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Title: Peter Simple; and, The Three Cutters, Vol. 1-2
Author: Marryat, Frederick, 1792-1848
Language: English
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[Transcriber's note: The spelling inconsistencies of the original have
been retained in this etext. In some cases, they have been denoted by
[sic].]

PETER SIMPLE

AND

THE THREE CUTTERS

BY
CAPTAIN MARRYAT

VOL I

LONDON

J.M. DENT AND CO
BOSTON: LITTLE, BROWN AND CO.
MDCCCXCV



Contents

VOLUME I


LIST OF MARRYAT'S WORKS, ETC                                          ix
BIOGRAPHICAL INTRODUCTION                                             xi
PREFATORY NOTE TO PETER SIMPLE AND THE THREE CUTTERS               xxxiv

_PETER SIMPLE_

CHAPTER I                                                              1

CHAPTER II                                                             7

CHAPTER III                                                           12

CHAPTER IV                                                            18

CHAPTER V                                                             24

CHAPTER VI                                                            30

CHAPTER VII                                                           37

CHAPTER VIII                                                          43

CHAPTER IX                                                            52

CHAPTER X                                                             60

CHAPTER XI                                                            67

CHAPTER XII                                                           74

CHAPTER XIII                                                          87

CHAPTER XIV                                                           98

CHAPTER XV                                                           111

CHAPTER XVI                                                          124

CHAPTER XVII                                                         139

CHAPTER XVIII                                                        148

CHAPTER XIX                                                          157

CHAPTER XX                                                           164

CHAPTER XXI                                                          172

CHAPTER XXII                                                         181

CHAPTER XXIII                                                        191

CHAPTER XXIV                                                         197

CHAPTER XXV                                                          203

CHAPTER XXVI                                                         212

CHAPTER XXVII                                                        219

CHAPTER XXVIII                                                       228

CHAPTER XXIX                                                         239

CHAPTER XXX                                                          247



LIST OF MARRYAT'S WORKS.

IN THE ORDER OF PUBLICATION.

By FREDERICK MARRYAT. _Born_, July 1792. _Died_, Aug. 1848.

*SUGGESTIONS FOR THE ABOLITION OF THE PRESENT SYSTEM
      OF IMPRESSMENT IN THE NAVAL SERVICE                           1822

ADVENTURES OF A NAVAL OFFICER, OR FRANK MILDMAY                     1829

THE KING'S OWN                                                      1830

NEWTON FORSTER                                                      1832

PETER SIMPLE                                                        1834

JACOB FAITHFUL                                                      1834

PACHA OF MANY TALES                                                 1835

MR MIDSHIPMAN EASY                                                  1836

JAPHET IN SEARCH OF A FATHER                                        1836

THE PIRATE AND THE THREE CUTTERS                                    1836

*A CODE OF SIGNALS FOR THE USE OF VESSELS EMPLOYED
      IN THE MERCHANT SERVICE                                       1837

SNARLEY-YOW, OR THE DOG FIEND                                       1837

THE PHANTOM SHIP                                                    1839

*DIARY IN AMERICA                                                   1839

OLLA PODRIDA                                                        1840

POOR JACK                                                           1840

MASTERMAN READY                                                     1841

JOSEPH RUSHBROOK, OR THE POACHER                                    1841

PERCIVAL KEENE                                                      1842

NARRATIVE OF THE TRAVELS AND ADVENTURES OF MONSIEUR
      VIOLET                                                        1843

SETTLERS IN CANADA                                                  1844

THE MISSION, OR SCENES IN AFRICA                                    1845

THE PRIVATEER'S MAN                                                 1846

THE CHILDREN OF THE NEW FOREST                                      1847

THE LITTLE SAVAGE                                                1848-49

VALERIE                                                             1849



This edition will include all the novels and tales, only omitting the
three items marked in the above list with an asterisk. The text will be,
for the most part, that of the first editions, except for the correction
of a few obvious errors and some modernisation of spelling. _Rattlin the
Reefer,_ so frequently attributed to Marryat, will not be reprinted
here. It was written by Edward Howard, subeditor, under Marryat, of the
_The Metropolitan Magazine,_ and author of _Outward Bound,_ etc. On the
title-page it is described simply as _edited_ by Marryat and, according
to his daughter, the Captain did no more than stand literary sponsor to
the production. In 1850, Saunders and Otley published:--_The Floral
Telegraph, or, Affections Signals_ by the late Captain Marryat, R.N.,
but Mrs Lean knows nothing of the book, and it is probably not Marryat's
work.

_The Life and Letters of Captain Marryat: by Florence Marryat (Mrs
Lean), in 2 vols.: Richard Bentley_ 1872, are the only biographical
record of the novelist extant. In some matters they are very detailed
and personal, in others reticent. The story has been spiritedly retold,
with reflections and criticisms, by Mr David Hannay in the "Great
Writers" Series, 1889.

The frontispiece is from a print, published by Henry Colburn in 1836,
after the portrait by Simpson, the favourite pupil of Sir Thomas
Lawrence, which was "considered more like him than any other." Count
D'Orsay took a portrait of Marryat, in coloured crayons, about 1840, but
it was not a success. A portrait, in water colours, by Behnes, was
engraved as a frontispiece to _The Pirate and The Three Cutters._ His
bust was taken by Carew.

R.B.J.



Frederick Marryat


Without yielding implicit credence to the handsome pedigree of the
Marryats supplied by Mrs Lean, the novelist's daughter, we may give a
glance in passing to the first-fruits of this family tree. They--
naturally--came over with the Conqueror, and emerged from obscurity
under Stephen as the proud "possessors of much lands at the village of
Meryat, Ashton Meryat, and elsewhere in Somersetshire ... One Nicotas de
Maryet is deputed to collect the ransom of Richard Coeur de Leon through
the county of Somerset ... In the reign of Edward I., Sir John de
Maryet is called to attend the Great Parliament; in that of Edward II.,
his son is excommunicated for embowelling his deceased wife; 'a fancy,'
says the county historian, 'peculiar to the knightly family of Meryat.'"
Mrs Lean quotes records of other Meryat "hearts" to which an honourable
burial has been accorded. The house of Meryat finally lost its property
on the fall of Lady Jane Grey, to whom it had descended through the
female line.

Captain Marryat belonged to the Suffolk branch of the family, of whom
"one John de Maryat had the honour of dancing in a masque before the
Virgin Queen at Trinity College, Cambridge ... was sent to aid the
Huguenots in their wars in France ... escaped the massacre of St
Bartholemew and, in 1610, returned to England." Here he married "Mary,
the daughter and heiress of Daniel Luke, of the Covent Garden (a rank
Puritan family in _Hudibras_), and again settled in his paternal county
of Suffolk." Less partial biographers neglect to trace the Marryats
beyond this Huguenot officer, who is described by them as a refugee.

Whatever may be the truth of these matters, it is certain that during
the 17th and 18th centuries the Maryats were a respectable, middle-class
Puritan family--ministers, doctors, and business men. In the days of the
merry monarch a John Marryat became distinguished as a "painful
preacher," and was twice expelled from his livings for non-conformity.
Captain Marryat's grandfather was a good doctor, and his father, Joseph
Marryat of Wimbledon House, was an M.P., chairman for the committee of
Lloyd's, and colonial agent for the island of Grenada--a substantial
man, who refused a baronetcy, and was honoured by an elegy from
Campbell. He married Charlotte Geyer, or Von Geyer, a Hessian of good
descent.

Frederick, born July 10, 1792, was one of fifteen sons and daughters,
"of whom ten attained maturity, and several have entered the lists of
literature." His eldest brother, Joseph, was a famous collector of
china, and author of _Pottery and Porcelain_; the youngest, Horace,
wrote _One Year in Sweden, Jutland and the Danish Isles_; and his
sister, Mrs Bury Palliser, was the author of _Nature and Art_ (not to be
confounded with Mrs Inchbald's novel of that name), _The History of
Lace_, and _Historic Devices, Badges and War Cries_. His father and
grandfather published political and medical works, respectively, while
the generation below was equally prolific. Marryat's youngest son,
Frank, described his travels in _Borneo and the Eastern Archipelago_ and
_Mountains and Molehills_, or _Recollections of a Burnt Journal_; and
his daughter Florence, Mrs Lean, the author of his _Life and Letters_,
has written a great many popular novels.

We can record little of Marryat's boyhood beyond a general impression of
his discontent with school-masters and parents. Mr Hannay is probably
right in regarding his hard pictures of home and school life as
reflections of his own experience.

It is said that on one occasion he was found to be engaged in the
pursuit of knowledge while standing on his head; and that he accounted
for the circumstance with a humorous philosophy almost worthy of Jack
Easy--"Well! I've been trying for three hours to learn it on my feet,
but I couldn't, so I thought I would try whether it would be easier to
learn it on my head." Another anecdote, of a contest with his
school-fellow Babbage, is interesting and characteristic. It appears
that the inventor of the calculating machine, unlike Marryat, was a very
diligent lad; and that he accordingly arranged, with some kindred
spirits, to begin work at three in the morning. The restless Marryat
wished to join the party, but his motives were suspected and the
conspirators adopted the simple expedient of not waking him. Marryat
rolled his bed across the door, and Babbage pushed it away. Marryat tied
a string from his wrist to the door handle, and Babbage unfastened it. A
thicker string was cut, a chain was unlinked by pliers, but at last the
future captain forged a chain that was too stout for the future
mathematician. Babbage, however, secured his revenge; as soon as his
comrade was safely asleep he slipped a piece of pack thread through the
chain and, carrying the other end to his own bed, was enabled by a few
rapid jerks to waken Marryat whenever he chose. Apparently satisfied
with his victory in the gentle art of tormenting, Babbage yielded
voluntarily upon the original point of dispute. Marryat and others
joined the reading party, transformed it to a scene of carnival, and
were discovered by the authorities.

Meanwhile Marryat was constantly running away--to sea; according to his
own account because he was obliged to wear his elder brother's old
clothes. On one occasion his father injudiciously sent him back in a
carriage with some money in his pocket. The wise youth slipped out, and
finding his way home by some quiet approach, carried off his younger
brothers to the theatre. He finally ran away from a private tutor, and
Mr Marryat recognised the wisdom of compliance. Being then fourteen,
that is of age to hold a commission, Frederick was allowed to enter the
navy, and on the 23rd of September 1806, he started on his first voyage
on board H.M.S. _Impérieuse_, Captain Lord Cochrane, for the
Mediterranean.

He could scarcely have entered upon his career under better auspices. In
a line-of-battle ship he would have had no chance of service at this
stage of the war, when the most daring of the French could not be
decoyed out of port; but the frigates had always more exciting work on
hand than mere patrolling. There were cruisers to be captured,
privateers to be cut off, convoys to be taken, and work to be done on
the coast among the forts. And Lord Cochrane, Earl of Dundonald, was not
the man to neglect his opportunities. His daring gallantry and cool
judgment are accredited to most of Marryat's captains, particularly in
_Frank Mildmay_, where the cruise of the _Impérieuse_ along the Spanish
coast is most graphically and literally described. Cochrane's
_Autobiography_ betrays the strong, stern individuality of the man,
invaluable in action, somewhat disturbing in civil life. As a reformer
in season and out of season, at the Admiralty or in the House of
Commons, his zeal became a bye-word, but Marryat knew him only on board
his frigate, as an inspiring leader of men. He never passed an
opportunity of serving his country and winning renown, but his daring
was not reckless.

"I must here remark," says Marryat in his private log, "that I never
knew any one so careful of the lives of his ship's company as Lord
Cochrane, or any one who calculated so closely the risks attending any
expedition. Many of the most brilliant achievements were performed
without loss of a single life, so well did he calculate the chances; and
one half the merit which he deserves for what he did accomplish has
never been awarded him, merely because, in the official despatches,
there has not been a long list of killed and wounded to please the
appetite of the English public."

Marryat has left us a graphic account of his first day at sea:--

  "The _Impérieuse_ sailed; the Admiral of the port was one who _would_
  be obeyed, but _would not_ listen always to reason or common sense.
  The signal for sailing was enforced by gun after gun; the anchor was
  hove up, and, with all her stores on deck, her guns not even mounted,
  in a state of confusion unparalleled from her being obliged to hoist
  in faster than it was possible she could stow away, she was driven out
  of harbour to encounter a heavy gale. A few hours more would have
  enabled her to proceed to sea with security, but they were denied; the
  consequences were appalling, they might have been fatal. In the
  general confusion some iron too near the binnacles had attracted the
  needle of the compasses; the ship was steered out of her course. At
  midnight, in a heavy gale at the close of November, so dark that you
  could not distinguish any object, however close, the _Impérieuse_
  dashed upon the rocks between Ushant and the Main. The cry of terror
  which ran through the lower decks; the grating of the keel as she was
  forced in; the violence of the shocks which convulsed the frame of the
  vessel; the hurrying up of the ship's company without their clothes;
  and then the enormous wave which again bore her up, and carried her
  clean over the reef, will never be effaced from my memory."

This, after all, was not an inappropriate introduction to the stormy
three years which followed it. The story is written in the novels,
particularly _Frank Mildmay[1]_ where every item of his varied and
exciting experience is reproduced with dramatic effect. It would be
impossible to rival Marryat's narrative of episodes, and we shall gain
no sense of reality by adjusting the materials of fiction to an exact
accordance with fact. He says that these books, except _Frank Mildmay,_
are "wholly fictitious in characters, in plot, and in events," but they
are none the less truthful pictures of his life at sea. Cochrane's
_Autobiography_ contains a history of the _Impérieuse_; it is from
_Peter Simple_ and his companions that we must learn what Marryat
thought and suffered while on board.

Under Cochrane he cruised along the coast of France from Ushant to the
mouth of the Gironde, saw some active service in the Mediterranean, and,
after a return to the ocean, was finally engaged in the Basque Roads. A
page of his private log contains a lively _resumé_ of the whole
experience:--

  "The cruises of the _Impérieuse_ were periods of continual excitement,
  from the hour in which she hove up her anchor till she dropped it
  again in port; the day that passed without a shot being fired in
  anger, was to us a blank day: the boats were hardly secured on the
  booms than they were cast loose and out again; the yard and stay
  tackles were forever hoisting up and lowering down. The expedition
  with which parties were formed for service; the rapidity of the
  frigate's movements night and day; the hasty sleep snatched at all
  hours; the waking up at the report of the guns, which seemed the only
  keynote to the hearts of those on board, the beautiful precision of
  our fire, obtained by constant practice; the coolness and courage of
  our captain, inoculating the whole of the ship's company; the
  suddenness of our attacks, the gathering after the combat, the killed
  lamented, the wounded almost envied; the powder so burnt into our face
  that years could not remove it; the proved character of every man and
  officer on board, the implicit trust and adoration we felt for our
  commander; the ludicrous situations which would occur in the extremest
  danger and create mirth when death was staring you in the face, the
  hair-breadth escapes, and the indifference to life shown by all--when
  memory sweeps along these years of excitement even now, my pulse beats
  more quickly with the reminiscence."

After some comparatively colourless service in other frigates, during
which he gained the personal familiarity with West Indian life of which
his novels show many traces, he completed his time as a midshipman, and
in 1812, returned home to pass. As a lieutenant his cruises were
uneventful and, after being several times invalided, he was promoted
Commander in 1815, just as the Great War was closing. He was now only
twenty-three, and had certainly received an admirable training for the
work with which he was soon to enchant the public. Though never present
at a great battle, and many good officers were in the same position, he
had seen much smart service and knew from others what lay beyond his own
experience. He evidently took copious notes of all he saw and heard. He
had sailed in the North Sea, in the Channel, in the Mediterranean, and
along the Eastern coast of America from Nova Scotia to Surinam. He had
been rapidly promoted.

It is tolerably obvious that, both as midshipman and lieutenant, he
evinced the cool daring and manly independence that characterises his
heroes, with a dash perhaps of Jack Easy's philosophy. It was a rough
life and he was not naturally amenable to discipline, but probably his
superiors made a favourite of the dashing handsome lad. The habit, which
helps to redeem Frank Mildmay and even graces Peter Simple, of saving
others from drowning, was always his own. His daughter records, with
pardonable pride, that he was presented while in the navy with
twenty-seven certificates, recommendations, and votes of thanks for
having saved the lives of others at the risk of his own, besides
receiving a gold medal from the Humane Society.

During the peace of 1815 he "occupied himself in acquiring a perfect
knowledge of such branches of science as might prove useful should the
Lords of the Admiralty think fit to employ him in a voyage of discovery
or survey." A vaguely projected expedition to Africa was, however,
relinquished on account of his marriage with "Catherine, second daughter
of Sir Stephen Shairp, Knt., of Houston, Co. Linlithgow (for many years
Her Britannic Majesty's Consul-General, and twice _chargé d'affaires_ at
the court of Russia);" which took place in January 1819. In this same
year he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society, according to
tradition on account of his skill in drawing caricatures.

He was at sea again soon after his marriage as commander of the _Beaver_
sloop, in which commission he was sent to mount guard over Napoleon at
St Helena until his death. He took a sketch of the dead emperor in full
profile, which was engraved in England and France, and considered a
striking likeness. He was meanwhile no doubt perfecting the code of
signals for the use of merchant vessels of all nations, including the
cipher for secret correspondence, which was immediately adopted, and
secured to its inventor the Cross of the Legion of Honour from Louis
Philippe. It was not actually published in book form till 1837, from
which date its sale produced an appreciable income.

After returning in the _Rosario_ with the despatches concerning
Napoleon's death, he was sent to escort the body of Queen Caroline to
Cuxhaven. He was then told off for revenue duty in the Channel, and had
some smart cruising for smugglers until the _Rosario_ was pronounced
unseaworthy and paid off on the 22nd of February 1822. As a result of
this experience he wrote a long despatch to the Admiralty, in which he
freely criticised the working of the preventive service, and made some
practical suggestions for its improvement. In 1822 he also published
_Suggestions for the abolition of the present system of impressment in
the Naval Service_, a pamphlet which is said to have made him unpopular
with Royalty. He frequently in his novels urges the same reform, which
he very earnestly desired.

He was appointed to the _Larne_ in March 1823, and saw some hard service
against the Burmese, for which he received the thanks of the general and
the Indian Government, the Companionship of the Bath, and the command of
the _Ariadne_. Two years later, in November 1830, he resigned his ship,
and quitted active service, according to Mrs Lean, because of his
appointment as equerry to His Royal Highness the Duke of Sussex.

He was probably influenced, however, by a distaste for routine duties in
time of peace, the claims of a growing family, and literary ambitions.
He had already published _Frank Mildmay_, and received for it the
handsome sum of £400, and negotiations were very possibly on foot
concerning _The King's Own_, of which the composition had been
completed.

There is considerable difficulty in following the remainder of Marryat's
life, owing to the silence of our only authority, Mrs Lean. No reasons
can be assigned for the sudden flittings in which he constantly
indulged, or for his hasty journeys to America and to the Continent. He
was clearly impulsive in all things, and, though occasionally shrewd,
betrayed a mania for speculation. Moreover, he was naturally addicted to
the Bohemian pleasures of life, being somewhat promiscuous in
hospitality, and absolutely prodigal in the art of making presents. To
satisfy these various demands on his pocket, he was often driven to
spells of desperate work, in spite of the really handsome sums he
received from the publishers and editors with whom he was always at
variance.

His first regular establishment was Sussex House, Hampstead, which he
soon "swapped," after dinner and champagne, for a small estate of 1000
acres at Langham, Norfolk; though he did not finally settle in the
country till 1843. His original occupation of Langham, which realised
him a steady annual deficit, was followed by a return to London, a visit
to Brighton and, in 1835, a journey on the Continent to Brussels and
Lausanne.

He had, meanwhile, been contributing to _The Metropolitan Magazine,_
which he edited from 1832 to 1835, finally selling his proprietary
rights to Saunders and Otley for £1050. His editorial work was arduous,
and many of his own compositions were first published in _The
Metropolitan._ Here appeared _Newton Forster,_ 1832, _Peter Simple,_
1833, _Jacob Faithful, Midshipman Easy,_ and _Japhet in search of a
Father_(!) 1834, besides a comedy in three acts, entitled _The Gipsy,_ a
tragedy called _The Cavalier of Seville,_ and the miscellaneous papers
afterwards collected under the title, _Olla Podrida._

In 1833 he stood, as a reformer, for Tower Hamlets, but his methods of
canvassing were imprudent. He dwelt upon his own hobbies, and
disregarded those of the electors. He apparently expected to carry the
day by opposing the pressgang in a time of peace, and even permitted
himself to repudiate philanthropy towards the African negro. The
gallantry with which, on one occasion, he saved the lives of his
audience when the floor of the room had fallen in, was not permitted to
cover the rash energy of his reply to a persistent questioner:--"If ever
you, or one of your sons, should come under my command at sea and
deserve punishment, if there be no other effectual mode of conferring
it, _I shall flog you."_ It is hardly necessary to add that he lost the
election.

He afterwards failed in a plan for the establishment of brevet rank in
the army, but gave some valuable assistance in the preparation of the
Merchant Shipping Bill of 1834.

It was about this time that Marryat is currently reported to have
challenged F.D. Maurice to a duel. The latter had published an
anonymous novel, called _Eustace Conway,_ in which "a prominent
character, represented in no amiable colours, bore the name of Captain
Marryat." The truth of the story seems to be that the Captain went in
hot wrath to Bentley, and demanded an apology or a statement that the
coincidence was unintentional. Maurice replied, through his publisher,
that he had never heard of Captain Marryat. It may be questioned whether
the apology was not more galling than the original offence.

In 1834 some legal difficulties arose in connection with his father's
memory, which Marryat accepted with admirable philosophy:--

  "As for the Chancellor's judgment," he told his mother, "I cannot say
  that I thought anything about it, on the contrary, it appears to me
  that he might have been much more severe if he had thought proper. It
  is easy to impute motives, and difficult to disprove them. I thought,
  considering his enmity, that he let us off cheap; as there is no
  _punishing a chancellor,_ and he might say what he pleased with
  impunity. I did not therefore _roar_, I only _smiled_. The effect will
  be nugatory. Not one in a thousand will read it; those who do, know it
  refers to a person not in this world; and of those, those who knew my
  father will not believe it, those who did not will care little about
  it, and forget the name in a week. Had he given the decision in our
  favour, I should have been better pleased, _but it's no use crying;
  what's done can't be helped."_

This letter was written from Brighton, and the following year found
Marryat on the Continent, at home in a circle of gay spirits who might
almost be called the outcasts of English society. They were
pleasure-seekers, by no means necessarily depraved but, by narrow
incomes or other causes, driven into a cheerful exile. The captain was
always ready to give and take in the matter of entertainment, and he was
invited everywhere though, on one occasion at least, it is recorded that
he proved an uncongenial guest. Having dined, as a recognised lion among
lions, he "didn't make a single joke during the whole evening." His host
remarked on his silence the next morning, and Marryat replied:--

  "Oh, if that's what you wanted you should have asked me when you were
  alone. Why, did you imagine I was going to let out any of my jokes for
  those fellows to put in their next books? No, that is not _my_ plan.
  When I find myself in such company _as that_ I open my ears and hold
  my tongue, glean all I can, and give them nothing in return."

He did not always, however, play the professional author so offensively,
and we hear of his taking part in private theatricals and dances,
preparing a Christmas tree for the children, and cleverly packing his
friends' portmanteaux.

Meanwhile, he was writing _The Pirate and Three Cutters,_ for which he
received £750, as well as _Snarley-yow_ and the _Pacha of many Tales._
He had been contributing to the _Metropolitan_ at 15 guineas a sheet,
until he paid a flying visit to England in 1836 in order to transfer his
allegiance to the _New Monthly Magazine,_ from which he secured 20
guineas. Mrs Lean states that her father received £1100 each for _Peter
Simple, Jacob Faithful, Japhet,_ and _The Pacha of many Tales;_ £1200
for _Midshipman Easy,_ £1300 for _Snarley-yow,_ and £1600 for the _Diary
in America._ Yet "although Captain Marryat and his publishers mutually
benefited by their transactions with each other, one would have
imagined, from the letters exchanged between them, that they had been
natural enemies." She relates how one of the fraternity told Marryat he
was "somewhat eccentric--an odd creature," and added, "I am somewhat
warm-tempered myself, and therefore make allowance for yours, which is
certainly warm enough."

Marryat justified the charge by replying:--

  "There was no occasion for you to make the admission that you are
  somewhat warm-tempered; your letter establishes that fact. Considering
  your age, you are a little volcano, and if the insurance were aware of
  your frequent visits at the Royal Exchange, they would demand double
  premium for the building. Indeed, I have my surmises _now_ as to the
  last conflagration.

       *       *       *       *       *

  Your remark as to the money I have received may sound well, mentioned
  as an isolated fact; but how does it sound when it is put in
  juxtaposition with the sums you have received? I, who have found
  everything, receiving a pittance, while you, who have found nothing
  but the shop to sell in, receiving such a lion's share. I assert again
  that it is slavery. I am Sinbad the sailor, and you are the old man of
  the mountain, clinging on my back, and you must not be surprised at my
  wishing to throw you off the first convenient opportunity.

  The fact is, you have the vice of old age very strong upon you, and
  you are blinded by it; but put the question to your sons, and ask them
  whether they consider the present agreement fair. Let them arrange
  with me, and do you go and read your Bible. We all have our ideas of
  Paradise, and if other authors think like me, the most pleasurable
  portion of anticipated bliss is that there will be no publishers
  there. That idea often supports me after an interview with one of your
  fraternity."

Marryat only returned to England a few months before hurrying off to
America in April 1837. The reasons for this move it is impossible to
conjecture, as we can scarcely accept the apparent significance of his
comments on Switzerland in the _Diary on the Continent:--_

  "Do the faults of these people arise from the peculiarity of their
  constitutions, or from the nature of their government? To ascertain
  this, one must compare them with those who live under similar
  institutions. _I must go to America--that is decided_."

He was received by the Americans with a curious mixture of suspicion and
enthusiasm. English men and women of letters in late years had been
visiting the Republic and criticising its institutions to the mother
country--with a certain forgetfulness of hospitalities received that was
not, to say the least of it, in good taste. Marryat was also an author,
and it seemed only too probable that he had come to spy out the land. On
the other hand, his books were immensely popular over the water and, but
for dread of possible consequences, Jonathan was delighted to see him.
His arrival at Saratoga Springs produced an outburst in the local papers
of the most pronounced journalese:--

  "This distinguished writer is at present a sojourner in our city.
  Before we knew the gallant Captain was respiring our balmy air, we
  really did wonder what laughing gas had imbued our atmosphere--every
  one we met in the streets appeared to be in such a state of
  jollification; but when we heard that the author of _Peter Simple_ was
  actually puffing a cigar amongst us we no longer marvelled at the
  pleasant countenances of our citizens. He has often made them laugh
  when he was thousands of miles away. Surely now it is but natural that
  they ought to be tickled to death at the idea of having him present."

The Bostonians were proud to claim him as a compatriot through his
mother, and a nautical drama from his pen--_The Ocean Wolf, or the
Channel Outlaw_--was performed at New York with acclamation. He had some
squabbles with American publishers concerning copyright, and was clever
enough to secure two thousand two hundred and fifty dollars from Messrs
Carey & Hart for his forthcoming _Diary in America_ and _The Phantom
Ship,_ which latter first appeared in the _New Monthly,_ 1837 and 1838.
He evidently pleased the Americans on the whole, and was not
unfavourably impressed by what he saw, but the six volumes which he
produced on his return are only respectable specimens of bookmaking, and
do not repay perusal. It was, indeed, his own opinion that he had
already written enough. "If I were not rather in want of money," he says
in a letter to his mother, "I certainly would not write any more, for I
am rather tired of it. I should like to disengage myself from the
fraternity of authors, and be known in future only in my profession as a
good officer and seaman." He had hoped to see some service in Canada,
but the opportunity never came.

In England, to which he returned in 1839, the want of money soon came to
be felt more seriously. His father's fortune had been invested in the
West Indies, and began to show diminishing returns. For this and other
reasons he led a very wandering existence, for another four or five
years, until 1843. A year at 8 Duke Street, St James, was followed by a
short stay with his mother at Wimbledon House, from which he took
chambers at 120 Piccadilly, and then again moved to Spanish Place,
Manchester Square. Apparently at this time he made an unsuccessful
attempt to return to active service. He was meanwhile working hard at
_Poor Jack, Masterman Ready, The Poacher, Percival Keene,_ etc., and
living hard in the merry circle of a literary Bohemia, with Clarkson
Stanfield, Rogers, Dickens, and Forster; to whom were sometimes added
Lady Blessington, Ainsworth, Cruickshank, and Lytton. The rival
interests served to sour his spirits and weaken his constitution.

The publication of _The Poacher_ in the _Era_ newspaper involved its
author in a very pretty controversy. A foolish contributor to _Fraser's
Magazine_ got into a rage with Harrison Ainsworth for _condescending_ to
write in the weekly papers, and expressed himself as follows:--

  "If writing monthly fragments threatened to deteriorate Mr Ainsworth's
  productions, what must be the result of this _hebdomadal_ habit?
  Captain Marryat, we are sorry to say, has taken to the same line. Both
  these popular authors may rely upon our warning, that they will live
  to see their laurels fade unless they more carefully cultivate a
  spirit of _self-respect._ That which was venial in a miserable
  starveling of Grub Street is _perfectly disgusting_ in the
  extravagantly paid novelists of these days--the _caressed_, of
  generous booksellers. Mr Ainsworth and Captain Marryat ought to
  disdain such _pitiful peddling._ Let them eschew it without delay."

Marryat's reply was, spirited and manly. After ridiculing _Fraser's_
attempt "to set up a standard of _precedency_ and _rank_ in literature,"
and humorously proving that an author's works were not to be esteemed in
proportion to the length of time elapsing between their production, he
turned to the more serious and entirely honest defence that, like
Dickens, he was supplying the lower classes with wholesome recreation:--

  "I would rather write for the instruction, or even the amusement of
  the poor than for the amusement of the rich; and I would sooner raise
  a smile or create an interest in the honest mechanic or agricultural
  labourer who requires relaxation, than I would contribute to dispel
  the _ennui_ of those who loll on their couches and wonder in their
  idleness what they shall do next. Is the rich man only to be amused?
  are mirth and laughter to be made a luxury, confined to the upper
  classes, and denied to the honest and hard-working artisan?...

  In a moral point of view, I hold that I am right. We are educating the
  lower classes; generations have sprung up who can read and write; and
  may I enquire what it is that they have to read, in the way of
  amusement?--for I speak not of the Bible, which is for private
  examination. They have scarcely anything but the weekly newspapers,
  and, as they cannot command amusement, they prefer those which create
  the most excitement; and this I believe to be the cause of the great
  circulation of the _Weekly Dispatch,_ which has but too well succeeded
  in demoralising the public, in creating disaffection and ill-will
  towards the government, and assisting the nefarious views of
  demagogues and chartists. It is certain that men would rather laugh
  than cry--would rather be amused than rendered gloomy and
  discontented--would sooner dwell upon the joys or sorrows of others in
  a tale of fiction than brood over their own supposed wrongs. If I put
  good and wholesome food (and, as I trust, sound moral) before the
  lower classes, they will eventually eschew that which is coarse and
  disgusting, which is only resorted to because no better is supplied.
  Our weekly newspapers are at present little better than records of
  immorality and crime, and the effect which arises from having no other
  matter to read and comment upon, is of serious injury to the morality
  of the country ... I consider, therefore, that in writing for the
  amusement and instruction of the poor man, I am doing that which has
  but been too much neglected--that I am serving my country, and you
  surely will agree with me that to do so in not _infra. dig. _in the
  proudest Englishman; and, as a Conservative, you should commend rather
  than stigmatise my endeavours in the manner which you have so hastily
  done."


It has been said that Marryat's wandering ceased in 1843, and it was in
that year that he settled down at Langham to look after his own estate.
Langham is in the northern division of Norfolk, half way between
Wells-next-the-Sea and Holt. The Manor House, says Mrs Lean, "without
having any great architectural pretensions, had a certain unconventional
prettiness of its own. It was a cottage in the Elizabethan style, built
after the model of one at Virginia Water belonging to his late majesty,
George IV., with latticed windows opening on to flights of stone steps
ornamented with vases of flowers, and leading down from the long narrow
dining-room, where (surrounded by Clarkson Stanfield's illustrations of
_Poor Jack_, with which the walls were clothed) Marryat composed his
later works, to the lawn behind. The house was thatched and gabled, and
its pinkish white walls and round porch were covered with roses and ivy,
which in some parts climbed as high as the roof itself."

In the unpublished fragment of his _Life of Lord Napier_ Marryat had
declared that retired sailors naturally turned to agriculture, and
frequently made good farmers. A sailor on land, he rather quaintly
remarks, is "but a sort of Adam--a new creature, starting into existence
as it were in his prime;" and "the greatest pleasures of man consist in
imitating the Deity in his _creative_ power." The anticipated _pleasure_
in farming he did to a great extent realise, but the _profits_ were
still to seek. It can only be said that his losses were rather smaller
that they had been in his absence.

Thus:--

  1842.  Total receipts,             £154  2  9
   "     Expenditure,                1637  0  6
  1846.  Total receipts,              898 12  6
   "     Expenditure,                2023 10  8

His former tenant had indeed shown but little respect for the property.
Besides taking all he could out of the land without putting anything
into it, he fitted up the drawing-room of the manor (which in its
brightest days had been known in the village as the "Room of Thousand
Columns," from an effect produced by mirrors set in the panels of
folding doors, reflecting trellised pillars,) with rows of beds, which
he let out to tramps at twopence a night!

Of these latter years on the farm we can gather some distinctly pleasant
impressions. Marryat was evidently a good master at all times. He
delighted to arrange for festivities in the servants' hall, but he was
also very tolerant to poachers, and considered it his first duty to find
work for his men when times were bad. His model pigsties and cottages
were unpopular, but he loved his animals and understood them. The chief
merit of his lazy and somewhat asinine pony Dumpling consisted in his
talent for standing still. Upon this patient beast the captain would
occasionally sally forth to shoot, assisting his natural
short-sightedness by a curious "invention of his own;"--a plain piece of
crystal surrounded by a strip of whalebone, hanging in front of his
right eye from the brim of his "shocking bad hat." He was a careless
dresser, but scrupulously clean; no smoker, but very fond of snuff. He
had a fancy for pure white china which had to be procured from the
Continent.

Cordial invitations from friends seldom drew him from his self-imposed
labours, and it appears that, in spite of his son's debts and other
domestic troubles, he led a fairly contented existence among his dogs
and his children. To the latter, though occasionally passionate, he was
"a most indulgent father and friend." He never locked anything away from
them, or shut them out of any room in the house. Though severe on
falsehood and cowardice, he was indifferent to mischief, and one is
certainly driven to pity for the governess who was summoned to look
after them. His methods in this connection were original. "He kept a
quantity of small articles for presents in his secretary; and at the
termination of each week the children and governess, armed with a report
of their general behaviour, were ushered with much solemnity into the
library to render up an account. Those who had behaved well during the
preceding seven days received a prize, because they had been so good;
and those who had behaved ill also received one, in hopes that they
would never be naughty again: the governess was also presented with a
gift, that her criticism on the justice of the transaction might be
disarmed." The father was not a strict disciplinarian, and it is related
that when a little one had made "a large rent in a new frock," for which
she expected punishment from her governess, and ran to him for advice,
he "took hold of the rent and tore off the whole lower part of the
skirt," saying, "Tell her I did it."

The sons were seldom at home, but in spite of a certain constitutional
wildness and lack of prudence, they were evidently a gallant couple,
delighting their father's heart. Frederick, the eldest, became a
distinguished officer, after conquering a strong propensity to practical
joking, and was much regretted in the service when wrecked at the age of
twenty-seven. He was last seen "upbraiding, in his jocular manner, some
people who were frightened, when a sea swept over the ship and took him
with it." Frank was entered upon the roll of the navy at the tender age
of three, and presented to the Port Admiral of Plymouth in full costume.
The officer patted him on the head, saying "Well, you're a fine little
fellow," to which the youngster replied, "and you're a fine old cock,
too."

He became a cultivated and bold traveller, beloved by his friends, and
not unknown to fame. He only survived his father a few years, and died
at the age of twenty-eight.

Marryat now began his charming series of stories for children, a work to
which he turned for a practical reason that sounds strangely from his
impulsive lips:--

"I have lately taken to a different style of writing, that is, for
young people. My former productions, like all novels, have had their
day, and for the present, at least, will sell no more; but it is not
so with the _juveniles_; they have an annual demand, and become _a
little income _to me; which I infinitely prefer to receiving any sum
in a mass, which very soon disappears somehow or other." Save for a
little tendency to preachment, these volumes, particularly _Masterman
Ready_, and _The Children of the New Forest_, are admirably suited to
their purpose from the genuine childlikeness of their conception and
treatment.

Meanwhile Marryat's health was rapidly giving way, and almost his last
appearance before the public was in 1847, when he addressed a pathetic,
but fairly dignified letter to the First Lord of the Admiralty, as a
protest against some affront, which he suspected, to his professional
career. The exact circumstances of the case cannot be now discovered,
but it may be readily conjectured that the formalism of official
courtesy did not match with the Captain's taste, and that the necessity
for self-control on his own part had irritated his resentment. The First
Lord expressed his regret at having wounded a distinguished officer, and
bestowed on him a good service pension.

It may be said that the pension came too late, if indeed it would at any
time have been particularly serviceable. Marryat was now engaged in that
melancholy chase for health which generally augurs the beginning of the
end. He had ruptured two blood vessels, and was in great danger from the
constitutional weakness which had first attacked him as a young
lieutenant in the West Indies. He moved to his mother's house in order
to consult the London doctors. A mild climate was recommended, and he
went down to Hastings, where the news of his son's death destroyed his
own chances of recovery. After about a month's trial of Brighton, he
came back to the London doctors who told him that "in six months he
would be numbered with his forefathers."

He went home to Langham to die. Through the summer of 1848 he lingered
on, "in the 'room of a thousand columns,' with the mimic sky, and birds,
and flowers, above and around him, where he chose to lie upon a
mattress, placed on the ground, and there, almost in darkness, often in
pain, and without occupation, he lay--cheerful and uncomplaining, and at
times even humorous." His daughters frequently read aloud to him, and he
always asked for fresh flowers. At the last he became delirious, though
continuing to dictate pages of talk and reflection. On the morning of
August 9th, 1848, he expired in perfect quiet.

"Although not handsome," says Mrs Lean, "Captain Marryat's personal
appearance was very prepossessing. In figure he was upright and
broad-shouldered for his height, which measured 5ft. 10in. His hands,
without being undersized, were remarkably perfect in form, and modelled
by a sculptor at Rome on account of their symmetry. The character of his
mind was borne out by his features, the most salient expression of which
was the frankness of an open heart. The firm decisive mouth, and massive
thoughtful forehead were redeemed from heaviness by the humorous light
that twinkled in his deep-set grey eyes, which, bright as diamonds,
positively flashed out their fun, or their reciprocation of the fun of
others. As a young man, dark crisp curls covered his head; but later in
life, when, having exchanged the sword for the pen and the
plougshare [sic], he affected a soberer and more patriarchal style of
dress and manner, he wore his grey hair long, and almost down to his
shoulder. His eyebrows were not alike, one being higher up and more
arched than the other, which peculiarity gave his face a look of
enquiry, even in repose. In the upper lip was a deep cleft, and in the
chin as deep a dimple."

Christopher North describes Captain Marryat as "a captain in the navy,
and an honour to it--an admirable sailor, and an admirable writer--and
would that he were with us on the leads, my lads, for a pleasanter
fellow, _to those who know him,_ never enlivened the social board." It
is evident, indeed, that an intimate knowledge of his character was
necessary to its appreciation, for his daughter declares that "like most
warm-hearted people he was quick to take offence, and no one could have
decided, after an absence of six months, with whom he was friends, and
with whom he was not." One of the said friends wrote truly:--

  "His faults proceeded from an _over-active_ mind, which could never be
  quiet--morning, noon, or night. If he had no one to love, he
  quarrelled for want of something better to do; he planned for himself
  and for everybody, and changed his mind ten times a-day."

"Many people have asked," says Mrs Lean "whether Captain Marryat, when
at home, was not 'very funny.' No, decidedly not. In society, with new
topics to discuss, and other wits about him on which to sharpen his own
--or, like flint and steel, to emit sparks by friction--he was as gay
and humorous as the best of them; but at home he was always a
thoughtful, and, at times, a very grave man; for he was not exempt from
those ills that all flesh is heir to, and had his sorrows and his
difficulties and moments of depression, like the rest of us. At such
times it was dangerous to thwart and disturb him, for he was a man of
strong passions and indomitable determination."

It is not difficult to conceive the character in outline--"wise
English-hearted Captain Marryat," Kingsley calls him. He was incapable
of any mean low vices, but his zest for pleasure was keen, and never
restrained by motives of prudence or consideration for others. His
strong passions at times made him disagreeably selfish and overbearing,
qualities forgiven by acquaintances for his social brilliancy, and by
friends for his frank affection. With some business talents and
practical shrewdness, he was quite incapable of wisely conducting his
affairs, by reason of a mania for speculation and originality. There was
considerable waste of good material in his fiery composition.

His books reveal the higher standard of his true nature. Their merits
and faults are alike on the surface. Lockhart declared that "he stood
second in merit to no living novelist but Miss Edgeworth. His happy
delineations and contrasts of character, and easy play of native fun,
redeem a thousand faults of verbosity, clumsiness, and coarseness. His
strong sense, and utter superiority to affectation of all sorts, command
respect, and in his quiet effectiveness of circumstantial narrative he
sometimes approaches old Defoe."

It is easy to criticise Marryat, for his grammar is reckless, he could
not construct a plot, he wrote too much and too rapidly in order to earn
money. But then he was an altogether admirable _raconteur_, and for the
purposes of narration his style was peculiarly appropriate--simple,
rapid, lucid, and vigorous. He does not tax our powers of belief beyond
endurance, or weary us with wonder. His crises are the more effective
from the absence of any studied introduction or thunderous comment; and
he carries his readers through stirring adventures of storm and battle
with a business-like precision that silences doubt. He breathes the
spirit of the sea, himself a genuine sailor, almost as childlike and
simple as one of his own creations. His books are real voyages, in which
a day of bustle and danger is followed by peace and quiet, yarns on the
quarter-deck, and some practical joking among the middies.

He delights in the exhibition of oddities, and the telling of tall
stories outside the regular course of the narrative, which bubbles over
with somewhat boisterous fun. And his humour is genuine and spontaneous;
it is farcical without descending to buffoonery. His comic types are
built up on character, and, if not subtle, are undeniably human and
living. They are drawn, moreover, with sympathy.

The whole tone of Marryat's work is singularly fresh, wholesome, and
manly. His heroes endure rough handling, but they fight their way, for
the most part, to the essential qualities of gentlemen. They are no
saints; but excellent comrades, honest lovers, and brave tars.

R. BRIMLEY JOHNSON.

FOOTNOTES:
[1] In dwelling upon the autobiographical nature of the _incident_, in
_Frank Mildmay,_ it is necessary to guard against the supposition that
Marryat's _character_ in any way resembled his hero's. See further
Preface to _F M._



PREFATORY NOTE

TO

PETER SIMPLE AND THE THREE CUTTERS

From _Nodes Ambrosianæ_:--

_Shepherd_ [HOGG]. Did Marry yacht write _Peter Simple_? Peter Simple
in his ain way's as gude's Parson Adams ... He that invented Peter
Simple's a Sea-Fieldin'.

       *       *       *       *       *

_Peter Simple_ is printed from the first edition, in three volumes.
Saunders and Otley, 1834.

_The Three Cutters_ is printed from the first edition. Longman, Rees,
Orme, Brown, Green, and Longman, 1836.

_The Three Cutters_ was first published in one volume with _The
Pirate_, containing a portrait of Marryat--Drawn by W. Behnes, engraved
by H. Cook; and "illustrated with twenty splendid engravings from
drawings by Clarkson Stanfield, Esq., R.A."



Peter Simple



Chapter I

The great advantage of being the fool of the family--My destiny is
decided, and I am consigned to a stockbroker as part of His Majesty's
sea stock--Unfortunately for me Mr Handycock is a bear, and I get
very little dinner.


If I cannot narrate a life of adventurous and daring exploits,
fortunately I have no heavy crimes to confess; and, if I do not rise in
the estimation of the reader for acts of gallantry and devotion in my
country's cause, at least I may claim the merit of zealous and
persevering continuance in my vocation. We are all of us variously
gifted from Above, and he who is content to walk, instead of to run, on
his allotted path through life, although he may not so rapidly attain
the goal, has the advantage of not being out of breath upon his arrival.
Not that I mean to infer that my life has not been one of adventure. I
only mean to say that, in all which has occurred, I have been a passive,
rather than an active, personage; and, if events of interest are to be
recorded, they certainly have not been sought by me.

As well as I can recollect and analyze my early propensities, I think
that, had I been permitted to select my own profession, I should in all
probability have bound myself apprentice to a tailor; for I always
envied the comfortable seat which they appeared to enjoy upon the
shopboard, and their elevated position, which enabled them to look down
upon the constant succession of the idle or the busy, who passed in
review before them in the main street of the country town, near to which
I passed the first fourteen years of my existence.

But my father, who was a clergyman of the Church of England, and the
youngest brother of a noble family, had a lucrative living, and a "soul
above buttons," if his son had not. It has been from time immemorial the
heathenish custom to sacrifice the greatest fool of the family to the
prosperity and naval superiority of the country, and, at the age of
fourteen, I was selected as the victim. If the custom be judicious, I
had no reason to complain. There was not one dissentient voice, when it
was proposed before all the varieties of my aunts and cousins, invited
to partake of our new-year's festival. I was selected by general
acclamation. Flattered by such an unanimous acknowledgment of my
qualification, and a stroke of my father's hand down my head which
accompanied it, I felt as proud, and, alas! as unconscious as the calf
with gilded horns, who plays and mumbles with the flowers of the garland
which designates his fate to every one but himself. I even felt, or
thought I felt, a slight degree of military ardour, and a sort of vision
of future grandeur passed before me, in the distant vista of which I
perceived a coach with four horses and a service of plate. It was,
however, driven away before I could decipher it, by positive bodily
pain, occasioned by my elder brother Tom, who, having been directed by
my father to snuff the candles, took the opportunity of my abstraction
to insert a piece of the still ignited cotton into my left ear. But as
my story is not a very short one, I must not dwell too long on its
commencement. I shall therefore inform the reader, that my father, who
lived in the north of England, did not think it right to fit me out at
the country town, near to which we resided; but about a fortnight after
the decision which I have referred to, he forwarded me to London, on the
outside of the coach, with my best suit of bottle-green and six shirts.
To prevent mistakes, I was booked in the way-bill "to be delivered to Mr
Thomas Handycock, No. 14, Saint Clement's Lane--carriage paid." My
parting with the family was very affecting; my mother cried bitterly,
for, like all mothers, she liked the greatest fool which she had
presented to my father, better than all the rest; my sisters cried
because my mother cried; Tom roared for a short time more loudly than
all the rest, having been chastised by my father for breaking his fourth
window in that week;--during all which my father walked up and down the
room with impatience, because he was kept from his dinner, and, like all
orthodox divines, he was tenacious of the only sensual enjoyment
permitted to his cloth.

At last I tore myself away. I had blubbered till my eyes were so red and
swollen, that the pupils were scarcely to be distinguished, and tears
and dirt had veined my cheeks like the marble of the chimney-piece. My
handkerchief was soaked through with wiping my eyes and blowing my nose,
before the scene was over. My brother Tom, with a kindness which did
honour to his heart, exchanged his for mine, saying, with fraternal
regard, "Here, Peter, take mine, it's as dry as a bone." But my father
would not wait for a second handkerchief to perform its duty. He led me
away through the hall, when, having shaken hands with all the men and
kissed all the maids, who stood in a row with their aprons to their
eyes, I quitted my paternal roof.

The coachman accompanied me to the place from whence the stage was to
start. Having seen me securely wedged between two fat old women, and
having put my parcel inside, he took his leave, and in a few minutes I
was on my road to London.

I was too much depressed to take notice of anything during my journey.
When we arrived in London, they drove to the Blue Boar (in a street, the
name of which I have forgotten). I had never seen or heard of such an
animal, and certainly it did appear very formidable; its mouth was open
and teeth very large. What surprised me still more was to observe that
its teeth and hoofs were of pure gold. Who knows, thought I, that in
some of the strange countries which I am doomed to visit, but that I may
fall in with, and shoot one of these terrific monsters? with what haste
shall I select those precious parts, and with what joy should I, on my
return, pour them as an offering of filial affection into my mother's
lap!--and then, as I thought of my mother, the tears again gushed into
my eyes.

The coachman threw his whip to the ostler, and the reins upon the
horses' backs; he then dismounted, and calling to me, "Now, young
gentleman, I'se a-waiting," he put a ladder up for me to get down by;
then turning to a porter, he said to him, "Bill, you must take this here
young gem'man and that ere parcel to this here direction.--Please to
remember the coachman, sir." I replied that I certainly would, if he
wished it, and walked off with the porter; the coachman observing, as I
went away, "Well, he is a fool--that's sartain." I arrived quite safe at
St Clement's-lane, when the porter received a shilling for his trouble
from the maid who let me in, and I was shown up into a parlour, where I
found myself in company with Mrs Handycock.

Mrs Handycock was a little meagre woman, who did not speak very good
English, and who appeared to me to employ the major part of her time in
bawling out from the top of the stairs to the servants below. I never
saw her either read a book or occupy herself with needlework, during the
whole time I was in the house. She had a large grey parrot, and I really
cannot tell which screamed the worse of the two--but she was very civil
and kind to me, and asked me ten times a day when I had last heard of my
grandfather, Lord Privilege. I observed that she always did so if any
company happened to call in during my stay at her house. Before I had
been there ten minutes, she told me that she "hadored sailors--they were
the defendiours and preserviours of their kings and countries," and that
"Mr Handycock would be home by four o'clock, and then we should go to
dinner." Then she jumped off her chair to bawl to the cook from the head
of the stairs--"Jemima, Jemima!--ve'll ha'e the viting biled instead of
fried." "Can't, marm," replied Jemima, "they be all begged and crumbed,
with their tails in their mouths." "Vell, then, never mind, Jemima,"
replied the lady.--"Don't put your finger into the parrot's cage, my
love--he's apt to be cross with strangers. Mr Handycock will be home at
four o'clock, and then we shall have our dinner. Are you fond of
viting?"

As I was very anxious to see Mr Handycock, and very anxious to have my
dinner, I was not sorry to hear the clock on the stairs strike four,
when Mrs Handycock again jumped up, and put her head over the banisters,
"Jemima, Jemima, it's four o'clock!" "I hear it, marm," replied the
cook; and she gave the frying-pan a twist, which made the hissing and
the smell come flying up into the parlour, and made me more hungry than
ever.

Rap, tap, tap! "There's your master, Jemima," screamed the lady. "I hear
him, marm," replied the cook. "Run down, my dear, and let Mr Handycock
in," said his wife. "He'll be so surprised at seeing you open the door."

I ran down, as Mrs Handycock desired me, and opened the street-door.
"Who the devil are you?" in a gruff voice, cried Mr Handycock; a man
about six feet high, dressed in blue cotton-net pantaloons and Hessian
boots, with a black coat and waistcoat. I was a little rebuffed, I must
own, but I replied that I was Mr Simple. "And pray, Mr Simple, what
would your grandfather say if he saw you now? I have servants in plenty
to open my door, and the parlour is the proper place for young
gentlemen."

"Law, Mr Handycock," said his wife, from the top of the stairs, "how can
you be so cross? I told him to open the door to surprise you."

"And you have surprised me," replied he, "with your cursed folly."

While Mr Handycock was rubbing his boots on the mat, I went upstairs
rather mortified, I must own, as my father had told me that Mr Handycock
was his stockbroker, and would do all he could to make me comfortable:
indeed, he had written to that effect in a letter, which my father
showed to me before I left home. When I returned to the parlour, Mrs
Handycock whispered to me, "Never mind, my dear, it's only because
there's something wrong on 'Change. Mr Handycock is a _bear_ just now."
I thought so too, but I made no answer, for Mr Handycock came upstairs,
and walking with two strides from the door of the parlour to the
fire-place, turned his back to it, and lifting up his coat-tails, began
to whistle.

"Are you ready for your dinner, my dear?" said the lady, almost
trembling.

"If the dinner is ready for me. I believe we usually dine at four,"
answered her husband, gruffly.

"Jemima, Jemima, dish up! do you hear, Jemima?" "Yes, marm," replied the
cook, "directly I've thickened the butter;" and Mrs Handycock resumed
her seat, with, "Well, Mr Simple, and how is your grandfather, Lord
Privilege?" "He is quite well, ma'am," answered I, for the fifteenth
time at least. But dinner put an end to the silence which followed this
remark. Mr Handycock lowered his coat-tails and walked downstairs,
leaving his wife and me to follow at our leisure.

"Pray, ma'am," inquired I, as soon as he was out of hearing, "what is
the matter with Mr Handycock, that he is so cross to you?"

"Vy, my dear, it is one of the misfortunes of mater-mony, that ven the
husband's put out, the vife is sure to have her share of it. Mr
Handycock must have lost money on 'Change, and then he always comes home
cross. Ven he vins, then he is as merry as a cricket."

"Are you people coming down to dinner?" roared Mr Handycock from below.
"Yes, my dear," replied the lady, "I thought that you were washing your
hands." We descended into the dining-room, where we found that Mr
Handycock had already devoured two of the whitings, leaving only one on
the dish for his wife and me. "Vould you like a little bit of viting, my
dear?" said the lady to me. "It's not worth halving," observed the
gentleman, in a surly tone, taking up the fish with his own knife and
fork, and putting it on his plate.

"Well, I'm so glad you like them, my dear," replied the lady meekly;
then turning to me, "there's some nice roast _weal_ coming, my dear."

The veal made its appearance, and fortunately for us, Mr Handycock could
not devour it all. He took the lion's share, nevertheless, cutting off
all the brown, and then shoving the dish over to his wife to help
herself and me. I had not put two pieces in my mouth before Mr Handycock
desired me to get up and hand him the porter-pot, which stood on the
sideboard. I thought that if it was not right for me to open a door,
neither was it for me to wait at table--but I obeyed him without making
a remark.

After dinner, Mr Handycock went down to the cellar for a bottle of wine.
"O deary me!" exclaimed his wife, "he must have lost a mint of money--we
had better go up stairs and leave him alone; he'll be better after a
bottle of port, perhaps." I was very glad to go away, and being very
tired, I went to bed without any tea, for Mrs Handycock dared not
venture to make it before her husband came up stairs.



Chapter II

Fitting out on the shortest notice--Fortunately for me, this day Mr
Handycock is a bear, and I fare very well--I set off for Portsmouth--
Behind the coach I meet a man before the mast--He is disguised with
liquor, but is not the only disguise I fall in with in my journey.


The next morning Mr Handycock appeared to be in somewhat better humour.
One of the linendrapers who fitted out cadets, &c, "on the shortest
notice," was sent for, and orders given for my equipment, which Mr
Handycock insisted should be ready on the day afterwards, or the
articles would be left on his hands; adding, that my place was already
taken in the Portsmouth coach.

"Really, sir," observed the man, "I'm afraid--on such very short
notice--"

"Your card says, 'the shortest notice,'" rejoined Mr Handycock, with the
confidence and authority of a man who is enabled to correct another by
his own assertions. "If you do not choose to undertake the work, another
will."

This silenced the man, who made his promise, took my measure, and
departed; and soon afterwards Mr Handycock also quitted the house.

What with my grandfather and the parrot, and Mrs Handycock wondering how
much money her husband had lost, running to the head of the stairs and
talking to the cook, the day passed away pretty well till four o'clock;
when, as before, Mrs Handycock screamed, the cook screamed, the parrot
screamed, and Mr Handycock rapped at the door, and was let in--but not
by me. He ascended the stair swith [sic] three bounds, and coming into
the parlour, cried, "Well, Nancy, my love, how are you?" Then stooping
over her, "Give me a kiss, old girl. I'm as hungry as a hunter. Mr
Simple, how do you do? I hope you have passed the morning agreeably. I
must wash my hands and change my boots, my love; I am not fit to sit
down to table with you in this pickle. Well, Polly, how are you?"

"I'm glad you're hungry, my dear, I've such a nice dinner for you,"
replied the wife, all smiles. "Jemima, be quick and dish up--Mr
Handycock is so hungry."

"Yes, marm," replied the cook; and Mrs Handycock followed her husband
into his bedroom on the same floor, to assist him at his toilet.

"By Jove, Nancy, the _bulls_ have been nicely taken in," said Mr
Handycock, as we sat down to dinner.

"O, I am so glad!" replied his wife, giggling; and so I believe she was,
but why I did not understand.

"Mr Simple," said he, "will you allow me to offer you a little fish?"

"If you do not want it all yourself, sir," replied I politely.

Mrs Handycock frowned and shook her head at me, while her husband helped
me. "My dove, a bit of fish?"

We both had our share to-day, and I never saw a man more polite than Mr
Handycock. He joked with his wife, asked me to drink wine with him two
or three times, talked about my grandfather; and, in short, we had a
very pleasant evening.

The next morning all my clothes came home, but Mr Handycock, who still
continued in good humour, said that he would not allow me to travel by
night, that I should sleep there and set off the next morning; which I
did at six o'clock, and before eight I had arrived at the Elephant and
Castle, where we stopped for a quarter of an hour. I was looking at the
painting representing this animal with a castle on its back; and
assuming that of Alnwick, which I had seen, as a fair estimate of the
size and weight of that which he carried, was attempting to enlarge my
ideas so as to comprehend the stupendous bulk of the elephant, when I
observed a crowd assembled at the corner; and asking a gentleman who sat
by me in a plaid cloak, whether there was not something very uncommon to
attract so many people, he replied, "Not very, for it is only a drunken
sailor."

I rose from my seat, which was on the hinder part of the coach, that I
might see him, for it was a new sight to me, and excited my curiosity,
when to my astonishment, he staggered from the crowd, and swore that
he'd go to Portsmouth. He climbed up by the wheel of the coach, and sat
down by me. I believe that I stared at him very much, for he said to me,
"What are you gaping at, you young sculping? Do you want to catch flies?
or did you never see a chap half-seas-over before?"

I replied, "That I had never been at sea in my life, but that I was
going."

"Well, then, you're like a young bear, all your sorrows to come--that's
all, my hearty," replied he. "When you get on board, you'll find
monkey's allowance--more kicks than half-pence. I say, you
pewter-carrier, bring us another pint of ale."

The waiter of the inn, who was attending the coach, brought out the ale,
half of which the sailor drank, and the other half threw into the
waiter's face, telling him that was his "allowance: and now," said he,
"what's to pay?" The waiter, who looked very angry, but appeared too
much afraid of the sailor to say anything, answered fourpence; and the
sailor pulled out a handful of banknotes, mixed up with gold, silver,
and coppers, and was picking out the money to pay for his beer, when the
coachman, who was impatient, drove off.

"There's cut and run," cried the sailor, thrusting all the money into
his breeches pocket. "That's what you'll learn to do, my joker, before
you've been two cruises to sea."

In the meantime the gentleman in the plaid cloak, who was seated by me,
smoked his cigar without saying a word. I commenced a conversation with
him relative to my profession, and asked him whether it was not very
difficult to learn. "Larn," cried the sailor, interrupting us, "no; it
may be difficult for such chaps as me before the mast to larn; but you,
I presume, is a reefer, and they an't got much to larn, 'cause why, they
pipe-clays their weekly accounts, and walks up and down with their hands
in their pockets. You must larn to chaw baccy, drink grog, and call the
cat a beggar, and then you knows all a midshipman's expected to know
nowadays. Ar'n't I right, sir?" said the sailor, appealing to the
gentleman in a plaid cloak. "I axes you, because I see you're a sailor
by the cut of your jib. Beg pardon, sir," continued he, touching his
hat, "hope no offence."

"I am afraid that you have nearly hit the mark, my good fellow," replied
the gentleman.

The drunken fellow then entered into conversation with him, stating that
he had been paid off from the _Audacious_ at Portsmouth, and had come up
to London to spend his money with his messmates, but that yesterday he
had discovered that a Jew at Portsmouth had sold him a seal as gold, for
fifteen shillings, which proved to be copper, and that he was going
back to Portsmouth to give the Jew a couple of black eyes for his
rascality, and that when he had done that he was to return to his
messmates, who had promised to drink success to the expedition at the
Cock and Bottle, St Martin's Lane, until he should return.

The gentleman in the plaid cloak commended him very much for his
resolution; for he said, "that although the journey to and from
Portsmouth would cost twice the value of a gold seal, yet, that in the
end it might be worth a _Jew's Eye_." What he meant I did not
comprehend.

Whenever the coach stopped, the sailor called for more ale, and always
threw the remainder which he could not drink into the face of the man
who brought it out for him, just as the coach was starting off, and then
tossed the pewter pot on the ground for him to pick up. He became more
tipsy every stage, and the last from Portsmouth, when he pulled out his
money, he could find no silver, so he handed down a note, and desired
the waiter to change it. The waiter crumpled it up and put it into his
pocket, and then returned the sailor the change for a one-pound note;
but the gentleman in the plaid had observed that it was a five-pound
note which the sailor had given, and insisted upon the waiter producing
it, and giving the proper change. The sailor took his money, which the
waiter handed to him, begging pardon for the mistake, although he
coloured up very much at being detected. "I really beg your pardon,"
said he again, "it was quite a mistake;" whereupon the sailor threw the
pewter pot at the waiter, saying, "I really beg your pardon, too,"--and
with such force, that it flattened upon the man's head, who fell
senseless on the road. The coachman drove off, and I never heard whether
the man was killed or not.

After the coach had driven off, the sailor eyed the gentleman in the
plaid cloak for a minute or two, and then said, "When I first looked at
you I took you for some officer in mufti; but now that I see you look so
sharp after the rhino, it's my idea that you're some poor devil of a
Scotchman, mayhap second mate of a marchant vessel--there's half a crown
for your services--I'd give you more if I thought you would spend it."

The gentleman laughed, and took the half-crown, which I afterwards
observed that he gave to a grey-headed beggar at the bottom of Portsdown
Hill. I inquired of him how soon we should be at Portsmouth; he answered
that we were passing the lines; but I saw no lines, and I was ashamed to
show my ignorance. He asked me what ship I was going to join. I could
not recollect her name, but I told him it was painted on the outside of
my chest, which was coming down by the waggon; all that I could
recollect was that it was a French name.

"Have you no letter of introduction to the captain?" said he.

"Yes I have," replied I; and I pulled out my pocket-book in which the
letter was. "Captain Savage, H.M. ship _Diomede_," continued I, reading
to him.

To my surprise he very coolly proceeded to open the letter, which, when
I perceived what he was doing, occasioned me immediately to snatch the
letter from him, stating my opinion at the same time that it was a
breach of honour, and that in my opinion he was no gentleman.

"Just as you please, youngster," replied he. "Recollect, you have told
me I am no gentleman."

He wrapped his plaid around him, and said no more; and I was not a
little pleased at having silenced him by my resolute behaviour.



Chapter III

I am made to look very blue at the Blue Posts--Find wild spirits around,
and, soon after, hot spirits within me; at length my spirits overcome me
Call to pay my respects to the Captain, and find that I had had the
pleasure of meeting him before--No sooner out of one scrape than into
another.


When we stopped, I inquired of the coachman which was the best inn. He
answered "that it was the Blue Postesses, where the midshipmen leave
their chestesses, call for tea and toastesses, and sometimes forget to
pay for their breakfastesses." He laughed when he said it, and I thought
that he was joking with me; but he pointed out two large blue posts at
the door next the coach-office, and told me that all the midshipmen
resorted to that hotel. He then asked me to remember the coachman,
which, by this time I had found out implied that I was not to forget to
give him a shilling, which I did, and then went into the inn. The
coffee-room was full of midshipmen, and, as I was anxious about my
chest, I inquired of one of them if he knew when the waggon would come
in.

"Do you expect your mother by it?" replied he.

"Oh no! but I expect my uniforms--I only wear these bottle-greens until
they come."

"And pray what ship are you going to join?"

"The _Die-a-maid_--Captain Thomas Kirkwall Savage."

"The _Diomede_--I say, Robinson, a'n't that the frigate in which the
midshipmen had four dozen apiece for not having pipe-clayed their weekly
accounts on the Saturday?"

"To be sure it is," replied the other; "why the captain gave a youngster
five dozen the other day for wearing a scarlet watch-riband."

"He's the greatest Tartar in the service," continued the other; "he
flogged the whole starboard watch the last time that he was on a cruise,
because the ship would only sail nine knots upon a bowline."

"Oh dear," said I, "then I'm very sorry that I am going to join him."

"'Pon my soul I pity you: you'll be fagged to death: for there's only
three midshipmen in the ship now--all the rest ran away. Didn't they,
Robinson?"

"There's only two left now; for poor Matthews died of fatigue. He was
worked all day, and kept watch all night for six weeks, and one morning
he was found dead upon his chest."

"God bless my soul!" cried I; "and yet, on shore, they say he is such a
kind man to his midshipmen."

"Yes," replied Robinson, "he spreads that report every where. Now,
observe, when you first call upon him, and report your having come to
join his ship, he'll tell you that he is very happy to see you, and that
he hopes your family are well--then he'll recommend you to go on board
and learn your duty. After that, stand clear. Now, recollect what I have
said, and see if it does not prove true. Come, sit down with us and take
a glass of grog; it will keep your spirits up."

These midshipmen told me so much about my captain, and the horrid
cruelties which he had practised, that I had some doubts whether I had
not better set off home again. When I asked their opinion, they said,
that if I did, I should be taken up as a deserter and hanged; that my
best plan was to beg his acceptance of a few gallons of rum, for he was
very fond of grog, and that then I might perhaps be in his good graces,
as long as the rum might last.

I am sorry to state that the midshipmen made me very tipsy that evening.
I don't recollect being put to bed, but I found myself there the next
morning, with a dreadful headache, and a very confused recollection of
what had passed. I was very much shocked at my having so soon forgotten
the injunctions of my parents, and was making vows never to be so
foolish again, when in came the midshipman who had been so kind to me
the night before. "Come, Mr Bottlegreen," he bawled out, alluding, I
suppose, to the colour of my clothes, "rouse and bitt. There's the
captain's coxswain waiting for you below. By the powers, you're in a
pretty scrape for what you did last night!"

"Did last night!" replied I, astonished. "Why, does the captain know
that I was tipsy?"

"I think you took devilish good care to let him know it when you were at
the theatre."

"At the theatre! was I at the theatre?"

"To be sure you were. You would go, do all we could to prevent you,
though you were as drunk as David's sow. Your captain was there with the
admiral's daughters. You called him a tyrant and snapped your fingers at
him. Why, don't you recollect? You told him that you did not care a fig
for him."

"Oh dear! oh dear! what shall I do? what shall I do?" cried I: "My
mother cautioned me so about drinking and bad company."

"Bad company, you whelp--what do you mean by that?"

"O, I did not particularly refer to you."

"I should hope not! However, I recommend you, as a friend, to go to the
George Inn as fast as you can, and see your captain, for the longer you
stay away, the worse it will be for you. At all events, it will be
decided whether he receives you or not. It is fortunate for you that you
are not on the ship's books. Come, be quick, the coxswain is gone back."

"Not on the ship's books," replied I sorrowfully. "Now I recollect there
was a letter from the captain to my father, stating that he had put me
on the books."

"Upon my honour, I'm sorry--very sorry indeed," replied the midshipman;
--and he quitted the room, looking as grave as if the misfortune had
happened to himself. I got up with a heavy head, and heavier heart, and
as soon as I was dressed, I asked the way to the George Inn. I took my
letter of introduction with me, although I was afraid it would be of
little service. When I arrived, I asked, with a trembling voice, whether
Captain Thomas Kirkwall Savage, of H.M. ship _Diomede_, was staying
there. The waiter replied, that he was at breakfast with Captain
Courtney, but that he would take up my name. I gave it him, and in a
minute the waiter returned, and desired that I would walk up. O how my
heart beat!--I never was so frightened--I thought I should have dropped
on the stairs. Twice I attempted to walk into the room, and each time my
legs failed me; at last I wiped the perspiration from my forehead, and
with a desperate effort I went into the room.

"Mr Simple, I am glad to see you," said a voice. I had held my head
down, for I was afraid to look at him, but the voice was so kind that I
mustered up courage; and, when I did look up, there sat with his uniform
and epaulets, and his sword by his side, the passenger in the plaid
cloak, who wanted to open my letter, and whom I had told to his face,
that he was _no gentleman_.

I thought I should have died as the other midshipman did upon his chest.
I was just sinking down upon my knees to beg for mercy, when the captain
perceiving my confusion, burst out into a laugh, and said, "So you know
me again, Mr Simple? Well, don't be alarmed, you did your duty in not
permitting me to open the letter, supposing me, as you did, to be some
other person, and you were perfectly right, under that supposition, to
tell me that I was not a gentleman. I give you credit for your conduct.
Now sit down and take some breakfast."

"Captain Courtney," said he to the other captain, who was at the table,
"this is one of my youngsters just entering the service. We were
passengers yesterday by the same coach." He then told him the
circumstance which occurred, at which they laughed heartily.

I now recovered my spirits a little--but still there was the affair at
the theatre, and I thought that perhaps he did not recognize me. I was,
however, soon relieved from my anxiety by the other captain inquiring,
"Were you at the theatre last night, Savage?"

"No; I dined at the admiral's; there's no getting away from those girls,
they are so pleasant."

"I rather think you are a little--_taken_ in that quarter."

"No, on my word! I might be if I had time to discover which I liked
best; but my ship is at present my wife, and the only wife I intend to
have until I am laid on the shelf."

Well, thought I, if he was not at the theatre, it could not have been
him that I insulted. Now if I can only give him the rum, and make
friends with him.

"Pray, Mr Simple, how are your father and mother?" said the captain.

"Very well, I thank you, sir, and desire me to present their
compliments."

"I am obliged to them. Now I think the sooner you go on board and learn
your duty the better." (Just what the midshipman told me--the very
words, thought I--then it's all true--and I began to tremble again.)

"I have a little advice to offer you," continued the captain. "In the
first place, obey your superior officers without hesitation; it is for
me, not you, to decide whether an order is unjust or not. In the next
place, never swear or drink spirits. The first is immoral and
ungentleman-like, the second is a vile habit which will grow upon you. I
never touch spirit myself, and I expect that my young gentlemen will
refrain from it also. Now you may go, and as soon as your uniforms
arrive, you will repair on board. In the meantime, as I had some little
insight into your character when we travelled together, let me recommend
you not to be too intimate at first sight with those you meet, or you
may be led into indiscretions. Good morning."

I quitted the room with a low bow, glad to have surmounted so easily
what appeared to be a chaos of difficulty; but my mind was confused with
the testimony of the midshipman, so much at variance with the language
and behaviour of the captain. When I arrived at the Blue Posts, I found
all the midshipmen in the coffee-room, and I repeated to them all that
had passed. When I had finished, they burst out laughing, and said that
they had only been joking with me. "Well," said I to the one who had
called me up in the morning, "you may call it joking, but I call it
lying."

"Pray, Mr Bottlegreen, do you refer to me?"

"Yes, I do," replied I.

"Then, sir, as a gentleman, I demand satisfaction. Slugs in a saw-pit.
Death before dishonour, d----e!"

"I shall not refuse you," replied I, "although I had rather not fight a
duel; my father cautioned me on the subject, desiring me, if possible,
to avoid it, as it was flying in the face of my Creator; but aware that
I must uphold my character as an officer, he left me to my own
discretion, should I ever be so unfortunate as to be in such a dilemma."

"Well, we don't want one of your father's sermons at second-hand,"
replied the midshipman, (for I had told them that my father was a
clergyman); "the plain question is, will you fight, or will you not?"

"Could not the affair be arranged otherwise?" interrupted another. "Will
not Mr Bottlegreen retract?"

"My name is Simple, sir, and not Bottlegreen," replied I; "and as he did
tell a falsehood, I will not retract."

"Then the affair must go on," said the midshipman. "Robinson, will you
oblige me by acting as my second?"

"It's an unpleasant business," replied the other; "you are so good a
shot; but as you request it, I shall not refuse. Mr Simple is not, I
believe, provided with a friend."

"Yes, he is," replied another of the midshipmen. "He is a spunky fellow,
and I'll be his second."

It was then arranged that we should meet the next morning, with pistols.
I considered that as an officer and a gentleman, I could not well
refuse; but I was very unhappy. Not three days left to my own guidance,
and I had become intoxicated, and was now to fight a duel. I went up
into my room and wrote a long letter to my mother, enclosing a lock of
my hair; and having shed a few tears at the idea of how sorry she would
be if I were killed, I borrowed a bible from the waiter, and read it
during the remainder of the day.



Chapter IV

I am taught on a cold morning, before breakfast, how to stand fire, and
thus prove my courage--After breakfast I also prove my gallantry--My
proof meets reproof--Woman at the bottom of all mischief--By one I lose
my liberty, and, by another, my money.


When I began to wake the next morning I could not think what it was that
felt like a weight upon my chest, but as I roused and recalled my
scattered thoughts, I remembered that in an hour or two it would be
decided whether I were to exist another day. I prayed fervently, and
made a resolution in my own mind that I would not have the blood of
another upon my conscience, and would fire my pistol up in the air. And
after I had made that resolution, I no longer felt the alarm which I did
before. Before I was dressed, the midshipman who had volunteered to be
my second, came into my room, and informed me that the affair was to be
decided in the garden behind the inn; that my adversary was a very good
shot, and that I must expect to be winged if not drilled.

"And what is winged and drilled?" inquired I. "I have not only never
fought a duel, but I have not even fired a pistol in my life."

He explained what he meant, which was, that being winged implied being
shot through the arm or leg, whereas being drilled was to be shot
through the body. "But," continued he, "is it possible that you have
never fought a duel?"

"No," replied I; "I am not yet fifteen years old."

"Not fifteen! why I thought you were eighteen at the least." (But I was
very tall and stout for my age, and people generally thought me older
than I actually was.)

I dressed myself and followed my second into the garden, where I found
all the midshipmen and some of the waiters of the inn. They all seemed
very merry, as if the life of a fellow-creature was of no consequence.
The seconds talked apart for a little while, and then measured the
ground, which was twelve paces; we then took our stations. I believe
that I turned pale, for my second came to my side and whispered that I
must not be frightened. I replied, that I was not frightened, but that I
considered that it was an awful moment. The second to my adversary then
came up and asked me whether I would make an apology, which I refused to
do as before: they handed a pistol to each of us, and my second showed
me how I was to pull the trigger. It was arranged that at the word
given, we were to fire at the same time. I made sure that I should be
wounded, if not killed, and I shut my eyes as I fired my pistol in the
air. I felt my head swim, and thought I was hurt, but fortunately I was
not. The pistols were loaded again, and we fired a second time. The
seconds then interfered, and it was proposed that we should shake hands,
which I was very glad to do, for I considered my life to have been saved
by a miracle. We all went back to the coffee-room, and sat down to
breakfast. They then told me that they all belonged to the same ship
that I did, and that they were glad to see that I could stand fire, for
the captain was a terrible fellow for cutting-out and running under the
enemy's batteries.

The next day my chest arrived by the waggon, and I threw off my
"bottle-greens" and put on my uniform. I had no cocked hat, or dirk, as
the warehouse people employed by Mr Handycock did not supply those
articles, and it was arranged that I should procure them at Portsmouth.
When I inquired the price, I found that they cost more money than I had
in my pocket, so I tore up the letter I had written to my mother before
the duel, and wrote another asking for a remittance, to purchase my dirk
and cocked hat. I then walked out in my uniform, not a little proud, I
must confess. I was now an officer in his Majesty's service, not very
high in rank, certainly, but still an officer and a gentleman, and I
made a vow that I would support the character, although I was considered
the greatest fool of the family.

I had arrived opposite a place called Sally Port, when a young lady,
very nicely dressed, looked at me very hard and said, "Well, Reefer, how
are you off for soap?" I was astonished at the question, and more so at
the interest which she seemed to take in my affairs. I answered, "Thank
you, I am very well off; I have four cakes of Windsor, and two bars of
yellow for washing." She laughed at my reply, and asked me whether I
would walk home and take a bit of dinner with her. I was astonished at
this polite offer, which my modesty induced me to ascribe more to my
uniform than to my own merits, and, as I felt no inclination to refuse
the compliment, I said that I should be most happy. I thought I might
venture to offer my arm, which she accepted, and we proceeded up High
Street on our way to her home.

Just as we passed the admiral's house, I perceived my captain walking
with two of the admiral's daughters. I was not a little proud to let him
see that I had female acquaintances as well as he had, and, as I passed
him with the young lady under my protection, I took off my hat, and made
him a low bow. To my surprise, not only did he not return the salute,
but he looked at me with a very stern countenance. I concluded that he
was a very proud man, and did not wish the admiral's daughters to
suppose that he knew midshipmen by sight; but I had not exactly made up
my mind on the subject, when the captain, having seen the ladies into
the admiral's house, sent one of the messengers after me to desire that
I would immediately come to him at the George Inn, which was nearly
opposite.

I apologised to the young lady, and promised to return immediately if
she would wait for me; but she replied, if that was my captain, it was
her idea that I should have a confounded wigging and be sent on board.
So, wishing me good-bye, she left me and continued her way home. I could
as little comprehend all this as why the captain looked so black when I
passed him; but it was soon explained when I went up to him in the
parlour at the George Inn. "I am sorry, Mr Simple," said the captain,
when I entered, "that a lad like you should show such early symptoms of
depravity; still more so, that he should not have the grace which even
the most hardened are not wholly destitute of--I mean to practise
immorality in secret, and not degrade themselves and insult their
captain by unblushingly avowing (I may say glorying in) their iniquity,
by exposing it in broad day, and in the most frequented street of the
town."

"Sir," replied I with astonishment, "O dear! O dear! what have I done?"

The captain fixed his keen eyes upon me, so that they appeared to pierce
me through, and nail me to the wall. "Do you pretend to say, sir, that
you were not aware of the character of the person with whom you were
walking just now?"

"No, sir," replied I; "except that she was very kind and good-natured;"
and then I told him how she had addressed me, and what subsequently took
place.

"And is it possible, Mr Simple, that you are so great a fool?" I replied
that I certainly was considered the greatest fool of our family. "I
should think you were," replied he, drily. He then explained to me who
the person was with whom I was in company, and how any association with
her would inevitably lead to my ruin and disgrace.

I cried very much, for I was shocked at the narrow escape which I had
had, and mortified at having fallen in his good opinion. He asked me how
I had employed my time since I had been at Portsmouth, and I made an
acknowledgment of having been made tipsy, related all that the
midshipmen had told me, and how I had that morning fought a duel.

He listened to my whole story very attentively, and I thought that
occasionally there was a smile upon his face, although he bit his lips
to prevent it. When I had finished, he said, "Mr Simple, I can no longer
trust you on shore until you are more experienced in the world. I shall
desire my coxswain not to lose sight of you until you are safe on board
of the frigate. When you have sailed a few months with me, you will then
be able to decide whether I deserve the character which the young
gentlemen have painted, with, I must say, I believe, the sole intention
of practising upon your inexperience."

Altogether I did not feel sorry when it was over. I saw that the captain
believed what I had stated, and that he was disposed to be kind to me,
although he thought me very silly. The coxswain, in obedience to his
orders, accompanied me to the Blue Posts. I packed up my clothes, paid
my bill, and the porter wheeled my chest down to the Sally Port, where
the boat was waiting.

"Come, heave a-head, my lads, be smart. The captain says we are to take
the young gentleman on board directly. His liberty's stopped for getting
drunk and running after the Dolly Mops!"

"I should thank you to be more respectful in your remarks, Mr Coxswain,"
said I with displeasure.

"Mister Coxswain! thanky, sir, for giving me a handle to my name,"
replied he. "Come, be smart with your oars, my lads!"

"La, Bill Freeman," said a young woman on the beach, "what a nice young
gentleman you have there! He looks like a sucking Nelson. I say, my
pretty young officer, could you lend me a shilling?"

I was so pleased at the woman calling me a young Nelson, that I
immediately complied with her request. "I have not a shilling in my
pocket," said I, "but here is half-a-crown, and you can change it and
bring me back the eighteen pence."

"Well, you are a nice young man," replied she, taking the half-crown;
"I'll be back directly, my dear."

The men in the boat laughed, and the coxswain desired them to shove off.

"No," observed I, "you must wait for my eighteen pence."

"We shall wait a devilish long while then, I suspect. I know that girl,
and she has a very bad memory."

"She cannot be so dishonest or ungrateful," replied I. "Coxswain, I
order you to stay--I am an officer."

"I know you are, sir, about six hours old: well, then, I must go up and
tell the captain that you have another girl in tow, and that you won't
go on board."

"Oh no, Mr Coxswain, pray don't; shove off as soon as you please, and
never mind the eighteen pence."

The boat then shoved off, and pulled towards the ship, which lay at
Spithead.



Chapter V

I am introduced to the quarter-deck and first lieutenant, who pronounces
me very clever--Trotted below to Mrs Trotter--Connubial bliss in a
cock-pit--Mr Trotter takes me in as a mess-mate--Feel very much
surprised that so many people know that I am the son of--my father.


On our arrival on board, the coxswain gave a note from the captain to
the first lieutenant, who happened to be on deck. He read the note,
looked at me earnestly, and then I overheard him say to another
lieutenant, "The service is going to the devil. As long as it was not
popular, if we had not much education, we at least had the chance that
natural abilities gave us; but now that great people send their sons for
a provision into the navy, we have all the refuse of their families, as
if anything was good enough to make a captain of a man-of-war, who has
occasionally more responsibility on his shoulders, and is placed in
situations requiring more judgment, than any other people in existence.
Here's another of the fools of a family made a present of to the
country--another cub for me to lick into shape. Well, I never saw the
one yet I did not make something of. Where's Mr Simple?"

"I am Mr Simple, sir," replied I, very much frightened at what I had
overheard.

"Now, Mr Simple," said the first lieutenant, "observe, and pay
particular attention to what I say. The captain tells me in this note
that you have been shamming stupid. Now, sir, I am not to be taken in
that way. You're something like the monkeys, who won't speak because
they are afraid they will be made to work. I have looked attentively at
your face, and I see at once that you are _very clever_, and if you do
not prove so in a very short time, why--you had better jump overboard,
that's all. Perfectly understand me. I know that you are a very clever
fellow, and having told you so, don't you pretend to impose upon me, for
it won't do."

I was very much terrified at this speech, but at the same time I was
pleased to hear that he thought me clever, and I determined to do all in
my power to keep up such an unexpected reputation.

"Quarter-master," said the first lieutenant, "tell Mr Trotter to come on
deck."

The quarter-master brought up Mr Trotter, who apologized for being so
dirty, as he was breaking casks out of the hold. He was a short,
thick-set man, about thirty years of age, with a nose which had a red
club to it, very dirty teeth, and large black whiskers.

"Mr Trotter," said the first lieutenant, "here is a young gentleman who
has joined the ship. Introduce him into the berth, and see his hammock
slung. You must look after him a little."

"I really have very little time to look after any of them, sir," replied
Mr Trotter; "but I will do what I can. Follow me, youngster."
Accordingly, I descended the ladder after him; then I went down another,
and then to my surprise I was desired by him to go down a third, which
when I had done, he informed me that I was in the cock-pit.

"Now, youngster," said Mr Trotter, seating himself upon a large chest,
"you may do as you please. The midshipmen's mess is on the deck above
this, and if you like to join, why you can; but this I will tell you as
a friend, that you will be thrashed all day long, and fare very badly;
the weakest always goes to the wall there, but perhaps you do not mind
that. Now that we are in harbour, I mess here, because Mrs Trotter is on
board. She is a very charming woman, I can assure you, and will be here
directly; she has just gone up into the galley to look after a net of
potatoes in the copper. If you like it better, I will ask her permission
for you to mess with us. You will then be away from the midshipmen, who
are a sad set, and will teach you nothing but what is immoral and
improper, and you will have the advantage of being in good society, for
Mrs Trotter has kept the very best in England. I make you this offer
because I want to oblige the first lieutenant, who appears to take an
interest about you, otherwise I am not very fond of having any intrusion
upon my domestic happiness."

I replied that I was much obliged to him for his kindness, and that if
it would not put Mrs Trotter to an inconvenience, I should be happy to
accept of his offer; indeed, I thought myself very fortunate in having
met with such a friend. I had scarcely time to reply, when I perceived a
pair of legs, cased in black cotton stockings, on the ladder above us,
and it proved that they belonged to Mrs Trotter, who came down the
ladder with a net full of smoking potatoes.

"Upon my word, Mrs Trotter, you must be conscious of having a very
pretty ankle, or you would not venture to display it, as you have to Mr
Simple, a young gentleman whom I beg to introduce to you, and who, with
your permission, will join our mess."

"My dear Trotter, how cruel of you not to give me warning; I thought
that nobody was below. I declare I'm so ashamed," continued the lady,
simpering, and covering her face with the hand which was unemployed.

"It can't be helped now, my love, neither was there anything to be
ashamed of. I trust Mr Simple and you will be very good friends. I
believe I mentioned his desire to join our mess."

"I am sure I shall be very happy in his company. This is a strange place
for me to live in, Mr Simple, after the society to which I have been
accustomed; but affection can make any sacrifice; and rather than lose
the company of my dear Trotter, who has been unfortunate in pecuniary
matters--"

"Say no more about it, my love. Domestic happiness is everything, and
will enliven even the gloom of a cock-pit."

"And yet," continued Mrs Trotter, "when I think of the time when we used
to live in London, and keep our carriage. Have you ever been in London,
Mr Simple?" I answered that I had.

"Then, probably, you may have been acquainted with, or have heard of,
the Smiths?"

I replied that the only people that I knew there were a Mr and Mrs
Handycock.

"Well, if I had known that you were in London, I should have been very
glad to have given you a letter of introduction to the Smiths. They are
quite the topping people of the place."

"But, my dear," interrupted Mr Trotter, "is it not time to look after
our dinner?"

"Yes; I am going forward for it now. We have skewer pieces to-day. Mr
Simple, will you excuse me?" and then, with a great deal of flirtation
and laughing about her ankles, and requesting me, as a favour, to turn
my face away, Mrs Trotter ascended the ladder.

As the reader may wish to know what sort of looking personage she was, I
will take this opportunity to describe her. Her figure was very good,
and at one period of her life I thought her face must have been very
handsome; at the time I was introduced to her, it showed the ravages of
time or hardship very distinctly; in short, she might be termed a faded
beauty, flaunting in her dress, and not very clean in her person.

"Charming woman, Mrs Trotter, is she not, Mr Simple?" said the master's
mate; to which, of course, I immediately acquiesced. "Now, Mr Simple,"
continued he, "there are a few arrangements which I had better mention
while Mrs Trotter is away, for she would be shocked at our talking about
such things. Of course, the style of living which we indulge in is
rather expensive. Mrs Trotter cannot dispense with her tea and her other
little comforts; at the same time I must put you to no extra expense--I
had rather be out of pocket myself. I propose that during the time you
mess with us you shall only pay one guinea per week; and as for entrance
money, why I think I must not charge you more than a couple of guineas.
Have you any money?"

"Yes," I replied, "I have three guineas and a half left."

"Well, then, give me the three guineas, and the half-guinea you can
reserve for pocket-money. You must write to your friends immediately for
a further supply."

I handed him the money, which he put in his pocket. "Your chest,"
continued he, "you shall bring down here, for Mrs Trotter will, I am
sure, if I request it, not only keep it in order for you, but see that
your clothes are properly mended. She is a charming woman, Mrs Trotter,
and very fond of young gentlemen. How old are you?"

I replied that I was fifteen.

"No more! well, I am glad of that, for Mrs Trotter is very particular
after a certain age. I should recommend you on no account to associate
with the other midshipmen. They are very angry with me, because I would
not permit Mrs Trotter to join their mess, and they are sad
story-tellers."

"That they certainly are," replied I; but here we were interrupted by
Mrs Trotter coming down with a piece of stick in her hand upon which
were skewered about a dozen small pieces of beef and pork, which she
first laid on a plate, and then began to lay the cloth and prepare for
dinner.

"Mr Simple is only fifteen, my dear," observed Mr Trotter.

"Dear me!" replied Mrs Trotter, "why, how tall he is! He is quite as
tall for his age as young Lord Foutretown, whom you used to take out
with you in the _chay_. Do you know Lord Foutretown, Mr Simple?"

"No, I do not, ma'am," replied I; but wishing to let them know that I
was well connected, I continued, "but I dare say that my grandfather,
Lord Privilege, does."

"God bless me! is Lord Privilege your grandfather? Well, I thought I saw
a likeness somewhere. Don't you recollect Lord Privilege, my dear
Trotter, that we met at Lady Scamp's--an elderly person? It's very
ungrateful of you not to recollect him, for he sent you a very fine
haunch of venison."

"Privilege--bless me, yes. Oh, yes! an old gentleman, is he not?" said
Mr Trotter, appealing to me.

"Yes, sir," replied I, quite delighted to find myself among those who
were acquainted with my family.

"Well, then, Mr Simple," said Mrs Trotter, "since we have the pleasure
of being acquainted with your family, I shall now take you under my own
charge, and I shall be so fond of you that Trotter shall become quite
jealous," added she, laughing. "We have but a poor dinner to-day, for
the bumboat woman disappointed me. I particularly requested her to bring
me off a leg of lamb, but she says that there was none in the market. It
is rather early for it, that's true; but Trotter is very nice in his
eating. Now, let us sit down to dinner."

I felt very sick, indeed, and could eat nothing. Our dinner consisted of
the pieces of beef and pork, the potatoes, and a baked pudding in a tin
dish. Mr Trotter went up to serve the spirits out to the ship's company,
and returned with a bottle of rum.

"Have you got Mr Simple's allowance, my love?" inquired Mrs Trotter.

"Yes; he is victualled to-day, as he came on board before twelve
o'clock. Do you drink spirits, Mr Simple?"

"No, I thank you," replied I; for I remembered the captain's injunction.

"Taking, as I do, such an interest in your welfare, I must earnestly
recommend you to abstain from them," said Mr Trotter. "It is a very bad
habit, and once acquired, not easy to be left off. I am obliged to drink
them, that I may not check the perspiration after working in the hold; I
have, nevertheless, a natural abhorrence of them; but my champagne and
claret days are gone by, and I must submit to circumstances."

"My poor Trotter!" said the lady.

"Well," continued he, "it's a poor heart that never rejoiceth." He then
poured out half a tumbler of rum, and filled the glass up with water.

"My love, will you taste it?"

"Now, Trotter, you know that I never touch it, except when the water is
so bad that I must have the taste taken away. How is the water to-day?"

"As usual, my dear, not drinkable." After much persuasion Mrs Trotter
agreed to sip a little out of his glass. I thought that she took it
pretty often, considering that she did not like it, but I felt so unwell
that I was obliged to go on the main-deck. There I was met by a
midshipman whom I had not seen before. He looked very earnestly in my
face, and then asked my name. "Simple," said he. "What, are you the son
of old Simple?"

"Yes, sir," replied I, astonished that so many should know my family.

"Well, I thought so by the likeness. And how is your father?"

"Very well, I thank you, sir."

"When you write to him, make my compliments, and tell him that I desired
to be particularly remembered to him;" and he walked forward, but as he
forgot to mention his own name, I could not do it.

I went to bed very tired; Mr Trotter had my hammock hung up in the
cock-pit, separated by a canvas-screen from the cot in which he slept
with his wife. I thought this very odd, but they told me it was the
general custom on board ship, although Mrs Trotter's delicacy was very
much shocked by it. I was very sick, but Mrs Trotter was very kind. When
I was in bed she kissed me, and wished me good night, and very soon
afterwards I fell fast asleep.



Chapter VI

Puzzled with very common words--Mrs Trotter takes care of my wardrobe--A
matrimonial duet, ending _con strepito_.


I awoke the next morning at daylight with a noise over my head which
sounded like thunder; I found it proceeded from holystoning and washing
down the main-deck. I was very much refreshed nevertheless, and did not
feel the least sick or giddy. Mr Trotter, who had been up at four
o'clock, came down, and directed one of the marines to fetch me some
water. I washed myself on my chest, and then went on the main-deck,
which they were swabbing dry. Standing by the sentry at the cabin-door,
I met one of the midshipmen with whom I had been in company at the Blue
Posts.

"So, Master Simple, old Trotter and his faggot of a wife have got hold
of you--have they?" said he. I replied, that I did not know the meaning
of faggot, but that I considered Mrs Trotter a very charming woman. At
which he burst into a loud laugh. "Well," said he, "I'll just give you a
caution. Take care, or they'll make a clean sweep. Has Mrs Trotter shown
you her ankle yet?"

"Yes," I replied, "and a very pretty one it is."

"Ah! she's at her old tricks. You had much better have joined our mess
at once. You're not the first greenhorn that they have plucked. Well,"
said he, as he walked away, "keep the key of your own chest--that's
all."

But as Mr Trotter had warned me that the midshipmen would abuse them, I
paid very little attention to what he said. When he left me I went on
the quarter-deck. All the sailors were busy at work, and the first
lieutenant cried out to the gunner, "Now, Mr Dispart, if you are ready,
we'll breech these guns."

"Now, my lads," said the first lieutenant, "we must slue (the part that
breeches cover) more forward." As I never heard of a gun having
breeches, I was very anxious to see what was going on, and went up close
to the first lieutenant, who said to me, "Youngster, hand me that
_monkey's tail_." I saw nothing like a _monkeys tail_, but I was so
frightened that I snatched up the first thing that I saw, which was a
short bar of iron, and it so happened that it was the very article which
he wanted. When I gave it to him, the first lieutenant looked at me, and
said, "So you know what a monkey's tail is already, do you? Now don't
you ever sham stupid after that."

Thought I to myself, I'm very lucky, but if that's a monkey's tail it's
a very stiff one!

I resolved to learn the names of everything as fast as I could, that I
might be prepared; so I listened attentively to what was said; but I
soon became quite confused, and despaired of remembering anything.

"How is this to be finished off, sir?" inquired a sailor of the
boatswain.

"Why, I beg leave to hint to you, sir, in the most delicate manner in
the world," replied the boatswain, "that it must be with a
_double-wall_--and be d----d to you--don't you know that yet? Captain
of the foretop," said he, "up on your _horses_, and take your _stirrups_
up three inches."--"Ay, ay, sir." (I looked and looked, but I could see
no horses.)

"Mr Chucks," said the first lieutenant to the boatswain, "what blocks
have we below--not on charge?"

"Let me see, sir, I've one _sister_, t'other we split in half the other
day, and I think I have a couple of _monkeys_ down in the store-room.--I
say, you Smith, pass that brace through the _bull's eye,_ and take the
_sheepshank_ out before you come down."

And then he asked the first lieutenant whether something should not be
fitted with a _mouse_ or only a _Turk's head_--told him the _goose-neck_
must be spread out by the armourer as soon as the forge was up. In
short, what with _dead eyes_ and _shrouds, cats_ and _cat-blocks,
dolphins_ and _dolphin-strikers, whips_ and _puddings_, I was so puzzled
with what I heard, that I was about to leave the deck in absolute
despair.

"And, Mr Chucks, recollect this afternoon that you _bleed_ all the
_buoys_."

Bleed the boys, thought I, what can that be for? at all events, the
surgeon appears to be the proper person to perform that operation.

This last incomprehensible remark drove me off the deck, and I retreated
to the cock-pit, where I found Mrs Trotter. "Oh, my dear!" said she, "I
am glad you are come, as I wish to put your clothes in order. Have you a
list of them--where is your key?" I replied that I had not a list, and I
handed her the key, although I did not forget the caution of the
midshipman; yet I considered that there could be no harm in her looking
over my clothes when I was present. She unlocked my chest, and pulled
everything out, and then commenced telling me what were likely to be
useful and what were not.

"Now these worsted stockings," she said, "will be very comfortable in
cold weather, and in the summer time these brown cotton socks will be
delightfully cool, and you have enough of each to last you till you
outgrow them; but as for these fine cotton stockings, they are of no
use--only catch the dirt when the decks are swept, and always look
untidy. I wonder how they could be so foolish as to send them; nobody
wears them on board ship nowadays. They are only fit for women--I wonder
if they would fit me."

She turned her chair away, and put on one of my stockings, laughing the
whole of the time. Then she turned round to me and showed me how nicely
they fitted her. "Bless you, Mr Simple, it's well that Trotter is in the
hold, he'd be so jealous--do you know what these stockings cost? They
are of no use to you, and they fit me. I will speak to Trotter, and take
them off your hands." I replied, that I could not think of selling them,
and as they were of no use to me and fitted her, I begged that she would
accept of the dozen pairs. At first she positively refused, but as I
pressed her, she at last consented, and I was very happy to give them to
her as she was very kind to me, and I thought, with her husband, that
she was a very charming woman.

We had beef-steaks and onions for dinner that day, but I could not bear
the smell of the onions. Mr Trotter came down very cross, because the
first lieutenant had found fault with him. He swore that he would cut
the service--that he had only remained to oblige the captain, who said
that he would sooner part with his right arm, and that he would demand
satisfaction of the first lieutenant as soon as he could obtain his
discharge. Mrs Trotter did all she could to pacify him, reminded him
that he had the protection of Lord this and Sir Thomas that, who would
see him righted; but in vain. The first lieutenant had told him, he
said, that he was not worth his salt, and blood only could wipe away the
insult. He drank glass of grog after glass of grog, and at each glass
became more violent, and Mrs Trotter drank also, I observed, a great
deal more than I thought she ought to have done; but she whispered to
me, that she drank it that Trotter might not, as he would certainly be
tipsy. I thought this very devoted on her part; but they sat so late
that I went to bed and left them--he still drinking and vowing vengeance
against the first lieutenant. I had not been asleep above two or three
hours when I was awakened by a great noise and quarrelling, and I
discovered that Mr Trotter was drunk and beating his wife. Very much
shocked that such a charming woman should be beaten and ill-used, I
scrambled out of my hammock to see if I could be of any assistance, but
it was dark, although they scuffled as much as before. I asked the
marine, who was sentry at the gun-room door above, to bring his lantern,
and was very much shocked at his replying that I had better go to bed
and let them fight it out.

Shortly afterwards Mrs Trotter, who had not taken off her clothes, came
from behind the screen. I perceived at once that the poor woman could
hardly stand; she reeled to my chest, where she sat down and cried. I
pulled on my clothes as fast as I could, and then went up to her to
console her, but she could not speak intelligibly. After attempting in
vain to comfort her, she made me no answer, but staggered to my hammock,
and, after several attempts, succeeded in getting into it. I cannot say
that I much liked that, but what could I do? So I finished dressing
myself, and went up on the quarter-deck.

The midshipman who had the watch was the one who had cautioned me
against the Trotters; he was very friendly to me. "Well, Simple," said
he, "what brings you on deck?" I told him how ill Mr Trotter had behaved
to his wife, and how she had turned into my hammock.

"The cursed drunken old catamaran," cried he; "I'll go and cut her down
by the head;" but I requested he would not, as she was a lady.

"A lady!" replied he; "yes, there's plenty of ladies of her
description;" and then he informed me that she had many years ago been
the mistress of a man of fortune who kept a carriage for her; but that
he grew tired of her, and had given Trotter £200 to marry her, and that
now they did nothing but get drunk together and fight with each other.

I was very much annoyed to hear all this; but as I perceived that Mrs
Trotter was not sober, I began to think that what the midshipman said
was true. "I hope," added he, "that she has not had time to wheedle you
out of any of your clothes."

I told him that I had given her a dozen pairs of stockings, and had paid
Mr Trotter three guineas for my mess. "This must be looked to," replied
he; "I shall speak to the first lieutenant to-morrow. In the mean time,
I shall get your hammock for you. Quarter-master, keep a good look-out."
He then went below, and I followed him, to see what he would do. He went
to my hammock and lowered it down at one end, so that Mrs Trotter lay
with her head on the deck in a very uncomfortable position. To my
astonishment, she swore at him in a dreadful manner, but refused to turn
out. He was abusing her, and shaking her in the hammock, when Mr
Trotter, who had been roused at the noise, rushed from behind the
screen. "You villain! what are you doing with my wife?" cried he,
pommelling at him as well as he could, for he was so tipsy that he could
hardly stand.

I thought the midshipman able to take care of himself, and did not wish
to interfere; so I remained above, looking on--the sentry standing by me
with his lantern over the coombings of the hatchway to give light to the
midshipman, and to witness the fray. Mr Trotter was soon knocked down,
when all of a sudden Mrs Trotter jumped up from the hammock, and caught
the midshipman by the hair, and pulled at him. Then the sentry thought
right to interfere; he called out for the master-at-arms, and went down
himself to help the midshipman, who was faring badly between the two.
But Mrs Trotter snatched the lantern out of his hand and smashed it all
to pieces, and then we were all left in darkness, and I could not see
what took place, although the scuffling continued. Such was the posture
of affairs when the master-at-arms came up with his light. The
midshipman and sentry went up the ladder, and Mr and Mrs Trotter
continued beating each other. To this, none of them paid any attention,
saying, as the sentry had said before, "Let them fight it out."

After they had fought some time, they retired behind the screen, and I
followed the advice of the midshipman, and got into my hammock, which
the master-at-arms hung up again for me. I heard Mr and Mrs Trotter both
crying and kissing each other. "Cruel, cruel, Mr Trotter," said she,
blubbering.

"My life, my love, I was so jealous!" replied he.

"D--n and blast your jealousy," replied the lady; "I've two nice black
eyes for the galley to-morrow." After about an hour of kissing and
scolding, they both fell asleep again.

The next morning before breakfast, the midshipman reported to the first
lieutenant the conduct of Mr Trotter and his wife. I was sent for and
obliged to acknowledge that it was all true. He sent for Mr Trotter, who
replied that he was not well, and could not come on deck. Upon which the
first lieutenant ordered the sergeant of marines to bring him up
directly. Mr Trotter made his appearance, with one eye closed, and his
face very much scratched.

"Did not I desire you, sir," said the first lieutenant, "to introduce
this young gentleman into the midshipmen's berth? instead of which you
have introduced him to that disgraceful wife of yours, and have swindled
him out of his property. I order you immediately to return the three
guineas which you received as mess-money, and also that your wife give
back the stockings which she cajoled him out of."

But then I interposed, and told the first lieutenant that the stockings
had been a free gift on my part and that, although I had been very
foolish, yet that I considered that I could not in honour demand them
back again.

"Well, youngster," replied the first lieutenant, "perhaps your ideas are
correct, and if you wish it, I will not enforce that part of my order;
but," continued he to Mr Trotter, "I desire, sir, that your wife leave
the ship immediately; and I trust that when I have reported your conduct
to the captain, he will serve you in the same manner. In the meantime,
you will consider yourself under an arrest for drunkenness."



Chapter VII

Scandalum magnatum clearly proved--I prove to the captain that I
consider him a gentleman, although I had told him the contrary, and I
prove to the midshipmen that I am a gentleman myself--They prove their
gratitude by practising upon me, because practice makes perfect.


The captain came on board about twelve o'clock, and ordered the
discharge of Mr Trotter to be made out, as soon as the first lieutenant
had reported what had occurred. He then sent for all the midshipmen on
the quarter-deck.

"Gentlemen," said the captain to them, with a stern countenance, "I feel
very much indebted to some of you for the character which you have been
pleased to give of me to Mr Simple. I must now request that you will
answer a few questions which I am about to put in his presence. Did I
ever flog the whole starboard watch because the ship would only sail
nine knots on a bowline?"

"No, sir, no!" replied they all, very much frightened.

"Did I ever give a midshipman four dozen for not having his weekly
accounts pipe-clayed; or another five dozen for wearing a scarlet watch
ribbon?"

"No, sir," replied they all together.

"Did any midshipman ever die on his chest from fatigue?"

They again replied in the negative.

"Then, gentlemen, you will oblige me by stating which of you thought
proper to assert these falsehoods in a public coffee-room; and further,
which of you obliged this youngster to risk his life in a duel?"

They were all silent.

"Will you answer me, gentlemen?"

"With respect to the duel, sir," replied the midshipman who had fought
me, "I _heard_ say, that the pistols were only charged with powder. It
was a joke."

"Well, sir, we'll allow that the duel was only a joke, (and I hope and
trust that your report is correct); is the reputation of your captain
only a joke, allow me to ask? I request to know who of you dared to
propagate such injurious slander?" (Here there was a dead pause.) "Well,
then, gentlemen, since you will not confess yourselves, I must refer to
my authority. Mr Simple, have the goodness to point out the person or
persons who gave you the information."

But I thought this would not be fair; and as they had all treated me
very kindly after the duel, I resolved not to tell; so I answered, "If
you please, sir, I consider that I told you all that in confidence."

"Confidence, sir!" replied the captain; "who ever heard of confidence
between a post-captain and a midshipman?"

"No, sir," replied I, "not between a post-captain and a midshipman, but
between two gentlemen."

The first lieutenant, who stood by the captain, put his hand before his
face to hide a laugh. "He may be a fool, sir," observed he to the
captain, aside; "but I can assure you he is a very straight, forward
one."

The captain bit his lip, and then turning to the midshipmen, said, "You
may thank Mr Simple, gentlemen, that I do not press this matter further.
I do believe that you were not serious when you calumniated me; but
recollect, that what is said in joke is too often repeated in earnest. I
trust that Mr Simple's conduct will have its effect, and that you leave
off practising upon him, who has saved you from a very severe
punishment."

When the midshipmen went down below, they all shook hands with me, and
said that I was a good fellow for not peaching; but, as for the advice
of the captain that they should not practise upon me, as he termed it,
they forgot that, for they commenced again immediately, and never left
off until they found that I was not to be deceived any longer.

I had not been ten minutes in the berth, before they began their remarks
upon me. One said that I looked like a hardy fellow, and asked me
whether I could not bear a great deal of sleep.

I replied that I could, I dare say, if it was necessary for the good of
the service; at which they laughed, and I supposed that I had said a
good thing.

"Why here's Tomkins," said the midshipman; "he'll show you how to
perform that part of your duty. He inherits it from his father, who was
a marine officer. He can snore for fourteen hours on a stretch without
once turning round in his hammock, and finish his nap on the chest
during the whole of the day, except meal-times."

But Tomkins defended himself, by saying, that "some people were very
quick in doing things, and others were very slow; that he was one of the
slow ones, and that he did not in reality obtain more refreshment from
his long naps than other people did in short ones, because he slept much
slower than they did."

This ingenious argument was, however, overruled _nem. con._, as it was
proved that he ate pudding faster than any one in the mess.

The postman came on board with the letters, and put his head into the
midshipman's berth. I was very anxious to have one from home, but I was
disappointed. Some had letters and some had not. Those who had not,
declared that their parents were very undutiful, and that they would cut
them off with a shilling; and those who had letters, after they had read
them, offered them for sale to the others, usually at half-price. I
could not imagine why they sold, or why the others bought them; but they
did do so; and one that was full of good advice was sold three times,
from which circumstance I was inclined to form a better opinion of the
morals of my companions. The lowest-priced letters sold, were those
written by sisters. I was offered one for a penny, but I declined
buying, as I had plenty of sisters of my own. Directly I made that
observation, they immediately inquired all their names and ages, and
whether they were pretty or not. When I had informed them, they
quarrelled to whom they should belong. One would have Lucy, and another
took Mary; but there was a great dispute about Ellen, as I had said that
she was the prettiest of the whole. At last they agreed to put her up to
auction, and she was knocked down to a master's mate of the name of
O'Brien, who bid seventeen shillings and a bottle of rum. They requested
that I would write home to give their love to my sisters, and tell them
how they had been disposed of, which I thought very strange; but I ought
to have been flattered at the price bid for Ellen, as I repeatedly have
since been witness to a very pretty sister being sold for a glass of
grog.

I mentioned the reason why I was so anxious for a letter, viz., because
I wanted to buy my dirk and cocked hat; upon which they told me that
there was no occasion for my spending my money, as, by the regulations
of the service, the purser's steward served them out to all the officers
who applied for them. As I knew where the purser's steward's room was,
having seen it when down in the cock-pit with the Trotters, I went down
immediately. "Mr Purser's Steward," said I, "let me have a cocked hat
and a dirk immediately."

"Very good, sir," replied he, and he wrote an order upon a slip of
paper, which he handed to me. "There is the order for it, sir; but the
cocked hats are kept in the chest up in the main-top; and as for the
dirk, you must apply to the butcher, who has them under his charge."

I went up with the order, and thought I would first apply for the dirk;
so I inquired for the butcher, whom I found sitting in the sheep-pen
with the sheep, mending his trousers. In reply to my demand, he told me
that he had not the key of the store-room, which was under the charge of
one of the corporals of marines.

I inquired who, and he said, "Cheeks [1] the marine."

I went everywhere about the ship, inquiring for Cheeks the marine, but
could not find him. Some said that they believed he was in the fore-top,
standing sentry over the wind, that it might not change; others, that he
was in the galley, to prevent the midshipmen from soaking their biscuit
in the captain's dripping-pan. At last, I inquired of some of the women
who were standing between the guns on the main-deck, and one of them
answered that it was no use looking for him among them, as they all had
husbands, and Cheeks was a _widows man._[2]

As I could not find the marine, I thought I might as well go for my
cocked hat, and get my dirk afterwards. I did not much like going up the
rigging, because I was afraid of turning giddy, and if I fell overboard
I could not swim; but one of the midshipmen offered to accompany me,
stating that I need not be afraid, if I fell overboard, of sinking to
the bottom, as if I was giddy, my head, at all events, _would swim_; so
I determined to venture. I climbed up very near to the main-top, but not
without missing the little ropes very often, and grazing the skin of my
shins. Then I came to large ropes stretched out from the mast, so that
you must climb them with your head backwards. The midshipman told me
these were called the cat-harpings, because they were so difficult to
climb, that a cat would expostulate if ordered to go out by them. I was
afraid to venture, and then he proposed that I should go through
lubber's hole, which he said had been made for people like me. I agreed
to attempt it, as it appeared more easy, and at last arrived, quite out
of breath, and very happy to find myself in the main-top.

The captain of the main-top was there with two other sailors. The
midshipman introduced me very politely:--"Mr Jenkins--Mr Simple,
midshipman,--Mr Simple, Mr Jenkins, captain of the main-top. Mr Jenkins,
Mr Simple has come up with an order for a cocked hat." The captain of
the top replied that he was very sorry that he had not one in store, but
the last had been served out to the captain's monkey. This was very
provoking. The captain of the top then asked me if I was ready with my
_footing_.

I replied, "Not very, for I had lost it two or three times when coming
up." He laughed and replied, that I should lose it altogether before I
went down; and that I must _hand_ it out. "_Hand_ out my _footing_!"
said I, puzzled, and appealing to the midshipman; "what does he mean?"
"He means that you must fork out a seven-shilling bit." I was just as
wise as ever, and stared very much; when Mr Jenkins desired the other
men to get half a dozen _foxes_ and make a _spread eagle_ of me, unless
he had his parkisite. I never should have found out what it all meant,
had not the midshipman, who laughed till he cried, at last informed me
that it was the custom to give the men something to drink the first time
that I came aloft, and that if I did not, they would tie me up to the
rigging.

Having no money in my pocket, I promised to pay them as soon as I went
below; but Mr Jenkins would not trust me. I then became very angry, and
inquired of him "if he doubted my honour." He replied, "Not in the
least, but that he must have the seven shillings before I went below."
"Why, sir," said I, "do you know whom you are speaking to? I am an
officer and a gentleman. Do you know who my grandfather is?"

"O yes," replied he, "very well."

"Then, who is he, sir?" replied I very angrily.

"Who is he! why he's the _Lord knows who_."

"No," replied I, "that's not his name; he is Lord Privilege." (I was
very much surprised that he knew that my grandfather was a lord.) "And
do you suppose," continued I, "that I would forfeit the honour of my
family for a paltry seven shillings?"

This observation of mine, and a promise on the part of the midshipman,
who said he would be bail for me, satisfied Mr Jenkins, and he allowed
me to go down the rigging. I went to my chest, and paid the seven
shillings to one of the top-men who followed me, and then went up on the
main-deck, to learn as much as I could of my profession. I asked a great
many questions of the midshipmen relative to the guns, and they crowded
round me to answer them. One told me they were called the frigate's
_teeth_, because they stopped the Frenchman's _jaw._ Another midshipman
said that he had been so often in action, that he was called the
_Fire-eater_. I asked him how it was that he escaped being killed. He
replied that he always made it a rule, upon the first cannon-ball coming
through the ship's side, to put his head into the hole which it had
made; as, by a calculation made by Professor Innman, the odds were
32,647, and some decimals to boot, that another ball would not come in
at the same hole. That's what I never should have thought of.

FOOTNOTES:
[1] This celebrated personage is the prototype of Mr Nobody on board of
a man-of-war.

[B] Widows' men are imaginary sailors, borne on the books, and receiving
pay and prize-money, which is appropriated to Greenwich Hospital.



Chapter VIII

My messmates show me the folly of running in debt--Duty carried on
politely--I become acquainted with some gentlemen of the home
department--The episode of Sholto M'Foy.


Now that I have been on board about a month, I find that my life is not
disagreeable. I don't smell the pitch and tar, and I can get into my
hammock without tumbling out on the other side. My messmates are
good-tempered, although they laugh at me very much; but I must say that
they are not very nice in their ideas of honour They appear to consider
that to take you in is a capital joke; and that because they laugh at
the time that they are cheating you, it then becomes no cheating at all.
Now I cannot think otherwise than that cheating is cheating, and that a
person is not a bit more honest, because he laughs at you in the
bargain. A few days after I came on board, I purchased some tarts of the
bumboat woman, as she is called; I wished to pay for them, but she had
no change, and very civilly told me she would trust me. She produced a
narrow book, and said that she would open an account with me, and I
could pay her when I thought proper. To this arrangement I had no
objection, and I sent up for different things until I thought that my
account must have amounted to eleven or twelve shillings. As I promised
my father that I never would run in debt, I considered that it was then
time that it should be settled. When I asked for it, what was my
surprise to find that it amounted to £2 14s. 6d. I declared that it was
impossible, and requested that she would allow me to look at the items,
when I found that I was booked for at least three or four dozen tarts
every day, ordered by the young gentlemen, "to be put down to Mr
Simple's account." I was very much shocked, not only at the sum of money
which I had to pay, but also at the want of honesty on the part of my
messmates; but when I complained of it in the berth, they all laughed at
me.

At last one of them said, "Peter, tell the truth; did not your father
caution you not to run in debt?"

"Yes, he did," replied I.

"I know that very well," replied he; "all fathers do the same when their
sons leave them; it's a matter of course. Now observe, Peter; it is out
of regard to you, that your messmates have been eating tarts at your
expense You disobeyed your father's injunctions before you had been a
month from home; and it is to give you a lesson that may be useful in
after-life, that they have considered it their duty to order the tarts.
I trust that it will not be thrown away upon you. Go to the woman, pay
your bill, and never run up another."

"That I certainly shall not," replied I; but as I could not prove who
ordered the tarts, and did not think it fair that the woman should lose
her money, I went up and paid the bill with a determination never to
open an account with anybody again.

But this left my pockets quite empty, so I wrote to my father, stating
the whole transaction, and the consequent state of my finances. My
father, in his answer, observed that whatever might have been their
motives, my messmates had done me a friendly act; and that as I had lost
my money by my own carelessness, I must not expect that he would allow
me any more pocket-money. But my mother, who added a postscript to his
letter, slipped in a five-pound note, and I do believe that it was with
my father's sanction, although he pretended to be very angry at my
forgetting his injunctions. This timely relief made me quite comfortable
again. What a pleasure it is to receive a letter from one's friends when
far away, especially when there is same money in it!

A few days before this, Mr Falcon, the first lieutenant, ordered me to
put on my side-arms to go away on duty. I replied that I had neither
dirk nor cocked hat, although I had applied for them. He laughed at my
story, and sent me on shore with the master, who bought them, and the
first lieutenant sent up the bill to my father, who paid it, and wrote
to thank him for his trouble. That morning, the first lieutenant said to
me, "Now, Mr Simple, we'll take the shine off that cocked hat and dirk
of yours. You will go in the boat with Mr O'Brien, and take care that
none of the men slip away from it, and get drunk at the tap."

This was the first time that I had ever been sent away on duty, and I
was very proud of being an officer in charge. I put on my full uniform,
and was ready at the gangway a quarter of an hour before the men were
piped away. We were ordered to the dockyard to draw sea stores. When we
arrived there, I was quite astonished at the piles of timber, the ranges
of storehouses, and the immense anchors which lay on the wharf. There
was such a bustle, every body appeared to be so busy, that I wanted to
look every way at once. Close to where the boat landed, they were
hauling a large frigate out of what they called the basin; and I was so
interested with the sight, that I am sorry to say I quite forgot all
about the boat's crew, and my orders to look after them. What surprised
me most was, that although the men employed appeared to be sailors,
their language was very different from what I had been lately accustomed
to on board of the frigate. Instead of damning and swearing, everybody
was so polite. "Oblige me with a pull of the starboard bow hawser, Mr
Jones."--"Ease off the larboard hawser, Mr Jenkins, if you please."--
"Side her over, gentlemen, side her over."--"My compliments to Mr
Tompkins, and request that he will cast off the quarter-check."--"Side
her over, gentlemen, side her over, if you please."--"In the boat there,
pull to Mr Simmons, and beg he'll do me the favour to check her as she
swings. What's the matter, Mr Johnson?"--"Vy, there's one of them ere
midshipmites has thrown a red hot tater out of the stern-port, and hit
our officer in the eye."--"Report him to the commissioner, Mr Wiggins;
and oblige me by under-running the guess-warp. Tell Mr Simkins, with my
compliments, to coil away upon the jetty. Side her over, side her over,
gentlemen, if you please."

I asked of a bystander who these people were, and he told me that they
were dockyard mateys. I certainly thought that it appeared to be quite
as easy to say "If you please," as "D----n your eyes," and that it
sounded much more agreeable.

During the time that I was looking at the frigate being hauled out, two
of the men belonging to the boat slipped away, and on my return they
were not to be seen. I was very much frightened, for I knew that I had
neglected my duty, and that on the first occasion on which I had been
intrusted with a responsible service. What to do I did not know I ran up
and down every part of the dockyard until I was quite out of breath,
asking everybody I met whether they had seen my two men. Many of them
said that they had seen plenty of men, but did not exactly know mine;
some laughed, and called me a greenhorn. At last I met a midshipman, who
told me that he had seen two men answering to my description on the roof
of the coach starting for London, and that I must be quick if I wished
to catch them; but he would not stop to answer any more questions. I
continued walking about the yard until I met twenty or thirty men with
grey jackets and breeches, to whom I applied for information: they told
me that they had seen two sailors skulking behind the piles of timber.
They crowded round me, and appeared very anxious to assist me, when they
were summoned away to carry down a cable. I observed that they all had
numbers on their jackets, and either one or two bright iron rings on
their legs. I could not help inquiring, although I was in such a hurry,
why the rings were worn. One of them replied that they were orders of
merit, given to them for their good behaviour.

I was proceeding on very disconsolately, when, as I turned a corner, to
my great delight, I met my two men, who touched their hats and said that
they had been looking for me. I did not believe that they told the
truth, but I was so glad to recover them that I did not scold, but went
with them down to the boat, which had been waiting some time for us.
O'Brien, the master's mate, called me a young sculping,[1] a word I
never heard before. When we arrived on board, the first lieutenant asked
O'Brien why he had remained so long. He answered that two of the men had
left the boat, but that I had found them. The first lieutenant appeared
to be pleased with me, observing, as he had said before, that I was no
fool, and I went down below, overjoyed at my good fortune, and very much
obliged to O'Brien for not telling the whole truth. After I had taken
off my dirk and cocked hat, I felt for my pocket-handkerchief, and found
that it was not in my pocket, having in all probability been taken out
by the men in grey jackets, whom, in conversation with my messmates, I
discovered to be convicts condemned to hard labour for stealing and
picking pockets.

A day or two afterwards, we had a new messmate of the name of M'Foy. I
was on the quarter-deck when he came on board and presented a letter to
the captain, inquiring first if his name was "Captain Sauvage." He was a
florid young man, nearly six feet high, with sandy hair, yet very
good-looking. As his career in the service was very short, I will tell
at once, what I did not find out till some time afterwards. The captain
had agreed to receive him to oblige a brother officer, who had retired
from the service, and lived in the Highlands of Scotland. The first
notice which the captain had of the arrival of Mr M'Foy, was from a
letter written to him by the young man's uncle. This amused him so much,
that he gave it to the first lieutenant to read: it ran as follows:--

  "Glasgow, April 25, 1---

  "Sir,--Our much esteemed and mutual friend, Captain M'Alpine, having
  communicated by letter, dated the 14th inst., your kind intentions
  relative to my nephew Sholto M'Foy, (for which you will be pleased to
  accept my best thanks), I write to acquaint you that he is now on his
  way to join your ship, the _Diomede_, and will arrive, God
  willing, twenty-six hours after the receipt of this letter.

  "As I have been given to understand by those who have some
  acquaintance with the service of the king, that his equipment as an
  officer will be somewhat expensive, I have considered it but fair to
  ease your mind as to any responsibility on that score, and have
  therefore enclosed the half of a Bank of England note for ten pounds
  sterling, No. 3742, the other half of which will be duly forwarded in
  a frank promised to me the day after to-morrow. I beg you will make
  the necessary purchases, and apply the balance, should there be any,
  to his mess account, or any other expenses which you may consider
  warrantable or justifiable.

  "It is at the same time proper to inform you, that Sholto had ten
  shillings in his pocket at the time of his leaving Glasgow; the
  satisfactory expenditure of which I have no doubt you will inquire
  into, as it is a large sum to be placed at the discretion of a youth
  only fourteen years and five months old. I mention his age, as Sholto
  is so tall that you might be deceived by his appearance, and be
  induced to trust to his prudence in affairs of this serious nature.
  Should he at any time require further assistance beyond his pay, which
  I am told is extremely handsome to all king's officers, I beg you to
  consider that any draught of yours, at ten days' sight, to the amount
  of five pounds sterling English, will be duly honoured by the firm of
  Monteith, M'Killop, and Company, of Glasgow. Sir, with many thanks for
  your kindness and consideration,

  "I remain, your most obedient,

  "WALTER MONTEITH."

The letter brought on board by M'Foy was to prove his identity. While
the captain read it, M'Foy stared about him like a wild stag. The
captain welcomed him to the ship, asked him one or two questions,
introduced him to the first lieutenant, and then went on shore. The
first lieutenant had asked me to dine in the gun-room; I supposed that
he was pleased with me because I had found the men; and when the captain
pulled on shore, he also invited Mr M'Foy, when the following
conversation took place.

"Well, Mr M'Foy, you have had a long journey; I presume it is the first
that you have ever made."

"Indeed it is, sir," replied M'Foy; "and sorely I've been pestered. Had
I minded all they whispered in my lug as I came along, I had need been
made of money--sax-pence here, sax-pence there, sax-pence every where.
Sich extortion I ne'er dreamt of."

"How did you come from Glasgow?"

"By the wheelboat, or steamboat, as they ca'd it, to Lunnon: where they
charged me sax-pence for taking my baggage on shore--a wee boxy nae
bigger than yon cocked-up hat. I would fain carry it mysel', but they
wadna let me."

"Well, where did you go to when you arrived in London?"

"I went to a place ca'd Chichester Rents, to the house of Storm and
Mainwaring, Warehousemen, and they must have another sax-pence for
showing me the way. There I waited half-an-hour in the counting-house,
till they took me to a place ca'd Bull and Mouth, and put me into a
coach, paying my whole fare: nevertheless they must din me for money the
whole of the way down. There was first the guard, and then the coachman,
and another guard, and another coachman; but I wudna listen to them, and
so they growled and abused me."

"And when did you arrive?"

"I came here last night; and I only had a bed and a breakfast at the twa
Blue Pillars' house, for which they extortioned me three shillings and
sax-pence, as I sit here. And then there was the chambermaid hussy and
waiter loon axed me to remember them, and wanted more siller; but I told
them as I told the guard and coachman, that I had none for them."

"How much of your ten shillings have you left?" inquired the first
lieutenant, smiling.

"Hoot, sir lieutenant, how came you for to ken that? Eh! it's my uncle
Monteith at Glasgow. Why, as I sit here, I've but three shillings and a
penny of it lift. But there's a smell here that's no canny; so I'll just
go up again into the fresh air."

When Mr M'Foy quitted the gun-room they all laughed very much. After he
had been a short time on deck he went down into the midshipmen's berth;
but he made himself very unpleasant, quarrelling and wrangling with
everybody. It did not, however, last very long; for he would not obey
any orders that were given to him. On the third day, he quitted the ship
without asking the permission of the first lieutenant; when he returned
on board the following day, the first lieutenant put him under an
arrest, and in charge of the sentry at the cabin door. During the
afternoon I was under the half-deck, and perceived that he was
sharpening a long clasp-knife upon the after-truck of the gun. I went up
to him, and asked him why he was doing so, and he replied, as his eyes
flashed fire, that it was to revenge the insult offered to the bluid of
M'Foy. His look told me that he was in earnest. "But what do you mean?"
inquired I. "I mean," said he, drawing the edge and feeling the point of
his weapon, "to put it into the weam of that man with the gold podge on
his shoulder, who has dared to place me here."

I was very much alarmed, and thought it my duty to state his murderous
intentions, or worse might happen; so I walked up on deck and told the
first lieutenant what M'Foy was intending to do, and how his life was in
danger. Mr Falcon laughed, and shortly afterwards went down on the
main-deck. M'Foy's eyes glistened, and he walked forward to where the
first lieutenant was standing; but the sentry, who had been cautioned by
me, kept him back with his bayonet. The first lieutenant turned round,
and perceiving what was going on, desired the sentry to see if Mr M'Foy
had a knife in his hand; and he had it sure enough, open, and held
behind his back. He was disarmed, and the first lieutenant, perceiving
that the lad meant mischief, reported his conduct to the captain, on his
arrival on board. The captain sent for M'Foy, who was very obstinate,
and when taxed with his intention would not deny it, or even say that he
would not again attempt it; so he was sent on shore immediately, and
returned to his friends in the Highlands. We never saw any more of him;
but I heard that he obtained a commission in the army, and three months
after he had joined his regiment, was killed in a duel, resenting some
fancied affront offered to the bluid of M'Foy.

[Footnote 1: Peter's memory is short, p. 9.--ED.]



Chapter IX

We post up to Portsdown Fair--Consequence of disturbing a lady at supper
--Natural affection of the pelican, proved at my expense--Spontaneous
combustion at Ranelagh Gardens--Pastry _versus_ Piety--Many are bid to
the feast; but not the halt, the lame, or the blind.


A few days after M'Foy quitted the ship, we all had leave from the first
lieutenant to go to Portsdown fair, but he would only allow the oldsters
to sleep on shore. We anticipated so much pleasure from our excursion,
that some of us were up early enough to go away in the boat sent for
fresh beef. This was very foolish. There were no carriages to take us to
the fair, nor indeed any fair so early in the morning; the shops were
all shut, and the Blue Posts, where we always rendezvoused, was hardly
opened. We waited there in the coffee-room, until we were driven out by
the maid sweeping away the dirt, and were forced to walk about until she
had finished, and lighted the fire, when we ordered our breakfast; but
how much better would it have been to have taken our breakfast
comfortably on board, and then to have come on shore, especially as we
had no money to spare. Next to being too late, being too soon is the
worst plan in the world. However, we had our breakfast, and paid the
bill; then we sallied forth, and went up George-street, where we found
all sorts of vehicles ready to take us to the fair. We got into one
which they called a dilly. I asked the man who drove it why it was so
called, and he replied, because he only charged a shilling. O'Brien, who
had joined us after breakfasting on board, said that this answer
reminded him of one given to him by a man who attended the hackney-coach
stands in London. "Pray," said he, "why are you called Waterman?"
"Waterman," replied the man, "vy, sir, 'cause we opens the hackney-coach
doors." At last, with plenty of whipping, and plenty of swearing, and a
great deal of laughing, the old horse, whose back curved upwards like a
bow, from the difficulty of dragging so many, arrived at the bottom of
Portsdown hill, where we got out, and walked up to the fair. It really
was a most beautiful sight. The bright blue sky, and the coloured flags
flapping about in all directions, the grass so green, and the white
tents and booths, the sun shining so bright, and the shining gilt
gingerbread, the variety of toys and the variety of noise, the quantity
of people and the quantity of sweetmeats; little boys so happy, and
shop-people so polite, the music at the booths, and the bustle and
eagerness of the people outside, made my heart quite jump. There was
Richardson, with a clown and harlequin, and such beautiful women,
dressed in clothes all over gold spangles, dancing reels and waltzes,
and looking so happy! There was Flint and Gyngell, with fellows tumbling
over head and heels, playing such tricks--eating fire, and drawing yards
of tape out of their mouths. Then there was the Royal Circus, all the
horses standing in a line, with men and women standing on their backs,
waving flags, while the trumpeters blew their trumpets. And the largest
giant in the world, and Mr Paap, the smallest dwarf in the world, and a
female dwarf, who was smaller still, and Miss Biffin, who did everything
without legs or arms. There was also the learned pig, and the
Herefordshire ox, and a hundred other sights which I cannot now
remember. We walked about for an hour or two seeing the outside of every
thing: we determined to go and see the inside. First we went into
Richardson's, where we saw a bloody tragedy, with a ghost and thunder,
and afterwards a pantomime, full of tricks, and tumbling over one
another. Then we saw one or two other things, I forget what; but this I
know, that, generally speaking, the outside was better, than the inside.
After this, feeling very hungry, we agreed to go into a booth and have
something to eat. The tables were ranged all round, and in the centre
there was a boarded platform for dancing. The ladies were there all
ready dressed for partners; and the music was so lively, that I felt
very much inclined to dance, but we had agreed to go and see the wild
beasts fed at Mr Polito's menagerie, and as it was now almost eight
o'clock, we paid our bill and set off. It was a very curious sight, and
better worth seeing than any thing in the fair; I never had an idea that
there were so many strange animals in existence. They were all secured
in iron cages, and a large chandelier with twenty lights, hung in the
centre of the booth, and lighted them up, while the keeper went round
and stirred them up with his long pole; at the same time he gave us
their histories, which were very interesting. I recollect a few of them.
There was the tapir, a great pig with a long nose, a variety of the
hiptostamass, which the keeper said was an amphibilious animal, as
couldn't live on land, and _dies_ in the water--however, it seemed to
live very well in a cage. Then there was the kangaroo with its young
ones peeping out of it--a most astonishing animal. The keeper said that
it brought forth two young ones at a birth, and then took them into its
stomach again, until they arrived at years of discretion. Then there was
the pelican of the wilderness, (I shall not forget him), with a large
bag under his throat, which the man put on his head as a night-cap: this
bird feeds its young with its own blood--when fish are scarce. And there
was the laughing hyæna, who cries in the wood like a human being in
distress, and devours those who come to his assistance--a sad instance
of the depravity of human nature, as the keeper observed. There was a
beautiful creature, the royal Bengal tiger, only three years old, what
growed ten inches every year, and never arrived at its full growth. The
one we saw, measured, as the keeper told us, sixteen feet from the snout
to the tail, and seventeen from the tail to the snout: but there must
have been some mistake there. There was a young elephant and three
lions, and several other animals which I forget now, so I shall go on to
describe the tragical scene which occurred. The keeper had poked up all
the animals, and had commenced feeding them. The great lion was growling
and snarling over the shin-bone of an ox, cracking it like a nut, when,
by some mismanagement, one end of the pole upon which the chandelier was
suspended fell down, striking the door of the cage in which the lioness
was at supper, and bursting it open. It was all done in a second; the
chandelier fell, the cage opened, and the lioness sprang out. I remember
to this moment seeing the body of the lioness in the air, and then all
was dark as pitch. What a change! not a moment before all of us staring
with delight and curiosity, and then to be left in darkness, horror, and
dismay! There was such screaming and shrieking, such crying, and
fighting, and pushing, and fainting, nobody knew where to go, or how to
find their way out. The people crowded first on one side, and then on
the other, as their fears instigated them. I was very soon jammed up
with my back against the bars of one of the cages, and feeling some
beast lay hold of me behind, made a desperate effort, and succeeded in
climbing up to the cage above, not however without losing the seat of my
trowsers, which the laughing hyæna would not let go. I hardly knew where
I was when I climbed up; but I knew the birds were mostly stationed
above. However, that I might not have the front of my trowsers torn as
well as the behind, as soon as I gained my footing I turned round, with
my back to the bars of the cage, but I had not been there a minute
before I was attacked by something which digged into me like a pickaxe,
and as the hyæna had torn my clothes, I had no defence against it. To
turn round would have been worse still; so, after having received above
a dozen stabs, I contrived by degrees to shift my position until I was
opposite to another cage, but not until the pelican, for it was that
brute, had drawn as much blood from me as would have fed his young for a
week. I was surmising what danger I should next encounter, when to my
joy I discovered that I had gained the open door from which the lioness
had escaped. I crawled in, and pulled the door to after me, thinking
myself very fortunate: and there I sat very quietly in a corner during
the remainder of the noise and confusion. I had been there but a few
minutes, when the beef-eaters, as they were called, who played the music
outside, came in with torches and loaded muskets. The sight which
presented itself was truly shocking, twenty or thirty men, women, and
children, lay on the ground, and I thought at first the lioness had
killed them all, but they were only in fits, or had been trampled down
by the crowd. No one was seriously hurt. As for the lioness, she was not
to be found: and as soon as it was ascertained that she had escaped,
there was as much terror and scampering away outside as there had been
in the menagerie. It appeared afterwards, that the animal had been as
much frightened as we had been, and had secreted herself under one of
the waggons. It was some time before she could be found. At last
O'Brien, who was a very brave fellow, went a-head of the beef-eaters,
and saw her eyes glaring. They borrowed a net or two from the carts
which had brought calves to the fair, and threw them over her. When she
was fairly entangled, they dragged her by the tail into the menagerie.
All this while I had remained very quietly in the den, but when I
perceived that its lawful owner had come back to retake possession, I
thought it was time to come out; so I called to my messmates, who, with
O'Brien were assisting the beef-eaters. They had not discovered me, and
laughed very much when they saw where I was. One of the midshipmen shot
the bolt of the door, so that I could not jump out, and then stirred me
up with a long pole. At last I contrived to unbolt it again, and got
out, when they laughed still more, at the seat of my trowsers being torn
off. It was not exactly a laughing matter to me, although I had to
congratulate myself upon a very lucky escape; and so did my messmates
think, when I narrated my adventures. The pelican was the worst part of
the business. O'Brien lent me a dark silk handkerchief, which I tied
round my waist, and let drop behind, so that my misfortunes might not
attract any notice, and then we quitted the menagerie; but I was so
stiff that I could scarcely walk.

We then went to what they called the Ranelagh Gardens, to see the
fireworks, which were to be let off at ten o'clock. It was exactly ten
when we paid for our admission, and we waited very patiently for a
quarter of an hour, but there were no signs of the fireworks being
displayed. The fact was, that the man to whom the gardens belonged
waited until more company should arrive, although the place was already
very full of people. Now the first lieutenant had ordered the boat to
wait for us until twelve o'clock, and then return on board; and, as we
were seven miles from Portsmouth, we had not much time to spare. We
waited another quarter of an hour, and then it was agreed that as the
fireworks were stated in the handbill to commence precisely at ten
o'clock, we were fully justified in letting them off ourselves. O'Brien
went out, and returned with a dozen penny rattans, which he notched in
the end. The fireworks were on the posts and stages, all ready, and it
was agreed that we should light them all at once, and then mix with the
crowd. The oldsters lighted cigars, and fixing them in the notched end
of the canes, continued to puff them until they were all well lighted.
They handed one to each of us, and at a signal we all applied them to
the match papers, and as soon as the fire communicated we threw down our
canes and ran in among the crowd. In about half a minute, off they all
went, in a most beautiful confusion; there were silver stars and golden
stars, blue lights and Catherine-wheels, mines and bombs, Grecian-fires
and Roman-candles, Chinese-trees, rockets and illuminated mottoes, all
firing away, cracking, popping, and fizzing, at the same time. It was
unanimously agreed that it was a great improvement upon the intended
show. The man to whom the gardens belonged ran out of a booth, where he
had been drinking beer at his ease, while his company were waiting,
swearing vengeance against the perpetrators; indeed, the next day he
offered fifty pounds reward for the discovery of the offenders. But I
think that he was treated very properly. He was, in his situation, a
servant of the public, and he had behaved as if he was their master. We
all escaped very cleverly, and taking another dilly, arrived at
Portsmouth, and were down to the boat in good time. The next day I was
so stiff and in such pain, that I was obliged to go to the doctor, who
put me on the list, where I remained a week before I could return to my
duty. So much for Portsdown fair.

It was on a Saturday that I returned to my duty, and Sunday being a fine
day, we all went on shore to church with Mr Falcon, the first
lieutenant. We liked going to church very much, not, I am sorry to say,
from religious feelings, but for the following reason:--The first
lieutenant sat in a pew below, and we were placed in the gallery above,
where he could not see us, nor indeed could we see him. We all remained
very quiet, and I may say very devout, during the time of the service;
but the clergyman who delivered the sermon was so tedious, and had such
a bad voice, that we generally slipped out as soon as he went up into
the pulpit, and adjourned to a pastry-cook's opposite, to eat cakes and
tarts and drink cherry-brandy, which we infinitely preferred to hearing
a sermon. Somehow or other, the first lieutenant had scent of our
proceedings: we believed that the marine officer informed against us,
and this Sunday he served us a pretty trick. We had been at the
pastry-cook's as usual, and as soon as we perceived the people coming
out of church, we put all our tarts and sweetmeats into our hats, which
we then slipped on our heads, and took our station at the church-door,
as if we had just come down from the gallery, and had been waiting for
him. Instead, however, of appearing at the church-door, he walked up the
street, and desired us to follow him to the boat. The fact was, he had
been in the back-room at the pastry-cook's watching our motions through
the green blinds. We had no suspicion, but thought that he had come out
of church a little sooner than usual. When we arrived on board and
followed him up the side, he said to us as we came on deck,--"Walk aft,
young gentlemen." We did; and he desired us to "toe a line," which means
to stand in a row. "Now, Mr Dixon," said he, "what was the text to-day?"
As he very often asked us that question, we always left one in the
church until the text was given out, who brought it to us in the
pastry-cook's shop, when we all marked it in our Bibles, to be ready if
he asked us. Dixon immediately pulled out his Bible where he had marked
down the leaf, and read it. "O! that was it," said Mr Falcon; "you must
have remarkably good ears, Mr Dixon, to have heard the clergyman from
the pastry-cook's shop. Now, gentlemen, hats off, if you please." We all
slided off our hats, which, as he expected, were full of pastry.
"Really, gentlemen," said he, feeling the different papers of pastry and
sweetmeats, "I am quite delighted to perceive that you have not been to
church for nothing. Few come away with so many good things pressed upon
their seat of memory. Master-at-arms, send all the ship's boys aft."

The boys all came tumbling up the ladders, and the first lieutenant
desired each of them to take a seat upon the carronade slides. When they
were all stationed, he ordered us to go round with our hats, and request
of each his acceptance of a tart, which we were obliged to do, handing
first to one and then to another, until the hats were all empty. What
annoyed me more than all, was the grinning of the boys at their being
served by us like foot-men, as well as the ridicule and laughter of the
whole ship's company, who had assembled at the gangways.

When all the pastry was devoured, the first lieutenant said,

"There, gentlemen, now that you have had your lesson for the day, you
may go below." We could not help laughing ourselves, when we went down
into the berth; Mr Falcon always punished us good-humouredly, and, in
some way or other, his punishments were severally connected with the
description of the offence. He always had a remedy for every thing that
he disapproved of, and the ship's company used to call him "Remedy
Jack." I ought to observe that some of my messmates were very severe
upon the ship's boys after that circumstance, always giving them a kick
or a cuff on the head whenever they could, telling them at the same
time, "There's another tart for you, you whelp." I believe, if the boys
had known what was in reserve for them, they would much rather have left
the pastry alone.



Chapter X

A pressgang; beaten off by one woman--Dangers at Spithead and Point--A
treat for both parties, of _pulled chicken_, at my expense--Also gin
for twenty--I am made a prisoner: escape and rejoin my ship.


I must now relate what occurred to me a few days before the ship sailed,
which will prove that it is not necessary to encounter the winds and
waves, or the cannon of the enemy, to be in danger, when you have
entered his Majesty's service: on the contrary, I have been in action
since, and I declare, without hesitation, that I did not feel so much
alarm on that occasion, as I did on the one of which I am about to give
the history. We were reported ready for sea, and the Admiralty was
anxious that we should proceed. The only obstacle to our sailing was,
that we had not yet completed our complement of men. The captain applied
to the port-admiral, and obtained permission to send parties on shore to
impress seamen. The second and third lieutenants, and the oldest
midshipman, were despatched on shore every night, with some of the most
trustworthy men, and generally brought on board in the morning about
half a dozen men, whom they had picked up in the different alehouses, or
grog-shops, as the sailors call them. Some of them were retained, but
most of them sent on shore as unserviceable; for it is the custom, when
a man either enters or is impressed, to send him down to the surgeon in
the cockpit, where he is stripped and examined all over, to see if he be
sound and fit for his majesty's service; and if not, he is sent on shore
again. Impressing appeared to be rather serious work, as far as I could
judge from the accounts which I heard, and from the way in which our
sailors, who were employed on the service, were occasionally beaten and
wounded; the seamen who were impressed appearing to fight as hard not to
be forced into the service, as they did for the honour of the country,
after they were fairly embarked in it. I had a great wish to be one of
the party before the ship sailed, and asked O'Brien, who was very kind
to me in general, and allowed nobody to thrash me but himself, if he
would take me with him, which he did on the night after I had made the
request. I put on my dirk, that they might know I was an officer, as
well as for my protection. About dusk we rowed on shore, and landed on
the Gosport side: the men were all armed with cutlasses, and wore pea
jackets, which are very short great-coats made of what they call
Flushing. We did not stop to look at any of the grog-shops in the town,
as it was too early, but walked out about three miles in the suburbs,
and went to a house, the door of which was locked, but we forced it open
in a minute, and hastened to enter the passage, where we found the
landlady standing to defend the entrance. The passage was long and
narrow, and she was a very tall corpulent woman, so that her body nearly
filled it up, and in her hands she held a long spit pointed at us, with
which she kept us at bay. The officers, who were the foremost, did not
like to attack a woman, and she made such drives at them with her spit,
that had they not retreated, some of them would soon have been ready for
roasting. The sailors laughed and stood outside, leaving the officers to
settle the business how they could. At last, the landlady called out to
her husband, "Be they all out, Jem?" "Yes," replied the husband, "they
be all safe gone." "Well, then," replied she, "I'll soon have all these
gone too;" and with these words she made such a rush forward upon us
with her spit, that had we not fallen back and tumbled one over another,
she certainly would have run it through the second lieutenant, who
commanded the party. The passage was cleared in an instant, and as soon
as we were all in the street she bolted us out: so there we were, three
officers and fifteen armed men, fairly beat off by a fat old woman; the
sailors who had been drinking in the house having made their escape to
some other place. But I do not well see how it could be otherwise;
either we must have killed or wounded the woman, or she would have run
us through, she was so resolute. Had her husband been in the passage, he
would have been settled in a very short time; but what can you do with a
woman who fights like a devil, and yet claims all the rights and
immunities of the softer sex? We all walked away, looking very foolish;
and O'Brien observed that the next time he called at that house he would
weather the old cat, for he would take her ladyship in the rear.

We then called at other houses, where we picked up one or two men, but
most of them escaped, by getting out at the windows or the back doors,
as we entered the front. Now there was a grog-shop which was a very
favourite rendezvous of the seamen belonging to the merchant vessels,
and to which they were accustomed to retreat when they heard that the
pressgangs were out. Our officers were aware of this, and were therefore
indifferent as to the escape of the men, as they knew that they would
all go to that place, and confide in their numbers for beating us off.
As it was then one o'clock, they thought it time to go there; we
proceeded without any noise, but they had people on the look-out, and as
soon as we turned the corner of the lane the alarm was given. I was
afraid that they would all run away, and we should lose them; but, on
the contrary, they mustered very strong on that night, and had resolved
to "give fight." The men remained in the house, but an advanced guard of
about thirty of their wives saluted us with a shower of stones and mud.
Some of our sailors were hurt, but they did not appear to mind what the
women did. They rushed on, and then they were attacked by the women with
their fists and nails. Notwithstanding this, the sailors only laughed,
pushing the women on one side, and saying, "Be quiet, Poll;"--"Don't be
foolish, Molly;"--"Out of the way, Sukey; we a'n't come to take away
your fancy man;" with expressions of that sort, although the blood
trickled down many of their faces, from the way in which they had been
clawed. Thus we attempted to force our way through them, but I had a
very narrow escape even in this instance. A woman seized me by the arm,
and pulled me towards her; had it not been for one of the
quarter-masters I should have been separated from my party; but, just as
they dragged me away, she caught hold of me by the leg, and stopped
them. "Clap on here, Peg," cried the woman to another, "and let's have
this little midshipmite; I wants a baby to dry nurse." Two more women
came to her assistance, catching hold of my other arm, and they would
have dragged me out of the grasp of the quarter-master, had he not
called out for more help on his side, upon which two of the seamen laid
hold of my other leg, and there was such a tussle (all at my expense),
such pulling and hauling; sometimes the women gained an inch or two of
me, then the sailors got it back again. At one moment I thought it was
all over with me, and in the next I was with my own men. "Pull devil;
pull baker!" cried the women, and then they laughed, although I did not,
I can assure you, for I really think that I was pulled out an inch
taller, and my knees and shoulders pained me very much indeed. At last
the women laughed so much that they could not hold on, so I was dragged
into the middle of our own sailors, where I took care to remain; and,
after a little more squeezing and fighting, was carried by the crowd
into the house. The seamen of the merchant ships had armed themselves
with bludgeons and other weapons, and had taken a position on the
tables. They were more than two to one against us, and there was a
dreadful fight, as their resistance was very desperate. Our sailors were
obliged to use their cutlasses, and for a few minutes I was quite
bewildered with the shouting and swearing, pushing and scuffling,
collaring and fighting, together with the dust raised up, which not only
blinded, but nearly choked me. By the time that my breath was nearly
squeezed out of my body, our sailors got the best of it, which the
landlady and women of the house perceiving, they put out all the lights,
so that I could not tell where I was; but our sailors had every one
seized his man, and contrived to haul him out of the street door, where
they were collected together, and secured.

Now again I was in great difficulty; I had been knocked down and trod
upon, and when I did contrive to get up again, I did not know the
direction in which the door lay. I felt about by the wall, and at last
came to a door, for the room was at that time nearly empty, the women
having followed the men out of the house. I opened it, and found that it
was not the right one, but led into a little side parlour, where there
was a fire, but no lights. I had just discovered my mistake, and was
about to retreat, when I was shoved in from behind, and the key turned
upon me: there I was all alone, and, I must acknowledge, very much
frightened, as I thought that the vengeance of the women would be
wreaked upon me. I considered that my death was certain, and that, like
the man Orpheus I had read of in my books, I should be torn to pieces by
these Bacchanals. However, I reflected that I was an officer in his
Majesty's service, and that it was my duty, if necessary, to sacrifice
my life for my king and country. I thought of my poor mother; but as it
made me unhappy, I tried to forget her, and call to my memory all I had
read of the fortitude and courage of various brave men, when death
stared them in the face. I peeped through the key-hole, and perceived
that the candles were re-lighted, and that there were only women in the
room, who were talking all at once, and not thinking about me. But in a
minute or two, a woman came in from the street, with her long black hair
hanging about her shoulders, and her cap in her hand. "Well," cried she,
"they've nabbed my husband; but I'll be dished if I hav'n't boxed up the
midshipmite in that parlour, and he shall take his place." I thought I
should have died when I looked at the woman, and perceived her coming up
to the door, followed by some others, to unlock it. As the door opened,
I drew my dirk, resolving to die like an officer, and as they advanced I
retreated to a corner, brandishing my dirk, without saying a word.
"Vell," cried the woman who had made me a prisoner, "I do declare I
likes to see a puddle in a storm--only look at the little
biscuit-nibbler showing fight! Come, my lovey, you belongs to me."

"Never!" exclaimed I with indignation. "Keep off, I shall do you
mischief" (and I raised my dirk in advance); "I am an officer and a
gentleman."

"Sall," cried the odious woman, "fetch a mop and a pail of dirty water,
and I'll trundle that dirk out of his fist."

"No, no," replied another rather good-looking young woman, "leave him to
me--don't hurt him--he really is a very nice little man. What's your
name, my dear?"

"Peter Simple is my name," replied I; "and I am a king's officer, so be
careful what you are about."

"Don't be afraid, Peter, nobody shall hurt you; but you must not draw
your dirk before ladies, that's not like an officer and a gentleman--so
put up your dirk, that's a good boy."

"I will not," replied I, "unless you promise me that I shall go away
unmolested."

"I do promise you that you shall, upon my word, Peter--upon my honour--
will that content you?"

"Yes," replied I, "if every one else will promise the same."

"Upon our honours," they all cried together; upon which I was satisfied,
and putting my dirk into its sheath, was about to quit the room.

"Stop, Peter," said the young woman who had taken my part; "I must have
a kiss before you go." "And so must I; and so must we all," cried the
other women.

I was very much shocked, and attempted to draw my dirk again, but they
had closed in with me, and prevented me. "Recollect your honour," cried
I to the young woman, as I struggled.

"My honour!--Lord bless you, Peter, the less we say about that the
better."

"But you promised that I should go away quietly," said I, appealing to
them.

"Well, and so you shall; but recollect, Peter, that you are an officer
and a gentleman--you surely would not be so shabby as to go away without
treating us. What money have you got in your pocket?" and, without
giving me time to answer, she felt in my pocket, and pulled out my
purse, which she opened. "Why, Peter, you are as rich as a Jew," said
she, as they counted thirty shillings on the table. "Now, what shall we
have?"

"Anything you please," said I, "provided that you will let me go."

"Well, then, it shall be a gallon of gin. Sall, call Mrs Flanagan. Mrs
Flanagan, we want a gallon of gin, and clean glasses."

Mrs Flanagan received the major part of my money, and in a minute
returned with the gin and wine-glasses.

"Now, Peter, my cove, let's all draw round the table, and make ourselves
cosy."

"O no," replied I, "take my money, drink the gin, but pray let me go;"
but they wouldn't listen to me. Then I was obliged to sit down with
them, the gin was poured out, and they made me drink a glass, which
nearly choked me. It had, however, one good effect, it gave me courage,
and in a minute or two, I felt as if I could fight them all. The door of
the room was on the same side as the fire-place, and I perceived that
the poker was between the bars, and red hot. I complained that I was
cold, although I was in a burning fever; and they allowed me to get up
to warm my hands. As soon as I reached the fire-place, I snatched out
the red-hot poker, and, brandishing it over my head, made for the door.
They all jumped up to detain me, but I made a poke at the foremost,
which made her run back with a shriek, (I do believe that I burnt her
nose.) I seized my opportunity, and escaped into the street, whirling
the poker round my head, while all the women followed, hooting and
shouting after me. I never stopped running and whirling my poker until I
was reeking with perspiration, and the poker was quite cold. Then I
looked back, and found that I was alone. It was very dark; every house
was shut up, and not a light to be seen anywhere. I stopped at the
corner, not knowing where I was, or what I was to do. I felt very
miserable indeed, and was reflecting on my wisest plan, when who should
turn the corner, but one of the quarter-masters who had been left on
shore by accident. I knew him by his pea-jacket and straw hat to be one
of our men, and I was delighted to see him. I told him what had
happened, and he replied that he was going to a house where the people
knew him and would let him in. When we arrived there, the people of the
house were very civil; the landlady made us some purl, which the
quarter-master ordered, and which I thought very good indeed. After we
had finished the jug, we both fell asleep in our chairs. I did not
awaken until I was roused by the quarter-master, at past seven o'clock,
when we took a wherry, and went off to the ship.



Chapter XI

O'Brien takes me under his protection--The ship's company are paid, so
are the bumboat-women, the Jews, and the emancipationist after a
fashion--We go to sea--_Doctor_ O'Brien's cure for sea-sickness--One
pill of the doctor's more than a dose.


When we arrived, I reported myself to the first lieutenant, and told him
the whole story of the manner in which I had been treated, showing him
the poker, which I brought on board with me. He heard me very patiently,
and then said, "Well, Mr Simple, you may be the greatest fool of your
family for all I know to the contrary, but never pretend to be a fool
with me. That poker proves the contrary: and if your wit can serve you
upon your own emergency, I expect that it will be employed for the
benefit of the service." He then sent for O'Brien, and gave him a
lecture for allowing me to go with the pressgang, pointing out, what was
very true, that I could have been of no service, and might have met with
a serious accident. I went down on the main deck, and O'Brien came to
me. "Peter," said he, "I have been jawed for letting you go, so it is
but fair that you should be thrashed for having asked me." I wished to
argue the point, but he cut all argument short, by kicking me down the
hatchway; and thus ended my zealous attempt to procure seamen for his
majesty's service.

At last the frigate was full manned; and, as we had received drafts of
men from other ships, we were ordered to be paid previously to our going
to sea. The people on shore always find out when a ship is to be paid,
and very early in the morning we were surrounded with wherries, laden
with Jews and other people, some requesting admittance to sell their
goods, others to get paid for what they had allowed the sailors to take
up upon credit. But the first lieutenant would not allow any of them to
come on board until after the ship was paid; although they were so
urgent that he was forced to place sentries in the chains with cold
shot, to stave the boats if they came alongside. I was standing at the
gangway, looking at the crowd of boats, when a black-looking fellow in
one of the wherries said to me, "I say, sir, let me slip in at the port,
and I have a very nice present to make you;" and he displayed a gold
seal, which he held up to me. I immediately ordered the sentry to keep
him further off, for I was very much affronted at his supposing me
capable of being bribed to disobey my orders. About eleven o'clock the
dockyard boat, with all the pay-clerks, and the cashier, with his chest
of money, came on board, and was shown into the fore-cabin, where the
captain attended the pay-table. The men were called in, one by one, and,
as the amount of the wages due had been previously calculated, they were
paid; very fast. The money was always received in their hats, after it
had been counted out in the presence of the officers and captain.
Outside the cabin door there stood a tall man in black, with hair
straight combed, who had obtained an order from the Port Admiral to be
permitted to come on board. He attacked every sailor as he came out;
with his money in his hat, for a subscription to emancipate the slaves
in the West Indies; but the sailors would not give him anything,
swearing that the niggers were better off than they were; for they did
not work harder by day, and had no watch and watch to keep during the
night. "Sarvitude is sarvitude all over the world, my old psalmsinger,"
replied one. "They sarve their masters, as in duty bound; we sarve the
king, 'cause he can't do without us--and he never axes our leave, but
helps himself."

"Yes," replied the straight-haired gentleman; "but slavery is a very
different thing."

"Can't say that I see any difference; do you, Bill?"

"Not I: and I suppose as if they didn't like it they'd run away."

"Run away! poor creatures," said the black gentleman. "Why, if they did,
they would be flogged."

"Flogged--heh; well, and if we run away we are to be hanged. The
nigger's better off nor we: ar'n't he, Tom?" Then the purser's steward
came out: he was what they call a bit of a lawyer,--that is, had
received more education than the seamen in general.

"I trust, sir," said the man in black, "that you will contribute
something."

"Not I, my hearty: I owe every farthing of my money, and more too, I'm
afraid."

"Still, sir, a small trifle."

"Why, what an infernal rascal you must be, to ask a man to give away
what is not his own property! Did I not tell you that I owed it all?
There's an old proverb--be just before you're generous. Now, it's my
opinion that, you are a methodistical, good-for-nothing blackguard; and
if any one is such a fool as to give you money, you will keep it for
yourself."

When the man found that he could obtain nothing at the door, he went
down on the lower deck, in which he did not act very wisely; for now
that the men were paid, the boats were permitted to come alongside, and
so much spirits were smuggled in, that most of the seamen were more or
less intoxicated. As soon as he went below, he commenced distributing
prints of a black man kneeling in chains, and saying, "Am not I your
brother?" Some of the men laughed, and swore that they would paste their
brother up in the mess, to say prayers for the ship's company; but
others were very angry, and abused him. At last, one man, who was tipsy,
came up to him. "Do you pretend for to insinivate that this crying black
thief is my brother?"

"To be sure I do," replied the methodist.

"Then take that for your infernal lie," said the sailor, hitting him in
the face right and left, and knocking the man down into the cable tier,
from whence he climbed up, and made his escape out of the frigate as
soon as he was able.

The ship was now in a state of confusion and uproar; there were Jews
trying to sell clothes, or to obtain money for clothes which they had
sold; bumboat-men and bumboat-women showing their long bills, and
demanding or coaxing for payment; other people from the shore, with
hundreds of small debts; and the sailors' wives, sticking close to them,
and disputing every bill presented, as an extortion or a robbery. There
was such bawling and threatening, laughing and crying--for the women
were all to quit the ship before sunset--at one moment a Jew was upset,
and all his hamper of clothes tossed into the hold; at another, a sailor
was seen hunting everywhere for a Jew who had cheated him,--all
squabbling or skylarking, and many of them very drunk. It appeared to me
that the sailors had rather a difficult point to settle. They had three
claimants upon them, the Jew for clothes, the bumboat-men for their mess
in harbour, and their wives for their support during their absence; and
the money which they received was, generally speaking, not more than
sufficient to meet one of the demands. As it may be supposed, the women
had the best of it; the others were paid a trifle, and promised the
remainder when they came back from their cruise; and although, as the
case stood then, it might appear that two of the parties were ill-used,
yet in the long run they were more than indemnified, for their charges
were so extravagant, that if one-third of their bills were paid, there
would still remain a profit. About five o'clock the orders were given
for the ship to be cleared. All disputed points were settled by the
sergeant of marines with a party, who divided their antagonists from the
Jews; and every description of persons not belonging to the ship,
whether male or female, was dismissed over the side. The hammocks were
piped down, those who were intoxicated were put to bed, and the ship was
once more quiet. Nobody was punished for having been tipsy, as pay-day
is considered, on board a man-of-war, as the winding-up of all incorrect
behaviour, and from that day the sailors turn over a new leaf; for,
although some latitude is permitted, and the seamen are seldom flogged
in harbour, yet the moment that the anchor is at the bows, strict
discipline is exacted, and intoxication must no longer hope to be
forgiven.

The next day everything was prepared for sea, and no leave was permitted
to the officers. Stock of every kind was brought on board, and the large
boats hoisted and secured. On the morning after, at daylight, a signal
from the flag-ship in harbour was made for us to unmoor; our orders had
come down to cruise in the Bay of Biscay. The captain came on board, the
anchor weighed, and we ran through the Needles with a fine N.E. breeze.
I admired the scenery of the Isle of Wight, looked with admiration at
Alum Bay, was astonished at the Needle rocks, and then felt so very ill
that I went down below. What occurred for the next six days I cannot
tell. I thought that I should die every moment, and lay in my hammock or
on the chests for the whole of that time, incapable of eating, drinking,
or walking about. O'Brien came to me on the seventh morning, and said,
that if I did not exert myself I never should get well; that he was very
fond of me and had taken me under his protection, and, to prove his
regard, he would do for me what he would not take the trouble to do for
any other youngster in the ship, which was, to give me a good basting,
which was a sovereign remedy for sea-sickness. He suited the action to
the word, and drubbed me on the ribs without mercy, until I thought the
breath was out of my body, and then he took out a rope's end and
thrashed me until I obeyed his orders to go on deck immediately. Before
he came to me, I could never have believed it possible that I could have
obeyed him; but somehow or other I did contrive to crawl up the ladder
to the main-deck, where I sat down on the shot-racks and cried bitterly.
What would I have given to have been at home again! It was not my fault
that I was the greatest fool in the family, yet how was I punished for
it! If this was kindness from O'Brien, what had I to expect from those
who were not partial to me? But, by degrees, I recovered myself, and
certainly felt a great deal better, and that night I slept very soundly.
The next morning O'Brien came to me again. "It's a nasty slow fever,
that sea-sickness, my Peter, and we must drive it out of you;" and then
he commenced a repetition of yesterday's remedy until I was almost a
jelly. Whether the fear of being thrashed drove away my sea-sickness, or
whatever might be the real cause of it, I do not know, but this is
certain, that I felt no more of it after the second beating, and the
next morning when I awoke I was very hungry. I hastened to dress myself
before O'Brien came to me, and did not see him until we met at
breakfast.

"Pater," said he, "let me feel your pulse."

"Oh no!" replied I, "indeed I'm quite well."

"Quite well! Can you eat biscuit and salt butter?"

"Yes, I can."

"And a piece of fat pork?"

"Yes, that I can."

"It's thanks to me then, Pater," replied he; "so you'll have no more of
my medicine until you fall sick again."

"I hope not," replied I, "for it was not very pleasant."

"Pleasant! you simple Simple, when did you ever hear of physic being
pleasant, unless a man prescribe for himself? I suppose you'd be after
lollipops for the yellow fever. Live and larn, boy, and thank Heaven
that you've found somebody who loves you well enough to baste you when
it's good for your health."

I replied, "that I certainly hoped that much as I felt obliged to him, I
should not require any more proofs of his regard."

"Any more such _striking_ proofs, you mean, Pater; but let me tell you
that they were sincere proofs, for since you've been ill I've been
eating your pork and drinking your grog, which latter can't be too
plentiful in the Bay of Biscay. And now that I've cured you, you'll be
tucking all that into your own little breadbasket, so that I'm no
gainer, and I think that you may be convinced that you never had or will
have two more disinterested thumpings in all your born days. However,
you're very welcome, so say no more about it."

I held my tongue and ate a very hearty breakfast. From that day I
returned to my duty, and was put into the same watch with O'Brien, who
spoke to the first lieutenant, and told him that he had taken me under
his charge.



Chapter XII

New theory of Mr Muddle remarkable for having no end to it--Novel
practice of Mr Chucks--O'Brien commences his history--There were giants
in those days--I bring up the master's _night-glass_.


As I have already mentioned sufficient of the captain and the first
lieutenant to enable the reader to gain an insight into their
characters, I shall now mention two very odd personages who were my
shipmates, the carpenter and the boatswain. The carpenter, whose name
was Muddle, used to go by the appellation of Philosopher Chips, not that
he followed any particular school, but had formed a theory of his own,
from which he was not to be dissuaded. This was, that the universe had
its cycle of events turned round, so that in a certain period of time
everything was to happen over again. I never could make him explain upon
what data his calculations were founded; he said, that if he explained
it, I was too young to comprehend it; but the fact was this, "that in
27,672 years everything that was going on now would be going on again,
with the same people as were existing at this present time." He very
seldom ventured to make the remark to Captain Savage, but to the first
lieutenant he did very often. "I've been as close to it as possible,
sir, I do assure you, although you find fault; but 27,672 years ago you
were first lieutenant of this ship, and I was carpenter, although we
recollect nothing about it; and 27,672 years hence we shall both be
standing by this boat, talking about the repairs, as we are now."

"I do not doubt it, Mr Muddle," replied the first lieutenant; "I dare
say that it is all very true, but the repairs must be finished this
night, and 27,672 years hence you will have the order just as positive
as you have it now, so let it be done."

This theory made him very indifferent as to danger, or indeed as to
anything. It was of no consequence, the affair took its station in the
course of time. It had happened at the above period, and would happen
again. Fate was fate. But the boatswain was a more amusing personage. He
was considered to be the _taughtest_ (that is, the most active and
severe) boatswain in the service. He went by the name of "Gentleman
Chucks"--the latter was his surname. He appeared to have received half
an education; sometimes his language was for a few sentences remarkably
well chosen, but, all of a sudden, he would break down at a hard word;
but I shall be able to let the reader into more of his history as I go
on with my adventures. He had a very handsome person, inclined to be
stout, keen eyes, and hair curling in ringlets. He held his head up, and
strutted as he walked. He declared "that an officer should look like an
officer, and _comport_ himself accordingly." In his person he was very
clean, wore rings on his great fingers, and a large frill to his bosom,
which stuck out like the back fin of a perch, and the collar of his
shirt was always pulled up to a level with his cheek-bones. He never
appeared on deck without his "persuader," which was three rattans
twisted into one, like a cable; sometimes he called it his Order of the
Bath, or his Tri_o_ junct_o_ in Uno; and this persuader was seldom idle.
He attempted to be very polite, even when addressing the common seamen,
and, certainly, he always commenced his observations to them in a very
gracious manner, but, as he continued, he became less choice in his
phraseology. O'Brien said that his speeches were like the Sin of the
poet, very fair at the upper part of them, but shocking at the lower
extremities. As a specimen of them, he would say to the man on the
forecastle, "Allow me to observe, my dear man, in the most delicate way
in the world, that you are spilling that tar upon the deck--a deck, sir,
if I may venture to make the observation, I had the duty of seeing
holystoned this morning. You understand me, sir, you have defiled his
majesty's forecastle. I must do my duty, sir, if you neglect yours; so
take that--and that--and that--(thrashing the man with his rattan)--you
d--d hay-making son of a sea-cook. Do it again, d--n your eyes, and I'll
cut your liver out."

I remember one of the ship's boys going forward with a kid of dirty
water to empty in the head, without putting his hand up to his hat as he
passed the boatswain. "Stop, my little friend," said the boatswain,
pulling out his frill, and raising up both sides of his shirt-collar.
"Are you aware, sir, of my rank and station in society?"

"Yes, sir," replied the boy, trembling, and eyeing the rattan.

"Oh, you are!" replied Mr Chucks. "Had you not been aware of it, I
should have considered a gentle correction necessary, that you might
have avoided such an error in future; but, as you _were_ aware of it,
why then, d--n you, you have no excuse, so take that--and that--you
yelping, half-starved abortion. I really beg your pardon, Mr Simple,"
said he to me, as the boy went howling forward, for I was walking with
him at the time; "but really the service makes brutes of us all. It is
hard to sacrifice our health, our night's rest, and our comforts; but
still more so, that in my responsible situation, I am obliged too often
to sacrifice my gentility."

The master was the officer who had charge of the watch to which I was
stationed; he was a very rough sailor, who had been brought up in the
merchant service, not much of a gentleman in his appearance, very
good-tempered, and very fond of grog. He always quarrelled with the
boatswain, and declared that the service was going to the devil, now
that warrant officers put on white shirts, and wore frills to them. But
the boatswain did not care for him; he knew his duty, he did his duty,
and if the captain was satisfied, he said, that the whole ship's company
might grumble. As for the master, he said, the man was very well, but
having been brought up in a collier, he could not be expected to be very
refined; in fact, he observed, pulling up his shirt-collar--"it was
impossible to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear." The master was very
kind to me, and used to send me down to my hammock before my watch was
half over. Until that time, I walked the deck with O'Brien, who was a
very pleasant companion, and taught me everything that he could,
connected with my profession. One night, when he had the middle watch, I
told him I should like very much if he would give me the history of his
life. "That I will, my honey," replied he, "all that I can remember of
it, though I have no doubt but that I've forgotten the best part of it.
It's now within five minutes of two bells, so we'll heave the log and
mark the board, and then I'll spin you a yarn, which will keep us both
from going to sleep." O'Brien reported the rate of sailing to the
master, marked it down on the log-board, and then returned.

"So now, my boy, I'll come to an anchor on the topsail halyard rack, and
you may squeeze your thread-paper little carcass under my lee, and then
I'll tell you all about it. First and foremost, you must know that I am
descended from the great O'Brien Borru, who was king in his time, as the
great Fingal was before him. Of course you've heard of Fingal?"

"I can't say that I ever did," replied I.

"Never heard of Fingal!--murder! Where must you have been all your life?
Well, then, to give you some notion of Fingal, I will first tell you how
Fingal bothered the great Scotch giant, and then I'll go on with my own
story. Fingal, you must know, was a giant himself, and no fool of one,
and any one that affronted him was as sure of a bating, as I am to keep
the middle watch to-night. But there was a giant in Scotland as tall as
the mainmast, more or less, as we say when we a'n't quite sure, as it
saves telling more lies than there's occasion for. Well, this Scotch
giant heard of Fingal, and how he had beaten everybody, and he said,
'Who is this Fingal? By Jasus,' says he in Scotch, 'I'll just walk over
and see what he's made of.' So he walked across the Irish Channel, and
landed within half-a-mile of Belfast, but whether he was out of his
depth or not I can't tell, although I suspect that he was not
dry-footed. When Fingal heard that this great chap was coming over, he
was in a devil of a fright, for they told him that the Scotchman was
taller by a few feet or so. Giants, you know, measure by feet, and don't
bother themselves about the inches, as we little devils are obliged to
do. So Fingal kept a sharp look-out for the Scotchman, and one fine
morning, there he was, sure enough, coming up the hill to Fingal's
house. If Fingal was afraid before, he had more reason to be afraid when
he saw the fellow, for he looked for all the world like the Monument
upon a voyage of discovery. So Fingal ran into his house, and called to
his wife Shaya, 'My vourneen,' says he, 'be quick now; there's that big
bully of a Scotchman coming up the hill. Kiver me up with the blankets,
and if he asks who is in bed, tell him it's the child.' So Fingal laid
down on the bed, and his wife had just time to cover him up, when in
comes the Scotchman, and though he stooped low, he broke his head
against the portal. 'Where's that baste Fingal?' says he, rubbing his
forehead; 'show him to me, that I may give him a bating.' 'Whisht,
whisht!' cries Shaya, 'you'll wake the babby, and then him that you talk
of bating will be the death of you, if he comes in.' 'Is that the
babby?' cried the Scotchman with surprise, looking at the great carcass
muffled up in the blankets. 'Sure it is,' replied Shaya, 'and Fingal's
babby too; so don't you wake him, or Fingal will twist your neck in a
minute.' 'By the cross of St Andrew,' replied the giant, 'then it's time
for me to be off; for if that's his babby, I'll be but a mouthful to the
fellow himself. Good morning to ye.' So the Scotch giant ran out of the
house, and never stopped to eat or drink until he got back to his own
hills, foreby he was nearly drowned in having mistaken his passage
across the Channel in his great hurry. Then Fingal got up and laughed,
as well he might, at his own 'cuteness; and so ends my story about
Fingal. And now I'll begin about myself. As I said before, I am
descended from the great O'Brien, who was a king in his time, but that
time's past. I suppose, as the world turns round, my children's
children's posterity may be kings again, although there seems but little
chance of it just now; but there's ups and downs on a grand scale, as
well as in a man's own history, and the wheel of fortune keeps turning
for the comfort of those who are at the lowest spoke, as I may be just
now. To cut the story a little shorter, I skip down to my
great-grandfather, who lived like a real gentleman, as he was, upon his
ten thousand a year. At last he died, and eight thousand of the ten was
buried with him. My grandfather followed his father all in good course
of time, and only left my father about one hundred acres of bog, to keep
up the dignity of the family. I am the youngest of ten, and devil a
copper have I but my pay, or am I likely to have. You may talk about
_descent_, but a more _descending_ family than mine was never in
existence, for here am I with twenty-five pounds a-year, and a half-pay
of 'nothing a day, and find myself,' when my great ancestor did just
what he pleased with all Ireland, and everybody in it. But this is all
nothing, except to prove satisfactorily that I am not worth a
skillagalee, and that is the reason which induces me to condescend to
serve his Majesty. Father M'Grath, the priest, who lived with my father,
taught me the elements, as they call them. I thought I had enough of the
elements then, but I've seen a deal more of them since. 'Terence,' says
my father to me one day, 'what do you mane to do?' 'To get my dinner,
sure,' replied I, for I was not a little hungry. 'And so you shall
to-day, my vourneen,' replied my father, 'but in future you must do
something to get your own dinner: there's not praties enow for the whole
of ye. Will you go to the _say_?' 'I'll just step down and look at it,'
says I, for we lived but sixteen Irish miles from the coast; so when I
had finished my meal, which did not take long, for want of ammunition, I
trotted down to the Cove to see what a ship might be like, and I
happened upon a large one sure enough, for there lay a three-decker with
an admiral's flag at the fore. 'May be you'll be so civil as to tell me
what ship that is,' said I to a sailor on the pier. 'It's the Queen
Charlotte,' replied he, 'of one hundred and twenty guns.' Now when I
looked at her size, and compared her with all the little smacks and hoys
lying about her, I very naturally asked how old she was; he replied,
that she was no more than three years old. 'But three years old!'
thought I to myself, 'it's a fine vessel you'll be when you'll come of
age, if you grow at that rate: you'll be as tall as the top of
Bencrow,'(that's a mountain we have in our parts). You see, Peter, I was
a fool at that time, just as you are now; but by-and-by, when you've had
as many thrashings as I have had, you may chance to be as clever. I went
back to my father, and told him all I had seen, and he replied, that if
I liked it I might be a midshipman on board of her, with nine hundred
men under my command. He forgot to say how many I should have over me,
but I found that out afterwards. I agreed, and my father ordered his
pony and went to the lord-lieutenant, for he had interest enough for
that. The lord-lieutenant spoke to the admiral, who was staying at the
palace, and I was ordered on board as midshipman. My father fitted me
out pretty handsomely, telling all the tradesmen that their bills should
be paid with my first prize-money, and thus, by promises and blarney, he
got credit for all I wanted. At last all was ready: Father M'Grath gave
me his blessing, and told me that if I died like an O'Brien, he would
say a power of masses for the good of my soul. 'May you never have the
trouble, sir,' said I. 'Och, trouble! a pleasure, my dear boy,' replied
he, for he was a very polite man; so off I went with my big chest, not
quite so full as it ought to have been, for my mother cribbed one half
of my stock for my brothers and sisters. 'I hope to be back again soon,
father,' said I as I took my leave. 'I hope not, my dear boy,' replied
he: 'a'n't you provided for, and what more would you have?' So, after a
deal of bother, I was fairly on board, and I parted company with my
chest, for I stayed on deck, and that went down below. I stared about
with all my eyes for some time, when who should be coming off but the
captain, and the officers were ordered on deck to receive him. I wanted
to have a quiet survey of him, so I took up my station on one of the
guns, that I might examine him at my leisure. The boatswain whistled,
the marines presented arms, and the officers all took off their hats as
the captain came on the deck, and then the guard was dismissed, and they
all walked about the deck as before; but I found it very pleasant to be
astride on the gun, so I remained where I was. 'What do you mane by
that, you big young scoundrel?' says he, when he saw me. 'It's nothing
at all I mane,' replied I; 'but what do you mane by calling an O'Brien a
scoundrel?' 'Who is he?' said the captain to the first lieutenant. 'Mr
O'Brien, who joined the ship about an hour since.' 'Don't you know
better than to sit upon a gun?' said the captain. 'To be sure I do,'
replied I, 'when there's anything better to sit upon.' 'He knows no
better, sir,' observed the first lieutenant. 'Then he must be taught,'
replied the captain. 'Mr O'Brien, since you have perched yourself on
that gun to please yourself, you will now continue there for two hours
to please me. Do you understand, sir?--you'll ride on that gun for two
hours.' 'I understand, sir,' replied I; 'but I am afraid that he won't
move without spurs, although there's plenty of _metal_ in him.' The
captain turned away and laughed as he went into his cabin, and all the
officers laughed, and I laughed too, for I perceived no great hardship
in sitting down an hour or two, any more than I do now. Well, I soon
found that, like a young bear, all my troubles were to come. The first
month was nothing but fighting and squabbling with my messmates; they
called me a _raw_ Irishman, and _raw_ I was, sure enough, from the
constant thrashings and coltings I received from those who were bigger
and stronger than myself; but nothing lasts for ever--as they discovered
that whenever they found blows I could find back, they got tired of it,
and left me and my brogue alone. We sailed for the Toolong fleet."

"What fleet?" inquired I.

"Why, the Toolong fleet, so called, I thought, because they remained too
long in harbour, bad luck to them; and then we were off Cape See-see
(devil a bit could we see of them except their mast-heads) for I don't
know how many months. But I forgot to say that I got into another scrape
just before we left harbour. It was my watch when they piped to dinner,
and I took the liberty to run below, as my messmates had a knack of
forgetting absent friends. Well, the captain came on board, and there
were no side boys, no side ropes, and no officers to receive him. He
came on deck foaming with rage, for his dignity was hurt, and he
inquired who was the midshipman of the watch. 'Mr O'Brien,' said they
all. 'Devil a bit,' replied I, 'it was my forenoon watch.' 'Who relieved
you, sir?' said the first lieutenant. 'Devil a soul, sir,' replied I;
'for they were all too busy with their pork and beef.' 'Then why did you
leave the deck without relief?' 'Because, sir, my stomach would have had
but little relief if I had remained.' The captain, who stood by, said,
'Do you see those cross-trees, sir?' 'Is it those little bits of wood
that you mane, on the top there, captain?' 'Yes, sir; now just go up
there, and stay until I call you down. You must be brought to your
senses, young man, or you'll have but little prospect in the service.'
'I've an idea that I'll have plenty of prospect when I get up there,'
replied I, 'but it's all to please you.' So up I went, as I have many a
time since, and as you often will, Peter, just to enjoy the fresh air
and your own pleasant thoughts, all at one and the same time.

"At last I became much more used to the manners and customs of
_say_-going people, and by the time that I had been fourteen months off
Cape See-see, I was considered a very genteel young midshipman, and my
messmates (that is, all that I could thrash, which didn't leave out
many) had a very great respect for me.

"The first time that I put my foot on shore was at Minorca, and then I
put my foot into it (as we say), for I was nearly killed for a heretic,
and only saved by proving myself a true Catholic, which proves that
religion is a great comfort in distress, as Father M'Grath used to say.
Several of us went on shore, and having dined upon a roast turkey,
stuffed with plum-pudding (for everything else was cooked in oil, and we
could not eat it), and having drunk as much wine as would float a
jolly-boat, we ordered donkeys, to take a little equestrian exercise.
Some went off tail on end, some with their hind-quarters uppermost, and
then the riders went off instead of the donkeys; some wouldn't go off at
all; as for mine he would go--and where the devil do you think he went?
Why, into the church where all the people were at mass; the poor brute
was dying with thirst, and smelt water. As soon as he was in,
notwithstanding all my tugging and hauling, he ran his nose into the
holy-water font, and drank it all up. Although I thought, that seeing
how few Christians have any religion, you could not expect much from a
donkey, yet I was very much shocked at the sacrilege, and fearful of the
consequences. Nor was it without reason, for the people in the church
were quite horrified, as well they might be, for the brute drank as much
holy-water as would have purified the whole town of Port Mahon, suburbs
and all to boot. They rose up from their knees and seized me, calling
upon all the saints in the calendar. Although I knew what they meant,
not a word of their lingo could I speak, to plead for my life, and I was
almost torn to pieces before the priest came up. Perceiving the danger I
was in, I wiped my finger across the wet nose of the donkey, crossed
myself, and then went down on my knees to the priests, crying out _Culpa
mea_, as all good Catholics do--though 'twas no fault of mine, as I said
before, for I tried all I could, and tugged at the brute till my
strength was gone. The priests perceived by the manner in which I
crossed myself that I was a good Catholic, and guessed that it was all a
mistake of the donkey's. They ordered the crowd to be quiet, and sent
for an interpreter, when I explained the whole story. They gave me
absolution for what the donkey had done, and after that, as it was very
rare to meet an English officer who was a good Christian, I was in great
favour during my stay at Minorca, and was living in plenty, paying for
nothing, and as happy as a cricket. So the jackass proved a very good
friend, and, to reward him, I hired him every day, and galloped him all
over the island. But, at last, it occurred to me that I had broken my
leave, for I was so happy on shore that I quite forgot that I had only
permission for twenty-four hours, and I should not have remembered it so
soon, had it not been for a party of marines, headed by a sergeant, who
took me by the collar, and dragged me off my donkey. I was taken on
board, and put under an arrest for my misconduct. Now, Peter, I don't
know anything more agreeable than being put under an arrest. Nothing to
do all day but eat and drink, and please yourself, only forbid to appear
on the quarter-deck, the only place that a midshipman wishes to avoid.
Whether it was to punish me more severely, or whether he forgot all
about me, I can't tell, but it was nearly two months before I was sent
for to the cabin; and the captain, with a most terrible frown, said,
that he trusted that my punishment would be a warning to me, and that
now I might return to my duty. 'Plase your honour,' said I, 'I don't
think that I've been punished enough yet.' 'I am glad to find that you
are so penitent, but you are forgiven, so take care that you do not
oblige me to put you again in confinement.' So, as there was no
persuading him, I was obliged to return to my duty again; but I made a
resolution that I would get into another scrape again as soon as I
dared--"

"Sail on the starboard bow!" cried the look-out man.

"Very well," replied the master; "Mr O'Brien--where's Mr O'Brien?"

"Is it me you mane, sir?" said O'Brien, walking up to the master, for he
had sat down so long in the topsail-halyard rack, that he was wedged in
and could not get out immediately.

"Yes, sir; go forward, and see what that vessel is."

"Aye, aye, sir," said O'Brien. "And Mr Simple," continued the master,
"go down and bring me up my night-glass."

"Yes, sir," replied I. I had no idea of a night-glass; and as I observed
that about this time his servant brought him up a glass of grog, I
thought it very lucky that I knew what he meant. "Take care that you
don't break it, Mr Simple." "Oh, then, I'm all right," thought I; "he
means the tumbler." So down I went, called up the gunroom steward, and
desired him to give me a glass of grog for Mr Doball. The steward
tumbled out in his shirt, mixed the grog, and gave it to me, and I
carried it up very carefully to the quarter-deck.

During my absence, the master had called the captain, and in pursuance
of his orders, O'Brien had called the first lieutenant, and when I came
up the ladder, they were both on deck. As I was ascending, I heard the
master say, "I have sent young Simple down for my night-glass, but he is
so long, that I suppose he has made some mistake. He's but half a fool."
"That I deny," replied Mr Falcon, the first lieutenant, just as I put my
foot on the quarter-deck; "he's no fool." "Perhaps not," replied the
master. "Oh, here he is. What made you so long, Mr Simple--where is my
night-glass?"

"Here it is, sir," replied I, handing him the tumbler of grog; "I told
the steward to make it stiff." The captain and the first lieutenant
burst out into a laugh for Mr Doball was known to be very fond of grog;
the former walked aft to conceal his mirth; but the latter remained. Mr
Doball was in a great rage. "Did not I say that the boy was half a
fool?" cried he to the first lieutenant. "At all events, I'll not allow
that he has proved himself so in this instance," replied Mr Falcon, "for
he has hit the right nail on the head." Then the first lieutenant joined
the captain, and they both went off laughing. "Put it on the capstan,
sir," said Mr Doball to me, in an angry voice. "I'll punish you
by-and-by." I was very much astonished; I hardly knew whether I had done
right or wrong; at all events, thought I to myself, I did for the best;
so I put it on the capstan and walked to my own side of the deck. The
captain and first lieutenant then went below, and O'Brien came aft.
"What vessel is it?" said I.

"To the best of my belief, it's one of your bathing-machines going home
with despatches," replied he.

"A bathing machine," said I; "why I thought that they were hauled up on
the beach." "That's the Brighton sort; but these are made not to go up
at all."

"What then?"

"Why, to _go down_, to be sure; and remarkably well they answer their
purpose. I won't puzzle you any more, my Peter--I'm spaking
helligorically, which I believe means telling a hell of a lie. It's one
of your ten-gun brigs, to the best of my knowledge."

I then told O'Brien what had occurred, and how the master was angry with
me. O'Brien laughed very heartily, and told me never to mind, but to
keep in the lee-scuppers and watch him. "A glass of grog is a bait that
he'll play round till he gorges. When you see it to his lips, go up to
him boldly, and ask his pardon, if you have offended him, and then, if
he's a good Christian, as I believe him to be, he'll not refuse it."

I thought this was very good advice, and I waited under the bulwark on
the lee-side. I observed that the master made shorter and shorter turns
every time, till at last he stopped at the capstan and looked at the
grog. He waited about half a minute, and then he took up the tumbler,
and drank about half of it. It was very strong, and he stopped to take
breath. I thought this was the right time, and I went up to him. The
tumbler was again to his lips, and before he saw me, I said, "I hope,
sir, you'll forgive me; I never heard of a night telescope, and knowing
that you had walked so long, I thought you were tired, and wanted
something to drink to refresh you." "Well, Mr Simple," said he, after he
had finished the glass, with a deep sigh of pleasure, "as you meant
kindly, I shall let you off this time; but recollect, that whenever you
bring me a glass of grog again, it must not be in the presence of the
captain or first lieutenant." I promised him very faithfully, and went
away quite delighted with my having made my peace with him, and more so,
that the first lieutenant had said that I was no fool for what I had
done.

At last our watch was over, and about two bells I was relieved by the
midshipmen of the next watch. It is very unfair not to relieve in time,
but if I said a word I was certain to be thrashed the next day upon some
pretence or other. On the other hand, the midshipman whom I relieved was
also much bigger than I was, and if I was not up before one bell, I was
cut down and thrashed by him: so that between the two I kept much more
than my share of the watch, except when the master sent me to bed before
it was over.



Chapter XIII

The first lieutenant prescribes for one of his patients, his
prescriptions consisting of _draughts_ only--O'Brien finishes the
history of his life, in which the proverb of "the more the merrier" is
sadly disproved--_Shipping_ a new pair of boots causes the _unshipping_
of their owner--Walking home after a ball, O'Brien meets with an
accident.


The next morning I was on deck at seven bells, to see the hammocks
stowed, when I was witness to Mr Falcon, the first lieutenant, having
recourse to one of his remedies to cure a mizen-top-boy of smoking, a
practice to which he had a great aversion. He never interfered with the
men smoking in the galley, or chewing tobacco; but he prevented the
boys, that is, lads under twenty or there-abouts, from indulging in the
habit too early. The first lieutenant smelt the tobacco as the boy
passed him on the quarter-deck. "Why, Neill, you have been smoking,"
said the first lieutenant. "I thought you were aware that I did not
permit such lads as you to use tobacco."

"If you please, sir," replied the mizen-top-man, touching his hat, "I'se
got worms, and they say that smoking be good for them."

"Good for them!" said the first lieutenant; "yes, very good for them,
but very bad for you. Why, my good fellow, they'll thrive upon tobacco
until they grow as large as conger eels. Heat is what the worms are fond
of; but cold--cold will kill them. Now I'll cure you. Quarter-master,
come here. Walk this boy up and down the weather-gangway, and every time
you get forward abreast of the main-tack block, put his mouth to
windward, squeeze him sharp by the nape of the neck until he opens his
mouth wide, and there keep him and let the cold air blow down his
throat, while you count ten; then walk him aft, and when you are forward
again, proceed as before.--Cold kills worms, my poor boy, not tobacco--I
wonder that you are not dead by this time."

The quarter-master, who liked the joke, as did all the seamen, seized
hold of the lad, and as soon as they arrived forward, gave him such a
squeeze of the neck as to force him to open his mouth, if it were only
to cry with pain. The wind was very fresh, and blew into his mouth so
strong, that it actually whistled while he was forced to keep it open;
and thus, he was obliged to walk up and down, cooling his inside, for
nearly two hours, when the first lieutenant sent for him, and told him,
that he thought all the worms must be dead by that time; but if they
were not, the lad was not to apply his own remedies, but come to him for
another dose. However, the boy was of the same opinion as the first
lieutenant, and never complained of worms again.

A few nights afterwards, when we had the middle watch, O'Brien proceeded
with his story.

"Where was it that I left off?"

"You left off at the time that you were taken out of confinement."

"So I did, sure enough; and it was with no good-will that I went to my
duty. However, as there was no help for it, I walked up and down the
deck as before, with my hands in my pockets, thinking of old Ireland,
and my great ancestor, Brien Borru. And so I went on behaving myself
like a real gentleman, and getting into no more scrapes, until the fleet
put into the Cove of Cork, and I found myself within a few miles of my
father's house. You may suppose that the anchor had hardly kissed the
mud, before I went to the first lieutenant, and asked leave to go on
shore. Now the first lieutenant was not in the sweetest of tempers,
seeing as how the captain had been hauling him over the coals for not
carrying on the duty according to his satisfaction. So he answered me
very gruffly, that I should not leave the ship. 'Oh, bother!' said I to
myself, 'this will never do.' So up I walked to the captain, and
touching my hat, reminded him that 'I had a father and mother, and a
pretty sprinkling of brothers and sisters, who were dying to see me, and
that I hoped that he would give me leave.' 'Ax the first lieutenant,'
said he, turning away. 'I have, sir,' replied I, 'and he says that the
devil a bit shall I put my foot on shore.' 'Then you have misbehaved
yourself,' said the captain. 'Not a bit of it, Captain Willis,' replied
I; 'it's the first lieutenant who has misbehaved.' 'How, sir?' answered
he, in an angry tone. 'Why, sir, didn't he misbehave just now in not
carrying on the duty according to your will and pleasure? and didn't you
serve him out just as he deserved--and isn't he sulky because you did--
and arn't that the reason why I am not to go on shore? You see, your
honour, it's all true as I said; and the first lieutenant has misbehaved
and not I. I hope you will allow me to go on shore, captain, God bless
you! and make some allowance for my parental feelings towards the
arthers of my existence.' 'Have you any fault to find with Mr O'Brien?'
said the captain to the first lieutenant, as he came aft. 'No more than
I have with midshipmen in general; but I believe it is not the custom
for officers to ask leave to go on shore before the sails are furled and
the yards squared.' 'Very true,' replied the captain; 'therefore, Mr
O'Brien, you must wait until the watch is called, and then, if you ask
the first lieutenant, I have no doubt but you will have leave granted to
you to go and see your friends.' 'Thank'e kindly, sir,' replied I; and I
hoped that the yards and sails would be finished off as soon as
possible, for my heart was in my mouth, and I felt that if I had been
kept much longer, it would have flown on shore before me.

"I thought myself very clever in this business, but I was never a
greater fool in my life; for there was no such hurry to have gone on
shore, and the first lieutenant never forgave me for appealing to the
captain--but of that by-and-by, and all in good time. At last I obtained
a grumbling assent to my going on shore, and off I went like a
sky-rocket. Being in a desperate hurry, I hired a jaunting-car to take
me to my father's house. 'Is it the O'Brien of Ballyhinch that you
mane?' inquired the spalpeen who drove the horse. 'Sure it is,' replied
I; 'and how is he, and all the noble family of the O'Briens?" 'All well
enough, bating the boy Tim, who caught a bit of confusion in his head
the other night at the fair, and now lies at home in bed quite
insensible to mate or drink; but the doctors give hopes of his recovery,
as all the O'Briens are known to have such thick heads.' 'What do you
mane by that, bad manners to you?' said I, 'but poor Tim--how did it
happen--was there a fight?' 'Not much of a fight--only a bit of a
skrummage--three crowners' inquests, no more.' 'But you are not going
the straight road, you thief,' said I, seeing that he had turned off to
the left. 'I've my reasons for that, your honour,' replied he; 'I always
turn away from the Castle out of principle--I lost a friend there, and
it makes me melancholy.' 'How came that for to happen?' 'All by
accident, your honour; they hung my poor brother Patrick there, because
he was a bad hand at arithmetic.' 'He should have gone to a better
school then,' said I. 'I've an idea that it was a bad school that he was
brought up in,' replied he, with a sigh. 'He was a cattle-dealer, your
honour, and one day, somehow or another, he'd a cow too much--all for
not knowing how to count, your honour,--bad luck to his school-master.'
'All that may be very true,' said I, 'and pace be to his soul; but I
don't see why you are to drag me, that's in such a hurry, two miles out
of my way, out of principle.' 'Is your honour in a hurry to get home?
Then I'll be thinking they'll not be in such a hurry to see you.' 'And
who told you that my name was O'Brien, you baste?--and do you dare to
say that my friends won't be glad to see me?' 'Plase your honour, it's
all an idea of mine--so say no more about it. Only this I know: Father
M'Grath, who gives me absolution, tould me the other day that I ought to
pay him, and not run in debt, and then run away like Terence O'Brien,
who went to say without paying for his shirts, and his shoes, and his
stockings, nor anything else, and who would live to be hanged as sure as
St Patrick swam over the Liffey with his head under his arm.' 'Bad luck
to that Father McGrath,' cried I; 'devil burn me, but I'll be revenged
upon him!'

"By that time we had arrived at the door of my father's house. I paid
the rapparee, and in I popped. There was my father and mother, and all
my brothers and sisters (bating Tim, who was in bed sure enough, and
died next day), and that baste Father McGrath to boot. When my mother
saw me she ran to me and hugged me as she wept on my neck, and then she
wiped her eyes and sat down again; but nobody else said 'How d'ye do?'
or opened their mouths to me. I said to myself, 'Sure there's some
trifling mistake here,' but I held my tongue. At last they all opened
their mouths with a vengeance. My father commenced--'Ar'n't you ashamed
on yourself, Terence O'Brien?' 'Ar'n't you ashamed on yourself, Terence
O'Brien?' cried Father M'Grath. 'Ar'n't you ashamed on yourself?' cried
out all my brothers and sisters in full chorus, whilst my poor mother
put her apron to her eyes and said nothing. 'The devil a bit for myself,
but very much ashamed for you all,' replied I, 'to treat me in this
manner. What's the meaning of all this?' 'Haven't they seized my two
cows to pay for your toggery, you spalpeen?' cried my father. 'Haven't
they taken the hay to pay for your shoes and stockings?' cried Father
M'Grath. 'Haven't they taken the pig to pay for that ugly hat of yours?'
cried my eldest sister. 'And haven't they taken my hens to pay for that
dirk of yours?' cried another. 'And all our best furniture to pay for
your white shirts and black cravats?' cried Murdock, my brother. 'And
haven't we been starved to death ever since?' cried they all. 'Och
hone!' said my mother. 'The devil they have!' said I, when they'd all
done. 'Sure I'm sorry enough, but it's no fault of mine. Father, didn't
you send me to say?' 'Yes, you rapparee; but didn't you promise--or
didn't I promise for you, which is all one and the same thing--that
you'd pay it all back with your prize-money--and where is it? answer
that, Terence O'Brien.' 'Where is it, father? I'll tell you; it's where
next Christmas is--coming, but not come yet.' 'Spake to him, Father
M'Grath,' said my father. 'Is not that a lie of yours, Terence O'Brien,
that you're after telling now?' said Father McGrath; 'give me the
money.' 'It's no lie, Father McGrath; if it pleased you to die
to-morrow, the devil of a shilling have I to jingle on your tombstone
for good luck, bating those three or four, which you may divide between
you, and I threw them on the floor.

"'Terence O'Brien,' said Father McGrath, 'its absolution that you'll be
wanting to-morrow, after all your sins and enormities; and the devil a
bit shall you have--take that now.'

"'Father M'Grath,' replied I very angrily, 'it's no absolution that I'll
want from you, any how--take that now.'

"'Then you have had your share of heaven; for I'll keep you out of it,
you wicked monster,' said Father M'Grath--'take that now.'

"'If it's no better than a midshipman's berth,' replied I, 'I'd just as
soon stay out; but I'll creep in in spite of you--take that now, Father
M'Grath.'

"'And who's to save your soul, and send you to heaven, if I don't, you
wicked wretch? but I'll see you d--d first--so take that now, Terence
O'Brien.'

"'Then I'll turn Protestant, and damn the Pope--take that now, Father
M'Grath.'

"At this last broadside of mine, my father and all my brothers and
sisters raised a cry of horror, and my mother burst into tears. Father
M'Grath seized hold of the pot of holy water, and dipping in the little
whisk, began to sprinkle the room, saying a Latin prayer, while they all
went on squalling at me. At last, my father seized the stool, which he
had been seated upon, and threw it at my head. I dodged, and it knocked
down Father M'Grath, who had just walked behind me in full song. I knew
that it was all over after that, so I sprang over his carcass, and
gained the door. 'Good morning to ye all, and better manners to you next
time we meet,' cried I, and off I set as fast as I could for the ship.

"I was melancholy enough as I walked back, and thought of what had
passed. 'I need not have been in such a confounded hurry,' said I to
myself, 'to ask leave, thereby affronting the first lieutenant;' and I
was very sorry for what I had said to the priest, for my conscience
thumped me very hard at having even pretended that I'd turn Protestant,
which I never intended to do, nor never will, but live and die a good
Catholic, as all my posterity have done before me, and, as I trust, all
my ancestors will for generations to come. Well, I arrived on board, and
the first lieutenant was very savage. I hoped he would get over it, but
he never did; and he continued to treat me so ill that I determined to
quit the ship, which I did as soon as we arrived in Cawsand Bay. The
captain allowed me to go, for I told him the whole truth of the matter,
and he saw that it was true; so he recommended me to the captain of a
jackass frigate, who was in want of midshipmen."

"What do you mean by a jackass frigate?" inquired I.

"I mean one of your twenty-eight gun-ships, so called, because there is
as much difference between them and a real frigate, like the one we are
sailing in, as there is between a donkey and a racehorse. Well, the ship
was no sooner brought down to the dock-yard to have her ballast taken
in, than our captain came down to her--a little, thin, spare man, but a
man of weight nevertheless, for he brought a great pair of scales with
him, and weighed everything that was put on board. I forget his real
name, but the sailors christened him Captain Avoirdupois. He had a large
book, and in it he inserted the weight of the ballast, and of the shot,
water, provisions, coals, standing and running rigging, cables, and
everything else. Then he weighed all the men, and all the midshipmen,
and all the midshipmen's chests, and all the officers, with everything
belonging to them: lastly, he weighed himself, which did not add much to
the sum total. I don't exactly know what this was for; but he was always
talking about centres of gravity, displacement of fluid, and Lord knows
what. I believe it was to find out the longitude, somehow or other, but
I didn't remain long enough in her to know the end of it, for one day I
brought on board a pair of new boots, which I forgot to report that they
might be put into the scales, which swang on the gangway; and whether
the captain thought that they would sink his ship, or for what I can not
tell, but he ordered me to quit her immediately--so, there I was adrift
again. I packed up my traps and went on shore, putting on my new boots
out of spite, and trod into all the mud and mire I could meet, and
walked up and down from Plymouth to Dock until I was tired, as a
punishment to them, until I wore the scoundrels out in a fortnight.

"One day I was in the dockyard, looking at a two-decker in the basin,
just brought forward for service, and I inquired who was to be the
captain. They told me that his name was O'Connor. Then's he's a
countryman of mine, thought I, and I'll try my luck. So I called at
Goud's Hotel, where he was lodging, and requested to speak with him. I
was admitted, and I told him, with my best bow, that I had come as a
volunteer for his ship, and that my name was O'Brien. As it happened, he
had some vacancies, and liking my brogue, he asked me in what ships I
had served. I told him, and also my reason for quitting my last--which
was, because I was turned out of it. I explained the story of the boots,
and he made inquiries, and found that it was all true; and then he gave
me a vacancy as master's mate. We were ordered to South America, and the
trade winds took us there in a jiffey. I liked my captain and officers
very much; and what was better, we took some good prizes. But somehow or
other, I never had the luck to remain long in one ship, and that by no
fault of mine; at least, not in this instance. All went on as smooth as
possible, until one day the captain took us on shore to a ball, at one
of the peaceable districts. We had a very merry night of it; but as luck
would have it, I had the morning watch to keep, and see the decks
cleaned, and as I never neglected my duty, I set off about three o'clock
in the morning, just at break of day, to go on board of the ship. I was
walking along the sands, thinking of the pretty girl that I'd been
dancing with, and had got about half way to the ship, when three
rapparees of Spanish soldiers came from behind a rock and attacked me
with their swords and bayonets. I had only my dirk, but I was not to be
run through for nothing, so I fought them as long as I could. I finished
one fellow, but at last they finished me; for a bayonet passed through
my body, and I forgot all about it. Well, it appears--for I can only say
to the best of my knowledge and belief--that after they had killed me,
they stripped me naked and buried me in the sand, carrying away with
them the body of their comrade. So there I was--dead and buried."

"But, O'Brien," said I

"Whist--hold your tongue--you've not heard the end of it. Well, I had
been buried about an hour--but not very deep it appears, for they were
in too great a hurry--when a fisherman and his daughter came along the
beach, on their way to the boat; and the daughter, God bless her! did me
the favour to tread upon my nose. It was clear that she had never trod
upon an Irishman's nose before, for it surprised her, and she looked
down to see what was there, and not seeing anything, she tried it again
with her foot, and then she scraped off the sand, and discovered my
pretty face. I was quite warm and still breathing, for the sand had
stopped the blood, and prevented my bleeding to death. The fisherman
pulled me out, and took me on his back to the house where the captain
and officers were still dancing. When he brought me in, there was a
great cry from the ladies, not because I was murdered, for they are used
to it in those countries, but because I was naked, which they considered
a much more serious affair. I was put to bed and a boat despatched on
board for our doctor; and in a few hours I was able to speak, and tell
them how it happened. But I was too ill to move when the ship sailed,
which she was obliged to do in a day or two afterwards, so the captain
made out my discharge, and left me there. The family were French, and I
remained with them for six months before I could obtain a passage home,
during which I learnt their language, and a very fair allowance of
Spanish to boot. When I arrived in England, I found that the prizes had
been sold, and that the money was ready for distribution. I produced my
certificate, and received £167 for my share. So it's come at last,
thought I.

"I never had such a handful of money in my life; but I hope I shall
again very soon. I spread it out on the table as soon as I got home, and
looked at it, and then I said to myself, 'Now, Terence O'Brien, will you
keep this money to yourself, or send it home?' Then I thought of Father
M'Grath, and the stool that was thrown at my head, and I was very near
sweeping it all back into my pocket. But then I thought of my mother,
and of the cows, and the pig, and the furniture, all gone; and of my
brothers and sisters wanting praties, and I made a vow that I'd send
every farthing of it to them, after which Father M'Grath would no longer
think of not giving me absolution. So I sent them every doit, only
reserving for myself the pay which I had received, amounting to about
£30: and I never felt more happy in my life than when it was safe in the
post-office, and fairly out of my hands. I wrote a bit of a letter to my
father at the time, which was to this purpose:--

  "'HONOURED FATHER,--
  Since our last pleasant meeting, at which you threw the stool at my
  head, missing the pigeon and hitting the crow, I have been dead and
  buried, but am now quite well, thank God, and want no absolution from
  Father M'Grath, bad luck to him. And what's more to the point, I have
  just received a batch of prize-money, the first I have handled since I
  have served his Majesty, and every farthing of which I now send to
  you, that you may get back your old cows, and the pig, and all the
  rest of the articles seized to pay for my fitting out; so never again
  ask me whether I am not ashamed of myself; more shame to you for
  abusing a dutiful son like myself, who went to sea at your bidding,
  and has never had a real good potato down his throat ever since. I'm a
  true O'Brien, tell my mother, and don't mane to turn Protestant, but
  uphold the religion of my country; although the devil may take Father
  M'Grath and his holy water to boot. I sha'n't come and see you, as
  perhaps you may have another stool ready for my head, and may take
  better aim next time.

  So no more at present from your affectionate son, 'TERENCE O'BRIEN.'"

"About three weeks afterwards I received a letter from my father,
telling me that I was a real O'Brien, and that if any one dared hint to
the contrary, he would break every bone in his body; that they had
received the money, and thanked me for a real gentleman as I was; that I
should have the best stool in the house next time I came, not for my
head, but for my tail; that Father M'Grath sent me his blessing, and had
given me absolution for all I had done, or should do for the next ten
years to come; that my mother had cried with joy at my dutiful
behaviour; and that all my brothers and sisters (bating Tim, who had
died the day after I left them) wished me good luck, and plenty more
prize-money to send home to them.

"This was all very pleasant; and I had nothing left on my mind but to
get another ship; so I went to the port-admiral, and told him how it was
that I left my last: and he said, 'that being dead and buried was quite
sufficient reason for any one leaving his ship, and that he would
procure me another, now that I had come to life again.' I was sent on
board of the guard-ship, where I remained about ten days, and then was
sent round to join this frigate--and so my story's ended; and there's
eight bells striking--so the watch is ended too; jump down, Peter, and
call Robinson, and tell him that I'll trouble him to forget to go to
sleep again as he did last time, and leave me here kicking my heels,
contrary to the rules and regulations of the service."



Chapter XIV

The first lieutenant has more patients--Mr Chucks the Boatswain, lets me
into the secret of his gentility.


Before I proceed with my narrative, I wish to explain to the reader that
my history was not written in after-life, when I had obtained a greater
knowledge of the world. When I first went to sea, I promised my mother
that I would keep a journal of what passed, with my reflections upon it.
To this promise I rigidly adhered, and since I have been my own master,
these journals have remained in my possession. In writing, therefore,
the early part of my adventures, everything is stated as it was
impressed on my mind at the time. Upon many points I have since had
reason to form a different opinion from that which is recorded, and upon
many others I have since laughed heartily at my folly and simplicity;
but still, I have thought it advisable to let the ideas of the period
remain, rather than correct them by those of dear-bought experience. A
boy of fifteen, brought up in a secluded country town, cannot be
expected to reason and judge as a young man who has seen much of life,
and passed through a variety of adventures. The reader must therefore
remember, that I have referred to my journal for the opinions and
feelings which guided me between each distinct anniversary of my
existence.

We had now been cruising for six weeks, and I found that my profession
was much more agreeable than I had anticipated. My desire to please was
taken for the deed; and, although I occasionally made a blunder, yet the
captain and first lieutenant seemed to think that I was attentive to my
duty to the best of my ability, and only smiled at my mistakes. I also
discovered, that, however my natural capacity may have been estimated by
my family, that it was not so depreciated here; and every day I felt
more confidence in myself, and hoped, by attention and diligence, to
make up for a want of natural endowment. There certainly is something in
the life of a sailor which enlarges the mind. When I was at home six
months before, I allowed other people to think for me, and acted wholly
on the leading-strings of their suggestions; on board, to the best of my
ability, I thought for myself. I became happy with my messmates--those
who were harsh upon me left off, because I never resented their conduct,
and those who were kind to me were even kinder than before. The time
flew away quickly, I suppose, because I knew exactly what I had to do,
and each day was the forerunner of the ensuing. The first lieutenant was
one of the most amusing men I ever knew, yet he never relaxed from the
discipline of the service, or took the least liberty with either his
superiors or inferiors. His humour was principally shown in his various
modes of punishment; and, however severe the punishment was to the
party, the manner of inflicting it was invariably a source of amusement
to the remainder of the ship's company. I often thought, that although
no individual liked being punished, yet, that all the ship's company
were quite pleased when a punishment took place. He was very particular
about his decks; they were always as white as snow, and nothing
displeased him so much as their being soiled. It was for that reason
that he had such an objection to the use of tobacco. There were
spitting-pans placed in different parts of the decks for the use of the
men, that they might not dirty the planks with the tobacco-juice.
Sometimes a man in his hurry forgot to use these pans, but, as the mess
to which the stain might be opposite had their grog stopped if the party
were not found out, they took good care not only to keep a look-out, but
to inform against the offender. Now the punishment for the offence was
as follows--the man's hands were tied behind his back, and a large tin
spitting-box fixed to his chest by a strap over the shoulders. All the
other boxes on the lower deck were taken away, and he was obliged to
walk there, ready to attend the summons of any man who might wish to
empty his mouth of the tobacco-juice. The other men were so pleased at
the fancy, that they spat twice as much as before, for the pleasure of
making him run about. Mr Chucks, the boatswain, called it "the first
lieutenant's _perambulating_ spitting-pan." He observed to me one day,
"that really Mr Falcon was such an _epicure_ about his decks, that he
was afraid to pudding an anchor on the forecastle."

I was much amused one morning watch that I kept. We were stowing the
hammocks in the quarter-deck nettings, when one of the boys came up with
his hammock on his shoulder, and as he passed the first lieutenant, the
latter perceived that he had a quid of tobacco in his cheek. "What have
you got there, my good lad--a gum-boil?--your cheek is very much
swelled." "No, sir," replied the boy, "there's nothing at all the
matter." "O there must be; it is a bad tooth, then. Open your mouth, and
let me see." Very reluctantly the boy opened his mouth, and discovered a
large roll of tobacco-leaf. "I see, I see," said the first lieutenant,
"your mouth wants overhauling, and your teeth cleaning. I wish we had a
dentist on board; but as we have not, I will operate as well as I can.
Send the armourer up here with his tongs." When the armourer made his
appearance, the boy was made to open his mouth, while the chaw of
tobacco was extracted with his rough instrument. "There now," said the
first lieutenant, "I'm sure that you must feel better already; you never
could have had any appetite. Now, captain of the afterguard, bring a
piece of old canvas and some sand here, and clean his teeth nicely." The
captain of the afterguard came forward, and putting the boy's head
between his knees, scrubbed his teeth well with the sand and canvas for
two or three minutes. "There, that will do," said the first lieutenant.
"Now, my little fellow, your mouth is nice and clean, and you'll enjoy
your breakfast. It was impossible for you to have eaten anything with
your mouth in such a nasty state. When it's dirty again, come to me, and
I'll be your dentist."

One day I was on the forecastle with Mr Chucks, the boatswain, who was
very kind to me. He had been showing me how to make the various knots
and bends of rope which are used in our service. I am afraid that I was
very stupid, but he showed me over and over again, until I learnt how to
make them. Amongst others, he taught me a fisherman's bend, which he
pronounced to be the _king_ of all knots; "and, Mr Simple," continued
he, "there is a moral in that knot. You observe, that when the parts are
drawn the right way, and together, the more you pull the faster they
hold, and the more impossible to untie them; but see, by hauling them
apart, how a little difference, a pull the other way, immediately
disunites them, and then how easy they cast off in a moment. That points
out the necessity of pulling together in this world, Mr Simple, when we
wish to hold on, and that's a piece of philosophy worth all the
twenty-six thousand and odd years of my friend the carpenter, which
leads to nothing but a brown study, when he ought to be attending to his
duty."

"Very true, Mr Chucks, you are the better philosopher of the two."

"I am the better educated, Mr Simple, and I trust, more of a gentleman.
I consider a gentleman to be, to a certain degree, a philosopher, for
very often he is obliged, to support his character as such, to put up
with what another person may very properly fly in a passion about. I
think coolness is the great character-stick of a gentleman. In the
service, Mr Simple, one is obliged to appear angry without indulging the
sentiment. I can assure you, that I never lose my temper, even when I
use my rattan."

"Why, then, Mr Chucks, do you swear so much at the men? Surely that is
not gentlemanly?"

"Most certainly not, sir. But I must defend myself by observing the very
artificial state in which we live on board of a man-of-war. Necessity,
my dear Mr Simple, has no law. You must observe how gently I always
commence when I have to find fault. I do that to prove my gentility;
but, sir, my zeal for the service obliges me to alter my language, to
prove in the end that I am in earnest. Nothing would afford me more
pleasure than to be able to carry on the duty as a gentleman, but that's
impossible."

"I really cannot see why."

"Perhaps, then, Mr Simple, you will explain to me why the captain and
first lieutenant swear."

"That I do not pretend to answer, but they only do so upon an
emergency."

"Exactly so; but, sir, their 'mergency is my daily and hourly duty. In
the continual working of the ship I am answerable for all that goes
amiss. The life of a boatswain is a life of 'mergency, and therefore I
swear."

"I still cannot allow it to be requisite, and certainly it is sinful."

"Excuse me, my dear sir; it is absolutely requisite, and not at all
sinful. There is one language for the pulpit, and another for on board
ship, and, in either situation, a man must make use of those terms most
likely to produce the necessary effect upon his listeners. Whether it is
from long custom of the service, or from the indifference of a sailor to
all common things and language (I can't exactly explain myself, Mr
Simple, but I know what I mean), perhaps constant excitement may do, and
therefore he requires more 'stimilis,' as they call it, to make him
move. Certain it is, that common parlancy won't do with a common seaman.
It is not here as in the scriptures, 'Do this, and he doeth it' (by the
bye, that chap must have had his soldiers in tight order); but it is,
'Do this, d--n your eyes,' and then it is done directly. The order to
_do_ just carries the weight of a cannon-shot, but it wants the
perpelling power--the d--n is the gunpowder which sets it flying in the
execution of its duty. Do you comprehend me, Mr Simple?"

"I perfectly understand you, Mr Chucks, and I cannot help remarking, and
that without flattery, that you are very different from the rest of the
warrant officers. Where did you receive your education?"

"Mr Simple, I am here a boatswain with a clean shirt, and, I say it
myself, and no one dare gainsay it, also with a thorough knowledge of my
duty. But although I do not say that I ever was better off, I can say
this, that I've been in the best society, in the company of lords and
ladies. I once dined with your grandfather."

"That's more than ever I did, for he never asked me, nor took the least
notice of me," replied I.

"What I state is true. I did not know that he was your grandfather until
yesterday, when I was talking with Mr O'Brien; but I perfectly recollect
him, although I was very young at that time. Now, Mr Simple, if you will
promise me as a gentleman (and I know you are one), that you will not
repeat what I tell you, then I'll let you into the history of my life."

"Mr Chucks, as I am a gentleman I never will divulge it until you are
dead and buried, and not then if you do not wish it."

"When I am dead and buried, you may do as you please; it may then be of
service to other people, although my story is not a very long one."

Mr Chucks then sat down upon the fore-end of the booms by the funnel,
and I took my place by his side, when he commenced as follows:--

"My father was a boatswain before me--one of the old school, rough as a
bear, and drunken as a Gosport fiddler. My mother was--my mother, and I
shall say no more. My father was invalided for harbour duty after a life
of intoxication, and died shortly afterwards. In the meantime I had
been, by the kindness of the port-admiral's wife, educated at a
foundation school. I was thirteen when my father died, and my mother,
not knowing what to do with me, wished to bind me apprentice to a
merchant vessel; but this I refused, and, after six months' quarrelling
on the subject, I decided the point by volunteering in the _Narcissus_
frigate. I believe that my gentlemanly ideas were innate, Mr Simple; I
never, as a child, could bear the idea of the merchant service. After I
had been a week on board, I was appointed servant to the purser, where I
gave such satisfaction by my alertness and dexterity, that the first
lieutenant took me away from the purser to attend upon himself, so that
in two months I was a person of such consequence as to create a
disturbance in the gunroom, for the purser was very angry, and many of
the officers took his part. It was whispered that I was the son of the
first lieutenant, and that he was aware of it. How far that may be true
I know not, but there was a likeness between us; and my mother, who was
a very pretty woman, attended his ship many years before as a bumboat
girl. I can't pretend to say anything about it, but this I do say, Mr
Simple--and many will blame me for it, but I can't help my natural
feelings--that I had rather be the bye-blow of a gentleman, than the
'gitimate offspring of a boatswain and his wife. There's no chance of
good blood in your veins in the latter instance, whereas, in the former
you may have stolen a drop or two. It so happened, that after I had
served the first lieutenant for about a year, a young lord (I must not
mention his name, Mr Simple) was sent to sea by his friends, or by his
own choice, I don't know which, but I was told that his uncle, who was
'zeckative, and had an interest in his death, persuaded him to go. A
lord at that period, some twenty-five years ago, was a rarity in the
service, and they used to salute him when he came on board. The
consequence was, that the young lord must have a servant to himself,
although all the rest of the midshipmen had but one servant between
them. The captain inquired who was the best boy in the ship, and the
purser, to whom he appealed, recommended me. Accordingly, much to the
annoyance of the first lieutenant (for first lieutenants in those days
did not assume as they do now, not that I refer to Mr Falcon, who is a
gentleman), I was immediately surrendered to his lordship. I had a very
easy, comfortable life of it--I did little or nothing; if inquired for
when all hands were turned up, I was cleaning his lordship's boots, or
brushing his lordship's clothes, and there was nothing to be said when
his lordship's name was mentioned. We went to the Mediterranean (because
his lordship's mamma wished it), and we had been there about a year,
when his lordship ate so many grapes that he was seized with a
dysentery. He was ill for three weeks, and then he requested to be sent
to Malta in a transport going to Gibraltar, or rather to the Barbary
coast, for bullocks. He became worse every day, and made his will,
leaving me all his effects on board, which I certainly deserved for the
kindness with which I had nursed him. Off Malta we fell in with a
xebeque, bound to Civita Vecchia, and the captain of the transport,
anxious to proceed, advised our going on board of her, as the wind was
light and contrary, and these Mediterranean vessels sailed better on a
wind than the transport. My master, who was now sinking fast, consented,
and we changed our ships. The next day he died, and a gale of wind came
on, which prevented us from gaining the port for several days, and the
body of his lordship not only became so offensive, but affected the
superstition of the Catholic sailors so much, that it was hove
overboard. None of the people could speak English, nor could I speak
Maltese; they had no idea who we were, and I had plenty of time for
cogitation. I had often thought what a fine thing it was to be a lord,
and as often wished that I had been born one. The wind was still against
us, when a merchant vessel ran down to us, that had left Civita Vecchia
for Gibraltar. I desired the captain of the xebeque to make a signal of
distress, or rather I did myself, and the vessel, which proved to be
English, bore down to us.

"I manned the boat to go on board, and the idea came into my head, that,
although they might refuse to take me, they would not refuse a lord. I
put on the midshipman's uniform belonging to his lordship (but then
certainly belonging to me), and went alongside of the merchant vessel; I
told them that I had left my ship for the benefit of my health, and
wanted a passage to Gibraltar, on my way home. My title, and immediate
acceptance of the terms demanded for my passage, was sufficient. My
property was brought from the xebeque; and, of course, as they could not
speak English, they could not contradict, even if they suspected. Here,
Mr Simple, I must acknowledge a slight flaw in my early history, which I
impart to you in confidence; or otherwise I should not have been able to
prove that I was correct in asserting that I had dined with your
grandfather. But the temptation was too strong, and I could not resist.
Think yourself, Mr Simple, after having served as a ship's boy clouted
here, kicked there, damned by one, and sent to hell by another--to find
myself treated with such respect and deference, and my lorded this and
my lorded that, every minute of the day. During my passage to Gibraltar,
I had plenty of time for arranging my plans. I hardly need say that my
lord's _kit_ was valuable; and what was better, they exactly fitted me.
I also had his watches and trinkets, and many other things, besides a
bag of dollars. However, they were honestly mine; the only thing that I
took was his name, which he had no further occasion for, poor fellow!
But it's no use defending what was wrong--it was dishonest, and there's
an end of it.

"Now observe, Mr Simple, how one thing leads to another. I declare to
you, that my first idea of making use of his lordship's name, was to
procure a passage to Gibraltar. I then was undecided how to act; but, as
I had charge of his papers and letters to his mother and guardian, I
think--indeed I am almost sure--that I should have laid aside my dignity
and midshipman's dress, and applied for a passage home to the
commissioner of the yard. But it was fated to be otherwise; for the
master of the transport went on shore to report and obtain pratique, and
he told them everywhere that young Lord A---- was a passenger with him,
going to England for the benefit of his health. In less than
half-an-hour, off came the commissioner's boat, and another boat from
the governor, requesting the honour of my company, and that I would take
a bed at their houses during my stay. What could I do? I began to be
frightened; but I was more afraid to confess that I was an impostor, for
I am sure the master of the transport alone would have kicked me
overboard, if I had let him know that he had been so confounded polite
to a ship's boy. So I blushed half from modesty and half from guilt, and
accepted the invitation of the governor; sending a polite verbal refusal
to the commissioner, upon the plea of there being no paper or pens on
board. I had so often accompanied my late master, that I knew very well
how to conduct myself, and had borrowed a good deal of his air and
appearance--indeed, I had a natural taste for gentility. I could write
and read; not perhaps so well as I ought to have done, considering the
education I had received, but still quite well enough for a lord, and
indeed much better than my late master. I knew his signature well
enough, although the very idea of being forced to use it made me
tremble. However, the die was cast. I ought to observe, that in one
point we were not unlike--both had curly light hair and blue eyes; in
other points there was no resemblance. I was by far the better-looking
chap of the two; and as we had been up the Mediterranean for two years,
I had no fear of any doubt as to my identity until I arrived in England.
Well, Mr Simple, I dressed myself very carefully, put on my chains and
rings, and a little perfume on my handkerchief, and accompanied the
aide-de-camp to the governor's, where I was asked after my mother, Lady
----, and my uncle, my guardian, and a hundred other questions. At
first I was much confused, which was attributed to bashfulness; and so
it was, but not of the right sort. But before the day was over, I had
become so accustomed to be called 'my lord,' and to my situation, that I
was quite at my ease, and began to watch the motions and behaviour of
the company, that I might regulate my comportment by that of good
society. I remained at Gibraltar for a fortnight, and then was offered a
passage in a transport ordered to Portsmouth. Being an officer, of
course it was free to a certain extent. On my passage to England, I
again made up my mind that I would put off my dress and title as soon as
I could escape from observation; but I was prevented as before. The
port-admiral sent off to request the pleasure of my company to dinner. I
dared not refuse; and there I was, my lord, as before, courted and
feasted by everybody. Tradesmen called to request the honour of my
lordship's custom; my table at the hotel was covered with cards of all
descriptions; and, to confess the truth, I liked my situation so much,
and had been so accustomed to it, that I now began to dislike the idea
that one day or other I must resign it, which I determined to do as soon
as I quitted the place. My bill at the hotel was very extravagant, and
more than I could pay: but the master said it was not of the least
consequence; that of course his lordship had not provided himself with
cash, just coming from foreign parts, and offered to supply me with
money if I required it. This, I will say, I was honest enough to refuse.
I left my cards, P.P.C., as they do, Mr Simple, in all well-regulated
society, and set off in the mail for London, where I fully resolved to
drop my title, and to proceed to Scotland to his lordship's mother, with
the mournful intelligence of his death--for you see, Mr Simple, no one
knew that his lordship was dead. The captain of the transport had put
him into the xebeque alive, and the vessel bound to Gibraltar had
received him, as they imagined. The captain of the frigate had very soon
afterwards advices from Gibraltar, stating his lordship's recovery and
return to England. Well, I had not been in the coach more than five
minutes, when who should get in but a gentleman whom I had met at the
port-admiral's; besides which the coachman and others knew me very well.
When I arrived in London (I still wore my midshipman's uniform), I went
to an hotel recommended to me, as I afterwards found out, the most
fashionable in town, my title still following me. I now determined to
put off my uniform, and dress in plain clothes--my farce was over. I
went to bed that night, and the next morning made my appearance in a
suit of mufti, making inquiry of the waiter which was the best
conveyance to Scotland.

"'Post chay and four, my lord. At what time shall I order it?'

"'O,' replied I, 'I am not sure that I shall go tomorrow.'

"Just at this moment in came the master of the hotel, with the _Morning
Post_ in his hand, making me a low bow, and pointing to the insertion of
my arrival at his hotel among the fashionables. This annoyed me; and now
that I found how difficult it was to get rid of my title, I became
particularly anxious to be William Chucks, as before. Before
twelve o'clock, three or four gentlemen were ushered into my
sitting-room, who observing my arrival in that damn'd _Morning Post_,
came to pay their respects; and before the day was over I was invited
and re-invited by a dozen people. I found that I could not retreat, and
I went away with the stream, as I did before at Gibraltar and
Portsmouth. For three weeks I was everywhere; and if I found it
agreeable at Portsmouth, how much more so in London! But I was not
happy, Mr Simple, because I was a cheat, every moment expecting to be
found out. But it really was a nice thing to be a lord.

"At last the play was over. I had been enticed by some young men into a
gambling-house, where they intended to fleece me; but, for the first
night, they allowed me to win, I think, about £300. I was quite
delighted with my success, and had agreed to meet them the next evening;
but when I was at breakfast, with my legs crossed, reading the _Morning
Post_, who should come to see me but my guardian uncle. He knew his
nephew's features too well to be deceived; and my not recognising him
proved at once that I was an impostor. You must allow me to hasten over
the scene which took place--the wrath of the uncle, the confusion in the
hotel, the abuse of the waiters, the police officer, and being dragged
into a hackney coach to Bow-street. There I was examined and confessed
all. The uncle was so glad to find that his nephew was really dead, that
he felt no resentment towards me; and as, after all, I had only assumed
a name, but had cheated nobody, except the landlord at Portsmouth, I was
sent on board the tender off the Tower, to be drafted into a man-of-war.
As for my £300, my clothes, &c., I never heard any more of them; they
were seized, I presume, by the landlord of the hotel for my bill, and
very handsomely he must have paid himself. I had two rings on my
fingers, and a watch in my pocket, when I was sent on board the tender,
and I stowed them away very carefully. I had also a few pounds in my
purse. I was sent round to Plymouth, where I was drafted into a frigate.
After I had been there some time, I turned the watch and rings into
money, and bought myself a good kit of clothes; for I could not bear to
be dirty. I was put into the mizen-top, and no one knew that I had been
a lord."

"You found some difference, I should think, in your situation?"

"Yes, I did, Mr Simple; but I was much happier. I could not forget the
ladies, and the dinners, and the opera, and all the delights of London,
beside the respect paid to my title, and I often sighed for them; but
the police officer and Bow-street also came to my recollection, and I
shuddered at the remembrance. It had, however, one good effect; I
determined to be an officer if I could, and learnt my duty, and worked
my way up to quarter-master, and thence to boatswain--and I know my
duty, Mr Simple. But I've been punished for my folly ever since. I
formed ideas above my station in life, and cannot help longing to be a
gentleman. It's a bad thing for a man to have ideas above his station."

"You certainly must find some difference between the company in London
and that of the warrant officers."

"It's many years back now, sir; but I can't get over the feeling. I
can't 'sociate with them at all. A man may have the feelings of a
gentleman, although in a humble capacity; but how can I be intimate with
such people as Mr Dispart or Mr Muddle, the carpenter? All very well in
their way, Mr Simple, but what can you expect from officers who boil
their 'tators in a cabbage-net hanging in the ship's coppers, when they
know that there is one-third of a stove allowed them to cook their
victuals on?"



Chapter XV

I go on service and am made prisoner by an old lady, who, not able to
obtain my hand, takes part of my finger as a token--O'Brien rescues me--
A lee shore and narrow escape.


Two or three days after this conversation with Mr Chucks, the captain
ran the frigate in shore, and when within five miles we discovered two
vessels under the land. We made all sail in chase, and cut them off from
escaping round a sandy point which they attempted to weather. Finding
that they could not effect their purpose, they ran on shore under a
small battery of two guns, which commenced firing upon us. The first
shot which whizzed between the masts had to me a most terrific sound,
but the officers and men laughed at it, so of course I pretended to do
the same, but in reality I could see nothing to laugh at. The captain
ordered the starboard watch to be piped to quarters, and the boats to be
cleared, ready for hoisting out; we then anchored within a mile of the
battery, and returned the fire. In the meantime, the remainder of the
ship's company hoisted out and lowered down four boats, which were
manned and armed to storm the battery. I was very anxious to go on
service, and O'Brien, who had command of the first cutter, allowed me to
go with him, on condition that I stowed myself away under the
foresheets, that the captain might not see me before the boats had
shoved off. This I did, and was not discovered. We pulled in abreast
towards the battery, and in less than ten minutes the boats were run on
the beach, and we jumped out. The Frenchmen fired a gun at us as we
pulled close to the shore, and then ran away, so that we took possession
without any fighting, which, to confess the truth, I was not sorry for,
as I did not think that I was old or strong enough to cope hand to hand
with a grown-up man. There were a few fishermen's huts close to the
battery, and while two of the boats went on board of the vessels, to see
if they could be got off, and others were spiking the guns and
destroying the carriages, I went with O'Brien to examine them: they were
deserted by the people, as might have been supposed, but there was a
great quantity of fish in them, apparently caught that morning. O'Brien
pointed to a very large skate--"Murder in Irish!" cried he, "it's the
very ghost of my grandmother! we'll have her if it's only for the family
likeness. Peter, put your finger into the gills, and drag her down to
the boat." I could not force my finger into the gills, and as the animal
appeared quite dead, I hooked my finger into its mouth; but I made a sad
mistake, for the animal was alive, and immediately closed its jaws,
nipping my finger to the bone, and holding it so tight that I could not
withdraw it, and the pain was too great to allow me to pull it away by
main force, and tear my finger, which it held so fast. There I was,
caught in a trap, and made a prisoner by a flat-fish. Fortunately, I
hallooed loud enough to make O'Brien, who was close down to the boats,
with a large codfish under each arm, turn round and come to my
assistance. At first he could not help me, from laughing so much; but at
last he forced open the jaw of the fish with his cutlass, and I got my
finger out, but very badly torn indeed. I then took off my garter, tied
it round the tail of the skate, and dragged it to the boat, which was
all ready to shove off. The other boats had found it impossible to get
the vessels off without unloading--so, in pursuance of the captain's
orders, they were set on fire, and before we lost sight of them, had
burnt down to the water's edge. My finger was very bad for three weeks,
and the officers laughed at me very much, saying that I narrowly escaped
being made a prisoner of by an "old maid."

We continued our cruise along the coast, until we had run down into the
Bay of Arcason, where we captured two or three vessels, and obliged many
more to run on shore. And here we had an instance showing, how very
important it is that a captain of a man-of-war should be a good sailor,
and have his ship in such discipline as to be strictly obeyed by his
ship's company. I heard the officers unanimously assert, after the
danger was over, that nothing but the presence of mind which was shown
by Captain Savage could have saved the ship and her crew. We had chased
a convoy of vessels to the bottom of the bay: the wind was very fresh
when we hauled off, after running them on shore, and the surf on the
beach even at that time was so great, that they were certain to go to
pieces before they could be got afloat again. We were obliged to
double-reef the topsails as soon as we hauled to the wind, and the
weather looked very threatening. In an hour afterwards, the whole sky
was covered with one black cloud, which sank so low as nearly to touch
our mast-heads, and a tremendous sea, which appeared to have risen up
almost by magic, rolled in upon us, setting the vessel on a dead lee
shore. As the night closed in, it blew a dreadful gale, and the ship was
nearly buried with the press of canvas which she was obliged to carry;
for had we sea-room, we should have been lying-to under storm staysails;
but we were forced to carry on at all risks, that we might claw off
shore. The sea broke over as we lay in the trough, deluging us with
water from the forecastle, aft to the binnacles; and very often as the
ship descended with a plunge, it was with such force that I really
thought she would divide in half with the violence of the shock. Double
breechings were rove on the guns, and they were further secured with
tackles, and strong cleats nailed behind the trunnions, for we heeled
over so much when we lurched, that the guns were wholly supported by the
breechings and tackles, and had one of them broken loose, it must have
burst right through the lee side of the ship, and she must have
foundered. The captain, first lieutenant, and most of the officers,
remained on deck during the whole of the night; and really, what with
the howling of the wind, the violence of the rain, the washing of the
water about the decks, the working of the chain-pumps, and the creaking
and groaning of the timbers, I thought that we must inevitably have been
lost; and I said my prayers at least a dozen times during the night, for
I felt it impossible to go to bed. I had often wished, out of curiosity,
that I might be in a gale of wind, but I little thought it was to have
been a scene of this description, or anything half so dreadful. What
made it more appalling was, that we were on a lee shore, and the
consultations of the captain and officers, and the eagerness with which
they looked out for daylight, told us that we had other dangers to
encounter besides the storm. At last the morning broke, and the look-out
man upon the gangway called out, "Land on the lee beam." I perceived the
master dash his fist against the hammock-rails, as if with vexation, and
walk away without saying a word, and looking very grave.

"Up, there, Mr Wilson," said the captain, to the second lieutenant, "and
see how far the land trends forward, and whether you can distinguish the
point." The second lieutenant went up the main-rigging, and pointed with
his hand to about two points before the beam.

"Do you see two hillocks inland?"

"Yes, sir," replied the second lieutenant.

"Then it is so," observed the captain to the master, "and if we weather
it, we shall have more sea-room. Keep her full, and let her go through
the water; do you hear, quarter-master?"

"Ay, ay, sir."

"Thus, and no nearer, my man. Ease her with a spoke or two when she
sends; but be careful, or she'll take the wheel out of your hands."

It really was a very awful sight. When the ship was in the trough of the
sea, you could distinguish nothing but a waste of tumultuous water; but
when she was borne up on the summit of the enormous waves, you then
looked down, as it were, upon a low, sandy coast, close to you, and
covered with foam and breakers. "She behaves nobly," observed the
captain, stepping aft to the binnacle, and looking at the compass; "if
the wind does not baffle us, we shall weather." The captain had scarcely
time to make the observation, when the sails shivered and flapped like
thunder. "Up with the helm; what are you about, quarter-master?"

"The wind has headed us, sir," replied the quarter-master, coolly.

The captain and master remained at the binnacle watching the compass,
and when the sails were again full, she had broken off two points, and
the point of land was only a little on the lee bow.

"We must wear her round, Mr Falcon. Hands, wear ship--ready, oh, ready."

"She has come up again," cried the master, who was at the binnacle.

"Hold fast there a minute. How's her head now?"

"N.N.E., as she was before she broke off, sir."

"Pipe belay," said the captain. "Falcon," continued he, "if she breaks
off again we may have no room to wear; indeed there is so little room
now, that I must run the risk. Which cable was ranged last night--the
best bower?"

"Yes, sir."

"Jump down, then, and see it double-bitted and stoppered at thirty
fathoms. See it well done--our lives may depend upon it."

The ship continued to hold her course good; and we were within half a
mile of the point, and fully expected to weather it, when again the wet
and heavy sails flapped in the wind, and the ship broke off two points
as before. The officers and seamen were aghast, for the ship's head was
right on to the breakers. "Luff now, all you can, quarter-master," cried
the captain. "Send the men aft directly. My lads, there is no time for
words--I am going to _club-haul_ the ship, for there is no room to wear.
The only chance you have of safety is to be cool, watch my eye, and
execute my orders with precision. Away to your stations for tacking
ship. Hands by the best bower anchor. Mr Wilson, attend below with the
carpenter and his mates, ready to cut away the cable at the moment that
I give the order. Silence, there, fore and aft. Quarter-master, keep her
full again for stays. Mind you ease the helm down when I tell you."
About a minute passed before the captain gave any further orders. The
ship had closed--to within a quarter of a mile of the beach, and the
waves curled and topped around us, bearing us down upon the shore, which
presented one continued surface of foam, extending to within half a
cable's length of our position. The captain waved his hand in silence to
the quarter-master at the wheel, and the helm was put down. The ship
turned slowly to the wind, pitching and chopping as the sails were
spilling. When she had lost her way, the captain gave the order, "Let go
the anchor. We will haul all at once, Mr Falcon," said the captain. Not
a word was spoken, the men went to the fore brace, which had not been
manned; most of them knew, although I did not, that if the ship's head
did not go round the other way, we should be on shore, and among the
breakers in half a minute. I thought at the time that the captain had
said that he would haul all the yards at once, there appeared to be
doubt or dissent on the countenance of Mr Falcon; and I was afterwards
told that he had not agreed with the captain, but he was too good an
officer, and knew that there was no time for discussion, to make any
remark; and the event proved that the captain was right. At last the
ship was head to wind, and the captain gave the signal. The yards flew
round with such a creaking noise, that I thought the masts had gone over
the side, and the next moment the wind had caught the sails, and the
ship, which for a moment or two had been on an even keel, careened over
to her gunnel with its force. The captain, who stood upon the
weather-hammock rails, holding by the main-rigging, ordered the helm
amidships, looked full at the sails, and then at the cable, which grew
broad upon the weather bow, and held the ship from nearing the shore. At
last he cried, "Cut away the cable!" A few strokes of the axes were
heard, and then the cable flew out of the hawsehole in a blaze of fire,
from the violence of the friction, and disappeared under a huge wave,
which struck us on the chess-tree, and deluged us with water fore and
aft. But we were now on the other tack, and the ship regained her way
and we had evidently increased our distance from the land. "My lads,"
said the captain to the ship's company, "you have behaved well, and I
thank you; but I must tell you honestly that we have more difficulties
to get through. We have to weather a point of the bay on this tack. Mr
Falcon, splice the main-brace, and call the watch. How's her head,
quarter-master?"

"S.W. by S. Southerly, sir."

"Very well; let her go through the water;" and the captain, beckoning to
the master to follow him, went down into the cabin. As our immediate
danger was over, I went down into the berth to see if I could get
anything for breakfast, where I found O'Brien and two or three more.

"By the powers, it was as nate a thing as ever I saw done," observed
O'Brien: "the slightest mistake as to time or management, and at this
moment the flatfish would have been dubbing at our ugly carcases. Peter,
you're not fond of flatfish, are you, my boy? We may thank Heaven and
the captain, I can tell you that, my lads; but now, where's the chart,
Robinson? Hand me down the parallel rules and compasses, Peter; they are
in the corner of the shelf. Here we are now, a devilish sight too near
this infernal point. Who knows how her head is?"

"I do, O'Brien: I heard the quarter-master tell the captain S.W. by S.
Southerly."

"Let me see," continued O'Brien, "variation 2 1/4 lee way--rather too
large an allowance of that, I'm afraid; but, however, we'll give her 2
1/2 points; the _Diomede_ would blush to make any more, under any
circumstances. Here--the compass--now we'll see;" and O'Brien advanced
the parallel rule from the compass to the spot where the ship was placed
on the chart. "Bother! you see it's as much as she'll do to weather the
other point now, on this tack, and that's what the captain meant, when
he told us we had more difficulty. I could have taken my Bible oath that
we were clear of everything, if the wind held."

"See what the distance is, O'Brien," said Robinson. It was measured, and
proved to be thirteen miles. "Only thirteen miles; and if we do weather,
we shall do very well, for the bay is deep beyond. It's a rocky point,
you see, just by way of variety. Well, my lads, I've a piece of comfort
for you, anyhow. It's not long that you'll be kept in suspense, for by
one o'clock this day, you'll either be congratulating each other upon
your good luck, or you'll be past praying for. Come, put up the chart,
for I hate to look at melancholy prospects; and, steward, see what you
can find in the way of comfort." Some bread and cheese, with the remains
of yesterday's boiled pork, were put on the table, with a bottle of rum,
procured at the time they "spliced the mainbrace;" but we were all too
anxious to eat much, and one by one returned on deck to see how the
weather was, and if the wind at all favoured us. On deck the superior
officers were in conversation with the captain, who had expressed the
same fear that O'Brien had in our berth. The men, who knew what they had
to expect--for this sort of intelligence is soon communicated through a
ship--were assembled in knots, looking very grave, but at the same time
not wanting in confidence. They knew that they could trust to the
captain, as far as skill or courage could avail them, and sailors are
too sanguine to despair, even at the last moment. As for myself, I felt
such admiration for the captain, after what I had witnessed that
morning, that, whenever the idea came over me, that in all probability I
should be lost in a few hours, I could not help acknowledging how much
more serious it was that such a man should be lost to his country. I do
not intend to say that it consoled me; but it certainly made me still
more regret the chances with which we were threatened.

Before twelve o'clock, the rocky point which we so much dreaded was in
sight, broad on the lee-bow; and if the low sandy coast appeared
terrible, how much more did this, even at a distance: the black masses
of rock, covered with foam, which each minute dashed up in the air,
higher than our lower mast-heads. The captain eyed it for some minutes
in silence, as if in calculation.

"Mr Falcon," said he at last, "we must put the mainsail on her."

"She never can bear it, sir."

"She _must_ bear it," was the reply. "Send the men aft to the mainsheet.
See that careful men attend the buntlines."

The mainsail was set, and the effect of it upon the ship was tremendous.
She careened over so that her lee channels were under the water, and
when pressed by a sea, the lee-side of the quarter-deck and gangway were
afloat. She now reminded me of a goaded and fiery horse, mad with the
stimulus applied; not rising as before, but forcing herself through
whole seas, and dividing the waves, which poured in one continual
torrent from the forecastle down upon the decks below. Four men were
secured to the wheel--the sailors were obliged to cling, to prevent
being washed away--the ropes were thrown in confusion to leeward, the
shot rolled out of the lockers, and every eye was fixed aloft, watching
the masts, which were expected every moment to go over the side. A heavy
sea struck us on the broadside, and it was some moments before the ship
appeared to recover herself; she reeled, trembled, and stopped her way,
as if it had stupefied her. The first lieutenant looked at the captain,
as if to say, "This will not do." "It is our only chance," answered the
captain to the appeal. That the ship went faster through the water, and
held a better wind, was certain; but just before we arrived at the point
the gale increased in force. "If anything starts, we are lost, sir,"
observed the first lieutenant again.

"I am perfectly aware of it," replied the captain, in a calm tone; "but,
as I said before, and you must now be aware, it is our only chance. The
consequence of any carelessness or neglect in the fitting and securing
of the rigging, will be felt now; and this danger, if we escape it,
ought to remind us how much we have to answer for if we neglect our
duty. The lives of a whole ship's company may be sacrificed by the
neglect or incompetence of an officer when in harbour. I will pay you
the compliment, Falcon, to say, that I feel convinced that the masts of
the ship are as secure as knowledge and attention can make them."

The first lieutenant thanked the captain for his good opinion, and hoped
it would not be the last compliment which he paid him.

"I hope not too; but a few minutes will decide the point."

The ship was now within two cables' lengths of the rocky point; some few
of the men I observed to clasp their hands, but most of them were
silently taking off their jackets, and kicking off their shoes, that
they might not lose a chance of escape provided the ship struck.

"'Twill be touch and go indeed, Falcon," observed the captain (for I had
clung to the belaying-pins, close to them, for the last half-hour that
the mainsail had been set). "Come aft, you and I must take the helm. We
shall want _nerve_ there, and only there, now."

The captain and first lieutenant went aft, and took the forespokes of
the wheel, and O'Brien, at a sign made by the captain, laid hold of the
spokes behind him. An old quarter-master kept his station at the fourth.
The roaring of the seas on the rocks, with the howling of the wind, were
dreadful; but the sight was more dreadful than the noise. For a few
moments I shut my eyes, but anxiety forced me to open them again. As
near as I could judge, we were not twenty yards from the rocks, at the
time that the ship passed abreast of them. We were in the midst of the
foam, which boiled around us; and as the ship was driven nearer to them,
and careened with the wave, I thought that our main-yard-arm would have
touched the rock; and at this moment a gust of wind came on, which laid
the ship on her beam-ends, and checked her progress through the water,
while the accumulated noise was deafening. A few moments more the ship
dragged on, another wave dashed over her and spent itself upon the
rocks, while the spray was dashed back from them, and returned upon the
decks. The main rock was within ten yards of her counter, when another
gust of wind laid us on our beam-ends, the foresail and mainsail split,
and were blown clean out of the bolt-ropes--the ship righted, trembling
fore and aft. I looked astern: the rocks were to windward on our
quarter, and we were safe. I thought at the time, that the ship,
relieved of her courses, and again lifting over the waves, was not a bad
similitude of the relief felt by us all at that moment; and, like her,
we trembled as we panted with the sudden reaction, and felt the removal
of the intense anxiety which oppressed our breasts.

The captain resigned the helm, and walked aft to look at the point,
which was now broad on the weather quarter. In a minute or two, he
desired Mr Falcon to get new sails up and bend them, and then went below
to his cabin. I am sure it was to thank God for our deliverance: I did
most fervently, not only then, but when I went to my hammock at night.
We were now comparatively safe--in a few hours completely so; for
strange to say, immediately after we had weathered the rocks, the gale
abated, and before morning we had a reef out of the topsails. It was my
afternoon watch, and perceiving Mr Chucks on the forecastle, I went
forward to him, and asked him what he thought of it.

"Thought of it, sir!" replied he; "why, I always think bad of it when
the elements won't allow my whistle to be heard; and I consider it
hardly fair play. I never care if we are left to our own exertions; but
how is it possible for a ship's company to do their best, when they
cannot hear the boatswain's pipe? However, God be thanked, nevertheless,
and make better Christians of us all! As for that carpenter, he is mad.
Just before we weathered the point, he told me that it was just the same
27,600 and odd years ago. I do believe that on his death-bed (and he was
not far from a very hard one yesterday), he will tell us how he died so
many thousand years ago, of the same complaint. And that gunner of ours
is a fool. Would you believe it, Mr Simple, he went crying about the
decks, 'O my poor guns, what will become of them if they break loose?'
He appeared to consider it of no consequence if the ship and ship's
company were all lost, provided that his guns were safely landed on the
beach.

"'Mr Dispart,' said I, at last, 'allow me to observe, in the most
delicate way in the world, that you're a d----d old fool.' You see, Mr
Simple, it's the duty of an officer to generalise, and be attentive to
parts, only in consideration of the safety of the whole. I look after my
anchors and cables, as I do after the rigging; not that I care for any
of them in particular, but because the safety of a ship depends upon her
being well found. I might just as well cry because we sacrificed an
anchor and cable yesterday morning, to save the ship from going on
shore."

"Very true, Mr Chucks," replied I.

"Private feelings," continued he, "must always be sacrificed for the
public service. As you know, the lower deck was full of water, and all
our cabins and chests were afloat; but I did not think then about my
shirts, and look at them now, all blowing out in the forerigging,
without a particle of starch left in the collars or the frills. I shall
not be able to appear as an officer ought to do for the whole of the
cruise."

As he said this, the cooper, going forward, passed by him, and jostled
him in passing. "Beg pardon, sir," said the man, "but the ship lurched."

"The ship lurched, did it?" replied the boatswain, who, I am afraid, was
not in the best of humours about his wardrobe. "And pray, Mr Cooper, why
has heaven granted you two legs, with joints at the knees, except to
enable you to counteract the horizontal deviation? Do you suppose they
were meant for nothing but to work round a cask with? Hark, sir, did you
take me for a post to scrub your pig's hide against? Allow me just to
observe, Mr Cooper--just to insinuate, that when you pass an officer, it
is your duty to keep at a respectable distance, and not to soil his
clothes with your rusty iron jacket. Do you comprehend me, sir; or will
this make you recollect in future?" The rattan was raised, and descended
in a shower of blows, until the cooper made his escape into the head.
"There, take that, you contaminating, stave-dubbing, gimlet-carrying,
quintessence of a bung-hole! I beg your pardon, Mr Simple, for
interrupting the conversation, but when duty calls, we must obey."

"Very true, Mr Chucks. It's now striking seven bells, and I must call
the master--so good-by."



Chapter XVI

News from home--A _fatigue_ party employed at Gibraltar--More
particulars in the life of Mr Chucks--A brush with the enemy--A
court-martial and a lasting impression.


A few days afterwards, a cutter joined us from Plymouth, with orders for
the frigate to proceed forthwith to Gibraltar, where we should learn our
destination. We were all very glad of this: for we had had quite enough
of cruising in the Bay of Biscay; and, as we understood that we were to
be stationed in the Mediterranean, we hoped to exchange gales of wind
and severe weather, for fine breezes and a bright sky. The cutter
brought out our letters and newspapers. I never felt more happy than I
did when I found one put into my hands. It is necessary to be far from
home and friends, to feel the real delight of receiving a letter. I went
down into the most solitary place in the steerage, that I might enjoy it
without interruption. I cried with pleasure before I opened it, but I
cried a great deal more with grief, after I had read the contents--for
my eldest brother Tom was dead of a typhus fever. Poor Tom! when I
called to mind what tricks he used to play me--how he used to borrow my
money and never pay me--and how he used to thrash me and make me obey
him, because he was my eldest brother--I shed a torrent of tears at his
loss; and then I reflected how miserable my poor mother must be, and I
cried still more.

"What's the matter, spooney?" said O'Brien, coming up to me. "Who has
been licking you now?"

"O, nobody," replied I; "but my eldest brother Tom is dead, and I have
no other."

"Well, Peter, I dare say that your brother was a very good brother; but
I'll tell you a secret. When you've lived long enough to have a beard to
scrape at, you'll know better than to make a fuss about an elder
brother. But you're a good, innocent boy just now, so I won't thrash you
for it. Come, dry your eyes, Peter, and never mind it. We'll drink his
health and long life to him, after supper, and then never think any more
about it."

I was very melancholy for a few days; but it was so delightful running
down the Portuguese and Spanish coasts, the weather was so warm, and the
sea so smooth, that I am afraid I forgot my brother's death sooner than
I ought to have done; but my spirits were cheered up, and the novelty of
the scene prevented me from thinking. Every one, too, was so gay and
happy, that I could not well be otherwise. In a fortnight, we anchored
in Gibraltar Bay, and the ship was stripped to refit. There was so much
duty to be done, that I did not like to go on shore. Indeed, Mr Falcon
had refused some of my messmates, and I thought it better not to ask,
although I was very anxious to see a place which was considered so
extraordinary. One afternoon, I was looking over the gangway as the
people were at supper, and Mr Falcon came up to me and said, "Well, Mr
Simple, what are you thinking of?" I replied, touching my hat, that I
was wondering how they had cut out the solid rock into galleries, and
that they must be very curious.

"That is to say, that you are very curious to see them. Well, then,
since you have been very attentive to your duty, and have not asked to
go on shore, I will give you leave to go to-morrow morning and stay till
gun-fire."

I was very much pleased at this, as the officers had a general
invitation to dine with the mess, and all who could obtain leave being
requested to come, I was enabled to join the party. The first lieutenant
had excused himself on the plea of there being so much to attend to on
board; but most of the gun-room officers and some of the midshipmen
obtained leave. We walked about the town and fortifications until
dinner-time, and then we proceeded to the barracks. The dinner was very
good, and we were all very merry; but after the dessert had been brought
in, I slipped away with a young ensign, who took me all over the
galleries, and explained everything to me, which was a much better way
of employing my time than doing as the others did, which the reader will
acknowledge. I was at the sally-port before gun-fire--the boat was
there, but no officers made their appearance. The gun fired, the
drawbridge was hauled up, and I was afraid that I should be blamed; but
the boat was not ordered to shove off, as it was waiting for
commissioned officers. About an hour afterwards, when it was quite dark,
the sentry pointed his arms and challenged a person advancing with, "Who
comes there?"--"Naval officer, drunk on a wheelbarrow," was the reply,
in a loud singing voice. Upon which, the sentry recovered his arms,
singing in return, "Pass naval officer, drunk on a wheelbarrow--and
all's well!" and then appeared a soldier in his fatigue dress, wheeling
down the third lieutenant in a wheelbarrow, so tipsy that he could not
stand or speak. Then the sentry challenged again, and the answer was,
"Another naval officer, drunk on a wheelbarrow;" upon which the sentry
replied as before, "Pass, another naval officer, drunk on a wheelbarrow
--and all's well." This was my friend O'Brien, almost as bad as the
third lieutenant; and so they continued for ten minutes, challenging and
passing, until they wheeled down the remainder of the party, with the
exception of the second lieutenant, who walked arm and arm with the
officer who brought down the order for lowering the drawbridge. I was
much shocked, for I considered it very disgraceful; but I afterwards was
told, which certainly admitted of some excuse, that the mess were
notorious for never permitting any of their guests to leave the table
sober. They were all safely put into the boat, and I am glad to say, the
first lieutenant was in bed and did not see them; but I could not help
acknowledging the truth of an observation made by one of the men as the
officers were handed into the boat, "I say, Bill, if _them_ were _we_,
what a precious twisting we should get to-morrow at six bells!"

The ship remained in Gibraltar Bay about three weeks, during which time
we had refitted the rigging fore and aft, restowed and cleaned the hold,
and painted outside. She never looked more beautiful than she did when,
in obedience to our orders, we made sail to join the admiral. We passed
Europa Point with a fair wind, and at sunset we were sixty miles from
the Rock, yet it was distinctly to be seen, like a blue cloud, but the
outline perfectly correct. I mention this, as perhaps my reader would
not have believed that it was possible to see land at such a distance.
We steered for Cape de Gatte, and we were next day close in shore. I was
very much delighted with the Spanish coast, mountain upon mountain, hill
upon hill, covered with vines nearly to their summits. We might have
gone on shore at some places, for at that time we were friendly with
the Spaniards, but the captain was in too great a hurry to join the
admiral. We had very light winds, and a day or two afterwards we were
off Valencia, nearly becalmed. I was on the gangway, looking through a
telescope at the houses and gardens round the city, when Mr Chucks, the
boatswain, came up to me. "Mr Simple, oblige me with that glass a
moment; I wish to see if a building remains there, which I have some
reason to remember."

"What, were you ever on shore there?"

"Yes I was, Mr Simple, and nearly _stranded_, but I got off again
without much damage."

"How do you mean--were you wrecked, then?"

"Not my ship, Mr Simple, but my peace of mind was for some time; but
it's many years ago, when I was first made boatswain of a corvette
(during this conversation he was looking through the telescope); yes,
there it is," said he; "I have it in the field. Look, Mr Simple, do you
see a small church, with a spire of glazed tiles, shining like a
needle?"

"Yes, I do."

"Well, then, just above it, a little to the right, there is a long white
house, with four small windows--below the grove of orange-trees."

"I see it," replied I; "but what about that house, Mr Chucks?"

"Why, thereby hangs a tale," replied he, giving a sigh, which raised and
then lowered the frill of his shirt at least six inches.

"Why, what is the mystery, Mr Chucks?"

"I'll tell you, Mr Simple. With one who lived in that house, I was for
the first, and for the last time, in love."

"Indeed! I should like very much to hear the story."

"So you shall, Mr Simple, but I must beg that you will not mention it,
as young gentlemen are apt to quiz; and I think that being quizzed hurts
my authority with the men. It is now about sixteen years back--we were
then on good terms with the Spaniards, as we are now. I was then little
more than thirty years old, and had just received my warrant as
boatswain. I was considered a well-looking young man at that time,
although lately I have, to a certain degree, got the better of that."

"Well, I consider you a remarkably good-looking man now, Mr Chucks."

"Thank you, Mr Simple, but nothing improves by age, that I know of,
except rum. I used to dress very smart, and 'cut the boatswain' when I
was on shore: and perhaps I had not lost so much of the polish I had
picked up in good society. One evening, I was walking in the Plaza, when
I saw a female ahead, who appeared to be the prettiest moulded little
vessel that I ever cast my eyes on. I followed in her wake, and examined
her: such a clean run I never beheld--so neat, too, in all her rigging--
everything so nicely stowed under hatches. And then, she sailed along in
such a style, at one moment lifting so lightly, just like a frigate,
with her topsails on the caps, that can't help going along. At another
time, as she turned a corner sharp up in the wind--wake as straight as
an arrow--no leeway--I made all sail to sheer alongside of her, and,
when under quarter, examined her close. Never saw such a fine swell in
the counter, and all so trim--no ropes towing overboard. Well, Mr
Simple, I said to myself, 'D--n it, if her figurehead and bows be
finished off by the same builder, she's perfect.' So I shot ahead, and
yawed a little--caught a peep at her through her veil, and saw two black
eyes--as bright as beads, and as large as damsons. I saw quite enough,
and not wishing to frighten her, I dropped astern. Shortly afterwards
she altered her course, steering for that white house. Just as she was
abreast of it, and I playing about her weather quarter, the priests came
by in procession, taking the _host_ to somebody who was dying. My little
frigate lowered her top-gallant sails out of respect, as other nations
used to do, and ought now, and be d----d to them, whenever they pass
the flag of old England--"

"How do you mean?" inquired I.

"I mean that she spread her white handkerchief, which fluttered in her
hand as she went along, and knelt down upon it on one knee. I did the
same, because I was obliged to heave-to to keep my station, and I
thought, that if she saw me, it would please her. When she got up, I was
on my legs also; but in my hurry I had not chosen a very clean place,
and I found out, when I got up again, that my white jean trousers were
in a shocking mess. The young lady turned round, and seeing my
misfortune, laughed, and then went into the white house, while I stood
there like a fool, first looking at the door of the house, and then at
my trousers. However, I thought that I might make it the means of being
acquainted with her, so I went to the door and knocked. An old gentleman
in a large cloak, who was her father, came out; I pointed to my
trousers, and requested him in Spanish to allow me a little water to
clean them. The daughter then came from within, and told her father how
the accident had happened. The old gentleman was surprised that an
English officer was so good a Christian, and appeared to be pleased. He
asked me very politely to come in, and sent an old woman for some water.
I observed that he was smoking a bit of paper, and having very
fortunately about a couple of dozen of real Havannahs in my pocket (for
I never smoke anything else, Mr Simple, it being my opinion that no
gentleman can), I took them out, and begged his acceptance of them. His
eyes glistened at the sight of them, but he refused to take more than
one; however, I insisted upon his taking the whole bundle, telling him
that I had plenty more on board, reserving one for myself, that I might
smoke it with him. He then requested me to sit down, and the old woman
brought some sour wine, which I declared was very good, although it made
me quite ill afterwards. He inquired of me whether I was a good
Christian. I replied that I was. I knew that he meant a Catholic, for
they call us heretics, Mr Simple. The daughter then came in without her
veil, and she was perfection; but I did not look at her, or pay her any
attention after the first salutation, I was so afraid of making the old
gentleman suspicious. He then asked what I was--what sort of officer--
was I captain? I replied that I was not. Was I 'tenente? which means
lieutenant; I answered that I was not, again, but with an air of
contempt, as if I was something better. What was I, then? I did not know
the Spanish for boatswain, and, to tell the truth, I was ashamed of my
condition. I knew that there was an officer in Spain called corregidor,
which means a corrector in English, or one who punishes. Now I thought
that quite near enough for my purpose, and I replied that I was the
corregidor. Now, Mr Simple, a corregidor in Spain is a person of rank
and consequence, so they imagined that I must be the same, and they
appeared to be pleased. The young lady then inquired if I was of good
family--whether I was a gentleman or not. I replied that I hoped so. I
remained with them for half-an-hour more, when my segar was finished; I
then rose, and thanking the old gentleman for his civility, begged that
I might be allowed to bring him a few more segars, and took my leave.
The daughter opened the street door, and I could not refrain from taking
her hand and kissing it--"

"Where's Mr Chucks? call the boatswain there forward," hallooed out the
lieutenant.

"Here I am, sir," replied Mr Chucks, hastening aft, and leaving me and
his story.

"The captain of the maintop reports the breast backstay much chafed in
the serving. Go up and examine it," said the first lieutenant.

"Yes, sir," replied the boatswain, who immediately went up the rigging.

"And, Mr Simple, attend to the men scraping the spots off the
quarter-deck."

"Yes, sir," replied I; and thus our conversation was broken up.

The weather changed that night, and we had a succession of rain and
baffling winds for six or seven days, during which I had no opportunity
of hearing the remainder of the boatswain's history. We joined the fleet
off Toulon, closed the admiral's ship, and the captain went on board to
pay his respects. When he returned, we found out, through the first
lieutenant, that we were to remain with the fleet until the arrival of
another frigate, expected in about a fortnight, and then the admiral had
promised that we should have a cruise. The second day after we had
joined, we were ordered to form part of the in-shore squadron,
consisting of two line-of-battle ships and four frigates. The French
fleet used to come out and manoeuvre within range of their batteries,
or, if they proceeded further from the shore, they took good care that
they had a leading wind to return again into port. We had been in-shore
about a week, every day running close in, and counting the French fleet
in the harbour, to see that they were all safe, and reporting it to the
admiral by signal, when one fine morning, the whole of the French
vessels were perceived to hoist their topsails, and in less than an hour
they were under weigh, and came out of the harbour. We were always
prepared for action, night and day, and, indeed, often exchanged a shot
or two with the batteries when we reconnoitred; the in-shore squadron
could not, of course, cope with the whole French fleet, and our own was
about twelve miles in the offing, but the captain of the line-of-battle
ship who commanded us, hove-to, as if in defiance, hoping to entice them
further out. This was not very easy to do, as the French knew that a
shift of wind might put it out of their power to refuse an action, which
was what they would avoid, and what we were so anxious to bring about. I
say we, speaking of the English, not of myself, for to tell the truth, I
was not so very anxious. I was not exactly afraid, but I had an
unpleasant sensation at the noise of a cannon-ball, which I had not as
yet got over. However, four of the French frigates made sail towards us,
and hove-to, when within four miles, three or four line-of-battle ships
following them as if to support them. Our captain made signal for
permission to close the enemy, which was granted, with our pennants, and
those of another frigate. We immediately made all sail, beat to
quarters, put out the fires, and opened the magazines. The French
line-of-battle ships perceiving that only two of our frigates were sent
against their four, hove-to at about the same distance from their
frigates, as our line-of-battle ships and other frigates were from us.
In the meantime our main fleet continued to work in shore under a press
of sail, and the French main fleet also gradually approached the
detached ships. The whole scene reminded me of the tournaments I had
read of; it was a challenge in the lists, only that the enemy were two
to one; a fair acknowledgment on their parts of our superiority. In
about an hour we closed so near, that the French frigates made sail and
commenced firing. We reserved our fire until within a quarter of a mile,
when we poured our broadside into the headmost frigate, exchanging with
her on opposite tacks. The _Sea-horse_, who followed, also gave her a
broadside. In this way we exchanged broadsides with the whole four, and
we had the best of it, for they could not load so fast as we could. We
were both ready again for the frigates as they passed us, but they were
not ready with their broadside for the _Sea-horse_, who followed us very
closely, so that they had two broadsides each, and we had only four in
the _Diomede_, the _Sea-horse_ not having one. Our rigging was cut up a
great deal, and we had six or seven men wounded, but none killed. The
French frigates suffered more, and their admiral perceiving that they
were cut up a good deal, made a signal of recall. In the meantime we had
both tacked, and were ranging up on the weather quarter of the sternmost
frigate: the line-of-battle ships perceiving this, ran down with the
wind, two points free, to support their frigates, and our in-shore
squadron made all sail to support us, nearly laying up for where we
were. But the wind was what is called at sea a soldier's wind, that is,
blowing so that the ships could lie either way, so as to run out or into
the harbour, and the French frigates, in obedience to their orders, made
sail for their fleet in-shore, the line-of-battle ships coming out to
support them. But our captain would not give it up, although we all
continued to near the French line-of-battle ships every minute--we ran
in with the frigates, exchanging broadsides with them as fast as we
could. One of them lost her foretopmast, and dropped astern, and we
hoped to cut her off, but the others shortened sail to support her. This
continued for about twenty minutes, when the French line-of-battle ships
were not more than a mile from us, and our own commodore had made the
signal of our recall, for he thought that we should be overpowered and
taken. But the _Sea-horse_, who saw the recall up, did not repeat it,
and our captain was determined not to see it, and ordered the signal-man
not to look that way. The action continued, two of the French frigates
were cut to pieces, and complete wrecks, when the French line-of-battle
ships commenced firing. It was then high time to be off. We each of us
poured in another broadside, and then wore round for our own squadron,
which was about four miles off, and rather to leeward, standing in to
our assistance. As we wore round, our main-topmast, which had been badly
wounded, fell over the side, and the French perceiving this, made all
sail, with the hope of capturing us; but the _Sea-horse_ remained with
us, and we threw up in the wind, and raked them until they were within
two cables' lengths of us. Then we stood on for our own ships; at last
one of the line-of-battle ships, which sailed as well as the frigates,
came abreast of us, and poured in a broadside, which brought everything
about our ears, and I thought we must be taken; but on the contrary,
although we lost several men, the captain said to the first lieutenant,
"Now, if they only wait a little longer, they are nabbed, as sure as
fate." Just at this moment, our own line-of-battle ships opened their
fire, and then the tables were turned. The French tacked, and stood in
as fast as they could, followed by the in-shore squadron, with the
exception of our ship, which was too much crippled to chase them. One of
their frigates had taken in tow the other, who had lost her top-mast,
and our squadron came up with her very fast. The English fleet were also
within three miles, standing in, and the French fleet standing out, to
the assistance of the other ships which had been engaged. I thought, and
so did everybody, that there would be a general action, but we were
disappointed; the frigate which towed the other, finding that she could
not escape, cast her off, and left her to her fate, which was to haul
down her colours to the commodore of the in-shore squadron. The chase
was continued until the whole of the French vessels were close under
their batteries, and then our fleet returned to its station with the
prize, which proved to be the _Narcisse_, of thirty-six guns, Captain Le
Pelleteon. Our captain obtained a great deal of credit for his gallant
behaviour. We had three men killed, and Robinson, the midshipman, and
ten men wounded, some of them severely. I think this action cured me of
my fear of a cannon-ball, for during the few days we remained with the
fleet, we often were fired at when we reconnoitred, but I did not care
anything for them. About the time she was expected, the frigate joined,
and we had permission to part company. But before I proceed with the
history of our cruise, I shall mention the circumstances attending a
court-martial, which took place during the time that we were with the
fleet, our captain having been recalled from the in-shore squadron to
sit as one of the members. I was the midshipman appointed to the
captain's gig, and remained on board of the admiral's ship during the
whole of the time that the court was sitting. Two seamen, one an
Englishman, and the other a Frenchman, were tried for desertion from one
of our frigates. They had left their ship about three months, when the
frigate captured a French privateer, and found them on board as part of
her crew. For the Englishman, of course, there was no defence; he
merited the punishment of death, to which he was immediately sentenced.
There may be some excuse for desertion, when we consider that the seamen
are taken into the service by force, but there could be none for
fighting against his country. But the case of the Frenchman was
different. He was born and bred in France, had been one of the crew of
the French gunboats at Cadiz, where he had been made a prisoner by the
Spaniards, and expecting his throat to be cut every day, had contrived
to escape on board of the frigate lying in the harbour, and entered into
our service, I really believe to save his life. He was nearly two years
in the frigate before he could find an opportunity of deserting from
her, and returning to France, when he joined the French privateer.
During the time that he was in the frigate, he bore an excellent
character. The greatest point against him was, that on his arrival at
Gibraltar he had been offered, and had received the bounty. When the
Englishman was asked what he had to say in his defence, he replied that
he had been pressed out of an American ship, that he was an American
born, and that he had never taken the bounty. But this was not true. The
defence of the Frenchman was considered so very good for a person in his
station of life, that I obtained a copy of it, which ran as follows:--

"Mr President, and Officers of the Honourable Court;--It is with the
greatest humility that I venture to address you. I shall be very brief,
nor shall I attempt to disprove the charges which have been made against
me, but confine myself to a few facts, the consideration of which will,
I trust, operate upon your feelings in mitigation of the punishment to
which I may be sentenced for my fault--a fault which proceeded, not from
any evil motive, but from an ardent love for my country. I am by birth a
Frenchman; my life has been spent in the service of France until a few
months after the revolution in Spain, when I, together with those who
composed the French squadron at Cadiz, was made a prisoner. The
hardships and cruel usage which I endured became insupportable. I
effected my escape, and after wandering about the town for two or three
days, in hourly expectation of being assassinated, the fate of too many
of my unfortunate countrymen; desperate from famine, and perceiving no
other chance of escaping from the town, I was reduced to the necessity
of offering myself as a volunteer on board of an English frigate. I
dared not, as I ought to have done, acknowledge myself to have been a
prisoner, from the dread of being delivered up to the Spaniards. During
the period that I served on board of your frigate, I confidently rely
upon the captain and the officers for my character.

"The love of our country, although dormant for a time, will ultimately
be roused, and peculiar circumstances occurred which rendered the
feeling irresistible. I returned to my duty, and for having so done, am
I to be debarred from again returning to that country so dear to me--
from again beholding my aged parents, who bless me in my absence--from
again embracing my brothers and sisters--to end my days upon a scaffold;
not for the crime which I did commit in entering into your service, but
for an act of duty and repentance--that of returning to my own? Allow me
to observe, that the charge against me is not for entering your service,
but for having deserted from it. For the former, not even my misery can
be brought forward but in extenuation; for the latter I have a proud
consciousness, which will, I trust, be my support in my extremity.

"Gentlemen, I earnestly entreat you to consider my situation, and I am
sure that your generous hearts will pity me. Let that love of your
country, which now animates your breasts, and induces you to risk your
lives and your all, now plead for me. Already has British humanity saved
thousands of my countrymen from the rage of the Spaniards; let that same
humanity be extended now, and induce my judges to add one more to the
list of those who, although our nations are at war, if they are endowed
with feeling, can have but one sentiment towards their generous enemy--a
sentiment overpowering all other, that of a deep-felt gratitude."[1]

Whatever may have been the effect of the address upon the court
individually, it appeared at the time to have none upon them as a body.
Both the men were condemned to death, and the day after the morrow was
fixed for their execution. I watched the two prisoners as they went down
the side, to be conducted on board of their own ship. The Englishman
threw himself down in the stern sheets of the boat, every minor
consideration apparently swallowed up in the thought of his approaching
end; but the Frenchman, before he sat down, observing that the seat was
a little dirty, took out his silk handkerchief, and spread it on the
seat, that he might not soil his nankeen trowsers.

I was ordered to attend the punishment on the day appointed. The sun
shone so brightly, and the sky was so clear, the wind so gentle and
mild, that it appeared hardly possible that it was to be a day of such
awe and misery to the two poor men, or of such melancholy to the fleet
in general. I pulled up my boat with the others belonging to the ships
of the fleet, in obedience to the orders of the officer superintending,
close to the fore-chains of the ship. In about half-an-hour afterwards,
the prisoners made their appearance on the scaffold, the caps were
pulled over their eyes, and the gun fired underneath them. When the
smoke rolled away, the Englishman was swinging at the yard-arm, but the
Frenchman was not; he had made a spring when the gun fired, hoping to
break his neck at once, and put an end to his misery; but he fell on the
edge of the scaffold, where he lay. We thought that his rope had given
way, and it appeared that he did the same, for he made an enquiry, but
they returned him no answer. He was kept on the scaffold during the
whole hour that the Englishman remained suspended; his cap had been
removed, and he looked occasionally at his fellow-sufferer. When the
body was lowered down, he considered that his time was come, and
attempted to leap overboard. He was restrained and led aft, where his
reprieve was read to him and his arms were unbound. But the effect of
the shock was too much for his mind; he fell down in a swoon, and when
he recovered, his senses had left him, and I heard that he never
recovered them, but was sent home to be confined as a maniac. I thought,
and the result proved, that it was carried too far. It is not the
custom, when a man is reprieved, to tell him so, until after he is on
the scaffold, with the intention that his awful situation at the time
may make a lasting impression upon him during the remainder of his life;
but, as a foreigner, he was not aware of our customs, and the hour of
intense feeling which he underwent was too much for his reason. I must
say, that this circumstance was always a source of deep regret in the
whole fleet, and that his being a Frenchman, instead of an Englishman,
increased the feeling of commiseration.

[Footnote 1: This is fact.--AUTHOR.]



Chapter XVII

Mr Chucks's opinion on proper names--He finishes his Spanish tale--March
of intellect among the Warrant Officers.


We were all delighted when our signal was hoisted to "part company," as
we anticipated plenty of prize-money under such an enterprising captain.
We steered for the French coast, near to its junction with Spain, the
captain having orders to intercept any convoys sent to supply the French
army with stores and provisions.

The day after we parted company with the fleet, Mr Chucks finished his
story.

"Where was I, Mr Simple, when I left off?" said he, as we took a seat
upon the long eighteen.

"You had just left the house after having told them that you were a
corregidor, and had kissed the lady's hand."

"Very true. Well, Mr Simple, I did not call there for two or three days
afterwards; I did not like to go too soon, especially as I saw the young
lady every day in the Plaza. She would not speak to me, but, to make use
of their expression, 'she gave me her eyes,' and sometimes a sweet
smile. I recollect I was so busy looking at her one day, that I tripped
over my sword, and nearly fell on my nose, at which she burst out a
laughing."

"Your sword, Mr Chucks? I thought boatswains never wore swords."

"Mr Simple, a boatswain is an officer, and is entitled to a sword as
well as the captain, although we have been laughed out of it by a set of
midshipman monkeys. I always wore my sword at that time; but now-a-days,
a boatswain is counted as nobody, unless there is hard work to do, and
then it's Mr Chucks this, and Mr Chucks that. But I'll explain to you
how it is, Mr Simple, that we boatswains have lost so much of
consequence and dignity. The first lieutenants are made to do the
boatswain's duty now-a-days, and if they could only wind the call, they
might scratch the boatswain's name off half the ships' books in his
Majesty's service. But to go on with my yarn. On the fourth day, I
called with my handkerchief full of segars for the father, but he was at
siesta, as they called it. The old serving-woman would not let me in at
first; but I shoved a dollar between her skinny old fingers, and that
altered her note. She put her old head out, and looked round to see if
there was anybody in the street to watch us, and then she let me in and
shut the door. I walked into the room, and found myself alone with
Seraphina."

"Seraphina!--what a fine name!"

"No name can be too fine for a pretty girl, or a good frigate, Mr
Simple; for my part, I'm very fond of these hard names. Your Bess, and
Poll, and Sue, do very well for the Point, or Castle Rag; but in my
opinion, they degrade a lady. Don't you observe, Mr Simple, that all our
gun-brigs, a sort of vessel that will certainly d----n the inventor to
all eternity, have nothing but low common names, such as Pincher,
Thrasher, Boxer, Badger, and all that sort, which are quite good enough
for them; whereas all our dashing saucy frigates have names as long as
the main-top bowling, and hard enough to break your jaw--such as
Melpomeny, Terpsichory, Arethusy, Bacchanty--fine flourishers, as long
as their pennants which dip alongside in a calm."

"Very true," replied I; "but do you think, then, it is the same with
family names?"

"Most certainly, Mr Simple. When I was in good society, I rarely fell in
with such names as Potts or Bell, or Smith or Hodges; it was always Mr
Fortescue, or Mr Fitzgerald, or Mr Fitzherbert--seldom bowed, sir, to
anything under _three_ syllables."

"Then I presume, Mr Chucks, you are not fond of your own name?"

"There you touch me, Mr Simple; but it is quite good enough for a
boatswain," replied Mr Chucks, with a sigh. "I certainly did very wrong
to impose upon people as I did, but I've been severely punished for it--
it has made me discontented and unhappy ever since. Dearly have I paid
for my spree; for there is nothing so miserable as to have ideas above
your station in life, Mr Simple. But I must make sail again. I was three
hours with Seraphina before her father came home, and during that time I
never was quietly at an anchor for above a minute. I was on my knees,
vowing and swearing, kissing her feet and kissing her hand, till at last
I got to her lips, working my way up as regularly as one who gets in at
the hawsehole and crawls aft to the cabin windows. She was very kind,
and she smiled, and sighed, and pushed me off, and squeezed my hand, and
was angry--frowning till I was in despair, and then making me happy
again with her melting dark eyes beaming kindly, till at last she said
that she would try to love me, and asked me whether I would marry her
and live in Spain. I replied that I would; and, indeed, I felt as if I
could, only at the time the thought occurred to me where the rhino was
to come from, for I could not live, as her father did, upon a paper
segar and a piece of melon per day. At all events, as far as words went,
it was a settled thing. When her father came home, the old servant told
him that I had just at that moment arrived, and that, his daughter was
in her own room; so she was, for she ran away as soon as she heard her
father knock. I made my bow to the old gentleman, and gave him the
segars. He was serious at first, but the sight of them put him into good
humour, and in a few minutes Donna Seraphina (they call a lady a Donna
in Spain) came in, saluting me ceremoniously, as if we had not been
kissing for the hour together. I did not remain long, as it was getting
late, so I took a glass of the old gentleman's sour wine, and walked
off, with a request from him to call again, the young lady paying me
little or no attention during the time that I remained, or at my
departure."

"Well, Mr Chucks," observed I, "it appears to me that she was a very
deceitful young person."

"So she was, Mr Simple; but a man in love can't see, and I'll tell you
why. If he wins the lady, he is as much in love with himself as with
her, because he is so proud of his conquest. That was my case. If I had
had my eyes, I might have seen that she who could cheat her old father
for a mere stranger, would certainly deceive him in his turn. But if
love makes a man blind, vanity, Mr Simple, makes him blinder. In short,
I was an ass."

"Never mind, Mr Chucks, there was a good excuse for it."

"Well, Mr Simple, I met her again and again, until I was madly in love,
and the father appeared to be aware of what was going on, and to have no
objection. However, he sent for a priest to talk with me, and I again
said that I was a good Catholic. I told him that I was in love with the
young lady, and would marry her. The father made no objection on my
promising to remain in Spain, for he would not part with his only
daughter. And there again I was guilty of deceit, first, in making a
promise I did not intend to keep, and then in pretending that I was a
Catholic. Honesty is the best policy, Mr Simple, in the long run, you
may depend upon it."

"So my father has always told me, and I have believed him," replied I.

"Well, sir, I am ashamed to say that I did worse; for the priest, after
the thing was settled, asked me whether I had confessed lately. I knew
what he meant, and answered that I had not. He motioned me down on my
knees; but, as I could not speak Spanish enough for that, I
mumbled-jumbled something or another, half Spanish and half English, and
ended with putting four dollars in his hand for _carita_, which means
charity. He was satisfied at the end of my confession, whatever he might
have been at the beginning, and gave me absolution, although he could
not have understood what my crimes were; but four dollars, Mr Simple,
will pay for a deal of crime in that country. And now, sir, comes the
winding up of this business. Seraphina told me that she was going to the
opera with some of her relations, and asked me if I would be there; that
the captain of the frigate, and all the other officers were going, and
that she wished me to go with her. You see, Mr Simple, although
Seraphina's father was so poor, that a mouse would have starved in his
house, still he was of good family, and connected with those who were
much better off. He was a Don himself, and had fourteen or fifteen long
names, which I forget now. I refused to go with her, as I knew that the
service would not permit a boatswain to sit in an opera-box, when the
captain and first lieutenant were there. I told her that I had promised
to go on board and look after the men while the captain went on shore;
thus, as you'll see, Mr Simple, making myself a man of consequence, only
to be more mortified in the end. After she had gone to the opera, I was
very uncomfortable: I was afraid that the captain would see her, and
take a fancy to her. I walked up and down, outside, until I was so full
of love and jealousy that I determined to go into the pit and see what
she was about. I soon discovered her in a box, with some other ladies,
and with them were my captain and first lieutenant. The captain, who
spoke the language well, was leaning over her, talking and laughing, and
she was smiling at what he said. I resolved to leave immediately, lest
she should see me and discover that I had told her a falsehood; but they
appeared so intimate that I became so jealous I could not quit the
theatre. At last she perceived me, and beckoned her hand; I looked very
angry, and left the theatre cursing like a madman. It appeared that she
pointed me out to the captain, and asked him who I was; he told her my
real situation on board, and spoke of me with contempt. She asked
whether I was not a man of family; at this the captain and first
lieutenant both burst out laughing, and said that I was a common sailor
who had been promoted to a higher rank for good behaviour--not exactly
an officer, and anything but a gentleman. In short, Mr Simple, I was
_blown upon_, and, although the captain said more than was correct, as
I learnt afterwards through the officers, still I deserved it.
Determined to know the worst, I remained outside till the opera was
over, when I saw her come out, the captain and first lieutenant walking
with the party--so that I could not speak with her. I walked to a posada
(that's an inn), and drank seven bottles of rosolio to keep myself
quiet; then I went on board, and the second lieutenant, who was
commanding officer, put me under arrest for being intoxicated. It was a
week before I was released; and you can't imagine what I suffered, Mr
Simple. At last, I obtained leave to go on shore, and I went to the
house to decide my fate. The old woman opened the door, and then calling
me a thief, slammed it in my face; as I retreated, Donna Seraphina came
to the window, and, waving her hand with a contemptuous look, said, 'Go,
and God be with you, Mr Gentleman.' I returned on board in such a rage,
that if I could have persuaded the gunner to have given me a ball
cartridge, I should have shot myself through the head. What made the
matter worse, I was laughed at by everybody in the ship, for the captain
and first lieutenant had made the story public."

"Well, Mr Chucks," replied I, "I cannot help being sorry for you,
although you certainly deserved to be punished for your dishonesty. Was
that the end of the affair?"

"As far as I was concerned it was, Mr Simple; but not as respected
others. The captain took my place, but without the knowledge of the
father. After all, they neither had great reason to rejoice at the
exchange."

"How so, Mr Chucks--what do you mean?"

"Why, Mr Simple, the captain did not make an honest woman of her, as I
would have done; and the father discovered what was going on, and one
night the captain was brought on board run through the body. We sailed
immediately for Gibraltar, and it was a long while before he got round
again: and then he had another misfortune."

"What was that?"

"Why he lost his boatswain, Mr Simple; for I could not bear the sight of
him--and then he lost (as you must know, not from your own knowledge,
but from that of others) a boatswain who knows his duty."

"Every one says so, Mr Chucks. I'm sure that our captain would be very
sorry to part with you."

"I trust that every captain has been with whom I've sailed, Mr Simple.
But that was not all he lost, Mr Simple; for the next cruise he lost his
masts; and the loss of his masts occasioned the loss of his ship, since
which he has never been trusted with another, but is laid on the shelf.
Now he never carried away a spar of any consequence during the whole
time that I was with him. A mast itself is nothing, Mr Simple--only a
piece of wood--but fit your rigging properly, and then a mast is strong
as a rock. Only ask Mr Faulkner, and he'll tell you the same; and I
never met an officer who knew better how to support a mast."

"Did you ever hear any more of the young lady?"

"Yes; about a year afterwards I returned there in another ship. She had
been shut up in a convent, and forced to take the veil. Oh, Mr Simple!
if you knew how I loved that girl! I have never been more than polite to
a woman since, and shall die a bachelor. You can't think how I was
capsized the other day, when I looked at the house; I have hardly
touched beef or pork since, and am in debt two quarts of rum more than
my allowance. But, Mr Simple, I have told you this in confidence, and I
trust you are too much of a gentleman to repeat it; for I cannot bear
quizzing from young midshipmen."

I promised that I would not mention it, and I kept my word; but
circumstances which the reader will learn in the sequel have freed me
from the condition. Nobody can quiz him now.

We gained our station off the coast of Perpignan; and as soon as we made
the land, we were most provokingly driven off by a severe gale. I am not
about to make any remarks about the gale, for one storm is so like
another; but I mention it, to account for a conversation which took
place, and with which I was very much amused. I was near to the captain
when he sent for Mr Muddle, the carpenter, who had been up to examine
the main-topsail yard, which had been reported as sprung.

"Well, Mr Muddle," said the captain.

"Sprung, sir, most decidedly; but I think we'll be able to _mitigate_
it."

"Will you be able to secure it for the present, Mr Muddle?" replied the
captain, rather sharply.

"We'll _mitigate_ it, sir, in half an hour."

"I wish that you would use common phrases when you speak to me, Mr
Muddle. I presume, by mitigate, you mean to say that you can secure it.
Do you mean so, sir, or do you not?"

"Yes, sir, that is what I mean, most decidedly. I hope no offence,
Captain Savage; but I did not intend to displease you by my language."

"Very good, Mr Muddle," replied the captain; "it's the first time that I
have spoken to you on the subject, recollect that it will be the last."

"The first time!" replied the carpenter, who could not forget his
philosophy; "I beg your pardon, Captain Savage, you found just the same
fault with me on this quarter-deck 27,672 years ago, and--"

"If I did, Mr Muddle," interrupted the captain, very angrily, "depend
upon it that at the same time I ordered you to go aloft, and attend to
your duty, instead of talking nonsense on the quarter-deck; and,
although, as you say, you and I cannot recollect it, if you did not obey
that order instantaneously, I also put you in confinement, and obliged
you to leave the ship as soon as she returned to port. Do you understand
me, sir?"

"I rather think, sir," replied the carpenter, humbly touching his hat,
and walking to the main rigging, "that no such thing took place, for I
went up immediately, as I do now; and," continued the carpenter, who was
incurable, as he ascended the rigging, "as I shall again in another
27,672 years."

"That man is incorrigible with his confounded nonsense," observed the
captain to the first lieutenant. "Every mast in the ship would go over
the side, provided he could get any one to listen to his ridiculous
theory."

"He is not a bad carpenter, sir," replied the first lieutenant.

"He is not," rejoined the captain; "but there is a time for all things."

Just at this moment, the boatswain came down the rigging.

"Well, Mr Chucks, what do you think of the yard? Must we shift it?"
inquired the captain.

"At present, Captain Savage," replied the boatswain, "I consider it to
be in a state which may be called precarious, and not at all permanent;
but, with a little human exertion, four fathom of three-inch, and
half-a-dozen tenpenny nails, it may last, for all I know, until it is
time for it to be sprung again."

"I do not understand you, Mr Chucks. I know no time when a yard ought to
be sprung."

"I did not refer to our time, sir," replied the boatswain, "but to the
27,672 years of Mr Muddle, when--"

"Go forward immediately, sir, and attend to your duty," cried the
captain, in a very angry voice; and then he said to the first
lieutenant, "I believe the warrant officers are going mad. Who ever
heard a boatswain use such language--'precarious and not at all
permanent?' His stay in the ship will become so, if he does not mind
what he is about."

"He is a very odd character, sir," replied the first lieutenant; "but I
have no hesitation in saying that he is the best boatswain in his
majesty's service."

"I believe so too," replied the captain; "but--well, every one has his
faults. Mr Simple, what are you about sir?"

"I was listening to what you said," replied I, touching my hat.

"I admire your candour, sir," replied he, "but advise you to discontinue
the practice. Walk over to leeward, sir, and attend to your duty."

When I was on the other side of the deck, I looked round, and saw the
captain and first lieutenant both laughing.



Chapter XVIII

I go away on service, am wounded and taken prisoner with O'Brien--
Diamond cut diamond between the O'Briens--Get into comfortable quarters
--My first interview with Celeste.


And now I have to relate an event, which, young as I was at the time,
will be found to have seriously affected me in after life. How little do
we know what to-morrow may bring forth! We had regained our station, and
for some days had been standing off and on the coast, when one morning
at daybreak, we found ourselves about four miles from the town of Cette,
and a large convoy of vessels coming round a point. We made all sail in
chase, and they anchored close in shore, under a battery, which we did
not discover until it opened fire upon us. The shot struck the frigate
two or three times, for the water was smooth, and the battery nearly
level with it. The captain tacked the ship, and stood out again, until
the boats were hoisted out, and all ready to pull on shore and storm the
battery. O'Brien, who was the officer commanding the first cutter on
service, was in his boat, and I again obtained permission from him to
smuggle myself into it.

"Now, Peter, let's see what kind of a fish you'll bring on board this
time," said he, after we had shoved off: "or may be, the fish will not
let you off quite so easy." The men in the boat all laughed at this, and
I replied, "That I must be more seriously wounded than I was last time,
to be made a prisoner." We ran on shore, amidst the fire of the
gunboats, who protected the convoy, by which we lost three men, and made
for the battery, which we took without opposition, the French
artillery-men running out as we ran in. The directions of the captain
were very positive, not to remain in the battery a minute after it was
taken, but to board the gunboats, leaving only one of the small boats,
with the armourer to spike the guns, for the captain was aware that
there were troops stationed along the coast, who might come down upon us
and beat us off. The first lieutenant, who commanded, desired O'Brien to
remain with the first cutter, and after the armourer had spiked the
guns, as officer of the boat he was to shove off immediately. O'Brien
and I remained in the battery with the armourer, the boat's crew being
ordered down to the boat, to keep her afloat, and ready to shove off at
a moment's warning. We had spiked all the guns but one, when all of a
sudden a volley of musketry was poured upon us, which killed the
armourer, and wounded me in the leg above the knee. I fell down by
O'Brien, who cried out, "By the powers! here they are, and one gun not
spiked." He jumped down, wrenched the hammer from the armourer's hand,
and seizing a nail from the bag, in a few moments he had spiked the gun.
At this time I heard the tramping of the French soldiers advancing, when
O'Brien threw away the hammer, and lifting me upon his shoulders, cried,
"Come along, Peter, my boy," and made for the boat as fast as he could;
but he was too late; he had not got half way to the boat, before he was
collared by two French soldiers, and dragged back into the battery. The
French troops then advanced, and kept up a smart fire: our cutter
escaped, and joined the other boat, who had captured the gun-boats and
convoy with little opposition. Our large boats had carronades mounted in
their bows, and soon returned the fire with round and grape, which drove
the French troops back into the battery, where they remained, popping at
our men under cover, until most of the vessels were taken out; those
which they could not man were burnt.

In the meantime, O'Brien had been taken into the battery, with me on his
back; but as soon as he was there, he laid me gently down, saying,
"Peter, my boy, as long as you were under my charge, I'd carry you
through thick and thin; but now that you are under the charge of these
French beggars, why let them carry you. Every man his own bundle, Peter,
that's fair play, so if they think you're worth the carrying, let them
bear the weight of ye."

"And suppose they do not, O'Brien, will you leave me here?"

"Will I lave you, Peter! not if I can help it, my boy; but they won't
leave you, never fear them; prisoners are so scarce with them, that they
would not leave the captain's monkey, if he were taken."

As soon as our boats were clear of their musketry, the commanding
officer of the French troops examined the guns in the battery, with the
hope of reaching them, and was very much annoyed to find that every one
of them was spiked. "He'll look sharper than a magpie before he finds a
clear touch-hole, I expect," said O'Brien, as he watched the officer.
And here I must observe, that O'Brien showed great presence of mind in
spiking the last gun; for had they had one gun to fire at our boats
towing out the prizes, they must have done a great deal of mischief to
them, and we should have lost a great many men; but in so doing, and in
the attempt to save me, he sacrificed himself, and was taken prisoner.
When the troops ceased firing, the commanding officer came up to
O'Brien, and looking at him, said, "Officer?" to which O'Brien nodded
his head. He then pointed to me--"Officer?" O'Brien nodded his head
again, at which the French troops laughed, as O'Brien told me
afterwards, because I was what they called an _enfant_, which means an
infant. I was very stiff, and faint, and could not walk. The officer who
commanded the troops left a detachment in the battery, and prepared to
return to Cette, from whence they came. O'Brien walked, and I was
carried on three muskets by six of the French soldiers--not a very
pleasant conveyance at any time, but in my state excessively painful.
However, I must say, that they were very kind to me, and put a great
coat or something under my wounded leg, for I was in an agony, and
fainted several times. At last they brought me some water to drink. O
how delicious it was! I have often thought since, when I have been in
company, where people fond of good living have smacked their lips at
their claret, that if they could only be wounded, and taste a cup of
water, they would then know what it was to feel a beverage grateful. In
about an hour and a half, which appeared to me to be five days at the
least, we arrived at the town of Cette, and I was taken up to the house
of the officer who commanded the troops, and who had often looked at me
as I was carried there from the battery, saying, "_Pauvre enfant_!" I
was put on a bed, where I again fainted away. When I came to my senses,
I found a surgeon had bandaged my leg, and that I had been undressed.
O'Brien was standing by me, and I believe that he had been crying, for
he thought that I was dead. When I looked him in the face, he said,
"Pater, you baste, how you frightened me: bad luck to me if ever I take
charge of another youngster. What did you sham dead for?"

"I am better now, O'Brien," replied I, "how much I am indebted to you:
you have been made prisoner in trying to save me."

"I have been made prisoner in doing my duty, in one shape or another. If
that fool of an armourer hadn't held his hammer so tight, after he was
dead, and it was of no use to him, I should have been clear enough, and
so would you have been! but, however, all this is nothing at all, Peter;
as far as I can see, the life of a man consists in getting into scrapes,
and getting out of them. By the blessing of God, we've managed the
first, and by the blessing of God we'll manage the second also; so be
smart, my honey, and get well, for although a man may escape by running
away on two legs, I never heard of a boy who hopped out of a French
prison upon one."

I squeezed the offered hand of O'Brien, and looked round me; the surgeon
stood at one side of the bed, and the officer who commanded the troops
at the other. At the head of the bed was a little girl about twelve
years old, who held a cup in her hand, out of which something had been
poured down my throat. I looked at her, and she had such pity in her
face, which was remarkably handsome, that she appeared to me as an
angel, and I turned round as well as I could, that I might look at her
alone. She offered me the cup, which I should have refused from any one
but her, and I drank a little. Another person then came into the room,
and a conversation took place in French.

"I wonder what they mean to do with us," said I to O'Brien.

"Whist, hold your tongue," replied he; and then he leaned over me, and
said in a whisper, "I understand all they say; don't you recollect, I
told you that I learnt the language after I was kilt and buried in the
sand, in South America?" After a little more conversation, the officer
and the others retired, leaving nobody but the little girl and O'Brien
in the room.

"It's a message from the governor," said O'Brien, as soon as they were
gone, "wishing the prisoners to be sent to the gaol in the citadel, to
be examined; and the officer says (and he's a real gentleman, as far as
I can judge) that you're but a baby, and badly wounded in the bargain,
and that it would be a shame not to leave you to die in peace; so I
presume that I'll part company from you very soon."

"I hope not, O'Brien," replied I; "if you go to prison, I will go also,
for I will not leave you, who are my best friend, to remain with
strangers; I should not be half so happy, although I might have more
comforts in my present situation."

"Pater, my boy, I am glad to see that your heart is in the right place,
as I always thought it was, or I wouldn't have taken you under my
protection. We'll go together to prison, my jewel, and I'll fish at the
bars with a bag and a long string, just by way of recreation, and to
pick up a little money to buy you all manner of nice things; and when
you get well, you shall do it yourself, mayhap you'll have better luck,
as Peter your namesake had, who was a fisherman before you. There's
twice as much room in one of the cells as there is in a midshipman's
berth, my boy; and the prison yards, where you are allowed to walk, will
make a dozen quarter-decks, and no need of touching your hat out of
respect when you go into it. When a man has been cramped up on board of
a man-of-war, where midshipmen are stowed away like pilchards in a cask,
he finds himself quite at liberty in a prison, Peter. But somehow or
another, I think we mayn't be parted yet, for I heard the officer (who
appears to be a real gentleman, and worthy to have been an Irishman
born) say to the other, that he'd ask the governor for me to stay with
you on parole, until you are well again." The little girl handed me the
lemonade, of which I drank a little, and then I felt very faint again. I
laid my head on the pillow, and O'Brien having left off talking, I was
soon in a comfortable sleep. In an hour I was awakened by the return of
the officer, who was accompanied by the surgeon. The officer addressed
O'Brien in French who shook his head as before.

"Why don't you answer, O'Brien," said I, "since you understand him?"

"Peter, recollect that I cannot speak a word of their lingo; then I
shall know what they say before us, and they won't mind what they say,
supposing I do not understand them."

"But is that honest, O'Brien?"

"Is it honest you mean? If I had a five-pound note in my pocket, and
don't choose to show it to every fellow that I meet--is that dishonest?"

"To be sure it's not."

"And a'n't that what the lawyers call a case in pint?"

"Well," replied I, "if you wish it, I shall of course say nothing; but I
think that I should tell them, especially as they are so kind to us."

During this conversation, the officer occasionally spoke to the surgeon,
at the same time eyeing us, I thought, very hard. Two other persons then
came into the room; one of them addressed O'Brien in very bad English,
saying, that he was interpreter, and would beg him to answer a few
questions. He then inquired the name of our ship, number of guns, and
how long we had been cruising. After that, the force of the English
fleet, and a great many other questions relative to them; all of which
were put in French by the person who came with him, and the answer
translated, and taken down in a book. Some of the questions O'Brien
answered correctly, to others he pleaded ignorance; and to some, he
asserted what was not true. But I did not blame him for that, as it was
his duty not to give information to the enemy. At last they asked my
name, and rank, which O'Brien told them. "Was I noble?"

"Yes," replied O'Brien.

"Don't say so, O'Brien," interrupted I.

"Peter, you know nothing about it, you are grandson to a lord."

"I know that, but still I am not noble myself, although descended from
him; therefore pray don't say so."

"Bother! Pater, I have said it, and I won't unsay it; besides, Pater,
recollect it's a French question, and in France you would be considered
noble. At all events, it can do no harm."

"I feel too ill to talk, O'Brien; but I wish you had not said so."

They then inquired O'Brien's name, which he told them; his rank in the
service, and also, whether he was noble.

"I am an O'Brien," replied he; "and pray what's the meaning of the O
before my name, if I'm not noble? However, Mr Interpreter, you may add,
that we have dropped our title because it's not convanient." The French
officer burst out into a loud laugh, which surprised us very much. The
interpreter had great difficulty in explaining what O'Brien said; but as
O'Brien told me afterwards, the answer was put down _doubtful_.

They all left the room except the officer, who then, to our
astonishment, addressed us in good English. "Gentlemen, I have obtained
permission from the governor for you to remain in my house, until Mr
Simple is recovered. Mr O'Brien, it is necessary that I should receive
your parole of honour that you will not attempt to escape. Are you
willing to give it?"

O'Brien was quite amazed; "Murder an' Irish," cried he; "so you speak
English, colonel. It was not very genteel of you not to say so,
considering how we've been talking our little secrets together."

"Certainly, Mr O'Brien, not more necessary," replied the officer,
smiling, "than for you to tell me that you understood French."

"O, bother!" cried O'Brien, "how nicely I'm caught in my own trap!
You're an Irishman, sure?"

"I'm of Irish descent," replied the officer, "and my name, as well as
yours, is O'Brien. I was brought up in this country, not being permitted
to serve my own, and retain the religion of my forefathers. I may now be
considered as a Frenchman, retaining nothing of my original country,
except the language, which my mother taught me, and a warm feeling
towards the English wherever I meet them. But to the question, Mr
O'Brien, will you give your parole?"

"The word of an Irishman, and the hand to boot," replied O'Brien,
shaking the colonel by the hand; "and you're more than doubly sure, for
I'll never go away and leave little Peter here; and as for carrying him
on my back, I've had enough of that already."

"It is sufficient," replied the colonel. "Mr O'Brien, I will make you as
comfortable as I can; and when you are tired of attending your friend,
my little daughter shall take your place. You'll find her a kind little
nurse, Mr Simple."

I could not refrain from tears at the colonel's kindness: he shook me by
the hand; and telling O'Brien that dinner was ready, he called up his
daughter, the little girl who had attended me before; and desired her to
remain in the room. "Celeste," said he, "you understand a little
English; quite enough to find out what he is in want of. Go and fetch
your work, to amuse yourself when he is asleep." Celeste went out, and
returning with her embroidery, sat down by the head of the bed: the
colonel and O'Brien then quitted the room. Celeste then commenced her
embroidery, and as her eyes were cast down upon her work, I was able to
look at her without her observing it. As I said before, she was a very
beautiful little girl; her hair was light brown, eyes very large, and
eyebrows drawn as with a pair of compasses; her nose and mouth were also
very pretty; but it was not so much her features as the expression of
her countenance, which was so beautiful, so modest, so sweet, and so
intelligent. When she smiled, which she almost always did when she
spoke, her teeth were like two rows of little pearls.

I had not looked at her long, before she raised her eyes from her work,
and perceiving that I was looking at her, said, "You want--something--
want drink--I speak very little English."

"Nothing, I thank ye," replied I; "I only want to go to sleep."

"Then--shut--your--eye," replied she smiling; and she went to the
window, and drew down the blinds to darken the room. But I could not
sleep; the remembrance of what had occurred--in a few hours wounded, and
a prisoner--the thought of my father and mother's anxiety; with the
prospect of going to a prison and close confinement, as soon as I was
recovered, passed in succession in my mind, and, together with the
actual pain of my wound, prevented me from obtaining any rest. The
little girl several times opened the curtain to ascertain whether I
slept or wanted anything, and then as softly retired. In the evening,
the surgeon called again; he felt my pulse, and directing cold
applications to my leg, which had swelled considerably, and was becoming
very painful, told Colonel O'Brien, that, although I had considerable
fever, I was doing as well as could be expected under the circumstances.

But I shall not dwell upon my severe sufferings for a fortnight, after
which the ball was extracted; nor upon how carefully I was watched by
O'Brien, the colonel, and little Celeste, during my peevishness and
irritation, arising from pain and fever. I feel grateful to them, but
partiqularly [sic] to Celeste, who seldom quitted me for more than
half-an-hour, and, as I gradually recovered, tried all she could to
amuse me.



Chapter XIX

We remove to very unpleasant quarters--Birds of a feather won't always
flock together--O'Brien cuts a cutter midshipman, and gets a taste of
French steel--Altogether _flat_ work--A walk into the interior.


As soon as I was well enough to attend to my little nurse, we became
very intimate, as might be expected. Our chief employment was teaching
each other French and English. Having the advantage of me in knowing a
little before we met, and also being much quicker of apprehension, she
very soon began to speak English fluently, long before I could make out
a short sentence in French. However, as it was our chief employment, and
both were anxious to communicate with each other, I learnt it very fast.
In five weeks I was out of bed, and could limp about the room; and
before two months were over, I was quite recovered. The colonel,
however, would not report me to the governor; I remained on a sofa
during the day, but at dusk I stole out of the house, and walked about
with Celeste. I never passed such a happy time as the last fortnight;
the only drawback was the remembrance that I should soon have to
exchange it for a prison. I was more easy about my father and mother, as
O'Brien had written to them, assuring them that I was doing well; and
besides, a few days after our capture, the frigate had run in, and sent
a flag of truce to inquire if we were alive or made prisoners; at the
same time Captain Savage sent on shore all our clothes, and two hundred
dollars in cash for our use. I knew that even if O'Brien's letter did
not reach them, they were sure to hear from Captain Savage that I was
doing well. But the idea of parting with Celeste, towards whom I felt
such gratitude and affection, was most painful; and when I talked about
it, poor Celeste would cry so much, that I could not help joining her,
although I kissed away her tears. At the end of twelve weeks, the
surgeon could no longer withhold his report, and we were ordered to be
ready in two days to march to Toulon, where we were to join another
party of prisoners, to proceed with them into the interior. I must pass
over our parting, which the reader may imagine was very painful. I
promised to write to Celeste, and she promised that she would answer my
letters, if it were permitted. We shook hands with Colonel O'Brien,
thanking him for his kindness, and, much to his regret, we were taken in
charge by two French cuirassiers, who were waiting at the door. As we
preferred being continued on parole until our arrival at Toulon, the
soldiers were not at all particular about watching us; and we set off on
horseback, O'Brien and I going first, and the French cuirassiers
following us in the rear.

We trotted or walked along the road very comfortably. The weather was
delightful: we were in high spirits, and almost forgot that we were
prisoners. The cuirassiers followed us at a distance of twenty yards,
conversing with each other, and O'Brien observed that it was amazingly
genteel of the French governor to provide us with two servants in such
handsome liveries. The evening of the second day we arrived at Toulon,
and as soon as we entered the gates, we were delivered into the custody
of an officer with a very sinister cast of countenance, who, after some
conversation with the cuirassiers, told us in a surly tone that our
parole was at an end, and gave us in charge of a corporal's guard, with
directions to conduct us to the prison near the Arsenal. We presented
the cuirassiers with four dollars each, for their civility, and were
then hurried away to our place of captivity. I observed to O'Brien, that
I was afraid that we must now bid farewell to anything like pleasure.
"You're right there, Peter," replied he: "but there's a certain jewel
called Hope, that somebody found at the bottom of his chest, when it was
clean empty, and so we must not lose sight of it, but try and escape as
soon as we can; but the less we talk about it the better." In a few
minutes we arrived at our destination: the door was opened, ourselves
and our bundles (for we had only selected a few things for our march,
the colonel promising to forward the remainder as soon as we wrote to
inform him to which depot we were consigned), were rudely shoved in; and
as the doors again closed, and the heavy bolts were shot, I felt a
creeping, chilly sensation pass through my whole body.

As soon as we could see--for although the prison was not very dark, yet
so suddenly thrown in, after the glare of a bright sunshiny day, at
first we could distinguish nothing--we found ourselves in company with
about thirty English sailors. Most of them were sitting down on the
pavement, or on boxes, or bundles containing their clothes that they had
secured, conversing with each other, or playing at cards or draughts.
Our entrance appeared to excite little attention; after having raised
their eyes to indulge their curiosity, they continued their pursuits. I
have often thought what a feeling of selfishness appeared to pervade the
whole of them. At the time I was shocked, as I expected immediate
sympathy and commiseration; but afterwards I was not surprised. Many of
these poor fellows had been months in the prison, and a short
confinement will produce that indifference to the misfortunes of others,
which I then observed. Indeed, one man, who was playing at cards, looked
up for a moment as we came in, and cried out, "Hurrah, my lads! the more
the merrier," as if he really was pleased to find that there were others
who were as unfortunate as himself. We stood looking at the groups for
about ten minutes, when O'Brien observed, "that we might as well come to
an anchor, foul ground being better than no bottom;" so we sat down in a
corner, upon our bundles, where we remained for more than an hour,
surveying the scene, without speaking a word to each other. I could not
speak--I felt so very miserable. I thought of my father and mother in
England, of my captain and my messmates, who were sailing about so
happily in the frigate, of the kind Colonel O'Brien, and dear little
Celeste, and the tears trickled down my cheeks as these scenes of former
happiness passed through my mind in quick succession. O'Brien did not
speak but once, and then he only said, "This is dull work, Peter."

We had been in the prison about two hours, when a lad in a very greasy,
ragged jacket, with a pale emaciated face, came up to us, and said, "I
perceive by your uniforms that you are both officers, as well as
myself."

O'Brien stared at him for a little while, and then answered, "Upon my
soul and honour, then, you've the advantage of us, for it's more than I
could perceive in you; but I'll take your word for it. Pray what ship
may have had the misfortune of losing such a credit to the service?"

"Why, I belonged to the _Snapper_ cutter," replied the young lad; "I was
taken in a prize, which the commanding officer had given in my charge to
take to Gibraltar: but they won't believe that I'm an officer. I have
applied for officer's allowance and rations, and they won't give them to
me."

"Well, but they know that we are officers," replied O'Brien; "why do
they shove us in here, with the common seamen?"

"I suppose you are only put in here for the present," replied the
cutter's midshipman; "but why I cannot tell."

Nor could we, until afterwards, when we found out, as our narrative will
show, that the officer who received us from the cuirassiers had once
quarrelled with Colonel O'Brien, who first pulled his nose, and
afterwards ran him through the body. Being told by the cuirassiers that
we were much esteemed by Colonel O'Brien, he resolved to annoy us as
much as he could; and when he sent up the document announcing our
arrival, he left out the word "Officers," and put us in confinement with
the common seamen. "It's very hard upon me not to have my regular
allowance as an officer," continued the midshipman. "They only give me a
black loaf and three sous a day. If I had had my best uniform on, they
never would have disputed my being an officer; but the scoundrels who
retook the prize stole all my traps, and I have nothing but this old
jacket."

"Why, then," replied O'Brien, "you'll know the value of dress for the
future. You cutter and gun-brig midshipmen go about in such a dirty
state, that you are hardly acknowledged by us who belong to frigates to
be officers, much less gentlemen. You look so dirty, and so slovenly
when we pass you in the dockyard, that we give you a wide berth; how
then can you suppose strangers to believe that you are either officers
or gentlemen? Upon my conscience, I absolve the Frenchmen from all
prejudice, for, as to, your being an officer, we, as Englishmen have
nothing but your bare word for it."

"Well, it's very hard," replied the lad, "to be attacked this way by a
brother officer; your coat will be as shabby as mine, before you have
been here long."

"That's very true, my darling," returned O'Brien: "but at least I shall
have the pleasant reflection that I came in as a gentleman, although I
may not exactly go out under the same appearance. Good night, and
pleasant dreams to you!" I thought O'Brien rather cross in speaking in
such a way, but he was himself always as remarkably neat and well
dressed, as he was handsome and well made.

Fortunately we were not destined to remain long in this detestable hole.
After a night of misery, during which we remained sitting on our
bundles, and sleeping how we could, leaning with our backs against the
damp wall, we were roused, at daybreak by the unbarring of the prison
doors, followed up with an order to go into the prison yard. We were
huddled out like a flock of sheep, by a file of soldiers with loaded
muskets; and, as we went into the yard, were ranged two and two. The
same officer who ordered us into prison, commanded the detachment of
soldiers who had us in charge. O'Brien stepped out of the ranks, and,
addressing them, stated that we were officers, and had no right to be
treated like common sailors. The French officer replied, that he had
better information, and that we wore coats which did not belong to us;
upon which O'Brien was in a great rage, calling the officer a liar, and
demanding satisfaction for the insult, appealing to the French soldiers,
and stating, that Colonel O'Brien, who was at Cette, was his countryman,
and had received him for two months into his house upon parole, which
was quite sufficient to establish his being an officer. The French
soldiers appeared to side with O'Brien after they had heard this
explanation, stating that no common English sailor could speak such good
French, and that they were present when we were sent in on parole, and
they asked the officer whether he intended to give satisfaction. The
officer stormed, and drawing his sword out of the scabbard, struck
O'Brien with the flat of the blade, looking at him with contempt, and
ordering him into the ranks. I could not help observing that, during
this scene, the men-of-war sailors who were among the prisoners, were
very indignant, while, on the contrary, those captured in merchant
vessels appeared to be pleased with the insult offered to O'Brien. One
of the French soldiers then made a sarcastic remark, that the French
officer did not much like the name of O'Brien. This so enraged the
officer, that he flew at O'Brien, pushed him back into the ranks, and
taking out a pistol, threatened to shoot him through the head. I must do
the justice to the French soldiers, that they all cried out "Shame!"
They did not appear to have the same discipline, or the same respect for
an officer, as the soldiers have in our service, or they would not have
been so free in their language; yet, at the same time, they obeyed all
his orders on service very implicitly.

When O'Brien returned to the ranks, he looked defiance at the officer,
telling him, "That he would pocket the affront very carefully, as he
intended to bring it out again upon a future and more suitable
occasion." We were then marched out in ranks, two and two, being met at
the street by two drummers, and a crowd of people, who had gathered to
witness our departure. The drums beat, and away we went. The officer who
had charge of us mounted a small horse, galloping up and down from one
end of the ranks to the other, with his sword drawn, bullying, swearing,
and striking with the flat of the blade at any one of the prisoners who
was not in his proper place. When we were close to the gates, we were
joined by another detachment of prisoners: we were then ordered to halt,
and were informed, through an interpreter, that any one attempting to
escape would immediately be shot, after which information we once more
proceeded on our route.

Nothing remarkable occurred during our first day's march, except perhaps
a curious conversation between O'Brien and one of the French soldiers,
in which they disputed about the comparative bravery of the two nations.
O'Brien, in his argument, told the Frenchman that his countrymen could
not stand a charge of English bayonets. The Frenchman replied that there
was no doubt but the French were quite as brave as the English--even
more so; and that, as for not standing the charge of bayonets, it was
not because they were less brave; but the fact was, that they were most
excessively _ticklish_. We had black bread and sour wine served out to
us this day, when we halted to refresh. O'Brien persuaded a soldier to
purchase something for us more eatable; but the French officer heard of
it, and was very angry, ordering the soldier to the rear.



Chapter XX

O'Brien fights a duel with a French officer, and proves that the great
art of fencing is knowing nothing about it--We arrive at our new
quarters, which we find very secure.


At night we arrived at a small town, the name of which I forget. Here we
were all put into an old church for the night, and a very bad night we
passed. They did not even give us a little straw to lie down upon: the
roof of the church had partly fallen in, and the moon shone through very
brightly. This was some comfort; for to have been shut up in the dark,
seventy-five in number, would have been very miserable. We were afraid
to lie down anywhere, as, like all ruined buildings in France, the
ground was covered with filth, and the smell was shocking. O'Brien was
very thoughtful, and would hardly answer any question that I put to him;
it was evident that he was brooding over the affront which he had
received from the French officer. At daybreak, the door of the church
was again opened by the French soldiers, and we were conducted to the
square of the town, where we found the troops quartered, drawn up with
their officers, to receive us from the detachment who had escorted us
from Toulon. We were very much pleased with this, as we knew that we
should be forwarded by another detachment, and thus be rid of the brutal
officer who had hitherto had charge of the prisoners. But we were rid of
him in another way. As the French officers walked along our ranks to
look at us, I perceived among them a captain, whom we had known very
intimately when we were living at Cette with Colonel O'Brien. I cried
out his name immediately; he turned round, and seeing O'Brien and me, he
came up to us, shaking us by the hand, and expressing his surprise at
finding us in such a situation. O'Brien explained to him how we had been
treated, at which he expressed his indignation, as did the other
officers who had collected round us. The major who commanded the troops
in the town turned to the French officer (he was only a lieutenant) who
had conducted us from Toulon, and demanded of him his reason for
behaving to us in such an unworthy manner. He denied having treated us
ill, and said that he had been informed that we had put on officers'
dresses which did not belong to us. At this O'Brien declared that he was
a liar, and a cowardly _foutre_, that he had struck him with the back of
his sabre, which he would not have dared do if he had not been a
prisoner; adding, that all he requested was satisfaction for the insult
offered to him, and appealed to the officers whether, if it were
refused, the lieutenant's epaulets ought not to be cut off his
shoulders. The major commandant and the officers retired to consult,
and, after a few minutes, they agreed that the lieutenant was bound to
give the satisfaction required. The lieutenant replied that he was
ready; but, at the same time, did not appear to be very willing. The
prisoners were left in charge of the soldiers, under a junior officer,
while the others, accompanied by O'Brien, myself, and the lieutenant,
walked to a short distance outside the town. As we proceeded there, I
asked O'Brien with what weapons they would fight.

"I take it for granted," replied he, "that it will be with the small
sword."

"But," said I, "do you know anything about fencing?"

"Devil a bit, Peter; but that's all in my favour."

"How can that be?" replied I.

"I'll tell you, Peter. If one man fences well, and another is but an
indifferent hand at it, it is clear that the first will run the other
through the body; but, if the other knows nothing at all about it, why
then, Peter, the case is not quite so clear: because the good fencer is
almost as much puzzled by your ignorance as you are by his skill, and
you become on more equal terms. Now, Peter, I've made up my mind that
I'll run that fellow through the body, and so I will, as sure as I am an
O'Brien."

"Well, I hope you will; but pray do not be too sure."

"It's feeling sure that will make me able to do it, Peter. By the blood
of the O'Briens! didn't he slap me with his sword, as if I were a clown
in the pantomime. Peter, I'll kill the harlequin scoundrel, and my
word's as good as my bond!"

By this time we had arrived at the ground. The French lieutenant
stripped to his shirt and trousers; O'Brien did the same, kicking his
boots off, and standing upon the wet grass in his stockings. The swords
were measured, and handed to them; they took their distance, and set to.
I must say, that I was breathless with anxiety; the idea of losing
O'Brien struck me with grief and terror. I then felt the value of all
his kindness to me, and would have taken his place, and have been run
through the body, rather than he should have been hurt. At first,
O'Brien put himself in the correct attitude of defence, in imitation of
the lieutenant, but this was for a very few seconds; he suddenly made a
spring, and rushed on to his adversary, stabbing at him with a velocity
quite astonishing, the lieutenant parrying in his defence, until at last
he had an opportunity of lungeing at O'Brien. O'Brien, who no longer
kept his left arm raised in equipoise, caught the sword of the
lieutenant at within six inches of the point, and directing it under his
left arm, as he rushed in, passed his own through the lieutenant's body.
It was all over in less than a minute--the lieutenant did not live half
an hour afterwards. The French officers were very much surprised at the
result, for they perceived at once that O'Brien knew nothing of fencing.
O'Brien gathered a tuft of grass, wiped the sword, which he presented to
the officer to whom it belonged, and thanking the major and the whole of
them for their impartiality and gentlemanlike conduct, led the way to
the square, where he again took his station in the ranks of the
prisoners.

Shortly after, the major commandant came up to us, and asked whether we
would accept of our parole, as, in that case, we might travel as we
pleased. We consented, with many thanks for his civility and kindness;
but I could not help thinking at the time, that the French officers were
a little mortified at O'Brien's success, although they were too
honourable to express the feeling. O'Brien told me, after we had quitted
the town, that had it not been for the handsome conduct of the officers,
he would not have accepted our parole, as he felt convinced that we
could have easily made our escape. We talked over the matter a long
while, and at last agreed that there would be a better chance of success
by and by, when more closely guarded, than there would be now, under
consideration of all circumstances, as it required previously concerted
arrangements to get out of the country.

I had almost forgotten to say, that on our return after the duel the
cutter's midshipman called out to O'Brien, requesting him to state to
the commandant that he was also an officer; but O'Brien replied, that
there was no evidence for it but his bare word. If he was an officer he
must prove it himself, as everything in his appearance flatly
contradicted his assertion.

"It's very hard," replied the midshipman, "that because my jacket's a
little tarry or so I must lose my rank."

"My dear fellow," replied O'Brien, "it's not because your jacket's a
little tarry; it is because what the Frenchmen call your _tout ensemble_
is quite disgraceful in an officer. Look at your face in the first
puddle, and you'll find that it would dirty the water you look into.
Look at your shoulders above your ears, and your back with a bow like a
_kink_ in a cable. Your trowsers, sir, you have pulled your legs too far
through, showing a foot and a half of worsted stockings. In short, look
at yourself altogether, and then tell me, provided you be an officer,
whether, from respect to the service, it would not be my duty to
contradict it. It goes against my conscience, my dear fellow; but
recollect that when we arrive at the depot, you will be able to prove
it, so it's only waiting a little while, until the captains will pass
their word for you, which is more than I will."

"Well, it's very hard," replied the midshipman, "that I must go on
eating this black rye bread; and very unkind of you."

"It's very kind of me, you spalpeen of the Snapper. Prison will be a
paradise to you, when you get into good commons. How you'll relish your
grub by-and-by! So now shut your pan, or by the tail of Jonah's whale,
I'll swear you're a Spaniard."

I could not help thinking that O'Brien was very severe upon the poor
lad, and I expostulated with him afterwards. He replied, "Peter, if, as
a cutter's midshipman, he is a bit of an officer, the devil a bit is he
of a gentleman, either born or bred: and I'm not bound to bail every
blackguard-looking chap that I meet. By the head of St Peter, I would
blush to be seen in his company, if I were in the wildest bog in
Ireland, with nothing but an old crow as spectator."

We were now again permitted to be on our parole, and received every
attention and kindness from the different officers who commanded the
detachments which passed the prisoners from one town to another. In a
few days we arrived at Montpelier, where we had orders to remain a short
time until directions were received from Government as to the depots for
prisoners to which we were to be sent. At this delightful town, we had
unlimited parole, not even a gendarme accompanying us. We lived at the
table d'hote, were permitted to walk about where we pleased, and amused
ourselves every evening at the theatre. During our stay there we wrote
to Colonel O'Brien at Cette, thanking him for his kindness, and
narrating what had occurred since we parted. I also wrote to Celeste,
inclosing my letter unsealed in the one to Colonel O'Brien. I told her
the history of O'Brien's duel, and all I could think would interest her;
how sorry I was to have parted from her; that I never would forget her;
and trusted that some day, as she was only half a Frenchwoman, we should
meet again. Before we left Montpelier, we had the pleasure of receiving
answers to our letters: the colonel's letters were very kind,
particularly the one to me, in which he called me his dear boy, and
hoped that I should soon rejoin my friends, and prove an ornament to my
country. In his letter to O'Brien, he requested him not to run me into
useless danger--to recollect that I was not so well able to undergo
extreme hardship. I have no doubt but that this caution referred to
O'Brien's intention to escape from prison, which he had not concealed
from the colonel, and the probability that I would be a partner in the
attempt. The answer from Celeste was written in English; but she must
have had assistance from her father, or she could not have succeeded so
well. It was like herself, very kind and affectionate; and also ended
with wishing me a speedy return to my friends, who must (she said) be so
fond of me, that she despaired of ever seeing me more, but that she
consoled herself as well as she could with the assurance that I should
be happy. I forgot to say, that Colonel O'Brien, in his letter to me,
stated that he expected immediate orders to leave Cette, and take the
command of some military post in the interior, or join the army, but
which, he could not tell; that they had packed up everything, and he was
afraid that our correspondence must cease, as he could not state to what
place we should direct our letters. I could not help thinking at the
time, that it was a delicate way of pointing out to us that it was not
right that he should correspond with us in our relative situations; but
still, I was sure that he was about to leave Cette, for he never would
have made use of a subterfuge. I must here acquaint the reader with a
circumstance which I forgot to mention, which was that when Captain
Savage sent in a flag of truce with our clothes and money, I thought
that it was but justice to O'Brien that they should know on board of the
frigate the gallant manner in which he had behaved. I knew that he would
never tell himself, so, ill as I was at the time, I sent for Colonel
O'Brien, and requested him to write down my statement of the affair, in
which I mentioned how O'Brien had spiked the last gun, and had been
taken prisoner by so doing, together with his attempting to save me.
When the colonel had written all down, I requested that he would send
for the major, who first entered the fort with the troops, and translate
it to him in French. This he did in my presence, and the major declared
every word to be true. "Will he attest it, colonel, as it may be of
great service to O'Brien?" The major immediately assented. Colonel
O'Brien then enclosed my letter, with a short note from himself, to
Captain Savage, paying him a compliment, and assuring him that his
gallant young officers should be treated with every attention, and all
the kindness which the rules of war would admit of. O'Brien never knew
that I had sent that letter, as the colonel, at my request, kept the
secret.

In ten days we received an order to march on the following morning. The
sailors, among whom was our poor friend the midshipman of the Snapper
cutter, were ordered to Verdun; O'Brien and I, with eight masters of
merchant vessels, who joined us at Montpelier, were directed by the
Government to be sent to Givet, a fortified town in the department of
Ardennes. But, at the same time, orders arrived from Government to treat
the prisoners with great strictness, and not to allow any parole; the
reason of this, we were informed, was that accounts had been sent to
Government of the death of the French officer in the duel with O'Brien,
and they had expressed their dissatisfaction at its having been
permitted. Indeed, I very much doubt whether it would have been
permitted in our country, but the French officers are almost
romantically chivalrous in their ideas of honour; in fact, as enemies, I
have always considered them as worthy antagonists to the English, and
they appear more respectable in themselves, and more demanding our
goodwill in that situation, than they do when we meet them as friends,
and are acquainted with the other points of their character, which
lessen them in our estimation.

I shall not dwell upon a march of three weeks, during which we
alternately received kind or unhandsome treatment, according to the
dispositions of those who had us in charge; but I must observe, that it
was invariably the case, that officers who were gentlemen by birth
treated us with consideration, while those who had sprung from nothing
during the Revolution, were harsh, and sometimes even brutal. It was
exactly four months from the time of our capture that we arrived at our
destined prison at Givet.

"Peter," said O'Brien, as he looked hastily at the fortifications, and
the river which divided the two towns, "I see no reason, either English
or French, that we should not eat our Christmas dinner in England. I've
a bird's eye view of the outside, and now, have only to find out
where-abouts we may be in the inside."

I must say that, when I looked at the ditches and high ramparts, I had a
different opinion; so had a gendarme who was walking by our side, and
who had observed O'Brien's scrutiny, and who quietly said to him in
French, "_Vous le croyez possible!_"

"Everything is possible to a brave man--the French armies have proved
that," answered O'Brien.

"You are right," replied the gendarme, pleased with the compliment to
his nation; "I wish you success, you will deserve it; but--" and he
shook his head.

"If I could but obtain a plan of the fortress," said O'Brien, "I would
give five Napoleons for one," and he looked at the gendarme.

"I cannot see any objection to an officer, although a prisoner, studying
fortification," replied the gendarme. "In two hours you will be within
the walls; and now I recollect, in the map of the two towns, the
fortress is laid down sufficiently accurately to give you an idea of it.
But we have conversed too long." So saying, the gendarme dropped into
the rear.

In a quarter of an hour, we arrived at the Place d'Armes, where we were
met, as usual, by another detachment of troops, and drummers, who
paraded us through the town previous to our being drawn up before the
governor's house. This, I ought to have observed, was, by order of
Government, done at every town we passed through; it was very
contemptible, but prisoners were so scarce, that they made all the
display of us that they could. As we stopped at the governor's house,
the gendarme, who had left us in the square, made a sign to O'Brien, as
much as to say, I have it. O'Brien took out five Napoleons, which he
wrapped in paper, and held in his hand. In a minute or two, the gendarme
came up and presented O'Brien with an old silk handkerchief, saying,
"_Votre mouchoir, monsieur_."

"_Merci,"_ replied O'Brien, putting the handkerchief which contained the
map into his pocket, "_voici à boire, mon ami_;" and he slipped the
paper with the five Napoleons into the hand of the gendarme, who
immediately retreated.

This was very fortunate for us, as we afterwards discovered that a mark
had been put against O'Brien's and my name, not to allow parole or
permission to leave the fortress, even under surveillance. Indeed, even
if it had not been so, we never should have obtained it, as the
lieutenant killed by O'Brien was nearly related to the commandant of the
fortress, who was as much a _mauvais sujet_ as his kinsman. Having
waited the usual hour before the governor's house, to answer to our
muster-roll, and to be stared at, we were dismissed; and in a few
minutes, found ourselves shut up in one of the strongest fortresses in
France.



Chapter XXI

O'Brien receives his commission as lieutenant, and then we take French
leave of Givet.


If I doubted the practicability of escape when I examined the exterior,
when we were ushered into the interior of the fortress, I felt that it
was impossible, and I stated my opinion to O'Brien. We were conducted
into a yard surrounded by a high wall; the buildings appropriated for
the prisoners were built with _lean-to_ roofs on one side, and at each
side of the square was a sentry looking down upon us. It was very much
like the dens which they now build for bears, only so much larger.
O'Brien answered me with a "Pish! Peter, it's the very security of the
place which will enable us to get out of it. But don't talk, as there
are always spies about who understand English."

We were shown into a room allotted to six of us; our baggage was
examined, and then delivered over to us. "Better and better, Peter,"
observed O'Brien, "they've not found it out!"

"What?" inquired I.

"Oh, only a little selection of articles, which might be useful to us
by-and-by."

He then showed me what I never before was aware of: that he had a false
bottom to his trunk; but it was papered over like the rest, and very
ingeniously concealed. "And what is there, O'Brien?" inquired I.

"Never mind; I had them made at Montpelier. You'll see by-and-by."

The others, who were lodged in the same room, then came in, and after
staying a quarter of an hour, went away at the sound of the dinner-bell.
"Now, Peter," said O'Brien, "I must get rid of my load. Turn the key."

O'Brien then undressed himself, and when he threw off his shirt and
drawers, showed me a rope of silk, with a knot at every two feet, about
half-an-inch in size, wound round and round his body. There were about
sixty feet of it altogether. As I unwound it, he, turning round and
round, observed, "Peter, I've worn this rope ever since I left
Montpelier, and you've no idea of the pain I have suffered; but we must
go to England, that's decided upon."

When I looked at O'Brien, as the rope was wound off, I could easily
imagine that he had really been in great pain; in several places his
flesh was quite raw from the continual friction, and after it was all
unwound, and he had put on his clothes, he fainted away. I was very much
alarmed, but I recollected to put the rope into the trunk, and take out
the key, before I called for assistance. He soon came to, and on being
asked what was the matter, said that he was subject to fits from his
infancy. He looked earnestly at me, and I showed him the key, which was
sufficient.

For some days O'Brien, who really was not very well, kept to his room.
During this time, he often examined the map given him by the gendarme.
One day he said to me, "Peter, can you swim?"

"No," replied I; "but never mind that."

"But I must mind it, Peter; for observe, we shall have to cross the
river Meuse, and boats are not always to be had. You observe, that this
fortress is washed by the river on one side: and as it is the strongest
side, it is the least guarded--we must escape by it. I can see my way
clear enough till we get to the second rampart on the river, but when we
drop into the river, if you cannot swim, I must contrive to hold you up,
somehow or another."

"Are you then determined to escape, O'Brien? I cannot perceive how we
are even to get up this wall, with four sentries staring us in the
face."

"Never do you mind that, Peter, mind your own business; and first tell
me, do you intend to try your luck with me?"

"Yes," replied I, "most certainly; if you have sufficient confidence in
me to take me as your companion."

"To tell you the truth, Peter, I would not give a farthing to escape
without you. We were taken together, and, please God, we'll take
ourselves off together; but that must not be for this month; our
greatest help will be the dark nights and foul weather."

The prison was by all accounts very different from Verdun and some
others. We had no parole, and but little communication with the
townspeople. Some were permitted to come in and supply us with various
articles; but their baskets were searched to see that they contained
nothing that might lead to an escape on the part of the prisoners.
Without the precautions that O'Brien had taken, any attempt would have
been useless. Still, O'Brien, as soon as he left his room, did obtain
several little articles--especially balls of twine--for one of the
amusements of the prisoners was flying kites. This, however, was put a
stop to, in consequence of one of the strings, whether purposely or
not, I cannot say, catching the lock of the musket carried by one of
the sentries who looked down upon us, and twitching it out of his hand;
after which an order was given by the commandant for no kites to be
permitted. This was fortunate for us, as O'Brien, by degrees,
purchased all the twine belonging to the other prisoners; and, as we
were more than three hundred in number, it amounted to sufficient to
enable him, by stealth, to lay it up into very strong cord, or rather,
into a sort of square plait, known only to sailors. "Now, Peter," said
he one day, "I want nothing more than an umbrella for you."

"Why an umbrella for me?"

"To keep you from being drowned with too much water, that's all."

"Rain won't drown me."

"No, no, Peter; but buy a new one as soon as you can."

I did so. O'Brien boiled up a quantity of bees' wax and oil, and gave it
several coats of this preparation. He then put it carefully away in the
ticking of his bed. I asked him whether he intended to make known his
plan to any of the other prisoners; he replied in the negative, saying,
that there were so many of them who could not be trusted, that he
would trust no one. We had been now about two months in Givet, when a
Steel's List was sent to a lieutenant, who was confined there. The
lieutenant came up to O'Brien, and asked him his Christian name.

"Terence, to be sure," replied O'Brien.

"Then," answered the lieutenant, "I may congratulate you on your
promotion, for here you are upon the list of August."

"Sure there must be some trifling mistake; let me look at it. Terence
O'Brien, sure enough; but now the question is, has any other fellow
robbed me of my name and promotion at the same time? Bother, what can it
mane? I won't belave it--not a word of it. I've no more interest than a
dog who drags cats'-meat."

"Really, O'Brien," observed I, "I cannot see why you should not be made;
I am sure you deserve your promotion for your conduct when you were
taken prisoner."

"And what did I do then, you simple Peter, but put you on my back as the
men do their hammocks when they are piped down; but, barring all claim,
how could any one know what took place in the battery, except you, and
I, and the armourer, who lay dead? So explain that, Peter, if you can."

"I think I can," replied I, after the lieutenant had left us. And I then
told O'Brien how I had written to Captain Savage, and had had the fact
attested by the major who had made us prisoners.

"Well, Peter," said O'Brien, after a pause, "there's a fable about a
lion and a mouse. If, by your means, I have obtained my promotion, why
then the mouse is a finer baste than the lion; but instead of being
happy, I shall now be miserable until the truth is ascertained one way
or the other, and that's another reason why I must set off to England as
fast as I can."

For a few days after this O'Brien was very uneasy; but fortunately
letters arrived by that time; one to me from my father, in which he
requested me to draw for whatever money I might require, saying that the
whole family would retrench in every way to give me all the comfort
which might be obtained in my unfortunate situation. I wept at his
kindness, and more than ever longed to throw myself in his arms, and
thank him. He also told me that my uncle William was dead, and that
there was only one between him and the title, but that my grandfather
was in good health, and had been very kind to him lately. My mother was
much afflicted at my having been made a prisoner, and requested I would
write as often as I could. O'Brien's letter was from Captain Savage; the
frigate had been sent home with despatches, and O'Brien's conduct
represented to the Admiralty, which had, in consequence, promoted him to
the rank of lieutenant. O'Brien came to me with the letter, his
countenance radiant with joy as he put it into my hands. In return I put
mine into his, and he read it over.

"Peter, my boy, I'm under great obligations to you. When you were
wounded and feverish, you thought of me at a time when you had quite
enough to think of yourself; but I never thank in words. I see your
uncle William is dead. How many more uncles have you?"

"My uncle John, who is married, and has already two daughters."

"Blessings on him; may he stick to the female line of business! Peter,
my boy, you shall be a lord before you die."

"Nonsense, O'Brien; I have no chance. Don't put such foolish ideas in my
head."

"What chance had I of being a lieutenant, and am I not one? Well, Peter,
you've helped to make a lieutenant of me, but I'll make a _man_ of you,
and that's better. Peter, I perceive, with all your simplicity, that
you're not over and above simple, and that, with all your asking for
advice, you can think and act for yourself on an emergency. Now, Peter,
these are talents that must not be thrown away in this cursed hole, and
therefore, my boy, prepare yourself to quit this place in a week, wind
and weather permitting; that is to say, not fair wind and weather, but
the fouler the better. Will you be ready at any hour of any night that I
call you up?"

"Yes, O'Brien, I will, and do my best."

"No man can do much more that ever I heard of. But, Peter, do me one
favour, as I am really a lieutenant, just touch your hat to me only
once, that's all; but I wish the compliment, just to see how it looks."

"Lieutenant O'Brien," said I, touching my hat, "have you any further
orders?"

"Yes, sir," replied he; "that you never presume to touch your hat to me
again, unless we sail together, and then that's a different sort of
thing."

About a week afterwards, O'Brien came to me, and said, "The new moon's
quartered in with foul weather; if it holds, prepare for a start. I have
put what is necessary in your little haversack; it may be to-night. Go
to bed now, and sleep for a week if you can, for you'll get but little
sleep, if we succeed, for the week to come."

This was about eight o'clock. I went to bed, and about twelve I was
roused by O'Brien, who told me to dress myself carefully, and come down
to him in the yard. I did so without disturbing any body, and found the
night as dark as pitch (it was then November), and raining in torrents;
the wind was high, howling round the yard, and sweeping in the rain in
every direction as it eddied to and fro. It was some time before I could
find O'Brien, who was hard at work; and, as I had already been made
acquainted with all his plans, I will now explain them. At Montpelier he
had procured six large pieces of iron, about eighteen inches long, with
a gimlet at one end of each, and a square at the other, which fitted to
a handle which unshipped. For precaution he had a spare handle, but each
handle fitted to all the irons. O'Brien had screwed one of these pieces
of iron between the interstices of the stones of which the wall was
built, and sitting astride on that, was fixing another about three feet
above. When he had accomplished this, he stood upon the lower iron, and
supporting himself by the second, which about met his hip, he screwed in
a third, always fixing them about six inches on one side of the other,
and not one above the other. When he had screwed in his six irons, he
was about half up the wall, and then he fastened his rope, which he had
carried round his neck, to the upper iron, and lowering himself down,
unscrewed the four lower irons: then ascending by the rope, he stood
upon the fifth iron, and supporting himself by the upper iron,
recommenced his task. By these means he arrived in the course of an hour
and a half to the top of the wall, where he fixed his last iron, and
making his rope fast, he came down again. "Now, Peter," said he, "there
is no fear of the sentries seeing us; if they had the eyes of cats, they
could not until we were on the top of the wall; but then we arrive at
the glacis, and we must creep to the ramparts on our bellies. I am going
up with all the materials. Give me your haversack--you will go up
lighter; and recollect, should any accident happen to me, you run to bed
again. If, on the contrary, I pull the rope up and down three or four
times, you may sheer up it as fast as you can." O'Brien then loaded
himself with the other rope, the two knapsacks, iron crows, and other
implements he had procured; and, last of all, with the umbrella. "Peter,
if the rope bears me with all this, it is clear it will bear such a
creature as you are, therefore don't be afraid." So whispering, he
commenced his ascent; in about three minutes he was up, and the rope
pulled. I immediately followed him, and found the rope very easy to
climb, from the knots at every two feet, which gave me a hold for my
feet, and I was up in as short a time as he was. He caught me by the
collar, putting his wet hand on my mouth, and I lay down beside him
while he pulled up the rope. We then crawled on our stomachs across the
glacis till we arrived at the rampart. The wind blew tremendously, and
the rain pattered down so fast, that the sentries did not perceive us;
indeed, it was no fault of theirs, for it was impossible to have made us
out. It was some time before O'Brien could find out the point exactly
above the drawbridge of the first ditch; at last he did--he fixed his
crow-bar in, and lowered down the rope. "Now, Peter, I had better go
first again; when I shake the rope from below, all's right." O'Brien
descended, and in a few minutes the rope again shook; I followed him,
and found myself received in his arms upon the meeting of the
drawbridge; but the drawbridge itself was up. O'Brien led the way across
the chains, and I followed him. When we had crossed the moat, we found a
barrier gate locked; this puzzled us. O'Brien pulled out his picklocks
to pick it, but without success; here we were fast. "We must undermine
the gate, O'Brien; we must pull up the pavement until we can creep
under." "Peter, you are a fine fellow; I never thought of that." We
worked very hard until the hole was large enough, using the crow-bar
which was left, and a little wrench which O'Brien had with him. By these
means we got under the gate in the course of an hour or more. This gate
led to the lower rampart, but we had a covered way to pass through
before we arrived at it. We proceeded very cautiously, when we heard a
noise: we stopped, and found that it was a sentry, who was fast asleep,
and snoring. Little expecting to find one here, we were puzzled; pass
him we could not well, as he was stationed on the very spot where we
required to place our crow-bar to descend the lower rampart into the
river. O'Brien thought for a moment. "Peter," said he, "now is the time
for you to prove yourself a man. He is fast asleep, but his noise must
be stopped. I will stop his mouth, but at the very moment that I do so
you must throw open the pan of his musket, and then he cannot fire it."
"I will, O'Brien; don't fear me." We crept cautiously up to him, and
O'Brien motioning to me to put my thumb upon the pan, I did so, and the
moment that O'Brien put his hand upon the soldier's mouth, I threw open
the pan. The fellow struggled, and snapped his lock as a signal, but of
course without discharging his musket, and in a minute he was not only
gagged but bound by O'Brien, with my assistance. Leaving him there, we
proceeded to the rampart, and fixing the crow-bar again, O'Brien
descended; I followed him, and found him in the river, hanging on to the
rope; the umbrella was opened and turned upwards; the preparation made
it resist the water, and, as previously explained to me by O'Brien, I
had only to hold on at arm's length to two beckets which he had affixed
to the point of the umbrella, which was under water. To the same part
O'Brien had a tow-line, which taking in his teeth, he towed me down with
the stream to about a hundred yards clear of the fortress, where we
landed. O'Brien was so exhausted that for a few minutes he remained
quite motionless; I also was benumbed with the cold. "Peter," said he,
"thank God we have succeeded so far; now must we push on as far as we
can, for we shall have daylight in two hours." O'Brien took out his
flask of spirits, and we both drank a half tumbler at least, but we
should not in our state have been affected with a bottle. We now walked
along the river-side till we fell in with a small craft, with a boat
towing astern: O'Brien swam to it, and cutting the painter without
getting in, towed it on shore. The oars were fortunately in the boat. I
got in, we shoved off, and rowed away down the stream till the dawn of
day. "All's right, Peter; now we'll land. This is the Forest of
Ardennes." We landed, replaced the oars in the boat, and pushed her off
into the stream, to induce people to suppose that she had broken adrift,
and then hastened into the thickest of the wood. It still rained hard; I
shivered, and my teeth chattered with the cold, but there was no help
for it. We again took a dram of spirits, and, worn out with fatigue and
excitement, soon fell fast asleep upon a bed of leaves which we had
collected together.



Chapter XXII

Grave consequences of gravitation--O'Brien enlists himself as a
gendarme, and takes charge of me--We are discovered, and obliged to run
for it--The pleasures of a winter bivouac.


It was not until noon that I awoke, when I found that O'Brien had
covered me more than a foot deep with leaves to protect me from the
weather. I felt quite warm and comfortable; my clothes had dried on me,
but without giving me cold. "How very kind of you, O'Brien!" said I.

"Not a bit, Peter: you have hard work to go through yet, and I must take
care of you. You're but a bud, and I'm a full-blown rose." So saying, he
put the spirit-flask to his mouth, and then handed it to me. "Now,
Peter, we must make a start, for depend upon it they will scour the
country for us; but this is a large wood, and they may as well attempt
to find a needle in a bundle of hay, if we once get into the heart of
it."

"I think," said I, "that this forest is mentioned by Shakespeare, in one
of his plays."

"Very likely, Peter," replied O'Brien; "but we are at no playwork now;
and what reads amazing prettily, is no joke in reality. I've often
observed, that your writers never take the weather into consideration."

"I beg your pardon, O'Brien; in King Lear the weather was tremendous."

"Very likely; but who was the king that went out in such weather?"

"King Lear did, when he was mad."

"So he was, that's certain, Peter; but runaway prisoners have some
excuse; so now for a start."

We set off, forcing our way through the thicket, for about three hours,
O'Brien looking occasionally at his pocket compass; it then was again
nearly dark, and O'Brien proposed a halt. We made up a bed of leaves for
the night, and slept much more comfortably than we had the night before.
All our bread was wet, but as we had no water, it was rather a relief;
the meat we had with us was sufficient for a week. Once more we laid
down and fell fast asleep. About five o'clock in the morning I was
roused by O'Brien, who at the same time put his hand gently over my
mouth. I sat up, and perceived a large fire not far from us. "The
Philistines are upon us, Peter," said he; "I have reconnoitred, and they
are the gendarmes. I'm fearful of going away, as we may stumble upon
some more of them. I've been thinking what's best before I waked you;
and it appears to me, that we had better get up the tree, and lie
there."

At that time we were hidden in a copse of underwood, with a large oak in
the centre, covered with ivy. "I think so too, O'Brien; shall we go up
now, or wait a little?"

"Now, to be sure, that they're eating their prog. Mount you, Peter, and
I'll help you."

O'Brien shoved me up the tree, and then waiting a little while to bury
our haversacks among the leaves, he followed me. He desired me to remain
in a very snug position, on the first fork of the tree, while he took
another, amongst a bunch of ivy, on the largest bough. There we remained
for about an hour, when day dawned. We observed the gendarmes mustered
at the break of day, by the corporal, and then they all separated in
different directions, to scour the wood. We were delighted to perceive
this, as we hoped soon to be able to get away; but there was one
gendarme who remained. He walked to and fro, looking everywhere, until
he came directly under the tree in which we were concealed. He poked
about, until at last he came to the bed of leaves upon which we had
slept; these he turned over and over with his bayonet, until he routed
out our haversacks. "Pardi!" exclaimed he, "where the nest and eggs are,
the birds are near." He then walked round the tree, looking up into
every part, but we were well concealed, and he did not discover us for
some time. At last he saw me, and ordered me to come down. I paid no
attention to him, as I had no signal from O'Brien. He walked round a
little farther, until he was directly under the branch on which O'Brien
lay. Taking up this position, he had a fairer aim at me, and levelled
his musket, saying, "_Descendez, ou je tire_." Still I continued
immoveable, for I knew not what to do. I shut my eyes, however; the
musket shortly afterwards was discharged, and, whether from fear or not
I can hardly tell, I lost my hold of a sudden, and down I came. I was
stunned with the fall, and thought that I must have been wounded, and
was very much surprised, when, instead of the gendarme, O'Brien came up
to me, and asked whether I was hurt. I answered, I believed not, and got
upon my legs, when I found the gendarme lying on the ground, breathing
heavily, but insensible. When O'Brien perceived the gendarme level his
musket at me, he immediately dropped from the bough, right upon his
head; this occasioned the musket to go off, without hitting me, and at
the same time, the weight of O'Brien's body from such a height killed
the gendarme, for he expired before we left him. "Now, Peter," said
O'Brien, "this is the most fortunate thing in the world, and will take
us half through the country; but we have no time to lose." He then
stripped the gendarme, who still breathed heavily, and dragging him to
our bed of leaves, covered him up, threw off his own clothes, which he
tied in a bundle, and gave to me to carry, and put on those of the
gendarme. I could not help laughing at the metamorphosis, and asked
O'Brien what he intended. "Sure, I'm a gendarme, bringing with me a
prisoner, who has escaped." He then tied my hands with a cord,
shouldered his musket, and off we set. We now quitted the wood as soon
as we could; for O'Brien said that he had no fear for the next ten days;
and so it proved. We had one difficulty, which was, that we were going
the wrong way; but that was obviated by travelling mostly at night, when
no questions were asked, except at the cabarets, where we lodged, and
they did not know which way we came. When we stopped at night, my youth
excited a great deal of commiseration, especially from the females; and
in one instance I was offered assistance to escape. I consented to it,
but at the same time informed O'Brien of the plan proposed. O'Brien kept
watch--I dressed myself, and was at the open window, when he rushed in,
seizing me, and declaring that he would inform the Government of the
conduct of the parties. Their confusion and distress were very great.
They offered O'Brien twenty, thirty, forty Napoleons, if he would hush
it up, for they were aware of the penalty and imprisonment. O'Brien
replied that he would not accept of any money in compromise of his duty;
that after he had given me into the charge of the gendarme of the next
post, his business was at an end, and he must return to Flushing, where
he was stationed.

"I have a sister there," replied the hostess, "who keeps an inn. You'll
want good quarters, and a friendly cup; do not denounce us, and I'll
give you a letter to her, which, if it does not prove of service, you
can then return and give the information."

O'Brien consented; the letter was delivered, and read to him, in which
the sister was requested, by the love she bore to the writer, to do all
she could for the bearer, who had the power of making the whole family
miserable, but had refused so to do. O'Brien pocketed the letter, filled
his brandy-flask, and saluting all the women, left the cabaret, dragging
me after him with a cord. The only difference, as O'Brien observed after
he went out, was, that he (O'Brien) kissed all the women, and all the
women kissed me. In this way, we had proceeded by Charleroy and Louvain,
and were within a few miles of Malines, when a circumstance occurred
which embarrassed us not a little. We were following our route, avoiding
Malines, which was a fortified town, and at the time were in a narrow
lane, with wide ditches, full of water, on each side. At the turning of
a sharp corner, we met the gendarme who had supplied O'Brien with a map
of the town of Givet. "Good morning, comrade," said he to O'Brien,
looking earnestly at him, "whom have we here?"

"A young Englishman, whom I picked up close by, escaped from prison."

"Where from?"

"He will not say; but I suspect from Givet."

"There are two who have escaped from Givet," replied he: "how they
escaped no one can imagine; but," continued he, again looking at
O'Brien, "_avec les braves, il n'y a rien d'impossible_."

"That is true," replied O'Brien; "I have taken one, the other cannot be
far off. You had better look for him."

"I should like to find him," replied the gendarme, "for you know that to
retake a runaway prisoner is certain promotion. You will be made a
corporal."

"So much the better," replied O'Brien; "_adieu, mon ami_."

"Nay, I merely came for a walk, and will return with you to Malines,
where of course you are bound."

"We shall not get there to-night," said O'Brien, "my prisoner is too
much fatigued."

"Well, then, we will go as far as we can; and I will assist you. Perhaps
we may find the second, who, I understand, obtained a map of the
fortress by some means or other."

We at once perceived that we were discovered. He afterwards told us that
the body of a gendarme had been found in the wood, no doubt murdered by
the prisoners, and that the body was stripped naked. "I wonder,"
continued he, "whether one of the prisoners put on his clothes, and
passed as a gendarme."

"Peter," said O'Brien, "are we to murder this man or not?"

"I should say not: pretend to trust him, and then we may give him the
slip." This was said during the time that the gendarme stopped a moment
behind us.

"Well, we'll try; but first I'll put him off his guard." When the
gendarme came up with us, O'Brien observed, that the English prisoners
were very liberal; that he knew that a hundred Napoleons were often paid
for assistance, and he thought that no corporal's rank was equal to a
sum that would in France make a man happy and independent for life.

"Very true," replied the gendarme; "and let me only look upon that sum,
and I will guarantee a positive safety out of France."

"Then we understand each other," replied O'Brien; "this boy will give
two hundred--one half shall be yours, if you will assist."

"I will think of it," replied the gendarme, who then talked about
indifferent subjects, until we arrived at a small town, called Acarchot,
where we proceeded to a cabaret. The usual curiosity passed over we were
left alone, O'Brien telling the gendarme that he would expect his reply
that night or to-morrow morning. The gendarme said, to-morrow morning.
O'Brien requesting him to take charge of me, he called the woman of the
cabaret to show him a room; she showed him one or two, which he refused,
as not sufficiently safe for the prisoner. The woman laughed at the
idea, observing, "What had he to fear from a _pauvre enfant_ like me?"

"Yet this _pauvre enfant_ escaped from Givet," replied O'Brien; "these
Englishmen are devils from their birth." The last room showed to O'Brien
suited him, and he chose it--the woman not presuming to contradict a
gendarme. As soon as they came down again, O'Brien ordered me to bed,
and went up-stairs with me. He bolted the door, and pulling me to the
large chimney, we put our heads up, and whispered, that our conversation
should not be heard. "This man is not to be trusted," said O'Brien, "and
we must give him the slip. I know my way out of the inn, and we must
return the way we came, and then strike off in another direction."

"But will he permit us?"

"Not if he can help it; but I shall soon find out his manoeuvres."

O'Brien then went and stopped the key-hole, by hanging his handkerchief
across it, and stripping himself of his gendarme uniform, put on his own
clothes; then he stuffed the blankets and pillow into the gendarme's
dress, and laid it down on the outside of the bed, as if it were a man
sleeping in his clothes--indeed, it was an admirable deception. He laid
his musket by the side of the image, and then did the same to my bed,
making it appear as if there was a person asleep in it, of my size, and
putting my cap on the pillow. "Now, Peter, we'll see if he is watching
us. He will wait till he thinks we are asleep." The light still remained
in the room, and about an hour afterwards we heard a noise of one
treading on the stairs, upon which, as agreed, we crept under the bed.
The latch of our door was tried, and finding it open, which he did not
expect, the gendarme entered, and looking at both beds, went away.
"Now," said I, after the gendarme had gone down-stairs, "O'Brien, ought
we not to escape?"

"I've been thinking of it, Peter, and I have come to a resolution that
we can manage it better. He is certain to come again in an hour or two.
It is only eleven. Now I'll play him a trick." O'Brien then took one of
the blankets, make it fast to the window, which he left wide open, and
at the same time disarranged the images he had made up, so as to let the
gendarme perceive that they were counterfeit. We again crept under the
bed, and as O'Brien foretold, in about an hour more the gendarme
returned; our lamp was still burning, but he had a light of his own. He
looked at the beds, perceived at once that he had been duped, went to
the open window, and then exclaimed, "_Sacre Dieu! ils m'ont echappés et
je ne suis plus caporal. F----tre! à la chasse_!" He rushed out of the
room, and in a minute afterwards we heard him open the street door, and
go away.

"That will do, Peter," said O'Brien, laughing; "now we'll be off also,
although there's no great hurry." O'Brien then resumed his dress of a
gendarme; and about an hour afterwards we went down, and wishing the
hostess all happiness, quitted the cabaret, returning the same road by
which we had come. "Now, Peter," said O'Brien, "we're in a bit of a
puzzle. This dress won't do any more, still there's a respectability
about it, which will not allow me to put it off till the last moment."
We walked on till daylight, when we hid ourselves in a copse of trees.
At night we again started for the forest of Ardennes, for O'Brien said
our best chance was to return, until they supposed that we had had time
to effect our escape; but we never reached the forest, for on the next
day a violent snowstorm came on; it continued without intermission for
four days, during which we suffered much. Our money was not exhausted,
as I had drawn upon my father for £60, which, with the disadvantageous
exchange, had given me fifty Napoleons. Occasionally O'Brien crept into
a cabaret, and obtained provisions; but, as we dared not be seen
together as before, we were always obliged to sleep in the open air, the
ground being covered more than three feet with snow. On the fifth day,
being then six days from the forest of Ardennes, we hid ourselves in a
small wood, about a quarter of a mile from the road. I remained there
while O'Brien, as a gendarme, went to obtain provisions. As usual, I
looked out for the best shelter during his absence, and what was my
horror at falling in with a man and woman who lay dead in the snow,
having evidently perished from the weather. Just as I discovered them,
O'Brien returned, and I told him; he went with me to view the bodies.
They were dressed in a strange attire, ribands pinned upon their
clothes, and two pairs of very high stilts lying by their sides. O'Brien
surveyed them, and then said, "Peter, this is the very best thing that
could have happened to us. We may now walk through France without
soiling our feet with the cursed country."

"How do you mean?"

"I mean," said he, "that these are the people that we met near
Montpelier, who come from the Landes, walking about on their stilts for
the amusement of others, to obtain money. In their own country they are
obliged to walk so. Now, Peter, it appears to me that the man's clothes
will fit me, and the girl's (poor creature, how pretty she looks, cold
in death!) will fit you. All we have to do is to practise a little, and
then away we start."

O'Brien then, with some difficulty, pulled off the man's jacket and
trowsers, and having so done, buried him in the snow. The poor girl was
despoiled of her gown and upper petticoat, with every decency, and also
buried. We collected the clothes and stilts, and removed to another
quarter of the wood, where we found a well-sheltered spot, and took our
meal. As we did not travel that night as usual, we had to prepare our
own bed. We scraped away the snow, and made ourselves as comfortable as
we could without a fire, but the weather was dreadful.

"Peter," said O'Brien, "I'm melancholy. Here, drink plenty;" and he
handed me the flask of spirits, which had never been empty.

"Drink more, Peter."

"I cannot, O'Brien, without being tipsy."

"Never mind that, drink more; see how these two poor devils lost their
lives by falling asleep in the snow. Peter," said O'Brien, starting up,
"you sha'n't sleep here--follow me."

I expostulated in vain. It was almost dark, and he led me to the
village, near which he pitched upon a hovel (a sort of out-house).
"Peter, here is shelter; lie down and sleep, and I'll keep the watch.
Not a word, I will have it--down at once."

I did so, and in a very few minutes was fast asleep, for I was worn out
with cold and fatigue. For several days we had walked all night, and the
rest we gained by day was trifling. Oh how I longed for a warm bed with
four or five blankets! Just as the day broke, O'Brien roused me; he had
stood sentry all night, and looked very haggard.

"O'Brien, you are ill," said I.

"Not a bit; but I've emptied the brandy-flask; and that's a bad job.
However, it is to be remedied."

We then returned to the wood in a mizzling rain and fog, for the weather
had changed, and the frost had broken up. The thaw was even worse than
the frost, and we felt the cold more. O'Brien again insisted upon my
sleeping in the out-house, but this time I positively refused without he
would also sleep there, pointing out to him, that we ran no more risk,
and perhaps not so much, as if he stayed outside. Finding I was
positive, he at last consented, and we both gained it unperceived. We
lay down, but I did not go to sleep for some time, I was so anxious to
see O'Brien fast asleep. He went in and out several times, during which
I pretended to be fast asleep; at last it rained in torrents, and then
he lay down again, and in a few minutes, overpowered by nature, he fell
fast asleep, snoring so loudly, that I was afraid some one would hear
us. I then got up and watched, occasionally lying down and slumbering
awhile, and then going to the door.



Chapter XXIII

Exalted with our success, we march through France without touching the
ground--I become feminine--We are voluntary conscripts.


At day-break I called O'Brien, who jumped up in a great hurry.

"Sure I've been asleep, Peter."

"Yes, you have," replied I, "and I thank Heaven that you have, for no
one could stand such fatigue as you have, much longer; and if you fall
ill, what would become of me?" This was touching him on the right point.

"Well, Peter, since there's no harm come of it, there's no harm done.
I've had sleep enough for the next week, that's certain."

We returned to the wood; the snow had disappeared, and the rain ceased;
the sun shone out from between the clouds, and we felt warm.

"Don't pass so near that way," said O'Brien, "we shall see the poor
creatures, now that the snow is gone. Peter, we must shift our quarters
to-night, for I have been to every cabaret in the village, and I cannot
go there any more without suspicion, although I am a gendarme."

We remained there till the evening, and then set off, still returning
towards Givet. About an hour before daylight we arrived at a copse of
trees, close to the road-side, and surrounded by a ditch, not above a
quarter of a mile from a village. "It appears to me," said O'Brien,
"that this will do: I will now put you there, and then go boldly to the
village and see what I can get, for here we must stay at least a week."

We walked to the copse, and the ditch being rather too wide for me to
leap, O'Brien laid the four stilts together so as to form a bridge, over
which I contrived to walk. Tossing to me all the bundles, and desiring
me to leave the stilts as a bridge for him on his return, he set off to
the village with his musket on his shoulder. He was away two hours, when
he returned with a large supply of provisions, the best we had ever had.
French saucissons, seasoned with garlic, which I thought delightful;
four bottles of brandy, besides his flask; a piece of hung beef and six
loaves of bread, besides half a baked goose and part of a large pie.

"There," said he, "we have enough for a good week; and look here, Peter,
this is better than all." And he showed me two large horse-rugs.

"Excellent," replied I; "now we shall be comfortable."

"I paid honestly for all but these rugs," observed O'Brien; "but I was
afraid to buy them, so I stole them. However, we'll leave them here for
those they belong to--it's only borrowing, after all."

We now prepared a very comfortable shelter with branches, which we wove
together, and laying the leaves in the sun to dry, soon obtained a soft
bed to put one horse-rug on, while we covered ourselves up with the
other. Our bridge of stilts we had removed, so that we felt ourselves
quite secure from surprise. That evening we did nothing but carouse--the
goose, the pie, the saucissons as big as my arm, were alternately
attacked, and we went to the ditch to drink water, and then ate again.
This was quite happiness to what we had suffered, especially with the
prospect of a good bed. At dark, to bed we went, and slept soundly; I
never felt more refreshed during our wanderings. At daylight O'Brien got
up.

"Now, Peter, a little practice before breakfast."

"What practice do you mean?"

"Mean! why on the stilts. I expect in a week that you'll be able to
dance a gavotte at least; for mind me, Peter, you travel out of France
upon these stilts, depend upon it."

O'Brien then took the stilts belonging to the man, giving, me those of
the woman. We strapped them to our thighs, and by fixing our backs to a
tree, contrived to get upright upon them; but, at the first attempt to
walk, O'Brien fell to the right, and I fell to the left. O'Brien fell
against a tree, but I fell on my nose, and made it bleed very much;
however, we laughed and got up again, and although we had several falls,
at last we made a better hand of them. We then had some difficulty in
getting down again, but we found out how, by again resorting to a tree.
After breakfast we strapped them on again, and practised, and so we
continued to do for the whole day, when we again attacked our
provisions, and fell asleep under our horse-rug. This continued for five
days, by which time, being constantly on the stilts, we became very
expert; and although I could not dance a gavotte--for I did not know
what that was--I could hop about with them with the greatest ease.

"One day's more practice," said O'Brien, "for our provisions will last
one day more, and then we start; but this time we must rehearse in
costume."

O'Brien then dressed me in the poor girl's clothes, and himself in the
man's; they fitted very well, and the last day we practised as man and
woman.

"Peter, you make a very pretty girl," said O'Brien. "Now, don't you
allow the men to take liberties."

"Never fear," replied I. "But, O'Brien, as these petticoats are not very
warm, I mean to cut off my trowsers up to my knees, and wear them
underneath."

"That's all right," said O'Brien, "for you may have a tumble, and then
they may find out that you're not a lady."

The next morning we made use of our stilts to cross the ditch, and
carrying them in our hands we boldly set off on the high road to
Malines. We met several people, gens-d'armes and others, but with the
exception of some remarks upon my good looks, we passed unnoticed.
Towards the evening we arrived at the village where we had slept in the
outhouse, and as soon as we entered it we put on our stilts, and
commenced a march. When the crowd had gathered we held out our caps, and
receiving nine or ten sous, we entered a cabaret. Many questions were
asked us, as to where we came from, and O'Brien answered, telling lies
innumerable. I played the modest girl, and O'Brien, who stated I was his
sister, appeared very careful and jealous of any attention. We slept
well, and the next morning continued our route to Malines. We very often
put on our stilts for practice on the road, which detained us very much,
and it was not until the eighth day, without any variety or any
interruption, that we arrived at Malines. As we entered the barriers we
put on our stilts, and marched boldly on. The guard at the gate stopped
us, not from suspicion, but to amuse themselves, and I was forced to
submit to several kisses from their garlic lips, before we were allowed
to enter the town. We again mounted on our stilts, for the guard had
forced us to dismount, or they could not have kissed me, every now and
then imitating a dance, until we arrived at the _Grande Place_, where we
stopped opposite the hotel, and commenced a sort of waltz which we had
practised. The people in the hotel looked out of the window to see our
exhibition, and when we had finished I went up to the windows with
O'Brien's cap to collect money. What was my surprise to perceive Colonel
O'Brien looking full in my face, and staring very hard at me;--what was
my greater astonishment at seeing Celeste, who immediately recognised
me, and ran back to the sofa in the room, putting her hands up to her
eyes, and crying out "_C'est lui, c'est lui_!" Fortunately O'Brien was
close to me, or I should have fallen, but he supported me. "Peter, ask
the crowd for money, or you are lost." I did so, and collecting some
pence, then asked him what I should do. "Go back to the window--you can
then judge of what will happen." I returned to the window; Colonel
O'Brien had disappeared, but Celeste was there, as if waiting for me. I
held out the cap to her, and she thrust her hand into it. The cap sank
with the weight. I took out a purse, which I kept closed in my hand, and
put it into my bosom. Celeste then retired from the window, and when she
had gone to the back of the room kissed her hand to me, and went out at
the door. I remained stupefied for a moment, but O'Brien roused me, and
we quitted the _Grande Place_, taking up our quarters at a little
cabaret. On examining the purse, I found fifty Napoleons in it: these
must have been, obtained from her father. I cried over them with
delight. O'Brien was also much affected at the kindness of the colonel.
"He's a real O'Brien, every inch of him," said he: "even this cursed
country can't spoil the breed."

At the cabaret where we stopped, we were informed, that the officer who
was at the hotel had been appointed to the command of the strong fort of
Bergen-op-Zoom, and was proceeding thither.

"We must not chance to meet him again, if possible," said O'Brien; "it
would be treading too close upon the heels of his duty. Neither will it
do to appear on stilts among the dikes; so, Peter, we'll just jump on
clear of this town and then we'll trust to our wits."

We walked out of the town early in the morning, after O'Brien had made
purchases of some of the clothes usually worn by the peasantry. When
within a few miles of St Nicholas, we threw away our stilts and the
clothes which we had on, and dressed ourselves in those O'Brien had
purchased. O'Brien had not forgotten to provide us with two large
brown-coloured blankets, which we strapped on to our shoulders, as the
soldiers do their coats.

"But what are we to pass for now, O'Brien?"

"Peter, I will settle that point before night. My wits are working, but
I like to trust to chance for a stray idea or so; we must walk fast, or
we shall be smothered with the snow."

It was bitter cold weather, and the snow had fallen heavily during the
whole day; but although nearly dusk, there was a bright moon ready for
us. We walked very fast, and soon observed persons ahead of us. "Let us
overtake them, we may obtain some information." As we came up with them,
one of them (they were both lads of seventeen to eighteen) said to
O'Brien, "I thought we were the last, but I was mistaken. How far is it
now to St Nicholas?"

"How should I know?" replied O'Brien, "I am a stranger in these parts as
well as yourself."

"From what part of France do you come?" demanded the other, his teeth
chattering with the cold, for he was badly clothed, and with little
defence from the inclement weather.

"From Montpelier," replied O'Brien.

"And I from Toulouse. A sad change, comrade, from olives and vines to
such a climate as this. Curse the conscription: I intended to have
taken a little wife next year."

O'Brien gave me a push, as if to say, "Here's something that will do,"
and then continued,--

"And curse the conscription I say too, for I had just married, and now
my wife is left to be annoyed by the attention of the _fermier général_.
But it can't be helped. _C'est pour la France et pour la gloire_."

"We shall be too late to get a billet," replied the other, "and not a
sou have I in my pocket. I doubt if I get up with the main body till
they are at Flushing. By our route, they are at Axel to-day."

"If we arrive at St Nicholas, we shall do well," replied O'Brien; "but I
have a little money left, and I'll not see a comrade want a supper or a
bed who is going to serve his country. You can repay me when we meet at
Flushing."

"That I will with thanks," replied the Frenchman; "and so will Jacques
here, if you will trust him."

"With pleasure," replied O'Brien, who then entered into a long
conversation, by which he drew out from the Frenchmen that a party of
conscripts had been ordered to Flushing, and that they had dropped
behind the main body. O'Brien passed himself off as a conscript
belonging to the party, and me as his brother, who had resolved to join
the army as a drummer, rather than part with him. In about an hour we
arrived at St Nicholas, and after some difficulty obtained entrance into
a cabaret. "_Vive la France_!" said O'Brien, going up to the fire, and
throwing the snow off his hat. In a short time we were seated to a good
supper and very tolerable wine, the hostess sitting down by us, and
listening to the true narratives of the real conscripts, and the false
one of O'Brien. After supper the conscript who first addressed us pulled
out his printed paper, with the route laid down, and observed that we
were two days behind the others. O'Brien read it over, and laid it on
the table, at the same time calling for more wine, having already pushed
it round very freely. We did not drink much ourselves, but plied them
hard, and at last the conscript commenced the whole history of his
intended marriage and his disappointment, tearing his hair, and crying
now and then. "Never mind," interrupted O'Brien, every two or three
minutes, "_buvons un autre coup pour la gloire_!" and thus he continued
to make them both drink until they reeled away to bed, forgetting their
printed paper, which O'Brien had some time before slipped away from the
table. We also retired to our room, when O'Brien observed to me. "Peter,
this description is as much like me as I am to Old Nick; but that's of
no consequence, as nobody goes willingly as a conscript, and therefore
they will never have a doubt but that it is all right. We must be off
early to-morrow, while these good people are in bed, and steal a long
march upon them. I consider that we are now safe as far as Flushing."



Chapter XXIV

What occurred at Flushing, and what occurred when we got out of
Flushing.


An hour before daybreak we started; the snow was thick on the ground,
but the sky was clear, and without any difficulty or interruption we
passed through the towns of Axel and Halst, arrived at Terneuse on the
fourth day, and went over to Flushing in company with about a dozen more
stragglers from the main body. As we landed, the guard asked us whether
we were conscripts. O'Brien replied that he was, and held out his paper.
They took his name, or rather that of the person it belonged to, down in
a book, and told him that he must apply to the _état major_ before
three o'clock. We passed on delighted with our success, and then O'Brien
pulled out the letter which had been given to him by the woman of the
cabaret, who had offered to assist me to escape, when O'Brien passed off
as a gendarme, and reading the address, demanded his way to the street.
We soon found out the house, and entered.

"Conscripts!" said the woman of the house, looking at O'Brien; "I am
billeted full already. It must be a mistake. Where is your order?"

"Read," said O'Brien, handing her the letter.

She read the letter, and putting it into her neckerchief, desired him to
follow her. O'Brien beckoned me to come, and we went into a small room.
"What can I do for you?" said the woman; "I will do all in my power:
but, alas! you will march from here in two or three days."

"Never mind," replied O'Brien, "we will talk the matter over by-and-by,
but at present only oblige us by letting us remain in this little room;
we do not wish to be seen."

"_Comment done_!--you a conscript, and not wish to be seen! Are you,
then, intending to desert?"

"Answer me one question; you have read that letter, do you intend to act
up to its purport, as your sister requests?"

"As I hope for mercy I will, if I suffer everything. She is a dear
sister, and would not write so earnestly if she had not strong reason.
My house and everything you command are yours--can I say more?"

"But," continued O'Brien, "suppose I did intend to desert, would you
then assist me?"

"At my peril," replied the woman: "have you not assisted my family when
in difficulty?"

"Well, then, I will not at present detain you from your business; I have
heard you called several times. Let us have dinner when convenient, and
we will remain here."

"If I have any knowledge of phiz--_what d'ye call it_," observed
O'Brien, after she left us, "there is honesty in that woman, and I must
trust her, but not yet; we must wait till the conscripts have gone." I
agreed with O'Brien, and we remained talking until an hour afterwards,
when the woman brought us our dinner.

"What is your name?" inquired O'Brien.

"Louise Eustache; you might have read it on the letter."

"Are you married?"

"Oh yes, these six years. My husband is seldom at home; he is a Flushing
pilot. A hard life, harder even than that of a soldier. Who is this
lad?"

"He is my brother, who, if I go as a soldier, intends to volunteer as a
drummer."

"_Pauvre enfant! c'est dommage_."

The cabaret was full of conscripts and other people, so that the hostess
had enough to do. At night, we were shown by her into a small bed-room,
adjoining the room we occupied. "You are quite alone here; the
conscripts are to muster to-morrow, I find, in the _Place d'Armes_, at
two o'clock; do you intend to go?"

"No," replied O'Brien: "they will think that I am behind. It is of no
consequence."

"Well," replied the woman, "do as you please, you may trust me: but I am
so busy, without any one to assist me, that until they leave the town, I
can hardly find time to speak to you."

"That will be soon enough, my good hostess," replied O'Brien: "_au
revoir_."

The next evening, the woman came in, in some alarm, stating that a
conscript had arrived whose name had been given in before, and that the
person who had given it in, had not mustered at the place. That the
conscript had declared, that his pass had been stolen from him by a
person with whom he had stopped at St Nicholas, and that there were
orders for a strict search to be made through the town, as it was known
that some English officers had escaped, and it was supposed that one of
them had obtained the pass. "Surely you're not English?" inquired the
woman, looking earnestly at O'Brien.

"Indeed, but I am, my dear," replied O'Brien: "and so is this lad with
me: and the favour which your sister requires is, that you help us over
the water, for which service there are one hundred louis ready to be
paid upon delivery of us."

"_Oh, mon Dieu! mais c'est impossible_."

"Impossible!" replied O'Brien; "was that the answer I gave your sister
in her trouble?"

"_Au moins c'est fort difficile_."

"That's quite another concern; but with your husband a pilot, I should
think a great part of the difficulty removed."

"My husband! I've no power over him," replied the woman, putting the
apron up to her eyes.

"But one hundred louis may have," replied O'Brien.

"There is truth in that," observed the woman, after a pause, "but what
am I to do, if they come to search the house?"

"Send us out of it, until you can find an opportunity to send us to
England. I leave it all to you--your sister expects it from you."

"And she shall not be disappointed, if God helps us," replied the woman,
after a short pause: "but I fear you must leave this house and the town
also to-night."

"How are we to leave the town?"

"I will arrange that; be ready at four o'clock, for the gates are shut
at dusk. I must go now, for there is no time to be lost."

"We are in a nice mess now, O'Brien," observed I, after the woman had
quitted the room.

"Devil a bit, Peter; I feel no anxiety whatever, except at leaving such
good quarters."

We packed up all our effects, not forgetting our two blankets, and
waited the return of the hostess. In about an hour she entered the room.
"I have spoken to my husband's sister, who lives about two miles on the
road to Middelburg. She is in town now, for it is market-day, and you
will be safe where she hides you. I told her, it was by my husband's
request, or she would not have consented. Here, boy, put on these
clothes; I will assist you." Once more I was dressed as a girl, and when
my clothes were on, O'Brien burst out into laughter at my blue stockings
and short petticoats. "_Il n'est pas mal_," observed the hostess, as she
fixed a small cap on my head, and then tied a kerchief under my chin,
which partly hid my face. O'Brien put on a greatcoat, which the woman
handed to him, with a wide-brimmed hat. "Now follow me!" She led us into
the street, which was thronged, till we arrived at the market-place,
when she met another woman, who joined her. At the end of the
market-place stood a small horse and cart, into which the strange woman
and I mounted, while O'Brien, by the directions of the landlady, led the
horse through the crowd until we arrived at the barriers, when she
wished us good day in a loud voice before the guard. The guard took no
notice of us, and we passed safely through, and found ourselves upon a
neatly-paved road, as straight as an arrow, and lined on each side with
high trees and a ditch. In about an hour, we stopped near to the
farmhouse of the woman who was in charge of us. "Do you observe that
wood?" said she to O'Brien, pointing to one about half a mile from the
road. "I dare not take you into the house, my husband is so violent
against the English, who captured his schuyt, and made him a poor man,
that he would inform against you immediately; but go you there, make
yourselves as comfortable as you can to-night, and to-morrow I will send
you what you want. _Adieu! Je vous plains, pauvre enfant_." said she,
looking at me, as she drove off in the cart towards her own house.

"Peter," said O'Brien, "I think that her kicking us out of her house is
a proof of her sincerity, and therefore I say no more about it; we have
the brandy-flask to keep up our spirits. Now then for the wood, though,
by the powers, I shall have no relish for any of your pic-nic parties,
as they call them, for the next twelve years."

"But, O'Brien, how can I get over this ditch in petticoats? I could
hardly leap it in my own clothes."

"You must tie your petticoats round your waist and make a good run; get
over as far as you can, and I will drag you through the rest."

"But you forget that we are to sleep in the wood, and that it's no
laughing matter to get wet through, freezing so hard as it does now."

"Very true, Peter; but as the snow lies so deep upon the ditch, perhaps
the ice may bear. I'll try; if it bears me, it will not condescend to
bend at your shrimp of a carcass."

O'Brien tried the ice, which was firm, and we both walked over, and
making all the haste we could, arrived at the wood, as the woman called
it, but which was not more than a clump of trees of about half an acre.
We cleared away the snow for about six feet round a very hollow part,
and then O'Brien cut stakes and fixed them in the earth, to which we
stretched one blanket. The snow being about two feet deep, there was
plenty of room to creep underneath the blanket. We then collected all
the leaves we could, beating the snow off them, and laid them at the
bottom of the hole; over the leaves we spread the other blanket, and
taking our bundles in, we then stopped up with snow every side of the
upper blanket, except the hole to creep in at. It was quite astonishing
what a warm place this became in a short time after we had remained in
it. It was almost too warm, although the weather outside was piercingly
cold. After a good meal and a dose of brandy, we both fell fast asleep,
but not until I had taken off my woman's attire and resumed my own
clothes. We never slept better or more warmly than we did in this hole
which we had made on the ground, covered with ice and snow.



Chapter XXV

O'Brien parts company to hunt for provisions, and I have other company
in consequence of another hunt--O'Brien pathetically mourns my death and
finds me alive--We escape.


The ensuing morning we looked out anxiously for the promised assistance,
for we were not very rich in provisions, although what we had were of a
very good quality. It was not until three o'clock in the afternoon that
we perceived a little girl coming towards us, escorted by a large
mastiff. When she arrived at the copse of trees where we lay concealed,
she cried out to the dog in Dutch, who immediately scoured the wood
until he came to our hiding-place, when he crouched down at the
entrance, barking furiously, and putting us in no small dread, lest he
should attack us; but the little girl spoke to him again, and he
remained in the same position, looking at us, wagging his tail, with his
under jaw lying on the snow. She soon came up, and looking underneath,
put a basket in, and nodded her head. We emptied the basket. O'Brien
took out a napoleon and offered it to her; she refused it, but O'Brien
forced it into her hand, upon which she again spoke to the dog, who
commenced barking so furiously at us, that we expected every moment he
would fly upon us. The girl at the same time presented the napoleon, and
pointing to the dog, I went forward and took the napoleon from her, at
which she immediately silenced the enormous brute, and laughing at us,
hastened away.

"By the powers, that's a fine little girl!" said O'Brien; "I'll back her
and her dog against any man. Well, I never had a dog set at me for
giving money before, but we live and learn, Peter; now let's see what
she brought in the basket." We found hard-boiled eggs, bread, and a
smoked mutton ham, with a large bottle of gin. "What a nice little girl!
I hope she will often favour us with her company. I've been thinking,
Peter, that we're quite as well off here, as in a midshipman's berth."

"You forget you are a lieutenant."

"Well, so I did, Peter, and that's the truth, but it's the force of
habit. Now let's make our dinner. It's a new-fashioned way though, of
making a meal, lying down; but however, it's economical, for it must
take longer to swallow the victuals."

"The Romans used to eat their meals lying down, so I have read,
O'Brien."

"I can't say that I ever heard it mentioned in Ireland, but that don't
prove that it was not the case; so, Peter, I'll take your word for it.
Murder! how fast it snows again! I wonder what my father's thinking on
just at this moment."

This observation of O'Brien induced us to talk about our friends and
relations in England, and after much conversation we fell fast asleep.
The next morning we found the snow had fallen about eight inches, and
weighed down our upper blanket so much, that we were obliged to go out
and cut stakes to support it up from the inside. While we were thus
employed, we heard a loud noise and shouting, and perceived several men,
apparently armed and accompanied with dogs, running straight in the
direction of the wood where we were encamped. We were much alarmed,
thinking that they were in search of us, but on a sudden they turned off
in another direction, continuing with the same speed as before. "What
could it be?" said I, to O'Brien. "I can't exactly say, Peter; but I
should think that they were hunting something, and the only game that I
think likely to be in such a place as this are otters." I was of the
same opinion. We expected the little girl, but she did not come, and
after looking out for her till dark, we crawled into our hole and supped
upon the remainder of our provisions.

The next day, as may be supposed, we were very anxious for her arrival,
but she did not appear at the time expected. Night again came on, and we
went to bed without having any sustenance, except a small piece of bread
that was left, and some gin which was remaining in the flask. "Peter,"
said O'Brien, "if she don't come again to-morrow, I'll try what I can
do; for I've no idea of our dying of hunger here, like the two babes in
the wood, and being found covered up with dead leaves. If she does not
appear at three o'clock, I'm off for provisions, and I don't see much
danger, for in this dress I look as much of a boor as any man in
Holland."

We passed an uneasy night, as we felt convinced, either that the danger
was so great that they dared not venture to assist us, or, that being
over-ruled, they had betrayed us, and left us to manage how we could.
The next morning I climbed up the only large tree in the copse and
looked round, especially in the direction of the farm-house belonging to
the woman who had pointed out to us our place of concealment; but
nothing was to be seen but one vast tract of flat country covered with
snow, and now and then a vehicle passing at a distance on the Middelburg
road. I descended, and found O'Brien preparing for a start. He was very
melancholy, and said to me, "Peter, if I am taken, you must, at all
risks, put on your girl's clothes and go to Flushing to the cabaret. The
women there, I am sure, will protect you, and send you back to England.
I only want two napoleons; take all the rest, you will require them. If
I am not back by to-night, set off for Flushing to-morrow morning."
O'Brien waited some time longer, talking with me, and it then being past
four o'clock, he shook me by the hand, and, without speaking, left the
wood. I never felt more miserable during the whole time since we were
first put into prison at Toulon, till that moment, and, when he was a
hundred yards off, I knelt down and prayed. He had been absent two
hours, and it was quite dusk, when I heard a noise at a distance: it
advanced every moment nearer and nearer. On a sudden, I heard a rustling
of the bushes, and hastened under the blanket, which was covered with
snow, in hopes that they might not perceive the entrance; but I was
hardly there before in dashed after me an enormous wolf. I cried out,
expecting to be torn to pieces every moment, but the creature lay on his
belly, his mouth wide open, his eyes glaring, and his long tongue
hanging out of his mouth, and although he touched me, he was so
exhausted that he did not attack me. The noise increased, and I
immediately perceived that it was the hunters in pursuit of him. I had
crawled in feet first, the wolf ran in head foremost, so that we lay
head and tail. I crept out as fast as I could, and perceived men and
dogs not two hundred yards off in full chase. I hastened to the large
tree, and had not ascended six feet when they came up; the dogs flew to
the hole, and in a very short time the wolf was killed. The hunters
being too busy to observe me, I had in the meantime climbed up the trunk
of the tree, and hidden myself as well as I could. Being not fifteen
yards from them, I heard their expressions of surprise as they lifted up
the blanket and dragged out the dead wolf, which they carried away with
them; their conversation being in Dutch, I could not understand it, but
I was certain that they made use of the word "_English_." The hunters
and dogs quitted the copse, and I was about to descend, when one of them
returned, and pulling up the blankets, rolled them together and walked
away with them. Fortunately he did not perceive our bundles by the
little light given by the moon. I waited a short time and then came
down. What to do I knew not. If I did not remain and O'Brien returned,
what would he think? If I did, I should be dead with cold before the
morning. I looked for our bundles, and found that in the conflict
between the dogs and the wolf, they had been buried among the leaves. I
recollected O'Brien's advice, and dressed myself in the girl's clothes,
but I could not make up my mind to go to Flushing. So I resolved to walk
towards the farmhouse, which, being close to the road, would give me a
chance of meeting with O'Brien. I soon arrived there and prowled round
it for some time, but the doors and windows were all fast, and I dared
not knock, after what the woman had said about her husband's inveteracy
to the English. At last, as I looked round and round, quite at a loss
what to do, I thought I saw a figure at a distance proceeding in the
direction of the copse. I hastened after it and saw it enter. I then
advanced very cautiously, for although I thought it might be O'Brien,
yet it was possible that it was one of the men who chased the wolf in
search of more plunder. But I soon heard O'Brien's voice, and I hastened
towards him. I was close to him without his perceiving me, and found him
sitting down with his face covered up in his two hands. At last he
cried, "O Pater! my poor Pater! are you taken at last? Could I not leave
you for one hour in safety? Ochone! why did I leave you? My poor, poor
Pater! simple you were, sure enough, and that's why I loved you; but,
Pater, I would have made a man of you, for you'd all the materials,
that's the truth--and a fine man, too. Where am I to look for you,
Pater? Where am I to find you, Pater? You're fast locked up by this
time, and all my trouble's gone for nothing. But I'll be locked up too,
Pater. Where you are, will I be; and if we can't go to England together,
why then we'll go back to that blackguard hole at Givet together.
Ochone! Ochone!" O'Brien spoke no more, but burst into tears. I was much
affected with this proof of O'Brien's sincere regard, and I came to his
side and clasped him in my arms. O'Brien stared at me, "Who are you, you
ugly Dutch frow?" (for he had quite forgotten the woman's dress at the
moment), but recollecting himself, he hugged me in his arms. "Pater, you
come as near to an angel's shape as you can, for you come in that of a
woman, to comfort me; for, to tell the truth, I was very much distressed
at not finding you here; and all the blankets gone to boot. What has
been the matter?" I explained in as few words as I could.

"Well, Peter, I'm happy to find you all safe, and much happier to find
that you can be trusted when I leave you, for you could not have behaved
more prudently; now I'll tell you what I did, which was not much, as it
happened. I knew that there was no cabaret between us and Flushing, for
I took particular notice as I came along; so I took the road to
Middelburg, and found but one, which was full of soldiers. I passed it,
and found no other. As I came back past the same cabaret, one of the
soldiers came out to me, but I walked along the road. He quickened his
pace, and so did I mine, for I expected mischief. At last he came up to
me, and spoke to me in Dutch, to which I gave him no answer. He collared
me, and then I thought it convenient to pretend that I was deaf and
dumb. I pointed to my mouth with an Au--au--and then to my ears, and
shook my head; but he would not be convinced, and I heard him say
something about English. I then knew that there was no time to be lost,
so I first burst out into a loud laugh and stopped; and on his
attempting to force me, I kicked up his heels, and he fell on the ice
with such a rap on the pate, that I doubt if he has recovered it by this
time. There I left him, and have run back as hard as I could, without
anything for Peter to fill his little hungry inside with. Now, Peter,
what's your opinion? for they say that out of the mouth of babes there
is wisdom; and although I never saw anything come out of their mouths
but sour milk, yet perhaps I may be more fortunate this time, for,
Peter, you're but a baby."

"Not a small one, O'Brien, although not quite so large as Fingal's
_babby_ that you told me the story of. My idea is this.--Let us, at all
hazards, go to the farmhouse. They have assisted us, and may be inclined
to do so again; if they refuse, we must push on to Flushing and take our
chance."

"Well," observed O'Brien, after a pause, "I think we can do no better,
so let's be off." We went to the farmhouse, and, as we approached the
door, were met by the great mastiff. I started back, O'Brien boldly
advanced. "He's a clever dog, and may know us again. I'll go up," said
O'Brien, not stopping while he spoke, "and pat his head: if he flies at
me, I shall be no worse than I was before, for depend upon it he will
not allow us to go back again." O'Brien by this time had advanced to the
dog, who looked earnestly and angrily at him. He patted his head, the
dog growled, but O'Brien put his arm round his neck, and patting him
again, whistled to him, and went to the door of the farmhouse. The dog
followed him silently but closely. O'Brien knocked, and the door was
opened by the little girl: the mastiff advanced to the girl, and then
turned round, facing O'Brien, as much as to say, "Is he to come in?" The
girl spoke to the dog, and went indoors. During her absence the mastiff
lay down at the threshold. In a few seconds the woman who had brought us
from Flushing, came out, and desired us to enter. She spoke very good
French, and told us that fortunately her husband was absent; that the
reason why we had not been supplied was, that a wolf had met her little
girl returning the other day, but had been beaten off by the mastiff,
and that she was afraid to allow her to go again; that she heard the
wolf had been killed this evening, and had intended her girl to have
gone to us early to-morrow morning; that wolves were hardly known in
that country, but that the severe winter had brought them down to the
lowlands, a very rare circumstance, occurring perhaps not once in twenty
years. "But how did you pass the mastiff?" said she; "that has surprised
my daughter and me." O'Brien told her, upon which she said "that the
English were really '_des braves_.' No other man had ever done the
same." So I thought, for nothing would have induced me to do it. O'Brien
then told the history of the death of the wolf, with all particulars,
and our intention, if we could not do better, of returning to Flushing.

"I heard that Pierre Eustache came home yesterday," replied the woman;
"and I do think that you will be safer there than here, for they will
never think of looking for you among the _casernes_, which join their
cabaret."

"Will you lend us your assistance to get in?"

"I will see what I can do. But are you not hungry?"

"About as hungry as men who have eaten nothing for two days."

"_Mon Dieu! c'est vrai._ I never thought it was so long, but those whose
stomachs are filled forget those who are empty. God make us better and
more charitable!"

She spoke to the little girl in Dutch, who hastened to load the table,
which we hastened to empty. The little girl stared at our voracity; but
at last she laughed out, and clapped her hands at every fresh mouthful
which we took, and pressed us to eat more. She allowed me to kiss her,
until her mother told her that I was not a woman, when she pouted at me,
and beat me off. Before midnight we were fast asleep upon the benches
before the kitchen fire, and at daybreak were roused up by the woman,
who offered us some bread and spirits, and then we went out to the door,
where we found the horse and cart all ready, and loaded with vegetables
for the market. The woman, the little girl, and myself got in, O'Brien
leading as before, and the mastiff following. We had learnt the dog's
name, which was "_Achille_," and he seemed to be quite fond of us. We
passed the dreaded barriers without interruption, and in ten minutes
entered the cabaret of Eustache; and immediately walked into the little
room through a crowd of soldiers, two of whom chucked me under the chin.
Whom should we find there but Eustache, the pilot himself, in
conversation with his wife, and it appeared that they were talking about
us, she insisting, and he unwilling to have any hand in the business.
"Well, here they are themselves, Eustache; the soldiers who have seen
them come in will never believe that this is their first entry if you
give them up. I leave them to make their own bargain; but mark me,
Eustache, I have slaved night and day in this cabaret for your profit;
if you do not oblige me and my family, I no longer keep a cabaret for
you."

Madame Eustache then quitted the room with her husband's sister and
little girl, and O'Brien immediately accosted him. "I promise you," said
he to Eustache, "one hundred louis if you put us on shore at any part of
England, or on board of any English man-of-war; and if you do it within
a week, I will make it twenty louis more." O'Brien then pulled out the
fifty napoleons given us by Celeste, for our own were not yet expended,
and laid them on the table. "Here is this in advance, to prove my
sincerity. Say, is it a bargain or not?"

"I never yet heard of a poor man who could withstand his wife's
arguments, backed with one hundred and twenty louis," said Eustache
smiling, and sweeping the money off the table.

"I presume you have no objection to start to-night? That will be ten
louis more in your favour," replied O'Brien.

"I shall earn them," replied Eustache. "The sooner I am off the better,
for I could not long conceal you here. The young frow with you is, I
suppose, your companion that my wife mentioned. He has begun to suffer
hardships early. Come, now, sit down and talk, for nothing can be done
till dark."

O'Brien narrated the adventures attending our escape, at which Eustache
laughed heartily; the more so, at the mistake which his wife was under,
as to the obligations of the family. "If I did not feel inclined to
assist you before, I do now, just for the laugh I shall have at her when
I come back, and if she wants any more assistance for the sake of her
relations, I shall remind her of this anecdote; but she's a good woman
and a good wife to boot, only too fond of her sisters." At dusk he
equipped us both in sailor's jackets and trowsers, and desired us to
follow him boldly. He passed the guard, who knew him well. "What, to sea
already?" said one. "You have quarrelled with your wife." At which they
all laughed, and we joined. We gained the beach, jumped into his little
boat, pulled off to his vessel, and, in a few minutes, were under weigh.
With a strong tide and a fair wind we were soon clear of the Scheldt,
and the next morning a cutter hove in sight. We steered for her, ran
under her lee, O'Brien hailed for a boat, and Eustache, receiving my
bill for the remainder of his money, wished us success; we shook hands,
and in a few minutes found ourselves once more under the British
pennant.



Chapter XXVI

Adventures at home--I am introduced to my grandfather--He obtains
employment for O'Brien and myself, and we join a frigate.


As soon as we were on the deck of the cutter, the lieutenant commanding
her inquired of us, in a consequential manner, who we were. O'Brien
replied that we were English prisoners who had escaped. "Oh, midshipmen,
I presume," replied the lieutenant; "I heard that some had contrived to
get away."

"My name, sir," said O'Brien, "is Lieutenant O'Brien; and if you'll send
for a 'Steel's List,' I will have the honour of pointing it out to you.
This young gentleman is Mr Peter Simple, midshipman, and grandson to the
Right Honourable Lord Viscount Privilege."

The lieutenant, who was a little snub-nosed man, with a pimply face,
then altered his manner towards us, and begged we would step down into
the cabin, where he offered, what perhaps was the greatest of all
luxuries to us, some English cheese and bottled porter. "Pray," said he,
"did you see anything of one of my officers, who was taken prisoner when
I was sent with despatches to the Mediterranean fleet?"

"May I first ask the name of your lively little craft?" said O'Brien.

"'The Snapper,'" replied the lieutenant.

"Och, murder; sure enough we met him. He was sent to Verdun, but we had
the pleasure of his company _en route_ as far as Montpelier. A
remarkably genteel, well-dressed young man, was he not?"

"Why, I can't say much about his gentility; indeed, I am not much of a
judge. As for his dress, he ought to have dressed well, but he never did
when on board of me. His father is my tailor, and I took him as
midshipman, just to square an account between us."

"That's exactly what I thought," replied O'Brien.

He did not say any more, which I was glad of, as the lieutenant might
not have been pleased at what had occurred.

"When do you expect to run into port?" demanded O'Brien; for we were
rather anxious to put our feet ashore again in old England. The
lieutenant replied that his cruise was nearly up; and he considered our
arrival quite sufficient reason for him to run in directly, and that he
intended to put his helm up after the people had had their dinner. We
were much delighted with this intelligence, and still more to see the
intention put into execution half an hour afterwards.

In three days we anchored at Spithead, and went on shore with the
lieutenant to report ourselves to the admiral. Oh! with what joy did I
first put my foot on the shingle beach at Sallyport, and then hasten to
the post-office to put in a long letter which I had written to my
mother. We did not go to the admiral's, but merely reported ourselves at
the admiral's office; for we had no clothes fit to appear in. But we
called at Meredith's the tailor, and he promised that, by the next
morning, we should be fitted complete. We then ordered new hats, and
everything we required, and went to the Fountain inn. O'Brien refused to
go to the Blue Posts, as being only a receptacle for midshipmen. By
eleven o'clock the next morning, we were fit to appear before the
admiral, who received us very kindly, and requested our company to
dinner. As I did not intend setting off for home until I had received an
answer from my mother, we, of course, accepted the invitation.

There was a large party of naval officers and ladies, and O'Brien amused
them very much during dinner. When the ladies left the room, the
admiral's wife told me to come up with them; and when we arrived at the
drawing-room, the ladies all gathered round me, and I had to narrate the
whole of my adventures, which very much entertained and interested them.
The next morning I received a letter from my mother--such a kind one!
entreating me to come home as fast as I could, and bring my _preserver_
O'Brien with me. I showed it to O'Brien, and asked him whether he would
accompany me.

"Why, Peter, my boy, I have a little business of some importance to
transact; which is, to obtain my arrears of pay, and some prize-money
which I find due. When I have settled that point, I will go to town to
pay my respects to the First Lord of the Admiralty, and then I think I
will go and see your father and mother: for, until I know how matters
stand, and whether I shall be able to go with spare cash in my pocket, I
do not wish to see my own family; so write down your address here, and
you'll be sure I'll come, if it is only to square my accounts with you,
for I am not a little in your debt."

I cashed a cheque sent by my father, and set off in the mail that night;
the next evening I arrived safe home. But I shall leave the reader to
imagine the scene: to my mother I was always dear, and circumstances had
rendered me of some importance to my father; for I was now an only son,
and his prospects were very different from what they were when I left
home. About a week afterwards, O'Brien joined us, having got through all
his business. His first act was to account with my father for his share
of the expenses; and he even insisted upon paying his half of the fifty
napoleons given me by Celeste, which had been remitted to a banker at
Paris before O'Brien's arrival, with a guarded letter of thanks from my
father to Colonel O'Brien, and another from me to dear little Celeste.
When O'Brien had remained with us about a week, he told me that he had
about one hundred and sixty pounds in his pocket, and that he intended
to go and see his friends, as he was sure that he would be welcome even
to Father M'Grath. "I mean to stay with them about a fortnight, and
shall then return and apply for employment. Now, Peter, will you like to
be again under my protection?"

"O'Brien, I will never quit you or your ship, if I can help it."

"Spoken like a sensible Peter. Well, then, I was promised immediate
employment, and I will let you know as soon as the promise is
performed."

O'Brien took his leave of my family, who were already very partial to
him, and left that afternoon for Holyhead. My father no longer treated
me as a child; indeed, it would have been an injustice if he had. I do
not mean to say that I was a clever boy; but I had seen much of the
world in a short time, and could act and think for myself. He often
talked to me about his prospects, which were very different from what
they were when I left him. My two uncles, his elder brothers, had died,
the third was married and had two daughters. If he had no son, my father
would succeed to the title. The death of my elder brother Tom had
brought me next in succession. My grandfather, Lord Privilege, who had
taken no more notice of my father than occasionally sending him a basket
of game, had latterly often invited him to the house, and had even
requested, _some day or another_, to see his wife and family. He had
also made a handsome addition to my father's income, which the death of
my two uncles had enabled him to do. Against all this, my uncle's wife
was reported to be again in the family way. I cannot say that I was
pleased when my father used to speculate upon these chances so often as
he did. I thought, not only as a man, but more particularly as a
clergyman, he was much to blame; but I did not know then so much of the
world. We had not heard from O'Brien for two months, when a letter
arrived, stating that he had seen his family, and bought a few acres of
land, which had made them all quite happy, and had quitted with Father
M'Grath's double blessing, with unlimited absolution; that he had now
been a month in town trying for employment, but found that he could not
obtain it, although one promise was backed up by another.

A few days after this, my father received a note from Lord Privilege,
requesting he would come and spend a few days with him, and bring his
son Peter who had escaped from the French prison. Of course this was an
invitation not to be neglected, and we accepted it forthwith. I must
say, I felt rather in awe of my grandfather; he had kept the family at
such a distance, that I had always heard his name mentioned more with
reverence than with any feeling of kindred, but I was a little wiser
now. We arrived at Eagle Park, a splendid estate, where he resided, and
were received by a dozen servants in and out of livery, and ushered into
his presence. He was in his library, a large room, surrounded with
handsome bookcases, sitting on an easy chair. A more venerable, placid
old gentleman I never beheld; his grey hairs hung down on each side of
his temples, and were collected in a small _queue_ behind. He rose and
bowed, as we were announced; to my father he held out _two_ fingers in
salutation, to me only _one_, but there was an elegance in the manner in
which it was done which was indescribable. He waved his hand to chairs,
placed by the _gentleman_ out of livery, and requested we would be
seated. I could not, at the time, help thinking of Mr Chucks, the
boatswain, and his remarks upon high breeding, which were so true: and I
laughed to myself when I recollected that Mr Chucks had once dined with
him. As soon as the servants had quitted the room, the distance on the
part of my grandfather appeared to wear off. He interrogated me on
several points, and seemed pleased with my replies; but he always called
me "child." After a conversation of half an hour, my father rose, saying
that his lordship must be busy, and that we would go over the grounds
till dinner-time. My grandfather rose, and we took a sort of formal
leave; but it was not a formal leave, after all, it was high breeding,
respecting yourself and respecting others. For my part, I was pleased
with the first interview, and so I told my father after we had left the
room. "My dear Peter," replied he, "your grandfather has one idea which
absorbs most others--the peerage, the estate, and the descent of it in
the right line. As long as your uncles were alive, we were not thought
of, as not being in the line of descent; nor should we now, but that
your uncle William has only daughters. Still we are not looked upon as
actual, but only contingent, inheritors of the title. Were your uncle to
die to-morrow, the difference in his behaviour would be manifested
immediately."

"That is to say, instead of _two fingers_ you would receive the _whole_
hand, and instead of _one_ finger, I should obtain promotion to _two_."

At this my father laughed heartily, saying, "Peter, you have exactly hit
the mark. I cannot imagine how we ever could have been so blind as to
call you the fool of the family."

To this I made no reply, for it was difficult so to do without
depreciating others or depreciating myself; but I changed the subject by
commenting on the beauties of the park, and the splendid timber with
which it was adorned. "Yes, Peter," replied my father, with a sigh,
"thirty-five thousand a year in land, money in the funds, and timber
worth at least forty thousand more, are not to be despised. But God
wills everything." After this remark, my father appeared to be in deep
thought, and I did not interrupt him.

We stayed ten days with my grandfather, during which he would often
detain me for two hours after breakfast, listening to my adventures, and
I really believe was very partial to me. The day before I went away he
said, "Child, you are going to-morrow; now tell me what you would like,
as I wish to give you a token of regard. Don't be afraid; what shall it
be--a watch and seals, or--anything you most fancy?"

"My lord," replied I, "if you wish to do me a favour, it is, that you
will apply to the First Lord of the Admiralty to appoint Lieutenant
O'Brien to a fine frigate, and, at the same time, ask for a vacancy as
midshipman for me."

"O'Brien!" replied his lordship; "I recollect it was he who accompanied
you from France, and appears, by your account, to have been a true
friend. I am pleased with your request, my child, and it shall be
granted."

His lordship then desired me to hand him the paper and ink-standish,
wrote by my directions, sealed the letter, and told me he would send me
the answer. The next day we quitted Eagle Park, his lordship wishing my
father good-bye with _two_ fingers, and to me extending _one_, as
before; but he said, "I am pleased with you, child; you may write
occasionally."

When we were on our route home, my father observed that "I had made more
progress with my grandfather than he had known anyone to do, since he
could recollect. His saying that you might write to him is at least ten
thousand pounds to you in his will, for he never deceives any one, or
changes his mind." My reply was, that I should like to see the ten
thousand pounds, but that I was not so sanguine.

A few days after our return home, I received a letter and enclosure from
Lord Privilege, the contents of which were as follow:--

"My dear Child,--I send you Lord----'s answer, which I trust will prove
satisfactory. My compliments to your family.--Yours, &c., PRIVILEGE."

The inclosure was a handsome letter from the First Lord, stating that he
had appointed O'Brien to the _Sanglier_ frigate, and had ordered me to
be received on board as midshipman. I was delighted to forward this
letter to O'Brien's address, who, in a few days sent me an answer,
thanking me, and stating that he had received his 'appointment, and that
I need not join for a month, which was quite time enough, as the ship
was refitting; but, that if my family were tired of me, which was
sometimes the case in the best regulated families, why, then I should
learn something of my duty by coming to Portsmouth. He concluded by
sending his kind regards to all the family, and his _love_ to my
grandfather, which last I certainly did not forward in my letter of
thanks. About a month afterwards I received a letter from O'Brien,
stating that the ship was ready to go out of harbour, and would be
anchored off Spithead in a few days.



Chapter XXVII

Captain and Mrs To--Pork--We go to Plymouth, and fall in with our old
Captain.


I immediately took leave of my family, and set off for Portsmouth, and
in two days arrived at the Fountain inn, where O'Brien was waiting to
receive me. "Peter, my boy, I feel so much obliged to you, that if your
uncle won't go out of the world by fair means, I'll pick a quarrel with
him, and shoot him, on purpose that you may be a lord, as I am
determined you shall be. Now come up into my room, where we'll be all
alone, and I'll tell you all about the ship and our new captain. In the
first place, we'll begin with the ship, as the most important personage
of the two: she's a beauty, I forget her name before she was taken, but
the French know how to build ships better than keep them. She's now
called the _Sanglier_, which means a wild pig, and, by the powers! a
_pig_ ship she is, as you will hear directly. The captain's name is a
very short one, and wouldn't please Mr Chucks, consisting only of two
letters, T and O, which makes To; his whole title is Captain John To. It
would almost appear as if somebody had broken off the better half of his
name, and only left him the commencement of it; but, however, it's a
handy name to sign when he pays off his ship. And now I'll tell you what
sort of a looking craft he is. He's built like a Dutch schuyt, great
breadth of beam, and very square tuck. He applied to have the quarter
galleries enlarged in the two last ships he commanded. He weighs about
eighteen stone, rather more than less. He is a good-natured sort of a
chap, amazingly ungenteel, not much of an officer, not much of a sailor,
but a devilish good hand at the trencher. But he's only part of the
concern; he has his wife on board, who is a red-herring sort of a lady,
and very troublesome to boot. What makes her still more annoying is,
that she has a _piano_ on board, very much out of _tune_, on which she
plays very much out of _time_. Holystoning is music compared with her
playing: even the captain's spaniel howls when she comes to the high
notes; but she affects the fine lady, and always treats the officers
with music when they dine in the cabin, which makes them very glad to
get out of it."

"But, O'Brien, I thought wives were not permitted on board."

"Very true, but there's the worst part in the man's character: he knows
that he is not allowed to take his wife to sea, and, in consequence, he
never says she _is_ his wife, or presents her on shore to anybody. If
any of the other captains ask how Mrs To is to-day? 'Why,' he replies,
'pretty well, I thank you;' but at the same time he gives a kind of
smirk, as if to say, 'She is not my wife;' and although everybody knows
that she is, yet he prefers that they should think otherwise, rather
than be at the expense of keeping her on shore; for you know, Peter,
that although there are regulations about wives, there are none with
regard to other women."

"But does his wife know this?" inquired I.

"I believe, from my heart, she is a party to the whole transaction, for
report says, that she would skin a flint if she could. She's always
trying for presents from the officers, and, in fact, she commands the
ship."

"Really, O'Brien, this is not a very pleasant prospect."

"Whist! wait a little; now I come to the wind-up. This Captain To is
very partial to pig's _mate_, and we have as many live pigs on board as
we have pigs of ballast. The first lieutenant is right mad about them.
At the same time he allows no pigs but his own on board, that there may
be no confusion. The manger is full of pigs; there are two cow-pens
between the main-deck guns, drawn from the dock-yard, and converted into
pig-pens. The two sheep-pens amidships are full of pigs, and the geese
and turkey-coops are divided off into apartments for four _sows_ in the
_family way_. Now, Peter, you see there's little or no expense in
keeping pigs on board of a large frigate, with so much _pay_-soup and
whole peas for them to eat, and this is the reason why he keeps them,
for the devil a bit of any other stock has he on board. I presume he
means to _milk_ one of the _old sows_ for breakfast when the ship sails.
The first thing that he does in the morning, is to go round to his pigs
with the butcher, feeling one, scratching the dirty ears of another, and
then he classes them--his _bacon_ pigs, his _porkers_, his _breeding_
sows, and so on. The old boar is still at the stables of this inn, but I
hear he is to come on board with the sailing orders: but he is very
savage, and is therefore left on shore to the very last moment. Now
really, Peter, what with the squealing of the pigs and his wife's piano,
we are almost driven mad. I don't know which is the worse of the two; if
you go aft you hear the one, if you go forward you hear the other, by
way of variety, and that, they say, is charming. But, is it not shocking
that such a beautiful frigate should be turned into a pig-sty, and that
her main-deck should smell worse than a muckheap?"

"But how does his wife like the idea of living only upon hog's flesh?"

"She! Lord bless you, Peter! why, she looks as spare as a shark, and she
has just the appetite of one, for she'll _bolt_ a four-pound piece of
pork before it's well put on her plate."

"Have you any more such pleasant intelligence to communicate, O'Brien?"

"No, Peter; you have the worst of it. The lieutenants are good officers
and pleasant messmates: the doctor is a little queer, and the purser
thinks himself a wag; the master, an old north-countryman, who knows his
duty, and takes his glass of grog. The midshipmen are a very genteel set
of young men, and full of fun and frolic. I'll bet a wager there'll be a
bobbery in the pig-sty before long, for they are ripe for mischief. Now,
Peter, I hardly need say that my cabin and everything I have is at your
service; and I think if we could only have a devil of a gale of wind, or
a hard-fought action, to send the _pigs_ overboard and smash the
_piano_, we should do very well."

The next day I went on board, and was shown down into the cabin, to
report my having joined. Mrs To, a tall thin woman, was at her piano;
she rose, and asked me several questions--who my friends were--how much
they allowed me a year, and many other questions, which I thought
impertinent: but a captain's wife is allowed to take liberties. She then
asked me if I was fond of music? That was a difficult question, as, if I
said that I was, I should in all probability be obliged to hear it: if I
said that I was not, I might have created a dislike in her. So I
replied, that I was very fond of music on shore, when it was not
interrupted by other noise. "Ah! then I perceive you are a real amateur,
Mr Simple," replied the lady.

Captain To then came out of the after-cabin, half-dressed. "Well,
youngster, so you've joined us at last. Come and dine with us to-day?
and, as you go down to your berth, desire the sentry to pass the word
for the butcher; I want to speak with him."

I bowed and retired. I was met in the most friendly manner by the
officers and by my own messmates, who had been prepossessed in my favour
by O'Brien, previous to my arrival. In our service you always find young
men of the best families on board large frigates, they being considered
the most eligible class of vessels; I found my messmates to be
gentlemen, with one or two exceptions, but I never met so many wild
young lads together. I sat down and ate some dinner with them, although
I was to dine in the cabin, for the sea air made me hungry.

"Don't you dine in the cabin, Simple?" said the caterer.

"Yes," replied I.

"Then don't eat any pork, my boy, now, for you'll have plenty there.
Come, gentlemen, fill your glasses; we'll drink happiness to our new
messmate, and pledging him, we pledge ourselves to try to promote it."

"I'll just join you in that toast," said O'Brien, walking into the
midshipmen's berth. "What is it you're drinking it in?"

"Some of Collier's port, sir. Boy, bring a glass for Mr O'Brien."

"Here's your health, Peter, and wishing you may keep out of a French
prison this cruise. Mr Montague, as caterer, I will beg you will order
another candle, that I may see what's on the table, and then perhaps I
may find something I should like to pick a bit off."

"Here's the fag end of a leg of mutton, Mr O'Brien, and there's a piece
of boiled pork."

"Then I'll just trouble you for a bit close to the knuckle. Peter, you
dine in the cabin, so do I--the doctor refused."

"Have you heard when we sail, Mr O'Brien?" inquired one of my messmates.

"I heard at the admiral's office, that we were expected to be ordered
round to Plymouth, and receive our orders there, either for the East or
West Indies, they thought; and, indeed, the stores we have taken on
board indicate that we are going foreign, but the captain's signal is
just made, and probably the admiral has intelligence to communicate."

In about an hour afterwards, the captain returned, looking very red and
hot. He called the first lieutenant aside from the rest of the officers,
who were on deck to receive him, and told him, that we were to start for
Plymouth next morning; and the admiral had told him confidentially, that
we were to proceed to the West Indies with a convoy, which was then
collecting. He appeared to be very much alarmed at the idea of going to
make a feast for the land crabs; and certainly, his gross habit of body
rendered him very unfit for the climate. This news was soon spread
through the ship, and there was of course no little bustle and
preparation. The doctor, who had refused to dine in the cabin upon plea
of being unwell, sent up to say, that he felt himself so much better,
that he should have great pleasure to attend the summons, and he joined
the first lieutenant, O'Brien, and me, as we walked in. We sat down to
table; the covers were removed, and as the midshipmen prophesied, there
was plenty of _pork_--mock-turtle soup, made out of a pig's head--a
boiled leg of pork and peas-pudding--a roast spare-rib, with the
crackling on--sausages and potatoes, and pig's pettitoes. I cannot say
that I disliked my dinner, and I ate very heartily; but a roast
sucking-pig came on as a second course, which rather surprised me; but
what surprised me more, was the quantity devoured by Mrs To. She handed
her plate from the boiled pork to the roast, asked for some pettitoes,
tried the sausages, and finished with a whole plateful of sucking-pig
and stuffing. We had an apple pie at the end, but as we had already
eaten apple sauce with the roast pork, we did not care for it. The
doctor, who abominated pork, ate pretty well, and was excessively
attentive to Mrs To.

"Will you not take a piece of the roast pig, doctor?" said the captain.

"Why, really Captain To, as we are bound, by all reports, to a station
where we must not venture upon pork, I think I will not refuse to take a
piece, for I am very fond of it."

"How do you mean?" inquired the captain and his lady, both in a breath.

"Perhaps I may be wrongly informed," replied the doctor, "but I have
heard that we were ordered to the West Indies; now, if so, everyone
knows, that although you may eat salt pork there occasionally without
danger, in all tropical climates, and especially the West Indies, two or
three days' living upon this meat will immediately produce dysentery,
which is always fatal in that climate."

"Indeed!" exclaimed the captain.

"You don't say so!" rejoined the lady.

"I do indeed: and have always avoided the West Indies for that very
reason--I am so fond of pork."

The doctor then proceeded to give nearly one hundred instances of
messmates and shipmen who had been attacked with dysentery, from the
eating of fresh pork in the West Indies; and O'Brien, perceiving the
doctor's drift, joined him, telling some most astonishing accounts of
the dreadful effects of pork in a hot country. I think he said, that
when the French were blockaded, previous to the surrender of Martinique,
that, having nothing but pigs to eat, thirteen hundred out of seventeen
hundred soldiers and officers died in the course of three weeks, and the
others were so reduced by disease, that they were obliged to capitulate.
The doctor then changed the subject, and talked about the yellow fever,
and other diseases of the climate, so that, by his account, the West
India islands were but hospitals to die in. Those most likely to be
attacked, were men in full strong health. The spare men stood a better
chance. This conversation was carried on until it was time to leave--Mrs
To at last quite silent, and the captain gulping down his wine with a
sigh. When we rose from the table, Mrs To did not ask us, as usual, to
stay and hear a little music; she was, like her piano, not a little out
of tune.

"By the powers, doctor, you did that nately," said O'Brien, as we left
the cabin.

"O'Brien," said the doctor, "oblige me, and you, Mr Simple, oblige me
also, by not saying a word in the ship about what I have said; if it
once gets wind, I shall have done no good, but if you both hold your
tongues for a short time, I think I may promise you to get rid of
Captain To, his wife, and his pigs." We perceived the justice of his
observation, and promised secrecy. The next morning the ship sailed for
Plymouth, and Mrs To sent for the doctor, not being very well. The
doctor prescribed for her, and I believe, on my conscience, made her
worse on purpose. The illness of his wife, and his own fears, brought
Captain To more than usual in contact with the doctor, of whom he
frequently asked his candid opinion, as to his own chance in a hot
country.

"Captain To," said the doctor, "_I_ never would have given my opinion,
if you had not asked it, for I am aware, that, as an officer, you would
never flinch from your duty, to whatever quarter of the globe you may be
ordered; but, as you have asked the question, I must say, with your full
habit of body, I think you would not stand a chance of living for more
than two months. At the same time, sir, I may be mistaken; but, at all
events, I must point out that Mrs To is of a very bilious habit, and I
trust you will not do such an injustice to an amiable woman, as to
permit her to accompany you."

"Thanky, doctor, I'm much obliged to you," replied the captain, turning
round and going down the ladder to his cabin. We were then beating down
the channel; for, although we ran through the Needles with a fair wind,
it fell calm, and shifted to the westward, when we were abreast of
Portland. The next day the captain gave an order for a very fine pig to
be killed, for he was out of provisions. Mrs To still kept her bed, and
he therefore directed that a part should be salted, as he could have no
company. I was in the midshipman's berth, when some of them proposed
that we should get possession of the pig; and the plan they agreed upon
was as follows:--they were to go to the pen that night, and with a
needle stuck in a piece of wood, to prick the pig all over, and then rub
gunpowder into the parts wounded. This was done, and although the
butcher was up a dozen times during the night to ascertain what made the
pigs so uneasy, the midshipmen passed the needle from watch to watch,
until the pig was well tattooed in all parts. In the morning watch it
was killed, and when it had been scalded in the tub, and the hair taken
off, it appeared covered with blue spots. The midshipman of the morning
watch, who was on the main-deck, took care to point out to the butcher,
that the pork was _measly_, to which the man unwillingly assented,
stating, at the same time, that he could not imagine how it could be,
for a finer pig he had never put a knife into. The circumstance was
reported to the captain, who was much astonished. The doctor came in to
visit Mrs To, and the captain requested the doctor to examine the pig,
and give his opinion. Although this was not the doctor's province, yet,
as he had great reason for keeping intimate with the captain, he
immediately consented. Going forward, he met me, and I told him the
secret. "That will do," replied he; "it all tends to what we wish." The
doctor returned to the captain, and said, "that there was no doubt but
that the pig was measly, which was a complaint very frequent on board
ships, particularly in hot climates, where all pork became _measly_--one
great reason for its there proving so unwholesome." The captain sent for
the first lieutenant, and, with a deep sigh, ordered him to throw the
pig overboard; but the first lieutenant, who knew what had been done
from O'Brien, ordered the _master's mate_ to throw it overboard: the
master's mate, touching his hat, said, "Ay, ay, sir," and took it down
into the berth, where we cut it up, salted one half, and the other we
finished before we arrived at Plymouth, which was six days from the time
we left Portsmouth. On our arrival, we found part of the convoy lying
there, but no orders for us; and, to my great delight, on the following
day the _Diomede_ arrived, from a cruise off the Western Islands. I
obtained permission to go on board with O'Brien, and we once more
greeted our messmates. Mr Falcon, the first lieutenant, went down to
Captain Savage, to say we were on board, and he requested us to come
into the cabin. He greeted us warmly, and gave us great credit for the
manner in which we had effected our escape. When we left the cabin, I
found Mr Chucks, the boatswain, waiting outside.

"My dear Mr Simple, extend your flapper to me, for I'm delighted to see
you. I long to have a long talk with you."

"And I should like it also, Mr Chucks, but I'm afraid we have not time;
I dine with Captain Savage to-day, and it only wants an hour of
dinner-time."

"Well, Mr Simple, I've been looking at your frigate, and she's a beauty
--much larger than the _Diomede_."

"And she behaves quite as well," replied I. "I think we are two hundred
tons larger. You've no idea of her size until you are on her decks."

"I should like to be boatswain of her, Mr Simple; that is, with Captain
Savage, for I will not part with him." I had some more conversation with
Mr Chucks, but I was obliged to attend to others, who interrupted us. We
had a very pleasant dinner with our old captain, to whom we gave a
history of our adventures, and then we returned on board.



Chapter XXVIII

We get rid of the pigs and piano-forte--The last boat on shore before
sailing--The First Lieutenant too hasty, and the consequences to me.


We waited three days, at the expiration of which, we heard that Captain
To was about to exchange with Captain Savage. We could not believe such
good news to be true, and we could not ascertain the truth of the
report, as the captain had gone on shore with Mrs To, who recovered fast
after she was out of our doctor's hands; so fast, indeed, that a week
afterwards, on questioning the steward, upon his return on board, how
Mrs To was, he replied, "O charming well again, sir, she has eaten a
_whole pig_, since she left the ship." But the report was true: Captain
To, afraid to go to the West Indies, had effected an exchange with
Captain Savage. Captain Savage was permitted, as was the custom of the
service, to bring his first lieutenant, his boatswain, and his barge's
crew with him. He joined a day or two before we sailed, and never was
there more joy on board: the only people miserable were the first
lieutenant, and those belonging to the _Sanglier_ who were obliged to
follow Captain To; who, with his wife, his pigs, and her piano, were all
got rid of in the course of one forenoon.

I have already described pay-day on board of a man-of-war, but I think
that the two days before sailing are even more unpleasant; although,
generally speaking, all our money being spent, we are not sorry when we
once are fairly out of harbour, and find ourselves in _blue water_. The
men never work well on those days: they are thinking of their wives and
sweethearts, of the pleasure they had when at liberty on shore, where
they might get drunk without punishment; and many of them are either
half drunk at the time, or suffering from the effects of previous
intoxication. The ship is in disorder, and crowded with the variety of
stock and spare stores which are obliged to be taken on board in a
hurry, and have not yet been properly secured in their places. The first
lieutenant is cross, the officers are grave, and the poor midshipmen,
with all their own little comforts to attend to, are harassed and driven
about like post-horses. "Mr Simple," inquired the first lieutenant,
"where do you come from?"

"From the gun wharf, sir, with the gunner's spare blocks, and
breechings."

"Very well--send the marines aft to clear the boat, and pipe away the
first putter. Mr Simple, jump into the first cutter, and go to Mount
Wise for the officers. Be careful that none of your men leave the boat.
Come, be smart."

Now, I had been away the whole morning, and it was then half-past one,
and I had had no dinner: but I said nothing, and went into the boat. As
soon as I was off, O'Brien, who stood by Mr Falcon, said, "Peter was
thinking of his dinner, poor fellow!"

"I really quite forgot it," replied the first lieutenant, "there is so
much to do. He is a willing boy, and he shall dine in the gun-room when
he comes back." And so I did--so I lost nothing by not expostulating,
and gained more of the favour of the first lieutenant, who never forgot
what he called _zeal_. But the hardest trial of the whole, is to the
midshipman who is sent with the boat to purchase the supplies for the
cabin and gun-room on the day before the ship's sailing. It was my
misfortune to be ordered upon that service this time, and that very
unexpectedly. I had been ordered to dress myself to take the gig on
shore for the captain's orders, and was walking the deck with my very
best uniform and side arms, when the marine officer, who was the
gun-room caterer, came up to the first lieutenant, and asked him for a
boat. The boat was manned, and a midshipman ordered to take charge of
it; but when he came up, the first lieutenant recollecting that he had
come off two days before with only half his boat's crew, would not trust
him, and called out to me, "Here, Mr Simple, I must send you in this
boat; mind you are careful that none of the men leave it; and bring off
the sergeant of marines, who is on shore looking for the men who have
broken their liberty." Although I could not but feel proud of the
compliment, yet I did not much like going in my very best uniform, and
would have run down and changed it, but the marine officer and all the
people were in the boat, and I could not keep it waiting, so down the
side I went, and we shoved off. We had, besides the boat's crew, the
marine officer, the purser, the gun-room steward, the captain's steward,
and the purser's steward; so that we were pretty full. It blew hard from
the S.E., and there was a sea running, but as the tide was flowing into
the harbour there was not much bubble. We hoisted the foresail, flew
before the wind and tide, and in a quarter of an hour we were at Mutton
Cove, when the marine officer expressed his wish to land. The
landing-place was crowded with boats, and it was not without sundry
exchanges of foul words and oaths, and the bow-men dashing the point of
their boat-hooks into the shore-boats, to make them keep clear of us,
that we forced our way to the beach. The marine officer and all the
stewards then left the boat, and I had to look after the men. I had not
been there three minutes before the bow-man said that his wife was on
the wharf with his clothes from the wash, and begged leave to go and
fetch them. I refused, telling him that she could bring them to him. "Vy
now, Mr Simple," said the woman, "ar'n't you a nice lady's man, to go
for to ax me to muddle my way through all the dead dogs, cabbage-stalks,
and stinking hakes' heads, with my bran new shoes and clean stockings?"
I looked at her, and sure enough she was, as they say in France, _bien
chaussée_. "Come, Mr Simple, let him out to come for his clothes, and
you'll see that he's back in a moment." I did not like to refuse her, as
it was very dirty and wet, and the shingle was strewed with all that she
had mentioned. The bow-man made a spring out with his boat-hook, threw
it back, went up to his wife, and commenced talking with her, while I
watched him. "If you please, sir, there's my young woman come down,
mayn't I speak to her?" said another of the men. I turned round, and
refused him. He expostulated, and begged very hard, but I was resolute;
however, when I again turned my eyes to watch the bow-man, he and his
wife were gone. "There," says I to the coxswain, "I knew it would be so;
you see Hickman is off."

"Only gone to take a parting glass, sir," replied the coxswain; "he'll
be here directly."

"I hope so; but I'm afraid not." After this, I refused all the
solicitations of the men to be allowed to leave the boat, but I
permitted them to have some beer brought down to them. The gun-room
steward then came back with a basket of _soft-tack_, _i.e._ loaves of
bread, and told me that the marine officer requested I would allow two
of the men to go up with him to Glencross's shop, to bring down some of
the stores. Of course, I sent two of the men, and told the steward if he
saw Hickman, to bring him down to the boat.

By this time many of the women belonging to the ship had assembled, and
commenced a noisy conversation with the boat's crew. One brought an
article for Jim, another some clothes for Bill; some of them climbed
into the boat, and sat with the men; others came and went, bringing beer
and tobacco, which the men desired them to purchase. The crowd, the
noise, and confusion were so great, that it was with the utmost
difficulty that I could keep my eyes on all my men, who, one after
another, made an attempt to leave the boat. Just at that time came down
the sergeant of the marines, with three of our men whom he had picked
up, _roaring drunk_. They were tumbled into the boat, and increased the
difficulty, as in looking after those who were riotous, and would try to
leave the boat by force, I was not so well able to keep my eyes on those
who were sober. The sergeant then went up after another man, and I told
him also about Hickman. About half an hour afterwards the steward came
down with the two men, loaded with cabbages, baskets of eggs, strings of
onions, crockery of all descriptions, paper parcels of groceries, legs
and shoulders of mutton, which were crowded in, until not only the
stern-sheets, but all under the thwarts of the boat were also crammed
full. They told me that they had a few more things to bring down, and
that the marine officer had gone to Stonehouse to see his wife, so that
they should be down long before him. In half an hour more, during which
I had the greatest difficulty to manage the boat's crew, they returned
with a dozen geese and two ducks, tied by the legs, but without the two
men, who had given them the slip, so that there were now three men gone,
and I knew Mr Falcon would be very angry, for they were three of the
smartest men in the ship. I was now determined not to run the risk of
losing more men, and I ordered the boat's crew to shove off, that I
might lie at the wharf, where they could not climb up. They were very
mutinous, grumbled very much, and would hardly obey me; the fact is,
they had drunk a great deal, and some of them were more than half tipsy.
However, at last I was obeyed, but not without being saluted with a
shower of invectives from the women, and the execrations of the men
belonging to the wherries and _shore_ boats which were washed against
our sides by the swell. The weather had become much worse, and looked
very threatening. I waited an hour more, when the sergeant of marines
came down with two more men, one of whom, to my great joy, was Hickman.
This made me more comfortable, as I was not answerable for the other
two; still I was in great trouble from the riotous and insolent
behaviour of the boat's crew, and the other men brought down by the
sergeant of marines. One of them fell back into a basket of eggs, and
smashed them all to atoms; still the marine officer did not come down,
and it was getting late. The tide being now at the ebb, running out
against the wind, there was a heavy sea, and I had to go off to the ship
with a boat deeply laden, and most of the people in her in a state of
intoxication. The coxswain, who was the only one who was sober,
recommended our shoving off, as it would soon be dark, and some accident
would happen. I reflected a minute, and agreeing with him, I ordered the
oars to be got out, and we shoved off, the sergeant of marines and the
gun-room steward perched up in the bows--drunken men, ducks and geese,
lying together at the bottom of the boat--the stern sheets loaded up to
the gunwale, and the other passengers and myself sitting how we could
among the crockery and a variety of other articles with which the boat
was crowded. It was a scene of much confusion--the half-drunken boat's
crew _catching crabs_, and falling forward upon the others--those who
were quite drunk swearing they _would_ pull. "Lay on your oar, Sullivan;
you are doing more harm than good. You drunken rascal, I'll report you
as soon as we get on board."

"How the divil can I pull, your honour, when there's that fellow Jones
breaking the very back o' me with his oar, and he never touching the
water all the while?"

"You lie," cried Jones; "I'm pulling the boat by myself against the
whole of the larbard oars."

"He's rowing _dry_, your honour--only making bilave."

"Do you call this rowing dry?" cried another, as a sea swept over the
boat, fore and aft, wetting everybody to the skin.

"Now, your honour, just look and see if I ain't pulling the very arms
off me?" cried Sullivan.

"Is there water enough to cross the bridge, Swinburne?" said I to the
coxswain.

"Plenty, Mr Simple; it is but quarter ebb, and the sooner we are on
board the better."

We were now past Devil's Point, and the sea was very heavy: the boat
plunged in the trough, so that I was afraid that she would break her
back. She was soon half full of water, and the two after-oars were laid
in for the men to bale. "Plase your honour, hadn't I better cut free the
legs of them ducks and geese, and allow them to swim for their lives?"
cried Sullivan, resting on his oar; "the poor birds will be drowned else
in their own _iliment_."

"No, no--pull away as hard as you can."

By this time the drunken men in the bottom of the boat began to be very
uneasy, from the quantity of water which washed about them, and made
several staggering attempts to get on their legs. They fell down again
upon the ducks and geese, the major part of which were saved from being
drowned by being suffocated. The sea on the bridge was very heavy; and
although the tide swept us out, we were nearly swamped. Soft bread was
washing about the bottom of the boat; the parcels of sugar, pepper, and
salt, were wet through with the salt water, and a sudden jerk threw the
captain's steward, who was seated upon the gunwale close to the
after-oar, right upon the whole of the crockery and eggs, which added to
the mass of destruction. A few more seas shipped completed the job, and
the gun-room steward was in despair. "That's a darling," cried Sullivan:
"the politest boat in the whole fleet. She makes more bows and curtseys
than the finest couple in the land. Give way, my lads, and work the
crater stuff out of your elbows, and the first lieutenant will see us
all so sober, and so wet in the bargain, and think we're all so dry,
that perhaps he'll be after giving us a raw nip when we get on board."

In a quarter of an hour we were nearly alongside, but the men pulled so
badly, and the sea was so great, that we missed the ship and went
astern. They veered out a buoy with a line, which we got hold of, and
were hauled up by the marines and after-guard, the boat plunging bows
under, and drenching us through and through. At last we got under the
counter, and I climbed up by the stern ladder. Mr Falcon was on deck,
and very angry at the boat not coming alongside properly. "I thought, Mr
Simple, that you knew by this time how to bring a boat alongside."

"So I do, sir, I hope," replied I; "but the boat was so full of water,
and the men would not give way."

"What men has the sergeant brought on board?"

"Three, sir," replied I, shivering with the cold, and unhappy at my very
best uniform being spoiled.

"Are all your boat's crew with you, sir?"

"No sir; there are two left on shore; they--"

"Not a word, sir. Up to the mast-head, and stay there till I call you
down. If it were not so late, I would send you on shore, and not receive
you on board again without the men. Up, sir, immediately."

I did not venture to explain, but up I went. It was very cold, blowing
hard from the S.E., with heavy squalls; I was so wet that the wind
appeared to blow through me, and it was now nearly dark. I reached the
cross-trees, and when I was seated there, I felt that I had done my
duty, and had not been fairly treated. During this time, the boat had
been hauled up alongside to clear, and a pretty clearance there was. All
the ducks and geese were dead, the eggs and crockery all broke, the
grocery almost all washed away; in short, as O'Brien observed, there was
"a very pretty general average." Mr Falcon was still very angry. "Who
are the men missing?" inquired he, of Swinburne, the coxswain, as he
came up the side.

"Williams and Sweetman, sir."

"Two of the smartest topmen, I am told. It really is too provoking;
there is not a midshipman in the ship I can trust. I must work all day,
and get no assistance. The service is really going to the devil now,
with the young men who are sent on board to be brought up as officers,
and who are above doing their duty. What made you so late, Swinburne?"

"Waiting for the marine officer, who went to Stonehouse to see his wife;
but Mr Simple would not wait any longer, as it was getting dark, and we
had so many drunken men in the boat."

"Mr Simple did right. I wish Mr Harrison would stay on shore with his
wife altogether--it's really trifling with the service. Pray, Mr
Swinburne, why had you not your eyes about you if Mr Simple was so
careless? How came you to allow these men to leave the boat?"

"The men were ordered up by the marine officer to bring down your
stores, sir, and they gave the steward the slip. It was no fault of Mr
Simple's, nor of mine either. We lay off at the wharf for two hours
before we started, or we should have lost more; for what can a poor lad
do, when he has charge of drunken men who _will not_ obey orders?" And
the coxswain looked up at the mast-head, as much as to say, Why is he
sent there? "I'll take my oath, sir," continued Swinburne, "that Mr
Simple never put his foot out of the boat, from the time that he went
over the side until he came on board, and that no young gentleman could
have done his duty more strictly."

Mr Falcon looked very angry at first at the coxswain speaking so freely,
but he said nothing. He took one or two turns on the deck, and then
hailing the mast-head, desired me to come down. But I _could not_; my
limbs were so cramped with the wind blowing upon my wet clothes, that I
could not move. He hailed again; I heard him, but was not able to
answer. One of the topmen then came up, and perceiving my condition,
hailed the deck, and said he believed I was dying, for I could not move,
and that he dared not leave me for fear I should fall. O'Brien, who had
been on deck all the while, jumped up the rigging, and was soon at the
cross-trees where I was. He sent the topman down into the top for a
tail-block and the studding-sail haulyards, made a whip, and lowered me
on deck. I was immediately put into my hammock; and the surgeon ordering
me some hot brandy-and-water, and plenty of blankets, in a few hours I
was quite restored.

O'Brien, who was at my bedside, said, "Never mind, Peter, and don't be
angry with Mr Falcon, for he is very sorry."

"I am not angry, O'Brien; for Mr Falcon has been too kind to me not to
make me forgive him for being once hasty."

The surgeon came to my hammock, gave me some more hot drink, desired me
to go to sleep, and I woke the next morning quite well.

When I came into the berth, my messmates asked me how I was, and many of
them railed against the tyranny of Mr Falcon; but I took his part,
saying, that he was hasty in this instance, perhaps, but that, generally
speaking, he was an excellent and very just officer. Some agreed with
me, but others did not. One of them, who was always in disgrace, sneered
at me, and said, "Peter reads the Bible, and knows that if you smite one
cheek, he must offer the other. Now, I'll answer for it, if I pull his
right ear he will offer me his left." So saying, he lugged me by the
ear, upon which I knocked him down for his trouble. The berth was then
cleared away for a fight, and in a quarter of an hour my opponent gave
in; but I suffered a little, and had a very black eye. I had hardly time
to wash myself and change my shirt, which was bloody, when I was
summoned on the quarter-deck. When I arrived, I found Mr Falcon walking
up and down. He looked very hard at me, but did not ask me any questions
as to the cause of my unusual appearance.

"Mr Simple," said he, "I sent for you to beg your pardon for my
behaviour to you last night, which was not only very hasty but very
unjust. I find that you were not to blame for the loss of the men."

I felt very sorry for him when I heard him speak so handsomely; and, to
make his mind more easy, I told him that, although I certainly was not
to blame for the loss of those two men, still I had done wrong in
permitting Hickman to leave the boat; and that had not the sergeant
picked him up, I should have come off without him, and therefore I _did_
deserve the punishment which I had received.

"Mr Simple," replied Mr Falcon, "I respect you, and admire your
feelings; still, I was to blame, and it is my duty to apologise. Now go
down below. I would have requested the pleasure of your company to
dinner, but I perceive that something else has occurred, which, under
any other circumstances, I would have inquired into, but at present I
shall not."

I touched my hat and went below. In the meantime, O'Brien had been made
acquainted with the occasion of the quarrel, which he did not fail to
explain to Mr Falcon, who, O'Brien declared, "was not the least bit in
the world angry with me for what had occurred." Indeed, after that, Mr
Falcon always treated me with the greatest kindness, and employed me on
every duty which he considered of consequence. He was a sincere friend;
for he did not allow me to neglect my duty, but, at the same time,
treated me with consideration and confidence.

The marine officer came on board very angry at being left behind, and
talked about a court-martial on me for disrespect, and neglect of stores
entrusted to my charge; but O'Brien told me not to mind him, or what he
said. "It's my opinion, Peter, that the gentleman has eaten no small
quantity of _flap-doodle_ in his lifetime."

"What's that, O'Brien?" replied I; "I never heard of it."

"Why, Peter," rejoined he, "it's the stuff they _feed fools on_."



Chapter XXIX

A long conversation with Mr Chucks--The advantage of having a
prayer-book in your pocket--We run down the trades--Swinburne, the
quartermaster, and his yarns--The Captain falls sick.


The next day the captain came on board with sealed orders, with
directions not to open them until off Ushant. In the afternoon, we
weighed and made sail. It was a fine northerly wind, and the Bay of
Biscay was smooth. We bore up, set all the studding-sails, and ran along
at the rate of eleven miles an hour. As I could not appear on the
quarter-deck, I was put down on the sick-list. Captain Savage, who was
very particular, asked what was the matter with me. The surgeon replied,
"An inflamed eye." The captain asked no more questions; and I took care
to keep out of his way. I walked in the evening on the forecastle, when
I renewed my intimacy with Mr Chucks, the boatswain, to whom I gave a
full narrative of all my adventures in France. "I have been ruminating,
Mr Simple," said he, "how such a stripling as you could have gone
through so much fatigue, and now I know how it is. It is _blood_, Mr
Simple--all blood--you are descended from good blood; and there's as
much difference between nobility and the lower classes, as there is
between a racer and a cart-horse."

"I cannot agree with you, Mr Chucks. Common people are quite as brave as
those who are well-born. You do not mean to say that you are not brave--
that the seamen on board this ship are not brave?"

"No, no, Mr Simple; but as I observed about myself, my mother was a
woman who could not be trusted, and there is no saying who was my
father; and she was a very pretty woman to boot, which levels all
distinctions for the moment. As for the seamen, God knows, I should do
them an injustice if I did not acknowledge that they were as brave as
lions. But there are two kinds of bravery, Mr Simple--the bravery of the
moment, and the courage of bearing up for a long while. Do you
understand me?"

"I think I do; but still do not agree with you. Who will bear more
fatigue than our sailors?"

"Yes, yes, Mr Simple, that is because they are _endured_ to it from
their hard life: but if the common sailors were all such little
thread-papers as you, and had been brought up so carefully, they would
not have gone through all you have. That's my opinion, Mr Simple--
there's nothing like _blood_."

"I think, Mr Chucks, you carry your ideas on that subject too far."

"I do not, Mr Simple; and I think, moreover, that he who has more to
lose than another will always strive more. Now a common man only fights
for his own credit; but when a man is descended from a long line of
people famous in history, and has a coat _in_ arms, criss-crossed, and
stuck all over with lions and unicorns to support the dignity of--why,
has he not to fight for the credit of all his ancestors, whose names
would be disgraced if he didn't behave well?"

"I agree with you, Mr Chucks, in the latter remark, to a certain
extent."

"Ah! Mr Simple, we never know the value of good descent when we have it,
but it's when we cannot get it that we can _'preciate_ it. I wish I had
been born a nobleman--I do, by heavens!" and Mr Chucks slapped his fist
against the funnel, so as to make it ring again. "Well, Mr Simple,"
continued he, after a pause, "it is, however, a great comfort to me that
I have parted company with that fool, Mr Muddle, with his twenty-six
thousand and odd years, and that old woman, Dispart, the gunner. You
don't know how those two men used to fret me; it was very silly, but I
couldn't help it. Now the warrant officers of this ship appear to be
very respectable, quiet men, who know their duty and attend to it, and
are not too familiar, which I hate and detest. You went home to your
friends, of course, when you arrived in England?"

"I did, Mr Chucks, and spent some days with my grandfather, Lord
Privilege, whom you say you once met at dinner."

"Well, and how was the old gentleman?" inquired the boatswain, with a
sigh.

"Very well, considering his age."

"Now do, pray, Mr Simple, tell me all about it; from the time that the
servants met you at the door until you went away. Describe to me the
house and all the rooms, for I like to hear of all these things,
although I can never see them again."

To please Mr Chucks, I entered into a full detail, which he listened to
very attentively, until it was late, and then with difficulty would he
permit me to leave off, and go down to my hammock. The next day, rather
a singular circumstance occurred. One of the midshipmen was mast-headed
by the second lieutenant, for not waiting on deck until he was relieved.
He was down below when he was sent for, and expecting to be punished
from what the quarter-master told him, he thrust the first book into his
jacket-pocket which he could lay his hand on, to amuse himself at the
mast-head, and then ran on deck. As he surmised, he was immediately
ordered aloft. He had not been there more than five minutes, when a
sudden squall carried away the main-top-gallant mast, and away he went
flying over to leeward (for the wind had shifted, and the yards were now
braced up). Had he gone overboard, as he could not swim, he would, in
all probability, have been drowned; but the book in his pocket brought
him up in the jaws of the fore-brace block, where he hung until taken
out by the main-topmen. Now it so happened that it was a prayer-book
which he had laid hold of in his hurry, and those who were superstitious
declared it was all owing to his having taken a religious book with him.
I did not think so, as any other book would have answered the purpose
quite as well: still the midshipman himself thought so, and it was
productive of good, as he was a sad scamp, and behaved much better
afterwards. But I had nearly forgotten to mention a circumstance which
occurred on the day of our sailing, which will be eventually found to
have had a great influence upon my after life. It was this. I received a
letter from my father, evidently written in great vexation and
annoyance, informing me that my uncle, whose wife I have already
mentioned had two daughters, and was again expected to be confined, had
suddenly broken up his housekeeping, discharged every servant, and
proceeded to Ireland under an assumed name. No reason had been given for
this unaccountable proceeding; and not even my grandfather, or any of
the members of the family, had had notice of his intention. Indeed, it
was by mere accident that his departure was discovered, about a
fortnight after it had taken place. My father had taken a great deal of
pains to find out where he was residing; but although my uncle was
traced to Cork, from that town all clue was lost, but still it was
supposed, from inquiries, that he was not very far from thence. "Now,"
observed my father, in his letter, "I cannot help surmising, that my
brother, in his anxiety to retain the advantages of the title to his own
family, has resolved to produce to the world a spurious child as his
own, by some contrivance or other. His wife's health is very bad, and
she is not likely to have a large family. Should the one now expected
prove a daughter, there is little chance of his ever having another; and
I have no hesitation in declaring my conviction that the measure has
been taken with a view of defrauding you of your chance of eventually
being called to the House of Lords."

I showed this letter to O'Brien, who, after reading it over two or three
times, gave his opinion that my father was right in his conjectures
"Depend upon it, Peter, there's foul play intended, that is, if foul
play is rendered necessary."

"But, O'Brien, I cannot imagine why, if my uncle has no son of his own,
he should prefer acknowledging a son of any other person's, instead of
his own nephew."

"But I can, Peter: your uncle is not a man likely to live very long, as
you know. The doctors say that, with his short neck, his life is not
worth two years' purchase. Now if he had a son, consider that his
daughters would be much better off, and much more likely to get married;
besides, there are many reasons which I won't talk about now, because
it's no use making you think your uncle to be a scoundrel. But I'll tell
you what I'll do. I'll go down to my cabin directly, and write to Father
M'Grath, telling him the whole affair, and desiring him to ferret him
out, and watch him narrowly, and I'll bet you a dozen of claret, that in
less than a week he'll find him out, and will dog him to the last. He'll
get hold of his Irish servants, and you little know the power that a
priest has in our country. Now give the description as well as you can
of your uncle's appearance, also of that of his wife, and the number of
their family, and their ages. Father M'Grath must have all particulars,
and then let him alone for doing what is needful."

I complied with O'Brien's directions as well as I could, and he wrote a
very long letter to Father M'Grath, which was sent on shore by a careful
hand. I answered my father's letter, and then thought no more about the
matter.

Our sealed orders were opened, and proved our destination to be the West
Indies, as we expected. We touched at Madeira to take in some wine for
the ship's company; but as we only remained one day, we were not
permitted to go on shore. Fortunate indeed would it have been if we had
never gone there; for the day after, our captain, who had dined with the
consul, was taken alarmingly ill. From the symptoms, the surgeon dreaded
that he had been poisoned by something which he had eaten, and which
most probably had been cooked in a copper vessel not properly tinned. We
were all very anxious that he should recover; but, on the contrary, he
appeared to grow worse and worse every day, wasting away, and dying, as
they say, by inches. At last he was put into his cot, and never rose
from it again. This melancholy circumstance, added to the knowledge that
we were proceeding to an unhealthy climate, caused a gloom throughout
the ship; and, although the trade wind carried us along bounding over
the bright blue sea--although the weather was now warm, yet not too
warm--although the sun rose in splendour, and all was beautiful and
cheering, the state of the captain's health was a check to all mirth.
Every one trod the deck softly, and spoke in a low voice, that he might
not be disturbed; all were anxious to have the morning report of the
surgeon, and our conversation was generally upon the sickly climate, the
yellow fever, of death, and the palisades where they buried us.
Swinburne, the quarter-master, was in my watch, and as he had been long
in the West Indies, I used to obtain all the information from him that I
could. The old fellow had a secret pleasure in frightening me as much
as he could. "Really, Mr Simple, you ax so many questions," he would
say, as I accosted him while he was at his station at the _conn_, "I
wish you wouldn't ax so many questions, and make yourself uncomfortable
--'steady so'--'steady it is;'--with regard to Yellow Jack, as we calls
the yellow fever, it's a devil incarnate, that's sartain--you're well
and able to take your allowance in the morning, and dead as a herring
'fore night. First comes a bit of a head-ache--you goes to the doctor,
who bleeds you like a pig--then you go out of your senses--then up comes
the black vomit, and then it's all over with you, and you go to the land
crabs, who pick your bones as clean and as white as a sea elephant's
tooth. But there be one thing to be said in favour of Yellow Jack, a'ter
all. You dies _straight,_ like a gentleman--not cribbled up like a
snow-fish, chucked out on the ice of the river St Lawrence, with your
knees up to your nose, or your toes stuck into your arm-pits, as does
take place in some of your foreign complaints; but straight, quite
straight, and limber, like a _gentleman_. Still Jack is a little
mischievous, that's sartain. In the Euridiscy we had as fine a ship's
company as was ever piped aloft--'Steady, starboard, my man, you're
half-a-pint off your course;'--we dropped our anchor in Port Royal, and
we thought that there was mischief brewing, for thirty-eight sharks
followed the ship into the harbour, and played about us day and night. I
used to watch them during the night watch, as their fins, above water,
skimmed along, leaving a trail of light behind them; and the second
night I said to the sentry abaft, as I was looking at them smelling
under the counter--'Soldier,' says I, 'them sharks are mustering under
the orders of Yellow Jack,' and I no sooner mentioned Yellow Jack, than
the sharks gave a frisky plunge, every one of them, as much as to say,
'Yes, so we are, d----n your eyes.' The soldier was so frightened that
he would have fallen overboard, if I hadn't caught him by the scruff of
the neck, for he was standing on the top of the taffrail. As it was, he
dropped his musket over the stern, which the sharks dashed at from every
quarter, making the sea look like fire--and he had it charged to his
wages, £1 16s. I think. However, the fate of his musket gave him an idea
of what would have happened to him if he had fallen in instead of it--
and he never got on the taffrail again. 'Steady, port--mind your helm,
Smith--you can listen to my yarn all the same.' Well, Mr Simple, Yellow
Jack came, sure enough. First the purser was called to account for all
his roguery. We didn't care much about the land crabs eating him, who
had made so many poor dead men chew tobacco, cheating their wives and
relations, or Greenwich Hospital, as it might happen. Then went two of
the middies, just about your age, Mr Simple: they, poor fellows, went
off in a sad hurry; then went the master--and so it went on, till at
last we had no more nor sixty men left in the ship. The captain died
last, and then Yellow Jack had filled his maw, and left the rest of us
alone. As soon as the captain died, all the sharks left the ship, and we
never saw any more of them."

Such were the yarns told to me and the other midshipmen during the night
watches; and I can assure the reader, that they gave us no small alarm.
Every day that we worked our day's work, and found ourselves so much
nearer to the islands, did we feel as if we were so much nearer to our
graves. I once spoke to O'Brien about it, and he laughed. "Peter," says
he, "fear kills more people than the yellow fever, or any other
complaint, in the West Indies. Swinburne is an old rogue, and only
laughing at you. The devil's not half so black as he's painted--nor the
yellow fever half so yellow, I presume." We were now fast nearing the
island of Barbadoes, the weather was beautiful, the wind always fair;
the flying fish rose in shoals, startled by the foaming seas, which
rolled away, and roared from the bows as our swift frigate cleaved
through the water; the porpoises played about us in thousands--the
bonetas and dolphins at one time chased the flying fish, and at others,
appeared to be delighted in keeping company with the rapid vessel.
Everything was beautiful, and we all should have been happy, had it not
been for the state of Captain Savage, in the first place, who daily
became worse and worse, and from the dread of the hell, which we were
about to enter through such a watery paradise. Mr Falcon, who was in
command, was grave and thoughtful; he appeared indeed to be quite
miserable at the chance which would insure his own promotion. In every
attention, and every care that could be taken to insure quiet and afford
relief to the captain, he was unremitting; the offence of making a noise
was now, with him, a greater crime than drunkenness, or even mutiny.
When within three days' sail of Barbadoes, it fell almost calm, and the
captain became much worse; and now for the first time did we behold the
great white shark of the Atlantic. There are several kinds of sharks,
but the most dangerous are the great white shark and the ground shark.
The former grows to an enormous length--the latter is seldom very long,
not more than twelve feet, but spreads to a great breadth. We could not
hook the sharks as they played around us, for Mr Falcon would not permit
it, lest the noise of hauling them on board should disturb the captain.
A breeze again sprang up. In two days we were close to the island, and
the men were desired to look out for the land.



Chapter XXX

Death of Captain Savage--His funeral--Specimen of true Barbadian born--
Sucking the monkey--Effects of a hurricane.


The next morning, having hove-to part of the night, land was discovered
on the bow, and was reported by the mast-head man at the same moment
that the surgeon came up and announced the death of our noble captain.
Although it had been expected for the last two or three days, the
intelligence created a heavy gloom throughout the ship; the men worked
in silence, and spoke to one another in whispers. Mr Falcon was deeply
affected, and so were we all. In the course of the morning, we ran in to
the island, and unhappy as I was, I never can forget the sensation of
admiration which I felt on closing with Needham Point to enter Carlisle
Bay. The beach of such a pure dazzling white, backed by the tall, green
cocoa-nut trees, waving their spreading heads to the fresh breeze, the
dark blue of the sky, and the deeper blue of the transparent sea,
occasionally varied into green as we passed by the coral rocks which
threw their branches out from the bottom--the town opening to our view
by degrees, houses after houses, so neat, with their green jalousies,
dotting the landscape, the fort with the colours flying, troops of
officers riding down, a busy population of all colours, relieved by the
whiteness of their dress. Altogether the scene realised my first ideas
of Fairyland, for I thought I had never witnessed anything so beautiful.
"And can this be such a dreadful place as it is described?" thought I.
The sails were clewed up, the anchor was dropped to the bottom, and a
salute from the ship, answered by the forts, added to the effect of the
scene. The sails were furled, the boats lowered down, the boatswain
squared the yards from the jolly-boat ahead. Mr Falcon dressed, and his
boat being manned, went on shore with the despatches. Then, as soon as
the work was over, a new scene of delight presented itself to the sight
of midshipmen who had been so long upon his Majesty's allowance. These
were the boats, which crowded round the ship, loaded with baskets of
bananas, oranges, shaddocks, soursops, and every other kind of tropical
fruit, fried flying fish, eggs, fowls, milk, and everything which could
tempt a poor boy after a long sea voyage. The watch being called, down
we all hastened into the boats, and returned loaded with treasures,
which we soon contrived to make disappear. After stowing away as much
fruit as would have sufficed for a dessert to a dinner given to twenty
people in England, I returned on deck.

There was no other man-of-war in the bay; but my attention was directed
to a beautiful little vessel, a schooner, whose fairy form contrasted
strongly with a West India trader which lay close to her. All of a
sudden, as I was looking at her beautiful outline, a yell rose from her
which quite startled me, and immediately afterwards her deck was covered
with nearly two hundred naked figures with woolly heads, chattering and
grinning at each other. She was a Spanish slaver, which had been
captured, and had arrived the evening before. The slaves were still on
board, waiting the orders of the governor. They had been on deck about
ten minutes, when three or four men, with large panama straw hats on
their heads, and long rattans in their hands, jumped upon the gunnel,
and in a few seconds drove them all down below. I then turned round, and
observed a black woman who had just climbed up the side of the frigate.
O'Brien was on deck, and she walked up to him in the most consequential
manner.

"How do you do, sar? Very happy you com back again," said she to
O'Brien.

"I'm very well, I thank you, ma'am," replied O'Brien, "and I hope to go
back the same; but never having put my foot into this bay before, you
have the advantage of me."

"Nebber here before, so help me Gad! me tink I know you--me tink I
recollect your handsome face--I Lady Rodney, sar. Ah, piccaninny buccra!
how you do?" said she, turning round to me. "Me hope to hab the honour
to wash for you, sar," courtesying to O'Brien.

"What do you charge in this place?"

"All the same price, one bit a piece."

"What do you call a bit?" inquired I.

"A bit, lilly massa?--what you call um _bit_? Dem four _sharp shins _to
a pictareen."

Our deck was now enlivened by several army officers, besides gentlemen
residents, who came off to hear the news. Invitations to the mess and to
the houses of the gentlemen followed, and as they departed Mr Falcon
returned on board. He told O'Brien and the other officers, that the
admiral and squadron were expected in a few days, and that we were to
remain in Carlisle Bay and refit immediately. But although the fright
about the yellow fever had considerably subsided in our breasts, the
remembrance that our poor captain was lying dead in the cabin was
constantly obtruding. All that night the carpenters were up making up
his coffin, for he was to be buried the next day. The body is never
allowed to remain many hours unburied in the tropical climates, where
putrefaction is so rapid. The following morning the men were up at
daylight, washing the decks and putting the ship in order; they worked
willingly, and yet with a silent decorum which showed what their
feelings were. Never were the decks better cleaned, never were the ropes
more carefully _flemished_ down; the hammocks were stowed in their white
cloths, the yards carefully squared, and the ropes hauled taut. At eight
o'clock, the colours and pennant were hoisted half-mast high. The men
were then ordered down to breakfast, and to clean themselves. During the
time that the men were at breakfast, all the officers went into the
cabin to take a last farewell look at our gallant captain. He appeared
to have died without pain, and there was a beautiful tranquillity in his
face; but even already a change had taken place, and we perceived the
necessity of his being buried so soon. We saw him placed in his coffin,
and then quitted the cabin without speaking to each other. When the
coffin was nailed down, it was brought up by the barge's crew to the
quarter-deck, and laid upon the gratings amidships, covered over with
the Union Jack. The men came up from below without waiting for the pipe,
and a solemnity appeared to pervade every motion. Order and quiet were
universal, out of respect to the deceased. When the boats were ordered
to be manned, the men almost appeared to steal into them. The barge
received the coffin, which was placed in the stern sheets. The other
boats then hauled up, and received the officers, marines, and sailors,
who were to follow the procession. When all was ready, the barge was
shoved off by the bow-men, the crew dropped their oars into the water
without a splash and pulled the _minute stroke: _the other boats
followed, and as soon as they were clear of the ship, the minute guns
boomed along the smooth surface of the bay from the opposite side of the
ship, while the yards were topped to starboard and to port, the ropes
were slackened and hung in bights, so as to give the idea of distress
and neglect. At the same time, a dozen or more of the men who had been
ready, dropped over the sides of the ship in differents [sic] parts, and
with their cans of paint and brushes in a few minutes effaced the whole
of the broad white riband which marked the beautiful run of the frigate,
and left her all black and in deep mourning. The guns from the forts now
responded to our own. The merchant ships lowered their colours, and the
men stood up respectfully with their hats off, as the procession moved
slowly to the landing-place. The coffin was borne to the burial-ground
by the crew of the barge, followed by Mr Falcon as chief mourner, all
the officers of the ship who could be spared, one hundred of the seamen
walking two and two, and the marines with their arms reversed. The
_cortege_ was joined by the army officers, while the troops lined the
streets, and the bands played the Dead March. The service was read, the
volleys were fired over the grave, and with oppressed feelings we
returned to the boats, and pulled on board. It then appeared to me, and
to a certain degree I was correct, that as soon as we had paid our last
respect to his remains, we had also forgotten our grief. The yards were
again squared, the ropes hauled taut, working dresses resumed, and all
was activity and bustle. The fact is, that sailors and soldiers have no
time for lamentation, and running as they do from clime to clime, so
does scene follow scene in the same variety and quickness. In a day or
two, the captain appeared to be, although he was not, forgotten. Our
first business was to _water_ the ship by rafting and towing off the
casks. I was in charge of the boat again, with Swinburne as coxswain. As
we pulled in, there were a number of negroes bathing in the surf,
bobbing their woolly heads under it, as it rolled into the beach. "Now,
Mr Simple," said Swinburne, "see how I'll make them _niggers_ scamper."
He then stood up in the stern sheets, and pointing with his finger,
roared out, "A shark! a shark!" Away started all the bathers for the
beach, puffing and blowing, from their dreaded enemy; nor did they stop
to look for him until they were high and dry out of his reach. Then,
when we all laughed, they called us "_all the hangman tiefs_," and every
other opprobrious name which they could select from their vocabulary. I
was very much amused with this scene, and as much afterwards with the
negroes who crowded round us when we landed. They appeared such merry
fellows, always laughing, chattering, singing, and showing their white
teeth. One fellow danced round us, snapping his fingers, and singing
songs without beginning or end. "Eh, massa, what you say now? Me no
slave--true Barbadian born, sir. Eh!

  "Nebba see de day
  Dat Rodney run away,
  Nebba see um night
  Dat Rodney cannot fight.

Massa me free man, sar. Suppose you give me pictareen, drink massa
health.

  "Nebba see de day, boy,
  Pompey lickum de Caesar.

Eh! and you nebba see de day dat de Grasshopper run on de Warrington."

"Out of the way, you nigger," cried one of the men who was rolling down
a cask.

"Eh! who you call nigger? Me free man, and true Barbadian born. Go along
you man-of-war man.

  "Man-of-war, buccra,
  Man-of-war, buccra,
  He de boy for me;
  Sodger, buccra,
  Sodger, buccra,
  Nebba, nebba do,
  Nebba, nebba do for me;
  Sodger give me one shilling,
  Sailor give me two.

Massa, now suppose you give me only one pictareen now. You really
handsome young gentleman."

"Now, just walk off," said Swinburne, lifting up a stick he found on the
beach.

"Eh! walk off.

  "Nebba see de day, boy,
  'Badian run away, boy.

Go, do your work, sar. Why you talk to me? Go, work, sar. I free man,
and real Barbadian born.

  "Negro on de shore
  See de ship come in,
  De buccra come on shore,
  Wid de hand up to the chin;
  Man-of-war buccra,
  Man-of-war buccra,
  He de boy for me,
  Man-of-war, buccra,
  Man-of-war, buccra,
  Gib pictareen to me."

At this moment my attention was directed to another negro, who lay on
the beach rolling and foaming at the mouth, apparently in a fit. "What's
the matter with that fellow?" said I to the same negro who continued
close to me, notwithstanding Swinburne's stick. "Eh! call him Sam Slack,
massa. He ab um _tic tic_ fit." And such was apparently the case. "Stop,
me cure him;" and he snatched the stick out of Swinburne's hand, and
running up to the man, who continued to roll on the beach, commenced
belabouring him without mercy. "Eh, Sambo!" cried he at last, quite out
of breath, "you no better yet--try again." He recommenced, until at last
the man got up and ran away as fast as he could. Now, whether the man
was shamming, or whether it was real _tic tic_, or epileptic fit, I know
not; but I never heard of such a cure for it before. I threw the fellow
half a pictareen, as much for the amusement he had afforded me as to get
rid of him. "Tanky, massa; now man-of-war man, here de tick for you
again to keep off all the dam niggers." So saying, he handed the stick
to Swinburne, made a polite bow, and departed. We were, however, soon
surrounded by others, particularly some dingy ladies with baskets of
fruit, and who, as they said, "sell ebery ting." I perceived that my
sailors were very fond of cocoa-nut milk, which, being a harmless
beverage, I did not object to their purchasing from these ladies, who
had chiefly cocoa-nuts in their baskets. As I had never tasted it, I
asked them what it was, and bought a cocoa-nut. I selected the largest.
"No, massa, dat not good for you. Better one for buccra officer." I then
selected another, but the same objection was made. "No, massa, dis very
fine milk. Very good for de tomac." I drank off the milk from the holes
on the top of the cocoa-nut, and found it very refreshing. As for the
sailors, they appeared very fond of it indeed. But I very soon found
that if good for de tomac, it was not very good for the head, as my men,
instead of rolling the casks, began to roll themselves in all
directions, and when it was time to go off to dinner, most of them were
dead drunk at the bottom of the boat. They insisted that it was the
_sun_ which affected them. Very hot it certainly was, and I believed
them at first, when they were only giddy; but I was convinced to the
contrary when I found that they became insensible; yet how they had
procured the liquor was to me a mystery. When I came on board, Mr
Falcon, who, although acting captain, continued his duties as first
lieutenant almost as punctually as before, asked how it was that I had
allowed my men to get so tipsy. I assured him that I could not tell,
that I had never allowed one to leave the watering-place, or to buy any
liquor: the only thing that they had to drink was a little cocoa-nut
milk, which, as it was so very hot, I thought there could be no
objection to. Mr Falcon smiled and said, "Mr Simple, I'm an old stager
in the West Indies, and I'll let you into a secret. Do you know what
'_sucking the monkey_' means?" "No, sir." "Well, then, I'll tell you; it
is a term used among seamen for drinking _rum_ out of _cocoa-nuts, _the
milk having been poured out, and the liquor substituted. Now do you
comprehend why your men are tipsy?" I stared with all my eyes, for it
never would have entered into my head; and I then perceived why it was
that the black woman would not give me the first cocoa-nuts which I
selected. I told Mr Falcon of this circumstance, who replied, "Well, it
was not your fault, only you must not forget it another time."

It was my first watch that night, and Swinburne was quarter-master on
deck. "Swinburne," said I, "you have often been in the West Indies
before, why did you not tell me that the men were '_sucking the monkey_'
when I thought that they were only drinking cocoa-nut milk?"

Swinburne chuckled, and answered, "Why, Mr Simple, d'ye see, it didn't
become me as a ship-mate to peach. It's but seldom that a poor fellow
has an opportunity of making himself a 'little happy,' and it would not
be fair to take away the chance. I suppose you'll never let them have
cocoa-nut milk again?"

"No, that I will not; but I cannot imagine what pleasure they can find
in getting so tipsy."

"It's merely because they are not allowed to be so, sir. That's the
whole story in few words."

"Well, I think I could cure them if I were permitted to try."

"I should like to hear how you'd manage that, Mr Simple."

"Why, I would oblige a man to drink off a half pint of liquor, and then
put him by himself. I would not allow him companions to make merry with
so as to make a pleasure of intoxication. I would then wait until next
morning when he was sober, and leave him alone with a racking headache
until the evening, when I would give him another dose, and so on,
forcing him to get drunk until he hated the smell of liquor."

"Well, Mr Simple, it might do with some, but many of our chaps would
require the dose you mention to be repeated pretty often before it would
effect a cure; and what's more, they'd be very willing patients, and
make no wry faces at their physic."

"Well, that might be, but it would cure them at last. But tell me,
Swinburne, were you ever in a hurricane?"

"I've been in everything, Mr Simple, I believe, except at school, and I
never had no time to go there. Do you see that battery at Needham Point?
Well, in the hurricane of '82, them same guns were whirled away by the
wind, right over to this point here on the opposite side, the sentries
in their sentry-boxes after them. Some of the soldiers who faced the
wind had their teeth blown down their throats like broken 'baccy-pipes,
others had their heads turned round like dog vanes, 'cause they waited
for orders to the '_right about face_,' and the whole air was full of
young _niggers_ blowing about like peelings of _ingons_."

"You don't suppose I believe all this, Swinburne?"

"That's as may be, Mr Simple, but I've told the story so often, that I
believe it myself."

"What ship were you in?"

"In the _Blanche_, Captain Faulkner, who was as fine a fellow as poor
Captain Savage, whom we buried yesterday; there could not be a finer
than either of them. I was at the taking of the Pique, and carried him
down below after he had received his mortal wound. We did a pretty thing
out here when we took Fort Royal by a coup-de-_main_, which means,
boarding from the _main_-yard of the frigate, and dropping from it into
the fort. But what's that under the moon?--there's a sail in the
offing."

Swinburne fetched the glass and directed it to the spot. "One, two,
three, four. It's the admiral, sir, and the squadron hove-to for the
night. One's a line-of-battle ship, I'll swear." I examined the vessels,
and agreeing with Swinburne, reported them to Mr Falcon. My watch was
then over, and as soon as I was released I went to my hammock.


END OF VOL. I.

TURNBULL AND SPEARS, PRINTERS, EDINBURGH.



PETER SIMPLE

AND

THE THREE CUTTERS


BY

CAPTAIN MARRYAT


VOL. II.


LONDON

J.M. DENT AND CO.

BOSTON: LITTLE, BROWN AND CO.

MDCCCXCV



Contents

VOLUME II

PETER SIMPLE

CHAPTER XXXI                                                           1

CHAPTER XXXII                                                         12

CHAPTER XXXIII                                                        24

CHAPTER XXXIV                                                         38

CHAPTER XXXV                                                          45

CHAPTER XXXVI                                                         53

CHAPTER XXXVII                                                        59

CHAPTER XXXVIII                                                       68

CHAPTER XXXIX                                                         80

CHAPTER XL                                                            87

CHAPTER XLI                                                           96

CHAPTER XLII                                                         105

CHAPTER XLIII                                                        111

CHAPTER XLIV                                                         117

CHAPTER XLV                                                          123

CHAPTER XLVI                                                         128

CHAPTER XLVII                                                        134

CHAPTER XLVIII                                                       140

CHAPTER XLIX                                                         146

CHAPTER L                                                            153

CHAPTER LI                                                           160

CHAPTER LII                                                          169

CHAPTER LIII                                                         175

CHAPTER LIV                                                          180

CHAPTER LV                                                           186

CHAPTER LVI                                                          195

CHAPTER LVII                                                         203

CHAPTER LVIII                                                        209

CHAPTER LIX                                                          217

CHAPTER LX                                                           221

CHAPTER LXI                                                          225

CHAPTER LXII                                                         232

CHAPTER LXIII                                                        238

CHAPTER LXIV                                                         244

CHAPTER LXV                                                          255



_THE THREE CUTTERS_


CHAPTER I                                                            267

CHAPTER II                                                           279

CHAPTER III                                                          287

CHAPTER IV                                                           293

CHAPTER V                                                            302

CHAPTER VI                                                           313

CHAPTER VII                                                          321



Peter Simple



Chapter XXXI

Captain Kearney--The dignity ball.


The next morning at daylight we exchanged numbers, and saluted the flag,
and by eight o'clock they all anchored. Mr Falcon went on board the
admiral's ship with despatches, and to report the death of Captain
Savage. In about half an hour he returned, and we were glad to perceive,
with a smile upon his face, from which we argued that he would receive
his acting order as commander, which was a question of some doubt, as
the admiral had the power to give the vacancy to whom he pleased,
although it would not have been fair if he had not given it to Mr
Falcon; not that Mr Falcon would not have received his commission, as
Captain Savage dying when the ship was under no admiral's command, he
_made himself_; but still the admiral might have sent him home, and not
have given him a ship. But this he did, the captain of the _Minerve_
being appointed to the _Sanglier_, the captain of the _Opossum_ to the
_Minerve_, and Captain Falcon taking command of the _Opossum_. He
received his commission that evening, and the next day the exchanges
were made. Captain Falcon would have taken me with him, and offered so
to do; but I could not leave O'Brien, so I preferred remaining in the
_Sanglier_.

We were all anxious to know what sort of a person our new captain was,
whose name was Kearney; but we had no time to ask the midshipmen, except
when they came in charge of the boats which brought his luggage; they
replied generally, that he was a very good sort of fellow, and there was
no harm in him. But when I had the night watch with Swinburne, he came
up to me, and said, "Well, Mr Simple, so we have a new captain. I sailed
with him for two years in a brig."

"And pray, Swinburne, what sort of a person is he?"

"Why, I'll tell you, Mr Simple: he's a good-tempered, kind fellow
enough, but--"

"But what?"

"Such a _bouncer_!!"

"How do you mean? He's not a very stout man."

"Bless you, Mr Simple, why you don't understand English. I mean that
he's the greatest liar that ever walked a deck. Now, Mr Simple, you know
I can spin a yarn occasionally."

"Yes, that you can, witness the hurricane the other night."

"Well, Mr Simple, I cannot _hold a candle_ to him. It a'n't that I might
not stretch now and then, just for fun, as far as he can, but, d----n
it, he's always on the stretch. In fact, Mr Simple, he never tells the
truth except _by mistake_. He's as poor as a rat, and has nothing but
his pay; yet to believe him, he is worth at least as much as Greenwich
Hospital. But you'll soon find him out, and he'll sarve to laugh at
behind his back, you know, Mr Simple, for that's _no go_ before his
face."

Captain Kearney made his appearance on board the next day. The men were
mustered to receive him, and all the officers were on the quarter-deck.
"You've a fine set of marines here, Captain Falcon," observed he; "those
I left on board of the _Minerve_ were only fit to be _hung_; and you
have a good show of reefers too--those I left in the _Minerve_ were not
_worth hanging_. If you please, I'll read my commission, if you'll order
the men aft." His commission was read, all hands with their hats off
from respect to the authority from which it proceeded. "Now, my lads,"
said Captain Kearney, addressing the ship's company, "I've but few words
to say to you. I am appointed to command this ship, and you appear to
have a very good character from your late first lieutenant. All I
request of you is this: be smart, keep sober, and always _tell the
truth_--that's enough. Pipe down. Gentlemen," continued he, addressing
the officers, "I trust that we shall be good friends; and I see no
reason that it should be otherwise." He then turned away with a bow, and
called his coxswain--"Williams, you'll go on board, and tell my steward
that I have promised to dine with the governor to-day, and that he must
come to dress me; and, coxswain, recollect to put the sheepskin mat on
the stern gratings of my gig--not the one I used to have when I was on
shore in my _carriage_, but the blue one which was used for the
_chariot_--you know which I mean." I happened to look Swinburne in the
face, who cocked his eye at me, as much as to say--"There he goes." We
afterwards met the officers of the _Minerve_, who corroborated all that
Swinburne had said, although it was quite unnecessary, as we had the
captain's own words every minute to satisfy us of the fact.

Dinner parties were now very numerous, and the hospitality of the island
is but too well known. The invitations extended to the midshipmen, and
many was the good dinner and kind reception which I had during my stay.
There was, however, one thing I had heard so much of, that I was anxious
to witness it, which was a _dignity ball_. But I must enter a little
into explanation, or my readers will not understand me. The coloured
people of Barbadoes, for reasons best known to themselves, are
immoderately proud, and look upon all the negroes who are born on other
islands as _niggers_; they have also an extraordinary idea of their own
bravery, although I never heard that it has ever been put to the proof.
The free Barbadians are, most of them, very rich, and hold up their
heads as they walk with an air quite ridiculous. They ape the manners of
the Europeans, at the same time that they appear to consider them as
almost their inferiors. Now, a _dignity_ ball is a ball given by the
most consequential of their coloured people, and from the amusement and
various other reasons, is generally well attended by the officers both
on shore and afloat. The price of the tickets of admission was high--I
think they were half a joe, or eight dollars each.

The governor sent out cards for a grand ball and supper for the ensuing
week, and Miss Betsy Austin, a quadroon woman, ascertaining the fact,
sent out her cards for the same evening. This was not altogether in
_rivalry_, but for another reason, which was, that she was aware that
most of the officers and midshipmen of the ships would obtain permission
to go to the governor's ball, and, preferring hers, would slip away and
join the party, by which means she ensured a full attendance.

On the day of invitation our captain came on board, and told our new
first lieutenant (of whom I shall say more hereafter) that the governor
insisted that all _his_ officers should go--that he would take no
denial, and, therefore, he presumed, go they must; that the fact was,
that the governor was a _relation_ of his wife, and under some trifling
obligations to him in obtaining for him his present command. He
certainly had spoken to the _prime minister_, and he thought it not
impossible, considering the intimate terms which the minister and he had
been on from childhood, that his solicitation might have had some
effect; at all events, it was pleasant to find that there was some
little gratitude left in this world. After this, of course, every
officer went, with the exception of the master, who said that he'd as
soon have two round turns in his hawse as go to see people kick their
legs about like fools, and that he'd take care of the ship.

The governor's ball was very splendid, but the ladies were rather
sallow, from the effects of the climate. However, there were exceptions,
and on the whole it was a very gay affair; but we were all anxious to go
to the _dignity_ ball of Miss Betsy Austin. I slipped away with three
other midshipmen, and we soon arrived there. A crowd of negroes were
outside of the house; but the ball had not yet commenced, from the want
of gentlemen, the ball being very correct, nothing under mulatto in
colour being admitted. Perhaps I ought to say here, that the progeny of
a white and a negro is a mulatto, or half and half--of a white and
mulatto, a _quadroon_, or one-quarter black, and of this class the
company were chiefly composed. I believe a quadroon and white make the
_mustee_ or one-eighth black, and the mustee and white the mustafina, or
one-sixteenth black. After that, they are _whitewashed_, and considered
as Europeans. The pride of colour is very great in the West Indies, and
they have as many quarterings as a German prince in his coat of arms; a
quadroon looks down upon a mulatto, while a mulatto looks down upon a
_sambo_, that is, half mulatto half negro, while a sambo in his turn
looks down upon a _nigger_. The quadroons are certainly the handsomest
race of the whole, some of the women are really beautiful; their hair is
long and perfectly straight, their eyes large and black, their figures
perfection, and you can see the colour mantle in their cheeks quite as
plainly, and with as much effect, as in those of a European. We found
the door of Miss Austin's house open, and ornamented with orange
branches, and on our presenting ourselves were accosted by a mulatto
gentleman, who was, we presumed, "usher of the black rod." His head was
well powdered, he was dressed in white jean trousers, a waistcoat not
six inches long, and a half-worn post-captain's coat on, as a livery,
With a low bow, he "took de liberty to trouble de gentlemen for de card
for de ball," which being produced, we were ushered on by him to the
ball-room, at the door of which Miss Austin was waiting to receive her
company. She made us a low courtesy, observing, "She really happy to see
de _gentlemen_ of de ship, but hoped to see de _officers_ also at her
_dignity_."

This remark touched our _dignity_, and one of my companions replied,
"That we midshipmen considered ourselves officers, and no _small_ ones
either, and that if she waited for the lieutenants she must wait until
they were tired of the governor's ball, we having given the preference
to hers." This remark set all to rights; sangaree was handed about, and
I looked around at the company. I must acknowledge, at the risk of
losing the good opinion of my fair countrywomen, that I never saw before
so many pretty figures and faces. The _officers_ not having yet arrived,
we received all the attention, and I was successively presented to Miss
Eurydice, Miss Minerva, Miss Sylvia, Miss Aspasia, Miss Euterpe, and
many others, evidently borrowed from the different men-of-war which had
been on the station. All these young ladies gave themselves all the airs
of Almack's. Their dresses I cannot pretend to describe--jewels of value
were not wanting, but their drapery was slight; they appeared neither to
wear nor to require stays, and on the whole, their figures were so
perfect that they could only be ill dressed by having on too much dress.
A few more midshipmen and some lieutenants (O'Brien among the number)
having made their appearance, Miss Austin directed that the ball should
commence. I requested the honour of Miss Eurydice's hand in a cotillon,
which was to open the ball. At this moment stepped forth the premier
violin, master of the ceremonies and ballet-master, Massa Johnson,
really a very smart man, who gave lessons in dancing to all the "'Badian
ladies." He was a dark quadroon, his hair slightly powdered, dressed in
a light blue coat thrown well back, to show his lily-white waistcoat,
only one button of which he could afford to button to make full room for
the pride of his heart, the frill of his shirt, which really was _un
Jabot superb_, four inches wide, and extending from his collar to the
waistband of his nankeen tights, which were finished off at his knees
with huge bunches of ribbon; his legs were encased in silk stockings,
which, however, was not very good taste on his part, as they showed the
manifest advantage which an European has over a coloured man in the
formation of the leg: instead of being straight, his shins curved like a
cheese-knife, and, moreover, his leg was planted into his foot like the
handle into a broom or scrubbing-brush, there being quite as much of the
foot on the heel side as on the toe side. Such was the appearance of Mr
Apollo Johnson, whom the ladies considered as the _ne plus ultra _of
fashion, and the _arbiter elegantiarum_. His _bow-tick_, or
fiddle-stick, was his wand, whose magic rap on the fiddle produced
immediate obedience to his mandates. "Ladies and gentle, take your
seats." All started up. "Miss Eurydice, you open de ball."

Miss Eurydice had but a sorry partner, but she undertook to instruct me.
O'Brien was our _vis-à-vis_ with Miss Euterpe. The other gentlemen were
officers from the ships, and we stood up twelve, checkered brown and
white, like a chess-board. All eyes were fixed upon Mr Apollo Johnson,
who first looked at the couples, then at his fiddle, and lastly, at the
other musicians, to see if all was right, and then with a wave of his
_bow-tick_ the music began. "Massa lieutenant," cried Apollo to O'Brien,
"cross over to opposite lady, right hand and left, den figure to Miss
Eurydice--dat right; now four hand round. You lilly midshipman, set your
partner, sir; den twist her round; dat do; now stop. First figure all
over."

At this time I thought I might venture to talk a little with my partner,
and I ventured a remark; to my surprise she answered very sharply, "I
come here for dance, sar, and not for chatter; look, Massa Johnson, he
tap um bow-tick."

The second figure commenced, and I made a sad bungle; so I did of the
third, and fourth, and fifth, for I never had danced a cotillon. When I
handed my partner to her place, who certainly was the prettiest girl in
the room, she looked rather contemptuously at me, and observed to a
neighbour, "I really pity de gentleman as come from England dat no know
how to dance nor nothing at all, until em hab instruction at Barbadoes."

A country dance was now called for, which was more acceptable to all
parties, as none of Mr Apollo Johnson's pupils were very perfect in
their cotillon, and none of the officers, except O'Brien, knew anything
about them. O'Brien's superior education on this point, added to his
lieutenant's epaulet and handsome person, made him much courted; but he
took up with Miss Eurydice after I had left her, and remained with her
the whole evening; thereby exciting the jealousy of Mr Apollo Johnson,
who, it appears, was amorous in that direction. Our party increased
every minute; all the officers of the garrison, and, finally, as soon as
they could get away, the governor's aid-de-camps, all dressed in _mufti_
(i.e., plain clothes). The dancing continued until three o'clock in the
morning, when it was quite a squeeze, from the constant arrival of fresh
recruits from all the houses of Barbadoes. I must say, that a few
bottles of eau de Cologne thrown about the room would have improved the
atmosphere. By this time the heat was terrible, and the _mopping_ of the
ladies' faces everlasting. I would recommend a DIGNITY ball to all stout
gentlemen who wish to be reduced a stone or two. Supper was now
announced, and having danced the last country dance with Miss Minerva, I
of course had the pleasure of handing her into the supper-room. It was
my fate to sit opposite to a fine turkey, and I asked my partner if I
should have the pleasure of helping her to a piece of the breast. She
looked at me very indignantly, and said, "Curse your impudence, sar, I
wonder where you larn manners. Sar, I take a lilly turkey _bosom_, if
you please. Talk of _breast_ to a lady, sar;--really quite _horrid_." I
made two or three more barbarous mistakes before the supper was
finished. At last the eating was over, and I must say a better supper I
never sat down to. "Silence, gentlemen and ladies," cried Mr Apollo
Johnson. "Wid the permission of our amiable hostess, I will propose a
toast. Gentlemen and ladies--You all know, and if be so you don't, I say
that there no place in the world like Barbadoes. All de world fight
against England, but England nebber fear; King George nebber fear, while
_Barbadoes 'tand 'tiff_. 'Badian fight for King George to last drop of
him blood. Nebber see the day 'Badian run away; you all know dem
Frenchmans at San Lucee, give up Morne Fortunee, when he hear de 'Badian
volunteer come against him. I hope no 'fence present company, but um
sorry to say English come here too jealous of 'Badians. Gentlemen and
lady--Barbadian born ab only one fault--he _really too brave_. I propose
health of 'Island of Barbadoes.'" Acclamations from all quarters
followed this truly modest speech, and the toast was drunk with rapture;
the ladies were delighted with Mr Apollo's eloquence, and the lead which
he took in the company.

O'Brien then rose and addressed the company as follows:--

"Ladies and gentlemen--Mr Poll has spoken better than the best parrot I
ever met with in this country, but as he has thought proper to drink the
'Island of Barbadoes,' I mean to be a little more particular. I wish,
with him, all good health to the island; but there is a charm without
which the island would be a desert--that is, the society of the lovely
girls which now surround us, and take our hearts by storm--" (here
O'Brien put his arm gently round Miss Eurydice's waist, and Mr Apollo
ground his teeth so as to be heard at the furthest end of the room)"--
therefore, gentlemen, with your permission, I will propose the health of
the ''Badian Ladies.'" This speech of O'Brien's was declared, by the
females at least, to be infinitely superior to Mr Apollo Johnson's. Miss
Eurydice was even more gracious, and the other ladies were more envious.

Many other toasts and much more wine was drunk, until the male part of
the company appeared to be rather riotous. Mr Apollo, however, had to
regain his superiority, and after some hems and hahs, begged permission
to give a sentiment. "Gentlemen and ladies, I beg then to say--

  "Here's to de cock who make lub to de hen,
  Crow till he hoarse and make lub again."

This _sentiment_ was received with rapture; and after silence was
obtained, Miss Betsy Austin rose and said--"Unaccustomed as she was to
public 'peaking, she must not sit 'till and not tank de gentleman for
his very fine toast, and in de name of de ladies she begged to propose
another sentimen', which was--

  "Here to de hen what nebber refuses,
  Let cock pay compliment whenebber he chooses."

If the first toast was received with applause, this was with enthusiasm;
but we received a damper after it was subsided, by the lady of the house
getting up and saying--"Now, gentlemen and ladies, me tink it right to
say dat it time to go home; I nebber allow people get drunk or kick up
bobbery in my house, so now I tink we better take parting-glass, and
very much obliged to you for your company."

As O'Brien said, this was a broad hint to be off, so we all now took our
parting-glass, in compliance with her request, and our own wishes, and
proceeded to escort our partners on their way home. While I was
assisting Miss Minerva to her red crape shawl, a storm was brewing in
another quarter, to wit, between Mr Apollo Johnson and O'Brien. O'Brien
was assiduously attending to Miss Eurydice, whispering what he called
soft blarney in her ear, when Mr Apollo, who was above spirit-boiling
heat with jealousy, came up, and told Miss Eurydice that he would have
the honour of escorting her home.

"You may save yourself the trouble, you dingy gut-scraper," replied
O'Brien; "the lady is under my protection, so take your ugly black face
out of the way, or I'll show you how I treat a ''Badian who is really
too brave.'"

"So 'elp me Gad, Massa Lieutenant, 'pose you put finger on me, I show
you what 'Badian can do."

Apollo then attempted to insert himself between O'Brien and his lady,
upon which O'Brien shoved him back with great violence, and continued
his course towards the door. They were in the passage when I came up,
for hearing O'Brien's voice in anger, I left Miss Minerva to shift for
herself.

Miss Eurydice had now left O'Brien's arm, at his request, and he and Mr
Apollo were standing in the passage, O'Brien close to the door, which
was shut, and Apollo swaggering up to him. O'Brien, who knew the tender
part of a black, saluted Apollo with a kick on the shins which would
have broken my leg. Massa Johnson roared with pain, and recoiled two or
three paces, parting the crowd away behind him. The blacks never fight
with fists, but butt with their heads like rams, and with quite as much
force. When Mr Apollo had retreated, he gave his shin one more rub,
uttered a loud yell, and started at O'Brien, with his head aimed at
O'Brien's chest, like a battering-ram. O'Brien, who was aware of this
plan of fighting, stepped dexterously on one side, and allowed Mr Apollo
to pass by him, which he did with such force, that his head went clean
through the panel of the door behind O'Brien, and there he stuck as fast
as if in a pillory, squeaking like a pig for assistance, and foaming
with rage. After some difficulty he was released, and presented a very
melancholy figure. His face was much cut, and his superb _Jabot_ all in
tatters; he appeared, however, to have had quite enough of it, as he
retreated to the supper-room, followed by some of his admirers, without
asking or looking after O'Brien.

But if Mr Apollo had had enough of it, his friends were too indignant to
allow us to go off scot free. A large mob was collected in the street,
vowing vengeance on us for our treatment of their flash man, and a row
was to be expected. Miss Eurydice had escaped, so that O'Brien had his
hands free. "Cam out, you hangman tiefs, cam out; only wish had rock
stones, to mash your heads with," cried the mob of negroes. The officers
now sallied out in a body, and were saluted with every variety of
missile, such as rotten oranges, cabbage-stalks, mud, and cocoa-nut
shells. We fought our way manfully, but as we neared the beach the mob
increased to hundreds, and at last we could proceed no further, being
completely jammed up by the niggers, upon whose heads we could make no
more impression than upon blocks of marble. "We must draw our swords,"
observed an officer. "No, no," replied O'Brien, "that will not do; if
once we shed blood, they will never let us get on board with our lives.
The boat's crew by this time must be aware that there is a row." O'Brien
was right. He had hardly spoken, before a lane was observed to be made
through the crowd in the distance, which in two minutes was open to us.
Swinburne appeared in the middle of it, followed by the rest of the
boat's crew, armed with the boat's stretchers, which they did not aim at
the _heads_ of the blacks, but swept them like scythes against their
_shins_. This they continued to do, right and left of us, as we walked
through and went down to the boats, the seamen closing up the rear with
their stretchers, with which they ever and anon made a sweep at the
black fellows if they approached too near. It was now broad daylight,
and in a few minutes we were again safely on board the frigate. Thus
ended the first and last dignity ball that I attended.



Chapter XXXII

I am claimed by Captain Kearney as a relation--Trial of skill between
first lieutenant and captain with the long bow--The shark, the pug-dog,
and the will--A quarter-deck picture.


As the admiral was not one who would permit the ships under his command
to lie idle in port, in a very few days after the dignity ball which I
have described, all the squadron sailed on their various destinations. I
was not sorry to leave the bay, for one soon becomes tired of profusion,
and cared nothing for either oranges, bananas, or shaddocks, nor even
for, the good dinners and claret at the tables of the army mess and
gentlemen of the island. The sea breeze soon became more precious to us
than anything else, and if we could have bathed without the fear of a
shark, we should have equally appreciated that most refreshing of all
luxuries under the torrid zone. It was therefore with pleasure that we
received the information that we were to sail the next day to cruise off
the French island of Martinique. Captain Kearney had been so much on
shore that we saw but little of him, and the ship was entirely under the
control of the first lieutenant, of whom I have hitherto not spoken. He
was a very short, pock-marked man, with red hair and whiskers, a good
sailor, and not a bad officer; that is, he was a practical sailor, and
could show any foremast man his duty in any department--and this seamen
very much appreciate, as it is not very common; but I never yet knew an
officer who prided himself upon his practical knowledge, who was at the
same time a good navigator, and too often, by assuming the Jack Tar,
they lower the respect due to them, and become coarse and vulgar in
their manners and language. This was the case with Mr Phillott, who
prided himself upon his slang, and who was at one time "hail fellow well
met" with the seamen, talking to them, and being answered as familiarly
as if they were equals, and at another, knocking the very same men down
with a handspike if he was displeased. He was not bad-tempered, but very
hasty; and his language to the officers was occasionally very incorrect;
to the midshipmen invariably so. However, on the whole, he was not
disliked, although he was certainly not respected as a first lieutenant
should have been. It is but fair to say, that he was the same to his
superiors as he was to his inferiors, and the bluntness with which he
used to contradict and assert his disbelief of Captain Kearney's
narratives often produced a coolness between them for some days.

The day after we sailed from Carlisle Bay I was asked to dine in the
cabin. The dinner was served upon plated dishes, which looked very
grand, but there was not much in them. "This plate," observed the
captain, "was presented to me by some merchants for my exertions in
saving their property from the Danes when I was cruising off
Heligoland."

"Why, that lying steward of yours told me that you bought it at
Portsmouth," replied the first lieutenant: "I asked him in the galley
this morning."

"How came you to assert such a confounded falsehood, sir?" said the
captain to the man who stood behind his chair.

"I only said that I thought so," replied the steward.

"Why, didn't you say that the bill had been sent in, through you, seven
or eight times, and that the captain had paid it with a flowing sheet?"

"Did you dare say that, sir?" interrogated the captain, very angrily.

"Mr Phillott mistook me, sir?" replied the steward. "He was so busy
damning the sweepers, that he did not hear me right. I said, the
midshipmen had paid their crockery bill with the fore-topsail."

"Ay! ay!" replied the captain, "that's much more likely."

"Well, Mr Steward," replied Mr Phillott, "I'll be d----d if you ar'n't
as big a liar as your--" (master, he was going to plump out, but
fortunately the first lieutenant checked himself, and added)--"as your
father was before you."

The captain changed the conversation by asking me whether I would take a
slice of ham. "It's real Westphalia, Mr Simple; I have them sent me
direct by Count Troningsken, an intimate friend of mine, who kills his
own wild boars in the Hartz mountains."

"How the devil do you get them over, Captain Kearney?"

"There are ways and means of doing everything, Mr Phillott, and the
First Consul is not quite so bad as he is represented. The first batch
was sent over with a very handsome letter to me, written in his own
hand, which I will show you some of these days. I wrote to him in
return, and sent to him two Cheshire cheeses by a smuggler, and since
that they came regularly. Did you ever eat Westphalia ham, Mr Simple?"

"Yes," replied I; "once I partook of one at Lord Privilege's."

"Lord Privilege! why he's a distant relation of mine, a sort of fifth
cousin," replied Captain Kearney.

"Indeed, sir!" replied I.

"Then you must allow me to introduce you to a relation, Captain
Kearney," said the first lieutenant; "for Mr Simple is his grandson."

"Is it possible? I can only say, Mr Simple, that I shall be most happy
to show you every attention, and am very glad that I have you as one of
my officers."

Now although this was all false, for Captain Kearney was not in the
remotest manner connected with my family, yet having once asserted it,
he could not retract, and the consequence was, that I was much the
gainer by his falsehood, as he treated me very kindly afterwards, always
calling me _cousin_.

The first lieutenant smiled and gave me a wink, when the captain had
finished his speech to me, as much as to say, "You're in luck," and then
the conversation changed. Captain Kearney certainly dealt in the
marvellous to admiration, and really told his stories with such
earnestness, that I actually believe that he thought he was telling the
truth. Never was there such an instance of confirmed habit. Telling a
story of a cutting-out expedition, he said, "The French captain would
have fallen by my hand, but just as I levelled my musket, a ball came,
and cut off the cock of the lock as clean as if it was done with a
knife--a very remarkable instance," observed he.

"Not equal to what occurred in a ship I was in," replied the first
lieutenant, "when the second lieutenant was grazed by a grape-shot,
which cut off one of his whiskers, and turning round his head to
ascertain what was the matter, another grape-shot came and took off the
other. Now that's what I call a _close shave_."

"Yes," replied Captain Kearney, "very close, indeed, if it were true;
but you'll excuse me, Mr Phillott, but you sometimes tell strange
stories. I do not mind it myself, but the example is not good to my
young relation here, Mr Simple."

"Captain Kearney," replied the first lieutenant, laughing very
immoderately, "do you know what the pot called the kettle?"

"No, sir, I do not," retorted the captain, with offended dignity. "Mr
Simple, will you take a glass of wine?"

I thought that this little _brouillerie_ would have checked the captain;
it did so, but only for a few minutes, when he again commenced. The
first lieutenant observed that it would be necessary to let water into
the ship every morning, and pump it out, to avoid the smell of the
bilge-water. "There are worse smells than bilge-water," replied the
captain. "What do you think of a whole ship's company being nearly
poisoned with otto of roses? Yet that occurred to me when in the
Mediterranean. I was off Smyrna, cruising for a French ship, that was to
sail to France, with a pasha on board, as an ambassador. I knew she
would be a good prize, and was looking sharp out, when one morning we
discovered her on the lee bow. We made all sail, but she walked away
from us, bearing away gradually till we were both before the wind, and
at night we lost sight of her. As I knew that she was bound to
Marseilles, I made all sail to fall in with her again. The wind was
light and variable; but five days afterwards, as I lay in my cot, just
before daylight, I smelt a very strong smell, blowing in at the weather
port, and coming down the skylight, which was open; and after sniffing
at it two or three times, I knew it to be otto of roses. I sent for the
officer of the watch, and asked him if there was anything in sight. He
replied 'that there was not;' and I ordered him to sweep the horizon
with his glass, and look well out to windward. As the wind freshened,
the smell became more powerful. I ordered him to get the royal yards
across, and all ready to make sail, for I knew that the Turk must be
near us. At daylight there he was, just three miles ahead in the wind's
eye. But although he beat us going free, he was no match for us, on a
wind, and before noon we had possession of him and all his harem.
By-the-by, I could tell you a good story about the ladies. She was a
very valuable prize, and among other things, she had a _puncheon_ of
otto of roses on board--."

"Whew!" cried the first lieutenant. "What! a whole puncheon?"

"Yes," replied the captain, "a Turkish puncheon--not quite so large,
perhaps, as ours on board; their weights and measures are different. I
took out most of the valuables into the brig I commanded--about 20,000
sequins--carpets--and among the rest, this cask of otto of roses, which
we had smelt three miles off. We had it safe on board, when the mate of
the hold, not slinging it properly, it fell into the spirit-room with a
run, and was stove to pieces. Never was such a scene; my first
lieutenant and several men on deck fainted; and the men in the hold were
brought up lifeless; it was some time before they were recovered. We let
the water into the brig, and pumped it out, but nothing would take away
the smell, which was so overpowering, that before I could get to Malta I
had forty men on the sick list. When I arrived there, I turned the mate
out of the service for his carelessness. It was not until after having
smoked the brig, and finding that of little use, after having sunk her
for three weeks, that the smell was at all bearable; but even then it
could never be eradicated, and the admiral sent the brig home, and she
was sold out of the service. They could do nothing with her at the
dockyards. She was broken up, and bought by the people at Brighton and
Tunbridge Wells, who used her timbers for turning fancy articles, which,
smelling as they did, so strongly of otto of roses, proved very
profitable. Were you ever at Brighton, Mr Simple?"

"Never, sir."

Just at this moment, the officer of the watch came down to say that
there was a very large shark under the counter, and wished to know if
the captain had any objection to the officers attempting to catch it.

"By no means," replied Captain Kearney; "I hate sharks as I do the
devil. I nearly lost £14,000 by one, when I was in the Mediterranean."

"May I inquire how, Captain Kearney?" said the first lieutenant, with a
demure face; "I'm very anxious to know."

"Why the story is simply this," replied the captain. "I had an old
relation at Malta, whom I found out by accident--an old maid of sixty,
who had lived all her life on the island. It was by mere accident that I
knew of her existence. I was walking upon Strada Reale, when I saw a
large baboon that was kept there, who had a little fat pug-dog by the
tail, which he was pulling away with him, while an old lady was
screaming out for help: for whenever she ran to assist her dog, the
baboon made at her as if he would have ravished her, and caught her by
the petticoats with one hand, while he held the pug-dog fast by the
other. I owed that brute a spite for having attacked me one night when I
passed him, and perceiving what was going on, I drew my sword and gave
Mr Jacko such a clip as sent him away howling, and bleeding like a pig,
leaving me in possession of the little pug, which I took up and handed
to his mistress. The old lady trembled very much, and begged me to see
her safe home. She had a very fine house, and after she was seated on
the sofa, thanked me very much for my gallant assistance, as she termed
it, and told me her name was Kearney: upon this I very soon proved my
relationship with her, at which she was much delighted, requesting me to
consider her house as my home. I was for two years afterwards on that
station, and played my cards very well; and the old lady gave me a hint
that I should be her heir, as she had no other relations that she knew
anything of. At last I was ordered home, and not wishing to leave her, I
begged her to accompany me, offering her my cabin. She was taken very
ill a fortnight before we sailed, and made a will, leaving me her sole
heir; but she recovered, and got as fat as ever. Mr Simple, the wine
stands with you. I doubt if Lord Privilege gave you better claret than
there is in that bottle; I imported it myself ten years ago, when I
commanded the _Coquette_."

"Very odd," observed the first lieutenant--"we bought some at Barbadoes
with the same mark on the bottles and cork."

"That may be," replied the captain; "old-established houses all keep up
the same marks; but I doubt if your wine can be compared to this."

As Mr Phillott wished to hear the end of the captain's story, he would
not contradict him this time, by stating what he knew to be the case,
that the captain had sent it on board at Barbadoes; and the captain
proceeded.

"Well, I gave up my cabin to the old lady, and hung up my cot in the
gun-room during the passage home.

"We were becalmed abreast of Ceuta for two days. The old lady was very
particular about her pug-dog, and I superintended the washing of the
little brute twice a week; but at last I was tired of it, and gave him
to my coxswain to bathe. My coxswain, who was a lazy fellow, without my
knowledge, used to put the little beast into the bight of a rope, and
tow him overboard for a minute or so. It was during this calm that he
had him overboard in this way, when a confounded shark rose from under
the counter, and took in the pug-dog at one mouthful. The coxswain
reported the loss as a thing of no consequence; but I knew better, and
put the fellow in irons. I then went down and broke the melancholy fact
to Miss Kearney, stating that I had put the man in irons, and would flog
him well. The old lady broke out into a most violent passion at the
intelligence, declared that it was my fault, that I was jealous of the
dog, and had done it on purpose. The more I protested, the more she
raved; and at last I was obliged to go on deck to avoid her abuse and
keep my temper. I had not been on deck five minutes before she came up--
that is, was shoved up--for she was so heavy that she could not get up
without assistance. You know how elephants in India push the cannon
through a morass with their heads from behind; well, my steward used to
shove her up the companion-ladder just in the same way, with his head
completely buried in her petticoats. As soon as she was up, he used to
pull his head out, looking as red and hot as a fresh-boiled lobster.
Well, up she came, with her will in her hand, and, looking at me very
fiercely, she said, 'Since the shark has taken my dear dog, he may have
my will also,' and, throwing it overboard, she plumped down on the
carronade slide. 'It's very well, madam,' said I, 'but you'll be cool
by-and-by, and then you'll make another will.' 'I swear by all the hopes
that I have of going to heaven that I never will!' she replied. 'Yes,
you will, madam,' replied I. 'Never, so help me God! Captain Kearney; my
money may now go to my next heir, and that, you know, will not be you.'
Now, as I knew very well that the old lady was very positive and as good
as her word, my object was to recover the will, which was floating about
fifty yards astern, without her knowledge. I thought a moment, and then
I called the boatswain's mate to _pipe all hands to bathe_. 'You'll
excuse me, Miss Kearney,' said I, 'but the men are going to bathe, and I
do not think you would like to see them all naked. If you would, you can
stay on deck.' She looked daggers at me, and, rising from the carronade
slide, hobbled to the ladder, saying, 'that the insult was another proof
of how little I deserved any kindness from her.' As soon as she was
below, the quarter-boats were lowered down, and I went in one of them
and picked up the will, which still floated. Brigs having no
stern-windows, of course she could not see my manoeuvre, but thought
that the will was lost for ever. We had very bad weather after that,
owing to which, with the loss of her favourite pug, and constant
quarrelling with me--for I did all I could to annoy her afterwards--she
fell ill, and was buried a fortnight after she was landed at Plymouth.
The old lady kept her word; she never made another will. I proved the
one I had recovered at Doctors' Commons, and touched the whole of her
money."

As neither the first lieutenant nor I could prove whether the story was
true or not, of course we expressed our congratulations at his good
fortune, and soon afterwards left the cabin to report his marvellous
story to our messmates. When I went on deck, I found that the shark had
just been hooked, and was hauling on board. Mr Phillott had also come on
deck. The officers were all eager about the shark, and were looking over
the side, calling to each other, and giving directions to the men. Now,
although certainly there was a want of decorum on the quarter-deck,
still, the captain having given permission, it was to be excused; but Mr
Phillott thought otherwise, and commenced in his usual style, beginning
with the marine officer.

"Mr Westley, I'll trouble you not to be getting upon the hammocks.
You'll get off directly, sir. If one of your fellows were to do so, I'd
stop his grog for a month, and I don't see why you are to set a bad
example; you've been too long in barracks, sir, by half. Who is that? Mr
Williams and Mr Moore--both on the hammocks, too. Up to the foretopmast
head, both of you, directly. Mr Thomas, up to the main; and I say, you
youngster, stealing off, perch yourself upon the spanker-boom, and let
me know when you've rode to London. By God! the service is going to
hell! I don't know what officers are made of now-a-days. I'll marry some
of you young gentlemen to the gunner's daughter before long.
Quarter-deck's no better than a bear-garden. No wonder, when lieutenants
set the example."

This latter remark could only be applied to O'Brien, who stood in the
quarter-boat giving directions, before the tirade of Mr Phillott stopped
the amusement of the party. O'Brien immediately stepped out of the boat,
and going up to Mr Phillott, touched his hat, and said, "Mr Phillott, we
had the captain's permission to catch the shark, and a shark is not to
be got on board by walking up and down on the quarter-deck. As regards
myself, as long as the captain is on board, I hold myself responsible to
him alone for my conduct; and if you think I have done wrong, forward
your complaint; but if you pretend to use such language to me, as you
have to others, I shall hold you responsible. I am here, sir, as an
officer and a gentleman, and will be treated as such; and allow me to
observe, that I consider the quarter-deck more disgraced by foul and
ungentlemanly language, than I do by an officer accidentally standing
upon the hammocks. However, as you have thought proper to interfere, you
may now get the shark on board yourself."

Mr Phillott turned very red, for he never had come in contact in this
way with O'Brien. All the other officers had submitted quietly to his
unpleasant manner of speaking to them. "Very well, Mr O'Brien; I shall
hold you answerable for this language," replied he, "and shall most
certainly report your conduct to the captain."

"I will save you the trouble; Captain Kearney is now coming up, and I
will report it myself."

This O'Brien did, upon the captain's putting his foot on the
quarter-deck.

"Well," observed the captain to Mr Phillott, "what is it you complain
of?"

"Mr O'Brien's language, sir. Am I to be addressed on the quarter-deck in
that manner?"

"I really must say, Mr Phillott," replied Captain Kearney, "that I do
not perceive anything in what Mr O'Brien said, but what is correct. I
command here; and if an officer so nearly equal in rank to yourself has
committed himself, you are not to take the law into your own hands. The
fact is, Mr Phillott, your language is not quite so correct as I could
wish it. I overheard every word that passed, and I consider that _you_
have treated _your superior_ officer with disrespect--that is, _me_. I
gave permission that the shark should be caught, and with that
permission, I consequently allowed those little deviations from the
discipline of the service which must inevitably take place. Yet you have
thought proper to interfere with my permission, which is tantamount to
an order, and have made use of harsh language, and punished the young
gentlemen for obeying my injunctions. You will oblige me, sir, by
calling them all down, and in restraining your petulance for the future.
I will always support your authority when you are correct; but I regret
that in this instance you have necessitated me to weaken it."

This was a most severe check to Mr Phillott, who immediately went below,
after hailing the mastheads and calling down the midshipmen. As soon as
he was gone we were all on the hammocks again; the shark was hauled
forward, hoisted on board, and every frying-pan in the ship was in
requisition. We were all much pleased with Captain Kearney's conduct on
this occasion; and, as O'Brien observed to me, "He really is a good
fellow and clever officer. What a thousand pities it is, that he is such
a confounded liar!" I must do Mr Phillott the justice to say that he
bore no malice on this occasion, but treated us as before, which is
saying a great deal in his favour, when it is considered what power a
first lieutenant has of annoying and punishing his inferiors.



Chapter XXXIII

Another set-to between the captain and first lieutenant--Cutting-out
expedition--Mr Chucks mistaken--He dies like a gentleman--Swinburne
begins his account of the battle off St Vincent.


We had not been more than a week under the Danish island of St Thomas
when we discovered a brig close in-shore. We made all sail in chase, and
soon came within a mile and a half of the shore, when she anchored under
a battery, which opened its fire upon us. Their elevation was too great,
and several shots passed over us and between our masts.

"I once met with a very remarkable circumstance," observed Captain
Kearney. "Three guns were fired at a frigate I was on board of from a
battery, all at the same time. The three shots cut away the three
topsail ties, and down came all our topsail yards upon the cap at the
same time. That the Frenchmen might not suppose that they had taken such
good aim, we turned up our hands to reef topsails; and by the time that
the men were off the yards the ties were spliced and the topsails run up
again."

Mr Phillott could not stand this most enormous fib, and he replied,
"Very odd, indeed, Captain Kearney; but I have known a stranger
circumstance. We had put in the powder to the four guns on the main deck
when we were fighting the Danish gun-boats in a frigate I was in, and,
as the men withdrew the rammer, a shot from the enemy entered the
muzzle, and completed the loading of each gun. We fired their own shot
back upon them, and this occurred three times running."

"Upon my word," replied Captain Kearney, who had his glass upon the
battery, "I think you must have dreamt that circumstance, Mr Phillott."

"Not more than you did about the topsail ties, Captain Kearney."

Captain Kearney at that time had the long glass in his hand, holding it
up over his shoulder. A shot from the battery whizzed over his head, and
took the glass out of his hand, shivering it to pieces. "That's once,"
said Captain Kearney, very coolly; "but will you pretend that that could
ever happen three times running? They might take my head off, or my arm,
next time, but not another glass; whereas the topsail ties might be cut
by three different shot. But give me another glass, Mr Simple: I am
certain that this vessel is a privateer. What think you, Mr O'Brien?"

"I am every bit of your opinion, Captain Kearney," replied O'Brien; "and
I think it would be a very pretty bit of practice to the ship's company
to take her out from under that footy battery."

"Starboard the helm, Mr Phillott; keep away four points, and then we
will think of it to-night."

The frigate was now kept away, and ran out of the fire of the battery.
It was then about an hour before sunset, and in the West Indies the sun
does not set as it does in the northern latitudes. There is no twilight:
he descends in glory, surrounded with clouds of gold and rubies in their
gorgeous tints; and once below the horizon, all is dark. As soon as it
was dark, we hauled our wind off shore; and a consultation being held
between the captain, Mr Phillott, and O'Brien, the captain at last
decided that the attempt should be made. Indeed, although cutting-out is
a very serious affair, as you combat under every disadvantage, still the
mischief done to our trade by the fast-sailing privateers was so great
in the West Indies, that almost every sacrifice was warrantable for the
interests of the country. Still, Captain Kearney, although a brave and
prudent officer--one who calculated chances, and who would not risk his
men without he deemed that necessity imperiously demanded that such
should be done--was averse to this attack, from his knowledge of the bay
in which the brig was anchored; and although Mr Phillott and O'Brien
both were of opinion that it should be a night attack, Captain Kearney
decided otherwise. He considered, that although the risk might be
greater, yet the force employed would be more consolidated, and that
those who would hold back in the night dare not do so during the day.
Moreover, that the people on shore in the battery, as well as those in
the privateer, would be on the alert all night, and not expecting an
attack during the day, would be taken off their guard. It was therefore
directed that everything should be in preparation during the night, and
that the boats should shove off before daylight, and row in-shore,
concealing themselves behind some rocks under the cliffs which formed
the cape upon one side of the harbour; and, if not discovered, remain
there till noon, at which time it was probable that the privateer's men
would be on shore, and the vessel might be captured without difficulty.

It is always a scene of much interest on board a man-of-war when
preparations are made for an expedition of this description; and, as the
reader may not have been witness to them, it may perhaps be interesting
to describe them. The boats of men-of-war have generally two crews; the
common boats' crews, which are selected so as not to take away the most
useful men from the ship; and the service, or fighting boats' crews,
which are selected from the very best men on board. The coxswains of the
boats are the most trustworthy men in the ship, and, on this occasion,
have to see that their boats are properly equipped. The launch, yawl,
first and second cutters, were the boats appointed for the expedition.
They all carried guns mounted upon slides, which ran fore and aft
between the men. After the boats were hoisted out, the guns were lowered
down into them and shipped in the bows of the boats. The arm-chests were
next handed in, which contain the cartridges and ammunition. The shot
were put into the bottom of the boats; and so far they were all ready.
The oars of the boats were fitted to pull with grummets upon iron
thole-pins, that they might make little noise, and might swing fore and
aft without falling overboard when the boats pulled alongside the
privateer. A breaker or two (that is, small casks holding about seven
gallons each) of water was put into each boat, and also the men's
allowance of spirits, in case they should be detained by any unforeseen
circumstances. The men belonging to the boats were fully employed in
looking after their arms; some fitting their flints to their pistols,
others, and the major part of them, sharpening their cutlasses at the
grindstone, or with a file borrowed from the armourer,--all were busy
and all merry. The very idea of going into action is a source of joy to
an English sailor, and more jokes are made, more merriment excited, at
that time than at any other. Then, as it often happens that one or two
of the service boats' crews may be on the sick list, urgent
solicitations are made by others that they may supply their places. The
only parties who appear at all grave are those who are to remain in the
frigate, and not share in the expedition. There is no occasion to order
the boats to be manned, for the men are generally in long before they
are piped away. Indeed, one would think that it was a party of pleasure,
instead of danger and of death, upon which they were about to proceed.

Captain Kearney selected the officers who were to have the charge of the
boats. He would not trust any of the midshipmen on so dangerous a
service. He said that he had known so many occasions in which their
rashness and foolhardiness had spoilt an expedition; he therefore
appointed Mr Phillott, the first lieutenant, to the launch; O'Brien to
the yawl; the master to the first, and Mr Chucks, the boatswain, to the
second cutter. Mr Chucks was much pleased with the idea of having the
command of a boat, and asked me to come with him, to which I consented,
although I had intended, as usual, to have gone with O'Brien.

About an hour before daylight we ran the frigate to within a mile and a
half of the shore, and the boats shoved off; the frigate then wore
round, and stood out in the offing, that she might at daylight be at
such a distance as not to excite any suspicion that our boats were sent
away, while we in the boats pulled quietly in-shore. We were not a
quarter of an hour before we arrived at the cape forming one side of the
bay, and were well secreted among the cluster of rocks which were
underneath. Our oars were laid in; the boats' painters made fast; and
orders given for the strictest silence. The rocks were very high, and
the boats were not to be seen without any one should come to the edge of
the precipice; and even then they would, in all probability, have been
supposed to have been rocks. The water was as smooth as glass, and when
it was broad daylight, the men hung listlessly over the sides of the
boats, looking at the corals below, and watching the fish as they glided
between.

"I can't say, Mr Simple," said Mr Chucks to me in an under tone, "that I
think well of this expedition; and I have an idea that some of us will
lose the number of our mess. After a calm comes a storm; and how quiet
is everything now! But I'll take off my great coat, for the sun is hot
already. Coxswain, give me my jacket."

Mr Chucks had put on his great coat, but not his jacket underneath,
which he had left on one of the guns on the main deck, all ready to
change as soon as the heavy dew had gone off. The coxswain handed him
the jacket, and Mr Chucks threw off his great coat to put it on; but
when it was opened it proved, that by mistake he had taken away the
jacket, surmounted by two small epaulettes, belonging to Captain
Kearney, which the captain's steward, who had taken it out to brush, had
also laid upon the same gun.

"By all the nobility of England!" cried Mr Chucks, "I have taken away
the captain's jacket by mistake. Here's a pretty mess! if I put on my
great coat I shall be dead with sweating; if I put on no jacket I shall
be roasted brown; but if I put on the captain's jacket I shall be
considered disrespectful."

The men in the boats tittered; and Mr Phillott, who was in the launch
next to us, turned round to see what was the matter; O'Brien was sitting
in the stern-sheets of the launch with the first lieutenant, and I
leaned over and told them.

"By the powers! I don't see why the captain's jacket will be at all hurt
by Mr Chucks putting it on," replied O'Brien; "unless, indeed, a bullet
were to go through it, and then it won't be any fault of Mr Chucks."

"No," replied the first lieutenant; "and if one did, the captain might
keep the jacket, and swear that the bullet went round his body without
wounding him. He'll have a good yarn to spin. So put it on, Mr Chucks;
you'll make a good mark for the enemy."

"That I will stand the risk of with pleasure," observed the boatswain to
me, "for the sake of being considered a gentleman. So here's on with
it."

There was a general laugh when Mr Chucks pulled on the captain's jacket,
and sank down in the stern-sheets of the cutter, with great complacency
of countenance. One of the men in the boat that we were in thought
proper, however, to continue his laugh a little longer than Mr Chucks
considered necessary, who, leaning forward, thus addressed him: "I say,
Mr Webber, I beg leave to observe to you, in the most delicate manner in
the world--just to hint to you--that it is not the custom to laugh at
your superior officer. I mean just to insinuate, that you are a d----d
impudent son of a sea cook; and if we both live and do well, I will
prove to you, that if I am to be laughed at in a boat with the captain's
jacket on, that I am not to be laughed at on board the frigate with the
boatswain's rattan in my fist; and so look out, my hearty, for squalls,
when you come on the forecastle; for I'll be d----d if I don't make you
see more stars than God Almighty ever made, and cut more capers than all
the dancing-masters in France. Mark my words, you burgoo-eating,
pea-soup-swilling, trowsers-scrubbing son of a bitch."

Mr Chucks, having at the end of this oration raised his voice above the
pitch required by the exigency of the service, was called to order by
the first lieutenant, and again sank back into the stern-sheets with all
the importance and authoritative show peculiarly appertaining to a pair
of epaulettes.

We waited behind the rocks until noonday, without being discovered by
the enemy; so well were we concealed. We had already sent an officer,
who, carefully hiding himself by lying down on the rocks, had several
times reconnoitred the enemy. Boats were passing and repassing
continually from the privateer to the shore; and it appeared that they
went on shore full of men, and returned with only one or two; so that we
were in great hopes that we should find but few men to defend the
vessel. Mr Phillott looked at his watch, held it up to O'Brien, to prove
that he had complied exactly with the orders he had received from the
captain, and then gave the word to get the boats under weigh. The
painters were cast off by the bowmen, the guns were loaded and primed,
the men seized their oars, and in two minutes we were clear of the
rocks, and drawn up in a line within a quarter of a mile from the
harbour's mouth, and not half a mile from the privateer brig. We rowed
as quickly as possible, but we did not cheer until the enemy fired the
first gun; which he did from a quarter unexpected, as we entered the
mouth of the harbour, with our union jack trailing in the water over our
stern, for it was a dead calm. It appeared, that at the low point under
the cliffs, at each side of the little bay, they had raised a water
battery of two guns each. One of these guns, laden with grape shot, was
now fired at the boats, but the elevation was too low, and although the
water was ploughed up to within five yards of the launch, no injury was
received. We were equally fortunate in the discharge of the other three
guns; two of which we passed so quickly, that they were not aimed
sufficiently forward, so that their shot fell astern; and the other,
although the shot fell among us, did no further injury than cutting in
half two of the oars of the first cutter.

In the meantime, we had observed that the boats had shoved off from the
privateer as soon as they had perceived us, and had returned to her
laden with men; the boats had been despatched a second time, but had not
yet returned. They were now about the same distance from the privateer
as were our boats, and it was quite undecided which of us would be first
on board. O'Brien perceiving this, painted out to Mr Phillott that we
should first attack the boats, and afterwards board on the side to which
they pulled; as, in all probability, there would be an opening left in
the boarding nettings, which were tied up to the yard-arms, and
presented a formidable obstacle to our success. Mr Phillott agreed with
O'Brien: he ordered the bowmen to lay in their oars and keep the guns
pointed ready to fire at the word given, and desiring the other men to
pull their best. Every nerve, every muscle was brought into play by our
anxious and intrepid seamen. When within about twenty yards of the
vessel, and also of the boats, the orders were given to fire--the
carronade of the launch poured out round and grape so well directed,
that one of the French boats sunk immediately; and the musket balls with
which our other smaller guns were loaded, did great execution among
their men. In one minute more, with three cheers from our sailors, we
were all alongside together, English and French boats pell-mell, and a
most determined close conflict took place. The French fought
desperately, and as they were overpowered, they were reinforced by those
from the privateer, who could not look on and behold their companions
requiring their assistance, without coming to their aid. Some jumped
down into our boats from the chains, into the midst of our men; others
darted cold shot at us, either to kill us or to sink our boats; and thus
did one of the most desperate hand-to-hand conflicts take place that
ever was witnessed. But it was soon decided in our favour, for we were
the stronger party and the better armed; and when all opposition was
over, we jumped into the privateer, and found not a man left on board,
only a large dog, who flew at O'Brien's throat as he entered the port.

"Don't kill him," said O'Brien, as the sailors hastened to his
assistance; "only take away his gripe."

The sailors disengaged the dog, and O'Brien led him up to a gun, saying,
"By Jasus, my boy, you are my prisoner."

But although we had possession of the privateer, our difficulties, as it
will prove, were by no means over. We were now exposed not only to the
fire of the two batteries at the harbour-mouth which we had to pass, but
also to that of the battery at the bottom of the bay, which had fired at
the frigate. In the meantime, we were very busy in cutting the cable,
lowering the topsails, and taking the wounded men on board the
privateer, from out of the boats. All this was, however, but the work of
a few minutes. Most of the Frenchmen were killed; our own wounded
amounted to only nine seamen and Mr Chucks, the boatswain, who was shot
through the body, apparently with little chance of surviving. As Mr
Phillott observed, the captain's epaulettes had made him a mark for the
enemy, and he had fallen in his borrowed plumes.

As soon as they were all on board, and laid on the deck--for there were,
as near as I can recollect, about fourteen wounded Frenchmen as well as
our own--tow-ropes were got out forwards, the boats were manned, and we
proceeded to tow the brig out of the harbour.

It was a dead calm, and we made but little way, but our boat's crew,
flushed with victory, cheered, and rallied, and pulled with all their
strength. The enemy perceiving that the privateer was taken, and the
French boats drifting empty up the harbour, now opened their fire upon
us, and with great effect. Before we had towed abreast of the two water
batteries, we had received three-shots between wind and water from the
other batteries, and the sea was pouring fast into the vessel. I had
been attending to poor Mr Chucks, who lay on the starboard side, near
the wheel, the blood flowing from his wound, and tracing its course down
the planks of the deck, to a distance of some feet from where he lay. He
appeared very faint, and I tied my handkerchief round his body, so as to
stop the effusion of blood, and brought him some water, with which I
bathed his face, and poured some into his mouth. He opened his eyes
wide, and looked at me.

"Ah, Mr Simple," said he, faintly, "is it you? It's all over with me;
but it could not be better--could it?"

"How do you mean?" inquired I.

"Why, have I not fallen dressed like an officer and a gentleman?" said
he, referring to the captain's jacket and epaulettes. "I'd sooner die
now with this dress on, than recover to put on the boatswain's uniform.
I feel quite happy."

He pressed my hand, and then closed his eyes again, from weakness. We
were now nearly abreast of the two batteries on the points, the guns of
which had been trained so as to bear upon our boats that were towing out
the brig. The first shot went through the bottom of the launch, and sank
her; fortunately, all the men were saved; but as she was the boat that
towed next to the brig, great delay occurred in getting the others clear
of her, and taking the brig again in tow. The shot now poured in thick,
and the grape became very annoying. Still our men gave way, cheering at
every shot fired, and we had nearly passed the batteries, with trifling
loss, when we perceived that the brig was so full of water that she
could not swim many minutes longer, and that it would be impossible to
tow her alongside of the frigate. Mr Phillott, under these
circumstances, decided that it would be useless to risk more lives, and
that the wounded should be taken out of the brig, and the boats should
pull away for the ship. He desired me to get the wounded men into the
cutter, which he sent alongside, and then to follow the other boats. I
made all the haste I could, not wishing to be left behind; and as soon
as all our wounded men were in the boats, I went to Mr Chucks, to remove
him. He appeared somewhat revived, but would not allow us to remove him.

"My dear Mr Simple," said he, "it is of no use; I never can recover it,
and I prefer dying here. I entreat you not to move me. If the enemy take
possession of the brig before she sinks, I shall be buried with military
honours; if they do not, I shall at least die in the dress of a
gentleman. Hasten away as fast as you can, before you lose more men.
Here I stay--that's decided."

I expostulated with him, but at that time two boats full of men
appeared, pulling out of the harbour to the brig. The enemy had
perceived that our boats had deserted her, and were coming to take
possession. I had therefore no time to urge Mr Chucks to change his
resolution, and not wishing to force a dying man, I shook his hand and
left him. It was with some difficulty I escaped, for the boats had come
up close to the brig; they chased me a little while, but the yawl and
the cutter turning back to my assistance, they gave up the pursuit. On
the whole, this was a very well arranged and well conducted expedition.
The only man lost was Mr Chucks, for the wounds of the others were none
of them mortal. Captain Kearney was quite satisfied with our conduct,
and so was the admiral, when it was reported to him. Captain Kearney did
indeed grumble a little about his jacket, and sent for me to inquire why
I had not taken it off Mr Chucks, and brought it on board. As I did not
choose to tell him the exact truth, I replied, "That I could not disturb
a dying man, and that the jacket was so saturated with blood, that he
never could have worn it again," which was the case.

"At all events, you might have brought away my epaulettes," replied he;
"but you youngsters think of nothing but gormandizing."

I had the first watch that night, when Swinburne, the quarter-master,
came up to me, and asked me all the particulars of the affair, for he
was not in the boats. "Well," said he, "that Mr Chucks appeared to be a
very good boatswain in his way, if he could only have kept his rattan a
little quiet. He was a smart fellow, and knew his duty. We had just such
another killed in our ship, in the action off Cape St Vincent."

"What! were you in that action?" replied I.

"Yes, I was, and belonged to the _Captain_, Lord Nelson's ship."

"Well, then, suppose you tell me all about it."

"Why, Mr Simple, d'ye see, I've no objection to spin you a yarn, now and
then," replied Swinburne, "but, as Mr Chucks used to say, allow me to
observe, in the most delicate manner in the world, that I perceive that
the man who has charge of your hammock, and slings you a clean one now
and then, has very often a good glass of grog for his _yarns_, and I do
not see but that mine are as well worth a glass of grog as his."

"So they are, Swinburne, and better too, and I promise you a good stiff
one to-morrow evening."

"That will do, sir: now then, I'll tell you all about it, and more about
it too than most can, for I know how the action was brought about."

I have the log, marked the board, and then sat down abaft on the signal
chest with Swinburne, who commenced his narrative as follows:--

"You must know, Mr Simple, that when the English fleet came down the
Mediterranean, after the 'vackyation of Corsica, they did not muster
more than seventeen sail of the line, while the Spanish fleet from
Ferrol and Carthagena had joined company at Cadiz, and 'mounted to near
thirty. Sir John Jervis had the command of our fleet at the time, but as
the Dons did not seem at all inclined to come out and have a brush with
us, almost two to one, Sir John left Sir Hyde Parker, with six sail of
the line, to watch the Spanish beggars, while he went in to Lisbon with
the remainder of the fleet, to water and refit. Now, you see, Mr Simple,
Portugal was at that time what they calls neutral, that is to say, she
didn't meddle at all in the affair, being friends with both parties, and
just as willing to supply fresh beef and water to the Spaniards as to
the English, if so be the Spaniards had come out to ax for it, which
they dar'n't. The Portuguese and the English have always been the best
of friends, because we can't get no port wine anywhere else, and they
can't get nobody else to buy it of them; so the Portuguese gave up their
arsenal at Lisbon, for the use of the English, and there we kept all our
stores, under the charge of that old dare-devil, Sir Isaac Coffin. Now
it so happened, that one of the clerks in old Sir Isaac's _office_, a
Portuguese chap, had been some time before that in the office of the
Spanish ambassador; he was a very smart sort of a chap, and sarved as
interpreter, and the old commissioner put great faith in him."

"But how did you learn all this, Swinburne?"

"Why, I'll tell you, Mr Simple. I steered the yawl as coxswain, and when
admirals and captains talk in the stern-sheets, they very often forget
that the coxswain is close behind them. I only learnt half of it that
way; the rest I put together when I compared logs with the admiral's
steward, who, of course, heard a great deal now and then. The first I
heard of it was when old Sir John called out to Sir Isaac, after the
second bottle, 'I say, Sir Isaac, who killed the Spanish messenger?'
'Not I, by God!' replied Sir Isaac; 'I only left him for dead;' and then
they both laughed, and so did Nelson, who was sitting with them. Well,
Mr Simple, it was reported to Sir Isaac that his clerk was often seen
taking memorandums of the different orders given to the fleet,
particularly those as to there being no wasteful expenditure of his
Majesty's stores. Upon which, Sir Isaac goes to the admiral, and
requests that the man might be discharged. Now, old Sir John was a sly
old fox, and he answered, 'Not so, commissioner; perhaps we may catch
them in their own trap.' So the admiral sits down, and calls for pen and
ink, and he flourishes out a long letter to the commissioner, stating
that all the stores of the fleet were expended, representing as how it
would be impossible to go to sea without a supply, and wishing to know
when the commissioner expected more transports from England. He also
said that if the Spanish fleet were now to come out from Cadiz, it would
be impossible for him to protect Sir H. Parker with his six sail of the
line, who was watching the Spanish fleet, as he could not quit the port
in his present condition. To this letter the commissioner answered that,
from the last accounts, he thought that in the course of six weeks or
two months they might receive supplies from England, but that sooner
than that was impossible. These letters were put in the way of the
d----d Portuguese spy-clerk, who copied them, and was seen that evening
to go into the house of the Spanish ambassador. Sir John then sent a
message to Ferro--that's a small town on the Portuguese coast to the
southward--with a despatch to Sir Hyde Parker, desiring him to run away
to Cape St Vincent, and decoy the Spanish fleet there, in case they
should come out after him. Well, Mr Simple, so far d'ye see the train
was well laid. The next thing to do was to watch the Spanish
ambassador's house, and see if he sent away any despatches. Two days
after the letters had been taken to him by this rascal of a clerk, the
Spanish ambassador sent away two messengers--one for Cadiz and the other
for Madrid, which is the town where the King of Spain lives. The one to
Cadiz was permitted to go, but the one to Madrid was stopped by the
directions of the admiral, and this job was confided to the
commissioner, Sir Isaac, who settled it somehow or another; and this was
the reason why the admiral called out to him, 'I say, Sir Isaac, who
killed the messenger?' They brought back his despatches, by which they
found out that advice had been sent to the Spanish admiral--I forget his
name, something like _Magazine_--informing him of the supposed crippled
state of our squadron. Sir John, taking it for granted that the
Spaniards would not lose an opportunity of taking six sail of the line--
more English ships than they have ever taken in their lives--waited a
few days to give them time, and then sailed from Lisbon for Cape St
Vincent, where he joined Sir Hyde Parker, and fell in with the Spaniards
sure enough, and a pretty drubbing we gave them. Now, it's not everybody
that could tell you all that, Mr Simple."

"Well, but now for the action, Swinburne."

"Lord bless you, Mr Simple! it's now past seven bells, and I can't fight
the battle of St Vincent in half an hour; besides which, it's well worth
another glass of grog to hear all about that battle."

"Well, you shall have one, Swinburne; only don't forget to tell it to
me."

Swinburne and I then separated, and in less than an hour afterwards I
was dreaming of despatches--Sir John Jervis--Sir Isaac Coffin--and
Spanish messengers.



Chapter XXXIV

O'Brien's good advice--Captain Kearney again deals in the marvellous.


I do not remember any circumstance in my life which, at that time, lay
so heavily on my mind as the loss of poor Mr Chucks, the boatswain, who,
of course, I took it for granted I should never see again. I believe
that the chief cause was that at the time I entered the service, and
every one considered me to be the fool of the family, Mr Chucks and
O'Brien were the only two who thought of and treated me differently; and
it was their conduct which induced me to apply myself and encouraged me
to exertion. I believe that many a boy, who, if properly patronized,
would turn out well, is, by the injudicious system of browbeating and
ridicule, forced into the wrong path, and, in his despair, throws away
all self-confidence, and allows himself to be carried away by the stream
to perdition. O'Brien was not very partial to reading himself. He played
the German flute remarkably well, and had a very good voice. His chief
amusement was practising, or rather playing, which is a very different
thing; but although he did not study himself, he always made me come
into his cabin for an hour or two every day, and, after I had read,
repeat to him the contents of the book. By this method he not only
instructed me, but gained a great deal of information himself; for he
made so many remarks upon what I had read, that it was impressed upon
both our memories.

"Well, Peter," he would say, as he came into the cabin, "what have you
to tell me this morning? Sure it's you that's the schoolmaster, and not
me--for I learn from you every day."

"I have not read much, O'Brien, to-day, for I have been thinking of poor
Mr Chucks."

"Very right for you so to do, Peter. Never forget your friends in a
hurry. You'll not find too many of them as you trot along the highway of
life."

"I wonder whether he is dead?"

"Why, that's a question I cannot answer. A bullet through the chest
don't lengthen a man's days, that's certain; but this I know, that he'll
not die if he can help it, now that he's got the captain's jacket on."

"Yes; he always aspired to be a gentleman, which was absurd enough in a
boatswain."

"Not at all absurd, Peter, but very absurd of you to talk without
thinking. When did any one of his shipmates ever know Mr Chucks to do an
unhandsome or mean action? Never; and why? Because he aspired to be a
gentleman, and that feeling kept him above it. Vanity's a confounded
donkey, very apt to put his head between his legs, and chuck us over;
but pride's a fine horse, who will carry us over the ground, and enable
us to distance our fellow-travellers. Mr Chucks has pride, and that's
always commendable, even in a boatswain. How often have you read of
people rising from nothing, and becoming great men? This was from
talent, sure enough; but it was talent with pride to force it onward,
not talent with vanity to check it."

"You are very right, O'Brien; I spoke foolishly."

"Never mind, Peter, nobody heard you but me; so it's of no consequence.
Don't you dine in the cabin to-day?"

"Yes."

"So do I. The captain is in a most marvellous humour this morning. He
told me one or two yarns that quite staggered my politeness and my
respect for him on the quarter-deck. What a pity it is that a man should
have gained such a bad habit!"

"He's quite incurable, I'm afraid," replied I; "but, certainly, his fibs
do no harm; they are what they call white lies. I do not think he would
really tell a lie--that is, a lie which would be considered to disgrace
a gentleman."

"Peter, _all_ lies disgrace a gentleman, white or black, although I
grant there is a difference. To say the least of it, it is a dangerous
habit; for white lies are but the gentlemen ushers to black ones. I know
but of one point on which a lie is excusable, and that is, when you wish
to deceive the enemy. Then your duty to your country warrants your lying
till you're black in the face; and, for the very reason that it goes
against your grain, it becomes, as it were, a sort of virtue."

"What was the difference between the marine officer and Mr Phillott that
occurred this morning?"

"Nothing at all in itself. The marine officer is a bit of a gaby, and
takes offence where none is meant. Mr Phillott has a foul tongue; but he
has a good heart."

"What a pity it is!"

"It is a pity, for he's a smart officer; but the fact is, Peter, that
junior officers are too apt to copy their superiors, and that makes it
very important that a young gentleman should sail with a captain who is
a gentleman. Now, Phillott served the best of his time with Captain
Ballover, who is notorious in the service for foul and abusive language.
What is the consequence? That Phillott and many others who have served
under him have learnt his bad habit."

"I should think, O'Brien, that the very circumstance of having had your
feelings so often wounded by such language when you were a junior
officer, would make you doubly careful not to make use of it to others,
when you had advanced in the service."

"Peter, that's just the _first_ feeling, which wears away after a time;
but at last, your own sense of indignation becomes blunted, and becoming
indifferent to it, you forget also that you wound the feelings of
others, and carry the habit with you, to the great injury and disgrace
of the service. But it's time to dress for dinner, so you'd better make
yourself scarce, Peter, while I tidivate myself off a little, according
to the rules and regulations of His Majesty's service, when you are
asked to dine with the skipper."

We met at the captain's table, where we found, as usual, a great display
of plate, but very little else, except the ship's allowance. We
certainly had now been cruising some time, and there was some excuse for
it; but still, few captains would have been so unprovided. "I'm afraid,
gentlemen, you will not have a very grand dinner," observed the captain,
as the steward removed the plated covers of the dishes; "but when on
service we must rough it out how we can. Mr O'Brien, pea-soup? I
recollect faring harder than this through one cruise in a flush vessel.
We were thirteen weeks up to our knees in water, and living the whole
time upon raw pork--not being able to light a fire during the cruise."

"Pray, Captain Kearney, may I ask where this happened?"

"To be sure. It was off Bermudas: we cruised for seven weeks before we
could find the Islands, and began verily to think that the Bermudas were
themselves on a cruise."

"I presume, sir, you were not so sorry to have a fire to cook your
provisions when you came to an anchor?" said O'Brien.

"I beg your pardon," replied Captain Kearney; "we had become so
accustomed to raw provisions and wet feet, that we could not eat our
meals cooked, or help dipping our legs over the side, for a long while
afterwards. I saw one of the boat-keepers astern catch a large
barracouta and eat it alive--indeed, if I had not given the strictest
orders, and flogged half-a-dozen of them, I doubt whether they would not
have eaten their victuals raw to this day. The force of habit is
tremendous."

"It is, indeed," observed Mr Phillott, drily, and winking to us,
referring to the captain's incredible stories.

"It is, indeed," repeated O'Brien; "we see the ditch in our neighbour's
eye, and cannot observe the log of wood in our own;" and O'Brien winked
at me, referring to Phillott's habit of bad language.

"I once knew a married man," observed the captain, "who had been always
accustomed to go to sleep with his hand upon his wife's head, and would
not allow her to wear a nightcap in consequence. Well, she caught cold
and died, and he never could sleep at night until he took a
clothes-brush to bed with him, and laid his hand upon that, which
answered the purpose--such was the force of habit."

"I once saw a dead body galvanized," observed Mr Phillott: "it was the
body of a man who had taken a great deal of snuff during his lifetime,
and as soon as the battery was applied to his spine, the body very
gently raised its arm, and put its fingers to its nose, as if it was
taking a pinch."

"You saw that yourself, Mr Phillott?" observed the captain, looking at
the first lieutenant earnestly in the face.

"Yes, sir," replied Mr Phillott, coolly.

"Have you told that story often?"

"Very often, sir."

"Because I know that some people, by constantly telling a story, at last
believe it to be true; not that I refer to you, Mr Phillott; but still,
I should recommend you not to tell that story where you are not well
known, or people may doubt your credibility."

"I make it a rule to believe everything myself," observed Mr Phillott,
"out of politeness, and I expect the same courtesy from others."

"Then, upon my soul! when you tell that story, you trespass very much
upon our good manners. Talking of courtesy, you must meet a friend of
mine, who has been a courtier all his life; he cannot help bowing, I
have seen him bow to his horse and thank him after he had dismounted--
beg pardon of a puppy for treading on his tail; and one day, when he
fell over a scraper, he took his hat off, and made it a thousand
apologies for his inattention."

"Force of habit again," said O'Brien.

"Exactly so. Mr Simple, will you take a slice of this pork? and perhaps
you'll do me the honour to take a glass of wine? Lord Privilege would
not much admire our dinner to-day, would he, Mr Simple?"

"As a variety he might, sir, but not for a continuance."

"Very truly said. Variety is charming. The negroes here get so tired of
salt fish and occra broth, that they eat dirt by way of a relish. Mr
O'Brien, how remarkably well you played that sonata of Pleydel's this
morning."

"I am happy that I did not annoy you, Captain Kearney, at all events,"
replied O'Brien.

"On the contrary, I am very partial to good music. My mother was a great
performer. I recollect once, she was performing a piece on the piano in
which she had to imitate a _thunderstorm_. So admirably did she hit it
off, that when we went to tea all the cream was _turned sour_, as well
as three casks of _beer_ in the cellar."

At this assertion Mr Phillott could contain himself no longer; he burst
out into a loud laugh, and having a glass of wine to his lips, spattered
it all over the table, and over me, who unfortunately was opposite to
him.

"I really beg pardon, Captain Kearney, but the idea of such an expensive
talent was too amusing. Will you permit me to ask you a question? As
there could not have been thunder without lightning, were any people
killed at the same time by the electric fluid of the piano?"

"No sir," replied Captain Kearney, very angrily; "but her performance
_electrified_ us, which was something like it. Perhaps, Mr Phillott, as
you lost your last glass of wine, you will allow me to take another with
you?"

"With great pleasure," replied the first lieutenant, who perceived that
he had gone far enough.

"Well, gentlemen," said the captain, "we shall soon be in the land of
plenty. I shall cruise a fortnight more, and then join the admiral at
Jamaica. We must make out our despatch relative to the cutting out of
the _Sylvia_ (that was the name of the privateer brig), and I am happy
to say that I shall feel it my duty to make honourable mention of all
the party present. Steward, coffee."

The first lieutenant, O'Brien, and I, bowed to this flattering avowal on
the part of the captain; as for me, I felt delighted. The idea of my
name being mentioned in the "Gazette," and the pleasure that it would
give to my father and mother, mantled the blood in my cheeks till I was
as red as a turkey-cock.

"_Cousin_ Simple," said the captain, good-naturedly, "you have no
occasion to blush; your conduct deserves it; and you are indebted to Mr
Phillott for having made me acquainted with your gallantry."

Coffee was soon over, and I was glad to leave the cabin, and be alone,
that I might compose my perturbed mind. I felt too happy. I did not,
however, say a word to my messmates, as it might have created feelings
of envy or ill-will. O'Brien gave me a caution not to do so, when I met
him afterwards, so that I was very glad that I had been so circumspect.



Chapter XXXV

Swinburne continues his narrative of the battle off Cape St Vincent.


The second night after this, we had the middle watch, and I claimed
Swinburne's promise that he would spin his yarn, relative to the battle
of St Vincent. "Well, Mr Simple, so I will; but I require a little
priming, or I shall never go off."

"Will you have your glass of grog before or after?"

"Before, by all means, if you please, sir. Run down and get it, and I'll
heave the log for you in the meantime, when we shall have a good hour
without interruption, for the sea-breeze will be steady, and we are
under easy sail." I brought up a stiff glass of grog, which Swinburne
tossed off, and as he finished it, sighed deeply as if in sorrow that
there was no more. Having stowed away the tumbler in one of the capstern
holes for the present, we sat down upon a coil of ropes under the
weather bulwarks, and Swinburne, replacing his quid of tobacco,
commenced as follows--

"Well, Mr Simple, as I told you before, old Jervis started with all his
fleet for Cape St Vincent. We lost one of our fleet--and a three-decker
too--the _St George_; she took the ground, and was obliged to go back to
Lisbon; but we soon afterwards were joined by five sail of the line,
sent out from England, so that we mustered fifteen sail in all. We had
like to lose another of our mess, for d'ye see, the old _Culloden_ and
_Colossus_ fell foul of each other, and the _Culloden_ had the worst on
it; but Troubridge, who commanded her, was not a man to shy his work,
and ax to go in to refit, when there was a chance of meeting the enemy--
so he patched her up somehow or another, and reported himself ready for
action the very next day. Ready for action he always was, that's sure
enough, but whether his ship was in a fit state to go into action is
quite another thing. But as the sailors used to say in joking, he was a
_true bridge_, and you might trust to him; which meant as much as to
say, that he knew how to take his ship into action, and how to fight her
when he was fairly in it. I think it was the next day that Cockburn
joined us in the _Minerve_, and he brought Nelson along with him with
the intelligence that the Dons had chased him, and that the whole
Spanish fleet was out in pursuit of us. Well, Mr Simple, you may guess
we were not a little happy in the _Captain_, when Nelson joined us, as
we knew that if he fell in with the Spaniards our ship would cut a
figure--and so she did sure enough. That was on the morning of the 13th,
and old Jervis made the signal to prepare for action, and keep close
order, which means, to have your flying jib-boom in at the starn windows
of the ship ahead of you; and we did keep close order, for a man might
have walked right round from one ship to the other, either lee or
weather line of the fleet. I sha'n't forget that night, Mr Simple, as
long as I live and breathe. Every now and then we heard the signal guns
of the Spanish fleet booming at a distance to windward of us, and you
may guess how our hearts leaped at the sound, and how we watched with
all our ears for the next gun that was fired, trying to make out their
bearings and distance, as we assembled in little knots upon the booms
and weather-gangway. It was my middle watch, and I was signalman at the
time, so of course I had no time to take a caulk if I was inclined. When
my watch was over I could not go down to my hammock, so I kept the
morning watch too, as did most of the men on board: as for Nelson, he
walked the deck the whole night, quite in a fever. At daylight it was
thick and hazy weather, and we could not make them out; but, about five
bells, the old _Culloden_, who, if she had broke her nose, had not lost
the use of her eyes, made the signal for a part of the Spanish fleet in
sight. Old Jervis repeated the signal to prepare for action, but he
might have saved the wear and tear of the bunting, for we were all
ready, bulk-heads down, screens up, guns shotted, tackles rove, yards
slung, powder filled, shot on deck, and fire out--and what's more, Mr
Simple, I'll be d----d if we weren't all willing too. About six bells
in the forenoon, the fog and haze all cleared away at once, just like
the raising of the foresail that they lower down at the Portsmouth
theatre, and discovered the whole of the Spanish fleet. I counted them
all. 'How many, Swinburne?' cries Nelson. 'Twenty-six sail, sir,'
answered I. Nelson walked the quarter-deck backwards and forwards,
rubbing his hands, and laughing to himself, and then he called for his
glass, and went to the gangway with Captain Miller. 'Swinburne, keep a
good look upon the admiral,' says he. 'Ay, ay, sir,' says I. Now you
see, Mr Simple, twenty-six sail against fifteen were great odds upon
paper; but we didn't think so, because we know'd the difference between
the two fleets. There was our fifteen sail of the line, all in apple-pie
order, packed up as close as dominoes, and every man on board of them
longing to come to the scratch; while there was their twenty-six, all
_somehow nohow_, two lines here and _no lines_ there, with a great gap
of water in the middle of them. For this gap between their ships we all
steered, with all the sail we could carry because, d'ye see, Mr Simple,
by getting them on both sides of us, we had the advantage of fighting
both broadsides, which is just as easy as fighting one, and makes
shorter work of it. Just as it struck seven bells, Troubridge opened the
ball _setting_ to half a dozen of the Spaniards, and making them _reel_
'Tom Collins' whether or no. Bang--bang--bang, bang! Oh, Mr Simple, it's
a beautiful sight to see the first guns fired that are to bring on a
general action. He's the luckiest dog, that Troubridge,' said Nelson,
stamping with impatience. Our ships were soon hard at it, hammer and
tongs (my eyes, how they did pelt it in!), and old Sir John, in the
_Victory_, smashed the cabin windows of the Spanish admiral, with such a
hell of a raking broadside, that the fellow bore up as if the devil
kicked him. Lord a mercy, you might have drove a Portsmouth waggon into
his starn--the broadside of the _Victory_ had made room enough. However,
they were soon all smothered up in smoke, and we could not make out how
things were going on--but we made a pretty good guess. Well, Mr Simple,
as they say at the play, that was act the first, scene the first; and
now we had to make our appearance, and I'll leave you to judge, after
I've told my tale, whether the old _Captain_ wasn't principal performer,
and _top sawyer_ over them all. But stop a moment, I'll just look at the
binnacle, for that young topman's nodding at the wheel.--I say, Mr
Smith, are you shutting your eyes to keep them warm, and letting the
ship run half a point out of her course? Take care I don't send for
another helmsman, that's all, and give the reason why. You'll make a wry
face upon six-water grog to-morrow, at seven bells. D----n your eyes,
keep them open--can't you?"

Swinburne, after this genteel admonition to the man at the wheel,
reseated himself and continued his narrative.

"All this while, Mr Simple, we in the _Captain_ had not fired a gun; but
were ranging up as fast as we could to where the enemy lay in a heap.
There were plenty to pick and choose from; and Nelson looked out sharp
for a big one, as little boys do when they have to choose an apple; and,
by the piper that played before Moses! it was a big one that he ordered
the master to put him alongside of. She was a four-decker, called the
_Santissima Trinidad_. We had to pass some whoppers, which would have
satisfied any reasonable man; for there was the _San Josef_, and
_Salvador del Mondo_ and _San Nicolas_: but nothing would suit Nelson
but this four-decked ship; so we crossed the hawse of about six of them,
and as soon as we were abreast of her, and at the word 'Fire!' every gun
went off at once, slap into her, and the old _Captain_ reeled at the
discharge, as if she was drunk. I wish you'd only seen how we pitched it
into this _Holy Trinity_; she was _holy_ enough before we had done with
her, riddled like a sieve, several of her ports knocked into one, and
every scupper of her running blood and water. Not but what she stood to
it as bold as brass, and gave us nearly gun for gun, and made a very
pretty general average in our ship's company. Many of the old captains
went to kingdom-come in that business, and many more were obliged to
bear up for Greenwich Hospital.

"'Fire away, my lads--steady aim!' cries Nelson. 'Jump down there, Mr
Thomas; pass the word to reduce the cartridges, the shot go clean
through her. Double shot the guns there, fore and aft.'

"So we were at it for about half an hour, when our guns became so hot
from quick firing, that they bounced up to the beams overhead, tearing
away their ringbolts, and snapping their breechings like rope-yarns. By
this time we were almost as much unrigged as if we had been two days
paying off in Portsmouth harbour. The four-decker forged ahead, and
Troubridge, in the jolly old _Culloden_, came between us and two other
Spanish ships, who were playing into us. She was as fresh as a daisy,
and gave them a dose which quite astonished them. They shook their ears,
and fell astern, when the _Blenheim_ laid hold of them, and mauled them
so that they went astern again. But it was out of the frying-pan into,
the fire: for the _Orion, Prince George_, and one or two others, were
coming up, and knocked the very guts out of them. I'll be d----d if
they forget the 14th of April, and sarve them right, too. Wasn't a
four-decker enough for any two-decker, without any more coming on us?
and couldn't the beggars have matched themselves like gentlemen? Well,
Mr Simple, this gave us a minute or two to fetch, our breath, let the
guns cool, and repair damages, and swab the blood from the decks; but we
lost our four-decker, for we could not get near her again."

"What odd names the Spaniards give to their ships, Swinburne?"

"Why yes, they do; it would almost appear wicked to belabour the _Holy
Trinity_ as we did. But why they should call a four-decked ship the
_Holy Trinity_, seeing as how there's only three of them, Father, Son,
and Holy Ghost, I can't tell. Bill Saunders said that the fourth deck
was for the Pope, who was as great a personage as the others; but I
can't understand how that can be. Well, Mr Simple, as I was head
signalman, I was perched on the poop, and didn't serve at a gun. I had
to report all I could see, which was not much, the smoke was so thick;
but now and then I could get a peep, as it were through the holes in the
blanket. Of course I was obliged to keep my eye as much as possible upon
the admiral, not to make out his signals, for Commodore Nelson wouldn't
thank me for that; I knew he hated a signal when in action, so I never
took no notice of the bunting, but just watched to see what he was
about. So while we are repairing damages, I'll just tell you what I saw
of the rest of the fleet. As soon as old Jervis had done for the Spanish
admiral, he hauled his wind on the larboard tack, and followed by four
or five other ships, weathered the Spanish line, and joined Collingwood
in the _Excellent_. Then they all dashed through the line; the
_Excellent_ was the leading ship, and she first took the shine out of
the _Salvador del Mondo_, and then left her to be picked up by the other
ships, while she attacked a two-decker, who hauled down her colours--I
forget her name just now. As soon as the _Victory_ ran alongside of the
_Salvador del Mondo_, down went her colours, and _excellent_ reasons had
she for striking her flag. And now, Mr Simple. The old _Captain_ comes
into play again. Having parted company with the four-decker, we had
recommenced action with the _San Nicolas_, a Spanish eighty, and while
we were hard at it, old Collingwood comes up in the _Excellent_. The
_San Nicolas_, knowing that the _Excellent's_ broadside would send her
to old Nick, put her helm up to avoid being raked: in so doing, she fell
foul of the _San Josef_, a Spanish three-decker, and we being all cut to
pieces and unmanageable--all of us indeed reeling about like drunken
men--Nelson ordered his helm a-starboard, and in a jiffy there we were,
all three hugging each other, running in one another's guns, smashing
our chain-plates, and poking our yard-arms through each other's canvas.

"'All hands to board!' roared Nelson, leaping on the hammocks and waving
his sword.

"'Hurrah! hurrah!' echoed through the decks, and up flew the men, like
as many angry bees out of a bee-hive. In a moment pikes, tomahawks,
cutlasses, and pistols were seized (for it was quite unexpected, Mr
Simple), and our men poured into the eighty-gun ship, and in two minutes
the decks were cleared and all the Dons pitched below. I joined the
boarders and was on the main deck when Captain Miller came down, and
cried out 'On deck again immediately.' Up we went, and what do you think
it was for, Mr Simple? Why to board a second time; for Nelson having
taken the two-decker, swore that he'd have the three-decker as well. So
away we went again, clambering up her lofty sides how we could, and
dropping down on her decks like hailstones. We all made for the
quarter-deck, beat down every Spanish beggar that showed fight, and in
five minutes more we had hauled down the colours of two of the finest
ships in the Spanish navy. If that wasn't taking the shine out of the
Dons, I should like to know what is. And didn't the old captains cheer
and shake hands, as Commodore Nelson stood on the deck of the _San
Josef_, and received the swords of the Spanish officers! There was
enough of them to go right round the capstern, and plenty to spare. Now,
Mr Simple, what do you think of that for a spree?"

"Why, Swinburne, I can only say that I wish I had been there."

"So did every man in the fleet, Mr Simple, I can tell you."

"But what became of the _Santissima Trinidad_?

"Upon my word, she behaved one _deck_ better than all the others. She
held out against four of our ships for a long while, and then hauled
down her colours, and no disgrace to her, considering what a precious
hammering she had taken first. But the lee division of the Spanish
weather fleet, if I may so call it, consisting of eleven sail of the
line, came up to her assistance, and surrounded her, so that they got
her off. Our ships were too much cut up to commence a new action, and
the admiral made the signal to secure the prizes. The Spanish fleet then
did what they should have done before--got into line; and we lost no
time in doing the same. But we both had had fighting enough."

"But do you think, Swinburne, that the Spaniards fought well?"

"They'd have fought better, if they'd only have known how. There's no
want of courage in the Dons, Mr Simple, but they did not support each
other. Only observe how Troubridge supported us. By God, Mr Simple, he
was the _real fellow_, and Nelson knew it well. He was Nelson's
right-hand man; but you know, there wasn't room for _two_ Nelsons. Their
ships engaged held out well, it must be acknowledged, but why weren't
they all in their proper berths? Had they kept close order of sailing,
and had all fought as well as those who were captured, it would not have
been a very easy matter for fifteen ships to gain a victory over
twenty-six. That's long odds, even when backed with British seamen."

"Well, how did you separate?"

"Why, the next morning the Spaniards had the weathergage, so they had
the option whether to fight or not. At one time they had half a mind,
for they bore down to us; upon which we hauled our wind to show them we
were all ready to meet them, and then they thought better of it, and
rounded-to again. So as they wouldn't fight, and we didn't wish it, we
parted company in the night; and two days afterwards we anchored, with
our four prizes, in Lagos Bay. So now you have the whole of it, Mr
Simple, and I've talked till I'm quite hoarse. You haven't by chance
another drop of the stuff left to clear my throat? It would be quite a
charity."

"I think I have, Swinburne; and as you deserve it, I will go and fetch
it."



Chapter XXXVI

A letter from Father M'Grath, who diplomatizes--When priest meets
priest, then comes the tug of war--Father O'Toole not to be made a tool
of.


We continued our cruise for a fortnight, and then made sail for Jamaica,
where we found the admiral at anchor at Port Royal, but our signal was
made to keep under weigh, and Captain Kearney, having paid his respects
to the admiral, received orders to carry despatches to Halifax. Water
and provisions were sent on board by the boats of the admiral's ships,
and, to our great disappointment, as the evening closed in, we were
again standing out to sea, instead of, as we had anticipated, enjoying
ourselves on shore; but the fact was, that orders had arrived from
England to send a frigate immediately up to the admiral at Halifax, to
be at his disposal.

I had, however, the satisfaction to know that Captain Kearney had been
true to his word in making mention of my name in the despatch, for the
clerk showed me a copy of it. Nothing occurred worth mentioning during
our passage, except that Captain Kearney was very unwell nearly the
whole of the time, and seldom quitted his cabin. It was in October that
we anchored in Halifax harbour, and the Admiralty, expecting our arrival
there, had forwarded our letters. There were none for me, but there was
one for O'Brien, from Father M'Grath, the contents of which were as
follows:--

"MY DEAR SON,--And a good son you are, and that's the truth on it, or
devil a bit should you be a son of mine. You've made your family quite
contented and peaceable, and they never fight for the _praties_ now--
good reason why they shouldn't, seeing that there's a plenty for all of
them, and the pig craturs into the bargain. Your father and your mother,
and your brother, and your three sisters, send their duty to you, and
their blessings too--and you may add my blessing, Terence, which is
worth them all; for won't I get you out of purgatory in the twinkling of
a bed-post? Make yourself quite aisy on that score, and lave it all to
me; only just say a _pater_ now and then, that when St Peter lets you
in, he mayn't throw it in your teeth, that you've saved your soul by
contract, which is the only way by which emperors and kings ever get to
heaven. Your letter from Plymouth came safe to hand: Barney, the
post-boy, having dropped it under foot, close to our door, the big pig
took it into his mouth and ran away with it; but I caught sight of him,
and _speaking_ to him, he let it go, knowing (the 'cute cratur!) that I
could read it better than him. As soon as I had digested the contents,
which it was lucky the pig did not instead of me, I just took my meal
and my big stick, and then set off for Ballycleuch.

"Now you know, Terence, if you haven't forgot--and if you have, I'll
just remind you--that there's a flaunty sort of young woman at the
poteen shop there, who calls herself Mrs O'Rourke, wife to a Corporal
O'Rourke, who was kilt or died one day, I don't know which, but that's
not of much consequence. The devil a bit do I think the priest ever gave
the marriage-blessing to that same; although she swears that she was
married on the rock of Gibraltar--it may be a strong rock fore I know,
but it's not the rock of salvation like the seven sacraments, of which
marriage is one. _Benedicite_! Mrs O'Rourke is a little too apt to fleer
and jeer at the priests; and if it were not that she softens down her
pertinent remarks with a glass or two of the real poteen, which proves
some respect for the church, I'd excommunicate her body and soul, and
every body and every soul that put their lips to the cratur at her door.
But she must leave that off, as I tell her, when she gets old and ugly,
for then all the whisky in the world sha'n't save her. But she's a fine
woman now, and it goes agin my conscience to help the devil to a fine
woman. Now this Mrs O'Rourke knows everybody and everything that's going
on in the country about; and she has a tongue which has never had a
holiday since it was let loose.

"'Good morning to ye, Mrs O'Rourke,' says I.

"'An' the top of the morning to you, Father M'Grath,' says she, with a
smile; 'what brings you here? Is it a journey that you're taking to buy
the true wood of the cross? or is it a purty girl that you wish to
confess, Father M'Grath? or is it only that you're come for a drop of
poteen, and a little bit of chat with Mrs O'Rourke?'

"'Sure it's I who'd be glad to find the same true wood of the cross, Mrs
O'Rourke, but it's not grown, I suspect, at your town of Ballycleuch;
and it's no objection I'd have to confess a purty girl like yourself,
Mrs O'Rourke, who'll only tell me half her sins, and give me no trouble;
but it's the truth, that I'm here for nothing else but to have a bit of
chat with yourself, dainty dear, and taste your poteen, just by way of
keeping my mouth nate and clane.'

"So Mrs O'Rourke poured out the real stuff, which I drank to her health;
and then says I, putting down the bit of a glass, 'So you've a stranger
come, I find, in your parts, Mrs O'Rourke.'

"'I've heard the same,' replied she. So you observe, Terence, I came to
the fact all at once by a guess.

"'I am tould,' says I, 'that he's a Scotchman, and spakes what nobody
can understand.'

"'Devil a bit,' says she, 'he's an Englishman, and speaks plain enough.'

"'But what can a man mane, to come here and sit down all alone?' says I.

"'All alone, Father M'Grath!' replied she; 'is a man all alone when he's
got his wife and childer, and more coming, with the blessing of God?'

"'But those boys are not his own childer, I believe,' says I.

"'There again you're all in a mistake, Father M'Grath,' rejoins she.
'The childer are all his own, and all girls to boot. It appears that
it's just as well that you come down, now and then, for information, to
our town of Ballycleuch.'

"'Very true, Mrs O'Rourke,' says I; 'and who is it that knows everything
so well as yourself?' You observe, Terence, that I just said everything
contrary and _arce versa_, as they call it, to the contents of your
letter; for always recollect, my son, that if you would worm a secret
out of a woman, you'll do more by contradiction than you ever will by
coaxing--so I went on: 'Anyhow, I think it's a burning shame, Mrs
O'Rourke, for a gentleman to bring over with him here from England a
parcel of lazy English servants, when there's so many nice boys and
girls here to attind upon them.'

"'Now there you're all wrong again, Father M'Grath,' says she. 'Devil a
soul has he brought from the other country, but has hired them all here.
Arn't there Ella Flanagan for one maid, and Terence Driscol for a
footman? and it's well that he looks in his new uniform, when he comes
down for the newspapers; and arn't Moggy Cala there to cook the dinner,
and pretty Mary Sullivan for a nurse for the babby as soon as it comes
into the world?'

"'Is it Mary Sullivan you mane?' says I; 'she that was married about
three months back, and is so quick in child-getting, that she's all but
ready to fall to pieces in this same time?'

"'It's exactly she,' says Mrs O'Rourke; 'and do you know the reason?'

"'Devil a bit,' says I; 'how should I?'

"'Then it's just that she may send her own child away, and give her milk
to the English babby that's coming; because the lady is too much of a
lady to have a child hanging to her breast.'

"'But suppose Mary Sullivan's child ar'n't born till afterwards, how
then?" says I. 'Speak, Mrs O'Rourke, for you're a sensible woman.'

"'How then?' says she. 'Och! that's all arranged; for Mary says that
she'll be in bed a week before the lady, so that's all right, you'll
perceive, Father M'Grath.'

"'But don't you perceive, sensible woman as you are, that a young woman,
who is so much out of her reckoning as to have a child three months
after her marriage, may make a little mistake in her lying-in
arithmetic, Mrs O'Rourke.'

"'Never fear, Father M'Grath, Mary Sullivan will keep her word; and
sooner than disappoint the lady, and lose her place, she'll just tumble
down-stairs, and won't that put her to bed fast enough?'

"'Well, that's what I call a faithful good servant that earns her
wages,' says I; 'so now I'll just take another glass, Mrs O'Rourke, and
thank you too. Sure you're the woman that knows everything, and a mighty
pretty woman into the bargain.'

"'Let me alone now, Father M'Grath, and don't be pinching me that way,
anyhow.'

"'It was only a big flea that I perceived hopping on your gown, my
darling, devil anything else.'

"'Many thanks to you, father, for that same; but the next time you'd
kill my fleas, just wait until they're in a _more dacent_ situation.'

"'Fleas are fleas, Mrs O'Rourke, and we must catch 'em when we can, and
how we can, and as we can, so no offence. A good night's rest to you,
Mrs O'Rourke--when do you mean to confess?'

"'I've an idea that I've too many fleas about me to confess to you just
now, Father M'Grath, and that's the truth on it. So a pleasant walk back
to you.'

"So you'll perceive, my son, that having got all the information from
Mrs O'Rourke, it's back I went to Ballyhinch, till I heard it whispered
that there were doings down at the old house at Ballycleuch. Off I set,
and went to the house itself, as priests always ought to be welcomed at
births, and marriages, and deaths, being, as you know, of great use on
such occasions--when who should open the door but Father O'Toole, the
biggest rapparee of a priest in the whole of Ireland. Didn't he steal a
horse, and only save his neck by benefit of clergy? and did he ever give
absolution to a young woman without making her sin over again? 'What may
be your pleasure here, Father M'Grath?' says he, holding the door with
his hand.

"'Only just to call and hear what's going on.'

"'For the matter of that,' says he, 'I'll just tell you that we're all
going on very well; but ar'n't you ashamed of yourself, Father M'Grath,
to come here to interfere with my flock, knowing that I confess the
house altogether?'

"'That's as may be,' says I; 'but I only wanted to know what the lady
had brought into the world.'

"'It's a _child_' says he.

"'Indeed!' says I; 'many thanks for the information; and pray what is it
that Mary Sullivan has brought into the world?'

"'That's a _child_ too,' says he; 'and now that you know all about it,
good evening to you, Father M'Grath.' And the ugly brute slammed the
door right in my face.

"'Who stole a horse?' cries I; but he didn't hear me--more's the pity.

"So you'll perceive, my dear boy, that I have found out something, at
all events, but not so much as I intended; for I'll prove to Father
O'Toole that he's no match for Father M'Grath. But what I find out must
be reserved for another letter, seeing that it's not possible to tell it
to you in this same. Praties look well, but somehow or another,
_clothes_ don't grow upon trees in ould Ireland; and one of your
half-quarterly bills, or a little prize-money, if it found its way here,
would add not a little to the respectability of the family appearance.
Even my cassock is becoming too _holy_ for a parish priest; not that I
care about it so much, only Father O'Toole, the baste! had on a bran new
one--not that I believe that he ever came honestly by it, as I have by
mine--but, get it how you may, a new gown always looks better than an
old one, that's certain. So no more at present from your loving friend
and confessor,

"URTAGH M'GRATH."

"Now, you'll observe, Peter," said O'Brien, after I had read the letter,
"that, as I supposed, your uncle meant mischief when he went over to
Ireland. Whether the children are both boys or both girls, or your
uncle's is a boy, and the other is a girl, there is no knowing at
present. If an exchange was required, it's made, that's certain; but I
will write again to Father M'Grath, and insist upon his finding out the
truth, if possible. Have you any letter from your father?"

"None, I am sorry to say. I wish I had, for he would not have failed to
speak on the subject."

"Well, never mind, it's no use dreaming over the matter; we must do our
best when we get to England ourselves, and in the meantime trust to
Father M'Grath. I'll go and write to him while my mind's full of it."
O'Brien wrote his letter, and the subject was not started again.



Chapter XXXVII

Captain Kearney's illness--He makes his will, and devises sundry
châteaux en Espagne for the benefit of those concerned--The legacy duty
in this instance not ruinous--He signs, seals, and dies.


The captain, as was his custom, went on shore, and took up his quarters
at a friend's house; that is to say, the house of an acquaintance, or
any polite gentleman who would ask him to take a dinner and a bed. This
was quite sufficient for Captain Kearney, who would fill his
portmanteau, and take up his quarters, without thinking of leaving them
until the ship sailed, or some more advantageous invitation was given.
This conduct in England would have very much trespassed on our ideas of
hospitality; but in our foreign settlements and colonies, where the
society is confined and novelty is desirable, a person who could amuse
like Captain Kearney was generally welcome, let him stay as long as he
pleased. All sailors agree in asserting that Halifax is one of the most
delightful ports in which a ship can anchor. Everybody is hospitable,
cheerful, and willing to amuse and be amused. It is, therefore, a very
bad place to send a ship to if you wish her to refit in a hurry; unless,
indeed, the admiral is there to watch over your daily progress, and a
sharp commissioner to expedite your motions in the dockyard. The admiral
was there when we arrived, and we should not have lain there long, had
not the health of Captain Kearney, by the time that we were ready for
sea, been so seriously affected, that the doctor was of opinion that he
could not sail. Another frigate was sent to our intended
cruising-ground, and we lay idle in port. But we consoled ourselves: if
we did not make prize-money, at all events, we were very happy, and the
major part of the officers very much in love.

We had remained in Halifax harbour about three weeks, when a very great
change for the worse took place in Captain Kearney's disease. Disease,
indeed, it could hardly be called. He had been long suffering from the
insidious attacks of a hot climate, and though repeatedly advised to
invalid, he never would consent. His constitution appeared now to be
breaking up. In a few days he was so ill, that, at the request of the
naval surgeons, he consented to be removed to the hospital, where he
could command more comforts than in any private house. He had not been
at the hospital more than two days, when he sent for me, and stated his
wish that I should remain with him. "You know, Peter, that you are a
cousin of mine, and one likes to have one's relations near one when we
are sick, so bring your traps on shore. The doctor has promised me a
nice little room for yourself, and you shall come and sit with me all
day." I certainly had no objection to remain with him, because I
considered it my duty so to do, and I must say that there was no
occasion for me to make any effort to entertain him, as he always
entertained me; but I could not help seriously reflecting, and feeling
much shocked, at a man, lying in so dangerous a state--for the doctors
had pronounced his recovery to be impossible--still continuing a system
of falsehood during the whole day, without intermission. But it really
appeared in him to be innate; and, as Swinburne said, "if he told truth,
it was entirely by mistake."

"Peter," said he, one day, "there's a great draught. Shut the door, and
put on some more coals."

"The fire does not draw well, sir," replied I, "without the door is
open."

"It's astonishing how little people understand the nature of these
things. When I built my house, called Walcot Abbey, there was not a
chimney would draw; I sent for the architect and abused him, but he
could not manage it: I was obliged to do it myself."

"Did you manage it, sir?"

"Manage it--I think I did. The first time I lighted the fire, I opened
the door, and the draught was so great, that my little boy, William, who
was standing in the current of air, would have gone right up the
chimney, if I had not caught him by the petticoats; as it was, his frock
was on fire."

"Why sir, it must have been as bad as a hurricane!"

"No, no, not quite so bad--but it showed what a little knowledge of
philosophical arrangement could effect. We have no hurricanes in
England, Peter; but I have seen a very pretty whirlwind when I was at
Walcot Abbey."

"Indeed, sir."

"Yes; it cut four square haystacks quite round, and I lost twenty tons
of hay; it twisted the iron lamp-post at the entrance just as a porpoise
twists a harpoon, and took up a sow and her litter of pigs, that were
about a hundred yards from the back of the house, and landed them safe
over the house to the front, with the exception of the old sow putting
her shoulder out."

"Indeed, sir."

"Yes, but what was strange, there were a great many rats in the hayrick,
and up they went with the hay. Now, Peter, by the laws of gravitation,
they naturally come down before the hay, and I was walking with my
greyhound, or rather terrier, and after one coming down close to her,
which she killed, it was quite ridiculous to witness her looking up in
the air, and watching for the others."

"A greyhound did you say, sir, or a terrier?"

"Both, Peter; the fact is, she had been a greyhound, but breaking her
foreleg against a stump, when coursing, I had the other three amputated
as well, and then she made a capital terrier. She was a great favourite
of mine."

"Well," observed I, "I have read something like that in Baron
Munchausen."

"Mr Simple," said the captain, turning on his elbow and looking me
severely in the face, "what do you mean to imply?"

"Oh, nothing, sir, but I have read a story of that kind."

"Most probably; the great art of invention is to found it upon facts.
There are some people who out of a mole-hill will make a mountain; and
facts and fiction become so blended nowadays, that even truth becomes a
matter of doubt."

"Very true, sir," replied I; and as he did not speak for some minutes, I
ventured to bring my Bible to his bedside, as if I was reading it to
myself.

"What are you reading, Peter?" said he.

"Only a chapter in the Bible, sir," said I. "Would you like that I
should read aloud?"

"Yes, I'm very fond of the Bible--it's the book of _truth_. Peter, read
me about Jacob, and his weathering Esau with a mess of pottage, and
obtaining his father's blessing." I could not help thinking it singular
that he should select a portion in which, for divine reasons, a lie was
crowned with success and reward.

When I had finished it, he asked me to read something more; I turned
over to the Acts of the Apostles, and commenced the chapter in which
Ananias and Sapphira were struck dead. When I had finished, he observed
very seriously, "That is a very good lesson for young people, Peter, and
points out that you never should swerve from the truth. Recollect, as
your motto, Peter, to 'tell truth and shame the devil.'"

After this observation I laid down the book, as it appeared to me that
he was quite unaware of his propensity; and without a sense of your
fault, how can repentance and amendment be expected? He became more
feeble and exhausted every day, and, at last, was so weak that he could
scarcely raise himself in his bed. One afternoon he said, "Peter, I
shall make my will, not that I am going to kick the bucket just yet; but
still it is every man's duty to set his house in order, and it will
amuse me; so fetch pen and paper, and come and sit down by me."

I did as he requested.

"Write, Peter, that I, Anthony George William Charles Huskisson Kearney
(my father's name was Anthony, Peter; I was christened George, after the
present Regent, William and Charles after Mr Pitt and Mr Fox, who were
my sponsors; Huskisson is the name of my great uncle, whose property
devolves to me; he's eighty-three now, so he can't last long)--have you
written down that?"

"Yes, sir."

"Being in sound mind, do hereby make my last will and testament,
revoking all former wills."

"Yes, sir."

"I bequeath to my dearly beloved wife, Augusta Charlotte Kearney (she
was named after the Queen and Princess Augusta, who held her at the
baptismal font), all my household furniture, books, pictures, plate, and
houses, for her own free use and will, and to dispose of at her pleasure
upon her demise. Is that down?"

"Yes, sir."

"Also, the interest of all my money in the three percents, reduced, and
in the long annuities, and the balance in my agent's hands, for her
natural life. At her death to be divided into equal portions between my
two children, William Mohamed Potemkin Kearney, and Caroline Anastasia
Kearney. Is that down?"

"Yes, sir."

"Well, then, Peter, now for my real property. My estate in Kent (let me
see, what is the name of it?)--Walcot Abbey, my three farms in the Vale
of Aylesbury, and the marsh lands in Norfolk, I bequeath to my two
children aforenamed, the proceeds of the same to be laid up, deducting
all necessary expenses for their education, for their sole use and
benefit. Is that down?"

"Not yet, sir--'use and benefit.' Now it is, sir."

"Until they come to the age of twenty-one years; or in case of my
daughter, until she marries with the consent of my executors, then to be
equally and fairly valued and divided between them. You observe, Peter,
I never make any difference between girls and boys--a good father will
leave one child as much as another. Now, I'll take my breath a little."

I was really astonished. It was well known that Captain Kearney had
nothing but his pay, and that it was the hopes of prize-money to support
his family, which had induced him to stay out so long in the West
Indies. It was laughable; yet I could not laugh: there was a melancholy
feeling at such a specimen of insanity, which prevented me.

"Now, Peter, we'll go on," said Captain Kearney, after a pause of a few
minutes. "I have a few legacies to bequeath. First, to all my servants
£50 each, and two suits of mourning; to my nephew, Thomas Kearney, of
Kearney Hall, Yorkshire, I bequeath the sword presented me by the Grand
Sultan. I promised it to him, and although we have quarrelled, and not
spoken for years, I always keep my word. The plate presented me by the
merchants and underwriters of Lloyd's, I leave to my worthy friend, the
Duke of Newcastle. Is that down?"

"Yes, sir."

"Well; my snuff-box, presented me by Prince Potemkin, I bequeath to
Admiral Sir Isaac Coffin; and, also, I release him from the mortgage
which I hold over his property of the Madeline Islands, in North
America. By-the-bye, say, and further, I bequeath to him the bag of
snuff presented to me by the Dey of Algiers; he may as well have the
snuff as he has the snuff-box. Is that down?"

"Yes, sir."

"Well then, now, Peter, I must leave you something."

"Oh, never mind me," replied I.

"No, no, Peter, I must not forget my cousin. Let me see; you shall have
my fighting sword. A real good one, I can tell you. I once fought a duel
with it at Palermo, and ran a Sicilian prince so clean through the body,
and it held so tight, that we were obliged to send for a pair of
post-horses to pull it out again. Put that down as a legacy for my
cousin, Peter Simple. I believe that is all. Now for my executors; and I
request my particular friends, the Earl of Londonderry, the Marquis of
Chandos, and Mr John Lubbock, banker, to be my executors, and leave each
of them the sum of one thousand pounds for their trouble, and in token
of regard. That will do, Peter. Now, as I have left so much real
property, it is necessary that there should be three witnesses; so call
in two more, and let me sign in your presence."

This order was obeyed, and this strange will duly attested, for I hardly
need say, that even the presents he had pretended to receive were
purchased by himself at different times; but such was the force of his
ruling passion even to the last. Mr Phillott and O'Brien used to come
and see him, as did occasionally some of the other officers, and he was
always cheerful and merry, and seemed to be quite indifferent about his
situation, although fully aware of it. His stories, if anything, became
more marvellous, as no one ventured to express a doubt as to their
credibility.

I had remained in the hospital about a week, when Captain Kearney was
evidently dying: the doctor came, felt his pulse, and gave it as his
opinion that he could not outlive the day. This was on a Friday, and
there certainly was every symptom of dissolution. He was so exhausted
that he could scarcely articulate; his feet were cold, and his eyes
appeared glazed, and turned upwards. The doctor remained an hour, felt
his pulse again, shook his head, and said to me, in a low voice, "He is
quite gone." As soon as the doctor quitted the room, Captain Kearney
opened his eyes, and beckoned me to him. "He's a confounded fool,
Peter," said he: "he thinks I am slipping my wind now--but I know
better; going I am, 'tis true--but I shan't die till next Thursday."
Strange to say, from that moment he rallied; and although it was
reported that he was dead, and the admiral had signed the acting order
for his successor, the next morning, to the astonishment of everybody,
Captain Kearney was still alive. He continued in this state, between
life and death, until the Thursday next, the day on which he asserted
that he would die--and, on that morning, he was evidently sinking fast.
Towards noon, his breathing became much oppressed and irregular, and he
was evidently dying; the rattle in his throat commenced; and I watched
at his bedside, waiting for his last gasp, when he again opened his
eyes, and beckoning me, with an effort, to put my head close to him to
hear what he had to say, he contrived, in a sort of gurgling whisper,
and with much difficulty, to utter--"Peter, I'm going now--not that the
rattle--in my throat--is a sign of death: for I once knew a man--to
_live_ with--_the rattle in his throat_--for _six weeks_." He fell back
and expired, having, perhaps, at his last gasp, told the greatest lie of
his whole life.

Thus died this most extraordinary character, who, in most other points,
commanded respect: he was a kind man and a good officer; but from the
idiosyncrasy of his disposition, whether from habit or from nature,
could not speak the truth. I say from _nature_, because I have witnessed
the vice of stealing equally strong, and never to be eradicated. It was
in a young messmate of good family, and who was supplied with money to
almost any extent: he was one of the most generous, open-hearted lads
that I ever knew; he would offer his purse, or the contents of his
chest, to any of his messmates, and, at the same time, would steal
everything that he could lay his hands upon. I have known him watch for
hours, to steal what could be of no use to him, as, for instance, an
_odd_ shoe, and that much too small for his foot. What he stole he would
give away the very next day; but to check it was impossible. It was so
well known, that if anything was missed, we used first to apply to his
chest to see if it was there, and usually found the article in question.
He appeared to be wholly insensible to shame upon this subject, though
in every other he showed no want of feeling or of honour; and, strange
to say, he never covered his theft with a lie. After vain attempts to
cure him of this propensity, he was dismissed the service as
incorrigible.

Captain Kearney was buried in the churchyard with the usual military
honours. In his desk we found directions, in his own hand, relative to
his funeral, and the engraving on his tombstone. In these, he stated his
aged to be thirty-one years. If this was correct, Captain Kearney, from
the time that he had been in the service of his country, must have
entered the navy just _four months before_ he was born. It was
unfortunate that he commenced the inscription with "Here lies Captain
Kearney," &c. &c. His tombstone had not been set up twenty-four hours
before somebody, who knew his character, put a dash under one word, as
emphatic as it was true of the living man, "Here _lies_ Captain."



Chapter XXXVIII

Captain Horton--Gloomy news from home--Get over head and ears in the
water, and find myself afterwards growing one way, and my clothes
another--Though neither as rich as a Jew, nor as large as a camel, I
pass through my examination, which my brother candidates think passing
strange.


The day after Captain Kearney's decease, his acting successor made his
appearance on board. The character of Captain Horton was well known to
us from the complaints made by the officers belonging to his ship, of
his apathy and indolence; indeed, he went by the _soubriquet_ of "the
Sloth." It certainly was very annoying to his officers to witness so
many opportunities of prize-money and distinction thrown away through
the indolence of his disposition. Captain Horton was a young man of
family who had advanced rapidly in the service from interest, and from
occasionally distinguishing himself. In the several cutting-out
expeditions, on which he had not volunteered but had been ordered, he
had shown, not only courage, but a remarkable degree of coolness in
danger and difficulty, which had gained him much approbation: but it was
said that this coolness arose from his very fault--an unaccountable
laziness. He would walk away, as it were, from the enemy's fire, when
others would hasten, merely because he was so apathetic that he would
not exert himself to run. In one cutting-out expedition in which he
distinguished himself, it is said that having to board a very high
vessel, and that in a shower of grape and musketry, when the boat dashed
alongside, and the men were springing up, he looked up at the height of
the vessel's sides, and exclaimed, with a look of despair, "My God! must
we really climb up that vessel's decks?" When he had gained the deck,
and became excited, he then proved how little fear had to do with the
remark, the captain of the ship falling by his hand, as he fought in
advance on his own men. But this peculiarity, which in a junior officer
was of little consequence, and a subject of mirth, in a captain became
of a very serious nature. The admiral was aware how often he had
neglected to annoy or capture the enemy when he might have done it; and,
by such neglect, Captain Horton infringed one of the articles of war,
the punishment awarded to which infringement is _death_. His
appointment, therefore, to the _Sanglier_ was as annoying to us as his
quitting his former ship was agreeable to those on board of her.

As it happened, it proved of little consequence: the admiral had
instructions from home to advance Captain Horton to the first vacancy,
which of course he was obliged to comply with; but not wishing to keep
on the station an officer who would not exert himself, he resolved to
send her to England with despatches and retain the other frigate which
had been ordered home, and which we had been sent up to replace. We
therefore heard it announced with feelings of joy, mingled with regret,
that we were immediately to proceed to England. For my part, I was glad
of it. I had now served my time as midshipman, to within five months,
and I thought that I had a better chance of being made in England than
abroad. I was also very anxious to go home, for family reasons, which I
have already explained. In a fortnight we sailed with several vessels,
and directions to take charge of a large convoy from Quebec, which was
to meet us off the island of St John's. In a few days we joined our
convoy, and with a fair wind bore up for England. The weather soon
became very bad, and we were scudding before a heavy gale, under bare
poles. Our captain seldom quitted the cabin, but remained there on a
sofa, stretched at his length, reading a novel, or dozing, as he found
most agreeable.

I recollect a circumstance which occurred, which will prove the apathy
of his disposition, and how unfit he was to command so fine a frigate.
We had been scudding three days, when the weather became much worse.

O'Brien, who had the middle watch, went down to report that "it blew
very hard."

"Very well," said the captain; "let me know if it blows harder."

In about an hour more the gale increased, and O'Brien went down again.
"It blows much harder, Captain Horton."

"Very well," answered Captain Horton, turning in his cot; "you may call
me again when it _blows harder_."

At about six bells the gale was at its height, and the wind roared in
its fury. Down went O'Brien again. "It blows tremendous hard now,
Captain Horton."

"Well, well, if the weather becomes worse--"

"It can't be worse," interrupted O'Brien; "it's impossible to blow
harder."

"Indeed! Well, then," replied the captain, "let me know when _it
lulls_."

In the morning watch a similar circumstance took place. Mr Phillott went
down, and said that several of the convoy were out of sight astern.
"Shall we heave-to, Captain Horton?"

"Oh, no," replied he, "she will be so uneasy. Let me know if you lose
sight of any more."

In another hour the first lieutenant reported that "there were very few
to be seen."

"Very well, Mr Phillott," replied the captain, turning round to sleep;
"let me know if you lose any more."

Some time elapsed, and the first lieutenant reported "that they were all
out of sight."

"Very well, then," said the captain; "call me when you see them again."

This was not very likely to take place, as we were going twelve knots an
hour, and running away from them as fast as we could; so the captain
remained undisturbed until he thought proper to get up to breakfast.
Indeed, we never saw any more of our convoy, but taking the gale with
us, in fifteen days anchored in Plymouth Sound. The orders came down for
the frigate to be paid off, all standing, and recommissioned. I received
letters from my father, in which he congratulated me at my name being
mentioned in Captain Kearney's despatches, and requested me to come home
as soon as I could. The admiral allowed my name to be put down on the
books of the guard-ship, that I might not lose my time, and then gave me
two months' leave of absence. I bade farewell to my shipmates, shook
hands with O'Brien, who proposed to go over to Ireland previous to his
applying for another ship, and, with my pay in my pocket, set off in the
Plymouth mail, and in three days was once more in the arms of my
affectionate mother, and warmly greeted by my father and the remainder
of my family.

Once more with my family, I must acquaint the reader with what had
occurred since my departure. My eldest sister, Lucy, had married an
officer in the army, a Captain Fielding, and his regiment having been
ordered out to India, had accompanied her husband, and letters had been
received, just before my return announcing their safe arrival at Ceylon.
My second sister, Mary, had also been engaged to be married, and from
her infancy was of extremely delicate health. She was very handsome, and
much admired. Her intended husband was a baronet of good family; but
unfortunately, she caught a cold at the assize ball and went off in a
decline. She died about two months before my arrival, and the family
were in deep mourning. My third sister, Ellen, was still unmarried; she
also was a very beautiful girl, and now seventeen. My mother's
constitution was much shaken by the loss of my sister Mary, and the
separation from her eldest child. As for my father, even the loss of his
daughter appeared to be wholly forgotten in the unwelcome intelligence
which he had received, that my uncle's wife had been safely delivered of
a _son_, which threw him out of the anticipated titles and estates of my
grandfather. It was indeed a house of mourning. My mother's grief I
respected, and tried all I could to console her; that of my father was
so evidently worldly, and so at variance with his clerical profession,
that I must acknowledge I felt more of anger at it than sorrow. He had
become morose and sullen, harsh to those around him, and not so kind to
my mother as her state of mind and health made it his duty to be, even
if inclination were wanted. He seldom passed any portion of the day with
her, and in the evening she went to bed very early, so that there was
little communication between them. My sister was a great consolation to
her, and so I hope was I; she often said so as she embraced me, and the
tears rolled down her cheeks, and I could not help surmising that those
tears were doubled from the coolness and indifference, if not
unkindness, with which my father behaved to her. As for my sister, she
was an angel; and as I witnessed her considerate attentions to my
mother, and the total forgetfulness of self which she displayed (so
different from my father, who was all self), I often thought what a
treasure she would prove to any man who was fortunate enough to win her
love. Such was the state of my family when I returned to it.

I had been at home about a week, when one evening, after dinner, I
submitted to my father the propriety of trying to obtain my promotion.

"I can do nothing for you, Peter; I have no interest whatever," replied
he, moodily.

"I do not think that much is required, sir," replied I; "my time will be
served on the 20th of next month. If I pass, which I trust I shall be
able to do, my name having been mentioned in the public despatches will
render it a point of no very great difficulty to obtain my commission at
the request of my grandfather."

"Yes, your grandfather might succeed, I have no doubt; but I think you
have little chance now in that quarter. My brother has a son, and we are
thrown out. You are not aware, Peter, how selfish people are, and how
little they will exert themselves for their relations. Your grandfather
has never invited me since the announcement of my brother's increase to
his family. Indeed, I have never been near him, for I know that it is of
no use."

"I must think otherwise of Lord Privilege, my dear father, until your
opinion is confirmed by his own conduct. That I am not so much an object
of interest, I grant; but still he was very kind, and appeared to be
partial to me."

"Well, well, you can try all you can, but you'll soon see of what stuff
this world is made; I am sure I hope it will be so, for what is to
become of you children if I die, I do not know;--I have saved little or
nothing. And now all my prospects are blasted by this--" and my father
dashed his fist upon the table in a manner by no means clerical, and
with a look very unworthy of an apostle.

I am sorry that I must thus speak of my father, but I must not disguise
the truth. Still, I must say, there was much in extenuation of his
conduct. He had always a dislike to the profession of the church: his
ambition, as a young man, had been to enter the army, for which service
he was much better qualified; but, as it has been the custom for
centuries to entail all the property of the aristocracy upon the eldest
son, and leave the other brothers to be supported by the state, or
rather by the people, who are taxed for their provision, my father was
not permitted to follow the bent of his own inclination. An elder
brother had already selected the army as his profession, and it was
therefore decided that my father should enter the church; and thus it is
that we have had, and still have, so many people in that profession, who
are not only totally unfit for, but who actually disgrace, their
calling. The law of primogeniture is beset with evils and injustice; yet
without it, the aristocracy of a country must sink into insignificance.
It appears to me, that as long as the people of a country are content to
support the younger sons of the nobility, it is well that the
aristocracy should be held up as a third estate, and a link between the
sovereign and the people; but that if the people are either too poor, or
are unwilling to be so taxed, they have a right to refuse taxation for
such purposes, and to demand that the law of primogeniture should be
abolished.

I remained at home until my time was complete, and then set off for
Plymouth to undergo my examination. The passing-day had been fixed by
the admiral for the Friday, and, as I arrived on Wednesday, I amused
myself during the day, walking about the dockyard, and trying all I
could to obtain further information in my profession. On the Thursday, a
party of soldiers from the depot were embarking at the landing-place in
men-of-war boats, and, as I understood, were about to proceed to India.
I witnessed the embarkation, and waited till they shoved off, and then
walked to the anchor wharf to ascertain the weights of the respective
anchors of the different classes of vessels in the King's service.

I had not been there long, when I was attracted by the squabbling
created by a soldier, who, it appeared, had quitted the ranks to run up
to the tap in the dockyard to obtain liquor. He was very drunk, and was
followed by a young woman with a child in her arms, who was endeavouring
to pacify him.

"Now be quiet, Patrick, jewel," said she, clinging to him; "sure it's
enough that you've left the ranks, and will come to disgrace when you
get on board. Now be quiet, Patrick, and let us ask for a boat, and then
perhaps the officer will think it was all a mistake, and let you off
aisy; and sure I'll speak to Mr O'Rourke, and he's a kind man."

"Out wid you, you cratur, it is Mr O'Rourke you'd be having a
conversation wid, and he be chucking you under that chin of yours. Out
wid you, Mary, and lave me to find my way on board. Is it a boat I want,
when I can swim like St Patrick, wid my head under my arm, if it wasn't
on my shoulders? At all events, I can wid my nappersack and musket to
boot."

The young woman cried, and tried to restrain him, but he broke from her,
and running down to the wharf, dashed off into the water. The young
woman ran to the edge of the wharf, perceived him sinking, and shrieking
with despair, threw up her arms in her agony. The child fell, struck on
the edge of the piles, turned over, and before I could catch hold of it,
sank into the sea. "The child! the child!" burst forth in another wild
scream, and the poor creature lay at my feet in violent fits. I looked
over, the child had disappeared; but the soldier was still struggling
with his head above water. He sank and rose again--a boat was pulling
towards him, but he was quite exhausted. He threw back his arms as if in
despair, and was about disappearing under a wave, when, no longer able
to restrain myself, I leaped off the high wharf, and swam to his
assistance, just in time to lay hold of him as he was sinking for the
last time. I had not been in the water a quarter of a minute before the
boat came up to us, and dragged us on board. The soldier was exhausted
and speechless. I, of course, was only very wet. The boat rowed to the
landing-place at my request, and we were both put on shore. The knapsack
which was fixed on the soldier's back, and his regimentals, indicated
that he belonged to the regiment just embarked; and I stated my opinion
that, as soon as he was a little recovered, he had better be taken on
board. As the boat which picked us up was one of the men-of-war boats,
the officer who had been embarking the troops, and had been sent on
shore again to know if there were any yet left behind, consented. In a
few minutes the soldier recovered, and was able to sit up and speak, and
I only waited to ascertain the state of the poor young woman whom I had
left on the wharf. In a few minutes she was led to us by the warder, and
the scene between her and her husband was most affecting. When she had
become a little composed, she turned round to me, where I stood dripping
wet, and, intermingled with lamentation for the child, showering down
emphatic blessings on my head, inquired my name. "Give it to me!" she
cried; "give it to me on paper, in writing, that I may wear it next my
heart, read and kiss it every day of my life, and never forget to pray
for you, and to bless you!"

"I'll tell it you. My name--"

"Nay, write it down for me--write it down. Sure you'll not refuse me.
All the saints bless you, dear young man, for saving a poor woman from
despair!"

The officer commanding the boat handed me a pencil and a card; I wrote
my name and gave it to the poor woman; she took my hand as I gave it,
kissed the card repeatedly, and put it into her bosom. The officer,
impatient to shove off, ordered her husband into the boat--she followed,
clinging to him, wet as he was--the boat shoved off, and I hastened up
to the inn to dry my clothes. I could not help observing, at the time,
how the fear of a greater evil will absorb all consideration for a
minor. Satisfied that her husband had not perished, she had hardly once
appeared to remember that she had lost her child.

I had only brought one suit of clothes with me: they were in very good
condition when I arrived, but salt water plays the devil with a uniform.
I laid in bed until they were dry; but when I put them on again, not
being before too large for me, for I grew very fast, they were now
shrunk and shrivelled up, so as to be much too small. My wrists appeared
below the sleeves of my coat--my trousers had shrunk half way up to my
knees--the buttons were all tarnished, and altogether I certainly did
not wear the appearance of a gentlemanly, smart midshipman. I would have
ordered another suit, but the examination was to take place at ten
o'clock the next morning, and there was no time. I was therefore obliged
to appear as I was, on the quarter-deck of the line-of-battle ship, on
board of which the passing was to take place. Many others were there to
undergo the same ordeal, all strangers to me, and as I perceived by
their nods and winks to each other, as they walked up and down in their
smart clothes, not at all inclined to make my acquaintance.

There were many before me on the list, and our hearts beat every time
that a name was called, and the owner of it walked aft into the cabin.
Some returned with jocund faces, and our hopes mounted with the
anticipation of similar good fortune; others came out melancholy and
crest-fallen, and then the expression of their countenances was
communicated to our own, and we quailed with fear and apprehension. I
have no hesitation in asserting, that although "passing" may be a proof
of being qualified, "not passing" is certainly no proof to the contrary.
I have known many of the cleverest young men turned back (while others
of inferior abilities have succeeded), merely from the feeling of awe
occasioned by the peculiarity of the situation: and it is not to be
wondered at, when it is considered that all the labour and exertion of
six years are at stake at this appalling moment. At last my name was
called, and almost breathless from anxiety, I entered the cabin, where I
found myself in presence of the three captains who were to decide
whether I were fit to hold a commission in His Majesty's service. My
logs and certificates were examined and approved; my time calculated and
allowed to be correct. The questions in navigation which were put to me
were very few, for the best of all possible reasons, that most captains
in His Majesty's service know little or nothing of navigation. During
their servitude as midshipmen, they learn it by _rote_, without being
aware of the principles upon which the calculations they use are
founded. As lieutenants, their services as to navigation are seldom
required, and they rapidly forget all about it. As captains, their whole
remnant of mathematical knowledge consists in being able to set down the
ship's position on the chart. As for navigating the ship, the master is
answerable; and the captains not being responsible themselves, they
trust entirely to his reckoning. Of course there are exceptions, but
what I state is the fact; and if an order from the Admiralty was given,
that all captains should pass again, although they might acquit
themselves very well in seamanship, nineteen out of twenty would be
turned back when they were questioned in navigation. It is from the
knowledge of this fact that I think the service is injured by the
present system, and the captain should be held _wholly _responsible for
the navigation of his ship. It has been long known that the officers of
every other maritime state are more scientific than our own, which is
easily explained, from the responsibility not being invested in our
captains. The origin of masters in our service is singular. When England
first became a maritime power, ships for the King's service were found
by the Cinque Ports and other parties--the fighting part of the crew was
composed of soldiers sent on board. All the vessels at that time had a
crew of sailors, with a master to navigate the vessel. During our bloody
naval engagements with the Dutch, the same system was acted upon. I
think it was the Earl of Sandwich, of whom it is stated, that his ship
being in a sinking state, he took a boat to hoist his flag on board of
another vessel in the fleet, but a shot cutting the boat in two, and the
_weight of his armour_ bearing him down, the Earl of Sandwich perished.
But to proceed.

As soon as I had answered several questions satisfactorily, I was
desired to stand up. The captain who had interrogated me on navigation,
was very grave in his demeanour towards me, but at the same time not
uncivil. During his examination, he was not interfered with by the other
two, who only undertook the examination in "seamanship." The captain,
who now desired me to stand up, spoke in a very harsh tone, and quite
frightened me. I stood up pale and trembling, for I augured no good from
this commencement. Several questions in seamanship were put to me, which
I have no doubt I answered in a very lame way, for I cannot even now
recollect what I said.

"I thought so," observed the captain; "I judged as much from your
appearance. An officer who is so careless of his dress, as not even to
put on a decent coat when he appears at his examination, generally turns
out an idle fellow, and no seaman. One would think you had served all
your time in a cutter, or a ten-gun brig, instead of dashing frigates.
Come, sir, I'll give you one more chance."

I was so hurt at what the captain said, that I could not control my
feelings. I replied, with a quivering lip, "that I had had no time to
order another uniform,"--and I burst into tears.

"Indeed, Burrows, you are rather too harsh," said the third captain;
"the lad is frightened. Let him sit down and compose himself for a
little while. Sit down, Mr Simple, and we will try you again directly."

I sat down, checking my grief and trying to recall my scattered senses.
The captains, in the meantime, turning over the logs to pass away the
time; the one who had questioned me in navigation reading the Plymouth
newspaper, which had a few minutes before been brought on board and sent
into the cabin. "Heh! what's this? I say Burrows--Keats, look here," and
he pointed to a paragraph. "Mr Simple, may I ask whether it was you who
saved the soldier who leaped off the wharf yesterday?"

"Yes, sir," replied I; "and that's the reason why my uniforms are so
shabby. I spoilt them then, and had no time to order others. I did not
like to say why they were spoilt." I saw a change in the countenances of
all the three, and it gave me courage. Indeed, now that my feelings had
found vent, I was no longer under any apprehension.

"Come, Mr Simple, stand up again," said the captain, kindly, "that is,
if you feel sufficiently composed; if not, we will wait a little longer.
Don't be afraid, we _wish_ to pass you."

I was not afraid, and stood up immediately. I answered every question
satisfactorily; and finding that I did so, they put more difficult ones.
"Very good, very good indeed, Mr Simple; now let me ask you one more;
it's seldom done in the service, and perhaps you may not be able to
answer it. Do you know how to _club-haul_ a ship?"

"Yes, sir," replied I, having, as the reader may recollect, witnessed
the manoeuvre when serving under poor Captain Savage, and I immediately
stated how it was to be done.

"That is sufficient, Mr Simple. I wish to ask you no more questions. I
thought at first you were a careless officer and no seaman: I now find
that you are a good seaman and a gallant young man. Do you wish to ask
any more questions?" continued he, turning to the two others.

They replied in the negative; my passing certificate was signed, and the
captains did me the honour to shake hands with me, and wish me speedy
promotion. Thus ended happily this severe trial to my poor nerves; and,
as I came out of the cabin, no one could have imagined that I had been
in such distress within, when they beheld the joy that irradiated my
countenance.



Chapter XXXIX

Is a chapter of plots--Catholic casuistry in a new cassock--Plotting
promotes promotion--A peasant's love and a peer's peevishness--Prospects
of prosperity.


As soon as I arrived at the hotel, I sent for a Plymouth paper, and cut
out the paragraph which had been of such importance to me in my
emergency, and the next morning returned home to receive the
congratulations of my family. I found a letter from O'Brien, which had
arrived the day before. It was as follows:--

  "MY DEAR PETER,--Some people, they say, are lucky to 'have a father
  born before them,' because they are helped on in the world--upon
  which principle, mine was born _after_ me, that's certain; however,
  that can't be helped. I found all my family well and hearty; but they
  all shook a cloth in the wind with respect to toggery. As for Father
  M'Grath's cassock, he didn't complain of it without reason. It was the
  ghost of a garment; but, however, with the blessing of God, my last
  quarterly bill, and the help of a tailor, we have had a regular refit,
  and the ancient family of the O'Briens of Ballyhinch are now rigged
  from stem to starn. My two sisters are both to be spliced to young
  squireens in the neighbourhood; it appears that they only wanted for a
  dacent town gown to go to the church in. They will be turned off next
  Friday, and I only wish, Peter, you were here to dance at the
  weddings. Never mind, I'll dance for you and for myself too. In the
  meantime, I'll just tell you what Father M'Grath and I have been
  doing, all about and consarning that thief of an uncle of yours.

  "It's very little or nothing at all that Father M'Grath did before I
  came back, seeing as how Father O'Toole had a new cassock, and Father
  M'Grath's was so shabby that he couldn't face him under such a
  disadvantage; but still Father M'Grath spied about him, and had
  several hints from here and from there, all of which, when I came to
  add them up, amounted to just nothing at all.

  "But since I came home, we have been busy. Father M'Grath went down to
  Ballycleuch, as bold as a lion in his new clothing, swearing that he'd
  lead Father O'Toole by the nose for slamming the door in his face, and
  so he would have done, if he could have found him; but as he wasn't to
  be found, Father M'Grath came back again just as wise, and quite as
  brave, as he went out.

  "So, Peter, I just took a walk that way myself, and, as I surrounded
  the old house where your uncle had taken up his quarters, who should I
  meet but the little girl, Ella Flanagan, who was in his service; and I
  said to myself, 'There's two ways of obtaining things in this world,
  one is for love, and the other is for money.' The O'Briens are better
  off in the first article than in the last, as most of their countrymen
  are, so I've been spending it very freely in your service, Peter.

  "'Sure,' says I, 'you are the little girl that my eyes were ever
  looking upon when last I was in this way.'

  "'And who are you?' says she.

  "'Lieutenant O'Brien, of his Majesty's service, just come home for a
  minute to look out for a wife,' says I; 'and it's one about your make,
  and shape, and discretion that would please my fancy.'

  "And then I praised her eyes, and her nose, and her forehead, and so
  downwards, until I came to the soles of her feet; and asked her leave
  to see her again, and when she would meet me in the wood and tell me
  her mind. At first, she thought (sure enough) that I couldn't be in
  earnest, but I swore by all the saints that she was the prettiest girl
  in the parts--and so she is altogether--and then she listened to my
  blarney. The devil a word did I say about your uncle, or your aunt, or
  Father M'Grath, that she might not suspect for I've an idea that
  they're all in the story. I only talked about my love for her pretty
  self, and that blinded her, as it will all women, 'cute as they may
  be.

  "And now, Peter, it's three weeks last Sunday, that I've been
  bespeaking this poor girl for your sake, and my conscience tells me
  that it's not right to make the poor crature fond of me, seeing as how
  that I don't care a fig for her in the way of a wife, and in any other
  way it would be the ruin of the poor thing. I have spoken to Father
  M'Grath on the subject, who says, 'that we may do evil that good may
  come, and that, if she has been a party to the deceit, it's nothing
  but proper that she should be punished in this world, and that will,
  perhaps, save her in the next;' still I don't like it, Peter, and it's
  only for you among the living that I'd do such a thing; for the poor
  creature now hangs upon me so fondly, and talks about the wedding-day;
  and tells me long stories about the connections which have taken place
  between the O'Flanagans and the O'Briens, times bygone, when they were
  all in their glory. Yesterday, as we sat in the wood, with her arm
  round my waist, 'Ella, dear,' says I, 'who are these people that you
  stay with?' And then she told me all she knew about their history, and
  how Mary Sullivan was a nurse to the baby.

  "'And what is the baby?' says I.

  "'A boy, sure,' says she.

  "'And Sullivan's baby?'

  "'That's a girl.'

  "'And is Mary Sullivan there now?'

  "'No' says she; 'it's yestreen she left with her husband and baby, to
  join the regiment that's going out to Ingy.'

  "'Yesterday she left?' says I, starting up.

  "'Yes,' replies she, 'and what do you care about them?'

  "'It's very much I care,' replied I, 'for a little bird has whispered
  a secret to me.'

  "'And what may that be?' says she.

  "'Only that the childer were changed, and you know it as well as I
  do.' But she swore that she knew nothing about it, and that she was
  not there when either of the children was born, and I believe that she
  told the truth. 'Well,' says I, 'who tended the lady?'

  "'My own mother,' says Ella. 'And if it was so, who can know but she?'

  "Then,' says I, 'Ella, jewel, I've made a vow that I'll never marry
  till I find out the truth of this matter; so the sooner you get it out
  of your mother the better.' Then she cried very much, and I was almost
  ready to cry too, to see how the poor thing was vexed at the idea of
  not being married. After a while, she swabbed up her cheeks, and
  kissing me, wished me good-by, swearing by all the saints that the
  truth should come out, somehow or another.

  "It's this morning that I saw her again, as agreed upon yesterday, and
  red her eyes were with weeping, poor thing; and she clung to me, and
  begged me to forgive her, and not to leave her; and then she told me
  that her mother was startled when she put the question to her, and
  chewed it, and cursed her when she insisted upon the truth; and how
  she had fallen on her knees, and begged her mother not to stand in the
  way of her happiness, as she would die if she did (I leave you to
  guess if my heart didn't smite me when she said that, Peter, but the
  mischief was done), and how her mother had talked about her oath and
  Father O'Toole, and said that she would speak to him.

  "Now, Peter, I'm sure that the childer have been changed, and that the
  nurse has been sent to the Indies to be out of the way. They say they
  were to go to Plymouth. The husband's name is, of course, O'Sullivan;
  so I'd recommend you to take a coach and see what you can do in that
  quarter; in the meantime I'll try all I can for the truth in this, and
  will write again as soon as I can find out anything more. All I want
  to do is to get Father M'Grath to go to the old devil of a mother, and
  I'll answer for it, he'll frighten her into swearing anything. God
  bless you, Peter, and give my love to all the family.

  "Yours ever,

  "TERENCE O'BRIEN."

This letter of O'Brien was the subject of much meditation. The advice to
go to Plymouth was too late, the troops having sailed some time; and I
had no doubt but that Mary Sullivan and her husband were among those who
had embarked at the time that I was at that port to pass my examination.
Show the letter to my father I would not, as it would only have put him
in a fever, and his interference would, in all probability, have done
more harm than good. I therefore waited quietly for more intelligence,
and resolved to apply to my grandfather to obtain my promotion.

A few days afterwards I set off for Eagle Park, and arrived about eleven
o'clock in the morning. I sent in my name, and was admitted into the
library, where I found Lord Privilege in his easy chair as usual.

"Well, child," said he, remaining on his chair, and not offering even
_one_ finger to me, "what do you want, that you come here without an
invitation?"

"Only, my lord, to inquire after your health, and to thank you for your
kindness to me in procuring me and Mr O'Brien the appointment to a fine
frigate."

"Yes," replied his lordship, "I recollect--I think I did so, at your
request, and I think I heard some one say that you have behaved well,
and had been mentioned in the despatches."

"Yes, my lord," replied I, "and I have since passed my examination for
lieutenant."

"Well, child, I'm glad to hear it. Remember me to your father and
family." And his lordship cast his eyes down upon the book which he had
been reading.

My father's observations appeared to be well grounded, but I would not
leave the room until I had made some further attempt.

"Has your lordship heard from my uncle?"

"Yes," replied he, "I had a letter from him yesterday. The child is
quite well. I expect them all here in a fortnight or three weeks, to
live with me altogether. I am old--getting very old, and I shall have
much to arrange with your uncle before I die."

"If I might request a favour of your lordship, it would be to beg that
you would interest yourself a little in obtaining my promotion. A letter
from your lordship to the First Lord--only a few lines--"

"Well, child, I see no objection--only--I am very old, too old to write
now." And his lordship again commenced reading.

I must do Lord Privilege the justice to state that he evidently was fast
verging to a state of second childhood. He was much bowed down since I
had last seen him, and appeared infirm in body as well as mind.

I waited at least a quarter of an hour before his lordship looked up.

"What, not gone yet, child? I thought you had gone home."

"Your lordship was kind enough to say that you had no objection to write
a few lines to the First Lord in my behalf. I trust your lordship will
not refuse me."

"Well," replied he, peevishly, "so I did--but I am too old, too old to
write--I cannot see--I can hardly hold a pen."

"Will your lordship allow me the honour of writing the letter for your
lordship's signature?"

"Well, child--yes--I've no objection. Write as follows--no--write
anything you please--and I'll sign it. I wish your uncle William were
come."

This was more than I did. I had a great mind to show him O'Brien's
letter, but I thought it would be cruel to raise doubts, and harass the
mind of a person so close to the brink of the grave. The truth would
never be ascertained during his life, I thought, and why, therefore,
should I give him pain? At all events, although I had the letter in my
pocket, I resolved not to make use of it except as a _dernier_ resort.

I went to another table, and sat down to write the letter. As his
lordship had said that I might write what I pleased, it occurred to me
that I might assist O'Brien, and I felt sure that his lordship would not
take the trouble to read the letter. I therefore wrote as follows, while
Lord Privilege continued to read his book:--

  "MY LORD,--You will confer a very great favour upon me, if you will
  hasten the commission which, I have no doubt, is in preparation for my
  nephew, Mr Simple, who has passed his examination, and has been
  mentioned in the public despatches, and also that you will not lose
  sight of Lieutenant O'Brien, who has so distinguished himself by his
  gallantry in the various cutting-out expeditions in the West Indies.
  Trusting that your lordship will not fail to comply with my earnest
  request, I have the honour to be, your lordship's very obedient humble
  servant."

I brought this letter, with a pen full of ink, and the noise of my
approach induced his lordship to look up. He stared at first, as having
forgotten the whole circumstance--then said--"Oh yes! I recollect, so I
did--give me the pen." With a trembling hand he signed his name, and
gave me back the letter without reading it, as I expected.

"There, child, don't tease me any more. Good-bye; remember me to your
father."

I wished his lordship a good morning, and went away well satisfied with
the result of my expedition. On my arrival I showed the letter to my
father, who was much surprised at my success, and he assured me that my
grandfather's interest was so great with the administration, that I
might consider my promotion as certain. That no accident might happen, I
immediately set off for London, and delivered the letter at the door of
the First Lord with my own hands, leaving my address with the porter.



Chapter XL

O'Brien and myself take a step each, _pari passu_--A family reunion
productive of anything but unity--My uncle not always the best friend.


A few days afterwards I left my card with my address with the First
Lord, and the next day received a letter from his secretary, which, to
my delight, informed me that my commission had been made out some days
before. I hardly need say that I hastened to take it up, and when paying
my fee to the clerk, I ventured, at a hazard, to inquire whether he knew
the address of Lieutenant O'Brien.

"No," replied he, "I wish to find it out, for he has this day been
promoted to the rank of Commander."

I almost leaped with joy when I heard this good news. I gave O'Brien's
address to the clerk, hastened away with my invaluable piece of
parchment in my hand, and set off immediately for my father's house.

But I was met with sorrow. My mother had been taken severely ill, and I
found the house in commotion--doctors, and apothecaries, and nurses,
running to and fro, my father in a state of excitement, and my dear
sister in tears. Spasm succeeded spasm; and although every remedy was
applied, the next evening she breathed her last. I will not attempt to
describe the grief of my father, who appeared to feel remorse at his
late unkind treatment of her, my sister, and myself. These scenes must
be imagined by those who have suffered under similar bereavements. I
exerted myself to console my poor sister, who appeared to cling to me as
to her only support, and, after the funeral was over, we recovered our
tranquillity, although the mourning was still deeper in our hearts than
in our outward dress. I had written to O'Brien to announce the mournful
intelligence, and, like a true friend, he immediately made his
appearance to console me.

O'Brien had received the letter from the Admiralty, acquainting him with
his promotion; and, two days after he arrived, went to take up his
commission. I told him frankly by what means he had obtained it, and he
again concluded his thanks by a reference to the mistake of the former
supposition, that of my being "the fool of the family."

"By the powers, it would be well for any man if he had a few of such
foolish friends about him," continued he; "but I won't blarney you,
Peter; you know what my opinion always has been, so we'll say no more
about it."

When he came back, we had a long consultation as to the best method of
proceeding to obtain employment, for O'Brien was anxious to be again
afloat, and so was I. I regretted parting with my sister, but my father
was so morose and ill-tempered, that I had no pleasure at home, except
in her company. Indeed, my sister was of opinion, that it would be
better if I were away, as my father's misanthropy, now unchecked by my
mother, appeared to have increased, and he seemed to view me with
positive dislike. It was, therefore, agreed unanimously between my
sister, and me, and O'Brien, who was always of our councils, that it
would be advisable that I should be again afloat.

"I can manage him much better when alone, Peter; I shall have nothing to
occupy me, and take me away from him, as your presence does now; and,
painful as it is to part with you, my duty to my father, and my wish for
your advancement, induce me to request that you will, if possible, find
some means of obtaining employment."

"Spoken like a hero, as ye are, Miss Ellen, notwithstanding your pretty
face and soft eyes," said O'Brien. "And now, Peter, for the means to
bring it about. If I can get a ship, there is no fear for you, as I
shall choose you for my lieutenant; but how is that to be managed? Do
you think that you can come over the old gentleman at Eagle Park?"

"At all events, I'll try," replied I; "I can but be floored, O'Brien."

Accordingly, the next day I set off for my grandfather's, and was put
down at the lodge, at the usual hour, about eleven o'clock. I walked up
the avenue, and knocked at the door: when it was opened, I perceived a
hesitation among the servants, and a constrained air, which I did not
like. I inquired after Lord Privilege--the answer was, that he was
pretty well, but did not see _any_ body.

"Is my uncle here?" said I.

"Yes, sir," replied the servant, with a significant look, "and all his
family are here too."

"Are you sure that I cannot see my _grandfather_" said I, laying a
stress upon the word.

"I will tell him that you are here, sir," replied the man, "but even
that is against orders."

I had never seen my uncle since I was a child, and could not even
recollect him--my cousins, or my aunt, I had never met with. In a minute
an answer was brought, requesting that I would walk into the library.
When I was ushered in, I found myself in the presence of Lord Privilege,
who sat in his usual place, and a tall gentleman, whom I knew at once to
be my uncle, from his likeness to my father.

"Here is the young gentleman, my lord," said my uncle, looking at me
sternly.

"Heh! what--oh? I recollect. Well, child, so you've been behaving very
ill--sorry to hear it. Good-bye."

"Behaving ill, my lord!" replied I. "I am not aware of having so done."

"Reports are certainly very much against you, nephew," observed my
uncle, drily. "Some one has told your grandfather what has much
displeased him. I know nothing about it myself."

"Then some rascal has slandered me, sir," replied I.

My uncle started at the word rascal; and then recovering himself,
replied, "Well, nephew, what is it that you require of Lord Privilege,
for I presume this visit is not without a cause?"

"Sir," replied I, "my visit to Lord Privilege was, first to thank him
for having procured me my commission as lieutenant, and to request the
favour that he would obtain me active employment, which a line from him
will effect immediately."

"I was not aware, nephew, that you had been made lieutenant; but I agree
with you, that the more you are at sea the better. His lordship shall
sign the letter. Sit down."

"Shall I write it, sir?" said I to my uncle: "I know what to say."

"Yes; and bring it to me when it is written."

I felt convinced that the only reason which induced my uncle to obtain
me employment was the idea that I should be better out of the way, and
that there was more risk at sea than on shore. I took a sheet of paper,
and wrote as follows:--

  "My LORD,--May I request that your lordship will be pleased to
  appoint the bearer of this to a ship, as soon as convenient, as I wish
  him to be actively employed.

  "I am, my lord, &c, &c."

"Why not mention your name?"

"It is of no consequence," replied I, "as it will be delivered in
person, and that will insure my speedy appointment."

The letter was placed before his lordship for signature. It was with
some difficulty that he was made to understand that he was to sign it.
The old gentleman appeared much more imbecile than when I last saw him.
I thanked him, folded up the letter, and put it in my pocket. At last he
looked at me, and a sudden flash of recollection appeared to come across
his mind.

"Well child so you escaped from the French prison--heh! and how's your
friend--what is his name, heh?"

"O'Brien, my lord."

"O'Brien!" cried my uncle, "he is _your_ friend; then, sir, I presume it
is to you that I am indebted for all the inquiries and reports which are
so industriously circulated in Ireland--the tampering with my servants--
and other impertinences?"

I did not choose to deny the truth, although I was a little fluttered by
the sudden manner in which it came to light. I replied, "I never tamper
with any people's servants, sir."

"No," said he, "but you employ others so to do. I discovered the whole
of your proceedings after the scoundrel left for England."

"If you apply the word scoundrel _to_ Captain O'Brien, sir, in his name
I contradict it."

"As you please, sir," replied my uncle, in a passion; "but you will
oblige me by quitting this house immediately, and expect nothing more,
either from the present or the future Lord Privilege, except that
retaliation which your infamous conduct has deserved."

I felt much irritated, and replied very sharply, "From the present Lord
Privilege I certainly expect nothing more, neither do I from his
successor; but after your death, uncle, I expect that the person who
succeeds to the title will do all he can for your humble servant. I wish
you a good morning, uncle."

My uncle's eyes flashed fire as I finished my speech, which indeed was a
very bold, and a very foolish one too, as it afterwards proved. I
hastened out of the room, not only from the fear of being turned out of
the house before all the servants, but also from the dread that my
letter to the First Lord might be taken from me by force; but I shall
never forget the scowl of vengeance which crossed my uncle's brows, as I
turned round and looked at him as I shut the door. I found my way out
without the assistance of the servants, and hastened home as fast as I
could.

"O'Brien," said I, on my return, "there is no time to be lost; the
sooner you hasten to town with this letter of introduction, the better
it will be, for depend upon it my uncle will do me all the harm that he
can." I then repeated to him all that had passed, and it was agreed that
O'Brien should take the letter, which, having reference to the bearer,
would do as well for him as for me; and, if O'Brien obtained an
appointment, I was sure not only of being one of his lieutenants, but
also of sailing with a dear friend. The next morning O'Brien set off for
London, and fortunately saw the First Lord the day after his arrival,
which was a levee day. The First Lord received the letter from O'Brien,
and requested him to sit down. He then read it, inquired after his
lordship, asked whether his health was good, &c.

O'Brien replied, "that with the blessing of God, his lordship might live
many years: that he had never heard him complain of ill health." All
which was not false, if not true. I could not help observing to O'Brien,
when he returned home and told me what had passed, "that I thought,
considering what he had expressed with respect to white lies and black
lies, that he had not latterly adhered to his own creed."

"That's very true, Peter; and I've thought of it myself, but it is my
creed nevertheless. We all know what's right, but we don't always follow
it. The fact is, I begin to think that it is absolutely necessary to
fight the world with its own weapons. I spoke to Father M'Grath on the
subject, and he replied--'That if anyone, by doing wrong, necessitated
another to do wrong to circumvent him, that the first party was
answerable, not only for his own sin, but also for the sin committed in
self-defence."

"But, O'Brien, I do not fix my faith so implicitly upon Father M'Grath;
and I do not much admire many of his directions."

"No more do I, Peter, when I think upon them; but how am I to puzzle my
head upon these points? All I know is, that when you are divided between
your inclination and your duty, it's mighty convenient to have a priest
like Father M'Grath to decide for you, and to look after your soul into
the bargain."

It occurred to me that I myself, when finding fault with O'Brien, had,
in the instance of both the letters from Lord Privilege, been also
guilty of deceit. I was therefore blaming him for the same fault
committed by myself; and I am afraid that I was too ready in consoling
myself with Father M'Grath's maxim, "that one might do evil that good
might come." But to return to O'Brien's interview.

After some little conversation, the First Lord said, "Captain O'Brien, I
am always very ready to oblige Lord Privilege, and the more so as his
recommendation is of an officer of your merit. In a day or two, if you
call at the Admiralty, you will hear further." O'Brien wrote to us
immediately, and we waited with impatience for his next letter: but,
instead of the letter, he made his appearance on the third day, and
first hugged me in his arms, he then came to my sister, embraced her,
and skipped and danced about the room.

"What is the matter, O'Brien?" said I, while Ellen retreated in
confusion.

O'Brien pulled a parchment out of his pocket. "Here, Peter, my dear
Peter; now for honour and glory. An eighteen-gun brig, Peter. The
_Rattlesnake_--Captain O'Brien--West India station. By the holy father!
my heart's bursting with joy!" and down he sank into an easy chair.
"A'n't I almost beside myself?" inquired he, after a short pause.

"Ellen thinks so, I dare say," replied I, looking at my sister, who
stood in the corner of the room, thinking O'Brien was really out of his
senses, and still red with confusion.

O'Brien, who then called to mind what a slip of decorum he had been
guilty of, immediately rose, and resuming his usual unsophisticated
politeness, as he walked up to my sister, took her hand, and said,
"Excuse me, my dear Miss Ellen; I must apologize for my rudeness; but my
delight was so great, and my gratitude to your brother so intense, that
I am afraid that in my warmth I allowed the expression of my feelings to
extend to one so dear to him, and so like him in person and in mind.
Will you only consider that you received the overflowings of a grateful
heart towards your brother, and for his sake pardon my indiscretion?"

Ellen smiled, and held out her hand to O'Brien, who led her to the sofa,
where we all three sat down: and he then commenced a more intelligible
narrative of what had passed. He had called on the day appointed, and
sent up his card. The First Lord could not see him, but referred him to
the private secretary, who presented him with his commission to the
_Rattlesnake_, eighteen-gun brig. The secretary smiled most graciously,
and told O'Brien in confidence that he would proceed to the West India
station as soon as his vessel was manned and ready for sea. He inquired
of O'Brien whom he wished as his first lieutenant. O'Brien replied that
he wished for me; but as, in all probability, I should not be of
sufficient standing to be first lieutenant, that the Admiralty might
appoint any other to the duty, provided I joined the ship. The secretary
made a minute of O'Brien's wish, and requested him, if he had a vacancy
to spare as midshipman, to allow him to send one on board; to which
O'Brien willingly acceded, shook hands with him, and O'Brien quitted the
Admiralty to hasten down to us with the pleasing intelligence.

"And now," said O'Brien, "I have made up my mind how to proceed. I shall
first run down to Plymouth and hoist my pennant; then I shall ask for a
fortnight's leave, and go to Ireland to see how they get on, and what
Father M'Grath may be about. So, Peter, let's pass this evening as
happily as we can; for though you and I shall soon meet again, yet it
may be years, or perhaps never, that we three shall sit down on the same
sofa as we do now."

Ellen, who was still nervous, from the late death of my mother, looked
down, and I perceived the tears start in her eyes at the remark of
O'Brien, that perhaps we should never meet again. And I did pass a happy
evening. I had a dear sister on one side of me, and a sincere friend on
the other. How few situations more enviable!

O'Brien left us early the next morning; and at breakfast-time a letter
was handed to my father. It was from my uncle, coldly communicating to
him that Lord Privilege had died the night before, very suddenly, and
informing him that the burial would take place on that day week, and
that the will would be opened immediately after the funeral. My father
handed the letter over to me without saying a word, and sipped his tea
with his tea-spoon. I cannot say that I felt very much on the occasion;
but I did feel, because he had been kind to me at one time: as for my
father's feelings, I could not--or rather I should say, I did not wish
to analyze them. As soon as he had finished his cup of tea, he left the
breakfast-table, and went into his study. I then communicated the
intelligence to my sister Ellen.

"My God!" said she, after a pause, putting her hand up to her eyes;
"what a strange unnatural state of society must we have arrived at, when
my father can thus receive the intelligence of a parent's death! Is it
not dreadful?"

"It is, my dearest girl," replied I; "but every feeling has been
sacrificed to worldly considerations and an empty name. The younger sons
have been neglected, if not deserted. Virtue, talent, everything set at
naught--intrinsic value despised--and the only claim to consideration
admitted, that of being the heir entail. When all the ties of nature are
cast loose by the parents, can you be surprised if the children are no
longer bound by them? Most truly do you observe, that it is a detestable
state of society."

"I did not say detestable, brother; I said strange and unnatural."

"Had you said what I said, Ellen, you would not have been wrong. I would
not for the title and wealth which it brings, be the heartless,
isolated, I may say neglected being that my grandfather was; were it
offered now, I would not barter for it Ellen's love."

Ellen threw herself in my arms; we then walked into the garden, where we
had a long conversation relative to our future wishes, hopes, and
prospects.



Chapter XLI

Pompous obsequies--The reading of the will, not exactly after Wilkie--I
am left a legacy--What becomes of it--My father, very warm, writes a
sermon to cool himself--I join O'Brien's brig, and fall in with
Swinburne.


On that day week I accompanied my father to Eagle Park, to assist at the
burial of Lord Privilege. We were ushered into the room where the body
had laid in state for three days. The black hangings, the lofty plumes,
the rich ornaments on the coffin, and the number of wax candles with
which the room was lighted, produced a solemn and grand effect. I could
not help, as I leaned against the balustrade before the coffin and
thought of its contents, calling to mind when my poor grandfather's
feelings seemed, as it were, inclined to thaw in my favour, when he
called me "his child," and, in all probability, had not my uncle had a
son, would have died in my arms, fond and attached to me for my own
sake, independently of worldly considerations. I felt that had I known
him longer, I could have loved him, and that he would have loved me; and
I thought to myself, how little all these empty honours, after his
decease, could compensate for the loss of those reciprocal feelings,
which would have so added to his happiness during his existence. But he
had lived for pomp and vanity; and pomp and vanity attended him to his
grave. I thought of my sister Ellen, and of O'Brien, and walked away
with the conviction that Peter Simple might have been an object of envy
to the late Right Honourable Lord Viscount Privilege, Baron Corston,
Lord Lieutenant of the county, and one of His Majesty's Most Honourable
Privy Councillors.

When the funeral, which was very tedious and very splendid, was over, we
all returned in the carriages to Eagle Park, when my uncle, who had of
course assumed the title, and who had attended as chief mourner, was in
waiting to receive us. We were shown into the library, and in the chair
so lately and constantly occupied by my grandfather, sat the new lord.
Near to him were the lawyers, with parchments lying before them. As we
severally entered, he waved his hand to unoccupied chairs, intimating to
us to sit down; but no words were exchanged, except an occasional
whisper between him and the lawyers. When all the branches of the family
were present, down to the fourth and fifth cousins, the lawyer on the
right of my uncle put on his spectacles, and unrolling the parchment
commenced reading the will. I paid attention to it at first; but the
legal technicalities puzzled me, and I was soon thinking of other
matters, until after half an hour's reading, I was startled at the sound
of my own name. It was a bequest by codicil to me, of the sum of ten
thousand pounds. My father who sat by me, gave me a slight push, to
attract my attention; and I perceived that his face was not quite so
mournful as before. I was rejoicing at this unexpected intelligence. I
called to mind what my father had said to me when we were returning from
Eagle Park, "that my grandfather's attentions to me were as good as ten
thousand pounds in his will," and was reflecting how strange it was that
he had hit upon the exact sum. I also thought of what my father had said
of his own affairs, and his not having saved anything for his children,
and congratulated myself that I should now be able to support my dear
sister Ellen, in case of any accident happening to my father, when I was
roused by another mention of my name. It was a codicil dated about a
week back, in which my grandfather, not pleased at my conduct, revoked
the former codicil, and left me nothing. I knew where the blow came
from, and I looked my uncle in the face; a gleam of malignant pleasure
was in his eyes, which had been fixed on me, waiting to receive my
glance. I returned it with a smile expressive of scorn and contempt, and
then looked at my father, who appeared to be in a state of misery. His
head had fallen upon his breast, and his hands were clasped. Although I
was shocked at the blow, for I knew how much the money was required, I
felt too proud to show it; indeed, I felt that I would not for worlds
have exchanged situations with my uncle, much less feelings; for when
those who remain meet to ascertain the disposition made, by one who is
summoned away to the tribunal of his Maker, of those worldly and
perishable things which he must leave behind him, feelings of rancour
and ill-will might, for the time, be permitted to subside, and the
memory of a "departed brother" be productive of charity and good-will.
After a little reflection, I felt that I could forgive my uncle.

Not so my father; the codicil which deprived me of my inheritance, was
the last of the will, and the lawyer rolled up the parchment and took
off his spectacles. Everybody rose; my father seized his hat, and
telling me in a harsh voice to follow him, tore off the crape weepers,
and then threw them on the floor as he walked away. I also took off
mine, and laid them on the table, and followed him. My father called his
carriage, waited in the hall till it was driven up, and jumped into it.
I followed him; he drew up the blind, and desired them to drive home.

"Not a sixpence! By the God of heaven, not a sixpence! My name not even
mentioned, except for a paltry mourning ring! And yours--pray sir, what
have you been about, after having such a sum left you, to forfeit your
grandfather's good opinion? Heh! sir--tell me directly," continued he,
turning round to me in a rage.

"Nothing, my dear father, that I'm aware of. My uncle is evidently my
enemy."

"And why should he be particularly your enemy? Peter, there must be some
reason for his having induced your grandfather to alter his bequest in
your favour. I insist upon it, sir, that you tell me immediately."

"My dear father, when you are more calm, I will talk this matter over
with you. I hope I shall not be considered wanting in respect, when I
say, that as a clergyman of the church of England--"

"D--n the church of England, and those that put me into it!" replied my
father, maddened with rage.

I was shocked, and held my tongue. My father appeared also to be
confused at his hasty expressions. He sank back in his carriage, and
preserved a gloomy silence until we arrived at our own door. As soon as
we entered, my father hastened to his own room, and I went up to my
sister Ellen, who was in her bed room. I revealed to her all that had
passed, and advised with her on the propriety of my communicating to my
father the reasons which had occasioned my uncle's extreme aversion
towards me. After much argument, she agreed with me, that the disclosure
had now become necessary.

After the dinner-cloth had been removed, I then communicated to my
father the circumstances which had come to our knowledge relative to my
uncle's establishment in Ireland. He heard me very attentively, took out
tablets, and made notes.

"Well, Peter," said he, after a few minutes' silence, when I had
finished, "I see clearly through this whole business. I have no doubt
but that a child has been substituted to defraud you and me of our just
inheritance of the title and estates; but I will now set to work and try
if I cannot find out the secret; and, with the help of Captain O'Brien
and Father M'Grath, I think it is not at all impossible."

"O'Brien will do all that he can, sir," replied I; "and I expect soon to
hear from him. He must have now been a week in Ireland."

"I shall go there myself," replied my father; "and there are no means
that I will not resort to, to discover this infamous plot. No,"
exclaimed he, striking his fist on the table, so as to shiver two of the
wine-glasses into fragments--"no means but I will resort to."

"That is," replied I, "my dear father, no means which may be
legitimately employed by one of your profession."

"I tell you, no means that can be used by _man_ to recover his defrauded
rights! Tell me not of legitimate means, when I am to lose a title and
property by a spurious and illegitimate substitution! By the God of
heaven, I will meet them with fraud for fraud, with false swearing for
false swearing, and with blood for blood, if it should be necessary! My
brother has dissolved all ties, and I will have my right, even if I
demand it with a pistol at his ear."

"For Heaven's sake, my dear father, do not be so violent--recollect your
profession."

"I do," replied he, bitterly; "and how I was forced into it against my
will. I recollect my father's words, the solemn coolness with which he
told me, 'I had my choice of the church, or--to starve.'--But I have my
sermon to prepare for to-morrow, and I can sit here no longer. Tell
Ellen to send me in some tea."

I did not think my father was in a very fit state of mind to write a
sermon, but I held my tongue. My sister joined me, and we saw no more of
him till breakfast the next day. Before we met, I received a letter from
O'Brien.

  "MY DEAR PETER,--I ran down to Plymouth, hoisted my pennant, drew my
  jollies from the dockyard, and set my first lieutenant to work getting
  in the ballast and water-tanks. I then set off for Ireland, and was
  very well received as Captain O'Brien by my family, who were all
  flourishing.

  "Now that my two sisters are so well married off, my father and mother
  are very comfortable, but rather lonely; for I believe I told you long
  before, that it had pleased Heaven to take all the rest of my brothers
  and sisters, except the two now married, and one who bore up for a
  nunnery, dedicating her service to God, after she was scarred with the
  small-pox, and no man would look at her. Ever since the family have
  been grown up, my father and mother have been lamenting and sorrowing
  that none of them would go off; and now that they're all gone off one
  way or another, they cry all day because they are left all alone with
  no one to keep company with them, except Father M'Grath and the pigs.
  We never are to be contented in this world, that's sartain; and now
  that they are comfortable in every respect, they find that they are
  very uncomfortable, and having obtained all their wishes, they wish
  everything back again; but as old Maddocks used to say, 'A good growl
  is better than a bad dinner' with some people; and the greatest
  pleasure that they now have is to grumble; and if that makes them
  happy, they must be happy all day long--for the devil a bit do they
  leave off from morning till night.

  "The first thing that I did was to send for Father M'Grath, who had
  been more away from home than usual--I presume, not finding things
  quite so comfortable as they used to be. He told me that he had met
  with Father O'Toole, and had a bit of a dialogue with him, which had
  ended in a bit of a row, and that he had cudgelled Father O'Toole
  well, and tore his gown off his back, and then tore it into shivers,--
  that Father O'Toole had referred the case to the bishop, and that was
  how the matter stood just then. 'But,' says he, 'the spalpeen has left
  this part of the country, and, what is more, has taken Ella and her
  mother with him; and what is still worse, no one could find out where
  they were gone; but it was believed that they had all been sent over
  the water.' So you see, Peter, that this is a bad job in one point,
  which is, that we have no chance of getting the truth out of the old
  woman; for now that we have war with France, who is to follow them? On
  the other hand, it is good news; for it prevents me from decoying that
  poor young girl, and making her believe what will never come to pass;
  and I am not a little glad on that score, for Father M'Grath was told
  by those who were about her, that she did nothing but weep and moan
  for two days before she went away, scolded as she was by her mother,
  and threatened by that blackguard O'Toole. It appears to me, that all
  our hopes now are in finding out the soldier, and his wife the
  wet-nurse, who were sent to India--no doubt with the hope that the
  climate and the fevers may carry them off. That uncle of yours is a
  great blackguard, every bit of him. I shall leave here in three days,
  and you must join me at Plymouth. Make my compliments to your father,
  and my regards to your sister, whom may all the saints preserve! God
  bless her, for ever and ever. Amen.

  "Yours ever,

  "TERENCE O'BRIEN."

I put this letter into my father's hands when he came out of his room.
"This is a deep-laid plot," said he, "and I think we must immediately do
as O'Brien states--look after the nurse who was sent to India. Do you
know the regiment to which her husband belongs?"

"Yes, sir," replied I; "it is the 33rd, and she sailed for India about
three months back."

"The name, you say, I think, is O'Sullivan," said he, pulling out his
tablets. "Well, I will write immediately to Captain Fielding, and beg
him to make the minutest inquiries. I will also write to your sister
Lucy, for women are much keener than men in affairs of this sort. If the
regiment is ordered to Ceylon, all the better: if not, he must obtain
furlough to prosecute his inquiries. When that is done, I will go myself
to Ireland, and try if we cannot trace the other parties."

My father then left the room, and I retired with Ellen to make
preparations for joining my ship at Plymouth. A letter announcing my
appointment had come down, and I had written to request my commission to
be forwarded to the clerk of the cheque at Plymouth, that I might save a
useless journey to London. On the following day I parted with my father
and my dear sister, and, without any adventure, arrived at Plymouth
Dock, where I met with O'Brien. The same day I reported myself to the
admiral, and joined my brig, which was lying alongside the hulk with her
topmasts pointed through. Returning from the brig, as I was walking up
Fore-street, I observed a fine stout sailor, whose back was turned to
me, reading the handbill which had been posted up everywhere announcing
that the _Rattlesnake_, Captain O'Brien (about to proceed to the West
India station, where _doubloons_ were so plentiful that dollars were
only used for ballast), was in want of a _few_ stout hands. It might
have been said, of a great many: for we had not entered six men, and
were doing all the work with the marines and riggers of the dockyard;
but it is not the custom to show your poverty in this world either with
regard to men or money. I stopped, and overheard him say, "Ay, as for
the doubloons, that cock won't fight. I've served long enough in the
West Indies not to be humbugged; but I wonder whether Captain O'Brien
was the second lieutenant of the _Sanglier_. If so, I shouldn't mind
trying a cruise with him." I thought that I recollected the voice, and
touching him on the shoulder, he turned round, and it proved to be
Swinburne. "What, Swinburne!" said I, shaking him by the hand, for I was
delighted to see him, "is it you?"

"Why, Mr Simple! Well, then, I expect that I'm right, and that Mr
O'Brien is made, and commands this craft. When you meet the pilot-fish,
the shark arn't far off, you know."

"You're very right, Swinburne," said I, "in all except calling Captain
O'Brien a shark. He's no shark."

"No, that he arn't, except in one way; that is, that I expect he'll soon
show his teeth to the Frenchmen. But I beg your pardon, sir;" and
Swinburne took off his hat.

"Oh! I understand; you did not perceive before that I had shipped the
swab. Yes, I'm lieutenant of the _Rattlesnake_, Swinburne, and hope
you'll join us."

"There's my hand upon it, Mr Simple," said he, smacking his great fist
into mine so as to make it tingle. "I'm content if I know that the
captain's a good officer; but when there's two, I think myself lucky.
I'll just take a boat, and put my name on the books, and then I'll be on
shore again to spend the rest of my money, and try if I can't pick up a
few hands as volunteers, for I know where they all be stowed away. I was
looking at the craft this morning, and rather took a fancy to her. She
has a d--d pretty run; but I hope Captain O'Brien will take off her
fiddle-head, and get one carved: I never knew a vessel do much with a
_fiddle_-head."

"I rather think that Captain O'Brien has already applied to the
Commissioner on the subject," replied I; "at all events, it won't be
very difficult to make the alteration ourselves."

"To be sure not," replied Swinburne; "a coil of four-inch will make the
body of the snake; I can carve out the head; and as for a _rattle_, I be
blessed if I don't rob one of those beggars of watchmen this very night.
So good-bye, Mr Simple, till we meet again."

Swinburne kept his word; he joined the ship that afternoon, and the next
day came off with six good hands, who had been induced from his
representations to join the brig. "Tell Captain O'Brien," said he to me,
"not to be in too great a hurry to man his ship. I know where there are
plenty to be had; but I'll try fair means first." This he did, and every
day, almost, he brought off a man, and all he did bring off were good
able seamen. Others volunteered, and we were now more than half-manned,
and ready for sea. The admiral then gave us permission to send
pressgangs on shore.

"Mr Simple," said Swinburne, "I've tried all I can to persuade a lot of
fine chaps to enter, but they won't. Now I'm resolved that my brig shall
be well manned; and if they don't know what's good for them, I do, and
I'm sure that they will thank me for it afterwards; so I'm determined to
take every mother's son of them."

The same night we mustered all Swinburne's men and went on shore to a
crimp's house which they knew, surrounded it with our marines in blue
jackets, and took out of it twenty-three fine able seamen, which nearly
filled up our complement. The remainder we obtained by a draft from the
admiral's ship; and I do not believe that there was a vessel that left
Plymouth harbour and anchored in the Sound, better manned than the
_Rattlesnake_. So much for good character, which is never lost upon
seamen O'Brien was universally liked by those who had sailed with him,
and Swinburne, who knew him well persuaded many, and forced the others,
to enter with him, whether they liked it or not. This they in the event
did, and, with the exception of those drafted from the flag-ship, we had
no desertions. Indeed, none deserted whom we would have wished to
retain, and their vacancies were soon filled up with better men.



Chapter XLII

We sail for the West Indies--A volunteer for the ship refused and set on
shore again, for reasons which the chapter will satisfactorily explain
to the reader.


We were very glad when the master-attendant came on board to take us
into the Sound; and still more glad to perceive that the brig, which had
just been launched before O'Brien was appointed to her, appeared to sail
very fast as she ran out. So it proved after we went to sea; she sailed
wonderfully well, beating every vessel that she met, and overhauling in
a very short time everything that we chased; turning to windward like
magic, and tacking in a moment. Three days after we anchored in the
Sound the ship's company were paid, and our sailing orders came down to
proceed with despatches, by next evening's post, to the island of
Jamaica. We started with a fair wind, and were soon clear of the
channel. Our whole time was now occupied in training our new ship's
company at the guns, and learning them _to pull together;_ and by the
time that we had run down the trades, we were in a very fair state of
discipline. The first lieutenant was rather an odd character; his
brother was a sporting man of large property, and he had contracted,
from his example, a great partiality for such pursuits. He knew the
winning horses of the Derby and the Oaks for twenty years back, was an
adept at all athletic exercises, a capital shot, and had his pointer on
board. In other respects, he was a great dandy in his person, always
wore gloves, even on service, very gentlemanlike and handsome, and not a
very bad sailor; that is, he knew enough to carry on his duty very
creditably, and evidently, now that he was the first lieutenant, and
obliged to work, learnt more of his duty every day. I never met a more
pleasant messmate or a more honourable young man. A brig is only allowed
two lieutenants. The master was a rough, kind-hearted, intelligent young
man, always in good humour. The surgeon and purser completed our mess;
they were men of no character at all, except, perhaps, that the surgeon
was too much of a courtier, and the purser too much of a skin-flint; but
pursers are, generally speaking, more sinned against than sinning.

But I have been led away, while talking of the brig and the officers,
and had almost forgotten to narrate a circumstance which occurred two
days before we sailed. I was with O'Brien in the cabin, when Mr
Osbaldistone, the first lieutenant, came in, and reported that a boy had
come on board to volunteer for the ship.

"What sort of a lad is he?" said O'Brien.

"A very nice lad--very slight, sir," replied the first lieutenant. "We
have two vacancies."

"Well, see what you make of him; and if you think he will do, you may
put him on the books."

"I have tried him, sir. He says that he has been a short time at sea. I
made him mount the main-rigging, but he did not much like it."

"Well, do as you please, Osbaldistone," replied O'Brien; and the first
lieutenant quitted the cabin.

In about a quarter of an hour he returned. "If you please, sir," said
he, laughing, "I sent the boy down to the surgeon to be examined, and he
refused to strip. The surgeon says that he thinks she is a woman. I have
had her up on the quarter-deck, and she refuses to answer any questions,
and requires to speak with you."

"With me!" said O'Brien, with surprise. "Oh! one of the men's wives, I
suppose, trying to steal a march upon us. Well, send her down here,
Osbaldistone, and I'll prove to her the moral impossibility of her
sailing in his Majesty's brig _Rattlesnake_."

In a few minutes the first lieutenant sent her down to the cabin door,
and I was about to retire as she entered; but O'Brien stopped me. "Stay,
Peter: my reputation will be at stake if I'm left all alone," said he,
laughing.

The sentry opened the door, and whether boy or girl, a more interesting
face I never beheld; the hair was cut close, and I could not tell
whether the surgeon's suspicions were correct.

"You wish to speak--holy St Patrick!" cried O'Brien, looking earnestly
at her features; and O'Brien covered his face and bent over the table,
exclaiming, "My God, my God!"

In the meantime the colour of the young person fled from her
countenance, and then rushed into it again, alternately leaving it pale
and suffused with blushes. I perceived a trembling over the frame, the
knees shook and knocked together, and had I not hastened, she--for a
female it was--would have fallen on the deck. I perceived that she had
fainted; I therefore laid her down on the deck, and hastened to obtain
some water. O'Brien ran up and went to her.

"My poor, poor girl!" said he, sorrowfully. "Oh! Peter, this is all your
fault."

"All my fault! how could she have come here?"

"By all the saints who pray for us--dearly as I prize them, I would give
up my ship and my commission, that this could be undone."

As O'Brien hung over her, the tears from his eyes fell upon her face,
while I bathed it with the water I had brought from the dressing-room. I
knew who it must be, although I had never seen her. It was the girl to
whom O'Brien had professed love, to worm out the secret of the exchange
of my uncle's child; and as I beheld the scene I could not help saying
to myself, "Who now will assert that evil may be done that good may
come?" The poor girl showed symptoms of recovering, and O'Brien waved
his hand to me, saying, "Leave us, Peter, and see that no one comes in."

I remained nearly an hour at the cabin-door, by the sentry, and
prevented many from entering, when O'Brien opened the door, and
requested me to order his gig to be manned and then to come in. The poor
girl had evidently been weeping bitterly, and O'Brien was much affected.

"All is arranged, Peter; you must go on shore with her, and not leave
her till you see her safe off by the night coach. Do me that favour,
Peter--you ought indeed," continued he, in a low voice, "for you have
been partly the occasion of this."

I shook O'Brien's hand and made no answer--the boat was reported ready,
and the girl followed me with a firm step. I pulled on shore, saw her
safe in the coach without asking her any question, and then returned on
board.

"Come on board, sir," said I, entering the cabin with my hat in my hand,
and reporting myself according to the regulations of the service.

"Thank you," replied O'Brien: "shut the door, Peter. Tell me, how did
she behave? What did she say?"

"She never spoke, and I never asked her a question. She seemed to be
willing to do as you had arranged."

"Sit down, Peter. I never felt more unhappy, or more disgusted with
myself in all my life. I feel as if I never could be happy again. A
sailor's life mixes him up with the worst part of the female sex, and we
do not know the real value of the better. I little thought when I was
talking nonsense to that poor girl, that I was breaking one of the
kindest hearts in the world, and sacrificing the happiness of one who
would lay down her existence for me, Peter. Since you have been gone,
it's twenty times that I've looked in the glass just to see whether I
don't look like a villain. But, by the blood of St Patrick! I thought
woman's _love_ was just like our own, and that a three months' cruise
would set all to rights again."

"I thought she had gone over to France."

"So did I; but now she has told me all about it. Father M'Dermot[1] and
her mother brought her down to the coast near here to embark in a
smuggling boat for Dieppe. When the boat pulled in-shore in the night to
take them in, the mother and the rascally priest got in, but she felt as
if it was leaving the whole world to leave the country I was in, and she
held back. The officers came down, one or two pistols were fired, and
the boat shoved off without her, and she, with their luggage, was left
on the beach. She went back to the next town with the officers, where
she told the truth of the story, and they let her go. In Father
M'Dermot's luggage she found letters, which she read, and found out that
she and her mother were to have been placed in a convent at Dieppe; and,
as the convent was named in the letters,--which she says are very
important, but I have not had courage to read them yet,--she went to
the people from whose house they had embarked, requesting them to
forward the luggage and a letter to her mother--sending everything but
the letters, which she reserved for me. She has since received a letter
from her mother, telling her that she is safe and well in the convent,
and begging her to come over to her as soon as possible. The mother took
the vows a week after she arrived there, so we know where to find her,
Peter."

"And where is the poor girl going to stay now, O'Brien?"

"That's all the worst part of it. It appears that she hoped not to be
found out till after we had sailed, and then to have, as she said, poor
thing! to have laid at my feet and watched over me in the storms; but I
pointed out to her that it was not permitted, and that I would not be
allowed to marry her. O Peter! this is a very sad business," continued
O'Brien, passing his hand across his eyes.

"Well, but, O'Brien, what is to become of the poor girl?"

"She is going home to be with my father and mother, hoping one day that
I shall come back and marry her. I have written to Father M'Grath, to
see what he can do."

"Have you then not undeceived her?"

"Father M'Grath must do that, I could not. It would have been the death
of her. It would have stabbed her to the heart, and it's not for me to
give that blow. I'd sooner have died--sooner have married her, than have
done it, Peter. Perhaps when I'm far away she'll bear it better. Father
M'Grath will manage it."

"O'Brien, I don't like that Father M'Grath."

"Well, Peter, you may be right; I don't exactly like all he says myself;
but what is a man to do?--either he is a Catholic, and believes as a
Catholic, or he is not one. Will I abandon my religion, now that it is
persecuted? Never, Peter: I hope not, without I find a much better, at
all events. Still I do not like to feel that this advice of my confessor
is at variance with my own conscience. Father M'Grath is a worldly man;
but that only proves that he is wrong, not that our religion is--and I
don't mind speaking to you on this subject. No one knows that I'm a
Catholic except yourself: and at the Admiralty they never asked me to
take that oath which I never would have taken, although Father M'Grath
says I may take any oath I please with what he calls heretics, and he
will grant me absolution. Peter, my dear fellow, say no more about it."

I did not; but I may as well end the history of poor Ella Flanagan at
once, as she will not appear again. About three months afterwards, we
received a letter from Father M'Grath, stating that the girl had arrived
safe, and had been a great comfort to O'Brien's father and mother, who
wished her to remain with them altogether; that Father M'Grath, had told
her that when a man took his commission as captain it was all the same
as going into a monastery as a monk, for he never could marry. The poor
girl believed him, and thinking that O'Brien was lost to her for ever,
with the advice of Father M'Grath, had entered as a nun in one of the
religious houses in Ireland, that, as she said, she might pray for him
night and day.

Many years afterwards, we heard of her--she was well, and not unhappy;
but O'Brien never forgot his behaviour to this poor girl. It was a
source of continual regret; and I believe, until the last day of his
existence, his heart smote him for his inconsiderate conduct towards
her. But I must leave this distressing topic, and return to the
_Rattlesnake_, which had now arrived at the West Indies, and joined the
Admiral at Jamaica.

[Footnote 1: The worthy priest formerly called Father O'Toole.--ED.]



Chapter XLIII

Description of the Coast of Martinique--Popped at for peeping--No
heroism in making oneself a target--Board a miniature Noah's Ark, under
Yankee colours--Capture a French slaver--Parrot soup in lieu of mock
turtle.


We found orders at Barbadoes to cruise off Martinique, to prevent
supplies being furnished to the garrison of the island, and we proceeded
there immediately. I do not know anything more picturesque than running
down the east side of this beautiful island--the ridges of hill
spreading down to the water's edge, covered with the freshest verdure,
divided at the base by small bays, with the beach of dazzling white
sand, and where the little coasting vessels employed to bring the sugar
from the neighbouring estates were riding at anchor. Each hill, at its
adjutment towards the sea, crowned with a fort, on which waved the
tri-colour--certainly, in appearance, one of the most war-like flags in
the world.

On the third morning we had rounded the Diamond Rock, and were scudding
along the lee-side of the island just opening Fort Royal bay, when
hauling rather too close round its eastern entrance, formed by a
promontory called Solomon's Point, which was covered with brush-wood, we
found ourselves nearer than agreeable to a newly constructed battery. A
column of smoke was poured along the blue water, and it was followed by
the whizzing of a shot, which passed through our boom main sail, first
cutting away the dog-vane, which was close to old Swinburne's head, as
he stood on the carronade, conning the brig. I was at dinner in the
cabin with O'Brien and the first lieutenant.

"Where the devil have they got the brig now?" said O'Brien, rising from
his chair, and going on deck.

We both followed; but before we were on deck, three or four more shot
passed between the masts. "If you please, sir," said the master's mate
in charge of the deck, whose name was O'Farrell, "the battery has opened
upon us."

"Thank you very much for your information, Mr O'Farrell," replied
O'Brien; "but the French have reported it before you. May I ask if
you've any particular fancy to be made a target of, or if you think that
His Majesty's brig _Rattlesnake_ was sent here to be riddled for nothing
at all? Starboard the helm, quartermaster."

The helm was put up, and the brig was soon run out of the fire; not,
however, until a few more shot were pitched close to us, and one carried
away the foretopmast backstay.

"Now, Mr O'Farrell," replied O'Brien, "I only wish to point out to you
that I trust neither I nor any one in this ship cares a fig about the
whizzing of a shot or two about our ears when there is anything to be
gained for it, either for ourselves or for our country; but I do care a
great deal about losing even the leg or the arm, much more the life of
any of my men, when there's no occasion for it; so, in future, recollect
it's no disgrace to keep out of the way of a battery when all the
advantage is on their side. I've always observed that chance shots pick
out the best men. Lower down the mainsail, and send the sailmakers aft
to repair it."

When O'Brien returned to the cabin I remained on deck, for it was my
afternoon watch; and although O'Farrell had permission to look out for
me, I did not choose to go down again. The bay of Fort Royal was now
opened, and the view was extremely beautiful. Swinburne was still on the
carronade; and as I knew he had been there before, I applied to him for
information as to the _locale_. He told me the names of the batteries
above the town, pointed out Fort Edward and Negro Point, and
particularly Pigeon Island, the battery at the top of which wore the
appearance of a mural crown.

"It's well I remember that place, Mr Simple," said he. "It was in '94
when I was last here. The sodgers had 'sieged it for a whole month, and
were about to give it up, 'cause they couldn't get a gun up on that 'ere
hill you see there. So poor Captain Faulkner says, 'There's many a clear
head under a tarpaulin hat, and I'll give any chap five doubloons that
will hitch up a twenty-four pounder to the top of that hill.' Not quite
so easy a matter, as you may perceive from here, Mr Simple."

"It certainly appears to me to have been almost impossible, Swinburne,"
replied I.

"And so it did to most of us, Mr Simple; but there was one Dick Smith,
mate of a transport, who had come on shore, and he steps out, saying,
'I've been looking at your men handling that gun, and my opinion is,
that if you gets a butt, crams in a carronade, well woulded up, and fill
it with old junk and rope yarns, you might parbuckle it up to the very
top.' So Captain Faulkner pulls out five doubloons, and gives them to
him, saying, 'You deserve the money for the hint, even if it don't
succeed.' But it did succeed, Mr Simple; and the next day, to their
surprise, we opened fire on the French beggars, and soon brought their
boasting down. One of the French officers, after he was taken prisoner,
axed me how we had managed to get the gun up there; but I wasn't going
to blow the gaff, so I told him, as a great secret, that we got it up
with a kite, upon which he opened all his eyes, and crying '_sacre
bleu!_' walked away, believing all I said was true; but a'n't that a
sail we have opened with the point, Mr Simple?"

It was so, and I reported it to O'Brien, who came up and gave chase. In
half an hour we were alongside of her, when she hoisted American
colours, and proved to be a brigantine laden up to her gunwale, which
was not above a foot out of the water. Her cargo consisted of what the
Americans called _notions_; that is, in English, an assorted cargo.
Half-way up her masts down to the deck were hung up baskets containing
apples, potatoes, onions, and nuts of various kinds. Her deck was
crowded with cattle, sheep, pigs, and donkeys. Below was full of
shingle, lumber, and a variety of different articles too numerous to
mention. I boarded her, and asked the master whither he was bound?

"Why," replied he, "I am bound for a market--nowise particular; and I
guess you won't stop me."

"Not if all's right," replied I; "but I must look at your log."

"Well, I've a notion there's no great objection to that," replied he;
and he brought it up on deck.

I had no great time to examine it, but I could not help being amused at
the little I did read, such as--"Horse latitudes--water very short--
killed white-faced bullock--caught a dolphin, and ate him for dinner--
broached molasses cask No. I, letter A. Fine night--saw little round
things floating on the water--took up a bucket full--guessed they were
pearls--judge I guessed wrong, only little Portuguese men-of-war--threw
them overboard again--heard a scream, guessed it was a mermaid--looked
out, saw nothing. Witnessed a very strange rippling ahead--calculated it
might be the sea-serpent--stood on to see him plain, and nearly ran on
Barbuda. Hauled off again--met a Britisher--treated _politely_."

Having overhauled his log, I then begged to overhaul his men to
ascertain if there were any Englishmen among his crew. This was not
pleasing, and he grumbled very much; but they were ordered aft. One man
I was satisfied was an Englishman, and told him so; but the man as well
as the master persisted to the contrary. Nevertheless, I resolved to
take him on board for O'Brien to decide, and ordered him into the boat.

"Well, if you will use force, I can't help it. My decks an't clear as
you see, or else--I tell you what, Mr Lieutenant, your vessel there will
be another _Hermione_, I've a notion, if you presses true-blooded
Yankees; and, what's more, the States will take it up, as sure as
there's snakes in Virginny."

Notwithstanding this remonstrance, I took them on board to O'Brien, who
had a long conversation with the American in the cabin. When they
returned on deck he was allowed to depart with his man, and we again
made sail. I had the first watch that night, and as we ran along the
coast I perceived a vessel under the high land in what the sailors
called the _doldrums_; that is, almost becalmed, or her sails flapping
about in every direction with the eddying winds. We steered for her, and
were very soon in the same situation, not more than a quarter of a mile
from her. The quarter-boat was lowered down, and I proceeded to board
her; but as she was large and rakish, O'Brien desired me to be careful,
and if there was the least show of resistance to return. As I pulled up
to her bows they hailed me in French, and desired me to keep off, or
they would fire. This was quite sufficient; and, in obedience to my
orders, I returned to the brig and reported to O'Brien. We lowered down
all the quarter-boats, and towed round the brig's broadside to her, and
then gave her half a dozen carronades of round and grape. Hearing great
noise and confusion on board after we had ceased firing, O'Brien again
sent me to know if they had surrendered. They replied in the
affirmative, and I boarded her. She proved to be the _Commerce de
Bordeaux_, with three hundred and thirty slaves on board, out of five
hundred embarked from the coast, bound to Martinique. The crew were very
sickly, and were most of them in their hammocks. Latterly, they had been
killing parrots to make soup for them; a few that were left, of the grey
species, spoke remarkably well. When they left the coast they had nearly
one thousand parrots on board.

O'Brien perceiving that I had taken possession, sent another boat to
know what the vessel was. I desired the surgeon to be sent on board, as
some of the men and many of the poor slaves were wounded by our shot. Of
all the miserable objects, I know of none to be compared to the poor
devils of slaves on board of a slave vessel: the state of suffocation
between decks--the dreadful stench arising from their filth, which is
hardly ever cleared away--the sick lying without help, and looked upon
by those who are stronger with the utmost indifference--men, women, and
children, all huddled and crowded together in a state of nudity, worn to
skin and bone from stench, starvation, and living in an atmosphere that
none but a negro could exist in. If all that occurs in a slave-ship were
really known, I think it would be acknowledged that to make the
slave-trade piracy would be nothing more than a just retribution; and
this is certain, that unless it be made piracy, it never will be
discontinued.

By daylight the vessel was ready, and O'Brien determined to take her to
Dominica, so that the poor devils might be immediately sent on shore. We
anchored with her, in a few days, in Prince Rupert's Bay, where we only
had twenty-four hours to obtain some refreshments and arrange about our
prize, which I hardly need say was of some value.

During the short time that I was on shore, purchasing some fowls and
vegetables for O'Brien and our own mess, I was amused at witnessing a
black serjeant drilling some of his regiment of free negroes and
mulattoes. He appeared resolved to make the best appearance that he
could, for he began by saying, "You hab shoe and 'tocking, stand in
front--you hab shoe no 'tocking, stand in centre--you hab no shoe no
'tocking, stand in um rear. Face to mountain--back to sea-beach. Why you
no 'tep out, sar?--you hangman!"

I was curious to count the numbers qualified for the front rank: there
were only two mulattoes. In the second rank there were also only two. No
shoe and no 'tocking appeared to be the fashion. As usual, we were
surrounded by the negroes; and although we had been there but a few
hours, they had a song composed for us, which they constantly
repeated:--

    "Don't you see the _Rattlesnake_
      Coming under sail?
    Don't you see the _Rattlesnake_
      With prizes at um tail?--'
_Rattlesnake_ hab all the money--ding, ding--
She shall have all that's funny, ding, ding!"



Chapter XLIV

Money can purchase anything in the new country--American information not
always to be depended upon--A night attack; we are beaten off--It proves
a _cut up_, instead of a _cut out_--After all, we save something out of
the fire.


The next morning we weighed anchor, and returned to our station off
Martinique. We had run within three miles of St Pierre's when we
discovered a vessel coming out under jury-masts. She steered directly
for us, and we made her out to be the American brigantine which we had
boarded some time before. O'Brien sent a boat to bring the master of her
on board.

"Well, captain," said he, "so you met with a squall?"

"I calculate not," replied he.

"Why, then, what the devil have you been about?"

"Why, I guess I sold all my cargo, and, what's more, I've sold my
masts."

"Sold your masts! who did you sell them to?"

"To an almighty pretty French privateer lying in St Pierre's, which had
lost her spars when she was chased by one of your brass-bottomed
sarpents; and I've a notion they paid pretty handsomely too."

"But how do you mean to get home again?"

"I calculate to get into the _stream_, and then I'll do very well. If I
meet a nor-wester, why then I'll make a signal of distress, and some one
will tow me in, I guess."

"Well," replied O'Brien, "but step down into the cabin and take
something, captain."

"With particular pleasure," replied this strange mortal; and down they
went.

In about half an hour they returned on deck, and the boat took the
American on board. Soon afterwards, O'Brien desired Osbaldistone and
myself to step down into the cabin. The chart of the harbour of St
Pierre's lay on the table, and O'Brien said, "I have had a long
conversation with the American, and he states that the privateer is at
anchor in this spot" (pointing to a pencil-mark on the chart). "If so,
she is well out; and I see no difficulty in capturing her. You see that
she lays in four fathoms water, and so close under the outer battery,
that the guns could not be pointed down upon the boats. I have also
inquired if they keep a good look-out, and the American says that they
feel so secure that they keep no look-out at all; that the captain and
officers belonging to her are on shore all night, drinking, smoking, and
boasting of what they will do. Now the question is, whether this report
be correct. The American has been well-treated by us, and I see no
reason to doubt him; indeed, he gave the information voluntarily, as if
he wished to serve us."

I allowed Osbaldistone to speak first: he coincided with O'Brien. I did
not: the very circumstance of her requiring new masts made me doubt the
truth of his assertion as to where she lay; and if one part of his story
was false, why not the whole? O'Brien appeared struck with my argument,
and it was agreed that if the boats did go away, it should be for a
reconnoissance, and that the attempt should only be made, provided it
was found that the privateer laid in the same spot pointed out by the
American master. It was, however, decided that the reconnoissance should
take place that very night, as, allowing the privateer to be anchored on
the spot supposed, there was every probability that she would not remain
there, but haul further in, to take in her new masts. The news that an
expedition was at hand was soon circulated through the ship, and all the
men had taken their cutlasses from the capstern to get them ready for
action. The lighting boats' crews, without orders, were busy with their
boats, some cutting up old blankets to muffle the oars, other making new
grummets. The ship's company were as busy as bees, bustling and buzzing
about the decks, and reminding you of the agitation which takes place in
a hive previous to a swarm. At last, Osbaldistone came on deck, and
ordered the boats' crews to be piped away, and prepare for service. He
was to have the command of the expedition in the launch--I had charge of
the first cutter--O'Farrell of the second, and Swinburne had the charge
of the jolly-boat. At dusk, the head of the brig was again turned
towards St Pierre's, and we ran slowly in. At ten we hove-to, and about
eleven the boats were ordered to haul up, O'Brien repeating his orders
to Mr Osbaldistone, not to make the attempt if the privateer were found
to be anchored close to the town. The men were all mustered on the
quarter-deck, to ascertain if they had the distinguishing mark on their
jackets, that is, square patches of canvas sewed on the left arm, so
that we might recognize friend from foe--a very necessary precaution in
a night expedition; and then they were manned, and ordered to shove off.
The oars were dropped in the water, throwing out a phosphorescent light,
so common in that climate, and away we went. After an hour's pulling,
Osbaldistone lay on his oars in the launch, and we closed with him.

"We are now at the mouth of the harbour," said he, "and the most perfect
silence must be observed."

"At the mouth of the harbour, sir!" said Swinburne; "I reckon we are
more than half way in; we passed the point at least ten minutes ago, and
this is the second battery we are now abreast of."

To this Osbaldistone did not agree, nor indeed did I think that
Swinburne was right; but he persisted in it, and pointed out to us the
lights in the town, which were now all open to us, and which would not
be the case if we were only at the mouth of the harbour. Still we were
of a different opinion, and Swinburne, out of respect to his officers,
said no more.

We resumed our oars, pulling with the greatest caution; the night was
intensely dark, and we could distinguish nothing. After pulling ten
minutes more, we appeared to be close to the lights in the town; still
we could see no privateer or any other vessel. Again we lay upon our
oars, and held a consultation. Swinburne declared that if the privateer
laid where we supposed, we had passed her long ago; but while we were
debating, O'Farrell cried out, "I see her," and he was right--she was
not more than a cable's length from us. Without waiting for orders,
O'Farrell desired his men to give way, and dashed alongside of the
privateer. Before he was half-way on board of her, lights flew about in
every direction, and a dozen muskets were discharged. We had nothing to
do but to follow him, and in a few seconds we were all alongside of her;
but she was well prepared, and on the alert. Boarding nettings were
triced up all round, every gun had been depressed as much as possible,
and she appeared to be full of men. A scene of confusion and slaughter
now occurred, which I trust never again to witness. All our attempts to
get on board were unavailing; if we tried at a port, a dozen pikes
thrust us back; if we attempted the boarding nettings, we were thrown
down, killed or wounded, into the boats. From every port, and from the
decks of the privateer, the discharge of musketry was incessant. Pistols
were protruded and fired in our faces, while occasionally her carronades
went off, stunning us with their deafening noise, and rocking the boats
in the disturbed water, if they had no other effect. For ten minutes our
exertions never ceased; at last, with half our numbers lying killed and
wounded in the bottom of the boats, the men, worn out and dispirited at
their unavailing attempts, sat down most of them on the boats' thwarts,
loading their muskets, and discharging them into the ports. Osbaldistone
was among the wounded; and perceiving that he was not in the launch, of
whose crew not six remained, I called to Swinburne, who was alongside of
me, and desired him to tell the other boats to make the best of their
way out of the harbour. This was soon communicated to the survivors, who
would have continued the unequal contest to the last man, if I had not
given the order. The launch and second cutter shoved off--O'Farrell also
having fallen; and, as soon as they were clear of the privateer, and had
got their oars to pass, I proceeded to do the same, amidst the shouts
and yells of the Frenchmen, who now jumped on their gunwale and pelted
us with their musketry, cheering, and mocking us.

"Stop, sir," cried Swinburne, "we'll have a bit of revenge;" so saying,
he hauled-to the launch, and wending her bow to the privateer, directed
her carronade--which they had no idea that we had on board, as we had
not fired it--to where the Frenchmen were crowded the thickest.

"Stop one moment, Swinburne; put another dose of canister in." We did
so, and then discharged the gun, which had the most murderous effect,
bringing the major part of them down upon the deck. I feel convinced,
from the cries and groans which followed, that if we had had a few more
men, we might have returned and captured the privateer; but it was too
late. The batteries were all lighted up, and although they could not see
the boats, fired in the direction where they supposed us to be; for they
were aware, from the shouting on board the vessel, that we had been
beaten off. The launch had but six hands capable of taking an oar; the
first cutter had but four. In my own boat I had five. Swinburne had two
besides himself in the jolly-boat.

"This is a sorry business, sir," said Swinburne; "now, what's best to be
done? My idea is, that we had better put all the wounded men into the
launch, man the two cutters and jolly-boat, and tow her off. And, Mr
Simple, instead of keeping on this side, as they will expect in the
batteries, let us keep close in-shore, upon the near side, and their
shot will pass over us."

This advice was too good not to be followed. It was now two o'clock, and
we had a long pull before us, and no time to lose: we lifted the dead
bodies and the wounded men out of the two cutters and jolly-boat into
the launch. I had no time for examination, but I perceived that
O'Farrell was quite dead, and also a youngster of the name of Pepper,
who must have smuggled himself into the boats. I did, however, look for
Osbaldistone, and found him in the stern sheets of the launch. He had
received a deep wound in the breast, apparently with a pike. He was
sensible, and asked me for a little water, which I procured from the
breaker which was in the launch, and gave it to him. At the word water,
and hearing it poured out from the breaker, many of the wounded men
faintly called out for some. Having no time to spare, I left two men in
the launch, one to steer and the other to give them water, and then
taking her in tow, pulled directly in for the batteries, as advised by
Swinburne, who now sat alongside of me.

As soon as we were well in-shore, I pulled out of the harbour, with
feelings not by any means enviable. Swinburne said to me in a low voice,
"This will be a hard blow for the captain, Mr Simple. I've always been
told, that a young captain losing his men without bringing any dollars
to his admiral, is not very well received."

"I am more sorry for him than I can well express, Swinburne," replied I;
"but--what is that a-head--a vessel under weigh?"

Swinburne stood up in the stern of the cutter, and looked for a few
seconds. "Yes, a large ship standing in under royals--she must be a
Frenchman. Now's our time, sir; so long as we don't go out empty-handed,
all will be well. Oars, all of you. Shall we cast off the launch, sir?"

"Yes," replied I; "and now, my lads, let us only have the vessel, and we
shall do. She is a merchantman, that's clear (not that I was sure of
it). Swinburne, I think it will be better to let her pass us in-shore;
they will all be looking out of the other side, for they must have seen
the firing."

"Well thought of, sir," replied Swinburne.

We laid on our oars, and let her pass us, which she did, creeping in at
the rate of two miles an hour. We then pulled for her quarter in the
three boats, leaving the launch behind us, and boarded. As we premised,
the crew were on deck, and all on the other side of the vessel, so
anxiously looking at the batteries, which were still firing occasional
random shot, that they did not perceive us until we were close to them,
and then they had no time to seize their arms. There were several ladies
on board; some of the people protected them, others ran below. In two
minutes we had possession of her, and had put her head the other way. To
our surprise we found that she mounted fourteen guns. One hatch we left
open for the ladies, some of whom had fainted, to be taken down below;
the others were fastened down by Swinburne. As soon as we had the deck
to ourselves, we manned one of the cutters, and sent it for the launch;
and as soon as she was made fast alongside, we had time to look about
us. The breeze freshened, and, in half an hour, we were out of gun-shot
of all the batteries. I then had the wounded men taken out of the
launch, and Swinburne and the other men bound up their wounds, and made
them as comfortable as they could.



Chapter XLV

Some remarkable occurrences take place in the letter of marque--Old
friends with improved faces--The captor a captive; but not carried away,
though the captive is, by the ship's boat--The whole chapter a mixture
of love, war, and merchandise.


We had had possession of the vessel about an hour, when the man who was
sentry over the hatchway told me that one or the prisoners wished to
speak with the English commanding officer, and asked leave to come on
deck. I gave permission, and a gentleman came up, stating that he was a
passenger; that the ship was a letter of marque, from Bordeaux; that
there were seven lady passengers on board, who had come out to join
their husbands and families; and that he trusted I would have no
objection to put them on shore, as women could hardly be considered as
objects of warfare. As I knew that O'Brien would have done so, and that
he would be glad to get rid of both women and prisoners if he could, I
replied "Most certainly;" that I would heave-to, that they might not
have so far to pull on shore, and that I would permit the ladies and
other passengers to go on shore. I begged that they would be as quick as
possible in getting their packages ready, and that I would give them two
of the boats belonging to the ship, with a sufficient number of French
seamen belonging to her to man the boats. The Frenchman was very
grateful, thanked me in the name of the ladies, and went down below to
impart the intelligence. I then hove-to, lowered down the boats from the
quarters, and waited for them to come up. It was daylight before they
were ready, but that I did not care about; I saw the brig in the offing
about seven miles off, and I was well clear of the batteries. At last
they made their appearance, one by one coming up the ladder, escorted by
French gentlemen. They had to wait while the packages and bundles were
put into the boats. The first sight which struck them with horror was
the many dead and wounded Englishmen lying on the decks. Expressing
their commiseration, I told them that we had attempted to take the
privateer, and had been repulsed, and that it was coming out of the
harbour that I had fallen in with their ship and captured it. All the
ladies had severally thanked me for my kindness in giving them their
liberty, except one, whose eyes were fixed upon the wounded men, when
the French gentleman went up to her, and reminded her that she had not
expressed her thanks to the commanding officer.

She turned round to me--I started back. I certainly had seen that face
before--I could not be mistaken; yet she had now grown up into a
beautiful young woman. "Celeste," said I, trembling. "Are you not
Celeste?"

"Yes," replied she, looking earnestly at me, as if she would discover
who I was, but which it was not very easy to do, begrimed as my face was
with dust and gunpowder.

"Have you forgotten Peter Simple?"

"Oh! no--no--never forgot you!" cried Celeste, bursting into tears, and
holding out her hands.

This scene occasioned no small astonishment to the parties on deck, who
could not comprehend it. She smiled through her tears, as I told her how
happy I was to have the means of being of service to her. "And where is
the colonel?" said I.

"There," replied she, pointing to the island; "he is now general, and
commands the force in the garrison. And where is Mr O'Brien?"
interrogated Celeste.

"There," replied I; "he commands that man-of-war, of which I am the
second lieutenant."

A rapid exchange of inquiries took place, and the boats were stopped
while we were in conversation. Swinburne reported that the brig was
standing in for us, and I felt that in justice to the wounded I could no
longer delay. Still I found time to press her hand, to thank her for the
purse she had given me when I was on the stilts, and to tell her that I
had never forgotten her, and never would. With many remembrances to her
father, I was handing her into the boat, when she said, "I don't know
whether I am right to ask it, but you could do me such a favour."

"What is it, Celeste?"

"You have allowed more than one-half of the men to pull us on shore;
some must remain, and they are so miserable--indeed it is hardly yet
decided which of them are to go. Could you let them all go?"

"That I will, for your sake, Celeste. As soon as your two boats have
shoved off, I will lower down the boat astern, and send the rest after
you; but I must make sail now--God bless you!"

The boats then shoved off, the passengers waving their handkerchiefs to
us, and I made sail for the brig. As soon as the stern-boat was
alongside, the rest of the crew were called up and put into her, and
followed their companions. I felt that O'Brien would not be angry with
me for letting them all go: and especially when I told him who begged
for them. The vessel's name was the _Victorine_, mounting fourteen guns,
and twenty-four men, with eleven passengers. She was chiefly laden with
silks and wine, and was a very valuable prize. Celeste had time to tell
me that her father had been four years in Martinique, and had left her
at home for her education; and that she was then coming out to join him.
The other ladies were all wives or daughters of officers of the French
garrison on the island, and the gentlemen passengers were some of them
French officers; but as this was told me in secrecy, of course I was not
bound to know it, as they were not in uniform.

As soon as we had closed with the brig, I hastened on board to O'Brien;
and as soon as a fresh supply of hands to man the boats, and the surgeon
had been despatched on board of the prize, to superintend the removal of
the wounded, I went down with him into the cabin, and narrated what had
occurred.

"Well," said O'Brien, "all's well that ends well; but this is not the
luckiest hit in the world. Your taking the ship has saved me, Peter; and
I must make as flourishing a despatch as I can. By the powers but it's
very lucky that she has fourteen guns--it sounds grand. I must muddle it
all up together, so that the admiral must think we intended to cut them
both out--and so we did, sure enough, if we had known she had been
there. But I am most anxious to hear the surgeon's report, and whether
poor Osbaldistone will do well. Peter, oblige me by going on board, and
put two marines sentry over the hatchway, so that no one goes down and
pulls the traps about; for I'll send on shore everything belonging to
the passengers, for Colonel O'Brien's sake."

The surgeon's report was made--six killed and sixteen wounded. The
killed were, O'Farren and Pepper, midshipmen, two seamen and two
marines. The first lieutenant, Osbaldistone, was severely wounded in
three places, but likely to do well; five other men were dangerously
wounded: the other ten would, in all probability, return to their duty
in less than a month. As soon as the wounded were on board, O'Brien
returned with me to the prize, and we went down into the cabin. All the
passengers' effects were collected; the trunks which had been left open
were nailed down: and O'Brien wrote a handsome letter to General
O'Brien, containing a list of the packages sent on shore. We sent the
launch with a flag of truce to the nearest battery; after some demur it
was accepted, and effects landed. We did not wait for an answer, but
made all sail to join the admiral at Barbadoes.

The next morning we buried those who had fallen. O'Farrell was a fine
young man, brave as a lion, but very hot in his temper. He would have
made a good officer had he been spared. Poor little Pepper was also much
regretted. He was but twelve years old. He had bribed the bowman of the
second cutter to allow him to conceal himself under the fore-sheets of
the boat. His day's allowance of spirits had purchased him this object
of his ambition, which ended so fatally. But as soon as the bodies had
disappeared under the wave, and the service was over, we all felt
happier. There is something very unpleasant, particularly to sailors, in
having a corpse on board.

We now sailed merrily along, the prize keeping company with us; and,
before we reached Barbadoes, most of the men were convalescent.
Osbaldistone's wounds, were, however, very severe; and he was
recommended to return home, which he did, and obtained his promotion as
soon as he arrived. He was a pleasant messmate, and I was sorry to lose
him; although, the lieutenant appointed in his room being junior to me,
I was promoted to be first lieutenant of the brig. Soon after
Osbaldistone went home, his brother broke his neck when hunting, and
Osbaldistone came into the property. He then quitted the service.

We found the admiral at Barbadoes, who received O'Brien and his despatch
very well. O'Brien had taken two good prizes, and that was sufficient to
cover a multitude of sins, even if he had committed any; but the
despatch was admirably written, and the admiral, in his letter to the
Admiralty, commented upon Captain O'Brien's successful and daring
attack; whereas, if the truth had been known, it was Swinburne's advice
of pulling up the weather shore, which was the occasion of our capturing
the _Victorine_; but it is very hard to come at the real truth of these
sort of things, as I found out during the time that I was in His
Majesty's service.



Chapter XLVI

O'Brien tells his crew that one Englishman is as good as three Frenchmen
on salt water--They prove it--We fall in with an old acquaintance,
although she could not be considered as a friend.


Our next cruise was on the coast of Guinea and Gulf of Mexico, where we
were running up and down for three months, without falling in with
anything but West Indiamen bound to Demerara, Berbice, and Surinam, and
occasionally chasing a privateer; but in the light winds they were too
fast for us. Still we were useful in protecting the trade, and O'Brien
had a letter of thanks from the merchants, and a handsome piece of plate
upon his quitting the station. We had made sail for Barbadoes two days,
and were within sight of the island of Trinidad, when we perceived six
sail on the lee-bow. We soon made them out to be three large ships and
three schooners; and immediately guessed, which afterwards proved to be
correct, that they were three privateers, with West India ships which
they had captured. We made all sail, and at first the three privateers
did the same; but afterwards, having made out our force, and not liking
to abandon their prizes, they resolved to fight. The West Indiamen
hauled to the wind on the other tack, and the three privateers shortened
sail and awaited our coming. We beat to quarters, and when everything
was ready, and we were within a mile of the enemy, who had now thrown
out the tri-coloured flag, O'Brien ordered all the men aft on the
quarter-deck, and addressed them: "Now, my men, you see that there are
three privateers, and you also see that there are three West Indiamen,
which they have captured. As for the privateers, it's just a fair match
for you one Englishman can always beat three Frenchmen. We must lick the
privateers for honour and glory, and we must re-capture the ships for
profit, because you'll all want some money when you get on shore again.
So you've just half-a-dozen things to do, and then we'll pipe to
dinner."

This harangue suited the sailors very well, and they returned to their
guns. "Now, Peter," said O'Brien, "just call away the sail-trimmers from
the guns, for I mean to fight these fellows under sail, and
out-manoeuvre them, if I can. Tell Mr Webster I want to speak with him."

Mr Webster was the second lieutenant, a very steady, quiet young man,
and a good officer.

"Mr Webster," said O'Brien, "remember that all the foremost guns must be
very much depressed. I prefer that the shot should strike the water
before it reaches them, rather than it should go over them. See that
your screws are run up at once, and I will take care that no broadside
is thrown away. Starboard, Swinburne."

"Starboard it is, sir."

"Steady; so--that's right for the stern of the leeward vessel."

We were within two cable lengths of the privateers, who still remained
hove-to within half a cable's length of each other. They were very large
schooners, full of men, with their boarding netting triced up, and
showing a very good set of teeth: as it afterwards proved, one mounted
sixteen, and the other two fourteen, guns.

"Now, my lads, over to the lee guns, and fire as they bear, when we
round to. Hands by the lee head-braces, and jib-sheet, stretch along the
weather braces. Quarter-master abaft, tend the boom-sheet. Port hard,
Swinburne."

"Port it is, sir," replied Swinburne; and the brig rounded up on the
wind, shooting up under the sterns of the two weathermost schooners, and
discharging the broadsides into them as the guns bore.

"Be smart and load, my lads, and stand by the same guns. Round in the
weather head-braces. Peter, I don't want her to go about. Stand by to
haul over the boom-sheet, when she pays off. Swinburne, helm amidships."

By this time another broadside was poured into the schooner, who had not
yet returned our fire, which, having foolishly remained hove to the
wind, they could not do. The brig had now stern way, and O'Brien then
executed a very skilful manoeuvre: he shifted the helm, and made a stern
board, so as to back in between the two weather schooners and the one to
leeward, bracing round at the same time on the other tack.

"Man both sides, my lads, and give them your broadsides as we pass."

The men stationed at the starboard guns flew over, and the other side
being again loaded, we exchanged broadsides with the leeward and one of
the windward schooners, the brig continuing her stern way until we
passed ahead of them. By the time that we had re-loaded, the brig had
gathered headway, and again passed between the same two schooners,
exchanging broadsides, and then passing astern of them.

"Capital, my lads--capital!" said O'Brien; "this is what I call good
fighting." And so it was; for O'Brien had given two raking broadsides,
and four others, receiving only two in return, for the schooners were
not ready for us when we passed between them the last time.

The smoke had now rolled away to leeward, and we were able to see the
effect of our broadsides. The middle schooner had lost her main-boom,
and appeared very much cut up in the hull. The schooner to leeward did
not appear to have suffered much; but they now perceived their error,
and made sail. They had expected that we should have run in between
them, and fought broadside to broadside, by which means the weathermost
schooner would have taken a raking position, while the others engaged us
to windward and to leeward. Our own damages were trifling--two men
slightly wounded, and one main shroud cut away. We ran about half a mile
astern from them; then with both broadsides ready, we tacked, and found
that, as we expected, we could weather the whole of them. This we did;
O'Brien running the brig within biscuit-throw of the weather schooner,
engaging him broadside to broadside, with the advantage that the other
two could not fire a shot into us without standing a chance of striking
their consort. If he made more sail, so did we; if he shortened, so did
we; so as to keep our position with little variation. The schooner
fought well; but her metal was not to be compared with our thirty-two
pound carronades, which ploughed up her sides at so short a distance,
driving two ports into one. At last her foremast went by the board, and
she dropped astern. In the meantime the other schooners had both tacked,
and were coming up under our stern to rake us, but the accident which
happened to the one we had engaged left us at liberty. We knew that she
could not escape, so we tacked and engaged the other two, nearing them
as fast as we could. The breeze now sprang up fast, and O'Brien put up
the helm and passed between them, giving them both a raking broadside of
grape and cannister, which brought the sticks about their ears. This
sickened them; the smallest schooner, which had been the leewardmost at
the commencement of the action, made all sail on a wind. We clapped on
the royals to follow her, when we perceived that the other schooner,
which had been in the middle, and whose main-boom we had shot away, had
put her helm up, and was crowding all sail before the wind. O'Brien then
said, "Must not try for too much, or we shall lose all. Put her about,
Peter, we must be content with the one that is left us."

We went about, and ranged up to the schooner which had lost her
foremast; but she, finding that her consort had deserted her, hauled
down her colours just as we were about to pour in our broadside. Our men
gave three cheers; and it was pleasant to see them all shaking hands
with each other, congratulating and laughing at the successful result of
our action.

"Now, my lads, be smart;--we've done enough for honour, now for profit.
Peter, take the two cutters full of men, and go on board of the
schooner, while I get hold of the three West Indiamen. Rig something
jury forward, and follow me."

In a minute the cutters were down and full of men. I took possession of
the schooner, while the brig again tacked, and crowding all sail stood
after the captured vessels. The schooner, which was the largest of the
three, was called the _Jean d' Arc_, mounting sixteen guns, and had
fifty-three men on board, the remainder being away in the prizes. The
captain was wounded very badly, and one officer killed. Out of her
ship's company, she had but eight killed and five wounded. They informed
me, that they had sailed three months ago from St Pierre's, Martinique,
and had fallen in with the other two privateers, and cruised in company,
having taken nine West Indiamen since they had come out. "Pray," said I
to the officer who gave the information, "were you ever attacked by
boats when you laid at St Pierre's?" He replied, yes; and that they had
beaten them off. "Did you purchase these masts of an American?" He
replied in the affirmative; so that we had captured the very vessel, in
attempting to cut out which, we had lost so many men.

We were all very glad of this, and Swinburne said, "Well, hang me if I
didn't think that I had seen that port-hole before; there it was that I
wrenched a pike out of one of the rascal's hands, who tried to stab me,
and into that port-hole I fired at least a dozen muskets. Well, I'm
d----d glad we've got hold of the beggar at last."

We secured the prisoners below, and commenced putting the schooner in
order. In half an hour, we had completed our knotting and splicing, and
having two of the carpenters with us, in an hour we had got up a small
jury mast forward, sufficient for the present. We lowered the mainsail,
put try-sails on her, and stood after the brig, which was now close to
the prizes; but they separated, and it was not till dark that she had
possession of two. The third was then hull down on the other tack, with
the brig in chase. We followed the brig, as did the two re-captured
vessels, and even with our jury up, we found that we could sail as fast
as they. The next morning, we saw the brig hove-to, and about three
miles a-head, with the three vessels in her possession. We closed, and I
went on board. Webster was put in charge of the privateer; and, after
lying-to for that day to send our prize-masters and men on board to
remove the prisoners, we got up a proper jury-mast, and all made sail
together for Barbadoes. On my return on board, I found that we had but
one man and one boy killed and six wounded, which I was not aware of. I
forgot to say that the names of the other two privateers were _L'Etoile_
and _La Madeleine_.

In a fortnight we arrived with all our prizes safe in Carlisle Bay,
where we found the admiral, who had anchored but two days before. I
hardly need say that O'Brien was well received, and gained a great deal
of credit for the action. I found several letters from my sister, the
contents of which gave me much pain. My father had been some months in
Ireland, and returned without gaining any information. My sister said
that he was very unhappy, paid no attention to his clerical duties, and
would sit for days without speaking. That he was very much altered in
his appearance, and had grown thin and care-worn. "In short," said she
"my dear Peter, I am afraid that he is fretting himself to death. Of
course, I am very lonely and melancholy. I cannot help reflecting upon
what will be my situation if any accident should happen to my father.
Accept my uncle's protection I will not; yet, how am I to live, for my
father has saved nothing? I have been very busy lately, trying to
qualify myself for a governess, and practise the harp and piano for
several hours every day. I shall be very, very glad when you come home
again." I showed the letters to O'Brien, who read them with much
attention. I perceived the colour mount into his cheeks, when he read
those parts of her letters in which she mentioned his name, and
expressed her gratitude for his kindness towards me.

"Never mind, Peter," said O'Brien, returning me the letters; "to whom is
it that I am indebted for my promotion, and this brig, but to you--and
for all the prize-money which I have made, and which, by the head of St
Patrick, comes to a very dacent sum, but to you? Make yourself quite
easy about your dear little sister. We'll club your prize-money and mine
together, and she shall marry a duke, if there is one in England
deserving her; and it's the French that shall furnish her dowry, as sure
as the _Rattlesnake_ carries a tail."



Chapter XLVII

I am sent away after prizes, and meet with a hurricane--Am driven on
shore, with the loss of more than half my men--Where is the
_Rattlesnake?_


In three weeks we were again ready for sea, and the admiral ordered us
to our old station off Martinique. We had cruised about a fortnight off
St Pierre's, and, as I walked the deck at night, often did I look at the
lights in the town, and wonder whether any of them were in the presence
of Celeste, when, one evening, being about six miles off shore, we
observed two vessels rounding Negro Point, close in-shore. It was quite
calm, and the boats were towing ahead.

"It will be dark in half-an-hour, Peter," said O'Brien, "and I think we
might get them before they anchor, or, if they do anchor, it will be
well outside. What do you think?"

I agreed with him, for in fact, I always seemed to be happier when the
brig was close in-shore, as I felt as if I was nearer to Celeste, and
the further we were off, the more melancholy I became. Continually
thinking of her, and the sight of her after so many years' separation,
had changed my youthful attachment into strong affection. I may say that
I was deeply in love. The very idea of going into the harbour,
therefore, gave me pleasure, and there was no mad or foolish thing that
I would not have done, only to gaze upon the walls which contained the
constant object of my thoughts. These were wild and visionary notions,
and with little chance of ever arriving to any successful issue; but at
one or two-and-twenty we are fond of building castles, and very apt to
fall in love, without considering our prospect of success. I replied,
that I thought it very possible, and wished he would permit me to make
the attempt, as, if I found there was much risk, I would return.

"I know that I can trust you, Peter," replied O'Brien, "and it's a great
pleasure to know that you have an officer you can trust: but haven't I
brought you up myself, and made a man of you, as I promised I would,
when you were a little spalpeen, with a sniffling nose, and legs in the
shape of two carrots? So hoist out the launch, and get the boats ready--
the sooner the better. What a hot day this has been--not a cat's-paw on
the water, and the sky all of a mist. Only look at the sun, how he goes
down, puffed out to three times his size, as if he were in a terrible
passion. I suspect we shall have the land breeze off strong."

In half an hour I shoved off with the boats. It was now quite dark, and
I pulled towards the harbour of St Pierre. The heat was excessive and
unaccountable; not the slightest breath of wind moved in the heavens or
below; no clouds to be seen, and the stars were obscured by a sort of
mist: there appeared a total stagnation in the elements. The men in the
boats pulled off their jackets, for, after a few moments' pulling, they
could bear them no longer. As we pulled in, the atmosphere became more
opaque, and the darkness more intense. We supposed ourselves to be at
the mouth of the harbour, but could see nothing--not three yards ahead
of the boat. Swinburne, who always went with me, was steering the boat,
and I observed to him the unusual appearance of the night.

"I've been watching it, sir," replied Swinburne, "and I tell you, Mr
Simple, that if we only know how to find the brig, that I would advise
you to get on board of her immediately. She'll want all her hands this
night, or I'm much mistaken."

"Why do you say so?" replied I.

"Because I think, nay, I may say that I'm sartin, we'll have a hurricane
afore morning. It's not the first time I've cruised in these latitudes.
I recollect in '94--"

But I interrupted him: "Swinburne, I believe that you are right. At all
events, I'll turn back: perhaps we may reach the brig before it comes
on. She carries a light, and we can find her out." I then turned the
boat round, and steered, as near as I could guess, for where the brig
was lying. But we had not pulled out more than two minutes before a low
moaning was heard in the atmosphere--now here, now there--and we
appeared to be pulling through solid darkness, if I may use the
expression. Swinburne looked around him and pointed out on the starboard
bow.

"It's a-coming, Mr Simple, sure enough; many's the living being that
will not rise on its legs to-morrow. See, sir."

I looked, and dark as it was, it appeared as if a sort of black wall was
sweeping along the water right towards us. The moaning gradually
increased to a stunning roar, and then at once it broke upon us with a
noise to which no thunder can bear a comparison. The oars were caught by
the wind with such force that the men were dashed forward under the
thwarts, many of them severely hurt. Fortunately we pulled with tholes
and pins, or the gunwale and planks of the boat would have been wrenched
off, and we should have foundered. The wind soon caught the boat on her
broadside, and, had there been the least sea, would have inevitably
thrown her over; but Swinburne put the helm down, and she fell off
before the hurricane, darting through the boiling water at the rate of
ten miles an hour. All hands were aghast; they had recovered their
seats, but were obliged to relinquish them and sit down at the bottom,
holding on by the thwarts. The terrific roaring of the hurricane
prevented any communication, except by gesture. The other boats had
disappeared; lighter than ours, they had flown away faster before the
sweeping element; but we had not been a minute before the wind before
the sea rose in a most unaccountable manner--it appeared to be by magic.
Of all the horrors that ever I witnessed, nothing could be compared to
the scene of this night. We could see nothing, and heard only the wind,
before which we were darting like an arrow--to where we knew not, unless
it was to certain death. Swinburne steered the boat, every now and then
looking back as the waves increased. In a few minutes we were in a heavy
swell, that at one minute bore us all aloft, and at the next almost
sheltered us from the hurricane; and now the atmosphere was charged with
showers of spray, the wind cutting off the summits of the waves, as if
with a knife, and carrying them along with it, as it were, in its arms.
The boat was filling with water, and appeared to settle down fast. The
men baled with their hats in silence, when a large wave culminated over
the stern, filling us up to our thwarts. The next moment we all received
a shock so violent, that we were jerked from our seats. Swinburne was
thrown over my head. Every timber of the boat separated at once, and she
appeared to crumble from under us, leaving us floating on the raging
waters. We all struck out for our lives, but with little hope of
preserving them; but the next wave dashed us on the rocks, against which
the boat had already been hurled. That wave gave life to some and death
to others. Me, in Heaven's mercy, it preserved: I was thrown so high up
that I merely scraped against the top of the rock, breaking two of my
ribs. Swinburne, and eight more, escaped with me, but not unhurt: two
had their legs broken, three had broken arms, and the others were more
or less contused. Swinburne miraculously received no injury. We had been
eighteen in the boat, of which ten escaped: the others were hurled up at
our feet; and the next morning we found them dreadfully mangled. One or
two had their skulls literally shattered to pieces against the rocks. I
felt that I was saved, and was grateful; but still the hurricane howled
--still the waves were washing over us. I crawled further up upon the
beach, and found Swinburne sitting down with his eyes directed seaward.
He knew me, took my hand, squeezed it, and then held it in his. For some
moments we remained in this position, when the waves, which every moment
increased in volume, washed up to us, and obliged us to crawl further
up. I then looked around me; the hurricane continued in its fury, but
the atmosphere was not so dark. I could trace, for some distance, the
line of the harbour, from the ridge of foam upon the shore; and, for the
first time, I thought of O'Brien and the brig. I put my mouth close to
Swinburne's ear, and cried out, "O'Brien!" Swinburne shook his head, and
looked up again at the offing. I thought whether there was any chance of
the brig's escape. She was certainly six, if not seven miles off, and
the hurricane was not direct on the shore. She might have a drift of ten
miles, perhaps; but what was that against such tremendous power? I
prayed for those on board of the brig, and returned thanks for my own
preservation. I was, or soon should be, a prisoner, no doubt; but what
was that? I thought of Celeste, and felt almost happy.

In about three hours the force of the wind subsided. It still blew a
heavy gale, but the sky cleared up, the stars again twinkled in the
heavens, and we could see to a considerable distance.

"It's breaking now, sir," said Swinburne, at last; "satisfied with the
injury it has done--and that's no little. This is worse than '94."

"Now, I'd give all my pay and prize-money if it were only daylight, and
I could know the fate of the poor _Rattlesnake_. What do you think,
Swinburne?"

"All depends upon whether they were taken unprepared, sir. Captain
O'Brien is as good a seaman as ever trod a plank; but he never has been
in a hurricane, and may not have known, the signs and warnings which God
in His mercy has vouchsafed to us. Your flush vessels fill easily--but
we must hope for the best."

Most anxiously did we look out for the day, which appeared to us as if
it never would break. At last the dawn appeared, and we stretched our
eyes to every part of the offing as it was lighted up, but we could not
see the brig. The sun rose, and all was bright and clear; but we looked
not around us, our eyes were directed to where we had left the brig. The
sea was still running high, but the wind abated fast.

"Thank God!" ejaculated Swinburne, when he had directed his eyes along
the coast, "she is above water, at all events!" and looking in the
direction where he pointed, I perceived the brig within two miles of the
shore, dismantled, and tossing in the waves.

"I see her," replied I, catching my breath with joy; "but--still--I
think she must go on shore."

"All depends upon whether she can get a little bit of sail up to weather
the point," replied Swinburne; "and depend upon it, Captain O'Brien
knows that as well as we do."

We were now joined by the other men who were saved. We all shook hands.
They pointed out to me the bodies of our shipmates who had perished. I
directed them to haul them further up, and put them all together; and
continued, with Swinburne, to watch the brig. In about half an hour we
perceived a triangle raised, and in ten minutes afterwards a jury-mast
abaft--a try-sail was hoisted and set. Then the shears were seen
forward, and in as short a time another try-sail and a storm-jib were
expanded to the wind.

"That's all he can do now, Mr Simple," observed Swinburne; "he must
trust to them and Providence. They are not more than a mile from the
beach--it will be touch and go."

Anxiously did we watch for more than half an hour; the other men
returned to us, and joined in our speculations. At one time we thought
it impossible--at another, we were certain that she would weather the
point. At last, as she neared us, she warped ahead: my anxiety became
almost insupportable. I stood first on one leg, and then on the other,
breathless with suspense. She appeared to be on the point--actually
touching the rocks--"God! she's struck!" said I.

"No!" replied Swinburne;--and then we saw her pass on the other side of
the outermost rock and disappear.

"Safe, Mr Simple!--weathered, by God!" cried Swinburne, waving his hat
with joy.

"God be thanked!" replied I, overcome with delight.



Chapter XLVIII

The devastation of the hurricane--Peter makes friends--At destroying or
saving, nothing like British seamen--Peter meets with General O'Brien,
much to his satisfaction--Has another meeting still more so--A great
deal of pressing of hands, "and all that," as Pope says.


Now that the brig was safe, we thought of ourselves. My first attention
was directed to the dead bodies, and as I looked at their mangled limbs,
I felt grateful to Heaven that I had been so miraculously spared. We
then cast our eyes along the beach to see if we could trace any remnants
of the other boats, but in vain. We were about three miles from the
town, which we could perceive had received considerable damage, and the
beach below it was strewed with wrecks and fragments. I told the men
that we might as well walk into the town and deliver ourselves up as
prisoners; to which they agreed, and we set forward, promising to send
for the poor fellows who were too much hurt to accompany us.

As soon as we climbed up the rocks, and gained the inland, what a sight
presented itself to us! Trees torn up by the roots in every direction--
cattle lying dead--here and there the remains of a house, of which the
other parts had been swept away for miles. Everything not built of solid
masonry had disappeared. We passed what had been a range of negro huts,
but they were levelled to the ground. The negroes were busily searching
for their property among the ruins, while the women held their infants
in their arms, and the other children by their sides. Here and there was
the mother wailing over the dead body of some poor little thing which
had been crushed to death. They took no notice of us. About half a mile
further on, to our great delight, we fell in with the crews of the other
boats, who were sitting by the side of the road. They had all escaped
unhurt; their boats, being so much more buoyant than ours, had been
thrown up high and dry. They joined us, and we proceeded on our way. On
our road we fell in with a cart blown over, under the wheel of which was
the leg of the negro who conducted it. We released the poor fellow; his
leg was fractured. We laid him by the side of the road in the shade, and
continued our march. Our whole route was one scene of desolation and
distress; but when we arrived at the town, we found that there it was
indeed accumulated. There was not one house in three standing entire--
the beach was covered with remnants of bodies and fragments of vessels,
whose masts lay forced several feet into the sand, and broken into four
or five pieces. Parties of soldiers were busy taking away the bodies,
and removing what few valuables had been saved. We turned up into the
town, for no one accosted us or even noticed us; and here the scene was
even more dreadful. In some streets they were digging out those who were
still alive, and whose cries were heard among the ruins; in others they
were carrying away the dead bodies. The lamentations of the relatives--
the howling of the negroes--the cries of the wounded--the cursing and
swearing of the French soldiers, and the orders delivered continually by
officers on horseback, with all the confusion arising from crowds of
spectators, mingling their voices together, formed a scene as dreadful
as it was novel. After surveying it for a few minutes, I went up to an
officer on horseback, and told him in French, that I wished to surrender
myself as a prisoner.

"We have no time to take prisoners now," replied he; "hundreds are
buried in the ruins, and we must try to save them. We must now attend to
the claims of humanity."

"Will you allow my men to assist you, sir?" replied I. "They are active
and strong fellows."

"Sir," said he, taking off his hat, "I thank you in the name of my
unfortunate countrymen."

"Show us, then, where we may be most useful."

He turned and pointed to a house higher up, the offices of which were
blown down. "There are living beings under those ruins."

"Come, my lads," said I; and sore as they were, my men hastened with
alacrity to perform their task. I could not help them myself, my side
was so painful; but I stood by giving them directions. In half an hour
we had cleared away, so as to arrive at a poor negro girl, whose cries
we had distinctly heard. We released her and laid her down in the
street, but she fainted. Her left hand was dreadfully shattered. I was
giving what assistance I could, and the men were busy clearing away,
throwing on one side the beams and rafters, when an officer on horseback
rode up. He stood and asked me who we were. I told him that we belonged
to the brig, and had been wrecked; and that we were giving what
assistance we could until they were at leisure to send us to prison.

"You English are fine brave fellows," replied he, and he rode on.

Another unfortunate object had been recovered by our men, an old
white-headed negro, but he was too much mangled to live. We brought him
out, and were laying him beside the negro girl, when several officers on
horseback rode down the street. The one who was foremost, in a general's
uniform, I immediately recognized as my former friend, then Colonel
O'Brien. They all stopped and looked at us. I told who we were. General
O'Brien took off his hat to the sailors, and thanked them. He did not
recognize me, and he was passing on, when I said to him in English,
"General O'Brien, you have forgotten me, but I shall never forget your
kindness."

"My God!" said he, "is it you, my dear fellow?" and he sprang from his
horse and shook me warmly by the hand. "No wonder that I did not know
you; you are a very different person from little Peter Simple, who
dressed up as a girl and danced on stilts. But I have to thank you, and
so has Celeste for your kindness to her. I will not ask you to leave
your work of charity and kindness, but when you have done what you can,
come up to my house. Anyone will show it to you; and if you do not find
me you will find Celeste, as you must be aware cannot leave this
melancholy employment. God bless you!" He then rode off, followed by his
staff.

"Come, my lads," said I, "depend upon it we shall not be very cruelly
treated. Let us work hard, and do all the good we can, and the Frenchmen
won't forget it."

We had cleared that house, and went back to where the other people were
working under the orders of the officer on horseback. I went up to him,
and told him we had saved two, and if he had no objection, would assist
his party. He thankfully accepted our services.

"And now, my lads," said Swinburne, "let us forget all our bruises, and
show these French fellows how to work."

And they did so: they tossed away the beams and rafters right and left
with a quickness and dexterity which quite astonished the officer and
other inhabitants who were looking on, and in half an hour had done more
work than could have been possibly expected. Several lives were saved,
and the French expressed their admiration at our sailors' conduct, and
brought them something to drink, which they stood much in need of, poor
fellows. After that they worked double tides, as we say, and certainly
were the means of saving many lives which otherwise would have been
sacrificed.

The disasters occasioned by this hurricane were very great, owing to its
having taken place at night, when the chief of the inhabitants were in
bed and asleep. I was told that most of the wood houses were down five
minutes after the hurricane burst upon them. About noon there was no
more work for us to do, and I was not sorry that it was over. My side
was very painful, and the burning heat of the sun made me feel giddy and
sick at the stomach. I inquired of a respectable looking old Frenchman
which was the General's house. He directed me to it, and I proceeded
there, followed by my men. When I arrived, I found the orderly leading
away the horse of General O'Brien, who had just returned. I desired a
sergeant, who was in attendance at the door, to acquaint the general
that I was below. He returned, and desired me to follow him. I was
conducted into a large room, where I found him in company with several
officers. He again greeted me warmly, and introduced me to the company
as the officer who had permitted the ladies who had been taken prisoners
to come on shore.

"I have to thank you, then, for my wife," said an officer, coming up,
and offering his hand.

Another came up, and told me that I had also released his. We then
entered into a conversation, in which I stated, the occasion of my
having been wrecked, and all the particulars; also, that I had seen the
brig in the morning dismasted, but that she had weathered the point, and
was safe.

"That brig of yours, I must pay you the compliment to say, has been very
troublesome; and my namesake keeps the batteries more upon the alert
than ever I could have done," said General O'Brien. "I don't believe
there is a negro five years old upon the island who does not know your
brig."

We then talked over the attack of the privateer, in which we were beaten
off. "Ah!" replied the aide-de-camp, "you made a mess of that. He has
been gone these four months. Captain Carnot swears that he'll fight you
if he falls in with you."

"He has kept his word," replied I; and then I narrated our action with
the three French privateers, and the capture of the vessel; which
surprised and, I think, annoyed them very much.

"Well, my friend," said General O'Brien, "you must stay with me while
you are on the island; if you want anything, let me know."

"I am afraid that I want a surgeon," replied I; "for my side is so
painful that I can scarcely breathe."

"Are you hurt then?" said General O'Brien, with an anxious look.

"Not dangerously, I believe," said I, "but rather painfully."

"Let me see," said an officer, who stepped forward; "I am surgeon to the
forces here, and perhaps you will trust yourself in my hands. Take off
your coat."

I did so with difficulty. "You have two ribs broken," said he, "and a
very severe contusion. You must go to bed, or lie on a sofa, for a few
days. In a quarter of an hour I will come and dress you, and promise you
to make you all well in ten days, in return for your having given me my
daughter, who was on board of the _Victorine_ with the other ladies."
The officers now made their bows, and left me alone with General
O'Brien.

"Recollect," said he, "that I tell it you once for all, that my purse,
and everything, is at your command. If you do not accept them freely, I
shall think you do not love us. It is not the first time, Peter, and you
repaid me honourably. However, of course, I was no party to that affair;
it was Celeste's doing," continued he, laughing. "Of course, I could not
imagine that it was you who was dressed up as a woman, and so impudently
danced through France on stilts. But I must hear all your adventures
by-and-by, Celeste is most anxious to see you. Will you go now, or wait
till after the surgeon comes?"

"Oh, now, if you please, general. May I first beg that some care may be
taken of my poor men; they have had nothing to eat since yesterday, are
very much bruised, and have worked hard; and that a cart may be sent for
those who lie maimed on the beach?"

"I should have thought of them before," replied he: "and I will also
order the same party to bury the other poor fellows who are lying on the
beach. Come, now--will take you to Celeste."



Chapter XLIX

Broken ribs not likely to produce broken hearts--O'Brien makes something
very like a declaration of peace--Peter Simple actually makes a
declaration of love--Rash proceedings on all sides.


I followed the general into a handsomely furnished apartment, where I
found Celeste waiting to receive me. She ran to me as soon as I entered;
and with what pleasure did I take her hand, and look on her beautiful
expressive countenance! I could not say a word--neither did Celeste. For
a minute I held her hand in mine, looking at her; the general stood by
regarding us alternately. He then turned round, and walked to the
window. I lifted the hand to my lips, and then released it.

"It appears to be a dream, almost," said Celeste.

I could not make any reply, but continued to gaze upon her--she had
grown up into such a beautiful creature. Her figure was perfect, and the
expression of her countenance was so varied--so full of intellect and
feeling--it was angelic. Her eyes, suffused with tears, beamed so
softly, so kindly on me, I could have fallen down and worshipped her.

"Come," said General O'Brien; "come, my dear friend, now that you have
seen Celeste, the surgeon must see you."

"The surgeon," cried Celeste, with alarm.

"Yes, my love; it is of no consequence--only a couple of ribs broken."

I followed General O'Brien out of the room, and as I came to the door I
turned round to look at Celeste. She had retreated to the sofa, and her
handkerchief was up to her eyes. The surgeon was waiting for me; he
bandaged me, and applied some cooling lotion to my side, which made me
feel quite comfortable.

"I must now leave you," said General O'Brien; "you had better lie down
for an hour or two, and then, if I am not back, you know your way to
Celeste."

I lay down as he requested; but as soon as I heard the clatter of the
horse's hoofs, as he rode off, I left the room, and hurried to the
drawing-room. Celeste was there, and hastened to inquire if I was much
hurt. I replied in the negative, and told her that I had come down to
prove it to her; and we then sat down on the sofa together.

"I have the misfortune never to appear before you, Celeste, except in a
very unprepossessing state. When you first saw me I was wounded; at our
next meeting I was in woman's clothes; the last time we met I was
covered with dirt and gunpowder; and now I return to you wounded and in
rags. I wonder whether I shall ever appear before you as a gentleman?"

"It is not the clothes which make the gentleman, Peter. I am too happy
to see you to think of how you are dressed. I have never yet thanked you
for your kindness to us when we last met. My father will never forget
it."

"Nor have I thanked you, Celeste, for your kindness in dropping the
purse into the hat, when you met me, trying to escape from France. I
have never forgotten you, and since we met the last time, you have
hardly ever been out of my thoughts. You don't know how thankful I am to
the hurricane for having blown me into your presence. When we cruised in
the brig, I have often examined the town with my glass, trying to fancy
that I had my eye upon the house you were in; and have felt so happy
when we were close in shore, because I knew that I was nearer to you."

"And, Peter, I have often watched the brig, and have been so glad to see
it come nearer, and then so afraid that the batteries would fire at you.
What a pity it is that my father and you should be opposed to each
other--we might be so happy!"

"And may be yet, Celeste," replied I.

We conversed for two hours, which appeared to be but ten minutes. I felt
that I was in love, but I do not think that Celeste had any idea at the
time that she was--but I leave the reader to judge from the little
conversation I have quoted, whether she was not, or something very much
approaching to it.

The next morning I went out early to look for the brig, and, to my great
delight, saw her about six miles off the harbour's mouth, standing in
for the land. She had now got up very respectable jury-masts, with
topgallants for topsails, and appeared to be well under command. When
she was within three miles of the harbour she lowered the jolly-boat,
the only one she had left, and it pulled in-shore with a flag of truce
hoisted at the bows. I immediately returned to my room, and wrote a
detailed account of what had taken place, ready to send to O'Brien when
the boat returned, and I, of course, requested him to send me my
effects, as I had nothing but what I stood in. I had just completed my
letter when General O'Brien came in.

"My dear friend," said he, "I have just received a flag of truce from
Captain O'Brien, requesting to know the fate of his boats' crews, and
permission to send in return the clothes and effects of the survivors."

"I have written down the whole circumstances for him, and made the same
request to him," replied I; and I handed him my letter. He read it over
and returned it.

"But, my dear lad, you must think very poorly of us Frenchmen, if you
imagine that we intend to detain you here as a prisoner. In the first
place, your liberation of so many French subjects, when you captured the
_Victorine_, would entitle you to a similar act of kindness; and, in the
next place, you have not been fairly captured, but by a visitation of
Providence, which, by the means of the late storm, must destroy all
national antipathies, and promote that universal philanthropy between
all men, which your brave fellows proved that they possess. You are,
therefore, free to depart with all your men, and we shall still hold
ourselves your debtors. How is your side to-day?"

"Oh, very bad, indeed," replied I; for I could not bear the idea of
returning to the brig so soon, for I had been obliged to quit Celeste
very soon after dinner the day before, and go to bed. I had not yet had
much conversation with her, nor had I told General O'Brien how it was
that we escaped from France. "I don't think I can possibly go on board
to-day, but I feel very grateful to you for your kindness."

"Well, well," replied the general, who observed my feelings, "I do not
think it is necessary that you should go on board to-day. I will send
the men and your letter, and I will write to Captain O'Brien, to say
that you are in bed, and will not bear moving until the day after
tomorrow. Will that do?"

I thought it but a very short time, but I saw that the general looked as
if he expected me to consent; so I did.

"The boat can come and return again with some of your clothes,"
continued the general, "and I will tell Captain O'Brien that if he comes
off the mouth of the harbour the day after to-morrow, I will send you on
board in one of our boats."

He then took my letter and quitted the room. As soon as he was gone I
found myself quite well enough to go to Celeste, who waited for me, and
I told her what had passed. That morning I sat with her and the general,
and narrated all my adventures, which amused the general very much. I
did not conceal the conduct of my uncle, and the hopes which I faintly
entertained of being able, some day or another, to discover the fraud
which had been practised, or how very unfavourable were my future
prospects if I did not succeed. At this portion of my narrative the
general appeared very thoughtful and grave. When I had finished, it was
near dinner time, and I found that my clothes had arrived with a letter
from O'Brien, who stated how miserable he had been at the supposition of
my loss, and his delight at my escape. He stated that on going down into
the cabin, after I had shoved off, he, by chance, cast his eyes on the
barometer, and, to his surprise, found that it had fallen two inches,
which he had been told was the case previous to a hurricane. This,
combined with the peculiar state of the atmosphere, had induced him to
make every preparation, and that they had just completed their work when
it came on. The brig was thrown on her beam ends, and lay there for half
an hour, when they were forced to cut away the masts to right her. That
they did not weather the point the next morning by more than half a
cable's length; and concluded by saying, that the idea of my death had
made him so unhappy that, if it had not been for the sake of the men, it
was almost a matter of indifference to him whether he had been lost or
not. He had written to General O'Brien, thanking him for his kindness;
and that, if fifty vessels should pass the brig, he would not capture
one of them, until I was on board again, even if he were dismissed the
service for neglect of duty. He said, that the brig sailed almost as
fast under jury-masts as she did before, and that, as soon as I came on
board, he should go back to Barbadoes. "As for your ribs being so bad,
Peter, that's all bother," continued he; "I know that you are making
arrangements for another sort of _rib_, as soon as you can manage it;
but you must stop a little, my boy. You shall be a lord yet, as I always
promised you that you should. It's a long lane that has no turning--so
good-bye."

When I was alone with Celeste, I showed her O'Brien's letter. I had read
the part of it relative to his not intending to make any capture while I
was on shore to General O'Brien, who replied, "that under such
circumstances he thought' he should do right to detain me a little
longer but," said he, "O'Brien is a man of honour, and worthy of his
name."

When Celeste came to that part of the letter in which O'Brien stated
that I was looking after another rib, and which I had quite forgotten,
she asked me to explain it; for, although she could read and speak
English very well, she had not been sufficiently accustomed to it to
comprehend the play upon words. I translated, and then said, "Indeed,
Celeste, I had forgotten that observation of O'Brien's, or I should not
have shown you the letter; but he has stated the truth. After all your
kindness to me, how can I help being in love with you? and need I add,
that I should consider it the greatest blessing which Heaven could grant
me, if you could feel so much regard for me as one day to become my
wife! Don't be angry with me for telling you the truth," continued I,
for Celeste coloured up as I spoke to her.

"Oh, no! I am not angry with you, Peter; far from it. It is very
complimentary to me--what you have just said."

"I am aware," continued I, "that at present I have little to offer you--
indeed, nothing. I am not even such a match as your father might approve
of; but you know my whole history, and what my desires are."

"My dear father loves me, Peter, and he loves you too, very much--he
always did, from the hour he saw you--he was so pleased with your
candour and honesty of character. He has often told me so, and very
often talked of you."

"Well, Celeste, tell me,--may I when far away, be permitted to think of
you, and indulge a hope, that some day we may meet never to part again?"
And I took Celeste by the hand, and put my arm round her waist.

"I don't know what to say," replied she; "I will speak to my father, or
perhaps you will; but I will never marry anybody else, if I can help
it."

I drew her close to me, and kissed her. Celeste burst into tears, and
laid her head upon my shoulder. When General O'Brien came I did not
attempt to move, nor did Celeste.

"General," said I, "you may think me to blame, but I have not been able
to conceal what I feel for Celeste. You may think that I am imprudent,
and that I am wrong in thus divulging what I ought to have concealed,
until I was in a situation to warrant my aspiring to your daughter's
hand; but the short time allowed me to be in her company, the fear of
losing her, and my devoted attachment, will, I trust, plead my excuse."

The general took one or two turns up and down the room, and then
replied, "What says Celeste?"

"Celeste will never do anything to make her father unhappy," replied
she, going up to him and hiding her face in his breast, with her arm
round his neck.

The general kissed his daughter, and then said, "I will be frank with
you, Mr Simple. I do not know any man whom I would prefer to you as a
son-in-law; but there are many considerations which young people are
very apt to forget. I do not interfere in your attachment, which appears
to be mutual; but, at the same time, I will have no promise and no
engagement, you may never meet again. However, Celeste is very young,
and I shall not put any constraint upon her; and at the same time you
are equally free, if time and circumstances should alter your present
feelings."

"I can ask no more, my dear sir," replied I, taking the general by the
hand; "it is candid--more than I had any reason to expect. I shall now
leave you with a contented mind, and the hopes of one day claiming
Celeste shall spur me to exertion."

"Now, if you please, we will drop the subject," said the general.
"Celeste, my dear, we have a large party to dinner, as you know. You had
better retire to your room and get ready. I have asked all the ladies
that you liberated, Peter, and all their husbands and fathers; so you
will have the pleasure of witnessing how many people you made happy by
your gallantry. Now that Celeste has left the room, Peter, I must beg
that, as a man of honour, you do not exact from her any more promises,
or induce her to tie herself down to you by oaths. Her attachment to you
has grown up with her unaccountably, and she is already too fond of you
for her peace of mind, should accident or circumstances part you for
ever. Let us hope for the best, and depend upon it that it shall be no
trifling obstacle which will hinder me from seeing you one day united."

I thanked the general with tears; he shook me warmly by the hand as I
gave my promise, and we separated.

How happy did I feel when I went into my room, and sat down to compose
my mind and think over what had happened. True, at one moment the
thought of my dependent situation threw a damp over my joy; but in the
next I was building castles, inventing a discovery of my uncle's plot,
fancying myself in possession of the title and property, and laying it
at the feet of my dear Celeste. Hope sustained my spirits, and I felt
satisfied for the present with the consideration that Celeste returned
my love. I decked myself carefully, and went down, where I found all the
company assembled. We had a very pleasant, happy party, and the ladies
entreated General O'Brien to detain me as a prisoner--very kind of them
--and I felt very much disposed to join in their request.



Chapter L

Peter Simple first takes a command, then three West Indiamen, and twenty
prisoners--One good turn deserves another--The prisoners endeavour to
take him, but are themselves taken in.


The next day I was very unhappy. The brig was in the offing waiting for
me to come on hoard. I pointed her out to Celeste as we were at the
window, and her eyes met mine. An hour's conversation could not have
said more. General O'Brien showed that he had perfect confidence in me
for he left us together.

"Celeste," said I, "I have promised your father--"

"I know what has passed," interrupted she; "he told me everything."

"How kind he is! But I did not say that I would not bind myself,
Celeste."

"No! but my father made me promise that you should not--that if you
attempted, I was immediately to prevent you--and so I shall."

"Then you shall keep your word, Celeste. Imagine everything that can be
said in this--" and I kissed her.

"Don't think me forward, Peter, but I wish you to go away happy," said
Celeste; "and therefore, in return, imagine all I could say in this" and
she returned my salute.

After this we had a conversation of two hours; but what lovers say is
very silly, except to themselves, and the reader need not be troubled
with it. General O'Brien came in and told me the boat was ready. I rose
up--I was satisfied with what had passed, and with a firm voice I said,
"Good-bye, Celeste; God bless you!" and followed the general, who, with
some of his officers, walked down with me to the beach. I thanked the
general, who embraced me, paid my adieus to the officers, and stepped
into the boat. In half an hour I was on board of the brig, and in
O'Brien's arms. We put the helm up, and in a short time the town of St
Pierre was shut out from my longing sight, and we were on our way to
Barbadoes. That day was passed in the cabin with O'Brien, giving him a
minute detail of all that had passed.

When we anchored once more in Carlisle Bay, we found that the hurricane
had been much more extensive in the Windward Islands than we had
imagined. Several men of war were lying there, having lost one or more
of their masts, and there was great difficulty in supplying the wants of
so many. As we arrived the last, of course we were last served; and,
there being no boats left in store, there was no chance of our being
ready for sea under two or three months. The _Joan d' Arc_ schooner
privateer was still lying there, but had not been fitted out for want of
men; and the admiral proposed to O'Brien that he should man her with a
part of his ship's company, and send one of his lieutenants out to
cruise in her. This was gladly assented to by O'Brien, who came on board
and asked me whether I should like to have her, which I agreed to, as I
was quite tired of Barbadoes and fried flying fish.

I selected two midshipmen, Swinburne, and twenty men, and having taken
on board provisions and water for three months, I received my written
instructions from O'Brien, and made sail. We soon discovered that the
masts which the American had sold to the schooner, were much too large
for her; she was considerably overmasted, and we were obliged to be very
careful. I stood for Trinidad, off which island was to be my cruising
ground, and in three weeks had recaptured three West Indiamen, when I
found myself so short of hands, that I was obliged to return to
Barbadoes. I had put four hands into the first vessel, which, with the
Englishmen, prisoners, were sufficient, and, three hands into the two
others; but I was very much embarrassed with my prisoners, who amounted
to nearly double my ship's company remaining on board. Both the
midshipmen I had sent away, and I consulted with Swinburne as to what
was best to be done.

"Why, the fact is, Mr Simple, Captain O'Brien ought to have given us
more hands; twenty men are little enough for a vessel with a boom
mainsail like the one we have here; and now we have only ten left; but I
suppose he did not expect us to be so lucky, and it's true enough that
he has plenty of work for the ship's company, now that he has to turn
everything in afresh. As for the prisoners, I think we had better run
close in, and give them two of our boats to take them on shore. At all
events, we must be rid of them, and not be obliged to have one eye
aloft, and the other down the hatchway, as we must now."

This advice corresponded with my own ideas, and I ran in-shore, gave
them the stern boat, and one of the larger ones, which held them all,
and sent them away, leaving only one boat for the schooner, which we
hoisted up in the star-board chess-tree. It fell a dead calm as we sent
away the prisoners; we saw them land and disappear over the rocks, and
thought ourselves well rid of them, as they were twenty-two in number,
most of them Spaniards, and very stout ferocious-looking fellows. It
continued calm during the whole day, much to our annoyance, as I was
very anxious to get away as soon as I could; still I could not help
admiring the beauty of the scenery--the lofty mountains rising abruptly
from the ocean, and towering in the clouds, reflected on the smooth
water, as clear as in a looking-glass, every colour, every tint,
beautifully distinct. The schooner gradually drifted close in-shore, and
we could perceive the rocks at the bottom, many fathoms deep. Not a
breath of wind was to be seen on the surface of the water for several
miles round, although the horizon in the offing showed that there was a
smart breeze outside.

Night came on, and we still lay becalmed. I gave my orders to Swinburne,
who had the first watch, and retired to my standing bed-place in the
cabin. I was dreaming, and I hardly need say who was the object of my
visions. I thought I was in Eagle Park, sitting down with her under one
of the large chestnut trees, which formed the avenue, when I felt my
shoulder roughly pushed. I started up--"What is the matter? Who's that--
Swinburne?"

"Yes, sir. On with your clothes immediately, as we have work on hand, I
expect." And Swinburne left the cabin, and I heard him calling the other
men who were below. I knew that Swinburne would not give a false alarm.
In a minute I was on deck, and was looking at the stern of the schooner.
"What is that, Swinburne?" said I.

"Silence, sir. Hark! don't you hear them?"

"Yes," replied I; "the sound of oars."

"Exactly, sir; depend upon it, those Spaniards have got more help, and
are coming back to take the vessel; they know we have only ten hands on
board."

By this time the men were all on deck. I directed Swinburne to see all
the muskets loaded, and ran down for my own sword and pistols. The water
was so smooth, and the silence so profound, that Swinburne had heard the
sound of the oars at a considerable distance. Fortunate it was, that I
had such a trusty follower. Another might have slumbered, and the
schooner have been boarded and captured without our being prepared. When
I came on deck again, I spoke to the men, exhorted them to do their
duty, and pointed out to them that these cut-throat villains would
certainly murder us all if we were taken, which I firmly believe would
have been the case. The men declared that they would sell their lives as
dearly as they could. We had twenty muskets, and the same number of
pistols, all of which were now loaded. Our guns were also ready, but of
no use, now that the schooner had not steerage-way.

The boats were in sight, about a quarter of a mile astern, when
Swinburne said, "There's a cat's-paw flying along the water, Mr Simple;
if we could only have a little wind, how we would laugh at them; but I'm
afraid there's no such luck. Shall we let them know that we are ready?"

"Let every one of us take two muskets," said I: "when the first boat is
under the counter, take good aim, and discharge into one of the boats;
then seize the other musket, and discharge it at the other boat. After
that we must trust to our cutlasses and pistols; for if they come on,
there will be no time to load again. Keep silence, all of you."

The boats now came up full of men; but as we remained perfectly quiet,
they pulled up gently, hoping to surprise us. Fortunately, one was a
little in advance of the other; upon which I altered my directions, and
desired my men to fire their second musket into the first boat, as, if
we could disable her, we were an equal match for those in the other.
When the boat was within six yards of the schooner's counter, "Now!"
said I, and all the muskets were discharged at once, and my men cheered.
Several of the oars dropped, and I was sure we had done great execution;
but they were laid hold of by the other men, who had not been pulling,
and again the boat advanced to the counter.

"Good aim, my lads, this time," cried Swinburne; "the other boat will be
alongside as soon as you have fired. Mr Simple, the schooner has
headway, and there's a strong breeze coming up."

Again we discharged our ten muskets into the boat, but this time we
waited until the bow-man had hooked on the planeshear with his
boat-hook, and our fire was very effective. I was surprised to find that
the other boat was not on board of us; but a light breeze had come up,
and the schooner glided through the water. Still she was close under our
counter, and would have been aboard in a minute. In the meantime, the
Spaniards who were in the first boat were climbing up the side, and were
repulsed by my men with great success. The breeze freshened, and
Swinburne ran to the helm. I perceived the schooner was going fast
through the water, and the second boat could hardly hold her course. I
ran to where the boat-hook was fixed on the planeshear, and unhooked it;
the boat fell astern, leaving two Spaniards clinging to the side, who
were cut down, and they fell into the water. "Hurrah! all safe!" cried
Swinburne; "and now to punish them."

The schooner was now darting along at the rate of five miles, with an
increasing breeze. We stood in for two minutes, then tacked, and ran for
the boats. Swinburne steered, and I continued standing in the bows,
surrounded by the rest of the men. "Starboard a little, Swinburne."--
"Starboard it is."

"Steady--steady: I see the first boat, she is close under our bows.
Steady--port--port--port a little--port. Look out, my lads, and cut down
all who climb up."

Crash went the schooner on to the boat, the men in her in vain
endeavouring to escape us. For a second or two she appeared to right,
until her further gunwale was borne down under the water; she turned up,
and the schooner went over her, sending every soul in her to their
account. One man clung on to a rope, and was towed for a few seconds,
but a cutlass divided the rope at the gunwale, and with a faint shriek
he disappeared. The other boat was close to us, and perceived what had
been done. They remained with their oars poised, all ready to pull so as
to evade the schooner. We steered for her, and the schooner was now
running at the rate of seven miles an hour. When close under our bows,
by very dexterously pulling short round with their starboard oars, we
only struck her with our bow; and before she went down many of the
Spaniards had gained the deck, or were clinging to the side of the
vessel. They fought with desperation, but we were too strong for them.
It was only those who had gained the deck which we had to contend with.
The others clung for a time, and, unable to get up the sides, one by one
dropped into the water and went astern. In a minute, those on deck were
lying at our feet, and in a minute more they were tossed overboard after
their companions; not, however, until one of them struck me through the
calf of the leg with his knife as we were lifting him over the gunwale.
I do not mean to say that the Spaniards were not justified in attempting
to take the schooner; but still, as we had liberated them but a few
hours before, we felt that it was unhandsome and treacherous on their
part, and therefore showed them no quarter. There were two of my men
wounded as well as myself, but not severely, which was fortunate, as we
had no surgeon on board, and only about half a yard of a diachylum
plaster in the vessel.

"Well out of that, sir," said Swinburne, as I limped aft. "By the Lord
Harry! it might have been a _pretty go_."

Having shaped our course for Barbadoes, I dressed my leg and went down
to sleep. This time I did not dream of Celeste, but fought the Spaniards
over again, thought I was wounded, and awoke with the pain of my leg.



Chapter LI

Peter turned out of his command by his vessel turning bottom up--A
cruise on a main-boom, with sharks _en attendant_--Self and crew, with
several flying fish, taken on board a negro boat--Peter regenerates by
putting on a new outward man.


We made Barbadoes without any further adventure, and were about ten
miles off the bay, steering with a very light breeze, and I went down
into the cabin, expecting to be at anchor before breakfast the next
morning. It was just daylight, when I found myself thrown out of my
bed-place on the deck, on the other side of the cabin, and heard the
rushing of water. I sprang up, I knew the schooner was on her beam ends,
and gained the deck. I was correct in my supposition: she had been upset
by what is called a white squall, and in two minutes would be down. All
the men were up on deck, some dressed, others, like myself, in their
shirts. Swinburne was aft; he had an axe in his hand, cutting away the
rigging of the main-boom. I saw what he was about; I seized another, and
disengaged the jaw-rope and small gear about the mast. We had no other
chance; our boat was under the water, being hoisted up on the side to
leeward. All this, however, was but the work of two minutes; and I could
not help observing by what trifles lives are lost or saved. Had the axe
not been fortunately at the capstern, I should not have been able to cut
the jaw-rope, Swinburne would not have had time, and the main-boom would
have gone down with the schooner. Fortunately we had cleared it; the
schooner filled, righted a little, and then sank, dragging us and the
main-boom for a few seconds down in its vortex, and then we rose to the
surface.

The squall still continued, but the water was smooth. It soon passed
over, and again it was nearly calm. I counted the men clinging to the
boom, and found that they were all there. Swinburne was next to me. He
was holding with one hand, while with the other he felt in his pocket
for a quid of tobacco, which he thrust into his cheek. "I wasn't on deck
at the time, Mr Simple," said he, "or this wouldn't have happened. I had
just been relieved, and I told Collins to look out sharp for squalls. I
only mention it, that if you are saved, and I am not, you mayn't think I
was neglectful of my duty. We arn't far from the land, but still we are
more likely to fall in with a shark than a friend, I'm thinking."

These, indeed, had been my thoughts, but I had concealed them; but after
Swinburne had mentioned the shark, I very often looked along the water
for their fins, and down below to see if they were coming up to tear us
to pieces. It was a dreadful feeling.

"It was not your fault, Swinburne, I am sure. I ought to have relieved
you myself, but I kept the first watch, and was tired. We must put our
trust in God; perhaps, we may yet be spared."

It was now almost calm, and the sun had mounted in the heavens: the
scorching rays were intolerable upon our heads, for we had not the
defence of hats. I felt my brain on fire, and was inclined to drop into
the water, to screen myself from the intolerable heat. As the day
advanced so did our sufferings increase. It was a dead calm, the sun
perpendicular over us, actually burning that part of our bodies which
rose clear of the water. I could have welcomed even a shark to relieve
me of my torment; but I thought of Celeste, and I clung to life. Towards
the afternoon I felt sick and dizzy; my resolution failed me; my vision
was imperfect; but I was roused by Swinburne, who cried out, "A boat, by
all that's gracious! Hang on a little longer, my men, and you are
saved."

It was a boat full of negroes, who had come out to catch flying-fish.
They had perceived the spar on the water, and hastened to secure the
prize. They dragged us all in, gave us water, which appeared like
nectar, and restored us to our fleeting senses. They made fast the boom,
and towed it in-shore. We had not been ten minutes on our way, when
Swinburne pointed to the fin of a large shark above the water. "Look
there, Mr Simple." I shuddered, and made no answer; but I thanked God in
my heart.

In two hours we were landed, but were too ill to walk. We were carried
up to the hospital, bled, and put into cots. I had a brain fever, which
lasted six or seven days, during which O'Brien never left my bedside. My
head was shaved, all the skin came off my face like a mask, as well as
off my back and shoulders. We were put into baths of brandy and water,
and in three weeks were all recovered.

"That was but an unlucky schooner from beginning to end," observed
O'Brien, after I had narrated the events of my cruise. "We had a bad
beginning with her, and we had a bad ending. She's gone to the bottom,
and the devil go with her; however, all's well that ends well, and,
Peter, you're worth a dozen dead men yet; but you occasion me a great
deal of trouble and anxiety, that's the truth of it, and I doubt if I
shall ever rear you, after all."

I returned to my duty on board of the brig, which was now nearly ready
for sea. One morning O'Brien came on board and said, "Peter, I've a
piece of news for you. Our gunner is appointed to the _Araxes_, and the
admiral has given me a gunner's warrant for old Swinburne. Send for him
on deck."

Swinburne was summoned, and came rolling up the hatchway. "Swinburne,"
said O'Brien, "you have done your duty well, and you are now gunner of
the _Rattlesnake_. Here is your warrant, and I've great pleasure in
getting it for you."

Swinburne turned the quid in his cheek, and then replied, "May I be so
bold as to ax, Captain O'Brien, whether I must wear one of them long
tog, swallow-tailed coats--because, if so, I'd prefer being a
quarter-master?"

"A gunner may wear a jacket, Swinburne, if he likes; when you go on
shore you may bend the swallow-tail, if you please."

"Well, sir, then if that's the case, I'll take the warrant, because I
know it will please the old woman."

So saying, Swinburne hitched up his trousers, and went down below. I may
here observe that Swinburne kept his round jacket until our arrival in
England, when the "old woman," his wife, who thought her dignity at
stake, soon made him ship the swallow-tail; and, after it was once on,
Swinburne took a fancy to it, and always wore it, except when he was at
sea.

The same evening, as I was coming with O'Brien from the governor's
house, where I had dined, we passed a building, lighted up. "What can
that be?" observed O'Brien; "not a dignity ball--there is no music." Our
curiosity induced us to enter, and we found it to be fitted up as a
temporary chapel, filled with black and coloured people, who were ranged
on the forms, and waiting for the preacher.

"It is a Methodist meeting," said I to O'Brien.

"Never mind," said he, "let us hear what is going on."

In a moment afterwards the pulpit was filled, not by a white man, as we
had anticipated, but by a tall negro. He was dressed in black, and his
hair, which it was impossible to comb down straight, was plaited into
fifty little tails, well tied at the end of them, like you sometimes see
the mane of a horse; this produced a somewhat more clerical appearance.
His throat was open and collar laid back; the wristbands of his shirt
very large and white, and he flourished a white cambric handkerchief.

"What a dandy he is!" whispered O'Brien.

I thought it almost too absurd when he said he would take the liberty to
praise God in the 17th hymn, and beg all the company to join chorus. He
then gave out the stanzas in the most strange pronunciation.

  "Gentle Jesus, God um lub," &c.

When the hymn was finished, which was sung by the whole congregation, in
the most delightful discord,--everyone chose his own key--he gave an
extempore prayer, which was most unfortunately incomprehensible, and
then commenced his discourse, which was on _Faith_. I shall omit the
head and front of his offending, which would, perhaps, hardly be
gratifying although ludicrous. He reminded me of a monkey imitating a
man; but what amused me most was his finale, in which he told his
audience that there could be no faith without charity. For a little
while he descanted upon this generally, and at last became personal. His
words were, as well as I can recollect, nearly as follows:--

"And now you see, my dear bredren, how unpossible to go to heaven, with
all the faith in the world, without charity. Charity mean, give away.
Suppose you no give--you no ab charity; suppose you no ab charity--you
no ab faith; suppose you no ab faith--you all go to hell and be damned.
Now den, let me see if you ab charity. Here, you see, I come to save all
your soul from hell-fire; and hell-fire dam hot, I can tell you. Dere
you all burn like coal, till you turn white powder, and den burn on till
you come black again; and so you go on, burn, burn, sometime white,
sometime black, for ebber and ebber. The debil never allow Sangoree to
cool tongue. No, no cocoa-nut milk,--not a lilly drap of water; debil
see you damned first. Suppose you ask, he poke um fire, and laugh. Well,
den, ab you charity? No, you ab not. You, Quashee, how you dare look me
in the face? You keep shop--you sell egg--you sell yam--you sell pepper
hot--but when you give to me? Eh! nebber, so help me God. Suppose you no
send--you no ab charity, and you go to hell. You black Sambo," continued
he, pointing to a man in the corner, "ab very fine boat, go out all day,
catch fly-fish, bring um back, fry um, and sell for money; but when you
send to me? not one little fish ebber find way to my mouth. What I tell
you 'bout Peter and 'postles--all fishermen; good men, give 'way to
poor. Sambo, you no ab charity; and 'spose you no repent this week, and
send one very fine fish in plantain leaf, you go to hell, and burn for
ebber and ebber. Eh! so you will run away, Massa Johnson," cried he out
to another, who was edging to the door; "but you no run away from
hell-fire: when debil catch you, he hold dam tight. You know you kill
sheep and goat ebery day. You send bell ring all 'bout town for people
to come buy; but when you send to me? nebber, 'cept once, you gave me
lilly bit of libber. That not do, Massa Johnson; you no ab charity; and
suppose you no send me sheep's head to-morrow morning, dam you libber,
that's all. I see many more, but I see um all very sorry, and dat they
mean to sin no more, so dis time I let um off, and say noting about it,
because I know plenty of plantain and banana (pointing to one) and
oranges and shaddock (pointing to another), and salt fish (pointing to a
fourth), and ginger-pop and spruce beer (pointing to a fifth), and a
straw hat (pointing to a sixth), and eberything else, come to my house
to-morrow. So I say no more 'bout it; I see you all very sorry--you only
forget. You all ab charity, and all ab faith; so now, my dear bredren,
we go down on our knees, and thank God for all this, and more especially
that I save all your souls from going to the debil, who run about
Barbadoes like one roaring lion, seeking what he may lay hold of, and
cram into his dam fiery jaw."

"That will do, Peter," said O'Brien; "we have the cream of it, I think."

We left the house, and walked down to the boat. "Surely, O'Brien," said
I, "this should not be permitted?"

"He's no worse than his neighbours," replied O'Brien, "and perhaps does
less harm. I admire the rascal's ingenuity; he gave his flock what, in
Ireland, we should call a pretty broad hint."

"Yes, there was no mistaking him: but is he a licensed preacher?"

"Very little licence in his preaching, I take it; no, I suppose he has
had a _call_."

"A call!--what do you mean?"

"I mean that he wants to fill his belly. Hunger is a call of nature,
Peter."

"He seems to want a good many things, if we were to judge by his
catalogue; what a pity it is that these poor people are not better
instructed."

"That they never will be, Peter, while there is what may be called free
trade in religion."

"You speak like a Catholic, O'Brien."

"I am one," replied he. And here our conversation ended, for we were
close to the boat, which was waiting for us on the beach.

The next day a man-of-war brig arrived from England, bringing letters
for the squadron on the station. I had two from my sister Ellen which
made me very uncomfortable. She stated that my father had seen my uncle,
Lord Privilege, and had had high words with him; indeed, as far as she
could ascertain of the facts, my father had struck my uncle, and had
been turned out of the house by the servants; that he had returned in a
state of great excitement, and was very ill ever since; that there was a
great deal of talk in the neighbourhood on the subject, people generally
highly blaming my father's conduct, thinking that he was deranged in his
intellect--a supposition very much encouraged by my uncle. She again
expressed her hopes of my speedy return. I had now been absent nearly
three years, and she had been so uncomfortable that she felt as if it
had been at least ten. O'Brien also received a letter from Father
M'Grath, which I shall lay before the reader:--

  "MY DEAR SON,--Long life, and all the blessings of all the saints be
  upon you now and for evermore! Amen. And may you live to be married,
  and may I dance at your wedding, and may you never want children, and
  may they grow up as handsome as their father and their mother (whoever
  she may hereafter be), and may you die of a good old age, and in the
  true faith, and be waked handsomely, as your own father was last
  Friday s'ennight, seeing as how he took it into his head to leave this
  world for a better. It was a very dacent funeral-procession, my dear
  Terence, and your father must have been delighted to see himself so
  well attinded. No man ever made a more handsome corpse, considering
  how old, and thin, and haggard he had grown of late, and how gray his
  hair had turned. He held the nosegay between his fingers, across his
  breast as natural as life, and reminded us all of the blessed saint,
  Pope Gregory, who was called to glory some hundred years before either
  you or I was born.

  "Your mother's quite comfortable; and there she sits in her ould
  chair, rocking to and fro all day long, and never speaking a word to
  nobody, thinking about heaven, I dare to say; which is just what she
  ought to do, seeing that she stands a very pretty chance of going
  there in the course of a month or so. Divil a word has she ever said
  since your father's departure, but then she screamed and yelled enough
  to last for seven years at the least. She screamed away all her senses
  anyhow, for she has done nothing since but cough, cough, and fumble at
  her pater-nosters--a very blessed way to pass the remainder of her
  days, seeing that I expect her to drop every minute like an over-ripe
  sleepy pear. So don't think any more about her, my son, for without
  you are back in a jiffy, her body will be laid in consecrated ground,
  and her happy, blessed soul in purgatory. _Pax vobiscum._ Amen! amen!

  "And now having disposed of your father and your mother so much to
  your satisfaction, I'll just tell you that Ella's mother died in the
  convent at Dieppe, but whether she kept her secret or not I do not
  know; but this I do know, that if she didn't relieve her soul by
  confession, she's damned to all eternity. Thanks be to God for all his
  mercies. Amen! Ella Flanagan is still alive, and, for a nun, is as
  well as can be expected. I find that she knows nothing at all about
  the matter of the exchanging the genders of the babbies--only that her
  mother was on oath to Father M'Dermot, who ought to be hanged, drawn,
  and quartered instead of those poor fellows whom the government called
  rebels, but who were no more rebels than Father M'Grath himself,
  who'll uphold the Pretender, as they call our true Catholic king, as
  long as there's life in his body or a drop of whiskey left in ould
  Ireland to drink his health wid.--

  "Talking about Father M'Dermot puts me in mind that the bishop has not
  yet decided our little bit of a dispute, saying that he must take time
  to think about it. Now, considering that it's just three years since
  the row took place, the old gentleman must be a very slow thinker not
  to have found out by this time that I was in the right, and that
  Father M'Dermot, the baste, is not good enough to be hanged.

  "Your two married sisters are steady and diligent young women, having
  each made three children since you last saw them. Fine boys, every
  mother's son of them, with elegant spacious features, and famous
  mouths for taking in whole potatoes. By the powers, but the offsets of
  the tree of the O'Briens begin to make a noise in the land, anyhow, as
  you would say if you only heard them roaring for their bit of suppers.

  "And now, my dear son Terence, the real purport of this letter, which
  is just to put to your soul's conscience, as a dutiful son, whether
  you ought not to send me a small matter of money to save your poor
  father's soul from pain and anguish--for it's no joke that being in
  purgatory, I can tell you; and you wouldn't care how soon you were
  tripped out of it yourself. I only wish you had but your little toe in
  it, and then you'd burn with impatience to have it out again. But
  you're a dutiful son, so I'll say no more about it--a nod's as good as
  a wink to a blind horse.

  "When your mother goes, which, with the blessing of God, will be in a
  very little while, seeing that she has only to follow her senses,
  which are gone already, I'll take upon myself to sell everything, as
  worldly goods and chattels are of no use to dead people; and I have no
  doubt but that, what with the furniture and the two cows, and the
  pigs, and the crops in the ground, there will be enough to save her
  soul from the flames, and bury her dacently into the bargain. However,
  as you are the heir-at-law, seeing that the property is all your own,
  I'll keep a debtor and creditor account of the whole; and should there
  be any over, I'll use it all out in masses, so as to send her up to
  heaven by express; and if there's not sufficient, she must remain
  where she is till you come back and make up the deficiency. In the
  meanwhile I am your loving father in the faith,

  "URTAGH M'GRATH."



Chapter LII

Good sense in Swinburne--No man a hero to his valet de chambre, or a
prophet in his own country--O'Brien takes a step by strategy--O'Brien
parts with his friend, and Peter's star no longer in the ascendant.


O'Brien was sorry for the death of his father, but he could not feel as
most people would have done, as his father had certainly never been a
father to him. He was sent to sea to be got rid of, and ever since he
had been there, had been the chief support of his family; his father was
very fond of whiskey, and not very fond of exertion. He was too proud of
the true Milesian blood in his veins to do anything to support himself,
but not too proud to live upon his son's hard-earned gains. For his
mother O'Brien felt very much; she had always been kind and
affectionate, and was very fond of him. Sailors, however, are so
estranged from their families when they have been long in their
profession and so accustomed to vicissitudes, that no grief for the loss
of a relation lasts very long, and in a week O'Brien had recovered his
usual spirits, when a vessel brought us the intelligence that a French
squadron had been seen off St Domingo. This put us all on the _qui
vive_. O'Brien was sent for by the admiral, and ordered to hasten his
brig for sea with all possible despatch, as he was to proceed with
despatches to England forthwith. In three days we were reported ready,
received our orders, and at eight o'clock in the evening made sail from
Carlisle Bay. "Well, Mr Swinburne," said I, "how do you like your new
situation?"

"Why, Mr Simple, I like it well enough; and it's not disagreeable to be
an officer, and sit in your own cabin; but still I feel that I should
get on better if I were in another ship. I've been hail-fellow well met
with the ship's company so long, that I can't top the officer over them,
and we can't get the duty done as smart as I could wish: and then at
night I find it very lonely stuck up in my cabin like a parson's clerk,
and nobody to talk to; for the other warrants are particular, and say
that I'm only acting, and may not be confirmed, so they hold aloof. I
don't much like being answerable for all that lot of gunpowder--it's
queer stuff to handle."

"Very true, Swinburne; but still, if there were no responsibility, we
should require no officers. You recollect that you are now provided for
life, and will have half-pay."

"That's what made me bite, Mr Simple. I thought of the old woman, and
how comfortable it would make her in her old age; and so, d'ye see, I
sacrificed myself."

"How long have you been married, Swinburne?"

"Ever since Christmas '94. I wasn't going to be hooked carelessly, so I
nibbled afore I took the bait. Had four years' trial of her first, and,
finding that she had plenty of ballast, I sailed her as my own."

"How do you mean by plenty of ballast?"

"I don't mean, Mr Simple, a broad bow and square hulk. You know very
well that if a vessel has not ballast, she's bottom up in no time. Now,
what keeps a woman stiff under her canvas is her modesty."

"Very true; but it's a rare commodity on the beach."

"And why, Mr Simple? because liquor is more valued. Many a good man has
found it to be his bane; and as for a woman, when once she takes to it,
she's like a ship without a rudder, and goes right before the wind to
the devil. Not that I think a man ought not to take a nor-wester or two,
when he can get them. Rum was not given by God Almighty only to make the
niggers dance, but to make all our hearts glad; neither do I see why a
woman is to stand out neither; what's good for Jack can't hurt Poll;
only there is a medium, as they say, in all things, and half-an-half is
quite strong enough."

"I should think it was," replied I, laughing.

"But don't be letting me prevent you from keeping a look-out, Mr
Simple.--You, Hoskins, you're half a point off the wind. Luff you may.--
I think, Mr Simple, that Captain O'Brien didn't pick out the best man,
when he made Tom Alsop a quarter-master in my place."

"Why, he is a very steady, good man, Swinburne."

"Yes, so he is; but he has natural defects, which shouldn't be
overlooked. I doubt if he can see so far as the head of the mainsail."

"I was not aware of that."

"No, but I was. Alsop wants to sarve out his time for his pension, and
when he has sarved, you see if, when the surgeons examine him, they
don't invalid him, as blind as a bat. I should like to have him as
gunner's mate, and that's just what he's fit for. But, Mr Simple, I
think we shall have some bad weather. The moon looks greasy, and the
stars want snuffing. You'll have two reefs in the topsails afore
morning. There's five bells striking. Now I'll turn in; if I didn't keep
half the first, and half the morning watch, I shouldn't sleep all the
night. I miss my regular watch very much, Mr Simple--habit's everything
--and I don't much fancy a standing bed-place, it's so large, and I feel
so cold of my sides. Nothing like a hammock, after all. Good-night, Mr
Simple."

Our orders were to proceed with all _possible_ despatch; and O'Brien
carried on day and night, generally remaining up himself till one or two
o'clock in the morning. We had very favourable weather, and in a little
more than a month we passed the Lizard. The wind being fair, we passed
Plymouth, ran up Channel, and anchored at Spithead.

After calling upon the admiral, O'Brien set off for town with his
despatches, and left me in command of the ship. In three days I received
a letter from him, informing me that he had seen the First Lord, who had
asked him a great many questions concerning the station he had quitted;
that he had also complimented O'Brien on his services. "On that hint I
spake," continued O'Brien; "I ventured to insinuate to his lordship,
that I had hoped I had earned my promotion; and as there is nothing like
_quartering on the enemy_, I observed that I had not applied to Lord
Privilege, as I considered my services would have been sufficient,
without any application on his part. His lordship returned a very
gracious answer: said that my Lord Privilege was a great ally of his,
and very friendly to the government; and inquired when I was going to
see him. I replied, that I certainly should not pay my respects to his
lordship at present, unless there was occasion for it, as I must take a
more favourable opportunity. So I hope that good may come from the great
lord's error, which, of course, I shall not correct, as I feel I deserve
my promotion--and you know, Peter, if you can't gain it by _hook_, you
must by _crook_." He then concluded his letter; but there was a
postscript as follows:

"Wish me joy, my dear Peter. I have this moment received a letter from
the private secretary, to say that I am _posted_, and appointed to the
_Semiramis_ frigate, about to set sail for the East Indies. She is all
ready to start; and now I must try to get you with me, of which I have
no doubt; as, although her officers have been long appointed there will
be little difficulty of success, when I mention your relationship to
Lord Privilege, and while they remain in error as to his taking an
interest in my behalf." I rejoiced at O'Brien's good fortune. His
promotion I had considered certain, as his services had entitled him to
it; but the command of so fine a frigate must have been given upon the
supposition that it would be agreeable to my uncle, who was not only a
prime supporter, but a very useful member, of the Tory Government. I
could not help laughing to myself, at the idea of O'Brien obtaining his
wishes from the influence of a person who probably detested him as much
as one man could detest another; and I impatiently waited for O'Brien's
next letter, by which I hoped to find myself appointed to the
_Semiramis_; but a sad _contretemps_ took place.

O'Brien did not write; but came down two days afterwards, hastened on
board the _Semiramis_, read his commission, and assumed the command
before even he had seen me; he then sent his gig on board of the
_Rattlesnake_ to desire me to come to him directly. I did so, and we
went down into the cabin of the frigate. "Peter," said he, "I was
obliged to hasten down and read myself captain of this ship, as I am in
fear that things are not going on well. I had called to pay my respects
at the Admiralty, previous to joining, and was kicking my heels in the
waiting-room, when who should walk up the passage, as if he were a
captain on his own quarter-deck, but your uncle, Lord Privilege. His eye
met mine--he recognised me immediately--and, if it did not flash fire,
it did something very like it. He asked a few questions of one of the
porters, and was giving his card, when my name was called for. I passed
him, and up I went to the First Lord, thanked him for the frigate; and
having received a great many compliments upon my exertions in the West
India station, made my bow and retired. I had intended to have requested
your appointment, but I knew that your name would bring up Lord
Privilege's; and, moreover, your uncle's card was brought up and laid
upon the table while I was sitting there. The First Lord, I presume,
thought that his lordship was come to thank him for his kindness to me,
which only made him more civil. I made my bow and went down, when I met
the eye of Lord Privilege; who looked daggers at me as he walked up
stairs--for, of course, he was admitted immediately after my audience
was finished. Instead of waiting to hear the result of the explanation,
I took a post-chaise, and have come down here as fast as four horses can
bring me, and have read myself in--for, Peter, I feel sure, that if not
on board, my commission will be cancelled; and I know that if once in
command, as I am now, I can call for a court-martial, to clear my
character if I am superseded. I know that the Admiralty _can_ do
anything, but still they will be cautious in departing from the rules of
the service, to please even Lord Privilege. I looked up at the sky as
soon as I left the Admiralty portico, and was glad to see that the
weather was so thick, and the telegraph not at work, or I might have
been too late. Now I'll go on shore, and report myself to the admiral,
as having taken the command of the _Semiramis_."

O'Brien went on shore to report himself, was well received by the
admiral, who informed him, that if he had any arrangements to make, he
could not be too soon, as he should not be surprised if his sailing
orders came down the next morning. This was very annoying, as I could
not see how I should be able to join O'Brien's ship, even if I could
effect an exchange, in so short a time. I therefore hastened on board of
the _Semiramis_, and applied to the officers to know if any of them were
willing to exchange into the _Rattlesnake_; but, although they did not
much like going to the East Indies, they would not exchange into a brig,
and I returned disappointed. The next morning, the admiral sent for
O'Brien, and told him confidentially, for he was the same admiral who
had received O'Brien when he had escaped from prison with me, and was
very kind to him, that there was some _hitch_ about his having the
_Semiramis_, and that orders had come down to pay her off, all standing,
and examine her bottom, if Captain O'Brien had not joined her. "Do you
understand what this means?" said the admiral, who was anxious to know
the reason.

O'Brien answered frankly, that Lord Privilege, by whose interest he had
obtained his former command, was displeased with him; and that, as he
saw him go up to the First Lord, he had no doubt but that his lordship
had said something to his disadvantage, as he was a very vindictive man.

"Well," said the admiral, "it's lucky that you have taken the command,
as they cannot well displace you, or send her into dock without a
survey, and upon your representation."

And so it proved; the First Lord, when he found that O'Brien had joined,
took no further steps, but allowed the frigate to proceed to her
intended destination. But all chance of my sailing with him was done
away, and now, for the first time, I had to part with O'Brien. I
remained with him the whole time that I could be spared from my duties.
O'Brien was very much annoyed, but there was no help. "Never mind,
Peter," said he, "I've been thinking that perhaps it's all for the best.
You will see more of the world, and be no longer in leading-strings. You
are now a fine man grown up, big enough and ugly enough, as they say, to
take care of yourself. We shall meet again; and if we don't, why then,
God bless you, my boy, and don't forget O'Brien."

Three days afterwards, O'Brien's orders came down. I accompanied him on
board; and it was not until the ship was under weigh, and running
towards the Needles with a fair wind, that I shook hands with him, and
shoved off. Parting with O'Brien was a heavy blow to me; but I little
knew how much I was to suffer before I saw him again.



Chapter LIII

I am pleased with my new captain--Obtain leave to go home--Find my
father afflicted with a very strange disease, and prove myself a very
good doctor, although the disorder always breaks out in a fresh place.


The day after O'Brien had sailed for the East Indies, the dockyard men
came on board to survey the brig, and she was found so defective as to
be ordered into dock. I had received letters from my sister, who was
overjoyed at the intelligence of my safe return, and the anticipation of
seeing me. The accounts of my father were, however, very unsatisfactory.
My sister wrote, that disappointment and anxiety had had such an effect
upon him, that he was deranged in his intellects. Our new captain came
down to join us. He was a very young man, and had never before commanded
a ship. His character as lieutenant was well known, and not very
satisfactory, being that of a harsh, unpleasant officer; but, as he had
never been first lieutenant, it was impossible to say what he might
prove when in command of a ship. Still we were a little anxious about
it, and severely regretted the loss of O'Brien. He came on board the
hulk to which the ship's company's had been turned over, and read his
commission. He proved to be all affability, condescension, and
good-nature. To me, he was particularly polite, stating that he should
not interfere with me in carrying on the duty, as I must be so well
acquainted with the ship's company. We thought that those who gave us
the information must have been prejudiced or mistaken in his character.
During the half hour that he remained on board, I stated, that now that
the brig was in dock, I should like very much to have an opportunity of
seeing my friends, if he would sanction my asking for leave. To this he
cheerfully consented, adding, that he would extend it upon his own
responsibility. My letter to the Admiralty was therefore forwarded
through him, and was answered in the affirmative. The day afterwards, I
set off by the coach, and once more embraced my dear sister.

After the first congratulations were over, I inquired about my father;
she replied, that he was so wild that nobody could manage him. That he
was melancholy and irritable at the same time, and was certainly
deranged, fancying himself to be made of various substances, or to be in
a certain trade or capacity. That he generally remained in this way four
or five days, when he went to bed, and slept for twenty-four hours, or
more, and awoke with some new strange imagination in his head. His
language was violent, but that, in other respects, he seemed to be more
afraid of other people, than inclined to be mischievous, and that every
day he was getting more strange and ridiculous. He had now just risen
from one of his long naps, and was in his study; that before he had
fallen asleep he had fancied himself to be a carpenter, and had sawed
and chopped up several articles of furniture in the house.

I quitted my sister to see my father, whom I found in his easy-chair. I
was much shocked at his appearance. He was thin and haggard, his eye was
wild, and he remained with his mouth constantly open. A sick-nurse, who
had been hired by my sister, was standing by him.

"Pish, pish, pish, pish!" cried my father; "what can you, a stupid old
woman, know about my inside? I tell you the gas is generating fast, and
even now I can hardly keep on my chair. I'm lifting--lifting now; and if
you don't tie me down with cords, I shall go up like a balloon."

"Indeed, sir," replied the woman, "it's only the wind in your stomach.
You'll break it off directly."

"It's inflammable gas, you old Hecate!--I know it is. Tell me, will you
get a cord, or will you not? Hah! who's that--Peter? Why you've dropped
from the clouds, just in time to see me mount up to them."

"I hope you feel yourself better, sir," said I.

"I feel myself a great deal lighter every minute. Get a cord, Peter, and
tie me to the leg of the table."

I tried to persuade him that he was under a mistake; but it was useless.
He became excessively violent, and said I wished him in heaven. As I had
heard that it was better to humour people afflicted with
hypochondriacism, which was evidently the disease under which my father
laboured, I tried that method. "It appears to me, sir," said I, "that if
we could remove the gas every ten minutes, it would be a good plan."

"Yes--but how?" replied he, shaking his head mournfully.

"Why, with a syringe, sir," said I; "which will, if empty, of course
draw out the gas, when inserted into your mouth."

"My dear Peter, you have saved my life: be quick, though, or I shall go
up, right through the ceiling."

Fortunately, there was an instrument of that description in the house. I
applied it to his mouth, drew up the piston, and then ejected the air,
and re-applied it. In two minutes he pronounced himself better, and I
left the old nurse hard at work, and my father very considerably
pacified. I returned to my sister, to whom I recounted what had passed;
but it was no source of mirth to us, although, had it happened to an
indifferent person, I might have been amused. The idea of leaving her,
as I must soon do--having only a fortnight's leave--to be worried by my
father's unfortunate malady, was very distressing. But we entered into a
long conversation, in which I recounted the adventures that had taken
place since I had left her, and for the time forgot our source of
annoyance and regret. For three days my father insisted upon the old
woman pumping the gas out of his body; after that, he again fell into
one of his sleeps, which lasted nearly thirty hours.

When he arose, I went again to see him. It was eight o'clock in the
evening, and I entered with a candle. "Take it away--quick, take it
away; put it out carefully."

"Why, what's the matter, sir?"

"Don't come near me, if you love me; don't come near me. Put it out, I
say--put it out."

I obeyed his orders, and then asked him the reason. "Reason!" said he,
now that we were in the dark; "can't you see?"

"No, father; I can see nothing in the dark."

"Well, then, Peter, I'm a magazine, full of gunpowder; the least spark
in the world, and I am blown up. Consider the danger. You surely would
not be the destruction of your father, Peter?" and the poor old
gentleman burst into tears, and wept like a child.

I knew that it was in vain to reason with him. "My dear father," said I,
"on board ship, when there is any danger of this kind, we always _float_
the magazine. Now, if you were to drink a good deal of water, the powder
would be spoiled, and there would be no danger." My father was satisfied
with my proposal, and drank a tumbler of water every half-hour, which
the old nurse was obliged to supply as fast as he called for it; and
this satisfied him for three or four days, and I was again left to the
company of my dear Ellen, when my father again fell into his stupor, and
we wondered what would be his next fancy. I was hastily summoned by the
nurse, and found my poor father lying in bed, and breathing in a very
strange manner. "What is the matter, my dear sir?" inquired I.

"Why don't you see what is the matter? How is a poor little infant, just
born, to live, unless its mother is near to suckle it, and take care of
it?"

"Indeed, sir, do you mean to say that you are just born?"

"To be sure I do. I'm dying for the breast."

This was almost too absurd; but I gravely observed, "That it was all
very true, but unfortunately his mother had died in childbirth, and the
only remedy was to bring him up by hand."

He agreed with me. I desired the nurse to make some gruel with brandy,
and feed him; which she did, and he took the gruel just as if he were a
baby. I was about to wish him goodnight, when he beckoned to me, and
said, "Peter, she hasn't changed my napkin." This was too much, and I
could not help laughing. I told the nurse what he said, and she replied,
"Lord bless you, sir, what matter? if the old gentleman takes a fancy,
why not indulge him? I'll fetch the kitchen table-cloth." This fit
lasted about six days; for he went to sleep, because a baby always slept
much: and I was in hopes it would last much longer: but he again went
off into his lethargic fit, and, after a long sleep, awoke with a new
fancy. My time had nearly expired, and I had written to my new captain,
requesting an extension of leave, but I received an answer stating that
it could not be granted, and requesting me to join the brig immediately.
I was rather surprised at this, but of course was compelled to obey;
and, embracing my dear sister once more, set off for Portsmouth. I
advised her to humour my father, and this advice she followed; but his
fancies were such, occasionally, as would have puzzled the most
inventive genius to combat, or to find the remedy which he might
acknowledge to be requisite. His health became certainly worse and
worse, and his constitution was evidently destroyed by a slow,
undermining, bodily and mental fever. The situation of my poor sister
was very distressing; and I quitted her with melancholy forebodings.

I ought here to observe that I received all my prize-money, amounting to
£1560, a large sum for a lieutenant. I put it into the funds, and gave a
power of attorney to Ellen, requesting her to use it as her own. We
consulted as to what she should do if my father should die, and agreed
that all his debts, which we knew to amount to three or four hundred
pounds, should be paid, and that she should manage how she could upon
what was left of my father's property, and the interest of my
prize-money.



Chapter LIV

We receive our sailing orders, and orders of every description--A
quarter-deck conversation--Listeners never hear any good of themselves.


When I arrived at Portsmouth, I reported myself to the captain, who
lived at the hotel. I was ushered into his room to wait for him, as he
was dressing to dine with the admiral. My eyes naturally turned to what
lay on the table, merely from the feeling which one has to pass away the
time, not from curiosity; and I was much surprised to see a pile of
letters, the uppermost of which was franked by Lord Privilege. This,
however, might be merely accidental; but my curiosity was excited, and I
lifted up the letter, and found that the second, the third, and indeed
at least ten of these were franked by my uncle. I could not imagine how
there could be any intimacy between him and my uncle, and was reflecting
upon it when Captain Hawkins, for that was his name, entered the room.
He was very kind and civil, apologized for not being able to extend my
leave, which, he said, was because he had consulted the admiral, who
would not sanction the absence of the first lieutenant, and had very
peremptorily desired he would recall me immediately. I was satisfied: he
shook my hand, and we parted. On my arrival on board the hulk, for the
brig was still in dock, I was warmly received by my messmates. They told
me that the captain had, generally speaking, been very civil, but that,
occasionally, the marks of the cloven foot appeared.

"Webster," said I, to the second lieutenant, "do you know anything about
his family or connections?"

"It is a question I have asked of those who have sailed with him, and
they all say that he never speaks of his own family, but very often
boasts of his intimacy with the nobility. Some say that he is a
_bye-blow_ of some great man."

I reflected very much upon this, and connecting it with the numerous
franks of Lord Privilege, which I saw on the table, had my misgivings;
but then I knew that I could do my duty, and had no reason to fear any
man. I resolved, in my own mind, to be very correct, and put it out of
the power of any one to lay hold of me, and then dismissed the subject.
The brig was repaired and out of dock, and for some days I was very busy
getting her ready for sea. I never quitted her; in fact, I had no wish.
I never had any taste for bad company and midnight orgies, and I had no
acquaintance with the respectable portion of the inhabitants of
Portsmouth. At last the ship's company were removed into the brig: we
went out of harbour, and anchored at Spithead.

Captain Hawkins came on board and gave me an order-book, saying, "Mr
Simple, I have a great objection to written orders, as I consider that
the articles of war are quite sufficient to regulate any ship. Still, a
captain is in a very responsible situation, and if any accident occurs
he is held amenable. I therefore have framed a few orders of my own for
the interior discipline of the vessel, which may probably save me
harmless, in case of being _hauled over the coals_; but not with any
wish that they should interfere with the comforts of the officers, only
to guard against any mischance, of which the _onus_ may fall upon
myself."

I received the order-book, and the captain went ashore. When I went down
into the gun-room, to look through it, I at once perceived that if
rigidly conformed to, every officer in the ship would be rendered
uncomfortable; and if not conformed to, I should be the party that was
answerable. I showed it to Webster, who agreed with me, and gave it as
his opinion that the captain's good nature and amiability were all a
blind, and that he was intending to lay hold of us as soon as it was in
his power. I therefore called all the officers together, and told them
my opinion. Webster supported me, and it was unanimously agreed that the
orders should be obeyed, although not without remonstrance. The major
part of the orders, however, only referred to the time that the brig was
in harbour; and, as we were about to proceed to sea, it was hardly worth
while saying anything at present. The orders for the sailing of the brig
came down, and by the same post I received a letter from my sister
Ellen, stating that they had heard from Captain Fielding, who had
immediately written to Bombay, where the regiment was stationed, and had
received an answer, informing him that there was no married man in the
regiment of the name of Sullivan, and no woman who had followed that
regiment of that name. This at once put an end to all our researches
after the wet-nurse, who had been confined in my uncle's house. Where
she had been sent, it was of course impossible to say; but I gave up all
chance of discovering my uncle's treachery; and, as I thought of
Celeste, sighed at the little hope I had of ever being united to her. I
wrote a long letter to O'Brien, and the next day we sailed for our
station in the North Sea.

The captain added a night order-book to the other, and sent it up every
evening, to be returned in the morning, with the signature of every
officer of the night watches. He also required all our signatures to his
general order-book, that we might not say we had not read them. I had
the first watch, when Swinburne came up to me. "Well, Mr Simple, I do
not think we have made much by our exchange of captains; and I have a
shrewd suspicion we shall have squalls ere long."

"We must not judge too hastily, Swinburne," replied I.

"No, no--I don't say that we should; but still, one must go a little by
looks in the world, and I'm sure his looks wouldn't help him much. He's
just like a winter's day, short and dirty; and he walks the deck as if
planks were not good enough for his feet. Mr Williams says, he looks as
if he were 'big with the fate of Cato and of Rome:' what that means, I
don't know--some joke, I suppose, for the youngsters are always joking.
Were you ever up the Baltic, Mr Simple? Now I think of it, I know you
never were. I've seen some tight work up there with the gun-boats; and
so we should now with Captain O'Brien; but as for this little man, I've
an idea 'twill be more talk than work."

"You appear to have taken a great dislike to the captain, Swinburne. I
do not know whether, as first lieutenant, I ought to listen to you."

"It's because you're first lieutenant that I tell it you, Mr Simple. I
never was mistaken, in the main, of an officer's character, when I could
look him in the face, and hear him talk for half an hour; and I came up
on purpose to put you on your guard: for I feel convinced, that towards
you he means mischief. What does he mean by having the greasy-faced
serjeant of marines in his cabin for half an hour every morning? His
reports as master of arms ought to come through you, as first
lieutenant; but he means him as a spy upon all, and upon you in
particular. The fellow has begun to give himself airs already, and
speaks to the young gentlemen as if they were beneath him. I thought you
might not know it, Mr Simple, so I thought it right to tell you."

"I am much obliged to you, Swinburne, for your good wishes; but I can do
my duty, and why should I fear anything?"

"A man may do his duty, Mr Simple; but if a captain is determined to
ruin him, he has the power. I have been longer in the service than you
have, and have been wide awake: only be careful of one thing, Mr Simple;
I beg your pardon for being so free, but in no case lose your temper."

"No fear of that, Swinburne," replied I.

"It's very easy to say 'no fear of that,' Mr Simple; but recollect, you
have not yet had your temper tried as some officers have. You have
always been treated like a gentleman; but should you find yourself
treated otherwise, you have too good blood in your veins not to speak--I
am sure of that. I've seen officers insulted and irritated, till no
angel could put up with the treatment--and then for an unguarded word,
which they would have been _swabs_ not to have made use of, sent out of
the service to the devil."

"But you forget, Swinburne, that the articles of war are made for the
captain as well as for everybody else in the ship."

"I know that; but still, at court-martials captains make a great
distinction between what a superior says to an inferior, and what an
inferior says to a superior."

"True," replied I, quoting Shakespeare:

  "'That's in the captain but a choleric word, Which in the soldier is
  rank blasphemy.'"

"Exactly my meaning--I rather think," said Swinburne, "if a captain
calls you no gentleman, you mus'n't say the same to him."

"Certainly not, but I can demand a court-martial."

"Yes; and it will be granted: but what do you gain by that? It's like
beating against a heavy gale and a lee tide--thousand to one if you
fetch your port; and if you do, your vessel is strained to pieces, sails
worn as thin as a newspaper, and rigging chafed half through, wanting
fresh serving: no orders for a re-fit, and laid up in ordinary for the
rest of your life. No, no, Mr Simple, the best plan is to grin and bear
it, and keep a sharp look-out; for depend upon it, Mr Simple, in the
best ship's company in the world, a spy captain will always find spy
followers."

"Do you refer that observation to me, Mr Swinburne?" said a voice from
under the bulwark. I started round, and found the captain, who had crept
upon deck, unperceived by us, during our conversation. Swinburne made no
reply; but touched his hat and walked over to leeward. "I presume, Mr
Simple," said the captain, turning to me, "that you consider yourself
justified in finding fault, and abusing your captain, to an inferior
officer, on His Majesty's quarter-deck."

"If you heard the previous conversation, sir," replied I, "you must be
aware that we were speaking generally about court-martials. I do not
imagine that I have been guilty of any impropriety in conversing with an
officer upon points connected with the service."

"You mean then to assert, sir, that the gunner did not refer to me when
he said the words, 'spy captain.'"

"I acknowledge, sir, that as you were listening unperceived, the term
might appear to refer to you; but the gunner had no idea, at the time,
that you were listening. His observation was, that a spy captain would
always find spy followers. This I take to be a general observation; and
I am sorry that you think otherwise."

"Very well, Mr Simple," said Captain Hawkins--and he walked down the
companion ladder into his cabin.

"Now a'n't it odd, Mr Simple, that I should come up with the intention
of being of service to you, and yet get you into such a scrape? However,
perhaps it is all for the best; open war is preferable to watching in
the dark, and stabbing in the back. He never meant to have shown his
colours; but I hit him so hard, that he forgot himself."

"I suspect that to be the case, Swinburne; but I think that you had
better not talk any more with me to-night."

"Wish I hadn't talked quite so much, as things have turned out," replied
Swinburne. "Good-night, sir."

I reflected upon what had passed, and felt convinced that Swinburne was
right in saying that it was better this had occurred than otherwise. I
now knew the ground which I stood upon; and forewarned was being
forearmed.



Chapter LV

We encounter a Dutch brig of war--Captain Hawkins very contemplative
near the capstan--Hard knocks, and no thanks for it--Who's afraid?--Men
will talk--The brig goes about on the wrong tack.


At daylight the next morning we were off the Texel, and could see the
low sand-hills; but we had scarcely made them out, when the fog in the
offing cleared up, and we made a strange vessel. The hands were turned
up, and all sail made in chase. We made her out to be a brig of war; and
as she altered her course considerably, we had an idea that she was an
enemy. We made the private signal, which was unanswered, and we cleared
for action; the brig making all sail on the starboard tack, and we
following her--she bearing about two miles on our weather bow. The
breeze was not steady; at one time the brig was staggering under her
top-gallant sails, while we had our royals set; at another we would have
hands by the top-gallant sheets and topsail halyards, while she expanded
every stitch of canvas. On the whole, however, in an hour we had neared
about half a mile. Our men were all at their quarters, happy to be so
soon at their old work. Their jackets and hats were thrown off, a
bandana handkerchief tied round their heads, and another, or else their
black silk handkerchiefs, tied round their waists. Every gun was ready,
everything was in its place, and every soul, I was going to say, was
anxious for the set-to; but I rather think I must not include the
captain, who from the commencement, showed no signs of pleasure, and
anything but presence of mind. When we first chased the vessel, it was
reported that it was a merchantman; and it was not until we had broad
daylight, that we discovered her to be a man-of-war. There was one thing
to be said in his favour--he had never been in action in his life.

The breeze now fell light, and we were both with our sails set, when a
thick fog obscured her from our sight. The fog rolled on till we met it,
and then we could not see ten yards from the brig. This was a source of
great mortification, as we had every chance of losing her. Fortunately,
the wind was settling down fast into a calm, and about twelve o'clock
the sails flapped against the mast. I reported twelve o'clock, and asked
the captain whether we should pipe to dinner.

"Not yet," replied he; "we will put her head about."

"Go about, sir?" replied I, with surprise.

"Yes;" said he, "I'm convinced that the chase is on the other tack at
this moment; and if we do not, we shall lose her."

"If she goes about, sir," said I, "she must get among the sands, and we
shall be sure of her."

"Sir," replied he, "when I ask your advice, you will be pleased to give
it. I command this vessel."

I touched my hat, and turned the hands up about ship, convinced that the
captain wished to avoid the action, as the only chance of escape for the
brig was her keeping her wind in the tack she was on. "'Bout ship--'bout
ship!" cried the men. "What the hell are we going about for?" inquired
they of one another, as they came up the ladder. "Silence there, fore
and aft!" cried I. "Captain Hawkins, I do not think we can get her
round, unless we wear--the wind is very light."

"Then wear ship, Mr Simple."

There are times when grumbling and discontent among the seamen is so
participated by the officers, although they do not show it, that the
expressions made use of are passed unheeded. Such was the case at
present. The officers looked at each other, and said nothing; but the
men were unguarded in their expressions. The brig wore gradually round;
and when the men were bracing up the yards, sharp on the other tack,
instead of the "Hurrah!" and "Down with the mark!" they fell back with a
groan.

"Brace up those yards in silence, there," said I to the men.

The ropes were coiled down, and we piped to dinner. The captain, who
continued on deck, could not fail to hear the discontented expressions
which occasionally were made use of on the lower deck. He made no
observation, but occasionally looked over the side, to see whether the
brig went through the water. This she did slowly for about ten minutes,
when it fell a perfect calm--so that, to use a common sea phrase, he
gained little by his motion. About half-past one, a slight breeze from
the opposite quarter sprung up--we turned round to it--it increased--the
fog blew away, and, in a quarter of an hour, the chase was again
visible, now upon our lee beam. The men gave three cheers.

"Silence there, fore and aft," cried the captain, angrily. "Mr Simple,
is this the way that the ship's company have been disciplined under
their late commander, to halloo and bawl whenever they think proper?"

I was irritated at any reflection upon O'Brien, and I replied, "Yes,
sir; they have been always accustomed to express their joy at the
prospect of engaging the enemy."

"Very well, Mr Simple," replied he.

"How are we to shift her head?" inquired the master, touching his hat:
"for the chase?"

"Of course," replied the captain, who then descended into his cabin.

"Come, my lads," said Swinburne, as soon as the captain was below, "I
have been going round, and I find that your _pets_ are all in good
fighting order. I promise ye, you sha'n't wait for powder. They'll find
that the _Rattlesnake_ can bite devilish hard yet, I expect."--"Aye, and
without its _head_, too," replied one of the men, who was the Joe Miller
of the brig. The chase, perceiving that she could not escape--for we
were coming up with her, hand over hand, now shortened sail for action,
hoisting Dutch colours. Captain Hawkins again made his appearance on the
quarter-deck, when we were within half a mile of her.

"Are we to run alongside of her or how?" inquired I.

"Mr Simple, I command her," replied he, "and want no interference
whatever."

"Very well, sir," replied I, and I walked to the gangway.

"Mr Thompson," cried the captain, who appeared to have screwed up his
courage to the right pitch, and had now taken his position for a moment
on one of the carronades; "you will lay the brig right--"

Bang, bang--whiz, whiz--bang--whiz, came three shots from the enemy,
cleaving the air between our masts. The captain jumped down from the
carronade, and hastened to the capstern, without finishing his sentence.
"Shall we fire when we are ready, sir?" said I; for I perceived that he
was not capable of giving correct orders.

"Yes--yes, to be sure," replied he, remaining where he was.

"Thompson," said I to the master, "I think we can manage, in our present
commanding position, to get foul of him, so as to knock away his
jib-boom and fore topmast, and then she can't escape. We have good way
on her."

"I'll manage it, Simple, or my name's not Thompson," replied the master,
jumping into the quarter-boat, conning the vessel in that exposed
situation, as we received the enemy's fire.

"Look out, my lads, and pour it into her now, just as you please," said
I to the men.

The seamen were, however, too well disciplined to take immediate
advantage of my permission; they waited until we passed her, and just as
the master put up his helm, so as to catch her jib-boom between our
masts, the whole broadside was poured into his bow and chess-tree. Her
jib-boom and fore-topgallant went down, and she had so much way through
the water, that we tore clear from her, and rounding to the wind shot
a-head. The enemy, although in confusion from the effects of our
broadside, put up his helm to rake us; we perceived his manoeuvre, and
did the same, and then, squaring our sails, we ran with him before the
wind, engaging broadside to broadside. This continued about half an
hour, and we soon found that we had no fool to play with. The brig was
well fought, and her guns well directed. We had several men taken down
below, and I thought it would be better to engage her even closer. There
was about a cable's length between both vessels, as we ran before the
wind, at about six miles an hour, with a slight rolling motion.

"Thompson," said I, "let us see if we cannot beat them from their guns.
Let's port the helm and close her, till we can shy a biscuit on board."

"Just my opinion, Simple; we'll see if they won't make another sort of
running fight of it."

In a few minutes we were so close on board of her, that the men who
loaded the guns could touch each other with their rammers and sponges.
The men cheered; it was gallantly returned by the enemy, and havoc was
now commenced by the musketry on both sides. The French captain, who
appeared as brave a fellow as ever stepped, stood for some minutes on
the hammocks; I was also holding on by the swifter of the main rigging,
when he took off his hat and politely saluted me. I returned the
compliment; but the fire became too hot, and I wished to get under the
shelter of the bulwark. Still I would not go down first, and the French
captain appeared determined not to be the first either to quit the post
of honour. At last one of our marines hit him in the right arm: he
clapped his hand to the part, as if to point it out to me, nodded, and
was assisted down from the hammocks. I immediately quitted my post, for
I thought it foolish to stand as a mark for forty or fifty soldiers. I
had already received a bullet through the small of my leg. But the
effects of such close fire now became apparent: our guns were only half
manned, our sides terribly cut up, and our sails and rigging in tatters.
The enemy was even worse off, and two broadsides more brought her
mainmast by the board. Our men cheered, and threw in another broadside.
The enemy dropped astern; we rounded to rake her; she also attempted to
round to, but could not until she had cleared away her wreck, and taken
in her foresail, and lowered her topsail. She then continued the action
with as much spirit as ever.

"He's a fine fellow, by God!" exclaimed Thompson; "I never saw a man
fight his ship better: but we have him. Webster's down, poor fellow!"

"I'm sorry for it," replied I; "but I'm afraid that there are many poor
fellows who have lost the number of their mess. I think it useless
throwing away the advantage which we now have. He can't escape, and
he'll fight this way for ever. We had better run a-head, repair damages,
and then he must surrender, in his crippled state, when we attack him
again."

"I agree with you," said Thompson; "the only point is, that it will soon
be dark."

"I'll not lose sight of him, and he cannot get away. If he puts before
the wind, then we will be at him again."

We gave him the loaded guns as we forged a-head, and when we were about
half a mile from him, hove-to to repair damages.

The reader may now ask, "But where was the captain all this time?" My
answer is, that he was at the capstern, where he stood in silence, not
once interfering during the whole action, which was fought by Thompson,
the master, and myself. How he looked, or how he behaved in other points
during the engagement, I cannot pretend to say, for I had no time to
observe him. Even now I was busy knotting the rigging, rousing up new
sails to bend, and getting everything in order, and I should not have
observed him, had he not come up to me; for as soon as we had ceased
firing he appeared to recover himself. He did not, however, first
address me; he commenced speaking to the men.

"Come, be smart, my lads; send a hand here to swab up the blood. Here,
youngster, run down to the surgeon, and let him know that I wish a
report of the killed and wounded."

By degrees he talked more, and at last came up to me, "This has been
rather smartish, Mr Simple."

"Very smart indeed, sir," replied I, and then turned away to give
directions. "Maintop there, send down the hauling line on the starboard
side."

"Ay, ay, sir."

"Now then, my lads, clap on, and run it up at once."

"Maintop, there," hailed the captain, "be a little smarter, or by
G----d, I'll call you down for something." This did not come with a
good grace from one who had done nothing, to those who were working with
all their energy. "Mr Simple," said the captain, "I wish you would carry
on duty with less noise."

"At all events, he set us that example during the action," muttered the
Joe Miller; and the other men laughed heartily at the implication. In
two hours, during which we had carefully watched the enemy, who still
lay where we left him, we were again ready for action.

"Shall I give the men their grog now, sir?" said I to the captain; "they
must want it."

"No, no," replied the captain; "no, no, Mr Simple, I don't like what you
call _Dutch_ courage."

"I don't think he much does; and this fellow has shown plenty of it,"
said the Joe Miller, softly; and the men about him laughed heartily.

"I think, sir," observed I, "that it is an injustice to this fine ship's
company to hint at their requiring Dutch courage." (Dutch courage is a
term for courage screwed up by drinking freely.) "And I most
respectfully beg leave to observe, that the men have not had their
afternoon's allowance; and, after the fatigues they have undergone,
really require it."

"I command this ship, sir," replied he.

"Certainly, sir, I am aware of it," rejoined I. "She is now all ready
for action again, and I wait your orders. The enemy is two miles on the
lee quarter."

The surgeon here came up with his report.

"Good heavens!" said the captain, "forty-seven men killed and wounded,
Mr Webster dangerously. Why, the brig is crippled. We can do no more--
positively, we can do no more."

"_We can take that brig, anyhow_," cried one of the seamen from a dozen
of the men who were to leeward, expecting orders to renew the attack.

"What man was that?" cried the captain.

No one answered.

"By G----d! this ship is in a state of mutiny, Mr Simple."

"Will _soon_ be, I think," said a voice from the crowd, which I knew
very well; but the captain, having been but a short time with us, did
not know it.

"Do you hear that, Mr Simple?" cried the captain.

"I regret to say that I did hear it, sir; I little thought that ever
such an expression would have been made use of on board of the
_Rattlesnake_." Then, fearing he would ask me the man's name, and to
pretend not to have recognised it, I said, "Who was that who made use of
that expression?" But no one answered; and it was so dark, that it was
impossible to distinguish the men.

"After such mutinous expressions," observed the captain, "I certainly
will not risk His Majesty's brig under my command, as I should have
wished to have done, even in her crippled state, by again engaging the
enemy. I can only regret that the officers appear as insolent as the
men."

"Perhaps, Captain Hawkins, you will state in what, and when, I have
proved myself insolent. I cannot accuse myself."

"I hope the expression was not applied to me, sir," said Thompson, the
master, touching his hat.

"Silence, gentlemen, if you please. Mr Simple, wear round the ship."

Whether the captain intended to attack the enemy or not, we could not
tell, but we were soon undeceived; for when we were round, he ordered
her to be kept away until the Dutch brig was on our lee quarter: then
ordering the master to shape his course for Yarmouth, he went down into
the cabin, and sent up word that I might pipe to supper and serve out
the spirits.

The rage and indignation of the men could not be withheld. After they
went down to supper they gave three heavy groans in concert; indeed,
during the whole of that night, the officers who kept the watches had
great difficulty in keeping the men from venting their feeling, in what
might be almost termed justifiable mutiny. As for myself, I could hardly
control my vexation. The brig was our certain prize; and this was
proved, for the next day she hauled down her colours immediately to a
much smaller man-of-war, which fell in with her, still lying in the same
crippled state; the captain and first lieutenant killed, and nearly
two-thirds of her ship's company either killed or wounded. Had we
attacked her, she would have hauled down her colours immediately, for it
was our last broadside which had killed the captain. As first
lieutenant, I should have received my promotion, which was now lost. I
cried for vexation when I thought of it as I lay in bed. That his
conduct was severely commented upon by the officers in the gun-room, as
well as by the whole ship's company, I hardly need say. Thompson was for
bringing him to a court-martial, which I would most gladly have done, if
it only were to get rid of him; but I had a long conversation with old
Swinburne on the subject, and he proved to me that I had better not
attempt it. "For, d'ye see, Mr Simple, you have no proof. He did not run
down below; he stood his ground on deck, although he did nothing. You
can't _prove_ cowardice, then, although there can be no great doubt of
it. Again, with regard to his not renewing the attack, why, is not a
captain at liberty to decide what is the best for His Majesty's service?
And if he thought, in the crippled state of the brig, so close to the
enemy's coast, that it wasn't advisable, why, it could only be brought
in as an error in judgment. Then there's another thing which must be
remembered, Mr Simple, which is, that no captains sitting on a
court-martial will, if it be possible to extricate him, ever prove
_cowardice_ against a brother captain, because they feel that it's a
disgrace to the whole cloth."

Swinburne's advice was good, and I gave up all thoughts of proceeding;
still it appeared to me, that the captain was very much afraid that I
would, he was so extremely amiable and polite during our run home. He
said, that he had watched how well I had behaved in the action, and
would not fail to notice it. This was something, but he did not keep his
word: for his despatch was published before we quitted the roadstead,
and not the name of one officer mentioned, only generally saying, that
they conducted themselves to his satisfaction. He called the enemy a
corvette, not specifying whether she was a brig or ship corvette; and
the whole was written in such a bombastic style, that any one would have
imagined that he had fought a vessel of superior force. He stated, at
the end, that as soon as he repaired damages, he wore round, but that
the enemy declined further action. So she did--certainly--for the best
of all possible reasons, that she was too disabled to come down to us.
All this might have been contested; but the enormous list of killed and
wounded proved that we had had a hard fight, and the capture of the brig
afterwards, that we had really overpowered her. So that, on the whole,
Captain Hawkins gained a great deal of credit with some; although
whispers were afloat which came to the ears of the Admiralty, and
prevented him from being posted--the more so, as he had the modesty not
to apply for it.



Chapter LVI

Consequences of the action--A ship without a fighting captain is like a
thing without a head--So do the sailors think--A mutiny, and the loss
of our famous ship's company.


During our stay at Yarmouth, we were not allowed to put our foot on
shore, upon the plea that we must repair damages, and proceed
immediately to our station; but the real fact was, that Captain Hawkins
was very anxious that we should not be able to talk about the action.
Finding no charges preferred against him, he re-commenced his system of
annoyance. His apartments had windows which looked out upon where the
brig lay at anchor, and he constantly watched all our motions with his
spy-glass, noting down if I did not hoist up boats, &c., exactly at the
hour prescribed in his book of orders, so as to gather a list of charges
against me if he could. This we did not find out until afterwards.

I mentioned before, that when Swinburne joined us at Plymouth, he had
recommended a figure-head being put on the brig. This had been done at
O'Brien's expense--not in the cheap way recommended by Swinburne, but in
a very handsome manner. It was a large snake coiled up in folds, with
its head darting out in a menacing attitude, and the tail, with its
rattle appeared below. The whole was gilded, and had a very good effect;
but after the dock-yard men had completed the repairs, and the brig was
painted, one night the head of the rattlesnake disappeared. It had been
sawed off by some malicious and evil disposed persons, and no traces of
it were to be found. I was obliged to report this to the captain, who
was very indignant, and offered twenty pounds for the discovery of the
offender; but had he offered twenty thousand he never would have found
out the delinquent. It was, however, never forgotten; for he understood
what was implied by these manoeuvres. A new head was carved, but
disappeared the night after it was fixed on.

The rage of the captain was without bounds: he turned the hands up, and
declared that if the offender was not given up, he would flog every hand
on board. He gave the ship's company ten minutes, and then prepared to
execute his threat. "Mr Paul, turn the hands up for punishment," said
the captain, in a rage, and descended to his cabin for the articles of
war. When he was down below, the officers talked over the matter. To
flog every man for the crime of one was the height of injustice, but it
was not for us to oppose him; still the ship's company must have seen,
in our countenances, that we shared their feelings. The men were talking
with each other in groups, until they all appeared to have communicated
their ideas on the subject. The carpenters, who had been slowly bringing
aft the gratings, left off the job; the boatswain's mates, who had came
aft, rolled the tails of their cats round the red handles; and every man
walked down below. No one was left on the quarter-deck but the marines
under arms, and the officers. Perceiving this, I desired Mr Paul, the
boatswain, to send the men up to rig the gratings, and the
quarter-masters with their seizings. He came up, and said that he had
called them, but that they did not answer. Perceiving that the ship's
company would break out into open mutiny, if the captain persisted in
his intention, I went down into the cabin, and told the captain the
state of things, and wished for his orders or presence on deck.

The captain, whose wrath appeared incapable of reflection, immediately
proceeded on deck, and ordered the marines to load with ball-cartridge.
This was done; but, as I was afterwards told by Thompson, who was
standing aft, the marines loaded with powder, and put the balls into
their pockets. They wished to keep up the character of their corps for
fidelity, and at the same time not fire upon men whom they loved as
brothers, and with whom they coincided in opinion. Indeed, we afterwards
discovered that it was a _marine_ who had taken off the _head_ of the
snake a second time.

The captain then ordered the boatswain to turn the hands up. The
boatswain made his appearance with his right arm in a sling.--"What's
the matter with your arm, Mr Paul?" said I, as he passed me.

"Tumbled down the hatchway just now--can't move my arm; I must go to the
surgeon as soon as this is over."

The hands were piped up again, but no one obeyed the order. Thus was the
brig in a state of mutiny. "Mr Simple, go forward to the main hatchway
with the marines, and fire on the lower deck," cried the captain.

"Sir," said I, "there are two frigates within a cable's length of us;
and would it not be better to send for assistance, without shedding
blood? Besides, sir, you have not yet tried the effect of calling up the
carpenter's and boatswain's mates by name. Will you allow me to go down
first, and bring them to a sense of their duty?"

"Yes, I presume you know your power; but of this hereafter."

I went down below and called the men by name.

"Sir," said one of the boatswain's mates, "the ship's company say that
they will not submit to be flogged."

"I do not speak to the ship's company generally, Collins," replied I;
"but you are now ordered to rig the gratings, and come on deck. It is an
order that you cannot refuse. Go up directly, and obey it.
Quarter-masters, go on deck with your seizings. When all is ready, you
can then expostulate." The men obeyed my orders; they crawled on deck,
rigged the gratings, and stood by. "All is ready, sir," said I, touching
my hat to the captain.

"Send the ship's company aft, Mr Paul."

"Aft, then, all of you, for punishment," cried the boatswain.

"Yes, it is _all of us for punishment_," cried one voice. "We're all to
flog one another, and then pay off the _jollies_."[1]

This time the men obeyed the order; they all appeared on the
quarter-deck. "The men are all aft, sir," reported the boatswain.

"And now, my lads," said the captain, "I'll teach you what mutiny is.
You see the two frigates alongside of us. You had forgotten them, I
suppose, but I hadn't. Here, you scoundrel, Mr Jones"--(this was the Joe
Miller)--"strip, sir. If ever there was mischief in a ship, you are at
the head."

"Head, sir," said the man, assuming a vacant look; "what head, sir? Do
you mean the snake's head? I don't know anything about it, sir."--
"Strip, sir!" cried the captain in a rage; "I'll soon bring you to your
senses."

"If you please, your honour, what have I done to be tied up?" said the
man.

"Strip, you scoundrel!"--"Well, sir, if you please, it's hard to be
flogged for nothing." The man pulled off his clothes, and walked up to
the grating. The quarter-masters seized him up.

"Seized up, sir," reported the scoundrel of a sergeant of marines who
acted as the captain's spy.

The captain looked for the articles of war to read, as is necessary
previous to punishing a man, and was a little puzzled to find one, where
no positive offence had been committed. At last, he pitched upon the one
which refers to combination and conspiracy, and creating discontent. We
all took off our hats as he read it, and he then called Mr Paul, the
boatswain, and ordered him to give the man a dozen. "Please, sir," said
the boatswain, pointing to his arm in a sling, "I can't flog--I can't
lift up my arm."--"Your arm was well enough when I came on board, sir,"
cried the captain.

"Yes, sir; but in hurrying the men up, I slipped down the ladder, and
I'm afraid I've put my shoulder out."

The captain bit his lips; he fully believed it was a sham on the part of
the boatswain (which indeed it was) to get off flogging the men. "Well,
then, where is the chief boatswain's mate, Miller?"

"Here, sir," said Miller, coming forward: a stout, muscular man, nearly
six feet high, with a pig-tail nearly four feet long, and his open
breast covered with black, shaggy hair.

"Give that man a dozen, sir," said the captain.

The man looked at the captain, then at the ship's company, and then at
the man seized up, but did not commence the punishment.

"Do you hear me, sir?" roared the captain.

"If you please, your honour, I'd rather take my disrating--I--don't wish
to be chief boatswain's mate in this here business."

"Obey your orders, immediately, sir," cried the captain; "or, by God,
I'll try you for mutiny."

"Well, sir, I beg your pardon; but what must be, must be. I mean no
disrespect, Captain Hawkins, but I cannot flog that man--my conscience
won't let me."

"Your _conscience_, sir!"

"Beg your pardon, Captain Hawkins, I've always done my duty, foul
weather or fair; and I've been eighteen years in His Majesty's service,
without ever being brought to punishment; but if I am to be hung now,
saving your pleasure, and with all respect, I can't help it."

"I give you but one moment more, sir," cried the captain; "do your
duty." The man looked at the captain, and then eyed the yard-arm.
"Captain Hawkins, I will _do my duty_, although I must swing for it." So
saying he threw his cat down on the quarter-deck, and fell back among
the ship's company.

The captain was now confounded, and hardly knew how to act: to persevere
appeared useless--to fall back was almost as impossible. A dead silence
of a minute ensued. Every one was breathless with impatience, to know
what would be done next. The silence was, however, first broken by
Jones, the Joe Miller, who was seized up. "Beg your honour's pardon,
sir," said he, turning his head round; "but if I am to be flogged, will
you be pleased to let me have it over? I shall catch my death a-cold,
naked here all day." This was decided mockery, on the part of the man,
and roused the captain.

"Sergeant of marines, put Miller and that man Collins, both legs in
irons, for mutiny. My men, I perceive that there is a conspiracy in the
ship, but I shall very soon put an end to it: I know the men, and, by
God, they shall repent it. Mr Paul, pipe down. Mr Simple, man my gig;
and recollect, it's my positive orders that no boat goes on shore." The
captain left the brig, looking daggers at me as he went over the side;
but I had done my duty, and cared little for that; indeed, I was now
watching his conduct as carefully as he did mine.

"The captain wishes to tell his own story first," said Thompson, coming
up to me. "Now, if I were you, Simple, I would take care that the real
facts should be known."

"How's that to be done," replied I; "he has ordered no communication
with the shore."

"Simply by sending an officer on board of each of the frigates to state
that the brig is in a state of mutiny, and request that they will keep a
look-out upon her. This is no more than your duty as commanding officer;
you only send the message, leave me to state the facts of my own accord.
Recollect that the captains of these frigates will be summoned, if there
is a court of inquiry, which I expect will take place."

I considered a little, and thought the advice good. I despatched
Thompson first to one frigate, and then to the other. The next day the
captain came on board. As soon as he stepped on the quarter-deck he
inquired how I dare disobey his orders in sending the boats away. My
reply was that his orders were, not to communicate with the shore, but
that, as commanding officer, I considered it my duty to make known to
the other ships that the men were in a state of insubordination, that
they might keep their eyes upon us. He _kept his eyes_ upon me for some
time, and then turned away without reply. As we expected, a court of
inquiry was called, upon his representations to the admiral. About
twenty of the men were examined, but so much came out as to the _reason
why_ the head of the snake had been removed--for the sailors spoke
boldly--that the admiral and officers who were appointed strongly
recommended Captain Hawkins not to proceed further than to state that
there were some disaffected characters in the ship, and move the admiral
to have them exchanged into others. This was done, and the captains of
the frigates, who immediately gave their advice, divided all our best
men between them. They spoke very freely to me, and asked me who were
the best men, which I told them honestly, for I was glad to be able to
get them out of the power of Captain Hawkins; these they marked as
disaffected, and exchanged them for all the worst they had on board. The
few that were left ran away, and thus, from having one of the finest and
best organised ship's companies in the service, we were now one of the
very worst. Miller was sent on board of the frigate, and under
surveillance: he soon proved that his character was as good as I stated
it to be, and two years afterwards was promoted to the rank of
boatswain. Webster, the second lieutenant, would not rejoin us, and
another was appointed. I must here remark, that there is hardly any
degree of severity which a captain may not exert towards his seamen,
provided they are confident of, or he has proved to them, his courage;
but if there be a doubt, or a confirmation to the contrary, all
discipline is destroyed by contempt, and the ship's company mutiny,
either directly or indirectly. There is an old saying, that all tyrants
are cowards; that tyranny is in itself a species of meanness, I
acknowledge: but still the saying ought to be modified. If it is
asserted that all mean tyrants are cowards, I agree; but I have known in
the service most special tyrants, who were not cowards: their tyranny
was excessive, but there was no meanness in their dispositions. On the
contrary, they were generous, open-hearted, and, occasionally, when not
influenced by anger, proved that their hearts, if not quite right, were
not very much out of their places. Yet they were tyrants; but, although
tyrants, the men forgave them, and one kind act, when they were not led
away by the impetuosity of their feelings, obliterated a hundred acts of
tyranny. But such is not the case in our service with men who, in their
tyranny, are mean; the seamen show no quarter to them, and will undergo
all the risk which the severity of the articles of war renders them
liable to, rather than not express their opinion of a man whom they
despise. I do not like to mention names, but I could point out specimens
of brave tyrants, and of cowardly tyrants who have existed, and do even
now exist in our service. The present regulations have limited tyranny
to a certain degree, but it cannot check the _mean_ tyrant; for it is
not in points of consequence, likely to be brought before the notice of
his superiors, that he effects his purpose. He resorts to paltry
measures--he smiles that he may betray--he confines himself within the
limit that may protect him; and he is never exposed, unless by his
courage being called in question, which but rarely occurs; and when it
does occur it is most difficult, as well as most dangerous, to attempt
to prove it. It may be asked why I did not quit the ship, after having
been aware of the character of the captain, and the enmity which he bore
to me. In reply, I can only say that I did often think of it, talked
over the subject with my messmates, but they persuaded me to remain,
and, as I was a first lieutenant, and knew that any successful action
would, in all probability, insure my promotion, I determined, to use a
nautical expression, to rough it out, and not throw away the only chance
which I now had of obtaining my rank as commander.

[Footnote 1: Marines.]



Chapter LVII

News from home not very agreeable, although the reader may laugh--We
arrive at Portsmouth, where I fall in with my old acquaintance, Mrs
Trotter--We sail with a convoy for the Baltic.


I had written to my sister Ellen, giving her an account of all that had
passed, and mentioning the character of the captain, and his apparent
intimacy with my uncle. I received an answer from her, telling me that
she had discovered, from a very communicative old maiden lady, that
Captain Hawkins was an illegitimate son of my uncle, by a lady with whom
he had been acquainted about the time that he was in the army. I
immediately conceived the truth, that my uncle had pointed me out to him
as an object of his vengeance, and that Captain Hawkins was too dutiful
and too dependent a son not to obey him. The state of my father was more
distressing than ever, but there was something very ludicrous in his
fancies. He had fancied himself a jackass, and had brayed for a week,
kicking the old nurse in the stomach, so as to double her up like a
hedgehog. He had taken it into his head that he was a pump; and, with
one arm held out as a spout, he had obliged the poor old nurse to work
the other up and down for hours together. At another time, he had an
idea that he was a woman in labour, and they were obliged to give him a
strong dose of calomel, and borrow a child of six years old from a
neighbour, to make him believe that he was delivered. He was perfectly
satisfied, although the child was born to him in cloth trousers, and a
jacket with three rows of sugar-loaf buttons. Aye, said he, it was those
buttons which hurt my side so much. In fact, there was a string of
strange conceptions of this kind that had accumulated, so as to drive my
poor sister almost mad; and sometimes his ideas would be attended with a
very heavy expense, as he would send for architects, make contracts,
&c., for building, supposing himself to have come to the title and
property of his brother. This, being the basis of his disease, occurred
frequently. I wrote to poor Ellen, giving her my best advice, and by
this time the brig was again ready for sea, and we expected to sail
immediately. I did not forget to write to O'Brien, but the distance
between us was so great that I knew I could not obtain his answer
probably for a year, and I felt a melancholy foreboding how much I
required his advice.

Our orders were to proceed to Portsmouth, and join a convoy collected
there, bound up the Baltic, under the charge of the _Acasta_ frigate,
and two other vessels. We did not sail with any pleasure, or hopes of
gaining much in the way of prize-money. Our captain was enough to make
any ship a hell; and our ship's company were composed of a mutinous and
incorrigible set of scoundrels, with, of course, a few exceptions. How
different did the officers find the brig after losing such a captain as
O'Brien, and so fine a ship's company! But there was no help for it, and
all we had to do was to make the best of it, and hope for better times.
The cat was at work nearly every day, and I must acknowledge that,
generally speaking, it was deserved; although sometimes a report from
the sergeant of marines of any good man favoured by me, was certain to
be attended to. This system of receiving reports direct from an inferior
officer, instead of through me, as first lieutenant, became so annoying,
that I resolved, at all risk, to expostulate. I soon had an opportunity,
for one morning the captain said to me, "Mr Simple, I understand that
you had a fire in the galley last night after hours."

"It is very true, sir, that I did order a stove to be lighted; but may I
inquire whether the first lieutenant has not a discretionary power in
that point? and further, how it is that I am reported to you by other
people? The discipline of this ship is carried on by me, under your
directions, and all reports ought to come through me; and I cannot
understand upon what grounds you permit them through any other channel."

"I command my own ship, sir, and shall do as I please in that respect.
When I have officers I can confide in, I shall, in all probability,
allow them to report to me."

"If there is anything in my conduct which has proved to you that I am
incapable, or not trustworthy, I would feel obliged to you, sir, if you
would, in the first place, point it out;--and, in the next, bring me to
a court-martial if I do not correct it."

"I am no court-martial man, sir," replied he, "but I am not to be
dictated to by an inferior officer, so you'll oblige me by holding your
tongue. The sergeant of marines, as master-at-arms, is bound to report
to me any deviation from the regulations I have laid down for the
discipline of the ship."

"Granted, sir; but that report, according to the custom of the service,
should come through the first lieutenant."

"I prefer it coming direct, sir;--it stands less chance of being
garbled."

"Thank you, Captain Hawkins, for the compliment." The captain walked
away without further reply, and shortly after went down below. Swinburne
ranged up alongside of me as soon as the captain disappeared.

"Well, Mr Simple, so I hear we are bound to the Baltic. Why couldn't
they have ordered us to pick up the convoy off Yarmouth, instead of
coming all the way to Portsmouth? We shall be in to-morrow with this
slant of wind."

"I suppose the convoy are not yet collected, Swinburne; and you
recollect there's no want of French privateers in the channel."

"Very true, sir."

"When were you up the Baltic, Swinburne?"

"I was in the old _St George_, a regular old ninety-eight; she sailed
just like a hay-stack, one mile ahead and three to leeward. Lord bless
you, Mr Simple, the Cattegat wasn't wide enough for her; but she was a
comfortable sort of vessel after all, excepting on a lee-shore, so we
used always to give the land a wide berth, I recollect. By the bye, Mr
Simple, do you recollect how angry you were because I didn't peach at
Barbadoes, when the men _sucked the monkey?_"

"To be sure I do."

"Well, then, I didn't think it fair then, as I was one of them. But now
that I'm a bit of an officer, I just tell you that when we get to
Carlscrona there's a method of _sucking the monkey_ there, which, as
first lieutenant, with such a queer sort of captain, it is just as well
that you should be up to. In the old _St George_ we had seventy men
drunk one afternoon, and the first lieutenant couldn't find it out
nohow."

"Indeed, Swinburne, you must let me into that secret."

"So I will, Mr Simple. Don't you know there's a famous stuff for cuts
and wounds, called balsam?"

"What, Riga balsam?"

"Yes, that's it; well, all the boats will bring that for sale, as they
did to us in the old _St George_. Devilish good stuff it is for wounds,
I believe; but it's not bad to drink, and it's very strong. We used to
take it _inwardly_, Mr Simple, and the first lieutenant never guessed
it."

"What! you all got tipsy upon Riga balsam?"

"All that could; so I just give you a hint."

"I'm much obliged to you, Swinburne; I certainly never should have
suspected it. I believe seamen would get drunk upon anything."

The next morning we anchored at Spithead, and found the convoy ready for
sea. The captain went on shore to report himself to the admiral, and, as
usual, the brig was surrounded with bumboats and wherries, with people
who wished to come on board. As we were not known on the Portsmouth
station, and had no acquaintance with the people, all the bumboats were
very anxious to supply the ship: and, as this is at the option of the
first lieutenant, he is very much persecuted until he has made his
decision. Certificates of good conduct from other officers were handed
up the side from all of them; and I looked over the books at the
capstern. In the second book the name struck me; it was that of Mrs
Trotter, and I walked to the gangway out of curiosity, to ascertain
whether it was the same personage who, when I was a youngster, had taken
such care of my shirts. As I looked at the boats, a voice cried out, "O,
Mr Simple, have you forgot your old friend? don't you recollect Mrs
Trotter?" I certainly did not recollect her; she had grown very fat,
and, although more advanced in years, was a better-looking woman than
when I had first seen her, for she looked healthy and fresh.

"Indeed, I hardly did recollect you, Mrs Trotter."

"I've so much to tell you, Mr Simple," replied she, ordering the boat to
pull alongside; and, as she was coming up, desired the man to get the
things in, as if permission was quite unnecessary. I did not
counter-order it, as I knew none of the others, and, as far as honesty
was concerned, believed them all to be much on a par. On the strength,
then, of old acquaintance, Mrs Trotter was admitted.

"Well, I'm sure, Mr Simple," cried Mrs Trotter, out of breath with
climbing up the brig's side; "what a man you've grown,--and such a
handsome man, too! Dear, dear, it makes me feel quite old to look at
you, when I call to mind the little boy whom I had charge of in the
cockpit. Don't you think I look very old and ugly, Mr Simple?" continued
she, smiling and smirking.

"Indeed, Mrs Trotter, I think you wear very well. Pray, how is your
husband?"

"Ah, Mr Simple, poor dear Mr Trotter--he's gone. Poor fellow! no wonder;
what with his drinking, and his love for me--and his jealousy--(do you
recollect how jealous he was, Mr Simple?)--he wore himself out at last.
No wonder, considering what he had been accustomed to, after keeping his
carriage and dogs with everybody, to be reduced to see his wife go a
_bumming_. It broke his heart, poor fellow! and, Mr Simple, I've been
much happier ever since, for I could not bear to see him fretting. Lord,
how jealous he was--and all about nothing! Don't you want some fresh
meat for the gun-room? I've a nice leg of mutton in the boat, and some
milk for tea."

"Recollect, Mrs Trotter, I shall not overlook your bringing spirits on
board."

"Lord, Mr Simple, how could you think of such a thing? It's very true
that these common people do it, but the company I have kept, the society
I have been in, Mr Simple! Besides, you must recollect that I never
drank anything but water."

I could not exactly coincide with her, but I did not contradict her.

"Would you like the Portsmouth paper, Mr Simple?" taking one out of her
pocket; "I know gentlemen are fond of the news. Poor Trotter used never
to stir from the breakfast table until he had finished the daily paper--
but that was when we lived in very different style. Have you any clothes
to wash, Mr Simple,--or have any of the gentlemen?"

"I fear we have no time, we sail too soon," replied I; "we go with the
convoy."

"Indeed!" cried Mrs Trotter, who walked to the main hatchway and called
to her man Bill. I heard her give him directions to sell nothing upon
trust, in consequence of the intelligence of our immediate sailing.

"I beg your pardon, Mr Simple, I was only desiring my head man to send
for your steward, that he might be supplied with the best, and to save
some milk for the gun-room."

"And I must beg your pardon, Mrs Trotter, for I must attend to my duty."
Mrs Trotter made her courtesy and walked down the main ladder to attend
to _her duty_, and we separated. I was informed that she had a great
deal of custom, as she understood how to manage the officers, and made
herself generally useful to them. She had been a bumboat woman for six
years, and had made a great deal of money. Indeed, it was reported, that
if a _first lieutenant _wanted forty or fifty pounds, Mrs Trotter would
always lend it to him, without requiring his promissory note.

The captain came on board in the evening, having dined with the admiral,
and left directions for having all ready for unmooring and heaving short
at daylight. The signal was made from the frigate at sunrise, and before
twelve o'clock we were all under weigh, and running past St Helen's with
a favourable wind. Our force consisted of the _Acasta_ frigate, the
_Isis_ ship, sloop, mounting twenty guns, the _Reindeer_, eighteen, and
our own brig. The convoy amounted to nearly two hundred. Although the
wind was fair, and the water smooth, we were more than a week before we
made Anholt light, owing _to_ the bad sailing and inattention of many of
the vessels belonging to the convoy. We were constantly employed
repeating signals, firing guns, and often sent back to tow up the
sternmost vessels. At last we passed the Anholt light, with a light
breeze; and the next morning the main land was to be distinguished on
both bows.



Chapter LVIII

How we passed the Sound, and what passed in the Sound The Captain
overhears again a conversation between Swinburne and me.


I was on the signal-chest abaft, counting the convoy, when Swinburne
came up to me. "There's a little difference between this part of the
world and the West Indies, Mr Simple," observed he. "Black rocks and fir
woods don't remind us of the Blue Mountains of Jamaica, or the cocoa-nut
waving to the sea-breeze."

"Indeed not, Swinburne," replied I.

"We shall have plenty of calms here, without panting with the heat,
although we may find the gun-boats a little too warm for us; for, depend
upon it, the very moment the wind goes down, they will come out from
every nook and corner, and annoy us not a little."

"Have you been here before, with a convoy, Swinburne?"

"To be sure I have; and it's sharp work that I've seen here, Mr Simple--
work that I've an idea our captain won't have much stomach for."

"Swinburne, I beg you will keep your thoughts relative to the captain to
yourself; recollect the last time. It is my duty not to listen to them."

"And I should rather think to report them also, Mr Simple," said Captain
Hawkins, who had crept up to us, and overheard our conversation.

"In this instance there is no occasion for my reporting them, sir,"
replied I, "for you have heard what has passed."

"I have, sir," replied he; "and I shall not forget the conversation."

I turned forward. Swinburne had made his retreat the moment that he
heard the voice of the captain. "How many sails are there in sight,
sir?" inquired the captain.

"One hundred and sixty-three, sir," replied I.

"Signal for convoy to close from the _Acasta_" reported the midshipman
of the watch.

We repeated it, and the captain descended to his cabin. We were then
running about four miles an hour, the water very smooth, and Anholt
lighthouse hardly visible on deck, bearing N.N.W. about twenty miles. In
fact, we were near the entrance of the Sound, which, the reader may be
aware, is a narrow passage leading into the Baltic Sea. We ran on,
followed by the convoy, some of which were eight or ten miles astern of
us, and we were well into the Sound, when the wind gradually died away,
until it fell quite calm, and the heads of the vessels were laid round
the compass.

My watch was nearly out, when the midshipman, who was looking round with
his glass on the Copenhagen side, reported three gun-boats, sweeping out
from behind a point. I examined them and went down to report them to the
captain. When I came on deck, more were reported, until we counted ten,
two of them large vessels, called praams. The captain now came on deck,
and I reported them. We made the signal of enemy in sight, to the
_Acasta_, which was answered. They divided--six of them pulling along
shore towards the convoy in the rear, and four coming out right for the
brig. The _Acasta_ now made the signal for "Boats manned and armed to be
held in readiness." We hoisted out our pinnace, and lowered down our
cutters--the other men-of-war doing the same. In about a quarter of an
hour the gun-boats opened their fire with their long thirty-two
pounders, and their first shot went right through the hull of the brig,
just abaft the fore-bits; fortunately, no one was hurt. I turned round
to look at the captain; he was as white as a sheet. He caught my eye,
and turned aft, when he was met by Swinburne's eye, steadily fixed upon
him. He then walked to the other side of the deck. Another shot ploughed
up the water close to us, rose, and came through the hammock-netting,
tearing out two of the hammocks, and throwing them on the quarter-deck,
when the _Acasta_ hoisted out pennants, and made the signal to send our
pinnace and cutter to the assistance of vessels astern. The signal was
also made to the _Isis_ and _Reindeer_. I reported the signal, and
inquired who was to take the command.

"You, Mr Simple, will take the pinnace, and order Mr Swinburne into the
cutter."

"Mr Swinburne, sir!" replied I; "the brig will, in all probability, be
in action soon, and his services as a gunner will be required."

"Well, then, Mr Hilton may go. Beat to quarters. Where is Mr
Webster?"[1] The second lieutenant was close to us, and he was ordered
to take the duty during my absence.

I jumped into the pinnace, and shoved off; ten other boats from the
_Acasta_ and the other men-of-war were pulling in the same direction,
and I joined them. The gun-boats had now opened fire upon the convoy
astern, and were sweeping out to capture them, dividing themselves into
two parts, and pulling towards different portions of the convoy. In half
an hour we were within gunshot of the nearest, which directed its fire
at us; but the lieutenant of the _Acasta_, who commanded the detachment,
ordered us to lie on our oars for a minute, while he divided his force
in three divisions, of four boats each, with instructions that we should
each oppose a division of two gun-boats, by pulling to the outermost
vessel of the convoy, and securing ourselves as much as possible from
the fire, by remaining under her lee, and be in readiness to take them
by boarding, if they approached to capture any of our vessels.

This was well arranged. I had the command of one division, for the first
lieutenants had not been sent away from the _Isis_ and _Reindeer_, and
having inquired which of the divisions of gun-boats I was to oppose, I
pulled for them. In the meantime, we observed that the two praams, and
two gun-boats, which had remained behind us, and had been firing at the
_Racehorse_, had also divided--one praam attacking the _Acasta_, the two
gun-boats playing upon the _Isis_, and the other praam engaging the
_Rattlesnake _and _Reindeer_; the latter vessel being in a line with us,
and about half a mile further out, so that she could not return any
effectual fire, or, indeed, receive much damage. The _Rattlesnake_ had
the worst of it, the fire of the praam being chiefly directed to her. At
the distance chosen by the enemy, the frigate's guns reached, but the
other men-of-war, having only two long guns, were not able to return the
fire but with their two, the carronades being useless.

One of the praams mounted ten guns, and the other eight. The last was
opposed to the _Rattlesnake_, and the fire was kept up very smartly,
particularly by the _Acasta_ and the enemy. In about a quarter of an
hour I arrived with my division close to the vessel which was nearest to
the enemy. It was a large Sunderland-built ship. The gun-boats, which
were within a quarter of a mile of her, sweeping to her as fast as they
could, as soon as they perceived our approach, directed their fire upon
us, but without success, except the last discharge, in which, we being
near enough, they had loaded with grape. The shot fell a little short,
but one piece of grape struck one of the bowmen of the pinnace, taking
off three fingers of his right hand as he was pulling his oar. Before
they could fire again, we were sheltered by the vessel, pulling close to
her side, hid from the enemy. My boat was the only one in the division
which carried a gun, and I now loaded, waiting for the discharge of the
gun-boats, and then, pulling a little ahead of the ship, fired at them,
and then returned under cover to load. This continued for some time, the
enemy not advancing nearer, but now firing into the Sunderland ship,
which protected us. At last the master of the ship looked over the side,
and said to me, "I say, my joker, do you call this _giving me
assistance?_ I think I was better off before you came. Then I had only
my share of the enemy's fire, but now that you have come, I have it all.
I'm riddled like a sieve, and have lost four men already. Suppose you
give me a spell now--pull behind the vessel ahead of us. I'll take my
chance."

I thought this request very reasonable, and as I should be really nearer
to the enemy if I pulled to the next vessel, and all ready to support
him if attacked, I complied with his wish. I had positive orders not to
board with so small a force (the four boats containing but forty men,
and each gun-boat having at least seventy), unless they advanced to
capture, and then I was to run all risks.

I pulled up to the other vessel, a large brig, and the captain, as soon
as we came alongside, said, "I see what you're about, and I'll just
leave you my vessel to take care of. No use losing my men, or being
knocked on the head."

"All's right--you can't do better, and we can't do better either."

His boat was lowered down, and getting in with his men, he pulled to
another vessel, and lay behind it, all ready to pull back if a breeze
sprang up.

As was to be expected, the gun-boats shifted their fire to the deserted
vessel, which our boat lay behind; and thus did the action in our
quarter continue until it was dark, the gun-boats not choosing to
advance, and we restricted from pulling out to attack them. There was no
moon, and, as daylight disappeared, the effect was very beautiful. In
the distance, the cannonading of the frigate, and other men-of-war,
answered by the praams and gunboats, reinforced by six more, as we
afterwards found out--the vivid flashing of the guns, reflected by the
water, as smooth as glass--the dark outlines of the numerous convoy,
with their sails hanging down the masts, one portion of the convoy
appearing for a moment, as the guns were discharged in that direction,
and then disappearing, while others were momentarily seen--the roar of
the heavy guns opposed to us--the crashing of the timbers of the brig,
which was struck at every discharge, and very often perforated--with the
whizzing of the shot as it passed by;--all this in a dark yet clear
night, with every star in the heavens twinkling, and, as it were,
looking down upon us, was interesting as well as awful. But I soon
perceived that the gun-boats were nearing us every time that they fired,
and I now discharged grape alone, waiting for the flash of the fire to
ascertain their direction. At last I could perceive their long, low
hulls, not two cables' length from us, and their sweeps lifting from the
water. It was plain that they were advancing to board, and I resolved to
anticipate them if possible. I had fired ahead of the brig, and I now
pulled with all my boats astern, giving my orders to the officers, and
laying on our oars in readiness. The gun-boats were about half a cable's
length from each other, pulling up abreast, and passing us at about the
same distance, when I directed the men to give way. I had determined to
throw all my force upon the nearest boat, and in half a minute our bows
were forced between their sweeps, which we caught hold of to force our
way alongside.

The resistance of the Danes was very determined. Three times did I
obtain a footing on the deck, and three times was I thrown back into the
boats. At last we had fairly obtained our ground, and were driving them
gradually forward, when, as I ran on the gunwale to obtain a position
more in advance of my men, I received a blow with the butt end of a
musket--I believe on the shoulder--which knocked me overboard, and I
fell between the sweeps, and sunk under the vessel's bottom. I rose
under her stern; but I was so shook with the violence of the blow, that
I was for some time confused; still I had strength to keep myself above
water, and paddled, as it appeared, away from the vessel, until I hit
against a sweep which had fallen overboard. This supported me, and I
gradually recovered myself. The loud report of a gun close to me
startled me, and I perceived that it was from the gun-boat which I had
boarded, and that her head was turned in the direction of the other
gun-boat. From this, with the noise of the sweeps pulling, I knew that
my men had succeeded in capturing her. I hallooed, but they did not hear
me, and I soon lost sight of her. Another gun was now fired; it was from
the other gun-boat retreating, and I perceived her pulling in-shore, for
she passed me not twenty yards off. I now held the sweep with my hands,
and struck out off the shore, in the direction of the convoy.

A light breeze rippled the water, and I knew that I had no time to lose.
In about five minutes I heard the sound of oars, and perceived a boat
crossing me. I hailed as loud as I could--they heard me, laid on their
oars--and I hailed again--they pulled to me, and took me in. It was the
master of the brig, who, aware of the capture of one gun-boat, and the
retreat of the other, was looking for his vessel; or, as he told me, for
what was left of her. In a short time we found her, and, although very
much cut up, she had received no shot under water. In an hour the breeze
was strong, the cannonading had ceased in every direction, and we had
repaired her damages, so as to be able to make sail, and continue our
course through the Sound.

Here I may as well relate the events of the action. One of the other
divisions of gun-boats had retreated when attacked by the boats. The
other had beaten off the boats, and killed many of the men, but had
suffered so much themselves, as to retreat without making any capture.
The _Acasta_ lost four men killed, and seven wounded; the _Isis_, three
men wounded; the _Reindeer_ had nobody hurt; the _Rattlesnake_ had six
men killed, and two wounded, including the captain; but of that I shall
speak hereafter.

I found that I was by no means seriously hurt by the blow I had
received: my shoulder was stiff for a week, and very much discoloured,
but nothing more. When I fell overboard I had struck against a sweep,
which had cut my ear half off. The captain of the brig gave me dry
clothes, and in a few hours I was very comfortably asleep, hoping to
join my ship the next day; but in this I was disappointed. The breeze
was favourable and fresh, and we were clear of the Sound, but a long way
astern of the convoy, and none of the headmost men-of-war to be seen. I
dressed and went on deck, and immediately perceived that I had little
chance of joining my ship until we arrived at Carlscrona, which proved
to be the case. About ten o'clock, the wind died away, and we had from
that time such baffling light winds, that it was six days before we
dropped our anchor, every vessel of the convoy having arrived before us.

[Footnote 1: Webster, however, had left the ship at Yarmouth. See p.
202.--ED.]



Chapter LIX

The dead man attends at the auction of his own effects, and bids the
sale to stop--One more than was wanted--Peter steps into his shoes
again--Captain Hawkins takes a friendly interest in Peter's papers--
Riga Balsam sternly refused to be admitted for the relief of the ship's
company.


As soon as the sails were furled, I thanked the master of the vessel for
his kindness, and requested the boat. He ordered it to be manned,
saying, "How glad your captain will be to see you!" I doubted that. We
shook hands, and I pulled to the _Rattlesnake_, which lay about two
cables' length astern of us. I had put on a jacket, when I left the brig
on service, and coming in a merchantman's boat, no attention was paid to
me; indeed, owing to circumstances, no one was on the look-out, and I
ascended the side unperceived. The men and officers were on the
quarter-deck, attending the sale of dead men's effects before the mast;
and every eye was fixed upon six pair of nankeen trousers exposed by the
purser's steward which I recognized as my own. "Nine shillings for six
pair of nankeen trousers," cried the purser's steward.

"Come, my men, they're worth more than that," observed the captain, who
appeared to be very facetious. "It's better to be in his trousers than
in his shoes." This brutal remark created a silence for a moment. "Well,
then, steward, let them go. One would think that pulling on his trousers
would make you as afraid as he was," continued the captain, laughing.

"Shame!" was cried out by one or two of the officers, and I recognised
Swinburne's voice as one.

"More likely if they put on yours," cried I, in a loud, indignant tone.

Everybody started, and turned round; Captain Hawkins staggered to a
carronade: "I beg to report myself as having rejoined my ship, sir,"
continued I.

"Hurrah, my lads! three cheers for Mr Simple!" said Swinburne.

The men gave them with emphasis. The captain looked at me, and without
saying a word, hastily retreated to his cabin. I perceived, as he went
down, that he had his arm in a sling. I thanked the men for their kind
feeling towards me, shook hands with Thompson and Webster, who warmly
congratulated me, and then with old Swinburne, (who nearly wrung my arm
off, and gave my shoulder such pain as to make me cry out,) and with the
others who extended theirs. I desired the sale of my effects to be
stopped; fortunately for me, it had but just begun, and the articles
were all returned. Thompson had informed the captain that he knew my
father's address, and would take charge of my clothes, and send them
home, but the captain would not allow him.

In a few minutes, I received a letter from the captain, desiring me to
acquaint him in writing, for the information of the senior officer, in
what manner I had escaped. I went down below, when I found one very
melancholy face, that of the passed midshipman of the _Acasta_, who had
received an acting order in my place. When I went to my desk, I found
two important articles missing; one, my private letter-book, and the
other, the journal which I kept of what passed, and from which this
narrative has been compiled. I inquired of my messmates, who stated that
the desk had not been looked into by any one but the captain, who, of
course, must have possessed himself of those important documents.

I wrote a letter containing a short narrative of what had happened, and,
at the same time, another on service to the captain, requesting that he
would deliver up my property, the private journal, and letter-book in
his possession. The captain, as soon as he received my letters, sent up
word for his boat to be manned. As soon as it was manned, I reported it,
and then begged to know whether he intended to comply with my request.
He answered that he should not, and then went on deck, and quitted the
brig to pull on board of the senior officer. I therefore determined
immediately to write to the captain of the _Acasta_, acquainting him
with the conduct of Captain Hawkins, and requesting his interference.
This I did immediately, and the boat that had brought me on board not
having left the brig, I sent the letter by it, requesting them to put it
into the hands of one of the officers. The letter was received previous
to Captain Hawkins' visit being over, and the Captain of the _Acasta_
put it into his hands, inquiring if the statement were correct. Captain
Hawkins replied that it was true that he had detained these papers, as
there was so much mutiny and disaffection in them, and that he should
not return them to me.

"That I cannot permit," replied the captain of the _Acasta_, who was
aware of the character of Captain Hawkins; "if, by mistake, you have
been put in possession of any of Mr Simple's secrets, you are bound in
honour not to make use of them; neither can you retain property not your
own." But Captain Hawkins was determined, and refused to give them to
me.

"Well, then, Captain Hawkins," replied the captain of the _Acasta_, "you
will oblige me by remaining on my quarter-deck till I come out of the
cabin."

The captain of the _Acasta_ then wrote an order, directing Captain
Hawkins immediately to deliver up _to him_ the papers of mine in his
possession; and coming out of the cabin, put it into Captain Hawkins'
hands, saying, "Now, sir, here is a written order from your superior
officer. Disobey it, if you dare. If you do, I will put you under
arrest, and try you by a court-martial. I can only regret, that any
captain in His Majesty's service should be forced in this way to do his
duty as a gentleman and a man of honour."

Captain Hawkins bit his lip at the order, and the cutting remarks
accompanying it. "Your boat is manned, sir," said the captain of the
_Acasta_, in a severe tone. Captain Hawkins came on board, sealed up the
books, and sent them to the captain of the _Acasta_, who re-directed
them to me, on His Majesty's service, and returned them by the same
boat. The public may therefore thank the captain of the _Acasta_ for the
memoirs which they are now reading.

From my messmates I gained the following intelligence of what had passed
after I had quitted the brig. The fire of the praam had cut them up
severely, and Captain Hawkins had been struck in the arm with a piece of
the hammock-rail, which had been shot away shortly after I left.
Although the skin only was razed, he thought proper to consider himself
badly wounded; and giving up the command to Mr Webster, the second
lieutenant, had retreated below, where he remained until the action was
over. When Mr Webster reported the return of the boats, with the capture
of the gun-boat, and my supposed death, he was so delighted, that he
quite forgot his wound, and ran on deck, rubbing his hands as he walked
up and down. At last, he recollected himself, went down into his cabin,
and came up again with his arm in a sling.

The next morning he went on board of the _Acasta_, and made his report
to the senior officer, bringing back with him the disappointed
passed-midshipman as my successor. He had also stated on the
quarter-deck, that if I had not been killed, he intended to have tried
me by a court-martial, and have turned me out of the service; that he
had quite enough charges to ruin me, for he had been collecting them
ever since I had been under his command; and that now he would make that
old scoundrel of a gunner repent his intimacy with me. All this was
confided to the surgeon, who, as I before observed, was very much of a
courtier; but the surgeon had repeated it to Thompson, the master, who
now gave me the information. There was one advantage in all this, which
was that I knew exactly the position in which I stood, and what I had to
expect.

During the short time that we remained in port, I took care that _Riga
balsam_ should not be allowed to come alongside, and the men were all
sober. We received orders from the captain of the _Acasta_ to join the
admiral, who was off the Texel in pursuance of directions he had
received from the Admiralty to despatch one of the squadron, and we were
selected, from the dislike which he had taken to Captain Hawkins.



Chapter LX

An old friend in a new case--Heart of oak in Swedish fur--A man's a man
all the world over, and something more in many parts of it--Peter gets
reprimanded for being dilatory, but proves a title to a defence--
Allowed.

When we were about forty miles off the harbour, a frigate hove in sight.
We made the private signal: she hoisted Swedish colours, and kept away a
couple of points to close with us.

We were within two miles of her when she up courses and took in her
topgallant sails. As we closed to within two cables' lengths, she
hove-to. We did the same; and the captain desired me to lower down the
boat, and board her, ask her name, by whom she was commanded, and offer
any assistance if the captain required it. This was the usual custom of
the service, and I went on board in obedience to my orders. When I
arrived on the quarter-deck, I asked in French, whether there was any
one who spoke it. The first lieutenant came forward, and took off his
hat: I stated that I was requested to ask the name of the vessel and the
commanding officer, to insert it in our log, and to offer any service
that we could command. He replied that the captain was on deck, and
turned round, but the captain had gone down below. "I will inform him of
your message--I had no idea that he had quitted the deck;" and the first
lieutenant left me. I exchanged a few compliments and a little news with
the officers on deck, who appeared to be very gentlemanlike fellows,
when the first lieutenant requested my presence in the cabin. I
descended--the door was opened--I was announced by the first lieutenant,
and he quitted the cabin. I looked at the captain, who was sitting at
the table: he was a fine, stout man, with two or three ribands at his
button-hole, and a large pair of moustachios. I thought that I had seen
him before, but I could not recollect when: his face was certainly
familiar to me, but, as I had been informed by the officers on deck,
that the captain was a Count Shucksen, a person I had never heard of, I
thought that I must be mistaken. I therefore addressed him in French,
paying him a long compliment, with all the necessary _et ceteras_.

The captain turned round to me, took his hand away from his forehead,
which it had shaded, and looking me full in the face, replied, "Mr
Simple, I don't understand but very little French. Spin your yarn in
plain English."

I started--"I thought that I knew your face," replied I; "am I
mistaken?--no, it must be--Mr Chucks!"

"You are right, my dear Mr Simple: it is your old friend, Chucks, the
boatswain, whom you now see. I knew you as soon as you came up the side,
and I was afraid that you would immediately recognize me, and I slipped
down into the cabin (for which apparent rudeness allow me to apologise),
that you might not explain before the officers."

We shook hands heartily, and then he requested me to sit down. "But,"
said I, "they told me on deck that the frigate was commanded by a Count
Shucksen."

"That is my present rank, my dear Peter," said he; "but as you have no
time to lose, I will explain all. I know I can trust to your honour. You
remember that you left me, as you and I supposed, dying in the
privateer, with the captain's jacket and epaulettes on my shoulders.
When the boats came out, and you left the vessel, they boarded and found
me. I was still breathing; and judging of my rank by the coat, they put
me into the boat, and pushed on shore. The privateer sank very shortly
after. I was not expected to live, but in a few days a change took
place, and I was better. They asked me my name, and I gave my own, which
they lengthened into Shucksen, somehow or another. I recovered by a
miracle, and am now as well as ever I was in my life. They were not a
little proud of having captured a captain in the British service, as
they supposed, for they never questioned me as to my real rank. After
some weeks I was sent home to Denmark in a running vessel; but it so
happened, that we met with a gale, and were wrecked on the Swedish
coast, close to Carlscrona. The Danes were at that time at war, having
joined the Russians; and they were made prisoners, while I was of course
liberated, and treated with great distinction; but as I could not speak
either French or their own language, I could not get on very well.
However, I had a handsome allowance, and permission to go to England as
soon as I pleased. The Swedes were then at war with the Russians, and
were fitting out their fleet; but, Lord bless them! they didn't know
much about it. I amused myself walking in the dockyard, and looking at
their motions; but they had not thirty men in the fleet who knew what
they were about, and, as for a man to set them going, there wasn't one.
Well, Peter, you know I could not be idle, and so by degrees I told one,
and then told another--until they went the right way to work; and the
captains and officers were very much obliged to me. At last, they all
came to me, and if they did not understand me entirely, I showed them
how to do it with my own hands; and the fleet began to make a show with
their rigging. The admiral who commanded was very much obliged, and I
seemed to come as regularly to my work as if I was paid for it. At last,
the admiral came with an English interpreter, and asked me whether I was
anxious to go back to England, or would I like to join their service. I
saw what they wanted, and I replied that I had neither wife nor child in
England, and that I liked their country very much; but I must take time
to consider of it, and must also know what they had to propose. I went
home to my lodgings, and, to make them more anxious, I did not make my
appearance at the dockyard for three or four days, when a letter came
from the admiral, offering me the command of a frigate if I would join
their service. I replied, (for I knew how much they wanted me,) that I
would prefer an English frigate to a Swedish one, and that I would not
consent unless they offered something more; and then, with the express
stipulation that I should not take arms against my own country. They
then waited for a week, when they offered to make me a _Count_, and give
me the command of a frigate. This suited me, as you may suppose, Peter;
it was the darling wish of my heart--I was to be made a gentleman. I
consented, and was made Count Shucksen, and had a fine large frigate
under my command. I then set to work with a will, superintended the
fitting out of the whole fleet, and showed them what an Englishman could
do. We sailed, and you of course know the brush we had with the
Russians, which, I must say, did us no discredit. I was fortunate to
distinguish myself, for I exchanged several broadsides with a Russian
two-deck ship, and came off with honour. When we went into port I got
this riband. I was out afterwards, and fell in with a Russian frigate,
and captured her, for which I received this other riband. Since that I
have been in high favour, and now that I speak the languages, I like the
people very much. I am often at court when I am in harbour; and, Peter,
I am _married_."

"I wish you joy, count, with all my heart."

"Yes, and well married too--to a Swedish countess of very high family,
and I expect that I have a little boy or girl by this time. So you
observe, Peter, that I am at last a gentleman, and, what is more, my
children will be noble by two descents. Who would have thought that this
would have been occasioned by my throwing the captain's jacket into the
boat instead of my own? And now, my dear Mr Simple, that I have made you
my confidant, I need not say, do not say a word about it to anybody.
They certainly could not do me much harm, but still, they might do me
some; and although I am not likely to meet any one who may recognize me
in this uniform and these moustachios, it's just as well to keep the
secret, which to you and O'Brien only would I have confided."

"My dear count," replied I, "your secret is safe with me. You have come
to your title before me, at all events; and I sincerely wish you joy,
for you have obtained it honourably; but, although I would like to talk
with you for days, I must return on board, for I am now sailing with a
very unpleasant captain."

I then, in a few words, stated where O'Brien was; and when we parted, I
went with him on deck, Count Shucksen taking my arm, and introducing me
as an old shipmate to his officers. "I hope we may meet again," said I,
"but I am afraid there is little chance."

"Who knows?" replied he; "see what chance has done for me. My dear
Peter, God bless you! You are one of the very few whom I always loved.
God bless you, my boy! and never forget that all I have is at your
command if you come my way."

I thanked him, and saluting the officers, went down the side. As I
expected, when I came on board, the captain demanded, in an angry tone,
why I had stayed so long. I replied, that I was shown down into Count
Shucksen's cabin, and he conversed so long, that I could not get away
sooner, as it would not have been polite to have left him before he had
finished his questions. I then gave a very civil message, and the
captain said no more; the very name of a great man always silenced him.



Chapter LXI

Bad news from home, and worse on board--Notwithstanding his previous
trials, Peter forced to prepare for another--Mrs Trotter again; improves
as she grows old--Captain Hawkins and his twelve charges.


No other event of consequence occurred until we joined the admiral, who
only detained us three hours with the fleet, and then sent us home with
his despatches. We arrived, after a quiet passage, at Portsmouth, where
I wrote immediately to my sister Ellen, requesting to know the state of
my father's health. I waited impatiently for an answer, and by return of
post received one with a black seal. My father had died the day before
from a brain fever; and Ellen conjured me to obtain leave of absence, to
come to her in her state of distress. The captain came on board the next
morning, and I had a letter ready written on service to the admiral,
stating the circumstances, and requesting leave of absence. I presented
it to him, and entreated him to forward it. At any other time I would
not have condescended, but the thoughts of my poor sister, unprotected
and alone, with my father lying dead in the house, made me humble and
submissive. Captain Hawkins read the letter, and very coolly replied,
"that it was very easy to say that my father was dead, but he required
proofs." Even this insult did not affect me; I put my sister's letter
into his hand--he read it, and as he returned it to me, he smiled
maliciously. "It is impossible for me to forward your letter, Mr Simple,
as I have one to deliver to you."

He put a large folio packet into my hand, and went below. I opened it:
it was a copy of a letter demanding a court-martial upon me, with a long
list of the charges preferred by him. I was stupefied, not so much at
his asking for a court-martial, but at the conviction of the
impossibility of my now being able to go to the assistance of my poor
sister. I went down into the gunroom and threw myself on a chair, at the
same time tossing the letter to Thompson, the master. He read it over
carefully, and folded it up.

"Upon my word, Simple, I do not see that you have much to fear. These
charges are very frivolous."

"No, no--that I care little about; but it is my poor sister. I had
written for leave of absence, and now she is left, God knows how long,
in such distressing circumstances."

Thompson looked grave. "I had forgotten your father's death, Simple: it
is indeed cruel. I would offer to go myself, but you will want my
evidence at the court-martial. It can't be helped. Write to your sister,
and keep up her spirits. Tell her why you cannot come, and that it will
all end well."

I did so, and went early to bed, for I was really ill. The next morning,
the official letter from the port-admiral came off, acquainting me that
a court-martial had been ordered upon me, and that it would take place
that day week. I immediately resigned the command to the second
lieutenant, and commenced an examination into the charges preferred.
They were very numerous, and dated back almost to the very day that he
had joined the ship. There were twelve in all. I shall not trouble the
reader with the whole of them, as many were very frivolous. The
principal charges were--

1. For mutinous and disrespectful conduct to Captain Hawkins, on such a
date, having, in a conversation with an inferior officer on the
quarter-deck, stated that Captain Hawkins was a spy, and had spies in
the ship.

2. For neglect of duty, in disobeying the orders of Captain Hawkins on
the night of the ---- of ----.

3. For having, on the ---- of ----, sent away two boats from the ship,
in
direct opposition to the orders of Captain Hawkins.

4. For having again, on the morning of the ---- of ----, held mutinous
and disrespectful conversation relative to Captain Hawkins with the
gunner of the ship, allowing the latter to accuse Captain Hawkins of
cowardice, without reporting the same.

5. For insulting expressions on the quarter-deck to Captain Hawkins on
his rejoining the brig on the morning of the ---- of ----.

6. For not causing the orders of Captain Hawkins to be put in force on
several occasions, &c. &c. &c.

And further, as Captain Hawkins' testimony was necessary in two of the
charges, the king, on _those charges, _was the prosecutor. Although most
of these charges were frivolous, yet I at once perceived my danger. Some
were dated back many months, to the time before our ship's company had
been changed: and I could not find the necessary witnesses. Indeed, in
all but the recent charges, not expecting to be called to a
court-martial, I had serious difficulties to contend with. But the most
serious was the first charge, which I knew not how to get over.
Swinburne had most decidedly referred to the captain when he talked of
spy captains. However, with the assistance of Thompson, I made the best
defence I could, ready for my trial.

Two days before my court-martial I received a letter from Ellen, who
appeared in a state of distraction from this accumulation of misfortune.
She told me that my father was to be buried the next day, and that the
new rector had written to her, to know when it would be convenient for
the vicarage to be given up. That my father's bills had been sent in,
and amounted to twelve hundred pounds already; and that she knew not the
extent of the whole claims. There appeared to be nothing left but the
furniture of the house; and she wanted to know whether the debts were to
be paid with the money I had left in the funds for her use. I wrote
immediately, requesting her to liquidate every claim, as far as my money
went, sending her an order upon my agent to draw for the whole amount,
and a power of attorney to him to sell out the stock.

I had just sealed the letter, when Mrs Trotter, who had attended the
ship since our return to Portsmouth, begged to speak with me, and walked
in after her message, without waiting for an answer. "My dear Mr
Simple," said she, "I know all that is going on, and I find that you
have no lawyer to assist you. Now I know that it is necessary, and will
very probably be of great service in your defence--for when people are
in distress and anxiety, they have not their wits about them; so I have
brought a friend of mine from Portsea, a very clever man, who, for my
sake, will undertake your cause, and I hope you will not refuse him. You
recollect giving me a dozen pair of stockings. I did not refuse them,
nor shall you refuse me now. I always said to Mr Trotter, 'Go to a
lawyer;' and if he had taken my advice he would have done well. I
recollect, when a hackney-coachman smashed the panel of our carriage--
'Trotter,' says I, 'go to a lawyer;' and he very politely answered, 'Go
to the devil!' But what was the consequence!--he's dead and I'm
bumming. Now, Mr Simple, will you oblige me?--it's all free gratis for
nothing--not for nothing, for it's for my sake. You see, Mr Simple, I
have admirers yet," concluded she, smiling.

Mrs Trotter's advice was good; and although I would not listen to
receiving his services gratuitously, I agreed to employ him; and very
useful did he prove against such charges, and such a man as Captain
Hawkins. He came on board that afternoon, carefully examined into all
the documents and the witnesses whom I could bring forward, showed me
the weak side of my defence, and took the papers on shore with him.
Every day he came on board to collect fresh evidence and examine into my
case.

At last the day arrived. I dressed myself in my best uniform. The gun
fired from the admiral's ship, with the signal for a court-martial at
nine o'clock; and I went on board in a boat, with all the witnesses. On
my arrival, I was put under the custody of the provost-marshal. The
captains ordered to attend pulled alongside one after another, and were
received by a party of marines, presenting their arms.

At half-past nine the court was all assembled, and I was ushered in.
Courts-martial are open courts, although no one is permitted to print
the evidence. At the head of the long table was the admiral, as
president; on his right hand, standing, was Captain Hawkins, as
prosecutor. On each side of the table were six captains, sitting near to
the admiral, according to their seniority. At the bottom, facing the
admiral, was the judge-advocate, on whose left hand I stood, as
prisoner. The witnesses called in to be examined were stationed on his
right; and behind him, by the indulgence of the court, was a small
table, at which sat my legal adviser, so close as to be able to
communicate with me. The court were all sworn, and then took their
seats. Stauncheons, with ropes covered with green baize, passed along,
were behind the chairs of the captains who composed the court, so that
they might not be crowded upon by those who came in to listen to what
passed. The charges were then read, as well as the letters to and from
the admiral, by which the court-martial was demanded and granted: and
then Captain Hawkins was desired to open his prosecution. He commenced
with observing his great regret that he had been forced to a measure so
repugnant to his feelings; his frequent cautions to me, and the
indifference with which I treated them; and, after a preamble composed
of every falsity that could be devised, he commenced with the first
charge, and stating himself to be the witness, gave his evidence. When
it was finished, I was asked if I had any questions to put. By the
advice of my lawyer, I replied, "No." The president then asked the
captains composing the court-martial, commencing according to their
seniority, whether they wished to ask any questions.

"I wish," said the second captain who was addressed, "to ask Captain
Hawkins whether, when he came on deck, he came up in the usual way in
which a captain of a man-of-war comes on his quarter-deck, or whether he
slipped up without noise?"

Captain Hawkins declared that he came up as he _usually did._ This was
true enough, for he invariably came up by stealth.

"Pray, Captain Hawkins, as you have repeated a good deal of conversation
which passed between the first lieutenant and the gunner, may I ask you
how long you were by their side without their perceiving you?"

"A very short time," was the answer.

"But, Captain Hawkins, do you not think, allowing that you came up on
deck in your _usual_ way, as you term it, that you would have done
better to have hemmed or hawed, so as to let your officers know that you
were present? I should be very sorry to hear all that might be said of
me in my supposed absence."

To this observation Captain Hawkins replied, that he was so astonished
at the conversation, that he was quite breathless, having, till then,
had the highest opinion of me.

No more questions were asked, and they proceeded to the second charge.
This was a very trifling one--for lighting a stove, contrary to orders;
the evidence brought forward was the sergeant of marines. When his
evidence in favour of the charge had been given, I was asked by the
president if I had any questions to put to the witness. I put the
following:--

"Did you repeat to Captain Hawkins that I had ordered the stove to be
lighted?"--"I did."

"Are you not in the custom of reporting, direct to the captain, any
negligence, or disobedience of orders, you may witness in the ship?"--"I
am."

"Did you ever report anything of the sort to me, as first lieutenant, or
do you always report direct to the captain?"

"I always report direct to the captain."

"By the captain's orders?"--"Yes."

The following questions were then put by some of the members of the
court:--

"You have served in other ships before?"--"Yes."

"Did you ever, sailing with other captains, receive an order from them
to report direct to them, and not through the first lieutenant?" The
witness here prevaricated.

"Answer directly, yes or no."--"No."

The third charge was then brought forward--for sending away boats
contrary to express orders. This was substantiated by Captain Hawkins'
own evidence, the order having been verbal. By the advice of my counsel,
I put no questions to Captain Hawkins, neither did the court.

The fourth charge--that of holding mutinous conversation with the
gunner, and allowing him to accuse the captain of unwillingness to
engage the enemy--was then again substantiated by Captain Hawkins, as
the only witness. I again left my reply for my defence; and only one
question was put by one of the members, which was, to inquire of Captain
Hawkins, as he appeared peculiarly unfortunate in overhearing
conversations, whether he walked up as usual to the taffrail, or whether
he _crept up._ Captain Hawkins gave the same answer as before.

The fifth charge--for insulting expressions to Captain Hawkins, on my
rejoining the brig at Carlscrona--was then brought forward, and the
sergeant of marines and one of the seamen appeared as witnesses. This
charge excited a great deal of amusement. In the cross-examination by
the members of the court, Captain Hawkins was asked what he meant by the
expression, when disposing of the clothes of an officer who was killed
in action, that the men appeared to think that his trousers would instil
fear.

"Nothing more, upon my honour, sir," replied Captain Hawkins, "than an
implication that they were alarmed lest they should be haunted by his
ghost."

"Then, of course, Mr Simple meant the same in his reply," observed the
captain sarcastically.

The remainder of the charges were then bro