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Title: The Cruise of the Midge (Vol. II 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. II 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 SECOND.


  CHAP.

  I.  A HAIRBREADTH ESCAPE
  II.  A VISION--THE DYING BUCANIER
  III.  SCENES IN HAVANNA
  IV.  A CRUISE IN THE MOUNTAINS--EL CAFETAL
  V.  THE MOSQUITO
  VI.  SPIRITING AWAY--WHERE IS THE BALLAHOO?
  VII.  THE DEVIL'S GULLY
  VIII.  MY UNCLE
  IX.  OCCIDENTAL VAGARIES
  X.  THE MOONBEAM
  XI.  THE BREAKING WAVE
  XII.  THE END OF THE YARN



THE CRUISE OF THE MIDGE.



CHAPTER I.

A HAIRBREADTH ESCAPE.

I must either have been weaker, or the opiate stronger than the doctor
expected, for it was near midnight before I awoke.  Although still very
low and faint, I felt much refreshed and invigorated.  For some time I
lay enjoying the coolness of the night air, and listening to the
chirping of the crickets, in the crevices of the lofty roof.  There was
not the smallest noise besides to be heard in the house, and every
thing without was equally still.  At my bedside, on the right hand,
there stood a small old-fashioned ebony table, inlaid with
mother-of-pearl, with several phials, a bottle of wine, and glasses on
it, an open book, the leaves kept down on one side by a most enticing
uncut pine-apple, and a large brown wax candle, burning dimly in its
tall massive silver candlestick.  A chair of the same substance and
antique character, and richly carved, was set beside this table, over
the high perpendicular back of which hung a seaman's jacket, and a
black silk neckerchief, as if the wearer had recently been reading
beside me, and very possibly watching me.  I listened--all continued
silent; and I turned, but still with great pain, towards the open
window or balcony that projected into and overhung the neighbouring
thoroughfare.  The moonlight streamed through the casement, and, with a
sensation of ineffable pleasure, I gloated on the bright stars beyond,
deep set into the dark blue sky, while the cool night breeze, charged
with the odour of the pine-apple, breathed gently, and oh! how passing
sweetly, on my feverish temples!

From the pain experienced in moving, I only turned half-round, and
therefore lay in a position that prevented my seeing more than the
upper part of the large window; but I gradually slewed myself, so as to
lie more on my side.  "Heaven and earth, there he is again!"  My heart
fluttered and beat audibly.  My breathing became impeded and irregular,
and large drops of ice-cold perspiration burst from my forehead and
face; for _there_, with his head leaning on his hand, his arm resting
on the window sill, and motionless as the timber on which he reclined,
his beautiful features upturned towards the pale cold moon, and full in
the stream of her mild effulgence, sat the apparition of young Henry De
Walden!  I tried to speak, but my breath failed, and a sudden giddiness
came over me.  "I am gone at last," thought I.  "I know what his coming
twice betokens--Henry, I will soon be with you!"

      *      *      *      *      *

I had fainted away.  When I again opened my eyes, I was so dizzy and
confused, that I did not know where I was.  My wound was giving me
great pain, and I turned with difficulty on my other side, towards
where the table stood.  Believing that I was fast dying, and that I
should soon be "a thing immortal as itself," I did not even start when
I saw the same figure, whose appearance had so agitated me before, now
seated at the table, apparently reading.  "The third time," thought
I--"it should be so--it should be so--Heaven receive my repentant soul!"

At this moment the door opened, and some one, dressed like a seaman,
slid into the room.  As he approached the table, the apparition of the
young midshipman slowly lifted its head, and peered into the darkness.
From the dimness of the taper it appeared unable to make out what
approached, for the ghost now took up the snuffers, and snuffed the
candle as scientifically as if it had once inhabited the tallow-tainted
carcass of a scene-shifter.

"Confound these old-fashioned snuffers, the spring is broken!"

My eyes opened at this, wider, I believe, than they had ever done
before, and my ears tingled.  "What a speech from an inhabitant of the
other world!" thought I.

"Oh! is it you, Joe Peak?" quoth the handsome spectre; "why do you
steal in and startle one so, you little villain?  Hush--off with these
heavy shoes of yours, and come and sit down, will ye?"

Master Joey, who, I knew, was in the body as yet at any rate, now came
forward into the light, and drawing a chair, sat down fronting the
apparition.

"Well, Henry, my lad, how is master Benjamin--better?"

"A good deal--if that old French medico has not poisoned him outright
with laudanum.  He has slept since twelve at noon--and what's the hour
now, Joey?"

"Gone eight bells--so go and turn in, De Walden, and I will take my
spell here."

"Thank you, and so I will.  But here, take a glass of vin-de-grave;"
and, to my great wonderment, the spectre and man of flesh hobbed and
nobbed together with all the comfort in life.  "Have you seen Lennox
this afternoon?"

"Yes, I saw him about eight o'clock," said Peak; "the alcalde has given
up all the money that was taken from"--here he nodded towards me--"when
he was stabbed by the raggamuffin he had fleeced."

"If ever I set foot within a gambling-house again," thought I,--but
finding myself their topic, I lay still, and listened attentively.

"How very extraordinary," continued Joey, "that Lennox, on his way from
Mr. M----'s to the wharf, should have stumbled on the little man, with
the ruffian in the very act of rifling him."

"Why, he did not rifle me," said I, faintly.  They both started, and
looked towards me.  "He did not rob me, for I distinctly recollect his
starting off when he stabbed me."

"Ay, sir, that was to see if he had been sure in his blow--for Lennox
came on him after he returned, just as he struck his stiletto into you
the second time, as you lay on the ground, and after having, with the
speed of thought, seized the _bolsa_ with the doubloons."

"Wounded me twice!  Upon my honour," said I, fumbling in my bosom, "and
so he has--the villain."

Mr Peak continued--"From the marine's account, he himself had a tough
job of it, for if he had not got hold of the knife, that had dropped
during the scuffle, _he_ would have been done for, in place of having
_finished_ the bravo."

"_Finished_ the bravo!  Is the man who wounded me dead, then?"

"Not yet, sir," continued Mr Peak.  "But he cannot live, I hear--Lennox
made sure work of it.  He told me himself, that in his desperation he
passed the knife into him, until his thumb was stopped by his
ribs--none of your back blows, but a straight thrust--a regular
pig-butcher's _slide_, sir."

"_Pig-butcher's slide!_ how classical!  If he had not deserved it,"
said I, "I would have been sorry that a fellow-creature's blood had
been shed even in my defence."

"No, no," quoth De Walden, "it was, more properly speaking, in Lennox's
own defence; for the villain, not content with killing you, as he
thought he had done, and robbing you besides, would most assuredly have
served the poor Scotchman the same way, if he had not been beforehand
with him."

"But where is Lennox?"

"The town-guard, who had heard the row, came up just as he had mastered
his opponent, sir; and the poor fellow, with great discretion, made no
attempt to escape, so he is now a prisoner, along with the wounded man;
but he is quite cool and collected, and the moment you can give your
evidence, there is not the smallest doubt but he will be instantly
released."

"And yourself, De Walden--by what miracle do I see you here?"

"By next to a miracle, indeed, my dear sir," said he, smiling; then,
with an altered countenance, he continued--"The worst among us, sir, is
not yet a fiend--no human heart is altogether evil--and I owe my life
to the very man who tried to take _yours_--to the fellow who stabbed
you, sir.  But I am forgetting myself altogether--you must take your
draught again, sir, and to-morrow forenoon you shall know all.  In the
mean time I must entreat you to take some rest, if you can, and I will
go and turn in."

"I say, De Walden, what is that dropping there?"

"You are always making slops, Joe," said the other, as he rose to go
away; "why, what _have_ you spilt next?"

"Spilt?" rejoined Peak, "hand me the light, for, by the powers, I
believe that Mr Brail himself is _spilling_,--if not quite entirely
_spilt_--see here."

True enough; the wound in my breast, which, although not deep, the
knife having been stopped by the bone, was lacerated, had burst out
afresh, either from my motion or _emotion_, and a black stream now
trickled over the sheet that covered the red-leather mattrass of the
quatre on which I rested, and fell tap-tap on the floor.

"Run, run, De Walden--call the doctor's assistant--he sleeps in the
next room," cried little Peak.

In a moment the Spaniard was with us, without his clothes, but _with_
his bandages and lint, and as the operation was a very simple one, I
was soon put to rights again; but I took the hint, and asked for no
more information that night.  De Walden now rose and wished me
good-night, saying, as little Peak took charge of the deck, "You are to
call Mrs Gerard at daylight, Joey--so clap a stopper on your jaw, you
little villain, and don't speak one word, _even if he desires you_."

"Pah, you be hanged, De Walden," quoth Joey.

So, satisfied and thankful for what I now did know, and in the hope of
learning _all_ to-morrow, I took the draught, turned on my sound side,
and slept in Elysium.

      *      *      *      *      *

Next morning, when I awoke, the sun had already risen, and shone
cheerily through the open casement.  Several black female domestics
were busy setting the room in which I lay in order, and a middle-aged
respectable-looking white woman employed in sewing, now occupied the
chair in which the ghost of De Walden sat the previous night, while
busied in the etherial occupation of eating pine-apple and drinking
vin-de-grave.

Seeing I was awake, she spoke--"I hope you feel yourself better this
morning; you have had a very quiet night, sir, Mr Peak says."

"Thank you, I do feel wonderfully refreshed.  Pray, are you one of the
family?"

"No, sir, I am the wife of the captain of the American brig, whose crew
you, and your friend Mr Lanyard, saved from perishing of thirst."

"What! are you the poor woman whom I found in the cabin with her child?"

"I am, sir; and I hope heaven will reward you for it.  My husband has
been here often, sir, to enquire after you.  His vessel is consigned to
Mr Duquesné, sir; how happy he will be to find you so much better, when
he calls at dinner time to-day!"

"How came it that I was carried into this house?  Mr Duquesné's, I
believe--a Frenchman, from the name?"

"You were wounded close to it, sir, and the marine who found you,
thinking you were dying, requested the guard, after they had taken the
man who stabbed you, to allow you to be carried in here; and I thank
Heaven that you have fallen into such good hands, and that I have had
it in my power to be of some use to you, as a sick-nurse."

To let the reader behind the curtain without more palaver, I shall
bring my log up to the present speaking, in three words or so:--Mr
Duquesné, in whose hospitable mansion I now lay badly wounded, was a
French merchant of high repute in Havanna.  He was a widower, and had
an only daughter, Sophie, the beautiful brunette that I had seen
hanging over De Walden at the easel.  The manager of his New York
establishment, an American gentleman of the name of Hudson, whose son
was a lieutenant in the Yankee frigate anchored in the port, was at
this time, with his wife and daughter, on a visit to him, having come
down in the man-of-war.  Mr Hudson had a twofold object in this visit;
first, to arrange some mercantile transactions with his partner; and
secondly, to take possession of a large coffee property, that he had
lately inherited in right of his wife.

Sophie Duquesné and Helen Hudson were bosom friends, according to the
rule observed in all similar cases; and as for the gentlemen of the
family, Mr Duquesné, the papa, was a stout but very handsome man,
apparently about fifty.  He did not, in the most remote degree, fall in
with one's notions of a Frenchman; verily I would have sworn he never
had eaten a frog in his life.  He was punctiliously well-bred, spoke
English tolerably, and Spanish perfectly well; and, under Providence, I
have to thank him that I am now inditing this authentic record.  Had I
been his own son, he could not have had me more tenderly cared for.  Mr
Hudson was a tall, sallow person, with a good dash of the Yankee in his
outward man, and a little flavour of the same in his accent and
phraseology; but an upright merchant, well read in the literature of
the day, a tolerable linguist, and more liberal in his opinions than
most of his countrymen.  He had travelled a good deal on the Continent,
and had spent three years in England, partly for his wife's health, and
partly for the education of his only daughter, Helen.  But his wife
was, without exception, one of the most ladylike persons I ever beheld.
She was an heiress of one of the best families in Philadelphia, and in
her youth had been a beauty; even now she was an exceedingly fine
woman, very tall, with fine dark hair and eyes, and a most delicate
complexion.  Her smile was absolutely irresistible.

"But, Master Benjie, let us have a small view of Miss Helen Hudson,
whom you have taken so much pains _not_ to describe."

"All in good time, _mon ami_--all in good time; but here comes De
Walden."

"Good morning, Mr Brail; you seem much better.  Mrs Hudson has Dr
Delaville's permission to offer you some coffee and toast this morning."

"Well, do you know, I think I could eat it."

Breakfast was accordingly brought, and I made a deuced good one.
Excellent coffee, bread most beautiful, all the concomitants delicate
in the extreme; even the cool water in the small porous earthen jar,
that flanked a magnificent red snapper, was an unspeakable luxury.  The
very privilege of grasping the dewy neck of the little vessel, in the
act of helping yourself, was worth a Jew's eye.

"So, Master De Walden, shake hands, will ye, that I may be certain you
are really flesh and blood; and tell me how came it that you were not
drowned, my lad, when you fell overboard on the bar?"

"The only way that I can account for it, my dear sir," said the
handsome young fellow, laughing, "is, that I suppose I am fated to a
drier death."

"I would not hear thine enemy say so," quoth I.

"However, my tale is easily told:--You remember, sir, that I was
standing close beside you, when you were jamming the Spanish schooner
on the reef?"--I nodded--"I got a regular souse, and must have sank
some way, but I never lost my recollection.  When I rose amidst the
breakers on the bar, I found myself in the very thick of the wreck of
the schooner, and, close to me, five poor devils clinging to her
mainboom, with the sea breaking over them every moment.  One of them
presently parted company and disappeared; and finding that the spar was
anchored by the topping-lifts and boomsheet to the hull of the vessel
that had swamped, part of which as yet held together, I left it, and
struck put for a large piece of wreck, apparently several deck planks,
kept together by part of two beams, when the deck had blown up.  I
reached it, and found two men already on it,--one of them a Spaniard,
the other an Englishman, as he instantly addressed me in English, in
answer to some sudden exclamation of mine, on first clambering on to
the planks.  My surprise at this was great, and so was his, I make no
doubt; but the unruly surge was more surprising than all, for another
sea rolled over us, and the Spaniard alone remained.  The next moment I
saw my countryman struggling in the water close to me, but so weak that
it was clear he must instantly sink if not succoured.  As I looked, a
piece of a sweep, belonging to the schooner, surged against me, and
nearly drove me off my perch; I caught it, and shoving the blade to the
drowning man, with some danger of being unroosted myself in the
attempt, it reached him: he held on, and I got him once more on the
planks.  He was a gruff savage, however, and scarcely seemed to relish
my saving him at all at first.  He had been stunned, forsooth, by a
blow on the head from a piece of floating wreck when he sank, or he
could _easily_ have resumed his place on the spar again without my
assistance; and I daresay he said true, only I did not much admire his
manners in the declaration, all things considered: indeed, I soon
perceived that his physical endurance and bodily strength were greatly
superior to mine.  Both of us saw--as for the third of the trio, he
appeared almost dead from fatigue or fear, and we could get no
assistance from him either by advice or labour--that unless we could
get the piece of the wreck we clung to out of the broken water, we must
inevitably be washed off and perish.  With one accord, we therefore
contrived to hold up the blade of the sweep, so as to expose the flat
of it to the land-wind, and in a few minutes we had the inexpressible
delight to find that we had slid into smooth water.  Cold comfort, you
will say, to find ourselves drifting out to sea, on so frail a
conveyance; but the escape from immediate and impending death made one
of us at least most thankful to Heaven for the chance of escape,
however slender, thus presented to us; although my judgment told me at
the same time, that it would prove, in all human likelihood, nothing
more than a reprieve, and that none of the longest.  When the day
broke, the breeze, as you may remember, shifted and blew on shore
again, where, by the aid of the sweep blade once more, we landed about
noon, faint from hunger and thirst, I don't know which was most
violent, and fatigue.  The seaman I had saved was a large and
exceedingly powerful man, with immense whiskers, and his strong but
very handsome features bronzed almost black by the sun.  His limbs were
beautifully moulded, and he had the chest and neck of a Hercules: both
he and the other poor creature, who came ashore more dead than alive,
were dressed in white trowsers, and shirts made of some blue cotton
stuff, and wore the long Spanish knife, stuck through red silk sashes.
'What is to be done now?' said I to my new friend; but he by this time
had got his wits about him, and pretended that he did not understand
me, confining himself to Spanish in his reply.  'Now, that won't do, my
good sir,' I said; 'you spoke as good English on these planks there as
I do, and you understood me well enough when I called to you to lay
hold of the blade of the sweep, when'----

"'I was drowning, you would say, young gentleman,' interjected he of
the sash and stiletto.  'It is very true I am an Englishman, and you
will find me not ungrateful, although, Heaven knows, the life you have
preserved is no boon to'----He checked himself, and proceeded--'But it
is lucky for you that you have made a friend of me, for otherwise,
although you have escaped the perils of the sea, you could not have
eschewed the certain death that would now await you, from those you
must mingle with, were it not that I am here to ward it off.'

"And time it was, indeed, for him to make some demonstration in my
behalf; for the half-drowned devil, that we had been the means of
saving between us, by getting the piece of wreck to shore, now began,
like a wasp that you have picked out of a honeypot, to revive and whet
his sting, and to fumble with his long knife, looking at me all the
while very ominously.  My protector, noticing that I shrunk behind him,
for I was altogether unarmed, immediately said something sternly to his
companion in Spanish; and the other continuing to grumble, he made a
sudden snatch at his knife, and cast it from him as far as he could
into the sea.

"'Now, young gentleman,' said my preserver, 'I don't care who you are,
although I conceive I am not wrong in surmising you to be a midshipman
of that infernal felucca that has been the cause of ruining me and my
hopes; but, notwithstanding, if I can help it, you shall come to no
harm; so lend a hand, let us have a search for water--there must be
some hereabout in the crevices of the rocks above high-water mark,
brackish though it may be--and I will try to pick up some sea-birds'
egg's.  Antonio!' shouted he, in a voice of authority, to the other man
who had hung astern, 'venga el fuego.'

"By this time he had several pieces of driftwood in his hand, and
having secured the flint and steel which the Spaniard had in a small
bag, that he carried at his waist for lighting his cigar, by jerking
them forcibly away, he put them in his pocket; and the comely personage
who had taken a fancy to scour his steel in my brisket, and I,
separated to look for water.  It was not long before I succeeded, and
setting up a shout, my two allies were soon beside me.  The Englishman,
having first soaked it in fresh water, now spread the tinder on the
rock, where the hot sun instantly dried it.  He then struck a light,
and taking half-a-dozen wild sea-fowls' eggs out of the net-bag that he
usually wore his hair in, we roasted them, and found them deucedly
fishy, but palatable enough, under the circumstances; and having drank
of the water in the crevice, we immediately proceeded, much refreshed,
towards the bank of the river, where I had so unceremoniously parted
company the previous night.

"I cannot tell with what bitterness of heart I turned as we left the
beach, and, shading my eyes with my hand from the intolerable glare of
the glass-like sea, beheld the felucca and frigate communicating in the
offing.  I felt like a criminal under sentence of death, and the time
of execution close at hand.  But I had no alternative.  Escape was
utterly impracticable; and, therefore, making a merit of necessity, I
endeavoured to assume an air of confidence in my fierce-looking guide,
although, Heaven knows, I was inwardly shrinking from him with
instinctive abhorrence.

"When we arrived at the shore of the river, we found a group of five
negroes, who were apparently watching the motions of the vessels out at
sea.  They and my conductors communed together in bad Spanish for a
minute.  I could not well make out what they said, hut it evidently
related to some more of the schooner's crew having been saved, and
presently we did see three miserable half-drowned-looking creatures
shove out from beyond a small headland of the river above us, in a
canoe, and paddle into the stream, with an intention, apparently, of
crossing to the other side; but the tide was by this time too strong
for them, weak as they were, and was setting them fast down on the bar.

"My English companion, seeing them in doubt whether to put about or
push across, hailed.  This made them lie on their paddles to
reconnoitre us.  They seemed instantly to make him out, and, with a
shout of recognition, they pulled as rapidly as their exhausted state
would let them towards us, until they floated in the dead water under
the bank, within pistol-shot.  But the sight of me seemed to stagger
them a bit.

"'Quien es, quien es el muchacho?'--(Who is he--who is the
youngster?)--said one of them.

"'One of the crew of the felucca, that fell overboard when the schooner
went to pieces on the bar.'

"'But are you sure there are no more of the English villains on shore,
captain?'

"'Quite certain--not one;--so approach, will ye, and take us off?'--But
they still hung in the wind, until my protector, losing temper, sung
out, with a ferocity in his tone and manner that made me start, 'You
cowardly hounds--you beasts--what do you fear?  You see the coast is
clear--that there is no one near us.  One _cuchilado_ [blow with a
knife], and the boy is dead at my feet.'  Still they seemed irresolute,
and, finding it bad policy to threaten men he could not reach, he tried
the other tack, and turned to the man beside us.  'Speak, Pedro, and
tell them I say true.'

"The man, who had as much reason to dread being left alone on the shore
as we had, instantly did so, and with better success, for presently
they took us on board, when with our aid the canoe was safely paddled
across, and subsequently up the river; so that, by the time the night
fell, we were again at the ruins of the house that had been burned in
the attack, and abreast of the polacre brig, lying sunk where we had
left her.

"I shall remember until my dying day the fierce looks of the survivors
of the polacre's crew, whom we found employed in getting up a temporary
roof of palm branches over a corner of the ruined building, when they
saw me, and learned who I was.  I began to think that it was by no
means certain that the person who had promised me protection would be
able to keep his word.

"As the night fell, a large fire was lit in the centre of the open
space where the fetish temple stood, soon after which several negroes
and three white Spaniards joined us.  I soon gathered from their
conversation that they belonged to a large slaver that lay farther up,
and having heard the firing on the previous day, they had descended as
scouts to ascertain the cause; but seeing the polacre sunk in the
stream, and the conflagration on the opposite bank to where they were,
they had waited until now before venturing across, and until they had
been assured by a native canoe that the British force was entirely out
of the river.

"Information as to their intentions was every thing to me, so I
determined to conceal my knowledge of Spanish, slight though it might
be; and as I looked round the circle of white desperadoes and black
savages, on whom the large fire cast a bright but flickering glare,
that made their bodily proportions and wild features flit and glimmer,
as if they had been a dream of gibbering demons, I endeavoured to
appear calm and collected, and to avoid fixing my eyes on the speaker,
whoever he might be, although, God he knows, with what breathless and
palpitating eagerness I drank in every word I could make out, while my
alarm fearfully construed many that I did not understand.

"By this time it was quite dark, and my new associates having made a
full meal on goat's flesh and yams, a large jar of Spanish brandy was
produced, and each man had a portion served to him by one of the black
fellows, who walked round the circle with a small drinking cup,
hollowed out of a gourd, or calabash, followed by another dingy, more
than half-naked devil, carrying a larger vessel of the same kind, full
of abominably bad water.

"The Englishman now stood up in the centre.

"'Jose Ribas,' said he, in a steady determined tone, gracefully yet
firmly poising himself on his right leg, and stretching out his right
arm, while his left hand rested easily on his hip, as he addressed a
very handsome young Spaniard, who sat on the ground nearly opposite to
me, 'you know, and all here know, that to give you a chance of weighing
the polacre, as well as to revenge your injuries, and the loss of your
comrades, I attacked the felucca, and in consequence was lost on the
bar.'--He paused.--'Yes, you see the whole surviving crew of the Santa
Anna before you in these four men and myself; and you need not be told,
that in consequence of the wreck of my schooner, I am a ruined
man--don't force me to become a _desperate_ one.  You are now, Jose
Ribas, commanding-officer of the Maria, in consequence of poor Isidoro
Ladron's death, and you also know that you have not hands left of your
own to run her out to Havanna.  Now, I will join you with my people
here, on one condition.'

"'You must join us on any condition,' grumbled several of the white
Spaniards.  'We shall not go to sea with Jose Ribas as our captain,
unless you are with us.  He is _uno muchacho_ [a mere boy]; so name
your condition, captain; he _must_ and shall subscribe to it at once.'

"'Then it is simply this--this young Englishman, saved my life when I
was sinking--ay, after he had fallen overboard from his own vessel, and
had nothing between himself and death but the plank he clung to.  He
saved _my life!_--You know, since the coast now swarms with enemies,
that you will need _my help_--you know it.'

"'Si, si--es cierto, cierto.'

"'Then this young Englishman must neither be injured nor left amongst
the savages here.  He _must_ go with us.'--(Here some of the ruffians
made very unequivocal demonstrations).--'Ay, you may threaten, but _it
is_ the price of my services.'

"Suddenly they all appeared to acquiesce.

"'So here, give me another knife.'--He crossed them--(Hamlet, thought
I)--'Swear by the blessed Mary, the patroness of your polacre, that it
shall not be your fault if he be not safely landed at Havanna.'

"'But he will inform on us to the comissionados [commissioners] at
Havanna, when we get there.'

"'He will not,' rejoined he fiercely,--'_He shall not_.'  Then turning
to me--'Young gentleman, bear me out; your life depends on it.  Promise
you will in no way bring them into trouble if you can help it.'

"I did so.

"'_There_, he promises, and I will be answerable for him that he keeps
his word--so swear.'

"They took the oath, and each one of the white Spaniards, the survivors
of the two crews, now reduced to twenty-three, shook hands with me, and
kissed the crossed blades, and from that moment we were as cordial as
pickpockets.

"Shortly after we all lay down to sleep, with the exception of one of
our party, who stood sentry until relieved by another.

"About twelve at night, when I awoke, the fire had sunk to a mass of
glowing embers in the centre of a circle of white ashes, rayed with
charred branches; and the moon was shining clear and bright overhead,
and sparkling in the clustered dewdrops that hung thickly on the
laurel-like bushes around us, as they were shaken from the overhanging
trees in showers of diamonds, at every swell of the passing night-wind.

"The buzz and murmur, indescribable to one who has never heard it, of
the myriads of living things, crickets, and lizards, and insects, and
night-flies, of innumerable varieties, blended with the moaning of the
river, as it rushed in the distance; while the loud croak of the
tree-toad, and the whistle of a large lizard, would for a moment gush
out from the lulling monotony, clear and distinct, like a louder
night-cry above the declining hum of a distant city.

"There was something touchingly melancholy in the aspect of nature,
thus lying in a trance; and as I gazed on the ferocious brigands that
lay around me, the mild light floating over their brawny and half-naked
figures, and glancing on their knives and arms, and perceived that they
all slept gently, as so many inoffensive and innocent children, could I
forget they were men like myself?

"But there was one there who _did not_ sleep--it was the Englishman who
had taken me under his protection.  He was sitting about three fathoms
apart from the men, under the shadow of a wild tamarind-tree, whose
small elegant leaves, shaped like those of the sensitive plant, were
not sufficient to prevent the moonlight struggling through them, and
falling in flickering beams on his face, which I could notice he turned
upwards towards heaven.  His lips moved, and he withdrew one of his
hands on which he had leant, as he sat on the ground, and clasped both
on his bosom; and several bright drops chased each other across his
face, but whether they were dew-spangles, that the breeze had shaken
from the tree above, or tears of repentance for a misspent life, can
only now be known to that Almighty Being who searcheth the heart.
Hush! he has knelt.  Is he praying?  For a minute his attitude was one
of deep devotion: his hands were clasped under his chin, and his head
was bent towards the ground.  Presently he clasped both hands on the
crown of his head, and bent forward as if there had been a weight
crushing his temples to the earth.  I could see his chest heave, and
heard him sob audibly; and two of my senses must have deceived me, or I
now heard several large tears drop with a small patter, amongst the
withered leaves, and sparkle as they fell in the pure moonlight.  Anon
a wreath of white mist floated up from the river, and obscured the
moon.  The noxious exhalation was like to suffocate us, as it gradually
settled down so thick, that every thing seemed magnified and dim as
when seen through a winter's fog in England.  'Ay,' said he bitterly,
as he raised his head, and dropped his hands by his side, 'we have had
none of the fen-damp the whole night, until this moment; but what other
answer to my prayers could _I_ look for?'

"One of the men here awoke.  He started like a guilty thing, and
drawing his large cloak over his shoulders, cast a rapid and suspicious
glance around him, and lay down once more--whether to sleep or not, I
cannot tell.

"The day at length broke, the sea-breeze set in, the sun shone
cheerily, even on that dreary river's brink, and rolled off the heavy
fog that had overlaid us like a damp cold shroud in the night, and all
was bustle again.

"Another slaver came down the river this forenoon.  Her water-casks
were instantly had on deck, and bunged tightly, and at low water stowed
away in the stranded polacre's hold, and secured just under the beams,
along with the whole of her own, similarly prepared; so that when the
next tide made, and flowed into her, she floated, and was towed by the
boats of both vessels into one of the numberless muddy creeks, that
opened like so many dirty lanes from the river on each side; at the
ebb, she was hove down by the stems of two large trees, and careened.
It was found that the shot fired into the hold, which had sunk her, had
only damaged two planks of the garboard streak.  These were soon
removed, and substantially replaced; and within a week she was again at
anchor in the river, with wood, water, and provisions on board, and
once more all as ready, as if nothing had happened, to receive her
cargo of slaves.

"The Englishman, during the whole of this period, was the prime mover.
His energy and skill astonished me; and I was often surprised how the
Spaniards submitted to his reckless, nay, savage way of knocking them
about; but a look was always sufficient to check their grumblings.  At
length, every thing being ready for a start, the slaves were taken on
board, and secured--and both vessels, the brig that had assisted us,
and the polacre, dropped down to within two miles of the bar, ready for
sea.

"I confess I did not perceive so much suffering among the poor
kidnapped savages as I expected.  Few of them seemed to regret leaving
Africa; in fact, the bitterness of parting from home and friends had
long been over with most of them, as none were natives of the coast;
and as they had been badly lodged, and worse fed, on shore, with the
agreeable variety of being decimated every now and then as a sacrifice
to the fetish, the comparative improvement of their condition on
board--so far as the supply of their animal wants, and a sound sleep,
went, even although the last was taken in a crowded hold, savouring of
any thing but otto of roses--seemed to render them much more joyous
than I had ever seen them while cooped up in the depots on the river's
banks.  It is true, that in consequence of our attack, the cargo was by
no means so large as it would otherwise have been, so the poor
creatures had more room.

"We sailed, and kept well away to the southward, for two reasons;
first, to steer clear of you, and, secondly, to fall in with the
breeze, which is stronger at this season of the year in that direction
than more northerly.  In both objects we succeeded, for we arrived here
a week before you, and must therefore have escaped the calms and light
winds that baffled you.

"We fell in with several vessels on the voyage, all of which we
outsailed but one.  It was an English eighteen-gun brig, that beat us
fairly going free, and kept way so well with us on a wind, that the
captain beat to quarters, piped the hammocks up, triced up the boarding
nettings, and saw all clear for action.  He had continued very kind to
me throughout the voyage, giving me a cot in his own cabin; but he was,
notwithstanding, morose and melancholy, seldom mixing much even with
his own officers; on the occasion of our being chased, however, his eye
lightened, his brow smoothed and expanded, and his whole features
expressed a joy, mixed with the sternest determination, that I had
never seen them wear before.  And this increased as our chance of
escape diminished; for when he finally saw that the sloop was
forereaching on us, and most probably would weather us next tack, he
became absolutely frantic with delight, and walked rapidly about the
deck, laughing and rubbing his hands, to the unutterable surprise of
the trembling crew, who were grouped at quarters, staring one moment in
fear and dread at the enemy, who was jamming them up in the wind, and
the next at their extraordinary captain.

"'What can he mean?' said they--'_he_ will be hanged if we are
taken--_he_ runs more risk than we do--what cause of joy can _he_
have?'  No one could answer the question.

"The Englishman had trained, as carefully and fully as time would admit
during the voyage, about fifty Corromantee negroes, the bravest race of
all Central Africa, to the guns, and he now suddenly desired them to be
piped on deck, and sent to quarters.  Jose Ribas, the superseded mate
of the polacre, demurred to this, and the grumbling amongst the crew
increased.  'Why bring the negroes on deck, captain?' said he--'our
game is to confine our endeavours to trying to escape, and not to
fight; you must be aware, if it comes to blows, that we have no chance
with that English sloop of war down to leeward there.'

"The man he spoke to, at this turned round on him with the most
withering and hellish expression of countenance that I ever beheld.  'I
did not _ask_ to command this polacre--you know I did not--but now
since I have taken that unsought-for task upon me, it is not in a
moment like the present that I will resign it.'

"There was a pause, during which the captain had turned from the
Spaniard, and resumed his walk on the quarterdeck.  As he turned,
seeing him still there, he walked close up to him, and made a dead stop.

"'Forward to your station, Jose Ribas,' he sung out loud and savagely,
after having glared at him like an enraged tiger, for nearly a minute
without speaking, and drawing a pistol from his belt, he cocked it,
'or, by the God that made me, I will send this bullet through your
cowardly heart.'

"The man slunk away forward, holding up the palm of his hand to the
side of his face, as if, expecting to be fired at, he had thought he
might thereby ward off the bullet.  I saw that the fiend within him was
only now roused, although the demoniacal mirth, formerly exhibited, had
given way to a stern composure, that seemed to awe the rough and
boisterous crew over which he held control, into the most abject
submission.  They immediately got the trained slaves on deck, and there
were the piebald groups, half-clad whites, and entirely naked blacks,
clustered round the guns, more frightened apparently for their captain
than the enemy down to leeward.  The polacre carried two long twelves
and ten eighteen-pound medium guns, a description of cannon between a
carronade and long gun, much in use amongst the contraband slavers; but
she was pierced for twenty.  Both vessels were on the starboard tack,
so it was the larboard guns that in the present instance were cast
loose.  After the captain had carefully taken the bearings of the brig,
by a compass that he had placed on the capstan, he made one or two
quick turns fore and aft on the weather side of the quarterdeck, with
his hand behind his back, and his eyes fixed on the planks, as if he
were finally making up his mind what course to pursue.

"'The brig has hoisted an English ensign and pennant, sir,' said one of
the crew.  He took no notice of the man, who immediately slunk away to
his gun again.

"'Are the guns double-shotted?' at length said he, without
discontinuing his walk, or raising his head.

"'No,' said Jose Ribas.

"'Then double-shot them instantly.'  It was done.  'Now, get the two
long twelves aft, and train them through the stern chase ports,--stand
by to lower away the boat; and get two of the larboard guns over to
windward, do you hear?'  This order was promptly carried into effect,
although the battery next the enemy was thus disarmed of three cannon,
to the surprise and great dismay of the Spaniards, who did not seem to
know what to make of his tactics, and, privateer fashion, began again
to grumble in their gizzards.  'Silence, men;--secure the guns to
leeward there, and man the starboard broadside, do you hear--quick.'
In an instant the grumbling ceased, and the command was obeyed.
'Boatswain, call away the sail trimmers, and see all clear to let go
every thing by the run, when I give the word to shorten sail.'

"By this time a squall was roughening the sea to windward, and
presently white crests began to break amidst the dark water.  He jumped
on a gun carriage, and took a long steady look in the quarter from
whence he seemed to expect the wind to come, shading his eyes from the
sun with his hand.  The sloop at this moment fired at us, and every
hand on deck but himself looked out anxiously to see where the shot
dropped.  He never moved.  Another puff of white smoke from the brig,
and this time the bullet struck the water close under our martingale,
and ricochetted along the sea across our bows.  Seeing we were within
range, the sloop of war now let fly her whole broadside; and presently
several ropes that had been taught enough before, were streaming out
like pennants, but no serious damage was sustained.

"We were, if any thing, lying closer to the wind than our antagonist,
but she was going faster through the water, and had forereached on us
so far as to be well before our beam by this time.  The squall was now
very near us, and neither vessel had as yet taken in a rag, but it was
evident that we must soon shorten sail, as we were lying over so as to
bury our lee guns in the water, and both vessels were thrashing and
tearing through it like smoke, the water flashing up as high as the
foretop of the brig, and roaring at our bows like hoarse thunder.

"The captain was still standing on the gun, one moment looking at the
weather, the next casting his eyes upwards, to see how the spars stood
the strain, and now, at the very moment when the strength of the squall
struck us, he jumped down, seized the helm, and jammed it hard to
windward.  'Ease off the lee braces--round in the weather ones,' pealed
through his trumpet.  'That will do--let go nothing--keep all fast!'
The masts were bending forward like willow wands--the back-stays like
iron rods.  I expected to see the lighter sails fly out of the
bolt-ropes every moment, if indeed the masts did not go over the side.

"The squall was now so thick, that we could not see our antagonist; but
I noticed that the captain had carefully kept his eyes on her, so long
as he could distinguish her, and glanced earnestly at the compass when
she disappeared amidst the thick weather.  We had now bore up dead
before the wind, and were running, so far as I could judge, directly
for the brig.

"In another minute, we dimly discovered, first the stern and aftersails
of our antagonist, and then the whole hull, in the very thickest of the
squall, but scarcely visible amongst the white spray and drift.  She
was now under her reefed topsails and courses, but still on the same
tack.  We flew down towards her like lightning, hands by the topgallant
and topsail halyards, with an intention apparently of shaving her
stern.  'Surely these brigands won't have the audacity to rake her,'
said I to myself, 'seeing she can beat them going free.'  As we
approached, the brig, foreseeing our intention, kept off the wind also;
but we were too quick for her, and were now, as she was in the very act
of wearing, within the chuck of a biscuit of her tafferel.  By this
manoeuvre, it will be seen that our strongest broadside, viz. the
starboard one, was now opposed to the enemy.  'Fire!' sung out the
captain, in a voice that made me start again.  Heaven have mercy on me!
I could hear the shot smash, and rattle, and tear along the sloop's
deck, and through her hull, but nothing came down as she wore round.
The squall now came thundering upon us at its height.  'Let go all the
halyards by the run,' was the next word, and down came every sail in
the polacre on deck, leaving nothing for the gale to impinge on but the
naked masts and hull, as from her rig she had neither tops nor
top-hamper of any kind.  By this time the brig was also before the
wind, and busy clewing up and furling every thing but her foresail; but
the fury of the squall struck her before the foretopsail could be got
in, and, crash, the topmast went close by the cap.  'Bring the polacre
to the wind now, my lads.  Helm a-starboard, Jose Ribas--that's it.
Set the trysail there--hoist--so, belay every inch;' and by this
manoeuvre the polacre was in a minute hove to on the larboard tack, in
which position the word was given to lower away the boat over the
stern, in order to unmask the sternchasers; but something
jammed--'Unhook her and let her go,'--neither could this be done--'then
cut the tackles, and let her drop from the davits at once, you
lubbers.'  The boat fell into the water with a splash, and the polacre
instantly began to blaze away, from her two long guns, at the brig, by
this time half-a-mile to leeward, repairing damages.  The weather now
cleared as suddenly as it had thickened when the squall came on, and we
kept close by the wind until the evening, when we lost sight of the
brig, and at nightfall again bore up on our course.

"I was seized with fever two days after this, but nothing farther
occurred to the polacre worth recording, until we arrived at Havanna on
that day fortnight.  When we anchored, I was still very weak, and
unable to leave my hammock, which, as before mentioned, was slung in
the captain's cabin.  On the day after we arrived, the slaves were all
cleaned and had on deck, and people set to purify the hold, and get
every thing in order, preparatory to a sale of the poor devils, which
was to take place that afternoon.

"I could hear a number of voices wrangling on deck in Spanish, French,
and English; and after a while the captain came down to the cabin,
followed by several of his customers, whom he had invited to take
refreshments, precisely as a horsedealer treats _his_ after a good
day's sale.  There was a Frenchman, two or three Spanish planters, and
an American gentleman, in the party.  The first and last, happily for
me, proved to be Mr Duquesné, the master of the house we are in, and
his partner, Mr Hudson, who good-naturedly enquired of the captain
which of his officers it was who lay sick in the hammock.  He at once
told them what he knew of me; the tale was romantic enough to engage
their curiosity; and Mr Hudson, with a friendliness that I never can
forget, kindled possibly more warmly in consequence of his son being of
the same profession in the American navy, asked my leave to have me
conveyed on shore to lodgings.  I thanked him, with tears in my eyes;
and by the time he returned for me at nightfall, I had contrived to get
myself dressed as decently as I could--my whole apparel, by the way,
consisting of my trousers and shirt, and a piece of a red silk sash
bound round my waist--and to crawl on deck to await his coming.

"At length he came alongside, and enquired if I was ready.  I said I
was, and turned to thank the captain of the polacre; but although he
had been on deck the moment before, he was now nowhere to be seen.  One
of the people said he had gone down to the cabin, and I accordingly
asked him to give my compliments, and say that I would be happy to
thank him for all his kindness before bidding him good-by; but the man
came to the gangway, and told me that the companion hatch had been
locked from within, and that he dared not open it.  'Very odd sort of
person,' thought I; but as I had no inducement to press my attentions
upon one who had given me so broad a hint to be off, I stepped into the
boat, in which I encountered Mr Duquesné himself, who, on perceiving
that I was so much better than he expected, and that there were no bad
symptoms about me, would not hear of my going to a lodging-house, but
insisted on accommodating me with an apartment in his own.

"I was a good deal perplexed when I was presented to Mrs Hudson and her
daughter, and apologized for my piratical appearance, as I made my
obeisance with my broad-brimmed _chapeau de paille_ in my hand, and my
red silk sash round my waist.  'Why, Mr De Walden,' said she, with a
smile, and a most engaging motherly kindness, 'I must get my boy
William (the young American officer you saw, sir, at the monte-table),
'to _rig_ you, as he calls it; for you are certainly, there is no
denying it, rather a suspicious-looking character at present;' but this
was too near the truth to be comfortable, and I blushed deeply.  'Never
mind, Mr De Walden,' continued she, with the most delicate feminine
perception, seasoned with a spice of archness, however, 'it was no
speech of mine--it was Mademoiselle Sophie who has already christened
you the young brigand.'"

At this part of De Walden's story I looked up--"And pray, _who_ is
Mademoiselle Sophie, who is so ready with her _soubriquets_?"

He reddened like a rose--"Why, sir,--_that is--she is_ Mr Duquesné's
only daughter, sir; you may have seen her."

"I think I have, and I see something else, too," said I, significantly.

"That same evening," he continued, resuming the thread of his discourse
with great celerity, as if desirous of getting me away from observing
his confusion, "one of the servants, as we were drinking coffee,
brought me a sealed packet, that, from its weight, seemed to contain
money.  I opened it--it covered ten doubloons, with these words written
in a bold hand, 'From an outcast, whose heart, although seared to the
world, is warm towards Henry De Walden.--From one who has been
liberally rewarded by the owners of the polacre, and can spare it.'

"'Very absurd and romantic,' said I.

"'Nothing so absurd in ten doubloons, my good boy, I calculate,' quoth
Mr Hudson, scanning my outward man scrutinizingly.

"'Pray, Mr Duquesné, will you be kind enough to ask who brought this?'

"'The man who brought it was dressed like a Batabano smuggler, sir,'
said the servant at whom his master had made the enquiry.

"'Is he below?'

"'No, señor; he said it required no answer, and did not wait.'

"I did not much like receiving this alms at the hands of my fierce
ally; but, under all the circumstances, I thought it prudent to pocket
the affront, without giving farther offence by endeavouring to search
out a man who evidently had no desire to be found; and, publish it not,
I was deucedly in want of a new suit of sails, as you may guess, which
I had no means of compassing otherwise, short of borrowing; from those
who had been but too kind to me already.  I never met the man who had
befriended me afterwards, until the night you were wounded, when I saw
him in the custody of the town guard, faint and bleeding.  I have since
been several times to see him, in prison, but he is more morose and
severe even in his weak state than ever he was at the strongest; and
although he cannot prevent my contributing some little comforts that
his state of body, and the rules of the prison, permit him to enjoy,
still he has never once thanked me; and from his total disregard of all
that the surgeon enjoins, he seems to have made up his mind to die.

"I have now told you all, sir, and here comes your riotous friend, Mr
Listado, to see you.  I hear his laugh on the stairs;" and so saying he
slid out of the room.



CHAPTER II.

A VISION--THE DYING BUCANIER.

And a devil of a noise did this said Mr Listado make.  He rattled up
the staircase, from side to side, like a grape-shot in a carronade;
banging against the heavy balustrades, on one hand, and thundering
against the wall on the other; and speaking and laughing and shouting
to half-a-dozen persons, apparently collected below in the vestibule.
At length the door was dashed open, and in swung the gentleman, with
his flaunting gingham coat and potato face.  "Brail, my darling, how
goes it, my little man?  Enough of _monte_ you have had for a while, I
guess.  But, heaven love me, man, we must have you made fit to receive
company; you are to hold a levee presently, do you know that?  This
will never do; the birds of the air might build in your beard--ah, I
have it;" and he straightway hied him to the window that overlooked the
street, which he threw open, contriving to perform all his operations
with the greatest possible quantity of noise.

"I have it," said he,--"here is little Pepe Biada's shaving-shop right
over against old Pierre Duquesné's domicile; there--next door to Pablo
Carnero, the ham and jerked beef man, so I'll hail Pepe.--Pepe!" bawled
my troublesome friend,--"Pepe Biada--trae su navaja [bring your razor,
you villain] pour shavez un gentilhomme Engles;" and here he grimaced,
and made believe to soap his chin and shave his beard.

My bed had this morning been moved nearer to the window, for the sake
of the fresh air, and I could see, from where I lay, the little Spanish
barber, who was very deaf, sitting in his little shop.  He kept turning
his ear first one side, and then another, in a vain attempt to make out
what was said, as Listado shouted to him, straining over the balcony as
far as he could, in his endeavour to make him hear.--"Navaja y
jamon--navaja y jamon--para afeytar--that is, pour cortar la barba,
that is, cuttibus the beardo of this young fellow."

Here the little withered anatomy of a barber seemed to comprehend him,
and thereupon, with a knowing look, repeated the telegraphic motions of
Monsieur Listado, rubbing his chin and going through the motion of
shaving.

"Si, si," roared Listado, "that is it--navaja y jamon"--literally, a
razor and a _ham_.  Possibly honest Listado, who, with all his ability,
never could compass Spanish, because, as he said, he had previously
learned French, and thus spoke a hash of both, had mistaken the Spanish
word _jamon_ for _xabon_, the latter meaning soap.

Little Pepe first grinned, and then, as Listado persisted, he stepped
into Carnero's shop, and seizing a ham, held it up to his face, as if
he were rubbing his chin on it, and then laughed, like to fall down
where he stood.

Listado at this flew into a great rage--"Abortion chicho, mas monkey
que homo, yo te mataras--vous sera tué--si vous twistibus your damned
ugly mug at migo"----

"Bueno--bueno," roared el barbero, seeing that nothing would do but the
veritable ham and razor--"quedas quieto, yo los traere, Don
Lorenzo"--(Laurence was Listado's name)--then aside, "ave Maria, que
diablo quiere este loco, con navaja para cortar jamon?"  (What the
deuce can this madman want with a razor to cut ham?)

But as Listado was a liberal fellow, and well-known among the brown
tradespeople, the little barber was in my room in a minute, made his
solemn bow at the door, with a large tortoiseshell comb stuck in his
grey pelucca (wig), and his little silver basin and towel under his
arm--his soap-box and razors in the one hand, and, lo! a capital New
York ham in the other.

"Pelukero condeñado--quevas hacer con este pierna de puerco?" (You
infernal wigmaker, what are you going to do with that leg of pork?)

"What am I going to do with it? did you not tell me to fetch a
ham--_jamon_?"

"Yes," replied Listado, "and there it is in your soap-box, you
bothersome little periwig maker--there," striking the utensil out of
his hand up into the air, and cleverly catching it again, when he
seized the soap-brush and stuck it, lather and all, into Pepe's open
mouth--"that is better than tooth-powder for you, Pepe, my darling."

"Ah!" cried little Pepe, laughing and sputtering--"I see--I see--tu me
has pedido para _jamon_, queriendo decir _xabon_--ha, ha, ha!"  (You
have asked me for ham when you wanted soap.)

He at length set to work, and having shaved and trimmed me, I had my
wound dressed, and Mrs Gerard acting the part of nurse, having
previously got my clothes on shore, and, with womanly kindness and
care, had them all washed, and nicely repaired, I had my bed made and
sprinkled with Cologne water, and was soon lying on the top of it,
arrayed in one of Mr Duquesné's splendid flowered nightgowns, with a
silk handkerchief bound round my head, and another in my hand,
moistened with fresh lavender;--the windows were then thrown open--the
room thoroughly ventilated--the floor sprinkled with the aforesaid most
refreshing distillation--and there I lay in state, like a grandee's
wife in the straw, wonderfully refreshed, and quite fit to receive
company.

At this moment, in slid my worthy medico--"Good-morning,
sair--good-morning--you are make de killing preparation to massacre all
de young lady, I see.  Ah, Monsieur Listado, your most obsequious--how
you are, Monsieur Listado?"

The latter bowed his acknowledgments, and made a hop, step, and skip
towards the door, knocking chairs and tables about in his way, at a
devil of a rate--"Oh dere, he makes de much noise as usual--Monsieur
Listado, dis is one sheek room--you hear me?"

But the Irishman was by this time out of the room, hailing those below,
with stentorian lungs, from the uppermost landing-place; the echo of
his voice, and their replies, sounding loud and hollow, as they were
reverberated from side to side of the lofty staircase.

"Dicky Phantom, mount and ascend, you small villain."

A tiny "Ay, ay, sir," floated up from beneath, and I heard a gradually
increasing tap-tapping on the stair, as of a cat shod with walnuts, and
the sound of suppressed girlish laughter.  There was then a halt
called, apparently, and I heard the rush of female footsteps, and the
rustling of light dresses, along the passage, and presently a bustle in
the boudoir already mentioned, as of the placing of music stools.  The
next moment, a harp was struck, and three voices, two female and one
male, accompanied by the instrument, which was struck skilfully and
boldly, pealed along the lofty rooms in most exquisite concord.

"Heyday--why, Listado, my lad, what is all this?"  But he remained
perdue without, and in came Master Dicky Phantom, with his little drawn
cutlass in his hand, mounted on the sheep, followed by Serjeant Quacco,
as his squire.

The music ceased; Listado again made his appearance, and I received
poor Quacco's congratulations, and little Dicky's caresses.

"Oh, massa," said the little fellow, his phraseology having improved
under Quacco's tuition, "Miss Hudson make me very happy; I call her
mamma--does she make you happy too, massa?"

"I have not seen her, my boy," said I, with a funny sort of sensation
about my brisket--how sentimental! for I rather was prepared to like
her somehow; "but for her kindness to you I am very grateful."

Here Listado, who had returned, and seemed to be clumsily practising a
step in the balcony, stumbled, and fell headlong over a Spanish chair,
in an absurd sprawling fashion, like a large frog.  I started, and he
burst into a loud laugh, while the pet-lamb wheeled about so suddenly,
that little Dicky was thrown with a bang on the floor, and began to
cry, when in rushed two girls, and Mrs Hudson; followed by De Walden,
Mr Hudson, and old Mr Duquesné himself.

"There is a scene in a play for you," said I to myself, quite bothered
and confused, as I wagged my head at this one, and nodded to another,
and salaam'd with my fins, with all the grace of a wounded turtle, to a
third.

"You, Monsieur Listado," chirped Doctor Delaville, like to die with
laughter, for the Patlander had chosen to keep his position on the
floor, with his head sticking through below the arm of the chair--"you
make several, many noises sometimes."

"Me!" shouted Listado.  "Lord, doctor, I am noiseless as a cat.  I am
velvet, doctor, in all my ways, walkings, and habitudes--velvet
entirely, doctor--and dumb as a humming-bird, as ye all know.  Why, I
have been compared to a shred of gossamer floating on the calm summer
air, by Helen Hudson there."

"Oh, I forgot--de ladies never will hear nosing against Monsieur
Listado; so my good manner shall make me agree wid dem, and say what
dey say--dat is, you are quiet as von hooracan, and more gentle as de
wild beas, bear you call.  Ah, you make no sound more as de tunder--Ah
ha!"

"Now you are in your senses again, mon cher medico.  Miss Hudson,
Mademoiselle Sophie Duquesné, give me leave to introduce you to--Master
Brail, pilot of His Britannic Majesty's seventy-four gun-ship, the
Midge--Benjamin Brail, Miss Hudson, and Mademoiselle Duquesné--Speak,
Benjie, and let them know you've a tongue in your head, you spalpeen."

I made my acknowledgments to the kind-hearted people, who, after
remaining scarcely long enough for me to get a look at them
individually, withdrew, and left me alone once more with De Walden.

"She is a very pretty girl, that young French lady, De Walden."

The youth had steeled himself by this time I saw, and was not to be
caught again.

"Very, sir--a beautiful figure--but you seemed to notice Miss Hudson
more particularly, sir."

There was a slight smile played for an instant on the handsome fellow's
countenance, and vanished again, as he resumed his reading.

"Hem, ahem--the breeze is deuced strong," said I.  "Do me the favour to
shut the blind, De Walden--beg pardon for all this trouble."

He did so, and I gained the advantage I aimed at, which was, to darken
the room so as to render it impossible for any change in one's
beautiful complexion to be seen.

"Why, I scarcely noticed the little lady, do you know, De Walden?"--He
certainly seemed not to have known it.--"She is a nice little
person--rather too petite, however, for my taste, and not very
sylph-like; a fine skin, certainly, and beautiful hair--but then her
high nose--and her eyes are not very good either--much too small and
light--besides, she is shortsighted."

De Walden's smile showed he was not, at any rate.

"And as for eyebrows, why, the superb arch of Miss Duquesné's is
infinitely finer, and beats them hollow--her neck and throat tolerable,
certainly; and the kindliness of her manner!--why, she comports herself
like a little matron beside a sick-bed; and the way she handles little
Dicky!--didn't you notice it, De Walden?  No wonder he called her
mamma, poor little fellow."

"Did you ever hear her sing, sir?"

"No, unless it was her voice I heard but just now in the other room."

"You guess rightly.  Miss Duquesné sang the second to her first.  Two
voices never did in this world blend so sweetly."

"Ah!" said I, fearing he was again cruising too near me, "the pipe was
good enough--liquid and musical-glass like; but Miss Sophie
Duquesné's--_that_ was a voice indeed--so deep for a woman, so clear,
so full-bodied."

"Pray, sir," said De Walden, archly, "are you speaking of the qualities
of London porter, or Mademoiselle Duquesné's voice?"

I looked at the young midshipman; and, darkened as the room was, I saw
the rogue laughing heartily in his sleeve.

"You seem to have noted a good many of Miss Hudson's peculiarities,
however, my dear sir; considering you paid so _little attention_ to
her, and had so short a time to take your observation."

"I don't know," said I.  "Has she been often in my room since I was
wounded, for I have dreamed of such a being, I will not deny?"

A low "Hush" was here breathed from the boudoir.  De Walden gave an
intelligent nod, and I became suddenly afflicted with deafness, and
overtaken by a fidgety fit; so I asked him to assist me to change my
position, as it was becoming uneasy, and we both with one accord hauled
our wind on the other tack.

"But whose was the male voice that joined so beautifully in the song?"

"Mr Listado's, sir."

"Moin--moy voice--oh, Lord!"--said some one in subdued Tipperary in the
next room.

"Come," said De Walden, laughing aloud, "no eavesdropping, if you
please."

"Pray, Mr De Walden," said I, "did you perceive the earthquake early
this morning?  How peculiar the sensation--how undefinable the
mysterious noise preceding the shock!"

"I did, sir.  We have had several slight shocks lately here, but no one
seems to mind them.  I was afraid it would disturb you, sir."

"Why, it did so, certainly; but I soon fell asleep again."--A long
pause.--"No appearance of Gazelle yet, _Mister_ De Walden?" borrowing
the stiff formula of the quarterdeck, to rub out, as it were, any
little familiarity that had passed.

"No, sir."

"Surely she might have been round, although I have no objections to her
staying out, until I am up and about again.  Have you heard any thing
more of Lennox?"

"I went to the prison to see him last night.  He is looking very ill
and pale, poor devil, but does not complain.  The jailer again told me,
that the moment you were strong enough to make your deposition before
the _Juez_, he would be discharged."

"And the desperado who wounded me?"

"Why, he has been better, and worse, several times, sir.  His
uncontrollable temper throws him back, while the strength of his
constitution does wonders.  He was not expected to live over the second
day, but, to the surprise of the surgeon of the prison, he rallied
astonishingly, and was in fact getting well until yesterday, when
Lennox was taken into his room to endeavour to identify him, since
which he has been much worse, and the scene must have had a strong
effect on Lennox himself."

"As how?" said I.

"Why, you know, he is an extraordinary creature; in fact, he is crazy
now and then, as he says himself, and certainly he conducted himself
last evening more like a lunatic than a sane person."

The doctor had retired with the ladies, and now returned for his hat
and cane.

"My dear doctor, do you think it would do me any harm to be moved the
length of the prison to-morrow in a litter?  I am very desirous to see
the marine who is confined there for stabbing the bravo who waylaid me."

"I know all about dat, capitain.  To-morrow shall be too soon,
very,--but next day, may be."

I thanked him, and determined to wait patiently until then.

The intervening period was one of great comfort and happiness to me.
Old Dick had my things sent ashore, and was most assiduous in his
attention, whenever he could spare time from his repairs on board.
Over and and over again I blessed Heaven for its mercy, in throwing me
amongst such kindly people.  Oh, who can appreciate the tenderness of
woman's attentions like the friendless sufferer, who has languished
amongst strangers in a foreign land on a bed of sickness?

Two or three days elapsed, during which I rapidly got better; so that,
on the fourth, I was enabled to walk, with the support of De Walden's
arm, to the prison, in place of being carried on a litter.

When we arrived, we were shown into the room where Lennox was confined:
it was about five in the afternoon of a very hot, sultry day.  The
marine was sitting in his frock and trowsers, with his back towards us,
looking out through the iron bars of the unglazed window, that
commanded a long street, and fronted the west.  The creaking of the
rusty lock, and clanking of the chain and bolt that secured the door of
the lofty apartment, did not disturb him: he merely, as he sat with his
legs crossed on the small wooden chair, with his clasped hands on his
knee, nodded slightly, but without turning his face, and said--"Come
in."

"Well, Lennox," said De Walden, "here is Mr Brail at last.  You were
not beginning to lose heart, were you?"

On this the poor fellow rose and confronted us.  There was a sad change
in his appearance since I saw him: he was pale and wan, with an unusual
anxiety and apparent feverishness about him, and an unsettled sparkling
of his eye, that, from what I previously had known of his history, but
too clearly indicated that his reason was more unsettled than usual.

"I am very grateful for this visit," said he at length, without
directly answering Mr De Walden.  "I am glad to see you so far
recovered, sir; but you look thin and pale yet: this will soon
disappear, I hope--I trust it will soon disappear."  Here his voice
sank into an unintelligible murmur, and his eye fell, as if he were
repeating the words to himself, without being conscious of their
meaning--as if he had been maundering, to use his own phrase.

"Well, I have no doubt it will, and I have good reason to believe that
you will be soon quite well too, Lennox; so get ready.  I presume you
know you are to appear before the _Juez_ this afternoon, where you will
instantly be released, I am told.  Mr De Walden and I are waiting for
you."

He said nothing, but stooped down to gather some clothes that lay on a
low pallet in the corner of the room; which having tied up in a bundle,
he lifted his hat, and stood in the middle of the apartment ready to
go.  His _oddness_--it was not sullenness of manner, I knew--surprised
me a good deal; but I said nothing, and the jailer now turned to
conduct us into the court, where the judge was waiting to take my
deposition.  We had advanced ten or twelve paces along the dark stone
passage, when Lennox, who was bringing up the rear, suddenly turned
back, without speaking, and entered his prison-room; shutting the door
very unceremoniously after him, and thereby depriving us of every
particle of light where we stood.

"Hillo," said De Walden, "Master Lennox, this is not over and above
civil."

"El marinero ese es loco, señor."  (That sailor is mad, sir), quoth the
jailer.

"Mad or not, I will see if I cannot make him mend his manners," said I,
as I returned with the young midshipman, groping for the door.  We
found it on the latch, and pushing it open, saw our _amigo_ coolly
seated in his chair, looking out of the window in precisely the same
attitude as when we first entered.

"Now, sir," said I, really angry, "will you favour me with a reason for
this most extraordinary conduct--this indecent behaviour to your
superior officer, and I may add to myself, to whom you have professed
yourself beholden?  I am willing to make great allowances for your
_infirmity_, as you call it; but this is a little too much on the
brogue, my fine fellow."  I had moved round in front of him by this
time.  He had dropped his eyes on the ground, with his hand pressed on
his forehead; but in an instant he rose up, endeavouring to hide the
tears that were rolling over his cheeks.

"Will you and Mr De Walden listen to me for five minutes, captain,
before we go into court?"

"I scarcely am inclined to humour you in your absurdities, Lennox; but
come, if you have any thing to say, out with it at once--make haste, my
man."  Seeing he hesitated, and looked earnestly at the jailer--"Oh, I
perceive--will you have the kindness to leave us alone with the
prisoner for five minutes?"

"Certainly," said the man--"I shall remain outside."

The moment he disappeared, Lennox dropped on his knees, and seemed to
be engaged in prayer for some moments: he then suddenly rose, and
retired a few paces from us.  "Gentlemen, what I am going to tell you I
have seen, you will very possibly ascribe to the effects of a heated
imagination; nevertheless, I will speak the truth.  The man who wounded
you, Mr Brail, and now lies in the last extremity in the next
room"--here he seemed to be suffocating for want of breath--"is no
other than Mr Adderfang, the villain who through life has been my evil
genius.  Ay, you may smile incredulously; I expected nothing else; but
it is nevertheless true, and even he shall, if he can speak when you
see him, confirm what I have told you.  Do you not see the palpable
intervention of an overruling Providence in this, gentlemen?  _Here_ I
encounter, against all human probability, in a strange country, with
the very fiend who drove me forth, broken-hearted and deranged in mind,
from my own!  It is not chance, gentlemen--you will blaspheme,"
continued he impetuously, "if you call it chance--one from the dead has
visited me, and told me it was not chance."  His eye flashed fire as he
proceeded with great animation and fluency--"Mr Brail, do not smile--do
not smile.  Believe me that I speak the words of truth and soberness,
when I tell you that _she_ was _here_ last night; ay, as certainly as
there is a God in heaven to reward the righteous and punish iniquity."

I let him go on.

"I was sitting, as you saw me, in that chair, sir, looking forth on the
setting moon, as it hung above the misty hill-top, and was watching its
lower limb as it seemed to flatten and lose its roundness against the
outline of the land, and noticing the increasing size of the pale globe
as the mist of morning rose up and floated around it,--when I heard a
deep sigh close behind me.  I listened, and could distinguish low
moaning sobs, but I had no power to turn round to look what it was.
Suddenly the window before me became gradually obscured, the dark walls
thinned and grew transparent, the houses and town disappeared, and I
was conscious, ay, as sensible as I am that I speak to you now, Mr
Brail, that I saw before me my own mountain lake, on the moonlight bank
of which I last parted from Jessy Miller before she fell.

"The waning planet seemed to linger on the hill, and shed a long sickly
wake on the midnight tarn, that sleeped in the hollow of the mountain,
bright and smooth as if the brown moss had been inlaid with polished
steel, except where a wild-duck glided over the shining surface, or the
wing of the slow-sailing owl flitted winnowingly across, dimming it for
a moment, like a mirror breathed upon.  I was sitting on the small
moss-grown cairn, at the eastern end; the shadow of the black hills was
cast so clearly in the water, that you could not trace the shore of the
small lake, nor define the water-line beneath the hazel bushes; and the
stars were reflected in another heaven scarcely less pure than their
own.  I heard the rushing of the burn over its rugged channel, as it
blended with the loch, and the melancholy bleating of the sheep on the
hill-side, and the low bark of the colleys, and the distant shout of
the herds watching the circular folds, high up on the moor,--when I
felt a touch on my shoulder, and, glancing down, I saw a long, pale
female hand resting on it, as of a person, who was standing behind me:
it was thin and wasted, and semi-transparent as alabaster, or a white
cornelian stone, with the blue veins twining amongst the prominent
sinews, and on the marriage-finger there was a broken ring--I saw it as
clearly as I see my own hand now, for the ends of the small gold wire
of which it was composed stood up and out from the fleshless finger.  I
kenned weel who was there, but I had no power to speak.  The sigh was
repeated, and then I heard a low still voice, inarticulate and scarcely
audible at first, like a distant echo from the hill-side, although I
had a fearful conviction that it was uttered close behind
me;--presently it assumed a composed but most melancholy tone--yes, Mr
Brail, so sure as there is a God above us, Jessy Miller--yea, the dead
spoke in that awful moment to the living."

"Oh, nonsense, man!" I said; "really you are getting mad in earnest
now, Lennox; this will never do."

He paid no attention to me, but went on--

"'Saunders,' it said, 'I have come to tell you that him ye ken o'--he
wha crushed my heart until it split in twain--he wha heaped the mools
on my head, and over the child I bare him--will also help you to an
early grave.'  The hand on my shoulder grew heavy as lead.  'He has
meikle to answer for to you, Saunders, and I have mair; and to me he
has----but _I_ maun dree my weird.'  Here the voice was choked in small
inaudible sobs, blending with which I thought I heard the puling as of
a new-born baby, when a gradually swelling sough came down the
hill-side, like the rushing of the blast through the glen, and the
water in the placid loch trembled in the waning moonbeams like that in
a moss-hag[1] when a waggon rolls past, and the hitherto steady
reflection of the stars in it twinkled and multiplied as if each spark
of living fire had become two; and although there was not a breath out
of heaven, small ripples lap-lapped on the pebbly shore, and a heavy
shower of dew was shaken from the leaves of the solitary auld saugh
that overhung the northern bank of the wee loch, sparkling in the
moonlight like diamonds; and the scathed and twisted oak stump on the
opposite hill that bisected the half-vanished disk of the sinking moon,
as she lingered like a dying friend looking his last at us, shook
palpably to and fro, and a rotten limb of it fell;--ay, the solid earth
of the cold hill-side itself trembled and heaved, as if they who slept
in the grey cairn beneath had at that moment heard the summons of the
Archangel;--when, lo! the dead hand was withdrawn with a faint shriek,
like the distant cry of the water-hen, and I turned in desperation to
see--what? a thin wreath of white mist float up the hill-side, and
gradually melt into the surrounding darkness.  And once more I was
seated where you now see me, with that rusty stanchel clearly defined
against the small segment of the moon, that still lingered above the
horizon.  The next moment it was gone, and I was left in darkness."


[1] The pit in a moor from whence peats or turf have been taken.


"All a dream, Lennox; all a phantasy of your heated imagination.  There
was a slight shock of an earthquake last night at the time you mention,
just at the going down of the moon, and that was the noise you heard
and the tremor you perceived, so rouse yourself, man.  Adderfang, if it
really be him, from all accounts, is dying, and you will soon be safe
from _his_ machinations, at all events."

He shook his head mournfully, but said nothing more--whether my
arguments had convinced him or no, was another thing--but we all
proceeded to the room where the judge was waiting for us, and my
declaration immediately freed poor Lennox; after which we were
requested to accompany the officers of the court, who, along with their
interpreter, were proceeding to the wounded man's room, to take his
dying declaration.

The daylight had entirely failed by the time we reached the cell where
Adderfang lay.  We were met at the door by a Carmelite priest, who
appeared in great wrath, and muttered something about a "Heretico
condeñado."  We entered.  It was an apartment of the same kind as the
one in which Lennox had been confined, and had a low pallet on one
side, fronting the high iron-barred window.  From the darkness I could
merely make out that some person lay on the bed, writhing about,
apparently in great pain.  A candle was brought, and we could see about
us.  It shone brightly on the person of a tall bushy-whiskered
desperado, who lay on the bed, covered by a sheet, groaning and
breathing very heavily.  I approached; his features were very sharp and
pale, his lips black, and his beard unshaven; his eyes were shut, and
his long hair spread all over the pillow.

He appeared to be attended by a slight, most beautiful Spanish girl;
apparently a fair mulatto, who was sitting at the head of the bed,
brushing away the musquittoes, and other night flies, with a small
bunch of peacock's feathers; while the hot tears trickled down her
cheeks, and over her quivering lips, until they fell on her distracted
and heaving bosom.  But she was silent; her sobs were even inaudible;
her grief was either too deep for utterance, or the fear of disturbing
the dying moments of her lover made her dumb.

  "O, Woman! in our hours of ease,
  Uncertain, coy, and hard to please,
  And variable as the shade
  By the light quivering aspen made;
  When pain and anguish wring the brow,
  A ministering angel thou!"


Hearing a bustle in the room, Adderfang now spoke, in a low and
interrupted voice--it was in Spanish.

"Padre, do not persist--I do not want your services--you cannot smooth
my pillow--do not therefore try to strew more thorns there--Heaven
knows they are numerous enough, and sharp enough already."

"Can this be the villain who stabbed me?" said I, somewhat moved.

The poor girl at this stooped down, and whispered something into his
ear.

"Ah!" said he, "I had forgot--I had forgot; but your tears scald me,
Antonia--hot--hot;" and with a sudden effort, as if ashamed to evince
how much he was suffering, and a fierce energy, he controlled the
twitching of his feverish limbs, clasped his hands on his bosom, and
opening his blood-shot eyes for the first time, took a steady survey of
us.  He then glanced to the jailer.

"This is the gentleman who was stabbed by you," said the Spaniard.  He
nodded.  "This is the English marine, Lennox, who came up with the
guard and took you prisoner."

I could not help remarking, when Lennox was introduced to him, that the
wounded man smiled bitterly, as much as to say--"I know _him_ but too
well, and he has fearful cause to know _me_."  "Mr Brail," said he (I
had to stoop to catch his words, he spoke in so low a tone), "I am
aware of the object of this visit--it is all proper.  Let the escribano
there get his paper ready; I shall make short work of the confessional."

The man sat down.  Adderfang again shut his eyes, and seemed for a few
moments to be gathering his thoughts about him; at length--

"I acknowledge that I stabbed the Englishman, Mr Brail, and robbed him
afterwards; and that the English marine, Lennox, acted nobly and
honourably in coming to the assistance of his countryman.  He was the
man who wounded me.  There you have it all; engross it, and I will sign
it."

As if desirous of being heard distinctly, he had, as he pronounced
these words with difficulty, in detached sentences, raised himself on
his left arm, and now, as if exhausted, he fell back with his head on
poor Antonia's lap.

  "The tackle of _his_ heart was cracked and burned,
  And all the shrouds wherewith _his_ life should sail,
  Are turned to one poor thread, one little hair."


There was a long pause.

"But why," said the Juez at length--"why did you waylay Mr Brail?"

"For two reasons," replied the dying bravo; "first, because I harboured
revenge for the destruction of my vessel by the Midge, _steered by
him_, as that young gentleman afterwards told me" (here De Walden and I
exchanged looks), "on the bar of the African river; secondly, because
he took my last stiver from me at the gaming-table."

"Evil motives both, my son, to be entertained by any, but especially by
one standing on the threshold of eternity.  Let me recall the priest,
that he may shrive you, and probably, with God's blessing, induce you
to repent before you go hence."

I turned to look at the person who spoke.  He was a tall and very dark
Spaniard, his age might have been sixty, and his short and scanty hair
was of a silver grey.  He was plainly dressed in black, and sat at a
small table, and opposite to him the escribano, or notary, with his
paper before him, and pen held up between him.  and the candle, and
ready wet with ink.

"It is of no use, _and I will not_," said Adderfang; "besides, if I am
any thing at all, I am a Protestant--and as the tree falls, so must it
lie--it is a part of my creed.--_Creed_!" he here interjected to
himself with great bitterness--"_my creed!_ whatever it may be of
yours, and I feel that all the roots that knit me to the earth have
already parted, save one; therefore, let me die, if not in peace, at
least in quietness."

He stopped to take breath, and when he proceeded, it was in a voice
even more weak and trembling than before.

"Yes, Heaven knows, villain as I have been, that they have all snapped
_but one_"--and he caught the hand of the poor girl, and tried to place
it on his heart, but his strength failed him.  She wept aloud at this
unexpected burst of feeling, and the contagion of her tears extended
even to the stony heart of the wounded man himself.  The iron had at
length entered into his soul, and what the retrospect of his own
ill-spent life--what the intensity of his present agony, and the
fearful prospect before him through eternity, could not wring from
him--now flowed at the sight of the poor girl's misery, as if his bosom
had been a tender woman's.  He wept aloud.

"Yes--my evil courses have but too justly estranged all my kindred from
me; one friend has dropped off after another, until, in the prime of
life, after having squandered a handsome patrimony, and having been
educated as a gentleman, with every thing around me that ought to have
made me happy, to this have I come at last!"  He groaned heavily.  "You
see before you, Mr Brail, not a _fiend, but an everyday villain_--a man
not naturally wicked--one who did not love evil for evil's sake, but
who became the willing slave of his passions, and held no law, human or
divine, in reverence, when they were to be gratified.  Ay, William
Adderfang, here you lie on a death-bed from violence--from a wound
sustained in the act of stabbing and robbing another, to gratify
revenge, and the paltry desire of repossessing money squandered at the
gaming-table, and with the certainty that, if a miracle interposed, and
you recovered, your life would still be taken on the scaffold.  Ay,
here you lie," continued he with increasing energy, "without one soul
in the wide world to say God bless you, or to close your eyes when you
are gone, but my poor Antonia here."

Here the unhappy girl's anguish became uncontrollable, although she
could not have understood what he said, and she threw herself on the
bed in such a position as to give her paramour great pain; a shudder
passed over his face, and he endeavoured to turn himself round, so as
to gain an easier position.  In the action the wound in his side burst
out afresh, and presently a dark puddle coagulated on the sheet at his
right side.  The doctor of the prison was in immediate attendance, and
applied styptics to stanch the bleeding; all the time he seemed in a
dead faint--he made no movement, and when the wound was dressed, and he
was replaced on his bed, I did not know, as I bent over him, whether
the spirit had fled or not.

Lennox, with the judge's permission, now took one of the candles from
the table, and held it to his face--he still breathed.  But in the
silence within the room, I perceived that the weather without began to
grow gusty and boisterous; I could hear the rain lashing against the
wall of the prison, and the blast howled round the roof, and threatened
to extinguish the candle.  The freshness of the night wind, however,
reanimated the sufferer in a wonderful degree; and when I rose, with an
intention of closing the shutters, to prevent the rain beating through
on his face, as he lay propped up on the poor girl's bosom, fronting
the narrow aperture, he had strength enough to ask me, in a low husky
voice, "to leave it open, the coolness and moisture revived him."

Lennox now spoke--"Mr Adderfang, I have come on purpose to say that
I"--his voice faltered, and he leant against the wall for a brief
space--"to say that _I forgive you_--ay, as freely as I hope God will
forgive me at the last day.  Give me your hand, Mr Adderfang, and say
you forgive me also for having wounded you."

The dying man shrunk from him, and drew his hand back--"No, no,
Saunders, you cannot be sincere, you cannot be sincere; you cannot have
forgotten _her_ injuries, you cannot have forgiven your own."

"Yes," said the poor fellow solemnly, "I have prayed for many a long
year that I might be able to forgive you--even _you_; and my prayer has
been heard at last.  Oh, if you would even at the ninth hour appeal to
the same merciful Being, might he not show his mercy to your dying
soul?"

"I cannot--I cannot pray," said Adderfang, as impetuously as his
weakness would let him--"I cannot pray--I have never prayed,
Saunders--oh, would to God I had! would that I could redeem but one
short week!  But it would be of no avail," groaned he, in a low altered
tone--"all has been foreordained--I have been the slave of an
irrevocable destiny--I could have acted no otherwise than I have done;
and if there be a hereafter and a God"----

"If there be!" said I, "Heaven have mercy on you, Mr Adderfang, and
turn your heart even now in your extremity."

"Oh!  Mr Brail, I know myself--I am quite conscious of my inherent
wickedness--the damning conviction is burned in on my heart, that even
if I were to recover, I should again fall into the same courses--I am
quite certain of it; so why appeal to the Invisible"--he paused and
gasped for breath--"why insult Heaven with vain promises of amendment,
which I could not and would not keep were I to survive? why play the
hypocrite now? why lie to God, when"--here he put his hand to his side,
as if in great suffering--"when, if there be such a Being, I must, in
all human probability, appear before him in half an hour, when no lie
will serve me?--But let me do an act of justice--yes, call the
priest"--he now spoke in Spanish--"call the priest.  Rise, Antonia, and
kiss me; you are another victim"--he groaned again--"I promised you
marriage before I wove my web of deceit round your innocent heart; you
have often prayed me to remember that solemn promise, since you were
ensnared, and I have as often laughed you to scorn, or answered you
with a brutal jest; I will accede to your request now; call the priest,
let him be quick, or death will prevent"--He swooned again.

Presently the venerable friar, without any trace of anger at the
previous rejection of his services, was at the bedside.  I never shall
forget the scene.  It was now quite dark, and the two large brown wax
tapers were flickering in the current of air that came strong through
the window, and stirred the few hairs of the venerable Juez, who sat at
the table.  The lights cast a changeful glare on his face, and on that
of the old priest, who was standing beside the pillow of the dying man,
dressed in his long dark robe, with a cord round his waist, supporting
a silver crucifix that glanced in the light; and on the tall form of
the beautiful Spanish girl, that lay across the bed, her naked feet
covered by neat grass slippers, and on her pale olive complexion, and
fine features, and her hair plaited in three distinct braids, that hung
down her back, intertwined with black ribbon; and sparkled in her large
black swimming eye, and on the diamond-like tears that chased each
other over her beautiful features and swelling and more than half-naked
bosom.  Lennox and myself were all this time standing at the foot of
the bed; De Walden was leaning on the back of the escribano's chair,
with his face so turned as to see that of the wounded man, who lay
still as death, the yellow light shining by fits full on his sunburnt
complexion, and unshaven chin (the flickering shadows making his
features appear as if convulsed, if they really were not so), and
strong muscular neck, and glancing on the auburn curls, clotted with
the cold perspiration wrung from his forehead by intense suffering.

He gradually recovered.  The priest signed to Antonia to rise, and I
took her place on the bed; he placed her hand in that of Adderfang, who
looked steadily and consciously at him, but he could not speak.  The
service proceeded, the gusts without increasing, and the rain lashing
to a degree that almost drowned the old man's voice.  Adderfang being
unable to repeat the responses, merely acknowledged them by an
inclination of his head, and a silent movement of his lips; at length,
when it was asked of him, "Do you take this woman to be your wife?" he
made an effort, and replied distinctly, "Yes."

Ha! what is that?  A flash of lightning--a piercing shriek echoed
through the room, loud above the rolling thunder--and then a convulsive
giggle--something fell heavily on the floor--the wind howled, the
lights were blown out--"Ave Maria purissima--sancta madre--soy
ciega--soy ciega!" (Holy Mother of God, I am struck blind--I am struck
blind!)  The unfortunate girl had, indeed, been struck by the electric
fluid, and was now writhing sightless on the floor: we endeavoured to
remove her, but she had got her arms twined round the foot of the bed,
and resisted all our efforts.  "Dexa me morir cerca mi querido--ah
Dios! dexa me morir aqui."  Lights were immediately procured, and the
shutters closed; and there lay Adderfang, apparently quite sensible,
but now glaring round him, like a dying tiger.  I never can forget the
bitter smile that played on his haggard features, like the lurid glare
of a stormy sunset.  I turned away and shuddered, but curiosity
compelled me to look at him again.  He shook his head, as his eye
caught mine, and pointed upward, as if he had said, "You see the very
heavens league against me."  He then signed for some cordial that stood
on the table: having drank it, it revived him for a minute almost
miraculously.  He again shed a flood of tears, and, sobbing audibly,
clasped his hands on his bosom and prayed aloud.  Yes, the assassin,
the libertine, the selfish, cold-hearted seducer, for a short minute
bent meekly as a child before the storm of his sufferings!

"Oh, Almighty God, whose laws I have so fearfully contemned, hear my
prayers for her--hear the prayers of one _who dare not pray for
himself_!"

A low, growling thunderclap had gradually rolled on from a distance as
he proceeded; but when he got this length, it roared overhead in a
series of loud reports, as if a seventy-four had fired her broadside
close to us, shaking the dust from the roof and walls of the room, and
making the whole prison tremble, as at the upheaving of an earthquake.
He ceased--when the noise gradually grumbled itself to rest in the
distance, and again nothing but the howling of the tempest without was
heard.

"The voice of the Almighty," at length he said, speaking in short
sentences with great difficulty, and in a low, sigh-like voice,--"yea,
the sound of my condemnation.  Heaven will not hear my prayers, but
with its thunders drowns the voice of my supplication--rejecting my
polluted sacrifice, like that of Cain.  I am ruined and condemned here
and hereafter--palpably condemned by the Eternal, even while yet on
earth, body and soul--body and soul--condem"----

He ceased--a strong shiver passed over his face--his jaw fell; and
Lennox, stepping up to him, closed his eyes--stooped his cheek towards
his mouth to perceive if he still breathed--then holding up his hand,
solemnly said, "_He hath departed!_"



CHAPTER III.

SCENES IN HAVANNA.

  "Had you ever the luck to see Donnybrook Fair?
  An Irishman all in his glory is there.
  With his sprig of shillelah and shamrock so green."


"Now, do make less noise there, my dear Listado--you will waken the
whole house with your uproarious singing."

"Waken the whole house!--that's a mighty good one, friend
Benjamin--why, the whole house _is_ awake--broad awake as a cat to
steal cream, or the devil in a gale of wind--Awake! men, women, and
children, black, brown, and white, dogs, cats, pigs, and kittens,
turkeys, peafowls, and the clucking hen, have been up and astir three
hours ago.  Dicky Phantom is now crying for his dinner--so, blood and
oons, man, gather your small legs and arms about ye, and get up and
open the door--it is past twelve, man, and Mother Gerard thinks you
have gone for a six months' snooze, like a bat in winter; if you don't
let me in, I shall swear you are hanging from the roof by the claws."

"I can't help it, man--I am unable to get up and dress without
assistance; so, like a dear boy, call up old Nariz de Niéve,[1] the
black valet, and ask the favour of his stepping in to help me."


[1] Literally, _Nose of Snow_.


"Stepping in!--why, Benjie Brail, your seven senses are gone
a-wool-gathering, like Father Rogerson's magpie--how the blazes can
Nariz de Niéve, or any one else, get to you, through a two-inch door,
locked on the inside?--you must get up and undo it, or you will die of
starvation, for no blacksmith in Havanna could force such a
complication of hardwood planks and brass knobs."

Rather than be bothered in this way, up I got, with no little
difficulty, to say nothing of the pain from my undressed wound, and
crawled towards the door.  But Listado had not patience to wait on my
snail's pace, so, setting his back to it, he gave a thundering push,
sufficient to have forced the gates of Gaza from their hinges, and
banged the door wide open.  It had only caught on the latch, not having
been fastened, after all; but he had overcome the _vis inertiæ_ rather
too fiercely, for in spun our gingham-coated friend, with the flight of
a Congreve rocket, sliding across the tiled floor on his breast a
couple of fathoms, like a log squirred along ice.  At length he lost
_his way_, and found his tongue.

"By the piper, but I'll pay you off for this trick, Master Brail, some
fine morning, take Don Lorenzo's word for it.  Why the devil did you
open the door so suddenly, without telling me?--see, if these cursed
tiles have not ground off every button on my waistcoat, or any where
else.  I must go into old Pierre Duquesné's garden, and borrow some fig
leaves, as I am a gentleman."

I could scarcely speak for laughing.  "The door was on the latch, as
you see--it was not fastened, man, at all--but you are so impetuous"----

"Himpetuous!--why, only look at the knees of my breeches--there's
himpetuosity for you!--a full quarter of a yard of good duck spoiled,
not to name the shreds of skin torn from my knee-pans, big enough, were
they dried into parchment, to hold ten credos, and--but that will grow
again, so never mind."  Here he gathered himself up, and, tying a red
silk handkerchief round one knee, a white one round the other, and my
black cravat, which he unceremoniously picked off the back of a chair,
round his waist, like a bishop's apron; he rose, laughing all the
while, and turned right round on me--"There, I am all right now--but I
have come to tell you of a miracle, never surpassed since Father
O'Shauchnessy cured aunt Katey's old pig of the hystericals--stop!  I
must tell you about that game--She was, as you see, an ould maid, and
after the last twelve farrow, she applied to"--

I laughed--"Which was the old maid? the pig, or"----

"Hold your tongue, and give your potato-trap a holiday.--Didn't I tell
you it was my maiden aunt Katey, that brought the litter of pigs to
Father O'Shauchnessy?"

"The devil she did," quoth I.

"To be sure she did," quoth he.--"So said she to him, 'Father,' says
she--'Daughter,' says he; and then before she could get in another
word--'Whose are them pigs?' says he.--'Moin, moy pigs,' quoth my aunt
Katey.--'Your pigs!--all of them?' says Father O'Shauchnessy,--'Every
mother's son of them,' says my aunt Katey---'and that is my errand,
indeed, Father O'Shauchnessy, for the poor mother of these beautiful
little creatures is bewitched entirely.'"

"Now, Listado, have done, and be quiet, and tell me your errand," said
I, losing patience.

"My errand--_my_ errand, did you say, Benjie Brail?--by the powers, and
I had all but forgotten my errand--but let me take a look at you--why,
what a funny little fellow you are in your linen garment,
Benjie--laconic--short, but expressive"--and he turned me round in so
rough a way, that he really hurt me considerably.  Seeing this, and
that I had to sit down on the side of the bed for support, the worthy
fellow changed his tone----

"Bless me, Brail, I shall really be very sorry if I have hurt you, so I
will help you to dress--but you certainly do cut a comical figure in
dishabille--however, you have not heard the other miracle I came to
tell you about, man--why, Adderfang, that you saw die last night, and
be d--d to him--I cannot say much for his ending, by the way, if all be
true that I have heard--is not dead at all."

"Impossible!"

"Ay, but it is true--he was only kilt by his own bad conscience, the
big villain, and your fantastical _flower_ of sulphur--your Scotch
ally, Lennox, is below, ready to vouch for it.  If the rascal does
recover, what a beautiful subject for the garrote he will make.--What
an expressive language this Spanish is, now--garrote--gar-rote--you
don't require to look your dictionary for the meaning of such a word,
the very sound translates itself to any man's comprehension--when you
say a fellow is _garroteado_, don't you hear the poor devil actually
_throttling_?--Oh! it's a beautiful word."

Here Manuel, the black butler, entered, to assist in rigging me, as
Nariz de Niéve was occupied otherwise; and time it was he did so, for
Listado was, without exception, the worst and roughest groom of the
bedchamber that ever I had the misfortune to cope withal; but the
plaguey Irishman must still put in his oar.

"Manuel, my worthy," said he, after the negro was done with me, "do me
the favour, para tomar un asiento--take a seat--chaizez votre
posterioribus, si vous plait, old Snow Ball."

By this time, he had shoved Massa Manuel into an arm-chair, whether he
would or no, close to one of the wooden pillars of the balcony, and,
getting behind him, he, with one hand, threw a towel over his face;
then twisted a handkerchief round his neck, and the pillar also, with
the other, until he had nearly strangled the poor creature; holding
forth all the while, "There is the real garrote for you--a thousand
times more genteel than hanging.--See, Brail, you sit down on your
chair thus, quite comfortable--and the Spanish Jack Ketch, after
covering your face with the graceful drapery of a shawl--you may even
choose your pattern, they tell me, instead of dragging a tight nightcap
over your beautiful snout, through which every wry mouth you make is
seen--with one turn of his arm, so!"--Here, as he suited the action to
the word, the half-choked Manuel spurred with all his might with his
feet, and struggled with his hands, as if he had really been in the
agonies of death, and I am not sure that he was far from them.  At
length he made a bolt from the chair, cast off the handkerchief that
had been wrung round his neck, and rushed out of the room, never once
looking behind him.

"Now, there! did you ever see such an uncivil ould savage, to stop me
just in the middle of my elegant illustration.  However, we shall both
go and see this arch scoundrel, Adderfang, _garroteadoed_ yet--and
there I have rigged you now complete--not a bad looking little fellow,
I declare, after your togs are fittingly donned.--So, good by, Brail, I
will go home and see about breakfast"--and away he tumbled with his
usual reckless shamble.

He had left the room, and was drawing the door to after him, when in
came honest Dick Lanyard--"Ah, Don Ricardo," shouted the
Irishman--"glad to see you--now I can leave our friend with a safe
conscience; but he is not quite the thing yet here"--and the villain
pointed to his forehead.  He vanished, but again returned suddenly, as
if he had forgotten something, and banging the door open with greater
noise than ever, re-entered, with all the _sang froid_ imaginable,
dragging at a large parcel that was stuffed into his coat pocket, which
he had considerable difficulty in extricating, apparently.  At last,
tearing it away, lining and all, he presented it to me, still sticking
in the disruptured pouch.

"Now, there, if I have not torn out the very entrails of my coat skirt
with your cursed parcel--but beg pardon, Benjie, really I had forgotten
it; although, if the truth must be told, it was the main object of my
coming here.  Ah so--and here is another packet for you too, Don
Ricardo"--chucking a large letter on service to the lieutenant, who
eagerly opened it.  It contained, amongst others, the following from
the commodore:--


"_H.M.S Gazelle, Port-Royal, Jamaica._
  "_Such a date._

"Sir--We arrived here, all well, on such a day--but, to suit the
convenience of the merchants whose vessels I am to convoy to Havanna,
and of those who are shipping specie to England, the admiral has
detained me for six weeks, so that I shall not be in Havanna, in all
likelihood, before such a period.  You will therefore remain there,
taking all necessary precautions to ensure the health of the men, and
you can use your discretion in making short cruises to exercise them,
and to promote the same; but in no case are you to be longer than three
days without communicating with the port.

"The enclosure is addressed to Corporal Lennox--it was forwarded here
in the admiral's bag by last packet from England, superscribed, to be
returned to his office at Portsmouth, in case we had sailed.  It seems
his friends, having ascertained that he was on board Gazelle, have made
interest for his discharge, which is herewith enclosed.--I remain, sir,
your obedient servant,

"OLIVER OAKPLANK, K.C.B.
  "Commodore.

"To Lieutenant Lanyard, commanding the Midge, tender to H.M.S.
Gazelle," &c. &c. &c.


On receiving this the lieutenant sent for Lennox, and communicated the
intelligence contained in the commodore's letter.  I could not tell
from the expression of his countenance whether he was glad or sorry.

The parcel contained letters from his father, the old clergyman of the
parish, Mr Bland, and several of the poor fellow's own friends,
detailing how they had traced him, and requesting, in the belief that
the letters would reach him in Jamaica, that he would find out a
kinsman of his own, a small coffee planter there, who would be ready to
assist him; and, in the mean time, for immediate expenses, the
minister's letter covered a ten-pound bank of England note, with which
he had been furnished by old Skelp, who, curiously enough, would not
trust it in his own, as it the clergyman's envelope carried a sort of
sanctity with it.

The marine consulted me as to what he ought to do; I recommended him to
proceed to Jamaica immediately by way of Batabano, and to visit the
relation, who had been written to, as he might be of service to him,
and accordingly he made his little preparations for departure.

My packet contained long letters from my Liverpool friends, that had
been forwarded to the care of our Kingston correspondent; but, to my
surprise, none from my uncle, Mr Frenche, mentioned at the outset as
being settled in Jamaica.

In the mean time, I continued rapidly to improve, and three days after
this I found myself well enough to go on board the Midge, and visit my
friends there.  It was the day on which Lennox was to leave her; and as
the men's dinner-time approached, I saw one of the boat sails rigged as
an awning forward, and certain demonstrations making, and a degree of
bustle in the galley that _prog_nosticated, as Listado would have said,
a treat to his messmates.  However, Lanyard and I returned on shore,
after the former had given Drainings, the cook, and old Dogvane the
quartermaster, leave for that afternoon to go on shore with the marine.

About sunset the same evening, as I was returning from an airing into
the country in Mr Duquesné's volante, who should I overtake but the
trio above alluded to, two of them in a very comfortable situation as
it appeared.  First came Dogvane and Lennox, with little Pablo Carnero,
the Spanish ham merchant and pig butcher before mentioned, who was a
crony of the marine, between them, all very respectably drunk, and old
Drainings bringing up the rear, not many degrees better.

The quartermaster was in his usual dress, but the little Spanish dealer
in pork hams was figged out in nankeen tights, and a flowing
bright-coloured gingham coat, that fluttered in the wind behind him,
and around him, as if it would have borne up his tiny corpus into the
air, like a bat or a Brobdingnag butterfly; or possibly a
flying-squirrel would be the better simile, as he reeled to and fro
under the tyranny of the rosy god, making drunken rushes from Lennox to
Dogvane, and back again; tackling to them alternately, like the
nondescript spoken of in his leaps from tree to tree.  As for our
friend the corporal, he had changed the complexion of his outward man
in a most unexampled manner;--where he had got the clothes furbished up
for the nonce, heaven knows, unless, indeed, which is not unlikely,
they had all along formed part of his kit on board; but there he was,
dressed in a respectable suit of black broad cloth, a decent black
beaver, and a white neckcloth; his chin well shaven, and in the grave
expression of his countenance, I had no difficulty in discerning that
idiotically serious kind of look that a man puts on who is conscious of
having drunk a little more than he should have done, but who struggles
to conceal it.

Dogvane, in the ramble, had killed a black snake about three feet long,
which, by the writhing of its tail, still showed signs of life, and
this he kept swinging backwards and forwards in one of his hands,
occasionally giving the little butcher a lash with it, who answered the
blow by shouts of laughter; while a small green paroquet, that he had
bought, was perched on one of his broad shoulders, fastened by a
string, or lanyard, round its leg to the black ribbon he wore about his
hat.

The wrangle and laughter amongst them, when I overtook them, seemed to
be in consequence of the little Spaniard insisting on skinning the eel,
as he called it, which Dogvarie resisted, on the ground that he
intended to have it preserved in spirits and sent to his wife.  The
idea of a snake of so common a description being a curiosity at all,
seemed to entertain little Carnero astonishingly, but when the
quartermaster propounded through Lennox (whose Spanish was a melange of
schoolboy Latin, broad Scotch, and signs, with a stray word of the
language he attempted scattered here and there, like plums in a
boarding-school pudding), that he was going to send the reptile to his
wife, he lost control of himself altogether, and laughed until he
rolled over and over, gingham coat and all, in the dusty road.

"Culebra a su muger!--valga me dios--tabernaculo del diablo mismo a su
querida!--ha ha, ha" (hiccup), "mandale papagayo, hombre--o piña
conservada, o algo de dulce--algo para comer--pero
serpiente!--culebra!--ha--ha--ha!"--(A snake to your wife!--heaven
defend me--the tabernacle of the old one himself to your
sweetheart!--send her the parrot, man--or a preserved pine-apple or
some sweetmeats--something to eat--but a serpent!--a vile
snake--ha--ha--ha!)

Lennox now made me out, and somewhat ashamed of the condition of his
Spanish ally, he made several attempts to get him on his legs, but
Dogvane, who seemed offended at little Pablo's fun, stood over him
grimly with his arms folded, about which the reptile was twining, and
apparently resolute in his determination not to give him any aid or
assistance whatever.

"Surge, carnifex--get up, man--surge, you drunken beast," quoth Lennox,
and then he dragged at the little man by the arms and coat skirts,
until he got him out of the path so as to allow me to drive on.

At length he got him on his legs, and held him in his arms.

"Thank ye, Lennox," said I.  He bowed.

"Hilloa," quoth Dogvane, startled at my appearance; "Mr Brail, I
declare!"--and he tore off his hat with such vehemence, that the poor
little paroquet, fastened by the leg to it, was dashed into Pablo
Carnero's face.

"Marinero--animal--pendejo--quieres que yo pierdo mis ojos, con su
paxaro intierno?"--(Sailor--animal--hangman--do you wish to knock my
eyes out with your infernal bird?) and he made at him as if he would
have annihilated him on the spot.  At this hostile demonstration,
Dogvane very coolly caught the little man in his arms, and tossed him
into the ditch, as if he had been a ball of spun-yarn; where, as the
night is fine, we shall leave him to gather himself up the best way he
can.

It seemed little Carnero's house was the haunt of the Batabano traders
or smugglers, and that Lennox had bargained with him for a mule, and
made his little arrangements for proceeding with a recua, or small
caravan, across the island on the following evening.

Next morning Mr Duquesné and I, accompanied by Listado and Mr M----,
rode into the country about five miles, on the Batabano road, to visit
Mr D---- and family at their villa.  I found M---- a very intelligent
Scotchman; indeed, in most matters of trade he was, and I hope _is_,
considered a first-rate authority in the place.  He was a tall thin
fair-haired man, with a good deal of the Yankee in his cut and
appearance, although none whatever in his manner; and as for his
kindness I never can forget it.  Mr D---- was an Englishman who had
married a Spanish lady; and at the time I mention, he had returned from
England with his children--a son, and several daughters grown up--the
latter with all the polish and accomplishments of Englishwomen
engrafted on the enchanting _naïveté_ of Spanish girls; and even at
this distance of time I can remember their beautifully pliant and most
graceful Spanish figures, as things that I can dream of still, but
never expect again to see; while their clear olive complexions, large
dark eyes, and coal-black ringlets, were charms, within gunshot of
which no disengaged heart could venture, and hope to come off
scatheless.  Disengaged hearts!  Go on, Master Benjamin Brail, I see
how it is with you, my lad.

I had previously shaken hands with Lennox, whose heart, poor fellow,
between parting with me and little Dicky Phantom, was like to burst,
and did not expect to have seen him again; but on our return from Mr
D----'s in the evening, we met a man mounted on a strong pacing horse,
dressed as usual in a gingham jacket and trowsers, with a large
slouched hat of plaited grass, a cloak strapped on his saddle-bow, and
a valise behind him.  He carried his trabuco, or blunderbuss, in his
right hand, resting on the cloak; and his heels were garnished with a
pair of most persuasive silver spurs buckled over _shoes_.  His
trowsers, in the action of riding, had shuffled up to his knees,
disclosing a formidable sample of muscle in the calf of his leg: while
his gaunt brown sinewy hand, and sun-burnt moorish-looking features,
evinced that he would, independently of his arms, have been a tough
customer to the strongest man in the Old Gazelle.

M---- and Listado both addressed this brigand-looking subject with the
greatest familiarity, and enquired where his comrades were.  He nodded
his head backwards over his shoulder, as much as to say, "Close behind
me."  Indeed, we now heard the clattering of mules' feet up the path,
that here ascended suddenly from the level country, and more resembled
a dry river course than a road, and the shouting of the riders to their
bestias and each other.

Presently about thirty odd-looking tailor-like creatures appeared on
stout mules, riding with their knees up to their noses, evidently not
at all at home, but held in their seats by the old-fashioned
demi-piques, with which their animals were caparisoned.  I directed an
enquiring look at M----.  He laughed.

"Batabano smugglers."

"What! this in the face of day?"

"Oh yes; those things are managed coolly enough here, Mr Brail.  They
are now on their way to the coast, where a vessel is doubtless lying
ready to carry them over to Jamaica, and to bring them back when they
have laid out their money in goods.  See there, those sumpter mules are
laden with their bags of doubloons; when they return to Batabano, with
the assistance of my friend Juan Nocheobscuro there, and some of his
gang, their goods will soon be in the tiendas, or shops of Havanna, to
the great injury of the fair trader who pays duties, I will
confess--and I hope the evil will soon be put down; but there it is for
the present as you see it."

"But how comes Listado to know so many of the tailor-looking
caballeros?"

"They are all customers of ours," said he, "who only resort to Jamaica
occasionally, and are mostly shopkeepers themselves, or have partners
who are so."

"And our excellent Irish friend himself, may I ask, who is he--is he
your partner?"

"No, no," said M----, "he is not my partner, but he is connected with
most respectable Irish correspondents of mine, who consign linens and
other Irish produce largely to my establishment, and for whom I load
several ships in the season with sugar and coffee; so Monsieur Listado,
who is rich since his father's death (he was the head of the firm), has
been sent by the Irish house to superintend the sales of the outward
cargoes, under my auspices, and to take a sort of general charge of
shipping the returns; but," continued he, laughing, "as you see, he
does not _kill_ himself by the intensity of his application to
business.  He is a warm-hearted and light-headed Irishman,--one who
would fight _for_ his friend to the last, and even with him for
pastime, if no legitimate quarrel could be had.  We had a little bother
with him at first, but as I know him now, we get on astonishingly; and
I don't think we have had one single angry word together for these six
months past, indeed never since he found out from my letter-book that I
had once done an essential mercantile service to his father, in
protecting a large amount of his bills drawn while he was in New York,
when dishonoured by a rascally agent at that time employed by him here.
But who comes?"  Who indeed, thought I, as no less a personage than
Lennox himself brought up the rear, on a stout mule, in his dingy suit
of sables; cutting a conspicuous figure amongst the gaudily dressed
Dons.  He paced steadily past us, and when I bid him good-by, he merely
touched his hat and rode on.  Presently the whole cavalcade was out of
sight, and nothing else occurred until we arrived at Havanna, and I
found myself once more comfortably lodged under Mr Duquesné's
hospitable roof.

About a fortnight after this I received letters from Mr Peter Brail, my
uncle in Liverpool, offering me a share in the firm, and enjoining me,
if I accepted it, to return immediately, without visiting Jamaica.  He
also stated that he had written his Kingston correspondents, with
instructions as to some business that I was to have transacted, had I,
as originally intended, gone thither; and mentioned to them, at the
same time, the probable change in my plans.

This was too favourable an offer to be declined; I therefore made up my
mind to close with it; but, as I could not wind up my Havanna
transactions for some time, I determined to spend the interim as
pleasantly as possible.

Two days afterwards I was invited to make one in a cruise into the
country.  Accordingly, the following morning we were all prepared to
set off to visit Mr Hudson's estate; it was about five in the
morning--we had packed up--the volantes and horses were already at the
door, and Mrs Hudson, her daughter Helen, with Dicky Phantom, once more
in his little kilt of a frock, in her hand; Sophie Duquesné, De Walden,
Mr Hudson, and myself, all spurred and whipped, if not all booted, were
ready in the vestibule, waiting by candle-light for Mr Listado, who was
also to be of the party.  Gradually the day broke, and as the servants
were putting out the candles, in compliment to Aurora's blushes, in
trundled our Hibernian friend, with his usual boisterosity.

"Hope I haven't kept you waiting, Mr Hudson?--that villain Palotinto,
the black warehouseman, store _nigger_"--with a wink to me--"as you
would call him in New York,"--Mr Hudson laughed good-naturedly--"got
drunk, and be fiddled to him--never swear before ladies, Brail--and
forgot to call me; and when he did wake me, he could not find my spurs,
and the mule's bridle was amissing, and the devil knows what all had
gone wrong; so I was bothered entirely--but here I am, my charmers,
large as life, and as agreeable as ever--don't you think so, Miss
Hudson?"  She laughed; and as the blundering blockhead dragged, rather
than handed her towards her volante, I felt a slight comical kind of I
don't-know-what, and a bit of a tiny flutter, not a thousand miles from
my heart.--"Ho, ho," thought I, Benjie.  "But what an ass you were not
to hand her out your----.  Death and the devil, what does the mouldy
potato mean?"--continued I to myself, as Listado, after fumbling to get
the step of the New-York built voiture out, and knocking the Moreno, or
brown driver, down on his nose for attempting to help him, desecrated
the sweet little body's slender waist with his rough arms, and actually
lifted her, laughing and giggling (_skirling_, to borrow from Lennox),
bodily into the carriage.

Somehow I took little note for a considerable time after this how the
rest of us were bestowed, until I found myself in company with Listado,
De Walden, and Mr Hudson, on horseback, without well knowing how I got
there, followed by a cavalcade of six negroes, on mules, with two
sumpter ones with luggage, and three led small Spanish barbs, with side
saddles, all curveting in the wake of the carriage with the ladies, by
this time trundling through the city gate, a cable's length a-head of
us.

"I say, Benjie Brail," shouted Listado, "have you become a mendicant
friar, that you travel without your hat"----

"My hat?" said I, deucedly taken aback and annoyed; "true enough--how
very odd and foolish--I say, Nariz de Niéve, do oblige me, and ride
back for my sombrero."



CHAPTER IV.

A CRUISE IN THE MOUNTAINS----EL CAFETAL.[1]


[1] _Cafetal_--Coffee estate.


We arrived, at five in the afternoon, at Mr Hudson's property, having
stopped, during the heat of the day, under a large deserted shed,
situated in the middle of a most beautiful grass plat, and overshadowed
by splendid trees.  A rill of clear cold water ran past, in which we
cooled our liqueurs; and the substantial lunch we made, enabled all of
us to hold out gallantly until our journey was finished.  The road at
one time had wound along the margin of the sea; at another it diverged
inland amongst tree-covered knolls, and at every turn one was refreshed
by splashing through a crystal-clear stream.

Towards the afternoon we appeared to have made a longer detour, and to
have struck farther into the country than we had hitherto done.  We
passed several sugar estates, and then came to a large new settled
coffee property, with the bushes growing amongst the fire-scathed
stumps of the recently felled trees (up which the yam vines twisted
luxuriantly, as if they had been hop-poles), loaded with red berries,
that glanced like ripe cherries amongst the leaves, dark and green as
those of the holly.  We had just been greeted by the uncouth shouts of
a gang of newly imported Africans, that under white superintendents
were cultivating the ground, when Listado's horse suddenly started and
threw him, as he rode ahead of us pioneering the way for the ladies,
who were by this time mounted on their ponies, the volante having been
left at the estate below.  He fell amidst a heap of withered plantain
suckers, which crashed under him,--in an instant a hundred vultures,
hideous creatures, with heads as naked of feathers as a turkey-cock,
the body being about the same size, flew up with a loud rushing noise,
and a horrid concert of croaking, from the carcass of a bullock they
were devouring, that lay right in the path, and which had startled the
horse.  We were informed by one of the superintendents that the
creature had only died the night before; although by the time we saw
it, there was little remaining but the bones--indeed half a dozen of
the obscene birds were at work like quarrymen in the cavity of the ribs.

"Now, Listado, dear," said I, "you made an empty saddle of it very
cleverly--no wax there--why you shot out like a sky-rocket--but never
mind, I hope you are not hurt?"

He laughed louder than any of us, and again pricked a-head as zealously
as before.  The Patlander was at this time making sail past Dicky
Phantom, who was strapped on to a chair, that a negro had slung at his
back, knapsack fashion, and who kept way with us, go as fast as we
chose, apparently without the least inconvenience.

"I tink, Mr Listado," said the child to our friend, as he pushed a-head
to resume his station in the van--"I tink you wantee jomp upon de back
of one of dem big crow, Mr Listado.  Horse must hurt you some place, so
you want ride upon big turkey, eh?"

"You _tink_, you tiny little rascal, you! who put that quip in your
head?"

"Mamma Hudson, Miss Helen tell me say so."

"Bah," quoth Lorenzo, and shoved on.

"Hold hard," I shouted, as the road dipped abruptly into the recesses
of the natural forest; and I pulled up, for fear of my mule stumbling
or running me against a tree, or one of my companions; so sudden had
the change been from the fierce blaze of the sun in the cleared ground,
to the dark green twilight of the wood.  However, although the trees,
as we rode on, grew higher, and their intertwined branches became even
more thickly woven together, and the matted leaves overhead more
impervious to the light and heat, yet we all quickly became so
accustomed to the dark shade that we very soon saw every thing
distinctly.

"Good-morning, ladies," quoth Listado, as they dawned on him in all
their loveliness; "how do you do?  I have not seen you for some
time--do you know, the beautiful verdure of your cheeks, in this light,
is quite entirely captivating.  You would be the envy of all the
mermaids of the ocean if they saw you--but I believe they are not given
to walk much in woods.  Miss Hudson's beautiful face is of a cool
refreshing pea-green, as I am a gentleman; and her fair nose of the
colour of a grey parrot's bill, or an unboiled lobster's claw,--as for
Mademoiselle Duquesné--may I die an ould maid, if you are not a
delicate shade darker--and look if the child don't look as green as a
fairy.  Did ever mortal man see such a shamrock of a picanniny?  But it
is past meridian--stop till I take an observation."--Here our noisy
friend put a bottle of vin-de-grave to his head.

"Do you know," said he, "I really require a cordial after my ground and
lofty tumbling amongst those very damnable craturs, the turkey buzzards
down below there."

"Very true," said Miss Hudson; "and I presume, Mr Listado, since you
are dealing in nicknames, and have already ran through all the shades
of your national colour, you will not fire, if we call you Mr
Bottlegreen."

"Fair enough that same, Helen--Fire!--why, I have half a mind to shoot
you with this bottle of soda water," taking one from his holster--"if I
could only get the string loosened--Ah, Miss Hudson, would that my
heart strings were as tough."  And he made a most lamentable face, as
if his interior was disarranged, and heaved a sigh fit to turn the
sails of a windmill.

"There he goes with his mock sentimentality again," cried the sweet
girl, laughing.

We rode on, the ground becoming more rugged and rocky at every step,
but perfectly clear of underwood--the dry grey limestone rocks
increasing and shooting up all round us, like pinnacles, or Druidical
monuments: but still immense trees found nourishment enough in the
black mould amongst the fissures, dry as they appeared to be, and the
shade continued as deep as ever; while, as the afternoon wore on, the
musquittoes increased most disagreeably.

"Look at these two guanas chasing each other up that tree," shouted
Listado; "what horrid ugly things they are.  I declare that large one
is three feet long from stem to stern, as friend Benjie there would
have said."  As we all stopped to look at the hideous lizard, it seemed
to think, on the principle of fair play, that it might take a squint at
us, and accordingly came to a stand-still on a branch, about three
fathoms above where the negro stood with little Dicky on his back.

"What ugly beast," quoth the little fellow, as he lay back and looked
up at it--a musket shot at this instant was fired close to us from the
wood--the sharp report shattering from tree to rock, until it rattled
to rest in tiny echoes in the distance.  At first we all started, and
then peered anxiously about us, but we could only see a thin white puff
of smoke rise and blow off through a small break or vista in the
forest, and smell the gunpowder--we could perceive no one.  I looked
up, the guana had been wounded, as it was now clinging to the branch
with its two hind feet and its long tail, and fiercely biting and
tearing its side with its fore claws, as it hung with its head
downwards, and swung and struggled about in agony.  I made sure this
was the spot where the bullet had struck it, and just as the negro who
had fired, a sort of gamekeeper of Mr Hudson's, appeared at the top of
the path, the dragon-looking lizard dropped right down on poor little
Dicky Phantom, as he sat lashed into his chair, unable to escape.  Here
was the devil to pay with a vengeance.  The child shrieked, as the
abominable reptile twined and twisted about him, with its snake-like
tail, and formidable claws, and threatening him with its crocodile
looking snout.  I saw it bite him on the arm--this was the signal for
the women to scream, and Listado to swear, and for me to seize the
creature by the tail, and endeavour to drag him away--but I was
terrified to use force, lest I should lacerate poor Dicky--while the
negro, who carried the child, became frantic with fright, and jumped
and yelled amongst the trees, like an ourang-outang bitten by a
rattlesnake.  The guana still kept his hold of the child, however,
making a chattering noise between its teeth, like that of a small
monkey, when Listado came up to me--"Stop, Brail, give me"--and he
twitched the animal away with a jerk, and the sleeve of Dicky's frock
in its teeth; but it instantly fastened on his own leg, and if the
black game-keeper had not, with more presence of mind than any one of
us possessed, come up, and forcibly choked the creature off with his
bare hands, although he thereby got several severe scratches, he might
have been seriously injured.  However, it turned out that the damage
was not very serious after all, little Dicky having been more
frightened than hurt, as the guana's teeth had fastened in his clothes,
and not in his flesh, so we all soon got into sailing condition again,
and proceeded on our way.

Suddenly, the road abutted on a high white wall, the trees growing
close up to it, without any previous indications of cleared ground or
habitation.  This was the back part of Mr Hudson's house, which stood
on the very edge of the forest we had come through.  It was a large
stone edifice of two stories, plastered and white-washed, built in the
shape of a square, with a court in the centre, and galleries on both
floors all round the inside, after the pattern of the houses of the
nobility in Old Spain, especially in the Moorish towns.  We alighted at
a large arched gateway, and having given our horses to two black
servants that were in attendance, entered the court, where the taste of
the American ladies shone conspicuous.

In the centre there was a deep basin, hewn roughly, I should rather say
ruggedly, out of the solid rock, and filled with the purest and most
limpid water.  Several large plantain suckers grew on the edge of it,
in artificial excavations in the stone, to the height of twenty feet,
so that their tops were on a level with the piazza above; and a
fountain or jet of water was forced up from the centre of the pool, in
a whizzing shower, amongst their broad and jagged leaves, whereon the
large drops of moisture rolled about with every motion, like silver
balls on green velvet.  Beneath the proverbially cool shade of these
plantain suckers, a glorious living mosaic of most beautiful flowers,
interspersed with myrtle and other evergreens, filled the parterre,
which was divided into small lozenges by tiny hedges of young box and
lime bushes; while the double jessamine absolutely covered the pillars
of the piazza, as I have seen ivy clinging round the columns of a
ruined temple, scattering its white leaves like snow-flakes at every
gush of the breeze; yet all these glorious plants and flowers grew out
of the scanty earth that filled the crevices of the rock, seemingly
depending more on the element of water than on the soil.  Every thing
in the centre of the small square appeared so natural, so devoid of
that art, largely employed, yet skilfully masked, that I never would
have tired gloating on it.

"Now, Master Hudson," quoth Listado, "you have made two" [pronouncing
it _tew_] "small mistakes here.  First, you have the trees too near the
house, which brings the plague of musquittoes upon you; secondly, this
fountain, how pretty soever to look at, must make the domicile
confoundedly damp, and all your capital New York cheeses prematurely
mouldy.  I declare," feeling his chin, "I am growing mouldy myself, or
half of my beard has been left unreaped by that villanous razor of
Brail's there, that I scraped with this morning--shaving I could not
call it."

"Come, come," said I, "the fountain is beautiful, and don't blame the
razor until you have a better of your own."

"It is, indeed, beautiful," said Mrs Hudson; "but, alas! that such a
paradise should not be fenced against the demon of yellow fever!"

The supply of water to the basin of the said fountain, by the way,
which came from the neighbouring hill; wras so ample, that it forced
the jet from a crater-like aperture in the bottom, without the aid of
pipe or tube of any kind, full six feet above the surface in a solid
cone, or cube, of two feet in diameter; and the spray some eight feet
higher.  No one who has lived in such a climate, and witnessed such a
scene, can ever forget the delicious rushing, and splashing, and
sparkling of the water, and the rustling, or rather pattering, of the
plantain leaves, and of the bushes, as the breeze stirred them.

The lower gallery was paved with small diamond-shaped slabs of blue and
white marble, the very look of which added to the coolness.  "Why, Mr
Hudson, how glorious! nothing superior to this even in _ould_ Ireland."

The American laughed, and nodded in the direction of his daughter.  I
turned my eye in the same direction, and met hers.  She had apparently
been observing how I was affected, at least so my vanity whispered: she
blushed slightly, and looked another way.

I saw I must say something.  "Indeed, Miss Hudson, I thought you had
not been above two months in the island.  Did you not come down in the
American frigate"----

She smiled.

"I did, Mr Brail; but it was the cruise before last--we have been six
months here."

"Six months! and are all these glorious plants the growth of six
months?"

"Ay, that they are," quoth Listado; "most of them have not been planted
more than _six weeks_."

The inside of this large mansion was laid out more for comfort than
show; the rooms, that all opened into the corridors already mentioned,
were large and airy, but, with the exception of a tolerable
dining-room, drawing-room, and the apartments of the ladies, very
indifferently furnished.  They were lit from without by the usual heavy
wooden unglazed balconies, common both in New and Old Spain, which
appear to have been invented more for the purpose of excluding the heat
than admitting the light.

In front of the house, and on each side, were large white terraced
platforms, with shallow stone ledges, built in flights, like gigantic
stairs on the hillside.  On this the coffee was thickly strewed in the
red husk, or pulp, as it is called, to dry in the sun.  Little Dicky
took the berries to be cherries, until the pulp stuck in his little
teeth.

The opposite hill had been cleared, and was covered with coffee-bushes;
and right below us, in the bottom of the deep ravine, a tree-screened
rivulet murmured and brawled alternately over a rugged bed of limestone
rock, as the breeze rose and fell.

In the northernmost nook of the cleared field, the negro houses, as
usual surrounded with palm, star-apple, and orange trees, were
clustered below an overhanging rock like eagles' nests, with blue
threads of smoke rising up from them in still spiral jets, until it
reached the top of the breezy cliff that sheltered them, when it
suddenly blew off, and was dissipated.  Beyond these lay a large field
of luxuriant guinea grass, covered with bullocks and mules, like black
dottings on the hillside.  In every other direction one unbroken forest
prevailed; the only blemish on the fair face of nature was man: for
although the negroes that we saw at work appeared sleek and fat, yet,
being most of them fresh from the ship, there was a savageness in the
expression of their countenances, and in their half-naked bodies, that
had nothing Arcadian in it.

We were all, especially the ladies, pretty well tired; so, after a
comfortable dinner, we betook ourselves to rest betimes.  Next morning,
at seven o'clock, we again mustered in force in the breakfast room, and
the instant I entered, little Dicky, to my surprise, bolted from Helen
Hudson's side, dashing away her hand from him angrily, and ran to
me--"Massa Brail, Miss Hudson tell lie."

"Dicky, mind what you say."

"Oh, yes; but yesterday she say--Dicky Phantom, you put on petticoat
and frock--to-morrow you put on trowsers again."

"Oh, Dicky, Dicky," cried Helen, laughing.

"Well, my dear boy, Miss Hudson must be as good as her word, and
restore your trowsers: she does not mean to _wear_ them, does she?"

"Indeed, Dicky, Helen did quite right to dress you as you are," said
Mrs Hudson, perceiving her daughter a little put out; "your little
trowsers were all tar and pitch, and you are too young to leave off
frocks yet."

The child, although there was no help at hand, determined to show he
would not be imposed on, so, like a little snake casting his skin, he
deliberately shook himself, and with a wriggle of his shoulders slid
out of his clothes altogether; and there he stood like a little naked
Cupidon--"Now I shall go and catch fis," said the little fellow
laughing.  With that he toddled away into the basin of water, that was
gurgling and splashing in the court-yard.  I wish there had been a
painter to have caught the group.  Sophie Duquesné and Helen Hudson
running about the small walks of the rocky parterre, dashing the water
spangles from the flowers with their light feet, and laughing loudly as
they strove to catch Dicky, who kept just beyond their reach, squealing
with child-like joy, and splashing them: a perfect shower of spray
descending all the time on the beautiful urchin's own curly pate; while
the plantain leaves were shaking in the breeze, and checkering the blue
sky overhead.  At length De Walden caught him, and swung him out of the
water by the arms into Helen Hudson's lap.

When breakfast was over, we again mounted our mules, to explore the
neighbourhood towards the coast; for notwithstanding the tortuosity of
the road we had come, we were not, Mr Hudson said, above three miles
distant from the sea after all.  Listado, honest gentleman, chose to
mount the smallest mule that could be had; and as he was upwards of six
feet high, he looked, as he paced along, more like an automaton mounted
on a velocipede than any thing else.

After riding along for half an hour, in a path cut through the
otherwise impervious wood, we came to a naked, storm-scathed, and
sun-baked promontory of red clay and grey stone, which beetled over the
sea so abruptly, that the line of vision struck the water at least a
mile beyond the beach, which was thus entirely hid from our sight.  The
spot where we stood seemed to be the eastern headland, or cape, of a
small and most beautiful bay, which opened to our view down to leeward.
Beyond us, out at sea, the water was roughened by a fiery
sea-breeze--to use the West Indian phrase--the blue water being thickly
speckled with white crests; and from the speed with which the white
sails in the offing slid along their liquid way, like feathers, or
snow-flakes floating down the wind, it might be called a brisk gale.
Every now and then a tiny white speck would emerge from under the bluff
into sight, and skim away until lost in the misty distance; and a
coaster from the offing, as she hauled in for the bay, would as
suddenly vanish for a time, until she again appeared, diminished in the
distance to a sea-bird, gliding slowly along the glasslike surface of
the small bay, when she would fold her white wings, and become
stationary at anchor near the shipping-place, or Barquedier, as it is
called.

"We must go down and see that beautiful bay, Helen--Miss Hudson, I
mean--beg pardon"----

"We have not time, Mr Brail, to-day; we must return, as my father
wishes us to visit some beautiful scenery in the woods; but we shall
ride to it another forenoon--only, why will you distress yourself about
calling me Helen--why, I _am_ Helen--every body calls me Helen--with
your precise _Miss_ Hudson, and _Mademoiselle_ Duquesné.  If you stick
to such formalities, I will positively treat you to a few
_calculations_ and _guessings_."  Here the laughing girl gave the true
nasal twang of Jonathan himself.

"Well, well--agreed--Helen you shall be--my Helen."  She looked at me,
and blushing, held up her finger, and shook her head--as if she had
said--"No, no,--not quite _yet_."  My heart stopped a beat to gather
strength, and then gave such a devil of a bounce--"Hillo," thought
I--"Ha, ha, Master Benjamin!"

We therefore returned homewards, and having extended our ride in
another direction, and been highly gratified by the scenery, we found
ourselves seated at dinner, in the lower piazza of the court facing the
east, so as to be screened from the rays of the setting sun by the roof
of the house.

The water of the clear pool in the centre of the yard was led away, on
the side we sat on, in a little canal, amongst the rocks, out of which
it was hewn, and this was thickly planted with lotuses.  We had dined,
and the golden sky overhead began to be spangled with a bright silver
star here and there, and the distant and scarcely perceptible buzz of a
solitary scout of a musquitto, would every now and then suddenly
increase to a loud singing noise, as he reconnoitred your
auricle--presently you heard the hum of a whole picket of them--the
advanced guard of a host of winged pests, which were thus giving token
of the approach of evening.

"Master Hudson," quoth Listado again--"you have a beautiful situation
here, certainly; magnificent scenery, and a good house; fine water, and
pure air--but a damnable quantity of musquittoes--beg, pardon, ladies,
for the lapse--yet really, just as I am expatiating, one of those
devils has flown into my eye, half-a-dozen into my mouth, and--Lord, if
a big fellow has not got into my ear, and is at this identical moment
thundering away at the timpanum, ay, as if he were a bass drummer!"
Here our friend started up, and began to dance about and shake his
head, as if he would have cast it from his shoulders into the pool.

"Mr Brail," said Helen, laughing, as soon as the Irishman had
subsided--"do you see how carefully those beautiful water-lilies have
folded up their silver leaves before retiring to their watery
pillows?--there, that one nearest your foot has already sunk below the
water; and the largest, that is still gently moved by the small ripple
that radiates from the splashing water in the middle of the basin, will
soon follow--See, it is gone"--as, one by one, the whole of the
beautiful plants gradually sank under the surface for the night.

I was struck with this, and fascinated by the tone and manner of the
speaker;--when suddenly the lotuses again emerged.

"Heyday," said De Walden--"your poetry is all lost, Miss Hudson; the
flowers don't seem to sleep sound on the watery pillows you spoke
of--they are as gallant and complimentary as Don Lorenzo there; for
see, they are all back to have another peep at you."

"Probably they found their beds were not made, De Walden," rapped out
Listado.

"Very extraordinary; what can that mean?" said Sophie Duquesné.

"My dear Miss Duquesné," said Listado, "I see I must give you some
lessons in pronunciation still--why will you worry your R's so in your
beautiful throat?"

"It is my French accent, you know, and I cannot help it," said the
lovely creature, laughing.

"But really what _is_ this?" said Helen; and as she spoke, the jet
gradually became weaker and weaker; the water in the pool rapidly
subsided for a minute; and then, with a loud, gurgling noise,
disappeared altogether, leaving the rocky bed dry, and the poor pet
mountain-mullets walloping amongst the water-plants like so many silver
wedges.

"Hillo," shouted Listado, in extreme surprise--"Hillo, who has stolen
our purling stream?--what the devil has become of the river, Master
Hudson?"  This was a thing neither Mr Hudson nor any one else could
tell--that it had absolutely vanished as described was clear enough;
but just as the girls and De Walden had secured the fish in a tub, the
basin was again filled, as suddenly as it had been emptied, with the
same loud gurgle, too, and in ten minutes one could not have told that
any thing had happened.

"There must have been some subterranean convulsions to produce this
phenomenon," said I.

"No doubt of it," rejoined Listado--"Old Nicholas had run short of
water for his tay, and borrowed our beautiful jet for a little--but,
hush! he has heard me, so sure as peas are pays in Ireland, and has
turned off the water again--Hush!"

It once more disappeared in the same manner, and with the same loud,
gurgling noise as before; but after the basin was dry this time, we
distinctly heard several distant reports, in the bowels of the earth,
like the far-off reverberations of a cannon-shot amongst the hills.

"There was no earthquake?" said Mr Hudson, looking round enquiringly,
after we had a little recovered from our surprise--no one had perceived
it if there had been.  "I should not be surprised if this be the
precursor of one, however," he continued, "after this long drought and
intense heat."

      *      *      *      *      *

The following evening was the one we had fixed on, according to
previous arrangement, to ride to the beautiful bay lying within the
promontory already described.

The weather, as already hinted, for several weeks preceding this had
been uncommonly hot, even for that climate; and the earth was parched
and rent by intense drought.  In many places in our rides we came upon
fissures a foot wide, and several fathoms deep; and the trees had, in
general, assumed the hue of our English leaves in November.  There had
been several "temblores de tierra," or shocks of earthquake, within
this period--slight at first, but they seemed to increase in strength
and frequency, as the dry weather continued; and it was therefore
reasonable to refer the sudden disappearing of the jet of water to some
internal convulsion of this nature.

On the day in question there was not a cloud to be seen--a hot blending
blue blaze hung over the land and water, through which every object
trembled as if the earth and sea had sent up a thin smoke through
intensity of heat.

The sun when he rose, and until high up in heaven, had the same red
magnified disk, as in a foggy winter morning in England; and a lurid
purple hue pervaded all nature, as if he had been suffering a temporary
eclipse; while the usual sea breeze entirely failed.

About noon every thing was deadly still,--the cattle had betaken
themselves to the small river, where they stood listlessly chewing
their cuds, as if overpowered by the density of the air.  Not a bird
was hopping in the no longer vocal trees; the very lizards were still:
the negroes employed in cleaning the coffee pieces worked in silence,
in place of shouting and laughing, and gabbling to each other, as is
their wont--and when the driver or black superintendent gave his
orders, the few words he uttered sounded loud and hollow, echoing from
hill to hill.  I could hear distinctly what he said on the opposite
mountain side, situated above a mile off, although I was persuaded at
the same time that he spoke in his natural tone, and with no greater
exertion than he used in common conversation.  The very clink of the
negroes' hoes in the rocky soil was unaccountably distinct and sharp.

Several inexplicable noises had been heard during the forenoon from the
head of the ravine; and once or twice a strong rushing sound, like the
wind amongst trees, passed over our heads, although there was not a
zephyr moving; a poet might have fancied it cohorts of invisible
spirits charging each other in the air.  At other times, a gradually
increasing subterraneous grumbling noise would spring up, at first
undistinguishable from distant thunder, but coming apparently nearer,
it would end in a series of deadened reports, like a distant cannonade;
and this again would be followed by a sharp hissing or hurtling in the
sky, altogether different from the rushing noise already described;
more resembling that made by streamers in a high latitude, or the
flight of a congreve rocket than any thing else.  But the most
startling sound of all was the solitary wild cry of a crane, now and
then; resembling for all the world the high note of a trumpet, blown
short and quick.

We had all been puzzling ourselves with these appearances and strange
noises during the forenoon,--some arguing that a hurricane was
impending, others that they betokened an earthquake; but the stillness
continued without either occurring, and the day wore on very much as
usual.

In the evening, the sun was again shorn of his flaming beams, as he
sank in the west, and became magnified as in the morning, when he
dipped in the haze near the horizon, into a broad moonlike globe.

"Come," said our excellent host, "we have had no exercise to-day, I
calculate, so let us order the mules, and ride to Helen's beautiful
bay, that she raves about; we shall at least breathe fresher air there."

"Oh, papa, I don't _rave_ about it," said she; "it is only Sophia and
Mr Listado who _rave_;" whereupon the ladies vanished, but soon
reappeared all ready, when we mounted and set off.

By the time we reached the eastern cape, or headland of the small bay,
the sun, near his setting, had tinged the whole calm sea, as far as the
eye could reach, with a bluish purple.  The stars appeared larger than
usual; some of them surrounded with tiny haloes; and the planet Venus,
as she struggled up in the east, loomed like a small moon.

We wound downwards along a zig-zag path, hewn out of the rock, until we
arrived at the beautiful white beach, which we had admired so much from
above.

The swell from the offing tumbled in towards the land, in long purple
undulations, and as it broke on the rocky coast beyond the promontory,
the noise was like the distant roar of a populous town, borne on the
swell of the breeze.  In the bay itself, however, all was still; the
surface of the sea clear and calm as a mirror.  The sun was still
visible to us, but already every thing was in shade on the opposite
side of the anchorage--here about a quarter of a mile across, where the
dark trees and bushes were reflected with startling distinctness: There
was no ascertaining the water line in that direction, as the bank was
high and precipitous, and the foliage darkened down to the very water's
edge; on our side, at the head of the bay, there was a small wooden
wharf that ran into the sea, alongside of which lay a shallop with her
sails hoisted, but hanging motionless in the dead calm, from the spars.
A solitary negro was walking slowly up and down this erection, smoking;
his shadow in the water looking like his _doppel ganger_, or a familiar
spirit.  There was a large schooner lying right in the centre of the
bay, very heavily rigged, and apparently armed, but I could see no one
on deck at first; presently, however, there was a bustle on board of
her, and two boats were hoisted out.

"What schooner is that?" I asked Mr Hudson--he did not know--it must be
some coaster he thought.

"It cannot be that they are startled at our appearance, surely," said
Helen; "yet it looks like it."

"Oh, nonsense!" cried Don Lorenzo--"a drogger waiting for coffee; a
drogger, Miss Hudson, believe me."

But I was not sure of this, for all at once, under the cliff on the
opposite side, we heard the sound of a hammer, and could see a forge at
work, by the sparks that rose up like clouds of fire-flies, and the
sudden jets of light that glanced on the water: flashing on the hairy
chest and muscular arms of a swarthy-looking fellow, naked all to his
trowsers, who was busily employed with his hammer, and on the dingy
figure of a negro that worked the bellows for him.


  "When Vulcan forged the bolts of Jove,"

sang Listado, but the sound of his own voice in the unnatural
stillness, startled both himself and us, and he broke off abruptly.
Next moment the flame of the forge disappeared, the clink of the
hammer, and the creaking and puffing of the bellows ceased.  A boat now
put off from the schooner, and pulled in the direction of the forge.

From the clash and tinkling of the materials, as they were taken on
board, it was evident that the whole apparatus had been hurriedly
dismounted.

"I really do believe that we are the cause of all this bustle," said De
Walden; "that schooner is deuced like the craft I have been accustomed
to see employed as slavers."

When the people returned towards the schooner, we heard a voice from
the brake close to us, as of some one weak from disease, hail them to
make haste and come for him, as the person speaking "did not like the
look of the weather."  This made us all start--but we saw no one until
the boat touched the beach, when a tall figure in the dress of a
Spanish seaman, walked slowly from the wood, got on board apparently
with great difficulty; and the boat pushed off.

I noticed De Walden start as the man pushed past.  The instant they got
on board, another anchor was let go, topmasts and yards were struck,
and had down on deck, boats were hoisted in, and other precautions were
doubtless taking, from the bustle we heard, which we could not see, to
ensure her riding easily through the coming night.  Soon all was still
again.  The fire-flies now began to sparkle amongst the trees, when, as
we turned to reascend the path by which we had come, De Walden
whispered me, in an agitated voice,--"That was the man that stabbed
you, as sure as I live."

"The devil!" said I, turning suddenly round in my saddle, as if I had
expected him to jump up behind me; "but come, don't let us alarm the
party."

Mr Hudson here said he thought the water of the bay trembled, and that
the stars twinkled in it, but before I perceived any thing it was again
calm as glass.  Presently several fish leaped out, as if startled,
shattering the surface into circling and sparkling ripples; others
skimmed on the top with an arrowy rush, their heads above water, and
several owls broke from the shelter of the bushes opposite with a
hoarse screech, rustling among the leaves, and after a struggling and
noisy flutter at the start, flitted across to us; ruffling the
glass-like bay with the breezy winnowing of their wings.

"What can all this mean?" said Listado.  "Did you perceive any thing,
Brail?"

He was standing beside his mule as he spoke, but none of the rest of us
had dismounted.

"No; did you?"

"I thought there was a slight shock of an earthquake just now; but you
might not have felt it from being mounted.  There, listen!"

A rushing, as of a mighty wind, the same kind of mysterious sound that
we had heard from the wood in the morning, now breezed up in the
distance once more; mingled with which, a report like a distant cannon
shot was every now and then heard.

It was evident that some tremendous manifestation of the power of the
Invisible was at hand; but none of us moved.  Some unaccountable
fascination held us riveted to the spot.  We were all spell-bound.
What, indeed, was the use of flight?  Where could we have hid ourselves
from Him, to whom the darkness is as the noonday, and whose power
pervades all space?  The water in the bay now began to ebb suddenly,
until it retired about twenty paces, leaving a broad white sandy beach
where before there had been but a narrow stripe of pebbles.  In another
moment it again rushed in with a loud _shaling_ noise--I coin the word
for the sound--in _bores_ nearly ten feet high, and thundered against
the rocks, with a violence as if it had been the swell of the
everlasting deep, hove by a storm against their iron ribs; and flashing
up in white smoke all round us and over us.  The very next moment, a
huge mass of the grey cliff above was disruptured, and thundering with
increasing bounds, pitched right over our heads (distinctly visible
between us and the sky), a pistol-shot into the sea, where it dashed
its shadow in the water into fragments, as it fell with a flash like
fire; rotten branches and sand showered down in all directions; the dew
was shaken like a fall of diamonds from the trees, the schooner's crew
shouted, birds and beasts screamed and bellowed, and the mules we rode
started and reared as the earth quaked beneath their feet, and yelled
forth the most unearthly sounds that ever issued from the throat of
quadruped.  The shallop at the wharf was hove bodily forward on the
crest of a tremendous sea, like a moving mountain, and then dashed on
the shore; the schooner first dragged her anchors by the sudden and
tumultuous ebb, and then drove with inconceivable violence against the
wharf, where I thought she would have been stranded; but the retiring
surge again floated her back, and the next minute she was fast drifting
out of the bay.  She had parted both cables.

We hastened home, where we found every thing in great confusion.  The
house was filled with dust, the walls and roof cracked in many places,
and the wooden frames of the windows in two instances forced from their
embrasures by the sinking of the walls.  The field negroes were
crowding round in great dismay, and the house servants were no less so;
but, amidst all this hubbub--lo!--the beautiful fountain was once more
bubbling, and hissing, and splashing in its rocky basin, and amongst
the leaves, as cheerily as if it had never intermitted at all.

"The old one has slaked his thirst.  You see we have got back our
purling stream again, Mr Hudson," said Listado.

The ladies immediately retired, their nerves having been desperately
shaken; and I for one was right glad to follow their example.  Before
we males retired, however, we had a long discussion, as to the
possibility or impossibility of the suspicious chap we had seen at the
bay being Adderfang; who at the moment ought to have been in prison at
Havanna.  De Walden continued thoroughly persuaded of his identity;
but, at the same time, could not conceal his lingering kindness for
him.  So we finally determined to let the villain alone, if it really,
against all probability, were he, so far as we were concerned.

On the following forenoon, we once more took the road to Havanna.  On
starting, it came to be my lot, purely by accident, of course, to
assist Miss Hudson to mount her mule, and in the action it was equally
natural to squeeze her hand a little.  I _thought_ the squeeze was
returned; and "hilloa!" said I to myself again.

The evening following our return Mrs Hudson gave a small party; and,
recollecting the transaction of the former day, as I took my partner's
hand in the dance, for by another accident Miss Hudson was the lady, I
thought I would see whether I was mistaken or not; so I tried the
telegraph again, and gave her fair hand a gentle but _significant_
pressure this time.  By heaven! it was now returned beyond all
doubt,--and I started, and blushed, and fidgeted, as if the whole room
had seen the squeeze, while a thrill of pleasure--no, not pleasure;
of--of--phoo, what does it signify; but it was something very funny and
delightful at any rate.  I looked at the fair little woman, and, as if
to make assurance doubly sure, I saw the eloquent blood mantling in her
cheek, and tinging her lovely neck like the early dawn in June.

"Oh Lord!  I am a done man; quite finished for ever and aye."

"Why, Brail, what the deuce are you after?" shouted Listado, as he
thundered against me in a furious _poussette_.  "You are in every
body's way, and your own too; mind, man, mind."

With that he again floundered past me with his partner, a bouncing
girl, the daughter of an American merchant of the place, contriving in
their complex twirlifications not only to tread heavily on my toes with
his own hoofs, but to hop his partner repeatedly over the same
unfortunate members.

Nothing worth recording happened after this event for three weeks; or,
rather, I thought nothing unconnected with it of any the smallest
importance, until Mr Hudson one morning at breakfast asked Listado, who
had just entered, and who was a very frequent visitor, if he had ever
heard any thing more of Adderfang?

"Yes; De Walden and I have just heard very surprising things of him.
Tell it, De Walden; I have had such a long walk this morning that I am
very sharp set.  Coffee, if you please; Brail, some of that
fowl.--So--Now, De Walden, about Adderfang--you have nearly
breakfasted, you know."

"Come, De Walden," said I; "let us hear the story, since we can get
nothing out of Listado there."

"Out of me, Brail? you are mighty unreasonable; how the devil can you
get any thing out of an empty vessel, which I am at this
blessed"--nuzzle--nuzzle--nuzzle.  Here, in his zeal to stow his cargo,
he became quite unintelligible, and I again asked the midshipman to
enlighten us.

"Why, sir," said he, "I know nothing regarding it, saving what Monsieur
Listado _told_ me."

"Well, tell what I told you, then; that's a good fellow"--mumble,
mumble, munch, munch, quoth our amigo.

"Brail, some of that ham;--go on, De Walden, will ye--devil take the
fellow;--bread, if you please, Monsieur Duquesné--thank you.  How
deucedly hungry I am, to be sure;--that claret, Brail--and the _monkey_
of cool water--thank you--work along, Henry."

The handsome boy laughed.  "Really, Mr Brail, I don't know that any
thing I have heard can interest you--Monsieur Listado there has been
frequently at the prison confabulating with the hangman."

"Bah, you be hanged yourself, Henry," shouted our uproarious friend,
with his mouth full of bread and butter.

"Well, he is the jailer at the genteelest, then--and he, it seems, told
him first of all that Adderfang had been unexpectedly better--then,
that he grew worse--then better again, until yesterday, when he told
our accomplished friend"----

"Henry, do you value your life, you villain?" said Listado, threatening
him with his knife in one hand, and the bread in another, as if he
would have cast it at his head, but still munching away.

"To be sure I do, Listado, so let me get on.  As I was saying, when he
called yesterday--lo! the prison had been broken into some weeks ago,
and the villain stolen--that's all."

"All!" echoed I; "so you were really right as to the man we saw being
Adderfang."

"I never had a doubt of it in my own mind," said the midshipman.

"Why," I continued, "there must have been connivance."

M. Duquesné smiled.  "Ah, Monsieur Brail, de road--way you call, of dis
country, and de habitants, you not know--I make no vonder not large at
all--it has happen very customary."

"And so it has," said Mr Hudson; "the truth is, Mr Brail, that here in
Havanna few people are inimical to the trade Adderfang was engaged in;
on the contrary, it is all but openly encouraged; nor have they any
great horror even to a piratical cruise now and then, _if_ successful;
and where could they get such a determined fellow for a leader as this
same Adderfang, who, I learn, was bred a sailor in early life, although
for some years after his father's death he remained at home and studied
for the bar? at least so said your man Lennox."

"What a splendid specimen of the powers of the garrote we have lost!"
quoth Monsieur Listado, still busied in making a most substantial
meal;--"a small cup of that excellent coffee, Miss Helen--bless your
lovely fingers--But, my dear boy, flown the villain is," continued the
Irishman, addressing me, "however it came about; and before long he
will be on the high seas once more, I make no manner of doubt; whether
as slaver or pirate, heaven knows.  Of course, your friends the Midges,
Master Brail, will rejoice at this, as I would at the escape of a
snared fox, which might afford sport another day; but, for one, I
should be deucedly loath to fall into his hands, that's all."

"And I agree with you for once, Listado, for no joy in the world have
I, that a scoundrel, who obliged me with six inches of steel under my
ribs, should escape."

"Pray, Miss Sophie," said he, without noticing the interruption, "have
you ever seen him, this Adderfang?  Fine man--square shoulders--small
waist--a piece of that yam, Mrs Hudson--thank you--but a regular Don
Juan--a devil among the ladies--and--oh, Lord, I declare a bone has
stuck in my throat."

On that day week, the frigate arrived.  I was very curious to see how
the commodore would meet De Walden; but it seems the latter had written
him to Jamaica, and there was no scene, although I could perceive the
kind old man's eye sparkle, and a tear of joy trickle down his furrowed
cheek, whenever he could steal what he thought an unobserved glance at
him.  However, it was not my province to pry into his secret, if secret
there was.

The commodore now determined to sell the Midge all standing, and to
draft her crew to Gazelle once more--and it was accordingly done.

As old Dogvane came over the side, after having given up charge of her
to the Spanish sailors that came to take possession, he grumbled
out--"That same wicked little Midge an't done with her buzzing or
stinging either, or I mistake.  She has fallen among thieves, or little
better, that's sartain, judging from the sample we have here,"--eyeing
the strangers,--"and I'll lay a pound of baccy, she will either be put
in the contraband slaving on the coast of Africay again, or to some
worse purpose, among them keys and crooked channels hereaways.  I say,
my hearties," turning to the Spaniards, "what are your masters agoing
to do with this here fellucre?"

"To rone between Jamaica and dis wid goods--passengers--one trader to
be."

"One trader--no honest one, I'll venture--but all's one to old Dogvane."

Next morning, De Walden came to my room as I was dressing, with a
packet from Jamaica, that had been sent to Batabano, and thence across
the island to Havanna.  I opened it, and had to read it twice over
before I could comprehend the contents, or ascertain what the writer
wanted to be at.

To understand this letter sufficiently, be it known that the author
thereof was suffering at the time from gout in his hand, and in
consequence had to employ a brown clerk as an amanuensis--a simple
creature, as I afterwards found, when I came to know him, whose only
qualification for his post was the writing, like all his cast, a most
beautiful hand; but, unfortunately, in his blind zeal, he had given a
little more than had been intended to stand as the text by the party
whose signature was appended to it; in fact, he had written down,
_verbatim et literatim, all_ that his master _had said_ while dictating
the letter; and the effect of the patchwork was infinitely ridiculous.
The reason why the superfluous dialogue in it had not been expunged was
the want of time, and loss of the spectacles, as stated.


"_Ballywindle Estate, Jamaica,_
  "_Such a date._

"MY DEAR NEPHEW,--I had letters from England, although none from
you--you boy of slender manners.  Knowing how much I made of you when
you were a little potato button, I expected other things;--but to the
letters--they told me--the devil fly away with this infernal gout, that
makes me employ a brown chap, who, they say, is somewhat like me about
the snout, as an amanuensis--mind you spell that word now--and
fortunately for you I do so employ him, as he writes as beautiful a
fist as one would like to see in a long winter's morning when the fog
is thick--but, as I was saying, I had letters telling me that you had
gone out with your kit packed in a ready-made coffin, to the coast of
Africa, with my excellent old friend Sir Oliver Oakplank; who, as a
recompense for a life spent in the service, had been sent to die in the
bight of Benin--that's a parenthesis, mind--to gather negroes from
others who stole them--and that, according to practice, the Gazelle,
that is the name of the commodore's ship, although it is probable you
already know as much, having been by this time three months on board of
her from all accounts--put that in a parenthesis also--was to make the
round voyage by Jamaica to Havanna, and home.  Judge, then, my great
surprise when, after trudging to Kingston, I found that you were not
there in the old frigate at all, but had chosen to go to Havanna in the
tender; and what was worse, I was at the same time told by your uncle's
correspondents, my excellent friends Peaweep, Snipe, and Flamingo (what
a broth of a boy that same young Flamingo is!) that you were to be
taken into the Liverpool House, and to return direct from Havanna,
without visiting me at all, at all.

"Now, if that old villain, Peter Brail, your excellent uncle, and all
the rest of it, has had the heart to do this, may the devil burn me if
he shall ever get another tierce of coffee from Lathom Frenche.  He has
plenty of young friends to bring on, while I have none but you, Benjie;
so he _must_ give you up, or I shall murder him.  But stop till I tell
my story properly.

"So, you see, after I heard of this change I was in such a taking,
that, to drown my disappointment, I had a wet week with Sir Oliver and
some Kingston friends; for it was the rainy season, you must know, and
devils are those same Kingstonians, in the way of gentleman-like
libations of tepid Madeira and cold claret, whereby I got another touch
of my old remembrancer the gout, under which I am at this blessed
moment suffering severely--I say, boy, bring me a rummer of Madeira
sangaree, and a hot yam with the brown, crisp and well scraped, do you
hear--well I declare the skin of it is as beautiful as a berry, and the
mealy inside as fragrant as the dryest potato from Ballywindle in old
Ireland--so here's the 'glorious and immortal memory,' and confound the
Pope; but never mind, although, you may just confound the gout too,
when you are at it.--But, as I was saying, I came home with the gout
brewing all the way, and got so wet one day, that I dreaded lest, it
should be driven into that fortress, or rather that citadel, the
stomach--there's a poetical image for you--so I took a warming, that
is, I made another comfortable week of it on my return home, just to
keep up the circulation, and to drive the enemy--don't be surprised at
the militariness of my lingo, for I am colonel of the regiment of foot
militia here--another parenthesis, Timothy--from, the interior, and
compel him to develope his strength in the outworks, or rather to
retreat to them, which he, the gout, viz.  has done with a vengeance,
let me tell you; having clapperclawed what you would call my larboard
peg, and my starboard fin, zig-zagging in his approaches, as regularly
as Vauban or Cohorn--fair play, you know--a sound limb on each side,
which is a mercy of its kind; so I hop from table to bed, and _vice
versa_, and balance myself the whole way like a rope-dancer; for I hate
a crutch--what are you stopping for, Timothy--oh, I see, to mend your
pen--sangaree, Tim--bless me, how thirsty I am, to be sure!--I hate a
crutch, and my servants, curiously enough, for we don't often agree,
are unanimous with me in that same, as somehow I break one a-day, when
I am driven to it, over their woolly skulls: and that costs money--if
you could pick up a cheap lot of lancewood spars, now, in Havanna, that
would stand a blow--you might fetch me a hundred or so--it is tough,
and bends, and doesn't break like mahogany or cedar.

"During my confinement, old Jacob Munroe, the storekeeper at Montego
bay, called to see me, and get his account settled.  He brought a
handsome clergyman-looking man with him, dressed in black--ah, you may
leave that out--he will guess as much, if I tell him he was a
clerical-looking person--whom he introduced to me as _Mister_ Lennox,
and who had arrived in one of the Cuba smugglers some days before.
Judge my surprise when this young gentleman told me, with all the
appearance of truth, that he had been a corporal of marines on board
the Gazelle, although old Jacob called him at first an _officer_ of
marines, forgetting to say whether _commissioned_ or not, and had
actually been with you in the Midge--how could you trust yourself in
such a mussel-shell?--until he had, through the interest of his friends
at home, obtained his discharge.

"He told me the whole story of your being wounded, and taken into a
Frenchman's house, and being desperately in love with some young
American lady--but you know, Benjie, I don't like Americans--a Yankee
girl, forsooth!--put the Yankee girl in a parenthesis--and a variety of
other entertaining anecdotes, which made my heart yearn towards the
only son of my dear sister Jane, although you have had the misfortune
to have a Scotchman to your father--but, poor boy, he can't help that;
so, Timothy, out with all about the Scotchman--he was born in Ireland,
anyhow--for I am getting old now, Benjamin; and although rich enough, I
begin to feel desolate and lonely, being without chick or child to
comfort me, excepting some yellowhammers--no, not you, Timothy--so
write away, my good lad--that claim a sort of left-handed interest in
me here.  But I have been kind to them, and no doubt must answer for
the sins of my youth; but they are not just the sort of representatives
one would wish to leave behind them; although, indeed, if this blessed
state of things goes on at the pace it is doing at home, we may see a
woolly-headed Lord Chancellor shortly--I hope he will have a civil
tongue in his head--and a flat-nosed dingy-skinned Speaker of the
honourable House.

"However, so far as I see, that will be a while yet; and, in the mean
time, I want you to give up old Peter, if you can do so honourably, and
pin your faith on me.  But as I am a reasonable man, and may not like
you after all, when I do see you, I think it but fair to send you the
enclosed notarial copy of a bond in your favour for L.10,000 sterling
as a sort of compensation for the measure I recommend, _if you take
it_; but which expresses in the body of it, as you see, that it is only
to become onerous on me, when you arrive in my house here, after having
made your election, as aforesaid.  Now, Benjie, dear, if you are
conscious that you are a gentlemanlike, pleasant, honourable young
fellow, who can ride a bit, and shoot, and drink a bottle of claret now
and then--alas! there are no foxhounds here--foxhounds in a parenthesis
again, Tim--come to me and change your ploughshare into a
pruning-hook--no, that's not it--your ploughshare into a billhook--no,
and that's not it neither--your bill-hook into a pruning-hook--bah!
botheration!--if you are all that I ask you, and what my nephew _ought
to be_ by descent, and be d----d to him--if, in one word, _you are a
gentleman_--come to me, man--come and comfort the poor, desolate, old
fellow, who is pining in his helpless days for the want of something to
love; and who, since he made up his mind to write for you, is every
moment grappling you to his Irish heart, in joyous anticipation, with
hooks of steel.  Write me immediately, and follow yourself as soon as
you can--or you may follow yourself first, if equally convenient, and
let your letter come after--and enclosed you have also a draft on Mr
M---- for 1000 dollars as earnest, and to clear you at Havanna.

"Regards to Sir Oliver, who will by this time--no, write that
time--_that_ is, by the time when he will get this--be with you, and to
young Donovan--a prime boy that same Donovan would make, with a little
training, as ever carried a shamrock in his hat-band, or a shillelah in
his fist--and old Sprawl, I love the rum-looking, warm-hearted
creature, because he likes you--what shall I ever dislike that you
love, Benjie?--so, believe me, your attached uncle,

"LATHOM FRENCHE.

"P.S.--The post is just going off to Montego bay, so I have no time to
have this corrected; nor, indeed, could I read it over if I had, as I
have mislaid my spectacles--so excuse blunders."


Here was a new vista opening up with a vengeance--so, after having read
over the letter repeatedly, I determined to submit it at once to Mr
Hudson, whom I knew to be a clear-headed man, notwithstanding his
guessings and calculations, and friendly withal.  He thought the advice
given sound.

"And as a proof of it," said he, "if my son were in your position, and
had such an offer made to him, I would not hesitate a moment in
recommending him to accept it.  Indeed, you are in a great measure in
duty bound to obey a kinsman, who, by your own account, has been so
kind to you; and who can be of such essential service to you,
especially when he counsels you so reasonably."

I will not conceal that many a fond hope fluttered about my heart, as I
reflected what this new state of things might bring about; and that
very morning I struck while the iron was hot, and, like a very wise
person, took Miss Helen Hudson, of all people on earth, to my councils,
and asked _her_ advice, forsooth.

"Helen, what would _you advise_ me to do?"

"Benjamin, I cannot _advise_--I am a simple girl--but whatever you may
do, or wherever you may be--heaven knows"--her voice faltered--"heaven
knows your happiness will always be," &c. &c. &c.  So she burst into
tears, and I caught her in my arms, and--oh Lord, what a devil of a
bother this same love is!

"Now, Helen," said I, "let us compose ourselves--I am as yet in a
manner unknown to you; but to convince you that I am an honourable man,
all that I ask is, that you shall hold this engagement sacred, until I
can communicate with my uncle.  If I find my prospects as satisfactory
as I expect, I will immediately return, and throw myself at your feet;
if I do not, I do not say that I will not still prefer my suit; _but
you shall not be bound by your promise_.  So my Helen, now."

"Yes," said the darling girl, as she rose, smiling through her tears
like--oh, all ye gods, for a simile! but never mind--from the sofa
where we had been sitting--"yes; _your_ Helen now, Benjamin."

"Heyday," quoth Mrs Hudson, as she entered the room; "here's a scene.
Why, Helen, you have been weeping, I see--and Mr Brail!--Now what is
wrong?  Tell me, dearest?"

"Oh, not now, mother--not now.  Come with me--come, and I will tell you
all."

And as they passed towards the door, who should stumble in upon us but
Monsieur Listado.

"Good-morning, Mrs Hudson--good-morning.  Halloo--and is it off they
are, without so much as a bow, or--Brail, what is the meaning of all
this?--Miss Hudson is weeping, as I am a gentleman.  You cannot have
been uncivil to her--it is impossible.  But, Benjamin Brail, much as I
esteem you, if I thought"----

"Out of my way, you troublesome blockhead," said I, in the hurry and
confusion of the moment; and I brushed past him and fled to my own
room, with the most comical mixture of feelings possible.  It was full
half an hour before I could control them, and recover my composure; and
I had just begun to subside into my everyday character, when I received
a message from Mr Hudson, to whom his wife had communicated all that
had passed between his daughter and me.  I never can forget the anxiety
I felt to construe the expression of his face, when I first entered the
room.  It was favourable, heaven be thanked.

"Mr Brail, I know what has passed between you and Helen,"--oh Lord,
thought I--"I would have been better pleased, had you explained
yourself either to Mrs Hudson or me, before matters had gone so far;
but this cannot be helped now."--He paused a good while.  "From what I
know of you, Mr Brail, I have more confidence in you, I rejoice to say,
than I ever had before in any young man I have known for so short a
period."  I bowed.  "And your very prudent proposals to my daughter
argue you possessed of sound discretion."  Beyond my hopes, thought I.
"So I calculate you had better let me see that same letter of your
uncle's again that I read before; and we will also take a look at the
bond."

Here shone out the Yankee; but he was using no more than common
circumspection, in a matter involving his daughter's happiness so
largely.  Both were submitted to him, and on the morrow we were to hold
a grand palaver on the subject.  He had left me, and I had just dressed
for dinner, when a gentle tap was heard, and an officer of the American
frigate presented himself with a grave face at the door.

"Beg pardon, Mr Brail; I am sorry our friend Listado should have
pressed me into the service in this matter; but I pray you to believe
that I shall be most happy, if I can be instrumental in making up the
quarrel, without resorting to extreme measures."

"Here's a coil," thought I.  "Mr Listado! a quarrel!  I have no quarrel
with Mr Listado that I am aware of."

"My dear sir, I am afraid he thinks otherwise.  Here is his letter,"
said the American, handing it to me.

"Let me see," I opened it.


"SIR--I am as little given to take unnecessary offence as any man; but
as I have good reason to believe, from what I saw, that you have
affronted Miss Hudson; and as I am _quite_ certain you have slighted
me, I request you will either apologize to her and myself"--(her and
myself, indeed, interjected I)--"or give me a meeting to-morrow
morning, at any hour most convenient for you, that does not interfere
with breakfast.--I remain, your humble servant,

"LAURENCE LISTADO."


"Now, Mr Crawford," said I, "this is a mighty ridiculous affair
altogether.  I am not aware, as I said before, of having given Listado
any offence; and what he can mean by attempting to fasten this very
unnecessary quarrel on me, I cannot for the life of me divine."

"So far as his own injuries are concerned," said Crawford, "I am
authorized to say, that he perceived you were confused at the time, and
did not well know, apparently, what you were about; so he makes no
account of your conduct to himself; but the affront to Miss Hudson "--

Here William Hudson entered with a knowing face; and on being informed
what had happened, he burst into a long fit of laughter.  Crawford
looked aghast, and was beginning to get angry, just as Hudson found his
tongue.

"Now, Crawford, back out of this absurd affair altogether; why, surely
_I_ am the man to take up my sister's quarrel, if quarrel there must
be."

"I'll be d----d if you or any man shall take up her quarrel, now since
I have made it mine," quoth Listado, swinging suddenly into the room.

"What brings _you_ here, in the name of all that is absurd?" said
Hudson.

"Why, William, I was thinking that the loud laughing possibly portended
some fresh insult; at any rate, from the time Crawford was taking to
fix matters, I began to fear that the quarrel might miss fire after
all."

"Be quiet now, Listado," said Hudson, still scarcely able to speak;
"who ever saw a matter of this kind managed by the principals.  I am
Brail's second; leave me to deal with Crawford."

"Well, Brail," quoth Listado, addressing _me direct_, to my great
surprise, "let you and I sit down here, until our friends there fix
when and where we may shoot each other comfortably;" and he hauled me
away by the button-hole as familiarly as ever.

The two lieutenants walked to the other end of the room, where
Crawford's face soon became "as joyous as Hudson's had been; and both
of them had to turn their backs on us, and apply their handkerchiefs to
their mouths to conceal their laughter.  At length they mustered
sufficient command of feature to turn towards us, and approach; but
every now and then there was a sudden involuntary jerk of Hudson's
shoulders, and a lifting of his eyebrows, and a compression of his
lips, that showed how difficult it was for him to refrain from a
regular explosion.

"If I understand you rightly," began Crawford, slowly and sedately
addressing his principal, "you do not press for an apology on account
of any slight to yourself in this matter, whether intentional or not on
the part of Mr Brail?"

"Certainly not--by no manner of means--I have a great regard for him,
and I am convinced he intended none.  I perceived he had been pushed
off his balance, some how or other, and I can allow for it."

"Spoken like a reasonable being, and a right good fellow.  Then, as I
take it," continued the American lieutenant, "the whole quarrel depends
on this: Mr Brail has, _according to your belief, affronted Miss
Hudson_; he must therefore either apologize for what he said or did to
her, or turn out with you?"

"Do you know, Crawford," said our friend, rubbing his hands, "you are a
devilish clever fellow; you have hit it to a nicety, upon my honour."

"Well, now," quoth Crawford, turning to me, "will you, Mr Brail, to
save further bother, make this apology to Mr Listado?"

"No," said I, deliberately, and with a strong emphasis.

"That's right, Benjie," quoth Listado, fidgetting with delight, as if
the certainty of the quarrel was now put beyond all doubt.  "Didn't I
tell you that he would make no apology?  Now, mind you, don't interfere
with the breakfast hour to-morrow, Crawford, as I am invited to come
here."

Hudson could stand it no longer.--"I'll tell you what, my dear Listado,
I have my sister's, Miss Helen Hudson's, commands, that nothing more be
done in this matter; and farther, that so far from Mr Brail having
affronted her, he really paid her the most profound compliment that a
gentleman can pay to a lady."

"As how, so please you?" quoth Listado, with a most vinegar grin,
although deucedly puzzled at the same time; "a lady don't weep at a
compliment usually."

"In plain English, then, Laurence, Mr Brail had just, as you entered,
asked my sister to--_to marry him_."

Listado's face altered--his jaw fell--"_Marry him_!  I thought so; why,
this is worse and worse.  Now, I will pink him, by Jupiter!  Marry
_him_, indeed!  While Laurence Listado lives she shall be _compelled_
to do no such thing.  I am a man of some fortune, and, as you all know,
I am desperately in love with her myself; so fix time and place, and
damn the hour of breakfast now entirely.  I will shoot him--any
time--now--across that table.  Oh Brail! you incomparable hyp"----

"Hush! hush!" said Hudson, clapping his hand on Listado's mouth; "hush!
he has not only had the insolence to ask her to marry him--[here
Listado clenched his hand, bit his lip, and gave three or four
tremendous strides to the other end of the room]--not only has he asked
her to marry him, but--_but he has been accepted_!"

Poor Laurence faced right round.  "Say so again, and----Poo, Hudson,
you are jesting with me; but here comes Mrs Hudson.  Madam, has Mr
Brail had the audacity to ask your daughter in marriage?  And has she
had the egregious folly to accept him in preference to your servant,
and her humble admirer, Laurence Listado?"

Mrs Hudson looked at me, and then at her son, and then at me again--as
much as to say--"very indelicate conduct this, on _your part_, at any
rate"--at length, "Mr Brail, I am thunderstruck--how came my daughter
to have been made the subject of a brawl?--was this"----

"My dear mother," chimed in her son--"it is all a mistake--Brail is not
to blame, and no more is Listado--say, has Helen Hudson accepted Brail,
or has she not?"

"She certainly has accepted him--_on conditions_."

Listado's eyes, during this colloquy, were riveted on Mrs Hudson's
face.  When she uttered these words, he slowly turned them on me, and
while the tears hopped over his cheek, he advanced, and took my hand.

"Brail, I wish you joy--from my soul, I do--even although I--curse it,
never mind--but, man, could you not take Sophie Duquesné?--yet--even at
the eleventh hour, Benjamin?--it would mightily oblige me, do you know."

I smiled.

"Well, well, I have been a fool; and I have ill-used you, Brail, but I
am sorry for it--so, God bless you, my dear boy--you are a fortunate
fellow"--and thereupon, he ran out of the room, without saying good-by
to any one.

Next morning, I had a visit from him, before I got out of my bed.  He
came into my room with a most ludicrous, serio-comic expression of
countenance, and drawing a long sigh, sat down on a chair by my bedside
without uttering a word.

As I had not forgotten his strange conduct the day before, I thought I
would let him have his own way, and leave him to break ground first.
He sat still about a minute longer, and then clasping his hands
together, with his Barcelona most pathetically sticking out between his
fingers--he turned round, and looked at me with his great prominent
goggle eyes.

"Do I look as if I had been weeping, Benjamin--are my eyes bloodshot?"

"They are certainly inflamed," said I, rather shortly.

"Ah," said he, in a small, dolorous whine--"I knew it, Benjie--my heart
is as soft this morning as a waxy potato.  I was a great big fool last
evening, Brail, and I don't think I am much wiser to-day, and all for a
little, hook-nosed, dumpy woman.  Do you know, I took the affair so
deeply to heart, that I went home, and drank three bottles of claret
_solus_, and afterwards topped off with hot brandy grog?"--(a very
sufficing reason for your bloodshot eyes, thought I),--"and I believe I
will go hang myself."

"Poo, poo--hang cats and blind puppies, man," said I.  "Come, come,
now, Listado--you are not here to renew our quarrel, or rather _your_
quarrel, for I declare I have none with you--but why bring Miss Hudson
on the carpet again?  She did not deceive you, Listado--you know she
never gave you any encouragement."

"_She did not deceive me_, certainly; but did she not persave that I
admired her; _so why did she allow me to deceive myself_?"

I laughed outright--"Come, man, you are expecting too much at the hands
of a young lady, who of course is accustomed to admiration.  She was
not aware you entertained any very tender regard for her; why, it was
only three days ago at breakfast that you broke off in the middle of a
beautiful compliment to her eyebrow--the worst feature in her face, by
the way--to ask for a plate of broiled ham and eggs.  You may rest
assured, my dear Listado, that Miss Hudson never dreamed you were in
love with her--and, in sober earnest, are you so, now?--come, out with
it."

He looked at me, with the strangest twinkle of his eye, then slewing
his head from side to side, he twitched up one corner of his mouth, as
he said--"Will you, or will you not, take Sophie Duquesné,
Brail?--Lord, man, she is the finer woman of the two, and surely you
have known neither of the girls long enough to have any peculiar
preference."

The idea of my _swopping_ my betrothed wife, as one would do a horse,
merely, forsooth, to oblige him, was exceedingly entertaining.

"Really, Listado, you are a most curious animal--I have told you
No--and I reiterate, No."

"Well then, Brail, may the devil fly away with you and your dearie
both, for, since you must know, I was not in love after all--I am sure
I was not, although I confess being at one time very near it--so all
happiness to you, my darling.  Do you know, Benjie, that I have been
quizzing you all this while?"

I did not know it, nor did I believe it, but, by way of letting him
down gently, I said nothing; and that very day, I took an affectionate
leave of my excellent old friend Sir Oliver, who was that day to drop
down under the Moro, preparatory to sailing; of my worthy cousin Dick
Lanyard, Mr Sprawl, and the other Gazelles and Midges, who had been
kind to me; and next morning I secured my passage in a Kingston trader,
that was to sail for Jamaica that day week.



CHAPTER V.

THE MOSQUITO.

The short interval between the period when I resolved upon this step,
and of putting it into execution, was passed in a state of mind little
enviable--in a strange mixture of pleasure and pain, of joy and grief.
At one moment both Helen and myself were buoyed up with the most joyous
anticipations; at another a weight hung on our hearts, that we could
not ourselves account for.  With us, however, the chances of happiness
seemed to preponderate; but it was far otherwise with poor De Walden
and Sophie Duquesné, who, children as they both were, had also tumbled
head over heels in love, before they were aware of it.

For several days the young midshipman had been kept on board attending
to his duty; it was the last evening but one that I was to spend at
Havanna, when, against Mrs Hudson's wish, and, I need not say, most
diametrically opposed to Helen's and mine, old Mr Duquesné had invited
some friends in the evening; and, having dined at the usual hour, the
girls were having their hair dressed in the boudoir already described,
while we, the male part of the family, were enjoying our wine in the
room that had been my bedroom.

"Now, Mr Duquesné," said I, "I really am quite ashamed at the trouble I
must have put you all to lately; why" (looking round me) "I seem to
have actually dispossessed you of your dining saloon for some time.  I
was not aware of this before."

"Poo, it does not signify none at all, my dear sare--de happiness and
obligation were all mine.  I cannot wish you were wound again--oh
_certainement_, I could not do dat sing; _mais_ I happy would be, you
should sprain your foot, elbow, or head, or any leetle fingare--so as
you were to stay here some time less--more I mean--_assurément_ you
cannot maintain your resolution to leave us yesterday?--put off your
depart until last week."

"Impossible, my very kind friend; I have too long trespassed on your
kindness--kindness which I am sure I shall never be able to
repay."--Here we were interrupted by De Walden entering the room.--"Ah,
Henry, how are you?"

Our excellent host and Mrs Hudson both rose to receive him.  He looked
very pale, and had a nervous unsettledness about him, that contrasted
unpleasantly with the recollection of his usual quiet and naturally
graceful manner.

After returning their civility, he drew his chair to the table, and I
noticed he helped himself very hastily to a large bumper of Madeira,
part of which was spilt from the trembling of his hand, as he carried
the glass to his lips.  "Gentlemen," at this juncture said Helen, from
the other room, "had you not better come closer to the balcony here,
and give us the benefit of your conversation, now since Master De
Walden graces your board?"  Here Sophie, who was under the hands of our
old friend Pepe Biada, slapped Helen, as if there had been some
bantering going on between them, having reference to the young fellow.

"Certainly," said William Hudson; "but come, Brail, would it not be an
improvement on Helen's plan, were we to adjourn to the other room
altogether--this one"--continued he, looking towards Mr Duquesné--"will
be wanted soon--indeed, Nariz de Niéve and Manuel have once or twice
popped in their beautiful countenances at the door as hints for us to
move."

We all with one accord rose at this--the two elderly gentlemen
adjourned to the counting-house, while young Hudson, De Walden, and
your humble servant, repaired to the sanctum of the young ladies.  When
we entered we found Mrs Hudson sitting, already dressed for company, at
one side of the piano, where Helen was practising some new air, with
(oh, shocking to an English eye) her hair _en papillote_, while the
beautiful long jet black tresses of her charming companion were still
under the hands of the little monkified barber, my old ally, Pepe Biada.

"Mr Brail," said Mrs Hudson, "I thought you did not patronise this
foreign free-and-easy fashion that has crept in amongst us--Helen,
there, said she was sure you would not come."

I laughed--"Why, Helen is wrong for once, you see, my dear madam; but
if I had any objection, any slight scruple, you must allow I have very
easily surmounted it at any rate; and as for De Walden there, he seems
to have none at all."

He turned as I spoke, and both he and Sophie, who had been communing
together in an under tone, started and blushed, as if somewhat
_caught_, to use a vulgar but expressive phrase, and I saw a tear stand
in the dark beauty's eye.  But De Walden seemed by this time to have
got his feelings under control, although, from the altered manner of
poor Sophie, it was not to be concealed from me, that some
communication had just been made to her by him, that lay heavy on her
young heart.

It now became necessary that we should retire to dress; and by the time
I returned, the company had begun to assemble; but De Walden was
nowhere to be seen--he had returned to his ship, it appeared; and
although poor Sophie did the honours during the early part of the
evening with her usual elegance, yet her customary sprightliness was
altogether gone, and it was evident how much it cost her to control her
feelings.  About midnight, however--worn out, heart-crushed, and
dejected, she could no longer sustain this assumed unconcern, and
retired on the plea of a headach.  But the rest of us, hard-hearted
animals as we were, having got into the spirit of the thing, at the
expense of some mental exertion, and not a little champagne, contrived
to forget poor Sophie and De Walden for a time, and so carried on until
daydawn.

"What is that?" said I to William Hudson.

"A gun from Gazelle, on weighing, I guess," said he.

"Ah," I rejoined--"I did not know she was to sail before Sunday."

"It stood for Sunday, I believe--at least so De Walden told me, until
yesterday afternoon, when all the merchantmen having reported ready for
sea, the commodore determined to be off."

"The sound of that cannon," said Helen Hudson to me, with an agitated
voice, as we sat together, "will be like a knell to one we know of,
Benjamin."

A short time after this the party broke up, and we retired to rest.
With me it was short and troubled, and I awoke little refreshed about
noon--the hour we had previously arranged for breakfast.

I was to sail the following morning, and Mrs Hudson, with matronly
kindness and consideration, left her daughter and me very much alone
and together that forenoon and evening.  After I had made my little
preparations for embarking, laid in my sea-stock, and arranged for my
passage in the British brig the Ballahoo, I returned in the evening
just as the night was closing in.  I found Helen sitting alone in the
boudoir, and I could not but perceive that she had been weeping.

"How now, dearest," said I, as gaily as the weight at my own heart
would let me--"How now, Helen--why so sad--you know we have all along
been aware that we must part, but I trust only temporarily.  Come, now,
you have had your wish gratified, by Sir Oliver leaving Dicky Phantom
with you, until his friends in England have been consulted--and take
care, Helen--I shall grow jealous of the small rogue, if you don't
mind.  So, come now, Helen, don't be foolish--We shall soon have a
happy meeting, if it pleases heaven, and"----

"I hope so--I trust so, Benjamin--but in such a climate who can promise
themselves a happy or a certain meeting?  Have we not ourselves met
friends in the morning, who never saw the sun rise again?  Oh,
Benjamin, my heart is fond and foolish."

"Well, well, Helen, but cheer up, my sweet girl--our prospects are fair
compared to poor De Walden's."

"True, and so they are--poor Sophie, too--but there has been no
declaration on his part"--as if willing to lead the conversation from
our own sorrows.--"He is the most open-hearted lad, Benjamin, I ever
met.  Early in the forenoon, yesterday, he told Sophie, that except Sir
Oliver Oakplank, he had not one friend in the wide world who cared a
straw about him; what claim he had on him he did not say--that he had
nothing to look to, but getting on in the service through his own
exertions; and more than once he has already told my mother, that if
there had been the smallest chance of joining his frigate in Jamaica,
he would instantly have left Havanna, had he even worked his passage.
He said he feared it was neither prudent nor honourable his remaining
here.  Poor, poor Henry."

"Did he say any thing of his early life?" said I, my curiosity getting
the better of my propriety of feeling.

"Not much.  He had been, from his own account, the Child of Misfortune.
The current of his life, from the earliest period he could recollect,
had been dark and troubled.  Few gleams of sunshine had ever brightened
the stream; and when they did dance for a moment on a passing joyous
ripple that crisped its surface, it was but to give place to heavy
clouds, under whose lowering shadow it again assumed its usual leaden
hue--And, oh, Benjamin, how is it to be with ourselves?  You have also,
from your own account, suffered much, from loss of fortune, and of near
and dear friends.  May not our own acquaintance prove one of those
evanescent gleams in _our_ lives?  If--if"--and she clasped her arms
round my neck--"if our meeting should prove but a sparkle on the wave,
Benjamin, after all, that twinkles for a moment before it floats down
the dark stream of our existence to be no more seen--Oh, my love, if we
are never to meet again"----And she wept until her heart was like to
burst.

"Hope for the best, my dearest Helen; hope for the best.  I will soon
return, Helen--I will, believe me--so be composed--we must not give way
to our feelings--we have a duty to perform to ourselves, our friends,
and each other; nay, more, to that all-gracious Being who has blessed
us by bringing us together, and who has smiled on our prospects thus
far--and here comes your mother, let us ask her blessing for--for"----

I broke off, for I durst not say out my say; but in furtherance of my
determination, after parting with my friends for the night, and
stealing a kiss from little Dicky as he slept like a rose bud steeped
in dew; with the assistance of William Hudson, I got my small kit away
without suspicion, and repaired on board the Ballahoo.

When I got on the deck of the brig it was quite dark, and every thing
was in great confusion, preparatory to getting under weigh in the
morning.  The crew--blacks, browns, and whites, Englishmen and
Spaniards--were gabbling aloft and shouting below, as some were bending
sails, and others hoisting them up to the yards; while others were
tumbling about bales of tobacco on deck, and lowering them down the
hatchway, where a number of hired negroes were stowing the same away in
the hold.  Her cargo consisted of logwood, hides, and tobacco, the
blending of the effluvia from the two latter being any thing but
ambrosial.

When I went below I found at least a dozen Spanish passengers busily
employed in stowing away their luggage in the cabin.  I could not help
being greatly struck with the careless way in which they chucked their
bags of doubloons about, as if they had been small sacks of barley; and
the recklessness they displayed in exposing such heaps of glittering
pieces of apparently _untold gold_, to the eyes of the crew and myself,
for I was an utter stranger to all of them.  "Were I to exhibit a
handful of bank-notes in England in this way!" thought I.  The
confidence these traders appeared to place in their negro servants,
absolutely astonished me, so much greater was it than I ever could have
dreamed of; but the strangest part of the affair was yet to come.  The
English captain of the brig, after having ordered the boats to be
hoisted in, had just come down; and seeing me seated on the locker,
leaning with my back against the rudder-case, and silently observing,
with folded arms, the tumultuous conduct of the Dons, addressed me--

"A new scene to you, Mr Brail, I presume?"

"It is so, certainly.  Are our friends there not afraid that those
black fellows who are bustling about may take a fancy to some of these
rouleaux of doubloons, that they are packing away into their
portmanteaus, and trunks there?"

"No, no," rejoined he, smiling; "most of these poor fellows are
household slaves, who have been, very probably, born and bred up in
their families; not a few may even be their foster brothers, and all of
that class are perfectly trustworthy; in truth, sir, as an Englishman,
I am sorry to say it, but they treat their domestic negroes infinitely
better than we do.  As to the field slaves, I cannot judge, but I can
speak as to the fact of the others from long experience.  A Spanish
family look on negroes of this class as part and portion of the
household; in fact, they are not bondsmen at all, except in name; for
they are better cared for than servants, be they white or black, in any
other countries I know.  Indeed, now that I reflect, you must have
noticed, they don't even suffer the humiliation of being called
'slave,'--'criado,' the common name given them by their masters,
signifying literally servant.  The harsher, 'esclavo,' being seldom,
indeed never, applied to them, unless when they have been guilty of
some default."

"Heavens!" I here exclaimed, "what, are they all going to bed, with
your supper untouched on the table?--see if they be not undressing!"

He laughed.  "You shall soon know the reason of their stripping, sir,"
said he.  "It is contraband to carry off either gold or silver coin
here; and you shall presently see an instance of Spanish ingenuity in
defrauding their revenue laws on the one hand, and of the trust they
place in their coloured servants on the other; of their _own_
dishonesty, and the implicit confidence they place in the integrity of
_others_, and those others negro slaves."

The operation of _peeling_ was all this while going on amongst the
gingham-coated gentry, who, when naked to their trowsers, presented a
most absurd appearance, each of them having sewed round his waist and
loins, next his skin, from four to six double bands of coarse linen or
canvass, like so many eel-skins, each filled with broad gold pieces,
packed on their edges, and overlapping each other, until they were
fairly pistol proof, in scale armour of gold.

After loud shouts of laughter at the manner in which they had _done_
the _piés de gallo_, or custom-house officers, they stowed away the
specie and donned their clothes again, when lo! the black "criados," to
my great astonishment, began to strip in turn.  Presently Blackie was
exhibited in the same state of nudity as his master had recently been;
and the gold pieces were in like manner peeled off _him_.

These transactions taking place in a confined well-cabin, lit by a
small skylight, with the thermometer standing at ninety-five, had no
very great purifying effect on the atmosphere--the blended steam of
human carcasses and tallow candles being any thing but savoury.

The captain having very civilly given up his own berth to me; after
having satisfied my curiosity, I retired to steal such rest as I might
expect to snatch, in so uncomfortable a fellowship; and was about
toppling over into a sound snooze, when my Spanish allies, inspired by
libations of bad brandy, with which they had washed down their mess of
garlic and jerked beef, chose to chant in chorus, most vociferously,
the popular peninsular song of the day, "A la guerra, a la guerra
Españoles."  This was absurd enough from a set of shopkeepers and
smugglers; but being deucedly tired, I soon grew accustomed to their
noise, which seemed to have no end, and fell fast asleep.

In the morning, the bustle overhead awoke me; and having got up and
dressed, I went on deck, where I was glad to find that the confusion of
the previous night had very much subsided.

The vessel in which I had embarked was a long low French-built brig,
with very high solid bulwarks, pierced for sixteen guns, but having
only six twelve-pound carronades mounted.

I was informed by the captain that she was a very fast sailer, which I
found to be true; indeed her share of the trade between Kingston and
Havanna very much depended on this qualification.

Her hull was beautifully moulded; a superfine run, beautiful bows, and
sides as round as an apple.  By the time I got on deck, the topsails
and topgallant sails were sheeted home and hoisted; the cable being
right up and down.  After several quick clattering revolutions of the
windlass, "We are a-weigh," sung out the skipper, and presently all was
bustle on board, securing the anchor, during which the vessel began to
glide slowly along towards the harbour's mouth, and under the enormous
batteries that line it on either side.

When we got to sea, the breeze failed us; and, as the sun rose, we lay
roasting on the smooth swell, floating bodily away on the gulf-stream
to the northward.

We were baffled in this way for three tedious days, until I began to
think we should never lose sight of the Florida shore.  At length a
breeze from the eastward sprang up, that enabled us to stem the
gulf-stream.

In the night of the fourth day, after leaving Havanna, I had come on
deck.  It was again nearly calm, and the sails were beginning to flap
against the masts.  There was no moon, but the stars shone brightly.
Several large fish were playing about, and I was watching one of them,
whose long sparkling wake pointed out his position, when the master of
the brig, who had followed me, and now stood beside me at the gangway,
remarked, that there was an uncommon appearance in the northwest
quarter.

I looked, and fancied I saw a glare, as from a fire on shore, but so
faint that I could not be certain.  I therefore resumed my walk on
deck, along with the captain.  The dew now began to fall in showers at
every shake of the wet sails.

"Why, we shall get soaked here, skipper, if the breeze don't freshen?"

"Indeed, sir, I wish it would, with all my heart.  I have no fancy for
knocking about in this neighbourhood one minute longer than I can help,
I assure you.  There are some hookers cruising in the channel here,
that might prove unpleasant acquaintances if they overhauled us.  I
say, steward, hand me up my night-glass--the glare on our starboard
bow, down to leeward there, increases, sir."

I looked, and saw he was right.  Some clouds had risen in that
direction over the land, which reflected the light of a large fire
beneath in bright red masses.

"Are you sure that fire is on the land?" said I, after having taken a
look at it through the nightglass.

"No.  I am not," said he; "on the contrary, I have my suspicions it is
at sea; however, we shall soon ascertain, for here comes the breeze at
last."

We bowled along for an hour, when it again fell nearly calm; but we had
approached so close as to be able distinctly to make out that the light
we had seen did in very truth proceed from a vessel on fire.  It was
now near three o'clock in the morning, and I proposed to the skipper to
keep away towards the fire, in order to lend any assistance in our
power to the crew of the burning vessel, if need were.

"No, no, sir--no fear of the crew, if the vessel has taken fire
accidentally, because they are well in with the land, and they could
even, with this light air, run her ashore on the Florida reefs, or take
to their boats; but I fear the unfortunate craft has been set fire to
by one of those marauding villains I alluded to.  However, be that as
it may, I will stand on our course until daylight at any rate, when we
shall be able to see about us.  In the mean time, keep a bright
look-out forward there--do you hear?"

"Ay, ay, sir."

I was too much interested by this incident to think of going below; so
I remained on deck, as did the master, until the day dawned.

As the approach of sunrise drew near, the bright yellow flame faded
into a glowing red.  Gradually the crimson colour of the clouds
overhead faded, and vanished.  The morning lightened, the fire
disappeared altogether, and we could only make out a dense column of
smoke rising up slowly into the calm grey morning sky.  The object on
fire was now about four miles on the starboard beam, as near as we
could judge.

"Now," said I, "there is the breeze steady at last," as it came down
strong, with a hoarse rushing noise, heard long before it reached us,
and roughening the blue water to windward, just as the sun rose.  It
was preceded by the pride of the morning, a smart shower, which pelted
on our decks, and the next moment our light sails aloft filled--the
topsail sheets then felt the strain of the canvass under the freshening
blast.  The brig lay over--the green wave curled outwards, roaring from
the cutwater--the strength of the breeze struck her--and away she flew
like a seabird before it.

"There it is--strong and steady to be sure," cried the captain, rubbing
his hands joyously; "and with such a capful of wind I don't fear any
thing here smaller than a frigate; so haul out the boom mainsail, and
set the square one--run up the flying jib--come, Mr Brail, we shall
keep her away, and see what is going on yonder, _now_ since we have the
old barky under command."

We rapidly approached the burning vessel, which was still becalmed, and
lying motionless on the silver swell, veiled from our sight by the
pillar of cloud that brooded over it, which continued to ascend
straight up into the clear heaven, the top of it spreading and
feathering out like the drooping leaves of some noble palm; but the
moment that the breeze which we brought along with us struck the
column, it blew off like the tree I have likened it to, levelled before
the blast, and streamed away down to leeward in a long whirling trail,
disclosing to our view the black hull and lower masts of a large
vessel, with the bright red flames gushing out from her hatchways, and
flickering up the masts and spars.

As the veil of smoke thinned, we suddenly got a glimpse of a felucca,
hitherto concealed by it, and to leeward of the vessel.  When we first
saw her she was edging away from the wreck, with a boat towing astern,
rather an unusual thing at sea.  Presently, she hoisted it up, and kept
by the wind after us, as if she had taken time to reconnoitre, and had
at length made up her mind to overhaul us.  As the wreck was by this
time burned to the water's edge, it was clear we could render no
assistance; we therefore made all the sail we could, and stood once
more on our course.  Just as we had hauled by the wind, the after-part
of the quarterdeck of the burning vessel lifted, as it were, but by no
means suddenly; although the stump of the mizen-mast flew up into the
sky like a javelin launched from the hands of a giant; and clouds of
white smoke burst from the hull, in the midst of which a sudden spout
of red flame shot up; but there was scarcely any report, at least what
sound we heard was more a deadened _thud_ than a sharp explosion.  The
unfortunate hooker immediately fell over on her side, and vanished
suddenly below the green waves, in a cloud of white steam.

"There's a gallant craft come to an untimely end," said the captain.

"You may say that," I rejoined; "and that roguish-looking little fellow
to leeward has had some hand in her destruction, or I am mistaken--see
if the villain has not hauled his wind, and made all the sail he can
pack on her after us.  Had you not better keep by the wind, Mr Hause,
and try if you can't shake him off on a bowline."

The hint was taken.  We made all sail on the larboard tack, steadying
the leeches well out, and although the felucca did the same, it was
clear we were dropping her fast.

"Give me the glass," said I.  "I had strong suspicions that I knew that
chap before--let me see--ay, it is her, true enough.  I know the new
cloth in the afterleech of the mainsail there--there, about half-way
up--but heyday--that sail was as good as new, notwithstanding, when I
last saw it, but it seems strangely patched now--this must be meant as
a mask."

"Pray, sir," said the skipper, "do you know that vessel?"

"To be sure I do--it is the Midge--my old friend the Midge, as I am a
sinner, and no other--She that was tender to the Gazelle the other
day--the little felucca sold out of the service at Havanna before we
sailed.  I cannot be deceived; but she must be strangely out of trim."

All the Spanish passengers were by this time on deck, peering out
through their telescopes at the little vessel.

"What can keep her astern in that manner?" continued I; "she seems
under all sail, yet you are leaving her hand-over-hand, and that is
more than you should do, fast as you say you are, were she properly
handled."

"Why," said the master joyously, "you don't know the qualifications of
this craft, sir"----

"Probably not," said I.

"We are creeping away beautifully," continued he.  "I always knew the
Ballahoo had a clever pair of heels, if there was any wind at all--poo,
the Midge at her best could not have touched us, take my word for it,
Mr Brail--keep her full and by, my lad"--to the man at the helm--"let
her walk through it--do you hear?--we shall show that felucca that she
has no chance with us."

I handed the glass to the skipper again.

"Don't you see something towing astern yonder, as she falls off, and
comes up to the wind again?"

"Faith I do," said he, in a hurried and somewhat disconcerted tone; a
sudden light seeming to flash on him; "I see a long dark object in her
wake, as she rises on the swell--what can it be?"

"What say you to its being the spanker-boom, or a spare topmast of the
vessel we saw on fire, for instance?" said I; "at all events, you see
it is a spar of some sort or another, and it can only be there for one
purpose, to keep her astern, while she desires to appear to be carrying
all sail, and going a-head as fast as she can; it is a common trick
amongst these piratical craft, I know."

The man, with a melancholy shake of his head, coincided with me.

"Now," said I, "listen to me.  I know that felucca well," and here I
told him how, and what time I had been on board of her--"if she casts
off that drag, she will be alongside of you in a crack.  In light winds
and a smooth sea, she is the fastest thing I ever saw; you have no
chance if you trust to your heels; so, take my advice, and shorten sail
boldly at once; get all your passengers on deck with their trabucos;
clear away your guns and double-shot them, and see all ready for
action.  If you appear prepared she will not bother you--it is not her
cue to fight, unless she cannot help it--at any rate, if you don't
frighten her off, I see she will stick by you all day, and be alongside
whether _you will or no_ when the night falls; so the sooner you give
him a glimpse of your charms the better, take my word for it."

My advice was so palpably prudent, that it was instantly followed.

"Valga me Dios!" exclaimed one of our Spanish passengers--"que gente
hay abordo--gracias a Dios, que este felucha no puede andar; porque
hombre honesto no lo es."--(Heaven help me, what a number of people
there are on board--we should be thankful that that felucca can't sail,
as she is not honest, that's clear.)

Another shouted out--"Tanto gente--tanto gente!"  (Lord what a number
of people--what a number of people!)

"People!" exclaimed the skipper, laughing, as he slammed the joints of
the glass into each other; "why, it is a deck-load of cattle, or I am a
Dutchman.  Oh dear--oh dear--why, gentlemen, your courage has all been
thrown away--she is some Montego bay trader with a cargo of dyewood,
and 'ganado,' as you call them--ha--ha--ha!"

"And so it is," said I, much amused, and not a little rejoiced.  "Come,
gentlemen, your warlike demonstrations have indeed been thrown away,
and I suppose our friend the skipper there may secure his guns when he
likes, and keep away on his course again."

This was done, and every thing subsided into its usual quietness,
except the jaw of the Dons as to the astonishing feats _they never
would have performed_; for they were all silent enough, and Bob Acreish
enough, so long as we had suspicions of the felucca; but every man
among them was braver than another the moment they saw that their fears
had been groundless.  They now all began singing, and shouting, and
swaggering about the decks, bristling with pistols and knives, like so
many porcupines, while I was taking a careless, and, what I considered,
a parting squint at the vessel.  When I put my head over the high
bulwark, I naturally looked out astern, as we had by this time kept
away, and were going along free, in expectation of seeing him still
close by the wind; but, to my great surprise, no such thing--the youth
although no nearer than before, in place of being by this time in our
wake, had kept away also, and was now on our lee-quarter, sailing two
knots for one he had been going before, and as if desirous of cutting
us off.  "I say, skipper, I don't like this manoeuvring on the part of
the felucca--she is off the wind again."

"And so she is," said the man.

The Spaniards gathered from our countenances, I suppose, that doubts
had again sprung up in our minds as to the character of the vessel,
notwithstanding the improbability of a pirate carrying a deck-load of
cattle;--so they stopped their exclamations in mid-volley, breaking off
their patriotic songs with laughable quickness, and began to bustle
with their glasses again.

My original suggestion was once more the order of the day, and after
seeing all clear for the second time, the skipper manfully handed his
top-gallant sails, hauled up his courses, and took a reef in his
topsails.  The felucca had now no alternative but to come alongside; so
she gradually drew up on our lee-quarter, so that, as the breeze laid
her over, we might see as little of her deck as possible.  We could now
perceive that she had cast off the spar she had been towing astern.
Ticklish as our situation had become, my nautical enthusiasm fairly got
the better of me, as the little beauty ranged alongside.

"Look, captain--look, man--how blandly she bends before the breeze, as
if she would melt into the water like a snowflake, yet she never
careens over an inch beyond that mark on her goldbright copper; and how
gracefully she always rights again.  See what an entry she has--not the
smallest surge, or curl of a wave at her bows.  Her sharp stem cuts
into it as clean as a knife, while there is not one single drop of dead
water under the counter.  Mortal man never saw a cleaner run--how
mildly she skims along, and yet how fast--the very gushes from the
rudder _swirl_ and meander away astern mellifluously.--Oh, murder, if
the sweet little thing does not slide along as smoothly as if the sea
were oil!"

When she came within hail, she hauled the foresheet to windward, and
sent a small punt of a boat, pulled by two men, on board, with a
curious sallow-complexioned little monkey of a Spaniard in the stern.
He came on deck, grimacing like an ape; and although I could perceive
that he was carefully noting our strength and preparations with the
corner of his eye, he seemed all blandness and civility.

"What vessel is that?" said the captain.

"The Mosquito," was the answer.

Here the little fellow looked very hard at me.

"Ah!" said the skipper, "she is the English tender that was sold the
other day in Havanna."

"The same," said the baboon, evidently put out by the recognition, but
not venturing to deny the fact; "she was called de Midge den, dat is
Anglis for Mosquito."

"Come, there is honesty in that confession at all events," thought I;
but I presently was convinced that the fellow knew me, and, what was
more, saw that I had recognised his vessel--so his game, if he wished
to throw snuff in our eyes, was clearly to take credit for candour.
However, I was as yet by no means satisfied of his quality.  For
instance, he gave a blundering account of the reason why they had
clapped patches of old canvass on a new sail; and he positively denied
having had a spar towing astern to deaden her way--thus telling a
deliberate lie.  As to the vessel we had seen on fire, he said they
knew nothing of her; that they had fallen in with her accidentally as
we had done; and that, so far as they knew, her crew had previously
taken to their boats, for there was no one on board of her, when they
passed her, that they could perceive.  He finished the parley by saying
that he was bound to Falmouth, to dispose of his cargo of Nicaragua
wood and cattle, and that he had come on board for some water, as they
had run short, and had little left, except some pond water for the
bestias.

He got a small cask filled, and then, with a repetition of his
grimaces, walked over the side.  Immediately on his getting on board,
the felucca hauled by the wind until she got dead in our wake, where
she hung for some time; but I could see they had the greatest
difficulty in keeping her astern, by luffing up in the wind one
moment--then letting her fall broad off, and sheering her about every
way but the right one.  At length he took his departure.

"Had you not cut such a formidable appearance, Mr Hause, you would have
been treated very unceremoniously by that gentleman, take my word for
it," said I.

"You may say that, sir," said the skipper; "but I hope we are now
finally quit of him."

That same evening, about ten o'clock, I was sitting in the cabin with
the master of the vessel.  The cabin had two state-rooms, as they are
called in merchantmen, opening off it, one on each side of the door,
and four open berths aft, shut in with green baize curtains, that ran
on brass rods.  Each of the beds was tenanted by a Spanish passenger,
while the master and I slept in cots slung in the main cabin.  The
Dons, tired with the exploits of the day, had by this time all bestowed
themselves in their nests, and, so far as we could judge by the nasal
chorus going on, were sound asleep.  On a sudden we heard the mate, who
appeared to be standing aft beside the man at the wheel, hail some one
forward.

"Who is that standing on the rail at the gang-way there?"

Some one answered, but we could not make out what was said.

The mate again spoke--"whereabouts do you see it?"

"There, sir--right to windward there."

We then heard a bustle in the companion, as if some one was groping for
the glass; and in a minute the mate came down to the cabin with it in
his hand.

"There is a strange sail to windward of us, sir."

"What does she look like?" said the skipper; "not that infernal felucca
again?"

"No, sir," said the man.  "I think she is a large schooner; but it is
so thick and dark, that I cannot be certain."

"I'll bet a thousand," said I, "that old Dogvane was right after all;
and that this infernal little Midge, that has been buzzing round us all
day, will have enacted the jackal to the lion, and brought this big
fellow upon us."

We rose and went on deck, and saw the object to windward clearly
enough.  She appeared to be dodging us; and when we kept away, or
luffed up in the wind, she instantly manoeuvred in the same fashion, so
soon as she perceived we were altering our position from her.

"Come, _that_ fellow is watching us, at any rate," said the captain,
"whatever the felucca may have done.  I wish we were fairly round Cape
Antonio.  I fear there is some concert between the two.  Mr Crosjack,"
to his mate, "keep a bright look-out--keep your eye on him, until I
take a look at the chart below: he seems determined to jam us on the
Florida shore.  Surely the current is stronger than I have allowed for,
or we should have made more of it by this time than we have done."

Curiosity led me to accompany the skipper below, and we were both
poring over the chart, when the mate called down--

"The schooner has bore up for us, sir, and is coming down like an arrow
on our weather-quarter."

"The devil she is!" said the skipper, dashing down his compasses and
parallel ruler with such vehemence, that the former were driven through
the chart, and stuck quivering in the table on one-leg, like an
opera-dancer; then slamming on his hat, he jumped up the ladder.

This startled the Dons.  The curtains in front of the side-berths were
drawn aside with a jarring rasp of the brass rings along the rods, and
four half-naked Spaniards, with their-nightcaps on, and their gold or
silver crucifixes, like glow-worms in moss (Lord! what a fantastical
image), glancing on their hairy chests in the candle-light, sat up;
while the inmates of the two state-rooms stretched their necks to look
into the cabin.

"Que--que--buque a barlovento?"--(What is it?--what--a vessel to
windward?)

"Yes," said I; "there is a strange sail after us, and dodging us rather
suspiciously."

"Sospechoso! sospechoso!--buque sospechoso!--Ave Maria!"--and forthwith
the whole lot of warriors jumped out of bed; and great was the
confusion that arose while busy decorating themselves.  One poor
fellow, half asleep, turned his trowsers the wrong way, as if he were
going to sail stern foremost, like a Dutch schuyet.  Another stuck a
leg into his own galligaskins right enough; while his neighbour, half
asleep, had appropriated the other branch of the subject, whereby they
both lost their balance, and fell down in this Irish manacle on their
noses on the cabin floor; "carrajoing," and spurring each other in
great wrath.

The alarm in the brig had now become general, and half-a-dozen more of
our passengers came tumbling down the companion-ladder, having left
their quarters in the steerage, as if their chance of safety had been
greater in the cabin; and such a jumble of shouting, and cursing, and
praying, I never heard before; some of them calling to the steward to
open the hatch in the cabin floor, in order to stow away their treasure
in the run, others bustling with their trabucos; some fixing flints,
others ramming down the bullets before the cartridges, when--crack--one
of their pieces went off in the confusion, and filled the cabin with
smoke, through which I could see several of my allies prostrate on the
floor; having fallen down in a panic of fear.

Finding that the danger from one's friends below was, if not greater
than what threatened on deck, yet sufficiently startling, I left them
to shoot each other at their leisure.  By this time there was neither
moon nor stars to be seen, and the haze that hung on the water,
although there was a fine breeze, and we were going along about seven
knots, made every thing so indistinct, that it was some time before I
could catch the object again.  At length I saw her; but as she was stem
on, edging down on us, I could not make out more than that she was a
large fore-and-aft rigged vessel, decidedly not the Midge.  When she
had crept up within hail, she brailed up her foresail, and, under her
mainsail and jib, appeared to have no difficulty in maintaining her
position on our weather-quarter, although we had set every inch of
canvas that would draw.  There was no light on board, and it was too
dark to distinguish any one on her decks.  Our master was evidently
puzzled what to do; at length, seizing the trumpet, he hailed the
strange sail.

"What schooner is that?"

"The Julia of Baltimore," was the prompt answer.

"Where are you bound for?"

"Vera Cruz."

A long pause, during which she was gradually edging nearer and nearer.
"Don't come any closer, or I will fire into you," sung out our skipper;
and then, to me, "He'll be on board of us, sir, if we do not mind."

"No, no," was the laconic reply, as our persecutor luffed up in the
wind; but he soon kept away again until he was right astern, and there
he stuck, to our great discomfort, the whole blessed night, yawing
about in our wake as if just to keep out of hail.  We passed, as may
well be imagined, a very anxious night of it; at length day dawned, and
we could see about us, but as if to baulk us, as the light increased,
the schooner shortened sail still more, and steered more steadily, so
that we were prevented from seeing what was going on upon deck; at
length, at eight o'clock A.M., he set his foresail, and in ten minutes
was again in his old position to windward of us.  We were all at
quarters once more; even the Dons, finding that there was no
alternative, had determined to fight, and as he gradually edged down, I
asked the skipper what he thought of it.  "I really don't know; I see
no one on deck but the man steering, and that fellow sitting on the lee
bulwark there, with his arm round the backstay, apparently watching us."

"She does not seem to have any guns," said I.  By this time the
schooner, a long low vessel, painted black, with a white streak, had
crept up so close on our weather quarter, that by keeping away a couple
of points, he could in half a minute have run his jib-boom over our
tafferel.

"If you don't haul off," sung out the captain, "I will fire into you."
At this, there was a rush of men from below up the schooner's
hatchways, and her decks were in a trice covered with them.  The next
moment she kept by the wind, as if determined to bring us dead to
leeward.  There was now no doubt of her real character, so the captain
seized the helm, and luffed up across his bows so suddenly, that I
thought he had carried away his jib-boom, but he was as quick as we
were, and by keeping away, cleared us, just shaving our stern; but not
before he got our broadside of cannon and musketry plump into his bows.
So great was his confusion, that he lost his opportunity of raking us
in passing to leeward.  As the brig came to the wind, the schooner shot
a-head, when, by a dexterous management of the yards, the former was
backed astern.  "Give him the other broadside, and blaze away, you
Spanish villains," shouted the Skipper; he thus got t'other dose right
into his stern, and we could see his reception had been far more
surprising than pleasant, for our fire was only returned by an
ill-directed volley of musketry, that injured no one.  The few English
sailors we had on board continued to ply the carronades, as he again
drew a-head, and the Dons their trabucos, the latter always cowering
below the brig's bulwarks while loading, then popping up their heads
and letting drive, sometimes at the enemy, at other times into the air,
as if they had been shooting sea-gulls.  At length, one of them was hit
by a chance shot from the schooner, which was the signal for the whole
lot to run below.  Our friend having shot a-head out of gun-shot by
this time, now hauled by the wind, and once more shortened sail;
presently, as if he had gathered fresh courage, he came down
again,--this time, from his preparations, with an evident intention of
boarding us: and since the evaporation of our Spanish allies, there is
not the least doubt but he would have carried us, when, "a sail right
a-head," sung out by one of the crew at this most critical juncture,
revived our spirits again.  As if the schooner had seen her at the same
moment, she instantly sheered off, hauled her wind, and made all sail
on a bowline.

We continued on our course, under every stitch we could crowd, and in
half an hour had the pleasure to see the vessel which was standing
towards us hoist a British ensign and pennant--presently she hailed us,
when we found she was the Spider schooner, belonging to the Jamaica
station, who, on being made acquainted with the nature of the attack,
and the character of the vessel on our weather beam, immediately made
all sail in chase, but, unfortunately, she had no chance; and in the
afternoon we had the discomfort of seeing her bear up and come down to
us, the other vessel being out of sight dead to windward.



CHAPTER VI.

SPIRITING AWAY--WHERE IS THE BALLAHOO?

The lieutenant commanding the Spider came on board, and finding we were
bound for Kingston, strongly recommended our not attempting it alone,
as he said privateers were swarming between it and the west end of
Jamaica; but, on hearing that, although, the Ballahoo was bound for
Kingston, my destination was the north side of the island, he politely
said, that, although bound for Havanna, he would himself see us into
Montego bay, where the brig might remain until the coast was clear, or
she could get convoy.  This was too good an offer to be rejected, and
we accordingly hauled our wind, and made all sail in company.

We, the master, his mate, and myself, were sitting at dinner in the
cabin on that same afternoon, the Spanish gentry preferring to eat
their garlic and "bacallao" and oil on the deck.

"I was glad to see your servant out of his hammock and on deck again
to-day.  He is a smart chap that, and managed the small-arm party
exceedingly well.  He seems quite at home with the musket, I assure
you, sir."

I laid down my knife and fork at this speech of the captain.

"My servant--_my_ servant, did you say?"

"Yes, sir;--did you not notice how well he behaved on the forecastle,
when the schooner was drawing a-head of us?"

I had noticed a black fellow, in an old red jacket, very active
certainly during the brush, and especially the coolness and expertness
with which he had fired; but I little dreamed who it was.

"Pray," said I to the skipper, "do me the favour to desire the man to
come aft here."

Straightway, who, of all the fish in the sea, should appear before my
wondering eyes, but our old friend Serjeant Quacco!  There was a pause,
my dingy adherent keeping his vantage ground at the cabin-door, as if
unwilling to trust himself within arm's length, until he knew how the
land lay, and endeavouring to look very modest and sheepish; but his
assumed bashfulness was but a flimsy cloak to his native impudence.

"Quacco," said I, in anger;--but before I could get a word out----

"_Serjeant_ Quacco, if massa will be so good as remember."

"You impudent rascal," continued I, "how dare you smuggle yourself on
board as my servant, and without my knowledge, after having told me
that you had entered on board Gazelle?"

"Massa, do hab a leetle patient, and massa shall know every ting.--You
see, massa, I was mind, as massa say, to sarve on board de
Commodo--massa say de trute in dat--but dat was de time when I was tink
de brigand knife had top massa him promotion."

"Cool, and deliciously modest," thought I, as Quacco continued, in
nowise put out,

"But when I yeerie dat massa not only was like to cover" (recover, I
surmised, was meant), "but dat he was nephew to one big somebody, wid
plenty money, and, beside all dat, he was to go to Jamaica--oh dat
alter Quacco taught altogeder, becaase he knowed he could be much use
to massa in Jamaica, from, him knowledge of de world dere."--("Indeed!"
thought I, "how very disinterested!")--"Beside," seeing I twigged, "to
tell de hanest trute,--one ting wery _pleasant_ for do when him
_profitable at de same time_,--I taught it more better to take my
chance wid you as my master, den face de _sartainty_ of hard work,
leetle sleep, and much flag, in de frigate--so I take de small liberty
of ship myself in de Ballahoo lang wid good massa--dat all, massa."

"So--and pray where have you been skulking since we sailed, may I ask?"

"To be sure," said he, with the most provoking calmness,--"to be sure."

"To be sure of what, sir?" said I, fairly savage at last.

"To be sure massa may hax where I have been since we sailed," roared
Quacco, withdrawing up the ladder from the door as I rose--"Devil I
don't I say, if massa will only sit down again, dat I will tell him,
and satisfy him on all particular."

He uttered this with his head leant back, so as to be the only part of
him visible, while his hands clutched the ropes of the
companion-ladder, his feet being on the second step of it, in act to
bolt on deck if I had moved after him.  I sat down, seeing there was no
use in putting myself into a passion with the poor fellow.

"Well, do tell me then, you free-and-easy scoundrel you."

Here the serjeant again advanced into the cabin, where he made a
variety of grimaces; and after rubbing his great blubber lips hard with
the back of his hand, he proceeded:--

"You see, sir--it was no fault of I--some how, when I turn in, I hab
one larsh case-bottle of rum wid me, and I could not finis him in
lesser time den tree day,--so dat was de reason massa did not see me
more sooner; but de moment I hear enemy was dere--dat fighting was for
do--ha, ha!--Quacco sober in one moment, and I jomp up, and lef de
bottle one tird full, and fight!--Massa surely see how I was fight!"

"Ay,--and, with Mr Brail's permission, you shall have a free passage
for your gallantry, Quacco," said the skipper.

"Tank you, massa captain," quoth Quacco, joyously.--"Now, Massa Brail,
you must forgive de leetle liberty I was take--believe me, you hab got
one gooder sarvant more as you taught,"--and so I did indeed find
afterwards.

Six days after this, the man-of-war schooner, having seen us safe to
the end of our voyage, left us for her destination, and we ran into
Montego bay as the night fell, and came to anchor.

Right above us, on the larboard hand, perched on a bold rock, stood a
large and very handsome house, a very conspicuous object from the
offing, and commanding the entrance to the bay, as it were, which, by
half-past eight, when I was going on shore to the tavern, where I
intended to sojourn for the night, began to be brilliantly lit up; I
could hear preparatory strains of music, and other tokens of revelry,
as if a ball or some other piece of gaiety were toward.

There is something striking in being suddenly withdrawn from prowling
on the "melancholy main," and plunged into the vortex of civilized
life.  The very jabber of the negroes startled me more than I had
allowed for, as I landed on the wharf, an old rickety wooden fabric,
and accosted a tall man in white trowsers and jacket, who was walking
up and down upon it, to enquire where the best tavern or lodging-house
was situated.  He very civilly not only gave me the desired
information, but accompanied me as pilot; so that I soon found myself
in the dark piazza of a large building, which had any thing but the
look of a place of public resort.  An open balcony ran along the front
next the street, to which you ascended by five or six steps, with a
common unpainted wooden rail, to prevent your toppling over into the
thoroughfare.  Beyond this there was a gloomy dungeon of an interior
chamber, apparently wainscoted with some sort of dark-coloured
hardwood, and lighted by one solitary unsnuffed tallow candle,
glimmering on a long mahogany table covered with slops, and wet marks,
as if glasses had recently been removed, the whole redolent of the
strong smell of tobacco smoke and brandy punch.  There appeared to be
bedrooms opening off the hall at each end.

"Hillo!--house!" shouted I, as no one appeared when I entered;--"house!"

A tall decently-dressed brown woman--lady, beg her pardon--at this
presented herself at the farther door of the large room fronting the
one at which I stood--

"Hose!--hose!--what you want wid de hose?"

"I am a traveller," said I, "just landed, and want some supper and a
bed."

"Supper and a bed," said the old lady,--"sartainly, you shall have dem.
But--beg pardon, sir--I hear no noise of horse or sarvant, so I was
tink you might have been _walking buccra_,[1] and I never allow dem
sort of peoples to put dere nose into my hose.  But here I see sailor
carrying in your luggage," as the master of the brig, whom I had
invited to sup with me, came up the front steps of the piazza, followed
by one of his crew, and Serjeant Quacco, carrying my traps.


[1] A most opprobrious appellation in Jamaica, as nothing, in the eyes
of the coloured and black population, seems so degrading to a white man
as the being compelled to travel on foot.


We were now treated with abundant civility, and soon were enjoying
ourselves over an excellent repast.

"Pray, Mrs--I forget your name."

"Sally Frenche, an please, massa."

"Sally Frenche!" said I;--"ho, ho, I am in soundings here,
mayhap--Pray, do you know old Mr Lathom Frenche, my good lady--a rich
old chap, who lives somewhere hereabout, at a place called Ballywindle?"

My simple enquiry appeared to have an electrical effect, and at the
same time to have given some unaccountable and serious offence;--for my
talkative hostess, a deuced buxom-looking dingy dame, of some forty
years or so, now drew herself up, and crossed her arms, looking as prim
as mustard at me, as she slowly grumbled out--

"Do--me--Sally Frenche--know--one--reesh--old--chap--dem call--Massa
Latom Frenche--who--live--at one place somewhere hereabout--dat dem
call Ballywindle?"

"Yes," said I, a good deal surprised at the tone and manner in which
she drawled out her words--"I mean no offence--I ask you a plain
question--Do you know Mr Lathom Frenche of Ballywindle?  I am a near
relation of his, and desirous of engaging horses, or some kind of
conveyance, to proceed to his house in the morning."

She here came round to the side of the table where I sat, shoving the
black servant who had been waiting on us away so forcibly, that he spun
into the corner of the room, with an exclamation of--"Heigh, misses,
wurra dat for?"--and shading her eyes from the glare of the candles
with her hand, she fell to perusing my face in a way that was any thing
but pleasant.

"Ha, ha--Sally Frenche know something--I see--I see--you must be de
_nyung buccra_, Massa Latom is look out for so hanxious--so tell me, is
you really and truly Massa Benjamin Brail, old Massa nephew?"

"I am certainly that gentleman, old lady."

"_Hold_ ladee, indeed--Ah, Jacka--but never mind.  You is my family,
and so you is--but don't call me _hold_ lady, if you please, again,
_nyung massa_.  Let me see--you hab him mout, and him nose, and de wery
cack of him yeye.  Oh dear, you is Massa Benjamin, for true you is de
leetle boy dat de old man look out for so long--here, Teemoty, Peeta,
Daroty--here is your cosin, Massa Benjamin--Oh, massa neger, I am so
happy"--and she began to roll about the room, sprawling with her feet,
and walloping her arms about, seizing hold of a chair here, and a table
there, as if the excess of her joy, and the uproariousness of her
laughter, had driven her beside herself.

At her call two tall, young mulatto fellows, with necks like cranes,
and bushy heads like the long brooms used to clean staircases, without
stockings or neckcloths, dressed in white duck trowsers, and blue
coatees, and a very pretty, well-dressed brown girl, of about eighteen,
presented themselves at the door of the room.

"Pray, who are those?" said I, during a lull of the matron's paroxysm.

"Who dem is? why your own cosin--your own flesh and blood--your oncle,
God bless him--him children dem is, all--ay, every one on dem."

"And who is their mamma?" said I--"Not you, ma'am?"

"Me--oh dear, de poor boy don't know noting about him own
relation--No--I is Sally Frenche, daughter of old Terrence Frenche,
your oncle dat was die five year ago--he who leave all his money to his
broder, Mr Latom Frenche.  I is his only daughter, and your cosin, and
kind fader he was to me."

"Well, kinswoman, I am glad to see you; but are these really my
cousins? and again I ask, who is their mamma?"

"Ha, ha, ha--you really know noting, none at all.  Dere mamma, as you
call _him_, is dead lang time; but come here--come here--dem is
Teemoty--hold up your head, you poppy dag--and Peeta, all two Massa
Latom sons--bote your own cosin, I no tell you?"

"And that pretty young lady--who is she?"

"Ha, ha, ha--Oh dear, oh dear!--why, him is Miss Daroty, dere sister."

"And a devilish pretty girl she is, let me tell you.  Why, Dorothy,
give me a kiss, my fair cousin."  And as I gave her a hearty smack, she
dropped me a low curtsy.

"Tank you, cosin Benjamin."

Our friend the skipper was all this time taking his cargo on board with
great industry, only stealing a passing squint at us now and then; and
I was beginning to think it was high time to put in my oar also, lest I
should go without my meal, when a great bustle was heard in the
street--first a trampling as of a squadron of dragoons, then the
rattling and grinding of carriage wheels through the sandy roads, and a
loud gabbling of negroes.  Presently some one whistled loud and shrill
on his fingers, and a voice called out--

"Why, Sally Frenche--Sally--where the devil are you, and all your
people, Sally?"

"Massa Jacob Twig, sure as can be," cried Sally, and again the
hysterical laugh seemed to carry her beyond herself.  "All my friend
come on me at one time.  What shall me Sally do?--Teemoty, tell
Parot-toe for kill de kidd, and de two capon, and de wile dock, dem
[_anglice_, wild-duck], and--and--and--oh, tell him for kill every ting
him can lay him ogly paw upon."

"Den," quoth Timothy with a grin, "I shall keep out of de way, misses."

"Sally"--shouted the same impatient voice from the street again.

"Coming, Massa Jacob--Oh, dear!--ha, ha, ha!"--and as some one now
entered the dark piazza, she ran out, and stumbled against him; and
knocking his hat off, in her flourishing, she fairly clasped her arms
round the person's neck for support during her violent and
extraordinary cachinnations.  "Oh, Massa Jacob, sweet Massa Jacob, I so
glad to see you."

"Why, old lady, you appear so, certainly; but come, come, you must be
bewitched," said the stranger, shaking her off.  "Do gather your wits
about you, and desire your people to see my horses cared for; and get
us some supper, _do you hear_?"--the words in Italics pronounced with a
strange emphasis, and a very peculiar accent, as if they had been
twisted out angrily from between the compressed lips.

Here the speaker caught my eye: he bowed.

"Good evening, sir.  I hope I am not disturbing you, gentlemen."

"Not in the least," said I.  "We are strangers just landed from the
brig that came in this evening; and as our hostess and I here happen,
to my great surprise, to be relations, her joy has shoved her a little
off her balance, as you see?"

"Balance!" said the person addressed, with a good-natured smile--"Sally
Frenche was never very famous for keeping her balance."

"Oh, Massa Jacob," said the placable Sally, "how can you say so?"

"But you are her relation you say, sir," continued the stranger; and
here he turned round as if recollecting himself, and stuck his head
through the window that looked into the piazza.  Addressing some one
who was tumbling portmanteaus and luggage about there--"I say, Felix,
he can't be a brown chap, eh?--he don't look like it."

"Poo, poo! what if he be?" said the person spoken to--"What if he
be?--order supper, man--curse this portmanteau! the straps are as stiff
as iron hoops, and have broken my nails.  You villain, Twister, why
don't you come and help me, that I may get out my clothes?"

"Here, massa," said a blackie from the street, and the gentleman who
had spoken now entered.

Sally had asked leave for the new comers to join our party, and as this
might be according to rule in Jamaica, we consented of course, and they
were presently seated at the same board.

The shortest of the two was a stout, sun-burned man, about thirty, with
a round face, but a fine white forehead, and beautiful clustering brown
hair.  He was dressed in very short nankeen trowsers, very much faded,
silk stockings, and shoes--rather an out-of-the-way rig for a traveller
through dirty roads, as it struck me; and wore a long French-cut blue
military frock or pelisse, garnished with a perfect plague of frogs.

This was largely open at the breast, displaying a magnificent
whitish-blue cambric frill, while a neckcloth, with a strong dash of
the same indigo shade, was twisted round his bull neck as gracefully as
a collar round a mastiff's; while, above it, the peaks of his shirt
stood up in such pomp of starch and stiffness, that I could not help
considering his ears in some peril.  When he entered, he had replaced
the small, narrow-brimmed, glazed hat, that had been knocked off by
Sally in her paroxysm; the oily appearance of which, in such a climate,
was enough to make one perspire, and rolled in, quite at home
apparently, with a hand stuck into each side-pocket.  Altogether he
looked like a broiled man; but when he sat down at table, I was
refreshed by noticing that his hands were beautifully white; and,
according to Lord Byron's maxim, I took this as a kind of voucher, for
want of a better, that the nondescript was a gentleman.  His companion
was a tall, thin, dark, young fellow, apparently about twenty-five or
twenty-six years of age, with short, curly, fair hair, dressed in white
jean pantaloons, with long Hessian boots drawn up over them to his
knees, white waistcoat and neckcloth, and a blue coat.  There was
nothing peculiar about his appearance.  We all carried on for some time
in silence.  At length the shortest of my new acquaintances asked me to
drink wine with him.

"Your good health, sir.  Here's to our better acquaintance."

"Massa Jacob," quoth Mammy Sally, who was superintending the attendance
of her servants, with a knowing look, "you know who you drink wine wid?"

Mr Twig looked round at her with an expression efface as if he neither
knew nor cared.

"Ha, I see--you tink you know every ting, Massa Jacob, but--but--oh
dear, oh dear--you no know--you no know?--why it is Massa Benjamin
himself--Massa Benjamin Brail, dat old Massa Latom so long for see."

Massa Jacob at this rose, with his table napkin in his hand, and first
looking steadfastly at me, munching all the time, and then regarding
the old lady, with his mouth full, he stretched his hand across the
table to me.

"If you be Mr Brail, I am particularly rejoiced to see you.  Your
uncle, young gentleman, is my most especial friend; and there is not a
worthier man breathing.  I knew you were expected; and as I am bound,
with Mr Felix Flamingo there, on a visit to Mr Frenche--Mr Flamingo, Mr
Brail--Mr Brail, Mr Flamingo, of the extensive Kingston firm of
Peaweep, Snipe, and Flamingo--ahem--as I was saying, we are bound on a
visit to this very identical uncle of yours.  So nothing could have
been more opportune than our meeting."

"Flamingo,--Peaweep, and Flamingo?" said I to myself; "My uncle Peter's
agents, by all that is fortunate!  Come, this will do.  But whom have I
the honour of addressing?" said I, turning to the red-faced man, not a
little startled at such sudden cordiality on the part of a stranger.

"My name is Jacob Twig, of the Dream, in the parish of St Thomas in the
East, at your service; and for your excellent uncle's sake, it will
give me great pleasure to be of use to you.  But, Felix, my darling, we
must go and dress for the ball at Mrs Roseapple's; we shall be late, I
fear."

The tall youngster, to whose intimacy I had so unexpectedly procured a
passport, during all the time occupied by Mr Twig in expatiating, had
been looking as grave as a judge, and making the best use of his time.
Both now rose, and retired as it were to dress.  Just as they had left
the room, and the master of the Ballahoo and I had filled a glass of
wine together, Mr Twig returned.

"I say, Mr Brail, I have just been thinking you had better come with
us--Mr Roseapple will be glad to see you, I know."

"Why, I have not the honour of knowing your friend, Mr Roseapple," said
I.  "Besides, this gentleman is the captain of the brig that I came
from Havanna in, and I invited him to supper with me; so"----

"The more the merrier, man--the more the merrier--why, _we shall take
him too_."

All this appeared to me very odd, and too free-and-easy by a great
deal; but the sailor had by this time drank more Madeira than he was
accustomed to, and as he, to my great surprise, made no objection to
the proposal, only stating that he had no clothes fit to appear with in
a ball-room, I thought I might as well swim with the current also.

Jacob eyed him.

"Why, do you know, you are a deuced good-looking fellow."

Jack rose, and made a most awkward obeisance.

"Oh, 'pon my honour," quoth Twig, with the utmost gravity--"so _my_
clothes will suit you to a nicety--ahem!  Cato, tell Romulus to desire
Cobbler to fetch in my portmanteau instantly.  So come along, _my dear
fellow_, and let us rig you."  (What next, thought I--this to a man he
never saw before!)  And away the Jolly tar sculled between Mr Twig and
his friend Flamingo.

I had never before been guilty of such a heterodox proceeding, as going
unasked to a ball given by a lady I had never seen or even heard of;
and although the wine I had drank had by this created no small
innovation in my brain, still I had discretion enough left to induce me
to go up to Mr Twig's room door, where I again remonstrated with him on
the impropriety of such an intrusion on my part.

"Poo, nonsense, my dear fellow.  Just say you are old Frenche's nephew,
and the whole company will hug you as an old acquaintance, man--not a
Creole miss but will set her cap at you--take Jacob Twig's word for
it--why, you will find that your fame has outstripped you the instant
your name is mentioned, for your uncle makes no secret of his intention
to make you his heir--so come along, man.  Go dress--that's a good
fellow."

I did so, and we were presently all in the hall of the tavern again,
where friend Quacco was waiting with my cloak and hat, ready for a
start.

"Thank you, Quacco; I hope you have made yourself comfortable?"

Quacco grinned.  "Very, sir; find myself great man here.  My story
please people--better country dis dan de coast of Africa."

"Glad you find it so; but where, in heaven's name, got you that rig?
you don't mean to follow me to Mr Roseapple's in such a dress?"

"Certainly I do, with massa's permission."  And he snuffed the air as
if his _amour propre_ had been somewhat wounded by my disapproval of
the mode in which it had pleased him to make his toilet.

"But you will be laughed at, and get me into some ridiculous scrape."

"No, no, massa; never fear Quacco's discretion--never fear.  I have
much practice in Havanna, in wait on gentlemen at table.  Ah, you sall
see, massa--but one ting I sall pretend, dat I is one Spanish negro;
dis will give de interest to me, you know."  (_Interest!_ thought I,
like to laugh in his face.)  "So tell de captain dere, not to peach
upon Quacco--say I am one Spanish sarvant you got from de governor
Señor Cien Fuegos."

I laughed heartily at this instance of barbarous puppyism, and at the
figure he cut when I had leisure to look at him.  First, he had
powdered his black woolly cocoa-nut shaped skull with flour, until it
was perfectly white, the little crispy curls making it look like a
large cauliflower, or a round furze bush with a drift of snow well
grained into it.  To the short, well-greased wool, he had attached a
long slender queue abaft, like a yard of pig-tail tobacco, that hung
straight down his back, over an old faded Spanish-cut sky-blue silk
coat, thickly studded with large sparkling cut-steel buttons, all too
short at the wrists, and too long at the skirts; so that while the
monkey-looking paws were largely uncovered, the latter reached half-way
down his leg; a faded white satin embroidered waistcoat, the flaps
coming down over his hips; black silk small clothes, and a pair of
large old-fashioned shoes, very high in the instep--these, with a pair
of great lackered buckles, completed his dress.  As an ultra ornament,
he sported a very flashy pink watch-ribbon, with a great bunch of brass
keys and seals, but to what substitute for a horologe these gaudy
ornaments were attached, the deponent sayeth not.  As for his cucumber
shanks, they were naked, and unless one had been particular in the
inspection, so as to perceive the little tufts of black wool that
covered them, like a miniken forest of fir-trees, you could not have
made out whether he had silk stockings on or not.  To perfect his
equipment and give him the true _finish_, he had acquired a little
"_sombrero de ires picas_," or old fashioned cocked hat, an
amber-headed cane, and when you add one gold ear-ring and another of
silver, an enormous silver brooch, with a stone in it, more like a
petrified oyster than any thing else, in the breast of his gaudily
befrilled shirt, with a pair of green spectacles on his nose, over
which his low tatooed forehead fell back like a monkey's, you have our
friend Quacco before you, as well as I can paint him.

"Mercy on me," said Mr Felix Flamingo, "_what is this!_--who have we
here?"

"My servant," said I, unable to restrain my laughter, "strangely
transmogrified certainly."

By this time Mr Twig joined us, having retired with the skipper of the
merchantman, whom he had dressed out in a suit of his own clothes; and
as he was really a very handsome man, he looked uncommonly well,
allowing for his nautical roll and salt water flavour, in his borrowed
plumes.

"Now," said Flamingo, "we must be jogging.  So, Quacco, lead the way."

"Stop," said Jacob; "no hurry, Felix, it an't long past ten yet, so let
us crack a bottle of Sally's champagne, it _launches_ one so nobly into
a ball-room; it is the _grease_ on the ways, my lads, if I may venture
on so vulgar a simile.  So, Sally--Sally, a bottle of champagne."

The wine was brought, and was really extremely good,--so unexpectedly
good, that somehow we had number two, just to see whether the first had
been a fair sample of the batch or no.  At length, we again addressed
ourselves for the start.

But the master of the brig, who was modest to bashfulness in his cool
moments, had become a changed creature from the innovation wrought in
his brain by the unusual potation.

"Gentlemen, had it been strong grog, I would have carried sail with
most of you; but really I must--I must--in short, Mrs Sally, I must top
off with some hot brandy and water before weighing."

The hot stuff was brought, and we finally started for Mr Roseapple's in
earnest; Quacco in advance, carrying a small stable lantern, held aloft
on the end of his cane; then Mr Felix Flamingo and I abreast, followed
by Mr Twig and the skipper.

The cool night air was an astonishing assistant to the grog, as I could
perceive, from the enunciation of the sailor in my wake becoming
rapidly thicker and more indistinct as we advanced.

The street we passed through was quite still, the inhabitants,
according to the custom of the country, having already retired to rest;
but several gigs, and carriages of various descriptions, gritted past
us, through the deep sand of the unpaved thoroughfares, apparently
returning from setting down company.

As we were toiling up the hill, crowned with the gay domicile, which
was sparkling with lights, and resounding with music, and merry voices,
and laughter, we could, through the open blinds, see dark figures
flitting and moving rapidly about between us and the lamps.

"Felix," quoth Mr Twig--"how vastly gay--stop, let us reconnoitre a
bit"--and we, all hove to in the middle of the ascent, when, without
any warning, down came a plump of rain like a waterspout, the effect of
which was instantly to set us a scampering as fast as our legs could
carry us, preceded by Serjeant Quacco with the lantern, who hopped and
jumped about from stone to stone, like an _ignis fatuus_; nor did we
stop in our red-hot haste until we had all bolted up the steps, and
into the piazza, where the dancing was going on, to the dismay and
great discomfiture of the performers; indeed, so great was the impetus
with which we charged that we fairly broke the line, and did not bring
up until we had reached the inner hall or saloon, where several couples
were drinking coffee, and taking other refreshments, at a side-board or
long table, behind which stood several male and female
domestics--blacks and browns--ladling out punch, and negus, and fruits,
and handing sandwiches and coffee, and all manner of Creole luxuries.

We were immediately introduced to mine host and his lady, both
remarkably pleasant people, who, with true West India cordiality, made
all manner of allowance for the suddenness of our _entrée_, and the
unexpectedness of our visit altogether.  So here we were brought up all
standing, as suddenly as if we had dropped from the moon.

There had been a pause in the dancing, created by our furious onset, as
well there might, and now a general titter, gradually swelling into an
universal laugh, ran round, and the dance broke up into a general
promenade of the whole company; during which, taking Mr Flamingo's
offered arm, I had not only time to recover my equanimity, but an
opportunity of looking about me and making my observations.

The house was a very large airy pavilion, erected on a small limestone
bluff, that overhung the sea at the easternmost point of the bay.
According to the Jamaica fashion, it consisted of a brick shell two
stories high, subdivided into the various apartments, public and
private, composing the domicile.  The first floor, comprising a very
handsome dining-room, and a most elegant suite of lofty drawing-rooms,
beautifully papered, and magnificently furnished, was raised on a stone
pediment about eight feet high (containing cellars and other offices);
and above this, I presume, the bed-rooms of the family were situated.

The whole of the surbazes and wooden work about the windows and doors
were of well-polished and solid mahogany, of the most costly
description.  These rooms were all fitted with glass sashes, that
opened into the piazzas--long galleries, about fourteen feet wide, that
enclosed the whole house; with white pillars and green blinds, fitted
between them like those of a tanwork, but smaller, which, when open,
with the feather edges of the blades towards you, as you looked at the
fabric from a distance, gave it the appearance of a Brobdingnag
bird-cage; and indeed, so far as the complexion of the majority of the
male figurantes on the present occasion went, it might be said to be
well filled with canaries.

The roof was composed of what are called _shingles_ in the United
States--pieces of cypress splinters, about eighteen inches long by four
broad, and half an inch thick, which are nailed on, overlapping like
slates; indeed, when weatherstained, at a distance you cannot
distinguish the difference, excepting as in the present case, when they
are covered with brown paint to preserve them.

From this peculiarity in the covering of the roof of a West Indian
house, it often happens, when the rains set in suddenly after a long
drought, that the water finds its way down, in consequence of the
warping of the wood, in rather uncomfortable quantities; insomuch, that
when you go to bed, the rooms in the houses in the country being often
unceiled, an umbrella may be as necessary as a nightcap.  However,
after the _seasons_, as they are called, have continued a few days, the
cypress or cedar swells, and a very indifferent roof becomes perfectly
water tight.

To return.  No sooner did the shower abate, than a whole crowd of
negroes, male and female, once more clustered round the door, and
scrambled up on the trees round the house, to get a peep at the company
through the open windows and blinds.

"Do you admire our West India fruits, Mr Brail?" quoth Twig, cocking
his eye at the blackies aloft.

I was exceedingly struck by the profuse and tasteful display of flowers
and green branches with which the rooms were decorated; many of the
latter loaded with the most luxuriant bunches and clusters of
fruits--oranges, star-apples, citrons, and a whole array of others,
which as yet were nameless luxuries to me.

There was a golden pine-apple on a silver salver, on a side-table,
eighteen inches high, by nine in diameter, that absolutely saturated
the whole air of the room with perfume.

The novelty and elegant effect of the carpetless, but highly polished,
mahogany floors, which at the sides of the room, where not dimmed by
the feet of the dancers, reflected every thing so mirror-like, was very
striking, although at first I was in terror at the shortness of the
ladies' petticoats, and the reflection of the brilliant chandeliers.
The dresses of the fair dames, although they might have been a little
behind the London fashions of the day, were quite up to what those were
when I left home, except in the instances of several natural
curiosities from the inland and mountain settlements, who were
distinguished by their rather antediluvian equipment and sleepy Creole
drawl; but as a counterpoise to both, they had the glow of the rose of
Lancaster in their cheeks.

As for the other fair creatures resident in the hot plains in the
neighbourhood of the sea, and in the still hotter towns of the island,
they were to a man (_woman_--oh, for Kilkenny!) so deadly pale, that
when one contemplated their full, but beautiful and exquisitely managed
figures, you were struck with amazement at the incongruity, if I may so
speak, of their sickly complexions, and sylphlike and most agile
forms.--"So these faded lilies are really in good health after all."
Between the fair mountaineers and lowlanders, since I have spoken of
the _roses_, it might indeed be said, that there still existed the
emulation of the two houses of York and Lancaster.  As to figure, they
were both exquisite--Lancaster, however, more full of health, more
European looking in complexion, and a good deal more hoydenish in
manner--York more languid and sentimental, to appearance at least.

But the men--"Oh, massa neger!" to borrow from Quashie--what a sallow
cadaverous crew! with the exception of an officer or two from the
neighbouring garrison, and one or two young chaps lately imported--what
rigs!--such curious cut coats--some with the waists indicated by two
little twin buttons between the shoulders, and scarcely any collar,
with the long tapering skirts flapping against the calves of their
legs, in shape like the feathers in the tail of a bird of
Paradise--others with the aforesaid landmarks, or waist-buttons, of the
size and appearance of crown-pieces, covered with verdegris, and
situated over against the hip-joints, and half a yard asunder, while
the capes stood up stiff and high, and the square-cut skirts that
depended beneath (perfect antitheses to the former) were so very short
and concise, that they ended as abruptly as a hungry judge's summing
up.  However, no fault could be found with the average manners of the
whole party, whatever might have been objected to their equipment.

I soon noticed that the effects of our soaking were giving great
entertainment to the company, for the heat of the apartments forced
clouds of vapour from our wet coats, as we kept cruising about like so
many smoking haycocks carried away by a flood.  We could have been
traced from room to room by the clouds we sent up, and the oily steam
of the wool.

About the time supper was announced, which was tastefully laid out in
the piazza, and just before the guzzle began, I was drawn towards the
inner hall, along with my fair partner, by a general titter, as if
something amusing had been going on.  Just as we approached, however,
the door connecting the two apartments was shut, in consequence of some
preparation for supper, so that the hall where the company were now
collected was rather awkwardly entered by a side-door from a sort of
second drawingroom communicating with the principal saloon--to the
left, and directly opposite to the side entrance, there was a large
mirror reaching to the floor.  The shutting of the door before
mentioned, had thus the effect of altering the geography of the
interior apartment very materially, to one who had been the whole
evening passing and repassing, straight as an arrow, through it from
the dancingroom to the piazza.

The change was especially unfortunate for poor Hause, the master of the
brig, who was by this time pretty well slewed; for, as he entered by
the side-door, with the recollection of another that should have been
right a-head facing him, and opening into the piazza, he made directly
for the large mirror that now fronted him, and beyond all question he
would have walked right through it, just as we entered, had it not been
guarded by brass rods, or fenders, having, according to the old jest,
mistaken it for the doorway.  After the fenders brought him up, still
he was not undeceived, but for a minute showed his breeding by dancing
from one side to another, and bowing and scraping in a vain attempt to
get past his own shadow.  At length he found out his mistake; but no
way abashed, his laugh was the loudest in the throng, exclaiming, "Why,
we must have the channel buoyed, Mr Brail.  I thought the landmarks had
been changed by witchcraft, and no wonder, seeing we are surrounded by
enchantresses;" and here he made the most laughable wallop imaginable,
intended for a bow, but more like the gambol of a porpoise.  "However,
Miss ----, you see there are moorings laid down for us there in the
piazza, so let us bear up and run for them through the other channel,
before those lubberly fellows haul them on board;" and so saying, he
hove ahead, with a fair scion of the aforesaid House of Lancaster in
tow, until they came to where our friend Quacco was the busiest of the
busy, having literally bustled the other blackies out of all
countenance, and whom, as we entered, he was roundly abusing in Spanish
for lazy "_pendejos_" and "_picarons_," as if he had been the master of
the house, or major domo at the least--enforcing his commands with a
crack over the skull every now and then, from a silver ladle that he
carried in his hand as a symbol of authority.

At length the vagaries of our friend, as he waxed drunk, became too
noticeable, and the master of the house asked the gentleman who was
nearest him, whose servant he was, the party I could see indicated me,
and I was about apologizing, when some thing or other diverted the
attention of our landlord from the subject, and the black Serjeant
escaped farther notice.  I had before this observed a very handsome,
tall, well-made man in the party, whose face somehow or other I fancied
I had seen before, with an air peculiarly _distingué_, who, so far as I
could judge, was a stranger to most of the visitors.  He had been
introduced by the landlord to one or two of the ladies, and for some
time seemed to devote himself entirely to his partners, and certainly
he was making himself abundantly agreeable, to judge from appearances.
At length he took occasion to steal away from the side of the table he
was on, and crossed in rather a marked manner to the other, where poor
Hause, now three sheets in the wind, was sitting, doing the agreeable
as genteely as a Norwegian bear, or a walrus, and planting himself
beside him, he seemed to be endeavouring to draw him into conversation;
but the skipper was too devoted an admirer of the ladies to be bothered
with males, at that time at least, so the stranger appeared to fail in
his attempts to engage his attention.  However, he persisted, and as I
passed near them I could hear him ask, "if his sails were unbent, and
whether he was anchored by a chain or a hempen cable?"

"And pray," hiccuped Hause, whose heart wine had opened, "don't you
know I only got in last night, so how the deuce could I have unbent any
thing--and my chain cable is left to be repaired at Havanna, since you
must know; but do you think it's coming on to blow, friend, that you
seem so anxious to know about my ground tackle? or should I keep my
sails bent, to be ready to slip, eh?"

"In '_vino veritas_,'" thought I; "but why so communicative, Master
Hause?"  I could not hear the stranger's reply, but I noticed that he
rose at this, and dispersed among the congregating dancers in the other
room.

"Pray, Mr Jones," at this juncture, said our landlord to the gentleman
already mentioned, as sitting nearest him, "what is the gentleman's
name that Turner brought with him?"

"Wilson, I think, he called him," said the party addressed.  "He
arrived yesterday morning at Falmouth, in some vessel consigned to
Turner from the coast of Cuba, and I believe is bound to Kingston."

"He is a very handsome, well-bred fellow, whoever he may be, and I
should like to know more of him," rejoined our host.  "But, come,
gentlemen, the ladies are glancing over their shoulders; they seem to
think we are wasting time here, so what say you?"

This was the signal for all of us to rise, and here we had a second
edition of the comical blunders of poor Captain Hause.  On his return
from the supper-table to the drawingroom, he was waylaid by Flamingo,
and having a sort of muzzy recollection of his previous mistake, he set
himself with drunken gravity to take an observation, as he said, in
order to work his position on the chart more correctly this time.  But
the champagne he had swilled had increased his conglomeration twofold,
which Master Felix perceiving, he took an opportunity of treating him
to several spinning turns round the inner room, until he lost himself
and his latitude entirely.  He then let the bewildered sailor go, and
the first thing he did was _this time_ to mistake the _real_ door, now
open into the dancingroom, for the _mirror_; thus reversing his former
blunder; and although Twig, who was standing in the other room, good
naturedly beckoned him to advance, he stood rooted to the spot, as if
an invisible barrier prevented his ingress.  And when the young lady he
had been dancing with would have led him in, he drew back like a rabid
dog at water--"Avast, miss, avast--too old a cruiser to be taken in
twice that way--shan't walk through a looking-glass, even to oblige
you, miss--no, no--Bill Hause knows better.  Here--here--this
way--that's the door on your starboard beam--and the mirror--bless you,
that's the mirror right a-head," and so saying, he dragged the laughing
girl away from the door up to the glass once more.

"What a deuced handsome fellow that chap under bare poles is,
miss."--This was himself, dressed in Mr Twig's small clothes and black
silk stockings--"I should be sorry to trust _my_ lower spars out of
trowsers, however, I know."

There was no standing all this, especially as Flamingo followed him
close, and standing behind him, a little to one side--on his starboard
quarter as he himself would have said--made signs to him in the glass
to advance, on which the sailor made a tipsy bolt of it, and was a
second time brought up by the brass rods--nor was he convinced of his
mistake until he felt the cold surface of the plate glass with his
great paw.  Twig now kindly interfered and got the poor skipper away,
and bestowed on a sofa, and dancing recommenced with redoubled energy.
The fiddlers scraped with all their might, the man who played the
octave flute whistled like a curlew, and the tabor was fiercely beaten,
rumpti, tumpti, while the black ballet-master sung out sharp and shrill
his mongrel French directions, his _chassées_ and his _balancées_ to
massa dis, and misses dat, indicating the parties by name; who
thereupon pricked up their ears, and looking as grave as judges,
pointed their toes, and did, or attempted to do, as they were bid.
But, as I was overheated, I strolled into the piazza fronting the sea,
where the lights by this time had either burned out, or had been
removed--it was very dark.  I walked to the corner farthest from the
noise of the dancers, and peered through the open _jealousies_, or
blinds, on the scene below.

The moon was in the second quarter, and by this time within an hour of
her setting.  She cast a long trembling wake of faint greenish light on
the quiet harbour below, across which the land wind would occasionally
shoot in catspaws, dimming and darkening the shining surface (as if
from the winnowing of the wings of passing spirits of the air), until
they died away again, leaving their whereabouts indicated by streaks of
tiny ripples, sparkling like diamonds in the moonbeams.  Clear of the
bay, but in shore, the water continued as smooth as glass, although out
at sea there seemed to be a light air still, the last faint breathings
of the dying sea-breeze.  The heavy clouds that had emptied themselves
on our devoted heads in the early part of the night, had by this time
settled down in a black, wool-fringed bank in the west, the fleecy
margin of which the moon had gloriously lit up, and was fast
approaching.  The stars overhead, as the lovely planet verged towards
her setting, sparkled with more intense brightness in the deep blue
firmament; more profoundly dark and pure, one would have thought, from
the heavy squalls we had recently had.

There was only another person in the piazza beside myself, and he was
looking steadily out on the ocean.  He was about ten yards from me, and
in the obscurity I could not well distinguish his figure.

I looked also to seaward; a large vessel was standing in for the land,
her white sails, as she glided down towards us, drifting along the
calm, gently heaving swell of the smooth water, like a white wreath of
mist.  To leeward of her about a mile, and further in the offing, two
black specks were visible, which first neared each other, and then
receded; one standing out to sea, and the other in for the land, as if
they had been two small vessels beating up, and crossing and recrossing
on opposite tacks, between us and the moon.  If it had been war time, I
would have said they were manoeuvring to cut off the ship; but as it
was, I thought nothing of it.  Presently the vessel approaching, fired
a gun, and hoisted a light, which I presumed to be the signal for a
pilot, on which two boats shoved out towards her from under the land.
I watched them till they got alongside, when I heard a loud startled
shout, and then voices, as if in alarm, and the sound of a scuffle,
during which several musket or pistol shots went off--next minute all
was quiet again, but the yards and sails of the ship were immediately
braced round, as she hauled by the wind, and stood off the land.

"Curse the blockhead, why does he meddle with _her_?" said a voice near
me.

I started--it could only have been the solitary person I had formerly
noticed.  As I turned, one of the lozenges of blinds fell down, and
opened with a rattle that made me start, and disturbed him.

"What does the ship mean by manoeuvring in that incomprehensible way?"
said I.

"Really can't tell, sir," said the person addressed, evidently
surprised at my vicinity--"I suppose she has been disappointed in
getting a pilot, and intends to lie off and on till daylight."

"But what could the noise of scuffling be?  Didn't you hear it?" I
continued,--"and the pistol shots?"

"Pistol shots!  No.  I heard no pistol shots," quoth he, drily.

"The devil you didn't--then you must have been deaf," thought I; and as
he turned to rejoin the dancers, I made him out, the moment he came
into the light, to be the stranger indicated in the conversation
between the landlord and his guest at supper.

"Very odd all this," quoth I; and I should say, were he a suspicious
character, that it was very shallow in this chap to let such an
exclamation escape him; and I again looked earnestly at him.  "Ah!  I
see, he has been drinking wine, like our friend the skipper."

I joined our host, but still I could not avoid again asking him who the
deuce this same stranger was?

"I really cannot tell you, Mr Brail.  He is a very well-bred man--you
see _that_ yourself,--but there is something uncommon about him,
unquestionably.  All the women are dying to know who he is, he dances
so well."

"Ay, and talks so bewitchingly," quoth my lady-hostess--no less a
person,--as she passed close to us, hanging on the very individual's
arm.

"Heyday!  It's my turn now--so!  Confound the fellow, who _can_ he be?"
said my host, laughing.

"That strange gentleman _has such_ a beautiful tone of voice, uncle,"
said a little lady--his niece, I believe,--who during our colloquy had
taken hold of Mr Roseapple's hand.

"Indeed, Miss Tomboy!--Why, there again, Mr Brail.  Young and old, male
and female--he seems to have fascinated all of them.--But I really
cannot give you more information regarding him, than that my friend
Turner brought him up in his gig from Falmouth, and sent to ask leave
if he might bring him to the party.  It seems he came over two days ago
from the opposite coast of Cuba, in a felucca, with live stock and dye
woods,"--I started at this--"or something equally ungenteel, which he
consigned to Turner; and, having got the value of them in advance, he
is on his way to Kingston.  He says that the cargo was merely to pay
his expenses, and seemed desirous of insinuating, I thought, that
accident alone had been the cause of his being led to deal in such
vulgar articles as Spanish bullocks and Nicaragua wood."

"I verily believe him," said I.

"He does seem a high sort of fellow," continued Mr Roseapple, without
noticing my interruption.  "But here is Turner, let us ask him.--I say,
Turner, allow me to introduce Mr Brail to you."

We bowed to each other.

"We have been speaking about your friend."

"Well," said Turner, "I believe, Roseapple, you know about as much of
him as I do."

"Pray," said I, "may I ask what sort of craft this same felucca was?"

_The Falmouth gentleman described the Midge exactly_.

"Well," thought I, "the vessel _may_ be owned by an honest man after
all; at any rate, what does it signify to me whether she be or no?"
Nevertheless, I had an itching to know more about her somehow.

"Is the felucca still at Falmouth, sir, may I ask?" continued I.

"No; she sailed yesterday morning at daylight."

"That was something of the suddenest too," said I.

"We gave her every expedition, sir."

"I don't doubt it--I don't doubt it--Was there a schooner in company,
sir?"

"No; no schooner----But there is my partner waiting for me, so you'll
excuse me, Mr Brail."  So saying, away skipped Mr Turner, and I had no
other opportunity of asking him any more questions.

As I had nothing particular to engage me among the dancers, I again
strolled into the dark piazza.  Mr Roseapple followed me.

"Why, you seem strangely given to the darkness, Mr Brail; it cannot be
because your deeds are evil; won't you join the dancers?"

"I will presently, sir," said I laughing; "but really I have a great
curiosity to know what that ship is about out there.  Is there any
vessel expected from England, sir?"

"Oh, a great many.  The Tom Bowline from London has been becalmed in
the offing the whole day; I saw her from the piazza some time ago.  I
fear she will not get in until the sea-breeze sets down to morrow.
There," said he, pointing at the lessening vessel, "look! she has stood
out to sea yonder.  She intends giving the land a good berth until
daylight, I suppose."

"She does do that thing," thought I.--"Pray, Mr Roseapple, do you
happen to know whether she took a pilot during the daylight?"

"To be sure she did--she is consigned to me.  The pilot-canoe brought
my English letters ashore."

"Indeed!" said I; "then what boats could those be that boarded her a
little while ago?  Besides, I heard pistol shots, and a sound as of
struggling."

"Oh," quoth mine host, "the captain is a gay chap, and has a great many
friends here, who are generally on the look-out to board him in the
offing.  Besides, he is always burning lights, and blazing away."

"Very well," thought I, "it's all one to me."

I now noticed that the ship, having got into the sea-breeze, had bore
up again, and was running down towards the two small vessels to
leeward.  As she ran off the wind, and got between us and the moon, her
sails no longer reflected the light, but became dark and cloudlike;
when she reached them, they all stood out to sea, and gradually
disappeared in the misty distance like dusky specks.  Not wishing to
appear an alarmist, I made no farther remark.

As Mr Roseapple and I walked back into the room, the first thing that
struck us was the master of the Ballahoo sound asleep on a sofa, and Mr
Flamingo carefully strewing the great rough seaman with roses and
jessamine leaves.

"Love amongst the roses," quoth he, as he joined his partner.

"I see that same stranger, who has been puzzling us all, has succeeded
in making that poor fellow helplessly drunk," said Jacob Twig.

"Bad luck to him!" quoth I.

It appeared, that he had been much with him during the evening; and had
been overheard making many minute enquiries regarding the tonnage of
his vessel--the number of hands on board--and as to whether the
Spaniards and their money had been landed or not; but as both were
strangers, and the unknown had apparently a smattering of nautical
knowledge, it seemed natural enough that they should draw up together,
and no one seemed to think any thing of it.

It was now three o'clock in the morning, and high time to bid our
worthy host adieu; so, after I had again apologized for my intrusion,
Mr Twig, Flamingo, Captain Hause, and myself, withdrew, and took the
road homewards to our quarters in the town.

Mr Jacob was leading the way as steady as a judge, for he seemed quite
sober, so far as his locomotion was concerned; but Flamingo and I, who,
I grieve to say it, were not quite the thing ourselves, had the
greatest difficulty in lugging the skipper of the brig along with us;
for, on the principle that the blind should lead the blind, Twig had
coolly enough left him to our care, Bacchus had fairly conquered
Neptune.

Whilst we were staggering along, under the influence of the rosy god
and the weight of the skipper, who should spring past, in a fast run,
apparently in red-hot haste, but the mysterious Mr Wilson!

"Hillo, my fine fellow," quoth Twig, "whither so swiftly?  Slacken your
pace, man, and be compani-o-n-a-ble."

I now perceived that Twig's legs were the discreetest of his members,
and more to be relied on than his tongue; his potations having
considerably interfered with his usually clear enunciation.  The person
hailed neither shortened sail nor answered him.

"Why, Mr Twig," shouted I, "if you don't heave to, we must cast off Mr
Hause here.  I believe he is in an apoplexy, he is so deadly heavy."

"Here, Mr Brail--here--bring him along," quoth Twig, returning from the
front, and laying hold of the navigator wheelbarrow fashion, placing
himself between his legs, while Flamingo and I had each a hold of an
arm.  As for the head, we left it to take care of itself, as it bumped
on the hard path at every step, demolishing, no doubt, thousands of
sand-flies at every lollop.  We staggered down the zigzag road, until
we came to an opening in the lime fence, through which we turned sharp
off into the fields, led by Massa Twig.  Here, wading through wet
guinea-grass up to our hip-joints, which drenched us in a moment to the
skin, we arrived at a small rocky knoll under an orange-tree, where we
deposited the drunk man on his back, and then, with all the tipsy
gravity in the world, sat ourselves down beside him.

We were now planted on a limestone pinnacle of the bluff, on which the
house stood, from the fissures of which grew a most superb orange-tree
that overshadowed us.  Our perch commanded a view to seaward, as well
as of the harbour, that slept under our feet in the moonlight.  As soon
as we came to an anchor, Flamingo ascended the tree, which was loaded
with golden fruit, and sparkling with fireflies.

"Nothing like an orange with the dew on it," quoth he, stretching to
reach a bunch, when he missed his footing, and shook down a whole
volley of oranges, and a shower of heavy dew.

"Confound you, Felix," quoth Jacob Twig, who received a copious
showerbath in his neck, as he stooped his head, busying himself in an
unavailing attempt to strike fire with his pocket-flint and steel, in
order to light his cigar, "what do you mean by that?"

"A volley of grapeshot from the felucca," stuttered the skipper, on
whose face Flamingo had again dropped a whole hatful of fruit, sending
down along with them another fall of diamonds.

"Now, don't be so pluviose, Flamingo," again sung out Twig; "come down
out of that tree, Felix, or I'll shy this stone at you, as I am a
gentleman."

"An't I a very pretty peacock, Jacob?" quoth his troublesome friend.
"But stop, I _will_ come down"--seeing Twig preparing to make his
threat good--"so keep your temper, man, and haul Tarrybreeks nearer the
root of the tree, that I may fall soft."

"I say, Flamingo," quoth Twig, "you don't mean to make a featherbed of
the navigator's carcass, do you?"

Crash at this moment went the bough on which our friend had trusted
himself, and down he came, tearing his way through the strong thorns of
the tree, right upon us.  However, his fall was so much broken by the
other branches, that there was no great harm done, if we except the
scratches that he himself received, and a rent or two in his clothes.

"Murder, how I am scratched and torn, to be sure--why, see, my clothes
are all in tatters absolutely," with a long drawl.

"Serve you right, you troublesome animal," quoth Twig; "but sit down,
and be quiet if you can.  Look, have you no poetry in you, Felix?  Is
not that scene worth looking at?"

The black bank of clouds that had slid down the western sky, and had
floated for some time above the horizon, now sank behind the hills,
above whose dark outline the setting moon was lingering.

The pale clear luminary still cast a long stream of light on the quiet
waters of the bay, which were crisping and twinkling in the
land-breeze; and the wet roofs of the houses of the town beneath, whose
dark masses threw their long shadows towards us, glanced in her
departing beams like sheets of polished silver.  The grass and bushes
beside us were sparkling with dewdrops, and spangled with fireflies.
The black silent hulls of the vessels at anchor floated motionless on
the bosom of the calm waters; the Ballahoo being conspicuous from her
low hull and tall spars.  The lantern that had been hoisted to guide
the skipper on his return still burned like a small red spark at the
gaff end.

There were one or two lights sparkling and disappearing in the lattices
of the houses on the bay, as if the inmates were already bestirring
themselves, early as it was.

The moon was just disappearing, when a canoe, pulling four oars, with
one solitary figure in the stern, dashed across her wake, and pushed
out to sea.

We distinctly heard the hollow voices of the men, and the rumble of the
rollocks, and the cheeping and splashing of the broad bladed paddles.
I looked with all my eyes.  "A doubloon, if you pull to please me,"
said a voice distinctly from the boat.

"That chap must be in a deuced hurry, whoever he may be," quoth Jacob
Twig.

"It's more than you seem to be, my boy," rejoined Master Felix, "You
seem to be inclined to sit here all night; so I'll e'en stump along to
my lodgings, at Sally Frenche's, and leave you and the skipper _al
fresco_ here, to rise when it pleases you.  Come, Mr Brail, will you
go, or shall I send you out a nightcap and a boat-cloak?"

"Oh we shall all go together," said I; "only let us take another look
at that most beautiful sky."

The moon had now disappeared behind the distant mountains, leaving
their dark outlines sharply cut out against the clear greenish light of
the western sky.  They looked like the shore to some mysteriously
transparent, self-luminous, but deadly calm ocean.  Several shreds of
vapour floated in this mild radiance, like small icebergs in the north
sea, during the long twilight night, while the sun is circling round
just below the horizon; while to windward[2] the fast reddening sky,
and the rise of the morning star, gave token of the near approach of
day.


[2] Once for all.  In the West Indies, from the sea-breeze, or
trade-winds, always blowing from the east, objects or places are
universally indicated, even during a temporary calm, as being situated
_to windward_ or _to leeward_, according as they are to the _eastward_
or _westward_ of the speaker.


We got home, and tumbled into bed, and it was two o'clock in the
afternoon before I rose to breakfast.

The sea-breeze was by this time blowing strong, almost half a gale of
wind, making the shingles of the roof clatter like watchmen's rattles,
and whistling through the house like a tornado.

I had just risen, and taken my razors out of my desk, which lay open on
the dressing-table, when the wooden-blinds of the window fell down with
a loud bang, from the dropping out of the pin that held them shut, and
away went the letters and papers it contained, scattered by the
reckless breeze east, west, north, and south; some flying up to the
roof, others sticking against the walls far above my ken, as resolutely
as if they had been pasted on by little Waddington the billsticker
himself; while, by a sort of eddy wind, several were whisked away out
of the door (that at the moment was opened by a negro boy with my coat
in one hand, a beautiful pine-apple on a plate in the other, and a tin
shaving-jug _full of boiling water on his head_), and disappeared
amongst the branches of a large umbrageous kennip-tree, that
overshadowed the back-yard, to be worked up in due time into bird's
nests.

"There they go," cried I.  "Why,--Sally, cousin Sally!"--she was
bustling about her domestic matters--"see all my letters flying about
the yard there; send some of the small fry to catch them."

I continued my shaving, until another puff whipped up the piece of
paper I had been wiping my razor on, charged as it was with soap-suds,
and there it ascended spirally in a tiny whirlwind, until it reached
the roof, where, thinking it would stick to the rafters, after being
tired of its gyrations, the room being unceiled, I shouted to Sally to
bring me one of the vagrant papers to supply its place; but, as I
peeped through the blinds to observe how she came on, I felt something
settle down as gently as a snow-flake on the crown of my head.  "Do try
and secure my _love_-letters, cousin."

"Love-letter, dem?" quoth Sally, jumping up at the words, "La, Massa
Benjamin, how you no say so before--love-letter--I tink dem was no more
as shaving-paper."

"Shaving-paper?  Oh no, all my shaving-paper is sticking to the crown
of my head, Sally; see here," stooping down to show her the patch on my
skull.

Sally was now all energy.  "Shomp, Teemoty, Peeta, up de tree, you
willains, and fetch me all dese piece of paper, dem--shomp;" and the
fugitive pieces were soon secured.

When Sally, honest lady, entered with the papers, the soapy scalp still
adhered to my caput.  She first looked in my face, being a sort of quiz
in her way, and then at it.  "Dat is new fashion, Massa Benjamin.  When
gentlemen shave demself in England now-a-day, do dey wipe de razor on
crone of dem head?"

"Assuredly they do," said I; "the universal custom, Sally, every man or
woman, _willy nilly_, must wipe their razors, henceforth and for ever,
on pieces of paper stuck on the crown of their heads.  There is an act
of Parliament for it."

"My gracious!"

"Ay, you may say that,"

And exit Sally Frenche to her household cares once more.

I had now time to give a little attention to the scenery of the yard,
where Cousin Sally reigned supreme.

Three sides of the square (the house composing the fourth) were
occupied by ranges of low wooden huts, containing kitchen and
washing-houses, rooms for the domestic negroes, and a long open shed,
fronting my window, for a stable.  There was a draw-well in the centre,
round which numberless fowls, turkeys, geese, ducks, guinea-birds, and
pigeons, _flaffed_, and gobbled, and quacked; while several pigs were
grunting and squeaking about the cookroom door, from whence a black
hand, armed with an iron ladle, protruded every now and then, to give
grumphy, when too intrusive, a good crack over the skull.

Below the large kennip-tree already mentioned, sat Sally Frenche,
enthroned in state, in a low wicker chair, with a small table beside
her, on which lay an instrument of punishment, ycleped a cowskin, a
long twisted thong of leather, with a short lash of whipcord at the end
of it.  She was nothing loth, I saw, to apply this to the shoulders of
her handmaidens when they appeared behind hand, or sluggish in their
obedience; and even the free brownies of her household were not always
exempt from a taste thereof.

Two nice showily-dressed negresses were speaking to her.  They each
balanced a large wooden bowl on their heads, full of handkerchiefs,
gown-pieces, and beads, and appeared to be taking their instructions as
to the prices they were to ask during the day's sale.  They
departed--when a black fellow, naked all to his trowsers, with a long
clear knife in his hand, approached, and also took some orders that I
could not hear, but apparently they had been the death-warrant of a
poor little pig, which he immediately clapper-clawed; and, like a
spider bolting with a fly, disappeared with it, squeaking like fury,
into his den--the kitchen.

There were several little naked negro children running about Mrs Sally,
but the objects of her immediate attention were a brown male child, of
about eight years old, and two little mulatto girls, a year or two his
seniors apparently.  The children had their primers in their hands, and
Sally held an open book in one of hers.

The girls appeared, with the aptness of their sex, to have said their
lessons to her satisfaction, but the little cock-yellowhammer seemed a
dull concern; and as I looked, she gave him a smart switch over his
broadest end with her cowskin.

"Try again, you stupid _black_-head"--(his head was black enough
certainly)--"now mind--what doz you do wid your eyes?"

"I sees wid dem."

"You is right for one time--what doz you do wid your yees?"--(ears.)

"I hears wid dem."

"Bery well--you sees you is not so stupid when you attends--you only
lazy--so now--what doz you do wid your foots?"

"Walks wid dem."

"Bery well, indeed--now mind again--what doz you do wid your nose?"

This was a puzzler apparently--the poor little yellowhammer scratched
his head, and eke his behind, and looked into the tree, and all manner
of ways, when seeing Mammy Sally's fingers creeping along the table
towards the cowskin,--he rapped out,

"I _picks_ him."

"_Picks_ him, sir!--_picks_ him!"--shouted Sally threatening him.

"No"--blubbered the poor boy--"no, mammy--no, I _blows_ him sometimes."

"You nassy snattary little willain--what is dat you say--you _smells_
wid him, sir--you _smells_ wid him."  Another whack across his nether
end, and a yell from yellowhammer.--"Now, sir, what you doz wid your
mout?"

"_Nyam plawn_."[3]


[3] Creole for "_eat plantain_."


"Bery well--dat is not so far wrong--you does _nyam plawn_ wid him--but
next time be more genteel, and say--you eats wid him.  Now, sir--read
your catechism, sir--begin--Mammy Juba--de toad of a boy--if him no hab
de wrong side of de book turn up--ah ha--massa--you don't know de
difference between de tap from de battam of de book yet?--Let me see if
I can find out de difference between, for you own tap and battam."

Whack, whack, whack--and away ran the poor little fellow, followed by
the two girls, so contagious was his fear; and off started the wrathful
Sally after them, through the flock of living creatures; until she
stumbled and fell over a stout porker; on which a turkey-cock, taking
the intrusion in bad part, began stoutly to dig at Sally's face with
his heels, and peck at her eyes with his beak, hobble-gobbling all the
time most furiously; in which praiseworthy endeavour he was seconded by
two ducks and a clucking-hen, one of whose chickens had come to an
untimely end through poor Sally's _faux-pas_; while the original
stumblingblock, the pig, kept poking and snoking at the fallen fair
one, as if he had possessed a curiosity to know the colour of her
garters.  This gave little yellowhammer an opportunity of picking up
the cowskin, that had dropped in the row, and of slyly dropping it into
the draw-well, to the great improvement, no doubt, of the future
flavour of the water.

At length Sally gathered herself up, and seeing that there was no
chance of catching the urchins, who were peeping in at the back-door of
the yard, that opened into the lane, she made a merit of necessity, and
called out,

"So, go play now--go play,"--and away the scholars ran, and Cousin
Sally returned to the house.

I was sitting at breakfast, and the gig I had ordered was already at
the door, when the captain of the Ballahoo, who had been put to bed in
the house, joined me.  He looked rather sheepish, as if a dim
recollection of the figure he had cut over night had been haunting him.
Just as we had finished our meal, and I was about saying good-by to
him, I found I had forgotten two boxes of cigars on board the Ballahoo;
and as none of the servants of the house were at hand, I accepted his
offer to go on board with him, in a canoe for them.  So desiring the
boy in charge of the gig to wait--that I would be back _instanter_--we
sallied forth, and proceeded to the wharf, and embarked in the first
shore-canoe we came to.  There were three West-Indiamen taking in their
cargoes close to the wharf, with their topmasts struck, and otherwise
dismantled, and derricks up; and a large timbership, just arrived,
whose sails were loosed to dry, was at anchor beyond them in the bay.

"Pull under the stern of that large ship with the sails loose; my brig
is just beyond her," quoth Hause to the black canoe-man.  "A fine
burdensome craft that, sir."

"Very."

We were now rapidly approaching the large vessel--we shot past under
her stern--when, lo!--_there was no brig to be seen_.

The captain, apparently bewildered, stared wildly about him--first this
way, then that way, and in every direction---then at a buoy, to which
we had now made fast.--He turned round to me, while with one hand he
grasped the buoy-rope--"As sure as there is a Heaven above us,
sir--this is our buoy, and the brig is gone."

"Gone," said I, smiling, "where can she be gone?"

"That's more than I know;"--then, after a pause, during which he became
as blue as indigo, "where is the Ballahoo?" gasped the poor fellow in a
fluttering tone to the canoe-men, as if terrified to learn their answer.

"Where is the Ballahoo you say, massa!!"--echoed Quashie in great
surprise, that _he_, the master of her, should ask such a question.

"Yes--you black scoundrel,"--roared Hause, gathering breath, "_where_
is the Ballahoo?--this is her buoy, don't you see?"

"Where is de Ballahoo!!!"--again screamed the negroes, in a volley, in
utter extremity of amazement at the enquiry being _seriously_ repeated.

"Yes, you ragamuffins," quoth I, Benjie Brail, excited in my
turn--"Where _is_ the Ballahoo?"

_Omnes_.--"WHERE IS THE BALLAHOO?"



CHAPTER VII.

THE DEVIL'S GULLY.

I was certainly extremely puzzled myself to conjecture what could have
become of the brig--that she had vanished was certain--and as for poor
Captain Hause, he was in a truly pitiable state; quite stunned with the
suddenness and severity of the blow, so as to be altogether unable to
think or act for himself--"Come, Hause, my lad," said I, encouragingly,
"this won't do; rouse yourself, man, and let us see what's to be done."
At this he slowly rose up in the canoe, rubbing his eyes, and pressing
his forehead, as if he had awakened out of some horrid dream, the
effects of which he was endeavouring to shake off; but the instant he
was no longer in doubt as to the reality of his misfortune, he cast the
slough of his despondency, and with terrific energy tore off his jacket
and neckerchief, and dashing both into the water, along with his hat,
threw himself headlong after them; being only prevented from
accomplishing his purpose of self-destruction by my dragging him on
board again by the leg, and then holding him in the canoe by main force.

"I say, my men,"--to the black canoemen--"pull to that big timber-ship,
will ye?"

"Ay, ay, massa," rejoined the poor fellows; "only hold dat poor mad
buccra hand--take care him don't get at we, please, massa--white
somarry when him blod up, bad enough--but when buccra beside himself,
for true and true--heigh, de devil, massa."

We soon got alongside of the Quebec ship.  Several of the crew, in
their dirty canvass trowsers, red flannel shirts, and night-caps, were
standing at the gangway, apparently observing us.

"You are the mate of this ship?" said I to a good-looking young man,
who was leaning over the side, neatly dressed in a blue jacket, check
shirt, duck trowsers, and straw hat.

"I am, sir--can I be of any service to you?"

"I wish you would lend a hand to get this poor fellow up the side.  He
is very ill, you see; and if I try to take him ashore I am persuaded he
will jump overboard.  He has endeavoured to do so already."

"You need not be afraid of me, Mr Brail," here chimed in the poor
skipper himself, as he seated himself in the stern sheets with forced
composure.  "It is over now, sir, and I am quite cool; but get up if
you please, and I will follow you--you are quite right, sir, the people
of this ship _may_ be able to give us some information."

I clambered up the high side of the vessel, and was immediately
followed by Hause and three of the negroes belonging to the canoe.

"I am sorry Captain Batten is not on board, gentlemen," quoth the mate;
"but is there any thing I can do for you?"

My companion was still unable to speak for himself.  He had sitten down
on a carronade, resting his head on his hand, the very picture of
despondency.

"Why, it is a strange story altogether," said I; "but did you notice
when the brig, that anchored close to you yesterday afternoon, got
under weigh this morning?"

"I did, sir.  I was on deck at the time."

The captain lifted up his head at this for a moment, but presently fell
back into his former state of apparent stupor.

"I noticed two boats," continued the mate, "I suppose from the shore,
full of people, go to her from the other side of the bay, and smart
chaps they were apparently--they loosed sails, and set them in regular
man-of-war fashion, and all the time you could have heard a pin drop.
I will do them or the crew the credit to say that I never saw a brig
got under weigh more handsomely in my life.  I had no conception they
could have got the anchor up so speedily."

"Anchor up!" groaned Hause; "why, _there--there_ is the anchor, cable
and all," pointing to the buoy.  "The brig is run away with by some
piratical rascals, sir," cried he, increasing his exclamation to a
roar--"the cable has been slipped--oh, I am ruined, I am ruined--for
ever ruined--the sweet little Ballahoo has been cut out by pirates--as
sure as fate, the bloody pirates are off with her," and he burst into a
passion of tears, and wept like the veriest child.

"I really cannot say," rejoined the mate of the timber-ship, most
distressingly cool and composed; "but she was in sight within this half
hour from the deck.  Here, steward, hand me the captain's glass--I
think I shall be able to make her out from the maintop still."

This seemed to rouse poor Hause, who had relapsed into his mute fit;
and he was in the top in an instant.  "Hand me up the glass, my good
fellow," cried he impatiently to the mate, who was ascending the
rigging leisurely, with the glass slung at his back by a leather
strap--"the glass, if you please, the glass--here I see her down to
leeward there--there, see--just over the Point."  And the poor fellow
took a long, anxious look towards the offing, steadying the telescope
against one of the topmast shrouds, and speaking very quickly all the
time, as I have seen one do in a fever, to the mate, who stood by him
in the top.

"Well, captain," I sung out, "what do you see?"

He did not answer me; but the mate of the ship did.  "He says he sees
the brig, sir, standing under a crowd of sail to the northward and
westward--two small craft, like coasters, in company."

"Ask him to take a good look at these last, will ye?"

A pause.  "One is a schooner, he says, sir."

"And the other?"

"A felucca, sir."

"I thought so, by all that is unfortunate."  And I turned away, walking
aft very fast, when the mate's voice from the top, hailing the deck,
evidently in great alarm, arrested me, and glued me to the planks.

"Johnstone, Johnstone!"--This was to one of the ship's people,--"come
up here; come up into the top--quick, or he will be over!" And the next
moment the telescope fell smash at my feet.  I could see that Hause had
cast himself down on the grating, and was grovelling convulsively on
his face.  At length, in his struggles, one of his legs hung over; and
I thought he would have slipped through the mate's fingers, and been
dashed to pieces by the fall.  I looked up enquiringly.

"He's in a fit, sir," cried the mate.

"Well, well, seize him in the top, then--seize him in the top."

But it was unnecessary; the poor fellow got over this paroxysm also, to
which the calmness of despair now finally succeeded, and presently he
came down on deck.

"I will now give you no more trouble, Mr Brail, you may depend on it; I
am in my right senses again, although ruined for ever; and all owing to
my infernal folly in not sleeping on board."

"Well, my good fellow," said I, "I question very strongly if your
_sleeping_ on board would have made the smallest difference, at least
in your favour.  _If_ she has been forcibly carried off,--and I am
sorry to say it looks very like it,--the party must have been too
strong to have allowed _your_ resistance to have been of any avail.  In
fact, the first thing they naturally would have done must have been
either to have secured you below, or given you a more effectual
_quietus_--you understand me.  So nothing here is so bad, but it might
have been worse.  You are better as you are surely, than a prisoner;
or, worse still, amongst the fishes in the bay?"

But I was cramming his ear against the stomach of his sense.

"Those on deck would not have been caught in this way had I been on
board, take my word for it, sir."

"Probably not, probably not.  But who does the brig belong to?"

"To myself, sir--entirely."

"And she was ensured?"

"Yes, fully; but since she had arrived, of course the underwriters are
not liable for her having been cut out.  Besides, sir, it will be made
out a deviation, as we were bound for Kingston, and had no right to
touch at Montego bay; although, God knows, we did all for the best."

"These are questions that I cannot well answer.  As to the deviation, I
fear you are right, although, as you say, you did it for the best; and
if the underwriters be liberal-minded men, this should weigh with them,
and I do hope they will settle.  However, cheer up, man, and let us go
and make our depositions before the authorities, and send off
information of the event to the admiral at Kingston, and to your agent
there, as well as to the outports; let us take all the chances of
informing some of the squadron of the transaction.  You are bound to
take every measure likely to afford a chance of the recovery of the
brig and property.  But the poor Dons, have they been kidnapped as well
as the crew?"

"All on dem--ebery one on dem carry go along wid dat terrible pirate
willain," quoth one of the negro canoemen.

"Aye, Quashie," said I, for I had forgotten the blackies altogether,
"what do _you_ know about it?"

"I knows dis, massa--dat Jack, and Aby, and Pico dere, was all out fis
wid me in de canoe dis wery marning, jost as de moon was setting, when
one buccra hail we fram de beach--'Canoe, ahoy,' him say.--'Hillo,' say
we."

"Very well, my good man, get on, get on."

"So me shall, massa; so him hail again, 'Canoe, ahoy,' him say--and
'Hillo,' say me, Bill, once more."

"So, and you took him on board?" said I.

"You had better give him his own way, sir, or you will never get to the
end of his yarn," chimed in the mate of the timber ship.  I saw he had
a better knowledge of the negro character than I had, so I resolutely
held my tongue.  "Go on, then, Bill, since that is your name, get along
your own way."

"So him hail, we de tird time--'Canoe, ahoy,' him say.  I hope massa
notice dat him sing out 'Canoe, ahoy,' for de _tird_ time--'Hillo,' say
I for de tird time too--massa will mark I say 'Hillo,' for de tird time
too."

"Yes, yes."

"Wery good.  'I wants a shove out to one wessel in de offing,' say de
woice, for by dis time one cloud come over de moon, and we couldn't see
nobody none at all--'We is fissing, and can't come,' say Pico."

"'Never mind your fissing--here is one golden hook for you--here is
eight dollar for de put on board.'

"Ho, ho, now we understan, taught I,--'He, he, better more as fis whole
night dis is,' say Jack.  So we leave de lines, at one buoy, and pull
for de beach, where we find one buccra tan up dere wid portmanteau on
him shoulder, and all fine dress as if for one ball.  He toss in de
portmanteau widout any more palaver--wery heavy him was, for de same
was break Pico shin."

"To be sure him do," said Pico, here showing where the black cuticle
was flayed off the cucumber shank.

"'Now you see one wessel, wid white sail out yonder?' him say when him
sit down in de starn sheet--'No,' say all we, 'we see noting,' and no
more we did, massa.

"'Bery well--pull right out of de bay den--_one doubloon if you pulls
to please me,_' say he."

I here looked at poor Hause--forgetting he had been helplessly drunk
when the canoe passed us, as we sat below the orange-tree.

"Well, massa," continued the negro, "when we reach de offing de trange
buccra tood up in de starn, take off him hat, and look all
about--'dere,' say he, pointing wid him tretch out hand, 'dere dey are,
you see dem now, pull for dat nearest wessel.'

"'Where, where, where?'  Pico poke him head out into de dark night, and
so do Jack, and so do Aby, and so do me--all tan up wid neck tretch
over de gonwale like so much goose looking for de picaniny coming wid
de Guinea corn.  So, tink I, what good yeye dat buccra mos hab, for
none of us yet no see noting; but, ha, ha, presently de moon give us
one leetle shine, and, I see, I see."

"What the deuce did you see?" said I, losing all patience, and raising
my hand threateningly--Quashie, thinking I was going to strike him, now
tumbled out his words fast enough.

"I see one larsh ship well out in de offing--one leetle rogueish
looking felucca close to, and one big topsail schooner between dis one
and de larsh ship."  Here, seeing it was a false alarm on my part, he
relapsed into his former drawling verbosity.  "Well, we pull for de
smallest of de tree--see no one on deck but de man steering and two
boy--de trange buccra shomp on board--'Now tank you, my lad,' him say
quite shivel--'dere is de doubloon I promise--here, boy, give dem poor
fellow a horn of grog a-piece.'--'Si Señor,' say de boy--fonny ting, I
taught, for de boy to hanswer him in Panish--we drink de grog--'now
shove off--good by--go home, and sleep,' said de trange buccra--but
instead we come back to our nets, massa--before daybreak we come
ashore, and when de captain dere engage de canoe, we taught it was for
join de brig in de offing (for after we came back from sell our fis we
hear she was gone), until we see she was too far out, and instead of
being heave too, was bowl along six knots wid de first of de sea
breeze."

"How came you to know Captain Hause was the master of the brig?" said I.

"Because I was in de pilot canoe dat was come aff to you yesterday--and
it make me wery mosh surprise to see de captain expect to find de brig
at anchor dis forenoon, for I never dream she could be go widout his
leave.  I was tink for true it was him send him off at gone-fire,
becase I see, just before day broke, what I tink was two sore boat wid
peoples, as if he had sent help to up de hanker cleverly--dat all I
knows, massa--will buss de book pan dat."  And I believe the poor
fellow spoke the truth.

It was now evident beyond all shadow of doubt that the Ballahoo had
been run away with by pirates, and it was equally clear that nothing
could be done with any chance of success in the way of venturing to
follow her in an unarmed craft.

As for poor Hause, it would have been downright cruelty if I had left
him that forenoon.  So I told Cousin Teemoty to put up the gig, as I
found I should be unable to leave Montego bay that day at any rate; and
I hurried to Sally Frenche's in order to write to the admiral an
account of the transaction.

When I got there I found Mr Twig and his friend Mr Flamingo seated at a
sumptuous breakfast.  "Good morning, gentlemen--melancholy news for you
this morning.  This poor man's brig--the vessel I came in--has been run
away with in the night by pirates."

"By pirates!" said Flamingo; "impossible, Mr Brail, you are joking
surely.  I would as soon believe that Jacob Twig there had been stolen
in the night."

"And do you mean to say I should not have been worth the stealing,
Felix?"

I assured them that it was a melancholy fact, and no jest, but neither
would believe that there was any piracy in the affair--"Piracy--poo,
poo, impossible--barratry of the crew--barratry to a certainty."

"No," quoth Hause; "I would trust the poor fellows with all that I am
worth--Heaven knows that's little enough now.  The mate is my own
brother-in-law, and the second mate is my nephew, my own sister's son.
No barratry, sir; no, no."

"Well, well," said I, "you have shown, gentlemen, a desire to oblige me
already.  I now will put you to the proof."

Here they laid down their coffee-cups and rose, wiping their muzzles
with their napkins most resolutely.

"Say the word, Mr Brail," quoth both in a breath, with their mouths
full, and munching away all the time--"how can we be of service?--with
our persons or purses?  We West Indians have such a slippery tenure in
this country, that one does not much grudge perilling either,"
continued Jacob Twig.

"Thank you.  All I want at present is, that you should have the
goodness to put Mr Hause and me in the way of making our depositions
before your chief magistrate."

"The custos of the parish?" quoth Twig.  "Certainly--and fortunately he
is here in Montego bay at this moment.  He was at Roseapple's last
night."

"I know where to find him," said Mr Flamingo, "He is always at old
Jacob Munroe's store about this time, when at the bay.  So, _allons_."

And in a twinkling we were on our way to lay our troubles before the
great functionary, an extensive planter in the neighbourhood."

"Pray, where is Mr Turner, the gentleman from Falmouth, who brought
that ominous Mr Wilson to the ball, to be found?" said I, as we stumped
along, larding the lean earth, for it was cruelly hot.

"Well thought of," said Don Felix.  "He lodges usually at Judy Wade's.
Why, there he is in _propria persona_, standing in the front piazza."

"How do you do, Turner?  You will have heard the row on the bay?"

"Oh yes; but the Tom Bowline has been given up; she has not even been
plundered, and is now working into the bay."

"No--no--not the Tom Bowline"----

"What, about the brig having been cut out?  Oh yes; it has flown like
wild-fire."

"Pray, is Mr Wilson still with you?"

"No, to my surprise (I will confess), he is not.  It seems he came home
before me from Roseapple's, packed his portmanteau, paid half of our
joint bills, and bolted"----

"Honour amongst thieves," whispered Twig to me--

"But where he is gone I can't tell.  He _did_ intend to have started
for Kingston to-day at one time, but last night he said he would put it
off until to-morrow."

"There again," said I, looking at Jacob, who seemed to think it was his
cue.

"He must be a bit of a rogue that same Wilson; so I hope he is no
friend of yours, Turner, _my dear fellow_," quoth Twig--and here he
told him of all that had occurred, and what we suspected.

Mr Turner, a most respectable man, was highly incensed at having been
so grossly duped, and willingly accompanied us to the place where we
expected to find the custos.

We were on our way, when the mate of the timber ship overtook us,
running very fast.

"Gentlemen, piracy is not the worst of it--piracy is not the worst of
it.  _There has been murder committed_."

"Murder!" quoth Jacob Twig--"the deuce there has!"

"Murder!" quoth Don Felix--"worse, and more of it."

And, "murder!" quoth I Benjie.  "Where, my good man?--and what proof?"

"Come with me, gentlemen," said the still breathless seaman.  "The
ship's boat, with Captain Batten himself in it, is lying at the wharf.
Come with me, and you shall see yourselves that it is as I say."

We reached the wharf, and immediately pulled straight for the brig's
buoy.

As we got between it and the sun, which was now declining in the west,
we witnessed a very uncommon appearance.

The Ballahoo had let go her anchor in five fathoms water, so clear, and
the sand at the bottom so white and free of weeds or rocks, that when
we were about & cable's length distant from the anchor, it appeared
from the refraction of the sun's rays, to be buoyed up, and to float on
the surface of the gentle swell that rolled in from the offing--the
shank, flukes, and stock twisting and twining, and the cable waving in
its whole length, as if the solid anchor had been a living thing in the
fangs of a gigantic watersnake.  When we got right over the anchor, we
saw a dark object, at about three fathoms to windward of it, of the
size of a man's body, glimmering and changing its shape, from the
jaugle of the water.  At the request of the mate I shaded my eyes with
my hands, and held my face close to the surface, when the indistinct
appearance, as I looked steadily, settled itself into the figure of a
sailor, floating, as near as I could judge, midway between the bottom
and the surface; suspended in the water, as the fable alleges Mahomet's
coffin to be in air.

"It has drifted," said the mate, "since I was here before, and is now
much nearer the surface--see, see!"--and presently the dead corpse, as
if some sudden chemical decomposition had taken place, sent up a number
of bubbles, and then rose rapidly to the surface with a bob (if in so
serious a matter one may use such an expression), where it floated with
the breast bone and face flush with the surface of the swell, dip
dipping, and driving out small concentric circles, that sparkled in the
sun all round.  _The throat was cut from ear to ear_.

"Great God," cried poor Hause, as he passed his arm round the neck of
the dead body, and raised it out of the water--"my poor mate--my poor
mate!  Ay, ay--he would have the morning watch sure enough.  A fearful
watch has it been to him."

We carried the body to the wharf, and left it there, covered with a
boatsail, and once more proceeded to wait on the custos.

The place we expected to meet him at was a sort of vendue store, the
small open piazza of which, fronting the street, was lumbered with
bales of Osnaburgs, open boxes of handkerchiefs, pieces of Irish
linens, and several open barrels of mess beef, pork, pickled mackerel,
herrings, and shads.  We navigated through these shoals with some
difficulty, and considerable danger to the integrity and purity of our
coat skirts.  At length we reached the interior.

There was a passage fronting us, that ran right through the house from
front to rear, on each side of which were sparred partitions of
unpainted pine boards, covered with flour and weevils, and hung with
saddlery, mule harness, cattle chains, hoes, and a vast variety of
other miscellaneous articles of common use on an estate.

Through the spars on the left hand side, I saw a person in a
light-coloured jacket and trowsers, perched on the top of a tall
mahogany tripod, at a small, dirty, hacked-and-hewn mahogany desk, with
a pen behind his ear, his hands full of papers, and busy apparently
with some accounts.

But there seemed to be a dark _sanctum-sanctorum_ beyond him, of some
kind or another, railed in separately, the partition festooned with
dusty spider-webs, and raised several steps above the level of the
floor.  Here, in the obscurity, I could barely discern a little
decrepit figure of a man, like a big parrot in a cage, dressed in a
sort of dark-coloured night-gown and red night-cap.

We all sat down unconcernedly to wait for his honour, as if this had
been some common lounge, or a sort of public coffee-house,--some on
tops of barrels, others on bales or boxes; but neither of the two
persons at the desks moved or took the smallest notice of us, as if
they had been accustomed to people constantly going and coming.

"Where is your master?" said Twig at length to a negro that was
tumbling goods about in the piazza.

"Dere him is," quoth Snowball--"dere in de contin hose;" indicating the
direction by sticking out his chin, both paws being occupied at the
time in rolling a tierce of beef.

"I say, Jacob Munroe," sung out Twig--"how are you, old boy?  Nuzzling
away in the old corner, I see."

"Hoo are ye?  Hoo are ye the day, Mr Twig?" said a small husky voice
from the sanctum.

I happened to sit a good deal farther back in the passage than the
others of the party (farther _ben_ I believe they would call it in
Scotland), and thus could hear the two quill drivers, who were
evidently unaware of my being within earshot, communing with each
other, while my companions did not.

"Saunders," quoth the oldest man from the sanctum, "hae ye coonted the
saydels?"

"Yes, uncle, twice over, and there is still one amissing."

"Vara extraordinar," rejoined the small husky voice from the dark
corner--"Vara extraordinar."--Then after a pause--"Hae ye closed aw the
accoonts, Saunders?"

"No, sir."

"Whilk o' them are open yet?"

"Mr Wanderson's."

"Ane," said the voice.

"Jolliffe and Backhouse."

"Twa."

"Skinflint and Peasemeal."

"Three."

"His honour the custos."

"Four."

"And Gabriel Juniper."

"Ay, there's five o' them.  Weel-a-weel, Saunders, we maunna lose the
value of the saydel at no rate--sae just clap in, 'item, _one_ saydel'
to ilk ane o' the five ye hae read aff the noo seriawtim--they'll no aw
objeck--ane will surely stick--maybe mair."

I was a good deal amused with this, and while the others were
inspecting some sets of harness, and the quality of several open boxes
of soap, I could not resist drawing nearer, under the lee of the
partition, to enjoy the fun of the thing.  Presently Twig joined me.

The conscience of the younger of the two invisibles seemed to rebel
somewhat at this national and characteristic method of balancing an
account, and making gain of the loss of a saddle.

"Really, uncle, _none_ of these parties got the saddle, I am positively
certain of _that_."

"It's no my fawt if they didna--we canna lose the saydel, Saunders; by
no mainer of means."

"Oh, but, sir," persisted the other, "Mr Wanderson, for instance, a
person you always speak so highly of!"

"Haud yere tongue, sir, and do as I bid ye--it'll no be charged again
_yere_ conscience, and yere no the keeper o' mine."

I was amazingly tickled at this.--After a pause, "Hae ye charged the
saydels yet, Saunders?"

"Yes, sir," said the clerk, doggedly; "yes, all charged, and I'm just
closing the accounts."

"Close nane o' the accounts--the devil's in the lad wi' his
hurry--close nane o' the accounts, sir--so noo charge twa three odd
things till each o' the five, just, to smoor the saydel, ye ken--what
are ye glowering at?--do ye no understaun yere mither tongue?--to mak
the charge less noticeable, ye gawmarel."

"Really, sir," said the younger of the two, "I have not the courage to
do so unjust an action of myself."

"Haud yere tongue, and write what I dictate, then, sir--wha's first?
Ay, Mr Wanderson.  Let me see--an IHL hinge, a negro lock, and a bottle
of blister flies, to Mr Wanderson.  He's always giving poor people help
and medicine, and he'll ne'er notice them.  Wha's neist?"

"The custos, sir."

"Ay, the custos," said the voice; "a jovial chiel is his honour--so,
so--just clap doon, item, twa _pawtent_ corkscrews.  He's no very
muckle gien to payin', but ne'er mind--I'll _screw_ it out o' him in
rum and plantains."  And here the creature laughed an "eldritch laugh,"
sounding more like _keck, keck, keck_, than any common cachinnation.
"Wha's neist?"

"Jolliffe and Backhouse."

"Ay, braw English lads are they baith; leeberal chiels, and fond o'
guid eating--clap a round o' Jew beef on the tap o' _their_
saydel.--Keck, keck, keck.  Wha's neist?"

"Skinflint and Peasemeal, sir."

"Bah--nasty Scotch bodies" (and what may you be, thought I); "and weel
I wot I would be glad to saydel them--keck, keck--but they'll no be
fitted that gate, I trow--they are owre gleg; sell them a loose, and if
he wanted a leg or the fud--my certie, let abee findin' it oot, they
wad plea it afore they payed it--sae pass them ower.  But wait awee--I
am loath to let Skinflint escape after aw.  Hoo mony grunstanes did
their cart ca' for the other day?"

"Two dozen, sir."

"Twa dizzen--twa dizzen grunstanes, did ye say?--herd ony mortal the
like o' that--four-and-twenty grunstanes!  What can they do wi' sae
mony? they maun surely mack soup o' them, or feed their negers wi'
them, or maybe they grind their noses on them, ay, that'll be it--keck,
keck--Did you send an invoice wi' the cart, Saunders?"

"No, sir; the man went away without it."

"Vera weel."

"The cart upset on the way home, sir, and broke several of the stones,
I hear."

"Better and better--mak the _twa dizzen three_, Saunders; surely
they'll no piece the broken anes thegither to check the tally--the
extra dizzen will aboot balance a saydel, Saunders.  So, if we canna
fit them wi' a saydel, we'll tak a ride aff them bare-backed.--Keck,
keck, keck.  Wha's neist?"

"Gabriel Juniper, sir."

"Fashious, drucken neerdoweel--wash his saydel down wi' a gallon o' gin
and twa o' brandy.  He'll no be able to threep wi' me, for he's amaist
aye drunk noo--sin' he couldna keep his ain saydel the last time I saw
him on horseback, it's but richt he should pay for the lost ane--Keck,
keck, keck.  Noo, Saunders, ye're a decent lad, sae satisfy yere
conscience, and mind ye gie up, in shape o' discoont, at the
settlement, the amount o' aw the _fictitious_ items, _barring_ the
saydels and the grunstanes, though--mind that--barring the saydels and
the grunstanes.  Noo, soom up and close, ye deevil--soom up and close."

"Ah, custos," said Mr Turner, as the gentleman we were waiting for
entered, "glad to see you, glad to see you."  Here, having explained
how matters stood, his honour retired with us into Jacob Munroe's back
store.

"Well, namesake, how are you?" said Twig to the old man who owned the
small voice, and who now emerged and became visible, as he crept before
us and opened the door.

"Oo, fine, Maister Twig, fine--did ye fin' the accoonts against Roaring
River and Hector's Folly estates aw correct, Mr Twig?"

"Yes, all correct, all correct; only you have charged me a saddle too
many."

The old withered anatomy looked with a quizzical leer of his eye at
him, as much as to say, "have you overheard me, master Twig?--but I am
rich and don't care."

"Saunders," cried the old man, "I say, Saunders, bring the ink and _ae_
chair for the custos and the gentlemen," as if we all could have sat
upon _one_; "and, Abr_a_h_aa_m," to one of the store negroes, "shool
away that shell into a corner, and gie them room."

"Shell," said I, in some surprise; "why, is that great mass all
tortoise-shell?"

"Atweel is it, young gentleman; at least it is the shell of the
hawk's-bill turtle, which is the same thing.  That's the last cargo of
the Jenny Nettles, frae the Indian coast--she sould be up again aboot
this time, if she be na _cacht_ by they incarnate deevils o'
peerates--but she's weel assured, she's weel assured.  Why,
Saunders!--whar the deevil are ye, Saunders?"

"Here, sir," said the young man whom I had seen at the desk, as he
entered with writing materials in one hand, a chair for his _Honour_ in
the other, and a Bible (as he naturally concluded that some depositions
on oath were to be taken) _in his teeth_.  I paid no particular
attention to him until he startled me by suddenly dropping the chair on
Twig's toes, exclaiming, as he caught the Bible in his hand, "Gude hae
a care o' us, Mr Brail, is this you yeersell?"--And lo, who should
stand before me, but our old friend Lennox.

"Why, old shipmate, how are you?--I am glad to see you; but I thought
you had turned coffee-planter by this time?"

"And so I have, sir.  My uncle there sends me up the end of every week
to superintend his plantation in the mountains; but I am here for the
most part of my time in the store, helping him.  But where are you
lodging, Mr Brail?  I hope you will permit me to call on you; for I see
you are likely to be engaged at present."

I told him where I staid, and in few words what the reader knows
already regarding my Jamaica expectations and the cause of my visit;
farther, that I was about leaving town, but that I would not fail
having a chat with him soon, as I should no doubt be often at the bay.

The custos, after taking our depositions, wrote to the admiral at
Port-Royal, and to correspondents of his at all the outports, with an
outline of the circumstances, in case any of His Majesty's ships should
be there; and in the mean time it was determined that poor Hause, after
giving his underwriters in Kingston notice of his calamity, should
remain at Montego bay until it was seen what should turn up.  Here I
must do old Jacob Munroe justice.  Before the meeting broke up, he in
our presence invited him to stay in his house as long as it suited him.
Lennox, seeing I was surprised at this, whispered in my ear, that,
"Snell as his uncle was in business matters, the auld-farrant body had
a warm heart still to a fellow-creature in distress."

"Come along, Mr Brail," said Flamingo--"as we cannot make a start of it
this evening now, let us adjourn to our friend Sally's, and see what
entertainment she can provide for us; and then hey for Ballywindle at
daybreak to-morrow."

However, our troubles were not over for that day; for we had not
proceeded fifty yards on our way to our lodgings, when an ugly bloated
drunken-looking white man, with great flabby yellow cheeks, that shook
as he walked like flannel-bags full of jelly, and in a most profuse
perspiration, driven forth, I make no doubt, by a glorious rummer of
grog, came up to us, and touched both of us on the shoulder--most
people are rather sensitive regarding a touch thereabouts, so we faced
suddenly round.

"I warn you bote, gentlemen, to attend one coroner's inquest at Jacob
Munroe's wharf."

"The deuce you do?" said I.  "Pray, what authority have you for this,
my fine fellow?"

"De coroner's warrant, sir," producing it.

"Oh, we are nailed, Mr Brail," quoth Don Felix.  "Crowner's Quest law
is not to be disputed--no use in kicking.  So pray, my good man, do you
want any more jurors?"

"Indeed I do, sare.  You are de first I have warn as yet."

"Oh, then, do you see that red-faced gentleman coming round the corner
there?"

"Yesh, I do," said the man.

"Then bone him _instanter_, or he will bolt."  This was no less a
personage than Jacob Twig again.  The man on this made a detour, and
took our friend in flank, but the moment Jacob saw him he seemed to
suspect his object, and began to walk down the street very fast,
followed by the constable.  There was a narrow turning to the right,
near to where we stood, that led amongst a nest of _nanny_ houses, as
they are called, inhabited by brown free people, which was quite closed
up by a party washing clothes and a girl milking a cow beyond them.
How Jacob was to escape, if his evil genius should prompt him to try
this channel, I could not conceive.  As yet his sense of propriety had
only allowed him to get into a very fast walk.  Shamming deafness,
however, all the while, to the reiterated shouts of the constable, to
"stand in de Kin's name;" but the moment he opened the lane, off he
started, with the long skirts of his frogged coat streaming in the
wind, and his little glazed hat blazing in the sun like a meteor, or
the steel headpiece of one of Bonaparte's cuirassiers.

There was an old woman stooping down over her tub, right fronting him,
that is, facing him in an Irish fashion, for she looked t'other way
from him, and two younger ones, similarly employed on each side of her.
How he was to clear them and their tubs, and the cow beyond, was the
puzzle, as the projecting eaves of the two lines of small houses, whose
inmates were thus employed, nearly met overhead.  However, we were not
left long in suspense.  Massa Twig now quickened his pace, and clapping
his hands on the old lady's shoulders, cleared her and her tub cleverly
by a regular leap-frog, _tipping_ the heads of the two young women on
each flank with his toes, and alighted at the feet of the girl who was
milking the cow, which had not time to start before he followed up the
fun by vaulting on her back; and then charged down the lane through the
tubs and over the prostrate constable, passing us like a whirlwind, the
quadruped funking up her heels, and tossing the dry sand with her
horns, as if _startled_ by a myriad of gad-flies.  Both Flamingo and I
strained our eyes to follow him, as he flew along like smoke, careering
down the lane that ended in the sea.

"Why don't he throw himself off?" said I; "the frantic brute is making
straight for the water--it will drown him if he don't."

"Jump off, man--jump off," roared Don Felix.  But in vain; for the next
moment there was Jacob Twig of the Dream, in St Thomas in the East,
flashing and splashing in the sea, cow and all, an Irish illustration
of the fable of Europa.  Presently both biped and quadruped were in
deep water, when they parted company, and all that we could see was a
glazed hat and a red face, and a redder face and a pair of horns,
making for the shore again as fast as they could.

"Now, Twig is cheap of that," quoth Flamingo.  "He is always aiming at
something out of the way, and certainly he has accomplished it this
time; but, see, there are people about him, so he is safe."

However, we were boned, and could not escape, so having lost sight of
him, we waited until the poor constable, a German, had gathered himself
up and joined us.--"And now, Master Constable, lead the way, if you
please."

"Who is dat mans, as is mad?" quoth he, as soon as he could speak.

"Mr Purvis of Tantallon, near Lacovia," said Flamingo, as grave as a
judge.

"What a thumper," thought I Benjie.

We arrived at the wharf, when the coroner immediately impanelled the
jury, and we proceeded to view the body of the poor fellow who had been
murdered.  It was lying on the wharf, covered with the sail as we had
left it; from under which, notwithstanding the short time it had been
exposed, thick fetid decomposed matter crept in several horrible
streams, and dripped into the clear green sea beneath, through the
seams of the planking, where the curdling blue drops were eagerly
gobbled up by a shoal of small fish; while a myriad of large
blue-bottles rose with a loud hum from the cloth, as it was removed on
our approach, but only to settle down the next moment more thickly than
before, on the ghastly spectacle.--Bah.--Even in the short period that
the body had been in the water, the features were nearly obliterated,
and the hands much gnawed; three of the fingers were gone entirely from
the left.  The windpipe and gullet were both severed with a horrible
gash, and there was a deep bruised indentation across the forehead, as
if from the heavy blow of a crowbar, or some other blunt weapon.  There
was no doubt on earth but that the poor fellow had been surprised and
met his death by violence, and so suddenly that he could not give the
alarm; so a verdict was accordingly returned of "wilful murder, against
a person or persons unknown."

By the time we returned to our lodgings we found Massa Twig fresh
rigged after his exertions, and as full of frolic and oddity as ever.

"Did you ever see a female bull so well actioned before, Felix?" said
he.

"Never," replied his friend,--"took the water like a spaniel too--must
be accustomed to the sea--an Alderney cow, I suppose, Twig, eh?"

This evening passed on without any thing further occurring worth
recording.

Next morning, Lennox came to see me off, and gave me all his news.  I
was exceedingly glad to learn that the poor fellow was so happily
situated, and promised to call on him the first time I came to the bay.

While lounging about the piazza before breakfast, I noticed our friend
Quacco busily employed cleaning a fowling-piece.

"Whose gun is that, Quacco?"

"Massa Flamingo's, sir."

"Let me see it--a nice handy affair--Purdy, I perceive--comes to my
shoulder very readily, beautifully."

"Wery clever leetle gone, for sartain, massa; but all de caps dem
spoil, sir.  See de powder--percossion dem call--quite moist, and
useless."  By this time he had fitted on one of the copper caps, and
snapped the piece, but it was dumb.  "I am going to fill de caps wid
fresh powder, massa; but really dis percossion powder too lively,
massa--only see"--and he gave a few grains of it a small tip with the
shank of the bullet mould, when it instantly flashed up.

"Master Quacco," said I, "mind your hand; that is dangerous stuff.
Tell Mr Flamingo to be wary also, or he will be shooting people, for it
is wrong mixed, I am certain."

"Wery trang, wery trang for sartain, massa--but no fear in my hand--for
I is armourer, as well as waiting gentleman--oh, ebery ting is I
Quacco."

"Confound your self-conceit."

Here Flamingo and Twig came in.

"Good morning, Mr Brail."

"Good morning."

"All ready for the start, I see," said Twig.  "Why, Felix, what is Mr
Brail's man doing with your gun?"

"Cleaning it, and filling these caps anew with fresh percussion powder:
the old has mildewed, or got damp, he tells me.  Indeed, the last time
I shot, it was not one in three that exploded."

"Mind how you play with those caps," said I; but before I could
proceed----

"Sally, make haste and get breakfast," bawled Twig.  "_Do you hear?_"

"Yes, massa," squeaked Sal from the profundities of the back premises.

"Why, Felix," continued our friend, "there has been another burglary
last night: My _spleuchan_, as Rory Macgregor calls it, has been
ravished of its treasures."

"How poetical you are this morning!--mounted on your Pegasus, I see,"
rejoined Felix.

"Better that than the horned animal that led me such a dance
yesterday," quoth his friend, laughing.  "But, joking apart, your man
Twister must have mistaken my tobacco for his own: He has emptied my
tobacco-pouch, as sure as fate, for none of my own people _eat_ it; and
the fellow has always that capacious hole in his ugly phiz filled with
it--with my prime patent chewing tobacco, as I am a gentleman."

"Really," said Felix, who detested tobacco in all shapes, as I learned
afterwards, with an accent conveying as clearly as if he had said
it--"I am deuced glad to hear it."  Then, "Confound it, are we never to
get breakfast?  But when did you miss it, Jacob?"

"Why, when we got out to ride over Mount Diablo, at the time the boys
were leading the gig-horses;--don't you recollect that I had to borrow
Twister's spurs, as Dare-devil always requires a persuader when a
donkey is in the path, and there were half-a-dozen, you know?  So,
stooping to adjust them, out tumbled my spleuchan, it appears.  I did
not know it at the time, indeed not until we were getting into the gig
again, when Twister handed the pouch, that was so well filled when it
dropped, as lank and empty as your own carcass, Flam."

"Poo, poo! what does it signify?" said his ally.  "A fair exchange,
Twig--tobacco for spurs, you know--a simple _quid pro quo_."

"Shame!" said Jacob; "I thought you were above picking up such crumbs,
Felix.  But here is breakfast--so, come."

We finished it; and as we were getting ready, I noticed Quacco and
Massa Twig in earnest confabulation, both apparently like to split with
suppressed laughter.  At some of the latter's suggestions, our sable
ally absolutely doubled himself up, while the tears were running over
his cheeks.  Immediately afterwards, Quacco began to busy himself,
boring some of the small hard seeds of the sand-box tree with his
pricker, and filling them with something; and then to poke and pare
some pieces of Jacob's patent flake tobacco with a knife, stuffing it
into the latter's tobacco-pouch.  However, I paid no more attention to
them, and we started; my cousin Teemoty driving me in a chartered gig.

We shoved along at a brisk rate, close in the wake of Mr Twig's
voiture, and followed by a _plump_ of black cavaliers--a beautiful
little sumpter-mule, loaded with two portmanteaus, leading the
cavalcade; while Mr Flamingo's servant Twister pricked a-head, for the
twofold purpose of driving the mule and clearing the road of
impediments, such as a few stray jackasses, or a group of negroes going
to market, neither of whom ever get out of one's way.

After proceeding about ten miles, the road wound into a cocoa-nut grove
close to the beach; indeed, the beach _became_ the road for a good
mile, with the white surf rolling in and frothing over the beautiful
hard sand, quickly obliterating all traces of the wheels.  Macadam was
at a discount here.  One fine peculiarity of the West India seas is,
independent of their crystal clearness, they are always brimfull--no
steamy wastes of slush and slime, no muddy tideways.  And overhead the
sea-breeze was whistling through the tall trees, making their long
feather-like leaves rustle and _rattle_ like a thousand watchmen's
alarms sprung in the midst of a torrent of rain, or a fall of _peas_.

"Hillo! what is that?" as a cocoa-nut fell bang into the bottom of my
gig, and bounded out again like a foot-ball.

"Oh, only a cocoa-nut," said Twig, looking over his shoulder with the
usual knowing twist of his mouth, but without pulling up.

"Only a cocoa-nut!  But it would have fractured a man's skull, I
presume, if it had struck him."

"A white man's certainly," quoth Flamingo, with all the coolness in
life, as if it had fallen a hundred miles from me, in place of barely
shaving the point of my nose: "But it _has not_ hit you--a miss is as
good as a mile, you know; so suppose we go and bathe until they get
dinner ready yonder.  Let us send the boys on to the tavern to order
dinner.  We are within two miles of it, Jacob--eh?"

"No, no," quoth Twig; "come along a quarter of a mile further, and I
will show you a nook within the reef where we shall be safe from John
Shark, or rather the sharks will be safe from Flamingo's bones there.
He would be like a sackful of wooden ladles tossed to them.  The fish
would find him as digestible as a bag of nutcrackers, seasoned with
cocoa-nut shells--ah!--but come along, come along.  Oh such a bath, Mr
Brail, as I will show you!"

We left the cocoa-nut grove, and when we arrived at the spot indicated
we got out to reconnoitre.  There was a long reef, about musket-shot
from the beach at the widest, on the outside of which the swell broke
in thunder, the strong breeze blowing the spray and flakes of frothy
brine back in our faces, even where we stood.

The reef, like a bow, hemmed in a most beautiful semicircular pool of
green sea water, clear as crystal; its surface darkened and crisped by
tiny blue sparkling wavelets, which formed a glorious and pellucid
covering to the forest, if I may so speak, of coral branches and
seaferns that covered the bottom, and which, even where deepest, were
seen distinctly in every fibre.  When you held your face close to the
water, and looked steadily into its pure depths, you saw the bottom at
three fathoms perfectly alive, and sparkling with shoals of fishes of
the most glowing colours, gamboling in the sun, birdlike amongst the
boughs, as if conscious of their safety from their ravenous comrades
outside; while nothing could be more beautiful than the smooth
sparkling silver sand as the water shoaled towards the beach.  The last
was composed of a belt of small transparent pebbles, about ten yards
wide, overhung by a rotten bank of turf of the greenest and most
fragrant description, that had been only sufficiently undermined by the
lap lapping of the water at tempestuous spring-tides (at no time rising
here above three feet), to form a continuous although rugged bench the
whole way along the shore.

"Now, if one were riding incautiously here, he might break his horse's
leg without much trouble," quoth Don Felix.

"Why, Jacob, speaking of horsemanship, how did you like your style of
immersion yesterday?--a novel sort of bathing-machine, to be sure."

"You be hanged, Felix," quoth his ally, with a most quizzical grin, as
he continued his peeling.

"Do you know I've a great mind to try an equestrian dip myself,"
persisted his friend.  "Here, Twister--take off Monkey's saddle, and
bring him here."

"Oh, I see what you would be at," said Jacob.  "Romulus, bring me
Dare-devil--so"--and thereupon, to my great surprise and amazement, it
pleased my friends to undress under a neighbouring clump of trees, and
to send the equipages and servants on to the tavern, about half a mile
distant.  They then mounted two led horses, bare-backed, with watering
bits, and, naked as the day they were born, with the exception of a red
handkerchief tied round Mr Twig's head and down his redder cheeks, they
dashed right into the sea.

As cavalry was an arm I had never seen used with much effect at sea, I
swam out to the reef, and there _plowtering_ about in the dead water,
under the lee of it, enjoyed the most glorious shower-bath from the
descending spray, that flew up and curled far overhead, like a snow
storm, mingled with ten thousand miniature rainbows.  I had cooled
myself sufficiently, and was leisurely swimming for the shore.

"Now this is what I call bathing," quoth Twig, as he kept meandering
about on the snorting Dare-devil, who seemed to enjoy the dip as much
as his master--"I would back this horse against Bucephalus at swimming."

Here Flamingo's steed threw him, by rearing and pawing the water with
his fore legs and sinking his croup, so that his master, after an
unavailing attempt to mount him again, had to strike out for the beach,
the animal following, and splashing him, as if he wanted to get on
_his_ back by way of a change.

"And that's what I call swimming," roared Don Felix.  But he scarcely
had uttered the words when the horse made at him in earnest, and I
thought he had struck him with the near fore-foot.

"And that's what I call drowning," thought I, "or something deuced like
it."

However, he was really a good swimmer, and got to shore safe.

Master Twister had been all this time enacting groom of the stole to
the two equestrian bathers, and so soon as he had arrayed them, we
proceeded to the tavern, dined, and after enjoying a cool bottle of
wine, continued our journey to Ballywindle, which we hoped to reach
shortly after nightfall.

The sun was now fast declining; I had shot ahead of my two cronies and
their outriders, I cannot now recollect why, and we were just entering
a grove of magnificent trees, with their hoary trunks gilded by his
setting effulgence, when Twister's head (he had changed places with
Cousin Teemoty, and was driving me) suddenly, to my great alarm, gave a
sharp crack, as if it had split open, and a tiny jet of smoke puffed
out of his mouth--I was all wonder and amazement, but before I could
gather my wits about me, he jumped from the voiture into the dirty
ditch by the side of the road, and popped his head, ears and all, below
the stagnant green scum, while his limbs, and all that was seen of him
above water, quivered in the utmost extremity of fear.

As soon as Twig and Flamingo came up, I saw that neither they nor
Serjeant Quacco could contain themselves for laughter.  The latter was
scarcely able to sit his mule--at length he jumped, or rather tumbled,
oft, and pulled Twister out by the legs; who, the instant he could
stand, and long before he could see for the mud that filled his eyes,
started up the road like a demoniac, shouting, "Obeah, Obeah!" which so
frightened the sumpter-mule, that he was by this time alongside of,
that she turned and came down, rattling past us like a whirlwind, until
she jammed between the stems of two of the cocoa-nut trees with a most
furious shock, when lo! the starboard portmanteau she carried burst and
blew up like a shell, and shirts, trowsers, nightcaps, and
handkerchiefs, of all colours, shapes, and sizes, were shot hither and
thither, upwards and downwards, this side and that, until the
neighbouring trees and bushes were hung with all manner of garments and
streamers, like a pawnbroker's shop.

Twig shouted, "There--that's your share of the joke, Felix--there goes
your patent portmanteau with the Bramah lock--see if the very
brimstones in which you gloried be not streaming like a commodore's
broad pennant from the top of the orange tree.  The green silk
night-cap on the prickly pear--and the shirts and the vests, and the
real bandanas--ha, ha, ha!"

"Ay, ay," shouted Flamingo, who had dismounted and was endeavouring to
catch the mule as she careered through the wood towards the sea,
kicking and flinging in a vain attempt to disentangle herself from the
other portmanteau, which had now turned under her belly, and the
sumpter-saddle that hung at her side; "and there goes your kit, Jacob,
an offering to Neptune bodily, mule and all"--as the poor beast dashed
into the surf, after having threaded through the stems of the trees
without farther damage.

The cause of all this was no longer a mystery, for I had made my guess
already; but presently I was enlightened, if need had been, by friend
Quacco.  He had, it appeared, with Mr Twig's sanction, charged certain
of the pieces of patent tobacco in the _spleuchan_ with several small
quantities of detonating powder, enclosed in the glass-brittle seeds of
the sand-box, as a trap for Master Twister, who was suspected of making
free with it--the issue, so far as he was concerned, has been seen; but
in the hurry of coming away and packing up, instead of placing the
bottle containing the powder in Mr Flamingo's gun-case, where it should
have been, he hurriedly dropped it into his portmanteau, as Twister was
packing it; so that when the sumpter mule jambed between the trunks of
the trees after it took fright it exploded and blew up.

"I say, Massa Twister, you never make free with my patent tobacco?"

"Oh, oh, oh!" roared poor Twister, holding his jaws with both
hands--"Oh, massa, my tongue blow out--my palate blow down--de roof of
my mouse blow up--and all my teets blow clean gan--Oh no, massa, never,
never will touch him no more, massa--never, never no more."

"I'll answer for it you don't, my boy," quoth Jacob.

After picking up the fugitive and clambered garments as well as we
could, we travelled onwards for about two miles, when we struck inland,
and as the night fell entered a dark tree-shaded ravine, with a
brawling brook rushing through the bottom, up which we threaded our way
by a narrow road scarped out of the red earth of the hill side.

"Now, Mr Brail, give your horse the rein--let him pick his own steps,
if you please; for the road is cruelly cut up by the weather and
waggons hereabouts, and none of the widest either, as you may _feel_,
for you can't see it."

I took his advice, and soon found the advantage of it, as we came to
several groups of negroes sitting invariably on the inner side of the
road, which I would certainly have been tempted to avoid at my own
peril; but my horse was not so scrupulous, for he always poked his nose
between them and the bank, and snorted and nuzzled until they rose and
shuffled out of our way, either by creeping to the side next the
ravine, or up on the bank; presently the road widened, and we got along
more comfortably.

I could not but admire the thousands and tens of thousands of
fire-flies that spangled the gulf below us, in a tiny galaxy; they did
not twinkle promiscuously, but seemed to emit their small green lights
by signal, beginning at the head of the ravine, and glancing all the
way down in a wavy continuous lambent flash, every individual fly, as
it were, taking the time from his neighbour ahead.  Then for a moment
all would be dark again, until the stream of sparkles flowed down once
more from the head of the valley, and again disappeared astern of us;
while the usual West India concert of lizards, beetles, crickets, and
tree toads, filled the dull ear of night with their sleepy monotony.

The night soon began to be heavily overcast, and as we entered below
some high wood the darkness would have become palpable, had it not been
for the fire-flies,--even darkness which might have been felt.

"I must heave to until I get my bat's eyes shipped, Mr Twig," said
I--"I can't see an inch before my nose."

"Then send Flamingo ahead, my dear fellow, for if he sees the _length_
of _his_ we shall do--his proboscis is long enough to give us warning
of any impediment."

"What a clear glowworm-coloured light some of these insects do give,"
quoth I: "See that one creeping up the handle of my whip--it comes
along with its two tiny burners, like the lights in a distant carriage
rolling towards you."

"Come, you must get on, though, since we have not room to pass--no time
to study natural philosophy," said Twig; and I once more fanned my
horse into a gentle trot, with very much the sensation of one running
through an unknown sound in the night, without either chart or pilot.

After a little, I saw a cluster of _red_ fire-flies, as I thought,
before us.  "Oh, come along, I see now famously."

"Oh massa, massa!"--Crack!--I had got entangled with a string of mules
going to fetch a last turn of canes from the field; the red sparks that
I had seen ahead having proceeded from the pipes in the mouths of the
drivers.  However there was no great damage done.

The rain now began to descend in torrents, with a roar like a
cataract.--"What uncommonly pleasant weather," thought I.  "Why, Mr
Twig, you see I am a bad pilot--so, do you think you have room to pass
me now? for, to say the truth, I don't think I can see a yard of the
road, and you know I am an utter stranger here."

He could not pass, however, and at length I had to set Master Teemoty
to lead the horse.  Presently I heard a splash.

"Hilloa, cousin Teemoty! where have you got to?"

"De Fairywell no tell lie, massa--De Devil's Golly,[1] dat has been dry
like one bone for tree mont, hab _come down_, massa--dat all."


[1] Gully--ravine or river course.


"Come _down_," said I; "I wish it had stayed _up_!"

"Ah!" said Twig,--"and we are to sleep here in the cold and damp, I
suppose--the fellow's a fool, and must have got off the path into some
puddle.  We are a mile from the gully--let me see"--and before you
could have turned, Massa Jacob was splashing up to the knees alongside
of Massa Teemoty.  However, he was right--it was only a streamlet--and
we got across without much difficulty; but in ten minutes the roar of a
large torrent, heard hoarse and loud above the sound of the rain, gave
convincing proof that we were at length approaching the
gully--moreover, that it was down, and that with a vengeance.  We now
found ourselves amongst a group of negroes, who had also been stopped
by the swollen stream.  There was a loud thundering noise above us on
the left hand, which (we had now all alighted) absolutely shook the
solid earth under our feet, as if in that direction the waters had been
pitched from the mountain side headlong over a precipice.  From the
same quarter, although quite calm otherwise, a strong cold wind gushed
in eddies and sudden gusts, as if from a nook or valley in the
hill-side, charged with a thick, wetting spray, that we could feel
curling and boiling about us, sometimes stronger and sometimes weaker,
like the undulations of a London fog.  Close to our feet we could hear
the river tearing past us, with a great rushing and gurgling,
occasionally intermingled with the rasping and crashing of trees and
floating spars, as they were dashed along on the gushes and swirls of
the stream; while every now and then the _warm_ water (for so it felt
in contrast with the cold damp night-breeze) surged a foot or two
beyond its usual level, so as to cover us to the ankle, and make us
start back; and immediately ebb again.  It was some time, amidst this
"groan of rock and roar of stream" before we could make out any thing
that the negroes about us said.

"Hillo," cried Twig--to be heard by each other we had to shout as loud
as we could--"hillo, friend Felix, here's a coil--what shall we
do--sleep here, eh?"

"We shall sleep soft, then," roared his friend in reply.

"As how, my lord?"

"Why, you may have mud of all consistencies, and of any depth."

"True, _water_ beds are all the fashion now, and possibly _mud_ ones
might be an improvement; but had we not better try back," I continued,
as I really began to think it no joke remaining where we were all night.

"A good idea," said Twig.

"About ship, then," quoth Flamingo.

"Wery good plan, wery good plan," shouted Cousin Teemoty; "but"----

"But, but, but--oh, confound your _buts_," roared Twig; "_but what_,
sir?"

"Oh," said Tim, whose dignity was a little hurt, "noting, noting--no
reason why massa should not return--only Carrion-crow gully dat we lef
behind, will, by dis time, be twenty time more _down_ as dis, _dat
all_."

"And so it will--the boy is right," rejoined Jacob; "What is to be
done?  Stop--I see, I see."

"The deuce you do! then you have good eyes," quoth Felix.

"I say, Flamingo, pick me up a stone that I can sling, and hold your
tongue; do, that's a good fellow."

"Sling? where is the Goliah you mean to attack?"

"Never you mind, Flam, but pick me up a stone that I can tie a string
to, will ye?--There, you absurd creature, you have given me one as
round and smooth as a cricket ball; how can I fasten a string round
_it_?--give me a longish one, man--one shaped like a kidney-potato or
your own nose, you blundering good-for-nothing--ah, that will do.  Now,
some string, boys--string."

Every negro carries a string of one kind or another with him in the
crown of his hat, and three or four black paws were in an instant
groping for Jacob Twig's hand in the dark with pieces of twine.

"Hillo, what is that?" as an auxiliary-current, more than ankle deep,
began to flow down the road with a loud ripple from behind us, thus
threatening to cut off our retreat--"Mind we are not in a scrape here!"
cried I.

"If we be, we can't better it," shouted Twig--"Here, gentlemen, give me
your cards, will ye?'

"Cards--cards!" ejaculated Flamingo and I in a breath.

"Yes--your calling-cards; do grope for them--make haste."

He got the cards, and all was silent except the turmoil of the elements
for a few seconds.  At length, in a temporary lull of the rain, I
thought I heard the shout of a human voice from the opposite bank,
blending with the roar of the stream.

"Ay, ay," cried Jacob--"there, don't you hear people on the other
side?--so here goes."

"Hillo, who the deuce has knocked off my hat?" cried Flamingo.

"Why don't you stand on one side then, or get yourself shortened by the
knees? such a steeple is always in the way," bawled Twig.  "Leave me
scope to make my cast now, will ye--don't you _see_ I want to throw the
stone with the cards across amongst the people on the opposite
bank--There," and he made another cast--"ah, I have caught a fish this
time--more string, Teemoty--more string--or they will drag it out of my
hand.  Now some one has got a precious pelt on the skull with the
kidney potato, Felix, as I am a gentleman; but he understands us,
whoever he may be that has got hold of it--feel here--how he jerks the
string without hauling on it--wait--wait!"

Presently the line was let go at the opposite side, and our friend
hauled it in--it had been cut short off, and instead of the stone and
cards, a negro clasp knife was now attached to it.

"There--didn't I tell you--there's a barbarian telegraph for
you--there's a new invented code of signals--now you shall see how my
scheme will work," cried Jacob.  However, near a quarter of an hour
elapsed without any thing particular occurring, during which time, we
distinctly heard shouting on the other side, as if to attract our
attention, but we could not make out what was said.

At length we observed a red spark, glancing and disappearing like a
will-o'-the-wisp as it zigzagged amongst the dark bushes, down the hill
side above.  Presently we lost sight of it and all was dark again.
However, just as I began to lose all hope of the success of Massa
Twig's device, the light again appeared coming steadily down the road
opposite us.  It approached the impassable ford, and we now saw that it
was a lantern carried by a negro, who was lighting the steps of a short
squat figure of a man, dressed in a fustian coatee and nankeen
trowsers, with an umbrella over his head.  "I've caught my fish--I've
caught my fish--Rory Macgregor himself, or I am a baboon," shouted
Twig, as the party he spoke of came down to the water's edge, and,
holding up the lantern above his head, peered across the gully with
outstretched neck, apparently in a vain attempt to make us out.

By the light we saw a whole crowd of poor, drenched, stormstaid devils,
in their blue pennistone greatcoats, shivering on the opposite bank.
The white man appeared to be giving them instructions, as two of them
immediately disappeared up the hill-side, whence he had descended;
while several of the others entered a watchman's hut that we could
observe close to the waterside, and fetched some wood and dry branches
from it, with which they began to kindle a fire under a projecting
cliff, which soon burned up brightly, and showed us whereabouts we were.

The scene was striking enough.  A quantity of dry splinters of some
kind of resinous wood being heaped on the fire, it now blazed up
brilliantly in massive tongues of flame, that glanced as they twined up
the fissures, scorching the lichens into sudden blackness, and licking,
like fiery serpents, the tortuous fretwork of naked roots depending
from the trees that grew on the verge of the bank above, which spread
like a net over the face of the bald grey rock; and lighting up the
fringe of dry fibres depending from the narrow eave of red earth that
projected over the brink of the precipice, under which the bank
appeared white and dusty, but lower down, where wet by the beating of
the rain, it was red, and glittering with pebbles, as if it had been
the wall of a salt mine in Cheshire.

The bright glare, and luminous smoke of the fire, in which a number of
birds, frightened from their perches, glanced about like sparks,
blasted the figures of such of the negroes as stood beyond it into the
appearance of demons--little Rory Macgregor looking, to use his own
phrase, like _the deil himsell_, while those of them who intervened
between us and the fire seemed magnified into giants--their dark bodies
edged with red flame; while every tree, and stock, and stone appeared
as if half bronze and half red-hot iron--a shadock growing close by,
looked as if hung with clusters of red-hot cannon balls.

Our own party was very noticeable.  I was leaning on the neck of my
gig-horse, with his eyes glancing, and the brazen ornaments of his
harness flashing like burnished gold.  Abreast of me were Massas Twig,
Flamingo, and Cosin Teemoty, wet as _muck_, and quite as steamy, to use
a genteel phrase, with our cold drenched physiognomies thrust into the
light, and the sparkling rain-drops hanging at our noses; Jacob's
glazed hat glancing as if his caput had been covered with a glass
porringer; while the group of mounted negroes and led horses in the
background, with the animals pawing and splashing in the red stream
that ran rippling and twinkling down the road, and the steam of our
rapid travelling rising up like smoke above them, gave one a very
lively idea of a cavalry picquet on the _qui vive_.

On our larboard hand the mountain ascended precipitously, in all the
glory of magnificent trees, sparkling with diamond water-drops,
stupendous rocks, and all that sort of thing; with the swollen waters
thundering and chafing, and foaming down a dark deep cleft over a ledge
of stone about thirty feet high, in a solid mass, which in the descent
took a spiral turn, as if it had been ejected from a tortuous channel
above, and then sending up a thick mist, that rose boiling amongst the
dark trees.  From the foot of this fall the torrent roared along its
overflowing channel in whirling eddies that sparkled in the firelight,
towards where we stood; the red stream appearing, by some deception of
the sight, to be convex, or higher in the middle than the sides, and
semifluid, as if composed of earth and water; while trees, and
branches, and rolling stones were launched and trundled along as if
borne on a lava stream.

As we looked, the bodies of two bullocks and a mule came past, rolling
over and over, legs, tails, and heads, in much admired confusion.

On the starboard hand the ravine sunk down as dark as Erebus; and now
the weather clearing, disclosed in that direction, through storm-rents
of the heavy clouds, shreds of translucent blue sky, sparkling with
bright stars; and lo! the fair moon once more!--her cold, pale-green
light struggling with the hot red glare of the fire, as she reposed on
the fleecy edge of that dark----

"Confound it, what's that--what's that, Mr Twig?"

"An owl, Master Brail--an owl which the light has dazzled, and that has
flown against your head by mistake--but catch, man--catch"--as he
sprang into the water up to the knees to secure my hat, that the bird
of Minerva had knocked off--and be hanged to it.  "An owl may be a wise
bird, but it is a deuced blind one to bounce against your head as
unceremoniously as if it had been a pumpkin or a calabash."

Little Rory Macgregor had all this time remained at the edge of the
stream, squatted on his hams like a large bull-frog, and apparently, if
we could judge from his action, shouting at the top of his voice; but
it was all dumb show to us, or very nearly so, as we could not make out
one word that he said.

Flamingo confronted him, assuming the same attitude.  "See how he has
doubled up his long legs--there, now--said the grasshopper to the
frog," quoth Twig to me.  Here friend Felix made most energetic signs,
a-la Grimaldi, that he wanted some food and drink.

Rory nodded promptly, as much as to say, "I understand you;" indeed it
appeared that he had taken the hint before, for the two men that we had
seen ascend the mountain-road, now returned; one carrying a joint of
roast meat and a roast fowl, and the other with a bottle in each hand.

The puzzle now was, "how were the good things to be had across?" but my
friends seemed up to every emergency.  In a moment Flamingo had
ascended a scathed stump that projected a good way over the gully, with
Twig's string and stone in his hand; the latter enabling him to pitch
the line at Rory's feet, who immediately made the joint of meat fast,
which Don Felix swung across, and untying it, chucked it down to us who
stood below; the fowl, and the rum, and the bottle of lemonade, or
beverage, as it is called in Jamaica, were secured in like manner.

"So," said our ally, "we shan't starve for want of food, anyhow,
whatever we may do of cold."  But we were nearer being released than we
thought; for suddenly, as if from the giving way of some obstruction
below that had dammed up the water in the gully, it ebbed nearly two
feet, of which we promptly availed ourselves to pass over to the other
side of the Devil's Gully.  But, notwithstanding, this was a work of no
small difficulty, and even considerable danger.  Being safely landed,
and having thanked Mr Macgregor, who owned a very fine coffee property
in the neighbourhood, for his kindness, we mounted our vehicles once
more, and drove rapidly out of the defile, now lit by the moon, and in
a quarter of an hour found ourselves amongst the _Works_; that is, in
the very centre of the mill-yard of Ballywindle.



CHAPTER VIII.

MY UNCLE.

Here, late as it was, all was bustle and activity; the boiling-house
was brilliantly lighted up, the clouds of white luminous vapour
steaming through the apertures in the roof; while the negroes feeding
the fires, sheltered under the stokehole arches from the weather, and
almost smothered amongst heaps of dry cane-stalks, or trash, as it is
called, from which the juice had been crushed, looked in their glancing
nakedness like fiends, as their dark bodies flitted between us and the
glowing mouths of the furnaces.  A little farther on we came to the two
cone-roofed mill-houses, one of which was put in motion by a spell of
oxen, the other being worked by mules, while the shouting of the
drivers, the cries of the boilermen to the firemakers to make stronger
fires, the crashing of the canes as they were crushed in the mills, the
groaning and squealing of the machinery, the spanking of whips, the
lumbering and rattling of wains and waggons, the hot dry axles
screaming for grease, and the loud laugh and song rising occasionally
shrill above the Babel sounds, absolutely confounded me.

We stopped at the boiling-house door, and asked the book-keeper on
duty, a tall cadaverous-looking young man, dressed in a fustian jacket
and white trowsers, who appeared more than half asleep, if the overseer
was at home.  He said he was, and, as we intended to leave our horses
at his house, we turned their heads towards it, guided by one of the
negroes from the mill.

The peep I had of the boiling-house was very enlivening;--for,
independently of the regular watch of boiler-negroes, who were ranged
beside the large poppling and roaring coppers, each having a bright
copper laddie, with a long shank like a boathook, in his hands, it was
at this time filled with numbers of the estate's people, some getting
hot liquor, others sitting against the wall, eating their suppers by
the lamp light, and not a few quizzing and loitering about in the mist
of hot vapour, as if the place had been a sort of lounge, instead of a
busy sugar manufactory--a kind of sable _soirée_.

By the time we arrived in front of the overseer's house, we found the
door surrounded by a group of four patriarchal-looking negroes and an
old respectable-looking negro woman.  The men were clad in Osnaburg
frocks, like those worn by waggoners in England, with blue frieze
jackets over them, and white trowsers.  The old dame was rigged in a
man's jacket also, over as many garments apparently as worn by the
grave-digger in Hamlet.  I had never seen such a round ball of a body.
They were all hat-in-hand, with Madras handkerchiefs bound round their
heads, and leaning on tall staffs made from peeled young hardwood
trees, the roots forming very fantastical tops.  Their whips were
twisted round these symbols of office, like the snakes round the
caduceus of their tutelary deity, Mercury.  These were the drivers of
the various gangs of negroes on the estate, who were waiting to receive
busha's[1] orders for the morrow.


[1] The West India name for overseer, or manager of an estate; a
corruption, no doubt, of bashaw.


On seeing us, the overseer hastily dismissed his levee, and ordered his
people to take charge of our horses.

"Mr Frenche is at home, I hope?" said Mr Twig.

"Oh, yes, sir--all alone up at the _great_ house there," pointing to a
_little_ shed of a place, perched on an insulated rocky eminence, to
the left of the abode he himself occupied, which overlooked the works
and whole neighbourhood.

This hill, rising as abruptly from the dead level of the estate as if
it had been a rock recently dropped on it,--rather a huge areolite, by
the way,--was seen in strong relief against the sky, now clear of
clouds, and illuminated by the moon.

At the easternmost end of the solitary great house--in shape like a
Chinese pavilion, with a projecting roof, on a punch bowl, that adhered
to the sharp outline of the hill like a limpet to a rock--a tall
solitary palm shot up and tossed its wide-spreading, fan-like leaves in
the night wind high into the pure heaven.  The fabric was entirely
dark--not a soul moving about it--nothing living in the neighbourhood
apparently, if we except a goat or two moving slowly along the ridge of
the hill.  At the end of the house next the palm-tree there was a low
but steep wooden stair, with a landing-place at top, surrounded by a
simple wooden railing, so that it looked like a scaffold.

"There is Mr Frenche, sir," continued busha, pointing to the figure of
a man lounging in a low chair on the landing place, with his feet
resting on the rail before him, and far higher than his head, which
leant against the wall of the house, as if he had been a carronade
planted against the opposite hill.  Under the guidance of one of the
overseer's waiting boys, we commenced the zig-zag ascent towards my
uncle's dwelling, and as we approached, the feeling of desolateness
that pressed on my heart increased, from the extreme stillness of the
place even when near to it.  Light, or other indication of an inhabited
mansion, there was none--even the goats had vanished.

"Cold comfort in prospect for me," thought I; "but _allons_, let us
see,"--and we moved on until we came to a small outhouse beside a gate,
which seemed to open into the enclosure, in the centre of which stood
the solitary building.

"How terribly still every thing is about Mr Frenche's domicile," said
I, as we paused until Flamingo undid the fastening of the gate.  "And,
pray, what hovel is this that we have come to?"

"This?--Oh, it is the kitchen," quoth Twig.  "Stop, I will knock up the
people."

"Don't do any such thing," said Flamingo, who, I saw, was after some
vagary.  "Here, Mr Brail, get up the stair,"--we had now reached the
small platform on which the house stood,--"and creep under his legs,
will ye--there, get into the house and conceal yourself, and Twig and I
will rouse him, and have some fun before you make your appearance."

I gave in to the frolic of the moment, and slipped silently up the few
steps of the steep stair, as I was desired.  There, on the
landing-place, reposed, _al fresco_, Uncle Lathom, sure enough--his
chair swung back, his head resting on the door-post, and his legs
cocked up, as already described, on the outer railing of the stair.  He
was sound asleep, and snoring most harmoniously; but just as I stole
up, and was in the very act of creeping beneath the yoke to get past
him, I touched his limbs slightly; but the start made him lose his
balance and fall back into the house, and there I was, like a shrimp in
the claws of a lobster, firmly locked in the embrace of my excellent
relative--for although his arms were not round my neck, _his legs were_.

"Who is that, and what is that, and what have I got hold of now?"
roared Uncle Latham, in purest Tipperary.

"It is me, sir," I shouted as loud as I could bellow; for as we rolled
over and over on the head of the stair, I discovered he had spurs on;
but the devil a bit would he relax in his hold of my neck with his
legs,--"me, your dutiful nephew, Benjamin Brail--but, for goodness
sake, mind you have spurs on, uncle."

"My nephew--my nephew, Benjamin Brail, did you say?--Oh, murder, fire,
and botheration of all sorts--spurs, sir?--spurs?--Hookey, but I'll
find stronger fare than spurs for you--You are a robber, sir--a
robber--Murphy, you villain--Murphy--Dennis--Potatoblossom--bring me a
handsaw, till I cut his throat--or a gimblet--or any other deleterious
eatable--Oh, you thieves of the world, why don't you come and help your
master?--Lights, boys--lights--hubaboo!"

By this I had contrived to wriggle out of my Irish pillory, and to
withdraw my corpus into the house, where I crept behind a leaf of the
door--any thing to be out of the row.  I could now hear my uncle
crawling about the dark room like the aforesaid lobster, disconsolate
for the loss of its prey, arguing with himself aloud whether he were
awake, or whether it was not all a _drame_, as he called it;--and then
shouting for his servants at one moment, and stumbling against the
table, or falling rattle over a lot of chairs, that all seemed to have
placed themselves most provokingly in his way, the next.  During his
soliloquy, I heard Twig and Flamingo's suppressed laughter at the other
end of the room.  At length Mr Frenche thundered in his gropings
against the sideboard, when such a clash and clang of glasses arose, as
if he had been literally the bull in the china shop.

"Ah," he said, "it must be all a drame, and looking at people drinking,
has made me dry--so let me wet my whistle a bit--here's the beverage,
so--now--ah, this is the rum bottle--I know it by the smell--and what
the devil else should I know it by in the dark before tasting, I should
like to know?--he! he!--if I could but lay my paw on a tumbler now, or
a glass of any kind--not one to be found, I declare--Murphy, you
villain, why don't you come when I call you, sirrah?"--There was now a
concerto of coughing, and sneezing, and _oich, oiching_, and yawning,
as if from beneath.--"Will these lazy rascals never make their
appearance?" continued Mr Frenche, impatiently--"Well, I cannot find
even a teacup to make some punch in--hard enough this in a man's own
house, any how--but I have the materials--and--and--now, for the fun of
the thing--I will mix it Irish fashion--deuce take me if I don't," and
thereupon I heard him _gurgle, gurgle_ something out of one bottle--and
then a long _gurgle, gurgle, gurgle_, out of another, apparently, for
the gurgling was on different keys,--both followed by a long
expiration.  He then gave several jumps on the floor.

He had, as I guessed, first swallowed the raw caulker from the rum
decanter, and then sent down the lemonade to take care of it.  "Now,
that rum is very strong--stop, let me qualify it a bit with some more
beverage--how thirsty I am, to be sure--murder!--confound that
wide-necked decanter."  Here I could hear the liquid splash all over
him.  "There--so much for having a beautiful small mouth--why, Rory
Macgregor, with that hole in his face from ear to ear, would have drunk
you the whole bottle without spilling a drop, and here am I, suffocated
and drowned entirely, and as wet as if I had been dragged through the
Bog of Allan--Murphy, you scoundrel?"

Anon, two negro servants, stretching and yawning, each with a candle in
his hand, made their appearance, one in his shirt, with his livery coat
hanging over his head, the cape projecting forward, and a sleeve
hanging down on each side; the other had his coat on certainly, but
stern foremost, and not another rag of any kind or description
whatever, saving and excepting his Kilmarnock nightcap.

By the illumination which those ebony candlesticks furnished, I now
could see about me.  The room we were in was about twenty feet square,
panelled, ceiled, and floored--it looked like a large box--with
unpainted, but highly-polished hard-wood, of the colour of very old
mahogany--handsomer than any oak panelling I had ever seen.  There was
a folding door that communicated with the front piazza, out of which we
had scrambled---another, that opened into a kind of back dining-hall,
or large porch, and two on each hand, which opened into bedrooms.  A
sideboard was placed by the wall to the right, between the two bedroom
doors, at which stood a tall and very handsome elderly gentleman, who,
if I had not instantly known to be my uncle, from his likeness to my
poor mother, I might, after the adventures of the day, and the oddities
of _messieurs_ my friends--_the_ Twig of the Dream, and the Flamingo of
Peaweep, Snipe, and Flamingo--have suspected some quiz or practical
joke in the matter.

The gentleman, evidently not broad awake yet, was dressed in
light-coloured kerseymere small-clothes, top-boots, white vest, and
blue coat--he was very bald, with the exception of two tufts of
jet-black hair behind his ears, blending into very bushy whiskers.  His
forehead was round and beetling--you would have said he was somewhat
bullet-headed; had the obduracy of the feature not been redeemed by his
eyebrows, which were thick, well arched, and, like his hair and
whiskers, jet-black--and also by his genuine Irish sparklers, dark,
flashing, and frolicsome.

His complexion was of the clearest I had seen in Jamaica--I could never
have guessed that he had been above a few weeks from the "First gem of
the Sea,"--and his features generally large and well formed.  There was
a playful opening of the lips every now and then, disclosing nice ivory
teeth, and evincing, like his eyes, the native humour of his country.

"So, Master Murphy, you are there at last," said he.

"Yes, massa--yes, massa."

"Pray, can you tell me, Murphy, if any one has arrived here--any
stranger come into the house while I slept;" then _aside_, as the
players say, "or has it really and truly been all a _drame_?"

"No see noting, massa--nor nobody"--[_yawn_.]

"You didn't, oh--there, do you see any thing now?" said my uncle--as he
took the candle out of the black paw, and put the lighted end, with all
the composure in life, into Murphy's open mouth, where it shone through
his cheeks like a rushlight in a winter turnip, until it burned the
poor fellow, and he started back, overturning his sleepy coadjutor,
Dennis, headlong on the floor.  On which signal, Twig and Flamingo, who
were all this time coiled up like two baboons below the sideboard,
choking with laughter, caught Uncle Frenche by the legs, a limb a
piece, who thereupon set up a regular howl--"ach, murder! murder! it is
abducted, and ravished, and married against my will I shall
be--murder!"--as _he_ in turn capsized over the prostrate negroes, and
all was confusion and vociferation once more--until my two travelling
friends, who had cleverly slipped out of the _mêlée_, while my uncle
was clapperclawing with his serving-men, returned from the pantry,
whither they had betaken themselves; and now stood on the original
field of battle, the landing-place of the stair, each with a lighted
candle in his hand, and making believe to be in great amazement at the
scene before them.

"Heyday," quoth Twig, "what's the matter, Master Frenche?--what uproar
is this in the house?--we heard it at the Devil's Gully, two miles off,
believe me."

"Uproar?" shouted Uncle Lathom, still sitting on the floor, scratching
his poll--"uproar, were you pleased to say?--pray, who the mischief are
you, gentlemen, who conceive yourselves privileged to speak of any
little noise I choose to make in my own house?--tell me in an instant,
or by the powers I will shoot you for a brace of robbers"--clapping the
lemonade decanter, which had all this time escaped by a miracle, to his
shoulder, blunderbuss fashion.

Here gradually slewing himself round on his tail, and rubbing his eyes,
he at length confronted me, as I sat coiled up behind the leaf of the
door--"Why, _here_ is a second edition of my drame."  The very absurd
expression of face with which he said this, and regarded me, fairly
upset my gravity, already heavily taxed, and losing all control, I
laughed outright.

"Another of them! and who _may you be_, young gentleman?--_you_ seem to
find yourself at home, at any rate, I think."

"Come, come," said Flamingo--"enough of this nonsense--don't you know
your friends Twig and Flamingo, Mr Frenche?"

"Twig and Flamingo, did you say?--Twig and Flamingo--Twig--oh dear, oh
dear--it is no drame after all--my dear fellows, how are you?--why,
what a reception I have given you--you must have thought me mad?"  By
this time he had got on his legs again, and was welcoming my
fellow-travellers with great cordiality, which gave me time to resume
the perpendicular also.  "I am so glad to see you--why, Jacob, I did
not look for you until Tuesday next, but you are the welcomer, my good
boy--most heartily welcome--how wet you must have got, though--boys,
get supper--Felix, I am so rejoiced to see you--supper, you
villains--why, we shall have a night on't, my lads."

"Give me leave to introduce this young gentleman to you first," said
Twig, very gravely, leading me forward into the light, "your nephew, Mr
Benjamin Brail."

"My nephew!" quoth Mr Frenche--"why, there's my drame again--my
nephew!--when did he arrive?"--here he held a candle close to my face,
as if my nose had been a candle-wick, and he meant to light it; then
fumbling in his bosom with the other hand, he drew forth a miniature of
my mother--"my nephew!--my poor sister's boy, Benjie!--as like her as
possible, I declare--how are you, Benjamin?--oh, Benjie, I am rejoiced
to see you--my heart is full, full--how are"----And as the tear
glistened in his eye, he made as if he would have taken me in his arms,
when a sudden light seemed to flash on him, and he turned sharply round
to Twig--"If you are playing me a trick here, Jacob; if you are
trifling with the old man's feelings, and allowing his dearest wish on
earth to lead his imagination to deceive him in this matter"----

Twig held out his hand; I could notice that the kind-hearted fellow's
own eye was moist.  "You cannot seriously believe me capable of such
heartless conduct, Mr Frenche, with all my absurdities; believe me, I
would sooner cut off this right hand than play with the kindly feelings
or affections of any one, far less with those of my long-tried and
highly-esteemed friend;" and he shook my uncle's proffered paw warmly
as he spoke.

"Tol, lol, de roll--Murphy, Dennis--supper, you
villains--supper--Benjie, my darling, kiss me, my boy--I am so
happy--tol de roll"--here, in his joy and dancing, he struck his toe
sharply against the leg of a table; and as it was the member from
whence the gout had been but recently dislodged, the pain made him
change his tune with a vengeance; so he caught hold of the extremity in
one hand, and pirouetted, with my assistance, to an arm-chair.  But we
were all tired; therefore, suffice it to say, that we had an excellent
meal, and a drop of capital _hot_ whisky-punch--a rare luxury in
Jamaica--and were soon all happy and snoozing in our comfortable beds.

The first thing I heard next morning, before I got out of bed, was Mr
Rory Macgregor, the Samaritan to whom our cards had been carried the
night before, squealing about the house in his strong Celtic accent,
for he spoke as broad as he did the day he first left home, some twenty
years before.  He was too proud, I presume, to be obliged to the
_Englishers_, as he called them, even for a dash of their lingo.  He
had come to invite us to dine with him on the following day; and the
fame of my arrival having spread, a number of the neighbours also paid
their respects during the forenoon, so that my levee was larger than
many a German prince's.

Mr Macgregor, and the overseer of the neighbouring estate, remained
that day to dinner; the latter was also a Scotchman, a Lowlander, and
although I always resist first impressions when they are unfavourable,
still there was something about him that I did not like.  I felt a sort
of innate antipathy towards him.

From what I was told, and indeed, from what I saw, I knew that he was a
well-connected and a well-educated man, and both by birth and education
far above the status of an overseer on a sugar estate in Jamaica; but
he had bent himself, and stooped to his condition, instead of
dignifying by his conduct an honest although humble calling.

His manners had grown coarse and familiar; and after dinner, when we
were taking our wine, and Flamingo and Twig were drawing out little
Roderick, much to our entertainment, this youth chose to bring the
subject of religion on the table, in some way or other I cannot well
tell how.  My uncle, I think, had asked him if he had attended the
consecration of the new church or chapel, and he had made a rough and
indecent answer, expressing his thankfulness to _Heaven!_ that he was
above all bigotry, and had never been in a church, except at a funeral,
since he had left Scotland.  He was instantly checked by Mr Frenche,
who was unexpectedly warm on the subject; but it seems this was not the
first time he had offended in a similar way; so I was startled, and not
a little pleased at the _dressing_ he now received at the hands of my
usually good-natured uncle.

"Young gentleman," said he, with a gravity that I was altogether
unprepared for, "you compel me to do a thing I abhor at any time,
especially in my own house, and that is to touch on sacred subjects at
untimely seasons; but this is not the first time you have offended
under this roof, and I therefore am driven to tell you once for all,
that I never will allow any sneering at sacred subjects at my table.  I
just now asked you a simple and a civil question, and you have returned
me a most indecent and unchristian answer."

"Christian--Christian!" exclaimed the overseer; "you believe in those
things, I suppose?"

"I believe my Bible, sir," rejoined my uncle, "as I hope you do?"

"Oh!" said the overseer, "Mr Frenche has turned Methodist," and burst
into a vulgar laugh.

He had gone too far, however.  My uncle at this rose, and for several
seconds looked so witheringly at him, that, with all his effrontery, I
could perceive his self-possession evaporating rapidly.

"Methodist, sir--Methodist I am none, unless to believe in the religion
of my fathers be Methodism.  Heaven knows, whatever my belief may be,
my practice is little akin to what theirs was; but let me tell you,
once for all, although I am ever reluctant to cast national
reflections, it is your young Scotchmen, who, whatever they may have
been in their own country, and theirs we all know to be a highly
religious and moral one, become, when left to themselves in Jamaica,
beyond all comparison, the most irreligious of the whole community.
How this comes about I cannot tell; but I see, young man, false modesty
has overlaid your better sense, and made you ashamed of what should
have been your glory to avow, as it will assuredly be one day your
greatest consolation, if you are a reasonable being, when you come to
die.  At all events, if you do not believe what you have so improperly
endeavoured to make a jest of, I _pity_ you.  If you do believe, and
yet so speak, I _despise_ you; and I recommend you hereafter, instead
of blushing to avow the Christian principles that I know were early
instilled into your mind, to blush at your conduct, whenever it is such
as we have just witnessed; but let us change the subject.  I say,
Benjie, let us have a touch of politics--politics."

Here the kind-hearted old man's anxiety to smooth the downfall of the
sulky young Scotchman was so apparent, that we all lent a hand to help
him to gather way on the other tack; but our Scotch friend could not
stomach being shown up, or put down, whichever you may call it, so
peremptorily; and the first dinner I ate in mine uncle's house was any
thing but a pleasant one.

According to previous arrangement, we had the whole of the next
forenoon to ourselves.  Many a long and kindly family yarn was spun
between us; but as this is all parish news, I will not weary the reader
with it, simply contenting myself with stating, that, before we began
to prepare for our ride, I had more reason than ever to be grateful to
my dear uncle.

At two o'clock we mounted our horses, and set out, accompanied by
Messrs Twig and Flamingo, to dine with our Highland friend, Roderick
Macgregor, Esq.  We rode along the _interval_ or passage between two
large cane-pieces, the richest on the estate, which was situated in a
dead level, surrounded by low limestone hills.  By the way, the
locality of Ballywindle was very peculiar, and merits a word or two as
we scull along.  Stop, and I will paint it to the comprehension of all
the world, as thus--Take a punch bowl, or any other vessel you choose
approaching to the same shape, and fill it half full of black mould;
pop three or four lumps of sugar into the centre, so that they may
stick on the surface of the mould, without sinking above a half of
their diameter.  They are the works, boiling-house, still-house,
trash-houses, and mill-houses.  Then drop a large lump a little on one
side, and balance a very tiny one on the top of it, and you have the
small insulated hill on which the great house stands.  As for the edges
of the vessel, they are the limestone hills, surrounding the small
circular valley, the faces of them being covered with Guinea grass
pieces, sprinkled with orange and other fruit-trees; both grass and
trees finding their sustenance of black earth, as they best may,
amongst the clefts of the honey-combed limestone that crops out in all
directions, of which indeed the hills are entirely composed, without
any continuous superstratum of earth whatever.  You see the place now,
I suppose?  Well, but to make it plainer still--take a sheet of paper,
and _crumple_ it in your hand; then throw it on the table, and you have
a good idea of one of those hills, and not a bad one of the general
surface of the island taken as a whole.

The ridges of the hills were in this case covered with high wood.  So
now let us get hold of our yarn once more.  The field on the right
hand, from a large sink-hole, as it is called, or aperture in the
centre--I love to be particular--was called "Tom's Pot," and the cane
patch on the left, "Mammy Polder's Bottom."

I found that a level cane-piece, in such a situation, was always called
a _Bottom_.  Again, as for those sink-holes, or caverns in the rock, I
can compare them, from their sinuosities, to nothing more aptly than
the human ear.  They generally seem to be placed in situations where
they answer the purpose of natural drains to carry off the water; the
one in question, for instance, always receiving the drainings of the
little valley, and never filling; having a communication, beyond doubt,
with some of the numberless streamlets, gullies, or small rivers (hence
such natural syphons as the Fairywell), that cross one's path at every
turn in this "land of streams," as the name Jamaica imports in the
Charib tongue, as I have heard say.

The canes grew on each side of the interval, to the height of eighteen
or twenty feet; but as they did not arch overhead, they afforded no
shelter from the sun, although they prevented the breeze reaching us,
and it was in consequence most consumedly hot.

"Now for a cigar to _cool_ one," quoth Twig, chipping away, cigar in
mouth, with his small flint and steel, as we began to ascend the narrow
corkscrew path that spiralled through the rocky grass-piece bounding
the cane fields.

After we had zigzagged for a quarter of an hour on the face of the
hill, we attained the breezy summit, where the guinea grass-piece
ended, and entered, beneath the high wood, on a narrow bridle-path,
that presently led us through a guava plantation, the trees heavily
laden with the fruit, which makes a capital preserve, but is far from
nice to eat raw.  It is in shape and colour somewhat like a small
yellow pippin, with a reddish pulp, and the flavour being rather
captivating, I had demolished two or three, when Flamingo picked two
very fine ones, and shortened sail until I ranged alongside of him.  He
then deliberately broke first the one and then the other, and held up
the halves to me; they were both full of worms.

"Dangerous for cattle," quoth Don Felix, dryly.

"Come, that is rough wit, Flamingo," chimed in Twig.  "But never mind,
Mr Brail.  Cows _do_ die of bots sometimes hereabouts, after
trespassing; but then you know they also die of a surfeit of wet
clover.  At all events, there is nothing bucolical about you."

"Bots," thought I; "how remarkably genteel and comfortable, and what an
uncommonly delicate fruit for a dessert."

Leaving the guava jungle, we proceeded through a district that seemed
to have once been in cultivation, as all the high timber, with the
exception of a solitary mahogany or cedar here and there, was cut down,
and there was nothing to be seen but a thicket of palma Christi, or
castor oil bushes, on every side.  There had apparently been some heavy
showers on this table land during the time we had been winding up the
hill, as the bushes and long grass were sparkling brilliantly with
rain-drops, and the ground was heavily saturated with water.

"Hillo, Twig, my darling," sung out uncle Lathom, who was the sternmost
of all, except the servants, as we _strung_ along the narrow path in
single file "mind you take the road to the right there--it will save us
a mile."

"Ay, ay, sir," returned he of the Dream.

Master Flamingo, who was between him and me, was busy at this moment
with his fowling-piece, that he carried in his hand; the fame of
abundance of teal and quails in the Macgregor's neighbourhood having
reached him before starting.

"What a very beautiful bird that is, Mr Brail," here he pointed with
the gun to the huge branch of a cotton tree that crossed the path
overhead, where a large parrot was perched, looking at us; one moment
scratching its beak with its claws, and the next, peeping knowingly
down, and slewing its head first to one side and then to the other--a
parrot, amongst the feathered tribes, being unquestionably what a
monkey is amongst quadrupeds.

"I should like to bring that chap down now," said Flam, stopping in his
career, and damming us up in the narrow path, whereby we all became
clustered in a group about him; then suiting the action to the word,
he, without any farther warning, dropped the rein into the hollow of
his arm, and taking aim, let drive--and away went the whole party
helter skelter at the report, in every direction, by a beautiful
centrifugal movement.  If we had been rockets disposed like the spokes
of a cart-wheel, with the matches converging to a centre, and fired all
at once, we could scarcely have radiated more suddenly.  It was quite
surprising the precision with which we flew crashing through the wet
bushes, some of us nearly unhorsed amongst them, if the truth were
known:--and such shouting from whites and blacks, and uproarious
laughter, as we all got once more into sailing order!

"Now, friend Felix," said Twig, as he and his horse emerged from the
brushwood, with his pale yellow nankeens as dark with moisture as a wet
sail, his shirt frill and collar as if the garment had been donned
fresh from the washing-tub, and with the large silvery globules of
moisture as thickly clustered on the black silk frogs of his coat as
diamonds on the Dowager Lady Castlereagh's stomacher--there's a simile
for you,--"now, friend Felix--give one some notice next time you begin
your fusilade, if you please.  Why, did you ever see a pulk of Cossacks
on a forage, Mr Frenche?--I declare I am glad to find myself on the
beaten path again, for my horse took so many turns that I was fairly
dumfounded, and having no pocket-compass nor a sextant to take the sun
by--you perceive I have been at sea, Master Brail--I thought I should
have been lost entirely, until you should have been piloted to me some
days hence by the John Crows.  But ah, ye little fishes, what is
that--what _is_ that?"

It was neither more nor less than the sound of an ill-blown, yelling
and grunting bagpipe.  We rode on--the diabolical instrument squealing
louder and louder--until the path ended in a cleared space amidst the
brushwood, with a small one-story _wattled_ house in the centre, having
a little piazza in front, with a yard or two at each end, shut in with
wooden blinds, sadly bleached by the weather.  There was a group of
half-naked negroes squatting before it, and a number of little naked
black children, and a sprinkling of brown ones, running about, and
puddling in a dirty pond, amongst innumerable ducks, fowls of many
kinds, and at least a dozen pigs.  "No signs of any approach to famine
in the land at all events," thought I.

There was no rail or fence of any kind enclosing this building, which,
to all appearance, was neither more nor less than a superior kind of
negro-house.  It stood on the very edge--indeed was overshadowed by
some gigantic trees (beneath whose Babylonish dimensions it shrank to a
dog-kennel) of the high natural forest, a magnificent vista through
which opened right behind it, overarching a broken up and deeply rutted
road, the path, apparently, through which some heavy timber had been
drawn, it being part of Rory's trade to prepare mill-rollers and other
large pieces of hard-wood required for the estates below.

In front of this shed--full fig, in regular Highland costume, philabeg,
short hose, green coatee, bonnet and feather--marched the bagpiper,
whose strains had surprised us so much, blowing his instrument, and
strutting and swelling like a turkey-cock, to some most barbarous
mixture of "a gathering of the clans," and the negro tune of "Guinea
corn, I love for nyam you."

The fellow was a negro, and as black as the ace of spades--shade of
Ossian, let thy departed heroes hereafter recline on clouds of tobacco
smoke--and as we approached he "loud and louder blew," to the great
discomfiture of our whole party, as the animals we bestrode seemed to
like the "chanter" as little as they had done the report of Flamingo's
gun, one and all resolutely refusing, as if by common consent, to face
the performer--so there we were, jammed, snorting, and funking, and
splashing each other to the eyes with mud of the complexion and
consistency of _peas brose_, in the narrow path; Twig and I, the head
of the column, as it were, being the only individuals visible on the
fringe of the brushwood.

"I say, Rory--Rory Macgregor," shouted Twig, "do give over--do tell
your black bagpiper to have done with his most infernal noise, and be
hanged to him--or we must all go home again without our dinner--none of
our horses will _debouche_ in the face of such a salutation, don't you
see?"

"Ou ay, ou ay," rejoined Rory, emerging from the house himself, also
dressed, like his man, in full Highland costume--and having desired the
piper in _Gaelic_, with the air of the hundredth and fiftieth cousin to
"her Grace the Tuke," to cease _her bumming_, he marshalled us into the
house, evidently in no small surprise that any breathing creature
whatever, biped or quadruped, should have any the smallest objections
to the "music of the _cods_."

The bagpiper, we found afterwards, was his servant, whom he had taken
to Scotland with him two years before, and polished him there, through
the instrumentality of a Highland Serjeant, to the brilliancy we had
witnessed.  However, let me be honest--he received us with the most
superabundant kindness; and when we had retired into the inner part of
the house, which was his dining-hall, he gave the word for dinner, and,
every thing considered, the set out was exceedingly good--we had a
noble pea-fowl--and, as if that had not been sufficient, a young turkey
also--a capital round of beef--a beautiful small joint of mutton;
excellent mountain mullet; a dish of Cray-fish; and a small sort of
fresh-water lobster, three or four times bigger than a large prawn,
which are found in great plenty below the stones in the Jamaica
mountain streams--black or land crabs, wild-duck, and wild Guinea fowl,
and a parrot-pie--only fancy a parrot-pie!--wild pigeons, and I don't
know what all besides--in truth, a feast for six times our number--but
in the opinion of our host, there appeared to be something wanting
still.

"Tuncan," this was our friend the musician, who had laid down his
instrument to officiate as butler--"Tuncan, whar hae ye stowed tae
hackis--whar hae ye stowed tae hackis, man?--a Heeland shentleman's
tinner is nae tinner ava without tae hackis!"

"Me no know, massa," quoth the Celtic _neger_.

"You ton't know--ten you pehuvet to know, sir--Maister Frenche, shall I
help you to a _spaul_ of tae peacock hen?--Maister Flamingo, will you
oplige me py cutting up tae turkey polt?"

"All the pleasure in life--whew!--what is this?" as a cloud of fragrant
vapour gushed from the plump breast of the bird.

"As I am a shentleman, if tae prute peast of a cook has na stuffet tae
turkey polt we tae hackis--as I am a shentleman!"

"And what is this, then," said Dr Tozy, a neighbouring surgeon, who was
one of the party--and a most _comfortable_ looking personage in every
sense of the word, as a dish, containing the veritable haggis to all
appearance, was handed over his shoulder and placed on the table.  "A
deuced good-looking affair it is, I declare," looking at it through his
eyeglass--"here is the real haggis, Master Macgregor, here it is."

"Ah, so it is--so it is"--quoth Rory, rubbing his hands.  "Here,
poy--here, Tuncan--pring it here--let me cut it up mysell--let me cut
it mysell."

It was accordingly placed before Rory, who, all impatience, plunged his
knife into it--murder, what a _hautgout_, and no wonder; for it
actually proved to be a guava pudding, that the drunken cook had
stuffed into the sheep's stomach!

However, we had all a good laugh, doing great honour, notwithstanding,
to an excellent dinner; and when we began to enjoy ourselves over our
wine, Dr Tozy and Twig, aided and abetted by Flamingo, amused us
exceedingly by the fun they extracted from our friend Rory.

Mr Macgregor not being quite so polished a gentleman as his Majesty
George IV., had been rather particular, shortly after this, in his
notice of Mr Twig's coat--the colour of which some how did not please
him.

"Noo, I taresay, Maister Twick, you ca' that plue--a plue coat--put I
think it mair plack tan plue."

"Why, Mac, you are not so far wrong, it is more black than blue."

"Ah, so I thought," quoth Rory.

"And I'll give you the reason, if you promise not to tell," said Twig.
"It is the first trial piece of my new patent cloth."

"Your patent cloth!" whispered the last of the Goths, "have _you_ a
patent for cloth."

"To be sure I have--that never loses the colour, and is as impervious
to wet as a lawyer's wig, or a duck's wing."

"It al no pe a Mackintosh, will it?"

"Mackintosh!" exclaimed his jovial friend--"Mackintosh!--why Charley
cannot hold the candle to me--no, no, it is the first spun out of--here
lend me your lugs," and he laid hold of the Highland man's ear, so as
to draw his head half across the table in a most ludicrous fashion.
"It is made entirely out of negro wool."

"Necroo wool?" rejoined Rory, lying back in his chair, holding up his
hands, and looking to the roof, with a most absurd expression of face,
half credulous, half doubting--"wool from tae veritable neger's heads,
tid you say?"

"Negro-head wool, Rory, every fibre of it.  The last bale I sent home
was entirely composed of the autumn shearing of my own people at the
Dream--I sent it to some manufacturing friends of mine in
Halifax"--and, holding out his sleeve--"there, the Duke of Devonshire
patronises it, I assure ye--nothing else will go down next season at
Almack's."

"Allmac's?" exclaimed Rory, "to you mean to say it will shoopersede tae
forty-second tartan?"

"Ay, and ninety-second too.  However, I find it will not take on indigo
freely, in consequence of the essential oil."

"Oil!" said Rory; "creeshy prutes."

"So, in consequence, I intend after this to confine the manufacture to
_black_ cloth, which will require no dye you know; if you choose to
contract, Rory, I will give you half-a-crown per pound for all you can
deliver during the next year--or threepence a-fleece--_head_, I
mean--and that is the top of the market for Spanish wool--but it must
be clean--free of--you understand?"

By this time I perceived that Dr Tozy and Flamingo were both literati
in a small way, whereby one or two amusing mistakes took place on the
part of Master Rory Macgregor, who, of all points of the compass, had
no pretensions to any kind or description of erudition.

The conversation happened to turn on Irish politics, and Mr Frenche had
just remarked that, notwithstanding all the noise and smoke of the
demagogues who lived and battened on the disturbances of the country,
he believed on his conscience, from what he saw, when he was last in
Ireland, that there were very few influential men of respectability or
property who countenanced them or their doings.

"Yet, strange as it does appear, there are some, uncle," said I.

"Oh yes, undoubtedly," exclaimed Tozy, an Irishman himself; "but very
few--very few indeed--mere drops in the bucket--_rari nantes in gurgite
vasto_."

"Fat's tat, toctor?--is tat Creek?"

"Yes; it means capital brandy for a long drink," said Tozy, swigging
off his glass of cold brandy grog as coolly as possible.

"What an expressive language!--maist as much sae as tae Gaelic.  To you
know, py the very soond, I guessed it was something apoot pranty and a
long trink?" quoth Rory.

"You shine to-day, doctor," said Twig; but presently Flamingo flew off
with the thread of the conversation, like a magpie stealing twine, and
I forget the prominent topics we discussed, but we had a great deal of
fun and laughter, until Don Felix once more settled down in some
literary talk with Tozy, and incidentally noticed the Decameron of
Boccaccio.

Rory, unfortunate Rory, once more pricked up his ears at this, and
determined to show his conversational powers now, if he had been
interrupted before, being by this time also a little in the wind.  So,
after grunting to himself, "Cameron--Cameron," he, after a moment's
thought, perked himself up in his chair and swore stoutly that he knew
_him_ very well--"as fine a chiel as ever pore the name of Cameron, and
her place was ane of tae finest in the west coast of Arkyleshire--na,
am no shust shure put she may pe a farawa' cousin of Lochiel's hersell."

"The very same," quoth Twig, trotting away with the Macgregor, as if he
had got him on one of his own _shelties_, and entering on a long
rambling conversation, during which he took care to butter him an inch
thick--"Why, you do make the shrewdest remarks, Mac; shrewd! nay, the
wisest, I should say.  You really know _every thing_ and _every
body_--you are a perfect Solon."

Flamingo here saw, and so did I, that Macgregor--whether he began to
feel that Jacob was quizzing him or not, I could not tell--looked as
black as thunder, so he good-humouredly struck in with--"Now, Jacob, do
hold your tongue, you are such a chatterbox!"

"Chatterbox!--to be sure--I can't help it.  I have dined on parrot-pie,
you know, Felix."

"I wish tae hat peen hoolets for your sake, Maister Twick," said
Roderick, fiercely.

"Why, Rory, why?  An owl-pie would not quite suit my complexion.--But,
hang it, man, what is wrong?  Judging from your own physiog, one might
suppose you had been making your dinner on the bird of Minerva
yourself."

"Maister Twick," said Rory, with a face as sour as vinegar, "I am
unwilling to pe uncivil in my own house;--but I red you no to pe sae
free wi' your nicknames."

"Nicknames!" interjected Twig, in great surprise.

"Yes, sir--you have taken tae unwarrantaple liperty of calling me a
Solan--yes, sir, a Solan.--Tid you mean it offensively, sir?"

"No offence, Mac," shouted Twig, "none in the least.--Offence!--in
likening you to Solon, the glory of Greece--the great lawgiver--the
_Athenian_ Solon!"

Rory grew frantic at this (as he thought) additional
insult.--"Creese--Creese!--I ken o' nae Solans, sir, put tae filthy
ill-faured pirds tat leeve in tae water."

"But Rory, my dear fellow"----

"Ton't tear fellow me, sir.--You may ca' them what ye like, sir, in
_Creese_--but a Solan at tae Craik of Ailsa[2] is ca'd a cuse, sir, an'
naething else, I ken tat, sir, I ken tat; and if ony shentlemans will
tare to liken Roterick Macgregor to sic an ill-flavoured pird, sir,
py"----


[2] A remarkable insulated rock in the frith of Clyde, famous for its
solan geese, from which (the rock, not the geese) the Marquis of Ailsa
takes his title.


"I assure you, upon my honour, I said Solon, and not Solan, Mac," quoth
Twig.  "There, ask Tozy.--You know I would not say an uncivil thing to
you, Rory, for the world."

We were like to expire with laughter at this, but the Celt was pacified
at length, through the good offices of the doctor, and we all held on
in good fellowship.  But as the evening wore away, the musquittoes
began to be very troublesome, as we could _feel_ ourselves, and _hear_,
if we had not felt, from their loud buzzing, as well as from our host's
sounding slaps on his bare limbs, the kilt not being just the thing for
a defence against Monsieur Musquitto.  Indeed, after Rory's localities
had been fairly explored by these stinging pests, we suffered little,
as they left us all (like reasonable animals choosing their food, where
it was easiest to be had) in comparative peace, to settle in clouds on
the unfortunate Highlander's naked premises.

At length he could stand it no longer.--"Tuncan!"--then a loud slap on
his thigh;--"Lachlan!"--another slap;--"Macintosh, pring a prush, pring
a prush!"--and a negro appeared forthwith with a bunch of green twigs
with the leaves on.--"Noo, Macintosh, kang pelow tae table with your
prush, and prush my leeks free from tae awful plakues.  Prush, ye
prute, prush!"

This scheme had the desired effect; the enemy was driven off, and Rory,
in the fulness and satisfaction of his heart, now insisted on setting
Tuncan to give us a regular pibroch, as he called it, on the bagpipe,
whether we would or not.

I had observed Quacco, who had accompanied us, and that mischief-maker,
Squire Flamingo, in close confabulation while dinner was getting ready;
I therefore made sure of witnessing some comical issue of their complot
before long, in which I was not disappointed--for the black serjeant
now ushered in the bagpiper, whom, I could perceive, he had fuddled
pretty considerably, besides adding to his rig in a most fantastical
manner.  He had, it seems, persuaded the poor creature that he was by
no means complete without a queue, and powder in his hair; so he now
appeared with his woolly poll covered with flour, and the spout of an
old tin watering-pan, with a tuft of red hair from the tail of a cow
stuck into the end of it, attached to the back of his head by a string.
In the midst of this tuft I saw a small red spark, and when he
approached there was a very perceptible burning smell, as of the
smouldering of a slow match.

"Now, Mr Flamingo," said I to our friend, "I see you are about
wickedness--No more percussion powder, I hope?"

He trod on my toe, and winked.--"Hush, you shall see."

When Tuncan first entered, he had, to save himself from falling, sat
down on a chair close by the door, with his back to us.  This was
altogether out of character, for Tuncan plumed himself on his breeding.

"Is tat your mainers, you plack rascal?" cried Rory.  "Ket up, sir,
or"----

Quacco was at hand, and assisting the sable retainer to rise, got him
on his pins; and when he had fairly planted him on his parade ground,
which was the end of the piazza farthest from us, he seemed to recover
himself, blew up his pipes, and began to walk mechanically backwards
and forwards steadily enough.  Flamingo kept his eye en him very
earnestly, while a small twitch of his cheek, just below his eye, every
now and then, and a slight lifting of the corner of his mouth, showed
that the madcap was waiting in expectation of some fun.  All
conversation had been fairly swamped by the infernal pipes--Roderick's
peacock hen, had she been alive, could not have made herself heard, so
we had nothing else for it but to look at each other, and listen to the
black bagpiper.  I am sure I wished him any where but where he was,
when, just as he had turned his back to us in one of his pendulum
movements, a jet of sparks like those from a squib issued from his
queue, which, drunk as he was, made him turn round fast enough; the
instant he found that the fire proceeded from his own tail, he dashed
down his bagpipes, rushed out of the house, and never stopped until he
was up to the neck in the muddy duck-pond before the door, still
fizzing most furiously.  In a vain attempt to rid himself of the
annoyance, he dipped his head below the water, and just as he
disappeared, a crack--crack--crack showed that the squib had
_eventuated_, as the Yankees say, in the usual manner, viz. in a
zigzag, or cracker.

It turned out afterwards, as I suspected, that Quacco, who was a
tolerable fireworker, amongst his other accomplishments, at Flamingo's
instigation had beat up some charcoal and gunpowder, moistening the
mass well, and filled the tin tube which composed poor Tuncan's queue
with it; thus literally converting it into a squib.

Great was the amazement of Master Roderick at all this, and loud were
his exclamations as his retainer was dragged out of the pond, more dead
than alive with fear, and all but choked with mud; seeing, however,
that he had been drinking, and, what was more in blackey's favour, his
master having been indulging himself, he was, after much entreaty,
pleased to send the poor fellow home, instead of clapping him in the
stocks.

I had noticed that a little mulatto boy, also in a kilt, had been the
chief agent in the extrication of poor Tuncan.

"Ah, Lachlan," said Mr Frenche to this lad, "when did you return?  Why,
I thought you were in Scotland!"

"So he was," said Rory.  "I sent him last fall to my sister in tae
Western Highlands, that is married _upon_ tae minister; put she
returned tae puir callant py next post, saying she was surprised that I
should make no more of sending home my--I'll no say what--and _them_
yellow too, than if _they_ were sae mony tame monkeys--'_and to a
minister's hoose_!'--Maype, if they hat na heard of my coffee crop
having peen purned in the store, and if I hat no forgotten to say ony
thing apoot tae callant's poord, tey wad na hae peen sae straitlaced."

It was now getting dark,--the horses had been some time at the door,
and we were about saying good-night to Rory and Flamingo, who was to
take up his quarters for the evening, in order, as previously arranged,
to his having a day's shooting at wild-ducks and pigeons on the morrow,
when it suddenly came on to rain, as if a waterspout had burst over
head; so the animals were ordered back into the stable, as it was out
of the question starting in such a _pour_.

We had coffee, and were waiting impatiently for it to clear, but it
came down faster and faster, and soon began to thunder and lighten most
awfully.

I am not ashamed to acknowledge that a storm of this description always
moves me; and although the rest of the party carried on in the inner
hall at a game at whist, while Roderick and I were having a hit at
backgammon in a corner, none of them appearing to care much about it;
yet one explosion was so loud, go simultaneous with the blue blinding
flash, and the reverberations immediately afterwards _thundered_--I can
find no stronger word--so tremendously overhead, making the whole house
shake, and the glasses ring on the sideboard, that both parties
suddenly, and with one accord, stopped and started to their feet, in
the middle of their amusement.  Where I stood, I had a full view into
the long vista of the natural wood already mentioned, festooned from
tree to tree with a fantastic network of withes, which, between us and
the lightning, looked like an enormous spider's web.  Another bright
flash again lit up the recesses of the forest, showing distinctly,
although but for a moment, a long string of mules, loaded with coffee
bags, with a dark figure mounted on every third animal, and blasting
every object, the masses of green foliage on the trees especially, into
a smoky and sulphurous blue.

Before the rumbling of this thunder-clap had passed over our heads, the
noise of the rain on the hollow wooden roof increased to a deafening
roar, like the sound of a water-fall, or as if every drop had been a
musket-bullet.

"Tat's hail!" said Rory, in great amazement at such an unusual
occurrence.

"Small doubt of that," quoth Flamingo.

Here one of the negro servants came running in.
"Massa--massa--sugar-plum fall from de moon--sugar-plum fall from de
moon--see, see," and opening his palms, where he had caught the hail,
and thought he had it safe, and finding only drops of water, he drew
back as if he had seen a spirit--"Gone! gone! and _burn_ my hand too;
Obeah--most be Obeah!" and before another word could be said, it
lightned again so vividly, even through the sparkling mist of hail,
that I involuntarily put my hands to my eyes, and lay back in my chair,
overcome with breathless awe.

Unlike any lightning I had ever seen before, it was as if a dart of
fire had struck the large tree next us right in the cleft, and then
glanced like a ray of the most intense light shot down into the centre
of the back yard, where it zigzagged along, and tore up the solid
ground, that appeared covered with white smoke from the bounding and
hopping of the rattling hailstones.  I can compare the sharpness of the
report that accompanied it to nothing more fittingly than that of a
long eighteen-pounder fired close to the ear.  Involuntarily I repeated
to myself that magnificent passage of sacred writ--"And the Lord sent
thunder and hail, and the fire ran along upon the ground; so there was
hail, and fire mingled with the hail, very grievous."

A long tearing _rive_, as of the violent disruption of a large bough,
had instantly succeeded the flash, and then a crashing and rushing
heavy fall, and loud shrieks.  It was nearly a minute before any of us
found breath to speak, and then it was only in short half-suppressed
exclamations.

"What is that?" as a smouldering yellow flame burst from the roof of
the negro house that adjoined the Macgregor's habitation, and gradually
illuminated the whole scene--the glistering hail-covered ground, the
tall trees overhead, the cattle that had run beneath them for
shelter--and showed a large limb split off from the immense cedar next
us (with the white splinter-mark glancing), that still adhered to the
parent tree by some strong fibres; while the outermost branches had
fallen heavily on, and crushed in the roof of the cottage that was on
fire.

The lurid flashes continued, contrasting most fearfully with the bright
red glare of the burning cottage, the inhabitants of which, a woman and
three children, were now extricating themselves, and struggling from
under the fallen roof.  Presently we saw them cluster round a dark
object lying in the middle of the yard like a log, between us and the
tree that had been struck.  They stooped down, and appeared to pull it
about, whatever it was, for a minute or so, and then began to toss
their arms, uttering loud cries.  I was puzzling myself as to what they
could be after, when the word was passed amongst the black domestics of
"a man kill--old Cudjoe kill."  This ran like wildfire, and in a second
we were all out in the midst of the storm, with the rapidly melting
hail-stones crunching beneath our feet.

The body was brought into the house, and the doctor being fortunately
on the spot, every thing was done that could be devised, but all in
vain.  When a vein was opened in the arm, the blood flowed sluggishly,
but was quite fluid; and all the joints were even more than naturally
pliant, the vertebrae of the neck especially.  Indeed I had never seen
such a general muscular relaxation; but the poor old fellow was quite
dead.  One spot on the cape of his Pennistone greatcoat, about the size
of a dollar, was burnt black, and so completely consumed, that in
carrying him into the house, which was no easy matter, from the extreme
pliancy and eel-like limberness, if I may so speak, of the whole body,
the tinder or burnt woollen dropped out, leaving a round hole as clean
as if it had been _gouged_ out.

After this unfortunate transaction we had little spirit to pursue our
amusement, and accordingly, after a parting cup, we all retired to bed.

I soon fell asleep, and remembered nothing until I was awakened by the
crowing of the cocks in the morning.  It was still dark, and in the
unceiled and low-roofed house I could hear my allies snoring most
harmoniously in their several snuggeries.  At length, after several
long yawns, and a few preparatory snorts, and clearances of his voice,
out spoke my restless acquaintance, Master Flamingo.

"Why, Rory--Rory Macgregor--how sound the body sleeps--why, Rory, I
say"----

"Oich, oich, fat's tat--wha's tat--and what will she pe wantin'?"

"Wanting?--Don't you remember your promise?  Didn't I tell you that I
had come to spend the night here, in order to have a crack at the ducks
this morning?"

"Ducks this morning," thought I--"Ducks--does the madcap mean to shoot
ducks, after such a night and such a scene?"

"Tucks," grunted Rory--"tucks?" then a long snore.

"Ducks, to be sure; so get up, Mac--get up."

"Well, well," yawned the Macgregor; "I will, I will; put ton't waken
tae hail hoose--ton't tisturp Mr Frenche nor Mr Prail."

"Oh, never mind, Flamingo," quoth my uncle, turning himself in his bed,
and clearing his voice; "I am awake, and Dennis has brought my gun I
find."

And here followed a concerto of coughing, and yawning, and groaning,
and puffing, as of the pulling on of tight or damp boots, and rumblings
and stumblings against the furniture of the various apartments, and all
the other miscellaneous noises incidental to a party dressing in the
dark.

"Romulus, a light," shouted Twig.

"Twister, a ditto," roared Flamingo; and these exclamations called
forth a renewed volley of snortings and long yawns from the negro
servants, who were sleeping in the inner hall.

"Twister, get me a light, you lazy villain, don't you hear?"

"Yes, yes, massa, directly"--snore.

"_Directly_, you sleepy dog!--_now_, sir--get it me _now_.  Don't you
hear that I have broken my shin, and capsized the basin-stand, and I
can't tell what besides?"

"Yes, yes, massa"--snore again.

I heard a door open, and presently a loud tumble, and a crackling and
rattling of chairs, and startled cries from the negroes.

"Murder!  Twig--where's your patent lucifer match box?  Here have I
fallen over that rascal of yours, and I am terrified to move, lest I
break my own neck, or extinguish some black fellow out and out.
Gemini! if my great toe has not got into some one's mouth.  Hillo,
Quashie, mind that's my toe, and not a yam.  Oh dear, will no one get
me a candle?  Jacob, you cannibal, do come and rescue me, or I shall be
smothered amidst this odoriferous and flat-nosed variety of the human
species."

I had never spent such a morning, and as it was quite evident that
there was no more sleep to be had, I got up and dressed the best way I
could.  We were soon all congregated in the inner hall by candle light,
with half a dozen black fellows, and as many fowling-pieces,
blunderbusses, and muskets as there were buccras, ready to sally forth
to attack the teal.

Quacco was here, as elsewhere, the most active of the throng, and
sideling up to me, "Massa, you and de old gentleman take de
blonderboosh--I hab load dem bote wid one bushel of dock hail.  You
shall never see so much bird as you shall knock down--take dem,
massa--take dem."

After coffee, we put ourselves _en route_ and sallied out of the house.

"Why, uncle," said I, "I have no great stomach for the fight after what
happened last night."

"Poo, poo," said he, "never mind--people don't mind a thunder-storm
here."

"But then the poor old watchman--struck down almost before one's eyes."

"Ah! that was melancholy enough--but it can't be helped, so come along,
you must do as others do."

The morning was thick, dark, damp, and dreary; there should have been a
moon, but she had veiled her beauties behind the steamy clouds, that
seemed to be resting themselves on the tree-tops.  The earth sent up
its vapours, as of water poured on hot bricks; and all the herbs and
grass and leaves of bushes, through which the footpath lay, seemed
absolute _blobs_ of water, for the instant you touched them they
dissolved into a shower-bath; while I soon perceived that I was walking
ankle deep in soft mud--indeed we were travelling as much by water as
on terra firma.  After _ploutering_ through this chaos for about a
mile, we entered a natural savannah, inlaid with several ponds, which
looked like dark mirrors, dimmed by the films of thin grey mist that
floated on their calm surfaces.  Rory walked round several of these
natural pieces of water, while the negro scouts were also very active;
but it was all--"The tiel a tuck is tere," from Rory.  "The devil a
teal is here," from Flamingo.  And "no teal, no dere; no duck no here;
none at all," from the negroes.

"So we shall have been roused out of our warm beds, and soaked to the
skin, to say nothing of a very sufficient plastering with mud, for no
use after all," said I.

"No fear--no fear--only have patience a little," quoth Mr Twig.

There was a low marshy ditch that ran across the savannah, nearer the
house than where we now were, that had overflowed from the rains, and
which covered about six acres of the natural pasture.  We had waded
through it on our advance, expecting to find the teal in the ponds
beyond.  But being unsuccessful, we now tried back, and returned to it;
and just as we faced about, the clouds lifted from the hill tops in the
east, and disclosed a long clear stripe of primrose-coloured sky, the
forerunner of early day-dawn.  As we reapproached the flooded ground,
one or two cranes sounded their trumpet notes, and taking wing with a
rustling splashy flaff, glided silently past us.

"Halt," quoth Serjeant Quacco, in a whisper, "halt, gentlemen, I hear
de teal on de feed."

"The deuce you do!" said I, "you must have the ears of an Indian;" and
we all held our breath, and stooped and leant our ears towards the
ground, in imitation of the serjeant; and to be sure we now heard
distinctly enough the short quacks of the drakes, and the rustling and
cackling of the feathered squadrons among the reeds.  My uncle, the
Macgregor, and myself, were planted at the westernmost end of the
swamp; two of us armed with blunderbusses, and the Celt with his
double-barrelled gun--while Messrs Twig, Flamingo, and Quacco, made a
sweep towards the head of it, or eastern end.

The rustling continued, as of great numbers of large birds on the
opposite side; while near at hand we heard an occasional plump, and
tiny splashes, such as a large frog makes when he drops into the water,
and curious crawling and crackling noises, made, according to my
conception, by reptiles of some kind or another, amongst the reeds.

"Any alligators here?" whispered I to Mr Frenche, who was next me.

"Great many," was the laconic reply.

"How comfortable," thought I; "and snakes?"

"Abundance."

"Pleasant country," said I Benjie, again to myself.  But all this time
I could see nothing like the teal we were in pursuit of, although it
was as clear as mud that the reeds all round us were alive with
something or another.  At length, as the morning lightened, and the
clouds broke away, and the steamy sheet of water began to reflect them
and our dark figures, and the trees and other objects on the margin, a
line of ten or a dozen large birds emerged from the darkness and mist
at the end where Flamingo was situated, and began slowly to sail
towards us in regular line of battle.

"Tere tae come at last--noo--mak reaty, Maister Prail; frient Frenche,
pe prepared," and Rory himself, lying down on his chest on the wet
grass, and taking deliberate aim, fired both barrels--and such a
squatter!--as a flock of a thousand teal, I am certain there could not
have been fewer, rose into the air with a loud rushing noise like the
sound of a mighty stream--a perfect _roar_ of ducks.  I fired my
bellmouthed trabucco with the bushel of shot at random into the
thickest of the flock, and so did mine uncle; whereupon _down_ came a
feathery shower upon our _heads_, and _down_ came we both on our
_tails_--the bushels of shot having told in more ways than one.  This
hot discharge had the effect, however, of turning the flock, and
Flamingo and Twig had their own share of the spoil at the head of the
swamp.  The four shots had brought down four-and-thirty feathered
bipeds, and two without feathers--we were as regularly smothered in
ducks, as you ever saw a rabbit in onions.

"I say, uncle, how do you feel?"

"Rather chilly at tother end of me, Benjie; and I believe my shoulder
is dislocated," quoth he, scratching his bald pate, as he sat on the
ground, where Quacco's bushels of shot had deposited both of us.

"And my cheek is stove in," quoth I.

"My nose is bleeding like a pump," quoth he.

"And mine is blown off entirely," said I.  Here we both got on our
feet, the ground around us being literally covered with killed, and
alive with the wounded birds.

"See if our facsimiles in the soft mud are not like two punch bowls,
Benjie?"  And true enough we had made a couple of holes in the spungy
soil, that instantly filled with water as we rose, leaving two round
pools.

"I say, uncle, your punchbowl is somewhat the biggest of the two,
though, eh? mine is only the jigger."

"Bah!" quoth he, showing his white teeth.

But how came Rory on all this while, the hero who had led into action?
Right in front of us, half a dozen black spots rested dead still, where
his shot had just torn up the sleeping surface of the grey swamp, while
as many more waterfowl of some description or another, that had been
wounded, were quacking and splashing, and wheeling, half flying, and
half running on the water, in a vain attempt to escape from the
Macgregor, who, in the enthusiasm of the moment, had dashed in up to
his waist to secure the prey.

And there he was chasing the wounded birds, all about, every now and
then tripping in the weeds, and delving down, nose and ears, under
water; whereby he lost his hat and dropped his gun, puffing and
snorting all the time with many an outlandish exclamation, and dripping
like a water-god.

"Never was such a morning's sport," roared the Highlander, "never did I
see such pluidy wark in aw my porn days; stalking tae ret tear is
nothing to it," as he regained terra firma, with both hands filled with
ducks' legs and necks as full as he could gripe; the wounded birds
flaffing and flapping, and struggling round him, as if they would have
flown away with the wee Hieland body up into the air.

By this time I had secured my wounded, and the daylight was fast
brightening.

"Quacco, my man," said uncle Lathom to the serjeant, as he passed him,
"the next time you clap a _bushel_ of shot into my gun, pray don't let
it be imperial measure, if you please."

"Why," said Twig, who had now joined us, "this is capital sport
certainly.  Never saw such a flock of teal in my life before--but,
Roderick, what have you got there--what sort of game is that you have
shot--let me see?"  Here he deliberately counted out of the Macgregor's
hands eight large _tame_ Muscovy ducks, and a goose.

"As I am a sinner," said the poor Highlander, in great dismay when he
saw what he had been about, "if I have not killed my own puire tucks;
and the vera coose hersell that I expected to eat at Michaelmas.  Hoo
cam tae here--hoo tae teevil cam tae oot o' the pen?" and he turned a
fierce look at his servant.  Alas, on reflection, he remembered that
the poor old man who was killed by the lightning had been the hen_man_,
and no one having taken his place, and the pen having been beaten down
by the hail overnight, the sacrifice of the ducks and the poor
Michaelmas goose had been the consequence and crowning misfortune.

But the absurdity of our entertainer having shown his expertness as a
shot by murdering his own poultry was too much, and it was with the
greatest difficulty any of us could keep his gravity.

We returned to the house--shifted, breakfasted, and that forenoon
returned to Ballywindle, where we spent an exceedingly pleasant week
with our friends Twig and Flamingo, who, in the mean time, prevailed on
Mr Frenche to make a return visit to them in Kingston, and we
accordingly prepared for our trip.

It was the Saturday before the Monday on which we meant to start.  I
was playing at piquet with Mr Twig; my uncle and Flamingo were lounging
about the piazza, and the horses were ready saddled for an airing, at
the door, when my antagonist and I were startled by a loud rushing, or
rather roaring noise, that seemed to pass immediately overhead.  "A
flock of teal," thought I, remembering the exploit at Rory Macgregor's.
Simultaneously all the shutters, which, according to the usual West
India fashion, opened outwards, were banged to with great force--doors
were slammed, and the whole house shook with the suddenness of the gust.

"Hillo," said Twig, "what's all this?" as his point, quint, and
quatorze were whisked out of his hand, and a shower of gritting sand,
with a dash of small pebbles in it, was driven against our faces
through the open windows, like a discharge of peas.

My uncle and his companion had halted in their walk, and seemed as much
surprised as we were.  Presently the noise ceased, and all was calm
again where we were.  We naturally looked down into the mill-yard below
us to see what would take place there.

It was as busy as usual--the negro boys and girls were shouting to the
mules and steers, as they drove them round the circles of the cattle
mills--the mule drivers, each with a tail of three mules loaded with
canes from the hilly cane-pieces, where waggons could not work, were
stringing into the yard, and spanking their whips.  The wains, each
with a team of six oxen, yoked two and two, built up with canes as high
as a hay waggon, were rumbling and rattling on their jolty axletrees,
as they were dragged through deep clayey ruts, that would have broken
Macadam's heart to have looked on; the boilermen were shouting in the
boiling-house, their voices, from the reverberation of the lofty roof,
rising loud above the confusion, as if they had been speaking in masks,
like the Greek and Roman actors of old; and the negro girls were
singing cheerily in parts, their songs blending with their loud
laughter, as they carried bundles of canes to be ground, or balanced
their large baskets full of _trash_ on their heads, while the creaking
of the mill machinery, and the crashing of the canes between the
rollers, added to the buzz.

The dry sun was shining down, like a burning-glass, into the centre of
this ant's nest, where every thing was rolling on, as it had been doing
for hours before, no one apparently anticipating any unusual
occurrence; but in an instant the tornado that had passed us reached
_them_, whirled the trash baskets off the negroes' heads nearest us,
and up went whole bundles of canes bodily into the air, and negro hats
and jackets; indeed, every thing that would rise, and ruffling the
garments of the black ladies most unceremoniously, notwithstanding all
their endeavours to preserve their propriety, so that they looked like
large umbrellas reversed, the shanks, in most cases, being something of
the stoutest.

Before it took effect in the hollow, every thing was in motion; by the
time it passed over, every thing it did not take with it _was fixed to
the spot_, as if by the wand of an enchanter.  Negroes were clinging to
the bamboos of the cattle pens; cattle and mules were standing as rigid
as statues, gathered on their haunches, with their forelegs planted
well and firmly out, the better to resist the effects of the wind.  The
mill had instantly stopped, and all was silent.

But the instant Quashie recovered his surprise, and every thing had
become calm again in the mill-yard, there arose _such_ a cackling,
shouting, and laughter, and lowing of kine, and _skreiching_ of mules,
as Rory Macgregor would have said, as baffles all description.

The course of the tornado, after passing over the mill-yard, continued
to be distinctly marked, by the different substances it carried up and
whirled round in its vortex, keeping them suspended in the air by its
violent centrifugal motion; I especially remember the effect it had on
a grove of cocoa-nut trees.  It took them by the tops, which it tossed
fiercely with a wide circular motion, tearing their long leaves up into
the sky like hair, as if some invisible spirit was trying to shake the
fruit down from the tormented trees.  As it neared a field where a
number of people were at work, one of the house servants, rubbing his
black paws, whispered to his neighbour in my hearing, "Softly,
now--maybe it will whip away busha"--a thing he, to all appearance,
would not have broken his heart about.

Next morning, at breakfast, I stumbled on the following announcement in
the newspaper I had just taken up:--


"_Lucie--such a date._

"Last evening the Kingston trader, the Ballahoo, anchored in Negril
bay.  She had been cut out by two piratical vessels, a felucca and a
schooner, from Montego bay, on such a day; and after having been in
possession of the pirates for a week, during which the Spanish
passengers were compelled to disclose where their money (the only thing
taken) was concealed, she was _politely_ given up to them and the crew.

"The felucca is Spanish built, painted black outside, and red within,
and sails remarkably fast; the schooner is a long, low, but very
heavily armed vessel, painted black, with a red streak--no guns were
seen in the felucca."----

"So, so, poor Hause has got his vessel, then; but that wicked little
Midge, I fear her cruising is not over yet," said I, handing the
paragraph to my uncle, who, as he already knew the story, easily
comprehended the import of the newspaper announcement--"well, I am glad
of it"--And I resumed my attack on the yams, ham, and coffee.

Mr Frenche put on his spectacles, and, as he began the perusal of the
paper, said dryly, "I suppose you consider that the letter lying on the
table there, addressed to you, will keep cool--at least you appear to
be in no hurry to open it."----

I seized it--not having previously noticed it, and blushed like I don't
know what, when I perceived it was in very truth her dear, delightful,
and all the rest of it, _fist_--there's a sentence ending plump for
you--my hand trembled as I broke the seal, or rather _drew_ it open;
for in such a climate wax is so soft, you cannot call it _breaking_,
which always implies a short, sharp crackle, to my mind--assuming a
careless swaggering look, I began to peruse it.  I could with the tail
of my eye, however, perceive Friend Twig and Monsieur Flamingo exchange
very knowing glances.  But here goes--here is _the_ letter:--


"_Havanna--such a date_

"MY DEAR BENJAMIN,

"I expected to have had an opportunity of writing by a vessel for
Jamaica before this, but have been disappointed.

"You will be surprised at our change of plans.  A grand uncle of my
father's, a very old man, has lately died, and left some money and land
to us in the United Kingdom"--(a Yankyeism, thought I--_United_ States,
_United_ Kingdom)--"and in consequence he is obliged to go out to
England immediately"--(_out_ to England).  "His first determination was
to send mamma and me home to New York, but as we did not like to leave
him, we have persuaded him that we shall make ourselves very portable,
so we all go together, in a fine London ship, to sail the day after
to-morrow.  Dicky Phantom, dear pet, says, 'Oh, I shall make myself
more leetle small, as one busy bee dat make de honey.'  I am angry at
myself sometimes, but I almost dread going to the 'old country,' lest
we should be obliged to restore the darling little castaway to his
kinsfolk--I am sure none of them can ever love him more than his
_mamma_ Helen does.  Any letter you may write to me, you must now send
to the care of the House of Baring Brothers of London.  As I have no
concealments from mamma, and as you always give me credit" (_credit_,
in the mouth of a young lady!) "for being a circumspect person, she has
arranged for me, that at all events we shall not leave England until we
hear from you in answer to this; so I have made a duplicate of it"
(_duplicate_ of a love letter, ye gods!), "a thing that has proved more
irksome than writing ten originals, which I will send by the next
opportunity, as I know you would be sadly annoyed if any confusion
should take place, such as your going to New York, and finding us
abroad" (_abroad_--in England); "at least, I know, my dearest Benjamin,
I should be miserable at the thoughts of it."  (Well you might, my
lady, thought I)--"I am all impatience for another letter from you,"
(why, she has not acknowledged one yet); "surely your excellent uncle
will enter into your feelings; indeed I have satisfied my heart that he
will, and made up my mind not to distress myself, in the mean time, in
the hope that all will run smooth with us.  You see I have no darts,
and flames, and nonsense for you--nothing _ultra_, Benjamin--no
superlatives--I have studied myself as well as I can, and there is no
character, I am persuaded, that suits me so well as what you gave me.
I am a quiet, prudent, unobtrusive, but warm-hearted little
woman--there is a vain girl for you--and oh, Benjamin, my heart tells
me, if I am spared in _His_ mercy, that you will find what my father
says to be true, 'Whoever marries my Helen will get a wife that will
wear well, _I calculate_.'

"You will be surprised to learn that the old Gazelle is here again.
After being a week out, she was forced back from bad weather, and is
now repairing.  Poor Mr Donovan has had to invalid; they say he never
recovered his severe illness on the coast of Africa, and was always
raving about some fair one with one eye, who lived in a street to which
Broadway in York was a narrow lane--but it is a melancholy affair for
him, poor young man, and I check my thoughts, and stop my pen, as I had
a jest regarding him, that was ready to drop from it.

"And what do you think?--Henry de Walden has got an acting order as
lieutenant in his stead.  The ship had been a week here, before Mr
Donovan could make up his mind, and all that time Master Henry never
once looked near us, and poor Sophie did nothing but spoil wax flowers,
and weep--but, two days ago, as she and I were returning in the volante
from our evening drive, who should we meet, in charge of a party of
seamen who were returning from the funeral of a comrade who had died
that morning--oh, Benjamin, what a fearful climate this is--but
him!--He did not see us until we were close upon him, when I desired
the driver to pull up, so he could not escape us if he had tried it;
poor Sophie lay back in the volante, out of sight, as she thought--I am
sure I heard her heart beat.  I asked him why he had not come to see
us--he seemed unprepared to answer; indeed, as you used to say, he was
evidently taken completely aback--and blushed, and then grew pale, and
blushed again--for he saw very well who was cowering at the back of the
carriage.--'I was going to call on you this very evening,' he said, at
length; 'I thought you would all be glad to hear of my promotion'--Poor
Sophie's rigid clasp round my waist relaxed, and she gave a sigh as if
her heart had burst--but it was her pent feelings that had been
relieved,--'Your promotion!' I cried, in great joy.--'Yes, I have got
poor Mr Donovan's vacancy,'--'Dead?  Is poor Mr Donovan dead?'--'No,'
continued he, 'he is not dead, but has invalided this forenoon, and Sir
Oliver has given me an acting order as lieutenant in his stead.  I make
no doubt it will be confirmed; indeed he said he knows it will.'

"He came in the evening according to his promise, and most happy we
were to see him--but what a world of changes--the very next day the
Spider arrived, when we heard of your narrow escape; to show you my
composure, I have purposely kept this out of sight until this moment,
nor will I say much now.  I went when I heard it, and offered up my
prayers to that Almighty Being who rules over all, and orders every
thing for the best, although we poor shortsighted creatures may not see
it, and blessed _His_ holy name, that you had safely reached your
destination.

"But I am getting confused, I find.  The bearer of your letter, poor
young man, is no more--he died this morning of yellow fever.  And who
do you think is appointed to the Spider?--why, Henry De Walden, once
more--nothing, you see, but Henry de Walden!

"To make a long story short, Mr Duquesné has now given his consent to
their union, but old Sir Oliver, who exercises a _great_, and to me
unaccountable control over Henry, will not hear of it, until he is made
commander, so they must both live in hope; but for the moment, they are
but too happy to be extricated from the gloomy slough of despond in
which they had made up their minds they were both set fast.  My father,
mamma, Mr Duquesné, Sophie, and Henry De Walden, all unite in kindest
regards to you.  And now, my dearest Benjamin, do not be alarmed at
this blistered manuscript; my heart is melting, and weeping relieves
me, but I am not unhappy--oh, no--but anxious--oh, _how_ anxious!--I
will now retire to my closet, and cast myself before the rock of my
trust, and pray to my God, and your God, in whose great hand we stand,
to bless us both; and speedily, _if_ it be his good pleasure, to bring
us once more together, never to be parted.  I am fond and foolish,
Benjamin--fond and foolish--but I know to whom I write.  The seaman who
waits for the letters is ordered on board, and I must conclude.  Give
my love to your uncle--I am sure I shall _love him_--tell him he _must
love_ me, for your sake, if not for my own.  Once more adieu, and God
bless you.

"Your own affectionate
    "HELEN HUDSON."

"P.S.--Dicky has scrambled up on my knee, to give me a kiss to send to
his _papa_.  He bids me say that 'Billy, de sheep, quite well; only him
hair wont curl any more, like Dicky's, but begin to grow straight and
ugly, like Mr Listado's."



CHAPTER IX.

OCCIDENTAL VAGARIES.

Early on the Monday, we accordingly started on our journey, and that
evening arrived at very comfortable quarters in St Ann's bay.

We did not get under weigh next morning until the sun was high--it was
nearly ten in the forenoon, as we had only to go the length of Prickly
Pear cottage that day, a property belonging to a crony of mine uncle's,
at which we had promised to dine and spend the night on our way to St
Thomas in the Vale, where we were to call a halt, to attend some
military dinner or another at Bogwalk tavern.

The beauty of St Ann's, the principal grazing parish of Jamaica,
surpassed any notion I had previously formed of it;--the whole district
being a sea of gently undulating hill and valley, covered with the most
luxuriant waving Guinea grass--across which the racking cloudlets,
borne on the wings of the fresh and invigorating breeze, chased each
other cheerily as if it had been one vast hay field, ready for the
scythe--thickly interspersed with groves of pimento and fruit-trees,
whose picturesque situations no _capability_ man could possibly
improve.  The herds of cattle that browsed all round us, whether as to
breed or condition, would have done credit to the first grazing county
in England.  Lord Althorp should go and take a squint at St Ann's--I
daresay the worthies there might make him custos.

At length, as it drew on to three in the afternoon, we saw the cottage
glittering in all the West India glory of green blinds and white paint,
through the grove of fruit-trees in the centre of which it was placed.
It was a long low one-story house, raised about ten feet off the ground
on brick pillars, under which gamboled half-a-dozen goats, and
surrounded by a cool and airy piazza, while the neighbouring thickets
were peppered with a whole cluster of small white-washed buildings,
comprising kitchen, gard-du-mange, houses for the domestics, pigsties,
and poultry-yard.

We dismounted at one end of the piazza, where a door, kept gaping ajar
by a large stone on the floor, to which access was had by a flight of
steps, seemed to invite us to walk in.  We ascended the stair and
entered.  The dark mirrorlike floors, the fragrant odour of the fresh
gathered bitter oranges which had been just used in polishing them, the
green shade of the trees that overshadowed the building, tossing their
branches, and rushing and twittering in the sea breeze--the beautiful
flowers that crept in at every open blind and crevice--(a knot in the
weather boarding could not drop out but in would pop a rose, or a bud
of double jessamine, as if trying to escape the ardent gaze of the
sun)--the twilight of the rooms, and the glorious view of the
everlasting ocean in the distance (with a tiny white winglet of a sail
sliding along here and there), crisped with blue waves, as if the water
had reflected the mackerel sky that glowed over all, until both were
blended out at sea beneath a silvery haze--were indescribably luxurious
and refreshing--their sweet and cooling influences more strongly felt,
from the contrast they afforded to the heat and dust of the lowland
road we had just left.  Oh!  I could--curse it--_there's_ a
mackaw--there _is a_ mackaw--a bird I detest and abominate--so my
poetry is all blown to the moon in a jiffy.  I would rather sit and
listen to the music of the setting of a saw, while enjoying the luxury
of a sick headach.--But let me whistle back my fancy again, and get on
with my story.

Several ladies' work-tables, with the work lying on them, tumbled as it
were in haste, and chairs disarranged, showed that our approach had not
been observed until we were close aboard, and that the fair members of
the family had that moment fled, in order to make themselves
presentable; indeed this was vouched for by the laughing, and
_fistling_, and _keckling_ we heard in a room, whose window opened into
the piazza.

Presently a tidily-dressed brown waiting-maiden, with flowers on her
gown the size of the crown of my hat, and of the gaudiest colours,
popped her head in at the door, and after showing her white teeth,
disappeared.  She had very evidently been sent to reconnoitre, and I
could not avoid overhearing her say in the inner room aforesaid, close
to the open window of which our party were clustered, "Oh, nyung
missis--dere are old massa Frenche--one tall town-looking buccra, wid
big hook nose like one parrot bill--one leetler fat one, hab red face,
and one fonny coat, all tick over wid small silk barrel, and broider
wid black silk lace--And--oh, I forgot--one small slip of a boy, dat
roll side to side so"--here she seemed to be suiting the action to the
word--"like de sailor negro."

Now this was _me_, your honour.

At this moment we heard a noise, as if some one had been scraping the
mud off his shoes at the back part of the house, and giving various
orders at the same time in a loud voice to the servants; then a heavy
step through the lofty hall, and enter a tall, sallow, yellow-snake of
a man, in wide white jane trowsers and waistcoat,--the perspiration
streaming down his face, and dripping from the point of his sun-peeled
nose, while the collar of his shirt and his neckcloth were also very
sudorous.  He wore a threadbare blue coat, the buttons all covered with
verdigris, and a hat--which he kept on, by the way--worn white at the
edges, with the pasteboard frame of it visible where the silk nap had
been rubbed.

"Ah, Frenche," quoth mine host, for it was no other, "how are you, my
dear fellow?  Paul, call your missis--and, Mr Twig, I am so glad to see
you.  Boys, get second breakfast--we have kept it back on purpose."

"Twang," thought I.

"Frenche, my lad, introduce me--your nephew, I presume?"

I bowed, and was shaken furiously by the hand.

"I should have known him, I declare; so like you, my old cock."

"Gammon again," thought I.

"And, Twig, I say, you must introduce me to"--Here he indicated Don
Felix, and prepared to "pull his foot," as the negroes say, in that
direction also--in other words, to make his bow to Monsieur Flamingo,
who was accordingly made known to him in due form, and had his fingers
nearly wrung off, as mine had been.  Don Felix, so soon as he was
released, took an opportunity of catching my eye, shaking them aside,
and blowing the tips as if they had been burned.

The ladies now appeared--our hostess, really a splendid woman, and her
daughter, fresh off the irons from a fashionable English
boarding-school, a very pretty girl, but suffering under prickly heat
(a sort of a what-do-ye-call-um, a kind of Jamaica imitation, but
deucedly like 'tother thing in Scotland notwithstanding); and the
plague of freckles--ods bobs, how I do hate freckles!--where was
I--oh--so our lunch, or second breakfast, was really a very pleasant
one.  From that time until dinner, we talked, and read, and played
bagatelle, and amongst other means employed to kill time, Miss
Cornstick was set to play on the piano.  She was, I make no doubt, a
first-rate performer, and _spanged_ her fingers from the keys as if
they had been red hot iron, and tossed her head about as she sung, and
cast her eyes towards the roof as if she had seen something rather
surprising there.

"That's what I call singing with animation, at all events; oh, how I
wish the pedals were mine enemies," whispered Don Felix.

"Ah, how missie _do_ sing--how him do play on de pinano--wery
extonishing fine," quoth the brown ladies' maid _sotto voce_, behind
the open door of the anteroom, but loud enough for me to overhear.

However, allow for some few trifling peculiarities of this kind, and we
had every reason to be exceedingly pleased with our entertainment; for
we had a capital dinner, and some superb Madeira, and the evening
passed over delightfully on the whole.

When we came to retire, I was shown to my sleeping apartment, a small
room partitioned off from the end of the piazza; that is, altogether
_without_ the brick shell of the house itself.

I had proceeded in disrobing, and was about putting out the candle,
when I heard a "cheep, cheep," overhead, as of a mouse in the paws of
pussy.  I looked up, and lo! an owl, perched on what seemed a shelf,
that ran along the wall overhead, with mousey sure enough in his beak.

"Hillo," said I, "Master Owl, this will never do; you must make
yourself scarce, my boy," and I seized a fishing-rod that happened to
stand in the corner of the room--"there, take that, your owlship," and
I made a blow at him with the but-end, but missed; however it had the
effect of startling him off his perch, and with a loud _squake_, he
took wing round the room.  The first consequence of his vagary was the
extinction of the light, whereby he got the weather-gage of me
regularly, for although he could not see _in the light_, he saw
beautifully _in the darkness_, and avoided my haphazard blows most
scientifically.  At length, amongst other feats of skill, and evidences
of composure, I fractured the _monkey_, or earthen water-jar that
garnished my toilet table, and finally capsized over the steps at the
bedside, to the great loss of the skin on my shinbone, and the large
effusion of my patience.

"Why, Jinker, Jinker!" I could hear a door open.

"Why, Jinker," said a man's voice,--"what noise is that in the piazza,
in the name of wonder?"

_Snore--snort--yawn_.  "Can't tell, massa," replied the negro domestic,
who was thus roused from his lair in the piazza, "but I will go see de
sound, what it is, massa."

"You will," thought I, as I heard him groping and grumbling all
about--"What naise is dat?--my fader--what a knock my nose take again
dat post him--mi say, what naise dat is?" quoth Quashie, more than half
asleep--"Nobody hanswer?  Me say de tird time, what naise, eh?"

I had gathered myself into bed the best way I could, but the owl
continued his gyrations round and round the room, and here gave another
_screech_.  "Ha," said Jinker, "creech howl, massa--creech howl."

"Screech owl!" rejoined Mr Cornstick, for it was he who had spoken;
"how the deuce can a screech owl upset chairs, smash the crockery, and
make such an infernal to do as that?  Get a light, sir."

All this while I was like to choke with laughter.  "Jinker," said I,
"bring a light here, and don't alarm the family.  Tell Mr Cornstick it
is only an owl that has got, I can't tell how, into my room--nothing
more."  I heard Mr Cornstick laugh at this, and say a word of comfort
to Mrs Cornstick, as I supposed, and she again began to console a _wee
skirling_ Cornstick, that I concluded was their bedfellow, and then
shut the door.

Creak--another door opened--"Diana!" said Miss Cornstick, in great
alarm--"Good gracious!  what is _all_ that, Diana?"

"Noting, misses, but one fight between de leetle sailor buccra and one
howl."

"So, here's a mess!  The whole Cornstick family--men, women, and
children--set alive and kicking in the dead of night, by me and my
uninvited visitor!"

Presently Jinker appeared with a lighted candle, but by this time the
owl was nowhere to be seen.

"How him get away, massa?  I no see him."

No more did I.  We continued our search.

"Him cannot possib have creep troo de keyhole."

"I should rather think not," said I; "but there he was, perched up in
that corner, when I first saw him.  He was sitting on that very shelf.
Where the deuce can the creature have stowed himself?"

"Shelf!" said the negro; "shelf!  What shelf, massa?"

"That one there; isn't it a shelf?"

"Shelf!  O no, massa, it is de gutter dat lead de rain from de roof of
de house dat come along here under de eaves of de shingle, you know,
and den pour him into one larsh barrel outside; but tap"----Here Jinker
got on the table, to inspect the lay of the land more perfectly.  "Ah,
I see; he hab come in and go out troo de guttering, sure enough"--(a
square uncovered trough).  "He must have nest hereabout, massa."

"But how shall we _keep_ him out," said I, "now since he is out?"

"Tap, I shall show you.  Give me up one on dem towel, please, massa.  I
will tuff him into de hole till daybroke."

"Indeed, but you shall not do _that_ thing; none of your stopping the
gutter.  Why, only suppose it should rain in the night, Snowball--eh?
Would it not overflow, my beauty?  You don't want to drown me, do you?"

"Massa, no fear of dat--none at all; de moon clear and hard as one
bone; and de star, dem twinkle sharp and bright as one piece broken
glass when de sun shine on him.  No, no, all dry, dry--no rain before
morning.  Rain! dere shan't be no rain for one mont."

"But I am not inclined to take your word for this, my lad; so"----

"Bery well, massa; bery good--massa know betterest; so, since massa
want howl for bedfellow, Jinker can't help it--only massa had better
put someting over him face to cover him nose, or him yeye--basin will
do--oh, howl love piece of de nose of one nyung buccra bery mosh."

Come, thought I, sleeping with a basin on one's face is too absurd
after all; but better even that than be drowned--"So, friend
Jinker,"--I was now resolved--"since _that_ is your name, _stop_ the
hole you _shall not_; therefore, jink out of the room, will ye, for I
am very drowsy."

I fell asleep, but the notion of this said conduit leading through my
room haunted me.  At one moment I dreamed I heard the rain beating on
the roof of the house, and against the blinds; and the next the
rushing, and rippling, and gurgling of the water along the hollow
wooden pipe; then I was wafted by the _sound_--there's a poetical image
for you--to the falls of Niagara, and was standing in the cave of
Eolus, with the strong damp gusts of cold wind eddying and whirling
around me, as if it would have lifted me off my feet on the wings of my
shirt--for mind I had no other garment on--below the Great Horseshoe
fall, with the screen of living waters falling, green and
foam-streaked, like a sheet of flowing-glass, past my eyes, down down,
down--and boiling away into the Devil's Pot under foot.  Anon the
sparkling veil of water was bent towards me, until it touched the tip
of my nose, and I turned to escape; but the basin on my face prevented
my seeing.  But this again soon became transparent, as if the coarse
delf had been metamorphosed into clear crystal, and down thundered the
cascade again--for it had ceased for a moment, you must know--sprinkled
this time with draggle-winged owls, as thick as Bonaparte's coronation
robe with bees.  I was choked, suffocated, and all the rest of it.
"Murder!  Murder!--I am drowned--I am drowned--for ever and entirely
drowned!" and in an agony of fear I struggled to escape, but in
vain--in vain--

  "The waters gather'd o'er me!"

when enter friend Jinker--"Massa, massa, who hurt you?  Who kill you?
Who _ravage_ you?"

Bash; something wet, and cold, and feathery flew against my face--"Oh,
gemini, what is this next!  Lights--lights--lights--my kingdom for a
farthing-candle!"

"Will massa only be pleased to sit down on de bed and be quiet one
moment?" said my sable friend.

I did so; and beginning to breathe--for the falls of Niagara had now
ceased--I rubbed my eyes, and lo! the blessed sun shone brightly
through the lattice just opened by Jinker, and out flew the owl with a
loud screech, more happy to escape than I was to get quit of him
apparently; and flying as a drunken man walks, zig-zag, up and down,
against trees and bushes, until it landed in a pimento-tree about
pistol-shot from the house, where he gave a wild "Hoo, hoo, hoo," as if
he had said, "Thank my stars, I have found rest to the sole of my foot
at last."

But such a scene as the room presented!  Notwithstanding friend
Jinker's prognostication, there _had been_ a heavy shower, and the bed
was deluged with dirty water--the green matter from the shingles
discolouring all the sheets--while from the flooded floor the water was
soaking through the seams, and drip dripping on the dry ground below,
like a shower-bath.--"Now, dat howl! him do it all, massa," quoth
Jinker, "sure as can be."

"Don't you think the rain had somewhat to do with it too, Jinker?"  But
Jinker was deaf as a post.

"Here, you see, when you trike at him, he drap mouse--dere him lie dead
on de table; so he come back when you sleep, and no doubt after de rain
begin, for see de fedder tick on de nail in de gutter, and de howl must
hab been tick in de hole, and choke de water back, and"----

Here Quashie caught a glimpse of my disconsolate physiognomy, all
drenched and forlorn.  It was too much for him; so, forgetting all his
manners, he burst into a long and loud laugh.  However, no serious
damage was done; and at breakfast there was not a little fun at my
expense.

      *      *      *      *      *

It turned out that our entertainer, and his wife and daughter, were
bound on a visit this forenoon to some neighbour; so, as our roads lay
together so far, we all started after breakfast in company.  I was a
good deal amused at the change in the outward _wo_man of my _ladies
maid_, the handsome brown girl in the gay gown already mentioned, who
now appeared stripped of her plumes, without stockings or shoes, in her
Osnaburg chemise, and coarse blue woollen petticoat--the latter garment
shortened, like the tunic of her namesake Diana, by a handkerchief tied
tightly round her waist, just over the hips, exhibiting the turn of her
lower spars to considerably above the knee--with a large bandbox on her
head covered with oilskin, and a good cudgel in her hand.  I asked Mr
Cornstick how far they were going.  He answered it was a ride of
fifteen miles, and, in the same breath, he called out to the brown
damsel, "Say we shall be there by second breakfast time, Diana."

"Yes, massa."

"Mind we don't get there before you."

"No fear of dat, massa," said the silvan goddess, smiling, as she
struck off through the woods at a pace that would have pleased Captain
Barclay exceedingly.  It appeared that she was to take a short cut
across the hills.

"How can that girl _trust_ her naked limbs in such a brake?" said I.

"Why not, don't you see she is a _chased_ goddess?" said Don Felix.

"Now, Flamingo, I verily believe you will peck at a grain of
mustard-seed next," quoth friend Twig.

We started; Mrs Cornstick on a stout pony, with the head servant, Mark
Antony, by name, but as ugly a flat-nosed _nigger_ as Christian could
desire to clap eyes on by _nature_, holding on by its tail.  Then came
Miss Cornstick on _her_ palfrey, with a similar pendant, but her page
was a fine handsome mulatto boy; while we brought up the rear--the
whole cavalcade being closed by the mounted servants.  By and by, the
road being good, although mountainous, we spanked along at a smart
rate, and it was then that the two fellows pinned to the ladies'
tails--the tails of their ponies, I beg pardon--showed their paces in a
most absurd fashion, making great flying strides at every step, so as
to keep time with the canter of the quadrupeds.  They looked like two
dancing-masters gone mad.  I thought of Cutty Sark clutching the tail
of Tam O'Shanter's grey mare Meg.

"Do you see that humming-bird?" said Jacob Twig, who was giving me a
cast in his curricle--Flamingo having changed into my uncle's gig.
Crack--he knocked it down on the wing with his whip, as it hovered over
some flowers on the roadside.  "That's what I call a good shot now."

"Ah, but a very cruel one," said I.

"Sorry for it--shan't do it again, Mr Brail."

"Safe in that," thought I.

On coming to a cross-road, the Cornsticks struck off to the left, and,
saying good-by, we stood on our course.

Nothing particular occurred until we were descending the hill into St
Thomas in the Vale.  The sun was shining brightly without a cloud.  The
jocund breeze was rushing through the trees, and dashing their masses
of foliage hither and thither; turning up the silvery undersides of the
leaves at one moment, and then changing their hues into all shades of
green the next.  The birds were glancing and chirping amongst the
branches.  The sleek cattle were browsing lazily and contentedly on the
slope of the hill; and the merry negro gangs were shouting and laughing
at their work--but the vulture was soaring over all in pride of place;
eagle-like, far up in the clear blue firmament, as if the abominable
bird had been the genius of the yellow fever, hovering above the fair
face of nature, ready to stoop and blast it.

The sky gradually darkened--all cloudless as it was--for there was not
a shred of vapour floating in its pure depths so big as the hand of the
servant of the prophet.  The gloom increased--not that kind of twilight
that precedes the falling of the night--but a sort of lurid purple hue
that began mysteriously to pervade the whole atmosphere, as if we had
been looking forth on the landscape through a piece of glass stained
with smoke.

"Heyday," said Felix, "what's the matter?  I see no clouds, yet the sun
is overcast.  It increases;"--the oxen on the hill sides turned and
looked over their shoulders with a puzzled look, as if they did not
know what to make of it, no more than ourselves--"Can't be time to go
home to take our night spell in that weary mill yet, surely?"

The large carrion crows rapidly declined in their flight, narrowing
their sweeping circles gradually, until they pirouetted down, and
settled, with outstretched wings, on the crags above us; startling
forth half a dozen bats, and a slow sailing owl, the latter fluttering
about as if scarcely awake, and then floating away steadily amongst the
bushes, as if he had said--"Come, it must be the _gloaming_ after
all--so here goes for mousey."

The negroes suddenly intermitted the chipping and tinkling of their
hoes, and the gabbling of their tongues, as they leant on the shanks of
the former, and looked up.  "Heigh, wurra can be come over de daylight,
and no shell blow yet?"[1]


[1] The gangs are turned in at dinner-time by the sounding of a conch
shell.


We now perceived the chirping of insects and reptiles that usually
prevails, during the hours of night in the West Indies, begin to breeze
up.  First a lizard would send forth a solitary whistle, as much as to
say, "It can't be night yet surely?"  Then, from the opposite side of
the way, another would respond, with a low startled "_wheetle
wheetle_," which might be interpreted, "Indeed but it is though;" and
on this, as if there had been no longer any doubt about the matter, the
usual concert of crickets, beetles, lizards, and tree toads, buzzed
away as regularly as if it had indeed been evening in very truth.

"An eclipse of the sun," said I, and sure enough so it was; for in half
an hour it gradually lightened again, and every thing became once more
as bright and cheery, and everyday-like as before.

We arrived at Bogwalk tavern to dinner, where we found a grand party of
the officers of the regiment of foot militia, and also of the troop.
The general commanding the district had reviewed them that morning, and
was to have dined with them, but for some reason or another he had to
return to Spanish Town immediately after the review.  It was a
formidable thing meeting so many red coats and gay laced blue jackets;
and, of course, I was much gratified to learn, that the brown company
fired remarkably well--how steadily the grenadiers passed in
review--and how soldier-like Captain M'----, who commanded the light
horse, had given the word of command.

"How thoroughly your horse is broke now, Mac.," said a tall man, with a
nose like a powder-horn--"steady as a rock, and such courage!"

"Courage!" rejoined Captain Mac., "he would charge up to the mouth of a
cannon."

"Ay," whispered Flamingo to me, "if a bag of corn were hung on the
muzzle."

We started early, as the night fell, and arrived in Spanish Town the
same evening; and next day were comfortably domiciled in Squire
Flamingo's mansion in Kingston.

It was the race week, and the town had gathered all the fashion of the
island--nothing could be gayer.

Our friend Twig had several running horses, and altogether the
bare-legged black jockeys, with the stirrup-irons held between their
toes, parrot fashion, and the slight thorough-bred things they rode,
acquitted themselves extremely well; besides, we had matches amongst
the officers of the garrison, and theatricals, and pig races, and I
don't know what all.

Speaking of theatricals, if you will wait a moment I will tell you of
an amusing playhouse row that I happened to witness, and wherein my
friend Flamingo and myself bore conspicuous parts _by mistake_.

It happened to be an amateur performance, and we had just seated
ourselves in the second row of a buccra box, near the stage.

I was admiring the neatness of the house, which was great for a
provincial theatre any where, and the comical appearance the division
of castes produced, as thus:--The pit seemed to be almost exclusively
filled with the children of Israel, as peculiar in their national
features here as everywhere else; the dress boxes contained the other
white inhabitants and their families; the second tier the brown
_ladies_, who seemed more intent on catching the eyes of the young
buccras _below_, than attending to the civil things the males of their
own shade were pouring into their ears _above_; the gallery was
tenanted by Bungo himself, in all his glory of black face, blubber
lips, white eyes, and ivory teeth.  This black parterre being powdered
here and there with a sprinkling of white sailors, like snowdrops in a
bed of purple anemones; Jack being, as usual on such occasions, pretty
well drunk.

A very nice-looking fresh complexioned little man was sitting on the
same bench along with us on the right hand--that is, next the
stage--and a young stray Hebrew, having eschewed the pit, sat on our
left--we were thus between them--a post of no small danger, as it
turned out.  There had been some wrangling between these parties before
we entered, for no sooner had Flamingo and I taken our seats, than
Moses said _across us_, but, as it afterwards appeared, intending to
address the _gentleman already mentioned_, "If you say that again, sir,
I will pull your nose."

Thereupon, up rose the _short_ ruddy man, and up rose the _long_ Don
Felix, each appropriating the insult to himself; but Flam, who never
dreamed that any nose could be spoken of when his own kidney potato was
in company, was first, and levelled little Moses in an instant.  This
was the signal for the sea of Jews in the pit to toss its billows; and,
like a great cauldron, to popple and hiss, until it boiled over into
the boxes, in a roaring torrent, that speedily overthrew both Don
Felix, the little ruddy man, and _I Benjie_, who had neither part nor
portion in the quarrel, _into the bargain_; and such a pommelling I
never got before or since.

Whatever Moses's creed might have been, he spared not my _bacon_ that
blessed night, as my poor ribs witnessed for many a long day.

In the midst of the uproar, a magistrate--a most excellent and sedate
personage--planted his back against the pillar, immediately behind me,
where a cohort of parrot bills had already turned the flank of the
brave little red man, and were threatening my own rear, left uncovered
by the destruction of both of my coat skirts.  Here he shouted at the
top of his pipe to "keep the peace;" but one of the assailants, a
powerful bluebeard, speedily gagged _him_, by passing his arm round his
neck, and pinning him to the post, as if he had been a culprit
undergoing the Spanish punishment of the _garrote_.

At length the row became so serious and _national_, that the whole
house was likely to side with one or other of the parties; the manager,
therefore, fearing for the safety of his theatre, sent for the chief
magistrate in town (not the mayor, who was absent), and he fortunately
made his appearance very promptly, with a party of police; the row on
this was fast subsiding, until a very ludicrous incident made it breeze
up again with twofold violence, like flax steeped in turpentine cast on
a smouldering fire.  For the last ten minutes Don Felix had
disappeared, having been literally trodden down, after a fall on
missing his blow at the Goliah who led the assault; and when the storm
abated, and he could screw himself from under the benches where he had
been forced, the first thing he did, in his haste and confusion, was
_to throttle the very man of authority himself_; taking him for one of
the enemy.  The tumult again increased on this, and we now ran some
chance of being extinguished altogether; for a gigantic black-whiskered
Israelite had upheaved a stick, which threatened to prove the thickness
of my skull, had there been any doubt about it, when I was saved by the
timely succour afforded by a powerful sailor-looking chap, who had
fought his way towards us, clearing a path right and left amongst our
enemies, like a walking windmill.

"Foul, foul--stick against fist--fair play is a jewel," sung out the
windmill, whom, it flashed on me at the moment, I had seen before, and
suiting the action to the word, he seized him of the black whisker and
parrot nose, neck and croup, and pitched him down bodily into the
thickest of the troubled waters of the pit, as if he had been a
juvenile branch of the grunter family--not pig upon pork, however, but
Jew upon Jew, where he floundered on the sea of heads for a minute,
like a harpooned whale come to the surface to breathe, and then sank,
to have his ribs very sufficiently kneaded by the knees and feet of his
rebellious compatriots.

Having accomplished this feat, the sailor, as if desirous of escaping
observation, slid out of the _mêlée_, and I lost sight of him.

The fight continued, but the police were by this time masters; and
fortunately we were taken into custody, and bailed by our friends.
Next day we escaped with a fine.

At breakfast Twig was comforting us.  "Poo, poo--never mind--it was all
a mistake--all a mistake, you know."

"Yes," quoth Don Felix, "but my ribs are not the less sore; no mistake
there I assure you."

"And the skirts of my coat," said I.

But to return to the races.  On one occasion, a certain Captain Jack
Straw, master of one of the London ships, and the collector of the
customs, were two of Flamingo's guests at dinner, and a match was made
between them, to come off next morning.

It was given out to be a trial of bottom, as they were to ride six
times round the race course.  Now the latter was a measured mile; a
six-mile heat, thought I, in such a climate, and the owners to ride!
However, there was nothing more said about it, and I had forgotten it,
until Mr Flamingo took me out in his Stanhope at daybreak the next
morning to see the racers sweated; and there, the first thing that met
our eyes was old Straw sure enough, with his hat tied under his chin by
a red bandana, and his trowsers shuffled up to his knees, ambling along
mighty fussily, on a great chestnut mare, as unlike a race-horse, as
one could well fancy an individual of the same species to be; for
although he _appeared_ to be cantering along, the pace was so sluggish,
that we passed him easily in a trot.  Those who have seen Ducrow in the
Tailor riding to Brentford, caprioling on the stage as if he were going
fifteen knots an hour, while he never shoots a single fathom a-head,
will form a good idea of our friend's appearance and style of
locomotion.

"Well, Jack," cried Flamingo, "how come you on? who wins?"

Here the collector came rattling up astern, deucedly well mounted,
standing in his stirrups, his long nose poked between his horse's ears,
and riding, regular jockey fashion, without his coat, a handkerchief
tied round his head, and his whip crossed in his teeth, and sawing away
with his hands.

As he passed the old sailor, he pulled up--

"Now, Jack, do give in, and don't boil me to jelly; you see I have done
four rounds of the course, while you have not completed two.  You must
be aware you have no chance; so give in, and come and breakfast with
me--do, that's a good fellow."

"Give in!" roared Jack, "give in, indeed!  That's a good one--why, the
old mare's bottom is only beginning to tell--give in, Master
Collector!--No, no--besides, I see your horse is blown--there, mind he
don't bolt; give in, indeed!"

And thereupon he made a devil of a splutter; heels, arms, and head all
in a fidget, and away shot his antagonist once more, leaving Jack
puffing and bobbing on his asthmatic mare, up and down, up and down, in
a regular hobby-horsical fashion, as like his own heavy-sterned ship
digging through a head sea on a bowline, as could well be imagined.

However, the collector _did_ win, which honest Jack had foreseen all
along, although the six-mile gallop had put him into a rare fever; but
bearing no malice, as he said, after handsomely paying the stakes, he
went and breakfasted, according to invitation, with his conqueror.

That day at dinner we met both the equestrians, when Jack told us with
great glee, as one does a good joke, that his mate had run three pipes
of Cognac and twenty dozen of claret, during the time the coast _was
clear_, but that he had satisfied his conscience by sending a case of
the latter to the _friend_ he had so cleverly kept in play, with his
compliments, "not to ride races of six-mile heats again, before
breakfast."

As we rode up to the course next evening, at four o'clock, as usual, we
were somewhat late, and found the rope drawn across the ingress at the
bottom of the race ground.  The bugle to saddle had sounded some time
before; so we had to pull up where we were, in order to see the horses
pass.  We were standing with our horses' heads close to the ropes, when
an overseer of some neighbouring estate rode up, pretty well primed,
and, to our great surprise, charged the rope, which he did not appear
to see.  He was only trotting his mule, however, and there was no haste
or violence about him; but when the rope checked the animal, he gave a
drunken pitch, but all as quiet as could be, and toppled over its head
quite gently, as if he had been a sack, into the ride, where, after
making one or two sprawling movements with his feet, he lay still, with
the beast looking at him from the other side of the rope, and poking
down its head, and snorting and snoking at him.  The next bugle
sounded, the horses were away, and some of the lookers-on had just time
to drag the poor fellow off the course by the legs, when they passed us
like a whirlwind.

"Tree to one on Moses," cried one sable amateur, for if we had not
altogether the _style_ of Newmarket, it was from no want of _Blacklegs_.

"Six to one on Blue Peter," quoth another ragged neger.

"Five to one on Mammy Taws."

"Slap Bang against de field."  And all was anxiety about the race; but
no one took any notice of the poor overseer, who lay still and
motionless on the side of the dry ditch that surrounds the course.

At length, seeing the poor creature broiling in the hot sun, we
dismounted to help him up.

"Massa," said a negro, taking his arm, "he must be well dronk dis
buccra.  See how him hand drop again when I lift him--supple like one
new-kill snake."

"Supple enough," said Dr ----, who now rode up, and felt his pulse
first, and then his neck.  "Poor fellow! supple as he is now, he will
be soon stark and stiff enough.  His neck is broken--_that's all_."

"Neck broken!" said Flamingo and I in a breath, much shocked.

"Yes, and dead as Julius Cæsar.  But, pray, did you notice if the White
Jacket and Black Cap came in?"

_The man had, in very truth, actually broken his neck_.

Several evenings after this, I was engaged with a fishing party, in a
canoe, near the top of the harbour, at a cove where the prizes of the
squadron were usually moored, previous to their being sold.  It was a
very fine evening, and the sun was setting gloriously in the west--as
where else should he have set?  Our sport had been very good, and we
were thinking of taking up the grapnel.

"I say, Brail," said Flamingo, "let us go and inspect the Morne
Fortunee there."  This was a French privateer, one of the captured
vessels, that lay about a cable's length from where we were.

"Come along, then--there, string the fish, Twister.  Up anchor, boys,
and pull for that brig."

As we approached, we saw a man get into a small skiff that lay
alongside, with two black fellows in it, rather hurriedly, and pull for
the shore.

The last rays of the evening sun shone brightly on him, as he passed
us, and I had a good squint at his face.  He gave me a piercing look
also, and then suddenly turned away.

"Eh! no, it can't be--by Mercury, but it is though!  Why, there _is_
the fellow that saved my _bacon_ from the Jew at the theatre, I
declare.  And more than that, when I piece several floating notions
together--why, Don Felix, there goes, as large as life, the Master
Wilson of Montego bay."

"You don't say so?" quoth Flamingo.  "Stop, we have four fellows in the
boat besides ourselves and the servant, and here is my gun.  And Quacco
there is an old soldier.  Boys, give way after that boat--one dollar,
if you beat him."

"Hurrah! hurrah for massa!"  And away we shot after the skiff, which,
as yet, was proceeding very leisurely, so that we rapidly gained on it.
As we came up within pistol-shot, the chase lay on his oars, and the
person steering looked steadily at us.  I was not so sure of him now.
He had a deep scar down his left cheek, which the other had not.

"Do you want any thing with me, gentlemen?"  This simple question
fairly posed us.

"No--not--that is--pull the starboard oars."  The last sentence I spoke
to the negroes in a whisper, and the effect of the fulfilment of the
order was to bring the bow of the canoe within a couple of yards of the
broadside of the skiff.  The stranger, at this suspicious movement,
made a sign to his men, who stretched out with the thews of gladiators.
This broke the ice.

"After him, my lads," cried Flamingo.

We were now within a quarter of a mile of the narrow neck of sand that
divides the harbour from the sea, here about fifty yards broad, and not
above three feet high; so that, although the skiff was evidently
heading us, yet we had every prospect of being up in time to seize the
crew before they could haul her across, and launch her through the surf
on the sea-face of the bank.

"There he is ashore.  Murder, how handily the black fellows walk off
with the skiff, as if it were paper."

As Don Felix spoke, we also took the ground, and he and I jumped out,
and pushed after the strangers.  When we got within ten yards of them,
the party of whom I had suspicions turned resolutely, and made a step
towards us.

"I do not know to what circumstance I am indebted for the pleasure of
your company, gentlemen," said he quite calmly.  "Will you please to
make known your desire?"

Here Flamingo, Quacco, and one of the canoe-men made as if they would
pass him, and get between him and the beach, where his people were in
the very act of launching the skiff through the surf.  When he saw
this, he smiled bitterly, and drew his belt tighter, but all with the
utmost coolness.  He then, as if setting about some necessary labour,
walked up to Quacco, by far the most powerful of our party, and seizing
him by the throat, dashed him to one side, and a black fellow to the
other, as if they had been children; he then deliberately walked into
the water up to his waist, clambered into the skiff, and before we
could count twenty, he was pulling right out to sea, without once
looking behind him.

"Heave to, or I'll fire at you, by Jupiter!" roared Don Felix.

The stranger still did not deign to look round, occupying himself in
bailing out the water that the skiff had taken in the shove through the
surf.

Flamingo repeated the threat, levelling his fowling-piece; at which our
friend slowly held up a bright-barrelled article, that he took from the
bottom of the boat, more like a swivel than a blunderbuss.  At sight of
this, Don Felix dropped his gun as if the barrel had burned his
fingers, whipped both hands under the skirts of his coat, wheeling
round on one leg at the same time, and drawing himself up to his full
height, and grinning and shutting his eyes, and slewing his head on one
side, as if he had been trying to present the smallest possible surface
to the pelting of a hail shower.  The stranger, at this, slowly
replaced the weapon, and in a twinkling was out of gun-shot, pulling
towards a schooner lying becalmed outside of the keys.

"I say, Brail, did you see that glancing affair in his hand?  Was it a
carronade, think you, or a long eighteen-pounder?  Why, it might have
doodled our whole party as regularly as Rory Macgregor did his own
ducks."

On returning, we went on board the prize brig, from which we had
startled our friend, and found the arm-chest on the poop broken open,
and the contents scattered all about the deck, as if the party had been
picking and choosing.

"So, so, I see what our honest man has been after," said I.

There was no prize-keeper on board; and, knowing this, the visit of the
skiff had unquestionably been for the purpose of purloining arms.

      *      *      *      *      *

"Jackson," said a gentleman at dinner, at the house where I dined that
day, "any further accounts from windward?"

"No; there are two schooners, the Humming Bird and Sparkle, on the
look-out; but no tidings of the infernal little felucca."

"Felucca! felucca!" said I, looking across the table at Don Felix.
"Pardon me, sir, what felucca were you speaking of?"

"Why, that is more than I can tell you, sir; but she has plundered
three London ships off Morant bay within this last week; one of them
belonging to me, and in my case the captain and crew were most cruelly
treated; but now, when two men-of-war schooners are cruising for her,
she has vanished like a spectre."

"Yes," said another of the party; "and the John Shand was boarded
yesterday evening by the same vessel off Yallahs, and robbed of a
chronometer; but the boarding officer, by way of _amende_, I suppose,
politely handed the captain the _Kingston papers of the morning_."

"Ho, ho, Master Wilson," thought I.

      *      *      *      *      *

"Cockadoodle doo--doo--doo!"  Never was there such a place as Kingston
for the crowing of cocks.  In other countries cocks sleep at night and
crow in the morning, like respectable birds; but here, confound them,
they crow through the whole livelong night; and, towards daydawn, it is
one continuous stream of cock-crowing all over the town.

      *      *      *      *      *

Some days after the transaction already related, Messrs Flamingo and
Twig carried me to dine at the Court-House with the officers on duty
with the militia Christmas guard.  It was an artillery company, in
which Don Felix held a commission, that had the guard, the captain of
which was a very kind, but roughspun genius.  However, his senior
lieutenant, Jessamy by name, was a perfect contrast to him, and a
deuced handsome fellow; so he made up for it.  Quite a Frenchman in his
manners and dress, but, so far as I could judge, with what is vulgarly
called a "bee in his bonnet."  Nevertheless, he was an excellent young
man at bottom, although his nonsense, which was rather entertaining at
first, became a little _de trop_ when the bottle began to
circulate;--for instance, he insisted, after dinner, on showing us the
last Parisian step, and then began to jabber French, for display, as it
were,--finishing off by asking me _who made my coat_.  Now, I cannot
endure people noticing one's externals; so I stared, and gave him no
answer at first; but he pinned me to the wall,--so I mentioned my
tailor's name--Stultz.

"Ah! the only man in England who can _cut_; but the German _Schneiders_
who take root in Paris eclipse him entirely.  Ah! the German
_exactitude_ and Parisian taste combined!  Nothing like it, Mr
Brail--nothing like it, my dear sir.  There, what think you of that
fit?" jumping up and showing his back, to which his garment clung like
a sign at a shop-door.

I applauded amazingly, as he wriggled himself this way and that.

"Hillo! what's that?" said the captain.

"The tocsin, the tocsin--the fire-bell, as I am a gentleman," quoth his
gay sub.  And sure enough the church bell was clanging away at a
furious rate, and the fire-engines began to lumber and rattle past;
while the buz in the streets, and the tramp of people running along the
brick-paved piazzas below, told plainly enough that a fire had actually
broken out somewhere.

"Guard, turn out--guard, turn out!" roared mine host, full of military
ardour.  And the sudden tap of the drum was followed by a bustle, and
heavy trampling, and the clatter and clash of muskets from the guard
room, showing that the command had been obeyed with great alacrity.

We had been boozing in the Grand-Jury Room, which was connected with
the piazza in front of the Court-House, or temporary guard-house, by a
long wooden gangway, so that we had to pass the principal entrance to
the latter, before descending to the street, where the men were
mustering.  It seemed that the jovial train-bands had been making as
good use of their time as we had been doing; for the long table before
the bench, where in term-time the lawyers used to congregate, was
profusely covered with cold meats, glasses, and wine-decanters.

We were a good deal surprised to see a large earthen pipkin, about five
feet high, used to hold water, that had been taken from the drip, or
filter-stone frame, where it usually stood in a corner, now planted in
the middle of the floor, with (of all things in the world) a red,
drunken face sticking out of it, crowned with a hat and feather.  This
was one of the invincibles, who had been made drunk, and then thrust
into it by his comrades; and he must have found his quarters somewhat
of the dampest, for the vessel was more than half full, as we could
hear, from the splashing of the culprit's limbs.  In his struggles,
presently he upset it, and rolled about on the floor, with the water
gushing and gurgling out at his neck; while he kept shouting that they
had changed the liquor on him.

There could be no fault found with the zeal and promptitude with which
the gallant bombardiers _fell_ in; but I am sorry to say that more than
one of them very speedily _fell_ out, or rather tumbled out; for I
cannot speak so favourably of their steadiness under arms as I could
wish.  It was no doubt a time of profound quietness and peace, so that
some relaxation of the rules and articles of war was allowable; for the
negroes were thinking of nothing but fun and dancing, and those
Christmas guards were more a matter of form, or to air the young
officers' gay uniforms, than any thing else.  Our gallant captain
himself was not quite so staid in his carriage at this time as the
Archbishop of Canterbury usually is in the House of Lords, as his mode
of carrying on speedily evinced; first, of all absurdities in the
world, he chose to open the campaign by making a speech to his men,
concluding with "England expects every man to do his duty."--"Now,
men--let us proceed to _buzziness_" (what a mouthful he took of the
word, to be sure).  "Shoulder arms."  Up went the firelocks to the
shoulders of the tipsy heroes, very _promiscuously_, as Jonathan says.
He then gave the word to "fix bayonets."  Now, to those who understand
the setting of a squadron in the field, to obey _this_ was a physical
impossibility to _men_ who were standing with their muskets
_shouldered_, whatever it might have been to _monkeys_.

The captain, _hearing_ there was something wrong, from the clatter of
men and muskets, for it was pitch dark, called out--"Are all your
bayonets fixed?"

"The devil a one of them," said a drunken voice; "nor can be, unless
you send for a ladder--or, and _it would be the cheapest plan
probably_, tell us to order arms again."

Of the two alternatives, the last was chosen; the muskets were ordered,
and the bayonets at length fixed; but all this, and the difficulty of
getting the squad under weigh in any thing like tolerable marching
order, took up time; and, from the dying away of the uproar in the
distance, it seemed to me that before we got through with our
manoeuvres the fire might be out, and the necessity for the display of
so much skill and courage have passed over.

"Double quick time--march;--now scull along, ye devils, or the fire
will be out," sung out the captain; and away we raced in single file.

The negroes are always most active on occasions of this kind, and as
every householder is obliged to have a certain number of leathern fire
buckets always in readiness hung in some accessible place, _pro bono
publico_, with his name painted on them, they had as usual armed
themselves with them on the present occasion; so we soon came to a
double line of black fellows, extending from the scene of the fire to a
public well, down one file of which the empty buckets were being
handed, while the full ones circulated upwards to the fire engines by
the other.

The poor fellows were so busy and zealous that they did not immediately
make an opening for the head of our gay column.  But we were not to be
stopped by trifles; so--"Charge bayonets, men, and clear your own way,"
sung out the captain.  The leading file did so; but, as the devil would
have it, so did the files in the rear, whereby every man gave his file
leader a most sufficing progue.  A general stumble and grumble took
place upon this.

"Mind your bayonet, sir."

"My eye! you have stuck me in the shoulder."

"Murder! you have piqued me, I don't know where."

At length down tumbled the brave bombardier who was leading the forlorn
hope; and away went the others helter-skelter on the top of him;
Quashie giving a sly dash of his bucket over the sprawling mass of
fallen militaires every now and then, just to cool their ardour.
However, they soon gathered themselves up again, and Flamingo, who was
the junior lieutenant, now brought up the rear, with me, Benjie,
alongside of him.  He was quite sober, so far as appearances went, but
determined to have some fun, I could see.  The fire had been in a
narrow lane at the top of the town, and was by this time got under, as
I expected.  Notwithstanding, away we tramped, and were advancing up
the lane, when we saw the glare of flambeaux, and heard all the
confusion and uproar usually attendant on a fire.  There was an engine
planted right in front of us, at a crossing, that was still playing on
the house that had been burning.  It was directed by a drunken Irish
carpenter, who saw us well enough, I am persuaded; for the moment he
thought he had the Spartan band within the play of his pipe, he let
fly; and drenched every man and officer as they came up--all but
Flamingo, who had drawn me into a doorway until the shower blew over.

"Stop, sir; stop your infernal machine," roared the captain.

Whiz--whiz--whiz--splash--splash--splutter, was the only answer.

"Advance and storm the battery, men;" and, drawing his sword, he led
them to the attack, like a hero as he was; receiving the fire (water, I
mean) of the engine full in his face, in all its force and fury, as he
advanced, which knocked off his hat, and nearly choked him.

At length the engine was captured, when the fellow in charge made a
thousand apologies.  "May the devil burn me," said he, "if I did not
take the sparkle of the officers' gorgets, and the flash of the
bayonets, for a new outbreak of the fire."

However, there was now no use for any farther military demonstration;
so we countermarched, like a string of water-rats, to the Court-House,
to console ourselves with hot negus and deviled biscuit.  A blind man
could have traced the party by the watery trail they left on the dry
sandy street.

After this we spent a most jovial fortnight, but the time of our
departure at length arrived.  Poor Jessamy, the gay artilleryman above
spoken of, was one of a party at our farewell dinner at Flamingo's, two
evenings before we intended to start on our return home.  He appeared
out of spirits, and left the first of the whole company.  Next day, it
seemed, he had taken an early dinner alone, and ridden out no one could
tell where.  In the evening he did not return to his lodgings; but
still no alarm was taken.  On the morrow, however, when he did not make
his appearance at his place of business, his friends became alarmed;
especially as it was found that one of the pistols in his pistol-case
had been taken away.

My uncle was very desirous of postponing his departure until the poor
young fellow had been accounted for, as he was a favourite of his; but
matters at home pressed, and we were obliged to return.  Accordingly,
we left our kind friends in Kingston next day at early dawn, on a most
beautiful, clear, cool morning in January.  No one who has not
luxuriated in it, can comprehend the delights of a West India climate
at this season.  Except at high noon, the air was purity itself.  Our
road home lay through the Liguania, or rather Saint George's mountains,
as we had a short visit to pay in the latter parish to an old friend of
Mr Frenche.

It was about nine in the morning; we had breakfasted at the Hope
tavern, and proceeded three or four miles on our homeward journey, when
a Kingston gentleman of our acquaintance, accompanied by an overseer of
one of the neighbouring estates, overtook us, but did not pull up,
merely giving us a salute as he rode quickly past us.

"Our friend is in a hurry this morning," said mine uncle.

We rode on, and shortly after saw the same horsemen coming back again,
with an addition to their party of another equestrian.

"Pray, Mr Frenche," said the Kingston gentleman, "did you see a
saddle-horse without a rider as you came along?"'

"Yes I did.  I saw a good-looking bay cob down on the hill side, close
to the gully there; but I thought his owner could not be far off, so I
paid little regard to it."

"God bless me! it must be poor Jessamy's horse; where can he be?"

"Is it known what has become of Mr Jessamy?" said I.

"We can't tell, we can't tell; but he has been traced in this
direction, and it must have been his horse you saw; he has not been
heard of since the day before yesterday at dinner-time."

We knew this; but still had hoped he would have been accounted for by
this time.  My uncle was a good deal moved at this, for the poor young
fellow was well known to him, as already hinted.

"I will turn back with you," said he, "and point out whereabouts the
horse was seen.  But I hope your fears will prove groundless after all."

The gentleman shook his head mournfully, and, after retrograding about
a mile, we again caught sight of the animal we were in search of,
eating his grass composedly below us, on the brink of the rocky
mountain stream.

Close by, in a nook or angle of the mountain, and right below us, was a
clump of noble trees, surrounding an old ruinous building, and
clustered round a wild cotton one, beneath whose shadow the loftiest
English oak would have shrunk to a bush.  Embraced by two of the huge
armlike limbs of the leafy monarch, and blending its branches
gracefully, as if clinging for support, grew a wide-spreading
star-apple; its leaves, of the colour of the purple beech, undulating
gently in the sea-breeze, upturned their silvery undersides to the sun,
contrasting beautifully with the oak-like foliage of the cotton-tree.
Half a dozen turkey buzzards, the Jamaica vulture, were clustered in
the star apple-tree, with a single bird perched as a sentry on the
topmost branch of the giant to which it clung; while several more were
soaring high overhead, diminished in the depths of the blue heaven to
minute specks, as if they scented the prey afar off.

The ruin we saw had been an old Spanish chapel, and a number of the
fruit-trees had no doubt been planted by the former possessors of the
land.  Never was there a more beautiful spot; so sequestered, no sound
being heard in the vicinity but the rushing of the breeze through the
highest branches of the trees; for every thing slept motionless and
still down below in the cool checkering shadow and sleepy sunlight
where we were--the gurgling of the stream, that sparkled past in
starlike flashes, and the melancholy lowing of the kine on the hillside
above.  When the Kingston gentleman first saw the "John Crows," as they
are called, he exchanged glances with my uncle, as much as to say, "Ah!
my worst fears are about being realized."  We rode down the precipitous
bank by a narrow path--so narrow indeed, that the bushes through which
we had to thrust ourselves met over our saddle-bows--and soon arrived
in the rocky bed of the stream, where the rotten and projecting bank of
the dry mould that composed the consecrated nook, overhung us, as we
scrambled, rattling and sliding amongst the slippery and smooth rolled
stones of the gully; while we were nearly unhorsed every now and then
by the bare roots projecting from the bank, where it had been
undermined when the stream had been swollen.

We had to dismount, and the first thing we saw on scrambling up the
bank was a pair of vultures,[2] who jumped away, with outspread wings,
a couple of yards from the edge of it, the moment we put our heads up,
holding their beaks close to the short green sward, and hissing like
geese.


[2] Nothing can be conceived more hideous than the whole aspect of
these abominable birds.  They are of the size of a large turkey, but
much stronger, and of a sooty brown.  Their feathers are never sleek or
trimmed, but generally staring, like those of a fowl in the pip, and
not unfrequently covered with filth and blood, so that their approach
is made known by an appeal to more senses than one.  The neck and head
are entirely naked of feathers, and covered with a dingy red and
wrinkled skin.  They are your only West India scavengers, and are
protected by a penalty of fifteen dollars for every one that is
intentionally killed.


As we advanced, they retired into the small thicket, and we followed
them.  I never can forget the scene that here opened on our view.

The fruit-trees, amongst which I noticed the orange, lemon, lime, and
shaddock, intermingled with the kennip, custard-apple, bread-fruit, and
mango, relieved at intervals by a stately and minaret-looking palm,
formed a circle about fifty feet in diameter; the open space being
covered, with the exception hereafter mentioned, with short emerald
green grass; in the very centre of this area stood the ruin,
overshadowed by the two trees already described.  It was scarcely
distinguishable from a heap of green foliage, so completely was it
overrun with the wild yam and wild fig-tree; the latter lacing and
interlacing over the grey stones with its ligneous fret-work; in some
places the meshes composed of boughs as thick as a man's arm, in others
as minute as those of a small seine, all the links where the fibres
crossed having grown into each other.

We continued our approach, following the two turkey buzzards, who at
length made a stand under the star-apple tree, where the grass was long
and rank, as if it had grown over a grave, hissing and stretching out
their wings, nearly seven feet from tip to tip, and apparently
determined to give battle, as if they had now retreated to their prey.
Seeing us determined, however, they gave a sort of hop, or short
flight, and gently lifted themselves on to a branch of the tree above,
about four feet from the ground, where they remained observing us, and
uttering hoarse, discordant croaks, sounding as if they had been gorged
to the throat with carrion already, and shaking their heads, and
snorting as if their nostrils had been choked with rotten flesh;
polluting the air at the same time with a horrible stench, and casting
wistful glances down into the tuft of rank grass beneath.

This state of suspense was horrible, so with one accord we drove the
obscene creatures from their perch, and stepping forward, looked into
the rank tuft.  Heaven and earth! what a sight was _there_--Stretched
on the ground, embedded in the quill-like guinea-grass that bristled up
all around him, lay poor Jessamy on his face; his clothes soaked and
soiled by the rain of the two preceding nights, and the vile poaching
of the vultures now congregated in the tree above, which appeared to
have been circling round and round him, from the filth and dirt, and
trodden appearance of the herbage; but as yet deterred from making an
attack.  The majesty of the human form, all dim and mangled though it
was, like a faint, but sacred halo, had quelled the fierceness of their
nature, and the body of the suicide was still unbroken, even after the
lapse of two days, except by the shattering of the pistol-shot fired by
his own sacrilegious hands.  Had it been the carcass of an ox, twelve
hours could not have run by, before the naked skeleton would have been
bleaching in the sun and wind.

There was a broken halter hanging from the branch above him.

"I cannot look at him," said my uncle, shrinking back in disgust; and
as he spoke, the John Crows dropped down again, and began to move
warily about the body, but still afraid to attack it.

Finding that we were not retreating, however, the creatures flew up
into the tree once more; and our eyes following them, we saw at least a
score clustered immediately overhead, all ready, no doubt, to devour
the carcass, so soon as those below should give the signal.

It seemed probable that he had tied his horse to the branch above where
he lay, and that the animal had subsequently, when impelled by hunger,
broken the halter.  He had laid his hat on the sward close beside him,
with his watch and silk handkerchief in it, and drawn off his gloves,
which were placed, seemingly with some care, on the edge of it.  He had
then apparently knelt, shot himself through the head, and fallen on his
face across the pistol.  As we approached, the buzz of flies that rose
up!--and the incipient decomposition that appeared on the hands!  We
waited to see the body turned--but the ghastly and shattered
forehead--the hair clotted in black gore--the brains fermenting through
the eyes--the mask of festering and putrifying and crawling matter that
was left on the ground, with the print of the features in
it--Horrible--most horrible!

An inquest was held that afternoon, when the poor fellow was put into a
shell in his clothes, and buried where he lay;--in consecrated ground,
as I have already related.  Some unfortunate speculations in business,
working on a very sensitive nature, had turned his brain, and in a
godless hour he had made away with himself.  But two days before I had
seen him full of fun and gaiety, although possibly the excitement was
not natural, and now!----Alas, poor Jessamy, we had at least the
melancholy satisfaction of shielding your defaced remains from the
awe-inspiring surse pronounced against the Israelites, if they should
fall away after the sinfulness of the Heathen--"And thy carcass shall
be meat unto the fowls of the air, and unto the beasts of the earth,
and no man shall fray them awa."

But time and tide wait for no man; so we had to leave the sad scene,
and proceed on our journey.

      *      *      *      *      *

"I say, uncle," after we had talked ourselves _out_ on the melancholy
affair, "when shall we come into the road?"

"Road--road?  why, if you go _off_ the road, Benjie, you will drop some
five hundred feet, or so, down that precipice, that's all."

"Oh, I see--so this _is the_ road; why, I thought we were strolling
along some short cut of sheep paths and river courses.  Road, indeed!"

We held on, making easy stages of it from one friend's house to
another, until, on the evening of the fifth day from the time we left
Kingston, we were once more safe and snug under our own roof at
Ballywindle.



CHAPTER X.

THE MOONBEAM.

The morning after we arrived, we were sitting at breakfast, talking
over our past expedition, and plans for the future, when two letters
were laid on the table.  The first was to my uncle, and ran as
follows:--


"_Havanna, such a date._

"MY DEAR FRENCHE,

"I sailed from this on the 15th ult., and had got pretty well to the
northward, when it came on to blow like fury, and I was driven back
with the loss of several of my sails, and the bowsprit badly sprung.

"Knowing that I would touch here on my way home, I had desired letters
to be forwarded from England if any thing material occurred, to the
care of Mr M----; and accordingly, on my return, I received one from
our mutual friend Ferrit, of Lincoln's-Inn, informing me of my brother
Henry's death; and what surprised me, after all that had passed, an
acknowledgment of his having been married, from the first, to that
plaguy Swiss girl, Mademoiselle Heloise de Walden.  This makes a
serious difference in my worldly affairs, you will at once see, as the
boy, whom you may remember as a child, must now be acknowledged as the
head of the family.  But as I have no children of my own, and have
wherewithal to keep the old lady and myself comfortable, and had
already left Henry my heir, having as good as adopted him, I am rather
rejoiced at it than otherwise, although he does me out of a baronetcy.
Why that poor dissipated brother of mine should have been so much
ashamed of acknowledging his low marriage, I am sure I cannot tell; as
the girl, I have heard say, was handsome, and tolerably educated.  But
now, of course, the murder is out, so there is no use in speculating
farther on the matter; Ferrit writes me, that the documents
confirmatory of the marriage are all right and properly authenticated,
and he sends me a probate of poor Henry's will, to communicate to his
son, who is now Sir Henry Oakplank, and must instantly drop the De
Walden.

"I have sent letters for him to the admiral; but as the youngster may
fall in your way in the Spider, to which I have appointed him, and in
which he sailed for Jamaica a few days before my return here, I think,
for the sake of your old crony, poor Henry, as well as for mine, that
you will be glad to pay the boy some attention.

"Give my regards to Benjie Brail, if still with you.  I have got a
noble freight on board--near a million of dollars--so, in the hope of
meeting you soon in England, I remain, my dear Frenche, your sincere
friend and old schoolfellow,

"OLIVER OAKPLANK."


The next letter was as follows:--


"_H. M. Schooner Spider, Montego Bay--
  such a date._

"MY DEAR SIR,--I have only a minute to advise you of my arrival here
this morning, and of being again under weigh, in consequence of what I
have just learned of the vagaries of our old acquaintance the Midge.  I
trust I may fall in with her.  I saw your friends, the Hudsons, safe
outside the Moro, on the -- ulto., in the fine new ship, the Ajax.  I
left them stemming the gulf stream with a beautiful breeze.

"I wish you would have a letter lying in the hands of the agents,
Peaweep, Snipe, and Flamingo, in Kingston for me, as I am bound to Port
Royal whenever my present cruise is up.  Yours sincerely,

"HENRY DE WALDEN."


"Aha, Master de Walden--not a word about Mademoiselle Sophie, eh? my
_friends_ the Hudsons indeed! but never mind--I rejoice in your good
fortune, my lad."

That very forenoon I was taken ill with fever and ague, and became
gradually worse, until I was so weak that I could scarcely stand.

Lennox had come up to see me one morning after I had been a week ill;
he informed me that old Jacob Munroe was dead, having left him a heap
of money; and that he was about going down to the Musquito Shore in the
schooner Moonbeam, a shell trader belonging to his late uncle, and now
to himself, as a preparatory step to winding up old Jacob's estate, and
leaving the island for Scotland.  Hearing I had been complaining, a
thought had occurred to the kind-hearted creature, that "a cruise would
be just the thing to set me on my legs again;" and accordingly he had
come to offer me a passage in his schooner.

Dr Tozy was standing by.  "Not a bad notion, Mr Lennox; do you know I
had thoughts of recommending a sea voyage myself, and now since I know
of such a good opportunity, I by all means recommend Mr Brail to
accompany you, unless, indeed, you are to remain too long in some vile
muddy creek on the Musquito Shore."

"No, no, sir, the Jenny Nettles, another vessel of ours, sailed a
fortnight ago, to see that the turtleshell is all ready, so I won't be
eight-and-forty hours on the coast."

"Then it is the very thing."

And so it was arranged.  My uncle drove me down next day to the bay,
and the following morning I was at sea, in the beautiful clipper
schooner, the Moonbeam.  Once more

  "The waters heave around me; and on high
  The winds lift up their voices."


We had been several days out, and were bowling along nine knots, with a
most lovely little breeze steady on the quarter.  I was lounging at
mine ease under the awning, on a hencoop, reading.  There was not a
cloud in the sky.  The sharp stem was snoring through the water, the
sails were critically well set, and drawing to a wish, and the dancing
blue waves were buzzing alongside, and gurgling up through the lee
scuppers right cheerily, while the flying fish were sparkling out in
shoals all round us like glass chips, from one swell to another.  It
was one of those glorious, fresh, and exhilarating mornings in which it
is ecstasy for a young chap to _live_, and which are to be found in no
other climate under the sun.  Besides, I was in raptures with the
little fairy, for she was a beauty in every respect, and with the
bracing air that was hour by hour setting me up again.  While I am thus
luxuriating, I will tell you a story--so come along, my boy.


A NEGRO QUARREL.

We had several negroes amongst the Moonbeams, one of whom, a
sail-maker, was occupied close to where I lay, with his palm and
needle, following his vocation, and mending a sail on deck--another
black diamond, a sort of half-inch carpenter, was busy with some job
abaft of him.  I had often noticed before, the peculiar mode in which
negroes quarrel.  I would say that they did so very classically, after
the model of Homer's heroes, for instance, as they generally prelude
their combats with long speeches--or perhaps it would be more correct
to call their method the Socratic mode of fighting---as they commence
and carry on with a series of questions, growing more and more stinging
as they proceed, until a fight becomes the necessary consequence,
indeed, unavoidable; as in the present case.

The origin of the dispute was rather complex.  There was an Indian boy
on board, of whom more anon; and this lad, Lennox, with a spice of his
original calling, had been in the habit of teaching to read, and to
learn a variety of infantile lessons, which he in turn took delight in
retailing to the negroes; and there he is working away at this moment,
reversing the order of things--the young teaching the old.

Palmneedle appears a very dull scholar, while Chip, I can perceive, is
sharp enough, and takes delight in piquing Palmy.  Chip says his lesson
glibly.  "Ah, daddy Chip, you shall make one parson by and by--quite
cleber dis morning--so now, Palmneedle, come along;" and Palmy also
acquitted himself tolerably for some time.

"What you call hanimal hab four legs?" said Indio, in continuation of
the lesson, and holding up four fingers.  Here I thought of my cousin
Sally.

"One cow," promptly rejoined Palmneedle, working away at the sail he
was mending.

"Yes--to be sure! certainly one cow hab four legs; but what is de cow
call?"

"Oh, some time Nancy; some time Juba."

"Stupid--I mean what you call ebery cow."

"How de debil should I sabe, Indio?"

"Becaase," said Indio, "I tell you dis morning already, one, tre, five
time; but stop, I sall find one way to make you remember.  How much
feets you hab yourself--surely you can tell me dat?"

"Two--I hab two feets--dere."

"Den, what is you call?"

"One quadruped.  You tink I don't know dat?"

"One quadruped! ho, ho--I know you would say so--you say so
yesterday--really you wery mosh blockhead indeed--_dat_ is what de cow
is call, man.  You!--why you is call one omnivorous biped widout
fedder--dat is what you is call; and de reason, Massa Lennox tell me,
is, because you nyam as mosh as ever you can get, and don't wear no
fedder like one fowl--mind dat--you is one omnivorous biped."  Here
Chip began, I saw, to quiz Palmy also.

"Now, Massa Indio," said the former, "let me be coolmassa one leetle
piece.  I say, Palmy, it is find dat you hab two feets--dat you eats
all you can grab," (_aside_), "your own and your neighbours"--(_then
aloud_)--"dat you hab no fedders in your tail--and derefore you is call
_one somniferous tripod_" (at least what he said sounded more like
_this_ than any thing else).  "Now, dere is dat ugly old one-foot neger
cookey" (the fellow was black as a sloe himself), "wid his wooden leg,
what would you call _he?_ tink well now; he only hab _one_ leg, you
know."

"One _unicorn_," said Palmy, after a pause, and scratching his woolly
skull.  But my laughter here put an end to the school, and was the
innocent means of stirring up Palmy's wrath, who, mortified at
perceiving that I considered the others had been quizzing him, was not
long of endeavouring to work out his revenge.  Slow as he might be at
his learning, he was any thing but slow in this.  Palmneedle now took
the lead in the dialogue.  "Chip," said Palmy, "enough of nonsense; so
tell me how you lef de good old woman, your moder, eh?"

Chip, who was caulking his seam, at this laid down his caulking-iron
and mallet, pulled up his sleeve, fidgeted with the waistband of his
trowsers, turned his quid, spat in his fist, and again commenced
operations, grumbling out very gruffly, "my moder is dead."  He had
clearly taken offence, as Palmy evidently expected he would do; but
_why_, I could not divine.  Palmy proceeded in his lesson of "teazing
made easy."

"Nice old woman--sorry to hear dat."  The rascal had known it, however,
all along.  "Ah, now I remember; she was mosh swell when I last see
him--and face bloat--Ah, I feared, for long time, she would take to
nyam dirt at last."

"Who tell you so--who say my moder eat dirt?" cried Chip, deeply stung;
for the greatest affront you can put on a negro, is to cast in his
teeth either that he himself, or some of his near of kin, labour under
that mysterious complaint, _mal d'estomac_.

"Oh, nobody," rejoined Palmy, with a careless toss of the head; "I only
tought she look wery like it--glad to hear it was not so,
howsomedever--but sartain she look wery mosh like it--you mos allow dat
yourself, Chip?"  The carpenter made no answer, but I could see it was
working.  Palmy now began to sing in great glee, casting a wicked
glance every now and then at his crony, who thundered away, rap, rap,
rap, and thump, thump, thump, on the deck, paying the seam, as he
shuffled along, with tobacco juice most copiously.  At length he got
up, and passed forward.  Palmy sang louder and louder.

"Come, mind you don't change your tune before long, my boy," said I to
myself.

Chip now returned, carrying a pot of molten pitch in his hand.  As he
stepped over Palmy's leg, he spilt, by accident of course, some of the
hot fluid on his foot.

"Broder Palmneedle--broder Palmneedle--I am wery sorry; but it was one
haxident, you know."

Palmy winced a little, but said nothing; and the master of the schooner
coming on deck, sent Chip to stretch the sail in some particular way,
and to hold it there, for the convenience of the sailmaker.  Every
thing remained quiet between them as long as the skipper was near, and
I continued my reading; but very shortly, I heard symptoms of the scald
operating on our sailmaker's temper, as the affront had done on the
carpenter's.

Quoth Chip to Palmneedle, as he sat down on deck, and took hold of the
sail, "Really hope I haven't burnt you, ater all, Palmneedle?"

"Oh, no, not at all," drawing in his scalded toe, however, as if he had
got the gout in it.

"Quite glad of dat; but him do look swell a leetle, and de kin begin to
peel off a bit, I am sorry to see."

"Oh, no," quoth Palmy again,--"quite cool, no pain, none at all."

A pause--Palmy tries to continue his song, but in vain, and presently
gives a loud screech as Chip, in turning over the clew of the sail
roughly, brought the earring down crack on the parboiled toe.  "What
you mean by dat?"

"What! have I hurt you?  Ah, poor fellow, I see I _have burnt_ you now,
ater all."

"I tell you I is not _burn_," sings out Palmy, holding his toe hard
with one hand; "but don't you see you have nearly _broken_ my foot?
Why did you hit me, sir, wid de clew of dat heavy sail, sir, as if it
had been one mallet?  Did you do it o' propos?"

"Do it on purpose?" rejoins Chip.  "My eye!  I drop it light,
light--just so;" and here he thundered the iron earring down on the
deck once more, missing the toe for the second time by a hairbreadth,
and only through Palmy's activity in withdrawing it.

At this Palmy's pent-up wrath fairly exploded, and he smote Chip
incontinently over the pate with his iron marlinspike, who returned
with his wooden mallet, and the action then began in earnest--the
combatants rolling over and over on the deck, kicking and spurring, and
biting, and bucking each other with their heads like maniacs, or two
monkeys in the hydrophobia, until the row attracted the attention of
the rest of the crew, and they were separated.

      *      *      *      *      *

I had risen early the next morning, and was wearying most particularly
for the breakfast hour, when Quacco, who was, as usual, head cook and
captain's steward, came to me.  "Massa, you never see soch an a face as
Mr Lennox hab dis morning."

"Why, what is wrong with him, Quacco?"

"I tink he mos hab sleep in de moon, sir."

"Sleep in the moon!  A rum sort of a lodging, Quacco.  What do you
mean?"

"I mean he mos hab been sleep in de moonlight on deck, widout no cover
at all, massa."  And so we found he had, sure enough, and the
consequence was, a swelled face, very much like the moon herself in a
fog, by the way, as if she had left her impress on the poor fellow's
mug; "her moonstruck child;" but I have no time for poetry.  It looked
more like erysipelas than any thing else, and two days elapsed before
the swelling subsided; during the whole of which the poor fellow
appeared to me--but it might have been fancy--more excited and out of
the way than I had seen him since the prison scene at Havanna.

Can it be possible that the planet really does exercise such influences
as we read of, thought I?  At any rate, I now for the first time knew
the literal correctness of the beautiful Psalm--"The sun shall not
smite thee by day, _nor the moon by night_."

We were now a week at sea; the morning had been extremely squally, but
towards noon the breeze became steadier, and we again made more sail,
after which Lennox, the master of the schooner, and I, went to dinner.
This skipper, by the way, was a rather remarkable personage,--_first_,
he rejoiced in the euphoneous, but somewhat out of the way, appellation
of Tobias Tooraloo; _secondly_, his face was not a tragic volume, but a
leaf out of a farce.  It was for all the world like the monkey face of
a cocoa-nut; there being only three holes perceptible to the naked eye
in it; that is, _one_ mouth, always rounded and pursed up as if he had
been whistling, and _two_ eyes, such as they were, both squinting
inwards so abominably, that one guessed they were looking for his nose.
Now, if a person had been set to make an inventory of his physiognomy,
at first sight, against this last mentioned feature, the return would
certainly have been _non est inventus_.  But the curious dial _had_ a
gnomon, such as it was, countersunk, it is true, in the phiz, and the
wings so nicely bevelled away into the cheeks, that it could not well
be vouched for either, unless when he sneezed; which, like the blowing
of a whale, proved the reality of apertures, although you might not see
them.  His figure was short and squat; his arms peculiarly laconic; and
as he always kept them in motion, like a pair of flappers, his presence
might be likened to that of a turtle on its hind fins.

The manner and speech of El Señor Tobias were, if possible, more odd
than his outward and physical man; his delivery being a curious mixture
of what appeared to be a barbarous recitative, or sing-song, and
suppressed laughter; although the latter was only a nervous frittering
away of the fag end of his sentences, and by no means intended to
express mirth; the voice sounding as if he were choke-full of new
bread, or the words had been sparked off from an ill set barrel organ,
revolving in his brisket.

"I hope," said I, to this beauty, "you may not be out in your reckoning
about your cargo of shell being ready for you on the coast, captain?"

"Oh no, oh no,--ho, ho, ho," chuckled Tooraloo.

"What the deuce are you laughing at?" said I, a good deal surprised.
Being a silent sort of fellow his peculiarity had not been so
noticeable before.

"Laugh--laugh--ho, ho, he.  I am not laughing, sir--quite serious--he,
he, ho."

"It is a way Mr Tooraloo has got," said Lennox, smiling.

"Oh, I see it is."

"I am sure there will be no disappointment this time, sir,--_now_,
since Big Claw is out of the way,--ho, ho, ho,"--quoth Toby.

"Big Claw--who is Big Claw?" said I.

"An Indian _chief_, sir, and one of our _chief_ traders,--he, he,
ho,--and best customer, sir,--ho, ho, he,--but turned rogue at last,
sir, rogue at last--he, he, he--left my mate with him, and Tom the
Indian boy, voyage before last--he, he, he--and when I came back, he
had cheated them both.  Oh dear, if we did not lose fifty weight of
shell,--ho, ho, he."

"And was that all?" said I.

"_That was all_--ho, ho, he," replied Toby.

"Your mate was ill used, you said, by Big Claw?"

"Yes,--ho, ho, he."

"As how, may I ask?"

"Oh, Big Claw _cut_ his throat, _that's all_--ho, ho, ho."

"_All_? rather uncivil, however," said I.

"_Very_, sir,"--quoth Toby,--"he, he, he."

"And why did he cut his throat?"

"Because he made free with one of Big Claw's wives--ho, ho."

"So--that was not the thing, certainly; and what became of the wife?"

"Cut _her_ throat, too--ha, ha, ha!"--as if this had been the funniest
part of the whole story.

"The devil he did!" said I.  "What a broth of a boy this same Big Claw
must be; and Indian Tom, I see him on board here?"

"Cut _his_ throat too though--ho ho, ho--but _he_ recovered."

"Why, I supposed as much, since he is waiting behind your chair there,
captain.  And what became of this infernal Indian bravo--this Master
Big Claw, as you call him?"

"Cut his _own_ throat--ha, ha, ha!--cut his own throat, the very day we
arrived, by Gom, ha, ha, ha! ooro! looro! hooro;" for this being a sort
of climax, he treated us with an extra rumblification in his gizzard,
at the end of it.

Here we all joined in honest Tooraloo's ha, ha, ha!--for the absurdity
of the way in which the story was screwed out of him, no mortal could
stand--a story that, on the face of it at first, bore simply to have
_eventuated_ in the paltry loss of fifty pounds' weight of
turtle-shell; but which in reality involved the destruction of no fewer
than three fellow creatures, and the grievous maiming of a fourth.
"_That's all_, indeed!"

By this time it might have been half-past two, and the tears were still
wet on my cheeks, when the vessel was suddenly laid over by a heavy
puff, so that before the canvass could be taken in, or the schooner
luffed up and the wind shaken out of her sails, we carried away our
foretopmast, topsail and all; and, what was a more serious matter,
sprung the head of the mainmast so badly, that we could not carry more
than a close-reefed mainsail on it.  What was to be done?  It was next
to impossible to secure the mast properly at sea; and as the wind had
veered round to the south-east, we could not fetch the creek on the
Indian coast, whither we were bound, unless we had all our after-sail.
There was nothing for it, therefore, but to bear up for San Andreas,
now dead under our lee; where we might get the mast comfortably fished.
We accordingly did so, and anchored there about dusk, on the seventh
evening after leaving Montego bay.

San Andreas, although in reality belonging to the crown of Spain, was
at the time, so far as I could learn, in the sole possession, if I may
so speak, of a Scotchman, a Mr ***;--at least there were no inhabitants
on the island that we heard any thing about, beyond himself, family,
and negroes, with the latter of whom he cultivated any cotton that was
grown on it; sending it from time to time to the Kingston market.

We had come to, near his house; and when the vessel was riding safe at
anchor, the captain and I went ashore in the boat to call on Mr ***, in
order to make known our wants, and endeavour to get them remedied.
There was not a soul on the solitary beach where we landed, but we saw
lights in a long low building that was situated on a ridge on the right
hand of the bay, as you stood in; and in one or two of the negro huts
surrounding it, and clustered below nearer the beach.  After some
search, we got into a narrow gravelly path, worn in the rocky hill
side, like a small river course or gully, with crumbling edges of turf,
about a foot high on each hand, against which we battered our knees at
every step, as we proceeded.

It was a clear starlight night, and the dark house on the summit of the
ridge stood out in bold relief against the deep blue sky.
"Hush--hark!"  A piano was struck with some skill, and a female voice
began the beautiful song set to the tune of the old Scottish melody
"The Weary Fund o' Tow."

This was a startling incident, to occur thus at the world's end.

"Hey day!" said I; but before I could make any farther remark, a full
rich male voice struck in at the chorus--

  "He's far away, he's far away, but surely he will come;
  Ye moments fly, pass swiftly by, and send my soldier home."


We remained riveted to the spot until the music ceased.

"I say, Tooraloo, Toby, my lad; you have not sculled us to fairy land,
have you?"

"Oh no, it is old Mr ***'s daughter, the only white lady in the island
that I know of; and I suppose one of her brothers is accompanying
her--ho, ho, he."

"Very like; but who have we here?" as a tall dark figure in jacket and
trowsers, with a Spanish cap on his head, came dancing along the ridge
from the house, and singing to himself, apparently in the exuberance of
his spirits.

He was soon close to, confronting us in the narrow road, bounding from
side to side of the crumbling ledges of the footpath with the buoyancy
of boyhood, although the frame, seen between me and the starlight sky,
appeared Herculean.

"Hillo, Walpole, what has kept you so late?"

We made no answer, and the figure closed upon us.

"Pray, is Mr *** at home--he, he, he?" said our skipper to the stranger.

The party addressed stopped suddenly, and appeared a good deal
startled.  But he soon recovered himself, and answered--

"He is.  May I ask who makes the enquiry in such a merry mood?"

"Yes; I am the master of the Moonbeam--ha, ha, ha--a Montego bay
trader, bound to the Indian coast, but obliged to put in here in
distress--he, he, ho--having badly sprung some of our spars--ha, ha,
ha."

"Then what the h--l are you laughing at, sir?" rejoined the stranger,
savagely.

"Laugh--laugh--why, I am quite serious, sir--sad as a drowned rat--why,
I am put in here _in distress_, sir--ha, ha, ha."

It was time for me to strike in, I saw.  "It is a peculiarity in the
gentleman's manner, sir, and no offence is meant."

"Oh, very well," said the other, laughing himself, and turning to Toby
once more.  "And this other?" continued he, very unceremoniously
indicating myself, to be sure.

"My passenger--he, he, he!"--said the man, with some discretion, as
there was no use in our case of mentioning names, or being more
communicative than necessary.

"Oh, I see--good-night--good-night."  And away sprang my gentleman,
without saying another word.

"He might have waited until we got time to ask him who _he was_, at any
rate," said I.

"Why," said Toby, "that may be a question he may have no joy in
answering---ha, ha, ha!"

"True for _you_, Tooraloo," said I Benjie.

We arrived in front of the low building, whose windows opened on a
small terrace or esplanade, like so many port-holes.

It stood on a ridge of limestone-rock, _a saddle_, as it is called in
the West Indies, or tongue of land, that from fifty or sixty feet high,
where the house stood, dropped gradually, until it ended in a low,
sandy spit, covered with a clump of cocoa-nut trees, with tufts of
mangrove bushes here and there; forming the cape or foreland of the bay
on the right hand as you stood in.  This low point trended outwards
like a hook, so as to shut in the entrance of a small concealed cove or
natural creek, which lay beyond it, separated from the bay we lay in by
the aforesaid tongue of land, so that the house commanded a view of
both anchorages.

From one side, as already related, the acclivity was easy; but towards
the creek the ground fell away sudden and precipitously; and on the
very edge of this rugged bank the house was perched, like an eagle's
nest, overhanging the little land-locked cave.

There was a group of fishermen negroes in front of the house, talking
and gabbling loudly as usual, one of whom carried a net, while three
others followed him with broad-bladed paddles on their shoulders, as if
they had been pursuing their calling, and were now retiring to their
houses for the night.

"Is Mr *** at home?" said Tooraloo--really I can no longer be bothered
jotting down his absurd ho, ho, he.

"Yes, massa," said the negro addressed; and without waiting to knock,
or give any sign of our approach, the skipper and I entered the hall,
or centre room of the building.

By the partial light proceeding from the open door of an inner
apartment, I could see that it was a desolate-looking place, with a
parcel of bags of cotton piled up in a corner, and lumbered, rather
than furnished, with several skranky leathern-backed Spanish chairs.

Several rooms opened off each end of the said hall, beside the one from
which the light streamed.  The skipper unceremoniously passed on to
this apartment, motioning to me to follow him.  I did so, and found an
old gentleman, dressed in a gingham coat and white trowsers, and
wearing a well-worn tow wig and spectacles, seated at a small table,
smoking, with a glass of spirits and water beside him, and an empty
tumbler opposite, as if some one had been accompanying him in his
potations; while a young lady, rather a pretty girl, seated at a piano,
with some music open before her, was screening her eyes from the light,
and employed, so far as I could judge, in peering down towards the
cove, as if trying to make out some object in that direction.

"Well, father, I cannot see either of them; surely they have put out
all the lights on purpose--not a glimmer, I declare."  Turning round,
she started on seeing us, and rising, left the room suddenly by another
door.

"Who may _ye_ be now?" quoth the old man, rather testily, as if some
recent visitors had not been over and above acceptable, taking his
cigar at the same time out of his mouth, and knocking the ashes off the
end of it against the candlestick.  "Are you any of Captain Wallace's
people?"

"No," said Tooraloo.  "Was that Captain Wallace we met going down the
path just now?"

He gave no answer, but again enquired, in a still more sharp and
querulous tone, "_who we_ were?  Wha the deevil are ye, I say?  Wull ye
no speak?"

"Toby," said I, "out with your ditty, man."  So our situation was
speedily explained to him--that we had bore up in distress, and wanted
assistance.  The issue was, after a good deal of palaver, that he
promised to send his people to lend a hand with our repairs in the
morning.

"But _who was_ the gentleman we met?" said I, repeating Toby's
question, and endeavouring to pin the crusty old gentleman to an answer.

"Indeed, sir," said he, now greatly relieved, as he began to understand
our real character, and the peacefulness of our object--"indeed, sir, I
cannot rightly tell.  He is an American, I rather think, and commands
two Buenos-Ayrean"----

Here some one coughed significantly under the open window.  The old man
looked dogged and angry at this, as if he had said, "What the deuce!
mayn't I say what I choose in my own house?"  And gulping down his grog
with great fierceness, as if determined not to understand the hint, he
continued, speaking emphatically through his set teeth--

"Yes, sir, he commands two privateers at anchor down in the cove there."

The signal was now twice repeated.  It was clear there were
eaves-droppers abroad.  Our host lay back sullenly in his chair.

"Ay! and what kind of craft may they be?"

I scarcely knew what I said, as the notion of the privateers, and of
having gentry of the usual stamp of their crews in such near
neighbourhood, was any thing but pleasant or comfortable.

"A schooner and a felucca, sir," said Mr *** in answer.

Some one now thundered against the weather-boarding of the house,
making every thing shake again, as if a drunken man had fallen against
a hollow bulk-head, and I heard a low, grumbling voice, as if in
suppressed anger.  I could see with half an eye that _this_ had aroused
the old gentleman to a sense of his danger, and made him pocket his
peevishness; for he now _set_ himself in his chair, screwing his
withered features into a most taciturn expression.

"The Midge again," thought I, "by all that is unfortunate!  Oh for a
glimpse of Henry de Walden and his Spider!"

It is the devil and all to be watched--to have the consciousness that
the very stones are listening to you, and ready to fly at your head,
and no armour, offensive or defensive, about you.

A sort of desperation was in consequence coming over me; and I rapped
out, but still speaking so low, that I considered it impossible I could
be overheard by any one without----

"I think I know that same Captain Wallace's voice--I have heard it
before, I am persuaded."

"You have, have you?" said some one outside, with great bitterness, but
also in a suppressed tone.

The exclamation was apparently involuntary.  I started, and looked
round, but saw no one.

"I know nothing of him, as I said before, gentlemen," continued our
host.

At this moment I had turned my face from the open window towards Toby,
to see how he took all this.  A small glass hung on the wall above his
head, in which (murder, I grew as cold as an ice-cream!) I had a
momentary glimpse of a fierce, sun-burned countenance, the lips apart,
and the white teeth set as if in anger, raised just above the window
sill.  It glanced for an instant in the yellow light, while a clenched
hand was held above it, and shaken threateningly at old ***.

I turned suddenly round, but the apparition had as suddenly
disappeared.  It was clear that *** now wished more than ever to end
the conference.

"I know nothing beyond what I have told you, gentlemen--_he_ pays for
every thing like a prince--for his wood, and provisions, and all, down
to a nail."

I was _now_ noways anxious to prolong the conversation myself.

"I don't doubt it, I don't doubt it.  Well, old gentleman, good-night.
You will send your people early?"

"Oh yes, you may be sure of that."

And we left the house and proceeded to the beach, as fast, you may be
sure, as we decently could, without _running_.  We both noticed a dark
figure bustle round the corner of the house, as we stepped out on the
small plateau on which it stood.

Captain Toby hailed the schooner, in no very steady tone, to send the
boat ashore instantly--"_instantly_"--and I sat down on a smooth, blue,
and apparently wave-rounded stone, that lay imbedded in the beautiful
white sand.

"So, so, a leaf out of a romance--miracles will never cease," said I to
Tooraloo, who was standing a short distance from me, close to the
water's edge, looking out anxiously for the boat.  "There is the old
Midge again, Toby, and my Montego bay friend, Wilson, for a dozen--mind
he don't treat us to a second

  Edition of the Ballahoo,
  Dear Toby Tooraloo.

Why, captain, there is no speaking to you, except in rhyme, that name
of yours is so----Hillo! where away--an earthquake? or are the stones
alive here?  So ho, Tobias--see where I am travelling to, Toby," as the
rock on which I sat began to heave beneath me, and to make a strange
clappering sort of noise, as if one had been flapping the sand with wet
swabs.

"Tooraloo, see here--see here--I am bewitched, and going to sea on a
shingle stone, as I am a gentleman--I hope it can _swim_ as well as
_walk_"--and over I floundered on my back.

I had come ashore without my jacket, and, as the skipper picked me up,
I felt something warm and slimy flowing down my back.

"Why, where is my cruizer, Toby,--and what the deuce can that be so
warm and wet between my shoulders?"

"A turtle nest--a turtle nest," roared Toby, in great joy,--and so
indeed it proved.

Accordingly, we collected about two dozen of the eggs, and, if I had
only had my senses about me when I capsized, we might have turned over
the lady-fish herself, whom I had so unkindly disturbed in the straw,
when she moved below me.  We got on board without more ado, and having
desired the steward to get a light and some food and grog in the cabin,
I sent for Lennox, who was busy with the repairs going on aloft, and,
as I broke ground very seriously to make my supper, communicated to him
what we had seen and heard.

I had already in the course of the voyage acquainted him with the
particulars of the ball at Mr Roseapple's, and of my meeting with, and
suspicions of Mr Wilson, and that I verily believed I had fallen in
with the same person this very night, in the captain of a Buenos-Ayrean
privateer.

"A privateer!" ejaculated Lennox,--"a privateer!--is there a privateer
about the island?'

"_A_ privateer!" said the captain of the Moonbeam--"no--not _one_, but
_two_ of them, ha, ha, he--and both anchored t'other side of the bluff
there, he, he, ho--within pistol-shot of us where we now lie, as the
crow flies; although they might remain for a year in that cove, and no
one the wiser, ho, ho, he.--In my humble opinion, they will be foul of
us before morning, ho, ho, he--and most likely cut all our throats, ha,
ha, ho."

Poor Saunders Skelp on this fell into a great quandary.

"What _shall_ we do, Mr Brail?--we shall be plundered, as sure as fate."

"I make small doubt of that," quoth I, "and I only hope _that_ may be
the worst of it; but if you and the skipper think with me, I would be
off this very hour, sprung mast and all."

"How unfortunate!" said Lennox--"Why, I have been working by
candle-light ever since you went away, stripping the mast, and seeing
all clear when the day broke to----But come, I think a couple of hours
may still replace every thing where it was before I began."

Our determination was now promptly taken, so we swigged off our horns,
and repaired on deck.

"Who is there?" said some one from forward, in evident alarm.

It was pitch dark, and nothing could be seen but the dim twinkle of the
lantern, and the heads and arms of the men at work at the mast head.

"Who is there, aft by the companion?"

"Why, it is me, what do you want?" said Lennox.

"Nothing particular, sir, only there are people on the water close to,
ahead of us--take care they do not make free with the buoy."

"Hail them then, Williams, and tell them, if they don't keep off, that
we will fire at them."

"I have hailed them twice, sir, but they give no answer."

We all went forward.  For some time I could neither see nor hear any
thing.  At length I thought I heard low voices, and the dip of an oar
now and then.  Presently I distinctly saw white sparkles in the dark
calm water, towards the mouth of the bay, as of a boat keeping her
station on guard.  By and by, we heard indications of life on the
larboard bow also.

"Why, we are beset, Lennox, my boy, as sure as fate," said I.

"What boats are those?"

No answer.

"If you don't speak I will fire at you."

A low suppressed laugh followed this threat, and we heard, as plain as
if we had been alongside of the strangers, three or four sharp clicks,
like the cocking of strong musket locks.

"Privateers-men, as sure as a gun," said Tooraloo--"oh dear, and they
are going to fire at us, don't you hear?"--and he ducked his pate, as
if he had seen them taking aim.

"I see two boats now as plain as can be," said Lennox.

"Well, well, if you do, we can't help it," said I--"but do take my
advice and stand by to be off the moment there is a breath of wind from
the land, _will ye_?"

All hands were called.  We piped belay with the repairs, secured the
mast as well as we could, hoisted the mainsail, and made every thing
ready for a start; and just as we had hove short, a nice light air came
off the land, as if on purpose; but when in the very act of tripping
the anchor, lo! it fell calm again.  As to our attempting to tow the
schooner out of the bay with such customers right ahead of us, it would
have been stark staring madness.  We had therefore to let go again, and
began to re-occupy ourselves in peering into the night.  The roar of
the surf on the coast, now came louder, as it struck me, and hoarser,
as if the ground-swell had begun to roll in more heavily.

"We shall have the sea-breeze shortly, Lennox, take my word for it--it
is blowing a merry capful of wind close to us out there," said I; but
the _terral_ again sprung up, notwithstanding my prognostication, so we
hove up the anchor, ran up the jib, and the Moonbeam, after canting
with her head to the eastward, began gradually to slide towards the
offing through the midnight sea.  Presently sparkling bubbles rippled
against the stem, and mixed with white foam, buzzed past the bows, as
she gathered way.

Accustomed now to the darkness, we could perceive the boats ahead
separate, and take their stations one on each bow, keeping way with us,
as if watching us.  We had loaded the two carronades with musket-balls,
and had our twelve muskets on deck.  We continued gliding along, and
presently the boats, as if by signal, lay on their oars, letting us
shoot past them, then closed astern of us, pulling a stroke or two, as
if they had an intention of coming up, on either side of us.

"If you come nearer," said Lennox through the trumpet to the boat that
was pulling on the starboard side, "so help me God, I will fire at you."

No answer.  The breeze at the instant took off, and they approached
within pistol shot, one on each quarter, where they hung without coming
any nearer.

"They are only seeing us off, they don't mean to annoy us, Lennox,
after all; so hold on steadily, and don't mind them," said I.

But the zeal of Toby Tooraloo, who had by this time got much excited,
and be hanged to him, had nearly got us all into a scrape.

"You villains, _I_ will teach you," quoth the valiant Tobias, "to
insult an armed vessel--so stand by there, men--give them two of the
carronades"--as if there had been a whole broadside beside.  And before
Lennox could interfere, he had sung out "Fire!"

Bang went both carronades, whisking up the surface of the sea on either
beam into a sparkling foam, the bullets spanking away in flakes of
fire, until they dropped ashore in the distance.  The same low fiendish
laugh was again heard from the boat nearest us; and as if they had only
waited for this very foolish act of aggression on our part, to commence
an attack, one of the boats pulled ahead, and then made right for our
starboard bow.

"Hillo!" said I, thinking the Rubicon was passed, and that our only
chance now, after Tooraloo's absurd demonstration, was to put our best
foot foremost--"Sheer off, whoever you are, or I will show you, my fine
fellow, that we are not _playing_ with you, any how"--and picking up a
musket, I gave them a moderate time to see if my threat would have any
effect.  Finding it had not, I took deliberate aim at the boat, and
fired.

A loud "Ah!" declared that the shot had told.  This was followed by a
deep groan, and some one exclaimed, in Spanish,--"Oh dios, soy muerto!"

"Close and board him," shouted a loud and angry voice, high above
several others, from the same boat--"Close and board him--cut their
throats, if they resist."

At this moment, as old Nick would have it, it fell entirely calm, and
the boat began to approach rapidly; the other threatening our larboard
quarter, so I thought our fate was sealed; but whether they were not
quite satisfied of the kind of reception we might give them, they once
more lay on their oars when close aboard of us.  A clear and well-blown
bugle from the boat where the man hud been hit, now awoke the sleeping
echoes of the bay.  Gradually they died away faint and more faint
amongst the hills.  All was still as the grave for a minute.  "Ha, that
is no reverberation, that is no echo; hark, it is answered by another
bugle from the cove.  Now we are in a remarkably beautiful mess," said
I; "see--see."  A rocket was here sent up by the other boat, and
instantly answered by a steady red light from beyond the clump of
cocoa-nut trees, through whose hair-like stems we could perceive the
little Midge, with her tall lateen sail, stealing along in the crimson
glare like some monstrous centipede of the ocean, and propelled by her
sweeps, that flashed up the dark water all round her into blood-like
foam, as if Old Nick's state barge had floated up red hot and hissing.
A loud rushing noise at the same instant growled down on us from
seaward, and one could perceive a squall, without being a pig,
whitening the tops of the swell, even dark as it was.

"Haul off," sung out the same voice, just as the breeze struck
us,--"Sheer off, and let the scoundrel alone, and mind yourselves--he
will be on the reef close to us here bodily in a moment."

"Thank you for the hint," thought I; "the reef is close to you, is it?"
Tooraloo had caught at this also, so it was about ship on the other
tack; but we soon found it was utterly impossible to work out of the
bay in the darkness, with such a breeze as was now springing up,
ignorant as we were besides of the localities; so it was up helm, for
in order to escape the immediate danger of going ashore on the rocks,
we had no earthly alternative, but the fearful one of running directly
back into the lion's mouth again, and after having pretty well chafed
him too;--indeed, we had the utmost difficulty in getting back to our
anchorage before it came on to blow right in like thunder; and there we
lay on deck through the livelong night exposed to a pitiless shower of
rain, in a state of most unenviable anxiety, expecting every moment to
be boarded and murdered.

Neither the felucca nor boats followed us in, however, so we concluded
they had returned to the cove, as all continued quiet.  But the
weariest _night_ must have an end, as well as the weariest _day_, and
at length the long looked-for morning broke upon us.



CHAPTER XI.

THE BREAKING WAVE.

As the day lightened, the wind fell, and by sunrise, it was nearly calm
in the small bay, although we could see the breeze roughening the blue
waters out at sea.

Presently, Mr ***'s negroes came on board; but before determining what
to do, or proceeding with our repairs, we endeavoured to get out of
them some more information regarding the privateers, to give them no
worse a name, and their crews; apparently, however, they knew nothing
beyond what we were already acquainted with.

"Nice peoples dem--Captain Wallace!  Oh, quite one gentleman--plenty
money--plenty grog--Ah, wery nice peoples," was all that Quashie knew
or seemed to care about--at least all that he would say.

While we were yet irresolute as to the prudence of stripping the mast,
with such gentry almost within earshot, a small dory, or light canoe,
shoved her black snout round the headland on which the cocoa-nuts grew,
paddled by a solitary figure in the stern, with an animal of some kind
or another stuck up, monkey-fashion, in the bow, which, as it came
nearer, I perceived to be a most noble Spanish bloodhound.  I looked
earnestly at the stranger through the glass, and concluded at once that
he could be no other than our friend of the preceding evening.

"I say, Lennox"--he had been standing at my elbow the minute
before--"that's _my_ man--there"--pointing with the telescope.

"Mr Lennox is below, sir," said Tooraloo, "but you are right; it is
_him_, sure enough."

The man paddled briskly alongside, when the bloodhound caught a rope in
his teeth, that was hanging over, and, setting his feet against the
bowpost, held on until his master jumped on board, which he did with
the most perfect _sang-froid_.

"Now for it," thought I; "he is come to tell us _civilly_ that we are
to have our throats cut for shooting one of his beauties last night."

Having deliberately secured his dory, by making fast the painter round
one of the stancheons of the awning, he called to his
dog--"Matamoro--here, boy, here," and saw him safe on board before he
had the civility to make his bow.  At length he turned to me, and I had
_now_ no difficulty whatever in making out my _amigo_ Mr Wilson, in the
identical Buenos Ayrean captain, although he had altered his appearance
very materially from the time I had seen him in Jamaica.  Awkward as
our position appeared to be fast getting, I could scarcely keep my eyes
off the beautiful animal that accompanied him; first, because I admired
him exceedingly; and secondly, because he seemed deucedly inclined to
bite me.  He was as tall as a stag-hound, whose symmetry of head and
figure he conjoined with the strength of the English bull-dog.  His
colour was a pale fawn, gradually darkening down the legs and along the
neck, until the feet and muzzle were coal black.  He gamboled about his
master like a puppy; but the moment any of us spoke to him, he raised
his back into an angry curve, with the black streak that ran down it
bristling up like a wild-boar's, and set his long tail straight, as if
it had been a crow-bar, or the Northumbrian lion's; and then his
teeth--my wig! the laughing hyæna was a joke to him.  But I must return
from the dog to the man.  He was dressed in very wide trowsers, of a
sort of broad, yellow stripped silk and cotton Indian stuff; slippers
of velvet-looking, yellowish-brown Spanish leather, and no stockings;
he wore a broad belt of the same sort of leather round his waist, over
the ample folds of an Indian shawl of a bright yellow colour, with
crimson fringes, the ends of which hung down on one side like a sash;
this was fastened by a magnificent gold buckle in front, worked into
the shape of a thistle.  Through this cincture was stuck, on the left
side, a long, crooked, ivory-handled knife, in a shark-skin sheath,
richly ornamented with gold; while a beautifully worked grass purse
hung from the other, containing his cigars, flint, and steel.  His
shirt was of dark ruby-coloured cotton, worked with a great quantity of
bright red embroidery at the sleeves and throat, where it was fastened
with the largest ruby stone I had ever seen; also fashioned like the
head of the aforesaid Scottish thistle, with emerald leaves, and set in
a broad old-fashioned silver brooch--the only silver ornament he
wore--such as the ladies of the Highland chieftains in days of yore
used to fasten their plaids with on the left shoulder.  It was
evidently an heir-loom.  Vain, apparently, of the beautiful but
Herculean mould of his neck, he wore his shirt collar folded back, cut
broad and massive, and lined with velvet of the same colour as the
shirt, and no neckcloth.

He had shaven his whiskers since I had seen him, but wore a large
jet-black mustache on his upper lip; and a twisted Panama chain round
his neck, supporting an instrument made of some bright yellow hardwood,
highly polished, resembling a boatswain's pipe in shape; the ventiges
inlaid with gold.

His cap, of the same sort of leather as his belt, was richly
embroidered with a band of golden thistles above the scoop, which was
of tortoiseshell hooped in with gold, coming very low down over his
eyes, while the top, like a hussar's, doubled over on the left side of
his head, where it ended in a massive tassel of gold bullion.

He had buff gloves stuck in his belt; and his hands, strong and
muscular, but fair as a woman's, were richly decorated with several
valuable rings.

There had been _one_ alteration in his appearance, however, that I
surmised he would have dispensed with if he could; and that was a
broad, deep, and scarcely cicatrized scar down his sun-burnt cheek.

"My Kingston friend--proof positive," thought I.

I had never seen so handsome a man before, bronzed almost black though
he was by wind and fierce suns--such perfect symmetry, conjoined with
such muscle and strength--such magnificent bodily proportions, with so
fine a face and forehead; and such pearl-white teeth--but the fiend
looked forth in the withering sparkle of his hazel eye.

"The thistle!" said I to myself, as the old Scottish brooch, and the
general predominance of the national emblem in his equipment attracted
my attention; "alas, can love of country, pervading as it is, still
linger in the bosom of a man _without_ a country; of one whose hand is
against every man, and every man's hand against him; _of the Tiger of
the sea_!"  Yes, like the dying lamp in the sepulchre, flickering after
its fellows have long been for ever quenched, whose faint and uncertain
beams seem still to sanctify, if they cannot warm, the gloomy
precincts, where all beside is cold, and dark, and dead;--it was the
last ray of blessed light, gleaming through the mist of surrounding
rottenness and desolation--the last pale halo of virtuous and holy
feeling hovering to depart from off the obdurate and heaven-scathed
heart of the God-forsaken PIRATE.

Unjust--unjust.  There _was another_--a kindlier, a warmer, a steadier
flame, that still burnt sun-bright in that polluted tabernacle--all
worthy of a purer shrine--nor left it until, abreast of the spark of
life itself, it was shattered from his riven heart by the dart of the
Destroyer; and the dark and felon spirit, whirled to its tremendous
account on the shriek of unutterable despair, crushed from him in his
mortal agony, as the dancing waves closed, howling and hissing like
water-fiends, over the murderer's grave.  But let me not anticipate.

From his manner I could not say whether he knew me or not.

"So you have put in here in distress," said he to the master of the
Moonbeam, glancing his eyes upwards, where the people were at work at
the head of the mainmast.

"Yes, sir," said Tooraloo, but before he could get in another word, our
_friend_ was in the main-rigging himself, and near the masthead.

"Eigh, eigh," sung out Palmneedle and Chip, who were helping the
carpenters and riggers aloft, "_what_ dis--_who_ dis?" for the dog was
following his master like a monkey, _yaffing_ and barking, and
sprawling with his feet through the ratlines--so each of the negroes,
seizing a rope, slid down on deck, and with such vehemence, that they
capsized on their backs, cocking up their black trotters in the air,
after a most ludicrous fashion.

"Oh, I see--I see," said Wallace or Wilson, descending, and swinging
himself in on deck with the grace of an Apollo; "masthead badly
sprung--and your chaps seem to be going clumsily enough about their
work too"--(a truth undoubtedly)--"I will send you my carpenter's crew
to lend a hand in securing it."

"Thank you, sir," said Toby, with much the sort of expression and tone
of a contrite culprit thanking the hangman for adjusting the rope.

I was myself cruelly taken aback by such unlooked-for civility, I will
confess.

"But won't you step down and see my owner, sir?  he is in the cabin,"
quoth Tooraloo, in doubt what to _say_ or _do--metre again_.

"Oh, certainly--no objections--but won't you go first, sir?" said he,
with one hand on the companion, and politely indicating the ladder with
the other; cloaking thereby his real object, which was clearly that he
might not be taken at advantage.

Tooraloo and I went below on this, as one needs must go when the devil
drives, and were immediately followed by the stranger.

Lennox was busy with some papers, and stooping down over his open desk,
with his pen crossed in his mouth, when we entered--

"The captain of the Buenos Ayrean privateer, sir," said Tooraloo,
stopping at the door and ushering him in past him--jamming himself as
flat as a flounder against the door-post, as if to prevent even a fibre
of his clothing from touching the other.

Lennox looked up--his eyebrows instantly contracted, his colour faded,
and he became as pale as death.  The pen dropped unheeded from his
lips, while the large law paper that he held in his left hand, in which
he had apparently been writing, trembled like an aspen leaf.--At length
he ground out between his teeth--

"Hast thou found me--O mine enemy?"

"_Found you_," said the other, who had started, or rather staggered
back, equally overcome with extreme surprise apparently, and nearly
capsizing Tooraloo, whose breath he fairly knocked out of his body
against the door-post with a grunt--"_Found you_, Saunders? why if I
have, it has not been in consequence of _looking_ for you, let me tell
you _that_; for of all the unexpected meetings that ever befell me, so
help me God--this is"--

"Blaspheme not, William Adderfang--take not _His_ name into _your_
mouth--you _have_ found me, let that suffice--and am _I_ wrong in
calling _you_ my _enemy--me_!--

"Yes, Saunders--you _are_ wrong--for with little of your _profession_,
and none of your _romance_ and _nonsense_, my boy, I will prove you are
wrong at a fitting opportunity--so there's my hand in the mean time,
man--there's my hand."--Lennox sprang back, as if it had held a
viper--"Heyday," said the other, drawing himself up fiercely--"why I
thought you might have allowed bygones to _be_ bygones at this time of
day--and surely I may cry quits now, after your having scoured your
knife against my ribs, at"----

Here he checked himself, and Lennox, making an effort to resume his
composure, shook Adderfang's hand, but very much as one would shake a
red-hot poker--and then with no very good grace asked him to sit down
to breakfast, which the other instantly did with apparent cordiality;
and a deuced good one he made too, chattering and doing the agreeable
all the while, as if he had been an old and intimate acquaintance come
on board to welcome us on our arrival.  As for me Benjie--I freely
confess that I could not have told whether I was eating biscuit or
blancmange; nay, I verily believe you might have palmed castor oil on
me for coffee, and I never would have noticed it.

"Adderfang--William Adderfang--the seducer of Jessy Miller!" said I to
myself; "here's a coil--the villain who stabbed and robbed me at
Havanna! the master Wilson of Montego bay--the man with the blunderbuss
at Kingston.--Whew!  This devil of a fellow to pounce upon us so
unexpectedly, in an out of the way place like San Andreas too! and with
a couple of whacking privateers, to give them still their genteel name,
with a hundred and fifty neat young gentlemen at the fewest, I make no
question, to back him.  There's a climax of agreeables for you, if he
should recognise _me_ now!  Come, this _does_ account with a vengeance
for the floating notions that crossed my mind at Mr Roseapple's--I was
_sure_ I had seen him before."

Still, notwithstanding these _pleasant_ dreams, I gave in to
circumstances, better than either of my two shipmates, I fancy; for
Lennox could eat but little, and was evidently ill at ease---as for the
skipper he gobbled mechanically--he could not help _that_; but I
noticed that he watched the stranger like a cat watching a terrier,
starting at his every motion; and when he dropped his knife by accident
on the floor and stooped to pick it up, he held his breath until he saw
him at work at the biscuit and cold ham again; as if he had considered
there was a tolerable chance of his giving him a progue with it _en
passant_, just for the fun of the thing as it were.

Gradually, however, I got more at ease, and was noticing the extreme
beauty of his short curling auburn hair, now that his cap was thrown
aside, with a dash of premature grey here and there, like hoarfrost in
early autumn; and the noble ivory forehead, paler by contrast with the
bronzing of his face, and smooth as monumental alabaster while his
fierce spirit was in calm, but crisping in a moment if his passions
were roused, like the ripple on the calm sea before the first of the
breeze; when he rose abruptly and led the way from the cabin.

When we came on deck--Adderfang, or Wilson, or Wallace, or whatever his
name for the moment might be--whistled "loud as the scream of the
curlew," and an armed boat immediately shoved out from under the
mangroves that grew on the small point or headland near the cocoa-nut
trees, and pulled towards us.

"Come," thought I, "he seems determined not to trust too much to our
forbearance either."--The boat approached--it was apparently a very
fast one, pulled by four splendid fellows in neat white trowsers and
blue shirts, and all with cloth caps handsomely embroidered.--They had
their cutlasses buckled round their waists by black belts, and there
were four marines in white jackets, two in the bow and two aft, sitting
with their muskets upright between their knees.--The officer commanding
the boat was a tall sallow young man, very Yankee in appearance,
dressed in a blue uniform coat, and one epaulette, with uniform buttons
of some kind or another, so that altogether I should have taken him for
an officer in the United States navy, had I accidentally met him.  He
came alongside.

"Mr Kerrick"--said Adderfang, who evidently, but from what motive I
could not tell, was most desirous that we should be off from our
anchorage as fast as possible--"send Whitaker and four of his crew from
the Mosca"--this I guessed was the schooner, although I afterwards
found that she was no other than the far-famed piratical Baltimore
clipper, the Snowflake, the terror of those seas--"and see--it is to
get all put to rights aloft there--the head of the mainmast is badly
sprung, you can tell him, and he will know better than any of us what
to bring."

"Ay, ay, sir,"--said his subaltern, and without more ado the boat
shoved off again, not for the point, however, but direct for the beach
under Mr ***'s house, where the officer landed, and the crew, leaving a
boat-keeper on the beach, began to skylark about; but evidently they
had their instructions never to move so far away but that they should
be able to reach their boat again, _before we could_, if we had tried
it.  From their lingo, those youths were all of them either Americans
or Englishmen, probably a mixture of both.

Presently Tooraloo, at his request or command, for although the words
were civil enough, the tone sounded deuced like the latter, put
Adderfang ashore in the Moonbeam's boat; and under the idea that if
there was any danger toward, I ran as much risk where I was as on the
land, I asked to accompany him, so that I might reconnoitre a bit by
the way.  Accordingly, we were walking up to Mr ***'s house, when I
thought I would diverge a little, in order to have a parley with some
of the boat's crew, who I had noticed converged towards their own boat
whenever they saw ours put off; but before I could ask a question, the
officer before mentioned interposed, and with a great deal of mock
civility offered _his_ services, if I wanted any thing.  I had no plea
to avoid him, so I followed Adderfang and Tooraloo to the house.

I now found, when I could look about me in the daylight, that it was
even a narrower tongue of land on which the house stood than what I had
imagined, and that divided the bay where we were, from the narrow
land-locked creek where the two privateers were at anchor.

Where I stood I looked right down upon them--they lay in a beautiful
little basin, with high precipitous banks on the side next me, but with
a smooth, hard, and white beach on the opposite side, at the head of
the creek.  The entrance was very narrow, not pistol-shot across.

Close to the shore, and immediately below me, lay a large schooner, but
I could only see her mastheads and part of her bowsprit and
fore-rigging, as she was moored with her stern towards the high bank,
so as to present her broadside to the opening of the harbour, and her
bows to that of her consort, the little Midge, that lay further off and
close to the shore on the other side of the creek, at right angles with
the schooner, so as to rake her if she had been carried, or enfilade
any boats coming in to attack her.  Both vessels had the Buenos Ayrean
flag and pennant flying; blue, white, and blue, horizontally.

There were sentries along the beach; one being advanced near to where I
stood, who, when I made demonstrations of descending, very civilly told
me to heave about, and _go back again_.  I remonstrated, and said, "In
the island of a friendly power I saw no right that he, or any one else,
had to set bounds to my rambles."

He said he knew nought about _whose_ island it _was_, but he knew what
_his_ orders _were_; "so if I ventured, he had given me fair warning."
With this, he threw his musket across his body, and slapped the side of
it to see that the priming was all right.

"You are very obliging," said I; "but, pray, put yourself to no
inconvenience whatever on my account, as I shall return."  And like the
thief in the hen-roost, I did go "back again."

By sunset that night our repairs were finished, and a message came from
Captain _Wallace_, that he _expected_ we would weigh and be off at
daylight in the morning--a hint that we were right willing to take, I
assure you.

The bearer further said, that he was ordered to leave a small blue and
yellow flag, that we were to hoist, if we fell in with the Waterwraith,
a schooner-tender that he had cruising about the island, which would
prevent her from molesting us.

"Murder!  Are there three of them?--ho, ho, hoo,"--trundled out our
friend, Toby Tooraloo.

When we tried to get the carpenter's crew to take payment as they were
leaving us, they said they were positively forbidden to do so, and
their captain _was not a man to be trifled with_.

"Why, so it appears," thought I.

Lennox was mute and melancholy, but we could not better ourselves, so
at length we retired to rest.  I could not sleep, however, so I was
soon on deck again, where I found both Lennox and Tooraloo before me.

And now it was that a most striking and inexplicable incident occurred.
The voice of the wilderness, every traveller knows, is many-toned and
various; and how often have not mysterious sounds broken on the ear of
the solitary look-out man, in the middle watch, for which he never
could account?  On the midnight tossing of the melancholy main, who has
not fancied a "voice articulate" in the hoarse murmur, and often
wolf-like howl, of the approaching wave?  But listen!

"Do you hear that, sir?" said Lennox to me, so soon as I came on deck.
I listened, and heard a low moaning noise that came off the land,
swelling and dying away on the fitful gusts of the _terral_, like the
deepest tones of an Eolian harp.  It sank and sank, and was just
melting away, and becoming inaudible altogether, when it seemed to
blend into a ponderous and solemn sound, that floated down to us on the
fitful breeze, like the midnight tolling of a deep-toned cathedral
bell, or the gradually increasing tremulous boom of a large gong.

"I do," said I; "and hark--is that a bell?--no, it cannot be, yet the
sound is most like."  Again we all listened eagerly.  But the sound had
ceased, and we were about commencing our pendulum walk on the confined
deck, when once more it came off, and in the very strongest of the
swell, the same ringing sound swung three times over us distinctly on
the night air.  "Who struck the bell there?" I sung out, a good deal
startled--no answer--we all then passed forward; _there was no one on
deck_--"very strange," said I--"what can it be?"

"My dregy,"[1] said poor Lennox, with a faint laugh.


[1] _Anglice_, dirge.


"Davy Jones--Davy Jones--the devil--the devil--the devil--hooro, hooro,
hooro!" quoth Tooraloo.

Whatever it was we heard neither sound again, but they had scarcely
ceased when a small glow-worm coloured spark, precisely like the
luminous appearance of a piece of decayed fish, flitted about the
foretopgallant yard and royal-masthead, now on the truck, now on either
yardarm, like a bee on the wing, during the time one might count
twenty, and then vanished.

"And there goes his worship visibly; why the air must be fearfully
surcharged with electricity to be sure," said I Benjie.  We were all
astonishment--but the plot was only thickening.

"How loud and hollow the sound of the surf is, Lennox," I continued.
"And I have never seen such a strong phosphorescence of the sea as
to-night.  Look there, the breakers on the reef are like a ridge of
pale fire.  Why, here are a whole bushelful of portents, more numerous
than those which preceded the death of Cæsar, as I am a gentleman."

The Dominie did not relish this sort of talking, I noticed.  "It may be
no laughing matter to some of us before all is done, sir."

"Poo, nonsense; but there may be _bad weather brewing_, Master Lennox."

"Yes, sir," responded the poor fellow, speaking very fast, as if
desirous of cloaking his weakness,--"yes, sir, we shall have a breeze
soon, I fear."

"No doubt--no doubt."

"There's a squall coming--there's a squall coming--ho, ho, he"--rumbled
Toby.

"Where--where?"

"There--right out there."

"Poo, poo--that's the reef--the white breakers--eh, what?--why it
moves, sure enough--it _is_ sliding across the mouth of the bay--there,
whew!"--as a blue light was burned in the offing, disclosing distinctly
enough a small schooner standing in for the land, under easy sail,
plunging heavily, and kicking up a curl of white foam on the black and
rapidly increasing swell.  Presently all was dark again, and a
night-signal was made on board of her with lanterns.

"Waterwraith, as sure as can be!" said I; "but why does he bother with
blue lights and signals? would it not be easier to send in a boat at
once?"

"Too much sea on--too much sea on," quoth Tooraloo; "and no one would
venture to thread the reefs and run in in a night like this; so he has
no way of communicating but by signal."

After a little we noticed the small white wreath steal back again like
a puff of vapour, and, crossing the bay, vanish beyond the bluff
opposite the cocoanut trees.

"There--she has said her say, whatever that may have been, and has hove
about again, sure enough."

We saw no more of her that night, and with the early dawn, we were once
more under weigh, sliding gently out of the small haven.

I am sure I could not tell how the little beauty slipt along so
speedily, for the collapsed sails were hanging wet and wrinkled from
the spars, so light was the air; and as we began to draw out into the
offing, and to feel the heave of the swell, the motion of the vessel
made them _speak_ and flutter, the water dashing down in showers, at
every rumbling flap of the soaked and clouded canvass.

The night had been throughout very hot and sultry, the sky as dark as
pitch, and now the day broke very loweringly.  Thick masses of heavy
clouds rolled in from the offing, whirling overhead like the smoke from
a steamer's chimney-stack.  It lightened in the south east, now and
then, and as we drew out from the land, the distant grumble of the
thunder blended hoarsely with the increasing noise of the surf, as the
swell, at one time, surged howling up the cavernous indentations on the
ironbound coast, ebbing, with a loud shoaling rush, like a rapid river
over shallows; at another, pitched in sullen _thuds_ against the rocks,
and reverberated from their iron ribs with a deafening roar, that made
air and sea tremble again.  As we got out of the bay, the growling of
the sea increased, and came more hollow, the noise being reflected from
the land in sounding echoes.

Close to, the waves rolled on in long sluggish undulations; in colour
and apparent consistency as if they had been molten lead; the very
divers that we disturbed on their dull grey surface, ran along, leaving
dotted trails, as if it had been semi-fluid, or as if some peculiarity
in the atmosphere had rendered them unable to raise themselves into the
murky air.

Shoals of sea-mews, and other waterfowl, were floating lightly, and
twinkling with their white wings in the cold grey dawning, as we crept
through amongst them and disturbed them, like clusters of feathers
scattered on the glass-like heaving of the dark water, afraid
apparently to leave the vicinity of the land; every now and then the
different groups would take up in succession a loud screaming, like a
running fire passing along the line, when all would be still again.
Birds that hovered between an English martin and Mother Cary's chickens
in appearance, kept dipping, and rising, and circling all round us; and
the steady flying pelican skimmed close to the tops of the swell, on
poised and motionless wing, as straight as a pointblank cannon shot;
while a shoal of porpoises were dappling the surface to windward, with
their wheel-like gambols.

"What the deuce makes the fish jump so this morning?" said I to Lennox,
as several dolphins sprang into the air ahead of the Moonbeam--"What is
that?"--a puff of white vapour, with a noise for all the world like a
blast of steam, rose close to us.

"The blowing of a whale, sir;" and immediately thereafter the back of
the monster, like a black reef, or the bottom of a capsized launch, was
hove out of the water, and then disappeared slowly with a strong eddy;
his subaqueous track being indicated on the surface by a long line of
bubbles, and _swirling_ ripples, like the wake of a ship cleaving the
water rapidly, always growing stronger and more perceptible as he
neared the surface to breathe again.

"Ah! that accounts for it; there again he rises."

"Yes," rejoined he; "but see how he shoves out into the offing,
although the shoals he is after are running in shore.  As sure as a
gun, he is conscious of the danger of being embayed if the weather
becomes what I fear it will be soon."

"Lots of indications that a close-reefed topsail breeze, at all events,
is not a thousand miles off, Master Lennox," said I.

Out at sea, the swell tumbled most tumultuously; the outline of the
billows seen with startling clearness by the flashes of lightning, on
the verge of the horizon; while nearer at hand, the waves began to
break in white foam, and roll towards us with hoarse and increasing
growls; although the light air that was drifting us out came off the
land, and consequently blew in the precisely contrary direction from
whence the swell was proceeding.  Threatening as the weather looked,
right off the cocoa-nut trees at the point, we perceived a boat, rising
and disappearing on the ridges, and in the hollows of the sea, like a
black buoy.

"So--an ominous looking morning, Toby.  Still, our friends of the blue,
white, and blue bunting, are determined to see us fairly off it seems;
for there is their boat watching us till the last, you see."

"So I perceive, sir," said the skipper; "but if it were not for their
neighbourhood, Mr Brail, I would have recommended Mr Lennox to stay
where he was until the weather cleared; but there is no help for it
now."

The morning wore on.  We were now sliding along shore about a mile from
the beach, and our view down to the westward, as we approached the
southernmost point of the island, began to open.

The higher part of the land was quite clear; the outline, indeed,
dangerously distinct and _near-like_, according to my conception; but
the white clouds that floated over it when we first started, like a sea
of wool, and which usually rise and exhale under the morning sun, had
in the present case rolled off to the southward, and lay heaped up in
well-defined masses, like the smoke of an engagement floating
sluggishly in the thunder-calmed air, close to the surface of the water.

I was admiring this uncommon appearance, not without some awkward
forebodings, when a flaw of wind off the land rent the veil in the
middle, or rather opened an arch in it, at the end of whose gloomy
vista rose the island as a dark background, and suddenly disclosed a
small schooner lying to, so clear and model-like under the canopy of
vapour, that I can compare it to nothing more aptly than a sea-scene in
a theatre.

"Hillo!" said I, "what vessel is that down to leeward there?  It must
be our friend of last night, I take it.  Hand me up the glass, if you
please."

"Where's the small flag--where's the small flag?" sung out Toby.

"Here, sir," said Chip the negro, as he bent it on to the signal
haulyards.

"Then hoist away," rejoined Tooraloo.  "That is the Waterwraith down to
leeward, sir, to a certainty."

"Sure enough," I replied; "I hope he will let us go without overhauling
us.  I am not at all amorous of the society of those gentry--quite
enough of it in the bay yonder, Toby."

The moment she saw us, she made sail towards us, but hove about so soon
as she saw the signal, which she answered with a similar flag, and then
stood in for the land again.

In a minute, the mist once more boiled over her, and she disappeared.

It crept slowly on towards where we lay, for it was again nearly calm,
although the threatening appearances in the sky and on the water
continued to deepen, and was just reaching us, when we heard a
cannon-shot from the thickest of it.

"Heyday--what does that indicate, Lennox?"

"Some signal to the other villains in the cove, sir"--and then, in a
low tone as he turned away--"but to me it sounds like a knell."

Another gun--another--_and another_--"Some fun going on there at all
events," said I.

The breeze now freshened, and the fog-bank blew off and vanished; when
lo! our spectral friend the Waterwraith re-appeared, but on the other
tack this time, about two miles to the westward of us, with a large
schooner, that had hitherto been also concealed by the fog, sticking in
his skirts, and blazing away at him.  In ten minutes they both tacked
again.  They had now the regular sea-breeze strong from the eastward,
and were close-hauled, under all the sail they could carry, on the
starboard tack.

"Confound it," said Lennox, who was now beside me, "we seem to have
dropped into a nest of them--it will be another privateer."

"Then why is she firing at the small one?" said I.

"Oh, some make-believe manoeuvre," said he.

But I had taken a long look, and was by no means of this opinion.  The
smallest vessel, the schooner we had first seen, would evidently go far
to windward of us, but the larger was right in our track; so avoiding
her, if we stood on as we were doing, was out of the question.

"However, better take our chance with this chap out here, than run back
into the lion's mouth," said I.

So we kept on our course, having now got the breeze also, and steering
large, so as to go a-head of the biggest of the two, unless he stood
away to intercept us.  We were beginning to get over our fears, and to
think he was going to take no notice of us after all, and had brought
him end on, when a flash spurted from his bows, and a swirl of white
smoke rolled down to leeward.

"He has fired at us," said I, as the shot hopped along the water close
to us.

"Then hoist away our colours," said Lennox; "let us know the worst of
it at once."

The next shot pitched over the lee quarter, and knocked one of our
hencoops to pieces, unexpectedly liberating the feathered prisoners.
Toby's lingo--for he was now in an ecstasy of fear--became very
amusing.  "Now, men, rouse aft the foresheet, and do some of you catch
that duck.  Clap on the topsail haulyards--mind the capon--topgallant
and royal haulyards also--bless me, the turkey is overboard--why, that
royal is all aback--chickens--topgallantsail is not set at all--both
geese--now a small pull of the boom sheet.  You blood of a
black--female dog"--to Chip, the negro carpenter--"peak purchase; belay
all that--murder! if both the guinea birds are not over into the sea."

"Ha!" said I, "I thought so--there goes the blue ensign and pennant.
He is a man-of-war, thank Heaven!"

"Heave to, captain," cried Lennox.

But just as we had shortened sail preparatory thereto, the schooner
ranged alongside, and, without a word spoken, fired a broadside of
round and grape slap into us, whereby Lennox himself and other two poor
devils were wounded, and our rigging considerably cut up.

"That's the Spider, for a thousand," said I; "but what the deuce can he
mean by firing at us?"

"I can't tell, but I don't think it is the Spider, sir," said Lennox;
"so haul in the sheets, and keep by the wind again, captain--quick man,
quick."  And away we staggered once more, running in for San Andreas on
a bow line as fast as we could split; but the large schooner stuck
close at our heels, firing away like fury, while the little Waterwraith
promptly availed himself of this interlude, by tacking, and standing
off the land again.

"Why, Toby, you and your owner are both mad--what better of it will you
make by running back?"

Lennox had gone below to have his arm bound up by this time.

"You would not have us tack, and get another broadside, sir?  Besides,
look at the weather, sir? even putting the schooner out of the
question," said Tooraloo.

"Ah, as to the weather, _there_ indeed you have some reason."

Toby saw his advantage.  "Surely you would not have us keep the sea in
such a threatening morning, even without such company, sir?"

The prudence of this was becoming every moment more evident, as the
dark waves were now breaking all round us, and the water was roughening
and whitening to windward; it was clear we should have a sneezer before
long.

Thanks to our excellent sailing, we gradually dropped the schooner,
until we were out of gunshot--we were presently up with the island, and
ran in, and once more came-to in our old corner; but the man-of-war
kept in the offing, apparently to reconnoitre.  We found a privateer's
boat at our old anchorage, most like the one that had seen us off in
the morning.  It was coming out with Adderfang himself in it--all his
gay dress thrown aside--he had neither hat nor cap on, nor shoes, but
wore a simple blue shirt, and canvass trowsers; the former open at the
breast, disclosing his muscular and hairy chest, and with the sleeves
rolled up to his armpits.  He was covered with dust and perspiration,
and had evidently been toiling fiercely at something or other with his
own hands.  He was armed to the teeth, as were his boat's crew.

"What brings you back, Mr Brail?" said he, his brows knit, his eyes
flashing fire, his face pale as death, and his lips blue and trembling,
evidently in a paroxysm of the most savage fury; "what brings you back?
and what vessel is that astern of you?  No concealment, sir; I am not
in a mood to trifle."

"She is a man-of-war, captain," at this critical juncture sung out the
tall, sallow man, who had been in command of the boat on the previous
day, from the top of the cliffs, where he had perched himself like on
ugly cormorant, with a glass in his hand.

"I thought so," said the pirate with great bitterness; "I thought so.
Fool! to believe that any thing but treachery was to come from that
whelp!  Walpole--here, men, lend me a hand."

And before we could interfere, he was on board, with four desperadoes
as powerful almost as himself.  I had never witnessed such devilish
ferocity before in any animal, human or inhuman, except in his
worship's dog, who was jumping and foaming about the deck as if he had
been possessed by a kindred devil, or had been suffering under
hydrophobia; only waiting apparently for the holding up of his master's
little finger to lunch on Toby Tooraloo, or breakfast on me Benjie.

"Here, Matamoro, here," roared our _amigo_, indicating the companion to
this beautiful pet, who thereupon glanced down it like a ferret after a
rat; and from the noise below it was clear he had attacked Lennox.
Adderfang and two of his men instantly followed, and presently the poor
dominie, bleeding from his recent wound, and torn by the dog in the
shoulder, was dragged up the ladder, like a carcass in the shambles,
bound hand and foot, and hove bodily into the boat.  I was petrified
with horror.  The poor fellow, in the midst of all the misery of this
his closing scene, gave me one parting look as he passed--one last
concentrated look of the most intense wo.  I never shall forget the
expression: it seemed to say, a thousand times more forcibly than
language could have expressed--"Do you believe what I told you at
Havanna to have been a dream now, Mr Brail?"

The next moment he cried aloud and imploringly to the demon in human
shape, into whose power he had indeed, against all probability, fallen,
"Where are you going to take me, Mr Adderfang?"  The only answer he
gave him was a brutal kick on the mouth.  "I have had no communication
with the schooner in the offing.  Don't you see I am wounded by her
shot?  I have had another blow.  Mind what you do, or you shall repent
this," cried the poor fellow again as they dragged him along.

"Let him go," I sung out, as they were about shoving off.  "Men, stand
by me.  Release him, you murdering villain!  Where would you take him
to, you bucaniering scoundrel?"

"To hell--and mind you don't keep him company--to meet the fate of a
spy! one that has brought an enemy on me, when I was willing to have
forgotten and forgiven.  Let go the painter, sir--let go, I say."

And he made a blow with his cutlass, that missed me, but severed the
rope; and as if the action had lashed him into uncontrollable rage, he
instantly drew a pistol, and fired it at my head.  The bullet flew wide
of its mark, however, but down dropped Toby Tooraloo; while Adderfang
shouted,--

"Shove off, men--give way for your lives--pull."

And in a twinkling the boat disappeared behind the small cocoa-nut tree
point.

"Good God, sir," said Toby, lying flat on his back, where I thought he
had been shot, "what is to be done?  They will murder Mr Lennox."

"Very like; but I thought you were killed yourself, Toby."

"No, sir--no, sir--only knocked down by the wind of the shot, sir--wind
of the shot, sir--ho, ho, hoo!"

"Wind of a pistol bullet no bigger than a pea?  For shame,
Toby!--fright, man, fright."

But we had no time for reflection; for the schooner was now right off
the mouth of the small bay, apparently clear for action.  She was a
man-of-war, beyond all question; and I was still convinced she was the
Spider.  Presently she hauled round the cocoa-nut-covered cape, and
took up a position, so far as I could judge, opposite the mouth of the
creek.  Oh, what would I not have given to have been on board of her!
But this was impossible.

The blue and yellow private signal, that Adderfang had sent us, and
which had been kept flying until this moment, was now hauled down,
close past my nose.

"Spider!--to be sure that is the Spider; and no wonder she should have
peppered us so beautifully, Master Toby, with such a voucher for our
honesty aloft; with this same accursed signal flying, that she had seen
the Waterwraith hoist.  There! the murder is out.  What conclusion
could De Walden have come to, but that we were birds of a feather?"

"Ay, ay--true enough--hooro! hooro! hooro!" rumbled Tobias, sweating
like a pig with downright fear.

Tooraloo and I now hurried ashore in the boat, without well knowing
what to do, and ran to the ridge, to see, if possible, what became of
Lennox.  The boat wherein he was, sheered for a moment alongside the
schooner, the Mosca, apparently giving orders, and then pulled directly
for the Midge, where the people got out, dragging poor Lennox along
with them.

"Heaven have mercy on us!" I exclaimed, shuddering.  "What can they be
going to do with the poor fellow?"

I was not long in doubt; for the moment they got on the deck, the
barbarians cast him headlong down the main hatchway, which was
immediately battened down, and then hoisted in the boat.

The crew of the schooner below me, whose deck, as already described,
was hid by the high bank, were now busy, I could hear, in clearing for
action; and several of them were piling up large stones, and making
fast hawsers from her mastheads to trees at the top of the cliff near
where I stood, that, in the event of her being carried below, it should
be impossible to tow her out,--while the stones would prove formidable
missiles when launched from above.  I also perceived a boat at the
foam-fringed sandy spit opposite the cocoa-nut trees, that formed one
side of the narrow entrance, whose crew were filling bags with sand,
and forming a small battery, with embrasures, for two carronades, that
had been already landed, and lay like two black seeds on the white
beach.

The Spider had by this time tacked, and stood out to sea again,
apparently astonished at the extent of the preparations to receive her.
After a brief space, she hove about, and in the very middle and
thickest of a squall, accompanied by heavy thunder and vivid lightning,
dashed gallantly into the harbour; but just as she came abreast of the
battery, she took the ground--she had tailed on the bank, and hung.
Her masts in a moment flew forward, and bent as if they would have gone
over the bows, the rigging and canvass shaking and flapping
convulsively; but the sound spars instantly recovered their upright
position, with a violent jerk that made every thing rattle again, like
the recoil of two tough yew staves when the bowstrings snap.

"Now, Master Henry, you are in for it," thought I.

This was the signal for the battery to open; but the grape from the
Spider soon silenced it.  However, the broadside of the schooner
beneath me was raking her with terrible effect, I could see; while they
were unable to get a single gun to bear.  At length, by lightening her
aft, her broadside was got round, so as to return the fire; and now the
hellish uproar began in earnest.  For several minutes the smoke, that
rose boiling amongst the trees at the top of the cliff, concealed all
below.  I could neither see nor hear any thing but the glancing spouts
of red flame, and thunder of the cannon; the bright sparkles and sharp
rattle of the small arms blending with the yelling and shouting of the
combatants: but the clearing away of the next squall made every thing
once more comparatively clear.  The battery, I perceived, was again
manned, and galling the Spider most awfully; but just as I looked, a
boat's crew from her stormed it, driving those who manned it along the
sand-bank towards where the Midge lay; and then, having spiked the
guns, returned on board.  The freshening breeze now forced the Spider
over the shoal, and she entered the creek.  Giving the Midge a
broadside in passing, in the hope of disabling her, so as to leave
nothing to cope with but the Mosca; but the sting was not to be so
easily taken out of the little vixen.  Presently the Spider anchored by
the stern, within pistol-shot of the schooner, right athwart his bows,
and began to blaze away again.

The cheers from her increased, and the shouts of the pirates subsided;
but the felucca, which had slipped on being fired at, and warped out
between the Spider and the mouth of the cove, now dropped anchor again,
with a spring on her cable; and from this vantage ground, began to dash
broadside after broadside of round and grape right into her
antagonist's stern, enfilading her most fearfully.

I could make nothing out of what was going on all this time on the
Spider's deck; for although I now and then caught a glimpse of it,
during the moments when the strength of the gale cleared away the
smoke, and could dimly discern the turmoil of fighting men, and the
usual confusion of a ship's deck during a hot engagement; yet the
moment my optics began to _individualize_, as Jonathan says, the next
discharge would whirl its feathery wreaths aloft, and hide every thing
again half way up the masts, that stood out like two blasted pines
piercing the mountain mists.

Hillo! my eyes deceive me, _or_ DOWN _goes the blue ensign on board of
the Spider_!!!  So, fare thee well, Henry de Walden; well I wot, my
noble boy, you have not lived to see it--Strike to pirates!--No! no!
_How_ could I be such a fool?  It is but the peak haulyards that are
shot away, and there goes a gallant fellow aloft to reeve or splice
them again, amidst a storm of round, and grape, and musket balls.  He
cannot manage it, nor can the gaff be lowered, for something jams about
the throat haulyards, which he struggles in vain to overhaul--then let
it stick; for now he slides down the drooping spar, to knot the peak
haulyards _there_.  Look how he sways about, as the gaff is violently
shaken by the flapping of the loosened sail; for both vangs and brails
are gone.  Mind you are not jerked overboard, my fine fellow--murder!
he drops like lead into the pall of smoke beneath, shot dead by the
enemy's marksmen.  Another tries it--better luck this time, for he
reaches the gaff-end, and there the peak rises slowly but steadily into
the air once more, the ensign flashing out of the smoke that had
concealed it, like the blue lightning from a thundercloud, and once
more streaming gallantly in the wind.  Whew! the unfortunate bunting
clips into it again to leeward, vanishing like a dark-winged sea-bird
dipping into a fogbank--the ensign haulyards are shot away--worse and
more of it--down goes the maintopmast next, royal mast, pennant and
all; snapped off by a cannon-ball as clean as a fishing-rod--no fun in
all this, any how--Well done, my small man--a _wee_ middy, in the very
nick, emerges from the sulphureous cloud below, with a _red_ ensign, to
replace the blue one, fluttering and flaming around him, as if he were
on fire.  He clambers up the mainrigging, and seizes the meteor
there--_seizes!_ nay, he _nails_ it to the mast.  He descends again,
and disappears, leaving the flag flaring in the storm from the
masthead, as if the latter had been a blazing torch.

I began now seriously to fear that De Walden was getting too much of it
between the Midge and the schooner, when I saw fire and thick smoke
rise up near me, as if bursting from the afterpart of the latter
vessel; and, at the moment, the increasing gale broke the Spider's
spring, that a shift of wind had also compelled her to use, to keep her
in her station,--so that, from being athwart his hawse, she now swung
with her bows slantingly towards her opponent's broadside, and lay thus
for some time, again terribly galled by a heavy raking fire, until the
men in the Mosca were literally scorched from their guns by the
spreading flames.

I could now see that the pirate crew were leaving her; so I slipped
down near the edge of the cliff, to have a better view of what was
going on beneath, but keeping as much out of the line of fire as
possible.

The schooner's hull was by this time enveloped in smoke and waving red
flames, and her fire silenced; while the Spider, taking advantage of
the lull, was peppering the little Midge, who was returning the
compliment manfully; her broadside, from the parting of the warp, being
by this time opposed to hers.

The crew of the Mosca now abandoned her in two boats, one of which
succeeded in reaching the Midge; while the other made for the shore on
the opposite side of the creek.

Seeing me on the ridge, the rogues in the latter stopped, and faced
about--"Heaven and earth, what is that?"  I was cast down sprawling on
my back.

"What dat is--what dat is, do massa say?" quoth honest Quacco's voice
at this juncture; "Massa no was shee one whole platoon fire at him?  If
massa will keep walloping his arms about like one breezemill, and make
grimace, and twist him body dis side and dat side, like one
monkey--baboon you call--and do all sort of foolis ting for make dem
notice him, massa most not be sorprise if dey soot at him."  And true
enough, in the intensity of my excitement, the strong working of my
spirit had moved my outward man as violently as that of a Johnny Raw
witnessing his first prize-fight.  If my contortions were of any
kindred to those the sable Serjeant illustrated his speech by, I must
have made rather an amusing exhibition.  "Look, if two of dem bullet no
tell in de tree here, just where massa was stand up, when I was take de
liberty of pull him down on him battam; beg pardon for name soch
unpoliteful place before massa."

"Thanks, trusty armourer," cried I Benjie.  But the gale, that now
"aside the shroud of battle cast," blowing almost a hurricane, again
veered round a little, and the Midge was under weigh, near the mouth of
the creek, standing out to sea.

The weather was, indeed, getting rapidly worse--the screaming sea-birds
flew in, like drifts of snow; scarcely distinguishable from the driving
foamflakes.  The scud came past in soaking wreaths, like flashes of
white vapour from the safety-valve of a steam boiler.  Suddenly the
wind fell to a dead calm; not a breath fanned us; not a leaf stirred;
the rain-drops glittered on the pale-green velvet of the ragged, and
ever-twittering, but now motionless leaves of the plantain, like silver
globules frozen there; the reports of the guns grew sharper in the
lull, the cries shriller, and the general tumult and uproar of the
conflict swelled fearfully; while the white smoke rose up, shrouding
the vessels and entire cove from my sight.

The clouds above us, surcharged with fire and water, formed a leaden
coloured arch over the entrance to the cove, that spanned the uproar of
dark white-crested waves, boiling and rolling in smoky wreaths, and
lancing out ragged shreds from their lower edges, that shot down and
shortened like a fringe of streamers, from which the forked lightning
_crankled_ out every now and then clear and bright.

To the right hand, directly over the cocoa-nut trees, these fibres, or
shreds of clouds, were in the most active motion, and began to twirl
and whisk round into a spinning black tube, shaped like the trunk of an
elephant; the widest end blending into the thickest of the arch above,
while the lower swayed about, with an irregular but ponderous
oscillation; lengthening and stretching towards the trees, one moment
in a dense column, as if they had _attracted_ it, and the next
contracting with the speed of light, as if it had as suddenly been
_repelled_ by them, leaving only a transparent phantom-like track of
dark shreds in the air, to show where it had shrunk from.  There, it
lengthens again, as if it once more felt an affinity for the sharp
spiculæ of the leaves, that seem to erect themselves to meet it.  It
almost touched them--flash--the electric fluid sparked out and _up_,
either from the cocoa-nut trees themselves, or through them as
conductors from the sandy spit on which they grew.  I saw it
distinctly; but the next moment the pent gale, as if it had burst some
invisible barrier that confined it, gushed down as suddenly as it had
taken off, and stronger than before.  I was blinded and almost
suffocated by the heaviest shower ever dashed by wind in the face of
mortal man--the _debris_, so to speak, of the vanished waterspout; I
can compare it to nothing but being exposed to the jet of a fire-engine.

A column of dense black smoke, thickly starred with red sparks, now
boiled up past the edge of the cliff under me--presently it became
streaked with tongues of bright hissing flame, which ran up the
rigging, diverging along every rope, as if it had been a galvanic wire,
twisting, serpent-like, round the Mosca's masts and higher spars, and
licking the wet furled sails like boa-constrictors fitting their prey
to be devoured.  See how the fire insinuates itself into the dry
creases of the canvass, driving out the moisture from the massive folds
in white steam; now the sails catch in earnest--they drop in glowing
flakes of tinder from the yards--there the blue and white pennant and
ensign are scorched away, and blow off in tiny flashes; while in the
lulls of the gale we distinctly hear the roaring and crackling of the
fire, as it rages in the hull of the doomed vessel below.  "I say,
Quacco, mind we don't get a hoist, my man--see we be not too
near--there, don't you hear how the guns go off as the metal gets
heated, for there is not a soul on board?"

"Oh dear! oh dear--see that poor little fellow, sir--ho! ho! ho!"
rumbled Tobias Tooraloo, who all this time was lying flat on his
stomach beside me, with his head a little raised, turtle-fashion.  A
poor boy belonging to the pirate schooner had been caught and cut off
by the fire when aloft, and was now standing on the head of the
mainmast with one arm round the topmast, and waving his cap in the most
beseeching manner at us with the other hand--the rising smoke seemed to
be stifling him, at least we could not hear his cries; at length the
fire reached him, when after several abortive attempts to climb higher
up, he became confused, and slung himself by a rope to the masthead,
without seeming to know what he was about--he then gradually drooped,
and drooped, the convulsive action of his head and limbs becoming more
and more feeble; merciful Providence! the flames reach him--his hair is
on fire, and his clothes; a last, strong, and sudden struggle for an
instant, and then he hung motionless across the rope like a smirched
and half-burned fleece.

It never rains but it pours.  "Hark! an earthquake!" and, as if a
volcano had burst forth beneath our feet, at this instant of time the
pirate schooner under the cliff blew up with an explosion that shook
earth, air, and water--shooting the pieces of burning wreck in every
direction, that hissed like meteors through the storm, and fell thickly
all around us.

The Midge, the Midge--she slides out of the smoke!  See! she gains the
offing.

But the Avenger of Blood is behind; for the Spider had now cleared the
harbour's mouth, and was in hot pursuit.  The felucca with her sails--a
whole constellation of shot-holes in them--double reefed, tearing and
plunging through it; her sharp stem flashing up the water into smoke,
in a vain attempt to weather the sandy point.--"Won't do, my boy; you
cannot, carry to it as you will, clear the land as you are standing;
you _must_ tack soon, unless you mean to _jump_ the little beauty over
it."  As I spoke, she hove about and stood across the schooner,
exchanging broadsides gallantly.  "Well done, little one."  The Spider
tacked also, and stood after her--a gun!--another!--both replied to by
the felucca; the musketry peppering away all the while from each
vessel; the tiny white puffs instantly obliterated by the
foam-drift--and now neither fired a shot.

The gale at this moment came down in thunder; all above as black as
night, all below as white as wool.  The Spider shortens sail just in
time--the Midge not a pistol-shot ahead on the weatherbow.  See, the
squall strikes her--her tall lateen sail shines through the more than
twilight darkness and the driving rain and spray, like a sea-bird's
wing.  Mercy! how she lies over!  She sinks in the trough of the
sea!--Now she rises again, and breasts it gallantly!--There! that's
over her bodily; her sails are dark, and sea-washed three parts up.
Look! how the clear green water, as she lurches, pours out of the
afterleech of the sail like a cascade!  Now! she is buried again; no!
buoyant as cork--she dances over it like a wild-duck.  See! how she
tips up her round stern, and slides down the liquid hollow; once more
she catches the breeze on the opposite rise of the sea; her sails
tearing her along up the watery acclivity, as if they would drag the
spars out of her.  Now she rushes on the curl of the wave, with her
bows and a third of her keel hove out into the air, as if she were
going to shoot across, like a flying fish, into the swelling bosom of
the next sea.  Once more she is hove on her beam-ends, and hid by an
intervening billow--Ha!--what a blinding flash, as the blue forked
lightning glances from sky to sea, right over where I saw her
last!--hark! the splitting crash and stunning reverberations of the
shaking thunder, rolling through the empyrean loud as an archangel's
voice, until earth and air tremble again.  She rights!--she
rights!--there! the narrow shred of white canvass gleams again through
the mist in the very fiercest of the squall--yes, _there!_--no!--God of
my fathers!

IT IS BUT A BREAKING WAVE!



CHAPTER XII.

THE END OF THE YARN.

  "For now I stand as one upon a rock,
  Environed with a wilderness of sea;
  Who marks the waxing tide grow wave by wave,
  Expecting ever when some envious surge
  Will in his brinish bowels swallow him."
                                    _Titus Andronicus_.


It was half-past nine in the morning--De Walden and I were seated on
the cliff where I had been shot at the day before.  The only
indications of the spent storm were a line of froth, intermixed with
large quantities of wreck and drift-wood, on the beach, far above high
water-mark; branches of trees strewed here and there, with their
yesterday bright green leaves, now sun-withered and as red and sere as
if they had lain a winter on the ground; and overhead, a clear, cool,
luxurious air and sky.  The hillsides had even become perceptibly
greener in one night's time--in short, Dame Nature had got her face
well washed, and every thing was clean, and fresh, and shining.  The
sea-breeze was roughening the water in the offing, but in the cove, on
which we looked down, all was as yet as smooth as glass.  The
undulations flowing towards the harbour's mouth, occasioned by what I
would call the echo of the ground swell, or the reverberation of the
send of the sea from the rocky beach, were scarcely perceptible; except
from the varying shadows of the banks, and grey clouds, as the plane
from which they were reflected was gently bent by the rise and fall of
the water.  The whole creek was sprinkled throughout its calm surface,
by masses of floating wreck from the Mosca, that sparkled with the
motion of the water, slight as it was, in the slanting rays of the
morning sun; while out to windward, near the entrance, there was a blue
ripple on the sea right in his wake, that prevented us seeing
distinctly what it was, but which I guessed to proceed from the rushing
of fish, at some object on which they were feeding.  As the sun rose,
the dazzle hauled further off, and we then could plainly see three
immense green skinned sharks, tearing at the floating body of a seaman;
every now and then one of them would seize a limb, and drag the carcass
a fathom or so under water--when the second would make a rush, and
seize another limb, and there would the dead body appear suspended
between them, as if it had been standing on its feet and alive; the
jaugle of the water giving the limbs the appearance of struggling.
Then again the third shark, like a dog walking off with a bone from two
others who were quarrelling about it, would seize the trunk, and
back-backing, forcibly drag it away from the others, and make sail with
it across his jaws into the silvery glare, pursued by his mates, when
the whole would once more disappear.

Their whereabouts, however, was still distinctly marked by the wheeling
of half a dozen pelicans; an individual bird dropping every now and
then into the water with a splash; while the lighter gulls and sea-mews
were glancing about in all directions, whistling shrill, and twinkling
with their light wings in the distance like silver butterflies, as they
pounced on the fragments that were disengaged by the teeth of the
monsters in the water.

Several vultures, the large carrion crows formerly described, were
perched on the neighbouring trees, or stalking along the beach, on the
look-out for any waifs that might be cast ashore, as their perquisites.

Sentries were placed along the hillside, with their arms glancing in
the sun, to give notice of the approach of any of the crew of the Mosca
that might have escaped and taken to the woods, should they have the
hardihood to attack any stray Spider crawling about on shore.  His
Majesty's schooner was at anchor beneath us, right in the centre of the
cove, with her sails loose to dry, and her blue ensign and pennant
hoisted, but there was not a breath of wind to stir either.

There were several lines of clothes stretched from different parts of
the rigging, some of the garments deeply saturated with blood.

The crew were busy overhauling the rigging, and repairing the injuries
sustained in the action, their voices and loud laughter sounding hollow
from the water, and echoing amongst the sails, while the long,
silver-clear note, and the short merry chirrup of the boatswain's
whistle, as the water-casks were hoisting in from the launch alongside,
rose shrill above the confused sounds.

All this time the sea-breeze was stealing on, throwing out its cat's
paws, like tirailleurs covering the advance of the main body, eating
into and crisping away the outer edge of the polished mirror of the
anchorage, as if it had been the advancing tide gradually breaking away
the ice of some smooth frozen river.  We could hear the rushing of the
wind before a feather moved near us; by and by there was a twitter
amongst the topmost leaves of the tree under which we sat, and some
withered ones came whirling down, and a dry twig dropped on my hat with
a tiny rattle.  The highest and lightest sails of the schooner began to
flap and shake.

"There comes the breeze, Mr M'Taggart," cheeped a _wee_ mid on board.

"All hands furl sails," was growled along her deck by the hoarse voice
of the boatswain.  "There it comes--haul down the square sail."  Round
swung the Spider, with her topsail, top-gallant sail, and royal all
aback, and her fore and aft sails undulating and rumbling in the
breeze; presently she gradually dropped a fathom or two astern, as more
scope was given her.  "In royal--hands by the topsail, and topgallant
clewlines--fore and main brails;" and the next minute she rode steadily
on the surface of the blue and roughened cove, head to wind, the tiny
wavelets sparkling in the sun, and laplapping against her cutwater;
with every thing snugly furled, and the breeze rushing past her in half
a gale of wind, driving the waves in a small surf upon the beach to
leeward, and roaring through the trees where we sat; while the sound of
the swell, as it pitched against the iron-bound coast, came down
strong, vibrating on our ears like distant thunder.

"It is very awkward to change my name so suddenly," said De Walden, to
whom I had communicated his father's death, and whatever else Sir
Oliver had written to my uncle.  "I believe I shall continue plain Mr
De Walden, until I reach headquarters.  But my poor father--alas!
alas!--what misery he would have saved himself and me, had he but made
this disclosure before.  You know my story but in part, Mr Brail.  My
poor mother always said and believed she was his wife, but he showed me
such proofs to the contrary that I had no alternative but to credit
him.  However, Heaven's will be done--peace be with him."

There was an awkward pause, when, as if willing to change the subject,
he continued--"How absolutely necessary for one's comfort _here_ it is
to believe in a _hereafter_, Mr Brail; the misery that some people are
destined to endure in this scene of our probation--my poor mother, for
instance"----

"Or that most unfortunate creature, Lennox, that perished when the
Midge went down," said I, willing to draw him away from brooding over
his own misfortunes--"what a death."

"Miserable, miserable," said De Walden.

"By the way," continued I, in my kindly meant attempt, "it puzzles me
exceedingly to conceive how Adderfang and his crew did not pillage the
Moonbeam when we were so completely in his power."

"There are three reasons," replied De Walden, "any one of which was
sufficient to have prevented him.  First of all, he was here under the
Buenos Ayrean flag; and as San Andreas must have been a convenient
rendezvous, both from its seclusion and the abundance of provisions to
be had in it, he might be reluctant to commit any overt act of piracy
under Mr ***'s nose.  Secondly, the Devil is not always so black as he
is painted; and, from all we can learn, he was a fearful mixture of
good and evil: and, last of all, and possibly the strongest of the
three, you were scarcely worth plundering, being in ballast--had you
been returning with your cargo of shell, I would have been sorry to
have been your underwriter.  But what an indomitable fellow this same
Adderfang must have been.  You saw how desperately he fought the little
Midge, and how gallantly he carried on her, in his futile attempt to
beat her out of the bay.  I verily believe, from all I have heard, that
he would have fired the magazine, and blown all hands into the air,
before he would have struck.  But see, there goes little Piper and his
boat's crew, with the poor blind girl's body to her long home."

I looked in the direction indicated, and saw a boat leave the Spider,
pulled by four men, with a midshipman in the stern, and a deal coffin
lying along; the flag that covered it having been blown aside.

"Blind?" said I, "a blind girl did you say?" as the scene when I
considered Adderfang on his death-bed at Havanna, suddenly rose up
before me.

"Yes--she was the only thing we picked up when the felucca foundered;
except that devil of a bloodhound, which we had to destroy, in
consequence of his untameable ferocity, before he had been a quarter of
an hour on board; nothing else whatever, animate or inanimate, floated."

"And pray how _did_ she?"

"She was buckled to an oar by this belt," said he, _producing the
identical cincture I had seen Adderfang wear_; "but was quite dead by
the time we saw her."

"That was Adderfang's girdle," said I, greatly moved.

"I guessed as much," continued De Walden.  "Bad as he was he must have
loved _her_ dearly, for his last thought on earth seems to have been
her safety--and no wonder, for she must have been a most beautiful
creature, tall, and elegantly formed, with fine Greek features--such
hair!--alas! alas! what a melancholy ending she has made, poor thing.
I make no doubt that she was the same female we saw in the prison at
Havanna."

"Very like, very like; but I wonder how she came on board?"

"Old Mr ***," rejoined De Walden, "who told me this morning that she
was blind, for from the appearance of the body we should not have found
it out, also informed me that she had shoved out in a small canoe,
manned by two of her slaves, after the felucca was at sea, at least so
Adderfang said; and as several guarda-costas were on the look-out for
him, he had found it impossible to send her back to Havanna again.  But
enough of this poor girl and her misfortunes, Mr Brail; it is time we
were on board."  And accordingly I that day took up my quarters in the
Spider.

The following morning I was invited by Tooraloo, whose heart was like
to break, to repair on board the Moonbeam, in order to be present at
the opening of Lennox's papers.  De Walden accompanied me.

The will was autograph, and from its tenor, the poor fellow seemed to
have had a strong presentiment that his days were not to be long in the
land; at least that he was never again to revisit Scotland.

It purported to have been written after he had been ill on the voyage,
and, amongst other clauses, there was one, leaving my uncle and myself
executors, along with his old father and the clergyman of his native
parish in Scotland.

He left several legacies among his kindred and friends at home; one
thousand pounds to me, a very agreeable surprise; another thousand to
be funded, or _mortified_, I think he called it, to increase the salary
of the parochial schoolmaster of Lincomdodie for ever; five hundred
pounds to Tooraloo; and the residue to his father; failing him, to be
divided in certain proportions amongst the others.  It was in fact an
exceedingly prudent distribution (especially with regard to the L.1000
to myself, you will say), according to my notion; although the idea was
strange of a poor fellow willing away thousands, who had all his life,
with a brief exception, been himself struggling with the most abject
penury.

When I read out Tooraloo's legacy, the poor fellow wept and ho'ho_ed_
after his fashion.  "I give and bequeath to Tobias Tooraloo, the sum of
five hundred pounds."

"Ho! ho! ho!" blubbered Toby; "Currency or sterling, sir?"

"Of the current money of Jamaica."

"Hoo! hoo! hoo!" roared the skipper, whose lachrymose propensity seemed
to increase in the precise ratio of the exchange; L.100 Jamaica
currency being at that time only equal to about L.60 British sterling.

The following day _we_ weighed for Jamaica, and the Moonbeam for the
Indian coast, after having said good-by to old Mr ***, who, we found
afterwards, bore an excellent character; but of course he had to yield
to circumstances in his unprotected condition, whenever a privateer
chose to anchor in his neighbourhood.  He took the precaution, however,
before we left, of arming his head negroes, in case the privateer's
men, who had taken to the woods, should prove troublesome after our
departure, but I never heard that they did so.

Nothing particular occurred until we made the west end of Jamaica.  We
had intended proceeding at once to Port Royal, but seeing a large
vessel, apparently a man-of-war, at anchor in Negril bay, with a blue
flag at the fore, we stood in, and on exchanging signals, were ordered
to anchor, the frigate proving to be the Admiral.

We were both invited to dine on board, and during dinner were nearly
suffocated, by the cook having chosen to roast a jackfruit on a spit
(the vessel riding head to wind), taking it for a bread fruit, to which
it bears a strong external resemblance.

I landed at Negril that same evening, after having taken a most
affectionate leave of De Walden, and proceeded over land to
Ballywindle, where I found my excellent uncle in good health, and
getting along cheerily with his preparations for leaving the island
when the season should be a little more advanced.  He lent me a hand
with poor Lennox's affairs, and the issue was that we presently scraped
together a good round sum to remit to England on this account, there to
await the distribution of the executors.

In the month of March, we left Ballywindle, and I may safely say there
was not a dry eye, black or white, master or servant, that day on the
estate, and proceeded to Kingston, where, after a sorrowful parting
from our warmhearted friends there, we embarked in the packet, and
after a prosperous voyage, arrived at Falmouth.

I found a letter lying for me from my adorable, announcing that the
family were now settled in Liverpool, where it was likely Mr Hudson was
to be permanently domiciled; and I shall not weary the reader with the
dreams of future happiness that floated through my brain that evening,
as my uncle and I, after discussing our red mullet and beef-steak, were
enjoying our bottle of port in that most excellent shop, the Green Bank
hotel.

Next day, we posted across the country to Liverpool, as fast as four
horses could carry us; but neither will I attempt to describe the joy
of our meeting.  Uncle Lathom was quite pleased with my choice,
lamenting over and over again, however, what a pity it was, that she
had not been an _Irishman_.

Here, to while away the time, the old gentleman chartered a pair of
spanking hunters, and took a day now and then with the Cheshire hounds.
One fine, you may call it summer, day, the last of the season, there
was a noble field, and not a scanty sprinkling of Liverpool cotton
brokers.  Some time previous, a London dealer had brought down a batch
of _grey_ horses, that were _too good_ for Tattersall's, in order to
clap the leek, as the Welshman says, into the wealthy
Liverpoolonians--"all real good, well-made hunters, sir."  The fox at
length broke cover in good style, and away we all went at a killing
pace, my uncle leading with the coolness and skill of an old hand.

We came to one or two stiffish jumps, and there was nothing like the
greys; aware that they were marked, from the conspicuous colour of
their horses, the men of the _long_ and _short staple_ rode like
devils, and for a time the Cheshire aristocracy were at a puzzle what
to make of it.

At length we came to a post-and-rail fence, with a deep ditch beyond,
which seemed to be a poser.  "Hold hard," cried Mr Frenche to me, as he
settled himself in his saddle, and gathered up his reins; "hold hard,
Benjie, and let the greys lead."  A tall military-looking personage had
for some time hung on the flank of the Liverpool cavaliers, who, being
strangers, kept pretty well together.  He appeared to be reconnoitering
their horses carefully, with that knowing sort of look as if he had
recognised them to be old friends.

Having satisfied himself, apparently, he winked to a well-mounted
sportsman near him, and reining in a little as they came up to the
fence, he sung out, in a clear, sharp voice,

  "Loud as a trumpet with a silver sound,"

"Halt!"--_Stock-still_, as if touched by an enchanter's wand, on the
instant stood each gallant grey, gathering himself on his haunches, as
he slid several yards with his fore-feet on the moist sward, grooving
out regular ways in the blue clay, as if they had been so many boats
a-launching; and _away_ flew a shower of cotton-brokers, like a volley
of stones from a catapulta, leaving each an empty horse looking at him,
with one exception, where the _raw material_ was accounted for,
sticking on his horse's neck, with an ear in each hand, admiring his
_departed_ friends in the ditch, as the gay field, fifty horsemen at
the fewest, flew over them in a rainbow.

It was now fixed that we were to be married in June, and I accompanied
Mr Frenche to Ireland, in order to pay my duty to my dear old mother,
who was comfortably settled in a nice cottage in the outskirts of
Kilkenny.

It is profanation to touch on such meetings in print, so here again you
must exercise your imaginations, my good people.

We were all most happy; when, two mornings after we arrived, while
sitting at breakfast, the door opened, and a stout vulgar-looking
little man was ushered in, dressed in plush small-clothes, top boots
especially dirty, an old swansdown vest, grey upper coat, tow wig, and
green spectacles.

He made himself known as _Mr Treacle_.  This was the Cork grocer who
had purchased the Ballywindle estate when my grandfather was reduced in
his circumstances, and obliged to sell it.

My uncle and mother, the instant they heard his name, drew up with
probably an excusable feeling of pride, as if they apprehended that the
honour of Mr Treacle's visit had been conferred from a desire on his
part to appear _patronising_ to an old, although reduced family.  So
the meeting at first was somewhat stiff.

"Pray, Mr Treacle, be seated," said my uncle.

"Thank you kindly," said the honest tradesman, feeling very awkward, in
his turn.  "Thank you kindly, Mr Frenche, and, Mrs Brail, your most
obedient.  Welcome back to ould Ireland again, Mr Frenche."  Then, as
if speaking aside,--"I am sure I wish you had never left it."

"Thank you, Treacle," said my uncle; "that's kindly _said_,
anyhow--and"--here he looked the grocer steadily in the face--"kindly
_meant_ too, I do believe--but talking of that _now_ does not signify,
you know--so will you have the kindness to make known to me your
wishes, Mr Treacle, and the occasion of the honour of this visit?"

"Arrah," quoth Treacle, "but it _does_ signify, and a great deal too,
Mr Frenche, for to tell you the honest thrute, I am tired of this
neighbourhood; and what most people might think equally
unpleasant,--the neighbourhood is tired of me."

My uncle looked hard at him, as if he had said, "well, it may be so;
but what is all this to me?"

"I don't rightly understand you, Mr Treacle.  You have got a fine
estate, for Ballywindle is an improving property, if one had plenty of
money to lay out on it, and that I know _you_ have; besides, you have a
great advantage over the former possessors, in being, as I believe, a
Catholic, whereas all the Frenches were Protestants, so I cannot
understand why you should not make yourself popular here."

"Why, sir, I never was popular, as you call it, but I was slowly
sliding into my place, as the saying is, like a cheese along a bar of
soap, for both you and your brother were thought to be poor men, and
lost men, and men who had no chance of ever returning to Kilkenny; and
them are just the sort of articles to get mouldy and forgotten, like a
box of damaged prunes in the back shop, but--and how _they_ found it
out, I am sure I cannot tell"--(my mother smiled here)--"but for these
two years past, I have had hints, and to spare, that although your
_brother_ was dead, _you_ had come alive again, and had bought a large
estate, which, for the honour of Ireland, you had also called
Ballywindle, in Jamaica, where all the cottiers were black negers, and
that you had made a power of money, and had your nephew sent out to
you; he that was the sailor, young Master Brail, her ladyship's Hopeful
there--and that, in fact, if I did not write out to you _my own self_
(oh, murder, to be trated like a swimming pig, and made to cut my own
troat),--if I did not write that you might have the estate again at
prime cost, as we say in Cork, with a compliment (the devil burn them,
with their compliment!) of all my improvements; that"--Here he looked
in my aunt's face with the most laughable earnestness--"Now, what do
you think they did say, my lady?"

"Really, Mr Treacle, I cannot form any conception."

"Why, they said that they would nail my two ears, which were long
enough (at least so said the notice), _to my own hall-door_."

Mr Frenche laughed outright.

"Poo, poo, a vagary of the poor fellows.  Why, you know our countrymen
are fond of a joke, Treacle."

"Joke, did you say?  And was it a joke to fire this sugar-plum into the
small of my back last market day?"  Here he rubbed a part of his body
with one hand, by no means answering the description of the _small_ of
his back; while in the other he held out a leaden bullet.  My mother
drew me into the window, unable to restrain her laughter.  "Oh, you
need not retrate, my dear Mrs Brail, I don't mean to _descend_ to
particulars.  But," resuming his address to my uncle, "was it a joke to
plump _that_ into me, Mr Frenche?  But this is all foreign to the
subject.  One needs must go when the devil drives, so I am come here to
fulfil their bidding, and to make you the _offer_; for the county is
too hot to hold the ould plum-splitter, and the aristocracy too
cold--so between hot and cold, I am sick of it."

Here he turned himself to one side disconsolately, and pulling out his
red bandana, began to wipe the profuse perspiration from his brow.

My uncle and I exchanged looks.  "Now, Misther Frenche, do think of it,
will you?  I am not very discrate in telling you all this, but really I
am so worried, that I am half-dead with anxiety and vexation; more
especially as I have this blessed day got another _hint_."

"No! have you though?" said my uncle, unable to contain himself.

"Indeed and I have, and rather a strongish one, you will allow, Misther
Frenche, after what passed before--there, I got that _billy_ this very
blessed morning handed to me with my shaving water, by an ould villain
that I hired to wait on me, and feed the pigs for an hour every
marning; and who swore might the fiend fly away wid him, if he knowed
from Adam how it comed beneath the jug--there"----

The _billy_ ran as follows:--


"12 o'clock at night--_no moon_!

"TREACLE--You small lousy spalpeen--the _man himself_, ould Lathom
Frenche, and his nevey, young Brail, and that blessed ould woman,
Misthress Julia, are all, every mother's son of them, at this present
spaking in Kilkenny.  So turn out, you ould tief o' the world, and make
room for the _rale_ Ballywindles (you pitiful, mouldy _imitation_),
Orangemen although they be, for _they_ never lived out of Ould Ireland,
when they could live in it.  And show me one of the name who ever
grudged the poor a bit and a sup--so out wid you, Treacle, or you shall
swing as high as _hangman_" (_Haman_, I presumed) "before the mont be
done; like one of your own dirty farthing candles, which a rushlight
overshines like the blessed sun a pace of stinking fish.

"Your servant till death--that is, till _your_ death, if you don't
behave yourself like a jontleman, and do the bidding of

"CAPTAIN ROCK.

"_To the nasty little grocer, Treacle,
  (who has no right) at Ballywindle._"


"Really," said my uncle, laughing, "this is very honest of you,
Treacle, but I have no intention of buying back the old place.  So,
good-by--go home, and be a little kinder to your poor neighbours, and
no fear of you--good-by."

"Go home, did you say?--go home?--and that's what I will do, Master
Frenche, this blessed day--but to the ould shop in Cark, to my nephew
Thady behind the counter _there_.  But if ever I darken a door of
Ballywindle again, unless on the day of sale, with the mounted police
on the lawn, and the footers in the hall, may"----Here he clapped his
hand on his mouth, as if to stop the oath that trembled on his tongue.

"Why, Treacle, I _have_ made some money--but if I _would_, I _could
not_ repay you your purchase money.  So"----

The grocer caught at this.--"Ah, there I have you--if the money be the
difficulty, it is a bargain already, by the powers.  I will leave all
the money on it if you choose, sir--and at four per cent--there, now."

To make a long story short, before that day fortnight, Ballywindle
opened its once hospitable door again to a Frenche--to the last of the
name, in a long line of owners.

At length the day of execution arrived, and I was happily married;
after which, as if we had been guilty of something to be ashamed of, we
split away the same forenoon down the north road, as fast as four
horses could carry us.

Our route lay towards Mr Hudson's recently inherited estate in
Scotland, which lay contiguous to the village where poor Lennox's
friends resided, and I therefore took this opportunity of fulfilling my
duty as executor.

We arrived at the end of our journey, as happy as people usually are in
our situation, and had scarcely passed a few days in seclusion when the
county folks began to call; and amongst others, old Mr Bland, the
parish _minister_, and his nephew, paid their respects.  I soon found
that my fame had preceded me, and that I had become the lion of
Lincomdodie from the intertwining of the strands of my personal history
with those of the _ne'erdoweel callant_ Adderfang, as he was always
called, and of poor Saunders Skelp, whose father now suddenly became
the richest inhabitant of the village.

I was extremely glad to see the good old clergyman after what I already
knew of him from poor Lennox's "Sorrows;" besides, he, along with his
nephew, were two of the Dominie's executors, and I now took the
opportunity of denuding myself of the charge and devolving it on them,
who were much more competent to manage it, from their intimate
knowledge of the parties, and residence on the spot.

Soon after this, my dear old mother, my uncle, and the Hudsons, with
Richard Phantom, Esq., whose friends, although respectable, were poor,
and easily persuaded to part with him, joined us; and Mr Hudson's
beautiful seat was a scene of great gaiety for the remainder of the
summer.  At length we all returned to Liverpool; and, some time after,
our party tore themselves from their dear friends, and we removed with
my uncle to our house, situated about half-a-mile from Ballywindle; for
the old gentleman, as a climax to his kindness, had purchased a
beautiful small estate, close to his own, with which he presented us on
our wedding-day.  He and my mother occupy the family-mansion of
Ballywindle; and, to tell the truth, my wife and I are more there than
at home.  As for Dicky, the old man has corrupted him altogether, and
he is his constant companion on his little Irish pony.  He speaks with
a stronger brogue even than my uncle--at which the latter is so
delighted, that he has sunk L.1000 in the name of the little fellow; so
that, when he comes of age, he will have a comfortable nest-egg to
depend upon.

Sir Oliver has now his flag, and commands at ----; and De Walden, Sir
Henry Oakplank--I beg his pardon--soon after the action already
related, was made commander, and eventually post.

He was recently ordered home, and allowed to call at Havanna, and to
give Mademoiselle Sophie and Monsieur Duquesné a passage in his ship;
but he somewhat infringed the letter of the admiral's license, by
converting Mademoiselle Duquesné into Lady Oakplank before embarking.
They paid us a visit immediately after being paid off, on his arrival
in England, and are now rusticating in Switzerland, on a visit to his
ill-fated mother's relations.

My excellent cousin, Dick Lanyard, after having attained the rank of
commander, married a rich widow with a good piece of land in
Devonshire, and as she could not dispense with him, he left the
service, and now lives ashore happily, under the wing of his loving
mate, who, knowing the misery and inconvenience of losing one good
husband, seems determined to take mighty good care of this one.

Old Davy Doublepipe has inherited a goodly sum of money from Alderman
Sprawl, a kinsman of his, and is now the master of a fine London ship
in the Jamaica trade, as kind to his passengers, from all accounts, as
he used to be to his brother officers and shipmates.

I frequently hear from my Jamaica friends, who are prosperous and
happy, and Listado, the boisterous Listado, has, contrary to all
expectation, so far subsided, and settled down, as to take Mr M****'s
place in the management of the business at Havanna, and from all I can
learn his heart is none the worse of his disappointment.  As for Massa
Quacco, he at once installed himself as butler, without thinking it at
all necessary to ask any questions.  He certainly takes more liberty
with me than any other servant, and makes his remarks very
freely.--"Ah, massa, lucky for you, you touch in dat river wid de
leetle felucca."

"As how, Master Quacco?"

"Oh! you would never hab know what it was to have so good a sarvant if
you had not--but ater all, dis gooder countree more as Africa, if
people only would speak Englis, such as one gentleman can onderstand;
and de sun could be persuade to sine upon him sometime--Ah! almost more
better countree as Jamaica, so I bery well content to take my rest in
him."

      *      *      *      *      *

  "Give me back, give me back, the wild freshness of morning,
  Its tears and its smiles are worth evening's best light."


So sang Master Thomas Moore, and so singeth Benjamin Brail; albeit the
_burden_ he beareth is any thing but mellow.  But chant as we may,
until our most sweet voices be hoarse, as that of the croaking raven,
we cannot bring back one minute of our existence.

Possibly you may know this, if you are a sharp fellow, without my being
so oracular; but, friend, if you are not bat-blind, it will evince to
you that although the time has arrived when we _must_ part company,
still I am loath to belay, and coil down myself, or to let go and chuck
the end of the line to you, even when I have no excuse for holding on
any longer.

But let us be pathetic--so get out your bandana, and prepare to blow
your nose most touchingly.

Since the last of the events recorded in the preceding pages occurred,
many a long year has slid away.

The hair that was then dark and clustering, has become thin and
grizzled--although, what is it to you, whether I am bald or wigged?
The arm that was strongly knit and vigorous, is now weak and
trembling--for which you don't care one farthing.  The spirits, then so
light and elastic that they danced half in air, in the merry breeze and
jocund sunshine, over every happy undulation of the clear smooth swell
of early life, are now dead and water-logged, like a swamped buoy that
has been staved by the rough weather we all must look to meet
with;--never to float again.  My _Nelly_ was then Miss Helen Hudson, a
happy laughing girl; she is now a little sharp-visaged anxious matron;
her daughters growing up around her, and budding into womanhood, and
her boys (for she has brought me a whole bushelful of small Brails),
glorying in the exuberance of glee incidental to the spring of life,
like so many young _what-do-ye-call ums_; for I am in a hurry to get
done--and have no handy simile for the nonce.  "Master Brail!  Master
Brail! you had better copy the parish register at once."  Patience, my
dear boy--Patience, we shall not long cross each other, for we are now
about bearing up finally on our separate courses.

Many of the friends I have lived amongst and loved, and whose
heartstrings were in turn wound around me, have dropped, one by one,
like seared leaves in autumn, into the narrow-house, whither we are
all, at sea or on shore, fast journeying.

As for me Benjie, when bowling along with all the canvass I could
spread (sometimes more than I could well carry), before the cheerful
breeze of prosperity, a sudden gust has, more than once, blown my
swelling expectations out of the boltropes into ribbons, proving, by
sore experience, that here below it is not a trade-wind; and not sudden
squalls only, severe for the moment, but soon over; my strained bark
has often been tossed by rough and continuous gales, so that, more than
once, I have hardly escaped foundering.  Periods of sickness and
languishing have not been wanting, wherein the exhausted spirit has
faintly exclaimed in the morning, "Would God it were evening!" and at
evening, "Would God it were morning!"

For many a weary day, and restless night, Death himself--and how much
more appalling his aspect _here_, than when faced manfully in open day,
with the pulses strong, and the animal spirits in brisk circulation,
amidst a goodly fellowship of brave companions!--yea, Death himself
hath shaken his uplifted dart over his prostrate victim from out the
heart-depressing twilight of a sick-room; yet the hand of the grim
feature was held, that he should not smite.  And, oh! who can tell the
misery and crushing disappointment of the soul, awaking to the
consciousness of a dangerous illness, from feverish and troubled
sleep--such sleep as the overworked mariner sinks into, his lullaby the
howling of the storm, and roaring of the breakers, even when his vessel
is on the rocks, with the tumbling seas raging in multitudinous ebb and
flow amongst their black and slippery tangle-capped pinnacles, and the
yeasty foam-flakes, belched from their flinty caverns, falling thickly
on his drenched garments--sleep, wherein, most like, he meets the
friends of his youth, who have long gone before him to their account,
and wanders in imagination with them (all his recent sufferings and
actual danger, for a brief but blessed moment, utterly forgotten)
through the quiet valleys and happy scenes of his boyhood, never to be
by him again revisited--sleep, from which he is only roused to all the
horrors of his actual situation by the gritty rasping of the shattered
hull as it is thundered down with every send of the sea on the sharp
rocks, the groaning of the loosened timbers, the crashing and creaking
of the falling masts, the lumbering and rasping and rattling of the
wreck alongside, entangled by the rigging and loose ropes, that surges
up in foaming splashes, as if chafing to break adrift, and the cries of
his shipmates--and thus wrenched from Elysium, to find himself "even as
a man wrecked upon a sand, that looks to be washed off next tide?"
_That_ can he; and although his riven vessel has for the moment been
hove off the rocks, and rides clear of the reefs and broken water to
leeward, it may be by the mere reverberation of the ground-swell,--yet
he knows his only remaining cable is three parts chafed, and that,
although he may hang on by the single strand for an anxious day or two,
part it must at last.

However, it has pleased Heaven, even when the weather was at the worst
and darkest, and the wind raging at the loudest, and the mountainous
seas at the highest, to break away, and lance forth a beam of blessed
sunshine, which, breaking on his soul, might comfort him.

But, in such a situation, when the breezing up of the first gale may be
his last,--and no one can tell how long the gleam of fine weather will
continue,--every man must regard his past life, if he thinks at all, as
at the best but a feverish dream, and endeavour to prepare for the
inevitable issue of his anxiety and dread with the calmness and
self-possession of a reasonable and accountable being; keeping a bright
look-out for the life-boat of our blessed Religion, which all, sooner
or later, will be convinced affords the only sure means of escape, even
although it be seen glancing at first but as the seamew's wing in the
distance, amidst the obscurity of the horizon and dimness of the spray
and mist; yet, if anxiously hailed, and earnestly watched, it will
infallibly sheer alongside at last, when the fearful cry of "She parts,
she parts!" gushes high above the turmoil of troubled thoughts within,
and save all who have put their trust in it.

"And why this gloomy ending to a merry tale?"

Grudge it not, shipmate; but bear with me a brief moment still.  We
begun in jest--we have ended in earnest--fit type of human life.  We
have had a long cruise and many a good laugh together, and now we find
leave-taking is not joyous.  But call it not a gloomy ending: solemn it
may be, and indeed has unwittingly become; but surely not unfitting, on
that account, the close of a work that has been the chief solace of a
long illness, and which, whenever it beguiles the tedium of a
sick-couch to a suffering brother, shall, in attaining that end, have
fully accomplished the desire of him who now bids all hands, kindly and
respectfully,


FAREWELL.



END OF VOLUME TWO.



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





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