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Title: As We Sweep Through The Deep
Author: Stables, Gordon, 1840-1910
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "As We Sweep Through The Deep" ***

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 [Illustration: "_On the deck of a French man-o'-war._"
                Page 186.]



                        AS WE SWEEP
                      THROUGH THE DEEP


     [Illustration: "_The figure glided towards him._"
                                              Page 66.]


                     T. NELSON AND SONS
               London, Edinburgh, and New York



                           AS WE
                       SWEEP THROUGH
                         THE DEEP

            _A Story of the Stirring Times of Old_

                            BY
                  DR. GORDON-STABLES, R.N.,
              _Author of "Hearts of Oak," &c._


                    T. NELSON AND SONS
              _London, Edinburgh, and New York_
                           1894



CONTENTS.


     I. POOR JACK,                                     9
    II. "HE NEVER SAID HE LOVED ME,"                  20
   III. AN INTERRUPTED PROPOSAL,                      27
    IV. THE BATTLE AND THE BREEZE,                    33
     V. "NOW THIS GOOD BLADE SHALL BE MY BRIDE,"      43
    VI. A BOLT FROM THE BLUE,                         54
   VII. "WENT GLIDING AWAY LIKE A BEAUTIFUL GHOST,"   61
  VIII. ON BOARD THE SAUCY "TONNERAIRE,"              70
    IX. "A SPLENDID NIGHT'S WORK, TOM!"               78
     X. IN THE MOON'S BRIGHT WAKE,                    87
    XI. THE PHANTOM FRENCHMAN,                        94
   XII. A BATTLE BY NIGHT,                           103
  XIII. A HAPPY SHIP,                                111
   XIV. MUTINY,                                      123
    XV. BEFORE CADIZ,                                129
   XVI. JACK AND THE MUTINEERS,                      138
  XVII. IN A FOOL'S PARADISE,                        145
 XVIII. "WOULD HE EVER COME AGAIN?"                  152
   XIX. THE BATTLE OF CAMPERDOWN,                    162
    XX. NELSON AND THE NILE,                         171
   XXI. WILLIE DIED A HERO'S DEATH,                  180
  XXII. STILL WATERS RUN DEEP,                       189
 XXIII. "IT'S ALL UP, MR. RICHARDS, IT'S ALL UP!"    197
  XXIV. BY THE OLD DIAL-STONE,                       206



 [Illustration]

_As We Sweep through the Deep._

CHAPTER I.

POOR JACK.

    "As ye sweep through the deep
       While the stormy winds do blow,
     While the battle rages loud and long,
       And the stormy winds do blow."
                                 CAMPBELL.


"Just two years this very day since poor Jack Mackenzie sailed away from
England in the _Ocean Pride_."

Mr. Richards, of the tough old firm of Griffin, Keane, and Co.,
Solicitors, London, talked more to himself than to any one within
hearing.

As he spoke he straightened himself up from his desk in a weary kind of
way, and began to mend his pen: they used quills in those good old
times.

"Just two years! How the time flies! And we're not getting any younger.
Are we, partner?"

Whether Mr. Keane heard what he said or not, he certainly did not reply
immediately. He was standing by the window, gazing out into the
half-dark, fog-shaded street.

"Fog, fog, fog!" he grunted peevishly; "nothing but fog and gloom. Been
nothing else all winter; and now that spring has all but come, why it's
fog, fog, fog, just the same! Tired of it--sick of it!"

Then he turned sharply round, exclaiming, "What did you say about Jack
and about growing younger?"

Mr. Richards smiled a conciliatory smile. He was the junior partner
though the older man--if that is not a paradox--for his share in the
firm was not a quarter as large as Keane's, who was really Keane by name
and keen by nature, of small stature, with dark hair turning gray,
active, business-like, and a trifle suspicious.

Mr. Richards was delightfully different in every way--a round rosy face
that might have belonged to some old sea-captain, a bald and rosy
forehead, hair as white as drifted snow, and a pair of blue eyes that
always seemed brimming over with kindness and good-humour.

"I was talking more to my pen than to you," he said quietly.

"But what's given you Jack on the brain, eh?"

"Oh, nothing--nothing in particular, that is. I happened to turn to his
account, that is all."

"Bother him. Yes, and but for you, Richards, never an account should
_he_ have had with _us_."

"Well, Jack gets round me somehow. He is not half a bad lad, with his
dash and his fun and his jollity. Ay, and his ways are very winning
sometimes. He does get round one, partner."

"I don't doubt it, Richards. Winning enough when he wants to get round
you and wheedle cash out of you. I tell you what, partner: Jack's got
all his father's aristocratic notions, all his father's pride and
improvidence. Ay, and he'd ruin his dad too, if--if--"

"If what, partner?"

"Why, if his dad weren't ruined already."

"Come, come, Keane, it isn't quite so bad as that."

"Pretty nigh it, I can assure you. And I can't get the proud old Scot
to retrench. Why doesn't he let that baronial hall of his, instead of
sticking to it and mortgaging it in order to keep up appearances and
entertain half the gentry in the county? Why doesn't he take a
five-roomed cottage, and let his daughter teach the harp that she
plays so well?"

"O partner! Come, you know!"

"Well, 'O partner' as much as you like; if old Mackenzie's pride were
proper pride, his daughter would take in washing sooner than the family
should go deeper in debt every day. But the crisis will come; somebody
will foreclose."

"You won't surely, partner?"

"Bother your sentiment, Richards. He owes me over forty thousand pounds.
Think of that. I declare I believe I'd be a better landlord than Mack
himself. Forty thousand pounds, Richards, and I don't see any way of
getting a penny, except by--"

"Except by foreclosing?"

Richards sighed as he bent once more over his desk. He had been family
lawyer to Mackenzie before he joined the firm of Griffin, Keane, and
Co., and dearly loved the family, or what was left of it.

He tried to work but couldn't now. Presently he closed the ledger with a
bang and got down off his stool.

"I say, Keane." he said, "I see a way out of this. Look here. You have
nobody to leave your wealth to except dear little Gerty--"

"Well?"

"Well, Jack is precious fond of her; why not--"

"He, he, he! ho, ho, ho!" laughed Keane. "Why, Richards, you're in your
dotage, man! I've a _baronet_ in view for Gerty. And Jack is a _beggar_,
although he does swing a sword at his side and fight the French."

Richards went back to his stool quiet and subdued. "Poor Jack!" he
muttered.

       *       *       *       *       *

"Just two years this very day, Gerty dear, since poor Jack sailed away
from England in the _Ocean Pride_."

Flora Mackenzie bent listlessly over the harp she had been playing as
she spoke, her fingers touching a chord or two that seemed in unison
with her thoughts. The two girls, Gerty Keane and she, who were seldom
separate now, by day or night, sat in Flora's boudoir, which had two
great windows opening on to a balcony and overlooking the grand old
gardens of Grantley Hall, Suffolk. Grant Mackenzie, a sturdy old
one-armed soldier, was the proud owner of the Hall and all the wide,
wooded landscape for miles around. Jack, now far away at sea, was his
heir, and with his sister Flora, the only children the general had. The
fine old soldier had been in possession of the property only about a
dozen years, yet I fear he had inherited something else--namely, the
lordly fashions of his Highland ancestry. That branch of the Clan
Mackenzie to which he belonged was nothing unless proud. So long as it
could hold its head a little higher than its neighbours it was happy,
and when poverty came then death might follow as soon as it pleased.
There was every appearance of unbounded wealth in and around Grantley
Hall. The house was a massive old Elizabethan mansion, half buried in
lofty lime and elm and oak trees, approached by a winding drive, and a
long way back from the main road that leads through this beautiful shire
from north to south.

Everything was large connected with the Hall and estate. There were no
finer trees anywhere in England than those sturdy oaks and elms, no more
stately waving pine trees, and no more shady drooping limes than those
that bordered the broad grass ride which stretched for many a mile
across the estate. On the park-like lawn in front of the house--if this
ancient quaint old pile could be said to have a front--the flower-beds
were as big as suburban gardens, the statuary, the fountains, and even
the gray and moss-grown dial-stone were gigantic; and nowhere else in
all this vast and wealthy county were such stately herons seen as those
that sailed around Grantley and built in its trees. The entrance-hall
was spacious and noble, though the porch was comparatively small; but
if divested of its banners and curtains and emptied of its antique
furniture, its wealth-laden tables, on which jewelled arms and curios
from every land under the sun seemed to have been laid out for show,
its oaken chests, its sideboards, its organ and many another musical
instrument ancient and modern, the drawing-room was large enough to have
driven a coach-and-four around.

The bedrooms above were many of them so lofty that in the dead, dull
winter two great fires in each could hardly keep them warm.

The room in which the girls sat was the tartan boudoir. The walls were
draped with clan tartans, and eke the lounges and chairs; while the
heads of many a royal stag adorned the walls, amidst tastefully
displayed claymores, spears, shields, and dirks, and pistols.

"Just two years, Gerty. How quickly the time has fled!"

"Just two years, Flora. Strange that I should have been thinking about
Jack this very moment. But then you were playing one of Jack's favourite
airs, you know."

Flora got up from her seat at the harp. A tall and graceful girl she
was, with a wealth of auburn hair, and blue dreamy eyes, and eyelashes
that swept her sun-tinted cheeks when she looked downwards.

She got up from her seat, and went and knelt beside the couch on which
Gerty was lounging with a book.

"Why strange, sister?" she asked, taking Gerty's hand.

Gerty was _petite_, blonde, bewitching--so many a young man said, and
many a rough old squire as well. She was no baby in face, however.
Although of the purest type of Saxon beauty--without the square chin
that so disfigures many an otherwise lovely English face--there was fire
and character in every lineament of Gerty Keane's countenance.

She answered Flora calmly, candidly, quietly--I am almost inclined to
say, in a business way that reminded one of her father.

"Dear Flo," she said--and her eyes as she spoke had a sad and far-away
look in them--"it would be unmaidenly in me to say how much I should
like to be your sister in reality. It may not be strange for me to
think of Jack; we have liked each other, almost loved each other, since
childhood."

"Almost?" said Flora.

"Listen, Flo. I _may_ love Jack, but there is one other I love even
more."

"Sir Digby, Gerty?"

"No, dear Flo, but my father. I love him more because he has few
friends, and because others do not love him. I would do anything for
father."

"You would even marry Sir Digby?"

"Perhaps."

"O Gerty! poor Jack will break his heart."

She buried her face in the pillow for a few moments. She was struggling
with the grief that bid fair to choke her. When she looked up again
there was nothing but softness in Gerty's face, and tears were coursing
down her cheeks--tears she made no effort to wipe away.

Poor Jack!

       *       *       *       *       *

"Just two years to-day, Tom, since you and I sailed away from dear old
England in the _Ocean Pride_."

"And hasn't the time flown too?" said Tom.

"Ah! but then we've been so busy. Just think of the many actions we've
fought."

"True, Jack, true! What a lucky, ay, and what a glorious thing for young
fellows like us to be in a ship commanded by so daring a sailor as Sir
Sidney Salt!"

"Yes, Tom, yes. And think of the haul of prize-money we shall have when
we once more touch British ground."

"O Jack, I _am_ surprised. Money! A Mackenzie of _the_ Mackenzies to be
mercenary! Jack, Jack!"

Jack and Tom were keeping their watch--that is, it was Tom's watch, and
Jack had come on deck to bear him company and talk of home.

Under every stitch of canvas, with a bracing beam wind that filled every
sail, jib, and square, and stay, the bold frigate _Ocean Pride_ was
skimming across the Atlantic like a veritable sea-bird. She was bound
for the lone Bermudas, and the night was a heavenly one. So no wonder
that, as the two young sailors leaned over the bulwarks and gazed at the
moonlit water that seemed all a-shimmer with gold, their thoughts went
back to their homes in merry England.

"Listen, Tom; don't call me mercenary, bo'. Did you ever hear those
lines of Burns, our great national bard?--

    'O poortith cauld and restless love,
       Ye wreck my peace between ye;
     But poortith cauld I well could bear,
       If it werena for my Jeannie.'

Yes, Tom; I love the sweetest lass ever wooed by sailor lad. Does she
love me? Was that what you asked, Tom? She never said so, bo'; but ah! I
know she does, and as sure as yonder moon is shining she is thinking of
me even now. But sit here on the skylight till I tell you, Tom, where
the 'poortith' comes in."

And sitting there, with the moonlight streaming clear on both their
earnest young faces, and on their snow-white powdered hair, Jack poured
into the ear of his friend a story that was at once both sorrowful and
romantic.

Tom listened quietly till the very end, then he stretched out his soft
right hand and clasped his friend's.

"Poor Jack!" he said.

"Ay, _poor_ Jack indeed! And now I'll go below. I want to think and
maybe dream of home and Gerty."



CHAPTER II.

"HE NEVER SAID HE LOVED ME."

    "The feast was over in Branksome Tower,
     And the ladye had gone to her secret bower.

           *       *       *

     The tables were drawn, it was idlesse all;
       Knight and page and household squire
     Loitered through the lofty hall,
       Or crowded around the ample fire."--SCOTT.


"Look your best, and act your best." That was all the letter said, and
it was signed "Your affectionate father, Henry Keane."

It was the eve of a great party, to be held next day at Grantley Hall,
in honour of the coming of age of the only son of General Grant
Mackenzie, about a month after the incident described in last chapter.

Gerty sat alone in her room, just as the shadows of this beautiful
evening in spring were beginning to deepen into night. She held the
letter crumpled in her hand.

"Poor Jack!" she mentally observed. "His coming of age, and he not here!
What a mockery! And dear Flora too. Oh, if she were but aware that
hardly anything in this great house belongs to her father--all
mortgaged, or nearly all. It is well, perhaps, she is kept in the dark.
Her proud heart would be crushed in the dust if she but knew even a
part. But poor Jack--is it possible, I wonder? he _might_ come. Oh, what
joy just to see his dear old face again once in a way! But ah, dear me!
it may be better not. Besides, Jack never said he loved me. Oh, but he
does. It is mean of me to compound with my feelings. No; I shall face
the whole position. Father never asked me to marry Sir Digby Auld. Nay,
he knows his daughter's spirit too well. For the love I bear father I
would do anything, so long as no command were issued. Poor Jack! Poor
father!--well, and I may add, poor Sir Digby! He is so good and gentle.
Ah me! my life's bark seems drifting into unknown seas, and all is
darkness and mist. What can I do but drift? Oh yes, I can hope. I am so
young, and Jack is not old. We shall both forget; I am sure we shall.
Moore says--

    'There's nothing half so sweet in life
            As love's young dream.'

The poet is right. But then it does not last. In the unknown seas into
which my bark is drifting all will be brightness and sunshine. Digby
will be always kind, and father will be happy and gay. The people will
love him, dear lonesome father! Away from the bustle and din and fogs of
London, his life will enter a new lease. And Jack will visit us often,
and together he and I will laugh over our childhood's amours. Digby is
too good to be jealous. I wonder if Jack will marry; I had never thought
of that. Oh dear, oh dear! my victory over self will not be such an easy
one as I had imagined. I hope Jack won't marry that hateful Gordon girl,
nor any of those simpering Symonses. But, after all, what does it matter
to me whom Jack marries? I begin to think I am very mean after all; I
hate myself. Positively I--"

"Come in."

"Sir Digby has called, Miss Keane, and desires to see you for a moment.
He is in the tartan boudoir."

"Tell him, Smith, that I am sorry I cannot leave my room--that I have a
headache--that--stay, Smith, stay. Say that I shall be down in a few
minutes."

"Yes, Miss Gertrude."

"It is best over," she murmured to herself as Smith left.

She touched the bell, and next minute she was seated before a tall
mirror, at each side of which burned a star of candles, and her maid was
dressing her hair.

"Mary," she said, as she rose and smoothed out the folds of her blue
silk dress, "do I look my best?"

"Oh, Miss Keane, you look 'most like a fairy--the low-bodied blue, and
the pink camellia in your hair. You are so beautiful that if _I_ were a
knight I should come for you with a chariot and six, and carry you away
to my castle, and have a real live dragon o' purpose to guard you--I
would really, miss."

"Do you think, Mary, I could act well?"

"Oh, Miss Keane, how you do talk! Actors is low. Miss Gerty, always look
your best; but acting--no, no, miss, I won't have she."

And Mary tossed her head regardless of grammar.

Mary was a little Essex maid that Miss Keane had had for years, and had
succeeded in spoiling, as children are spoiled.

"Ah dear," said the girl, "and to think that to-morrow is Jack's coming
o' age, and he won't be here! You don't mind _me_ a-callin' of him Jack,
does ye, Miss Gerty? Heigh-ho! didn't he used to chuck me under the chin
just, the dear, bright boy? 'Mary,' he says once, 'when I comes of age I
means to marry you right off the reel.' And I took him in my arms and
kissed him on what Tim would call the spur o' the moment. Then Jack ups
with a glass o' ale--it were in the kitching, miss--and he jumps on to a
chair and draws his navy dirk. 'Here's the way,' he cries, 'that they
tosses cans in the service. And I'll give you a toast,' he says. 'I
drinks

    'To the wind that blows,
     And the ship that goes,
     And the girl as loves a sailor,
          Hip, hip, hooray!'

But run away, Miss Gerty. Only _no_ acting, mind. Oh dear, oh dear! I
wish poor Jack would come."

       *       *       *       *       *

"Ah, Jack, my bo'," cried Tom, meeting his friend on the quarter-deck
just after divisions, "let me congratulate you. You've come of age this
very morning. Tip us your flipper, Jack. Why, you don't look very gay
over it after all. Feeling old, I daresay--farewell to youth and that
sort of game. Never mind; I'm going to see the surgeon presently. Old
M'Hearty is a splendid fellow, and he'll find an excuse for splicing the
main-brace, you may be sure. Why, Jack, on such an eventful occasion all
hands should rejoice. Ah, here comes the doctor!--Doctor, this is Jack's
birthday, and he's come of age, and--"

 [Illustration: _"Tom, I shall not survive this battle."_
                Page 26.]

"Sail in sight, sir!"

It was a hail from the mast-head--a bold and sturdy shout that was heard
from bowsprit to binnacle by all hands on deck, and that even penetrated
to the ward-room, causing every officer there to spring from his seat
and hurry on deck.

The captain, Sir Sidney Salt, came slowly forth from his cabin. A daring
sailor was Sir Sidney as ever braved gale or faced a foe. Hardly over
the middle height, with clean shaven face and faultless cue, his age
might have been anything from thirty to forty; but in those mild blue
eyes of his no one, it was said, had ever seen a wrathful look, not even
when engaged hand-to-hand in a combat to the death on the blood-slippery
battle-deck of a French man-o'-war.

"Run aloft, Mr. Mackenzie," he said now, "and see what you make of
her."

In five minutes' time, or even less, young Grant Mackenzie stood once
more on the quarter-deck, and the drum was beating to arms.

No one would break with a loud word the hushed and solemn silence that
fell upon the ship after the men, stripped to the waist, had stood to
their guns; and as barefooted boys passed from group to group,
scattering the sawdust that each one knew might soon be wet with his own
or a comrade's life-blood, many an eye was turned skywards, and many a
lip was seen to move in prayer.

Jack and Tom stood together. The former was pale as death. "Tom," he
whispered, "I had a terrible dream last night. I shall not survive this
battle; I do not wish to. Tell her, Tom, tell Gerty I died sword in
hand, and that, false as she is, my last thoughts were--"

"Stand by the larboard guns!"

Jack and Tom flew to their quarters, and in the terrible fight that
followed neither love itself nor thoughts of home, except in the minds
of the wounded and dying that were borne below, could find a place.



CHAPTER III.

AN INTERRUPTED PROPOSAL.

    "None without hope e'er loved the brightest fair,
     But love can hope when reason would despair."


Perhaps never was youthful maiden less prepared to listen to the
addresses of a would-be wooer than was Gerty Keane when she entered the
tartan boudoir that evening at Grantley Hall. She was little more than a
child even now, only lately turned seventeen; and before Jack went away
to sea--now two years and a month ago--I believe that most of the
love-making between them had been conducted through the media of
bon-bons and an occasional wild flower, though it ended with farewell
tears, a lock of bonnie hair, and a miniature, both of which Jack had
taken away with him, and, like a true lover, worn next his heart ever
since the parting.

Gerty's cheeks were flushed to-night, her eyes shone, her very lips were
rosier than usual.

Sir Digby Auld sprang up as nimbly as his figure would permit, and
advanced to meet the girl with outstretched hands. The baronet was
verging on forty, but dressed in the height of youthful fashion; he was
a trifle pompous, and he was likewise a trifle podgy.

As a shopkeeper or clerk there would have been nothing very attractive
about Digby, but as a baronet he was somewhat of a success. There was
nothing, however, in his fair, soft, round face or washed-out blue eyes
calculated to influence the tender passion in one of the opposite sex;
only he was excessively good-natured, and it is very nice of a baronet
to be excessively good-natured and condescending, especially when
everybody knows he may become a lord as soon as another noble lord
chooses to die. Everybody knew also of Sir Digby's passion for Gerty
Keane, and for this very reason used to say sneering and ill-natured
things behind the baronet's back; for people were not a whit better in
those "good old times" than they are now.

Whenever Sir Digby sailed into a drawing-room that happened to possess a
sprinkling of marriageable girls of various ages, from sixteen to--say
sixty, he sailed into an ocean of smiles; but if Gerty were there, he
appeared to notice no one else in the room. Whenever Sir Digby sailed
out again, their tongues began to wag, both male and female tongues, but
particularly the latter.

But on the particular evening when Sir Digby Auld solicited an interview
with Gerty, he had dressed with more than his usual care, and wore his
softest, oiliest smile.

"O Gerty," he cried, "I'm _de_lighted beyond measure! How beautiful you
look to-night! No star in all the firmament half so radiant as your
eyes; no rose that ever bloomed could rival the blush on your cheek!"

Sir Digby had practised this little speech for half-an-hour in front of
the glass while waiting for Gerty.

The girl didn't seem to hear him; or if she did, she did not heed. He
led her passive to a seat, and drew his own chair nearer to hers than
ever he had sat before.

There was a sad kind of expression in Gerty's face, and a far-away look
in her bonnie blue eyes.

If Mary, her maid, had only held her silly tongue, Gerty might have been
almost happy now. But Mary hadn't held her tongue, but conjured up
Jack, and he was before her mental eyes at this very moment just as she
had seen him last, the young and handsome lieutenant, going away to
fight for king and country with a heart burning with courage and valour,
yet filled with love for her--and with hope. Ah yes! that was the worst
of it. They were not betrothed, and yet--and yet when he returned and
found her engaged to another, it would break his heart. Yes, that was
simply what it would do. What was Sir Digby saying? Oh, he had been
talking for ten minutes and more, yet not one word had she heard. Nor
had she even turned towards him. She did so at last, blushing and
embarrassed at what she deemed the rudeness of her inattention.

Digby misinterpreted her.

"Yes, yes," he cried rapturously; "I read my happy fate in those dear
downcast eyes and in that tell-tale blush. You love me, Gerty; you love
me, all unworthy as I am. Then behold I throw myself at your feet."

Sir Digby was preparing to suit the action to his words; but this was
not so easy to do as might be imagined, for this gay Lothario had
lately suffered from a slight rheumatic stiffness of the joints. He had
already bent one knee painfully, and it had emitted a disagreeable crack
which certainly tended to dispel a portion of the romance from the
situation, when sturdy footsteps were heard outside, and next moment the
round, rosy face of Richards, of the firm of Griffin, Keane, and Co.,
appeared smiling in the doorway.

Gerty sprang up, leaving her lover to recover the perpendicular as best
he might. She rushed towards the old man and fairly hugged him.

"Confound it all!" muttered Sir Digby.

"I'm afraid," said Richards, "I've interrupted--"

"Oh, don't mention it, dear, dear Mr. Richards. What Sir Digby was about
to tell me wasn't of the slightest consequence. That is, you know, I
mean--it will keep."

Sir Digby Auld bit his lip.

Richards nodded to him.

"I've such news for you, Gerty dear. A long, long letter from Bermuda.
Jack's ship--"

"Oh, do sit down and tell me all.--Sir Digby, you will forgive us, won't
you? You're so good! Sit near us and hear it all.--Yes, Mr. Richards;
I'm listening."

That she was. What a glad look in her face! what a happy smile! With
lips half parted and eyes which shone with an interest intense, she
never took her gaze from Mr. Richards' beaming countenance till he had
finished speaking.

The letter was from a friend of his, and told of the arrival at Bermuda
of Jack's ship, and all Jack's doings on shore; and how the _Ocean
Pride_ was ordered home; and how, if things turned out well, and she
wasn't captured by a Frenchman five times her size, she might be
expected back in a fortnight.

"O dear, dear Mr. Richards, I'm so happy; I mean, you know, that Flora
will--"

"Yes, yes; Flora, of course, you sly little puss. There! never blush; I
guess I know your secret--Jack, eh?--Ah, Sir Digby, you and I are too
old to understand the tender passion, aren't we?"

"Yes--that is, no. You better speak for yourself, sir. I--I--I believe I
have an appointment--I--Good evening, Miss Keane."

Sir Digby Auld's exit was not an impressive one.

With an amused look on his face, Richards watched him till the closed
door shut out the view; then he stretched out his sturdy legs, threw
himself back in his chair, and laughed until the rafters rang.



CHAPTER IV.

THE BATTLE AND THE BREEZE.

    "The deck it was their field of fame,
       And ocean was their grave."

    "Prayer is the soul's sincere desire,
       Uttered or unexpressed;
     The motion of a hidden fire
       That trembles in the breast."


The good ship _Ocean Pride_ was a twenty-gun frigate, with a crew of
nearly three hundred as brave fellows as ever waved cutlass or pulled
lanyard for the honour and defence of their native land. In January
1793, when the great war broke out between Britain and France, she was
homeward bound from the West Indies and South America, where she had
been cruising, and had hardly reached Portsmouth ere she received orders
to take in additional stores and proceed forthwith to sea again. No
leave was granted to men or officers. The sick were simply bundled on
shore, additional men shipped, and she was off again within
eight-and-forty hours of her arrival in port.

For the _Ocean Pride_ was a crack cruiser for those brave days, in which
seamen were sailors and seamanship a fine art.

Sir Sidney Salt was not only brave, but daring almost to a fault. He
believed most thoroughly and completely in the supremacy of British
seamen to French; but discipline and drill he looked upon as his
mainstays, fore and aft. His success had proved that he was correct in
system, not once but often during the past twelve months; for more than
one of the enemy's ships, larger even than his own, had been destroyed
or taken by the _Ocean Pride_ and her gallant crew. Boat actions had
been fought also: she had been engaged with batteries; her men had cut
out prizes from under the very guns of these; and they had fought on
shore too, side by side with marines and soldiers.

"It would be but the fortune of war," said Sir Sidney to his commander
as they stood together on the quarter-deck, "were this frigate, that is
now bearing down so boldly on us, to destroy us."

The commander grasped his sword with his left hand, and his features
were grimly set as he made reply,--

"True, sir, true. It would be but the fortune of war. Well, she may
destroy us; she shall never take us."

"Boldly spoken, Miller. It would indeed be a disgrace to lower our flag
to a ship of about our own size, and that ship a Frenchman. But see how
boldly she carries herself. Top-gallant sails down; all trim fore and
aft; guns run out; and hark! was that a cheer?"

"Yes, sir; a French one."

"Ha, ha, ha! Well, they shall hear a British one anon. Depend upon it,
Miller, that frigate has a consort, and she is not far off at this
moment, and--"

A puff of white smoke, with a point of fire in its centre, was now seen
curling round the enemy's bows, and the roar of the cannon interrupted
the captain's speech, and next moment a shot came ricochetting across
from wave-top to wave-top, and passed harmlessly by on the starboard
side.

"The fellow is beginning to be afraid already," said Miller, laughing.

"Yes; and depend upon it that shot was meant to keep his courage up.
But if he thinks we are to have a long-range duel he is miserably
mistaken. Set the fore-soldier, Miller. We'll walk to windward of him if
we can."

The _Ocean Pride_ was now more closely hauled, and seemed for a time to
bear away from the foe. The movement evidently puzzled the Frenchman.
Was John Bull sheering off? Would he presently put round on the other
tack and show them a clean pair of heels?

Shot after shot came tearing over the water, and when one went clean
through the _Pride's_ rigging and was not even responded to, the
excitement on board the Frenchman grew frantic.

The two vessels were now barely a quarter of a mile from each other,
when suddenly round came the _Pride_ till she was almost dead before the
wind, and began bearing down upon the _Désespéré_--for that proved to be
her name--like a whirlwind, and almost right before the wind. The battle
was about to begin in deadly earnest.

And none too soon; for at that moment a cry of sail in sight was heard
from the maintop-mast cross-trees.

"That's her consort," cried Sidney Salt. "Now, men," he shouted, "be
steady and cool; I need not say be brave. We may soon be engaged against
two, unless we gain the day before that frigate's consort puts in an
appearance."

A brave British cheer was the only reply to the captain's short but
pithy speech. The cheer was feebly answered by the enemy, who from her
uncertain movements was evidently puzzled at the apparent change in Sir
Sidney Salt's tactics. It seemed to those on board the _Pride_ that
contrary orders had been issued; for she first luffed, as if to beat to
windward and fight the British frigate beam to beam. Perhaps the courage
of her commander suddenly failed him, and he came to the conclusion that
he ought to ward off the real tug of war till his consort came up.
Anyhow, just as a shot carried away a piece of her jib-boom she
attempted to wear and fill, and in doing so missed stays.

Now came Sir Sidney's chance, and quick as arrow from bow he took
advantage of it. In less time almost than it takes me to describe it, he
had cut across the enemy's stern, and the well-aimed broadside that
raked the _Désespéré_ from aft to fore, almost completely placed her at
the mercy of the British frigate. The wheel was shot away, the rudder a
wreck, the mainmast went by the board, and both dead and wounded lay
upon the decks.

There were still men on board her, however, and brave ones too, to man
and fight her guns; and as the _Désespéré_ paid off, seemingly of her
own accord, the _Pride_ received her starboard broadside just as she put
about to close with her assailant. This broadside was fairly effective:
it silenced a gun, killed three men, and wounded five.

The _Désespéré_ had got round far enough to save herself from being
raked a second time. Broadsides were given and received; but as soon as
the _Pride_ had tacked again, it was evident she meant forcing the
fighting in the good old English fashion first introduced by bold Hubert
de Burgh.

Down came the _Pride_. She would not be denied. One wild cheer, one more
terrible broadside as her guns almost touched those of the enemy, then
grappling irons were thrown, and the vessels literally lashed together.

"Away, boarders!"

"Hurrah, lads!"

The last shout came from bold young Grant Mackenzie, as sword in hand,
and followed by the men who had so bravely fought his guns, he sprang
nimbly across the bulwarks and leaped down amongst the foe. To describe
the _mêlée_ that followed would be impossible--the shouts of victory and
shrieks of pain, the cracking of pistols, the clashing of sword and
cutlass, the shivering of pikes, the rattle of musketry from the tops.
It was all like a terrible dream to every one concerned in it; for each
British sailor or marine seemed to fight but for himself. Then there
were the final stampede, the hauling down of the flag, and the surrender
of the wounded captain to Sir Sidney Salt. All must have passed in seven
minutes or less.

The loss on both sides was terrible to contemplate. Twenty of our brave
lads would never fight again, thirty more were wounded, while in killed
and wounded the enemy's loss was well-nigh one hundred.

There was no time to lose now, however. The enemy's consort was but five
or six miles off, and coming down hand over hand. So the Frenchmen were
speedily disarmed. The dead were left where they lay, the wounded and
prisoners hurried on board the _Pride_. Then a train was laid to the
_Désespéré's_ magazine, and just as all sail was hoisted on board the
British frigate, the time fuse was lighted. The _Pride_ must fly now; to
fight another ship, lumbered as she was with wounded and prisoners,
would have been insanity.

On comes the enemy's consort. Away flies the _Ocean Pride_. The men on
the British ship still stand to their guns; for if they are overhauled,
they mean to fight and fall.

But see, the two French frigates are now abreast, and the consort hauls
her main-yard aback, and an armed boat leaves her side.

Nearer and nearer she rows. Those that behold her on board the _Pride_
hold their breath. They know she is rowing to destruction.

It is awful, and even brave Sir Sidney turns a little as the boat
reaches the doomed ship, and the men are seen clambering up her sides.
At that dreadful moment a huge cloud of smoke, balloon shaped, rises
high above the _Désespéré_, a sheet of flame shoots into the air, and
yards, and masts, and spars, and men are seen high above all. A sound
far louder than thunder shakes the _Pride_ from stern to stern. Sir
Sidney presses his hand to his eyes and holds it there for a time. When
he takes it away at last the _Désespéré_ has gone. A few blackened spars
bob here and there on the waves, and the cloud rolls far to leeward, but
the silence of death is over all the scene.

       *       *       *       *       *

Tom Fairlie sat late that night beside poor Jack's couch. Jack's brow
was bound in blood-wet bandages, his eyes were closed.

"O doctor," said Tom anxiously, as his eyes sought those of Surgeon
M'Hearty, "is there _no_ hope? Surely Jack will live?"

"Jack's in God's good hands, lad," was the solemn reply, "and I am but
his servant."

The surgeon went slowly away, nor turned to look again.

"Poor Jack! poor Jack!" cried Tom; "and on his birthday too!"

He bent over the hardly breathing form, and tears welled through his
fingers. He had never known till now how much he loved his shipmate.

Would Jack die? His wounds were very grievous. "He is in God's good
hands," the doctor had said.

Tom Fairlie was a thorough English sailor--no better and no worse than
the average. He attended church on Sunday, and was always on the
quarter-deck when the bell rang for prayers; but the actual praying, I
fear, he usually left to the parson himself. If asked, Tom would have
told you that it was the parson's duty to make it all right with the
Great Commander above in behalf of himself and shipmates; but now it
occurred to Tom that he might himself personally address the Being in
whose hands poor Jack lay. God was good. Dr. M'Hearty had said so, and
the doctor knew almost everything. He hesitated for a few moments,
though. It seemed like taking the parson's duty out of his hands. Was it
impertinence? He looked at Jack's poor, white, still face--looked just
once, then knelt and prayed--prayed a simple sailor's prayer that isn't
to be found anywhere in a book, but may be none the less effectual on
that account.

When Tom rose from his knees Jack's eyes were open.

"I've been sort of praying for you, Jack. I feel relieved. Seems to me
the Great Commander is going to throw you a rope and pull you through
the surf."

Jack's lips were moving as if in feeble reply. But his mind was
wandering.

"The blue flower, Gerty--cull that. Oh, not the other! How dark it is!
Gerty, I cannot find you. Dark, dark, dark!"

And poor Jack relapsed once more into insensibility.

 [Illustration: "_I've been sort of praying for you, Jack._"
                Page 43.]



CHAPTER V.

"NOW THIS GOOD BLADE SHALL BE MY BRIDE."

    "The bosom in anguish will often be wrung
     That trusts to the words of a fair lady's tongue;
     But true are the tones of my own gallant steel--
     They never betray, and they never conceal.
     I'll trust thee, my loved sword, wherever we be,
     For the clang of my sabre is music to me."
                          QUARTER-MASTER ANDERSON.


It was not until Sir Digby Auld had quite gone that Gerty came to her
senses, and realized the position she had placed herself in. The comical
side of the situation struck her at the same time, and for a few moments
right merrily did she join the laugh with her old friend, Mr. Richards.
But she grew suddenly serious next minute.

"What have I done?" she cried; "and how _can_ I tell father?"

"You droll, provoking little puss!" said Richards. "Come and sit on my
knee here, as you always have done since you were a weary wee
hop-of-my-thumb."

"And will you tell me a story?" Gerty was smiling once more. "Then it
will just seem like old, old times, you know."

"Yes, of course. Once upon a time, then--oh, ever so long ago, because
no such things as I am going to tell you about could happen in our
day--once upon a time there lived, in a lonely house by the side of a
deep, dark forest, a lonely man, to whom the fairies had once given a
magic feather, plucked from the wing of a fairy goose; and whenever he
touched paper with this quill, lo, the paper was turned into gold! So he
amassed great wealth; but no one loved him when he went abroad, because,
though he had gold, he had no titles and he was sharp of speech. Only he
had one beautiful daughter, more fair than a houri of paradise; and she
loved her father very much--more even than she loved the roses in June,
or the wild birds that sang in the forest, or the stars that shone so
brightly on still, clear nights in winter.

"And this daughter was beloved by a youth who was surpassingly fair and
brave and comely; but, ah me! he was poor, and so the father despised
him.

"But one day there came from out of the dark depths of the forest a
prince in a splendid chariot, with six milk-white steeds, and the sound
of many trumpets blowing. This prince was stiff and somewhat old, yet he
said to the father: 'Give unto me your daughter, that I may wed her, and
she shall be my queen; then shall you be loved and honoured too, for you
shall have titles as well as wealth.'

"But the daughter loathed the elderly suitor. Nevertheless, that she
might see her father happy and titled, she gave the prince her hand, and
her father dowered her munificently, and--"

"Go on, Mr. Richards."

"Well, of course they lived happy ever afterwards."

"No, no, no, Mr. Richards; that isn't quite the end."

"Well, if I must tell you, I must. For a time, then, there was no one
more loved and honoured than Sylvina (for that was her pretty name), and
her father, too, was invited to the court of the prince. But the fame of
Sylvina's beauty and charms spread far and near, and hundreds visited
the prince who had never before been seen at his castle. Especially did
there come gay young sparks, with downy moustachelets to twirl, and
swords that tinkled at their heels; and so attentive were these crowds
of gallants that Sylvina never had time even to think, else her
thoughts might have gone back to her true lover, whom she had forsaken
in his poverty and sorrow, and whose white, distracted face often even
yet haunted her dreams at night, just as she had seen it for a moment
that day as she walked to the altar with the prince.

"But to the prince the young sparks were beyond measure attentive. They
seemed delighted of an evening to see him snug in his high-backed chair
by the fire; and one would run and bring his slippers and warm them,
another pulled off his shoes, while a third brought his wine, and a
fourth his hubble-bubble. Then they sang lullabies to him and patted his
shoulder till he fell asleep; then--

"But the prince awoke at last in every sense of the word. 'No longer,'
he cried, 'will I keep an open house that young sparks may pay
attentions to my wife. I will issue no more invitations, give no more
parties; Sylvina's father must return to his lonely house by the forest.
I and my bride will live but for each other.'

"He spoke thus because the green demon Jealousy had aroused him.

"So the prince dismissed nearly all his servants; and in his house by
the forest Sylvina's father was more lonesome now than ever. Sylvina
had been a dutiful daughter, and she tried hard to be a dutiful wife;
but nothing that she did was properly construed by her old husband. If
she laughed and was gay, he called her giddy; if she seemed sad, he told
her she was pining for her 'pauper lover;' if she showed him marked
affection, he thought she was but cajoling to deceive him. Ah dear, ah
dear, how miserable she was! for her ways were not his ways, because his
age was not hers."

Richards paused again.

"And the poor lover whom Sylvina deserted?" said Gerty. "Tell me about
him. Did he pine and die?"

"Oh no. But here comes Flora. I'll finish the story another day, Gerty."

"Why, this _is_ a pleasure!" cried Flora. "Who could have thought of
finding you here? I say, Gerty, let us keep Mr. Richards to ourselves
alone for the rest of the evening. My work is all complete, and father
is busy in his room. Supper in the boudoir here!--Not a word, Mr.
Richards; you have no say in the matter at all." Then Flora rang the
bell.

And a long delightful three hours the girls and their friend spent too.
It is almost needless to say that the chief subject of conversation was
Jack, or that Sir Digby Auld was not spoken of or thought of even once.

"Heigh-ho!" said Richards, as he stood in his room that night,
"heigh-ho! and I have come down to break bad tidings to Flora and her
father. How ever can I do it! A lawyer ought to have no heart, but I
have one. Worse luck! worse luck!"

The party next day at the Hall was a very gay affair, and never did
General Grant Mackenzie seem in better spirits, nor Gerty and Flora look
more bewitching or feel more happy. Mr. Keane, too, unbent himself, and
was far less crisp and frigid than any one had ever seen him. Keane did
not perhaps look a bit more happy than he felt, though he would not have
told his thoughts to any one, as he wandered to and fro in the grand old
beautifully-lighted rooms or out into the spacious gardens and
flower-laden conservatories. Everything had of late years conspired to
play into his hands. He had amassed money; he had spent but little.
Gerty was good, _so_ good, for she had promised to marry Sir
Digby--promised her father, that is; the other promise would come. Then
this splendid hall was _his_--Keane's--unless in a short time the
easy-minded, happy-go-lucky general managed to clear his feet. "Clear
his feet, indeed!" thought Keane; "how could he? No; the place would be
his. Then he could hold up his head in the county. And as for Sir Digby,
why, he could be easily managed after marriage. He was a trifle wild, he
had been told, but he believed he was wealthy, and he would--some
day--be a lord."

Every one loved the general and his beautiful but unassuming daughter.
There was no word of her being engaged to any one as yet, though such an
engagement might take place at any time. She was indeed a queenly girl.
Now suitors are usually a little afraid of queenly girls--not that there
are very many about, but though they may dispense their favours in kind
words and smiles, they do not flirt, and though warm-hearted deep down
in their soul-depths, there is no surface love to squander or to be
ruffled with every breath that blows. Such girls as Flora Grant
Mackenzie love but once, and that love is real and true. Flora's prince
would doubtless come. _She_ was in no hurry.

But the girl was very happy on this her brother's birthday, and after
all the guests had gone she spent the usual quiet half-hour with her
father in his room in loving chat and converse, just as she had done
every night since, long, long ago, her mother had died.

"Good-night, dear," he said as he kissed her. "Affairs are not quite so
flourishing with me as I would like; but we'll trust in Providence,
won't we? Things are sure to take a turn."

"Yes, dear father. Good-night: God bless you!"

       *       *       *       *       *

Many of the wounded, both among our own people and the French prisoners
on board the _Ocean Pride_, died and were buried as the ship sailed on;
but the strength of Jack's Highland constitution asserted itself, and he
was at last pronounced by M'Hearty to be out of danger, very much to Tom
Fairlie's delight.

His wounds had been very grievous--a sabre-cut on the skull and a spent
bullet that had injured his left arm.

When the ship reached Portsmouth and the country rang with the news of
Sir Sidney's bright little action, when the papers gave a list of the
dead and wounded and extolled Jack's bravery, and when private
information from headquarters informed the general that his son would be
gazetted post-captain, then the old Highlander's cup of bliss seemed
full.

"Look at that," he cried, with the joy-tears in his eyes; "read that
letter, Flora dear. My boy, my brave boy! I shall go right away to
Portsmouth and meet him, and you shall come and nurse him. My brave,
good lad! What care we for money, Flo? The Mackenzies have their
swords!"

On the arrival of the _Ocean Pride_ in port, Jack had been sent to shore
quarters for a time, and Tom determined to share his rooms.

Jack was very cheerful, for he had almost forgotten his dream.

Now Mr. Keane had determined to play his cards as well as he knew how
to. The baronet had become indisposed, but the astute lawyer had invited
him down to his little place in the country, and he had taken Gerty home
too.

At the time of the _Pride's_ arrival in Portsmouth there was no
engagement between Gerty and Sir Digby. All that she had really promised
her father since Richards had told her that fairy story was that she
would try to learn to love Sir Digby all she could, and when a little
older would marry him; so Keane was content.

This, however, did not prevent him sending a confidential clerk down to
interview Jack. And the following is the bomb-shell Saunders the clerk,
obeying orders, fired:--

"Mr. Keane just sent me down to ask about you and convey all sorts of
kind messages. Especially did he bid me assure you that he had not
spoken to your father about the little account, and that he is in no
hurry for the money. Indeed, the approaching marriage of his daughter is
at present absorbing all his attention.

"Why, what is the matter, Captain Mackenzie?" continued the clerk,
noticing the staggering effect his words had on poor Jack.

"Nothing, nothing much. A little faint, that is all. Leave me now, Mr.
Saunders. Tell Mr. Fairlie I would speak with him."

Tom ran in. He found Jack lying helpless on the sofa, white and
trembling. But he soon recovered sufficiently to speak.

"My dream, my dream, Tom; it has all come true."

Tom Fairlie sat long beside his friend, giving him all the comfort he
could think of, and that really was not a great deal. Things might not
be quite as the clerk had represented them. Gerty _could_ not be so
cruel. From all he--Jack--had told him, he seemed to know her
thoroughly. Jack must see her and learn his fate from her own lips.
This and much more said Tom Fairlie.

 [Illustration: "_This good blade shall be my bride._"
                Page 58.]

But for a time never a word said Jack.

He rose from the couch at last, and going quietly to the corner, took up
his sword and drew it.

"Tom," he said boldly, "pardon me if I seem to act stagy, I am _not_
acting. We Mackenzies are a wild and headstrong lot, and too proud, I
own, by far. We cannot help our nature. But here in your presence I vow
that now this good blade shall be my bride; that I'll be true to her,
and she as true as steel to me."

"Bravo, Jack!" cried M'Hearty, bursting into the room; "I've heard it
all. And now, my lad, I bring you good tidings. I've run all the way
from the port-admiral's office to be the very first to shake hands with
Post-Captain Jack Mackenzie."



CHAPTER VI.

A BOLT FROM THE BLUE.

    "O Life! how pleasant in thy morning,
     Young Fancy's rays the hills adorning."
                                     BURNS.


General Grant Mackenzie was a somewhat impulsive man. It is the nature
of the Celt to be impulsive. His nervous system is far more finely
strung than that of the plethoric or adipose Saxon, and it vibrates to
the slightest breath of emotion. Mind, I talk of the ideal Celt--be he
Irish or Scotch--and General Grant Mackenzie was an ideal Celt. And
sitting here with my good guitar on my knee, I cannot help comparing a
nature like his to just such a beautiful stringed instrument as this.
What a world of fine feeling lies herein; what a wealth of poetry, what
sadness, what tenderness--ay, and what passion as well! Behold, on this
music-stand lies a big old book--a book with a story to it, for it
belonged to my unfortunate ancestor Symon Fraser of Lovat, who was
beheaded on Tower Hill. It is Highland music all, and sweet to me are
its mournful laments as breathed by my sad guitar; but--I turn a
leaf--and here is a battle-piece. Ha! the instrument hath lost its
sadness, or only here and there come wailing notes like moans of the
wounded amidst the hurry, the scurry, the dashing, and the clashing of
this terrible tulzie. Can't you see the claymores glitter? Can't you see
the tartans wave, and nodding plumes among the rolling smoke? Oh, I can.
Seems as if the guitar would burst its very strings; but, the battle is
over--cry of vanquished, shout of victor, all are hushed. And now comes
the ghostly music of the coronach: they are burying the dead. And the
instrument appears to sob, to weep, till the sweet low song of grief in
cadence dies.

A nature like that of Grant Mackenzie, then, or of his son--for both
seemed cast in the same mould--needs a well-trained, well-balanced mind
to guide and restrain it; for there are few occasions indeed in this
world when one dares lay bare his soul and feelings even to his best
friends.

The day after M'Hearty's visit to Jack, the young post-captain, with his
friend Tom Fairlie, was just finishing breakfast, when in dashed the
general. Next minute his son was pressed against his breast just as if
he had been a child.

Jack had spilt his tea and knocked over a chair in his hurry to get to
his father; but what did that matter? So there they stood looking at
each other for a moment, the tears in both their eyes.

Maybe the old general was a trifle ashamed of such weakness, for next
moment he burst into a merry laugh.

"Why, Jack, my brave boy," he cried, "there are only two arms between
the pair of us. But yours will get well; mine, alas, is in the grave!"

Flora came up now, and Jack seemed delighted to see her.

"And here," he said, "here, Flora, is the best friend I have in the
world--Tom Fairlie.--Nay, never blush, Tom, my brother.--He it was,
Flora, who helped to take me below after I got hit; and when even the
surgeon--grand old fellow M'Hearty! father, you shall know him--gave me
up, Tom stuck to me, and he has been nursing me ever since as if I were
a child. Ah, Flora, there is no friendship on earth so true, and no
love either, as that man bears for man."

Jack looked at his sister as he spoke, and that glance told her he knew
all.

"Father, I had almost forgotten to tell you of my espousal."

"Espousal, Jack! You astonish me; it can't be true!"

"Oh, but it is."

He picked his sword off the couch as he spoke and held it out to his
father.

"Let me present my bride," he said, laughing.

The general himself could laugh now.

"So pleased, so pleased! But, 'pon honour, you young rascal, you pretty
nearly took your old father's breath away. Married! bless my soul, talk
about that thirty years hence; and blame me, Jack, but that itself might
be too soon.

"So you knocked the French about a bit? Well done, Jack; and well done,
Lieutenant Fairlie."

"Oh," said the young sailor, laughing, "they always call me Tom."

"Well, Tom," said the general, holding out his hand, "you and my brave
lad fought nobly; but bless my heart, he wouldn't be a true Mackenzie if
he couldn't fight. So you gave it to the Froggies hot, eh? I knew you
would. Second only to the British army is the British navy, lads."

"And second only to the British navy, father, is the British army."

"Bravo! _esprit de corps_. Well, I like it. But I've news for you, Jack.
Why, your old father, you young dog you, is going to take command again.
Ha, ha! sword arm all right, and head-piece in glorious form."

"O father, I'm so delighted!"

"Yes, boy, and there is one thing I look forward to--ay, and pray
for--and that is for you and me, Jack, to be in the same field of
battle, and drubbing the French as only British sailors and soldiers
can."

"Father, you've made me happy.--Why, Tom, this all but reconciles me to
the loss of the love--"

Jack stopped, looking a little confused.

"Love--love? Why, Jack, my lad, what is this? Love of whom, boy?"

"Oh, only a pet spaniel, father. No, not dead. Lost though; enticed
away--with a bone, I suppose."

"Just the way with spaniels, Jack. Glad it's no worse. But 'pon honour,
Jack, though you're not old enough to know it, womankind are precious
little better. I _know_ 'em well, Jack; I know 'em. A bone will entice
them too, particularly a bone with a bit of meat on it."

       *       *       *       *       *

Jack Mackenzie was not a young man who cared for much nursing. Had Gerty
been his nurse it would doubtless have been all so different. However,
it was very pleasant for Jack to while away the next month or two down
at Grantley Hall, and to be treated like an interesting invalid and made
a hero of by old maids and young ones too. The curate of the parish had
not a chance now.

Then the country was so lovely all around the Hall. Though lacking the
grandeur and romance of our Scottish Highlands, the land of the broads,
with its wealth of wild flowers, its dreamy, quiet lakes, its waving
reeds, its moors, and its birds, throws a glamour over one in
spring-time that no true lover of nature can resist.

Jack's arm was well in a month, and he was waiting for service. He did
not mind waiting even a little longer, and most assuredly Tom Fairlie
did not, nor M'Hearty either, who was also a guest at the Hall. Richards
also had come down to spend a week or two. He and M'Hearty became
inseparables.

A great old tub of a boat belonged to Mackenzie, and this lay on an
adjoining broad or lake. Tom and Jack fitted it out as a kind of
gondola, and many a pleasant hour did the young folks spend together on
the water, sometimes not returning till stars were reflected from the
dark bosom of the lake or the moonbeams seemed to change it into molten
gold.

A pleasant time indeed--a time that flew all too quickly for poor Tom
Fairlie.

One evening, when hanging up his hat in the hall, Jack's father took him
by the hand and led him silently into the library.

"Father, father," cried Jack, "what has happened?"

"A bolt from the blue, my boy; a bolt from the blue."



CHAPTER VII.

"WENT GLIDING AWAY LIKE A BEAUTIFUL GHOST."

    "They bid me forget her--oh, how can it be?
     In kindness or scorn she's ever wi' me;
     I feel her fell frown in the lift's frosty blue,
     An' I weel ken her smile in the lily's saft hue.
     I try to forget her, but canna forget,
     I've liket her lang, an' I aye like her yet."
                                       THOM, _the Inverury Poet_.


Richards, the kindly old solicitor, with Jack and his sister Flora and
the general--these formed the group in the solemn, dark-panelled library
of Grantley Hall on that beautiful summer's evening. The light of the
westering sun stole in through the high stained windows, and cast
patches of light and colour on the furniture and on the floor. Mackenzie
had already told his son all the story of his troubles, and while he had
yet been talking, the curtains in the doorway were drawn back, and
Flora appeared, leaning on the arm of her good friend Richards.

The general had lifted up a deprecating hand.

"No need, no need." This from the family lawyer. "Flora already knows
all. And bravely has she borne the tidings. Ah, my good sir, Flora is a
true Mackenzie."

"But you might have told me long ago," was all she had said as she
seated herself on a low stool by her father's knee. "O father, I could
have borne it, and could have comforted you, now that poor mother has
gone!"

There was silence for a time, broken by Flora's low sobbing; broken,
too, by the sweet, mellow fluting of a blackbird in the garden
shrubbery.

General Mackenzie was the first to speak.

"Children," he said, "I have been for many a day like one living in a
dream, call it if you will a fool's paradise. But I have awakened at
last to the stern realities of life. It is better, perhaps, as it is,
for we now know the very worst. You will believe me when I say that if I
have hidden the truth from you, it was because I feared to vex you, or
render you unhappy, while yet there was hope. But now," he added, "all
is over, all is lost, or seems to be."

"Nay, nay, my good old friend," cried Richards; "you must not really
take so gloomy a view as that of the matter."

"This grand old house," continued the general as if he had heard him
not, "this estate, with all its beauty of domains, that was presented to
my ancestors by Charles the First himself, with its lands and its lakes,
its gardens and its trees, and which was prized by my father almost as
much as our ancient home in the Highlands of Scotland, has been wasted,
has been frittered away, through my intrinsic folly."

"Sir, sir," said Richards, "you are too hard on yourself now."

"Nay, my good friend, nay; that I cannot be. You have ever been faithful
to our family; but I repeat it before you, and before my only son and
daughter here: the estates are lost through my own folly, and through
the imbecility, the madness, Richards, of my pride. Now in a month's
time, if I do not pay off the mortgage, Keane, your partner, will
foreclose."

It was at this moment that Jack sprang up from his seat as though a
serpent had stung him. He took a few rapid strides up and down the
floor, then, his calmness in some degree restored, he confronted the
general.

"Did you say Keane would foreclose, father--Keane?"

"I said Keane, boy--Griffin, Keane, and Co. The old man Keane is my only
creditor. But why should the knowledge of this affect you so?"

"Because, father--and oh, forgive me, for I ought to have told you
before--because the heartless old man has been playing for your estates;
he has won, and he has in a manner ruined you. But his daughter Gerty
has been playing a crueller game than even his: she has won my heart,
and having won it, having torn it from me, she has trampled it bleeding
under foot. I can never love again."

"My boy, my poor boy, is this indeed so? How great is your sorrow and
suffering compared with mine! Bah! let the estate go. I could feel happy
now without it could I but believe that you would forget the heartless
minx who has dared to gain your love then spurn it. You _will_ forget
her?"

"Never, father, never; that is impossible. Sword in hand on the
battle-deck I shall seek surcease of sorrow, but forget little Gerty
Keane, never, never, never!"

The young man covered his face with his hands, and his form heaved with
suppressed emotion, and even the kindly-hearted Richards could but look
on in silence. Not a word of consolation could he adduce that had the
power to assuage grief so deep as this.

No one spoke for many minutes--sorrow is oftentimes too deep for
words--but higher and higher in the calm, still gloaming rose the
blackbird's notes of love, sounding half hysterical in the very fulness
of their happiness and joy.

General Mackenzie rose slowly from his chair, and approaching his son
placed a kindly hand on his shoulder.

"Dear Jack," he said slowly, "we each have something left us, a name
that has never yet been tarnished; our clansmen have ever been found in
the battle's van, or

                             'In death laid low,
    Their backs to the field, their feet to the foe.'

We have that name, Jack boy; we have that fame. We have our unsullied
swords. Jack lad, we _shall_ forget."

"Father, we shall try."

And hand met hand as eye met eye. The two had signed a compact, and
well they knew what that compact was.

       *       *       *       *       *

Jack Mackenzie sat alone in his bedroom that night long after his father
and every guest had retired. The casement window was wide open, so that
the sweet breath of the June roses could steal in, and with it the weird
tremolo of a nightingale singing its love-lay in an adjoining copse. The
moonlight was everywhere, bathing the flower-beds, spiritualizing the
trees, lying on the grass like snow, and casting deep shadows from the
quaint figures of many a statue, and a deeper shadow still from the
mossy dial-stone.

So intent was Jack in his admiration of the solemn beauty of the scene,
that he saw not his chamber door slowly opening, nor noted the figure
robed from head to feet in white that entered and glided towards him.

Was it a spirit?

If so, it was a very beautiful one. The face was very white in the
moonbeams, the eyes very sad and dark, and darker still the wealth of
waving hair that floated over the shoulders.

"Jack!"

Jack started now, and looked quickly round. Then a happy smile spread
over his face as he arose and led his sister to a seat by his side.

"So like old, old times, Flora," he said.

"So like old, old times, Jack," said she.

He wrapped her knees in a great old Grant-tartan plaid.

"I knew you were still up, and that you were not happy, so I came to
you. But, Jack--"

"Yes, dear."

"Smoke."

"May I?"

"You must."

"Still more like olden times, Flora."

Jack lit up his pipe, and then he took his sister's hand.

"I'm glad," he said, "that I never had a brother."

"And I," she said, "am happy I never had a sister."

"We are all in all to each other, are we not, Flo?"

"All in all, Jack; especially _now_."

"Ah yes; now that I have lost Gerty. Ah, siss! you nor any one else in
the wide world can ever tell how dearly I loved, and still love, that
faithless girl."

"And she, Jack, will break her heart that she cannot marry you. That is
what I came to tell you, Hush, Jack, hush! I know all you would say;
but you do not understand women, and least of all do you understand
Gerty. _I_ do, Jack; yes, I do."

"Sissy," said the young man earnestly, "the cruellest thing mortals can
be guilty of is to arouse the dying to feeling again, when the
bitterness of death is almost past. _You_ would not be so unkind. You
did not come here to raise hopes in my heart that would be as certainly
doomed to disappointment as that blooming flowers shall fade."

"No, Jack, no. I only came because I wanted to pour balm, not hope, into
your bleeding heart. I came to tell you all Gerty Keane's story, that
you may not think the very, very worst of her. Listen, Jack."

The young man sat in silence for quite a long time after his sister had
finished the story of Gerty Keane, and of her fondness for her lonesome,
friendless, and unlovable father; sat gazing out upon the moonlit
landscape, but seeing nothing; sat while the nightingale's lilt,
plaintive and low or mournfully sweet, bubbled tremulously from the
grove, but hearing nothing. And in the shadow of the old-fashioned
arm-chair snuggled Flora, her eyes resting lovingly, wistfully on her
brother's sad but handsome face.

At last he sighed and turned towards her. "Flora," he said, "I'm going
to try to forgive Gerty. I'm going to live in hope I one day may be able
to forgive. Just tell her from me I wish her that happiness with another
which fate has decreed it shall never be my joy to impart. Tell her--but
there! no more, Flora, no more."

"Spoken like my own brother; spoken like a true and brave Mackenzie.
Kiss me, Jack. I'm glad I came."

He held her hand a moment there, the moonbeams shining on both. "But,
Flora," he said, "you too have a little story."

"Ye--es, Jack."

Her head drooped like a lily.

"And, siss, it--is connected with--don't tremble so, Flora--with Tom?"

The moonbeams shone on Jack alone now; his sister had stolen into the
shadow to hide her blushes.

"Good-night again," she whispered, and so went gliding away like a
beautiful ghost.



CHAPTER VIII.

ON BOARD THE SAUCY "TONNERAIRE."

    "O'er the wide wave-swelling ocean,
       Tossed aloft or humbled low--
     As to fear 'tis all a notion--
       When duty calls we're bound to go."--DIBDIN.


The _Tonneraire_ lay at anchor just off the Hoe in Plymouth Sound, as
pretty a craft as any sailor need care to look at. Plymouth was an
amphibious sort of a place even in those days; and there was not a
landsman who had ever been in blue water that, having once caught sight
of the saucy _Tonneraire_, did not stop to stare at and admire her as he
crossed the Hoe. Some, indeed, even sat quietly down and lighted up
their pipes, the better to consider the bonnie ship. Long and low and
dark was she, and though a frigate, the poop was not high enough to
interfere with her taking lines of beauty. She carried splendid spars,
and from their tapering height it was evident she was built either to
fight or to chase a flying Frenchman. But her maintop-gallant masts were
at present below, for the ship was not quite ready for sea. She seemed
impatient enough, however, to get away. The wind blew pretty high, right
in off the Channel, and the frigate jerked and tugged at her anchors
like a hound on leash that longs to be loose and away scouring the
plains in search of game. Everything on board was taut and trim and
neat: not a yard out of the square, not a rope out of place, the decks
as white as old ivory, the polished woodwork glittering like glass, the
brass all gold apparently, the guns like ebony, and the very lanyards
pipeclayed till they looked like coils of driven snow.

Post-Captain Mackenzie was walking to and fro on the poop-deck all
alone, but casting many an anxious glance shorewards, or upwards at the
evening sun that soon would sink over the beautiful wooded Cornish
hills.

"There's a boat coming out yonder now, sir," said the signalman.

"Ah! is there, Wilson? Well, pray Heaven it may be the first lieutenant,
and that he may have had luck."

Twenty minutes afterwards, Tom Fairlie, lieutenant in his Majesty's
navy, but acting-commander under Captain Mackenzie, was alongside in the
first cutter. He was not alone, for several other officers were with
him, and among them our old friend M'Hearty. Jack welcomed the latter,
figuratively speaking, with open arms, then went to his private cabin,
accompanied by Tom, who had been on shore on duty since early morning.

"Sit down, Tom. Now we're off the quarter-deck there is no need for
ceremony. You look tired and starved. Help yourself to wine and biscuits
there before you say a single word."

Tom poured out a glass, smiling as he did so.

"Ah!" cried Jack, "I know you have good news."

"Ay, Jack, lots of it. I've been everywhere and I've done everything,
and I've had good luck in the whole."

"Wait a moment, Tom.--Steward!"

"Ay, ay, sir."

"I'm engaged for the next half-hour unless any one desires to see me on
duty.--Now, Tom, I shall light my pipe. Follow my example. It wants an
hour to dinner, and you are my guest to-night. No one else save our two
selves and M'Hearty, I believe."

"Well, Jack," said Tom Fairlie, after he had smoked in silence for a few
moments, "first I went to the port-admiral's office and saw Secretary
Byng. He knows everything. Told me your father was gazetted, and would
sail with his command in a few months' time."

"Glorious news, Tom. How pleased father will be!"

"Byng told me further that we must get men to fill up our complement,
and fifty over, by hook or by crook."

"Fifty over! that means fighting, Tom. Go on."

"The hook and crook means pressment, Jack."

"Well, well, I don't like it; but it is all for the good of the service.
Heave round, Tom."

"Then I went to the post-office. Sly dog, am I? Well, perhaps. A letter
from Flora, and one for you."

Jack tore his open.

"Why, she has gone to live with dear old Father Spence at Torquay, Tom."

"Yes, Jack, till the war is over. Then, if God but spares us all, I
shall be your brother."

"Dear girl," said Jack. "Ah, Tom, what a noble courage she possesses!
You and I can meet the foe face to face and fight well; but that is
under excitement. But dear Flora needed more courage than ours to leave
Grantley Hall so bravely as she did. Never a tear, Tom, never a tear;
and I even saw my father's eyes wet. Ah well. It is the fortune of war.
Heigh-ho!"

"Cheer up, Jack. Somehow, my friend, I think that Grantley Hall will
come back to the Mackenzies yet."

"Ah, never, Tom, never! The dear old place where Flora and I spent our
childhood, only to think it should come at last into the clutches of the
plausible skinflint Keane; the father, though, of--but go on, Tom, go
on."

"I next saw two gentlemen of the 'sailors' friend' persuasion."

"Crimps? Scoundrels!"

"Well, anyhow, they are good for forty between them."

"Bravo! Things are looking up. What a capital fellow you are, Tom! But,
stay; let me reckon. We still want twenty more."

"And these, Jack, shall be no mere top hampers, I can assure you.
I have arranged to lay hands on fifteen at least of thorough
dare-any-things--fellows who look upon fighting as mere fun, and can
face the billows as well as tackle a foe."

"You interest me. Proceed."

"What say you to pirates, then?"

"Come, come, Tom."

"Well, they are the next thing to it. They are sea-smugglers. I met
One-legged Butler to-day, the king of coastguardsmen; and if we lend him
nets, he will land the fish."

"You mean seamen and cutlasses. Well, he'll have them; and I'll trust
the matter all to you."

"Nay, Jack, nay; the second lieutenant must be left in charge, and _you_
must come. Flora must see you."

"Flora?" cried Jack.

"Yes; we are to cut out the smuggler in Tor Bay."

"I'm with you, Tom. Well, we shall meet at dinner. _Au revoir._"

       *       *       *       *       *

One-legged Butler was quite a character in his way. He had been in the
service in his very young days, and had lost a limb while fighting
bravely for king and country. But for this stroke of bad luck he might
have been an admiral, and there is little doubt he would have been a
brave one too. Appointed to the revenue service, he soon proved that,
in addition to cunning, tact, and bravery, he possessed detective
qualities of no mean order. His timber toe, as the sailors called his
wooden leg, was no drawback to him. Timber toes in those stirring times
were as common as sea-gulls in every British sea-port; and Butler's
powers of disguising himself, or making up to act a part in order to
gain information, were simply marvellous.

On the day Tom Fairlie made his acquaintance, he had been singing "Tom
Bowling" on the street in front of a public-house, and our Tom had gone
up to give him a penny. Like the Ancient Mariner, he had held Tom with
his glittering eye; and a very few moments' conversation was sufficient
to arrange for one of the cleverest and most daring little adventures
that ever supplied a man-o'-war with gallant "volunteers," as pressed
men were often ironically termed in those days.

They were a very merry party at dinner that day around the captain's
table. Not a large one, however; only Jack Mackenzie himself, his friend
Tom Fairlie, M'Hearty, one "middie," and bold Captain Butler, all good
men and true; and the servant who waited at table was one to be trusted.
Despite the fact that he was a Spaniard, he was most faithful, so that
the conversation could take any turn without danger of a word being
repeated either forward or to the servants below in the ward-room.

In talking and yarning right quickly passed the evening in the captain's
cabin; but everywhere fore and aft to-night both officers and crew were
hearty. They had already bidden farewell to friends and home, soon their
country too would fade far away from sight, and then--the glories of
war. Ah! never mind about its horrors; what brave young British sailor
ever thought of these?



CHAPTER IX.

"A SPLENDID NIGHT'S WORK, TOM!"

    "Ah! cruel, hard-hearted, to press him,
       And force the dear youth from my arms;
     Restore him, that I may caress him,
       And shield him from future alarms."
                           DIBDIN'S _Pressgang_.


It was near to the hour of sunset, on an autumn evening about a week
after the cozy dinner-party in the cabin of Captain Jack Mackenzie of
the _Tonneraire_. The tree-clad hills and terra-cotta cliffs around Tor
Bay were all ablur with driving mist and rain, borne viciously along on
the wings of a north-east gale. Far out beyond the harbour mouth,
betwixt Berry Head and Hope's Nose, the steel-blue waters were flecked
and streaked with foam; while high against the rocks of Corbyn's Head
the waves broke in clouds of spray.

As night fell, the wind seemed to increase; the sky was filled with
storm-riven clouds; and the "white horses" that rode on the bay grew
taller and taller.

Surely on such a night as this every fishing-boat would seek shelter,
and vessels near to the land would make good their offing for safety's
sake.

There were those who, gazing out upon the storm from the green plateau
above Daddy's Hole, where the coastguard station now is, thought
otherwise.

Daddy's Hole is a sort of inlet or indentation in the rock-wall, which
rises so steeply up to the plain above that, though covered with grass,
it seems hardly to afford foothold for goats. No man in his senses would
venture to descend from above in a straight line, nor even by zigzag,
were it not for the fact that here and there through the smooth green
surface rocks protrude which would break his fall.

Shading their eyes with their hands in the gathering gloom, with faces
seaward, stood two rough-looking men, of the class we might call
amphibious--men at home either on the water or on shore.

"It can't be done," said one. "No, capting, it can't."

"Can't?" thundered the other; "and I tells yew, Dan, the skipper o' the
_Brixham_ knows no such a word as 'can't.' He's comin'. Yew'll see.
Hawkins never hauled 'is wind yet where a bit o' the yellow was tow be
made. Us'll drink wine in France to-morrow, sure's my name is
Scrivings."

Dan shook his head.

"W'y, yew soft-hearted chap, for tew pins I'd pitch yew ower the cliff."

But as "Capting" Scrivings laughed while he spoke, and shook his friend
roughly by the shoulder, there was little chance of the terrible threat
being fulfilled.

"And min' yew, Dan," he added, "if us lands this un all right, us'll be
rich, lad--ha! ha! Besides, wot's Hawkins got tow be afear'd of? The
_Brixham_ can cut the winkers from the wind's eye, that she can. Tack
and 'alf tack though buried in green seas, Dan. Never saw a craft tow
sail closer tow a wind. Here's tow bold Hawkins and the brave
_Brixham_!"

The toast was drunk from a black bottle which the "capting" handed to
Dan.

"'Ave a pull, chap; yew needs it to brace yewr courage tow the
sticking-point."

       *       *       *       *       *

Captain Butler prided himself on the seaworthiness and fleetness of his
cutter, the saucy little _Moonbeam_. Not that she had been much to look
at, or much to sail either, when he took her over; for in those good old
times the Admiralty was not a whit more generous with paint and copper
nails than it is now. But One-legged Butler was a man of some means, who
might have driven his coach on shore had he not been so fond of the
brine and the breeze. So he had the _Moonbeam_ seen to at his own
expense--not without asking and receiving permission, of course, for he
was a strict-service man. Her bows were lengthened and her rig altered
and improved; she was made, in fact, quite a model of.

And Captain Butler was justly proud of the _Moonbeam_. So highly did he
regard her that he would not have marked her smooth and spotless deck
with his timber toe to obtain his promotion, and therefore his servant
had orders to always keep the end of that useful limb shod with softest
leather.

Nothing that ever sailed got the weather-gauge on the _Moonbeam_.

Except the _Brixham_.

That smuggling sloop landed many a fine bale of silk, hogshead of wine,
and tobacco galore, all along the south coast; but never had been
caught. She was a fly-by-night and a veritable phantom. Thrice Butler
had chased her. He might as well have attempted to overhaul a gull on
the wing.

But to-night One-legged Butler meant to do or die. He knew she was going
to venture into Tor Bay, and lie off at anchor under the lee of the
cliffs. He could have boarded her in boats perhaps; but that would not
have suited Butler's idea of seamanship. It must be neck or nothing--a
fair race and a fair fight.

The _Brixham_ carried a dare-devil crew, however, and Hawkins feared
nothing. The _Moonbeam_ would have her work cut out; but then all the
more glory to the bold fellows on board of her; for these were the days
when adventure was beloved for its own sake alone.

       *       *       *       *       *

When, on the night previous, twenty brave blue-jackets from the
_Tonneraire_ were told off for special service and sent aboard the
little _Moonbeam_, which sailed a few hours after just as the moon was
rising over the Hoe, they had no idea what was in the wind. From their
armature of cutlasses and pistols, they "daresayed" there was a little
bit of fighting to be done, and rejoiced accordingly, for Jack dearly
loves a scrimmage. The wind blew high, even then tossing the cutter
about like a cork, although she carried but little sail. By next
forenoon, however, she had passed Tor Bay, and lay in semi-hiding near
Hope's Nose. There was the risk of the vessel's presence being
discovered and reported to Scrivings and his gang; but there always are
risks in warfare.

As soon as it was dusk a portion of the men were landed. Then the
_Moonbeam_, although it blew big guns, set herself to watch for the foe.

Hour after hour flew by, and the moon, glinting now and then through a
rift in the clouds, whitened the curling waves, but showed no signs of
the _Brixham_, or of anything else.

It was an anxious time.

At twelve o'clock grog and biscuits were served out. The men never had
time to swallow a mouthful--of biscuit, I mean. No doubt they drank the
grog, for those were the days of can-tossing, a custom now happily but
seldom honoured.

Yes, there she was! It could be none other save daring Hawkins in the
_Brixham_.

Small look-out was being kept to-night, however, on the smuggler.

The _Moonbeam_ swept down on her as hawk swoops down on his prey, and
although Tor Bay is wondrous wide, and the _Brixham_ was nearly in the
centre of it, the cutter was on her in a surprisingly short time.

Fine seamanship, fine steering, to sheer alongside and grapple, despite
the fact that the sea had gone down, and the waves were partially under
the lee of the hills.

If ever man was surprised, that man was Smuggler Hawkins. But he
answered the call to surrender with a shout of defiance.

After this it was all a wild medley of pistols cracking, cutlasses
clashing, cries--yes, and, I am sorry to say, a few groans; for blood
was shed, and one man at least would never sail the salt seas more. But
if blood was shed, the seas washed it off; for the fight took place with
the spray driving over both vessels, white in the moonlight.

A prize crew was left on the _Brixham_, and in less than twenty minutes
both craft were safe at anchor in Torquay harbour.

Meanwhile, the party who had been landed near to Hope's Nose had made
their way inland, bearing somewhat to the east to make a detour, both
for the purpose of getting well in the rear of the smugglers'
cottage--where Tom Fairlie, who was in command, knew the smugglers were
to be found--and because the night was still young.

When Scrivings left the outlook with Dan on watch, he betook himself to
this cottage, in order to complete arrangements for landing the cargo,
every bale and tub of which they had meant to haul up from Daddy's Hole
to the plains above, then to cart them away inland.

But he found his ten men ready, and even the horses and carts in
waiting. They were hired conveyances. The smugglers found no difficulty
in getting help to secure their booty in those days, when many even of
the resident gentry of England sympathized with contraband trade. So
there was nothing to be done but to wait.

It was a lonely enough spot where the little cottage stood among rocks
and woodland. Lovely as well as lonely and wild; though I fear its
beauties alone did nothing to recommend the place to the favour of
"Capting" Scrivings and his merry men.

The night waned. The moon rose higher and higher. The men in the bothy,
having eaten and drunk, had got tired at last of card-playing, and
nearly all were curled up and asleep.

The sentry had seated himself on a stone outside, and he too was
nodding, lulled into dreamland by the sough of the wind among the solemn
pines.

The wind favoured Fairlie's party, who, as stealthily as Indians, crept
towards the cottage from the rear.

The sentry was neatly seized and quickly gagged, and next moment the
lieutenant, sword in hand, his men behind him, had rushed into the
dimly-lit bothy.

"Surrender in the king's name! The first who stirs is a dead man!"

It was beautifully done. Not a show of resistance was or could be made,
and in less than an hour Tom Fairlie, with his crestfallen prisoners,
had reached the harbour, where they were welcomed by a hearty cheer,
which awakened the echoes of the rocks and a good many of the
inhabitants of the village of Torquay.[A]

 [A] The town now shows a bolder front.

And now Captain Jack Mackenzie shook hands right heartily with his
friend Tom Fairlie.

"Splendid night's work, Tom," he said. "A thousand thanks! Now the saucy
_Tonneraire_ may be called ready for sea."

Splendid night's work was it? Well, we now-a-days would think this
impressment cruel--cruel to take men away from their homes and
avocations, perhaps never to see their country more. Yet it must be
admitted that smugglers like these, who had so long defied the law,
richly deserved their fate.



CHAPTER X.

IN THE MOON'S BRIGHT WAKE.

    "Now welcome every sea delight--
       The cruise with eager watchful days,
     The skilful chase by glimmering night,
     The well-worked ship, the gallant fight,
       The loved commander's praise!"--_Old Song._


It was not without a tinge of sorrow at his heart that Jack Mackenzie
stood on his own quarter-deck and saw the chalky cliffs of England
fading far astern, as the gloom of eventide fast deepened into night. He
was not the one to give way to useless grief, but he could not help
contrasting the hope and joyfulness with which he had last left home
with his present state of mind. He was not a post-captain then
certainly, but he had that--or thought he had--for which he would gladly
now take the epaulettes from off his shoulders and fling them in the
sea--namely, the love of the only girl he ever thought worth living for.
But she-- Well, no matter; that was past and gone. His love had
been all a dream, a happy dream enough while it lasted, while his
heart had been to her a toy. But then his father, his good old
careless-hearted father. Wrecked and ruined! That he was in difficulties
Jack had known for years, but he never knew how deep these were, nor
that they had so entwined themselves around the roots of the old
homestead, that to get rid of the former was to tear up the latter and
cast all its old associations to the four winds of heaven. Dear old
homestead! Somehow Jack had dreamt he would always have it to go home to
on every return voyage, always have his father there to welcome him
back, always--

"Hallo!" said a voice at his side, "what is all this reverie about,
Jack?"

Tom laid his hand gently, half timidly on his arm as he spoke. Half
timidly, I say, because it would not do for even the men to note a
shadow of familiarity on poop or quarter-deck betwixt a commander and
his captain.

Jack smiled somewhat sadly.

"I daresay, Tom," he replied, "it was very wrong, but I was just
breathing one last sigh for lost love and home. Oh, I don't care for
Grantley Hall so much; but then there is sister, and poor father, and it
seems rather hard he should take service again. There is just enough
saved out of the wreck for them to live on."

"Yes; and you'll win a fortune yet, mayhap an earldom, Jack--"

"Stay, Tom, stay. I care nothing for earldoms, and if I win enough to
live on I'll be content. One thing I do mean to win for Flora's
sake--honour and glory."

"Keep your mind easy about Flora," laughed Tom. "I'm going to win all
the honour and glory she is likely to want."

"I'd quite forgotten, Tom--brother."

"That's better. And, Jack, I know you'll get more ambitious as we go on.
Now mind you, you're not so badly off. That wound was a lucky hit. Just
look around and beneath you. Ever see a finer frigate? Look at her
build, her spars, her rigging, everything taut and trim and
ship-shape--the very ship seems proud of herself, considering the
independent way she goes swinging over the waves on the wings of this
delightful breeze; swinging over the waves, bobbing and bowing to them
as if they were mere passing acquaintances, and she proud mistress of
the seas. Then, Jack, let me recall your attention to the fact that we
have five-and-forty bonnie black guns and three hundred and twenty bold
blue-jackets to man and to fight them; and that _you_--you lucky
dog--are monarch of all you survey. Ah, brother mine, there is many a
sailor mo'sieur afloat on the seas at this moment 'twixt here and
America who well might tremble did he but know the fate that is in store
for him when the _Tonneraire_ crosses his hawse."

"You bloodthirsty man!"

"No, no, no. I've got one of the softest hearts ever turned out of dock,
but it is all for king and country, you know. Behold how our good ship
goes sweeping through the deep! Look, my captain bold, we are coming up
to the convoy hand-over-hand. It was a good idea giving them half a
day's start, for some of them, I daresay, we'll find are lazy lubbers."

"Well," said Jack, as we shall still call him, "we must do our best to
keep them together. I would not like, however, for my own part, to go
out in protection of many convoys."

"Nor will we; this is only a kind of trial trip. But if you are afraid
you won't have any fighting to do, you may be agreeably disappointed,
as the Irishman said."

Jack Mackenzie laughed.

"What a fire-eater you are, Tom! I wasn't thinking of fighting. But if I
have to fight, I'd rather these merchantmen were a hundred miles away.
Fighting in convoy must make one feel as does the father of a family,
whom he has to defend against an aggressor while the children cling
tightly to his legs."

From the above conversation it will be gathered that the _Tonneraire_
had sailed at last, and was in charge of a merchant fleet bound for
America. This was considered a very responsible task in these warlike
days, when the cruisers of the enemy were here, there, and everywhere in
our ocean highways, watching a chance to seize our unprotected ships.
The _Tonneraire_ had been chosen for her strength and her fleetness, and
there was no doubt that under so able a young and dashing commander she
would fulfil her mission, and make it warm for any Frenchman who sought
to attack the ships.

There they were now sailing as closely together as possible, because
night would soon fall, and they could only be distinguished by their
lights. A cruise of this sort was seldom, if ever, free from adventure,
and it entailed much anxious care and forethought on the part of the
captain of the war-vessel convoying them. A good thing this for Jack
Mackenzie. No cure for sorrow in this world except honest work. He was
really, too, in a manner of speaking, a probationer. To do his duty
strictly, wisely, and well on this voyage would certainly entitle him to
no step, not even perhaps to praise; but to neglect it, or even to be
unfortunate, would cause him to incur the displeasure of the Admiralty
and hinder his advancement.

But a whole week went on, and though no Frenchman appeared on the scene,
Jack and his fleet had encountered a gale of wind that had driven them
considerably out of their course; and when one morning, about eight
bells, a cry of "Land" was raised, he knew he must be in the
neighbourhood of the Azores or Western Islands.

He was not altogether sorry for this; it would give him a chance of
taking in fresh water and of adding to the store of fresh provisions now
almost exhausted. For ships in those days were vilely found, and the men
called contractors were held in general detestation by every ship in the
service.

 [Illustration: "_Sailing across the moon's bright wake was a
                French man-o'-war._"                Page 93.]

The merchantmen under Jack numbered fourteen in all, and were of
different classes--brigs, barques, and full-rigged ships; but long
before sundown they were all securely anchored in front of San Miguel,
and Captain Mackenzie, in full uniform, accompanied by Commander
Fairlie, had gone on shore to pay his respects to the Portuguese
governor.

San Miguel was not so densely populated as it is now, but very quaint as
to its town, and very romantic and beautiful as to its scenery all
around. The governor dwelt in a villa on a garden-terraced hill in the
outskirts. He was very pleased to see the officers, but deferred
business till next day.

It was, however, while smoking in the veranda after dinner, and gazing
dreamily away across the moonlit ocean, that Jack suddenly sprang up,
and, clutching Tom's arm, pointed seawards.

Slowly sailing across the moon's bright wake was a French man-o'-war.



CHAPTER XI.

THE PHANTOM FRENCHMAN.

    "If to engage we get the word,
       To quarters we'll repair,
     While splintered masts go by the board,
       And shots sing through the air."
                                DIBDIN.


Beautiful island of San Miguel! on whose shores, wherever they slope in
sheets of sand towards the sea, the white waves play and sing; whose
gigantic rocks, frowning black and beetling above the water, are fondly
licked by mother ocean's tongue as dog salutes a master's hand.

Island, surrounded by seas that towards the far horizon seem
unfathomably blue, yet near around are patched in the sunshine with
opal, with green, and with azure, and tremble like mercury under the
moon and the starlight.

Island of fountain-springs, that shoot their white and boiling spray
farther skywards than ever spouted Nor'land whale.

Island of mountains, high and wild, whose summits seek to withdraw from
earth away, and hide their proud heads above the clouds, when storms
rage far beneath.

Island of green and lonesome glens, where bright-winged birds chant low
their love-songs to their listening mates, and where many a strange,
fantastic fern nods weeping o'er the hurrying streams.

Island of scented orange-groves, of waving palms, of dark dwarf
pines--black shapes in many a cloud of green--of the rose, the camellia,
the oleander, the passion-flower. Island of wild flowers, that grow and
wanton everywhere, that have their home in the woods, that carpet the
earth with colour, that clothe the rocks, that hang head downwards in
masses over many a foaming cataract, that climb the trees and repose
like living, sentient beings among the branches, wooing the bees,
attracting the butterflies, and tempting the gay, metallic-tinted moths
to expand their cloaks in the sunshine, and fly clumsily to their
embrace.

Island of seeming contentment, where even human beings live but to idle
and to lounge and to love.

Beautiful, beautiful island!

Yes; but an island on which our heroes must not linger, for twice during
the night a dark shape glided across the moon's bright wake, and those
on watch on board the _Tonneraire_ knew it was the waiting, watching
foe. But when day broke no foe was to be seen. Captain Mackenzie stayed
therefore only long enough to take in extra stores, water, and fruit,
and to permit his fleet to do likewise; then the signal was made, "Up
anchor, and to sea!"

In silence the anchors were weighed on board the man-o'-war; but
accompanied on the merchant-vessels by the never-failing song, with its
frequent abrupt conclusion, without which merchantman Jack finds it
impossible to carry on a bit of duty.

"Hee--hoy--ee! Hee hoy! Pull, and she comes! Hoy--ee--ee! Hoip!"

       *       *       *       *       *

All that day the young captain of the _Tonneraire_ kept his fleet well
together. Not an easy task, for although the wind was by no means high,
and was moreover favourable, being north-east by east--the course
steered about north-west, the convoy bearing up for Halifax and the Gulf
of St. Lawrence--still the sailing powers of the vessels varied
considerably. The strength of an iron chain equals the strength of its
weakest link, and the speed of a fleet of merchantmen is measured by
that of its slowest sailer. While at San Miguel, Jack had tried to
impress this upon the minds of his various skippers. He held a meeting
of these on board a large full-rigged ship, and told them their motto
must be, "Keep together," as the danger of an attack was imminent. Slow
sailers must carry stun'-sails when they found themselves getting
behind, while the fast must take in sail.

They admitted this.

"It is as plain as the nose on my face," said one intelligent skipper,
who had a huge red bulbous proboscis you could have almost seen in the
dark. "We've got to play up to you, Captain Mackenzie, just as the small
fry plays up to a great hactor on the stage."

This was all very well, but then they did not do it, so that the rate of
speed was slow; ships and barques having to haul their fore or main
yards aback at times to wait for the lazy brigs who either couldn't or
wouldn't set stun'-sails. And at eventide, while the sun was going in a
lacework of golden cloud, and looking so red that he appeared to be
ashamed of the fleet, the vessels were scattered all over three square
miles, and Jack Mackenzie, not now in the best of tempers, had to
collect them as a collie pens his sheep.

It was dark enough after the somewhat brief twilight had given place to
light--to light and to _lights_, for signal-lanterns hung aloft on every
ship; so all appeared safe and snug enough.

But what had become of the Frenchman? He had not been seen all day. Was
it indeed but a phantom that had been seen in the moon's bright wake?

A good watch was kept both 'low and aloft; and Jack went down to dinner
at the sound of the bugle.

As he passed near the midshipmen's berth, quite a buzz of happy voices
issued therefrom. Jack paused for a few seconds to listen. It was not so
very long since he himself had been a middy. No responsibility had he
then, any more than rested on any of these bright young hearts at
that moment. How they laughed and chaffed and talked, to be sure!
Interspersed in the hubbub were now and then snatches of merry song, and
now and then the notes of a somewhat squeaky and asthmatical violin,
invariably followed by some one shouting, "Stop that awful fiddle!" "Hit
'im in the eye with a bit o' biscuit!" or "Grease his bow!" Then a
deeper bass voice, evidently Scotch, and just as evidently a junior
surgeon's, saying, "Let the laddie practise.--Fiddle away, my boy; I'll
thrash all hands if they meddle with ye."

Jack went away laughing to himself. Little those boys--who not long
since left home and Merrie England--know or care that ere another hour,
perhaps, the decks of the _Tonneraire_ may be slippery with blood.

Ah! all the care was his--was the post-captain's. Uneasy lies the head
that--hallo! He had just entered the ward-room, and found all the
fellows there quite as happy as the middies. They were at dessert, for
they dined earlier than their captain. M'Hearty was seated at the head
of the table, and was spinning a short but funny yarn, to which his
messmates' laugh was ready chorus. Tom was vice-president; the
lieutenants, the purser, and officers of the marines were ranged along
the tables, red jackets and blue, forming a pretty contrast; the table
was laden with fruit and flowers from the island they had that morning
left, while glasses and cruets sparkled on a tablecloth white as snow.

Jack took all this in at a glance as he entered with a preliminary tap,
which was not heard in the delicious hubbub. He almost sighed to think
that he had to go away and dine all by himself alone.

On seeing the captain, every one rose, nor would they be seated until he
consented to sit down.

"Just sit down, Captain Mackenzie," said M'Hearty, with a merry twinkle
in his eye, "and have a glass of wine while your soup is getting cold."

"If the president bids me, I must obey," said Jack, seating himself
beside Tom. "It must be but for a moment. There are older men than
myself here--our worthy Master Simmons, for example. I came to take your
views about that Frenchman. He is evidently a battle-ship, probably a
seventy-four. I say fight him; but considering this is my first
captaincy--" But he was interrupted. Every man rose to his feet. It was
a strange council of war, because every man held aloft a glass of wine.

The words, "Fight him!" ran round the table like platoon firing. There
was determination in every eye and in every voice, from the deep bass of
the gray-bearded master down to the shrill treble of the rosy-cheeked
fledgeling marine-officer Murray, a mere boy, who would certainly have
seemed more in place in the cricket-field than on the battle-deck.

"I'm going now," said Jack. "Thank you all.--Excuse me, won't you, Dr.
M'Hearty? I think the soup is cold enough by this time. But we'll make
it hot for the enemy."

"Hurrah!"

The moon was later in rising that night, being on the wane.

It was the first lieutenant's watch from eight till twelve. Nothing
transpired until about seven bells, when Jack and Tom Fairlie were
walking slowly up and down the poop. The moon was now well up, but
hidden by a mass of cumulus cloud. Presently she would burst into view,
for the clouds were sailing slowly along the horizon, and near hand was
a rift of blue.

Instinctively as it were, both officers stopped to gaze in that
direction. In a few seconds the moon shot into the field of blue, and
her light flashed over the sea.

It flashed upon the phantom Frenchman, as Tom Fairlie called her; but so
quickly had she come into view that the sight was startling in the
extreme. She was not crossing the moon's wake this time, however, but
bearing down upon the _Tonneraire_, as if about to attack her.

The man at the mast-head had seen her at the same time, and his
stentorian shout of, "Enemy on the starboard quarter!" awoke the
sleeping ship to instant life as effectually as if a fifty-pounder had
fired.

All hands to quarters.

R--r--r--r--r--r--r--r rattled the drum. It rattled once; the heaviest
sleeper started and rubbed his eyes. It rattled twice; every man was on
his legs and dressing. Thrice; and three minutes thereafter every man
stood by his gun, and the cockpit hatches were put down. The ship was
ready for action.

Would she come on? would the Frenchman fight? Alas! no. Already she
began to assume larger proportions as she showed broadside on. Above the
wind, that now blew more gently from the north, the very flapping of her
sails and loosening of her sheets could be heard as she came round, and
in less than an hour she had almost disappeared in the uncertain light.



CHAPTER XII.

A BATTLE BY NIGHT.

    "What art thou, fascinating War,
       Thou trophied, painted pest,
     That thus men seek and yet abhor,
       Pursue and yet detest?"--DIBDIN.


Day after day Jack's fleet held on its course, and the weather
continued unbroken and fine. Day after day the phantom Frenchman hovered
somewhere about, afraid perhaps to try conclusions with that rakish,
spiteful-looking British frigate, or perhaps but biding her chance.

Twice or thrice Jack put about, sailed back and challenged her, with a
shot, to fight if she dared. There never came the slightest response
from Johnny Crapaud--she seemed indeed a phantom.

And at night those on board the _Tonneraire_ could not help thinking the
phantom was ever near them, even when it was too dark to see her. I do
not think, however, that it kept many of the officers awake at night,
although it must be confessed Jack was ill at ease. If it were possible
for the enemy to steal near enough in the pitchy dark portion of the
night, the first intimation of her presence might be a raking broadside
that would sweep the decks fore and aft; then farewell the _Tonneraire_.

There are few things more difficult to bear than what Scotch people so
expressively term "tig-tire," or excessive tantalization. There came a
day when Jack called his chief officers together in his own cabin.

"Gentlemen," he said, "I've had enough of that French fellow. Why should
he follow us night and day, like the shadow of the evil one, and yet
refuse to fight? I mean to carry war into the enemy's camp, or rather on
to his quarter-deck, if you think my plan feasible. Remember, I am
hot-headed and young."

Jack then unfolded his plans, and they were generally approved, though
the old master was somewhat doubtful of their success.

"However," he growled, "I'll take the wheel. Better, perhaps, after all,
that we should take the initiative; for, blow me to smithereens, if
that tantalizing Froggie ain't spoiling my appetite!"

There was a general laugh at this, and the council broke up.

Next day it blew little more than a seven-knot breeze, and the sun
sparkled on the waters like showers of diamonds. The Frenchman marvelled
much to see not only the British frigate, but all the merchant fleet
close together, and with main or fore yards aback. The truth is, Captain
Mackenzie was issuing his orders by boat.

About an hour afterwards Johnny Crapaud smiled grimly to himself to see
the _Tonneraire_ fill her sails and tack out to offer him battle.

"The fool!" said Johnny. "When the gale of wind shall come, then I shall
fight. Till then, _non_, _non_!"

So he filled and bore southwards next; and as Jack had no desire for a
race, he returned to his fleet. He had done all he wanted to: he had put
Johnny on the wrong scent.

That night, at sunset, clouds gathered up and quite obscured the sky.

Johnny rubbed his hands and chuckled.

"Soon," he said, "it will blow what perfidious England calls big guns.
Then--ah--_then_!"

It blew big guns far sooner than he had expected.

The night was intensely dark, but the half-moon would rise about four
bells in the middle watch.

When Johnny Crapaud looked towards the fleet, lo! the vessels had extra
lights all, and lights were streaming from every port.

"Ha! ha!" he grinned. "They rejoice; they dance. They think they have
made me fly. When the gale blows, then they will dance--to different
music."

The watch kept on board the French seventy-four was not extra vigilant.
Especially did no one think of looking astern. Had any one on the
outlook done so, then just about a quarter of an hour before moonrise he
might have seen a dark shape coming hand-over-hand across the water from
the direction in which "fair France" lay--fair France that many a poor
fellow on Johnny's ship would never see again.

It was the _Tonneraire_. She had made a detour with every stitch of
canvas set, and was now almost close aboard of the enemy.

Ah! at last they perceive her; and the noise on board the enemy is
indescribable--the shrieking of orders, the rattle of arms and cordage,
the trampling of feet, the stamping and unlimbering of guns. But
against her stern windows, which are all ablaze with light, the
_Tonneraire_ concentrates her whole starboard broadside. The effect is
startling and terrible. Confusion prevails on board the enemy--almost
panic, indeed; and this lasts long enough for the frigate to sail back
on the other tack. Jack's object is to cripple her, and with this object
in view he concentrates his larboard broadside again in the stern of the
seventy-four, and her rudder is a thing of the past.

Away glides the _Tonneraire_. _She_ is the phantom now. She loads her
guns, and is coming down with the wind again--like the wind, too--when
the seventy-four gets in her first broadside. It does but little harm.
It does not stop the onward rush of the swift bold frigate even for a
moment; and Jack's next broadside is a telling one, for the Frenchman's
sails are not only ashiver, but aflap, awry, anyhow and everyhow; and
just as the moon throws her first faint light athwart the waves, once
more the helpless merchantmen tremble to hear the thunder of twenty
cannon. For the _Tonneraire_ has crossed the enemy's hawse, and raked
him fore and aft.

Now down comes the Frenchman's foremast; and shortly after, a wild
triumphant shout echoes from stem to stern and stern to stem of brave
young Jack's ship, for the enemy has surrendered.

A French seventy-four striking her flag to a British frigate of forty
guns! Yes; but far more daring deeds than that which I now record
happened in the dashing days of old.

Captain Jack Mackenzie would have gone right straight on board the
enemy, but the master cautioned him.

"Nay, nay, sir," he said. "There is such a thing as French treachery; I
have known it before. Wait till the moon gets higher, and we will board
in force. Remember, they may have about five hundred men still alive on
that ship."

Jack took the advice thus vouchsafed; but in half-an-hour's time the
_Tonneraire_ rasped alongside the seventy-four, and a rush was made up
the sides of the battle-ship.

But all was safe.

And stark and stiff on his own poop lay the French captain, and
alongside him more than one of his officers. The decks were a sad sight
in the glimmering moonlight, for splintered timbers and arms lay
everywhere, and everywhere were dead and wounded.

More by token, from the uncertain, heavy-swaying motion of the vessel,
it was evident she had been badly hit 'twixt wind and water, and was
already sinking. All haste was therefore made to save the men. Those of
the ship's boats that were not smashed were lowered, and further
assistance was sent for from the merchant fleet, and none too soon
either.

A few minutes after the last man--and that was Jack Mackenzie, who
personally superintended everything--had left the ill-fated Frenchman,
her decks blew up with a dull report, the water rushed in from all
sides, and just as the sun threw his first yellow beams upwards through
the morning clouds, the great ship shuddered like a dying thing, and
shuddering sank.

Such is war; why should we desire it?

But side by side with tragedy do we ever find something akin to the
ridiculous or comic.

It was Tom Fairlie himself who was despatched to the merchant fleet to
beg them to send all the boats they could to rescue the wounded and
prisoners from the sinking war-ship. Almost the first vessel he boarded
was that commanded by the skipper who owned the bulbous nose. And here a
strange and a wonderful sight met his gaze. Arranged in double rank on
the quarter-deck were about twenty or more sailors, each armed with a
gun and bayonet, the skipper himself at their head drilling them.

"Shoulder-houp!" he was shouting as Tom leaped down from the bulwark.

The most comical part of the business was this: every one of the honest
skipper's sailor-soldiers had a white linen shirt on over his dress, and
as the men's legs were bare to the knees, they all looked as near to
naked as decency would permit. While Tom stopped to laugh aloud, Captain
Bulbous hastened to explain.

"Were comin' to your assistance, I was, in half-a-minute. Stuck on them
shirts so's they should know each other from the French. See? Do look
curious, though, I must admit. What! the fight all over? Well, I _am_
sorry."

Before eight bells in the morning watch the prisoners were distributed
all over the fleet, with the exception of the wounded, who were under
the charge of Dr. M'Hearty on board the saucy _Tonneraire_.



CHAPTER XIII.

A HAPPY SHIP.

    "On Friendship so many perfections attend
     That the rational comfort of life is a friend."
                                            DIBDIN.


In the early part of the present century the poet Dibdin wrote with
great feeling and spirit concerning the "generous Britons and the
barbarous French." There is no doubt about it, the French in those days
were far more cruel to their prisoners than ever we were to ours.

And so the wounded on board the _Tonneraire_ were absolutely astounded
at the kind treatment they experienced under good M'Hearty and his
assistants. The surgeon himself looked in face--or figure-head--as rough
and weather-beaten a sailor as ever trod a plank, but in heart he was as
tender as any woman.

More than one of his poor patients wrung the doctor's red hands, and,
with tears rolling over their sallow cheeks, prayed Heaven to bless him
for his goodness and sympathy.

But this was not all, for even the men were good to the prisoners. Many
a morsel of tobacco did they give them on the sly; and if a Jack-tar
observed that one was asleep in his hammock, he would sign to his
fellows to make as little noise as possible. It is no wonder, therefore,
that the "Froggies," as they were called, nearly all recovered from
their wounds. Two or three, however, succumbed, and these were buried
with as much ceremony as if they had been British sailors. The same
impressive and beautiful service was repeated by the grating where the
body lay; the same solemn silence prevailed while it was being read; and
I am not sure that some of our Jacks did not even shed a tear--on the
sly, that is, for your true sailor ever tries to hide two things, his
grief and his tender-heartedness--as with dull plash the body dropped
into the sea.

       *       *       *       *       *

Contrary winds and storms delayed the voyage. Nearly a whole month flew
by, and still the little fleet had not yet reached the longitude of
Newfoundland. But to his credit be it told, Jack and his officers had
managed to keep them all well together, and had not lost one.

The _Tonneraire_ was a very happy ship, the primary reason being that
Jack Mackenzie, though a thorough upholder of the sacredness of duty,
was really kind and thoughtful at heart. He knew the value in the
service of strict obedience to command. I have heard it said that a
man-o'-war sailor or a soldier is a mere machine. He is not even that,
he is only part of a machine; but he has the honour to be part and
portion of one of the grandest machines that ever were perfected--the
upholder of our national honour, the defender of British hearths and
homes, and the protector of tender women and helpless babies.

We man-o'-war sailors, and ye soldiers, carry on war, it is true, and we
hit just as hard as we know how to--and war is a fearful game at the
best; but, dear civilians, do not forget that we constitute the only
institutions that can render peace possible, and your homes happy and
safe, machines though we be.

But how would it be if strict, unthinking, unhesitating obedience were
not exacted from every man and officer in the service to the commands of
his superior officers? Why, on the day of battle the army or navy would
be a mere squabbling mob, worse even than the British Parliament.

I may mention here that it was his cheerful obedience to orders, his
good-natured smiling alacrity--minus officiousness, mind you--his
unselfishness and his bravery, that gained for Jack Mackenzie the proud
position he now held.

Young men who mean to enter the service should read that last sentence
of mine over again, ay, even get it by heart.

I digress, you say? So I do.

Well, I was saying that the _Tonneraire_ was a happy ship. All the
officers, both junior and senior, agreed. The chief lights of the senior
mess were Tom Fairlie, always good-humoured and cheerful; honest
M'Hearty, rough and genial; young Murray, the boy marine officer, merry
and innocent; and Simmons the master, who _would_ have his growl, who
was all thunder without the lightning, but a very excellent old fellow,
when young Murray didn't tease him _too_ much. Between M'Hearty,
Fairlie, Murray, and Jack himself a strange sort of a compact was made.
It was Murray who proposed it one lovely moonlight night, when the four
were together on the poop. Young Murray had cheek enough for anything.
He was the second son of a noble lord, and would himself be a lord one
day--probably. Not that his rank in life made him any the cheekier, but
I suppose it was born in the boy. He cared little or nothing for the
etiquette or punctilios of the service when it suited him not to. For
example, he one day actually linked his arm through that of an admiral
on the quarter-deck. Everybody was aghast; but the good old admiral
merely smiled. He knew boys and liked them.

But that night on the quarter-deck Murray said openly and innocently to
Jack: "I like you, sir--fact, I wish you were my brother; and you too,
Fairlie, though you're a fool sometimes; and you, M'Hearty, though
you're often absurdly rough. I wish we could be together for years and
years and years, in the same ship, you know, and all that sort of
thing."

"Well, why not?" said M'Hearty. "Let us try; eh, captain?"

"I'm agreeable," said Jack.

"And I," said Fairlie.

"Hurrah!" cried Murray. So the compact was made.

The men forward, taking the cue from their officers, were just as
jolly.

Those were terrible days of flogging. For a look or a glance, a man
might be tied up and receive four dozen lashes with the terrible "cat."
It was a brutal punishment. But M'Hearty was dead against it; Jack too;
and so the grating was never rigged on board the _Tonneraire_.

Well, despite dirty weather and head winds, the fleet finally sailed
into the mouth of the St. Lawrence river without ever losing a stick. At
the Canadian capital, Jack and his officers, ay, and the men as well,
had what the Yankees call "a real good time of it." Jack became quite a
hero among the ladies, young and old. Yet he did not let that elate him.
His heart was not his own--as yet, though he might get over his grief
for his lost love Gerty.

But having refitted, there was nothing left but to put to sea again.

The _Tonneraire_ cruised all down by the American coast and to the West
Indies. Before reaching Jamaica she was attacked by two French
line-of-battle ships. What they were doing here they themselves best
knew. They were badly wanted just then on the other side of the sea. Now
this was a chance to test the sailing powers of the _Tonneraire_.
Discretion is sometimes better than valour. Valour is sometimes folly.
Jack ran. Nelson himself did so once or twice. You and I, my bold young
reader, are not going to stand a blow from a big fellow without hitting
back; but if the big fellow brings his big brother, then we may as well
take the opportunity of going shopping, or somewhere. Jack Mackenzie
went shopping, so to speak, and the _Tonneraire_ won the race.

I wish I had space in my story to tell you something about Jamaica, and
the lovely West India Islands, first discovered by Columbus. I am
strangely tempted to. I will. I _won't_. I shall. I _shan't_. Belay!
I've won.

       *       *       *       *       *

At the time of which I am writing--the latter end of 1796--there was a
very pretty naval combination formed, with a view to crush the might of
Britain. The French, who had a navy nearly as powerful as our own, got
the Dutch and Spaniards to join them, and felt certain that we should go
down to Davy Jones by the run, and never more--

         "Sweep through the deep
    While stormy winds do blow."

Instead of saying "got the Dutch and Spaniards to join them," I should
have written, "formed an alliance with these nations against us,"
because we determined that, with Heaven on our side, we should prevent a
junction of the fleets. So brave Scotch Duncan shut the Dutch up in the
Texel like a lot of rats. They had not the pluck to come out and fight
him. Well, Duncan would have blown them sky-high, as he eventually did.
There was a French fleet at Brest, and the Spaniards farther south, and
had they all got together--but then they didn't. You know the position
of a game of draughts when you have one of your enemy's crowned heads in
each corner, and he cannot move without danger. That is blockade, and
that is how we held and meant to hold the French, Spaniards, and Dutch
till we should smash them time about, and then sing, "Britannia, the
pride of the ocean," or some bold equivalent thereto.

The Spaniards had their lesson first.

It was well for Jack Mackenzie that he arrived off Cadiz in his swift
_Tonneraire_[B] about a week before the great battle of St. Vincent. I
do not mean to describe this fight at any length; every school-boy knows
all about it. I merely wish to remind the reader of some of its chief
events, because to me it has always seemed such a blood-stirring
battle. The haughty Don had a fleet of twenty-seven sail of the line and
two frigates. Some of his ships, like the _Santissima-Trinidad_, were
perfect _montes belli_--thunder-bergs. Fancy a four-decker carrying one
hundred and thirty guns! and the Spaniards had six that carried one
hundred and twenty; while we had only two of one hundred guns, the
_Victory_ and _Britannia_.

 [B] Fictitious name, the reader of history will note.

On the 1st of February Lord St. Vincent, then Sir John Jervis, was in
the Tagus with only ten ships; but as the great fleet of the Don sailed
from Carthagena to effect a junction with the French fleet at Toulon,
Jervis set sail after them. He meant to spoil some of the paint-work
about that fine Spanish fleet. It was very brave of him, and quite
British. Luckily on the 6th he was joined by Admiral Parker with five
ships, and on the 13th--hurrah!--by Commodore Nelson himself. Strangely
enough, Nelson on the previous night seems to have sailed right through
the Spanish fleet.

St. Valentine's Day 1797 will ever be memorable in the naval annals of
this country, for, in a driving mist and fog, our fleet that morning
forgathered with the might of Spain off Cape St. Vincent. The majestic
appearance of the ships of the Don could not but have impressed our
officers and men, but it did not awe them. The bigger the ship the
larger the target, our Nelson used to say.

Our fleet advanced in two beautiful lines. The Spaniards somehow had got
divided into two groups--one of nineteen ships, the other group some
distance to leeward--and these two made haste to unite. But Jervis
spoiled that move by getting between them and attacking the main body.
After the battle had fairly commenced, and each ship of ours had her
orders, Nelson noted an attempt on the part of Don Josef de Cordova to
pass round Jervis's rear and join the other portion of the fleet; and
despite the fact that he was disobeying orders--"They can but hang me,"
he said to Captain Miller--he slipped back and threw his ship, the
_Captain_, right athwart the mighty _Santissima-Trinidad_, thus driving
the Don's fleet back. It was, as the reader knows, this daring action on
the part of Nelson that decided the battle. But how terribly the fight
raged after that; how pluckily Nelson, with his vessel a wreck, boarded
and captured ship after ship; how the hell of battle raged for three
long hours, let history tell, as well as speak of cases of individual
heroism. Suffice it for me to say that the battle was won and the Don
was thrashed, among the captured ships being the mighty _Trinidad_
herself, the Spanish admiral's castle.

The _Tonneraire_ suffered severely. Sixty poor fellows would never again
see their native land, and many more were wounded.

Young Murray was among the severely wounded, but Jack himself, and Tom
as well, escaped without a scratch.

"Oh dear me, dear me!" said M'Hearty, running up for a few moments from
the heat and smoke of the stifling cockpit, "I am thirsty."

Poor M'Hearty! he wasn't a pretty sight to look at, begrimed with smoke
and blood. But he just had a drink, and a big one, and went back once
more to his terrible work.

But the good doctor was washed and dressed and smiling again when he
came to the captain's cabin that evening while the stars were shining,
to report, "Everything tidy, and all going on well."

"And poor Murray?" said Jack.

"He'll be all right--a bullet clean through the chest. That's nothing to
a young fellow like him."

"Well, stay and dine," said Jack.

"Willing, sir. What a glorious day we've had! But I can assure you,
Captain Mackenzie, I'd rather have had my head above the hatches, now
and then, anyhow."

"Be content," said Jack, laughing; "it might have been blown off, you
know."



CHAPTER XIV.

MUTINY.

    "To be a hero, stand or fall,
       Depends upon the man;
     Let all then in their duty stand,
       Each point of duty weigh,
     Remembering those can best command
       Who best know to obey."--DIBDIN.


It is terrible to think and to remember that about this time our country
was in the greatest danger of being conquered and lost through mutiny.
Of all evils that can befall a navy this is surely the worst.

There was a mutinous spirit in the fleet of Sir John Jervis after the
battle of St. Vincent, which the gallant knight used all his endeavours
to quell. He was a brave and most energetic officer, and not only did he
have the good of his country at heart, but he spared no effort to render
those who served under him happy and comfortable. I do not refer to the
officers only, but to the men as well. One would not be far wrong in
saying that he knew almost every man in the fleet. He loved his people,
and liked to have them happy, going among them, and even suggesting
games and amusements. Those were the days of tossing cans, and of
Saturday nights at sea, and the drinking of the healths of wives and
sweethearts. So long as the men kept sober, Jervis rather liked this,
and was never better pleased than when, on the last evening of the week,
he heard the voices of the men raised in song, or the squeaking of the
merry fiddle and gleesome flute.

But Sir John would have discipline, etiquette, and dress.

Jack Mackenzie was never more honoured nor pleased than when he and
M'Hearty were asked to dine with the admiral on board the flagship, the
_Victory_. Sir John was jovial, nay, even jolly. Jack was shy, but he
had to talk, and much to his own surprise soon found himself as much at
home in the admiral's society as he would have been in that of his own
father.

As for M'Hearty, nothing put that good fellow out, and at the admiral's
request he gave a very graphic account indeed of his doings in the
cockpit on the day of the battle. Sir John laughed heartily when the
doctor wound up seriously with the words, "But, dear Sir John, I _was_
thirsty."

To have seen this admiral to-night, no one would have believed that he
had that day signed the death-warrant of the ringleader of the mutineers
on board the _Marlborough_. But so it was, and to-morrow he should die.

It was on board the _Marlborough_ that the mutiny had found a hot-bed.
It was on board the _Marlborough_ that Sir John determined this man
should be hanged, hoisted up by the hands of his own messmates, whom his
seditious eloquence had seduced from duty's path.

It was a stern resolve. The captain of the _Marlborough_ had come on
board to beg that the man might be executed in some other ship. His
messmates, he averred, would never hang him, but would break at once out
into open mutiny. This officer was dismissed to his ship with one of the
severest reprimands ever administered to any captain in his majesty's
service.

Down below, in a darksome cabin of the cockpit of the _Victory_, Jack
went to see an old shipmate of his, a boatswain who had been with him
in the _Ocean Pride_. He was wounded, but recovering, and was delighted
to have a visit from one he had known as a mere boy.

And not far from this gloomy cabin was the cell in which the unhappy man
was confined who next morning early should pay the penalty for his
insubordination. Jack just caught one glimpse of his gray unhappy face,
in which his dark eyes gleamed like living coals. That face haunted him
in his dreams throughout the livelong night.

He saw that face again next morning, as the man was being taken to the
ship to be hanged _by his messmates_. The same gray, cadaverous hue, the
same dark and stony stare. "Had he a wife," Jack wondered, "or a sister
that loved and cared for him, or prattling children who would never see
their sailor 'daddy' more?" Oh, the sadness of it!

The whole fleet witnessed that punishment from rigging and decks. Every
precaution was taken to insure its being carried out. Captain Campbell
of the _Blenheim_ superintended. Launches armed with carronades were
ranged near the _Marlborough_, and the orders they had were to open fire
at once upon the rebellious ship if the men refused obedience, or dared
to open a port, and, if need be, to sink her with all hands, in presence
of the fleet.

But see! the trembling wretch stands out upon the cat-head, the awful
rope around his neck. The end is rove through a block in the fore-yard
arm, and taken down and round the deck, so that every man may help to
pull.

Bang! A great gun is fired from the flagship. The sound thrills through
every heart, and every eye is turned towards the _Marlborough's_
cat-head. The rope trembles, is tightened, and finally--there is an end.

The mutiny is nipped in the bud, and the fleet is saved.

But thus it must ever be. Mutiny is a monster that must be crushed by
the iron heel of force, ere yet it is fully hatched.

       *       *       *       *       *

Jack was not sorry when all was over and the boats returned to their
respective ships. To relieve his mind he went to see Murray. The poor
boy smiled feebly, and held out his white worn hand to clasp that of
Jack.

"I've been thinking of home, and my little sweetheart, sir."

"Have you a little sweetheart?"

"Yes; look!"

He took out a miniature from his breast--one of the sweetest young faces
Jack had ever seen.

"That is why I don't want to die, sir."

Jack heaved a sigh. But after this all the spare time he had he passed
by the side of young Murray's cot. And now came the terrible bombardment
of Cadiz.



CHAPTER XV.

BEFORE CADIZ.

    "For honour, glory, and the laws,
       Is native courage given;
     And he who fights his country's cause,
       Fights in the cause of Heaven."--DIBDIN.


It may be doubted whether the awful bombardment of Cadiz was a necessity
of war. A bombardment is always a cruel undertaking, and often seems
positively cowardly. But Sir John had one particular reason of his own,
independent of exigency, for this cannonade. There was still a
smouldering fire of disaffection among the seamen of the fleet, and he
therefore determined to keep the sailors busy. Busy with a terrible
busy-ness surely, for day and night, night and day, the firing went on,
while many a daring cutting-out expedition was organized; and in some of
these, deeds of heroism were accomplished that the British nation may
well be proud of, even till this day. In one of these, during a boat
action, Nelson himself was overpowered, and narrowly escaped being
slain. But for his coxswain, who twice or thrice interposed his own body
betwixt the swords of the assailants and the commodore, the battle of
the Nile would never have been fought.[C]

 [C] This man was for his gallantry promoted to be a gunner, and not long
     afterwards was killed at his gun.

In the cutting-out expeditions and boat actions, in or near to the
harbour, and in repelling attempts to run the blockade from the town,
our officers, even our captains, fought side by side with their men.

The marines were particularly gallant and courageous. Sir John Jervis
delighted to honour this gallant body of men. They certainly deserved to
be petted and made much of; but the admiral had another reason for his
treatment of them. He thought he might possibly have eventually to play
them off against the seamen in case of revolt.

Surely, upon the whole, this year 1797 was one of the most eventful in
the whole history of this long and bloody war. A dark cloud seemed
hanging over our native land, which at any moment might burst into a
storm that would end in our utter collapse, if not destruction. And the
shadow of this cloud was in every heart. Nor is this to be wondered at.
The people were positively an-hungered, the children were crying for
bread. Far away in the north, the crops had all but failed, and famine
and death stared the people in the face. Britain's best blood was being
drained off to the wars; her sturdiest sons--those who ought to have
stayed at home to work for the women and children--were "weeded away."
Money seemed to have taken unto itself wings and flown off; and in
February the Bank of England itself came down with a crash, and closed
its doors. Even those who in wild disorderly mobs did not preach anarchy
or cry for bread, called aloud for "Peace." Peace, indeed! what would
peace have meant at such a time but dishonour and ruin. No, no! peace
could not again hover on her white wings over our distracted country for
many a day. To make matters worse, Ireland was ripe for rebellion, and
our British forces by land had been unsuccessful; for we had been beaten
and thrashed by the French in Holland. Is it not a pretty picture?

But the darkest hour had yet to come. I have already told you about the
combination formed against us. Well, had the Dutch fleet been able to
join forces with the French, this brave Britain of ours would no longer
have ruled the ocean, and all the horrors of invasion, massacre, and
rapine would have been added to our other troubles. We were depending
upon our Channel fleet to avert the last and overwhelming calamity, when
all at once, to the horror of every one, this fleet mutinied and refused
to go to sea. They even seized their officers, and though they lifted no
hand against them, they disarmed them, and either made them prisoners or
allowed a few, among whom were medical officers, to go on shore.

The men demanded increase in pay and other allowances; and it must be
confessed that, upon the whole, they had their grievances. It was not
before several anxious weeks had gone by that the differences were
settled.

It was the good old admiral Lord Howe who himself brought the king's
free pardon to the men, and the Act of Parliament granting them their
just demands. He was a very great favourite, and looked upon as quite a
father to the fleet.

Then on the 17th of May the ships put to sea.

 [Illustration: "_Up and down the streets, carrying red flags, his
                fellows marched._"                      Page 133.]

We must remember that seamen in the royal navy in those old days had a
good deal to complain of. The pay was inadequate, the food was often
unfit for human consumption, leave was seldom given in port, and
discipline was often maintained by the cat-o'-nine-tails, the services
of which might in nine cases out of ten have been dispensed with.

Just a word or two about the mutiny at the Nore, and I have done, for
ever I trust, with so shocking a subject. The men here were far more
insolent and overbearing in their demands. The president of the
mutineers--fancy calling a mutineer a president!--was, worse luck, a
Scotsman from Perth, of the name of Parker. He indeed ruled it for a
time with a high hand, and was virtually admiral of the fleet at
Sheerness, up and down the streets of which, carrying red flags, his
fellows marched, in order to secure the sympathy of civilians.

At this time, it will be remembered, Admiral Duncan was blockading the
Texel, hemming in the Dutch fleet so that they might not join the
French. Was it not a terrible thing that with the exception of two
ships--the _Venerable_ (the flagship) and the _Adamant_--his fleet
should desert him, sail across the water and join the scoundrel Parker
at the Nore?

Poor Scotch Duncan! When even the men of the flagship showed signs of
revolting, he drew them around him, and in a voice which seemed almost
choked with rising tears addressed them in words that were at once
simple and touching. His concluding sentences were somewhat as
follows:--

"Often and often, men, it has been my pride with you to look into the
Texel on a foe which dreaded to come out to meet us. But my pride is
humbled now indeed; and no words of mine can express to you the anguish
and sorrow in my heart. To be deserted by my fleet in the presence of
the enemy is a disgrace that is hard, hard to bear, for never could I
have deemed it possible."

That speech settled Jack as far as the flagship was concerned; for
British sailors really have soft, kind hearts. It is as true even to
this hour what Dibdin wrote about Jack as it was in the dashing days of
old:--

    "'Longside of an enemy, boldly and brave,
       He'll with broadside on broadside regale her;
     Yet he'll sigh to the soul o'er that enemy's grave,
       So noble's the mind of a sailor.

    "Let cannons roar loud, burst their sides let the bombs,
       Let the winds a dread hurricane rattle,
     The rough and the pleasant he takes as it comes,
       And laughs at the storm and battle.

    "To rancour unknown, to no passion a slave,
       Nor unmanly, nor mean, nor a railer,
     He's gentle as mercy, as fortitude brave,
       And this is a true British sailor."

President Parker of the "Republic Afloat" formed a cordon across the
mouth of the Thames, and intercepted all traffic. But he did not burn a
long peat stack, to use a Scotticism; for the nation was enraged at him,
and one by one his ships went back to their allegiance. He was seized,
and after a three days' trial was condemned and executed, cool and
intrepid to the very last.

The battle of St. Vincent--by no means a crowning victory--did much to
cheer the drooping hearts of the people of England. It was an earnest of
what was to follow, and probably did more to restrain the crawling demon
Revolution than anything else could have done; for Britain ever loved
her ships and her sailors.

But none knew the state of our country at this time better than Sir John
Jervis, nor how much depended upon the success of our arms at sea. It
was for this reason that he threw himself so thoroughly heart and soul
into the great game of naval warfare, and became the pivot around which
the whole fleet lived and moved.

There were many petty officers, and men too, among the ships who were
fully aware that we were fighting against fearful odds. But a sailor is
so constituted that he never lets care trouble him. Jack Mackenzie was
a very great favourite with his men. He knew the way to their hearts. It
was not his young friend Murray's bedside only that he visited. There
was not a wounded or a sick man in the whole ship who did not see him at
least once a day, and he freely distributed wine, jellies, and many
another dainty from his own mess to comfort and sustain the sick.

Jack spliced the main-brace sometimes too. One Saturday evening he
returned from a very daring and extra-well-carried-out brush with the
enemy's river craft, in which his gallant fellows had cut out a barque
from the very harbour's mouth, without the loss of a man. As soon as he
had refreshed himself somewhat with a bath and change of clothes, he
visited young Murray, whom he found doing well, and hopeful now that he
would live to see his little sweetheart once again. Then he saw the sick
men, after which he gave orders to splice the main-brace.

Walking forward some hours after this, you might have heard such songs
as "Tom Bowling" rolled up from near the forecastle, or Dibdin's
"Saturday Night at Sea."

    "'Twas Saturday night: the twinkling stars
       Shone on the rippling sea;
     No duty called the jovial tars,
       The helm was lashed a-lee.
     The ample can adorned the board:
       Prepared to see it out,
     Each gave the lass that he adored,
       And pushed the can about."

Jack on this particular evening had M'Hearty and Tom Fairlie to dine
with him, and they were still lingering over dessert, when the steward
informed the captain that Jones the boatswain desired to speak to him.

It was an odd request at such a time, but Jones was immediately
admitted. His face was very serious indeed. He glanced uneasily at the
servants, and interpreting the look to mean that he wished privacy,
Captain Mackenzie ordered them to retire.

If Jones was serious, Jack was much more so when he made his statement,
which he did in straightforward British sailor's English.



CHAPTER XVI.

JACK AND THE MUTINEERS.

    "Obedience every work combines,
       Diffuses to each part
     That ardour which the mind refines,
       Expands and mends the heart."
                                DIBDIN.


"It's been a-going on for some little len'th o' time, your honour," said
Jones. "Me and my messmates took little heed o't for a time, thinkin' it
were only Scrivings' bombast, 'cause ye see, sir, he's only a blessed
mouth of a fellow arter all."

"Ha!" interrupted M'Hearty, "that fellow is one of your pressed men,
isn't he?"

"Yes," said Jack; "the ringleader of the smugglers, and a bold, bad
man."

"That's he to a T," said Jones. "Well, they're all in it, the twenty o'
them. I'm no sneak, and I'm no spy, but I thought it was my duty to tell
your honour. They're preaching mutiny, and they're spreading sedition,
and--and"--here Jones lost his temper, and forgot himself so far as to
bring his fist down on the table with a force that made all the glasses
rattle--"I'd hang the blessed lot."

Jones was thanked, told to keep dark, and, after a stiff glass of the
captain's rum, retired. This man had done his duty.

Early next morning, Admiral Sir John was surprised to receive a visit
from Captain Mackenzie.

The latter soon opened fire in true sailor fashion.

"Admiral," he said, "I've come to make an exchange. I want two of your
best men for two of my very bad hats."

The admiral laughingly requested an explanation. "For," he added, "you
certainly seem to me to wish the better half of the bargain."

Jack explained in a very few words. He desired, instead of bringing the
would-be mutineers to trial, to send one or two of them to every ship in
the fleet.

"'Pon honour," said Jervis, "the plan does you credit. I'd have hanged
one or two of them. But this is better--indeed it is. Well, I'll take
your two blackest hats; and I shan't forget to mention your cleverness
when I send home a despatch. Come down to breakfast."

That very day the smugglers were scattered all over the fleet, and peace
once more reigned in the _Tonneraire_.

       *       *       *       *       *

In a few weeks' time the wounded on board Jack's ship were nearly all
well; and he was not sorry when one day he was sent for by the admiral,
and told that he was to proceed to sea. There were many ships, both
Spanish and French, sailing to and fro on the coast carrying despatches
of great importance, because they were intended to enable the enemy to
complete their plans. These he was to chase, and either capture or
destroy as suited him best.

Before he left on this cruise, the men and officers of the _Tonneraire_
were delighted to receive letters from home. Jack took his little packet
with a beating heart, and, retiring to his cabin, gave orders that he
was not to be disturbed until he should again appear.

Ah, no one save a sailor knows the real delight experienced in receiving
letters from home! And here was one in his father's handwriting. Why,
it was dated from Ireland; and that is where the general was stationed,
waiting, as he said, to give a true Highland welcome to the French as
soon as they should land. It said nothing about the lost estate and the
bonnie house that once was their home; but it was bold and hopeful
throughout. The general had heard of all Jack's doings, and was proud of
such a son. He concluded with a fatherly blessing, bidding him never
forget he was a Grant Mackenzie.

Then he opened Flora's letter. Sisterly throughout. She was as happy at
Torquay as she could expect to be, but longed--oh so much--to see her
dear brother once more. Then she went on to talk of old times, and how
happy they would be when they were all together once again. So it
concluded, without one word about Gerty.

He laid the letter down with a sigh. A strange sense of loneliness, of
forsakenness, took possession of his heart. He thought he had forgotten
his false love. At this moment she seemed dearer to him than ever.

He next took slowly up from the table a letter in a strange, ill-spelt,
scrawly hand, and opened it mechanically. But his face brightened as he
began to read. I append a portion of it with a few corrections:--

     "MY DEAR LUV,--Which it is me as misses you. Yes, Master Jack, me
     and missus too, though you promised to marry me when you grew a
     man, and used to give me such sweet kisses. Oh, I wish I had some
     now! I know'd as that was only Jack's little joke. Me a servant
     girl, and you a big, tall, beautiful officer. But, la! the larks as
     we used to 'ave when putting you to bed. It makes me larf now to
     think of 'em; and how you wouldn't go to sleep till I lay down
     beside you and sung you off. Yes, missus misses you, and so do I.
     And poor old Sir Digby has been laid up with the gout; and poor
     dear missus says as how she won't marry him for two years yet to
     come. And old master's content because he says he knows she'll be
     Lady Digby by-and-by. But missus she do look so sad and peaky
     sometimes; only when old Mr. Richards comes she just goes wild with
     joy, and sits on his knee just like old times, and sometimes, poor
     child, goes to sleep with her head on his shoulder. But here comes
     missus, only she mustn't see this letter. No more at present, but
     remains yours till death, with luv and sweet kisses.--MARY."

Love and sweet kisses, indeed! Jack laughed aloud. Then he read Mary's
letter all over again. Then, will it be believed? he kissed it. After
this, can you credit it? he placed it in his bosom. What did Jack mean,
I wonder?

The next letter was a right hearty one, from kind old Mr. Richards.
There was a deal of business in it, and a deal that wasn't; but the
sentence that pleased Jack best was this: "I'm looking after Gerty. I'm
saving her for _you_. Old Keane _may_ sacrifice his daughter to Sir
Digby, but there will be two moons in the sky that day, and another in
the duck-pond. Keep up your heart, boy. I'm laying the prettiest little
trap for Sir Digby ever you saw. Gee-ho! Cheerily does it."

Cheerily did do it. All the gloom that poor Flora's kind letter had left
in Jack's heart was banished now, and he had begun to sing.

He was leaving his room, when he ran foul of Tom Fairlie.

Tom was singing too, and smiling.

Jack pulled him right into his cabin and shut the door.

"What are you all smiles about?" said Jack.

"Why are you all smiles?" said Tom.

"Had a letter from Flora?"

"Heard about Gerty?"

Then something very funny or very joyous seemed to tickle the pair of
them at precisely the same moment, and they laughed aloud till all the
glasses on the swing-table rang out a jingling chorus.

"I say, Tom," said Jack at last, "I feel I can fight the French now."

"Precisely how I feel. Ha! ha! ha!"

"Well, come and dine with me to-night--all alone." And Tom did.



CHAPTER XVII.

IN A FOOL'S PARADISE.

    "The boatie rows, the boatie rows,
       The boatie rows fu' weel;
     And mickle lighter is the boat
       When love bears up the creel."--_Old Song._


In the interests of truth, I have now to record that my hero, Captain
Jack Mackenzie, formed one of the most ridiculous resolutions any young
man could have been guilty of making. It is all very well building
castles in the air--indeed, it is rather a pretty pastime than
otherwise, and may at times be productive of good; but when it comes to
building for one's self, willingly and with wide-open eyes, a whole
paradise--fool's, of course--and quietly taking up one's abode therein,
the absurdity of the speculation must be apparent to every one.

But this is just what our Jack now set about doing. For many a long
month back he had worked and slaved, and fought battles, and sailed his
ship, and did all he could, it must be confessed, to make everybody
around him happy, while a load of sorrow, which felt as big as a bag of
shrapnel or a kedge anchor, lay at his own heart. He now determined to
get rid of this incubus, to leave it, or creep out from under it
somehow. During all these months he had tried, and tried hard, to forget
his lost love Gerty, but all in vain. Trying to forget her made matters
infinitely worse, so now he meant to indulge himself in the sweet belief
that she still was his, still loved him; that there was no such
individual in the world as silly old Sir Digby; and that he, Jack, had
only to go home, if it pleased Heaven to spare him, and claim the dear
girl as his wife.

He certainly did not mean to force himself to think about her, only he
would do nothing to impede the flow of happy thoughts whenever they
showed a tendency to come stealing over his soul. These are his own
words, spoken to himself in the privacy of his state-room. And between
you and me and the binnacle, reader, not to let it go any further, I
believe it was poor Mary's letter, with its "dear luv" and its "sweet
kisses," that was at the bottom of Jack's resolve. For had she not
written, as plain as quill can write, the magical sentence, "Yes, missus
misses you; so do I"? It didn't matter a spoonful of tar about the "so
do I," but there was the "missus misses you." Ah! it was around these
simple, euphonious words that hope hung like a garland of forget-me-not.
Why did missus miss him? Mary wouldn't have said that missus missed him
if missus didn't. So ran Jack's thoughts as he walked up and down the
floor of his cabin. No, Mary wasn't a girl of that sort. Missus missed
him, and there was an end of it. Missus missed him, _ergo_ missus must
sometimes think about him, and upon this belief he meant to hinge his
happiness. Missus must--

"Rat--tat--tat--tat."

"Come in. Ah, Tom, there you are! Glad you've come a little before
dinner is served. Well, we're all ready for sea, I suppose?"

"Yes; as soon as you like to-morrow morning, sir."

"Well, dowse the 'sir,' Tom, else I'll send you away without a morsel of
dinner. We're not on the quarter-deck now, you know. You're Tom, and I'm
just Jack."

A few minutes afterwards, Tom, strolling carelessly towards Jack's
writing-table, picked up a sheet of paper, and to his astonishment read
as follows:--

    "Missus missed thee, so do I,
       Drop the tear and sigh the sigh;
     Yet ne'er let sorrow cloud thy brow--
       She loved thee once, she loves thee now."

"Ha! ha! ha!" laughed Tom aloud.

Jack got as red as a tomato, and rushed to rescue the manuscript.

"Put it down at once, Tom! How dare you?"

But Tom only laughed the more. He read Jack's inspiration from end to
end, in spite of all that Jack could do.

"Well," he said when he had finished, "I knew you could fight a bit, but
this is a revelation. 'Missus missed thee'--ha! ha! ha!"

It was well for Jack and Tom both that the steward and servants entered
at that moment with the dinner. Poetry soon gave place to soup, and
sentiment fled on the appearance of the roast-beef.

But when dessert was placed upon the table, and the servants had gone,
Jack, feeling bound to open his heart to somebody, told Tom about the
fool's paradise to which he meant to flit from Castle Despair, in which
he had dwelt so long.

Tom was a thoroughly practical kind of a young fellow, and now he shook
his head consideringly.

"M--m--m, well," he said, "the notion isn't half a bad one, you know,
perhaps. But, Jack, doesn't it savour somewhat of the reckless? Scotsmen
are all reckless, I know, especially, I believe, the Grant Mackenzies;
and your idea may be good, but--a--"

"Well, well, Tom, out with it, man. What _are_ you humming and hawing
about?"

"Why, it's like this, you see--and, mind, I speak to you as a
brother--it may be very pleasant, say, for a few friends met together to
take an extra glass of wine, and spend a happy evening, but shouldn't
they think of their heads in the morning?"

"I _have_ thought of my head in the morning, Tom; I _have_ thought of
the awakening. I do know that some day I shall see an announcement in
the _Times_ of the marriage of Sir Digby Auld and--heigh-ho! Gerty; that
then I shall have to leave my pretty paradise, and that the flaming
sword of honour will forbid my ever entering there again. But till then,
Tom, till then. Bother it all, man, you wouldn't have a fellow make
himself miserable all his life, simply because he knows he has got to go
to Davy Jones' locker at the finish?"

"Oh no," said Tom, gravely.

"Well, then, brother mine, I mean to live in my fool's paradise as long
as ever I can, and when the end comes I'll flit."

"Tom," he continued, after a pause of about a minute, "on board the old
_Ocean Pride_ I once told you the story of my love for Gerty; and I told
you also all I knew about dear father's difficulties. We both know now
how complete daddy's financial ruin is, but I have never yet told you
the true story of Gerty's engagement to Sir Digby Auld. I'll tell you
now, and you won't think so hard of the poor girl when I have finished."

Jack Mackenzie spoke for fully a quarter of an hour without
intermission, ending with these words: "So you see, brother, the dear
girl is positively immolating herself on the altar of filial love, and
what she considers duty. She loves the old man Keane surely more dearly
than daughter has any right to love a father; and her main ambition and
object in life is to see the lonely man happy and respected in his old
age. So, dear Tom, don't bid me leave my fool's paradise yet a while.
You have _your_ happiness; I--"

He paused, and sighed a weary kind of sigh.

Tom was touched to the very bottom of his heart. He stretched his arm
across the walnuts and grasped his friend's hand.

"Poor Jack!" he said. "Live in your paradise and be happy. Would that I
could give you hopes that your lease will be a very long one."

"Besides," continued Jack, excusing himself a little more, "with a light
heart I shall be able to drub the French more cheerfully."

Tom's eyes sparkled.

"Ah yes!" he said; "and for the very same reason I too feel in the
finest of form for drubbing the French."

"And we've had no single-ship action with the Dons yet."

"Their time is coming."

"Yes, their time is coming. A man never swings a sword half so well, nor
sails and fights a ship so well, as when he is in love and happy:

    'For mickle lighter is the boat
       When love bears up the creel.'"



CHAPTER XVIII.

"WOULD HE EVER COME AGAIN?"

    "A sailor's life's the life for me,
     He takes his duty merrily;
     If bullets whistle, Jack can sing,
     Still faithful to his friend and king."
                                    DIBDIN.


Jack was right about love and "the creel," or rather, I should say, the
old song is right,--

      "Mickle lighter is the boat
    When love bears up the creel."

For the next three months the swift _Tonneraire_ was here, there, and
everywhere--except in England. She cruised much farther south, and
chiefly along the coast of France, and seldom put into harbour except to
cut out some merchantman, snugly ensconced, perhaps, under the guns of a
fort, and deeming herself in a very safe position. It was,
unfortunately for her, the feeling of security that proved her ruin.

Three or four several times did the _Tonneraire_ thus prove herself a
crack ship. A crack ship with a crack crew and officers, remember; for
the best of ships is but a drone unless well managed. Not even a drone,
indeed; for a drone is a most duty-full bee, and a most respectable
member of the apiarian republic. There is a vast deal of very
indifferent music in the very best of fiddles, and I feel quite
convinced that had some less active officer commanded even the
_Tonneraire_, he would have had little to show at the end of his cruise.

In his daring cutting-out expeditions Jack had been invariably
successful. First and foremost he chased the vessel, and failing to
overhaul her, he bore away seawards again, as if he had given up all
hope, she perhaps taking refuge under the guns of a fort. But although
he might sail out of sight of land, soon as the shades of evening began
to fall the _Tonneraire_ came round. Then all depended on cleverness and
pluck.

The _Ferdinand_ was a gun-brig that, on the morning of the 12th of June
'97, had saucily fired at the _Tonneraire_, then shown her a clean pair
of heels. She was near to the port of T----, so could afford to be
insolent. Jack sent a fifty-six pound shot tearing through her rigging,
without doing much damage, on which the _Ferdinand_ fired again from her
stern. Only a puff of white smoke, only a ten-pound shot, with a sound
withal like that of a boy's pop-gun. But it was enough. Jack's Highland
blood was up; and he said to M'Hearty, who was near him on the poop,
"I'll have her, if only for her insolence."

M'Hearty laughed. It was not polite; but he couldn't help it. For the
doctor and captain of the _Tonneraire_ were the dearest friends.

"You've been much livelier and happier within this last month or two,"
said M'Hearty. "Tell me, sir, are you in love?"

"What would you do if I were?"

"Nothing, Captain Jack. I've got pills to cure melancholy; but for love,
well, I never had it myself, so I shouldn't know what to do. But--may
you be happy."

It was very dark that night when the _Tonneraire_ stole silently back.
She hauled her main-yard aback, and five armed boats, under command of
Tom, were despatched to cut the saucy Frenchman out. The oars were
muffled, and there was not a glimmer of light permitted to shine
anywhere about the ship.

The captain of marines and Murray both went in different boats, and on
this occasion M'Hearty himself. The great fellow said he wanted to
stretch his legs and swing his arms about a bit.

"Don't get shot, anyhow, doctor," said Jack.

"My clear Captain Mackenzie, I'm positively bulletproof."

Young Murray was in high glee. He put on white gloves for the occasion.
M'Hearty left his sword on board, and his coat and hat, and positively
entered the boat bareheaded, in his shirt sleeves, and armed with a
cutlass.

"Nobody will see me," he said to Jack.

"I'll be bound they'll feel you," laughed the captain of marines.

This was as pretty a cutting-out action as ever I have heard of.

Feeling sure of their safety, the Frenchmen were careless in their
watch. The officers were wining and playing cards down below, when
suddenly there was a shout, and a rattle and bump and rush. Hardly had
the bugle, that awakened echoes from the walls of the fort, sung out to
summon the crew to repel boarders, ere our fine fellows were on board.
Stern was the resistance made, however, to the British tars. Big
M'Hearty had boarded on the port-bow, and came flailing away aft. He
knew nothing of sword-exercise, but simply grasped the cutlass, a huge
one, by both hands, and hammered away in old Highland fashion. But a
Frenchman fell at every blow.

Murray fought like a little lion, but was knocked under a gun, and lay
like a dead thing till all the fight was over, and long after.

Yes, they were victorious.

"Better go back to your cards and wine," shouted M'Hearty, as he drove
the last officer down below.

Meanwhile, will it be believed, the fort opened fire on their own brig.

Tom caused every light at once to be extinguished. Then sail was set,
and though the brig was struck over and over with round shot, again they
managed to cut her out. As she got fairly under way, our fellows
returned a cheer of defiance to the fort, and just one gun was fired by
way of farewell.

The capture had not been without mishap. Two of our men were killed
outright, and about ten, including Murray, were wounded.

At first it was thought the sprightly young officer was dead, but soon
after being carried on board his own ship, he opened his eyes, stared
wildly around him for a few moments, then sank again into insensibility.
He had been merely stunned.

This made the third time Murray had come to grief in action.

"It was always the same," he said, "even when I was a little fellow; I
never could fight without getting a bad black eye. Just my luck."

The brig was manned by a prize crew, half the Froggies, as our Jacks
carelessly called them, being taken on board the man-o'-war. These were
started for England a day or two afterwards, in a gun-brig of ours which
was fallen in with homeward bound.

The _Ferdinand_ was sent home, a midshipman being in charge as captain,
and a happy lad was he. But long before he reached England this same
gun-brig was recaptured by the French, and this same middy, prize crew
and all, made prisoners. He was not so happy then! only this is the
fortune of war.

Jack Mackenzie used to boast that the _Tonneraire_ carried the smartest
lot of midshipmen that the service could boast of. They were indeed a
fine lot, not midship_mites_ but midship_men_; for some indeed had
been, for acts of valour, promoted from gunners or boatswains.

It needed all their strength and courage to fight the battle I shall now
briefly describe.

Everything, it is said, is fair in love and war. I do not know about the
love, but I am certain about the war. It is the aim and object of any
one nation carrying on war with another, not only to destroy the
war-ships of the enemy, but to sink and burn her vessels of commerce
wherever found. In this memorable cruise of Jack Mackenzie's, then, he
was ever on the outlook for a sail or sails. The _Tonneraire_ was as
fleet as the wind. If, then, a man-o'-war, French or Spanish, was fallen
in with, unless the odds seemed out of all proportion against him, Jack
fought her. If she was too big he performed a strategic retreat; well,
in plainer language, he ran away.

But he used to send boats in and around the numerous islands on the
coast of France to reconnoitre, and frequently they found something
lying at anchor worth attacking. When, one forenoon, Tom Fairlie
returned and reported a whole convoy of merchantmen lying at anchor
under the protection of a frigate and the forts between the island of
N---- and the mainland, Jack at once held a council of war, and
it was resolved to attack after nightfall. On this occasion all the
boats save one were needed, and the little expedition consisted of seven
officers, over one hundred Seamen, and fifty marines.

As usual, the boarding took place after dark. I need not describe the
fight; it was fierce, brief, and terrible, but finally the frigate was
captured.

At this time very little wind was blowing, and a half-moon in the sky
shed a sad but uncertain light upon the blood-slippery decks.

And now a council of war was held to consider what had best be done. The
destruction of the fleet of fifteen merchantmen, who as the tide was
running out had grounded in shallow water, was imperative. It was
determined, therefore, to leave a sufficient force of men on board the
captured vessel, in case of an attempt on the part of the foe to regain
their ship, and to proceed forthwith to burn the fleet. Tom Fairlie left
four of his sturdiest mids and eighty men on board the frigate, and then
left her. In less than half-an-hour every one of the merchantmen was
well a-lit, the crews having already escaped in their boats.

It was a strange and appalling sight. The flames were red and lurid, the
green hills, the dark rocks, and the sands were lit up with a brilliancy
as of noonday, while the rolling clouds of smoke, laden as thickly with
sparks as the sky in a snowstorm, were carried far away southwards and
seaward. But the light was dazzling, confusing; and before the bold
sailors knew which way to steer, they ran aground. The tide, in ten
minutes' time, left them high and dry.

Guns from the forts, too, began to roar out; and to add to the terror of
the situation, a company of soldiers was drawn up on the beach, and
Tom's men began to fall, uncertain though their fire was.

It was a trying situation; but Tom Fairlie was as cool as an old
general. He descried that troops of marines, hundreds in fact, were
being poured into the frigate, and that she seemed already recaptured.
He resolved, therefore, to desert his boats and cross the bay, where lay
a craft which could contain all his men.

This was done at extraordinary hazard, Tom's men, though bearing their
wounded with them, keeping up a running fire till the craft was reached.
Luckily the soldiers had retired, but it took his men half-an-hour to
get the little schooner into deep water.

It was a sad though heroic story that Tom Fairlie had to tell when in
the gray dawn of that summer's morning he rejoined his ship.

Jack now made all sail southwards, to report proceedings to his admiral.

He was welcomed most kindly; and although he half expected a reprimand
for losing so many boats and so many men, he received nothing but praise
for his gallantry, and a special despatch was sent home descriptive of
the whole cruise of the _Tonneraire_.

"We cannot expect to fight without losses," said the good admiral
warmly; "and I am always pleased when my officers do their duty, as you
and your brave associates have done yours."

Jack's face glowed with shy pride. It was so delightful to be thus
talked to that his eyes filled with tears.

The _Tonneraire_ got more boats, and was soon again on the war-path; but
somehow everybody in the mess, and even the sailors forward, sadly
missed the merry, laughing face of young Murray, for the boy was among
the captured.

Would he ever come again?



CHAPTER XIX.

THE BATTLE OF CAMPERDOWN.

    "The flag of Britannia, the flag of the brave,
     Triumphant it floateth on land and o'er wave,
     And proudly it braveth the battle and blast,
     For when tattered with shot it is nailed to the mast."
                                             _Old Song._


It was early on the morning of one of those bright and bracing days in
the beginning of October, when summer seems to return as if to say
good-bye before giving place to winter with its wild winds, its stormy
seas, its driving mist and sleet. The _Tonneraire_ had sailed in towards
Havre on the previous evening. To put it in plain English, she was on
the prowl. Jack had received word from a fisherman that lying at anchor
was a very large store-ship belonging to the French, and he meant to cut
her out or destroy her. But either the fisherman had deceived him or
the vessel had sailed. He found no vessel that he could make a prize of,
nor any foeman worthy of his steel.

Having been up half the night, Jack Mackenzie was tired, and had lain
down to sleep. The ship was under easy sail, and going to the north and
west, right before the wind. Jack was dreaming about his old home of
Grantley Hall. He was walking in the garden on a bright moonlight night
with his sister and Gerty; but the sister had gone on, up the broad
green walk, while the other two stopped beside the old dial-stone, the
figures on which were quite overgrown with green moss and gray
pink-tipped lichens.

"See, see, Gerty," he was saying, as he hurriedly cleared the stone,
"the old time appears again, the dear old days have come once more. The
figures were always there though we could not see them. Our old love,
Gerty, like the figures in the dial, has been obscured, but never, never
lost." A bonnie blush had stolen over her face, and her long eyelashes
swept her cheeks, as she glanced downwards at a bouquet of blue flowers
Jack had given her. She was about to reply, when sharp as a pistol-shot
on the quiet morning air rang out the voice of the outlook aloft,--

"Sail ahead, sir; right away on the starboard bow!"

Gerty with her flowers of blue, Gerty with the bonnie blush on her cheek
and the love-light in her eye, Grantley Hall, green grassy walks,
dial-stone, and all vanished in a hand-clap, and next moment Jack was
hurriedly dressing to go on deck.

She was a French sloop of war. Disappointed at his want of success on
the previous night, Jack announced to Tom Fairlie his generous intention
of blowing her sky-high.

So all sail was crowded in chase.

The sloop bore away before the wind. She knew, perhaps, her best course
for safety and escape.

It was very tantalizing but very exciting withal. She might have been a
phantom ship, so steadily did she crack on all day long, Jack never
getting a knot nearer, nor she a knot farther off. Stun'-sails were set
and carried away, all was done that could be done; but when at last the
crimson sun sank in a pink and purple haze, all on board could see that
the sloop had won the race.

But strange things happen, and but for this sloop Jack would never have
had the honour of being at the battle of Camperdown. They had sailed
very far north; and about five bells in the morning watch, while it was
still dark, the _Tonneraire_ found herself surrounded with mighty
men-of-war. Now, if these were Frenchmen, the days and years of the
swift _Tonneraire_ were assuredly numbered. But they were not. They were
the ships of Britannia, who was even then ruling the sea--the fleet of
bold Scotch Duncan, who had been refitting at Yarmouth, when he had
heard that the great Dutch fleet of De Winter had at last crawled out of
the Texel, and was on its way south to effect a junction with the
French, then--Heaven help Britannia!

"Going to join the French fleet De Winter is, is he?" Scotch Duncan said
when he heard the news. Duncan never said a bad word, but on this
memorable occasion he hitched up his Scotch breeks and added, "I'll be
dashed if he does. Make the signal 'Up anchor!'" Having issued this
order, he coolly entered his state-room to lock his drawers and put away
his papers and jewellery, for he knew the ship would be knocked about a
bit. As he did so he whistled "Johnnie Cope."

And now the _Tonneraire_ was hailed by the flagship, and told to fall in
with the fleet.

Tom Fairlie rubbed his hands with delight, M'Hearty chuckled, and old
Simmons rumbled out some remark to the effect that he knew Duncan well,
and that "you youngsters" (that was Tom and Jack) "will soon have your
fill of honour and glory."

So they did.

And braver battle than Camperdown was never fought. Not only did our
fellows exhibit the greatest of courage, but gallant De Winter as well.

The Dutch had about twenty ships, and we nineteen in all. Since the
suppression of the mutiny at the Nore, Duncan had regained all his
fleet; and the men seemed determined to wipe out the stain that had
blackened their characters. And right well they succeeded.

You must go to history for a complete account of the battle. Suffice it
for me to say that on coming up with the enemy's fleet on the 11th of
October, Duncan broke right through it and got inshore. De Winter could
not have got away had he wanted to ever so much. The great battle was
fought dangerously near to the coast indeed, for here were shoals and
sands that were quite unknown to our fleet. The beach was lined with
spectators, who must have been appalled at this terrible conflict of
giants.

The _Tonneraire_ was splendidly handled. Old Simmons himself took the
wheel, and carried her grandly alongside a Dutchman nearly double her
size, so close that the guns touched, and seemed to belch fire and
destruction down each other's iron throats. But Jack had no intention of
stopping there to be blown out of the water by the Dutchman's
broadsides.

"Away, boarders!" It was Jack's own brave voice sounding through the
trumpet, high over the din of battle.

Then, ah then! a scene ensued that it may be just as well not to
describe too graphically. Our marines and blue-jackets boarded pell-mell
and together, and amid the roar of cannon from other ships, the
incessant rattle of musketry from the tops, the hand-to-hand fight raged
on, with shouts and groans and shrieks of execration. Hitherto no
wounded man had been borne below to the cockpit, so that M'Hearty was
idle as yet. He was on the rigging with the captain, from which they had
a bird's-eye view of the battle.

"Look, sir, look, the captain of marines has fallen. Oh, I can't stand
this!"

Next moment he had leaped below. Off went his coat and waistcoat and
hat. He seized a cutlass, and in a minute more was on the Dutchman's
deck, flailing away like a perfect Wallace Redivivus. Many a head he
broke, for he literally showered his blows like wintry rain.

He saved the marine captain's life, although that sailor-soldier was
severely wounded. It is almost unnecessary to say that, under the
circumstances, Captain Jack Mackenzie forgave the gallant doctor for
leaving his ship without permission.

But the toughest fight of all raged around Duncan's flagship, the
_Venerable_, when she tackled that of the Dutch admiral De
Winter--namely, the _Vreyheid_. Just as in days of long, long ago the
chiefs of opposing armies used to delight to single each other out and
fight hand-to-hand, so did bold Duncan keep his eye on the Dutchman, and
as soon as the battle had commenced he went straight for her. As he bore
down towards her, however, the _States-General_ presented a target that
he could not resist, for she was stern on to the _Venerable_. Murderous
indeed was the broadside Duncan poured into her, raking her from aft to
fore. This vessel soon after left the battle ranks, with a loss of over
two hundred and fifty killed and wounded.

 [Illustration: "_Bold Jack Crawford nailed the colours to the mast._"
                Page 169.]

And now the great tulzie commenced in awful earnest, for Duncan ranged
himself up against the _Vreyheid_ to the lee, while to windward of
her was the _Ardent_. But three mighty Dutchmen came down hand-over-hand
to the defence of their brave admiral's ship. So fearful was the fire of
these latter that Duncan's ship would speedily have been placed _hors de
combat_, had not others come to his rescue and restored the balance. But
nothing could withstand the fury of Duncan's onslaught; and at last,
with every officer dead or wounded, the brave Dutch admiral hauled down
his flag. Twice during the terrible combat had Admiral Duncan's flag
been shot away. It was then that bold Jack Crawford, whose name
indicates his Scottish origin, wrapped the colours round his waist, and
providing himself with nails and a hammer, climbed nearly to the
main-truck and nailed the ensign to the mast.

Duncan received De Winter's sword, and soon after the battle was over
and the victory ours. A glorious day and a glorious victory, but, ah!
how dearly bought. It gives us some faint notion of the pluck and go of
our navy in those fighting days of old, to learn that the _Ardent_ had
her captain and forty officers and men slain outright, and no less than
one hundred and seven wounded.

The scene in the cockpit during a fight like this is one that genius
alone could graphically depict. The centre-ground of the picture is the
big table, around which the surgeons are at work, stripped to their
shirts, their faces stained, their hands and garments dripping gore. The
whole place is filled with stifling smoke, through which the glimmering
lights are but faintly seen; but all around are ranged the wounded, the
gashed, the bleeding, awaiting their turn on the terrible table. You can
hear them if you cannot see them--hear them groaning, sometimes even
shrieking, in their agony; and the mournful call for "Water! water!" is
heard in every lull of the fight or momentary cessation of cannon's
roar. And bending low as they move among them are the stewards and
idlers of the ship, serving out the coveted draught. But down the
blood-slippery companion-ladder come the bearers incessantly, carrying
as gently as a Jack can their sorely-stricken messmates. Verily a sad
scene! On deck war is witnessed in all its pomp and its panoply, on deck
is honour and glory; the dark side is seen in the cockpit--the sorrow,
the despair, the hopelessness, the agony, the death.



CHAPTER XX.

NELSON AND THE NILE.

    "With one of his precious limbs shot away,
       Bold Nelson knowed well how to trick 'em;
     So, as for the French, 'tis as much as to say,
       We can tie up one hand, and then lick 'em."
                                       DIBDIN.


Things in England began to look up. Those who preached revolution were
forced to hide their heads with shame after the great battle of
Camperdown. For this fight had completely restored confidence in our
country's powers, and for the time being the fears of invasion had fled
far away.

In many a lordly hall over all the land the feast was laid, on many a
lofty hill the bonfires blazed; it was indeed a season of great
rejoicing.

In one of the window recesses of Mr. Keane's somewhat lonesome and
dreary suburban mansion, as the shadows of evening fell on the almost
leafless elms around the house, sat Gerty. She was looking out into the
gathering night, looking out at the slowly-falling leaves; for though a
book lay in her lap, it was almost too dark to read. By her side sat a
beautiful deer-hound, with his muzzle leaning on her knee, and gazing up
into her face with his brown earnest eyes, as if he knew there was
sorrow at her heart.

He--Jack--had given her that dog as a puppy, and no power on earth could
make her part with him. As she turned her eyes from the window, she
noted his speaking look, and as she bent to caress him, a tear fell on
his rough gray neck.

Presently there was a knock at the door, and in rushed Mary the maid.

Mary seemed about half daft. She was waving aloft a copy of the _Times_,
and scarce could speak for excitement. But she managed to point to a
certain column.

"What is it, Mary? I cannot see."

"Which it's our boy Jack as is mentioned for conspeakyewous bravery.
Aren't you glad and proud?"

"Glad and proud? O Mary! silly child. And I am to be the bride of
another. Nay, father insists that I shall give Sir Digby his answer
to-night at the ball."

"An' I should do it, missus; that I should. I'd put it in fine polite
English, but I'd put it straight, all the same. When he knelt before
me,--'Jump up, old Granger,' I should say. 'Right about face. Shoulder
hip. Quick march. I loves another, and I cannot marry thee.'"

"O Mary," said Gerty, smiling in spite of herself, "how you talk! Hush,
child; not another word. I'm bound to make my father happy, and--I
will."

       *       *       *       *       *

The ball to which Gerty and her father were going that evening was Sir
Digby's. This gentleman possessed both a town and a country house; but
if the truth must be told, he was at present absolutely living on his
future prospects.

"Well," he told one of his chief cronies that evening before the arrival
of the guests, "when my brother dies--and he is a terribly old buffer--I
shall drop into a nice thing. But it is just like my confounded luck
that he should linger so long. And to tell you the truth, D'Orsay, I'm a
bit pinched, and some of the Jews are pressing."

"Why don't you marry?"

"Well, I'm going to. Ah! she's a sweet young thing, Miss Keane; and
though the father is a skinflint, he's wealthy, and I'll make him settle
a bit before I give my ancient name away. Wager on that."

"Hold hard, Digby; I wouldn't be your friend if I didn't tell you."

"Didn't tell me what?"

"Why, man, haven't you heard? The firm of Griffin, Keane, and Co. is
ruined. 'Pon honour. South Sea biz, or something. Had it from a friend,
who had it from one of the firm. It's a secret, mind. But it is true."

"Good heavens, D'Orsay, you do not tell me so? Then I too am ruined!"

"What! you haven't proposed--you're not tied?"

"Nay, nay; all but. That is nothing, D'Orsay--nothing; but on the
strength of this marriage I have borrowed thousands. Fleet prison is my
fate if what you say is true."

"Look here, Digby," said D'Orsay, after a pause, "you are a man of the
world, like myself. Now if I were you, I should transfer my affections.
See?"

"In which quarter?"

"Why, there is Miss Gordon; a trifle old, to be sure, but positively
rolling in wealth, and rolling her eyes whenever she sees you."

Sir Digby muttered something about a bag of broken bottles, but D'Orsay
went on,--

"I'd marry _her_; 'pon honour I should."

"Think of life with that old hag."

"Think of life in the Fleet, my friend."

Sir Digby winced, and for a time made no reply.

"D'Orsay," he said at last, "I am a man, and, I trust, a gentleman. I'd
prefer to marry Gerty even--even--"

"If she were a beggar. Bravo, Digby!" And D'Orsay laughed in the way men
of the world do laugh.

"I didn't say that. I--I--'pon my soul, D'Orsay, I do not know what to
do."

       *       *       *       *       *

Miss Gordon was the belle of that ball, as far at least as dress and
jewellery were concerned. She came of a noble family, too, and gave
herself all the airs common in those days to ladies of title--hauteur,
dignity, and condescension by turns. But towards Sir Digby she was as
soft and sweet as a three-month-old kitten.

If Sir Digby Auld had meant to propose to sweet Gerty Keane that night,
he never had a chance, for neither she nor her father appeared. It was
reported that he had had a fit. But this was not so. After he was
dressed, however, and the carriage waiting, he received a letter. He no
sooner read it than it dropped from his hands on the floor, and he
leaned back in his chair with his face to his hands.

Gerty was by his side in a moment.

"O father, are you ill?" she cried. "Shall I summon assistance?"

He recovered himself at once. "Nay, nay," he said; "only grief for the
death of an old friend." He smoothed her hair as he replied. "Gerty, we
will not go out to-night."

But the letter he picked off the floor and carefully put away in his
pocket-book.

       *       *       *       *       *

A whole half-year passed away without any events transpiring that much
concern our narrative. Jack Mackenzie was still on the war-path, playing
havoc with the commerce of France and Spain. Indeed he had constituted
himself a kind of terror of the seas. His adventures were not only most
daring, but carried out with a coolness that proved they were guided by
a master mind. Indeed Jack Mackenzie and all his officers knew now to a
very nicety what might be done with the swift _Tonneraire_, and what
could not. Her bold young captain did not mean to be either captured or
sunk, and he was wise enough to run away whenever he found himself
overmatched. But this was not very often.

One surprise, during this time, Jack and his officers had received, and
it was a very happy one. While lying at anchor with Lord St. Vincent's
ships, one day a boat pulled off from the flagship, and there leaped
therefrom and came swiftly up the ladder--who but young Murray himself.
He saluted the quarter-deck, and he saluted Jack as he reported himself,
smiling all over like the happy boy he was.

"I've come on board to join, sir. Isn't it jolly, just? And I'm promoted
to a lieutenancy."

M'Hearty, Simmons, and every soul in the mess were most pleased to see
him, and that evening Murray was the hero of the hour; and a very long
and strange story he had to tell of his imprisonment, his harsh
treatment, and his making love to the prison-governor's daughter,
through whose cleverness he at last managed to escape, dressed as a
_grisette_.

He kept his messmates laughing till long after seven bells in the first
watch; and it must be said that not this night only, but every other
night, Murray infused into the mess a joy and jollity to which it had
been all winter a stranger.

       *       *       *       *       *

Meanwhile a greater hero than Jack Mackenzie must hold the stage for a
brief spell--namely, Nelson himself. Napoleon Bonaparte, after lying
awake for a night or two, gave birth to a grand idea. Hyder Ali, in the
south of India, hated the British as one hates a viper, and gladly would
have crushed our power under his heel. But he needed help. It occurred
to Bonaparte to aid him, and so oust us from our Indian Empire, which
was then being quickly built up. It was a pretty idea, and well carried
out at the commencement; for Bonny, as our sailors called him, managed
to sail from France with thirty thousand veteran, well-tried troops; and
having the good luck to elude our fleet, he called at Malta, which he
quickly brought to terms, then made straight for Egypt. Here he landed
from his fleet, which I believe had orders to return, but did not.

With such men as those old troops of Napoleon's the conquest of Egypt
and the Mamelukes was but a picnic, and all very pleasant for Bonny and
his merry men, though sad enough for the country on which these human
locusts had alighted. Cairo fell, and the great warrior now set himself
to rebuild the constitution of the country and create a native army.

Lord St. Vincent sent the brave one-eyed, one-armed Nelson with a fleet
to destroy the French expedition. That he quickly would have done. He
speedily would have cooked his hare, but he had to catch it first. Where
ever was the French fleet? No one could tell him, and his adventures in
search of it would fill a goodly volume. It reads like one long
entrancing romance.

Jack Mackenzie, in his _Tonneraire_--the real name of the ship I am
bound not to mention--joined this fleet, and thus was present at the
great battle of the Nile.

Poor Nelson was almost worn out with anxiety and watching; but when he
arrived at Aboukir Bay and found the foe, all his courage and all his
calmness returned, and although the sun was slowly sinking in the west,
our Nelson resolved not to wait an hour even, but attack the enemy there
and then.



CHAPTER XXI.

WILLIE DIED A HERO'S DEATH.

    "Then, traveller, one kind drop bestow,
      'Twere graceful pity, nobly brave;
     Nought ever taught the heart to glow
       Like the tear that bedews a soldier's grave."
                                         DIBDIN.


I cannot help thinking that if glory is to be measured by pluck and
skill combined, the battle of the Nile was even a more glorious fight
than that of Trafalgar. The former battle required more physical
exertion from the men individually, and therefore was a greater strain
upon their courage. How? you may ask. I will tell you; and although my
view of the matter may savour of the reasoning of the medico, still I
think you will admit I have common-sense on my side. Besides, I am a
sailor-surgeon; I have seen our brave blue-jackets working, and fighting
too, under various conditions, so it cannot be said I speak altogether
without experience. Well, the battle of Aboukir Bay or the Nile began in
the evening, when the men were more or less jaded or tired. They had,
moreover, just come off a weary voyage or cruise, and a night's good
quiet sleep would have made a wonderful difference to them both in
physique and _morale_. Trafalgar was fought by day, beginning in the
forenoon. Aboukir was contested in the hottest season of the year;
Trafalgar in the cool--namely, toward the end of October. Therefore, I
say, all the more honour and glory to our brave fellows; and may we
fight as well and as fortunately during the next great naval war, which
cannot now be far away.

I never can read or even think about that long hide-and-seek cruise of
Nelson's in the Mediterranean, in search of the French expedition,
without a feeling of disappointment. Why, oh why was it ordained that he
should not catch Napoleon with his fleet and his army at sea? Could he
have but sent the firebrand to the bottom of the salt ocean, what
conflagrations Europe would have been spared, what shedding of blood,
what hopeless sorrow and bitter tears!

But there! I am keeping the fleets waiting. For his part, Brueys, the
French admiral, would have preferred to wait. "He means to attack," he
said to one of his captains, referring to Nelson, "but he cannot be mad
enough to attack to-night."

But Nelson _was_ mad enough. He was burning to give it to the French,
and give it to them hot, for all the trouble and anxiety they had cost
him. He was as eager as a wild cat to spring at the throat of his foe.
Another night of waiting might have killed him. No, no, he cannot, will
not wait. "Make the signal for general action, and trust to Heaven and
the justice of our cause!"

Along the bay lay the great French fleet, with shoal water behind them,
supported by gunboats and bomb-vessels, the ships moored one hundred and
sixty yards from each other, and with stream cables so that they could
spring their broadsides on their enemy.

And their line extended for a mile and a half.

Had Brueys thought that Nelson would attack that night, he would have
got under way, and thus been free either to manoeuvre or show his
heels. He did not know our Nelson. Nor could he have believed that the
great British admiral would have done so doughty and daring a deed as to
get round behind him, so to speak, betwixt the shore and his fleet,
despite the sands and shoals. But Nelson did with a portion of his
fleet, and each war-ship took up position with all the precision of
couples in a contra-dance. Oh, it was beautiful! but when the battle
fairly began, and tongues of fire and clouds of rolling smoke leaped and
curled from the great guns, lighting up the dusk and gloom of gathering
night, while echoes reverberated from shore to shore, oh, then this
thunderstorm of war was very grand and terrible!

To describe the battle in detail, and all the heroic actions that took
place that night, would take a volume in itself. But it is all history,
and probably the reader knows every bit of it as well as, if not better
than, I myself do. We must honour the French, though, for this fight.
They fought well and bravely, and you know the gallant Brueys died on
his own quarter-deck, refusing to be carried below. He was a hero. So we
might say was the captain of the _Sérieuse_ frigate, who had the cheek
to fire into the great _Orion_ (Sir James Saumerez) as she was sweeping
past. It was like a collie dog attacking a mastiff. Saumerez couldn't
stand it. He stayed long enough literally to blow the frigate out of the
water or on to a shoal, where she was wrecked. The _Orion_ then went
quietly on and engaged a foeman worthy of her steel. It was plucky of
the _Bellerophon_--the old Billy Ruffian, as sailors called her--of
seventy-four guns, to attack the great _Orient_ of one hundred and
twenty, and of the _Majestic_ to range alongside the mighty _Tonnant_
and coolly say, "It's you and I, isn't it?" Then one can't help feeling
sorry for poor Trowbridge in the _Culloden_, because he ran ashore, and
had to remain a mere spectator while burning to have a finger in the
fearful pie.

But the two events of this memorable battle which I daresay dwell
longest in the minds of the young reader are the wounding of Nelson, who
was carried below, his brow gashed so terribly that the skin in a flap
hung over his eyes, despite which, you will remember, he bravely refused
to have his wound dressed until his turn came; and the blowing up of the
great ship _Orient_ with her bold Captain Casabianca and his poor boy,
who refused to be taken off or give up his duty without his father's
orders.

There are those who would rob us of this romantic story. I have no
patience with such gray-souled sinners. There are people in this world
who cannot endure romance and beauty; people who would paint the sky a
dingy brown if they could, and smudge the glory of the summer sunsets. I
do not love such people, and I hope you don't, reader. I verily believe
their blood is green and sour, and that they do not see this lovely
world of ours as you and I do, through rose-tinted glasses, but that to
them it must appear an ugly olive green, as it would to us if we gazed
upon it through a piece of bottle glass. No; we shall keep the brave boy
of the _Orient_, and still read Mrs. Hemans' delightful and spirited
verses:--

    "The boy stood on the burning deck,
       Whence all but he had fled;
     The flame, that lit the battle's wreck,
       Shone round him--o'er the dead.

    "The flames rolled on--he would not go
       Without his father's word;--
     That father, faint in death below,
       His voice no longer heard.

    "There came a burst of thunder sound,--
       The boy!--oh, where was he?
     Ask of the winds, that far around
       With fragments strewed the sea,--

    "With mast, and helm, and pennon fair,
       That well had borne their part!
     But the noblest thing that perished there
       Was that young faithful heart!"

       *       *       *       *       *

The battle is past and gone, a whole month has elapsed since then, and
the swift _Tonneraire_ is homeward bound with despatches. Many were
killed and wounded, among others good old Simmons, the master, who fell
at Jack's side on the deck of a French man-o'-war. He would never
grumble again; his deep bass, honest voice would be heard no more. There
was hardly a dry eye in the ship when the kindly old man's hammock was
dropped overboard in Aboukir Bay.

Yes, the _Tonneraire_ was homeward bound at last, after an absence of
two busy and eventful years. But the saddest, probably, of all her
adventures had yet to come. M'Hearty, Tom Fairlie, and young Murray were
in the captain's cabin one evening towards sunset. Murray was
particularly bright and pleasant to-night, and his laughing face and
merry, saucy blue eyes did every one good to behold.

Suddenly there is a cry on deck, "Sail ahead!" and next minute the drum
is beating to quarters. The _Tonneraire_ has been working against a head
wind, and now down upon her, like some monster sea-bird with wings
outspread, sweeps a huge French ship of war. The battle will be very
one-sided, but Jack will dare it. Already it is getting dusk; he must
try to cripple the monster. He manages to rake her, and a broadside of
iron hail is poured through her stern. He rakes her a second time, and
this time down thunders a mast. Well would it have been for Jack and
the _Tonneraire_ if he had now put his ship before the wind. But no, he
still fights on and on, and suffers terribly; and just as the shades of
night deepen into blackness, he manages to hoist enough sail to stagger
away, and the Frenchman is too sorely stricken to follow.

Very early next morning, before the stars had quite faded in the west,
or the sun had shot high his rays to gild the herald clouds, M'Hearty,
looking careworn, unkempt, and weary--for he had never been to
bed--entered Jack's state-room and touched him lightly on the shoulder.

Jack was awake in a moment.

"Anything wrong, doctor?" he asked quickly.

"Alas, sir!" replied M'Hearty, and there was a strange huskiness in his
voice as he spoke--"alas, sir! poor young Murray is dying fast."

"Murray dying!"

"Too true, sir. His wounds are far more grievous than I was aware of. He
cannot last many minutes. He wants to see you."

The boy--for he was but little more--lay in a cot in the sick-bay. He
was dressed in his scarlet coat, and his sword lay beside him, for he
had refused to be divested of his uniform. He was in a half-sitting
position, propped up with pillows, and smiled faintly as Jack knelt by
his side and took his thin white hand in his.

It was a sad scene but a simple one. There was the gray light of early
morning struggling in through the open port, and falling on the dying
boy's face; falling, too, on M'Hearty's rough but kindly countenance,
and on the figures of the sick-bay servants standing by the cot-foot
tearful and frightened. That was all. But an open Bible lay upon the
coverlet, and in his left hand the young soldier clasped a
miniature--his little sweetheart's.

"Bury it with me," he whispered feebly. "See her, sir--and tell
her--Willie died a hero's death.--Kiss me, Jack--I would sleep now."

The eyelids closed.

Ah! they had closed for aye.

Not a sound now save Jack's gentle sobbing, then the slow and solemn
tones of M'Hearty's voice as he took up the little Bible and read from
the Twenty-third Psalm: "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the
shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and
thy staff they comfort me." Amen!



CHAPTER XXII.

STILL WATERS RUN DEEP.

    "This little maxim, for my sake,
       I pray you be believing:
     The truest pleasures that we take
       Are those that we are giving."
                          DIBDIN.


For more than twenty years, dating back from the time our story
commenced, Richards had been a partner in the firm of Griffiths, Keane,
and Co.; yet although he was almost every day in the company of Mr.
Keane, he could neither love nor respect him. Perhaps had he been less
with him he might have respected him more. But he knew him too well;
knew him to be Keane by name and keen by nature--avaricious, grasping,
and miserly in the extreme, and for the sake of adding to his stores of
gold, very far indeed from scrupulous. His niggardly habits had
undoubtedly hurried his wife to her grave, when Gerty was little more
than a baby, and she was left to the tender mercies of a nurse and
governess. In the transaction of his business Richards was constantly at
his partner's home, and usually stayed to dine; but for the sake of the
child Gerty, he made many and many a visit to the house after her
mother's death, when he had no real business to transact. "Poor little
mite!" he thought; "she is so lonely, and she sees no one; has no one to
love save her father, to whom she is merely 'the child.'"

It used to vex poor great-hearted Richards to the core to hear Keane
snap out, "Take away that child; it's troublesome."

"Nay, nay," Richards would say, lifting the mite from the hearth-rug to
his knee, "let me have the darling a minute."

"Richards, you're a fool!" Keane would growl.

And with one arm round her protector's neck, her cheeks wet with tears,
the mite would gaze round-eyed and in saddened silence at her unnatural
father. It is no wonder that she grew up to love Richards. What stories
he used to tell her! what fun he used to make for her! how he entered
heart and soul into all her games and romps, as if he himself were but a
boy in reality, as he was in his heart of hearts!

But the psychical mystery is how she could have come to love her father
so. Yes, as the reader already knows, she did love him, and love him to
that extent that she was willing to sacrifice her own happiness to his
ambition, and marry a man whom she loathed if she did actually not
detest.

A bachelor, with no expenses worth naming, Richards had saved quite a
small fortune in his time; and when he came to find out that Keane was
going positively to sell his daughter to the worn-out _roué_ Sir Digby,
that for his own advancement he might see her ere long a lord's wife,
Richards thumped his fist down on his desk--he was alone at the
time--till even the big ink-bottle leaped an inch up from the table.

"I'll save that darling child," he had said, "if I spend every penny I
have earned, and lose my life into the bargain."

He smiled to himself a moment after.

"Everything is fair in love and war," he said: "I'll play a game. The
cause is good. Yes, Jack Mackenzie, my open-hearted, frank, brave boy,
you shall marry Gerty. I have said it--you--_shall_."

He laughed aloud next minute at his own enthusiasm.

"What a capital actor I should have made!" he thought. "How beautifully
I could have done heavy fathers!"

Still waters run deep, and Richards was astute, though perhaps he did
not look it. So he began at once to shuffle his cards for the game he
was about to play--a game which he rightly judged was to be one of life
or death. For he shuddered to think of the living death to which the
selfishness of her miserly, ambitious father intended condemning Gerty.

"My baby, bless her sweet face," he added, "shall never marry that
bleach-eyed old Digby."

Then he shut his ledger with a bang, and went for a walk in the park,
where he could think. But the Mackenzies would lose the fine old house
and property called Grantley Hall. Keane would assuredly foreclose. Then
the place would be Keane's or Gerty's, it was much the same. Keane
really meant it to be Sir Digby's and Gerty's, while he, Keane, should
live and be honoured and respected there--his son-in-law a lord.
Richards thought he must try by hook or by crook to prevent his partner
from foreclosing, if only for the following reason: if Grantley Hall
once passed into Keane's hands, much though Gerty and Jack loved each
other, the latter, being a Mackenzie and a Scot, would be far too proud
to propose marriage, seeing that in doing so his desires might be
misconstrued, and people would naturally say he was simply marrying back
his own property.

The general had told his children that Keane was his only creditor. Yes,
because in order to make sure of the estate, the old lawyer had bought
up all the others. He could thus come down upon the brave but reckless
Scottish soldier, like an avalanche from a mountain's brow.

The day had almost arrived for Keane's foreclosing. The family had
already left Grantley Hall, taking little with them save the family
jewellery, pictures, and nick-nacks. Flora had gone to Torquay, Jack was
in town, and his father preparing to resume his sword, and once more
fight for his country. The eventful morning itself came round. Keane was
early at his office. He was in an unusually happy frame of mind. Yet
perhaps he had a few slight "stoun's" of conscience, for over and over
again he talked to Richards, bringing up the subject next his heart, and
excusing himself.

"I had to do it--I had to do it," he said. "Pity for the poor
Mackenzies. But the general was so improvident, and what could I do?"

"Most improvident," replied Richards, smiling quietly over his ledger
nevertheless.

As the day wore away, Keane fidgeted more and more, and often looked at
the clock. "Another hour," he said, half aloud, "only another hour."

Richards looked at the clock too, and he often glanced uneasily towards
the door.

What was going to happen?

"Only half-an-hour." This from Keane.

"You seem pleased," said Richards dryly.

Rat, tat--bang, bang, at the office door.

Both men looked up; Richards with a sigh of relief, Keane with gray face
and flashing eyes.

Enter a tall, good-looking clerk, hat in one hand, a bundle of papers in
the other. He was a stranger to Keane.

"_Re_ the mortgage on estate of General Grant Mackenzie, I've come to
pay it off."

Old Keane grew grayer and grayer in face, and foam appeared on his lips.
He could not speak.

Richards slipped out and away.

He went out, and went down the street, positively laughing aloud, so
that people turned smilingly round to look after him.

And to pay this mortgage off, the honest fellow had put down the bulk
of his fortune, and borrowed thousands besides. The property of Grantley
Hall was now virtually his; but _he_ would not foreclose, and the
Mackenzies should know nothing about it, for a time at all events.

Richards had played his first card, and it was a strong one.

He went straight off now to see "his baby," and to continue the fairy
story which he had commenced at Grantley Hall.

He saw some one else--he saw Mary. Mary was his first lieutenant. It was
she who summoned him that evening at the Hall when he entered the room
just as Sir Digby was about to propose.

A good girl, Mary, and devoted to her "missus." She could keep a secret,
too, and she could keep Richards posted, lest Sir Digby should steal a
march upon them.

But time had rolled on, as we know. There were wars and rumours of wars,
disaffection at home and threatened revolution, and last, but not least,
as far as our story goes, Sir Digby had been ill, and at the point of
death. Keane also had been abroad for his health, and with him his
daughter, so that the evil day was postponed.

Evil days have a disagreeable habit of coming, nevertheless, in spite of
all we can do.

       *       *       *       *       *

Slowly and sadly, with rent rigging and battered hull, the _Tonneraire_
staggered home. She is in Plymouth Sound at last. Letters and papers
come off to the ship. Jack Mackenzie, sitting alone by his open port,
turns eagerly to a recent copy of the _Times_. Almost the first notice
that attracts his attention runs thus: "Marriage of Sir Digby Auld and
Miss Gertrude"--he sees no more. His head swims. The wind seizes the
paper, as if in pity, and carries it far astern of the ship.

He feels utterly crushed and broken, and head and hands droop helplessly
on the table before him.



CHAPTER XXIII.

"IT'S ALL UP, MR. RICHARDS, IT'S ALL UP!"

    "The busy crew the sails unbending,
       The ship in harbour safe arrived;
     Jack Oakum, all his perils ending,
       Has made the port where Kitty lived."
                                 DIBDIN.


We return now to the day before Sir Digby's ball.

Richards lived in chambers, and in no great state. He never cared for
it. Had you gone straight into his sitting-room from the fresh air, what
would have struck you most would have been the smell of strong tobacco
smoke; and I believe you would have come to the conclusion that the
principal furniture consisted of tobacco-pipes. They were of all sorts
and sizes, and hung in rows and racks, and lay on shelves and on the
mantlepiece. Well, what did it matter? honest Richards was a bachelor,
and not once in a blue moon did a lady look in to see him.

But one afternoon, shortly before Sir Digby's great ball, a lady did;
and that lady was Mary herself.

"Which I've been dying to see you, sir," she began.

"Sit down, my dear, sit down."

Mary sat down, and proceeded,--

"It's all up, Mr. Richards, it's all up!"

The poor girl was crying now bitterly.

"Missus is as good as sold. She's goin' to the ball, and Sir Digby's
goin' to propose. She told me, and Sir Digby kissed me and told me. Oh,
oh, what ever shall I do?"

Richards lit a huge pipe, and walked about smoking for fully five
minutes. Then he went over and took Mary's hand, and Mary looked up
innocently in his face, and said innocently through her tears,--

"Do you want to kiss me too, sir?"

"Well, I wasn't thinking about that; but there, Mary, there. Now, I'll
tell you what you've got to do; and I do believe it will all come right,
even yet."

So Mary and Richards had a long "confab" together, and she went back
home happy and smiling.

After she had gone Richards lit another pipe, threw himself on a
rocking-chair, and smoked long and thoughtfully. Then he got up and
took a rapid turn or two up and down the floor. Presently he paused, and
gazed curiously at himself in a mirror.

"Old Richards," he said, shaking his fist at his reflection, "I didn't
think it was in you. You're a designing, unscrupulous old lawyer. Never
mind; it's all for my baby's sake. I'll do it. Hang me if I don't."

An hour after this, Richards had called a carriage--a luxury he indulged
in very seldom indeed. He first visited the lawyer who had transacted
the business of the Grantley Hall mortgage for him. With this gentleman
he was closeted for some considerable time. Then he drove to a
fashionable tailor's, then to a jeweller's, and next to a
wine-merchant's, and as all those individuals showed him to his carriage
with many gracious smiles and bows, it was evident that his business
with them had been of a very agreeable kind indeed--to them. Richards
drove to other places which I need not name; and when he got back home
at last, he sank into his rocking-chair with a tired but happy sigh, and
immediately lit his biggest pipe.

He was smiling to himself. "I've done it," he said half aloud, "and my
baby's safe for a time. But if his rich old brother comes to the
rescue, my game is spoiled. Poor Jack! I wonder what he is doing at this
moment."

       *       *       *       *       *

On the night of the great ball, Sir Digby Auld was very much with Miss
Gordon; and everybody said how well matched they were, which certainly
was paying no compliment to Sir Digby. He gave her many dances, and he
said many soft and pretty things to her, which caused her to bend down
her painted face and pretend to blush.

In the course of the evening he forgathered with D'Orsay. D'Orsay lifted
his brows and smiled.

"Getting on famously?" he said.

"I've been trying; but, D'Orsay, 'pon my life I can't. And look you
here: I may be a fool, I may be mad, but to-morrow forenoon I go to
Keane's and throw myself at Gerty's feet. There! the die is cast."

A servant in livery at this moment approached him. "Beg parding, sir.
Two gentlemen wants to speak to you a moment in the library."

Sir Digby turned pale.

"I'd come, sir," whispered the servant; "there will be a scene else."

Sir Digby followed him out.

"Sorry we are, sir, to disturb yer 'onor; but we has a warrant for your
'rrest, and the carriage is awaitin' at the door."

"At whose instance?"

"Richards of the firm of Griffith, Keane, and Co."

Sir Digby muttered an oath. He staggered and almost fell.

D'Orsay, a quarter of an hour after this, informed the guests that Sir
Digby Auld had been taken suddenly ill, but that they were to continue
to enjoy themselves all the same.

Meanwhile the prisoner was being rapidly whirled away to the Fleet.

And the letter that Keane had received that night was to the effect that
the man who proposed marrying his daughter was a bankrupt and a beggar,
and would that evening be arrested in his own house and among his
guests.

Having effectually disposed of Sir Digby for a time, Richards could
afford to quietly await the turn of events. His practice had been sharp,
but it was certainly justifiable. He had often hinted to his partner
Keane, nay, even told him plainly, that the baronet was but a man of
straw.

"Owes a few thousands perhaps," Keane had replied, with an
ill-concealed sneer. "They all do it. A post-obit would clear that up.
His brother can't live for ever. Sir Digby will be a lord, you know, on
his brother's death."

"I'll tell you what," Richards had gone so far as to exclaim one day:
"if I were you I'd pay Digby's debts for him. Ten thou., I reckon, would
do it. But I shouldn't marry my only daughter to a beggar!"

Keane turned on him sharply.

"Richards," he said, as calmly as he could, "I knew a gentleman once who
made an immense fortune by a very simple process."

"Indeed; how?"

"By minding his own business." Then Keane cackled over his ledger.
Richards said no more. But the idea of Keane, of all men, paying off a
future son-in-law's debts was too absurd.

When Richards went to Keane's house a few days after Digby's
incarceration, he found his partner in the throes of packing. He was
going to Italy for a time with Gerty, and of course Mary would accompany
her.

Months went by, and many a long delightful letter did Richards receive
from Gerty, and from Mary too, the latter always ending with "luv and
sweet kisses." Then came a final letter. They were coming home. Alas!
the ship never reached England. She was captured by a Don, and all were
made prisoners. Keane could have bought his liberty if he had cared to.
He preferred to wait, and waiting--died.

A few weeks afterwards poor lonely Gerty returned, and Mary. Richards
constituted himself Miss Keane's guardian. Indeed it had been Keane's
last wishes that he should do so. And, strange to say, the ruling
passion had manifested itself strongly in death; for by the help of a
priest he had written a letter to Richards, praying him, for the sake of
their long acquaintanceship and friendship, to see that Gerty married
Sir Digby. He died, he said, peacefully, knowing she would yet be Lady
Auld.

"A dying man's last request," said Richards to himself, "ought to be
attended to; but--"

Then he solemnly placed the letter in the fire, and it was cremated.

Sir Digby made himself as comfortable as possible in the Fleet. Richards
did not think it safe he should come out. Gerty was a strange girl. Her
heart bled for the poor man, as she called him. For sake of her father's
memory, there was no denying that she might even yet sacrifice herself.

D'Orsay paid many visits to Sir Digby in prison. He really acted like a
true friend, and did all he could for him. He had even gone to see his
old brother, and come back, figuratively speaking, with a finger in his
mouth.

"No good in that quarter," he told Sir Digby bluntly. "Says you're a
spendthrift and a ne'er-do-weel, and that he means to live for twenty
years yet; and 'pon honour, Digby, he looks as if he could. I did hear
too that he was looking out for a wife."

       *       *       *       *       *

"I shall go and see my hero in his dark dungeon, in his prison cell, in
his chains and misery."

These are words spoken by Miss Gordon heroically to herself in the
mirror one morning. She had strange ideas of the Fleet.

She was astonished to find her hero in a flowered dressing-gown, smoking
a Havana, which he threw into the fire when he saw her, and living in a
handsomely-furnished room.

She went again and again. I do not know how she managed it, but I do
know that in a month's time Sir Digby was a free man, and married to
Miss Gordon.

This event took place just two days before Jack's ship staggered wearily
into Plymouth Sound.

While he still sat by his open port, gazing sadly landward, Tom Fairlie
came in with a rush and a run. He too had a copy of the _Times_.

"Listen, Jack," he cried, "and I'll read something that will astonish
you."

"Don't, Tom, don't. I have already seen the awful announcement. I am a
broken and crushed man!"

"Broken and crushed fiddlestick!" said Tom. "Listen, listen: 'At St.
Nicholas' Church, on the 5th inst., by the Rev. Charles Viewfield, Sir
Digby Auld to Miss Gertrude Gordon, daughter of--'"

"Hurrah!" cried Jack, springing from his seat and overturning the chair.
"Hurrah for the Rev. Charlie! Tom, shake hands, my dearest and best of
friends. You've made me the happiest man in the British Islands.
Hurrah!"

       *       *       *       *       *

In a week's time the _Tonneraire_ was paid off and safe in dock, and a
carriage with postillions might have been seen tearing along the road
that leads from Plymouth to Tor Bay.

The carriage contained Jack Mackenzie and his friend Tom Fairlie.



CHAPTER XXIV.

BY THE OLD DIAL-STONE.

    "So heroes may well wear their armour,
       And, patient, count over their scars;
     Venus' dimples, assuming the charmer,
       Shall smooth the rough furrows of Mars."
                                    DIBDIN.


General Grant Mackenzie was lounging at breakfast one morning in his
private rooms in the big barn-like barracks of C----. At his right hand
sat one of his captains, with whom he was talking--languidly enough, it
must be confessed.

"You are right, Moore. By Jove, you're right; and to-day I send in my
resignation. Here have we been lying waiting the French for more than a
year, and the rascals won't show front. No; I shall go in for club life
in London now."

"We'll miss you, general."

"Ah, Moore, it is good of you to say so; but what _can_ a fellow do?
When I rejoined the service, I expected to see some fighting.
Disappointed. And now I'm parted from my daughter, and lying in this old
barn positively getting mouldy. Besides--"

"Some one to see you, sir," said the servant.

"Why, Richards, my dear old boy, who could have expected to see you?
Nothing wrong, I hope?"

"No, everything right--more than right. Prepare to hear news that--"

He glanced at the captain.

"My friend Captain Moore. No secrets from him--knows
everything.--Captain Moore, Mr. Richards, my family lawyer, and, bar
yourself, the best fellow in existence."

Richards bowed.

"Well, Jack's come. Had terrible fighting. I hurried over to tell you."

"But not for that alone?"

"Nay, friend. Now sit down, or catch hold of something. I'm going to
startle you. Your old uncle is dead."

"What, the man that disinherited me?"

"The same; only--you are heir to Glen Pollok. It is all yours--a cool
£10,000 a year."

The general could not speak for a moment; then he grasped the kindly old
solicitor's hand once more, and with tears in his eyes.

"God in heaven bless you, Richards," he exclaimed, "and his name be
praised. Poor Jack and dear Flo, they will not now be beggars!"

"And, Richards," he added, "Flora shall be wedded with all the pomp and
glory due to a daughter of the proud house of Grant Mackenzie."

"Ah!" laughed Richards, "there is the old reckless Celtic blood
asserting itself again. Don't forget, my friend, that even £10,000 a
year can be spent, and that right easily too."

"I won't, I won't; you shall be my guide."

"And then, you see," continued Richards, "there is the mortgage to pay
off on Grantley Hall."

"Grantley Hall! why, isn't that sold long ago?"

Richards laughed heartily now. "O bother," he cried. "I've let the cat
out of the bag, and I didn't mean to. I meant to give you such a
pleasant surprise. Well, well, well,--

    'The best-laid schemes o' mice and men
                  Gang aft agley.'"

Then Richards told him all he had done.

The tears stood in General Mackenzie's eyes. "Richards," he said, "I
could not have believed such kindness possible. I--I--I can't say
another word."

       *       *       *       *       *

The meeting between Tom Fairlie and Flora was all that lovers could
desire. Mary positively hugged Jack. He was still her boy. I'm not sure
she did not shower upon him "luv and sweet kisses."

"But, bless me, Jack," she said, "how tall you've got! and really you
makes poor me feel old."

Gerty met Jack with a bonnie blush.

Ah! how he longed to take her in his arms and tell her all, and all she
had been to him throughout the last two long and eventful years. But no,
he would not, dared not. When in a few months' time a ship was once more
at his command, he would go quietly away to sea; but he ne'er would
speak of love.

For his old Highland pride had come to his rescue. She was rich; _he_
was very poor indeed.

No, it never could be. And so he told Tom, and so he told his sister.
The former laughed at his scruples; the latter thought her brother was
right.

       *       *       *       *       *

Richards and the general were at Grantley Hall and as busy as the
traditional bonnet-maker. They had a little secret between them, for
neither Jack nor Flora had yet been told of the change in the fortunes
of the Grant Mackenzies. It would be such a delightful surprise. And so
the two old friends worked away, as merrily as school-boys building a
rabbit-hutch, and in a few weeks' time the old place was put to rights,
and every nick-nack and every curio and souvenir and picture replaced in
the drawing-room, just as it had been in the dear, reckless days of long
ago.

But near the finish of the arrangements M'Hearty was invited down and
let into the delightful secret, for he it was who should bring Jack and
his sister, with Tom, Gerty, and Mary the maid, down to the old place.

       *       *       *       *       *

"Do you know," said M'Hearty about a week after this, as he stood with
Jack and his sister on the balcony of the priest's drawing-room at
Torquay, "I'm dying to see old Grantley Hall just once again."

"And I too would like to see it," sighed Jack, "if--if I thought Flora
could stand it."

"Oh I think I could."

 [Illustration: "_The old dial-stone._"
                Page 212.]

"Well, the weather is delightful; why shouldn't we sail round?"

"Agreed," said Jack; "we shall."

They hired a yacht, not a very fast one. There were no _Thistles_ in
those days. But she was most clean and comfortable, and the party had
favouring winds all the way round, and in due time arrived safely in
Lowestoft harbour.

Then nothing less than a coach and postillions would suit M'Hearty.

"It shan't be at your expense though, Captain Jack," he said, "nor yours
either, Tom. Why, I have made oceans of prize-money, and an old bachelor
like me doesn't really know how to spend it."

The surprise began when they reached the lodge gate. "Why," cried Jack,
"there is some one living here. I expected to find the place in ruins."
The surprise increased when they reached the lawn, for here the general
and sly old Richards met them laughing. But when the party were ushered
into the drawing-room, and saw everything in its place as it had been
years ago, and the general and Richards "ready to die" stifling a laugh,
why, then the surprise reached a climax.

"Pinch me, Tom," cried Jack. "I'm in a dream."

What a happy first-coming that was, to be sure! but there were many more
to follow.

       *       *       *       *       *

The autumn tints were on the trees, evening primroses and dahlias nodded
by the pathways, and many a rare old flower besides.

One evening Jack, with his sister and Gerty, was walking in the bright
moonlight along the broad and grassy path that swept under the lime
avenue. Flora had gone on, and Jack had given Gerty his arm.

Suddenly they came to the old dial-stone. And here they stopped, for
Jack had remembered his dream. He was Gerty's equal now in every way,
and so he told her his dream, and he told her something else; told her
of all his manly love that neither absence nor the vicissitudes of war
could ever banish from his heart. And much more, too, he told her that
we need not pry into. Flora went on and on. Just once she glanced
behind. Gerty was very close to Jack.

When, a whole hour after this, they entered the great drawing-room arm
in arm, they looked very happy indeed. There was no one there but
Richards and the general. "Why, where ever have you two truants been?"
said the latter.

"We have been cleaning the moss off the old dial-stone, and rolling back
the scroll of time. Father, let me present to you your future
daughter-in-law."

"My own brave boy," said the general. "Gerty Keane."

That was all; but I do not know yet which was the happier man of the
two--Jack's father or Mr. Richards.

As for Mary, as soon as she heard the glorious news she must seek out
"her boy" at once. She found him in his room, and with the best grace he
could muster he had to submit to "luv and sweet kisses" on the spot,
Mary assuring him that he had made her the happiest girl in all Norfolk.

       *       *       *       *       *

There is a good deal of similarity about weddings; but it was generally
admitted that the double event that took place at Grantley Hall in the
spring of '99--namely, the marriages of Tom and Flora, and Gerty and
Jack--was the gayest wedding, or rather pair of weddings, that had ever
taken place in the north. I cannot say that bonfires blazed on every
hill, because there are no hills in Norfolk worthy of the name; but the
rejoicing far and near was universal, and with all his old Highland
hospitality and lavishness, General Grant Mackenzie, ably supported by
Richards and the gallant M'Hearty, kept open house for a whole fortnight
to all comers.

Meanwhile, in a charming yacht, under blue skies and with favouring
winds, the happy couples were sailing round the shores of merry England
and green Caledonia.

Ah! there is many a less happy life than that of the sailor, and many
worse people than sailors; and had I my time to begin again, I should
still be sweeping through the deep.

 [Illustration: The End]





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