother, and one to Lord de Versely.
In the latter I told him of my good fortune, and enclosed a copy of my
despatch to the Admiralty.  Although the despatch was written modestly,
still the circumstances in themselves--my having recaptured an Indiaman,
and carried, by boarding, a vessel of equal force to my own, and
superior in men--had a very good appearance, and I certainly obtained
greater credit than it really deserved.  It was not at all necessary to
say that I hoisted French colours, and therefore took the schooner
unawares, or that at the time most of her men were on board of the
Indiaman; the great art in this world is, to know where to leave off,
and in nothing more than when people take the pen in their hands.

As soon as I had finished my correspondence--for I wrote a few lines to
Mrs Bridgeman, at Chatham, and a postscript to my mother's letter--I
went down to the saluting battery, when I found that the two vessels
were just entering the harbour.  I went up and reported it at the
admiral's office, and the admiral went on board of both vessels to
examine them himself, and he ordered a dock-yard survey.  They were both
pronounced fit for his Majesty's service, with the necessary dock-yard
alterations.  The crew of the Diligente were turned over to a hulk,
preparatory to unrigging and clearing her out for dock.  As soon as I
left the admiral's house, I sat down at the George Hotel, where I had
taken up my quarters, and wrote a long letter to Minnie Vanderwelt.

Cross called upon me the next morning.  I saw by his countenance that he
had good news to tell me.  He had found his lady-love as constant as he
could wish, and having explained to the blind old smuggler that he had
been offered and accepted the situation of boatswain in his Majesty's
service during the time that he was in the West Indies, he had received
his approbation of his conduct, and a warm welcome to the house whenever
he could come on shore.

"I have not put the question to the old chap yet, Captain Keene," said
he, "but I think I will very soon."

"Don't be in too great a hurry, Bob," replied I.  "Give the old fellow a
little more 'baccy, and ask his advice as to what you are to do with
your prize-money.  You must also talk a little about your half-pay and
your widow's pension."

"That's very good advice, Captain Keene," replied Cross.  "Mercy on us!
how things are changed!  It appears but the other day that I was leading
you down to this very hotel, to ship you into the service, and you was
asking my advice, and I was giving it to you; and now I am asking your
advice, and taking it.  You have shot ahead in every way, sir, that's
sartain; you looked up to me then, now I look up to you."

I laughed at Cross's observation, which was too true; and then we went
into the dock-yard, and were very busy during the remainder of the day.

The following morning I received an answer from Lord de Versely, couched
in most friendly terms.  He complimented me on my success, and the high
character I had gained for myself during so short a career, and added
that he should be happy to see me as soon as I could come to London, and
would himself introduce me to the first lord of the Admiralty.  He
advised me to request leave of absence, which would be immediately
granted, and concluded his letter, "Your sincere friend and well-wisher,
de Versely."

As soon as I had laid down the letter, I said to myself, I was right--
the true way to create an interest in a man like Lord de Versely, is to
make him proud of you.  I have done well as yet--I will try to do more;
but how long will this success continue?  Must I not expect reverses?
May not some reaction take place? and have I not in some degree deserved
it?  Yes, I have used deceit in persuading him of my mother's death.  I
began now to think that that was a false step, which, if ever
discovered, might recoil upon me.  I remained a long while in deep
thought.  I tried to extenuate my conduct in this particular, but I
could not; and to rid myself of melancholy feelings, which I could not
overcome, I wrote a letter, requesting leave of absence for a fortnight,
and took it myself to the admiral's office.  This depression of spirits
remained with me during the time that I remained at Portsmouth, when,
having obtained leave, I set off for London, and on arrival, put up at a
fashionable hotel in Albermarle Street.



CHAPTER THIRTY.

The next morning I called at Lord de Versely's and sent up my card.  I
was immediately ushered up, and found myself in his presence.  Lord de
Versely rose from his sofa, and took my hand.  "Keene, I am very glad to
see you.  I am proud that an _eleve_ of mine should have done me so much
credit.  You have gained all your rank in the service by your own merit
and exertions."

"Not quite all, my lord," replied I.

"Yes, all; for you are certain of your next step--they cannot well
refuse it to you."

"They will not refuse your lordship, I have no doubt," replied I.

"Sit down, Keene.  We will have a little conversation, and then we will
go to the Admiralty."

His lordship then asked me many questions relative to what had passed;
and I entered into more detail than I had done in my letters.  After an
hour's conversation, carried on by him in so friendly--I may almost say
affectionate--a style as to make my heart bound with delight, the
carriage was announced, and accompanied his lordship down to the
Admiralty.  His lordship sent up his card, and was requested immediately
to go upstairs.  He desired me to follow him; and as soon as we were in
the presence of the first lord, and he and Lord de Versely had shaken
hands, Lord de Versely said, "Allow me to introduce to you Captain
Keene, whose name, at least, you have often heard of lately.  I have
brought him with me because he is a follower of mine: he entered the
service under my protection, and continued with me until his conduct
gave him his promotion.  I have taken this opportunity of introducing
him, to assure your lordship that, during the whole time that he served
with me as midshipman, his gallantry was quite as conspicuous as it has
been since."

The first lord took me by the hand, and complimented me on my conduct.

"Captain Keene has strong claims, my lord.  What can we do now for him?"

"I trust you will acknowledge that Captain Keene has earned his post
rank, my lord," replied Lord de Versely; "and I shall take it as a
particular favour to myself if your lordship would appoint him to a
frigate, and give him an opportunity of doing credit to your lordship's
patronage."

"I think I may promise you both," replied the first lord; "but when we
meet in the house to-night, I will let you know what I can do."

After a few minutes' conversation, Lord de Versely rose, and we left the
room.  As soon as we were in the carriage his lordship said, "Keene, you
may depend upon it I shall have good news to tell you to-morrow; so call
upon me about two o'clock.  I dine out to-day with the premier; but
to-morrow you must dine with me."

I took leave of his lordship as soon as the carriage stopped; and as I
wished to appoint an agent, which I had not yet done, I had begged his
lordship to recommend me one.  He gave me the address of his own, and I
went there accordingly.  Having made the necessary arrangements, I then
employed the remainder of the day in fitting myself out in a somewhat
more fashionable style than Portsmouth tailors were equal to.

The next morning I sat down to write to my mother; but somehow or
another I could not make up my mind to address her.  I had thought of
it, over and over, and had made up my mind that in future I would always
correspond with my grandmother; and I now determined to write to her,
explaining that such was my intention in future, and requesting that all
answers should be also from my grandmother.  I commenced my letter,
however, with informing her that I had, since I had last written,
obtained leave of absence, and was now in London.  I stated the kindness
shown me in every way by Lord de Versely, and how grateful I was to him.
This continued down to the bottom of the first page, and then I said
"What would I not give to bear the name of one I so much love and
respect!  Oh, that I was a Delmar!"  I was just about to turn over the
leaf and continue, when the waiter tapped at the door, and informed me
that the tailor was come to try on the clothes which I had ordered.  I
went into the bed-room, which opened into the sitting-room, and was busy
with the foreman, who turned me round and round, marking alterations
with a piece of chalk, when the waiter tapped at the bed-room door, and
said Lord de Versely was in the sitting-room.  I took off the coat which
was fitting as fast as I could, that I might not keep his lordship
waiting, and put on my own.

Desiring the man to wait my return, I opened the door, and found his
lordship on the sofa, and then for the first time, when I again saw it,
recollected that I had left the letter on the table.  The very sight of
it took away my breath.  I coloured up as I approached his lordship.  I
had quite forgotten that I had addressed my grandmother.  I stammered
out, "This is an honour, my lord."

"I came to wish you joy of your promotion and appointment to a fine
frigate, Keene," said Lord de Versely.  "I have just received this from
the Admiralty; and as I have business unexpectedly come to hand, I
thought I would be the bearer myself of the good news.  I leave you the
letter, and shall of course see you to dinner."

"Many thanks, my lord," replied I.  "I am, indeed, grateful."

"I believe you are, Keene," replied his lordship.  "By the bye, you
leave your letters so exposed, that one cannot help seem them.  I see
you are writing to your grandmother.  I hope the old lady is well?"

My grandmother!  Oh, what a relief to my mind it was when I then
recollected that it was to my grandmother that I had written!  I replied
that she was very well when I last heard from her.

"If I can be of any use in arranging your money affairs, Keene, let me
know."

"I thank you, my lord; but I found that my agent perfectly understands
business," replied I.  "I will not trouble your lordship, who has so
many important affairs to attend to."

"Very good," replied he.  "Then now I'll leave you to read what I have
given you; and I shall expect you at eight.  Goodbye."  His lordship
again shook me warmly by the hand, and left me.

I was quite giddy with the reaction produced upon my feelings.  When his
lordship left the room I dropped down on the sofa.  I forgot the letter
in my hand and its contents, and the tailor in the next room.  All I
thought of was the danger I had escaped, and how fortunate I was in not
having addressed the letter to my mother, as I had at first intended.
The agony which I felt was very great, and, as I remained with my hands
covering my eyes, I made a vow that nothing should induce me ever to use
deceit again.  I then read over the letter.  There was nothing but
gratitude to Lord de Versely, and a wish that I had been born a Delmar.
Well, if his lordship had run his eyes over it, there was nothing to
hurt me in his opinion; on the contrary, it proved that I was grateful;
and I then recollected that when I expressed my gratitude, he said he
believed it.  As for my saying that I wished my name was Delmar, it was
nothing, and it let him know what my wishes were.  On the whole, I had
great cause for congratulation.

I was here interrupted by the tailor who put his head out of the
bed-room door.  I went to him, and he finished his work, and promised me
that I should have a complete suit at half-past seven o'clock in the
evening, in time for dinner.  I then returned to the sitting-room, and
opened the letter which Lord de Versely had put into my hands.  It was
from the first lord, acquainting him that I might call at the Admiralty
the next day, as my post-captain's commission was signed, and I was
appointed to a thirty-two gun frigate which would be launched in two or
three months.  Well, then, thought I, here I am, at twenty-three, a
post-captain in his Majesty's service, and commanding a frigate.
Surely, I have much to be thankful for.  I felt that I had, and I was
grateful to Heaven for my good fortune.  Now I had but one more wish in
the world, and that was, instead of being Captain Keene, to be Captain
Delmar.

The reader may say, "What's in a name?"  True; but such was my ambition,
my darling wish, and it is ardent longing for anything, the ardour of
pursuit, which increases the value of the object so much above its real
value.  The politician, who has been manoeuvring all his life does not
perhaps feel more pleasure in grasping the coronet which he has been in
pursuit of, than the urchin does when he first possesses himself of a
nest which he has been watching for weeks.  This would, indeed, be a
dreary world if we had not some excitement, some stimulus to lead us on,
which occupies our thoughts, and gives us fresh courage, when
disheartened by the knavery, and meanness, and selfishness of those who
surround us.  How sad is the analysis of human nature--what
contradictions, what extremes! how many really brave men have I fallen
in with, stooping to every meanness for patronage, court favour, or
gain; slandering those whose reputation they feared, and even descending
to falsehood to obtain their ends!  How many men with splendid talents,
but with little souls!

Up to the present I had run a career of prosperous success; I had risen
to a high position without interfering, or being interfered with by
others; but now I had become of sufficient consequence to be envied; now
I had soon to experience, that as you continue to advance in the world,
so do you continue to increase the number of your enemies, to be exposed
to the shafts of slander, to be foiled by treachery, cunning, and
malevolence.  But I must not anticipate.

I remained in London till my leave was expired, and then went down to
Portsmouth to pay off the brig, which had been ordered into dock, to be
refitted for his Majesty's service.



CHAPTER THIRTY ONE.

The Circe, thirty-two, to which I had been appointed, was a small but
very beautiful frigate and as far as I could judge by her build as she
lay on the stocks, had every requisite for sailing well.

When I took my leave of Lord de Versely, he told me that he should come
down on the first of the following month (September) to Madeline Hall,
where his aunt, Miss de Versely, was still flourishing at a green old
age.  "Here is a letter of introduction to her, Keene," said he, "as she
has not seen you since you were a few months old, and therefore it is
not very likely that she would recognise you.  Take my advice, and make
yourself as agreeable to the old lady as you can; you will find Madeline
Hall a very pleasant place, when you are tired of the dockyard and the
smell of pitch and tar."

I thanked his lordship, and we parted with much more cordiality shown by
him than I had experienced.

I hardly need say, that the first person who came to congratulate me on
my arrival at Portsmouth was my old friend an adviser Bob Cross.  "Well,
Captain Keene," said Bob, as I shook him warmly by the hand, "I'm
delighted at your success, and I know you will not be sorry to hear that
I am getting on as well as I could wish in my small way; Jane and I are
to be married in a few days, and I hope you will honour me by being
present at the wedding."

"That I will, Bob, with pleasure," replied I; "let me hear all that has
taken place."

"Why, sir, it's told in a few words.  I took your advice, and brought
the old gentleman presents, and I sat with him and heard all his old
stories at least fifty times over, and laughed at his jokes as regularly
the last time as the first; and he told Jane and her mother that I was a
very pleasant, sensible and amusing young man--although he had all the
talk, and I had none.  The fact is, sir, it was he who first brought up
the subject of my splicing his niece; that is to say, he hinted how he
should like to see her well settled, and that if she married according
to his wishes, he would leave her all he had.

"Well, sir, it was the opinion of Jane and her mother, that, as he was a
whimsical, changeable old chap, it would be right for her to refuse me
at first; and so she did, very much to the old man's annoyance, who then
set his mind upon it, and swore that if she did not marry me, he would
not leave her a farthing.  After a few days of quarrelling, Jane gave
in, and the old chap swears that we shall be married immediately, and
that he will give us half his property down at once."

"Strike the iron while it's hot, Bob," replied I.  "Is the day fixed?"

"Not exactly, sir; but we are to be put up in church next Sunday, and it
takes three Sundays.  I hope you won't part with me, sir," continued
Bob.  "The Diligente will be paid off on Tuesday, they say, and if you
could get me appointed to the Circe--"

"Why, Cross, you are thinking of going to sea again, even before you are
married.  I should advise you not to be in such a hurry.  You must not
displease the old gentleman; besides, you must not leave a young wife so
soon."

"That's very true, Captain Keene, but I don't think I should be
comfortable if I knew you were afloat without me."

"I suppose you think that I cannot take care of myself."

"Yes, I do, sir; but still I know that I should fret; and, sir, it will
be four months at least before the Circe is ready for sea and I may just
as well be appointed to her, and I can decide whether I do go to sea or
not when the time comes."

"Well, Cross, I will certainly apply for you; but, if you take my
advice, you will give up the sea altogether, and live on shore."

"I have nothing to do, sir."

"Yes, you have; you have to cherish your wife, and look after the old
gentleman."

"Well he is rather shakey, they say sir; the old woman is often called
out to him at nights."

"Well, Cross, I will do as you wish, and time will decide how you are to
act.  I am going over to Southampton for a few days perhaps, and will
take care to be back by the wedding.  By-the-bye, have you heard
anything about prize-money?"

"Yes, sir; it's payable for the Diligente and schooner, and all our
recaptures in the West Indies when we were in the Firefly.  The Dutch
frigate has been for distribution some time; but as I was only petty
officer then, it won't come to much."

"Well, I can tell you that the government have taken the schooner which
we captured in the chops of the channel, and the East India Company have
given us salvage for the ship.  My agent has received already 7,400
pounds on my account, which I have ordered to be purchased into the
funds.  As there were so few warrant officers, your share will not be
less than 1,500 pounds, perhaps more.  As you said, the salvage of the
Indiaman has proved more valuable to us than all the rest of our
prize-money put together."

"Well, Captain Keene, if my prize-money comes to as much as that, I
think I shall be nearly as well off as my little Jane will be.  Will you
have the kindness to let your agent put it by for me in the same way
that you have done yours?"

"Yes, Cross, I will see to it immediately; I shall write to him
to-morrow, or the day after."

After a little conversation, Cross took leave.  The next day I took
post-horses, and went over to Madeline Hall, having two or three days
before received a note from the Honourable Miss Delmar, saying how glad
she should be to see me as a friend and shipmate of her nephew, Lord de
Versely; so that it appeared the old lady had been written to by Lord de
Versely respecting me.

I arrived early in the afternoon, and the post-chaise drove up the
avenue of magnificent chestnut-trees which led to the mansion.



CHAPTER THIRTY TWO.

I must say that I was very much excited; I was now arriving at the site
of my birth, and it brought to my mind the details given me by my poor
mother, when, finding she could no longer conceal the truth from me, she
entered into a narrative to extenuate her conduct, pointing out her
temptations, and how fatal to her were opportunity and seclusion.  Her
form was before me with the tears running down her cheeks as she made
her humiliating confession to her own son, and I could not help
exclaiming, as I cast my eye upon the beautiful grounds, "My poor
mother!"

The chaise stopped, and the boys dismounted and rang the bell.  In a
minute three or four servants made their appearance, and on inquiring, I
found that the Honourable Miss Delmar was at home, and visible.

"Colonel Delmar, I presume, sir?" said the old butler.

"No," replied I--"Captain Keene."

The butler looked me full in the face, and earnestly; and then, as if
recollecting himself, he bowed and went on.

"Captain Keene, madam," said he, as he introduced me into a large room,
at the end of which sat a venerable-looking old lady, very busy with her
knitting needle, and another, almost equally ancient, sitting on a low
stool beside her.

As I advanced, the old lady made me a bow as she remained in in her
chair, and looked at me through her spectacles.  She certainly was the
beau-ideal of old age.  Her hair, which was like silver, was parted in
braid, and was to be seen just peeping from under her cap and pinners;
she was dressed in black silk, with a snow-white apron and handkerchief,
and there was an air of dignity and refinement about her which made you
feel reverence for her at first sight.  As I approached to take the
chair offered to me, the other person, who appeared to be a sort of
attendant, was shuffling her feet to rise; but as soon as Mrs Delmar
had said, "You are welcome, Captain Keene; sit still," she continued,
"my child, there is no occasion to go away."  I could scarcely help
smiling at the old lady calling a woman of past sixty, if not even
further advanced, a child; but the fact was, that Phillis had been her
attendant as lady's maid for many years, and subsequently promoted to
the position of humble companion.

As for Miss Delmar, as I afterwards found out from her own lips, she was
upwards of eighty-seven years old, but still in perfect good health, and
in full possession of all her faculties; Phillis therefore was much
younger, and as the old lady had had her in her employ ever since she
was twenty-two, it was not surprising that she continued to address her,
as she had done for so many years, as a young person compared to
herself; indeed I have no doubt but that the old lady, following up her
association of former days, and forgetting the half-century that had
intervened, did consider her as a mere child.  The old lady was very
chatty and very polite, and as our conversation naturally turned on Lord
de Versely, of whom I spoke in terms of admiration and gratitude, I had
soon established myself in her good graces.  Indeed, as I subsequently
discovered, her nephew was the great object of her affections.  His
younger brother had neglected her, and was never mentioned except when
she regretted that Lord de Versely had no children, and that the title
would descend to his brother.

She requested me to stay for dinner, which I did not refuse, and before
dinner was over I had made great progress in the old lady's esteem.  As,
when dinner was announced, her companion disappeared, we were then
alone.  She asked me many questions relative to Lord de Versely, and
what had occurred during the time that I was serving with him; and this
was a subject on which I could be eloquent.  I narrated several of our
adventures, particularly the action with the Dutch frigate, and other
particulars in which I could honestly do credit to his lordship, and I
often referred to his kindness for me.

"Well, Captain Keene, my nephew has often spoken to me about you, and
now you have done him credit in proving that he had made you a good
officer; and I have heard how much you have distinguished yourself since
you have left him."

"Or rather he left me, madam," replied I, "when he was summoned to the
House of Peers."

"Very true," replied the old lady.  "I suppose you know that you were
born in this house, Captain Keene?"

"I have been told so, madam."

"Yes, I have no doubt your poor mother that's gone must have told you.
I recollect her--a very clever, active, and pretty young woman (here the
old lady sighed); and I held you in my arms, Captain Keene, when you
were only a few days old."

"You did me great honour, madam," replied I.

Here the conversation took another channel, which I was not sorry for.

After tea, I rose to take my leave, and then I received an invitation
from the old lady to come and spend some time at Madeline Hall, and to
come a few days before the first of September, that I might join the
shooting party.  "I expect my nephew, Lord de Versely," said she, "and
there is Colonel Delmar of the Rifles, a cousin of Lord de Versely, also
coming, and one or two others.  Indeed I expect the colonel every day.
He is a very pleasant and gentleman-like man."

I accepted the invitation with pleasure, and then took my leave.  The
chaise drove off, and I was soon in a deep reverie; I called to mind all
my mother had told me, and I longed to return to the Hall, and visit
those scenes which had been referred to in my mother's narrative; and
more than that, I wished to meet Lord de Versely on the spot which could
not fail to call to his mind my mother, then young, fond, and confiding;
how much she had sacrificed for him; how true she had proved to his
interests, and how sacred the debt of obligation, which he could only
repay by his conduct towards me.

On my return to Portsmouth, I found that orders had come down for the
paying off the Diligente, and re-commissioning her immediately.  As the
men would now be free (until again caught by the impress, which would
not be long), I turned up the ship's company, and asked how many of them
would enter for the Circe.  I pointed out to them that they would be
impressed for other vessels before long, but that I could give them each
three months of absence, upon which they would not be molested, and that
by three months all their money would be gone, and if it were gone
before that time, the guard-ship would receive them when they had had
enough of the shore.  By this method I proposed to myself to obtain the
foundation of a good ship's company.  I was not disappointed.  Every man
I wished to take with me volunteered, and I wrote leave of absence
tickets for three months for them all as belonging to the Circe,
reporting what I had done to the Admiralty.  The brig was then paid off,
and the next day re-commissioned by a Captain Rose, with whom I had some
slight acquaintance.

As I was now my own master again,--for although appointed to the Circe,
I had nothing but my pennant to look at,--I thought that, by way of a
little change, I would pass a few days at the Isle of Wight; for this
was the yachting season, and I had made the acquaintance of many of the
gentlemen who belonged to the club.  That I had no difficulty in getting
into society may easily be imagined.  A post-captain's commission in his
Majesty's navy is a certain passport with all liberal and really
aristocratical people; and, as it is well known that a person who has
not had the advantage of interest and family connections to advance in
the service, must have gained his promotion by his own merits, his rank
is sufficient to establish his claims to family connections or personal
merit, either of which is almost universally acknowledged; I say almost
universally, because, strange to say, for a succession of reigns, the
navy never has been popular at court.  In that region, where merit of
any kind is seldom permitted to intrude, the navy have generally been at
a discount.  Each succession of the House of Hanover has been hailed by
its members with fresh hopes of a change in their favour, which hopes
have ended in disappointment; but perhaps it is as well.  The navy
require no prophet to tell it, in the literal sense of the word, that
one cannot touch pitch without being defiled; but there is a moral
pitch, the meanness, the dishonesty, and servility of Court, with which,
I trust, our noble service will never be contaminated.

I have, however, somewhat wandered from my subject, which was brought up
in consequence of a gentleman who had paid me every attention at a large
club down at Cowes, to which I had been invited, inquiring of me, across
the table, if I were connected with the Keenes of ---?  My reply was
ready: "I did not think that I was; my father had died a young man in
the East Indies.  I knew that he was of Scotch descent (which he was),
but I was too young to know anything about his connections, whom he had
quitted at an early age; since that I had been educated and brought
forward by Lord de Versely, who had, since the death of my mother,
treated me as if I were his own son."  This was said openly, and being
strictly true, of course without hesitation on my part.  It was quite
sufficient; I had noble patronage, and it was therefore to be presumed
that I was somebody, or that patronage would not have been extended.  I
mention this, because it was the only time that I was ever questioned
about my family; it was therefore to be presumed that my reply was
considered satisfactory.

I accepted an invitation on board of the yacht and sailed about for
several days, very much amused and flattered by the attention shown to
me by the noble commodore and others.  One day I fell in with an old
acquaintance.  A small vessel, of about twenty tons, cutter-rigged, came
down under the stern of the commodore's yacht; it was then very smooth
water, very light wind, and, moreover, very hot weather; and one of the
squadron, who was standing by me on the taffrail, said, "Keene, do look
at this craft coming down under our stern--there's quite a curiosity in
it.  It is a yacht belonging to an Irish Major O'Flinn, as he calls
himself; why the O, I don't know; but he's a good fellow, and very
amusing; there he is abaft; he has the largest whiskers you ever saw;
but it is not of him I would speak.  Wait a little, and as soon as the
square sail is out of the way, you will see his wife.  Such a whapper!
I believe she weighs more than the rhinoceros did which was at Post-down
fair."

As the vessel neared, I did behold a most enormous woman in a sky-blue
silk dress, and a large sky-blue parasol over her head; the bonnet
having been taken off, I presume, on account of the heat.  "She is a
monster," replied I; "the major was a bold man; I think I have seen the
face before."

"I am told that she was the daughter of a purser, and had a lot of
money," continued my friend.

I recollected then, and I replied, "Yes; I know now, her name was
Culpepper."

"That was the name," replied he; "I recollect now."

The reader may probably recollect Miss Medea, who knew so well how to
put that and that together; and her mother, who I presumed had long ago
been suffocated in her own fat, a fate which I thought that Mrs O'Flinn
would meet with as well as her mother.  The lady did not recognise me,
which I was not sorry for.  I certainly should have cut her dead.  I
walked forward, and my thoughts reverted to the time when my mother
first brought me down to embark, and I was taken care of by Bob Cross.
This recollection of Bob Cross reminded me that I had promised to be at
his wedding, and that it was to take place on the following day, which I
had quite forgotten.  So that Mrs O'Flinn did me a good turn at last,
as I should have neglected my promise, if she had not made her
appearance, sailing along like an elephantine Cleopatra.



CHAPTER THIRTY THREE.

I had not called upon old Waghorn, the uncle of Jane; as I was fearful
that he might recognise the pretended agent of former days with the now
captain of the Circe.  The blind are very acute in all their other
senses,--a species of reparation made by nature by way of
indemnification for the severe loss which they have sustained.

As I grew older I grew wiser, and I could not help remarking, that the
acts of deceit, which as a midshipman I thought not only very
justifiable, but good fun, were invariably attended with unpleasant
results.  Even in this trifle my heart misgave me, whether on my
appearance at the wedding I might not I be recognised, and be the cause
of creating a breach, by raising suspicions on the part of the blind man
which might prevent the wedding; and I had stated my fears to Bob Cross.
"Well, Captain Keene, it was all done with good intentions, and I do
not think that there is much fear.  It's a long while back, and you were
not so much of a man as you are now.  They do say, that cheating never
thrives, and I believe that it seldom does in the long run.  Jane will
be much disappointed if you do not come."

"There is no help for it, Bob; I must disguise my voice; I must cheat a
little now to hide the first cheat.  That's always the case in this
world."

"I don't call it cheating, sir; my ideas are, that if you cheat to get
advantage for yourself, then you do cheat; but when you do so to help
another, there's no great cheating in the case."

"I cannot agree with you, Bob; but let us say no more about it.  I will
be with you at ten o'clock, which you say is the hour that you go to
church."

This conversation took place on the morning of the wedding.  About eight
o'clock, I dressed and breakfasted, and then took a wherry over to
Gosport, and in half an hour was at the house, which was full of people
with white favours, and in such a bustle, that it reminded me of a hive
of bees just previous to a swarm.

"Here's the captain come, sir," said Bob, who had received me; for the
bride was still in her room with her mother.

"Happy to see you, sir; I wish you joy, Mr Waghorn," replied I, taking
his hand.

"You're Captain Keene, then, whose letters to the Admiralty Jane has so
often read to me in the newspapers.  Where have we met?  I've heard that
voice before."

"Indeed sir," replied I, rather confused.

"Yes, I have; I always know a voice again; let me see--why, captain, you
were here with Cross, the first time I ever heard him--you were an
agent, and now you're a captain," continued the old man, looking very
grave.

"Hush, sir," replied I: "pray don't speak so loud.  Do you recollect
what I came about?  Do you suppose that when I was a party to the escape
of a prisoner I could let you know, being a perfect stranger, that I was
an officer in his Majesty's service?"

"Very true," replied the old man, "I cannot blame you for that.  But was
Cross an officer in the service at that time?"

"No, sir, he was not," replied I; "he was appointed boatswain to my ship
by the admiral in the West Indies."

"I'm glad to hear that.  I thought Cross might have deceived me also;
every one tries to cheat a blind man--and the blind are suspicious.  I'm
glad that Cross did not deceive me, or I would have seen my niece in her
coffin before--but say no more about it, you could not do otherwise;
all's right, sir, and I'm very glad to see you, and to have the honour
of your company.  Sit down, sir, I beg.  By the bye, Captain Keene, have
you heard of the girl since?"

"My dear sir," replied I, glad to give him my confidence, "there are no
secrets between us now; it was no girl, but the son of the captain of
the Dutch frigate, and an officer, whose escape you assisted in."

"I don't wonder, then, at your not making yourself known," replied the
old man.  "Why, if I had known it had been an officer, I never would
have had a hand in the job--but a poor girl, it was mere charity to
assist her, and I thought I was acting the part of a Christian, poor
blind sinner that I am."

"You did a kind act, sir, and Heaven will reward you."

"We are sad, wicked creatures, Captain Keene," replied he.  "I wish this
day was over, and my poor Jane made happy; and then I should have
nothing to do but to read my Bible, and prepare for being called away;
it's never too soon, depend upon it, sir."

The appearance of the bride with her bridesmaids put an end to our
conversation, which I was not sorry for.  The order of march was
arranged, and we started off for the church on foot, making a very long
and very gay procession.  In half an hour it was all over, and we
returned.  I then had an opportunity of telling Cross what had passed
between me and old Waghorn.

"It was touch and go, sir, that's sartin," replied Bob; "for if the old
gentleman had not been satisfied, he is so obstinate that the match
would have been broken off at the church door.  Well, sir, I always said
that you were the best to get out of a scrape that I ever knew when you
were a middy, and you don't appear to have lost the talent; it was well
managed."

"Perhaps so, Bob; but in future I do not intend to get into them, which
will be managing better still."  I then left Cross, and went to talk to
Jane, who certainly looked very handsome.  The tables for dinner were
laid out in the garden, for it was a beautiful warm autumnal day.  We
sat down about twenty, and a merrier party I never was at.  Old Waghorn
was the only one who got tipsy on the occasion, and it was very
ridiculous to hear him quoting scraps of Scripture in extenuation, and
then calling himself a poor blind old sinner.  It was not till eight
o'clock in the evening that the party broke up, and I had then some
difficulty to persuade some to go away.  As for the old man, he had been
put to bed an hour before.  I staid a few minutes after all were gone,
and then, kissing Jane, and shaking hands with Bob, I went back to
Portsmouth.



CHAPTER THIRTY FOUR.

As soon as I was at home again, the events of the day, from association
of ideas, naturally brought Minnie Vanderwelt into my head, and I
recollected that I had not written to her since my promotion and
appointment to the Circe; I therefore sat down and indited a long
letter, ending with expressing my regret at not having received an
answer from the many I had written, especially the last, which informed
them of my arrival in England, and gave them the knowledge where to
address me.  I also requested to know what had become of young Vangilt,
whose escape I had contrived.  Having enclosed that letter to the agent,
and begged him to have it forwarded to Hamburg, I went to bed, and,
after the excitement of the day, had a variety of dreams, in which
Minnie's form was continually making its appearance.

The following morning brought me a long letter from my aunt, Mrs
Bridgeman, very lively and very amusing: the only news in it was the
marriage of Lieutenant Flat to a tavern-keeper's daughter, which had
given great offence to the marine corps, as she was said to be rather
light of carriage.  She begged me very much to pay them a visit, but
that was not all to my wishes, I most candidly confess.  My pride
revolted at it; I even doubt if I would have fitted out a ship at
Chatham where people could point their finger at me, and say--That
post-captain's father was a marine in those barracks.  Another letter
from Lord de Versely, announcing his arrival at Madeline Hall, and
requesting me to join him as soon as possible, was infinitely more to my
taste, and I resolved to start next day, which I did.  I was very
cordially received by his lordship, and very graciously by the old lady,
who expressed a hope that I would now make a long visit.  About an hour
after I had arrived, Colonel Delmar made his appearance: he was a cousin
of Lord de Versely's, but I certainly should not, from his appearance,
have supposed him to be a Delmar: for he was short, round-shouldered,
and with a fat, rubicund face, apparently about forty years of age.  I
observed, after our introduction, that his eyes were very often directed
towards me; but his manner was courteous, and, although his appearance
at first sight was not prepossessing, his conversation was very
agreeable, and he was very gentleman-like.  Before dinner was over, I
felt a great liking for him.

As the first of September had not yet arrived, the birds had still two
days of peace and quietness, leading their broods through the stubbles,
and pointing out to them the corn which had spilled on the ground, for
their food.  That the old birds had some idea of a gun, it is to be
supposed, from their having escaped the season before; but the young
coveys had still that pleasure to come; in two days more they were to be
initiated into the astonishing fact, that fast as feathers could fly,
lead could fly faster, and overtake them.

The two or three days before the shooting season begins are invariably
very tedious in the country, and I passed my morning chiefly in roaming
through the park and pleasure grounds, and I hardly need say that,
during those rambles, my thoughts were chiefly occupied with the
intimacy which had taken place between my mother and Lord de Versely.
On the third morning after my arrival I had been strolling for more than
two hours, when I came to a very retired sort of Gothic cell, formed of
the distended limbs of an old oak, intermixed with stones and grass.  It
faced towards the park, and was built up on the green lawn amidst clumps
of laurel and other evergreens.  I threw myself on the benches.  It was
just the place for a man to select for a rendezvous: just the secret
spot where a maiden could listen without trembling at intruders; and it
struck me that this must have been the trysting place of my parents.
For an hour I remained there, castle-building for the future, and musing
on the past, when I heard a voice, close to me on the other side of the
cell, the back of which was turned towards the hall.  I knew the voice
to be that of the old lady, who, it appears, had, as usual, come out in
her garden chair, and was dragged by her attendant, Phillis: the wheels
had made no noise on the velvet lawn, and, until roused by her voice, I
was not aware of their approach.

"Nonsense, Phillis; why, child, what should you know about such things?"
said the old lady.

"If you please to recollect, ma'am," replied Phillis, who certainly was
old enough to recollect all the passages in a woman's life, "I was your
maid at the time that it happened, and I was constantly in company with
Bella Mason.  She was very respectful towards you, but you did not know
what her temper was; there never was so proud a young woman, or who
considered herself of such consequence as she did--so much so, that she
treated even Mr Jonas, the butler, and Mrs Short, the housekeeper,
with disdain."

"Well, well, I know that she was proud; her mother was always a proud
woman.  Mr Mason, in his younger days, held property of his own, at
least his father did, but he ran through it revelling and horse-racing;
but what does that prove?"

"I only say, madam, what was said at the time by everybody, that Bella
Mason never would have married that marine, whom she looked upon with
contempt, although he certainly was a good-looking young man, if she had
not been obliged to do so."

"But why obliged, Phillis?"

"To conceal her shame, madam; for, if you recollect, the child was born
three months after marriage."

"I recollect that, very well," replied Miss Delmar; "it was a sad thing,
and, as my nephew said, I ought to have looked out sharper after Bella
than I did, and not have allowed her to be so much in company with that
marine."

"That marine, ma'am! he was innocent enough; Bella was not likely to
listen to one like him."

"Who can you mean then, Phillis?"

"Why, Lord de Versely, ma'am, to be sure.  Everybody in the Hall was
sure the child was his; he and Bella were for ever together for months
before her marriage."

"Phillis, Phillis, you don't know what you are saying--it's impossible;
indeed, I recollect talking the matter over with Lord de Versely, who
was then Captain Delmar, and he was more shocked at the impropriety than
even I was, and offered to give the marine a good whipping."

"That may be, madam, but still Captain Delmar was the father of that
boy; for, if you recollect, old Mrs Mason came to the Hall, and went
away almost immediately."

"Well, what of that? she was displeased no doubt."

"Yes, indeed she was, madam; but she had a private meeting with Captain
Delmar; and Mrs Short, the housekeeper, overheard what passed, and I
understand that the captain did not deny it to her.  One thing is
certain, that Mrs Mason, as she was going away, in her rage made use of
language about Captain Delmar, which otherwise she never would have
dared.  And, then, madam, only look at Captain Keene,--why, he is the
very image of his lordship."

"He is very like him, certainly," said the old lady, musing.

"And then, madam, do you think his lordship would have brought the boy
up in the service, and made him a post-captain, if he had been the son
of a marine?  And then, madam, see how fond his lordship is of him; why,
he dotes upon him; and would he ask the son of his own servant to come
down to Madeline Hall, as fit company for you?  No; so, madam, depend
upon it, Captain Keene is a Delmar, and no wonder his lordship is so
fond of him, madam; for he is his only child, and I dare say his
lordship would give him his right hand if he could leave him the barony
and estates, instead of them going away, as they will, to his younger
brother's children."

"Well, well, Phillis, it may be so.  I don't know what to think of it.
I shall speak to Lord de Versely about it; for if Captain Keene is a
Delmar, he must be looked to.  He is a Delmar, although with the bar
sinister.  I feel a little cold, Phillis, so drag me to the terrace,
that I may get a little sunshine."

Phillis, I thank thee, said I to myself, as the chair wheeled away.
Your love of chatting may be useful to me.  Perhaps his lordship may now
acknowledge my birth to his aunt, and good may come of it.  I waited
till the chair wheels were heard on the gravel walk, and then quitted
the grotto, and bent my steps away from the Hall, that I might commune
with my own thoughts without chance of interruption.

I had quitted the park, and was now pacing over several fields, one
after another, walking as if I had some important business in hand, when
in fact, my legs were only trying to keep pace with my thoughts, when I
vaulted over a gate, and found myself in a narrow lane, sunk deep
between two hedges.  Indifferent as to the path I took, I turned to the
right, and continued on my way, walking as fast as before, when I heard
the low bellowing of an animal.  This induced me to raise my eyes, and I
witnessed a curious scene in front of me, which I will narrate in the
next chapter.



CHAPTER THIRTY FIVE.

As I said before, the lane was very narrow, not admitting more than one
vehicle to go along it, and was sunk between the hedges on each side, so
as to render it not very easy to climb up the bank.  The parties who
presented themselves were, first a cow with her tail turned towards me,
evidently a wicked one, as she was pawing and bellowing in a low tone,
and advancing towards two people who were the object of her attack.  One
was a very little man, dressed in black, the other a stout burly young
fellow in a shooting-jacket; but what amused me most was, that the stout
young fellow, instead of being in the advance to defend one so much
smaller than himself, not only kept behind the little man, but actually
now and then held him by the shoulders before his own person, as a
shield to ward off the expected attack of the vicious animal.  It is
true that the little personage expostulated, and spoke several times in
a tone of command to his companion, but his words were unheeded, and the
cow advanced, and they retreated in the order which I have described.

I quickened my pace, so as to gain rapidly upon them, and was soon but a
few yards from the animal.  I had no stick or weapon of any kind, but
still I knew how to manage unruly cattle as sailors do when they were
sent on board ship alive.  Indeed I had more than once put it into
practice myself; and although with a bull it was not a very easy matter,
with a cow I felt certain that I could effect my purpose.

The animal appeared now determined to come to close quarters; and I
therefore approached her until I was about a couple of feet from her
flank, all ready for a spring, in case she should see me, and turn
round.  But she was too busy with the parties in front of her, and at
last she made a run.  The stout young man pushed the little man towards
the cow, and then ran for it.  The little one, in his attempt to recoil,
fell on the turf, and the cow made at him.  I sprang forward, and
catching the horn of the animal farthest from me in my right hand, at
the same time put my left knee on the horn nearest to me, threw all my
weight upon it, so as to turn the animal's nose up in the air, and
seizing it by the nostrils with the other hand, I held her head in that
position, which of course rendered the animal harmless.  In that
position the cow went over the prostrate man without doing him any
injury, plunging and capering, so as to extricate herself from my
weight.  I remained clinging to her for about ten yards further, when I
perceived the stout fellow ahead, who hallooed out, "Hold her tight!
hold her tight!" but that I would no longer do, as it was fatiguing
work; so, as a punishment for his cowardice, I let go the animal,
springing clear off, and behind it, the cow galloping away as fast as
she could down the lane, and the fellow screaming and running before as
fast as he could.

Having thus rid myself of the cow and the coward, I turned back to where
the other party had been left on the ground, and found him standing up,
and looking at what was passing.  "You're not hurt, sir?" said I.

"No, thanks to you; but no thanks to that rascally clerk of mine, who
wanted to shove me on the cow's horns to save himself."

"He has a run for it now, at all events;" replied I, laughing, "and I
let the cow loose on purpose; for if I had held on, and used all my
strength, I could have brought her down on her side and kept her down.
Oh! there's a break in the bank, and he has climbed up it, so he is safe
for a good fright," continued I; "and now we had better get away
ourselves; for the animal may come back, and, although one can pin her
in that way from behind, it is not to be done when she comes stem on to
you."

"Well, sir, I have heard of taking the bull by the horns as not being a
very wise thing; but taking a cow by them has probably saved my life.  I
thank you."

"We manage them that way on board ship," replied I, laughing.

"You are a sailor, then, sir," replied the little man.  "Probably I have
the pleasure of addressing Captain Keene?"

"That is my name," replied I; "but here is the cow coming back, and the
sooner we get to the gate the better.  I'm not ashamed to run for it,
and I suppose you are not either."  So saying, I took to my heels,
followed by my new companion, and we very soon put the barred gate
between us and our enemy.

"I will wish you good day now, sir," said I; "I am going to the Hall."

"I am also bound there, Captain Keene," replied my companion, "and, with
your permission, will accompany you.  Egad, we may meet another cow,"
said he, laughing, "and I prefer being in your company."

He then informed me that he was the solicitor and agent of the
Honourable Miss Delmar, and had been sent for about some new leases, and
that his name was Warden.  During our walk I found him a very cheerful,
merry little man, and a very good companion.

On our arrival at the Hall, Mr Warden was informed that Miss Delmar was
not able to receive him just then, as she was very busy with Lord de
Versely, who was with her in her private room.  I therefore remained
with Mr Warden for about an hour, when Lord de Versely came down and
joined us.  He appeared to be in a remarkable gay humour, and shook me
warmly by the hand when he came in.

"Now, Mr Warden, you are to go up and receive your instructions, and
recollect, the sooner everything is executed the better."

Mr Warden left the room, and I narrated to his lordship the adventure
with the cow.  Just as I had begun it, Colonel Delmar came in, and
listened to my narration.

In about half an hour Mr Warden came down-stairs, and with a very
smiling face.

"Well, Mr Warden," said his lordship, "have you your instructions?"

"Yes, my lord and I assure you that I never shall execute any with so
much pleasure.  Has Captain Keene told you how he saved my life this
morning?"

"No, he did not say that," replied his lordship; "but he has told me
about the cow, and your clerk putting you foremost in the breach."

"She would have made a breach in me I expect, if it had not been for the
captain," replied Mr Warden; "and you may therefore believe me, my
lord, when I say that I shall obey my instructions with pleasure.  I
wish you good morning.  Good morning, Captain Keene.  Colonel, your most
obedient."  So saying, Mr Warden left the room.  I was very much struck
with Mr Warden's observation, that he would execute his instructions
with so much pleasure; and when I turned round, I perceived that Colonel
Delmar was looking very grave; but the first dinner bell rang, and we
all went to our rooms to dress.  Well, thought I, as I was dressing
myself, I presume the old lady has left me a thousand or two in her
will.  I cared little about that, and then I dismissed the subject from
my thoughts; but as I sat by Miss Delmar after dinner, I could not help
thinking that her manner towards me was more affectionate than it had
been before; the _hauteur_ with which her civility and kindness had
hitherto been blended appeared to have been thrown aside; I presumed
that Lord de Versely had been speaking in my favour, and felt grateful
to him for his kindness.  Perhaps, thought I, he has revealed to her the
secret of my birth, and she now considers me as a relation; perhaps she
may have left me more than I supposed.  However, it is of little
consequence.



CHAPTER THIRTY SIX.

The next day, being the first of September, we were all very busy, and
we continued to shoot every day for a week, when I thought it time to
return to Portsmouth.  I mentioned my intentions to Lord de Versely, and
was pressed to stay until the following Saturday, it being then Tuesday.
On Wednesday Mr Warden made his appearance, attended by his clerk, who
carried a bag of papers.  He remained half an hour and then went home;
but, before he went, he asked me to dine with him on the following day,
and I consented.

After we returned from shooting the next day, I changed my clothes, and,
leaving word with the butler that I dined out, I took my way across the
fields.  I was walking very quietly on the grass, by the side of a high
hedge, when I perceived two other men on the opposite side; one I
recognised as Colonel Delmar; the other I could not at first make out;
but, as I approached them, I perceived that the colonel was talking with
the clerk of Mr Warden.  I passed them without notice, for they were
very earnestly engaged in conversation.  What they said, I did not know;
but I thought it singular that so proud a person as Colonel Delmar
should be so engaged with an inferior; a little reflection, however made
me consider that there was nothing very surprising in Colonel Delmar's
entering into conversation with a man in the country.  They might be
talking about the game, or a hundred other things.

I had a very friendly dinner with Mr Warden, who, after dinner, gave me
a hint that I should not be the worse for the papers signed the day
before.  He did not however, say anything positive, as it would have
been a breach of trust.  When I spoke of my soon being afloat again, he
said that he would not fail to watch over my interests at the Hall
during my absence, and he requested that I would write to him, and
consider him as my sincere friend.  "Of course, my dear Captain Keene, I
do not expect that you will at present give me your entire confidence;
but I trust you will when you know me, and at all events that you will
not fail to do so when my advice may be of use to you.  I have a debt of
obligation to pay, and I shall be most happy to do so, if it is in my
power!"  I thanked Mr Warden for his kind offers, and promised to avail
myself of them, and we parted great friends.

The next day, Friday, we had a large addition to our shooting party.  I
had not been out more than an hour, when, as I was standing near Lord de
Versely, who was re-loading his gun, a report, close to us, was heard,
and I fell down close to his feet, apparently dead.  A keeper, who was
with us, ran to see who had discharged the gun, and found that it was
Colonel Delmar, who now ran up to us, stating, in hurried terms, to Lord
de Versely, that his gun had gone off accidentally as he was putting on
a copper cap, and bitterly lamenting the circumstance.  Lord de Versely
was at the time kneeling down by my side (as I was afterwards informed),
showing the greatest anxiety and grief.  My hat had been taken off; it
was full of blood and the back of my head was much torn with the shot.
I remained insensible, although breathing heavily; a gate was taken off
its hinges, and I was laid upon it, and carried to the Hall.

Before the surgeon had arrived, I had recovered my senses.  On
examination, I had had a very narrow escape; the better part of the
charge of shot had entered the back part of my head, but fortunately not
any had penetrated through the skull.  After a tedious hour, employed in
extracting this load, my head was bound up, and I was made comfortable
in my bed.  I must say that Lord de Versely and Colonel Delmar vied with
each other in their attentions to me; the latter constantly accusing
himself as the author of the mischief, and watching by my bed the major
part of the day.

This accident delayed my departure, and it was not until three weeks
afterwards, that I was sufficiently recovered to leave my room.  In the
meantime, Lord de Versely, assured that I was out of danger, went back
to London.  The colonel, however, remained.  His kindness and attention
had given me great pleasure, and we had become very intimate.  He had
offered to go with me to Portsmouth, and I had expressed the pleasure I
should have in his company.  The Honourable Miss Delmar had shown the
greatest feeling and anxiety for me during my illness; so had Mr
Warden, who often called to see me; in fact, I found myself so
surrounded by well-wishers and friends, that I hardly regretted my
accident.

At the end of the fifth week, I was sufficiently recovered to be able to
return to Portsmouth, where I was now very anxious to arrive, as the
Circe had been launched and had already received her lower masts.  I
took my leave of Miss Delmar, who requested my early return to Madeline
Hall, and, accompanied by Colonel Delmar, was once more established at
Billett's Hotel.

Bob Cross was the first who made his appearance; for I had written to
him to acquaint him with my intended return.  He had heard of my narrow
escape, as it had been put into the newspaper; his information was
trifling, but to the purpose.  All was right as to the frigate: she sat
on the water like a duck; the rigging was far advanced, and the officers
seemed of the right sort.  All was right, also, as to his matrimonial
affairs; his wife was every thing he wished; the old gentleman was as
sweet as molasses, and he had laid the keel of a young Cross.  We then
entered upon business, and I gave him some directions as to the rigging,
and he left me.

The next morning, the first lieutenant called to pay his respects, and
his appearance and conversation proved him to be what he had been
recommended as, a good seaman and a brave man.  I went with him to the
dockyard to look at the frigate in the basin, and afterwards on board
the hulk to see the other officers and the men, who had been entered.  I
had every reason to be satisfied, and I then returned to the hotel, to
dine with Colonel Delmar.  This officer appeared to have taken a strong
interest in me, and ever since the accident of his gun going off, which
had so nearly been fatal to me, was unbounded in his professions of
regard.  I must say, that a more gentleman-like or more amusing
companion I never met with.  A great intimacy was established between
us; he was constantly making me presents of value, which I would fain
have prevented his doing; occasionally, when we were alone, he would
hint something about my family and parentage; but this was a subject
upon which I was invariably silent, and I immediately changed the
conversation; once only I replied, that my father and mother were both
dead.

On my arrival at Portsmouth, I found several letters waiting for me, and
among them two or three from my mother, who had seen the report in the
newspaper of the escape that I had had, and, of course, was excessively
anxious to hear from my own hand how I was.  Had I thought that it would
have come to her knowledge, I certainly should have written to my
grandmother from Madeline Hall; but I imagined that she knew nothing
about it, until my return to Portsmouth, when her anxious letters proved
the contrary; for in her anxiety she had quite forgotten her promise
that all communication should be through my grandmother.

As soon as I had read the letters I locked them up in my desk, and
hastened to reply to them, assuring my mother of my perfect restoration
to health, and cautioned her not to break through the agreement we had
made for the future, pointing out to her that had these letters been
forwarded to Madeline Hall, her handwriting would have been recognised.
I said, in conclusion, "I must say, my dear mother, that I now heartily
repent that we should have resorted to the step we have done in
pretending that you are dead.  That some advantage was gained by it at
the time, I really believe; but I have a feeling that eventually some
mischief may occur from it.  I hope I may be mistaken; but if I am not,
it will only be the punishment which I deserve for an act of duplicity
which I have repented of ever since."



CHAPTER THIRTY SEVEN.

My time was now fully employed during the day in fitting out the
frigate; but in the evening I generally dined out at the admiral's or at
the officers' mess.  I received several invitations from the marine mess
to dine with them; but I always contrived to be engaged, for I was
fearful that something might be said relative to my putative father,
Ben, which might hurt my pride.  Not that I had any reason to suppose
that any of the officers would have been guilty of any such rudeness;
but as a great deal of wine was drank when company were at the mess, and
there were many young men there, it was possible that, having the
knowledge, they might in their cups say something which they never would
have done when they were sober.  The colonel very often dined there, and
constantly asked me why I refused.  My reply was certainly not the
truth, for I said that I was not very partial to marine officers.

We had been three weeks at Portsmouth when Colonel Delmar received a
letter from a friend of his, a Major Stapleton, which he read aloud to
me at breakfast.  It stated that the major would be down at Portsmouth
the next day, and requested the colonel to procure him good rooms.  "He
is an excellent fellow, the major," continued the colonel, "and will be
a great addition to our society.  I will prevail upon him to stay a week
or ten days."

On my return from the dock-yard on the following day, I found the
colonel and Major Stapleton in our sitting-room, and was introduced to
him.  He was a small, neatly-made man, with handsome features, very well
dressed, and of very fashionable appearance.  Still there was something
in his eye which did not please me; it was unsettled and wandering, and
never fixed upon you for more than a second.  He met me with great
warmth and _empressement_, shook me by the hand, and declared what
pleasure he had in making my acquaintance.  We sat down to dinner, and
were very merry.

The major had been with us a week, when we had a large party to dinner.
The wine was passed freely, and we all were more or less elated.  The
major appeared particularly so, and very much inclined to be
quarrelsome, and as he constantly addressed himself to me, I was very
cautious in what I said, as I perceived that he was in the humour to
take offence at anything.  Several very offensive remarks were made by
him, as if to pick a quarrel between us, but I parried them as well as I
could, and I was making an observation, when the major started up, and
told me that what I said was a lie, and that I was a scoundrel for
having said so.

Now, as my observation was to my first lieutenant, and was in reference
to the hold of the frigate, there could be no cause for this insult, and
it could only be ascribed to his being in a state of intoxication.  My
reply was very cool and quiet: "Major, you do not know what you are
saying; but we will talk about it to-morrow morning."  I then rose and
went to my bed-room, and the whole party broke up immediately.

Shortly afterwards, Colonel Delmar came into my room, and blaming the
major very much for his conduct, ascribed it to intoxication and said
that he would make him send a proper apology, which he had no doubt the
next morning, when the major was informed of what he had done, he would
be most anxious to offer himself.

I replied, that I presumed so; and he quitted my room.  Indeed, so fully
was I convinced of this in my own mind, that I gave it no further
thought, and was soon fast asleep, and did not wake until Colonel Delmar
entered my room at a late hour.

"Well, colonel," said I.

"My dear Keene," said he, "I have been to the major, and, to my
surprise, when I stated to him what had passed at the table last night,
his reply was, that he perfectly remembered all about it and that he
would not retract what he had said.  I remonstrated with him, but in
vain.  He says, that it is cowardly to retract, and that he will never
make an apology."

"Then," replied I, "there is but one step for me to take."

"As our friend, I told him so, and pressed him very hard to acknowledge
his error, but he continued steadfast in his refusal.  I then took upon
myself to say that I was there as your friend, and begged he would name
an officer to whom I might address myself.  Did I not right, my dear
Keene?"

"Certainly; and I am very much obliged to you," replied I, putting on my
dressing-gown.

"He must be mad, utterly and positively mad!" exclaimed Colonel Delmar;
"I regret very much that he has ever come here.  I know that some years
ago, when he was younger, he fought two or three duels rather than make
an apology; but in this instance it was so unprovoked, and I had hoped
that he had got over all that nonsense and obstinacy.  Are you a good
shot, Keene? because he is a notorious one."

"I can hit my man, colonel; it is true that I have only fought one duel
in my life, and would make a great sacrifice rather than fight another;
but no alternative is left me in this case; and if blood is shed, it
must be on the head of him who provoked it."

"Very true," replied Colonel Delmar, biting his lip; "I only hope you
will be successful."

"I have no particular animosity against Major Stapleton," replied I;
"but as he is such a good shot, I shall in my own defence take good aim
at him.  At all events, I have sufficient acquaintance with fire-arms,
and have passed through too many bullets not to be cool and collected
under fire, and I therefore consider myself quite a match for the major.
Now, colonel, if you will order the breakfast, I will be down in ten
minutes or a quarter of an hour."

As the colonel was going out of the room, his servant knocked at the
door, and said that Captain Green wished to speak to him on particular
business; I therefore did not hurry myself, but proceeded quietly with
my toilet, as I was well aware what the particular business was, and
that the conference might last some time.  On my descending into the
sitting-room I found the colonel alone.

"Well, Keene," said he, "everything is arranged, for the major is deaf
to all expostulation.  You are to meet this evening, and, to avoid
interference, Captain Green and I have agreed to say that the major has
apologised, and all is made up."  Of course I had no objection to make
to that, and we parted for the present, I walking to the dock-yard, and
he remaining at the hotel to write letters.

The reader may think that I took matters very coolly; but the fact was,
I had no preparations to make in case of accident, having no wife or
family, and as to any other preparations at such a time, I considered
them as mockery.  I knew that I was about to do what was wrong--to
offend my Creator--and knowing that, and sinning with my eyes open, much
as I regretted that I was compelled to do so, I was still resolved upon
doing it.  How great may be the culpability in such cases when you are
called upon to sacrifice all your worldly interests, and to be despised
among men, or run the risk of involuntarily taking another person's
life, I could not pretend to judge; but one thing was certain, that,
however it may be judged in the next world, in this, among soldiers and
sailors, it will always be considered as venial.  I did, therefore, what
most in my profession would have done under the same circumstances.  I
drove it from my thoughts as much as possible, until the time came to
decide my fate.  I considered that I must be judged by the tenor of my
whole life, and that repentance, under chance of death, was of about the
same value as death-bed repentance.

As soon as the dock-yard men were mustered out, I returned to the hotel,
and sat down to dinner with the colonel.  We had scarcely finished a
bottle of claret when it was time to be off.  We walked out of the town,
to the place appointed, where I found my adversary and his second.  The
ground was marked out by the colonel, and, when I took my station, I
found that the setting sun was in my eyes.  I pointed it out to him, and
requested my position might be changed.  The other second heard me do
so, and very handsomely agreed that I was entitled to what I asked, and
the colonel immediately apologised for his remissness to my interests.
The ground was then marked out in another direction, and the colonel
took me to my place, where I observed that one of the white-washed posts
was exactly behind me, making me a sure mark for my antagonist.  "I am
not used to these things, Keene," replied Colonel Delmar, "and I make
strange mistakes."  I then pointed out a direction which would be fair
for both parties.  The pistols were then loaded, and put into our hands.
We fired at the signal.  I felt that I was hit, but my adversary fell.
I was paralysed; and although I remained on my feet, I could not move.
Captain Green and the colonel went up to where my adversary lay: the
ball had passed through his chest.

"He is dead," said Captain Green--"quite dead."

"Yes," replied Colonel Delmar.  "My dear Keene, I congratulate you: you
have killed the greatest scoundrel that ever disgraced his Majesty's
uniform."

"Colonel Delmar," replied Captain Green, "the observation might well be
spared: our errors and our follies die with us."

"Very true, Captain Green," replied I.  "I can only express my surprise
that the colonel should have introduced to me a person whose memory he
now so bitterly assails."  Somehow or another, from the commencement of
the duel, Colonel Delmar's conduct had excited my suspicions, and a
hundred things crowded into my memory, which appeared as if illumined
like a flash of lightning.  I came suddenly to the conviction that he
was my enemy, and not my friend.  But I was bleeding fast: some marines,
who were passing, were summoned, and the body of Major Stapleton was
carried away by one party, while I was committed to another, and taken
back to the hotel.  The surgeon was sent for, and my wound was not
dangerous.  The ball had gone deep into my thigh, but had missed any
vessel of magnitude.  It was extracted, and I was left quiet in bed.
Colonel Delmar came up to me as before, but I received his professions
with great coolness.  I told him that I thought it would be prudent of
him to disappear until the affair had blown over; but he declared to me
that he would remain with me at every risk.  Shortly afterwards, Captain
Green came into my room, and said, "I'm sure, Captain Keene, you will be
glad to hear that Major Stapleton is not dead.  He had swooned, and is
now come to, and the doctor thinks favourably of him."

"I am indeed very glad, Captain Green; for I had no animosity against
the major, and his conduct to me has been quite incomprehensible."

After inquiry about my wound, and expressing a hope that I should soon
be well, Captain Green left; but I observed that he took no further
notice of Colonel Delmar than a haughty salute as he quitted the room;
and then, to my surprise, Colonel Delmar said that, upon consideration,
he thought it would be advisable for him to go away for a certain time.

"I agree with you," replied I; "it would be better."  I said this,
because I did not wish his company; for it at once struck me as very
strange that he should, now that Major Stapleton was alive and promising
to do well, talk of departure, when he refused at the time he supposed
him to be killed.  I was therefore very glad when in an hour or two
afterwards he took his leave, and started, as he said, for London.



CHAPTER THIRTY EIGHT.

My recovery was rapid: in less than a fortnight I was on the sofa.  The
frigate was now rigged, and had taken in her water and stores, and was
reported ready for sea in a month, as we still required about forty men
to make up our complement.  I saw a great deal of Captain Green, who
paid me a visit almost every day; and once, when our conversation turned
upon the duel, I made the same remark as I did when Colonel Delmar used
such harsh language over the body of Major Stapleton.  "Yes," replied
Captain Green, "I thought it was my duty to tell him what Colonel Delmar
had said.  He was very much excited, and replied, `The _greatest_
scoundrel, did he say?--then is the devil better than those he tempts;
however, we are both in each other's power.  I must get well first, and
then I will act.'  There certainly is some mystery, the attack was so
unprovoked, the determination so positive.  Have you any reason to
suppose that Colonel Delmar is your enemy, Captain Keene? for certainly
he did appear to me to do all he could at the time of the duel to give
your adversary the advantage."

"I really have no cause to suppose that he has grounds for being my
enemy; but I cannot help suspecting that, for some reason or reasons
unknown, he is so."

When Captain Green had left me, I tried all I could to find out why
Colonel Delmar should be inimical to me.  That he was the supposed heir
to Miss Delmar I knew; but surely her leaving me a few thousands was not
sufficient cause for a man to seek my life.  Lord de Versely had nothing
to leave; I could come to no conclusion that was at all satisfactory.  I
then thought whether I would write to Lord de Versely, and tell him what
had happened; but I decided that I would not.  The initials had been put
in the papers at the announcement of the duel, and, had he seen them, he
certainly would have written down to inquire about the facts.  My mother
had so done, and I resolved that I would answer her letter, which had
hitherto remained on the table.  I sent for my desk, and when my servant
brought it me, the bunch of keys were hanging to the lock.  I thought
this strange, as I had locked my desk before I went out to meet Major
Stapleton, and had never sent for it since my return; my servant,
however, could tell me nothing about it, except that he found it as he
brought it to me; but after a little time, he recollected that the
doctor had asked for a pen and ink to write a prescription, and that the
colonel had taken the keys to get him what he required.  This accounted
for it, and nothing more was said upon the subject.  Of course, although
it was known, no notice was taken of what had passed by the Admiralty.
I had not even put myself down in the sick report, but signed my daily
papers, and sent them into the admiral's office as if nothing had
happened.

In six weeks I was able to limp about a little, and the Circe was at
last reported ready for sea.  My orders came down, and I was to sail
with the first fair wind to join the squadron in the Texel and North
Sea.  I had taken up my quarters on board, and was waiting two days,
while the wind still blew hard from the eastward, when my promise to
write to Mr Warden occurred to me; and, as I had closed all my
despatches to Lord de Versely--the Honourable Miss Delmar, to whom I
made my excuse for not being able to pay my respects before my
departure--my mother, and my aunt Bridgeman--I resolved that I would
write him a long letter previous to my sailing.  I did so, in which I
entered into the whole affair of the duel, the conduct of Colonel
Delmar, and my suspicions relative to him; stating, at the same time,
that I could not comprehend why he should have sought to injure me.  I
finished this letter late in the evening, and the next morning, the wind
having come round, we sailed for our destination.

Once more on the water, all my thoughts were given to the service.  We
soon fell in with the North Sea squadron, and the day afterwards the
Circe was directed to go on shore in company with the Dryad, and watch
the flotillas of gun-boats which had been collecting in the various
rivers and ports; to sink, burn, and destroy to the utmost of our power.
This was an active and dangerous service, as the enemy had every
advantage in the sands and shoals, and hardly a day passed in which we
were not engaged with the flotillas and batteries.  It was, however, now
fine weather, for the winter had set in early, and had passed away, and
for two months we continued in the service, during which my skip's
company were well trained.  One morning a cutter from the fleet was
reported from the mast-head, and we expected that we should soon have
our letters from England, when the Dryad threw out the signal for six
sail of praams in shore.

The two frigates made all sail in chase, leaving the cutter to follow us
how she could.  Our masters were well acquainted with the shoals on the
coast, and we threaded our way through them towards the enemy.  We were
within gun-shot, and had exchanged broadsides with the batteries, when
the flotillas gained a small harbour, which prevented our making any
further attempts.  The Dryad made the signal to haul off; it was quite
time, as we had not more than four hours' daylight, and were entangled
among the shoals.  The breeze, which had been fresh, now increased very
rapidly, and there was every appearance of a gale.  We worked out as
fast as we could, and by nine o'clock in the evening we were clear of
the sands, and in the open sea; but the gale had sprung up so rapidly
that we were obliged to reduce our sail to close-reefed topsails.  With
the sands under our lee, it was necessary to draw off as fast as we
could, and we therefore carried a heavy press of sail all the night--at
last, the wind was so strong that we could only carry close-reefed
maintop-sail and reefed fore-sail; and with a heavy sea, which had risen
up, we felt that we were in extreme danger.

Daylight once more made its appearance.  Our first object was to
ascertain the position of the Dryad.  For a long time we looked in vain;
at last, a partial clearing up of the horizon on the lee bow discovered
her, looming through the heavy atmosphere, more like a phantom ship than
the work of mortal hands.  She was a deep grey mass upon a lighter grey
ground.  Her top-masts were gone, and she was pitching and rising
without appearing to advance under her courses and storm staysails.

"There she is, sir," said Mr Wilson; "and if the gale lasts, good-bye
to her."

"If the gale lasts, Mr Wilson," said I in a low voice, "I suspect you
may sing our requiem as well; but we must trust to Heaven and our own
exertions.  Pass along the lead-line, Mr Hawkins."

"Aye, aye, sir," replied the officer of the watch; "how much out sir?"

"Forty fathoms."

The men ranged themselves along the lee-bulwarks, chains, and gangway
and passed the deep sea-lines from aft to the anchor stock forward.  The
deep sea lead was taken forward, and as soon as it was bent and ready,
the ship was thrown up to the wind so as to check her way.  "Heave," and
the lead was thrown, and as it descended the line was dropped from the
hands of the men, one after another, as the line drew aft; but when it
came to the hands of the master, who was on the quarter, instead of
finding, as he expected, forty fathoms of water, he had to haul in the
slack line for such a length of time, that the lead was astern and no
proper soundings could be obtained.

One thing was, however, certain, which was, that we were in much
shallower water than we had any idea of; and the master, much alarmed,
desired the quarter-master to go into the chains and see if he could get
soundings with the hand-lead while the men were hauling in the deep
sea-line.  The quarter-master was forestalled by Bob Cross who, dropping
into the chains, cleared the line, and swinging it but twice or thrice,
for there was little or no way in the vessel, let it go.

The anxiety with which the descent of the line was watched by me, the
master, and other of the officers who were hanging over the hammock
rails, it would be difficult to describe.  When sixteen fathoms were out
the lead sounded.  Cross gathered up the slack line, and fourteen and a
half fathoms was announced.

"Mr Hillyer," said I, "oblige me by coming down into the cabin."  The
master followed me immediately.  The chart was on the table in the
fore-cabin.

"We must have gone to leeward dreadfully, sir."

"Yes," replied I; "but the sweep of the currents in heavy gales is so
tremendous, and so uncertain on this coast, that I am not surprised.  We
must have had a South East current, and probably we are hereabouts,"
continued I, putting the point of the compass upon the spot.

"It seems hardly possible, sir," replied the master; "but still I fear
it must be so; and if so," continued he, drawing a deep sigh, "I'm
afraid it's all over with us, without a miracle in our favour."

"I am of your opinion, Mr Hillyer; but say nothing about it," replied
I; "the gale _may_ moderate, the wind _may_ shift, and if so we _may_ be
saved.  At all events, it's no use telling bad news too soon, and
therefore you'll oblige me by not saying anything on the subject.  A few
hours will decide our fate."

"But the Dryad, she is good four miles to the leeward of us, and the
soundings decrease here so rapidly, that in an hour, with the sail she
is under, she must go on shore."

"She has no chance, that's certain," replied I.  "I only hope it may be
so thick that we may not see her."

"Not a soul will be saved, sir," replied the master, shuddering.  "I
should say it were impossible, Mr Hillyer; but we all owe Heaven a
death; and if they go first and we go after them, at all events, let us
do our duty until the time comes--but never despair.  As long as there
is life, there is hope; so now let us go on deck, and put as good a face
on it as we can."



CHAPTER THIRTY NINE.

I returned on deck followed by the master.  "The barometer is rising,"
said I aloud, to the first lieutenant; "so I presume the gale will break
about twelve o'clock."

"I am glad to hear of it, sir; for we have quite enough of it," replied
the first-lieutenant.

"Do you see the Dryad?"

"No, sir; it's quite thick again to leeward: we have not seen her these
ten minutes."

Thank God for that, thought I, for they will never see her again.  "What
soundings had you last?"

"Fourteen fathoms, sir."

"I expect we shall cross the tail of the bank in much less," replied I;
"but, when once clear, we shall have sea-room."

As the captain is an oracle in times of danger, the seamen caught every
word which was uttered from my mouth; and what they gathered from what I
had said, satisfied them that they were in no immediate danger.
Nevertheless, the master walked the deck as if he was stupefied with the
impending crisis.  No wonder, poor fellow; with a wife and family
depending upon him for support, it is not to be expected that a man can
look upon immediate dissolution without painful feelings.  A sailor
should never marry: or if he does, for the benefit of the service, his
marriage should prove an unhappy one, and then he would become more
reckless than before.  As for my own thoughts, they may be given in a
few words--they were upon the vanity of human wishes.  Whatever I had
done with the one object I had in view--whatever might have been my
success had I lived--whether I might have been wedded to Minnie some
future day, or what may have resulted, good, bad, or indifferent, as to
future, all was to be, in a few hours, cut short by the will of Heaven.
In the next world there was neither marriage nor giving in marriage--in
the next world, name, titles, wealth, everything worldly was as nought--
and all I had to do was to die like a man, and do my duty to the last,
trusting to a merciful God to forgive me my sins and offences; and with
this philosophy I stood prepared for the event.

About noon it again cleared up to leeward, but the Dryad was no longer
to be seen: this was reported to me.  As it was nearly three hours since
we last had a sight of her, I knew her fate too well--she had plenty of
time to go on shore, and to be broken up by the heavy seas.  I did
however point my glass in the direction, and coolly observed, "she has
rounded the tail of the bank, I presume, and has bore up.  It was the
best thing she could do."  I then asked the master if he had wound his
chronometers, and went down into the cabin.  I had not, however, been
examining the chart more than a minute, when the officer of the watch
came down, and reported that we had shoaled to twelve fathoms.

"Very good, Mr Hawkins; we shall be in shallower water yet.  Let me
know if there is any change in the soundings."

As soon as the cabin door was again shut, I worked up the tide to see
when it would change against us; I found that it had changed one hour at
least.  Then it will be sooner over, thought I, throwing down the
pencil.

"Mr Cross, the boatswain, wishes to speak to you, sir," said the
sentry, opening the cabin door.

"Tell him to come in," replied I.  "Well, Cross, what's the matter?"

"I was speaking to the first lieutenant about getting up a runner, sir--
the fore-stay is a good deal chafed; that is, if you think it's of any
use."

"How do you mean, of any use, Cross?"

"Why, sir, although no one would suppose it from you--but if the face of
the master (and he is not a faint-hearted man neither) is to be taken as
a barometer, we shall all be in `kingdom come' before long.  I've
cruised in these seas so often, that I pretty well guess where we are,
Captain Keene."

"Well, Cross, it's no use denying that we are in a mess, and nothing but
the wind going down or changing can get us out of it."

"Just as I thought sir; well, it can't be helped, so it's no use
fretting about it.  I think myself that the gale is breaking, and that
we shall have fine weather by to-morrow morning."

"That will be rather too late, Cross; for I think we shall be done for
in three or four hours, if not sooner."

"Eleven fathoms, sir," said the officer of the watch, coming in hastily.

"Very well, Mr Hawkins; let her go through the water," replied I.

As soon as the cabin door was again shut, I said, "You see, Cross, the
tide is now against us, and this will not last long."

"No, sir; we shall strike in five fathoms with this heavy sea."

"I know we shall; but I do not wish to dishearten the men before it is
necessary, and then we must do our best."

"You won't be offended, I am sure, by my asking, Captain Keene, what you
think of doing?"

"Not at all, Cross; it is my intention to explain it to the ship's
company before I do it.  I may as well take your opinion upon it now.
As soon as we are in six fathoms, I intend to cut away the masts and
anchor."

"That's our only chance, sir, and if it is well done, and the gale
abates, it may save some of us; but how do you intend to anchor?"

"I shall back the best bower with the sheet, and let go the small bower
at the same time that I do the sheet, so as to ride an even strain."

"You can't do better, sir; but that will require time for preparation,
to be well done.  Do you think that we shall have time, if you wait till
we are in six fathoms?"

"I don't know but you are right, Cross, and I think it would be better
to commence our preparations at once."

"Ten fathoms, sir," reported the officer of the watch.

"Very well, I will be on deck directly."

"Well, sir, we must now go to our duty; and as we may chance not to talk
to one another again, sir," said Cross, "I can only say God bless you,
and I hope that, if we do not meet again in this world, we shall in
heaven, or as near to it as possible.  Good-bye, sir."

"Good-bye, Cross," replied I, shaking him by the hand; "we'll do our
duty, at all events.  So now for my last dying speech."

Cross quitted the cabin, and I followed him.  As soon as I was on deck,
I desired the first lieutenant to turn the hands up, and send them aft.
When they were all assembled, with Cross at their head, I stood on one
of the carronades and said: "My lads, I have sent for you, because I
consider that, although the gale is evidently breaking, we are shoaling
our water so fast, that we are in danger of going on shore before the
gale does break.  Now, what I intend to do, as our best chance, is to
cut away the masts, and anchor as soon as we are in six fathoms water;
perhaps we may then ride it out.  At all events, we must do our best,
and put our trust in Providence.  But, my lads, you must be aware, that
in times of difficulty it is important that we should be all cool and
collected, that you must adhere to your discipline, and obey your
officers to the last; if you do not, everything will go wrong instead of
right.  You have proved yourselves an excellent set of men, and I'm sure
you will continue so to do.  It is possible we may not have to cut away
our masts, or to anchor; still, we must make every preparation in case
it is necessary, and I have, therefore, sent for you, to explain my
intentions, and to request that you will all assist me to the best of
your abilities; and I feel convinced that you will, and will do your
duty like British seamen.  That's all I have to say, my lads.  Pipe
down, Mr Cross."

The ship's company went forward in silence.  They perceived the full
extent of the danger.  The first lieutenant and boatswain employed a
portion in backing the best bower anchor with the sheet; the others
roued up the cables from the tiers, and coiled them on the main-deck,
clear for running.  All hands were busily employed, and employment made
them forget their fears.  The work was done silently, but orderly and
steadily.  In the meantime we had shoaled to eight fathoms, and it was
now nearly three o'clock; but as it was summer time, the days were long.
Indeed, when the weather was fine, there was little or no night, and
the weather was warm, which was all in our favour.

When everything was reported ready, I went round to examine and
ascertain if the cables would run clear.  Satisfied that all was right,
I then picked out the men, and appointed those who were most trustworthy
to the stations of importance; and, having so done, I then returned to
the quarter-deck, and called up the carpenter and some of the topmen to
be ready with the axes to cut away the masts and lashings of the booms
and boats.  Just as these orders were completed, the gale blew fiercer
than ever.  We were now in seven fathoms water, and pressed heavy by the
gale.

I stood at the break of the gangway, the first lieutenant and master by
my side, and Cross a little forward, watching my eye.  The men in the
chains continued to give the soundings in a clear steady voice, "By the
mark seven," "Quarter less seven," "And a half six."  At last, the man
in the chains next to me, a fine old forecastle man, gave the sounding
"By the mark six," and he gave it with a louder voice than before, with
a sort of defiance, as much as to say, "The time is come, let the
elements do their worst."

The time was come.  "Silence, fore and aft.  Every man down under the
half-deck, except those stationed.  Cut away the boom lashings, and
clear the boats."  This was soon done, and reported.  "Now then, my
lads, be steady.  Cut away the lanyards in the chains."

One after another the lanyards and backstays were severed; the masts
groaned and creaked, and then the fore-mast and main-mast were over the
side almost at the same time; the mizen followed, as the frigate
broached to and righted, leaving the ship's deck a mass of wreck and
confusion; but no one was hurt, from the precautions which had been
taken, the mast having been cut away before we rounded to, to anchor, as
otherwise, they would have fallen aft and not gone clear of the ship.

"Stand by the best bower.  Stand clear of the cable.  Let go the
anchor."

As soon as the best bower cable was nearly out, the sheet anchor and
small bower were let go at the same moment, and the result was to be
ascertained.



CHAPTER FORTY.

The frigate was head to wind, rising and pitching with the heavy sea,
but not yet feeling the strain of the cables: the masts lay rolling and
beating alongside.

The ship's company had most of them returned on deck, to view their
impending fate, and the carpenters, who had already received their
orders, were battening down the hatchways on the main-deck.  In a minute
the frigate rode to her anchors, and as soon as the strain was on the
cables, she dipped, and a tremendous sea broke over her bows, deluging
us fore and aft, nearly filling the main-deck, and washing the
carpenters away from their half-completed work.  A second and a third
followed, rolling aft, so as to almost bury the vessel, sweeping away
the men who clung to the cordage and guns, and carrying many of them
overboard.

I had quitted the gangway, where there was no hold, and had repaired to
the main bitts, behind the stump of the main-mast.  Even in this
position I should not have been able to hold on, if it had not been for
Bob Cross, who was near me, and who passed a rope round my body as I was
sweeping away; but the booms and boats which had been cut adrift, in
case of the ship driving on shore broadside, were driven aft with the
last tremendous sea, and many men on the quarter-deck were crushed and
mangled.

After the third sea had swept over us, there was a pause, and Cross said
to me, "We had better go down on the main-deck, Captain Keene, and get
the half-ports open if possible."  We did so, and with great difficulty,
found the people to help us; for, as it may be imagined, the confusion
was now very great; but the carpenters were again collected, and the
half-ports got out, and then the battening down was completed; for,
although she continued to ship seas fore and aft, they were not so heavy
as the three first, which had so nearly swamped her.

I again went on deck, followed by Cross, who would not leave me.  Most
of the men had lashed themselves to the guns and belaying pins, but I
looked in vain for the first lieutenant and master; they were standing
at the gangway at the time of the first sea breaking over us, and it is
to be presumed that they were washed overboard, for I never saw them
again.

We had hardly been on deck, and taken our old position at the bitts,
when the heavy seas again poured over us; but the booms having been
cleared, and the ports on the main-deck open, they did not sweep us with
the same force as before.

"She cannot stand this long, Bob," said I, as we clung to the bitts.

"No, sir, the cables must part with such a heavy strain; or if they do
not, we shall drag our anchors till we strike on the sands."

"And then we shall go to pieces?"

"Yes, sir; but do not forget to get to the wreck of the masts, if you
possibly can.  The best chance will be there."

"Bad's the best, Cross; however, that was my intention."

The reader will be surprised at my having no conversation with any other
party but Cross; but the fact was, that although it was only
occasionally that a heavy sea poured over us, we were blinded by the
continual spray in which the frigate was enveloped, and which prevented
us not only from seeing our own position, but even a few feet from us;
and, as if any one who had not a firm hold when the seas poured over the
deck, was almost certain to be washed overboard, every man clung to
where he was; indeed, there were not fifty men on deck; for those who
had not been washed overboard by the first seas, had hastened to get
under the half-deck; and many had been washed overboard in the attempt.

The most painful part was to hear the moaning and cries for help of the
poor fellows who lay jammed under the heavy spars and boats which had
been washed aft, and to whom it was impossible to afford any relief
without the assistance of a large body of men.  But all I have described
since the anchors were let go occurred in a few minutes.

On a sudden, the frigate heeled over to starboard, and at the same time
a sea broke over her chesstree, which nearly drowned us where we were
clinging.  As soon as the pouring off of the water enabled us to recover
our speech, "She has parted, Cross, and all is over with us," said I.

"Yes, sir; as soon as she strikes, she will break up in ten minutes.  We
must not stay here, as she will part amidships."

I felt the truth of the observation, and, waiting until a heavy sea had
passed over us, contrived to gain the after ladder, and descend.  As
soon as we were on the main deck, we crawled to the cabin, and seated
ourselves by the after-gun, Cross having made a hold on to a ring-bolt
for us with his silk neck-handkerchief.

There were many men in the cabin, silently waiting their doom.  They
knew that all was over, that nothing could be done, yet they still
contrived to touch their hats respectfully to me as I passed.

"My lads," said I, as soon as I had secured my hold, "the cables have
parted, and the ship will strike, and go to pieces in a very short time;
recollect that the masts to leeward are your best chance."

Those who were near me said, "Thank you, Captain Keene;" but the words
were scarcely out of their mouths, when a shock passed through the whole
vessel, and communicated itself to our very hearts.  The ship had struck
on the sand, and the beams and timbers had not ceased trembling and
groaning, when a sea struck her larboard broadside, throwing her over on
her beam-ends, so that the starboard side of the main-deck and the guns
were under water.

It would be impossible after this to detail what occurred in a clear and
correct manner, as the noise and confusion were so terrible.  At every
sea hurled against the sides of the vessel the resistance to them became
less.  What with the crashing of the beams, the breaking up of the
timbers, and the guns to windward, as their fastenings gave way,
tumbling with a tremendous crash to leeward, and passing through the
ship's sides, the occasional screams mixed with the other noise, the
pouring, dashing, and washing of the waters, the scene was appalling.
At last, one louder crash than any of the former announced that the
vessel had yielded to the terrific force of the waves, and had parted
amidships.  After this there was little defence against them, even where
we were clinging, for the waters poured in, as if maddened by their
success, through the passage formed by the separation of the vessel, and
came bounding on, as if changing their direction on purpose to overwhelm
us.  As the two parts of the vessel were thrown higher up, the shocks
were more severe, and indeed, the waves appeared to have more power than
before, in consequence of their being so increased in weight from the
quantity of sand which was mixed up with them.  Another crash! the sides
of the after-part of the vessel had given way, and the heavy guns,
disengaged, flew to leeward, and we found ourselves without shelter from
the raging waters.

The part of the wreck on which Cross and I were sitting was so
completely on its beam-ends that the deck was within a trifle of being
perpendicular.  To walk was impossible: all that we could do was to
slide down into the water to leeward; but little was to be gained by
that, as there was no egress.  We therefore remained for more than an
hour in the same position, wearied with clinging, and the continual
suffocation we received from the waves, as they deluged us.  We
perceived that the wreck was gradually settling down deeper and deeper
in the sand; it was more steady in consequence, but at the same time the
waves had more power over the upper part; and so it proved; for one
enormous sea came in, blowing up the quarter deck over our heads,
tearing away the planking and timbers, and hurling them to leeward.
This, at all events, set us free, although it exposed us more than
before; we could now see about us, that is, we could see to leeward, and
Cross pointed out to me the mainmast tossing about in the boiling water,
with the main-top now buried, and now rising out clear.  I nodded my
head in assent.  He made a sign to say that he would go first after the
next wave had passed over us.

I found myself alone, and as soon as I had cleared my eyes of the
salt-water, I perceived Cross in the surge to leeward, making for the
floating mast.  He gained it, and waved his hand.  I immediately
followed him, and, after a short buffet, gained a place by his side,
just behind the main-top, which afforded us considerable shelter from
the seas.  Indeed, as the main-mast was in a manner anchored by the lee
rigging to the wreck of the vessel, the latter served as a breakwater,
and the sea was, therefore, comparatively smooth, and I found my
position infinitely more agreeable than when I was clinging on the
wreck.  I could now breathe freely, as it was seldom I was wholly under
water; neither was it necessary, as before, to cling for your life.

On looking round me, I found that about twenty men were hanging on to
the mast.  Many of them appeared quite exhausted, and had not strength
left to obtain a more favourable berth.  The position taken by Cross and
myself was very secure, being between the main-top and the catharpings,
and the water was so warm that we did not feel the occasional immersion;
five other men were close to us, but not a word was said,--indeed,
hardly a recognition exchanged.  At that time we thought only of
immediate preservation, and had little feeling for anybody else.



CHAPTER FORTY ONE.

The night was now coming on; the rolling waves changed from the yellow
tinge given by the sand to green, and then to purple: at last all was
black except the white foaming breakers.

Exhausted with fatigue, it had not been dark more than two hours, when I
felt an irresistible desire to sleep, and I have no doubt that I did
slumber in this position, half in and half out of the water, for some
time; for when I was roused up by losing my balance, I looked above and
perceived that the sky was clear, and the stars shining brightly.  I
then looked around me, and it was evident that the water was not so
agitated as it had been; the wind too had subsided; its roaring had
ceased, although it still whistled strong.

"Cross!" said I.

"Here I am, Captain Keene, close under your lee."

"The gale is broke; we shall have fair weather before the morning."

"Yes, sir; I have thought so some time."

"Thank God for His mercy; we must trust that He will not leave us here
to perish miserably."

"No, I hope not," replied Cross; "let us trust in Him, but I confess I
see but little chance."

"So have many others, yet they have been saved, Cross."

"Very true, sir," replied he: "I wish it was daylight."

We had, however, three or four hours to wait; but during that time the
wind gradually subsided, and then went down to a light and fitful
breeze.  At dawn of day the mast rose and fell with the swell of the
sea, which still heaved after the late commotion, but without any run in
any particular direction, for it was now calm.  I had been sitting on
the mast with my back against the futtock-shrouds; I now rose up with
difficulty, for I was sorely bruised, and stood upon the mast clear from
the water, to look around me.  About thirty yards from us was the wreck
of the foremast with many men clinging to it.  The mizen-mast had broken
adrift.  The fore part of the frigate was several feet above water, and
the bowsprit steeved in the air; of the after part there were but three
or four broken timbers to be seen clear of the water, so deep had it
been buried in the sand.

Cross had risen on his feet, and was standing by me, when we were hailed
from the wreck of the fore-mast, "Main-mast, ahoy!"

"Halloo!" replied Cross.

"Have you got the captain on board?"

"Yes," replied Bob; "all alive and hearty;" a faint huzzah which was the
return, affected me sensibly.  That my men should think of me when in
such a position was soothing to my feelings; but as I looked at them on
the other mast and those around me, and calculated that there could not
be more than forty men left out of such a noble ship's company, I could
have wept.  But it was time for action: "Cross," said I, "now that it is
calm, I think we shall be better on the fore part of the frigate than
here, half in and half out of water.  The forecastle is still remaining,
and the weather bulwarks will shelter the men; besides if any vessels
should come in sight, we should more easily be able to make signals and
to attract their attention."

"Very true, sir," replied Cross; "and as there are many men here who
cannot hold on much longer, we must try if we cannot haul them on board.
Do you feel strong enough to swim to the wreck?"

"Yes, quite, Cross."

"Then we'll start together, sir, and see how matters are."

I dropped into the sea, followed by Cross; and as the distance from us
was not forty yards, we soon gained the wreck of the fore part of the
frigate; the lee gunnel was just above the water; we clambered over it,
and found the deck still whole; the weather portion as white as snow,
and quite dry: we gained the weather bulwarks, and looked in the offing
in case there should be any vessel, but we could see nothing.

"Now, sir, we had better hail, and tell all those who can swim to come
to us."

We did so, and six men from the main-mast and nine from the fore-mast
soon joined us.

"Now, my lads," said I, "we must look after those who cannot get here,
and try to save them.  Get all the ends of ropes from the belaying pins,
bend them on one to another, and then we will return and make the men
fast, and you shall haul them on board."

This was soon done; Cross and I took the end in our hands, and swam back
to the main-mast.  One of the top-men, with a broken, arm was the first
that was made fast, and, when the signal was given, hauled through the
water to the wreck; six or seven more followed in succession.  Two men
swam back every time with the rope and accompanied those who were hauled
on board, that they might not sink.  There were many more hanging to
different parts of the main-mast, but on examination they were found to
be quite dead.  We sent on board all that showed any symptoms of life,
and then we swam to the fore-mast, and assisted those who were hanging
to it.  In about two hours our task was completed, and we mustered
twenty-six men on the wreck.

We were glad to shelter ourselves under the bulwark, where we all lay
huddled up together; before noon, most of the poor fellows had forgotten
their sufferings in a sound sleep.  Cross, I, and the man with the
broken arm, were the only three awake; the latter was in too much pain
to find repose, and, moreover, suffered from extreme thirst.

A breeze now sprang up from the southward, which cheered our spirits, as
without wind there was little chance of receiving any assistance.  Night
again came on, and the men still slept.  Cross and I laid down, and were
glad to follow their example: the night was cold, and when we lay down
we did not yet feel much from hunger or thirst; but when the morning
dawned we woke in suffering, not from hunger, but from thirst.
Everybody cried out for water.  I told the men that talking would only
make them feel it more, and advised them to put their shirt sleeves in
their mouths, and suck them; and then I climbed upon the bulwarks to see
if there was anything in sight.  I knew that the greatest chance was
that the cutter would be looking after us; but, at the same time, it was
not yet likely that she would come so near to the sands.

I had been an hour on the gunnel, when Cross came up to me.  "It's
banking up, sir to the southward: I hope we are not going to have any
more bad weather."

"I have no fear of a gale, although we may have thick weather," replied
I; "that would be almost as bad for us, as we should perish on the wreck
before we are discovered."

"I am going to lower myself down into the galley, Captain Keene, to see
if I can find anything."

"I fear you will not be successful," replied I, "for the coppers and
ranges are all carried away."

"I know that, sir; but I have been thinking of the cook's closet we had
built up above the bowsprit.  I know that he used to stow away many
things there, and perhaps there may be something.  I believe the
shortest way will be to go to leeward, and swim round to it."

Cross then left me, and I continued to look out.  About an hour
afterwards he returned, and told me that he had easily opened it with
his knife, and had found eight or nine pounds of raw potatoes, and a
bucketful of slush.  "We are not hungry enough to eat this now, sir; but
there is enough to keep the life in us all for three or four days at
least; that is, if we could get water, and I expect we shall feel the
want of that dreadfully in a short time.  I would give a great deal if I
could only find a drop to give that poor fellow Anderson, with his
broken arm; it is terribly swelled, and he must suffer very much."

"Did you find anything in the closet to put water into, Cross; in case
we should get any?"

"Yes; there's two or three kids, and some small breakers, Captain
Keene."

"Well, then, you had better get them ready; for those clouds rise so
fast, that we may have rain before morning, and if so, we must not lose
the chance."

"Why, it does look like rain, sir," replied Cross.  "I'll take one or
two of the men with me, to assist in getting them up."

I watched the horizon till night again set in.  We were all very faint
and distressed for water, and the cool of the evening somewhat relieved
us; the breeze, too, was fresh.  The men had remained quietly in the
shade as I had advised them; but, although patient, they evidently
suffered much.  Once more we all attempted to forget ourselves in
repose.  I was soundly asleep, when I was woke up by Cross.

"Captain Keene, it is raining, and it will soon rain much harder; now,
if you will order the men, they will soon collect water enough."

"Call them up immediately, Cross; we must not lose this providential
succour.  It may save all our lives."

The men were soon on the alert: the rain came down in a steady shower;
and as soon as they were wet through, they took off their shirts, and
dabbling them into the water as it ran down to leeward, squeezed it out
into their mouths, until their wants were satisfied, and then, under the
direction of Cross, commenced filling the three breakers and four tubs
which had been brought up.  They had time to fill them, and to spare,
for the rain continued till the morning.  The tubs and breakers were
securely slung under the fore-bitts for future use, and they then
continued to drink till they could drink no more.



CHAPTER FORTY TWO.

The sun rose and chased away the clouds, and the heat was overpowering.
What would have been our situation if it had not pleased Heaven to
refresh us?

The consequence of their thirst being appeased made the demand for food
imperative, and a raw potato was given to each man.  The day passed, and
so did a third, and fourth, and our hopes began to fail us, when at
daylight the next morning I spied a sail to the westward.  The breeze
was light but the vessel was evidently coming down towards us, and
before noon we made it out to be the cutter.

We then sat on the bulwarks, and held out a white shirt, as a signal to
attract their attention.  When about three miles from us, the cutter
rounded to, not appearing to notice us, and for two hours we were left
in this state of maddening anxiety and suspense, when at last we
perceived her bows pay off, and she again stood towards us.  They had at
last seen us, and as soon as they had run down to within three cables'
length, the boat was lowered and sent to take us off.  In three trips we
were all on board, and devoutly thanked Heaven for our preservation.

The lieutenant of the cutter said that at first the sun prevented his
seeing us, which I believe was the fact; but he acknowledged that he had
no idea that we had been wrecked, although he thought that the Dryad
was, as he had seen a mast floating, and, sending a boat to look at it,
found her name on the cross-trees.  We were, however, too much exhausted
to enter into much conversation.  As soon as we had been supplied with
food, we were all put to bed in their hammocks; the first lieutenant
resigned his standing bed-place to me.  A long sleep recovered me, and I
felt little the worse for what I had suffered, and sat down to a
breakfast at noon on the following day with a good appetite.  The cutter
had, by my directions, shaped a course for the island of Heligoland,
where we should find means of returning to England.

"I have letters for you, Captain Keene," said the lieutenant, "if you
are well enough to read them."

"Thank you, Mr D---; I am now quite well, and will be happy to have
them."

The lieutenant brought me a large packet, and I took a position on the
sofa to read them comfortably while he went on deck.  I first opened
those on service--those, of course, had little interest for me, now that
I had lost my ship--I skimmed them over, and then threw them on the
table one after another.  There were three private letters from England,
one of which was in Lord de Versely's hand-writing; I opened it first.
It was very kind, but short, complaining that he had not been very well
lately.  The second was from my mother.  I read it; it contained nothing
of importance; and then I took up the third, which had a black seal.  I
opened it; it was from Mr Warden, acquainting me that Lord de Versely
had expired very suddenly, on his return from the House of Lords, of an
ossification of the heart.

In my weak state this blow was too much for me, and I fainted.  How long
I remained in that state I cannot say; but when I came to my senses I
found myself still down in the cabin.  I rallied as well as I could, but
it was some time before I could take up the letter again, and finish it.
He stated that his lordship had left me all his personal property,
which was all that he could leave--that the library and wines were of
some value, and that there would be about a thousand pounds left at the
banker's, when the funeral expenses and debts had been paid.  "Oh! if he
could but have left me his family name!"  I cried, "it was all I
coveted.  My father! my kind father!  I may really say who will lament
your loss as I do?"  I threw myself on the pillow of the sofa, and for a
long while shed bitter tears, not unmixed, I must own; for my grief at
his death was increased by my disappointment in having for ever lost the
great object of my wishes.

The lieutenant of the cutter came down into the cabin, and I was
compelled to hide my emotion.  I complained of headache and weakness,
and, collecting the letters, I again lay down in the standing bed-place,
and, drawing the curtains, I was left to my own reflections.  But there
was a sad tumult in my mind.  I could not keep my ideas upon one subject
for a moment.  I was feverish and excited, and at last my head was so
painful that I could think no more.  Fortunately exhaustion threw me
again into a sound sleep, and I did not wake till the next morning.
When I did, I had to recollect where I was and what had happened.  I
knew that there was something dreadful which had occurred; again it
flashed into my memory.  Lord de Versely was dead.  I groaned, and fell
back on the pillow.

"Are you very ill, Captain Keene!" said a voice close to me.  I opened
the curtains, and perceived that it was Cross, who was standing by my
bedside.

"I am indeed, Cross, very ill; I have very bad news.  Lord de Versely is
dead."

"That is bad news, sir," replied Cross--"very bad news, worse than
losing the frigate.  But, Captain Keene, we must have our ups and downs
in this world.  You have had a long run of good fortune, and you must
not be surprised at a change.  It is hard to lose your frigate and your
father at the same time--but you have not lost your life, which is a
great mercy to be thankful for."

I turned away, for my heart was full of bitterness.  Cross, perceiving
my mood, left me, and I remained in a state of some indifference, never
rising from the bed-place during the remainder of the time that I was on
board.

On the second day we arrived at Heligoland, and I was requested by the
governor to take up my quarters with him, until an opportunity occurred
for my return to England.  My spirits were, however, so much weighed
down that I could not rally.  I brooded over my misfortunes, and I
thought that the time was now come when I was to meet a reverse of the
prosperity which I had so long enjoyed.

The sudden death of Lord de Versely, at the age of fifty-six, left me
without a patron, and had destroyed all my hopes centred in him.  The
object of my ambition was, I considered, for ever lost to me.  There was
now no chance of my being acknowledged as a member of his family.  Then
the loss of so fine a frigate, and such a noble ship's company.  That I
should be honourably acquitted by a court-martial I had not a doubt; but
I had no chance of future employment; for, now that Lord de Versely was
dead, I had no one to support my claims.  My prospects, therefore, in
the service were all gone, as well as the visions I had indulged in.  I
dwelt with some pleasure upon the idea that Lord de Versely had left me
his personal property--it proved his regard; but I wanted his family
name, and I preferred that to thousands per annum.  The second day after
our arrival Cross called, and was admitted.  He found me in bad spirits,
and tried all he could to rouse me.  At last he said, "As for the loss
of the frigate, Captain Keene, no human endeavour could have saved her,
and no one could have done his duty better than you did, as the
court-martial will prove; but sir, I think it would be proper just now
to show that your zeal for the service is as strong as ever."

"And how am I to do that, Cross?"

"Why, sir, you know as well as we all do how the Frenchmen are going to
the wall; that they have been thrashed out of Russia, and that they are
retreating everywhere.  They say that they have left Hamburg, and I
understand that the gun-brigs here are going on an expedition from this
island, either to-morrow or next day, to storm the batteries of
Cuxhaven, and so create a diversion, as they call it--and very good
diversion it is--licking those French rascals.  Now, Captain Keene, if I
may take the liberty of saying so, would it not be as well to take as
many of your men as are able to go and join the storming party?  Much
better than sitting here all day, melancholy, and doing nothing."

"It's the first I've heard of it, Cross; are you sure you are correct?"

"How should you hear it, sir, shut up here, and seeing nobody?  It's
true enough, sir; they were telling off the men as I came up, and I
think they start at daylight to-morrow."

"Well, Cross, I will think of it, and let you know my decision if you
call here in half an hour."

Cross left me, and I was still undecided, when the governor called to
pay me a visit.  After the first exchange of civilities, I asked him if
the report was true that there was an expedition about to proceed to
Cuxhaven.  His reply was that the Russians had entered Hamburg, which
the French had evacuated on the 11th, and that the French garrisons at
Cuxhaven were reported to be in a very distressed state, and, in
consequence, the Blazer, and another gun-brig, were about to proceed to
attack the forts.

Hamburg! thought I; why, Minnie Vanderwelt is at Hamburg with her
father.  I will go and try if I cannot get to Hamburg.  The remembrance
of Minnie gave a spur to my energies, and created a new stimulus.  I
then told the governor that I had a few men doing nothing; that I would
join them to the expedition, and serve as a volunteer.  The governor
thanked me for my zeal, and I left him to go down and communicate my
intentions to the commanding officer of the gun-brig, who expressed
himself most happy at my assistance and co-operation.



CHAPTER FORTY THREE.

As neither my men nor I had any luggage to hamper us--for we had just
the clothes we stood in--we were not long getting ready.  We started
next morning; and on entering the river, found that the French had
destroyed their flotilla, and soon afterwards we were invited by the
people to come on shore and take possession of the batteries which the
French had evacuated.  I remained with Cross and my men on shore at
Cuxhaven, while the brigs went up the river, in pursuit of a privateer.

After a day or two, tired of inactivity, and anxious to arrive at
Hamburg, I proposed to Cross that he should accompany me, which he
cheerfully acceded to.  I had drawn a bill at Heligoland, so that we
were in no want of money, and we set off on our expedition.  We had not,
however, proceeded far before we were informed that the road to Hamburg
was so full of French troops, scattered about, that it would be
impossible to gain the city without we made a _detour_.  As we knew that
our throats would be cut by these disorganised parties, we followed the
advice given to us, walking from village to village, until we had put
Hamburg between us and the river.  But when there, we found that we
could not approach the imperial city, but were obliged to direct our
steps more inland.  At last, we heard that the inhabitants of the town
of Lunenburg had risen, and driven out the French garrison, and I
resolved to proceed there, as it was more advisable than being
continually in danger of being picked up by the French stragglers, who
were committing every enormity that could be imagined.

We arrived safe; stated who we were to the authorities, and were well
received; but we had not been there more than two days, when the
rejoicings and braggings of the town's-people, on account of the late
victory over the French garrison, were turned to consternation by the
intelligence that General Moraud was advancing with a considerable force
to re-take the town.  The panic was so great, that all idea of defence
was in vain; and at the very time that I was entreating them to make a
stand, the French troops poured in, and two cuirassiers galloped up, and
seized upon Cross and me.  A few minutes afterwards, General Moraud came
up, and inquired, in a rough tone, who we were.  I replied in French,
that we were English officers.

"Take them away," said he, "and secure them well; I'll make an example
here that shan't be forgotten."

We were taken to the guard-room, where we remained shut up for the
night.  The next morning one of the cuirassiers looked into our cell.  I
asked him whether we could not have something to eat.

"Cela ne vaut pas la peine.  Mon ami, vous n'aurez pas le temps pour la
digestion; dans une demie-heure vous serez fusilles."

"May I ask the English of that, Captain Keene?" replied Cross.

"Yes, it is very pleasant.  He says that it's not worth while eating
anything, as we shall be shot in half an hour."

"Well, I suppose they'll shoot us first, and try us afterwards," replied
Cross.  "Won't they give us a reason?"

"I suspect not, Cross.  I am sorry that I have got you into this scrape;
as for myself, I care little about it."

"I am sorry for poor Jane, sir," replied Cross; "but we all owe Heaven a
death; and, after all, it's not worth making a fuss about."

Our conversation was here interrupted by a party of French soldiers, who
opened the door and ordered us to follow them.  We had not far to go,
for we were led out to the Grand Place, before the prison, where we
found the French troops drawn up, and General Moraud, with his officers
round him, standing in the centre.  At twenty yards' distance, and
surrounded by the troops, which did not amount to more than three
hundred, were thirty of the principal inhabitants of the town, pinioned,
and handkerchiefs tied over their eyes, preparatory to their being shot;
this being the terrible example that the governor had threatened.

"Look, Cross," said I, "what a handful of men these Frenchmen have
retaken the town with.  Why, if we had resisted, we might have laughed
at them."

"They won't laugh any more, I expect," replied Bob.

"_Allons_," said the corporal to me.

"Where?" replied I.

"To your friends, there," replied he, pointing to the town's-people, who
were about to be shot.

"I wish to speak to the general," replied I, resisting.

"No, no: you must go."

"I will speak to the general," replied I, pushing the corporal on one
side, and walking to where the general was standing.

"Well," said the general, fiercely.

"I wish to know, sir," replied I, "by what law you are guided in
shooting us.  We are English officers, here on duty to assist against
the French, and at the most can only be prisoners of war.  Upon what
grounds do you order us to be shot?"

"As spies," replied the general.

"I am no spy, sir; I am a post-captain in the English navy, who joined
with the seamen saved from the wreck of my frigate in the attack upon
Cuxhaven, and there is my boatswain, who came up with me to go to
Hamburg.  At all events, I am fully justified in siding against the
French: and to shoot us will be a murder, which will not fail to be
revenged."

"You may pass yourself off as the captain of a frigate, but your dress
disproves it, and I have better information.  You are two spies, and
smugglers, and therefore you will be shot."

"I tell you before all your officers that I am Captain Keene, of the
Circe frigate, belonging to His Britannic Majesty, and no spy; if you
choose to shoot me now, I leave my death to be revenged by my country."

At this moment an officer in naval uniform stepped forward and looked me
in the face.

"General Moraud," said he, "what that officer says is true: he is
Captain Keene, and I was prisoner on board of his vessel; and I also
know the other man as well."

"Captain Vangilt, I do not request your interference," replied the
general.

"But general, as an officer in the marine of the emperor, it is my duty
to state to you, that you are deceived, and that this officer is the
person that he states himself to be.  Messieurs," continued Captain
Vangilt, addressing those about the general, "I assure you it is true,
and I am under the greatest obligation to this officer for his kindness
and humanity when I was his prisoner."

"I recognise you now, Mr Vangilt," replied I; "and I thank you for your
evidence."

"You see, general, he knows me by name: I must demand the life of this
British officer."

The other officers then spoke to the general, who heard all they had to
say, and then, with a sardonic grin, replied,--"Gentlemen, he may be an
officer, but still he is a spy."  At that moment an orderly came up on
horseback, and, dismounting, gave a note to the general.

"_Sacre bleu_!" cried he; "then we'll have our revenge first at all
events.  Soldiers, take these two men, and put them in the centre, with
the others."

Vangilt pleaded and entreated in vain: at last, in his rage, he called
the general "a coward and a madman."

"Captain Vangilt, you will answer that at some other time," replied the
general; "at present we will carry our will into execution.  Lead them
away."

Vangilt then covered his face with his hands, and all the other officers
showed signs of great disgust.

"Farewell, Vangilt," said I in French; "I thank you for your
interference, although you have not succeeded with the _scoundrel_."

"Take them away!" roared the general.

At that moment the report of musketry was heard in dropping shots.

"Well, if ever I saw such a bloody villain," said Cross.  "Take that, at
all events;" continued Bob, shying his hat right into the general's
face.  "I only wish it was a 32-pounder, you murdering thief."

The rage of the general may easily be imagined.  Once more he gave his
orders, drawing his sword in a menacing way at his own soldiers, who now
forced us towards the part of the square where the other victims were
collected.  As soon as we were there, they wanted to blind our eyes, but
that both I and Bob positively refused, and a delay was created by our
resistance.  The musketry was now approaching much nearer; and a few
seconds afterwards the general gave the order for the party to advance
who were to execute the sentence.

The other prisoners kneeled down; but I and Cross would not; and while
we were resisting, the general repeated his order to fire; but the men
were confused with the advance of the enemy, and the impossibility to
fire while Cross and I not only resisted the soldiers, but held them so
fast, that had the party fired they must have shot them as well as us.
A cry "To arms" was given, and the troops all wheeled round in front to
repel the enemy.  A loud hurrah was followed by an inpouring of some
hundred Cossacks, with their long spears who, in a few seconds charged
and routed the French, who retreated in the greatest confusion by the
different streets which led into the Grand Place.

"Hurrah! we are saved," cried Cross, snatching up a musket that had been
dropped by a soldier.  I did the same, and pursued the retreating
French, till a bullet through my leg put a stop to my progress.  I
called to Cross, who came to my assistance, and he helped me back to the
Grand Place, which was now clear of troops.



CHAPTER FORTY FOUR.

The Cossacks having divided, and gone in pursuit of the French, I
pointed out to Cross a hotel, and requested him to help me there.  As we
crossed the square, strewed with the dead and wounded, we passed close
to General Moraud, who was breathing his last.

"See, Cross," said I, "there is retribution.  He intended that we should
fall where he now lies."

The general recognised us, gave a heavy groan, and, turning on his back,
fell dead.

As soon as I gained the hotel, I was taken up into a room, and made as
comfortable as I could be until my wound could be dressed.

"We're well out of it this time, sir," said Cross.

"Yes, indeed, Bob; this has indeed been a miraculous preservation, and
we ought to thank Heaven for it."

"Why, Captain Keene, I thought just now you did not care whether you
lived or died."

"No more I did at that time, Cross; but when we are so wonderfully
preserved, we cannot think but that we are preserved for better things;
and as Providence has interfered, it points out to us that it is our
duty to live."

"Well, I'm glad to hear you say that, sir.  There's all the troops
coming back.  What queer-looking chaps they are, with their long lances
and long beards!"

"Yes; they are Cossacks--Russian irregular cavalry."

"Irregular enough I don't doubt; but they spitted the French men nicely.
They look exactly what I thought the Pope of Rome was like."

"Cross, call the master of the hotel, and tell him to come here."  When
the man came, I desired him to let the commander of the allied troops
know that an English captain was wounded, and required surgical
assistance.  The master of the hotel went to the burgomaster, who was
one of those who had been ordered to be shot; and the burgomaster, who
was now in company with the Russian commander, made known what I
required.  In about an hour a surgeon came, and my wound was dressed.
The burgomaster called soon afterwards, and expressed his obligation to
me.  "For," said he, "if you had not created the delay--which you did by
your resistance--it would have been all over with us by this time."

"You have to thank a Dutch naval officer of the name of Vangilt,"
replied I; "it is he who saved us all; and if he is not hurt, you must
be kind to him, and bring him to me.  I will get him his parole, if he
is a prisoner.  Will you see to it, burgomaster?"

"I will," replied he, "as soon as we are a little more tranquil; but,
what with fright and confusion, none of us know what we are about.  You
were right, sir, in persuading us to defend ourselves.  We might easily
have beaten off the small force of General Moraud; but we thought he had
ten thousand men, at least.  We will do better another time; but the
French are now in full retreat everywhere."

That night, after dusk, Captain Vangilt came into my room: he had been a
prisoner; but the burgomaster made inquiries, and let him out, which, as
chief magistrate, he had the power to do.  Vangilt embraced me with much
warmth, and expressed his regret that he could not persuade that wretch,
Moraud, from his murderous intentions.

"It came to the same thing, Vangilt.  I owe you my life; for if you had
not created the delay, we should have been shot."

"That's true," replied he.  "How fortunate it was, that, as my squadron
of gun-boats were destroyed, I consented to join Moraud with what men I
could collect, to surprise the town.  Are you badly wounded?"

"No, not seriously, I believe; I hope to be able to get to Hamburg in a
few days."

"There is more than one there who will be delighted to see you."

"Is Mr Vanderwelt alive and well?"

"Oh yes; and Minnie, my pretty cousin, is still unmarried."  Vangilt
smiled as he made this reply.

"I must ask for your parole, Vangilt, and then you can go to Hamburg
with us."

"With all my heart," replied he; "for we are tired of war, and as I am a
Dutchman and not a Frenchman, I care little for the reverses we have met
with; all I hope is, that Holland may become a kingdom again, and not a
French state, as it is now."

The next day, I was visited by the Russian commandant, who very
willingly granted me the parole of Vangilt.  In a week I was well enough
to travel by slow journeys to Hamburg, lying on mattresses in a small
covered waggon, and escorted by Cross and Vangilt.  A few hours before
my arrival, Vangilt went ahead to give notice of my coming, and on the
evening of the second day I found myself in a luxurious chamber, with
every comfort, in the company of Mr Vanderwelt, and with the beaming
eyes of Minnie watching over me.

The report of Minnie's beauty was fully warranted.  When she first made
her appearance, the effect upon me was quite electrical: her style was
radiant, and almost dazzling--a something you did not expect to find in
the human countenance.  Their reception of me was all that I could
desire; their affection shown towards me, their anxiety about my wound,
and joy at once more having me under their roof, proved that I had not
been forgotten.  After a short time, Vangilt left the room, and I
remained on the sofa, one hand in the grasp of Mr Vanderwelt, the other
holding the not unwilling one of Minnie.  That evening I made known to
them all that had taken place since I last wrote to them, winding up
with the loss of my frigate, the death of Lord de Versely, and my
subsequent capture and rescue.

"And so it was in attempting to come and see us that you were wounded
and nearly murdered?"

"Yes, Minnie; I had long been anxious to see you, and could not help
availing myself of the first opportunity."

"Thank God you are here at last," said Mr Vanderwelt, "and that there
is now every prospect of a conclusion to the war."

"And you won't go to sea any more--will you, Percival?" said Minnie.

"They won't give me a ship, Minnie, after having lost the one I
commanded; to be unfortunate is to be guilty, in those who have no
interest."

"I'm very glad to hear it; then you'll remain quietly on shore, and you
will come and see us."

As I had been rendered feverish by travelling, and my wound was a little
angry, as soon as it was dressed for the night, they left me to repose;
but that I could not--the form of Minnie haunted me; to sleep was
impossible, and I lay thinking of her till day dawned.  The fact was,
that I was for the first time in love, and that in no small degree--
before morning I was desperately so.  Indeed, there was excuse
sufficient, for Minnie was as winning in her manners as she was lovely
in her person, and I was not at all surprised at hearing from Vangilt of
the numerous suitors for her hand.



CHAPTER FORTY FIVE.

The next morning I was pale and feverish, which they observed with
concern, Minnie was sitting by me, and Mr Vanderwelt had left the room,
when she said, "How very pale you are, and your hand is so hot; I wish
the doctor would come."

"I could not sleep last night, Minnie--and it was all your fault."

"My fault!"

"Yes, your fault; for I could not sleep for thinking of you; I thought
you were looking at me as you do now the whole night."

Minnie blushed, and I kissed her hand.

As soon as my wound was dressed, I requested writing materials, and
wrote to the Admiralty, giving an account of what had occurred since I
quitted Heligoland.  (I had written to inform them of the loss of the
frigate when I was on the island).  I stated in my despatches that my
wound would probably confine me for some weeks; but as soon as I was
able to be moved, I should return to England to await their orders.  I
also wrote to my mother and Mr Warden.  I informed the latter of what
had passed, and the delay which would be occasioned by my wound, and
requested him to write to me more fully as to the death of Lord de
Versely, and any other particulars which might interest me.

Having sealed these despatches, and entrusted them to the care of Mr
Vanderwelt, my mind was relieved, and I had nothing to do but to think
of and talk to Minnie.  That my progress in her affections was rapid,
was not to be wondered at, her attachment to me having commenced so
early; and as her father was evidently pleased at our increasing
intimacy, in a fortnight after my arrival at Hamburg, Minnie had
consented to be mine, and her father had joined our hands, and given us
his blessing.

As I now had no secrets from them, I detailed my whole history, the
cause of Lord de Versely's patronage, and the mystery of my birth.  I
opened the seal-skin pouch to show them Lord de Versely's letter to my
mother, and stated what had been the object of my ambition through life,
and how great was my disappointment at my hopes being overthrown by the
death of his lordship.

"My dear Percival," said old Mr Vanderwelt, after I had concluded my
narrative, "you have been pursuing a shadow, although the pursuit has
called forth all your energies, and led to your advancement.  You have
the substance.  You have wealth more than sufficient, for you know how
rich I am.  You have reputation, which is better than wealth, and you
have now, I trust, a fair prospect of domestic happiness; for Minnie
will be as good a wife as she has been a daughter.  What, then, do you
desire?  A name.  And what is that?  Nothing.  If you do not like your
present name, from its association with your putative father of low
origin, change it to mine.  You will receive the fortune of an heiress,
which will fully warrant your so doing.  At all events, let not your
pride stand in the way of your happiness.  We cannot expect everything
in this world.  You have much to be thankful to Heaven for, and you must
not repine because you cannot obtain all."

"I have so ardently desired it all my life; it has been the sole object
of my ambition," replied I, "and I cannot but severely feel the
disappointment."

"Granted; but you must bear the disappointment, or rather you must
forget it; regret for what cannot be obtained is not only unavailing,
but, I may say, it is sinful.  You have much to thank God for."

"I have indeed, sir," replied I, as I kissed his daughter; "and I will
not repine.  I will take your name when you give me Minnie, and I will
think no more about that of Delmar."

After this conversation, the subject was not renewed.  I felt too happy
with Minnie's love to care much about anything else; my ambition melted
away before it, and I looked forward to the time when I might embrace
her as my own.

My wound healed rapidly; I had been a month at Hamburg, and was able to
limp about a little, when one day Cross came in with a packet of letters
from England.

There was one from the Admiralty, acknowledging the receipt of my two
letters, one announcing the loss of the Circe, and the other my
subsequent adventures, desiring me to come home as soon as my wound
would permit me, to have the cause of the loss of the Circe investigated
by a court-martial; that of course: one from my mother, thanking Heaven
that I had escaped so many dangers with only a bullet in my leg, and
stating her intention of going up to town to see me as soon as she heard
of my arrival; the third was a voluminous epistle from Mr Warden, which
I shall give to the reader in his own words.

  "MY DEAR CAPTAIN KEENE:--

  "I received your two letters, the first, acquainting me with your
  miraculous preservation after the loss of your frigate, and the other
  with your subsequent adventures on _terra firma_.  You appear to me to
  have a charmed life! and as there is now every prospect of a speedy
  termination to this long and devastating war, I hope you will live
  many days.  I did not enter into many particulars as to Lord de
  Versely's death, as it was so sudden; the property left you is not
  perhaps of so much value in itself, as it is as a mark of his regard
  and esteem.  Nevertheless, if ever you sit down quietly and take a
  wife, you will find that it will save you a few thousands in
  furnishing and decorating; the plate, pictures, and objects _de
  vertu_, as they are termed, are really valuable, and I know that you
  will not part with them, bequeathed as they have been by your friend
  and patron.

  "I must now refer to particulars of more consequence.  You know that,
  as a legal adviser, my lips are supposed to be sealed, and they would
  have remained so now, had it not been that circumstances have occurred
  which warrant my disclosure; indeed, I may say that I have permission
  to speak plainly, as you have to repel charges against you which, if
  not disproved, may seriously affect your future interests.  Know then,
  that when you were last at Madeline Hall, I was sent for to draw up
  the will of the Honourable Miss Delmar, and I then discovered that the
  will which had been made in favour of Lord de Versely, to whom Miss
  Delmar had left everything, was by his express desire to be altered in
  your favour; and at the same time the secret of your birth was
  confided to me.  You will see, therefore, that Lord de Versely did not
  neglect your interests.  The de Versely property he could not leave
  you, but he did what he could in your favour.  This will was signed,
  sealed, and attested, and is now in my possession; and as the old lady
  is very shakey, and something approaching to imbecile, I considered
  that in a short time I should have to congratulate you upon your
  succession to this fine property, which is a clear 8,000 pounds per
  annum.

  "You must also know, that Colonel Delmar, whom you also met here, and
  who accompanied you to Portsmouth, has always hoped that he would be
  the heir of the old lady; and, indeed, had you not stepped in, I have
  no doubt but eventually such would have been the case.  It appears
  that he has, by some means, discovered that you have ousted him, and
  since you sailed he has returned to Madeline Hall, and has so
  unsettled the old lady, by reporting that you are an impostor, and no
  relation by blood, that she has given me instructions to make a new
  will in his favour.  By what means he has prevailed upon her I cannot
  tell: the chief support of his assertion rests upon some letters,
  which he has either surreptitiously obtained or forged, written by
  your mother and addressed to you.  Now that your mother has been
  supposed to be dead many years I knew well for Lord de Versely told me
  so.  The old lady has shown me these letters, which certainly appear
  authentic; and she says, that if you have deceived her and Lord de
  Versely as to your mother's death, you have deceived them in
  everything else, and that she does not now believe that you are the
  son of her nephew.  As I hinted before, the old lady is almost in her
  dotage, and cannot well be reasoned with, for she is very positive.  I
  argued as long as I could with her, but in vain.  At last she
  consented to stop proceedings until I heard from you, saying, `If I
  can have any proof under my nephew's own hand that Percival is his
  son, I will be content; but without that I sign the new will.'

  "Such is the state of affairs, that you have little chance if such a
  document cannot be produced, I feel certain; at all events, I have
  gained delay which we lawyers always aim at.  I only wish the old lady
  would take a sudden departure, and leave the question as unsettled as
  it is.  Had Lord de Versely not been so suddenly called away, this
  would never have happened; as it is, we must make the best fight we
  can.  At present the colonel has it all his own way.  Pray write
  immediately, and explain as much as you can of this strange affair and
  let me know what steps you think it advisable to be taken.--Yours very
  truly,

  "F. WARDEN."



CHAPTER FORTY SIX.

The receipt of this letter was extremely mortifying to me.  I could not
help feeling that if I lost the fine property which had been intended
for me, I lost it chiefly by the deceit practised relative to my
mother's supposed death, and that if I did lose the estate in
consequence, it was a proper punishment.  At the same time, I felt not a
little indignant at the conduct of Colonel Delmar.  I now understood why
it was that he was talking with Mr Warden's clerk when I passed by
them; and I also felt certain that he must have taken advantage of my
situation at Portsmouth, and have opened my desk and stolen the letters
from my mother.  For this I resolved to call him to account, under any
circumstances (that is, whether he or I became the heir to the old
lady), as soon as I could fall in with him.  Although I was far from
despising the property which I was now likely to lose, yet I was more
actuated in my wish to regain it by my enmity towards him, and I
immediately resolved upon what I would do.

As I was still unfit to travel, and, moreover, was resolved not to leave
Hamburg without Minnie as my wife, I sent for Cross, and telling him in
few words, what had taken place, asked him if he would immediately start
for England, which he gladly consented to do.  "The old lady requires,
it seems, proof from Lord de Versely's own hand that I am his son;
fortunately, that is in my power to give; so do you take this, and as
soon as you arrive in England make all haste to Mr Warden's and put it
into his own hands."  I then took off the seal-skin pouch containing
Lord de Versely's letter to my mother, and confided it to his care.  At
the same time I wrote a long letter to Mr Warden explaining as far as I
could the means which the colonel had used to get possession of the
letters, and the reason which induced me to make his lordship believe
that my mother was dead.  I did not attempt to extenuate my conduct; on
the contrary, I severely blamed myself for my deception, and
acknowledged that if I lost the estate it was nothing more than I
deserved.

Cross made all haste, and sailed the next morning.  Having put this
affair in train, I had nothing to do but to give all my thoughts to
Minnie.  In another fortnight I was completely recovered, and then I
mentioned to Mr Vanderwelt my anxiety that the marriage should take
place.  No difficulties were raised; and it was settled that on that day
week I should lead my Minnie to the altar.  I thought that the week
would never expire; but, like all other weeks, it died a natural death
at last, and we were united.  The _fete_ was over, the company had all
left us, and we were again alone, and I held my dearest Minnie in my
arms, when Mr Vanderwelt brought me in a letter from England.  It was
from Mr Warden, and I hastily opened it.  Minnie shared my impatience,
and read over my shoulder.  The contents were as follows:--

  "MY DEAR CAPTAIN KEENE,

  "Most fortunate it was for you that you have preserved that letter;
  but I must not anticipate.  On receiving it from Cross I immediately
  went with it to the old lady, and presented it to her.  I did more,--I
  read over your letter in which you stated your reasons for making Lord
  de Versely believe that your mother was dead.  The old lady, who is
  now very far gone in her intellect, could hardly understand me.
  However, her nephew's handwriting roused her up a little, and she
  said, `Well, well--I see--I must think about it.  I won't decide.  I
  must hear what the colonel says.'  Now, this is what I did not wish
  her to do; but she was positive, and I was obliged to leave her.  The
  colonel was sent for; but I do not know what the result was, or rather
  might have been, as fortune stood your friend in a most unexpected
  way.

  "As I went out, I perceived two gentlemen arrive in a post-chaise.
  One of them appeared very ill and feeble, hardly able to walk up the
  steps.  They inquired for Colonel Delmar, and were shown into a
  sitting-room, until he came out of Mrs Delmar's apartment.  I saw him
  come out; and there was so much satisfaction in his countenance, that
  I felt sure that he had gained over the old lady.  And I went home,
  resolving that I would burn the new will, which had not been signed,
  if it were only to gain the delay of having to make it over again.
  But the next morning an express arrived for me to go immediately to
  the Hall.  I did so, but I did not take the new will with me, as I
  felt certain that if I had so done, it would have been signed that
  day.  But I was mistaken: I had been sent for on account of the death
  of Colonel Delmar, who had that morning fallen in a duel with Major
  Stapleton, the officer who fought with you.  It appears that Captain
  Green had informed the major of the language used by the colonel when
  Major S was supposed to be dead; and that the major, who has been very
  ill ever since, only waited till he was able to stand to demand
  satisfaction of the colonel.  It was the major with his friend whom I
  met as I left the Hall the day before.  They fought at daylight, and
  both fell.  The major, however, lived long enough to acknowledge that
  the duel with you had been an arranged thing between him and the
  colonel, that you might be put out of the way, after the information
  the colonel had received from my clerk, and that the colonel was to
  have rewarded him handsomely if he had sent you into the other world.
  I suspect, after this, that the fowling-piece going off in the cover
  was not quite so accidental as was supposed.  However, the colonel is
  out of your way now, and the old lady has received such a shock, that
  there is no fear of her altering the will; indeed, if she attempted
  it, I doubt if it would be valid, as she is now quite gone in her
  intellect.  I have, therefore, destroyed the one not signed; and have
  no doubt, but that in a very few weeks I may have to congratulate you
  upon your succession to this property.  I think that the sooner you
  can come home the better, and I advise you to take up your quarters at
  Madeline Hall, for possession is nine points of the law, and you can
  keep off all trespassers.--Yours most truly,

  "F. WARDEN."

"Well, Minnie dearest, I may congratulate you, I believe, as the lady of
Madeline Hall," said I, folding up the letter.

"Yes, Percival, but there is a postscript overleaf, which you have not
read."

I turned back to the letter.

  "PS.  I quite forgot to tell you that there is a condition attached to
  your taking possession of the property, which, as it was at the
  particular request of Lord de Versely, I presume you will not object
  to, which is--that you assume the arms and name of Delmar."

THE END.





*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Percival Keene" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



Home