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Title: The Cruise of the Midge (Vol. I of 2)
Author: Scott, Michael, 1789-1835
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 "The Cruise of the Midge (Vol. I of 2)" ***

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THE CRUISE OF THE MIDGE.


BY THE

AUTHOR OF "TOM CRINGLE'S LOG."

[Transcriber's note: Author is Michael Scott]



  "ON LIFE'S VAST OCEAN DIVERSELY WE SAIL,
  REASON THE CARD, BUT PASSION IS THE GALE."
                              ESSAY ON MAN



IN TWO VOLUMES.

VOL. I.



  WILLIAM BLACKWOOD AND SONS, EDINBURGH;
  AND T. CADELL, STRAND, LONDON.
  MDCCCXXXVI.



EDINBURGH: PRINTED BY BALLANTYNE AND CO., PAUL'S WORK.



  CONTENTS OF VOLUME FIRST.


  CHAP.

  I.  GAZELLES AND MIDGES--THE MIDGE'S WINGS ARE SINGED
  II.  THE ATTACK
  III.  THE MIDGE IN THE HORNET'S NEST
  IV.  THE EVENING AFTER THE BRUSH
  V.  AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF SERJEANT QUACCO
  VI.  THE FETISH--CROSSING THE BAR, AND DESTRUCTION OF THE SLAVER
  VII.  A WARM RECEPTION
  VIII.  CAPE MISSIONARIES
  IX.  FOUNDERING OF THE HERMES
  X.  DICKY PHANTOM--YARN SPINNING
  XI.  JAMBE DE BOIS
  XII.  GAMBLING--AN UNLUCKY HIT



THE CRUISE OF THE MIDGE.



CHAPTER I.

GAZELLES AND MIDGES--THE MIDGE'S WINGS ARE SINGED.

Born an Irishman, the son of an Irishwoman; educated in Scotland, the
country of my father, an ancient mariner, who, as master and
supercargo, had sailed his own ship for many years in the Virginia
trade; removed to England at the age of seventeen, in consequence of
his death; I had, by the time I arrived at majority, passed four years
of my mercantile apprenticeship in my paternal uncle's counting-house,
an extensive merchant in that modern Tyre, the enterprising town of
Liverpool; during which period, young as I was, I had already made four
voyages in different vessels of his to foreign parts--to the West
Indies, the Brazils, the Costa Firme, and the United States of America.

Being naturally a rambling, harumscarum sort of a young chap, this sort
of life jumped better with my disposition than being perched on the top
of a tall mahogany tripod, poring over invoices, daybooks, journals,
and ledgers, with the shining ebony-coloured desk jammed into the pit
of my stomach below, and its arbour of bright brass rods constantly
perverting the integrity of my curls above; so at the period when the
scene opens, I had with much ado prevailed on my uncle to let me
proceed once more on a cruise, instead of a senior clerk, in charge of
two of his ships, bound to the African coast, to trade for ivory and
gold dust, and to fill up with palm oil and hardwood timbers.

I had no small difficulty in carrying this point, as the extreme
insalubrity of the climate, the chance of being plundered by the
semi-piratical foreign slavers, to say nothing of the danger of a
treacherous attack on the part of the natives themselves, weighed
heavily against my going in my worthy uncle's mind; but I had set my
heart on it, and where "there's a will, there's a way."

I will not conceal, however, that after all, when it came to the point,
I do not believe he would have allowed me to depart, had it not been
for a prank of mine, which put him into a towering passion with me
about this time.

On the occasion of a rejoicing for one of our great victories, being
hand-and-glove with all the skippers and mates of the vessels belonging
to the concern, I smuggled up to our house on Everton Terrace, unknown
to my uncle, two boat guns, six-pounder carronades, and a lot of
fire-works, by bribing the brewer's man to carry them for me in his
cart.  Having achieved this part of my plan, with the aid of two young
tars, I contrived to mount the guns in the summer-house, immediately
beneath the dining-room window; and having loaded them, I set fire to
slow matches, fitted to the touch-holes, just as the dinner bell rang;
and then calmly took my place at table, facing mine uncle.

The old gentleman was rather a quiet-going codger, and during meals
seldom annoyed his neighbours with too much conversation--in the
present case, he had eaten his soup, his bit of fish, and was just
raising his first glass of wine to his lips--when bang went one of my
carronades, and smash fell the glass--the madeira flowing all down his
lap.  He had not recovered his equanimity, when bang went gun No. 2,
and up shot a whole constellation of rockets and Roman candles, from
the garden, whereat he fairly sprang off his chair, as if the explosion
had taken place in the cushion of it, or he had been hoisted out of his
socket by some sort of catamaran.

His first impulse was to run to the open window; whiz! a _live_ rocket,
or large squib, I forget which, flew in over his shoulder, and nearly
popped down the throat of the old serving-man, who stood like a statue
open mouthed before the sideboard, petrified with astonishment; as it
was, it scorched the powdered curl over his left ear, missing his head
by a mere hair's breadth.

The guns I could account for, but the erratic course of this missile
surprised me exceedingly.  At one fell swoop, it had cleared the
sideboard of glasses, decanters, silver waiters, and the sinumbra lamp;
driven my revered uncle to the top of the table for refuge; and then,
as if still unsatisfied with all this mischief, it began to jump about
under it, blazing and hissing like a fiery serpent, first in this
corner, then under that chair; while old Peregrine, the waiting-man
(whose ice had at length thawed), and I were dancing after it; knocking
our heads together, and breaking our shins against chairs and the edges
of the table, making glasses and decanters ring again, in a vain
endeavour to seize hold of the stick.  The row soon brought up the
other servants, groom, cook, housemaid, &c. &c. &c., towards whom, as
if possessed with some spirit of mischief, it fizzed through the door,
in its transit, nearly taking one of the female domestics in reverse,
whereat they all began to scream as if they had been murdered; then up
stairs it rattled, as if desirous of visiting the drawing-room floor,
poking its snout into every cranny, hissing and wriggling its tail, and
putting the entire array to flight with its vagaries.  It was too
absurd to see a whole household of grown people thus chasing a live
sky-rocket like so many children--"up stairs, down stairs, and in my
lady's chamber"--so presently we were all, excepting the rocket itself,
brought to a stand still, by fits of laughter.

Although it was clear the heroic firework was not to be captured alive,
yet, at length, like the vapouring of a passionate man, it spluttered
itself out, and was captured, stick and all, by the old cook, whose
propriety it had invaded; and I returned to the dining-room.

My uncle had by this time reseated himself at the table, looking as
black as thunder, with old Peregrine planted once more behind his
chair, as stiff as if he had literally swallowed the rocketstick.  I
sat down, feeling not a little awkward; the dead silence becoming every
moment more and more irksome.  The old gentleman seemed to suffer under
this, as well as myself, and to have come to the conclusion that it
would be more sociable, even to break out into a regular scold, than
hold his tongue any longer.

"So, Master Benjamin, a new piece of practical wit of yours, I presume."

"Indeed, my dear sir, I am very sorry--the guns I plead guilty to; but
who can have fired the rockets?"

"Ah--as if you did not know"--quoth uncle Peter.

"Indeed, uncle, I do not, unless the fusees have caught from the
wadding of these cursed guns;" which, in fact, was the case--"I am sure
I wish they had been at the bottom of the Mersey since they have made
you angry, uncle."

There was another awful pause--during which, in came a message from Mr
Pigwell, one of the neighbours, to ask if any accident had
occurred---"No no," said uncle Peter testily--"no accident, only a
small mistake."

Another dead lull--presently the old servant, who had gone to the lobby
to deliver the message, returned into the room, and as he placed a
fresh bottle of wine on the table, he said--"The man says Mrs Pigwell
has got a sad fright, sir--taken in labour, sir."

"There, Master Benjamin, there--I am sure I wish you had gone to the
coast of Africa before this had happened--I was an old soft hearted
fool to stand in the way."

"Well, my dear uncle, it is not too late yet"--said I, a good deal
piqued.  Not a word from him--"I am sorry to see you have taken such
offence where none was meant.  It was a piece of folly, I admit, and I
am sincerely sorry for it."  Still silent--"Jennings is still at anchor
down below--I can easily be ready to-morrow, and there is no appearance
of the wind changing--so, pray, do let me go."

"You may go to the devil, sir, for me"--and off he started, fizzing,
worse than the rocket itself, with rage to his dressing-room, where he
often used to pass an hour or two in the evenings alone.

I sat still, guzzling my wine in great wrath.--Enter Peregrine again.
I was always a favourite with the old fellow, although he had been
seriously angry at first, when he saw that my absurd prank had put his
old master so cruelly out.  Now, however, I perceived he was anxious to
make up for it.

"Lord, Master Benjamin, your uncle is in such a taking you never
se'ed--why, do you know, the first thing he did when he went to his
dressing-room was to hang his wig on the lighted candle, instead of the
pillar of the looking glass; and then we were all in darkness, you
see--so, in groping my way out, I popped my foot into the hot water in
the foot-pail that he had ordered up, and this scalded me so, that,
forgetting where I was, I could not help swearing a bit, Master
Benjamin;--on which he opened the door, and thrust me out, neck and
crop, calling me a blasphemous old villain--although we all know he is
not slack at a good rousing oath himself when his bristles are up; but
to call me an old blasphemer--_me!_ who have sarved him faithfully for
thirty years, in various parts of the world--a blasphemous old villain,
indeed!"

I saw no more of my uncle that night, and when we met next morning at
breakfast, I was rejoiced to find the gale had blown itself out.

When I sat down, he looked across the table at me, as if expecting me
to speak, but as I held my peace, the good old man opened the
conference himself.

"Why, Benjie, my boy, I have been laughing over our fright, yesterday;
but have done with your jokes, Master, if you please, and no more about
that infernal coast of"----

"Mr Pigwell has just called, sir," quoth old Peregrine, entering at
this moment--"and desires me to say that Mrs Pigwell is brought to bed,
sir, and _all_ doing well, sir, notwithstanding the fright."

"Glad of it, Peregrine--my compliments--wish him joy--but _all_, what
do you mean by _all_?"

"She has got twins, sir."

"The deuce! twins!"

"Yes, sir, _three_ on 'em, sir."

"An Irish pair," said I.

"Two girls and a boy."

"Hillo," I continued--"why, I only fired _two_ guns!"

"Oh, pilgarlic goes for the rocket," cried my uncle, laughing--"but
_there_ spoke your mother, you Patlander, you--_there_ shone out
Kilkenny, Benjie.  Oh dear, oh dear--two girls and a boy--old Pigwell's
young wife brought to bed of--two carronades and a rocket--ha, ha, ha."

We walked down to the counting-house together as lovingly as ever, but
my star was now in the ascendant, for there we found Captain Jennings,
who informed my uncle that he had been obliged that morning to land Mr
Williamson, the clerk, who was about proceeding in charge of the
expedition, in consequence of his having been taken alarmingly ill.

This was most unfortunate, as the wind appeared on the eve of coming
fair.

"We shall have a breeze before next flood, that will take us right
round the Head--I hope you won't detain us in the river, sir?" quoth
Jennings.

My uncle was puzzled what to do, as it so happened that none of the
other youngsters at the moment in the employ had ever been away in such
a capacity before; so I availed myself of the opportunity to push my
request home, and it was finally fixed that forenoon that I should take
Mr Williamson's place.

A very old friend of my deceased father's, Sir Oliver Oakplank, was at
this time the senior officer on the African coast, and as the time was
approaching when, according to the usual routine of that service, he
would be departing on the round voyage for Jamaica and Havanna, before
proceeding to England to refit, it was determined, if I could arrange
the lading of our ships in time, that I should take a passage with him,
for the twofold object of seeing an uncle, by my mother's side, who was
settled in Jamaica, and from whom I had expectations; and making
certain speculations in colonial produce at Havanna.

As I had the credit of being a sharpish sort of a shaver, and by no
means indiscreet, although fond of fun, I had much greater license
allowed me in my written instructions than my uncle was in the habit of
conceding to any of my fellow quill-drivers, who had been previously
despatched on similar missions.  I had in fact a roving commission as
to my operations generally.  The very evening on which I got leave to
go, the ship rounded the Rock Perch, and nothing particular occurred
until we arrived at the scene of our trading.  I very soon found that
neither the dangers nor difficulties of the expedition had been
exaggerated; on the contrary, the reality of both very far exceeded
what I had made up my mind to expect.  First of all, I lost more than a
half of both crews in the course of two months, and the master of one
of the ships amongst them; secondly, I was plundered and ill-used by a
villanous Spanish slaving polacre, who attacked us without rhyme or
reason while lying quietly at anchor pursuing our trade in the Bonny
river.  Not dreaming of any danger of this kind, except from the
natives, we allowed the Dons to come on board before we offered any
resistance, and then it was too late to do so effectually; however, at
the eleventh hour, we did show some fight, whereby I got my left cheek
pierced with a boarding pike or boat-hook, which I repaid by a slashing
blow with a cutlass, that considerably damaged the outward man of the
Don who had wounded me.  I verily believe we should have all been put
to death in consequence, had it not been for the Spanish captain
himself, who, reminding the villains that it was not fighting but
_plunder_ they had come for, made them knock off from cracking our
crowns, and betake themselves to searching for dollars, and boxing us
all up in the round house until they had loaded themselves with every
thing they chose to take away.  However, notwithstanding this mishap, I
finally brought my part of the operation to a successful issue, by
completing the loading of the ships, and seeing them fairly off for
England within the time originally contemplated.  I then joined the
commodore at Cape Coast, where I met with a most cordial reception from
him, and also from my cousin, Dick Lanyard, one of his lieutenants.

Through the kind offices of this youngster, I soon became as good as
one of the Gazelles; indeed, notwithstanding I was the commodore's
guest, I was more in the gun-room than any where else; and although not
quite _selon les regles_, I contrived, during the time the frigate
remained on the coast after I joined her, to get away now and then in
the boats, my two months' experience in the rivers having rendered me
an accomplished pilot; and being in no way afraid of the climate, I
thus contrived to make one in any spree where there was likely to be
fun going, even more frequently than my turn of duty would have
entitled me to, had I been really an officer of the ship.

Unless there be something uncongenial or positively repulsive about
one, a person in my situation, with a jovial hearty turn, and a little
money in his pockets to add a streak of comfort to a mess now and then,
becomes to a certainty a mighty favourite with all the warrant and
petty officers, boatswain's mates, old quartermasters, _et hoc genus
omne_; and I flatter myself that had I gone overboard, or been killed
in any of the skirmishes that, with the recklessness of boyhood, I had
shoved my nose into, there would have been as general a moan made for
me along the 'tween decks, as for the untimely demise of poor Dicky
Phantom, the monkey.

My friend, the aforesaid Dick, had been for six months fourth
lieutenant of H.M.S. Gazelle, on board of which, as already mentioned,
Sir Oliver Oakplank had his broad pennant[1] hoisted, as the
commander-in-chief on the African station.


[1] A broad red swallow-tailed flag, carried at the main-royal
masthead, indicative of the rank of commodore.


The last time they had touched at Cape Coast they took in a Spanish
felucca, that had been previously cut out of the Bonny river, with part
of her cargo of slaves on board.

She had cost them a hard tussle, and several of the people had fallen
by the sword in the attack, but more afterwards from dysentery and
marsh fever, the seeds of which had doubtless been sown in the
pestilential estuary at the time of the attack; although there is no
disputing that they were much more virulently developed afterwards than
they would otherwise have been, by a week's exposure in open boats to
the deleterious changes of the atmosphere.  The excellent commodore,
therefore, the father of his crew, seeing the undeniable necessity of
lessening the exposure of the men in such a villanous climate,
instantly wrote home to the Admiralty, requesting that half-a-dozen
small vessels might be sent to him, of an easy draught of water, so
that they might take charge of the boats, and afford a comfortable
shelter to their crews; at the same time that they should be able to
get over the bars, without damage, of the various African rivers, where
the contraband Guineamen were in the habit of lurking.  To evince that
he practised what he preached, he instantly fitted out the captured
felucca on his own responsibility, manned her with five-and-twenty men,
and gave the command of her to the third lieutenant.

She had been despatched about a fortnight before in the direction of
Fernando Po, and we had stood in on the morning of the day on which my
narrative commences, to make cape Formosa, which was the rendezvous
fixed on between us.  About three o'clock, P.M., when we were within
ten miles of the cape, without any appearance of the tender, we fell in
with a Liverpool trader, bound to the Brass river to load palm oil and
sandalwood.  She reported that the night before they had come across a
Spaniard, who fired into them, when they sheered-to with an intent to
speak him.  The master said that, when first seen, the strange sail was
standing right in for the river ahead of us; and, from the noises he
heard, he was sure he had negroes on board.  It was therefore
conjectured that she was one of the vessels who had taken in part of
her cargo of slaves at the Bonny river, and was now bound for the Nun
or Brass river to complete it.  They were, if any thing, more confirmed
in this, by the circumstance of his keeping away and standing to the
south-west the moment he found they were hauling in for the land, as if
anxious to mislead them, by inducing a belief that he was off for the
West Indies or Brazil.  This was the essence of the information
received from the Liverpool-man; but from the description of the Don,
taking also into account the _whereabouts_ he was fallen in with, I had
no doubt in my own mind of his being the very identical villain who had
plundered me.  The same afternoon we fell in with an American, who
rejoiced our hearts by saying that he had been chased by a vessel in
the forenoon answering the description of the felucca.  Immediately
after we hove about, and stood out to sea again, making sail in the
direction indicated.  In consequence of our overhauling this vessel,
the commodore had put off his dinner for an hour; and when all the
ropes had been coiled down, and every thing made snug after tacking, he
resumed his walk on the weatherside of the quarterdeck, in company with
Mr David Sprawl, the first lieutenant.

The commodore was a red-faced little man, with a very irritable cast of
countenance, which, however, was by no means a true index to his warm
heart, for I verily believe that no commander was ever more beloved by
officers and men than he was.  He had seen a great deal of service, and
had been several times wounded; once, in particular, very badly by a
grapeshot, that had shattered his left thigh, and considerably
shortened it, thereby giving him a kick in his gallop, as he himself
used to phrase it, until the day of his death.  He was a wag in his
way, and the officer now perambulating the deck alongside of him was an
unfailing source of mirth; although the commodore never passed the
limits of strict naval etiquette, or the bounds of perfect good
breeding in his fun.  The gallant old fellow was dressed in faded
nankeen trowsers--discoloured cotton stockings--shoes, with corn-holes
cut in the toes--an ill-washed and _rumpled_ white Marseilles
waistcoat--an old blue uniform coat, worn absolutely threadbare, and
white and soapy at the seams and elbows; each shoulder being garnished
with a faded gold lace strap, to confine the epaulets when mounted, and
that was only on a Sunday.  His silk neckcloth had been most probably
black _once_, but now it was a dingy brown; and he wore a most shocking
bad hat--an old white beaver, with very broad brims, the snout of it
fastened back to the crown with a lanyard of common spunyarn; buttoned
up, as it were, like the _chapeaux_ in Charles the Second's time, to
prevent it flapping down over his eyes.  He walked backwards and
forwards very quickly, taking two steps for Sprawl's one, and whenever
he turned he gave a loud stamp, and swung briskly about on the good leg
as if it had been a pivot, giving a most curious indescribable flourish
in the air with the wounded limb in the round-coming, like the last
quiver of Noblet's leg in an expiring pirouette.

Lieutenant Sprawl, the officer with whom he was walking and keeping up
an animated conversation, was also in no small degree remarkable in his
externals, but in a totally different line.  He was a tall man, at the
very least six feet high, and stout in proportion; very
square-shouldered; but, large as he was, his coat seemed to have been
made to fit even a stouter person, for the shoulder-straps (I think
that is the name) projected considerably beyond his shoulders, like the
projecting eaves of a Swiss cottage, thus giving the upper part of his
figure a sharp ungainly appearance.  Below these wide-spreading
upperworks he tapered away to nothing at the loins, and over the hips
he was not the girth of a growing lad.  His thighs were very short, but
his legs, from the knee down, were the longest I ever saw in man,
reversing all one's notions of proportion or symmetry, for they
gradually swelled out from the knee, until they ended in the ankle,
which emulated, if it did not altogether surpass, the calf in diameter.
When you looked at him in a front view, his lower spars, from the knee
down, were a facsimile of the letter V reversed; that is, with the apex
uppermost, while the long splay feet formed the strokes across at the
bottom, into which the shanks or shin-bones were morticed amidships as
nearly as may be, so that the heel projected aft very nearly as far as
the toe did forward, as if he had been built after the model of an
Indian proa, to sail backwards or forwards as might be required,
without either tacking or wearing.  These formidable looking props were
conspicuously stuck out before him, where they kept cruising about, of
their own accord apparently, as if they were running away with the man;
while, as he walked, he vehemently swung his arms backwards and
forwards, as if they had been paddles necessary to propel him ahead,
carrying on leisurely when he first turned, but gradually increasing
his pace as he proceeded, until he sculled along at a terrible rate.
His head was very large, and thatched with a great fell of coarse red
hair, hanging down in greasy masses on each side of his pale freckled
visage, until it blended into two immense, whiskers, which he
cultivated under his chin with such care, that he appeared to be
peeping through a fur collar, like a Madagascar ourang-outang.  His
eyes were large, prominent, and of a faded blue, like those of a dead
fish; his general loveliness being diversified by a very noticeable
squint.  He had absolutely no eyebrows, but a curious nondescript sort
of tumble-out forehead, as like an ill-washed winter-turnip in its
phrenological developement as one could well imagine; and as for his
nose, it had the regular twist of a rifleman's powder-horn.  But his
lovely mouth, who shall describe it?  Disdaining to claim acquaintance
with the aforesaid beak, it had chosen its site under the left eye, so
that a line--I here address myself to mathematical readers--drawn from
the innermost corner of the right eye, and intersecting the tip of the
snout, would have touched the starboard corner of the aforesaid hole in
his face--it could be dignified with no other name; for, in sober
reality, it more resembled a gash in a pumpkin, made by a clumsy
bill-hook, than any thing else.

Lips he had none; and the first impression on one's mind when you saw
him naturally led one to exclaim, Bless me--what an oddity!  The man
has no mouth--until he did make play with his potato-trap, and then to
be sure it was like a gap suddenly split open in a piece of mottled
freestone.  It was altogether so much out of its latitude, that when he
spoke it seemed _aside_, as the players say; and when he drank his
wine, he looked for all the world as if he had been pouring it into his
ear.

So now, if the admiring reader will take the trouble to dress this
Beauty, I will furnish the apparel.  Imprimis, he wore a curious _wee_
hat, with scarcely any brim, the remains of the nap bleached by a
burning sun, and splashed and matted together from the pelting of
numberless showers and the washing up of many a salt-sea spray, but
carefully garnished, nevertheless, with a double stripe of fresh
gold-lace, and a naval button on the left side.  Add to this, an
old-fashioned uniform coat, very far _through_, as we say;
long-waisted, with remarkably short skirts, but the strap for the
epaulet new and bright as the loop on the hat.  Now, then, swathe him
in a dingy white kerseymere waistcoat, over which dangles a great horn
eye-glass, suspended by a magnificent new broad watered black ribbon;
and, finally, take the trouble to shrowd the lower limbs of the Apollo
in ancient duck trowsers, extending about half-way down the calf of the
leg, if calf he had; leaving his pillar-like ankles conspicuously
observable; and you will have a tolerably accurate idea of the presence
and bearing of our amiable and accomplished shipmate, Mr David Sprawl.

Rum subject as he certainly was to look at, yet he was a most excellent
warm-hearted person at bottom; straightforward and kind to the men;
never blazoning or amplifying their faults, but generally, on the other
hand, softening them; and often astonishing the poor fellows by his
out-of-the-way and unexpected kindness and civility.  Indeed, he plumed
himself on the general polish of his manners, whether to equals or
inferiors, and the Gazelles repaid the compliment by christening him,
at one time, "Old Bloody Politeful," and "David Doublepipe" at another,
from a peculiarity that we shall presently describe.

You must know, therefore, that this remarkable personage was possessed
of a very uncommon accomplishment, being neither more nor less than a
natural ventriloquist, for he had two distinct voices, as if he had
been a sort of living double flageolet; one a _falsetto_, small and
liquid, and clear as the note of an octave flute; the other sonorous
and rough, as the groaning of a trombone.  In conversation, the
alternations, apparently involuntary, were so startling and abrupt,
that they sounded as if ever and anon the keys of the high and low
notes of an organ had been alternately struck; so instantaneously were
the small notes snapped off into the lower ones, and _vice versa_--so
that a stranger would, in all probability, have concluded, had he not
known the peculiarities of the Adonis, that a little midshipman was at
one moment squeaking up the main hatchway from the hold; and at the
next answered by a boatswain's mate on deck.  Indeed, while the
commodore and his subaltern pursued their rapid walk, backwards and
forwards, on the quarterdeck, the fine, manly, sailor-like voice of the
old man, as it intertwined with the octave flute note and the grumbling
bass of David Sprawl, like a three-strand rope of gold thread, silver
thread, and tarry spunyarn, might have given cause to believe that the
two were accompanied in their perambulations by some invisible
familiar, who chose to take part in the conversation, and to denote his
presence through the ear, while to the eye he was but thin air.
However, maugre appearances and the oddity of his conformation, friend
Sprawl was physically the most powerful man on board; and that was
saying something, let me tell you.

Thus beloved by the men, to his brother-officers he was the most
obliging and accommodating creature that ever was invented.  Numberless
were the petty feuds which he soldered, that, but for his warm-hearted
intervention, might have eventuated in pistol-shots and gunpowder; and
the mids of the ship actually adored him.  If leave to go on shore, or
any little immunity was desired by them, "Old Bloody Politeful" was the
channel through which their requests ran; and if any bother was to be
eschewed, or any little fault sheltered, or any sternness on the part
of the commodore or any of the lieutenants to be mollified,--in fine,
if any propitiation of the higher powers was required, who interceded
but "Davie Doublepipe?"  In a word, men and midshipmen would have
fought for him to the last gasp; and although they did laugh a little
at his oddities now and then, they always came back to this,--"He is
the best seaman and the bravest man in the ship," as indeed repeated
trials had proved him to be.

The remarkable couple that I have taken so much pains to describe to
you continued to stump along the quarterdeck, backwards and forwards,
very rapidly; and at the end of every turn, Sprawl, in place of tacking
with his face to his companion, invariably wore with his back to him,
and so lumbersome and slowly, that the commodore usually had wheeled,
and stood facing him, ready to set forth on his promenade long before
Mr Sprawl came round; so that, while his back was towards him, he had
an opportunity of giving his broad shoulders a quizzical reconnoitring
glance, which he instantly exchanged for the most sedate and sober
expression, when our friend at length hove about and fronted him.  This
contrast between the fun of the commodore's expression when his
subaltern's back was towards him, and its solemnity when he turned his
face, was most laughable; more especially, that he always met Sprawl,
as he came to the wind, with a sidling bow, before he made sail in his
usual pace; which slight inclination the lieutenant answered with a
formal inclination of his whole strange corpus, whereby he stopped his
way to such a degree, that Sir Oliver had filled on the other tack, and
shot three or four strides ahead; whereby Sprawl had to clap the steam
on at a very high pressure, in order to scull up alongside of his
superior, before he arrived at the other wheeling point, the break of
the quarter-deck.

The postponed dinner-hour having at length arrived, the commodore,
making a formal salaam, dived to enjoy his meal, whereof I was the only
partaker this day beside himself; and nothing particular occurred until
the following morning.

The next forenoon Dick Lanyard was the officer of the watch, and, about
nine o'clock, the commodore, who had just come on deck, addressed
him:--"Mr Lanyard, do you see any thing of the small hooker yet, to
windward there?"

"I thought I saw something like her, sir, about half an hour ago; but a
blue haze has come rolling down, and I cannot make any thing out at
present."

"She must be thereabouts somewhere, however," continued he, "as she was
seen yesterday by the Yankee brig,--so keep by the wind until four
bells, Mr Lanyard, and then call me, if you please."

"Ay, ay, sir;" and he resumed his walk on the weather-side of the
quarterdeck.

In a couple of hours we were all on deck again; as the breeze freshened
the mist blew off, and in half an hour the felucca was seen about three
miles to windward of us, staggering along before it, like a large
nautilus, under her solitary lateen sail;--presently she was close
aboard of us.

I was looking steadfastly at the little vessel as she came rolling down
before the wind, keeping my eye on the man that was bending on the
ensign haulyards.  First of all, he began to hoist away the ensign,
until it reached about half-way between the end of the long, drooping,
wirelike yard and the deck; he then jerked it upwards and downwards for
a minute, as if irresolute whether to run it chokeup, or haul it down
again; at length it hung half-mast high, and blew out steadily.

My mind suddenly misgave me, and I looked for the pennant; it was also
hoisted half-mast--"Alas! alas! poor Donovan," I involuntarily
exclaimed--but loud enough to be overheard by the commodore, who stood
by--"another victim to this horrid coast."

"What is wrong, Mr Brail?" said Sir Oliver.

"I fear Mr Donovan is dead, sir.  The felucca's ensign and pennant are
half-mast, sir."

"Bless me, no--surely not!" said the excellent old man;--"hand me the
glass.--Too true--too true--where is all this to end?" said he with a
sigh.

The felucca was now within long pistol-shot of our weather-quarter,
standing across our stern, with the purpose of rounding-to under our
lee.  At this time Sir Oliver was looking out close by the tafferel,
with his trumpet in his hand.  I was again peering through the glass.
"Why, there is the strangest figure come on deck, on board the Midge,
that I ever saw--what can it be?  Sir Oliver, will you please to look
at it?"

The commodore took the glass with the greatest good-humour, while he
handed me his trumpet,--"Really," said he, "I cannot tell--Mr Sprawl,
can you?"  Sprawl--honest man--took his spell at the telescope--but
_he_ was equally unsuccessful.  The figure that was puzzling us was a
half-naked man, in his shirt and trowsers, with a large blue shawl
bound round his head, who had suddenly jumped on deck, with a hammock
thrown over his shoulders as if it had been a dressing gown; the clew
hanging half-way down his back, while the upper part of the
canvass-shroud was lashed tightly round his neck, but so as to leave
his arms and legs free scope; and there he was strutting about with the
other clew trailing away astern of him, like the train of a lady's
gown, as if he had in fact been arrayed in what was anciently called a
curricle-robe.  Over this extraordinary array there was slung a
formidable Spanish _trabuco_, or blunderbuss, across his body; and one
hand, as he walked backwards and forwards on the small confined deck of
the felucca, held a large green silk umbrella over his head, although
the sail of itself was shade enough at the time; while the other
clutched a speaking trumpet.

The craft, freighted with this uncouth apparition, was very peculiar in
appearance.  She had been a Spanish gun-boat--originally a twin-sister
to one that Gazelle had, during the war, cut out from Rosas bay.  She
was about sixty feet long over all, and seventeen feet beam; her deck
being as round as her bottom; in fact she was more like a long cask
than any thing else, but with a most beautiful run notwithstanding, and
without exception the roomiest vessel of her size that I ever saw.  She
had neither bulwarks, quarters, nor rail, nor in fact any ledge
whatever round the gunnel, so that she had no use for scuppers.  Her
stern, peaked up like a New Zealand war-canoe, tapering away to a
point, which was perforated to receive the rudder-head, while forward
she had a sharp beak, shaped like the proa of a Roman galley; but she
was as strong as wood and iron could make her--her bottom being a
perfect bed of timbers, so that they might have been caulked--and tight
as a bottle.  What answered to a bowsprit was a short thumb of a stick
about ten feet high, that rose at an angle of thirty degrees; and she
had only one mast, a strong stump of a spar, about thirty feet high,
stayed well forward, in place of raking aft; high above which rose the
large lateen sail already mentioned, with its long elastic spliced and
respliced yard tapering away up into the sky, until it seemed no
thicker than the small end of a fishing-rod when bent by the weight of
the line and bait.  It was of immense length, and consisted of more
than half a-dozen different pieces.  Its heavy iron-shod heel was
shackelled, by a chain a fathom long, to a strong iron-bar, or bolt,
that extended athwart the forepart of the little vessel, close to the
heel of the bowsprit, and to which it could be hooked and unhooked, as
need were, when she tacked, and it became necessary to jib the sail.

The outlandish-looking craft slowly approached, and we were now within
hail.  "I hope nothing is amiss with Mr Donovan?" sung out the
commodore.

"By the powers, but there is though!" promptly replied the curious
figure with the trumpet and umbrella, in a strong clear voice.--A pause.

All our glasses were by this time levelled at the vessel, and everyone
more puzzled than another what to make of it.

"Who are you, sir?" again asked the commodore.  "Where is Mr Donovan?"

Here Mr Binnacle, a midshipman on board, hailed us through his hand,
but we could not hear him; on which the man in the hammock struck him,
without any warning, across the pate with his trumpet.  The midshipman
and the rest of the crew, we could see, now drew close together
forward, and, from their gestures, seemed to be preparing to make a
rush upon the figure who had hailed.

Sir Oliver repeated his question--"Who are you, sir?"

"Who am I, did you say?  That's a good one," was the answer.

"Why, Sir Oliver," said I, "I believe _that_ is Mr Donovan himself.
Poor fellow, he must have gone mad."

"No doubt of it--it is so, sir," whistled Sprawl.

Here the crew of the felucca, led by little Binnacle, made a rush aft,
seized the lieutenant, and having overpowered him, launched their
little shallop, in which the midshipman, with two men, instantly shoved
off; but they had not paddled above half a-dozen yards from the
vessel's side, when the maniac, a most powerful man, broke from those
who held him, knocked them down, right and left, like so many
nine-pins, and seizing his _trabuco_, pointed it at the skiff, while he
sung out in a voice of thunder--"Come back, Mr Binnacle; come back, you
small villain, or I will shoot you dead."

The poor lad was cowed, and did as he was desired.

"Lower away the jolly boat," cried the commodore, in a flaming passion;
but checking himself, he continued--"Gently, men--belay there--keep all
fast with the boat, Mr Lanyard," who had jumped aft to execute the
order--"We must humour the poor fellow, after all, who is evidently not
himself."

I could hear a marine, a half crazy creature, of the name of Lennox,
who stood by, on this whisper to his neighbour--"Ay, Sir Oliver, better
fleech with a madman than fecht with him."

"Are you Mr Donovan, pray?" said the commodore, mildly, but still
speaking through the trumpet.

"I _was_ that gentleman," was the startling answer.

"Then come on board, man; come on board," in a wheedling tone.

"How would you have me to do that thing?" said poor Donovan.  "Come on
board, did you say?  Divil now, Sir Oliver, you are mighthy
unrasonable."

His superior officer was somewhat shoved off his balance by this most
extraordinary reply from his lieutenant, and rapped out, fiercely
enough--"Come on board this instant, sir, or by the Lord, I"----

"How can I do that thing, and me dead since three bells in the middle
watch last night?"  This was grumbled as it were through his trumpet,
but presently he shouted out as loud as he could bellow--"I can't come;
and, what's more, I won't; for I died last night, and am to be buried
whenever it goes eight bells at noon."

"Dead!" said the commodore, now _seriously_ angry.  "Dead, did he say?
Why, he is drunk, gentlemen, and not mad.  There is always _some_
method in madness; here there is none."  Till recollecting
himself--"Poor fellow, let me try him a little farther; but really it
is too absurd"--as he looked round and observed the difficulty both
officers and men had in keeping countenance--"Let me humour him a
little longer," continued he.  "Pray, Mr Donovan, how can you be dead,
and speaking to me now?"

"Because," said Donovan promptly, "I have a forenoon's leave from
purgatory to see myself decently buried, Sir Oliver."

Here we could no longer contain ourselves, and, notwithstanding the
melancholy and humiliating spectacle before us, a shout of laughter
burst from all hands fore and aft simultaneously, as the commodore,
exceedingly tickled, sung out--"Oh, I _see_ how it is--I see--so do
come on board, Mr Donovan, and we _will_ see you properly buried."

"You _see_, Sir Oliver!" said the poor fellow; "to be sure you do--a
blind horse might persave it."

"I say, Dennis dear," quoth I, "I will be answerable that all the
honours shall be paid you."  But the deceased Irishman was not to be
had so easily, and again refused, point-blank, to leave the Midge.

"Lower away the boat there, Mr Sprawl," said Sir Oliver; "no use in all
this; you see he won't come.  Pipe away her crew, Mr Lanyard, do you
hear?  So, brisk now--brisk--be off.  Take the surgeon with you, and
bring that poor fellow on board instantly.  Here, Brail, go too, will
ye--you are a favourite of his, and probably he will take more kindly
to you than any one else."

We shoved off--and in a twinkling we were alongside--"What cheer,
Donovan, my darling?  How are you, man, and how do you all do?"

"Ah, Benjamin, glad to see you, my boy.  I hope you have come to read
the service: I'm to be buried at noon, you know."

"Indeed!" said I, "I know nothing of the kind.  I have come on board
from the commodore to know how you are; he thought you had been ill."

"Very much obliged," continued the poor fellow; "all that sort of thing
might have brought joy some days ago--but now!"----

"Well, well, Donovan," said I, "come on board with me, and buried you
shall be comfortably from the frigate."

"Well, I will go.  This cursed sailmaker of ours has twice this morning
refused to lash me up in the hammock, because he chose to say I was not
dead; so go with you I will."

The instant the poor fellow addressed himself to enter the boat, he
shrank back like a rabid dog at water.  "I cannot--I cannot.
Sailmaker, bring the shot aft, and do lash me up in my hammock, and
heave me comfortably overboard at once."

The poor sailmaker, who was standing close to, caught my eye, and my
ear also.  "What shall I do, sir?" said he.

I knew the man to be a steady, trustworthy person.  "Why, humour him,
Warren; humour him.  Fetch the shot, and lash him up; but sling him
round the waist by a strong three-inch rope, do you hear."

The man touched his forehead, and slunk away.  Presently he returned
with the cannon-balls slung in a canvass bag, the usual receptacle of
his needles, palms, and thread, and deliberately fastened them round Mr
Donovan's legs.  He then lashed him up in the hammock, coaxing his arms
under the swathing, so that, while I held him in play, he regularly
sewed him up into a most substantial strait waistcoat.  It would have
been laughable enough, if risibility had been pardonable under such
melancholy circumstances, to look at the poor fellow as he now stood
stiff and upright, like a bolt of canvass on end, swaying about, and
balancing himself, as the vessel rolled about on the heave of the sea;
but by this time the sail-maker had fastened the rope securely round
his waist, one end of which was in the clutch of three strong fellows,
with plenty of the slack coiled down and at hand, had it proved
necessary to pay out, and give him scope.

"Now, Donovan, dear, come into the boat; do, and let us get on board,
will ye."

"Benjamin Brail--I expected kindlier thing's at your hands, Benjie.
How _can_ I go on board of the old Gazelle, seeing it has gone seven
bells" (although it was in reality five in the afternoon), "and I'm to
be hove overboard at twelve o'clock?"

I saw there was nothing else for it, so I whispered little Binnacle to
strike eight bells.  At the first chime, poor Donovan pricked up his
ear; at the second, he began to settle himself on deck; and before the
last struck, he was stretched out on a grating with his eyes closed,
and really as still and motionless as if he had been actually dead.  I
jumped on board, muttered a sentence or two, from recollection, of the
funeral service, and tipping the wink, we hove him bodily, stoop and
roop, overboard, where he sank for a couple of fathoms, when we hauled
him up again.  When he sank, he was much excited, and flushed and
feverish to look at; but when he was now got into the boat, he was
still enough, God knows, and very blue and ghastly; his features were
sharp and pinched, and he could only utter a low moaning noise when we
had stretched him along the bottom of the boat.  "Mercy!" said I,
"surely my experiment has not killed him?"  However, our best plan now
was to get back to the frigate as soon as might be, so Lanyard, who had
purposely kept in the background, now gave the word to shove off, and
in a minute we were all on the Gazelle's quarterdeck; poor Donovan
having been hoisted up, lashed into an accommodation chair.  He was
instantly taken care of, and, in our excellent surgeon's hands, I am
glad to say that he recovered, and lived to be an ornament to the
service, and a credit to all connected with him for many a long day
afterwards.

The first thing little Binnacle did was to explain to Sir Oliver that
he had been ill for three days with brain fever, having had a stroke of
the sun; but aware of the heavy responsibility of taking forcibly the
command of a vessel from one's superior officer, he was allowed to have
it all his own way until the Gazelle hove in sight.

"Pray, Mr Binnacle," said the commodore, "have you brought me the
letters and the English newspapers?"

"Yes, Sir Oliver; here they are, sir; and here is a memorandum of
several vessels expected on this part of the coast that we got from the
Cerberus, sir."

"Oh, let me see."

After a long pause, the commodore again spoke.

"Why, Mr Binnacle, I have no tidings of the vessels you speak of; but I
suppose we must stand in for the point indicated, and take our chance
of falling in with them.  But where got you all these men?  Did the
Cerberus man you?"

"No, sir, she did not.  Ten of the men were landed at Cape Coast, out
of the Tobin, Liverpool trader.  They are no great things, sir,
certainly; they had been mutinous, so the merchantman who unshipped
them chose to make the run home with five free negroes instead.  But if
they be bad, there is not much of them, for they are the smallest men I
ever saw."

The chap who spoke--little Binnacle, viz.--was not quite a giant
himself.  He was a dapper little bluejacket, about five feet two.  His
boat's, or rather his canoe's crew, were all very little men, but still
evidently full-grown, and not boys.  Every thing about the craft he had
come from was diminutive, except her late commander.  The midshipman
was small--the men were all pigmies.  The vessel herself could not have
carried one of the pyramids of Egypt.  The very bandy-legged cur that
yelped and scampered along her deck was a small cock-tailed affair that
a large Newfoundland _canis_ might easily have swallowed for his
breakfast.

After Binnacle had made his report to Sir Oliver, he, with an arch
smile, handed me the following letter, open, which I have preserved to
this hour for the satisfaction of the curious.  Many a time have I
since laughed and almost cried over this production of poor Donovan's
heated brain:--


"MY DEAR BRAIL,--When you receive this, I shall be at rest far down
amongst the tangleweed and coral branches at the bottom of the deep
green sea, another sacrifice to the insatiable demon of this evil
climate--another melancholy addition to the long list of braver and
better men who have gone before me.  Heaven knows, and I know, and
lament with much bitterness therefor, that I am ill prepared to die,
but I trust to the mercy of the Almighty for pardon and forgiveness.

"It is now a week since I was struck by a flash of lightning at
noonday, when there was not a speck of cloud in the blue sky, that
glanced like a fiery dart right down from the fierce sun, and not
having my red woollen nightcap on, that I purchased three years ago
from old Jabos of Belfast, the Jew who kept a stall near the quay, it
pierced through the skull just in the centre of the bald spot, and set
my brain a-boiling and poppling ever since, making a noise for all the
world like a buzzing bee-hive.  I therefore intend to depart this life
at three bells in the middle watch this very night, wind and weather
permitting.  Alas, alas! who shall tell this to my dear old mother,
Widow Donovan, who lives at No. 1050, in Sackville Street, Dublin, the
widest thoroughfare in Europe?--or to poor Cathleen O'Haggarty?  You
know Cathleen, Benjie; but you must never know that she has a glass
eye--Ah, yes, poor thing, she had only one eye, but that _was_ a
beauty; the other was a quaker;[2] but then she had five thousand good
sterling pounds, all in old Peter Macshane's bank at the back of the
Exchange; and so her one eye was a blessing to me; for where is the
girl with two eyes, and five thousand pounds, all lodged in Peter
Macshane's bank at the back of the Exchange, who would have looked at
Dennis Donovan, a friendless, penniless lieutenant in the Royal Navy,
and son of Widow Donovan, who lives at 1050, Sackville Street, Dublin,
the widest thoroughfare in Europe?--Ah, how Cathleen will pipe her real
eye--I wonder if she will weep with the false one--I am sure my story
might bring tears from a stone, far more a piece of glass--Oh, when she
hears I am gone, she will be after breaking her tender little
heart--Oh, murder for the notion of it--that's the thought that I can't
bear--that is the blow that kills Ned!  The last words of Dennis
Donovan, who has nothing on earth to brag of beside a mighty pretty
person and a brave soul--that's a good one.  Adieu, adieu.  God bless
the King and the Royal Family entirely.

"DENNIS DONOVAN,

"_Lieutenant, R.N., and son of Widow Donovan, who lives at_ 1050,
_Sackville Street, Dublin, the widest thoroughfare in Europe._"


[2] A sham wooden gun.


To return.

"And pray," said the commodore, "what captures may you have made in
this redoubtable man-of-war of yours--in his Britannic Majesty's
felucca, Midge?"

"Why, none, sir," said wee Middy, blushing; "but I hope you will soon
put us in the way of having a brush, sir."

"We shall see, we shall see," said the good-hearted old sailor; "but
come and take a glass of wine, Mr Binnacle, and after you have told Mr
Lanyard all about the Midge, what she _has_, and _wants_, &c., get on
board again, and keep near us for the evening.--I say, Mr Steelpen," to
his clerk, who was lounging about, "Come to the cabin, now, will you,
and draw out Mr Lanyard's instructions, as Mr Garboard is still
confined to his cot."

This was the second lieutenant, who had been ill for a week with fever.

The moment I knew Lanyard was going in the Midge, I determined to
accompany him if possible, so I asked the commodore's leave--hinting,
that my knowledge of the rivers might be of use.  He laughed.

"Pilot, indeed--mind you don't evaporate in one of your pilotings, and
then what shall I say to your friends, Master Benjamin?"

I pressed my suit.

"Why, my good boy, you had better not--take my word for it, if you
carry on in this way, you will either get your head broken, or be
caught by one of these infernal marsh fevers, which will be worse."

"No fear, Sir Oliver, I am a seasoned cask--do give me leave--I shall
be back in a week."

"Well, well, as you please, my young master."

And it was at once so fixed.

Lanyard heard the order given, and instantly set about getting his kit
arranged for his departure, although he seemed to think it would have
been more pleasing in his excellent captain had he appeared to have
consulted him a little on the subject; but to hear was to obey, and
Dick was quite ready to move by the time he was sent for to receive his
orders, when I adjourned to the cabin also, to say good by.  Sir Oliver
was sitting at his wine; and so soon as the steward had left us to
ourselves, the knight rang the bell, the cord of which, ending in a
handsome brass handle, hung within a foot of his head.

"Potter, send the first lieutenant here."

Sprawl was in immediate attendance.

"Glad to see you, Mr Sprawl; sit down, and take wine."

After a pause--

"Do you think, if the breeze holds, that we shall make the land again
before morning, Mr Sprawl?"

"No, sir, for we have run thirty miles off since morning, and there is
no appearance of any wind at present; but we should be able,
notwithstanding, to beat up to it by noon to-morrow."

"Very well.  Pray, Mr Lanyard, how many men, counting the strangers,
are there on board?"

"Thirty-three, sir, all told."

"And the gun she carries?"

"A long twelve, sir, with a six-inch howitzer affair fitted forward,
for throwing grape."

"Do you think you could stow ten men more, comfortably?"

Dick had been on board of his new command before he came down, and had
made such passing observations as the time permitted.

"Why, I daresay, for a few days we might, sir."

"Then send your purser, or whoever may be acting for him, aboard this
evening."

The lieutenant made his bow, whipped off his glass, and went on deck to
be off.  It was getting dark fast--the wind had risen suddenly--the
frigate had been carrying top-gallant sails up to the time I had gone
below, but they were now handed, and the watch were in the act of
taking a reef in the top-sails.

"Whereabouts is the felucca?" said I to the officer of the watch, the
old gunner, who, in the absence of Mr Garboard, the second lieutenant,
who, as already stated, was sick and in his cot, had charge of the deck.

"Close to, sir," was the reply; but presently he continued, looking
over the side, "Deuce take me, sir, if I can see her just at this
present"----

"You don't?  I say, quartermaster, do you see the small craft down to
leeward there?"

"No, sir.  I sees nothing of her; but she can't be far away, sir, as
she was close to, within this last half hour."

By this time the night had fallen with a heavy dew and a thick haze.
Presently we saw a small spark down to leeward.

"Ah," said the man again, "there she is; she is in chase of something,
sir."

"What can they mean?" said Lanyard.  "They know they cannot follow out
their chase when I am on board here."

The riddle was soon read.  Little Binnacle had returned on board, and,
as it turned out, he was determined to have some fun, in the
interregnum between the unshipping of poor Donovan and Lanyard's
appointment.

"What is that abeam of us?" said Mr Sprawl, who had now come on
deck.--"Hand me up the night-glass, Jeremy."

He worked away with it for some time.  At length Lanyard spoke.

"Why, Sprawl, will you have the kindness to fire a gun, and show a
light at the mizen peak, as the felucca _must_ be hereabouts?"

"True enough, Lanyard, she cannot be far off, but"----Here we saw
another flash, and this time we heard the report of the
cannon--"There," continued the first lieutenant,--"there she is, sure
enough; but how the devil can you expect her to come up to us, seeing
she is cut off by that large craft there?"  And he pointed a-beam of
us, where, following the direction indicated, I soon saw a large
vessel, standing under easy sail, on the same tack.

"Quartermaster," exclaimed Sprawl, "keep her away, and edge down
towards that chap, will ye?"

The commodore was now on deck.

"I was on the point of reporting to you, sir, that the felucca was a
good way off to leeward, apparently cut off by a strange sail, that is
sculling along right between us," said David Doublepipe.

"Whereabouts," said the captain, "whereabouts is this strange sail?
And why the deuce did the felucca not fire a gun?"

"She did, sir," answered the lieutenant, "but I could not divine what
she would be at, as she did not make the night-signal."

"True enough," said Lanyard.--"I daresay all the signals and
instructions, and every thing else, are locked up on board, sir.  May I
therefore request the favour of your standing down to her, or I don't
see how we shall manage at all?"

The weather now cleared, and the fog rose, or blew past.  Another flash
down to leeward, in the direction of the felucca, and presently she
burned a blue light, which cast a lurid wake on the rolling waters,
cresting the sparkling waves with a wavering line of unearthly light.
It lit up the little vessel and her white sail, and the whole horizon
in her neighbourhood, with a blue ghostly glare, across which, as a
bright background, we suddenly saw the tall spars, dark sails, and
opake hull of a large polacre brig intervene, as she gradually slid
along, rising and falling majestically on the midnight sea, between us
and the tender.

"Ah ha!" said the commodore.  "Why, Master Brail, your retreat is cut
off, and all the honour and glory will be gathered by the Midges
without you, for there the brig is bearing up--there, she has made us
out, and if the little fellows don't get out of her way, she will run
them down."

The black bank in the east now broke away, the newly risen moon shone
out bright and suddenly, and we distinctly saw the polacre crowding all
sail from us, with the gallant little Midge to leeward of him about
half a mile, under easy sail, apparently waiting for him, and standing
directly across the bows of his large antagonist, into which he once
more fired his long gun, and then as he came down, he luffed up, and
hove a capful of grape into him from his howitzer.  The chase up to
this time had not fired a shot, but continued to crowd all sail, the
little fellow now sticking in his skirts like a bur.

The night began to lower again; the wind fell from a fine working
breeze to nearly calm, and the rain soon began to descend in torrents.
At length it became stark calm, and as dark as the shrouded moon would
let it.  But every now and then we could see a tiny flash in the
south-east, that for a moment lit up the outline of the black sail of
the felucca, making the sweeps and figures of the men that pulled them
appear as black as ebony between us and the flash of the forwardmost
gun, which, on the other hand, glanced brightly against the stern,
sparkled in the windows, and lighted up the snow-white sails of the
brig, in pursuit of which the felucca had again bore up; the wreaths of
smoke rising and surrounding both vessels, like a luminous cloud, or a
bright halo.  Presently the peppering of musketry commenced from the
Midge, which showed she was overhauling the strange sail, and was
immediately returned from the chase, who now lowered his jolly-boat,
and began to fire for the first time from his stern chasers.  This was
in turn brilliantly replied to by the felucca, when all at once the
dark lateen sail came down between us and the bright flashes by the
run; on which her fire ceased, the breeze sprung up again, and all was
dark.  We stood on for ten minutes, when we saw a light right ahead,
and before we could shorten sail, were alongside of the felucca--the
little vessel, now a confused heap of black wreck, appearing to slide
past us like an object seen from a carriage window when travelling
rapidly; although it was the frigate that was in motion, while the
Midge lay like a log on the water.  Presently the _wee_
midshipman--Master Binnacle, who had returned on board of her, as
ordered, early in the evening--hailed.

"He is too big for us, sir; he has shot away our main haul-yards, and
hurt three of our men."

"Heave the ship to," said the commodore; "and, Mr Lanyard, go on board
with a boat's crew, take the carpenter with you, and see what is wrong.
Keep close by us till morning; or here,--take him in tow, Mr
Sprawl,"--to the first lieutenant,--"take him in tow."

We went on board Dick's forlorn command, and found the little vessel a
good deal cut up, in hulls, sails, and rigging, and three Midges
wounded, but none of them seriously.  They were sent on board the
frigate, which made all sail in chase, but next morning, when the day
broke, all that we could see of the polacre was a small white speck of
her royal, like the wing of a sea-gull, on our leebow; presently she
vanished entirely.

The breeze continued to freshen, and we carried on; in the afternoon we
made the land, near the mouth of the river we had been blockading, and
after having run in as close as we thought safe, we hove-to for the
night, determined to finish the adventure on the morrow.

By day-break, we were close in with the mouth of the estuary, but we
could see nothing of the polacre, and as the climate was none of the
wholesomest, we were making up our minds to be off again before the
night fell; when a canoe was seen coming down the muddy flow of the
river, which, even a mile or more at sea, preserved its thick brown
chocolate colour; with a square blanket for a sail, and manned by half
a dozen naked negroes.  She approached, and a rope was hove to her,
when she sheered alongside, and the steersman came on board.  He was a
wild uncultivated savage, and apparently did not understand a word of
English, Spanish, or French, but by signs we enquired of him if he had
seen any thing of the brig we were pursuing?  He indicated, after his
manner, that a big canoe had run up the river with that morning's tide,
and was now at anchor above the reach in sight.  However, his only
object appeared to be to sell his yams and fruit, with which his boat
was loaded.  And after he had done so, and we had gotten all the
information we could out of him, he shoved off; and we prepared to
ascend the river in the felucca, reinforced by ten supernumeraries from
the frigate, and accompanied by three of her boats, manned with thirty
men and fourteen marines, under the command of Mr Sprawl, in order to
overhaul our friend of the preceding evening.



CHAPTER II.

THE ATTACK.

We stood in, and as we approached I went aloft on the little stump of a
mast to look about me.  The leaden-coloured sea generally becomes
several shades lighter in tropical countries as you approach the shore,
unless the latter be regularly up and down, and deep close to.  In the
present instance, however, although it gradually shoaled, the blue
water, instead of growing lighter and greener, and brightening in its
approach to the land; became gradually of a chocolate colour, as the
turbid flow of the river feathered out like a fan, all round the mouth
of it.  But as the tide made, the colour changed, by the turgid stream
being forced back again, and before it was high water, the bar was
indicated by a semicircle of whitish light green, where the long swell
of the sea gradually shortened, until it ended in small tumbling waves
that poppled about and frothed as if the ebullitions had been hove up
and set in motion by some subterraneous fire.  But, as yet, the water
did not break on any part of the crescent-shaped ledge of sand.

In the very middle of the channel there were three narrow streaks of
blue water.  We chose the centre one; and while the frigate hove-to in
the offing, dashed over with a fine breeze, that, from the eddy round
the point to windward, was nearly a fair wind up the river.  For a
minute I thought we were in some peril when passing the _boiling_ water
on the bar; but presently we were gliding along the smooth surface of
the noble river.

On rounding the first point, right in the middle of the stream lay our
friend of the preceding night, moored stem and stern, with boarding
nettings up, and Spanish colours flying at the mizen-peak; but we could
see no one on board.  Sprawl therefore called a halt, and made the men
lie on their oars, as some savage pranks had lately been played by
slavers in these rivers, such as laying trains to their magazines when
they found capture inevitable, and various other pleasant little
surprises, one of which generally served a man for a lifetime.  So
being desirous of avoiding all chance of a hoist of this kind, we
dropped anchor in the felucca, and got the boats alongside, all to the
cutter, which was sent to pull round the polacre and reconnoitre.  On
the officer returning, he said he had seen nothing.  We therefore
determined to remain quiet for some time longer, to give any trick of
the nature glanced at, time to develope itself.  We lay for two hours
under the most intense heat I ever remember; the sun was absolutely
broiling us alive, for there was not the least breath of air, and the
surface of the sluggish river was one polished sheet of silver--the low
swampy banks being covered with mangrove bushes and dwarf palms,
preventing any breeze there might be from finding its way to us.

"Now," said Lieutenant Sprawl, "this is really very unentertaining.  I
say, Benjie, my dear, I think I had better pull under the stern of the
polacre to reconnoitre a bit.  I will take care that I do not go too
near."

"I see no objections to it," said I, "none in the world; but mind your
hand, my hearty--don't go too far, as they are slippery chaps these
same slaving gentry--that _I_ can tell you."

The boat shoved off--we were eating our hasty dinner on deck at the
moment--and proceeded without let or hinderance until she arrived
within pistol-shot of the polacre, when lo! from amongst the green
bushes on the river bank, about musket-shot from them, a burst of white
smoke flew up, and several round shot hopped along the calm surface,
stirring up the water with whizzing splashes.  The next moment the
shrieks of the cutter's crew gave notice that they had told in a
fearful manner.  We looked out a-head.  The wreck of the boat, with
eight of her crew, including the lieutenant, holding on by it, came
floating down to us; she had been knocked to pieces by the fire of the
masked battery that had so unexpectedly opened, but the poor devils
were promptly picked up; all to one unfortunate fellow who had been
killed and now floated past us on his back, with his chest up, and his
head down.  Old Davie Doublepipe scrambled on board, in nowise greatly
put out by his rough reception.

"Why now," said he, "a surprise of this kind is extremely inconvenient."

"But where the deuce came the shot from?" said I.

"The devil only knows," quoth he; "every thing seemed as quiet as could
be, when all at once--crash--the shot took us right amidships, and the
next moment we were all floundering in the water, like so many pigs
overboard."

"Well, well, lucky it is no worse," rejoined honest Dick Lanyard; "but
I say, Master Marline," to the senior midshipman of the frigate, who
commanded one of the other boats, "we can't lie here to be murdered, so
strike out for the polacre, keeping t'other side of the river, and her
hull between you and the skulkers; then pull straight for her, but haul
off if you see any one on board; and if any annoyance is offered from
the shore this time, I will weigh and give our concealed friends a dose
of grape."

The boat shoved off, and pulled towards the enemy in the manner
directed.  All was quiet until she reached within ten yards of her,
when a blaze of six pieces of cannon at the fewest once more took
place, and eddies of smoke again gushed from the bushes.  The boat
instantly took the hint, put about, and returned to us.  Her stern had
been nearly knocked to pieces, and she was leaking so much, that by the
time she was alongside, she was full of water, and the men had only
time to get out, when she sank to the gunwale.

"By the powers!" said Lanyard, driven off his balance, cool as he was,
"but there is mighty little fun in all this.  What see you, my
man?"--to one of the people who had scrambled up the long yard to
reconnoitre from whence the shots had proceeded; but he could give no
information.  The smoke rolled away down the dull river in white
wreaths, growing more and more gauzelike and transparent, as they
passed us, and all was quiet, and green, and noiseless on the bank as
before; while the sun continued to shine down on us with the same
sickening intensity, heating the thick unwholesome air, until it was
almost unfit for breathing.

"Something must be done," said I--"we must dislodge these fellows or be
off, that is clear."

"Do you think," said Lanyard, addressing himself to the discomfited
first lieutenant, who was shaking his feathers, and drying himself as
well as he could, "that there is water for us to sheer alongside where
these scoundrels are ensconced?"

"I consider there must be," said he, "but we had better remain quiet
where we are until night, if they will let us, so that we may be off
with the ebb if need be."

The advice was good and discreet.  So Old Bloody Politeful, Dick
Lanyard, and I set to clean our beautiful persons, and make ourselves
as comfortable as our scanty means permitted, while the men did the
same.  It was now near five P.M., and the tide began to flow again.  As
there were two good hours daylight still, we determined to prove our
friends a little further, rather than lie inactive any longer--the same
restless feeling had spread to the men.

"The tide is on the turn now, sir," said the old quartermaster.

"Then all hands up anchor--weigh, and sweep in close to that dwarf palm
there."

The smoke had come from a spot close under its shade.

"Hurrah!" shouted the men.

The anchor was catted--the sweeps were manned--the guns were loaded
with grape--the marines stood to their arms, and in five minutes we
were once more at anchor, with the two boats in tow, within half-pistol
shot of the bank.  All remained still.  Not a breath stirred the leaves
of the mangrove bushes, or the jungle of wild cane that grew close to
the river brink.  I was sure we were directly opposite the spot from
whence the shots were fired.

Whenever we were fairly settled in our position, we let drive both
guns.  The grape pattered in the water, and rattled amongst the leaves
of the trees, but all continued still as death.  We loaded and fired
again; but as we had only one boat untouched, Mr Sprawl determined,
instead of attempting a landing, in order to cope with enemies whom we
could not see, to weigh and sweep towards the brig again, with the
intention, if opportunity offered, of boarding her.  But the moment we
turned our stern to the shore, and began to pull in that
direction--bang--several cannon were again fired at us, in this
instance loaded with round and grape, but fortunately missed us this
time.

"Pull, men, like fury; give way, and clap the hull of the brig between
you and our honest friends there."  Crack--another rally from the
masked battery; the next minute, we had swept round the stern of the
polacre, and were alongside.  Lanyard laid hold of the manrope--"Now,
men, there can be no tricks here, or they would have shown themselves
before now; so, follow me."  The rope gave in his grasp, and a gun
exploded on board.  Dick fell back on the deck of the felucca.  "Cast
off your fastenings, and sheer off, my lads, or we may get a hoist we
don't dream of."

At this instant the battery on shore began to play in earnest; not in
broadsides, but by single guns, as fast as they could pepper; some of
the shot coming through and through both sides of the polacre.  We
immediately hauled off for the opposite bank of the river, but took the
ground on a bank, where the current, setting strong down, jammed us
hard and fast.  We were about two cables' length from the brig at this
time, and the sun was now near setting.  The firing continued, the
flashes became brighter, the smoke began, as the sky darkened, to grow
luminous, and presently the polacre appeared to be sinking.  "She is
settling fast down forward," said I; "by St Patrick, she is sinking,
sure enough,--there--there she goes; what a list to port she is
getting!"  She slowly fell over on her beam-ends, in the mud, with
every thing under water but about ten feet of the quarter bulwark next
us, and the masts and rigging; which the setting sun was now gilding.
The long shadows of the palms on the western bank now gradually crept
across the whole breadth of the unwholesome stream, chasing the
blood-red gleam of the sinking sun, first from the water, and then from
the eastern bank, where it lingered for a moment, on the topmost
branches of the trees, from which it also speedily disappeared, until
the only objects that vouched for his being still above the horizon,
were the wand-like tops of the polacre's tall masts, that shone like
burnished brass rods for a brief moment; and then blackened under the
fast falling darkness, which rapidly shrouded the whole melancholy
scene; while creeping churchyard-looking vapours, as if the pestilence
no longer walked in darkness, but had become palpable to the senses of
sight, smell, and feeling, shrouded every object on the shores from our
view, like a London fog.  Myriads of musquittoes now began to attack us
in every way, and several white cranes flitted past and around us, like
ghosts, sailing slowly on their wide-spread wings; the chirping and
croaking of numberless insects and reptiles came off strong from the
banks, borne on the putrid exhalations that were like to poison us; the
rushing of the river, that in the daytime we could scarcely hear, now
sounded loud and hoarse, and rippled, lip, lipping against the stem as
we lay aground, before circling away in dark frothy eddies in our wake.

We lay still for several hours without seeing any light, or hearing any
noises on shore that indicated the vicinity of our dangerous
neighbours.  Once tempted by the apparent quietude, the boat shoved off
a stroke or two in the direction of the polacre, with the intention of
setting fire to her, if possible; but when within pistol-shot of their
object, a loud voice from the shore sang out in a threatening
tone--"_Cuidado_"[1] when the officer wisely pulled round, and returned
to us.


[1] Literally--Take care--mind your eye.


We could hear the frigate in the offing through the livelong night,
firing signal guns every ten minutes, which we durst not answer,
without the certainty of being speedily blown to pieces by our
invisible antagonists.  About ten o'clock, I went along with little
Binnacle, in one of the boats with muffled oars, and made directly for
the bank opposite where he had been fired at; on a nearer approach, I
found it to be free of mangroves, and to consist of a black overhanging
_scaur_, that had been scarped out by the rush of the stream, reflected
across from the jutting point on the side where the slavers had
intrenched themselves.  All continued still, and here we skulked for a
full hour, when we stole out, and pulled gently towards the wreck, the
hull of which, either from a fresh in the river, or the rising of the
tide, was now entirely under water.  But we had not advanced above
fifty yards towards our object, when the same unearthly "_beware_"
swung booming along the water; reflected in a small echo from the
opposite side, as if a water fiend had been answered by a spirit of the
air.  We got back to the felucca, and now made up our minds to while
away the time until the day broke, in the best way we could.  All hands
being set to cooper the damaged boat, of which we contrived to make a
very tolerable job, so that she leaked very little.

The lieutenant in command, Lanyard, and I, now went below, and
immediately sent for the three midshipmen detached on the same service.
We had some grog and a piece of rancid mess beef, and as turning in was
out of the question, we planked it on the deck and lockers, and by the
help of boat cloaks and blankets, were endeavouring to make ourselves
as comfortable as we could, when the sound of a cannon-shot was once
more heard.

"Why, what the deuce," said I, "we are making no movement--what can the
fellows mean?"

There was no saying; they might, from the success they had met with in
neutralizing the attempts of the boats to disturb them, or destroy the
wreck, have overvalued the strength of their position, for this shot
had been aimed at us; we had now plenty of water, so we instantly
weighed, and dropped down the river out of range.  All now remained
quiet until the day dawned, and streaks of dull grey appeared in the
eastern horizon.  There was not a single warm tint in the sky, although
we were in a regular vapour-bath of pestilential effluvia, and were any
thing but cold.  An hour before daylight the fog again sank down on us
even thicker than before, so that every thing was hid from our view
beyond ten paces' distance; but as it drew nearer sunrise, this watery
canopy rose, and gradually evaporated in a dropping mist, until the
gorgeous east once more reassumed its glowing blush, and the stars
sparkled brightly as the fast reddening firmament gave token that day
was at hand.  The sun rose--

"Midge, ahoy," sang out a voice from the bow of a boat, that had on the
instant stuck its snout round the point below us.  Before we could
answer, the yawl, full of enquiring messmates, was alongside.

"Hillo, Master Sprawl--hillo, Master Brail; Lanyard, my boy, what sort
of an afternoon have you spent?--Slept sound, eh?--But why the devil
did you keep blazing away and wasting his Majesty's powder in minute
guns in this way; what _were_ you after the whole night through?" sung
out old Pumpbolt, the master of the Gazelle.

"Come on board, my lad," said Sprawl--"come on board, will ye, and you
shall hear the whole story."

They did so, and after a lengthier explanation than the reader would
willingly listen to, it was determined, reinforced as we now were, that
if we could make out the whereabouts of the fort that had so annoyed
us, we should make a dash at it, even were we to have broken heads in
prospect.  As to attacking the battery in front, where there was no
standing ground, it was utterly out of the question; so, as the tide
was now low ebb, and the slaver nearly high and dry on the bank,
although, in the hole we had dropped into, the felucca was floating
quietly out of cannon-shot, we left her in charge of ten hands, and
crowding the other boats, three in all (the damaged boat having been
repaired, as already mentioned), dropped down with the current along
shore, our whole force amounting to six-and-forty seamen and twenty
marines; and keeping a bright look-out for the smallest gap in the
mangroves that could afford an entrance.  At length we did arrive at
such an opening; it was a narrow creek, about thirty feet broad,
overhung with the everlasting mangrove, which formed an arch overhead
by the weaving of the thickly leaved branches together, utterly
impervious to the sun's rays.  I was in the sternmost boat; the next to
me was commanded by the first lieutenant of the frigate, old Davie
Doublepipe; and as we sculled along in the clear creek, for here it was
translucent as a mountain lake, whatever the water might be in the
river, our boats were touching, stem and stern.  Sprawl, whose
experience of the coast, and, still more, of expeditions of this kind,
greatly surpassed my own, immediately asked me to shift from aft where
I sat, forward to the bow of the boat; the men continuing to pole
along, as there was no room for them to ply their oars.

"I say, Master Brail," quoth he--as soon as we could communicate
without being overheard--"supposing we do carry his position--_cui
bono_, what advantageth it us?  The slaves, which, when the Midge first
saw the polacre, and chased him, were on board, are without question
once more back into cover, and must all have been landed; so if we
could even weigh the hooker, and carry her to Cape Coast, I very much
fear we should be unable to condemn her."

"But the honour and glory?" quoth old Dick.

"Both be--ahem," quoth he; "but if you think it an object to have a
brush, why, come along, my hearties, it is all the day's work."

I was a younger man by ten years than our friend, and, boylike, gloried
in the opportunity; so we again began to scull along the creek,
sheltered by the same umbrageous screen of mangroves, now so luxuriant
that it shut out both sun and light as if it had been a continuous
artificial arbour.  I cannot describe the beauty and coolness of this
shade--water clear and pellucid as crystal under foot; a long distinct
view through forests of naked mangrove stems on each side, while aloft
there was a perfect web of verdure resting on the trelliswork formed by
the interlacing of their bows, which spread out in a delicious covering
over the whole creek.  We dislodged innumerable birds of every variety,
from the tall floating ghostlike crane to the chattering paroquet; and
more than one owl flitted away from us, and flew up through the
branches, until the sun struck him, when, with a _flaff_ and a rustling
_brush_ through the topmost leaves, he came down overhead like a shot;
until, restored by the green twilight, he would recover himself, and
once more sail away along the narrow creek, and disappear round the
corner of it ahead of us.  In one instance, a boy in the bow struck one
down with a boat-hook, so that the bird fell against Lieutenant
Sprawl's head as he sat in the stern-sheets of the boat ahead.

"Hillo, Brail, my man," quoth he, "where away--what _are_ you after?"

This narrow canal was absolutely alive with fish--they surrounded us on
all sides; and although we could discern some dark suspicious-looking
figures at the bottom, which we conjectured to be alligators; still
there was no perceptible motion amongst them, and we continued to pull
quietly until the head-most boat took the ground for a moment, and the
others closed upon her.

"What is that?" sung out old Bloody Politeful.

"Lord only knows," answered the midshipman beside him, as a loud
snorting noise, approaching to a roar, a sound that hovered between the
blowing of a whale and the bellowing of a bull half choked in a marsh,
echoed along the green arch.

"Now, what customer can that be?" quoth your humble servant.

"A hippopotamus," said one of the launch's crew; and before we could
hear any thing more, an animal, with a coarse black leather skin, and a
most formidable head, about the size of a small Highland cow (it must
have been but a young one), floundered down the creek past us, stirring
up the mud as thick as tar all round about--but we had other work in
hand, so he escaped without a shot.  We pulled on, and presently the
mangroves settled down right across the narrow creek, twisting their
snake-like branches together into an impervious net.  Ahead, our course
was thus most effectually stopped by this ligneous portcullis, but
close to the obstacle a small muddy path branched off to the right, and
we determined to follow it.

It appeared a good deal poached, as if from the passing of a number of
people recently along it; and we had not proceeded above twenty yards
when we came upon a spare studding-sail boom, to which some heavy
weight had been attached, for two slings were fastened round it,
showing, by the straight and wire-like appearance of the rope, how
severe the strain had been; the spar itself was broken in the midst, as
if the weight attached to it had been more than it could bear.

"Aha," thought I, "we are getting near the earth of the fox any
how--the scent is high."

We carried on.  The path became more and more cut up, but no other
evidences of our being on the proper trail occurred; and as we could
not fall in with a tree tall enough to afford us a glimpse of the lay
of the land about us, had we ascended it, we had no alternative but to
stand on.

"No chance of doing any good here," grumbled an old quartermaster,
close to where I was struggling nearly knee-deep in mud.  "We shall
catch nothing but fever here."

"Hillo!" said a little middy, as we braced up sharp round a
right-angled corner of the pestiferous path--"hillo, the road stops
here;" and so it certainly appeared to do about pistol-shot, or nearer,
ahead of us, where a mound of fresh cut prickly bushes was heaped up
about six feet high right across the path.  Whether this was a casual
interruption thrown up by the natives, or an impediment cast in our way
by our concealed _amigos_, I could not tell.  A loud barking of dogs
was now heard ahead of us--presently a halt was called, and the word
was passed along to see that the priming of the muskets was dry and
sound; and all of us instinctively drew his cutlass a finger's breadth
or so from its sheath, to see that it would come readily to one's hand,
should need be.  The first lieutenant, who, disdaining the common ship
cutlass, had buckled on a most enormous Andrea Ferrara with a huge
rusty basket-hilt, advanced boldly towards the enclosure, when a
smooth-faced, very handsome dark young man suddenly raised his head
above the green defence--"_Que quieren ustedes, amigos mios_?"

"What's that to you?" rejoined Sprawl; "give us a clear road, my
darling, or maybe we shall cooper you, after a very comical fashion."

We had scarcely uttered the words when a discharge of grape burst from
the green mound, crashing amongst the branches, and sending them down
in a shower on our heads; while all the neighbouring trees, like
Jacob's wands, became, in the twinkling of an eye, patched with white
spots, from the rasping of the shot.

"Forward!" shouted Davie Doublepipe--"follow me, men!" when--rattle--a
platoon of musketry was fired at us.  The grape had missed, from a
wrong elevation of the gun; not so the small arms--one of our party was
shot dead and three wounded; but the spring was nevertheless made.  We
scrambled across the brushwood that had been heaped on the road, and to
the top of the stockade, about six feet high, that it masked, and
presently found ourselves in the presence of thirty determined fellows,
who were working like fiends in the endeavour to slew round seven
eighteen-pound carronades, that had been mounted on a stage of loose
planks, and pointed towards the river.  Apparently they had been unable
to accomplish this with more than one, the gun that had just been
fired, which in the recoil had slid off the platform, and was now
useless, from sinking in the semisolid black soil, two of the others
having already, in the attempt to train them round on us, capsized and
sunk right out of sight in it.  So aid from the cannon they now had
none; but never did men show a more daring front--as they stood their
ground, exchanging blow for blow most manfully.

The fort, or battery, was a stockaded enclosure, about fifty yards
square.  Towards the river face, before we attempted to turn it, the
guns had been mounted on a stage of loose planks, a most unstable
foundation, from resting on running mud.  The brushwood between them
and the river grew thick and close, and opposite the muzzle of each
cannon the leaves were scorched and blackened.  The wooden platform
extended about twelve feet in breadth landward, but beyond it the whole
inside of the fort was soft black mud, through which, on the side
farthest from the river, protruded the stumps of the haggled brushwood,
where it had been cleared by the hatchet; while branches were thickly
strewed on the surface nearer the guns, to afford a footing across it.
These branches, however, had been removed for a space of ten feet, at
the spot we boarded at, where the slimy ground appeared poached into a
soft paste, so that no footing might be afforded to an attacking force.

The desperadoes already mentioned, were all armed with boarding pikes,
or cutlasses, while several had large brass bell-mouthed _trabucos_, or
blunderbusses, which threw five or six musket-balls at a discharge.
Most of them were naked to their trowsers, and they all wore a blue,
yellow, or red sash, drawn tight round the waist, through which several
had pistols stuck; while their heads were covered, in general, by a
blue or red cloth cap, like a long stocking, to the end of which was
fastened a thick silk or woollen tassel, either hanging down the back,
or falling over the side of the head.  Some wore shirts of a striped
woollen stuff, common amongst the Biscayan boatmen.  One elderly man, a
large athletic Hercules of a fellow, bareheaded, and very bald; with
his trowsers rolled up to his knees, displaying his dark brawny legs
and naked feet, dressed in one of the aforesaid striped shirts, and
wearing a broad-brimmed, narrow conical-crowned hat, with a flaming red
riband tied round it close to the spreading brim, stood in advance of
the others, with a _trabuco_ in his hand, the piece held in a way that
it might be instantly levelled at us.

These ferocious-looking rascals had most formidable auxiliaries, in
three Spanish blood-hounds, as yet held in leather-leashes; but who
were jumping and struggling, open-mouthed, and barking, and panting to
get at us, until they were almost strangled; their eyes straining in
their heads, or rather starting from their sockets, as they champed and
dashed the foam right and left from their coal-black muzzles.  They
were indeed superb creatures, all three of a bright bay colour, and
about the height of a tall English stag-hound; but much stronger, as if
there had been a cross of the bull-dog in their blood.  The moment
Lieutenant Sprawl stuck his very remarkable snout over the stockade,
several of us having scrambled up abreast of him, the man already
mentioned as apparently the leader of the party hailed--

"_Que quieren ustedes--somos Españoles--y unde esta la guerra entre
ustedes i nosotros._"

He was answered by a volley from all our pieces, and simultaneously, in
the struggle to get over, half-a-dozen of us tumbled down, right into
the soft mud; those who had the luck to fall on their feet sank to
their knees in an instant, whilst several who fell head foremost, left
a beautiful cast of their phrenological developements in the mire.  We
fought with all our might, you may imagine, to extricate ourselves, but
two out of the group were instantly pinned in their clay moulds, by the
boarding-pikes of the slaver's crew, and died miserably where they
fell, while several others were wounded by shot; but more of our
fellows continued to pour in after us, and there we soon were, thirty
men at the fewest, struggling and shouting, and blazing away, using the
dead bodies of our fallen comrades as stepping-stones to advance over;
while about fifteen more, as a reserve under little Binnacle, had
perched themselves on the top of the stockade in our rear, and kept
pouring in a most destructive fire over our heads.  The yells of the
men, and the barking and worrying of the dogs, who had now been let
loose, and who were indiscriminately attacking whoever was next them,
were appalling in the highest degree.

The bipeds whoso manfully opposed us, it was our duty and our glory to
encounter; but the dogs were the very devil,--altogether out of our
reckoning.  It was curious to see those who feared not the face of man,
hanging back, and looking behind them to see if the coast was clear for
a bolt, when attacked by one of the bloodhounds.  So our antagonists,
although so largely overmatched in numbers, had, from the ferocity of
their allies, and the soundness of their footing, the advantage over
us, and made good their position on the wooden stage, notwithstanding
all our attempts to dislodge them; and they were in the act of getting
another of the carronades, no doubt loaded with grape, slewed round and
pointed at us, when five marines, who had scrambled through the brake,
took them in flank, and attacked them from the sea face, with
unexampled fury.  The serjeant of the party instantly shot the leader
of the Spanish crew in the back, between the shoulders, when he made a
staggering rush, and to my utter consternation bore me to the ground,
and then fell forward right on the top of me.  Oh for the mahogany desk
jammed into the pit of my stomach, thought I; all your accounts are
closed, Master Benjie.  Still in my dreams I often fancy that I feel
the convulsive clutches of the dying man, and the hot blood gurgling
from his mouth, down my neck, and the choking gasp, and the death
quiver.

I was not stunned however, although I must have been overlaid some
time, for when I wriggled myself clear of the horrible load, our
fellows had already gained the platform, led by old Davie Doublepipe,
who was laying about him with his rusty weapon like a Paladin of old;
at one moment shredding away showers of twigs from the branches that
overhung us; at another inflicting deep and deadly gashes on his
antagonists; his sword raining blood, as he whirled it round his head
flashing like lightning; while his loud growl, like the roaring of the
surf after a gale, alternated rapidly with his _tootletoo_, that gushed
shrill and sharp from out the infernal noise and smoke and blaze of the
tumult.  The Gazelles and Midges had now closed hand to hand with their
antagonists, and the next minute the survivors of the latter fairly
turned tail, and fled along a narrow path, equally muddy as the one we
had entered by; where many of them stuck up to the knees, and were
there shot down by our people, but no attempt was made to follow them.
Several men had been terribly torn by the bloodhounds, who, when their
masters had fled, noble brutes as they were, stood gasping and barking;
and handling at us, at the entrance of the opening.  thus covering
their retreat;--spouting out in abound or two towards us every now and
then, and immediately retiring, and yelling and barking at the top of
their pipes.  I was going to fire at one of them, when the Scotch
corporal of marines, already introduced on the scene, took the liberty
of putting in his oar.  "Beg pardon, Mr Brail, but let abee for let
abee with mad dogs and daft folk, is an auld but a very true adage."  I
looked with an enquiring eye at the poor fellow, who appeared worn to
the bone with illness, so that I was puzzled to understand how Sprawl
had brought him with him; but I took his hint, and presently the canine
rear-guard beat a retreat, and all was quiet for a time.

We now spiked the cannon and capsized them into the mud, where they
instantly sank, and I had time to look around on the scene of conflict.
There lay two of our people stark and stiff, countersunk into the soft
soil, which was gradually settling over the bodies in a bloody mire;
while four wounded men were struggling to extricate themselves, and
endeavouring to attain the hard footing of the platform of planks.
Three of them, with the assistance of their mess-mates, did accomplish
this, but the fourth was too badly hurt, and too faint from the loss of
blood, to persevere, and in despair threw himself back, gasping on the
bloody quagmire.

"What is that?" said I, while half a dozen dropping shots sparkled out
from beneath the thick jungle, and at the very instant one of the
boat-keepers stuck his head over the stockade.

"The tide has left us, sir, and the mouth of the creek has not six
inches of water in it, sir.  The boats must stick hard and fast until
next flood."

Startling enough this.  What was to be done?  To retreat, for the time,
was out of the question, so we had no chance but in a forward
demonstration.

"After these miscreants, men," cried old Sprawl, having previously
ordered ten hands back to cover the boats--"after them, and drive them
from the jungle."

"Hurrah!"  We shoved along the narrow path through which the enemy had
vanished, and the first we overtook was a poor devil shot through the
neck, writhing in agony, and endeavouring to extricate himself from the
slough.  He was thrust through on the instant, as unceremoniously as if
he had been a crushed beetle.  A little farther on we encountered in
another small by-track that took away to the left, three others,
evidently part of the gang who had been peppering us from beneath the
covert of the bushes.  These were shot down as unceremoniously where
they stood.  I cannot forget the imploring glances of the poor fellows
as they vainly beseeched our mercy, and the fearful sight of their
stretching themselves out, and falling crash back amongst the branches
when we fired.  Two of them seemed to fall at once quite dead amongst
the bloody leaves; but the third, shrieking aloud, had wrestled himself
a fathom or two into the brake before he received his quietus from a
marine, who walked close up to him, and shot him deliberately through
the heart.  Still we heard the shouts of the rest of the party who had
retreated, and were now well ahead of us, and we pushed on in
pursuit--when all at once, as if I had been struck by the levin-brand,
a flash of light blazed across my eyes, and I came to the ground by the
run.



CHAPTER III.

THE MIDGE IN THE HORNET'S NEST.

When I came to myself I was sitting in the small muddy path through
which our antagonists had been driven.  About a fathom from me, partly
hid by the mangrove bushes, lay the dead body of one of the white crew
of the polacre.  He had fallen on his back across a stout branch, that
shot out horizontally from one of the trees at a height of about a foot
from the ground, so that, while his feet and legs rested on the soft
black alluvial soil on one side of it, his head, with the face turned
upwards, and relaxed arms, hung down on the other.  He was dressed in
the striped shirt already mentioned, largely open at the breast, and
wide white petticoat trowsers, that reached to the knee, made of some
strong cotton stuff of the same fabric as the India salampore, so that
the garment looked like a Greek kilt.  It was fastened at the waist by
a red silk sash, one end of which hung down over the branch across
which he lay, apparently saturated and heavy with black blood, that
gave it the appearance of a large purple tassel.  His collapsed loins,
where he was doubled over the branch, looked as thin and attenuated as
if he had been shot in two, and his prominent chest and lower
extremities merely connected by his clothing.  His feet and legs, as
well as his arms, were bare--his shirt-sleeves extending only three
inches below his shoulder; and it was a fearful sight to look on the
death-blue colour of the muscles, which no longer stood out in
well-defined and high relief, but had fallen and assumed the rounded
appearance of a woman's limbs.  The crown of his head touched the
ground, resting on his long black hair, that had been worn turned up
into a knot, but was now spread out in a rich tress, a foot beyond him.
He had ear-rings in his ears, and a broad gold crucifix tied round his
neck by a cord of spun hair--Alas for her whose raven locks composed
the strands of it!  His mouth was open, but his eyes were closed as if
he slept; and a small coal black tuft of hair on his chin, under his
nether lip, startled one, from its conspicuousness in contrast with the
deathly pallor of his face.  He was a very handsome youth, yet the
features inverted, as his head hung down, assumed from this
circumstance an expression so unusual, yet so soft and so touchingly
melancholy, that although I had often looked on death before, even in
my own miserable plight I could not help noticing it, and being moved
by it.  There was no wound that I could see, but thick black gouts were
slowly trickling from the white fresh splintered end of the branch that
had been split off in the rush, across which he lay; but this was only
noticeable at the splinter-mark, the sluggish stream being invisible,
while it crept from his body along the dark green bark of the limb of
the mangrove-tree.  A small pyramid had already been formed on the
ground, directly below the end of the branch, by the dropping of the
coagulating blood.  The whole scene was pervaded by the faint
mysterious light of the subdued sunbeams, as they struggled through the
screen of motionless leaves above; while the dead corse slept in the
deep cold shadow below, that to the eye of one suddenly withdrawn from
the glare of the tropical noontide, appeared to approach absolute
darkness; still a soft green ray, or _pensil_, like moonlight piercing
the thick woven foliage of a summer arbour, fell on and floated over
the face and one of the naked arms, until the still features appeared
to become radiant of themselves--as if they had been blanched by it
into the self-luminous whiteness of fresh hewn alabaster.

It was in truth a most piteous sight, and as the image of my aged
parent rose up, in my extremity, before my mind's eye at the moment, I
held up my feeble hands to heaven, and prayed fervently unto the
Almighty to bless her declining years; and, if that my race were indeed
run, and now in very truth my place was to know me no more, that my
sins might, for Christ's sake, be forgiven me.  "Alas, alas!" thought
I, bowed down by intense suffering to the very dust, "may he too not
have had a mother?"

For a minute, as I slowly recovered from the stunning effects of the
shot, I sat observing all this, and pressing the torn skin of my
forehead to my temples with one hand, whilst with the other I kept
clearing away the blood as it flowed into my eyes; but by the time I
had perfectly recovered my recollection, my sympathy vanished, all my
thoughts became absorbed, and my energies, small as they were at the
time, excited in almost a supernatural degree by the actual approach of
a hideous, and, in my helpless condition, probably the most appalling
danger that a human being could be threatened with.

For a second or two I had noticed that the branch across which the dead
Spaniard lay, was slightly moved now and then, and that some object was
advancing from beneath it, out of the thicket beyond.  I was not long
left in doubt, for one of the noble bloodhounds now dragged himself
into the light, and wriggled from amongst the mangroves to within a
fathom of me.  At first when he struggled from beneath his master's
body, he began to lick his face and hands, and then threw his head back
with a loud whine, as if disappointed in his expectation of some
acknowledgment.  Alas! none came; and after another vain attempt, pain
seemed to drive the creature furious, for he seized the arm next me,
that he had been licking the minute before, by the wrist, making the
dead bones crackle between his teeth in his agony.  All at once he
began to yell and bark, and at intervals turned his fierce eyes on me,
then swung his head violently back, and again howled most piteously.

All this time I could hear the loud shouting of our people in the
distance, and a scattering shot now and then, but the work nearer home
was more than sufficient to occupy me; for the dog, after another
moment of comparative repose, suddenly raised himself on his fore-paws;
for the first time I could see that he had been shot through the spine,
near the flank, so that his two hind-legs were utterly powerless, and
trailing on the ground.

He scrambled on a foot or two nearer--again all was still, and he lay
quiet with his nose resting on the ground, as if he had been watching
his prey; but pain appeared suddenly to overcome him again, as,
stretching out his fore-paws straight before him, and throwing his head
back, he set up the most infernal howl that ear ever tingled to.
"Merciful powers! can he mean to attack me?" thought I, as the fierce
creature left the dead body, and reared himself on his forelegs, with
open mouth, and tongue hanging out, uttering the most fearful cries,
between a fierce bark and a howl, and again attempting to drag himself
towards me.  I made a desperate effort to rise, but could not; and in
the prospect of so dreadful a death, I shouted for aid, as loud as my
feebleness would let me.  Once more suffering seemed to overcome the
creature's ferocity, and he stopped and yelled again.

Although I was still in some degree bewildered, and almost blinded from
the blood that continued to flow down my forehead, and the flap of skin
that covered my left eye, so as effectually to seal it, acting as a
deadlight as it were, still, for dear life, I grasped my cutlass--alas,
the blade was broken short off by the hilt!  My left hand then
mechanically clutched my belt where my pistol hung--"Ah, it _is_ there,
any how."  I instantly changed the broken blade into my other hand, and
with the coolness of despair cocked the pistol in my right, and lay
still, awaiting the approach of my fierce antagonist, under the
tremendous persuasion that my fate was inevitable if I missed him.  As
I looked in breathless dread, he suddenly gave a scrambling wallop
towards me--"I am done for--God have mercy on me, and receive my soul!"
Another scramble.  I felt his hissing hot breath; and the foam that he
champed from his fangs, as he tossed his head from side to side in a
paroxysm of rage and pain, fell like flakes of hot sulphur over my
face.  "Now is the time!"  I thrust the pistol into his mouth, and
pulled the trigger.  Almighty powers! it flashed in the pan!  With my
remaining strength I endeavoured to thrust it down his throat, as he
coughed up blood and froth into my face; he shook his head, clutched
the weapon in his teeth, and then threw it from him, as if in
disappointment that it had not been part and portion of his enemy; and
again made a snap at my shoulder.  I struck at him with my broken
cutlass--he seemed not to feel the blow--and throwing myself back as
far as I could, I shrieked in my extremity to that God whom I had so
often slighted and forgotten, for mercy to my miserable soul.  Crack--a
bullet whizzed past me.  The dog gave a long, loud howl, gradually
sinking into a low murmur as his feet slid from under him, and his head
lay open-jawed on the mud--a quivering kick of his feet--and he was
dead--as I nearly was through fear.

"Hillo," quoth old Clinker, the master-at-arms, one of those who had
come up from the boats, "who is this fighting with beasts at Ephesus,
eh?"  The moment he recognised me, the poor fellow made his apology,
although, Heaven knows, none was required.

"Beg pardon, sir; I little thought it was you, Mr Brail, who was so
near being worried by that vile beast."

I breathed again.  The bullet that had so nearly proved my quietus at
the commencement of the action, had struck me on the right temple, and,
glancing, had ran along my whole forehead, ploughing up the skin, until
it reached the left eye, where it detached a large flap, that, as
already mentioned, hung down by a tag over my larboard daylight; fairly
blinding me on that side.

"Here, Quinton, and Mornington," said Clinker, to two of the people,
who followed him, "here, lend a hand to bring Mr Brail along, will ye?"
They raised me on my legs, and gave me a mouthful of grog from a
canteen, and we proceeded, following the voices of our shipmates.
Comforted by the cordial, I found my strength return in some measure;
and when I was once satisfied that no bones were broken, that I was in
fact only and simply _kilt_, my spirits revived, and before we overtook
our allies, having bathed my wound with rum, and bound it with my
handkerchief, I was able to walk without support, and in a certain
degree to take care of myself.

The path continued for about half a mile farther, and in all that route
we no longer heard or saw any indications of our comrades.  "Why, there
is no use in all this," said old Clinker; "they must have taken another
direction, so we had better return, and wait the young flood to enable
us to back out of the scrape."

I considered this the wisest advice that could be given, and
right-about-face was the word, when a scapegrace of a marine, who had
straggled from the main body, suddenly came running at the top of his
speed from the advance, and sung out,--"Lord, sir and messmates, come
here, come here!"

"Why, what do you see?" responded Clinker.

"Why, sir, here is the queerest sight I ever see'd in all my born days."

"What is it, man? body o' me, what is it?" exclaimed the old
quarter-master, as we bowled along, following the Jolly; the fellow
gave no answer, but skipped on before us like a dancing-master.
Presently we arrived at an open space, situated at the head of the
tortuous mangrove-fringed creek that we had landed in.  The channel of
it was dry, all above the crook, about fifty yards from us, where it
bent towards the east, and full of black slimy mud, over-arched
entirely by the snake-like roots and branches of the mangroves; whose
upper branches, as usual, supported a thick mat of green leaves, while
all below was bare naked convolutions of green weather-stained stems
and branches.  The muddy canal seemed to end at this spot, under the
dark shade of the bushes.  Imbedded in its obscene channel, and hauled
close up to the head of the creek, lay a large Eboe canoe, about fifty
feet long; the bottom hollowed out of one single tree, but there was a
washstreak of some kind of hardwood plank, so as to raise the gunwale
about a foot above the ledge of the original vessel.  The two bamboo
masts were unshipped, and stowed amidships on the thwarts, and above
twenty paddles were ranged uprightly, with the blades resting on the
bottom, on each side of the masts.

There was a heavy log of unhewn wood, about thirty feet long, laid
across the head of the creek, where it terminated; on which three grey
parrots were clawing up and down, fastened by the legs with pieces of
twine.

Immediately adjoining was an open area of about fifty yards in
diameter--the soil appearing to have been mixed with white ashes, and
then baked, or rammed down into a hard floor.  This open space was
closed in by a thick forest of cashaw-trees on the land side, through
which several paths opened; while on every other, except at the head of
the creek, it was surrounded by mangrove jungle.  In the centre stood a
native house, a long, low, one-story, mud building, about forty feet in
length, by fifteen wide, thatched with the leaves of the dwarf palm.
It had one large aperture in the roof amidships, raised a foot or two
by piled turf, from which curled up a thick blue smoke; but there was
no opening on the side we approached it by, beyond a low door, not
above three feet high; indeed, the eaves of the house itself were
scarcely four feet from the ground.

Right in front of us, and precisely opposite the door, ensconced in a
curious nondescript chair of wickerwork, sat, very drunk apparently,
and more than half asleep, a ponderous middle-aged negro, dressed in a
most primitive fashion; his sole article of clothing being a common
woollen blanket, with a hole cut in the middle for his head to pass
through, while the sides were fastened together with wooden skewers,
which effectually confined his arms; so that there he was, all blanket
and head, and sound asleep, or pretending to be so, although the sun
shone down into the cleared space with a fierceness that would have
broiled the brains of any other man, had they been covered by a common
skull.  We were all speedily congregated round this beauty; there was
no one in attendance on him, and we had no means of judging of his
quality.

"I say, my good man," quoth Lieutenant Sprawl, "pray, did you see any
white men--Spaniards--pass this way?"

The sleeper appeared slowly to recover his faculties; he first stared
at the interrogator, then at old Dick Lanyard and me, and then at our
people.  He wished to seem, or really was, overcome with surprise.
Presently--the first lieutenant having for a moment left him, to look
around and reconnoitre the lay of the land--a little reefer, Joe Peake
by name, stole up to him, and whether or no the aforesaid mid had taken
a small pull at his canteen, I cannot tell, but he rattled out in the
ear of the torpid savage, "I say, my sleeping beauty, if you don't tell
us in a twinkling whereabouts these Spanish raggamuffins are stowed
away, by Saint Patrick, but I will make free to waken you with the
point of this cutlass here, and in a way by no means ceremonious at
all, at all;" and suiting the action to the word, he gave the sable
Morpheus a very sufficing progue with the point of his weapon, about
the region of the midriff, which instantaneously extracted a yell,
worthy of any Bengal tiger that I had ever tumbled up to see.
Presently the howling subsided into articulate sounds, but not one of
the party could make any thing ship-shape out of the barbarous
exclamations.

"Now, my darlin'," continued wee middy, "try toder tack, dear;" and he
again excited the savage's corporeals, after a very sharp fashion, with
the same instrument, and the howl was louder than before.

"Now, may the devil fly away with me," quoth the imp, waxing wroth,
"but I will blow your brains out, you drunken thief of the world, if
you don't give me a legitimate reply--spake, you ill-bred spalpeen,
you----Answer me in English, you scoundrel;" whereupon, to our very
great surprise indeed, out spoke our sable acquaintance.

"Hillo, where de debil is I--who you, eh?  What you wantee here?  I hab
no slave to give you.  De Caridad, him do get every one I get.  So,
good men, go to hell all of you--do--very mosh go to hell--do."

The barbarian again fell back on his seat, either asleep, or feigning
to be so, and began to snore like a rhinoceros.  By this time Davie
Doublepipe's attention was attracted to a noise within the house.
"Now, Master Blueskin," said he, "have the kindness to open the door
there;" then, as if suddenly recollecting himself, in a voice of
thunder he exclaimed--"Surround the house, men.  Shoot any one who
tries to escape."

This seemed to arouse our sluggish friend, who immediately got up, and
staggered a few paces towards the margin of the wood, where a most
remarkable object met our eyes.  It was a fetish hut or temple,
composed of a shed about ten feet square, raised on four bamboos.  From
the eaves or thatch of the roof, to the ground, might have measured ten
feet; and three feet below the roof there was a platform rigged, on
which sat the most unearthly and hideous production of the hand of man
that I had ever witnessed.  It was a round, pot-bellied, wooden figure,
about three feet high, with an enormous head, a mouth from ear to ear,
and little, diminutive, spindly legs and arms.  A human skull, with the
brain scooped out, but the red scalp, and part of the hair, and the
flesh of the face adhering to it, while the lower jaw had been torn
away, was hung round this horrible-looking image's neck.  Immediately
beneath there was a heap of white smouldering cinders, as if the embers
of a large fire had been swept together, with three or four white bones
protruding from the fissures in the cake of white ashes; which, from
their peculiar shape and extraordinary whiteness, gave me some
shuddering qualms as to the kind of living creature they had belonged
to.  The whole space round the heap, under the platform on which the
Fetish stood, as well as the posts of the rude and horrible temple
itself, was sprinkled with fresh black spots like newly dried blood--I
doubted exceedingly whether the same had ever circulated through the
hearts of bulls or goats.

"Now, my good man, bestir you, and let us into the house," said I, by
this time renovated by another small pull at a marine's canteen.

The surly savage, who, in his attempt to escape, had fallen headlong,
and had all this while lain as motionless as a coiled-up hedgehog, now
slowly opened his eyes, and peered at me with a sort of drunken
gravity--but he did not speak.  I took the cutlass from the
midshipman--"Now, my man, if you don't speak, it is spitting you on
this same that I will be after;" and accordingly, to corroborate my
word, I made a most furious demonstration with the naked weapon, when
he sung out, in great terror, "Stop, massa, me is Sergeant Quacco of de
-- West India, and not a savage nigir natural to dis dam country.  Long
live Kin Shorge, massa!"

"Why," said Lieutenant Sprawl, "how came you here, my beauty?--tell us
that."

"Surely," quoth blackie; "no objection in de wide world, but"----

Here our people had forced the door of the long shed, on the opposite
side from where we were, and we could hear from their shouts that they
were now in the interior of the house.  This entirely discomposed our
new friend, and seemed to sober him all on a sudden, if, indeed, the
appearance of inebriety had not been from the first assumed for the
occasion.  "Ah, dere--all is known--all known.  Call off your people,
gentlemen--call off your people.  Oh, what is dat?"

Here several pistol-shots were fired in the house, and the clink of
steel was heard, and loud shouting, in Spanish as well as English.

"Who are in the shed?" Lanyard called out,--"Who are concealed there?"

"How de debil can I tell?" said the man--"How de debil can I say?"--and
he started from his chair, where he had again bestowed himself, and
made a bolt, with intent to escape.--I tripped up his heels.

"Now, you scoundrel," said I, as the fellow lay sprawling on the
ground--"confess who are concealed there, or I will run you through
where you lie."

"I will confess," shrieked he--"I will confess--de crew of dat dam
polacre is dere, and her cargo of one hundred fifty slave, is dere--so
sink, burn, and destroy dem all, if dat will pleasure massa; but don't
cut my troat please, massa--don't, I beg you, cut my troat--God bless
you, massa--Oh--oh--no cut my troat, please, good massa?"

My attention was here attracted by what was going on elsewhere.
Leaving the vagabond where he sat, I turned a step or two towards the
long barn-like building.

The noise in the interior continued.  "Hillo," sung out the first
lieutenant--"Hillo, men, what are you after?  Haul off--come out, will
ye--come out;" and he began to thunder at the low door, with his
pillar-like trams, each of which might have made a very passable
battering-ram.

The uproar increased.  "Zounds!" said he, "the fellows are mad;" and he
started off round the northernmost end of the shed, finding that all
attempts to force the door on the side next us proved futile.
Presently the topman, and two marines, who had remained beside the
negro, also bolted to "see the fun on the other side of the house," and
left me alone with the savage.

It was now "the uproar, with variations," as old Bloody Politeful's two
voices swelled the row.  I looked at the negro, and weak and worn-out
as I was, I began to feel rather comical.  "Can I manage him, in case
he shows fight?" thought I.  He seemed to be taking the same measure
himself; for by this time he had gathered himself up, and advancing a
stride or two from his seat or bench, he appeared to balance himself,
and weigh his gigantic proportions against my comparatively tiny thews
and sinews.  All at once, like a tiger about to make his spring, he
drew suddenly back, and crouched; evidently concentrating all his
energies.  Time to make a demonstration, thought I; and thereupon drew
a pistol from my belt, and opening the pan, slapped it with my right
hand, to see that the priming was all right, and in immediate
communication with the charge in the barrel.  He looked rapidly, but
keenly, all round, and then at me.  I grasped the weapon firmly in my
right hand.  He rose--upset the bench on which he sat, in a twinkling
screwed out a leg of it, and was in the very act of making a blow at
me, when the shouts and yells in the long shed increased to an infernal
degree of vivacity, and a hot sharp crackling, and a thick stifling
smoke, that burst in white wreaths from the corners of the building,
arrested his uplifted arm.  "You infamous renegade, if you don't lay
down the leg of that stool, I will, on the credit of a Kilkenny man, by
the mother's side, send a bullet through your breadbasket--If I don't,
never fear me."

He had now made up his mind, and advancing, nothing daunted, made a
spring and a blow at my head, which, if I had not dodged, would have
sent me to answer for many a sin unrepented of; as it was, it descended
with great force on my left shoulder, but on the instant I shot him
through the muscle of his uplifted arm, and down he tumbled, roaring
like the very devil.  I had started up the instant I pulled the
trigger.  The door of the long building, at that very instant of time,
gave way, and out rushed five white men--evidently part of the crew of
the polacre brig--followed by our people.  Weak as I was, I stood up to
the headmost; and this appeared to have quelled him, for he instantly
threw down his arms.  The crackling of the fire continued; bursts of
smoke spouted from the roof; presently they were intermingled with
bright sparks, and the yells arose even louder, if possible, than
before, from the inside; when out rushed our people, headed by the
redoubtable Davie Doublepipe himself.

"Hillo, Brail," said he, "you seem to have your own share of it to-day:
why, what _has_ come over you?--who has wounded you?"

"That black rascal there."

"The devil!" quoth Lanyard; "shall we immolate the savage where he
lies?"

"No, no--attend to what is going on in the other end of the house--for
Godsake mind what may befall there!"

With the gallant fellow it was a word and a blow--"Here,--here--try
back, my fine fellows, try back."

The yells increased.  "Merciful Providence!" exclaimed Mr Sprawl, as he
saw his people recoil from the heat and flame, "what is to be done?
These poor creatures will be roasted alive where they are made fast."
Our party turned; made as if they would have re-entered the house, but
the scorching fire kept them back.  The cries were now mixed with low
moans and suffocating coughs, and presently a string of miserable naked
savages appeared streaming out of the door, as fast as they could run,
as if flying from instant death--men, old and young, well-grown
children of both sexes, and several elderly women--the ancients
staggering along after the more nimble as fast as their feebler
strength would admit.  They rushed forth, all as fast as they could,
never halting, until they had landed up to the waist in the muddy
creek, and an interval of half a minute elapsed, when several of the
women made signs that there were still some of the miserable creatures
within; and, indeed, this was but too sadly vouched for, by the shrill
and heartrending cries that continued to issue from the burning shed,
as if women and children had been confined in some part of it, and
unable to escape.  Old Bloody Politeful was at this time standing in
the middle of the open space, with the four middies, Pumpbolt, and
about ten men grouped around him; the rest being employed in various
ways--some in an unavailing attempt to extinguish the fire--the others
in guarding the prisoners, when all at once the first lieutenant sung
out--"Men, there are women and children burning there--follow me."  He
spoke to British seamen--could he have said more?  And away they rushed
after their heroic leader, stumbling over each other in their anxiety
to succour the poor helpless beings within.  A minute of most intense
suspense followed, when upwards of a dozen women rushed out from the
flaming hut, sheltering, with their bent bodies and naked arms, their
helpless infants from the sparks, and fire, and falling timbers; and
even after they had escaped, and had couched at our feet, the cries and
groans from amongst the burning mass too fearfully evinced that numbers
of our fellow-creatures, in all likelihood the most helpless of the
party, were still in jeopardy, nay, in very truth, were at that instant
giving up the ghost.  Our crew did all they could to get the remainder
of the poor creatures out, but many perished in the flames.

About fifty human beings, chiefly women, were saved, and placed,
huddled together, in the centre of the open space; presently several of
the white Spaniards, who had held on in the shed amidst flame and
smoke, that I thought more than sufficient to have suffocated any man
of woman born, started off into the woods, and disappeared, all to the
five whom we had seized, and who were placed beside, and secured along
with the captive blacks.  Those we had taken were surly, fierce-looking
bravoes; who, when asked any questions as to the name and character of
their vessel, only smiled savagely, as much as to say--"_Our_ vessel!
where is she _now_?  You are none the better for _her_ at all events!"

"Brail, my dear," said Lieutenant Sprawl, "since you stand pilot, what
is to be done?  Had we not better be off with our white prisoners while
the play is good?"

"If the tide will let us," said I; "but the boats as yet are high and
dry in the creek, and we have lost the only opportunity that offered
for burning the polacre; had we confined ourselves to that object, and
kept the boats afloat, we might have accomplished it where she lies at
low water."

"Better as it is," rejoined Sprawl--"better as it is; we found no
slaves on board, and might have got into a scrape had we set fire to
her in cold blood.--No, no! let us be off, and try and launch the
boats.  Here, men, secure your prisoners; shall we carry the black
Broker--this respectable resetter of human beings--with us, Brail--eh?"

"Why, we had better," said I; "we may get some information out of the
vagabond; so kick him up, Moses;"--he was at this moment lying on his
back, again shamming a trance--"up with him, pique him with your
boarding pike, my man."

The seaman I had addressed did as he was desired; but the fellow was
now either dead-drunk, or had sufficient nerve to control any
expression of pain, for the deuced hard thumps and sharp progues he
received, produced no apparent effect.  He lay like a log through them
all; even the pain of the wound in his arm seemed insufficient to keep
him awake.

"Why, what is that--do you hear that?" said Lanyard, in great alarm;
for several dropping shots now rattled in the direction of the boats.
All was still for a minute, and every ear was turned to catch the
sound, during which time we distinctly heard in the distance a loud
voice hail,--

"Come out from beneath the bushes there, you villains, or we shall fire
a volley."

Again there was a long pause--a horn was sounded--then another--then a
wild confused yell, mingled with which the musketry again breezed up,
and we could hear, from the shouts of our people, that the covering
party at the boats had been assailed.  When the first shot was fired,
the black resetter lifted his head, anxiously, as if to listen; but
seeing my eyes were fixed on him, he instantly dropped it again.  But
the instant he heard the negro horns, the noise of their onset, and the
renewal of the firing, he started to his legs, as active as a lynx; and
before any of us could gather our senses about us, he was on the verge
of the wood; when all at once a thought seemed to come across him; he
stopped, and hung in the wind for a moment, as if irresolute whether to
bolt or turn back.  At this moment one of our people let drive at him,
but missed him, although the ball nipped off a dry branch close above
his head.  He instantly ran and laid hold of one of the pillars of the
frame that supported the abominable little idol.  Another shot was
fired, when down tumbled his godship on the head of his worshipper, who
caught the image by the legs, and seeing some of our people rushing to
seize him, he let go his hold of the upright, and whirling the figure
round, holding on by its legs, he let drive with it at the man nearest
him, and dropped him like a shot.  He then bolted out of sight, through
one of the several muddy paths that opened into the mangrove thicket
landward.

"No time to be lost, my lads," whistled old Davie; "keep
together;"--then, in his thorough bass, "Don't throw away a shot; so
now bring along your prisoners, and let us fall back on the
boats----that's it--march the Dons to the front--shove on, my fine
fellows--shove on."

The firing at the boats had by this time slackened, but the cries
increased, and were now rising higher and fiercer as we approached.  We
reached the fort, the place of our former conflict.  Heavens! what a
scene presented itself!  It makes one's blood run cold to reflect on
it, even after the lapse of years.  On the platform lay two Spaniards,
and close to them three of our crew, stark and stiff, and already
stripped naked as the day they were born, by whom Heaven only knows;
while half a dozen native dogs were tearing and _riving_ the yet
scarcely cold carcasses, and dragging the dead arms hither and thither,
until our near approach frightened them away, with a loud unearthly
scream, of no kindred to a common bark.

One fierce brute, with his forepaws planted, straight and stiff, before
him, on a dead body, was tugging with his front teeth at the large
pectoral muscle; occasionally letting go his hold to look at us, and
utter a short angry bark, and again tearing at the bleeding flesh, as
if it had been a carcass thrown to him for food.  Another dog had lain
down, with a hold of one of the same poor fellow's cold hands.  Every
now and then he would clap his head sideways on the ground, so as to
get the back grinders to bear on his prey; and there the creature was,
with the dead blue fingers across his teeth, crunching and crunching,
and gasping, with his mouth full of froth and blood, and marrow, and
white splinters of the crushed bones, the sinews and nerves of the dead
limb hanging like bloody cords and threads from----Bah!--you have given
us a little _de trop_ of this, Master Benjie.

Two wounded Spaniards were all this time struggling in the soft mud
beyond the platform; their lower limbs, and in fact their whole bodies
up to the arm-pits, had already settled down into the loathsome chaos.
Some of our people were soft-hearted enough to endeavour to extricate
them, but, "Get along, get along--be off to the boats, will ye? be off
to the boats, if you wish to sleep in a sound skin," shouted by Mr
Sprawl, made all hands turn to the more engrossing affair of
self-preservation.

But as it was some time before we could all string over the stockade,
and the single plank that led to it from the platform across the mud, I
could not help remarking one of the poor fellows who appeared to have
been badly wounded, for there was blood on his ghastly visage.  His
struggles had gradually settled him up to the chin in the mire--he was
shrieking miserably--he sunk over the mouth--his exertions to escape
increased--the mud covered his nose--he began to cough and splutter for
breath--while he struggled hard with his arms to keep himself above the
surface--had he been one of the best swimmers alive--alas! he was now
neither on earth nor in water--his eyes were still visible.  Father of
mercies, let me forget their expression--their hopeless dying glare, as
he gradually sunk deeper and deeper into the quagmire.  Oh! what a
horrible grave! he disappeared, but his hands were still visible--he
clasped them together--then opened them again--the fingers spread out,
and quivered like aspen leaves, as he held them up towards heaven in an
attitude of supplication.  There--he is gone.

By the time the last of our stragglers had dragged their weary limbs
into the enclosure, the shouting and firing again waxed warm in the
direction of the boats; so we made all sail towards them the instant we
had scrambled over the rude stockade, leaving the other wounded
Spaniard, who lay in a harder part of the mud, to his fate,
notwithstanding the poor fellow's heart-piercing supplication not to be
left to perish in so horrible a manner as his comrade, who had just
disappeared.  We advanced as rapidly as we could, and presently came in
sight of this new scene of action.  The boats were filled with our
people who had been left to guard them, but were still aground,
although the flood was fast making.  They had evidently made the most
desperate attempts to get them afloat, and had been wading up to their
waists in the mud.  Four white Spaniards were blazing away at them, and
at least one hundred and fifty naked negroes were crowding round the
head of the creek, and firing from half-a-dozen old rusty muskets, and
throwing spears made of some sort of hard wood burnt at the ends, while
several were employed cutting down the mangroves and throwing them into
the mud, so as to be able to pass over them like a mat, and get at the
boats.  One or two of the demon-like savages were _routing_ on
bullocks' horns, while six or seven had already fallen wounded, and lay
bellowing and struggling on the ground before the well-directed fire of
our people.

"Advance, Mr Sprawl, for the love of heaven," the midshipman in charge
of the party in the boats sung out--"advance, or we are lost; our
ammunition is almost out."

Our own danger made it sufficiently evident, without this hint, that
our only chance of safety was by a desperate effort to drive our
opponents back into the wood, and there keep them at bay until the
boats floated.

"Ay, ay, my boys," cried Lanyard, "keep your fire--don't run short."

"Confound you, don't fire," shouted Mr Sprawl, "or you will hit some of
us," as several of the boat's crew nearest us continued,
notwithstanding, to pepper away; then, to his own people--"Follow me,
men; if we don't drive them into the wood, as Mr Lanyard says, till the
tide makes, we are lost."

"Hurrah!" shouted the brave fellows, "give them a touch of the pike and
cutlass, but no firing.--Hurrah!"

When we charged them, the negroes and their white leaders were in an
instant driven into the recesses of the jungle, but not before we had
captured three more of the Spaniards and seven of their black allies.
Our object being in the mean time attained, we called a halt, and sent
back a man to the boats, with orders to advise us the moment they were
afloat.  Worn out and feeble as most of the party were, from want of
food and fatigue, many fell asleep in a moment, leaning against trees,
or slipped down on the twisted roots of the mangroves.  Every thing had
continued quiet for about a quarter of an hour, no sound being heard
beyond an occasional shout or wild cry in the recesses of the
brushwood, when all at once the man we had despatched to the rear, came
rushing up to us at the top of his speed.

"The boats will be afloat in ten minutes, sir."

"Thank heaven, thank heaven," I exclaimed.

"But an Eboe canoe," continued the man, suddenly changing my joy into
sadness, "with more than fifty people on board, is now paddling up the
creek."

"The devil!" exclaimed Mr Sprawl, "are we never to get clear of this
infernal corner?"  And then recollecting who he was, and where he was,
and that the lives of the whole party were dependent on his courage and
self-possession, he rose, calm and resolute, from where he had sat
himself down on the root of a bush.

"Men, we may go to the right about now and be off to the boats--so send
the wounded forward; the officers and marines will bring up the rear.
So heave ahead, will ye? but no rushing now--be cool, for the credit of
the ship."

The instant we retreated, the sound of the negro horns and drums again
commenced, showing that our movements were watched; the yells rose
higher than ever, and dropping shots whistled over-head, clipping off a
leaf here and a dry branch there.  We sculled along, the noises behind
us increasing, until we once more reached the head of the creek.  The
boats were by this time not afloat exactly, but the advance of the tide
had so _thinned_ the mud, that it was clear, if we could once get the
people on board, we should have little difficulty in sliding them into
deep water.  However, the nearest could not be got within boat-hook
length of the bank, and two of the oars being laid out to form a
gangway, no sooner did the first seaman step along them,
than--crack--one gave way, and the poor fellow plumped up to the waist
in the mud.  If we were to get disabled in our fins, certain
destruction must ensue; this was palpable to all of us; so we had to
scramble on board through the abominable stinking slime the best way we
could, without risking any more of the ash staves.  In the mean time
the uncouth noises and firing in the rear came nearer and increased.

"So now, hand the prisoners on board, and place them beside their
comrades there," shouted Mr Sprawl.

Easier said than done.  Taking advantage of the uproar, they had hung
back, and now as the first of the savages appeared from under the green
trees, evidently with an intention of again attacking us, they fairly
turned tail, and before we could prevent them, they were off, and for
ever beyond our ken.  The last of our people had got on board, all to a
poor boy, who had been badly wounded, indeed ham-strung with a knife,
and as he had fainted on the brink from pain and loss of blood, for a
moment he had been forgotten.  But only for a moment.

"God help me, God help me," said I, "why, it is poor little Graham, my
own servant; shove close to, and let me try to get him on board."  The
lad spoken of was a slight brown-haired boy, about fifteen years of
age.  The sound of my voice seemed to revive him; he lifted his head;
but the four Spanish prisoners, whom we had secured on board, on the
instant, as if moved by one common impulse, made a bound overboard;
although they sank up to the waist, they made a desperate attempt to
reach the bank; the leading one, who seemed to have been an officer,
shouting out to their allies in the wood, "_Camaradas, una golpe bueno,
y somos salvados--una golpe fuerte, y somos libres_."  This was the
signal for a general rush of the combined column from the thicket; the
black naked savages, led on by the white crew of the slaver.  As they
rushed down to the brink, the poor wounded lad made a desperate attempt
to rise; and as he ran a step or two staggering towards the creek, he
looked behind him at the negroes, who were advancing with loud shouts.
He then, with his face as pale as ashes, and lips blue as indigo, and
eyes starting from the socket, called out, "For the dear love of Jesus,
shove ahead, and save me; Oh!  Mr Sprawl, save me!  Mr Brail, for God
Almighty's sake, don't desert me, Oh sir!"  A black savage had rushed
forward and seized him--I fired--he dropped, dragging the boy down with
him; and I could see him in his agony try to tear him with his teeth,
while the helpless lad struggled with all his might to escape from the
dying barbarian.  He did get clear of him; and with a strength that I
could not believe he had possessed, he once more got on his legs, and
hailed me again; but the uproar was now so loud, and the firing so hot,
that I could not hear what he said.

"The boats are afloat, the boats are afloat!" shouted twenty voices at
once.  At this very moment a negro caught the lad round the waist,
another laid hold of him by the hair, and before he could free himself,
the latter drew his knife round his neck--the next instant the trunk,
with the blood gushing from the severed arteries, was quivering amongst
the mud, while the monster held aloft the bleeding head with its
quivering and twitching features.

"Heaven have mercy on us--Heaven have mercy on us!" said I; but we were
now widening our distance fast, although I could see them strip the
body with the speed of the most expert camp-follower; and while the
Spaniards on shore were, even under our fire, trying to extricate their
comrades, all of them wounded, who were floundering in the slime and
ooze, their black allies were equally active in cutting up and
mutilating the poor boy with the most demoniacal ferocity and ..... I
dare not attempt further description of a scene so replete with horror
and abomination.  We poled along, with all the little strength that a
day of such dreadful incidents, and a climate of the most overpowering
heat and fearful insalubrity, had left us.  At length the creek widened
so as to allow us to ply our oars, when we perceived the large Eboe
war-canoe, already mentioned, in the very act of entering the narrow
canal we were descending.  As we approached, we had an opportunity of
observing the equipment of this remarkable craft; it was upwards of
sixty feet long, and manned by forty hands--twenty of a side, all
plying their great broad-bladed paddles.  These men sat close to the
gunwale of the vessel on each side, looking forward, and delving up the
water with their shovel-shaped paddles, the two rows sufficiently apart
to leave room for upwards of fifty naked men and women to be stowed
amidships.  These last were all bound with withes, or some kind of
country rope; and although there were no serious or very evident
demonstrations of grief amongst them, yet it at once occurred to me,
that they were slaves sent down to our black friend's depot, to await
the arrival of the next vessel, or probably they were intended to have
completed the polacre's cargo.  An old white-headed, yellow-skinned
negro, bearing the tatooed marks of a high-caste man of his tribe on
his square-featured visage, as if the skin had been peeled off his
temples on each side, was seated in the bow.  He evidently took us for
part of the crew of some slaver lying below.  He shouted to us, and
pointed to his cargo; but we had other fish to fry, and accordingly
never relaxed in our pulling, until at five in the afternoon, we were
once more on board of the felucca.



CHAPTER IV.

THE EVENING AFTER THE BRUSH.

On mustering, we found our loss had been exceedingly severe--no fewer
than seven missing, five of whom, I knew, had been killed outright, and
fourteen wounded, some of them seriously enough.  The first thing we
did was to weigh and drop down out of gunshot of the fort, when we
again anchored close under the bank on the opposite side of the river.
By the time we were all snug it was near six o'clock in the evening;
and the wild cries and uproar on the bank had subsided, no sound
marking the vicinity of our dangerous neighbours, excepting a startling
shout now and then, that gushed from the mangrove jungle; while a thick
column of smoke curled up into the calm evening sky from the smoking
ruins of the house.  Presently, thin grey vapours arose from the
surface of the water on each bank, and rolled sluggishly towards us
from the right and left, until the two sheets of mist nearly met.
Still a clear canal remained in the middle of the noble stream, as if
its dark flow had been narrowed to a space that a pistol-shot would
have flown across point-blank.  For an hour, the fog increased, until
it became like wreaths of wool, and then, when at the densest, it rose
gradually, until the bushes on each side of the river became dimly
visible, as if a gauze screen had been interposed between us and them.
It continued gradually to roll back, right and left, landward; until it
folded over and overlapped the trees on the banks, creeping along the
tops of them, yet leaving the air clear as crystal above its influence,
where presently the evening star rose sparkling as brightly as if it
had been a frosty sunset.  But we were not long to enjoy this pure
atmosphere, for right ahead of us a thicker body of vapour than what
had come off previously began to roll down the river, floating in the
air about ten or twelve feet from the surface of the water, where it
hung in a well-defined cloud, without in any way melting into the clear
atmosphere overhead.  When it reached within a cable's length of us, it
became stationary, and owned allegiance to the genius of the
sea-breeze, growing thin and smoke-like, and diffusing itself, and
poisoning the air all round.  It was the most noxious I ever breathed.

"Palpable marsh miasmata; the yellow fever in visible perfection,"
quoth Lieutenant Sprawl.

Through this mist, the glowing sun, now near his setting, suddenly
became shorn of his golden hair, and obliged us with a steady view of
his red bald globe; while his splendid wake, that half an hour before
sparkled on the broad rushing of the mighty stream, converting its
whirling eddies into molten gold, was suddenly quenched under the chill
pestilential fen-damp; and every thing looked as like the shutting in
of a winter's night in Ould Ireland as possible, with a dash of vapour
from my own river Lee, which has mud enough to satisfy even a Cork pig,
and that is saying a good deal.  Had we only had the cold, the
similitude would have been perfect.

The sun set; and all hands, men and officers, carried on in getting
themselves put to rights as well as they could, after a day of such
excitement and stirring incidents.  None of the wounded, I was rejoiced
to find, were likely to slip through our fingers; but the fate of the
poor fellows who were missing--What was it?  Had they been fairly shot
down, or sabred on the spot, or immolated afterwards--after the scenes
we had witnessed, what might it not have been?  The surgeon's mate, who
constituted part of our appointment, was a skilful fellow in his way,
and I had soon the gratification to see all the men who had been hurt
properly cared for.  As for my own wound, thanks to the profuse
hæmorrhage, the sensation was now more that of a stunning blow than any
thing else; and, with the exception of the bandage round my head, I was
not a great deal the worse, neither to look at, nor indeed in reality.
Old Davie Doublepipe, Dick Lanyard, and myself, had dived into the
small cabin; and having taken all the precautions that men could do in
our situation, we sat down, along with Pumpbolt the master, the two
reefers, who had come in the frigate's boats, and little Binnacle, to
our salt junk and grog.

"A deuced comfortable expedition, Brail, my darling, we have had this
same day," _quod_ Dick.

"Very," responded Benjamin Brail, Esquire.  "But, here's to you, my
man, _Dum vivimus vivamus_--so spare me that case bottle of rum."

However, we were too awkwardly placed to spend much time over our
frugal repast, as the poets say; so presently we were all on deck
again.  How beautiful, and how different the scene.  A small cool
breath of wind from the land had again rolled away the impure air from
the bosom of the noble river, and every thing overhead was once more
clear and transparent.  The bright new risen moon was far advanced in
the second quarter, and cast a long trembling wake of silver light on
the water, sparkling like diamonds on the tiny ripples, while the
darkened half of the chaste planet herself was as perfectly visible, as
if her disk had been half silver and half bronze.  Her mild light,
however, was not strong enough to quench the host of glorious stars
that studded the cloudless firmament.  On either hand, the black banks
were now clearly defined against the sky; the one shore being lit up by
the rising moon, and the other by the last golden tints of the recently
set sun.

The smoke over the site of the conflagration, which had been pale grey
during the daylight, became gradually luminous and bright as the night
closed in; and every now and then, as if part of the building we had
seen on fire had fallen in, a cloud of bright sparks would fly up into
the air, spangling the rolling masses of the crimson-tinged wreaths of
smoke.  At length the light and flame both slowly decreased, until they
disappeared altogether; leaving no indication as to their whereabouts.

"Come," said I, "we may all turn in quietly for the night.  The savages
ashore there seem at length to be asleep."

The words were scarcely out of my mouth, when a bright glare, as if a
flame from a heap of dry wood chips had suddenly blazed up, once more
illuminated the whole sky right over where we had seen the sparks and
luminous smoke, while a loud concert of Eboe drums, horns, and wild
shouts, arose in the distance.

"Some vile Fetish rite is about being celebrated," said I.

The noise and glare continued, and with a sickening feeling, I turned
away and looked towards the rising moon.  Her rays trembled on the
gurgling and circling eddies of the river, making every trunk of a
tree, or wreath of foam as it floated down with the current, loom clear
and distinct, as they swam in black chains and dark masses past the
sparkling line her chaste light illuminated.  I had leaned for near a
quarter of an hour with folded arms, resting my back against the
lowered yard, admiring the serenity of the scene, and contrasting it
with the thrilling events of the day, pondering in my own mind what the
morrow was to bring forth, when a large branch of a tree, covered with
foliage, floated past and attracted my attention--the black leaves
twinkling in the night breeze between us and the shining river.
Immediately a small canoe, with two dark figures in it, launched out
from the darkness; swam down the river into the bright wake of the
glorious planet, where the water flowed past in a sheet of molten
silver, and floated slowly across it.  The next moment it vanished in
the darkness.  I saw it distinctly--there could be no mistake.

"I say, friend Sprawl,"--he was standing beside me enjoying the luxury
of a cigar,--"did you see that?" pointing in the direction where the
tiny craft had disappeared.  He had also seen it.

"We had better keep a bright look-out," continued I; "those savages may
prove more venturesome in the darkness than we chose this morning to
believe possible."

I kept my eye steadily in the direction where we had seen the canoe
vanish; but she continued invisible, and nothing for some time occurred
to create any alarm.  Every thing remained quiet and still.  Even the
shouting on shore had entirely ceased.  On board of the felucca, the
men were clustered round a blazing fire forward, that cast a bright red
glare on the rushing water as it whizzed past, lap-lapping against our
bows, and closing in on the rudder, making it _cheep_ as it was
_jigged_ from side to side, with a buzzing gurgle; while the small
round whirling eddies, visible by the tiny circles of white froth and
hissing bells, where the divided waters spun away as if glad of their
reunion in our wake, rolled down astern of us, blending together in one
dark eddy, wherein the boats under the tafferel sheered about, with the
water flashing at their bows, like so many captured hippopotami, until
I expected every moment to see the taught painters torn away.

The wounded by this time were all stowed snugly below, but the figures
on the crowded deck of the little vessel glanced wildly round the
crackling fire.  Many of the men, who had floundered in the slime of
the creek, appeared like absolute statues of plaster of Paris, when the
mud had dried on them, which they were busily employed in picking off,
great patches of the hardened filth having adhered to their clothes
like greaves and cuisses.  Some were engaged cooking their food, others
were cleaning their arms, while the grog went round cheerily, and the
loud laugh and coarse jest evinced the buoyancy of young hearts, even
while they sat within ear-shot of the groans of their wounded comrades,
and the bodies of those who had fallen were scarce cold; while the most
appalling dangers to themselves had just been surmounted.

Lanyard was now called below by the surgeon's mate to inspect the
condition of the wounded.  Old Bloody Politeful and myself accompanied
him.  None of the sound part of the crew had yet turned in, but, in the
hurry of going ashore, all their hammocks had been left slung, and, as
the between decks was barely five feet high, it was rather a bothersome
matter to navigate between the rows of them, empty and full.  Two large
lanterns hung from hooks screwed into the beams amidships, but the
lights within were none of the brightest, nor were the glass panes any
of the clearest; so they did not greatly elucidate the state of
matters; but, in another sense, if to afford heat to the confined
berth-deck had been an object, they constituted a most efficient
apparatus, from the hot fat smoke that screwed out of the little
perforated tin domes at the top.  Immediately above the lanterns, that
were suspended by pieces of spunyarn about six inches long, and on each
side of the beam, where it had been bevelled away, was arrayed a whole
swarm of cockroaches in two circles, with their heads inward, and their
long feelers in perpetual motion, like the spears of the serried
phalanx of old,--a more courageous beetle than the rest, every now and
then making a forward movement of a step or two, until the heat of the
ascending flame scorched him back again.  However, we soon had to
attend to other matters.

The first amongst the wounded that I had occasion to address was the
corporal of marines, of whom mention has been before made,--one of the
boats'-crews who were leagued with us.  He was, although reputed half
crazy in the ship, a fine handsome young fellow--a Scotchman.  When we
came down he was speaking to a messmate, who stood beside his hammock
helping him to some drink.

"Oh, man," said he, "did ye no remark the clearness and stillness of
the creek, after leaving the muddy river, just before the action
began--immediately before it was stirred up by that hideous,
highland-cow-looking beast of a hippopotamy; the vile brute that raised
the mud, until it converted the crystal clear water into pease brose,
and be d----d to it?  I hate these wee Highland _nowt_.  A big sonsy
stot is a manageable animal, and respectable withal, and quiet; but
thae sma' hieland deevils!----Hech! what sharp horns they have!  And
although a bold front aye quells them, still they always are on the
look-out to take you at disadvantage--in the louping of a dyke, for
instance, wha will assure ye that they shall not kittle your
hinderlins?--But what am I raving about?--Ou ay! about the clear creek,
with the white scales of the bit fishes turning up their sides to the
light, and glancing like silver far down in the transparent depths of
the deep water, as we lay on our oars.  Guid kens--forbye being weak
and worn, and scant o' glee, for a leaden weight lay on my
speerits--yet the sicht drave me aff and awa' in a moment amang my ain
native blue hills and heathery braes--ay, and clear saugh-fringed
sparkling burnies too, rippling bonnily in the sunshine owre their
half-dry channels of bright sand and pebbles, with the trouts louping
_plump, plump_, out of the swirls at the bottom of the ripples at the
grey flies, and then glancing up the rushing streams, zig-zag like
fire-flaughts from ae shadowy bank till another--although all the while
I was conscious that maybe, between disease, and shot, and cauld iron,
I was but a step frae heeven--we'll no name the other place.  Oh, that
thocht of my home brack in upon my mind like a gleam of sunshine on a
stormy sea."

"Hillo, there's poetry for you, Master Lanyard," said I, a good deal
surprised.

The poor fellow had heard me speak, and presently appeared to become
highly excited, and to breathe very hard.  Sprawl and I had by this
time stuck our heads up between the rows of hammocks.

"Well, Lennox, what may be wrong with you?" said I.

"Nothing very particular," was the answer; "only I am afraid that I am
about departing for yon place."

"What place?" said I.

"Ou!  I just meant to insinuate to your honour, that I was dying."

"Pooh, nonsense!" said Sprawl; "don't be so chicken-hearted, man.  No
fear of you, if you will but keep a good heart."

"It may be sae, it may be sae; but I am doomed, and I know it."

"How?" said I, much interested--"How?  Tell me what forebodings you
have had--do now?"

To make what passed after this intelligible, it is proper to remark,
that this poor fellow, notwithstanding his peculiarities, was the most
sober and hard-working man in the frigate--a favourite with all hands,
men and officers.  It appeared that, for several days before the
setting out of the expedition, he had been suffering from
dysentery,--indeed, he had been so very ill, that this very morning the
surgeon had given him eighty drops of laudanum;--notwithstanding, he
would not on any account be left behind, but insisted on going in the
boats.  It was soon evident, however, that even during the attack he
was unnaturally elevated by the effects of the medicine; for although a
known and tried hand, and acknowledged to be one of the bravest men in
the ship, yet his extraordinary conduct had startled many of us, myself
amongst others.  When the long shed was set fire to, for instance, I
thought he was drunk, for he kept swaggering about, with half shut
eyes, and speaking to himself, in a manner altogether unaccountable,
knowing as I did the character of the man; but in the tumult I had
after this lost sight of him.

"What makes you so down-hearted, my man?"

I now saw that the poor fellow was evidently still under the influence
of laudanum, although the exhilarating effects had evaporated.  It
afterwards came to my knowledge, that the surgeon, seeing his weak
state when the boats got on board again, had given him.  another dose,
but this had not yet had time to operate.

"What makes you so down-hearted?" I repeated.

"Down-hearted!" he rejoined, his eyes twinkling brightly, as the fresh
doze began to operate; "down-hearted, bless your honour!  I was rather
so, certainly, some time ago, but now I begin to feel myself growing
the happiest fellow in the whole ship,--yes, the
happiest--happy--hap"----and he fell over into a short troubled snooze.

Some time elapsed, and I had removed to another part of the vessel,
when I again heard his voice.

"Stand clear until I get out--don't you hear them call all
hands?--so,"--and before I could prevent him he had floundered on deck.

We lifted him into his hammock again.  He still continued to breathe
very hard.  At length he looked me right in the face,--

"I say, master-at-arms--Lord! what a comical dream I have had!  Why, we
were all ashore cutting out,--what do you think?--a little heathen god,
defended by bull-dogs!--and a devil of a good fight he made of it, ha,
ha, ha!--We were too many for him though; and when we had set fire to
his house, and split the skulls of a thousand of his people or so, the
little grinning, monkeyfied son-of-a-gun, just as I was taking aim at
him, jumped down from his perch, and flew like a cannon-shot right
against me, giving me such a settler, ha, ha, ha!--Zounds! only fancy
Jack Lennox mentioned in the return, as 'Killed by a heathen god! the
bloody little image pitching itself right into his stomach!'--ha, ha,
ha!"

And so in truth it was.  For when our friend Sergeant Quacco bolted, on
finding the shrine of the Fetish no sanctuary, and had whirled the
image amongst us, the uncouth missile had brought up in the pit of poor
Lennox's stomach sure enough, where it had told most fearfully.

All the wounded complained greatly of thirst, scarcely one of them in
his groanings saying a word about the _pain_ of his wounds.

Another poor fellow, an Irishman, who belonged to the frigate's
mizen-top, had got a cruel cut transversely down his cheek, which it
had fairly laid open.

"Well, Callaghan," said I, in my new capacity of surgeon's mate, "how
do you get on?  Ugly gash that--spoiled your beauty, my fine fellow.
But never mind--Greenwich at the worst under your lee, you know."

He looked at me, with a face as pale as death, but with a comical
expression notwithstanding, and a bright twinkle of his eye--"Please
you, sir, tobacco juice nips like fury."

"I don't doubt it.  But what have you to do with it at present?  Wait
until your wound gets better.  Surely you have not a quid in your cheek
_now_?"

He sucked in his sound cheek; but the exertion started the
plaster-straps that had been applied across the wound in the other, and
the blood began to flow.

"Blazes!" said he, "if that d--d quid won't be the death of me!" and
thereupon he hooked it out of his potato-trap with his finger, and
threw the cherished morsel with great violence from him.

Here our Scotch friend again broke in upon us--"I say, you Clinker--you
master-at-arms--damn me (gude forgie me for swearing) if I think it is
a dream after all.  I am now sure it was a _bona fide_ spree that we
have had on shore, and that my days are numbered from the thump I
received from the graven image.  Lord, that Saunders Skelp should have
been left _to dree such weird_!  Hech, but _the contusion_ was most
awful sair!"

I pricked up my ears when, first of all in his ravings, I heard the
poor fellow pronounce the words _bona fide_, but followed up as this
was by his speaking of a _contusion_, a word utterly unknown amongst
the crew on the berth-deck, I became riveted to the spot, and most
anxiously desirous to know something more of our marine.  I had stepped
a few paces towards the ladder, but my curiosity again drew me to the
side of his hammock.

"I say, friend, wha may ye be?" said the man--in the common routine of
the ship, I had never noticed his Scotch accent before; more Scotch
now, by the way, than it usually was--"I say, friend, what for do you
persevere in haunting me in this way?"

"Why, my good man, I am only lending a hand to see you and the rest of
the wounded properly cared for--believe me, I have no desire to bother
you or any one else."

"It may be all vera true," said he, turning himself, apparently with
great pain, on his back; "it may be vera true--but noo, sin' I am
persuaded that I dinna dream, let me gather the sma' wits God has gi'en
me weel about me.  Let me see--let me see--we all ken the service we
were ordered on this blessed morning--nane better than Saunders
Skelp--what am I dreaming o'?  Jack Lennox, I mean--gude hae a care o'
us, my harns[1] are strangely confused."  Then, after a pause, during
which he appeared to be exerting himself to call in his scattered
thoughts--"Weel a-weel, ye a' ken wha focht, and wha sang sma, and mony
a stalwart blow was struck--_that_ I ken--and sickly as I was, it
behoved me, the son o' auld Pate Skelp of Lincomdodie, to do my
_devoir_, as Sir Walter says, and to it I buckled; but I shall believe
in second sicht or any other miracle noo, for we drave a' obstruction
before us like chaff, until we encountered wi' that wee wudden goddity;
when, to stop our advance (I saw it as plain as peas), the creature
whirled aff its perch, and flew crack against the midriff of me,
Saunders, like a stane frae a _testudo_--Hoot, no, of Jack Lennox, I
mean."


[1] Brains.


"My good friend," said I, "you must be very ill--compose yourself."
Then aside to one of the men, "Are you sure Lennox is not tipsy?"  The
poor fellow overheard me.

"Tipsy! me foo!" and he lay back and drew a long breath like a
porpoise.  He immediately continued--"Ay, and I believe I am foo after
all--but wha may ye be that taunts me thereanent sae unceremoniously,
and me mair than half dead?  It was na _yeer_ siller that slokened me,
I'se warrant, if foo I am--Foo!--sma' manners have ye to taunt a puir
chiel like me with being foo--my certie, whisky maun hae been plentier
than gentlemen among us the day; or foo I neer wad hae been--Foo!"

I was now much interested about the poor fellow, and as I incommoded
the wounded man who lay in the cot next him to port, I moved round to
the other side, and again addressed our eccentric friend.  "Now, my
good man," said I, "I don't want to teaze you; but as the doctor says
he has great doubts of you, I again ask you if I can do any thing for
you; have you any bequest to leave?"

"I say, freen'," rapped out the poor fellow, "the doctor may go be
damned,"--this was certainly very plain, if not very
complimentary;--"and it will not break my heart if ye're no that far
ahint him.  But I shall live to dance at his _dregy_[2] yet.  What can
he say to a man like me?  But you, sir, it was you that accused me of
getting drunk--and drunk I may be after all, for my head sooms most
awfu'."


[2] Dirge--burial.


The poor creature's mind was now utterly a wool-gathering.  Presently
he called out, "I say, my lad, what are you abusing that brute beast
for?  Haud aff the dog, sir--that's the beast that wanted to worry Mr
Brail; but never mind, dinna massacre him, noo since you have ta'en
him--never abuse a prisoner."

I began to get tired of this, and was about moving from where I stood,
and going on deck, when, on turning round, I found the ladder had been
unshipped on purpose to afford access to some locker behind it, and
Sprawl and I, unless we had chosen to give additional trouble to poor
devils who were most of them sufficiently _done_ already, were obliged
to remain a little longer where we were.  Immediately after this Lennox
again sung out, "Neebour, can you tell me whar about we are, eh?"--and
before I could answer he continued, "Hech, man, he's but a puir shilpit
cretur, that Brail lad."  I was half inclined to be angry at this
unceremonious opinion of my personal qualifications, but to be thus
apostrophized to my face, was so very absurd, that I laughed in spite
of myself.  "A puir bit animal, sir," the man continued--"and tak my
word for it, Saunders Skelp's word, that he must have been ony thing
but gleg at the uptak.  The chiel, I'se warrant, was slow, slow at his
lair--a kind of _yird taid_ as it were--and what the deevil that
hairum-scairum captain of ours, Sir Oliver, could see in the animal to
take him to sea with him, I'm sure I canna tell.  But then the
commodore is siccan a throughither kind o' chap himsell, that when ane
has time to reflect on't, there is nay miracle in his drawing to this
camsteerie callant, Benjie Brail, after all."

I could no longer contain, so smothering my laughter the best way I
could, I left him, and was in the act of ascending when I heard our
friend Skelp again maundering to himself.

"God, to have seen the birr with which the wee deevil of a heathen god
flew right through the air, and gied me siccan a devel in the wame.
Hech, it is ominous--vary ominous, and I'll die o't, I'll die o't."
Then, as he hove about on the other tack, "it is maist awfu' het in
this cursed hole; oh for a green tree and a cool breeze!

  'Tityre, tu patulæ recubans sub tegmine fagi.'"


A long pause.

"Lord, but it's chokey!"

I laughed outright, and so did Sprawl.  Saunders noticed this, and in
his delirium began to laugh too.

"What's that skirling like the curlew one moment, and grunting like a
nine farrow pig the other?  I say, friend, what kittles ye sae?  Come
here, my wee man, come here;" and raising himself in his hammock, he
stared idly into my face, and then shook his head violently.  "Heard
ever any Christian the like o' that?" said the poor corporal; "hear
till that," and he again walloped his _cabeza_ from side to side;
"dinna ye hear hoo my brain is dried up and knotted in my _cranium_ by
this vile fever?  Safe us, it's a' into lumps like aitmeal in brose,
and noo the lumps have hardened into a consistence like flint,--losh!
how they rattle in my skull like chucky stanes in a wean's
rash-basket!"  Another shake of his head.  "Ech, the very fire-sparks
are fleeing from my ee.  I wonder if they can be hardened ideas; at ony
rate they have struck fire frae ilk ither.  Do ye ken I could write
poetry the noo--I'll be up and overboard, if you dinna haud me--I'll be
up and overboard."

Discreet even in his madness, he had given warning and time for the
hint to be taken by his mess-mates, and he was now forcibly held down.

As he lay back he continued to murmur, "Oh, puir Saunders Skelp, puir
Saunders Skelp, that ye should hae gotten yer death-blow frae a bloody
wee heathen god, and you the son of a minister's man--a godly bairn of
the Reformation!"  Then lifting his head, as if his own exclamation had
startled him, "Saunders Skelp--wha ca's on Saunders Skelp--there is nae
Saunders Skelp here, I trow?  As for you, ye wee blackened deevil,"
(me, Benjie Brail, viz.) "Oh, man, if I had gotten the educating o' ye,
my taws wad hae driven mair lair intil ye at the but-end, than ten
Southern maisters wha appeal till the head."

Our attention was here diverted by the hail of the look-out on deck.

"Boat, ahoy!"  A pause.  "Coming here?"  Still no answer.

I scrambled up the ladder, by this time replaced, accompanied by Mr
Sprawl and Lanyard, who, during my idle palaver with the Scotch
corporal, had made an overhaul of all the poor fellows, and seen every
one's wants attended to.  When we came on deck, we found a cluster of
people at the aftermost part of the felucca.  The moment we advanced,
little Binnacle said, "Some one has twice hailed us from the water
astern, sir, but we can make nothing of it.  We hear the voice, but we
cannot see the man who shouts, sir."

Both Davie Doublepipe and myself strained our eyes to catch the object;
for although it was a bright moonlight overhead, yet astern of us the
thick mist that had rolled down the river, and still hovered in that
direction, concealed everything under its watery veil.

Presently we heard the splash of a paddle, and a voice shouted out,
"Oh, dis current, dis current!  I never sall be able to stem him.  Send
a boat to pick me up; do--send a boat, massa."

This was one thing we begged to decline doing.

"My man, whoever you may be, you must shove ahead, and get alongside
yourself, for no boat shall be sent to you until we make you out," sung
out old Dick.

Here we could hear the creature, whatever it was, puff and blow, and
the splashing of the paddle became louder, while every now and then it
gave a thump with its open palm on the side of the canoe, or whatever
it might be it was in.  At length a small dory, as it is called in the
West Indies, a tiny sort of canoe, shot out of the fog, with a dark
figure paddling with all his might in the stern, while a slighter one
was sitting in the bow.  He was soon alongside, and who should scramble
on board but our friend the resetter.  He took no notice of any of us,
but, turning round, stooped down over the side, and said something in
an African dialect, that I could not understand, to the figure in the
boat, who immediately handed up what appeared to me to be a log of
wood, which he put away carefully beside the long-gun.  He then called
out again to the party remaining in the canoe to come on deck, when a
handsome young Eboe woman stepped on board.

"Now, captain," said our free-and-easy friend--"now, captain, will you
hab de goodness to hoist in my dory?"

"And for what should I do that same?" said the fourth lieutenant, a
little taken aback by the fellow's cool impudence.  "Little reason why
I should not knock you overboard, my darling, after the transactions of
this morning."

"Transaction, captain?  O, massa, I don't know him; but dis I knows, if
you hab got into one scrape dis day, you desarve it--ah, very mosh."

A momentary feeling of irritation shot across Lanyard, but the
absurdity of the whole affair instantly quelled it, and, in spite of
himself, he could not help laughing.

"Well, well, Clinker, take care of this man, and the woman who is with
him, will ye? and tell Jerry to get supper in the cabin."

The lieutenants and I resumed our walk on the confined deck of the
little vessel for a quarter of an hour, when the steward came and
announced that supper was ready.  We went below, where our comforts in
a small way had been excellently well attended to; the lamp was burning
cheerily, the small table was covered with an immaculate table-cloth,
although none of the finest; and two well-filled decanters of Teneriffe
sparkled on the board, while a beautiful junk of cold salt beef, and a
dish of taties in their skins, with the steam smoking up through the
cracks in them, and a large case-bottle of capital old Jamaica, gave
assurance of a small streak of comfort after the disasters and fatigues
of the day.

Speaking of potatoes, stop till I immortalize my old mother's receipt.
"To dress a potato--_wash_ it well, but no _scraping_; at the thickest
end cut off a piece"--(I beg the dear old woman's pardon--_pace_)--"cut
off a piece the size of a sixpence.  This is the safety-valve through
which the steam escapes, and all rents in the skin are thereby
prevented---just as the aforesaid valve prevents a rupture in the
steam-boiler; and if you do this carefully, oh for the mealiness
(_maliness_) thereof!"

Lanyard had asked old Pumpbolt the master, little Binnacle his only
mid, the youngster who had behaved so gallantly at the start, to sup
with him; along with Mr Marline, one of the master's mates of the
Gazelle; and young De Walden, another reefer of the dear old barky, a
most beautiful, tall, handsome, although slightly framed, boy.  So far
as I can judge, the youngster stood about five feet ten.  He might have
been more.  He had his shoes on, but no stockings--very wide
trowsers--no waistcoat nor jacket, but a broad white-and-blue striped
shirt, folded very far back at the throat, and no neckcloth.  He wore
an enormously broad-brimmed straw hat, with a black ribbon round it, in
rather a natty bow on the left side, while his loins were still girt
with his by no means maiden sword.  As I was diving into the cabin
through the small companion, he came up to me--"Do you know, sir, that
I cannot sup with Mr Lanyard to-night?  I wish you would ask him to
excuse me, sir"--

"Indeed, Master de Walden," said I, "I cannot; you must come; I am sure
a glass of wine will do you good."

"I know, sir, I know, and am very much obliged to you; but--but I have
no clothes, sir.  I wet my jacket this morning in weighing the
stream-anchor, and my only other one is so covered with mud, that
really I am unable decently to appear in it."

"Poo, never mind, boy; come down in any way you choose."

We adjourned to the cabin.  Old David, as pleasant a fellow as ever
stepped, notwithstanding his peculiarities; Dick Lanyard, a darling in
his way; Pumpbolt and myself sat down at one side of the table, having
first deliberately taken our coats off.  We were confronted by little
Binnacle, and the other midshipmen, who came down immediately after.
Young de Walden sat in his trowsers and shirt, with his black silk
cravat tied only once round his neck, and a red silk handkerchief round
his waist.  The dress set off the handsome young fellow's figure to
great advantage, the fineness of his waist giving a splendid relief to
the spread of his shoulders, while his beautifully moulded neck, white
as the driven snow, contrasted strikingly with his noble but sun-burnt
countenance; while his hair curled in short black ringlets far back on
his large marble forehead.

The salt junk was placed on the table, and we all began our operations
with great zeal; the biscuit vanished in bushelsful,--the boys were
happy as princes, the smallest, little Binnacle, becoming talkative
from the comfortable meal, and the exhilarating effects of a stiffish
glass of grog, when who should walk into the cabin but Sergeant Quacco
himself?  He had diversified his loveliness after a most remarkable
manner; first, he was naked as the day his mother bore him, all to his
waistcloth of red serge.  He had sandals of coarse untanned leather on
his feet, a cross belt of black leather slung over his right shoulder,
which supported a bayonet without a sheath, and into which the rust had
eaten--the whole affair being much honeycombed--while his broad chest
and brawny arms were tatooed in gunpowder or indigo, with the most
fantastic shapes.  On his head he wore an old military shacko, the
brass ornaments cruelly tarnished, and carried a long wand of wild cane
in his hand, of the thickness of my thumb, and about ten feet high, the
top of which kept rasp, rasping, slantingly against the roof of the low
cabin as he spoke.

"Hillo, steward, what do you mean by this, that you let these savages
turn us out of house and home in this manner?" cried the fourth
lieutenant.--Then addressing the interloper--"My fine fellow, you are a
little off your cruising ground, so be making yourself
scarce--Bolt--vanish--get on deck with you, or I shall be after
swearing a very ugly oath."

"Massa, massa," quoth the man, "easy for you chuck me oberboard--nobody
can say you shan't--but only listen leetle bit, and I know you yousef
shall say my hargument good for someting."

There was a pause, during which he civilly waited for Lanyard to speak,
when finding he had no inclination to do so, he continued--

"Ah I know, and I older man den you, massa; people never should trike
when dem blood is up, unless in de case of fight for Kin Shorge.  Ah,
alway wait, massa, until you see and consider of de reason of de ting."

The good-hearted fellow was rebuked before the poor black savage; I
suppose the latter saw it in his face, for all at once he gathered
courage, and approached close to him, and placing his large black
paw--I noticed the palm was a dingy white--on his arm between the elbow
and wrist, he looked up into Dick's face,--

"Massa, you have not got one wife?"

"No I have not."

"But, massa, you can fancy yourself to hab one wife."

Lanyard nodded.

"Well, den, I go on.  Suppose you hab one comfortable house, plenty pig
dere, yam grow all round, orange tree blossom close to, plantain trow
him cool shadow over all, bending heavily in de breeze, over de house;
wid de fruit ready for drop into your mout, when you look up at him; de
leetle guinea pig squeak here and snort dere; we hab pineapple and
star-apple--oh, wery sweet--de great corn (maise dem call him) grow all
round de house; pease cover him like one vine; and your servants are
working and singing, and de comfortable sunshine is drying every ting,
and closing all de beautiful flowers in him sleepy heat.  You yousef
are sitting in your chair, wid some small drop of grog, after you hab
eat good dinner of goat, and maybe one broiled fis; and just when you
take your pipe, light him, and put him into your mout--crack--one
musket-shot sing over your head--you jomp--(who would not jomp?--Debil
himself would jomp)--and before you can tink--flash--one sailor make
blow at you wid him glass-clear cutlass.  And ah, massa, suppose de
worstest to come, and dese strangers to set fire to your quiet hut,
after beating and bruising _you_; and de flames begin to crackle and
hiss over de wery apartment where you know your wife is, and are
consuming all your goods at de same time; and dem black people _were my
goods_: for if you had left we to oursef dis morning, I should have got
two hundred doubloon, and five hundred piece of check clot, from de
Spanish captain, for dose one hundred and fifty slave; who," (his smile
here might have been the envy of the Fiend himself,) "to prevent dem
from being miserable as you call in Havanna, you hab sent to be happy
in heaven."  And he groaned in great bitterness of spirit.

I was much struck with all this, and looked steadfastly at the poor
creature, who was standing right opposite me with his arms folded, in
all the dignity of a brave man, who considers his fate sealed.  There
was a long pause.  When he next spoke, it was in a low melancholy tone.

"De morning sun, when him first sparkle on de waterdrop dat hang like
diamond on de fresh green leaf, shine on me dis wery morning, one reesh
and happy man--one leetle chief--master of all dem ting I speak about.
White man-of-war peoples come.  Sun set in de west,--red trou de sickly
fog, leaving every wegitable yellow, and dry, and dusty--who him shine
on now--on me, Quacco, once more--aye, but Quacco widout house, or
home, or friend, or goods, more as he hab on him back--on Quacco
standing up in him kin, desolate as one big large baboon de day him new
catch."  Here the poor fellow could no longer control his feelings, but
wept bitterly--after a burst of grief, he continued, with a voice
almost inarticulate from intense emotion--"If all dis was pass wid you,
captain, in one leetle hot day, in one small twelve hour!"  But his
manhood once more rallied in his bosom, and making a step towards
Lanyard, with all the native independence of a noble savage, he said,
laying one of his hands on his heart, "Yes, massa, I ask you, had all
dis happen to you, let alone one poor black debil like myself, white
man as you is--Kin's officer as you is--Christian person on de back of
bote--can you put your hand where mine is now, and say, dat your spirit
would not have been much move--dat it would not have been a bitter,
bitter ting to look back to what you was when dat sun rose, and den to
consider what his last light glanced on?"  He now slowly drew his
bayonet--I started at the motion, and Sprawl half rose from his chair,
and seized the carving knife that lay on the table.

The man did not move a muscle, but continued looking steadfastly in the
fourth lieutenant's face, while he placed the handle or pipe of the
naked weapon in his right hand.

"Massa," at length he said, coolly and deliberately, "I am helpless and
unarmed, and a poor drunken rascal beside, and in your power--one
moment and you can make cut my troat."  Dick returned the weapon, and
signed to him to sheath it, which he did--he then unexpectedly turned
round to me----"And as for you massa, if I have ill used _you_ dis day,
you know of de provocation--you best know what you would have done in
my place.  But, massa, bote for we blood is red, and you should not
forget dis ting, dat one time dis forenoon it might hab been for you
place to hax Serjeant Quacco to save you from dem brute beast on sore."

I was taken regularly aback, and blackie saw it; so he now assumed an
easier mien, as if conscious he had made a favourable impression.

"But what brought you here, my good man?" said I.

"De fear of death," he promptly replied.  "It has enter de foolis head
of de blacks dat I was de cause of de attack--dat I was in league wid
you, being, as you see, one Englis gentleman like yousefs."  (I had
great difficulty in maintaining my gravity at all this.)  "So my wife
dere creep to where I hide when de evening come, and say"--here he took
hold of Sprawl's hand in both of his, and looked up tenderly into his
face--(any one having our friend Liston's countenance, when the Beauty
is shamming Bashful, painted on the retina of his mind's eye, has a
tolerable idea of the expression of Davie's face.  Oh for an hour of
Wilkie to have caught the two cherubs as a group!)--"'Quacco'--him say
'_Hokey doodle doo_.'"

"Say what?" quoth Sprawl, like to choke with suppressed laughter--"Say
what?"

The poor fellow regarded the lieutenant for some time with the greatest
surprise, murmuring aside, "What can de good gentleman see to amuse him
so mosh?" then aloud, "Him say in de Eboe tongue, 'you old willain,
your troat is to be slice dis wery night.'--'De debil,' say I, '_Jooram
junkee pop_, say I; dat is, it shan't if I can help it.  So I bolt--run
away--launch dory--and here I is, Serjeant Quacco, ready once more to
serve his Majesty Kin Shorge--God save de Kin!"

Here old Bloody Politeful fairly exploded into the most uproarious
mirth.  The negro looked at him in great amazement for some time, until
at length the infection caught me, when blowing all my manners to the
winds, off I went at score after our friend.  The peculiarities of
Davie Doublepipe's voice were more conspicuous in his joyous moments,
if that were possible, than when he spoke calmly; and as he shouted
out, "I say, Benjie, _Jooram junkee pop_," in one tune, and "Why,
Lanyard, _Hokey doodle doo_," in the other, the alternations were so
startling to poor Quacco's ear, that he looked at the lieutenant and
then at me first of all in great alarm, and with his eye on the door,
as if to ascertain that there was no impediment to a rapid retreat.  At
last he seemed to comprehend the mystery, and caught the contagion of
our mirth also, shouting as loud as either of us--"What dem white
gentlemen can see to laugh at--what funny ting it can be? ha, ha,
ha--dat big one speak wery comical; one time squeak squeak like one
leetle guinea-pig, den grunt grunt like de big boar; he must surely be
two mans tie up in one kin--ha, ha, ha!"  The negro instantly saw the
advantage he had gained over us, in being the cause of so much
merriment, and he appeared determined not to lose it.  "So you shee,
massa Captain--you really mosh not be asame, after all, to be shivel to
me and my vife--who is here cowering behind de door; I bring him dat
you may see him take care of, for de men dere forward don't behave
well--none at all."

"Why, Mr Serjeant," said Sprawl, "show the lady in, and no more about
it."  The man said something in Eboe, and forthwith in stepped one of
the most startling apparitions that ever I witnessed.  It was a tall,
exquisitely formed young Eboe woman--fair enough to have passed for a
mulatto.  She wore neatly worked grass buskins, that fitted round the
ankle, as close as a laced boot made by Gundry.  Her only dress was
composed of a long web of some sort of native cloth, about a foot wide,
and composed of red, blue, and yellow stripes alternately.  Three or
four turns of it were wrapped round her loins, and then an end hung
down before, with a deep fringe of the blended colours of the stripes;
while the other end was carried up from the right hip, across her back,
and brought over the left shoulder, where it was again festooned, by
being twined two or three turns round the left arm; which, when she
entered, was folded across her bosom.  Her skin was thickly tatooed at
the waist, but her beautiful bosom was untouched; all to a dark peak,
that projected upwards, giving the tatooing the appearance of a
dark-coloured stomacher.  Her cheeks and forehead were also thickly
marked, but without impairing the beauty of the expression of her
bland, although African features--such an eye, and such teeth!  She
wore large gold ear-rings; and anklets and armlets of solid silver.
Her head was bound round with a large green or blue cotton shawl; and
there she stood, looking at us with the greatest composure; totally
unconscious of the unusualness of her costume, or the scantiness
thereof.

"Well, my good man, take a glass of grog, will ye? and here, give your
wife a glass of wine, and then go and betake yourselves to rest, in the
quietest corner you can find.--Here, steward, see that Serjeant Quacco
and his wife are cared for--a corner forward of some kind or another
until morning."

"Never say such a ting, massa--de men were unpleasant company--can't go
to dem--so I bring my vife to sleep wid you."

"Mighty obliged, master serjeant--but would rather be excused, if it be
the same thing to you."

"Ho, ho, ho," laughed the savage--"I mean, massa, dat you would permit
we to sleep at foot of de ladder dere, and not be obliged to go among
de rude peoples in de oder part of de sip."

"Well, well, do as you please; but let me go and secure a couple of
hours' sleep, before the tide turns, will ye?"

"Certainly, massa--would like to drink your health, though,
massa--Leetle more grog, please, massa."

"Not another drop, sir.--Steward, see Serjeant Quacco and his wife
safely bestowed under the ladder there, and then fasten the door."

Here Quacco once more stuck his round head in at the door.  "Massa, I
beg one fowl to kill before de fetish."

"Get along with you, sir--away."

Our black visitors finally disappeared, and I turned round to look at
my shipmates.  The first lieutenant had fallen back, with his head
resting against the small side-berth, sound asleep, with a piece of
beef on his fork, the latter firmly clutched in his hands; Dick Lanyard
had fairly slipped down, until he hung by his chin on the edge of the
table, like a parrot suspended by his beak; old Pumpbolt had slid off
his chair altogether, and was fast enough on the bare deck, with his
unquenched pipe sticking in his mouth; while the poor little reefers
had fallen forward with their heads on the table; Dick Marline having
actually dropped with his nose into his plate, amongst the beef and
potatoes; and all snoring most melodiously.  We were in truth
completely done up; so, leaving our friends stretched on the lockers
and in the berths, and bestowed as well as the slender means of the
small vessel permitted, I adjourned to the deck once more, in my
capacity of pilot, to see how the weather looked.

I then returned to the cabin, and having desired the steward, who was
comparatively fresh, to call me when the tide turned, I offered up my
short but heart-warm prayer of thanksgiving to the God of my fathers
for his great mercy vouchsafed to me during the past day; and imploring
his gracious protection during the coming night, I lay down in my
berth, where in a minute I was as sound asleep as the others.



CHAPTER V.

AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF SERJEANT QUACCO.

I had scarcely, to my conception, been asleep at all, when I was called
again.  "If ever I practise the calling of a pilot in this wide world
after this!" said I to myself as I stumbled, yawning and stretching,
about the confined cabin.

It might have been about eleven at night when I got on deck.  There was
a heavy ground-swell tumbling in upon us over the bar, which made the
little vessel pitch violently.

"See all clear to cut away the kedge," said I.

But there was no need; for the swell that rolled in was as yet deep,
dark, and unbroken.  I looked forth into the night, endeavouring by the
starlight, for the moon was obscured by a thick bank of clouds in the
eastern horizon, to distinguish the whereabouts of the bar at the
river's mouth, but all was black flowing water, and there was no sound
of breakers; so I again went below, and in a minute slept as sound as
before.

I cannot precisely say how long I had been in the land of dreams, when
I was again roused by the steward calling Mr Lanyard.

"Mr Wadding"--this was the gunner of the little vessel--"does not like
the look of the weather, sir; it has become somewhat threatening, and
the felucca is riding very uneasy since the tide has turned, sir."

The sharp jerking motion of the small craft corroborated the man's
account but too forcibly; and once more I went on deck, accompanied by
the lieutenant, where I was a good deal startled by the scene before
me.  The ebb-tide was now running down, and past us like a mill-stream;
and the bar, which a couple of hours before was all black and
undistinguishable, began now to be conspicuous, from a crescent of
white waves which shone even through the darkness; while a deep and
increasing hoarse murmur, "like thunder heard remote," was borne up the
river towards us on the night wind.  The foaming breakers on the bar,
as the tide continued to fall, spread out; and in an hour, the rush of
the tide downwards, and the tumble of the sea inwards, placed us, even
at the distance of our anchorage, in a regular cauldron of broken
water, where the little craft was knocked about as if she belonged to
nobody, while every moment I expected the cable to part.

It was a regular snow-storm; the swell, broken on the bar, roared into
the river in splashing waves, which, when the downward current dashed
against them, flew up in spouts, covering every thing with spray, that
was puffed away seaward like smoke by the sharp land-breeze which had
suddenly set down, counter-checking in a moment the regular easterly
trade-wind.  The little vessel was thus kicked here and yerked there,
as if it had been a cork in the midst of the bubbling of a boiling pot.
Oh! how I longed for daylight!  At length daylight came, and the sun
began to exhale the dank pestiferous vapours that towards grey dawn had
once more mantled over the water.

For an hour it was again so thick that we could see nothing in the
direction of the bar; but the noise of the breakers continued to
increase; and as the boats alongside were by this time, notwithstanding
all our endeavours, half full of water, I feared that, even when the
tide began to answer again, we should be unable to send one of them
down to sound; so there we lay in the miserable consciousness of having
been foiled in our object on the one hand, and with small prospect of
being able to get out to rejoin the frigate on the other.  At length,
towards seven o'clock, the mist rose; the unwholesome smell of mud, and
slime, and putrifying vegetables was no longer perceptible, and the
glorious sun once more shone on the broad expanse of rushing waters.
The mangrove-covered banks became again distinctly visible and
well-defined, and the horizon seaward began to look blue, clear, and
cheery.  But all this while the bar was one bow of roaring foam; that
increased as the sea-breeze freshened, and fairly stifled the _terral_,
until there was not one solitary narrow streak of blue water in the
whole breadth of the river's mouth.

Dick was pacing the deck in no small perplexity I saw, debating in his
own mind whether or not he should send below and rouse out Mr Sprawl,
when the surgeon passed me.

"Good morning, doctor."

He returned the salute.

"How are all the wounded this morning?"

"All doing well, sir."

"And Lennox, how is he?"

The doctor laughed.

"Oh, all right with him now, sir; but the poor fellow is awfully
ashamed at the exhibition his messmates have told him he made
yesterday.  He is much better, however; and I hope will be out of his
hammock this forenoon, if the weather keeps fine."

I had a sort of anxiety to know, from my own observation, how the poor
fellows were getting on; so I followed our friend, and descended with
him in his visit to the sick and hurt.

Almost the first man I spoke to was Lennox.

"Glad to find you so much better, my man; I hope you feel yourself
stronger this morning?"

A faint blush spread over the poor fellow's thin wasted features, and
he hesitated in his answer.  At length he stammered out--"Thank you,
sir; I am much better, sir."

"Who is that blocking up the hatchway?"' said the doctor, as some dark
body nearly filled the entire aperture.

Presently the half-naked figure of Serjeant Quacco descended the
ladder.  He paid no attention to me, or any body else; but spoke to
some one on deck in the Eboe tongue, when his wife appeared at the
coamings of the hatchway, hugging and fondling the identical and most
abominable little graven image we had seen in the fetish hut, as if it
had been her child--her own flesh and blood.  She handed it down to the
black Serjeant, who placed it in a corner, nuzzling, and rubbing his
nose all over it, as if he had been propitiating the tiny Moloch by the
abjectness of his abasement.  I was curious to see how Lennox would
take all this, but it produced no effect: he looked with a quizzical
expression of countenance at the figure for some time, and then lay
back in his hammock, and seemed to be composing himself to sleep.  I
went on deck, leaving the negro and his sable helpmate below amongst
the men, and was conversing with Mr Sprawl, who had by this time made
his appearance; when we were suddenly startled by a loud shriek from
the negress, who shot up from below, plunged instantly overboard, and
began to swim with great speed towards the shore.  She was instantly
followed by our friend the serjeant, who for a second or two looked
forth after the sable naiad, in an attitude as if the very next moment
he would have followed her.  I hailed the dingy Venus--"Come back, my
dear--come back."  She turned round with a laughing countenance, but
never for a moment hesitated in her shoreward progress.

"What sall become of me!" screamed Serjeant Quacco--"Oh, Lord, I sail
lose my vife--debil fetch dem sailor buccra--cost me feefty
dallar--Lose my vife I--dat de dam little fetish say mosh be save.  Oh,
poor debil dat I is I"--and here followed a long tirade in some African
dialect, that was utterly unintelligible to us.

"My good fellow, don't make such an uproar, will ye?" said I.  "Leave
your wife to her fate: you cannot better yourself if you would die for
it."

"I don't know, massa; I don't know.  Him cost me feefty dallar.
Beside, as massa must have seen, him beautiful! oh, very
beautiful!--and what you tink dem willain asore will do to him?  Ah,
massa, you can't tell what dem will do to him?"

"Why, my good man, what _will_ they do?"

"Eat him, massa, may be; for dey look on him as one who now is
enemy--dat is, dey call me enemy, and dey know him is my vife--Oh,
Lord--feefty dallar--all go, de day dem roast my vife."

I could scarcely refrain from laughing; but on the instant the poor
fellow ran up to the old quartermaster, who was standing near the mast,
admiring the construction of the canoe,--as beautiful a skiff, by the
way, as was ever scooped out of tree.  "Help me, old man; help me to
launch de canoe.  I must go on sore--I must go on sore."

The seaman looked at me--I nodded; and, taking the hint, he instantly
lent Blackie a hand.  The canoe was launched overboard, and the next
moment Serjeant Quacco was paddling after his adored, that had cost him
fifty dollars, in double-quick time.

He seemed, so far as we could judge, to be rapidly overtaking her, when
the little promontory of the creek hid them from our view; and under
the impression that we had seen the last of him, I began to hug myself
in the hope of getting over the bar that forenoon.  An hour might have
elapsed, and all remained quiet, except at the bar, and even there the
thunder and hissing of the breakers began to fail.  As the tide made,
Lanyard saw all ready to go to sea; but I was soon persuaded, that,
from the extreme heaviness of the ground swell that rolled in, there
was no chance of our extricating ourselves until the evening at the
soonest, or it might be next morning, when the young ebb would give us
a lift; so we were walking up and down, to while away the time, when
poor Lennox, who had by this time come on deck, said, on my addressing
him, that he had seen small jets of white smoke rise up from among the
green mangroves now and then; and although he had not heard any report,
yet he was persuaded they indicated musket-shots.

"It may all be as you say, Lennox; but I hope we shall soon be clear of
this accursed river, and then they may blaze away at each other as much
as they please."

The words were scarcely out of my mouth, when we not only saw the
smoke, but heard the rattle of musketry, and presently a small black
speck shot rapidly beyond the headland or cape, that shut in our view,
on the larboard side, up the river.

On its nearer approach, we soon perceived that it was our friend Quacco
once more, in his small dory of a canoe, with the little fetish god
stuck over the bow; but there was no appearance of his wife.

As he drew closer to the vessel, the man appeared absolutely frantic.
He worked and sculled away with his paddle as if he had been mad; and
when at last he got on deck, having previously cast the little horrible
image up before him, he began to curse and to swear, at one moment in
the Eboe tongue, at another in bad Creole English, as if he had been
possessed with a devil--

"_Hoo chockaro, chockaro, soo ho_--Oh, who could tink young woman could
hab so mosh deceit!--_Ah, Queykarre tol de rot jig tootle too--to leave
me Quacco, and go join dem Eboe willain_!"  Then, as if recollecting
himself--"But how I do know dat dem no frighten him for say so?  Ah,
now I remember one ogly dag stand beside him hab long clear knife in
him hand.  Oh, Lord!  _Tooka, Tooka--Cookery Pee Que_--Ah, poor ting!
dem hab decoy him--cheat him into dem power--and to-morrow morning sun
will see dem cook him--ay, and eat him.  Oh dear, dem will eat my
vife--oh, him cost me feefty dallar--eat my feefty dallar--_oh
Kickereboo--Rotan_!"

And straightway he cast himself on the deck, and began to yell and roll
over and over, as if he had been in the greatest agony.  Presently he
jumped on his legs again, and ran and laid hold of the little graven
image.  He caught it up by the legs, and smashed its head down on the
hard deck.  "You dam fetish--you false willain, dis what you give me
for kill fowl, eh? and tro de blood in you face, eh? and stick fedder
in you tail, eh? and put blanket over you shoulder when rain come, and
night fog roll over we and make you chilly?  What you give me for all
dis?  You drive me go on board dam footy little Englis cruiser, and
give my vife, cost me feefty dallar, to be roast and eat?  Oh, Massa
Carpenter, do lend me one hax;" and seizing the tool, that had been
brought on deck and lay near him, he, at a blow, split open the
fetish's head, and continued to mutilate it, until he was forcibly
disarmed by some of the men that stood by him.

After this the poor savage walked doggedly about the deck for a minute
or two, as if altogether irresolute what to do; at length he dived
suddenly below.

"Breakfast is ready, sir," said the boy who acted the part of steward;
and Lanyard, having asked me to accompany him, descended to do the
honours to his company--rather a large party, by the way, for the size
of the small cabin.

We all made the best use of our time for a quarter of an hour; at
length little Binnacle broke ground.

"We have been hearing a curious history of this black fellow, sir."

"What was it?  Little good of him you could have heard, I should have
thought," quoth Sprawl.

"Why, no great harm either," said young De Walden, who now chimed in,
with his low, modest, but beautifully pitched voice--"We have had his
story at large, sir, this morning, after the decks were holystoned and
washed down."

"Come, Master De Walden, give it us then," said I.

"Beg pardon, sir," said the beautiful boy, "no one can do justice to it
but himself."

"Shall I call him, sir?" said Mr Marline.

I looked enquiringly at old Davie Doublepipe, as much as to say, Are
those boys quizzing us now?  "What say you, Sprawl, eh?"

"Why not, man--why not?" replied my excellent coadjutor.  "If it were
only to amuse the lads, surely there is no harm in it.  But here, give
me another cup of coffee,--and, Master Marline, the wing of that
spitchcock chicken, if you please--Why, Brail, if nothing else thrives
in that most damnable _Sierra Leone_, fowls do."

While the lieutenant was employed in completing his stowage--no regular
_Stevedor_ could have gone more scientifically about it--little
Binnacle ushered in our dark friend.  What a change in his outward man!
Where he had got his garments heaven knows, but there was the frantic
barbarian of half an hour ago, newly and freshly rigged in a clean pair
of duck trowsers, canvass shoes, and a good check shirt, with his
never-failing black belt slung across his right shoulder, and
supporting the rusty bayonet, already mentioned.  He drew himself up at
the door, soldier fashion, and put his hand to his cap.  The light from
the small scuttle above shone down strong on his tatooed countenance,
and lit up his steady bronze-like features.  I waited in expectation of
his speaking.  But the talkative savage of yesterday evening had now
subsided into the quiet orderly soldier.

"I say, Serjeant Quacco," at length _quod_ Davie Doublepipe, as he
finished his ham, and swallowed his last cup of coffee, "we have been
hearing from these young gentlemen that you have a story to tell; have
you any objections to oblige us with it again?"

This flourish of trumpets was lost on poor Quacco.  He stared vacantly,
first at one, and then at the other, but remained silent.

"What you tell dem young gentlemen about who you is?" said I.

"Oh," promptly rejoined Serjeant Quacco, "is dat de ting massa dere
want to know?  I shall tell him over again, if massa choose, but it is
one very foolis story."

"Never mind," said I, "let us have it again, by all means."

The poor fellow, after endeavouring to look as serious as possible, and
giving sundry hems and haws, and looking unutterable things, as if in
doubt whether we were in jest or no, began his story.


THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF SERJEANT QUACCO.

"Gentlemen," began our dark friend, "I tink it very proper dat you read
dis certificate before I say more--proper you should be perswade dat I
was one person of consequence, before we proceed farder."  Whereupon he
handed a small flat tin box to Davie Doublepipe.

"Read, Sprawl," said I,--"read."

The lieutenant took off the lid, and produced a ragged piece of paper,
which, after some trouble in deciphering, he found to contain the
following words:--

"I certify, that the bearer, Corporal Quacco, late of H.M. ---- West
India regiment, has received his discharge, and a free passage to the
coast of Africa, whither he has desired to return, in the first of his
Majesty's ships that may touch here, belonging to that station; in
consequence of his gallantry and faithful conduct during the late
mutiny, wherein Major D---- unfortunately lost his life."  I forget the
name and rank of the officer who signed it.

"So you see, gentlemen, dat I is Kin's hofficer same as youselves,
although on the retired list.  Let me tell what you shall hear now.
Twenty year ago, I was catch in de Bonny river, and sold to one nice
captain from Livapool.  He have large ship, too much people in him--a
tousand--no--but heap of people.  He was nice man, until him get to
sea--was debil den--cram we into leetle, small, dam dirty hole--feed we
bad--small time we get to breath de fresh air on deck, and plenty iron
on we legs, and clanking chain on we neck, and _fum, fum_--dat is
floggee--I sall not say where.  But soon we come widin two week of West
Indy--ho! food turn wery much better--we get more air--palm oil sarve
out to we, to make we skin plump and nice.

"So, to make one long story short, we arrive at Jamaica, and ten of de
best-looking of we"--(here the black serjeant drew himself up)--"were
pick out--select, you call--by one hofficer, and dat day we were
marshed to Fort Augusta, to serve his Majesty as soldiers in de
grenadier company of de ---- West India regiment.  Long time pass over.
We all pick up de Englis language--some better, some worser; for all
peoples cannot expect to pronounce him so well as Serjeant Quacco."

"Certainly not," said Sprawl.

"And we drill, drill, drill, every day, and marsh and countermarsh, and
wheel and halt, until we are quite proficient.  I was now one corporal.
Cat never touch my back;--never get dronk--dat is, except I know I can
lie in hammock widout neglect my duty until I get sober again.  My
captain say, I was de best man in de company--and I tink so too myself,
so de captain must have been right; and some good mans were amongst we,
gentlemen--ah, and some wery bad ones also.

"We were, on a certain day, to have great inspection; so de fag, and
work, and drill, become double for some time before we expect de
general.  De idle dogs say, 'What use dis? we quite perfect; no white
regiment can manoeuvre better den we.'  But I say, 'Never mind, will
soon be over, so rest content.'--'Ah,' say one bitter bad fellow--Ogly
Jack, dem call him--not wery genteel name, gentlemen, but can't help
dat--'Ah,' say Jack, 'if de rest of de regiment was like me, you should
see!  Soon we should have our own way; and plenty tousand of de poor
field-people would soon join us.'--'Ho, ho!' say I, Quacco, 'mutiny
dis;--bloody murder and sudden death dis is;--so, Master Ogly Jack, I
shall take de small liberty to wash you.'  However, de inspection pass
over; noting particular happen until de evening, about nine o'clock.
De tattoo beat done long time, and I was eating my supper, at de end of
de long gallery of de easternmost barrick, wery comfortable; looking
out on de white platform below, where de sentries were walking backward
and forward, singing negro song; de clear arms every now and den
sparkling bright, cold, and blue, in de moonlight; and den I look
beyond all dis out upon de smoot shining water of de harbour, which
stretch away, bright as polished silver, until it end in de lights at
Port Royal, and on board of de men of war, at anchor under de batteries
dere, dat twinkle and wanish, twinkle and wanish, until de eye rest on
de spark at de flag-ship's mizen-peak, dat shone steady as one Wenus
star.  Suddenly I start--'What is dat?' I say, for I see canoe steal
gently along; de paddle seem of velvet, for no noise it make, none at
all.  Presently de parapet hide him, and de two peoples I sees in de
canoe, from Quacco's sight.  'How de sentry don't hail?' say I,
Quacco--'What it can mean he don't hail?' again say I.  But, just as I
tink about de wonder of dis, one loud laugh of de young buccra officer
come from de mess-house, and I say, 'Ah ha! de claret begin to work
dere--de brandy and water begin to tell; so I will take my grog too,
and turn in.'--'Hillo!' I say again; for just at dis time I hear one
footstep behind me; 'who go dere?'  No one speak for long time; but I
see one person, wid him head just above de level of de gallery,
standing on de stair.  I seized my fuzee.  'Come up, whoever you
is.'--'Ha, ha!' laugh some one.  'What, broder Quacco, are you afeard?
don't you know me Jack?  You know we are countrymen: so here I have
brought you a drop of grog.'--'Oh ho!' say I Quacco, 'Jack, is it you?
Come in; I shall strike a light.'--'No, no,' say Jack; 'I don't want de
oder men to see I am here.'  I tink dis wery strange, but I say noting.
All quiet; de rest of my company were at de oder side of de barrick,
most of dem in der hammock already, and I was not wery fond to be alone
wid Jack after what I overhear.  Yet de grog was very good.  I take
anoder pull; it grew better, so I take one small drop more.  'Now,
Jack,' say I, 'no offence, but you must know I tought you were leetle
better den one big dam rogue; but I begin to tink'--(here him smile
quite pleasant, and give me oder small drop)--'dat you are not quite so
big willain as I was led to believe; so shake hands.'  He held out
him's large paw, and say he, 'Oh, I know, Quacco, dat some one was
prejudice you against me; but, never mind, I know of some fun going on.
Ah, handsome black girls dere, Quacco, and Mundingo Tom, and
Yellow-skin Paul, so come along.'--'Come along?' say I, Quacco; 'where
de debil you want me to go at dis time of night?  De gate all shut;
can't come.'  Here him laugh loud again.  Oh, if dat Ogly Jack had only
had white face, I would have tought he was de wery debil himself.  'De
gate shut?' say he, 'to be sure de gate is shut; but come here, man,
come here;'--and now I was sure he was Obeah man, for I had no power to
stay behind--something seem draw me.  Massa, you hab all see snake
wheedle leetle bird into him jaw, and just so dis dam Jack work on me,
Quacco.  To be sure de rum was wery good, wery good indeed; so I follow
him down stair, and as we pass dat part of de barrick where de
grenadier were, we meet two tree men; but no notice take dem of we; so
we go down to de esplanade.  All still dere but de loud 'Ha, ha!' from
de mess-room, where de band was play, and wax-lights shine.  No one
else stir, except sentry over de big heap of shell,--one large pile of
ten, twelve, tirteen inch shell dat was heap up in de middle of de
fort,--so we turn to de left, and ascend de platform.  'Who go dere?'
sing out de sentry, as him walk backward and forward between de two gun
facing we; 'Who go dere?' say he.  Jack spring forward to de sentry,
and say something.  I could not hear what he whisper; but, though I
speak never one word, de man mediately say, 'Pass, friend!' and den him
stomp away in de oder direction from where we was.  Jack now take hold
of my hand,--'No time for lost; so come along, broder Quacco.'  I hold
me back.  'Ah ha!' say I, 'show me de cause for all dis, Massa Jack.'
'And so Jack shall,' him say--'but come here, man, come here;' and he
lead me into de embrazure of one long four-and-twenty; and taking one
good strong rope out of de muzzle of de gun, where him seem to have
been stow on purpose, him make one loop in him and hook him over de
leetle nose dat stick out from de breech of him behind.  'Now, Quacco,
I know you is clever fellow; so warp yourself down by dis rope--dere is
no wet ditch here--so down you go, and'----'Gently,' say I, 'where we
go to?--tell a me dat.'--'I will,' say he, 'but de night air chill, so
here take anoder drop'--and, lord, we have de oder pull at de case
bottle.  Him puff one long puff after him drink.--'I see you suspicious
wid me still,' him say, 'but only come de length of de old hut in de
cashaw bush dere, and you shall see I is true man.'--Here I stand back
leetle piece to remember myself--but he would give me no time to tink
none at all--'You coward fellow, come along,' say Jack--'here go
me.'--Wid dat him let himself down by de rope.--'Coward! nay, me is no
coward--so here go me Quacco'--and down I slid after him.  We reach de
bottom.  'Now follow me,' say Jack.  Presently we come to de hut in de
wood, but many a time I look back to see de glance of de sentry musket
before him fire; but no one so much as hail we--so we walk, or rader
run, along de small path, troo de cashaw bushes dat lead to de hut--de
moonshine flicker, flicker on de white sandy path, troo de small leaf
of de cashaw, no bigger as, and wery like, de leaf of de sensitive
plant.--Ah, Massa Brail,"--I was smiling here,--"I know him name--I
know de sensitive plant--often get tenpence from young buccra hofficer
to hunt him out for him, and?  indeed, I know where whole acres of him
grow in Jamaica.  But you put me out, Massa Brail--where I was?--oh--de
moonshine shine bright and clear, and de lizard whistle _wheetle,
wheetle_, and de tree-toad snore, and de wood-cricket chirp, and de
beetle moan past we, and de bat whir, and de creech howl squake--So
tink I, I wish I was once more in de barrick--but no help for it.
Presently we were in front of de hut.  Small black ogly hut him was--no
light could be seen in him--at least none shine below de door--and dere
was never no window in him none at all.  Jack stop, and put him hand to
de latch.  I lay hold of him arm.  I say, 'Massa Jack, is dis de hut
you speak of, and dis de pleasant peoples I was to see, and de nice
black girls, eh?'--'Stop,' say he, 'don't judge until you see--but come
in, man, come in.'--I go in, but Jack was close de door instantly
behind him.  'Hilo, what mean you by dat?' say I, 'you go leave me here
widout fire?'--'Poo,' say he, 'fire? you shall soon have enough.'  Wid
dat him strike one light, den light some chip, and presently him tro
someting on de fire, dat make it blaze up into one large blue flame dat
make every ting look wery disagreab--oh, mosh wery.  Jack sit down--he
take piece roast pork, some yam, and some salt fis out of de crown of
him shako--we eat--de rum bottle soon not heavy too much in de
hand--and I forget, sinner dat I is, dat I should hab been in my bed in
de barrick in de fort--so Jack, after poke de fire again, say, 'Quacco,
broder Quacco; as I say before, we is countrymen--bote Eboe, is
we?'--'Yes,' say I, 'we is Eboe, but we were wery different peoples in
de Eboe country.  You know, Jack, dat I was poor debil whose fader and
moder was kill and carry away by dese dam Felatahs and'"----

Here friend Dick interrupted the thread of our friend Quacco's tale.
"I say, serjeant, you are speaking of Felatahs--we have heard much of
them on the coast--who and what are they, my man?"

"I shall tell massa," said Serjeant Quacco.  "Dam troublesome fellow
dem Felatah--never stay at home--always going about fighting
here--stealing dere.  You go to bed--hear de pig in de oder end of your
hut grunt quite comfortable--you wake--him gone--'ah, Felatah must have
been dere.'  You hab only two wife, so you go into market--bazar, de
Moorish people call him--you buy anoder leetle wife, because maybe one
of de two grow old, and de oder grow stupid maybe; well, you bring de
leetle wife home--nice leetle person--you tell him de story how Felatah
come, while you sleep, and tief pig--ha, ha--you laugh, and he laugh,
and you drink small piece of tody, after nyam supper, and go werry
merry to bed--ho--you wake next morning--debil--him gone too well as de
pig--de leetle wife gone--oh, lord--'sure as can be, Felatah must be
dere.'  And your bag of cowrie never safe--every ting dat cursed
Felatah can lay him fist on, him grab--de Livapool ship people call him
Scotchman."

"Don't tell that part of your story in the hearing of Corporal Lennox,
friend Quacco," said I, laughing.

He grinned, and proceeded.  "I say to Jack, 'I was catch when I was
leetle naked fellow by de Felatahs, wid my fader and moder, and carry
off to dem country, and afterward sell for slave; but you was great man
always--big fetish priest you was--many fetish you make in your time;
you kill goat and pig before de fetish.'--'Ay,' said Jack, 'and maybe,
Quacco, I kill oder ting you no dream of before de fetish, beside dem
who hab cloven hoof and four leg and one tail'--and he rose up--on
which me Quacco jump on my feet too.  'Massa Ogly Jack, I onderstand
you now, you willain; you is one mutiny, sir, and I arrest you, sir, in
de name of de Kin.'  All dis time I was press de tumb of my left hand
against de pipe of my bayonet to see dat him was loose in de sheath.
Jack again throw someting into de fire, dat dis time flare up wid red
flame, not wid blue one as before, when every ting--de roof, de leetle
wildcane bed, de rafter, and whole inside of de hut, de calabash hang
against de wall, all look red, red and glowing hot, as if we had plump
into de bad place all at once--even Jack, and me Quacco, seem two big
lobster.  I was wery terrible frighten, and drew back to de corner as
far as I could get.  Jack did not follow me, but continued standing in
de same spot where he had risen up, wid both hand stretch out towards
me.  I try for speak, but my troat stop up, as if you was plug him wid
piece of plantain.  'Quacco,' at length say Jack wery slow, like one
parson, 'Quacco, you have say I was fetish man, and hab kill goat and
pig--and I say I was so; and dat I have in my time make fetish of oder
ting dat have no cleft in him hoof, and hab not four leg, nor one tail.
Listen to me, Quacco; you is not goat?'--'No,' say me Quacco,
'certainly I is not goat.'--'You is not pig?' continue Jack.--'No,
no--Oh! oh! oh!' groan me Quacco again--'You hab not cloven foot?' him
go on to say.--'No,' roar I.--'Nor four leg?'--'No,' again me roar,
shaking out my two foot for make him see.--'Nor one tail?'--Here I get
mad wid fear, and jump forward wid my drawn bayonet right upon
Jack--but, fiz, as if water had been thrown on it, out goes de fire.  I
nearly stifle wid de smoke, but determined to grapple wid Jack.  I
tumble all about de hut, but no Jack dere; I try de door--all fast.
What shall I do?--he vanish--he must be debil--and I retreat de best
way I could, groping along de wall, until I once more get into de
corner dat I was leave.  'Oh, my God'' say me Quacco, 'here I sall be
murder--or if I be not murder, den I sall be flog for being out of
barrick widout leave--Oh, poor me Quacco, poor me Corporal Quacco--oh,
to be flog at de triangles would be one comfort, compare wid walk to de
hell place in dis fashion!'  'Quacco,' say one voice, it was not Jack
voice, 'Quacco.'--'Hillo,' say I, 'who de debil is you next, eh?'  No
hanswer--den I begin to ruminate again.  'Quacco,' again de voice
say.--'Hillo,' again say I, frighten till de sweat hop, hop over my
forehead, and den from my chin and de point of my nose,"--("Where may
that be?" whispered little Binnacle)--"when it drop down on de floor
like small bullets.  'Quacco.'--'Oh, oh, oh!' groan I; for dis time it
sound as if one dead somebody was speak out of one hollow coffin, lying
at de bottom of one new open grave; 'put you hand at you feet, and see
what you catch dere, and eat what you catch dere.'  I did so--I find
one calabash, wid boil nyam, and piece salt pork dere; I take him
up--taste him--wery good--eat him all---why not?  'Quacco,' again say
de voice, 'grope for de calabash dat hang against de wall.'  I do
so--quite heavy--let me see.  'Drink what in him,' again say de
debil--'To be sure, Massa Debil,' say I, 'why not?'  I taste him--good
rum--ah, ah, ah--wery good rum, when flash de fire again blaze up right
cheery, but I see no one; so I begin to look about, and de first ting I
do was to put down my hand where I had replaced, de calabash at my
feet.  Mercy Heaven! what I lift?  One skull, fresh and bloody, of one
dead shild, wid some dirt at de bottom, and some fedders, and de shell
of one egg.  'Oh, oh, oh! obeah, obeah!' shout I.  And de calabash,
what him contain?  I pour out some on de fire--blaze, whatever it
was--blaze up in my face and singe my hair, oh, wery mosh--make my head
smell like de sheep head de Scotch agitant sarvant boil for him massa
dinner on Sunday, when him too sick to dine at de mess.  'Dis will
never do,' say I Quacco; 'let me see what stuff dis can be I was
drink;' and I pour some on de white bench beside de fire.  Oh, mammy
Juba--O--O--O--_it was blood_!  And what is dat small black box I see
below de bench?  I capsize him.  'Debil,' say I Quacco, 'what him is?'
Massa, it was one leetle coffin tree feet long, wid de grave-clothes in
him, but green and festering as if de rotting dead picaninny had been
new remove.  'Quacco,' again say dat terrible voice, 'what you eat for
yam was dirt from your fodder's grave, Quacco--look at him.'--'Oh, oh,'
again roar I; 'but, good Massa Debil, who go to Africa for him,
eh?'--'Hold your peace and be dam,' say de voice; 'and what you drink
for rum, was your moder's blood; so, Quacco, you mosh swear to keep
Jack secret, and to help him, and to do whatever him tell you, even if
it be to shoot your hofficer.'--Here I go mad altogeder--I dance about
de fire--whip, in one second it go out entirely--I jump up and down--de
voice still continue to sing out--oder two voice sing out along wid
him, 'Where dem evil spirit can be conceal?' say I--'some one must be
on de rafter, couple you call, of de roof above my head calabash, for I
can't find no debil on de floor of de hut, none at all,' say I; so I
jomp up again, when my head knock against someting.  'Oh,' say
somebody.  'Ah,' say me, Quacco.  I leap once more, and pike up my
naked bayonet before me--It tick in someting--what it was I can't tell;
it feel as if I had dig him into one rump of beef--large yell instantly
shake de entire hut--I jump again--heavy ting fall down on me--I
scramble to get away, but one of de debils scramble to hold me down--I
turn to de left--I lay hold of de hand of anoder on dem--no doubt de
one who was speak.  'Ho, ho,' say I Quacco; so I make clever slide from
between dem.  De two debils grapple one anoder--gurgle, gurgle--squeak,
squeak--one on dem was strangling de oder.  I almost laugh, when some
one hit me a heavy blow behind de ear; I faint away--dead--and--and I
remember noting none at all, until I find myself, when, still it was
dark night, all beat and bruise, and wid swimming head, in my hammock
in de barrick at Fort Augusta.  I sleep sound till near daybreak,
however, when I turn myself, and say, 'Hab I Quacco been dronk last
night?'  I tink so; 'Or has all dis been one dream?'  Maybe.  Den I put
up my hand to my head, but I never get soch bumps and tumps in one
dream before.  Dere was only tree oder of our men sleep in dat end of
de barrick where I was, de rest being two rooms off, dose between us
being under repair; one on dem was Ogly Jack, and de oder two was de
wery dentical rascail I have mention before, Mundingo Tom and
Yellow-skin Paul--Dem all tree eider were sound asleep, in dem
hammocks, or pretended dey were so--for when I feel de cool damp
morning breeze come troo de open window at one side of de barrick-room
and blow clean out at de oder; and see de morning star twinkle bright
and clear in de red east, and de pale-faced buccra moon, just sinking
behind de brushwood on Hellshire Point, troo de window opposite, I turn
myshef again in my hammock, and listen to de roar of de surf in de
distance, and rub my eyes again, and say 'it not morning yet,'--But
presently de trute push himself into my eye, and I say 'It _is_
daybroke, and sore or sound, up must I Quacco get.'  Just under de
window, by dis time, I was hear some low grumbling voices, and coughs,
and loud yawns; den I hear hollow tumbling sounds like when drum is
place on de ground; den more grumbles, and coughs, and yawns; den de
squeaking of de drum braces, as de leetle drummer pull dem tight, and
de tootletoo of de fifer, as dem get all ready.  At length Old
Spearpoint, de drum-major, sing out wery gruff, 'fall in, music,' and
next minute roll went de drum, squeak went de fife; roll went de drum,
squea-eak went de fife very shrill; roll went de drum de tird time, and
squea-ea-eak went de fife, very too dam shril dis last time; and away
dem stamp rum dum dum round de barrick-yard wid dere reveillie.  We all
tumble out, and fall in on parade--still dark--we stand to our arms, de
moon go down, but de morning star glance cold and clear on de bayonet
and bright barrels of de guns--de great Duke no was brown de barrel
den, God bless him.  Search arms,' de sergeant say.  We do so--half
pace to de right--so in dat position I see well what Ogly Jack, who was
my rear rank man, was do.  De Serjeant approach me--I send down my
steel ramrod wid one bang--he shomp up wid a loud ring one foot out of
my musket--it really surprise me how far de ramrod shomp, as I send him
home wid scarcely no strength none at all.  'Ha, no for noting my
ramrod shomp so, someting past common here,' say I to myshef--de next
man to me in de front rank was Yellow-skin Paul, and de next man to
Ogly Jack was Mundingo Tom.  As me Quacco was de right hand man of de
front rank of de grenadiers, so Jack was de right hand man of de rear
rank--well, Yellow-skin Paul make believe dat him send him ramrod home,
but I notice he catch him between his finger and tumb, so as he never
reach de bottom.  'Ho, ho,' tink I to myself, 'who shall say dat gun no
load!'  I keep quite still--de Serjeant by and by come to Jack--he
catch de ramrod same way, and de Serjeant being half asleep, eider did
not notice dis, or him tought noting about it.  Presently he desire
Mundingo Tom to search arms--he bang his ramrod down I saw, wid design
to catch him like de oders, but in his hurry it slipt troo his fingers,
and go home _thud_.  'Ho, ho,' say I again to myself, 'dis piece is
also load'--What was to be do?--de Serjeant notice dis one--'dat
firelock is load, you scoundril.'--'No,' say Mundingo Tom, 'but I leave
some tow in him, beg pardon, massa serjeant.'--'You dem rascail,' say
de serjeant, 'you never is better, you lazy dog---fall out, sir, and
draw de'----'Attention,' call out de agitant at dis moment; 'de left
wheel into line--marsh'--tramp, tramp, tramp, whir--de line is form.
'Stand at ease--A Serjeant from each company for blank cartridges.'  So
away step de serjeant, who had given Mundingo Tom a rating, and I take
de opportunity of whisper Jack--'I say, Jack, what is in de wind?  I
have great mind to peach my sospicion.'  He say nosing; and den I say,
'Poo, all my fear must be nonsense--all must be a dream'--de serjeant
return--serve out eight round of blank cartridge--'attention' again.
'De line will wheel into open column of companies, right in front--on
you left backwards wheel--halt, dress.'  De hofficer was now all on
parade, and stood in a group in front--de agitant mount him
horse--Major D---- appear at de door of him house--one orderly hold him
horse--him mount and ride up to de hofficer.  'Gentlemen, fall in--form
subdivisions--quick march'--rum, dum, dum, dum, again, and away we
march out to de _glacis_ of de fort--den we form, and much manoeuvre we
was perform--oh wery brilliant, 'wid cartridge, prime, and load.'  'De
regiment will fire by companies from right to left'--short tap on de
drum--de hofficer commanding companies fall back two pace--ready,
present, fire--blaze go de grenadier--I prick my ear, and cock my eye.
Ogly Jack, my covering file, was not fire--I know, because de moment I
pull de trigger, I clap my right cheek down on de barrel of de musket
as he was level--all cold iron--'Ha, ha,' say I to myself, and while
loading, I glance my eye at Yellow-skin Paul's firelock, who was next
me, and also at Mundingo Tom's, who was next Jack, bote on dem were
half cock.  So 'Ha, ha,' say me Quacco again, but before I could
determine in my own mind what I should do, de word was given--'De
regiment will fire one volley direct to de
front.--Ready--present--fire,'--roar went de musketry--all smoke for
small space--we remain at de present--wait long time for de major give
de word 'Come to de recover,'--no one speak--all of we remain wid our
piece level--oh! one attitude wery tiresome.  Still no one speak.  At
length I hear our captain, one wery nice man, grumble to himself--'Why,
what can be amiss wid de old major?'--dat moment de smoke, by de
setting in of de sea-breeze, was blow off.  What shall we see?--Why,
Major D---- was lying on him horse's neck, widin ten yard of de
grenadier company.  'Ah!' say for we captain--'he must be in one
fit'--when down de major drop--and away scamper de horse--de captain
run up, and turn de old man on him back, and take off him stock, and
open him jacket.  'Ah!' cry he--'mutiny, gentlemen, mutiny; de major is
shot dead.  Secure de magazine; call out de artillery.'  Den one loud
buz buz pass along de line--de hofficer voice was heard--'Men, if you
move one step I will cut you down by G--d.'  Anoder say--'Stand to your
arms, men; if one of you, stir, I will run him troo.'  'Who is de
willain?--who is de willain?' shout some one else.  Someting come over
me--I rush out five pace--order my fusee, and touch my cap--wery
graceful--so--[suiting the action to the word]--'Captain, and
gentlemen--dere are de mutineers.'--'Where?'--'Dere.'--'Name dem.' say
one.--'I will,' say me Quacco--'Ogly Jack, Mundingo Tom, and
Yellow-skin Paul.'  Dey were all immediately secure--and marshed to de
front;--dem say noting---not one word.  I look at dem--all tree cool
and collected.  'May be,' tink I, 'dere will have be some mistake; if
so, all people will tink I mosh have been de mutineer, murserer you
call, and dat to shave myself I was peach on dem.'  My heart sink when
de agitant seize me by de shoulder.  'My fine fellow, you make mosh
noise--we shall see what you are make of very shortly yourself.--Here,
secure Corporal Quacco.'  By dis time we were again marching into de
fort--de gate was shut--four field piece nine pounder, manned by white
artillerymen, and load wid grape, were pointed so as to enfilade us as
we were formed in close column, and my tree friend, and myself, were
instantly brought to one drum-head court-martial.--Some young hofficer
say, 'Oh, hang him all--hang him all.'--'Please not, young gentleman,
if de same ting to you,' say I.--'No hurry,' say I--'I am willing to be
hang if dese tree willains are not de men.  Secure dem hands'--dis was
done.  'Now,' say I, 'we were all sarve wid eight blank cartridge--look
at dem muskets--plain dey all have been fire.'--'What has all dis to do
wid it?' say de agitant.--'Mosh,' say I, 'mosh--now see how many
cartridge each on dem hab.'--'Ha, ha,' say my captain,--'Quacco is
right.--_Dem all tree hub each de eight cartridge untouch, yet it quite
evident dey all hab fired_.'--'What say you, ye scoundrels,' again say
de captain--'what say you why you should not be hang immediately?' Dem
would not speak one word--den I tell all I hear--and so dem try, find
guilty, and were hang--and I as one reward got my discharge."  (Here
our friend made a long pause--at length he continued.)  "Why I take
him--I can't tell--and still more, why I leave dear Jamaica, where de
governor hoffer me ground to grow nyam in, and house--and as for wife,
I hab several.  What de debil was possess me to leave my pig, and
wives, and allowance--pension you call him,--and take into my head for
come here again?--Heaven know--I Quacco do not.--Here--where one can
scarcely breathe for stinking mud, and every night brings dangers wid
it, and you never can tell whidder de next morning shall not see you
carried away into slavery, or may be sacrificed before one fetish; or
who know dat he shall not, some fine forenoon, be roast or grill, and
eaten like one monkey.  Oh, I wish I was back again."

"But," said Sprawl, "you seem to have left off as corporal--when became
you serjeant?"

Quacco laughed, "By brevet, my good sir--by bre"----

"A gun--Sir Oliver speaking to us in the offing."

"Hurrah for Old Gazelle once more!" shouted Sprawl, in a voice like
thunder.

"Out of my way, friend Quacco," cried I.

"Room if you please, old Daddy Longyarn," quoth master Lanyard.  And to
the great dismay of poor Quacco, who little expected to have been so
suddenly and unceremoniously swept aside, we all tumbled on deck as
fast as our legs could carry us.



CHAPTER VI.

THE FETISH--CROSSING THE BAR, AND DESTRUCTION OF THE SLAVER.

The first man we encountered was Clinker, the master-at-arms.

"Who has seen the frigate?" said Lanyard.

"Why, there she is, sir," replied the man.  "There, you see her
topgallant sails over the green bushes there, sir.  Now you see the
heads of her fore and maintopsails."

"I see, I see.  What signal is that flying at the fore, Mr Marline?" to
the midshipman who was looking out.

"The signal to close, sir."

"Close," croaked old Sprawl--"close--easier said than done, Sir Oliver."

"Like the Starling, 'we can't get out,'" quoth I.

Here the frigate in the offing slowly and majestically shoved her long
jib-boom past the mangroves on the westernmost bank, and gradually the
whole beautiful machine hove in sight, rising and falling on the long
swell.

As she came round the point, she took in topgallant sails, and hauled
down the foretopmast staysail; and whenever she had fairly opened the
river, and come nearly abreast of us, she laid her maintopsail to the
mast, with her fore and mainsails hanging in graceful festoons in the
brails, and hove-to under her three topsails, jib, and spanker.  She
slid silently and majestically along; the bright green wave curling
outwards from her beautifully moulded bows, like the shell-shaped
canopy of Daddy Neptune's car, as the cut-water slid gently through the
calm heaving of the blue swell, and gradually subsiding, as the
glorious old hooker lost her way, and became stationary, when she
floated, like a swan asleep on the dark waters, the bright sun shining
cheerily on her white sails and hammocks and clear white streak, and
sparkling on her glittering sides, as they rose and fell fresh and wet
from the embraces of old Ocean; and as the land-breeze laid her over,
her gold-bright copper blazed like one vast polished mirror, wherein
the burning sun was reflected in dazzling glances.  Bright blinding
rays flashed out, starlike, from the window in the quarter gallery, and
the glass in the scuttles of the officer's cabins, and from every
burnished piece of metal throughout the whole length of the gallant
craft, converting her black hull into a brilliant constellation; while
her heavy lower masts, with their strong shrouds and stays, and the
swelling sails, and the tall and taper spars aloft, were seen clear and
distinct against the deep blue of the seaward horizon.

As we looked, the frigate hauled down the jib, and brailed up the
spanker.  A string of small round bundles, apparently each about the
size of a man's head, now twisted and struggled, and stopped, and
finally slid up to the main royal-mast-head.  The instant the uppermost
reached the truck, as if it had touched a spring--bang--a gun was
fired, and at the same moment the round balls blew out steadily in so
many flags.

"What signal now, Mr Marline?"

"The signal to weigh and stand out, sir."

"Why, we can't; it is impossible: although the wind is fair, the swell
on the bar puts it out of our power."

"Very true," said old Pumpbolt; "and you had better say so, Lanyard.
I, for one, won't undertake to carry you over until there is less
broken water at the river's mouth, I know."

The lieutenant commanding the felucca telegraphed to this effect; the
frigate acknowledged it, and answered, that she would remain in the
offing all night in expectation of our getting over at high water, when
possibly there would be less sea on the bar.

Having made this signal, she run her jib up, set topgallant-sails, and
let fall the foresail: the ponderous mainyard slowly swung round, and
as the noble frigate fetched way again, she gradually fell off before
the wind; her long low hull fore-shortened into a mere tub of a vessel
to look at, and finally presenting her stern to us, she lay over,
inclining herself gracefully to the breeze, as if she was bidding us
farewell, and glided cheerily away; indicating by the increasing
whiteness of her wake, the accelerated speed with which she clove the
heaving billows.

"There goes the dear old beauty," said Davie; "there's a retiring
curtsy for you that beats the stateliest of my lady patronesses at
Almacks."

Having gained an offing of about three miles, she again shortened sail,
and hove to in her station to await our joining, when the bar became
passable in the night.

"Weary work, master Benjie,--weary work," said Davie Doublepipe; "so
here we must lie, roasting another whole day, while there is plenty of
water on the bar, if that confounded swell would only fall."

By this it was drawing near the men's dinner-time; and while the
lieutenant and I were pacing the deck, rather disconsolately, trying to
steer clear of the smoke of the galley, that streamed aft as we rode
head to wind, we noticed that our sable visitor, Serjeant Quacco, had,
with the true spirit of resignation, declined into cook's mate (indeed,
if there be a Negro on board when this birth becomes vacant, he
invariably slides into it, as naturally as a snail into his shell), and
was busy in assisting the maimed seaman who was watching the coppers.
The fire seemed to burn very indifferently from the greenness of the
wood, which gave out more smoke than flame.

"Drainings, my man," said Lanyard to cookey, "don't choke us, if you
please.  Do get some dry chips from Shavings, will you?"

"Ay, ay, sir," said the man.

"Here, Quacco, mind the fire," continued Drainings, "till I get some
splinters from forward there.--Stay--Lennox, my dear boy, do get me a
handful of dry chips from old Shavings, will ye?"

The Scotch corporal civilly complied; and after a little, we saw him
split up a block of wood where the carpenter had been at work in the
bows of the felucca, and presently he returned with a bundle of them,
which Serjeant Quacco busily employed himself in poking into the fire,
blowing lustily with his blubber lips all the while.  When Lennox
turned away, I could not help noticing, that he stuck his tongue in his
cheek, and winked to one of the crew as he went below.

Presently Lanyard desired the boatswain to pipe to dinner.  In place of
bundling down below, according to the etiquette of the service in
larger vessels, he winked, I saw, at the poor fellows breaking away
forward into messes, which they contrived to screen from the view of
the quarterdeck, by slewing the long yard nearly athwart ships, and
loosing the sail as if to dry.

Notwithstanding all this, we could easily see what was going on
forward.  Close to, sat the old cook himself, with Shavings the
carpenter, and Wadding the gunner, warrant officers in a small way,
with a little snipe of a boy waiting on them.

About a fathom from them, there was another group squatted on the deck,
consisting of Corporal Lennox, old Clinker the master at arms, Dogvane
the quartermaster, and no smaller a personage than Serjeant Quacco.

The food was peas-soup, and salt junk and biscuit.  The hands, as we
turned and returned, seemed exceedingly comfortable and happy; when all
at once, the old cook pressed his hands on the pit of his stomach, and
began to make a variety of rather odd grimaces.  Dogvane looked in his
face, and instantly seemed to catch the infection; so he next began to
screw himself up into a variety of indescribable contortions.  Serjeant
Quacco looked first at one, and then at another, as they groaned in any
thing but a melodious concert, until he too, through sympathy, or in
reality from pain, began also to twist himself about, and to make such
hideous faces, that to have trusted him near a respectable pig in the
family way, would have been as much as the nine farrow were worth.

At length the contagion became general apparently, and Corporal Lennox
began to groan and wince, as he ejaculated, "Oh dear, what can this be!
what an awful pain in my stomach!  Why, Mr Drainings, what _have_ you
clapt into that peas-soup?  _Something bye common_ you must have put
into it, for we are all dying here with"----

"My eye!" said old Drainings, speaking slowly and deliberately, as if
the paroxysm had subsided, and some strange light had suddenly flashed
on him, "you are quite right, Lennox.  That same peas-soup is none of
the right sort--that is clear now.  I have just been telling Mr Wadding
that a wery-most-remarkable circumstance took place in the boiling
on't."

Here the old fellow, who had just finished his peas-soup, very solemnly
looked upwards, and wiped his muzzle with what hovered between a
pocket-handkerchief and a dishclout, of any colour but that of unsunned
snow.

"Why," continued the cook, "just when it began to simmer about the
edges of the boiler----Ah--ah--oh--there it is again--there it is
again," and once more he began to tumble about on the deck, giving
friend Quacco several miscellaneous kicks and punches during his
make-believe involuntary convulsions.  This fit seemed also to pass
over.

"Why," said he, "just when the soup began to simmer about the edges of
the copper, and thin streaks of white froth began to shoot inwards
towards the middle, where the hot soup was whirling round in a bubbling
eddy, and poppling up for all the world like the sea on the bar there,
I saw--I saw"----Here he looked unutterable things with his one eye,
turning it up like a duck in thunder.

"What did you see?" said old Clinker, staring in his face with sham
earnestness.

"I saw--so sure as I see Mr Weevil the purser's d--d ugly mug aft on
the quarterdeck there--a small devil rise out of the boiling peas-soup
in the very middle of the copper, and fly up and away over the truck
like a shot--whipping the vane at the mast-head off its spindle with
the bight of his tail.

"No! did you though?" said several voices.

"To be sure I did," rejoined Drainings, "as distinctly as I now see my
thumb--none of the cleanest, by the way."

"The devil?" said Lennox, starting up; "what was it like, Mr Drainings?"

"Why, as like the little heathen god brought on board by Quacco there,
as you can fancy any thing."

"Oh--oh--oh," again resounded from all hands.

"But it could not be he," at length struck in the black serjeant.  "It
could not be he, seeing he is safe stow below de heel of de bowsprit
dere."

"Heaven grant it may be so," whined Dogvane.

"If it really be as Quacco says," said Wadding, in a sympathizing tone,
"why, _then_, I will believe it is all fancy--all a barn."

Here the black serjeant, in great tribulation, rose to go forward,
evidently with a desire to reconnoitre whether the graven image was
really there in the body or no.  After a long search, he came back and
sat down, blank and stupified, on the spot where he had risen from.

"And pray, Mr Drainings, when did you see this curious appearance?"
persisted Lennox.

"At the wery instant of time," drawled Cookey, with his arms crossed,
and his hands stuck into the open bosom of his greasy shirt, that had
once been red flannel, and with a short black stump of a pipe in his
mouth, from which he puffed out a cloud between every word, "at the
wery instant of time, by the glass, that Serjeant Quacco there mended
the fire."

"Oh--oh--oh!"--Here all hands of the rogues who were in the secret,
began again to roll about and grimace, as if a travelling _menagerie_
of baboons had suddenly burst, and capsized its inmates all about.
Quacco all this while was twisting and turning himself, and, although
evidently in a deuced quandary, trying to laugh the affair off as a
joke.

"Well," at length said he, "I don't believe in fetish--now dat I is
among whiteman Christian.  So I will tank you, Massa Draining, to hand
me over my chocolate."

But I noticed that the devil a drop would he take into his mouth,
although he made believe to drink it.  The jest went on--at length
there was a calm, when who should again break ground but Serjeant
Quacco--who made a last attempt to laugh off the whole affair.

"But where de debil _can_ he be?" said he, almost involuntarily--"gone,
sure enough."

"Oh--oh--oh--" sung out all hands once more, with their fists stuck
into their midriffs.

"Oh, that vile fetish," screamed Lennox; "we must all be
bewitched--Quacco, we are all bewitched.'"

"Bewitch!" responded the black Serjeant, jumping off the deck, and now
at his wit's end; "and I believe it is so.  I hab pain in my tomak
too--just dis moment--oh, wery sharp!"

"Confound your fetish," groaned the old cook; "it was just as you stuck
those chips of cedarwood into the fire--precisely at the wery moment I
snuffed the delicious smell of them, that I saw the devil himself first
put his ugly fiz up in the middle of the peas-soup, and gibber, and
twinkle his eyes, and say"----

"Say!" shouted Lennox--"why did he really and truly speak, Mr
Drainings?"

"Speak!" responded he of the slush bucket--"speak! ay, as plain as I do
now."

"And what said he?" quoth Dogvane.

"Why, just as he shook off the spray from the barb at the end of his
tail, says he,--'Damme, I'm off,' says he."

"Oh, oh, oh!  I am pinned through my ground tier with a harpoon,"
groaned Drainings.

"Where, in the devil's name, since we have seen him, got you those
cedar chips, Quacco?" yelled old Clinker.

A light seemed to break in on the poor Serjeant's bewildered mind.
"Chip, chip!--where I get dem chip?"  Here the poor fellow gave an
idiotic laugh, as if he had been all abroad.  "I get dem from Corporal
Lennox, to be sure,"--and he turned his eyes with the most intense
earnestness towards the marine, who was rolling about the deck over and
over.

"Where got I the chips, did you ask, Quacco?  Oh, oh, oh!--Why, Heaven
forgive me--but I am punished for it now--they are the very splinters
of your fetish, that you brought on board!"

Up started the black resetter as if bit by a rattlesnake, dancing and
jumping, "Oh, my tomack, oh, my tomack!--de fetish have get into my
tomack--de leetle debil in a my tomack.  Oh, doctor, doctor!--one evil
spirit in me--oh, doctor, someting to make him fly--someting to get him
out!  Doctor, de debil in a my belly--physic--physic, doctor; de
strongerer de more betterer.  Oh Lord!"  And away he tumbled down the
fore-hatchway, roaring for Esculapius like a perfect bull of Bashan.

While we were laughing at this to our heart's content, Mr Marline came
aft to us.  "There are a good many dark specks passing and repassing
above us in the furthermost reach of the river, yonder, sir--as far as
you can see there, sir.  Will you please to look at them, Mr Sprawl?"

Sprawl took a long squint first, and then handed the glass to me.  I
peered, and peered.  The glorious stream was rolling down like a
shining flow of quicksilver; but although all continued quiet in our
vicinity, yet, where it narrowed nearly to a bright point in the
distance above, I could perceive a tiny dark object slowly descend the
river, and send up a thick cloud of smoke, after which it remained
stationary, while a number of small black spots were seen cruising
hither and thither all around it.

Sprawl had also noticed this.  "Why, Brail, those gentry seem mustering
in some strength.  There cannot be many fewer than a hundred canoes
paddling about there.  What say you?"

It was now near three, P.M., and we were bethinking ourselves of going
to dinner, when a perfect cloud of the dark specks, fifty at the least,
began to drop down with the ebb in a solid phalanx, looking in the
distance like a compact black raft of wood.  Presently they sheered off
right and left; and although the craft from which we had seen the smoke
arise, still remained at anchor in the stream, the attendant canoes
vanished, one and all, amongst the mangroves, on either bank.
"Poo--nonsense!" said Dick Lanyard.  "Come along, Sprawl--come along.
Why, man, we shall get as thin as whipping-posts, if we allow these
barbarian demonstrations to interfere with our comforts."

"You may be right, my boy--you may be right," said old Davie; but he
appeared to have some strange misgivings.

However, we went to dinner; the reefers were all with us, little Joe
Peake among the rest, who was now quite recovered from the thump he had
got on shore, and old Pumpbolt; and we were in the very middle of it,
when down came Wadding, the gunner.--"Beg pardon, sir," said the old
seaman, sidling in, and trying to appear at his ease, although he was
very far from that same.  "Beg pardon--but them chaps are coming more
nearer, sir, than seems quite convenient,--they are fast dropping down
with the afternoon's ebb, sir."

"Indeed!" said old Sprawl, "We must keep a bright look-out here, Brail,
at any rate."

We went on deck, and the report was literally true; but although the
mass above us continued to increase until the whole surface of the
river in the distance seemed swarming, as one has seen a pool with
those blue water-insects which, I believe, as boys, we used to call
sailors, still there was no warlike demonstration made, beyond the
occasional descent of a fast-pulling canoe now and then, a mile or so
below the main body.  But they were always very easily satisfied in
their reconnoitring, so far as we could judge, for the whole of them
kept a wary distance.

We returned to the cabin for half an hour, and having finished off with
a caulker of good cogniac, all hands of us once more came on deck.

It was now half-past four, and low water as near as could be.  The bar
astern of us--by this time the breeze having taken off, we were riding
to the ebb--was one roaring ledge of white breakers; but it was smooth
water where we lay, the fall of the tide having completely broken the
heave of the heavy swell that rolled in from the offing on the bar.
The clouds had risen over the land, some large drops of rain fell, and
altogether we had strong prognostications of a wet, if not a
tempestuous evening.

The declining sun, however, was yet shining brightly; and although,
calculating on the average at this season hereabouts, one might have
made himself almost sure of a fine evening, yet the present was an
exception, and we had every appearance of a thunderstorm.

All nature seemed hushed; the thick clouds that arose in the east,
sailed along on the usual current of the trade-wind with their edges as
well defined as if it had been a dark screen gradually shoving up and
across the arch of the blue empyrean; this gloomy canopy crept on and
on, and as it overlapped us and stole down the western horizon, every
thing assumed a deep dusky purple hue.

In the sudden darkness, the fires glanced bright and red on board of
three war-canoes, that had now been suddenly advanced down the river in
the shape of a triangle, the headmost being within a mile of us.
Presently, the sable curtain descended within a very few degrees of the
western horizon, until there was only a small streak of bright golden
sky between it and the line of the land; in the centre of which the
glorious sun, now near his setting, shot his level beams of blood-red
light over the river and its banks, and the trees that grew on them,
gilding the dark sides of the canoes; and as he sank, his last rays
flashed up into the black arch overhead, until the dark masses of cloud
glowed like crimson.

This soon faded--the clouds gradually sinking in the west, until, as if
their scope had been expended, they _lifted_ from the eastern horizon
majestically slow--like a magnificent curtain drawn up in order to
disclose the glorious moon, which now, preceded by her gemlike
forerunner the evening star, that sparkled bright and clear on the
fringe of the ascending cloud, rose above the low swampy banks, like a
diamond on the skirt of a sable velvet mantle.

Her disk, when she first appeared, was red and dim, until she attained
a considerable altitude, when, having struggled through the
pestilential effluvia that hovered over the river, she began to sail
through her liquid track in all her splendour--pale, but oh, how
crystal clear!--driving, like a queen, the dark vapours before her.

As the night wore on, the congregation of canoes became thicker, and
presently something like a raft floated down to within three quarters
of a mile of us, accompanied by five large boats, full of people.

It was clearly distinguishable, from a bright halo of luminous smoke
that hovered over it, proceeding from a fire that every now and then
blazed up on board.  By the time the raft was anchored, the evening
breeze came strong down the river, wafting towards us the sounds of
African drums, blended with dismal yells, as of captives, and loud
fierce shouts.

I directed my glass towards the name, that was flashing fitfully, as if
tar or rosin, or some other equally inflammable substance, had been
suddenly cast into it.

"What can that be?" said I, to young De Walden, who was also spying
away at the same object, close to where I stood.

"Really," said the very handsome boy, "I cannot well tell, but I will
call Serjeant Quacco, sir.  He knows all the practices of the savages
hereabouts."

"No, no," rejoined I; "never mind--never mind; but what _can_ they be
doing there on the raft?  I see two uprights about five feet asunder,
and judging from the dusky figures that are cruising about them, and
the fire that is kindled beneath, as it were between them, they should
be about eight feet high above the raft on which they are rigged.  What
_are_ they after now?  Two fellows sitting on men's shoulders, are
fixing a cross piece, or transom, on the top of the uprights--now they
are lashing it to them tightly with some sort of rope--ah, they
descend, and the fire seems to have gone out, for every thing is dark
again."

All in the neighbourhood of the raft was now undistinguishable, but
small red fires began to burn steadily in the three advanced canoes.

"What next?" said Sprawl.

"Oh, I suppose, having set their piquets for the night, we are safe."
And I took the glass from my eye, and banged the joints of it one into
another, when De Walden spoke.

"Please look again, sir--please look again."  I did so.  The gibbet
sort of erection that I had been inspecting, was now lit up by a sudden
glare of bright crimson flame.  The dark figures, and the bows and
sides of the attendant canoes, and the beams of the gallows-looking
machine itself, were all tinged with a blood-red light, and presently
the sound of the Eboe drums and flutes was borne down on the night-wind
with startling distinctness, and louder than before, drowning the
snoring of the toads, and _chir-chir-chirring_, and _wheetle-wheetling_
of the numberless noisy insects that floated off from the bank on
either side of us.

"What is that--do you see that, Master de Walden?" said I, as a dark
struggling figure seemed to be transferred by force from one of the
canoes that showed a light into a smaller one.  De Walden could not
tell--and the small skiff into which, whatever it was, it had been
transhipped, gradually slid away, apparently in the direction of the
raft, into the impervious darkness that brooded over the river, above
the three advanced canoes with the watch-fires.

I was about resigning the glass once more, when I noticed the raft
again suddenly illuminated, and a great bustle among the people on
board.  Presently a naked human being was dragged under the gallows,
and one arm immediately hoisted up, and fastened by cords to one of the
angles--a black figure, who had perched himself astride on the cross
beam, evincing great activity on the occasion.

For some purpose that I could not divine, the fire was now carried by a
group of savages from the foremost part of the raft, that is, from the
end of it next us, to the opposite extremity beyond the gibbet, the
immediate effect of which was to throw off the latter, and the figure
suspended on it, as well as the persons of the people who crowded
round, in high relief against the illuminated night damps lit up by the
fire, that hung as a bright curtain or background beyond it.  In a few
seconds, the other arm was drawn up to the opposite corner: and--my
blood curdles as I write it--we could now make out that a
fellow-creature was suspended by the wrists from the corners of the
gibbet, directly under the centre of the beam, as if the sufferer had
been stretched on the cross.

The fire increased in intenseness--the noise of the long drums, and the
yells of the negroes, came down stronger and stronger; and although I
could notice two assistants holding the legs of the suspended figure,
yet its struggles seemed to be superhuman, and once or twice I said to
young De Walden, "Heaven help me--did you hear nothing?"

"Nothing particular, sir, beyond the infernal howling and drum-beating
of these monsters."

A pause--then another terrible convulsion of the suspended victim, as
it struggled to and fro with the dark figures that clung to its lower
limbs like demons.

"There--heard you nothing now?"

"Yes, sir--oh, yes," gasped my young ally--"such a yell!"

"Oh, may my ears never tingle to such another!" groaned I; and as I
spoke, the assistants let go their hold on the suspended victim,
when--Heaven have mercy on us! horror on horror--one of the lower limbs
had been extracted, or cut out from the socket at the hip joint.  The
struggles of the mutilated carcass continued.  Quacco, hearing his name
mentioned by the young midshipman, was now alongside of me.  I handed
him the glass, which it was some time before he could manage.  At
length, having got the focus, he took a long, long look--he held his
breath.

"What is it?" said I, "what dreadful scene is this?  For Heaven's sake,
serjeant, tell me what is going on yonder?"

He puffed out his breath like a porpoise, and then answered me as
coolly as possible, as if it had been no strange sight to him.
"Fetish, massa--grand fetish dem make--such fetish as dem make before
dem go fight wid one enemy."

"But what was the figure we saw hoisted up on the gibbet-looking
apparatus just now?" said I.

"Can't tell," rejoined Quacco, "can't really tell, massa; at first I
taught it was man--but dat cry--so wery bitter and sharp like one
knife--no, I tink it must have been woman."

"Almighty powers!  Do you mean to say that the figure hung up between
us and the fire is really and truly a human being?"

"I do," said Serjeant Quacco, with the same _sang froid_; "I do, massa.
What you tink it was?"

I could not tell--I thought at one moment it was a fellow-creature, and
at another that it must be impossible, notwithstanding all the hideous
tales I had heard of the doings on this coast; but the truth, the
horrible truth could no longer be concealed.

"It is only one man or woman prisoner dat dem are cutting in pieces,
and trowing into de river."  Here I saw with my glass that the other
leg of the victim had been severed from the trunk.  "But I sall tell
you, dat dem intend to attack you dis wery night."

I heard him, but was riveted to my telescope.  All struggles had ceased
in the dark and maimed carcass, and presently one of the arms was cut
away at the shoulder, when the bloody limb fell against the post on one
side, and the mangled trunk banged against the upright on the other,
and swung round and round it, making the whole engine reel; while, as
the drums and shouts grew louder and louder, the other arm was also cut
off at the elbow, and down came the mutilated trunk of the sacrifice
into the middle of the fire, which for a moment blazed up, and shot
forth showers of sparks and bright smoke, then rapidly declined, and in
half a minute it was entirely extinguished.

The fires in the advanced boats were now all put out, and nothing
evinced the neighbourhood of our dangerous enemy; while the lovely moon
once more looked forth on us, her silver orb reflected on the arrowy
streams of the dark river, in a long trembling wake of sparkling
ripples, and all was as quiet as if she had been smiling on a scene of
peace and gentleness.

To what peculiarity in my moral composition it was to be attributed I
do not know, but the change from the infernal scene we had just
witnessed to the heavenly quietude of a lovely night had an
instantaneous, almost an electrical effect on me; and, wounded and ill
at heart as I was, I could not help looking up, out and away from my
grovelling condition, until in fancy I forgot my miserable whereabouts,
and only saw the deep blue heaven, and its countless stars, and the
chaste moon.

"Hillo, Benjie Brail," shouted friend Davie--"where away, my lad?  Come
back to mother earth"--("_alma mater tellus_," said a voice near
me--Corporal Lennox for a thousand, thought I)--"my dear boy, the
bright sky overhead, that _I_ make no doubt you are apostrophising so
poetically, will soon be shrouded by that brooding mist there--never
doubt me."

He augured rightly; for, in a little, a thick haze did in very deed
begin to mantle over the water, and continued to increase until the
glorious planet and bright stars were again obscured, and you could
scarcely see the length of the felucca.

Quacco's hint, however, was by no means thrown away on us; we
immediately saw all clear to give our savage neighbours a warm
reception, should they venture down under cover of the fog.

We had been some time at quarters, the boats astern having been hauled
up alongside, lest, in the fog, some of the canoes might venture near
enough to cut the painters.  But every thing continued so quiet and
still, that we were beginning to consider our warlike preparations
might not altogether have teen called for.

"I say, Sprawl," said I--"Poo, these poor creatures will not venture
down on us; especially after the lesson they had yesterday?"

"Don't trust to that, Brail, my good boy," said Davie.

"No, massa, don't you trust to dat, as Massa Prawl say," quoth
Quacco--"I know someting--ah, you shall see."  Here the poor fellow
crept close up to Dick Lanyard, "Captain--if you love sleep in one skin
hab no hole in him--if, massa, you walue de life of dem sailor intrust
to you--ill-bred fellow as dem may be,--let no one--no--not so mosh as
de leetle dirty cook-boy--shut him eyelid until to-morrow sun melt de
fog, and"----

Something dropped at my foot, with a splintering sort of sound, as if
you had cast a long dry reed on the deck.  "What is that?" said I.

"Will you be convince now?" said Quacco, slowly and solemnly.  "Will
Massa Brail,"--turning to me, and handing a slender wand, about ten
feet long,--"will good Massa Brail be convin"----

Spin--another arrow-like affair quivered in the mast close beside us.
It had passed sheer between the first lieutenant and me.

"Ah, ah, ah!" exclaimed Quacco in a mighty great quandary--"dere is
anoder--anoder spear--mind, gentlemen--mind, gentlemen, mind, or a
whole feet of war-canoe will be aboard of you before you can look
round."

"Men!" shouted Lanyard, "keep a bright lookout; there are native canoes
cruising all about us, and close to, in the thick mist there.  Peer
about, will ye?  Small-arm men, stand to your tackling--clear away both
guns.  Hush--what is that?"

"Nothing," said Sprawl--"I hear nothing but the rushing of the river,
and the groaning and rubbing of the boats alongside against the
gunwale."

"But I do," said Pumpbolt.

"And so do I," said Mr Marline.  "There is the splash of paddles as
plain as can be--there"----

"Where?" said De Walden.

"There," said Binnacle--"there;" and, at the very instant, I saw the
dark prow of one canoe emerge from the fog, the after-part being hid
under the thick, but moon-illumined haze.  Presently another appeared
close to her, but less distinctly; both assuming a wavering and
impalpable appearance, like two large fish seen, one near, and the
other farther off, in muddy water.

"Mr Marline, fire at that fellow nearest us."

The moment the musket was discharged, the canoe backed into the fog
again, but we could plainly hear the splash and whiz of a number of
paddles rapidly plied, as if in great alarm.  But even these sounds
soon ceased, and, once more, all was still.  For half an hour after
this, all hands remained on the _qui vive_, but the silence continued
unbroken; so, after seeing the lookouts all right, Sprawl, Pumpbolt,
and myself (as for Lanyard he would not leave the deck) went below to
have a snack of supper, preparatory to making a start of it, if it were
possible, whenever the swell on the bar was quieter.

"Tol lol de rol," sung _ould_ Davie Doublepipe.  "Oh Benjie Brail,
Benjie Brail, are we never to get out of this Styx--out of this
infernal river?  What say you, Pumpbolt, my man?"

"I'll tell you more about it," said Pumpbolt, "when we have got some
grub.  But _what_ Sir Oliver has done, or how he has managed without
_me_, for these two days past, _is_ a puzzler."

"Ah, bad for you master," said I.  "He will find he can do without
you--should not have given him the opportunity, man."

"No more I should--no more I should," responded the master.

So we set to our meal, and were making ourselves as comfortable as
circumstances admitted, when Binnacle trundled down the ladder in
red-hot haste.

"The canoes are abroad again, sir,--we hear them close to, but the fog
is thicker than ever."

"The devil!" said I; and we all hurried on deck.

Imminent peril is a beautiful antisoporitic, and we found all hands at
quarters of their own accord--the devil a drum need to have been beaten.

"Where do you hear them--where is the noise you speak of?" said Sprawl.

"Here, sir," said one man--"Here, sir," said another--and "Here,"
exclaimed a third, all indicating different points of the compass.

It was clear our enemies were clustering round us in force, although
the fog was absolutely impervious at a distance of ten paces.

"I say, master," said Sprawl, "the bar should almost be passable now
for a light craft like this?"

"Certainly," said Pumpbolt, "I make no doubt but it is; and if this
cursed mist would only clear away, I would undertake to take the Midge,
were she twenty tons bigger, slap across it, and pledge my credit she
should clear it as sound as a bell; for we have a noble moon, and Brail
there is quite confident about the river; besides, I took the bearings
of the westernmost channel with the eastern point this very morning.
No fear, if it would _but_ clear.  See if the moonshine has not made
the fog quite gauzelike, as if it were bright and luminous of
itself--Oh that it would rise!"

The four little reefers were at this moment clustered forward, close to
me; we were riding with our head up the river, and I saw one or two old
hands alongside of them, all looking out, and stretching their necks
and straining their eyes in a vain attempt to pierce the fog.

"What is that?"--It was a greasy cheep, and then a rattle, as if a
loose purchase or fall had suddenly been shaken, so as to make the
blocks clatter, and then hauled taught, as if people were having a pull
at the boom-sheet of a schooner, or other fore-and-aft rigged vessel.

"What is that, indeed?" said Sprawl.  "Why, look there--look there,
Lanyard--see you nothing there?"

"No, I see nothing--eh--faith, but I do--why, what is that?--Stand by,
small-arm, men--go to quarters the rest of ye--quick--Poo, it is simply
a thicker wreath of mist, after all."

Pumpbolt was standing by, but the object that we thought we had seen
descending the river was no longer visible, and I began to think it was
fancy.  Suddenly the mist thinned.

"There is the spectre-like object once more," I shouted.  "By all that
is portentous, it is a large schooner, one of these slaving villains,
who thinks he can steal past us under cover of the mist--There--there
he is on our quarter--there are his royal and gaff topsail over the
thickest of the fog--now his jib is stealing out of it."

"Clear away both guns there," sung out the fourth lieutenant.  "We
shall give him a rally as he passes, if he won't speak."

The strange sail continued to slide noiselessly down the river.

"What vessel is that?"--No answer--"Speak, or I will fire into
you."--All silent--"Take good aim, men--fire!"

Both cannon were discharged, and, as if by magic, the watery veil that
had hid every thing from our view rose from the bosom of the midnight
river, and hung above our mast-head in a luminous fleecy cloud, which
the moonbeams impregnated, but did not pierce, being diffused by it
over the whole scene below in a mild radiance, like that cast by the
ground glass globe of a sinumbra lamp,--and disclosing suddenly the
dark stream above and on each side of us, covered with canoes within
pistol-shot; while the large schooner that we had fired into, instead
of making demonstrations to escape over the bar, now shortened sail,
and bore up resolutely across our bows, firing two guns and a volley of
small arms into us in passing.

"We are beset, Lanyard--that chap is the commander-in-chief.  His
object is not to escape, but to capture us, my lad--take my word for
it," cried Sprawl.  "Forward, master, and look out for the
channel--Lanyard, I recommend you to let Brail take the helm--I will
mind the sails."

"True enough, by Jupiter," sung out old Dick.  "Knock off from the
guns, men--Shavings, stand by to cut the cable--hoist away the sail
there--cant her with her head to the eastward--steady, men, and no
rushing now.  All ready there forward?"

"All ready, sir."

"Cut away, then."

The clear axe glanced bright and blue in the moonlight, and fell twice
in heavy gashing thumps, and the third time in a sharp trenchant
_chip_.  The next moment the rushing of the rapid stream past our sides
ceased, as the little vessel slowly floated away, attaining gradually
the velocity of the river in which she swam.  Presently round she came.

"Hoist away, foresail and mainsail--hoist--haul aft the sheets."

The breeze freshened at the moment.  We were still about a mile from
the bar, on which the swell was breaking in thunder; but we had run
clear of the skirts of the mist, and the placid moon was again shining
crystal bright overhead.  The yells from the canoes increased.  A
volley of spears were lanced at us, several of which fell on board, but
none of them did any injury; and several muskets were also fired from
the tiny men-of-war, which were equally innocuous.  The strange sail
was right in our path.

"What shall we do?" sung out old Pumpbolt from forward.

Trusting to the great strength of the Midge, Lanyard shouted,--"Plump
us right aboard of him, if you can't do better; but creep under his
stern, if you can.  So starboard, Brail--starboard--steady--that will
do."

"Steady," I replied; but he would not give us the opportunity, for as
he saw us booming along, apparently aiming at him right amidships, as
if we had thought we could have sawn him in two, the youth bore up, and
stood right for the bar.

"So, so," quoth Davie Doublepipe--"we are away on a party of pleasure
together, I perceive, señor?"

We carried on, but the Don, from superior sailing, kept well on our
bow; and we were now, as we could judge from the increasing roar of the
breakers, rapidly approaching the river's mouth.

At this time we had a distinct view, not only of our formidable
antagonist, a large topsail schooner, and apparently full of men, but
of the bar which we were about to pass, in such uncomfortable
fellowship.

The canal of deep water that our steady and most excellent master aimed
at, was about fifty yards wide.  In it there was depth enough to allow
the swell from without to roll in, clear and unbroken, had it not been
met by the downward current of the river, aided, as in the present
case, by the land-breeze, which made it break in short foam-crested
waves.

We carried on.  All firing for the moment was out of our craniums on
either side.

"Do you see your marks now, Mr Brail--there in the clear?" cried the
master.

"Yes; I have the two trees on with the hummock--we are running straight
as an arrow for the channel."

"Steady then," sung out the old master.

"Steady," I returned once more.

On the right hand and on the left the swell was by this time breaking
in thunder, flashing up in snowflakes, and sending up a misty drizzle
into the cold moonlight sky; but the channel right a-head was still
comparatively quiet.

The schooner made an attempt to luff across our bows.

"Aim at him again," sung out old Bloody Politeful.  "Aim at him again,
Lanyard; to heave-to here is impossible."

"Boarders, stand by," cried Lanyard; but he once more, as we approached
him, kept away.

We were now actually on the bar.  The noise was astounding--deafening.
The sea foamed and raged, and flew up in mist, and boiled in over our
decks on either hand, as if we had been borne away in some phantom
ship, that floated on white foam instead of water; while, in the very
channel we were running through, the heave of the sea from without was
met by the rush of the stream downwards, and flashed up in numberless
jets of sparkling water, which danced about in the moonlight, and
curled, and hissed, and vanished, as if they had been white-shrouded,
unreal midnight spectres.  We ran on, the strange sail on our lee-beam.

"Now is your chance," shouted old Pumpbolt; "jam him down against the
long reef there--up with your helm, Mr Brail."

"Ease off the sheets," chimed in the first lieutenant.  "Handsomely,
men--handsomely."

In an instant our broadsides were rasping.

"Starboard--shove him down, Mr Brail!" again shrieked the master;
"hard-a-weather--keep her away, and ram him on the reef there, or let
us board him--time enough to luff when he strikes."

I was fully alive to all this.  The whole scene was now brightly lit up
by the glorious moon, and we could perfectly see what we were about.
We sheered close aboard of the schooner.

"Fire, small-arm men--boarders, be ready."

He still eschewed the combat, however, and kept off the wind also.  A
bright rainbow was at this moment formed by the moonbeams in the salt
spray--the blessed emblem of peace and forgiveness--_here!_ thought I,
even in that overwhelming moment.  Yes; the bow of the Immutable, of
Him who hath said, "My ways are not like your ways!" spanned the
elemental turmoil, the scene of the yet more fearful conflict of man's
evil passions, in a resplendent arch, through which the stars sparkled,
their bright rays partaking of the hues through which they shone.  Oh,
it was like the hope of mercy breaking through, the gloom, and
sanctifying, if it could not still, the troubled heavings of a sinner's
deathbed!

"A good omen--a glorious omen!" shouted young de Walden in the
excitement of the moment.

"Jam her on the reef!" again yelled the master.

I did so.  Crash--the schooner struck.  Her foremast bent forward like
a willow wand, the cordage and blocks rattling, and then went over the
bows like a shot.  The next sea broke over her in smoke, and hove her
broadside on upon the reef--another shock, and the mainmast was
lumbering and rasping over the sides.  She now fell off with her
broadside to the sea, which was making a fair breach over her; and
while the cries of the unfortunates aboard of her rent the air, and it
was clear she must instantly go to pieces, we all at once slid out of
the infernal turmoil of dashing waves--"the hell of waters"--and rose
buoyantly on the long smooth swell, that was rolling in from the
offing.  For a minute before not a word had been spoken by officers or
men, all hands being riveted to the deck, looking out, and expecting
every instant to see the vessel under foot driven into staves; but now,
as each man drew a long breath, old Davie, with most unlooked-for
agility, gave a _spang_ into the air; and while he _skiffed_ his old
hat over the mast-head, as an offering to Neptune, the gallant little
Midge bent to the freshening blast, like a racehorse laying himself to
his work, and once more bounded exultingly "o'er the glad waters of the
dark blue sea," as if the sweet little craft had been instinct with
life, and conscious that she had once more regained her own proper
element--the cloven water roaring at her bows, as the stem tore through
it, like a trenchant ploughshare; and dashing it right and left into
smoke, until it rushed past us in a white sheet of buzzing water, that
spun away in a long straight wake astern; in the small yeasty _swirls_
of which the moon and stars sparkled diamond-like, but of many hues, as
if the surface of the ever-restless ocean had been covered with
floating prisms.--"Hurrah--hurrah--we are once more in blue water!"[1]


[1]Some weeks after the preceding chapters appeared in Blackwood, the
following accounts of poor Lander's untimely fate reached
England--melancholy vouchers for the truth of the descriptions
contained in them:--


MURDER OF RICHARD LANDER.

(_Official Despatch._)

"SIR,--Admiral Warren having mentioned to me your wish, that any
intelligence respecting the expedition on this coast might be addressed
to you privately, I take the advantage of this communication to state,
that on my arrival here this day from the Cape and Sierra Leone, I
found Mr Lander had died on the 2d instant of a wound in the thigh.

"Mr Lander left here some time since for Cape Coast Castle, to procure
boats, &c.; and having got one boat and two canoes, manned by four
Englishmen, seventeen black men, and two boys, had proceeded up the
Niger nearly to the town of Hiammock (about 100 miles).  Confident of
the friendship of the natives, he was tracking the boat along there
near the turn of the river, and abreast of the island, which much
narrowed the passage, when, at 2 P.M., on the 20th ultimo, the boat
grounding, a heavy fire was opened from the bush on both sides, and
from the island, which killed two men, and wounded himself with three
others.  A number of large armed canoes coming round the point at the
same time, they were obliged to abandon the boat, take to the canoes,
and make a running fight for four hours, in which they lost another
Englishman, killed, and four blacks wounded--making a total of three
killed, and eight wounded.

"He got to the Craven cutter, waiting at the mouth of the river, late
in the afternoon of the 21st, arrived here on the 25th, and died on the
2d of this month.

"Mr Lander estimated the parties that attacked him at from eight to ten
thousand, all armed with swords or muskets--a number, no doubt, much
exaggerated--and felt convinced, from the judicious position they
occupied, that some Europeans were assisting, which, from the slavers
being much opposed to the English, and any trade on the coast, is very
probable.

"A Mrs Brown (wife of an English merchant up the river), with her
child, passengers, and a wounded black boy, were unavoidably left in
the boat when she was abandoned; but Mr Lander communicated with King
Boy, who immediately sent about them, and had great hopes they would be
returned uninjured.  The loss to the company in arms, goods, &c. on the
occasion is stated to be about L.450.

"I trust I have not troubled you with unnecessary details, and beg to
remain, sir, your most obedient and humble servant,

"RICHARD MEREDITH,
    "Commander of his Majesty's sloop Pelorus.

"_Fernando Po, February_ 5, 1834.

"P.S.--Two vessels sail for England to-morrow morning.  I send accounts
by each.  "R.M."


ANOTHER ACCOUNT.

The following is an extract of a letter from the agent to Lloyd's at
Fernando Po, dated February 6, 1834:--

"You will be sorry to be informed of the death of Richard Lander, who
left this place some weeks since in the Craven cutter, belonging to the
company, taking with him a long-boat I let him have for the purpose.
On his arrival at the Nunn, he left the cutter, and proceeded up the
river in the boat with L.400 worth of goods, to join the iron
steam-boat, which he had sent up a few weeks before.  She was to
proceed about 300 miles to a small island, which he had purchased from
the king, and where he had a factory.  They had proceeded about 100
miles up, the current being strong against them.  They were in good
spirits, tracking the boat along shore, when they were fired on from
the bush.  Three men were killed, and four wounded: Mr Lander was of
the latter.  They had a canoe of their own, and at the time they were
fired on, the boat was aground; and to save themselves, they were
forced to leap into the canoe, and make the best of their way.  They
were immediately followed by five or six war-canoes full of men,
keeping up a continued fire for five hours, until it got dark, when
they lost sight of them.  They arrived here on the 27th ultimo.  Mr
Lander expired this morning.  He wrote me a letter two days ago,
requesting that I would take charge of the vessels and property of the
African Inland Commercial Company, with which I accordingly complied.
The ball entered near his hip, and worked down to the thick of the
thigh.  It was a most malicious and treacherous attack.  Mr Lander told
me that there were Bonny, Brass, and Benin canoes; so that, from these
circumstances, I am of opinion that some of the slavers, or other
Europeans, have been the promoters of this murderous affair.  Colonel
Nicolls has forwarded a statement of the transaction to Government, and
if proper steps are taken, the whole must be brought to light.  Mr
Lander's clothes and papers are all lost.  I have had a great deal of
trouble with the expedition, and now it will be increased; but the
value of Fernando Po, in all cases of difficulty, is incalculable, and
I shall now communicate a little information relating to this island,
and also to the slave trade.  On New Year's day, at daylight, there
were four vessels in sight, two brigs, and two small vessels, schooner
rigged, in company with one of the brigs.  One of them anchored, named
the Renown of Liverpool, M'Nab, master, belonging to Sir John Tobin,
three months' passage.  Two hours afterwards the other brig and two
small schooners anchored.  They turned out to be his Majesty's brig
Trinculo and two slavers, captured off the Gaboons, belonging to
Prince's island, fifty-four slaves and a crew of fifteen men on board
each.  The slavers were surveyed by the officers of his Majesty's
vessels the Curlew, Griffin, and Trinculo, and condemned as unfit to
proceed to Sierra Leone.  Captain Warren, son of Admiral Warren, wrote
to Colonel Nicolls, on service, requesting him to allow the slaves to
be landed here, which request was immediately complied with.  The
spectacle was horrible.  There were several children that must have
been torn from the breast, for when landed, it was found necessary to
give them in charge to the women, to take care of.  So much for
Prince's island, that nest for piratical slavers.  If Colonel Nicolls
had three Government steamers under his control, he would put down the
slave traffic on the coast in six months, by destroying their nests in
the rivers.  At present the Government vessels only cruise about, and
pick up a slaver occasionally."



CHAPTER VII.

A WARM RECEPTION.

We bowled along for half-an-hour, keeping a bright look-out for the
frigate, but we could see nothing of her.

"I say, Sprawl, had we not better heave-to, till daylight?  You see we
can make nothing out as to her whereabouts; mind we do not run past her
in the night."

"Indeed, Lanyard, I think we had better--so heave-to at once, will ye?"

The word was passed; and after having given little Binnacle his
instructions to call him the instant they made out the frigate, or the
weather assumed a threatening aspect, Sprawl and I went below to secure
a couple of hours' sleep, troubled though they might be, before day
broke.  We had just commenced on our salt junk, and having each of us
filled a glass of grog, I was in the very act of hobbing and nobbing
with my illustrious ally, when we heard some one call down the
after-hatchway.  I instantly recognised the voice of Corporal Lennox.

"I say, Dogvane, do rouse out Mr De Walden--I know he is regularly done
up, but it is his watch, and unless he is on deck at muster, he will be
sure to catch it, and I should be sorry that he did."

"Why, master corporal," responded the quartermaster, "you might have
put yourself to the trouble of coming down yourself and awakening Mr De
Walden, and so you would have been under no obligation to nobody; but I
won't grudge the trouble, so I will do it for you."

"Hillo," we immediately heard old Dograne sing out, "on deck, there."

"What do you want?" replied Corporal Lennox.

"Oh, nothing, but Mr De Walden is not here."

"Never mind then, old fellow," said Lennox, "he is in the cabin, I
suppose."

Here little Binnacle struck in--"Why, Lennox, what are you bothering
about; did I not desire you to call Mr De Walden?"

"You did sir, but he is not below, unless he be in the cabin."

"Well, did you ask the captain's steward if he was there or not?"

"No, sir."

"Ask him now, then; and tell him to say to Mr De Walden that he is
wanted."

"I'll tell you what,"--(at this moment struck in old Davie),--"I am
deucedly done up, so tip me the case-bottle again, and I will make
another tumbler of grog, and then turn in till daylight--for even if we
make the frigate out, what use is there in"----

"Hush," said I, "what is that?"  There was a buzz on deck, and a
rattling up the ladder of the people from below, and we could hear a
voice say, "Mr De Walden! he is not in the berth below,"--another
responded, "The captain's steward says he is not in the cabin."--"Is Mr
De Walden forward there, boatswain?"--"No," sung out a gruff voice,
sounding low, and mollified by distance,--"No Mr De Walden here."

"Is Mr De Walden aft there?" continued little Binnacle.

"No sir--no."

A sudden light flashed on me--I trembled, and a chill curdled the blood
at my heart, for I had not seen him since we had hove the schooner on
the reef.  I ran on deck, but as I ascended the ladder, "Pooh," said I
to myself, "all nonsense--why put myself into a flurry?"  And as I
stepped off the ladder, little Binnacle called down the main-hatchway--

"I say, De Walden--Henry--Henry De Walden--come on deck, man--come on
deck--this is no time for skylarking--Mr Lanyard is on deck."

Several gruff voices replied from below, "Mr De Walden is _not_ here,
sir."--"No Mr De Walden here."

The buzz increased--"Is Mr De Walden forward there?"

"No."

"Is he below?"

"No, sir, no--no Mr De Walden here."

Old Bloody Politeful, kind-hearted soul as he always was, had now also
turned out--"Why, Brail, what is all this bother about?"

"My dear Sprawl," said I, greatly excited, "young De Walden is nowhere
to be seen."

"Nonsense," rejoined he; "why, he was standing close beside me the
whole time we were crossing the bar, even up to the time when I was
fool enough to _squir_ my old hat over the masthead."

"And so he was," chimed in Pumpbolt.

"Then beat to quarters," said Mr Lanyard;--"the gallant youngster never
missed muster yet--Desire them to beat to quarters, Mr Marline."

"Ay, ay, sir," responded the midshipman.  All hands turned out promptly.

"Men," said the lieutenant--"Mr De Walden is missing.--Have any of you
seen him?"

"No, sir,--none of us have seen him since the strange schooner struck."

"Have you overhauled the midshipmen's berth, Mr Marline?"

"Yes, sir."

"The whole ship has been searched," said little Binnacle, who had just
returned from below; "cable-tier, hold, and all.  The boatswain and
carpenter have been all over her.  The gunner has even looked into the
magazine.  Mr De Walden _is not_ on board, sir."

"Poo, there he is at the masthead,--there," said I; for as I looked up
I distinctly saw, either with my bodily optic, or my mind's eye, I am
not quite certain which to this hour, a dark figure standing on the
long-yard, with one hand holding on by a backstay, while with the other
it pointed upwards into the pure sky.  Old Dick at this was in a
towering passion.  "Come down--Mr De Walden--come down.  sir--what is
the fun of all this?--why, your absence has put the whole ship in a
fuss--we thought you had fallen overboard."  The dark object remained
stock-still.  "What _can_ the captain see?" passed amongst the men.
"Why, _I_ see nothing, but Mr Brail does," quoth _el señor teniente_.
"Do you see any thing at the masthead?" said one to his neighbour--"Do
_you_ see any thing?" quoth another.  No one saw any thing but myself.
"Look there, Sprawl--there--by Heaven what can this mean--_do_ you
really see nothing there?"  The worthy fellow shaded his eyes with his
hand, and kept twisting and turning and rolling his head about, as if
it had been fixed on the ball and socket principle; but the object that
had fascinated me was invisible to him.  Gradually the figure, without
changing its position, _thinned_; and anon, as if it had been a shred
of dark vapour between us and the heavens, the stars were seen through
it; but the outline, to my distempered vision, was still as well
defined as ever.  Presently, however, it began to grow indistinct and
misty; and, whatever it was, it imperceptibly melted away and
disappeared.  _De Walden was nowhere to be found_.  I looked back
towards the dark estuary we had left.  The sky in the background was
heavy, black, and surcharged, as if it had been one vast thundercloud;
but the white line of breakers on the bar continued distinctly visible;
over which the heavenly moonlight rainbow still hovered, although
gradually fading; and even as I looked it ceased to be distinguishable.
As it disappeared in the surrounding blackness, even so vanished all
hope from my mind of young De Walden's safety: and remembering the poor
boy's last words--"A good omen!" said I, "Alas, alas, an evil one it
hath been to thee, poor boy!"

"Call the watch, boatswain's mate," said Lanyard; and without speaking
a word more, he, old Davie, and I descended to the cabin again.

"What saw you aloft, Benjie? tell us truly--none of your waking dreams,
you mongrel, half Scotchman, half Pat," said Sprawl.

I told him.

"I know it is downright nonsense--there was no one aloft, and I am
persuaded it was all a delusion; still"----

"Nonsense--to be sure it is all nonsense--regular moonshine, Benjie,"
said Davie--"cannot be--you are overfatigued, man--you will laugh at
all this to-morrow--but poor young De Walden--he must have fallen
overboard when we drove the Don on the reef.  God help us--what a
melancholy report we shall have to make to Sir Oliver! but give us some
grog, Lanyard, you sticky old villain, and I will lie down on the
locker till daylight."

I was bewildered--my mind from my early youth was tinged with
superstition, but, nevertheless, what _could_ this have been?  For
four-and-twenty hours, whatever I might have drank, I had eaten little
or nothing,--and I began to perceive that I laboured under the
oppressive effects of such a recoil as one experiences after having had
the folly and audacity to get tipsy on unaided champagne, without
having stowed away a ground tier of wholesome solid food; besides, I
now found that the blow on my head, hard and thick as that might be,
was beginning to tell; for I was aware that my pulse was feverish, and
I had had several attacks of giddiness during the evening.  I puzzled
myself for half-an-hour in vain; at length I came to the conclusion, no
doubt the correct one, that it was a freak of the imagination.  When I
raised my head from my hand, by which time the lamp was flickering in
the socket, I saw my friends sound asleep, so I was not long in
following their example, and worn out as I was, I soon forgot every
thing, and was as fast as they were.

I was awoke by the mate of the watch calling Mr Lanyard about half an
hour before daylight.

"We see the commodore, sir, about two miles on the lee-beam," said Mr
Marline, as he stuck his head into the cabin.

"Very well--I will be on deck presently--how is her head?"

"South-west, sir--but the wind is very light."

He retired--and Dick having rigged with an expedition unknown to all
mankind, _barring_ a sailor or a monkey, went on deck.  A restless fit
had overtaken me, so I soon followed him.

It was now four in the morning--there were clouds in the sky, but very
little wind.  In the east, all was clear--the morning star had already
slipt her moorings, and was several degrees above the horizon, against
which the rolling swell rose and sank as black as ink, except where the
glorious planet cast a tiny wake on it, glittering in a small line of
silver light; underneath, the glow of the advancing sun gradually
tinged the sky and every shred of clouds with a crimson flush.

On the other hand, when we looked down to leeward, far in the steamy
west, the declining moon hung over the dark sea pale and sickly, as a
lamp whose oil had failed.  She looked as if she would have dropped at
once into the ocean, and the feeble wake she cast through the ascending
fog was dull and cheerless.  There, however, in the very centre of her
half quenched radiance, lay the noble frigate, rolling heavily on the
long seas, under her three topsails; now rising distinct and clear
against the horizon on the ridge of the dark swell, and again sinking
on the liquid hills until she disappeared, as if the ever heaving
waters had swallowed her up.  All overhead continued blue, and cold,
and serene.

"Mr Marline, bear up, and run down to her."

"Ay, ay, sir."

The deadening splash and gushing sound of the felucca's counter, as it
came surging down, while lying to, was soon, but gradually, exchanged
for the rushing of the water and buzzing of the foam past a vessel
rapidly cleaving the billows.

As we approached, all remained quiet and still on board the frigate.
We stood on--not a soul seemed to notice us--we crossed her
stern--still all silent, and at length we rounded to under her lee.  We
were so close that one might have chucked a biscuit into her gangway.

"Are you waiting for a boat, Mr Lanyard?" at length said the officer of
the watch, the old gunner.

"No, no," he replied, "I will be on board presently."

Sprawl was roused out, and in a few seconds we were in our own tiny
skiff, and approaching the frigate.  All continued dark and dismal, as
we looked up at her black hull, dark sails, and tall spars.  She was
rolling heavily, the masts and yards groaning, the bulkheads creaking
and screaming, and the topsails fluttering and grumbling, until the
noise, every now and then, ended in a sounding thump, as if the old
ship, in all her parts, were giving audible indications of her
impatience of the tedious calm; while her stained canvass appeared to
be as heavy as if a wetting shower had just poured down.  We
approached, and as the man in the bow stuck his boat-hook into the old
lady's side to fend off, the sidesman handed us the man-ropes, and
presently we were all three on the Gazelle's quarterdeck.

Every thing was wet and uncomfortable--the heavy dew was dripping down
from the shrouds and rigging, and every lumbering flap of the topsails
sent a cold shower pattering on deck.  The watch had all roused out
from the booms, and were clustered on the hammock cloths, looking down
on us.  When we got on deck, they followed us as far aft as they
thought they might venture to do, while others again had hung
themselves in a variety of ways over the side to get the marrow of our
secret out of our boat's crew.  The old gunner was arrayed in his
pea-jacket and blue trowsers, as if he had been in the North Sea; and
the red sparkle of the light in the binnacle glanced on the face and
chest of the sunburned seaman at the wheel.

"How is Sir Oliver, and Mr Garboard, and Mr Donovan?"

Any man who has lived in such a climate will evince no wonder at the
anxiety and rapidity with which the questions were put.

"Why, all pretty well," said the gunner.  "Sir Oliver, indeed, has been
ill, but is now better--and Mr Garboard is nearly all right again; he
took the forenoon watch yesterday, sir.  But as for Mr Donovan, why,
sir,"----

"Never mind, never mind," said Sprawl; "send down to Sir Oliver, and
say that we have got on board."

The man dived, and presently brought a message that Sir Oliver desired
to see us in his cabin.

We descended; a solitary lamp hung from the deck above, and lit up the
large cabin any thing but brilliantly.  It had the appearance of having
been newly lit, and wanting oil,--for when we first entered it was
flaring up like a torch, but gradually declined until we could scarcely
see about us.  As you have not been below before, I will describe it.

The cabin was very large, even for a vessel of her class, and was not
subdivided in any way.  There were four guns, long twenty-fours, two of
a side, but the devil a stick of furniture in it, with the exception of
the table in the middle, and six or seven chairs, two black hair sofas,
one on each side of the cabin, a chest of drawers, and the crimson
curtains before the stern windows.  The portrait of a lady was the only
ornament, a buxom-looking dame, but of the Earth earthly, nothing
etherial about her.

The commodore's cot hung well aft, near the small door that opened into
the quarter-gallery on the starboard side--the bed-clothes were all
disarranged as if he had recently risen; and at first we thought he
must have left the cabin as we came down, and walked forward on the
main-deck.

"Where is the commodore?" said Lanyard to the captain's steward, who
accompanied us with a light, but which had been blown out by the
opening of the cabin door.

"I left him in the cabin, sir--I suppose he is there still, sir."

By this time the ruddy east was brightening; the light that shone
through the stern windows came in aid of the dim lamp, and we saw a
figure, Sir Oliver as we conceived, stretched on one of the sofas that
stood between the aftermost gun and the quarter-gallery door, on the
larboard side.  The man brought two candles and placed them on the
table.  Both Sprawl and myself had been rather surprised that the
commodore did not instantly address us as we entered, but we now
noticed that the gallant old fellow was very pale and wan, and that he
spoke with difficulty, as if he had been labouring under asthma.

"Welcome, gentlemen--glad to see you back again.  I am prepared to hear
that you have failed in your object--quite prepared; but I have been
down ever since you shoved off, and am far from well yet."

He rose and shook hands with us with all his usual cordiality of manner.

"Sit down, gentlemen,--there--sit down.  Howard, get coffee."

It was handed.

"Well, Master Brail--you have had enough of piloting and cutting out,"
said he, endeavouring to appear cheery and unconcerned--"curiosity
quite satisfied I daresay."  I was about replying when he continued,
addressing the lieutenants.

"You have had some fighting, I suppose--indeed, we heard the firing
distinctly enough."

"Yes, commodore," said Sprawl, "enough and to spare of that; but, as
you have guessed, we were unable to bring out the polacre--she now lies
sunk in the river."

"Well, well," rejoined Sir Oliver, "I will hear the particulars by and
by; but I hope you have not lost any, at least not _many_ of the
people--none killed I hope?--this horrible climate will leave few of us
for gunpowder soon--none killed I hope?--a few wounded, of course, I
bargain for"----

Sprawl was silent for a minute, and then handed him the
return.--"Indeed, Sir Oliver," said he, "I am grieved to tell you that
it has been a bad business; we have lost several excellent men, and our
doctor's list is also heavy; however, all the wounded are likely to do
well."

The commodore took the paper in his nervous hand, and as he read the
official account of our adventure, it shook violently, and his pale lip
quivered, as he exclaimed from time to time--"God bless me, how
unfortunate! how miserably unfortunate!  But, gentlemen, you deserve
all praise--you have behaved nobly, gallantly.  I have no heart,
however, to read the return.  You have had how many killed?" turning to
Lanyard.

He mentioned the number.

"And wounded?"

He also gave him the information he desired in this respect.

"Merciful Heaven!" groaned the excellent man--"but it cannot be
helped--it cannot be helped.  Pray," said he, the tone of his voice
changed--I noticed it quavered, and he seemed to screw his words
through his clenched teeth with difficulty,--all of which surprised me
a good deal--"none of the boys--the young gentlemen--none of the
midshipmen are hurt, or"----

He seemed afraid to pronounce the word "killed."  Sprawl looked at
Lanyard.  He saw that he hung in the wind.

"Why, no, sir," said he.  "Why, no, none of them seriously hurt."

"Nor killed?" said the commodore, affecting to be at ease, as he lay
back on his sofa; "I am glad of it--I thank heaven for it.  But really
I am so weak from this confounded complaint!"

"No, sir," continued old Davie, "none of the midshipmen are either
killed or wounded, but Mr De Walden"----

He suddenly raised himself into a sitting position, and the increasing
daylight, that streamed through the stern windows, and the scuttle
overhead, showed that he was paler than ever; the ague of his lip
increased, and his whole frame trembled violently, as he said in a weak
nervous voice--"Mr De Walden, did you say? what of him?  You just now
said _none_ of the young gentlemen were either killed or wounded."  And
he looked first at Sprawl, then at Dick, and lastly at me, but all of
us were so taken aback by such unusual and unaccountable conduct, that
for a second or two we could make no answer.

At length Lanyard rallied his wits about him.  "You are right, sir,
none of the midshipmen were hurt, but Mr de Walden"----

"Mr de Walden again!--what can you mean?  Speak out, for the love of
mercy"--and he seized his arm, and then shrunk away again, and held up
his hand, as if he could not stand the hearing of what he might utter.
"Don't say it, Mr Lanyard; don't, if you regard me, say it;" and he lay
back, and held both hands on his eyes, and sobbed audibly.

Sprawl and I again exchanged looks, but neither of us could find it in
our hearts to speak.

At length the old man made a violent effort at composure,--"Gentlemen,
you will pardon me; disease has broken me down, and fairly unhinged me;
and I could, as you see, cry like a woman.  I had, indeed, a very
peculiar cause for loving that poor boy, I fancy, God help me"--here
the large tears streamed over his old cheeks, that had stood the
washing up of many a salt spray--"that I see him now!"

"Where?" said I, like honest Horatio, somewhat startled.  He did not
notice the interruption.

"I believe he had not an enemy in the world; I am sure he will be
lamented by every man and officer in the ship, poor young fellow.  But
come, gentlemen, enough and to spare of this"--and he rose up, and
strode across the cabin, speaking with a forced composure, as we could
easily perceive.  "We must all die, in a sick bed or in action--either
on shore or at sea; and those who, like him, fall while fighting
gallantly, are better off than others who drag through a tedious and
painful disease.  This is trite talking, gentlemen; but it is
true--God's will be done!  Peace be with him, poor boy; peace be with
him."

Thinking he was mad, I several times tried to break in, and disburden
my mind of the whole story; but he always waved me down impatiently,
and continued to walk backwards and forwards very impetuously.

At length he made a full stop, and looked earnestly in the first
lieutenant's face--"He behaved gallantly, and died nobly?--all his
wounds in the front?"

I could allow this to go on no longer.  "Why, Sir Oliver, young De
Walden is not killed, so far as we know."

He gasped--caught my arm convulsively--and burst into a weak hysterical
laugh--"Not dead?"

"No, sir; none of us can say that he is dead.  He did indeed behave
most gallantly through the whole affair; but"----

"But what?" said he--his eyes sparkling, his brows knit, and his
features blue and pinched, as if he had seen a spectre--"But what, Mr
Brail? for God Almighty's sake, tell me the worst at once."

"Sir Oliver, he is _missing_."

His hands dropped by his side, as if suddenly struck with palsy; his
jaw fell, and his voice became hollow, tremulous, and indistinct, as if
the muscles of his lips and tongue had refused to do their office.
When he spoke, it seemed as if the words had been formed in his
chest--"_Missing!_"

"Yes, Sir Oliver," said Sprawl, utterly thunderstruck at his superior's
conduct--"Mr De Walden is _missing_."

The old man staggered, and would have fallen, had he not caught hold of
the scroll head of the sofa.  I thought he had fainted, but he
gradually recovered himself, and stood erect.  There was a long pause.
At length he made a step towards us, and said, with an expression of
the most bitter irony--"So, gentlemen, Mr De Walden _is missing_; the
only officer _missing_ is a poor young midshipman; a prisoner amongst
these savages, forsooth; a prisoner!  Oh, God!  I could have brooked
hearing of his death;--but a prisoner, and in the power of such an
enemy!  I bless Heaven, that his poor mother has been spared this
misery--would that I had also been in my grave before--But, but"--his
tone suddenly became fierce and threatening, and he raised his hand
close to my face.  I thought he would have struck me--"But how came it,
Mr Brail--Mr Sprawl and Mr Lanyard there, I see, are both
scathless--but you have been wounded, so I will speak to you--How came
it, sir, that he is missing?  He must have been deserted,
sir--forsaken--left to his fate--and such a fate!--while you, my worthy
lieutenants," here he turned round fiercely on his two subalterns,
"were wisely looking out for a sound skin and safety."

We were all so utterly taken by surprise at this furious climax to what
we began to consider the commodore's insanity, that neither the first
lieutenant, Lanyard, nor myself, notwithstanding all that had passed,
could speak; which gave Sir Oliver time to breathe and continue in the
same tone of fiendlike acerbity--"If I live, you shall both answer for
this before a court-martial.  Yes; and if you escape there, _you shall
not escape me_."

"Commodore--Sir Oliver," said Sprawl, deeply stung; "by Heaven, Sir
Oliver, you will make me forget who I am, and where I am.  You do _me_,
you do Mr Lanyard, and the whole of the party engaged, exceeding
injustice--the grossest injustice; but I will leave the cabin; I dare
not trust myself any longer.  I have served with you, Sir Oliver, for
seven years, in three different ships, and, to my knowledge, we have
never, until this moment, had an angry word together"--and here the
noble fellow drew himself up proudly--"and I will yet put it to you
yourself, when you _are_ yourself, whether in all that time you ever
knew me failing in my duty to my king and country--whether, during the
whole seven years, you, sir--ay, or any man in the ships we have served
in together--can now lay, or ever attempted to lay, any action or deed
at my door derogatory to my character as an officer, or that in any the
smallest degree sullied my reputation as a gentleman."

This unlooked-for spunk on old Davie's part startled me, and evidently
made a strong impression on the excited nerves of the old commodore;
especially as Sprawl followed it up, by slowly adding, while the tears
hopped over his iron visage--"But, if it is to be so, I will save you
the trouble, Sir Oliver, of _bringing_ me to a court-martial"--he
paused for a good space--"Sir Oliver Oakplank, I _demand_ it."

The commodore had by this lain down again on the sofa, with his head
resting on the pillow, and his arms clasped on his breast, as if he had
been an effigy on a tombstone.  For a minute he did not utter a
word--at length--"David Sprawl, man and boy, I have known you
five-and-twenty years; that your promotion has not kept pace with your
merits I regret, almost as much as you yourself can do; but, in the
present instance, you knew I had been ill, and at your hands I had
expected more"----

"I could not help it, Sir Oliver--I had looked for other things; but
mine has been a life of disappointment."

Sir Oliver rallied, and rose, ill as he was, and, stepping up to him,
he laid hold of old Bloody Politeful's large bony hand--"Mr Sprawl,
I--I beg pardon--illness and anxiety, as I said before, have broke me
down; to you and Mr Lanyard I offer my apology; as brave men I know you
won't refuse it; bad health is my excuse;--but neither of you can
imagine the ties that bound me to that beautiful--that most excellent
young man, Henry De Walden."

Dick now thought it was his turn, and made a rally--"Why, Sir Oliver, I
am sure that neither Mr Sprawl nor myself would yield, even to you, in
regard for him."  He shook his head.  "Indeed, sir, we both knew the
poor boy well; and"--here he plucked up more courage, determined in his
own mind apparently that he would clap a stopper on their being ridden
rough-shod over in this sort of way--but the commodore, far from
showing fight, quietly allowed him to say out his say--"We both knew
him well--a finer or a braver lad never stepped; and I fancy, when I
say so, I answer not only for Mr Sprawl and myself, but for every man
who was with us in this ill-fated expedition.  Had his rescue depended
on our devoting ourselves, you may rely on it, Sir Oliver, either we
should not have been here to tell the story, or _he_ would have been
alive to tell his own."

The commodore once more lay back on the sofa, covering his face with
his hands--"Go on, Mr Lanyard--go on."

"Why, sir, he was with us, safe and sound, until we crossed the bar.  I
heard him sing out, 'a good omen--a good omen!' just as we jammed the
Spanish schooner that had waylaid us, right down on the bank, in the
very middle of the bar; but from that very instant of time no man in
the ship saw or heard any thing of him."

The old commodore appeared to be screwing up and gathering all his
energies about him.

"Never saw him!--what--did he fall overboard?  Tell me--tell me--_did_
he fall overboard?"

"None of us saw him fall overboard, sir;" said I, desirous of making a
diversion in favour of my friends, "but after that moment I never saw
him alive."

"Alive!" echoed the commodore--"Alive!  Did you see him dead, then?"

"No, sir, I think with you he must have gone overboard."  There was a
long and most irksome pause; at length the commodore broke it.

"Well, well, Benjamin, it cannot be helped, it cannot be helped."

Desirous of preventing another lull in the conversation, I hinted to
the commodore that I had been subjected to a very strange delusion of
the senses in passing the bar.

"Ay, indeed," said he, with a faint smile--"second sight, I
presume--your Scotch star has been in the ascendant--but come, tell the
whole story at once."

"I have told it before to Mr Sprawl, Sir Oliver; but really, on
reflection, I have some scruples about recapitulating such nonsense at
length again."

"Tell it," said Sir Oliver, looking at me with his lack-lustre
eye--"tell it."

"Then, sir, I will, although I am quite prepared to be laughed at."  I
made a pause, for, to say the truth, I was really disinclined to say
more on the subject, which I now regretted I had broached; but he
waited for me.  "We had just cleared the bar, sir, when, on looking up,
to see how the sail drew, I saw, holding on by the main haulyards, and
with his feet spread out on our long lateen yard, a figure between me
and the moonlight sky, as like Mr De Walden's as one could fancy any
thing."

"Pray, did any other person see it?"

"No, sir, I don't believe any one else saw it."

"Then," continued the commodore, "it must have been all fancy.  How had
you lived that morning?"

"Why, sir, I was weak from want of food--indeed fairly worn out.  Yet
that the object was as palpable to me as if it had really been there,
there is no disputing.  I was startled at the time, I will confess;
but"--here my superstitious feelings again began to rise up,--"he was
never seen afterwards."

"Then your simple and entire opinion is--_that he is gone_?"  We bowed
our heads in melancholy acquiescence.  "Never mind then," said Sir
Oliver.  "Never mind, God's blessed will be done.  But, gentlemen, come
and breakfast with me at half past eight."  And we found ourselves
straightway on deck again.

"I say, friend Sprawl," said I, so soon as we arrived at the upper
regions--"have patience with me once more, and tell me seriously, what
think you of me as a ghost seer; how do _you_ account for the figure
that I saw at the masthead?"

"In this very simple way, Benjie, as I told you before, that, at the
best, you are an enthusiast; but in the present instance, being worn
out by fatigue and starvation, you really and truly fancied you saw
what was uppermost in your mind, and, so far as your excited fancy was
concerned,--why, you _did_ see it.  But come down below--come down
below.  Let us go and rig for our appearance before the commodore.  So
come along."  And straight we dived into the gunroom.

I had, verily, as my excellent friend Sprawl said, been much excited,
and while we were below, I had time to gather my thoughts about me.  My
first feeling was, that I had done very foolishly in telling my absurd
story to the commodore; my second, that I had, which was really the
simple fact, been imposed on by a false impression on my senses.

"Donovan, my darling," said I, addressing our friend, who was lying in
his berth close to us, "I can forgive you now for being mad a bit,
Dennis, dear."

"Come now, Brail, no quizzing, if you please; I am deuced weak yet."

We made our toilet, and presently we were in the cabin again.  Sir
Oliver, when we entered, was sitting at the breakfast table.  He had
dressed; and although he was still very pale, there was nothing
peculiar in his manner, if it were not that he was, if any thing,
kinder than usual.  He led the conversation as far away from the recent
expedition as he decently could, until breakfast was nearly over, when
he suddenly addressed me.  "Do you think, Mr Brail, since _you_ saw him
last, that there is any, the remotest chance of that poor boy being
alive?  Would it, in your opinion, be of any avail our hovering off the
coast for a few days, and sending in the boats occasionally?"

I looked at old Bloody Politeful, who thereupon took the word up.

"No, commodore, I believe the poor boy is gone.  I conceive it would be
lost time remaining here in the hope of his being alive."

"Enough, enough," said Sir Oliver.  And from that time forth, he
_never_, in my hearing at least, mentioned his name.



CHAPTER VIII.

CAPE MISSIONARIES.

I returned on board of the Midge, as in Sir Oliver's weak state of
health I thought it better to resist his desire that I should resume my
cot in his cabin for the present.

Notwithstanding the hopelessness of young De Walden being alive, still
we clung to this part of the coast for three whole days; and several
boats were sent in across the bar at high water on each day.  But over
the whole banks of the vile river there prevailed a churchyard silence.
Not a native was to be seen; and, on the evening of the third day, we
all got safely and finally on board again.  The night was spent as
usual in making short boards, so as to hold our ground; and at eleven
on the following forenoon, Lanyard's signal was made to repair on board.

The gig was manned, and we pulled to the frigate.  A number of joyous
faces were stuck over the hammock cloths reconnoitring us as we
approached, all on the broad grin apparently.  I had no sooner reached
the quarterdeck than I met Sprawl.

"Ah!  Benjie, my love, congratulate us, we are to bear up for the West
Indies at noon, my boy.  What do you think of that?  We shall lose
sight of this infernal coast for six months at all events."

"Ha, ha," said old Dick, forcing a laugh in great bitterness, "very
lucky, very comfortable.  What a beautiful station we must have, when
the prospect of a furlough in the West Indies--the very shrine of the
demon of yellow fever--is hailed with such uproarious demonstrations.
However, be it so; any change must be for the better, so I do from my
heart congratulate you.  But as for me, I suppose I am destined to kick
about in the Midge here, between Cape Coast and Fernando Po, so long as
we last.  None of us, Sprawl, will cope with Methuselah, take my word
for it."

The excellent fellow took his hand.  "True enough, Lanyard.  You say
rightly, Richard Lanyard.  I had forgotten you altogether; and _now_,
regarding your own course, really I can give you no information
whatever.  However, here comes the commodore.  Shall I ask him?"

"By no manner of means," said Lanyard, feeling a little thin-skinned
after the late affair; "time enough when he speaks himself."

Sir Oliver approached.  I cannot say that I now perceived any
difference between his usual manner and his present bearing.  He was,
if any thing, kinder than ever, and his quizzical way of carrying on
had returned on him in full force.  He first addressed himself to Mr
Sprawl.

"See all clear, Mr Sprawl, to bear up at noon."  The first lieutenant
bowed.

The master was standing about ten feet from us.  "Mr Pumpbolt," said
the commodore, "come down with me to the cabin, if you please."  And
forthwith he stumped aft, and was in act to descend, when Lanyard
caught his eye.  "Oh, I had forgotten.--Here, Mr Lanyard, if you
please."  Dick walked aft to him.  "Mr Lanyard, I had at first intended
to have left the tender with the Cerberus, but, on second thoughts, as
I may require all the people on the voyage home, I have determined to
take you with me.  That is, if you think the craft capable of making
tolerable weather of it."

Don Ricardo was near pitching his hat over the mizen peak, and shouting
aloud for joy, but that "idol, ceremony," restrained him.

"Strong, sir!  Here, Shavings,"--the carpenter's mate of the Gazelle,
who had been promoted as a functionary of his in the Midge, and who had
bested to come on board along with us, was passing forward at the
moment--"Here, Shavings, Sir Oliver wants to know whether we consider
the Midge capable of making the voyage from this to the West Indies; if
we do not, _we are to be left on the coast here_."

"Come--come," said the commodore, laughing, "no _leading_, Mr Lanyard."

The lieutenant began to think he had gone a little too far; and feeling
somewhat _out_, looked towards Shavings for relief.  The old carpenter,
however, was not so prompt as he calculated on.  His honesty appeared
more stubborn than suited him--until he repeated the words, slewing
them a little to his own side, to suit the emergency.  "Why, Mr
Shavings, we are to be kept cruising about here, as tender to the
Cerberus one day, and to Heaven knows who the next, while the Gazelle
goes to the West Indies, and so round by Portsmouth, and all because
the felucca is not considered sea-worthy, nor competent to the middle
voyage."

"Oh," said Shavings, with a long drawl, "THAT is what you want to know,
sir?"  He then faced right round on Sir Oliver.  "Why, sir, that 'ere
little feluccre is as strong as well-seasoned Spanish oak and copper
bolts can make her.  The smell of the hold is so bad, sir, that we has
to pump fresh water into her every morning watch to sweeten her, sir.
Strong? if one half of her beams were sawn up into firewood, it would
boil the frigate's coppers for a month; and the feluccre that is, Sir
Oliver, would be swifter by half a knot, and none the weaker; and her
bottom--oh, it is a perfect bed of timbers--why you might caulk them,
sir; as for her bows, I believe they are strong enough for an ice-boat
on the Neva; and such transomes--why, sir, I would rather be in her in
a hurricane, than ere a fourty-four in the sarvice--were she even the
old Gaz"----

Here the poor fellow saw he had in his zeal and desire to break away
from this accursed coast, gone somewhat farther than he intended, so
making his obeisance, he hauled off.  Sir Oliver smiled.

"Well, well, Mr Lanyard, as I shall have occasion to call at Kingston,
Jamaica, and afterwards proceed through the Gulf to Havanna, I will
take you with me, and send you to Havanna direct--so go on board, and
send me your supernumeraries.  I suppose all the wounded are well
enough to be moved now?"

"Yes, Sir Oliver," said Dick, "all but that poor devil, Lennox, the
corporal of marines.  He is again down with fever."

"Well, but he will be better cared for here--so send him on board with
the rest--he is a very good man, and you know I must be marine officer
myself, now since poor Howlet invalided"--(this was the lieutenant of
marines)--"so send him with the rest."

"Why, Sir Oliver, the man is exceedingly willing, as we all know, but
his stamina is gone entirely, and this he is himself aware of.  Indeed
this morning he preferred a request to me, which I know is against rule
altogether; still, under correction, I promised to make it known to
you."

"Out with it--what is it?"

"Simply this, sir--that you would allow him to act as my steward for
the cruise, now since poor Jacobson is gone"----

"Why, it is against all rule, as you say, Mr Lanyard--but I see no
great harm in it, if the poor devil be really unable to keep watch--so,
at all events, keep him on board in the mean time.  We shall bear up,
and make sail at noon; and come on board to dinner, if you please, at
three."

Old Dick returned with a joyous heart to the Midge--I accompanied
him--Mr Marline was the officer of the watch.

"Send all the supernumeraries on board the Gazelle, Mr Marline, bag and
baggage, will ye?"

"Ay, ay, sir," responded the master's mate, now acting master of the
Midge--"shall we send the wounded, too, sir?"

"Yes, all hands of them."  I went down to dress for dinner.  When I
came on deck again, the men were all ready with their bags, in their
clean trowsers and frocks, and well-shaven chins, on the starboard
side; while the wounded had crept on deck, and were ranged under the
awning on the other.

They had all rallied astonishingly, but poor Lennox, who was miserably
weak and ill--he looked as if he were dying.  Little Joe Peak came up
to the lieutenant, "Am I to go with them, sir?"--"Certainly."  The wee
mid looked disappointed--and made no answer.  Presently he came up to
him again, "The men ask if they may give you a cheer, sir."--"Heaven
help us, no--no--we have had nothing to brag off, Master Peak--no--no."

But Dick twigged, on a moment's reflection, what the drift was.

"I say, steward, give the men who are going in the boat a glass of grog
a-piece to drink my health."  It was done, and the boat shoved off, and
was returning for the wounded, when I happened to notice Lennox looking
earnestly at me.  "Bless me, Lennox, I have forgotten you entirely."

"Do you know if I am to go on board the frigate sir?" said the poor
fellow, with a weak voice.

"No, Lennox, not unless you choose, I believe--the commodore has no
objection to your acting as steward, agreeably to your wish, until you
get strong; so you may remain, if you like."

"Thank you, sir."

I noticed the large tears roll down his cheeks as he turned his
emaciated countenance to the ship's side and wept.  I was mightily
surprised at all this, and mentioned the circumstance to my worthy
cousin, who did not seem to understand it either.

"What can you mean by this, my man?  No sham sentimentality with me, my
fine fellow."

"Oh no, sir--no--I am unused to kindness, sir, and weak enough, God
knows; but really, in my present condition, I am unable to do my duty
in the frigate."

"Well, has not Mr Brail told you you might stay if you choose?"

"Yes, thank you, sir--you don't know what a load you have taken from my
heart, sir."

"What mean you, man--speak out--no humbugging.  If you won't answer
me--by the powers"--he approached the spot where he lay--the poor
wasted lad had fainted.  He now called the surgeon, who immediately saw
there was no make-believe in the matter, so he had him taken below; and
as time and tide wait for no man, we now returned to the frigate to
dinner.

I had previously determined in my own mind, taking into account Sir
Oliver's ailing condition, to remain in the Midge; more especially as
she was bound direct to the port where my chief business lay, trusting
to get down to Jamaica afterwards; so the first thing I did on reaching
Gazelle, was to get the commodore's concurrence to the plan.  I had
some difficulty in obtaining this; but finally, after many good
advices, he acquiesced; and we adjourned to the cabin.

Mr Garboard, who was by this time well enough to be out of his cot, and
old Sprawl, along with one of the midshipmen, were, with Lanyard and
myself, Sir Oliver's guests at dinner.

The thing went on very much as usual--the cloth had been drawn, and
during a pause in the conversation, I asked Sir Oliver "If he knew any
thing of Lennox?"

"What--the corporal of marines?  Why, no--I don't know much about him,
Mr Brail,--how should I?" said he, smiling.

"I did not expect that you would, Sir Oliver," replied I, taken a
little aback; "but he is certainly a very odd creature."  The commodore
here rang his bell.

"Gascoigne, send the Serjeant of marines here."

"Which, Sir Oliver," said the man--"Sergeant Lorimer, or Pigot, sir?"

"Send Serjeant Lorimer here."

The soldier, in his white jacket and trowsers, black cross belts, round
hat, with a white tape band round it, and white cords, or lanyards on
each side, fastening the brims up to the crown, like tiny shrouds,
appeared at the door; and facing us, made his salute, as stiff as a
poker, putting his hand up to his hat-brim, and swaying about in the
narrow door-way, like a statue on a ball and socket.

"Lorimer," said Sir Oliver, "what do you know of Lennox--corporal
Lennox?"

"Anan!" said the Serjeant, not comprehending the question; "beg pardon,
sir, what is your pleasure?"

"Why," said the choleric commodore--"what know ye of Lennox, you
numbscull, the marine who is left sick on board of the Midge--where and
when did you pick him up?"

"Oh, beg pardon," said the man--"why, Sir Oliver, he enlisted at the
depot at Portsmouth about twelve months ago.  He had come round in some
Scotch steam-boat, and he was then one of the handsomest-looking young
chaps I ever se'ed, Sir Oliver; but he seemed always to feel as if the
country was too hot to hold him, for he volunteered three times for
rather badish frigates, before we were drafted for Gazelle, when you
commissioned her.  In the small affairs we have had under your honour's
eye he has always, when in health, been a most desperate fellow.  He
seemed to value his life no more as a quid of tobacco--lately he has
become a leetle more circumspect, but he is terribly fallen off in
bodily health, sir."

"How came he to be made corporal so soon after joining?" said I.

"Easy, sir.  He came under my hands at drill; but I found the first
day, that the poor fellow, Scotchman though he was, knowed more of his
trade than I did myself, sir--and as I hope I never bears malice nor
envy against nobody, I could not help advertising Lieutenant Howlett,
that as he wanted a corporal no man was more fitterer for that same
than Lennox, and so he made him corporal; and if your honour wants any
penmanship done, now since your clerk is laid up, ne'er a man in the
ship, always barring my superiors," here he again touched his cap, "can
write running hand like Jack, poor fellow,--and as to spelling--oh my
eye."

"Well--well," said Sir Oliver--"but what is his general character?"

"The steadiest man in the ship, _when on duty_, Sir Oliver--marine or
able.  He never missed muster in his life.  I never saw him drunk or
dirty--the only fault I ever had to him is, that sometimes when the men
should have been airing themselves in their best on a Sunday forenoon,
he has been known to keep them below until eight bells were fine
run--extorting them out of the Bible, Sir Oliver."

"Nothing more?" said Sprawl.

"Yes, he sometimes gives all his grog to his messmates for a week at a
time, whereby Bill Swig once caught it at the gangway, your honour--and
he does gammon in some foreign tongues, now and then, as if he really
and truly had at one time or another been somebody, Sir Oliver."

"You say he is a good steady man _on duty_, Lorimer," quoth Sir
Oliver--"what may there be peculiar about him, _when below_?"

The Serjeant smiled, and fidgetted about, but seeing his captain waited
for him to speak--"Oh, I don't know, Sir Oliver, but he has a many
vagaries, and dreams dreams, Sir Oliver--and fancies he sees
sights--and speaks the damnedest nonsense--beg pardon, Sir Oliver--in
his sleep."  The commodore laughed, and touched his forehead knowingly
with his forefinger.

"Your honour has hit it," said the man, laughing.

"And is this all you know of him?"

"All and whole entirely, Sir Oliver."

"Very well--here"----

The commodore had filled a very sufficing tumbler of grog, and handed
it to the Serjeant of marines.  The man _now_ unbent, stept into the
cabin--wiped his mouth with the back of his large brown paw, and then,
looking as sheepish as need be, seized the tumbler in his right
hand--"Sir Oliver--and gentlemen all"--and swigging it off, he once
more raised his hand to the brim of his chapeau--turned round on his
heels, and marched out of the cabin.

About six in the evening, I returned on board the Midge, which had hove
to, so soon as she noticed the frigate do so.  As soon as we got on
deck, and the boat was hoisted up, Lanyard desired the gunner, who had
the watch, to bear up again in the wake of the commodore, for whom he
was to keep a bright look out.

For a week we had beautiful weather, although the wind continued very
light, so that we had almost daily communication with the frigate, and
had the happiness of seeing even poor Donovan on deck again.  As we
widened our distance from the abominable coast, all hands seemed to
improve astonishingly, so that by the seventh day after we had taken
our departure, there was not a sick man in the ship.

The weather had during all this time been invariably fine, but on this
Sunday evening, it had become very much overcast right a-head.  Sir
Oliver had in the forenoon, at Lanyard's and the youngster's own
request, spared him _Mister_ Peak, the midshipman already mentioned, a
very wicked little Irish rascal, but a nice boy notwithstanding.  He
now stood beside me on the felucca's deck.

"A very heavy bank that, sir, right a-head as we are steering," said
little Joey.

"Very," said I--"but I don't think there is any wind in it, Mr Peak."

Gradually the dark clouds rose up and up, until they reached the
zenith--we appeared to be entering into a gigantic black arch--under
whose dark shade the frigate, about a mile on our lee bow, had already
slid and become undistinguishable.

The breeze was now very light--sufficient to keep the sails sleeping,
and no more.  Dennis Donovan, who had that morning paid us a visit, to
try whether change of _discomforts_ might not benefit his health, and I
were standing together, leaning our arms on the drum of the capstan,
and looking out to windward, endeavouring to detect any indication in
the dark sky as to the sort of weather we might expect.  I was solacing
myself with my cheroot, and Donovan was chewing his cud--quid I
mean--when I thought I heard something in the air.  "Hush! do you hear
nothing?"  He suspended his mastication, and I took my cigar out of my
mouth, and listened all ear--Dennis all mouth--for I could see, dark as
it was, that he gaped, as if he expected to catch the sound by the tail
in his teeth.  "Again--there!"--a faint distant strain of solemn music
seemed now to float over head on the gentle night wind, in a low
melancholy liquid cadence--increasing like the swell of an Æolian harp,
and gradually dying away again, until nothing but the small rushing of
the felucca through the water was heard.  Startled as I was, still

  "It came o'er my soul, like the sweet south,
  Soft breathing o'er a bed of violets."


"Benjamin Brail!" quoth the Irishman.

"Dennis Donovan!" said I.

And there we stood staring at each other as if we had seen a ghost.

"Pray, Mr Peak," said old Dogvane, the quartermaster (in the small
vessel it was a difficult thing to avoid being an eavesdropper
sometimes), "what do you think of that?"

"Poo," rejoined little Peak, "the devil, I suppose, is busy aloft."

"_He_ don't often sing psalms on a Sunday evening, does he, Mr Peak?"
rejoined old Dogvane.

The midshipman laughed.

"Ay, you may laugh, Mr. Peak--you may laugh--but I don't like them kind
of sounds thereaway; and mark my words, Master Peak, we shall either
have a gale of wind within eight and forty hours"----

"Or _no_," rejoined Joey.

"I say, Donovan, that can't be the band on board the frigate?" said
Lanyard, who now joined us.  His senior laughed outright.
"Band--band--why, they might give you a regular _rumpti tumpti_,
Dick--but such a piece of sacred music as that was, is altogether out
of their line--besides, it was vocal, man--it was vocal."

The weather astern of us was as yet perfectly clear, but gradually the
thickest of the pitchy curtain _lifted_ from the horizon on our weather
beam, suddenly disclosing the cold, blue star-light sky--which,
gradually brightening, with a greenish radiance, gave token that the
moon was not far below the horizon, against which the tossings of the
dark waves were seen distinctly.

"Hillo!--who have we here?" said I, as the black sails and lofty spars
of a large vessel, diminished by distance into a child's toy, were hove
up out of the darkness into the clear, in strong relief against the
increasing light of the lovely background, rolling slowly on the bosom
of the dark swell, and then disappearing, as if she had slid down the
watery mountain into the abyss whereout she had emerged.  Presently the
object appeared again; and this time, by the aid of my glass, I made
out a stately vessel, gracefully rising and falling on the ever-heaving
waters.

Anon, the bright planet, the halo round whose forehead had already lit
up the clearing east, emerged, all pure and fresh, from the dark sea,
and floated on the horizon like a crystal globe, shedding a long stream
of trembling light on the sparkling and tumbling waves.  Mr Peak at
this instant called out from forward----

"The commodore is showing lights, sir."

"Very well--what are they?"

It was the night signal for a strange sail in the north-east.

"Answer it--but mind you keep the lanterns under the lee of the sail,
so that our friend to windward may not see them."

It was done--and I again looked in the direction where we had seen the
stranger, but she had suddenly become invisible--the dazzling of the
dancing moonbeams on the water preventing our seeing her.

"She must be right in the wake of the moon, sir," quoth Mr Marline; "I
cannot make her out now at all."

"Very well," said Lanyard again--"but the _shine_ that makes her
invisible to us will indicate our whereabouts surely enough to her, for
it is glancing directly on our white sails."

I had in my time learned a bucaniering trick or two.--"How thought you
she was standing when you saw her last--when you was busy with the
commodore's lights?" said I.

"Right down for us, sir."

"Then, Dick, my beauty, if you will take my advice, you will lower away
the yard, and haul down the jib."

The suggestion was taken, and we were soon rocking on the dark billows,
with our solitary mast naked as a blasted pine.

As I expected, to any one looking at us from windward, we must have
become invisible, against the heavy bank of black clouds down to
leeward; and, in corroboration of this, the strange vessel gradually
emerged from out the silvery dazzle, and glided majestically down the
glorious flow of bright moonlight, standing right for us, evidently
unaware of our vicinity.  She was not steered so steadily, but that I
could perceive she was a ship, sailing dead before it with all sail set
to woo the faint breeze; royals, sky-sails, and studding-sails aloft
and alow.  Presently it freshened a bit, and she took in her light and
steering-sails--she was now about two miles from us.

The sight was beautiful; and while some of the people were keeping a
bright look-out for the commodore down to leeward, the rest of the crew
were gazing out to windward at the approaching vessel.  I had at no
time from the first thought she was a man-of-war, her sails and yards
being by no means square enough; but if I had hesitated at all in the
matter, the slow and awkward way in which she shortened sail, must have
left no doubt of the fact on my mind.

"There--there again--what _can_ that be?" said I involuntarily.

"Hillo," sung out several of the crew forward, "hear you that,
messmate--hear you that?"

A low, still, most heavenly melody again floated down to us, but louder
than before, and died meltingly away as the breeze fell, until it once
more became inaudible.  Since we had discarded the frigate from our
thoughts, the ship to windward was now of course the only quarter from
whence the sounds could proceed.  I listened again--but all was
still--presently the dark outlines of the sails of the approaching
vessel became clearer.  There was now a long pause, and you might have
heard a pin drop on deck, when the solemn strain once more gushed forth
high into the pure heavens.  We all listened with the most intense
attention.  It was the hundredth Psalm--and I could now distinguish the
blending of male and female voices in the choir--presently the sound
sank again, and gradually died away altogether.

Corporal Lennox was standing near me, indeed so close, that I could not
help overhearing what passed between him and one of the quartermasters.

"I say, Peter," quoth the soldier, "did you ever read about the
Covenanters?"

"Anan?" _quod_ Peter.

"Have you never read about the Covenanters, my man?"

"Can't say as I have--what ship did they belong to? they must have been
brothers, I suppose--stop--eh!--let me think--why I did know _one_ of
that name in the water-guard at"----

"Oh man, Peter, you are an unenlightened creature--amaist as much so as
the brutes that perish--I hope there may not be much expected o' ye at
the great muster, Peter, when the archangel shall be boatswain's mate,
and all hands shall be piped to answer for their deeds done in the
body--yea, when the grey moss-grown grave-stone shall no longer shield
the sinner from the glance of the Almighty--I hae a regard for ye
though, notwithstanding--but ye'll forgive me if I say yeer but a puir
brute at the best, Peter."

"Why, Master Lennox," retorted Peter, "I have borne more from you, my
fine fellow, than I thought I could have done from ere a messmate I
have ever had, for you have done me more than one sarvice--but"----

"_Service_, man--wi' yeer _sarvice!_ will ye neer gie ower miscaaing
his Majestie's English?  But weel a weel, and it may not be the last I
will render ye, so nae mair about it, man; I meant nae offence,--and to
say sooth, my mind was away among the hill-folk, the puir persecuted
remnant whereof my great-grandfather was an unworthy member; and mony a
weary nicht did he skirl up the Psalms on the wet hillside, before he
was exalted, with the cauld spongy fog[1] for a mattrass, and a damp
rash bush for a pillow."


[1] Moss.


"Ho, ho!" chuckled Peter at this; "you are always gammoning about old
stories, and book-larning; but I have you now, Master Lennox;--your
great-grandfather was _exalted_, was he?--that is hanged, I suppose?"

I was a good deal tickled at this, and listened, in spite of myself, to
hear how my Scotch friend would brook this insinuation.

Lennox replied, quite calmly--"He _was_ hanged."

"Ha! ha!  I have you on the hip now, my master," shouted Peter.

"Indeed, man, you are a coorse-minded animal," responded the corporal.
"I spoke in yae sense metaphorically, and alluded to his reward in
Heaven--where I have nae doubt he went--but leeterally, I will no deny,
in another; for he was in verity hanged by that villain Lauderdale in
the Lawnmarket, and sang this very hundredth Psalm, that you have heard
raised on board that vessel, at the"----

"What, the whole of it?" interrupted honest Peter.

"Ay, the whole of it, from stem to stern, on the scaffold."

Here poor Lennox's voice fell a little, so that honest Peter, thinking
that the disclosure of his great-grandfather's _exaltation_, which, in
his innocence, he considered he had cleverly wrung from him, was giving
him pain, sung out, in what was meant for a consolatory tone--"Never
mind, Lennox, man--don't mind; better men have been hanged than your
grandfather;--but what was it for, man?"--his curiosity combating with
his kindly feelings--"I dare say something the poor fellow had done in
his drink; some unfortunate blow or thrust that rid the world of a
vagabond; or a little bit of forgetfulness in signing another man's
name for his own, eh?"

"Why, freend Peter," chimed in Lennox, "since ye crack sae croose--wha
may _yeer_ great-grandfather hae been?--tell me that."

Peter was rather caught.  He twisted himself about.  "My father I
know--I am sure I had a father,--and a grandfather too, I suppose; but
as to a great-grandfather"----

"I say, Peter, my man, 'never cudgel yeer brains about it,' as
Shakspeare hath it; and never again disparage a man wha can
authentically show that he had a great-grandfather, even although he
had the misfortune to be hanged, until ye can honestly tell whether ye
ever had a grandfather or no _at all_.  But _none_ of these brought him
to his end, noo since ye _maun ken_."

"Well, well, I hope it was not for stealing," said honest Peter,
bearing no malice; "that's a low vice, you knows, Lennox."

"It was not," said the corporal, energetically--"No, it was because he
worshipped God according to his conscience, and refused to bow down
before"----

"The strange sail is keeping away, sir, and will go a-head of us, if we
don't bear up," sung out Mr Marline from forward.

She was now within a mile of us, or less, rolling heavily on the long
black swell.  It was once more almost calm.

"Hoist away the sail again," said Lanyard, "and let us overhaul her."

As the white canvass spread out high into the night air, on the long
elastic yard, the clear moon shone brightly on it.  We became instantly
visible to those in the ship; for we could see there was a bustle on
board, and heard the sound of pulling and hauling, and the rattling of
the cordage: the blocks and gear squeaking, and the yards cheeping
against the masts, as they were being braced round.  They were making
more sail, as if desirous of eschewing our company.  We stood on, and
presently fired a gun across her bows, as a hint to heave-to; but, in
place of its being taken, it was promptly returned; the shot whistling
over our masthead.

"Hey-day, Mr Wadding, you had better open the magazine, if this is to
be the way of it," said Mr Lanyard; "and beat to quarters, Mr Marline,
if you please."

"Surely a craft manned by parsons, or singing men and women, don't mean
to fight?" said little Joe Peak to Mr Marline.

"Hush, Joe, will ye," quoth his senior; "don't you see the captain is
on deck?  But, _entre nous_, my lad, if this Psalm-singing don't stir
up a gale of wind by four-and-twenty hours from this, I shall be
exceedingly surprised."

"Poo, poo; you have been taking a leaf out of Dogvane's book," quoth
Joey.

All seamen, it is well known, have a great repugnance to sail with a
parson on board--that is, if he be a tortoise, or stray land parson.
As for the regular chaplain--Lord love you, he is altogether another
kind of affair--being his Majesty's officer in one sense.

When we had again made sail, our friend Peter set to Lennox once
more--"You are above them things, I knows, Lennox; but I thinks along
with Mr Peak there, that these Psalm-singing folks will bring us bad
weather, as sure as a gun."

"Hoot, nonsense, mony a skart has skirled, and naething followed.
Peter, ye're a superstitious fule; now, why should a clergyman being on
board prove a bad omen?  Why should a storm arise because a priest is
part of the cargo?"

"Oh!" persisted Peter, "it depends on the kind of _character_ he may
have.  If he is no better than he should be, why I don't care if we
shipped a dozen on 'em, but a real vartuous clergyman is a very
dangerous subject to the barky and all on board, take Peter Quid's word
for it."

"Ay, indeed?" said Lennox--"and the greater rogue the greater
safety--the more excellent his character the greater danger?"

"Just so," quoth Callaghan, the Irishman whose tobacco had so plagued
him when he was wounded; and who now came on deck with his head tied
up, to see the fun, and lest he "should miss any fighting," as he said;
"and I'll give you a sufficing rason why it should be so.  You sees,
ould Davie, I don't mean Mr Sprawl, is always on the look-out for
betterer sowls, as it were--why, he cares no more than a frosted potato
for such poor devils--such sure bargains as Jack Lennox and me, now"----

"Speak for yourself, friend Callaghan," rejoined the corporal.

"And so I do, to be sure; and you being a friend, I am willing to spake
for ye too, ye spalpeen; so be asy--as I was saying, he can have
bushelsful such as we, whenever he chooses, as regular as we gets our
own grog and grub.  We are his every-day meals;--but when he can catch
a parson--ah--he puts himself to some trouble to catch a parson; and
so, you see, if you have not a regular snifter before to-morrow night,
may I,"----

"Silence there," sung out Lanyard, not quite satisfied apparently with
having so long played the eavesdropper.  "Silence, and go to stations,
will ye?"

Every thing again relapsed into its former calm; the vessel approached;
and to prevent her crossing our forefoot, as she came down within
pistol shot, we edged away, and finally bore up almost alongside of her.

"Ho--the ship, a-hoy!"

"Hillo!"

"What ship is that?"

This was answered Scotch fashion--"What felucca is that?"

Lanyard did not choose to stand on ceremony, so to save bother, he
replied, "The tender to his Britannic Majesty's ship Gazelle.  So
heave-to, and I will send a boat on board of you."

The strange sail, however, kept all fast, and stood steadily on his
course.

"If you don't shorten sail, and round-to, I will fire into you?"

Another long pause.--Dick's patience was fast evaporating; and, "All
ready with the gun, there?" was already on his tongue, when the
stranger again hailed.

"What ship is that down to leeward, there?"

"The Gazelle," was the answer.

The skipper now saw that, whether we were honest or not, he had no
chance of escape, especially as he perceived that the Midge sailed
nearly two feet for his one; so he immediately shortened sail and
hove-to, and the next minute saw Señor Ricardo and my beautiful self,
all by way of a lark, alongside.  When we got on deck, we found the
ship in a regular bustle--three carronades had been cast loose, round
which the scanty crew, mustering some thirty hands, were clustered; but
oh, the labyrinth of slack ropes, and the confusion altogether, and the
ill-trimmed sails, and the danger to the shins from misplaced wadding
tubs, stray spunges and rammers; not to forget the vagaries of three or
four twelve-pound shot, that had fetched way, and were pursuing their
devious courses at every roll, across and athwart, forward and back
again.

Two stout-looking young fellows, with drawn cutlasses, had stationed
themselves at each side of the gangway as we entered.

"Why didn't you heave-to, sir, at once?"

"Because, sir," said the master of the vessel, whom Lanyard had
addressed, "I had serious suspicions as to who or what you were.  I now
see I was mistaken; and a sure proof that I was so, you appear not to
have taken offence at my incredulity, in the first instance."

"Well--well," said the lieutenant, "what ship is this?"

"The Hermes, bound for the Cape of Good Hope, with an assorted cargo.
Will you please step below, and look at my papers, sir?"

We descended, and on finding myself in the cabin, I was somewhat
startled to perceive that the two men who had done us the honour to
receive us with naked weapons at the side, had followed us below.  The
eldest and tallest of the two was about thirty, as near as I could
judge; a dark, sunburned, very powerful man, with a determined, but not
unpleasing expression.  The other was nearly as tall, but slighter, and
of a very pale complexion.  Both were dressed in white trowsers and
check shirts, without any other garment whatever.  Who they were I
could not divine.  They were not seamen, I at once made out.

"Oh, passengers, I suppose."

I was much struck with the very handsome figure of the master of the
vessel, who sat down directly opposite me.

There was a lamp burning brightly overhead, that hung down between us
over the table, which cast a strong light on his face and figure.

He might have been fifty years of age; very bald, but what little hair
he had, curled short and crisp over his ears, as black as jet, as were
his eyebrows and whiskers, without the blemish of one single grey hair.
He was dressed in white trowsers, a check shirt, and blue jacket.  His
features were remarkably fine; teeth good; eyes dark and sparkling; and
a forehead high and broad.

The cabin appeared to be exceedingly comfortably, without being gaudily
furnished; and there were several shawls, and sundry miscellaneous
gloves and bonnets lying about the lockers, indicating that there must
be lady passengers on board.

We found all the papers right, so far as the cargo went, and then
glanced at the list of the passengers.  There was the Reverend William
This, and the Reverend James That, and the Reverend Thomas
Such-a-Thing; and Mrs So-and-so, and Mrs Thingamy.

"I see you are busy with the list of my passengers;--but won't you take
a little wine and water, sir?"

I bowed, and the steward immediately placed wine and glasses, and some
biscuit, on the table.

"They are missionaries, sir, for the back settlements at the Cape.
Moravians, I believe, you call the sect they belong to; but I care
little for the denomination which their peculiar tenets have acquired
for them, so long as I can say this, that a more amiable set of people
I never have come across, sir; and, man and boy, I have been to sea in
passenger-carrying merchant craft for six-and-thirty years."

The lieutenant now, at his request, gave the correct latitude; when,
finding himself farther to the eastward than he expected, he asked
leave to keep company with us for a couple of days, as a protection
against the visits of the contraband traders.  Having got the course we
were steering, which, he said, would suit, although a little too
westerly for him, we rose to depart, and wished the skipper good-night.

"It is dead calm now, sir," said he; "possibly you will do me the
favour to allow me to introduce you to my _family_, as I call my
Moravian friends.  They are all at tea, I believe, in the round-house,
on deck."

As I stepped off the ladder, I saw that he was right, that it was, in
fact, quite calm; and there was the little Midge, close to, with her
long taper yard wallopping about, and the sail giving a floundering
flap every now and then, as she rolled about on the heave of the sea.

"Mr Marline" (we were so near that there was no use for a
speaking-trumpet), "keep close to, if you please--I will be on board
presently."

"Ay, ay, sir."

Lanyard then turned to mine host, and followed him towards the
round-house, which was built on deck, with a gangway all round it,
along which the tiller ropes led; the wheel being situated under the
small projecting canopy facing the quarterdeck.

All had been dark when we came on deck--the only light being the one in
the binnacle, but now the round-house was very handsomely lit up by two
lamps hung from the roof, which shone brilliantly through the open door
and the two windows that looked towards the quarterdeck.  The wheel,
with the sailor who was steering standing by it, was right in the wake
of the stream of light from the door.  It was striking to see his
athletic figure, leaning on the rim of the wheel, his right hand
grasping one of the lower spokes, while the left clutched the
uppermost, on which his cheek rested; the jerk of the rudder in the
calm twitching his head first on this side, then on t'other.

But the scene within--I shall never forget it.  The round-house was a
room, as near as might be, sixteen feet long, and about fourteen feet
broad at the end next the quarterdeck, narrowing to ten feet wide at
the aftermost part.  On each side there were two sofas, and between
each of the sofas two doors, that appeared to open into
state-rooms;--two shorter sofas ran across the afterpart, fronting you
as you entered; and placed between these two aftermost sofas, there was
a neat brass cabin grate, now tastefully filled with a bouquet of
artificial flowers.  In the centre of the cabin there was a long table,
on which stood a tea equipage, the grateful vapour whirling up from a
massive tea-pot.

A venerable-looking old man, dressed in a large grey frieze night-gown,
with a large velvet cap on his head, from beneath which long white
locks escaped and spread over his shoulders, sat directly fronting the
door on one of the sofas that ran athwart ships.

He had been reading apparently in a large Bible, that now lay closed
before him, with one of his elbows resting on it, and on which his
spectacles lay.  I had never seen a more benign eye, and his serene
high features, whose healthy hue betokened a green old age, were lit up
into the most bland and beneficent expression, as with lips apart,
disclosing a regular set of teeth, he smiled on a darling little
half-naked cherub of a child about two years and a half old, that sat
on the table beside him, playing with his white hairs.

He was a lovely little chubby fellow; a most beautiful fair-skinned and
fair-haired boy, with no clothing on but a short cambric shift, bound
at the waist with a small pink silk handkerchief.  His round fat little
arms, and little stumpy legs, were entirely naked; even shoes he had
none, and in his tumblifications he seemed utterly to have forgotten
that he had no drawers on.  But the glorious little fellow's head!--his
glossy short curling fair hair, that frizzled out all round his head as
if it had been a golden halo floating over his sunny features--his
noble, wide spreading forehead--his dark blue laughing eyes--his red
ripe cheeks, and beautiful mouth, with the glancing ivory within!--Oh,
I should weary all hands were I to dilate on the darling little
fellow's appearance; for, next to a horse or a Newfoundland dog, I dote
on a beautiful child.  "Shall I ever have such a magnificent little
chap?" burst from my lips against my will.  "I hope you may, sir," said
a calm, low-pitched female voice, close to me.

The soft musical sounds startled me more, under the circumstances, than
a trumpet note would have done.  I turned to the quarter from whence
they proceeded, and saw two young women seated on one of the sofas at
the side.  The eldest might have been about five-and-twenty; she was
very fair--I ought rather to write pale, all mouth and eyes as it
were--I mean no disparagement, because the features were good, but only
to convey the impression of them on my mind at the time.  Her skin
seemed so transparent, that the blue veins were traceable in all
directions over her bosom and neck and forehead; while her nose was a
little--not red--but _fresh_ looking, as if she had been weeping, which
she had not been.  A fine mouth, forehead, and strong well-defined dark
eyebrows, over-arching such eyes!--black, jet black, and flashing
through their long dark fringes.

Oh, what a redeeming virtue there is in a large swimming dark
eye--black, if you please, for _choice_--hazle, if black cannot be had,
for _effect_; but for _love!_ heavens, and all the heathen gods and
goddesses, give me the deep deep ethereal blue--such blue, so darkly
pure, as you might cut out of the noon-day sky within the tropics,
about a pistol-shot from the gaudy sun, which must be at the moment
eclipsed by a stray cloud, had up from the depths of old ocean
expressly for the nonce.  One can look into the very soul of _such_ a
woman with _such_ an eye;--ay, and tell whether or no your own
beautiful miniature be painted on the retina of her heart--that's a
bull, I conceive, but my mother's Kilkenny blood will peep forth in
despite, now and then; but your dark fine-flashing black sparklers--oh,
_Diable!_ they look into _you_, my fine fellow, instead of your spying
into _them_, which is sometimes mighty _inconvenient_; and then the
humbug of the "eye of the gazelle!"  His lordship's gazelle blinker, so
soft and yielding, and all the rest of it!--poo, I would rather that my
wife, Mrs Benjie Brail, _when I get her_, had a glass eye; a regular
pair of prisms from old Dolland's in St Paul's Churchyard, than the
gazelle eye of his lordship's favourites--such an eye would not long
have _glowered_ out of the head of an honest woman, take my word for it.

Where have I got to? where the deuce left I off?  Oh--the beautiful
eyes of the fair person, whose sweet voice had startled me.  Her hair,
dark and shining, was shaded off her forehead Madona-like; and she wore
a most becoming, but very plain white muslin cap, with two little lace
straps, that hung down loose on each side of her face, like the scale
defences attached to the helmets of the French _grenadiers à cheval_.
Heaven help me with my similes, a beautiful demure woman, and a horse
grenadier!  She was dressed in a plain black silk gown, over which she
wore a neatly embroidered white apron; but from the ostentatious
puffing out of the white cambric handkerchief that she held in her fair
clasped hands, with their blue meandering veins, I perceived, if she
were the mother of the beautiful boy--and here the murder of my
description is out at last--that a second edition of him was printed
off, and nearly ready for publication.

But the figure that sat next her instantly riveted my attention.  She
was a tall sylph-like girl of nineteen or thereabouts, with laughing
features, not so perfect as the elder female's, to whom she bore a
striking resemblance, and long flowing ringlets, that wandered all over
her snow-white neck and bosom, disdaining even the control of a ribbon
or band of any kind.  She was dressed in some grey homespun looking
stuff, but neither of the ladies wore any, the smallest ornament
whatever.

"Is that your child, madam?" said I, to the eldest female.  It was--and
the patriarchal old man, with true natural good breeding, at once broke
the ice.

"The eldest of these ladies, sir, is my daughter--the youngest is my
niece and daughter-in-law."

I made my respective bows.

"This gentleman is my son-in-law and nephew, and this is my son."

He here turned to the two young men, who were by this time rigged in
the same kind of coarse woollen frocks that their _ancient_ wore--they
had followed us into the round-house, but quiet and sober as they now
seemed, I could not dismiss from my recollection the demonstration they
had made when we first came on board.  _Then_ they seemed pugnacious
enough, and by no means such men as would, when smitten on one cheek,
have calmly turned the other to the smiter.  They appeared sensible,
strong-minded persons from their conversation; not very polished, but
apparently very sincere.  Dick and the skipper being by this time knee
deep in nauticals, the old man addressed me.

"You see, sir, since it has pleased the Almighty that we should be
outcasts from the homes of our fathers, still, like the patriarchs of
old, we have not gone solitarily forth.  But tea is ready, I see; will
you be seated, sir?  Captain Purves, can you prevail on him to be
seated?"

The meal went on pretty much as usual--the contrast to me, between my
present position and late mode of life, was very great.  To find myself
thus unexpectedly in a family circle, after more than six months of
continual turmoil and excitement, bewildered me, and at the same time
softened my heart; and the ancient feelings of my boyhood--the thousand
old kindly reminiscences of my own house and home began to bud like
flowers in a hot-bed.  When I looked on the calm contented virtuous
group around me, and reflected that one short half hour was to separate
us for ever, I could have wept--a womanly melting of the heart came
over me, so that I could scarcely speak.

"Will you go with us, sir?"--said at length the beautiful boy,
gradually edging across the table, until the darling little fellow slid
into my lap with his little plump legs.

"No, my dear boy, I cannot go with you--but heaven bless you, my
beautiful child--bless you,"--and I kissed his little downy peach-like
cheek.

"You are very sorry to leave me," said the urchin.

"Why, my little man," while an indescribable feeling crept over me,
"how do you think so?"

"Because I see one big tear in your eye--ah, dere--him pop down, like
hot water, on my hand--oh! you must either have been bad boy dis
morning, or you are crying because you are going to leave me."

I blushed to the eyes at this womanish weakness having been detected by
the little innocent.

The calm still continued, but time wore on--and anxious to get back
again, we rose--"A pleasant voyage to you, captain."

"Thank you, sir."

I looked at the old man who sat opposite--"I also wish you and yours a
good voyage, sir,"--and I held out my hand--he shook it cordially.

"May God bless you, sir,"--and then turning to the lieutenant--"I
respect your service, sir, but I have seen some roughness among young
officers too, when the ships in which I have sailed, in my several
voyages, have been boarded by men-of-war's boats; therefore your
gentleness has been more grateful."

Don Ricardo bowed.

Willing to protract the pleasure of being in such society as long as I
decently could, I remained standing.

"The night is calm," continued the old man, "and Captain Purves says
your vessel is close to us; will you not sit down, and give us the
pleasure of your company a little longer?  We are so recently from
England, that we may be able to give you some news that may be
gratifying."  We did so, and the captain ordered wine and water in.  By
this time the little boy, who had been playing with the handle of my
sword, for I must needs be rigged boarder-fashion, and looking up and
prattling in my face, fell fast asleep on my knee, when his mother
placed him on the sofa.  The conversation went round, the young men
opened, and soon convinced me that they were exceedingly well-informed,
and quite up with the enlightenment of the age; while both the ladies
in their calm quiet way, especially the young matronly female, evinced
a fixedness of purpose, and a determination to persevere in their
desolate pilgrimage, with a perfect knowledge of its
privations--indeed, I may write dangers, that I could not have believed
possible in tender women.  I have seldom spent a couple of hours more
pleasantly; the conversation turning chiefly on recent occurrences in
England.  At length, the old man said--"You have been already informed
by the captain, that we are missionaries bound for the Cape.  My
son-in-law and my daughter have been backwards and forwards twice, and
know from personal experience the extent of the sacrifice they make in
devoting themselves to the good work.  My son there, and my niece, to
whom he has lately been married, have never been to the station before,
but they are fully aware of all that they may be called on to
suffer--as for me, I am now going back to my tent in the wilderness--to
utter banishment from all the elegances and comforts of civilized life,
and with small prospect of ever revisiting the land of my fathers
again.  But I shall be buried beside my wife, under the same
orange-tree, where she rests from her labours, after having been my
helpmate, and, under God, my greatest earthly comfort, during my
ministry amongst the heathen, for fifteen long years.  Yes, heaven
knows, my cup of sorrow, when she fell asleep, was full to
overflowing--for upwards of six months all was quiet in the
settlement--upwards of fifty families had domiciled themselves within
our enclosure; and having mastered the native dialects, we had great
hopes of making rapid progress, in not only enlightening the poor
creatures by whom we were surrounded as to the things concerning their
everlasting welfare, but in inducing them to adopt many of our
civilized customs: for the care they had seen us bestow on the
cultivation of the soil, and the success that had crowned our labours,
seemed to have made a deep impression.  I had left every thing quiet
and peaceable, one afternoon, to look at some springes that I had set
for wildfowl, when I was alarmed by a loud shouting in the direction of
the station.  I ran back, and found the very savages, who had, as we
thought, become attached to us, and had dwelt for so long amongst us,
in the act of rifling our barn, and carrying off the grain.  My nephew
and three other young missionaries were doing all they could to prevent
it.  On being joined by me, we were compelled to have recourse to our
fire-arms, and eventually, after wounding one or two of our deluded
assailants, succeeded in clearing the enclosure of them.  But my poor
wife's nerves--she had been ailing for many months--had received so
severe a shock, that she never held her head up afterwards--she died
within the week."

"And after all that you have suffered--do you still persist in
returning?" said I.  "What a sacrifice!  I can scarcely conceive any
case where so great a one is called for."

He cut me short--

"Young man--notwithstanding all I have told you, which yet falls short
of the reality, I go on my way rejoicing--I may be _called_ an
enthusiast, and I may _be_ an enthusiast, but I have made my election;
and although I am but as the voice of one crying in the
wilderness--although as yet our ministry amongst the poor benighted
beings amongst whom our lot is cast, has been but as water spilt upon
the barren sand, still, with the entire consciousness of the value of
what I forego, I cheerfully sacrifice all the usual objects of man's
ambition, and obey what I know to be the call of the Almighty, for it
is borne in on my heart, and go forth, me and mine, come what may, to
preach glad tidings of great joy to those who dwell in darkness; in the
perfect conviction that, if we miss our reward here, we shall assuredly
find it hereafter."

I know that missionaries of all classes have had their sincerity called
in question, and there may be hypocrites amongst them as well as other
men; but I would ask this simple question--what stronger attestation,
speaking of them in the general, can they give to the purity of their
intentions, than by thus devoting themselves, mind, body, and estate,
to the service of their Great Master, in the fearless way in which they
do?  No man is a stauncher friend to the Church, as by law established,
than I am, nor has a more thorough detestation of cant, in all its
shades and stages, than I have; and I remember gloating over some
savage articles in the Edinburgh Review, in its palmy days, when that
needle of a body, wee Jeffrey, was at his best, wherein a cargo of poor
missionaries were scarified most awfully; but experience and years have
brought thought and reflection with them, as they often do to ancient
maidens, who at forty, loup like a cock at a grosart (another bull) at
the _homo_ they turned up their lovely noses at at twenty; and before I
would now hold these self-devoted men in contempt, or disparage their
zeal, or brand them as illiterate hypocrites, I shall wait until I see
the wealthier, and more learned of our divines, gird themselves for
their forty years' pilgrimage in the wilderness, with equal calmness
and Christian courage, and go up in the glorious panoply of the apostle
which is so often in their mouths, amidst their silken pulpit cushions,
to grapple with the fierce passions and prejudices of the naked savage,
and encounter the numberless perils of the desert, with the resolution
and single-mindedness of these despised Moravians.  As to
hypocrisy--all hypocrites aim at the attainment of some worldly
advantage, because they know they cannot deceive God; but I would ask
their fiercest defamers, what temporal blessing blossoms around their
dry and sandy path, or within the whole scope of their dreary horizon,
that they could not have compassed in tenfold exuberance at home, even
as respectable trades-people?  And as to their being enthusiasts, that
is easily settled; no man can thrust himself permanently forth from the
surface of society, for good or for evil, without being an enthusiast
of some kind or another--at least this is the creed of Benjie Brail.

"Madam," said I to the youngest female, "you have never been to those
countries--to the station, as your father calls it?  I know _you_ have
never yet been exposed to its privations?"  I noticed her husband
smile, and nod to her, as much as to say, "Tell him."

"No," said she--"it cannot, however, be worse than I have painted it to
myself, from _his_ description"--looking across at the old gentleman
with an affectionate smile--"But I hope I shall be strengthened, as my
cousin has been, to endure my privations, and whatever may befall, as
becomes a Christian, and the wife of a sincere one."

I was told by the captain, that the greater part of his cargo consisted
of implements of husbandry; and that to their heavenly calling they had
added that of a competent knowledge of all the useful arts of
agriculture; so that, wherever such a virtuous family was planted, the
savages who surrounded them would not only have their mental darkness
dispelled, but their temporal condition improved, and their wants more
amply supplied.  We had now no farther apology for remaining.  I rose;
the clash of my cutlass against the chair awoke the sleeping child.  He
opened his blue eyes where he lay on the sofa, and looked up; presently
he stretched forth his little hands towards me--I stooped down over the
blessed infant, and kissed his forehead.

"Good-night," he said, "good-night, and be good boy like me."--A tear
stood in my eye, for the soul of me, I could not have helped it.

I again shook hands with the old man.  And as I was turning to take my
leave of the other members of this most interesting family, he placed
his hands on my head.

"Young man, we thank you for your visit, and your urbanity--our meeting
has been like an oasis in the desert, like a green spot in a dry
parched land--and we shall pray for thee to Him 'whose way is in the
sea, and whose path is in the waters, and whose footsteps are not
known.'"

I had no heart to speak--so after a long pause--

"My sons," said the patriarch, "we are about concluding our Sunday
evening's service--stay a few minutes longer."  Seeing I hesitated, and
looked towards Lanyard, he addressed himself to him.--"It is no great
boon to concede this to us, whom in all human probability you shall
never meet again."

We bowed, and immediately the whole party stepped forth into the air,
and formed a circle on the quarterdeck round the capstan.  Every thing
was silent--presently the old man said a low murmuring prayer of
thanksgiving--there was another solemn pause--when all at once they
chanted the following magnificent lines of the cvii. Psalm, so
beautifully fitted to our situation:--

  "They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in
      great waters;
  "These see the works of the Lord, and his wonders in the deep.
  "For he commandeth, and raiseth the stormy wind, which lifteth
      up the waves thereof.
  "They mount up to the heaven, they go down again to the
      depths: their soul is melted because of trouble.
  "They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, and
      are at their wit's end.
  "Then they cry unto the Lord in their trouble, and he bringeth
      them out of their distresses.
  "He maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still.
  "Then are they glad because they be quiet; so he bringeth
      them unto their desired haven.
  "Oh that men would praise the Lord for his goodness."


I once more wished them a good voyage.  Lanyard was by this seated in
the boat, and stepping to the gangway, I turned in act to descend the
ship's side, with a hold of the manrope in one hand.  I found the whole
group had followed me, and stood round in a semicircle; even my
glorious little fellow was there, sound asleep in his mother's arms;
and as the lantern cast its dim light on their mild countenances, and
lit up their figures, and the clear pale moon shed a flood of silver
light over all, I descended into the boat, and standing up in the stern
sheets, again wished them a prosperous voyage.  We now shoved off, as
for myself, with a softened heart, and fitter to have died, I hope,
than I was when the sun set.

Presently the lights on board were extinguished, and I could no longer
see the figures of my friends; but still the low murmur of their voices
was borne towards me on the gentle breeze, until a loud "yo, heave oh,"
echoed amongst the sails, and drowned them; while a rattling and
cheeping of the gear, and the hollow thumping of the men's feet on the
deck, and the groaning of the mainyard against the mast, as it was
being braced round, indicated that the tall ship had once more bore up
on her moonlight course.

      *      *      *      *      *

I was once more on board of the Midge.

"Ha, ha, Master Benjamin Brail, who would have thought there was so
much sentimentality in your composition," said I to myself; that is,
said _every-day Benjie_ to the ethereal, weeping and wailing, and very
nonsensical Benjamin as aforesaid.  "My eye, had old Bloody Politeful
seen me doing the agreeable and pathetic, amongst a covey of male and
female methodist clergymen and clergywomen; but _n'importe_, Dick is a
quiet going fellow and won't peach, so keep your own counsel, my lad."

"I say, steward,"--quoth Lanyard, this was Lennox's first night of
holding office,--the other functionary _pro tem._ having subsided into
his real character of landsman--"light the lamp in the cabin, do you
hear? and bring me a glass of grog.  Where is Mr Donovan?"

"Below, and asleep in bed, sir."

"Very well.  Mr Marline, make sail, and run down to the commodore, and
keep close in his wake, if you please."

"Ay, ay, sir."

We descended.

"Fetch the salt beef also, Lennox."

It was done.  Were I a king, and fool enough to patronise suppers on
_shore_--at sea, it is altogether "_une autre chose_"--my sole food at
that meal would be a piece of capital virgin mess beef, that had been
boiled the day before, but never a knife stuck into it until served up,
with a coarse, crisp, brown biscuit, and a glass of cold grog after
it--ay, you may turn up your nose at this, my fine fellow, but better
men than you have agreed with me.

"That is very well mixed, steward, very cool," said I swigging off horn
No. I.  "By the way, Lennox, have you got the new philtre, the
Barbadoes dripstone, at work?"

"Yes, sir."

"Ah, I thought so; was that the water you made that glass of grog
with?"  Sinner that I was, I knew as well as he that it was not.

"No, sir, we have not used the water yet."

I was sawing away, and munching the beef and biscuit aforesaid, all
this while, most resolutely.  "No!" said I; "should like to try the
water; make me the smallest taste of grog in the world with it, the
least drop--very pure and cool--capital water, I declare--rather too
strong, Lennox, fill up the tumbler if you please; so--ah--too much
man--it is if any thing too weak _now_;" here a little dash of
spirits--"so"--and chuckling to myself that I had thus smuggled a
second glass of grog in defiance of conscience, I desired the man to
make down my bed, and prepared to turn in.  El Señor Teniente had also
been making very good use of his time, and chuckling to himself at my
colloquy with the marine.  "And here, Lennox, tell Mr Marline to call
me if the wind changes, or any thing occurs worth reporting; and take
the skylight off if you please."  I now began to undress, and Lennox
had returned to help me.  The cool water had a surprising effect; my
spirits suddenly became buoyant beyond all belief; so, after various
_churmings_, I broke forth into involuntary song, as the poets say--

  "'Estoy un hombre chico,
  Mas contento soy que rico,
  Y mi buque es un zapato.'

"My slippers--thank you--oh what a lovely boy--

  'Con mono para patron'--

nightcap--what a glorious little man it was--

  'El piloto es uno gato;
  Y su rabo es el timon.'

  'Estoy un hombre chico,
  Mas contento soy que rico,
  Tol de rol, lol di rol.'"


Little Benjamin, having by this manoeuvre gotten half-_fou_, vanisheth
into his _cavey_.

Here Dennis Donovan stuck his head out of a side-berth.  "Why,
Lanyard--Lanyard, I say."--Dick was already in his berth, and sound
asleep.  "That fellow, now, tumbles into his sleep like a pig into the
mire--all of a heap--Lennox."

"Here, sir."

"What howling is that--Whose pig's dead, Lennox?"

"It's Mr Brail singing, sir."

"Singing!--singing!--and is it _singing_ he calls it?"



CHAPTER IX.

FOUNDERING OF THE HERMES.

I was dreaming of the party I had so recently left, and again I was
confabulating with the mild placid women, and the fair child was also
there.  Oh, who can appreciate the delights of female society like the
poor devil who has been condemned, month after month, to the gruff
society of great _he_ men on shipboard, and whose horizon has during
all that time been the distant meeting of sea and sky!  "Hillo, Brail,
my boy--Brail."

"What is that--who the deuce hails so uproariously?" quoth I, more than
half asleep; "why, what is the matter?"

"Oh, not a great deal," rejoined Donovan, from his berth at the
opposite side of the small cabin; "only you snore so confoundedly loud
that I could get no sleep for your trumpetings, Benjie; and as you
spoiled my rest very sufficiently last night, I thought I would take
the liberty of paying you off in the morning.  But, Benjie, heard you
ever any thing like that?"

"Like what?" said I.

"Why, like the noise of the rain on deck, just now."

I listened, and perceived a low rushing noise, that gradually
increased, until the sound appeared to be produced by a cataract of
peas pouring down on the deck above.

"There's a shower for you, Master Brail--when heard you such another?"

"Seldom, I confess--seldom--but why _have_ you startled me in this way,
Donovan?--if it should rain pike-staves and old women--I cannot help
it."--_Snore_.

No rest for the wicked, however, for Lanyard now awoke, and began to
don his garments as fast as he could.  During which operation, he
stumbled violently against my berth, which fairly wakened me.  "Why,
Dick, where away in such a hurry this fine morning?"

"On deck, my lad--on deck,--but how it does tumble down, to be sure!"

"On deck?--Don't, Dick, do that thing now--don't--what if the lightning
should mistake you for a rusty conductor, man?"

He laughed as he vanished up the ladder, and once more I was falling
over, when I was most effectually roused by my troublesome chum, Master
Dennis Donovan, whose voice could scarcely be heard through the rushing
of another heavy shower on the hollow deck overhead.  But this time he
was addressing some one on deck, and from where I lay I could see up
the companion ladder.

"I say, Mr Peak" (the little midshipman), "Mr Peak, how does the
weather look?"

It was some time before Joey heard him, from the noise of the rain; at
length, he knelt down, and inclined his ear on the head of the small
ladder, swathed in a large boat-cloak, with the water running off the
snout of his cap in a small spout.

"Any one speaking below in the cabin there?" quoth Joey.

"Yes," said I; "what does the weather look like?"

"Very black, sir, all round, but no wind as yet--it rains a little now
and then, sir."

"Rains a _little_ now and then--Oh Lord!" ejaculated Donovan; "where is
the commodore?"

"About a mile on the starboard bow."

"And the ship?"

"Close to, astern of us, sir."

"The swell seems heavy," continued I.

"Very, sir--it has been increasing during the whole of the watch; the
ship you boarded yesterday evening is rolling awfully heavy."

Here some one from aft called to little Peak, but I could not make out
what the voice said--"How do you think so?" answered the midshipman.
The man said something in reply, but still I could not distinguish the
words.

"I fear," said Joey now, "the merchantman has sprung something aloft,
sir--there is a great bustle on board of her--there, there, her
fore-topgallant-mast is gone."

Anxious to see what had befallen the ark of my interesting friends, I
rose and dressed as fast as I could, and was in the act of going on
deck, when another tremendous thunder plump came down with even greater
fury than before.  I waited until it was over, and by this time the day
began to break.  When I got on deck the sky was very lowering, and the
sea as black as pitch; and although the increasing light proved that
the sun was not far below the horizon, yet there was not the smallest
clear streak in the east to be seen.  The whole vault of heaven was
ink-black, and I was startled by the clearness with which the
undulations of the rapidly increasing swell, and the hulls and rigging
of the two ships, could be seen.  The frigate had her three topsails,
foresail, and jib set, and rolled so heavily that she appeared to be
dipping her yard arms alternately in the water.  She had sent down
topgallant yards and royal masts, and I could see through the glass the
people busy in lowering the studding-sails out of the tops, so for her
I had no fear; but the merchantman astern had either been caught by the
suddenness with which the sea had risen, or the scantiness of her crew
had prevented her taking the precautions rendered necessary by the
threatening appearance of the weather, in proper time; for her main and
mizen royal masts were still up, her topgallant sails still set; and
altogether, from the evident confusion on board, now increased from the
accident already alluded to, it was clear to me, that if any sudden
squall were to overtake her before she had time to shorten sail, she
would be caught all of a heap.

As the morning lightened, the Gazelle, the instant that flags could be
seen, telegraphed to send a boat on board the damaged vessel; and the
word was accordingly passed.

"I say, Dennis, I think I will go on board myself, instead of sending
any of the boys."

"As you please, Lanyard," quoth the lieutenant, who was by this time up
and shaving on deck, in a very picturesque costume certainly--"As
you--oh, confound you, you have made me cut myself--bless me, what a
gash!  Give me some felt off the top of my hat, steward."--He might as
well have gleaned after an Irish tinker.--"But were I you," continued
he, "I would trust some one else--confound this bleeding.  Look at the
weather, man--look at the weather, and the air."

The air indeed was hot and sultry beyond all my former experience at
the same hour of the four and twenty; and Lanyard, I saw, began to have
great doubts as to the propriety of sending a boat at all.  He was
about telegraphing to this effect, when, to the southward of us, a
heavy shower fell perpendicularly from the surcharged clouds, in a grey
column--"You are mistaken; there will be no wind, for you see how
even-down the rain falls yonder," said Dick to Donovan, when he saw
this.

"Well, well, man, since you _will_ go--bless me how I have cut my
chin!" as putting his head down the companion he roared out "Steward,
why don't you bring the felt?"

"I can't scrape a _pile_ off it," answered the Scotchman, appearing
half-way up the ladder, with the castor in one hand, and a knife in the
other.

"Bring the felt, you spalpeen, and no jaw."

Lennox, poor fellow, brought the hat, an old silk one, worn white at
the edges, with the pasteboard frame-work appearing in numberless
places--a most shocking bad hat certainly.  He held it up to the
lieutenant.  The Irishman looked at it--"Hat!--that's not mine,
steward--that's Mr Brail's.--Mercy on me, Benjamin, a'nt you ashamed to
wear a thing like this?"--It was the vagabond's own all the while--"but
don't mind, don't mind--so good-by, Lanyard--good-by," as his brother
officer stepped into the boat, that was surging about on the
fast-rising sea alongside.

"Stop, you may as well leave me the _kay_ of the locker, for your visit
will be longer in that same ship, or I greatly mistake, than you
bargain for."  He here coolly resumed his shaving, and Ricardo shoved
off, taking me with him, as I was rejoiced to have another opportunity
of seeing my amiable friends of last evening.  We had not pulled above
half a dozen strokes, when poor Lennox ran to the side--"Beg pardon,
but a squall is coming, sir--there, sir, in the south-east, where we
saw the rain just now."

I had not time to look round, when Donovan having put up his razor,
again sung out--"By the powers, my lads, but the Scotchman is right; it
requires no second sight to prophesy a squall anon.--There, there it is
coming, sure enough; about ship and come back, Lanyard, or it is as
clear as mud that we shall be minus your own beautiful self and the
boat's crew in a jiffey, not forgetting Benjie there; and what's worse,
our only boat that will swim."

It is folly to despise a hint where it is well meant, so in an instant
we were on board again, and had just got the boat run up, when the
commodore telegraphed, "Keep all fast with the boat."

Once more it cleared, and the rain ceased in the quarter where we had
recently seen it falling with such violence; but the threatening clouds
had sank down right over the spot, and began to boil and whirl in sooty
convolutions; like the blackest and thickest of the smoke, as it leaves
the funnel of a steamboat immediately after the fire is mended.

Under this gloomy canopy, as far in the south-east as we could see, the
black waves were crested with white foam; and a low undefinable hoarse
murmur, more like the hollow subterranean sound that precedes the shock
of an earthquake than the roar of the ocean, gradually stole down upon
us with increasing distinctness.

"Is that thunder?" passed among the men.

"Thunder!" quoth old Dogvane, "I wish it were, my lads."

"It is Davy putting on the coppers for the parsons, and nothing else,"
said Drainings.

"What is that?"

The frigate had fired a gun to attract our attention, for the darkness
had settled down so thick around us, that we could not have seen flags.
She had furled every thing but the close-reefed main-topsail, and
reefed foresail.  "A nod is as good as a wink," said I, as Lanyard
called all hands to shorten sail.  When we had every thing snug, I
looked out in the direction from whence we expected the wind to come.
The white crests had increased, and again in the distance the grey
screen descended from the clouds perpendicularly, like a watery
avalanche, hiding every thing beyond it from our view.

Presently this column bent at the lower extremity, and drove away to
the northward and westward, as if a shallow vein of wind had skimmed
furiously along the surface of the sea, while all above was as yet dead
calm.  But the upper part of the shower gradually assumed the same
slanting direction, indicating that the agitation of the air was
extending upwards.  Suddenly the rain fell right down from the heavens,
and once more concealed the agitated billows beyond, like a black
curtain dropped before them, indicating that it had again fallen calm.

"Come, I don't think it will end in wind of any consequence to speak of
after all," said I.

"Don't you be too sure, my lovely little man," quoth the imperturbable
Dennis.  "Lanyard, pray have the kindness to furl every inch of
canvass, or--fetch me a prayerbook--look there."

I followed the direction in which he pointed; the column of rain was
still falling perpendicularly, and as well defined as if it had been a
waterspout in reality; when suddenly the lower part of it again
inclined to an angle of thirty degrees with the horizon, becoming much
more dense and opaque than before.  In a few moments the whole pillar
of water took the same oblique direction, until it slanted straight as
a sunbeam shooting forth from heaven.  It continued thick and
impenetrable to the sight for the space of half a minute; when, as if
scattered by the fury of the tornado, it suddenly vanished in smoke,
and the weather cleared.  Right to windward, however, a white line
crept down towards us, like dust flying along the road in a stormy day,
after a long drought.  The roar of the approaching squall increased, as
did the swell, which now rolled on in mountainous undulations; and
although it was calm as death where we lay tumbling about, the little
vessel groaned and lurched like an evil spirit on his bed of liquid
fire; while the tops of the seas began to break and growl as if the
very waves had become conscious of the approaching _tormenta_.--It was
now eight o'clock in the morning: but in place of getting lighter the
clouds had settled down so darkly that the frigate had to make the
night signals with lanterns to heave-to with our head to the southward,
until we saw what might turn up.  Sharp was the word--we prepared to do
so--but before a single rope could be let go, the squall struck us; and
for a minute, notwithstanding all our precautions, the Midge was fairly
laid down on her beam ends, and I thought she would have turned keel
up; however, the moment we were enabled to lay her to with her head to
the southward and westward, she breasted it like a sea-gull, and,
confident in her weatherly qualities, I had time amidst the row to cast
a glance at the commodore and the merchantman.  The former was lying-to
under storm-staysails, rolling and plunging most delightfully, now
rising on a heavy sea and making a bow to us, and then descending
entirely out of sight--but the poor ship!  All seemed confusion on
board of her.  Whether it was that they had been deceived by the long
time the wind hung in the distance, and had persuaded themselves that
there would be no squall worth dreading after all; or the accident of
losing the fore-topgallant mast had confused them, I cannot tell; but
they had not been able to get in their canvass in time, so that every
thing had to be let go by the run when the squall came down; and the
consequence was, that the fore and maintopsails had been fairly blown
out of the bolt ropes, and were now streaming straight out in ribbons;
while the foresail, which had stood, laid her over on her beam ends.
The crew were, while I looked, endeavouring to set the jib, in order to
get her away before the wind; but a sea at the very moment struck her,
washing the boats off the booms, and everything else that would part
company; for a moment I thought she would never have risen again.  But
there was another lull, and after having got some way on the vessel,
she was brought to the wind, and enabled to heave-to also.  This was
not of long continuance, however, for it soon began to breeze up again,
but steadily; and I thought, that the puff being over, we should have
no more bother, although the heavens continued as black and threatening
as ever.  The commodore appeared to be of the same opinion, and now
made the signal to bear up; a manoeuvre that was promptly followed both
by the Midge and the ship, and old Donovan and I went below to
breakfast, leaving the lieutenant in command looking out on deck.

"That chap was nearly caught, Benjie," said Dennis.

"Very.  Shall I help you to coffee?"

"If you please."

"A slice of beef?"

"Thank you."

"Very nearly caught indeed.  I hope nothing has happened to her beyond
what we saw--beyond the loss of her boats and sails, and
foretopgallantmast--she laboured so dreadfully before they could get
her before the wind--what a state the poor women on board must have
been in!"

"Terrible," said Donovan.  "Bad enough for the men, but how I do pity
tender women in such a predicament!"--and here he heaved a sigh that
would have blown a candle out--"But you must have lost your heart,
Brail, aboard there; you are so awfully sentimental since you returned.
Come, now, describe the beauties of the fair creatures--give me as good
a notion of them as you can--that's a good boy."

"Why, Donovan, they were both, I mean the ladies, as _unlike_ Miss
Cathleen, the affianced wife of a certain lieutenant of the navy, the
son of widow Donovan, who lives at 1060, Sackville Street, as you can
well imagine."--

Dennis laughed.--"Why, you have me there, Benjie.  sure enough, so"----

Here Lennox interrupted him, as he hastily entered the small cabin.
"The ship has made a signal of distress, sir."

"The devil she has!"  We both jumped up the ladder as quick as we
could.  The frigate was steering large, about a mile on our lee-bow.
All was right and snug with her; but the ship, that lay about half a
mile abeam of us to windward, had her ensign flying at the mizen-peak,
with the union down; and the signal for a boat flying at the head of
the foretopmast.

To send her assistance before the sea went down was utterly impossible;
no boat could have lived for a minute; so that all we could do was to
haul by the wind, and close under her lee quarter.  It was still
blowing so fresh, that when the master hailed I could not hear him; but
as she lay over, we could see that both pumps were manned, and the gush
of _clear_ water from the scuppers was a sad indication of what had
befallen.  I could distinguish the two young missionaries, in their
trowsers and shirts, labouring most vigorously amongst the crew; while
the patriarchal old man was holding on by the mizen-rigging, close to
the master; evidently keeping his footing on the deck of the tumbling
vessel with great difficulty.  Seeing me on deck, he took off his hat,
which was instantly blown overboard, and his long grey hairs streamed
straight out in the wind.  This to me was a moving incident, simple as
it may appear to others, and it seemed to affect Donovan also.

"What a very fine-looking old man he is indeed!" said Dennis.

The lady passengers were both below, at least I could see nothing of
them.  When we closed, the captain hauled down the ensign, and as the
flow of water from the pumps seemed to decrease, I began to hope that
they were gaining on the leak.  Lanyard now steered as near as he could
without danger, and hailed, that the moment it was possible he would
send assistance to them.  The captain heard him, and made his
acknowledgment with his trumpet.

We kept as close to her as was safe the whole forenoon; and although we
saw that the crew were every now and then taking a spell at the pumps,
yet they seemed quite able to keep the leak under; and every thing once
more appeared to be going on orderly on board.

"Come," said I, to old Shavings the carpenter, who was looking out at
her alongside of me, "if the weather would only moderate a bit, a small
touch of your quality, Master Shavings, and a forenoon's spell of your
crew, would set them all to rights again--eh?"

The warrant officer turned his quid, and thereby poisoned a dolphin or
two, I make no doubt; by the jet of tobacco juice that he squirted
overboard.  He then took a long squint before he spoke.

"I ben't sartain of that, sir.  The water flowing there from the
scuppers is cruel clear still, sir.  I fear she has started something
serious; I don't think she would make so much by mere straining."  I
began to fear he was right.  "And I sees some signs of a bustle on
board again, sir; there, if the bloody fool of a cook has not set fire
to the boarding of the small galley--the caboose they calls it in
marchantmen."

However this accident seemed very trivial, for the man immediately to
all appearance extinguished it again; but the alarming part of it was,
that it seemed to have taken place while _he_ was taking his spell at
the pumps, a sure indication that the crew were more exhausted than I
had allowed for, since they could not spare a hand to look after the
fire in such boisterous weather.

The master now came suddenly on deck, and at the same moment a man
bolted up the fore-hatchway, and ran aft to him; showing by the energy
of his action that the matter he was communicating was alarming,
whatever its nature might be.  The pumps were instantly manned again,
and after a long spell, I noticed the carpenter sound the well, and
then shake his head.  At this several of the men threw off their
shirts, as if preparing for a tough bout, and set to, working harder
than ever; the water once more gushing out over the ship's side in
strong clear jets.

The young missionaries, who had for a minute disappeared, were again on
deck, and as well as the master himself now took their spell at the
pumps with the crew; but still there was no rushing nor alarm
apparently amongst them.  By and by, I noticed the master go aft, and
take upon his knee one of the black boards used to shut up the front of
the hencoops in bad weather; on which he appeared to write something,
in order, as I conjectured, to communicate with us, as, from the
increase of the gale and the sea, there was no use now in attempting to
be heard through the trumpet.  Evidently with a desire not to alarm the
crew, he now quietly slipt the board over the side.  On it was written
in chalk.


"THE LEAK IS GAINING ON US."


The gale now came thundering down with such violence, that we found it
necessary to clew up every thing but the close-reefed foresail, and the
tremendous seas that roared astern of us made it doubtful how long we
should be able to scud.  The distress of the ship was fast increasing;
and I noticed that the poor helpless women were now on deck clinging to
the old man, whose age rendered it out of the question his attempting
to be of any use at the pump.

I shall never forget the group.  He was holding on by the
mizen-backstay, in a half kneeling position; the youngest woman was
beside him in her nightdress, with her long hair hanging lank down and
drenched with rain over her deadly pale features, while her fair and
taper naked arms were clasped convulsively round his neck, as she hid
her face in his bosom.  The elder lady was sitting covered with a
boat-cloak on the small bench, that ran along the larboard-side of the
companion, with one of her arms over the top of it to keep her in her
seat, which she seemed to accomplish with great difficulty, as the
labouring ship sweltered about on the boiling sea.  A sheep, apparently
a pet lamb, stood, or rather staggered about, on the deck beside her,
every now and then turning up its innocent face and bleating, and
trying to poke its head under her cloak.

A sea at this moment broke over the starboard quarter of the ship, and
drenched all of them, washing aside the skirt of the cloak that covered
the oldest of the females, and disclosing, alas, alas! my poor dear
little boy, crying in his mother's arms, and stretching and struggling
with his little limbs, as if he had slept through it all, until the
very moment when the unruly surge washed him in his nest.

"Mind your helm," sung out Mr Marline, sharp and suddenly.

I turned to look aft from whence the voice came.  Heavens, what a
sight!  A huge green wave was curling its monstrous crest, like
revolving wheels of foam, close aboard of us astern, and pursuing us
with a hoarse growl, increasing to a roar, like a sea monster rushing
on its prey.

Lanyard had only time to sing out, "All hands, secure yourselves," when
it rolled in over the tafferel, and swept the deck fore and aft,
washing boats, hen-coops, spare spars, and every thing that was not
part and portion of the solid deck and upperworks, overboard, and
submerging us several feet under water.

I thought the little Midge's buzzing and stinging were for ever over,
and that she never would have risen again; but the buoyant little craft
gallantly struggled from under the sea, and rose gaily to the surface
like a wild-duck shaking her feathers after a long dive; and having
hove-to, we soon made capital weather of it again--her strong bows
dancing over the advancing surges, as if in contempt, until they hissed
away under foot, like serpents foiled in their attack.  It was a
fearful sight every now and then to look down from the summit of a
gigantic sea, on the frigate and shattered merchantman, as they were
tossed to and fro beneath us like objects seen from a hillside; and
then to feel yourself _sinking_, and see them _rising_, as you in your
turn sank into the trough, until they appeared to hang above you in act
to slide down and swamp you, and again to lose sight of them
altogether, as a roaring wave rose between us.

Had the felucca been a deep-waisted vessel, she must have inevitably
been swamped; but having no ledge or rail whatever, and the hatches
having been got on and well secured early in the forenoon, we took
little or no water below.  We lost one hand overboard, however, more
lamented for the time, I believe, than if he had been the best man in
the ship.  It was poor Dicky Phantom, the monkey, who, when the word
was passed for the men to hold on and make themselves fast, seeing them
lay hold of ropes, in imitation caught one too; but, alas for Dicky! it
was the slack end he had got in his paw, so that the sea washed him
overboard like smoke, when, being unable to stand the drag through the
water, the poor brute had to let go, and perished miserably.

As his little black gibbering face, with the eyes starting from his
head, and his mouth open and grinning, while he coughed and spluttered
out the sea water, looked its last at us from the curling ridge of a
wave, a general "Ah! there goes poor Dicky Phantom," burst from all
hands.

The ship had also hove to; but in the few minutes that had passed since
I had last seen her, her condition was clearly much altered for the
worse.

The crew had knocked off from the pumps, and several, I could see, were
employed casting loose the hen-coops, spare spars, and every thing that
would float; while the greater part appeared absolutely insane, and
rushed about the deck stretching out their hands towards us with
imploring faces, as if we could have helped them; while others, alas,
alas! were drunk--brutally, bestially drunk--and grinned and gibbered,
and threatened us with their fists.

It was indeed a humiliating and a heart-breaking sight, to see
fellow-beings, endowed with sense and reason like ourselves, debasing
themselves in their last moments below the level of the beasts that
perish, and recklessly rushing into the presence of the Almighty in a
state of swinish intoxication.

"What is that?" cried Mr Marline.  "Heavens, if they have not set fire
to the rum in the spirit-room!"

As he spoke, a wavering flash of blue flame gleamed for a moment up the
after hatchway, the hatches of which, in the increasing confusion, had
been knocked off.  Presently this was followed by a thick column of
white smoke, speaking as plain as tongue could have told, that the fire
had caught.  The column became suddenly streaked with flame, which
drove the miserable group of women and men forward into the waist.  In
a minute, the fire burst out of the main hatchway also, and scorched
away the two young missionaries and the captain from the pumps, to
which, although deserted by the crew, they had, with noble intrepidity
and calm resolution, clung until this very moment.

The eldest lady was now lying motionless on the wet deck, as if she had
been dead or in a faint, with her bare arms clasped round her child,
who, poor little fellow, was tossing his tiny hands, and apparently
crying piteously, while the younger woman was clinging convulsively
round her husband's neck, as, along with his companion and the old
captain, he now sat on the deck; the whole grouped round the
patriarchal old Moravian, who was kneeling in the middle, seemingly
with outstretched hands imploring Heaven for mercy; while over all, the
sea, now lashed into redoubled fury by the increasing gale, broke in
showers of spray.

The whole after part of the ship was by this time on fire; and falling
off before the wind under her foresail, she ran down in the direction
of the frigate that was lying to about a mile to leeward.  As she bore
up and passed us, the old captain, drenched, half-naked, and
bareheaded, with a face pale as death, was endeavouring to seize the
ensign union down in the main rigging, but it was torn from his feeble
hands by the strength of the wind; and, as if it had been the last
faint gleam of hope finally deserting them, flew down to leeward like a
flash of red flame.  He then again hung the board on which he had
formerly telegraphed over the gangway.  The following fearful legend
was now written on it:

ON FIRE, AND SINKING!


To have followed her, after having once been pooped, and nearly swamped
already, would have been downright madness, especially as we could
render no earthly assistance.  We had therefore nothing for it but to
keep the Midge lying to.

The firmament now became black as night.  A thick squall, with heavy
rain, that had been some time brewing to windward, burst down on us
with the most terrific fierceness.  For a minute we could neither see
nor hear any thing but the roaring of the tormented waters, and the
howling, or rather thundering of the wind.  The shred of sail that we
had set flew out of the bolt-rope into ribbons, with a sound like a
cannon-shot, and I thought the little vessel would never have righted
again.  At length it passed us, and cleared where we were, only to show
us the poor disabled ship overtaken by it.  And now it was evident that
she was water-logged, from the heavy sickly way in which she rolled and
pitched, while the fire tinged the whole dark sky overhead with a red
murky glare, as if it had been midnight.

The squall crept up to her, thickened round her, and gradually
concealed both her and the frigate, hiding them entirely from our view
within its watery veil; but the conflagration still lit up, and shone
through the grey mist-like shroud (alas, in very truth a shroud to one
of them!) giving horrible indications as to her whereabouts.

It suddenly disappeared, and the tornado of wind and rain drifted down
to leeward.  The clouds rose--the weather cleared away--Great God, what
do I see!--The frigate is there----BUT THE SHIP IS GONE!

      *      *      *      *      *

For several minutes, the thunder-storm continued with great violence.
At one time I thought the lightning had struck our mast-head; but it
was the breaking up of the weather, for with startling suddenness a
bright slanting beam from the evening sun pierced through the dark
masses of cloud in the west, and floated on the tempestuous surface of
the troubled waters where the ship had gone down, like a ray of hope
breaking through clouds and shadows on the tumultuous agitations of a
departing spirit.  Was it in very truth the eye of Providence glancing
on the watery grave of the innocent and virtuous, and evincing, through
our senses, that the quenching of their gentle light amidst the howling
waste of waters, although unseen of men, was not unmarked of the
Eternal, "who maketh the clouds his chariot, and who walketh on the
wings of the wind?"  And was the doom of the wicked in the rolling
thunder?  The thought stirred me like a trumpet-note.

The sunbeam travelled on, as if drifting before the wind, until it
glanced on the dark hull, and lofty spars, and storm staysails of the
noble frigate; and the weather moderating at the same time, we ran off
the wind to close the commodore, sailing over the spot where the ship
had foundered, as near as we could judge.  Several hencoops and spars
were floating about; but the whole crew were gone to "where the wicked
cease from troubling, and the weary are at rest."

"Keep her away a bit," sung out Lennox, in a sharp excited tone, from
forward--"keep her away a bit, Mr Lanyard, there is something
struggling in the water close to.  More yet--more yet," as the noble
fellow fastened a rope round his waist; "that will do--now, messmates,
hold on, and mind you haul me in if I miss."  In a twinkling the poor
fellow was overboard, striking out gallantly amongst the choking spray.

"I see the object," I exclaimed, forgetting all etiquette in the
excitement of the moment, "that is flashing and struggling in the
water; whatever it may be, he has it; down with the helm, and bring her
to the wind; down with it, hard-a-lee.  He has it--he has it!--No,
missed it, by Heaven!  No, no, he has fast hold; gently, haul him in,
men--gently, that's it; now, handsomely, in with him.  Hurra, well
done, Lennox!  You are on board again, my lad."

"Why, what _have_ they hauled in with him?" said Donovan, who was
standing aft beside me, while Lennox was got on board at the bows.  I
was myself confoundedly puzzled.  "A sheep, and a bundle of clouts, ha,
ha, ha!" shouted Joe Peak.  I jumped forward.  A bundle of
clouts--alas, alas! it was the breathless body of the beautiful child I
had seen on board the ship.

It was lashed to the neck of the pet lamb with a silk handkerchief, and
now lay at my feet a little blue and ghastly corpse.  I snatched it up
in my arms, more from the impulse of the moment, than any expectation
of the ethereal spark being still present in the little cold clammy
body; and, to the great surprise of the crew, I called Lennox, and
desiring him to get some hot salt in a piece of flannel, and two
bottles of hot water, and to bring some warm cloths into the cabin
immediately, I descended, stripped the child, and drying his little
limbs with a piece of blanket, clapped him into my own berth--Donovan
and Lennox followed; and, against all appearances, we set to, and
chafed and manipulated the frigid limbs of the darling boy, and applied
hot bottles to his feet, and the hot salt to his little chest and
stomach; but it was all in vain.  It was a moving sight to see great
rough bushy-whiskered hard-a-weather seamen, in despite of all
formality and discipline, struggling like children at a _raree show_ to
get a peep at what was going on below, through the open skylight that
ventilated the little well cabin.

"Ah, my poor little fellow, you are gone; your unhappy mother might
have spared her dying heart the pang of parting with you, when she made
you fast to the lamb--you would then at least have died in her arms,
and beside her heart, my sweet child!"  As I said this, Donovan, Dick
Lanyard, who had now joined us, and Lennox, the latter all dripping
with sea water, and still pale and breathless with his recent
exertions, were standing looking down on the body of the child, having
done all they could, but in vain.

The tears were rolling down the Scotch lad's cheek, and Dennis, honest
fellow, once or twice blew his nose very suspiciously, contriving
during the trumpetings to steal a small swab at his eyes, lest the
share which the old lady in Sackville Street, Dublin, had in him, might
become too apparent.

"He is gone," said Lennox, after a long pause, as he stepped to the
berth, with the intention of covering the dead body with the sheet.  He
no sooner stooped down, however, than he suddenly started back, and
held up his hand to attract our attention.  I looked--one eyelid
quivered--it opened a little, then shut again, and again the aguish
appearance passed over it; the chest heaved, and the little sufferer
drew a long sigh.  "He lives, he lives!" said Lennox, in a low voice,
and speaking as if he was himself choking.  The word was passed through
the skylight to the warm-hearted expectants clustered round it on their
knees on the deck above.  My eye, what a row!  They instantly jumped to
their feet, and began to caper about overhead as if a legion of dancing
devils had suddenly possessed them.

"He's alive," shouted one poor fellow, "and we can now spare Dicky
Phantom."

"Forward with you, men," sung out Mr Wadding; "forward with you; how
dare you lumber the quarterdeck in that way, with your lubberly
carcasses?"

We now increased our exertions, and had the inexpressible pleasure of
seeing them crowned with success; and having poured some tepid wine and
water down the child's throat--he was as yet too weak to drink it
himself, or to speak--we had the happiness to see him open wide his
fine dark blue eyes, and take a steady, and apparently, a conscious
look at us; and presently his respiration, though as yet slow and
sigh-like, became regular; the animal heat of his body over his heart
began to be perceptible--the blue clayey colour of his skin and face,
the sharpness of his features, and the blackness of his shrunk lips,
began to fade and give way before the accelerating circulation--and
after coughing up a large quantity of salt water, he turned his little
face to the ship's side, and fell into a sound sleep.

By this time it was near sunset, and the gale was rapidly abating, but
the sea was still very high.  We ran down and closed the commodore,
keeping him in view the whole night.

Donovan and I were sitting in the cabin regaling ourselves with a glass
of grog, about nine o'clock in the evening--"I say, Benjie, how that
poor little fellow snores--do you hear him?"

"I do, and it is music to mine ear, my darling.  What a scene it must
have been when the ship foundered!  I am glad we did not see it,
Donovan."

"And so am I--why, we have rather had a stirring time of it lately, a
number of odd circumstances have happened; but what do you make of the
commodore's taking on so, as you and Sprawl said he did, when he heard
that young De Walden was missing--had he any hand in the young chap,
think you?"

"Oh, no," said I laughing, "none; besides he used to keep him tighter
set up than any other mid in the ship.  However, that would neither
make nor mend as to the probability of your surmise, Donovan; but I
verily believe he was no connexion of the commodore's."

"Well, well," said Dennis, "give me t'other glass of swizzle,
Lennox--thank ye.  I say, Lennox, my lad--gallant conduct enough that
of yours--after having been so ill too--I wonder you had strength."
The man bowed.--"Now since I have had time to consider, what _are_ you
going to do with the child there, Dick?" said Donovan.

"Send him on board Gazelle, I presume, when the weather moderates--but,
good-night, I am off to my cot--who has the watch, Lennox?"

"Mr Peak, sir."

"Tell him to keep close to the commodore, and call me the instant any
thing worth reporting occurs."

"Yes, sir."

"How is the weather?"

"Clearing away fast, sir," answered the marine--"and the sea is greatly
gone down."

"Very well, let them trim by the commodore, do you hear--keep way with
him, but no more; Sir Oliver likes no one to run past him--tell Mr Peak
so."

"I will, sir."

"Now, good-night, Brail--good-night, Dennis, dear."

      *      *      *      *      *



CHAPTER X.

DICKY PHANTOM--YARN SPINNING.

When I awoke next morning, the first thing I did was to reconnoitre how
our little and most unexpected visitor held out.  There lay the fair
child, steeped in a balmy slumber, with his downy cheeks as peachlike
and blooming as ever; even his hair, with the crystallized salt
sparkling amongst it, once more curled thick and clustering round his
magnificent forehead.

  "Art them a thing of mortal birth,
  Whose happy home is on our earth?
  Does human blood with life embue
  Those wandering veins of heavenly blue,
  That stray along thy forehead fair,
  Lost 'mid a gleam of golden hair?
  Oh, can that light and airy breath
  Steal from a being doomed to death;
  Those features to the grave be sent,
  In sleep thus mutely eloquent?
  Or art thou what thy form would seem,
  The phantom of a blessed dream?"


As I stooped over him he awoke, and stretched out his arms in the
evident expectation of clasping some one that he had been accustomed to
lie beside; alas! they touched the cold hard ship's side.  He grew
startled, and called on his mother and then on his father, on his
grandfather, and his dear aunt Emily, waiting between each exclamation
for the wonted caress or answer.  His eye caught mine--he looked
surprised, and peered anxiously all about the cabin, until at last, as
if he really had comprehended the full extent of his desolation, he
began to cry bitterly, and to sob as if his little heart would have
burst.  Lennox and I did every thing in our power to pacify him; but
who could come in stead to him of those whose hearts were now cold for
ever?  I could not stand it, and went on deck, leaving him in the hands
of the steward.

The weather was now clear, and the sea had gone down; the frigate was
about a mile and a half on our lee-bow, carrying all sail, so that we
had to crack on to keep up with her.  During that forenoon and the
following day we had no communication together; but about 11 A.M. on
the third day after the ship had foundered, we got so well placed on
her quarter as to be able to communicate without trumpets.

The commodore hailed first--"Sad accident that t'other day, Mr Lanyard."

"Very, sir."

"All hands lost, I presume?"

Before Dick could answer, he continued, evidently in great amazement,
"What child is that, Mr Brail?"  I looked round, and was a good deal
surprised to see the figure the little stranger now cut.  When picked
up he had nothing on but his little frock and shift, which had been
torn in the getting of him in; so Lennox and the sailmaker had rigged
him in a tiny check-frock, with white lappels, a pair of little duck
trowsers, with large horn buttons; very wide at the feet, and very
tight at the waist--cut in the very extreme of nautical dandyism;
little white canvass shoes, and a small tarpauling hat.  They had even
hung by a piece of spunyarn a small horn-handled clasp-knife round his
neck, so that he was a complete topman in miniature.

Childlike, for he could not have been three years old at the most, he
had already taken to the men, and was playing with the pet lamb, that
was making believe to buck him with its head; and indeed every now and
then it would knock over the little fellow, but without hurting him,
and roll about with him on the deck.

"What child is that?  And I see you have some live stock--where got you
the sheep?"

"The child was picked up, lashed to the lamb, Sir Oliver, when the ship
went down."

"Come on board, and dine with me at three, Mr Brail--you can tell me
all about it then--come also, Mr Lanyard, and bring the picaniny with
you."

We sheered off again; and it was laughable to notice the crowd of heads
out of the frigate's ports the instant the little fellow was noticed on
our decks.  Immediately after this a group of men were sitting in the
bows of the felucca with the child amongst them.  Lennox came up to me
and touched his forehead--"The little fellow told me his name was
William Howard, sir; probably you would like to set it down as a clew
to find out his friends when we get to England."

"A very proper precaution, Lennox, and well thought of; but are you
sure that was the name the child answered to."

"Quite, sir; if you will step here, sir, you will be satisfied of it."
I followed him a pace or two nearer the group playing with the child.

"Dogvane," said Lennox--the man answered; "Wilcox," another seaman
pricked up his ears, both a good deal surprised at the steward's
address, with me at his back--but all this time the boy was tumbling
about amongst the men, taking no notice either of Lennox or me.

"William Howard," said Lennox.  "What you want?" promptly said the
child, as he knocked off from his play, and looked steadfastly at the
marine.

"A good and satisfactory proof," said I; "I will make a note of it,
Lennox."

Lanyard and I, some time after this, were walking backwards and
forwards on the small quarterdeck, talking of I don't remember what,
when we perceived a stir amongst the men forward, and an attempt
evidently making amongst them to shove old Dogvane aft with some
communication to the captain.  He appeared reluctant to be thrust
forward as spokesman, and waxed very emphatic in his gestures to the
group, who were all talking at the same time, and laughing with each
other, as they closed round the old quartermaster.

"Come, there is more rain than wind in that squall," said I to Donovan,
looking towards the group.  "What request, think you, is to be made
now, Dennis?"

"Can't conjecture for the life of me," said he.

Dogvane now took a fresh quid, by way of gaining courage, I suppose, to
enter on his embassy; and advancing a step from the rest, he cast his
eyes on the deck, and began to thump one hand on another, and to mutter
with his lips, as if he had been rehearsing a speech.  Presently,
giving his trowsers a hitch, and his quid a cruel _chirt_, he looked
towards us, in act to advance, as it were, but his heart again failed
him; so with another pull at his waistband, and a tremendous chew of
his quid, which made the tobacco juice squirt from both corners of his
mouth, he hove about again, apparently in despair and discomfiture, and
joined the others, who instantly set up a loud laugh.

Lennox, I saw, had now slid round to the men, and with a most quizzical
cast of his eye, was using his powers of persuasion with old Dogvane,
to get him to weigh anchor, and set forth on his mission again; but the
quartermaster shook his head, and seemed to refuse point-blank.  At
length, after a great deal of bother, the steward appeared to have
screwed his courage to the sticking place, for he now advanced to
within a couple of yards of where we stood--the group behind creeping
up after him.  He kept rubbing the back of his hand across his muzzle,
and coughing and clearing his voice, and every now and then he took a
squint over his shoulder, to see, in case his memory should fail him,
that he was in immediate communication with his reserve.  After another
stiff mastication, and a devil of a hitch, he smoothed down his
forelock, tore his hat off his head, as if it had been a divot, as
Lennox might have said, and then broke ground to the following purport--

"You sees, your honour, and Mr Donovan, there--gentlemen both"--A
considerable pause, during which he seemed awfully puzzled.

"I am gravelled already, Lennox," quoth he, over his shoulder.

"No, no," said Lennox, "try again, man, try again."

"May it please you, sir--it has blowed half a gale of wind some two
days agone, as mayhap your honour knows"----

Lanyard could not help smiling for the soul of him.  "Why, Dogvane, I
have reason good to know that; but what _would_ you be after?  Come to
the point, man."

"And so I would, captain, if I only knowed how to get there--I fear the
point he speaks of lies in the wind's eye, and that I shan't fetch it"
(aside to Lennox)--"but, as I says before, your honour, we had a
sniffler some two days agone, and the parrot, Wapping Poll, your
honour, why she was blown overboard, your honour; and as a parrot is
not of the gull specie your honour, I fears as how poor Poll may have
been drowned."

I could scarcely keep my gravity.

"Why, assume that the bird is drowned then, Dogvane, and get on."

"No, sir, with all submission, I have no sartainty of that.  A bird
that can speak, must think; and it's no impossibility, in my mind, in
Poll being at this moment cruising as mate of the watch on the back of
a wild-duck--but then a duck does dive now and then, to be sure."--I
now suspected he had strengthened his nerves a little with a glass of
grog.--"However, Poll might take a flight to air her pinions lest they
should mildew, during the time the other was below, you know, sir--if
she only knowed _where_ he might rise again.  Still a gull would be her
chance as for that--no diving in a gull, your honour."

"But my good man"--the lieutenant, I saw, was not over well pleased to
perceive that the old fellow was a sheet or so in the wind, and still
less with the freedom of the jest, if jest it was meant for--"will you,
I again ask you, come to the point, Dogvane--what _would_ you be at?  I
can't stand all day palavering here, unless you know your own mind,"
and he turned away.

His rebuke seemed to rouse Dogvane, who now making a sudden effort,
sung out quick and sharp--"Then the parrot's overboard and drowned,
sir.--And the monkey is drowned too, sir, and the old cat is dead below
with the damp and cold; and we shall all be starved for want of a pet,
sir."  Here he slewed his head backwards.  "D--n your eyes, Jack
Lennox, will _that_ serve your turn, now?"

"Oh, I see, I see," said Lanyard.

"There," said Dogvane, giving a skip, and turning a joyful countenance
over his shoulder to the group behind him--"There, his honour
_sees_--did not I tell you so?--why, I thank your honour--we all thanks
you kindly, sir; and such care as we shall take of him--oh, my eye!
But all I says is, thank your honour again in the name of the whole
bunch of us."  He made his salaam, and he and his tail turned to bundle
forward.

"I guess I know now what you would be at, Dogvane," said the
lieutenant.  On this the old quartermaster came to the wind again, his
face evincing great chagrin and vexation at the idea generated by
Lanyard's manner, that after all his lucid explanation, his captain
might still be unenlightened.  "I presume that having lost all your
pets"----

"Ah yes, sir,--that's it."

"That having lost all your pets, you want to ask me for the sheep that
you have picked up."

"No, no, no,"--ran amongst the men; and old Dogvane slid out with a jet
of tobacco juice--"D--n the sheep entirely--beg your honour's
pardon--but, Jack Lennox, there, take my oar now, will ye--I can make
nothing of it--I can't pull a-head at all--it has been all back water
with me;" and so saying he made his obeisance, and slunk away amongst
the people, slewing his head from side to side, and smiting his thigh,
as if he were saying--"Poo, poo, you see the captain won't understand,
do as you will--indeed, he does not want to understand, you see."

The marine, on the retreat of the quartermaster, now came forward as a
reserve, and in good set terms, leaving his northern accent out of the
account, preferred a request on behalf of his shipmates, not for the
sheep, but in the destruction of all the other pet creatures during the
gale, he made out a strong case, which could only be met by your giving
up the child; which, as a sweetener, I presume, he promised should
succeed the defunct monkey, Dicky Phantom, in all his honours and
perquisites; and "although we all know his name to be Will Howard,"
said he, in conclusion, "we request your permission, sir, to christen
him afresh, and to give him the name Dicky sailed under, as an earnest
of future kindness to himself, and a tribute of respect to the poor
brute, who has hitherto afforded us so much amusement."

I was a good deal tickled at all this.

"But, men, you all heard Sir Oliver desire the child to be sent on
board the frigate," said Lanyard.

Here several voices grumbled--"Why they have two monkeys on board, and
a kangaroo, and a hog in armour; and--oh, surely, they won't grab _him_
too!"

"Why, sir, we must leave it to you," said Lennox; "if the commodore is
in earnest in taking Dicky Phantom from us--surely he will spare us one
of the monkeys.  But I am sure no one will take such care of him in the
frigate, as I should here, sir."

"Very well," said Dick, good-naturedly, "I will see what can be done;
in the mean time, get the child ready to accompany me in the boat when
I go on board to dinner.  But where are his clothes?--you can't send
him in that rig?"

The marine laughed.  "Why, sir, his own clothes are all torn in pieces,
and he has no others made; indeed, our sail-maker says he could no more
make a petticoat than a gown for the Pope, sir."

There was no help for it; and at half-past two, Donovan, Lanyard, and I
found ourselves in the stern sheets of the small boat, with Dicky
Phantom sitting beside us, dressed out like a Lilliputian boarder.  As
we pulled on board, I had time to look more minutely at the equipment
of the boy.  As already mentioned, he was dressed in trowsers, check
shirt, and little tarpauling hat, with the word Midge painted in large
letters on a scroll on the front of it; but they had now added a little
cutlass, ground down from a piece of iron hoop, and bound round his
waist by a black belt; and as a tiptop finish to his equipment, they
had fastened an oakum queue to his curly wig, that hung down over the
waistband of his little breeches.  Dick's natural bashfulness was
sorely tested when we got alongside, and found the ship swarming in all
directions with busy grinning faces, wherever they could get a squint
at us and our little passenger; and when I stepped on deck, I had not
the courage to take the child up, but left him in the boat.

"How are you, Mr Brail?--glad to see you, Mr Lanyard--Mr Donovan, I
hope you are better," said Sir Oliver.  We made our acknowledgments.
"Where is your little passenger, Mr Lanyard.  Have you brought him on
board?"

"Why, yes, Sir Oliver, he is in the boat alongside, but the people have
so monkeyfied him, that he is scarcely presentable on the quarterdeck."

"Never mind, hand him up--hand him up--let us see him."  And poor
little Dicky Phantom was straightway transferred from the stern-sheets
of the boat to the frigate's deck, amidst a buzz of laughter from
officers and men.

The poor child was frightened, and ran crying to me, when Sir Oliver,
with his innate right feeling and kindliness of heart, asked me to
bring him down into the cabin, which I did, where the little fellow
soon became quite at home, and began to amuse himself with some books
of plates, and little Chinese figures that the commodore took out of a
locker for his entertainment.

I related the particulars of my interview with his parents and kinsfolk
on board the ship, which moved the kind old man exceedingly; but dinner
was now announced, and Dicky was handed over to Lennox, who had come on
board in the novel capacity of dry-nurse.  I could see the whole crew
clustered on the main-deck, in expectation of his coming out of the
cabin; and the moment he made his appearance,--"Lennox, pass him
forward."--"I say, Jack, Jack Lennox, lend him to me, man."--"Oh! d--n
my eyes, man, do give us a spell of the piccaniny."--"No, no--hand him
to me first--here to me, man--I bespoke him, Jack, before Bill, there,"
resounded on all hands; and the two monkeys and hog in armour were as
dust in the balance compared with Dicky Phantom.  We sat down to
dinner.  Mr Lanyard, and old Sprawl, along with one of the mates, were
present, and every thing went on very much as usual.

"We must endeavour," said Sir Oliver, "to find out that poor little
fellow's family and relations when we get to England; but what are we
to do with him until we get there?"

I cheerfully offered to take care of him on board the Midge.

"You are very good, Mr Brail--but in so small a hooker it would be
inconvenient, so I shall make shift the best way I can here."

Lanyard laughed, and said, "That next to a round-robin had been signed
by the Midges, petitioning you would let them have the boy for the
cruise, sir, in consequence of their having lost the ship's monkey and
parrot."  I noticed Sir Oliver's servant prick up his ears at this; and
that same evening, before we got away from Gazelle, a deputation waited
on Sprawl to offer both monkeys and the kangaroo, and the hog in
armour, to the Midges, in fee simple, in exchange for Dicky Phantom.
The commodore had recovered his looks and spirits greatly since I last
saw him, and in the course of the evening gave us some of his old
stories, more than one of which I had certainly heard before.  They
were chiefly relating to the countries on the borders of the
Mediterranean, and the following tickled me a good deal at the time:--

Sir Oliver had been one of old Sir J. D----'s lieutenants on that
station, and it was his watch on deck on a certain forenoon--"a fine
fresh breezy day, clear and sunshiny, and the old T---- was cracking
along on the starboard tack, with the island of Malta broad on the lee
bow, ten miles distant, or thereabouts.  She was going nine knots, as
near as could be, and the admiral was walking backwards and forwards
with me on the weather-side of the quarterdeck.  It happened that the
captain's servant was an inveterate stutterer, although a steady good
man, and we had not continued our perambulations above a quarter of an
hour, when this functionary rushed up the ladder in a deuced quandary,
and thus addressed, or rather attempted to address the admiral:--

"'Sir--sir--sir--Jo--Jo--Jo'----

"'What does he mean?' said the admiral, startled by the energy of the
man's gestures.

"'Your pi--pi--pig.  Your wi--wi--wig, over--over--over'----

"Here the poor fellow got into convulsions, and walloped his arms about
like the sails of a wind-mill, making signs that some _body_ or _thing_
was overboard.  The captain coming on deck at the moment, saw what was
going on--'Sing, you lubber, sing,' and straightway he of the
impediment gave tongue in a clear and melodious pipe, as follows:--

  "'The admiral's pig is overboard, is overboard, is overboard,
  His pig and his wig are overboard,
  Heave-to, or they'll both be drown'd.'


"'Man the fore-clew garnets,' sung out old Blowhard--'back the
main-topsail, Captain R----, back the main-topsail--lower away the
jolly-boat.  Quick, Captain R----, quick.'

"Here the old flag-officer's own servant came up to him, as he was
straining his neck where he stood on the aftermost carronade, to see,
over the hammock-cloths, what was becoming of the pig and the
unfortunate scratch.

"'There, there they are--both are astern,' he sung out.  'There's my
poor wig bobbing at me.'  (The origin of bob wig?)  'It will choke some
dolphin, or I am a Dutchman, before evening.  And the pig, oh, my poor
pig!'

"'Please you, Sir J----,' chimed in the functionary, 'it is a false
alarm.  That stuttering blockhead has made a mistake; it is the
master's wig, Sir J----, and the porker belongs to the ward-room.'

"'Fill the maintopsail again,' rapped out the knight.  'Poor pig--poor
pig--can't be helped--can't be helped--pity the master should lose his
scratch though, _but it can't_ be helped, Captain R----, can't be
helped.  So fill away the maintopsail again, Captain R----.'

"Alas and alackaday, _both the pig and the wig were drowned_!"

Mr Donovan being now well enough to resume his duty, remained that
evening in the frigate, but Lanyard and I returned, towards nightfall,
with my tiny topman, to the felucca, and great was the buzz of joy
amongst the Midges at getting back Dicky Phantom.

We were sitting at breakfast on deck under the awning, next morning,
Donovan having returned for his traps, and the frigate's boat was
towing astern--Dicky Phantom was part and portion of our society--the
carpenter having already got a little chair so contrived, that when
lashed to the leg of the table, he could not fall out of it.

The frigate was about a mile to the northward of us, looming like a
seventy-four, as she glimmered through the hot blue haze that hung over
the horizon, and circumscribed our view on all sides, for it was stark
calm.  The sun shone down with true tropical intensity; the heaving
swell was like a sea of molten silver, and every now and then a dolphin
would leap close to us, while, as from the side of a watery hill, a
shower of flying-fish would spring out and shoot across a liquid
valley, until they dropped like a discharge of grape into the next
billow.

Nothing nourishes one's grog-drinking propensities, or spoils one's
beauty so much, as the reflection of the sun from the glass-like
surface of the calm sea within the tropics.  His direct rays are in
some measure warded off by your hat-brim; but were you even to turn up
your ugly phiz at him, and stare him in the face, they would have
comparatively no effect, to the fierceness of their heat second-hand in
this way.  Oh, the sickening effect of the afternoon's glare, thus
reflected, and flashed up into your face, under the snout of your
chapeau, which here, like a battery taken in reverse, proves no
defence, until your eyes are blinded, and your cheeks routed and
roasted, and your neb peeled, like an ill-scraped radish, leaving the
underskin so tender, that breaking on the wheel is comfort to blowing
your nose.  Cold cream--cold cream!  Oh, for a pot of it, ye gods!

I have before said, we were not, where we sat, much above four feet out
of the water, and several flying-fish had come on board that morning;
so just as I was helping Dicky to a little water, to wash down the
soaked biscuit that, through Lennox's kindness, he had been feeding on,
dash--a very large one flew right againt Dennis Donovan's cheek, and
dropped walloping and floundering into his plate.

"Blazes, what is that?"

"Oh, what a beautiful leetle fis!" said the child.

But Dennis, honest man, did not recover his equanimity during the whole
meal.

Immediately after breakfast, as he was preparing to go on board of the
Gazelle, and to part company regularly, one of the men, who was looking
out astern, sung out in a low tone, as if afraid the fish should hear,
"A shark, sir, close under the stern."  We gently hauled the frigate's
boat alongside, to be out of the way, and, on looking over the
tafferel, there was the monster, sure enough, about three feet below
the surface of the clear green water, eyeing us with the greatest
composure.

As if noways daunted, but rather determined to have a nearer and better
view of us, he gradually floated up, until his dorsal fin was a foot
out of the water, and his head but just covered by it.  We instantly
got a hook baited, and let down.  The fish was about twelve feet long;
and, as I leant over the low stern of the vessel, when she sank on the
fall of the swell, I could have touched the monster's head with a
handspike.  There was something very exciting in being on terms of such
intimacy with a creature who would have thought it capital sport to
have nipped you in two.

He eyed the bait and the hook, and then drew back about a yard from it,
and ogled me again, as much as to say,--"Not to be had so clumsily,
Master Brail; but if you would oblige me with one of your legs, now, or
even an arm, I would vastly prefer it to the piece of rancid salt pork
you offer me on that rusty piece of crooked iron there."

Here again he reconnoitred the bait, and walloped about all round it,
as if laughing at us, and saying to himself,--"No go, my boys."  He
then looked up with a languishing eye at little Dicky Phantom, whom
Lennox was now holding on the tafferel.  "Ah," again said sharkee to
himself, I make no question, "ah, _that's_ the thing I want.  What a
morsel _that_ would be!" and he made several rushes hither and thither,
as one has seen a dog do, before settling down steadily on end, to look
up at the morsel an urchin is tantalizing him with.

At length, seeing I was so unaccommodating and inexorable as not even
to oblige him with a limb, and that Dicky Phantom was altogether
forbidden fruit, he made an angry dart, and vanished below the counter.

"Poo, confound him, he can't be hungry," quoth Mr Weevil the purser, as
he hauled in the line, hand over hand, until the bait was close under
foot; when, just as it was rising out of the water, the shark, finding
that it must be either salt junk or no fare, made a sudden grab at the
bait, gorged it--dashed off with it, and, alack-a-daisy, _with the
purser also_.  Dreaming no harm, he had for a moment taken a turn of
the line round his left arm as he hauled in, which, by the sudden jerk,
_ran_; and if Lennox and old Drainings had not caught him by the heels,
he would have been fairly overboard.  The fun now grew fast and
furious, for there was the hideous fish, walloping and floundering, and
surging about, within a fathom of the purser, who was hanging over the
stern, like a side of beef laid in, at sailing, for sea stock; his head
dip-dipping into the water every now and then, as the vessel rose and
fell, while he struggled, and spluttered, and twisted, in a vain
attempt to get his arm loose; the shark all the time back, backing like
a restive horse, and dragging and jerking about until I thought the
purser's fin would absolutely have been torn from his shoulder.

All this time the crew were like to explode with laughter, while poor
Weevil roared lustily,--"Haul me in, for Heaven's sake, my good men, or
he will swallow me--haul"----Here his head would sink into the water,
and the sentence end in a great coughing and spluttering, until, just
as he was on the point of being suffocated, out his nob would be
dragged again by the pitching of the vessel, so as to enable him to
renew his shouts for succour.  At length the shark, being a good deal
exhausted, was brought close under the stern, when I sent two bullets,
from my double-barrelled Manton, through his head, right between his
eyes.

"Ah," quoth old Drainings the cook, "that has settled him, or the devil
is in it; so lend a hand, Lennox,"--(the marine had hold of one of the
purser's legs, and the _artiste!_ the other)--"so lend a hand, Lennox,
and, during the lull, let us bouse in Mr Weevil.  Ho, yo, yo, yo, oh!"

The wounded shark had borne the loss of his brains with great
composure, but the instant he felt the renewed drag at the pork in his
maw, as if he had been only stunned, he started off at a tangent as
strong as ever; and before you could say Jack Robinson, the pursuer's
starboard leg was whipped out of Jack Lennox's clutches; but the one to
port being in old Drainings' iron claws, was held like grim death, for
he was a great ally of Weevil's.

"Don't for Heaven's sake, let me go, Mr Drainings," roared Weevil, as
if cookey had been his last shroud, "don't,"--splutter,
splutter--"oh,"--cough, cough.  The little vessel at this moment sended
heavily, giving a strange sort of swinging lurch or wallop, as if
shaking her sides with laughter, and again dipped his head a foot under
water.

As the unfortunate piscator rose this time with a jerk to the surface,
the shark, having had momentary scope to sink, kept his own so
resolutely, that _clip_, as a climax to the fun, the old cook himself
was torn from his hold, and away _he_ went next, still clinging to the
purser's leg, however, so that if his own had not been seized by Lennox
and myself, he would have been overboard also.  I was now like to die
with laughter.  I could scarcely keep my hold; as for speaking, it was
out of the question, for the shark, and purser, and cook, like a string
of Brobdingnag sausages, were floundering in the calm water, close
under our counter, all linked together, not quite "ladies' chain," by
the way, although, from the half-suffocated exclamations of two of the
links, it might not inaptly have been called, "Chaine des _Dames_."
Oh, fie!  Benjie Brail.  However, the matter was now getting serious.

"Mr Peak, that boathook there--quick, bring the boathook."--Little Joe
was no admirer of Weevil's, and, as he made believe to hook him by the
waistband of the breeches, as he struggled in the water, he contrived
to dig the sharp point of the instrument into his stern-frame more than
once; and at length when he did catch him, it was by nothing that would
hold, but by one of the pockets of his coat, which instantly _gave_,
and out flew into the water his snuff-box, pocket-handkerchief, and a
nondescript pouch of sealskin, rolled up.

"Lord save us! dinna drown the spleuchan," exclaimed Lennox, as it
dropped into the sea.

"Hook him again," shouted Lanyard.

"Oh, Lord! captain, haul me in, haul me in, or I must let go Mr
Weevil's leg," sung out cookey.

"Don't, for Heaven's sake, do that thing, my dear Mr Drainings," roared
the purser.  Here Joey caught him again with the boathook, by the cape
of his coat; and, with the assistance of two men, he had got him a foot
or two out of the water, when _screed_,--the cloth, which was of no
kindred to that which composed Bailie Jarvie's skirts,--gave way, and
down he plumped again _souse_, and the splashing and struggling, and
cursing and coughing, and blowing of fish and men, were renewed with
twofold extravagance, until by a fortunate dig the iron hook was
finally passed through the head-band of his nether garment, and the
canvass fortunately holding, we hauled him in, with Drainings still
sticking to him like grim Death, or a big sucker-fish.  It was a pity
that such a delightful party should be separated, so by slipping down a
bowling knot over the shark's head, and under his gills, we hoisted him
also in on deck, which he soon had all to himself entirely; I really
expected he would have stove it in with the lashing of his tail.  We
hammered him on the head until we had crushed it to mummy; but, like
many other strange fish, he appeared to get on as well without brains
as with.  In fine, he would have taken the ship from us out and out,
had not old Shavings watched his opportunity, and nicked him on the
tail with his hatchet, thereby severing his spine, when a complete
paralysis instantly took place, and he lay still; but even an hour
after he was disembowelled, he writhed about the deck like an eel.

Speaking of sharks, I must _taigle_ you here with another story, which,
however _lee-like_, did actually occur, as the records of the Jamaica
Admiralty Court fully prove.  But let Dennis Donovan tell it in his own
words.

"We were cruising off Cape Tiburoon, to take our chance of any of the
French outward-bound that might have preferred to make the passage to
Port-au-Prince by the southward of St Domingo.  It might have been five
in the afternoon,--I was a little middy then, and had dined with the
captain that day; a fine fresh forenoon we had had of it,--but the
devil a thing was there in sight, not even a small white speck of a
sail slipping along shore apparently sailing in the white surf, and
standing off full and boldly, as the painters say, from the dark
background of bushes fringing the white beach."

"But why take the pains to describe _so well_ what _was not there_,
Dennis?"

"Never you mind, but let me get along; you can pocket the description,
Benjie, and keep it for your own use.

"I had just swallowed what I had sense enough to know was considered as
my last glass of wine, and had come on deck, when, looking out to
leeward, where the setting sun was casting a blinding wake on the blue
waters that blazed up in our faces, roasting our skin into the colour
of scarlet, I thought I saw a dark object on the very verge of the
horizon.  From the afternoon having come on thick, this had not been
noticed before; but just as I had made the discovery, the lookout man
at the masthead hailed, 'a strange sail, abeam of us to leeward.'

"'Thank you for nothing,' responded the crusty lieutenant; 'you blind
beetle you, is it _now_ you see it?  Why, we can see under her topsails
from the deck here.'

"'May be, sir,' answered the man, 'but the weather has been thick as
buttermilk down to leeward until this moment.'

"'All hands make sail,' instantly followed, and in five minutes we ran
off the wind, with every rag set that we could spread.  A stern chase
is proverbially a long chase, and although our friend a-head set
nothing as we neared him that he had not abroad before, the next
morning broke, and we were still three miles astern of him: Jamaica
being in sight to leeward.  As the sun rose, the breeze freshened, and
before noon we had to hand the royals, and stand by the studding-sail
haulyards.  The fiery sea-breeze that struck us, presently quelled the
courage of the chase, for he had to take in his kites also, with the
loss of his foretopmast-studding-sail; and as we carried the breeze
down with us, we were presently alongside, and I was sent on board in
the boat.

"I touched my hat to the master, 'What brig, if you please?'

"'The Stormy Peterel, of, and from St John's, New Brunswick.'

"'Whither bound?'

"'To Kingston, Jamaica, with a cargo of flour and _notions_, consigned
to Macaa, Walker, and Co.'

"All very pat, thought I--no hesitation here.  'I will look at your
papers, if you please,' and I unceremoniously stepped down the
companion ladder, and entered the cabin.  The master of the brig
followed me, entering with a good deal of swagger in his bearing, and
slammed himself down on the locker with his hat on.  I was a little
nettled at this, and again took a steady look at my gentleman; but to
make evident the cause why my suspicions were excited, be it known,
that at the time I write of, the old navigation laws were in full
operation; and no American, or other foreign vessel, was allowed to
trade with our colonies; every thing imported having to be carried in
British bottoms; so that numberless tricks were frequently put in
practice by neutrals when the colonial markets were favourable, to
cloak the real character of their vessels,--amongst others, that of
simulating English papers was very frequent.  To return, I looked at
our friend again.  He was tall, sallow, and Yankee-looking in hull,
spars, and rig, and his accent smelt of peach brandy--strong of the
Chesapeake.  He was dressed in faded nankeen trowsers, rusty black coat
and waiscoat, all very threadbare, the coat sleeves scarcely reaching
below the elbows.  He wore a broad-brimmed white hat, with a rumpled
and spray-washed black or rather brown crape twisted round it, but no
neckcloth, his shirt collar, which was cut very high, being open in
front, disclosing his long scraggy red neck, with a lump in his throat
as if he had swallowed a grape shot, that had stuck half way down.  His
large ill-washed frill was also open, showing his sunburnt chest,
covered with a fell of shaggy red hair, as thick as a fox-cover, and
his face was burned red by exposure to the sun, the skin peeling off in
small pieces like the film of an egg, here and there.  His features
were very strongly marked and coarse, one side of his mouth drooping
more than the other, from which he kept swabbing the stream of tobacco
juice with the back of his hand.  He had little fierce grey eyes, the
white being much bloodshot, and his nose was long and sharp, as near as
might be of the shape and colour of a crab's claw, with a blue peeled
point.  But the most curious part of the animal was the upperworks--the
forehead being very broad immediately above his eyes, which were shaded
by enormous shaggy sandy-white eyebrows, like pig's bristles, it then
tapered away into a cone at the crown of his head, like the hat in
vogue amongst the Roundheads in old Noll's time.  His red whiskers grew
in two tufts low down on his jowls and all under his chin, and he kept
spitting most abominably, and twitching the right cheek, and quivering
the right eyelid, while he looked at you, in a nervous, and to me
exceedingly disagreeable manner.  He had, in fine, nothing of the
sailor whatever in his appearance--being more like a half-pay Methodist
parson.

"'There be my papers, sir,' said this enticing person, tossing down a
parcel of by no means dirty manuscripts.  The register especially, as
well as the manifest, seemed surprisingly clean, and the former,
instead of being carefully enclosed in a tin box, as customary in
merchant vessels, was wrapped up in brown paper.  I opened the
manifest, and glanced at a bundle of copies of bills of lading, called
ship's blanks.  The cargo answered his description, and the bills of
lading seemed to correspond with the manifest.  I then lifted the
register, and by it perceived that the vessel purported to be two years
old, yet the document, in place of being torn and chafed at the
foldings, and dirty, greasy, and defaced, was quite sound.--When I
opened it, after unfolding the brown paper in which it was wrapped, and
threw it on the table, it absolutely and truly opened of itself, and
lay flat on the table, as if unused to the rumples and creases--to the
no small surprise of Jonathan himself I could perceive--thus seeming to
say, 'Take a look at me, Master Donovan, I am worth the perusal,
perhaps.'--'Ha, ha,' thought I, 'my fine fellow, the creases in that
register are very fresh, I guess--it has not been quite two years
folded, or I never saw the Liffey;' but I said never a word aloud, to
the apparent great comfort of the skipper, who, I could see, sat on
thorns, while I was overhauling the papers--for, thinks I, if he sees
into me, he will haul his wind, and not come to an entry at Kingston at
all, and on the high seas I cannot touch him; but then, again, as the
devil would have it, were we even to decoy him into port, another
man-of-war may nab him before us.  My game, said I to myself, is to
lull his suspicions as well as I can; and having done so, I returned to
the frigate, and we ran down to Port Royal very lovingly together.

"They had caught a shark during my absence, and found a tin case,
loaded with a dozen musket balls, with a ship's manifest and register
in it, in his maw.  I lost no time in repairing to the cabin, and
communicating to the captain my suspicions that the brig was an
American, sailing under false papers; recommending that the frigate
should stick close and seize him whenever he had passed the Rubicon by
reporting at the fort at Port Royal.  He agreed to all my suggestions;
and after determining that I was to board and seize the vessel before
others could have an opportunity of doing so, ordered in dinner, and
laughing, threw the bright white iron case to me that had been cut out
of the maw of the shark.

"I opened it, and, to my surprise, found that, according to the best of
my recollection, the manuscript copy of the manifest answered word for
word, nail for nail, with the one I had seen--the measurement of the
Yankee brig Alconda being identically the same, out and out, with that
of the 'Stormy Peterel of St John's, New Brunswick.'

"Having communicated the coincidence to the captain, he desired me to
keep my own counsel, which I did.  The vessel was seized and libelled
in the Vice-Admiralty Court, to the great apparent surprise of Captain
Shad of the Stormy Peterel, I guess.  The day of trial arrived; we were
all in court, and so were the crew and captain of the detained vessel.
Our counsel, learned in the law, made his speech, and produced his
witnesses.  He of the adverse faction replied, and produced his, and
cross-questioned ours, and pretty considerable perjuries were flying
about; and although the suspicion was strong against the Stormy
Peterel, still she was on the point of flying away and weathering us
all, when the lawyer retained by the merchantman said sneeringly across
the table to our advocate, 'Sorry must go for damages against your
client; I hope you have your recognisances and bail-bond ready.'

"'You are very obliging, brother Grab,' said our friend, calmly--then
to the bench, 'may it please your honour, I am now in a position to
save you farther trouble, by proving, on the most undeniable evidence,
by a most disinterested witness, that the vessel in court, purporting
to be "the Stormy Peterel of St John's, New Brunswick"'--here
Jonathan's jaw fell--'is neither more nor less'--the Yankee's eyes
seemed like to start from their sockets--'than the American brig
Alconda, off and from New York.'

"'Who the hell has peached?' screamed the Yankee, looking round
fiercely among his own men, and utterly shoved off his balance!

"'Silence,' sang out the crier.

"'The hand of heaven is in this iniquitous matter, please your honour.'
Here he produced the tin box, and took out the Alconda's manifest and
register, and confronting them with the forged papers belonging to the
Stormy Peterel, the trick was instantly proved, and the vessel
condemned--Jonathan, as he swung out of court, exclaiming, amidst
showers of tobacco juice, 'Pretty considerably damned and con-_damned_,
and all by a bloody sharkfish.  If this ben't, by G--, the most active
and unnatural piece of cruelty--may I be physicked all my natural days
with hot oil and fish-hooks!'"

So far, so true; but Dennis, honest man, superadded a few flourishes of
his own, one of which was, that the spine of the shark was extracted,
and preserved in the captain's cabin, hung up to the roof; and that one
of the quartermasters, "a most religious charackter," could notice
certain vibrations and twistings of the vertebrae, whenever any vessel
with false papers was in the vicinity--even when she could not be seen
from the masthead.

"Why, it must have been a divining rod--a second rod of Moses," said I,
laughing.

"And you have said it with your own beautiful mug, Benjie Brail," quoth
Dennis Donovan.

"Gammon," said I Benjie.



CHAPTER XI.

JAMBE DE BOIS.

"Now, Master Abraham, if you try that trick again, I will make free
with this mopstick, and break your head.  Why, look here, cook, if he
has not been teaching the child to chew tobacco!  I suppose they will
be asking Mr Weevil to serve him out his allowance of grog next."

It was Lennox who had spoken.  Lanyard rung the bell.  "What's the
matter now, steward?"

"Oh, sir, they are massacring that poor little fellow, and teaching him
all manner of abominations.  But it's all in kindness, sir; so one
really cannot be so angry with them, as"----

"Never mind then, get breakfast.  What sort of morning is it?"

"Quite calm, sir."

"And the frigate?"

"About a mile to the northward of us, sir.  The boat that was sent on
board with Mr Donovan this morning, and to bring hay for the sheep, is
now coming back again, sir."

Presently I heard the splash of the oars, then the noise and rumble of
their being laid in; and the crew having got on board, she was hoisted
up.  By this time I was on deck; it was about seven o'clock in the
morning, and, as the steward had reported, quite calm.  "Heigh, ho!
another roasting day, Mr Marline," said I, as I swept the horizon with
the glass, round every part of which the junction of sea and sky was
obliterated by a hot quivering blue haze, through which the frigate
twinkled, her white streak glimmering like a ribbon streaming in the
wind, and her hull trembling, as it were, in every atom: while her
masts appeared to twist like snakes, the small wavy motion beginning at
the deck, and flowing upwards towards the mastheads.

"Yes, sir," said the midshipman, "every appearance of a broiling day,
indeed."

"Well, get the awning up, as quick as you can," said the lieutenant,
who had followed me.  And I set myself to play with Dicky Phantom,
until breakfast was ready.

We ate our meal on deck; after it was ended I went below, and took a
book to while away the time in the least wearisome manner possible; but
being a dull dog I had got hold of, I soon tired; and, as I stretched
myself on the locker, I saw Lennox, in his small pantry of a place
behind the companion ladder, busy writing.  When I first noticed him,
he seemed very serious and melancholy.  I could see a tear stand in his
eye now and then, and he would blow his nose in a very pathetic and
interesting manner; but as he went on, he once or twice laid down his
pen, and laughed to himself, rubbing his hands in ecstasy.  He again
plied his task for some time quietly, until the laughing fit once more
overtook him, when he threw himself back on the small _settle_ or block
on which he sat, with such vehemence, that he cracked the back of his
skull against the ladder very sharply, and uttered an involuntary "Oh!"
In the confusion which this lapse threw him into, he upset the ink on
his paper.  Out of pure wickedness, I called out, "Lennox!"

"Coming, sir,"--while he bustled to gather up the ink, a precious
article on board, with his pen, and to shovel it into the bottle again;
but he did not come great speed this way, so he next tried a tea-spoon.

"Lennox!"

"Coming, sir."

"Coming? why, do come, man, and give me a glass of water, will you?"

"This instant, sir--beg pardon, sir--but--but"--

By this he had got his papers stowed away, and made his appearance with
his trowsers covered with ink.  I looked at him; he was blushing to the
eyes.

"Why, what _have_ you been after?  You have spilled all my ink, I
see--writing love-letters, I suppose?"--In his bashfulness he here drew
his hand across his face, and thereby transferred a good dash of the
"best Japan" to his nose and cheeks, the effect of which was so absurd
that I could not help laughing outright.--"You are an author, perhaps?"

He blushed still deeper, and seeing I waited for an answer, rapped out,
"I am, sir, in a small way."

"The deuce!" said I, rather surprised that I should have hit the right
nail on the head thus unexpectedly; "and pray, what works have you
produced--what walk in literature have you especially followed out?"

"The novel line, lately, sir, but"----

"The novel line!  A _novel_ line, certainly, for a corporal of
marines," said I, interrupting him rather sneeringly.--"Pray, who and
what were you before you joined Gazelle, Lennox; that is, if you have
no objections to tell?"

He did not make me a direct answer.

"You have been very kind to me, sir," said the poor fellow, "and have
more than once stood my friend, when, Heaven knows, I was desolate
enough; indeed, if it had not been for you, Mr Brail, I would have gone
overboard, some dark night, with a cold shot at my feet; for the Devil,
who is always busy with desperate men, has been near getting the upper
hand aftener than I will stay the noo to tell.  But as I was
saying,"--and here a large tear rolled down his face, through ink and
all,--"I am bound to you, sir, and if you have any desire to know who I
am, or what I have been, I am ready to tell you."

I was a little moved at this, as I had no idea that any little service
I had rendered the poor fellow should have been so gratefully
remembered.  "Why, Lennox, I have done no more to you, nor for you,
than I hope every right-hearted man would have done to an inferior; but
I will not deny that I have such a desire."

He put into my hands a dirty roll of paper.

"Your honour has been very patient with me; but I hope I know my place
better than to weary you with a long story; so, referring you to the
manuscript, which you may read or not as you please, I will, with your
permission--go and kill the pig, and then help the cook to scrape
potatoes in the galley."

He withdrew--I looked after him, and then took a short turn on deck,
where every thing was going on much as usual; I then returned to the
cabin, and having stretched myself along the locker, and seen the
windsail comfortably drawing down the small skylight?  I unrolled the
manuscript, which was entitled

  "THE SORROWS OF SAUNDERS SKELP."


Poor Dominie Skelp! his sorrows were amusing enough, here and there,
melancholy as his story was in the main.  Some parts of the narrative
were powerful, although unequally written, as if the mind of the writer
had originally been calm and clear as a polished mirror, until
shattered by the rude blows of misfortune into dust and rubbish, but
still intermingled here and there with bright and sparkling fragments.
His father, a respectable tradesman in a small country town, had
cramped himself in every way to give his son a good education, and he
had actually attained the barren dignity of a licentiate in the
Scottish Kirk.  After this he became the schoolmaster of the parish,
and was even in the habit of occasionally preaching for Mr Bland, the
clergyman, or minister thereof, as he called him.  At length he fell in
love with a beautiful and innocent girl; after which it was all the old
story,--

  "The course of true love never did run smooth."

And the loves of Saunders Skelp and Jessy Miller were no exception to
the rule; the young laird, Mr Adderfang, having seduced the girl, and
contrived, by a very mean and cruel _ruse_, not only to blast the
happiness of both, but even to cast the blame of the transaction on the
young probationer for a season.  "But let the dominie tell his own
story, Master Benjie."

"With all my heart, my boy.  So here it is; mind it don't try your
patience, however."


  "EPISODE OF THE STICK LEG.

  "And Adam fell by Eve: from womankind
  All evil was derived; had the male race
  But grown like turnips, man had never sinned.
      _Dominie Skelp's Illustrations of Byron, MS._


"My great-grandfather, grandfather, and immediate progenitor, were all
_ministers' men_ in the landward parish of Lincumdodie.

"My father had added to his more immediate vocation, that of a
shoemaker; and being a good tradesman, we were the easiest in our
circumstances of any family in the village, until my stepmother
suddenly took to drinking, and thereby nearly broke my father down in
mind, body, and estate.

"I can call it nothing else but a disease; for hitherto she had always
been a discreet body, and a kind to me, considering I was an only
bairn, and therefore sure to be fashious, and nane of her ain flesh and
blood forby.

"My father focht lang with her, strapping her respectably at ae time,
and fleeching and praying with her at anither; syne he would get the
minister himsell to speak till her, but a' wad not do, for the puir
body just grat and listened, and gat fou again; and grat and listened
and gat fou, until at length the auld man crossed his arms in downricht
despair, _and let her at it_.

"The issue wasna long in doubt, for she was fairly _speerited_ awa
between and that day three months.

"Young as I was, my surprise was great, and so was that of the haill
village, at the way my father took on when she died.  'She was ill to
hersell, and no that guid till you, Saunders,' said the minister to him
one day, by way of comforting him.  'And I can scrimp deny that same,
minister, but for mony a day she was a leal and gude wife to me, before
she fell away intil that evil propensity; and although it whiles
surprises me mysell that I should miss an auld drucken wife sae muckle,
yet lang custom, minister, makes ane even miss the very middenstead
before the door, ye ken; at ony rate, I canna think o' her just yet,
without a fullness at my heart, that I confess I am a wee bit ashamed
o'."

"When the steek in my father's purse, let down by my mother's spiritual
propensities, was taken up once more by her death, we again began to
float up into respectability and comparative riches; so that we
gradually resumed the status in the small village from which we had
declined.

"I was at this time about twelve years of age, and my father sent me
back to the school which my mother had drank me out of; and in the
course of three years, I believe I may with a safe conscience say, that
I knew as much as the master himself did; of whom the young laird, Mr
Adderfang, used to say,--'He would be a clever chiel wha kenn'd _all
the master didna_.'

"About this time, old Durie Squake, the precentor, met with an accident
which gave me temporary promotion in the kirk; for, coming into it one
dark forenoon in the winter-time, after having oiled his chanter with a
drap drink, he did not notice that the door of his wee poopit had been
altered, so as to swing the contrary way to what it did before; and as
it stood wide open, fronting him edgeways, it was as clean and
invisible as if it had been the blade of a knife; so that although the
blind body had as usual his twa paws extended and stuck out before him,
one holding his Bible and the other his pitchpipe, he ran smack up
against the edge, clipping the leaf of the door with an outspread arm
on each side of it, and thereby received such a _devel_, that his nose
was bashed, and the sneck sank into his forehead, as if he had been
struck with a butcher's hatchet.  Down fell auld Durie Squake, with a
grunt and a squelch, on his back.  'Losh preserve me!  I aye kenned I
had a lang nose, but surely it's langer this blessed Sabbath than
common!'

"He was helped up and hame by two o' the elders, and being a
thick-skulled creature, he was soon repaired by the farrier in the
village, so as to be maist as gude as new, no being muckle worth at his
best, and he was at his wark again in no time; but although his skull
was sound, his voice was a wee cracked for ever after; and now the
question came, what was to be done for a precentor that blessed day?  A
neighbouring minister, the excellent Mr Clour, of the parish of
Thistledoup, was to preach, and by this time in the poopit, and he
could sing none, I kenned; as for auld Mr Bland, our ain pastor, he was
as empty of music as a toom bagpipe; so baith the ministers and their
hearers sat glowering at each other for a guid space, until the uproar
was over, and the bum had subsided, and I was just wondering what was
to be done, when I found something kittle-kittling the crown of my
head.  I sat, it must be known, in a wee bit back jam of a pew, just
before the minister's seat, and my father aside me.  I looked round--it
was the auld minister--'Saunders,' says he, 'your father tells me ye
can sing fine--gae awa wi' ye, my bonny man, into the precentor's
seat.'  I was in an awful taking; the blood rushed to my face, and the
sweat dropped from the point of my nose; nevertheless, I screwed up my
courage, and, like a callant louping into the water to bathe in a cauld
day, I dashed into the Psalm with great bir and success; but the speed
I came puffed up my vanity until it burst, and I had a sair downcome
that day.  For finding that the precentor line was no sae difficult as
I expected, I thought I would shine a bit, and at a solemn pause in the
music aff I went, up and away, intil some fine tirlie-wirlies, which I
could not cannily get out of again.  By and by, the congregation
dropped off one by one, as I ascended, until I was left alone in my
glory.  I started 'even at the sound myself had made,' and looked up to
the roof, at the auld carved wark, above what had been the altar-piece
when the Catholics had the kirk, singing all the while--but a nervous
thought came over me, and suddenly I felt as if I had got screwed in
amongst the roses and ornaments of the auld cornice, without the power
of extricating myself; and how to get home again into the _Bangor_,
that I had left so recklessly, I could not divine.  At length, as my
variations were nearly exhausted, Willie Johnston's auld colley, Snap,
deliberately walked up the aisle, and cocking himself on end, raised
his voice and joined in chorus.  This speedily brought me to a
stand-still, for Balaam could not have been more amazed when his ass
spoke than I was; besides, I saw the folk were all laughing, until some
one of them took advantage of the pause to skirl up the original tune
once more, and faith but I was glad to join them.

"It was the fashion in our parish, at this time of the year, to give
two sermons at one sitting, but auld Mr Clour had only brought one, and
our ain minister being as hoarse as a raven, there was nothing for it
but that Mr Clour should split his in two.  Indeed, I heard him say, as
they walked into the kirkyard together--'Well, friend Bland, if I maun
preach twa sermons, while I hae only yin in my pouch, and nane in my
head, they must just be of the shortest, for I can manage no other way
than by halving it; however, I'll gie them a gude bit screed of a psalm
to sough awa at after the first half, and that will help us 'ayont the
twall,' as Burns says, before we begin to the second.

"The first sermon passed over, and when he gave out the Psalm that was
to be the resting-place, the half-way house between the wings of his
discourse, what was my dismay, to find that he, with all the coolness
in life, read out six long verses!  My mouth was dry enough, and my
throat husky enough with my previous discomfiture, Heaven knows; but I
whistled away until I got to the line about 'a dry parched land,
wherein no waters be,' when my voice fairly failed me a'thegither.  I
made a desperate struggle, but there was nae mair sound in me than in a
clarionet without the reed, or a child's bawbee whistle blawn dumb on
the first day of the fair.  So I waited for a while, and again set to,
but my screech was this time a mixture of the cry of the corncraik and
the hissing of a goose; besides, I had lost the tune, and nane of the
congregation could find it, so I squeeled and sweltered about, until
the haill kirk and pews, and the folk in them, danced before my eyes,
and I could not tell whether I was on my head or my heels.  At length I
croaked out, '_Vox faucibus hæsit, domine--Vox faucibus hæsit_.  As
sure's death, I can sing nane until somebody gives me a drink of
water.'  At this moment I felt a slap on the cheek, which made me start
and turn round, and there was the auld minister leaning ower the front
of his pulpit, and girning at me like Auld Nick himsell.  'Deevil's in
the callant; has he lost the _fang_[1] already, wi' skirling up the
Psalm but for yae half hour?'  This drave me demented altogether, so
making a rush from the precentor's desk, I stumbled down into my
father's seat, who was lying with his head on his blue bonnet, peching
and perspiring with utter shame and vexation.  _I never tried the
precentor line again_.


[1] A pump is said to have _lost the fang_ in Scotland, when the sucker
won't draw.


"Mv father's circumstances continued to improve, and at last he found
himself in a condition to send me to Edinburgh itsell, to study for the
kirk; and there I continued for three years more, during session
time;--after which I returned home a licentiate of the Church of
Scotland no less, but with the immediate purpose of succeeding the old
schoolmaster of Lincomdodie, who had about this period been gathered to
his fathers.

"When I arrived, a proud man was my father of me and my acquirements;
and from that time forth, he had morning and evening service every day
in his family--a thing he never had before, except on Sunday.

"And, oh! there was one that welcomed me back, with a smile and a tear,
and a trembling of the tongue, and a heaving of her beautiful bosom,
that was dearer, far dearer to me than father or friends, although I
had a warm heart for them too.  It was Jessy Miller, the only daughter
of Rob Miller the carrier's widow, a tall fair-skinned lassie, with
raven locks, and dark hazel eyes, and a face and figure with which none
of the village girls could compare.

"'Ye are welcome home again, Saunders--heartily welcome; and you'll be
glad to hear that the young leddies at the hall--the laird's sisters,
ye ken--have been very kind to me and my mother baith, and that I go up
there every day to work for them; and they have made me many a handsome
present, as you see, Saunders, and many a good book have they sent me;
and the young laird, Mr Adderfang, has come hame, ye will have
heard,'--I started, for I had not heard it,--'and he is really very
civil to us also.'  We were speaking in a little bit green, at the
western-most end of the village.  There was a clump of horse chestnuts
behind us, through which the breeze was rushing with a rustling sough,
but it was neither strong enough nor loud enough to drown the buzzing,
or rather moaning noise of the numberless bees that were gathering
honey from its blossoms, for it was in June; or the rushing murmur of
the clear sparkling burnie, that wimpled past at our feet, with a bit
crazy wooden brig across it, beyond which a field of hay, ready for the
scythe, was waving in the breeze, with the shadows of the shreds of
summer clouds sailing along its green undulations, as they racked
across the face of the sun.

"At the moment when the mention of the young laird's name by Jessy
Miller, for he was known to be a wild graceless slip, had sent the
blood back to my heart with a chill--a larger cloud than any that had
gone before threw its black shadow over where we sat, while all around
was blithe breeze and merry sunshine.  It appeared to linger--I took
Jessy's hand, and pointed upwards.  I thought she shrank, and that her
fingers were cold and clammy.  She tried to smile, but it ended in a
faint hysterical laugh, as she said,--'Saunders, man, ye're again at
your vagaries, and omens, and nonsense; what for do ye look that gate
at me, man?'

"'I canna help it, Jessy--no, for the soul of me, I cannot--why does
the heaven frown on you and me only, when it smiles on all things
beside?'

"'Hoot, it's but a summer cloud, and ye're a fule; and there--there
it's gane, ye see--there, see if it hasna sailed away over the breezy
hay field, beyond the dyke there--come and help me ower it,
man--come,'--and once more I looked in her bright eyes undoubtingly,
and as I lifted her over the grey stones, I pressed her to my heart, in
the blessed belief and consciousness that she was my ain Jessy Miller
still.

"All the summer I officiated as helper to the excellent Mr Bland, our
parish minister--his nephew, who was appointed to fill the situation
permanently, being still on the continent as tutor in a nobleman's
family, nor did he return until the autumn.

"Although I never expected to have a kirk of my own, yet preaching was
at this time a pleasure to me--for my intellect was strong and clear,
health good, and spirits buoyant; my heart being at ease, and Jessy
Miller loving and faithful.

"And was it not a proud thing for a parritch-fed laddie like me, to get
the argument a' to mysell for a hail forenoon, and to lay down the law
to all the gentry of the country, and maybe a lord among them; and to
gie them their kail through the reek, and cry 'anathema maranatha'
against the vices of the rich--the temptations whereto, if the truth
maun be told, I never kenned; while nane o' them dared so much as open
his mouth to reply to me?

"But I had ae redeeming virtue in their eyes, for, although whiles
dogmatic, I was never so downright indiscreet as to inflict lang
sermons on them--a thing great folk canna thole--a half-hour till the
preachment, and a quarter till the prayer, being my maximum; never
forgetting, that a good practical sermon should be like a jigot o' wee
blackfaced Highland mutton, short in the shank, and pithy, and
nutritious, which every body can digest something o', frae the fistling
restless callant, wi' a clue in his breeks, till the auld staid elder,
wha hears ye oot as steadily--teuch as ben-leather though you may
be--as if his tail were Tam Clink's anvil.  So, putting the shortness
o' the screed against the bitterness o' the flyte, my popularity on the
whole greatly increased.--Thus mollified by success, I grew sae bland
and gentle in my disposition, that I could never even skelp ony o' my
wee scholars without a tear in my eye; so that I verily believe if I
could have shoved the dull creatures on by applying the tause to my
ain--loof instead of theirs, I would have willingly done so.

"But soon a wee bit cloud cam o'er me; for I began about this time to
be sair fashed with a great income."

[I laid down the manuscript--"sair fashed with an income--I say,
Lennox"--I saw the marine in his steward-room at the moment--"Why,
Lennox, construe me this, if you please--'sair fashed with an
income,'--that is more than ever I have been, if I take you up rightly;
but explain, if you please--was your income so _very_ great?"

"Indeed, sir, it was large enough to lame me for six months!"

I stared--"An income so large that it lamed you for six months--oh, you
lived high--gout, I suppose?"

"Na, na, sir--I had never any title to gout, nor any of my forbears;
but it was not the size of the tumor that was the worst of it; for it
contracted the sinews and muscles of my left leg to such a degree,
that, after I had hobbled on crutches for six weeks, I was at last
fairly driven to stump it on a stick leg, although, Heaven be thanked,
I recovered entirely in a year's time."

The poor fellow saw I was laughing; and apparently uncertain as to
whether I comprehended him or not, he said--"An income is a tumour,
sir; and mine was a very bad ane."

"Oh, I see, I see; but tell me this, Lennox--You speak very good
English; and, from all I can hear, you write it correctly--how came
you, therefore, to have indited your sorrows in your north country
Doric?"

"Mair graphic, sir--I had an eye to publish, sir."

"Now, I understand--thank you"--and I resumed my study of the
manuscript.]

"But I had my ain misgivings that Jessy would flee aff frae me, after
all, now that I was a lameter, and I watched my opportunity to ask her
frankly and fairly, 'whether we were to hold to our plighted troth,
that we should be man and wife whenever I had laid by an hundred pounds
from the school (I had already fifty), or that the calamity which had
come over me'----I could scarcely speak here, for something rose up in
my full breast, like a cork in a bottle that you are filling with
water, and stuck in my thrapple like to choke me--; or that the
calamity that had come over me, was to snap our vows in twain--and,
Jessy Miller, I here declare, in the presence of our Maker, if it has
wrought such change in you, I release you freely--freely--although it
should break my heart, I release you.'

"The poor girl's hand, as I spoke, grew colder and colder, and her
cheek paler and paler, until she fairly sank on her knees on the auld
grey moss-grown stone that covered the muirland grave of the
Covenanters, situated about a mile from Lincomdodie, where we happened
to be at the time.  It was now the gloaming the setting sun was flaming
up in the red west, and his last ray fell on the beautifully rounded
form of the fair lassie, and sparkled on the tear that stole down her
cheek, as she held up one hand to Heaven, and grasped mine with the
other.

"'Saunders Skelp, wi' ae leg or twa, or without a leg of ony kind--if
ever I prove faithless to you--may'----

"'Hillo, Dominie--Dominie Skelp--you're a nice young man, I _don't_
know.'

"I started--Jessy shrieked, and rising, threw herself into my arms--and
as I turned round, who should be ascending the hill, and now within a
few yards of us, but the young laird himself--as handsome and buirdly a
chiel as you would see in ten thousand!

"'Did that cloud come ower us at the side of the hay-field that day for
naething, Jessy?'  She could not answer me.  The sun set, and one or
two heavy drops of rain fell, and the lift darkened--ay, and something
darker and drearier stole across my brain than the shadows which now
began to settle down on the fair face of external nature.  My heart
fluttered for a moment, then made long irregular throbs, and finally I
became dizzy and faint, and almost fell to the ground with Jessy in my
arms.  'Was I, in very truth, in the presence of an evil spirit?' said
I to myself.

"'Why,' said the young gentleman, 'what has come over you, Saunders?  I
won't tell, man--so keep your own secret, and nobody will be a whit the
wiser.'

"'Secret, sir!' said I, deeply stung; 'secret--I have nane,
sir--nane--that I love the lassie, the haill parish kens, and I am not
ashamed of it; but if you--ay, you, sir, or _any_ man, dares'----

"'Heyday--dares!  What do you mean by that, Master Skelp?--Dares!'

"My recollection and self-possession returned at this moment.

"'I beg pardon, sir; I have been taken by surprise, and in my anxiety
to vindicate Jessy from all suspicion, I have been very uncivil to you.
I am sorry for it.'

"The abjectness of this apology caused me to blush to the eyes, but it
was made, as I thought, to serve my heart-dear girl, and gulping down
my chagrin and wounded pride, I turned to go away.

"'Well, well, Dominie, I forgive you, man, and I _believe_ there is
nothing wrong between you two after all.  I only spoke in jest, man,
and am in turn sorry to have given you pain; so gie's your
hand--there--and I must have a kiss from Miss Miller, the darling, or I
never shall believe that you have both really and truly forgiven me.'

"We returned together to the village.  I would willingly have shaken
off the youngster, but he insisted on seeing Jessy home, and as I had
no plea to prevent him, I submitted in great bitterness of spirit.

"The next day he departed for London, to my great solace, and we heard
nothing of him for several months, so I once more buckled to my
schoolmaster's labours with a light heart; and if my friends did not
flatter me, I also greatly improved in my preaching.

"At first, before I had confidence in my ain power and presence of
mind, I slavishly wrote down all my sermons, and read them still more
servilely, never trusting my finger neb off the manuscript, as if I had
been frichtened it would have ta'en wing and flown away from under my
nose; but I gradually began to trust mysell away in a wee bit flicht
now and then, like a half-fledged shillfa[2] with the puddock-hair on,
hopping about its nest, but always ready to drop into it again, as I
was into the written discourse.


[2] Chaffinch.


"I soon found that the parts of my preachments that were maist liked
were generally the very bits thus struck off _extempore_; so in time I
took heart of grace, and only wrote down the _heads_.  Before autumn I
even gave this up, and began to preach even on and boldly, without
scrap or note of any kind or description whatever.

"That there are many eloquent men who cannot trust their memories, and
have all their lives to preach written sermons, is most true; but where
a man of talent _can_ preach _extempore_, rely upon it, he will be more
eloquent and impressive than if he had undergone the drudgery of
inditing the discourse before hand.

"And so it was with me, even me Saunders Skelp; for, from the very
first, when per force I had to write down my sermons, still even then I
found my genius cribbed and confined, and held down in its soarings and
highest aspirations by the written _thread_ of my discourse, like a
string round the leg of a tame pyot; or if, in a moment of inspiration,
I did break away, it was at the peril of getting into another vein of
thocht a'thegither, which I aften found cruel kittle to dovetail
cleverly into the plain jog-trot of what lay beneath my nose on the
pulpit cushion; so, finding I made but a botched business of it so long
as I halted between the two opinions, I resolutely determined to write
nae mair for ever.

"But in the pride of my heart at my early success, I will not conceal
that I grew about this time rather overly energetic, and my feelings
whiles outran my discretion; but I had a good friend and excellent
Mentor in auld Earl M----, the principal heritor in the parish.

"Seeing his lordship in his pew--for he didna come to the kirk every
Sabbath--one fine clear day, when I was to preach, I thought I would
astonish him a wee bit; but, as it turned out, I was mysell the maist
astonished of the twa.  It was a beautiful summer's day.  I had
scarcely ever seen the outline of the mountain that overhung the
village so hard and clear and sharply defined, as it hove up and out,
high into the cold pure blue of the cloudless sky.  The misty cap that
usually concealed the bald peak, had blown off before the fresh breeze
that rustled cheerily among the twittering leaves; disclosing the grey
scalp, the haunt of the gled and the eagle, with the glittering streaks
of unmelted but not unsunned snow filling the wrinkle-like storm rifts,
whose ice-fed streamlets loomed in the distance, still and fixed like
frozen gouts of pure sea foam, but lower down sparkled in the sun,
flowing with a perceptible motion, as if the hoary giant had been
shedding glad tears of dropping diamonds.

"Still nearer, the silver chainlets of their many rills were welded
into one small waterfall, that leapt from its rocky ledge, white as the
wreaths that fed it; bending and wavering in the breeze, and gradually
thinning as it fell, until it blew off in smoke like the Grey Mare's
Tail, and vanished altogether, scarcely moistening the black and
moss-grown stones of the shallow basin beneath.  Below this, and
skirting the dry region of shingle, the paired moorfowl, for the
cheepers hadna taken wing yet, were whirring amang the purple heather,
that glowed under the bright sunlight, as if the mountain had been
girdled in with a ruby zone; while farther down, the sheep bleating to
their lambs powdered the whole green hillside, like pearls sprinkled on
a velvet mantle.

"The kine were lowing in the valley, as they stood kneedeep in the cool
burn, whisking away the flies, under the vocal shadow of the
overhanging _saughs_.  The grey heron was floating above the spung from
spring to spring, from one dark green tuft of rushes to another, so
ghostlike, that you could not tell it from its shadow; the birds were
singing among the trees; the very crackling of the furze pods in the
sun had an exhilarating and joyous sound; and the drowsy and moaning
hum of the myriads of bees, that floated into the wee auld kirk through
the open window from the plane-trees that overshadowed it, dangerous as
the sound wad hae been to a prosy preacher on a sultry Sabbath, was, in
my vainglory, but a soothing melody to me: for in my vainglory I said
to mysell, there _shall_ be nae sleeping here this day.  There was
happiness in the very cawing of the rooks in the auld trees of the
kirkyard, as they peered down at us with eyes askance, as much as to
say, 'ay, freens, there's nae gun amang ye the day.'

"The farmers came along cracking blithely as they looked over the sea
of waving grain, now in ear, and fast bronzing under the genial sun,
that covered the whole strath; the trouts were glancing and louping at
the grey flies, and the ducks of the villagers were flaffing and
squattering in the burn where the lassies were washing their feet,
glancing like silver amang the sparkling wimples of the clear yet
moss-browned water, and putting on their shoes and stockings,
preparatory to their entering the sanctuary, therein differing from the
heathen, who cast off their slippers at the threshold.  Auld Widow
Miller hersell, sober sedate body, was _heckling_ with Tam Clink the
blacksmith, as she came along by the holly hedge; even the hard-worked
carrier's horses, with their galled backs and shoulders, and the very
banes sticking through their flanks, were frisking awkwardly with their
iron joints (like so many of their wooden scaffold-supporting namesakes
bewitched), in clumsy imitation of the beautiful filly there, and
neighing on the other side of the hedge from you, speaking as plain as
Balaam's ass that the Sabbath was for them also; ay, when the very
Spirit of God himself seemed visibly abroad on the smiling face of the
glad earth, I could not help exclaiming--'Surely, my friends, we cannot
err greatly, if we veil our faces and retreat in such a day as this
from before the thunders, and darkness, and earthquake of Sinai, the
Mountain of the Lord, and wander away out of the bitterness and acrid
atmosphere of the desert, 'where the Heaven over our heads is brass,
and the earth under our feet iron, and the rain of the land powder and
dust,' into the quiet and fertile valleys and pure skies of Canaan; and
there, amongst the loveliness and freshness of nature, with hearts
swelling with gratitude to _Him_, and love to our brethren of mankind,
dwell on _His_ attributes of goodness and mercy, with mixed adoration
and trembling, and endeavour to sing his praises in the spirit, and
with the glorious imagery of David.--Shall all the beasts of the
field,' I continued, warming with my subject,--'shall all the beasts of
the field, and fowls of the air, and fishes, yea, shall all creatures,
animate and inanimate, praise the Lord for his goodness, with one
universal burst of joy; and shall man alone, while he worships with
fear and trembling, not mingle with the groan of his just humiliation a
shout of heartwarm and heartfelt gratitude to the Almighty Dispenser of
all this happiness around him?'

"For a quarter of an hour after this I carried on fine, and was
delighted to spy the auld earl's looks, of approval with the corner of
my ee, the joy whereof drave me off my guard; for at a well-turned
period, when I intended to bring my right hand down thump on the open
Bible, I missed it, and smote the new elastic pulpit cushion instead,
with such vehemence, that the old brazen-clasped Psalm-book spanged up,
and out over into the air.  'Kep!' cried I; whereupon auld Durie
Squake, the precentor, upturned his face, and thereby caught such a
bash on the nose, that baith the lozens were dang out of his barnacles.
'Oh Lord, my sair nose!' (it had not recovered the blow against the
door, as already related), 'oh Lord! my sair nose is clean demolished
now--I maun get legs to my specs--for the brig's brak, and flattened in
on my face like a pancake!'  I tried to get back into my discourse, but
I was awfully flurried, and as, not knowing what I did, I let fly
another whack on the desk, his lordship, who, I could observe, even in
the swelter of my confusion, was laughing to himsell, turned up his
gaisened pheesiognomy, and _girned_ out--'I say, my lad, if ye break
it, ye'll pay for't.'  This put me daft--clean wud a'thegether--and I
drave along at so furious a rate, and stamped with my stick-leg on the
stool that I stood on with such vehemence, that in my confusion down I
slipped; and the bottom of the pulpit being auld and frush, the wooden
tram flew crash through, and I vanished, the iron-shod end striking
Durie Squake, the devoted precentor, such a crack on the tap of the
head, that I thought I had felled him clean.  'Oh dear! oh dear!'
roared Squake; 'the callant has first bashed my neb as saft as pap' (he
was a wabster to his trade), 'and broken my spectacles, and noo he has
fractured my skull with his d--d stick-leg.'  I struggled to extricate
the tram, but it stuck fast, until Tam Clink, the blacksmith, gave the
end of it, as it protruded into Durie Squake's desk, such a bang with
his great heavy hand, as if it had been his forehammer, that he shot me
up with a jerk like a 'Jack in the box,' into the sight of the
astonished congregation again.

"I sat down utterly discomfited, and, covering my face with my hands,
wept bitterly.

"A murmur ran through the kirk, and I could hear whispers of 'Puir
callant, gie him time to collect his thochts--gie him time--he's a
clever lad Saunders--he'll be a' richt presently.'  I took heart of
grace at this demonstration of good and kindly feeling amongst my
fellow-parishioners, and making a strong effort, yet with a face like
crimson--my lugs were burning like red-hot iron--I finished my
discourse, and dismissed the congregation.  As I passed out of the
churchyard gate, I found the old lord there; it was a warm day, and he
was sitting on a tombstone under the shade of the auld elm-tree, with
his hat off, and wiping his forehead with his handkerchief, apparently
waiting for his carriage to drive up.  'Ca' canny, man,' said he, as I
approached--'Ca' canny, Saunders--dinna _rive_ folk alang the road to
heaven at that rate, man.'

"'My lord, I was seduced intil that exuberance to-day against my better
judgment.  It was the vanity of making an appearance before you, my
lord, when I ought to have been thinking only of my Maker and the
Gospel, and I have determined to humble my pride by making this
acknowledgment; but I have had a sair downcome, my lord, as you saw
this morning, and I deserved it.'

"'Well, well, Saunders; but Durie Squake had the worst of the
_downcome_, I'm thinking.  However, let it be a lesson to you never to
prostrate yourself so abjectly before a fellow-creature again, even if
he should be a lord, Saunders; but as you are a lad of talent, and I
have a regard for you, you must get over this mortification speedily,
lest it rankle and spoil your usefulness, for I see you are a sensitive
creature.  So I'll gang down to the manse and rest my sell, and come
back in the afternoon, when I will ask Mr Bland to let you preach
again.  So awa' wi' ye, Saunders; ca' in yere scattered thochts,
Saunders--and tell Moses, as you pass Lucky Mutchkin's public, to put
up the horses again.  Awa' wi' ye, Saunders Skelp.'

"'Na, na, my lord--you are very kind, and I am greatly beholden to your
lordship; but I canna--I canna hand up my head in the poopit again, so
soon after my signal dis'----

"'Haud yere tongue, Saunders--ye're a fule.  Gang till your room and
cogitate, for preach you must and shall, this very day, and be d--d
till ye.  The dominie's gane mad a'thegither, I declare.'

"I took my excellent patron's advice, and although unco blate at first,
I gained courage as I warmed with my subject, so that by the time I cam
till the blessing, I was myself again; and having thus got over my
mortification, I never afterwards sae far forgot myself as I had done
that blessed morning."

But the humour of the following extract, which explains itself,
surpasses either of the former in my estimation:--

"Next morning was the annual examination of my school, at which three
ministers, one of them the celebrated Dr Soorock, were to be present,
and the same passed over creditably to myself and scholars; and the
doctor was very kind and condescending to the whole of us.  He was the
means of my being invited this day to dinner by Mr Bland.  After the
examination, we had walked a mile into the country together, enjoying
the delight of the schoolboys, who had gotten a half holiday on the
occasion, and were now rampaging about, like young colts broke loose,
some jumping, some playing at football, others at shinty, while several
were fishing in the burn, that twinkled past as clear as crystal; and
we were returning home to the manse, when Earl M----'s equipage
appeared, coming along the small bridge that crossed a bend of the
stream beyond the village.  Presently it was hid by the trees round the
manse, and then glanced on this side of them, until the houses again
concealed it.  In another moment it rattled sharply round the corner,
when the old earl desired his postilions to walk their horses until he
met us.  The moment Doctor Soorock saw the carriage go slow, he
accelerated _his_ motion, and stepped out and away before Mr Bland and
Mr Clour, salaaming with his hat in one hand, and his gold-headed cane
in the other, in rather too abject a style, in my estimation, for _one
who had a kirk already_.  His lordship was still at pistol-shot
distance, and the doctor was striding on, uncovered, with his eyes
riveted on the carriage, when his foot caught on the projecting steps
of the schoolhouse door, and away he went, his stick flying through the
window, smashing the glass down in a tinkling shower--his hat into the
neighbouring pigsty, and his wig into the burn that ran by the
road-side.

"'Run, boys, run,' said I, as I helped him up,--'run and catch the
doctor's wig,' as it floated away down the stream, like a hedgehog
covered with meal.

"'Geordie,' cried one little fellow, 'hook the wig with your fly,
man--hook the wig with your fly.'

"'Allan is fishing with bait, his hooks are bigger,' quoth Geordie.

"'Fling, Allan, man, fling--one gude cast, and you have it.'

"They both missed, and the wig continued floating down until it swam
amongst a flock of village ducks, who instantly squattered away from
it, as if it had been an otter.

"'Cast a stane intil't, or it will soom to Berwick before nicht,' said
wee Tam.

"'Cast a stane intil't, Allan, man; you mark weel,' roared Geordie
again.

"Flash--one stone pitched into the burn, close to it, and half filled
the wig with water.  It was pretty well saturated before, so that when
another flew with better aim right into it, it instantly sank, and
disappeared in the Dominie's Hole, as the pool was called.  What was to
be done?  There was a spate had suddenly come down the water, and there
was no seeing into the bottom of the pool; besides, there was not a
creepy in the village, so the doctor gave his wig up for lost, as well
he might, and had to cover the nakedness of the land for that day with
one of Mr Eland's Kilmarnock nightcaps.  He bore his misfortune, I will
say, with great equanimity; and in the evening we all once more
resorted to the schoolhouse, to hear the boys sing, led by auld Durie
Squake.

"We had taken our seats, a number of the villagers in their best; auld
Durie had sounded his pitch-pipe, and the bits of callants were
watching him with open mouth, all ready to open in full cry, like a
pack of young hounds waiting for old Jowler's deep tongue, when the
candle at his desk was suddenly blown out, and I called out in Latin,
seeing that some of the bigger boys were close to it, '_Quid hac rei?_'
Wee Tam Stump at this louped off his seat with great energy, fearing he
was about to be blamed: 'Ventus played puff, Dominie, ex that broken
window, et extinxit the candle.'  We had all a good laugh at this, and
nothing more happened to disturb the harmony of the evening, until
Allan Harden came running up the stairs, with a salmon lister in one
hand, and a great dripping divot-looking thing on the top of it.

"'What kept ye so late?' said I; 'you are seldom late, Allan.'

"'I hae been dabbing with the lister the haill evening for Doctor
Soorock's wig, sir; but I have speared it at last--_ecce signum_!
Dominie.'

"A tiny buzz ran amongst the boys; auld Clour keckled audibly, and Mr
Bland could scarcely keep his gravity, as Dr Soorock stirred the soaked
mass that Allan had cast on the floor with the end of his cane,
exclaiming--'My wig--my wig, did the callant say?  It canna be my wig.'

"'Indeed it is yours, sir; there's nae wale o' wigs here,' said the
handsome boy, blushing deeply--'if you but try it on, sir, ye'll find
it sae.'

"The wig was finally turned over to the auld barber at the village, who
dried it, but the doctor had to go home in the Kilmarnock on the
following day, as the scratch was ruined for ever."

Now, a small touch at the Dominie in the "melting mood," and we bear up
again on our cruise.  He had returned to the parish, after having
completed his education, such as it was.

"Months passed away without any thing worth notice occurring.  I met
Jessy often, and although some doubts and misgivings as to the state of
her heart did come over me, and shake mine sometimes, still my anxiety
to acquire the plighted hundred pounds diverted my mind from allowing
the doubt to fester, by confining my attention chiefly to the school.
Besides, the young laird, who was now studying the law in Edinburgh,
came seldomer down to the auld castle than was his wont; so that
altogether I began to attribute any little apparent coldness in Jessy's
demeanour, either to my own fancy, or to being piqued by the unjustness
of my former suspicions.  Thus I struggled on, in the hope that the sum
might be made up during the next summer at latest, until which time my
pride counselled me to be silent.

"The long dreary winter drew on apace.  The leaves became sere, and
fell, and were whirled in rustling eddies along the hollows of the
small woodland paths about the village,--and the bleak north howled on
the hill-side, and moaned and soughed through the trees, and round the
house,--and the herds began to fold their flocks in the evenings.  One
night, in particular, was marked in my memory indelibly by what
occurred the morning after it.  It was late in November, and the
weather for several days previous had been rough and boisterous, but on
this particular evening it had cleared.  The full moon shone brightly
as I returned from the county town, with a wallet of wee books for my
youngest class, which I had bought there that afternoon.  It was eleven
at night as I got to the bridge across the stream which ran past the
village; I was glouring down over the little parapet wall into the
glancing water, that rushed and murmured through below the arch, and
listening to the melancholy bleating of the sheep on the hill above me,
and to the low bark of the colleys, and the distant shout of the herds,
as the last of the stragglers were got within the circular folds, far
up on the moor.  Again I would look towards the village, where scarce a
light twinkled, except in Tam Clink the blacksmith's shop, where every
now and then a primrose-coloured jet of flame puffed up, and flashed on
the blacksmith's begrimed face and hairy chest, and naked arms, and on
wee Pate Clink's bit dirty face and curly pow, as the callant worked at
the bellows; but the fire suddenly gaed out, and the sparks flew from a
red-hot bar in all directions, under the powerful stroke of the
blacksmith himsell, until the hissing iron became of a dull red, and
gradually disappeared from my eye altogether.  Presently the strokes
ceased--the groaning and asthmatic wheezing of the bellows
subsided--and the noise of the man locking the door of his small shop
showed that the last of the villagers had finished the labours of the
day; and I had time to notice that snow was beginning to fall.

"I got home, and let myself in without disturbing my auld father, and
slept soundly till daylight next morning.

"There was none of the villagers asteer when I got up.  A sprinkling of
snow, as already mentioned, had fallen during the night, which had been
so calm, that the white veil which covered the dying face of nature was
unsoiled and without a rent, over all the level country; and the road
through the village was one unbroken sheet of the purest white,
unpolluted as yet by a single footstep--what do I say? there was _one_
footprint there, the recollection of which is indelible from my brain,
as the mark on Cain's forehead.

"As I opened the door to step forth, I noticed the mark of a man's
foot, as if some one had come down the small lane, that ran at right
angles with the road, and past the end of the house, towards the little
projecting steps in front of the door.  'Well,' thought I--'well--it
may have been my father's, or some one of the villagers may have been
earlier up than I apprehended;' and I stepped on, wondering in my own
mind what made me notice the steps at all.  'But I am a fool, for one
does notice the footprints after the first fall of snow of the season
with an interest that we cannot always account for,' said I to myself,
as I stepped into the path that led to the school, where I was going to
light the fire.  I again started as I looked down, for I now noticed,
to my surprise, that the footprints exactly resembled my own, with the
round mark of the ring at the end of my stick-leg distinct in the snow.
'Why, I did not come this way home, did I?' again communed I with
myself; 'certainly I did not; and there was no snow when I came from
the school, before I set out for the town.  How came these footprints
here?--what can it mean?' and mechanically I traced them as far as I
could, until the mark of the wooden leg suddenly vanished, and was
replaced by the print of a boot or shoe, for a few paces farther; when
the marks disappeared altogether, as if the person had turned off
suddenly through a gap in the hedge.  I was a good deal startled at all
this--Could I have been walking in my sleep?--This was scarcely
credible; I had never done so, and if I had, which I could not believe,
how came my shrunk leg to be miraculously straightened on the instant?
For whatever it was, man or spirit, it must have stumped along for
fifty yards on a leg of flesh, and a tram of wood, and then suddenly
have dropped the agency of the latter, and turned sharp into the fields
on two feet, such us everyday men wear; besides, the person, whoever he
was, wore iron-heeled square-toed boots or shoes; and I saw no mark of
my own tackets, or round _brogue_-like toes.

"I walked on until I came to the steps of the schoolroom, in a brown
study, with the crisp new-fallen snow crunching beneath my tread, and I
had nearly given a second edition of Doctor Soorock's downfall before I
fairly awoke to the routine of this sublunary world, and betook myself
to the unromantic occupation of lighting the fire.  I sat down and took
up the bellows, but it seemed I had forgotten to make use of them; for
there I had been cowering by the ingle-cheek near an hour, pondering in
my own mind what the footprints could mean, and quite unconscious all
this time that the morning, in place of getting lighter, had settled
down very dark.  The wind had also suddenly risen, and the branches of
the auld elm that overshadowed the schoolhouse were groaning and
rasping on the ridge of the roof; and Betty Mutchkin's sign, that hung
on the opposite side of the road from a long projecting beam, as if it
had been a flag, was swinging and creaking on its rusty hinges before
the angry gusts, as they tore down the small valley.  At length I was
startled by the fury with which a hail shower dashed against the window
at my lug, utterly demolishing in a minute the sheet of brown paper
with which, until the village glazier sobered, and got a pane from
Edinburgh, I had _battered_ up the fracture occasioned by Dr Soorock's
cane, when he was humbling himself, and bowing down before the golden
coronet on auld Earl M----'s carriage.

"'Dear me,' said I, 'what a day!  It's but gloomy without, and I'm no
sure that it's very cheery within; for there's a weight that has been
lang accumulating at my heart, and now it has grown heavy, heavy.  The
lift will clear, and the spring will come again, and all nature, as if
risen from the grave, as we puir deevils hope to do, will resume its
primeval beauty; but a seared heart, a blighted soul,'--and I gave a
heavy sigh, while the very bellows on my knees seemed suddenly to
collapse of themselves, as if in sympathy, and to puff out an echo to
my groan.

"I felt a rough shake on the shoulder.  'What _are_ you sitting
groaning at there, Dominie?' said my father, who had entered unseen and
unheard--'what are you grunting and graning at the fireside on such a
morning as this for, Saunders, when you should have had a bit cheery
fire in the ingle for the drookit school-callants to dry themselves at,
instead of dreaming with the bellows on your knee, and the fire black
out?'

"I looked, and it was even so.  'I dinna ken, father, I am ill at ease;
but if I am spared'----

"'Nonsense!' quoth the hasty old sutor; 'get up, Saunders, and clap a
fresh spunk to the fire, whether you're spared or no, or I'll tak ye
siccan a clamhewit with my stick,'----The good old man the next moment,
however, saw how it was with me, and relenting said--'but come awa hame
like a decent callant, and tak yere breakfast, man; and you will have
scrimp time to eat it, let me tell you, for see,'--pulling out an old
turnip-shaped horologe, with great steel hands--'it is within the
twenty minutes of school-time already.'

"I made an effort, lighted the fire again, and rousing myself, went
forth with him towards our dwelling.  The snow was fast disappearing
under the pelting of a heavy shower of sleet, that had succeeded the
hailstorm, and a loud clap of thunder shook the firmament as we arrived
at home.  I started--'It's no common to hear thunder at this time o'
year, father.'

"'Come in and tak your breakfast, sir--the deevil's in the gaumerell,
that I should say sae.'  I did so in silence, and returned to the
school, where I found myself without my hat, my hair wet and dripping,
and the back of my neck chilled, from the lodging of the hail within
the cape of my coat.

"One of my dreamy fits had again come over me, which, however, I
struggled hard to overcome; so I sat down at my small desk, and
unlocked my drawer, from whence I took out the tawse and laid them on
the closed Bible, as a terror to evil-doers; and placing my watch
beside them, I waited the entry of my scholars.  First one wee drooked
chiel came in, and syne another, but most of them were beyond the time,
for the day was bad, and after they had all taken their places, there
was a perfect volley of hoasting.  I could not skelp any of them for
being late that morning.--About half an hour had elapsed, and I had set
the boys to some task; there was a loud hum in the school, from their
murmuring voices, and I was looking out towards the road, at the
swollen stream, that I saw but last night sparkling and tinkling over
its more than half-dry channel, in a tiny stream that I could have
stepped across, but that now surged along brimful, in a red discoloured
torrent, tearing the trees and pailings, and whatever else it could
reach on its banks away, and rolling them down with such fury, that I
expected to see the arch of the small bridge sink and disappear, like a
wall going down before the strokes of a battering-ram.  A group of the
villagers on the opposite side from where I stood were fishing out the
floating timber for firewood; but my attention was soon attracted to
the carrier's cart from town, that was coming along the road, with auld
Hempy himself--that was the man's name that had succeeded poor Jemmy
Miller in his vocation--and his wee son Andrew, cocked up in the front
of the cart.  The river continued to rise, and covered a bend of the
road, which the cart was now approaching; it entered the water, which
the horse was making flash up in all directions, until it reached the
axle, but it gradually shoaled again, and the vehicle was on the point
of reaching the dry part of the road, when, like a shot, man and boy,
and horse and cart, disappeared amidst the roaring eddies.

"I ran out; the villagers had noticed the accident also; we all hurried
to the spot.  The horse was struggling and snorting, and standing on
his hind legs, between the trams, in a vain attempt to get free from
the cart that was dragging him down the stream, but auld Hempy had
disappeared.

"'What's that?  There's the callant, there's the callant--see his bit
head sooming down the stream like an otter'----

"I saw it, threw off my coat, and plunged in; but the upshot was, that
although Tam Clink the blacksmith saved the _child_, the _dominie_ was
near drowned; for I found to my cost that a stick-leg wasna canny to
soom with, the buoyancy thereof producing a corresponding and very
dangerous depression of the caput.

"We saved the boy; but the horse and cart, and Hempy himsell, were all
drowned; it was the first time, I mind, that I had ever seen a dead
corpse.  The puir auld chiel was a stout buirdly man--he might have
weighed sixteen stone; but when we gat him that forenoon, after the
river had cast him ashore, stark and stiff, and carried him, and laid
him out in the kirk aisle, it was fearful to observe how he had shrunk
in bulk after the water had ran oot o' him; it wasna aften he took
muckle o' that same in, so it was a sure sign he was dead; his stomach
having fallen, had left the arch of his deep chest in fearful relief,
and then the pinching of his blue features and the death-girn on his
upper lip, that showed his twa buck teeth as if in anger--It was a
maist awfu' sicht.

"'What! are you frichtened, Saunders?' said a voice close to me--'are
you frichtened to look on a dead man, dominie?  If you had been in
Paris with me last summer, man, you would have seen a dozen lying every
morning in the Morgue--ay, as nice and caller as if they had been
haddies in a fishmonger's shop.'

"I looked up at the heartless creature.  'He was the father of a
family, Mr Adderfang, and that drooked and shivering callant, that's
greeting there at the head of the corp, is his son; and mair forby, he
was a tenant o' yeer ain, sir, and'----

"He turned fiercely--'Keep your sentimentality for your next sermon,
sir;' and he looked at me with a withering scowl that sent a chill to
my heart.  I felt a blighting of the soul that I would not willingly
have acknowledged--a sort of crushing consciousness, that the person
before me was in very deed my evil genius; but the _consciousness_ of
such a feeling drove me in the present instance to return his savage
look as haughtily as it was given; and I made a sudden motion with my
hand, which made him start back, and grasp the sma' end of his long
hammer-headed hunting whip.--'I say, dominie, I do not _quite_
understand you this morning; but, by G--, sir, if you give me an
opportunity I will read you a lesson that is not in your primer.'--And
he raised his whip threateningly.  He was, as I have before mentioned,
a tall well-put-together man, as we say in Lincumdodie, and far more
than a match for me, at my best, when I had twa legs, and therefore
incomparably my superior in bodily strength and activity, maimed as I
now was.  However, I took no time to consider of all this, but making a
sudden spring, I wrenched his whip from him, and as he swerved from me,
he fell over the trestle whereon the body of the carrier lay, and upset
it, to the great horror of the bystanders; and there lay, side by side,
the living scoffer and the dead corpse.  A murmur of something that
hovered between applause and disapprobation buzzed amongst the group of
villagers; and the wee callant cried loud and bitterly, when, as the
laird was in the act of gathering himself up, Mr Bland himsell entered
the kirk, and with more sternness in his countenance than I had ever
seen there before.

"'Mr Adderfang,' said he to the young man, 'what is the meaning of all
this?--Is it becoming in a gentleman of your rank to desecrate the
House of God by heartless and ill-timed levity, first of all; for I
have heard the story from one of my elders; and then to threaten an
unoffending schoolmaster--ay, sir,'--for here Adderfang seemed on the
point of contradicting the minister--'ay, sir, and, to the credit of
your discretion be it said, a maimed man, too?  Was this decent? was it
gentlemanly?'

"Here the poor wife of the carrier, with her clothes dripping with
water, and splashed with red clay stains from the miry road, without
her mutch, her grey haffits clotted with rain and perspiration over her
blue and shrunken features, and with her lip quivering, rushed into the
church.

"'Whar is he--whar is he--whar is my Willie?'  The instant her eye
rested on the body she gave a long loud shriek, that echoed along the
roof, and fell down on it senseless.  We had the poor woman removed,
and by that time Mr Adderfang had disappeared."

      *      *      *      *      *

But the plot was fast thickening both with the dominie and poor Jessy
Miller.

Widow Miller's humble domicile was divided from the house where our
friend the dominie reposed, by a narrow lane.  It stood three or four
yards back from the frontage of the neighbouring cottages, which
afforded space for a small parterre of flowers, at one time the pride
of poor Jessy's heart, and watered with her own hands; but many a hot
tear had lately trickled on their leaves, down the poor girl's pale and
faded countenance, and strange rumours had become rife in the secluded
village of the flower of the whole strath having been tainted by the
blight of some scoundrel.  Her anxious and altered appearance, and the
evident misery of the poor widow her mother, were melancholy proofs of
the correctness of the surmise.

_Gradually the sough settled down on Saunders Skelp_--for who so likely
to be the cause as the avowed lover of the girl, and, as people
thought, her betrothed husband?

The report of Jessy's misfortune soon reached the person whom it most
concerned.  At first it fairly stunned him, and then such crushing
misery overwhelmed the poor fellow's whole soul, when he became
convinced of its truth, that it nearly drove him mad altogether.

The morning after he had been made acquainted with the heart-breaking
fact, the dominie was sitting dejectedly at the breakfast-table (with
his elbow planted quite unconcernedly in the very middle of the plate
_among the het parritch_), opposite the auld _betherel_,[3] who was
munching his food in silence, and eyeing his son every now and then
with a most vinegar aspect.  At length he broke out--"Braw wark,
dominie--braw wark ye have made o't atween ye."  (The poor fellow
raised his disconsolate visage, and looked innocently in his parent's
face.)  "Ay, you may look surprised Saunders, but that sham sheep face
will no deceive me; for--God forgie me, but I wonder the sicht did not
turn me intil stane--I marked you come out o' Jessy Miller's window
this blessed morning at grey daylicht, stick-leg and grey coat, just as
you sit there, as plain as I see ye the noo."


[3] Betherel, or minister's man.  _Anglice_, beadle.


The poor fellow was roused almost to madness at this unjust and most
cruel aspersion, and denied most vehemently that he had been out of the
house that morning at all.  But the old man _threeped_ that he saw him
bodily stump through the wee garden, and disappear round the corner,
where he had no doubt he had stolen in by the window of his room that
fronted that way, but which he could not see from where he stood.

"It couldna be me, father; as I sall answer to God it wasna me.  My
wraith it may have been."

"If it was _your_ wraith, Saunders, it wasna the wraith o' a
_timmer-leg_? for there are the prints of ane to be seen till this
blessed moment, amang the flowers o' the garden and the glawr of the
lane.  Tam Clink will vouch for this as well as me, for he saw you too."

Saunders, half crazy at this damning tissue of circumstantial, although
false, evidence, rose and went out to satisfy himself.  After
inspecting the foot-marks, for there they were, sure enough, he
returned to the house, and the first thing he did now was to gobble up
his food, scalding hot as it was, as if he had been perishing of
hunger.  He then rose, and was rushing down stairs distractedly--when
lo! who should enter but Mr Bland the minister?

Here there was a new scene of crimination; and the poor creature was
like to have made an end of himself in his despair, for when he seized
the big "ha' Bible," and was about making oath upon it to his
innocence, the minister took it forcibly from him.

"Not in my presence, young man--not before me shall you imprecate the
curse of the Almighty on the head of a perjurer."

"Minister, minister, wad you hae my death--the death maybe of sowl and
body--lie at your door?  Send for Jessy Miller--lost creature as she
is--send for her.  She will not--she cannot condemn me."

"Jessy Miller, sir!--the oath of a limmer like her is no worth a
wunnlestrae."

At this he sprang forth like a wild-beast when the goad is struck into
him, and out to the hill-side, nor did he venture home that night.

Listen.

"The snow had fallen about the dawning, and, benumbed with cold, I was
returning from my night-lair on the damp hill-side towards the village,
with a determination to flee the bounds thereof, after once more trying
to undeceive my auld father; for it was a dreary thocht to travel forth
burdened with my ain misery, and the heavy load of a father's curse
forby.  As I came down the small lane, and got my first glimpse of
Widow Miller's house, I stopped to take a last look at the bit bourock
that sheltered her for whom, only twa days gane, I would have shed my
reddest heart's-blood rather than sin or sorrow should have scathed
her, or come near her dwelling.  It was as yet scrimp daylight, naebody
was stirring.  The only indication of life (barring the twittering of
the birdies in the trees, and the crowing of the cocks) was a thread of
blue peat smoke rising from a cottage in the village, here and there;
but the east was fast reddening, when lo! I saw the window of Jessy's
room open gently, and, _what shall I say--what did I see_--but a
wooden-leg, so sure as I was a sinful man, protrude therefrom!  I went
blin'--I went blin';--as I saw mysell, grey frock, timmer-tram and all,
jump into the wee garden, open the small wicker-gate, and stump away in
the direction of the manse.

"I was petrified with astonishment, frozen to the spot, until my
wraith, for assuredly I considered it nothing else, arrived at the gate
leading into the minister's garden, when it turned; and then, as if in
great alarm, suddenly rushed through the small gate and disappeared.  I
was roused, and now started off in pursuit at the very top of my speed,
but reached the gate only in time to see the figure clear the holly
hedge that screened the front of the manse, at a bound, with the
wooden-leg unstrapped and flourishing in its hand, and vanish beyond
it.  I had then to make a small detour to get through the wicket in the
fence; but before I got round, whatever it might have been, it was
nowhere to be seen.

"I ran up to the door in breathless haste, and, early as it was, began
to knock furiously for admittance, without well thinking what I was
about.  No one answered, and an open window on the ground-floor now
attracted my attention.  I looked in--and who should I see snoring on
'the bred of his back,' in his wee fold-down pallet, but young Moses
Bland, the helper, with--I went frantic at the sight--the ghost of my
ain wooden leg lying across the body!

"'Now I have run the fox to earth,' said I.

"'And wha makes such an indecent uproar at the door, at such an
untimeous season?' quoth the _auld minister_, from an upper window.

"'It is me, sir--I Saunders Skelp, wha ye hae sae unjustly maligned,
minister.  Gude forgie me that I should say so.'

"'Off with you, ye scoonrel,' quoth the usually mild minister--'off
with you, sir, or I'll make you repent it.'

"'Na, minister, when you are cool, you will yoursell repent your
conduct to me.  Here, sir, tak your cloak about you, and come down
_here_--you'll soon see that the evildoer is nearer a-kin to you than
Saunders Skelp.'"

The minister came down, and now there was the devil to pay between him
and his helper; but the latter protested his innocence so vehemently,
that at length the dominie was unceremoniously ejected, with the
additional accusation sticking to him, of having in cold blood, and for
purposes of deceit, actually made a duplicate of his wooden-leg, in
order to cast the blame on young Mr Bland.  He was thus on the eve of
getting set deeper and faster in the mire than ever, when in came the
betherel and Tam Clink, who, being on the watch, had seen Saunders
pursue his own _double_ towards the manse, so that Moses Bland once
more became the subject of suspicion.

The affair was largely canvassed that forenoon at a meeting of the
elders, and the injurious surmises were gaining strength against poor
Moses, notwithstanding: his frantic protestations that he "kenn'd na
whether Jessy Miller was man or woman."  But Saunders, when he brought
his sober judgment to bear on the matter, was the first to acquit him,
for his kind heart would not allow him to believe that his tried friend
and old schoolfellow, the helper, could be guilty of such atrocious
conduct; while something whispered him that his evil genius, William
Adderfang, was the villain; however little appearances in the mean time
might tend to such a conclusion.

During that day, the mysterious transaction of the _double_ got wind in
the village, and every ingle cheek was filled with the sound of keen
disputation.  The fact of the apparition was unquestionably proved by
Tam Clink and the betherel, putting Saunders' own evidence out of the
question; but whether it was the deil himsell, or a dweller on this
earth, afforded large scope for doubt and argument.  Tam Clink was
inclined to believe in the mortality of the duplicate Saunders, "as he
had weel examined the counterfeit tram, and it was sound maple, with
nae smell of fire ava, let abee brimstane," and Tam was a judge.  It
happened to be a holiday at the small school, so the poor fellow again
stole away to commune with himself on the hill-side, and to escape the
gaze of his humble acquaintances.

It was a most beautiful breezy forenoon, and from the spot where he had
planted himself, he had a bird's-eye view of the _duke's_ hounds, on
the opposite swell of the river-divided valley, and the whole field of
gallant sportsmen.  It was the last day of the season, and in the cover
they were drawing, that was alive with red coats and white hounds (the
latter diminished by distance to a handful of hailstones pattering and
glancing among the dark bushes), the whips, and three _scoonrel
chields_ were busy digging out a litter of cub foxes from one of the
earths, amidst a chorus of merry voices and loud laughter.  Presently
the old bitch broke cover from another mouth, when the whole pack
opened most musically, and away went the jovial party as hard as they
could split, their tallyho's making the whole strath ring again.

At first, the fresh air and quiet loveliness of nature had gradually
stolen over his soul in spite of himself, and stilled its troubled
heavings, like oil calming the stormy waters of the sea; and now the
exhilaration of the scene, like the flowing tide lifting a stranded
vessel off the rocks, was imperceptibly lightening that more perilous
stuff, the duller load of misery that pressed closer and more
suffocatingly on the poor fellow's heart--when lo! just as the
foxhounds disappeared from the river, the wasted form of poor Jessy
Miller was seen slowly and painfully crawling up the hill towards where
the dominie sat, leaning on her staff, and feeble as an infant.

He saw her from the first, but could not move--something nailed him to
the spot.  She approached, but for a minute was so breathless and
exhausted, that she could not speak--"Saunders Skelp!"--at length
moaned the poor broken-hearted girl--"Saunders!--ye are going to tak
the sacrament the morn," she paused, and leant, "_peching_ on her
staff," as the MS. hath it--"Ay, Saunders, ye are going to commemorate
our Saviour's death, and--and--I am gaun to dee, Saunders."

"The tears ran down her cheeks, and I was like to be worried mysell,
for greet I couldna.

"'Saunders.  Is it no written, that if thou hast ought against thy
brother, thou shalt leave thy gift before the altar, and first go and
be reconciled unto thy brother?'

"'Even sae--sae is it even written, Jessy.'

"'Time _has_ been when you aften said I was dearer till you than mony
sisters--but that's past and gane--gane like the last winter's snaw;
yet is Saunders Skelp's hate sae deadly that he refuses to tak off
Jessy Miller's parting and sin-clogged soul, the grievous weight of his
own bitter, bitter curse.'  She waited lang for an answer, but I gied
her nane--'I cam to ask yere forgiveness, Saunders--_and I hae asked
it_'--here she grat as if her heart was bursting--'and--and--oh God,
whom I have offended, cast me not off in this my utmost need--_and I
have been refused_--one struggle more, and my task is ended,
Saunders'--and she caught my hand in baith of hers whether I would or
no--they were cauld, cauld as lead--'I hae deserved this; but hand my
heart, _I didna expect it_--Saunders, I have only now to say God bless
you, and to bid you fareweel for ever.'  She sank down on the
whin-stane at my feet--the fiend had seared my heart harder than it,
and I never even offered to help her up.

"I thought she was _awa_ awthegither; at last, gathering strength, she
spak the last words I ever heard her utter.

"'I am come to clear Moses Bland, and to richt you, Saunders.'

"Oh, the sweet low music of that mournful voice!

"'The young laird--Mr Adderfang'--she _gasped_, it could nae langer be
called speaking--'that _serpent_, William Adderfang, has been the ruin
o' me--ruin here, and--and--condemnation in the world to come.'

"She bent her head, and hid her face with her wasted fingers, through
which the hot tears fell fast as the rain-drops in the breeze from the
shower-bedashed tree above us--when the sound of hound and horn once
more swelled in the gale; and first the fox came over the wall above
us, then the whole pack, tumbling tumultuously one over another down
the face of the rocky precipice, twinkling hither and thither, and
dropping from stone to cliff like the breeze-scattered foam of a
cataract, _then one solitary cavalier, who was dashed, horse and man,
to the ground, close to us where we sat_, the rider falling senseless,
and the blood flowing from his mouth and ears.  The gallant horse,
however, struggled to get on his legs again, until he reached the brink
of the old quarry close beneath us, over which he rolled, dragging the
wounded man along with him by the stirrup, and disappeared, rattling
and rasping among the loose stones and bushes.  Jessy was roused in an
instant; she had caught a glimpse of the wounded man's face as he was
dragged past her, and giving a loud shriek, as if her heart had split
in twain, dashed herself down the precipice after him, and vanished for
ever from my eyes amongst the furze--_it was William Adderfang!_"

The issue of all this complicated misery was the unfortunate girl being
carried home, and that night prematurely confined of a dead child--_she
never saw the sun rise again_.

As for the poor Dominie, although his character was cleared both by
Jessy Miller on her death-bed, and ultimately by Adderfang himself, his
heart was nearly broken; indeed, the blow was heavy enough to "drive
his wits a wee bit ajee," as he phrased it, ever after.  In this half
crazy, half desperate condition, he suddenly left friends, and house,
and home, and wandered about the country, until his means of
subsistence failing, he enlisted into the militia; and afterwards, as
related by Serjeant Lorimer, into the marines, on the reduction of the
former.

Enough and to spare of the Sorrows of Dominie Skelp; those who desire
more must wait until he publishes them: but the Midge is but a little
vessel, and a heavy episode would swamp her.  So--

"Here, Mr Peak," struck in Dick Lanyard, who was standing close beside
the small open skylight,--"clap on that purchase, and take a small pull
of the main-halyards, before we keep away, do you hear?  Belay all
that.  Now, Dogvane, put the helm up--so.  Let draw the foresheet
there."

"Ay, ay, sir."

And once more the wicked little Midge buzzes along free.



CHAPTER XII.

GAMBLING--AN UNLUCKY HIT.

The day wore on without any thing worth relating.  At length I was
disturbed by a loud burst of laughter on deck, and adjourned to the
open air.  The first thing that struck me was poor little Dicky
Phantom, a close prisoner in a turkey basket--a large wicker
cage-looking affair, that we had originally brought from the frigate
with poultry.  He was crying bitterly.

"Dogvane, what has the child been doing that you have imprisoned him in
this way?"

"Why, sir," said Mr Weevil, the purser, "it is a vagary of Lennox's.
The child was certainly nearly overboard to-day, so, for fear of
accidents, he has chosen to coop him up in this fantastical manner, as
if he had been a turkey."

"Poo, poo--release him.  Here, Dicky, come out, will you?"

I undid the latch, and the little fellow crept out on all-fours.  As
soon as he was at large, he laid hold of the cage, and would have
thrown it overboard, if I had not prevented him.

"No, no, Master Dicky, it is a good idea of Lennox's; and mind,
whenever you are a bad boy, in you go again."

"I was not bad boy," said the urchin; "Lennox' big mens were bad boy."

"How, Dicky, how?"

"Oh, dem shame poor Quacco--see, see, dere."

I looked forward, and noticed Quacco coming on deck through the
fore-hatchway, a very extraordinary-looking figure certainly.  It
seemed that our sable friend had missed muster twice running; so the
men thought they would fall on a method of curing him; but before they
could put it in force, they had to imprison poor little Dicky, who was
much attached to the negro, and evinced great grief when they commenced
operations.

Their plan was this.  They got some molasses, and anointed his woolly
pate as he slept, and then, with the cook's dredging-box, they
plastered the same over with flour, and left him in his hammock, in
place of rousing him out to take his morning watch.  They thus
converted his pate into a regular cockroach trap, for those horrible
beetles crowded from all corners of the 'tween-decks, and settling down
on the molasses and flour, soon got their feet entangled and their
wings besmeared in such a way that they could not start either tack or
sheet, but were glued in a living web of abomination to the poor
devil's head.  I took Dicky in my arms, and Quacco toddled aft.
Although I was angry, I could not help laughing at the figure he cut,
with his white head, like a large cauliflower, bespangled, not with
bees, but with large brown beetles, who were fluttering with their
wings, and shaking their long feelers or antennae, and struggling to
get their legs out of the bog of treacle and flour; while the poor
fellow, half asleep, was as yet in a great measure unconscious of his
situation.  At this nick, Old Lanyard came on deck.

"Who has done this?  I say, men, if you make a beast of the poor devil
in this way again, mind your hands--that's all.  Here, cook, take
Quacco into the bows, and let your mate scrub him clean."

"Why, we shall have to cut his wool out, sir."

"Hair, if you please, Massa Draining," interjected the culprit himself;
"sheep hab wool--black gentleman wear hair."

"Yes, and he should pay the powder tax," said I, laughing against my
will.

"Well, well, Drainings," continued the lieutenant, "do as you please,
but have him cleaned instantly; his appearance, with those crawling
insects amongst the wool--hair, I beg pardon--is shocking; so forward,
Master Quacco, and be scrubbed."

"Ay," quoth little Dicky, "forward Massa Quacco, and be scrub;" and
great was the laughter and shouting at the shearing of Serjeant Quacco.

      *      *      *      *      *

"What is that flying on board the Gazelle, Mr Peak?" said Lanyard.

"The signal to chase in the north-west, sir."

"Mast-head there," the lookout-man answered; "do you see any thing in
the north-west quarter?'

"No, sir," replied the man.

"Very well.  Turn the hands up, Mr Peak, and make sail."

This was accordingly done; and, after having hauled our wind about an
hour, we saw the vessel, which the frigate had seen so much sooner than
us in consequence of the greater height of her masts.  We chased the
whole forenoon; and, as we rose her, made her out to be a large
merchant-ship under all sail, evidently desirous of avoiding the
pleasure of our society if she could; for, verily, like the ugly face
of many an honest man, our appearance was far from being the best of
us, our rig being deucedly roguish.

By five o'clock in the afternoon we were within half a mile, when we
hoisted our colours and pennant, and fired a gun to make our friend
heave to; but this she declined to do, and we now guessed that she was
one of the large London traders.  There were, we could see, a number of
people on deck, some of them apparently passengers.

"Why, Mr Wadding," said Mr Lanyard to the gunner, "he seems determined
to lead us a dance; we must send the next shot nearer him."

The old man was looking through the glass at her.  "If I don't mistake,
they are training two guns aft, sir, there, through the stern-ports;
and she must have a crew of some forty hands, I think, from those I see
on deck.  There are a number of amphiberous-looking people besides on
the poop--passengers, I suppose--busy with muskets, sir.  If he
persists in refusing to let us board him, he will bother us a little."

"That is his look out," said Dick.  "Set every rag that will draw; pack
on her, Mr Marline, and clear away both guns.  Pipe away the cutter's
crew, boatswain, and see they are properly armed."  Then to me--"I say,
Benjie, any objections to a lark--Mr Marline is going in the boat, eh?"

"None in the world--so here's with you, Master Marline, my boy."

I went below to dress myself, and as I was putting on my jacket, bang,
I heard a gun fired at us.

"Call Mr Brail, Lennox," said Mr Lanyard.  "Tell him the chase has run
out two stern chase-guns, and has just fired at us."

I came on deck as he spoke.

"Did the shot come near you, Mr Marline?" continued Lanyard.

"It whistled right over our masthead, sir--it was very well aimed."

"Never mind, haul as close by the wind as you can, and gain the weather
gage if possible.  I want to creep alongside on his weather quarter."

This was done; and seeing that we sailed so much faster than he did,
and that, as we hauled up across his stern within musket-shot, with
both guns pointed at him, we could rake him if we chose, he did not
venture to fire again.  Presently we were within hail, and found that
it was the Roger Beresford, or some such name, from London, bound to
Antigua.

"Heave-to, and I will send a boat on board of you."

But although his fight had considerably evaporated, yet he seemed
noways inclined to do this thing, even after he had been told who we
were, and that the vessel astern was his Majesty's frigate the Gazelle.
He kept his people all at quarters, and I noticed that his broadside
consisted of six twelve-pound carronades, and a long gun amidships;
rather too many pills for a comfortable dose to so small a hooker as
the Midge, if he should prove obstinate, besides the absurdity of the
thing in being peppered by one of our own merchant craft, through a
vagary of the master's.

As we approached, one of the muskets of the motley group that were
clustered on the poop went off, apparently from awkwardness or
accident, which the others took for a signal, and four or five were let
drive, but fortunately mighty wide of their mark.

"Mr Peak, fire that musket close over the heads of these heroes."

Crack--the whole bunch bobbed, as if they had seen the bullet coming;
and immediately the gallant band tumbled down, one over another, on the
quarterdeck, in much admired disorder.  We ranged close alongside, with
the boat towing astern, ready manned and armed, and all hands at
quarters.  This formidable manoeuvre seemed to quail the courage of the
chase a little.

"I shall board you, whether you will or not, my fine fellow; so round
to this instant, or I fire into you."

Seeing Lanyard was angry and in earnest, he now did as desired.  So we
were presently on his deck, when we found he was a running ship, who,
not liking our appearance, had very properly tried to escape in the
first instance, and, finding that impossible, to fight, if need were,
in the second.  All his papers were right, and I had time to take a
squint at the passengers.  There were several ladies on board--three, I
think--an elderly one, and two very handsome girls.  They were now all
on deck, surrounded by the male passengers, the Spartan band who had
made such a hostile demonstration on the poop, some of whom cut rather
conspicuous figures, in their shooting jackets, with bran-new red
turkey leather pocketbooks peeping out of the numberless pockets, and
gay seal-skin caps, and natty waistcoats, with lots of chains and
seals--every thing, in fact, of the newest and gaudiest--and oh for the
murder and piracy of his Majesty's English amongst the Cockney crew!
One spruce young fellow--the youth whose musket had gone off by
mistake--had chosen to equip himself, sailor fashion, jacket, trowsers,
and white vest, with a straw hat and black ribbon, and lots of bright
brass buttons, all astonishingly fine.  He kept swaggering about the
deck, on which, by the way, he could hardly stand, and twice, rather
unceremoniously, thrust himself between me and one of the young ladies,
to whom I happened to be speaking.  I determined to give him a fright.
So I tipped the wink to Marline.

"Dogvane, order the boat's crew on deck."

"Ay, ay, sir."

"Now, captain, have the kindness to muster your people, if you please."

The man remonstrated, but the midshipman insisted; and presently the
poor fellows were ranged on the lee-side of the quarterdeck, each in
momentary dread of being selected as pressed men.

"Why, sir," persisted the captain, "I solemnly protest against this; we
carry a letter of marque, sir; and it is more than your rating is worth
to take any of my hands.  I solemnly protest against such conduct."

Marline apparently gave in.

"Very well, sir; but we must be manned by hook or crook, you know,
however unwilling to distress running ships.  Oh, I see--_there_ is a
smart hand, in the gay jacket there, who does not seem to belong to
your crew--a good seaman, evidently, by the cut of his jib."

This last part of his speech was intended to be overheard by the
fresh-water sailor with the brass buttons, who now toddled up--the
vessel was rolling a good deal--smirking and smiling--"Why, captain, I
have paid great attention since we embarked, and really I have become a
very capital sailor, sir.  Do you know I have been twice through the
lubber's hole?"

"Really!  I knew you were a thorough good bit of stuff;" and then in a
gruff voice, "so hand up your bag, sir, and step into the boat."

"Hand up my bag, and step into the boat!" said the poor fellow, all
abroad; "my bag! la, sir, my clothes a'n't packed, and why should I go
into your boat?"

"Simply," said Marline, slapping him on the shoulder with force to make
him wince again, "that you are the very man I want.  Your nautical air
and speech have betrayed you, sir; and I can see with half an eye that
you are second-mate of some vessel; I therefore press you into the
service, to serve his Majesty on board of his gallant frigate the
Gazelle there"--pointing to her, as she was fast coming up astern.

He shrank back in great alarm.

"Lack-a-daisy, sir, it's all a mistake--I am no sailor, sir--I am Joe
Wilkins the draper, son of old Joe Wilkins, number so-and-so, Coleman
Street.  Me a sailor! my wig!"

I laughed.

"Well, well, Mr Joseph Wilkins, I begin to think I may be wrong; but
never pass yourself off for a sailor again, lest worse come of it; and
never take firearms into your hands until you learn how to manage them.
Why, sir," continued Marline sternly, "you were the cause of five
musket shots being fired at us, and the blood of men who were doing no
more than their duty, sir, might have been spilt by your swaggering."

As he spoke, Joey had gradually crept away towards the companion, and
by this time nothing but his head was above deck.  I made a sudden
spring at him, when he vanished in a moment, amid a volley of laughter
from all hands.  We now made our bows to the ladies, apologizing for
any little alarm we might have caused, and bidding the captain good-by,
were speedily at home again.

The period was now approaching when we were to part company, the
Gazelle for Jamaica, and the Midge for Havanna; and on such a day,
Lanyard having received his orders, we altered our course a point or
two to the northward, and lost sight of the commodore before the night
fell.

Nothing particular occurred until we arrived within a couple of days'
run of Havanna, when we made out a sail lying becalmed right a-head.
We carried the breeze up to within half a mile of her, when it failed
us also; and there we both lay rolling on the glass-like swell of the
great Bahama Channel, one of the hottest quarters of the globe in a
calm that ever I was in.  The heat was absolutely roasting.  The vessel
we had seen was a brig with bright sides, which, as we approached, had
hoisted a signal of distress at the mizen peak, the American ensign,
with the stars down, and the stripes uppermost.  A boat was immediately
manned, and pulled towards her, for apparently she had none of her own.
I went in her--any thing to break the tedium of a sea life.  As we
neared her, the crew, some six or eight hands, were seen running about
the deck, and holding out their hands imploringly towards us, in a way
that I could not account for.  As we came closer, the master hailed in
a low husky voice, "For Heaven's sake send us some water, sir, we are
perishing of thirst--water, sir, water, for the love of God!"  We were
now alongside, when three men absolutely _tumbled_ over the brig's side
into the boat, and began, before we could recover our surprise, to
struggle who should first get his lips into the small puddle of dirty
water in the bottom of it.  Brackish as it must have been, it was drank
up in a moment.  The extremity of the poor fellows was evidently great,
so I jumped on deck, and the boat was immediately sent back for a
breaker of water.

Sailors have their virtues and vices like other men, but I am not
arrogating for them when I say, that a scene like this, in all its
appalling bearings; that misery, such as we saw before us, so
peculiarly incidental to his own condition, would, were it from this
cause alone, thrill to a sailor's heart, with a force unknown and
undreamt of by any other human being.  Dogvane, the old quartermaster,
had steered us on board.  He now jumped up in the stern sheets, and
cast off his jacket--"You, Jabos, you limber villain," said he to a
slight boy who pulled the foremost oar, "come out of the bow, and take
the tiller, will ye? and mind you steer steady.  Shift forward, my
hearties, and give me the stroke oar."  The boat's crew at this hint
tore their hats off, with a chance of a stroke of the sun before their
eyes, and dashed them to the bottom of the boat, stripped up their
frock sleeves to their armpits, undid the ribbons that fastened their
frock collars, new-fitted their stretchers, and wetting the palms of
their hands, feathered their oars, and waited for the word.  "Now mind
your strain, my lads," again sung out old Dogvane, "until the boat
gathers way--no springing of the ash staves, do you hear?  Give way
now."  The boat started off like an arrow--the oars groaned and
cheeped, the water buzzed away into a long snow-white frothy wake, and
in _no time_ she was alongside the felucca, on whose deck, in his
red-hot haste, the quartermaster first toppled down on his nose, and
then, scarcely taking time to touch his hat to Mr Lanyard, we saw him
bundle down the main hatchway; in another moment a small cask, ready
slung, slowly ascended, and was rolled across the deck into the boat.
But this was not all; the Midges on board the felucca were instantly
all astir, and buzzing about at a devil of a rate--out sweeps was the
word, and there was the black hull of the little vessel torn along the
shining surface of the calm sea, right in the wake of the boat, by
twelve long dark sweeps, looking for all the world, in the distance,
like a beetle chasing a common fly across a polished mirror blazing
with intolerable radiance under the noon-dav sun.

It appeared that, first of all, the brig had been a long time baffled
in the Horse latitudes, which ran their supply of water short; and,
latterly, they had lain a whole week becalmed where we found them.
Several days before we fell in with them, they had sent away the boat
with three hands to try and reach the shore, and bring back a supply,
but they had never returned, having in all likelihood either perished
from thirst before they got to land, or missed the brig on their way
back.  No soul on board, neither captain nor crew, had cooled his
parched tongue for eight-and-forty hours before we boarded them--_this
in such a climate_!

There was not only no water, but not a drop of liquid unconsumed of any
kind or description whatever, saving and excepting some new rum, which
the men had freely made use of at first, until two of them died raving
mad in consequence.  When I got on board, the cask was lying open on
the tap, and, perishing as they were, not one of them could swallow a
drop of it if they had tried; they said it was like taking aquafortis
or melted lead into their mouths, when at any time they were driven, by
the fierceness of their sufferings, to attempt assuaging their thirst
with it.  I had not been five minutes on board, when the captain seemed
to go mad altogether.

"My poor wife, sir--oh, God, she is dying in the cabin, sir--she may be
dead--she must be dead--but I dare not go below to look at her.--Oh, as
you hope for mercy at your dying day, hail your people to make haste,
sir--half an hour may be too late"--and the poor fellow dashed himself
down on the deck, writhing about, like a crushed reptile, in a paroxysm
of the most intense agony; while the men, who were all clustered
half-naked in the bows, with wet blankets on their shoulders, in the
hope that nature would in this way absorb some moisture, and thus
alleviate their sufferings, were peering out with their feverish and
blood-shot eyes, and wan faces, at the felucca; watching every motion
on board with the most breathless anxiety.

"There, there--there is the cask on deck--they are lowering it into the
boat--they have shoved off--oh, great God in Heaven, we shall be saved
after all!"--and the poor fellows raised a faint hurrah, and closed in
on me, some shaking my hands, others dropping on their knees to bless
me; while one poor creature lay choking on the hard deck in a fit of
hysterical laughter, as if he had been a weakly woman.

The boat could not possibly be back under ten minutes; so I went below
into the cabin, and never did I behold such a heart-rending sight.  The
small table that had stood in the centre had been removed; and there,
stretched on a coarse wet blanket, lay a half-naked female--pale and
emaciated--her long hair dishevelled, and hanging over her face, and
down her back, in wet clotted strands, with a poor miserable infant
puling and nuzzling at her wasted breast; while a black woman, herself
evidently deep sunk in the same suffering, was sprinkling salt water
from a pail on the unhappy creature and her child.

"Oh, massa," cried the faithful negress--"oh, massa, give missis some
water, or him dead--I strong, can last some time yet--but poor
missis"--and here she sobbed, as if her heart would have burst; but the
fountains of her tears were dried up.  The white female was unable to
raise her head--she lay moaning on the deck, and mumbling audibly with
her dry and shrunken lips, as if they had been ossified; but she could
not speak.

"Keep a good heart, madam," said I--"we have sent on board for
water--it will be here in a minute."  She looked doubtingly at me,
clasped her hands together above her child's head, and seemed to pray.
I ran on deck--the boat, in an incredibly short time, was alongside
again, with the perspiration pouring down the flushed faces and
muscular necks of the kind-hearted fellows in her--their duck-clothing
as wet and dank as a boat-sail in a race.

"Now, Dogvane--hand up the breaker--quick, man, quick."  My request was
unnecessary; it was on deck in an instant; but before I could turn
round, the men of the brig made a rush aft, and seized the cask, making
a vain attempt to carry it forward; alas! poor fellows, they had not
the strength of children.  We easily shoved them aside, as it was
necessary they should not get water-logged by too free a use of it at
first.--"Now, Dogvane, mind what I tell you--make that small tub there
full of five-water grog--no stronger, mind--and serve out a pint to
each of these poor fellows, and not a drop more at present."  I seized
a glass of the first of it, and ran below.  "Here," said I, to the
black servant--"here, take a mouthful yourself, and then give some to
your mistress."  She shook her head, and made as if she would have
helped her mistress first; but the selfishness of her own grinding
misery conquered the poor creature's resolution; and dashing, rather
than carrying the glass to her mouth, she ravenously swallowed the
whole contents in a second, and then fell flat on the deck with a wild
laugh.

"Oh, massa, I can't help it--nobody love missis like Juba; but once I
taste him, I could not help it for de life-blood of me, massa.  Oh, my
eye, my eye like cinder--like red-hot bullet dem is, massa--oh, for one
tear, one leetle tear--oh, dere come one tear; but God, God, him is hot
more as boiling rum, and salt--ah, ah, ah"--and the poor creature
rolled about the deck in the uttermost distress.

The master of the vessel had by this time entered, and lifted up his
wife into a sitting position; and there she sat, with her parched mouth
all agape, the black fur on her tongue, and with glazed and half-shut
eyes; her pinched features, and death-like complexion evincing
tearfully the strength of her sufferings.

He poured some water into her mouth, but she could not swallow it; he
tried again, and from the gurgling noise in her throat, I thought she
was suffocating, especially as I noticed, as if conscious that she was
departing, she now clutched her poor wasted baby to her shrunk bosom
with all the little strength she possessed.  But she _had_ swallowed a
little, and this revived her; and after several other trials, the poor
fellow had the happiness to see his wife snatched from the jaws of
death, and able to sit up by herself with her back against the locker.
She now began to moan heavily, and to rock herself to and fro over her
helpless, all but dead infant, as it lay, struggling faintly, and
crying with its small imploring voice, on her knee; at length she
acquired sufficient strength to gasp out, "God bless you, sir--God
bless you--you have saved my child, and all of us--God bless you,"--and
then resumed her moaning, as if she was suffering something that she
herself could not describe.  I sent on board for more water, and some
tea and other small luxuries from my private stock; and that same
evening, as the sun was setting, under a canopy of glorious clouds,
beneath which the calm sea glowed like molten gold, gradually melting
into gorgeous purple, I saw a small dark ripple ruffling its
mirror-like surface in the east, and gradually steal down towards where
we lay.  The next moment I felt a light zephyr-like air on the palm of
my wet hand as I held it up.  Presently, as the grey cat's-paws became
darker, and fluttered down stronger and nearer to us, and were again
withdrawn, and shifted about, shooting out and shortening like
streamers, Mr Peak sung out, "There, there's the breeze at last, sir,
there;" and the smooth shining canals that divided the blue shreds of
ripples gradually narrowed, while the latter increased and came down
stronger, until the whole sea to windward was roughened into small dark
waves, that increased as the night fell, and both the Midge and brig
were buzzing along on their course to Havanna before a six-knot breeze.

The next evening we were under the Moro Castle, where we anchored.  At
daylight on the following morning we ran in through the narrow
entrance, under the tremendous forts that crown its high banks on each
side, and anchored before this most magnificent city, this West Indian
Liverpool; while its batteries and bastions, with the grinning cannon
peering through numberless embrasures, the tall spires and towers, the
highest of the houses, the masts and drying sails of numberless
vessels, with their gay flags, British, American, French, Spanish, and
of almost every country in the world, were glancing bright and fresh in
the early sunbeams, under a floating canopy of thin blue smoke from the
charcoal fires.  All which magnificent description goes for this much:
the unsentimental Dons were doffing their nightcaps, and donning their
breeches, while the fires were lighting to prepare their coffee and
chocolate.

That forenoon I went on shore, and delivered my letters to Mr M----,
one of the most extensive English merchants in the place, a kind and
most hospitable man.  He invited me to dine with him, and to accept of
a bed at his house in the evening, both of which were too good offers
to be sneezed at.  We had a very large party at dinner, composed of a
lot of Mr M----'s clerks, several masters of merchantmen, and the
captain and two lieutenants of an American frigate lying there, all
three of the latter, by the way, extremely pleasant men.

There was one of Mr M----'s adherents present, a very odd creature, and
rather a wildish one, an Irishman; what his real name was I forget now,
but he was generally called Listado.  His prime object during dinner
was to quiz the Americans, but they took it very good-naturedly.  He
then tried his hand on me, in what I believe is vulgarly called
trotting, which is to get one on his hobby, and appear to listen most
anxiously all the while, although every one but yourself sees you are
made to show your paces more for the amusement of the company than
their information.  At length I saw through the rogue, and dismounted,
laughing heartily at the cleverness with which he had paraded me.

In the evening, the mercantile members of our party retired to the
counting-house, the Americans returned to their ship, and I strolled
about the town until the night fell, when I returned by appointment for
Listado, with whom I went to the opera, which far surpassed any thing I
expected to see or hear in that quarter of the world.  After it was
over, we adjourned to some lodging-house or tavern in the
neighbourhood, and perpetrated the heinous sin of eating a heavy
supper, for which I paid afterwards, as will be seen.

It so happened that the aforesaid Monsieur Listado had given up his bed
to me, and slept himself on a small pallet beside the wall in the same
room.  At the right hand of the head of my bed, a lofty door opened
into an adjoining room, a large dreary unfurnished apartment, with
several packages of goods scattered about on the floor.  On
examination, I found there was no window in it, nor any light admitted
except through the door into our room, which was the only opening into
it.  It was a regular _cul de sac_.

We must have been some hours asleep when I awoke, or thought I did,
pretty much the same thing so far as my feelings at the moment went,
lying on my back, with my hands crossed on my breast, like the statue
of a knight templar.  These said paws of mine seemed by the way to be
of an inconceivable weight, as if they had actually been petrified, and
to press so heavily on my chest as to impede my breathing.  Suddenly
one of my little fingers grew, like Jonah's gourd, to a devil of a
size; and next moment the thumb of the other hand, as if determined not
to be outdone by the minikin on the left, became a facsimile of a
Bologna sausage; so there I lay like a large lobster, with two
tremendous claws.  My nose then took its turn, and straightway was
converted into one of Mr M----'s cotton bags, that lay in the store
below, containing three hundred-weight, more or less.

"Oh!" said I now to myself, "what a fool I have been!
Nightmare--nightmare."

"Hookey, but it isn't though," said Listado.

"Hillo," said I to myself again--for I was quite certain I had not
spoken--"how the deuce can Listado answer my _thoughts_, which I have
never uttered?"--And I tried to ask him, but my nose, or the cotton
bag, would not let me speak.  "Why, it must be nightmare," again
thought I to myself.

"The devil a nightmare is it," again said Listado.

And I now began to take fright in earnest; when, on the opposite wall,
for I could only see in the direction of the foot of my bed, a
gradually increasing gleam of pale glow-worm-coloured light fell;
streaming apparently through the door that opened at my shoulder into
the large lumber-room already described.

The light seemed to proceed from the further end of this apartment,
because the shadow of one of the boxes of goods that lay scattered
about the floor was cast strongly against the wall of my room at the
foot of the bed.

"What can this mean?" for I knew from actual survey the geography of
the apartment from whence the glare proceeded; "what can this mean?
Some trick of Listado's.  Snapdragon, snapdragon."

"Snapdragon be d--d simply," quoth Listado's voice once more.

"Heyday," quoth I.

But there he lay, full in the stream of light, apparently sound asleep;
and so transmogrified under its baleful influence, that he looked more
like a corpse than a living man.

"Murder! what comes next?" groaned I--for I could now speak--as the
shadow of the figure of the poor woman rescued from perishing with
thirst on board of the American brig glided along the wall with her
infant in her arms and her clothes in disorder, the wet blanket which
the poor negro had been moistening, when I first saw her, hanging from
her shoulders, and her hair dishevelled; her figure, in fact, in every
point precisely as I had seen her in the cabin.  The apparition seemed
to pause for a moment, and then stepped towards the box of dry goods,
and setting itself down, began to rock itself and moan; and the poor
picaniny began to struggle and pule at its mother's bosom for all the
world as naturally as it had done in the brig.

"There's a phantasmagoria for you, Master Benjie;--free gratis for
nothing, Master Benjie," said I to myself; whereupon my thumb, of the
size of the Bologna sausage, took my nose, of the size of the cotton
bag, such a crack!  I thought it was knocked off.  Presently I felt as
if the latter had been set a-bleeding so furiously as to float the bed
off the floor, and me in it.  By and by the room became filled with
blood; and there I lay, cruising about in the floating bed, until the
door gave way, when the crimson torrent rushed down stairs like the
rapids of Niagara, bursting into the other sleeping apartments in its
descent--I could hear the suffocating coughs of the inmates as they
were drowning.  At length, the blood having had vent, the bed once more
subsided, and took the ground on the very spot from whence it had
originally been floated.  The light on the wall, however, was still as
strong as ever, but had changed from the moonlight tinge to a hot, deep
red glare, such as the devils break out of rocks with in theatres.

The shadow of the box had disappeared, and so had the figure of the
poor woman and her child; but I now heard a noise as of some one
singing snatches of the Carnival of Venice to himself, and dancing as
if practising a new step, with occasionally a tap tap on the floor, as
if the performer had been the owner of a wooden leg.

"Come along, my lad," thought I; "why, what next, what next?"--on which
the figure of a man, dressed in the old-fashioned coat commonly worn by
physicians in Havanna, with frills at his wrists, and tight
inexpressibles on, glided across the wall and disappeared.  Presently I
was conscious he was in the room, which became suddenly hot and choky,
and, in fact, standing at my bedside, for I could hear some one
breathe, although I had not the power of turning my neck to look at him.

"Have the kindness," said he, in some unknown tongue, but which was
quite intelligible to me--"have the kindness to let me feel your
pulse."  Scarcely knowing what I did, I held out my hand.  "Your nose,
if you please," quoth the physician; on which he took it, big as it
was, between his finger and thumb, and gave it such a squeeze, that it
burst with a noise like thunder, and instantly relapsed into its former
shape.  At the report, I could hear the sentries on the walls a mile
off, hailing--"quien viva, quien viva," along the whole line.  The
figure now came forward, so that I could see him.  He was a tall and
very handsome man, but his complexion, pale and ashy, had the
self-radiant appearance of steel at a white heat; indeed the glow of
his face was like to roast my skin into parchment.  His features were
good, but there was rather a peculiar cast in his eye.  He wore a black
silk cowl, which stuck out a little over his ears on each side, as if
two small horns had been concealed under it; and he was dressed in deep
black.  One leg was symmetry itself, but the other was shaped like that
of a satyr, and ended in a hoof; however, the shank was covered with a
silk stocking, and the hoof by a curiously-shaped shoe, made by Hoby to
fit with wonderful neatness.

"You will do very well now," said he, "so I will see how Mr Listado
comes on;" and, as he turned to where he lay, I saw a small barbed
tail, glowing like red-hot iron, protruding from between the voluminous
skirts of his coat, that corruscated, and sent sparks all about the
room.  It kept twisting about like a live eel, and jerking in a fidgety
manner; and I was puzzling myself how it did not burn the cloth of his
skirts, when my attention was fixed on what the figure was doing.
Listado was still sound asleep; there was a basin of water on a chair
close to his head;--the figure dipped the end of the tail into it, when
it instantly began to boil furiously, so that the spray of the bubbles,
as they frothed and poppled about, burnt Listado's face, and he awoke.

"Who has scalded me in this way?" quoth he.

"Only have patience, my dear sir," said the physician; "it is all meant
kindly,--merely to season you; merely to season you."

"Season me--season me to what, d--n me"--quoth Listado in a fury.

"With all the pleasure in life, my dear sir," said the figure, nipping
off the tail of Listado's exclamation as if it had been a leech in the
hands of my friend Majendie; "I will do any thing to oblige you, and
d--d you shall be with all the comfort in life; only wait a
moment;"--and he thereupon took a small very natty toasting fork out of
his coat pocket; but, in the act, burnt his fingers against his red-hot
tail.  "Curse the tail," quoth he, as he pulled out the joints of the
fork, until it was about a yard long.  All this while Listado, blasted
by the deep red glare into a dark crimson, lay like a big lobster newly
boiled, looking at the physician's preparations, apparently fascinated,
and without the power of motion.  The figure now looked at me over his
shoulder, and winked knowingly, when some vapour, like an escape from
the safety-valve of a steam-boiler, puffed out of his mouth; but he
apologized, and said, he had been smoking, although the flavour had
more of brimstone than tobacco in it.  "Good by, Mr Brail; I will come
for _you_ by and by."--"You need not hurry, my dear fellow," thought
I;--and so saying, he, with all the coolness in life, clapped the fork
into Listado's stern-frame, and, begging pardon for the trouble he was
putting him to, lifted him, writhing like an impaled frog, on the
instrument, and as if he really had been no heavier.  He then calmly
walked right through the solid wall with him, as if it had been a
cloud, and disappeared.  I could hear Listado roaring lustily all the
while, and the physician making numberless apologies, always concluding
with "I shall be as gentle with you, Mr Listado, as your request to be
d--d will permit."

At last the sounds died away, and I began to think of going to sleep;
when an instrument that I at once knew to be our friend the physician's
fork was thrust into me from below, through the mattrass.  "Hillo,
hillo, hillo," roared I; "this will never do, by"----

"What the devil do you grunt and growl so much in your sleep for?"
shouted Listado.

"Devil!" quoth I, rubbing my eyes; "oh! confound the poached eggs."

About a fortnight after this, Listado and I, along with one of the
young American officers, looked in at a monte-table and staked our
doubloon a-piece; both of my friends lost, but I was most unaccountably
fortunate; for, without knowing any thing of the game, or the chances
of it, I found, when I rose to go away, that I had no less than fifty
doubloons in my fob.  As we left the house I noticed a stout,
dark-complexioned young man, with great whiskers, dressed, like most of
the others present, in a light gingham coat and white trowsers, but
without either waistcoat or neckcloth, eye me very fiercely.  He had
been one of the heaviest sufferers by my winnings; and when I rose, he
followed me.  I thought nothing of this at the time, and walked on with
the American and Listado, who had agreed to adjourn to a tavern to sup
together; but I had had enough of suppers for some time, and therefore
parted with them at the street corner, and bore up alone for Mr M----'s.

It was by this time near twelve o'clock at night, very dark and gusty;
and as I proceeded, the rain splashed in my face, and there were
several flashes of lightning, followed by loud claps of thunder.  By
one of the former I thought I saw the person from whom I had won so
much, skulking behind a pillar that formed part of a colonnade in front
of one of the public buildings; and I will not conceal that an uneasy
feeling arose in my mind, as I recalled the numberless stories of
Spanish vindictiveness to my recollection.

"Poo, poo," said I to myself, ashamed of my weakness--"all romance, all
romance."  As I spoke, I was nearly blinded by a flash of lightning,
and clapt my hand to my eyes, "Ah--what is that?" I exclaimed, as I
received a blow under my fifth rib, on the right side, that made me
stagger to the wall.  Another flash showed me the figure of the man,
gliding rapidly away into the darkness.  I put my hand to my side, and
felt the blood streaming down.  I had been wounded, and was becoming
faint, faint.  I tried to proceed, but could only stagger against a
pillar, to which I clung.  I could no longer breathe--every thing swam
around me, and I became deadly cold.  "I am gone!" I gasped out, as I
sank on my knees, and leant my head against the wall.  "Oh God, forgive
my sins, and receive my soul--My mother--bless my poor mother!"----

      *      *      *      *      *

When my recollection returned, I was lying on a low bed, or _quatre_,
without curtains or canopy of any kind, in the middle of a very large
and lofty room.  It was greatly darkened, but I could perceive, from
the bright pensiles of light that streamed through the crevices of the
closed shutters, that it was broad day.  For some time, as my
consciousness gradually awoke, I lay watching the motes dancing and
revolving in the sunbeams, and then looked up towards the bare timbers
of the floor above me.  "Where _can_ I be--and what _has_ happened?" I
murmured to myself.

"Hush!" said a low female voice close to me--"hush!  Doctor Delaville
says you are not to speak, sir,--not even to turn, if you can help it."

"Doctor Delaville--not speak!  Call Lennox, will ye?" and I again began
to waver.--"Mr Marline, how is her head?  Oh, my side--merciful
Providence! what has befallen--what _is_ wrong with me?"--as I tried to
move round in order to see the person who had spoken.  I effected my
purpose so far as to half turn my face from the light--"Oh, Heaven have
mercy on me!--my senses are gone, and I am mad."  I shut my eyes, and
under this heart-crushing belief, wept bitterly.

There was a large balcony or open window in the wall of the apartment
farthest from the street, towards which I had turned my face, that
opened into a room beyond, at a height of about three feet from the
floor.  It was fitted with shutters opening inwards, like those of the
external windows.  The saloon into which I looked was apparently a
lofty room, and lighted, so far as I could judge, entirely from the
roof.  I also inferred that this part of the house projected back from
the main building, and that it was lower, and overshadowed by green
trees; for the light that shone from above was subdued, and green, and
cold, and more like moonlight than that of the sun.  On the walls
beyond I could see pictures; and a piano stood near the window, and
several sofas were scattered about, so that it appeared better
furnished than most houses I had seen in the place; and I knew, that
although I was certainly not in Mr M----'s house, neither was I in that
of a Spaniard.  There was a very handsome geranium, in an ornamented
porcelain jar, in the window, which, in some measure, impeded my view
at the top; although near the sill there was only the solitary stalk,
naked of leaves.  Presently, as my eyes got accustomed to the twilight,
I noticed gloves, and bonnets, and several large green fans, lying on a
table beyond the window, as if this had been the retreat of some of the
females of the family; all continued as still as death--and the
coolness and freshness of the apartment I looked into, was grateful
beyond belief to my feverish eye and swimming brain.  By and by I heard
a rattling and creaking volante drive past, and the shouts of the
driver to his mule, which excited me; and I once more asked the person
who was sitting knitting beside me, where I was.  "Hush, hush--until
the doctor comes," was still the answer,--and I again turned my eyes in
the direction of the balcony, and gloated on the flowers and leaves of
the noble plant on the window-sill, which seemed jet black, as they
twinkled in the breeze between me and the light.  I could now hear the
sea-breeze set in, and rush amongst the branches of the trees, and moan
through the long galleries and lofty apartments of the house--slamming
a shutter to here, and making a door bang there, and rustling the
shawls, and bonnets, and female gear in the boudoir.

The effect of this on my shattered nerves was delightful; and, for the
first time since I had recovered my recollection, I lay back with my
heart full of gratitude to the Almighty for his mercy towards me.  I
now remembered that I had been wounded, and began to piece together in
my mind the transactions at the gaming-table, and the various
circumstances that had preceded my sallying forth, and wondering who
had been the good Samaritan who had poured oil and wine into my wounds.
I again looked earnestly round.  "There--what do I see--_who_ is
that--_what_ is that?  Oh, I am mad--I am mad--and all this is a
dream."  I looked again.  The soft mysterious light already mentioned
now floated over the figure of a tall and very handsome young man,
dressed with great simplicity--a bluejacket, red striped shirt, open at
the collar, with his loose black neckerchief untied, the ends hanging
down on his bosom, and white trowsers.  He was seated at an easel in
the boudoir, under the geranium, and close to the window, with his
profile towards me, a palette and paint-brush in one hand, while with a
finger of the other he seemed to be in the act of tracing a line on the
canvass before him.  His complexion was very dark and sunburnt, his
mouth and nose beautifully formed, and his forehead, on which the cold
light from above was cast clear and strong, was very high and pale,
contrasting finely with the bronzing of his lower features; his hair
especially caught my attention--it was black, glossy, and curling.
"Great God! is it _him_, or his disembodied spirit?"

A young female, who until this moment I had scarcely noticed, stood
behind his chair, and bent over him, looking also earnestly at the
half-finished painting on the easel;--a tall and light-formed girl,
very pale, and wearing her hair dressed high on her head without any
ornament whatever; she was habited in a plain white frock, low cut at
the bosom, with a pale green band round her waist, and had one of her
beautifully-rounded arms extended over his shoulder, while the other
rested on the back of his chair, as, with lips apart, she pointed to
some particular part of the painting.

Both continued so perfectly immovable that I could not even discern his
breathing, nor the heaving of her lovely bosom.  "Were they beings of
this world?--was it him in very truth?" At this moment the leaves of
the trees above were agitated by the passing breeze, for small
twittering shadows were suddenly cast on the faces and figures of the
group, so as to alter the expression of the former in a startling way,
making them flit and gibber, as it were.  I thought some horrid change
was coming o'er the spirit of my dream, as I exclaimed,--"Oh, no,
no!--he is gone, poor fellow--gone--cold at the bottom of the sea--and
I am mad--Oh God, I am a lunatic!"  And I once more shut my eyes and
wept, until I thought my very heart would have burst in twain; but they
were blessed tears, for they revived me, and my soul felt lighter as I
again thanked Heaven for my deliverance, and tried to convince myself
that all I had seen was but the phantoms of my weakness.  A minute
might have fled before I looked up again, but the lovely delusion was
gone, as the servant or nurse who was attending me, perceiving me so
excited by what I had seen in the other apartment, had risen and closed
the window-blinds; thus shutting out every thing in the room beyond
from my view.

The doctor now arrived, and, sliding up to my bedside, made his
enquiries as to how I felt, and was greatly pleased with my amendment.
"This will be great joy to all of them, sir," said he, in broken
English; "so, Mrs Gerard, give your patient his draught, and after the
sleep I hope it will procure"----

I interrupted him.  "Pray, doctor, how long have I been ill?--and how
is all going on in the little Midge?--and in whose house am I?--and who
were the young lady and gentleman that I saw?"

He laughed.  "Why, Mr Brail, you have fired off one whole broadside of
questions at me; but rest satisfied--all is right on board of de leetle
vessel; and you are in my friend Mr Duquesné's house, who (if you will
only take my advice, and try and obtain some rest, for you have not
slept since you were wounded a week ago) will have the pleasure of
paying his respects to you--and Miss Helen Hudson, too, longs----But I
declare I am forgetting my own instructions--so not vone oder vord,
monsieur,--not vone vord--Adieu until de afternoon."  And he vanished
out of the room in the same noiseless cat-like way he had entered it.

To obtain any information from the nurse that sat beside me, I knew was
out of the question; so I took the medicine, and soon fell into a balmy
sleep.



END OF VOLUME ONE.



EDINBURGH: PRINTED BY BALLANTYNE AND CO., PAUL'S WORK.





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